Letters to the Editor

Friday October 29, 2004


Editors, Daily Planet:  

It always disturbs and amazes me when voters are asked to make decisions that put burdens on others in their community while they bear none of the problems imposed on those others. 

Approving Measure Q says to those alr eady struggling with the problems of prostitutes taking over their streets, that they must not only continue to deal with this, but they will need to contend with more of it. The weakening of enforcement of street prostitution laws will bring more and mor e prostitutes to the area. 

You must ask yourself; is this something I would welcome in my neighborhood? Should I be approving it for others, even if they are struggling against it? 

Vote No on Measure Q and if you believe prostitution should be decrimina lized, invest time, work and money to have safe, private, zoning approved locations for consensual sex acts to take place so that children and neighborhoods do not have others’ decision imposed on them. 

Helen Springer 




Editors, Daily Plane t:  

Dan Lindheim was referring to me in his letter to the editor last Tuesday. I am not mistaken at all about Measure B. Measure B is definitely an end run around democracy. 

At my dinner table, we understand American history. No taxation without represe ntation. We wasted a lot of good tea in Boston Harbor because we believed in citizen input. 

So, if I am to be taxed, there should be community, parent and teacher input at every level. These are the conditions that we placed on BSEP, and BSEP works becau se of this. Some administrator shouldn’t decide how the money is spent. Teachers and parents are much more familiar with what is going on at a school. They know the needs of their kids, not some district administrator who, at best, goes to that school onc e a year, for a few short minutes.  

Measure B has no democratic safeguards. Measure B has no elected school committees, no elected district committees, no elected oversight committee, no guarantees that this very large tax increase will be efficiently or effectively used, no guarantee that we will in fact get small class sizes, better libraries and more music. In fact, the district pays itself first by taking a big cut for overhead before students receive any benefit. 

School district representatives say they support democracy, but the words they inserted in Measure B tells us that the school district wants our money without the democracy. I urge everyone to read the measure itself. I know if you read the actual text, you will vote No on Measure B. 

Steph anie Corcos 




Editors, Daily Planet:  

Tuesday night, before the high school PTSA, School Board member Nancy Riddle told the audience that Measure B was written to give the school district a big cut for overhead to keep Measure B from “encroaching” onto the general fund. 

I was floored. Nancy Riddle doesn’t express commitment about small class sizes, or libraries or music. What she said on behalf of the School Board is that the school board wants as much money as possible to spend anyway it wants, and we tax payers should pay another $250 a year, so the board gets its way.  

In the past three years, the School Board raised class sizes by transferring general fund monies elsewhere. Measure B has no guarantees that class size will actually go down, or that there will be more music or better library programs. Measure B is about funding the general fund. Heck no! 

The school board should be guaranteeing that the general fund will be used to match our generosity for small class size, better li braries and more music, not the other way around.  

These school board members have it completely backwards. What is it about government these days? Vote No on the school board incumbents, Selawsky and Rivera, and Vote No on Measure B. 

David Spinker 




Editors, Daily Planet:  

Ms. Levya-Cutler comments that she is advocating a YES vote on Measure J because her neighbor needs assistance from the local fire department to provide oxygen and that young children and youth need health servi ces (Daily Planet, Oct. 22-25). 

I believe she is advocating a Yes Vote on Measure M, because Measure M will put a paramedic on every engine at every station and keep all fire companies fully staffed and funded. Ms. Levya-Cutler’s neighbor gets oxygen fro m the fire department. The Oakland Tribune editorial board endorsed Measure M because of the services the fire department provides like to Ms. Levya-Cutler’s neighbor. 

Vote YES on Measure M and provide the tools and equipment to your firefighters so they can respond quickly to medical emergencies and fires. 

Gil Dong 




Editors, Daily Planet:  

John Selawsky is a very conscientious and effective School Board member. He has dealt in very creative and courageous ways with a deficit situation that was not of his making to re-establish the fiscal integrity of the Berkeley School District. In addition, he has been instrumental in establishing the Edible Schoolyard program, the Dual Immersion Program as well as improvements in instruction, integration and participation of the community. He should be given the opportunity to continue his excellent work. 

Diana Bohn 




Editors, Daily Planet:  

If you need to know what’s waiting for you in your backyard, here it is: 23,320 gallons of hazardous waste, stored and waiting to be shipped out through our city streets! Yep, that’s right. Last Oct. 20, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) organized a public hearing to share information and to accept public comments when they applied for an operating permit approval for the next 10 years, for their hazardous waste handling facility, storage and removal. 

The facility is not exactly in the middle of the desert. It’s in the Strawberry Canyon facility, located just above UC Botanical Garden and only a few hundred meters from the Lawrence Hall of Science, a children’s museum and school, and the residential neighborhoods of Panoramic Hill, Summit Rd., and Grizzly Peak Blvd. 

In fact, the storage facility sits literally on top of the Hayward fault, in a high fire risk and sliding zone. And what about a potential terrorist attack? Their plan is to transport hazardous waste in drums on trucks, through the Strawberry Creek watershed, down Hearst Avenue, through the Northside Neighborhood of the Campus and on to University Avenue to 1-80 and then on to different parts of the US.  

What is waiting for you is a variety of chemicals as well as used batteries, metal sludge, PCB-contaminated equipment, oily rags, paint and other mixed waste containing low levels of radioactivity. Do you think that LBNL needs an Environmental Impact Report and an Environmental Impact Statement, or an approval and permit from our city to drive around with their toxic waste? No, UC Berkeley and their regents exempt them from this already! 

