Letters to the Editor: Berkeley Honda

Friday July 29, 2005


Editors, Daily Planet: 

My name is Muhammad Elbgal and I am the son of Mr. Nasser Elbgal who owns Grove Market at 2948 Martin Luther King Jr. Way. I am writing to ask that your newspaper please make a correction in the next edition on two accounts.  

First in your article entitled “Arsenal Found in Adeline St. Apartment” you mention that the owner of Black and White Liquor store is also the owner of Grove Market. This is wrong: Mr. Banger (owner of Black and White) does not own Grove Market; he owns the building in which Grove Market is located. We at Grove Market do not deserve to be affiliated with what happened at the Black and White Liquor store, so please let your readers know that your paper has made a mistake.  

Secondly you quote former City Council candidate Laura Menard as saying that neighborhood activists have been trying to close Grove Market and that we are a problem store. This is also not the case. We have worked hard to maintain a good relationship with our community and we are not a problem store, as Ms. Menard has said.  

Also we are not located in North Berkeley; we are located in South Berkeley. So if Ms. Menard has made a mistake we ask that you inform her of this. We have had nothing but support from our neighbors and customers and it is wrong to say that we are a problem store if there is no evidence to back up that claim.  

Thank you for your time and we are hoping to see some action taken on this matter. 

Muhammad Elbgal 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I want to put in a good word for the Grove Market. I don’t think they have anything to do with what happened to the other store. And the bust of guns and drugs may not have anything to do with the store. 

Grove is two blocks away, and shouldn’t be associated with what happened in that apartment. The people who run Grove Market are just trying to make a living, and are a service to this community. I like going there more than having to hassle with Berkeley Bowl, which is expensive (I go to Canned Foods, much more economical) and is also a human beehive, though they make some good burritos. 

Seriously, I don’t think Grove Market should be threatened like that by “neighborhood activists” because of something that happened two blocks away and that had nothing to do with them.  

John Delmos 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

My husband and I don’t always agree on political matters. 

While Ms. Taubenfeld is certainly entitled to her own opinion, I think it would have been ethical to point out when she wrote defending Albany City Councilmember Robert Lieber that she is married to him.  

She has written two recent letters. If she writes on a topic such as homeless kittens, I see no problem. 

If she writes again defending her husband’s point of view, I respectfully request that the Daily Planet mention her marital status. 

Marsha Skinner 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

As one who has been associated with KPFA since its inception in 1949 as a member, supporter, volunteer programmer and producer, and member of the unpaid staff organization, I would like to make two observations about the station’s current state. 

It is not my experience that there has “always been a running battle between (paid) staff and the general manager.” I would invite listeners and reporters to ask the three general managers preceding the current one if they had problems with paid staff. Paid staff is hungry for a sensitive general manager, as the documented complaints against the current one would indicate. 

I would like those who speak of “entrenched paid staff” to consider what they are saying. They are talking about people whose career is radio, who have jobs at the station. Isn’t it better that we have a seasoned experienced staff that establishes continuity, that understands radio and is proud when they do exceptional work in it? I’d hate to go to a restaurant where the cook was changed every two months and the waiters were learning their job. 

I have utmost respect for the current paid staff at KPFA. I see them as serious, hard working professionals of integrity who produce outstanding radio under onerous conditions. 

Adam David Miller 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I enjoyed my voyage through Tom Lord’s fantasy world (Commentary, Weekday edition, July 19-21). 

But, like many fantasists, his must also be subject to a reality check. 

So, I have a proposal for Mr. Lord: I will personally deliver to his home (or to a neutral setting), one month of the West Contra Costa Times. I recommend turning first to the editorial pages. Believe me, you will be shocked, shocked, at the viciousness of many letter writers, our very own red staters, at the name calling and blame heaped on the word “liberal.” This exercise should end once and for all the notion that progressives need apologize to anyone. 

And I will alternate for one month the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, so Mr. Lord can inform the readers of the Daily Planet where exactly these blue state papers show liberal tendencies, and encourage superiority toward red staters. 

And perhaps, after reading all of this, he might be clearer on the difference between “neocon” and “progressive.” 

