Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

Tuesday October 16, 2007



Editors, Daily Planet: 

End the war—cut the purse strings—before we have another Vietnam on our hands. 

The deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis does not register on America’s consciousness. 

Do you think your day is going bad? Think about what Iraqis have to put up with every day. 

In 2006 Americans went to the polls to send a message: We want our country back and an end to war. 

Why do millions of Americans still support a war based on lies and a war that has gone horribly wrong? 

Will Americans remain in denial about Bush’s war being about oil? 

Do you believe your eyes about the war in Iraq, or do you believe White House Spin? 

Ron Lowe 

Grass Valley 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

This summer, the Senate and the House of Representatives passed their own versions of a clean Energy Bill. These victories were an important step in the larger battle for strong energy policy in America. Now Congress must continue to move forward and hammer out a strong and clean final version of this Energy Bill. 

The final Energy Bill must include the Senate’s hard-fought compromise provision that would require a 35 miles-per-gallon fuel economy standard for American automobiles by 2020. The auto lobby wants this provision replaced by a “do nothing” alternative, yet according to the Union of Concerned Scientists, the Senate’s position on fuel standards would save consumers $24 billion at the pump each year once the cleaner cars hit the road. Using cost-effective technologies to create these cleaner cars will also create over 170,000 new American jobs, including tens of thousands in the auto industry alone. 

The final bill must also include the House’s 15% renewable electricity standard, which would require electric companies to obtain more power from clean, renewable sources like wind and sun. The Senate has passed similar provisions several times in the past, so industry interests should not be allowed to undermine what is clearly a majority position in both Congressional chambers. 

These provisions will help launch the clean energy economy in America. By reducing our reliance on dirty fossil fuels, they will also put us on the path to energy independence—and a healthier future. 

Congress needs to stand up to industry and other clean energy opponents who want the Energy Bill weakened. 

Terri Aspen 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

Californians must realize the unfortunate reality of our state’s water treatment facilities. Of the thousands of water treatment facilities violating the Clean Water Act in the U.S. today, California ranks as the nations 9th worst where 69 percent of our water facilities, including eleven in Contra Costa County, violate their permits, dumping contaminated waste water with excessive amounts of fecal coliform and traces of E. coli into our surrounding bay and wetlands which threatens public health and local wildlife. Now, there is a proposed budget cut of 395 million dollars to the clean water state revolving fund. Call or write your senator, urging them to reject these proposed budget cuts and hold polluting water treatment facilities accountable. 

Andrew Klaus 

San Francisco 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Last night the Zoning Adjustments Board approved a T-Mobile cellular phone tower in north Berkeley. Neighbors near 2095 Rose Street should appeal the decision. It is unnecessary, as there is already adequate coverage. There are currently too many unsightly antennas. I feel sick at the sight of them. They are an insult to the Precautionary Principle, especially in this residential neighborhood. 

This brings up the problem of the Federal Telecommunications Act of 1996 precluding a city from denying a wireless carrier access based on health concerns. Such is life in a corpocracy. Shouldn’t a city in a democracy be permitted to consider health issues in deciding what is installed in our town? Now that it is abundantly clear, even in the mainstream press, that many government agencies such as the FDA and FCC are beholden to corporate interests at the expense of the public good, it is time for municipalities to stand up for local sovereignty. If a quarter of municipalities facing this quandary would do so, even if only minimally defending their position, the telecom industry and corporate media would take notice, which would help grow the democracy movement. It should be our right to consider the Precautionary Principle in opposing a forest of radiation- emitting antennas on our rooftops, as I believe Mendocino has done. 

year the ZAB rejected Verizon and Nextel applications 5 to 4. If last night’s meeting were not at the same time as Berkeley High School’s annual back-to-school night, additional public comment may have swayed at least Councilmembers Worthington and Spring’s appointees. This was BHS parents’ only opportunity to meet their children’s teachers. 

Bravi to those residents who got word in time and spoke out. Council member Max Anderson’s appointee to the ZAB, Jesse Anthony, deserves high praise for standing alone and voting his conscience against the measure. 

There might be a Design Review Committee meeting on Thursday Oct. 18 to study the design of 12 Verizon antennas on the French Hotel. It meets at 7:00, North Berkeley Senior Center. 

