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Letters for the Week of October 22, 2014

Readers sound off on District 2, medical cannabis in San Leandro and the MacArthur Maze

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Vance may not recall that when Yousef joined Shin Bet, at least half of the Palestinian people held Hamas in contempt and were furious that Hamas had seized Gaza by brute force.  During the Second Intifada, Hamas was behind the bombings that led to the murder of scores of Israelis. And it was the work of Shin Bet that saved hundreds more lives of Jewish and Arab Israelis. So when Vance calls Shin Bet "one of the world's most feared state-terrorism orgs," he has stood reality on its head.

Shin Bet were the protectors, Hamas the clear-cut terrorists, and they were named as such by both the United States and the European Union. Sadly, Hamas — despite its open advocacy not just for the annihilation of Israeli Jews, but the murder of Jews everywhere on the planet — is now shown via the Palestinians' own polls to be the most popular political organization amongst the Palestinian people.

Vance doesn't seem to comprehend that it was opposition to this support of Jewish genocide that brave men such as Mosab Yousef and Gonen Ben Yitzhak were fighting. Lost on Vance is that rich and rare friendship that developed between two courageous and most honorable men, a Palestinian and a Jew. Forget Vance's simplistic commentary and see The Green Prince for yourself.

Dan Spitzer, Berkeley


"Berkeley Versus Big Soda," Election 2014, 10/1

Big Soda Behaving Badly

Poor, put-upon, Big Soda. Has anyone noticed how many more tantrums it has thrown lately? With Berkeley's soda tax (Measure D) possibly cutting into this $65 billion industry's profits, Big Soda first whimpered, "Not fair." Then it cried foul over all of the meanies revealing that anti-soda tax plaintiff Leon Cain recently moved to Berkeley (Berkeley Versus Big Soda, 10/3). Next was its crankiness over signs posted on city medians, which is illegal in Berkeley. Poor, browbeaten Big Soda. It's rough out there.

But let's face it. The badly behaving behemoth is Big Soda, which also whines about how Berkeley writes its propositions. Never mind that it hasn't liked how any soda tax measure has been written, anywhere. With its millions of dollars from the American Beverage Association, it has blocked thirty cities from passing similar measures. This despite overwhelming scientific evidence linking soda consumption to Type II Diabetes, now considered a pediatric disease; this despite persuasive research indicating that soda taxes will reduce consumption; this despite the opportunity Measure D presents to raise funds for the city's popular gardening and nutrition programs.

To date Big Soda has spent $1.4 million to defeat this measure, but Berkeley is one city where Big Soda's money won't block its passage. As a former Berkeley resident myself, I know that Berkeley's voters cannot be bought. Measure D is the right first step to improving the health of Berkeley's children. I urge my Berkeley neighbors to vote Yes on Measure D.

Robin Dean, Oakland


"In Oakland Hills Race, a Battle of Ideologies," Election 2014, 10/1

This Race Is About Shoring Up Oakland

In this race, we need a thoughtful, experienced candidate who has the grace to work with all city players. Broadhurst has name recognition in the moneyed hills, and I suspect many of her supporters are faithful to her without considering any alternative. That's good friendship, but it doesn't necessarily translate to good government.

Annie Campbell Washington currently lags only because her support is broader than the local polls — the kind of breadth we need to get work done in Oakland. It is unfortunate that voters confuse Campbell Washington's candidacy with her time in Quan's office, just as voters confuse the familiarity of Broadhurst with the key qualifications needed for city council.

This race should not be about offending a friend, but about shoring up our complex Oakland. We should look at these women carefully for what experience they bring, the positions they take, and their plan for follow-through.

Kim Cardoso, Oakland

Broadhurst Is No Moderate

Broadhurst is much closer to the Tea Party ideology than this so-called "moderate" label. Her proposed austerity policies are bad for the district and bad for the city. I think most people that currently support her have not done their homework. I strongly recommend that people attend one of the District Four candidates' debates and hear directly from the candidates. One candidate will cause a lot of damage to Oakland and that's Broadhurst. In her own words: "OPD doesn't need more money... ."

Joao Pio, Oakland

Broadhurst Is Irresponsible

Public safety is the most important issue before Oakland voters. I will vote for Measure Z, because it will fund the cops and community programs we need. I respect some of the arguments against it, because it is not perfect. So be it.

However, it is totally irresponsible of Broadhurst to oppose it without very, very specifically stating how she will:

1. Fund our public safety needs including more cops.

2. Indicate how she will fill the huge hole in the city budget if Measure Z fails. If elected that would be her responsibility.

Very specific answers, please!

Ed Gerber, Oakland


"Vote Yes on Measure BB and Prop 47," Election 2014, 9/24

You Underestimate Measure BB

While I appreciate the Express' support of Measure BB, I was disappointed in the reluctance of the endorsement. The Express fails to convey that BB will fund one of the most progressive sets of investments ever seen in a countywide transportation measure. Nearly half of the funds are for public transit, including money to restore AC Transit service cuts; modernize BART stations and address overcrowding; and provide affordable transit options for senior and youth. The next largest category of expenditures is for local street improvements — a category that primarily funds repaving projects that benefit the safety and comfort not just of drivers but also of bus riders, bicyclists, and pedestrians. BB includes nearly as much money for biking and walking as for highways, and much of the highway money will go to rebuilding outdated interchanges that form major barriers for bicyclists and pedestrians. The measure was developed and is supported by a broad coalition of environmental, business, social justice, and other groups (the Sierra Club, Genesis, and the Alameda County Taxpayers' Association, to name a few) and includes aggressive local hiring provisions that will result in thousands of good-paying jobs in Alameda County.

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