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Letters to the Editor

Friday January 23, 2004


Editors, Daily Planet: 

I appreciate Andrew Becker’s recent article “City Tries New Tactic With Tune-Up Masters Site” (Daily Planet, Jan. 20-22). In addition to correcting the spelling of my name (Kibby, not Kibbey) I wanted to add a point of clarification. 

At Thursday’s ZAB workshop for Tune-Up Masters, both of the “options” under consideration are at 350 percent of the General Plan density for this site, and exceed the University Avenue planning standards by one and two stories. 

The most important detail of this building is its bulk and mass (denser than Acton Court, five stories tall on a small quarter-acre site abutting a neighborhood), and there are no “options” presented which address this. 

Where’s Option 3? 

The state’s Density Bonus law is not dictating the size of this building. It’s the city’s current interpretation of the state’s Density Bonus law that is pushing these huge buildings up.  

I want a building that can have a graceful street presence as well as blend well with my neighborhood and complement existing avenue merchants. Berkeley published planning guidelines describe such a building, and I hope that we will explore this. 

Robin Kibby 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Andrew Becker’s article on the Tune-Up Masters development was excellent. However, I did not mean to give Mr. Becker the impression that it was “at [my] suggestion” that the task force recommended an early informal ZAB workshop. It was an idea favored by Planning Director Dan Marks, everyone on the task force, and other development observers. 

Sharon Hudson 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Ladies beware: George Bush says “I love you” but he only wants to get into our pants!  

He knows what we want to hear. His eyes brim with sincerity as he murmurs the “L” word to us and opens up his heart. During his recent State of the Union message, he was like some late-night Lothario at a singles bar, desperately trying to get laid. 

You take him home with you. And he turns out to be Ted Bundy. 

“I’ll give you schools!” says Bush. I want schools. 

“I’ll give you democracy in Iraq, good medicine and make you safe,” he says. I wanna be safe! 

And the next morning, we wake up and find that he’s gone—and so is the television set, the VCR, the Toyota, the cat and our best friend Suzie. We’re pregnant, have an STD and three of our fingers are missing. 

Ladies, beware. George Bush is the man our mothers warned us about. 

Jane Stillwater 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Berkeley is facing a large budget deficit. The mayor and the city manager seem to be intent on cutting down on one of the few parts of our local system that should be completely insulated from any budget cuts—the democratic process.  

Measure J, which makes running for local office more inaccessible for non-incumbents and working people, was put on the March ballot at the mayor’s behest. This measure will invite further involvement of big money donors and consultants, which have helped degrade our state-wide and national elections. 

Now, the city manager is working on “streamlining” city commisions—i.e.: eliminating some and consolidating others. City commissions are an important method for citizens voices to be heard by commissioners and therefore by the city council. Also, the commissioners themselves add their own diverse expertise and experiences to the breadth of information the city council receives on various vital issues facing all of us. The commission system allows our elected officials to use the wonderful spectrum of voices and knowledge of our city.  

This appears to be a cynical attempt to consolidate power by current officials. I hope that we, the Berkeley voters, choose to reject such attempts to muffle the sometimes raucous sounds of democracy.  

Jesse Townley 


Disaster Council 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I am fascinated by the outraged letters [in other papers] berating Democrats for bashing Bush for his policies. My guess is these same people had no trouble bashing Clinton for everything single thing he did. If I feel upset or uncomfortable with something President Bush has done, I ask myself, “How would I feel if Clinton did the same thing?” If I still feel uncomfortable, I object to what is happening. If not, I keep my mouth shut. 

Anne Smith 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

This article told about a woman having a hard time obtaining her driver’s license because of a name change due to her divorce and the trials and 

tribulations that she went through (“Homeland Security Foils a Fifity-ish Blonde,” Daily Planet, Jan. 16-19).  

Well, I have one better. 

In her case, her name was different due to divorce. In my case, my name was the same and did not change. My story is that I went to the DMV in Fremont to renew my driver’s license. They told me that I could not do that because the name on my Social Security Card was different than the name on my driver’s license. The name on my Social Security Card was “Bob Sparkman, Jr.” I got my Social Security Card when I was 16 and carried the same one since. The name on my driver’s license was “Robert Sparkman.” I argued with them to no avail that the names were the same that Bob meant Robert, etc. They did not care and told me it was due to the 9/11 issue. 

They told me at the Social Security office that I needed to show a document with the name “Bob Sparkman” on it and something with my “Robert Sparkman” on it. Well, since I got the “Bob Sparkman” version 42 years ago, I most certainly did not have anything with that name. I ended up driving around without a license scared of the cops on patrol for almost a year. One day I said to myself, “What if someone at the Social Security office might be more empathetic than the others have been?” I then called and they said that all I would need would be my passport and that I did not need anything with “Bob Sparkman” on it. 

After a year, I now have my new driver’s license. 

I know that we need to be protected from the terrorists, and I also think that we need to be protected from the stupidity that strolls through the DMV and Social Security offices. 

Bob Sparkman 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The president who fabricated war in Iraq supposedly to bring democracy to that country is opposed to elections there. 

Bush’s so-called Healthy Forests Initiative allows increased clear-cutting of our dwindling resources. 

His so-called Clear Skies Initiative weakens air pollution standards. 

“No child left behind” actually means that all children are left behind to pay back his borrowing on the national debt that gave tax breaks to his very rich backers. 

Now, he wants to excite us with his vision of going to Mars, while at the same time the director of NASA canceled the scheduled maintenance of the  

Hubble Space Telescope. If new batteries and gyros are not installed as planned, the most productive scientific instrument ever built will cease functioning, thereby wasting our expensive investment and squandering our opportunity to learn more about the universe. 

It’s time to replace this twisted administration. 

Bruce Joffe