Alameda Food Bank fills need
I wish to thank the Times for its article about the Alameda County Community Food Bank.
Good Shepherd Episcopal Church in Berkeley prepares bag lunches every Monday morning for the trabajores (day laborers) who wait for work in the shape-up areas outside of Truitt & White and other local lumber companies.
We were doing this before we joined the food bank, and were constantly begging for money, discounts and help. We make from a low of 70 bag lunches now, when work is available, to about 120 bag lunches in midwinter.
Two local bakeries, Semifreddi and Acme, provide us with donations of gourmet bread. Local gardeners provide us with fresh lettuce and basil. Two of our seven regular volunteers are church members, the rest are from the community. Most of the volunteers are low income, but they want to help others who are younger and more needy.
With the low-cost tuna fish and free fruit and snack foods from the Alameda County Community Food Bank, we can self fund all the other costs, such as paper bags, sandwich bags and transportation.
Without the training, supplies and encouragement from the Food Bank, we might have found this too much of a burden. But thanks to them, at least 70 low-income working men get one good meal a week and their families get extra fruit to eat the rest of the week.
The need is everywhere, and the Food Bank, along with local businesses and individuals who donate their surplus food, helps to fill the need.
Police and the community
Under the leadership of Police Chief Chris Magnus, Richmond's homicide rate has dropped to historically low levels and relations between the police and the community are much improved.
Community policing methods, including getting officers out of their cars and talking to the residents they are serving, are seen as key to this improvement. Liaisons within the community, including former gang members and local ministers, are a vital link.
Ferguson, Missouri demonstrators and liberal bloggers have staked their argument on the presumption that Officer Darren Wilson shot Michael Brown without a justifiable reason. Ferguson officials spin a counternarrative that Brown was a bad guy and actually the aggressor.
There is a third argument to be made: When a predominantly white police force is seen as an occupying force by a community predominately of a racial minority, there are higher rates of crime and officer-involved shootings.
What if Ferguson had community policing? Possibly the tragedy would never have happened.
Being realistic about Chevron
In his Aug. 22 letter, Don Gosney accuses the Richmond City Council of extorting money from Chevron -- in effect, stealing from the rich and lining their pockets.
Let me offer a more realistic point of view. Chevron had a large development project before the planning board. It is the city's right and responsibility to evaluate the environmental impact of the project and weigh the pros and cons.
As with many large projects, developers negotiate extra benefits to the community in an effort to mitigate some of the cons and push the project over to the pro side. Negotiating these benefits is the job of the city staff, commissioners and council members. And Chevron seems willing to spend money to both do good things in Richmond and to influence public opinion in its favor.
As for city council members lining their pockets: Negotiating funds to send Richmond high school graduates to college or attempting to keep Doctors Medical Center is hardly self-serving.
For the record, four council members have never taken a cent from Chevron for themselves: Jovanka Beckles, Gayle McLaughlin, Tom Butt and Jael Myrick. Corky Booze and Nat Bates have. But let's give everyone on the council the benefit of the doubt and say that each, in their particular way, is trying to do what's best for Richmond residents.
Animal control policies
The Antioch City Council refused to adopt TNR, a proven and humane program to trap, neuter and return cats and kittens as a population control method.
Instead, they passed an ordinance that bans feeding of feral cats, not understanding that starving the cats will not solve the problem. In the last week, four cats and kittens have been cruelly killed in downtown Antioch; one was a 9-week-old kitten killed by an unknown person with a caustic substance that led to a protracted and painful death.
Instead of investigating the animal cruelty, Antioch Animal Control is now citing senior citizens who care-take these animals, despite an agreed-upon six month reprieve. I wonder if senior citizens are being targeted for citations because they are reporting deaths of the cats to Animal Services.
Is Antioch Animal Control doing their job or are they getting involved on the inhumane side of the politics in the city instead of protecting the animals? If protection of the animals is not their job, then who protects animals in Antioch?
Many benefit from filming
Dick Patterson's letter regarding Assembly Bill 1839, a tax incentive to bring film production back to California, is typical of anti-union rhetoric.
Patterson fails a basic understanding of ripple-effect economics. When a film or television production comes to town, it is not just film production workers who benefit.
Film workers are members of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees. We are not the only union members who work on and benefit from film work. Consider these businesses and scores of others: hotels, restaurants, hardware stores, lumber yards, grocery stores, and gas stations.
It is not about our wages driving film work out of California; it is about other states and countries, such as Georgia, Louisiana and Canada, offering tax incentives. When producers choose to shoot there, millions of dollars are spent in those other places instead of California.
Some prefer to point the finger of blame on unions rather than scrutinizing the economics.
Hornbeck is a member IATSE Local 16.
Bond measure for profit?
State Assembly members Joan Buchanan and Curt Hagman asserted, in their July 20 Times opinion piece, that California is in "desperate need" of a new school facilities bond, arising from a secondary need to "keep our schools and housing in pace with the improving economy."
The inclusion of "housing" touches on the real need. The piece claims that at Mountain House High School, in a community with "the highest percentage of underwater mortgages in the nation in 2008 ... the quality of their schools ... sells their homes." The implication is that taxpayers pay for school facilities construction to improve home sales.
I question why taxpayers should go into debt for schools if the only purpose is help real estate speculators turn a good profit. While the real estate speculators and the construction firms, two groups that contribute to the campaign funds of state politicians, will benefit by this new construction, taxpayers stand to gain nothing.
Good education doesn't depend on a building. School improvement is being used as a smoke-screen to convince taxpayers to subsidize real estate developers.