Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

Thursday June 05, 2008 - 10:06:00 AM


Editors, Daily Planet: 

I read with interest the Berkeley High athletic scams reported in Oakland and Kensington. I have noticed several young teenagers milling along Shattuck Avenue near the Berkeley Bowl soliciting donations for the Berkeley YMCA. Suspecting that a scam was in play, I asked one young man where the Berkeley YMCA was located. He promptly replied that it was at 56th Street and Shattuck. Being a resident of North Oakland and a member of the Berkeley YMCA, I immediately realized that the address was in North Oakland and that I was in fact being scammed. I asked the young man why on earth would the Berkeley YMCA be in Oakland, but was met with grim silence. Upon looking down on his wrinkled paperwork, I noticed his solicitation forms had been copied so many times that they were quite blurry—evidence that the tools of this scam have been passed on from person to person. Several weeks later while in Rockridge, I noticed the same group of teenagers perpetuating their scam on more innocent victims. Yet a week later, I noticed them again at the Berkeley Bowl. Fed up with their shenanigans, I gave them the option of immediately leaving or speaking with a Berkeley police officer. They left in quite a mood and promptly began cursing at me as they pedaled into South Berkeley. If you see these varmints roving around Berkeley or Oakland, remember that the vast majority of legitimate organizations do not send children/young teenagers out to collect donations unless they are accompanied by an adult and have registered with the city. Don’t let yourself be victimized. This scam is just another form of panhandling. 

Jeffrey Jensen 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Is it only me? Page 11 or your much-appreciated print edition is a destination reminiscent of the 13th floor of the Hilton: I just can’t get there! Forty inches of J.DA-T, with the inevitable “remains to be seen” hook, stands in stark contrast to your team’s many serious efforts at news and opinion—a figurative barbershop amid a small town mall for the mind. Weekly, I am delighted at the opportunity to cultivate an appreciation for the perpetually underpowered “UnderCurrents” column. Weekly. And not unlike Sisyphus. 

Lured again Thursday, hopeful for a perspective on the local struggle for safe neighborhoods and sane neighbors, albeit tempered by election-year finger-pointing and modest multi-level marketing propositions from a self-serving city hall, I was neither prepared for a treatise on the number “803” nor an encore of the previous week’s hit “50.” Fine vehicles they may be, but surely now better served by a graphic or a few choice bullet points, no? And, hmm, when will Allen-Taylor cease tagging the weaker artistry of Chip and Phil? Inquiring minds want to know. 

But imagine my frustration, teased mid-column by references to Measure Y street-level intervention, community-based re-entry, youthful diversion, and mayhem prevention programs—“solid, and defensible” he smoothly opined—to find the pathetic escape, “needs some time to jell.” This, after a full week of local headlines about one of Mayor Dellums’ test cases: a recent homicide long employed City-side and oft-diverted from criminal prosecution? Oh, Jesse, you leave me so unsatisfied! 

Jay Tharp 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

In “South Berkeley Cell Antenna Dispute” ( May 29) Michael Barglow writes that “In many cities, high wattage antennas which face directly into lower income neighborhoods often serve high income neighborhoods much further away.” This dynamic is playing itself out right now in Kensington, where wealthy and politically connected residents have mobilized dramatically to block an antenna proposed above Colusa Circle. 

I urge city and county planners to step into the role of antenna planning, defining multiple sites based on objective criteria (such as equity, height, aesthetics, coverage, and distance from occupied building floors). These sites then need to become veto-proof, so that politically savvy neighborhoods can’t shift the burden. As Mr. Barglow states, having many smaller tower sites reduces the peak radio power needed to provide vitally beneficial cellular services. Excellent antenna sites, like the unoccupied top floors of a storage building, mausoleum, or utility building should be identified and cataloged. 

Every cell phone user should be willing to accept some of the burden providing cell service requires. Antennas must be close to cell phone users. And only governments can effectively ensure the burden is shared. 

Bryce Nesbitt 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

I’m tired of spotty cell phone service in Berkeley. I understand people are complaining that cell phone towers are disproportionately placed in poor areas. I live in North Berkeley, in the hills. If any major cell provider would like to erect a tower on my house, please let me know. 

Russ Mitchell  





Editors, Daily Planet: 

I am sending this letter to let the people in North Berkeley know that there are plans to install so many cell phone antennas in Gourmet Ghetto and vicinity. There are already three antennas on the roof of Barney’s Restaurant at 1600 Shattuck disguised as chimneys. They are operating for more than three years. Four antennas were installed recently on the roof of the building at 2095 Rose St. (at Shattuck). They are across from the Jewish Community Center. 

