Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

Tuesday March 18, 2008







Editors, Daily Planet: 

I would like to suggest the Marines move their office to real office space that isn’t a store front. The occupants of that office themselves have casually commented that the protest didn’t bother them since they spent most of their time outside, making it clear that the Marines do not care about what’s going on. This is passive aggressive behavior. They would be much better in an unmarked office, as other federal agencies do, not attracting anyone’s attention and thereby contributing to making our city more peaceful. Perhaps their landlord has space elsewhere, and the store could become a store again. 

Guy Tiphane 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Margaret Lowry must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Mere dismissal, or transfer, is not enough, if we want to protect our children. Ms. Lowry must not be allowed to work with any child, or in education at all, in any capacity whatsoever. 

These children do not have voices. We do. Let’s use our voices to contact Berkeley Unified School District to demand the immediate dismissal (not transfer) of Margaret Lowry, and contact the Berkeley City Council to demand criminal prosecution. 

Yvette Deas 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Freudians may speculate on the origins of Mr. Hardesty’s dual preoccupation with guns and with anuses (Letters, March 11). I am reminded of Thomas Pynchon’s observation that guns are really just a way for men to “stick it in” at a distance. Hardesty’s personal insults in response to such overwhelmingly moderate views expressed by the editor lead me to suspect Hardesty of concealing a schoolboy crush—he wishes to smile and be part of the fun but finds himself belching and farting instead. 

Peter Josheff 

El Cerrito 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

There’s a Pascal quote which applies so well to our questionably “elected” president. “Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.” 

Harry Gans 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Its a shame that in the year 2008 America is still dealing with race issues; but that’s the way America is! That’s how America began! Even though it would appear that African-Americans have made some progress, it’s a myth! America is still as racist as it has always been! It seems as though nothing African-Americans feel or have to say or any complaints they have are heard or acknowledged! White America still comes up with a reason that it’s OK to discriminate against African-Americans! 

Herman Smith 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

This is just an observation about the American voter’s attitude toward women candidates. Perhaps Americans have to take a good look at these countries that produced women leaders in spite of the obstacles that that these women have had to overcome. The Philippines had two women presidents already. The Philippines is a very patriarchal society where the man is the head of the family and politics is a man’s game. Pakistan had Benazir Bhutto (God bless her) and Indonesia had Prime Minister Megawatti,. These are Muslim countries! India had Indira Gandhi when just a few years back women were not given equal status, and perhaps the pioneer of all was Prime Minister Bandanaraike of Sri Lanka. Yes, the odds were against women getting elected in these countries, but because they have the intellect, education and experience, they were given by their citizenry what is due them. 

U.S. voters, the way I look at it, with the women’s movement, women’s rights and equal rights amendments, are still reluctant to elect a woman president. America has a very qualified woman candidate in Hillary Clinton. I just don’t know why, but they’d rather vote for Barack Obama, whose qualification does not compare with Clinton. Is it because women voters are jealous that she is very intelligent? Or is it because, due to her persuasiveness, she is considered a bitch? Or is it that men don’t want to take direction from a woman? Looks like no one’s got balls here in America to lift a hand to elect a woman president for a change. 

Another thing that surprises me is that Oprah got into it. Is she nuts, or was her judgment marred by color? Does she back Obama so she will not have a rival for the title of most powerful woman on earth? Or does she just not want to back another woman who is more intelligent and smarter than she? Or is it just plain jealousy again? 

America, wake up. I do not have anything against Obama but when it comes to international diplomacy, I want a president that can face world leaders eye to eye.  

Nino Matocinos 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

My Berkeley public school has outstanding issues regarding race. Your school might be in the same position. But does your principal refuse to acknowledge it? When recently asked by a Berkeley community member if our school had race problems, our principal said, “No.” 


Race is a social construct that everyone has bought into on some level or another. Being that racism is a discriminatory practice based on one’s position within our American social construct, it is extremely difficult for the Berkeley public school community to discuss race because it might suggest that each and every one of us harbors one racist practice or another—as I feel we do: intentional or not. 

