Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

Friday May 05, 2006


Editors, Daily Planet: 

I was surprised to read that the City of Berkeley may increase parking on residential property (“Contentious Lawn Parking Law Revision Delayed,” May 1) while decreasing traffic lanes on Telegraph to provide dedicated lanes for buses. Seems like they are asking for traffic jams. It is classic case of departments working against each other. How about a coordinated effort? People need incentives to get on the bus, not disincentives. Or, forget the bus and provide for plenty of parking. 

Sally Levinson 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Oh my god. Carol Denney is actually cussing out Andy Ross for whining too much and having too much access to the press (Pepper Spray Times, May 2)? If that isn’t the most blatant example of the pot calling the kettle black. Denney gets two pages a month in the Daily Planet, and I’m sure she isn’t paying for it. And all she does is whine and bitch and complain—this woman NEVER enjoys anything in life. 

And you might tell Carol to ease off on the cops arresting shoes and sweaters in People’s Park joke. Once was sorta funny, and now it’s just an example of how her creativity is gone. It’s bad enough that she is irrelevant—does she really want to be repetitive and boring as well? 

George Boulder 

Walnut Creek 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I happened to open the Sept. 16, 2003 issue of the Daily Planet. Check out the cartoon the cartoon on page eight. Things haven’t improved! I wonder how far “Pedro” could get today on the same wages. But on the other hand maybe he wouldn’t even have a job now! We are not becoming a nation of peace-makers or even civil civilians. The rich continue to get tax breaks and the Pedros of the nation suffer more. 

How sad. 

Wendy Markel 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Regarding your article, “Berkeley Schools, Businesses Affected by May 1 Boycott”: So—many restaurants and businesses closed (did the absent workers get paid?), 77 percent of students and 40 percent of teachers abandoned their classes at the Berkeley Alternative School, a large group of students entered BART illegally (hmm, does that word sound familiar?), and so on. 

I believe that adults who wish to stop working in order to “demonstrate” have a right to do so (and take the consequences for their actions). However, teachers who can’t see through the hype/thrill of “taking it to the streets” are betraying their students. These young people desperately need to attend schools where they will receive the education required to succeed in this ever more complex and competitive world. 

If every employee in every Berkeley restaurant were to decide to boycott their work, we would survive (and probably loose a few pounds). However, if Latino students and their teachers are contemptuous of education (by which I mean the three R’s), and disregard the legal system (stealing from BART), we have a serious problem. 

Bonito Tovar is quoted in your article as saying in regard to the out-of-school students, “They are the future.” I’m rather afraid he is correct, and that future doesn’t look very bright. 

Chris Gavin 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The Berkeley Honda Labor and Community Coalition is very appreciative of the tremendous support that our community has given to the 10-month long strike and boycott of Berkeley Honda. We are very happy that after waging one of the longest strikes in auto dealer history, the Machinists and Teamsters unions have won a contract that guarantees Berkeley Honda’s workers decent health coverage and a defined benefit pension plan. 

The community’s efforts were crucial in supporting the striking workers and in putting pressure on Berkeley Honda. We commend the nearly 50 unions and community groups who organized rallies, the hundreds of individual picketers, and thousands of would-be customers who honored the picket lines. During the strike, community activists held nearly 100 rallies with the infamous giant rat, distributed thousands of posters and leaflets, and volunteered over 3,000 person hours on the picket line, rain and shine. Working closely with Berkeley Honda’s striking workers, we sent an unmistakable message that the people of Berkeley will defend unions and the fundamental rights of workers, no matter how long it takes to win recognition and gain a contract. 

The coalition is also aware that this contract is only as good as it is enforced. The rehiring provisions of the new contract give the former Doten employees the right to return to work—but to a large degree only to the extent that business picks up at Berkeley Honda. So we are asking all customers who have honored the boycott to now return to Berkeley Honda to do business. We need your help to call on Berkeley Honda management to do everything in its power to facilitate a speedy rehiring process. We encourage returning customers to express their support for the prompt rehiring and fair treatment of the former Doten employees. 

Let’s get all the Honda car owners in Berkeley to go back to doing business with Berkeley Honda. And let’s make sure that Berkeley Honda knows that the community is paying attention. We will continue working to support, and we very much look forward to seeing, a thriving union shop at Berkeley Honda again. 

Harry Brill 

Jon Rodney 

Michael Kaufman 

Jennifer Krill 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I couldn’t agree more with Jill Posener’s May 2 letter to the editor. When the “race card” is sloppily and haphazardly employed to justify and condone every manner of dysfunctional behavior, it just strips the “race card” of its moral currency. And someday, when real racism rears its ugly head—as it will—the “race card” will have been so devalued that the Berkeley liberal will be looked at as nothing but “the boy who cried ‘race card’ one time too many.”  

