Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

Tuesday February 27, 2007


Editors, Daily Planet: 

I would like to point out a several factual errors in Judith Scherr’s article regarding Measure G and Sustainable Berkeley. First, the contract with Sustainable Berkeley to help run the greenhouse gas effort is for one year, not two. Second, the Measure G planning meeting Mayor Bates held two weeks ago was, in fact, “put out publicly.” More than 2,000 people were e-mailed inviting them and anyone else they knew to participate in the Measure G process. Notice of the meeting was also published in a major local newspaper. The only item I did not have time to do was post it on the mayor’s website. Third, the Measure G planning process will be open and follow the public meeting and notice rules for this type of process as detailed in the San Francisco sunshine ordinance and the draft Berkeley Sunshine Ordinance. Fourth, while I was honored to recommend Timothy Burroughs for the job of organizing the greenhouse gas reduction effort, he was actually selected by Sustainable Berkeley after an interview process with their executive board. 

Cisco DeVries  

Chief of Staff  

Office of Mayor Tom Bates  




Editors, Daily Planet: 

While I appreciate the effort the Daily Planet has put into discussing the Sustainable Berkeley contract with the city (“Sustainable Berkeley Contract Questioned,” Feb. 20) my comments on the subject and my name were misrepresented in the article. My quotes were paraphrased to say that commissions shouldn’t “take on the task of reducing greenhouse gases.” I never said or implied that CEAC or other commissions shouldn’t take on climate change. I was asked if I saw a difference between CEAC and Sustainable Berkeley in coming up with a climate change plan. There is of course a difference. CEAC is a city commission filled with dedicated volunteers and has a very specific role as an advisory group to the council. An independent group can receive money, hire people, and publish their own findings. I further said that it was in the best interest of Berkeley citizens to have CEAC involvement and comments on a climate change plan. 

Jason Kibbey 

Chair, Community Environmental  

Advisory Commission 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I would like to thank all my supporters in the mayoral election. According to the Daily Planet (Nov. 10), I received 1,341 votes, or about 5 percent. The final count was 1,880 according to Berkeley’s official results available from their website.  

I received a great deal of support from potential voters who have been driven out of the election process. One friend of mine told me that she would have voted for me, if she voted. Untrustworthy counting methods and the lack of viable candidates who reflect the people’s interests make some Berkeley residents refuse to participate in the voting process at all. So I would like to thank those individuals who would have voted for me; they did in spirit. 

Though my campaign was people-powered and unfunded for the most part, one supporter did manage to donate financially after hearing about my campaign on the Internet. His name is George W. Rogers. 

Thank you also to Thunder who died mysteriously shortly before the election. He volunteered to be my campaign manager. I often say that he voted for me with his life since his death was not investigated by the Police Department. 

Zachary Running Wolf 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

There is absolutely no public interest in using computer to speed counting of votes. The ramifications of elections are enormous. The integrity of the vote is the foundation of our democracy. 

Computerized voting systems exist only to speed voting results to news media and candidates. The public needs accuracy, fairness and accountability in elections; not speed. 

Haste makes waste of elections. 

Stop corrupt, unreliable voting machines from undermining public trust. Amend HR811 to require paper ballots. 

RJ Godin 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Vice President Cheney is 180 degrees wrong when he besmirches Speaker Pelosi’s effort to end the war as “validating the al Qaeda strategy.” Al Qaeda’s strategy is to continue the war as long as possible. Their recruitment is up and higher than ever. Their opportunity for on-the-ground training against the best the United States has to offer is priceless. Every day that we occupy Iraq validates the insurgents’ claim that they are defending their homeland, and Islam itself.  

Come to think of it, every day that we try to hold Iraq fosters and fans the Cheney fear of terrorism. Every day our soldiers and civilian Iraqis get blown up validates Cheney’s idea that we need to continue down this disastrous path. Every day our country spends millions of dollars in Iraq, Cheney’s company, Halliburton, gets richer.  

Ignorance, arrogance, incompetence, and corruption, these are our enemies, manifest by Cheney’s misjudgments.  

Bruce Joffe 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

Regarding the “City workers appeal anti-gay fliers removal” article in the Feb. 16 Oakland Tribune:  

As a plaintiff in the case no one knows better than I do what my intentions were for posting the flyer to form the Good News employee association. I wasn’t implying that homosexuals lacked ethics or integrity. From a Biblical perspective all humans are created in the image and likeness of a loving creator—starting from that premise, homosexuals have dignity and worth. My focus is ideas: Marriage (one man, one woman), natural family and sexuality from a Christian world view. These Ideas are worth preserving. 

What’s disheartening is the psychological and emotional tactics used by some of the militant homosexuals to desensitize and bully the public into accepting the homosexual lifestyle as normal and natural. Why is it necessary to use elementary, middle and high schools as pulpits to teach our kids that homosexuality is an immutable characteristic when science has not discovered a gay gene? Promoting this idea in public schools amongst the most impressionable age group of society could mean only one thing. Recruitment is necessary to increase the homosexual population. 

