Letters to the Editor

Friday October 21, 2005


Editors, Daily Planet: 

While many minor issues divide us, on most major issues we stand united. For example, most Americans believe in fairness at the polls. While almost everyone would agree that both sides of a proposition must be allowed to present their case to the voters, Proposition 75 was put on the November ballot simply to silence some of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s harshest critics: our nurses, teachers, police, and firemen. When you slash funding from one side of a debate, the other side has a distinct, unfair advantage. Money buys votes.  

I agree that we need to reduce the big buck contributions that fuel our politicians and propositions, but let’s be fair about it. I would fully support legislation limiting the total dollar amount contributed by any individual, corporation, or union to $1,000 per year. With a level playing field, maybe our politicians would start to care more about us, their constituents, than the corporations currently bankrolling their campaigns.  

Vote no this November and let’s move forward together—fairly. Ask your state legislator to sponsor and support clean money legislation. Google “clean money” for more information. 

Mike Kirchubel 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Point Pinole Regional Park, where Whitney Dotson stands in the photo in the Daily Planet (Oct. 18), is a place more people should explore. The expansive Breuner marsh that Dotson views in the distance is one of many panoramas in this rare breed of park, one that one goes to, less for the park itself, than for the magnificant views. 

There is the Breuner marsh from the south side of the park. The panoramas from the Point Pinole hillside in the middle show the undeveloped shoreline of Marin, while to the north one can gaze on the vast expanse of San Pablo Bay, and the view of the large Whittel marsh on the park’s north east side equals in open space the tranquility seen in your photo of the Breuner marsh. Every effort should be made to save the Breuner marsh from development, not only for the usual reasons of protecting shoreline and stopping urban sprawl, but also for protection of one of the rare places along our bay where you can look in the distance and imagine what our bay was like before urbanization. 

Ted Vincent 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

If LA Wood has anything to support his/her idea that there is such poor air quality to the west of Interstate 80 at the location where the city is proposing to build the much needed new sports fields that no one should exercise there, please provide it. The city is normally exceedingly cautious about such things. Lots of joggers, bikers, kite flyers and dog walkers currently use the pedestrian bridge, frontage road trail and Chavez Park, not to mention the jockeys who work out every morning at the track. If all LA Wood has is an opinion, so what? Every bay boater knows that the prevailing summertime winds are from the northwest except before an incoming storm when the wind rotates to come from the south. Rarely in the winter there is a north wind. I believe that an off-shore easterly breeze is extremely rare in this area especially in the summer when the fields would be in use. Because of the prevailing northwesterly, the air at the bay shore has traveled a fetch of thousands of miles over the ocean and in my experience is always deliciously fresh at the race track and Chavez Park. It is what is so exhilarating about those places.  

Dennis White 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

How quickly we forget, so let me be the canary here. 

The outrage expressed by letter writers over the proposal to develop the parking lot at Golden Gate Fields, is of course heartening. At least some of us still oppose the deification of sales tax revenues. 

But before you glorify the local Sierra Club and Citizens for the Eastshore State Park, can I remind you of their less than tasteful role in all this? 

In August 2004, at a public meeting, Norman LaForce, presented the local Sierra Club’s proposal for the development of this very site. LaForce introduced the 325,000-square-foot plan now being proposed. An upscale Fourth Street-type retail and hotel complex, smack on the lips of the state park which LaForce has been so vocal about protecting from off-leash dogs and unleashed art. 

The deal which LaForce, CESP, local politicians, Magna Corp. and East Bay Regional Parks crafted involved the ball field portion south of Golden Gate Fields. A bunch of extremely high powered lawyers, businessmen and Sacramento style politicians working together for the betterment of all, right? The payoff for the Sierra Club and other so called environmentalists is that they have wrung some concessions from the developers about “open space” and “habitat preservation.” 

But at what cost? To the quality of life for the human beings of this entire area? The reality is that it is the Sierra Club which has brought us the mall at Golden Gate Fields, which will produce more toxic emissions from cars, parking garages, traffic, plastic and Styrofoam than we can possibly imagine. 

But the really toxic emissions are from those posing as protectors of the environment, when the only environment they care about is that which precludes human beings. 

Jill Posener 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

A few weeks ago I argued in these pages that if the Peace and Justice Commission has been packed with persons intent on burying the issue of Palestine/Israel, it is incumbent on the rest of us to engage in dialog about it elsewhere. I suggested that 2006 be proclaimed the “Year of Talking about Israel and Palestine” and that many organizations in the City of Berkeley, both public and private, take part. 

