Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

Thursday July 17, 2008 - 09:51:00 AM


Editors, Daily Planet: 

Goodbye Dona Spring. Rest in peace. You were a champion of parks and recreation and youth. We will miss you. 

Zasa and Stephen Swanson 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I wish to thank Becky O’Malley for her editorial concerning the death of our beloved Dona Spring. While Kriss Worthington has both heart and brains, Dona was a rare woman who will be missed, but never forgotten. If Kriss was the brains, and Dona the heart of the City Council, where is our wizard, and who is the cowardly lion? 

With so many issues that Dona fought for (the warm pool, the tree-sitters) it is time for all of to organize and pull together as a people united in tribute to Dona and her amazing spirit. 

Lori Kossowsky 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

On June 20 Cody’s Books closed its doors forever. People will argue the causes of Cody’s closing. But I have no doubts on this matter. Cody’s was the victim of history. 

But it is less significant how one dies than how one lived. In this respect, Cody’s acquitted itself with honor and dignity. At the end of the day, when the record is written; it will be remembered that Cody’s added immeasurably to the life of the mind; that it profoundly enriched peoples lives; that it gave back more than it took; and that it was obedient to its own ideals. 

The doors close. The lights go out. The steadfast and courageous employees move on to new lives. Other book stores will come to serve Cody’s customers. But there will always be a place in our hearts for Cody’s. And it will serve as an inspiration for those who seek a better world. 

Good bye, Cody’s and good night. You have earned your rest. 

Andy Ross 

Former owner, Cody’s Books 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

“Oh yes, it’s planting three trees for every one destroyed in the construction. Aren’t they teaching arithmetic up there anymore? Exactly what’s the amount of carbon processed by a sapling, or any tree in its first 50 years or so, as compared to the efficiency of the mature trees which will be eliminated if UC has its way?” 

Slight correction to make: in very recent studies by the National Energy Technology Laboratory (basically, labs which study making energy policy more efficient in the United States and solving global warming issues, ie, very enviro-friendly), it was found that young trees, specifically those less than 50 years old, absorb far more CO2 than mature ones. 

The researchers also said there’s a natural way to sequester carbon—by planting trees. Young trees, those less than 50 years old, pull carbon dioxide from the air and put out oxygen, through photosynthesis. 

“A 50-year-old Douglas fir appears to be at its peak in terms of carbon sequestration,” O’Connor said. “On the other hand, an old-growth tree that’s growing very slowly doesn’t do a very good job of it. 

“Through photosynthesis, forests absorb carbon dioxide and store it in their trees and soil. Absorption is the greatest when trees are young and growing vigorously, and tapers off as they mature.” 

Just thought Ms. O’Malley might want to print a correction in the next issue, and perhaps re-learn some arithmetic. Thanks for doing that! 

Nathan Moss 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I have just returned from a short jaunt to South Lake Tahoe. As my stay was close to the South Lake Tahoe Safeway, I was in the store every morning for one thing or another. I was delighted with all it had to offer and excited that this would be how my new Safeway was going to be! I am a North Berkeley resident (also property owner and taxpayer) for the past 25 years. I find the current Shattuck Safeway unpleasing and often lacking in the products I want and need. I take the time and use the gas to drive to El Cerrito Plaza at least once a week to shop at that wonderful Lucky store, Trader Joe’s, and other offerings. I sincerely hope that the expansion and remodel will go forward as I for one would like to keep my dollars in Berkeley.  

Dorothy Snodgrass, in her July 3 letter, likened Berkeley to a one-horse hick town in her comments regarding downtown. I second that! 

Louise Brown 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I’d like to comment on last week’s commentary from Joseph Buddenburg. 

Mr. Buddenburg, you speak of being harassed by UCPD and BPD because you are an animal rights activist. You think this is wrong and the city needs to acknowledge you’re special. Are you not the same activist who goes to the university employees’ homes and harasses the families and neighbors with your yelling and screaming? That’s the pot calling the kettle black, Mr. Buddenburg. Maybe a group ought to be started that goes to the homes of animal protesters and chant and yell and see how your families and neighbors like this. Would you consider that fair game Mr. Buddenburg? 

Let me show you a quote from SF Gate: “In the hills above the University of California’s Berkeley campus, nine protesters gathered in front of the home of a toxicology professor, their faces covered with scarves and hoods despite the warm spring weather. One scrawled “killer” in chalk on the scientist’s doorstep, while another hurled insults through a bullhorn and announced, ‘Your neighbor kills animals!’ Someone shattered a window.” 

Protest their work ethics at their places of work. You and your group of “thugs” are upset because they aren’t taking your abuse, they are doing something about it. I congratulate the UC employees and hope they continue with this. I for one am applauding UCPD for involving the federal government with these acts of terrorism by the animal rights protesters. 

A person’s home is their sanctuary. It should be kept that way. 

