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Letters to the Editor

Tuesday October 03, 2000

School bond numbers are misleading 


On Saturday, Sept. 23, “School Board Details Bond Measure” stated, “The schools have yet to spend $60 million from that bond,” referring to “unspent” funds of the 1992 school bond. This statement is highly misleading. 

There is “money in the bank” from the ’92 bond. But there are two enormous projects “in the pipeline” which have not begun to bill BUSD and total about $50 million. They are the classroom building renovation at King ($20 million), and the new library/ multipurpose/ cafeteria building at BHS (about $30 million). These projects are already 2 1/2 years along their trajectories and will require another 1 1/2 years to complete. Other projects already in use, like Thousand Oaks, have not submitted their last invoices. In other words, the $60 million is committed money. 

The long duration of major projects – as much as four years from planning to completion – is one of the potent reasons why voters are asked to approve another bond now rather than later. The article also omitted a vital fact. The ’92 bond was preceded by distribution of the “Green Book,” the detailed presentation of its goals and spending plan. The ’92 bond building program is not yet over; the ’92 Green Book is still “on the job.” The School Board is obliged to list on its agenda and to publicly discuss every item of spending over $15,000. When the board alters bond spending it is still apt to be reminded by those who have stayed tuned about the Green Book, though its figures are showing their age. If not for this yardstick for measuring the track record of the 1992 bond I would not be on board this campaign and would have no basis for faith in another bond. 

The school board approved detailed plans for AA and BB. Though available on request, these plans were not widely circulated until inclusion in a more comprehensive, user friendly orange document. This work has now been carefully done. The “book” was approved by the board on September 20 and is now being dispersed. For a copy call BUSD Public Information, 644-6320. Like the Green Book, it contains a framework for insuring that execution of each measure fulfills its goal. 

Bruce Wicinas, 

Berkeley Citizens for Safe and Sound Schools Co-chair 


Right imbalance, build more housing 


Why is there is a housing and transportation crisis in Berkeley? Perhaps it’s because the city added 10,500 new jobs since 1980, while it lost 55 housing units (source: Berkeley General Plan). 

This jobs-housing imbalance continues today, and is exacerbated by the actions of the city’s residents. For example, at a recent zoning board meeting, not a single resident complained about the development of a new office building for 200 workers (and their cars) at Fourth and Cedar streets. However, they argued vociferously against 48 units of new housing at 2700 San Pablo Avenue that might allow some of those employees to live within 2 miles of their work place. 

Berkeley’s parking, transportation and housing crisis will not be addressed unless the city approves more housing along its commercial corridors. In the spirit of compromise, the developer of the 2700 San Pablo Avenue project has offered to reduce the height of the proposed project from five stories to four stories. The resulting plan supports public transit, helps to revitalize vacant storefronts, and addresses the city’s housing crisis. Despite the complaints of neighborhood NIMBYs, the Zoning Adjustments Board should demonstrate leadership and approve this reasonable and responsible project. 


Christopher Hudson 



Enough landmarks already 


In the name of fairness, the Landmarks Preservation Commission should issue a short roster of the buildings, parking lots, and tool sheds which, under its exceedingly generous definitions, the commission considers neither landmarks nor structures of merit. Since there are so few of them and because Berkeley is easily America’s Sinea, it might be simpler to declare the entire city a landmark district and freeze it forever in legislative amber. 

The problem is that “landmark” no longer has any meaning in Berkeley. 


Gray Brechin 



Suppression of Free Speech in Berkeley  


My name is Eleanor Pepples and I reside in the Berkeley Hills of California. 

I am a candidate for City Council in Berkeley’s District 6. 

