Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

Thursday May 29, 2008 - 10:05:00 AM


Editors, Daily Planet: 

I found David Blake’s recent articles in the Planet on the performance of Berkeley’s mayor profoundly disturbing. Mr. Blake’s commentary presents a sad, but apparently true, tale of co-option and betrayal of progressive principles which have been the hallmark of Berkeley politics for decades. 

As evidence, Mr. Blake points to the mayor’s role in sabotaging the right of workers to form a union at the new Berkeley Bowl; his support for neighborhood-busting zoning changes; his futile attempt to oust the two most progressive members of the Berkeley City Council; his hijacking of a desirable sunshine ordinance; and generally selling out the city to well-financed developers. 

These are serious charges, but Mr. Blake could have easily added the fact that Mayor Bates has now chosen to oppose the progressive candidacy of Kriss Worthington for the state Assembly in the 14th District by supporting another candidate. Kriss Worthington is easily the most progressive candidate in that race and has ably represented Berkeley’s progressive community as a member of the City Council. (Worthington’s impressive credentials are aptly described in the excellent article by Ruth Michaels and Sydney Vilen which appeared in the May 22 Planet.) 

Nearly 40 years ago, I was fortunate to be elected to the same Assembly seat now being sought by Kriss Worthington. With immense help from Berkeley’s progressive community, we were able to defeat a 16-year Republican incumbent, take control of the district from the conservatives, and deliver it into progressive hands, Tom Bates, whom I have known for more than 50 years, was my personal friend and campaign manager, then became my administrative assistant, and ultimately succeeded me in that office. 

It therefore pains me personally to publicly challenge the mayor’s progressive integrity, but I have seen enough. By opposing Kriss Worthington’s candidacy, Mayor Bates has not only confirmed Dave Blake’s opinions of him, but has frustrated the hopes and desires of thousands of Berkeley progressives who have supported the mayor in the past, but who now want and need Kriss Worthington’s progressive leadership in the state Legislature. One can only assume that the motivation behind the mayor’s support of an opposition candidate is the fact that Kriss Worthington has consistently opposed the Mayor when the latter has attempted to betray the progressive movement in Berkeley. 

As one who played a small part in the formation of that movement and desires to see it succeed, I enthusiastically support Kriss Worthington’s candidacy for the 14th Assembly district position and urge all Berkeley and district progressives to do the same. 

Ken Meade 

Addendum 1: The term “progressive” as used extensively throughout this letter is intended by the author to mean one who supports or defends the greater public interest against the ambitions of those who comprise the concentrations of wealth and power in our community. 

Addendum 2: No one associated with the Kriss Worthington campaign has urged me to write this article, nor have I been an active participant in that campaign. The ideas expressed herein are entirely my own for which I am entirely responsible. 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

I am disturbed by the claim which has been made repeatedly by Friends of BRT that the proposed Rapid Bus Plus alternative is a smokescreen. There is no “smoke” in this proposal which is attempting to obscure the fact that this is a plan which attempts to create a workable alternative to lane removal on Telegraph, and welcomes collaboration from local planners. The contention, rather, is that whereas BRT may be appropriate for large metropolitan corridors with six-plus throughlanes and redundant parallel arteries nearby, that it is not appropriate for Telegraph which has only four throughlanes and which lacks nearby parallel redundancies. Furthermore, it is a plan which proposes that the same mode shift and emission reduction targets can be realistically achieved or exceeded with an alternate that does not create the significant congestion impacts that lane removal threatens in Berkeley and in the Oakland Telegraph area, impacts that many many Berkeley and Oakland residents reasonably believe are essentially non-mitigatable. 

Joseph Stubbs 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Nice letter (“Bike Safety: Liberal Hot Button Issue,” by H. Scott Prosterman, May 15), but may I add a safety tip? Bicyclists need to heed stop signs just as autos are supposed to. How many times have cyclists sailed through intersections and looked at you with the look like they are in the right. Also, just because you are on a “Bicycle Boulevard” doesn’t mean that cyclists can disobey the laws. Some days I feel like I will have a daredevil cyclist on the hood of my car and I will be the bad guy because I am the driver. 

My son bicycles and I share the road. I get it. That is somebody’s loved one out there, but when they don’t obey traffic laws, they are taking their lives in their hands. I get angry when they put my safety and their own at risk. 

Helmets are nice, but when you are flying down Spruce Street and don’t stop at a stop sign, I don’t know what good they will do you. 

