Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

Friday May 19, 2006


Editors, Daily Planet  

In response to Becky O’Malley’s May 16 editorial: I (we) look forward to what sort of interesting comments you’ll have about Amoeba after we bail on this scene. I’m so sorry our carefully and strategically placed print ads do not grace your pages. I notice with interest the fact that you fail to identify or mention the land banking that’s been going on around Telegraph Avenue for years—which has contributed a great deal to our various problems. 

I’d truly be interested in your obviously insightful opinion as to how we might transcend the decades-long political standoff that has prevented us from making even limited progress at getting the district what it needs (and has needed for decades).  

I believe Cody’s departure represents an potential opportunity to bring significant changes to the Avenue—but it’s likely to be squandered in the bureaucratic mess. 

Marc Weinstein 

Owner, Amoeba Records 




Editors, Daily Planet 

As an Internet customer of Cody’s for many years, I’m curious about Donna Carter’s comment “open a website.” Have I imagined Cody’s website over the years? I don’t think so, as the books I’ve ordered have both arrived and been picked up. I don’t think there is any great, much less good, independent bookseller without an active Internet site, allowing for purchases from near and far. 

I have ordered books I’ve heard about, read about; books recommended by friends and books I’ve listed in my own “want to read” lists over the years—and books recommended in Cody’s seasonal lists (pretty much always posted online, and kept archived, which is great). I’ve also ordered signed copies—sometimes personalized—of books by writers I admire (and often love) who are visiting Cody’s locations when I can’t attend an event there. You have no idea what that means to me and my family. And I will continue to do so, when I can’t get to author events at Cody’s Fourth Street store or San Francisco store. 

If you don’t, as Donna Carter doesn’t, know about it, check out 

Jenna Wilder 




Editors, Daily Planet 

We would like to thank Andy Ross and his family, Mr. and Mrs. Cody, and all the great Cody’s Books employees for providing Telegraph Avenue with one of the greatest independent book stores in the country, if not the entire world. It is a sad day for Berkeley when Cody’s Books closes. I guess the one consolation is that all the minds that have been expanded by all the great Cody’s books over all the years, will continue to reverberate in the hearts and minds of the universe for many years to come. 

Many reasons have been given for the demise of Cody’s Books, as well as the closing of many other long-time businesses on Telegraph Avenue: the Berkeley Market(!), Tower Records, Greg’s Pizza, the Gap, the Coffee Source, Wall Berlin, the Book Zoo, etc. We are hardly economists or financial wizards, God knows what’s going on. Andy Ross has stated that sales have been dropping since 1990, and I believe him. One reason for this, I believe, is that rents have tripled for many Berkeley residents during those 15 years. And people who used to have hundreds of dollars of disposable income to spend on books, records, jewelry, etc., now are forced to scrape together every penny just to keep a roof over their heads. 

Another reason for the dismal state of our economy, I believe, is the billions of dollars that that idiot George Bush is spending destroying and then trying to re-build Iraq’s economy.  

Much has been made of blaming the street people for the myriad of Telegraph Avenue woes. There’s no question that there are some obnoxious, dysfunctional, and even dangerous street people up there (I’ve probably been one of them on a bad day). But I think this has been way over-blown, simply because the streets of Telegraph are packed with more people than ever these days. And most of them aren’t street people (come up and count them some time if you don’t believe me). The customers are there: They just don’t have much money to spend anymore. At any rate, we wish Cody’s Books the best of luck in all their future endeavors. As Andy Ross said: “Cody’s Books isn’t real estate, it’s an idea.” It’s just a damn shame that that idea will no longer be part of the Telegraph Avenue real estate. We will all be poorer for it. All the best.  

Ace Backwords 

B.N. Duncan 




Editors, Daily Planet 

I read with pleasure that the Daily Planet is using the Internet to be a true daily. Congratulations. The move seems to tie in with your comment that Moe’s Books developed a good Internet business and Moe’s survives, while Cody’s owner Ross neglected the net, an error which appears to have contributed to the lack of funds to keep the Telegraph flagship branch of Cody’s alive. 

Ted Vincent 




Editors, Daily Planet 

The task force members for the proposed Ashby BART development have been selected. How much is just window dressing to give the appearance neighborhoods actually have a say in their future? (Much like the recent dog and pony show for the proposed Landmarks Preservation revisions.) Are residents any match for developers and their determined backers? 

Recently, a task force nominee and member of our Lorin District neighborhood list-serve asked if anyone had information about the task force that SBNDC and Ed Church were putting together. He wondered if anyone had knowledge of what Mayor Bates and Max Anderson had been up to regarding the development. The neighbor had been contacted by Ed Church weeks earlier but had not heard further. Wondering if other neighbors had been contacted, the nominee was nervous about a process without public knowledge.  

I forwarded a copy of an e-mail questionnaire that “select” nominees had received from Ed Church. I was not surprised yet disappointed that many nominated neighbors and I received no communications from Ed Church. (For heavens sake, we are listed in the phone book.) A total of 44 nominees were listed on Church’s website, how many were contacted? Others were nominated but did not appear on the list of nominees. To my knowledge none of the “house parties” that Mayor Bates touted to vision the Ashby BART development had taken place either.  

