Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

Monday June 09, 2008 - 04:00:00 PM



Editors, Daily Planet: 

Pretty good election results. 

Mal Burnstein 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

In the District 4 Assembly races, Nancy Skinner received 10,904 votes; between Jan. 1 and May 17, her campaign spent $206,484, for a total of $18.94 per vote. For Kriss Worthington, the numbers are 5,559 votes, $98,907 spent, for a total of $17.79 per vote. Tony Thurman: 4,345 votes, $138,500 spent, for a total of $31.88 per vote. Phil Polakoff: 2,997 votes, $223,463 spent, for a total of $79.56 per vote.  

Make of it what you will. 

Jack Sawyer 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

On Saturday Hillary Clinton endorsed Barack Obama by delivering a well-composed civics lecture—somewhat cold, instructive, rigid. It said what she was required to say, but without spontaneity or heart. What might she have said? When the first boos were heard, she should have shouted, “Stop! I hear some of you booing—just stop it—those boos will elect John McCain. If you believe in me, if you share my hopes and dreams, then you will work as fervently and tirelessly for Barack Obama as you have for me, because he shares those hopes and dreams as deeply as anyone in this hall.” And later, when a lone woman’s voice called out “I love you” she could have said, “Thank you, I love you all—and so does Barack.” Despite her admonition not to look back, her constant iteration of “18 million votes” seemed calculated to do just that. I was troubled by her inability to rise to that crucial moment of concession and give more freely of herself—and I think that shows again the difference between them. 

Jerry Landis 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

I am writing this letter to express my sincere thanks and appreciation for Berkeley Technology Academy Principal Victor Diaz and the staff at B-Tech. 

Victor has managed to assemble a through, professional, caring group of teachers, counselors and support staff who in my opinion have no equals in the Berkeley Unified School District.  

My son has been enrolled in the BUSD since pre-school. It has been a very frustrating and difficult journey for us. I was asked to leave his fourth grade class for questioning the teacher about why there were so many students in her class that were “out of control.” All of the “out of control” students were African American males. We have gone from school to school, classroom to classroom constantly having to endure teachers who treated African American children like they were from another world, males in particular. We have endured the frustration of not having teachers who look like us, or could even begin to relate to our children. We have endured being constantly told about the problems of the achievement gap by persons who either helped to create it or benefited from it. 

I have endured being talked to by teachers about my son as if I were another child, or as if I was stupid and really didn’t understand what was going on around me. Little did they know there were times when I was calculating in my head how much jail time I may get if I just decided to beat this person down right here in the school. This is the frustration of an African American parent in the Berkeley Unified School District. 

That was all before coming to B-Tech. 

The first time I saw Victor, I thought. “That’s the principal, he looks like one of the kids!” Looks are very deceiving, Victor and the staff have in my opinion worked wonders with this school, the teachers are a constant reminder to our children of what they can achieve in life. Victor and the staff really care about our kids and it is apparent every time I walk through the door. The Staff are always happy to see parents and treat us like family. Even my son, who has hated school since the fourth grade and has presented the B-Tech staff with lots of challenges, wants to go to College! Thanks to Mr. Rashad’s classes, he wants to run his own business. Thanks to the tough love from Pastor Mike, he understands what responsibility really is. Thanks to Nancy for being the hardest working woman in the BUSD. Thanks to Ms. Martinez and her ‘Dailys’ for teaching my son how to write a paragraph that makes sense (he hates to write.) 

Thank you to the entire staff for believing in the greatness of our children. 

Before I met Victor, my motto was “I’ve never met a principal that I didn’t want to punch in the face.” 

Kathy Dean 

B-Tech parent 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

Jeff Ogar (“Torturing the Facts,” Letters, June 5) ends his rebuttal of Doug Buchwald’s defense of the Memorial Stadium oaks against the proposed athletic training center with a jumbled paraphrase of a well-known Ronald Reagan quote, “Mr. Buckwald, cut down those trees!” A less fault-ridden rendering would be, “When you’ve seen one wall, you’ve seen them all.” 