Recently, my free speech rights were violated. In my race, supporters known around town as the “People for Pepples” and I have posted signs in places like the Monterey Market, the Marin Circle, on Vine Street near Peet’s, on Shattuck near The Cheese Board and The Flower Shop, on Hearst Street near Zellerbach Hall, by the City Clerk’s Office on Addison Street, by City Buildings on Cedar Street and by the Old City Hall on Martin Luther King, Jr. Way. These signs have my photograph surrounded by the words People for Pepples, they list the name of the office I am seeking: Berkeley City Council, and they list as contact information, the website: The goal of these signs is to spread the word about our campaign’s ideas and ideals. My campaign wants to share with the citizens of Berkeley thoughts on how we might make our City Council more efficient, why we want a fiscally accountable government, and why our city would benefit from having a leader and not a follower from District 6 on the Council. Someone who would work across party lines and across districts to get the job done; someone who would listen to the people and act effectively to resolve issues of importance to individuals choosing to live or work in Berkeley. 

On Friday, September 29th at least one representative of the current city government, an employee in the Department of Public Works, removed a large number of these signs. Apparently, after this representative of the Mayor’s administration tore down the signs, he triumphantly presented them to the Berkeley City Clerk’s office boasting that he had taken down a “truckload of them”. My supporters responded quickly by posting signs the very next day in the same areas and in new locations. By Sunday, October 1st, many of the signs were removed again. These signs listed not only the website but also listed a telephone number to make it easier for citizen’s to reach my campaign office. The signs comply in every way with the spirit and in the letter of laws governing what types of signs can be posted in an election. 

The signs were removed without just cause. I ask for your support in declaiming this type of illegal action, not only because it restricts my First Amendment right to freedom of expression, but also because it deprives the public of your chance to learn about a candidate’s honest effort to inform the voters in an election year that they have a choice to vote for a new voice and a new vision for our City Council. 

I ask for your support in protesting against this action, and for your vigilance in ensuring that no more signs are removed. We must not tolerate this type of activity in our democracy. 


Eleanor Pepples 



Eco city design jumps into the debate 


Taking out the ad for an Ecocity Amendment to the General Plan and against Planning Commissioner Gene Poschman’s opposition to ecological innovation has brought ecological city design right into the center of public debate, so it’s working. That’s what it means when we get 20 phone calls, 50 percent condemning us and 50 percent congratulating us for bringing these issues out into the open. 

To Morlock Chaillot, hiding under a nom de plum and fictitious organization, let’s be clear that Berkeley’s “well-thought-out zoning” has in fact left us with a gigantic housing problem. Higher density in centers, not scattered throughout town, is a known solution around the world and the use of ecological features like rooftop gardens and solar greenhouses, pedestrian streets and bridges between buildings, far from being fantasies, exist in many places but are so small in number they are overwhelmed by a car-swamped way of building cities.  

Though Berkeley is better than most cities in this regard it has not a single pedestrian street nor real public plaza. Rooftop gardens exist in a few hidden places. Are bridge buildings a ridiculous fantasy? Check out Stephens Hall directly south of the Campanile on campus. It’s a really magnificent bridge building seven stories tall, nestled into the redwoods and up against beautiful Strawberry Creek. If such features were common instead of rare we’d have an extraordinarily lively city with room for both people and the creeks now buried. 

Let’s be clear about “attacking” people too. Is pointing out the real meaning of Carrie Olson’s use of the term “rabbit warren” an attack on her personally? Though she seems to be quite a decent person, she should take responsibility for use of such terms. The fact is, small places serve low-income people and calling them “rabbit warrens” is genuinely unhelpful.  

Meantime Carol Denney’s presumably non-personal attack on me saying I attack others, I don’t work for transit and I’m all about greed suggestions she should learn something about her subject. I organized support for AC Transit’s 52 line when my neighbors were about to shoot it down years ago, and I’ve been exploring ecological cities for 3 decades and am as broke as ever. Either there is something about me that is definitely not greedy or I’m an incredibly slow learner. 

Bottom line: we need more specific, clear content in addressing these very real problems, not generalizations, inaccuracies and sarcasm. 


Richard Register 









Sun, 1 Oct 00 19:31:24 -0700 




“Berkeley Daily Planet”  






The Berkeley Daily Planet 

2076 University Ave. 

Berkeley, CA 94704 




The Morlochs in H.G. Wells’ story live underground and feed off the Eloi  

as if they were no better than rabbits. Morloch Chaillot of the Deep  

Ecologists’ Gaian Alliance (Letters, Sept. 29) affirms that the future  

lies underground, and states that someday we shall all be rabbits.  

