Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

Thursday July 03, 2008 - 10:18:00 AM


Editors, Daily Planet: 

Many Berkeley residents hate war, and are tree-lovers, but still fall into recycled passions for what seems ecological. Daily Planet readers, please remember: Installing solar panels and manufacturing “green” cars and buildings can be less ecological than retaining structures. Rather than replace stuff, and ignoring imbedded labor, materials, energy, and money—which are all ecologically and economically significant—let’s modify more, including human activity. Low-tech green is cheaper and cultural. 

Related topic: Everyone green-minded should know of a tiny non-profit in two buildings at Dwight and McGee, the International Institute for the Bengal Basin, which cleans and preserves water resources and wilderness in California and Asia. It’s victim to officials and politicians claiming its buildings are non-compliant. The mayor says: “IIBB property will go to a [developer]!” Officials ignore proof of IIBB’s compliance, and inhumanely and unjustly “handle” IIBB’s minor issues iny rights, too. This is too important and complex for letters alone: Daily Planet, keep the story alive! 

Kenneth H. Thompson 

Megan C. Timberlake 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

Every real city requires a few distinctions, both to mark it as such and to maintain a personality separate from other, sometimes envious, burgs. One of these is the international newsstand, preferably always open. 

Dear Oakland, despite its travails, has managed for over a century to host this affirmation of city status: DeLauer’s Newsstand at Broadway and 14th. I began hitting on the place as a teen in the mid-’60s. In recent years, I’d waddle over after a duck/noodle soup at Yung Kee (Webster at Ninth), picking up a copy or two of my favorite car-collector magazines. An ad glanced at during an always-welcome browse alerted me to a very special exhibit in Auburn, Indiana, thus my last commercial 1998. 

Doesn’t Berkeley have such a haven, in that dreadful tunnel below Telegraph between Durant and Channing? Readers, are there any “I-Stands” left around the Bay? Sacramento? L.A.? 

’Bye, DeLauer’s. Come back for a visit, and bring some Kwik-Way apple pie with you. 

Phil Allen 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I have become confused about the aim of these tree-sitter characters. They want to save the oak trees, but someone else owns the land where they are growing. The persons that own the land want to use the space for something else. 

Now these people who love the trees are inhabiting this portion of the grounds to prevent landscape alteration. I am reasonably sure the intended developments do not require destruction of said trees, just removal. If the tree-sitting peoples want the trees, why not ask for them? Maybe there has been a similar situation where the tree-lovers adopted the trees and had them transferred to a nearby sanctuary. What about that kind of approach? 

This may be unprecedented, but I doubt it. Conflict resolution is a guiding force in Berkeley. If someone cares about something, they take care of it. If you want the trees to live, you need to have a place to take care of them using your own resources. If not, maybe you could hustle something together? 

Duncan Cook 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

We all have read about the California Supreme Court’s decision finding the ban on same-sex couple’s right to marry unconstitutional. We have also read that the “Limitation on Marriage-Constitutional Amendment” banning same-sex marriage has qualified for the November ballot. Recently, I have read and heard much misinformation, disinformation, and unreasoned invective about this issue. I strongly recommend that opponents of same-sex couple marriage read the well-reasoned court decision ( before commenting further. 

The California Supreme Court ruled that the equal protection clause of the “California Constitution guarantees same-sex couples the same substantive rights as opposite-sex couples to choose one’s life partner, and enter with that person into a committed, officially recognized, and protected family relationship that enjoys all the constitutionally based incidents of marriage.” The court further ruled that treating same-sex couples differently than opposite-sex couples has no rational basis in the law. 

Oftentimes the courts are the last resort to right a wrong. Society’s mores change. Remember, slavery and segregation were once legal. At one time, women could not vote and blacks and whites were not allowed to marry. And during World War II, many Japanese were sent to concentration camps. The list of wrongs corrected goes on and on. These wrongs were finally acknowledged and changed by the courts or the legislature. The California Supreme Court has merely righted a wrong here by overturning the ban on same-sex couple marriage. 

Will the institution of marriage be threatened? Given the high divorce rate in California, it would appear that the institution of marriage is already threatened. Isn’t it ludicrous to allow convicted murderers, child molesters, known pedophiles, drug pushers, pimps, black market arms dealers, etc., the freedom to marry and procreate, and are doing so, and deny committed consenting, same-sex adults this right? 

