Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

Friday October 26, 2007


Editors, Daily Planet: 

In Richard Brenneman’s Oct. 23 article entitled “Density Bonuses, Liquor Licenses on Planning Agenda,” it suggested that the joint density bonus subcommittee was only comprised of members of the Planning Commission and the Zoning Adjustments Board. 

However, the City Council also appointed members of the Housing Advisory Commission (HAC) to the subcommittee and they participated as full voting members in the subcommittee’s discussions.  

I am sure that it was a honest mistake, however I would appreciate it if that point could be corrected to reflect the HAC’s participation in the process.  

Jesse Arreguin  




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I was at the West Berkeley Community meeting on Oct. 16 and was amazed at the rude behavior. People shouted insults from the audience. One fellow took hold of the microphone and wouldn’t give it up. He continued his rant until the time ran out and others who were waiting didn’t get a chance to speak. This is Berkeley democracy? 

I have had some problems with the way the West Berkeley Business Alliance has handled their proposal, but also with the spin that WEBAIC and some community members have given it. It is time to get over any mistakes that were made and also to get over hurt feelings about being disrespected, not informed, ignored etc. Let us get on with discussions about what needs to be done and who is willing to lend what kind of support. We are neighbors, not enemies. 

Bob Kubik 




Editors, Daily Planet:  

The commentary masquerading as a news article reporting the retirement of City Attorney Manuela Albuquerque deserves a response. We have just witnessed the nation’s understandable loss of confidence in Attorney General Gonzales. His diminished standing resulted from the accurate perception that he lacked the necessary integrity commensurate with that position. While many of us believed the legal advice he provided was incorrect at best, what was particularly troubling was his lack of independence—the concern that he tailored his legal advice to meet the demands of theadministration, regardless of whether prevailing law and the Constitution supported that position. We now know that Attorney General Ashcroft maintained his integrity while rejecting the demand of Gonzales, Cheney and Addington to approve certain surveillance programs. 

The city attorney’s responsibility is multifaceted and exceptionally difficult. She must provide legal advice to city officials and the City Council on a wide range of issues, including personnel and employment law matters, zoning, police conduct, compliance with federal and state mandates, etc. She also must defend the city in wide-ranging litigation and initiate litigation as well. 

In asking her to carry out these responsibilities, we must not expect perfection. Nor must we expect that the city attorney’s reading of the legal landscape always will conform to ours or to those held by our elected officials or city administrators. If we demand such conformity, we are, in effect, demanding the same politically-based fealty which the Bush administration demanded and received from Attorney General Gonzales.  

If what we demand instead is integrity, advice based on a fair attempt to interpret and apply the law, and a vigorous effort to defend suits brought by and against the city, we must conclude that the city has been very well-served by Ms. Albuquerque’s tenure. Although I have locked horns with the city attorney’s office and challenged its interpretation and application of the law, I never had cause to question the city attorney’s fidelity to the people of Berkeley or her devotion to fairly interpreting and applying the law to further the city’s interests, without sacrificing her integrity or independence.  

It may be that few tears were shed about her departure; unfortunately this may reflect a desire to retain a city attorney in the Gonzales mode, i.e., an attorney who will obligingly follow the ideologically-based dictates of those in political power when the advice is sought. Let us hope, instead, that the new city attorney aspires to exhibit the independence and integrity of our retiring senior legal officer.  

Thom Seaton  




Editors, Daily Planet: 

And good riddance to you, Manuela. You built a career by telling the city manager and City Council what they wanted to hear, which is not the same as providing good legal counsel. Take your golden parachute and just go. 

The city no doubt will go through the motions of a major search for your replacement, but in it’s wisdom probably will end up replacing you from within. This would be a serious mistake. Like the other law enforcement agency that has been in the news recently (Hi, Alberto), this one needs to be rebuilt from the top down. 

