Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

Tuesday January 24, 2006


Editors, Daily Planet: 

The caption of the “Police Blotter” photo on page four of your Jan. 20 issue is incorrect. The photo shows my son’s car, with the license plate clearly legible. The caption identifies the car as having been stolen, and the driver as the thief. My son’s car was being driven by him; he is not a thief and the car was not stolen. 

My son’s car was struck by a stolen car heading south on Martin Luther King Jr. Way at high speed on the wrong side of the street through the red light, as my son was entering the intersection with the green light heading west on Derby Street. 

The stolen car was driven by another young man who was fleeing from police. The car the thief was driving is not shown in the photograph. 

My son was slightly injured, was taken to Alta Bates Hospital Emergency Department, treated for his injury, and released two hours later. His car appears to have been totaled. He came home to see the photo in your paper identifying him as a thief—literally adding insult to injury. 

The thief was not injured. He was apprehended by the police and taken to jail from the scene of the accident. 

Please correct your error. 

Joshua B. Kardon 


EDITOR’S NOTE: The information in the caption was provided by the Police Department. We regret the error. 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Since I’ve moved from Berkeley some 13 years ago, I’ve noticed how yuppified this place has become. The only two real places left to go in Berkeley anymore (in my humble opinion) are the Berkeley Flea Market and the Berkeley Farmers’ Market. So, it is with much sadness, but not surprise that I hear of officials, armed with big plans, proposing to move each institution to new locations as if they were nothing more than potted plants. I knew this day would soon come. 

The feelings of neighbors and communities have become nothing more than nuisances to special interest groups and developers who continue to enjoy cozy relationships with our elected “representatives.” Because both markets have taken many years to establish, they are now currently at risk of being destroyed. Do we really want to take such a risk in doing so? 

Michael Bauce 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I don’t know how to reach Chris Kavanaugh to thank him for his letter in the Jan. 13 Daily Planet, but I really appreciate it. It’s important for all our citizens to know the history of rent control in Berkeley and other cities. 

Unfortunately for tenants, especially those seeking apartments in Berkeley these days, statewide real estate interests succeeded in undermining rent control in the late 1980s and weakening its tenant protection by turning it into “vacancy decontrol.” In Berkeley, San Francisco, Oakland, and elsewhere, there have been numerous attempts to evict tenants (and further weaken rent control) by phony owner move-ins, and by turning rental apartments into condos and tenants-in-common (TICs). I have lived in my apartment since 1980, and rent control is the only reason I can afford to live in the Bay Area in 2006. The four students who occupy an  

apartment in the same building pay fully three times as much, plus water, gas, electric, and parking fees. 

Thanks to all the elected members of the Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board for your unwavering advocacy on behalf of the thousands of neighbors in this city who cannot buy homes and need low-cost housing. 

Marianne Robinson 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

J. Douglas Allen-Taylor has told the City of Oakland, and presumably by extension all of it’s citizens and the Police Department, that it is “past time for Oakland to confront violence” Hear hear! However, apart from prescribing “serious adult conversation,” he seems equally at a loss for the specifics of what to do as Oakland’s own law-abiding citizens.  

To excoriate Police Chief Wayne Tucker for saying that 60 murders a year would be better than the city average of 80-plus is unproductive and just plain mean. Or does Allen-Taylor believe that reducing the average by 20 deaths would not be an improvement?  

To assert that if there had been more murders, there would have been 132 is a meaningless straw man target that has no place in “serious adult conversation.”  

Glen Kohler  




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Here’s a modest proposal: 

Just so we all have our facts straight and so the debate has some connection with reality, people interested in the Derby Street issue should gather to listen to one another, once at the Tuesday Farmers’ Market and again at a varsity baseball practice or game—this in addition to any hothouse meetings at Old City Hall. 

Such a thing could be arranged by city and/or School Board officials (or by the Daily Planet), but maybe we should run the thing ourselves for a change, perhaps choosing a moderator or two.  

The need to talk is pretty obvious, even to partisans.  

For instance, this partisan notes that Mark MacDonald’s letter (Jan. 20) opposing a regulation baseball field at Derby Street states that “presently (the baseball team) must take a bus to the new baseball field built for them at Gilman Street.” 

There is no field at Gilman Street. Players have to find own their way to San Pablo Park and have to miss at least two classes, in part to wrestle a plastic homerun fence onto the field.  

(Just the mention of a field at Gilman Street is another hint that the powers that be have decided to oppose the Derby Street field and hope they’ll be one someday at Gilman Street. It’s unclear how, if a Gilman Street field is ever built, the players are going to get there; who’s going to pay for the transportation. Will it be controlled by more than one authority; will it need to be leased, and at what cost?) 

It is also incorrect to imply that the team would use the field for just a few league games and to suggest that a small practice field would suffice at other times. There are at least as many non-league, pre-season games as regular games and any team needs a full field to practice. 

But more than any details, just as the Derby Street neighbors must get tired of being called NIMBYs, I get tired of having my son or this family or the kids we’ve known for years being called elitists.  

We should talk. 

James Day 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The ruling Republican Party has suffered casualties recently from its top elected and advisory ranks because of bad behavior: Cunningham, Libby, Delay, Ney, etc.   

I withhold applause and restrain from gloating just long enough to offer these words of consolation:  

 “Party struggles lead to party strength…[and the party]…becomes stronger by purging itself.” 

These words written by Karl Marx in 1852 were cited by Lenin at the top of a pamphlet published 15 years before the Communist Revolution in Russia, titled in translation, “What Is To Be Done?” 

Now, it’s time for the party in power to consider what is to be done about the abuse of power boastfully practiced by Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Gonzalez and Rice.  

