Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

Monday September 22, 2008 - 10:55:00 PM




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The solution to the wars about busses, routes, and Bus Rapid Transit is "TaxiBus." 

Google it and learn a real solution based on an intelligent combination of technology and existing van/taxi drivers. 

It will be opposed by bus manufacturers, the mechanics union, the bus drivers' union, and contractor's associations, since it involves none of them in corrupt government contracts. 

Push a dedicated button on your cell phone, select or punch in your destination. Your destination and time of arrival are displayed. Wait three minutes or so and the mini-van pulls up to your door. No money exchanged, it's billed to your cell account, 

and it delivers you to your destination with the driver guided by on-screen instructions. There are usually other passengers. 

Security is guaranteed by records of route and passenger. Para-transit is a subsystem. Kiosks handle new members. 

You no longer need a car. Or buses. Or routes with empty buses. Or BRT or light rail. It's being done. Look it up. 

Ormond Otvos 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

When the proposed increases—effective within two weeks—in patients' city clinic fees came before the City Council Sept. 16, it had appeared on the agenda. At the staff table in support were three highly paid city employees presumably prepared to discuss and respond to questions. Not one could provide an answer to a councilmember's finite query, "What percent of the clinics' budget do the patients' fee represent?"—which, by the way, is a standard criterion question used to evaluate charities. Moreover, none offered to get the information and provide it later. 

Helen Rippier Wheeler 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

In regards to Hansen's letter, from Minnesota no less: It is he who needs to do some fact checking or read more carefully. 

True as Snopes said: There was no list of books Sarah Palin to be censored. True as Ralph Stone wrote, the librarian was asked three times if she would consider censoring books. Source: Anchorage Daily News ( 

Judi Sierra 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The last time there was sustained progressive legislation comparable to FDR’s New Deal was from 1966 to 1977, when Presidents Johnson, Nixon, Ford and Carter heeding the advocacy of Ralph Nader, signed into law the following (among many others): 1966 Freedom of Information Act, 1970 EPA, 1970 Clean Air Act, 1970 OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), 1972 Consumer Product Safety Act, 1973 Endangered Species Act, 1974 Safe Drinking Water Act, 1977 Clean Water Act. 

However, the Democrats started to go after corporate money during 1980s, with predictable results. The president who reversed much of FDR’s New Deal was a Democrat, President Bill Clinton: 1996 Welfare Reform Act, 1996 Telecom Act which led to media consolidation, 1996 Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act which weakened Habeous Corpus, 1999 Banking Reform Act which repealed the Glass-Steagall Act precipitating the current financial crisis, and of course the 1993 NAFTA and 1995 WTO that ravaged ordinary workers and the environment. 

The current Democratic contenders, Barack Obama and Joe Biden, vassals of banking and credit card companies, say they are the "change we can believe in." 

While Obama and Biden campaign ask you to believe, Ralph Nader and Matt Gonzalez ask you to think. 

The most powerful way to strengthen our democracy is to study the suggestions and ideas of Ralph Nader and his running mate Matt Gonzalez at and become a part of the "credible threat from the left." The alternative, as Gore Vidal ruefully observes, is "the corporate America, which has two right wings." 

Ralph Nader and Matt Gonzalez will be at Grand Lake Theater in Oakland Tuesday, Sept. 30 at 7 p.m. 

Akio Tanaka 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

In a recent op-ed, co-authored by former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and former Indiana Congressman Lee H. Hamilton (Christian Science Monitor, Sept. 18), the writers decry the lack of civic learning in our society and call for educational proficiency in the elements of our democratic system. They site studies revealing that fewer than a third of eighth graders know the historical importance of the Declaration of Independence and fewer than one fifth of high school seniors are able to explain how civic participation benefits democracy. 

Politics has always been divisive, but in my baby-boomer lifetime, it seems to have reached new heights of hatred, fueling cycles of outrage and tit for tat. This is not healthy. People from all walks of life see toxic politics as reason to wonder why they should care about our government and institutions. 

We can push back against these trends, and not by becoming all warm and fuzzy all the time. We can listen to our leaders calmly, and disagree with them and their supporters respectfully without demonizing them. We can offer opinions about and solutions to current problems without including the acrimony that feeds bitterness and apathy. 

I cringe to see the two presidential candidates starting to sling mud as the election gets closer and the race tightens. Both Barack Obama and John McCain are men of integrity and there are things to admire and support in what both of them stand for. I am cautiously optimistic that whoever wins will model a renewed level of civility and respectful, non-polarizing, discourse in public life. 

