Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

Tuesday March 07, 2006


Editors, Daily Planet: 

The Feb. 28 article on the release of the Sugar Bowl Casino environmental impact statement (EIS) was absurdly pro-casino developer. You neglected to mention the fact that the report was commissioned and paid for by the Florida developers bankrolling the casino.  

There are gaping holes hidden in the several hundred pages of the report; notably absent is the economic impact of crime and gambling addition on surrounding communities. The upcoming federal hearing on the EIS report is a chance for the often-ignored community members affected by the casino to be heard. It will take place on March 15 at the Richmond Memorial Auditorium from 6-9 p.m. Three large community groups opposing to the casino will be present with many concerned local residents. The current plan calls for a 2,000-slot-machine and 225,000-square-foot casino, one of three Vegas-style casinos proposed for the East Bay, so your voice is critical.  

Casino San Pablo, located only a few miles from the Sugar Bowl site, already has 820 slot machines, with plans to expand to 2,500. Facts on the ground paint a dark picture. According to the city and county records, police calls from Casino San Pablo increased almost 500 percent since the installation of slot machines in July, while the number of ambulance trips increased by more than 200 percent. Imagine the problems that would affect the East Bay if all three giant casinos were built. 

East Bay residents who don’t want the crime, traffic and social problems brought by urban casinos, should take a stand for their community and attend the March 15 hearing. Even if you live in Berkeley, your voice is important: call 465-8230, or e-mail for more information or to join the fight. 

Dean Marshall 

East Bay Coalition Against Urban Casinos 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I missed the article on motorcycle parking in your Feb. 24 issue, but was alerted to this by Evelyn Giardina’s subsequent letter. Let me add my $0.08 (adjusted for inflation), based on empirical experience. 

Until last year, I owned a small business on Telegraph near Ashby which had two parking spaces in front. Imagine my surprise when I went to visit the new owners and found that both spaces had been converted to motorcycle-only slots, as well as several others up and down the block. 

When I owned the shop, I don’t ever remember seeing a motorcycle parked anywhere near my business. (Nor do I remember seeing any motorcycles circling the block looking for a place to park.) The current owner told me he has seen maybe one or two bikes parking there since the change was made. 

To whoever dreamt up this new policy, I want to say this directly to you: you’re an idiot. You give plenty of ammunition to those who hate government and bureaucracy, who characterize them as being slow, inefficient, incompetent and generally out of touch with reality. (I’m not saying I believe this, but I’m starting to wonder). You ought to do the honorable thing and just resign. 

David Nebenzahl 

North Oakland 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Two things wrong with your headline “California Ravens: A Unique and Complex Species.” The first is that the California raven is not a species, but a population, as the article itself makes clear. The second is the redundancy of “unique species.” Each and every species is unique; that is what makes it a species. 

Ken Brower  




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I was delighted to read Joel Eaton’s piece on California ravens. Most of the year, I live in Maine, Bernd Heinrich territory, and our ravens are, indeed, wary and unapproachable. I think of them as being very shy; it takes forever for one of them to learn to trust us enough to hop onto the deck and sample the dog kibble we put out for him. 

Joe Eaton talks about ravens modifying their behavior as they learn about their environment, but he says that as far as he knows, there is no evidence of tool use by ravens. 

I don’t know whether you would call an automobile a tool or not, but a year or so ago, I read about some ravens in Japan who line up on the curb of a busy intersection, and wait for the light to turn red. They then hop out into the street and line up nuts they have collected off a local tree. Returning to the curb, they wait patiently. After the light has turned green, and cars have run over the nuts, the ravens wait for the next red light, and retrieve their dinner.  

(Only a seasoned raven observer would give any credence to such an outlandish tale, but personally, I believe every word of it.) 

Anne Folsom 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Maybe you would have room for more letters if your correspondents learned the virtue of being succinct. As I learned long ago from a prominent editor: The first and last paragraph should be enough to state the case and sum it up. So I read the first and last paragraph of most Planet letters that interest me and then I have time for living life.  

