Letters to the Editor

Friday October 14, 2005


Editors, Daily Planet: 

I think we should declare a Day of Mourning for West Berkeley for the loss of the arts community at the Drayage Building. 

I am deeply saddened we have lost this small community for artists in West Berkeley. It is a great loss for West Berkeley that this has happened. 

When did we say that profits were more important than people? 

When did we say that artists were no longer important to our community and that we would let the developers and bulldozers destroy a small artist’s community? 

When did we say only consumers were important and that people who actually create are not important? 

When did we turn a blind eye to the fact that maybe an arts community needed protection from the ravages of the marketplace and developers? 

This is a sad day indeed and I hope we are all not naive enough to ignore it, and there should be a Day of Mourning for West Berkeley. 

Betsy Strange 

Painter in West Berkeley 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I am outraged by some of the stupid letters you publish. I hate you, the writers. That the Daily Planet would even have the gall to print a letter from someone like me! What idiocy! This is a waste of space. Also, the rebuttals to letters like this one are also a waste of space, as are the rebuttals to the rebuttal. 

In disgust, 

Richard List 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I am appalled that Gov. Schwarzenegger had vetoed a bill that would have banned the name “Redskins” in both high school teams and mascots. The governor’s veto has shown how insensitive he is toward American Indians. The word “Redskin” is a very degrading term for them. It makes them less than human beings. 

By getting rid of this name, American Indians can have good self-esteem. Gov. Schwarzenegger should be ashamed of himself for vetoing a bill that would have gotten rid of a name that is degrading toward American Indians. 

Billy Trice, Jr. 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Nice photo on the Sept. 20 front page (“Liquor Store’s Demise Spurs Neighborhood Hopes”), reflecting the neighborhood’s mourning, the passing of an era. 

Imagine my surprise when the article had nothing to do with the picture. Imagine my growing irritation as I read. 

Wasn’t Matthew Artz out there the day we painted the wall? Didn’t he write an article, with photograph, praising all the community effort that went into the Southside Shines mural? Why didn’t he talk to some of the neighbors before he wrote the one-sided diatribe? 

And who is Don Oppenhiem and why did he move here? I probably walk past him every day, unless he’s the guy in the BMW who moved in after Christmas. It seems weird for someone to move into a neighborhood and start hating the corner market. 

Especially that one. 

A fixture of the neighborhood, Grove Liquor was actually a well-stocked grocery store by ghetto standards with an old-fashioned neighborliness that will be missed. Many of their customers will have a harder time now, having to go farther away. And we’ll all miss the friendly family that was part of our community. 

As for the Ashby Arts Community, I ask them to look at their location, at their surrounding ecology if you will ... A cafe? A pool hall? Maybe a boutique? Get real! This mostly residential community isn’t likely to support businesses that don’t supply a need. Of course the playhouses don’t exactly cater to the locals either... 

Gentrification? On the southside? That may take awhile. I hope so. 

We still miss the convenience and personal touch of our old neighborhood store. 

The neighborhood itself sees to be changing, too. More litter on the corner, which used to be swept and cleaned daily ... More yelling and “trash talk” on the street, judging by what I hear from my window .... And of course, no more causal chats with neighbors as we pick up our groceries. 

Ah well, times change. We’ll be watching with (vested) interest to see what happens next. 

Elizabeth McDonald 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Zelda Bronstein’s expose of free beer at the Berkeley homecoming game is only the tip of a huge iceberg. The amount of alcohol consumed and the problem of driving under the influence around home game tailgate parties all over campus would be a scandal if it occurred in any other jurisdiction. 

As an employee of the campus grounds department, I have once or twice been required to pick up the tons of tailgate party trash, including empty cases of wine, beer and hard liquor bottles unceremoniously left behind by alumni and boosters who have a funny way of showing their love for UC; drinking and partying and trashing the place, then using the streets and freeways to drive home. And I’m not talking about fraternities. 

If the Berkeley citizenry is troubled by the Honda dealership giving away free beer, imagine what they’d think of all the drunk drivers leaving the football games. And if the police are really in search of evil-doers, perhaps they’d stop harassing gutter-punks on Telegraph for a moment and set up checkpoints on University Avenue and do some breath testing. 

But that wouldn’t work because so many of those drunk drivers are being hit up for funds to build the new stadium. 

Hank Chapot 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Paul Rockwell’s peace movement commentary is really pitiful. Of course, you folks are surrounded by people who glory in oppositional disorder compared to the mainstream views, yet even in Berkeley I have seen times when folks were honest with themselves. Hey, is that cute little shop that sells communist propaganda still open in that little mall area near campus? 