There are plans to put 12 antennas on the French Hotel and eight with seven pieces of related equipment on the roof of the building at 1625 Shattuck, next to the parking lot of Elephant Pharmacy. So, within three to four blocks in North Berkeley, there will be a concentration of 27 seven antennas and many corresponding equipments. This is too many for such a small area. As many in Berkeley argue now: (a) there should be a moratorium on the installation of wireless facilities till a workable ordinance is put together; (b) antennas should be spread evenly in all neighborhoods. 

Mina Davenport 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

This Tuesday, the first item on the City Council agenda will be a discussion of a cell phone antenna moratorium for the city. Last year the council, contradicting the position of its zoning board, voted to allow five typical low wattage (200 watts) and six very high wattage (1,200 and 1,400 watts) antennas to face homes close to South Shattuck’s UC Storage. In total, the antennas on three sides of the building will emit 9,000 watts of radio frequency radiation directly into neighborhood homes. Of this total, 3,600 watts of this radiation will solely be used for data transmission and have nothing to do with cell antennas conversations and nothing to do with emergencies. 

Until this last month, after the city had hired an independent radiation measurement specialist, no one on the council, nor any other citizen, had been informed of the magnitude nor the exact purpose of these antennas. 

The unpleasant RF radiation burden of cell antennas should be shared more equally and wisely by all our citizens. Cell antennas can be much lower in wattage if they are dispersed more evenly. 

You can help our cause greatly by attending the next City Council meeting, Tuesday, June 10, 7 p.m. at 2134 Martin Luther King, Jr. Way. To support our political and legal fight, please call 526-5075, 849-4014 or e-mail 

Michael Barglow 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Nobody should be fooled by Doug Buckwald’s latest attempt attempt to torture the facts. Mr. Buckwald thinks the tree-spassers are “a visible example of the concern that many in our community feel about the fate of this special natural place.” This ignores two undeniable facts. First, a handful of noisy hippies does not comprise “many” in our community. Second, the oak grove is an artificial creation of the university—not nature—as the trees were planted when Memorial Stadium was built. 

Next, Mr. Buckwald claims that the judge issued a preliminary injunction because she believed that the leftist Armada (including the turncoat mayor) was “likely to prevail in a hearing.” Not true. The standard is a “likelihood”—not “likely.” Given the fact that the “harm” sought to be prevented could not be undone absent the issuance of an injunction, I was not surprised to see Judge Miller issue the injunction. I would, however, be quite surprised to see her rule in the extortionists’ favor. 

Mr. Buckwald further exposes his ignorance of the law by arguing that “it is long past time for the university to agree to obey our city laws.” Why? A city is, by definition, subordinate to the state. Under Mr. Buckwald’s view of the law, the City of Topeka’s policy of separate but equal would have trumped federal law. Of course, zealots usually ignore the hypocrisy of their positions so I can’t say I’m surprised. The City of Berkeley has no authority to regulate the State of California. Case closed. 

Finally, Mr. Buckwald calls the trees a “special urban woodland.” Once again I have to wonder whether this self-proclaimed Cal fan has ever been to Memorial Stadium. This isn’t Muir Woods—we’re talking about a handful of trees lining a street. As for it being an “irreplaceable natural resource for the entire city,” I suspect the university’s plan to plant three trees for every one that is removed will create a better and equally natural make-believe “forest” for people to ignore in the future. And as for the “good of our children,” I guess that “our” doesn’t include the parents of our athletes who are forced to use seismically unsafe facilities because curmudgeons like Doug Buckwald and Tom Bates continue to use the courts in their dastardly attempt to thwart progress at Cal. To paraphrase one of Berkeley’s favorite presidents: Mr. Buckwald, cut down those trees! 

Jeff Ogar 




Editors, Daily Planet:  

I found Dr. Phil Polakoff an interesting candidate for the state Assembly. He seemed to stand for many ideas I supported. That was until I received a five-inch long, 1.5-inch diameter tube of clear plastic in my mail box. Inside was a 5 x 4 inch card asking me to vote for Dr. Phil Polakoff. The card also asked me to recycle this matter. 

First of all the plastic has no symbol for recycling on it. Also, even if it did most plastics of this type are not recyclable. Second and most important, how could any person who issued a statement to better the environment send something so environmentally unfriendly? 

After this Dr. Phil Polakoff will not receive my support. I don’t believe his statements about supporting the environment. Even if he didn’t send them personally, he needs to take responisiblity for what gets sent out with his name on it. I was shocked that any candidate would send out anything like this in this day and age and in the bay area. 