Jane Smith 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I’m dying with laughter because Joseph Buddenberg can’t see the irony. He writes a commentary on how someone using legal methods can be annoying and threatening—everything Buddenberg himself does to private citizens all the time. It is hilarious that he thinks a cop saying “Until next time, Joseph!” is ominous, when one of his own, Dr. Jerry Vlasak, a spokesman for the Animal Liberation Front press office, encourages murder. In an interview with the Associated Press, he said he is not encouraging anyone to commit murder, but “if you had to hurt somebody or intimidate them or kill them, it would be morally justifiable.” If saying goodbye is ominous, what does Buddenberg think Vlasak’s comments are? 

I hope the UCPD continue any and all legal activity that will annoy, scare, and threaten Buddenberg. Welcome him to a taste of his own medicine. 

Dennis Lawlor 

Walnut Creek 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Charles Siegel and other pro-BRT people insist on calling me, and other anti-BRT people, “anti-environmentalists.” 

Sorry, Charles, you are wrong. I am pro-environment, and anti-BRT. 

I, and other pro-environment and anti-BRT people would like to see regional transportation programs which help commuters get out of their cars, which BRT does not. We need to address regional transportation needs, for commuters to Berkeley from Marin and Contra Costa, not just locally from Oakland and San Leandro. Alameda County commuters already have a good network of county transportation options (BART, for example) for people who want to commute from San Leandro or Oakland to Berkeley. BRT does not add much to an already good public transportation system. 

In addition, I and other pro-environment and anti-BRT people would like to see better local public transportation for people in Berkeley who want to get out of their cars, yet still get around town. BRT will actually reduce local public transportation by lengthening the distance between stops along the BRT route. AC Transit has been cutting lines and service locally, and there are no guarantees that this process will not continue. Instead of AC Transit’s extended Van Hool buses, we need a network of mini-buses from residential areas to shopping areas. 

BRT is a boondoggle in a green cloak that will cost lots of money, will disrupt local businesses and neighborhoods, all for saving a few minutes of time on a bus route that already functions quite well without the dedicated lanes. 

We need public transportation that meets public needs, not one created just because there is the opportunity to receive federal funding. 

Anne Wagley 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Charles Siegel always makes me think. His July 10 commentary, “Berkeley’s Anti-Environmentalist Movement,” chastising those who oppose the BRT boondoggle, made me think this: How have a group of frightened, stupid, thoughtless, ignorant, selfish, non-introspective, myopic, destructive, backward, small-town nay-sayers who “have not thought much about planning” managed to become “more effective” than the Cato Institute and the Heritage Foundation? 

If we knew the answer to that, we might solve a lot of problems. 

Sharon Hudson 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

I am an opponent of Bus Rapid Transit. I have a degree from UC Berkeley and 30 years of experience in engineering, specializing in efficiency analysis. I also live on Parker Street near College Avenue, and I do not agree with Charles Siegel that people in this neighborhood are a bunch of ignorant villagers who are “against everything.” 

I am opposed to BRT for several reasons. The biggest reason is just that it is unnecessary. Dedicating a lane for buses doesn’t really speed up bus traffic very much. With a traditional shared lane, buses and cars move together at the speed limit. With a dedicated bus only lane, buses still need to obey the speed limit, so they can’t go much faster than they would in a shared lane. All that a dedicated bus lane does is force the cars off the road, which is a very wasteful way to manage an expensive roadway. If a BRT bus runs every 15 minutes, the dedicated bus lane will be empty 99 percent of the time. During the 14 minutes when the bus is not driving down the BRT lane, approximately 100 cars could be using a shared lane. So the capacity of a shared lane could be 100 cars and one bus every 15 minutes, but the capacity of a BRT lane would only be one bus every 15 minutes. This is extremely wasteful, like leaving your shower running while you are at work, or leaving your oven on 24 hours a day. All the money, energy and greenhouse gases that go into building and maintaining a bus lane only go toward the one bus every 15 minutes, whereas for a shared lane, those resources are shared with car traffic. 

Another reason I oppose BRT is because it will move an additional 160 cars per hour onto College Avenue. I don’t know where on College Avenue those cars will go, because College is packed solid at rush hour. None of the BRT people have been able to tell me where those extra 160 cars will go either. I encourage them to explain it to me, if they can figure it out. 

The third reason I oppose BRT is because if it ever gets built, we will be stuck with it for decades, even after it becomes obvious to everyone what a bad idea it is. My neighbors and I will have to put up with more cars speeding down our residential streets, more noise, more pollution, more accidents. And all for nothing, because BRT won’t really fix any of the problems around here. 

Some people are so anxious to appear green that they will back any new project, no matter how foolish, just to act like they are doing something important. The residents of this neighborhood should not have to suffer the consequences of a mistake like BRT. 

Russ Tilleman 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

At this point, the “no lane removal without a vote” initiative seems to be Berkeleyans’ only hope of getting representative government on the issue of Bus Rapid Transit. This is unfortunate. On July 8 in special closed session, the Berkeley City Council decided that to pursue litigation in an attempt to remove the item from the November ballot is a mistake. I want to be optimistic about this, but I don’t want to be fooled either, and I suspect that the initiative may not be out of the woods at all with regard to a contentious legal challenge. 