So, what can we, as concerned citizens, do about this? Very little—but it is good to know that UC Berkeley really cares about us. They will be so candid as to make a phone call to the city, notifying them when the trucks with toxic waste, will be on the way through our city streets and residential neighborhoods. Concerned citizens can still send written comments to LBNL until Nov. 19 by writing to: Dr. Wagar Admad, Project Manager, Department of Toxic Substance Control, 700 Heinz Ave., Suite 200, Berkeley, Ca., 94710. Let him know what you think about this, and lets hope that our city government will act! 

Roger Van Ouytsel 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Two letters published on Oct. 19 complained about the misbehavior of Ecocity Builders, which the writers called a “group.” But Ecocity Builders is not a group, nor does it build anything. 

Ecocity Builders is basically two people. While both are tenacious in hectoring the city with their extreme philosophy (creeks good, people bad), they don’t seem very busy or well-endowed. 

Their most recent nonprofit tax filing, available online at www.documents.guidestar.org, listed only one full-time employee (the “President”), and annual revenue of just $30,349 against expenses of $40,786. It also showed net debts of $37,524. 

No Berkeley resident need be intimidated by this hollow “letterhead” organization. It’s a paper tiger with no real staff, assets, active membership, or constituency. 

Marcia Lau 




Editors, Daily Planet:  

In 1968, anti-war protesters disrupted the Democratic National Convention. The protesters were mostly young Democrats who effectively held the Johnson Administration accountable for a misguided and deadly war.  

Here we are in 2004 with Democrats again protesting a misguided and deadly war. Why does it have to be the Democrats that always come to this country’s rescue? Why can’t Republicans hold their own party accountable for even one mistake? Can they not face the disappointments that accompany a systematic series of lies and deception?  

Perhaps Republicans should change their mascot from an elephant to a lemming.  

Sheryl Phipps  




Editors, Daily Planet:  

Measure S proposes giving broad regulatory power to a quasi-judicial tree board that will regulate virtually all activities around the care, maintenance, trimming, topping, removing, or planting of trees on public property. The board also would have power to conduct inspections, hold hearings, issue subpoenas, and take sworn testimony. One section of the 18-page ordinance even empowers the board to impound vehicles of tree workers who do not comply to its standards! Yet nothing in the ordinance requires members of the board to have any special knowledge about trees or the activities it seeks to regulate. No to more city bureaucracy, no to duplication of existing services. 

Gail Keleman 




Editors, Daily Planet:  

In his letter entitled (Daily Planet, Oct. 22-25), respected author Gray Brechin shows off the typical insane zeal of Democrats who are desperate to elect “Anybody But Bush.” Brechin is a former anti-war activist. It is a fact that John Kerry supported Bush’s war, has criticized Bush’s “inept” pursuance of it, and has called for 40,000 more troops to bring about “success.” Kerry also believes in the phony “war on terror” that has been a shuck from day one. Kerry is not now and never was a “progressive.”  

Ralph Nader did not “cost Al Gore the election.” Millions of registered Democrats voted for Bush and millions of Republican dollars funded Gore’s campaign. Republicans are funding Kerry’s campaign in 2004. The big boys always hedge their bets. They don’t get hysterical like Brechin and his friends.  

As Michael Moore shows in “Fahrenheit 911,” the Demos threw the election by refusing to challenge Republican vote manipulation. And with good reason; they do the same goddamn thing themselves in their own districts. There’s been an impeachment resolution on the House floor since November 2001. The Demos have refused to move impeachment forward and have backed Bush all the way. Brechin and his limousine liberals are dreaming.  

So Nader is Melville’s “mad Captain Ahab,” huh? Brechin has become Richard Henry Dana in his book, “Two Years Before the Mast.” Brechin and his “progressive” buddies will put up with anything, including four years of flogging “before the mast,” to serve their masters in the Democrat Party. This slavish behavior may yet pay off. You read it here first: Brechin and his boys are stumping for Kerry so they can get positions in the new Kerry Administration. Then they can get paid to apologize for the bastard every time he stabs those who voted for him in the back, just as they did for those other “progressives,” Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter.  

The real Ahab on the Kerry caper is George Soros, the stock swindler and currency manipulator. His “means and methods” are quite sane. It’s easy to buy off a shill like Brechin with $16 million.  

Steve Tabor  




Editors, Daily Planet:  

Regarding Ms. O’Malley’s editorial of last Friday (Daily Planet, Oct. 22-25), I was surprised to find that she thinks that Senator Kerry supports school vouchers when she referred to his “support of choice.” 

Ah, but perhaps it is not that choice which she is referring to. Perhaps she was referring to the senator’s unequivocal support for abortion rights. That phraseology would have been clearer, although perhaps a bit ickier and unsettling as well. 

In any case, I would hope that all Catholic bishops would support the dignity and rights of all members of our species (which, human embryos are, as any standard embryology text indicates), in the face of the Senator’s wanton disregard toward the youngest of us. 

Chris Burgwald 




Editors, Daily Planet:  

Karl Rove and the Bush Administration are not the only politicians playing on the politics of fear. The Berkeley City Council and Mayor Tom Bates, in their own little way, are spreading the fear too. 

Hyperbole? Stay with me a minute: The city council is preparing to ground one of the city’s two fire truck companies from evening until morning starting Nov. 8, with the stated purpose of saving the city $300,000 a year. 

Meantime, voters are being asked to approve Ballot Measure H in November that, if passed, would use taxpayer money to pay for Berkeley political campaigns. The estimated annual cost is $498,000. 

In effect, elected city officials are asking voters, during a serious budget crisis, to significantly cut community fire protection. Instead, they take that $300,000 in fire protection money and add another $200,000, to pay for their own political campaigns. Quite literally, the city council would rather put lives at risk rather than forgo public financing of their political campaigns. 

The mayor and the council also are employing two other Bush-like tactics: bait-and-switch and obfuscation.  

Here’s the bait and switch: The mayor and the council are considering a reinstatement of any fire cutbacks in 2006 if voters approve Measure M, a tax hike intended to fund paramedic services. (The measure does not ask for fire-fighting funds.) 