I personally do my best to reuse, recycle and reduce my foot print. I work hard to make sure that I use the resources available such as e-waste drop-offs, hazardous materials disposal places, thrift stores, prescription drug drop-off sites, freecycle networks, etc., to get rid of items I can no longer use. I feel it is part of being a responsible part of this planet. 

I think it is time that candidates not only talk the talk they walk the walk. That they think about what they are doing and not just what they think people want to hear. 

Maybe the candidate could give some ideas of how to responsibly deal with these tubes. 

Martha Scheer 




Editors, Daily Planet:  

You’ve got to hand it to the governor: Just as the public began calling for raising personal and corporate income taxes to close the budget gap, Schwarzenegger came up with a truly madcap scheme instead. If he has his way, Wall Street will loan us $15 billion to expand the state lottery. The increased profits, if they materialize, will go into the general fund and into the pockets of our Wall Street saviors. As usual, the rich get richer, and the poor get poorer with every lottery ticket they buy.  

There are dozens of fair and sensible ways of closing the $17 billion budget shortfall. Here are three: First, impose an oil severance tax on the production of crude oil. We’re the only oil-producing state that doesn’t do so and, at the modest rate of 6 percent (compared to 12 percent in Alaska and Louisiana), such a tax would generate a billion dollars in new revenue. As crude oil prices continue to soar in the years ahead, the state will reap even an even bigger windfall.  

ExxonMobil posted the highest profits in industry history last year to the tune of $40.6 billion, roughly the same as the gross domestic product for Serbia. I think this company and its peers can spare a bit of their loot without suffering too terribly. 

Next, legislators should raise the current 9.3 percent tax rate on the richest one percent of taxpayers (couples with joint incomes above $544,460 a year) to 11 percent and increase the rate on joint filers earning more than $272,230 to 10 percent. This adjustment would generate $5.3 billion in new revenue the first year and $4 billion in subsequent years, according to the California Tax Reform Association. Assemblywoman Loni Hancock has introduced a bill (AB 2987) that would do just that, generating in one fell swoop three times the revenue of the state lottery. 

Finally, if we really want to free up some cash, we can cancel the $15 billion prison expansion bill passed last year. On the other hand, if we keep cutting social services and education programs, we’ll need those 53,000 new prison beds to warehouse all the poorly educated, unemployed folks who resort to crime and substance abuse to cope with their position on the margins of society.  

There are plenty of ways to shore up the budget. If only we had a governor with the courage to make the rich and powerful pay their share instead of pretending that California can gamble its way to fiscal security. 

Erica Etelson 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I want to commend the teenagers and two teachers on the 88 bus today, May 30. They were going from a school on Alcatraz Avenue to St. Joseph the Worker to do community service and help clean it up. I’m writing this because there are so many negative things said and thought about that age of young adults. To my and other passengers delight they were respectful and relatively quiet on the bus. There were 35-40 kids and two teachers. I thought, oh no, when I first saw them get on, but by the end of the trip my spirits were lifted up. One boy helped an elderly woman when she got off! 

Please print this so they might see it. I had a happy day because of them and their teachers. 

Ellen Levin 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

I cannot possibly be the only one to observe, day after day, the extent to which AC Transit has flooded some routes with numbers of buses, increasingly the massive articulated buses, often traveling in tandem, sometimes side-by-side on our major thoroughfares. I see these buses daily from my office on Telegraph Avenue and frequently try to count the number of passengers and often see totally empty buses following other totally empty buses. Comparatively few buses are even moderately full, even during so-called commute hours, and often empty or nearly so at mid-day, when demand is at its lowest level. Often these buses are traveling at higher speeds than necessary and have become an increased danger to bicyclists and pedestrians crossing the wider thoroughfares. 

Is there some conspiracy by AC Transit to make Berkeley residents so accustomed to this greatly increased bus traffic that the creation of special bus lanes will seem to be a relief? Why is it necessary to have such large buses? And where are the statistics to show that they are needed now, let alone in the future, even if there were reduced automobile lanes of traffic?  

It seems to me the entire BRT plan and the purchase of large numbers of super-sized buses is simply a case of needing to find a way to spend the grant monies being offered for mass transit programs. There must be better alternatives. 

I always thought AC Transit was a well-managed public transportation system. I am no longer convinced this is the case. 

