News & Opinion » Letters & Guest Essays

Letters for the Week of October 27

Readers sound off on Whoregate, the elections, Alameda inspections, an abundance of typos, and our old friends at Yelp.

comment

"Whoregate Really Should Have Been Pensiongate," Seven Days, 10/13

Look It Up

This flap is ridiculous. The esteemed American Heritage Dictionary gives as sense 3 of 'whore': "a person considered as having compromised principles for personal gain," which could have been written with Ms. Whitman's behavior as to the law-enforcement unions and their demands as its model. Use of the word in that exact sense is commonplace and unexceptionable, and any claim to the contrary is either sheer ignorance or sheer partisanship.

Eric Walker, Ritzville, WA

Whores

The word "whore" is archaic and well ... basically biblical, used before the advent of "venture capitalism" and the rapacious modern corporate military democritized state we live in today. Calling someone in a top political position a whore in the 21st century in the US is like a calling an ancient Greek or Roman a "pedophile." If by the word whore we mean someone who sells themselves for profit at the risk of debasing their community and deceiving its constituency for the sake of benefiting themselves and the top 2 percent of the population, in my mind they're whores (a new concept of the word, eh). So guess what? Can a whole society be called whoreish? Maybe. Since basically that's the state we live in. Let's begin with starting our own state-owned banks?

Laurie Encinas, Oakland


"Old Guard or Fresh Face?" Feature, 10/6

Where's My Credit?

I stopped by the Quan headquarters and asked them basically what Joe Tuman proposes as the key question; if Quan is really about change, given her long public office service, why are we performing among the worst of any East Bay city? The staffers had no coherent answer, and just ended up asking that maybe I consider voting for her 2nd or 3rd on my ballot!

These candidates are by and large hard to get enthused about. While I've been posting for awhile that Tuman, Quan, and Kaplan voters should list each other one, two, and three and exclude Perata, is that really a fair thing for this writer to implicitly advocate? Tuman is clearly the best hope for a representative that would be a classy face to the city, and at this point he seems the strongest of the non-Perata three. Interesting to me that I posted in your comments section on Oct 6 that everyone opposed to Perata should vote Tuman, Kaplan, and Quan in whatever order they most prefer, then a week later your endorsement comes out suggesting EXACTLY THAT. Hmmm. ... Aren't there rules about proper acknowledgment you all follow?

Matthew Fraser, Oakland

Editor's Note

We came to our endorsement decision following interviews with Kaplan, Quan, and Tuman.


"The Dark Horses," News, 10/6

Arnold Fields 4 Historic Change. Oakland's Next Mayor Right Here, Right Now!!

Dear fellow Oakland residents. As you may know, I am a candidate for Oakland mayor. I would like to share with you my reasons I am running for mayor and why I am confident that I am the only choice for Oakland's next mayor.

I love this city and the only thing I love more is its people. I am an Oakland native, family man with three school-age children in public schools. I have been investing in Oakland my entire life. Oakland is at a crossroads! This is one of the most important elections we have had in years and the results of the election will have an impact on us for years to come. The last four, eight, and twelve years we have been bought and paid for and have got nothing in return! The last thing our city needs is another career-minded politician. Our career-minded politicians have proven to be one catastrophe after another. It is time to break free from the elitist agenda that has run our city into the ground. Our precious city needs a mayor who is a leader with a proven track record! I am the only candidate with a plan that is solid. I have been on a mission for 25 years restoring Oakland's existing infrastructure and creating affordable housing, small businesses, and an abundance of jobs. I have never torn anything down in our city or any other city!

Now we must unite our city to abolish corruption and cronyism, which is the cornerstone in turning our city around! The people hold the key to who our next mayor is, not corporations, unions, endorsements or special interest groups. You hold that key!

I could never imagine with all of our advanced technologies we would have so many people living and starving on the streets riddled with crime, compounded by an escalating number of high-school drop outs. This is unacceptable!

There are hundreds of situations where you have unjust politics being dished out by corrupt elitist within our city offices. I can no longer remain silent. By my silence I am giving consent to the madness within our city! Oakland is wasting billions of dollars on propaganda and division. This division is creating a culture of divide and conquer that must stop! As your mayor, my top priority will be to energize and reform our schools, public safety, and jobs and abate corruption within our city.

