Letters to the Editor

Tuesday January 17, 2006


Editors, Daily Planet: 

Perhaps Steve Geller (Letters, Jan. 10) forgot that Berkeley voters rejected a City Council initiative for public campaign financing a short while ago by a huge margin. 

It was rejected because it was revealed that given the present state of our democratic experiment, such public campaign financing with our tax dollars mainly benefits (our) incumbents. Apparently, this prospect horrified an overwhelming number of Berkeley voters. 

Given the Loni/Tom axis, one wonders if Loni’s AB582 is a way to circumvent the will of Berkeley voters. 

Maris Arnold 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

While in his mid 20s, Phil Elwood taught civics at Albany High School. His classes almost always segued into discussions about the contemporary jazz musicians of the day, and on many days, and always on Fridays, after a pro functionary lecture, he’d use a portable phonograph to play 78 rpm records. His collection of records numbered in the many thousands. For many students, this was their introduction to jazz and for some of us, jazz music became a life-long passion as a result of his unbridled enthusiasm and knowledge. 

Michael Yovino-Young 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I found out yesterday that, without any consulting of the community, AC Transit plans to close several bus stops on the No. 51 line through Berkeley. One of them is University/California and the other is Durant/Oxford. There may be others.  

The closures will happen on Jan. 29, which gives about two weeks notice. 

The notices say that this will “standardize bus stop distances” and “streamline service.” 

On one short bus ride, however, I found five bus stop duos that are as close as, or closer than, the distance between the stops slated for closure and the next one down the line. How is this “standardizing bus stop distances?” 

At one stop, mine at University and California, at least 30 people use the stop regularly. Three of us are disabled, including two with mobility impairments and one blind. How is this serving the community? 

The bus service at my stop was already cut 50 percent when AC Transit cut the No. 67 bus, leaving the No. 51 the only bus serving that stop. 

Clearly this decision was made by someone with a map and a pencil, not by anyone who bothered to come and check out the stops.  

I ask bus riders to e-mail AC transit and ask them to not cut the proposed stops. 

Dianne Leonard 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Another tale of woe. I’m elderly so a few years ago I had railings installed on each side of my front steps so I’d have something to hold on to. My mailman refused to put his hands through the railings to put the mail in the box though there was plenty of room. He also refused to climb the three steps to the porch to put the mail in the back of the built-in mailbox. Instead he threw the mail on the porch. On one occasion this included a box of checks which would have been a real gift to any thief. 

I told the mailman I guessed I’d have to put up a new mailbox at the bottom of the steps. He said I couldn’t do that without a permit from the post office and he continued to throw the mail onto the porch. I wrote to the superintendent of the Berkeley system asking for a permit and never got an answer. In desperation I bought and installed the new box anyway. 

Nancy Ward 




To East Bay Express Executive Editor Michael Mechanic, 

I am glad to see that you read the Berkeley Daily Planet, I certainly do faithfully. It is such a blessing to have this interesting, informative and authentically local paper in our community. I’m sorry, but the noticeable decline of the East Bay Express since its sale to the New Times Chain has made it unworthy of my precious time. Frankly, I thought Ms. O’Malley hit it on the head with the “cowboy libertarianism” comment. The common tone of your paper is to sensationalize and de-merit issues like they don’t actually affect the lives of people around here. Chris Thompson is a prime example. His snide belittling of the real struggles of the times is a lot like the ignorance cowboys had of the depth and beauty of the natives they were harming. Puhlease! Real journalism knows the important role it plays in creating a wise and just society. The Express is not at this time. And you even messed up your Billboard section so the paper is useless for the simple apolitical task of helpfully listing local nightlife/events. Maybe your corporate overlords don’t have to visit often as you have quite successfully destroyed our local weekly all on your own. 

Cynthia Johnson 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Dear Mayor Bates and Councilmember Anderson, 

I appreciated reading about the Ashby BART transit village plans in your e-tree newsletter and the Berkeley Daily Planet. As you know, this is a very contentious issue for our neighborhood. 

Your article states clearly that the city does not intend to use eminent domain, yet it's my understanding that the current plans allow for eminent domain within a quarter-mile radius. What guarantee is the City of Berkeley willing and able to make in regard to this particular issue? 