Evelyn Giardina 

Walnut Creek 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Sorry, I cannot remain silent in the face of Becky O’Malley’s Stalinist-type revisionism (see her Oct. 23 editorial). I must point out that when I had my iron-clad case before the courts, I received absolutely no support or assistance from anyone of Becky O’Malley’s ilk, with one single and brave exception: Dona Spring. My case was based on an incontrovertible truth of the Brown Act, which specialists like Terry Francke now in retrospect freely admit. If I had received public support, it might well have made all the difference. As it was, I walked into a hostile court room as a sole pro per litigant up against two huge monoliths: the City of Berkeley and the University of California. Naturally, I got the short end of the stick, but along with me, the entire citizenry of Berkeley got the short end of the stick, and it is at least as much the fault of Becky O’Malley and all of her ilk as Chancellor Birgeneau or Mayor Bates. I guess I just wasn’t an influential enough member of the cliques that rule Berkeley to warrant the support of anyone. But now I must point out that those cliques are equally culpable to the villains they constantly try to create in the fiction of their editorials and commentaries. 

Now we must rely on the existing lawsuit, which also lost in the trial court and is now on appeal. However, the issues in that lawsuit are in fact much more “iffy” than the iron-clad issue in my lawsuit. But just like the very ones they constantly accuse, those of Becky O’Malley’s ilk do not look at the merits of an issue, but only at the status of the lawyer bringing the lawsuit. They do not really believe in the democracy of ordinary people any more than the high-flyers like Chancellor Birgeneau and Mayor Bates. Theirs is a bourgeois interest in promoting themselves up to the level of other members of the petite and not so petite bourgeoisie. 

Peter J. Mutnick 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I feel I have to respond to Becky O’Malley’s Oct. 23 editorial about the Downtown Area Plan Advisory Committee. For what it’s worth, I strongly support the proposals to allow much greater density in downtown Berkeley. O’Malley would apparently assume that I must be either a shill for the university, or a smug denizen of the hills who would never consider living in one of the downtown condominium buildings myself. I do, as it happens, live in the hills; I also work at the university, which (for what it’s worth) strikes me as far and away the best and most interesting thing about Berkeley. A downtown plan that permits higher densities would in fact help the university build the laboratories and museum buildings we need to retain our competitive edge as one of the world’s leading centers for higher education. But that is not the main reason I support such a plan. My concerns are rather to make our city a more urban and livable place, and to support a more environmentally and socially responsible pattern of development for our region. 

When contributors to the Daily Planet carry on about the threat that density poses to the cherished character of our town, I must confess I have no idea what they are talking about. Downtown Berkeley is at present a pretty desolate and unattractive place, one that many citizens avoid if at all possible. This is a real pity, because—unlike Westwood and Santa Cruz—our downtown has the potential to be a vibrant, small-scale urban center, with a dense network of public transportation options at the foot of a great international university. The obvious problem with downtown Berkeley right now is that it is not dense enough; we need more people on the streets at all times of the day and the evening, supporting shops and cafes and restaurants and theaters, and contributing to a flourishing urban culture. I believe a denser downtown Berkeley would become a much more attractive place for everyone who lives in and visits our city. I might even be willing to sell my house and the hills, give up my car, and move into one of the new condominiums. It would be terrific to be able to walk to work and to BART—but only if there is enough density in the downtown area to support a wider array of urban amenities than the area is able to offer at present. 

R. Jay Wallace 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

If there ever was a good illustration of Mark Twain’s statement that there are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics, it is Neil Mayer’s piece supposedly giving us the “facts” about Berkeley’s population density. 

First, it does not appear to me that he has his statistics right. Mayer claims that Berkeley ranks 172nd out of 25,150 “places” in the entire country, meaning that “we are denser than 99.3 percent of all other places in the United States.” I don’t know where he gets his figure for the number of “places” in the United States, but the source he cites, DataPlace, lists Berkeley as 172nd out of 848 cities in population density, putting us in the 80th percentile, not the 99th. DataPlace also shows that Berkeley is less dense than, for example, Boston and Cambridge, Massachusetts, and San Francisco, Santa Monica and Hawaiian Gardens, California, to name only a few. 