PhoeBe Sorgen 

North Berkeley resident of 18 years 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Glen Hauer (Naim and Halal Market) says he is an activist for Jewish Voice for Peace, but one truly interested in peace should be scrupulously concerned about facts and accuracy.  

Several errors need to be called to Mr. Hauer’s attention.  

1. The city of Hebron, mentioned several times in the Bible, is the site of the world’s oldest Jewish community. It is not and never has been, as Hauer erroneously states, “an ancient Palestinian city.” Jews lived continuously in Hebron since the days of King David. Only in 1929, after an Arab pogrom murdered 67 Jews, did Hebron temporarily become free of Jews. Now the community has been reestablished. (When Baruch Goldstein murdered Arabs in Hebron, his act was shunned and condemned by Jews everywhere.)  

2. Naim, Hauer reports, was a construction worker for the ‘modern Israeli settlement’ of Kiryat Arba, “built on his people’s land.” Kiryat Arba, a name that predates Hebron, is another ancient Jewish city, mentioned in the Book of Joshua. It is a city, not a “settlement” and the land on which it sits is “disputed” land whose status will be finalized when and if a peace agreement is reached. It is inaccurate to prejudge disputed land as Palestinian.  

3. Hauer mentions that the Israeli army has used Caterpillar bulldozers to demolish Palestinian houses. That is true. But does he ask why? Hauer neglects to mention that many homes were destroyed because they contained tunnels through which Palestinians smuggled weapons and equipment so recruited suicide bombers could murder Israeli citizens.  

By presenting false or misleading statements, Mr. Hauer does a disservice to Palestinians, Israelis, and others who want to understand the complicated Middle East.  

June Sutz Brott 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

I can’t remember when I’ve so agreed with a columnist as I did with Gus Lee’s “Recalling Better Time in the Elmwood” (Oct. 12-15). I, too, have lived long enough in this neighborhood to remember each of Lee’s references: shoe repair, Burnaford’s Produce, health food store, Bolfing’s Sporting Goods, etc. He is absolutely correct in his opinions (recall them both) of Mayor Bates and Councilmember Wozniak—neither have been a friend of Elmwood, particularly Wozniak who lives here! “A big, fancy, overpriced restaurant” indeed. Just what we need. I, for one, won’t be eating there. And what help have either of them been to our beleaguered hardware store? Tad needs a helping hand, not John Gordon!!!  

How about Gus Lee for City Council?  

Barbara Scheifler  




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Rejoicing at the news that Al Gore has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, I was struck by the quiet dignity and humility with which he accepted this richly deserved award. Here, indeed, is a good, good man. A wave of melancholy then swept over me, and I thought, “If only—”.  

If only Gore had been in the White House all these years, as he should have been, nearly 4,000 young Americans would be alive today, veterans’ hospitals across the country would not be filled to overflow with amputees, brain-damaged and psychologically ruined men, countless thousands of Iraqi civilians would still be alive, and Afghanistan and Iraq would not be in ruins. And I would not be ashamed of my country. 

Ah, yes, if only— 

Dorothy Snodgrass 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The proposed “visionary” upgrade from three funky, neighborhood outdoor swimming pools to one new, spiffy, indoor pool located at the West Campus site is awful news for some of us. Instead of conveniently walking 15 minutes to swim, without a car we’re supposed to use AC Transit (four buses, two each way), take an extra hour and incur $500/year in bus fees. It will be cheaper, less a hassle and less time-consuming to just swim at one of the UC expensive pools. 

“Visionary” also we’re told is the proposal for the one new pool to be indoor? Surely they’re kidding. Not only is there already a downtown Berkeley indoor YMCA pool for those who want indoor. Some of us consider the aesthetic beauty of the sky with its changing cloud formations and rising or sinking sun and brilliant sunset colors part of the total swimming experience we look forward to. But, hey, an indoor pool will attract more participants, reply the visionaries. Where’s the study showing that? UC outdoor pools and Oakland’s neighborhood outdoor pools are well attended year-round (currently they’re too crowded). It’s wishful thinking to imagine an indoor pool will attract more participation. 

