Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

Tuesday January 23, 2007


Editors, Daily Planet: 

“We’re trying to restore the area back to its natural state,” said Mitch Celaya, assistant chief of campus police, as the police forced the tree sitters out of the oaks and took away piles of supporting materials that the activists were using to support their “sit in.” 

If UC Berkeley wanted the oaks to be kept in their “natural state,” there would be no protest! 

My opinion of the university: There is no concern for the “natural state” of the oak grove or for its beauty, no concern for the danger of building a huge structure near a well-known earthquake fault, no concern for the opinions of the citizens of Berkeley. 

I believe that there are four lawsuits pending which would prevent the destruction of the oaks. I hope that these lawsuits keep the university from destroying the group of oaks. My respect for the university was never great. Now it has plummeted. 

Julia Craig 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Cutting down the grove of ancient oak trees by Memorial Stadium would be a tragedy—because it is entirely unnecessary. There are several other locations that would serve quite well for the new training center; two excellent sites are located close to Edwards Field. Build the gym for the athletes, absolutely, but build it in a location where it will not do permanent damage to our environment. It is a win-win solution that everyone can support. 

It’s time for UC officials to show responsible leadership and pursue such a compromise. It’s quite simple really: Build the gym and spare the grove. 

Doug Buckwald 


Save the Oaks at the Stadium 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Though schools in the K-12 system and the more prestigious university institutions of higher learning command far more public attention, community colleges are vital institutions in California. Providing affordable transfer education, vocational education and remedial skills, the local Peralta colleges play a significant role in the personal and economic future of thousands of students each year. Thank goodness for J. Douglas Allen-Taylor’s consistent coverage of key issues in the system as they come before the board of directors. 

Margot Dashiell 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I write to oppose the methodology used by ABAG to impose housing quotas on Berkeley. Berkeley’s population appears to have declined since the 1970s, and ABAG’s projected increase in population for the area is suspect at best. The citizens of Berkeley take their responsibility to build affordable housing and to provide decent public transportation very seriously. ABAG’s manipulation of these civic virtues to demand the degradation of our quality of life is reprehensible. It is simply inequitable to require the brunt of dense housing development to occur in regional sacrifice zones. 

The only good thing to come out of the truly outrageous quota proposed for Berkeley is that the shadowy role of ABAG is coming very much to light. More and more citizens are discovering the power of this non-elected organization precisely because its housing quota for Berkeley “boggles even the most ardent smart-growther’s mind” (Mark Rhoades). As more Berkeley residents learn of this unfair and top-down social engineering, ABAG will lose the little credibility or legitimacy it might have possessed in the public’s mind. Perhaps this will lead to a reformation of the deeply flawed process that has produced such questionable numbers. 

Patti Dacey 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Tom Swift has just expressed in these columns his great displeasure regarding the Milo situation. He casts “shame” on those who driving the dog and cat saviors out of Berkeley. Topping his shame list is the Zoning Adjustments Board (ZAB). I would guess that many others in town share this opinion. 

Maybe the following information can shed better light on the situation. 

Last summer, as neighbor protests erupted in public, the zoning staff contacted East Bay Community Mediation to see if mediation could resolve this situation. I talked to many parties, and discovered that Milo was already undertaking measures to try to reduce their impact on the neighbors. We decided to delay the mediation process until these measures were in effect and to see if Milo could lower the negative impact. In October we held two mediation sessions between Milo and 15 members of the newly-formed Solano Avenue Neighborhood Association. 

There had indeed been some progress in lowering impact. The mediations went well, as one by one agreements were reached on the agenda of needed further reductions. We agreed we needed at least one further mediation to try to complete the problem agenda. On Oct. 26 the ZAB had scheduled a hearing on the Milo permit. The zoning staff, which had all along encouraged our efforts to seek a workable solution within the zoning ordinance, had agreed to recommend to the ZAB that it postpone the hearing for two weeks to allow the mediation to finish its work. The ZAB seemed poised to grant this request when a letter was read from the city attorney that in her opinion Milo was acting as a “kennel” and that was expressly forbidden and thus any permit would be illegal. 

The hearing was then postponed “off calendar” for the express purpose of giving time for the Planning Commission to explore amending the city’s kennel restriction. It was during this hiatus that the Milo board decided to withdraw their permit proposal. 

