Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

Monday May 12, 2008 - 01:40:00 PM




Editors, Daily Planet: 

L A Wood should stop complaining about the past and offer solutions for the recreation needs of thousands of Berkeley and area youth. The fields he complains about provide a chance for people of all ages to run around and have fun—not just the youth soccer players he repeatedly derides in his commentary. Indeed, my daughter plays softball and my son plays rugby on these fields. All four fields are in constant use by every age group and ethnicity found in Berkeley. 

Doug Fielding is a champion of our youth (and active grownups) and his efforts to create places to play in a crowded area with few open spaces should be applauded rather than cheapened with gossipy remarks without foundation. 

Paul Lecky 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Becky O’Malley’s recent editorial on Chris Wootton is most upsetting to say the least. To make the statement that he was “originally a good Christian boy caught up in a thug mentality” is an assumption she makes, along with “because he was white it was news,” and is nothing but sensational, irresponsible journalism. What do you know about this fine young man except from reading a blog entry? Nobody said he was a saint; few people are the last time I checked. To label him with a thug mentality for trying to diffuse a bad situation because he belonged to a fraternity is just plain wrong. How about letting the people who actually knew him grieve and place him to rest before you pile on some more verbal garbage that will get you some more publicity? 

Do I think the colleges across the country have problems with drinking and the Greek system? Yes. Do things need to change? Yes. There is a way to address those issues without demeaning the value of another human being who died a tragic death. Would you still write the same kind of article, if you knew this person intimately, or if he was a relative? Only you can answer that question. As a parent who has a son at Cal, and is from the Los Angeles area, I knew the blog entries of Mr. Wootton would be used against him and diminish his true reputation and character. It saddens me beyond words that he is gone and your article just rubbed salt in all of our emotional wounds.  

You bring up many fine and important issues. I only wish you would have done it in a different manner and had a little compassion in a most devastating time for all of us who really knew him. 

Thomas Wintz 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

While Becky O’Malley’s historical take on the inescapability of violence—especially between young men—is part of the explanation of why these tragedies happen, I do believe that the reinforcement of constant violent messages in TV, movies and videogames predisposes people—especially, it seems, young people—to consider such acts as reasonable solutions to disagreements. The endless violent images and disrespectful talk and name-calling combined with easy access to weapons is a poisonous stew, and we all suffer. 

A youngster in our neighborhood was walking home one day when a man by a car popped open his trunk, exposing a trunkful of guns. He said to our neighbor boy, “Any gun you want, 20 bucks.” When I told people about this incident, most dismissed the incident. One lawyer said, “Oh, that wouldn’t happen on Shattuck Avenue.” Too many guns, too many violent images. And now more youngsters dead. 

Our society needs to change. We live here; it’s up to us. 

Alta Gerrey 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I am writing to bring attention to domestic violence, to remind people of how common it is and how frequently it occurs. Domestic violence is a violation of human rights. The state is obligated to protect people from human rights abuses. For those who’ve had their human rights violated, the state is supposed to assist them by providing services to take care of them, but they don’t provide enough funding. In the United States alone, a woman is raped every six seconds, battered every 15 seconds and every day more than three woman are killed from a domestic violence-related homicide. Not to mention the torture women endure in many other countries. Most domestic violence resources are non-profit and depend on volunteers, donations and grants to keep running. Because of budget cuts and the rising cost of living including price hikes in gas and food, can have an affect on the size of donations and contributions to resources for domestic violence victims and survivors. Domestic violence resources are available though and if anyone needs assistance can call (800) 799-SAFE (7233) or go to Also, October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Please help in the fight to stop domestic violence.  

C. Williams  

San Francisco 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I’m intrigued by the moth-spray folks who assure us that the pheromones will confuse the male moths to have sex; but with whom? I dread to think that this chemo-techie solution to an agribusiness problem might not lead to aggressive male light-brown moths “servicing” errant houseflies, or butterflies, or bees, or any number of other flying females. And then, what might be created from such a coupling? It’s an insect Frankenstein possibility that we should consider seriously before trying to fool Mother Nature. We should abjure creating innocent male moths to become turned-on interspecies rapists, thus leading to the possibility of insects who might be beyond our worst nightmares. Join me in creating an outcry against this action. Or at least, if we fail to prevent this spraying, let’s create special “swat” squads to meet the challenge of upcoming hordes of sci-fi insects!  

