Tax opponents' stance distorted
There have been recent claims that the opponents of Piedmont's City Council-backed parcel tax extension (Measure Y) believe that maintaining the current level of the city's services, partially funded by this source of income, is not essential.
I read the parcel tax ballot argument and found nothing in the opposition's arguments that support this contention. The No on Y proponents' key position in their opposition statement is this: "The Council has so far ignored the most serious recommendations presented. Ill-advised spending continues on its upward trend .... We are not opposed in principle to parcel taxes. If the Council takes needed actions to control costs, we will support one for essential purposes in the future."
I am a bit baffled as to how those statements can be judged to be saying that the No on Y proponents do not believe it necessary to maintain an essential level of city services. In response to the claim that the city has done little to curtail expenses, several members of the City Council asserted at their July 2 meeting that the city has made significant progress in reigning in finances. However, the specific facts in support of this contention are few if any.
Another individual and I have sent letters to another newspaper requesting that the City Council inform the public of their "Plan B" in the event that Measure Y does not pass. An informed citizenry
The voters and citizens of Piedmont deserve more transparency in city government. When may we expect it?
City's fiscal talk, walk don't match
I have read the arguments for and against the extension of the parcel tax, and was struck by the seeming contradiction between some of the city's recent actions and the arguments in favor of renewing the parcel tax.
The proponents argue that the $1.5 million in revenue that the parcel tax brings in is essential in order to continue to maintain "essential city services." My simple question is that if $1.5 million is so "essential" to the city's budget, why didn't the city losses of almost twice that amount (at least $2.5 million) on the Piedmont Hills underground project likewise threaten essential services? And how did the city react to that loss? Their "investigation" of it could be charitably described as dilatory and seemed more to reflect an attitude of avoidance rather than any sense of urgency or resolve. And then when they finally came up with "lessons learned" recommendations almost two years later, they proceeded to basically ignore all of them in connection with administering the Blair Park project, which is apparently still in litigation and has continuing cost overruns of at least $100,000 and up to $400,000 if you count staff time. This was a project they repeatedly told us was a "gift" -- that is, it was not supposed to cost the city anything. It has turned out to be anything but.
Why does the city then apparently feel that despite the undergrounding losses, it was OK for decision-making to remain business-as-usual but now it is essential that we renew taxes to recover a fraction of what was lost? Wouldn't it make more sense to change the way the city approaches these fiscal issues and actually take real steps now to avoid continuing to incur large losses, rather than maintain the status quo and rely on more taxes to backfill for prior poor decision-making and losses? Actions speak louder than words.
Robert C. Hendrickson
Oakland should declare bankruptcy
Mr. Ignacio de la Fuente asserts that there was a crisis when Oakland police officers were laid off, and indeed it was a crisis, perhaps, but not one born within a vacuum.
Oakland is bankrupt financially, ethically, morally and most importantly, the reservoir of ideas has run dry. The place is adrift with leadership that inspires no one. The rationalizations and explanations from various players within the confines of City Hall do not tell the whole story. The city has been mismanaged by unqualified leaders for decades now -- the proverbial "chickens are about to come home to roost."
Blaming the police union is easy and convenient, and certainly unions have had a huge part in dismantling the finances of this city.
The politicians, for decades, have postponed tough choices in the absurd and vain belief that better times are just around the corner.
When the inimical Mayor Jean Quan says that the recession is ebbing, I just laugh at the absurdity of this ignorance. The implication from this nonsensical declaration is that the endemic, chronic budgetary problems will abate.
The town has to declare bankruptcy. If anyone running for mayor next year tells you differently, then you know they are just another person looking for a job. Oakland desperately needs a new vision -- one that comports with reality and does not prolong the deception and denial which has rendered Oakland City Hall hopelessly incapable of coherent and constructive policies that could, if implemented properly, lead the town out of the wilderness and into civilization.
Jonathan C. Breault
Rest in peace, beloved barber
I was attending a social justice meeting at the Aug. 29 dinner of one of our members when Dorothy Finger met me in the stairwell. She looked as if she was about to cry. I asked her what was wrong. She told me, "Our Anthony, our dear Anthony, had a heart attack."
At first I thought, "Anthony ... a member of our congregation?" But then she clarified, "Our beloved Anthony from the beauty salon."
I asked, "Where is he?" She said, "He's gone. He passed away." I was stunned. I am still stunned.
I'm grateful that he didn't suffer, that it was a heart attack. I believe that in that moment, Anthony Fuschillo, a former alter boy in the Catholic Church, saw the gates of heaven open before him with Saint Peter welcoming him in with open arms.
It's the rest of us who will suffer -- every time we walk into Lincoln Square shopping center on Redwood Road, to pick up something at Safeway, or Hunan Yuan or Red Boy Pizza. Admit it. Don't you look for him, every time you're there, running an errand?
The truth is Anthony touched much more than the hairs on our heads. He touched our hearts. He knew our stories. He remembered our stories. He accompanied us for years in the unfolding stories of our lives, with the presence of a minister.
Tonight, as I go to sleep, as I close my eyes, I say a prayer to Anthony Fuschillo, who made us laugh, who made us beautiful, and who saw the beauty in each one of us, and magnified it.
Sweet dreams, dear Anthony, my patron saint of beautiful haircuts. You are truly one of the saints in light.
Rev. Laurie Manning, MBA, MEd MDiv
Pastor Skyline Community Church United Church of Christ Oakland
Is cure worse than illness?
Counties and vector control agencies should address the risk of West Nile virus with the toolbox of safe, effective and nontoxic measures that are integral to successful integrated pest management programs across California.
The spread of West Nile virus should be placed in proper context. More people are made ill and die from common diseases across the state. Unfortunately, current control methods such as fogging pose extreme risks to our health and the environment. Many of the synthetic chemicals that aren't disclosed but are sprayed over our communities are made up of possible carcinogens and endocrine disrupters.
Fortunately, more effective and safer alternatives exist. We can better stop the spread of West Nile virus at the source. Less-toxic controls exist for controlling mosquito larvae, methods that have were shown to be effective decades ago.
Our local officials should follow the lead of other cities and towns across the country and be proactive rather than reactive.
community organizer Pesticide Watch Berkeley