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Letters to the Editor

Thursday October 05, 2000

Want more from Andrew Lam 



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  


Rainforest protests explained 



I am a member of a campus coalition of the Rainforest Action Group and, a coalition working to stop Citibank from funding environmentally destructive projects all over the world. 

The destruction of some Citibank property last week has moved me to write a letter explaining what the Citi campaign is about. 

Last Tuesday, Sept. 26th, after the Reclaim the Streets rally in downtown Berkeley, someone smashed the windows of the local Citibank branch. First of all, I would like to set the record straight: this crime was not committed by our members, nor do we condone it. We do not advocate the destruction of property. 

Nonetheless, I would like to say that the Citi campaign is extremely urgent. Rainforest Action Group is boycotting Citigroup and its subsidiaries because of its direct financial involvement in a number of environmentally and culturally destructive projects. Citigroup has funded mining in the Amazon, oil pipelines in African rainforests, clearing Headwaters forest here in California, and more. All of these projects destroy habitats, threaten endangered species, and displace Native peoples from their homes.  

Rainforest Action Group and Ecopledge believe that Citigroup should be held accountable for its actions, particularly when those actions degrade the overall health of our planet. A part of the funding Citigroup uses for its destruction comes from customer assets (i.e. clients’ money). For these reasons, we are urging students and citizens to boycott Citigroup.  

For anyone who would like more information on how to get involved with RAG or Ecopledge, you may contact or An International Day of Action against Citibank is coming up on Tuesday, Oct. 17, in front of Citibanks across the U.S., and we urge Berkeley students to come out with us on that day to stand up and be heard! 


Adinah Curtis 

UC Berkeley student 

Mill Valley 




Wed, 04 Oct 2000 07:54:52 -0700 


"Kirstin L. Miller"  







Letter to the Editor 

submitted by Kirstin Miller 

day phone: 510 644-1600 

eve phone: 51- 465-0226  


You recently published a satire on Berkeley politics by Morlock Chaillot (Letters, Sept 29). The piece was somewhat amusing, but why did 

you run it as a Letter to the Editor? There is no Deep Ecologists' Gaian Alliance as far as I know, and no real person named Morlock 

Chaillot. Why publish someone who doesn't have the courage to stand up with their real name for what they supposedly believe in?  

But, there is was. And, in spite of all the twisted accusations and assumptions erupting from Mr. or Ms. (Mad Woman of Chaillot's) clever 

pen in an attempt to portray ecological city planning as a farce, it didn't pull off the desired effect. However, the letter did make room for the 

opportunity to shed some light on a few of the implications and assumptions.  

First of all, although some of the Berkeley elite love to portray Richard Register as a lone individual who champions pedestrian scale 

infrastructure against the wishes of everyone else in Berkeley, Ecocity Builders is not the only group on the planet advocating for ecological 

and pedestrian oriented urban planning. Surprise! Secondly, ecocity theory and planning is not an evil plot to convert your town into an ugly 

mass of high rises. Surprise again! Register did invented the term "ecocity" in 1978. His Ecocity Berkeley, Building Cities for a Healthy 

Future, has been well respected in eco-urban circles since it was first published in 1987. He is also the author of three other books, including 

Village Wisdom, Future Cities and the upcoming Ecocities.  

Far from building a gloomy "Gotham City" with "shadowy, phallic spires" as the Morlock Challiot letter maintains, Ecocity Builders is 

dedicated to returning healthy biodiversity to the heart of our cities. That means nature---creeks, bike paths, gardens, and open space. (Does 

that sound like an evil plot to ruin us all? I think not.) Ecocity thinking is about creating whole cities based on human scale needs and 

transportation, rather than the current pattern of automobile driven excess, wasteful consumption and the destruction of the biosphere. 

(Again, I fail to see why working towards a goal like this would be considered not worthwhile, not important or unrealistic.) Guided by 

ecological design principles and by using common sense, we can cast aside our dependence on the automobile and recreate our human 

habitat in balance with natural systems. But it is up to us to start the process.  

Register's thinking is not bizarre or fantastic or unreal. In fact, it makes complete sense. What is unreal, bizarre and fantastic is that more 

people don't think through how we are currently creating our built habitat and realize that we need to shift the pattern away from auto sprawl 

and waste, and toward compact centers linked by transit. Everywhere, even in Berkeley. 


