Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

Monday October 13, 2008 - 05:37:00 PM




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I am the parent of two school-age students in Berkeley public schools. I take the upcoming BUSD election very seriously. Unfortunately, most of the candidates don't. On Oct. 1, I e-mailed each of the candidates, asking them their position and opinions on the biggest elephant in the room in BUSD—unauthorized out-of-district students. Sadly, three of the four candidates have ignored my question. Only one, Beatriz Leyva-Cutler, bothered to respond. If the candidates won't answer fair questions from a parent/voter, how can we trust them to make fair and open decisions with millions of tax dollars and the precious resources that are our children? Berkeley parents and voters—demand answers from these candidates and demand attention to the serious issues facing our schools. 

Peter Shelton 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The Oct. 9 article "Court Orders Maio To Testify" is informative and eye-opening. Linda Maio has caused enormous suffering for people on the southside in the past three years by approving cell-phone antennas on the UC Storage building owned by Patrick Kennedy. She was later rewarded a loan by Mr. Kennedy. This is really shameful. Linda Maio must resign. 

I remember distinctly that when the City Council was voting on the antennas, she said, "My heart is with the people, I want to vote no, but I vote yes." She should have said, "My heart is with the people, I want to vote no, but 45K is coming from Patrick Kennedy, so I vote yes." 

This is selling out the people of Berkeley. I have been witnessing how people have been struggling since 2002 to stop cell-phone antennas. Bates, Maio, Moore, Capitelli, Wozniak, and Terry Doran have been consistently approving these antennas. You wonder whether they do so in return of loans, gifts, etc. 

Now I know how I am going to vote. For Mayor, my vote goes to Shirley Dean. For council seats in Districts 2, 4, 5, and 6, my votes go, respectively, to Jon Crowder, Jesse Arreguin, Sophie Hahn, and Phoebe Sorgen. Hopefully, we will bring the power back to the people and stop behind-the-door deals between the city officials and those who have cash. 

Mina Davenport 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

In 1933 Congress passed the Glass-Steagall Act to control the financial speculation which had caused the 1929 Stock Market Crash. In 1999 Congress passed the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act repealing the Glass-Steagall Act that has resulted in the current market crash. 

The Republicans and the Democrats are now blaming each other for this crash; however, the 1999 bill was passed in the Senate: 90-8-1 and in the House: 362-57-15 and signed into law by President Bill Clinton. 

The recent bailout bill which helps Wall Street but keeps Main Street disenfranchised was passed in the Senate: 74-25 and in the House: 263-171. 

Until the late 1970s Democrats still represented the workers’ interests and Republicans represented business interests, but it is evident that both parties are now vassals of the business interests. They have co-opted political debate so that the only issues that the voters can weigh in on are social issues but they have no say in the economic issues which are the basis of power.
 The people need to turn to politics and work to shift the power from the few to the many; otherwise, as can be seen, the politics will turn on us. 

Akio Tanaka 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

Where will the hundreds of residents of the proposed The Addison project shop? There is the Grocery Outlet for the budget-minded, and Fourth Street for those few left with disposable incomes. This deal ought to be quite interesting. 

Phil Allen 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

On a recent sunny Berkeley weekday morning, blue, bright, clear and crisp, I could not help but think of the sad irony seeing a group of young people lounging in the Tot-Lot of our neighborhood park swathed in plumes of pot smoke as they idled by while toddlers played gleefully on the slides and stairs of the play-structures oblivious to the wafting clouds of second-hand elective pollutants. Add to this the adjacent Neighborhood Drug Watch sign so lovingly adorned with new posters, to wit: "Neighborhood Watch, Police Not Welcome." 

Now, I am not going to bore you by drifting off into the obvious lectures, regarding this all too common occurrence in Berkeley, about how Berkeley citizens are currently being murdered and maimed over this "harmless" substance, or how these young people should be engaged in constructive academic or vocational pursuits, or how drug use at a young age stunts mental, emotional, and physical development, or that, while the tides come and go, that we really are not , in this period of American history, endangered by the presence of Police in our neighborhoods, etc. 

