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Letters for January 19

Readers sound off on our music criticism, eminent domain, and the Birdland Jazz Club and Multi Culti Grill.


"Go Live in Boise," Letters, 1/5

I'd Like to Stay in Oakland

It's very nice of Eric Kolacek of Alameda to appoint himself as arbiter of Oakland criticism, but as an Oakland resident for the past thirty years I don't need his approval.

I am older white man whose family has been seriously impacted by black crime and sociopathology here in Oakland.

Obviously there are blacks who are as outraged about this fact as we are and there serious stupid-ass white leftists who bend over backwards to make excuses for so-called "people of color" (talk about condescending terms.) 

There are also many former Oaklanders who left our not-so-fair city because of the ongoing crime and general pathology.

As far as illegals go, we should emulate the Mexican government, which routinely deports illegal Guatemalans from southern Mexico — actually millions over the years with no protest from the open-borders nutcases up here.

Why should we have to move to Boise to live in a safe environment?

Michael Hardesty, Oakland

Check Yourself

For anyone who might have been confused or misled by Erik Kolacek's letter, I'd like to set the record straight. If, by reducing Boise to a "crap Teabag militia town," Kolacek means to say that everyone in Idaho's capital city of 400,000 is an armed, white racist uber-conservative, then he is wrong. My family is only one example of a racially integrated, liberal-to-radical group of peace-loving Idahoans. Like Oakland (which I've happily called home for three years now), Boise has its "warts." However, generalizing about groups of people you've never met based on ignorant assumptions sounds like bigotry to me, Mr. Kolacek. It's also a really lousy way to foster productive dialogue. So maybe you, too, should "STFU and keep your bigoted opinions to yourself." Or better yet, check out the local weekly paper ( and educate yourself, to counteract your persistent case of xenophobia.

Gretchen Jude, Oakland

"Sweatin' to the Oldies," Music, 1/5

Ageist Criticism

Nate Seltenrich would be out of a job if it wasn't for fans' enthusiasm, at any age! My husband and I were angered by his sneering ageist attitude in his review of the Cracker and Camper show.  Most of the music industry is barely making it.

We've both been working in music most of our adult lives and Nate's damned lucky he can go to any concert for free. We couldn't afford to go this year, and yeah, we work for a living, I don't feel "fancy free" either. We're ... gulp, fifty and over, should we kill ourselves now? Have we sinned — allowing ourselves to age and LIKE music? Are we "worker bees" not supposed to go to concerts?

 I guess Nate won't be going out when he hits the big fifty or so himself, "Too Old," "you had to be there in the Nineties"? Like there's nothing good as of ... yesterday? His frequent references to age outline his hostilities. And ya, we don't care if people "can tell" we're having a good time! We don't feel an adolescent pressure to snipe about those around us. Nate's lucky we live in the Bay Area where it is thought to be okay to be yourself ... at any age. Oh, yeah, isn't it also people over fifty who continue to fight in the streets and go to jail to keep the Bay Area honest? Nate's too self-occupied with being fresh to consider the history of the people around him that he's slagging.

And the word "hipster" is older than anyone here, by the way; it's from the Fifties Beat poets. Oh, but they're so over — they're dead, they don't contribute anything to modern poetry? Bone up on musical history, dude.

Vivienne Luke, El Sobrante

"Profiting From Eminent Domain," News, 1/5

The Hahn Side of the Story

I represent the Hahn family and I wanted to correct you on some of the mistakes that you have written publicly about my family. Let's go back in time to 1988 when my father Alex Hahn operated the Acorn Shopping Center. He purchased the center for $1.9 million and at that time there was a 60 percent vacancy rate. My father Alex Hahn managed to fill the Acorn Shopping Center by 1990 to 100 percent no vacancy with national brand tenants such as KFC and Pizza Hut. Five years later we sold the Acorn Center back to the City of Oakland. A certified appraiser valued the property at $4.3 million, the City of Oakland offered $2.9 million. There was not much profit in this deal as your article suggested.

Let's go to the Sears eminent domain case of 2004. I need to remind you that the City of Oakland used eminent domain not necessarily for public use, but to retain the Sears Tire Center to make way for Forest City; the auto center is not even been built yet. Essentially, the forthcoming tire center is still a parking lot that Sears holds the entitlements to. My father and uncle were exercising their rights in defending themselves under constitutional law as an investor in Oakland, Calif., which bears the same legitimacy and rights as any community activist, artist, homeowner, a corporation, or a restaurateur whose business is thriving in Uptown. Alex Hahn purchased the two parcels in hoping to build a mixed-use complex. Therefore, half of our property was given to Sears at fair-market value dictated by the city but as a result of this eminent domain case we lost our ability to develop the site and our ability to sell at a higher price to a private developer or company that would have wanted to purchase the site. My family settled with the City of Oakland two years later, accumulating legal expenses in the amount of $100k and paying the tenant the remainder of their lease for $60k. I do remind you, prior to the settlement there was a real estate boom in Oakland, because of the proactive market rate urban infill development plans from the past Honorable Mayor Jerry Brown. If we retained the property without the first eminent domain proceedings the Hahns could have sold it for a much higher value than the settlement amount with the city. Since you also mentioned the Kwikway, I wanted to also the point out the fact that even Chip Johnson of the SF Chronicle stated that the Hahns had a case against the Oakland Planning Commission which could have cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, but did not pursue. The Hahn family chose to work with the community.