Letters to the Editor

Friday October 08, 2004


Editors, Daily Planet:  

The anecdotal observations regarding one officer’s rude treatment of a citizen are scandalous considering the larger picture of a police department now secure from even the most ineffectual scolding (a “sustained complaint”) from the Police Review Commission by the institution of a secret tribunal which reverses any decision against them (Daily Planet’s Caloca coverage). 

The officer in question is the same officer who, in response to my public records request in 2000, was revealed as the officer who used pepper spray more often than any other officer in the department, and used it only on black males, a story highlighted in Paul Rauber’s own “Sticks and Stones” column. 

The lesson here is that anecdotal evidence is just that, a piece of the story. I’m glad that Officer Marangoni is getting along well with some of the residents inside what was known briefly as “the pepper spray triangle.” But we all should be appalled that Berkeley’s Police Review Commission, established by charter more than 30 years ago, has been nullified. 

The police department has no excuse for rudeness, but also no excuse for the secrecy in which it insists on conducting its reversals of Police Review decisions while simultaneously requesting cooperation from the citizens of Berkeley. 

Carol Denney MSL 




Editors, Daily Planet:  

Non-profit organizations like the Cal Sailing Club (CSC) would be unfairly affected by the city’s proposed fee increase. I am a new member of CSC and I am very happy that the rate is so affordable, especially for young people like me who barely have enough money to get by. More people, especially low-income, at-risk youth should have the opportunity to afford sailing instruction at the CSC. Would it be impossible for the City of Berkeley to exempt CSC from the higher fees? 

Kingman Lim 




Editors, Daily Planet:  

As a Cal Sailing Club member-instructor, my 14’ Lido was the scene of my acquaintance with Mario Savio. Savio and his girlfriend had come down to the dock for a free sailing lesson. 

The non-profit cooperative is the only very low-cost sailing school on the only municipally owned-and-operated marina, on the largest estuary on the west coast, the San Francisco Bay. 

Market rent will kill the non-profit coop and end its mission of teaching the ancient art of sailing and providing bay access to one hundred thousand people. Formally a UC student activity, C.S.C. spun off from university aegis in the late seventies, along with the Daily Cal and other student activities. As Jane Morson pointed out, C.S.C. gets no tax dollars nor university support. 

Coop members sail and instruct on a fleet of Lidos, Lasers, 22’ Ensigns, and windsurfers the skills of navigation, sea rescue, racing, and boat repair. For many of the over one-hundred thousand who have sailed with C.S.C., the club has been the only access to this ancient sport and to the west Coast’s largest estuary. 

Lynn Sherrell 




Editors, Daily Planet:  

For some time I’ve been wanting to let you know what a fine job you are doing in covering the local news. No other paper even comes close. I have watched with interest as the Daily Planet went from a flimsy throwaway to the best newspaper in town. Keep up the good work. 

Christine Man 



Editors, Daily Planet:  

Bansner is all wrong! (Letters, Oct. 1-4, 2004.) There is no one in this town who knows District 6 and Berkeley better than Betty Olds. Betty has more than thirty years of community service, including years of teaching at Willard Jr. High, leading Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, serving on the Zoning Adjustments Board, the Rent Stabilization Board and the City Council. She is also a founding member of Save the Bay, and an active member of Citizens for the Eastshore State Park. It is because of Betty’s knowledge and sensitivity to the issues that are important to District 6—the environment, housing, transportation, fiscal accountability and infrastructure repair, that she has earned the endorsements of The Sierra Club, The National Woman’s Political Caucus, The Alameda County Democratic Club, The Berkeley Firefighters Association and The Berkeley Democratic Club. If, as Eva Bansner states, Norine Smith’s major qualification for City Council is that she walks...it is no wonder that she has no endorsements from any organizations. 

Vonnie Gurgin 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

A reassessment of the city’s policy on placement of public art is way overdue. The artistic merit of such pieces should be evaluated without consideration of the artist’s ideology, by a qualified team with no ties to icky political hacks. Longtime Berkeley residents will recall the lovely fountains on the Shattuck median that were removed for BART construction and never replaced. We can’t be Barcelona or Chicago, but we can do better. 

Richard Riffer 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I would like to take issue with Mark Shapiro’s letter which appeared in a recent issue. He takes Willard and presumably the school district to task for the construction that is making a physical shambles of the school. The re-modeling is a very positive move for Willard. Ironically, Shapiro is correct in assailing the school. Local families are staying away from Willard in droves and enrollment has plummeted. The school’s problems are internal.  

Lawrence Doyle 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I read Mark Johnson’s letter and Becky’s editorial response (Oct. 5-7) on the state of free speech in Berkeley and the country 40 years after the 1964 Free Speech Movement. It is clear to me that my politics are much closer to Becky’s than to Mr. Johnson’s, yet I found strong points in both statements. 

