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Letters to the Editor

Tuesday July 29, 2003


Editors, Daily Planet: 

I am a resident on Kains Avenue between Cedar and Virginia. I have just become aware of the proposal to move the Berkeley Adult School and have volunteered to be active in helping to avert a terrible disaster. 

I have taken a petition around to my neighbors on Kains and talked to people on Virginia. Everyone with no exception is against, very against this proposal. The neighborhoods surrounding the school are small residential neighborhoods that are quiet and use their on-street parking as a necessity of life. The school at present is in a commercial neighborhood. Making this switch will be extremely difficult for all concerned. The school is in a good location at present. I am sure there are creative ways to remodel without having to move the school to a location that will cause a hardship on the existing community and is not wanted. 

This situation has to be carefully evaluated before any steps are taken. When all of the residents are opposed and concerned it demands the attention of the School Board and the School District. 

We are concerned about the traffic, the noise and the use of our streets for parking from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. five days a week, plus half a day on Saturday. We are concerned about adding 1,200 more people and possible vehicles to our neighborhoods on a daily basis. 

We are asking for more time to deeply consider all the hardships involved in this proposal. We are very concerned. 

Joyce Barison 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Progressives are supporting Howard Dean’s candidacy for president, even though he does not claim to be a programmatic progressive, because he has been an outspoken opponent of Bush’s unjustifiable and terribly costly invasion of Iraq and his outrageous tax cuts for the wealthy. Dean has the intelligence, honesty, integrity and energy to defeat Bush and to stand up to the right-wing minority that is disregarding the democratic process in order to claim power it can’t win at the polls, now in California as well as in Florida in 2000 and in the attempt to unseat Bill Clinton. Howard Dean’s positions can be found on his campaign Web site, 

Charlene Woodcock 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The commentary by Sharon Hudson “Citizen Voices Can Influence ...” in the July 22 issue of the Planet does an excellent job of describing the misconduct of the city. The situation is close to anarchy and lawlessness. An office to be blamed for this situation is the Planning and Development Department, in particular the zoning, with staff such as Mark Rhoades. He was named “a duplicitous insect” by one of the readers of this newspaper a few months ago. The Planning Department breaks the zoning laws and ordinances in favor of developers or corporations. The City Council, the city manager and the city attorney are aware of this misconduct; however, they usually defend the Planning Department. At best, the City Council denies any knowledge of the Planning Department misconduct. Perhaps this is a common trend in the United States: Administrations lie, misconduct, mislead, breach the laws, but no one resigns, gets impeached or reprimanded.  

Some recent misconduct, among many, by the Planning Department and some of the city staff have to do with the Sprint antennas at 1600 Shattuck Ave. The story started in July 2002 and continues. In the past few months Sprint has taken many illegal steps while the Planning Department has ignored such steps, and in many cases has supported them. For instance, according to the Berkeley Telecommunications Ordinance, when applying for a permit, wireless providers must provide engineering calculations that show planned wireless facilities comply with all FCC requirements. Sprint never provided such calculations. They did so a week after the Zoning Board public hearing. When this was brought to the attention of the city, the Planning Department, in support of Sprint, wrote in the Action Calendar of April 1, 2003, that “the engineer ... presented information from the report verbally, to the ZAB on the Dec. 12, 2002 meeting, but neglected to leave a copy with the ZAB secretary. A copy was faxed to the office the following week.” This is a lie. The audio-tape of the ZAB meeting is available; engineering calculations were not presented in the meeting. Besides, the law requires that such calculations be available at the time of application in July 2002, not during the ZAB meeting in December. 

This is only the tip of iceberg; there are many other instances that some city staff have broken the laws and let Sprint do the same. Law is meaningless in Berkeley. We only hear superficial gestures by the mayor who is asking the city attorney to write an ordinance for stealing free newspapers. This is not necessary, Mr. Bates. People, except you and a few, do not steal newspapers. 

When it comes to laws, this is what the city is telling Berkeley citizens: “Yes, the city is breaking the laws. If you have resources, go ahead and sue the city.” I agree with Sharon Hudson, who wrote: “Get involved now.” Yes, people should get involved and united to file law suits against the city and remove corrupt staff members. 

Afrida Freeman 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

In October, when California voters decide on the governor’s political future, they must also concern themselves with the integrity of electronic (touch screen) voting machines that many will likely use. Current touch-screen voting machines do not provide a paper trail to assure voters that their votes are being recorded correctly. A recent advisory task force convened by Secretary of State Kevin Shelley examined the issues relating to current and pending purchases of touch screen electronic voting equipment in California. While all committee members agreed that voters should receive a verifiable audit to ensure their ballot has been accurately recorded, they could not agree on a timetable for implementing these changes. The majority wanted the new rules to apply to equipment purchased in the year 2007 and beyond, with allowance for older equipment to be modified by 2010. Other members insisted that the Voter Verifiable Audit Trail (VVAT) be implemented immediately.  

Secretary of State Shelley is asking for public comment before making a final decision on Aug. 1. It is imperative that California voters demand that all electronic (touch screen) voting machines to be used in the recall ballot measure and in the 2004 elections have a verifiable paper trail. We cannot repeat Florida’s mistakes!  

The integrity of your vote is at stake. Send your comments to  

Further information is available at  

Josephine Arasteh