It takes a conscious effort to address our own practices that are driven by our own individual views of someone’s race. Because we may have racist tendencies doesn’t make us intentionally racist, it only exposes our consciousness about it or lack thereof. But racist we all can be. I believe that intent is a discerning factor in racism, but intentional or not, racist action is racist action. Once discrimination becomes a concept that we can all own up to, we can begin to deconstruct our fear of others and begin to pave a path to embrace one another, honestly. 

And bury the “n-word.” 

A teacher grows a voluntary two-day-a-week writing program from an attendance of 12 students to 50 students in two years time, is a special guest assistant of the Annual Holiday Double Dutch Classic at the Apollo Theatre, and is awarded a grant to begin an after-school program at his school, is African-American, but is forced to resign “not based on performance or review...but the teacher tenure policy in Berkeley Unified School District”...intentional or not, within our eurocentric predominant world view culture, yes - here in Berkeley, that is a racist action. 

An African-American student, at the same school, is presented with the “n-word” by a white teacher in the same year...intentional or not, within our eurocentric predominant world view culture, yes—here in Berkeley, that is a racist action. 

A young adult, African-American, supervisor of children from my school is stopped, has guns drawn on him, on public transportation, in the presence of students he is overseeing, is questioned as cuffs are attempted to be applied, in a case of mistaken identity two weeks ago...intentional or not, within our eurocentric predominant world view culture, yes—here in Berkeley, that is a racist action. 

African-American children at my school being sent to the office on a daily basis in disproportionate numbers to the overall racial student body makeup...intentional or not, within our eurocentric predominant world view culture, yes— here in Berkeley, that is a racist action. 

In Berkeley we take many social stances that leave the world shaking its collective head, but our racism looks like everyone else’s: painfully misaddressed. 

At my school, our racism looks like everyone else’s, but the Principal just fails to acknowledge it...hence, it may never be overtly be addressed under their stewardship. 

But we can all address our own. We can all watch what we do and begin to observe our own actions. Our own racism might teach us something about ourselves. 

Byron R. Delcomb 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

“I’ve heard that the city [Berkeley] is one of the top 10 cities with a very large reserve.” 

This statement, attributed by the Planet to SEIU 1021 Treasurer Sandra Lewis, scares the daylights out of me, as it should all of us. It typifies the attitude of greedy CEOs, bankers, home loan brokers, and Wall Street Wonders and union bosses, not to forget our politicians who are always willing to spend a dollar of someone else’s money on pork. 

It is incredible that any responsible person would make such an irresponsible and incendiary statement in light of the mess the city of Vallejo has become involved in. Caving in to unreasonable union demands over prolonged periods has brought grief to a good many companies, think General Motors, Ford, Pan Am and United Airlines just to name a few. Their executives and negotiators probably thought at the time that the good times would never end, but then they did, saddling the businesses with untenable cost burdens just because they did not have the guts to hang tough. “Get yours while you can and the devil take the hindmost,” seems to be the continuing attitude of the new millennium. 

Come to think of it, the prison guards of our state seem to have similar power and influence to keep their incomes growing as well, even at a time when our education system takes budget cutbacks, despite growing enrollment. 

It is no wonder when on rare occasions, responsible public officials decide to rebate surplus funds to taxpayers, knowing that leaving such reserves will make them irresistible slush funds for any pressure group with sufficient muscle or influence. It is truly regrettable that we can’t accept the idea of maintaining reserves for hard times, but that seems to be symptomatic of our consume-now-pay-later society. Whatever money is there must be spent. 

Some of our elected city officials seem to be more interested in currying favor with union bosses and union members rather than represent the best interest of their constituents. Councilmember Kriss Worthington mentions that there is disparity between the pay and benefits of public safety employees and other employees. Indeed, the fire and police salaries, benefits and health and retirement plans are not just gold plated, they are solid gold. But our civilian employees’ salaries and benefits aren’t shabby. How did that ever come about? Oh yes of course, we take surveys of comparable cities and then try to beat their highest package. 

