Letters to the Editor

Tuesday August 23, 2005


Editors, Daily Planet: 

Let me get this straight: Grad student of several years Devin Pope lives in a two bedroom apartment with a bay view close to campus with free parking for only $900 while I pay more than that for a one bedroom place with no parking a few miles from campus and Pope is whining that he is being treated unfairly? Pope is whining that his life is going to get oh so difficult? Just what does he have to complain about—that he will no longer have additional free parking for visitors? My god, he should shut the hell up and be thankful for the handouts he is getting already. 

I have a question for Mr. Pope: After several years of studying, when are you going to graduate and get a job and stop being a parasite on society because I’m tired of my taxes supporting a whining child who’s mad that he isn’t given everything free year after year while the rest of us work for a living? 

Mark Stillman 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

A huge thankyou to Matthew Artz for covering UC Berkeley’s latest anti-family action, the new parking fees and the elimination of visitor parking for families at Smyth Fernwald. I would like to call attention to the dubious statements made by Nad Permaul, director of parking and transportation for UC Berkeley, who indicated that the university is trying to “treat students fairly across the board.” Permaul neglected to mention that student families who live in Albany Village pay nothing for parking, and have ample spaces for their visitors. Smyth residents were told that since we live close to campus, our spaces are “desirable” for students to use, and that is why they are being made available to the general student population. Some student families pay, while other don’t? It isn’t fair, it is exploitative. 

Furthermore, students who live in other dormitory facilities around the campus at the very least have street parking for their visitors—something that is sorely lacking near the hilltop community of Smyth Fernwald, which is nestled at the tip-top of Dwight way, with most buildings at least two blocks from a city street, straight up hill. 

UC Berkeley is not considering the needs of student families when it makes decisions such as these. I was told by Mark Miller, associate director of parking and transportation, that there were no financial or neighborhood impact studies performed to assess the hardship these changes will place on students who are trying to support their kids. Most of us are now recommending that our friends applying to grad school go elsewhere. 

Elizabeth Bremner 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Reading all of these points of view (Cohen, Wornick, etc.), my old head is in a swirl until I begin to get a glimmer of understanding. The prickliness, antagonism and arrogance stem from pain and fear. I am reminded of W. H. Auden’s telling us in his moving poem “September 1, 1939,” “Those to whom evil is done/ Do evil in return.” 

The first evil our society does is to our children. Every woman should have access to birth control information so she need have only a chosen child, preferably with a man who knows that every child deserves to have his basic needs met in a loving home. Otherwise, the child is warped from the outset by mistreatment, poverty or neglect. I remember a client’s saying to me, “I wish I had known about Planned Parenthood years ago. My husband would never have left me if I hadn’t had ten children.” Though other evils are perpetrated as well, this basic one, in the light of today’s knowledge is inexcusable and unacceptable. 

Dorothy Headley 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I and many other Berkeley residents are very dismayed by the contentiousness surrounding the Peace and Justice Commission. This commission periodically and predictably erupts on the scene, causing unnecessary ugliness and ill will. There are a multitude of local issues to argue about, discuss, and resolve (such as land use, crime, taxes, budget, education) without developing expertise and policy on foreign policy matters, particularly on questions, such as the Middle East, that create great discord and disruption of the peace at home in Berkeley. 

On balance, the Peace and Justice Commission does more harm than good, and I would support any initiative to disband it. 

Barbara Gilbert 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

California’s Democratic Party can’t seem to look outside the box—offering us political hacks like Angelides and Westly, whom no one knows or cares about. Meanwhile the GOP ran Reagan all the way to the White House and was planning to do the same with Schwarzenegger until he stumbled. Looking for star power, some friends and I immediately thought of West Wing. Martin Sheen is too obvious—and President Bartlett had some story line problems. No, the obvious choice is Allison Janney—a tall, smart, striking, articulate, commanding presence. Everyone loves C. J. So let’s all say it together, just to see how it sounds: “Janney for Governor — Thrive.” 

Jerry Landis 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Your article failed to capture the uniquely Berkeley results demonstrated by standardized testing. Every neighboring district that adds significant resources to state funds showed a high pass rate. Uniquely Berkeley with its unprecedented decision not to actively enforce residency has achieved a high cost but low pass rate school district. The special policy of Berkeley schools, an experiment in non-enforcement of residency so to use the schools to promote social justice, is undermined by these results.  

It is time to establish the priority of creating a productive learning environment for residents. Non-residents (about one-third the student body) can be welcome when they perform to grade. High percentages of non-resident students who do not meet minimal grade achievements undermine every aspect of the school district. Albany, Piedmont and Orinda have substantial residency validation offices. Berkeley has none. A PG&E bill is all it takes to gain over a hundred thousand dollars of cumulative tax payer paid service. We need leadership from BUSD to achieve better schools. There must be a sensible middle ground in this, the most important education policy issue. 

David Baggins 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I should like to respond to Daniel Magid’s letter of last Tuesday concerning the “war” between the Beth El community and the Live Oak Codornices Neighborhood Association (LOCCNA). Although I cannot claim to speak for LOCCNA, my home is immediately opposite the site of the new community center, and so I am an interested party. 

Firstly, this is not a “war.” Trying to be melodramatic or to relate this debate to some sort of religious conflict is escalating a simple issue of neighborliness beyond what it merits. 

The fact is that Beth El has built a very large building on a rather small site and that they have not provided sufficient parking to support its intended use. That is the argument. Period! 

It is irrelevant that Beth El have been in this neighborhood for 60 years. 

It is irrelevant that their existing, smaller, building may attract only a modest number of congregants. The new building has been designed with ten classrooms and a large meeting hall, and is intended to support a membership of several hundred people. This can be seen clearly by any passerby. 

I personally rather like the idea of a mixed neighborhood, where houses rub shoulders with community centers, churches, shops, parks, etc. Such areas support life: If I wanted homogeneity I would move to El Dorado Hills! But part of the livability of a mixed neighborhood comes from the ability of the different components of the society to get on with one another. There has to be a certain amount of give and take, without any one part swamping the others. 

I do not see this attitude in Daniel Magid’s letter; I see no concern for more than his immediate congregation. He talks of the need to provide encouragement to his membership to park responsibly as being “draconian,” and objects to the need to measure the actual impact of their parking on the neighborhood. If his claim is correct that the on site parking is sufficient and that the parking impact will actually be decreased, then I should have expected him to welcome measurement, since this will vindicate him. Or not! 

LOCCNA has placed great emphasis on the restoration of the creek. I think that Mr. Magid and his community deserve praise for what they are doing on behalf of the creek, even though it was actually required of them and has yet to be fully successful. The creek was indeed in a poor state when they took over the site and over the years I am sure that an active community will find it in their interests to look after what is after all one of the greatest assets of the site. Although I would have preferred to see the site added to the existing Live Oak Park, a well maintained creek, with its natural plants, animals and fish, is a part of what makes a great neighborhood. 

Ultimately, I suspect that the parking issue will take its natural course: If it becomes too hard for the Beth El community members to find parking near to the site, or if the proposed off-site parking schemes prove to be unworkable, then the members will stop coming to events and the membership will naturally reduce itself over time, as it has already done as a result of their reaction to the construction and cost of this monstrous building. It is in Beth El’s interests to recognize this and to do what they can for all concerned.  

This is what neighborliness and respect is all about, and is the message of the street signs. 

Bob Mackay