Proficiency in civics should be tested right along with math, science and reading. An engaged citizenry needs this knowledge to understand and value the strengths of the republic for which that flag we fly stands. Or the republic will fall and our way of life with it. 

Marilyn McPherson 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

"This is a crisis of confidence," President Bush intoned from the Rose Garden, and this time he got it right! Confidence and trust are the fiber of the financial system. People don't sign contracts if they think they won't be honored. Lenders won't lend money if they think the borrower won't repay. But there are some people who try to cheat the system, who break the trust. That's why rules, regulation, and enforcement are needed in the marketplace. Most importantly in this era of complex financial products like repackaged "mortgage securities," truthful reporting of what they are, and what are the risks, is essential for confidence in the market. 

George Bush's administration, and its enablers like John McCain, have worked to remove market regulation and reduce its enforcement. Their career-long philosophy is to let business operate without government "interference." As a result, the cheaters took over. They lied on their balance sheets, they misled security ratings, and they created products of deceptive value. Honest brokers couldn't compete for profits that looked too good to be true, and they joined in. The result, we now see, is a collapse of an untrustworthy market. 

The critical step toward rebuilding confidence in our economy is to remove the cheaters, liars, and thieves, and their political enablers. Responsible government regulation must protect its citizens, and accordingly, the markets themselves. Game over for Bush, McCain, and the Republican administration. 

Bruce Joffe 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

Looking at the City Council agenda for Sept. 23, I see an item to reimburse Councilmember Darryl Moore up to $725 for round-trip airfare to the League of California Cities Conference in Long Beach next week. 

Given that the city is seeking to reduce its carbon emissions—for example, through the solar bond financing in agenda item 3—why is Moore flying, which would result in around a third of a ton of CO2 emissions, instead of taking Amtrak, which would reduce emissions by 65 to 85 percent? 

Robert Lauriston 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

If you let people use your computer to send vicious threats, you shouldn't be surprised when the police come to talk to you about it. If these people have a history of violence—say, firebombing occupied houses—you shouldn't be surprised if the police arrive prepared for a violent confrontation. 

Dick Bagwell 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

We don't have a water shortage. We have a population surplus. The amount of rainfall in Northern California has substantial variation year to year and from month to month. For example, during January 2008, in the San Francisco area, 25 inches of rain was recorded in contrast to the monthly average of 11 inches. Yet from March to April 2008, we had the driest period since 1879. Rainfall is likely to become even more erratic with climate change. What is not changing is the constant upward pressure of increased population. The average household uses 60 gallons of water per person per day. There were approximately 300,000 new residents in California in 2007, primarily a result of the high birth rate among immigrants. In theory, controlling birth rate should be easier than controlling climate. We should address the so-called water shortage in that light. 

Robert Gable 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Regarding the unfolding economic debacle, I would like to make some suggestions to the citizens of this country. Cease all mortgage payments forthwith. Those of you who are threatened with foreclosure, refuse to leave your home. Freely squat on any unoccupied property. Next April, pay all due federal taxes to the state instead of the federal government. Resist with all force necessary, any attempts by law enforcement to bully and oppress you further.  

I am a recent immigrant from the U.K. and I am staggered at both the brazen actions of your government and the utter apathy of the population. When are you going to get angry enough to act, instead of moaning into your neckties? You have all had a good laugh for 20 years at the purported failure and collapse of the Soviet Union and socialism in general. How much more evidence do you require before you apply the same judgment to the sacred cow of "free market capitalism"? You worship the slash-and-burn robber barons on Wall Street and continue to labor under the absurd notion that they're all working to make sure you can retire with dignity. You allow the federal government to act without restraint by wasting your money on bogus wars, failing to take care of the citizens' health, allowing an irretrievably huge trade imbalance with gross polluters like China, allowing your jobs to be sold out overseas with no remedial action to redress the balance, facilitating tax cuts or non-payment for the super-wealthy and corporations, continuing to pay ridiculous subsidies to businesses which favor their political party, and now the unprecedented bailing out of the supposedly rabidly independent and doctrinaire financial services "industry," all of whom would start chanting capitalist slogans if such favors were placed elsewhere. This is not to mention the huge amounts of profit these same people have been socking away in the Cayman Islands for decades, largely free of any tax burden.  

