News & Opinion » Letters & Guest Essays

Letters for the Week of August 19, 2015

Readers sound off on the housing crisis, racial profiling on BART, and police funerals.


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There are a lot of people still working hard to retain the good parts of Ex'pression. It's a shame the author didn't mention that.

I guess negativity is just more interesting.

Laura Talon, Oakland

"The Last Days of Latino Old Oakland," What the Fork, 7/29

Goodbye, Oakland

Oakland is no more. Fruitvale, San Antonio, and Eastlake are the next immigrant neighborhoods to fall.

Andy Nelsen, Oakland

It's Sad

I remember eating at La Borinqueña when I used to go to Laney College and brought my friends there. My mom remembers when they lived close to it in the projects in the early Fifties. I have brought my own family here several times to eat and we are all sad that it is closing. It is has been a part of our family for years!

Mary Catheryne Torrez-Watson, Bremerton, Washington

"Will Oakland Protect and Expand Affordable Housing?" News, 7/29

Cities Make It Too Difficult to Build Housing

Oakland does not create anything. The private sector creates housing. The misguided policies of the do-gooders destroy the efforts of the private sector to create housing. Both San Francisco and Oakland have seen enormous increases in rents largely because both cities make it very difficult and expensive for the private sector to create new housing. Rent laws discourage the private sector from creating new housing units. Only an increase in supply of housing units will create "affordable" housing. Authors, like the one of this article, create nothing, build nothing, contribute nothing but hot air. Such authors contribute to the lack of new construction, fewer units, and increased rent.

Jerry Udinsky, Oakland

"For the Kids," Opinion, 7/29

It's Too Late

The writer should really do some more reading on climate change. Hint: it's already happened and whatever we can do positively now will have little effect on the problems our children and grandchildren will face, unfortunately.

The problem is also not local or statewide. It really has to do with industrial society as a whole and the fundamental nature of an automobile-dependent consumer society.

And there are not any real technical fixes, either — electric cars or solar panels won't do it.

The real solutions lie in cultural, political, and behavioral change. We refuse to use bicycles or walk and insist on doing everything in a car. We've refused to do any land-use planning so that most working folks don't live near where they work and so must commute — mostly in cars. We've refused to invest sufficiently in public transit; in fact, we've been disinvesting for half a century.

An interesting take on where we are at now is Elizabeth Kolbert's Sixth Extinction.

Read it and weep.

Hobart Johnson, Oakland

"Forced Into the Arms of the Rich," Raising the Bar, 7/29

It's the Unions' Fault

This article is as bloated as the Greek public sector. It's funny that Mr. Youngdahl would cite that country as an example of the evils of collective bargaining reform, without mentioning that Greek public employees make significantly more than their private sector counterparts or the fact that the Greek retirement age is five years earlier than that of the German taxpayer who is bailing out Greek pensioner.

But what's most striking is Youngdahl's logic — that if you cannot force union members to pay their "fair share" dues, unions will be forced to cozy up with wealthy donors. I'm not sure if Mr. Youngdahl realizes how this logic is such an indictment of the public sector unions themselves.

If you can convince wealthy donors to part with their money to support unions, why can't the union convince all its union members to pay their "fair share" union dues when it is benefiting the union member themselves? Youngdahl writes, "The leaked papers showed that labor advocates were forced to work on strategies to convince the wealthy of the benefits of unionism." In other words, in order to get money from donors (or anyone for that matter), once must convince these donors of the benefit.

As Mr. Youngdahl correctly points out, behind every negotiation, both parties must operate under the principle of mutual benefit. Public sector unions, rather, operate under the principle of reaping the most amount of benefit for the least amount of sacrifice. The public sector union leaders maintained their grip on union members by only focusing on what is owed to the unions, ignoring outright any sacrifices the unions must make to the public. This narrow view on one's own self-interest has been ingrained into the public sector employees mind by its leadership, and is the reason you cannot trust the union members to pay their "fair share." It is the unions' own undoing.

Clarence C. Johnson, Oakland

"As Californian as Scotch Eggs and Tasso Ham," Dining Review, 7/29

Why Feature Meat-Centered Restaurants in a Drought?

Considering that California is still in a drought, it would be lovely if the Express did its part by not featuring meat-centered restaurants. It's as if the Express exists in a space bubble, separate from Earth. The reality is: We are all in this together. People still eat meat and they still drive cars and that's pretty much why we're in the mess that we're in now.

People also smoke cigarettes, but that doesn't mean that you glorify it, just because people are doing it. I know you're trying to be fair and balanced in your reporting, and that's honorable, but the reality is that if the journalists have their heads in the sand, we're all screwed. Just sayin'...