Letters to the Editor

Friday June 10, 2005


Editors, Daily Planet: 

It’s a good thing that people do not know that Malcolm X was in prison. Think of all the name changes in schools and programs that would cause. 

Albert R.Levy,PhD. 



Editors, Daily Planet: 

Berkeley ranks number three nationally in a new survey rating the sustainability of American cities. It seems like an excellent rating, until you look at the details and see that Berkeley was rated “sustainability leader” or “moving toward sustainability” on all categories except two.  

On zoning, Berkeley was rated 12 out of 18 (with 0 the highest and 18 the lowest), a rating that is classed as “mixed sustainability progress.”  

On land use, Berkeley was rated 17 out of 18, a rating that is classed as “sustainability in danger.” 

Both these ratings were based on the city’s progress toward smart growth, and they confirm what many Berkeley’s environmentalists have been saying for a long time. Berkeley will not be a real national leader in sustainability until we overcome the suburban mindset of some residents and strongly support pedestrian- and transit-oriented infill development.  

The results of the survey for Berkeley are available at www.sustainlane.com/cityindex/citypage.php?name=berkeley&page=1&.  

Charles Siegel 



Editors, Daily Planet: 

I am a Berkeley landlord, and I allow tenants to have dogs at most of my properties. Not any dog, however. I do not allow pit bulls, and I don’t know any landlord in this city who does. 

When I interview applicants for apartments who own pit bulls, they all seem to be in denial. Pit bull owners frequently tell me that statistics prove that pit bulls are no more likely to bite than most other breeds of dogs. 

Recently, an applicant for an apartment with a pit bull showed me a book containing a graph showing that Lhasa Apsos are three times more likely to bite than pit bulls. I know that is true, but so what? How many people were killed last year by Lhasa Apsos? Has anyone ever been mauled to death by a Lhasa Apso? 

(For those not familiar with this breed, a full-grown Lhasa Apso stands about 10 inches tall and weighs 12 pounds. My sister had a Lhasa Apso, and it bit me several times. Usually the bites failed to break the skin. The worst bite required a small Band-Aid. Lhasas are snappish little dogs, but they are incapable of doing much damage.) 

Here are facts about pit bulls that I have to consider: 

• Last year, 50 percent of all dog mauling cases reported to the San Francisco Police Department involved pit bulls. 

• A recent study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control concluded that pit bulls are twice as likely as any other breed to be involved in a fatal attack, and another study by the American Veterinary Medical Association came to the same conclusion. 

• Most insurance companies will not sell liability insurance on a rental property if they know there is a pit bull on the premises. 

• When someone is mauled or killed by a dog in an apartment house, it is now standard procedure to sue both the dog’s owner and the landlord. 

My advice to anyone who is thinking about getting a dog is this: If you want to rent in this area, don’t get a pit bull. You will probably have a very hard time finding a landlord who will rent to you. 

Mark Tarses 



Editors, Daily Planet: 

The trouble with “Here and There” is that it’s neither here nor there when it comes to recognizing where it’s at. Which happens to be in the heart of a predominantly African-American community. As a piece of conceptual art executed in cool hard edge metal, “Here and There” feels misplaced. If there’s public sculpture in Berkeley or Oakland that reflects the forms and feelings of our diverse neighborhoods, I’d like to know where. Certainly not here. Or there.  

Too bad. It’s an opportunity lost.  

Osha Neumann 



Editors, Daily Planet: 

“The evil men do lives after them....” 

So it will be with the Court of “creatively” anointed, as our “President,” George W. Bush, the Bully Butcher of Baghdad. 

At least a third of our federal courts, and the Supreme Court, are anticipated to have “Bully Butcher”-appointed judges when George W. Bush ends his second term. 

Should we not worry that, even before then, a Bush-dominated Supreme Court may invalidate the Constitutional Amendment limiting presidents to two terms? And/or invalidate the native-born rule for a President, to make way for Schwarzenegger? 

Yes, we are in trouble! A recent decision by our present Court again exhibits the judge’s widely varying understanding of time-honored plain English. Disappointing wineries of New York and Michigan, the Court has obtusely ruled that, despite its clear language—intended to prevent unwanted efforts to apply the Interstate Commerce Clause that would result in violation of state laws—the Constitution’s Amendment 21, that negated Amendment 18, does not supersede the Commerce Clause, at least not for latter-day appellants seeking relevant Court Protection under Amendment 21! Doesn’t the majority of the Court know that, with the help of the “interstate Commerce Clause” restriction of Amendment 21, Iowa stayed “dry” decades after Prohibition repeal? 

