Letters to the Editor

Tuesday May 25, 2004


Editors, Daily Planet:  

I left George Lakoff’s lecture, hosted by the Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club this Friday evening devastated rather than hopeful, defeated rather than energized. While I greatly enjoyed Professor Lakoff’s talk, I experienced profound disappointment as I watched a room filled with people who pride themselves on their fairness, compassion, and empathy applaud and wave as a young man desperate in his need to be heard, was surrounded, intimidated, silenced, and finally escorted from the room. I understand that the organizers, participants, and audience (myself included) were eager to hear Dr. Lakoff, were anxious to maintain order, and knew of no other way in that moment to both receive this young man’s words with compassion and attend to their own hopes and desires. At the same time, I know that if we are to really effect change in Washington or Sacramento, we must act on our values even when things do not go as we planned. I have very little hope that the people of the United States can move in a new direction if we just speak about compassion and empathy and forget to embody it. 

Erica Grevemeyer 




Editors, Daily Planet:  

The sad fate of Reginald Zelnick, the professor who was run over by a delivery truck last week in the center of campus is a sorry indicator of the state of UC Berkeley. Once considered among the most beautiful in the nation the university is now grotesquely overbuilt and exploited for uses that are peripheral or unrelated to the mission of an institute of higher learning. The place has become a neverending commotion that is a money-sink for the construction and service industries. 

Professor Zelnick was caught up by failing to register that the grove of academe in which he gave so much real service to the community is now become a place where you cross at your own risk. 

Bruce Loeb 




Editors, Daily Planet:  

It appears that “...most councilmembers [at the May 18 City Council meeting] expressed support for decriminalizing or legalizing prostitution, yet they instead chose to send it for review to the city’s Commission on the Status of Women. (“City Council Faces Gloomy Budget,” Daily Planet, May 20-24).” 

What a cop-out! According to the city website, this commission for months has been incomplete, lacking two of a potential eight members. It now lacks only one member! Moreover, the last posted minutes of meetings date back to Feb. 4, when the entire agenda/action taken consisted of electing chair and vice chair and identifying recipients of the 15th annual Outstanding Berkeley Women award[s]—a non-feminist concept in this voter's opinion. 

Helen Wheeler 




Editors, Daily Planet:  

The downtown UC hotel project presents an opportunity of huge proportions not seen recently in Berkeley. As said before, it can be a disaster, or, as preferred, it can be a jewel in the heart of downtown Berkeley. 

The task force given the charge to make recommendations for the development of this site, at the northeastern-most corner of Shattuck and Center, has allowed for the best while avoiding the worst. A group of 25 dedicated volunteers gathered for weeks to learn from experts, and make informed and democratic decisions. Though not a member of the task force, I attended nearly all the meetings, learned and contributed and witnessed the process.  

As a resident of South Berkeley, only one BART stop away, the potential for this project is exciting. It will provide jobs for local residents, a place for visitors to stay, groups to convene and a central destination for everyone living in and visiting Berkeley. My parents, who would travel to Berkeley to visit my family several years ago, had little choice for comfortable lodging. Envisioning the recommendations made by the task force, I imagine the UC Hotel being just the right choice for generations of families to come. It’s what’s been missing in Berkeley. 

I support the task force recommendations. They cover the elements I’d want to see addressed and then some. There is room and encouragement for excellence, a focus on the positive potential. If the recommendations are followed, downtown could be transformed into a vibrant, healthy environment for pedestrians, retail business, travelers and families. I hope that the work of the task force will be taken seriously by our City Council, project developers, architects and the university.  

Marcy Greenhut 

Transportation Commission 

President, Berkeley Ecological and Safe Transportation 




Editors, Daily Planet:  

In response to Mr. Brenneman’s article on parking enforcement in Berkeley (“Wozniak Seeks Changes in Parking Enforcement,” Daily Planet, May 14-17): Perhaps if the city promoted their Epark smart cards for the single headed parking meters they could solve part of the problem. Epark cards work when meter are eating coins and not giving time on the meters. If the meter is actually broken the card will make the meter go to the fail mode. Cards are sold in increments of $10 and deduct in increment of .25 with each movement in the meter. The city has revenue up front and the user does not have to worry about a ticket due to a “broken meter” or lack of change. The Epark cards have been available for over two years. I have yet to see an article written in the Daily Planet or an ad placed by the city, which it seems to be running weekly for some city service or department. If you want a demonstration of how the Epark works and to purchase a $10 card come to Al Lasher’s Electronics, 1734 University Ave. 

Ellen Lasher 




Editors, Daily Planet:  

Projects will be tiered off the LRDP and so it is incumbent upon the community to bring forward all significant impacts now and not in some hypothetical future.  

A project near and dear to my heart is one that would urbanize a remarkably suburban residential area along Piedmont Way and on Panoramic Hill: the university’s intention to install 282 TV broadcast quality lights at Memorial Stadium. 

Please insist that the EIR describe the range of potential lighting projects: The stadium is a coliseum holding 80,000 people and cannot be fairly compared to impacts from lighting to other sports fields either on campus or off-campus. Just as a range of traffic impacts was described in this DEIR, likewise the environmental review document needs to identify the range of light impacts as a function of the range of possible lighting projects. As a policy document, this LRDP otherwise fails miserably.  

Please demand that the EIR adequately describe the city environs. For example, Memorial Stadium is adjacent to Canyon Road, and Memorial Stadium is described as part of the Campus Park, yet the DEIR does not identify Canyon Road as an “adjacent area.” Neither does the DEIR identify the Cultural Resources on Canyon Road even though according to the State Inventory of Historic Resources there are three listed houses on Canyon Road alone.  

Any project-specific review in the future will be encumbered by the document now before us. As such, it is incumbent upon us to create a public record of substantial evidence sooner rather than later. The document’s vagueness is the University administrators’ strategic advantage; local knowledge is ours.  

Janice Thomas 




Editors, Daily Planet:  

Anyone with a young soccer or baseball player in the family knows that sports recreation fields are in short supply in Berkeley. That’s why I applaud the Berkeley School Board’s decision to use its land at Derby and MLK for a multi-purpose athletic field, including a plan to accommodate the Tuesday farmers’ market.  

For our family and for dozens if not hundreds more Berkeley families this plan is a three-fer. Less driving to ball fields in Alameda and Oakland, a chance to watch the Berkeley High baseball team play on a decent field, and more opportunities to shop at the farmers’ market after games or practices. 

I urge the City Council to get behind this plan for Berkeley families and Berkeley kids. 

David Fogarty 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The UC Hotel Task Force has plenty of diversity, both in its members and the citizen groups supporting those members. The work of those people 

and the well-thought recommendations they produced are part of the good tradition of Berkeley politics. If any group was not represented, it was because they made no effort to get represented. I’m not on the task force, but I attended several meetings of a coalition of groups supporting the Task Force; we sent in a letter with our recommendations. Any group in Berkeley was free to do the same. 

Against this background, the racist outburst by one of the commissioners was particularly mean-spirited and divisive. Complaining of lack diversity 

based on a quota count is part of the bad tradition of Berkeley politics. 

The Daily Planet article (“Task Force Criticized for Lack of Diversity,” Daily Planet, May 14-17) may have become part of the bad tradition by not mentioning the long list of people and groups who spoke up at the Planning Commission meeting, supporting the task force recommendations. 

I hope the Planning Commission, after tempers have cooled, will return to the good tradition of Berkeley politics to make their recommendations to the City Council. 

Steve Gellerˇ