Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

Friday November 17, 2006


Editors, Daily Planet: 

Your biased election coverage was way over the top. “Daily Planet” is a great name for a newspaper as it is associated with Superman, fairness and justice. It would be more truthful to re-name your paper the Environmental Daily, or the Slow Growth Gazette, or some other title that announces the context and tone of your news stories. As long as you refuse to limit the expression of your views to the editorial pages you should relinquish the proud name, and valiant memory you dishonor. 

Ronald Tauber 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Where was crime-fighting Superhero George Beier when the Chamber of Commerce PAC was disseminating lies about Kriss Worthington, Dona Spring, and Measure J? Except for a brief remark about finding it distasteful, Beier was uncharacteristically silent. Could it be that white-collar misdeeds are like Kryptonite to our hero? Yes, although Super George wanted to be a community leader, he was tragically powerless to act against the influence of his friends in the Chamber of Commerce PAC and their arsenal of lies. 

Fortunately, a mild-mannered public servant, who cannot be bought, continues to protect the people of District 7 from the PAC’s greed, and a great metropolitan newspaper in Berkeley fights for truth, justice, and the American way. The heroes walk among us, even if we don’t notice them. 

Jordan Elliot 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I felt that the less-than-flattering cartoon featuring George Beier in last Friday’s issue was also less than tactful. During the course of the campaign, I worked vigorously to re-elect Kriss Worthington so that his positive vision of District 7 and Berkeley can be propelled into motion for four more years. But the campaign is now over. While I understand and don’t dispute the financial inequity of the races in District 7, I hope that we can give credit to both candidates for the hard work they have invested into the election and into presenting their options to their constituents. Recently I have had the opportunity to run a race for an ASUC executive seat against a much better endowed candidate and lose by 219 votes, and am therefore intimately familiar with the pathology of just barely coming short. Adding insult to injury is utterly unnecessary. I hope that Berkeley is a place where we will be able to each across our barriers and work together—regardless of election outcome or difference in message—for the betterment of all. I hope Berkeley is not a place where a narrow win margin is prominently ridiculed.  

Igor Tregub 

Member, Berkeley Commission on Labor 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

In response to Becky O’Malley’s wrap-up of election in the Nov. 10 issue: very interesting. Why such a condescending commentary on Raudel Wilson? “Wilson is a nice enough guy, though he’ll soon be forgotten...” 

I believe Mr. Wilson pretty courageous to challenge the Berkeley establishment knowing his chances of winning this election were slim. Did he say he is leaving politics? 

This latest comment goes hand in hand with the pompous and arrogant attitude found in most of her writings. 

Tri Ying 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

It has been 15 long months since I have dipped my body into a pool. This day, I lower myself slowly into the old swimming pool at Berkeley High which is heated to 95 degrees for the convenience of senior citizens and others who suffer from one disability or another. I am very aware, however, that this is not a pool for people who are suffering. As I look around the almost Olympic-sized pool, I see a mother tenderly holding her young daughter with Downs Syndrome so she can enjoy the pleasure of the warm water. I see a man being lowered into the pool on a mechanical chair by an aide because he obviously couldn’t get in otherwise. I see a woman with limited visual capabilities swimming with her young son. And there are others whose physical impediments are not apparent until they get out and sit in their wheelchairs. Here, also, are some of my friends with bad back ailments and structural problems to get relief from their perpetual pain. I have gone through the rigorous (the current word is “aggressive”) treatment for pancreas cancer. I have spent nine-months on a feeding tube which precluded me from swimming for fear of infecting my intravenous line. But, here I am in the water again, and the dry period I had crossed, like a desert with no oasis, is behind me. All I can feel, other than the extreme delight of being back swimming, is the good will of everybody present. As they bob up and down or swim laps, or simply stand in the shallow end with their eyes closed in meditative contentment, it seems that all their disabilities have apparently melted away, and I feel like I’m dipping my entire being into some special energy. It is not only the warmth, the lightness of my body, and the ability to move and exercise limbs that have lain stagnant in bed for months, it is also the quiet friendliness of everyone in the water—as if their generosity of spirit and wisdom that comes from suffering, and their focus on healing is surrounding me, buoying me up. Right here, in the center of old Berkeley, is a mystical healing pool – recognized by the wise for what it is, by those, whether young or old, who flock to it four or more times a week. Our senses, our hearts, and our minds cry out in sadness and indignation, because this old pool, a value beyond price, has been slated for demolition. We recognize the old pool and its healing powers as a vestige from a time, not too far past, when appearances and profit-making were not the only principles governing community life. My tears become one with the warm, salty water in which I float. I wonder why the city fathers and mothers have abandoned us all. I wonders what magic could happen for them to recognize what they are about to do before it is too late! 

