Racial segregation in city alive, well

A relatively small city like Oakland ought not to have seven individual districts, each with its own council member. This leads to Balkanization of the city and enables identity politics to flourish.

In the not-too-distant past, segregation was lawful and was slowly and with much suffering and sacrifice eliminated by people who realized that distinguishing people by race or ethnicity was immoral and segregation was eventually codified as illegal.

Even so, it has taken decades for desegregation to become the norm. Every 10 years, Oakland realigns the council district borders and much of the dialogue around the design of the districts centers on so-called communities of interest.

This is PC-sanctioned code for racial or ethnic groups to use entirely inappropriate criteria for assembling political districts with the implied assertion that for the purpose of political self-interest the use of overt segregation is acceptable and a justifiable tool to promote the alleged special needs of certain groups.

Why people believe that self-segregation for the purpose of political power is any different from the forced segregation of years past is difficult for me to comprehend. The Balkanization of society is a form of de facto segregation and is the antithesis of democracy with a large D.

The council districts in Oakland are virtual fiefdoms with absurd characters entirely undeserving of their power operating with impunity with the full knowledge that under the present system the odds are stacked against anyone challenging their power.

Jonathan C. Breault

Oakland

'Yes' on Measure A a no-brainer vote

Voting "yes" on Measure A, the Wildfire Prevention Assessment District, is one of the easiest choices I've had in years.

While the purpose of Measure A, to reduce the fuel load in our area to mitigate the likelihood of a widespread wildfire that could destroy homes and injure people, is based on solid facts and proven methodologies, the argument against the measure is fraught with misinterpretation and scare tactics.

As former president of the board of directors of the Moraga-Orinda Fire Protection District, I have first hand knowledge of successful strategies in urban-wild land interface areas that reduce risk to residents while maintaining a balance that preserves the natural beauty of our surroundings of which we are truly blessed.

Measure A is in perfect alignment with those strategies. Please join me in voting yes on Measure A.

Frank Sperling

Oakland

Stop animal cruelty at Mexican rodeos

I'm a big fan of cultural diversity -- at least until it crosses the line into animal abuse. California banned the Mexican rodeo's horse-tripping event in 1994.

An even more brutal charreada event, steer tailing, has remained out of the public eye, though it's practiced throughout the state. Cesar Chavez himself opposed this cruelty. Picture this: a mounted cowboy grabs a running steer by the tail, wraps the tail around his leg, then rides his horse off at an angle, slamming the hapless steer to the ground.

Bruises and contusions are routine, tails sometimes stripped to the bone, even torn off. Horses may suffer broken legs when the steers run the wrong way. You can see this on YouTube videos -- some sport. Steer tailing is not a standard ranching practice anywhere in the United States, nor is it sanctioned by any American-style rodeo association. Sen. Liz Figueroa, D-Fremont, carried an unsuccessful bill to outlaw the practice back in 2002. It's time to try again.

Most legislators will decide in the coming weeks which bills to carry next session. Please contact your state representatives now and urge them to introduce this humane legislation.

All may be written c/o The State Capitol, Sacramento, CA 95814. Here in the Bay Area, likely authors would be Sens. Loni Hancock, Ellen Corbett, Mark DeSaulnier, Mark Leno, Leland Yee and Jim Beall.

Eric Mills

coordinator, Action for Animals Oakland

To fight AIDS, U.S. should pay fair share

Remember when AIDS was a definite death sentence and nothing could be done? We are in sight of the end of AIDS, an epidemic that has killed 30 million people.

The replenishment conference for the Global Fund to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria will be held in the United States on Dec. 3. Donor nations will look to America for leadership. U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee has called for an American pledge of $5 billion over three years. That means all the nations of the world would provide a total of $15 billion over three years.

As she said in a recent piece: The promise of an AIDS-free generation is within our grasp, but the world must come together to achieve it. Some countries with the highest rates of new HIV infections have seen dramatic cuts since 2001 -- 73 percent in Malawi, 71 percent in Botswana, 58 percent in Zambia, 41 percent in South Africa.

Tuberculosis mortality has decreased significantly, and success rates climb. As for malaria, the world has seen an impressive reduction of deaths due to insecticide-treated bed nets. However, the reduction has not been maintained when the nets were not replaced.

If we do not maintain momentum of treatment and research, infection rates on all three diseases will go back up, and the cost to control resurgence may not be affordable. Please urge your Congress member to support $5 billion over three years as America's fair share in this December's Global Fund Donor Replenishment conference.

Sue Oehser

Oakland