Does same-sex marriage apply to two sisters or two brothers? Of course not. To allow any non-related, adult and consenting couple to marry does not violate equal protection just as it does not violate equal protection to disallow all incest (and bestiality and polygamy). 

Is same-sex marriage immoral because the Bible says so? Actually, the First Amendment’s freedom of religion gives us the right to freedom from religion. The Bible has no standing in United States law. 

Public debate on a controversial issue is healthy, but let’s make it a reasoned debate. 

Ralph E. Stone 

San Francisco 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Your recent article on fundraising for the Hancock-Chan race should have been properly placed in the editorials section. This was a fascinating campaign, one with many twists and turns which unfortunately pitted two progressives against each other. However, the author reduced Hancock’s victory to a David-vs-Goliath campaign dollar issue. True, Hancock apparently raised about three times the money that Chan did. But the proportional difference in sources was not large—according to the article itself, group donations accounted for just over 62 percent of Hancock’s funding versus approximately 50 percent of Chan’s, a mere 12 percent difference. No mention was made of the impact of the numerous casino hit pieces against Hancock—a despicable spoiler tactic equivalent to a huge financial contribution to the Chan campaign. 

As a voter who initially was genuinely conflicted about which candidate to support, this analysis deflects from the real campaign issues. For me, and I suspect for many other voters, the decision at the voting booth was based on how the candidates conducted their campaigns. Chan never properly repudiated the vicious casino mailings, and her literature repeatedly listed endorsements by major public figures that were either fabricated or misleading—the most egregious being the implied endorsement by Barack Obama. 

There were important lessons to learn from this campaign, but this article was a poor start. 

Lincoln Cushing 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

“What in Heaven’s name is happening with downtown Berkeley?”, ask dismayed residents. Well friends, there’s a simple answer to that question. Absolutely nothing is happening, except for the regrettable closure of Cody’s Books and the continued absence of a single department store on Shattuck Avenue. Oh, there are still a few good things—first rate theater (Berkeley Rep, Aurora and Shotgun Players) and a fine public library. 

But no department store in a city boasting one of the nation’s greatest universities, a community of Nobel Prize Scientists, Pulitzer Prize writers and composers? Admittedly Fourth Street has its charms, but for basic shopping one really has only two choices, San Francisco or Walnut Creek. 

Actually, I enjoy going over to Walnut Creek. It’s an easy ride on BART, picking up the free shuttle at the station, going to Broadway Plaza. That 15-minute ride takes one past a number of sleek high-rise office buildings, investment firms, upscale restaurants (Lark Creek Inn) and elegant fashion stores (Eileen Fisher). The shuttle drops passengers off at the attractive Broadway Plaza, with its graceful fountain and circular stone benches for those who simply want to enjoy an ice cream cone and watch the passing parade. Dedicated shoppers can head for Nordstrom or Macys, an absolute God-send for Berkeley residents, long denied a department store of their own. 

The first time I visited Walnut Creek I was so taken with its astonishing diversity and vitality, I assumed this city had to be much, much larger than Berkeley. I was sadly mistaken. Berkeley presently has a population of roughly 106,347, with Walnut Creek a smaller one of 65,284. How to explain the enormous difference in their shopping areas? 

Returning to downtown Berkeley after one of these pleasant shopping expeditions, I have the feeling I’m in a one-horse hick town! Oh, but there’s a bright new light looming on the horizon with the May 2009 opening of the giant David Brower Center, located at Oxford and Allston. This complex will house galleries, a 180-seat theater (for film screening) and a large restaurant. Hopefully this very welcome addition will revitalize a presently moribund city. 

So, harping back to my grievance about the lack of a department store, it rankles me (I’ll refrain from using a cruder term) that I have to travel miles and miles through a tunnel or across a bridge to do simple, ordinary shopping! 

