Page One

Letters to the Editor

Tuesday July 08, 2003


Editors, Daily Planet: 

Regarding LBNL’s plans to fill part of a seasonal tributary to the North Fork of Strawberry Creek in order to assist in disposing of construction dirt by building a parking lot, I am very skeptical as to whether all options have been duly studied. Please consider me opposed to this plan, and willing to fight against it, until you have shown that there is no way to avoid destroying yet another of our tiny, remaining natural areas.  

I expect that our local politicians will assist in opposing this plan, when they realize the strength of community opposition. 

Judy Forrest 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Taxpayers in Berkeley, Emeryville, North Oakland, and Piedmont should be interested that they have a representative on the Alameda County Board of Education. Probably not one person out of 1000 knows what this body is. It has a budget of over $30 million.  

Jacki Fox Ruby was elected to represent the citizens in that area. She defeated the incumbent, Jerome Wiggins, who had served with distinction on the board for many years trying to allocate more money to students at risk. Ruby was supported by an infusion of $17,000 to her campaign by the county superintendent of schools, Sheila Jordan. After taking office, Ruby voted Jordan a 66% raise.  

You can contact Ruby at the county office of education, 313 W. Winton Ave., Hayward, 94544 or by email at 

Ernest A. Avellar 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

I am responding to Angela Rowen’s article in the June 27 issue titled “Neighbors protest at the Corporation Yard Site.” 

I appreciate your coverage of how, in our eyes, the City of Berkeley that has treated this neighborhood irresponsibly. 

Horse and buggies visiting the Corporation Yard (established in 1916) have given way to diesel trucks and the latter include 18 wheel tractor/trailers. You note that I have personally witnessed (though some time ago, not “last week”) one such 18 wheel truck back into my neighbors’ parked car (right in front of my living room window) as it made multi-point turns (all the while blocking traffic) in attempting to negotiate the too narrow Corporation Yard entrance (the neighbors were arbitrarily denied damage compensation for their car). However, to set the record straight, in the interview I stated that it was a flatbed truck and mused apocalyptically “What if the flatbed truck had been an 18 wheel gasoline tanker with an explosive/flammable load (such trucks regularly visit the Corporation Yard to service the gas station which was installed without a permit a few years ago)?”  

In sum, this neighborhood continues to be seriously jeopardized by such activity. Further,the city has fostered the development of recreational facilities and parks on all adjacent sides of the Yard (Strawberry Creek Park, Charlie Dorr Tot Park, Berkeley Lawn Bowling, and BYA organic gardens). We love the park space, but not the fact that our children (ages 2 and 4, with another on the way) are exercising strenuously in the midst of diesel fumes and dust pollution. In addition, there are no stop signs or crosswalks for us to access Strawberry Creek Park from Bancroft Way -- we are forced to wait or stop traffic ourselves in order to cross the street. 

Instead of wasting money on temporary modular buildings, the operations from the Ratcliff building should be permanently transferred to other sites, with the remaining Corporation Yard operations transferred over time as funds become available. Everyone on the Zoning Adjustment Board, it seemed to me, agreed that the Corporation Yard should be moved out of the neighborhood.  

Give us a central Berkeley park instead of heavy industry! 

Muni Schweig 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Bay area U.S. Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Walnut Creek, maintains that UC is a competent manager for the Los Alamos weapons lab. In introducing her July 1 to a University audience, UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Berdahl said that she recognized that the university plays a role in maintaining national security. Tauscher then went on to say that it was the President who “cooked the books,” and not the University. Unless the bid proposal has already been written off, this is calculated the wrong way.  

UC Interim Vice President Bruce Darling said that it was important to remember that UC Berkeley combined science and technology to help develop the atomic bomb during World War II. I would remind the “audience” that 400 scientists at the Los Alamos government laboratory warned in a statement signed October 13, 1945 --two months after Hiroshima and Nagasaki-- that to keep the secrets of nuclear fission would lead to “unending war more savage than the last.”  


Richard Thompson,  

Cal alumnus  




Editors, Daily Planet: 

When municipal budgets are going up in smoke, why do cities still sponsor fireworks that scare pets and pollute the air? It’s time to put the remnants of lethal patriotism into the dust bin.  

