Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

Monday September 08, 2008 - 12:59:00 PM


Editors, Daily Planet: 

I have but one word for you, your reporters, Ayr, Dumpster Muffin, Doug Buckwald and all the other crazies who have tormented my alma mater for the past year and a half: TIMBERRRRRRRRRRR! 

Jeff Ogar 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Chancellor Birgeneau brings shame upon himself and the University of California at Berkeley by supporting the decision to destroy the Memorial Stadium oak grove in order to build an athletic building in the wrong place. To order the destruction of these magnificent trees when our planet needs more trees, not fewer, is unconscionable. And Chancellor Birgeneau makes himself responsible for the harm that will come to students and staff when the predicted earthquake breaks the surface on the Hayward Fault beneath Memorial Stadium and the new athletic facility. 

It is terrible to see this once-great state institution of higher learning subverted to serve athletics and business and technology and profits instead of the education and intellectual growth of young Californians. 

Charlene M. Woodcock 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The university seldom permits science to get in the way when the opportunity to make big money beckons.  

Several decades ago, against the advice of Dr. John Gofman and others, it conducted extraordinarily reckless radiological experiments that have bequeathed to us all cancers. Regents, scientists, and engineers got rich on literally trillions of dollars squandered on the nuclear arms race, and the rest of us were left holding the oncological bomb they made. 

Now the university is compounding the original sin of building a stadium in one of the most dangerous places in California against the advice of eminent geologists such as Dr. Garniss Curtis. I presume that the Regents and administrators have limited liability so that when the inevitable catastrophe occurs, it will be us—the people of California—who will have to pay for their folly.  

I, for one, will never step into that Venus flytrap of a stadium. 

Gray Brechin 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Alameda County Superior Court Judge Frank Roesch should have recused himself from hearing the ridiculous case against the ballot statement of AC Transit Board challenger Joyce Roy. At the hearing he admitted that he is also a friend of incumbent Chris Peeples and the so-called independent resident (William Rowan) who brought the complaint against Roy for calling spades what they are. If purchasing buses from a Belgian company—instead of buying them from U.S. bus manufacturers—does not effectively send jobs overseas, I don't know what does. AC Transit requested bids in such a way that only one manufacturer fit the specs—effectively a no-bid process. Since the Van Hools went online, I've met only one AC Transit driver who said he likes them. (I usually ask, because I'd like them to vanish.) I don't think Roy's statements were out of line, and this lawsuit sounds like a cabal to me. (And an act of desperation.) Peeples can't seem to get it through his head that many AC Transit riders loathe these buses, and that as a board member he should be looking out for the agency's financial health and the health of its riders. The Van Hool buses are detrimental to both. 

Joan Lichterman 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

As we have been witnessing, people from different parts of Berkeley have been opposing the installation of cell-phone antennas in their neighborhoods. In the early 2000s, it was around Solano Avenue; in 2002-2004, it was around 1600 Shattuck Ave.; in the past two years, it has been around UC Storage on the southside. 

Currently Verizon plans to install 10 antennas and the corresponding equipments at the French Hotel at 1540 Shattuck Ave. In the vicinity of this hotel, there are three antennas at 1600 Shattuck and four more at 2095 Rose (at Shattuck). 

In order to push its application, Verizon had a meeting with the neighbors of the French Hotel on Sept. 3. Five people attended this meeting and all opposed Verizon's plan. In this meeting, one of the Verizon agents revealed that the new Telecommunication Ordinance has not been ratified. That is, there is no working ordinance available at this point. Thus, the question are: Why is the city Planning Department having a Zoning Adjustments Board public hearing on Sept. 11 to decide on use 

permit for the French Hotel antennas? If there is no ordinance, based on what will ZAB decide? This is a kind of lawlessness. What happened to the rule of law? 

Is ZAB going to rubber stamp yet another application? 

Besides, District 4 does not have a councilmember. Neighbors of the French Hotel plan to fight Verizon's plan and need the guidance and support of their councilmember (who will be elected in the November elections.) 

Therefore, we the neighbors of the French Hotel would like to ask you and the Planning Department to postpone the ZAB public hearing on Verizon's application until there is an approved Telecommunications Ordinance and until there will be a councilmember for District 4. The public hearing should be postponed. 

Shahram Shahruz 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Our sincerest gratitude to your newspaper, and to the excellent reporter Richard Brenneman, for the continued quality coverage of the lawlessness in Richmond. 

Citizens for East Shore Parks successfully sued the City of Richmond for the second time in the past couple of years because Richmond continues to break the rules. The public has a basic right to know the impacts of a project before signing off on it. The majority on the Richmond Council has trampled that right the last two times gambling money has been promised. 