Kirstin Miller 








Wed, 4 Oct 2000 07:24:50 -0700 


"Jonathan Petty"  










Well, it's official. Chancellor Berdahl does not exist. 

This was the implication of the Coalition of University Employees' 32nd consecutive "Bargaining Update" submitted to 18,000 clericals who are grinding toward their 

second Christmas season without a fair contract or holiday monies, which the non-existent Chancellor as good as promised in his "Speech to Berkeley Staff Assembly" of 

September 26.  

At that time a figure apparently impersonating the Chancellor, claimed "I really do 'get it'," and alluded to previous promises dating back over a year and most evident at 

last June's State Assembly Higher Education Committee at which U.C. President Atkinson -- another figment of our imagations -- was raked over the coals by state legislators for 

heading the "worst public employer in California." They in turn alluded to brave promises tendered by Atkinson at his christening more than two years back to inaugurate a 

brave new "change of course" in labor relations. Atkinson's promises led to two years of stalled, bad-faith labor bargaining by U.C. A year later he was all but publicly called a 

liar by Sanator Richard Alarcon. 

Berdahl's identical promulgation of a "change of course" ("I very much understand how URGENTLY we need to make changes", italics his), resulted in the U.C. bargaining 

team returning to the table without even having bothered to respond to CUE's last wage proposal made 27 days ago! In addition, "UC prsented only two carelessly drafted 

proposals. If a clerical had produced such slipshod work, disciplinary action would have resulted." In the context of the alledged Chancellor's apparent promise of a "change of 

course", such contempt for U.C.'s 18,000 increasingly exasperated staff can only be taken as an equal sign of public contempt for the Chancellor himself -- if in fact the man 

really exists. 

It may be slightly premature to conclude that Berdahl is imaginary. Several possibilities suggest themselves and must be eliminated before we can achieve certainty: 


1. Berdahl does not exist and the figure speaking for U.C. is a cardboard cutout with a dummy bank account into which U.C. is funnelling hundreds of thousands of dollars 


2. The man speaking for the Chancellor is an imposter and U.C.'s bargainers know it. 

3. U.C. bargainers are rogues who have hijacked the office of labor relations and, like pirates, are acting on their own. 

4. Though Chancellor Berdahl does indeed exist, his public statements, like Atkinson's before him, in fact represent palliative purring intended to lull staff, students, and 

public back to sleep. 


Only further testing can determine which of these possibilities is in fact the case. Whatever the result, unless a fifth possibility miraculously appears -- right-on, fair 

bargaining with CUE -- the possibilities of a systemwide clerical strike are becoming more and more concrete. 


Jonathan Christian Petty 

Coalition of University Employees 



Letters to the Editor 


Tue, 3 Oct 2000 22:26:39 -0700 


Sylvia Scherzer  






Please feel to edit my comments re presidental-debate of last night:  


Dear Editor:  


Presidential Debate - Tues. Oct. 3, 2000  


Gov. G.W.Bush stated in the debate that he would have pre-schoolers, in the Head Start programs, read. As if 

that's the measure of success at that level of education!  


Since the 1960's head start teachers & administrators of these programs have found that art, music, dance, 

physical education, dramatics, having hands-on training with cooking, nature study, field trips, science 

experiments, gardening, story-telling, poetry read or acted out by peers/actors, etc. will continue to 

activate/stimulate curious minds to have the readiness to learn to read all in due time.  


The finest educators, school psychologists, doctors who know the human brain, eye-hand coordination, test 

results from public-private schools from pre-school through post-doctorate degrees have shown that these very 

children cannot nor should not read before they are chronologically & developmentally ready. G.W.Bush's 

information in this area is totally non-existant or he has been grossly misinformed.  


Mr. Bush came across as the man to whom we should trust all  

decisions: military, social security, health care, education. He continued to call Mr. Gore's statistics: "fuzzy". 

Mr. Gore's intelligent comments were factual, to the point & well-delivered.  


The woman's right to choose what is to be done with her body & vice-president Gore's committment to uphold 

Roe v. Wade should give any unsure voters the reason to vote Democratic this election. I am both a retired 

elementary school teacher & school librarian for K-12.  


Sincerely, Sylvia P. Scherzer - Emeryville CA  

2 Anchor Dr. #376 - (510) 923-9658  

































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