Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

Friday March 07, 2008


Editors, Daily Planet: 

Three years ago some of us tried in vain to stop the spraying of a herbicide in the Oakland parks. Now some of us are wondering what happened to all the bees? On top of said ongoing herbicide spraying, there is now a proposed aerial pesticide spraying in the San Francisco Bay Area this summer which will continue over the next five years. Who can predict the cumulative effects this will have on our environment? How much more damage can we cause our denizens of nature? Not to mention ourselves and our loved ones? Thank you Berkeley City Council for taking steps to prevent spraying the Checkmate pesticide over our cities this summer. 

Tori Thompson 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

Can anyone tell me what is going on with building and naming a sports complex after Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates?  

Is any of the construction being done with Berkeley and/or state monies? If so, what exactly? I have yet to read in your paper anything about the Tom Bates Sports Complex. Why? 

It is located at the southwest corner of Gilman Street and Frontage Road. 

Lisa Robyns 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Soviet Planning 

Hope to God I never live in a city which has Janet Shih as a city planner. Her assertion that BRT “forcing people out of their cars” would be worth it in the long run scares the hell out of me. So does the comment that people will become frustrated “but then eventually submit, abandon their cars and use AC transit.” Ms. Shih, this is America and the people tell the planners what they want. The planners are servants, not masters. What you describe is good old fashioned Soviet Russia. And boy did that system work well! 

Frank Greenspan 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I fear your columnist, Bob Burnett, has his dates badly confused in Tuesday’s “The Great Debate of 2008.” First, the Great Depression is not generally thought to have occurred in 1928. Secondly, Franklin D. did not challenge Hoover that year; FDR ran for (and won) governor of New York. Hoover’s opponent was Alfred Smith, the first Catholic to head the ticket of a major party for president. 

Now, that might be an interesting theme in this year of the “first” woman, the “first” black (with due respect to the memory of Shirley Chisholm). As a minor penance, perhaps Mr. Burnett might read Empire Statesman: The Rise and Redemption of Al Smith by Robert A. Slayton (The Free Press, 2001). 

John McBride 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

We already have a “free speech zone.” It is called the United States of America. London has the Hyde Park Speakers’ Corner because Great Britain lacks the rights we have in this country. Rights are like muscles—exercise them or you’ll lose them! 

Holly Harwood 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

I was shocked by the recent cartoons in your paper about Hillary Clinton. None of her opponents in the Democratic primaries had stooped to the level of DeFreitas. Only ultra-conservative Republicans are holding her responsible for the actions of President Clinton. For instance, what did she have to do with the tragedy in Rwanda? Like Eleanor Roosevelt, she was an active first lady interested in universal health coverage, children education and women’s rights. For the past seven years, she has been a very active and well regarded member of the U.S. Senate by the majority of her colleagues. Anybody caricaturing Barack Obama as DeFreitas is doing for Hillary Clinton would probably be called racist. Maybe DeFreitas is not sexist but, as associate editor of the Berkeley Daily Planet, he does not appear to me to be very objective.  

Gilbert Melese 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

Mr. De Freitas’ March 3 cartoon is worth more than a thousand words. It depicts the status of the resilient and brave Palestinian people under the immoral Israeli occupation ably abetted by U.S. arms and our taxpayer dollars. 

Thank you. 

Andrew and  

Marina Pizzamiglio-Gutierrez 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

While Becky O’Malley’s Feb. 29 editorial dismisses boycott threats, there are reports (in other papers) that Berkeley businesses are feeling some repercussion from the USMC fiasco. Whether this results from boycott action or, as O’Malley suggests, just from aversion to the general congestion and clamor surrounding the issue, we can only hope, when municipal elections next come around, that our business leaders and the Chamber of Commerce will stop sitting on the sidelines of Berkeley’s political circus and will combine their funds and advertising talents to rid us of the grandstanding cranks and crones who make up much of the City Council and replace them with rational citizens who will address Berkeley’s deteriorating economy and infrastructure. 

