Letters to the Editor

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Dear residents:

Recently, the city of Alameda was victim to a series of arson fires set in the middle of the night. Thankfully, the fires did not injure or kill anyone. They did, however, destroy homes and businesses.

The Red Cross was brought on the scene early that morning to assist the victims, and many Alamedans immediately started to provide assistance in different ways. Some have given to the families directly, and some have organized fundraisers for specific businesses.

The city has also been asked to step in and help, and I have asked the Social Services and Human Relations Board (SSHRB) to work with community members and help organize an event to bring the community together. The result is a Community Pancake Breakfast Fundraiser on Sunday, Oct. 19.

As your mayor, I am heartened to see the expressions of anger over the arson crimes, and the outpouring of desire to aid the victims. I also remind us all that we have had and, unfortunately, will have other victims of fires and other tragic incidents. Thus, I believe one of the best ways to help is to make contributions to the American Red Cross Bay Area (www.redcross.org/ca/san-francisco).

The Red Cross always responds to Alameda and provides support when we have victims in need. More importantly, it has the knowledge, skills, tools, and experience needed to make the well-balanced assessments of what each and every victim’s needs are. The Red Cross not only provides direct support, it also makes the appropriate referrals to other sources of aid.

At the event on Sunday, we will ask that people make contributions to the Red Cross. However, people can also make contributions directly to the families who have lost much, or find other ways to provide assistance. The SSHRB committee and community organizers will provide different opportunities for us to participate.

Marie Gilmore

Editor’s note: the Community Pancake Breakfast Fundrasier is set for Sunday, Oct. 19 from 8 to 11 a.m. at the Alameda Elks Lodge, 2255 Santa Clara Ave. Suggested donation amounts are $20 for adults, $15 for children under 18, family rate $60. Proceeds benefit American Red Cross Bay Area Disaster Services. Free for children 5 years or younger Tickets at the door only! For more information call 390-6608 or email mark@alamedachamber.com.


In Alameda, voting can be tricky in itself. The way Alameda runs its multiple-seat elections: when a race has two seats available, you get to cast two votes, and the two candidates with the most votes win.

There’s a trap there. I haven’t yet seen voting math mentioned in these pages, but if voters don’t know how it works, the most popular candidate can come in last place!

Think about a situation where two candidates (call them A and B) are similar, both business-as-usual — and then a third candidate C is different, is trying to change things.

Now let’s say that you and most people like the challenger, C. Out of 10,000 voters, 60 percent want C to win. You and 6,000 other people vote for C. But now you have one vote left and two candidates remain; this is the trap. You find some small reason to prefer one over the other ("the lesser of two evils") and you cast that second vote.

The results are tallied and show that 3,000 people vote for candidates A and C; 3,000 for C and B and 4,000 for A and B. Candidates A and B both garner 7,000 votes, while candidate C collects 6,000 votes.

In this scenario, candidates A and B win, while the candidate for change loses, and it’s business as usual.

So please consider that if you approve of only one candidate, you do more good by not casting your second vote. In this example, it would have gotten C elected. Some folks call it "bullet voting."

This year, Alameda has a pair of two-seat races for the City Council and the school district. There is also a three-seat race for the health district, where this effect is even stronger because a candidate preferred by 70 percent of voters could still come in last. It feels disingenuous to vote according to math, but it really makes a difference.

Travis Wilson


The only way to stop violence against women is for fathers to step up and do their jobs as fathers. Girls learn their sense of self-worth from their fathers. Most fathers behave like their jobs are over when the children are born.

Fathers should play with their daughters from the time the little girls are in the cradle. Play "tea party" with them and entertain them with their dolls and stuffed animals.

Listen to what they say. Let them know that you are there when they want to talk about boys and their problems. Don’t talk down to them. If you have done your jobs right, your daughters will have the self-worth necessary to find the right friends, boyfriends and husbands.

David Maxcy