Apologies for how tax audit handled

City management apologizes to the business community for the way in which the Business License Tax Audit was conducted. We heard from many of you and want you to know we listened. As a result of your feedback, we have decided to discontinue the business license audit program through Municipal Auditing Services.

The business community is a valuable part of the fabric of Alameda, and we view our businesses as partners in the health and vibrancy of our town. We continue to believe, and think you'd agree, that having the proper licenses and permits to operate a business in Alameda is a matter of fairness and in the interest of all existing businesses and the citizens.

Reviewing the record not only allows the city to capture past-due taxes, it ensures that those of you who do the right thing are not at a competitive disadvantage. Having said that, we understand that a different approach is warranted to ensure compliance with our existing laws.

Going forward, we will consult again with business leaders to develop a program that ensures compliance while also recognizing the sensitivity of your business dealings and information and more importantly, treats our businesses like the partners you are.

Again, please accept our apology and our thanks to those of you who took the time to voice your concerns.

Liz Warmerdam

assistant city manager

Shakespeare Club grateful for support

The Shakespeare Club of Encinal High School would like to acknowledge the support we received for our first Citywide Shakespeare Monologue Competition. We could not have held the competition without the support of our judges: Julia Bruce, Tristan Cunningham, Bob Lundy-Paine, and Jeffrey Smith; our advisers: Gene Kahane and Jeff Raz; and our generous sponsors: ACMT, Altarena Playhouse, Stewart Chen, David W. Johnson DDS, Levy's Bagels, Peet's Coffee, Semifreddi's Bakery, Tucker's Ice Cream and Virago Theatre Company.

We were also fortunate to receive support from former Alameda resident and Academy Award-winning actor Tom Hanks. Mr. Hanks was kind enough to send our group a personal letter of encouragement. He offered tips on performing Shakespeare and best wishes for making this an annual event.

Finally, we'd like to thank all of our performers for their participation. They were tremendous. We hope to see you all next year.

Linnea Arneson

president, Shakespeare Club Encinal High School Class of 2015

Twin Towers church OK with gay unions

In recent months, the United Methodist Church has been in the news as it moves to discipline pastors for performing same-sex marriages. In Pennsylvania, Rev. Frank Schaefer was stripped of his clerical credentials for performing his son's same-sex marriage.

In March, retired Rev. Thomas Ogletree will be put on trial for performing a same-sex marriage for his son. Action against a retired bishop for the same "offense" is pending.

These disciplinary treatments are based on the Methodist Book of Discipline which considers "homosexuality incompatible with Christian teaching."

Nearly 600 United Methodist churches have joined the Reconciling Ministries Network of the United Methodist Church. They believe that the Book of Discipline is incorrect on this point.

Twin Towers UMC, here in Alameda, is one of these churches. We know Jesus was an inclusive shepherd and all persons are welcome at His table. Even His murderers were not excluded as He asked the Father to forgive them because they didn't understand their actions.

Who is anyone to presume to speak for Jesus? Who is anyone to exclude, on any basis, another person from full participation in the Christian community? Nowhere in the Gospels do we find Jesus rejecting anyone based on sexual orientation. Judgment is not ours.

As an open and inclusive church community, we at Twin Towers UMC welcome all.

Jim Lair

Steve Garner

Fred Fielding

lay leaders Twin Towers United Methodist Church

Reasonable action on drought overdue

One wonders why our leaders are dithering on this. Is it because it's an election year and the public hates the word mandatory? I do hope that a good reason for not acting so far will be presented. I can find no rationale for not taking action. Common-sense conservation is long-overdue.

Anne Spanier