Judith Segard Hunt 



Editors, Daily Planet: 

With “For Rent” signs blooming like spring flowers all over Berkeley, I find myself asking, “Is the Berkeley Rent Control Board any longer necessary—or even relevant? 

Found to “regulate” rents when housing was tight, its only function now seems to be to collect the exorbitant fees (taxes) it mandates from owners of rental property in order to pay the salaries of the board members and litigating lawyers it retains. 

Could it not be enfolded into another of Berkeley’s many bureaus concerned with housing? 

For the record, I am neither a landlord nor a tenant, just a 70-year resident of Berkeley. 

Norma Gray 



Editors, Daily Planet: 

I must finally add my comments regarding the Daily Planet’s Police Blotter. I really dislike the tone of the writer. 

Too flip. Too sarcastic. Too cute. Too informal. Too little recognition of the seriousness of the encounters. 

Street crime, domestic violence, and out-of-control anger are serious, not humorous. Crime is serious—not a joke. 

Tedi Siminowsky 



Editors, Daily Planet: 

The replies to Tom Lord (June 7-9) missed the really scary parts of his letter. He admits that Bush’s administration lied about the reasons for invading Iraq, and then goes ahead and uses the lies as part of his justification for the invasion. Wow. Furthermore, he seems to be incapable of entertaining the thought that the administration might be lying or misrepresenting the current conditions and prognosis in Iraq, or anywhere else for that matter. Nor is it obvious from reading his letter that this would make a difference to him if he did recognize the thought. His “get with it” type of remarks suggest thinking founded on “us versus them,” and not arguments based on morality or even rational evaluation of the consequences of our actions. With this type of thinking American casualties are a necessary price for our war on terror, or war to get oil, or whatever, and Iraqi casualties are almost irrelevant. If the support for Bush’s administration is based on the kind of thinking exemplified by Lord’s letter it is going to take a major disaster in the U.S., or massive disobedience or even rebellion to make a change. That is scary. Let’s hope that Lord’s thinking is just an ugly aberration. 

Robert Clear 



Editors, DailyPlanet: 

I am very concerned about the issue of the teen librarians relocating/transfer to the Main Library. These teen librarians do a tremendous amount of work for our community, and especially for our ‘forgotten’ group, teenagers. To clump all of the teen librarians into on building might seem like a nice thing to do for the Main Library Central - but what about for the branches?  

These branches would lose a full time librarian who assists with reference, branch affairs, and with the public. To cut a full librarian from a ever-populated branch merely to bring them downtown and make this central teen librarians group manifest itself into the same successes already seen at the branches is a ludicrous idea. Why do teens favour branches rather than the Central Library? Parking, Parking, Parking.... the ‘business’ like atmosphere of the Main/Central library, and a ‘place’ where teens can hang out—these things are well established at the Branches and work exceedingly well as everyone knows who has seen it happen, or partook in the numerous play-readers and other gatherings that have become apart of the BPL/Community.... you cannot do this at Main? Where are you going to do this?  

To disrupt one finely tuned program to merely consolidate the Teen librarians from the branches—which diseffects both the Teen Librarians, the Branches, and the public—to place them into the business-like Central Main library where teen readership/participation is low compared to the branch populations, is not rational thinking, and is a waste of an already exhausted department. From a patron and member of this Community, this is ludicrous and plain foolish to promote.... leave this part of BPL as is, and mess with some other aspect of BPL that does need work - i.e. the lack of familiarity of the management level personages with fellow BPL staff, the public, and obviously with the branchs, and with the teens themselves. Ask the teens what would be in their best interest, and consider that? Nobody (hardly) ever asks those who are directly affected by such staff alterations, do they?  

Thank you, 

Mark Bayless 



Editors, DailyPlanet: 

Howard Dean tells it like it is - GOP, the Christian Party - and catches flak for it. More correctly he should have said the GOP is the White Christian Party and mentioned that 40% of those who voted for Bush last year don’t believe in evolution. Dean missed the mark by a mile - the GOP has become the Dumbing Down of America Party. 

Ron Lowe Nevada City, CA  



Editors, DailyPlanet: 

Just a couple of thoughts on the article about the Brower Center not having the funds to build the building: 

1. This is the same problem that developed with the Ed Roberts Campus. Economic Development encourages a group, in both cases non-profits, to acquire sites and build buildings, most likely with assurances from city staff that they will find funding sources at the state and federal levels for the projects. Then the organizations can’t come up with all the money needed and the community is left wondering if the organizations will have the ability to maintain them once they’re built. 

