Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

Tuesday May 01, 2007


Editors, Daily Planet: 

Our elected officials are telling us that we need to be creating “green” jobs for East Bay workers. So why is AC Transit getting away with buying buses from Belgium when we could be making them in Hayward? Enabling our own citizens to be paid for building our city and regional public transportation systems is about as “green” as it gets. Why take that money out of our local economy in order to pay people in Belgium to build our buses that then have to be shipped all the way back here, wasting more energy? Let’s stop talking about green jobs and start creating them by putting people to work building the better public transportation infrastructure and transit oriented development that we need here in the East Bay. We should also be putting hundreds of people to work building California’s new high speed rail system in Oakland. Let’s do it! 

Kirstin Miller 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

I’d like to respond to Ms. Hammer, author of the First Person piece, “Compassion and Outrage at the Coffee Bar.” 

Do you go into Berkeley Bowl and ask for 50 percent off your grocery bill? I hope not. Previous Peet’s employees were nice enough to give you this discount off your tea. But the day you behaved as if you were entitled to an extra free tea bag, you lost their compassion. 

I’m sorry, maybe I should be more sympathetic. From now on, in solidarity, I will go into Peet’s and ask for three tea bags. In fact, I encourage all of you—all the readers of the Daily Planet—to go to Peet’s and demand three tea bags for the price of two! Because only an unsympathetic, “wild” young man in “recovery” would turn us down. And if we are misfortunate enough to run into such a person, we know that we will be rewarded with a “loaded” Peet’s card. But I’m sure we would all leave nice tips, anyway, to show our gratitude. 

Anne Torrence 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

We need look no further than Bechtel Corporation for confirmation of Harry Reid’s statement that “this war [in Iraq] is lost.” Last November Bechtel announced it was leaving Iraq after losing 52 workers in three years. When the war profiteers begin to flee, you know the ship is sinking fast. 

David Eifler 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

A national town hall meeting is scheduled at UC Davis, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Tuesday, May 1, on the federal REAL ID Act. 

By selecting the a time conflicting with the nation-wide May Day 2007 National Day of Immigrant Rights, the DMV and the Department of Homeland Security could not have picked a time better suited to minimize the input of “a wide range public and private constituencies from California and other states on issues and perspectives as they relate to the proposed REAL ID regulations.” This is scheduled to be the nation’s only open meeting on REAL ID. 

I hope California has the guts to refuse to cooperate with the so-called REAL ID Act. Reading Vikram Seth’s Two Lives, the perspective granted by his account of the rise of racism and the erosion of civil liberties in Nazi Germany gives me cause to worry about where we are headed. 

Carolyn Scarr 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Of all the Palestinian apologists regularly published by the Daily Planet, Joanna Graham is by far the crudest. According to her latest missive, Palestinians are dedicated to “creative nonviolent resistance,” while the Israelis are consciously attempting to push them into violence. In her words, Israel is “trying for a suicide bombing.” So the Palestinians are like Martin Luther King and Gandhi rolled into one? Please! Palestinians from all major factions have sent more than a 1,000 suicide bombers towards Israel. Of these, only somewhat more than 100 have actually made it through to their targets, causing over 1,000 civilian deaths. Only the security fence and Israel’s vigilance has prevented much worse. But the Palestinians keep trying, with the latest “successful” suicide bombing occurring just last month. Rockets rain down on Israel from Gaza almost daily. Graham can argue that she supports terrorism, but she cannot possibly argue with a straight face that Palestinians are nonviolent. 

John Gertz 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

First of all kudos for your reporter Richard Brenneman for holding the bull by the horns and Becky O’Malley for timely and forceful initiative through her editorial note, “We ‘ll Have to Make Our Own Sunshine” (April 27).  

Taking a lead from the Bay Guardian’s editorial, after sifting through the doings and misdoings of the city manager and mayor of Berkeley, you have rightly concluded to have sunshine of your own by starting with the San Jose Mercury News model and developing an updated version corresponding to the aspirations of the citizens and vocal media to be put to the council as a last chance to adopt it, and if they can’t get it moving, just put it on the ballot as citizens did in San Francisco. 

Incidentally I’m a visitor here and picked your copy while visiting a friend. 

M. Saleem Chaudhry 

San Jose 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I am very sad to know that our schools, colleges and public areas are unsafe places because early screening is not done by health departments or families are hiding certain facts from educational administrators. My suggestion is to have open discussion and then make some change in the school curriculum. We need to encourage people to sense the common good. Each day in Berkeley and Oakland I see graffiti painted in colors which won’t erase easily. We have a right to be helpful and respectful to others but we have no right to hurt or kill others. Is there a way of teaching social studies which awakens fellow-feeling among us? 

Romila Khanna 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

Thank you for running the opinion piece by Terry Doran in your April 27 edition. I concur with everything he had to say. The Berkeley Unified School District’s charter is to provide excellent education for the youth of Berkeley; in order to continue to do that, the district needs to be free to pursue its carefully thought out long-range plans, including plans for the orderly replacement of buildings which have reached the end of their useful lives. It’s not appropriate to force the BUSD to allocate funds to amenities that primarily benefit non-students—the pool is obviously badly needed, but the funding for it needs to be found elsewhere than in the BUSD budget. I can offer some anecdotal confirmation of Terry’s remarks about the condition of the gym and the pool. I taught at BHS in the 1970s (as did Terry) and I can vividly recall what a sorry state it was in then. It was beaten up and it stank—you could smell sweat that must have been there since the 1930s. I still live nearby and pass it frequently, and there’s nothing happening on the outside to suggest that any sort of improvements have been made since those days. I found Terry’s assertion that the present warm water pool cannot remain serviceable for very much longer to be completely believable. 

Finally, as has been pointed out in these columns before, it’s short-sighted and wrong to try to use a landmark preservation process to control permitting or development. In the case of the old gym, the BUSD doesn’t need to be permanently saddled with this old crumbling eyesore, and the warm water pool users can be accommodated—and as Terry pointed out, in the long term accommodated much better—by phasing in a new therapeutic facility in a new location while proceeding with plans for replacement of the gym on the high school campus. 

David Coolidge 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

What would we do without Joe Lieberman? 

The senator himself answered this question in an essay titled “One Choice in Iraq” (The Washington Post, April 26, page A29). 

Without Senator Joe we would not understand “…the nature of the enemy we are fighting …” (paragraph 3). Without him we would not know that we were engaged in a “battle of Baghdad,”å much less that the battle is actually “against al Qaeda” and, still more surprisingly, that al Qaeda’s army is at “war against us” (paragraph 10). 

This most dedicated public servant makes his most important contribution with unique, clear-headed insights. To senator Joe we owe our protection from “specious” arguments (paragraph 13), our intimate knowledge of al Qaeda’s motives (paragraphs 14 and 18) and we can thank him for warning us that responding to al Qaeda’s barbarism by running away leads ultimately to “abandoning…our own future” (penultimate paragraph). 

Sen. Lieberman, twice defeated but still in the ring, has proven himself at least as capable as the person who now holds the office he, Joe, tried so hard to win. 

Marvin Chachere  

San Pablo