At every stage in their five-month dealings with the mediation service the zoning department seemed to do their utmost to find a way for Milo to find a level of activity that calmed most neighbors which would make a permit easier to be obtained. 

Thus do I think if there is a list of “shameful” opponents of the Milo Foundation, the zoning board and the zoning staff should properly be taken off that list. 

Victor Herbert 

East Bay Community Mediation 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

There are many of us in Alameda who would love to host educational and research facilities on Alameda Point, instead of the high-density rack-and-stack-to-the-sky housing that some people propose. Maybe Alameda Point could be the new home to a UC Berkeley Student Athlete High Performance Center with regular shuttle busses between Alameda Point and the UC Campus. (or regular ferry service between Alameda Point and the Berkeley Marina). I think many people in Alameda would love to be involved in working to make this happen.  

David Howard 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

Regarding the Alameda Journal, Bob Gavrich hit the nail more squarely on the head than I have seen in a long time. 

I suggest that Alameda citizens make the Journal feel some pain with a circulation boycott. Follow these steps: 

1) Call circulation and ask them to stop delivery of the Journal to your front door. Log the date and time of call. 

2) Step 1 will actually have no effect. Call back and ask again, and escalate to the circulation manager, capture his name and mailing address. Log the date and time of call. 

3) Step 2 will actually have no effect. Write a letter to the circulation manager and demand they stop littering your front porch with their paper. Retain a copy of this letter. 

4) As the papers continue to come in, collect them in a pile. If possible capture the license plate number of the van that the distributor uses, as they drive by and throw the paper. 

5) Collect all of the papers, log records, and copies of your letter to the circulation manager, and take them down to the Alameda Police Department and file a complaint that the Contra Costa Times/Alameda Journal is littering your front yard with their newspapers, even though you have repeatedly asked them to stop. Insist that they take action. 

Bill Davidson 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

When Cody’s Books closed its doors, Editor O’Malley suggested in her editorial that the store may have survived had owner Andy Ross deigned to advertise in the Daily Planet. Now we see the demise of Black Oak Books looming, and I suppose the same response could be offered. Oh, but wait—Black Oak is a Daily Planet advertiser. Well, maybe if they had taken out a bigger ad....  

Berkeley retailers, take heed. 

Steve Reichner 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

The Daily Planet’s enduring quest to de-legitimize the State of Israel took some bizarre turns in the Jan. 19 edition. In an article entitled, “Iran: Thinking the Unthinkable,” one would have thought that author, Conn Hallinan, was about to alert readers that Iran is thinking the unthinkable, namely, that for the holy purpose of bringing on their messiah, the 12th and hidden imam, they will rain nuclear-tipped missiles upon Israel, “wiping it off the map.” Alas, if you can believe it, Hallinan expresses the very opposite concern, namely, that Israel might preemptively attack Iran’s nuclear facilities. He even worries aloud that Israel will use low-yield nuclear weapons to bust Iran’s bunkered nuclear facilities. To Hallinan and the Daily Planet, Iran’s deeply bunkered nuclear weapons sites are more important than Israel’s whole population. Hallinan then goes on to propose a chain effect that this will, according to him, inevitably produce. To hear him tell the story, this chain reaction will start with a Shiite uprising in Iraq (what have we got now?) and end in nuclear war between Pakistan and India. Nowhere does Hallinan mention that failing to deal with Iran’s nuclear weapons will more likely set in motion an entirely different set of events such as nuclear war between Iran and Israel, triggering a worldwide nuclear winter; the very end of the concept of non-proliferation, with Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and others rushing to join the nuclear arms race; and nuclear weapons inevitably ending up in the hands of terrorists who might explode them in the port of Oakland, obliterating Berkeley and the Daily Planet. So dark the con of Hallinan. 

Adding to the Daily Planet’s upside down view of the world is an op-ed in the same issue by long time pro-Palestinian activist, Henry Norr, decrying Amazon’s decision to post a lengthy and scathing review of Jimmy Carter’s anti-Israel book on its website, relegating more positive reviews to a secondary position. His complaint: a lack of even-handedness. The Daily Planet has got to be joking. In issue after issue of the Daily Planet we are treated to lengthy anti-Israel and even anti-Semitic “op-eds” and “commentaries,” while Israel’s defenders are generally relegated to the letters section, or, as in my case, suppressed altogether (even though I am widely acknowledged to be a responsible and articulate defender of Israel, many of my letters have gone unpublished). 

