Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

Friday December 14, 2007


Editors, Daily Planet: 

In reference to the Nov. 30 article, “Biofuel Project Clashes with Kandy’s Carwash at Corner,” there are some corrections we would like to make. 

First of all, the BioFuel Oasis has no control over whether Kandy’s Car Wash stays or not. The pending eviction is between the landlord and Kandy’s Car Wash—we have not been part of those eviction discussions. 

Secondly, since June we have been in ongoing discussions with Kandy Alford, the car wash owner, about how we can help him in concrete ways. We will continue talking to him both independently and through City of Berkeley mediation. 

Finally, we did not receive preferential treatment from the City of Berkeley in getting some of our permit fees waived: any business can apply to have those fees waived. 

In general, we will be listening to people’s concerns and needs, and try to bring people together to figure out a solution that works for everyone. This is what we’ve been doing in the biodiesel movement and will continue to do wherever we go and whatever we do. For now, we will wait for what happens between the landlord and Kandy’s Car Wash. 

Ace Anderson 

Novella Carpenter 

Melissa Hardy 

Margaret Farrow 

Jennifer Radtke 


BioFuel Oasis Cooperative 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I would like to put to rest this nonsense about the Cal football team having been under a curse as a result of the whole Save the Oaks controversy. Those of us who have been following the Bears fortunes for many years can tell you that they are already under curse almost 50 years extant (no Rose Bowl appearance since the 1958 season). Recent examples are the 2004 Rose Bowl snub, the collapse of the 1996 team, a seven-year Big Game losing streak, and several painful fourth quarter disasters against the University of Washington. Trust me, I could go on. The Bears are cursed all right, but it is a condition that long precedes the tree sitters. On the other hand I can tell you with great certainty that next year.... 

Richard Hourula 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

It is hard to believe that, after all this time, Doug Buckwald still hasn’t heard that AC Transit plans to replace parking that is removed because of In his latest letter, Buckwald writes: “In our case, the lost parking would not be replaced.” 

In fact, AC Transit has said that, where parking is more than 85 percent occupied, it will replace parking and will actually provide more replacement spaces than the number of spaces lost. In other words, any place where there is now a shortage of parking, there will be more parking after BRT is built. 

Since Buckwald’s letter calls for a discussion based on facts, I urge him to contact the planners of this project at AC Transit to confirm this fact. 

Incidentally, in this letter, Buckwald also repeats his call for a debate about BRT. Anyone who has seen him at public hearings, where he tends to read “poetry” and call for shows of hands, knows why no one believes he is capable of having a debate based on the facts. 

Charles Siegel 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

In reference to Kenneth Thiesen’s Dec. 11 commentary about whether the surge is working, it is obvious that Theisen has not been to Iraq recently or heard how much safer it is for the Iraqi people now that the insurgents are being beaten down and that at last the Iraq people feel free and eager to help our troops to get rid of these thugs.  

I find it very sad that those such as Mr. Theisen and Nancy Pelosi have such a hatred for Bush, that they would stoop so low as to put their own selfish and political ambitions before the security and peace of a middle East effort which is finally working. I imagine that if Mr. Theisen were to pay a visit to Baghdad he would see for himself that the surge is working and the Iraqi people are yes, believe or not, happy to have American soldiers giving their lives to save them from the horrible tortures of the likes of Saddam, Ayman al-Zawahiri and other Muslim radicals who are trying to corrupt their own religion and spread terrorism throughout the world.  

If anyone thinks we can “speak nice” to these people, they don’t know these terrorists very well. I feel sorry for such misguided people who fail to get the true story, because they are so eager to turn President Bush into a laughing stock. Who do you think will have the last laugh? 