But I will bore you by submitting a question to the Abeyant Leadership currently dictating policy for the citizens of Berkeley: 

What vested interest do you have in avoiding and dismissing neighborhood concerns about the serious problems that afflict our young people, keeping them at risk, marginalized, and unprepared to participate on an equal level to take advantage of the prosperity our society still (despite current economic woes) engenders, especially in a town with the intellectual, financial, and visionary resources at your disposal? 

John Herbert 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Back in 1929, when the stock market crashed, some depressed CEO s and bankers, feeling disgraced for having brought the country into financial chaos, jumped out of tall Wall Street buildings. The result: "Plop!" Today, CEO s and bankers jump out of Wall Street buildings securely strapped to golden parachutes. The result: "Whoopee!"  

Robert Blau 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I met a friend for tea at Peet's Friday morning and on the way back down Solano I stopped at Colusa to pick up my weekly Planet. There were none. A little odd, as it just came out yesterday, but I would pass another at Ensenada and Solano. None again. Hmmm. Oh well, I had another chance as I was getting on BART in North Berkeley a little later. Really? None here either? It wasn't until the afternoon dog walk past Strawberry Design center that I finally found one. Ohhhh, the Planet endorsed Shirley Dean! Time to check Tom's garage? 

Jackie Simon 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I can't figure out if Berkeley Transportation Commissioner Rob Wrenn hasn't read the Bus Rapid Transit draft environmental impact report or if he is willingly parroting AC Transit's deceptions about the project. 

In his Oct. 2 letter to the Daily Planet, Mr. Wrenn accuses me of “misrepresenting” the draft EIR. I guess Mr. Wrenn has read as far as the executive summary of the report, since that's what he quoted in his letter. Too bad he didn't read the entire report. Then he would have understood what Mark Twain is supposed to have said about statistics and lies. 

Mr. Wrenn is right about one thing. The EIR does say that BRT would “increase corridor ridership 56 percent to 76 percent.” The key word in that sentence is corridor. In other words, ridership along the International Boulevard-Telegraph Avenue corridor would increase. 

Had Mr. Wrenn bothered to read the chart on page 3-26 of the EIR, however, he would have seen the entire ugly picture. As a result of BRT, AC Transit ridership is projected to increase between 3.7 and 6.2 percent. BART ridership, on the other hand, is projected to actually decrease, somewhere between 0.5 and 1.5 percent as a result of riders switching to BRT. The resulting net increase in total transit usage in the East Bay would be between 0.7 percent and 1.4 percent. 

How did Mr. Wrenn and AC Transit get to that “56 to 76 percent” increase? By counting people who switch to BRT from other bus lines or from BART. These are not new transit riders. By switching from one bus line to another they do nothing to reduce greenhouse gases. People who switch from BART to BRT will, in fact, generate more greenhouse gases, not less. 

Here is the fabled bottom line, direct from the EIR: Without BRT, transit use in the East Bay is projected to be 659,800 trips per day by 2025. With BRT, the number of trips is projected, at a maximum, to be 670,100. That's a 1.4 percent increase. This number is so small that the draft EIR says that the energy savings from BRT would be “negligible.” This number is so small that the projected decreases in air pollutants are nearly zero (0.03 percent to be precise). 

So who's “misrepresenting” the draft EIR, Mr. Wrenn? And tell us again, Mr. Wrenn, if you would, why we should spend $250 million on a project which is expected to do, essentially, nothing? 

Jim Bullock 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

There is a disconnect between the on-air program messages at KPFA and the actions of the management toward staff and volunteers. This inconsistency was revealed to the public when management and personnel at the radio station called the police on Nadra Foster during a dispute. This decision resulted in the police brutalizing Nadra, who is a long-time, black woman programmer. 

KPFA radio, 94.1 FM, has many programs denouncing racism and the prison, military industrial complex. Among these programs are Hard Knock Radio, Flashpoints, JR and the Block Report, Without Walls, Critical Resistance, and Mumia Abu Jamal's Commentaries from Death Row. Reporters address the abuses of the police and of the dominant culture. The economically powerful and privileged use the police as a tool to control political dissent and to oppress people of color. 