Bear in mind that what is going on here is a struggle to give citizens and residents a say in massive land-use decisions which will affect them, not in small and regulatory decisions which would merely be jammed up by an electoral process. Opponents like to wave their arms about that other idea, but that is misdirection. This is a time when major land-use decisions are made through elite consensus of stakeholders that do not include the public. BRT is a good example because it is only through the “pulling of teeth” that this enormous issue is being guided meaningfully towards public awareness before it is actually a done deal. It is one thing to have the illusion of adequate public process, and quite something else to actually have it. In this case it is needed. 

This initiative is about voter approval on a very specific issue—removal of existing lanes on our streets from general traffic or parking use so that they may be “dedicated” only to buses and/or other high-occupancy vehicles. Such an alteration is not prohibited by the measure. What it does require is a a popular vote on a project-by-project basis. This need for a vote does not affect or apply to bus stops, bike lanes, construction zones, temporary dedications or even permanent lane restrictions as long as the lane in question ultimately remains mixed-use. But opponents would have you believe that the city couldn’t make some routine, minor and even maintenance decisions without voter approval. This is completely bogus. The initiative is well written. 

The real reason that people who are in the know want to stop this initiative is because it might actually stop BRT at the popular level if people think it is a bad idea for Berkeley. But there is an election coming up, and stomping on democracy before an election is unseemly. So it just makes sense from a strategic point of view to see if the initiative can be defeated, and if it can’t, then attack it legally after the election is over. 

People should expect a well-funded campaign to defeat this initiative, full of puffed-up rhetoric and misdirection. This will include misdirection claiming that the machinations of public process on this issue have been stellar, that the whole idea is a practical mess, and that we cannot allow ourselves to be ruled by a few unreasonable obstructionists in the way of progress. Voters should also be wary of a bogus competing initiative designed to confuse everyone and make them both fail. I sincerely hope the City Council will be above using this tactic, but we shall see. 

Joseph Stubbs 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The November ballot will now include a measure to require voter approval for a bus-only lane for Bus Rapid Transit. This is very democratic; maybe we should also vote on line items in the city budget. 

This anti-BRT measure appears to be motivated by the prospect of a bus-only lane for BRT on Telegraph. If that’s the real issue, shouldn’t we simply have a vote on whether to allow bus-only lanes for BRT—or whether we should have BRT at all? Well, there may be some shame about blocking a major improvement in bus service while we are supposed to be implementing a Climate Action Plan which calls for cutting the 29 percent of Berkeley’s greenhouse gas which now comes from cars. 

Is there a moral aspect to driving a car? Should car drivers who refuse to ride the bus be demonized like cigarette smokers in offices and bars? Or does everyone have a moral right to drive a car for all purposes, regardless of the environmental and health consequences? 

I’ve heard people complain about “conversion by ordeal"—feeling compelled to ride buses because traffic is too heavy and/or parking is not to be found. Some people think BRT, with a bus-only lane on Telegraph, would cause more traffic. These people discount the idea that increased bus use might result in fewer cars on the road. If someone does not see themselves using BRT to get to work, it’s easy to believe that other drivers will take the same attitude, that the buses will run empty and just clog the roads for cars. 

We would not need bus-only lanes at all if people going to work chose to ride 60 to a big bus instead of one to a car. Actually, BRT was proposed to motivate this change of behavior by making buses run faster. If we’re going to vote to prevent the BRT from running fast enough, what are we going to do to motivate the mode-shift? 

The group behind the anti-BRT measure claims that if we implement proof-of-payment boarding and deploy hybrid buses, the riders will come, leaving their cars at home. Do any of these people want to sign a pledge to ride their BRT substitute? 

Steve Geller 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I am writing to encourage people to obey the posted rules for keeping dogs on leash. 

Early this morning, I was in César Chávez Park for a run. At one point a lovely little jackrabbit ran by. Ten minutes later I saw what I presume was the same jackrabbit chased and caught by two otherwise friendly dogs. The dogs were in an area of the park where they are supposed to be on leash. The dogs’ owner and I watched the jackrabbit’s death spasms, which were doubtlessly as upsetting to the dogs’ owner as they were to me. It was a gruesome way to start the day. 

One of the reasons for the rules about dogs being on leash is to protect wildlife. I would like to remind dog owners that in general dogs need to be on leash in Berkeley unless they are within a formally designated off-leash area. 

William McCoy 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

A recent issue of the Daily Planet was overflowing with forward-thinking ideas for reducing our water and energy waste to combat both the drought and global warming crises. One letter writer cleverly advocated clotheslines and another proposed bringing back the age of the horse and buggy to replace the modern automobile. Perhaps the most imaginative idea was the proposal for sufficiently long-legged males in a household to urinate directly into the bathroom sink, thus saving a precious toilet flush. This recommendation reminds one of the old acrid-smelling European public toilet pissoires, which either had no plumbing attached to them or were rarely flushed. It’s not a bad idea, even if it discriminates on its face against women, children (who can’t reach the sink), lesbian couples, short-legged Central American immigrants and the disabled in wheelchairs. The old adage, “if it’s yellow let it mellow, if it’s brown flush it down” may have been sage advice in the pluvial 1970s when California had about half its current population and was awash in water before the current drastic effects of global warming threaten to turn our oasis state into a barren wasteland. 