Jerry Landis 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

Iceland…heaven on earth…a great place to chill! 

For those who can, please give at least half of your $600 government bonus check to Save Iceland so we can get the party (re)started! 

Wendy Schlesinger 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I would like to respond to the commentary in the March 3-6 edition of the Berkeley Daily Planet, “Must We Stamp His Footprint into Nature to Remember Cesar Chavez?” I have been a Berkeley waterfront commissioner during all of the discussions of the off-leash area for dogs and the Solar Calendar/Cesar Chavez Memorial. For both of these proposals there was a great deal of public input that reflected a division of opinion between leaving things pretty much as they are or making changes seen by some as an “intrusion on nature.” The off-leash dog area the writer of the commentary now enjoys was opposed by many as vigorously as the writer now opposes the Solar Calendar/Cesar Chavez Memorial. It has been my experience that people on both sides of this ongoing debate between leaving things pretty much alone for the benefit of the flora and fauna or development for the primary benefit of human beings have perfectly valid opinions. It’s not that there’s a correct position; it is that each of us has an opinion based on our life’s experiences and an evaluation of the impact of the proposed change. I have supported both the off-leash area for dogs and the Solar Calendar/Cesar Chavez Memorial because all things considered, I thought they were the best use of the land. Not everyone is thrilled with the off-leash dog area as the appropriate use of the land, but, all things consider, it has worked out pretty well. (I’m not thrilled with how restricted access is to Eastshore State Park Meadow, but my point of view didn’t prevail in this instance.) In my opinion, the Solar Calendar/Cesar Chavez Memorial will be a wonderful cultural, educational, scientific, and aesthetic addition to Cesar Chavez Park that will add to the visitor’s experience of coming to the spectacular Berkeley Waterfront. I think we are most fortunate in Berkeley to have a dedicated group of citizens putting in the time and effort necessary to make this vision a reality. 

Brad Smith 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Alesia Kunz is put out because nobody consulted her before engraving the words Hope, Courage, Tolerance and Determination on rocks surrounding a solar calendar on the top of the old Berkeley dump, now named Cesar Chavez Park. She thinks his spirit would be better served if we left nature alone. 

Frankly my dear, Cesar Chavez wouldn’t give a damn. He would be too busy organizing the jornaleros who stand on Hearst Street in all weather with Hope to find work and with little leverage to demand a fair wage and rest breaks. Chavez would wonder at the contrast between the Courage of these men and the leisure of shoppers on nearby Fourth Street. He would reckon that the cash a laborer earns in a day of backbreaking work, if he is lucky enough to get picked up, is less than an item on sale in the trendy stores. 

Chavez would wonder why a city known for its Tolerance hasn’t done more to fix acceptable standards for wages and working conditions for the jornaleros. 

If you need help, the Multicultural Institute has a website where you can apply for a laborer who has Determination to do a good job. The going wage is $12-15 an hour. 

Toni Mester 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Each year, at the approach of spring, there are two events that I look forwards to. 

First, is the high-noon ringing of the Peace Bell at City Hall—part of a global celebration of the Vernal Equinox—and walking up the hill at the Chavez Memorial to gather ‘round the neo-Stonehenge sundial and marvel as the sun and moon dip and rise simultaneously—a celestial curtsy to the planet’s dance. 

Gar Smith 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

In 2002 when I moved to Berkeley from Southern California, I was delighted to discover the waterfront park, but even more thrilled to stumble upon the solar calendar on a hill top. A dump transformed into a public park and a circle of stones honoring the sun and four directions?! Too good, and I praised the City of Berkeley. I also went online to learn more about the solar calendar. For some reason, unlike your March 4 opinion writer, Alesia Kunz, I didn’t find it difficult to get information, nor to be informed about upcoming meetings, which I attended, regarding the development of the monument. I stood in favor of allowing the solar calendar to become a permanent feature of the park. 

If it had been up to me, I would have left it as it was in 2002: boulders, small enclosing mounds, central stone. I would have left off the didactic words, let go the ties to a specific man. But this was a community effort and I would rather have the solar monument with qualifications than no calendar at all. 

