Letters to the Editor

Friday November 05, 2004


Editors, Daily Planet: 

Inkworks Press, a union printshop, proves daily that union printing is not synonymous with high costs, contrary to the implication in your article on union printing and political campaigns in Berkeley (“Emeryville Printer Wins Big in Election Sign Business,” Daily Planet, Nov. 2-4). For 30 years Inkworks has been meeting the printing needs of the peace and social justice community and progressive businesses by finding ways to reduce costs. 

Most recently we acquired a cutting edge full color press to provide affordable printing on short-run color jobs, using 100 percent recycled papers and vegetable oil inks. By being smart on printing options and working with our customers we demonstrate that union printing combined with a “beyond compliance” environmental commitment makes good business sense. 

Bernard Marszalek 

Inkworks Press 



Editors, Daily Planet: 

Unfortunately, it appears that a government of, by and for the rich will continue for at least four more years. I take a small comfort from the fact that voters in my home state and my home town showed a great deal more wisdom than the country as a whole. 

Michael Fullerton 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Who knows, who can know, how many electronic ballots might have been flipped by the Diebold voting machines? Without a paper trail, like a cash register receipt, election officials can not verify and validate the count. Flipping between one and two percent of the votes would be enough to produce the apparent results. And Diebold’s president is one of Bush’s deepest supporters. 

If any good can come from this election, let it be new regulations to ensure fair, verifiable vote counting. Our democracy is more valuable than partisan politics. 

Bruce Joffe 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

My vote for Kerry was less for him and more against Bush. 

I have been told that Kerry was told he had to say he would continue Bush’s war on Iraq in order for him to win. I never could figure out how Kerry could say the war was a mistake and then say that he would continue it. 

The reasons that Kerry gave for opposing the war in Vietnam were that the U.S. government had lied about it and that it could not be won. 

These are two of the reasons that I believe the war on Iraq should be stopped. 

Had we known that Kerry was going to be defeated we might have chosen Howard Dean to be the candidate. At least we could have listened to some lively speeches. Until the Democrats get control of at least one house of Congress they will not be able to change the course Bush has set this country on. 

Max Macks 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

According to a Contra Costa Times article entitled “Brennan’s isn’t going anywhere” (July 30, 2004), developer Dan Deibel of the Urban Housing Group stated that after the initial construction was complete, Brennan’s might be asked to move to a new location a block away, “but such plans are at least five years off, and may never materialize.” 

When we learned in September that a demolition permit had already been applied for, I and others sought signatures for landmark applications for the Brennan’s and Celia’s buildings. Signers said about Brennan’s, “it’s a Berkeley institution” and “it’s a piece of history!” I realized that the Brennan’s building is a landmark, even if it never receives such designation, and wrote the applications myself. 

Regarding the Celia’s building, which had been the beloved Boy Scout Building when I was growing up, it was a pleasure to learn about its gifted architect, Irwin Johnson, and a delight to interview former boy scouts and Scout Executives. It was a sad endeavor, however, as this charming little building will likely be lost. 

I was chagrined to learn, approximately a week before the landmark hearing, that the proprietors of Brennan’s, the Wades, were opposed to the application.  

No one I have talked to believes that the Brennan’s bar and restaurant will survive moving into a smaller venue with insufficient parking. I sincerely hope that the Wade family receives very generous monetary compensation for moving. If so, they might be the first party in Berkeley to benefit from making a deal with a developer. Remember that there is no Fine Arts Theater in the Fine Arts building. The Gaia building contains no Gaia Bookstore nor Shotgun Theatre, and to this day, fails even to house a jazz club. 

The Brennan’s and Celia’s buildings are in danger of demolition to accommodate yet another neighborhood insult—a lot-covering condo or rental block (its use is undecided). Perhaps out-of-town developers are unaware that the rental market has tanked, even as in-town developers scramble to turn their rental blunders into condos.  

While condo construction might be sensible in areas with insufficient buildings or a growing population, Berkeley has neither. When the first condo colossus opens, we will see how much purchase demand there is for small units in big blocks. Most people want a home attached to a portion of land, while buyers of new condos own mainly sheet rock and air. 

Deibel’s Urban Housing Group is a subsidiary of Marcus and Millichap, a national real estate investment brokerage company. Two years ago, local carpetbaggers were ravaging Berkeley. Now national corporations want a piece of the action. If this project goes through as either condos or rentals, I’m convinced it will be a financial disaster, and only wish that the corporation behind this venture would find a MacDonald’s and a Taco Bell to demolish, rather than part of our history. 

