Public Comment

More Letters to the Editor

Friday July 14, 2006

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following letters appear only on our website. 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

As the owner and managers of the Reprint Mint, a business that has shared the same block of Telegraph for over 40 years with Moe’s and the late lamented Cody’s, we wish to voice our strong support for a Peet’s Coffee at the corner of Dwight and Telegraph. 

Peet’s is a well-run, established, local company with a large following and would immediately attract customers to the Avenue. The economic benefits would start the day it opened. With any luck it could anchor our end of Telegraph and help fill the void left by the loss of Cody’s. 

The proposed site size seems appropriate when retail sales of coffee beans, ground coffee and tea as well as related accessories are taken into account. The special circumstances necessary to warrant a zoning variance might well be reversing a very real downward spiral on Telegraph. 

While the zoning quotas are well intentioned, the reality is that they have led to a proliferation of tattoo parlors, schlock-shops and many empty store fronts. 

We strongly advocate and support Peets on Telegraph at Dwight. 

Craig Altes, owner 

Sabina McMurtry, manager 

Lisa VonStauffenberg, manager 

Reprint Mint 

2484 Telegraph Ave. 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

We totally endorse this new business getting permit approval.  

It will be a great addition improving the image of the Telegraph area substantially. I believe It will attract many new patrons to this very depressed shopping district with its great following and the fact it is a business that has it roots in North Berkeley.  

This is a special situation in that Peet’s brand and quality will bring the upscale customers to help Telegraph’s recovery in a way other quick service restaurants could not. 

Al Geyer 


2416 Telegraph Ave. 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

I 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 (!!), La Vals, Tower Records, Greg’s Pizza, the Gap, the Coffee Source, Wall Berlin, etc. We are hardly economists or financial wizards, God knows what is going on. Any Ross as 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, what the fuck). 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.” Its 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 Backwards,  

B.N. Duncan 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The recent reports of UC misuse of funds are eye opening but not surprising. To think that administrators/chancellors, who are already paid more than adequately, receive additional money is an insult to the thousands of UC employees who work diligently every day to serve the real needs of students, and to the taxpayers who help pay the bills. 

In 2004 the university abruptly closed the English Language Program run through UC Extension. It made a considerable profit for the university (it was a fee-based program) and had established an outstanding reputation over its 30-year history. According to colleagues who had worked for many years in that program, the administration refused to explain the reason for such action and attempted to evade full payment of contracts to its instructors. These were people who were earning far, far less than the well-paid executives who have received the largesse of UC president Dynes and his predecessors. And I am certain that other faculties and support staff members at UC have many similar stories. 

That UC could nickel-and-dime hard-working faculty while at the same time bestowing excessive stipends, unapproved monetary grants, and illegal housing subsidies demands more than the resignation of UC President Dynes. The legislature needs to look at the ways in which members of the Board of Regents are appointed and administrative decisions are made so that the corporation now known as UC returns to its mission of educating our future generations. 

Vera Stanley 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Recent attacks on the media by the president for the exposure of the international bank transfer spying program serve two purposes for the Bush regime. First, they are an attempt to intimidate the media into silence about the regime’s crimes. Second, they are meant to shift the discussion about the illegality of these actions to a discussion of what should be done to media outlets that dare to report them. 

Weeks ago, Attorney General Gonzales floated the idea of prosecuting the New York Times under the ‘97 Espionage Act for exposing the regime’s wiretap program. Now the president and VP have joined the attack on freedom of the press. The media is the last check on this imperial presidency. Congress caved in long ago and the regime largely bypasses the courts when it ignores the fourth amendment protection against illegal searches. Congressional Rep. Pete King has asked the Justice Department to open an investigation of the Times. The magic phrase “national security” is enough to keep most members of Congress quiet when it comes to the administration’s actions. While the Democrats occasionally make noises of protest, they rarely take any serious actions to impede the regime. 

It is important to understand why the Bush regime is launching these attacks. It is not operating from a position of strength despite appearances. It really fears exposure of its illegal actions. It knows if most people are aware of what is being done to our freedoms under the guise of “protecting us” that these actions will not be accepted by the vast majority. Like rats hiding in the dark, the regime can not stand light. Therefore it is doing everything possible to keep the media quiet and acquiescent. This is a continuation of other actions such as the attacks on Joseph Wilson and his wife when he exposed the lie about Iraq obtaining uranium with his op-ed in the Times.  

The media must not be quelled by these political attacks. It must continue to expose all infringements on our freedom and all lies of the Bush regime while we still have some freedom to protect. The Bush regime will only be driven from power if people are aware of what it is doing.  