Here’s the obfuscation: The city is asking voters to approve tax hikes not just for ambulances, but also for libraries and youth services. These services may be worthy. But by stroking voters’ heartstrings by putting these programs before the voters, the city council is asking its residents to save them from tough decision-making necessary for budget discipline. 

Until voters make clear to the mayor and the city council that we want honest, strong, straightforward leaders willing to lay out real choices without resorting to scare tactics, they will continue to take the easy route—appealing to our emotions to keep raising taxes, which already are way too high. 

A way out of the mess is for voters to vote against all the tax hikes on the ballot. There are a bunch: Measure H, Measure J, Measure K, Measure L and Measure M. 

If voters force the mayor and the council to assume honest responsibility for fixing our budget problems, perhaps then we can consider whether tax hikes are necessary based on rational analysis, and not on the politics of fear. 

Russ Mitchell  




Editors, Daily Planet:  

Dan Lindheim’s statements last Tuesday on Measure B are worthless. Not because Dan is not a nice guy. I’m sure he is. But he is only a private citizen. His claims about the School Board’s inner thoughts and intentions mean nothing. As we saw, no board member came forward to explain. Dan Lindheim’s comments are only spin. Campaign promises don’t count. The only thing that counts are the words of the Measure. In fact, in a lawsuit against the School district to enforce a promise Superintendent McLaughlin made about Measure BB, which we passed in 2000, the attorney for the school district specifically argued that only the words of the measure count. Even board policy is not reliable, because the board can, at any time, change that policy. So, it’s just the words of Measure B that count. And those words clearly say there will be no requirement of equal division of Measure B funds among the schools, there will be no elected school committees to decide how to spend each school’s money. There will be no elected district planning committee. In fact, there is no mention of citizen input of any kind. And the oversight committee is bogus. One appointed person satisfies the requirement. They could appoint the Superintendent’s cousin, and it would be legal. 

What Dan Lindheim and the Measure B folks have not explained, is why we should raise taxes so that the school district can take the more money for overhead than Measure B allocates for music, teacher training and parent outreach put together. 

Vote no on Measure B. 

Sally Reyes 




Editors, Daily Planet:  

Several weeks ago I ran a full-page ad in the Planet reporting that 67,000 had already died in Iraq and used the word genocide (Daily Planet, Oct. 12-14). People have questioned me on both accounts. Here is my reply. 

The figure is derived from various web sites. The number 30,000 as of Oct. 1, 2004 came from www.english.aljazeera.net. Iraqi military deaths reported by Tommy Franks, the American General in charge, as of April 9, 2003 (when the Saddam statue was toppled) were 30,000. I added the two figures together. Soldiers are people. The number does not include dead Americans and foreigners who rightfully should be included.  

I have my own definition of genocide, of which I am very proud. Genocide is the taking of human life to attain some economic or political goal. 

Bennett Markel 




Editors, Daily Planet:  

As a resident of Berkeley’s Northside and a Berkeley Council candidate, I am concerned about the reconfiguration of Marin Avenue as is currently being proposed by the cities of Albany and Berkeley. While the proposed reconfiguration may or may not be a good idea, I do not feel that there has been adequate time for interested Berkeley parties to consider this matter with the care it deserves. Therefore, the discussion period on this matter should be extended, a negative declaration as to project impacts should not be issued at this time, and any additional Berkeley and Albany commitment to this project should be suspended. 

As far as I can see from examining the Berkeley public records, this matter was referred to the Berkeley City Manager on July 23, 2002 for a status report on the supposed Albany plan. The City Manager reported back to Council on Sept. 24, 2002 stating that there would be no major impacts from this plan and that the matter not be forwarded to the normally appropriate review body, the City of Berkeley Transportation Commission. Further, parties of interest in Berkeley were stated very narrowly as Marin Avenue area residents, not the much larger north Berkeley populace that relies on Marin Avenue as a major arterial. The fact that the Berkeley Bicycle Plan includes reference to bike lanes on Marin Avenue is not especially relevant, since many portions of Berkeley’s general and specific plans were enacted with insufficient broad-based awareness of the implications. This item was submitted to the Berkeley City Council as an information report whereby no particular Council action was required except to simply accept it. 

Since the Sept. 24, 2002 report, there appears to have been no further communication to Berkeley residents or councilmembers about the Marin Avenue plan. Now, all of a sudden, we appear to be presented with an almost done deal. According to the City of Albany website description of the project, Albany has been working all along with the City of Berkeley’s Transportation Department to move this plan along, and the City of Berkeley is described as an active partner. I myself cannot see from the available record that the City of Berkeley has ever received appropriate authority to proceed in this manner nor has the Berkeley public ever been appropriately informed about this plan. 

I did discover, upon my own request for information, that an “off-agenda” report was sent to Berkeley City councilmembers on April 27, 2004. I asked for and received a copy of this previously unknown document. This document claims that the City of Berkeley formally endorsed the Albany plan on Sept. 24, 2002, a claim that really stretches the limits of credibility if one actually reads the Sept. 24, 2002 report. Further, “off-agenda” reports to Council are contrary to the spirit of sunshining public information and have been occurring with dismaying frequency over the last two years.  

I urge all concerned Berkeley and Albany residents, the Transportation Commission, the Berkeley City Council, the Solano Avenue Association, the Berkeley and Albany Chambers of Commerce, and all other stakeholders to reconsider the flawed process and properly place the Marin Avenue Reconfiguration before the public. Good decisions arise from a good process. We need to take several steps back, slow this process down significantly, and engage in the public discourse that we have come to expect and require in Berkeley on matters of substantial import.  

