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Letters to the Editor

Friday December 01, 2000

City should provide drop-off space at BHS 


I received a summons in the mail for a “no parking sign posted” ticket.  

At first, I could not figure out how I could have received a ticket without knowing for what or when I broke the law. I was ticketed for dropping off my son at Berkeley High School on the morning of October 23 at 8:02 am.  

I now remember the incident. I pulled up behind a car and dropped off my son. There were no other cars parked on the street. I do remember seeing a Parking Enforcement Vehicle next to the car in front of me.  

I could not believe, nor did I know, I was breaking the law for dropping off my son at school. I was not even warned that what I was doing was illegal nor to move on.  

If I were doing something illegal I would expect, out of common decency or consideration, that the parking enforcement officer would let me know. I did not receive an acknowledgment or a ticket at the time, or any type of warning. 

Going back to the scene, I see that the street is marked ‘no parking’ and is not painted red. From my layman’s perspective, I was not parking but dropping off students in a safe area. Had I known I was going to receive a ticket for such I would not have done so in front of the Parking Enforcement Officer.  

Regardless, I think it only reasonable for the parking enforcement officer to warn the motorist before issuing a citation. Even the police at the San Francisco Airport give that courtesy. 

A solution might be to establish a drop off/loading zone on Milvia to safely allow parents to bring their students to school. There are hundreds of students who are dropped off and picked up daily on Milvia St. As long as the driver remains in the car it should not be illegal.  

The safety of the children should be a priority over parking violation income to the city.  

I also understand that that part of Milvia is designated a bike path. It might not be unreasonable for drop off and pick up of students between certain hours be made a priority over bike paths as a compromise solution.  

A better use of the parking enforcement officer’s time would be to cite those people at Oxford School, who leave their cars unattended during the morning drop off, or cite those crazy drivers who make u-turns in front of Oxford School. 

In closing, I strongly feel that the city council and the mayor should direct the parking enforcement officers to do their jobs with a little more compassion. A warning, instead of an instant ticket, could go a long way to make for harmony in the community. I understand a similar measure was employed last year regarding parking meters  

Terrance Jue 



Let Netanyahu speak out – at the World Court 


Steve Wolan, formerly of the Free Speech Movement, and others who protest that B. Netanyahu should be allowed to speak publicly defending a political position and not harassed until they leave town do have a point.  

There is ample prima facie evidence that Netanyahu should be allowed to present his case, but as a defendant with expert legal counsel, before the World Court, brought up on long overdue charges of crimes against the peace, crimes against humanity and war crimes.  

The policy makers of Israel should be allowed to speak and answer questions, much as Eichmann was allowed to do in Jerusalem. If Israeli leadership is interested in peace in the Middle East it is only a peace at the service of Israeli hegemony. Thus ever has colonialism behaved. 


Peter Kleinman 



Prohibiting Netanyahu speech hypocritical 


I see, according to an article in Wednesday’s Planet, that Berkeley, the home of the Free Speech Movement, no longer protects or even tolerates free speech.  

An unruly crowd, which broke through a police barrier tape (but had no one arrested), claimed victory after forcing the cancellation of a pre-arranged speech by an admittedly controversial speaker, Benjamin Netanyahu, former Israeli Prime Minister.  

I am familiar with controversy, having spent time behind bars in the United States (federal prison for opposing the war in Vietnam), and in Poland (arrested and expelled for being a member of the Solidarity Free Union Movement). If Free Speech can’t survive here, then where? 

Councilmember Dona Spring, quoted in the article, complained that lecture organizers brought an “inflammatory” figure to town. Does she believe audiences should only 

hear boring, middle-of-the-road speakers? Her outrage that the city spent taxpayer funds on police protection is itself horrendously outrageous. Is it not one of the City’s highest duties to defend freedom of assembly and expression? 

Hatem Bazian, a UC lecturer quoted in the article, displayed similar contempt for American liberties. 