Peter Labriola 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Thank you for your recent article (“Seeking a New Look for Downtown Berkeley,” May 2) detailing the proposed design options for the Downtown Berkeley BART Plaza area. The City of Berkeley’s Transportation Division would like to encourage community members to view the designs on our website at and to provide comments and feedback to myself, Kara Vuicich, at 981-7065 or Anyone who has difficulty viewing the design options online should contact me as well.  

Kara Vuicich 

Associate Planner, City of Berkeley  




Editors, Daily Planet: 

As usual there are two sides to every story. With respect to your Berkeley High Small School Community Partnerships Academy (CPA) article, here are some of the facts you did not print:  

1. CPA has been a small school for two years now and was a school for “at risk” students for 14 years before that.  

2. CPA had a 100 percent high school graduation rate for the class of 2005.  

3. CPA had 93 percent of its 2005 seniors go on to post-secondary schools. This included quite a diverse group of colleges such as Yale University, UC Berkeley, UC Santa Cruz, Cal-Poly Pomona, San Francisco State, Morehouse, Spelman, Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, Culinary Institute of America and local junior colleges such as Diablo Valley and Contra Costa.  

4. The freshman class has an average GPA of 2.74 out of 4.0. In particular only 4 out of 60 freshmen had a GPA of less than 2.0 out of 4.0. The lowest GPA was 1.7 out of 4.0. The highest GPA was 4.0 out of 4.0.  

CPA is a college preparatory Berkeley High small school that is very successful at getting its students to go on to prestigious and competitive colleges and universities. It integrates its students into a college preparatory program that teaches them through community agency internships such as with Children’s Hospital why academic rigor is important. You should take a look at CPA’s website ( and talk to its directors (Annie Johnston and Flora Russ) for more complete information. I further invite you to do an in depth article to look at all facets of CP Academy in particular and the Berkeley High small schools in general.  

Richelieu Hemphill 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I enjoyed very much Becky O’Malley’s editorial “Singing about America in many tongues.”  

Well I have to say I agree with Dubya in one small way: singing the national anthem in Spanish is blasphemous; indeed almost as blasphemous as singing it in English. It is widely conceded Francis Scott Keyes’ lyrics were set to the tune of a British Navy drinking song, lending credence to the other widely held belief Keyes was three sheets to the wind when he penned the lyrics. In order to sing this song properly one must be well on their way to inebriation. 

As an African American I would be against Black America allowing America to adopt our national anthem. Already we’ve contributed too much to this country without compensation. What America should do, in the spirit of democratizing unfettered globalization is to adopt as a national anthem “The International.” I’ve included a modernized stanza below. 


Stand up, all victims of oppression  

For the tyrants fear your might  

Don’t cling so hard to your possessions  

For you have nothing, if you have 

no rights  

Let racist ignorance be ended  

For respect makes the empires fall  

Freedom is merely privilege extended  

Unless enjoyed by one and all  


Jean Damu 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Paul Rauber is right about one thing. 

Guys with uniforms and guns should be handling the problem of drug dealing in our community. Then the Alameda County district attorney’s office should make stay away orders part of the convicted drug dealers probation. These stay away orders have been used for years against homeless people who have been convicted of such crimes as sleeping, sitting, etc. These guys with guns and uniforms would better be used in this instance than being deployed at People’s Park to attack and intimidate those that would help the disadvantaged. While the boys in blue were spitting in my face and brutalizing me maybe they could of been helping out Paul and his friends. I make no apologies for supporting those in need, the elderly and the disabled. There are other solutions to these problems then to terrorize someone with losing their home and there are other ways of getting elected to office then by dividing the people in our neighborhoods. I feel sorry for a lot of the people that were involved in the whole Oregon Street Affair they were led down the path by some ex-politicos trying desperately to get back in the game.  

Dan McMullan 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Am I in a 1984 nightmare, from which I never woke up? U.S. imperial leadership is going to drop nuclear weapons on Iran on the pretexts of a non-existence nuclear threat. Here at home in Berkeley, the UC administration is destroying give-away free clothes boxes for the poor at People’s Park, while they rob taxpayers and students of millions of dollars to enhance their living style. The imperial rulers say they bomb for humanity and local UC company leaders‚ rule, “the free box must go, to save the people from drugs.”  