Moreover, population density is a rather meaningless figure when it is computed simply by dividing the number of residents of a particular city by the number of square miles within that city’s borders. City boundaries are arbitrary, as we all know. For example, if Tilden Park were included in the City of Berkeley, the City would have 13.7 square miles, not “just under 10.5” and our population density would be 7,751 per square mile, not 10,158. That would make us 324th out 848 cities in population density, putting us barely in the 60th percentile. Everybody I know who lives in Berkeley uses Tilden Park extensively and counts it as part of the Berkeley experience. Why shouldn’t its acreage count in our density figures, just as Central Park counts for New York City and Golden Gate Park counts for San Francisco? 

Anyone who has spent 40 years living in Berkeley (as I have) and a fair amount of time visiting cities and towns around the country, can probably speak more wisely about comparative densities than Mayer’s statistics do. In my opinion, Berkeley can house a great many more people than it currently does, and we are all better off if population growth happens in cities like Berkeley rather than in further suburban sprawl. 

Fred Feller 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

As a modest contribution to the downtown development discussion, I would like to say that living in a fourth-floor apartment downtown has been wonderful. While I see that some people will not live without a motor vehicle, I do not need one at all, as I use BART, AC Transit, my feet, and a bicycle. It is reasonable to think that people who elect to live downtown will be less inclined to use cars than if they chose to live in lower density areas. 

It is also wonderful to be able to walk to everything downtown has to offer, and I would think that downtown could offer even more if more people lived there. I certainly wouldn’t want a downtown that shuts down after office hours, or where parking structures dominate the scenery, both situations that happen when people spread out to lower density neighborhoods. 

Guy Tiphane 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

It has recently come to my attention that Mayor Bates and/or the Berkeley City Council are “floating the idea of a $15 to $30 million subsidy” using city funds for the development by Carpenter and Company of a hotel complex in the middle of our downtown! Can this really be true! Not knowing all the facts, I hesitate to question their action. However… 

I was personally in a meeting when Carpenter and Company presented their idea in October, 2006 about how they were looking forward to doing this project and were very proud of a similar project in Boston. The same month I learned from the then-director of the Berkeley Art Museum that BAM “paid a significant fee share for the firm SMWM, who were retained by the Carpenter Company to develop a master plan for the block.” At no time whatsoever was there any indication that the firm SMWM was going to be doing this project for anything other than profit. 

This project has always been presented to those interested in the downtown as a business investment not in need of a subsidy! 

How can it be that our City Council is considering giving a subsidy to a for-profit organization that has already expressed the opinion that it is doing this project because they think it will be a fantastic financial success. If it is not a financially viable project for SMWM then they should not be in the business of such a development. 

If SMWM and Carpenter and Company are to reap a financial profit then SMWM and Carpenter and Company should make the financial investment to reap such a profit. Too much has been said for organizations that take from the public without remuneration and use it to benefit the already financially endowed commercial enterprise. 

I hope that in no way have Mayor Bates and/or the City Council undermined the hard and determined work of those citizens on the DAPAC who have sought to include this project in their recommendations. Please note, if it was not for the interference of the university in the business of running our city then such an effort would never have to have been made in the first place. 

Wendy P. Markel 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I wrote a commentary piece for the Oct. 5 issue of the Daily Planet in which I asserted that the Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board has virtually nothing to do. Their three mandated tasks are gone or damn near gone. The Annual General Adjustment is now automatic, the Board itself has promulgated such regulations that there are now virtually no Individual Rental Adjustments and Costa Hawkins, the state law that imposed vacancy decontrol upon Berkeley, makes registration unnecessary. And yet the Rent Board has 18 employees and spends $3.5 million a year.  

