Letters to the Editor

Tuesday October 12, 2004


Editors, Daily Planet: 

Jennifer Havens writes that she supports BSEP, but opposes Measure B because it would supposedly eliminate BSEP’s elected site committees and Planning and Oversight Committee (Daily Planet, Sept. 28-30) . 

Measure B does neither! She is misinformed! 

Measure B would supplement BSEP for two years until the voters consider BSEP’s reauthorization in 2006. Under Measure B, all aspects of BSEP would continue untouched. This includes the elected site committees (we are both members) and the Planning and Oversight Committee (which we co-chair). In fact, Measure B (Section 5.C.) explicitly requires a planning and oversight committee. 

Measure B is limited and highly specific. Most funds (68 percent) are restricted to reducing class sizes to specified levels. The dollar amounts were based on precise calculations of the additional costs required to reach these targets.  

Existing BSEP funds are also predominantly for reducing class sizes. Unfortunately, given the grossly insufficient funding coming from Sacramento, these funds are no longer sufficient to reach BSEP targets. 

The remainder of Measure B supplements other BSEP supported programs: school libraries (16 percent) and the school music program (seven percent). The remaining nine percent is for additional teacher training, program evaluation, and parent outreach. 

Under the current system for financing public education, almost all dollars available to a school district come from the state. When the state doesn’t provide adequate funding, only two options are available: (1) accept inadequate education for our kids; or (2) raise funds locally. Option 1 is not acceptable! It is for that reason that Measure B is necessary and why our community must act to support Berkeley’s schools. 

Don’t be misled by incorrect information. Please vote yes on Measure B. 

Dan Lindheim  

Susan Henderson 

Co-Chairs BSEP Planning and Oversight Committee 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Berkeley Firefighters Association Local 1227 is requesting support for Measure M (Emergency Medical Services Tax) on Nov. 2, 2004. Measure M will provide funding to put a paramedic on every engine at every fire station and keep our fire department fully funded and staff. 

Berkeley is the only city in Alameda County that does not staff a paramedic on their fire engines. A yes vote on Measure M will provide the tools, equipment, and training to allow Berkeley Fire Paramedics to be available even if all of our ambulances are committed to other calls. 

Measure M will cost the average homeowner a modest $79 per year or less than 23 cents per day to keep the fire department fully funded and staffed with paramedics at every fire station. 

Berkeley Fire Department responds to approximately 8,000 medical calls per year. We need to keep all fire companies in service. Support your firefighters by giving them the tools, equipment, and training to keep Berkeley safe. Yes on Measure M! 

Gil Dong 

BFFA Local 1227 


Editors, Daily Planet: 

Thanks to support from the City of Berkeley, over 2,000 low income Berkeley residents were able to visit Habitot Children’s Museum for free last year.  

The passage of both Measures J and K is absolutely essential to sustaining this non-profit museum’s Family Outreach Program which ensures that all Berkeley families, regardless of income, have access to Habitot’s rich learning environment for young children, year-round parenting education programs, and early childhood classes in literacy, science and art. Habitot helps prepare young children for kindergarten and fosters curiosity, learning and creativity.  

Without passage of Measures J and K, Habitot will lose funding for free field trips for Berkeley’s Head Start and low-income preschools, scholarships for children’s classes, subsidies for family memberships for needy Berkeley families, free admission days, invitations to home health nurses to bring clients, and admission passes for families through Berkeley agencies like A Better Way Foster Care, Through the Looking Glass, Smyth Fernwald (UC-Berkeley), BOSS Harrison House, McKinley House, and the Women’s Daytime Drop-in Center.  

Please vote for Measures J and K!  

Gina Moreland  

Founder and Director  

Habitot Children’s Museum  




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Your voters guide to Berkeley ballot measures was pretty worthless when it came to Measure B. Saying it taxes homeowners at 9.7 cents per square foot is useless information. 

Better you should have pointed out that the average Berkeley home is 1,900 square ft and thus Measure B is a $184 tax on homeowners. You should have also pointed out that homeowners already pay an average of $200 in school taxes.  

