Letters to the Editor

Tuesday August 17, 2004


Editors, Daily Planet: 

Terry Cochrell (Letters, Daily Planet, Aug. 13-16), attempting to cast Maudelle Shirek’s failure to submit enough signatures to appear on the ballot in a sinister light, describes the change in nomination procedures for City Council races as “sneaky legislation.” 

On Nov. 11, 2003, Ms. Shirek voted with the City Council majority to place Measure J on the March 2004 primary ballot. The summary that appeared on the ballot began, “Shall the Charter of the City of Berkeley be amended to require that candidates for council office be nominated by voters registered in the applicable council district ...” and 62 percent of Berkeley voters said “yes.” Can legislation get less sneaky than that? 

Robert Lauriston 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I hate to sound like William Safire, but Jaqueline DeBose misuses the language with her phrases “gentrified left wing conspiracy” and “the gentrified left” (“Signature Snafu Knocks Councilmember Shirek Off November Ballot,” Daily Planet, Aug. 10-12). Since gentry refers to a class of people, in the current and local context home owners, the adjective “gentrified” refers to places impacted, changed, or improved by the gentry such as streets and neighborhoods. A conspiracy cannot be gentrified, nor can the left and its wing. “Berkeley’s left-wing gentry” would be the proper term, and not one of abuse, we would hope. 

Toni Mester 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The Berkeley Unified School District has hired contractors to do work in the beautiful flower beds of Willard. The work was to be on the edges of the garden, but the contractor is using a large John Deere tractor, driving around in the garden beds, killing all the flowers and plants in its way, pulling out plants. The tractor is driving across the roots of trees, imperiling the survivial of the trees. The heavy tractor is compacting the soil—which has taken 12 years to build. Another week of this and the garden will be destroyed. Half of it has already been reduced to bare dirt and dust. And sadly, it’s our tax dollars which is being spent to do this. 

The north plot is basically emptied out. There’s a row of roses in the front, and a few trees, but it’s barren behind it all. Stop by and look—it’s horrible. 

Please call and ask BUSD to stop this destruction. Ask them to get that tractor out of the garden! 

Yolanda Huang  




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I would like to expand briefly on a comment made by Professors Gutierrez and Altieri (“Reflections on Berkeley-Novartis Report,” Daily Planet, Aug.10-12). Invasive pest species cause hundreds of millions in losses in California alone. It turns out that over 100 exotic species enter the United States each year. Many fail to establish, but at least three or four find suitable homes and multiply to pest levels—many serious. (Take weeds for example: Approximately one-half of the major weeds in the U.S. were introduced from other lands.)  

This ongoing influx of foreign pests would be formidable if it weren’t for the fact that most have co-evolved natural enemies that hold them in balance in their native areas. Biological control practitioners search out these natural enemies, test them for safety of release, and then place them in areas where their hosts have become pests. This is a familiar story to many of your readers, but often overlooked is the fact that nature provides this pest control service free. This is the type of public service that UC Berkeley excelled at its Gill Tract location (corner, Marin and San Pablo Avenues) from the mid 1940’s until recent years. The balance sheet on these efforts is measured annually in multi-millions of dollars in pest control savings to the California public both directly (farmers) and indirectly (less pesticide pollution). Although these organisms are not be sold for profit, they enhance California’s bottom line. 

As you might guess, these natural enemies are a key element in integrated pest management efforts, so critical to the sustainable food production programs we hear so much about.  

Lloyd Andres 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

Apparently readers who find the Police Blotter insensitive have one point, Richard Brenneman sometimes makes light of serious street crime. Maybe he will take a hint from one of the finest editors working in the U.S. today, Kevin L. Hoover of the Arcata Eye, who writes the police log with his sensitivities intact. 

Hank Chapot