Sue Pflederer  

Williamsburg, Virginia 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Barbara Lee is an incredible woman and I support her decision to endorse senator Barack Obama. He has been a phenomenal presidential candidate who has the vision to bring our troops home. Obama represents dignity and loyalty to his fellow Americans. His intention is to restore the trust of the American people in which was lost during the Bush administration. He is relatively young compared to other candidates but who is to say that change isn’t good? The demographics of this country are transforming because minorities are becoming the majority. It would be nice to have a new president that doesn’t fit the stereotypical image of America.  

Sanovia Jackson 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

Having just gone into excruciating detail about the Loaves and Fishes Christmas Party a week ago Saturday at Newman Hall, I shall now regale you with an account of the Tele-Care Christmas Party on Sunday, Dec. 9 at Alta Bates Hospital, an equally lively affair. 

In case you’re not familiar with this organization, Tele-Care, is a free telephone service—an Alta Bates Summit Medical Center Program—providing daily calls to people who are homebound, isolated or at risk. Located at the Herrick Hospital Campus at 2001 Dwight Way, volunteers call people every day of the year, holidays included, to check on clients. I, myself, call about 70 people every Monday to check on their well-being. For some, this may be their only contact with the outside world. In addition to this very worthwhile service, social events are also offered, thanks to funding through grants, direct donations as well as matching funds from Alta Bates Summit Medical Center. Thanks to this generous funding, today’s party was a festive occasion clearly delighting the 200 people who attended. There was food enough to feed the city of Berkeley, live music (with line dancing guaranteed to free guests of any inhibitions they might have), table decorations, gifts—the whole works. 

Guests came dressed in their best finery. You should have seen the splendid hats and three-inch high heels on ladies in their ’80s and ’90’s, all of whom look forward to this annual event with great anticipation. I might add, the men looked pretty sharp, too. Granted there were a number of canes, walkers, and wheelchairs, the energy level was so high no one needed help loading their plates at the sumptuous buffet. As with the party at Newman Hall, there was much joy and camaraderie the entire afternoon. We, the volunteer callers, welcomed the chance to see the people we call each week—and they were happy to meet us. 

Dorothy Snodgrass 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Jeffrey G. Jensen’s Nov. 9-12 column claming that Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums lacks leadership on the issue of crime shows some hypocrisy on the parts of the mayor’s critics. Crime, especially homicide, had been skyrocketing in Oakland during the eight-year reign of former mayor Jerry Brown. 

The murder rates had been going out of control under Brown’s watch. Did Mr. Jensen and others demand that former Mayor Brown show some leadership on combating crime as they are demanding current Mayor Ron Dellums? Did Mr. Jensen and others ask for former Mayor Brown to step aside and let Ignacio De La Fuente run this city as they are doing now to Mayor Dellums? 

Jerry Brown didn’t give a damn about Oakland contrary to what the San Francisco Chronicle columnist Chip Johnson says. While I too hope that Mayor Dellums would show some leadership on some issues such as housing, he is trying his best to repair the damage done by Brown in Oakland in terms of crimes, the environment and diversity. 

Billy Trice, Jr. 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

“Here is what democracy looks and sounds like,” chanted 300 of us—black, Hispanic, Laotian, Caucasian, and Burmese people of all ages, walking a mile and a half in the rain from Richmond to Chevron the day after to Bay Area oil spill, to protest Chevron’s expansion. How timely and exhilarating! 

We must stop Chevron’s proposed 22-mile highly explosive hydrogen pipeline from Richmond through Pinole, Hercules, Martinez, and East Bay Regional Park District’s open space. Chevron proposes using cheaper, more contaminated crude oil in its refinery. Attorney General Jerry Brown’s report of July 9 says: “the plant would emit up to 898,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year” ... “potential greenhouse gas emissions appear to be up to 1,961,592 metric tons.” 

Demand Chevron clean up its current eight polluting sources: Waste water pond contaminants, leaking pressure relief devices, toxic flaring, leaking tankers and barges, trucks, unsealed storage tanks, smoke stacks, and dysfunctional control valves (noted by Community for Better Environment). Chevron increased toxic emissions by 80 percent, while Martinez Shell refinery reduced by 75 percent. 