It is doubtful that Worthington had in mind that we should scale-back police and fire benefits for the sake of equity. So now he must be considering increasing the civilian payroll costs. Where is that money going to come from? Perhaps we can initiate a public library user fee, or a dog-walker license fee, or even close down some senior centers, that will save a few bucks. 

Peter Klatt 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Regarding Conn Hallinan’s column, “The Story Behind Columbia’s Attack”: Hallinan was either misinformed or extremely biased, or both. “Raul Reyes” and his gang got exactly what they deserved, and nothing less. And guerrillas, please, never sleep in pajamas (information confirmed by all of the hostages (human shields?) released in the last weeks. 

Another pearl: labeling “Reyes” as a “diplomat” is ridiculous. The thug had everything going for him except diplomacy. By the way, the president before Uribe, Andrès Pastrana, spent three and a half years talking to the guy and never got anything but more of the same: assaults on towns, drug trafficking, and destruction of the country’s infrastructure. 

That foreign military were involved in the hit? Maybe, so what! Results is what count. 

Robert Diaz 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Congratulations on a thoughtful, insightful, truthful piece on the reality of Colombia’s attack on FARC insurgents on Ecuadorean soil. Such writing is woefully hard to find in U.S. media. As a U.S. American living in Quito, Ecuador, I have been extremely dismayed to the extent the media in the United States has bowed to Bush’s rhetoric concerning the raid and its aftermath. 

I would like to make one comment on the column. In it Conn Hallinan states that FARC “does not pose a danger to any country outside the borders of Colombia.” It is true that FARC does not fight on Ecuadorean soil against Colombian forces. However, it must be said that some Colombian refugees in Ecuador seeking refuge after being kidnapped or persecuted by FARC in Colombia have continued to be persecuted and followed here in Ecuador. The same is true for the right wing paramilitary forces in Colombia who will also seek out people they were following and persecuting in Colombia, that they come to Ecuador to continue their persecution. So FARC’s and the paramilitary’s influence does go beyond Colombia. 

C. Morck 

Quito, Ecuador 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I received this very moving, reality letter from Ron Kovac in a Code Pink e-mail. I hope the Planet will print it because every rational, factual response to the sad, ignorant support for the MRC ought to be blasted from our rooftops. 

“I am sending my complete support and admiration to all those now involved in the courageous struggle to stop military recruitment in Berkeley and around the country. Not since the Vietnam War protests of the late sixties has there been a cause more just than the one you are now engaged in. 

Over the past five years, I have watched in horror the mirror image of another Vietnam unfolding in Iraq. So many similarities, so many things said that remind me of that war thirty years ago which left me paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair for life. Refusing to learn from the lessons of Vietnam, our government continues to pursue a policy of deception, distortion, manipulation and denial. As we approach the fifth anniversary of this tragic and senseless war, I can not help but think of the young men and women who have been wounded, nearly 30,000, flooding Walter Reed, Bethesda, Brooke Army Medical Center and Veterans Hospitals all across our country. Paraplegics, amputees, burn victims, the blinded and maimed, shocked and stunned, brain damaged and psychologically stressed, a whole new generation of severely maimed who were not even born when I came home wounded to the Bronx Veterans Hospital in 1968. 

It is time to use every means of creative nonviolent civil disobedience to stop the war machine. Military recruiters must be confronted in every high school, every campus, every recruiting office, on every street corner, in every town and city across America. The days of deceiving, manipulating and victimizing our young people must end. I stand with you in this courageous fight and I am confident your actions in the days ahead will inspire countless others across our country to do everything they can to end this deeply immoral and illegal war!” 