The relationship of the sun to the earth is the primary relationship of life as we know it. To stand on a hill top and know where you stand in relation to the greater cosmos is the function of such a site, and sites like it created by humble humans throughout the ages in all cultures. It is an awe-inspiring experience made possible by thoughtful placement of markers in space and time. Nature is not willy-nilly. It has form and structure and exactitude. Yes, you can set your clock to its rhythms. The solar calendar atop Cesar Chavez park is a sacred spot, and even though I no longer live in Berkeley, I still travel to this circle on the solstices and equinoxes, to honor the forces of forces of life, forces far greater than myself. 

Carolyn Radlo 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

Regarding Alesia Kunz commentary and the Solar Project at Cedar Chavez Park: Ms Kunz has really missed the point of the solar calendar at Cesar Chavez park. My friends and I hardly see the solar calendar as “stomping on nature,” To say, as Ms Kunz does, that these rocks lay like tombstones crowding out the natural world seems a sorry characterization. 

This is a special place indeed, visited by many and for many different reasons. I have attended several of the informal gatherings held there at sunset on special days of the year and since I was born on the autumnal equinox a visit to that spot on the hill has been a regular part of my birthday celebration for years. 

Despite the fact that it was built on a dumping ground for garbage, this is a unique and beautiful park with a stunning view of the glorious Bay Area. The addition of the solar calendar does not diminish this place but truly enhances it. The careful placement of stones aligned to mark the movement of our planet around the sun celebrates awareness, spiritual connection, and human intelligence. 

I for one, am grateful for Santiago Casal and the other tireless volunteer citizens who have taken the time to “attend those meetings” necessary to carry forth a sustained vision. This is a simple yet meaningful tribute that can be enjoyed by those who visit the area intentionally or just happen to stumble upon it by accident. The solar calendar is not complete nor even permanent. Perhaps more Berkeley residents will come forward and support the full vision of a lasting monument that honors Mr. Chavez and encourages all visitors through tolerance, courage, hope and determination to be reminded of our place in the solar system. 

Claudia Smukler 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

A recent letter claims that Berkeley should not implement Bus Rapid Transit because the city already has such a shortage of parking that it cannot afford to lose more spaces. In fact, where there is a shortage of parking, AC Transit will replace parking lost to BRT. 

To confirm this fact, I contacted Jim Cunradi, AC Transit’s lead BRT planner, who said I could use this quotation from him in the Daily Planet: “In locations where BRT creates a deficit so that demand exceeds supply, we will replace lost parking.” 

Some opponents of BRT have been quoting the draft EIR to support their claim that BRT will not replace parking. But the draft EIR, as its name implies, is just a first draft, which is used to get public comments about issues that should be analyzed in the final EIR. Apparently, AC Transit learned from the comments on the DEIR that people consider loss of parking an important issue, and so the fina EIR will have plans to replace parking. 

Now that BRT is going to the Planning Commission, it is important that we understand the EIR process. The draft EIR is used to get public comments, so the final EIR can deal with problems that the public identifies. 

In its comments on the draft EIR, the Planning Commission must choose a preferred alternative for the three corridors where the DEIR provides multiple alternatives: the Telegraph/Dana corridor, the Bancroft/Durant corridor, and downtown. When Berkeley decides on its preferred alternative for each of these three corridors, AC Transit will know the exact locations where BRT would impact parking, intersections, and neighborhood streets, so it can mitigate these impacts. 

Unfortunately, some of the most extreme opponents of BRT want the Planning Commission to kill the project immediately, based on the DEIR, without even choosing a preferred alternative for AC Transit to analyze in the final EIR. They want us to make the decision about BRT before we have the facts about its impacts. They remind me of the trial in Alice in Wonderland, where the Red Queen wants to decide on the sentence and the verdict before she hears the evidence. The Planning Commission should not let them sabotage the EIR process. 

