Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

Thursday October 30, 2008 - 09:50:00 AM


Editors, Daily Planet: 

I have heard that Bates and Council have been distancing themselves from Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) lately, but they still say Measure KK is bad, bad government. Actually, I think the measure is much more far reaching in it’s implications than just the particular issue it addresses. It would basically establish a precedent for DIRECT public involvement in major land use decisions, not just "public input" which is often impotent. This would create a major adjustment in the balance of power if it catches on. Now, some things should not be put to public ballot and it is therefore easy to go too far with this idea, but other things can be, I believe, and the public benefits in the end. It seems like the issue of lane removal would be on the “good” side, for it actually compels AC Transit to come to the public with an offer if they want to remove lanes from critical arteries, not just a 5 member majority of City Council with incentives which may be more about, say development for example. Saying “bad government” is not specific enough. It could be bad government, or it could be good government. It all depends. In either event however, it’s presence indicates that there is an absence of representative government—and that makes council look bad. I guess if that were being said about me I wouldn’t like it either. 

Joseph Stubbs 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

When I decided that I could not both run for District 4 council and give my new baby the time she needed, I began looking for another candidate to support. I looked for a candidate with strong Progressive values who would be a responsive councilmember, respectful of different opinions, and will be 100 percent committed to environmentally sustainable policies. I also was looking for someone who will be committed to representing the district while also keeping in mind the needs of the entire City. While I found all of the candidates worthy of support, I decided that the candidate most deserving of my vote is Terry Doran. 

Not only did Terry contact me to discuss my ideas for the City and district 4, he also laid out a very clear explanation of his values and his positions on the issues. Terry is a lifelong educator and advocate for youth who is both a father and grandfather. He understands the challenges facing young families like mine. He also is committed to sustainable development that will prevent suburban sprawl, create the density needed to support a vibrant downtown and transit system, while protecting surrounding neighborhoods from the negative impacts of development. I am happy to endorse Terry for City Council. 

Jerry Threet 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

A growing number of concerned citizens are reporting that No-on-LL lawn signs have been stolen. Even a $300 banner on a supporter’s hedge disappeared in the night. 

It is unlikely that the thieves are persons with no particular interest in Measure LL, or still less that the thieves are No-on-LL activists themselves. So it is reasonable to conclude that the thieves are proponents of the measure. 

Measure LL in effect allows the mayor and his developer cronies to gut the Landmarks Preservation Ordinance by eliminating much of the review process that is aimed at preserving the quality of Berkeley’s neighborhoods. If the measure passes, developers will have greater freedom to buy Berkeley’s treasured old homes, tear them down, and put up speculator monstrosities in their place. 

As of this writing, the mayor has not replied to an email on the thefts. It may well be that a few goof-balls who support LL are responsible for the thefts; and that the mayor had nothing to do with them. But it is impossible not to remember at a time like this that the mayor saw fit to steal 1,000 copies of the Daily Cal a day before the election in 2002 because it carried an endorsement of his opponent, Shirley Dean. 

In any case, if there are voters who are still unsure how to vote on this crucially important measure, perhaps this latest behavior of some of its advocates will convince these voters that they really should vote No on Measure LL. 

Peter Schorer 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I have the deepest respect for the candidates for District 4; the field is almost an embarrassment of riches. But if Berkeley were to pay just a little more attention to L A Wood’s record, and learn a little more from him each time he spoke, we would have a very different city. 

We would never speak about an issue until we had done extraordinary research, and would feel free to study the opinions of others if we needed more perspective. We would seek to patiently heal our schools with our own efforts rather than evade their sicknesses, and work tirelessly to assist others in getting a clearer picture of the factors creating a problem rather than bully others into quick decisions. 

L A Wood’s decades of tireless community service and wealth of good works is as deep as his character. His independence, strength, and gentle clarity of vision is a gift to the community. 

Carol Denney 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I am writing my first ever Letter to the Editor (in my life) in response to some of the questions people have about Measure FF. Measure FF is an important local bond measure that will allow the City to make much needed improvements to Berkeley’s well loved/used branch libraries. These improvements which will also address seismic and access issues will ensure they remain a safe place for our community for years to come. The bonds may ONLY be used for the construction and repair of the buildings.  