Constance Wiggins  




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Before Osha Neumann (Feb 24) continues blaming the new left because “the inability of the secular democratic movements to deliver on their promises opened the door to fundamentalism,” he might remember there were other forces that wiped out the left parties and only dealt with right-wing religious groups—the United States and the Brits.  

As to the cartoons, Neumann might read the well-documented journalistic explanation how the cartoons managed to be published and why in “The Caricatures in Middle East Politics” by James Petras and Robin Eastman (the article, from Abaya, Feb. 19, can be read online). 

The editor of the paper that published the cartoons is a Ukrainian Jew who was forced to resign and he left for Miami Beach, not Ukraine. The whole story is most intriguing and important. When in doubt about the “smoking gun” or “the facts,” I ask the question: Who benefits from the event (or the cartoons)? Which country or group of people wants to create a hateful response to Islam and pit the western capitalist Judeo-Christian countries against he Moslem-Arab countries? 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

I was cheered by seeing the UC Berkeley students on your front page! And it is such an excellent cause—protesting sweatshop labor practices. 

Ardys De Lu 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I’d like to draw your attention to an error in your recent front-page article, “Albany Mall Foes Generate Ballot Initiative.” Despite what Robert Cheasty keeps on saying, it’s not a mall. It’s a mixed-use development, containing a new park at the waterfront, restored beach and pier, new park at Fleming Point, upscale retail and restaurants, a new YMCA building, public gathering spaces, restored and expanded wetlands, a farmer’s market, and housing.  

In a democracy, it’s important for your readers to be fully informed; so please refer to it for what it is, a mixed-use development containing many desirable features for the enjoyment of the waterfront. 

Trevor Grayling 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

As an advocate of free speech, I understand your decision to accept ads from Scientology. But if you think Scientology is harmless, think again. 

You say Scientology operates in the realm of ideas and beliefs because you are unaware that they sometimes hold individuals against their will, like Lisa McPherson; that participants must sign waivers permitting Scientology to do so; that dozens of Scientologists have met suspicious deaths; that many members are dissuaded from seeking medical care, despite Scientology’s public claim of a “firm policy of sending sick parishioners to medical doctors to handle the physical aspect of any illness or injury”; and that their bogus drug detox program, Narconon, involves toxic levels of niacin and is based on such pseudoscientific nonsense that its drug “education” program was kicked out of California schools. You’re probably also unaware of cases of Scientologists raping children, and church executives in those cases illegally directing the distraught parents not to report the crimes to authorities. 

Scientology’s practices affect all of us, not only Scientologists. Scientology’s CCHR (whose Los Angeles gala was recently attended by Mayor Newsom) lobbies against mental health parity bills. Scientology has vowed to completely eradicate psychiatry. Scientologists want to impose their beliefs on your medical choices. Scientology’s coercive push into the workplace thrusts Scientology practices on reluctant employees. 

Scientology answers your question, “What if every church decided not to follow laws with which they disagreed?” Eleven top Scientology executives went to prison in the United States for breaking into government offices and stealing documents ; the church itself is criminally convicted in Canada for similar crimes. Scientology operatives have infiltrated police departments, the Coast Guard, the Justice Department, the California attorney general’s office and newspapers—and those are just the cases we know about. Members carried out orders to steal documents from doctors’ and lawyers’ offices and the Ontario Medical Association. 

Unlike your paper, unlike me, Scientology does not embrace free speech. Journalist Paulette Cooper wrote a book about Scientology. Scientology framed her by sending bomb threats to themselves—FBI raids uncovered the written, step-by-step programs to frame, harass, and terrorize Cooper. Those raids also found the documents directing Scientology’s attempt to frame a Florida mayor for hit-and-run. These are implementations of “Fair Game,” a policy the church claims was canceled in the ‘60s; yet in two 1980s court cases, Scientology attorneys claimed it was a core belief and deserved First Amendment protection . 

Scientology lies and defrauds every day, and gets away with it; in fact, Scientologists are rewarded with a tax exemption no other U.S. citizens get. As journalists, at least you could take the time to learn a little about the advertisers you defend. 

Kristi Wachter 

San Francisco