Letters to the Editor

Friday June 03, 2005


Editors, Daily Planet: 

In July of 1971 I moved into the Elmwood with my 11-year-old son and 8-year-old daughter. Within 24 hours of our move the three of us were sitting on stools at Ozzie’s Fountain relishing our sodas, PB&Js and friendly inclusive banter with other customers and Ozzie alike. I was almost immediately made to feel, along with my children, not strangers, but welcomed new residents. In the intervening 34 years many stores and people have come and gone, but the nucleus of community and neighborhood that the fountain provides has not wavered. 

Ozzie’s is a happy destination whether you have errands to do or not. If you are there often enough you will over time hear creative, cranky, funny, brilliant, bombastic, boring, sobering, political (remember the business rent control petition?) gossip and inspiring talk: You know I could go on—and on! And the kids, oh the happy kids getting endless treats and some coming back as adults five, 10, 20 years later, overjoyed to find the place still going and sharing it with their kids. You can see dogs with great hats, go caroling, help deliver neighboring merchants’ lunch orders, share sadness over the passing of a regular and joy at new babies. No cell phones allowed and great funky artifacts to admire as you chat and chew, or you can read without being disturbed. 

What in heaven’s name is going on that we would let this treasure slip away? There are very few places left for any of us that make us feel that we are an important part of a community. Ozzie’s, through the good and creative care of Michael Hogan, carries on the 82-year tradition of friendship, inclusion, community and neighborhood (and good food!). 

Whatever it takes—go in, talk to Michael, talk to Vickie, talk to each other and find the way that we can all still be together on those red stools! 

Nancy Jaicks Alexander 

Fountain employee, 1976-80 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Robert Clear’s May 31 commentary piece, “The Costs of Vehicle Use,” was very helpful in describing the challenges and tradeoffs involved with urban infill growth. But it contained one inaccuracy—the prospective downtown hotel will not be another instance of UC taking property off the tax rolls. In this case the university is only acting as “facilitator” of a project which will be constructed and owned by a private developer on private land (now owned by Bank of America). At last year’s meetings of the citizens’ task force, established to propose parameters for the project, proponents and city officials estimated the hotel would generate roughly a million dollars in property, hotel and sales tax revenues for the city. 

As for Mr. Clear’s other concerns—building height and lot coverage—we’ll still have to wait and see. An actual proposed plan is due to be revealed within the next couple of months, but on the evidence so far, this project is a rare exemplar of how the city and university can work well together on a mutually advantageous development. 

Alan Tobey 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The Daily Planet’s front-page story about the Albany Waterfront Park—known to aficionados as The Bulb—being absorbed into the Eastshore State Park was a nice lead in to the story on the next page about the Magna Corporations greedy designs for the area right next door to the new state park.  

The mayor’s secret deal with the university—facilitated with the questionable assistance of the city attorney and affirmed by a majority of the City Council—is a disgrace. 

These people in their infinite (or is it somehow self-serving?) wisdom have in essence given the city away to the university. What did they get for their trouble? A few hundred thousand dollars to help the university make a plan for Berkeley’s downtown, two square blocks of which are already going for a university “hotel” and associated complex. And a few hundred thousand more for some sewers and traffic lights.  

We can thank Councilmembers Betty Olds, Dona Spring, and Kriss Worthington for refusing to go along. At least three on the council could see this deal, wreaked upon us by the mayor out of public view, for the disaster it is. 

Sharon Entwistle 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

What America needs today is a Deep Throat II so we can get rid of George W. Bush. 

Molly Fullerton 

Age 13 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice: “This war came to us, not the other way around.” That’s not the way it was. Showing up the lies a Downing Street memo points out that intelligence and facts were fixed and spun to warrant military action in Iraq. The president and America are now reaping the results of this deceit, with U.S. soldiers and Iraqis paying the ultimate price. 

As early as March 2002 British Prime Minister Tony Blair had been told that war with Iraq might be illegal but Bush and Blair were resolved to go to war. 

More than 1650 Americans and tens of thousands of Iraqis have lost their lives based on a falsehood perpetrated at the highest levels of government. Bush has the blood on his hands for those who have died in Iraq and more and more Americans become disaffected daily, having been lied to by the Bush administration. 

Won’t someone please out Bush the way Deep Throat did Nixon! 

Ron Lowe 

Nevada City 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I have for many years had taped to my filing cabinet a piece from the Berkeley Express, dated Feb. 7, 1986, on Marty Schiffenbauer’s (presumably) abortive run for Berkeley City Council. The piece has always epitomized for me the politics of Berkeley in the ‘80s. Asked for his qualifications to represent Berkeleyans, he replied, “I don’t smoke, I jog four times a week, I recycle, floss every night, live in a rent-controlled apartment, listen to KPFA, shop at the Co-op, drink Peet’s coffee, and have never eaten downstairs at Chez Panisse. I sign every petition put in front of me, hang out at the Med, sleep on a cotton futon, have a Ph.D., never shave, almost never watch TV, and my best friends are therapists or lawyers.” 