Sandra Shamis 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

Many patrons and many citizens of Berkeley have been writing and speaking to the Board of Library Trustees for seven months now with no satisfactory resolution of the issue of the involuntary and inappropriate transfer of the teen librarians from their respective branches to the main library, and I feel it is important to notify more citizens in Berkeley what is going on here. 

The Berkeley Public Library director has so inappropriately wished to execute her desire to initiate a teen program at the main library, and for several reasons in the past has failed, but now wishes to wreck what has been a marvelous program at the branches where the respective teen librarians have worked diligently for the last decade. 

Why wreck a good thing at the branches to begin what has failed before at the main library—and for the same reason as before: parking, business-like environment, and not teen-friendly to their needs as compared to the branches which have these attribute built in for many many years (if not decades)? Why wreck the entire Berkeley library system by rotating the teen librarians to promote a program that in its current design is flawed and poorly planned, and also does not have the support of the staff as it is currently planned?  

This dire mistake the library director has planned to move on in the near future is a farce. I am on the side of the teens and the teen librarians on this one, and strongly oppose the director in her actions. Should this plan move toward its completion, I will turn in my library card and urge everyone I know in Berkeley to do the same. 

Mark Bayless 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Doesn’t anybody care that arch Zionazi Henry J. Kaiser dumped his Richmond factories of death and destruction into the bay creating what is now known as the Albany Bulb? Walk along the shoreline at low tide and check out the tons and tons of heavy industrial waste that was dumped as close and as cheaply as possible. 

If you’re really adventurous visit the interior; if you see any steel pipes coming out of the ground, get close and take a whiff. There is some real nasty stuff buried under there. No wonder the fish aren’t edible. 

Henry J. Kaiser Co. is responsible and should have to pay a big fine as well as clean it up. This is a good indicator of the character of the people who drafted over 10 million men to do their dirty work in Europe and Asia. More civilian workers died—58,000-plus—in World War II than all American casualties in Vietnam. Thank you Rosie, hope you enjoyed the good times with the Big Bands and all. 

Ronald Branch 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Allow me to weigh in on the Brenneman problem. The first time I picked up a copy of the Daily Planet, I was amused by Brenneman’s take on small-time crime in Berkeley. But the more editions of the Planet I read, the more I appreciated your paper for its intensive and lucid covering of the day’s news—certainly not just ol’ Berzerkeley. The Planet is a serious piece of journalism. And in this context, Mr. Brenneman does come off a bit facile. Maybe some other publication—not the Planet. With no disrespect to Mr. Brenneman, 

Madeline Smith Moore 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

Well, I haven’t been this jazzed in a long time. I have always known that Ignacio De La Fuente was a slime and could not even comprehend how we were going to have to suffer at least four years of him as mayor of Oakland. Yeah Ignacio, all of us homeowners still remember the Raider mess you left us saddled with, plus messing over a few unions on your way to get things done your way. 

So here comes a wonderful ethical solution, a petition to Ron Dellums to run for mayor of Oakland. An ethical honest man who I respect. Where the daylights are those petitions? I want to sign and I want it right now. A Google search was worthless on the subject so I am relying on you guys to point me in the right direction. My husband is cheering too as he gets nauseated when the subject of De La Fuente for mayor comes up. 

Carma Winfrey-Hayes 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

Ah, I was somewhat sorry to see no “parking lobby” people at the special City Council meeting Monday July 25, as the council voted the go-ahead for the David Brower Center. 

If they had been there, they could have heard what was music to my ears, and perhaps believed it, because they had heard it. 

Nevertheless, I still heard:  

The second parking level would expose the city to much greater risk, because of the water table being too high at that depth, to much greater risk than the $6 million the second level of underground parking would already cost.  

As Councilmember Spring noted, that $6 million comes from the closed after-school centers, the collapsed city budget, and could be raised well enough by a downtown Business Improvement District fee.  

What perception? What reality? 