Barbara Gilbert,  

Berkeley Council Candidate, District 5 




Editors, Daily Planet:  

On behalf of Local 39 Members who work for the Berkeley Unified School District, I want to thank J. Douglas Allen-Taylor for his story on a difficult and complicated subject—the union’s contract impasse with the district (Daily Planet, Oct. 22-25). We want to address a factual misstatement that the district keeps repeating regarding their “authority” to unilaterally deduct $50 a month from our members’ paychecks for healthcare cost increases that the district incurred in violation of our contract. Director Doran repeats this misstatement in Mr. Allen-Taylor’s article, although neither he nor any other board member have made any effort to find out what’s going on in negotiations. They simply accept whatever the superintendent has to say. The union’s contract does not agree to the $50 deduction and, in fact, requires the district to participate in a joint cost containment committee to purchase healthcare at affordable rates. This language was agreed to in July 2003 and approved finally by the board on Sept. 17, 2003. The district stonewalled and refused to participate in the joint cost-containment committee, which involves all BUSD unions, not just Local 39, until April 2004, long after the district had already unilaterally signed a contract for its 2004-05 health care coverage. Then, having refused to abide by its obligation to participate in the cost containment committee, the district announced that all employees would now have to pay $50 a month for its incompetence in purchasing affordable healthcare. School board members have not exercised their authority to oversee the actions of this administration and relations with district employees. Rather they are being spoon-fed what the superintendent wants them to know. Otherwise, they would realize there’s a lot of anger, unrest and dissatisfaction in the district. They would know that this superintendent refuses to work with the unions, in fact blames unions for the administration’s failure to address the academic achievement gap. The board would know that since Michele Lawrence came to town no union representing BUSD employees, teachers or classified workers, has been able to negotiate a contract without the intervention of a state mediator.  

Director Rivera may think he’s sitting on a “pro-union” board, but it hasn’t done anything to enforce that on an anti-union superintendent. No BUSD administration in the last several years has had as many unfair labor practice charges filed against it or put employees in the position of having to take a strike vote to (unsuccessfully) try to get this administration to bargain in good faith. But we think that’s the problem. This is a board that isn’t paying attention and has simply let a superintendent do what she wants, even when it’s contrary to the values and principles of this community. And, just a minor correction, there were some 60-65 Local 39 members in attendance at the board meeting.  

Stephanie Allan,  

Business Representative,  

Stationary Engineers, Local 39 




Editors, Daily Planet:  

The Peralta Community College District Board is made up of seven trustees, each representing different sections of our East Bay community and the colleges of Vista, Alameda, Merritt and Laney. Over the past few years many members of our board have proven themselves to be unworthy of our trust—extravagant foreign trips, sweetheart no-bid contracts, controversial hirings of chancellors and the repeated threat of selling off Laney College’s athletic fields. 

Now a majority of the PCCD board members are stepping down and we have the opportunity to elect their replacements. Our number one concern should be integrity, closely followed by honesty and commitment to the students, the staff and faculty who serve them, and to the rich vitality of our community colleges. 

The three candidates who are worthy of our trust and our votes are: Cy Gulassa (Area 6), Johnny Lorigo (Area 2), and Nicky Gonzalez (Area 4). These are people with lifetime commitments to education in our community. They have a combined 75 years of educational experience and service. 

This upcoming election will be historic. Together we can make a positive difference, both nationally and locally! Vote! 

Miriam Zamora-Kantor,  

former Vista and Laney student, 

current Laney instructor 





Editors, Daily Planet:  

Like many folks, I just got around to reading my sample ballot and find myself astonished by the short-sightedness of some of those who automatically oppose any tax increase. I’m thinking particularly of Measure L to continue funding our libraries. It seems that some people want to not only put others at an economic disadvantage but promote ignorance as well. Can this be anything but self-centered and mean-spirited? 

Over 40 years ago I arrived in Berkeley as a graduate student. After finishing school, I became a Minister and have made Berkeley my home. One of the reasons I have lived here is the Berkeley Public Library. As a student in the late 1960s, I used the lovely North Branch as a quiet place to focus on my studies. Of course, I also checked out books to read in the spare time I had. Raising my sons in Berkeley in the 1970s, I took advantage of the wonderful children’s books and records and, of course, the storytimes at the Library. I also saw what Prop 13 did to libraries in Berkeley, and I feel that we are headed down a similar path today. The State of California is in an enormous budget crisis, one that may rival those crises of the Great Depression. Although we need to hold the State responsible for helping to fund our public libraries and other local services, we must also step up to the plate and keep our libraries from slipping into what they became right after Prop 13. I recommend that Berkeley voters go to the polls and be certain to seriously consider the plight of the libraries in Berkeley: please vote yes on Measures L and N on your ballots this election. 

Dr. Ron Parker 




Editors, Daily Planet:  

We have lived in District 3 of south Berkeley for 17 years and have many wonderful neighbors. However, there have also been a few troublesome crack houses with their attendant problems of noise, prostitution, reckless driving and occasional gunfire. We have other public nuisances such as a high density of liquor stores, long-vacant properties, and excessive trash. 

When the open drug dealing on our streets increased a few years ago we began forming neighborhood groups where they hadn’t existed before. We invited our councilperson, but she never came or even acknowledged us. Over the years, we have never been able to interest her in our concerns; at least, there was never any response to letters, photographs of problems, or phone calls. When elections came around we looked for good candidates to oppose her, but the Democrat machinery loudly endorsed the status quo and intimidated thoughtful, grassroots opposition. 

Over the last few years of trying to address safety and nuisance issues on our streets we have become acquainted with several other neighborhood organizations in south Berkeley. Many serious, dedicated and energetic people here have been working with the city and the schools to improve conditions. We found Laura Menard to be in the forefront of much of the best work, so we were thrilled when she decided to run for our District 3 city council seat. We didn’t realize then that the fix was already in, that major endorsements were already locked into Laura’s opponent without having met Laura. It was revealing that some party endorsements even went to the incumbent, who is not on the ballot. Not one of these endorsers showed up at our neighborhood meetings, to ask us about our issues of concern, let alone who we might support to represent our neighborhood on city council. 