Michael Yovino-Young 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

President Bush, at the Alpine height of hypocrisy, has abjured playing golf out of consideration for our dying and dead men and women in Iraq. This is Bush’s claim to empathy. Rumor hath it that Bush’s golf scores have been embarrassingly high lately. Need we say more? He kills two birdies with one stone. The record needs “putting” straight.  

Robert Blau 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

In reading Judith Scherr’s article (“LaRouchites Try for a Foothold in County,” May 30), I couldn’t help but be puzzled by the apparent inability of “local Democratic Party activists” to understand my own and fellow LaRouche organizers’ “attempted entry into the local party structure.” As the name of our Franklin Roosevelt Legacy campaign slate clearly indicates, and as we have repeatedly stated in campaign leaflets and at public events, we are seeking to restore the policies of FDR within the Democratic Party. This includes a revival of the historic grassroots coalition of “forgotten men” and women, farm and industrial labor, minorities—and youth. Each of us running have demonstrated this political commitment, through our campaign to stop the Recall of Gov. Davis; our persistent organizing from 2003-2007 for the impeachment of Dick Cheney; our successful mobilization to stop the privatization of Social Security; our role in organizing campus youth to deliver a Democratic landslide in the 2006 midterm elections; and our recent efforts to organize grassroots support for a proposed Homeowners and Bank Protection Act, to freeze foreclosures and reorganize the chartered banking system. 

Because these are national issues, we have been accused of not doing “the nuts and bolts work of building the party and supporting the candidates.” But just what exactly constitutes the “nuts and bolts” of the Democratic Party, if not to fight—at all levels—on the issues that define the livelihoods of the majority of our citizens? 

Perhaps more to the point of why this article was even written, is that the very policies named above are opposed by a corrupted Democratic leadership that has acted against the will of its own base, while serving powerful financial interests like investment bankers George Soros and Felix Rohatyn. It is a leadership—under the disastrous Nancy Pelosi—that has squashed the prospect of impeachment, and therefore any serious action to end the war policy of the current administration. It is a leadership responsible for near criminal negligence in failing to address the very economic survival of the population, as we face the worst foreclosure and banking crisis (compounded now by a worldwide food shortage) since the Great Depression. 

The Democratic Party will not survive unless it returns to the basic commitment embodied by FDR’s policies on behalf of the “forgotten man.” Those who see our candidacy as a threat—as “anxiety-provoking”—either fail to comprehend this basic fact, or do not share that commitment. 

Oyang Teng, Candidate, Alameda County Democratic Central Committee, 16th Assembly District,  

along with Ian Overton, Jon Stuart, Ramiro Bravo, John Craig and  

Ben Deniston 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

I hope Joann Conrad and the BCC Urban Anthropology Class have followed up their guerilla planting at Hearst and West by notifying Berkeley’s Department of Public Works of the planting, or better yet, asking the helpful neighbors to notify them. A friend of mine worked hard to plant and maintain an area of native plants at her child’s school only to come one day and find that a maintenance crew had mowed them down, thinking they were weeds. 

Otherwise, great story! 

Nancy Schimmel 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Aquatic Park is a lovely albeit noisy place, nestled between freeway and railroad tracks. There are actually three bodies of water. The main body is long and is home to waterfowl, rowers, water-skiers, walkers, runners, and the odd homeless person. The two “upper” ponds are smelly wrecks. What all three ponds need is fresh water and just down the (rail) road is a great source. 

EBMUD’s water treatment plant is situated about a mile south, between the railroad tracks and the southbound Nimitz (is it still called that?). It discharges, according to its website, 80 million gallons of treated wastewater into San Francisco Bay every day.  

Why not use that (waste) water for purposes of clarification and beautification? Why not extend a mile of pipe north to the southernmost pond? The water could be discharged into the pond using whatever pressure the plant can supply. From pond one, solar-powered pumps could discharge the water over or under the highway on-ramp to northbound 80 into pond number two. Another set of pumps could move the water into the large pond.  

I know there will be objections to treated wastewater. However, not too many people, water skiers excepted, expose themselves directly to the water in any of the ponds. If there are other objections, please feel free to state them (nicely, please!). 

Waterfalls don’t have to be expensive or fancy. They can be made of rough cement–the point is to have falling water, both to look at and to hear.  

I haven’t heard too much recently about the “Living Wall.” Maybe a beautification project with waterfalls could jump-start that issue again. Maybe we could also let the state build its version, then we could build our version right behind it. A sound wall for the freeway and a living wall for the lakeside. 

Aquatic Park needs work. We have the water resource to make it better. Maybe a nice financial agreement between EBMUD, the city of Berkeley, and the state of California could provide us with some relief to smelly, murky ponds, livening up an underused area. 