Congratulations also to Contra Costa Superior Court Judge Barbara Zuniga, who saw through the self-serving arguments of the casino proponents and ruled that the city had to do an environmental impact study before considering the casino project. 

Our environmental protections are essential for the 12 species along our East Bay Shoreline whose existence is threatened and who rely on the bay for survival; and for the residents of the East Bay who rely on the bay for recreation, sustenance and renewal. The continued loss of species and habitat on our small planet ought to be reason enough to protect the environment. Failing that, cities should at least abide by the law. 

Robert C. Cheasty 

President, Citizens for East Shore Parks 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The only candidate who is running for mayor who has pushed for an extremely strong version of the Sunshine Ordinance is Zachary Running Wolf. 

Before you write off Wolf as a radical or extremist, note that he has the strongest platform of any mayoral candidate and is by far the most green as he does not own a car and bikes everywhere. 

Do you want more people that are just tools of the university? 

Or do you want a man who will stand up for the needs of the people?! 

John Samos 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

If I were in downtown Berkeley and wanted to travel to San Leandro, I could take a normal bus, which takes about 90 minutes or the faster 1R, arriving in about 75 minutes. I could hop on BART and be there in 32 minutes. I could also drive, arriving in 25-35 minutes depending on traffic. BRT wants us to pay another couple hundred million to be able to arrive by bus in 60 minutes. I fail to see the huge advantage in this. Yes, when I ride the bus, I prefer to go faster. But lopping off 20 minutes from an 80-minute commute is not worth $450 million, especially when I can carpool, drive or take BART and get there in half that time. None of the other BRT positives (surface connectedness, decreased emissions) and negatives (Telegraph lanes) really matter because these numbers are so abysmal. It’s laughable that this proposal is even considered for funding—we must be quite wealthy. 

Furthermore, I am offended when planners/supporters mention as their BRT goal "forcing drivers out of their cars" as has been said numerous times in this paper. The goal ought to be congestion reduction and transportation improvement, not behavioral modification. If people need to drive, let them make their own choices as to whether it's best for them rather than assessing their situation from a distance and determining that they shouldn't be driving. Doing so is elitist and condescending—no one likes other people's beliefs imposed upon them, even if in the name of environmentalism. 

Damian Bickett 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Regrettably, we hear very little in the media about vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin's attempt at censorship when she was mayor of Wasilla, Alaska. Why? Maybe the public doesn't want to be confused or embarrassed by unsavory facts in light of Palin's speech at the Republican Convention. To me, her attempt at censorship is alarming, especially for a vice presidential candidate. Censorship violates the First Amendment, a fundamental principle of a democracy. Just what happened? 

Back in 1996, when she first became mayor of Wasilla, Sarah Palin asked Mary Ellen Emmons, the city librarian, three times—one time in an open City Council meeting—about possibly removing objectionable books from the library if the need arose. Emmons flatly refused to consider any kind of censorship. Emmons then got a letter from Palin asking for her resignation. She refused. Palin later said the letter was just a test of loyalty. Palin fired Emmons, but was forced to rescind her action after Wasilla residents made a strong show of support. 

This incident was widely reported in the Alaska press at the time. Therefore, John McCain or his staff knew or should have known about the incident. Yet, McCain still selected her as his running mate. I, therefore, conclude that he approves of Palin's attempts at censorship or more likely, decided for political reasons to ignore the incident. He needed Palin to solidify support of the Republican's right wing base.  

We already have an administration that has been accused of suppressing or censoring information that goes against their political and religious leanings. I for one do not want another leader of questionable character leading our nation. This is not "change;" this is more of the same. 

Ralph E. Stone 

San Francisco 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I take issue with Becky O'Malley's editorial about feminists and Sarah Palin. While I disagree with Palin's positions on just about all the critical issues, and I feel McCain's choice of her as a vice presidential candidate shows his poor judgment, I don't think feminists can properly criticize Palin for not staying home to raise her young children.  

The basic tenet of feminism, as I see it, is that women and men should have equal opportunities. Parents of either gender are responsible to make sure that their children are well cared for, but that doesn't necessarily mean that the mother must stay at home to do the job. Fathers, aunts, uncles, grandparents, other relatives, friends, and professional child care workers can, and often do, fulfill the bulk of child rearing responsibilities in many families to the benefit of the children they care for. Some women are particularly good at childcare; so are some men; and some of both genders are less suited to this role by temperament, experience, age, and other factors. In my own family, I was more ambitious about my career and received more satisfaction from it than my husband did from his, and before we had children we often bantered that he'd be a better father than I would a mother. In the late 1960s, when our children were 1 and 3 years old, through a series of circumstances we decided to make the switch, unusual at that time: I would be the primary breadwinner and he the primary child raiser. My children benefited enormously from having a stay-at-home dad.  

