Letters to the Editor

Friday December 09, 2005


Editors, Daily Planet: Becky O’Malley’s gloomy portrait of Oakland is not supported by the facts (“Closer to One-Party Government,” Dec. 6). 

She claims downtown business has declined when, in fact, the number of Oakland-based businesses has inc reased by 22 percent since 1999. Entrepreneurs have opened 13 new galleries, 25 new clubs/bars and 40 café/restaurants in this revitalized area. Thousands of people will soon inhabit this zone, and it will thrive.  

On a larger scale, Oakland has bucked a national urban trend by continuing to attract new jobs. Whole Foods, Lexus, Infiniti, Best Buy, Gatorade, Ask Jeeves, Comcast and Niman Ranch are among the major companies that have recently dropped roots here. The city’s employment rate is up by nearly three percent in the past year alone. This is good news. 

Property values have risen by 51 percent in the past seven years. In that time, the city has increased investment in affordable housing by 42 percent. By the end of next year, the number of afforda ble housing units in Oakland will have increased by 33 percent over the 1998 total. Simultaneously, violent crime rates have dropped; the murder rate declined by 23 percent last year. These are positive trends. 

O’Malley’s negative opinions concerning parks and education are similarly refutable by the facts, but I’ll keep this brief: It has become fashionable for a certain embittered clique of ideologues to deny the successes of Oakland in the Brown years. That’s politics. Under Mayor Brown’s leadership, however, Oakland is moving forward at an unprecedented pace. That’s reality. 

Gil Duran 

Office of the Mayor 






Editors, Daily Planet: 

I read with fascination and amazement Zelda Bronstein’s article comparing Wal-Mart to the University of California. Surely she doesn’t believe her own hype. My assumption is that she makes these statements as she hopes to sell more news papers to her local customers.  

UC needs to take dramatic efforts to take costs and inefficiencies out of its business model in support of its core mission to provide high-quality education at a reasonable cost to the state’s citizens. The idea that the university should support Zelda’s preferred local suppliers at very high margins is not the university’s re sponsibility. In addition, did Zelda compare the number of “locals” that Office Max employs compared to her favorite local supplier, or did she compare the benefits provided to Office Max employees? 

Stop worrying about lining the pockets of your local fa vorites, who for years have made a killing on the UC system and its students. 

Stuart Davis 

Senior Vice President  

Enterprise Accounts, Kaiser Permanente 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The Ecology Center certainly does some great things. I’m su re they do an adequate job of running the Farmers’ Market. But their illogical opposition to closing the street for the park at Derby has many people disappointed. They make vague, unsubstantiated claims of ruin if they move 100 feet north to a park setti ng. Is the concrete of a basketball court in the new park any different than the concrete of the existing street? Do a couple less parking spots cancel out all of the increased access, visibility and improvements they stand to gain? 

Farmers who have been in Berkeley markets and the Farmers’ Market at the Ferry Building say the Ferry Building is fantastic. That’s an off-street location. It has great signage and is merchandised and laid out well.  

What is the real reason for opposition to removing a stree t and building a park? Is it that insurance will be required if the markets are on Berkeley Unified School District land? I hope that the Ecology Center has not put that cost of doing business over the eight years worth of kids that have missed out on a p ark. An “Ecology” Center should promote parks and greenspace, not streets. The Ecology Center claims the markets are a community resource. If they are not going to support the community, why should we pay a premium for their products to support them? 

Ber keley has already derailed plans to improve Civic Center park. With the Ecology Center’s backing, the vocal minority that opposes closing Derby Street might see all the obvious advantages of building the best park possible when you have the chance. 

Bart S chultz 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

As a long-time resident of Berkeley, let me suggest that not only should Derby Street remain open but that all the other streets that have been closed off, barricaded, made one way and speed bumped be return ed to their previous states.  

It is apparent that some streets are more precious in this city than others, but as someone who lives on a so-called corridor street I don’t understand why some neighborhoods receive preferential treatment while other street s are forced to take on the re-routed traffic.  

A final opinion regarding street closures and barricades: Unless a driver has all the street barricades in mind at all times, she is often forced to drive circuitous routes to the final destination. This wa stes gas, causes pollution and frustration and adds to the traffic such structures were said to be built to avoid.  

Leave well enough alone and concentrate on matters of greater import, such as the sorry state of the sidewalks, the excessive use of concr ete, and the filth where the City Council apparently wishes the car-less populace to promenade.  

