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Chris Killingsworth, Morgan Hill
"Pensions Aren't the Only Problem," Seven Days, 6/13
Solution or Stopgap?
1. "Public employee pensions" come in different formats. CalSTRS participants, for example, contribute 8.5 percent of their pay to the plan, and their employer (the community college district) contributes another 8.5 percent, with the states only contributing 2 percent. This is instead of participating in Social Security, where participants and employers contribute 6.2 percent of their pay, each. Public employees do pay for their pension benefits.
2. If a government were to switch to a 401k-like plan for all new employees, what funds would the pre-existing employees be paid from? The whole idea of the plan as it is now is that current members' contributions pay for retired members' benefits. Government was under obligation to put away pre-existing members' contributions but it did not. Switching new members to a 401k-like system will kill the source of cash for all already-earned benefits for pre-existing members (that are guaranteed by the state Constitution) and will put the government in a big deep hole effective immediately, for a long time. How is this a solution?
Maria Ku, Oakland
"The Combustible Element in Emilie," Theater Review, 6/13
I've never written one of these letters before but feel compelled after reading your review of Emilie at Berkeley City Club. I know all reviews are merely opinion but I couldn't disagree more with yours. I feel that this is a very fine and moving production, and it was given extremely short shrift by your narrow review. You are so smug in your dismissal of this play that I almost felt as though we saw two completely different shows. The night I was there the place was crackling with energy, the audience engaged and laughing loudly. At play's end many were in tears. Could it be you were totally unmoved by this work?
Richard Sorenstein, Berkeley
"High Times Medical Cannabis Cup Comes to Richmond," Legalization Nation, 6/13
The Straight-Face Test
I fully believe that marijuana has legitimate medicinal value. However, this position is not well served by a "Cannabis Cup" competition complete with parties and musical acts. Simply tacking the word "Medical" onto "Cannabis Cup" does not really pass the straight-face test. The Cannabis Cup is obviously more akin to a beer or wine competition aimed at connoisseurs of their respective favorite intoxicants. Have you ever seen a competition and festival celebrating the most primo ACE inhibitor for controlling high blood pressure?
Carrie Wipplinger, Oakland
"Do Your Research," Letters, 6/13
Two to Tango
A note in defense of Rachel Swan, who reviewed my CD, El Norteamericano que Canta Tango and got what traditional tango-cancion is all about. She is at least familiar with the King of the Tango, Carlos Gardel, and the genre. Sadly, there is a huge gulf between tango singers and tango dancers in the Bay Area that I find hard to breach.
My first appearance at a milonga in the US will be in Minneapolis, July 3 as my offers to sing free in the Bay area have gone ignored, as have my full-page review in El Clarin, Argentina's most-read daily; invitations to appear this fall at Julia Doynel's milongas, appearance on Radio Nacional Argentina in 2010; and at least two more radio shows in Buenos Aires coming up. Frankly, I expected more support in the Bay Area.
I would hope that others in the Bay Area will give me and other singers a chance, for it's not just a dance, but a treasure trove of melancholic, bittersweet songs. Rachel's article ["Do You Speak Tango," Music, 5/30] is welcomed. It has given the Bay Area tango community, through its letters and comments, a chance to promote both dance and song. Tango is having a worldwide resurgence. The rebirth is now and not just tango. All arts are exploding in Argentina.
John Iverson, Berkeley
"Paris on My Mind," Restaurant Review, 6/6
Heart and Soul
Hmm, haven't had the eggs at Café Clem, only at La Note, where they are perfectly scrambled. But I do love the ambience at Café Clem, and I didn't leave over a crumb of the grilled cheese on my plate. And Dorothee has put her heart and soul into Café Clem; there is a lot to be said for that.
Susan Sholin, Albany
I have eaten breakfast at Café Clem several times and I could not disagree more about the eggs. I think they taste wonderful and so does my picky-eating twelve-year-old son. The presentation with the salmon curled up to look like a flower is charming and delicious. I recommend the breakfast to all my friends.
I agree that La Note's breakfasts are stellar, but the quaintness and the egg dishes of Café Clem makes up for not being able to order the famous pancakes.
Kathleen M. Crandall, Berkeley
Snow White and the Huntsman, Movie Review, 6/6
Just suffered through this turkey and couldn't agree more with this review. I wasn't the only one in the audience to find herself laughing at scenes not intended to be funny. There was no spark between Snow White and either of her suitors, not to mention Snow's charge to the castle looked like bad Monty Python or something from Medieval Times. Waste of a perfectly good two hours.