Maris Arnold 

P.S. I thought the City Council’s first decision on the Peace and Justice Commission resolution was a thrilling attempt by a city government to turn swords into plowshares. May it prevail before there are no schools, no libraries, no parks, but only our mighty state prison system left intact.  




Editors, Daily Planet: 

What gives Kenneth Thiesen the “freedom” to espouse the nonsense that he does and gives me the right to call him a bonehead, is the very reason why we should support our troops! If we hadn’t supported our troops during World War II, Mr. Thiesen may very well be writing in German now rather than English.  

Our troops are doing their duty regardless of what we may feel about the armed conflict in which they are involved. They’re following orders, they deserve our support. I loathed Bill Clinton and didn’t care much for his foreign policy but, nonetheless, I still supported the troops in the armed conflicts in which he involved us. 

Thus, Mr. Thiesen and myself have the right to disagree. A wonderful thing, freedom, isn’t it, Mr. Thiesen? 

Marcus Beresford 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The Berkeley Voice seems determined to disseminate, without evidence, the assertion that a boycott due to the City Council’s stance on the Marine Corps recruiting station is costing the city’s business “thousands of dollars.” In addition to a front-page article last week (“Downtown businesses feel pinch of protests,” Feb. 29), there is Martin Snapp’s column this week (“Tolerance Should be the Top Priority,” March 14) “begging” us not to join in this boycott. What better way to substantiate something than to warn people against it? But like last week’s article, Mr. Snapp offers no evidence of any actual boycott; no businesses reporting losses due to a boycott, no cancellations of reservations, etc.  

While there could very well be a boycott that is harming Berkeley, let’s get some evidence before building a campaign against it! Otherwise it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. A responsible periodical would do more than offer hearsay such as this. 

Chris Gilbert 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

In response to Becky O’Malley’s March 14 editorial titled, “How Much Do Race and Gender Matter?”: 

Since when is it not OK to be a strong white woman? The cruel criticism of Hillary Clinton is really unnecessary and it only makes some of us more protective of her. 

Diane Villanueva 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I read the March 4 commentary by Alesia Kunz, which, though well written, somehow missed the mark for me. The solar calendar that has been installed there is not at all intrusive to the surroundings. It is, in fact, an ideal location for an installation of this sort and has been put in place in a very respectful manner. There are no restrictive buildings or trees so that a 360-degree view can be had by everyone whether or not they are there to see the installation. 

Alesia seems to be angered just because there are a few stones placed in specific locations at the top of this hill. Rather than looking at them as impediments to her enjoyment she can simply think of them as objects for meditation or even to sit on while enjoying the view. She did correctly indicate that this portion of the park is outside the leash free zone so it won’t even hinder her dog from having any more fun or freedom than it would have without the calendar being there. 

The four stones she called tombstones are not at all intrusive in the area. They do not ever rise above the four rocks marking North, South, East, and West. These “large” rocks are themselves only three or four feet in size. They certainly should not cause the anguish that Alesia seems to have. Her life must be quite limited if this is all that she has to worry about. 

I have been at several of the solstice and equinox events held there during the last year or so. They have all been well attended by a group of respectful people interested in how our world fits into the larger scheme of things. It is always humbling when trying to grasp the larger picture of how we fit into the cosmos. One way to do this is to watch the sun rise or set. Hopefully Alesia can attend one of these gatherings and realize an installation like this is not just a monument to Cesar Chavez but on a larger scale is a monument to how we fit into the universe. 

Russell Nelson 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

In her commentary “Why the Nader-as-Spoiler Argument Carries Little Weight” Ruthanne Shpiner omits Florida exit polling data that would almost certainly have refuted her conclusion. In Florida, where Bush officially received 537 more votes than Gore, Nader received 97,488 votes. Based upon the assumption—unrealistically generous to Bush though it is—that, without Nader, Bush would have received 49 percent of Nader’s vote (47,769 votes) and Gore would have received 51 percent of Nader’s vote (49,719 votes), Gore would have defeated Bush in Florida by 950 votes. Based upon the more realistic assumption that, absent Nader, his votes would have split more than two to one in favor of Gore, as exit polls cited by Ms. Shpiner in Oregon and New Hampshire revealed, Gore would have defeated Bush in Florida by more than 32,000 votes. 