As sensitive as Berkeley’s progressive community is to criticism, I expected a wave of rebuttals. And yet, the Daily Planet has published five editions since printing my commentary and no one has come forth to refute my position. If I am wrong, I would love to hear the opposing viewpoint. I challenge to Rent Board or any of its supporters to justify the size and cost of its bureaucracy. I am making some serious charges. Defend yourselves! If no one will prove me wrong, I can only assume that the Rent Board indeed spends millions to do virtually nothing.  

Albert Sukoff 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Last year I resigned from the Republican Party. It no longer represents me, nor does it represent America. It represents a relative handful of conscienceless, greedy people who are willing to destroy our country to feather their nests. I pray that enough people wake up and repudiate (a great word: reject with shame) the Republican party while “America” is still restorable. 

K.C. Rourke 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The Planet’s characterization of the biotech industry’s latest risky adventure as “tweaking genes in the drive to turn plants into fuel for planes trains and automobiles” suggests that this project is not only innocent enough, but maybe green as well. The biotech industry has gone to great lengths to repackage their dangerous work as to appear to be legitimate. The work that will be done here is a part of the larger effort to promote ethanol/GMO technology and has the same disastrous environmental and biological consequences as planting GMO crops for food.  

The corn favored by the industry for ethanol is GMO corn. Much of the land used to grow food for people would now be used to grow GMO plants for “planes, trains and automobiles.” This means less food for people and higher prices. To insure that all people can eat, we should be working to establish local control of lands to grow, harvest and distribute food, not federal control. This is vitally important if we are to regain our health and freedom. Eating naturally produced foods that are locally produced are important in maintaining healthy people and healthy communities. 

Let’s also remember the problems of cross-pollination by growing GMO are also the same, whereas non-GMO crops are easily contaminated when the wind blows. Recent studies in Colorado have shown that consuming GMO plants weakens natural immune function. 

In short, the biotech industry’s experiment with ethanol and other plant derived fuels, now being conducted, in part, right here in Berkeley is risky business with unintended consequences. A closer look at the big money and the players involved tells the rest of this sad story. 

Michael Bauce 



Editors, Daily Planet: 

Dear Debbie Dresser of Hayward: You sound like a good person, and I believe you are not “pro war.” I would consider myself “anti-war,” but if another country’s government bombed my home and killed my loved ones, I know I could become warlike, maybe even strap on a suicide bomb. That is what our country has done to innocent Iraqis over and over and over. Do you ever imagine what they feel like? They are human beings just like us. Please don’t say that Saddam Hussein attacked the World Trade Center. That has been disproved. I believe you and I are not pro war, but there are people who are. Like Dick Cheney and George Bush and Blackwater and the other rich military contractors who are making a killing off this war. They can’t seem to get enough. They want to attack Iran with nuclear bombs now. Do you believe we should not have any say in what wars are just? Leave it up to those is power and blindly follow? Do you believe stealing their oil is a good motive for war? Some of us question these things. Maybe you should watch the video “Iraq for Sale.” I think you are being used. Do you not think Melanie Morgan is raking in big bucks to carry water for our corrupt administration? Have you heard the expression, “follow the money”? There is not big money in being antiwar. Think about it. 

Vivian Warkentin 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I came to the Wednesday Oct. 17 demonstration at the Marine recruiting station in Berkeley just as the anti-war protesters being herded to the east side of Shattuck yet I realized instantly how tactical a move that was for BPD who were in charge of keeping “the peace.” Each side, Code Pink and other anti-war groups on the east side and Melanie Morgan’s pro-war groups on the west side of Shattuck, was shouting, chanting, and singing in competition and, at times, in response to each other. It was raucous and angry. I decided to stay among the pro-war side to film some of their singing. When a young solder came to the mic and accused the anti-war side of “not knowing what they’re talking about,” I asked if he thought General Abizaid and General Sanchez, both former commanders in Iraq, knew what they were talking about. I was immediately pushed and shoved toward the other side of the street. I was incensed by their violence and asked a Berkeley police officer to cite them for assault. He laughed at me and after cooling off (on the east side of the street) I realized that BPD had their hands full with keeping overall crowd safety. So I watched as the pro-war people sent roaring Harleys crawling past the anti-war side racing their engines as loudly as possible, and as a pro-war “patriot” raced across the street and cut the cable of Code Pink’s bull horn. None of these acts of provocative violence were sufficient to merit BPD’s response. It was as I’d surmised. When I asked an officer if he couldn’t enforce the noise statute against the motorcycle drivers I was told “I’ve got bigger problems.” Nevertheless when an anti-war protester torched a small American flag a booted BPD cop was on him in less than five seconds. The burning flag was not near anyone close enough to endanger them immediately. I want to know why the BPD so blatantly chose to ignore the various violations of the law by the pro-war side and were so quick to abandon their “bigger problems” to act against an anti-war protester. 

