Letters to the Editor

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Editor:
Measure E would increase the mayor’s salary to $300/month, apparently the first increase in more than 40 years. It doesn’t seem terribly unreasonable, so I decided to support it. But I have what may be a better idea.

Let’s eliminate that salary entirely, along with that office. Then what we do is rename the city manager “mayor”, and make it an elected office, with appropriate compensation and accountability. That fresh-out-of-the-19th-Century concept, the so-called (and nonsensical) “weak mayor” format (really; the mayor is supposed to be a leader, and who wants a weak leader?), where we elect a mayor and City Council, only to have them turn around and hire a professional bureaucrat (at $125,000/year currently), with no local roots, to actually administer the government, is appropriate for some small towns, and might have been practical back when Alameda was little more than a home for the Air Station, but that hasn’t been the case for almost 30 years now. We need a mayor that’s more than just a figurehead (not that the current mayor hasn’t been an excellent figurehead), and to expect from the mayor the kind of full-time professionalism — and accountability — appropriate for a city of over 75,000, a quarter of the way through the 21st Century.

While we’re at it, let’s also dump this anachronistic, anti-democratic, rich-white-person-favoring “at large” method of electing the City Council, and move to districts, like the kind of real, modern city Alameda aspires to become. (Having moved to the West End from Old Town a few years ago, it really does feel like this is — just like in the 1800s — the “other side of the tracks.”) This need will become increasingly salient as the Point (one-third of the Island) becomes more developed and populated (anti-growthers notwithstanding).

It’s time for Alameda to put on her big-girl panties and come sit at the grownup’s table.

— Jeff Mark

Editor:
The recently approved redesign of Grand Street puts the WANTS of the bike community over the NEEDS of the disabled. By eliminating the street parking in front of the majority of homes, access to wheelchair accessible vans and paratransit vans that serve the disabled residents are eliminated. Most of the driveways on Grand are tandem and cannot accommodate either of those modes of transportation.

The justification for this project is that Grand is a “high-injury corridor” and that this will help reduce the greenhouse gas emissions of automobiles. Both of these allegations are false. According to Alameda Police Department, this stretch of Grand from Shore Line Drive to Encinal Avenue has had NO car accidents this year to date. There has been one bike accident in the last 10 years. Ironically, the redesign of Shore Line with its separated bike lanes has already had 13 reported car accidents this year, one death and several bike to motorized bike accidents in the bike lanes. With the mandate from the State that no new gas-powered cars can be sold in CA, starting in 2035, the climate change argument is also not justified.

It is a noble goal to get more people to use alternate forms of transportation but not at the expense of the disabled. There is no need to redesign Grand for safety, regarding bikes, as it is functioning just fine as it is — witness the lack of accidents. The needs of the disabled and infirm should take precedent over the wants of the bike riders. According to the California Department of Transportation's, "Class IV Bikeway Guidance" published Feb. 7, “In many contexts it may not be appropriate or feasible to have a continuous separated bikeway through certain street environments, such as on the same side of a street with many driveways. A bike lane may perform better in this context.” There are many driveways on this stretch of Grand with even more north of Encinal where this design is planned to continue.

The majority vote by the council did not take any of this into account when approving the redesign. I am not denying that improvements could and should be made. The proposed pedestrian improvements will be a great addition and speed cushions could slow traffic. This can be done without sacrificing the ability for a disabled person to have a paratransit van pick them up in front of their home. With the current design, the disabled parking spot could be as far as a football field away (360ft), which is not navigable for a disabled person. This contradicts the city’s own policy on getting a disabled parking space which mentions 100ft.

The city has not reached out to the residents north of Encinal to let them know their plans. If you are a resident or neighbor of Grand north of Encinal, be aware that this plan is coming to your too!

— Karen Miller

Editor:
Have you been counting the minutes until election day when your neighbors can remove all those campaign signs from their lawns for another two years? Yes, these are midterm elections, just as serious as the presidential election yet to come two years from now, but not as interesting.

Why not? Because the great candidate Vermin Love Supreme only runs for President and doesn’t mess about trying to be someone’s governor. V.L., who appears to be a bearded cross between Archimedes and Alexander Graham Bell, tends to stand out in a crowd. That is largely because he’s usually wearing a boot on his head and is carrying a giant toothbrush.

Unlike most politicians, who basically ask us to vote for them because they have their names on several yard signs and can prove it, Ol’ Verm isn’t afraid to face his country head-on and tell us what we really need.

Last time around, while trying to wedge his goals into the New Hampshire primaries, Vermin made no bones of his platform: 1. Passing a national law that everyone must brush their teeth, 2. Dedicating millions of tax dollars to delve into time travel, 3. Investigate the possibilities of a Zombie invasion, and 4. Give a pony to everyone in the country.

Lest you be scratching your head over the time-travel expenditures, Vermin Love Supreme is quick to point out that once science has whipped time travel, he can then go back in time and kill Adolf Hitler.

How can you beat a campaign slogan like that? Not only is it fun, but just picture 250 million people riding ponies around and showing off their shiny teeth.

Just two more years… we can do it. Two more years.

— Slim Randles

Editor’s note: Slim Charles is a national writer. His Home Country series is a weekly column.

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