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Letters to the Editor

Monday November 06, 2000

Vote no on school bonds 


Vote no on all school bonds. The California public school system already receives 43 percent of the entire State budget! K -12 gets $34 billion and the U.C. system gets 9 billion dollars. The state budget is just less than 100 billion dollars. Add to this the $20 million a year the Berkeley school system gets from current bonds and then add the more than $6 million a year it gets from the federal government and one has to wonder — What do they do with that much money? Do not give them another penny. Make them accountable and make them do it with the billions they already have. If these numbers surprise you, they should. Call the Berkeley Unified School District. They told me all this over the phone. Also, read the California state budget, it’s all there. The left leaning Bay Area newspapers do not report stories which tell of the wasted money in our school system.  

Michael Larrick 



Parks need to be maintained 


Measures S and W deserve the support of Berkeley voters who care about the livability of our community. For many years our parks did not receive the care and attention our residents desire and deserve. 

Through the efforts of many adopt-a-park groups and Berkeley Partners for Parks, the hard work of city staff has been supplemented to improve our parks far beyond what the city’s limited budget could afford. Thousands of volunteers have contributed to create such notable projects as the Fountain at Marin Circle, Halcyon Commons, and Dreamland for Kids at Aquatic Park. 

Berkeley’s park acreage has doubled in the last 23 years, yet the number of city maintenance staff is virtually the same. With many new projects under construction, it is vital that we provide adequate resources to keep all our facilities well maintained. 

Say yes to good parks. Vote yes on S and W. 

Gail Keleman 



No room for humor in election 


Was Andrew Lam’s article on choosing Gore or Bush by means of astrology a joke? If not, it was frivolous and not helpful.  

I have an interest in astrology and the I Ching, but to choose a candidate this way is absurd. People have died for the right to vote, and we scorn their memory by making light of this opportunity to make democracy work. 

After 40 years of voting, I know people don’t always vote on the basis of issues, but I would like to make a plea for just that. Despite the fact that both parties are beholden to corporations, one party is pro-choice, one party gave us social security and seeks to protect it.  

Gore favors gun control, the NRA favors Bush. Gore opposes oil drilling in Alaska, Bush would do it. Gore opposes school vouchers, Bush favors them. To me, these are big issues.  

So while I am not a Democrat, I am a pragmatist. I lived through the Reagan-era, saw the elimination of beneficial social programs, the removal of environmental protections, the exaltation of corporate power and the dismantling of the labor movement.  

The power of the president is great. I would like to preserve what progressive measures we have, not see them taken away.  

Sallie Hanna-Rhyne 



Open Letter to Ralph Nader 


I am writing to let you know that how sorry I was to hear you say to Sam Donaldson on ABC-TV on Sunday October 29 that you weren't very troubled at the prospect of Roe vs. Wade being reversed by the Supreme Court, since all that would mean is that “it just reverts it back to the states"(see ABC-TV website). If this was meant as a serious statement, it is incredibly foolish and insensitive; if it was meant as only a campaign ploy, then it tells us that the intense quest for “5 percent” of the votes has become an irresponsible obsession.  

Unlike some others, I am not asking you to withdraw from the race, which would be unrealistic. But I do think you owe your admirers a better explanation than I have heard so far of why you now think it okay to say just about anything in order to minimize the serious differences between Bush and Gore. Personally, I see no need to outflank Reverend Jackson, Senator Wellstone, the Black Caucus, NOW, Abortion Rights, Planned Parenthood, the Sierra Club, and countless others in the name of what you have called “conscience.” The gun lobby, the HMOs, the insurance companies, the pharmaceutical and tobacco Industry, the loggers, and other corporate interests all seem to understand the differences between Bush and Gore better than you do, as is easily seen from the vast amounts of financial support they are giving to Bush as compared to Gore. I guess I just don't grasp your use of the word “conscience,” since my conscience would really bother me if I voted in a way that contributed to Bush's election and to the policies that would follow from Republican control of all three branches of government. If the worse case scenario does happen (the one you like to pooh-pooh — a Bush-appointed Supreme Court), I am planning to spend what is left of my life — which is how long the reconstituted Supreme Court may last — calling it the “Nader Court.”  

Reginald Zelnik 



Not just Roe Vs. Wade 


I have heard so many agonizing discussions on voting your conscience in the next election. The arguments seem to pivot largely on abortion rights since there is precious little else to distinguish Democrats from Republicans. For people who have declared their support for Nader yet will vote Gore because of the fear of new appointments to the Supreme Court who in turn, may reverse Roe Vs. Wade, I would like to expand the discussion beyond state and national politics.  

In 1996, the Republican National Party supported legislation to extend the Fourteenth Amendment protection to unborn children. If amended, childbearing women who accidentally become pregnant may have fewer choices for abortions. I had to look hard on the web to find this Republican position. It was not on the Bush-Cheney presidential site, nor was it on the official Republican Party site. I found it on Phyllis Schlafly's Republican National Coalition site. 

So, we vote Democratic and hold our nose to protect the right of some women who elect abortion as a family planning tool. I do not know the circumstances that would lead the state or federal courts to impose an unwanted pregnancy as a result of rape or that may, as a result, injure the mother; it is bad enough to limit remedies for mistakes.  

So we vote Gore, and we do so as we hold our nose because we understand the last eight years have brought us more African-American men in jail than ever before. Another few years of Democratic leadership and 40 percent of African-American males in southern states will be entirely denied the vote. We vote Gore knowing that Democrats are so supportive of capital punishment and incarceration for drug offenses that on these issues you should vote Campbell over Feinstein for Senate.  

If justice is your issue, a Democrat will certainly continue to blame the victim in Palestine because of contributions from the pro-Israel lobby. Democrats introduced the “secret evidence” laws and the profiling requirements for the aviation industry. 

The make-up of the Supreme Court is an important issue and I do not wish to belittle it, and maybe the Republicans will increase the limits on abortions that have started in the Clinton administration and this may lead to the loss of lives of some poor women. It is a hard choice to make but be certain, hundreds of thousands of non-Americans will die as a direct result of the sick foreign policy of the Democratic Party. 

Nabil Al-Hadithy