Claire Risley 



BRUCE BOLT, 1930-2005 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

The July 26 San Francisco Chronicle carried an extensive obituary for Bruce Bolt, the seismic scientist, recounting the contributions he made to our community, state, and nation. An important facet of his story concerns his interest in art. In his role as president of the Faculty Club on the Berkeley campus, he was instrumental in the establishment of a collection of art of the Berkeley School on permanent display in the Faculty Club of the University of California. The collection presents works in oil, fresco, watercolor, gouache, sumi, egg tempera, and charcoal of ten artists who were active in that school from 1930 to 1950, which had a great influence on the progress of art education locally and nationally. 

The development of the collection had its beginning in early 2003 when Bruce Bolt, knowing that I was a member of the art department, asked me what I might know about the large fresco on a wall of a dining room in the Faculty Club which was not attractive because a glaze of green color had be painted over it. I told him that I had seen the fresco when a student in the late 1930s and that the original colors were brilliant. No one knew why or when the green glaze had been applied; a guess was that it presented male and female figures in the nude and this was found offensive by some club members. Bruce asked me to make tests to determine if the glaze could be removed. Tests showed the glaze to be in distempera and could be removed. I had had experience in restoration procedures and, with two assistants, I removed the glaze and restored the fresco to its original, 1930, glory. 

This led Bruce to approve my suggestion that a collection of works by artists who were confreres of the painter of the fresco, Roy Boynton, be installed in the same room. The room today houses works by Eugene Neuhaus, Worth Ryder, who joined the faculty in 1927, and was largely responsible for the appointment of the other members of the school: John Haley, Margaret Peterson, Erle Loran, Chiura Obata, James McCray, Mary Dumas, and myself. 

Karl Kasten 

Professor Emeritus 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I just finished with page nine of the July 26-28 Daily Planet, devoted to commentaries on the library’s use of RFIDs. Pretty much a complete waste of paper. How about doing an accurate, unbiased, information story on RFID? Before the Aug. 1 forum would be good. 

I think the library may have been sold a bill of goods when they got into an RFID-based system; there are some serious questions as to whether the RFID technology offers any real advantages to a public library. However, all I see about it in the Planet is the usual Berkeley-esque politico-babble about something that is, at bottom, a technical issue. And what the writers say about the technology itself seems to be ill-informed and poorly understood. 

The library went and bought a high-tech solution to a low-tech problem, and at this point should be looking for a way to cut its losses. The concerned citizens deserve some solid facts—wrangling about hypothetical problems just makes everyone involved ineffectual. So how about some real information for a change, Daily Planet? From somebody with some actual knowledge who doesn’t have to rely on “studies” (unidentified) which are “emerging” (someplace). Maybe somebody who has actually done and published a study? and/or someone who has actually implemented an RFID system and used it?  

More light, less heat. Act like a real newspaper. Are you up to it? 

David Coolidge 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Thanks to Matthew Artz for an excellent article. 

Well, what else is new? Zionist money subverts City Council...yawn. 

What would make a great story is how a Zionist comes to own the trademark rights to a Mexican-Californio legend, rights which make him no doubt extremely wealthy, and provide him with the base from which he can carry out successfully these threats to get people. 

How about asking John Gertz about this? 

Mark Richey 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The point of Laura Menard’s July 26 letter, “Rose Colored Glasses,” was difficult for me to understand. She did make clear she is against, “thug life,” schools teaching about the Black Panthers and youth advocates speaking to high school students. 

She describes a youth advocate telling a “tale” of “utter nonsense,” in which black males experience discrimination and where something called three-strikes results in life imprisonment. She does not mention Proposition 21 and how that affects youth, or that black youth have a better chance of winding up in prison than in college.  

She would probably accuse me of telling nonsensical tales when I lament that as a society we continue to spend less on schools and more on prisons, almost dollar for dollar. Incredibly, those of us who see the discrimination and inherent racism still existing in our society she accuses of wearing rose colored glasses.  

The one thing she is in favor of—police dogs being used on our youth—she claims would be “moving Berkeley out of the tired 1960s rhetoric.” Some of us are aware of our history and have no desire to see attack dogs being paid for with our tax dollars. It is worth noting that despite the tragic shootings and real drug problems that exist in Berkeley, the violent crime rate is at something like a 10-year low. 

