Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

Tuesday September 18, 2007


Editors, Daily Planet: 

Cal football fans and football: evil. Doug Buckwald: good and virtuous. How long has Doug worked for the Planet?  

Matthew Shoemaker. 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I almost fell out of my chair laughing when I read Doug Buckwald describe himself as a “Cal Bears fan.” Would a fan (or any decent person for that matter) value the lives of a handful of run-of-the-sawmill trees over those of student-athletes, coaches and his fellow fans? That is precisely what Mr. Buckwald and his cronies are doing in their attempt to block the construction of new sports facilities in Strawberry Canyon. Make no mistake—every day that construction is delayed by is another day that environmental fascists put lives at risk (including—as a season ticket holder—my own). Apparently Mr. Buckwald only cares about the lives of trees—people, not so much. 

I find it even more laughable that Mr. Buckwald thinks “it would be helpful if Chancellor Robert Birgineau, Athletic Director Sandy Barbour, and Coach Jeff Tedford would address their fans publicly to encourage more civil behavior toward the guests that come to our campus.” There has been a video from Coach Tedford or one of our student-athletes for years encouraging fans to act with class and dignity (which is more than I can say for Zachary Running Wolf or Ayr). I figured that a real fan—such as Mr. Buckwald—would have noticed that, but I guess he’s been too busy being an activist for the asinine to take in any football games over the past five years. Finally, as for Mr. Buckwald’s absurd claim that we should be respectful of our “fellow alumni who may feel differently from them about the appropriateness of current construction plans,” that is certainly the pot calling the kettle black. Maybe when Mr. Buckwald gives up his strategy of lies and lawlessness I’ll have some reason to respect him, but I won’t hold my breath. With fans like Doug Buckwald, who needs Stanford? 

Jeff Ogar 

Actual Cal Bears fan 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I completely agree with your observations about the Berkeley Rep as far as advertising in the Planet. They are getting a free ride. Certainly hundreds, maybe thousands, of their subscribers and donors are Planet readers. I don’t know how they know what your demography is or, for that matter, what newspapers their demography reads. I personally don’t remember being asked such a question. These arts groups ought to support other arts groups and other like-minded public institutions, such as the Planet, rather than merely maintain themselves as little fiefdoms. 

Bennett Markel 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Becky, your Sept. 11 editorial reads like a terrorist attack on the Berkeley Rep with whom you are angry for not advertising in your paper. Like Shakespeare’s Iago, you seek to poison our affection for one of Berkeley’s most beloved arts organizations by explaining how a minor marketing decision is really a personal insult to you and your readers. Next, you attempt to set one arts organization against another, sorting out the faithful from the wicked. To ensure that all the poisons will hatch out, you then invite the disaffected to send complaints about the Rep to you for publication. Oh, what a pretty mess you’ve made as “the green-eyed monster, which doth mock the meat it feeds upon.” How can any arts organization or civic-minded citizen now feel comfortable doing business with you?  

Mike and Shirley Issel 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I was surprised to read that Berkeley Rep does not advertise in the Daily Planet. The Rep seems to encourage supporting local businesses in its PR materials. I therefore agree with John McBride (Letters, Sept. 14) that the Planet would do best to focus on reviews of “smaller, perhaps semi-amateur or struggling groups.” As a volunteer usher at the Rep for more than 20 years, it is clear the Rep saves lots of money by having the more than 800 volunteers do all the ushering etc. It seems this might free up funds for local advertising. 

Although I and other ushers I know have always been treated extremely well by our supervising staff, I also agree with Debra Sabah Press (Letters, Sept. 14) when she says: “the Rep has a lot to learn about how to treat its patrons and its community.” 

Finally, most of the Planet readers I know also attend performances at the Berkeley Rep. 

Mary Ann Brewin 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

In response to the Sept. 11 editorial Becky O’Malley concerning the arts scene, I do think it would be a good that both the Berkeley Repertory theater and the Aurora Theater advertise in the Daily Planet. 

I personally don’t check advertisements as we do subscribe to both the Berkeley Rep and the Aurora. I will mention it to them. Thank you for the heads up. 

Wendy Markel 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

This letter relates to the city’s lawsuit against Cal’s plan to build a Student Athlete High Performance Center and retrofit Memorial Stadium. As a 28-year resident and homeowner on Panoramic Hill, my family and I should be strongly opposed to the University’s construction plans, since we would be some of the neighbors most severely affected. 