Dorothy Snodgrass 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Last Saturday afternoon, I went to downtown Berkeley to oppose the pro-war biker rally, taking place in front of the Marine recruitment center. My agenda was quite unique and personal. I am not a member of any group. I am not a pacifist or anti-military. My older brother (now deceased) was a decorated Vietnam veteran. However, I am thoroughly galled by those who would equate supporting the troops with supporting Bush’s misbegotten war. I needed to express this, and to that end I fashioned a large homemade sign. On one side it read, “George W. Bush: Liar, Coward, Traitor, Criminal.” On the other side I wrote, “You cannot support the troops by sending them to die needlessly in an illegal, unjust and immoral war.” I proudly displayed my sign as moved I amongst the bikers, who were resplendent in their vast array of American flags. I was surprised that my sign elicited little comment, and disappointed at not getting a chance to explain how I had reached my conclusions.  

However, just as their spokesperson, talk show host Melanie Morgan, was ascending a makeshift stage to speak, I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned around to see a guy straight out of Hollywood casting for a typical, big, burly, mean-looking biker dude. He said “I’m only going to tell you this once. Get that f**kin’ sh*t (referring to my sign) out of here now!” I asked him if he had a problem with my sign’s message. He then said, “Maybe you didn’t hear me. I said to get that sh** out a here!” I explained to him that I was a free-born American, and that I would stand where I wanted to stand, and say what I wanted to say. He then hauled off and punched me in the stomach. At the same time, two of his leather-clad comrades surrounded me, demanding loudly that I leave immediately. At that point I started looking for a cop, and was stunned to find one standing only 10 feet behind me. Knowing that he had to have seen the melee that had just taken place, I asked the cop why he had not intervened. All the while, the three bikers were glaring at me. The Berkeley City police officer looked straight ahead while telling me that he had seen nothing and that there was nothing he could do. By now, I was perceiving the full reality of the situation, and so I left. Later, I looked back to see the same cop laughing and joking with some of the bikers. As the rally was winding down, I came upon a group of six Berkeley city officers standing together. I informed them that I had been punched by one of the bikers who was still in the area, and asked them if I could point him out to them. I was met with stony silence. I persisted, and finally one of the officers told me that I would have to take the matter up elsewhere. 

I am writing this only to inform, and perhaps warn others that it is now apparently OK for outside groups holding rallies on Berkeley streets, to physically assault Berkeley citizens who disagree with them. What is far worse and far more unacceptable, is that some of our own Berkeley police officers are clearly complicit. It is supposedly the duty of the Berkeley Police Department to serve and protect the members of this community, not to be in collusion with felonious violence perpetrated against us. 

Kevin Moore 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I am appalled at the civic negligence and dereliction of duty by the City Council at the recent City Council meeting, evidenced by their refusal to support the reasonable human rights needs of the tree-sitters and valid community concerns. It seems apparent that the city has abdicated its voter-based duty to defend the best interests of the community in favor of allowing the agenda focused UC Berkeley administration to dictate public policy. Clearly, the mayor and most members of the City Council don’t grasp that the needs of the community are not alwayscompatible with the UC agenda. Perhaps, the towel should be thrown in, taxpayer money saved and all matters of the City of Berkeley be turned over to a university-appointed committee. This would be more expedient and avoid undesirable contention. (Tongue in cheek, folks!) But, it does appear that city officials are more than willing to capitulate to university objectives over the well being, safety for all and the needs and desires of the community. Even though UC is a valuable asset and resource to the community, it is often a bad neighbor. It is indeed shortsighted of the mayor and City Council not to realize that the tree sitters are much like the anecdotal canary in a coalmine, vulnerable to UC ulterior motives and lack of human/civic responsibility and concerns. 

The tree-sitters, in addition to defending and promoting the value of mature oak trees, are courageously holding the line against tyrannical UC plans to increase traffic demands and density in a part of the community that has aging, narrow, inadequate roads, limited parking and inadequate infrastructure to handle the added demands of their unfettered building plans. And this is on top of geographically vulnerable earthquake fault proximity. It is rational of the tree-sitters to be very skeptical of having their reasonable needs determined or met by their UC adversary, especially without their supporters’ involvement and oversight and without medical professionals frequent assessments. 