Something is gravely wrong when all opposition on an issue is silenced politically, judicially and socially. 

What homosexuals want is complete social acceptance by any means necessary. 

Regina Rederford 

President, Emmanuel’s Coalition 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The 110th Congress is poised to revise, remodel and renew the No Child Left Behind act and all indications are that it will be guided by the findings of a star-studded commission on NCLB made public a couple of weeks ago. The 75 recommendations in this 225-page report could have been deduced, in general, from a careful analysis of the resumes of the commissioners catalyzed by the fact that not a single student was among them. 

There were 15 members assembled by the Aspen Institute. Ten hold degrees at the doctorate level. Four are women. One is a union organizer. No more than five have actually taught in public secondary schools and only one is currently so engaged. One of the co-chairmen is a White House Cabinet Secretary and the other is a state governor. There are two CEO’s (Intel and State Farm), and four college level professors. Most have held positions in government. Two are directors of private companies engaged in education. The group is blessedly bipartisan. 

Given that these commissioners are a fair sampling of the system’s brain trust, shouldn’t they bear some collective responsibility for its shortcomings? And, if so, how seriously should we treat their recommendations? Why ask the people who broke the system how to fix it? Or analogously: If you want to fix a broken car why ask the driver how to do it? 

Just as the recommendations of the report were predictable based on the experiences (and lack thereof) of its commissioners so, I think, we can predict the outcome of pending Congressional action. Full of sound and fury…. as usual. Very likely a good thing, too, for the nation’s students and teachers. 

Marvin Chachere 

San Pablo 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

Regarding the petition against the David Brower Center and Oxford Plaza, it is disheartening to witness the deception being pulled by the referendum’s authors. Yesterday, another signer relayed being told that David Brower was opposed to the project using his name. As someone who knew David Brower well and personally worked with him at the inception of the Brower Center project, I know this to be patently false. The referendum authors’ claim that the office space will be rented to the UC is a similar falsehood. I know this because I am a staff member at Earth Island Institute, one of the many non-profit conservation groups lining up to be renters at the Brower Center. The petition drafters also continue to spew the falsehood that the property was sold for $1, while failing to reveal that the project is paying millions of dollars to replace the surface parking with an underground lot to be owned and operated by the city with all revenues going to the city. 

I have heard from a number of fellow residents who regret signing once they understood the false premises being used to justify the petition, and some have decided to remove their names. I think readers should know that they may have their names removed from the referendum petition. 

In order to do so, your request must be made in writing to the Berkeley city clerk, and received at least one day prior to the date the petition is filed. As the deadline to file the petition is March 1 at 5 p.m., your letter must be received by the city clerk no later than Feb. 28. 

In order to remove your name, request that the clerk withdraw your name from the referendum petition against “Ordinance 6,965 Oxford Plaza and David Brower Center project amendments to the disposition and development agreement.” You can mail your request to City Clerk, 2180 Milvia Street, Berkeley, CA 94704; fax to 981-6901, or e-mail the scanned image of the letter as an attachment: Your letter must include your signature, date, printed name and residential address where you are registered to vote. 

The City of Berkeley deserves better than the campaign of deception against the David Brower Center. The David Brower Center and Oxford Plaza will create a lively downtown, a meeting place and educational resource for those committed to social and environmental change, a model green building that will serve as an example for the region and other cities, and badly needed housing, all near public transportation. After so much work by so many people in our community, it is finally time to break ground and create the center. 

David Phillips 

Executive Director, Earth Island Institute 

Board Member, David Brower Center 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I am writing regarding Oakland School Board Member Dan Siegel’s assertion that the proposal to sell OUSD surplus property failed, in part, because of my leaving office, implying my support or acquiescence of the proposal. Nothing could be further from the truth. 

In fact, when the proposal was made I wrote and spoke to California Superintendent of Education Jack O’Connell to share my problems with the educational and economic viability of the plan. I made it clear that unless the process was transparent and made sense for students, parent, teachers and the community, I would oppose it. Without community buy in and lack of detailed financials, it is not surprising that it did not go forward. 

Wilma Chan 

Assemblywoman, 16th District (ret.) 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I am writing to report that BCA at its Feb. 25 membership meeting, unanimously voted to support the Oxford Plaza affordable housing project and the Brower Center. Specifically, BCA came out in opposition to the petition campaign now underway to delay the project, which may in effect kill it. 

BCA members reported that others had said that they had signed the petition because they were mis-informed by petition gathers. Participants learned that there is a procedure to get one’s name removed from the petition and that they should call BCA at 549-0816 for more information. 