2. Contrary to your reporter’s assertion that the Ed Roberts Campus did not really qualify for clean-up monies (the Ed Roberts Campus...which also had little evidence of past contamination), it indeed is likely to be contaminated. It is likely that one reason a decision was made to put a station at Ashby, in spite of it being in a poor black neighborhood, was that the site of the east parking lot had been underdeveloped since Mark Ashby sold his farm. Since the late 40s it was the site of an “aeroplane factory,” including machine shops and painting sheds. Clearly the site may be contaminated by these activities and in need of clean-up if a parking garage is to be built below the existing ground surface. 

Dale Smith 



Becky O’Malley, in her rather charming and bizarre editorial on British town planning and localized housing has missed some really vital points. 

Oxford City Council is indeed in a building boom, planning between 60,000 and 70,000 new homes in areas around Oxford. However, this is not the plan of Oxford, it is the plan of the office of the Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott. It is also very misguided. While the plan effectively will allow cramped city livers to move to suburban areas and give Londoners the chance to have their little weekend or summer house, I wonder whether Becky herself was able to visit any of the present planned communities around Oxford (although she probably went to Royal Leamington Spa, which doesn’t count). Many of these suburbs resemble Danville, that oh-so-pleasant-what-nice-lawns-I-have-to-drive-five-miles-for-a-decent-bottle-of-beer kind of place. Meaning, that despite the forward-thinking investment to save the old city of Oxford from over-development; Oxford and many of the congested cities of the Midlands region have not properly understood the need for infrastructure to sustain these new areas. New roads. New businesses. New bureaucracies. And God, what bureaucrats! Whole departments for dealing with signs for roads; whether stores should be allowed to ban hooded sweatshirts because they may or may not factor into anti-social behaviour; and how they can get more money by lowering the amount of time people should be allowed to park in front of their own homes. You get the picture. Berkeley. 

The real sad thing is that despite the growth that may in fact come to these new towns, they will likely never experience real bona fide local government. Each town will have some splendid name thought up by a guy in London whose only job it is to take two old English words and string a thought together, like the real-life examples of Melton Mowbray, Broughton Astley, Sutton Coldfield and so on. Then the Prince of Wales will visit and declare it a town and the city council will institute taxes and the people who live in these towns will have to commute all the way back to Oxford just to find out why they are being charged so much in council tax and getting so little. 

In the end the editor of this newspaper was just another American tourist taken in by the charms of a British university town with its old churches and teeming museums. One could venture that she stayed at a little B&B and first was shocked and then giggled at the size of the English breakfast that no one here actually eats: two sausages, two strips of bacon, fries, a helping of baked beans, two fried tomato halves, two slices of toast, black pudding (the rare, real treat), and a mug of the worst freeze-dried coffee the world has ever seen. But I bet she ate it all, I know this because she came back to write such a glowing tribute to something as boring to readers as satellite towns. 

As for student living in England, Becky O’Malley should try it. Ignorant landlords who insist you pay with direct debit, faucets that never stop running, potato bugs, and horrible wallpaper everywhere. The only thing I got out of my last student house was full-blown scabies, which I bet hasn’t affected a Berkeley student in 20 years. 

John Parman, Birmingham  




Editors, DailyPlanet: 

Last Saturday midnight, a cop sits on our intersection for an hour with an AR-15, causing us to move our sleeping children to a more interior bedroom. Eventually they find the guy and shout at him, and the paramedics come. Now all we have to worry about is that the guy tossed a .25 auto into someone’s backyard. This literal “Saturday Night Special” is small enough to be anywhere in our kids’ yard, the neighbour’s 2-year-old’s yard or anywhere else, probably with a round in the chamber. I have no idea when that other shoe, the loaded gun, will drop.  

All Police Blotter could manage was a blythe “submitted his wrists to... encriclement”? 

The community would be better served by better information. 

Piet Bess 



Editors, DailyPlanet: 

Current news reports indicate that the president of Bolivia is resigning and that Bolivian oil and gas will probably be nationalized to the benefit of the indigenous and poor people of Boliva. My goodness, what happened to our CIA? Their enormous secret budget should have enabled them to have prevented such an anti-American disaster! Hey, what’s the point of having a CIA if they can’t prevent true Democracies from emerging in South America? 

Robert Blau 




Editors, DailyPlanet: 

So Knight-Ridder has come up with a BDP-killer, the East Bay Daily News, filled with such scintillating stuff as where to find the Prettiest Banker in the East Bay, and (yet) more about Nicole Kidman. I pretty much stopped reading the East Bay Express when New Times took it over.  

While the BDP may not have the level of writing of the old Express, it has some good writing and topics not consistently covered in any other publication. I especially appreciate the back page column by Ron Sullivan. 

The conspiracy-theorist in me wants to see a Knight-Ridder/New Times connection (see  


Here’s hoping you can hang in there! 

Dale Engle?