Morloch also castigates Richard Register for being a front for out of  

town developers. I confess, I am confused. Is it sarcasm? Is the  

alternative to 15 story buildings a subterranean class that feeds on the  

thoughtless creatures above (Carrie Olson and her supporters?), or is Mr.  

Register really a crook, and the Deep Ecologists as out of touch with  

reality as they sound? 


Why is 5 stories a magic number? Thirty years ago I lived in the unit  

three dorm. It was, and still is, 8 stories high. Should we demolish  

the top three floors? 


I did not, and do not, consider the dorms a disaster area. The problem  

is one of context. The dorms have open space on the ground, and are  

adjacent to commercial areas or take an entire block, and therefore do  

not create the disaster scenarios that have been described in previous  

opinion pieces.  


You don’t have to be offered money to support high-rise (or at least  

higher-rise) building in downtown. One merely has to look at the Los  

Angeles basin to see what happens when everybody gets their dream of a  

low-rise environment. Sorry Morloch, Mr. Register does have a  

constituency in Berkeley. 


Robert Clear 

3134 California 

Berkeley, CA 94703 




andrew lam 


Mon, 2 Oct 2000 20:31:36 EDT 







Dear Editor: 

Thank you for running Vietnamese-born Andrew Lam’s lovely piece on his  

grandmother today (Oct 2nd). Some months ago I saw, in a San Francisco  

paper, another moving article by him about leaving his country. He is truly  

a talented writer of fine prose. Let’s have more -- Beatriz Coda  



In response to the letter (8/31) from Terry Powell: 

Terry Powell from Lawrence Berkeley National Lab’s (LBNL) public relations department, operated for the Department of Energy (DOE), is just doing her job when she promotes the lab’s official line on the continuous dumping of radioactive waste from their National Tritiu Labeling Facility (NTLF) and Melvin Calvin Lab on the UC campus. 

The Lab’s boosters endlessly repeat the mantra “tritium emissions below the U.S. EPA’s National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Pollutants (NESHAPS).” Never do they address the many credible criticisms of their absurdly low estimate for radioactive tritium exposure, including those in the report by IFEU, made by independent scientists hired at local taxpayers’ expense by the City of Berkeley. 

Dumping in short bursts and a short stack actually located below the Lawrence Hall of Science (LHS) are easily understandable reasons why exposure to LHS workers and visiting children could exceed the NESHAPS standard. Just because the flawed exposure estimates concocted by LBNL remain unchallenged by the perfumed suits at the EPA and the California Department of Toxic Substances is no reason for anyone to believe them.  

All the Lab’s arguments seem like such blather when one visits the site and sees the tritium stack just 30 feet from the LHS’s fence. Common sense tells one that whatever is coming out of the stack is all over whoever is near it. In this cases it’s most of the areas children. Triatiated vapor is extremely hazardous and has been identified as a cause of leukemia, cancer, infertility and other genetic defects.  

Ms. Powell is incorrect when she states that almost all their tritium is captured and recycled. As sloppy as their records are, they do indicate large quantities missing. Even when LBNl has admittedly dumped does not support her claim.  

Also contrary to what Ms. Powell claimed, LBNL’s treatability “study” was just a scam to unload years of backlogged mixed waste without obtaining the usual permits. Mixed waste, toxic chemicals contaminated with radioactive waste, is fed into an “oxidation cell” complete with igniter plugs and exhaust vents, and can run in excess of 1000 degrees Fahrenheit. Sure sounds like an incinerator to me.  

Playing games by reclassifying the NTLF as a “non-nuclear” facility and “delisting” their mixed waste does not alter the reality that large amounts of dangerous radioactive material are stored, used and dumped there. Neither the NTLF or Calvin Lab are appropriately sited in our community and should be closed and cleaned up.  


Mark McDonald