Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

Friday August 24, 2007


Editors, Daily Planet: 

On a humorous note: For many years now, my favorite character on TV ads was the Pillsbury Doughboy. He was sweet, naive, and incredibly cute. But when Karl Rove surfaced as Bush’s brain, I felt Rove had tainted my adoration of the “Boy” by his unfortunate physical similarity to my favorite character. Now that Rove has hopefully gone back into obscurity, I can regain my adoration for the wonderful, squeaky Doughboy whom I now can continue to love. 

Robert Blau 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I have been reading Mr. Hardesty’s letters with great interest and am working to absorb his arguments about the role of guns in the deterrence of crime. Let me see if I’ve gotten this right: The reason there is so much gun violence is that there are too few guns. 

Peter Josheff 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I wanted to thank you for all the wonderful historical and activities information about Berkeley and the East Bay, packed into the Aug. 21 issue of the Planet. 

At various times I have gone to the Berkeley Visitors Bureau when needing exactly such helpful information. Unfortunately, other than a slick and generally useless pamphlet, they had little to offer. Planning activities for new arrivals, visiting friends and family is never simple, but the Aug. 21 issue of the Planet will make things much easier. I would like to suggest that you reformat the issue so that it might become a visitors (and locals’) guide book. Perhaps you could get the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce or even the city to contribute to the cost of such a project. Heaven knows, our taxes are spent for plenty of less worthy projects. In fact I would happily purchase such a guide. 

That said, I must admit that after reading the current issue cover to cover, I rushed out and sequestered three more (free) copies of the Planet for my “archives.” 

Peter Klatt 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I assume that Joe Eaton’s omission of Eastshore State Park from his list of viewing spots in his article, “Finding Nature by the Bay,” is because he too recognizes that it is not open to the public except for a single path that almost no one has used in the past three years, most likely because it is so unpleasant. I have written to you before about this subject and I don’t want to harp on it, but the years pass while the area of the park remains closed to all of us here in Berkeley who once enjoyed it. Neither Joe Eaton or Ron Sullivan or Marta Yamamoto ever mentions it, and for all I know they may have supported the closing of the area along with those special interest groups that took control of it. As I said before it is a huge area that has more than enough room for humans and nesting birds to share together in peace and harmony, and I can’t see any real environmental or ecological reason to exclude the former from it. 

I wrote to the Sierra Club and East Bay Regional Parks and the Audubon Society asking them to comment on the situation, but I have received no replies. I know for a fact that none of the groups that the Audobon Society sponsors for nature viewing have ever visited this so-called park, most likely because the single trail is so unpleasant and unaffordable to such viewing. 

In the past three years since the area has been closed there have been, as far as I have been able to see, no new birds nesting there, and I can’t see any reason for maintaining the fence and the restrictions. It is public land and I don’t feel it’s right that a minority should take control of it and exclude the public from it. 

Pete Najarian 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I truly appreciate the attention your newspaper is drawing to the remarkable features of the East Bay, but I can’t let your article about Grizzly Peak’s 75th anniversary go without commenting on the incredible amount of litter and debris that typically festoons this world-class stretch of road. We are so lucky to have it, yet the beauty of driving it and discovering the incredible views is badly tarnished by the sight of trash and debris strewn along the roadway and against the embankments. 

People come from around the world to visit Berkeley, and those who venture up to the top of the hills they’ve heard so much about must think we are a bunch of pigs for the way we treat the surroundings we are so blessed to have. I drive this road almost daily, and I am always torn by the beauty of it contrasted by the ugliness left by those who trash it. It has become an embarrassment to drive visiting friends and relatives up to the greatest view the Bay Area has to offer, while attempting to muster some sort of explanation for the garbage strewn about. 

Is this really the best we can do? Is there no accountability? Can’t we at least post some of those “$1,000 Fine for Littering” signs? And maybe enforce them too? I’d love to hear commentary from the agencies with jurisdiction of the area between Centennial Drive and Fish Ranch Road. 