Charles Siegel 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Judith Scherr in her article “Chief Wants Better Policing-New Taxes” describes a new policing concept called POP. This POP concept was proposed to the City Council at its meeting of Feb. 26 by the chief and a consultant from the Center for Problem Solving Policing, a non-profit organization, as something new. 

Community-Oriented Policing (COP) has been an accepted police practice and term for at least the last 15 years. Under the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 the U.S. Department of Justice has provided 11.3 billion to local law enforcement agencies for COP programs. 

The Berkeley Police Department under former Chiefs Nelson, Butler and Meisner had adopted the COP concept widely. Let me just mention a few programs: Foot patrols and bicycle patrols in the business district (including Telegraph); a joint Berkeley-UC Berkeley police task force for Telegraph Avenue alone; School Resource officers at three middle and one high school; a crime analysis unit; four area coordinators; an active Neighborhood Watch program; a dedicated Police Activities League (PAL) officer working with youth; the Billy Booster robot delivering safety messages to kids; security surveys for private homes and businesses. Emphasis was placed on prevention. 

Does the Police Department really think that changing one letter alone (from COP to POP) will solve any problem? You don’t need an expert from San Diego telling us what Community-Oriented Policing really is all about. We have these resources right here in our town.  

Another example of re-inventing the wheel are the Berkeley Guides, another program that fits the COP concept. 

In 1995 eight new social service agencies including the Berkeley Guides were funded under Measure O. The purpose of these new programs was to provide comprehensive services to homeless people. The Berkeley Guides provided excellent services from 1995 until their funding was cut in 2006.  

Now the “Public Commons for Everyone Initiative” calls for a new program called “Berkeley Host Program,” at a cost of $200,000. This new program is asked to deal with “problematic street behavior,” exactly the same wording that was used when the city hired the Berkeley Guides in 1995. Why establish a new program, which has no experience, when there is a program in Berkeley, which has 11 years experience? Where is the logic in this? 

Ove M. Wittstock 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Today I was informed at a UC Berkeley event about a very important issue concerning the deforestation of our last remaining ancient forests. Right now there are only 20 percent of these forests left on our earth, a majority of which can be found in the Boreal forest of Northern Canada. The Boreal is being clear-cut at an alarming rate. To be exact, about one football field worth of old growth forest is lost every two seconds. The loss of these forests not only destroys the homes of thousands of plant and animal species, but also is a huge factor in creating global warming, causing much strain on earth’s fragile eco-system. 

After being exposed to Greenpeace’s Kleercut Campaign at Cal Berkeley, it has come to my attention that a huge contributor to this deforestation is the Kimberly-Clark Company. Greenpeace has blatantly been exposing the environmental abuses of this company to educate consumers in order to push for more sustainable forest practices. Kimberley-Clark, most widely recognized as the maker of the Kleenex brand, is the largest tissue producer in the world. Eighty percent of the fiber in most of Kimberley-Clark’s products is virgin fiber. For the Kleenex Brand, that statistic is 100 percent! 

Why are we letting companies like Kimberley-Clark destroy these irreplaceable forests to make disposable products? We are consumers and it is up to us to spread awareness and put pressure upon these companies for change. There are many ways Kimberly Clark can begin to change their practices, and it is crucial they start now before it is too late. They can first and foremost, stop clear cutting ancient forests. Also they should definitely use more recycled content, enough to meet EPA standards. By taking such steps Kimberly-Clark may be able to convert from environmental destroyer, into a new leader in the sustainable forest product movement. 

Kira Hebert 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The following is an excerpt from a recent (fictitious) interview about foreign policy experience. 

Reporter: Thank you for joining us today, Ma’am. 

Interviewee: It’s my pleasure, as always. 

Reporter: There has been a lot of interest lately in the foreign policy experience of the candidates. Have you seen the ad that features the White House crisis line, or Red Telephone, and suggests that Senator Obama does not have the experience needed to deal with a crisis? 

Interviewee: Yes, I have. It certainly seemed to be quite effective. 

Reporter: In your time as First Lady of the United States did you see that special Red Phone? 