Dave Blake 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

The threat of global warming is finally taking its place among the many concerns and challenges facing our world today. However, the measures being taken to limit global warming pollution through means such as cap and trade are faced with surprising opposition. It’s important that we look to strong senators like Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein to lead the way as we fight global warming. 

We need to cut carbon emissions by 80 percent before 2050 and the only way we can make that happen is with public support and commitment to our goal. We can bring about change through direct, resolute action, and for this we need everyone’s support. 

Ruby Salvatore 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

Regarding Conn Hallinan’s piece (June 5-11) on the probability of the Bush/Cheney combine starting another war, this time with Iran, I think there is no doubt that something will happen either in the hope that the White House can remain in Republican (read Criminal) hands or toward suspension of the fall election and, at the same time, the Constitution. I have firmly believed, ever since May of last year, when the White House promulgated National Security Directive 51, that something will happen when the time was ripe. If we haven’t learned it yet, we should understand that these people will stop at nothing. NSD 51 is something we should all pay some attention to. I recommend looking it up on your favorite search engine, if only to be prepared for an event in the nature of a putsch by the Bush-Cheney crowd in September or October. If it is not a new war, it will be a staged catastrophe. In either case, our democracy will be at the most serious risk yet. 

Allen Harrison 

Point Richmond 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

I watched the leader of a dance troupe teach a simple dance with sticks to a mixed group of kids and adults at the Chocolate and Chalk Festival last weekend. After about 10 minutes of enthusiastic practice they were ready for a run-through. Then a tall gentleman appeared and abruptly yanked two boys out of the set, with complete disrespect for their time and the leader’s effort invested. But—Dad Wants to Move On. 

Dick Bagwell 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

I agree that Berkeley and Richmond residents should keep abreast of changes to the shared Burlington Northern Santa Fe and Union Pacific mainline right-of-way. (The former Santa Fe main between Novartis and Orchard Hardware is finally becoming a trail.)  

It isn’t clear what work is proposed. For example, all the grade crossings mentioned in the article—Gilman, Camellia, Cedar, Hearst, Virginia, Addison and Bancroft—are already four tracks wide and have been recently rebuilt. The underpass at Ashby is five tracks wide and University, 40th, and Buchanan clear four tracks wide. It is mostly now a two track mainline on a four track wide right-of-way. Much of the third and fourth tracks are missing or in disrepair but that’s between intersections—not at the at-grade crossings or separated grade crossings. (65th is the only exception I see in person or on Google Maps, satellite view—it is three tracks wide.)  

In Richmond, I think public officials and voters who are helping fund the proposed improvements should keep pushing for a more logical connection between BNSF and UP near Hensley not down at Regatta. 

National issues—such as “buy local,” “Buy American,” and the trade imbalance with China are the root cause of the local traffic.  

Wayne B. Wood  






Editors, Daily Planet: 

Concerning Justin DeFreitas’s cartoon depicting Hillary Clinton’s “loss” in your June 5 edition: You and your cartoonist have a First Amendment right to be rude, sexist, and offensive, so I won’t object to this obnoxious work on these grounds—however, it seems to me the bottom line for cartoons is that they are suppose to be funny or witty—this one is neither. It is sophomoric and mean spirited and not funny. I question your judgment for running such trash.  

David Bunnell 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

The debilitating effects of old age are said to be off set by an increase of wisdom. Actually, what passes for wisdom is demonstrably simple: No matter what happens, old folks have seen or experienced something like it before. In other words, the wisdom of old age consists of ignoring the singularity of events while soaring aloft to see every thing connected with everything. Thus, the Iraq quagmire is like Vietnam, the White House under Bush resembles the Nixon White House and, most alarmingly, the multitude of domestic and foreign problems the USA encounters today was prefigured in the deterioration that led to the disintegration of the USSR, so says yours truly, octogenarian. 

The USSR bankrupted itself struggling desperately to match the U.S.A.—nuclear sub for nuclear sub, ICBM for ICBM—in the arms race. Many credit President Reagan’s Star Wars program, although conceived in scientific fantasyland, with winning the race by hastening the USSR’s fiscal disabling. They simply spent more than they had on military technology. Now, we’re doing exactly what our erstwhile superpower nemesis did: squandering our national treasure in profligate and wasteful military spending.  