But we’re not. Instead, we wholeheartedly endorse and support Cal’s plans and hereby request that the city drop its lawsuit. 

The Panoramic Hill Association by no means represents the majority of people living on Panoramic Hill. It instead is the voice for a small number of selfish individuals with NIMBY attitudes. What did these people expect when they moved onto a hill behind Memorial Stadium? How can they make such a big deal out of stadium lights that will be used a few evenings/year, for the convenience of many and the slight inconvenience of very few? These are the same people who protest concerts at the Greek Theater. Again, what did they expect when they moved here? My wife and I attended concerts at the Greek Theater back in 1970, so I know they’ve been going on for at least 37 years. Imagine if Cal tried to build the Greek Theater today; what an outcry there would be! 

The City of Berkeley should not be fighting Cal on this issue. Please consider the following factors: 

• Cal is by far the most important element in what makes Berkeley the great city it is. Without Cal, Berkeley would be just another El Cerrito.  

• Does it really matter whether a new building is 10 feet, 100 feet or 10,000 feet from the Hayward Fault when the big one comes along? I suspect not. Just look at the damage in Oakland and San Francisco from the Loma Prieta Earthquake, whose epicenter was quite a few miles away.  

• Whatever risks there are from the Hayward Fault running underneath Memorial Stadium have been known for decades. For the city to now tell the University that they must retrofit the stadium before building the SAHPC rather than immediately after seems disingenuous to me. Cal is gonna retrofit the stadium, and with private funds. Five years ago, this wasn’t in the cards. So now the city files a lawsuit about the sequence of construction? Come on! 

Folks, it’s time to stop with the navel-gazing and instead look up and to the future: imagine it’s 2027, and we have hundreds of 20-25 year-old trees on the Cal campus that are not there today. In addition, we have the level of athletic facilities that a world-class University should have, and the University and city are proud of them. 

This debate reminds me of the bitter protests in San Francisco back in the early 70s against the construction of the Transamerica Pyramid. Today, this building is considered a city landmark and most San Franciscans are proud of it. 

So I ask Mayor Bates and Berkeley City Council members to please look up and to the future, and stop wasting city funds on this lawsuit. 

John McMahon 




Editors, Daily Planet:  

Recently I had occasion to wait in the main lobby of the Berkeley Police Station on MLK Way to make a crime report. I had to “make my report” first into a phone extension in the lobby of the echo chamber of the waiting area in the main lobby while everyone there was privy to my particular concern, and I to others’ reports: some very serious, and personal. For instance, there was a young mother there who had experienced both a physical attack and a attack on her car, and had her young daughter, in tow, both traumatized.  

This little girl didn’t need to hear her mother recount the details of her trauma on the phone, in the lobby, and again in a interview room. Someone should have come out right away and taken them in, and while the mother recounted her trauma, the little girl could have been kept amused by another officer with a popsicle and a kind word: been more sensitive. 

We all needed to use the restroom facilities as the wait was quite long to be interviewed. The restrooms in the lobby were all marked “CLOSED.” Upon inquiry, we were directed to go to the Old City Hall Building, which meant losing our place in line, and in the case of this young mother: she needed to stay put and be seen ASAP, and to maybe wash away her tears and get her little girl to the bathroom!  

I asked about the “CLOSED” signs; ie: “Were they out-of-order? I was told by the officer who eventually took my report, that the bathroom had been “closed since 2003” due to “security concerns and terrorism...probably connected to 9/11.” This seemed a bit mis-placed, since the police could, on a case-by-case basis give the key to those of us waiting in line, if they are concerned about leaving it open and unlocked on a general basis. 

Something is wrong with this picture. The main lobby of the BPD is NOT “user friendly,” however the officer that took my report was the picture of professionalism! 

Linda Tumulty 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Leaving my home last Saturday to escape the stadium noise, the Berkeley policeman who was stopping traffic told me “The games are just a few days!” Unfortunately, the impact from UC football, band rehearsal, other sports played in Strawberry Canyon are not just a few days. The games number seven this year. Band rehearsal is continual. This year the band practiced with simulated crowd noise. Yes, simulated crowd noise. 