Aspasia Nea 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Rob Browning’s arrest reminded me of a time a couple of years ago when, on a grey rainy day when I went to an ATM near the Public Safety Building and saw a car parked with both right wheels up on the sidewalk effectively blocking wheelchair access. When a uniformed officer came along, I was sure the miscreant would be issued a ticket but no, the officer simply joined the line and began bantering with the customer at the ATM window who turned out to be the Watch Commander of the Day and who, after completing his transaction, got in the offending vehicle and drove away. 

Joanne Kowalski 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Pacific Steel Casting came first, soccer fields came second. Our organization built and is responsible for managing the soccer fields around Fifth and Harrison streets. When we lobbied to expand the number of soccer fields in this area we were well aware that the land was located in an industrial area and that a “burning pot handle” smell came from Pacific Steel Casting. 

The local youth and adult sports organizations (including the Albany Berkeley Soccer Club, Alameda Contra Costa Youth Soccer, Albany Berkeley Girl’s Softball League, East Bay Men’s Senior Soccer, etc.) understood that this West Berkeley industrial area had smells, sounds, and traffic that was not always 100 percent compatible with recreational uses. Despite this we agreed, based on our long history of operating playing fields in the area, that both uses could co-exist. In fact, people registering to play for the local youth soccer club are required to sign a document acknowledging the above. 

While we obviously cannot control what individuals may do, I was distressed to read that people are trying to leverage the soccer fields as a reason why Pacific Steel Casting should be required to clean up it’s emissions. In general, the soccer fields and West Berkeley industrial community have been good neighbors for many years. 

Pacific Steel Casting and all businesses should do what they can to minimize environmental pollution, however, the users of the fields (and the skatepark) were well aware of the situation when they lobbied to build the facility. We all acknowledged and accepted the neighborhood environmental issues that affected the site at the time it was converted from vacant industrial land to playing fields. It was a central issue in the city’s decision to purchase the property for recreational uses. Interestingly enough, the polluter that most affected the fields was the City of Berkeley’s own transfer station. 

As for concerned parents they are certainly able to exclude their child from any game played in this area (although they will find that a rather large number of playing fields are located alongside highways or in industrial areas) and request that their child not be assigned a team that practices at these fields. 

Doug Fielding 

Chairperson, Association of Sports Field Users 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

The political landscape is quivering with anticipation. Voices of portent emanate from federal legislators and the loudest, or at least those given accommodation in print and electronic media, come from leaders of the party that attained majority in the last election. Alas, regarding what to do about the mess in Iraq these veteran legislators are not in harmony; some say leave, others say leave bit by bit, others say leave but first stop the civil war, others say divide Iraq and leave, others want to win, to send more troops and blah, blah, blah. This sad cacophony does not depress me nearly as much as the underlying unacknowledged arrogance, paternalism and Pilate-like washing of hands. 

Forget why we invaded Iraq. We did it; in Colin Powell’s simile, we broke the pot. Most of what’s being said now amounts to picking up the pieces gluing the pot back together, one way or another, even if the pieces don’t fit which means by force if necessary. 

If I entered a home without being invited and broke a pot because I misjudged the conditions in the home, what would my mother expect from me? “Marvin” she’d say “apologize, make restitution and get out of there!” 

Oh, how I wish for a legislator to demand that the 110th Congress behave as my mother would want me to. 

Marvin Chachere 

San Pablo 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I can’t imagine why the author of the anti-Semitic “You Can’t Visit Any Other Country Haikus” didn’t bother to sign his or her name. 

Renata Polt 


EDITOR’S NOTE: The name of the author was mistakenly omitted. His name is Arnold Passman. 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Today I had the pleasure of voting for a candidate I support. Aaron Aarons critiques “our” radio from the left, as opposed to the middling go-along-ism of the other candidacies—wanting to improve relations of people directly involved, reportage/coverage of the area, response to the community especially to provide programming that serves more of us, recognizing the constantly reducing allegiance of the faithful and the income, thereby. 

The discussions in the Planet have done little to clear up the mysteries of the difficulties the network has. The difficulty is really the approach, which is complaisant by comparison to what it needs to be. Once a healthy left direction would be defined it’d serve to get the programming to advance our causes, our interests, and our educations and enjoyment. Absent a clear commitment to other than the Lou Hill pacifisms and such there is no helpful program such as Aarons is proposing. 

Norma J F Harrison 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The good burghers are up in arms. The mayor's money man Mal Burnstein screams “Illegal!” “Violation of trust!” and “You owe the city an apology!” and downtown developer spokesperson Mim Hawley carries on interminably about the “unabashed adulation of the Planet's favored candidates and its unrestrained attacks on their rivals” (Letters, Nov. 14). It's a no-holds-barred fight between established power and a give-’em-hell local publisher, just like the old days when freedom of the press actually meant something in this country. 

I subscribe to KQED and KPFA, but so far there’s no Pacifica for newspapers. Until that happens, I'm so happy to see this outbreak of a free press in the midst of the nation-wide corporate media takeover that I don't see how I can afford not to shell out 20 bucks a month to subscribe. Here's my credit card number and expiration date (um, please don’t print that part) and no, I don’t need you to actually deliver me a private copy, I can pick it up on the corner. 