Police are not a solution to resolving our conflicts or solving any problems at the radio station. We should utilize alternatives such as sensitivity training, NVC-Non Violent Communication, and Conflict Resolution. These approaches, which have also been presented on-the-air, could be facilitated at teach-ins and community meetings. Additionally, management and staff should be familiar with de-escalation techniques and should have trained community support available if disputes and difficulties arise. 

Management, with paid and unpaid staff, need to support the intention of KPFA in the studio, as well as on the air, by utilizing alternative approaches to calling the police. We need to do as we say at KPFA. Management, there is a better way—get with the programs. 

Beverly Dove 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I really want to know from presidential nominees how a low-income individual can survive, unlike rich people who have plenty to throw away and waste. I heard the Republican candidate say that a $5,000 government credit will enable people to buy health care of their choice in the open market. I am a dedicated teacher with limited means. Is $5,000 the total amount I will have to pay? The government credit must make sense not just for rich and upper-middle class people, but for poor people as well. 

Romila Khanna 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

I just realized that many politically powerful people and organizations are opposing Measure KK! 

Why am I surprised and upset? Answer: I live near Telegraph Avenue. The prospect of losing two out of the four lanes of traffic to busses only was unpleasant. Probably the most important problem to me is losing most of the parking on Telegraph. Parking is already tight near here because of Cal students. Neighbors like me and merchants on Telegraph have worked hard to put KK on the ballot—the merchants for customer parking, the neighbors for local parking near our homes. 

If you do think of voting no on KK, please think that if it wins, it will decrease customers for the merchants on Telegraph, and, worst for the local residents, it may keep us from having visitors! (In most cases, it will not affect your life at all.) 

Julia Craig  




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Thank you for devoting space in your Oct 9 issue to school board candidate statements. Local school boards make important decisions that affect every family in their community, yet it's often hard to determine which candidates offer the best solutions. I confess to not voting for local candidates in the past who are running for positions such as school or park district boards because I just didn't know enough to make an informed choice. 

Having read the statements of the three school board candidates who chose to present their case to Berkeley residents, I was very impressed with Priscilla Myrick's knowledge of the issues and her prescriptions for improvement. 

I don't understand why the schools in my hometown of New Delhi are so much more rigorous than those in Berkeley. New Delhi schools have less funding, more students and extreme poverty. But the academics are highly valued and produce better results than many U.S. schools, including my adopted town here in Berkeley.  

The United States needs well-educated students now more than ever. 

Kavita Mohindroo 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Oakland Measure N provides inequality for charter school teachers 

At the last Oakland School Board meeting, State Administrator Vincent Matthews explained that it was his concern for "equity" that lead him to make $1.8 million charter school tax a part of Measure N. 

State Administrator Matthew could have placed the question of funding Oakland’s corporate charter schools on the ballot as a separate measure and provided “equity” for charter school taxpayers. The Oakland voters could then have decided if they wanted to fund “successful charter school programs.” 

Instead of going to the public with a straight forward request to fund Oakland corporate charter schools, he buried the charter schools’ request for local funding in a parcel tax designed to fund Oakland Public teachers’ pay increase. 

Under Measure N, all the parcel tax money for Oakland Public Schools must go to pay for Oakland teachers’ salary increase. Yet, each charter school administration qualifying for the money gets to decide how to spend the money at its school. 

Measure N leaves charter school teachers behind. If State Administrator Matthews truly wanted equity, why didn’t he at lease write Measure N to provide equity for Oakland’s charter school teachers and ensure they too get a raise? 

Inequity for charter school teachers is only one of many reasons to vote no on Measure N Nov. 4. 

Jim Mordecai 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

Last Saturday, Oct. 11, was National Coming Out Day! This happens once a year, every year, but this year it is of extreme importance with the upcoming election, and Proposition 8! 

In an unprecedented display of solidarity and diversity, in April of 1993, an estimated one million people came together for the National March on Washington for GLBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender) rights! 

