Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

Tuesday January 22, 2008


Editors, Daily Planet: 

Could we please have a “baby changing table” at the Totland playground?  

Thank you. 

Philip and Fionn Rowntree  




Editors, Daily Planet: 

During President Clinton’s second term of office he was impeached for perjury in front of the grand jury. This crime seems so minor comparatively to the crimes committed by President Bush and Vice President Cheney in their efforts to extend the power of the executive branch and use of executive privilege. If we do not bring charges against them before they leave office, then we may never know the extent of what they’ve done, as they are refusing to give Congress “Top Secret” documents that they claim are essential to National Security. 

It will be more harmful to National Security if we do not know the extent of the torture programs and the internal civil rights violations committed by the vice president and president. We know that they have committed numerous crimes. We need to hold them accountable, to uphold our Constitution, so that this practice does not become an accepted precedent. 

Rebecca DePalma 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Have a heart O you rich people! Provide health care. Don’t raise rents. Don’t raise taxes for the poor and the middle class. Give to each according to his or her need. Have a heart. 

Romila Khanna 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

Sure, we’d like to hear more about BRT. I’d still like to hear from someone who hasn’t yet spoken, someone who would ride the BRT instead of drive. The population of Berkeley can’t be made up of only dedicated bus riders like me, dedicated car drivers like Vincent Casalaina and people who don’t care about congestion, greenhouse gases or the end of oil. 

Steve Geller 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

If East Bay mayors are truly interested in creating “conditions that support new and emerging green industry,” they don’t need to go to Washington for money. 

On a recent trip to Cambridge, Mass., I learned that there are 50 biotech startups and countless software development firms within walking distance of MIT. How many similar firms are there in Berkeley? We have the same first-class university setting, but the jobs associated with UCB’s research efforts migrate elsewhere. 

Two changes to existing Berkeley regulations will stimulate new, “green collar” and other “high tech” businesses: 1) eliminate the gross receipts tax which is a killer for start-ups with revenues but no profits in the early years, and 2) eliminate the antiquated prejudice against intellectual work in favor of “light manufacturing” in the zoning laws. 

Make these two changes, stand back, and let the start-ups bloom. 

Tom Burns 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

In theory, I think public transit is a fine thing. For many years I did without a car—until I missed a job opportunity because you had to drive to get there. Now, a driver and partially disabled senior, I note these reasons (among many) to continue driving. 

• I never have to stand waiting 45 minutes for my car to arrive.  

• My car never passes me by because it is already full to capacity. 

• My car never passes me by although it is empty. 

• There is never a puddle of unidentified liquid on the seat next to mine. 

• None of the passengers in my car ever cusses me out for my skin color. 

• None of the passengers in my car ever tries to steal my bag. 

• The driver of my car does not play the radio too loudly. 

• The driver of my car does not let me off blocks past my stop. 

• When winter comes, the heat in my car works. It is not turned on too high. 

• When winter comes and I turn on the heat in my car, no cockroaches come out of hiding. 

• The floor and seats of my car are clean and free of debris. 

• The windows of my car are not blocked by dirt or advertisements. 

• No passenger in my car coughs flu germs into my face. 

• The driver of my car never tells me to hurry up, he doesn’t have all day. 

• No passenger in my car takes two seats for sleeping. 

• No passenger in my car has been falling-down drunk. 

• The rear exit of my car does not smell like urine. 

• I can transport heavy items in my car because the walk to my apartment is short. 

Riding on public transit as it exists is seldom quality time. One must be vigilant and on guard. It practically guarantees illness in winter, generally unsanitary conditions, harassment, delays, and danger. I can’t trust a bus or BART to get me to medical appointments on time. Expensive new coaches don’t provide solutions to any of these issues. May I suggest that if public transportation is to attract and keep riders, convenience, courtesy, promptness, order and cleanliness might be addressed in addition to ecological concerns. 

A. Zagata 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Fear now tempers my once pure pleasure at swimming at the Berkeley city warm pool (sadly on BHS property); I worry about BUSD bulldozers but even more I dread the uncertain prospect of increasing arthritis-like symptoms not due just to the passage of time and aging but perhaps due to fluoridation of the water supply. Lena Berman on KPFA points to research indicating children may be especially at risk that way, of fluoridation-linked arthritis. Berman follows medical research closely. 

Berman outlined other suspected risks related to fluoridation of the domestic water supply in recently broadcast programs. 

My knees and hip joints won’t straighten out anymore; my doctor is puzzled because there is no significant pain. Due to this, I can no longer stand; should I quit swimming for a while? Forever? Stay in for shorter times? Scrub down with abrasives? 