In our family, we have gone a step further in our water and energy conservation efforts than just letting the grass dry out or peeing into the sink. We have brought back the chamber pot for everyone to use! Yes, prior to the relatively recent invention of indoor plumbing, for many thousands of years people have used simple, inexpensive reusable bedpans or chamber pots as an indoor bathroom convenience. It requires some adaptation of habits (try not to knock it over in the dark) and the sometimes redolent odors in the house on warm summer nights takes getting used to (imagine a porta-potty on a 105 degree day in the Central Valley), but the water savings are incalculable! Also, we borrowed the communal sponge idea from Asia, rather than continue the use of wasteful and unsanitary toilet paper to save our precious tree and paper product resources. But what about the ultimate disposal problem once the chamber pot nears overflowing? Well, we just pour it all into one large plastic trash can into which we add all of our other pet, garden and kitchen waste to form a nitrogen-rich compost stew (yum!). After a few short weeks, this sludge is ready to refresh your garden soil as peasants have done for countless generations the world over with both human and animal waste. Berkeley should show true communal leadership by handing out city-issued green-plastic chamber pots with the Berkeley city logo to every household as part of our broader recycling, conservation and water reduction program. Remember, as the old saying goes, “waste not, want not!” 

Edna Spector 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Marvin Chachere begins his July 10 commentary “Absurdity at the Top” by referring to “the late Jacques Barzun” of Columbia University. I’m pleased to report that Jacques Barzun is alive and well and living in San Antonio, where he was still writing as of his 100th birthday last November. 

Edward A. Hoffman 

Los Angeles 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Berkeley High School desperately needs more classrooms. Ask any of the teachers or students, who number more than 3,000. Teachers have to move from room to room every 50 minutes, so they can’t personalize and enrich classroom environments. Students can’t find teachers to ask about homework assignments or request explanations about materials presented in class. So why, given this critical need, are people who want to continue swimming or maintaining a public-access studio at the Berkeley High campus able to pressure the Berkeley City Council into helping them permanently grab space at the high school? I’d like to run an equestrian camp for teens. How do I get on the city gravy train and abscond with BUSD property for myself and my small band of followers? 

The only place to build more classrooms for BHS is on the BHS campus. Swimmers can go to the Y warm pool, which is two blocks away and the same temperature. Public-access media personnel can set up camp anywhere. BHS students and teachers, however, can’t go elsewhere.  

Our high school students and their long-suffering teachers must have the BHS campus for their own purpose, which is to educate students in adequate classrooms. How can this idea even be controversial? Surely everyone, even in Berkeley, would agree that the best use of school property is to teach, not to provide space for a warm pool or public media access. Putting personal needs above the needs of a school community is the pinnacle of selfishness, and the Berkeley City Council needs to quit interfering with the Berkeley Unified School District’s use of its own property. 

Maureen Burke 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

What is mayoral candidate Zachary Running Wolf going to think when he finds out that Doug Buckwald wrote a commentary with candidate Shirley Dean? Sounds like trouble. One other item the Daily Planet readers might like to know that Becky O’Malley forgot to mention is that Cal is playing the Indian Institute of Technology I think sometime in November. Go Bears!  

Matthew Shoemaker 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I dread these presidential campaigns. The race card was played against a Greek-American not so long ago, so this year is anybody’s guess. The race card is played because it works and it works because afrophobia is so wide spread, not only in this country, but in the rest of the world as well. I’m pretty up on my history and have never ran across any mention of black folks tinkering with governments in Latin America, nor colonizing anybody, or flooding countries with opium, or sending American families to the desert or dropping atomic weapons. And yet so much fear, ill will and open hostility, even here in “liberal” Berkeley. 

Zac Morrison 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

For decades, I have watched the political ascent of Dianne Feinstein—California’s Joe Lieberman—after Dan White’s assassination of George Moscone made her mayor of San Francisco. She has always been a person of limited intelligence but boundless ambition and greed who cloaked her fundamental Republican sympathies in the filmiest of Democratic drag. She has been able to do so while the San Francisco Chronicle covered for her extraordinarily lucrative public-private partnership with her financier husband, Richard Blum (now chair of the UC Regents.) Despite (or because of) her consistent legislative enablement of the Cheney/Bush regime and of the military-industrial-media complex, Chronicle articles often describe her as “California’s respected centrist Democrat” and praise her “bipartisanship.” But then, the Chronicle has always represented those corporate interests who are Feinstein’s real constituents and with whose executives and campaign donors she and her husband socialize at their five lordly mansions. (See my book Imperial San Francisco: Urban Power, Earthly Ruin for the dynastic history of the Chronicle before the Hearsts bought it. For the story of Feinsteins-Blum’s conflict of interest, see Peter Byrne’s investigation at 

Dianne Feinstein went the extra mile on Wednesday, voting against an amendment that would have stripped the already awful FISA bill of immunity for the telecom companies which illegally spied on American citizens. Two days before, she sent her would-be constituents a temporizing letter explaining why she would, once again, give the most unpopular president in history everything he wanted. As with her unconscionable explanation of why she voted to confirm Michael Mukasey as attorney general, she simply restated Bush’s talking points on why he needed legal cover for his crimes.  