Jack Jackson 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I am disabled and have been using Paratransit for the past two years. In many ways it has been a God-send. For $3, I’m able to travel to anywhere in Berkeley or Oakland. Most of the drivers do their job well and are friendly and compassionate. 

My complaints are with management. The pay is too low and the scheduling often makes it impossible for drivers to be on time. It’s hard to be in San Leandro at 3 when your previous pick-up is at 2:45. 

Another serious criticism I have is that the best-conditioned and newest vans unfortunately do not go to the late shift drivers. One week, a driver had to bring back three vans because they malfunctioned. On too many occasions, vehicles have broken down at 12, one o’clock in the morning. At that time, everyone has gone home except the dispatchers. They’re not mechanics. They can’t fix transmissions or engines or anything else. So seriously disabled passengers are left in the lurch. One driver told me that all he could depend on when something went wrong was his wife. “Why would you give someone a good bus who’s coming on at 5 p.m. and has all the help in the world, when the person that’s gotta be out there ‘till 2 o’clock, gets a raggedy bus.” 

It seems a “no-brainer” to provide the late night drivers with the newest and best equipment, like such neighboring cities as Richmond and Hayward do. 

The supervisors of Paratransit have known about this serious problem since the beginning of the year. They have talked about getting new buses but so far nothing has been done. Saving money is a sad excuse for endangering the health, possibly lives of disabled passengers. 

It doesn’t make sense. 

Daniel Rudman 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

The 2007 calendar for Berkeley City Council meetings, updated July 5, 2007, indicates that the council’s plans were to meet for 23 evenings in that year. It appears that they took 14 weeks of recess or vacation time in 2007. That leaves 18 additional Tuesdays on which they could have met. In the name of sunshining City Council procedures, 18 more meetings would allow for a more respectful integration of public participation in the democratic process. 

Gene Bernardi, Jane Welford, Jim Fisher 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

Loni Hancock writes many great-sounding bills—thirty-two—but passes few—six. 

She gets great publicity for good bills she writes, but little follow-up on those that fail, those she pulls (ex: universities and their communities), and those she fumbles (ex: aerial spray). 

Merrilie Mitchell 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The picture of Berkeley High School Principal Jim Slemp cajoling his students to street action (and skip classes) made my jaw drop! This is the job of a principal? No wonder the academic scores are so absolutely miserable! 

We accept UC students demonstrating, as a right of passage to adulthood. But young teens have no judgment, and propagandizing them is despicable. We protect minors. We have laws against pedophilia. But what about “pedo-politicking?” Jim Slemp is unfit to lead children! 

This picture eerily recalls photos of Albert Speer striding to inspect his Hitler Youth, and Stalin his Young Pioneers, except that these two were better dressed! 

Juergen Hahn 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The Berkeley High statement protesting raids by the ICE against immigrant children—many of whom are enrolled at Berkeley High—took place a few minutes before lunch. Students were not required to attend though the vast majority chose to. This is an emotional issue for our students. A few weeks ago government agents arrested a Berkeley family—a former Berkeley High school family. Many of our immigrant students were terrified, many hiding in their classrooms fearful that agents would come on campus to take them away. 

The “ring around the school” was as much a statement to our own students as it was to the community at large. No government agents are allowed on campus. Learning is sacred at Berkeley High. In school our students are safe to study and flourish, and flourishing they are.  

Two weeks ago Newsweek Magazine published its annual list of the top 1,300 public high schools in the United States. The schools on the list represent the top 5 percent of U.S. schools. Berkeley was listed at number 278. They were ranked according to a ratio of the number of Advanced Placement, Intl. Baccalaureate and/or Cambridge tests taken by all students at a school in 2007 divided by the number of graduating seniors. (To see the complete list go to 

Berkeley High’s ranking is a significant achievement and credit goes to our students—across all ethnic lines—who pushed themselves to take hard classes, to our teachers who taught them, to the administration under the steadfast leadership of Jim Slemp that encourages higher level classes and, in no small part, to the community that generously supports our school.  

Janet Huseby 

Berkeley High Volunteer Coordinator 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I’m confused with Juergen Hahn’s letter to the editor regarding the BHS protests. Perhaps we read different articles because the story I saw implied the students “could have gone out to lunch if they wanted to, but they chose to stay back for this (protest)” and were not being cajoled to “skip classes” as Juergen Hahn suggests. While I think it’s safe to say there’s a general consensus that protecting minors is a desirable goal, to propose that they have “no judgment” only serves to infantilize them and characterize their moral reasoning ability as ineffectual. Do teenagers often make poor judgment calls? Absolutely. Does this then mean that they should abdicate their moral reasoning ability and be unable to voice their opinions; Absolutely not. We do protect high school students, and these protections extend to the protection of their first amendment rights. In any case, I could think of much worse things high school students could be doing than becoming involved in the issues of the day. 