Sheehan may be speaking to your sense of “live and let be,” but if one of those “freedom fighters” from al Qaeda ever showed up at your door, I can guarantee you none of you will be given much respect or concern. The peace movement presently is led by folks who revel in socialist/communist thinking, never mind the fact that these ideologies have been shown to fail in a western, capitalist context. 

I bet at least you’re gratified I took the time to read your little paper. 

John Graham 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

On Tuesday, Oct. 18, the City Council will consider the cost of RFID at the Berkeley Public Library. The total cost of Director Griffin’s new RFID system has been estimated, to date, at $2.5 million, and the number is growing. 

Anyone concerned with RFID, the fate of Berkeley’s library, or the tax dollars we pay to support it should attend this meeting. Sign-up for public comment begins at 6:30 p.m. The council meets at Old City Hall, Martin Luther King, Jr. Way between Allston Way and Center Street. 

Jim Fisher 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Gerta Farber writes that if every American of any color or culture was offered free education beyond high school, it would reduce crime. I question what kind of crime it would reduce. It certainly would not lower the now out-of-control white collar crime that is perpetrated in this country; it probably would not alleviate the number of drunk-driving accidents or occurrences of domestic violence. This reasoning that education is always the answer is nonsense. Finland has a very high level of education and the best social healthcare system in the world—providing from birth until death with free university thrown in. That doesn’t stop Finland from having the highest murder rate in Western Europe according to the United Nations. Crime will happen whether it is done by the most illiterate or the most learned, that is the only truth. 

John Parman 

Baltimore, Maryland 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Neal Rockett’s letter (“Follow the Money,” Oct 11) is indeed “independent of the creed, color, sexual preference, race or ethnicity of all participants” but he quite obviously believes that class is a fair dividing factor. Mr. Rockett claims to be confused as to why the three children born to a mother who has a social worker deserve adequate health care. He cites that the mother does not have custody of her three other children and that the father is apparently not present. The health care needs of infants are not dictated by their mother’s financial standing or marital status. 

I understand that the healthcare industry is far from ideal, but at any rate, these “hundreds of thousands of public dollars” are, in my mind, better spent on post-natal care for three children than almost anything else in the world. 

Maybe Mr. Rockett could address something that is a source of confusion for me. He quotes Deep Throat, urging people to “follow the money.” What in the world does Watergate have to do with three infants born in a BART station? 

Matthew Mitschang 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

It has happened once too often in Berkeley that a trusted Berkeley business has sold out to an out-of-town buyer who forces out the old workforce and replaces it with cheaper replacement workers. While the latest instance is that of Berkeley Honda, I can recall at least one other case from a few years ago, that of Spenger’s Fish Grotto, bought by a Northwest firm that replaced most of its loyal workers. (I no longer dine there). 

But, much worse than any other such anti-labor actions, Berkeley Honda has insulted the community by trying to capitalize on the good name of Jim Doten. The Spenger’s Restaurant buyers, to my recollection, did not claim that their employees and company were partners with Cal, nor that their food and service was equal to or surpassed that of their famous predecessor. Tim Bienke and Steve Hayworth would have us believe that they are kind charitable people who are being victimized by the strikers and their supporters. Those people are only interested in taking their profits out of Berkeley and back to Blackhawk, where they reside away from public scrutiny. 

Business in Berkeley doesn’t have to be non union to be successful, and usually isn’t. We can be proud of our stores, like Andronicos, Peets, Cody’s, for example, or even chain stores like Ross, Walgreens and Longs, that offer goods and services at reasonable prices. We can be proud of the many family owned stores and restaurants that make Berkeley a special place every day of the year. Finally, Berkeley is home to many worker owned collectives that cater to almost every need. 

I cannot drive and will never own a Honda or any other car. But, I support the striking workers there because many of them, like me, live in Berkeley and are part of the community. They, like me, would like to continue working here. Certainly, people who live and work in the same city, like me, spend most of their income here. That’s what community is all about. 

Boycott Berkeley Honda! 

Edith Monk Hallberg  

Labor Commission Member 



Editors, Daily Planet: 

Ron Dellums decides on a whim to run for mayor of Oakland, it seems the minute he stepped up to the podium. . He also decided on a whim to quit his Congressional post midterm in 1998 thus costing the taxpayers of Alameda County close to a million dollars in a slew of special elections. Money much needed in an always cash strapped county. This not the kind of person I want running my city. In short order when he realizes there’s no glory or glamour and loss of family time, he’ll want to move on leaving the citizens in the lurch possibly with a big special election bill. He rarely made public appearances locally while Congressman. He’s lived in D.C. since deserting his office. Is he going to be the absentee mayor, continuing to lobby in Washington while mayor ? Lest you think I’m a Republican or something, I voted for the guy in every office he’s held from city council to congress . However, I will never vote for him again I lost my respect for him in 1998. 