And this noisy rehearsal was at night. The games used to begin at 12:30 p.m. One game this year will begin at 7 p.m.! Night time noise is more offensive because background noise lessens in the evening. Given a maximum of four hours, the noise may last until 11 p.m. In addition to the football games are games played in Strawberry Canyon, many again with simulated crowd noise. 

On top of all the games are the 14 or so Greek Theater events that blast so-called music until 11 p.m. Another Planet pays UC over $1 million to rent the outdoor theater and annoy many neighborhoods. Perhaps you can figure out the educational purpose of Greek Theater concerts? I cannot. 

To make things even worse, UC plans to rent out the stadium for other events. Perhaps they too will be as noisy as the Paul McCartney concert and flood UC with noise complaints as far away as Montclair. The Berkeley City Council could tax events at the stadium, as they once did when UC rented the stadium to the Raiders, but I doubt that will happen. Perhaps they could also tax the non-university events at the Greek. 

After all why should UC be the only governmental institution that makes money out of creating a noise nuisance? 

The noise problems from UC stadium, Strawberry Canyon, Peoples Park Concerts and the Greek Theater all add up to far more than just a few days. Weekend evenings without noise are few and far between. Unfortunately, the State Health Services office that controls noise nuisances created by state agencies is not funded. And because it doesn’t have to, UC pays no attention to the noise ordinance promulgated by the city. 

Noise has health impacts. Some places actually pay attention to such details, but not the University of California. 

Ann Reid Slaby 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

I was surprised to read Doris Nassiry’s concern about the new use of our yard waste containers. Oakland has had this system for a while and I haven’t heard any complaints from my Oakland friends. I live on the Oakland/Berkeley border and walk Oakland’s streets as much as Berkeley’s and haven’t noticed any “rodents and crawly critters” associated with food stuffs in the yard waste. I was thrilled to get my cute little green kitchen can and eagerly rearranged things under my sink to accommodate it. Our household of four has gone from two bags of garbage a week down to one. I’m on the cusp of exchanging our medium-size gray can for that little round one. Composting really does shrink our footprint at the dump. Berkeley needs to continue following Oakland’s example and start taking our plastic No. 1 and No. 2 yogurt (and other) containers. 

Laura Mahanes 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

In the report on the Code Pink demonstration at the Oakland Federal Building to end funding for the war in Iraq, Judith Scherr failed to note that there has been a vigil regarding Iraq at that same spot every Tuesday at noon for almost 10 years, and those vigilers were there that day, too. 

Spearheaded by Carolyn Scarr and the Ecumenical Peace Institute, the focus for the first few years was a plea to end the sanctions, which contributed to the deaths of many thousands of Iraqi children. The focus changed with the onset of the war against Iraq. Each Tuesday, several hundred informational flyers are distributed to those walking past. Every third Tuesday, there is a “Living Graveyard” street theater, with reading of names of Iraqis and Americans killed in this war. All are welcome to join. 

Dorothy Wonder 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The public lynching of State Fish and Game Commissioner Judd Hanna (ironically himself a Republican and a duck hunter) by the National Rifle Association and their cronies, with the help of 34 ethically challenged legislators (Republicans all) is a despicable example of the dirty politics in Sacramento. Good timing, too, just as the legislative session ended. And they wonder why people hate politicians. A pox on all their houses! 

Judd Hanna is one of the best commissioners we’ve had in years. He’s bright, knowledgeable and committed to protecting our beleaguered wildlife. Mr. Hanna is “Old School.” He actually believes in good science, ethics and “fair chase,” unlike the majority of the hook ‘n’ bullet fraternity yapping on the fringes. 

According to the Sept. 14 Los Angeles Times, it was another Republican, former Commissioner Mike Chrisman, now secretary of resources, who told Mr. Hanna to submit his resignation. Mr. Chrisman is a decent man—I can only presume that he received his orders from higher up. Must politics always trump decency and the democratic process? So it would seem. And wildlife and all Californians suffer accordingly. We can likely kiss the condors goodbye, along with our vanishing game wardens. We must demand a public statement about this sorry affair from the commission, from the Department of Fish and Game, and from the Resources Agency. And the Fish and Game Commission should resign en masse, as a matter of principle. This is an unforgivable betrayal of the public trust. Meanwhile, the citizenry should raise hell by contacting the governor (; the Fish and Game Commission (Executive Director John Carlson,; Acting Director John McCammon,; Resources Secretary Mike Chrisman, 

Eric Mills 

Action for Animals 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

How moral and ethical is it for wealthy corporations to purchase government-subsidized buildings, full of elderly and disabled people, then force them out of their units which has been home for them for more than a decade? 