Sometimes we forget the importance of one voice. Yours! Your voice can make an enormous difference in all of our lives.

I would like to thank you again for giving me this opportunity to speak, and to listen to all of you and for the support you have shown me over the years. With people like you we can secure a safe prosperous and creative Oakland that is a beacon of love and hope for our city and set an example for the entire nation! Help me bring on historic change to the city we all love right here, right now!

Please vote for Arnold Fields on November 2nd!!!!!!!

Arnold Fields, Oakland's next Mayor, Oakland


"The Gloves Are Off in San Leandro," News, 10/20

More of the Same in San Leandro

Both Tony Santos and Joyce Starosciak support Measures Z and M; election after election San Leandro's officials put measures on the ballot to increase taxes on consumers and homeowners. Stephen Cassidy, who's also an insider, claims that he opposes Measure Z but makes sure to mention that his wife supports it; it's all in the family. Actually, Cassidy is the most dangerous since he claims that he will not take any salary if elected mayor, which could only mean that he'll be serving some corporate interests who'd compensate him; he's actually a lawyer, "consumer advocate," involved with banking issues. Then, there are Mestas, the joker Palau, and the perennial candidate Lou Filipovich; not much to choose from in the San Leandro election.

It's not much different in the city council races, where the ranked-choice implemented is completely useless since there are no more than two candidates for each district, or just one running unopposed. There's no more honey left in the jar.

The solution is to tax corporations that do business in San Leandro and to implement a city ordinance that prevents companies that employ illegal scabs, which are the ones doing the work on city's streets now, from contracting with the city.

As for crime and police, direct the city and county's police departments to issue concealed weapons permits to citizens with a clean record, so criminals don't feel safe in the streets or high places.

Leo T. West, San Leandro


"City and Wine Bar at Impasse," Feature, 9/22

Off Her Back

Wow! You'd think with multiple wineries and St. George Distillery on the island, the city would encourage a small wine business to succeed. I've noticed this place on numerous occasions, but thought it wasn't open (as most wine bars open after 4 p.m. Monday-Friday and earlier on weekends). Forcing a small business to stay open when there's obviously no patrons only makes overhead go up and profits go down. Another issue is that they seem to have no problem with multiple other businesses posting flyers and whatnot in their windows. With all the wineries that offer tastings and discounts, I don't see how this poor woman will make it three years! Unless the City of Alameda gets off her back.

Celeste Young, Fremont


"When Bambi Invades," Eco Watch, 9/29

Population Explosion

I work with Caltrans and in the last twelve months we've pulled over 630 dead deer off the highways, just the state highways. That doesn't include city streets, county roads, or other areas not under Caltrans jurisdiction. The numbers are beginning to spike for the annual rutting season. In August only 29 dead deer reported, in September we've had over one hundred already.

James D Richardson, Oakland


"The Big Ticket Fix," Music, 10/6

The Big Story Fix

Referring to at least the print edition of the Express, one is struck by this so-called writing: In the first para, the use of the phrase "waving fees." The word should be waiving. In the third column, there's a reference to McCartney at Oracle Arena. Has this ever happened, or was this just theoretical? Paul is known for having played a huge gig at Cal Stadium some years ago, and for playing at the Giants' ballpark this year; but when (if ever) has he played indoors at Oakland in recent memory? In the same para, you mention Brooklyn Bowl. Since you're writing for a Bay Area audience, why not omit this venue that's 3,000 miles away and perhaps mention another local one we may be familiar with?

Kevin Walsh, Emeryville


"Mark Twain's Last Stunt," Feature, 10/20

Pore Over This

I have always been fascinated by Mark Twain, so it was with great interest that I began to read the article about him in the October 20-26 East Bay Express. The second section of the story states, "No pens are allowed in the Mark Twain Papers & Project." However, just a few inches below that statement, the author, David Downs, mentions that guests are escorted to a vault where they can view "lead editors behind another electronically locked door pouring over priceless original manuscripts." I am sure that Mr. Downs meant "poring" because if the lead editors were "pouring," I am afraid that those documents would not survive!