Don’t just enforce helmet laws, enforce all traffic laws as they apply to bicyclists and autos. 

Just another point (or question), will the “hands free” cell phone laws apply to bicyclists? 

Julie Dempster 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

This is to thank Joyce Roy for her letter to the editor on May 15 regarding AC Transit. I couldn’t agree more. San Francisco recently purchased Hybrid Electric buses made by Daimler-Chrysler. The buses are 40-foot, not 60-foot. 

Here is some information about those buses, which can also be found on the Muni website: 

The Muni hybrid buses are essentially electric buses just like Muni’s electric trolley buses. Rather than get their electricity from overhead wires, they use a small diesel engine (5.9 liter Cummins ISB found in pick-up trucks) to turn a generator that, together with traction batteries, supply the necessary electrical energy to move the bus through the streets of San Francisco. Muni’s hybrid buses are “series hybrids” meaning there is no mechanical connection between the engine and wheels: The engine turns a generator that produces electricity to power drive motors that propel the electric bus (note that “parallel” hybrid bus, more similar to a Toyota Prius, uses a blend of mechanical and electrical power to accelerate, rather than just electricity). The drive control system on Muni’s series hybrids operates the diesel engine at its optimum emission and fuel economy settings. Traction batteries supply energy for acceleration, hill climbing, and other peak load conditions. This reduces the diesel engine speed (rpm) fluctuations and helps minimize engine emissions and increasing fuel economy. A hybrid bus can also recover and store braking energy. During vehicle deceleration, the control system changes the traction motor into a generator. The traction motor/generator is then used to help slow the vehicle as the traction motor/generator stores braking energy in the traction batteries. This increases the vehicle’s fuel economy and brake life. Other major transit agencies including New York City, Boston, Washington D.C., Toronto, and Seattle have adopted hybrid bus technology within their respective public transportation systems. 

The Muni hybrid buses, made by Daimler-Chrysler, cost roughly $500,000 (approximately $150,000 more than a conventional diesel bus). This Hybrid bus also gets 30 percent better fuel economy than a standard diesel bus. 

To quote Joyce in her article: There is a used bus market. And it should be easy to sell them for a good price because the board president, Chris Peeples, has declared them “the best buses in the world.” 

Chris Peeples apparently doesn’t spend a lot of time riding buses. In my opinion, the rattletrap, uncomfortable, badly designed, cheaply designed Van Hool buses are the worst buses of any age I have ridden on. 

Ian Griffith 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I must be one of a select few to have been asked to participate in two of Berkeley’s City Council’s marketing surveys about “what’s the most popular way to market” tax increases. And “which are the most dire consequences we can use the scare the voters.” 

Am I the only one in this city who finds these surveys offensive? As well as the fact that my tax dollars were used to pay for them? 

Am I the only who expects my City Council to determine what the dollar needs of the city are and then stand up before the voters, without artifice, and explain to me why the dollars are necessary?  

As a 30-year citizen of Berkeley, am I the only one who remembers all of the claims of the dire results that will occur if this next tax increase is not passed? How many library initiatives, firehouse initiatives, schools initiatives, etc. will there be to save Berkeley from these horrible consequences? 

I for one am one of the Berkeley taxpayers who demands to see a plan put before the voters about how Berkeley government can be streamlined, made efficient, and about how off-the-chart labor and benefit expenses can be brought under control. 

This is my prerequisite before I will consider any tax increase. 

David Sudikoff 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

In response to the article by Angela Rowen on May 22 “Lawsuit Seeks Halt in Planned Cuts to Medi-Cal,” I am very pleased to learn of this lawsuit protesting the 10 percent cuts in Medi-Cal, and I hope it is successful. 

My daughter is severely handicapped and depends on SSI and Medi-Cal. Already the reimbursement rate to doctors who take Medi-Cal is extremely low, and I fear decreasing it even more will mean that my daughter won’t be able to find a doctor generous enough to treat her for such a low fee. 

What I don’t understand is why the governor and legislators are so loathe to increase taxes. It seems the obvious solution to me. I would be happy to pay more taxes so that my daughter and others could get proper medical care. I also want school children to have music and art teachers and after-school recreation programs; I want our libraries, fire and police departments to be fully staffed; I want more and safer bicycle lanes; I would like more public transportation. And I’m willing to help pay for them through taxes! Isn’t this part of what being a good citizen is all about? 