Gale Garcia 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I don’t particularly have an opinion on the merits of Brennan’s as a building worthy of landmark status, but I do have an observation. Under the recently proposed revisions to the Landmarks Preservation Ordinance, no building less than 50 years old that occupies the site of a developer’s application for a use permit will automatically be considered by the Landmarks Preservation Commission for landmark status. The current LPO has a forty year threshold. The proposed new ordinance, now finally being considered by the Planning Commission after a four-year-long process at the LPC, was approved by some of the same commissioners who now seem to vocally favor living by the old standard. What we can conclude, therefore, is that if this 46-year-old building is indeed approved for landmark status, it is very likely to be the last one of its age to gain such approval. And as such it deserves even closer attention than such a relatively youthful building normally receives. 

Alan Tobey 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

It’s election day and I was out shopping. When I exited a middle age woman was sitting by my bike. “Have you already voted?” I asked her. “No, she responded. I’m still thinking.” It turned out she is both a U.S. citizen and one of 2 million Iranian exiles who fled the fundamentalist Iranian regime. I don’t trust Kerry, she said. I asked her why. I’m politically active in the Iranian community and we’ve seen a 12 million dollar check his campaign accepted from the mullahs. That’s not likely, I told her. It’s illegal, and if you’ve seen it they would be caught and exposed. I’ve seen the check, she insisted. I couldn’t convince her it was implausible, an “October surprise.” 

I don’t trust the Democratic party myself. But if the DNC was even thinking of risking the election by accepting money from Iranian clerics they wouldn’t be stupid enough to accept a big fat check signed by an Iranian mullah. That’s just common sense. But not to people who are inexperienced in how the art of political manipulation is applied in the U.S. system; or unaware of how computers can generate phony photos of anything. Carl Rove and his minions apparently had a squadron of people assigned to figure out the vulnerability and gullibility of numerous specific voter groups that might be sold a bill of goods about John Kerry being a threat to them in particular. We all know about the Swifties developed to neutralize the military and veteran vote for Kerry, but how many more of these stories about $12 million dollar checks from militant Iranian fundamentalist Muslims, (or people knocking on your door in the black community in Florida and telling you they can write down your official vote right then and there so you won’t have to go to the polls) are yet to surface? How many before the “other America” realizes their co-dependency in a fraud to undermine our democratic rights?  

Marc Sapir  




Editors, Daily Planet: 

There has been an attempt to obscure the merits of the Point Molate Resort proposal by those with special interest. It is up to us to find out what this resort proposal really means to our community. 

One of the many benefits that the Point Molate Resort will bring to this community is a youth job apprenticeship program. Studies have shown that Richmond has one of the highest unemployment rates particularly among the youth in the state. An employment apprenticeship program will make a huge impact on the jobless rate in this community. I strongly believe that early preparation would lend to more stable career opportunities for the youth. 

Many Richmond youth have not been exposed to mentors, sharing the importance of an education or the acquisition of a trade, skill, or job readiness training. It is surprising to note that many youth surveyed were unable to demonstrate the fundamentals of job retention. These among other essentials skills necessary to advance on the career ladder are offered through our apprenticeship program, and have been proven to reverse the lack of socio-economic responsibility. 

The Point Molate Resort has committed to financially support the proposed local youth apprenticeship program as a way to open doors to a more stable future. Employers such as the building and trades unions have commented that this program “hits the nail on the head,” and welcomes this opportunity to help meet their diversity workforce requirements. Now is the time to implement this program to ensure its success. 

As we examine the positive impacts of the Point Molate Resort, keeping in mind the future of our community, we realize that it rests in the hands of the youth. We have the privilege of passing the torch to them. Say yes to the Point Molate Resort . 

Larry Fleming, 

Executive Director 

Visitacion Valley Jobs, Education, and Training 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The saddest thing about this election is that so many Americans support a “president” who (1) was not legitimately elected, (2) violates binding treaties, (3) puts the profits of corporations above the protection of our health and our environment, (4) waged war without the Congressional declaration of war required by our Constitution, (5) killed approximately 40 times as many innocent people as Osama Bin Laden, (6) has no respect for the United Nations, and (7) is almost universally hated around the world.  

And we are expected to be proud to be Americans? Not at the moment. 

Michael J. Vandeman 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

What went wrong with the recent “election”?  