Michael Minasian 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I am glad to see how concerned people are that our presidential candidates have enough experience. After all, those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it. We have already elected one redneck president whose only experience consisted of less than two years of school, a few terms in the Illinois House of Representatives and one term in Congress. If we are not vigilant, this presidential election cycle may result in us repeating that history with a candidate like Barack Obama, who has considerably more education, but only slightly more experience in Illinois state government and Congress than Abraham Lincoln.  

Thomas Stephen Laxar 

El Cerrito 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

On Aug. 14, you published a letter from Leslie Fleming purporting to defend Chris Kavanagh. She didn’t identify her own “credentials,” but she spilled a lot of ink attacking the personal and political “credentials” of other letter-writers. 

I am one of those attacked by Ms. Fleming. She’s got her facts wrong in several ways, but I won’t bother to correct her. Nor will I question her motives, because I don’t want to join her in a tactic that is all too common in Berkeley—namely, that when you can’t answer an argument, you launch a personal attack instead.  

By ignoring the hard facts of the Kavanagh case, Fleming admits their truth. The truth is that despite filing multiple statements, under oath, claiming he lives in Berkeley, Kavanagh doesn’t. There’s no gray area—Kavanagh doesn’t have “two leases,” for example. He has one, and it’s in Oakland. The owners and managers of both the Berkeley addresses he has used deny that he has ever lived in either place. And there’s no evidence that he is just “visiting” a girlfriend or anyone else at the Oakland address. Kavanagh, and only Kavanagh, is the sole tenant at the Oakland address. He was the only tenant on the lease, and he was the only tenant fighting eviction (with the help of lawyers getting paid by the Rent Board, no less). If there really is some other co-tenant, no one, including Kavanagh, has ever produced any evidence she exists. 

These hard facts raise public policy issues that I addressed in my Aug. 3 opinion piece. But like so many ideologues, Ms. Fleming tries to avoid the serious issues by questioning the motives of people on the other side. These issues go far beyond our dysfunctional Rent Board, and include the corruption at the Housing Authority, the proliferation of subsidized “non-profit” high rises, the sad state of downtown and Telegraph businesses, the near strangulation of nearly all our roads, and a persistent budget crisis. Ignoring the issues, and attacking the messengers, won’t make them go away. 

What Berkeley needs most is a new style of argument, one that results in less noise and more light.  

David Wilson 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Your Aug. 17 Healthy Living column read like an ad for xylitol. I don’t question Mrs. Harmon’s position, but her style is questionable, and I wish she answered her own questions, “If xylitol really keeps down decay, why hadn’t I heard about it, and why aren’t the toothpaste companies rushing to market it?” 

Ken Geis 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I am writing about the case of Kenneth Foster who is scheduled for execution in Texas on Aug. 30. The unjust law under which Mr. Foster was convicted also exists in California as “murder felony,” a law that can convict a suspect of murder through indirect circumstances rather than direct involvement.  

In this instance Kenneth Foster sat in a car 80 feet from an altercation between Michael LaHood and Mauriceo Brown. Mr. LaHood was killed, and eventually Mr. Brown was executed. Now Mr. Foster will pay for a crime he didn’t commit with his life. Please contact Governor Perry in Texas to try to stop this unjust execution and help reverse the State of California’s “felony murder” that operates in a similar fashion. 

Summer Brenner 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Newspapers seem to be a little slow on the throttle at nailing down important issues. A point in case: Republicans are trying to steal California’s electoral votes with a ballot initiative that even a stone could see through. Has your readership been enlightened yet?  

The anti-immigration movement, composed primarily of white males, and with vestiges of the KKK, are demonizing and targeting Mexicans and Latinos for no other reason than an innate prejudice and intolerance. How long are the news services going to let these cretins, who mask their bigotry and ignorance under the guise of flag and country, get away with their charade? 

Ron Lowe  

Grass Valley