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Letters for the week of June 17, 2015

Readers sound off on diversity in the arts, protest regulations, and software disputes.

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1. Make a real effort to identify and hold accountable those engaged in vandalism. I believe most city officials and the police are doing the best job they can.

2. Help businesses that were harmed. What a beautiful solution. Metal roll down doors and unbreakable windows? The city to compensate businesses that were vandalized? We have more important issues facing us, such as business development to create Oakland jobs, more police, programs to clean up the city, etc. If Rebecca wants to give away money then she should collect it from a friend and supporters, whom the city forgave for over $250,000 in taxes owed and then the city awards him a new contract? How do you do business with someone who has ripped off the city, has lost court cases, owes workers about $1 million, and is very involved in Oakland politics? I'm sure campaign contributions have nothing to do with it!

The point of all this is we should have all our politicians working together at election time and then get on with it! Example: The Warriors work together and see where they are going!

Marty Frates, Oakland

Protest Crowds Can Be Dangerous

Sure, ask the public to share photos, help identify the vandals — easier said than done. I was in the crowd but was terrified to take a photo of the person ten feet away from me smashing a window at the corner of Piedmont Ave and Broadway. Don't want to think about what might have happened had I whipped out my phone at that moment. Moments before, the crowd was cheering on the torching of a car in the used car lot. Groupthink can be dangerous, and it was that night. Kaplan, please explain how this is supposed to happen.

Robin Dean, Oakland


"Broken Windows or Broken Lives?" Opinion, 6/3

Schaaf Is Right

"Protesting" at night and taking to streets is counterproductive and a cover for inciting riot and an open endangerment of citizens' safety. Being in harm's way, and in an auto's right of way, unpermitted at night, for any cause is ridiculous.

I do not support your view, Rachel Lederman, and refuse to be hostage to this First Amendment hypocrisy. Have you read the internal bigoted emails of SFPD or followed the results of previous Police Chief Anthony Batts and his tacit endorsement of "rough riding?" Maybe you should target those causes. I personally am cautiously optimistic with OPD and Mayor Libby Schaaf's tactics and applaud a rational solution.

Jeff Winemiller, Oakland

Lederman Is Right

Kudos to Rachel Lederman and the National Lawyers Guild for being there for protesters for all these years. (Like back when I got arrested in 1982 with 1,000 others at Livermore Lab protesting its development of nuclear weapons.) The mayor's edict is so disappointing on so many levels and I think Lederman's quote here is prescient: "Banning protest may seem a quick fix, but is not worth the cost to taxpayers or the cost to democracy."

Karen Hester, Oakland

Schaaf and Lederman Are Wrong

Rachel Lederman writes, "It is telling that Mayor Schaaf reserves her ire for broken windows." It's equally telling that Lederman thus chooses to trivialize that concern (as if police misconduct, some of it in faraway places, could somehow be construed as an excuse for trashing Oakland and deliberately stunting its renaissance). Her attitude verges on keeping the vandals in reserve as a sort of blackmail — and reeks of a hard-leftist contempt for the so-called "petty" bourgeoisie.

Libby Schaaf wasn't elected to keep Oakland poor. I only wish she had more sense when it comes to tactics; on that, perhaps she should defer to Rebecca Kaplan.

Kaplan's recommendations regarding the vandals would be hard to pull off (and the usual suspects would undoubtedly bridle over the surveillance), but such a policy is well worth a try.

There's no sense in belittling anger over the vandalism, nor in belittling (and thereby inflaming) anger among the demonstrators. More to the point, you don't protect businesses by moving the crowd onto the sidewalk. What was Schaaf thinking?

Mitchell Halberstadt, Oakland

The Express Is Wrong

It seems like the Express doesn't understand that its audience is already liberal and progressive in every way. They can't be outflanked from the left. They don't believe that protesters in Oakland are being repressed, that the First Amendment is being trampled on. Sorry, this rhetoric is out of touch and presumptuous. The Express is headed toward irrelevancy in the political arena.

David Cohen, Oakland


"Software Dispute Could Imperil Oakland's Budget," News, 6/3

Open Source Software Is the Answer

Thanks for reporting on this story. Complex software systems are incredibly important to the functioning of local governments, which typically make themselves wholly dependent on private vendors. Essentially, the brains of city operations are being privatized, with all the misaligned incentives and corruption that this entails.

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