One of the highlights of that day came when Martina Navratilova gave an emotional speech on the importance of coming out and on the need to be open and honest about one's sexual identity. 

The parts of her speech that moved me the most, and that I believe are the most pertinent to the issue of the marriage amendment known as Proposition 8 coming up for a popular vote this Nov. 4, I quote below: 

"What our movement for equality needs most, is for us to come out of the closet! We need to become visible to as many people as possible, so that we can shatter all those incredible myths that keep us in the closet! 

Our goal is not to receive compassion, acceptance, or worse yet, tolerance, because that implies that we are inferior, we are to be tolerated, pitied, and endured! I don't want pity, do you? Of course not! Our goal must be equality across the board. We can settle for nothing less, because we deserve nothing less! 

One's sexuality should not be an issue, one way or another. One's sexuality should not become a label by which that human being should be identified! My sexuality is a very important part of my life, a very important part of my being, but it is still a very small part of who I am! 

Being homosexual, bisexual, or heterosexual is not good or bad. It simply is. 

So now we are here today so that one day in the hopefully not-too-distant future, we will be referred to not by our sexuality, but by our accomplishments and abilities, as all Californians, Americans and people everywhere have the right to be! 

Melissa Etheridge, k.d. lang, Elton John, Greg Louganis and many, many others have come out of the closet, including recently, Clay Aiken! Each and every one had something to lose by that action, and each and every one could have made all kinds of excuses not to come out, but they didn't! 

So, now, I urge all of you who are still in the closet to throw away all the excuses! 

If we want the world to accept us, we must first accept ourselves! If we want the world to give us respect, we must first be willing to give ourselves respect! We must be proud of who we are and we cannot do that if we hide! 

By coming out to our friends, family, employers, and employees, we make ourselves personable. We become human beings, and then we have the opportunity to show the world what we are all about—happy, intelligent, giving, loving people. We can show our moral strength, dignity, character." 

We can be ourselves! I urge you to come out now and be true to yourself and tell your family, friends and everyone you know to vote no on Proposition 8, and that to do otherwise they will be hurting someone they know and love—you! 

Robert Sodervick 

Justice and Equality for All 

San Francisco 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The KPFA management talks “healing” from their recent police incident. But more is required here, there’s also gaining progressive understanding of the social forces involved. 

There’s a historic struggle to change the present objectification approach to madness/’mental illness’ to a humanistic model based on community values and responsible self-expression, a struggle that falls within the framework of Kuhn’s “paradigm shift” in science. Ignoring that is—politically—like ignoring gender role, ethnicity, or the exploitation of labor. 

Some 15 years ago, Berkeley Mental Health came together around a “denial” strategy regarding “paradigm shift,” and moved systematically to break every ongoing initiative in sync with the historic change process. Wendy Georges was fired from the Berkeley Food Project, sell-out deals were offered the prominent client/survivor activists (I refused mine and was personally threatened by BMH). 

A general climate of stigma/discrimination promotes what activists call the “freedom train” problem. Are the ‘crazy people’ invited; is there a role for our values in the progressive movement? Or do people practice what Martin Luther King, Jr. called the “behavioral science” that accommodates or embraces oppression, denying torture, when dealing with us? 

KPFA has had programs related to this concern. Once a leader of the client/survivor movement helped run Youth Radio, for instance. Yet—like most progressives, KPFA management and programming still does not take the stigma/discrimination process into account. Recently for instance Phil Zimbardo, a progressive social psychologist who is still confused about the “freedom train,” was shamelessly praised on the Morning Show when interviewed about his new book (on the behavioral science of attitude management). I shuddered when I heard that. 

The August 20 incident showed the face of racism, many say. It also showed the face of denial, what—by civil rights metaphor—is the “watermelon” approach to the movement to bring the client/survivor activists into the freedom train. Where is principle hiding? 

In September, the American Psychological Association voted 60 percent by referendum ever to ban psychologists from involvement in torture in the service of national security. The questions implicit in King’s advocacy for reforming “behavioral science” so as to promote “creative maladjustment” based on the values of freedom and dignity are now, at last, on the table: When does "treatment" mean "torture"? 

