Boy Scouts not only ones discriminating

Regarding the recent letter writer who suggested the Boy Scouts of America should lose their tax-exempt status because he doesn't like their policies: perhaps he should consider how many other tax-exempt entities discriminate.

The Girl Scouts: they are guilty of gender discrimination. They won't accept my son as a member. Like the BSA, their oath requires the members serve God and their faith. Surely that's a problem for girls whose families are agnostic or atheist. Cut them off. No exemption for them. Don't let them use the church facilities. Or how about the Black Chamber of Commerce, La Raza or Asian-American anything? Surely their names tell it all. They discriminate on the basis of race. No tax exemption for them.

Or how about those Muslims, Catholics and Jews? You have to learn their Koran, Bible or torah, and possibly (if male) get circumcised before you join those guys. You can't be an atheist and join those groups. Religious discrimination.

Come to think of it, why are any of these groups tax-exempt? Why should I be forced to pay to make up for the lost revenue from any of the above sources? While I agree with the purposes of the BSA and the GSA, I'm against the ethnic this or that of anything, and just about every organized religion, including the letter writer's Lutheran religion.

Perhaps he might remember a saying from his own book: "He among you who is without sin, let him first cast a stone ... "

Steven Archibald

Don't let nostalgia delay work on school

At the April 15 AUSD "community engagement" meeting regarding the Historic Alameda High buildings, I was dismayed by the tenor of the remarks: nostalgia-tinged with blindness to the facts.

The School Board's responsibility is to the current and future students of all of Alameda. The district has no particular responsibility to a school's alumni. Any school's heart is its people: its students and staff. Our city is very fortunate to have an array of excellent schools at all levels all over the Island; I taught at Chipman and Encinal for 22 years, so this I know. These schools are magnets for young families and sources of pride for all residents.

A 2010 survey in the district archives (on the district website) found that while 58 percent of respondents regarded quality of instruction as "most important," only 1 percent found "facility needs" most important. Of course those surveyed were not even asked if the needs of one earthquake-unsafe school building — a building students have not been able to occupy since 1978 -- outweighed all other considerations. Facility needs are everywhere in this district. Many other young people's educations are at stake in this regard, now and for decades to come.

A few years ago and only a block from the site of the current controversy -- what should happen to Historic Alameda High -- residents were crying wolf over the detrimental effects of a potential movie theater and parking structure. We are all now celebrating the fact that those crying wolf at that time have been proved wrong.

Perhaps the viable two-thirds of the structure can stand and the easternmost section be demolished. The land it sits on is very valuable. Its potential new uses are many and exciting: additional facilities for AHS, public space, recreational facilities or other purposes. But for these ideas to emerge, residents must not feel bullied by one interest group.

Helen Harris

'Dishcrawl' event not apropos at moment

Sorry, fellow foodies. I enjoy a lovely meal out at one of our many diverse Alameda eateries as much as anyone, and I certainly don't fault the four local restaurants that participated in the recent "Dishcrawl" phenomenon for wanting to showcase their specialties in an effort to bring diners back for more, especially in these hard economic times. But to tout this four-stop "culinary adventure" as a welcome trend left me with a an unsavory aftertaste.

No doubt we're all guilty of a bit of hedonism from time to time, especially when it comes to food, but do we really need to celebrate such marches toward gluttony just because we can (read: afford it)? The "slowed-pace" of eaters mid-crawl, the fact that "most diners left food on their plates to save room for dessert," and quoting one diner as saying "it was going to be hard to eat at the last place" as he looked at his full plate of food were just a few of the more telling -- and sad -- observations.

Perhaps I'm being too harsh. Maybe we Alamedans do have more in common than I'm allowing for. When one diner gushed that "you never know what to expect," I got to thinking: How true that must also be for the thousands of "nutritionally challenged" families and elderly served by our local Alameda Food Bank and Meals on Wheels programs. Often they too don't know where their next meal is coming from, or what it might be.

By all means, enjoy your meal out, even saving room for dessert, as I sometimes do. But in doing so, let's forego glorifying our gluttony and instead celebrate moderation, if for no other reason than to remember our (growing numbers of) neighbors who rarely know anything but.

Try a homegrown 'dishcrawl' of (at least) one humble meal a week, then donate what you might've spent to one of the above-named charities. You'll feel lighter for it.

Jerome Szymczak