Now many more families choose that way of life, and it pleases me greatly to see wider acceptance of fathers and male caregivers at playgrounds, preschools, and parent-participation events at elementary schools. 

Let's not take a step backward from the feminist impetus to give greater choice of family roles to both genders just because we dislike a particular female politician who has chosen to have others handle the bulk of care for her children while she pursues her career. Unless we demand the same from men, chiding Sarah Palin on this issue is an anti-feminist stance. 

Zipporah Colllins 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I was surprised to hear Becky O'Malley sounding so old-world conventional. So much has been put onto parents they've become largely insufferable. They've certainly been irritating their children beyond measure, to the point the children have been behaving crazed. They don't have time unsupervised except in rare cases—you know, time to just be on their own meandering in the neighborhoods and to places where friends gather and figure out games to play and places to explore. 

I realize our living has become more threatening these last 50-60 years than when I was so new. But parents and teachers need to back off. Parents being able to be part of the community working outside the home is a good thing—if the job is good, which it too often isn't—but that's another issue. 

Meanwhile, the endless list of how unbelievably abhorrent are our candidates wrongly calls her to mother her children. It'll get done—too much. 

Norma J F Harrison 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Please stand up to the Republican attempt to define feminism in the discussion of vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. She is anti-abortion, anti-gay, anti-gun control, anti-environmental protection, and anti-science. In addition her ethics are dubious, despite her self-characterization as a reformer. Those positions aren’t part of any feminism I recognize. Feminist values are inclusive, egalitarian, serious about social welfare and environmental stewardship, rational, fair, and never demeaning of others. 

Sarah Palin is a brilliant political weapon: discriminatory, regressive policies in a palatable, mediagenic package, with a demonstrated ability to get off a zinger with the best of them. Not only do cultural conservatives love her, she appears to be seducing moderate undecided voters. 

On the first Wednesday in September, the Republicans sent out a phalanx of women to loudly decry the sexism of attacks on Palin. The extent to which Palin’s family life is a prism for her policy positions and therefore is fair game for scrutiny is debatable, but the crying of sexist foul was aimed at seizing the discourse, stifling debate, and throwing up a smokescreen to divert attention from what Palin has done in office and would do as vice president. It was a calculated tactic used by the Republican leadership, and they won’t hesitate to use that weapon again. 

Shrill, righteous indignation isn’t the style of liberal Democrats, but please quickly, forcefully, and publicly counter these attacks. Don’t let them redefine feminism. We need a strike force of women Democratic leaders to fight the smears and misinformation. Please show the country at this critical moment what true experience and leadership in office—and true feminism—look like. 

Rebecca Freed 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Well, by the lord livin' Jesus, hasn't Sen. McCain picked a sure-nuff winner. Good God almighty, just listen to her talkin' 'bout not killin' babys, and not raisin' taxes for folks who made their money the hard way, and keepin' America safe by havin' a firearm in every home, and supportin' our heroic troops in eyerak, and makin' good, clean fun of that colored fellow who seems to have hyponotised us by his fancy speechifying, etc. etc. She is for everythang that God bless America stands for! And when McCain has his heart attack and she takes over, watch out America; those of half of us who didn't vote will finally get what we deserve. Ms Palin is the rightwing nightmare of our budding century. 

Robert Blau 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

As Jon Stewart noted, Minnesota was the only place the Republican Party could hold its convention that was whiter than the Republican Party itself. Of the 2,380 GOP delegates, only 36 were African American. So much for diversity. 

Alaska is the only state that does not collect state sales tax or levy an individual income tax. To finance state operations, they depend primarily on petroleum revenues. "Drill Here, Drill Now!" indeed. Only last month, Alaska's state legislature approved a $1,200 rebate to every resident, thanks to levies on oil profits. No wonder Gov. Palin is so popular back home. Let's keep her there. 

And then there's this from comedian D.L. Hughley: "When white girls get pregnant, they get a movie. When black girls get pregnant, they get a visit from a social worker and a box of condoms." 

Eric Mills 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

Repeatedly, consistently the media now defines Sarah Palin as a “self-described hockey mom.” No one needs an MD degree to recognize the description as an emblematic media deceit. But in her next sentence Palin defined “hockey mom” as a “pit bull with lipstick.” The media avoids repeating the harsher descriptive innuendo. How many soccer and hockey moms across the United States think of themselves as pit bulls—outside of the political clique that Palin represents? The cross over in her logic from “genteel to aggressive” is demagoguery. How many soccer/hockey moms across the United States would have the temerity and arrogance to walk away from a mayor’s job in a very small town they had put $20 million in debt to run up the ladder of political power? Or to try and fire a town librarian for refusing the mayor’s request to remove certain books, or the head of the state police for refusing to fire someone singled out by the governor? Most soccer/hockey moms would care more about the welfare of their community than to behave like that. The media—lazy and cost-driven—can choose to let Palin succeed or fail by her own words but if so how can they avoid including “pit bull” as part of “hockey mom” without becoming a mouthpiece for McCain-Palin?  