I realize that now is a difficult time to think about paying even a little more in taxes, but I do believe this is the most important time to invest in our libraries. In tough economic times libraries offer information and computers for job seekers, unlimited access to books, music, movies, magazines, and newspapers for families who might have been able or more willing to pay for them in more flush times. Unfortunately, making our libraries safe and accessible so we can all use them to our best advantage is not free. Please vote to protect our city’s infrastructure for the future. This modest investment will yield benefits for all of us. 

On November 4, I urge you to vote Yes on Measure FF. 

Sophia Skoda 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

We have read with concern and alarm Priscilla Myrick’s commentary [Daily Planet, Oct 23-29] about the very real decline of science and math education at Berkeley High—specifically, the fact that Berkeley High is considering doing away with its honors math program and eliminating the school-wide math and science departments and department chairs. This is exactly the wrong move at this critical time. The very future of this nation’s competitiveness in the evolving global world, the effort to recruit underrepresented minorities to careers in technology and science, and the ability to ensure that a Berkeley High diploma “ensures readiness for college-level work” is critically dependent on BUSD developing and maintaining a challenging and rigorous curriculum.  

Our son graduated from Berkeley High in the early 80s and had the benefit of several AP courses and excellent teachers which enabled him to attend Cal Tech and skip his freshman math course. Berkeley’s educational program was excellent then. We must continue to support a challenging and rigorous curriculum as we move to meet the challenges of today’s world.  

Ned and Janis Dairiki 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

As noted in today’s Planet, all four candidates for Berkeley School Director recognize the importance of closing the “achievement gap.” The question for voters therefore becomes: who will provide the strongest leadership to bring about the change we need?  

Beatriz Leyva-Cutler has been an educator, mentor, and community leader in West Berkeley for nearly three decades. She understands the needs and perspectives of the least well-served families in Berkeley public schools. She is bi-lingual and bi-cultural. Recently, she has served as a member of the Futures Committee at Berkeley High, which is charged with helping BHS to realize the “2020 Vision” for equity and excellence. I have served along with her on this committee and have seen her leadership skills in action. She goes straight to the heart of difficult problems; deals honestly and respectfully with other committee members; pays attention to details; and also sees the big picture, namely the need for cultural change within our schools.  

Certainly, we need to enhance the rigor and the richness of our school curricula, as all the School Board candidates seem to recognize, and we need to offer students plenty of support to catch up if they are behind. But higher standards and more tutoring won’t close the gap by themselves. We also need to create a culture of success built on trusting relationships between students and teachers. Anyone who doubts the relevance of school climate to student achievement should consider the findings of Stanford psychology professor Claude Steele. Steele’s research into the effects of “Stereotype Threat” has been extensively replicated, widely published, and internationally recognized. He and his colleagues have found that pervasive stereotypes (e.g. girls are bad at math, Asians are good at math, or Blacks are less intelligent than Whites) can have a dramatic impact on students’ academic performance. Moreover, schools do not need to do anything specific to activate this threat: it is, alas, already “in the air.” Fortunately, schools can do something to deactivate the threat of negative stereotypes, but a less threatening school culture will not come about simply as a result of good intentions and palliative measures. We need systemic change. 

Leyva-Cutler possesses the experience, the wisdom, and the courage to lead our community in creating the excellent schools that all our children deserve. Vote for Beatriz Leyva-Cutler for School Board. 

Carol S. Lashof 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Regarding your article on the District 5 race between Laurie Capitelli and Sophie Hahn, I felt your coverage was incomplete concerning who the candidates’ donors are. You establish that Hahn had raised almost double the amount of money for her campaign than had Capitelli, but your focus was on those “developers” who donated to the candidates. Had Capitelli’s campaign been the one that had raised double the amount of Hahn’s, I could see the logic of your article’s focus. 

The implication is that real estate agents, contractors, architects, and others whose job involves property support a candidate to further their own agenda. Who are the people who donated almost twice as much to the campaign of Hahn? What is their motive? Are they people who oppose development? From the article, all I could glean was that Hahn’s donors were “history professors from UC Berkeley and other universities.” She raised almost $30,000 from history professors who live in District 5?! Why are these donors not subjected to the same scrutiny? 