Constance Wiggins  



Editors, Daily Planet: 

Yet again, School Boardmember John Selawsky misleads readers of the Daily Planet. He states that he has looked over city records and that the cost (for two playing fields) at Harrison Park was well over $1 million rather than the $750,000 I indicated. No, Harrison Park, which includes playing fields, cost well over $1 million because it also included a field house ($350,000) and lights ($250,000) neither of which are part of the Derby project. With a simple phone call to me he could have provided the community with the correct facts, but he didn’t. I just don’t see how this comes under his professed p urpose of these letters to the editor: “I can help illuminate.” How does providing poorly researched and incorrect information do anything but confuse people? And this was the point of my first letter: People expect more from a School Board member than unsubstantiated statements.  

This elected School Board member goes on to refer to me as “cleverly avoiding” other aspects of the project. “Clever” has nothing to do with it. I could write a full page on the incorrect factual statements (BHS can use Gilman, fence heights will be much lower with an open Derby, only boys will be able to use the closed Derby field, the Farmer’s Market will be destroyed, etc.) that have been written about this project, but my experience is that longer editorial letters rarely g et published. I comment on those things that I consider most egregious and given what has transpired in this country over the last few years I am totally done with elected officials who provide false information and try to scare people so that they can pu sh their agenda. I don’t object to people arguing against closing Derby. They just need to provide factually correct information, which is not what has happened here.  

Doug Fielding 

Chairperson Association of Sports Field Users 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

There has been quite a bit of discussion about drums allegedly buried on land owned by the Richmond Community and Economic Development Agency, immediately adjacent to the Marina Bay ment. Often there is talk about development of Campus Bay in those same discussions.  

It is true that the DTSC is investigating the area where drums are allegedly buried and they will do their job to protect the Richmond community. It is the DTSC’s responsibility to ensure the property is clean and safe for the Ma rina Bay neighbors, which means it will also be clean and safe for the people at Campus Bay. 

It is not true, as reported by the Berkeley Daily Planet, that a residential development is currently planned for Campus Bay. Cherokee Simeon Ventures, LLC has withdrawn our development application as we continue to work with DTSC. We will not propose any development until the DTSC has deemed the property clean and safe. Also, the Daily Planet incorrectly identified the contractor working for DTSC to investigate the alleged buried drums.  

The necessary steps to make Campus Bay clean and safe for the future are being taken. We are confident the City of Richmond and the DTSC will do the same for the area where drums are allegedly buried. We hope that your newspape r will join in these efforts by offering accurate and unbiased reporting. That’s what it takes to be good neighbors.  


Dwight Stenseth 

Managing Director 


Doug Mosteller 

Engineering Project Manager 


Cherokee Simeon Ventures 

Campus Bay 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I would not wish to engage in a discussion with James Sayre about the right or wrong of the manner in which his yard was either trashed or neatened, depending upon one’s viewpoint; although as a neighbor who walks past his house at least twice each weekday on my way to work, I had begun to find the manner in which the plants, weeds or otherwise, overhung and protruded into the sidewalk space an obstacle to public passage. (Nonetheless, I rather liked the morning glory vine, I mu st confess.) 

I would point out, however, that Mr. Sayre complains that he did not receive notice of the City of Oakland’s intention regarding his yard because the title to his property is still in his deceased parents’ names. Mr. Sayre also states that h is parents have been dead for two years. 

Mr. Sayre seems to misunderstand the workings of property ownership in Oakland. It is not really that the means of contacting concerned parties should be broadened, as he claims, but rather that, if Mr. Sayre wish es to receive such notices in a timely fashion, he ought to conform to the law and register his property in his own name. He will, of course, incur an increase in his property taxes, but in this he will suffer the same penalty as do the rest of us who obe y the law. 

David Brown 






Editors, Daily Planet: 

The House of Representatives passed a devastating budget reconciliation bill that wreaks havoc on millions of working families who need child care. In addition to making deep cuts in health care, child support, and food assistance for the working poor, the bill renews TANF, the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program. To receive assistance, young mothers with young children must now work even longer hours, typical ly in low-wage jobs, increasing their need for child care assistance to ensure their children are in safe and supportive child care settings. 

The House flagrantly ignores the realities of hard-working parents. Current estimates show that by 2010, under t heir plan, 330,000 children from low-income working families (30,000 in California) will lose child care assistance.  

The only good thing you can say about the House cuts is that they haven’t happened yet. The House and Senate still have to work out a fi nal agreement on the budget. They vote this week. A budget bill that punishes working families in this way should be overwhelmingly defeated. Call Washington now! 

