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Letters for the Week of March 5

Readers sound off on Oakland's rent control law, private security patrols, and OPD's new compliance director.


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It's not a question of choosing between protecting lives versus property. It would never have come down to that if officials had managed the police and social programs at least as well as just average US cities with similar demographics do. That pitted affluent residents against poor residents fighting for the attention of a dysfunctional OPD.

Len Raphael, Oakland

"Walking in a Farmer's Boots," Letters, 2/26

Scourge on Ecosystem

Since the author of the article didn't do it, I have to respond to Dan Errotabere's letter asking for sympathy for Westlands farmers and pretending that they're not doing anything wrong environmentally. From an environmental perspective, the Westlands Water District and the farmers who benefit from it are probably the strongest and most environmentally destructive force in our state.

While one can easily empathize with people who have grown up farming where they live and therefore think that doing so is normal and okay, it's quite obvious that the western San Joaquin Valley should never have been farmed due to its lack of water. Mr. Errotabere writes that if those of us who want to prevent the great ecological harms that farming has done to the delta by sucking out water were successful, our food would have to be grown in other countries. This is ridiculous. The problem is the west side of the San Joaquin Valley, not the entire valley or the Sacramento Valley, where much produce is grown. Furthermore, many of these crops are grown for export. And finally, we advocate for the perfectly logical idea that water-intensive crops should be grown where water is abundant, not in the dry west where they do much damage by sucking water out of ecosystems, water that is needed by the species that live in those ecosystems.

As if Mr. Errotabere's advocacy of Westlands' farmers environmentally harmful taking of water weren't bad enough, he follows his defense of this harmful practice by lying about Jerry Brown's proposed Peripheral Canal II. This proposed canal would have the potential to take much more water out of the delta than is currently taken, and therefore would take much more water eventually, probably very soon after being put into use, which is already far too much. Yet Mr. Errotabere says that the efforts of Westland farmers to support the canal are a "seven-year-long effort to restore the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta's ecosystem." This lie would be laughable if not for the immense harm that the canal will do if it is built. The fact is that Westlands farmers are nothing but a scourge on the delta ecosystem. If Westlands were eliminated from farming, the delta would be exponentially better off.

We all have to eat and since none of us are hunter-gatherers and most don't grow our own food, we have to rely on farmers and farming to live. But the fact that farmers work hard is no excuse for destroying our native ecosystems to make a buck. Our current agricultural practices — from pesticide use to sucking ecosystems dry — are extremely environmentally harmful, and need to be stopped. The first thing we should do is to take the Westlands land out of agricultural production, which as "California's Thirsty Almonds" showed, is already being done to a small extent. That, along with prohibition on growing water-intensive crops and growing crops for export, would go a long way toward restoring our sick delta ecosystem.

Jeff Hoffman, Berkeley

"Robert Warshaw Needs to Clean House at OPD," Seven Days, 2/19

Establishment Is Responsible

The ultimate responsibility for the long-standing failures of OPD lies not with outside experts like Warshaw. The responsibility lies with the Oakland political establishment — the mayor and the city council — who steadfastly refuse to dig into the problems, to understand them, to build a plan for dealing with the problems, and to follow through. Yes, it's Quan and her predecessors and her cronies and her would-be replacements like Councilmember Libby Schaaf who really can't be bothered to deal with our difficult realities.

As for the "mass exodus" former Chief Jordan supposedly mentioned, it's not going to happen — it has been happening for a very long time. Oakland's sworn police officer attrition rate is very high and loses us sixty cops a year. Again, the responsibility of a "don't know, don't care" downtown establishment.

Michele Ocla, Oakland

Hope Change Is Near

Great article. It's nice to read about someone such as Robert Warshaw who is firm about reforming the Oakland Police Department. He isn't there to make friends with the officers' union, or be a nice guy to other officers, he is doing what he is supposed to do and that's cleaning up the corrupt police department. He also doesn't seem like the type of person to take sides, whether it be with civilians or officers. He appears to be the type to do what is morally right by opposing racial profiling and suspect abuse. I think it's a great feeling to know that with him in this position, inappropriate officers may feel the need to either clean up their act or leave. I'm sure being an officer is not an easy job, but there are many who abuse their power. I wish Mr. Warshaw well in his efforts and hopefully for us, change is near. Good read.

Gregg McMillion, San Pablo


In our February 26 theater preview, "Entertaining Violence," we misspelled the last name of playwright Steve Yockey. And in our February 26 music story "Negativland Samples Itself," we misspelled Jon Leidecker's name. Also, we incorrectly stated that Richard Lyons is involved in the group's current live lineup. It's actually Leidecker. Also in our Insider's Guide story "Boutique With a View," we misstated the role of Shantelle Brumfield. She is a colleague, not a business partner.

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