Bob Gable 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Thank you, Robert Scheer (”Recall Bush, not Davis”), for reminding Californians that the cause of our state’s financial problems came from the Bush Administration’s release of energy manipulators, like Enron, who had their way with California’s energy markets. It was the energy crisis that precipitated the economic downturn, which reduced tax revenues, that landed us in a Very Deep Debt. Perhaps this recap of recent history will wake up some of the anti-Davis Republicans who slept through the energy crisis the first time.  

Perhaps it will also awaken Gray Davis, albeit too late, to the deregulation problem as well. It was Davis who kept his well-coifed head down and quiet while Attorney General Bill Lockyer challenged the energy company manipulations at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The full weight and force of California’s government, and its political establishment, might have pressured them into doing the right thing. And it is just that kind of Davis timidity, bordering on Republicanism, that has angered Democratic voters enough to want to replace this Governor with a real Democrat.  

Bruce Joffe  





Editors, Daily Planet: 

A July 1 letter estimated that during the 1990s, Berkeley was “building housing at not much more than one-fifth of the rate of the 1960s.” A good thing, too -- given the awful architectural legacy that the 1960s left Berkeley. 

That legacy includes UC’s monstrous “unit” high-rise dorms in Southside, and ugly, cheaply built “tilt-up” apartment buildings all over town. Meanwhile, neighboring cities like El Cerrito, Albany and Richmond built little but single-family housing. And they’ve continued in that pattern of inefficient, low-density land use to this day. 

Berkeley residents learned from what UC and developers did to us in the 1960s. We’re gradually building a more livable city, now that neighborhood groups and City officials demand that new structures fit in with their surroundings -- and demand that adjacent cities provide their fair share of needed housing. 

Tom Brown 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I just want to pass along a positive word -- I like the paper. The first thing I look for is the Outdoors article or a gardening related story. I also work on the crossword for speed. Preferrably while sitting outside. Of course the paper’s mix of articles is to be commended. A good blend of progressive news and happenings that matter. 

More later. Keep it up.  

Alan Tong 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Berkeley City Council watchers note the diminishing regard for the weal of Berkeley seniors, attributable not just to budget-cutting. The latest is taxi scrip abuse. 

It has been Berkeley Paratransit Services (based, for some reason in the Housing Department) practice to periodically mail (no over the counter service) forms containing latest pricing information and application, to be returned by mail with payment. The senior citizen can then only wait and watch for the mail carrier. Clearly, this exchange process requires an allocation of at least a month and staff supervision. 

The current scrip period began July 1. Recipients needed confidence in receipt by mid-June. It is difficult to schedule appointments with specialized health services; it is costly to have to cancel them. Phone calls are counterproductive; the senior citizen who reports phoning at about 2:30 p.m. on a Monday is told by taped response that “We only answer the phone on Mondays between 1 and 4 PM.” 

It would be different if taxi scrip were a mere nicety in our lives. Many Berkeley seniors, like myself (low-income, without family,) depend on taxi scrip for transportation to and from health-related services. Most low-income seniors are women. 

I am aware of Council Districts 2 and 4 seniors who became alarmed by mid-June and contacted their Councilmembers. Some desperately mailed in checks without current application forms and information. I also alerted the Commission on Aging, Senior Services, and the Housing Department. My June 26 attempt to reach the city manager and mayor presumably resulted in a phone message the following afternoon from a Housing Department peacemaker who compounded a bad situation with the news that the taxi scrip person wasn’t there that day, acknowledged that they could “do better,” and misinformed me by declaring that in the meantime “East Bay Paratransit [a service for disabled persons, requiring advance scheduling and processing into their computer] is also available.” He concluded with the useless bureaucratic “If you have any questions” blah blah. 

Helen Rippier Wheeler 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

It is a healthy sign for the Berkeley community that you are back in circulation. Your coverage of Berkeley issues is more thorough and more fair-minded than any other Bay Area publications that take an erratic swipe at reporting on Berkeley.  

As examples among many other, your recent articles on residential development and the tenure protest of UC professor Iganacio Chapela are not likely to be matched elsewhere in the Bay Area press. The Theodore Roszak column on Bush’s blind faith is a gem, and your editorial on the recall of Davis, “It Could Get Worse,” is a reminder that intemperate political anger often worsens rather than improves government.  

On cultural matters, you carried the only review I have seen of the recent outstanding production of Euiripedes’ “The Bacchae” in John Hinckel Park. 

It would be great if you could resume daily publication! 

Norman K. Gottwald