Tedi Crawford 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

In reading recent articles on Oakland’s liquor store situation and mainly the histrionics of Oakland itself, there seems to be continual finger-pointing as to the cause of the problems. Just because whites left Oakland and blacks populated it does not mean a “conspiracy” has occurred. The ma in problem boils down to the inability of the black community to police itself and show self-restraint in its activities. If you take public housing for one instance these were nice places generally when they were new. Within several years they became eye sores and hangouts for criminals. The PHA would fix problems and almost immediately they would become run down. 

If the black community would stop waiting for others to fix their problems instead of them taking an active role in the improvement of their c ommunity this problem would be reduced. The Oakland community needs to do something other than complain to every governmental agency you can think of to fix the problem for them and take an active role in doing it for themselves. A lot of the problems wou ld disappear if this were done. Instead it is always somebody ese’s fault and somebody else needs to fix it. It is time to stand up and take personal responsibility for what goes on in your community people, plain and simple. How often do these folks take a pro-active measure to fix the community rather than look to others to do it for them?? 

This is something to really look at before once again complaining to everybody else to fix the problems you have allowed to fester in that community. 

Christopher Fu ller 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Last week was a busy week for the University of California to prove its antagonism toward a happy future. How can such a noble institution filled with so many great educators, employees and students, be run so immorally? It is hard to know where to start. Perhaps the most notable evil this week was the Regent vote to raise student fees, yet again, to enhance the bloated bank accounts of UC’s high administrators. Anyone paying attention has already n oted the radical change of UC’s student body from the diverse best of the state to the elite wealthy. 

Or maybe one might want to focus on UC’s callous disregard for the City of Berkeley and its oh so tedious democratic process. UC is like a cancer that eats into our fine city, expecting Berkeley’s taxpayers to subsidize its services and bow to its newest long range deployment plan, refusing even to toss a bone of mitigation for all the new traffic they propose. Why is this not an obvious priority for UC that they encourage public transportation, providing passes for their student and employees? If they put the money for those empty private buses that circle campus into AC transit, we could all breathe better, literally. 

Or maybe one may want to note UC’s new cockemaney plan to tear down their radioactive Bevetron in the Berkeley hills and drive over 2000 truckloads of radioactive dusty debris through our streets to some other sucker community.  

Or what about UC’s plans to destroy Gill Tract (the only remaining agricultural land in Berkeley), affordable student family housing in Albany and their beautiful community garden. Who comes up with these plans? They are certainly going against the outspoken will of the community! 

Or what about the destruction of the poor people’s free clothing exchange box in People’s Park. Is nothing too low for them? 

With such questionable morality, it is really hard to trust UC with this nations nuclear weapons research! 

It doesn’t have to be like this. Just imagine a sta te university dedicated to educating citizens with the valuable knowledge to create a sustainable and just society. Imagine a university run by elected officials accountable to the tax payers of California. We could have research dedicated toward determin ing the safety and efficacy of technologies in the interest of the citizenry rather than the corporations desiring to profit off those technologies. Imagine a grateful campus, supporting its host city, opening its libraries and facilities to the community, paying its fair share for services to the city and to its own dedicated employees. Imagine a university content with its size and power, which put its resources primarily toward providing a quality and affordable education to any qualified adult. Imagine a state school, void of graft and corruption, which we could all be proud to support. 

Cyndi Johnson 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

People should wonder how would Judge Samuel Alito would rule on the issue of water, if he is confirmed as a U.S. Supreme Court judge. If people are concerned about preserving clean water, they will be disappointed, because Judge Alito, along with his fellow conservative judges, will roll back laws protecting it. The majority of these conservative judges favor the o il, gas, mining, and chemical companies over the preservation of clean water. 

People should understand that clean water is good for the earth. It nourishes the body and mind. If people are concerned about preserving clean water, then they call or write t o several U.S. Senators and ask them to reject the nomination of Judge Samuel Alito to the U.S. Supreme Court. 

Billy Trice, Jr. 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

State law (Penal Code 596.7)requires (in part) that veterinarians subm it reports of rodeo animal injuries to the State Veterinary Medical Board within 48 hours of any incident. I just received copies of the injury reports for 2005: a grand total of one! Can you believe it? Me neither.  

California hosts some 175 professiona l rodeos annually, plus probably twice that number of amateur events. (Inexcusably, the Mexican-style rodeos called “charreadas” are not covered by current law. This must change.) 

The Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) itself estimates that there’s an animal injury, on average, at nearly half the PRCA rodeos. If that’s true (and things are even worse on the amateur circuit), then one would expect close to a hundred injury reports every year. Something’s terribly amiss. 

