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Letters for the Week of March 19

Readers sound off on victim discrimination, dismissal of gay priest at Newman Hall, and Oakland's new city administrator Fred Blackwell.


"Unfair Discrimination Part One: Victim Discrimination," Feature 3/5

Denying Basic Rights

Thanks to writer Sam Levin and the Express for this article. With so much media attention on prison expansion, gangs, and crime, we rarely get to read about the real, live human beings who get swept up in a confusing, punishing, and unjust system. Whether it is discriminating against victims of violence because of race, gender, criminal background, or perceived gang affiliation, or continuing to punish and label people after they have done their time, this is a catch-22 that continues to deny people their basic civil and human rights as community and family members. People like Samantha Rogers and Ruben Leal have every right to be supported in healing from violence. Thanks for bringing their stories to light.

Pam Fadem, Berkeley

A Victim Is a Victim

A crime victim unable to receive financial aid is clearly a reoccurring issue. Why is there even a Victim Compensation program if these people are not entitled to the help? We have all these programs that claim their mission is to help victims and ex-criminals get back on their feet, but don't act on their intentions.

If the program is funded through the restitution fees of the offender, why aren't they entitled to a reasonable amount of financial aid and resources as in California law? The funding system of the Victim Compensation program undergoes the same process as civilians investing their tax dollars into social security to receive their retirement funds.

A victim is a victim when one's well being is harmed by another. Unfortunately, morals and ethics are out of the question in regards to special cases. The program is solely based on policy. I thought programs were put in place for moral incentives, to help the community. What purpose do government compensation programs serve when they do not fulfill their initial intentions? Is there a way to embed the practice of practical wisdom into legislation?

Nika Pinitpan, Richmond

"Gay Priest Ousted by Conservative Bishop," News, 3/5

A Church for Everyone

Excellent article. I felt that it was fair and balanced. If you have never been to Newman Hall you can't imagine the atmosphere of helping others in their religious journey as well as helping the homeless. People say that Newman is too progressive. Strange, but I am a conservative and I love it here. It is a church for everyone. It will be interesting if Bishop Barber ever responds to our church. I doubt it and that is a shame, and it sure doesn't help my faith in the Catholic Church.

Charles R. Bogle, Berkeley

Watch Language Before God

I won't comment on the body of the text, but the headline "Gay Priest Ousted by Conservative Bishop" is first of all not consistent with the information in the story itself. Secondly, as the Diocesan communications person Michael Brown said, the Diocese had no knowledge of Fr. Edens' sexual identity, and that therefore the bishop did not base his decision on this matter. Oh, yes, the "conservative" label is never established (and surely a fairly flabby label in our political world), simply asserted. Cardinal Newman, a wonderfully nimble theologian of the 19th century and from whom "Newman" in Catholic campus ministries derives, once said, "a theologian needs to watch his language before God." A rather high standard for any profession, but one we can strive for, however clumsily.

Bernard J. Campbell, Pastor, Holy Spirit-Newman Hall Catholic Church, Berkeley

"Congressman Eric Swalwell Puts Donor's Daughter on Payroll," News, 3/5

A Company Man

The San Francisco Chronicle basically force-fed Swalwell to voters, and here's the result. Pete Stark wasn't a company man, and Swalwell is. In today's Democratic Party, that's all that matters.

John Seal, Oakland

"Progressives and Sports Fans Will Like Fred Blackwell," Seven Days, 3/5

Gets the Deal Done

Fred Blackwell is a man who can get the deal done, but with integrity. Without him, Oakland would not be getting thousands of good jobs under the Oakland Army Base development. We will all be well-served by this appointment.

Doug Bloch, Teamsters Joint Council 7, Oakland

Respectful Relationship

Your statement that "The city's labor unions — except for the police union — couldn't stand working with her ..." with regards to former Oakland City Administrator Deanna Santana is not correct. IAFF Local 55, Oakland firefighters, had no problems with her, and we enjoyed a cordial, mutually respectful working relationship.

Daniel Robertson, President, IAFF Local 55, Oakland

"The Cost of Not Selling Alcohol," What the Fork, 3/5

Depends on the Restaurant

I guess it depends on the type of restaurant you are planning. I go out to eat in casual, local restaurants several times a week and I rarely order alcohol. I don't see many other people ordering it either. Thai, Vietnamese and casual Chinese food places don't seem to serve much in the way of alcohol. I go to places like Easy Creole, Homeroom, Smokey J's BBQ, Au Coquelet, Gregoire, and Saul's. Some of those serve beer and wine, but I don't see them as critically dependent on it. There are high-end places that make money from a high-end wine list, and pizza places that serve as both restaurants and bars, but I have seen plenty of places where drinking a few glasses of wine is not expected in order to make a profit.

Chris Stehlik, Berkeley

"Hydrogen Fuel Raises Safety Hazards," Eco Watch, 2/26

Poor Energy Solution

As your report states, transporting very flammable hydrogen on our roads is a serious hazard, and as the loads increase so will the accidents. I would like to point to additional reasons why hydrogen fuel is a poor energy "solution." Hydrogen may be an attractive fuel when considering the lack of pollution during combustion, but the energy costs of production and transportation of hydrogen more than cancel out the benefits. Also, the costs of building the infrastructure will come out of taxpayer money, while the companies that own and use that infrastructure will be able to set hydrogen fuel prices to protect their profits, like the oil and gas corporations we depend on now.  

What's the alternative? Driving on sunshine. We have driven an electric car (Toyota Rav4EV) for almost 12 years (driving over 100,000 miles practically maintenance free) and we derive the electricity from solar panels on our roof. The automobile companies are finally coming out with a new generation of electric cars, including plug-in hybrids. While it is great to see more electric vehicles on the road, to be truly energy-efficient they need locally generated clean electricity. Therefore the state needs to put more resources into solar panels on rooftops (not arrays in the desert), and give less money — and publicity — to hydrogen.  

Mary Luckey, Oakland


Due to a typographical error, our March 12 Eco Watch, "Quan's 10K Plan Is Eco-Friendly," misstated the number of homes Oakland property owners lost due to foreclosure during the recession. It was about 14,000 — not 1,400. 

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