I do not know Capitelli or Hahn personally, but I do know several of names of the “developers” who were outed by the article; some are neighbors, one is a person who helped me get a loan when I bought my home, and one is a contractor who remodels people’s homes for a living. These people might support Laurie Capitelli because he’s been a good representative of District 5. 

Jeffrey Goldstein 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

While visiting Alameda last week, I witnessed someone removing a “McCain-Palin” sign and replacing it with a “McCain-Palin” sign. 

Ove Ofteness 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The Berkeley statue on the pedestrian bridge is fun. So it’s representational. A little representational art never hurt anyone. 

My only complaint is that the representation is too post-1965, even in the little plaques surrounding the main statue. 

Berkeley’s specialness begins with Bishop Berkeley, after whom the city is named. Where is he? After all, in 1725 he advocated building a college in a remote spot on the edge of the world, in Bermuda, not thinking it the least inappropriate to build a college in a far away spot. (His visit to Rhode Island a couple of years later did not raise the money he had hoped for, so the plan was abandoned.) Berkeley was named in the 1860s by people who remembered his boosterism for the far west— “Westward the course of empire takes its way”—and especially the last line, “Time’s noblest offspring is the last.” They saw Berkeley, on the edge of the Pacific, as the end of westward expansion, and thus the “noblest” spot. 

We may not want to memorialize Benjamin Ide Wheeler riding his horse across campus. On the other hand, Ludwig in his fountain is worthy of remembrance. Some may complain that “no one remembers Ludwig,” but many of us recall the charming dog with great fondness. Forty years from now the memory of tree sitters may be equally (or even more) obscure to a younger generation. 

Maybe I’m being too critical too early: phase 2 of the construction may meet my desire for pre-1965 stuff.  

Phyllis Brooks Schafer 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

I work on campus. I want to thank you for your concern about the anti-zionist graffiti on the bus shelters. We must strive for respect in this community. That said, will you please release a similar statement concerning recent sexist and racist graffitit directed at the campus labor union AFSCME? During a union election this past week, two of our posters in lower sproul were defaced with virulent anti-immigrant and sexist graffiti, after hours, not twenty-feet from the Bancroft bus shelters. 

The workers of AFSCME carry this university on our backs. We deserve respect and visibility for our contribution. 

Thank you for you attention to this matter. 

Hank Chapot, UC Gardener 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Over the past several years, budgets throughout the region have been slashed. Certainly a lot of waste has been cut, and each city and county department is running a leaner, meaner operation. But some departments have been cut beyond a safe level. 

This is the case with the Berkeley Fire Department and Emergency Services, and that’s what Measure GG will rectify. Measure GG will put an end to fire station closures in Berkeley, and provide paramedic level equipment and response capability to the seven engines and two ladder trucks. 

Currently, Berkeley’s paramedic level response is provided only by the city’s three ambulances. The measure will also restore funding to the local CERT program that trains citizens in emergency operations, and equips those citizens with emergency equipment so they can immediately respond to an emergency or natural disaster and aid the first responders. 

Fire suppression, medical emergencies, and light search and rescue are what these civilian volunteers have been trained to do. Measure GG helps to make sure they (as well as any neighborhood in Berkeley) can continue to be trained and equipped in order to help our Fire Department protect life and property. 

Please vote Yes on Measure GG. 

Bob Humphrey 

Pleasant Hill  




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I taught chemistry at UC Berkeley for more than thirty years, and I applaud the Daily Planet Commentary of Priscilla Myrick, Berkeley School Board Candidate, stressing the importance of strengthening math and science teaching in the Berkeley schools. Especially is math so fundamental for all groups, since it is the key to so many professions—business, computing, engineering, architecture as well as science. Math skills have been a key to success for so many from abroad and from all walks of life in the U.S. 

John Rasmussen 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Well I’ve had a chance to look at the new Berkeley “protest” sculpture from a several angles now and it either a lousy piece of public art or the wrong kind of art for its location. At its present location it’s impossible to see in any detail (and it’s a detailed piece of art) and just looks like a jumble of forms seen mostly in silhouette. Even up close, which few people will really see, it’s confusing. I think it should have a more central location where more people can move close and around it. Where, I don’t know, perhaps replacing the joke sculpture down at the Berkeley pier or maybe somewhere on University Ave.—hmm, maybe in the People’s Park near the focus of much of the sculptures event. 

