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James Moore, Tujunga, California
Everyone's Making Sacrifices
I was quite disturbed by Robert Gammon's article in which he seems to be treating public workers like the Commies of the Fifties. While the public workers are not the cause of the state's financial woes, Gammon and others continue to blame them. So, he argues, it is unreasonable for elected officials to ask taxpayers who are suffering through this recession and who "bear little to no responsibility for the state's financial woes" to pay more in taxes to support these profligate workers. He forgets that public employees are also such citizens. They, too, are sacrificing, though neither are they the cause of the state's financial woes — that honor belongs to the real estate market and the national recession. State (and local) employees have faced salary freezes and furloughs when they have not lost their jobs to "cutbacks." They, too, are reeling. They, too, have watched their homes lose value. They, too, are having trouble making mortgage payments because of their reductions in salary. Maybe not some, such as the prison guards and police (who are resisting cutbacks), but these are not the vast number of public employees and should not be used as a "stand-in" for all those who have, in fact, renegotiated contracts and accepted reduced pay and pension benefits. They, too, are among the middle- and lower-income families who are suffering, not those who are the cause of the economic collapse.
Rachel Kahn-Hut, Oakland
Do Your Research
Robert Gammon's comments on state worker wages and pensions were totally bogus. I'm a state environmental scientist, and my wage and pension reality is nothing like what he stated in his Seven Days column. I make 25 percent less than my federal government counterparts, and half of what I would make in the private sector. I haven't had a raise or COLA since 2007, and won't get a raise until 2013. That raise will only be 3 percent, so I won't even keep up with inflation over the life of the contract. In fact, adjusted for inflation, I'm making 30 percent less than I did in 2000. My pension contribution increased to 8 percent of my paycheck in May — a 60 percent increase. I got stuck with a 15 percent paycut for two and a half years, and will have a 5 percent paycut until next April. Where's the sweetheart deal he's talking about? I'm not getting it! The column totally ignored both the large concessions we made in our last contract, and the times in the Nineties when we paid into our pensions while the state paid nothing. The next time Robert Gammon writes about state workers, he needs to vastly improve his fact-checking instead of simply taking a page out of the Republican playbook and dumping on us for no reason.
John Budroe, San Pablo
Now It's UC's Turn
UC President Yudof needs to support Governor Brown with wage concessions. Californians suffer from the greatest deficit of modern times. UC wages must reflect California's ability to pay, not what others are paid. Campus chancellors, tenured and non-tenured faculty, UCOP are replaceable by more talented academics. UC faculty, chancellor, vice chancellor, UCOP wage concessions:
• No furloughs.
• 18 percent reduction in UCOP salaries and $50 million cut.
• 18 percent prune of salaries for campus chancellors and vice chancellors.
• 15 percent trim of tenured faculty salaries, increased teaching load.
• 10 percent decrease in non-tenured faculty salaries, and increase research, teaching load.
• 100 percent elimination of all Academic Senate, Academic Council costs, wages.
Overly optimistic predictions of future revenues do not solve the deficit. However, rose bushes bloom after pruning.
Milan Moravec, Walnut Creek
"Hodo's Tofu R&D for Bakesale Betty," What the Fork, 6/15
Betty's business is, obviously, flesh-based so it is good to see that Hodo was able to convince her to offer a vegetarian alternative. That said, I find her unwillingness to imagine a sandwich free of animal ingredients (she suggests it would take two years to replace buttermilk with a plant-based alternative and for finding a different bread roll) a bit strange. There are hundreds of talented chefs and cooks in the Bay Area who could help her do this in about two minutes!
Vegan food in Oakland is booming; chicken is no longer a growth industry in a world waking up to the environmental and personal health toll of meat animal production. Veganize it, Betty!
Justin Eichenalub, Oakland
Vegan's a Moneymaker
If they paid more attention to the market, they might not be so lazy about the dairy ingredients which would be very easy to eliminate. The underlying fact around here is that "vegetarian" restaurants usually fail quickly in Berkeley, but vegan restaurants are usually successful in recent years. Why? New vegetarians who try new products often go vegan within a short time. Plus, if not strictly vegan, there is an underlying fear that the food may secretly contain hidden animal products not listed.
Until they make it vegan, I will be happy to try the savory tofu from Hodo without the sandwich.
Sennet Williams, Oakland
"A Tale of Two Cities," Last Call, 6/8
I loved Disco Volante's food and drinks, but service was uber slow. I'm talking painful, oh-yeah-you-wanted-a-drink, fifteen-minute vodka tonics slow. Also, I think it'd be a bit of a stretch to call the menu extensive with four entrées and a smattering of daily specials. Nonetheless, the food was fantastic and the tequila old-fashioned will burn your lips in a delicious way ... just be prepared for a long, long wait at your table. I really wanted to love it. I really did.