It’s also been my understanding that the zoning for this project would change the overall character of the neighborhood by rezoning for higher density. Your letter again refutes that idea. How will it be possible to re-zone only for the project, but keep the current zoning for the surrounding areas? Again, what guarantees can the city offer in this regard? 

Lastly, so far, it appears the City of Berkeley has done little to support broad community discussion. It’s been suggested that the city withdrew the rental waiver on the South Berkeley Senior Center for the community discussion slated for Jan. 17 at 7 p.m.. How does the city propose to reverse the contentious course that has been set? 

I would like to be able to support this project, but without guarantees on the first two critical issues, and progress on the last, I don’t see how it can develop the broad community support such a project requires. 

Please do whatever you can to address these issues, and perhaps a more meaningful dialog and process can begin to take shape. 

Julie Chervin 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

D. Doulgeropoulos’ letter complains that Berkeley Honda picketers are “paid professional picketers” rather than dedicated picketers. But two paid picketers, Judy Shelton and Jennifer Kidder, spend more hours each week protesting the inhumane practices of Berkeley Honda than the number of hours they are gainfully employed. Another paid picketer is a striking worker. The small hourly wage helps cover some of his living expenses. 

To put the issue in perspective, the more than 50 picketers who protest every week management’s refusal to seriously negotiate with the union do not receive a single penny for their efforts. And they pay their own gas going back and forth. Their compensation is the satisfaction they enjoy for taking a principled stance on behalf of working people who are standing tall and proud against wealthy, influential, and callous business men.  

In addition, many progressive organizations have joined us. A large contingent from the Berkeley Federation of Teachers, including its president and vice president, just picketed at Berkeley Honda. None of them was paid. Nor are members of the UC Berkeley Labor Coalition and SEIU 790, who are joining us on the picket line. The Gray Panthers, Green Party, and the Social Justice Committee of St. Joseph Church are also among our supporters. Members of the Wellstone Democratic Club picket Berkeley Honda regularly. 

S. Doulgeropoulis writes that “I was not interested in anything but having my car repaired, and that I was not going to go elsewhere”. But our wonderful activist individuals and organizations have very different motives for coming to the dealership. Making money as a condition for working on progressive causes is certainly not among them.  

Harry Brill 

Co-Chairman, Berkeley Honda Labor and Community Coalition 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

My partner and I went to Point Isabel on Sunday, Jan. 8. It was a beautiful day and people and dogs abounded.  

My partner was ahead of me when a woman called her dog. The dog tore down the hill and hit my partner broadside, knocking her off her feet. I watched in horror as my partner’s body slammed to the ground. 

By the time I reached her, a stranger was cradling her head, which was bleeding profusely. Several people offered to call 911.  

The dog’s owner sat off to the side, and asked if I wanted her to stick around. I told the woman I wanted her name and phone number, but I didn’t have anything to write with. She said she had pen and paper in her car. She left the scene, and didn’t return. 

Meanwhile, another bystander got a blanket and covered my partner, who shivering uncontrollably. 

The ambulance arrived, and took my partner to the hospital. The puncture wound on her scalp bled for five hours. Her right ankle was broken. She is bruised from head to toe.  

My partner has lived with chronic illness and disabilities for many years. Walking is one of her greatest joys. Point Isabel has always seemed the best of all worlds—great views, bay breezes, and fabulous dogs and their humans. 

While we are deeply grateful for the outpouring of help and concern from many strangers, we are disappointed and angry at the woman whose dog caused the accident. The dog did not intend to cause harm. In fact, she seemed to know something was wrong and nosed and sniffed my partner. The owner was less concerned.  

My partner has osteoporosis and osteoarthritis. She could have broken her neck, her spine, or her hip. The head wound could have caused bleeding in the brain. How could the dog’s owner leave the scene? 

In many ways, we are fortunate. We have medical insurance, and most of our costs are covered. My sick leave allows me to stay home until my partner can fend for herself. Even so, my partner will have limited mobility for the next six weeks. She is not able to use crutches. 

Since Sunday, we’ve heard about two other “fast-moving dog” accidents at Point Isabel. We are both passionate dog lovers. We want dogs to have a place to run and play. However, when dogs are off leash around people of all ages and abilities, there will always be the potential for an accident. As a community, let’s find a way to keep the park safe for dogs and people.  

Nora Hale