Linda Olivenbaum 

Co-chair, BCA 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I have a good friend soon to be paroled from state prison and he will be subject to the provisions of Jessica’s Law. I don’t believe that they should be applied to him because he was already in prison when the law passed on Nov. 7, 2006. If it is enforced and he is subjected to the residency restrictions and the GPS monitoring it is a violation of the ex post facto clause of the United States Constitution. 

I believe that protecting our children is extremely important, I have children of my own, but I also believe that protecting out Constitution is important because without the framework it provides our society as we know it will collapse. Prop 83 was passed out of fear, without the majority of the electorate really reading and understanding it. It needs to be thrown out and other legislation, written clearly and concisely needs to be brought before the voters. 

Thank you for your consideration 

Sandy Port 

Sunnyvale, CA 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Prior to my letter being printed in the weekend edition of the Daily Planet (Feb. 16-19), I received a phone call from our City Manager Mr. Phil Kamlarz, informing me that Berkeley is in the process of working on the Willard Park homeless encampment. I also was able to speak with an understanding representative from Berkeley’s Department of Parks and Recreation, who let me know of a new policy to remove all unattended carts/wheelchairs that are used to store personal possessions if the public calls to report it. 

Our city’s homeless service providers are quite familiar with the Willard campers and let me know that that they have attempted to work with them by offering shelter and that their offers are refused. What it boils down to is this: If the city really wants to be proactive in preventing the homeless from camping in Willard Park, then their actions will reflect this. 

Being born and raised in Berkeley, and attending public schools (where I now teach) has allowed me to both observe and take part in the senseless bureaucracy that entrenches every policy surrounding our wonderful city that is truly Berzerkeley. 

When I was a kid in the ’70s and ’80s, (yes, I am old-school Berkeley) Willard was a really fantastic park with a thriving after-school program (which is ironically where the homeless have made their encampment). There were family events and the Pickle Family Circus was a summer staple. We created a beautiful bench on Derby, and the bathrooms had gorgeous murals of fish painted on them. I was an active participant in those projects, and feel a connection to the park in a way that Cal students in the neighborhood never will. 

I want my daughter to feel safe playing in our neighborhood park. She sees the people who live in Willard panhandling daily in front of the 7-Eleven on College for their 40-oz. and recognizes them as the people who have chosen to live in the city’s park. Nobody can force any person to accept help if it is not wanted. If our homeless services have reached out and had their offers of shelter refused then it is time for the city to step up and take action. This is actually something that they can do if they want. It simply needs to become a public priority and then the police will be instructed to enforce the city codes. 

Sabrina Kabella 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Habeas Corpus. A term we’ve been familiar with since eight grade civics class. In essence, it (1) prevents the government from holding any citizen without informing him/her why they are being held, and (2) the person being held must be brought before the court to determine if they are being held unlawfully. As Americans, we have taken these constitutional protections for granted. After all, isn’t it true that “everyone has their day in court”? Not anymore.  

That’s right. We are no longer protected from unlawful detention.  

Thanks to the Bush administration and with the former Republican Congress’s support, over the past few years our rights have step-by-step been weakened. And ultimately, the right of habeas corpus was finally stripped from us last fall, just prior to the elections. The Military Commissions Act of 2006 not only affirms the government’s right to indefinitely detain people who are identified as having “supported enemy hostilities” but actually prohibits the courts to hear cases of habeas corpus. The person being held has no way to defend against the determination that they are supporting the enemy. 

Currently, at least three American citizens have been held for several years each—without being charged, without being allowed legal representation, and without having their “day in court.” Who knows how many more have been “disappeared,” just like in third world countries. 

You may want to believe that such things can’t happen to you. Keep in mind that by sending this letter or an e-mail or making a phone call, I myself could be determined to be “supporting” the enemy. And by receiving my e-mail or phone call, so can you.  

Read that again. So can you. By receiving an e-mail or phone call. By participating in a peace march. By writing a letter to the editor. By writing to your senator. By being overheard complaining about the government to your neighbor. 

This is how it starts. And if you are taken away in the dead of night, who would you tell your side to?  

We can’t let this happen.  

Please write your own letters protesting this usurpation of our rights. Write to your elected officials at all levels. Write to every newspaper, TV, radio, and cable station you can find. And encourage your circle of friends to do the same. Take some time away from your favorite guilty pleasure reality show, and use your energy to stop the machine from rolling over our rights. After all, they can’t detain us all. 

Can they? 

Sharon Graham 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The United Nations says Iran’s nuclear effort is in high gear and reports that Tehran may be capable of a nuclear warhead in a year. Big deal! How is Iran going to deliver its one nuclear warhead and even if the country’s religious aristocracy is crazy enough to do so it would mean sure nuclear suicide for the country. 

President Ahmadinejad and the world knows that if Iran did the unthinkable with its one nuclear weapon (if and when) there wouldn’t be a house or tree left standing in Iran and there goes Mahmoud’s religious crusade, boom.  

Ron Lowe 

Grass Valley