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Letters to the Editor

Wednesday March 21, 2001

Beth El question not about good works but good development 


Michael Fajans’ letter in the Berkeley Daily Planet (”Beth El’s a respected part of the community,” March 19) claims that Congregation Beth El’s power derives from the “Congregation’s many and ongoing contributions to the community.” Mr. Fajans then lists a number of ways in which Congregation Beth El and its membership is involved in the community. No one is disputing the involvement or value of Congregation Beth El’s membership in the community. 

What Mr. Fajans would have us ignore by his recitation of good works is the impact that the proposed synagogue and school would have upon the immediate neighborhood. Let’s ask Mr. Fajans if the good works of Congregation Beth El’s membership will do the following: 

• Keep car fluids (leaking oil, transmission fluid, power steering fluid, etc.) from running off their proposed driveway into Codornices Creek? 

• Result in daylighting the culverted portion of Codornices Creek at the site of the proposed project? 

• Ensure adequate parking on site for Congregation Beth El’s activities and services? 

• Ensure that Congregation Beth El’s hours of operation not interfere with the quiet and peaceful enjoyment of our homes? 

• Ensure that traffic on Spruce Street will not become a demolition derby should Congregation Beth El’s proposed driveway exit on Spruce Street near Berryman Path as currently planned? 

These questions and others have been asked for many months now by neighbors and have gone unanswered by Congregation Beth El’s leadership. Why? 


David A. Dempster 

Berkeley, CA  


Save money, nerves: use public transit 


Two interesting points Steve Geller (3/14) raised in his response to our letter concerning BUSD’s request for staff permits to daily park in residential parking zones I’d like to reply to: 

First, many may not realize that residents who live in RPP zones cannot park on their streets unless they pay for an annual stickers€“only non-area residents park for free. The city’s enforcement and monitoring is sufficiently haphazard that many commuters do park for free simply by moving their cars around. 

Secondly, it is not quite so simple as the streets are public property. As we understand it, each adjacent property owner owns property to the middle of the street and the city has an easement to use the area as a public right of way. Neither property owners nor the community have weighed in on how they (we) want the public right of way used. 

We join Mr. Geller in urging better transportation incentives and alternatives and thank him for raising our consciousness. Residents and non-residents alike would be surprised how much anxiety and money can be saved by using transit. Higher costs for and less access to parking will encourage more travelers to try public alternatives. 


Wendy L. Alfsen 


High Tech products don’t stand up to high standards 


It’s no wonder that the market is teetering away these days. An honest look at the majority of hi-tech products just don’t hold up to reasonable standards of reliability and customer support. Networks are so overloaded that one wastes as much time as one saves just trying to get through to certain sites or completing a download without an unexplainable disconnect. Junk programs proliferate and are often just come-ons to lure “users” into paying for the upgrade that, perhaps, does what it claims. Tech-Support is often a hopeless labyrnthian ride to nowhere…and when you do get to talk to someone, you’re lucky if they know what they’re talking about.  

It is obvious that too many companies have greedily taken on more customers than they are capable of handling. Moreover, their software is highly fallible and frustrating to use. But rather than ‘fess up to this, they run their predictable mantras about ‘upgrades,’ re-configurations, refreshing your drivers, etc. ad nauseum. I suppose though, they are just riding the wave of nascent 21st century avarice and greed. It is this self-centered profligacy that has led to similar crisis in housing, energy, the ubiquitous rape of our natural resources and the protection of intellectual property. 

Meanwhile, consumers and even some businesses are finally showing some hard-earned caution and are pulling back from the madness. The market, accordingly, goes south. Frankly, I need a new computer just to keep up with it all. But I hesitate…… as I know it will probably take a good month of file transfers, program loading, re-connecting and spending precious evenings ‘on hold’ waiting for someone behind some firewall to waste more of my time. 

The hi-tech boom which propelled the euphoria of the 1990’s was built on an hysterically optimistic and in many ways, fraudulent foundation. But after all the cock-a-doodle-doin’…some folks are beginning to wake up, though there’s a lot less for all of us to roost on these days. 


Marc Winokur  



Stock market plunge reflects Bush’s tax cut plan 


Last November, a majority of the voters repudiated Bush’s economic plans and voted for Gore, but Bush’s fixers made him President anyway. Now, the stock market is showing its opinion of W’s tax plan and economic priorities. 

The multi-headed Market knows that a strong middle class is much more valuable to the economy than making a few rich people even richer. If “Humpty Dumpty” gets his tax cut, all the king’s fixers and all the kings men won’t be able to put the economy together again. 


Bruce Joffe 



End the drug war, legalize marijuana 


Cannabis has no lethal dose and its pharmacological effects have never caused a single death in over 5,000 years of recorded history. 

The (unseen) driving force against medical (or unrestricted adult) legalization of cannabis is the fact that cannabis can’t be patented. This precludes the need for big business to be involved and that fact makes cannabis commercially unattractive to the pharmaceutical, tobacco and alcohol industries (lobbies). It seems that if it can’t be profitized successfully the government can’t justify legalization even for the sick and dying. 

Furthermore, the war on cannabis drives the war on drugs. Without cannabis prohibition, the drug war would be reduced to a pillow fight. This is the politics and the economics of cannabis prohibition. 

Maybe the corrupt politicians and media are required to adhere to the party line of cannabis prohibition because law enforcement, customs, the prison and military industrial complex, the drug testing industry, the “drug treatment” industry, the INS, the CIA, the FBI, the DEA, the politicians themselves et al can’t live without the budget justification, not to mention the invisible profits, bribery, corruption and forfeiture benefits that prohibition affords them.  


Myron Von Hollingsworth 

Fort Worth, Texas