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Letters to the Editor

Friday February 27, 2004


Editors, Daily Planet: 

Thank you for giving generous space to outstanding questions regarding the future of the historic Blood House. I regret failing to acknowledge the contributions made by Daniella Thompson to the opinion piece under my name. 

Lesley Emmington Jones 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Proposition 56 is the beginning of real reform of state budget making. The state budget has been late 17 of the last 25 years while special loopholes or expenditures are included to buy the hold-out votes needed to reach a two-thirds majority. We cannot afford being held hostage by a minority. 

Since Prop. 13, the state has exercised control over local revenues. When the budget is late every local government and agency is also in limbo, often handing out pink slips while they try to guess what resources will return to them from the state. We cannot afford this uncertainty at all levels of government. 

Prop. 56 will move us towards majority rule and focus legislators completing the budget before the deadline (or no pay). Prop. 56 will provide for building up five percent reserves during times of surplus. Prop. 56 gives voters access to information on state expenditures and voting records at election time and discourages partisan intimidation of centrist legislators. 

Prop. 56 is a reform assembled with care by organizations interested in good government, not a last minute Band-Aid. Proposition 56 deserves our vote.  

Eva Alexis, President,  

League of Women Voters of the Bay Area 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Howard Dean has re-energized the Democratic party by revolutionizing fundraising, starting the process of meaningfully criticizing the president, and bringing in hordes of passionate citizens new to the political process. After his recent withdrawal from the race, Dean’s supporters may be looking for a new candidate to carry on their cause. That candidate is Sen. John Edwards. 

Senator Edwards opposed NAFTA (which Sen. Kerry voted for) and is strongly pro-union. Like Dean, he regularly talks about ending poverty, having health care for all children, creating new jobs in the bleeding manufacturing sector, and healing racial divides. And very much unlike Dean, Sen. Edwards’ main rival John Kerry has taken more money from lobbyists than anyone else in the Senate during the past 15 years. The Nation magazine gave many more reasons why “Progressives Should Vote Edwards” in a recent article. 

For most progressives, this election is about defeating George Bush. Exit polls from the open primaries so far show that Edwards has a strong lead over Sen. Kerry amongst Independents and conservative-leaning voters, and those who chose their candidate based on the issues. This means he will be the most electable candidate against Bush in the swing states in the Midwest and South. Perhaps this is why most of the Cal Berkeley Democrats who previously followed Dean now support Edwards, and why Dean himself said recently that Sen. Edwards was a stronger candidate than Sen. Kerry. On March 2, the real test of electability will lie with the voters of California. 

Samit Dasgupta 

UC Berkeley Students for Edwards 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Back in the July 8-10, 2003 edition of the Berkeley Daily Planet you published my letter regarding how “the City of Berkeley has treated our West Berkeley neighborhood irresponsibly, leaving us seriously jeopardized in a number of respects—including the fact that “there are no stop signs or crosswalks for us to access Strawberry Creek Park from the south side of Bancroft Way— we are forced to wait or stop traffic ourselves in order to cross the street.” This letter represented the tip of the iceberg in terms of my numerous complaints to the City of Berkeley, pleas that consistently fell on deaf ears. 

My complaints to the city pointed out there are several blocks on Bancroft Way between Acton Street and Browning Street without stop signs or crosswalks: Trucks and cars use this stretch at speeds totally unacceptable in a residential neighborhood. There is no safe crossing from the Berkeley Youth Alternatives Organic Garden to the Strawberry Creek recreation area on the opposite side of the street, putting us and our three children in jeopardy on an almost daily basis. I consider it imperative to install stop signs and crosswalks, especially at West Street and Bancroft Way, and also at Bonar Street and Bancroft Way. 

What if the city had responsibly addressed this issue of unsafe traffic conditions in a residential and recreational neighborhood? What if the city had not been negligent, in other words? Perhaps the tragic death of Miguel Caicedo could have been prevented. 

Muni Schweig  




Editors, Daily Planet: 

About 20 years ago we asked that the stop sign at Acton Street and Allston Way be changed from two-way to four-way, citing many minor accidents and near misses. A city staffer told us there were “too few accidents to justify our request.” Many years later, a city employee was injured when his city vehicle was broadsided at the intersection. We finally got the stop sign. 