Michael Moniz 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Berkeley’s aging neighborhood pools are now nearing the half-century mark, and the wrinkles are showing. The necessary major repairs and the improvements in energy use and purification systems require an infusion of funds over and above what is currently in the budget. The warm water pool is soon to be demolished. Its absence will be devastating to the disabled who need water therapy, the injured who require rehabilitation, the seniors whose arthritis is debilitating, and the infants and toddlers who need to learn a relationship with water that is safe. 

Berkeley’s swimming pools are maintained by the city’s dedicated and diligent Aquatics Staff. Because of their efforts, many of us maintain our health with lap swimming, masters’ classes and senior water aerobics. Middle school kids learn to swim in P. E. classes. Children of all ages learn to swim and play safely in the water. Some of them move on to join the Berkeley High swim team. 

A city with a shoreline needs facilities (pools) where kids (of all ages) can learn to swim and understand how to survive in water. We can prevent drownings. 

I urge the citizens of Berkeley and the City Council to place a bond measure on the November ballot, and to vote for that measure. The City of Berkeley needs to continue to provide pools for swimming and water therapy, as well as for water recreation. Even in economically troubled times, we all need to maintain our health, and kids need to learn to swim. Let’s provide funding for our pools. 

Sally Nelson 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

Two recent incidents of police violence against peaceful war protesters—one to a mother in front of the Berkeley Marine Recruitment Center and another injuring Code Pink founder Medea Benjamin at the Commonwealth Club—need to be addressed. Neither incident occurred after the protester had “crossed the line” so as to interfere with the rights of others: one was bending over a baby carriage, and Ms. Benjamin was yanked out of her chair and thrown out by an off duty police officer simply because he recognized her. Except for Code Pink and those families directly affected by the war, Americans are largely in a state of numbed silence, but let us not be so numb that we allow violence against those few who refuse to give up. 

Tom Miller 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The entire staff at Herrick Hospital is deeply concerned at the possibility that Kathleen Van Sandt, our full-time classroom teacher, may be moved. We are devastated by the letter of reassignment Kathleen has received from the Berkeley Unified School District. We wish for the school district to find an alternative solution. 

We are asking the Berkeley community to support us to this end. We are sending the Berkeley Unified School District a signed petition to urge a reversal of any decision to move Kathleen Van Sandt.  

We have listed a number of crucial points:  

• Kathleen has developed a comprehensive and engaging curriculum to support the hospitalized students served at Herrick. 

• Kathleen averages between 17 to 20 students daily. Students in day treatment and hospitalized students are able to continue their education. Independent study is offered as well. 

• A typical primary teacher in Berkeley has a top class size of 20 students.  

• Kathleen generates the same ADA (average daily attendance) monies that a K-3 teacher would generate.  

• The hospital census on the adolescent unit continues to fluctuate. However, our excellent physicians are actively seeking to increase the number of adolescent patients needing treatment.  

• Her personality and teaching style mesh remarkably well with the students and staff at Herrick. The students adore her. She brings multicultural awareness, scientific inquiry and Shakespearian language to our classroom. 

• The classroom has a long history of teachers with varying degrees of success. Kathleen has been the most successful. The classroom environment is enriched with technology, art and literature. 

• Herrick’s classroom has enjoyed a delightful renaissance since Kathleen’s arrival in 2005.  

Alta Bates-Summit is a major donor to the Berkeley Public Education Foundation. Herrick Hospital is a major community entity in Berkeley and supports the Berkeley Schools. We are asking for their support in return.  

We insist that Kathleen be permitted to remain in her present position at Herrick, until the hospital moves to Oakland in 2012. She is, in essence, irreplaceable. 

Please voice your opposition by contacting Bill Hyatt, the new Berkeley Unified School District superintendent at 644-6147 and/or Associate Superintendent of Educational Services Neil Smith at 644-6257. 

Contact Information for the BUSD Board of Directors: will send your message to all of the board. 

Voicemail: 644-6550. 