I’m pleased to report that my plan appears to be off to a robust start. Of course hats off to Becky O’Malley who continues to publish both news and a wide variety of opinion with regard to this topic. The range and liveliness of the discussion is rare, and I would be surprised if she is not being subjected to considerable pressure to lay off. 

But there’s more! Not only has the Middle East Children’s Alliance lined up a great fall series including talks by dissident Israeli professor Ilan Pappe on Oct. 29 and award-winning journalist Robert Fisk on Nov. 19, as well as a performance by the Ibdaa dance troupe from Dheisheh refugee camp in King Auditorium on Nov. 26, but other organizations are getting involved. Friends of the Berkeley Public Library is sponsoring a report back from the West Bank by Wendy Kaufmyn this Sunday, Oct. 23, at 2 p.m. in the main library and the Berkeley Art Center is opening an exhibit on Nov. 6 called “Justice Matters: Young Artists Consider Palestine” (through Dec. 17). Many thanks to all for helping to break the silence. 

But if you’re neither Jewish nor Palestinian, why should you care? One, because at least $3 billion of your taxes goes every year to Israel (more foreign aid than to any other country), most of it for buying weapons from the U.S. Some of these weapons are used by Israel, some sold on to other countries, making Israel an essential element of our military-industrial complex. Two, our government’s protection of Israel which permits it to flaunt international law is a primary reason for Arab/Muslim anger with the United States. And three, members of the Bush administration who believed it would benefit Israel are directly responsible for our invasion of Iraq. One, two, three reasons why certain people don’t want the Berkeley Peace and Justice Commission to learn, know, and act. One, two, three reasons why we all must. 

Joanna Graham 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Having just received my mail, in reading the consensus opinions of the leadership of the Berkeley Chamber concerning the November Ballot positions, I find it appalling that this chamber would choose and publish their stand. 

I was naive to think the Berkeley Chamber would be more progressive and support or oppose those propositions that would actually benefit the greater public. My position is no on the first six and yes on the last two but I see by your choices, you are selling out our school teachers, firefighters, police, and union members with your support of Propositions 74 and 75. You are willing to give Arnold Schwarzenegger more budgetary power with your support of Prop. 76 when the example of this unnecessary special election is costing taxpayers upwards of $70 million dollars and is only supporting his own power grabbing agenda. 

Your support of the gerrymandering, Prop. 77, in a non-census year which is an obvious attempt to get more Republican votes out of California, is beyond reproach. The very crooked party that has nearly bankrupted this country, sent us to an unethical war on Iraq, consistently reduces the benefits of our most needy citizens while giving tax breaks to the wealthiest, endangers the environment with its hideous legislation, etc. is typical of the Republican party along whose lines you are supporting. Then you support Prop. 78 when it clearly is a drug company supported charade to squash Prop. 79 which actually could do some good for our lower income citizens. Last, your opposition to Prop. 80 is ludicrous! Non-regulated energy left the door wide open for the screwing we took from Enron, who incidentally are good friends and supporters both of our governor and the miserable excuse for a president we are suffering under. 

Rainbo Graphix will not be a member of any organization that is opposed to the general public interest and you can consider this my cancellation of 

membership. I will expect a pro rated check for my dues and I intend to clean up that unknowingly tainted money by donating it toward the defeat of 

Propositions 73 through 78. 

Beverly Hill  

Owner, Rainbo Graphix 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

The powerful gun lobby is aggressively seeking to pass legislation that will provide unprecedented blanket liability exemption for gun manufacturers and dealers. The gun lobby has pushed for a vote this week that will free them from all responsibility for deaths and injuries resulting from their products. The vote this week is the last chance to stop this reckless bill. 

The House leadership, receiving instructions from the gun lobby, has refused to consider the disastrous consequences of this legislation. Particularly outrageous is that, if this bill is passed, a dealer may no longer be held accountable for knowingly selling weapons to terrorist organizations or cop killers. This is disgraceful and demonstrates the lengths to which Republican House Leadership will go to keep the NRA and the gun lobby happy. 

Dr. Marc Pilisuk 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Although I strongly dislike Gov. Schwarzenegger and don’t approve of anything he’s doing, I don’t think that the Native Americans should be so offended over his veto of the bill that would have taken away the name “redskins” from school mascots. “Redskins” is not a bad term and should not be taken as an insult. The settlers called the Native Americans that because the grease and clay they smeared on themselves to prevent mosquitoes from biting and the cold from getting in made their skin look red. I’m sure many people are not aware of this so I thought I’d write it. 