Robert Blau 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Wow Becky! Actual reporting—with research—and real “balance” (a forgotten factor in today’s biased media) about the events of the fraternity friends’ huge misfortune. First you addressed the wild interpretation that there was a class disparity, the Times report, and then, that this accident was not self defense. 

While you’re at it, suggest that Riya Bhattacharjee not get carried away with hyperbolic newspaper reportage to suggest there’s a major barber shop in the jail: Hoeft-Edenfield appeared “...sporting a crew cut”! And nice of her to aid Overmeir’s constant excessive, meaningless search for notice by quoting his useless observation—an oppressive tactic which he employs, much to the impatience of his obligatory listeners at governmental sessions. 

Norma J F Harrison 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

May 18-24 is Dog Bite Prevention Week. Dogs bite for a variety of reasons, but one of the surest ways to create a dangerous, neurotic, frustrated animal is to chain it to a tree or doghouse and leave it to pace the same patch of dirt for months or years on end. 

Dogs are highly social pack animals that thrive on interaction with humans and other animals; so, when deprived of the opportunity to socialize, exercise, and receive kindness from humans, chained and isolated dogs can become aggressive and are 2.8 times more likely to bite humans than dogs who are not. 

Although California became, in 2006, the first state in the nation to pass a law that prohibits “man’s best friend” from being chained for more than three hours in any 24-hour period, the law is not always enforced because of the huge workload local Animal Control Officers carry. Often, people have no idea the practice is even illegal. 

Section 597(f) of the California Penal Code states that, “. . . No person shall tether, fasten, chain, tie, or restrain a dog, or cause a dog to be tethered, fastened, chained, tied, or restrained, to a dog house, tree, fence, or any other stationary object.” A person who violates the law may be issued a warning, or charged with an infraction or misdemeanor. An infraction is punishable by a $250 fine. A misdemeanor is punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 or six months in jail, or both. Enforcing the law can have a trickle-down effect on the battle against other crimes, such as dog fighting and drug running because many of the dogs used in these illegal activities are kept on chains. 

If you know of dogs that are kept chained in Berkeley, please notify Berkeley Animal Control at 981-6600. If you know of dogs chained in other jurisdictions, please contact Animal Control for those areas. You may also try talking gently to the owners of the dogs about the suffering that perpetually chained dogs endure, and the danger these dogs may potentially pose to humans. You can learn more about this issue at 

Pam Fanning 

Bay Area Representative, Dogs Deserve Better 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

We should not feel bad about reminding young people that we all have some civic responsibility towards others as members of the human family. If we can stir the feeling of belongingness it will help us love others and teach us tolerance. It will make us think of the needs of others. It will prompt us not to put ourselves first. What can we do to stir such feelings? 

Romila Khanna 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

Imagine that while you are celebrating a big birthday, most of your neighbors are plotting ways to kill you, and rewarding their friends for debating your “right to exist.” That is what the Jewish State faces. 

Tiny Israel—1/19th the size of California—has a population of 6.5 million, including 1.5 Arabs. It is surrounded by 100 million in 22 Arab League countries that occupy 1/10th of the earth’s land surface. Of the UN’s 192 members, only Israel is charged with racism for the crime of its existence. 

Although ancient Israel dates back 3,000 years, modern Israel is now 60 years old— powerful, economically thriving, and financially independent. On May 14, 1948, even as five Arab armies began attacking the reborn Israel, Jews danced in the streets, thrilled at returning to their ancestral homeland. These days Palestinians dance in the streets to celebrate when Israelis are murdered. 

In spite of constant enemy attacks, Israel is a world leader in medicine, agriculture, science and technology. Its contributions—drip irrigation, the cell phone, the computer chip, the MRI, and other lifesaving advancements—benefit all people, even those determined to destroy the Jewish state. 

Israel’s enemies are brilliant at rewriting history and influencing others, like the ‘new’ UN Human Rights Council, which last year directed 2 percent of its indictments against Burma and 75 percent against Israel. 