UC clearly wants the tree sit to end and are willing to use whatever means necessary, regardless of safety and health concerns. Yet, UC history classes teach that civil disobedience is a hallmark of social change and beneficial defense of societal needs in America. Without civic-minded people standing up against imperialism we would still be saluting the British flag. Some of these irreplaceable trees were planted in memory of World War I heroes. Also, in keeping with the dominant attitude of business as usual, the concerns of Native Americans, who feel that the inspiring and contemplative oak grove is sacred burial grounds and should be left respectively intact, are missing from the City Council agenda. It is factual history, that when the football stadium was built, Indian burial remains were uncovered and desecrated. UC history seems determined to repeat in this regard with the UC pro development agenda. This oak grove location is not the only available campus site for placement of the proposed athletic facility. Still, UC dictation prevails, not community concerns and needed dialogue, which are sorely missing from this hotly contested situation. 

Carol Gesbeck DeWitt 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

In response to the news about the sudden closing of Cody’s Books, I wish there was an effort to keep it open with community input. A committee of people to support author talks—bring in cups and vacuums of tea, use donations to support leaflets of bookstore events—keep up community participation. Ironically the bookstore was slowly increasing sales. I’ll keep the idea in case Black Oaks needs help but Cody’s was a good location. Was Cody’s the first or among the first to have author interviews/talks back in the 1950s? 

Alan Tong 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Kudos to the Oakland Police Department on their successful Operation Nutcracker sting. The fact they managed to pull it off without alerting the city administrator and her allies it quite a feat. Chip Johnson should also be commended for his column in the San Francisco Chronicle revealing the ongoing corruption and inaction at Oakland City Hall. I am angry, outraged, and disgusted with the City of Oakland administration, starting with the mayor and on down to the City Council. The mayor continues to pay the city administrator $255,000 per year while she runs around chasing her nephew and impedes the police sting. Then she and her nephew are absolved of any wrongdoing.  

Oakland has a stressing pattern of inaction and cover-up going back 30 years. It began with the Yusuf Bey thugs terrorizing the city and culminating in the recent assassination of Mr. Bailey. Crime has escalated and the city administrators continue business-as-usual with their policy to let the outlaws off the hook. Here’s my suggestion: Mayor Dellums, fire the city administrator, her nephew, daughter and other relatives as a starting point before asking us to pay any more taxes to fight crime.  

Ruby Thompson  





Editors, Daily Planet: 

My name is Linda, I’m a former Berkeley resident, and I support the tree-sitters. 

I support Code Pink and Breasts Not Bombs. I would rather see bare breasts than more coffins. 

I’m so glad that they sent water to the tree-sitters. America truly needs more irrational, harmless behavior for a good cause. Sure, it annoys those who are addicted to logic and the Same Old Stuff, but it does get attention. 

I pray to God we see a lot more goofy behavior to support good causes. Obviously, the authorities are paying attention. 

I am the Lady of the Grove. I am the Guardian Angel of Berkeley, and of the State of California. And of the U.S.A. and of the World. 

I send my love and my prayers to all of the tree-people. Whoever it was in UC that authorized sending the water deserves a big, huge full-body orgasm. 

Linda Smith 

Mt. Shasta 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

It now seems glaringly appropriate that Sen. John “Maverick” McCain should be renamed John “Gymnast” McCain. His amazing, agile feats of back-flips, front-flips and giant swings, etc., all demand a more fitting opprobrium. 

Robert Blau 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

As a Cal student, I’m glad the City of Berkeley has taken serious action against distributing free tobacco coupons in all public places, especially for bars and other hot nightspots. Right now, the tobacco industry sponsors bar parties all over the country, particularly hitting hard in college towns. At these events, tobacco companies can prey on young adults with attractive coupons and gifts hoping to recruit new smokers and successfully imprinting their brand in young minds. 

Most importantly, limiting what the tobacco industry can give away at these special events may also limit their access to Cal students’ private information. In exchange for tobacco coupons and accessories, tobacco promoters swipe driver’s licenses for the names, mailing addresses, ages, and ethnicities of party participants. They use direct marketing techniques to send slick tobacco ads, coupons, concert tickets, CDs and birthday gifts, each targeted to an individual’s tastes and hobbies. 

Because we already know, from a recent Harvard study, that college town tobacco industry bar promotions have the greatest effect on a nonsmoker’s smoking behavior, I think that the new Berkeley law will protect the college community from unnecessary cigarette ads and prevent many new students from picking up the deadly habit. By putting a stop to this, Berkeley has found an effective way to counteract one of the main marketing strategies of the tobacco industry. 

