Letters to the Editor

Friday July 23, 2004


Editors, Daily Planet: 

Please tell Mr. Brenneman that he also has readers who thoroughly enjoy his style of writing in the Police Blotter. I do not believe it is offensive to the victims, who all remain anonymous, if certain whimsical remarks are made about the perpetrators. 

A. Giorgi 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

Martha Stewart has suffered more than Jesus. Mel Gibson should do a movie about Her. We should pray to Mel that He do this movie.  

Richard List 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

It is unseemly for the City of Berkeley to only now tackle the problem of its creeks and waterways. After 20 years of telling residents that there was nothing to fear from dikes and culverts under houses and civic structures we suddenly get a complete about-face from the city. Berkeley should cease the consideration of building an open creek in the city center, it will only turn into an open sewer. The city must seek the expert advice of the Army Corps of Engineers. This federal group has more experience dealing with flooding and sink holes than any other group in the U.S. More importantly, the destruction of culverts and pipes holding in creeks will bring about the swamping and sink-holing that is usually only seen in areas with heavy rainfall and large floodplains. Berkeley must identify its problem areas, especially in North Berkeley, and seek answers from the U.S. Department of the Interior and the Corps of Engineers. Else we will all face a coming deluge together.  

John Parman  



Editors, Daily Planet: 

So, the shrouds covering the Gaia Building are because of leaks and molds? I am sorely disappointed. Here I was taking visitors downtown and pointing it out as a new Christo project enlivening our Arts and Commerce District. 

Paul Glusman 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

UC Berkeley’s Doe and Moffitt libraries, which are the main library facilities on the campus, have recently restricted California residents’ access to the library stacks, where books are stored. 

Prior to this change, members of the public who were California residents could obtain a stack pass, good for about four months, and renew it indefinitely. The pass allowed patrons to enter the stacks on showing the card to an attendant, and read but not check out materials. Up to the present I have made good use of this privilege, holding a series of stack passes for over a year.  

Under the new procedures, the California citizen can only obtain a monthly pass, renew it once, and then must pay $100 to obtain a yearly library card, which includes check-out privileges. Moffit Library is included in the new policy as it connects directly to the Doe stacks. Other campus libraries do not restrict access to their respective stacks. 

I believe all California residents, and that includes Berkeley residents, who pay taxes to support University of California libraries should continue to be allowed free access to the stacks by means of stack passes, upon periodically presenting identification verifying their current California residency. Above all, residents’ access should not be based on a two-tier system under which privileged residents can buy their way in, while poorer residents are barred due to the stiff fee; all residents are at some time California taxpayers. 

An e-mail recently sent to the Director of Doe Library, Patricia Iannuzzi, requesting an explanation for the change produced only a response restating the policy, without acknowledging or explaining the change in procedure.  

The new fee could hardly be supposed to be a revenue generator, since the number of public patrons is likely small enough that revenue from such a fee would be negligible. If the argument is security, then simply buying one’s way in is hardly a secure procedure. 

The director of the Doe Library, Patricia Iannuzzi, can be reached through e-mail at piannuzz@library.berkeley.edu. If you are a California resident, and especially a Berkeley or Oakland resident, who thinks your tax dollars should gain you library privileges to the main UC-California library, perhaps you should contact Ms. Iannuzzi expressing that concern. 

Lowell Moorcroft 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

Becky O’Malley’s editorial on the Israeli wall construction cartoon brought up some interesting questions, like “Why do so many Americans, and people in Berkeley in particular, care about Israel?” Because Israel is on the forefront of some many crucial issues, and in many ways, is a test case for the future of western democracy and the socialist state. Israel depends and depended to a great extent on socialist idealists who set up network of kibbutzim which dot the country. These are collectives which many of us raised in the spirit of the left aspire to and hold in high esteem. Israel itself can be considered a socialist country. My numbers may be off, but I believe up to approximately 10 years ago, some 70 percent of the economy was owned by government controlled industry. Privatization is taking its toll there too, however. Health care and education are still free. Also, the country has a very high literacy rate and produces an amazing number of scientists.  

This is the kind of place a lot us would like to live in if it weren’t for the violence. So we are angry because that one glimmer of hope is fading, and we are striking back, blaming Israel, now the bully, the well-armed helicopter-flying tank-driving military machine picking on the Palestinians. Once the underdog, Israel is now the top dog, at least militarily. But the reality is that the Israelis can not bring peace to the Middle East. They don’t have the resources, either economical or political. Arms dealers from around the world are making billions selling weapons to all those involved. Most of the 6.5 billion the U.S. gives to Israel is spent on arms, which prompts all the other countries in the neighborhood to make similar expenditures. Then all that equipment has to be kept up, people trained to use it, and on and on. The Middle East is a cash cow. Only disarmament will free enough resources to end the violence. Meanwhile, we hold Israel to a very high standard.  

