Not a breach of the public trust

Daniel Borenstein's Oct. 25 column in the Times on the BART wage package gives an unbalanced explanation of the settlement terms.

Yet again, Borenstein portrays the BART workers as greedy and damaging the public interest by forcing management to agree to a net wage increase of 11.7 percent over four years. But if we divide the 11.7 percent over four years of the contract, the average annual net wage increase is only 2.9 percent.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, inflation has averaged 2.8 percent over the past three years in the San Francisco area. After compounding, the effective rate of inflation outpaces these wage increases. In other words, this settlement only leaves the BART workers treading water.

This settlement was hardly a breach of the public trust caused by the workers. It was a typical settlement of compromises.

Instead of always pointing the finger at people who are trying to maintain their standard of living, Borenstein might address the question of why it took the death of two workers to bring BART management back to the table to resolve the strike with the kind of a settlement that could have been achieved without a strike.

Hank Gehman

Berkeley

Wish to create a medieval society

I just returned from Ireland, where I learned they had 3,500 castles at one point, which I think was their version of gated communities.

Our modern overlords, earls and barons, unlike the wealthy in the postwar era, seem headstrong to recreate a similar medieval society.

I'm busy planting apple trees so I'll have something to sell on a street corner.

Steve Leathers

Concord

Demonstrated real compassion

If I had the funds to do so, I would offer full scholarships to professional caregiver programs, or any school program of their choice, to Miguel Alvarez and his co-workers, who stayed at the Castro Valley senior home to care for its residents.

If I had the position to do so, I would offer them jobs. If I were a leader of their communities or churches, I would honor them with fitting tributes. If I were in a position with the state to do so, I would not challenge, but honor, Alvarez's self-documented hours and pay him.

But, as an unemployed registered nurse who was forced to resign for attempting patient/staff advocacy at a Martinez hospital this year, I have none of these options.

I encourage anyone who does have the funds, or is in a job recruitment position or mayoral capacity, to officially and formally recognize these individuals for their selfless actions.

They demonstrate more compassion, translated into action, than many of the professionally licensed caregivers I've worked with over the last 29 years.

Shame on those alleged "caregivers" who abandoned their patients. This abandonment should result in the revocation of their licenses -- forever.

Mary List

Port Costa List has a master's degree in nursing.

Berkeley's idiotic 'cultural training'

The latest outbreak of Berkeley's "idiocy virus" was detailed in your story about "cultural training" for Berkeley schools' white teachers.

The Berkeley School Board, concerned by the number of black student suspensions, is brainwashing teachers to acknowledge that "talking back" and "defiance" are bastions of the black culture and that teachers must learn to "manage" (accept?) these classroom disruptions.

The board also proposes taking punishment by suspension off the table for these undisciplined behavioral aberrations and their negative impact on the learning experience for the rest of the class.

One can hope the board will, in its great wisdom, train teachers to accommodate cultural idiosyncrasies of other ethnic groups in the classroom. Otherwise, the board's actions will look suspiciously like reverse racism: only black pupils favored with a free behavioral pass, white teachers carrying the can.

What's the message the black pupil will take away from this exercise? That it's OK to operate outside the usual standards of decent behavior, irresponsibly, with no consequences?

The pupils concerned would have been served better if the board spent its time, money and effort training them -- not the teachers. The subject of that training? They can behave how they like at home, but at school all pupils must meet behavioral standards designed for everybody's well-being.

Christopher J. Panton

Walnut Creek