I just read the "Town Dandy" column where you call Oakland a "vibrant city ... where buzzing young people fill the streets ... with their schemes ... and a heady sense of possibility..." (June 24).
I have not been in Oakland for quite some time, but I do follow the San Francisco Chronicle, where headlines such as today's "Dysfunctional politics on display in Oakland" and "1 dead, 5 wounded in memorial vigil shootings" appear quite often.
Oakland had the sixth-highest violent crime rate in the country in 2009 and the highest in California, according to preliminary FBI statistics. That's not an energy I'd care to see us match -- and it's going to get worse. In one article, Sgt. Dom Arotzarena, president of the Oakland Police Officers Association, is quoted as saying, "This is a dangerous city and it could be a lot more dangerous," as the mayor's proposed budget calls for laying off 150 of their 776 police force (plus $18.5 million in other cuts) to cope with a $30.5 million deficit in their $400 million budget.
I do, however, agree with your general theme, particularly the part about "driving on autopilot since the early hippie days." We do indeed need to start "movin' on up," because we are fast becoming a touristy backwater with no real "economic base," which I define as sustainable living wage jobs.
That having been said, Oakland's "heady sense of possibility" appears to be an "earthly reality" that's the pits. I personally prefer the increasingly frequent reports of POP successes in dealing Eureka's problems -- and no reduction in "boots on the ground" -- rather than what the residents of Oakland are facing.
Leo Sears, Eureka
Last week's "Town Dandy" was a bewildering throwback on the part of its writer to the wayward days of the Timber Wars, when oppositional politics ruled the day. Sure, this White Hat/Black Hat zeitgeist made for a great deal of color in news stories, but Hank, is it really what's going on these days locally? That "Humboldt County left-liberals are dedicated to the proposition that nothing should ever change -- no new development... (etc.)"? I beg to differ.
Dedicated responsible-development advocates in Eureka support (and have been working to implement) great new projects like a local community swim complex ("Mission SwimPossible"), new industries like Short Sea Shipping/Marine Highway based out of Eureka and the numerous smart growth aspects encompassed in the Ridgewood Village project proposal adjacent to our city. For you to maintain that local activists are against new development in toto such betrays a myopia and cynicism on your part that I would say actually acts as a drag upon their realization, given your position atop a soapbox and your stated wish to free up the political logjam that stands in their way.
Hank: Open your eyes! Get out of your house! Attend a meeting! There you will see your community brethren engaged in the work of civic institution-building, which includes opposing irresponsible projects, as well as cleaning house, shepherding new ideas through to fruition and creating the circumstances in which future smart developments can occur.
It may be easier to decry those doing this hard work than to join them or cheer them on, but please -- don't mischaracterize us.
Neal Latt, Eureka
Sweet Spot: Neal Latt wins a Bon Boniere sundae for sending our favorite letter of the week.