Dispelling some myths

In his recent column in the Times, "Here's why little Johnny got locked out of Yellowstone," Charles Krauthammer starts by stating that the Obamacare/shutdown battle has spawned myriad myths.

Let's dispel one of Krauthammer's myths: "The tea party was created by Obama's first term overreach."

I don't think anyone has stepped forward to take credit for creating the tea party, but it was initially funded by a variety of groups connected to the tobacco industry and the Koch brothers.

It's facile to blame the Affordable Care Act. These interests, however, would have attacked any Democratic president, regardless of his or her policy or agenda. The myth is the assertion that the tea party is a political party, when in reality it functions as a political action committee (PAC) and is funded by the nation's wealthiest neocons.

Regarding the rest of Krauthammer's column, the facts speak for themselves. Can President Obama let little Johnny into Yellowstone? Not unless the House and Senate send him a bill. Can the Senate let little Johnny into Yellowstone? They voted to do that, their bill is sitting in the House. Can the House let little Johnny into Yellowstone? They'd have to take a vote, but Speaker John Boehner isn't allowing it.

Was the ACA rammed down America's throat? It went through an exhaustive legislative process, with compromise and negotiation, before being approved by Congress. It survived a Supreme Court challenge.

It was one of the largest campaign issues in a presidential election. Controversial? Clearly. Rammed down our throats? Hardly.

Paul Mackinney

Albany

Incompetent managers?

I just received my New York City pension statement.

It read, in part, "The pension funds have recorded their fourth straight year of gains. This brings the total fund value to approximately $137 billion, the highest ever."

What's wrong with the California pension managers?

Sidney Kamil

Albany

Where is the compassion?

Recently, I spent one night sleeping on the sidewalk. I did it as a show of solidarity with homeless residents and in protest of the upcoming mass eviction of dozens of residents of an abandoned landfill, the Albany Bulb.

I couldn't sleep most of the night. Although I was with a large group, I felt insecure. My sore throat threatened to get much worse from sleeping in the cold. I was worried that police would cite or arrest me. In the middle of the night, I had to go to the bathroom, but all of the businesses were closed. The next morning, my whole body ached. I was smelly, tired and wanted to brush my teeth.

These are the details of how just one night affected me -- even though I had every advantage. Bulb residents will not fare nearly as well. They will lose most of their belongings and their pets.

They will be cited, arrested and harassed. They will spend some nights alone, vulnerable to assault. Every day will be a struggle for survival, with no energy left to search for a way out of homelessness.

To alleviate the inevitability of homelessness under the city's current eviction plan, Albany offers to pay for several months of FEMA-style dormitory trailers in a waterfront parking lot. These funds could go a long way toward permanent, affordable housing but, adding insult to injury, that won't happen.

The Sierra Club and Citizens for East Shore Parks claim this action is necessary to make a park. Parks should be about building community and bringing diverse members of society together. The proposed "park" will not be such a space. It will forever be a reminder of our society's callous disregard of human suffering and unwillingness to care for one another.

Megan Sallomi

Berkeley

Sallomi is a law student at Cal and a member of Share the Bulb.

Questions on charter schools

Could one of your reporters do an in-depth story on charter schools?

I (and other people) cannot understand how they operate in relation to regular schools. Tom Barnidge had a column in the Times about the Clayton Valley Charter School and how well it did with the Academic Performance Index results. (It did not compare it with the "regular" schools performance.)

The column described various programs that could also be done on regular campuses and perhaps are not.

But what struck me were two items, both of which cost money. "Teachers without new computers or projectors were supplied them." Teachers and staff "later were told to look under their chairs, where they each found a $1,000 bonus check." Are regular schools able to do the latter?

From where does this money come? Please, supply us with more information

Edith O. Valle-Riestra

Walnut Creek

Albany Bulb celebrates art

I propose that the Albany Bulb be declared that most unusual of parks -- one that fosters great urban walking, with and without dogs.

I propose it be a place that celebrates, as it already does, some of the best sculpture art in the Bay Area and a place where a set number of people can live and camp in peace, as long as they adhere to the rules of peaceful coexistence.

There is no other place like it that I know of and I believe some of the folks living there contribute to its upkeep and character and to the pleasure for the rest of us visiting there.

Sara DeWitt

Berkeley

Don't evict at Albany Bulb

Regarding your recent article about people living at the Albany Bulb, I am very disturbed to read that there are efforts to evict them.

I find the Bulb a unique and fascinating place, where the detritus of our urban environment -- ugly, grotesque stuff, such as concrete, rebar, etc. -- has been transformed by artists into wonderful and inspiring art. Some of the artists are the people who live there.

And, of course, trees, bushes and grasses have been growing over the years. It is an ugly place becoming a beautiful place.

I live in a nice home in a nice neighborhood, but I realize that not everyone in this world is like me. Some people don't fit in to our world. Some people can't get jobs and can't afford an apartment. What kind of society are we that we would force them out of the homes they have created?

I fervently wish the powers-that-be will allow this beautiful place to remain and to evolve.

Kathleen Whitney

Oakland