Kathleen Whitney 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

I am sick and tired reading about how bad Willard is. Riya Bhattacharjee has never had anything good to say about us. Instead of investigating the reality here at Willard, she just rehashes old news about our ex-vice principal and reports on faulty data. Had she spoken with our principal like any reporter worth their weight would do, she would have a more balanced report. But as with the other articles she has written about us, Riya again just publishes inaccuracies. 

I have been teaching here for nine years and have seen Willard go from a rough school to a diamond in the rough. Report on our increased API scores last year (biggest gain of all middle schools), report on the fact that in a school survey completed by students and parents, 92 percent felt that Willard is a safe place, report about the fact that we were the only middle school to reach our participation percentages on the standardized testing last year, report on the fact that we don’t hide any data about our school—we are an open book and we have nothing to hide. We know we are good, I just wish those who report about us do their job better and stop bashing Willard. 

Sharon Arthur 

6th grade teacher 


EDITOR’S NOTE: This letter is answered by the Executive Editor online in the “Editor’s Back Fence” column at 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I really appreciate your “Editor’s Back Fence” experiment on your website and can see its validity. It gives the Planet a forum to set the record straight. Your staff does a lot of work in putting together each story and that first letter regarding Willard School demonstrates that. 

So instead of letting an insipid letter go unchallenged, you made your points—points well earned with a lot of reporting time, sweat and effort. 

And your point about the Sunshine Ordinance being expanded to the public schools is an excellent one—though one which could never happen. If the schools were actually held accountable, and the public knew more about went on behind the scenes, they wouldn’t fund them. So it’s in the schools’ best interest to stonewall—just like Willard School does so ably. 

Keep up the good work. We’re lucky to have such an excellent local independent publication in an era of media mediocrity. 

Richard Fabry 

Point Richmond 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

On April 24, two busloads of Berkeley parents went on a road trip to Sacramento. Our destination: a rally at the Capitol Building, where we joined parents and students from all over California: Riverside, San Diego, San Mateo, Fremont, Davis, Alameda... we all joined together to call our legislators to “flunk the budget, not our kids.” It was here that we learned that, in the midst of our huge budget deficit, all of the Senate and Assembly Republicans but one (Roger Niello) have signed a pledge that they would never, Never, never agree to raise any taxes. Well, we have a Pledge of Our Own —to invest in our kids and our future.  

As you know, our governor has proposed a budget which lops $4.8 billion dollars off of the public education budget. Since our state (which, by the way, is the seventh richest entity in the entire world) already allots $2,000 less per pupil per year for public education than the national average, and ranks 46th in educational spending nationwide, this is a very low blow indeed. (Please pause here and remind yourself that there are only 50 states in our nation.) This will mean a loss of $700 per pupil. Last time I checked, we were already struggling pretty hard to make do with what little we have.  

By now, most of us have received an “economic stimulus” payment from the federal government, and it is substantial. President Bush thinks we should spend it all on consumer goods to stimulate the economy. What kind of long-term gain will a flat screen television (made abroad) bring us, do you think? If we really want to invest in our future, what do you think would be the wisest investment? I am banking on our kids. After you have addressed any pressing financial needs, won’t you please join me in pledging to give as much of the rest as possible to your school’s PTA so that they can fill the funding gaps our schools face everyday? With $700 less per pupil, the PTA will be picking up more of the tab than ever for the essentials which battle the achievement gap and make kids want to go to school; classroom aides, supplies, teacher training, library books, art, music, sports, and field trips. Since it’s run by volunteers, the PTA doesn’t waste any money on administrative salaries or overhead. And, by the way—it’s tax deductible! 

Christine Staples 



Editors, Daily Planet: 

Oh, the irony! In his letter to the Planet (May 22-28 issue) Steve Geller cites BRT opponents as the source of “Berkeley silliness” stories. I have never read anything sillier than the draft EIR for this boondoggle of a project. AC Transit proposes to spend $400 million and 17 years on a project that is projected to increase transit use by 4,600 riders per day. Think of what the national press could do with this if BRT were to be built. Do the “bridge to nowhere” and the “$400 toilet seat” ring a bell? 

It appears to me that BRT proponents never read past the title page of the draft EIR. They saw the word “bus” and immediately some sort of “green” light went on in their brains and they didn’t look further. All they have to do is turn the page and read the one-page abstract of the DEIR to understand the magnitude of this folly. 

