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Letters to the Editor

Saturday October 07, 2000

UC needs good faith bargaining 


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,”) 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: 

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 annually. 

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

3. UC 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 


Member, Coalition of  

University Employees 



Owner deserves some blame 


The French Hotel protest makes a great Berkeley story. One of the things I love about Berkeley is that people still care enough to protest. However, I think it needs to be made clear that some of the responsibility for the crisis is on the shoulders of French Hotel. Concerns have been expressed from the disability community and others that many sidewalk cafes were not following the city's regulations to get a permit and to leave adequate room for safe travel. For three years, we asked the French Hotel to apply for a permit.  

We began a concerted enforcement effort to bring all cafes into compliance last year, however, French Hotel continued to ignore our request that they apply for a permit. A citation was finally issued as a way to get compliance. It should be noted that we allowed all other cafes to keep their tables and chairs while their permits were being processed and we would have done the same for French Hotel.  

The amount of time it takes to get a permit is another issue that I would like to address. We have 90 pending Administrative Use Permit applications; this is much higher than in previous years. To be fair to everyone, we process them in order. We are looking at options to process the straightforward applications faster; however, this will result in the other applications taking longer. We are doing the best we can. Maybe drinking more coffee will help. 


Wendy Cosin 

Acting Director 

Planning & Development Department 

Gaia stories 


Carrie Olson’s assertion regarding the Gaia building that “Ten stories are being allowed for an approved seven stories” is misinformed. So too is Olson’s claim that the Gaia building is 116 feet high.  

The Gaia building is seven stories high, with the roofline located at the council approved height of 87 feet. The Gaia project includes two mezzanines: one at the first level and one at the seventh. Mezzanines are not considered stories under the city’s zoning ordinance, and both mezzanines are inside the approved 87-foot height limit. 

The highest point of the Gaia building, at the top of its elevator tower, is 107 feet high, not 116 feet as claimed by Olson. This height is necessitated by the need to provide elevator access to the roof deck and management offices. 

The Gaia project locates 91 units of new housing near transit, the UC campus, and shopping. The project was approved by the City Council and permitted by the city building and safety division. All of the project’s dimensions were reviewed and approved by city departments more than a year ago, and have not changed since then. We would appreciate it if Olson would refrain from spreading misinformation about our project. 

Evan McDonald 

Gaia Building Project 










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 





















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 




Is 2700 San Pablo in a high crime area? The developers and their supporters keep saying it is. But the facts say otherwise.  

The Berkeley police keep statistics on a beat by beat basis of major crimes. It is available to the public on their Web site.  

2700 San Pablo is in beat 15. Beat 14 is across the street from Derby north. These two beats have nearly half the crime as does the average beat in Berkeley. In fact, there is only one of the 19 beats with a lower crime rate.  

This make it clear that whatever development takes place on that site will unlikely result in less crime. Indeed, the site will look better, housing will be provided - hopefully for low income families and the disabled, and the developers will prosper. But less crime? No.  

We already have a safe neighborhood. It’s much safer than the Berkeley hills, for instance.  


Bob Kubik 












You may find this piece of interest. Simply a brief sketch of then and 

now at UCB coupled with a few suggestions for softening up some of the 

problems discussed. Could be, should be, taken seriously but probably 

won't be. 



October 5, 2000 


Dear Deans, Chairs & Miscellaneous Titles: 


What follows—some notes I took in my head as I walked on the campus the 

other day—will, hopefully, be an abrupt departure from your usual 

reading fare. Originally my intent was only to write several of the 

Deans, but my concerns spread as I ambled about, so I've sent this off 

to others of you that that might find my remarks of interest, if not of 

use, including some of the local press. 


Occasionally I chance on Campus, to renew my library card, get a book 

out, or just to consider the happenings over the last 35 years since I 

was a student here. 