Thank you Berkeley! 

Michelle Ly 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

In reference to the article “Why Your Dryer Is Trying to Kill You” I like to author of the article am a supporter of clotheslines. In fact I have attempted to get a clothesline resolution passed for some time, although I have been ignored when I have contacted the city government about it. Here it is: 

Whereas, much produced energy be it electric or gas to dry clothing is increasingly expensive and harmful to the environment. Whereas, the City of Berkeley is committed to responsibly using energy. Whereas, the City of Berkeley sees clotheslines as a way to responsibly dry clothing with wind and solar energy. 

Now therefore, be it resolved by the Council of the City of Berkeley that the City of Berkeley adopts the following policy concerning clotheslines.  

1. The City of Berkeley believes that drying laundry with wind and solar energy should be encouraged. 

2. Clotheslines that dry laundry with wind and solar energy should not be forbidden in apartments, dormitories, and any other housing in the City of Berkeley. 

Note I am not forcing anyone to use clotheslines, but I am simply saying that they should not be forbidden. Is this too much to ask? 

Ardys DeLu 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The June 25 Eureka Reporter, up Humboldt way, informs us that “About 450 federal, state, and local personnel executed 29 search warrants in Humboldt and Mendocino counties early Tuesday morning.” 

Special federal agents report that officers found about 10,000 marijuana plants estimated to be worth between $25 million and $50 million, and they add, “It’s a large-scale, for-profit, commercial business..... The targets of our investigation are reaping huge profits while contributing to the crime and violence oppressing communities across the state.”  

The news report continues, “Local law enforcement agencies were called in to help with the investigation, including the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office, Eureka Police Department, Humboldt County Drug Task Force, and Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office.” 

“Other federal agencies involved include the Internal Revenue Service, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, California Highway Patrol, California National Guard Drug Task Force, U.S. Forest Service, Campaign Against Marijuana Planting and California Department of Fish and Game.” 

Way back in 1972, Dr. Andrew Weil wrote an article called, “The Natural Mind.” Basically, he said, “The use of drugs to alter consciousness has been a feature of human life in all places on earth and in all ages of history. In fact, to my knowledge, the only people lacking a traditional intoxicant are the Eskimos, who, unable to grow anything, had to wait for white men to bring them alcohol, which, of course, has always been the most commonly used drug.” 

He emphasized that caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, are all drugs, of course. So while the feds are justifying their raids on “drug-trafficking” up in Humboldt, those three legal drugs are being produced & freely marketed. In fact, the alcohols, such as the wines and beers, are glorified and promoted around the world.  

Perhaps the greatest mystery of all, about the trillions being spent to save the public from these illegal drug operations, is our knowledge that marijuana, in particular, is not lethal, while nicotine and alcohol are at the top of our mortality lists. 

How long are we going to allow our government to treat us as if we’re as blind as they are? 

Gerta Farber 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Contrary to the headline on Carolyn Jones’s June 28 article in the San Francisco Chronicle, the university has made no concessions or compromises. Webster’s defines compromise as: “a: A settlement of differences by arbitration or by consent reached by mutual concessions b: something intermediate between or blending qualities of two different things, 2: a concession to something derogatory or prejudicial.” 

The university has refused to meet with neighbors, community and environmental groups to discuss compromises. 

A reasonable concession would be to locate the athletic training center on a different site. You cannot replace a 100-year-old oak with three tiny saplings. The Kleeberger field adjacent to stadium and Edwards Field on the main campus are available, as well as many other alternative sites. How about old trees and new gym? 

Catherine Orozco 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Tens of thousands of words have been spilled and many hairs split and the curtain has fallen on the dispute at last. The Supreme Court has spoken. Writing for the five-vote majority, Justice Antonin Scalia ruled that the “historical narrative” justifies “handguns held and used for self defense in the home.”  

I don’t have a handgun and haven’t been near one since I was discharged from the Air Force over 50 years ago. Some folks will find the high courts decision comforting. For Ben Cromeen it was vindication: He sees his right to have 17 handguns as the basis of all constitutionally guaranteed freedoms. He told a reporter, “You can’t have freedom of speech and freedom of the press [He left out freedom of religion, freedom of assembly, freedom from search and seizure, etc.] if you’re unsafe.” (“Cheers, fears meet Supreme Court gun ruling” by Miguel Bastillo and Louise Roug, Los Angeles Times, June 27). 