Jim Bullock 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

For the sake of the future I make effort to not drive anymore. And for the most part, my life has improved a lot. But I want to know that you are trying too. For instance, do you know which bus lines run near your home? Before you jump in your car, do you think; Do I have to drive today? Can I take the bus? Carpool? Ride a bike? walk? Can a friend pick something up for me? Do I really need to go? Changing our lifestyle patterns can be interesting and helpful. Maybe you have time to read on the BART. People-watching can replace your CD player for entertainment. Leaving your car at home is probably the most relevant act you can do today to help the earth. And any money you give to the public transit system is a real contribution to the environment. Try it! 

Douglas Foster 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Would it be election week if your mailbox (and newspaper) wasn’t fat with desperate pleas from politicos? 

Here’s another one. Kriss Worthington is being outspent (almost 3 to 1) by Nancy Skinner, so little of that clutter is from him. Wilma Chan is closer to Loni Hancock in spending, but still well behind. (Skinner and Hancock will have spent well over $1 million between them, a record for the two seats.) 

Just because you see a flood of mailings from other candidates doesn’t mean Kriss won’t win this election. That’s exactly why Skinner is putting pieces out at an accelerated pace: she’s worried. 

Do not despair; be sure to vote; there’s still time to show up and work for effective, progressive candidates and save us from another decade of a machine that wears progressive coloring but is founded on serving the powerful. Kriss’s office: 849-1346; Wilma: 464-1077. Once more unto the breach! 

Dave Blake 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

EBMUD wants us to curtail our wasteful water practices. OK, I have no problem with our low-flow shower nozzle, our low-volume toilet or our front-loading washing machine. There is absolutely no point in needlessly wasting water. However, I wish the same water use reductions could be imposed on the real water wasters in California. 

The wasteful ways of EBMUD customers are just “a drop in the bucket” compared to the state’s major water gluttons. Agri-business uses 80 percent of all water in the state. These giant agricultural enterprises waste water on a monumental scale. If they were required to make the same percentage cuts in their water use as EBMUD customers, the amount saved would be equivalent to all the water used by every household in the state. Now that would be saving water! 

Why aren’t stiff water restrictions imposed on these giant corporate water wasters? As usual, it’s all about money, power and politics. Only 10 percent of the very largest corporate farmers in the Central Valley use about 70 percent of the water. These powerful corporate farmers, like Southern Pacific, receive outrageous government water subsidies that keep their water so cheap and plentiful they think nothing of wasting it. 

These wealthy agro-estates pay about 2 percent of what EMUD customers pay for water. In 2002, an Environmental Working Group study found that just twenty-seven corporate farms received water subsidies worth $1 million or more. Year after year, the total value of these water subsidies has hovered at around $400 million. Citizens can’t help feeling cynical and angry when government subsidizes corporate farmers to waste gallons of water for every drop we save. 

Craig Collins 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

Thanks to Dave Blake for exposing Nancy Skinner’s anti-union stance before the Berkeley City Council. In his support of Kriss Worthington, however, he failed to mention Tony Thurmond, also running for the 14th state Assembly seat vacated by Loni Hancock. Tony is a Richmond resident and community organizer, with a particular focus on at-risk youth. He currently sits on the Richmond City Council, and is endorsed by Representative George Miller. As an African-American and Richmond resident he would add needed diversity to the State Assembly. 

Tony is committed to the usual progressive causes: single payer health care (Sheila Kuehl’s SB 840), a healthy environment, jobs and education. He also has a depth of character and a cheerful but unintimidated attitude towards the powers that makes you want to pitch in and help. I hope the readers of the Daily Planet check out his campaign at 

Debbie Bayer 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

You may think you are safe from being sprayed by crop dusters because your city has passed a resolution opposing the spray. Don’t kid yourself. 

Regarding the plans of the California Department of Agriculture (CDFA) to spray your homes, schools, businesses, and yards with pesticides, your message to your city and/or county needs to be this: sue or we will be sprayed. 

Your city has passed a resolution opposing spraying until an environmental impact report (EIR) has been completed. Don’t expect the CDFA to pay any attention to that resolution. 

In Santa Cruz and Monterey counties, the CDFA paid no attention to resolutions, spraying in the fall. Finally, when court decisions in both counties ordered the CDFA to complete the EIR before spraying again, CDFA paid attention for those counties. 