Marvin Chachere 

San Pablo 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Roger Marquis’s Jan. 17 commentary on the Berkeley Landmarks Preservation Ordinance (LPO) should act as a wake-up call to all inhabitants of Berkeley’s older neighborhoods, particularly those west of Shattuck Avenue. The ill-considered demolitions that gave rise to the LPO may well return if it is weakened. 

The LPO’s “structure of merit” designation, which the city Planning Department proposes to abolish, is one of the very few government mechanisms through which ordinary taxpayers can hope to influence the meaning and appearance of the built environment that surrounds them. It is an effective means of reminding planners that the quality of neighborhood life should be their first concern, not an afterthought. 

No sensible person would claim that all our older districts contain landmarks of national importance. But most of them are dignified by at least one or two structures of historic interest at the local or even state level. And some districts merit consideration as a whole. In ours, for instance, there are about 1,100 structures, spread over 1.5 square miles, of which some 85 percent, according to a survey made by our group, are over 50 years old—many well over. 

Since nearly all of the lovingly maintained older structures have survived through various degrees of alteration, they would be prohibited, under the Planning Department’s revision of the LPO, from appearing on any list of historic structures that might qualify them for any degree of public protection whatsoever. That would apply even to the 19th-century mansion, built by a name architect, for which the Landmarks Commission, by unanimous vote, has asked us to initiate landmarking. 

Development has already claimed too many Berkeley buildings that should have been saved and reused. If landmarking procedures really delay worthwhile construction, then the city should allot the Landmarks Commission more staff support instead of trying to gut its authority. 

J. Michael Edwards 

Secretary, McGee-Spaulding-Hardy 

Historic Interest Group  




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I read with bemusement Kelley Kahn’s letter in the Jan. 20 issue in which she bemoans the Daily Planet’s coverage as “getting a little sloppy, if not downright erroneous.” 

To which I, as the one alleged miscreant named in her letter, would respond: People who live in vitreous domiciles shouldn’t fling metamorphic projectiles. 

As an example of Planetary blunders, she cites a Jan. 17 story in which “reporter Richard Brenneman would have us believe that Ron Dellums already ran for mayor of Oakland.” 

There’s just one little problem with her that. I, the named offender, didn’t write the story—nor is it my byline that’s on the story. 

The second purportedly erroneous story she cites from the same issue—without naming the allegedly malfeasant author—was in fact my own effort. But there’s a problem here, too. 

To quote Ms. Kahn, “the same issue contains a write-up of an upcoming panel about a new plan for downtown Berkeley. I would like to attend, but the article lists only the location and time of the panel, and not the day.” 

Uh-oh! Major goof, right? 

Well, there one little problem. Consider the very first sentence of the article: “The panel charged with helping draft a new plan for downtown Berkeley will hear from a panel of experts Wednesday. . .” 

Last time I glanced at my calendar, Wednesday was, in fact, a day of the week. 

Which is not to say that I haven’t made mistakes. But when I make them and they’re called to my attention, I also write a correction to set things 


Richard Brenneman  




Editors, Daily Planet: 

My petition for Writ of Certiorari pertaining to the fraudulent settlement of the LRDP lawsuit is now on the docket in the U.S. Supreme Court. The docket number is 05-860. The petition can be viewed in its entirety in my “briefcase,” at the following Internet address: .  

To the best of my knowledge, Feb. 17 is the earliest that the court may decide whether to grant the petition. Those who love justice can pray or otherwise hope for the petition to be granted.  

Do not worry about politics. The goal of all right-minded people is to break down the barriers between the stultified positions of right and left that defraud the people of their true and rightful sovereignty. My petition aims to do just that. It is right on the law, and hopefully that is all that will matter. 

Peter J. Mutnick 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

In a new audiotape from Osama bin Laden (it’s gotta be new because in the tape he mentions the relatively recent revelation that Bush plotted to bomb the Al Jazeera offices in Qatar), bin Laden says stuff like, “We are people who do not stand for injustice and we will seek revenge all our lives. The nights and days will not pass without us taking vengeance like on Sept. 11, God permitting. Your minds will be troubled and your lives embittered.” He has plans to blow up America? We are now going to be living at Ground Zero? That does not sound good. 

What will it be like living at Ground Zero? There are many ways to find out. For instance, you could ask any New Yorker after 9-11, when George Bush failed to heed warnings that could have protected America—to say nothing of all the double-talk about bad pilots we have gotten out of Bush since.  

What is it like living at Ground Zero? Ask anyone in Iran. The Bush bureaucracy and its allies in Israel have been threatening to blow up that country regularly since the Supreme Court first gave the White House to GWB in 2000. People in Tehran have been living at Ground Zero daily for years. 

What is it like living at Ground Zero? Ask anyone in Iraq. Everyone there knows that when they leave their home in the morning, they may never come back. And even if they don’t leave their home in the morning...they still may never come back. 

What is it like living at Ground Zero? Ask any Afghani. In the past 25 years, the U.S. government has paid the Taliban to bomb Afghanis, paid warlords to bomb Afghanis, paid the Northern Alliance to bomb Afghanis and then went and bombed Afghanis themselves. 

What is it like living at Ground Zero? Ask any Palestinian. In 1947-48, 450 Palestinian farming villages were destroyed by Zionists and it has gone downhill from there every since. Today, there are 40,000 home demolition orders out on Palestinian homes. If you are a Palestinian, you never know when you leave your home in the morning if it will be there when you come back. 

What is it like living at Ground Zero? I hope to God that Americans, unlike all those poor schmucks in the Middle East, will never have to find out. And I also hope that the Bush bureaucracy will finally figure out that bombing the Middle East only adds fuel to the terrorists’ fire and that Bush will finally use what little sense God gave him and stop it -- so that we can finally go back to forgetting about Osama again. 

Jane Stillwater