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Letters to the Editor

Thursday March 15, 2001

Comments taken out of context 



Zoning Board Commissioner David Blake defamed me personally at a public meeting by taking my comments out of context and by misinterpreting my remarks.  

I want to set the record straight.  

Mr. Blake recalled my noting at the Zoning Board meeting on November 9 that that day was the anniversary of Kristallnacht, the Night of the Broken Glass. On that night in 1938 Jewish homes and institutions in Germany and Austria were desecrated and destroyed. The “Berkeley Daily Planet” article of Weekend March 10-11, 2001, referred to Mr. Blake’s remark that my comment was a gentle way of reminding the board that its members could be considered anti-Semitic if a permit to develop the site at 1301 Oxford St. wasn’t approved. 

The truth is that, for me, it was very gratifying that the November 9 hearing was held on that day, because, as a refugee who saw the destruction of synagogues in my native Hungary, I was thrilled to be able to be part of a building project to construct a new synagogue in free America. That’s what I said, on more than one occasion. In fact, in the Nov. 10, 2000 “Express” I was quoted as follows: “You can imagine how happy I am to be building a synagogue when I saw in my lifetime the desecration and destruction of so many synagogues.” 

That’s what I said, and that’s what I meant.  

I strongly object to Mr. Blake’s interpreting my remarks in a way calculated to harm me and my congregation.  


Rabbi Ferenc Raj 

Congregation Beth El,  



Sell KPFA; doesn’t reflect diverse territory covered 



I agree with the letter by Mel Baker advocating the selling of Pacifica in your March 7 edition. 

Since I‘ve been an occasional listener to KPFA I‘ve noticed that they put out one-sided propaganda of the crudest and most amateurish sort. Everyone interviewed seems to be of people within a narrow spectrum of political views. Not just interviews but chats, livingrooms and call ins seem to be of people who fall within this narrow band. I will admit that there is some good music and interesting narratives that I catch late at night while driving home. 

But regardless of my opinion it seems that the station should serve its listeners throughout its broadcast area. I am able to hear KPFA down to Monterey, up to Clearlake and almost to Tahoe. Shouldn’t the station be responsive to all its (potential) listeners which runs into the millions rather than some 10,000 who demonstrate on University Avenue? I realize that there are local listeners who contribute to Pacifica ( along with the Federal Government) but I feel the entire listening audience should vote with their dial on Pacifica. 


Wayne Huber 



Fight against chemophobia; be scientific 



The Bauce letter (”Science not always the answer,” March 10) carries a critique (for environmental and health) as “science based” with a terminal comment that today’s (science) becomes tomorrow’s science fiction. He obviously knows neither science fiction nor science, as yesterday’s science fiction is today’s science fact.  

However, we scientists have been dealing with such ignorance for centuries. We tend to dismiss such, probably to our own detriment, instead of dealing with the debate. I have published (in print and on my web page) a discussion of the alternative objectives ecohysterics and chemophobics have in the critiques of our advancing society. See “Combatting Chemophobia and Ecohysteria” at “”.  

Fortunately, there are medical/scientific communities that deal with environment and health issues in a rational manner. Those communities have protocols for what is acceptable evidence for a problem, and may recommend a solution of known, or do the research necessary to solve the problem if it is not known.  

I am reminded of the Shakespearean quote on “tale told by an idiot signifying nothing” by those who would downplay our scientific advances in health, medicine and life in general.  


Robert D. Athey Jr. 

El Cerrito 


Davis should back up claims with some facts 


Dear Editor, 

In response to Frank Davis, Jr.’s opinion of 13 March, 2001: 

At the bottom of Mr. Davis’ argument I hear the bitter whine of a greedy landowner who has been prevented from gouging absurdly high prices for modest accommodations.  

We’ve heard the same arguments from Peggy Schioler and Robert Cabrera; why, why, why can’t we just kick those low-paying tenants out and get us some new ones that bring in twice as much dough? After all, there was so much money to be had during the dot-com boom (R.I.P.)--what a shame that it was over so quickly! 

The people of Berkeley have made it clear, through their elections to the Rent Stabilization Board and the passage of Measure Y, that they support rent control for Berkeley; this despite heavy lobbying, generous monetary subsidies from out of town, and misleading campaign flyers from Mr. Cabrera and company. No amount of arm-flapping, hand-wringing and finger-pointing will change this fact. 

Mr. Davis claims, somewhat disingenuously, that rent control has somehow caused Berkeley’s population of black tenants and landlords to decrease. I‘m unclear as to how this has come about. To me, the opposite effect is implied: as long-term tenants leave their residences, landlords are free to charge whatever prices the market will bear for their properties. It would seem self-evident that this situation would not favor low-income tenants, black or otherwise, and that low-income blacks are leaving Berkeley because it’s too expensive to live here – but then perhaps Mr. Davis is privy to information I don’t have.  

Certainly he wouldn’t be referencing black issues in order to provide moral gravitas for his venality. Perhaps he’d be willing to share with us some of his “compelling evidence.” It might be very interesting to compare the rates of black flight from Berkeley pre-and post-Costa-Hawkins. 


Matthew Weber 

Curatorial Assistant 

Music Library, UC Berkeley 


Tool-lending library staff deserves support 


As relatively new home owners in Berkeley, we would just like to say thank you, thank you, thank you to Mike, Adam and Candida, who patiently instruct all of us lucky enough to have access to the tool library at the Martin Luther King (South Berkeley) branch of the Berkeley Public Library system.  

These guys (and woman) are always gracious and so helpful while schlepping those tools in and out for us come rain, shine or locusts. We sure hope the powers that be give these employees the hours and benefits they so richly deserve.  


Nestor Padron and 

Elizabeth Padron Vos