This government is pursuing to completion a single-minded policy to bankrupt the public sector to allow it to remove any semblance of social services upon which the majority depend. There is still only a murmur of discontent. Well, I have figured out a solution for myself: I'm going to leave you all to your fate and re-emigrate to another country far from here. Having spent most of my life dreaming of living in this country, now I can't wait to go.  

Good luck everybody. 

Richard Chorley 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

There have been all too many ironic allusions to the anti-big government Bush administration’s intervention in the financial market meltdown as “a kind of socialism.” The use of the word “socialism” in that way distorts any meaningful definition of the word. It harkens back to Mussolini and Hitler calling fascism “national socialism.” The two terrorist dictators used that phrase in order to imply that the merger of finance and corporate capital with the State itself was in the interest of all (i.e. uber alles, you sweat and be exploited, but the State’s aggression will lead to a lot of trickle down profits to ya all—economically, culturally, chauvinistically.)They gave “solidarity forever” a new definition under the rubric of working class unity with capitalists in power to increase efficiency and compliance with the machinery of “patriotic” aggressive wars coupled with internal police state oppression). But it’s a big stretch to compare today’s propping up of financial speculators and the stock markets around the world via a trillion-dollar bailout with our public money, to any other definition of socialism. Five million people are kicked out on the street, and there is a growing army of unemployed. These millions get nothing—other than some Republicans trying to kick them off voter roles for not living in the homes they are registered at. Socialism? Certainly under any form of socialist government we’ve seen (fascism not included) the stock markets (particularly the speculation and accumulation of vast wealth at public expense) would either be outlawed or severely restricted to the necessary intercourse of a mixed economy; and housing would be subsidized. This government-ordered 10-day halt to “selling short” in some sectors of finance is a biding-time joke. That’s intervention? Stock markets rebounded firmly on the bailout news because the entire debt of the finance speculators had been forgiven by the taxpayers. Moreover, the political class has signaled, for now, that speculative plunder remains generally legal and sanctioned. There are two kinds of “confidence” there, man. It’s a continuation of the theme of years of deregulation. Unless they change a lot of rules and start putting a whole lot of people in jail (but remember Scooter Libby), nothing fundamentally changes—the collapse of worldwide capitalism is slowed but the process remains independent of market confidence because the circulation of trillions of dollars and profitability itself is already so highly dependent upon the marketing of speculation rather than the sales of goods and services.  

Marc Sapir 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Doesn't the California state law (Vehicle Code §23123) that went into effect July 1 of this year apply to all drivers including City of Berkeley personnel? 

Friday, Sept. 19 around 9:30 a.m., as I drove toward Solano Avenue southbound on The Alameda, a driver in a City of Berkeley pick-up in the northbound lane—without signaling—made a left-hand turn towards Capistrano. He sliced directly and closely in front of me. Poor driving alone was reason enough to question city driving protocols. 

Worse, the driver was using a hand-held cell phone at the same time. 

Without exception, every day when I am doing errands, I see at least one driver (usually two or three) using a hand-held cell phone. While the law allows for emergency hand-held use, none of the drivers I have seen seem to be in a life-and-death situation. Rather, they appear to be chatting frivolously, oblivious to traffic and pedestrians. 

This law was adopted for a reason: to improve automotive safety. It must be vigorously enforced by law enforcement personnel.  

Barbara Witte 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Thank you for your coverage of the multi-faceted KPFA crisis. I first became aware of renewed problems at KPFA a few years ago when Bill Mandel was denied a regular show. Everything I have since heard about the problems of getting community programming and community input into station operations rings true, even leaving out KPFA's calling the police on Nadra Foster, and subsequent policy updates upholding using the police. For these reasons, it particularly galling to read the letter "Healing KPFA" from management and some staff saying that those concerned about these issues are self-serving. Either this is cynical or delusional, but it's unacceptable either way. These issues aren't going away. 

Michael Lyon 

San Francisco 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

A small clarification. Your Sept. 18 editorial, “Election Fever,” quotes Nancy Skinner, candidate for state Assembly, District 14, stating at the Wellstone Club that she has “known Sophie Hahn for five years” and that she has been in conversation with me about substantives issues. In fact, I met Ms. Skinner recently—no more than six months ago—and have only shaken her hand. We have never had a conversation on any subject.  

