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When I moved to Dwight Way in the early Eighties, this 36-foot-wide residential street had a fair amount of traffic, and Tom Bates pledged in public to do "something" about it. Well, what we've had is thousands more cars a day, and they are increasingly backed up and my living room smells like exhaust. Studies evidence the health issues of heavy-traffic proximity. It is an outrage that the few open east-west streets are taking so much traffic, and the West Berkeley project promises even more. We on Dwight Way are the victims of Bates, Darryl Moore, and Laurie Capitelli. The traffic on the open east-west streets is the reason I oppose Measure T. Darryl, why don't you represent the people of your district? You don't and you haven't. You consistently vote with the hills, not the flats. Your only interests are your developer friends and your bid for the Assembly. You should be ashamed of yourself.
Fran Haselsteiner, Berkeley
"Who'll Replace Jane?," Election 2012, 10/10
Raya Is Right
As a new dad in North Oakland, I'm glad the Express endorsed Richard Raya as your first choice for District 1 on the city council. I met Richard and his family a few months ago, when he began helping organize clean-up events at a park near my house. I brought low expectations to the first park event, but Richard's energy and commitment impressed the hell out of me. He pulled our neighborhood together to improve the park, with the beneficial side effect that we all got to know our neighbors better.
So Richard's a nice guy, but I'm voting to put him on the Oakland city council for another reason: He gets what makes our city an awesome place to live, but he is absolutely not okay with the status quo on crime and education. Our streets are dangerous, our schools are struggling, and the problems are getting worse.
I think Richard has the leadership ability and the financial and political acumen necessary to improve our schools and build up our police force to fight violent crime. Richard Raya has my vote because I believe he can help make our city safer for my daughter — and for every other kid in Oakland.
Patrick Sullivan, Oakland
"Unfounded Fears," Election 2012, 10/3
This piece was extraordinarily disappointing. Am I supposed to believe the reporter couldn't find one person living on the street in Berkeley who preferred not to be homeless? There's a difference between lively writing and vapid snark, and this article definitely crossed the line. Where is the acknowledgment that the number of unhoused people is greatly increasing in the entire country due to an economic collapse and the looting of the social safety net? According to Rachel Swan, the increase on Berkeley sidewalks is totally due to the permissiveness and indulgence of people in Berkeley. That's called ignoring the facts and providing no meaningful context to the reader.
A ticket for violating one of these ordinances doesn't always provide a wake-up call to an indigent person. Sometimes the financial and emotional stress of being stopped by law enforcement, arrested, cited, and taken to jail can push people who are already pretty close to the edge over it. And if Berkeley in fact has the resources to house every currently unhoused person in the city boundaries, then that is certainly news to me, and it would be just about the only municipality in the country so blessed. This is what happens when a feature article is begun with a set of preconceived notions and evidence is collected largely to support these preconceived notions. The problem is that Berkeley residents have a decision to make and this article is too busy trying to prove several questionable allegations about recreational homelessness to give them the information they need to make that decision.
Tracy Rosenberg, Albany
"New Growth in Temescal Alley Means Death for Polymorph Recording," Culture Spy, 10/3
Have a Care
I've played Stikman's and Dan Rathbun's music, and many bands that have recorded at Polymorph, during my radio show at London's Resonance FM. There is a worldwide underground that appreciates what's gone on there, and if the locals had any sense, they'd treasure the uniqueness of that the way Portobello Road and Brick Lane treasure the input from the branches of the world-famous Rough Trade Records. Have a care before you lose it.
Marina Organ, London
"And That's a Rap," Music, 9/26
In Defense of Common
First, your writing abilities are great; I enjoyed your article.
I wanted to know what this meant: "Sure, Common is a much safer rapper than Biggie Smalls. But it's quite clear, to any avid hip-hop consumer, who is the better artist."
Common isn't a "safe rapper." To most Americans, he's an angry black man, speaking up for black culture and how it was discredited.
He speaks about his Muslim beliefs and calls white America out. Any "avid" hip-hop listener/consumer would and should pay attention to the message being told by the rapper. Biggie rapped about his past, his lifestyle, and his future of death. Just because Common wasn't rapping about "bitches and blow" doesn't make him less of a rapper, or make Biggie a better rapper. They're both great emcees with the ability to write poetry. With that statement, you took away from hip-hop.