So far two disabled people have lost their Section 8 housing vouchers because they ran out of time. Relocation fees have not been provided. In a variety of meetings between homeless advocates and the City of Berkeley regarding what is to be done when Berkeley Housing Authority is closed. The city has repeatedly told advocates, that those who have been on Section 8 will be helped by the city of Berkeley to relocate. 

A 70-year-old disabled tenant of a Russell Street building is being asked to move by Oct. 1. Without the existence of Berkeley Housing Authority, and the existence of a very long waiting list in Oakland, what chance does she have to relocate? Such cases urgently need the help of the city. 

With the eminent closure of BHA, the City is solely responsible to those who need rent subsidies to continue with affordable low income housing. And while it may be argued that it is too late for those who were removed from the lists, those who are about to lose their contracts should be helped, as they are disabled, elderly and fit well within the low income requirements. 

The Berkeley city attorney in a previous Daily Planet article, stated that the fraud that has happened at the BHA is the worst in any department in 20 years. In fact, it is a disaster which shows the true color of this city demonstrating it’s uncaring policy towards the disabled, poor and elderly. In the wake of this disaster, some $25,000,000.00 designated for low income affordable housing is left unaccounted for. All parties who have been responsible for this disaster will one day be held accountable, as taxpayers, we ought to keep abreast of the current investigation underway by the Federal Housing Authority in San Francisco. 

Dianne Arsanis 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

It is painfully obvious that the 9/11 Commission failed to ask the pertinent questions, failed to grill witnesses with fervor and foolishly allowed the White House to dictate the investigation. No true investigation ever took place. Two buildings were hit in New York, yet three fell into their own footprints. Never before in the history, or since, has any thing like this ever happened. 

And what has our 9/11 fearmongering got us? Two wars, thousands more Americans killed and a tarnished, if not trashed, reputation around the globe. If anything, the failure to capitalize on our tragedy should be grounds for ignoring this president and opening a new, truly independent investigation. Today. 

Thank you and peace to us all, 

Rick Pickett 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

For four years, the Bush administration keeps on asking for more time, and a lot more money, to keep its failed war-of-choice going. It is always the same prediction, “in 12 to 18 months the Iraqis will be able to govern without us.” The truth is that we can not “win” this war. No “victory” is possible for us in Iraq, only continued shame. 

Yet, Sen. John McCain has a point when he says that leaving Iraq in retreat would be a disaster. So, what is the way out of this mess that Bush and Cheney put us in? 

We should separate ourselves, our government, and our country, from the corrupt leaders who got us into this war through their deception and lies. We should prosecute these officials, who usurped our government, for being the war criminals that they are. Then we can leave Iraq in an orderly manner, with apologies for having confused Saddam Hussein with Osama bin Laden, and find redemption through bringing to justice the people who committed these war crimes in our name. 

Bruce Joffe 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

This letter is to bring to the attention of neighbors of French Hotel at 1540 Shattuck Ave. in the heart of gourmet ghetto that cell phone antennas are planned to be installed on the roof of French Hotel. A meeting will be held by the City of Berkeley regarding these antennas on Sept. 20 at 7 p.m. in North Berkeley Senior Center. Please come to this meeting to express your objection to the planned antennas. There are already too many of them in north Berkeley. 

Sanjay Sanwal 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

“A uterus is not a substitute for a conscience.” So said Barbara Ehrenreich in her 2004 essay, “Feminism’s Assumptions Upended,” following the revelations regarding Pvt. Lynndie England’s role in the torture of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib.  

Now comes Biofuel Oasis, a “women-owned cooperative that operates a biodiesel filling station...and sells fuel made from recycled vegetable oil,” who are attempting to displace Kandy Kar Wash, an African American business, by offering their landlord double the rent for the site they’ve been operating out of successfully for the past seven years. Oh, and they can’t afford to pay for the permit, so they’ve applied to the city to have this waived.  