Bill Newton 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

What a disappointment! I went by the Tilden Park carousel recently, to check out the big buck renovation. The animal mounts look handsome indeed, but the painstakingly restored band organ, a marvel in its own right—I have pleasant memories of watching the mechanisms play real drums and cymbals—isn’t used! I enquired, and was told, “It’s too loud.” So the little kids go round and round to a cheesy recording played over bad speakers, in a space that now resembles a gloomy, dimly lit cave, even on a sunny day. Magic it ain’t. 

Dick Bagwell  




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Please support medical cannabis in Berkeley by voting yes on Measure JJ. 

For many people in Berkeley living with HIV/AIDS, cancer, chronic pain, and other afflictions, the best way to ease their suffering is with doctor-recommended medical cannabis. Berkeley’s three medical cannabis collectives have provided medicine and other wellness services for over seven years. Today these collectives are at risk. New development plans in Berkeley threaten to shut them down, and the city lacks a proper land-use procedure to relocate them. 

Measure JJ creates a procedure to allow these collectives to relocate, so that they can continue providing Berkeley’s patients with the medicine they need. JJ does not change the city law limiting Berkeley to no more than three collectives. Berkeley’s three collectives pay taxes, offer their employees a living wage and benefits, and support the community. 

JJ has been widely endorsed by, among others, the Alameda County Democratic Party, the United Democratic Campaign of Berkeley, the Cal Berkeley Democrats, Berkeley Citizens Action, ACLU-Berkeley, UC Berkeley Students for Sensible Drug Policy, the Green Party, the Oakland Tribune, the Bay Guardian, two Berkeley city council members, and Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson. There is no significant opposition to JJ. 

Please join us in supporting medical cannabis by voting yes on Measure JJ. For more information, see www.YesOnJJ. com. 

Megan Sand 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

District Four residents, if you haven’t voted yet, please mark your ballot on election day for Jesse Arreguin, a brilliant young man who is vying for a City Council seat in a crowded field. 

Jesse will bring energy and insight to crucial upcoming decisions including the Downtown and Southside Plans, a density bonus ordinance, the Climate Action Plan, and numerous other issues that will shape the City’s future. 

He has far more experience in housing, zoning, and the environment than all the other contenders combined, and his positions are balanced and thoughtful. 

Although Jesse’s support extends well beyond District Four, we are counting on you to make the wise choice on behalf of all the neighborhoods that will benefit from his expertise. 

Toni Mester 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The landlord lobby (Berkeley Property Owners’ Association) newsletter only attacks one candidate this year—Jesse Arreguin, who served effectively as the chair of the Housing Advisory Commission and the Rent Stabilization Board. That’s one more reason for tenants and progressives to vote for Jesse Arreguin for City Council in District 4. 

Tom Hunt 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I am writing in support of LA Wood who is running for the Berkeley Council Fourth District seat. LA is the candidate whose environmental and citizen-advocacy based politics most closely resembles the late and missed Dona Spring. As the only Green Party member on the Council, Dona was the force and voice for human survival on our threatened planet through better policy. LA Wood is the only candidate who has the experience and the expertise to challenge the tsunami of careless development that now threatens to transform the city into a toxic fiefdom of the University of California with their Bush-like attitude toward the biosphere. 

Anyone who has participated in any of the many different types of meetings, hearings, public comment, demonstrations knows how complex and treacherous the process of environmental defense is. LA served on the city’s Environmental Advisory commission (CEAC) and has spearheaded grass-roots campaigns against the big polluters like Pacific Castings. It was his activism that got the grants that bought the roof-top air monitors that finally revealed the stew of poisonous substances that somehow escaped notice of the state air quality management board with no challenge from local ‘leaders’. It was LA who called on the Council to better investigate the land the city bought for the Skate Park. Now we have $4 million gone and a polluted unusable site. LA was involved early on in the successful closing of the Tritium Facility, one of the nation’s worst tritium disasters dumping rad-waste daily on the kids at the Lawrence Science Museum. No other candidate better understands the subtle intricacies of the Federal and State environmental regulations and how best to protect the public. We need someone who has been in the trenches and knows the game. Vote LA Wood.  