He claims a protest which silenced speech was a success, saying “Berkeley leads the way.....(as) it did in the Free Speech Movement.” Silencing others in the name of “Free Speech”? Orwell would be proud. 

I support Spring’s and Hatem’s free speech rights, but they do not reciprocate. They may even see my support for their rights as a weakness. Intense partisans, they would revoke my Constitutional, Bill of Rights freedoms, such as speech or assembly.  

In their opinion, those who fall outside the bounds of what they define as acceptable should be silenced. This is where fascism really starts. The Berkeley ACLU should make a statement deploring the forced cancellation of the Netanyahu speech due to threats from an unruly crowd. 


Lance Montauk 



Setting record straight on homeless vet 


Happy holidays! I want to thank you for the front page story in the Planet’s Nov. 25-26 issue on homeless veteran John Christian written by Millicent Mayfield.  

As a veteran and advocate for the homeless, I am always pleased when the media humanizes the homeless. However, I would like to correct some inaccuracies made by the reporter. 

Mr. Christian and I are not Vietnam veterans. We did not represent ourselves as such to the reporter. As the story points out, Mr. Christian joined the Army in 1978, three years after the end of the Vietnam war.  

In 1978, I became an ROTC cadet at UC Berkeley and entered active duty in the Army as a lieutenant in 1980, five years after the end of the Vietnam War. Whatever “war stories” Mr. Christian and I shared, it was not about Vietnam. 

I am also disappointed that the article did not mention the “Night On the Streets Catholic Worker” ministry that I belong to. I informed the writer about this group, which goes out every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday nights on Shattuck and Telegraph avenues to provide hot soup and fellowship to Berkeley’s homeless. It begins the first Monday after Thanksgiving and ends the week of Easter.  

I think a story about them would be fitting during the holidays to remind people that the season of Christmas is about giving and caring. If you are interested in a story about the group, contact its founder, J.C. Orton, at 841-6151. You’ll find J.C., with his rosy red cheeks, beard, ample girth and mirth, looks a lot like that other guy who like to give things away about this time. Once again, happy holidays to you.  


Modesto Fernandez 



Creeks and trees need city attention 

The Daily Planet received this letter to Lisa Caronna, director of Berkeley Parks and Waterfront Department: 

Now, that the bond issues passed, I hope that certain projects which may have languished get more attention. We should be thinking in the long term. 

I think that Blackberry Creek should get attention, especially in the area of Alameda and Colusa where the creek flows through backyards, under the garages and decks of the houses fronting on Capistrano, where residents may or may not enjoy it. 

The original developer should have left that whole block open as a park. I suggest that the city buy back those residences as the current owners pass on and do just that, even if it takes a hundred years or so to do, as a gradual process. 

Along that same line, we should not be planting trees that will grow too tall on either private or public property, as they are incompatible with houses and may harm the unsuspecting users of parks who expect them to be safe and secure.  

According to Carl Wilson, Berkeley historian and retired forester, this whole area was covered with grassland and some brush, with native trees in the ravines and gullies. Most tall trees we have now were imported and planted and have little current suitability. Berkeley should have a hazardous tree law, very similar to Oakland’s.  

I was glad to see some of your employees at two annual tree failure conferences, sponsored by the UC Co-op Extension.  

I hope you require any of your employees who attend at city expense to write a written summary and/or to make a presentation to your other employees of what was discussed at the tree failure conference. I also hope you report all, or at least the major, Berkeley tree failures to their statewide report system so that epidemics can be kept track of (it should be the law).  

I recently checked the tree near 540 The Alameda, which I told you had been red-dotted long ago and then forgotten by your staff. That tree was finally taken out spontaneously by a tree-trimming crew, much to the joy of nearby residents. A neighbor, who lives near Indian Rock Park, says he has nightmares about one of the grotesque eucalyptus there falling on his house with dire results.  

I understand that several trees blew down or fell over during the last windstorm a few weeks ago, most of which your staff did not anticipate would fall. In summary, Berkeley has big problems with our trees in the parking areas, in city parks, and in backyards.  