Andrew Phelps 

Former Chair, Berkeley Mental Health Commission (1990-93) 

P.S.: King's 1967 speech to the APA can be found at 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Last Tuesday's publication of the Daily Californian mentions that archeological tests are been done near the proposed athletes' complex near Memorial Stadium. 

The mentioned place is a sacred burial ground for the Muwekma Ohlone who inhabit the Bay Area from San Jose to beyond Berkeley and the San Francisco Peninsula. For instance, the Moscone Center and the Presidio National Park in San Francisco, the Bay Bridge ends, Emeryville Shopping Mall, Fourth Street in Berkeley, the University of California campus at Berkeley, and many other places in the Bay Area contain sacred burial grounds. The oak grove and Memorial Stadium, where a waterfall existed, are also burial grounds. 

On Thursday, June 19, the Daily Californian reported, "Ohlone tribe member Andrew Galvan agreed with the university's claim that native burials at the site are unlikely, saying that he is "unaware of any proof saying current burials exists in that area." But allow me to let you know that Andrew Galvan is a not an Ohlone representative, he is three quarters non-native mexican, half quart sicilian and less than half quart Ohlone, therefore he is not even Ohlone, and obviously, neither by spirit. 

Andrew Galvan is a divisive figure among the Ohlone community who since his early age has been a traitor to his almost non-Ohlone controversial identity. During the Alcatraz Occupation of the 1970s he wrote a letter and sent to president Nixon opposing the Native American Alcatraz occupation. As a teenager he was a franciscan seminarian and his brother Michael is a priest. Andrew Galvan has promoted the saint hood of father Junipero Serra who was the cause of the great devastation of California's Native Nations including the Ohlones. I remember when Andrew Galvan opposed the Ohlone Nation for the repatriation of the 13,000 human remains by UC Berkeley, such incident happened at the International House Auditorium 20 years ago.  

Andrew Galvan has a B.A. in history from the California State University at Hayward and co-owns an archeological firm that has repatriated over 5000 human skeletal Ohlone remain and charges $60 an hour during excavations where construction will disturb Ohlone sacred burial grounds. For instance, he charged the county of Contra Costa $58.000 for 12 skeletal remains during a project of Big Break Regional Shoreline in the year 2002. He reburies the remains at the Ohlone Indian Tribe, Inc. cemetery in Fremont where he has denied the access to Ohlone tribe members who are looking for federal recognition. 

The list goes on and on with this alleged "Ohlone," (see the San Francisco Weekly, Nov. 21, 2007 article for more information about Andrew Galvan misrepresentation). 

Well, the University of California at Berkeley is alleging that the current archeological tests at the oak grove are being supervised by a "representative of the local Ohlone tribe is on site every day to oversee the excavation." But they don't give the name of such "Ohlone." Who is he/she? Most likely the traitor and renegade Andrew Galvan, curator of Mission Dolores. 

I must add that Chancellor Birgenau of the University of California at Berkeley is another traitor to the Native American community for not protecting the oak grove and the sacred burial Ohlone ground and for not returning the 13,000 human Ohlone remains for proper reburial. Ironically, chancellor Birgenau alleges to be a Canadian First Nation Native. 

Bernardo S. Lopez 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Imagine if you will: President John McCain all of a sudden keels over, and Vice President Sarah Palin has become the leader of the free world. That is inexperienced and figurehead Sarah Palin is now the commander in chief of the United States. Palin was selected in the 2008 presidential election to attract millions of evangelical voters to the GOP ticket. 

President Palin has transformed the Supreme Court into a fundamentalist sounding board with the addition of more anti-abortion and anti-gay justices. Roe vs Wade is a memory and women no longer have freedom of choice over their own bodies. 

America is experiencing a population explosion as the Palin administration pushes its "abstinence only" policy on the country. Sex education in the schools has been banned under the threat of lost funding. 

Under President Palin, "Onward Christian Soldiers" has become the battle cry of the foreign policy and he economy is still stumbling along under Bush-like ecomomic policies. Far fetched? 

Ron Lowe 

Nevada City