Remembering the kids lost to violence

I would like to compliment the paper and its April 26 coverage of the 18th annual Memorial Ceremony at the Children's Grove on Fairmont Ridge. Each year, the ceremony takes place on the fourth Friday of April.

The ceremony remembers the children of all of Alameda County who have been lost to us because of violence. Former Supervisor Gail Steele continues to be the inspiration behind the ceremony -- but now the East Bay Regional Park District provides the support along with Alameda County Fire and the Sheriff's departments.

East Bay Regional Park District Directors Carol Severin and John Sutter were present at the ceremony. For 2012, there were nine children's names read; sad, but better than 2011, when 14 names were read. The hope remains that someday no names of children who were lost due to violence will be read.

Thanks to the parks directors and Gail Steele for keeping this ceremony going, and thanks to the paper for covering this important event.

Frank Mellon

EBMUD Director Castro Valley

Believe what you wish, but don't teach it

An April 17 letter writer wrote that evolution is fantasy, not a theory.

In his book "The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief," a New York Times bestseller, Dr. Francis Collins strongly supports the theory of evolution and debunks both creationism and intelligent design.

Collins is a devout Christian who served as director of the National Institutes of Health and was a leader of the Human Genome Project. His outstanding education does not conflict with his religiosity, and his belief in God parallels his respect for science. Incidentally, Collins was appointed in 2009 by Pope Benedict XVI to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.

In our country, we are free to believe in anything as individuals. We can join the Flat Earth Society, be convinced that the world was created in only six days, and that dinosaurs roamed the planet with men.

We must not, however, teach in our schools notions lacking any rational foundation.

Glauco Romeo

Fremont

Water plan benefits only business interests

The report that the Department of Water Resources will team up with private water contractors to plan transporting water south is a gross abdication of the department's public responsibility.

It resembles the infamous act of former Vice President Dick Cheney, who called in oil companies to formulate a national energy plan.

We cannot have any faith in a process where the likes of Westlands Water District, the front for agribusiness interests in the San Joaquin Valley, have direct power in deciding how to deliver water to themselves. It is a conflict of interest.

Westlands is an example of one of the biggest problems with our water policy: inordinate power of private moneyed interests so drunk on and addicted to taxpayer-subsidized water it thinks it is a birthright. Water is a precious public resource, and 80 percent of it already goes to agriculture.

The department needs to stop this ill-conceived plan, and assert its authority and obligation to serve the public interest of the entire state, not just the privileged few.

Victor R. Ochoa

Oakland

Hopeful for better choices in 2016

Regarding Doug Snider's April 22 letter, I felt the same way about the GOP and vowed to never vote Republican again after last November's election.

I felt the party had really let me down and all my financial support counted for nothing. My initial feeling was to become an independent.

However, my outlook changed and I no longer have bitter feelings about the Republican Party. I am hopeful we will have better choices in the 2016 election.

I am keeping my eyes wide open for some person to come forward with a strong platform and better ideas to convince me our United States will be a better place for all if that person -- of whatever party -- is elected.

Betty Viramontes

Pinole