Mark McDonald  




Editors, Daily Planet: 

In his October 9 candidate statement in the Planet, School Board incumbent and candidate John Selawsky brags that he has worked to “entirely solarize Washington Elementary School” and that his goal is “to solarize half of our Berkeley public schools in the next five years.” 

Now, most Berkeleyans support renewable energy, as do I. However, the School Board decided to “entirely solarize” Washington even as the Washington PTA pointed out that the project should be down-sized after implementing energy efficiency measures. That was never done, so we now have expensive solar panels fueling substantial energy waste. Further, the solar panels were paid for in large part with funds set aside for capital improvements.  

This kind of waste and failure to prioritize perhaps explains why Washington and Berkeley High kids have to schlep over to Washington’s shabby off-site bungalows due to a chronic shortage of classroom space. Having listened to all of the candidates and read their statements, Priscilla Myrick is the only one who speaks specifically to the need to establish priorities and stick to them, rather than respond to every worthy cause that comes along. Providing sufficient and decent classrooms is one of her priorities. She’s got my vote. 

Nancy Rader 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I think everyone should read the column in last week’s paper by Priscilla Myrick, who is running for school board. Now is not the time to back off math and science education. My daughter went to Berkeley High and greatly benefited from double-period science there. 

For those people who are voting for District 4 councilmember, you may know that Terry Dornan always opposed double-period science. He said it “wasn’t fair.” That is why I am not voting for him. Who knows what other helpful policies he will consider “not fair”? 

Jenifer Steele 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I wish to thank Jef Poskanzer for his letter about Meansure WW in which he mentions me. As I said in my own letter I will abstain from voting for it because I don’t know if those opposed or for it are right or wrong. I sent my letter primarily to remind East Bay Regional Parks and others of the outrage of the fence around the meadow in the Berkeley Marina. To say that the park system “merely manages it” is misleading. Along with Citizens for East Shore Parks, of which Shirley Dean was a member of the board, they had, from what I learned, a considerable influence in regard to the fence and they could have the same influence in taking it down. My personal experience with Mr. LaForce whom he mentions in his letter was when I attended a meeting of CESP, where Mr. LaForce was the chairman and where he was totally deaf to hearing anything about the fence, which Mr. Poskanzer says he helped to construct, and he then moved to have the meeting proceed to another matter.  

Pete Najarian 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Your attempt to smear City Council candidate Terry Doran as a “developer” is misplaced and illogical. Mr. Doran has been workig hard for all Berkeleyans since he was an active and engaged teacher at Berkeley High School in the 1970s. He has the perspective and experience to understand there is good development and bad development. I have no doubt he will make reasoned decisions based on what is best for the majority of Berkeleyans, as he has done for more than 30 years. 

Paul Lecky 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

Why was the community of downtown merchants and cultural institutions denied a voice in the planning of downtown? 

By edict, the Downtown Area Plan Advisory Commission (DAPAC) was seated only with appointed citizens. No seats were designated for merchants, downtown institutions or the Downtown Berkeley Association. Thus, no one on the commission had a livelihood stake in downtown. 

Like any human, the DAPAC commissioners pursued their interests and their priorities with some mind to their formal charge. Their interests reflected the core values of Berkeley citizens such as historic preservation and “sustainability.” Plantings and pedestrian safety were much discussed. Means to limit autos was the most popular topic. 

But commissioners’ interests did not much extend to the abc’s of downtown business vitality. Yawns greeted the three minute “public comment” speeches by the Downtown Berkeley Association. No envoys from vibrant small cities were asked to appear. Little curiosity was sparked by merchants of our downtown who are survivors of its commerce-unfriendly environment. Of course, merchants and institutions were allowed to speak for three minutes in the pre-agenda slot with the hoi polloi. 

With no human voice on the committee, the businesses and institutions of downtown were as inanimate “Monopoly” game tokens, to be moved about at will. With nothing personally at stake and no method of collaborating with those who have everything at stake, the commissioners talked about downtown for nearly three years. They authored a plan for its future. City staff has subsequently made small adjustments. But their efforts can not replace the voice which was omitted. 

