Letters to the Editor

Friday August 20, 2004


Editors, Daily Planet: 

My family moved to West Berkeley three years ago. In that time we have yet to see a single traffic stop along San Pablo by a Berkeley police officer. We have to cross San Pablo as drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians daily and put our lives in danger by doing so. My 5-year-old daughter and I were nearly struck at a San Pablo crosswalk by a woman speeding while on her cell phone. By avoiding us she rear-ended another vehicle that had stopped for us. This is one example of many that we encounter as heavily taxed citizens of Berkeley. In my 20 years of driving in California (including Los Angeles and a number of congested cities in Orange County) I have never witnessed such disregard of the law by drivers and complete absence of police traffic enforcement (which go hand in hand). If this is a question of a budget and staff resources than why not generate those much needed resources by issuing traffic tickets to the countless violators that abuse the law? 

Kit Smith  




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Womens International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), with Jane Addams as its first president, was founded in 1915—while WW-I was raging—by women from the warring countries who were determined to seek a better way than war and violence to resolve conflicts. We are still doing so today. An international organization, WILPF has sections in 36 countries around the world, including Israel, Palestine and Lebanon in the Middle East. 

To assure the safety and survival of both Israel and Palestine, solutions are required which meet the needs of both peoples. We reject the narrow view of an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth which is often the justification for continued warfare. We are convinced that people now in conflict can come together to make peace. 

Just two weeks ago, women from Israel, Palestine and Lebanon and 28 other countries met in Sweden to work together for non-violent solutions in the Middle East and elsewhere. We long have actively promoted non-proliferation of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, negotiations between peoples to bring peace to the area, and now are working to prevent the privatization of water. 

WILPF is concerned about both Israel’s and Palestine’s safety and survival in the Middle East. As our Israeli sisters said to us in Sweden, current Israeli policies such as “targeted assassinations,” mistreatment of Palestinians at checkpoints, building the security wall so that it divides people from their land, jobs and medical care will not prevent attacks on Israelis. They only create the conditions for more violence and greater danger to Israel’s security. A different way is possible. 

Dolores Taller 

Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, East Bay Branch 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Dona Spring in her effort to express her support for Berkeley City Council candidate Jesse Townley, compared the candidate to the late President John F. Kennedy, and expressed the belief that both had “that hope of the future” (“Green Council Candidate Courts Left-Out Voters,” Daily Planet, Aug. 17-19). 

I would remind Ms. Spring that President Kennedy, when he was a senator, was absent from the Senate floor and did not vote for the censure of Senator Joe McCarthy. As president, Mr. Kennedy supported right-wing dictatorships in Latin America. He urged civil rights leaders to call off a major march in Washington, D.C., in support of the civil rights movement in the 1960’s. He also supported secret plans for war in Vietnam, according to the Pentagon Papers. 

If Ms. Spring believes that her candidate has a “hope of the future” consistent with the conservative policies of President Kennedy, I urge voters to reject her candidate. 

Lenora Young 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The headline “Pro-Tenant Candidates Dominate Rent Board Field” (Daily Planet, Aug. 17-19) irked me just a little, not because I have an aversion to rent control abuses, but rather because a rent board commissioner, I think, is supposed to interpret the law, whether it favors a landlord or a tenant. Walking into a job favoring one side, and advertising it, seems like they should be called lobbyists, not commissioners. Furthermore, in case no one has noticed, the old law of supply and demand has started to really favor tenants lately. There are more “For Rent” sign in this town than ever before. The market speaks in different ways, and thanks to a few ambitious developers, and the university, we probably have more housing than we need in Berkeley, which means rents will drop. I think we all can agree that there are good and bad landlords, and good and bad tenants. What I hope, in my idealistic fantasy, (hey, I was born in Berkeley, after all) is that the new commissioners administer the law fairly for both sides. 

Tim Cannon 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Dan Spitzer’s latest letter (Daily Planet, Aug. 13-16) contained his predictable gloating over the recent San Francisco Chronicle staffers let go. The thing the three different writers had in common was that they dared to challenge certain policies of the State of Israel, which by the way are underwritten by the American taxpayer. Even though the Palestine conflict was not the prime subject matter of the dismissed writers, any dissent from the AIPAC party line is verboten to the totalitarian mentality represented by people like Spitzer. There is no crime, no outrage that their “Holy State” could commit that they would not apologize for. They are eerily like the old Communist apologists for Stalin and Mao. And in some cases they are the same people ! If this ruffles a few old Left feathers in Berkeley tough. 

The apologists for the criminal policies of Israel and the U.S. are always happy to see dissenting voices silenced. Maybe the BDP should return the favor and spare us any future letters from Spitzer. 

Michael P. Hardesty 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Concerns have been raised about the work going on in and around the Willard Middle School garden which is part of the site-wide beautification work being done this summer. The work was approved by a site committee and the School Board.  

There are two main purposes to the work along Telegraph Avenue. 

One is to create wheel-chair accessible paths through the garden, so that all children may appreciate the garden, and also follow state law. Given that there were no paths previous to this, some plants needed to be removed, but the path of the path was decided with input from the school community. Some plants were saved also at the request of parent volunteers. 

The second part of the project is to improve the entrance from the Telegraph Avenue to reduce traffic flow through the neighborhood streets such as Stuart Street. The entrance into the site is being widened and the chain link fence is being replaced by something much more pleasing to the eye. The goal is to have more parents use the drop-off zone on Telegraph Avenue. 

Work in the garden will proceed without use of a tractor until we are sure there will be no damage to plants or the garden. 

Mark Coplan  

Public Information Officer 

Berkeley Unified School District 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

One thing I found puzzling about Sarah Norr’s piece in your Aug. 10 issue (“SF Chronicle Cracks Down on Liberal Staffers”) is her failure to mention the union. Why haven’t Rosen, Norr, Pates et al. filed grievances? If they sought union help and were denied they ought to file a joint NRLB complaint against the union, their legally certified representative, for failure to represent them. It would be a great way to expose the Chronicle and, if necessary, the union.  

Ernie Haberkerny