Charles L. Smith 






The Oakland postmaster has unilaterally decided to remove the numbering system from all Berkeley post offices.  

The reason given me for this move is: Berkeley is the only post office on the west coast that has such a system. We all know that Berkeley is unique in many ways, so it’s not too surprising that its post offices are unique too. 

Right now it’s not such a hassle to stand in line rather than sit until one’s number is called. However, as the Christmas mail rush arrives, there are sure to be long lines inside and outside all Berkeley post offices of people trying to mail packages, etc.  

If you feel as strongly as I do about the “militarization,” where everything in the system has to be uniform, of the Berkeley post offices I urge you to write or call Congresswoman Barbara Lee at 1301 Clay St., Suite 1000N, Oakland, CA., 94612. Her telephone number is 510-763-0370. Request that she ask the postmaster general for a more satisfactory reason than the above for the removal of the numbering system in all the Berkeley post offices.  

You may be surprised how promptly post office bureaucrats respond to such an inquiry.  


John Schonfield 






The Berkeley Tool Library is a jewel within the library system and a generator of tremendous goodwill.  

The thousands of us who use this south branch treasure have grown used to the help we receive from the knowledgeable staff. There is no problem we bring to Pete, Adam or Mike they aren’t willing to tackle, giving freely of advice and their fund of experience.  

They tell us where to go for information, supplies or tools if they aren’t available on site. And the new member of the staff, Candida, is being quickly brought “up to speed.” The staff know their patrons by name and always greet us in a professional, friendly manner. We count on them, we trust them, and some of us even bake them cookies. 

But there are some questions we have about the future: 


1. With the possible retirement of Pete McElligot, we are concerned that the Tool Library continue in its present fashion – generating goodwill and dispensing information. Pete’s retirement leaves his present position vacant and it seems to us, the users, that the most qualified person to succeed him would be Adam, who has seniority and the most experience on the job and the necessary communication skills the position requires.  


2. We would like to see another full-time position at the Tool Library and an additional part-time position, making two full-time and two part-time positions. This would move Mike to full-time and require hiring another part-time person. Over the years, the Tool Library has doubled in patrons and popularity and the lines at times are quite long and slow – due in part to the fact that we are not just picking up a tool, but wanting to know its uses, care and how to address our problem with it. We, therefore, think the added staff and time are justified. This is not a pass-the-card-through-scanner operation.  


3. We are troubled that, at times, people are working alone. This never happens in the regular library. There is just too much chance for quick theft for this to be acceptable, to say nothing of the safety of the staff. The building is essentially separate from the main building and a worker there is not within shouting distance of help in case of an emergency.  


4. Parking is also a problem. There is a bus stop on the corner and a lot of cars parked, full-time, on the east side of the street and only three spaces on site. We are not carrying away books here but 10 foot ladders and cement mixers, and some of us are little old ladies and can’t drag equipment to our cars a block away. Could AC Transit move it’s bus stop? Can we have 30-minute parking in front of the Tool Library and the community garden during Tool Library hours? 


5. With the passage of the bond for the branches we want to make sure the Tool Library gets its fair share. We want to know what plans there are for expanding, rebuilding or revamping and how we can become involved.  


No comments on the Tool Library would be complete without mention of another exciting feature, its Web site; a place with as many as 500 hits per month from as far away as England and Japan! Check it out and you will find articles about houses settling, earthquake preparedness, photos, artwork, and more by the Tool Library’s own Web Master, Adam.  

Questions and comments come in daily from Berkeley builders, contractors and fix-it fans. Questions come in from all over the United States asking how to start up a Tool Library. We are eager that his service continue and expand. Centris Computers, a Tool Library fan, set up the computer system and donated their services.  

People interested in joining us and becoming more involved in seeing the Tool Library services continue in a smooth fashion through Pete’s retirement and replacement, and in the upcoming expenditure of library funds can call 845-7621.  


Rosemary Vimont