Bonnie Hughes 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Sadly, I fear Paul Rockwell doth protest too much in his Commentary, which stated that OakPAC’s challenge to Oakland’s campaign reform law has left us in a state where “we have no way of knowing who would have won a legal, fair election in District 2.” 

The winner of the November election in District 2 was Pat Kernighan. She was also the top vote getter in the June primary and was the top vote getter in the 2005 Special Election. Aimee Allison failed to get enough votes to top Kernighan three times in the past year and a half. Mr. Rockwell’s implication that the November election was somehow extraordinary and that it would be intellectually dishonest to believe Pat the victor smacks of sour grapes more than a quest for truth, for Mr. Rockwell was a strong advocate in print for Ms Allison and was very supportive of her campaign.  

We should get clear facts: the OakPAC action, while indeed unfortunate, was not illegal. Indeed, anyone is permitted to petition the court, and OakPAC’s ability to convince a judge to stay Oakland’s law was, again, not illegal.c OakPAC spent money on one mailer before Mr. Dellums came forward and admirably brokered a fair agreement. 

One must also note that Allison’s independent expenditures, one funded generously by a San Francisco attorney, came after the public announcement of the Dellums deal. By the end of the campaign, pro-Allison independent expenditures surpassed those made on behalf of Kernighan. I also do not believe that Mr. Rockwell actually knows whether pro-Allison expenditures were made to “match” what OakPAC did, or whether they were made in the same spirit of campaign opportunism originally embraced by the Chamber. The fact that these expenditures did nothing to advance Allison’s chances of victory may lead Mr. Rockwell to reconsider the entire thesis of his Commentary. 

Before one accuses the Chamber of “destroying” an election, one may also want to examine the whole story, which includes the hours and hours of work put in by volunteers on both sides. Since Mr. Rockwell is a writer, perhaps he overvalues the impact of the written word in shiny mailers. The fact remains that Pat won for the third time because more voters appreciated her solid record of actual accomplishment in District 2, over the mere words, promises and ideas, albeit energetically delivered, of Aimee Allison. 

Jerome Peters 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Ted Vincent needs to learn his history when he paraphrases: “Berkeley was one of the few cities of any size in the state to remain solidly in the Republican ranks in yesterday’s election” ran the lead in the Nov. 9, 1932 Berkeley Gazette report on the Franklin D. Roosevelt defeat of Herbert Hoover.”  

It is not funny to learn how so many people have a skewed vision of the history of political parties in this country. Until Roosevelt’s election, most blacks in the United States were Republicans. Why? because they are the party of Lincoln, the ones who freed the slaves, and who stood for civil rights during and after reconstruction. It would have been completely understandable that the liberals of that day were the Republicans. For what were the alternatives? The Democrats? The American Socialist Party? True libs then were the party that stood up most resoundingly for civil rights. It was the New Deal that took blacks and social liberals to Roosevelt. Certainly, Mr. Vincent could have mentioned that many Democrats, until the 1960s, were southern, white segregationists. The complete flip-flop in our country on moral values is one of the reasons for the current make-up of our political parties. Although I am not a Republican, it should be noted the first black to serve in the U.S. Congress was a Republican: Hiram R. Revels of Mississippi.  

John Parman 




Dear Democrats, 

I’m writing to congratulate you on the success of your party to win both the Senate and the House. I could not be more pleased for you. 

My analysis of your victory seems not to be the standard analysis in the news and I would like to ask you to consider my thinking. I think you have been selected by the American people to return democracy to this country and get us out of Iraq. There is no other explanation for the victory of your party. Many Republicans switched sides, most Independents switched sides, and only their fear of the destruction of the economy due to the War and the fear of Government intrusion into their private lives could have made that happen. There are many ways to play on this, but none I have heard so far will answer the desire of most Americans for freedom and justice. May I suggest that your party re-read the Constitution of the United States and re-visit the Oath of Office they have all taken. The reason I suggest this is I believe all of the mischief that has been done over the last six years has been the results of gaming the Constitution by men and women who have lost their idealism and have behaved as if their election was more important than doing their primary duty to defend the Constitution. 

The war in Iraq, the Patriot Act, torture, and the Military Commissions Act of 2006 could only be considered Constitutional by people whose powers of rationalization far exceed the normal citizen and that is why the national political landscape has temporarily changed. Please, please, please make defending the Constitution and getting us out of Iraq your party’s primary goals. To that end I suggest you do not let Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, and George Bush return to their private lives without paying a big price of trying to change this country by destroying its Constitution. If they do not face censure or worse, our Constitution will permanently be a target for power hungry citizens with the means to become part of the government. You have been blessed with the power to become a savior of our democracy or just a power. Please use your position for preserving democracy. 

Harry Wiener