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Understandably, tax increases give many pause, and those that are potentially regressive even more so. However, the steady decline in state and federal funding for transportation, aging infrastructure, and growing demands make Measure BB essential. And while BB is a sales tax increase, the deep support for public transit means that the measure will provide real material benefits to many low-income households. Best of all, Measure BB will fund a specific set of projects in Alameda County and includes provisions for annual audits and reviews by an independent watchdog committee. Please check out the full plan at YesonBB.org/2014tep.
Matt Bomberg, Oakland
Thanks for taking the time to put this very thoughtful analysis together. Oakland voters deserve it.
Doug Bloch, Alameda
Tear Down the Maze
The 600-pound gorilla in the room? How about 20 million tons of concrete in your backyard? These grotesque images are meant to convey something that doesn't get talked about for fear of upsetting the big guy: Caltrans, Destroyer of Neighborhoods, Great Magnet of Filth, Disease, Dumping and Graffiti — particularly right here in West Oakland, California. We've gone through a bunch of mayors, planning commissioners, councilmembers, etc., and rarely got one who wanted to take on the almighty agency, even after the fiasco of the bolts and a boatload of other blunders, none more egregious than the Cypress viaduct through West Oakland, the failure of which during Loma Prieta caused in the deaths of 42 people.
Some ardently believe in the right of eminent domain to enable executives from the East Bay's wealthiest enclaves to breeze through a downtrodden area like West Oakland. After all, didn't Oakland get a brand new Cypress Memorial Freeway out of the deal? Hasn't it been worth it that West Oakland's once-thriving neighborhoods are now riven with crisscrossing concrete behemoths — and, therefore, failing schools, high crime rates, high unemployment, human feces, and drugs everywhere? And, to add insult to injury, Caltrans now deems that anyone who applies to paint a mural on one of Oakland's filth-infested underpasses should pay for the privilege! Huh?
Madame mayor or mayor of the future, tear down this wall! We don't need this boa constrictor monstrosity here anymore: there isn't one bit of good that the freeway does for West Oakland other than to provide an easy escape route for the dumpers, metal thieves, pimps, and drug dealers who prey on the unduly beset citizens here. Maybe if the director of Caltrans spent a day in West Oakland observing the damage done to the social fabric of this struggling community, we could have the beginnings of a better dialogue on social parity, one that would result in switching the script 180 degrees so that the muralists were paid for making this unfair burden on West Oakland just a tad easier to bear.
So that's what I'm voting for this time around. I'm sure the financial crisis, underfunded schools, West Nile virus, Lew Wolff, and any number of other problems will remain as difficult to resolve as in the past. Some candidates are obviously better than others on this or that critical item; but the one who'll dare take on the evil empire, that's the one for me.
Steve Lowe, Oakland