However, the bothersome thing is not that eminent scholars have drawn conflicting and often contradictory conclusions from the same sentence but that we rely on nine appointed referees to extract up-to-date meaning from 18th century words (“A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”).  

Investing the Supreme Court with this sort of ex cathedra authority suggests religious parallels. 

Some scholars view the Bible as prescriptive; others see it as a guide. Writers use it as a reference book and agnostics as a source of inspiration. For everyone the Bible tells us how we should live in much the same spirit as the Constitution tells us how we should be governed. Are the Founders’ words really as sacrosanct as the Bible’s? 

In my view, these two documents, properly revered, are each useful, even necessary, in their domains of relevance. It is important to remember, however, that they are not sufficient.  

Good governance does not depend on the clarity or even the cogency of the Supreme Court’s exegesis. Good governance like good behavior springs from understanding the human condition and acting to improve it.  

The human condition is enhanced by peace and no matter what the Supreme Court decides handguns are not instruments of peace. 

Marvin Chachere 

San Pablo 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The recent letter (“The Manhattan of Berkeley,” June 26) regarding the complex at 1500 San Pablo Ave. contains every standard NIMBY argument that is usually made in Berkeley, but can be summed up in the simple reactionary statement “No!” People such as J. Fisher are so interested in the status quo that they’ve ended up in the same spot as the late William F. Buckley who yelled the same phrase over and over independent of the circumstances, inconsistencies, or in fact, reality. Change itself is the enemy. The reactionary desire for stasis is so strong that words lose any meaning and so calling for more “Open Space” in an urban setting on one of the city’s main thoroughfares becomes just another person yelling stop! Of course this letter is in a paper that subscribes to the whole NIMBY argument lock, stock and barrel, because any comparison between Berkeley and Manhattan is ridiculous on its face. 

Patrick Emmert 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

On behalf of Bay Area Stop the Spray groups, we celebrate and thank all the individuals, public officials, doctors, scientists, and more than 30 local governments and 80 organizations who spoke out to stop aerial spraying of pesticides over our cities for the light brown apple moth (LBAM). The state’s abrupt decision to halt the urban spray is a clear testament to the power of an informed movement of citizens.  

Unfortunately, the state still intends to aerially spray forested and other areas (perhaps Mt. Tam and East Bay parks?) for LBAM and to use ground spray and other dangerous pesticides (including permethrin, a carcinogen, toxic to bees) in our neighborhoods.  

The state has filed court documents indicating an intent to proceed without environmental review. We have asked for written clarification of what treatments are planned, and we continue to work to reclassify the moth to stop this unsafe, unnecessary, and ineffective program.  

We hope Bay Area citizens will continue to oppose this whole program and support the transformation of agriculture from dependence on mono-cropping and toxic chemicals to a reliance on the wisdom of nature via organic, bio-diverse farming, so we may all enjoy a healthy, pesticide-free food supply. 

Nan Wishner  

Stop the Spray East Bay (Albany) 


Michelle Darby 

Stop the Spray San Francisco 


Lisa Chipkin,  

Stop the Spray Marin (San Rafael) 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Even though I realize Justin DeFreitas is a cartoonist, his sketch of Sen. Barack Obama’s face reminds me more of a representation of old racist “Black Face” than a true political caricature.  

First, I cannot remember ever seeing President George Bush with the chimp-like features, Sen. McCain with a wide blank stare, or Hillary Clinton with the chipmunk cheeks, drawn with such extreme overstatement.  

Second, I question the use of the gigantic teeth he sketches of Sen. Obama’s teeth. Even though they are only caricatures, I’m waiting to see other people sketched with such hyperbole. Or are such false impressions only reserved for people like Sen. Obama?  

Also, I fail to see why DeFreitas chooses to picture Sen. Obama’s teeth. Are they one of his most distinctive features like the ones described above? Sen. Obama smiles like most politicians’ smile. I cannot remember seeing any other smiling politician’s teeth over-exaggerated the way he draws the senator’s teeth. It is so perplexing! 

Third, American “Good Ol Boy” humor will find it difficult to escape the small mentality of intolerance. After all, let’s face it: Sen. Obama has a pleasant face that DeFreitas has changed into a hideous grin.  