There have been no Israeli suicide bombers or American flag-burnings in Israel, which may partly explain why, according to recent polls, more than 70 percent of Americans favor strong ties and share values with the Jewish State, the only democracy in the Middle East. 

June Brott 






Editors, Daily Planet: 

The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s plans for Strawberry Canyon and the hillsides behind the UC campus have inspired this new verse to “Blowin’ in the Wind”: 


How many nano particles float in our air, 

Before safety testing’s been done, 

How many lab workers sicken from radiation, 

And no compensation has come… 

How many of our officials just turn their heads, 

As if they are deaf, blind, and dumb, 

The answers, like smog, are blowin’ in the wind, 

And now we must all clean the wind! 

—or we will destroy our planet. 


The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories, UC, and their politician friends, could make more fame and fortune by cleaning up their act, and by spearheading clean up of our planet. This is what we need, not paving the earth, destroying our oxygen producing trees, and calling their investment boondoggle “The Green Corridor.” 

Merrilie Mitchell 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I strongly oppose the LBAM spraying without a thorough scientific study of the effects on the health of humans, especially those who are already compromised by health problems. We lack credible evidence that LBAM will even work against the targeted moths, while at the same time we don’t know what other insects the spray may adversely affected. Historically we have repeatedly seen cases where industry and government have assured us of the safety of something — such as routine DDT spraying in the past — that was insufficiently researched and turned out to be ineffective against its target, but damaging to the environment and to human beings. This kind of pseudo-science must stop. 

Dr. Karen Ann Watson-Gegeo 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The use of toxic chemicals, sprayed randomly from the sky over our neighborhoods and agricultural areas is an ill-conceived proposal. The effects of these chemicals (and we do not even have disclosure on what they are!) remain unknown. One thing we do know is that attempting to eradicate any organism with synthetic chemical agents historically has tended to simply create super strains of those organisms who have greater resistance and the result is contamination of our water, destruction of our natural environment and a spate of human disease that will effect generations to come. 

Bad ideas do not make for viable solutions, they just make petrochemical lobbyists and their corporate handlers vast sums of money. As James Brown said, “Money won’t change you, but time will take you out.” 

Aerial spraying is state-sponsored terrorism against We The People. Big Pharma and Big Agribusiness does not set the agenda— State representatives and state agencies work for us and for the small organic farmers who have worked so tirelessly to give California a leadership position internationally as a leader in the Green-revolution. 

Protect our Children’s Health. Protect our water, air and organic farmers, Ban the aerial spraying of secret chemical cocktails permanently! 

Andrew and Jennifer Carothers-Liske 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

Robert F. Kennedy once said, “There are those that look at things the way they are, and ask why? I dream of things that never were, and ask why not.” Now we, the voters of California’s 14th Assembly District, have the opportunity to choose what kind of Assembly member do we want representing us and working for us everyday; someone who asks ”why” or someone who asks “why not?” 

As a Richmond City Council member and as a non-profit leader, Tony Thurmond asks why not often. Why are we not improving our schools? Why do we not have single-payer universal health care? Why are we not doing more to protect and preserve our environment? Why are we not working harder to reduce crime and end the violence in our communities? These are problems that Tony Thurmond works on every day and is dedicated to solve. 

Congressman George Miller and many other elected officials and community leaders agree with him and have endorsed Tony as the best candidate to get California back on track. 

So if you dream of things that never were, but should be, vote for Tony Thurmond and help make our dreams reality. 

Al Miller 

El Cerrito 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I am a Comcast customer. It was dismaying to hear that Comcast has refused to run an ad critical of the Speaker of the House, i.e. Shirley Golub’s ad for her candidacy against Nancy Pelosi. I am one of many, many Americans who were initially hopeful when Ms. Pelosi became speaker, but have become increasingly dismayed by Pelosi’s “wait-it-out” approach to the Bush presidency. The most egregious result of Pelosi’s approach, of course, is the mounting number of American and Iraqi deaths on our misbegotten war. But you needn’t agree with this view to run an ad for a political candidate: You simply need to be in favor of free speech. Does Comcast really want to cast itself as a “filter” of political content, going down the same road Google has in China? 

