Letters to the Editor

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Editor:
I feel disgusted that I am compelled to even address the issue of Assm. Rob Bonta’s citizenship (“Prove U.S. citizenship,” June 28). Bonta’s father Warren was born in the United States, not in the Philippines as Stephen Slauson claimed. Slauson has presented a lie to the residents of Alameda and he ought to publicly correct his statement.

Shining a light on and calling out hate, bigotry, intolerance and xenophobia is what Bonta tried to do. It is how we take a stand for our values and hopefully it makes us stronger. Bonta has been asked to prove that he is a citizen of this country. Vice Mayor Malia Vella has been asked to prove her residency in Alameda, former President Barack Obama was asked to prove he is a citizen of this country.

Bonta, Vella and Obama are persons of color. Other Caucasian councilmembers have not been asked to prove anything. It is hard not to think “bigotry,” especially given how President Donald Trump has fostered hatred, bigotry and misogyny. 

Some letter writers in the July 12 and 19 editions of the Sun complained that Bonta tried to label everyone working to oust the Vice Mayor as racist. The person who was intimately involved in the recall petition, Slauson, is the man who seemed to bring “birtherism” to Alameda. It does not seem like a big leap that Bonta, or any other Alamedan, would associate petition signers with “birthers.” 

I would like to ask Emily Shea, (“Upset over letter to Assemblyman,” July 19) why should Bonta show citizenship papers? Are you going to ask Slauson to show his?

 

Karen Green

Dear Mayor and Council Members:
Alameda is in the midst of a difficult time, with the tumultuous departure of the City Manager and the associated after-effects. Now that the independent investigation has been completed and the results have been made available to the public, it is time to make right one specific issue: indemnification of all City Councilmembers who were wrongly accused and found innocent of any wrongdoing. 

Specifically, we want to ensure that the Vice Mayor Malia Vella is treated justly, and ensure that future public servants will also be indemnified of expenses related to unfounded accusations. Failure to do so will threaten the desire to serve in public office in Alameda for many people, an outcome we would like to avoid.

Vella was found by the independent investigator to have done nothing wrong, yet she has incurred legal expenses defending herself against false allegations and defamation. As a result of these allegations, she is being subjected to racist and misogynistic rhetoric, including cries to prove she is a citizen and a resident of our city. Again: according to the independent investigator she did nothing wrong. 

When councilmembers have to defend themselves against defamation, and they win, it is good policy for our city to reimburse them for their legal expenses. This is particularly true when the former city manager who made “the tapes” that underlie so many of the defamatory accusations walked away from our city with $900,000 despite currently being investigated by the district attorney.

We don’t know why the Council has not directed city staff to reimburse Vella for her legal expenses, but we are asking you to reimburse her immediately. Historically, councilmembers have been indemnified, meaning, if found to have not done anything illegal, improper, or wrong, the city has reimbursed them for all legal expenses incurred as a result of the accusations. 

This ensures that public servants have some protection from unfounded accusations. If this has been the procedure in the past, why has Council chosen to not indemnify Vella in this case? It appears arbitrary. If this decision stands, we want to express our concerns about the negative consequences and impact it could have on public service in Alameda.

Alameda’s City Council is a volunteer job with significant responsibility and commitment expected of its members. As a democracy, we expect to be governed by representatives of our community; our diverse community deserves and needs a diverse city council. Should the Council refuse to indemnify the Vice Mayor, it will send a chilling effect throughout the pool of active, engaged Alamedans who may otherwise consider public service, limiting the pool of candidates to those who can afford the potential threat of hefty legal fees.

The refusal to indemnify communicates very clearly a commitment to an exclusive, wealthy city council. We want our city to send a message that it will support our public servants and volunteers and protect against unfounded accusations, and that we as a city will not decide these issues arbitrarily but through consistent and reliable policy. 

We ask you to indemnify Vice Mayor Vella to reimburse her for the legal expenses she has incurred, and to demonstrate to Alameda your commitment to more inclusive and democratic government for our city. 

 

 

Eric Strimling

Editor’s note: Sixteen other Alameda residents also signed this letter, but it is the Alameda Sun’s policy to reference the signer who delivered the let

 

Editor:
In response to a recent letter (“Small things can make a difference,” July 12) it was disturbing to read about such anger and bitterness against Fox News. Could one really believe that news anchors like Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham are “spewing untruths” and be in opposition “to everything good our country has stood for since its founding”? 

I find Fox News to be very fair and balanced in its reporting and would suggest watching other anchors like Tucker Carlson, Harris Faulkner, Jesse Watters, Bill Hemmer, Martha McCallum, Gregg Guttfelt, or Judge Jeanine Piro (my favorite). Boycotting sponsors and advertisers is an aggressive overreach. If you don’t like Fox News, everyone is free to just switch the channel. Some are uplifted by CBN or KTLN, TBN or Daystar. Happy viewing! 

 

Fern Wallace

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