First the bicycles threading their way speedily through the crowds, 

making the less than agile 70 year old like myself wary and nervous. As 

a practicing curmudgeon, I've made note of this to a Dean’s office 

several times before. Always a nice letter ensues—”we're looking into 

the matter, enforcement will prevail, admonishments will be made” and 

the like. But it gets worse. Where are the bikers going now that they 

didn't have to go when bikes were kept off the pathways? 


And now there are cars to watch out for too! Gone are the dirt paths and 

wild areas that used to make the place and pace so attractive. Now paved 

over—I'm told that after The Free Speech Movement the police asked that 

this be done so they could move quickly to tamp down disquiet wherever 

it might appear—and the wild places are now planted with new buildings 

housing the urgencies of progress. The Campus used to be such a serene 

public place, quiet enough to think about the education you were 

receiving, even to ruminate on whether it was worthwhile having one, or 

to consider bailing out of the rat race and shucking the career racket. 

There were even dedicated non-achievers around called bohemians 

who—peculiar souls—thought an education was an end in itself. Gone! 

Canceled now by high rents, high fees that require a straight ahead, 

vocational demeanor, or, barring that, the prospect of homelessness. 


The new stacks in the library with shelf after empty shelf. Computers 

that have emptied those shelves, replaced the card catalogue with the 

hype of cyberspace, heady stuff, with its virtual of everywhere while 

you go nowhere. A plaque on the wall as you enter “The Information 

Gateway” to the Moffitt Library computer room reminds one that this 

largess is “Made possible by a grant from Pacific Bell and its 

Foundation.” Students, the eyes of the corporations are upon you! 


The ubiquitous security systems. Are we inside or outside? 


The students running around with knapsacks on their backs. Are there 

books inside, or the debt notices that accrue after years of borrowing 

money to pay for what used to be essentially a free education? 


I must enthuse about one improvement however, the relatively new 

quartering of the economics department (my former field of inquiry) in 

Evans Hall, a building with all the dreary monumentality—totalitarian 

concrete—of the dismal science itself. What must the current crop of 

economists think of the new Haas School of Business now crowning the 

departed space of Cowell Hospital where free medical care was once at 

the service of every student? A palace compared to their quarters and 

properly so, nothing but the lap of luxury for the elite biz whizzes, 

the better for them to trumpet the bottom line culture now so widely 

applauded. Instead of the good life, the commodity life, the corporate 



And I note the Free Speech Movement has earned some mementos, a cafe 

named after it, with pictures of Mario Savio prominently displayed, and 

a hole in the ground in Sproul Plaza encircled with words somehow adding 

up to a commemoration of what once passed there; but now more often 

stepped on than read. Everyone can still toot the horn of free speech, 

say anything. But what are they saying in these days of this lengthy and 

highly selective prosperity? So much is known about what is wrong, even 

more is denied. . . but so little is being said. 


Basically the points made here suggest that the University (almost all 

Universities for that matter) have contributed more to the serious 

problems of today's society than to their abatement, illumination, 

alleviation and so on. There is simply been an incredible change for the 

worse, with some extremely important exceptions, since I was an 

undergraduate at UCB. 


So as not to be purely on the negative side, some suggestions that might 

both quiet down the hurry-scurry on the campus as well as relieve some 

of the street traffic: 


Eliminate bicycles from the campus, period, since they will invariably 

violate the rules if allowed. Eliminate scooters, skateboards, and 

whatever else takes away the need and the pleasure of walking. And throw 

out cell phones too for that matter. Take a hard look at all the 

automobile traffic on campus and ban everything except the very very 

necessary trips. Ban incoming “freshfolks” (my PC designation here is 

probably not up to snuff) and sophomores from bringing their vehicles 

with them during the year. Not only will that reduce traffic on the 

streets, but will send many elsewhere with their dangerous polluting 

toys, thus easing the fall crunch and the housing shortage. 


There is absolutely nothing in the rule book that certifies all change 

as progress or which denies the possibility of change directed in more 

amenable directions. 




James L. Fairley, Class of ‘53 















Eliot Fairley  


Berkeley Daiy Planet