We’re not told about the ethnicity of Biofuel Oasis cooperative members, so we can only assume. Will the City of Berkeley agree to subsidize the plunder of this historically African-American neighborhood? If even the citizens of Berkeley are unable to connect the dots, is there any hope for humanity?  

Lily Kay 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

This past Friday night another teen party meant to be a small, contained event spun out of control when uninvited people arrived to cause trouble. In addition to far too many people showing up, there was a gang of seven or eight guys behaving as menacing thugs robbing kids. By 9:30 the host shut the party down sending fifty of so kids wandering the streets. As the kids regrouped and walked towards BART and the 7/11 store, they were confronted by this gang. Dozens of teens lost money, phones, shoes, beanies, electronics, whatever. When my son’s group was taken by surprise, one of boys stepped up to protect the youngest member and he was assaulted, an unfair fight with six on one. The ring leader resorted to using a baseball bat, removed from it’s hiding place under his shirt. Luckily our boy will recover, but was injured enough to be sent to the hospital. It was at this point that my son quickly called 911 and provided the police with sufficient details leading to a positive ID and an arrest (a veteran of the street wars). 

What concerns me very much about all of this is that outside of my son’s group of friends, nearly all the kids, even those robbed and upset, expressed shock and surprise that my son called the cops. As if his decisive action violated some unspoken code or agreement. In Febrary 2006 a promising young man died from stab wounds when a party on Contra Costa Avenue got out of control and turned violent. Not one of the hundred party goers or the residents on that block called 911 when an emergency occurred. Is it more than the alcohol impairing their judgment?  

I am very disappointed to see time and again teens’ social events marred by violence. I am just as disappointed in the lack of public discourse to address these issues and the attitudes of so many of the community leaders who gloss over the facts and pretend that all is well. It is not! Is the anti-snitch mentality so pervasive in youth culture reinforced when our schools and community fail to provide an honest and realistic picture of youth crime and gang culture? Why is it that every discussion on youth crime is more concerned about any negative or stigmatizing view of the youth offender and rarely concerned about justice for victims?  

My son is content, his decisive and determined action brought some peace and justice for his best friend and stopped this crime spree from continuing that night. And just maybe this ring leader now under arrest will wise up and realize the evil in his ways. And yes, intentionally taking a baseball bat to hurt somebody is evil, for sure. 

Thanks to the El Cerrito Police, who were fast, responsive, decent and professional. 

Laura Menard 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

There is nothing patriotic about white anti-immigration groups targeting a whole segment of society—Mexicans, Latinos and hard working immigrants. Discrimination, prejudice and intolerance characterizes the anti-immigration movement so why does the Republican party embrace and give sanctuary to these pundits of bigotry?  

Every day on the buses I hear and see angry white folk spewing out their hatred toward hardworking Mexicans. It’s like deja vu 1950s all over again when whites demonized blacks. 

The GOP will use border politics, politics of division as their mainstay in the 2008 elections to shift attention away from the failed war in Iraq. It plays well to core supporters and lowest common denominator of the party. 

Ron Lowe  

Grass Valley 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The president asked us in a prime time address last week to be patient.  

Seventy percent of us have indicated that we want the occupation to end. Does he think we feel that way because we’ve grown impatient?  

No. We want the troops to come home because they’re being killed and maimed for no reason!  

Besides, it was his impatience that got us into the mess so it’s only fair that our impatience should get us out. 

Marvin Chachere 

San Pablo 




President Bush: Time’s 2004 “Man of the Year” 

Soldier wife lives in Fear 

American blood in the sand 

President’s man Carl Rove smartest in the Land. 


Mr. Book of Virtues rolls the dice 

Whales in Las Vegas have no vice 

We are fighting for God and American Apple Pie 

“And that,” says Mr. Book of Virtues, “is no lie” 


Another Talk Show champ and chump lights cigar, 

his private plane flies so far 

“Thanks for the sacrifice,” he says 

“President Clinton was a mess” 


American nurses sporting head-scarfs in Iraq 

Trying to keep our Image in whack 

Rumsfeld’s condolence letters multiplied 

As more of our soldiers died  


Great Republicans on the golf course 

chatting about this war without remorse 

Another soldier returns without a limb 

America’s future is looking dim 


Our President hosts a dinner tonight 

And cannot discuss the fight 

Diplomats and Celebrities must be fed 

The President has no time to view the dead. 


—Theodore Willem