The outcome of the 2000 Florida election (as with all other elections usually) depends upon multiple factors. Had legitimate black voters in Florida, erroneously classified as ex-felons, not been denied their rightful vote, had the Supreme Court not ruled against a careful recount, had the judgment of people who voted for Bush not turned to mush, had Gore campaigned more effectively and so on, he would have won. In short, a number of factors caused Gore’s Florida loss; absent any one of them, including Nader running, Gore, not Bush, would have been president. 

All too many Nader defenders, when confronted with the above assertion by frustrated Gore supporters, respond selectively. They respond, appropriately enough, that Nader was right to run, but refuse to admit (as easily supported by the above statistics) that exercising that right gave Bush the presidency. 

Frank Hochfeld 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

In his March 11 commentary (“Why I Don’t Support the Troops”) Kenneth Thiesen expresses the conflict many of us feel between disgust for our protracted occupation of Iraq and our empathy, if not support, for our personnel assigned there and in “over 700 military bases or sites located in over 130 foreign countries.” I think this must be viewed, however, from broader historical and geopolitical perspectives. 

The historical perspective: The bombing of Pearl Harbor by Japan jolted the United States out of its isolationist slumber and sparked a miracle of military and industrial mobilization that saved the world from Nazi domination. Germany was marching through Europe and, but for our lend-lease aid and ultimate invasion of France, would have defeated the Soviet’s valiant defenders, then gone on to occupy China, the Middle East, Asia, and Africa. Ultimate occupation of the Americas may have been unlikely, but our isolation would have been crippling. This rescue mission was the template for the US role as the world’s watchdog. Through the ensuing half-century that role has often been corrupt and self-serving, notably in the Shah’s Iran, in Vietnam, and in Iraq, where our presence is tainted by our competition for oil. 

The geopolitical perspective: The world today is a tinderbox—a chaos of contending nations, cultures, creeds and collusions, from thuggish African dictators to the reawakening of Marxism in South America to the tenth century mentality of Middle Eastern jihadis seething to shed each other’s blood, our blood, anyone’s blood—all vying for economic, military, even nuclear power. Suppose we could satisfy Mr. Thiesen’s outrage at “U.S. imperialist domination of the world” by recalling all those troops. Just what other world power would you then choose to become the stabilizing force necessary to offer rapid response to the myriad political brushfires that would immediately ensue? The U.N.?—don’t be silly! Until China comes of age and inevitably assumes that governing role, the United States must continue muddling through its “manifest destiny.” 

About Iraq: The U.S. response to the atrocity of 9/11 was on one hand reasonable—sending troops to Afghanistan, the home office of al Qaeda. But through official ignorance or duplicity the decision was made to overthrow the odious but irrelevant dictatorship of Saddam Hussein. All that our hideously costly five-year occupation has achieved is the separation of Sunnis and Shiites into a hundred isolated enclaves where they glare at each other with hatred from behind their walls. They only wait for U.S. troops to leave their streets so that they may rage into a bloodbath that will be an Iraqi replay of the Hutu-Tutsi massacres of Rwanda, and will leave Iraq an all-Shiite territory open to political manipulation by Iran. Abandoning Iraq abruptly is unthinkable, however much we may wish to. The rational course is a tripartite division into Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish sectors. Managed resettlement would cost less than a week of our current occupation. 

The answer to “U.S. hegemony” is not to recall or dissolve our military force, but to elect a government that will redefine its function in terms of world stability rather than corporate greed. 

Jerry Landis 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

Just before last Christmas, the Department of Energy (DOE) announced its latest plans for revitalizing and rebuilding the U.S. weapons research, development, testing and production complex of the future. One of the eight sites for this “Complex Transformation” is Lawrence Livermore Lab. It is important to understand that the Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) guiding these plans is not a law, but a policy developed by the Bush administration.  