In deleting the Fourth Amendment from the Constitution that she swore to defend and uphold, Dianne Feinstein (with Nancy Pelosi earlier) committed an act of bald treason. I urge everyone to vote to censure her and assure that she never holds “public” office again.  

Gray Brechin 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I work in Berkeley and live in Walnut Creek. I take BART to work and in the morning it works OK. The problem is in the evening commute and on Saturday. Take BART from downtown Berkeley to MacArthur. The train going to Walnut Creek is waiting on the other platform. You hustle to get to the train as fast as you can. As soon as you make it on to the platform the train operator shuts the door and you are left waiting for the next train. This is not a one-time deal, it happens all the time and at different times. 

I have seen people run like they are being chased by the Berkeley cops from a peace protest, and they still don’t make it. Saturday is just horrible overall. Hey BART officials, people work on Saturdays, too. 

Serge Blandon 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Commenting on the letter from Yolanda Huang in the July 10 issue: I’m sorry her son’s bike was wrecked, glad he wasn’t hurt. Her concerns about safety are very well founded, but I’m afraid that what she proposes as a solution—riding on the sidewalk—is definitely not the answer. I’ve been riding around town for 60 years and have yet to be hit by a car. As a child I rode on sidewalks, but as an adult I make it point not to do it. Absolutely never downtown—if I need to go along the sidewalk I dismount and walk the bike. In quiet neighborhoods I sometimes ride on the sidewalk for short distances if there are no pedestrians, but before I pass a pedestrian I dismount.  

It’s possible to ride on the streets with reasonable safety, but it takes practice and training. Ms. Huang and her son and others could find information about League of American Bicyclists-certified classes on the East Bay Bicycle Coalition (EBBC) or Bicycle Friendly Berkeley Coalition (BFBC) websites, or posted at bike shops in the area—try the Missing Link, on Shattuck near University. I was a long-time veteran street rider when I took the League course called “Road 1” in 2002, and I learned an immense amount; the course has definitely contributed to my ongoing survival.  

As a pedestrian, I’ve been hit by bikes—three times in Berkeley—and had any number of frightening near-misses. I’ve inadvertently pushed my garbage bin out of my driveway into the paths of speeding bikes so many times that I now look both ways whenever I step out of my yard, just as if I were crossing a street. I’m large, healthy and robust, it takes a good hit to knock me down, but what if I were 90 years old and frail? People need a place where they’re protected from contact with wheeled vehicles of all sorts, and the way American towns are laid out, the sidewalk is it.  

I strongly disagree with Ms. Huang, I support the law against sidewalk riding downtown. Frankly, I hope she gets that ticket she’s waiting for; it might motivate her to look for a better answer. I think people are people regardless of how they transport themselves, and just as motorists take chances with the safety of cyclists, cyclists will take chances with the safety of pedestrians, and for most of the same reasons—impatience, inattention, and a sort of failure of empathy that crowded conditions seem to bring on. Unhappily, we all need some sensible regulations to remind us to do the right thing—would it were otherwise, but it isn’t.  

David A. Coolidge 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I really enjoy them. Thanks for the light moments in a dangerous time. 

Richard Phelps 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

We need peace within to enable peace in the wider world. All our efforts to bring forced friendliness and democracy will not have a positive outcome. I hear how we have lost international standing because of our style of dealings with other nations. I don’t believe in forced understanding. I like to talk things over with the people, and wait patiently for good results to emerge. 

War creates fear and leads inevitably to retaliation. We should devote our attention instead to learning about other people’s thought processes. 

Let us also practice staying centered in our own lives and resolving our personal problems with patience. The influence of our peaceful way of resolving small conflicts is bound to ripple out to the wider human community. 

Romila Khanna 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

Iran sent a clear signal last week that they have achieved the possibility of mutually assured destruction (MAD). This is the same stalemate we faced with the Soviet Union during the Cold War. 

An aide to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in regards to military threats, “Our initial response would be to target Israel and set U.S. interests in the Persian Gulf ablaze.” That statement, along with their display of missile capability, makes it plain that Iran could and would destroy the oil ports, refining, and storage facilities of the neighboring gulf states. That action could immediately collapse the entire global economy. 

Defending the straits of Hormuz is irrelevant if there is no oil to ship. The complete ineffectiveness of Israel’s air power and army in stopping Hezbollah’s Iranian supplied missiles is an object lesson on our power to neutralize that threat. 

It is time for us to use the same effective strategy that eliminated the nuclear threat from other chronically belligerent, expansionist powers such as Great Britain and Russia: Establish friendly relations. 

There are no military options unless suicide is an option. It is time to talk. 

Thomas Laxar 

El Cerrito 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

A proposal to develop the vacant lot at 401 Colusa Avenue/corner of Ocean View into a three-story building for street-level businesses and three condominiums is being presented at the Contra County Planning Commission Tuesday 22 July at 651 Pine St., Martinez. 

This lot now provides eight to 10 off-street parking spaces. Those spaces will be lost. And, instead of adding more parking for these activities, the proposal provides for 33 percent fewer parking spaces than are required under Contra Costa County guidelines. The Colusa Circle Improvement Association (CCIA) opposes the parking variance that would be needed. 

