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Letters to the Editor

Tuesday February 03, 2004


Editors, Daily Planet: 

Gilbert Bendix, in a letter to the Daily Planet (Jan. 30-Feb. 2 edition), alleges that the Smithsonian Institution “emasculated the Enola Gay exhibit on Clark Kerr’s watch.” 

To my knowledge, Clark Kerr never had any connection with the Smithsonian during his long and distinguished life. Mr. Bendix is possibly referring to I. Michael Heyman, former chancellor at Berkeley and former secretary of the Smithsonian for a few years. If Mr. Bendix wishes to denigrate someone, he should at least get his people straight. 

Sherry Smith 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

When I came to Berkeley 17 years ago, I soon went to a city council meeting to get a feel for what was happening here. After 20 years of life in Orange County’s Fullerton, I was astounded by the difference in style. 

In Berkeley there were women on the council—even the mayor was female—and the members listened and were responsive to citizen input. Besides, it felt like the best show in town, with individual citizens shouting rudely from their seats, groups chanting slogans and folks wearing costumes and carrying picket signs. 

In Fullerton, strict decorum was maintained. Any of the aforementioned behavior would have led to immediate banishment. The councilpersons—all male for many years—filed in punctually, wearing three-piece suits and a stony expression. Meetings always started with both a Christian benediction and the Pledge of Allegiance. Although residents did have the opportunity to make statements, we all knew that the council had already reached a decision and sat through citizen participation because it was mandatory. Meetings rarely went past 10 p.m. 

Having experienced both ends of the spectrum, I much prefer the Berkeley spirit, but I wish a couple of changes could be made: (1) Let’s not turn the meeting into a circus. Save the show for street theater where it belongs. (2) During open mike, please limit the number of speakers per issue to two speakers who will not repeat each other. This will allow time to cover additional issues. In this period of budget-cutting, we need to provide first-hand information that would be helpful to the council and staff in making decisions. 

Rhoda Levinson 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

It is now about one month since I wrote about the broken glass gracing the sidewalk of Bancroft Way just west of Shattuck Avenue. At the time I wrote an opinion piece mentioning it (“Berkeley Officialdom Ignores an Impending Danger,” Daily Planet, Jan. 2-5) the broken glass had been there for more than three months without the city having done anything to clean it up. There are now, I am told, 49 separate city commissions. I suggest we set up a fiftieth (it’s a round number) to study the problem of the broken glass on the sidewalk. Then hire a couple of $100,000-a-year consultants to advise what to do. On second thought, I take it back. They might decide to bestow official landmark status on the broken glass. 

Paul Glusman 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

As a 20-year resident of Central Berkeley, I feel compelled to respond to the commentary “Architectural Surprises Await in the ‘Flatlands’” by John Kenyon (Daily Planet, Jan. 27-29). The article attempts ‘architectural criticism’ but fails because it only shows the bias of the author’s perspective. Kenyon seems shocked to find examples of architecture worthy of his attention in the ‘visual limbo’ of the flatlands. Kenyon states: “Apart from a handful of surviving Victorians in Oceanview, the original water-based settlement is an uneventful mix of modest bungalows ranging from ‘Sub Craftsman’ to ‘Plebian Ranch,’ and made bearable here and there by surviving old trees and the city’s generous street-tree program.” Furthermore, “The busy traffic grid with its sea of humble dwellings on identical lots, seems boring if not ugly, and hardly gets a mention in architectural guidebooks.” Please, give me a break!. The examples he gives of encouraging trends are mostly post-industrial remodels which may fit his avant garde tastes, but which often do not fit the character of a neighborhood, and end up looking prematurely dated, and—dare I say it—ugly, over time. He salutes the “freedom from the sort of ‘contextualism’ that is, all to often, timid conformity to the prevailing neighborhood look.” One person’s ‘freedom from contextualism’ is another person’s sore thumb. 

Doug Smith 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

In response to John Crockett of BUSD grounds crew’s letter (Daily Planet, Jan. 30-Feb. 2), my comments about the flooding at Malcolm X had nothing to do with whether you can or cannot rake leaves. Maybe this has less to do with ability than how the grounds crew is utilized. At UC, during the winter, the primary job of the grounds crew is clearing leaves and pruning. And a cursory look at the UC campus is evidence of this effort.  