The plan essentially calls for a more efficient complex and includes the development of new nuclear and chemical weapons. The latest Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for this project, according to Jackie Cabasso, of Western States Legal Foundation, is “an attempt to rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic.” 

Some of the issues at stake are: 

• The safety and health of the surrounding community: A terrorist attack, an earthquake or an accident (of which there have been many), could release the existing plutonium, enriched uranium and as-yet-unidentified chemicals at Livermore Lab into the atmosphere, putting the lives of seven million people within a 50-mile radius of the lab at extreme risk. 

• The safety and health of employees: In the January/February Tri-Valley Cares newsletter, Marylia Kelly documents the cases of 178 Livermore Lab employees who were exposed to Beryllium without their knowledge, their subsequent health issues and the Lab cover-up. (This toxic metal, when inhaled, can cause incurable and life-threatening lung disease.) 

• The environmental impacts: Radioactive materials can last for thousands of years, lingering in the air, the water and the earth. 

• Squandered wealth: In light of the current recession, this obsession with weapons development is insane. According to Joseph Stiglitz, “The U.S. spends as much on weapons as the rest of the world all together.” 

The good news is that the plan is not final and we have the opportunity to influence these decisions in upcoming public hearings. Public hearings on Complex Transformation: 

Tracy-Tuesday, March 18, Holiday Inn Express, 3751 N. Tracy Blvd. from 6-10 p.m. (One session.)  

• Livermore-Wednesday, March 19, Robert Livermore Community Center, 4444 East Ave. from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. and 6 p.m.-10 p.m. (Two sessions.) 

If you can’t come to the hearings, you can register your opinion by writing to Mr. Theodore Wyka, Complex Transformation SPEIS Document Manager, Office of Transformation, NA-10.1, US Dept. of Energy/NNSA, 1000 Independence Ave., SW. Washington, DC 20585. Fax: (703) 931-9222. E-mail: 

Laura Santina 

WILPF, Berkeley/East Bay Branch 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The 2008 election should result in a landslide victory for the Democrats. The Iraq war is leading the nation into bankruptcy. The economy is headed into the worst recession since 1940 with millions losing their jobs and homes. And the Republicans offer nothing but more bailouts to multinational corporations and more war. But the Democratic Party is still at odds with itself. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have placed their own narrow political interests above the interests of the American people. Slash and Burn specialists Obama and Clinton are fighting about personality, race and gender when they have no significant policy differences between them. Clinton and Obama are catastrophically on the verge of handing the White House to John McCain. 

Nathaniel Hardin 

El Cerrito 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

On Friday, March 21, the citizens of Berkeley finally get to make their arguments before a neutral party who has the duty to apply the law as it is written rather than how it can be twisted and distorted to fit a preferred outcome. Unlike the vote before ZAB that was stacked by the last-minute removal of a skeptical member or before the City Council which had one of its most forceful advocates for affordable housing removed from the deliberations because of her husband’s lease, Superior Court Judge Roesch will listen to and rule on our arguments about how the city applies its Zoning Ordinance and interprets state law. That the process has cost citizens almost $40,000 in legal fees to finally obtain a fair hearing speaks volumes about how money politics plays out in Berkeley these days. 

We are asking Judge Roesch to rule on these questions: 

Can Berkeley re-write its zoning ordinance protections for homeowners adjacent to commercial projects and give a use permit for a project that doubles the required setback to one neighbor while reducing another neighbor’s setback to nothing, finding that is an acceptable outcome because it ‘on average’ improves privacy and offers an amenity, and that it is not as bad as some other project could have been? 

Can Berkeley withhold from the ZAB, the City Council, and the public an analysis proving that the project’s 63 percent density bonus was not necessary for the financial feasibility of its affordable housing units as required by State law but was granted to compensate the developer for Trader Joe’s free parking lot?  

