Letters to the Editor

Tuesday January 27, 2004


Editors, Daily Planet: 

I am a concerned citizen who has consistently opposed the Shasta Road fire station. That battle has apparently been lost and the city has the court’s blessing to spend Measure G funds on this project. Positions on both sides of this issue became entrenched and arguments justifying the project took on a life of their own and had to be defended in order to prevail in court. Now that the issue is settled and in light of the budget crisis facing the city, the current administration should face up to some realities.  

(1) This is not an additional fire station and there is no reason to expend $369,000 to seismically upgrade or maintain the current Station No. 7 which will be no more than a warehouse on a very expensive lot in a residential neighborhood.  

(2) This project is not multi-jurisdictional and neither the size of the proposed facility nor its nearly $5 million budget is justified.  

I found it almost laughable that the city was expending funds on outside attorneys to defend the “additional” fire station, while debating the rotating closure of existing fire stations. The arguments of the opponents of the Shasta Road station were drowned out by parochial politics, but that doesn’t mean that their arguments weren’t valid. For example, we did identify a recently completed fire and police station project in Marin County that was larger in size than the proposed Shasta Road station and cost about half as much as we are budgeting. Since money—or the absence of it—is now an issue, maybe the current administration will reconsider its alternatives. It may be appropriate to replace the current Station No. 7 with a new facility on Shasta Road, but the new station should be recognized for what it is in its simplest form. It is a $5 million garage with living quarters for its three man crew. Debt service costs on even $4 million at 6 percent are equivalent to funding at least two city employees. The administration should consider reducing both the size of this project and the number of city layoffs necessitated by the impending budget crisis.  

Walter Geist 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Let’s see: UC Berkeley’s campus development plan calls for “a return to open grassy spaces and a move to preserve the original buildings in the campus’s core” while the city of Berkeley seems hell-bent on the opposite: tall, dense, new buildings with no setbacks or open space and the destruction of landmark structures. But then, of course, UC is correct in assuming that the ugly new buildings, dorms, and downtown hotels it wishes to build anywhere off-campus will be welcomed by the current crop of city politicians and planners. 

I especially like their plan to replace Evans Hall with two smaller twin structures on the grounds of clearing a better view of the Golden Gate Bridge, while simultaneously planning a hotel at the west edge of the campus which would block it. 

Carol Denney 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

You know the city is badly in the red when they’re handing out $270 tickets for riding a bicycle on the sidewalk in downtown Berkeley. Luckily there are only a few Berkeley cops who are so lacking in a sense of fairness and justice to give out one of these offensive tickets (and they know who they are), and only one miserable judge who will uphold them. A word to the wise: If you get one of these tickets, either pay it right away and complain to the city council, or fight it all the way down the line, because the judge won’t reduce the fine, which is a travesty considering it costs more than a bicycle. He probably owns stock in Chevron. 

Sean McGuire 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The fact that Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) will save the city millions of dollars over the years and eliminate the need for a December runoff is a big bonus. We will be able to make our democracy stronger while at the same time saving money. How often does that happen? 

However, saving money is not the reason I am supporting Measure I. I would be perfectly willing to pay extra money to have a stronger democracy. The most important reason for supporting IRV is that it will hold our elected officials more accountable to the people who elect them. And it is irrespective of which end of the political spectrum one sits. 

A Democrat or Republican who consistently wins with 55 percent will think twice about selling out to their corporate sponsors when their first-choice votes are 30 percent and the Green or Libertarian second choices give them the extra 25 percent to win the majority. 

They will realize that a small shift to the third party could send them packing. No longer will candidates be able to take the votes of certain communities for granted. They will actually have to pay attention to their constituents. 

The problem is not that we have too many political parties, it’s that we don’t have enough. 

Yes, Measure I will save millions and that’s great, but more importantly it will bring substantive, responsive representation to our city. 

Jonathan Pilch 



Editors, Daily Planet: 

North Berkeley urgently needs a functioning fire station that is also comfortable for the firefighters who work there. But the current design has over 3,000 square feet devoted only to living space for three firefighters. 