Daily on our local left radio station we hear the atrocities committed by the IDF; the houses destroyed, the wall, shootings, and assassinations. Who are we to criticize? The U.S. has an annual military budget of 400 billion dollars. The U.S. is the largest arms exporter in the world. The U.S. has killed thousands of innocent civilians in the “war on terrorism,” killed half a million children as a result of the Iraqi sanctions. Maybe we see a lot of ourselves in Israel, we see our own failings, we feel guilty because we are living the life of luxury at the expense of our socialist dreams.  

Andy Hicks  





Editors, Daily Planet: 

The new University Avenue zoning regulations illustrate the city’s lack of vision. The strategic plan approved in 1996 should be scrapped, not implemented. The city and the entire Bay Area desperately need additional housing of all kinds because of the continued rapid pace of household formation fueled by immigration, maturing of the population, and economic growth. 

Reportedly, the region needs 300,000 units per year to keep up with projected growth, yet only 100,000 units per year are being built. That is the reason that one-bedroom condos now start at $300,000 and bungalows start at $500,000. If we don’t want unlimited sprawl or unlimited prices, the only alternative is to build in-fill housing. 

Everyone knows this, yet local politicians responding to pressure from entrenched homeowners (like me) won’t allow it. But if not on University Avenue, then where? To be fair, Oakland is equally myopic in blocking development around the 19th Street BART station. Even before the planned reductions, the reported current and projected numbers for University Avenue are trivial compared to the need. Five projects totaling 391 units on a two-mile stretch of a four-lane boulevard hardly qualify as “fast and furious” development. 

As for the alleged need for more retail space or “pocket” lots in the plan, am I the only person who notices the proliferation of empty storefronts on both University Avenue and Shattuck Avenue and draws the conclusion that more population is needed in those areas? Granted that wide sidewalks in certain places would be a welcome addition to the plan, the notion of more generous setbacks along the entire length of the avenue is nonsense if we want vibrant city life to ever take root there. 

University Avenue cannot hope to compete with Fourth Street. The only hope for retail in this area is sufficient population density that businesses can survive by catering to the needs of the neighborhood. This requires that the number of units be increased, not further reduced from the number allowed by existing regulations and state law. 

Robert Denham 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I was reading one of your esteemed competitors the Hearst Corp. Chronicle Saturday edition and they were praising the Weston Haven House in the Berkeley Hills and in fact they compared it to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Falling Water. I couldn’t help but notice it was dark and angular with no pink, beige, gray, or pastel stucco and is decidedly masculine. It was a bachelor house built for one the founding families of Berkeley, the last surviving member of the Francis Kittredge Shattuck family.  

I assert that today that building would have had a difficult time being built because it isn’t politically correct. Nuff said. 

I also believe that there are some folks whose brains and sensibility fly out the window when it comes to the Bush family whose success has overshadowed even the Kennedy supposed Royal family of the United States. My family go back with the Bushes and when you step out of line with absurd comparisons, if I am able to get to it I will call you on it. 

Steve Pardee 




Editors Daily Planet: 

Much has been written about a president’s interest in his legacy. As President Bush gave his radio address July 10 demanding a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, the unforgettable image of another politician popped into my mind. 

I saw George Wallace in the doorway of the University of Alabama making his infamous stand against equal rights for blacks. Despite the popularity of his move at the time and despite the fact that he later renounced bigotry, this is the image with which he will always be associated. 

In 30 years, I wouldn’t be surprised if Bush is best remembered as the man who tried to alter the Constitution to discriminate against gays. Is this the type of legacy he really wants? 

Ron Hoover 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I cracked up when I read Michael Fullerton’s letter (Daily Planet, July 2-5) where he complains about all the “Big Ugly Buildings” sprouting up everywhere in Berkeley these days, and suggests a “one-year moratorium” on building any more of these. Michael, the Big Ugly Buildings are just the symptom. The cause is our insane level of mass immigration, which is at a level unprecedented in human history (there may be a very obvious reason why no nation has thought to do this before). We’re adding over a million new people to the California population every year, almost entirely because of our insane level of mass immigration. Until we address that, the Big Ugly Buildings are going to continue to go up, and up and UP! 

Peter Labriola 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The problem with life is that folks forget what they used to do. Reinventing society! Take today: I saw a woman with a sidewalk bed. Sunburned on the face and somebody’s granny. In the olden days they would put a piggy bank in front of City Hall to be plugged by all and this could be: A community service worker could put that woman in a single room hotel with dinner and check back in the morning. What I would like to suggest is a way to remove violence from the workplace. Once a person is fired they spend their two weeks notice with the city picking up refuse on the highway or in a prison/jail literacy program where they tutor the inmates. The key here is you remove them from where they think they got a raw deal—and plant themselves and put them in neutral territory. If they belong to a church, let them do clean-up on that property. 

Louise Holmes