Joseph Liesner 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

Regarding recent letters from Gale Garcia and Revan Tranter: We won’t really know until the 2010 census whether Berkeley’s population has declined or increased from the 102,743 found by the 2000 census. The California Department of Finance’s most recent estimate is 106,347. However, that claim seems dubious given that in 2000, thanks to the dot-com boom, the rental vacancy rate was an unusually low 3 percent. The vacancy rate has since, thanks to the dot-com bust, roughly doubled, so the U.S. Census Bureau’s most recent estimate that the population has dropped slightly to 101,555 seems more plausible. 

However, even if the CDF estimate is closer to the truth, that is still a substantial drop from the peak population of 116,716 recorded by the 1970 census. In other words, in those days our town housed 10,000 to 15,000 more people with fewer buildings than we have today. 

Robert Lauriston 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I was surprised at Revan Tranter’s claim (Oct. 23) that the US Census Bureau doesn’t make annual estimates. They can be found on the Census Bureau website here:, showing the population of Berkeley at 103,068 in 2000 and at 101,555 in 2006.  

The American Community Survey (mentioned in another article in the same issue) states that while it produces various estimates, “it is the Census Bureau’s Population Estimates Program that produces and disseminates the official estimates of the population. . .” 

Still, I’d like to thank Mr. Tranter, who was executive director of the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) from 1973-1995, for responding to my letter, and for his interesting and educational article of 2001: “ABAG: A Concise History” which I first read years ago. 

In this history, Mr. Tranter details the hard times experienced by ABAG during the 1970s and early ’80s, when a third of their staff were laid off and the remaining staff took a cut in pay. Following are three quotes from the article. 

“What probably helped restore a measure of financial security [to ABAG], and even persuade most of the few remaining non-members to join, was the decision to make up for the reduction in planning capacity by becoming more of a service agency.” 

“In 1983, ABAG launched its first financial services program: credit pooling. . . . and with roughly a hundred jurisdictions (let alone many more if the program could be marketed outside the Bay Area) there would always be at least a few cities or counties contemplating capital funding. . . “ 

“Today borrowers include not only cities and counties, but special districts, hospitals, universities, schools, nonprofit housing and health care organizations, housing partnerships, and private businesses. More than $1 billion dollars has been provided in tax-exempt financing. Visit the University of California’s handsome systemwide headquarters in downtown Oakland and you are looking at a building financed by ABAG. Seven different programs are offered on a statewide basis, and the savings to members have been immense.” 

ABAG’s power is about capital funding—largely for construction. It is not surprising that ABAG promotes a belief in relentless population growth, no matter what is actually occurring. If construction came to a halt in California, ABAG might, once again, experience hard times. 

Finally, I think that many Berkeleyans are tired of the term NIMBY, and tired of the name-calling directed at those who try to preserve what is left of Berkeley’s charm, its revenue generating small businesses, and its wholly unique small-town—yet cosmopolitan—flavor. 

Gale Garcia 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Chevron, with headquarters in San Ramon, is one of the largest corporations in California and has a presence throughout the Bay Area. 