Further, programs that treat drug addiction, teach job skills to youth, and provide positive alternatives to teens, have continued to show more efficacy in reducing crime then incarceration. Is my wanting our city to treat these problems in an efficient way what she means by “the politics of blame”? I don’t know; what I do know is each time I read her statements on the problems and challenges our neighborhoods face and her proposed solutions, I am grateful she was not elected my neighborhood’s councilmember. 

Neil Doherty 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

In response to the editor’s call for stricter gun control after the recent murder of the Dartmouth student, I urge your readers to think with their brains instead of relying on knee-jerk ideology. The young man that allegedly committed the murder already was carrying a handgun illegally. It was illegal that he fired his gun it into a group of people on a city street. He murdered a girl, which is illegal. He illegally left the scene of a crime. I doubt that his gun was legally purchased and registered. One more restrictive gun law would not have stopped him. He is not a law-abiding citizen.  

I am a law-abiding citizen. My gun is purchased legally and registered. I go to the shooting range to practice target shooting and to be familiar with my firearm. I take my daughter there so she will be skilled as well. I have lived with a gun in my home all my life. Guns do not jump up and kill people. A loaded gun could sit on my nightstand for 100 years and never commit a crime. Criminals commit crime. The real test for gun violence in the home is not whether there is a gun in the home, but whether or not there is a criminal in the home or you socialize with criminals. Enacting more restrictions (Berkeley already has some of the most restrictive gun laws in the country) will not make anyone safer. Allow me, and all law abiding individuals, the freedom to own firearms to protect ourselves and truly prosecute severely those who commit crimes.  

If all homes had to place a sign in their window stating either “I am unarmed and won’t defend myself” or “I own a gun and I know how to use it,” statistically, whose house do you think will be robbed?  

Vicki Larrick 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I read with interest Joe Eaton’s well-written and informative July 26 article entitled “Inescapable Predation: Part of Life in the Food Chain.” As the founder and president of the Hudson Valley Raptor Center in Stanfordville, New York, I share with Mr. Eaton his awe of nature. But it seems to me that Mr. Eaton has failed to mention that we “ern” humans are also predators. While we, for the most part, no longer scale trees to pull baby woodpeckers from their nests, we do drive to the supermarkets to pick up our preferably fresh killed quarry to bring home to our families. It is this lack of connection to life on the food chain that I, personally, believe fosters a sense of superiority amongst us humans in relation to other animals. Might I climb out on a limb here, for just an amusing second, to suggest that if martens, great horned owls and other so-called predators had supermarkets they certainly wouldn’t be above using them. And, on a more sober note, I would venture to say that it is competition for prey and not morality that drove our ancestors (and modern man as well) to their zero-tolerance policy for predators. 

Dona Tracy 

President, Hudson Valley  

Raptor Center 

Stanfordville, NY 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

In his July 26 letter, Mal Burnstein asserted, “We should be discussing which taxes do the job most fairly and successfully, not how to avoid taxes altogether as Fred seems to think we ought to do.” This was in response to my July 22 letter, in which I wrote that the concept of club dues “applies only to taxes on real estate, especially land.”  

As I wrote, land-based dues, such as the assessments paid by members of a condominium, are in direct exchange for services. For many reasons, dues based on land value are the best source of public finance. I would like Mal Burnstein to explain how my proposition—that a land tax is most like dues—logically implies his claim that I stated that we ought to “avoid taxes altogether.” 

As to the statement of Mr. Burnstein that “the poor should be protected from excessive property taxes as well,” how would a person who owns valuable real estate be poor? Moreover, a tax on land value cannot possibly be excessive, because the price of land would go down to make up for paying the tax. If all the land rent is taxed, the land value drops to zero, and what the landowner pays in taxes is offset by what he does not have to pay in mortgage interest. The net tax burden is zero. 

