Page One

Letters to the Editor

Friday August 01, 2003


Editors, Daily Planet: 

In response to Norman Solomon's commentary (July 29-31 edition), let me make this clear: The Green Party is working on a viable electoral strategy for the 2004 presidential race. We are a grassroots party so this is taking time. 

We care about our impacts and are taking that into account as we work on our strategy. We are considering the effects of our campaigns on the country as a whole. 

Budd Dickinson,  

Member of Alameda County Green Party County Council and alternate delegate to the Green Party of the US  

Coordinating Committee 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I want to add my opposition to that of Joyce Barison (Letters, July 29-31 edition) to the proposed move of the Berkeley Adult School. The negative impact on the neighborhood of the proposed move is more than valid, no matter how much the school board denies it.  

My opposition, however, stems from the impact on female students if the school is moved to a less lit, less foot-traffic location. Certainly, the present University Avenue location provides more safety for female students attending early evening and night classes. In addition, seniors from nearby Strawberry Creek Lodge have protested the proposed move for safety and transportation reasons. With the increasing ineffectiveness of taxi scrip, will their pleas for a  

single bus-accessible adult school location be ignored? 

From what I’ve read of the proposed move, it appears to be mainly for the convenience of the administrative wing of the BUSD. The impact of the proposed move on students, the citizens they serve, seems to be falling on deaf ears.  

Will our progressive-led council be responsive to students or condone an elitist land grab by the BUSD?  

Maris Arnold 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

One-third of the undergraduate students accepted this year to UC Berkeley are transferring from one of California’s public two-year community colleges—many others accepted directly from public high schools are from low-income and/or immigrant families and/or are children of single parents with or without college diplomas.  

Some of these students join the largest housing co-operative, founded at Stiles Hall in 1933—University Students Co-op Association. There are now 17 group-living facilities that house 914 students; in addition, there are three apartment complexes, housing 380 students. The $1,400 last-minute increase in fees is a burden on these UC students, as it is on so many others.  

Why target UC and Cal State students while putting off or eliminating an increase in fees for owners of motor vehicles? Republican state legislators propose to cut UC’s budget by $400 million. Meanwhile, Republican Vice President Dick Cheney, who incidentally holds two degrees from a public university, wants to eliminate the inheritance tax, and would pay $327,000 less tax under national legislation proposed by the Republicans, according to calculations by Bloomberg News on Cheney’s 2001 tax return.  

I do not accept criticism of UC Student Regent Matt Murray, who wisely voted against the increase. At the same time, the 120 students currently enrolled in community colleges around the state who earned UC eligibility in high school and who were promised enrollment at the soon-to-be-completed UC Merced should be redirected to one or other of the UCs.  

The severity of the crisis is such that Vista Community College in downtown Berkeley should be closed altogether.  

Richard Thompson 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

John M. Poindexter is the highest-ranking member of the Reagan Administration to be found responsible for the Iran-Contra scandal. (The Administration secretly contravened Congress and gave money to the terrorist Contras, fighting in Nicaragua; the funds came from the sale of high-grade weapons to Iran after its fundamentalist rebels took over Iran’s government, and captured and held the U.S. Embassy in Teheran for 444 days.) 

The full story never has come out because the release of presidential papers from the Bush Sr. and Reagan aministrations has been suppressed by the current president, Bush Jr. 

Poindexter surfaced again last year as the Bush Administration’s nominee to run the Total Information Awareness database that would keep track of all Americans, supposedly looking for terrorists. In response to objection by more reasonable advisors, the name was changed to the Terrorist Information Awareness database. Now, this criminal is being proposed to head government-sponsored internet gambling, where people bet on terrorist activities. 

The absurdity of this Administration matches its cynicism. There are few powers in the world that are more threatening to our liberty and democracy. 