Bhopal, Mexico, Texas and the Chevron fire of January 2007 were caused by mishandled pipes. We assume human error with the Nov. 7 oil spill of 58,000 gallons that fouled our beaches, air and ocean, killing thousands of wildlife and fish. A United Nations panel of 2,500 scientists says a quarter of earth’s species are in danger unless we eventually end carbon emitting technology. Protect our health, require green alternatives. Contact City Council, Planning Board and representatives. 

Ruth Gilmore 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

I have just finished reading a commentary piece by Dan McMullan, entitled “Options Recovery and the Public Commons.” 

The only, and I repeat, only, portion of the piece with which I fully agree is that which answers the questions of “successful programs.” 

“I guess if a program helped just one person and turned his or her life around that would be enough for me.” 

If Mr. McMullan sincerely believed the foregoing statement, that would make the remainder of his tirade completely meaningless. 

Speaking only for myself, I can testify that I was, through no fault of my own (save alcohol abuse), homeless in Berkeley when I applied to the Options Recovery Program. 

I am not now, nor have I ever been imprisoned, 

The “need to feel the pain of my addiction” did not result from “beatings” and broken bones but from physical illness which very nearly cost me my life, and I can flatly state that were it not for Dr. Davida Coady and the Options Recovery Program, I almost certainly would not have survived the extended stay in Alta Bates Hospital with pneumonia. 

Contrary to the statement “... that anyone unfortunate enough to get caught in the Options web is made to ‘feel the pain’” it is fortunate indeed for me to be accepted into the Options Recovery Program and I personally will be forever grateful to Dr. Davida Coady and her staff. 

For me personally, I believe in “Don’t question the methods, observe the results.” 

For Mr. McMullan to pen such a mean-spirited and unconscionable article is, in itself, unfortunate, and borders on unforgivable. 

Mr. McMullan strikes me as a person who would bitch if he was hung with a new rope. 

James M. Malone 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

A man and I were waiting for the walk sign at Central and Carlson in El Cerrito, on Nov. 20 at 8:30 a.m. The light turned green for us to walk and I saw the man who was waiting with me go up in the air. He got hit by a large car. I was devastated. I feel obligated to at least try to prevent this from happening again. 

Turning right on red for vehicles should be prohibited in intersections where pedestrians cross. Also, pedestrians should always be aware of cars turning even if they have the walk light. 

The Department of Transportation has widened roads at the expense of pedestrian safety. The elderly, frail and physically disabled are at an alarming risk whenever they attempt to cross the street. The streets and highways are a war zone. After seeing someone get hit by a car I plan on severely limiting my own car use and getting involved in pedestrian and bicycle safety issues. 

Diane Zappulla 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

A while back I read a letter in the Daily Planet highly complimenting Berkeley Minicar and I am writing to second everything your reader wrote. 

I am sitting in the Berkeley Minicar Garage at 2498 San Pablo Ave. and Dwight Way while my car is being serviced. For years this group has kept my Honda running beautifully and I have no desire to go elsewhere. In addition to being skilled mechanics who are always willing to take the time to answer my questions and reassure me that my car is going to be OK, they are always cheerful, pleasant, and courteous. I go in and feel I am among friends.  

Thank you Nancy and all you gentlemen at Berkeley Minicar. 

Carolyn Adams 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I don’t know whether it was good timing, a good editorial eye, divine intervention or just plain serendipity, but the juxtaposition of Ms. O’Malley’s editorial, “Why Some Kids Go Bad” directly across from Michael Miller’s and Santiago Casal’s commentary “A 2020 Vision for Berkeley Education” could not have been more powerful. 