Kenneth J. Theisen 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

Preserving clean water is a health issue for many Americans. Unfortunately, President Bush and the Republican-controlled Congress have let the oil companies pollute the waters in every part of the country. Whether it is in the lakes, rivers, or oceans, oil companies cause damage to the waters. 

This president and the Congress can care less about the health of the American people who might be exposed to dirty waters created by the oil companies. For example, recently the House of Representatives passed a bill that will allow offshore drilling in U.S. coastal areas. The oil companies who already drill offshore in the Gulf of Mexico will do so again in some other coastal areas. 

People who are concerned about preserving clean water, free from off-shore drilling, should fight Congress either by writing letters of voting the Republican-controlled Congress out of office in November. 

Billy Trice, Jr. 






Editors, Daily Planet: 

Under the auspices of law enforcement and the civil responsibilities that a Police Department has, and is engaged in, I find the mission statement of Berkeley Police Department has changed somewhat. When I was a boy riding my bicycle around Berkeley 35 years ago, we knew almost every officer by name—and could count on them for ensuring our safety whenever possible. That is what they do in all wishful societies around the world. 

I am not opposed to the police to enforce the law—but the manner in which they serve is not exactly justice—it’s more like robbery...and we have plenty of that here! 

In Berkeley—maybe elsewhere too—this mission statement has changed, and for the worse! A stop sign violation 20 years ago was probably $20, but now it is $146! The police in Berkeley wait at these “pumpkin patches,” as they refer to them, and collect fees for Berkeley—fees prohibitively high for many—so I believe they need to change their mission statement from “Preserve and Protect” to “Preserve and Collect”—at least then we Berkeley citizens know what to expect and how much it is going to cost us! 

Mark Bayless 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The following observations are a response to “Intellectual Laziness,” Michael Duenes’ June 30 letter. 

First, there are at least three collections of books that are commonly published with the title The (Holy) Bible or The Holy Scriptures: the collection Protestants use, the collection Roman Catholics use (which includes more books,) and the collection Jews use (which includes quite a few less books.) The difference between these three collections is the result of differing opinions about whether or not certain books ought to be considered “scripture,” i.e., that their origin was the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. 

Second, all the books rejected from the Biblical canon by Jews (often referred to as The New Testament) are written in Koine Greek. As I understand it, the reason for this is that Greek was a language many people could be expected to understand--as, for example, the English language is today. The reason Greek was widely understood is that Greek Civilization had been in full flower in the relatively recent past.  

In Part Two of his book Through the Looking Glass, psychologist Richard Idemon describes the part homosexuality had played in Greek culture. “In ancient was the father of the young boy who often took it upon himself to pick the eratos, the older male lover who would educate the boy to take his place in the state’s political system. This was considered a natural part of growing up.”  

Our present day society (most gay people included) would regard this as sexual child abuse, and it probably caused boys who had no innate disposition toward homosexuality to grow into men who were sexually attracted to men. When Paul of Tarsus referred to “men who love men,” he may well have had this kind of cultural pattern in mind. And he may well have been familiar with no other pattern.  

Paul also felt that the only excuse single heterosexuals had for getting married was lack of self-control. If you just couldn’t control your burning lust, it was “better to marry than to burn.” 

He felt that married people experienced the desire to please their mates as a distraction from love of the Lord. That married love can enhance the relationship of both spouses to the Lord (a perspective that was the norm in Judaism) is a sentiment quite foreign to Paul’s thought.  

This is often explained as the result of Paul’s belief that the world would soon end. His sense of urgency, in light of this belief, led him to feel that the spreading of the gospel was a crisis situation--no time to get married. But while this sense of urgency puts Paul’s attitude toward marriage in perspective, it also clearly indicates something else about Paul. He could be wrong.  

He was not a divinely-inspired robot whose every word can be taken out of historical context as though it had been written by God in stone. There is good reason to regard the phenomenon of inspiration by the Holy Spirit as one which is conditioned by the personality and the social and historical context of the person inspired.  

To get a sense of the contemporary American historical context of attitudes about homosexuality, reading Paula Gunn Allen’s book The Sacred Hoop, especially the chapter titled “How the West was Really Won,” is instructive. Another book I would recommend to those whose aspire to transcend “intellectual laziness” is Another Mother Tongue by Judy Grahn, especially chapter Three, “Gay is Very American.” 

Up until the recent past, gay marriage was accepted as a normal part of the social order almost everywhere on this continent, and gay people were more often than not accorded great respect--not, so far as I can tell, because of sexual child abuse, but because the original societies here respected the nature with which each human being was created.  

Chadidjah McFall