Interviewee: Yes, the Oval Office has one, of course, and also the White House residential quarters. 

Reporter: In general, Ma’am, who would use that phone? 

Interviewee: Oh, only the President. No one else was supposed to touch it. 

Reporter: Did you have your own phone? 

Interviewee: Yes, I did, in the Executive Residence. It wasn’t red of course, just a nice Princess phone for my calls. 

Reporter: So, you never answered the special Red Phone? 

Interviewee: Well, actually I did, just once. The President was not there and I thought it might be important. 

Reporter: Whom did you speak to? 

Interviewee: Well, they refused to tell me who they were and said to just, please, get the President. So, I went and got him. 

Reporter: What did you say to the President about the call? 

Interviewee: I said, “George, dear, it’s for you.” 

Reporter: Did you ever find out what the call was about? 

Interviewee: Yes, later the President told me that it was one of our people doing a check to see if the line was working OK. 

Reporter: When your husband was Governor and you were First Lady of the state, was there a Red Phone for him? 

Interviewee: No, indeed. That’s a rather silly idea actually. A little state like that doesn’t need a special Red Phone. 

Reporter: Well, thank you for your time, Ma’am. We appreciate speaking with you. 

Follow-up: Since this (fictitious) interview originally aired, we have heard that one of the candidates is considering a new Red Phone ad. 

The new ad is simply a large still photo of a Red Phone on a dark-colored desk in the Oval Office. Towards the bottom of the photo in large white letters are the words: “George, Dear, It’s For You.” 

Brad Belden 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

The Berkeley Climate Action Plan (CAP) is inspiring me to implement a personal CAP. I’m keeping my “vampire circuits” unplugged: for example, I no longer leave the charger transformer plugged in when not charging my cell phone. I turn down the thermostat and turn off the computer when I’m gone for any length of time. I’ve installed some compact fluorescent lamps (CFL). I’m thinking about cutting back the time I spend in the shower. A while back, the management of my apartment building made sure all residents have restricted-flow shower heads. 

Long before the CAP, I was riding buses and BART for most of my trips within the Bay Area. Today, as a senior citizen, I buy a $20 monthly sticker for my bus pass and get most places by bus. I think my transit riding is the most effective component of my personal CAP. 

But I am concerned that my CAP effort may turn out to be foolish and ineffective, because too many of my fellow Berkeley residents are big on CFLs and shower nozzles but reluctant to ride a bus—even the supposedly more attractive Bus Rapid Transit (BRT). Some letters to the Planet say that BRT should not cause any inconvenience to car driving—no dedicated bus lane or any loss of parking spaces. This attitude is inconsistent, because the purpose of BRT is to make bus riding more attractive than car driving. To achieve that goal, BRT simply has to do things which make life inconvenient for the car drivers. 

Has there ever been a Planet letter from a Berkeley resident who now drives, but plans to use the BRT to commute to work? BRT letters I’ve seen are either from people who already ride transit or from the people who can’t abide cars making any room for better bus service. 

I’m not sure if Planet letters are a good measure of local public opinion, but if the lack of letters from potential BRT-riders really indicates that most current drivers will avoid BRT, I might as well forget about my personal CAP. My bus riding will be canceled out by the GHG spewed by all those dogged drivers. A few car trips is all it takes to cancel out the efforts of people who eliminate vampire circuits, or deploy CFLs or curtail shower time. 

As I see it, item one on Berkeley’s Climate Action Plan should be to make sure we get BRT deployed and get plenty of people to ride it. The rest of the CAP isn’t very important. 

Steve Geller 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

So, the city spent $93,000 and change for the privilege of permitting the Code Pink bullhorns to blast away, and the ensuing confrontations involving added police. His rationalization for this expenditure is that it was a good price to pay for the national exposure it gives Berkeley for being against the war in Iraq. I have just one question for Mr. Bates: How many potholes can you fix with $93,000? 

Tim Cannon 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

When I signed up for a Lifelong Learning Class at UC, it was scheduled to be help in the Berkeley Art Museum Theater, a location which is available to me and others like me who have walking problems. However, the class was deemed too large for that site, and it was moved to the Pacific Film Archive Theater, which does not have handicapped access. 