Next year’s federal budget calls for $1.449 billion in military spending, a staggering 54 percent of the total (War Recourses League). Meanwhile, extravagance and thievery abound. Senator Carl Levin recently warned of a crisis in Pentagon cost overruns: “…major programs…ballooned $295 billion over initial budget estimates…” (New York Times, June 4).  

The arms race ended almost two decades ago leaving us the world’s lone superpower, militarily without peer. And yet we spend nearly as much on our military as the rest of the world combined.  

My octogenarian wisdom tells me that we’re in a period that mixes features of Watergate’s “Follow the money!” with Toynbee’s (1889-1975) notion of history’s cyclical nature. The difference between Them and Us is that we stupidly continue to equipped ourselves to fight an enemy that no longer exists. 

Thus, the road we’re on, similar but not the same as the one the USSR followed, will take us to the same place, bankruptcy.  

Marvin Chachere 

San Pablo 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

As members of North Oakland Cohousing, who are steadily working to build a cooperative, multigenerational, environmentally sound and sustainable community, we were surprised to see our name and private e-mails published in the Berkeley Daily Planet. We remain committed to our vision of creating a way of housing people that is about being good neighbors. Included in our vision is working to decrease our carbon footprint by sharing resources, reducing waste and conserving energy. Just as important, we are committed to strengthening the social bonds that make for a community that is child and family friendly, where people can age in place, and where all kinds of households can flourish. Trying to put our ideals into practice, navigating real estate development in a highly politicized climate and dealing with a rapidly changing market has been a steep and challenging learning curve for us. We have faced some complex and difficult situations and we care deeply about working on our project in a socially responsible way. We want to be part of solutions to challenges faced by urban neighborhoods. 

After closing our membership for several months to do internal work, we are planning to reopen and start holding orientations. We invite households of all kinds who want to join us in creating cooperative, safe and friendly housing that balances community and privacy. If you believe that we are working on something that interests you and you want to find out more about our goal of building an urban, green and neighborly community, check out our website and come to an information session. We’ll look forward to seeing you. 

Penny Scott 

North Oakland Cohousing 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

As 35-year Berkeley residents and homeowners, my wife and I started using the neighborhood pools two years ago to regularly attend Senior Water Aerobics classes. These classes have meant so much to both of us as they enable us to exercise in a supportive environment with other seniors and truly give a good workout to our aging bodies whose joints cannot take the impact of exercising otherwise. We urge our City Council to support a November bond measure to repair our aging neighborhood pools. The health and well being of our adult citizenry deserves it. The youth of our enlightened city deserves to enjoy these pools and learn water safety and life-saving skills.  

We understand there are competing needs in tight economic times. However, the health and well-being of your citizens need to take an important place in your decision making process. Again, we urge you to support this bond measure.  

Howard and Cindi Goldberg 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

I am a concerned 50-year Berkeley resident, homeowner and user of Berkeley city pools.  

Myself and many other seniors make all year round use of the pools for our mental and physical well being we support the bond measure that we hope will be on the ballot in the fall to repair our city pools. 

R. Hansen 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

I recently came to the knowledge that your city government passed a resolution disinviting the U.S. Marines from their location and condemning them for their work recruiting new Marines to serve America.  

I believe that you might wish to have the local water tested for pollutants or the air for toxins, because no honest human being living in America could possibly think that the U.S. Marines are a bad thing for this country. Or perhaps you wanted attention for your “fine” city?  

If they voted seriously for this resolution as a matter of communal principle, perhaps you’ll also be so coherent as to return all the federal funding you receive to which I and my fellow veterans have so generously contributed. No? Well, then, your hypocrisy is only outshone by your demonstration of utter ignorance. You would be speaking Japanese or German if not for the U.S. Marines and their generous, courageous behavior on your behalf. Shame on you!  

I would recommend that you urge your city government to pass another resolution, after repealing that ignoble one, to urge you and your fellow citizens to study U.S. history. You all could then apologize to the fine men and women who guarantee your right to act like the utter idiots you are.  