Chevron’s human rights human rights violations (or complicity in violations) span three continents: 

• Chevron, one of the largest foreign investors in Burma is allowed to operate in Burma by a loophole in existing U.S. sanctions against the country, and has provided significant revenues to Burma’s military regime. Chevron continues to do business in Burma despite the current upsurge in repression there. 

• Chevron is being sued in Ecuadorian courts for intentionally dumping 18 billion gallons of toxic waste into the Amazon rainforest during the 28 years (1964 to 1992) it operated an oil concession there. 

• Chevron also faces a trial in U.S federal court in San Francisco on charges it paid Nigerian military and police personnel to fire weapons at villagers staging a protest at a Chevron oil platform in 1998, killing two. Nigerian villagers also charge the company with being complicit in an attack on two villages that left four others dead. Chevron has no defined human rights policy despite shareholder pressure. Amazing as it would seem, Chevron is a sponsor of a Business for Social Responsibility Conference being held in San Francisco today. 

Given all this information (which can be found at and, I believe people in Berkeley would want to explore ways to address concerns about Chevron’s business practices including learning what, if any, is the nature of the City of Berkeley business with Chevron. 

Judy Shattuck 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Like so many disputes in Berkeley, the arguments over Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) make me want to hit the mute button. 

The AC Transit proposal would not convert Berkeley into a mini-Curitiba as some proponents imply. 

What it would be is a significant improvement over the existing Rapid Bus and its predecessor services. It would attract some people who would otherwise drive. As is always the case in transit, much depends on how land is developed adjacent to the stops. 

BRT would not compete with BART. Anyone who pretends that it would is either woefully ignorant or deliberately deceiving. BART and BRT are intended for different markets. BRT would have many more stops than BART. Few of them would even be within walking distance of BART stations. BRT would also run more frequently. 

Some opponents argue that the money could be better spent on different projects. This is a bogus argument. AC Transit needs state or federal money to implement the project. They either get it or they don’t. If they do get outside funding, it will be for the BRT project. They will not be able to divert it to another project. If their BRT project materializes, it will bring benefits to Berkeley at no additional local cost. 

There are also fears that automobile traffic would spill over on to neighborhood streets. The allegation that such spillover with BRT would be worse than without it lacks analytical or logical support. 

The BRT program lays a good foundation for future, higher capacity and less petroleum-dependent alternatives like trolley buses and/or Light Rail. That is the right direction for Berkeley to go if we believe that human activity is responsible for global warming. 

Some would rather see BRT replace the notoriously unpredictable Route 51 service along University Avenue. In AC Transit’s long range plan, that would be the next step after the current proposal is implemented. 

We should all encourage Council to do what they can to realize the AC Transit BRT project. 

Bob Piper 

Former Berkeley Director of  





Editors, Daily Planet: 

I don’t know whether I should have laughed or cried while reading “School Council Releases Draft Proposal” in the Oct. 23 issue. To replace academic instructional time with a lamebrain advisory whose goal is to “help students create a vision of their future” is downright criminal. Students are failing because they are not being taught basic academic skills. It’s obvious what kind of future awaits those who can’t write a simple sentence or make change for a $20 bill. It’s bleak. And the conjoined twin of advisories, block scheduling, has already been tried at Berkeley High. It was abandoned as a complete failure seven years ago. Surely the Berkeley School Board won’t approve removing an hour and a half a week of instructional time and replacing it with an advisory program that has a sketchy at best curriculum, especially when similar high schools are abandoning the advisory/block scheduling program as another failed education trend. 

Maureen Burke 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The residents of South Berkeley won an important victory at Tuesday night’s City Council public hearing. They pursuaded the council to abstain on Verizon’s application to install 11 cell phone antennas atop UC Storage at 2721 Shattuck Ave. The night before the hearing a demonstration at Mayor Tom Bates’ house was also very successful. With 12 hours of notice beforehand, 30 people showed up with signs reading “Stand Up And Lead” and “Don’t Sell Us Out.” 