Hannah Garrett 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

When the imbalance of forces in nature makes an adjustment we get a hurricane, earthquake, tsunami, tornado, fire, flood, etc. It becomes a disaster only if it destroys property and kills people. Such destruction may be widespread and short-lived. In its wake, however, there are bumbling aftershocks, tremors of culpable neglect, slides of incompetence, swirls of profiteering and self-centered political spins—acts of God followed by acts of man.  

In last year’s season hurricane Ivan destroyed the dream home near Pensacola that my sister and her husband remodeled for their retirement. Rebuilding it cost them nine months of anguish, frustration and effort.  

Katrina hit New Orleans with a whammy like that of Ivan and the city might have handled it the way it handled Betsy (1965) and Camille (1969) except that it got hit with extraordinary man-made aftershocks. First, of course, the levees having been allowed to deteriorate collapsed causing a flood that was predictable and predicted. Evacuation was inept and leadership was clumsy.  

The president hesitated, complemented the incompetent and dramatized his empty promises in a series of staged scenes. Rescue was haphazard. Desperation smothered civility so that only the fittest could survive. Those who had nowhere to go and no means of getting there were herded like cattle from the purgatory of poverty into the inferno of the Superdome where they served their sentences and then were carried willy-nilly in bunches to safe, far away and unfamiliar locations.  

Law enforcement’s self-regard grew frustrated, impotent and ultimately lawless. The physically and mentally impaired, the infants, the aged, the hospitalized and the incarcerated had less to lean on afterwards than before. Money poured in but there was little it could buy. Cruise ships provided housing for the rescuers but none for the rescued. FEMA acquired tens of thousands of trailer homes but couldn’t put them in place, food shipments it couldn’t use and paid millions a day for long-term tenure in short-term accommodations.  

My youngest brother and his wife fled New Orleans two days ahead of Katrina. Last week they got their first look at their home; it had been submerged for days in four feet of water and vacant for an additional three weeks. Even before Katrina it was not the home they’d moved into after their wedding because my brother is an energetic and skilled craftsman who added-on for three decades. It grew new bedrooms, new baths, a balcony, a family room, upstairs rooms, a patio, a playground for grandsons. Every inch showed his vision and bore the marks of his toil. It was a place to live in and, like an organism, a living place. But not anymore. 

My brother’s post Katrina possibilities are essentially different from our sister’s. She lost the accumulations of a lifetime—photos, books, mementos, heirlooms, clothes, everything. Her retirement is no longer surrounded by things but by memories of things. My brother’s plight is different. The city of New Orleans is in ruins; the aftershock caused ineffable misery and although the city may live again it will never be the same. My brother’s home, an essential part of his life, is likewise in ruins. His anti-Katrina life is gone and memories of it provide at best a flimsy basis for revival.  

Marvin Chachere 

San Pablo 



PROP. 73 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

In California, small-minded men, Republicans and anti-abortionists, have commandeered the initiative process to bring us Prop. 73. In a farcical exploitation, a minority of religious extremists are trying to force parental notification and their viewpoint on the majority of Californians.  

Prop. 73 has nothing to do with parental notification but is part of an ongoing effort to roll back Roe v. Wade. Religion has bought the election in efforts to force their lopsided morality on women and teenagers. 

Vote no on Nov. 8 and send a message to religious zealots that abortion is none of their business, to remain in their churches, and stay out of a woman’s womb. The decision of abortion is up to a woman, her doctor, her family and her God, not church activists. 

Every law restricting women’s reproductive rights—whether in the form of parental notification, limiting the access to emergency contraception—is a step backward and harmful to women.  

Ron Lowe 

Nevada City 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The Berkeley High School Class of 1975 is putting together a 30th class reunion. The BHS Class of ‘75 30th reunion will be held at the Doubletree-Berkeley Marina on Dec. 31. We have a great night planned so be sure to reserve a spot early. The reunion will begin at 7 p.m., dinner at 8 p.m. and then partying until 1 a.m. We will have dinner, dancing, drinks, and a few surprises! There will be a full-service, no host bar all evening and free champagne at midnight. If you would like to stay at the hotel, you may call them directly at (510) 548-7920, tell them you are with the BHS reunion and they will offer you a discounted rate.  

You may confirm your attendance by joining classmates.com (no charge to be a basic member) or e-mail Marcia (Edelstien) Cunha at mlc22@sbcglobal.net or Amanda (Fahle) Ellis at AMANDA757@aol.com. Please send us e-mail addresses of any alumni who may not be members of classmates.com. We are trying to locate as many class members as possible! 

Amanda Ellis