Laura’s campaign statements and literature list some of her past successes and current ideas for our youth, the city, and the neighborhood, but it seems that some minds are already closed. It’s interesting to see how many dominos fell into place before hearing our voice. Laura was not even invited to some of the endorsement forums. We didn’t know that this is how our city elections are working at the most basic level of our democratic representation. We wonder to what extent have we become voters by label or endorsement, looking to see what so-and-so says, instead of learning and thinking for ourselves. We didn’t expect that such a well-qualified, grassroots-supported candidate as ours would be shut out of parts of the process. 

Laura Menard is our excellent candidate, and if you’ve heard her you know how well-informed and straightforward she is. She has experience and enthusiasm, and is full of positive and realistic ideas to solve our real problems. Laura can be reached at 849-4319. 

Karen Klitz 

Ralph Adams 




Editors, Daily Planet:  

I am a math teacher with many years of experience, having taught in six different states in very different communities. I am currently on leave in order to take care of our three small children. Our oldest child just started kindergarten this year at Malcolm X Elementary school. We are new to Berkeley, having the good fortune and generous family support to buy a house right near this school this past summer. The Berkeley schools have amazed me by the quality of the schooling they provide. The teachers are confident and professional, in part because they have the support and resources they need to do their job well. My son’s teacher is new to the profession, yet exhibits an understanding of children and relevant pedagogy that is beyond that of an average experienced teacher. The resources available have already had a profound impact on my son’s understanding of the world. 

Two months ago he could not write his name, and now he can spell out simple words. He draws patterns, uses simple numbers, can do simple tasks in the kitchen, and recognize plants in the garden. He loves to go to school because he says he learns so many interesting things there. In all my teaching experience I have seen only one school with a fully funded gardening class, no school with a comprehensive cooking class, only one old building that was completely modernized and safe, very few classrooms that had enough supplies, and almost no classroom that was racially integrated. My son’s classroom at Malcolm X has all of these. 

Our family is willing to pay whatever it takes to keep this quality of education. We urge you to vote for Measure B. We are proud to live in a community that recognizes the right of all children to learn. 

Masha Albrech 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

As a six year member of the Berkeley School Board I enthusiastically endorse Karen Hemphill and Kalima Rose for the Berkeley School Board and urge the community to do so as well. 

We are entering a decisive period in the history of our school system. The next 18 months will see the school district orchestrate a comprehensive, community-wide planning process designed to shape the next half century of Berkeley public education.  

I believe Karen and Kalima will aggressively pursue policies and programs that will bring about the most rapid improvements in our schools for all our children. 

This endorsement was not a very easy decision on my part. A seated board member should always consider their interaction with other board members when looking to the future, and I have worked collaboratively with each of my colleagues on the board, at times.  

But more importantly, I have tried to also consider what is now necessary to move our district forward, what are the key inadequacies of our district, what students are most in need of help and who can I work best with to address these issues. And, I have always stressed that more of the same will just not do. 

Karen and Kalima, I have come to believe, will bring new, enthusiastic, visionary approaches to the real needs of our district. New eyes and new approaches are absolutely necessary right now to help all children be successful in our schools. Both women have a lifetime of community and professional experience that make them uniquely qualified to address our school district’s problems at this point in history. They are the right people at the right time for our city’s educational challenges. 

Karen and Kalima are supported by the very people who have had an inadequate voice in the decisions of this district for years, folks who I have tried to represent on the board and who are screaming for quality and equity in the policies and decisions this district makes.  

With Karen Hamphill and Kalima Rose sitting at the table our district will be in great hands and our children will be the beneficiaries. 

Please join with me and many others to make this happen by voting for Karen Hemphill and Kalima Rose for School Board on Nov. 2. 

Terry Doran 

Berkeley School Board  




Editors, Daily Planet:  

There is one important correction that needs to be made in regard to Matthew Artz’s otherwise fair and balanced report about the District 5 race (Daily Planet, Oct. 22-25). Artz states, “Capitelli . . . if elected would be the only councilmember to have experience running a business.” Of course this is equally true of Jesse Townley. Jesse Townley was Executive Director of Easy Does It, a nonprofit service provider, and has been secretary of the board of 924 Gilman for 14 years. He also was a member of Uprising Bakery Collective, a for-profit cooperative. 

It is truly sad that only people who run personally-owned, for-profit organizations are given the credit for having balanced a budget, managed staff, marketed the organization, ensured a steady financial inflow—in short, for having experience running a business. 

Kenneth Mostern 




Editors, Daily Planet:  

The Green Party of Alameda County endorses: John Selawsky for Berkeley School Board; Berkeley City Council—Darryl Moore in District 2, Max Anderson in District 3, and Jesse Townley in District 5; Berkeley Rent Board: Jesse Arrequin, Jack Harrison, Jason Overman, and Eleanor Walden. 

We endorse a ‘Yes’ vote for all Berkeley measures (B, and H through S); As for the State propositions, we endorse a ‘Yes’ vote for 1A, 59, 60, 63, 65, 66, and 72, and a ‘NO’ vote for 61, 62, 64, 67, 68, 69, and 71. (We take no position on 60A and 70). 

For special districts, we endorse Harry Hartman, Johnny Lorigo, Nicky Gonzalez Yuen, and Cy Gulassa for Peralta College Board; Chris Peeples and Christine Zook for AC Transit; and for BART, District 3, we endorse both Bob Franklin and Roy Nakadegawa. 

The Green Party endorses ‘Yes’ on measures AA and BB, and ‘NO’ on CC. 

