Letters to the Editor

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The City Manager’s office would like to apologize to the business community for the way in which the Business License Tax Audit was conducted. We heard from many of you and want you to know we listened. As a result of your feedback, we have decided to discontinue the business license audit program through Municipal Auditing Services (MAS).

The business community is a valuable part of the fabric of Alameda, and we view our businesses as partners in the health and vibrancy of our town. We continue to believe, and think you’d agree, that having the proper licenses and permits to operate a business in Alameda is a matter of fairness and in the interest of all existing businesses and the citizens.

Reviewing the record not only allows the City to capture past due taxes, it ensures that those of you who do the right thing are not at a competitive disadvantage. Having said that, we understand that a different approach is warranted to ensure compliance with our existing laws.

Going forward, we will consult again with business leaders to develop a program that ensures compliance while also recognizing the sensitivity of your business dealings and information and more importantly, treats our businesses like the partners you are.

Again, please accept our apology and our thanks to those of you who took the time to voice your concerns.

— Liz Warmerdam, Assistant City Manager


Politicians on every level have their dirty backgrounds: eponymous pictures on Twitter, a prostitution ring here, a stolen seat in congress there. Even local politicians have done a solid job of eroding the public’s belief in their willingness to do good.

Our city councilman Stewart Chen may not have done anything as a politician to establish the public’s distrust thus far, but he certainly hasn’t done anything to improve it by not disclosing his past fraud.

The whole situation begs the simple question I’m sure your readers have already thought of: if Chen covered up his shady past, what other shady dealings is he helping cover up behind closed doors at city hall?

Something tells me it’s just that kind of mindset that gets a politician elected these days. Those best able to manipulate public opinion — not those with actual problem-solving skills — get the reins of government.

A politician’s resume in today’s world includes blind adherance to party, putting the public last, a solid commitment to bilking the taxpayer and a skill set that includes secret-keeping and fraud.


— Coho Jerkins


Let me ask editor Dennis Evanosky ("School District Under Fire," Feb. 20) and Paul Ivanovich Chichikov ("District Issues Worrisome Directive," Feb. 20) a question.

Assume you are employed by a company. Assume that something that your company has done is a matter of public concern. And let’s say you walk out the door of your workplace one evening after work, and a journalist with a notebook or a reporter with a microphone asks you for your opinion on this company matter. What are you, as an employee of the company, allowed to say?

The answer is nothing. Legally, ethically and as a matter of loyalty and common sense, you are allowed to say nothing.

Everyone who has a real job knows this. It is common knowledge in the real working world. Every organization has an information officer, a public relations person or spokesperson who makes approved public statements on behalf of the company. No one else is legally allowed to do so. This is not controversial and has nothing to do with free speech.

In addition to this legal restriction, an employee is not allowed to voluntarily admit to outsiders that the company is at fault in any company activity. That is also common sense and a legal necessity.

There are certainly exceptions for whistleblowing, and employees have an obligation to speak up about illegal conduct. But something like that is rightly reserved for serious law breaking or negligence.

And of course, as a citizen, you can make statements outside the venue of your workplace about almost anything but your company’s business without any fear of retribution. Jeffrey Smith, for example, has no problem addressing the general state of public education in the pages of the Alameda Sun.

And I thought the story of Mr. Dynamic was hilarious. I bet the Lincoln Middle School kids cracked up. The school’s principal, Michael Hans, seems to have handled it quite correctly.

Editor’s note: Reichert’s premise about the employees not having the right to speak out on the gas-leak issue falls apart when one recalls that school district administrators allegedly took the broken device to a bar on Webster Street and openly discussed the leak.

In other words, teachers can’t talk to reporters about the same incident that the administrators were allegedly free to openly discuss while bellying up to the bar.

Chichikov felt that the warning to the teachers not to speak to the press did not jive with the behavior of the administrators at the 1400 Bar and Grill. The Alameda Sun relegated this part of the story to the op-ed page because no one other than the teachers who approached Chichikov were willing to comment on the alleged behavior at the 1400 Bar and Grill, and none of those wanted their names used for fear of losing their jobs.