Bratton must mend community fences

In observing the coverage and conversation around new Oakland Police Department consultant William Bratton, much of it has been focused on the narrow scope of his extremely expensive contract and fears of the infamous stop-and-frisk tactics Bratton employed in Boston, New York and Los Angeles.

Now that Bratton is here to stay, it is my hope that he can mend fences with the grass-roots citizens groups who were his initial opponents to better inform his work.

Whether his contract was worth its price will be proven by the outcomes of his tenure, and he will undoubtedly find success difficult to achieve if he views the community as adversaries of his agenda rather than allies in reducing violent crime in Oakland.

Miquette Thompson

Oakland

Children should take bow for oratory

Lafayette Elementary School, located in Oakland, took first place at the second Regional MLK Jr. Oratorical Fest. The event was held Feb. 15 at Acts Full Gospel Church.

This means that every individual class at Lafayette Elementary that participated in the event won its own first-place award for its performance. Children, we share in your success. Take time to feel great joy and pride for the city of Oakland, pride for the community and special pride for Lafayette Elementary School.

It takes a village. Children, congratulations, take a bow.


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Carmen Hendon

Oakland

Special program on status of women

The League of Women Voters of Oakland, continuing its tradition of education, is presenting a special program Wednesday, "The Status of Women in the World: A Personal View."

American Muslim women will discuss the challenges of living in a democratic society. This presentation will be followed by a firsthand report on the latest session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.

This program is open to the community and starts at 6 p.m. at Oakland City Hall, 1 Frank Ogawa Plaza, Hearing Room 2. The public is invited. For more information, visit www.lwvoakland.org or call 510-834-7640.

Kathleen Russell

League of Women Voters of Oakland

Head Start should meet expectations

Head Start's fact sheet says it "promotes school preparation by enhancing the social and cognitive development of children through the provision of educational, health, nutritional, social and other services."

A recent letter writer says "everyone knows" it's just free child care for the working poor. If so, the author loses his argument with the comic strip duck Mallard Fillmore who says Head Start is a failure.

It is not "absurd to hold any other expectation" for Head Start than academic preparation for rising out of poverty. That is precisely what we taxpayers are paying for. If Head Start is not teaching and empowering children to earn, keep and build wealth, stop taking our money for it.

"Meaningful redistribution of wealth" just means robbing Peter to pay Paul without teaching Paul the life skills to earn for himself and achieve financial stability. The real bullies are those who want to take other people's money to redistribute. They're also cowards who wouldn't stand a chance in a fight against a comic strip duck.

Beth Elliott

Oakland

Loose parenting leads to tragedy

Related to the discussions at all government levels on gun control legislation, many strategies have been discussed, including a national mental health database for individuals with severe conditions, increased background checks, gun registries, strong-arming gun stores to close and the number of ammunition magazines a person can have.

Whereas each of these ideas may have some merit, laws and/or executive orders will do little to solve the problem. For example, there is the loophole that will preclude background checks that no one has mentioned -- inheritance of firearms.

With as many as 55 million U.S. households owning firearms, it is estimated that a quarter of them would be passed down to family members. Although there have always been gun murders, society seems to increasingly violent, and I blame a significant amount of it on ineffective parenting. One can argue that the Aurora and Newtown massacres could have been averted if parents took more of an interest in the lives of their children, recognized any mental health concerns and got them the needed help and encouraged them not to use firearms.

In general, loose parenting leads to tragic events affecting many families such as deaths from firearms, alcohol and drug overdoses and reckless/impaired driving.

Kurt Kleier

Oakland