Page One

Thursday May 10, 2001

A loss all of us can feel 



To the family of Nandi Phelps, 

I extend the heartfelt sympathy of all of the PTA Presidents in the Berkeley District, and of each and every Parent as well. I know that my heart screamed out with your pain when I heard that shocking news report that another child’s life had been taken, and that this time that child was one of our own. How easily that report could have been talking about my own son. Or one of his classmates at Le Conte. I look at their faces and can’t think  

of one of them that we could live without tomorrow. I don’t think that I will ever look at them the same again. In that I can understand how deeply the Oxford community suffers with you. Why fate reached out and dealt your family this horrible, horrible blow, we will probably never know. I can assure you that there isn’t a parent in Berkeley, or anywhere else who has heard about your Sister, your Daughter... your Angel, who hasn’t then reached out to hold their own child, and in doing so are embracing your Nandi. And like those parents, my tears at this moment are for you and all that you’ve lost.  

There is not much that we can do except to give you our love and our prayers, but know that all of our community is there for you. I don’t imagine that the shock of your loss will ever wear off, but as you begin to see a clearer picture of the road ahead; please let me know what we can do. 


Mark Coplan, President 

Berkeley PTA Council 


Coplan further encourages the community to help the family with funeral expenses. Please see the funeral announcement on p. 6 – editor. 


Thanks to Temple Beth El 



I am writing to commend Congregation Beth-El for the wonderful volunteer effort that its Social Action Committee mounted to support our efforts at Chaparral House, a not-for-profit skilled nursing facility on Allston Way.  

As part of the “Rebuilding Together” national spring event, Beth-El’s “Sukkot-in-April” brought over 30 volunteers to Chaparral for the last two weekends in April. These volunteers planned and organized then painted our dining room a bright cheery white which increased the light capacity of the room a good 25 percent. Besides saving us the expense their efforts help to make the space more livable for our elder, disabled residents, many of whom have diminished vision.  

The highlight of the last weekend was a wonderful community barbecue in Strawberry Creek Park which brought together the volunteers from our neighbor, the Berkeley Youth Alternatives, our residents, family, and staff, and the volunteers from Beth-El.  

This endeavor is just one more example of the community contributions which the Beth-El congregation makes to Berkeley. 


Jim Johnson 

Administrator of Chaparral Foundation 



Peace with justice for kids too 


The Bay Brief from Associated Press headlined “10-year-old arrested for terrorist threats” left something out, as such stories usually do. 

This fourth grade terrorist hopeful was removed from class, suspended, arrested, and charged by the police. What, pray tell, was done about “The other students” with whom he was arguing at the time of his alleged offense, who “were reportedly picking on him during a reading class?” 

It’s my impression from accounts of other incidents that children who attack people in schools have often been the object of harassment or torment by their fellows before they lash out. Certainly kids cannot with impunity harm their schoolmates or, in these days, even threaten them with violence, but the news stories always seem to leave the original offenders – the ones who were “picking on” the would-be terrorist before he earned his stripes – pretty much out of the picture, or at least only on the very edge of it. 

Recently I was heartened by some stories in the news from which I inferred that at least some schools, communities, and “authorities” are beginning to make the connection between the harassment (usually but not always of boys) that leads to violence or threats of violence and the sexual harassment (usually but not always of girls) that leads to the suffering and deprivation of the victims.  

In the latter case, society is finally beginning to take action, long overdue, but in the former case society – or is it only the media? – which seems to be focused almost exclusively on the victim of the harassment who lashes out when no “authority” acts to protect him. 

In both cases, it seems to me, the maxim holds good: if you want peace, work for justice. 


Kenneth M. Sanderson 



No need for Dems wrapped in Republican skins 


A $ 1,300 billion tax cut that benefits the very rich is bad for the country, and it is bad for the Democrats. It does not pay down Regan’s national debt. It does not shore up Social Security. 

It does institutionalize the privilege of a permanent upper class. 

We need leaders who can mount successful opposition to this policy. 

We do not need Democrats who are but tepid Republicans. 


Bruce Joffe