At the first class meeting at 10 a.m. on a Wednesday, I parked my car in the garage at Telegraph and Durant, knowing there would be no affordable parking closer to the theater—even for those like me with handicapped placards. 

Arriving at the stairs to the theater, I searched for a ramp or elevator, but there was none, so I wheeled my walker around the three long blocks to the entrance on the upper level. A few cars were parked up there in spaces designated “Reserved.” Taking the bus would not have helped with the stairs problem. 

By the fourth class, when it had started raining, I was getting very tired of that (for me) long painful walk dodging oblivious students. So I asked the woman in charge of the Lifelong Learning class if she thought I could park just outside the theater entrance, across from there a few other cars were parked. I would display my handicapped placard and this woman thought that would be fine, and promised to put a Pacific Film Archive notice on the windshield and keep an eye on my car. 

When I came out of the class two hours later, however, I had a yellow citation between the blue placard and the PFA sign. The citation from the campus police stated that I had parked in an “unmarked space” and that I owed them $40. 

The theater manager was very sympathetic, promised to call and e-mail the campus police for me, but warned that the university police are implacable about their rules. She stated that the theater has asked repeatedly for a ramp up from the street and a couple of parking spots for handicapped, but has been refused every time. After I pled my case to the appeal officer at Campus Citations, she excused me from paying the fine “in the interest of justice and courtesy” but warned me three times never to park illegally again. 

How is it that the University of California is exempt from the Americans with Disabilities Act at this theater? I want an explanation. 

Rosalie Dwyer 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

If there were any Christians in America, they wouldn’t have let the cities go downhill. 

This country is as phony as a $3 bill. Americans are mostly indifferent to each other, and don’t want to know anything. 

Funds for education and social services should be increased, not cut, especially in California. 

John Madonna 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

Parks can be fenced in to generate income for the city drained by Bush spending; start with Milvia-MLK City Hall park where lunchers from the high school crowd out others. A single entrance at the center of the north fence would decrease damage to grass by excess user access. Two dollars per hour should help the City of Berkeley pay for needed services and repairs city-wide. 

The capitalist, industrialist Republicans’ rising sea level may force the 80-880 freeways to be rebuilt further eastward, inland. The City of Berkeley can begin to plan now for changes in the shoreline of coming decades. Will the West Campus school property be demolished for such a needed relocated freeway? Should Berkeley spend millions to move the warm pool there with an expensive new building if it will be demolished in coming decades? 

Berkeley could easily take over janitorial and maintenance and maybe even new construction of/on school property, freeing BUSD to focus on education rather than contracts and construction. BUSD can only afford half the janitors required by the state. 

BUSD and the City of Berkeley could trade property so the city can remodel the warm pool without endless interference and meddling by the district. Ten thousand square feet for the warm pool, existing, to remain as is, to the city for the same area from the city hall park, fenced in for student lunchers, should be a fair trade. Say 10-15 thousand square feet to be safe, fair and balanced. 

Terry Cochrell 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Since a budget requires a two-thirds legislative majority and the Republicans refuse to agree to any tax increase, they are basically holding the state of California hostage. How can our state provide services if the Republicans prevent the taxpayers from paying for these services? With inflation, which is always present, the cost of government must go up. With the constant increase in state population, more state funded services are necessary. How can we continue to pay for vital state services such as education, police and fire protection, road repair and construction, all necessary infrastructure, the court systems, the national guard, California Highway Patrol, etc. without a state tax increase?  

What on earth are the Republicans thinking of when they bury their heads in the sand and keep repeating the mantra, no tax increases? 

Let’s face reality and fund this state in a quality manner. Being cheap and deferring the acquisition of needed funds only costs us far more in the future. If one defers maintenance on your house, it costs far more in the future to make up for the deferred maintenance. The same simple guideline applies to state assets and infrastructure. It also applies to hiring and keeping employed the highest qualified employees at all levels of government. 

