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Saturday May 19, 2001

Progressives? Call them radical 



I’m responding to a front page article in today’s issue on a squabble in the Berkeley City Council. You use terminology that is very misleading. 

Unfortunately this poor choice of words seems to have been accepted on all sides for years. I am referring to your calling the more left-of-center group progressive and the center group moderate. 

In my view the left-of-center group has never been progressive. It should be called left or left wing radical. The “moderate” group is hardly moderate. It is very progressive liberal and should be so designated. 

Misleading assignment of names verges on propagating falsehood.  

In Berkeley we ought to be able to call a spade a spade. 


Joseph E. Lifschutz, M.D. 



Elected officials accountable for electricity crisis 


The Berkeley Daily Planet received this letter addressed to Elected Officials: 


Re: Electricity 

As the elected officials representing the districts that will be most impacted by the results of poor judgment and bad decision-making of “electorates past,” you are obligated to act on behalf of your constituents by making decisions that are in the best interest of the people you promised to represent. 

Your offices had the power to prevent this mess. Your offices have the power to correct it. 

Like many Californians, my income is dependent upon the uninterrupted flow of affordable electricity. Rolling blackouts, exorbitant rate hikes and tax increases to repay bonds are not options.  

Prove your allegiances.  

You should either place the burden of bond re-payment on California’s taxpayers and allow the ongoing exploitation of utility customers while the utility companies’ parent corporations continue paying dividend to their shareholders and implement rolling blackouts that will further threaten California’s economy. 

Or you should take control of the utility companies’ assets and generating plants. 

Legislate that the State of California and its citizens be reimbursed for costs incurred since deregulation. 

Return to the ratepayers (via rate reductions and credits) what they have been overpaying to the utility companies. 

Take this opportunity to introduce, and pass legislation that will prevent these catastrophes of greed from occurring in the future. You hold office at a time when the public is painfully aware of the issues at hand and we will stand behind your efforts to introduce positive and necessary reforms. 

Prove that you are working on behalf of your constituents and fulfilling the duties of your office, or prove that you are working on behalf of the utility companies in their efforts to exploit their ratepayers.  

I will hold you and your offices accountable for any revenues lost as a result of rolling blackouts, all excessive rates I am charged and all tax increases as a result of existing and future bond measures if these matters are not resolved in a manner that is beneficial to all Californians. 


Mitchell Triplett 



Opposition to Beth El not about good works 



Recent articles and arguments in support of the Beth El project on Oxford and Spruce Streets have noted the good works performed by the Congregation and by many of its individual members.  

Such activities are to be applauded and both deserve and receive our respect. However, these good works have nothing to do with the zoning and planning issues at hand.  

Many organizations act for the good of humanity yet do not claim the right to do so in an area of single-family homes.  

There are two overriding problems with this project. The first is that it is simply too big. Where else in a single-family zone can one find a building of roughly 34,000 square feet? Even more important, Beth El has crossed the line between a church and school, which are conditionally allowed in single-family zones, and a commercial facility, which is not.  

Beth El’s plans call for an industrial size kitchen and banquet area. Beth El will rent this facility to its members which will act as a magnet for social occasions of all sorts.  

Having such a resource will be a powerful recruiting tool to attract new members to the Congregation, thus compounding the problem. Beth El may not maintain this type of commercial operation at its present site.  

As it is, the hosting of such social functions is directed to a variety of venues throughout the area that are equipped for and in the business of handling such events.  

Please don’t misunderstand. The social activities associated with Bar and Bat Mitzvahs and weddings are important and wonderful events.  

May the band play on joyously into the night. However, to expect to do so in a single family neighborhood is bad policy and bad planning, no matter how profound are the good works performed by the celebrants.  


Daniel P. McLoughlin 



Beating a path through it all 



In defense of his pretty creekside backyard, Zack Cowan of Spruce Street raises one silly and one reasonable bone of contention with my plan for a public path along Codornices Creek that would connect Live Oak Park with the Rose Garden and Codornices Park. He comically claims that to put the stream under Spruce would be to build a rickety wooden bridge to carry the automobile and bike traffic on the street. Actually, my mode for going under Spruce is just two blocks away on Walnut, where there is not a bump in the asphalt and cars that pass easily over the creek and creekside path that run underneath and connect two parts of Live Oak Park..  

The serious point from Cowan is his question of how I can claim that no homes would need to be “eminent domained” when the creek runs directly under a home up on Glen. If I may get more specific than in my letter outlining the plan: The house with the creek in the basement can be avoided by running the path up to Glen street through the very large and wide backyard of an adjacent home. The path would resume on the uphill side of Glen by going through the undeveloped narrow strip separating the back walls of two small homes. The creek cascades down from the Rose Garden into their backyards. All homes that make space for the path would, of course, receive generous payment from the city. I don’t know where Cowan got the idea I intended the city to just take his yard.  

In surveying for the plan I noticed that many homes on Spruce and Glen have “save the creek” signs in their yards. And yet Mr. Cowan’s letter was not unexpected. A Spruce street resident, who was passing by while I was surveying, told me, pointing to where the creek bubbles under Spruce, “I support your idea but I suspect that the owner over there will give you quite a fight.”  


Ted Vincent