Fluoridation (mandatory by law!, I learned from an East Bay Municipal Utilities District representative) of the U.S. domestic water supply seems like overkill. The topical use of fluoride, applied directly to the outer surfaces of teeth by dentists in their offices is thought, found, said by some researchers to be somewhat useful to “harden” or toughen the enamel—that is to say, to make them mysteriously less vulnerable to bacterial penetration related to “bio-film” buildup. But internal application from swallowing fluoridated water is hardly the same thing. 

(Exceedingly tough bio-films such as plaque notoriously require a jackhammer approach to their demolition and control, such as abrasive scrubbing by a qualified professional in your dentist’s office.) 

Perhaps related: Fluoride-induced bone-embrittlement is strongly suspected, according to some research, says Berman on KPFA. 

The warm pool at BHS provides an ironic example: Fluoride as used to treat water here and now largely in the United States has been causally linked to arthritis by some researchers including or especially by some in China, according to Berman; meanwhile the warm fluoridated-water pool is used by many who seek relief from the pains and other agonies associated with arthritis. 

Also, “endocrine disrupters” in general are recommended to be avoided; fluoride, even in the usual minuscule proportions is thought by some researches to fall into that class, according to Berman’s sources. 

If fluoride is capable of affecting, protecting, or enhancing the hardness of the surface of the hardest surface in our bodies—tooth enamel—what might fluoride inadvertently be capable of doing to other organs, such as the skin, or even more delicate internal organs like the nerves, etc.? Tooth enamel as a bio-mineralized hard cover with some thickness is not especially actively fed or regulated, one reasonably assumes, by or via the internal blood supply; so fluoride, if at all, reaches this enamel layer of the tooth essentially from its outer surface, not from within. 

Therefore, why add a potentially dangerous chemical into drinking water used for many delicate purposes besides rinsing the teeth? Further: Fluoridated toothpaste is not intended to be swallowed. Why force us to drink a substance from which we can’t or might not reasonably benefit? 

If any of this is true, it seems fluoridation simply defies reason and is tantamount to legislating the poisoning of our water! Is this yet another example of more ignorant corporate meddling with legislation and lawmakers? 

In Europe, the tapwater does not contain added fluoride, says Berman! We must assume they have looked into the entire matter with care and find fluoridation’s credibility to be tenuous, if that. 

Berman says bone brittleness is suspected by some researchers to be increased, induced by fluorides. Researchets link fluoride to bone cancer in children, says Yolanda Huang, a member of the Berkeley Parks and Recreation Commission, in a recent letter to the Daily Planet. Huang cites sources; Berman refers to a website. 

Chemicals never tested for their toxicity due to corporate meddling are daily used by the American public. They number in the thousands; some say tens of thousands. We the public are experimental lab rats for the profits of the chemical industries; we already know that. We don’t have to like it. 

Terry Cochrell 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

On Nov. 23, 2007, John Rothman, on his KGO radio program, referring to the Valerie Plame leak, picked up the story where former White House spokesman Scott McClellan made the following statement: “I had unknowingly passed along false information. And five of the highest ranking officials of the administration were involved in my doing so: Rove, Libby, the vice president, the president’s chief of staff, and the president himself.” 

Rothman, an erudite historian who knows well constitutional law, pointed out that this statement should be investigated by the Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Sen. Patrick Leahy. Rothman called on listeners to flood Sen. Leahy’s office with phone calls or e-mail to summon McClellan immediately, under oath, to testify to the veracity of this statement. Bush and Cheney et al. should be held accountable for perjury and the obstruction of justice. 

I am an 84-year-old grandmother living in a Berkeley senior housing residence, and have asked my friends and fellow residents to communicate with Sen. Leahy’s office as well as Sen. Feinstein, who is also on the Judiciary Committee, to take immediate action regarding McClellan’s statement. I appeal to Daily Planet readers to join in our endeavors to save our country for our grandchildren and let your voices be heard. Congressional office: 1-800-828-0498. 

(Remember how Watergate started.) 

Helen M. Harris 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Concerning the feral cats: Wildlife is receiving large donations now, so let us spread the wealth. Trapping these ferals, neutering, and spaying them is a big help to the feral population.  

I have been feeding and helping to trap these ferals. Kittens are being poisoned by anti-freeze, harmed or killed by humans, cars, and foxes. There is no excuse for letting these baby ferals suffer so.  

I have been feeding ferals for four years, and still do. It breaks my heart to see them running down the hill, waiting for me every morning. 

I have raised a feral that is now four years old, and is now a house cat. 

Please give ferals your attention. 