Bart Foley 

Mental Health Specialist 

Herrick Hospital 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Thanks for the nice commemoration of the old U-Save Market. Another thing to mention, of interest to curious students who know there’s no source of all-night groceries within the city of Berkeley, is that the U-Save was 24 hours. Circa 1967, a co-owner and I had one of the first lunch carts at Sather Gate (brown rice and vegetables, another whole story) and we did all our shopping at Tay’s Produce, a concession inside the store. The late “Uncle Tay” was a fine and friendly greengrocer who sold us everything we needed in the way of reasonably-priced vegetables for our cooking in the early morning hours to be ready for lunch at 11 a.m. While it’ll be good to have a TJ’s in Berkeley (perhaps ideally not in that location), much of the chain’s produce is wrapped and packaged; Tay’s legacy of fresh fruits and vegetables is carried forward by his relatives at the long-lived Monterey Market, Berkeley’s friendliest and most reasonable produce shop. 

Sandy Rothman 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

It was a little startling to read Matthew Lasar’s rant against the Daily Planet in last week’s edition. I always thought Berkeley was a place that valued dissent, not one that implored newspapers to censor criticism. I am a member of KPFA’s board and hopefully not one of those described as “wanting power and pandering,” but regardless, his point is not well-taken. 

KPFA’s premiums are pretty darned expensive, ranging from $60-$120. I understand why, costs are always going up, and financial times are tough. For those who can afford to subsidize a voice for the voiceless at that rate, four times a year, that’s wonderful. God bless you and keep it up. You’re making an important contribution. But we all know not everybody can afford it. Nor does everybody have a fast, powerful computer that can handle fat audio streams. So if you’re really trying to get voices out to places that don’t have a lot of resources, the FM band is important, as are CDs you can toss into any $25 boom box. 

So Phelp’s point about making timely (not three-year-old) material accessible via the radio band is reasonable. It deserves consideration. There’s nothing distorted or incendiary about it. 

Fundraising is always a challenge. How do you do it so it blends with your mission and doesn’t detract from it? It’s a tough question. No easy answers. 

But its very dispiriting to see genuine questions about how money is gotten, the digital divide and class in American society greeted with such defensiveness. And such begging the question. 

It contributes to an atmosphere of slinging op-eds when we need to do better than that in order to meet the challenges. I don’t want to see KPFA staff “forced” to author combative op-eds. I don’t think that’s their job. I think its their job to acknowledge fair criticism, and try to work out solutions. I think it’s the job of the Planet to provide a forum for points of view to be aired and rationally discussed. And its the job of the stations community to engage with hard questions and try to figure how we want our local, listener-sponsored media to interact with us: those of us with the resources and those of us without. So we can get the maximum bang for the buck out of the progressive media we have left. 

Tracy Rosenberg 

Managing Director, Media Alliance 

KPFA Local Board Member 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

In response to those who are holding up the N Judah light rail line in San Francisco as a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) style model for Telegraph, I have something to say. I grew up right next to the N Judah line in the Sunset District where it uses dedicated lanes on a slightly raised track bed. But it is not necessary to be as intimately familiar with the N Judah as I am to understand why it works there. Along it’s dedicated section (from Ninth Avenue to 48th Avenue), Judah is mirrored two blocks away by Lincoln Avenue, which is a four-lane major artery and an excellent example of a close parallel redundancy. When they made the N Judah tracks bed dedicated lanes, the majority of Judah traffic merely switched to nearby Lincoln Avenue. Today, a relative minority of cars use Judah here because it is so slow. The point is that Telegraph does not have a close parallel redundancy like Judah. There is nowhere else for the cars to go. This makes it clear to me that AC Transit does not appear to understand or is plain out not telling the truth about how traffic works in Berkeley when they predict that traffic congestion increases would be “not that bad” if BRT went in. As 

for the notion that people will switch from driving to buses because of the speed of the bus, can’t we please start thinking about the real reasons that people don’t take buses? I am on my knees begging. 

Joseph Stubbs 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

As the contest for the Democratic party’s nominee for the next president seems more and more likely to go to Senator Obama, the issue of whether Senator Clinton should seek the vice presidency becomes increasingly interesting. 

No one doubts Senator Clinton’s sincere desire to be our president. Would becoming vice president help her chances?  

Historically, a number of vice presidents have, of course, become our president or made a strong run for the presidency. 

Most recently, the first President Bush was VP under President Reagan. President Reagan was shot by a would-be assassin in 1981 and survived. GHW Bush was later elected in his own right and became President in 1989 after Reagan had served two full terms in office.  

Gerald Ford was President Nixon’s VP and became president in 1974 when Nixon resigned after Watergate. 

Hubert Humphrey was President Johnson’s VP and made a strong but losing run for the presidency in 1968. (Johnson had declined to run for a second term because of the Vietnam War.) Humphrey was only .7 percent behind the winner in the popular vote count. 