If the Republicans continue to refuse to face economic reality, I suggest the state withdraw state services from those Republicans’ districts. The party in power can dictate where state offices and services are located. In other words, close their courthouses, remove their DMV offices, don’t fund their schools, don’t repair their roads. If they have to drive further to obtain state services, too bad. If there are not enough funds to go around, only spend those funds in districts whose representatives support funding the state’s services. If a district starts to receive decreased state funding and services, maybe that district’s constituents will wise up and vote for a state representative who truly has their interests at heart. If you want services, it costs to have those services. If your district’s elected representative is unwilling to vote to pay for state services, your district should suffer the repercussions. 

When I was a student at UCLA, both undergraduate and law school, there was no tuition. Higher education was free. The taxpayers of this state valued education and made it affordable to me and others like me who came from economically poor families. The state tax rate was at least 2 to 4 percent higher than it is at present. If we fund our K-12 schools, universities and state colleges at a quality level, the state will actually realize more tax income from higher earning individuals, and more competitive businesses.  

A simple state tax rate increase would get rid of any deficit. Since income taxes are progressive, what difference does it make to wealthy individuals if some of their money actually goes to creating and maintaining a quality state. How many toys, cars, yachts, and homes do they need? Talk about greed. Let’s start looking out for our fellow human beings. Everybody’s lives, including small minded don’t tax us Republicans, become improved and enriched by making California a quality environment for all of us.  

Paul M. Schwartz 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I’ve been to lots and lots of weddings through the years; none of them solemn, all of them gay. Why then suddenly are nasty, mean-hearted people objecting to gay marriages?  

Roseanne Roseannadanna  

aka Robert Blau 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

As a self-ordained one-woman Chamber of Commerce seeking recognition and promotion of Berkeley’s finer institutions, I point with admiration to the North Berkeley Senior Center, located at 1901 Hearst Ave. Opening in late April, 1979, this striking redwood building (which garnered several Architectural Awards), constructed with $1.13 million in federal funds, has provided seniors with low-cost lunches, free local transportation, legal advice and classes in a wide range of subjects—Spanish Conversation, T’ai Chi, Parkinson’s Exercises, Drama Workshops, World Art History, Living Philosophers, tap dancing—the list goes on and on. 

While the daily noon lunch program offers no threat to Alice Waters or Wolfgang Puck, the meals are wholesome, nutritious and easy on limited budgets. More important than the menu itself is the friendly, light-hearted ambiance in the large dining room, where people meet and socialize before going off to class. 

Another notable attraction offered by the center are the eagerly awaited day trips to art museums in San Francisco at a minimal cost—$1 for van transportation. In the March list of events, trips are featured at the DeYoung Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, the Legion of Honor, and, perhaps most exciting of all, the Cantor Art Museum in Palo Alto! What a glorious opportunity this affords seniors with limited incomes to absorb the rich culture on display in these marvelous museums. (This past Tuesday, for example, they viewed the amazing Annie Leibovitz photography exhibit, “A Photographer’s Life,” at the Legion of Honor, followed by lunch in the lively, sunny cafe.) 

Among the more practical, but equally valued service, are the trips to Berkeley Bowl, Trader Joe’s, Cosco, and Safeway, where seniors can load up on groceries and heavy household items, therefore not be dependent on buses and taxis for their weekly shopping. 

Mention should be made of other Berkeley Senior Centers—the South Berkeley and West Berkeley Centers who offer their own very stimulating programs. I personally have not availed myself of these programs because the Centers are not in my area. 

In summing up the wide-ranging benefits offered by the North Berkeley Senior Center under the able direction of Patricia Thomas, I can only say that this wonderful building extends to hundreds of seniors a warm, inviting, almost home-like atmosphere. You sense that warmth and intimacy the moment you step through the front door. This may sound like a wildly exaggerated description, but for the thousands of seniors who have enjoyed the North Berkeley Senior Center over the past decades, it might very well be thought of as a Treasure Palace! 

Dorothy Snodgrass