June 21, 2024
East Bay Times Letters to the Editor for Aug. 23, 2023

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Redirect resources
from jail to community

Alameda County residents can be thankful that, unlike Wisconsin’s Waupun Correctional Institution, detainees at Santa Rita Jail are not subjected to months-long lockdowns.

But, nevertheless, warning signs abound. Staff shortages compromise re-entry planning for those locked up pretrial or serving sentences. And lack of re-entry preparation increases the likelihood of revolving-door returns into the jail.

Sheriff’s deputies work mandatory overtime because the Sheriff’s Office can’t hire enough deputies to run the jail, and the county can’t employ sufficient behavioral health clinicians to work at the jail.

The Board of Supervisors must take charge — supported by the courts, DA and public defender — to shift investment away from the jail and instead serve people’s housing and treatment needs in the community, through diversion and other programs.

Thereby fewer people will be needed to work at the jail.

Richard Speiglman

Close loopholes on
bar patio smoking

Secondhand smoke kills. That’s why smoking is illegal in most businesses. But there are exceptions.

Some cities, including Oakland and San Francisco, permit smoking on bar patios. The exemption applies only to bars, not to restaurants with outdoor spaces. Why do bars get special treatment? There is no difference in terms of the health risk.

I volunteer for LGBTQ Minus Tobacco. Our air quality measurements on bar patios in Oakland and San Francisco show that air in the EPA’s “Unhealthy” to “Hazardous” range is common.

While it is possible for patrons to avoid bars with smoky patios — and many do for that very reason — workers at patio bars don’t have that choice. They are forced to choose between their health and a paycheck.

Our polling indicates almost 90% of bar patrons support smoke-free bar patio policies.

It’s time to do away with loopholes in public health codes. Everyone deserves smoke-free air.

David Wingate

Thiessen misses chance
for useful journalism

Re: “Ex-Polish president Walesa tells youth to reject socialism” (Page A9, Aug. 18).

Marc Thiessen interviews Lech Walesa and reports that Walesa urges youth to reject socialism. Is that a surprise? Thiessen’s record documents that he opposes socialism. Could he have “cherry-picked” the full content of their conversation?

Thiessen misses a golden opportunity — the opportunity to ask and report some base questions: What have you found workable in socialism? When has it served Poland well? What do you think might be transportable?

Conversely: What have you found unworkable? What do you believe should be left to other social and economic systems such as capitalism, private enterprise, private property?

This was an opportunity missed for enlightening journalism, journalism to bring to Americans lessons from hard-earned experience.

Robert Sartin

GOP bails on big
reveal once again

Well, I see that Donald Trump has decided to scrap his plan to hold a press conference to show his “irrefutable report” about election fraud in the Georgia elections.

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I just wonder if he believes that the people are so stupid as to believe it, as we know that it would be a big fiasco to try and show something that is nothing but a lie. Just like when President Obama was running for president for the first time and Sean Hannity had “irrefutable evidence” that Obama was not born in the United States. Twelve years later and still no article. Same thing for Trump.

The GOP always claims to have something that shows off fraud, but it never seems to show up.

Robert Klingenberg