Thus measure B doubles homeowner school taxes. That is information voters can use. 

Frank Greenspan 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The two commentaries that accompanied mine (Daily Planet, Oct. 5) asserted that there was never an intent to prevent the rebuilding of creekside homes after a disaster. Why, then, did the ordinance specifically set up bureaucratic obstacles to suchrebuilding, when it was the right of all other homeowners? 

While the City Council has resolved this problem, there are many aspects of the ordinance that need updating, This should be done by the Planning Commission in cooperation with Public Works, not by a special task force. This is not the time, fiscally or politically, to engage in endless meetings and discussions about rip-rapping, crib-walling, and the other esoterica of creekism, and the “utopian vision” that many of its adherents propose. The city needs to deal quickly and efficiently, in-house, with the huge 

impending problem of crumbling culverts.  

Jerry Landis 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

It’s truly amazing that my vote, and the votes of Councilmembers Shirek, Olds, and Wozniak last Tuesday on the question of increasing relocation benefits to tenants has been cast as a vote “against tenants’ rights.” The question being considered was simple—whether to increase the amount of relocation payments to tenants when the landlord is going out of business. The entire council was in favor of upping the amount to reflect increases in the cost of living to low-income seniors and disabled persons. The entire council, that is. 

What my colleagues and I asked was that the rent board reconsider the second part of its recommendation—to extend these benefits to everyone over the age of 62, regardless of their income. We’d like to see some thought given to tailoring the recommendation to ensure the benefits are available to those who may truly need it, either because of their difficulties in relocating (e.g., a single mom with children, or someone with health problems) or because they lack the resources to pay their own relocation expenses. But one hysterical council member, whose out-of-control, politically-motivated remarks were echoed in last week’s Planet, chose not only to call our vote anti-tenant rights, but to suggest canceling the next council meeting until he’s assured of a majority who will vote with him. That’s not rational discussion. It’s not rational reporting. It’s political grandstanding that has nothing to do with the needs of tenants. 

Mim Hawley 

Councilmember, District 5 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The Berkeley police officers who work in beats 12 and 13 have a difficult assignment. We all live in Berkeley and we have every right to expect our police to be civil at all times. But gee, there’s a catch to that idea...how do we respond to violent crime? If you live in Berkeley, South Berkeley is far and away the most likely place for you to get shot. The crime statistics from this area don’t compare very favorably with other parts of the city. It’s easy to pick apart statistics to tell a story, but spending time in beat 12 means that you are 50 times more likely to experience an aggravated assault. The statistics are similar for many violent crimes. 

And in case you might be thinking that someone is looking to find crime in these neighborhoods by assigning more police, the answer is a flat no. Staffing in our city is assigned very strictly according to an area’s population. In Berkeley, to appease unrealistic notions of fairness, we ignore very strong factual evidence that crime happens more in some areas. 

Asking the police to not do their job is ridiculous. But we do have the problem of those pesky statistics. How about we ask the folks in the North Berkeley to do their share and start fighting the man! Forget about all that talk and put your feet on the street! Enough armchair activism and ideology, make a difference and scrap it out with those darn coppers! That should straighten out the statistical problems with pepper spray usage in Berkeley. 

I live in South Berkeley. It’s full of great people. We have the diversity that a lot of progressive people talk about but never experience. We’re very passionate about the good that we find in our neighborhoods. 

“The Pepper Spray Triangle.” Thanks so much for the label, Ms. Denney. I am certain the many fine residents of South Berkeley appreciate your comments about our fair little patch of the flats. Dang- I have that Dr. Pepper song stuck in my head now. 

Kevin Combs 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

If the voters pass Measure O, who benefits? I am a little confused because the formula as it is written implies that my rent could go up to a maximum of 7 percent each year. That is a hefty increase compared to the 1.5 percent increases I have received over the past ten years. What would be the result if the formula had been applied over that time? I would like the Rent Stabilization Board to give us data that would allow us to make an informed decision when we vote. Here this measure seems flawed because it accounts for rents in the future. Was there any renters invited to this discussion?  