Measure G will pay for such a building, but where is the money for upkeep and maintenance of such a structure? And where is the common sense? Just because the money is available doesn’t mean it should be squandered unnecessarily. 

Cindy Fulton  




Dear Berkeley City Council and Mayor Bates: 

Rumor has it that Mayor Bates has suggested that the city parking patrol employees that work out of the Adeline Street office be given reserved parking spots. Before this decision is made I ask that each of you please drive by our small commercial district and walk around for a while. If you do, you will notice that this area is far from being a vital and functional commercial district for the neighborhood. And that taking away 20 of the parking spaces in this area will do little to attract new businesses. In fact, it will only highlight the city’s lack of concern and respect for this neighborhood. 

Recently a new business, Spud’s Pizza, applied for a use permit to run a sit-down restaurant on Adeline and Alcatraz. They were initially turned down for not providing off-street parking, and have been forced to lease parking at a nearby location. I find this hypocritical and without good reason. Day time parking is much more congested then evening parking, and yet the city would like to take 20 of the parking spots. 

This is only one of many decisions that are made that effect our neighborhood in a negative manner. How many of you have walked down Adeline between Alcatraz and Ashby or down Sacramento between Alcatraz and Dwight in the last year. Please do—you will notice that what these commercial districts need is city policies that encourage economic development by new business that are vital to a healthy neighborhood. You are the only people with the power to turn this neighborhood around, and the only reason that it fails to be a safe enjoyable and integral part of our lives. I am certain that if the city council and mayor made it a priority to turn Southwest Berkeley around that it would be done in five years. I am also certain that their are a myriad of excuses why not.  

Karl McDade 


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 






Dear Werner Hertz, Candidate for KPFA Listener Board: 

I support you and will vote for you. I’ve been working on getting the KPFA program council to have guests on at least once a day that teach people how to impeach their president and his administration—it’s the everyday woman and man’s constitutional duty and democratic right to know. KPFA has been conducting programming on a neo-con neo-liberal, “need to know” militarized basis it seems to me—just like the mainstream press as far as actually indirectly discouraging specific and doable action that listeners can take to strengthen their democracy and, therefore, personal lives. It’s amazing the resistance that I’ve come up against at KPFA. Egos and personalities at KPFA are like deep fog banks clouding the clarity of the momentum needed to rise up against this despot, Bush. The program council is deficient currently in their commitment to teaching listeners about democratic process and the options open to them as U.S. citizens who matter—even in FCC legal indirect ways. We are not powerless as individuals or as a united group. We have been denied and need education as a group. However, KPFA current program council stands in the way of uniting those opposed to Bush policies from taking correct direct action to see that Bush is removed from office via impeachment. I’m afraid I can’t believe that KPFA staff and volunteers actually assume that the public already knows how to impeach their despotic president. It’s ridiculous to assume this and is against all my street experience. All I’ve been asking for is that someone be allowed on KPFA air several times a day as a guest who will, in about 30 seconds, describe the constitutionally encouraged process of impeachment against a clear criminal despot, Bush. Who to call: our federal representatives. What to tell this representative when we get her or him (or intern) on the phone, which is all quite simple but not known by most who want Bush out. Not a single KPFA producer has responded at all to my many dozens of reasonable, directed and very timely pleas. What are they waiting for on this most timely of matters—coordinating specific public response to erosion of our democracy? 

It’s much harder, friends from former communist Eastern Bloc countries say, to unseat a presumptuous despotic dictator than it is to prevent one in the first place. This should be obvious to KPFA producers and leadership, who one would think, could see the danger of a dictator having control of a vast military that is the largest, best-funded and most manipulative and manipulatable by a despot in the world. A lot to unseat without constitutional protections and a lot to rise up against eventual eastern-block style community informants thanks to revived provisions this year that were thought to be effectively killed last year in both the Patriot Act and Homeland Security Department discussions in Congress. Please help. Let me know your opinions on this matter.  

Sincerely yours,  

Frank Snapp