Outrageous behavior is not a valid method of political dissent. Nor is ungratefulness to those who serve you and guarantee your freedom. I know plenty of citizens of Iraq and Afghanistan who would gladly change places with you and who would have no problem sharing anything they owned with any American service member. They know what we do and why we do it, and I truly believe they would bring more to this country than people like you who appreciate so little of what we have here. 

SFC Stacy Spadework 

Washington, DC 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

I find it odd that someone like Michael Yovino-Young would so carefully count the number of people on buses from his office on Telegraph and miss so many totally empty automobiles on the same street. Why, it looks like just about the entire right-hand lane in each direction is devoted to totally empty automobiles! They are just sitting there, blocking traffic all day long. How could he have missed that? 

Even the automobiles that have people in them, and are moving, rarely come anywhere near being full. There are trucks, having dropped off some or all of their load, which are traveling on those streets. Why are they not equally a problem? Even if an individual automobile is full, there is so much distance between every two vehicles that the street is almost empty most of the time. 

My experience has been different than Mr. Yovino-Young’s. I see the buses on Telegraph gaining ridership steadily in the past year, since the service was installed. It may be that I am just seeing what I want to see. But no doubt that is true of Mr. Yovino-Young as well. 

Bruce De Benedictis 






Editors, Daily Planet: 

The article on improving rail service to the Oakland Port suggests problems where none exist. Until a few years ago there were four active railroad tracks through Berkeley. Two of these tracks are now unused. So what is being proposed is simply an upgrade and return to service of existing tracks next to the two now in service. The article implies that a mile long train is something new and unusual. The typical freight train has been a mile long for more than 50 years. We will benefit from rehabilitation of the railroad in several ways. The chances of the Capitol Corridor passenger trains being on time will improve. To the degree that truck traffic is diverted to the railroad, I-80 will be less congested. Trains will not have to wait, sending diesel exhaust into the air, to get through the bottleneck between Richmond and Oakland. 

Joe Magruder 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

Planning for public transportation improvements in an urban area should have two goals: One, get those who commute into the urban area out of their cars, and two, improve around-town transit for the people who already live in the urban area. 

BRT does not get Berkeley to either of these two goals. 

BRT will not help get commuters out of their cars, as it parallels an existing and very good mass transportation route, BART, from San Leandro to Berkeley. It does not address the commuters who drive into Berkeley from the north, or east, where there are no good public transportation options. 

BRT does not help those of us who live here get around town. In fact, by lengthening the distance between stops on Telegraph, it will make public transportation worse for those who want to travel that local route. 

Real solutions would be to work regionally to provide real mass transit solutions to the commuter cars that flow into Berkeley, such as a BRT from Orinda/Lafayette and San Rafael to the UC Campus, and provide a network of smaller local buses (such as the Emery-Go-Round) that get the locals out of their cars. 

I realize that the money offered to AC Transit is hard to turn down, but unfortunately BRT will not do anything to address Berkeley's significant car problems. 

Anne Wagley 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

Code Pink members are a bunch of ignorant, naïve, loonies that only believe in free speech for themselves and not for the Marines or anyone that disagrees with them. They even admit this on a video that I have seen. The City Council of Berkley is just as ignorant and stupid for supporting these traitorous bimbos. I am a retired Marine Major (1949-1972) and a helicopter and fixed wing pilot in Vietnam. I spent more than 20 years of my life defending the right for these Pinko Communist sympathizers to get up on their soapbox and make fools of themselves. But as far as I am concerned, not one of them (Code Pink) or the Berkley City council is worth the sweat off of one good Marine’s testicles! If I had my way I would turn the City of Berkley into a glass parking lot so hot it would not support life for at least 1,000 years. 

Semper Fi! 

Lew Zeigler 

Half Moon Bay 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

President Bush, John McCain and Republicans are set in their ways. Are women, Hillary-women and disgruntled Democrats who say they will vote for McCain instead of fellow Democrat Barack Obama following suit? 

Be absolutely clear about what a vote for John McCain means. McCain as president will automatically load the Supreme Court with more social conservatives and anti-abortionists. Roe v. Wade will be history and McCain and Republican hardliners of a religious persuasion will be free to do as they want. 

A vote for John McCain is a vote against Roe v. Wade and a vote against a woman’s right to choose. 

Ron Lowe 

Grass Valley