Sophie Hahn 

Candidate, Berkeley City Council, District 5 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Which future president will speak up for the poor and the needy As of now having money is valued more than sharing. Some of us flaunt our wealth while others go to bed hungry. We need a president who can set an example of modest living. We dwell on the one earth. Can we find a way of helping those who are struggling to survive? Let us have a president who sets an example of unselfishness and magnanimity. 

Romila Khanna 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

The Democratic leaders must take control and demand that fresh, strong economists look at the "financial meltdown disaster capitalism stories" Paulson and Bernanke are selling and they must not allow themselves to be rushed into passing legislation like they did when they allowed Bush to take us into war. 

Any legislation passed must instead directly assist American homeowners who are ultimate victims of the mortgage and housing economic problems facing America, for that is the real and only way to save the banks. 

We are watching leaders of Congress. We remember how they failed us before the Iraq war and we won't let it happen again. 

John Powell 

San Pablo 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Misinformation: It does a campaign good. At least that’s what the campaigns of Berkeley Ballot Measure KK and John McCain seem to think. Gale Garcia’s Sept. 18 Daily Planet commentary supporting Measure KK is a case in point. When the truth won’t work, just make it up; and whatever you do, don’t muddy the waters by checking your facts!  

How can we take someone seriously who states, as Garcia did, that Berkeley is the only city in which BART is underground? What is worrisome is that there are people who believe what they see in print, and will believe Garcia because they don’t ride BART. But for those of us who actually use BART, we have traveled in the underground tunnel through downtown Oakland and parts of San Francisco.  

How can anyone interested transportation issues take Garcia and the Measure KK Campaign seriously? This is the woman who collected signatures to get Measure KK on the ballot at the Farmers Market for weeks. 

What about Garcia’s first sarcastic sentence in her piece, that Friends of BRT “membership soars into the single digits.” In fact, Friends of BRT membership stands at over 120 individuals, in addition to the entire Sierra Club, a large membership organization most readers probably have heard of, whose members number into the thousands. 

If you prefer to base your electoral decisions on factual information, as many of us do, you would do well to research Bus Rapid Transit before taking Measure KK supporters’ statements seriously. Here are a couple websites to get you started:,, and to set the facts straight, 

As witnessed in the Republican Party McCain-Palin Campaign, misinformation is a desperate last resort when the facts don’t favor your cause. Berkeley’s Measure KK Campaign must think that’s a smart tactic. Why else would they continue a campaign of misinformation? 

Marcy Greenhut 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Most people could stay in their homes if their loans were restructured, but this would not make money for the big boys, would it? 

The corrupt two-party system can always find money for a war to enrich its profiteer friends or a bail out that socializes the losses for the hapless taxpayer. 

What about money for health care—the same system for every citizen that they supply for all Congresspersons! 

Mary Bess 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

There were a couple of opinion pieces responding to my piece about Measure KK, the anti-transit initiative, and they simply show that that the measure's supporters are in denial about the facts. 

Both responses talked only about AC Transit's current Bus Rapid Transit proposal. They ignored a point that I made at length: This initiative will apply to any future light rail or BRT proposal. It will cost the city up to $1.2 million for the election on the current project, and the cost is sure to go up on any later projects. Measure KK backers apparently care only about this project, and have not thought about the future of light rail and BRT in Berkeley. 

One response said that, by law, the project in the final EIR must be the same as the project in the draft EIR. In reality, the final EIR gives several alternative routes for three different corridors in Berkeley, and no one knows which alternative the city will choose for analysis in the final EIR. Also, no one knows what mitigations will be in the final EIR to replace removed parking, to protect neighborhoods from spill-over traffic, and to deal with other impacts. Clearly, the final EIR can add mitigations for impacts identified in comments on the draft EIR. Measure KK backers are irresponsible to try to kill this project before we know what its final design is. 

One response compared this initiative with Berkeley's vote to underground BART. But that measure raised extra money to improve BART, while Measure KK would spend extra money on an election where the voters could only approve or reject Bus Rapid Transit. Only in the unreal world of Measure KK backers could this vote to stop transit be compared with the BART vote to improve transit. 

Finally, one response repeated a lie that measure KK backers have told before: that Friends of BRT has membership in the single digits. In fact, Friends of BRT is a Berkeley group with about 120 members. The current BRT project is also strongly supported by the Sierra Club, which has thousands of members in Berkeley. Here is an even better indicator of public sentiment: A majority of Berkeley councilmembers have already publicly opposed Measure KK, and not a single councilmember has publicly supported it. 

