Column about BART left out key facts

Dan Borenstein's May 12 column, "Prepare for a long, hot summer of BART negotiations," left out some key facts.

The average BART front-line worker dedicates 17 years to make BART work, after which we earn a modest pension of $21,000. Our workplace retirement plans are all we receive; we're not eligible for Social Security.

We operate BART trains, we don't buy them. Elected members of BART's board of directors have had 40 years to plan for purchasing new cars and failed to do so. We're more than willing to help them raise necessary funds from the customary federal, state and local sources, and recently held a "Brownies for BART" bake sale to get the process started.

The Metropolitan Transportation Commission furnished wage comparisons between BART front-line workers and comparable transit agencies in its April 2012 Transit Sustainability Project. "Base wages appear reasonable when compared to national peers and Bay Area wage indices," it concluded.

When adjusted for Bay Area cost of living, BART workers' wages were lower than transit systems in Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago and Washington, D.C.

Antonette C. Bryant

President Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555 Oakland

Berkeley police should use Tasers


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As a long-time resident of Berkeley, I have been happy with the way our police handle crimes. So I was surprised and disappointed to learn that the Berkeley Police Department cannot use Tasers, when most of the other California police departments do so effectively.

More criminals are carrying knives and guns, and our police officers are forced to use firearms to protect themselves and the public. While I have never personally come in contact with a Taser, it seems to me that there would be less injuries involved and our officers would not have to use their guns if they had access to Tasers.

Tasers can temporarily incapacitate a criminal so that he or she can be quickly apprehended. I support Berkeley considering the use of Tasers as an alternative to force.

Maureen Farrell

Berkeley

Youth brainwashing may be diminishing

I'm totally exasperated by the recent news of religion still causing the death of innocent children.

Most gruesome is the case of the Philadelphia faith healers who put their imaginary god above the law by denying care for their infant son.

On the other hand, the good news is that the Boy Scouts decided to allow gays and atheists to become members.

Is the religious brainwashing of our youth starting to break down? For humanity's sake, I certainly hope so.

David M. Mandell

Leader, Fremont Atheist Forum

Teachers' outbursts were out of order

At the May 22 Oakland school board meeting, a young African-American girl held by her mother at the microphone attempted to express support for her teacher. Many loud teachers almost drowned her out -- a behavior none of them would accept from their students, of which they send far too many to the principal's office (especially our African-American boys).

Unfortunately, everyone at the meeting had to endure the teachers' constant outbursts, and their actions encouraged volume over extemporaneous speeches that attempted to communicate a message of low pay and poor working conditions. Plus, many teachers felt that the one minute rule didn't apply to them.

I would hope next time the teachers select content and order over volume and chaos -- for our children's sake and to lead by example.

I'm concerned for the little girl. Which example will she learn?

Gerald Green

Oakland

Remembering those who died

My flag still waves high and another Memorial Day has passed.

I watched the pomp and listened to honors given the men of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard who lost their lives winning the fight over tyranny during World War II.

However, I heard no mention of those without whom all those mentioned above would not have had anything with which to fight -- the merchant seamen. None of these seamen were carried off a plane in a flag-covered casket as bands played, cannons boomed, rifles fired and taps played.

They're lying at the bottom of the sea on which they sailed to bring supplies and the ugly tools of war into battle. We often hear references to "Rosie the Riveter," but never a word about those who lost their lives sailing the ships Rosie helped build.

Except for the Marines, more of these seafaring men were lost per capita than any other branch of the service.

Now that the long weekend of celebration is over, it would be nice if today, the original Memorial Day, some of us would devote a moment to those brave men in their watery graves still giving a thumbs up to the ships passing overhead.

Maybe one day these forgotten veterans will be included in the accolades given all the others on the many occasions brave fighting men are showered with their much-deserved praise.

David Garcia

Bethel Island