Appointment was improper

Jan. 30's meeting to appoint a director to fill a vacancy on the Kensington Police Protection Community Services District board was improperly conducted on four levels:

  • Director Chuck Thombes ranked the candidates by his own preference and called the vote in that same order.

  • Director Linda Lipscomb held up undistributed sheets of "recommendations" for candidate Becky Stephens that were not part of the selection process. Those sheets were never distributed to the public.

  • The KPPCSD board members openly admitted only candidates Stephens and I would "close" the "doughnut hole" and represent young families in Kensington. Yet, they chose an empty-nester just like themselves.

  • The board members openly admitted they didn't want four lawyers on their five-person board but appointed a fourth lawyer anyway.

    Listen to the recording and you will hear all of these things unless the audible feedback the officer was fussing with muffled the whole meeting.

    It's well known that nepotism is part of human nature, causing collusion and corruption when you choose your own. This is exactly what the board did.

    I didn't have the opportunity to hold up a raft of 1,200 votes received in 2010-12. My husband asked how an appointment process even made sense since I was a third-place winner only a month before, when you remove the effect of the slates.


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    After eliminating me by the strategically ordered list in the meeting, they used lack of experience to eliminate Stephens later.

    Kensington Hilltop Elementary School loses out on getting representation on the board, even though two viable candidates with children in that school were stepping up. It's no wonder the board is facing five (apparently now seven) lawsuits.

    At some point they need to look in the mirror.

    Kim Zvik

    Kensington

    Councilman explains 'Pledge'

    As a member of the El Cerrito City Council, I initiated a discussion about the role of the "Pledge of Allegiance," which Tom Barnidge lambasted in a front-page column on Feb. 9.

    If Barnidge had attended the council meeting, watched the live stream or contacted me, he would know that I was clear that I love my country and its people and I respect the flag and the noble sentiments it represents.

    I accomplished my goal of having a reasoned discussion after examining the Pledge's deeper meaning and historical context. Continuing what is often a rote recitation of the Pledge, just because that's what has always been done, would have been easy, considering change-generated controversy. The result was the council reaffirming the recitation of the Pledge while providing a respectful alternative.

    We are all fortunate to live in a country that gives us the right to speak freely and the opportunity to raise difficult issues in an open, democratic forum. The comments I've gotten from El Cerrito residents have been supportive for sparking this debate.

    Loving America and finding the best way to act as a responsible public servant sometimes means asking questions and considering new approaches. That's what our country is built on.

    Mark Friedman

    El Cerrito

    Outstanding fire services

    I take issue with the West County Times' choice of phrase in its Feb. 18 editorial, "Leadership crisis is clear at ConFire."

    The Times let its less-than-favorable opinion of ConFire Chief Daryl Louder lead it into making an unjustified, unsupportable, broad-brush derogatory comment about all fire department chiefs when the editorial said, " ... the chief remains a traditional fire executive unwilling or unable to think creatively."

    The City of El Cerrito has enjoyed outstanding "fire executive leadership" by current Fire Chief Lance Maples and his predecessor Chief Mark Scott. Under their leadership, the residents of El Cerrito and Kensington have enjoyed excellent service at a savings to both communities.

    Whatever shortcomings the Times believes Chief Louder may have, please don't assume all fire executives share them. One could say that would be the same as if all readers believed Times reporters had the same professional abilities as those working for the tabloids.

    Al Miller

    El Cerrito

    Letter was off the mark

    Claire J. Baker's remarks in her Feb. 8 letter in the Times, "Gun buybacks one way to get rid of firearms," are very naive and uninformed.

    Does she remember a movie titled "The Magnificent Seven," starring Yul Brynner as the leader of the gunmen? It is a western-style remake based on a 1954 Japanese film, "Seven Samurai."

    Had the people in that story armed themselves adequately, they would not have suffered the way they did. Consequently, they needed hired guns to protect them. The outcome was that many were killed on both sides.

    And regarding her use of a biblical phrase " ... their swords (guns) into plowshares," she's off the mark as well. All Baker has to do to verify her mistake is go to the nearest zoo and look for the lamb sitting next to the lion in comfort and safety. Or bring a viper to a child to let him or her handle it without fear of death by snake poisoning.

    Baker needs to check her facts.

    Stan Ginn

    Albany

    Unethical red state behavior

    Gleefully confessing to grabbing power by underhanded methods in the press recently, the Republican Party displays its true colors and stripes: undemocratic, cheating, obsessed, braggarts, mad.

    And a southern state, Virginia, very recently went rosier red because a key Democrat in that state's Legislature, Sen. Henry L. Marsh III, was absent during a vote approving redistricting/gerrymandering. Marsh was absent in order to attend President Obama's inauguration.

    Mad for power, hating democratic institutions, willing to resort to any means to get what they feel is theirs by right as true royalists, utterly blind to fair play, ethics, rules, to compromise ... they, the hippopotamus in the room, may seem an endangered species to some but to this observer they seem capable of inflicting irreparable damage to our government for years to come.

    Terry Cochrell

    Berkeley