John Gertz 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

It looks like that Berkeley Daily Planet is taking sides with some folks like Dan Spitzer who flood this newspaper with their letters to the editor to childishly criticize Jimmy Carter’s book and anyone who welcomes this book. Mr. Carter has written a balanced book that brings to the fore crimes of the Zionists in Palestine for the past 30-60 years. Such a book had been overdue for a long time. When Mr. Carter pacified Egypt some 30 years ago by brokering peace between Egypt and Israel, he was considered a hero by Israelis. Now, after 30 years, when he has eventually awakened and sees the cancer of Israel is spreading all over the Middle East, Zionists call him “an enemy of Israel” and “anti-Semite,” etc. He, of course, still talks for the interests of the United States and Israel. He is simply saying that if the apartheid of Israel continues, soon people from Algeria to Indonesia are going to fight against the United States and Israel interests. He is saying that Israel has to make some concessions before it is to late. He is still the best friend of the Jewish State. Stop criticizing him and his book. 

Mina Davenport 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Dan Spitzer’s characteristically venomous personal attack upon Jimmy Carter for writing Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid is all the recommendation I need to buy and read the book.  

Gray Brechin 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Conn Hallinan’s reporting of recent events involving Iran, Israel and the United States is a rare and sound analysis of the risks of an impending attack on Iran. Still, two points are worthy of amplification. 

First, such an attack (which appears to require nuclear bombs for success) would likely lead to unconditional war with Iran, a nation of 70 million citizens that is four times the size of Iraq. Moreover, unlike Iraq, Iran has been purchasing advanced missile technology (including advanced anti-ship missiles) from China and Russia. Further, unlike Iraq, Iran can deliver devastating economic blows because it is ideally situated to shut down the flow of oil from the Persian Gulf through the narrow Strait of Hormuz. The price of oil would no doubt spike to new records if Iran could shut down the Gulf. Also, Iran could launch massive attacks against out troops in Iraq. In short, all out war with Iran will be many times uglier, bloodier, and costly than the current debacle in Iraq. 

Second, the political process seems deaf to these risks. The people seem oblivious to the risks of war with Iran and the costs that this would entail. Both political parties right now want to take tough stances with respect to Iran, regardless of differences with respect to Iraq. The only way to change this fact is through a massive re-education campaign. Informed citizens must write to their representatives and to media outlets right now. Protests after an attack will be useless. 

I doubt the American people wish to expand the war in the Middle East by a factor of three or four, or to use nuclear weaponry on a nation that has not attacked us. But if such a reckless war is in the offing, our leaders should level with us on the consequences, and seek to conduct such insanity only pursuant to legitimate democratic deliberation. Let us not repeat the errors of the past and stumble into a major regional conflagration without at least the informed consent of the people.  

Steven Ramirez 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

One of your Israel-bashing columnists recently consumed about 12 column inches expressing this thought: 

Zealots should organize economic boycotts against the publishers of any dogma-threatening truth (e.g., “Carter’s book has lies, distortions and major omissions.”). 

I know you allow free expression, but cutting to the chase would have saved trees, ink, and reader time. 

David Altschul 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

In case anyone thought that the current Iraqi government is an Iraqi government of, by and for the Iraqi people: there is a piece in Der Spiegel (Dec. 22) to the effect that that “democratic” Iraqi government is now considering a law to give significant control of Iraq’s oil reserves to the international oil companies through “production sharing agreements” that guarantee them vast profits and influence at no risk. As we all know this can’t be true because the President’s men (and women) insisted that the Iraq occupation was never about oil. But while we’re on oil, some have noticed that gas prices at the pump are soaring again. Now that the election is over—though the lower gas prices didn’t help Bush Jr. as much as his oil friends had hoped—we’re back to the gouging for record profits. Don’t pray for government intervention at Christmas time. It’ll turn you into an atheist.  

Marc Sapir