Don't let companies plan water policies

The report that the Department of Water Resources will team up with private water contractors to plan transporting water south is a gross abdication of the department's public responsibility. It resembles the infamous act of former Vice President Dick Cheney, who called in oil companies to formulate a national energy plan.

We cannot have any faith in a process in which the likes of Westlands Water District, the front for agribusiness interests in San Joaquin Valley, has direct power in deciding how to deliver water to themselves. It is a conflict of interest.

Westlands is an example of one of the biggest problems with our water policy: inordinate power of private moneyed interests so drunk on and addicted to taxpayer-subsidized water that they think it is a birthright. Water is a precious public resource, and 80 percent of it already goes to agriculture.

The department needs to stop this ill-conceived plan, and assert its authority and obligation to serve the public interest of the entire state, not just the privileged few.

Victor R. Ochoa

Oakland

Boost policing in gun-violent areas

I am increasingly concerned about the violent crimes, particularly gun violence, happening in East Oakland.

I fear that if East Oakland continues to gain this violent momentum, the youths trying to thrive will be thwarted by the violence that surrounds them. I have recently read two articles concerning violent acts in my community: "Standoff in Oakland ends with shooting suspect not found" and "Police identify fatal shooting victim found in East Oakland."

I want to praise the police for their presence in my community and being so persistent in their pursuit of a shooter. However, their persistence did not pay off in this instance. I believe that preventive measures should be enacted to end gun violence by removing weapons from the streets.

The Oakland Police Department needs to start a continuous campaign to buy back weapons and increase patrols and presence in particularly gun-violent neighborhoods, such as East Oakland. This increased effort to make East Oakland a safer neighborhood could empower youths to pick up a book instead of a gun.

Denise Kennedy

Oakland

State fair's call wrong on crate procedure

Despite overwhelming public opposition, the California State Fair's Livestock & Animal Care Committee has voted to continue the brutal "farrowing crates" in the animal nursery July 12-28 at this year's fair.

Pregnant sows will again be imprisoned in steel-barred crates for three straight weeks, barely able to move, forced to give birth on barren metal grids before gawking crowds, further stressed by fireworks -- a true crime against nature. Normally, an expectant sow would build a nest in some quiet secluded spot. Not acceptable.

Cal Expo's new CEO, Rick Pickering, ran the 2012 Alameda County Fair, which allowed no farrowing crates. Instead, there was a large pen with a sow in deep sawdust, her piglets (born off-site) free to come and go through a slatted partition, drawn by the warmth of a heat lamp. Perfect solution: happy pigs, happy public.

Our state fair should do likewise. People want to see farm animals and their babies, not the actual birthing process, which can be traumatic for all concerned. All veterinary studies recommend against transporting animals about to give birth. UC Davis, which oversees the exhibit, should practice what it preaches.

Please contact Rick Pickering, CEO, and the Fair Board, Cal Expo & State Fair, 1600 Exposition Blvd., Sacramento, CA 95815; email calexpoboard@calexpo.com; or call 916-263-3010.

As the Lorax says, "If somebody like you doesn't care a whole awful lot, nothing's going to get better. It's not."

Eric Mills

Coordinator Action for Animals Oakland

Law-abiding citizens on own in Oakland

Although it ought not be so, the fact is that in Oakland law-abiding citizens are on their own. We realize that we are the defenders of our own way of life. The architecture of our public life, principally adequate police services along with the reasonable, commonly understood standards of civilized life are absent and unrecognized by far too many people hereabouts.

It is the very breakdown of civilized life that will lead to an acceleration of a downward spiral with the criminals preying on the productive folks, leading more hardworking, taxpaying families to leave town, leading to an increase in dependence and criminality.

The cycle is predictable, and the consequence will be catastrophic. Decades of pandering to the indolent, coddling the dependent and starving the police department has led our town into the sorry condition of being identified as one of the most crime-infested in America.

In my neighborhood, Glenview, a renaissance of sorts began years ago with an infusion of terrific restaurants, most of which are very successful. The savage thug contingent has discovered that assaulting patrons and employees of these establishments is easy pickings. Our overworked, understaffed police department does not protect business or regular folks who would like to walk around Glenview at night but increasingly do so with trepidation or forego the exercise entirely for fear of the criminals.

Oakland is at the crossroads with no leadership in evidence. Rather we get more of the same nonsense about how "we cannot arrest the way out of the problem" -- palpable nonsense which is simply expedience absent coherence. So citizens must decide whether to reside within the confines of empirically based reality or the simplistic sophistry that passes for public discourse in Oakland's City Hall. This is the existential question for which Oakland has no answers.

Jonathan C. Breault

Oakland