The argument for the passing of Measure O has no renters’ endorsement. It is understandable that property owners may find the measure streamlining $15,000 to $20,000 out of the city’s budget. However, the city shouldn’t complain because that money should have been made from the property owners collecting rents. Understandably Measure O will certainly benefit owners who are dependent on a rental market income. But streamlining twenty grand out or the budget is a pittance compared to the entire Berkeley taxed populace.  

So, my confusion is how does this benefit renters?  

What am I missing? 

T Dea Robertson-Gutierrez 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Measure B, the new tax measure by Berkeley School District is another $8.4 million tax, on top of the $13 million extra we are taxed each year to run the schools, and on top of the $275 million we have been paying since 1992 for new construction. The school district already gets a lot of money from us, but despite all this money, it is regularly in chronic financial crisis. More money to the schools needs strong safeguards.  

Measure B is being touted as the child of BSEP, but Measure B has none of the much needed safeguards which citizens wrote into BSEP. Measure B eliminates: elected school committees, elected district committees, parents and teachers helping to decide how to spend the money, elected oversight, and guaranteed fair share to each school.  

And, worst of all, any money is first used for overhead, not for the benefit of students and not to support teachers. 

Measure B’s citizen oversight is appointed. This means, the Superintendent and school board can continue doing what they have been doing, which is to remove all critics from the citizens oversight committees. The board dissolved the Food Committee, and got rid of all critics on the Maintenance Committee. And the school district is being sued for not doing necessary audits as required for Measure BB which we passed in 2000. 

Measure B is undemocratic. It has no checks and balances. There’s no guarantee that the money will actually benefit the kids.  

Vote No on Measure B.  

Ron Rice 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I have two strong impressions regarding Laurie Capitelli: (1) He is a nice guy. (2) His views are detrimental to the well-being of Berkeley tenants. 

He’d make a fine neighbor, but I have reservations about his becoming a city councilmember. 

For years, Mr. Capitelli has advocated what he considers a grand housing compromise. Rent control would stop being a program that benefited all tenants. Instead, it would be means- tested so as to cover only the poor. In exchange, landlords would pay a tax on their rents to finance housing subsidies for the poor. The result would be a disaster for tenants. 

Rent control would for the most part come to an end. New renters with incomes above Mr. Capitelli’s poverty line would be exposed to steep rent increases during their tenancies. Renters with incomes below that line would experience magnified difficulty in finding apartments—landlords would generally choose to avoid regulation by renting to those less badly off. 

Mr. Capitelli’s subsidies would help some of the needy. But to a substantial degree the money would come out of the pockets of moderate income tenants. Landlords would keep most of the additional rents they’d collect from these tenants due to the absence of rent control; a portion would be transferred to the subsidy program via the new tax. 

Mr. Capitelli’s proposed trade-off just makes no sense. All rent control does is prevent gouging. There is no rational basis for confining it to renters living on the edge of destitution. Moderate income renters, too, should be shielded from unstable housing costs. 

Rent control need not be sacrificed in order to assist the most vulnerable. We should both establish more generous policies to address the housing needs of the indigent and preserve rent control that protects every tenant. 

Randy Silverman 



Editors, Daily Planet: 

Why, I kept asking myself, did the crowds on TV respond to President Bush in such an enthusiastic manner compared to the ones listening to Senator Kerry? Now I know the answer. The audiences listening to President Bush are screened and Kerry supporters are threatened with arrest if they don’t leave. Something is very wrong here. 

Anne Smith 


Editors, Daily Planet: 

Have U.S. voters forgotten how, with African-American Condoleezza Rice standing beside him before a public audience in Brazil, Bush stupidly asked the president of Brazil, “Do you have black people here like we have?”! Isn’t “President” Bush dangerously ignorant? 