Finally, even though I realize Justin DeFreitas is indeed a caricature cartoonist, some of his drawings seem more representative of the good-ol-boy humor than of a true caricature artist. Or is that what being a caricature artist is all about in North America? 

Mondrae Johnson 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

What do Ayr, Dumpster Muffin and Doug Buckwald actually do for a living? Are they on unemployment? Or are they city employees? Are they honorary members of the Panoramic Hill Association? I’m pondering these questions as I watch the city of Berkeley go down the toilet. World-class institution being held hostage by a Dumpster Muffin and a City Council who panders to its base of maybe 1,000 people. What actually is a Dumpster Muffin? A muffin who dumps? Or a dumpster who muffs? Please clarify.  

Matthew Shoemaker 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

Before the first fence went up around the oak grove at UC Berkeley’s Memorial Stadium, the UC police have been trying to make life hard for the tree sitters. Their goal is to drive the people who live in this beautiful grove out, so they can spend a billion dollars on a new gym and then gutting and retrofitting the old stadium. Spending a million dollars to remove the tree sitters seems a small price to the rich men who profit from such projects.  

To most people, the tactics used by the extractors seems extreme. Cherry-pickers running into lines, and extractors cutting lines, on which sitters lives hang, stunned everyone who watched the events. It is hard to believe UC Berkeley would risk life to prevent so-called misdemeanors. But when we take into account UC Berkeley winning the account to build the new nuclear weapons for the USA, the British Petroleum Bio-Tech Fuels project, and the plans to pulverize the radioactive Bevatron, it does not seem out of line. For those who remember the free speech movement, People’s Park, and James Rector shot dead, the tactics are typical. 

Now the final stage, to slowly malnourish the remaining tree-sitters. The UC will now try to ethnically cleanse the grove by making it harder and harder for the tree sitters to live, without actually having them literally drop dead from starvation. Of course, in a world where 20,000 children starve to death, and 10,000 die from dehydration every day on earth, why not starve out a bunch of dirty tree-huggers? Without hunger, capitalism would not survive. Hungry children work for pennies picking our cotton and sewing our clothes. We all eat food and drink tea grown in nations with starvation. We pay taxes used to send Marines to enforce the world order where a few have billions, while billions live in squalor. Where is the outrage? 

The tree sitters are life savers. They are saving our lives. It is time for the people of Berkeley to save them. 

Terry O’Brien 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

I came home from an appointment today and instead of going directly in the house, I took one of my rare trips to the corner store. On the way there, I saw two “We Pay Cash for Your House” placards stapled into our corner bus bench. I ripped those off and put them in the trash but the staples are still in the wood of the bench and could do some harm to someone. As I continued on my way, I saw a girl writing on the AC Transit bus sign/map with a Sharpie in broad daylight. I told her to stop it—she ignored me. I regretted having not brought my camera with me so that I could snap a picture of her in the act. I didn’t think to rip the Sharpie out of her hand but I’m sure if I did, I would have been the one getting in trouble with the police, ironically. 

I’m tired of people, including some people who live in this neighborhood, treating it as a giant toilet. Companies and politicians post their bills on benches and chain link fenced-vacant lots. Every day I find litter that is placed in my yard by passers-by as well as that which just blows in. Including crack baggies. I’m tired of having to hire someone to paint over graffiti that gets painted on my home with no help from the city in at least coming up with a discounted source of paint and painting implements. I’m tired of the lack of noise pollution enforcement. Some sounds like emergency vehicles and 18-wheelers can’t really be helped but the city can do something about the car stereos that blast so loudly that it rattles your whole house even though your doors and windows are closed. Enforce the laws on the books. It’s not like the city couldn’t use the revenue from the citations. 

We have another election coming up later this year. Not many choices in District 3. The City Council continues to ignore South and West Berkeley’s crime problems. The city has more homicides this year than I can ever remember it having before. Meanwhile, the mayor and the City Council put their energy into pronouncements on national policy. How about some local enforcement of laws on the books? How about listening to the residents of District 3 who have been clamoring for a comprehensive “broken windows” policy for Berkeley’s “Little Oakland”? 