Will the CDFA pay any attention to resolutions in the San Francisco Bay Area? No. Expect planes to start spraying you Aug. 17. And there is no reason to spray because the judges in both Santa Cruz and Monterey said there is no emergency and therefore no reason to exempt the CDFA from the EIR. 

Will a lawsuit actually stop the CDFA this August? It may be too late. However, if you want a chance to avoid being sprayed, you must urge your public officials to—as soon as possible—sue or we will be sprayed. 

Dick André 

California Alliance to Stop the Spray 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

The Albany City Council is considering a major project which, if approved, will affect residents and city finances for years to come, and which will forever change the habitability and financial viability of the city. This is a unique opportunity to enhance city revenues and provide ongoing financial support for city services as well as a steady funding source for Albany schools. The project in question is the so-called Whole Foods development on San Pablo Avenue at Monroe Street. 

The proposed project is on land owned by the University of California. It is the intent of the university to lease this property to a grocery store operator on one portion of the development and to build what is described as assisted living units on the north side of Monroe Street and lease this to a separate entity. Whether this is the best use for this property or not is open to debate, what is certain is that the property will still be owned by the state of California and as such, will be exempt from paying property taxes. There will be little sales tax generated, since food is not taxed. There will be no transfer tax revenue generated by the residential portion either. Other than increased traffic congestion, noise and pollution, there is little, if any, benefit for Albany or its over-taxed citizens. There is no property tax benefit for our struggling schools. 

The family housing at Albany Village provides our schools with gifted students who live in dwellings that do not pay property taxes. The new development would be more beneficial to Albany if the land upon which it stands is sold as surplus property by the university and put on the county tax rolls. It would then contribute directly to vital city services and provide much needed revenue to support and improve our schools 

The prudent course for the city of Albany to take would be to change the zoning for this parcel to allow development, but only after this land is converted to private property. In a different approach to eminent domain we seem to be allowing private development on public property. In a democratic society, this should be put to the vote of the community. 

Dennis Foster 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

Our “Rapid Bus Plus” proposal invited constructive comments from everyone who seeks better bus service. But apologists for AC Transit’s rival Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) plan instead attacked our plan in their May 22 letters, using arguments that don’t hold up. 

Alan Tobey asked whether Rapid Bus Plus is as well-established as BRT. Actually, its components are much more broadly implemented than BRT’s. 

In Los Angeles County alone, there are some 21 Rapid Bus lines—eight rolled out in just the last year. But there is only one BRT line, which has been popular but collision-prone. 

Alan asked whether Rapid Bus Plus would be better for mobility-impaired or elderly passengers. Absolutely: unlike AC Transit, we would maintain “local” bus service on this corridor—meaning shorter walks to the nearest stop. 

We would also replace AC Transit’s notoriously inaccessible, and rough-riding, Van Hool buses with state-of-the-art Orion hybrids. These genuinely “low-floor” buses have floor-mounted seats for easy access. And their hybrid powertrains offer smooth acceleration, with much less diesel pollution. 

Alan also asked where bus-only lanes have harmed businesses. In the extreme form of a “transit mall,” they nearly destroyed Chicago’s State Street, Philadelphia’s Chestnut Street, and main commercial streets in other cities. People won’t shop where they can’t park. 

Finally, Jacob Berman and April Mitchell (relying on a second-hand account) criticize San Francisco’s N-Judah streetcar line, which we’d described as approximating “Rapid Bus Plus on rails.” Ironically, not long ago, “Friends of BRT” were touting the N-Judah as a model for BRT. 

As a former Sunset District resident and daily N-Judah commuter, I can tell you this: It runs through the Sunset at a nice clip, in a shared lane that is also available to cars. Its real bottlenecks are UCSF (lots of people on- and off-boarding), turns (delays for signals, pedestrians, and cross-traffic), and extended stalls while queueing to enter the “Muni Metro” tunnel. 

Rapid Bus Plus gathers worldwide transit “best practices” into what may be a new overall package. But we make no apologies for thinking outside the bus for this proposal. Had the city of Curitiba, Brazil, not looked beyond existing transit models in the 1970s, it would never have invented BRT. 

We challenge everyone to move beyond passively defending AC Transit’s BRT tunnel vision. On the Telegraph/BART corridor, BRT threatens more detriments than benefits. There is a place for everything, and this is the wrong place for BRT. 