Barbara Segal, Berkeley


"Yelp and the Business of Extortion 2.0," Feature, 2/18/09

Yelp and the Business of Extortion 3.0

Let me start by saying that I am a business owner whose business is obviously listed on Yelp.com. My business is called Kiss Kiss Mediterranean Cafe & Hookah Lounge. We had good and bad reviews as any other place, but more good ones, total of 47 reviews since we've been in the business for over six years.Couple of months ago I got a phone call from a Yelp.com sales representative (whose name was Mathew) offering me to advertise on Yelp.com for about $300 per week, which I of course declined. A couple of days later Yelp.com removed 42 of my companies' reviews!!! Leaving us with only bad reviews ... this type of activity is clearly fraudulent so please sway away from Yelp.com!!!

Vic McHitaryan, Simi Valley

Yelp and the Business of Extortion 4.0

I happen to have a family member (wife's sister and her husband) that own a restaurant located in South San Jose, and they indicated that they were also threatened by Yelp employees. They intimated that their average review ratings would likely suffer if they did not sign on with Yelp. I assure anyone reading this that it has nothing to do with being upset with legitimate ratings. In fact, there has been no mention from family of a change in ratings, and their ratings are pretty good, but the phone call is fact. I remember the night my wife got a call from her upset sister about this very subject, asking what she should do. They are a struggling business (who isn't these days?) and I was told that they (the Yelp CSR) asked for $1,200 per year, and that to decline was "stupid." Actually, to hear the sister tell the story, she says that they called her husband "stupid" for not signing on to advertise with Yelp!

Even knowing all this, I still use Yelp as it provides what I consider to be a valuable service, but I am now weary of the accuracy of such statements, and read reviews carefully to try to determine legitimacy on my own. I even deliberately jump far down on the feedback page to see if the trend stays consistent or not.

So for those doubters, take this as just one more example (unbiased) of Yelp unethically operating. Yes, I appreciate that they wish to make money like any business. I am not proposing a solution, just highlighting a problem.

Mike Welpott, Tracy

Corrections

In our October 20 CD review of Lyrics Born, we listed the wrong record label. He's signed to Decon, not Decca.


Miscellaneous Letters

Fight Bogus Tickets

As you're probably aware, the City of Oakland has increased its parking enforcement efforts over the last few years, and some of their tactics have been quite controversial and have raised public ire. While expanded hours, inflated fees, and unbalanced enforcement are all despicable, some of the things that makes Oakland's tactics so reprehensible is that tickets are issued unjustly, arbitrarily (and often illegally), and the appeals process is a sham. Basically, they summarily ignore arguments or evidence and uphold their decisions. Moreover, when errors in process or legal procedure are pointed out, they seem to pick and choose which laws and rules apply to suit their own needs.

The last step in the appeals process is a civil suit, and few choose to put in the time and effort to fight their tickets to that extent. I've put in hundreds of hours, appeared in court several times, and submitted more than 100 pages of argument and evidence. Is it worth the $50 (the original ticket's value)? Hardly. I've invested four times that amount in fees and costs (and I'm representing myself), but for me, this is about principle.

For the city, however, it's about $22 million — the amount that they raised in parking fees alone last year, and they want to continue to abuse the system to their advantage. And the city is fighting my suit with vigor because they want to continue their arbitrary and capricious practices.

Feel free to contact me at cchin@bogusticket.org or 510-495-7875 for more information.

Thank you!

Christopher Chin, BogusTicket.org/FightBack, Oakland

Greed and Indifference

For several years now there exists a parking trap going north on Shellmound Street in Emeryville. After passing Ikea there is a sign to Bay Street. However, if you follow that sign, and make the right hand turn you will end up in a lane straight into the paid parking lot! Those hoping to drive through to Bay Street find themselves, instead, receiving an automated parking receipt as they enter the lot. The only way out is to PAY for the privilege of exiting the lot.

Admittedly, in the larger scheme of deceptions that citizens in this country must endure, this is relatively minor. But it points out how greed or indifference choreographs so much of our everyday experience with the bureaucracy. Despite my efforts for almost a year to correct this situation I have been met with the usual deflections of responsibility from the Emeryville mayor's office, their city manager, and the parking garage manager.

One should not wonder why there is so much cynicism about government when a simple corrective effort on a local level seems so difficult and time consuming, if not impossible.

Marc Winokur, Oakland