Marc Sapir 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

It is easy to understand why progressive feminists are in a tizzy over the presence of Sarah Palin on the political scene. On many levels and for many reasons that are probably best left unexpressed, these women are seriously challenged, not by Palin herself, but by the light her presence casts on their choices, values, and viewpoints. Under the circumstances, a loss of objectivity might be expected and that statements made by some of these women will be indefensible and purely reactionary. But this is America, everyone is free to say just about whatever they want to and it's of the utmost importance that they do so. 

Mrs. O'Malley is an American who is fortunate enough to have a newspaper with her own editorial page. Do you think that makes her more or less free to say just about whatever she wants to on that page? In her recent scathing review of Palin, O'Malley aptly demonstrates the kind of thinking that is typical of her faction and serves only to drive independent and undecided voters away from the Democratic Party. For example, she suggests that because of Alaska's oil wealth and small population, it should be easier to balance the budget there, than in a real state like California. What!? Alaska isn't a real state? Her central idea may be correct but the statement of that idea is simply irrational and a person need not be from Alaska to take exception to it. She then continues with inappropriate attacks on Palin's innocent children, making fun of their unusual names and personal choices. But perhaps her most grievous error in judgment comes with her closing statement wherein she suggests that if McCain and Palin are elected, she and her ilk might have to consider moving to Canada! 

Becky, what makes you think you'd be any happier or better-adjusted living in Canada? Go south old woman; you might find Venezuela more to your liking. Please take the Berkeley Daily Planet with you and rename it the Bolivar Daily Planet. Godspeed, there's no need to wait until Sarah Palin becomes your next VP. 

Brian Gabel 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

There are at least two distressing observations to be made regarding the recent conventions. First of all, we should realize that by using most of his standard-issue acceptance speech to demonize McCain and by presenting a lackluster biographical film that seemed anxious to stress his affection for elderly white ladies, Obama has withdrawn from contention the history-making, charismatic, race-transcending visionary who promoted himself as the vehicle of our faith and hopes. He reduced himself to simply being the guy we have to vote for in order to stop the out-of-touch John McCain. The second painful observation is that in meeting Obama’s low-experience, high-personality, history-making challenge, the Republicans have radically re-shaped the election race and tossed out traditional political reality. The contest is now effectively between Barack Obama and Sarah Palin, who has given all sorts of voters something to vote for. She’ll deliver many more votes than previous Vice Presidential candidates. If I had to guess the winner, I’d have to say that barring any catastrophic revelations about the Palins, the election is effectively over. The winner? Sarah Palin and the other person with her on the ticket. When did this win take place? A few seconds after Sarah Palin started talking in front of the RNC television cameras that presented her to 40 million spectators. 

Richard Pruitt 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

We have never seen such hatred of white women in a position of power. Hillary is a white woman the same color as Nicole Brown, who was murdered by her ex-husband and we all know that reverse racism was involved in O.J. Simpson being declared innocent. 

One day perhaps white bashing will end. Obama is half-white and was raised by his white mother who loved him dearly and made sure that he ended up living a life of privilege.  

White folks don’t have to continue to kiss up to the brothers because of the color of their skin. Perhaps it is time for whites and blacks to end their sense of superiority over each other. As a half-Mexican, half-Arab person I understand the anger and mistrust on both sides.  

When my sister and I went to junior high school in San Francisco we used to walk past Lowell and the white boys would shout, “You dirty Mexicans!” We lived in an 80 percent black neighborhood and were treated very well by our black neighbors. 

It has taken my sister and me a long time to forgive this form of abuse. Many of my white friends helped me get beyond these experiences by restoring my faith in humanity. Indeed, we live for the day when all people will accept each other. 

Diane Arsanis-Villanueva 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The Republican National Convention took four days to establish this invalid syllogism: 

Republicans want McCain. 

Republicans want change. 

Therefore, McCain wants change. 

From the vast distance in space and mind that separates me from the RNC, the argument carries this quite valid corollary: 

Americans must make McCain the 44th president so that 

He can clean up the mess he helped the 43rd president make. 

Marvin Chachere 

San Pablo 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

A shocking new video shows that in 2003, in front of the Council on Foreign Relations, Sen. John McCain said he was more concerned with the war in Iraq, and that we could "muddle through in Afghanistan" without a large number of forces. Sen. McCain showed poor judgment and forethought, which is disturbing given that he says this area is his strong suit. He is so out of touch and misguided, he should not and cannot be elected president. God save our nation. 

Richard Berryman