This big lie about the number of members in Friends of BRT shows exactly how trustworthy Measure KK backers are. They have no factual knowledge at all about this number, so they invented a fiction and repeated it over and over again. If they make this statement about Friends of BRT with no factual basis at all, then how can we trust anything they say? 

Charles Siegel 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

If you read the following statement from the Alameda County Voter Registrar you would have no idea that Oakland, parcel tax, Measure N includes a hidden 15 percent parcel tax for charter school programs.  


"Measure N: To attract and retain highly qualified and credentialed teachers for Oakland’s District-run public schools, and to support successful educational programs at Oakland’s public charter schools, shall Oakland Unified School District levy $10 per parcel per month ($120 per year) for 10 years with an exemption for low-income residents, mandatory annual audits, an independent citizens’ oversight committee, and all money spent to benefit Oakland Schools and all Oakland students? (2/3 vote required for passage.)” 

Voters that do not read the long version of Measure N will not understand that 15 percent of the parcel tax will go to charter school programs. Nor would voters reading the title of Measure N, “OUTSTANDING TEACHERS FOR ALL OAKLAND STUDENTS ACT," be likely to understand that the 15 percent of the parcel school tax is for charter school programs and not for charter school teachers’ pay. The title misleads voters into thinking that all the Measure N tax will go toward teachers’ salaries. 

I believe Measure N was written to mislead voters into thinking that this tax is entirely for teachers’ salaries. Furthermore, the short version of Measure N is written in an attempt to hide the fact that 15 percent (approximately $1.8 million yearly) is a tax to support charter schools. 

Jim Mordecai 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

For me the question is why the City of Berkeley allows the corruption at the BHA to continue—do they worship the almighty dollar for fear of a potential SEIU lawsuit? The city’s bailout rewarded the BHA $150,000 and there is no one minding the shop. Twenty-five million dollars was given to the BHA and a few million of it was squandered. There should be a class action suit against the BHA. 

Diana Arsanis Villanueva 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Do we want Albany to become another Berkeley? 

How could it happen? If we elect people who place loyalty to special interests above first loyalty to Albany. Only by electing three new pro-Albany candidates can we avoid a 5-0 special interest majority with no one who will place Albany’s interests first. 

How do we prevent it? We must change the current 3-2 special interest City Council majority into a 3-2 pro-Albany majority. How? 

1. Defeat Mayor Bob Lieber’s reelection bid. 

2. Defeat his directly elected mayor amendment Measure Y to extend Council terms up to 16 years. Bob could be your mayor until 2020! 

3. Elect three candidates (Peggy Thomsen, Farid Javandel, and Nick Pilch) whose first allegiance is to Albany, not to special interests such as the Sierra Club, Save our Shoreline (SOS), etc. These three candidates support open space and environmental issues but first support Albany's interests.  

I am asking you to vote against the incumbent majority I helped elect to office! 

I’m shocked that all three I strongly supported are taking Albany in the direction of becoming another Berkeley. They vote as a block about 95 percent of the time. They are now trying to radically change Albany via their directly elected mayor amendment Measure Y. 

Bob Lieber forced Measure Y on to your ballot. Your Charter Review Committee examined and voted against Bob’s measure three separate times because 84 percent of cities Albany’s size use the same system Albany has used since 1927. 

Measure Y creates entrenched 16-year council terms with unlimited outside special interest funding. 

The people who first changed Albany from a working-class to a professional town were Berkeley refugees in the 1960s. They told me that up to the mid-1950s Berkeley was a civic treasure nicer than Palo Alto. But they lost it. 

Why risk Albany? Vote against Measure Y and elect Thomsen, Filch, and Javandel to place Albany’s interests first. 

James D. Cleveland 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

A Sept. 4 letter in the Berkeley Daily Planet, "Zoning Board and Antennas," revealed a fatal flaw about the City of Berkeley's meeting procedures. The writer stated: "The ZAB keeps telling the public that they cannot deny a permit to the applicant." Such a "denial" by the Zoning Adjustments Board, is due to a long-held misunderstanding of the language of federal statutes. 