Ms. O’Malley, your editorial clearly, succinctly and with a much greater degree of compassion and empathy than I was ever willing to give you credit for, outlined the growing divide between the haves and the have-nots and the tremendous cost to our society of that divide. You don’t offer vacuous platitudes or vague sound bites as solutions, nor do you viciously finger-point and lay blame. Rather, you point out what should be obvious to any rational, compassionate human being, and certainly to those of us who self-identify as “progressive,” “liberal,” or even “humane”—that we need to “…create and empower a complete social network for our young.” 

Thank you for recognizing that it is only due to decades of either poorly conceived or deliberately divisive and destructive public policy that so many African-American, Latino and recent immigrant families face such a lack of resources, structures and support that so many take for granted, and that family structures suffer as a result of parents having to find ways just to survive, and have little time, money or energy left to find ways to proactively and creatively parent. 

The point of your editorial, that as a society we need to provide “…genuine support for [families’] child-rearing efforts, and where they aren’t succeeding they need efficient and compassionate substitutes…to take care of all of our kids (italics mine), paid for by realistic taxes on the obscene wealth now being amassed by a few favored clients of the current administration,” becomes much clearer when we read the commentary by Michael and Santiago of United In Action. 

Their commentary clearly lays out for us what we can do about this issue on a very local level. Their clear-sighted 2020 vision for our Berkeley public schools is an idea whose time has come. Clearly, with the 80 percent vote from generous Berkeley voters that passed Measure A for our schools, there is a mandate from our citizens that our public schools are a top priority and a worthwhile investment of our resources. As Michael and Santiago so effectively point out, however, that investment is not working for far too many of our kids. I urge your readers who are concerned about the issues you outlined in your editorial, and shocked about the reality of the failure of our schools when it comes to outcomes for children of color, to join with the efforts of UIA’s Equity Task Force. We cannot afford to wait. 

David Manson 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

On page three of Nov. 16 Planet, under the headline “DAPAC upholds lower skyline, etc.,” we read that the DAPAC subcommittee also is “allowing four (buildings) at 100 feet, four more at 120 feet, and two high-rise hotels which could rise 100 feet or higher.” 

Further down, on page 23, as Quake Tip of the Week and under the heading “Tectonic Time Bomb” we read in the first paragraph: “Big news in the papers recently: USGS seismic scientists have discovered that the Hayward Fault has had a major rupture every 140 years, on average, sine the year 1315. In case you wonder: We’re in the 140th year since the last one.” 

For a connection between these two passages, I urge readers to re-read Harold Gilliam’s critique of San Francisco’s proposed new Transit Terminal (San Francisco Chronicle, Sept. 2). It is replete with examples of collapsed structures that all had been confidently built as “state-of-the-art” and “OK” achievements. 

Who in Berkeley will want to be caught on those high top floors or in one of those exceedingly shaded streets or parks below when “the Big One” strikes? How much will this high-rise development do for “re-vitalizing the downtown,” one of the prime purposes stated for all the planning? 

This is the time for us all to ask the City Council for the most informed, scrupulous and deliberate prudence when the downtown proposals come before it. 

No one may forget the ominous USGS warning lest Berkeley find itself tempting what is arguably predictable fate. 

Senta Pugh Chamberlain 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

A response to Art Goldberg’s review of the film Pete Seeger: The Power of Song: Pete Seeger may come across as a Paul Bunyan or John Henry prototype, but he is not legendary, by any means—he is profoundly human! I would not deny that he is unusually talented, determined, principled and disciplined, all of which are desirous but hard to achieve human characteristics. That Pete Seeger is a model of integrity to the extent that he is an example for thousands of people is indisputable. But let’s not freeze his humanity with another Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech stereotype. 

Pete Seeger has been proposed for the Nobel Peace Prize from a grassroots petition movement. Nomination from the people upwards has never been done before; it has always been secret and elitist. That is what got us Henry Kissinger’s award! Should he win this is an opportunity to make a groundbreaking effort in behalf of Pete and for the acknowledgment of artists and cultural workers in our society. The singers and songwriters, the poster makers, the muralists, the writers and dancers need to be acknowledged for their contribution to culture, and culture’s contribution to civilization and the necessity of peace for civilization. The petition can be signed at The petition, put up on the Internet in March, has just passed the 10,000-signature mark. 