Sadly, on reflection this morning early in the 21st century, I realized that rent control and the Co-op have gone the way of the Department of Genetics, and the Med is no longer in the forefront of the revolution. My dinner downstairs at Chez Panisse was delightful. My wife’s back can’t take a futon, and we got cable. 

Under my wife’s influence, I jog (at the club), floss (usually), and recycle (same). I do still listen to KPFA via the Internet and NPR, and mail-order Peet’s First Flush Darjeeling (coffee’s not on the Atkins). 

Marty, if you’re still there, how’s it with you? 

Steve Carr 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Someone on one of the Van Hool buses was saying that in Belgium buses are free, so passengers can get on at any one of the doors, not just the front door. It makes sense—the front aisle is very narrow, at the space between the steps to the driver’s seat and the front right seat. It doesn’t look designed for a general entrance. Perhaps someone knows more about this. 

H. Granger 




Editors, Daily Planet:  

The U.S. Air Force has at last popped the question that George Bush II enabled and implicitly invited in his first major deed as president: abrogation of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Defense Treaty, signed and honored by the nuclear powers for nearly 40 years. The Air Force has asked for official U.S. ratification of development of both offensive and defensive missiles in space. 

Since the Air Force itself, after 20 years and 100 billion dollars has demonstrated the clumsy inefficacy of defense systems, the ratification is, most importantly, a signal to proceed with the easier technology of attack. Characterization of the weapons as “precision-guided” sounds spurious, when both precision-guided missiles from the ground and precision bombing have had wide margins of error in much shorter trajectories. 

There is, of course, a solution. It was deployed effectively during the Cold War. The solution is Mutual Assured Destruction. A decision to commit this unfortunate country to development of the Death Star is wasteful and dangerous. Committing the entire world to the inevitable Arms Race is obscene. 

Ariel Parkinson 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I am very interested in learning more about Helen Rippier Wheeler’s comments in a May 27 letter concerning the Berkeley Housing Authority. I am curious about what it is she’s asking for and what her goals are in regarding the “duality structure of the BHA” (Section 8 and public housing). Which tenant member position is vacant? What is not being done that should or could be being done? 

As a senior reliant on Section 8, I am constantly monitoring the shifting sands of HUD across the country, and want to do all I can to help us save housing in Berkeley for those of us who will be suddenly homeless if HUD pulls one of its neocon tricks here. 

Frances Hailman 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

It is sad to think that Berkeley Housing Authority thinks a person does not qualify for a one-bedroom apartment just because it is for just one person. Whoever thought of this idea is surely not thinking of the people and public at all. 

I am a 53-year-old single woman who has raised four children, mostly alone. I have down-sized from a four-bedroom townhouse to finally a one-bedroom just for me, I thought. Last year I lived in a two-bedroom apartment in Richmond, Ca. I was in Berkeley shopping at the Ace Hardware store on University Avenue. I looked up and noticed a “for rent” sign at this new apartment building I had never seen before. I decided to call the number because I needed to downsize to a one-bedroom apartment. I called the number and I found out the real estate company accepted Section 8 vouchers. I filled out the paperwork and it took me awhile, but I got together the $1,500 move-in fee. I hooked up with Berkeley Housing Authority, filled out the long trail of applications, and a representative went to the new apartment on Haste Street to inspect it before I moved in. I moved in on Sept. 4 of 2004. On Jan. 11, 2005 I received a notice from the manager of the Berkeley Housing saying I did not qualify for a one-bedroom apartment, I only qualified for a studio apartment. This was four months into my new apartment. I’ve unpacked and thrown boxes away and I’m just settling in, and I get this notice in the mail. I’ve felt very uneasy and unsettled since then. I know when my one-year lease is up in August, I will have to move. Since when can one person with a Section 8 voucher rent a one-bedroom apartment? I have a complete bedroom set, where am I supposed to put it? I’m missing something here! I’m a very decent person who has a low income and who also has a Section 8 voucher for a one-bedroom. I feel Berkeley has failed me and others just like me just because we don’t have as much money as the next person. I always looked forward to retiring in Berkeley in a one-bedroom apartment. But now I feel so let down by the City of Berkeley. There’s all kinds of programs a drug addict or a disabled person can have access to, but working in special education (for 21 years) and I have a one-bedroom apartment to rent. How unfair can it get?  

Feeling really let down by the City of Berkeley. 

Le Ester Pritchett