For Albany City Council we endorse Brian Parker, Robert Lieber, and Farid Javandel, and for School Board, David Forbes and Bill Schaff. 

In Emeryville, we endorse ‘No’ on measures T and U. 

In Oakland we endorse ‘No’ on Y and ‘Yes’ on Z. 

The Green Party has published a 16-page voter guide with information and analysis for each endorsement. Our voter guide is available at Berkeley and downtown Oakland libraries, the Temescal Library in Oakland, in many cafes around town, on the porch of our office 24 hours/day at 2022 Blake St. in Berkeley, and on the Internet at: www.cagreens.org. 

Patricia Marsh 

Green Party of Alameda County 

County Councilor 




Editors, Daily Planet:  

Cy Gulassa’s full-time career has been as a teacher at a community college. Cy’s experience and expertise is needed for the Peralta colleges—Laney, Alameda, Merritt and Vista. Cy’s knowledge is especially needed to oversee the building of the new Berkeley downtown campus of Vista Community College. The Peralta colleges serve 30,000 students every semester and the district budget is over $100,000,000 annually. Cy, through his service on faculty and statewide community college committees, knows about long-term planning and financial planning for community colleges.  

Cy is a long time resident of Oakland’s Rockridge District that has close ties to Berkeley. We hope that you will vote for Cy so we can see improvement in the administration of the community colleges and so that the students in our community can get an excellent education. For more information, go to www.cyforperalta.org 

Sally and George Williams 




Editors, Daily Planet:  

Today, many of us in Berkeley feel frustrated about our inability to affect the national election in November. We can, however, do something significant on election day to improve the community we live in. We can change the leadership of the school district and begin to close the gap between the educational experience we aspire to for our community and the current reality in our schools.  

School Board Director Terry Doran tells us that “we are entering a decisive period in the history of our school system. The next eighteen months will see the school district undertake a comprehensive, community-wide planning process designed to shape the next half century of Berkeley public education.”  

With so much at stake, we are witnessing a very challenging race for School Board. All the normal alliances in the city are split within their own ranks over who can best lead our school board. The one clear message, however, is from Congressperson Barbara Lee and the Berkeley Federation of Teachers who strongly support Hemphill and Rose. Two important community groups with influence in the African-American and Latino communities, Latinos Unidos and United In Action, also endorse Hemphill and Rose. 

One key issue of the campaign is the disparity in achievement, i.e., the urgent need to fully address educational failure among too many of our youth. And it is Karen Hemphill and Kalima Rose who have raised the issue and forced the incumbents to address it during the campaign. 

All sides, of course, think they are addressing the achievement issue. George Bush thinks he is addressing it with his “no child left behind” initiative. We know different. The test is who among the candidates is in closest touch with the daily damage caused by incremental failure year by year, who can most honestly gage the rate of progress, and who is best equipped to lead a social justice oriented community like ours away from a contradiction which haunts us? 

We are happy to see that Karen Hemphill has garnered across the board support from almost every sector of the city. She is smart, analytical, compassionate and seasoned, making her a compelling choice. Further, the community recognizes a great need for African American representation on the board. 

Kalima Rose has made an astounding entry after a late start, a tribute to her history of community involvement and the need for failure relief. She is schooled in national policy, community engagement and budgetary issues. She has been a midwife for the small schools movement, long before it became popular to champion the initiative. 

Kalima Rose and Karen Hemphill represent the beginning of a new tide of change. They will reach out and engage parts of the community that have lost hope and confidence in the Berkeley schools. Hemphill and Rose have a track record for finding and bringing external resources to support innovative initiatives.  

Kalima and Karen will champion the success of all students through a well-planned, comprehensive strategy and program. They are committed to educational excellence with a perspective that is grounded in social justice, coalition building, consensus building, planning and action.  

Berkeley cannot continue to have a second rate reputation or a two tiered system—one for advantaged kids and one for under-served kids. That’s not who we are as a community. 

You can help make Berkeley first rate for all our children by voting for Hemphill and Rose. 

Santiago Casal 

On behalf of Latinos Unidos & United In Action 




Editors, Daily Planet:  

Thanks sincerely for playing along with the negative campaign in South Berkeley. Careful readers will recognize as Karl Rove-ian the character attacks (Daily Planet, Oct. 22-25) directed not so much at any weaknesses of newcomer candidate Laura Menard, but directed squarely at her strengths. Clearly Menard is unsettling the opposition despite being out-funded four-to-one (Daily Planet, Oct. 8-11).  

As a supporter, I have seen Menard received extremely well throughout District 3, particularly when she visits with residents and when she appears at multi-candidate forums. In person, she shows an in-depth appreciation of diverse and competing local interests. Her unabashed willingness to make difficult and necessary political decisions is a welcome offer to those of us who see District 3 as our community—we who vote, pay taxes, build friendships, families and compromises here. With the civic budget in straits, there is no time for newcomers to do their requisite listening to our elders, and there is no room for council candidates who cannot promise swift and targeted action upon taking office.  

Tragically, candidates Anderson, Benefiel, Menard and Shirek are being judged by their disposition toward a particular tangle of quality-of-life and quality-of-service issues left unaddressed by the current city leadership (Daily Planet, Oct. 15-18). It is a topic far too complex to be treated as a litmus test. In fact, a simplistic view promotes at least three illegitimate agendas: discrediting the current candidates, leaving entrenched the economic interests of outsiders and passing-through careerists, and assuaging the hesitations of some mostly white arrivistes.  