So many Americans are jumping for joy that Bush was elected that I feel like Cassandra for even trying to point out Bush’s flaws.  

Bush ignored 28 different warnings that 9/11 was about to happen. He cost America over 2 million jobs. He’s run up the largest debt in history, effectively bankrupting America, the richest country in the world. He has exhibited the ethical behavior of an alley cat. He’ll promise anything for cash. And even his cult Christian backers’ worst nightmares—terrorism, abortions and homosexuality—have vastly multiplied in the last four years. And don’t tell me that nobody voted for Kerry—we had voters standing out in the rain in Ohio at 4 a.m. to vote against Bush. 

So. What went wrong with this election? Why were the “official” results so much different from the exit polls? Ask Diebold. Ask Karl Rove. And ask the Americans who voted for Bush.  

“Why did you vote for Bush?” 

“Because we didn’t know any better. Because we didn’t want to know any better.” I feel like Cassandra, standing out in the rain, saying gloomy things while everybody else laughs. 

Nobody else wants to live in a progressive country where Christian values are still honored, our government doesn’t lie to us, the buck stops here—and we still have bucks? Nobody else wants that? Too bad for them. I still do. 

I hereby declare the Independent Republic of 2009 Stuart Street! Stop me if you dare. I have my own army, navy, air force and White House. I even have my own Gross National Product. “Thou shalt not kill” is my country’s motto. I build my own highways and salute my own flag. And I’m not going to recognize the USSRA either! (Unless of course they beg.) 

Is this a good idea? Probably not. 

Got a better one?  

Jane Stillwater 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

There has been some talk in leftist circles to the effect that the flamboyant actions of Gavin Newsom over gay marriage gave the election to George Bush, but that is just another rationalization by the left, in my humble opinion. The real problem seems obvious in retrospect. The Kerrys were just too damn cerebral. Maybe Kerry had guts, but he had a conscience too. Middle America intuited a logic that is probably irrefutable. A measured response to terrorism, no matter how competent, would probably be ineffective in protecting the homeland. It is only the threat of an overreaction by a madman in the whitehouse that has any deterent value at all. As in the cold war, when mutual assured destruction was the doctrine, so it is now. In retrospect, Ted Kennedy was wrong, and Al Gore was right—Howard Dean was the right choice. First of all, he is less cerebral, and second of all, like a modern-day Buddha he would have challenged the whole chain of events that necessitates the doctrine of mutually assured destruction. There is a chance that Middle America might have responded to a sincere argument along those lines, coupled with the sincere argument that was made concerning Bush’s commitment to big business. From Kerry they got only cognitive dissonance on the terrorism issue, and that is what cost him, and us, the election and a chance to radicalize Middle America. 

Peter Mutnick 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

On Nov. 9 the Creek Ordinance will again be before the City Council. A sudden effort to get rid of the 15-year-old ordinance was generated by telling homeowners that they could not rebuild if there was an earthquake. One entity that would want to dump the Creek Ordinance at this time is Congregation Beth El, currently building on Codornices Creek. Five of the nine members of the Planning Commission are currently Beth El members. The plan was to send the Creek Ordinance to the Planning Commission to change and then for council to simply drop the setback requirement without a public hearing.  

Unfortunately the city attorney and top planning staff are not to be trusted. The city attorney was blind to the conflict of interest in proposals to send the ordinance to the Planning Commission. Rather, she identified conflict of interest for members of the Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association that prevented them from participating in the hearings on development of the creek site of Berkeley’s first farm. The Planning Department allowed Beth El to get its permits without submission of grading and landscape plans for the creek portion of the site and did not apply the Creek Ordinance consistently with its stated purposes. 

Beth El should not now be allowed an occupancy permit for their 35,000 square foot erection at 1301 Oxford until a parking plan is produced and approved. In order to accommodate cars attracted by a social hall seating 200 for dinners, they would need to rent parking from Mary Magdalene and mitigate the impacts on that site.  

A landscape and grading plan for the creek portion still needs to be submitted, approved and implemented. The plan should detail restoration of the entire creek on the Beth El site, planted with bay trees to continue the green canopy of Live Oak Park.  

If Beth El continues not to have a parking plan and a landscape plan to continue the creekside tree canopy, they are in violation of their conditions of approval. 

The Chinese Christian Church that had the site before Beth El bought it was not allowed to build anything except a facsimile of the original farm house. On southside, First Presbyterian and St. Johns Presbyterian both had to build underground parking in order to expand. All religious institutions in Berkeley need to be treated equitably. 

