Letters to the Editor

Tuesday June 22, 2004


Editors, Daily Planet: 

Last Wednesday I went to a Citizens Humane Commission meeting at the North Berkeley Senior Center as a requirement for a merit badge for Boy Scouts. I was impressed by their commitment to making Berkeley a better place t o live. I learned how hard the commissioners work and how they keep in mind all the people not just the dog owners. I’m proud to live in a city where people are so dedicated to making their city a better place. 

Patrick Georgi, Troop 24  




Editors, Daily Planet: 

This weekend’s World Music Festival was a fabulous event—thanks to the organizers! We were to have gone to Mill Valley today but instead decided to stick around and I recalled something about music on Telegraph. Glad we sta ye d.  

From 11 a.m. until late in the afternoon there was exceptional music in every nook and cranny on the street. We saw Big Bones (great harp and bass) at the Durant Food Court between wafts of King Pin’s finest, The Shots (this group should perform at the Grammys or at least the Bammies or whatever it’s called now) on Telegraph and Crying High at Raleigh’s.  

At first it seemed a shame that some of these musicians had only enough space around them to accommodate 20 listeners, but as the day evolved it was clear that nobody minded, and it allowed all passers-by opportunities they otherwise might have missed. Foresightful planning! The woman who looked in charge of things was somehow everywhere at once. She did an incredible job.  

The band at Raleigh’s was tight, playing Brazilian music with a bit of music education for good measure. People could have stayed there all day listening and joining in. I had never set foot in this place before but ended up having a late lunch there—a wonderful find. 

In s um, a great afternoon—Berkeley showing off and deservedly so.  

Thanks to the organizers and all the musicians!! 

Jen Larson 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I would like to make a comment regarding your article, “Unions Continue Heated Dispute With A lta Bates Medical Center” (Daily Planet, June 11-14). The article states that, according to Local 250 President Sal Rosselli, “Alta Bates Summit has a high number of traveling employees that temporarily fill their open positions. According to a SEIU stu dy, temporary positions place financial burdens on hospitals because traveling employees are often paid more than permanent employees. Traveling employees also result in inferior care, they said, because employees don’t have the chance to form experienced teams.” As a “traveling” (registered) nurse, I am appalled and basically insulted by the implication that I give “inferior care.” Maybe “the chance of forming experience teams” is not an option because there are no “experienced teams” to join (meaning th ey lack the permanent staff.) Which leads me to wonder why Alta Bates (Summit) is unable to procure permanent employees. As for the comment that we’re “paid more than permanent employees,” this is pure hogwash. Every assignment I have had I have made less or the same as the permanent staff nurses. How do I know? Because I tell them up front what I make in order to help break the ongoing myth. If hospitals treat nurses with greater respect, pay them a reasonable wage for their knowledge, education and expe rti se, and offer them safe working conditions my position would be filled.  

Mary Willock  




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Am I in Oakland? Am I in another time when the police were openly called pigs because of their racism and railroading of Af rica n Americans and the poor? Is Ashcroft’s America seeping into Berkeley? I refer to the embarrassing to them, and revealing to us, police arrest of Berkeley residents, twin sisters, Joyce Gaskin and Joy Hall as accessories to the murder of Berkeley Pol ice O fficer Tsukamoto in 1970.  

The sisters were released from jail to a crowd of family and friends June 18 for lack of evidence, after spending four days in jail. Since the police know they must have at least a shred of evidence in even a probable cau se cha rge, not just wishful thinking, this case is pure police harassment.  

It seems the sisters were associated with the Black Panthers in 1970. That was the sole basis for plucking them from their lives, charging them with probable cause, putting them in jai l, and smearing their names. Take your choice: Racism is alive and well in Berkeley or we have a totally inept police department.  

Note to the Berkeley Police: There are many of us in Berkeley knowledgeable about what the panthers were trying to accompli sh. The name “Black Panther” doesn’t have a negative connotation to us. Radical baiting isn’t going to work.  

Upon the sisters’ release Officer Okies said that the police department will continue to thoroughly investigate this case to its conclu sion. However, there is no thoroughness to continue on with. But the police can start now.  

This deplorable incident seems to indicate that the police department isn’t under quality control. If they’re not harassing the homeless, they’re falsely arresting people.  

Who was responsible for the terrible decision to arrest the two women?  

In addition, the City of Berkeley is likely to be hit with a law suit for false arrest. That money could pay for a very conscientious senior center van driver soon to be laid off.  

At the very least, Ms. Gaskin and Ms. Hall deserve an apology from our City Council. As a citizen of Berkeley, I deserve an apology as well because my belief in Berkeley as a fair and just city just took a direct hit. 

If Berkeley wants to co ntinue being thought of as a beacon of sanity and a center of social justice issues, especially in these dangerous times, it must ensure their police department is lining up with its values. Who’s overseeing the police?  

There is one thing I’m glad about in this case: that the police didn’t have attack dogs when they went to arrest Ms. Gaskin and Ms. Hall.  

Maris Arnold  




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Matt Artz did well to get the details of the Tuesday, June 15 Berkeley Housing Authority meeting in to organized print (“Housing Authority Passes Reorganization Plan,” Daily Planet, June 18-21)! The one major omission was the departure of yet another Housing Authority commissioner who represents the public—Section 8 tenant Zelda Clark. (Clark and public housing tenant Pinky Payne, as accurately noted, represent BHA tenants on the board, which otherwise consists of the City Council.) Seated at the outskirts and without recorder buttons, it is difficult for these two to get the chair’s attention. 

At 6:30 (or whenever!) on July 20, the BHA will hold a public hearing to solicit comment on the Agency’s Annual Plan to be submitted to HUD. Copies are said to be available for prior review at the BHA office. Why not a copy at the Berkeley Public Centr al Library Reference Desk? 

Helen Rippier Wheeler 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I appreciated your editorial today (‘The Local Press Takes On the Big U,” Daily Planet, June 18-21) in which you referenced Chris Thompson’s interview with me a bout our o pposition to the high-density housing complex at Grizzly Peak Boulevard and Centennial Drive, proposed by the university in its 2020 Long-Range Development Plan. I have also thanked Mr. Thompson for the exposure as well, but, in concurrence wit h your comm entary, have disabused him of the notion that he needed to protect me from what he referred to as “that tireless group of hysterics who endlessly carp about Lawrence Berkeley Lab” (the Committee to Minimize Toxic Waste). Those of us who live d ownwind (and those winds have been clocked at my home at 70 mph) and in close proximity to the lab’s various buildings pray that the Hayward fault continues to hold and that the lab buildings housing toxics and radioactive waste are secure and well-insulated. To my t hinking, planning for the safe and unimpeded egress of our neighborhood during any kind of disaster is no exercise in hysteria. A Sanskrit saying comes to mind: “Heyam Duhkham Anagatam.” Translation: “Avert the Danger that Has Not Yet Come.”  

Andrea Pflau mer 

Summit Road/Grizzly Peak Boulevard Watch 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Leading the news last Friday was the story of the decapitation in Saudi Arabia of Mr. Johnson, a U.S. helicopter mechanic, by al Qaeda. The next day the me dia reported that two missiles killed quite a few residents of Fallujah. 

If the forces driving the violence in the Middle East represent a global contest between good and evil, as President Bush and his followers claim, then which is which, pray tell. 

A beheading is savage, repugnant and personal. A missile explosion that kills women and children is savage, repugnant and impersonal. Can anyone deny that both are evil? Jesus wept.  

Marvin Chachere 

San Pablo Èe