Richard Nixon had been VP under President Eisenhower but lost when he ran for president himself in 1960. He ran again and won the presidency in 1968. 

President Johnson had been VP under President Kennedy and became president in 1963 when President Kennedy was assassinated. 

In the last 45 years, four prior vice presidents have become president: two were elected in their own right, one succeeded a resigning president, and one after an assassination. And one VP (Humphrey) came quite close to being elected. 

In the same time period, no senator who ran for president was elected. But four governors became president (GW Bush, Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, and Jimmy Carter). 

While none of the above predicts the future, such considerations might have some weight in the thinking of a senator who seeks the presidency but who may be denied the nomination for president. 

Senator Clinton would only be 61 in 2009 and would still be young enough to be a serious contender after either four or eight years of an Obama presidency.  

On the Obama side, what qualities do presidents tend to look for in a vice president? Two such qualities may be loyalty and competence. If Senator Clinton can demonstrate those qualities in her dealings with Senator Obama, her chances of reaching the presidency through becoming vice president may increase. 

Brad Belden 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Have you seen the bumper stickers “Stop the Aerial Spraying,” placed mere inches away from the cars’ toxic exhaust? We don’t know if the synthetic pheromones from aerial spraying are harmful, but we definitely know that the carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, particulates, and nitric oxides spewed by automobile drivers kill tens of thousands every year. I trust that spraying opponents Robert Lieber and Dick Andre, writing in the Planet, will tell us how many years ago they gave up emitting aerial toxins from their personal transportation choices. 

Then there are the locals protesting the impact of immigration raids on Berkeley High, even though the agents never set foot on school property. Wait a minute. Aren’t these the same folks who want to spend more and more money on education while they ignore that the flood of immigration has overwhelmed California’s schools, destroyed the fine educational system we once had, and created the problems they want to spend money to fix? 

Berkeley hypocrites. Don’t you love them? 

Mark Johnson 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

On May 27 a special teleconferenced public meeting of the UC Regents’ Committee on Grounds and Buildings was held in Oakland, to receive public comment and to vote on two big building development projects proposed to be constructed up on the steep hillsides of the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab (LBNL) and on the north side of Strawberry Canyon. The regents’ committee received considerable public comment, all requesting that these two projects be built elsewhere nearby, where there would be far less environmental damage, earthquake safety hazards and traffic congestion problems. However, after very little discussion among the regents themselves, they voted unanimously for the immediate approval of both projects. 

Edward Denton, the UC campus vice chancellor for planning, design and construction, stated on May 27 something to the effect that the proposed building sites are more than a half-mile away from the Hayward Fault. If he’s doing his job, then he had to know that assertion is false. Back in 1975, when I was the principal engineer in the campus Office of Architects and Engineers, we retained Civil Engineer B. J. Lennert, working conjunction with geology Professor Garniss Curtis, to trace the Hayward Fault. He traced it right through UC property, between LBNL and the campus. Dr. Curtis recently wrote the following admonition: “No! Major buildings of any kind should not be built in either of these canyons (Strawberry or Blackberry Canyons) bordering this huge block of unstable rock.” 

Many of the regents appear to be influential people, whose concern seems primarily biased in favor of private financial interests, with little concern for environmental problems and public safety. The Helios project, proposed to be located on the edge of Strawberry Canyon, is primarily funded by foreign oil money, BP (formerly British Petroleum), at an estimated half billion dollars, to do yet poorly defined research. As public support for university sponsored research dries up, the trend is to shift to corporate support. This clearly compromises the integrity of the research and the scholarship of the university. 

In my opinion the Tuesday meeting of the regents committee was a sham. I suspect the approval of these two big projects was privately discussed and decided well before the public meeting. Nonetheless they had to conduct a public meeting, to be in compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The regents’ action is now on a 30-day hold pending their publication of the May 27 meeting minutes. Now is the time to pursue legal opposition to the proposed LBNL locations for these projects. 

John R. Shively 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

An initiative defining marriage as “between a man and a woman” qualified for the November election, which will bring national attention back to California, and might just skew the election in favor of the Republicans. The initiative is no different than defining patriotism as wearing a flag lapel pin. 

The marriage measure is a Republican thing. The GOP feels that if it can get independents and moderates to vote for this measure they will go right along and vote for John McCain and other anti-tax Republicans. 

This is a narrow-minded and misguided piece of legislation tailored to the Republican agenda. 

Ron Lowe 

Grass Valley