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Letters for the Week of March 7, 2012

Readers sound off on Occupy Oakland, Desley Brooks, and Rob Bonta.

1 comment

"Cop Identified in Scott Olsen Incident," News, 2/22

OPD Out of Control

Wow. How is it possible for a man to kill three human beings in the course of three years, cost the city at least half a million dollars in wrongful death settlements, and be rewarded with a plum assignment?

Is there any accountability at OPD?

John Seal, Oakland

The Police Are the Problem

We had all kinds of trouble before the Riders case. Since then we've seen Raiders' games, anti-war protests, and the Oscar Grant protests bungled (at the most generous) and yet, now we try to blame the problems on Occupy?

Don Macleay, Oakland

"Oakland Has a New Sheriff," Seven Days, 2/22

Do Your Job

As a native Oaklander and a devout reader of the Express, I have, on occasion, questioned the objectivity of your articles. But I've never been compelled to write to the editor until now.

Your article on Vice Mayor Desley Brooks and her launching the Digital Arts and Culinary Academy is extremely jaded and subjective. While I do not purport to know the nuances that surrounded the acquisition of the property and subsequent development of the academy — and neither should you — your article provides the reader with the impression that Brooks is simply a rogue councilmember building a state-of-the-art center for inner city youths without any checks and balances or city oversight. This assumption is totally preposterous and is quite ill-conceived. The article purports that the academy was the vice mayor's "pet project," and that it was built in secret for the advancement of Vice Mayor Brooks' personal agenda. If you were doing your job and reporting the story rather than providing innuendos and inferences, you would recognize that characterizing the academy as such intentionally skews the facts. In reality, the academy and its inception neither were anything but private. I have seen flyers all over town advertising the academy and witnessed the instructors at numerous events recruiting students — not to mention just last week while watching KTOP (the city's public-access television station), I saw an advertisement for the Digital Arts and Culinary Academy. Wow, if Brooks was attempting to be secretive about the academy, she sure wasn't doing a good job. All that was missing was a billboard.

Further, the fact that Brooks' colleagues on the city council have somehow come down with a case of selective amnesia as to the existence of DACA is absolutely comical. A good reporter would have done his homework, and could have easily surmised that while some would like to blame and point the finger in hindsight at the vice mayor, let's be real, she could not have accomplished the opening of this academy without the assistance of city staff and other key stakeholders. Truly, you give Vice Mayor Brooks way too much credit. It is absolutely asinine to infer, insinuate, and/or allude to the vice mayor "doing it her way." If you call working within the parameters of the city and under the appropriate checks and balances as "doing it her way," then I would suppose that each of her colleagues are equally guilty, as this is the way things get done at City Hall.

Finally, while I was disappointed in the lack of objective reporting provided in the article, I was even more incensed by your attempt to stoke the fire between Vice Mayor Brooks and our new city administrator, Deanna Santana. Again, statements such as "there is a new sheriff in town" aren't newsworthy, and in fact are purely subjective on the part of the writer. I'm sure that Santana is doing her job in providing a thorough investigation, and rest assured, Vice Mayor Brooks will have her opportunity to respond to any questions that the city administrator or anyone else has surrounding the building and oversight of the Academy. To bait two strong, smart, women of color against each other is reminiscent of a time that many of us would like to forget, but apparently, some still get a kick out of starting a cat fight.

If I may make a suggestion to you as the editor of the paper and the writer of the article, it would be this: Please remember your job is to report and let the reader decide. Since there has not been a thorough investigation, you really are not in a position to report anything. Hence I am left wondering what your real motive behind writing such a subjective article was. Upon the completion of the investigation, please be as vigilant on reporting the facts that will come out as the process moves along the appropriate channels as you were rushing to write this article. In other words, do your job — people appreciate a good newsman or woman when they are reporting a story and not making one up.

Lisa Reed, Oakland

"Pay to Play," Music, 2/22

Music Isn't Free

Three hundred fifty dollars a year for a business to play recorded music 24/7 is peanuts for the value they get.

Although it's not hard to understand where owners are coming from, considering most venues today expect live bands to play for free while they sell $8 beers and $4 lattes, BMI and ASCAP are about the only music organizations left that are actually assisting independent recording artists in getting paid. As a recording artist who has been producing independently for over thirty years, I believe that there needs to be a way for everyone to win, and expecting artists to endlessly give away their work for "promotion" isn't reasonable.