Regarding labor dispute between SEIU Local 250 and hospital systems, Sutter and Catholic Health:
Our patient's welfare is the ultimate professional goal of every physician. I want to alert my colleagues to be aware of how subtly our intentions may be misused.
I would suggest that we encourage management and union to negotiate and to settle their differences in a civil and legal manner at the bargaining table. The onus belongs to both sides, not to one.
We as physicians must advocate for our patients not for either management or for labor. We encourage, as an interested body, that these parties work for comprise. Management and Union may win, lose or draw, but our patients must win only.
Tom K. Lee, M. D.
President, Physicians Guild of Alameda County
Thank you for reporting on yet another unfortunate and unnecessary vehicle-pedestrian collision at Berkeley's statistically “most dangerous intersection,” Shattuck and University (July 28). I'm glad to hear that, at least this time, the pedestrian escaped with “only scrapes and bruises.”
However, the city could make this intersection permanently safer by changing the signals to provide a leading “green/no-turns” phase. Other cities, like Montreal, use this kind of signal phasing to entirely separate pedestrians and cyclists from turning vehicles. In the initial phase, everyone going straight (pedestrians, cyclists, and vehicles) gets to proceed in parallel, with no conflicts. Then, vehicles (and the remaining cyclists) get to turn all they want, while pedestrians get a “Don't Walk” signal.
Two blocks west, a similar signal would also improve safety at the extremely confusing, offset intersection of Milvia and University. According to police statistics, that alarming intersection is tied (with several others) for the city's fifth-most-dangerous for nonmotorists.
Here is a Perspective to answer Steven Donaldson’s Perspective. My retort is based upon 30 years of residence in Berkeley. I am an “Old Blue” who annually sits on Tightwad Hill for football games, and during the 1960s I attended most all of the notable riots.
Steven Donaldson wants a city council that runs orderly meetings and follows the stated agenda. To get his wish he could move to any of innumerable Southern California/Arizona/ Indianapolis/Houston suburbs. There, issues of pedestrians and bicyclists are not raised because these cities were created with the expectation that everyone will drive. There are no debates over putting up stop signs for pedestrians, and speed bumps in Donaldson’s city are a non-issue because nobody except residents ever goes into the cul-de-sac ticky-tacky tracts where the people live. Sidewalks don’t need special corners for wheelchairs, because people in wheelchairs know they are not expected to live there.
Regarding traffic: Donaldson’s city of orderly council meetings probably has an eight lane main drag, and virtually nobody uses it because the city is dull and the WalMart is on the outskirts. In contrast, our four lane University Avenue has backups from I-80 to Shattuck much of the day, and not just because we have this fascinating University, and all its related laboratories, think tanks, and sporting events.
Berkeley draws people like flies, thanks in large part, because of decades of raucous loud and long city council meetings. Over the years the council has debated and supported art centers and poverty, labor, ethnic and women’s centers. People flock to our city public library made user-friendly thanks to successful fights for bond measures. People come because we are a city with BART, and yet our neighborhoods are not debauched by ugly overground BART lines. Our underground lines required many hot city council meetings back in the 1960s when BART first proposed to go through Berkeley.
Whereas Donaldson seems to envision a singularly residential town, Berkeley has a resident and business mix that has its council debating innumerable issues of contrast between people in houses and people who run our hundreds upon hundreds of small businesses. Berkeley has so many small businesses that it has whole ghetto just for fancy restaurants, and the area comprising the zip code area below San Pablo has more businesses of 25 to 100 employees than all but one other zip code in the East Bay (the other being in Emeryville).
Donaldson’s quiet city is, no doubt, less ethnically diverse than is Berkeley. Diversity means many different groups taking up City Council time with arrangements for a fair in the park, or for a city subsidy for an arts center. Diversity draws people.
Everyday of the year there are tourists who drive past People’s Park to see “the hippies.” The University and San Pablo section of Berkeley has what may be the largest concentration of shops with goods from India in the United States. Berkeley has Shiites, Trotskyites, meditative Buddhists, and Latinos blaring Norteno radio while they repair our mansions in the hills.
When our council gets involved in a foreign nation’s politics, there is usually some Berkeley resident from that country to explain the issues, which takes council time. So be it. Long live the Free Republic of Berkeley!
30 year resident of Berkeley