Eva Alexis Bansner 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The photo in “Prostitution Opposed, Marijuana and Trees Ignored” (Daily Planet, Nov. 2-4) is not an example of bad pruning, as the caption states. The photo shows a tree with dieback, most likely suffering from root and trunk damage due to sidewalk reconstruction, since the dieback is located mainly over the sidewalk, but also probably from drought, pollution, vehicle impacts, and compacted, poorly aerated soil. Pruning is not the apparent cause of damage, and it is only part of the solution. However, it is difficult to remove the causes of damage; they are prevalent in the urban environment. Urban street trees generally face all these problems, and more. Together, these problems shorten the trees’ life expectancy and diminish their appearance. 

The photo does not support the notion that the city is remiss in its tree maintenance. Rather, it displays a symptom of a financially strapped municipal tree program limited not by a lack of vision, expertise or public oversight, but by a lack of funds. For the public to be helpful to city trees, it needs to support the city forestry staff, not divert authority and funding to a Tree Board. (I’m glad that a majority of voters have agreed.) Short of  

additional funding, what the Forestry Department needs from citizens is to be notified of potential problems and be allowed to establish priorities. Their job is difficult enough without undermining their authority. 

T. Gray Shaw 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Chief Justice Rehnquist’s illness and the doubtful health status of three other Supreme Court Justices prompt me to advocate that the new Congress restrict to two the number of Supreme Court justices that in his lifetime any U.S. president may seat on the court when it has one or more remaining members, and to three should the entire court be extinguished—as may have been planned for 9/11. 

With no present limit, in the worst possible event—total court elimination—one man, the president, would seat nine new justices, all to serve for life, and as they age over many years, offering few changes, except from resignation, impeachments or early death. 

Isn’t that, for the same bleak scenario, far worse than to be served for a maximum of seven-plus years by a minimal Court of three, to increase to full size over several administrations? 

No matter who is President from 2005 to 2009, four Supreme Court replacements loom large as a near possibility, bringing, almost inevitably, sharp acrimony and confirmation “Borking”—unless Congress anticipates, and legislates early the above limits. 

While, with four possible retirements looming, limiting replacements to two could soon shrink the court to seven seats for part of a term or two, it should also, for our present and future, minimize long-lasting Court imbalances and favor there a healthy diversity of views, age, sex, race, ethnicity, and economic class. 

Judith Seagard Hunt 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I appreciate the people who want hookers to be safe in Berkeley, but frankly, I’m more concerned for my own safety and the safety of the neighborhoods we shop in and visit. Father O’Donnell worked very hard with neighbors to rid University Avenue of the violent pimps who were stalking the students who sat at bus stops, like my friend Joyce’s daughter. Both Father O’Donnell and I received death threats while we were standing up to the pimps and the johns. I was accosted on University Avenue twice by young men who assumed I was a hooker (perhaps because I was wearing a red coat?) and found it amusing, since I was quite middle aged at the time, but it was not amusing when a pimp threatened Father O’Donnell with a gun. 

People understandably do not want to shop in areas where women are accosted, nor do we want the problems with drugs that always accompany prostitution. Please do not ignore the dangers to neighborhoods by asking police to non-prioritize the issue of prostitution. Pimps are not friendly guys, in my experience. 

Alta Gerry 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The absentee ballots that we requested well before the deadline did not arrive by Oct. 29. We were leaving town for five days so we went down to Berkeley City Hall on the 29th to vote because we have cast ballots there before. We were very surprised to learn that we could not vote at City Hall. We were given a slip of paper that gave us driving instructions via the freeway to the Alameda County Courthouse on Oakland’s Lake Merritt. No instructions for public transpoirtation were offered. Berkeley promotes the use of public transportation and its access facilities cause many differently abled people, elderly people and students to reside in Berkeley and use public transportation. I wonder how many people who rely on public transport were unable to vote and I wonder who made the decision to require Berkeley citizens to travel to Oakland to cast a ballot? We were told by the Alameda County Registrars Office on the 29th that our ballots had been mailed on Friday, Oct. 29, but we were allowed to vote a full regular ballot on a court house machine rather than a provisional partial ballot. The absentee ballots were not in our mailbox when we returned to Berkeley on November 3. I wonder if they will ever arrive? I trust that the Daily Planet will urge the Berkeley City Council to work on behalf of Berkeley citizens to be certain that we can cast ballots in Berkeley. 

Sally Williams