Current law allows for either an “on site” or an “on call” vet. The “on call” option obviously isn’t working, and animals are suffering accordingly. There should be an “on site” veterinarian at every California rodeo, pro and amateur alike. All rodeos require on-site ambulances and paramedics to care for injured cowboys, and rightly so. Don’t the animals deserve equal consideration? 

Those concerned should write their legislators demanding that current rodeo law be strengthened, and apply to the Mexican rodeos as well. All legi slators may be written c/o The State Capitol, Sacramento, CA 95814. 

Eric Mills, coordinator 

Action For Animals  




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I have recently been elected to the Sierra Club Bay Chapter’s Executive Committee for a two-year term. T his chapter has 40,000 members in four counties (Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, and San Francisco) and a budget of about one million dollars. 

For the last 20 years I have been obsessed with (that is, strong and constant for) what my then-wife called “’applied urban environmentalism.” Although recycling is everybody’s friend, the amount of garbage in the United States is now more than twice what it was on Earth Day 1970; if we treated our air and water like we treat our solids, we would all be poisoned or asphyxiated. Nobody ever anywhere in this country has calculated what the environmental benefits of total recycling would be; think of all the trees to be saved, mines never dug, etc. if we recycled everything. Unfortunately, policy makers defend landfill ing and incineration like cigarette companies defend indoor air pollution; plastic creators and fabricators are indifferent to the loading of plastic granules in seawater at a rate six times that of phyto-plankton.  

As a non-incumbent I was elected to bring fresh interests to the ExCom; please contact me at arboone3@yahoo.com with your comments and concerns.  

Arthur R. Boone  





Dear Gov. Schwarzenegger: 

Today is the day you will hear arguments on the fate of Stanley Tookie Williams. I feel so strongly against the death penalty that I demonstrated yesterday at San Quentin and, along with seven others, was arrested for blocking the entrance. 

Stanley Tookie Williams is convicted of shooting a young man in the back, and this morning on ABC I saw his grandmother talking about that crime. She thought he deserved the death penalty. Like the people of your native Austria, and the entire European Union, I do not believe in the death penalty no matter how horrific the crime was.  

Stanley Tookie Williams, as a convicted murderer, deserves life in prison without parole.  

As the Old Testament says in Deuteronomy: I have set before thee life and death. Therefore choose life. 

Carolyna Marks 


Dear Gov. Schwarzenegger: 

My name is Mariana, and I dont live in California, I live in Chicago, Illinois. I’m 8 years old, in the third grade. I’m writing to you because I found out that Mr. Stanley Williams will be killed for some bad things he did when he was a young man. I read his books, and I know he used to be a gangbanger and that they say he had some people killed. My uncle was in a gang when he was 19 years old, and he has always told me and my brothers and sisters that it’s the worst mistake for a young person to be in a gang. I have two older brothers, 17 years and 22 years, an older sister 16 years, and two younger sisters, 6 years and 4 years. We all hate gangbanging, and will never be gangbangers, because my uncle explained so many things to us, and because of the hard words in Mr. Williams’ books.  

I am happy that “Tookie” wrote all those books for young people. I don’t want him to die. I want him to keep helping young people to get away from gangs and drugs. I dont want to see any of my friends die because they think it’s cool to be in a gang or take drugs. I dont want to die like many other children who were killed just because a gangbanger was shooting at someone else. I dont want to die like the little 4-year-old boy in Ohio, who was choked to death by his gangbanger cousin.  

I know Tookie can help many kids stay away from gangs and drugs. My uncle helped six children to stay out of gangs and away from drugs, and Tookie’s books backed up my uncle’s words. I believe Tookie has saved many young people’s lives by his actions, more than the lives that were taken when he was a young man. If you think he should die after all the good he has done, then maybe you will send a bad idea to children like me. If a person is a drug addict and the drugs make him stupid enough to kill someone, but then he gets help and never does drugs again, and teaches other people that it’s bad to do drugs, is that person still a stupid drug addict? I hear that power is a kind of drug, and gangbangers get addicted to it, and do stupid things. Tookie can’t bring those people who died back to life, and killing Tookie wont bring them back. The death penalty is a bad thing. It kills, just like gangs and drugs. So if a person does something wrong, and tries real hard to make up for it by helping others realize that it’s wrong, does that mean that he or she is worth nothing anyway? Does the death penalty teach anything? How can someone be punished if they’re dead? I thought God is the one who decides when you live or die. I think if you let him be killed, kids like me lose another teacher, and gangbangers lose another enemy. I know you can’t change the past, but maybe you can change the future. 

Will you please let him live? 

Mariana Arriaga, Age 8 

Chicago, Ill.e