The 401 Colusa development is not the only one to create parking impacts. Other currently scheduled projects—the Hammond Project and Narsai’s development—have already received parking variances. 

Inadequate parking proposed in the 401 Colusa development will directly affect North Berkeley residents. Overflow parking from the Circle—with additional noise, fumes, and traffic—could spill over to nearby Berkeley streets—eg, Colusa south of the Circle towards Solano Avenue and Visalia on either side of Colusa. 

Increased congestion from parking problems in the Circle can cause back-ups between Solano and Fairmont Avenues at any time of day and, particularly, during morning and evening rush hours. Gridlock produces fumes and diminishes air quality. 

Colusa Avenue is the main vehicle connection between Solano Avenue/Thousand Oaks neighborhood and Fairmont Avenue, El Cerrito Plaza, BART, and freeways. It is used by cars, trucks, AC Transit buses, and bicyclists. Double-parked delivery trucks already impede traffic. 

Residents of North Berkeley shop in the Circle. Without adequate short-term parking it will be difficult to stop and shop at the Market or Semi-Freddi’s. Or leave shoes for repair. With fewer parking spaces, trips to the vet and drop-offs/pick-ups at the nursery school will be more difficult. Walking and biking are not always realistic choices. 

To support the Colusa Circle Improvement Association and its efforts to provide adequate parking, contact Supervisor John Gioia at or Ryan Hernandez, county planner, at 

Barbara Witte 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Hello.....Watson? Can you hear me? This is what the new Blue Tooth / Hand and Brain-Free law amounts to. After grappling with this cumbersome technology, which is supposedly created to keep the roads safe from distracted drivers, I can only long for the days when yelling excitedly across a telephone line actually was worth the effort. This new “consumer convenience,” and the law that has brought it on, has got to be one of the biggest frauds that the political machine has ever foisted on the public. Let me understand: It’s OK to turn our visual attention while driving 70 miles an hour, or through rush hour lunacy, to the Lilliputian keypads of our increasingly minuscule cell phones to dial out. Yet, it’s forbidden to “hold the phone to your ear.” It’s legally permissible to diddle around with our GPS devices, and poke through the circumlocutious menus of our car stereos but, hey...hold the phone to your ear while driving? Don’t think so! The biggest irony is that the law is supposed to prevent being distracted by communicating with someone while driving. Hello! Ever heard of passengers? Getting these devices to work with any facility has got to be more dangerous than any of the aforementioned activities that pre-occupy drivers all the time. Meanwhile, politicians and corporations are happily going along for the ride. 

Marc Winokur 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

As surely as day follows night, Monday morning newspapers will continue to report the killings that occurred in the East Bay over the weekend. In recent weeks there have been as many as five or six murders in a two-day period. Fortunately, there was just one reported shooting in today’s paper—that of a 15-year-old boy—bringing the total murder rate in Oakland this year to 72, with five months remaining. As with all shooting victims, they’re rushed to Highland Hospital where attempts to save them are mostly futile. With bullet-ridden bodies lining emergency rooms, Highland has become a veritable Chamber of Horrors. One can only imagine the high level of stress physicians and nurses experience amidst this gory scene, which is repeated week after week. 

Furthermore, what a nightmare these killings must be for all the good citizens residing in East Oakland, terrorized by senseless drive-by shootings; a mourner killed at a memorial service for his friend shot in a gun battle; a young boy shot while at piano practice, left paralyzed for life; parents losing a son for the second time to gun fire; children forbidden to play outdoors on their own street; and people afraid to step out of their houses in broad daylight. 

For this reign of terror—and how else can it be described—we need look no further than the United States Supreme Court for its shameful rejection of a ban on handguns. With this decision, the court has, in effect, declared that all Americans have a constitutional right to die from gunshot wounds! 

Dorothy Snodgrass 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Mr. Allen-Taylor compares Ms. Edgerly to Henry Gardner and Robert Bobb and says that officials and others were quick to pounce because she didn’t have the “natural political defenses” of these two and was unable or unwilling to craft a positive political image or an “independent theory of city governance” by which to measure her accomplishments. 

I would point out that the crucial difference between Ms. Edgerly and the other two is that they were city managers, with extensive power to run the city under the weak-mayor, city-manager form of government. They were appointed by and reported to the City Council. Oakland has a strong-mayor system now. (No, no wisecracks about Dellums as a strong mayor.) Edgerly was city administrator, appointed by and serving at the pleasure of the mayor and accountable to him or her. She was not in a position to develop an independent theory of governance—what a grand notion!—and her job was, or should be, bureaucratic. She was the operations person. 

Big difference. Did Ms. Edgerly function in that capacity and did she administer the rules of city government even-handedly and fairly? We will find out eventually. 