Fred Foldvary 




Editors, Daily Planet:  

It was shocking to read of the enormous number of weapons, ammunition and explosives that were found only by accident by the Fire Department near the liquor store in Berkeley. And that machine guns were a part of this cache reported by the Daily Planet in the edition of July 22-25. I found it both interesting and disturbing that in this very same issue was a follow up account of the tragic shooting of Meleia Willis-Starbuck by her friend and letters (some hysterical) from members of the National Rifle Association advocating people owning guns. Where in the world and how did such an arsenal including machine guns get into Berkeley ? If this bizarre collection of guns and ammunition was only found by accident one wonders how many other such collections exist in the Bay Area and how many will be used. 

Max Macks 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

As a (now senior) swimmer for over 20 years at King and other Berkeley pools, I am dismayed by the threats of pool closures year after year. It appears that a significant factor in these pool closures is BUSD’s failure and refusal to contribute any funds for pool maintenance. The school district cries poor, but it is obviously maintaining a brand new pool it just built at the high school, from which we community swimmers and the students of King and Willard have been excluded. 

I am even more dismayed that BUSD feels the aquatics programs are expendable for middle school students. Swimming is an essential life skill for physical and mental health which all children should have the opportunity to learn long before they reach high school. Where do championship swim teams come from, if not from the middle schools? Not to mention swimming as a healthy alternative to video games, substance abuse and the growing incidence of tragic violence we are witnessing among young people right here in Berkeley. 

When I was a kid, neither my community nor my school district could afford to build a pool, let alone staff and maintain it. Only when the local college opened its pool in the summer did I discover that swimming cured my chronic depression. I was suddenly motivated to get to the pool by 8 a.m. and have been swimming happily ever since!  

That the Berkeley Unified School District has existing pools and thinks nothing of building a new one, but places bureaucratic wrangling over the needs of its middle school students is shameful! Although my children have long since graduated from Berkeley Schools, I still pay taxes and want them used wisely. According to the City of Berkeley Parks and Recreation Commission, the cost of a 10-week session at King Pool is $36,000. Surely the BUSD can come up with this paltry small sum to keep kids swimming for even one semester out of the year. In the process, this will serve the entire community and help keep the pools open. A pretty good bargain for the money! The city and community are eager to work with the BUSD to solve this problem. For BUSD to do otherwise is short-sighted and mean-spirited. 

Paula Wagner 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

How come the Daily Planet includes gender information when describing assailants in the Police Blotter? Doing so gives readers the fanciful impression that nearly all violent crimes are committed by males—a statistical impossibility since more than half the population is female. 

P. Wooton 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Spruce Street below Rose has been designated as a residential street by the city. The Residential Traffic Calming Program developed by the Planning Department has developed a policy of directing traffic away from residential streets and onto collector and arterial streets. The Beth El Temple does not address this issue in its plan. Their traffic plan does not discourage traffic from entering our neighborhood street and, in fact, Beth El has applied for “G” parking permits (Spruce Street south of Rose) when it is located in the “H” parking area.  

It is good that Beth El has been able to secure satellite parking, but Beth El can do better. They can use on-site, frontage and assigned satellite parking as a first option. Neighborhood parking should be a last resort. The temple can also rescind its application for “G” parking permits. This more effective parking plan would add less traffic to the neighborhood.  

A more effective parking plan would provide “assigned” parking to all congregants based on where they live relative to the temple. For every event, invitations should include parking instructions with indications of assigned satellite parking. For example, if a family lives north of the temple, then it will be told to use Lot B, Lot C or Lot D, whichever is closer to its residence. If another family needs parking in closer proximity, because of disabilities, seniority or some other extenuating circumstance, then it will be assigned parking either on-site or on the frontage. Beth El’s plan calls for someone located on-site at the temple to direct parking on the day of the event. This will lead to unnecessary circling of the neighborhood streets and unwarranted traffic, as vehicles pass by for instruction. Instead of a single monitor, they should also have monitors at the satellite parking sites. Congregants should drive directly to their assigned lot, if that lot is full, then the monitors can direct them to alternative lots.  

I hope the city enforces its policy to protect residential streets and requires Beth El to provide a plan as stated above. Beth El should do this because it has built, against the neighborhood’s wishes, a huge regional temple with the possibility of drawing 800 congregants from throughout the Bay Area to our neighborhood.  

Linda Trujillo Bargmeyer