It is generally acknowledged that we need an effective "Sunshine Ordinance." However, there should be a Total Prohibition against "legal fictions"—legal terms that mean other than what is normally meant by words having the same spelling, or by words that are capitalized. Such cunning terms lurk in "State" and federal legislation, and have unsuspected meanings. The Supreme Court warned about such legal fictions as early as 1797, describing them as "very dark notions of law and liberty"—- Maxfield's Lessee vs. Levy, 4 Dall. (4 U.S. 330). 

By the unannounced use of these, the concerned public at crucial meetings (though held in bright natural or artificial light), are "kept in the dark" about the meaning of the FCC's regulations. 

Two sections of the Telecommunications Acts (both 1934 and 1996), say: "No State or local government or instrumentality thereof may regulate the placement, construction, and modification of personal wireless service facilities on the basis of the environmental effects of radio frequency emissions to the extent that such facilities comply with the Commission's regulations concerning such emissions." 

The Telecommunications Acts define the legal term "State" in this way: ' "State"—The term "State" includes the District of Columbia and the Territories and possessions.' However, the word "includes" is "A term of limitation."—(Ex parte Martinez). Accordingly, the recent case of "Sprint Telephony PCS v. County of San Diego" (Sept. 11, 2008) upholds the right of local governments to influence "the location, size, design and operating characteristics" of such wireless facilities. 

The "ZAB" (which meets again on Sept. 25), is hereby notified that to NOT reveal the actual meaning or definition of a legal term (such as "State"), constitutes an "obstruction of justice". This could be knowingly making a false statement with intent to mislead, and—so far—has been what has happened at the ZAB meetings where the Telecommunications Acts are concerned.  

Arthur Stopes, III 

Director, Center for Unalienable Rights Education. 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

What works in Berkeley? Berkeley is a small city, but it tries to be the caretaker for an entire region. We don’t do a good job of providing city services nor regional services because our city has a limited budget. 

It’s wonderful to share. I’m glad that our library system is so much better than others, that 40 percent of library cardholders are not Berkeley residents. Anyone who has ever had a child at Berkeley High knows that at least one-third of those students are out of district. A couple of years ago, the dog park petition showed that one-third of the 500 weekly users were from outside of Berkeley. Can we afford to keep doing this? Basic services do not get covered, and we are taxed extra for basics. This November, there are ballot measures for extra taxes for the basic services of the library, fire services and parks. 

Our high tax rate has driven away diversity. Young families, especially middle class blacks and Hispanics families cannot afford to live here. It is not sustainable to maintain regional services without regional financing. 

With the upcoming elections in Berkeley, it is time for a full and honest discussion of our tax system. And it has to be grounded in what we can afford. Berkeley taxpayers alone cannot be asked to pay for regional services. If our mayor and City Council want to maintain regional services, then they need to make up the financial shortfalls with regional funding. If they cannot find regional funding, then maybe it is appropriate to rethink how and what we spend our money on, rather than to keep asking for more, and spending more. Taxpayers should not be asked to pay extra taxes for basic services. City government should use our basic taxes in the general fund for fire, libraries and parks. Vote no on ballot measures for taxes. 

Yolanda Huang 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Peter Klatt states in his Sept. 11 Daily Planet commentary that he wants to make people pay at the door to use the public library. 

Scotty! Beam Peter Klatt back to the 14th century, before the printing press, back when only a select few ever saw a book. One reason people created public libraries was the belief that everybody deserves to see books, hold them for the tactical experience, soak in their smell of print, and scan the shelves for a panorama of a whole subject and take the best home, for free. Modern libraries have added children's, music and art sections, as well as shelves for new books, that some peruse to see what they want to buy on the Internet. 

Klatt believes the Internet has made books obsolete. But without books we have only an Internet in its 14th century. A small minority has top-rate Net service. Someday, a revolution may give every human full access at home, yet even then the masses will want books, mags, CDs, DVDs, etc And meanwhile, the library has the printed word and also free access to the splendor of the net at its best—just sign up. 

Klatt is anti-public services in general, as exposed in his endorsement of Barbara Gilbert’s Daily Planet piece arguing against the November ballot measures for public services 

History shows (via Net or print), that the collapse of Rome and the end of ancient civilization marched step by step with the end of it s public roads, harbors, halls, theatres, libraries, parks, fire and police departments, water and sewer systems, etc. Peter Klatt and Barbara Gilbert may want to live together in a walled Berkeley hills castle with private firemen and police and a 10-foot Internet screen. But the viewing will be boring, because so few youngsters will be going to school that the needed creativity of youth will be zilch. 

Ted Vincent