Rumor has it that the “real” reason for the suggested new pool has nothing to do with vision or increased usage. The “real” reason is, what a surprise, money. Evidently it is cheaper to build one new pool than to upgrade and maintain three funky neighborhood pools. If that’s the case, why are we writing letters to the editor, answering questionaires and going to pool meetings? Why the waste of everyone’s time? It feels like the visionaries are manufacturing consent where the decisions have already been made. 

The Berkeley neighborhood pools are a blessing. The new aquatics management made great progress in keeping them running professionally and smoothly. I like the funky, low-tech, colorful aspect of the pools. I like being able to walk a few minutes to reach one. I like swimming under a beautiful ever-changing sky. I will not be swimming at the visionary new pool. 

Maureen Kane  




Editors, Daily Planet:  

A few years ago, The New Yorker (October 18, 2004) published “Green Manhattan,” a story about a couple that got married right out of college, in 1978. They were young and naive and unashamedly idealistic, and they decided to make their first home in a utopian environmentalist community in New York State. For seven years, they lived, quite contentedly, in circumstances that would strike most Americans as austere in the extreme: their living space measured just seven hundred square feet, and they didn’t have a dishwasher, a garbage disposal, a lawn, or a car. They did their grocery shopping on foot, and when they needed to travel longer distances they used public transportation. Because space at home was scarce, they seldom acquired new possessions of significant size. Their electric bills worked out to about a dollar a day. 

The utopian community was Manhattan. Thanks to urban density, it is by most significant measures the greenest community in the United States, and one of the greenest in the world. 

I find it thrilling that we could have our own Manhattan right here in Berkeley. To create an environmentally sustainable future, we will need to make dramatic changes to the way we live, and I’m delighted that the visionaries at ABAG and our City of Berkeley planners are showing us the way in their proposals for Berkeley’s downtown. Sleepy suburbs— and I include Berkeley among them— will give way to vital urban cores, with the vitality of commerce, artistic life, and opportunity we see in New York and other great cities. 

Urban density can and does work. Please embrace it, and the healthier future it will give us, rather than obstruct it. 

Mitchell Gass 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

We feel it imperative, at this time, to get a message out to the community to clarify the mission of the One Warm Pool Advocacy Group.  

There seems to be some confusion regarding this mission and our priorities. We are unfairly being portrayed by some as being contrarians and/or competitors when it comes to the other pools in Berkeley. We hereby go on record and state that this is absolutely untrue and unfounded. We are merely remaining committed and focused in the struggle to retain a warm pool in Berkeley for the disabled members of the community, both young and old. A struggle which has been going on for far too long, especially when you consider that Berkeley has won awards for how well it treats its disabled community. 

As some of you know, demolition of the gym, which houses the warm pool, is on BUSD’s agenda. This site has been in jeopardy for a number of years and it is our goal to save or relocate this desperately needed community resource. Hopefully, some of you remember the late Fred Lupke and others who fought for years to save the warm pool. They were finally successful in getting a bond passed to rehab the current pool at the present site; however, BUSD declared it seismically unsound and we were back in jeopardy of losing the pool.  

We started all over again struggling to save the warm water pool. On top of everything else, the bond measure had been written in such a way that it was not transferable to any other site or location so we were truly back to square one.  

We have been through many, many, many trials and tribulations, i.e., meetings on top of meetings, broken promises on top of broken promises, mechanical failure, etc. Now that we are at a point where we have a completed plan to present to City Council which could possibly result in continuing to have a warm pool in Berkeley, our heartfelt struggle and efforts are being twisted and misconstrued. There are those who say we are being selfish and self-centered; however, it seems that only we remember that we do not have the luxury of waiting another several more years hoping and praying for something, which is now only a vision, to come to fruition. Time is not on our side. Time is our deadliest enemy. 

We sincerely hope that the community will understand, support and join in our efforts to assure that we retain a warm pool in Berkeley. Don’t you all agree that the neediest members of our community have been hanging over this precipice long enough? If others have a vision and/or some other plan for the able-bodied, we wish them well and they should do the same for us without making it a competitive issue. To do so just isn’t fair to the community at large, and more specifically to the disabled community. 