Clark Suprynowicz 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

So Comcast declines to run Shirley Golub’s TV ad. Thus far, I have resisted getting cable because of its cost. Now I will not get cable because I don’t trust the providers to give equal coverage of material the owners don’t like. As far as I am concerned, Comcast can take a hike. 

Carolyn Scarr 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I take as much care as possible with my own health and the health of those I love. My husband died of cancer 10 years ago, and my current partner has multiple myeloma. Caring for someone with a compromised immune system is a delicate matter. I can’t even imagine that our leaders would allow this assault on people with health concerns. Our clinics are full of citizens with fragile systems, who every day do all they can to feel ok and carry on with their lives. They struggle to eat well, move without pain, stay away from toxins. 

I am absolutely opposed to aerial spraying of any kind. This goes against all we have learned in the past decades about pest control and sustainability, not to mention public health. 

I say to you that no one has the right to spray us with unwanted, untested, and demonstrably unnecessary chemicals. 

You must find another way to control pests. 

Susan Marchionna 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Shortly, Berkeley will need to weigh in on what it feels is the best solution for improving public transit amongst the alternatives laid out by AC Transit in its Bus Rapid Transit proposal. Specifically, we’ll need to select the “Local Preferred Alternative” we want in Berkeley.  

On Wednesday, Berkeleyan’s for Better Transportation Options presented our detailed plan for Rapid Bus Plus, the greatly enhanced version of the current 1R line, to the Planning Commission. The Berkeley Daily Planet posted a one-page summary of Rapid Bus Plus in its online commentary section. You can see our detailed proposal here: 

This five-page PDF lays out the major elements that we believe will make public transit better, faster, greener and much more rider friendly. It also includes a section listing other options AC Transit could use the $400 million it anticipates spending for BRT with dedicated lanes. The letter is signed by 25 of us who want better public transit now. 

At the joint Planning and Transportation Commission meeting last month, Jim Cunradi, BRT project manager, agreed that AC Transit would use Rapid Bus Plus as one of the options studied in the final Environmental Impact Report on BRT. We hope the Planning Commission will carefully evaluate Rapid Bus Plus and vote for Rapid Bus Plus as the “Local Preferred Alternative” that Berkeley wants to see implemented. 

Its clear that Rapid Bus Plus is a strong solution to today’s public transit concerns. Its equally clear that just as when BART was planned to be above ground in much of Berkeley, Berkeley can choose an alternate path that is better for our community. 

Vincent Casalaina 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Last week it was reported that UC Berkeley was hiring yet another associate vice chancellor, this one for some marketing job, at a salary of $230,000. Presumably she’ll get benefits on top of that. 

The front page of the May 6 Daily Californian carried a chart and related article projecting that the budget for the department of East Asian Languages will be reduced next year by $342,000, and the number of students served will be halved. The alleged culprit is proposed cuts to the state budget. Yet the campus authorities continue to add to the already bloated ranks of non-academic associate, assistant, and full vice chancellors. By doing without their new marketing associate vice chancellor and firing at least one more non-academic vice chancellor the saving of a minimum of $460,000 could be realized and the department of East Asian Languages could be in the clear. Somebody’s priorities are out of whack. 

S. Entwistle 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Moth or myth?  

Who can know whither her goings to and fro? 

For without the metrics of this or that tree, 

the effect of this moth remains a myst’ry. 

Yet there are those who claim insight— 

have they followed her in dead of night? 

They say she ravages, they say she feasts 

on 2000 plants—now that’s quite a beast! 

She must find every plant quite yummy, 

never mind the size of her tummy. 

And these men will say we need constant spraying, 

if we our fears are to be allaying. 

But if it is true, wouldn’t we see 

apple moths lurking in every tree? 

Wouldn’t the crops be tattered and torn? 

Wouldn’t the orchards look forlorn? 

For this moth has been here years 

and life goes on, despite the fears 

of stupid men racked with paranoia, 

whose pathetic arguments will really annoy ya. 

I say, look to New Zealand for a classic example— 

100 years of moth and clearly they aren’t all 

running around spraying the people, 

afraid that the moth will come and eat all 

the produce, the flowers, the grass and the trees. 


Give me a break 

with your spraying schemes— 



Henry Rush