Judi Sierra 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

I am the lead plaintiff in the small claims suit against Lenora Moore repeatedly referenced in your Oct. 11 article, “Residents Look to Neighborhood Solutions for Help.” You quoted three supporters of Ms. Moore, but couldn’t find the time to contact any of the 15 Berkeley citizens suing her for allowing her home at 1610 Oregon St. to serve as South Berkeley’s one-stop drug mart. I hope that you will give me the opportunity to respond to them now.  

Osha Neumann seems to think the problem is solved because of the multiple restraining orders Moore sought against six members of her own family well after our suit was filed. Some restraint! One was arrested with her pocket full of crack just around the corner on Sept. 27. When another was busted for DUI right in front of Moore’s house on Aug. 4, Moore told the arresting officer, according to the police report, that she didn’t want him arrested for violating the restraining order “because the only reason she had the restraining order is because ‘the neighbors don’t like him.’” A third supposedly restrained family member nevertheless spent last Sunday afternoon hanging out in front of Moore’s house, conversing with Moore’s husband and other family members. In addition, a 15-year-old still living at the house, not subject to a restraining order, is already taking up the family drug trade at the corner of Oregon and California. Other individuals with free access to Moore’s house are also actively dealing at and around the house. Obviously Moore’s restraining orders are no solution to the problem.  

Next, one Leo Stegman is quoted as claiming—based on zero evidence—that my aim, and that of my neighbors, is gentrification, “trying to change the make-up of the neighborhood.” As both Stegman and the Daily Planet’s editors are aware, that charge has a clear imputation of racism, which I and my co-plaintiffs, both black and white, flatly reject. Personally, I’m just trying to get rid of the junkies and crackheads, white and black, who throw their used needles into my backyard for my 2-year-old daughter to pick up. I suppose that might be “trying to change the make-up of the neighborhood,” but the Moores get plenty of white frat-boy customers, so is it still gentrification?  

Finally, Andrea Pritchard defends the Moores because they are “Berkeley people.” Well, I’ve lived in Berkeley since 1974—is that long enough for me to be a Berkeley person too? An African-American plaintiff in our case has lived on California Street since 1961—can she be a Berkeley person? She was a plaintiff in the previous small claims suit against the Moores in 1992, the one that ended with a firebomb being thrown at the house of the lead plaintiff. That family had to move out of Berkeley, so I guess they aren’t Berkeley people any more.  

Reminder to the Daily Planet: Most stories have more than one side, and skin color is an indication of neither virtue nor sin. The assumption that it is what we commonly call racism.  

Paul Rauber  




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I’m sitting here at a meeting in Berkeley’s world-famous People’s Park. The acting mayor of Berkeley is here, sitting in a circle with approximately 20 other folks. 

Already the meeting is boring me. It’s about re-building the free-clothing box, a long-term People’s Park tradition until almost a year ago, when somebody burned it. And then somebody burned the new free-clothing box, which folks built to replace the old one. 

Already this meeting is boring me. Already we talked about several ideas such as: contacting “the media” regarding this issue; requesting or demanding that the University of California administrator meet with us regarding this issue; “the destruction of useable clothing”’; building a “coalition”—to include students and nearby residents—around this issue, etc. 

Already this meeting is boring me, and I’m trying to reckon: What can I do to make an impact? 

How about this: Just today, I, personally, got a nice pair of shoes and a nice T-shirt from the temporary free-clothing box which we just today set up. Plus two of the first few speakers at this meeting, “People’s Park regulars”—perhaps homeless or houseless—said that they got all the clothing they were wearing from the free box. 

“We don’t want no more food. We got enough food. We want our free-box back.” 

In fact some folks already—approximately two weeks ago—started rebuilding the free-clothing box. And guess what? Evidently, under cover of darkness, some university security people removed the work which had been done to rebuild the free-clothing box. 

So it looks like a clear case of good guys against bad guys. The bad guys are the university administrators who evidently ordered the partially re-built free-clothing box removed approximately two weeks ago, and the good guys are us: those of use who want to rebuild the free-clothing box. 

This is how I feel regarding this issue. How do you feel? 

Mark Creekwater