M. Lynch 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Pre-K programs are recognized as a key component in school success. Yet, parents face bewildering and inconsistent choices—program quality varies widely, and only one in five children has access to state-funded, voluntary pre-k. 

It is shortsighted to shortchange the children of our society. We worry about funding social security and Medi-Cal, but wouldn’t those be more successful if we had a workforce which received excellent education from pre-school, especially in these days when so many families cannot afford to keep a parent full-time at home? 

Please support candidates who support voluntary, quality pre-K for all children! Sign the petition at today! 

Carol Crooks 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

Will “Swift Boat” patriotism smear Barack Obama as it did John Kerry? The mask of patriotism may be worn to conceal the foul designs of people and groups. 

There is a new patriotism that says dissent is patriotic—exercise your right—use it or lose it. Criticism is patriotic. The patriot is not afraid to criticize the flawed policies of the wayward Bush administration and the Republican anti-tax sham. 

Peace is patriotic; have a glorious Fourth of July. 

Ron Lowe 

Nevada City  




Editors, Daily Planet: 

How Senator John McCain brought the horse-and-buggy back, renounced militarism and became president: a fanciful tale: 

A few days after Sen. John McCain’s proposal for a three-hundred million dollar prize or bounty for a super auto battery was generally derided in the media and on the Internet, he made a new proposal. He offered a three hundred dollar cash prize to anyone who could produce a low-cost and environmentally-green form of personal transportation. 

Several hours after he made this offer public, he claimed his prize himself. He decided that a hay-fed and oats-fed horse pulling a light-weight buggy would fill the bill perfectly. He called it the McCain horse-and-buggy transportation system. At first, folks were skeptical, but after being hammered with gas costing upwards of four dollars a gallon, they were ready for some real change. Change they could believe in. Horse-and-buggies they could believe in. Back to the good old horse-and-buggy days? No, forward to the new improved groovy environmentally-green horse-and-buggy days. 

Folks across this great land decided that it was finally time to give up on their SUVs, and other vehicles powered by gasoline, diesel fuel or other oil derivatives. They began to lay out horse pastures, build barns, and storage areas for horses, buggies, sleighs, winter hay and other related things used back in the mid-19th century for ground transportation. Hay lofts came into vogue again. Farmers in the Midwest gave up growing corn for ethanol production and switched to growing oats for horses. People would say, “And that ain’t hay” and “Get a horse” in their conversations with their neighbors. 

Senator John McCain was riding high on his new found popularity. He realized that if America returned to the ground transportation used in the mid-19th century, that there would be little need for a large imperial U.S. army and navy to steal and secure oil resources abroad. So he renounced militarism, turned his back on his family’s three generations of service in the navy and looked to his 19th century farmer-ancestors for inspiration. McCain became vastly more popular with his renunciation of militarism. 

Kids were demanding cooked rolled oats as their breakfast cereal to be in solidarity with horses. America started a long transformation from a car and truck-based economy to a traditional 19th economy based on horse-drawn vehicles and the reliable iron horse (trains). Our dependence on foreign oil and even domestic oil rapidly declined. As we withdrew our overseas military forces from around the world, terrorist attacks rapidly declined. Senator McCain surpassed the charismatic Barack Obama in popularity and became President. Then Barack knew exactly how Hillary felt when she was passed by him back in the Democratic primary elections  

James K. Sayre 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Every gallon of water saved adds up. Here’s a suggestion that, if promoted widely, could save many thousands of gallons of water a day. By family agreement, men should now urinate in the bathroom sink and flush with one cup of cold water. Normally, urine is sterile. Cold water washes out the odor effectively. But could people overcome cultural convention and squeamishness? Would families agree on this? Toilets do not make sense for urine in a water scarce environment. 

Marc Sapir 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

There’s never a shortage of salient advice in Matt Cantor’s columns. I learn something useful and applicable toward my own house every week.  

However, just as one would hire an inspector before buying a house, or putting one on the market, it’s abundantly clear that the “About The House” column needs its own editorial inspection. Problems with grammar, spelling, and sentence construction are evident in nearly every column. These errors detract from the subject matter, and reflect poorly on the author, and the newspaper. 

What can be done to improve the process? Does anyone at the Daily Planet bother to proofread the copy before it’s laid out? 

Andrew Johnson