Bruce Joffe 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

There is something that people need to understand: what the SAT tests are and what they aren’t. After learning from a recent letter to the Daily Planet that UC President Richard Atkinson wants to continue using the SAT I as a primary evaluation of pre-college “achievement” I was appalled. This year I will be going into my senior year at Berkeley High School and after taking the SAT I twice, the SAT II six times, and spending countless hours studying, I learned what the SAT tests really are. 

First, the SAT test is a reasoning test; it is meant to measure how effective a student is at figuring things out. The SAT test does very little if anything to test “actual” understanding. In fact, the math and verbal sections contain knowledge that should have already been learned by sixth or seventh grade. It is a test of how well a student is able to break apart the intricate puzzle that the test makers create to seemingly befuddle the already overworked eleventh graders who are forced to take it. 

When the Regents decided that they will not count the SAT II Subject tests (this is discussed in the aforementioned letter) as twice that of the SAT I, they insured that students will be judged as much on “actual achievement” as how well they can work through an onerous maze of multiple choice questions. 

On the other hand, the SAT IIs are subject tests and evaluate, relatively accurately, the knowledge of students. The ineffectiveness and fallacious nature of the SAT I was especially obvious when an applications officer from a small private college named Lewis and Clark said that he and his colleagues had rejected an applicant who scored a 1590 on the SAT I (ten points less than perfect), because they “weren’t sure whether he would graduate high school or not.”  

The SAT I is not only a waste of time, but it focuses on the wrong areas of applicants. Students should be accepted because of an obvious will to learn, a want to make a difference, and a desire to become mentally stronger. No single test can predict this, and that’s what people need to understand.  

Eli Weissman 




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: 

In “Budget Impasse Threatens City” (Daily Planet July 4) the article attributes to me a statement which says that I “warned that the school (Vista Community College) may have to close its doors in September or October.” I neither said nor implied that this would happen. Visa Community College and all other Peralta colleges (College of Alameda, Laney and Merritt) will remain open, even in the face of the state budget crisis. 

I want to assure our students and our community that Vista is here to stay. Peralta trustees are committed to keeping all Peralta colleges—College of Alameda, Laney, Merritt and Vista Community College—open and running. They are doing everything possible to ensure that all Peralta colleges are able to meet students’ needs. 

Shirley Fogarino 

Public Information Officer, 

Vista Community College 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Our community recently lost an addict in recovery to a violent death—in layman’s terms, a man who was working to turn his life around was murdered on the streets of Oakland. 

Terry Wafer made the courageous decision to change himself when he came to Options, an alcohol and drug recovery center here in Berkeley. Mr Wafer made great progress in his recovery, but hit a bump in the road to his sobriety that many in recovery experience. He relapsed. Unfortunately, there is no detoxification center in Alameda County that Options could send him to. Our staff grieves Terry’s passing—we grieve for all those who were “caught up” in the events leading to Mr. Wafer’s demise. The consensus among our staff is that Terry Wafer is a good man who made a mistake. He needed more help. He needed a detox center. 

Alameda County responds to our budget crisis with disproportionate cutbacks to medical and social programs that serve East Bay residents who are working to develop life skills to internalize their locus of control. You don’t have to be an actuary to understand that our decisions to roll back the Alameda County social safety net will multiply the actual costs to our community. 

Neal Rockett 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

Mistakes must have been made, I feel, regarding the infamous boosting out of the good doctor Donald Sebanc from Sather Gate Mall (Daily Planet, July 29). 

That area needs modest but firm anchors of long standing. If the doctor is being vindictively punished by some hidden bureaucrat or is just the victim of the usual Berkeley snarling red tape and often anti-business scowling and frowning, we may never know. 

It sounds as though the city of Berkeley, which I love deeply, owes an apology to the doctor, at the very least...emphasis on “very.” 

Terry Cochrell 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

If a hit and run driver is caught, the person that sold them their car should be held responsible. 

Bicycles are “legal” vehicles and have the same rights and responsibilities on the road. 

All bicycles should have identification numbers, if not licenses, warning devices, lights visible as required. Pedestrians and bicyclists should be required to wear light colored clothing at night.  

Charles Smith