Can Berkeley avoid the required CEQA analysis of a new and wide-reaching city policy of paying for such “public” benefits as a foreign-owned anti-union, but popular supermarket with market rate bonus units (and granting variances necessary to accommodate them) simply by maintaining they always had the power to ignore their own Zoning Ordinance for affordable housing projects? 

Can Berkeley hide behind its own absurdly low parking standards when evaluating a project’s impacts under CEQA, or must they divulge and consider the parking demand figures from the same national body that they use to evaluate traffic coming to shop at Trader Joe’s?  

Can Berkeley dismiss public controversy about a project and citizen CEQA comments about impacts as nothing more than “hand-waving, lay opinion, argument, and speculation” to simply to avoid evaluating feasible alternatives to the proposed project that as required under a full EIR? 

Stephen Wollmer 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

That’s what I call the Van Hool buses. Not because they probably serve the handicapped well. (No arguments here!) But mostly because, if you are not yet an invalid, sooner or later you will become one, take my word. 

That happened to me on my first (and only!) ride: At the first turn I flew off that ridiculous perch of a seat, arms and legs vainly flailing the air for something to hold on to, falling, hurting my wrist. “What busload of fools got us this bus?,” flashed through my mind. 

But then I calmed down, in full grasp of AC Director Fernandez’s ingenious purpose: Give the public the most perfectly politically correct bus possible. Why not turn everybody into invalids? That will teach them! Call Mr. Fernandez (or maybe his bus?) the “Great Equalizer.” 

Juergen Hahn 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Over the next few days, many local adults will be tempted to buy an Easter rabbit for a beloved child, godchild, grandchild, niece, or nephew. And a few months from now, our local animal shelters will be, as they are every year, inundated by a flood of cast-off bunnies. The House Rabbit Society asks that everyone who is considering buying a rabbit this year stop and think about two important facts: 

First, although rabbits can make wonderful pets, they are naturally fragile and timid. An active child who expects a cuddly pet can easily terrify or even injure a rabbit. 

Second, a well cared for rabbit should live as long as a large dog (10 years or more) and will require just as much love, attention, and veterinary care as a dog or cat would. So don’t give an Easter rabbit to a child unless you know that the child’s parents will be happy to take on a decade-long commitment. 

If you want to make a child’s Easter happy, don’t give a live rabbit unless you know it will be loved and cared for throughout its natural life. If there’s any doubt, give a stuffed or chocolate bunny instead. 

Jack Doran 

Shelter Manager, House Rabbit Society International Headquarters 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

On Wednesday, March 12, the Global Studies Club at Berkeley City College held an open mic and rally against the proposed budget cuts to education. With over 100 students in attendance, students spoke out on the topic of “What my education means to me and if I were to lose it.” One student said, “In a situation like this, it is impossible to be neutral. This affects us all.” Another student said, “There is really no excuse why our education should have to be cut in California, which is the seventh largest economy in the world. I think we can beat back these cuts. It is really up to us whether or not these proposals go forward.” Other students read their poetry of protest. A teacher addressed the issue of California’s budget crisis, alleging that, “The banks that are responsible for the sub-prime loan scam are the ones to blame for the budget deficit. We should not pay for their crisis.” Students and faculty were clad in T-shirts, made for the occasion and selling now for $5 with the message, “No cuts to education, education is a right, not a privilege,” and a fist holding a pencil. 

Another rally is scheduled for April 30th from 12-1 in the Berkeley City College Auditorium in which politicians from Sacramento will be in attendance. Currently, students and faculty are circulating petitions and writing letters to their representatives. They are currently planning to march in Sacramento against the budget cuts at the beginning of the fall semester. 

Sacramento’s budget proposals will result in the elimination of 50,000 community college students, a raise in tuition, reduction of full time employees in favor of part time employees, cuts to financial aid, grants and scholarships. Find out more at or contact 

Jason Wins 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

On a recent Wednesday in February I went as a Cragmont parent representative on a Berkeley delegation to Sacramento to talk to legislators about the needs of our students in public education and learn more about the budget crisis at hand.  

