"Back in the Closet," Feature, 4/30
State pre-emption of local bans can and should be the absolute litmus test of any so-called legalization measure. We may not like to equate cannabis with alcohol and tobacco, but from a public policy standpoint the need for consistent statewide regulation has never been clearer. Our very best shot is going old-school with a voter-approved ballot initiative, and this time around we don't have to skimp on the legal details for "polling" or other intangibles.
Michael Green, Fresno
"ShotSpotter Lobbied Oakland Officials in Apparent Violation of Law," News, 4/30
Why would councilmembers pay anything for ShotSpotter, which is useless without enough cops to respond quickly? What's with this belated fascination with tech solutions? A much higher priority should be finding money to pay for a 911 system that doesn't route cellphone calls through the California Highway Patrol before finally getting to the Oakland Police Department without your location information. But a working 911 system won't be much help either until OPD wins the trust and confidence of residents that cops will come when you need them, just like EMTs and fire trucks do — and that cops can protect people who testify against criminals.
Len Raphael, Oakland
No Faith in Government
The salient points of this article are as follows: First, specific ethical requirements for registering lobbyists have been neglected by elected officials; second, elected officials are not listening to or taking the advice of the police chief, which forces the chief into the position of spending money for a technology which he does not think is a priority. No wonder citizens have no faith in Oakland government. Our know-nothing electeds invariably insist on making bad decisions despite expert advice to the contrary. Also no wonder that the office of chief of police has a revolving door.
Michele Ocla, Oakland
Corrupt from Top to Bottom
OPD officers have contempt for the city they "serve and protect." ShotSpotter is trying to make big money by feeding us questionable data to support its sales pitch. Our elected officials are in way over their heads, and city government is corrupt from top to bottom. Other than that, life's grand here in Oakland.
John Seal, Oakland
"The Rise of the Corporate Democrats," Full Disclosure, 4/30
Need a Third Party
The two-party system is so corrupt that it can't be fixed. A third party is desperately needed — one that eschews corporate financing and favors, one that will make our cities and towns livable again and put America back on track, not as the world's bully policeman, but as a great and compassionate democracy.
Steve Redmond, Berkeley
"The Dolphin Dilemma," Feature, 4/23
Amazing article! Thanks for enlightening us with this information. This kind of reporting is always helpful for our society.
Raul Rodriguez, Oakland
Stand Up Against Captivity
If anyone is interested in joining activists at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, there is an annual demo scheduled for May 24, from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. called Empty the Tanks Worldwide. This is a day for everyone around the world to stand up against marine mammal captivity. The abuse and exploitation of these sentient beings has no place in the 21st century. Last year we had about eight people at the park handing out leaflets and talking to park guests about how inappropriate captivity is for these complex creatures. This year we hope to be bigger and louder. We currently have 39 locations participating in 19 different countries. Please find us on Facebook for more info: bit.ly/ETT2014
Lisa Robles, Oakland
Support Is Needed Now
Assemblymember Richard Bloom's AB 2140 has been held over for "interim study." Another hearing and vote will likely be held in early 2015 before the Assembly Water, Parks & Wildlife Committee, chaired by Assemblymember Anthony Rendon (who is a strong supporter of AB 2140 on ethical grounds).
Other members of this fifteen-member committee are: Frank Bigelow, Travis Allen, Raul Bocanegra, Brian Dahle, Paul Fong, Jim Frazier, Beth Gaines, Mike Gatto, Jimmy Gomez, Lorena Gonzalez, Adam Gray, Jim Patterson, Freddie Rodriguez and Mariko Yamada — ten Democrats and five Republicans. (Note: Both Fong and Yamada are termed out this year.)
Support letters are needed now. All legislators may be written care of the state capitol, Sacramento, CA 95814. And write to the new incoming Speaker of the Assembly, Assemblymember Toni Atkins (D-San Diego). She's a big fan of SeaWorld, and will wield considerable power over the Democratic caucus. Follow the money.
Eric Mills, coordinator, Action for Animals, Oakland
"The Failure of Berkeley's Living Wage Law," News, 4/23
No Good Business Sense
In my experience, many people believe that there is corruption at virtually every level of our government. The City of Berkeley clearly has provided the opportunity for LAZ Parking to do right by its employees, to clear up its record for the apparently small number of people involved, and thus to be eligible for a large, lucrative contract. Anyone with common sense would take care of this immediately if they wished to avoid negative publicity and compete fairly for a contract. The mystery is why LAZ (are they missing a Y from their name?) Parking has not taken care of the matter; if they have good business sense, they should.
Judith Rathbone, Oakland
"Blight for Profit," News, 4/16
Bin Problem on Lakeshore
Good article, but it's a pity that you didn't interview my neighbor, Ken Katz, who is the one who has pushed for a solution to this citywide blight. By the way, we have a big problem with the bins on Lakeshore, and, no, USAgain does not clean up the bins or the area around them, nor does anyone answer the 800 number.
Pamela Drake, Oakland
"Gentrification Is Not Inevitable," News, 4/16
Connecting the Dots
Housing is overpriced. Real estate is overpriced and restrictions must be placed on the accumulation of real estate by one company, family, or individual. First, all jobs should be paid at living wage. There is really no such thing as a "training job" or a "beginner job" (you're thinking of the chores you were given as a kid). The most important jobs are the lowest paid, and without those people you presume are not smart enough or not educated enough we would all be swimming in bacteria and garbage. Some of us are good producers and hard workers, but lack the groveling obedience or tolerance for being caged in an office to be part of a workforce, which, were it to disappear tomorrow, would not likely be missed for some hours or days — unlike when you are waiting for that minimum wage clerk.
Tepperman's article is right on! Finally someone is connecting the dots between how we are hurt by real estate speculation and the myriad, cascading effects of the social ills it generates.
JJ Noire, Oakland
Indeed, as Ms. [Zoe] Leavitt [of the Alameda County Health Department] notes, residents of existing neighborhoods and their needs, as defined by themselves, should define the nature of development, if any, in their neighborhoods. Alas, when they attempt to do so, they are called NIMBYs.
Mary Eisenhart, Oakland
"Oyster Company's Appeal Is A Sham," Opinion, 4/16
Protecting Public Lands
Thank you, Environmental Action Committee, for protecting our public lands!
Jeff Miller, Point Reyes Station
Enough Is Enough
I am convinced that the "Coliseum City" idea is simply a means by which Mayor Jean Quan can divert the public's attention from the ugly realities confronting Oakland. Tease the public with visions of sports palaces here in town and make them forget about the fiscal nightmare confronting the taxpayers as huge unfunded obligations come due and payable. Why would anyone invest private funds in any ballpark when they can get gullible, desperate politicians to get the taxpayers to foot the bill for them? The Warriors' assertion that they are not obligated to make payments on the bonded indebtedness on the Oracle Arena remodel is proof positive that sports teams are unreliable, disloyal partners for any municipality.
Quan hopes that these pretty pictures of glistening ballparks will intoxicate the public sufficiently so that we forget about the appalling state of affairs hereabouts. As if keeping the ball teams makes any difference whatsoever in our quality of life. Sure, if millionaires playing games is what people want then let them pay for it. Rich folks employing rich ballplayers have no business burdening the taxpayers. I don't understand how anybody at City Hall can justify the amount of staff time devoted to the retention of pro sports teams. This is private business; stop wasting our resources on this foolish, futile exercise. The absurd expense in the not-so-long-ago renovation and expansion of the Coliseum is still on the books, unpaid, and repayment will be the taxpayer's responsibility. Enough is enough.
Jonathan C. Breault, Oakland