To the Editor:
I was dismayed, although not surprised considering the source, to see such misleading information in the recent mass mailer against Measure O, the initiative demanding organic, fair-trade, or shade-grown coffee. Why does the mass mailer mislead voters by implying that a violation automatically brings a six-month jail term? The truth is that the penalty is up to a $100 fine or up to six months in jail, or both; a range of penalties are provided and left to a judge's discretion. A possible jail component is standard for a misdemeanor, which in Berkeley includes such things as an unauthorized barbeque on public property or riding a bicycle on the sidewalk. Ever hear of anyone going to jail for doing those things? Here’s another idea for coffee vendors: comply with the law and don’t worry about the penalty.
The opposition, who call themselves - believe it or not - Friends of All Small Farmers, is funded almost entirely by political action committees and big corporate coffee interests, such as Peet's and Starbucks. Do Berkeley voters really think that these corporations truly have the interests of small farmers in mind? Can they be trusted to protect the environment? Why do you think these “Friends” refused every opportunity to debate the proponents of the initiative? Coffee corporations would rather be unregulated and unaccountable, allowing them to reap record profits while the environment suffers and workers struggle to survive.