Despite his sometimes insistence that he is not defending her, this does not ring true. Granted that the very serious charges that were bandied about have not been substantiated. But to show up (didn’t she?) during a police operation against a nephew raises at the very least questions about propriety and procedure, and gives the appearance of impropriety (doesn’t it?). In the great world beyond, that is enough for an office holder to take him or herself off the job—with pay of course—while the matter is pending, and gets to make a great speech about allowing the great work of (fill in the blank) to continue unimpeded by these egregious, outrageous, and totally false accusations etc etc. Mr. Allen-Taylor writes elsewhere that her intervention could have been nothing more than concern for a young relative. I find that to be a stretch and again, seems to be part of a defense of her actions. In addition, she’s the damn city administrator! The rules are different. 

Her willingness to thrust herself into this situation raises serious questions, whether criminality is involved or not. Personally, I think that we will find criminal activity in city government, not necessarily directly tied to Edgerly, but to employees with ties to criminal enterprises outside government.  

But coming at a time of serious and brazen crime in Oakland, an apparently somnolent mayor who has lacked either the will or skill to be a political leader in the city, and major efforts to restructure and expand the police department, the city administrator’s intervention hit a nerve with the public, and in my opinion, rightly so. It just smelled real bad and action needed to be taken fast—action based on an appearance of impropriety that would remove the issue from the political workings of the city. A responsible city administrator would have taken him/herself out immediately, in my opinion. 

Jason Mundstuk 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

There are certainly reasons to consider impeachment. History will judge Bush, but also judge us for not at least starting impeachment proceedings. 

Harry Gans 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I notice lately a plethora of signs for a painting company stuck in the median strips along several streets, including Sacramento and San Pablo. While it doesn’t bother me to have an occasional yard sale sign there (they usually get removed promptly), or even a “Home Open” sign, which is there just for the day of open house, it really rankles to imagine what happens if this precedent is allowed to stand. There will be nothing to stop every other company from taking these much-needed green strips and filling them with advertising. Our visual and psychic spaces are already crammed with ads; enough already, in fact more than enough! How many civic nuisances, from cell-phone overuse to ear-splitting car stereo abuse, got a toehold because people didn’t realize how they would proliferate? 

I suggest that like-minded folks contact the code enforcement office of the city and urge them to have the company remove the signs at once. They violate city code. If you don’t see prompt results.... well, you’ll find that personal action is not difficult. And keep your eyes open for the next attempt to turn the still-uncommercialized parts of our environment into advertising space. 

Peggy Datz 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

In terms of content there were no surprises in your latest editorial about UC Berkeley’s athletics program and our plans for a new training facility. The Planet’s positions are certainly predictable. The tone of the piece was, however, startling. Why all that personal animus? How does vitriol help promote constructive dialogue and debate? 

While the editorial did raise important issues about which reasonable people can disagree, a productive discussion about the role and relevance of athletics at a major research university is difficult when those you differ with are demonized. What follows are but a few examples of how, perhaps, anger and bias are hindering the newspaper’s important pursuit of facts, context and objective analysis without regard for their potential impact on pre-existing opinion. 

The editorial drew an unfavorable comparison between Berkeley and Harvard based on the supposition that our Ivy League pals give short shrift to athletics. Yet, even a cursory review of publicly available information reveals that Harvard’s intercollegiate program is far larger than our own. In fact, it’s the largest Division I program in the country. Whoops. 

Reference was also made to those “untold millions” UC Berkeley spends on athletics. If the Planet had ever asked we would have been delighted to tell you that our annual expenditure is about $9 million, a figure that represents less than one percent of our annual budget.  

The editorial casts doubt on the university’s need for a new facility. That is a legitimate line of questioning, so why not arrange for a reporter to get a first-hand look at the existing infrastructure? Come on over and test your assumptions. Our doors are open. 

Finally, there is the aspersion cast on the viability of our plans to retrofit and improve Memorial Stadium. So, why not seek out truly independent Alquist-Priolo experts who could validate—or challenge—the campus’ complete confidence that the job can and will be done within the confines of the law? You could also place a call to the City of Los Angeles and ask about the valuation model they use when retrofitting structures straddling an active fault line. (Hint: It’s the same as ours.) 

Finally, a word about the personal animus—you might want to hold a bit in reserve just in case we ever actually meet. You could discover a person far more objectionable than you ever imagined…or not. 

Dan Mogulof 

Executive Director 

Office of Public Affairs 

UC Berkeley 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

It’s time for city officials and our planning staff to be honest about the real scope of the proposed Bus Rapid Transit project. Some transportation planners and proponents have acknowledged in candid moments that having a BRT route only on Telegraph (and terminating in downtown Berkeley) really doesn’t make a lot of sense. Some have even admitted that the ultimate goal is to create a network of BRT buses on major streets throughout the whole city, giving exclusive use of many traffic lanes to AC Transit—and in the process, squeezing all cars, trucks, other buses, and bikes off to the side into a single lane. 

Mayor Bates’ comments at the last City Council meeting lend support to this possibility. When discussing ballot language for the citizens’ initiative requiring public input before designating exclusive lanes for BRT, Bates said, “You do Telegraph, then you do Shattuck, then you do University, then you do Solano…” If this really is the BRT master plan, then it should be revealed in detail in the light of day, not in a brief comment late at night at a poorly-attended city meeting. 