We are petitioning the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) to nominate Pete on the basis of his lifelong contribution to peace and social justice. The testaments put up by the signers credit Pete with a major influence of changing their lives toward peaceful alternatives. One of Pete’s sayings is: You can’t understand everybody talking at the same time, but you can understand people singing together at the same time.” 

Non-violence ran through the Civil Rights Movement like a mantra; Pete Seeger was a voice of peace, but never of surrender. One of the people who signed the petition said, “on a NYC demonstration, I witnessed Pete turn a potentially explosive situation into a sing-a-long in Central Park after the power was cut and he (with me holding a megaphone as we stood on the barricades) got the first row singing which then reverberated like ripples in water till thousands were singing ‘All we are saying is give Peace a chance’, calming a potentially disastrous situation.” 

We must not pigeonhole Pete Seeger. He is only a man who took himself seriously, yet with a great deal of humor, who seldom deviated from his objectives, who had a wife who helped him be all he could be, even at the expense of her own career. Pete Seeger would honor the Nobel Peace Prize. 

Eleanor Walden 

Committee to Nominate Pete Seeger for the Nobel Peace Prize 


Why the Med Matters 

By Ted Friedman 


The Med on Tely sort of turned 50 Dec. 9 (like a vain movie star, it may be 51), celebrating with folk singers, a giant cake, free coffee, and open mike. 

Some recalled when the Med opened as the Piccolo in 1956 with book lined walls: “You could read those books and get a better education than at the University,” said one. 

The venerable hot-spot is one of only a handful of surviving Tely businesses. But times have changed since ‘56 when the Med had a monopoly on expresso. The craze to be beat and sit for hours in a second-hand smog philosophizing was irresistable. Who knew espresso would be the real “San Francisco Treat,” with espresso chasing you all over town. 

The Beat connection is hardly exaggerated. The short-lived Piccolo (’56-’57) was the logical (and real) extension of North Beach. A year later, the Piccolo was sold to new owners who presided over a charmed period which lasted until the ’90s, when changes in the neighborhood began to take their toll. 

The business was sold again, but by this time was in free-fall. Once ideally located amidst cinemas and bookstores (Moe’s and Shakespeare’s survive, but the last neighborhood cinema, George Pauly’s Tely Rep, closed in ’86). Filthy and troubled (more police calls than a crime wave), the palace of protest was gasping for breath. 

Enter Craig Becker, who saved the Med from becoming just another restaurant (he had promised the family which owned the building to keep it a coffee house). It’s been a tough year and a half, but the tide is turning. 

Now, instead of complaining about being mugged (order has been restored) complainers have noticed the floor (clean it!) and the beloved Med mural (don’t hang coffee house art on it!) 

Perhaps some of the critics have been spoiled by pampering treatment from the new owner, who has gone from being a coffee guzzling conversationalist to the man behind the counter, but, no matter what happens to the mural (Craig has promised to remove the paintings and restore the mural), The Med, which recently hosted the George Pauly memorial (past decedents have had their ashes scattered there) and housed Pauly’s oxygen tank, is emerging as a vibrant community center, perhaps the last hurrah from aging southside hippies. And yes, you can still walk in on a protest planning session (a throwback for the Med’s role in the Free Speech Movement). Talk to Reholio, who has been a barista since before anyone had ever heard of one, twenty-eight years ago. If you talk to Craig, be sure to complain about the floor; tell him to lay off the mural. You’ll feel like you made the scene. 


Ted Friedman is a Berkeley resident. 


EDITOR’S NOTE: One commentary from each side of the current KPFA controversy will run in an upcoming issue. We will refrain from running letters on the topic until then.