Filling Albany council vacancy
The vacancy on the Albany City Council should be filled by someone who can fairly represent the general political perspective of widely respected, deceased Mayor Peggy Thomsen.
More importantly, that person should declare unambiguously that he or she will not seek to run for election to the City Council in November. Incumbency, particularly in Albany, gives candidates a great advantage when the word "incumbent" is on the ballot next to their name.
All members on the City Council know about this distinct advantage they could bestow upon those wishing to fill this position for only four months. In their personal journeys to represent the residents of Albany, they all faced the challenge of competing in our cherished democratic process. Would they have wanted to compete against someone who could use the title of "incumbent" who had not earned it through a general election?
For the members of the council, the Golden Rule applies. Do unto other candidates for election as you would have them do unto you: Show your respect for our electoral democratic process and for all the citizens of Albany you represent.
This appointment is for only four months; three, actually, when you include the August recess.
The council members should do the right thing and not play king- or queen-maker. Would residents really want a new appointee on the City Council who, while adjusting to the new responsibility they will have to represent us, will also be campaigning for election? If council members want to do what's best for Albany, clearly the answer is, "No."
Statements weren't cited
Recently, you have printed several letters taking issue with Thomas Peele's June 15 column in the Times, "Kensington leaders make big stench in stifling their critics."
It would have been informative if the letters had cited and corrected erroneous statements from Peele's column. Instead, they accuse him of using hyperbolic phraseology, having an agenda, yellow journalism, failing, and error.
During the recent election, I read that Kensington's Polite Protection and Community Service District Board had spent tens of thousands of dollars on consultants, which were neither necessary nor appropriate for a community as small as this. Peele's column pointed out underfunded obligations.
I have been told that there have been other fiscal irregularities. I have no idea how accurate these allegations may be, but I hope that Kensington residents have an interest in finding out.
Perhaps the Times can help.
Ross M. Laverty
Korematsu fought injustice
I support the West Contra Costa school district renaming Portola school the Fred Korematsu Middle School.
Japanese-American citizens suffered the travesty and injustice of internment camps in Word War II. Fred Korematsu stood tall and fought this injustice, receiving the Presidential Medal of Honor from Bill Clinton and the state of California affirmed his courage by declaring January 30 to be Fred Korematsu Day.
Martin Luther King Jr. and Cesar Chavez also received this highest presidential encomium. These two giants in the fight for civil rights certainly are not diminished by Korematsu's receiving a similar honor. The school district has already named schools for them.
Remember, no Japanese-American was ever disloyal in World War II -- not one, not ever. In fact, the Fighting 442nd Army Division of Japanese Americans ranks first in American military decorations. Korematsu also fought bravely -- for justice. His faulty conviction was finally overturned in 1983.
A wonderful acknowledgment of virtue and responsibility, epitomizing due process and courage, would be to have the school district rename Portola after Fred Korematsu. My late brother, Steven, who attended Portola, would have strongly agreed in this endorsement.
Dansky, a 1956 graduate of Richmond Union High, taught forensics at Kennedy High School in Richmond for 25 years.
Bulb forced migration
Don't be fooled by the lack of loincloths: Displacement is forced migration, whether it affects indigenous rain-forest dwellers or the urban homeless.
To wit, the Albany Bulb was created in 1963 when Santa Fe Railroad dynamited Fleming Point and signed a contract with the City of Albany to deem it a disposal ground for debris. Albany is missing a grand opportunity to improve a unique haven for an established community.
Why wasn't the shortsighted Band-Aid handout (Ever tried to relocate on $3,000?) used to improve the Bulb with, say, plumbing for a communal shower? Don't forget that the current tax revenue generated from Golden Gate Fields is about $1.7 million.
The Bulb, as a homeless haven, improves our community as a whole. Berkeley and Albany should renew the eroded claim that they are socially progressive.
Remember, Albany was founded in 1908, when a group of local armed women protested the dumping of Berkeley garbage in their community, then called Ocean View. Refuse is in Albany's blood. Let's appropriately rename it "Wastopolis" and finally take Emma Lazarus' poem literally: "Give me ... the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me ... "
Beware of two stealth plans
A warning to El Cerrito and Richmond Annex residents: Two stealth, high-density projects are about to descend upon us.
The San Pablo Avenue Specific Plan and a Central Avenue 170-unit housing project are headed our way. Both of these projects have been poorly promoted to the residents and businesses. El Cerrito has been trying to slip these projects past the communities, bypassing reviews by those of us who will be impacted.
These plans call for increased tall high-density housing, reduced parking, traffic changes, bus bump-outs, shared lanes with bicycles, mid-block crosswalks, with major renovations to both of the avenues.
These projects will greatly affect traffic flow and emergency response in these two cities as well as the cities along Interstate 80 and the San Pablo Avenue corridor. Caltrans has also added traffic control stoplights to onramps along I-80 that will cause backups on city streets.
Go to www.el-cerrito.org for SPASP information and write your council members voicing your concerns about this project.