Letter-writers Sally Hindman and MarcGreenhut attribute to Menard’s efforts the fact that activities at the Drop-In Center have become an election year issue, and then dismiss these alleged efforts as political opportunism. The letters are also strikingly similar in their critique of Menard’s lack of political polish. What’s frightening is that Hindman takes up the dumbed-down litmus test view of homeless services, despite being uniquely prepared to contribute to an informed examination: her career in the homeless services industry includes accomplishments as a zealous advocate for a Southside service provider. Hindman further misleads by referring to her early, firm, and public support of candidate Anderson as having “not given a lot of thought to whom to support for District 3’s council seat.” Good grief!  

J.M. Tharp  




Editors, Daily Planet: 

John Selawsky is the school board candidate to vote for on Nov. 2. Here are a few reasons why: 

John initiated, among other things, the School Traffic Safety Committee. This committee has been working to improve traffic safety around Berkeley Schools since early 2002, when John asked members of Berkeley Ecological and Safe Transportation to work with him to implement a transportation policy. John has dedicated himself to making traveling around the schools safer, and this year, the goal is to decrease the number of cars driving students to school, by encouraging walking and bicycling to school. 

When you work with someone in this capacity, as I have, you get to know their style, their personality and their motivation. John has been accessible, easy to work with and integritous. When working with him, it is clear he works for the children. With John’s efforts, a joint city-school-district committee, now officially a Superintendent’s Committee, has made improvements through traffic engineering, education and enforcement.  

John has also supported the Child Nutrition Advisory Committee’s efforts to improve the food served to students in BUSD. Progress has also been noted in this arena as well. 

When John came to the school board, the district was in serious financial trouble due to utter mismanagement and lack of accountability of past district administrators and staff, stemming back at least 10 years. Under John’s watch as Board member, which started 4 years ago, the district hired a new Superintendent, new staff, and a new accountability has been established. And now, the district is out of debt. Quite a turn-around. 

John isn’t one to pat himself on the back, and he hasn’t launched an expensive campaign, so he needs those of us who know him to mount a mini-campaign for him.  

If you vote for school board, vote for John Selawsky. He’s a hard working, intelligent guy who deserves another term. 

Marcy Greenhut 




Editors, Daily Planet:  

I am a resident of District 3 in South Berkeley. I was also the co-founder and past Director of the Berkeley Drop-In Center. 

The smear campaign against the Berkeley Drop-in Center for political purposes is the epitome of “negative” campaigning. Laura Menard, a candidate for District 3 City Council, is whipping up fear and bigotry to booster a political campaign. It is easy to do, because the target are people who are generally stigmatized: poor people of color, with mental disabilities, many of whom are homeless and have substance abuse problems.  

The Berkeley Drop-In Center is based on the self-help/peer support model of services. The California Mental Health Planning Council Master Plan states that “the mental health system must promote the development and use of self-help, peer support and peer education for all target populations and their families. Self-help and peer support must be available in all areas of the State.”  

The center has existed since 1985, and, in fact, pioneered the self-help program model that has grown throughout the State and country (another instance of Berkeley at the forefront). 

Recently the center has merged with a larger non-profit agency, so as to build its management and administrative infrastructure. With this merger, the center’s services will also be able to expand, resulting in better services for the people of south Berkeley and more effective outreach to the center’s neighbors. 

The Berkeley Drop-In Center serves the people of South Berkeley. It does not bring trouble into the neighborhood; it provides assistance to the troubled people who live in our community. As reported by the Daily Planet, the police report no correlation between the crime in the area in which the center is located and clients of the center.  

The Berkeley Drop-In Center is a solution to our problems, not a cause.  

Throughout the spring/early summer when Berkeley was making hard decisions about its budget, there were many public hearings about Berkeley’s services, including discussions about funding for the Berkeley Drop-In Center. I was at several of them at the City Council. Laura Menard was at none of them, to my knowledge. Her lack of interest in the Berkeley Drop-In Center when its funding was being publicly debated underscores her current concern about the center as opportunistic and for political gain. 

We need a South Berkeley council person who will assist in improving services in the area, not shut them down. We need a South Berkeley council person who will bring us together to solve South Berkeley’s problems, to dialogue with each other, not divide the community by scapegoating one group of people for the community’s problems. Hate and fear can win elections but they don’t solve problems; they generate more problems. 

Sally Zinman 

Co-founder and former director of the Berkeley Drop-In Center 




Editors, Daily Planet:  

Big business interests are trying to limit our voting choices with Prop. 62. They want to restrict our options to just two candidates for the November general election, even if those two candidates are both from the same political party. And that party doesn’t even have to be the party that receives the most votes in the primary election. 

Here’s an example of the madness they’re proposing. Suppose two Republicans run in the primary, and they receive 20 percent and 19 percent of the vote. Suppose four Democrats run, and they receive 18 percent, 17 percent, 15 percent, and 11 percent. Incredibly, under 62, only the two Republicans would advance to the general election, even though their combined total is just 39 percent, while the Democrats, who received 61 percent, would be completely shut out. 

Individual billionaires associated with the following companies paid at least $50,000 each for the qualifying signatures for Prop. 62: Broad & Kaufman, the Gap, Wesco Financial, Paramount Farms, and Berkshire Hathaway; Countrywide Home Loans paid $350,000. 

No other state, other than Louisiana, uses this voting scheme. Don’t let the billionaires fool you on this one. They’re trying to confine our November election choices to just two well-financed candidates who will serve their narrow pro big business interests. Vote No on Proposition 62. 

Joan Strasser 




Editors, Daily Planet:  

I have to reply to Sally Hindman’s disingenuous letter attacking District 3 candidate Laura Menard (Daily Planet, Oct. 22-25). Hindman is afraid because Menard spent half an hour talking to her? We should all have such scary candidates! (There’s been no sign of Max Anderson on our block, and he never has so much as poked his head into our Russell-Oregon-California Street Neighborhood Association meetings.) Hindman also says she’s frightened about Menard’s opposition to the Berkeley Drop-In Center. The Daily Planet’s own reporting on the issue (Oct. 15-18) detailed numerous management woes at the facility, along with many complaints from merchants and neighbors. The only ones speaking in its favor were its clients and staff. Oh, by the way, Hindman forgot to mention that she’s in the business hereself—she runs her own homeless drop-in center up on Telegraph Avenue.  