Michael Katz 

Member, Berkeleyans for  

Better Transit Options (BBTOP) 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Like many individuals, my focus had been on the national primaries. Thank goodness I turned my focus back on the local June 3 primary or I would have missed the opportunity to meet and support Richmond City Councilmember Tony Thurmond for state Assembly. 

To put it simply, Tony is a breath of fresh air. Candidates talk about what they want to do or what they hope to do, how refreshing to meet one who is already doing something to make real change in the community he lives and works in every day. This experience in real world, on the ground problem solving is what makes him unique among all of the other candidates. I could go on and on about his work with gang violence, creation of green jobs, battles with Chevron, education training programs, and his 15 years of social work, but I won’t because words cannot convey my admiration for this young man. 

His Berkeley opponents may be fine people, but having been a resident of Berkeley for 28 years, I’ve grown increasingly frustrated with the musical chairs our council people have played with the local elected seats. Their self-indulgent governing has been a disservice to Berkeley residents and the surrounding communities. It’s time for Berkeley to let go of this Assembly seat for the good of the entire Assembly district. 

Tony Thurmond is the only candidate who can effectively represent the entire 14th Assembly District. His dedication, energy and intelligence will make him a formidable advocate in Sacramento. I am proud and honored to know and support Tony Thurmond. 

Mary Nicely 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

As I sat watching a movie on TV with subtitles for the “hearing impaired,” it occurred to me that there are no accompanying narrations for the “visually impaired.” If I were blind, and I’m not, it still seems grossly unfair to me. And, if narration were programmed in, it might put unemployed English majors like me to work. We would give anything to be able to be paid to translate the visual into the narrative! For once, English majors might have, finally, a legitimate place in society other than reproducing English majors.  

Robert Blau 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

As true today as it was then! Henry David Thoreau regarded the war with Mexico (then in progress) as an expedition to seize land, and in protest he refused to pay his poll-tax. For this he was jailed. Ralph Waldo Emerson asked his young friend: “What are you doing in there?” Thoreau’s famous reply: “What are you doing out there?” 

President Bush has two wars going and another one online. Seventy percent of Americans say they are against these unprovoked wars; so where’s the protest? 

Ron Lowe  

Grass Valley 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Uh-oh. It’s been eight years, and no one has fixed the Electoral College problem with our presidential elections. Naturally, the Republican Congress didn’t try to fix the problem for six years, but now we have a Democratic-majority Congress that hasn’t bothered to fix the problem either.  

The problem, of course, is that the Electoral College system enables the candidate with fewer votes than his opponent to take office. Under the current system, a million and one more California citizens could vote for the Democratic candidate than the Republican and it wouldn’t affect the outcome any more than if the Democrat won by just one vote. One million votes would be discounted. In Wyoming, voters’ ballots count four times as much as California’s.  

During the last eight years, this problem has cost us $3 trillion dollars, nearly 5,000 lives, and over 40,000 severe injuries, plus the loss of our country’s reputation as the best in the world.  

It’s a disgrace that our country, self-proclaimed beacon of democracy, does not elect its president on a one-person-one-vote basis.  

The Electoral College should be fixed or removed. We need to turn the United States of America into a democratic republic.  

Bruce Joffe 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

The College Internship Program here in Berkeley will be wrapping up its first school year. For those who don’t know, CIP is a social skills training program for young adults with Asperger’s Syndrome; as well the organization helps put people in college or job settings. The catch is its only open to those who can afford over $37,000 a semester.  

There are youth on the street who have Asperger’s, and the syndrome is the only thing keeping them on the street. Imagine the social impact that would occur if organizations with deep pockets, and their friends with deep pockets, reached out to the less fortunate young men and women who have the drive to work, or study, but are just blocked by Asperger’s or other such relatively simple hindrances. 

Treating poverty has to be done in a modern way, rather than just enacting anti-loitering, anti-smoking, anti-this-and-that ordinances to sweep young people away, and hide the problem of impoverished youth. Many young adults want to achieve a college degree, or get a job. Helping to make those goals a reality is far better than issuing out citation after citation after citation. 

Instead of looking down upon the young men and women who sit on the street or in the park, look down at us (with a smile). Look at the talented artists, musicians, writers, story tellers and et cetera. Take to the time to talk to us, ask us what are dreams are. Then those with means have to make the decision if they want to make more ordinances or actually help us accomplish those dreams. 

Also on the same subject: The state of California does not require ASD training, but it is imperative that the Berkeley Police