Alice Noriega 

San Pablo 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

In the new year the papers carry the statistics of those killed by drunken holiday celebrants driving illegally. No doubt designated drivers lessen the slaughter, yet I write to remind those I can that millions continually suffer personally or indirectly from the effects of alcoholic drinks. No one ever suffered from never taking an alcoholic drink. 

Like everyone else I know, I have had bad, unforgettable encounters with the effects of drink. I once read in the paper that a high school classmate had confessed to and received a long sentence for the axe-murder of his wife. It was not so stated but I’m sure the crime was committed drunkenly; the confession proved it. His drunken behavior was bad and always ended with remorse. Abstention from birth would have guaranteed him a far better life. Yet not even AA meetings I’ve visited ever spoke of that obvious faction axiom that should be universally affirmed to children. 

Liquor can decide large battles. One early Sunday morning Japan succeeded at Pearl Harbor because the attackers knew the U.S. Army and Navy would be (and were!) suffering a hangover. 

Not long ago there played in local movie houses, and elsewhere, without negative comment, a film depicting at least one carefree schoolteacher who drove up to Napa with open liquor bottles in his car and drank from a bottle of beer or wine while driving. Several friends I asked found the movie amusing. Not one noticed or was shocked by being shown without opprobrium a schoolteacher’s flaunting of what, if they considered it, my acquaintance would say was good law—no drinking while driving. 

In San Francisco, small businesses used to give policemen wine or hard liquor as holiday gifts. Is the custom widespread? 

Judith Segard Hunt 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I am a 2007 graduate of our flagship institution, Berkeley. I am writing to express my outrage over the actions your board has taken, since 2002 and prior, in order to make a UC education less affordable and attainable. 

I consistently watched as you raised tuition almost every single year by a matter of five to seven percent. The justifications are many, but legitimate ones are few. 

You raised a secretary’s salary by about $60,000 to bring her to over a quarter-million dollar salary? Your justification is that you want to retain top talent. What is top talent worth when the people who are paying their salaries won’t have a chance to benefit from it? Its unlikely that California taxpayers and students will get their money’s worth. 

If your priority was to ensure student access, and to mitigate the UC’s financial problems in the least bit, you would stop increasing administrator (and their aides) salaries by as much as you do. I am a huge labor advocate, but I also believe in getting paid what your deserve, and what is reasonable. These increases can’t be seen as reasonable—maybe only by those receiving them. But, at whose detriment? The students. 

I would assume that most of your students are on financial aid, and by increasing fees, you are levying an unnecessary loan—the fee increases that we will pay for- on top of standard financial aid loans. 

It seems as if UC is no longer a state-subsidized, public university. I will always be proud of my degree from Berkeley, but saddened by the chance that others, thousands per year, will not be able to say the same. 

Stop the fee increases. Find another way. 

Nicholas Smith 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

There are several conservative think tanks in this country that want to get rid of the United Nations with their distorted accusations. They say that the UN is irrelevant and this country should pull out of the organization. For example, these think tanks tell lies about the United Nations involvement in the Oil for Food scandal. There was no proof of their accusations. 

However, people in this country believe the accusations, which may explain the fact that public support for the United Nations is at an all-time low. Let me set the record straight. While this organization is not perfect, it does a lot of good things, like being concerned about indigenous people’s rights, human rights, women’s rights, preventing war, and protecting the environment. 

I feel that the real reason for these conservative think tanks’ animosity toward the United Nations is that the UN believes in both a multi-cultural and multi-racial world which these think tanks despise. I feel that more Americans need to be aware of the good things that the United Nations is doing. 

Billy Trice, jr. 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

Berkeley and Albany have the wrong signs for entering their roundabouts. The use of yield signs is done by all other cities that have roundabouts. 

The stop signs of Berkeley and Albany are an unnecessary bother for motorists who should just pause briefly. The Police Department may be issuing more citations as well. 

Part of the use of stop signs has resulted from Berkeley letting residents in nearby cities decide what they want, which is a funny way to decide what is right and proper. 

A full discussion of roundabouts is contained in the Tech Transfer newsletter, No. 58, published by the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California. Their phone number is 665-3632. 

Charles Smith 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Don’t be fooled, John McCain is no moderate. He is much like conservative ideologue George Bush. McCain is as pro-war as they come, an anti-abortion activist; forget a woman’s freedom of choice and Roe v. Wade under John McCain as president. McCain now loves those Bush tax cuts for the wealthy which endears him to anti-tax conservatives. 

The “Mac Is Back” campaign slogan is perfect: With John McCain as president, George Bush would be back in the White House. There is little or no difference between the two Republicans. 

Ron Lowe  

Grass Valley