Joann Cook & The One Warm Pool Advocacy Group 





Editors, Daily Planet:  

This letter is to bring to the attention of neighbors of the gourmet ghetto that several wireless providers plan to install many wireless facilities in this area. On Oct. 11, 2007, the ZAB approved four antennas on the roof of 2095 Rose, across from the Jewish Community Center. This area is mainly residential; however, the ZAB ignored this fact. Verizon plans to sit 12 antennas on French Hotel. There are already three antennas on the roof of Barney’s Restaurant at 1600 Shattuck. All these antennas will pollute the gourmet ghetto by hazardous microwave radiation. Even the City of Berkeley Health Department has stated that the long-term effects of radiation from wireless facilities in not known. It does not end there. Verizon has been trying to get permission to install antennas on the UC storage on southside. Their application has been ping-ponged between the ZAB and the City Council. A crucially important public hearing to decide on this case will be held on Thursday, Oct. 23. The public should attend this hearing to object to Verizon. In particular, Verizon is suing the city in order to get rid of the ordinance that regulates wireless facilities. A corporation that is trying to invade our neighborhoods has no place in Berkeley. 

Sanjay Sanwal 




Editors, Daily Planet:  

Tom Bates was a State Assemblyman from Berkeley when I ran for a City Council seat from district 1. Back then Bates would interview local candidates for his endorsement. During my session with him, he said he hadn’t endorsed anyone yet. The next day I was campaigning through the district and found a leaflet for another candidate—with a Tom Bates endorsement! 

I guess he was just picking the brains of the opposition. But it was a flat outright deception! 

When he was a candidate for mayor, Bates emptied the Daily Cal newspaper racks one day because the paper had endorsed his opposition. He claimed he knew nothing about it until witnesses came forward with the fact that they saw him do it. 

Neighborhoods have tried to stop incident after incident in the matter of land use degradation, (even through the courts). 

When Tom Bates took office as mayor, “Smart Growth” slipped in the back door—without so much as a Public Hearing. 

A change is urgently needed. It’s just possible that Bates will have to go, He needs to be recalled. 

Martha Nicoloff, Co-Author, 

Neighborhood Preservation Ordinance 




Editors, Daily Planet:  

Members of private security forces in Iraq have three features in common with persons wearing U.S. military uniforms, that is, with public forces: 1) all got the same basic military preparation, 2) all are there because they volunteered and 3) all are paid with our taxes.  

The Pentagon gets the lion’s share of the federal budget—$450 billion or 51 percent—plus supplements enabling Bush to squander $2 billion a month in Iraq.  

After being discharged, U.S. military personnel can earn five times their former pay if they sign on with private security firms. Of course, this creates a manpower drain and to improve their retention rate the Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force now offer rather large re-enlistment bonuses, as much as five figures for enlisted men and up to $150,000 for officers.  

It is common experience that the harder the job the higher the cost and people who watched the Sopranos on TV can tell you that it costs a lot to have someone whacked. Iraq is a place where both private and public forces whack and get whacked on a large scale. 

All of this means that our public security force in Iraq competes for personnel with private security forces and since we the people pay for both it turns out that we are stupidly competing with ourselves.  

Marvin Chachere 

San Pablo 




Editors, Daily Planet:  

What’s wrong in California? 

With a legislature responsible for the best, most stringent automobile-emissions rules in the country, with at least one major city moving toward assured medical care for all its citizens, California’s noble and eminent university makes news for its reactionary policies. 

Such as: 

• The excessive retirement benefits and perquisites the recently outgoing president of the statewide UC system awarded to himself and those he chose to favor. 

• The gross corruption of values in planning a multimillion dollar “fitness center” next to and along with expanding the already huge and misplaced stadium while student tuition and fees have skyrocketed, departments and offices have laid off personnel, and the university has terminated cheap and constructive services such as the oil-, time- and person-saving jitneys to Davis and Santa Cruz. 

• The cowardly refusal of the Berkeley Art Museum to sponsor Botero’s devastating compendium of historically and aesthetically important paintings and drawings of Abu Graib ... 

In September the chancellor at UC Irvine, cancelled his appointment of Erwin Chemerinsky, a greatly respected constitutional scholar and tireless defender of civil liberties, to head Irvine’s new law school. His reason for dismissal? Chemerinsky was “too politically controversial.” The phrase is muddy English and the implications a disaster. Controversy, differing accounts, estimates, judgments are the core of politics and the core of law. 

Ariel Parkinson