How could he believe the Iraqis would welcome our second visit, and our troops not need body armor? On his daddy’s watch a little more than a decade earlier, the U.S., with bulldozers (making surrender impossible), buried alive uncounted numbers of Iraqis fleeing across the desert from Kuwait City to Baghdad. Those dead had family members, who know what the U.S. did, and who won’t forget. Following that earlier barbarity with more than a decade of intermittent bombing and sanctions that “wasted” millions of innocent Iraqi children and other civilians, vengeful “President” Dubya Bush unilaterally decided to “preemptively” and cowardly despoil already weakened Iraq—because, supposedly, they “tried to kill my daddy”—but didn’t. Daddy went to Kuwait as an ordinary citizen, for a medal from Kuwaitis, one of whose diplomats had, by a lying sob-sister act performed by his own daughter, tricked our Congress to do their fighting! 

Thinking people should never vote for such an unfeeling mental cipher as George W. Bush. 

Judith Segard Hunt 


Editors, Daily Planet: 

His long pauses before speaking, and long pauses between each clump of four-word phrases; his eyes darting right and left, as if listening to unheard voices; his sudden break in mid-sentence from incoherent rambling to terse, definitive answers. A growing number of observers speculate that Bush used a tiny, radio earpiece during the debate, from which an operative was feeding him the “correct” answers to the questions. The squarish lump protruding from the back of his jacket, the way he mispronounced words as  

if hearing them wrong, and his rapid eyeblink rate are further indications. 

Is the man who acts as our commander-in-chief actually an audio-telepromptered puppet? Not only would the use of this technology violate the detailed rules of the debate, but it would show him to be even worse than incompetent. The newsmedia should investigate this immediately. Readers can start at isbushwired.com/2004/10/voice-in-bushs-ear. 

Bruce Joffe 



Editors, Daily Planet: 

It is clear to even the dullest of intellects that George W. Bush is a liar, fraud, and a WAR CRIMINAL! 

No WMD’s in Iraq? Then why are US Troops torturing and killing off the people of Iraq by the thousands? Americans are not the good guys in Iraq! 

I strongly urge the representatives of the American people to make a stand against the War Criminals in the White House and to take immediate action to bring all appropriate charges for war crimes against the Bush administration, a.s.a.p. 

It was George W. Bush that terrorized the world with his line by saying “you are with us or against us” before he invaded Iraq, to torture and kill thousands of innocents! 

Tens of millions of us from around the world hit the streets to protest against the war crimes of the Bush administration, and refused to be a part of the mass murder taking place in Iraq. 

Dear Senators, you must make it clear, publicly, that you are not a part of this madness any further! 

Let history show that this body of representatives (the Senate) refused to cooperate with the war criminals in the White House and bring them to justice for their crimes against humanity. Show us that Americans’ representatives do not support the war criminals in the White House.  

Bring the troops home now, and return all stolen resources (oil) back to the people of Iraq with the sincerest of apologies to the world at large.  

Then offer reparations to all that faced property damage from the American bombs dropping in the midst of their communities. There can be no replacement for all of those that lost family members.  

Nothing can ever clean the stain of the Bush administration from the heart and soul of the American people, and there’s no point in allowing this madman to pursue his current path of mass murder now or ever again in Iraq.  

The Bush administration has shamed the American people for decades to come for the lies and deceit taking place that are being used to wage a war against the innocent people of Iraq. 

We will not ever forget! 

Lynda Carson 


Editors, Daily Planet: 

Bush No More! – By Tim Simpson 

Look at the way that Bush ruled us,  

four years of turmoil, problems, and fuss. 

He thinks he is helping, when all he does is hurt.  

To me it feels like he’s stomping the American dream in the dirt. 

He believes that he can rule,  

And so he tries to gain our trust, 

But just you watch, and wait and see, 

Once more he’ll leave us in the dust. 

All he wants is money, power, and fame. 

Bush seems to think that ruling a country is just a childhood game. 

It’s time for someone new, and nice, to come along and rule, 

John F Kerry is our man, may he win this presidential dual. 

To you John F Kerry, we all wish you the best of luck, 

Because if Bushy wins again, 

That would surely suck. 

We need to have a president that isn’t so insane. 

One that cares for America’s people, 

Not personal financial gain. 

And after this last stanza, I shall say no more, 

But hope with all my heart and soul that Bush is shown the door.