Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

Tuesday September 05, 2006


Editors, Daily Planet: 

I love Modi Wetzler’s idea that LBNL’s contamination issues were all the unintentional result of lab employees “who were not aware” of risks that even now are “not fully understood,” followed by the suggestion that criticism by local activists erodes the “trust” between all parties. Honest scientists must be cringing. 

What little dialogue does exist between LBNL and the community, as well as a healthy public relations machine, are the result of years of pressure from the activists being scolded. It’s entertaining, however, to know that UC is still churning out graduate students who have such a Disney-esque sense of trust. 

Carol Denney 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The Berkeley Housing Authority is under attack and on the verge of collapse. 

Berkeley’s Housing Authority is under attack by the Bush administration and needs your help to keep hope alive for the poor, elderly and disabled in Berkeley. Known as a liberal City of America, if Berkeley loses its Public Housing and Section 8 Programs, there’s nothing to keep the rest of the nation’s housing assistance programs from following in its path. Check out to unite with others to sign the petition to save Berkeley’s Housing Authority! 

For more on the BHA crisis, see “An Uncertain Future for Berkeley’s Section 8 Tenants” at 

Lynda Carson 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

A BUSD board director told me the board “would like to entertain the possibility” of moving the warm pool off the BHS campus (and including demolishing it as it now is, and the gym too), so that a new classroom building could be erected there...because “students need more room.” 

What students, I didn’t ask. Berkeley students, I assumed. 

But recently the Daily Planet reported that students from Oakland attend BHS, maybe hundreds; nobody knows for sure. Yawn. This is old news after all. A BUSD director wrote (letter or article) that maybe they (or their staff) should check identification more closely. Yawn. The superintendent reportedly said about the same; we do get state money for attendance. Yawn. 

Who will pay for the proposed new classroom building at BHS? Oakland taxpayers? Somehow that seems unlikely. State taxpayers? Berkeley taxpayers? A-ha! A multiple-choice quiz! 

And who will be asked to pay for a replacement warm pool, just across the street, maybe? Oakland? California? Berkeley? The Department of Defense? BUSD? 

Terry Cochrell 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The assertion by David Baggins in his letter dated July 18, regarding “The unique BUSD policy of not enforcing legal residency” may appear to have merit. As a parent of a Berkeley High School student for the past four years, I was surprised by the number of students who attend Berkeley High School with false documentation to support legal residency in Berkeley. In fact, this seemingly “accepted” practice by resourceful parents who flagrantly disregard the legal residency requirements by providing BUSD with false addresses, utility bills and checking accounts would seem to be far more widespread than even BUSD is aware. 

Anne Kasdin 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I read with interest the statistics quoted in the Aug. 22 article by J. Douglas Allen-Taylor concerning Jerry Brown’s charter school. I agree, the scores are disappointing considering the supposed emphasis placed on charter-type schools. I am surprised that the article, by its tone, seems to be directing the blame for the poor student test scores on Jerry Brown rather than on the teaching staff as a whole. 

Teachers seem to be always complaining about salaries, yet never take responsibility for the lack of teaching skills. The poor test scores by the students is a direct reflection of the teachers’ abilities. Teachers need to improve teaching skills. If teachers do a great job, they may warrant a pay raise. 

Ridgway B. Smith 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

After reading Mr. Harry Gans’ item on New Lights’ imminent demise on Sept. 1, we’re compelled to provide information on some of our efforts to keep our ship afloat.  

1. In 2005 we voted to increase our lunch from $2 to $3—after 10 years with no increase—due to inflation. 

2. A monthly raffle at the center of items donated by seniors or their families. 

3. An occasional Ashby Flea Market sale. 

4. A three-times-a-year casino trip. I know, I know, it’s called wagering! Gambling! 

5. In 2006 we added another 25 cents to make it $3.25, again due to inflation. 

What a way to go! This a request from New Light seniors to the citizens of Berkeley and Maudelle Shirek’s peers at City Hall because thousands of you have been the recipients of her generosity and devotion, as well as her tireless efforts to be at your service. 

Need I remind you that Maudelle was the first or second woman of her distinction to serve on the Berkeley City Council. The rest is history. 

Citizens of Berkeley: We need volunteers, suggestions and donations to help us move forward with our organic meals flagship program. Our ship needs an anchor! 

Idella Melton 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Regarding J. Douglas Allen-Taylor’s July 28 article in the Planet. 

As one who lived and worked in Wisconsin for years, including work with all of the state’s 72 counties, I can assure you that there is no Hennepin County or country in Wisconsin. Across the river in Minnesota, however, Hennepin County takes in the city of Minneapolis, which has the only black population of any size in these parts. 

It matters, even here on the coast, what happens in this particular part of the heartland. Wisconsin, once a beacon of enlightened liberalism, and former domain of Gov. Tommy Thompson, who later became secretary of Health and Human Services in Washington, has one of the highest incarceration rates in the country. It also has one of the most racially imbalanced prison populations and is the home of an atrocious maximum-security prison and an infamous program of labor reminiscent of the southern chain gangs. 

Across the river, Minnesota, with a similar population, as a fraction of the incarceration rate and, relative to Wisconsin, and even smaller prisons budget. 

The Minnesota program described by Mr. Allen-Taylor is important and deserves, I believe, to be widely emulated. The article might have pointed out that the more enlightened policies of Minnesota are making a difference clearly visible, statistically, against the abysmal background of Wisconsin. 

Jane Eiseley 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The American electorate yearns for more than mere incumbency or “name recognition” platforms to merit election to Congress.  

To improve our national life now and in the future—without the use of the constitutional amendment—aspirants to the House and Senate this November should pledge to: 

1. Speedily impeach and remove from office both Bush and Cheney. (Charges and defense are extraneous, when the votes are there!) 

2. Institute a National Universal Health Service. 

3. Join the International Court of Criminal Justice. 

4. Limit to two the Supreme Court justices any president may replace during his term(s) of office, except when disaster eliminates the court at once; then the number to allow is three. 

5. Dismantle the current U.S. wars on drugs and terrorism. The first is maintained by addiction—a medical problem—and the second is a problem best prevented, not by warfare, but by peace officers (as so admirably demonstrated recently in Britain) and by fair, peaceful eternal watch, here and abroad (if welcome). 

6. Give well-deserved punishment, and cautionary warning to all who in the future would copy their self-enriching dishonesties, by outlawing for Bush and Cheney, and if possible, Rumsfeld and other unworthies, all federal pensions, free health care in retirement, secret service protection, and U.S. passports. 

Additionally, the new Congress should give us a Constitutional amendment to institute federal initiative, referendum, and recall, so that as a nation we may have real democracy at last, and as in other countries, vote nationally on issues, not, as at present, only for suits, who often lie to us. 

Judith Segard Hunt 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I suggest that the Golden Gate Fields would be a better place to have activities that usually take place in Memorial Stadium. After all, there is plenty of parking that doesn’t bother the neighbors. Access is much better from three directions. People could come by ferry from the west. There are many reasons why this is a better alternative. 

Charles Smith