We are now ranked 46th in the nation in per pupil public school funding, $2,000 per pupil less than the national average. So how is it that we are being asked to cut funding by 10 percent? Clearly these are lean times for state coffers, but I believe we must not be asking the youngest members of our society to take the brunt of our political and financial problems. If we are going to continue to compete in a global economy while creating a desirable state in which to raise families, we must understand that quality public education is the cornerstone of our society and must be given the priority it deserves.  

I learned a few things on our visit. Did you know that it takes a two-thirds majority vote in the Legislature to increase revenues through taxes, whether it be a Vehicle License Tax, sales tax on luxury boats and planes, or income tax? Without members from both political parties no new revenues are possible. To do away with a tax, the Legislature must only secure a simple majority of over 50 percent. In flush times, the governor and our Legislature has cut taxes instead of saving for lean times. Now that monies are short, we are hard pressed to convince a two-thirds majority of Democrats and Republicans to create any new revenue streams. The floor of our funding formula is too low. 

Another disturbing impact of these affairs is that instead of being able to focus on our educational priorities, our district officials have to spend precious and long hours looking to make cuts in an already tight budget that will only weaken our service to students. While our district and community remain committed to not raising class size and not making cuts in direct service to students, ultimately the cuts do affect how much we can do for our kids. It also creates personal difficulties for the staff, who make valuable contributions to the running of our schools, and who are entering a period of job uncertainty. While the state can haggle for months to come over the budget, school districts are required by law to plan for the 10 percent cuts the governor has recommended by submitting a balanced budget for the coming school year by May, 2008. 

Because of our democratic government, there are things we can do. We need to educate ourselves and each other about the crisis at hand, we must insist that our representatives actually represent our interests, and we must be heard across the state in order to affect change in Sacramento. That means writing our government officials and insisting on a no cuts stance, no matter what. It means talking to friends and relatives in more Republican enclaves of the state and asking them to do the same. Time is of the essence. Please join me in fighting any cuts to our schools! 

Lea Baechler-Brabo 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

It is absolutely horrifying to learn that the City of San Francisco, led by Mayor Gavin Newsom, plans to limit exposure and access of public space to demonstrators speaking out against the violence occurring right now in Tibet at the hands of Chinese authorities during the April 9 Olympic torch run through San Francisco. San Francisco is not Beijing. We do not censor free speech and we cannot restrict the space in which free speech is conducted. 

The Tibetan people in Tibet and their friends and families worldwide are facing one of the most frightening moments in Tibetan history since Chinese occupation and the Tibetan resistance of 1959. The Bay Area’s reputation in the global community as a beacon of progressive thought and just political action is betraying its own nature by intending to confine protesters to “free speech areas” that are “associated with” the torch route, but not on the route itself. 

It is completely unacceptable that San Francisco will inadvertently partake in what the Dalai Lama has called “cultural genocide” in Tibet by complying with Beijing’s agenda to minimize and squash Tibetan resistance against the decimation of Tibetan culture, religion, language and ethnicity. 

Heidi Basch 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

The majority of Californians should be aware of an initiative that is on the June ballot. That initiative is known as Proposition 98. The proponents of this initiative claim it is a way to stop eminent domain here in California. However, if people look carefully, the initiative will roadblock environmental regulations in the state, such as the Clean Water Act, which preserves clean water. 

It would be a disaster for the majority of Californians who are currently fighting global warming. Also Prop. 98 would do away with rent control laws all over the state and the result would be people being evicted from their homes. For example, in Oakland, the state initiative would overturn the city’s Measure EE law, which prevents people from being evicted from their homes because of greed. 

Prop. 98 must be defeated in order for both environmental regulations to be retained to preserve clean water and fight global warming, and for working class people to still live in California. 

Billy Trice, Jr.