Two days after the newspaper article on the Malcolm X flood, I walked the perimeter of Willard, and the back of Willard was full of leaves, with a huge pile over the rear drain by the cafeteria back door. The scraggly bushes along the east and north fence of the ball field look no different than they did 12 years ago, and I have photos to show.  

Crockett refers to the new lawns at Cragmont and King. From my knowledge, lawns aren’t mowed much in winter. They certainly don’t need watering. I apologize if it’s not apparent what the grounds crew does during the winter. So what is the grounds crew doing in the winter? How is our tax money being spent?  

Yolanda Huang 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

For a quarter of a century the city of Berkeley has strongly advised motorists to use Telegraph Avenue and the 24 Freeway from/to the Caldecott Tunnel, the Warren Freeway, the Bay Bridge, and the Nimitz Freeway. This was done to relieve traffic pressures on College Avenue and in the Warring-Derby-Belrose corridor. The proposed rapid bus service would not be “more appealing” to any of these motorists; it does not reach any of their widely scattered and far-away destinations. If Telegraph Avenue is downsized....? Enough said? 

Wolfgang Homburger 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

I was very happy to see the issue of textbook price gouging being brought up in the article, “Study Hits Textbook Prices” (Daily Planet, Jan. 30-Feb. 2). This is an issue that affects the entire nation each year as parents and students are taxed with the great burden of paying outrageous prices for textbooks on top of the already high cost of college tuition. 

When I went to the student store, here at UC Berkeley, looking for my calculus textbook, I was shocked and frustrated that the only books available were brand new textbooks that cost over $100! There were no used books available, as the company had just released a new edition which I was forced to buy complete with a CD-ROM that I never even need or use. 

After reading your article I compared this new edition to a friend’s copy of the old one and quickly came to the conclusion that they were exact replicas. The idea that sales representatives intentionally deceive professors into ordering books at an increased cost in order to maximize their profits angers me even more. Publishing companies should take responsibility for their blatant exploitation of students and change their practices immediately! 

Liya Gendler 

UC Berkeley student 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I was thrilled to read that a group has finally stood up and expressed what most of us students want to yell out during the first weeks of each semester: “Textbooks are just too expensive!!” This year I’ve spent well over $700 on books. The cost of textbooks combined with the increasing tuition fees and other expenses that students must deal with every year makes us feel overwhelmed. I’m glad to hear that there is a solution to this problem. As CALPIRG reported, there is a lot that the publisher can do to lower the price of books. By eliminating the practice of bundling textbooks, and letting editions stay on shelves longer, books become more affordable to students like me. I’m glad that the students are becoming aware of the gimmicks used by the publishing companies, and hopefully the textbook companies will reconsider their pricing practices. 

Cynthia Lopez 

UC Berkeley Student 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Gov. Schwarzenegger now proposes to cut money for education. That would reduce the quality of education for thousands of California students. It would raise costs substantially for others. And it would close the door entirely for thousands more. 

But that is not all. He then proposes to issue $l5 billion in bonds. And who would pay them off? A big hunk would be paid by the very same children whose education he now proposes to underfund. 

All because the governor refuses to raise taxes on the wealthy and to stop wasteful spending. He could save billions by releasing non violent offenders from prison and laying off some high paid prison guards. And he could stop the wasteful spending in Sacramento that Candidate Arnold promised to uncover. 

Which will he do? Will he be a statesman and raise taxes on the rich? Or will he give our children the double whammy. If he does that, he will go down in history as the governor who left no child unharmed. 

Karl M. Ruppenthal 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

In my letter published in your Jan. 30 edition, I asked for Michael Rossman’s credential’s justifying publication of his castigation of Clark Kerr. Consequently, I have learned that he was an odd, but admired, teacher of my granddaughter at the Ecole Bilangue and that, as a student, he had been an agitator in the Free Speech Movement of the 1960s. His diatribe was, I believe, based on his assumed role that Kerr played at the student sit-in in Sproul Hall. 

At the time of the sit-in, Ed Strong, the vice-chancellor, served as the campus executive while Kerr was out of town. Strong asked the various deans for advice on how to deal with all the students occupying Sproul Hall. As an assistant dean, I sat in on a meeting held to arrive at a recommendation: allow students to remain there for a time or remove them by force. We recommended against force, but Strong decided to call in the police. His action led to dire consequences: the National Guard helicopter spraying tear gas, etc., and to Kerr’s dismissal by Ronald Reagan—an act which probably contributed to Reagan’s election to the presidency. 

Karl Kasten 

Professor Emeritus