Becky’s pointing out the dangers of banning “hate speech” (offensive name-calling) on college campuses reminded me of an excellent book by relentless First Amendment advocate, Nat Hentoff. Published in 1992, his Free Speech For Me But Not For Thee gave instances of students being suspended from a college for writing or speaking racial epithets, surely, Hentoff pointed out, an instance of total lack of due process of law—there not even being a law, but an administrative policy on “hate speech” hastily instituted and enforced in a way that could actually endanger a student’s future. 

On the other hand, I believe we cannot discount Mark Johnson’s statement that some right-wing speakers have been prevented even from speaking in Berkeley. The cases of Horowitz and Malkin might have been, as Becky writes, cases of “heckling” which did not prevent them from speaking. However, two other (earlier) examples Johnson names were Netanyahu and Kirkpatrick, both prevented from speaking. As I remember reports of those incidents (I did not witness them) Kirkpatrick was shouted down and left the platform without speaking; Netanyahu and the people who came to hear him were intimidated by large crowds outside the hall, causing Netanyahu to cancel and leave the area. Not proud moments in Berkeley history.  

These two examples of prevention of free speech, by invited speakers, were protested as such by veterans of the 1964 Free Speech action, in letters to the East Bay Express. These letters—by folks with strong left-wing credentials—called these incidents violations of the rights they had fought for. Like their actions decades before, these letters took some courage. 

I was here in 1964. I was not part of the Free Speech demonstrations. But I remember my exhilaration at seeing how protesters came together from both ends of the political spectrum and many points in between. Then I knew that we had finally clawed our way out of the hell of the McCarthyite ‘50s and were acting in the spirit of the Voltaire quotation I used to hear quoted a lot when I was a child—how did it go? Something like, “I hate your opinion, but I will defend with my life your right to express it.” 

Dorothy Bryant 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The front page article “Council Mulls Fate of Fire Company” (Daily Planet, Oct. 5-7) mentioned that the Berkeley Fire Department requires a second ladder truck company only 10 to 12 times a year. That hardly seems to justify the cost of maintaining the truck company. But that activity accounts for only a small part of a truck company’s daily activity. Ladder trucks are part of the fire department’s emergency medical service, responding as the closest available unit when other companies are out of service—a situation where seconds could mean lives. The trucks also respond to incidents along the freeway to provide rescue and extraction of victims, another situation where a short response time is essential. These incidents are in addition to the “ordinary” fire incidents that the trucks handle. When you add up all the essential incidents that a second truck company handles, it’s clear that the annual cost should not be measured only by one statistic, but rather by the public safety. 

Gary Allen 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

There is common confusion about trees in Berkeley. Before the arrival of Europeans, in the flatlands of Berkeley, there were hardly any trees. Berkeley was grasslands with the occasional coast live oak. The proliferation of trees in Berkeley is due to human intervention. And, if humans stopped vigorously planting and watering trees, Berkeley would revert to a grassland environment. This is the reason the city’s recommended street tree list contains few trees native to Berkeley.  

The wonderful oak is not a good street tree. Coast live oak’s branches and roots like to grow low and broad. On a street, this would run right into cars and traffic and pavement. The city spends a quarter of a million dollars each year repaving sidewalks broken by tree roots. And during repaving, trees have to be root pruned, which shortens their life. Since it is important to provide access for everyone, the city’s recommended street trees list selects trees which don’t present this problem. Redwoods have a similar problem. At the intersection of Shattuck and Adeline is a beautiful triangle of redwood trees. But, if one looks closely, one can see that Shattuck Avenue next to the triangle is bumpy and rippled by the redwoods’ roots. 

The city does plant natives where there is space, such as in parks. There will be natives in the new bicycle and pedestrian boulevard extension from University to Delaware along the Santa Fe right of way. Work on this bicycle and pedestrian boulevard should begin this winter. 

Yolanda Huang 

Member, Tree Sub-Committee/Parks and Recreation Commission. 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The Friends of Deir Ibzi’a, an organization dedicated to helping provide education and hence a future for children in Palestine, condemns the brutal Israeli invasion of northern Gaza. This atrocity has so far killed more than 75 Palestinians, including 31 civilians, of whom 19 were children under 17, according to B’tselem, an Israeli human rights organization.  

We especially mourn the fact that this violence makes even more elusive the goal of a peaceful future for both the children of Palestine and the children of Israel.  

We call upon Ariel Sharon to immediately cease this unconscionable attack and demand that Israel honor international law and human rights obligations. Until that happens, we further demand that the U.S. stop all military and economic aid to Israel.  

For more information on Friends of Deir Ibzia, please go to www.deiribzia.org.  

Wendy Kaufmyn