We, the Corporation Yard Neighbors, requested a stop sign at “Bancroft/West/Strawberry Creek entrance” in a list of mitigations we asked for in July, 2003. From the long list, so far we have seen only one item done: planting of trees along Allston Way city employee parking lot.  

Bancroft Way has no stop signs for a three-block length between Acton and Browning streets. Perhaps after this tragic accident someone will believe our contention that Bancroft Way and Allston Way are dangerous. 

Toni Horodysky 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

One split second and the lives of two families are devastated. One family loses a son and another man bears the heavy burden of having been the driver of the vehicle. Could this awful accident have been avoided?  

As reported in your Feb. 24-26 issue, Miguel Caicedo was hit and killed Friday, Feb. 20 on Bancroft Way as he came out of the exit from Strawberry Creek Park. The residents of this neighborhood have been begging the City of Berkeley to install a stop sign along this stretch of road, specifically at Bancroft Way and West Street. I live at that intersection. I hear cars zooming down the street all the time. It is so bad that, when I am outside, I sometimes yell at drivers to slow down. Even if the driver who hit Miguel was not speeding, had there been a stop sign, perhaps he would have been going slowly enough and had enough reaction time to avoid the accident.  

Now that someone has died, will the City of Berkeley please install a stop sign at Bancroft Way and West Street? 

Patricia Jones 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I read the article about the go-cart accident and it seems to miss the obvious. 

A few of the bystanders who are residents told me that the kid(s) had been driving the go-cart on the streets for a while (not just the day of the accident), and that the police had been present and not said anything about it. I do think the officers who saw kids operating a go-cart on the street should have stopped them. Go-carts are not street-legal. I was walking my dog at the park that day and I saw a kid driving a go-cart around on the streets and thought it extremely dangerous. A few minutes later I heard the accident and thought, “I hope that wasn’t the kid.” It was. 

If the police had stopped the go-cart activity they could have saved a life—something for the common good. 

Whether of not the police have been harassing the teens seems a separate issue, albeit important. The amount of court time spent on obstruction of justice and resisting arrest charges, and the obvious waste of shrinking revenue, is a travesty deserving of its own story. 

Georgette Wrigley 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Stuart Cohen’s Feb. 20 letter (responding to my earlier commentary) mischaracterizes who supports and opposes regional Measure 2, the March 2 ballot proposal to raise bridge tolls to $3. 

Opponents include many environmentalists dismayed by the measure’s wasteful and, in some respects, destructive expenditure plan. A prominent example is San Francisco BART director Tom Radulovich, who may be the BART board’s “greenest” voice. 

Measure 2’s real advocate is its author, State Senator Don Perata. Perata has long sought to subsidize costly and polluting diesel ferries, as advocated by a key backer of his—whose core business happens to be developing major waterfront properties. This is why Measure 2 would waste fully 21 percent of its (our) funds on those wasteful ferries, whose few riders should pay their full costs. 

The Yes on 2 campaign is as tainted as the measure itself. The San Francisco Chronicle reported in two recent front-page articles (Feb. 17 and 19) how Perata has earmarked $22,000 in Yes on 2 donations—and $291,000 in donations to other Perata initiatives, many from large corporate donors—for an old friend of his. Perata’s friend has, in turn, paid Perata some $100,000 a year in “consulting fees.” This closed-circle arrangement looks enough like influence peddling that the state Senate is conducting an ethics investigation of Perata. 

Then there’s the unwelcome Caldecott Tunnel fourth bore, toward which Measure 2 allocates $50 million. Stuart (like Chris Douglas’ Feb. 24 letter) downplays its impact. But a widened tunnel would encourage more East County commuters to abandon BART and instead drive to Berkeley. That would surely mean more cars on our streets—particularly on already choked access corridors like Tunnel Road, Ashby Avenue, and College Avenue. 

I’m disappointed that my old friend Stuart Cohen has chosen to make deals with perhaps the sleaziest legislator in Sacramento. While Stuart has certainly negotiated some good projects into Measure 2, he now feels obligated to defend a rotten overall package. 

Voters, however, are free to strike a blow for clean, transparent government by rejecting Measure 2. There’s no environmental downside to this. Regional officials can always enact a better toll-hike measure—or better still, propose a regional gas tax—that funds real transit needs, with no 21 percent ferry commission off the top for Perata and his ferry godfather. 

Michael Katz