In the last months hundreds of people have been arrested for crimes of being poor at the park here in Berkeley. UC still continue to destroy the new free boxes that activist have built. Now the police are beating up people for refusing to obey their orders. 

On Saturday, May 13, at noon, a rally at the park is being called by local People’s Park activists. There will be many speakers on repression worldwide and everyone is invited to speak.  

Michael Delacour 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Welcome and hooray to a new Berkeley festival! I declare last Sunday’s International Food Festival to be the best yet. Especially for a new event, the organization was superb. The peace that prevailed among the food, commercial and service purveyors and consumers flowed like the soft, mellifluous music. Steve Geller and I volunteered for the festival, and we want to thank Pam Weatherford, Bruce Williams and amazing, hardworking company, Raines Cohen and his magic truck, the M.C. and all the other volunteers. They made the festival run as smoothly as other festivals. Maybe my experience was enhanced by the wonderful Thai massage I received from two gracious women. Thank you, City of Berkeley, Daily Planet for publicizing it, and everyone who made it happen. 

Claire Risley 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

There seems to be a surplus of energy in the civic leadership of Berkeley. How else to explain the committees, consultants, and staffs that are keeping busy, spending time, effort, and money, to come up with solutions in search of problems? 

A week ago it was a plan to reconfigure North Shattuck Avenue between Vine and Rose Streets. Now they are “Seeking a New Look for Downtown BART” (Daily Planet, May 2). What exactly is wrong with these locations? How dilapidated and in need of something different—anything different—are they? How much investment do they deserve. What will the benefits be? Where do they rank in priority with other municipal investment needs? 

In the case of Shattuck and Center, the purpose is stated to be “improving downtown’s transportation accessibility...” Accessibility is about a good as it will ever be as long as downtown is blocked by Berkeley High School on the west and the UC campus on the east. More bus services (including the doubtful bus rapid transit) won’t make much difference; the present service is not used anywhere near capacity. 

The statement is made that “It’s clear people aren’t happy with what’s there today and want that redesigned.” Which people? How many? Was there a survey of a cross section of the population, or are these the “people” on the committees and staffs? What do they want? Smoother traffic and more parking or less? More accessibility by bus? Safer pedestrian sidewalks and crosswalks? A more friendly ambiance? A more aesthetic experience? Is the economic health of this part of downtown threatened? Is the BART rotunda now considered an eyesore? (It makes a statement that BART “is here,” which the tops of stairs and escalators cannot equal.) Are the street sculptures passé? So many questions!  

Or is all of this a way to keep “civic leaders” and city staffs busy? 

Sometimes it may be best to leave things alone if they aren’t broken.  

Wolfgang Homburger 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

Recently U.S. Army chief of staff, General Peter Schoomaker in defending the U.S. military budget lambasted critics of U.S. war spending by stating, “I just don’t understand… What’s the problem? I mean, I don't get it.” I will tell him and the other idiots in the Bush regime what the problem is.  

The United State spends nearly half-a-trillion dollars annually for military purposes. This includes not only the Pentagon budget, but the cost of “intelligence” and other related military costs. The rest of the world combined does not spend as much on military costs.  

While I deplore the waste of such a vast amount and wonder how the world could be changed if the money was spent productively, the biggest problem is that this money is spent to spread and defend an imperial system by allowing the United States to either make or threaten war against other nations and people in order to dominate the globe.  

For those that deny the U.S. is a dangerous imperial power, consider that the Pentagon admits it has troops in 120 countries. The U.S. weapons arsenal contains 10,000 nuclear warheads and extensive conventional weapons which “our leaders” allege are needed to defend the nation against attack. The United States is engaged in aggressive wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Bush is threatening war, including the possibility of nuclear war, with Iran. U.S. covert teams are already on the ground in Iran identifying and spotting future targets for attacks. Is it any wonder, that according to polls, people in most of the world consider the United States as the greatest threat to peace?  

The Bush regime in its National Security Strategy openly states that it will preemptively attack “future threats" to national security. Such supposed threats are defined by a president who claims to receive directions from god to attack other nations. The military budget gives him the capability of doing so. That is the problem, General Schoomaker. Do you get it now? I feel uncomfortable for a president who revels in his ignorance to have such vast military power at his command. I do not believe in the “divine right of kings or presidents.” But then I am not on the same terms with god as the president seems to be.  

The bottom line is that I would prefer to drive the Bush regime from power rather than finance its ability to impose its will on the world. The world can not wait to see what the logical outcome of two and a halfmore years of the Bush regime will bring us. The first five and a half years of this regime are scary enough.  

To see what you can do to stop the Bush regime before it is too late, please see 

Kenneth Thiesen