I’ve lived in Berkeley for thirty years. During that time, I’ve always supported “progressive” candidates. Eight years ago, however, I moved to District 3. We might as well not have had a councilmember for all the support we got from the “progressive” Maudelle Shirek. This time, I’m supporting Laura Menard because she’s hard-working, thoughtful, and solution-oriented. We need someone fighting for our district for a change—someone who’s willing to abandon programs that aren’t working, and willing to try new approaches. I invite my neighbors to join me in voting for Laura Menard.  

Paul Rauber 




Editors, Daily Planet:  

I see that Rep. Barbara Lee has asked District 3 voters to write in the incumbent for City Council. I agree that we should honor Ms. Shirek’s legacy in Berkeley and national politics. However, since South Berkeley desperately needs more responsive representation in City Hall, I invite all Berkeley voters to join me in writing in Maudelle Shirek as your choice for 9th Congressional District representative. 

Robert Lauriston 

District 3 




Editors, Daily Planet:  

I have lived in Berkeley since 1969. I am a retired teacher. I donated three, three-feet tall Christmas trees to the Berkeley Marina Gardeners 20 years ago. They planted them—now they are 35 feet tall and beautiful.  

Do we value trees?  

Betty Olds may have once led Sierra Club hikes. But she voted to axe 100 mature trees at the Marina. She did not value those trees, hearing that the city got a grant for the wider trail and tree removal. 

Great! We got scarce regional Bay Trail funds before the trail even gets completed around the bay. We delay needed pedestrian and bike freeway crossings to ferry landings and regional parks and other Bay Trail projects while we spend the money on a ispuri trail widening that displaces a hundred trees. Berkeley only had to pay the grant writing staff. Is this what we want city staff for? 

Do we value a green backdrop on the south and west shore of our waterfront to provide a windbreak? Do we value the park quality trees lend to the Adventure Playground, the kiddy beach and picnic tables on the south shore so that the sailing area is not dominated by the asphalt of University Ave. and parking lots? The trees represent the community and ecological consciousness of Berkeley residents who donated living Christmas trees. Some are memorials for lost family or friends. Do we value these trees? 

Betty Olds had her picture in the paper by the creek in her yard. An environmentalist? The creek was choked in Algerian Ivy. 

Worst, Olds voted to allow Beth El to obliterate Cordonices Creek across the street from Live Oak Park. The tree canopy and the favorite local adventure playground at 1301 Oxford is now a graded channel. Olds didn’t even look at the grading and landscape plan before approval. She couldn’t because this applicant was not even required to complete them for the creek area. Neighborhood pleas were ignored because the project suited Betty Olds aid and appointee to the Planning Commission: Susan Wengraf owns adjoining property and is a member of Beth El. How many conflicts of interest is that? 

The Sierra Club fought this outrage to the most natural creek in Berkeley but their endorsement committee must have only heard of Betty’s old environmental activities.  

Enough Betty Olds. Elect Norine Smith. 

Suzanne Schneider 




Editors, Daily Planet:  

The Berkeley Marina is a refuge from city pressures and needs constant protection. Not everyone can afford to go to National Parks. We fortunately can come to the Marina to escape the usual visual bombardment of traffic, structures, signs, signals, controlled walkways, etc. The Marina’s natural environment, it’s trees, plantings, meandering paths, boating activities and stunning views provide restorative qualities. The Marina should not be degraded by installing urban distractions and visual pollution. 

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Periodically, a well-intended group will propose placing some new man made artifact within the Marina as an enhancement. Whether these additions are well designed or not, they should not be allowed. Two such “gift” proposals described below are currently on the agenda. 

The Brower Memorial: 

Even the Berkeley Public Arts Commission has reservations about this sculpture. The supporters of “gifting” this to the city talk of Brower’s wish that this be set in Berkeley. They gloss over the fact that this was first offered to San Francisco, which wisely refused to accept it because it lacked sufficient merit. In other words, it had less aesthetic quality than the ridiculous Bow & Arrow sculpture San Francisco installed on the Embarcadero. We don’t need an even worse embarrassment we have to live with forever. 

This egomaniacal 20 foot high, 175-ton monstrosity with its infantile design is something its sponsors find they’re stuck with. They now want to give it to Berkeley as a “gift.” I doubt that our officials asked for it or had any input on its design and they should not accept it. The Marina is not a dumping ground. You want to memorialize Brower or any noteworthy individual? Name a street after him, name a school, fund a scholarship. Use your imagination, but please don’t clutter up our environment. 

The Labyrinth: 

Unlike the Brower Memorial, the proposed labyrinth with concentric circle patterns for meditative walking is aesthetically pleasing. But this too should be denied a site in the Marina for the same reason. Find another location in the city. People have adequate choices to meditate or simply enjoy escape from a structured environment, on paths of their own choosing in a natural setting without geometric layouts or guidelines. 

To Summarize: 

An administration that would allow the creeping urbanization of the Marina compromises the legacy we leave for our children. Make sure you remember the name of any politician who’d be involved in that. We must be responsible stewards of this waterfront oasis and keep it unencumbered by statues, memorials, labyrinths, mazes or other distractions. 

Don’t turn the Marina into Disneyland! 

Paul Canin 


The Berkeley Daily Planet accepts letters to the editor and commentary page submissions at opinion@berkeleydailyplanet.com and at 3023A Shattuck Ave., Berkeley, CA 94705. Please include name, address and phone number for contact purposes. Letters may be edited for space. S