Letters to the Editor

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Before and during the Great Depression, highly competitive auto ferries were self-supporting, not state subsidized. Then in 1939 the ferries gave way to the Bay Bridge. Now, as years go by a growing demand to cross the bay brings back the viability of transportation of another form or combination.

The old ways may be thought of again, but flexibility and speed are key factors. Adding another long bridge across the bay isn’t immediately helpful as, using political standards, it would not be completed by 2039. By then, other means of transport would have surpassed an expensive and congested crossing. So other options should be considered; high-speed water taxies for example. The calm bay is ideal for hydrofoils large and small, and they can go on dry land to load and unload safely. That’s flexibility.

Another faster option is passenger helicopter transport; even now that is a military reality. At one time (50 years ago) there was an SFO helicopter from Oakland to the airports. A helicopter port for the Bay Area that’s already fit and available exists at Alameda Point. It would take an airline operator only a short time to establish an operational flight service to fill the demand.

Alameda Point, a former naval air station has a first-class concrete area, a control tower, hangar facilities, a seaplane ramp for hydrofoils, and room for a large variety of large and small craft. It would be a fixed base business of great benefit to the city and the East Bay. Alameda Point is a location secure from mayhem and noise complaints.

Long before 2039, anyone could fly from Alameda Point to anywhere a helicopter can land within 500 miles of the Bay Area, faster and safer than any other means of transport. The cost/benefit is viable as people continue to distance themselves from crowded cites.

— Philip Tribuzio


I appreciate what Ben Cable and Marcial McCarthy Bolina did ("Cable-Bolina Wedding," Feb. 13), but their challenge to California’s ban on same-sex marriage was not the first. The June 12, 1969, issue of The Advocate magazine carried a report of the March wedding in Los Angeles of Neva Heckman and Judith Bellew. The Rev. Troy Perry officiated. The Advocate described the union as: "The first marriage in the nation designed to legally bind two persons of the same sex."

The June 24, 1970, issue of The Advocate reported that Perry was testing the state’s ban on gay marriage. He based this test on the theory that California’s common law marriage statute did not specify gender. Because Heckman and Bellew had lived together the required two years, the state recognized them as married.

Los Angeles attorney Albert L. Gordon filed a lawsuit on Heckman and Bellew’s behalf but it was dismissed.


— Michael Bedwell

The Alameda Sun’s online partner The Alamedan received this statement:

(I would like to respond to the story) related to the legal difficulties I faced in the early days of my practice as a young chiropractor more than 20 years ago.

This was a terrible experience for me, but one that helped make me a better doctor and later a good public servant.

The fact is that I unknowingly treated patients who were part of an auto insurance fraud scheme run by a local attorney. I had no idea what they were doing and was not part of their scheme. I assumed the patients were legitimately injured.

The state’s insurance commissioner and local prosecutors took aggressive actions against the participants of this fraud. As a result of the fact that I treated these patients, I was prosecuted along with them.

At the time I was barely 30 years old. While confident in my abilities as a doctor, I was naive and lacked the experience to ask proper questions and flag suspicious activities. I was still inexperienced at the administrative and accountability responsibilities in my office.

But it was my office and I was ultimately responsible. Instead of fighting the unwarranted charges in a prolonged and expensive trial, I agreed — on the advice of counsel — to plead to misdemeanor charges. The plea seemed to make sense because it would not disrupt my practice or my family life. At the time, it seemed like the right decision to protect my family and my professional career. I certainly had no reason to believe that such a deal would ever be relevant in my life since it was to be wiped off my record in a short time.

My reasons for keeping this matter private while running for local office are simple. This was handled and dealt with 20 years ago and was removed from my record 17 years ago. It was embarrassing. I wanted to move on.

In the 20 years since, I have learned and grown from that experience. I have enjoyed a great deal of success in my practice, raised a happy and healthy family, and been rewarded with many opportunities to serve and give back to my community. This includes being appointed to Social Service Human Relations Board, Alameda County Human Relations Commission, elected to the Alameda Hospital Board and recently elected to the Alameda City Council.

I have been reflecting on this painful episode. I have even thought that maybe I should have been more public about it all along, using it as a lesson to share with Alamedans or other young medical professionals.

But while that may have spared me from this embarrassment, I decided to focus on the hopes for my family, goals for my career and quality of life of my community. I simply wished to leave this episode in the past.

I hope this addresses any concerns the public may have. I apologize to those who disagree with my long ago decision to put this experience in the past and maintain my privacy. It was best for me and my family.

I remain committed, as always, to serving my neighbors, friends and all residents of Alameda with the utmost integrity and passion.


— Stewart Chen, Alameda City Councilman

Editor’s note: "Today we have successfully put a major insurance fraud ring out of business," then California Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi announced in an April 15, 1993, press release. "This gang alone could be responsible for as much as $1 million in fraudulent claims, and that’s money that comes out of California motorists’ pockets."

Despite Councilman Chen’s profession of innocence, the Alameda Sun would like to point out to its readers that, instead of facing trial on numerous felony counts, Chen pleaded guilty in Alameda County Superior Court to two misdemeanors for behavior tied to this "gang."

On Aug. 20, 1996, Chen signed an affifavit admitting that he had been convicted of a crime "which is substantially related to the qualifications, functions and duties of a chiropractor."

We are all victims of the behavior to which Chen pleaded guilty. This behavior should not be shrugged off or taken lightly, whether tied to criminal activity 20 years or 20 minutes ago.