At the public hearing itself, more than 60 residents turned out to convince the City Council of our intent to continue fighting for greater local control over the siting of cell antennas. The council listened, stood up and led. They did not run away from the Verizon lawsuit. Of special note, Mayor Bates joined Max Anderson and Dona Spring in supporting the Zoning Adjustments Board denial of Verizon’s application. (The rest of the council abstained.) This action sets the stage for a final action to keep the ZAB’s decision intact at the next City Council meeting on Nov. 6. Keep that date in mind for a final resolution at the City Council level. We hope to have a good turnout for that meeting as well. Thank you to the community for all your support. 

Michael Barglow 

Berkeley Neighborhood  

Antenna-Free Union 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

It is a mistake for the Crossroads Co-op to try to evict Carol Denney, who was an original member of the co-op and has lived there for the last 17 years. When we started the Village Co-op (original name) at 1970 San Pablo Ave. in Berkeley, the vision was simple. We thought it should be a place where the existing tenants could have a home free of racism, sexism or homophobia, where we would be free of landlord exploitation and slum conditions. The board of directors became the ruling body and took over the landlord’s position. They were never supposed to be an elite body looking down on its members. One unit, one vote, was how the project was set up, and each member voted as they pleased. Your unit was your home and no one had any right to force you to make changes you did not approve of; your home is your castle.  

Another thing that was discussed was that no member should ever be evicted for any reason. How could a person be evicted from their home? Limited equity was also to be part of the contract with each unit to guarantee that each person’s rights were realized. There was also supposed to be professional mediation to resolve conflicts.  

Payments were supposed to only be increased because of housing or mortgage conditions, and then only by the board and only by vote of a committee, which means that everything was supposed to be done in a democratic manner.  

We knew that we were not building a utopia, that there would certainly be conflicts and that we would have to deal with them humanly to make life tolerable for our families and friends. It was also apparent that we would have to police ourselves and that we did not live in a perfect world.  

The present atmosphere in the building is one that contradicts the very principles that the co-op was founded on. The Board has decided that innuendo and personal vendettas should replace mediation and common sense. The very idea that the board should push to evict a long time resident without mediation is an injustice in itself. If this continues and the present eviction of Carol Denney goes forward, I will appear on her behalf in Superior Court. Professional mediation should begin posthaste so that no further harm comes to the reputations of Carol Denney or the Crossroads Village Co-op.  

Gary Isom Spencer 

Founder, Crossroads Co-Op  





Editors, Daily Planet: 

No, I’m not recommending sending more of our young people to Iraq to be cannon fodder. I’m talking about sending them to places where we can begin to repair the image of the United States, and do work that will actually benefit the countries we visit, the environment, and (indirectly) ourselves. Some could be administered by the Peace Corps. Others could help restore habitat, train park rangers, and help people learn how to survive without killing endangered species. I’m sure that there are many charitable organizations already doing such work, which could come up with other good ideas. If we had a Department of Peace, it could oversee this work, and do a lot more good than our Department of “Defense.” Of course, it would require thinking about other countries in a new way, not just in terms of whether they are part of an “Axis of Evil.” To avoid contributing to global warming, perhaps they could travel by bicycle or sailboat. . . . I think that such work would do far more good than the Olympics, which harms the environment by causing huge amounts of airplane travel and by promoting environmentally destructive sports like mountain biking. 

Mike Vandeman 

San Ramon 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The “war president “ is up to his old tricks. Bush is deceiving America again; the president wants a missile defense system in Europe to counter the emerging threat of attack by Iran. What we have here is another contrived lie and scaremongering out of the White House. If it wasn’t so crazy, it would be laughable.  

Iran has no missiles, Iran has no nuclear weapons, and Iran is a threat to no one, Europe, America or Israel.  

Will Americans fall victim to Bush’s duplicity and fearmongering and get sucked into another Middle East war? 

Hey, wake up, you’ve had seven years to figure out George W. Bush. This madman could start a global war; he’s got nothing to lose. 

Ron Lowe  

Grass Valley