It’s time for this Council to start governing in the open, and not just behind closed doors. What has happened to democracy in our city? Is it that they think we are too ignorant to offer reasonable suggestions about our transit needs? Or are they just afraid to let the people have a voice? 

It’s time to let the sun shine on the whole shady BRT planning process. The citizens’ initiative (requiring a vote of the people before giving up our right to use the streets we paid for) is a good first step. 

Casey Silva 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

In his July 10 commentary, Charles Siegel refers to “a petition to stop better public transportation.” What is he talking about? The whole problem with AC Transit’s BRT proposal is that it’s bad public transportation chasing a pot of public money. 

If dedicated lanes were implemented on Telegraph Avenue, the local buses would become a problem. To solve this, AC transit officials have decided that eliminating the local bus stops works for them. Taking away the local stops seems mean-spirited to me; obviously it would be a hardship to riders for whom walking is painful or difficult. 

Most people I’ve talked to want more frequent service with smaller buses. But AC Transit Board member Greg Harper said in a public meeting that that would never happen—bus drivers are too expensive. (If running small buses frequently is too expensive, how would AC afford to run humongous buses frequently for BRT?). 

Emily Wilcox, a Berkeley resident who is disabled, wrote in a June 10 letter to the Planning Commission, “I oppose implementing the elaborate, lane-grabbing, version of Bus Rapid Transit proposed for Telegraph Avenue. My primary reasons are the resulting long-term operating expense increases for a service adjacent to an existing BART line and the consequences of the budget crisis that will inevitably follow.” 

Later in the letter she explains, “. . . In the past, para-transit users have been cut from the service due to the elimination of fixed-routes. One day you are near enough to a fixed-route and eligible. The next day—due to route cuts and the three-fourths mile requirement—you are not.” 

Charlie Betcher, former president of the Bus Rider’s Union, readily signed our petition to require voter approval for dedicated bus lanes. He told me that he heard a news clip reporting that if BRT were successful, AC Transit would be able to cut 50 percent of their local lines. Is that Siegel’s view of better public transportation? It sure isn’t mine. 

Gale Garcia 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I was so proud of my kids when I read the article about what they are doing along with eight other kids in South Berkeley, sanding and painting benches. What confused me was the assumption that they are “at-risk” youths, maybe because they said to the reporter that they walk from the B-Tech to Adeline? And the B-Tech is an alternative school for trouble kids. As far as I know these teenagers applied in the Youth Works program from the city of Berkeley in March to get a job in the summer and Youth Works is a completely different program from B-Tech. So, please don’t make assumptions. These children not only are changing the face of a street with their beautiful art but they are showing other kids and the community what they can in their free time. They are also learning how to work, and they chose to do it the hard way. I didn’t tell my kids what job to do during the summer. My daughter had the chance to work at an office but she decided to paint benches and make her own designs and my son is working as a volunteer. 

The article “At-Risk Youth Beautify South Berkeley with Art Projects” should be named “Ten Hard Working Youth Beautify South Berkeley with Art Projects.”  

Diana Ortiz-Rodriguez 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

Subtle ironies make the monthly KPFA board meetings entertaining. There are scenes such as this one that occurred last month, when it was reported that WBAI, the Pacifica sister station in New York, had asked for a loan of $20,000 to send their delegates to a Pacifica National Board meeting. 

That loan request was indignantly and adamantly opposed by several KPFA board members on the grounds that WBAI had grossly mismanaged itself, consequently gone deeply into debt and therefore lacked the money. “I don’t want to send KPFA listeners’ money to a station that’s been so irresponsible!” they declared, one after another. 

It’s true that WBAI is in horrible shape due to years of mismanagement—nothing new about that. But what amazed me was that these zealous watchdogs were all members of the so called “Concerned Listeners” (CL) faction—the very ones who had consistently, year after year, played co-dependent to WBAI, making it possible for the people operating that station to run it into the ground. 

I could scarcely believe my ears. Clearly, the CL faction had seen the light and gotten religion, at long last! Overnight, they’d suddenly become born-again converts to the narrow path of righteousness and responsibility! Or did I miss something? 

Yes, I had indeed missed something: It turns out that when all the votes of the NY station’s election of last fall were finally counted—thanks to a court order—the former ruling faction of that station had lost their majority on their Local Station Board. The mismanagers were out, and new people were in. The ousted faction had been staunch allies of CL & Co. So this meant that the new WBAI board would presumably be sending delegates to the national board who won’t be supporting Pacifica’s management clique. 

Daniel Borgström 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

Dona Spring really loved the trees in Memorial Oak Grove, and spoke eloquently on many occasions calling for their protection. Let’s save them for her. 

Doug Buckwald 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

There ain’t no goodwill left in the GOP! People are losing their jobs, houses, health insurance, and having trouble filling up the gas tank. Yet, Republican and former Texas senator Phil Gramm says: Get over it, it’s all in your head. 

Very real suffering has descended upon tens of millions of Americans; It’s time that we face up to the hard facts. The Bush-led economy and its anti-tax ideology is not working.  

Will four more years of John McCain and war and another Republican administration fix things? Has seven years of George Bush and war and GOP deficit spending created a viable economy? 

Ron Lowe  

Nevada City