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Letters for the Week of June 29

Readers sound off on jazz, unions, and M.C. Hammer.


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Fair Trade Music is by musicians and for all musicians, regardless of union membership.

Jake Pegg, Portland

Coordinator, Fair Trade Music PDX (

Set Your Own Standards

Many thanks to Rachel Swan for writing this story. I had no idea the pay for jazz musicians was so low, and I'm a singer-songwriter who's used to being asked to play for tips by cafe owners who want live music to draw business.

Here's the bottom line, in my opinion: If accomplished musicians refuse to work for free, or nearly free, they'll no longer be exploited. They'll play fewer gigs, and get less exposure, but when they do play, they won't feel cheated.

It's a personal decision each of us must make.

Steve Taylor-Ramírez, Berkeley

It's All in the Name

If this was just about random clubs, the point about thinking of art instead of wages would be more convincing, but the fact that the Fillmore Jazz District came about through considerable public expense and with a clear cultural as well as economic purpose (which the clubs which benefited from that investment presumably signed on for) does, it seems to me, imply that the musicians who create the jazz in question should be fairly treated. Unless, of course, it was never really about anything other than the prestige the word "jazz" brings.

Ian Carey, Oakland

"It All Comes Down to the Unions," News, 6/15

Talk Is Cheap

1. Why does Mayor Quan ask everyone to sacrifice except the operators of social programs, who get millions of dollars in grants every year?

2. For about a year the police union has stated it will move on pension contributions if the city will guarantee staffing levels. That's what residents need, too, more police. Cheap talk about how lower salaries would allow for more police means nothing without solid guarantees that we will indeed have more officers.

Charles Pine, Oakland


What else is new? Every state, county, and city worker is grossly overpaid in salary and benefits based on current revenue. They all want to live on the long-gone real estate boom tax revenue. And what do they do? They bury their collective heads in the sand and collect their overpaid salaries while parks go to hell, citizens are exposed to more crime, and schools cut services to students and raise tuition all so the greedy worker can live on their fantasy contracts. Selfish!

Don Sandri, Hayward

Cut the Mayor and Council's Budgets

First, the tax ballot measure is only to support hiring more police officers, why would citizens vote for paying for more police? Where is that helping the deficit? Second, since 2002 the civil service employees have already given over 8 percent into their retirement and a 5 percent decrease in pay with the twelve shutdown days and (COLA) salary freezes. As of 2011 they want to take an additional 5 percent for retirement, a 5 percent pay cut, and additional shutdown days. People are already losing their homes and now they really think that people can survive with additional pay cuts?. We are talking about employees that live in Oakland. Truth is, most police don't live in Oakland, don't pay taxes in Oakland, and don't care about what's going on here — they come and get a paycheck and spend it where they live. The non-sworn employees in Oakland are so far behind in salary compared to others cities; we are talking about people who work 37.5 hours per week, not forty hours — with the imposed shutdown days and the extra pay for retirement taken out, they are making less than they made back in 2002. The port kept their COLAs, police and fire kept their increases, even city councilmembers received increases. Where is the "fair share?" The mayor and the city council members should do their part and go back to being part-time, since they all have other income streams, get rid of some of their staff, and perks, etc. Then we should talk "fair share."

Patrice Cotton, Oakland

"Shared Sacrifice," Seven Days, 6/15A New Low

The hypocrisy of politicians has reached a new low. Stick it to the poor and close parks rather than irritate a union. Pass a DOA budget you obviously never spoke to the governor about, then claim you are obeying the will of the taxpayers to pass a budget on time — which just happens to coincide with the June 15 deadline for losing your paycheck.

What's frightening is that these folks are too dumb to figure out that the unions are stuck voting for Democrats, so they could do the right thing and get some respect from the voters. That's what I thought Brown was going to do when I voted for him. My mistake. I have decided there is basically no downside left to a California state bankruptcy. We need to have a serious discussion about that. These guys could only spend what they take in, which is plenty, and we would eventually have far more revenue, since we would pay no interest. I figure I would lose about $1,000 per year in services I pay about $12,000 for. I'm an independent, but in California elections, I will be voting Republican for years, much as I hate the thought.

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