Another neighbor described the task force selection as, “throw the dog (neighborhood) a bone, but don’t let ‘em chew.” Lo and behold, just two days after I circulated my e-mail, a dozen task force members were announced on our list-serve by Ed Church. A glaring omission was the absence of any Ashby Arts District member. There may be conflicts of interest among some selected members as well.  

This is the state of our city politics of late. It is clearly time for us to stand up and take the ownership of our neighborhoods and our city back. If not, it’s more paved back yards, condo high rises and fast food joints to come.  

Robin Wright 




Editors, Daily Planet 

The controversy over building the second Berkeley Bowl in West Berkeley has made me wonder even more why we don’t have a grocery store co-op here in the supposed progressive bastion of California. I think it is ridiculous that we don’t. Our choices are between Whole Foods, a growing corporate chain, Berkeley Bowl, a “family-owned” business who fought the unionizing of their employees tooth and nail, and the impending Trader Joe’s, with their over-packaged produce and no bulk bins, and most of their goods shipped from far, far away. I’m not even considering Safeway and their ilk, with 12 aisles of nothing and a store that smells like noxious detergents more than anything approaching edible. 

We should have a health food co-op that is on par with Rainbow in San Francisco. I know there are small markets scattered around Berkeley, but their prices tend to be very expensive and their stock is limited, of course. Some neighborhoods have nothing, and thus the automobile insanity at the aforementioned stores. A strategically placed co-op market could also encourage bike riding and walking, which would benefit everyone. 

So what’s up? Is anyone else wondering about this? And what are we going to do about it? 

Jessica Taal 





Editors, Daily Planet 

We congratulate Kris Martinsen (letters, May 16) for the timely letter pointing out some obvious inconsistencies in the arguments of Israel’s apologists in the United States. Abetted by the United States, Israel has failed to comply with 33 United Nations resolutions. The Israeli government has become adept at balancing its roles as supposed victim and as oppressor and occupier. For a reasonably complete review of Israel’s policy and U.S. complicity in them, readers are referred to the scholarly analysis of John Mearsheimer (University of Chicago) and Stephen Walt (Harvard University) titled The Israel Lobby published in March issue of The London Review Of Books. 

For tactics used by apologists to suppress opposing views, the book by Norman Finkelstein (Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of anti-Semitism and  

the Abuse of History, University of California Press) is important reading. Among the tactics used at a personal level are name calling and labeling. We cannot continue to ignore Israel’s lock on U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East, and hence we need open discussion and not intimidation. 

Andrew and Marina Pizzamiglio-Gutierrez 





Editors, Daily Planet 

Thank you very much for running Ken Bullock’s preview of our Fresh Voices VI programs. We really appreciate your support for the arts, and Ken’s excellent writing. Please note, however, that, perhaps due to a balky phone connection at this end, I believe I characterized Steven Clark’s “Amok Time” as having “a tongue-in-cheek demented, pop-influenced score,” rather than “a tongue-in-cheek insipid pop score.” For me, “demented, pop-influenced” is high praise. “Insipid pop” is not. If possible, we would appreciate this correction be made in your web page. 

Thanks again for your article, and best wishes. 

Dr. Mark Alburger 

Music Director 

Goat Hall Productions 

Fresh Voices VI Festival 




Editors, Daily Planet 

Alan Swain’s op-ed whining about his disillusionment with contemporary conservatism cuts no ice with me.  

First, the war on terrorism is a sick joke. For many years the United States government has been what Martin Luther King, Jr. labeled it in April, 1967, “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today.” We have armed and financed dictatorships from Indonesia to Zaire, from Guatemala to Singapore, ad nauseum. William Blum estimated that the policies of the U.S. government were responsible for over six million deaths and that estimate was made twenty five years ago! We created the monster in Afghanistan which came home to haunt us on 9-11. 

Second, the Bush tax cuts combined with huge increases in unnecessary Pentagon porkbarrel spending have saddled us with the greatest debt in our history and will lead to our bankruptcy as a nation if not reversed. 

Third, we are in far greater of losing our basic civil liberties under Bush than anything a foreign foe could do to us. Outside of the salient fact that our foreign policy creates more enemies every day leaving us much less secure than when the chimp took office. 

Fourth, we need to get the oil prices under control before they wreak inflationary havoc throughout the entire economy. I don’t see any “pandering” going on here, I see politicians kowtowing to the oil company ripoff. 

I share Swain’s disgust with liberals who have sacrificed core socio-economic principles for the dead end of identity politics. But the GOP was never a solution. 

If the Democrats somehow don’t manage to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory once again this fall, the first order of business is the impeachment of Bush and Cheney. Nothing compares in importance with this absolute necessity. 

Michael Hardesty 





Editors, Daily Planet 

State Senator Sheila Kuehl has introduced a bill into the California Legislature that would require public school textbooks to include the contributions of gays and lesbians. This brings to mind Schopenhauer’s statement that all truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.  

Thirty years ago, the National Organization for women and many other women’s and minority groups read literally thousands of text books to document the depiction of women and minorities. This was cruel and unusual punishment. How many times can you look at Mother (always wearing an apron) saying “Wait till your father gets home, he’ll know what to do,” and Jane saying, “I know I’m just a girl”? Or high school texts in which the only African American depicted was Booker T. Washington, the only woman, Marie Curie, and the internment of Japanese Americans not mentioned. 

We won that fight. Now it’s time for gays and lesbians to win theirs. 

Nancy Ward 


Oakland/East Bay 

National Organization for Women