We want the streets of our downtown to feel alive, don’t we? But what message did we send to those we expect to animate it? 

Bruce Wicinas 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The National Women’s Political Caucus- Alameda North (NWPC-AN) strongly encourages The Berkeley Daily Planet to endorse NO on Prop 4. Proposition 4 is an attempt to solve a problem that doesn’t exist, while endangering our teens’ safety and challenging a woman’s right to privacy. 

Look familiar? This is the third attempt in the last four years parental notification has appeared on the California ballot. Twice before, California voters said no and are encouraged to vote against this wolf in sheep’s clothing initiative, for the third time. 

Parents rightfully want to be involved in their teenagers’ lives, and the good news is that most teens do go to their parents when faced with an unintended pregnancy. But in the real world, parental notification laws don’t work. No law can mandate family communication. If passed, some girls will seek out illegal abortions rather than notify their parents; some will attempt to hide the pregnancy and give birth alone; and some may panic and take their own lives in a state of desperation. 

There is no evidence that Prop 4 enhances our teens’ safety and welfare. It is time to protect a woman’s right to choice... again. 

Frieda K Edgette (Glantz) 

Communications Chair 

National Women’s Political Caucus—Alameda North 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I am amazed that the City of Berkeley is still putting up with promoter Eugene Cockerham. 

A dozen years ago, he rented halls in north Berkeley, Queen Aida Hall and Berkeley Black Repertory Theater in south Berkeley, San Pablo Recreation facility in west Berkeley, and other similar facilities in Berkeley and adjacent cities. Each time the result was out of control, unruly crowds, fights, gunfire, local property damage such as people dancing on car roofs and hoods, noise and nuisance, typically requiring massive police (30-40 officers) presence to disperse the crowds. My vague memory is one person was shot and killed at one of the Berkeley events. 

He always promises small quiet parties as he rents the various halls and auditoriums, and now apparently restaurants. 

He then puts up fliers at Berkeley High School and other high schools. Word of a party anywhere travels quickly with this age group. He collects his money fast at the door, but then quickly disappears when things get out of control, leaving both the facility owners and the party patrons burned when the police and/or the fire department close down the overcrowded facility. 

Seeing the repeated pattern, I phone police and other offices in several adjacent cities to find out how they handled similar events. They all knew who Cockerham was, but they quickly put a stop to his activities in their jurisdictions. I wrote this information up in detail and presented it to the planning commission along with several recommendations that were successfully being used in adjacent cities. Then Assistant City Attorney Zack Cowen argued that with some minor tweaks, the existing City of Berkeley procedures were more than adequate to handle the problem. 

Apparently not. And now Berkeley’s method of cracking down is sending another letter to restaurant owners. 

Eerily similar to the City of Berkeley’s lack of will to close down long term drug houses despite the Alameda County Grand Jury’s conclusion that the city’s inaction in that area is essentially misfeasance and dereliction of duty. It seems that because we are a college or university town, anything goes and rules don’t apply. 

Osman Vincent 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Richard Brenneman’s recent articles in the Daily Planet missed the real campaign finance story in this Berkeley City Council election. District 5 candidate Sophie Hahn has invested $55,000 in her campaign for the City Council, including $19,000 of her own money and almost $14,000 from out-of-town donors as far away as London. No District 5 candidate has ever spent event $30,000. While money always helps a campaign, it doesn’t qualify a candidate, measure substantive community knowledge or provide real experience in Berkeley politics. District 5 needs a Council representative with demonstrated experience who is committed to making a Berkeley a better place, not to advancing a political career. That candidate is Laurie Capitelli. 

Lessly Field 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I appreciate the Planet’s effort in holding a mayoral forum on October 27. However, it was billed as a discussion between the only two credible and legally-qualified candidates, Shirley Dean and Tom Bates, and I was looking forward to a serious one-on-one. 

Instead, two persons who failed to meet the minimal requirements to appear on the ballot showed up and forced themselves onto the podium (as “write-in candidates”), proceeding to take valuable time away from Dean and Bates, and diluting the discussion with their personal opinions in which no one is really interested at the moment. I understand how hard it is to turn such persons away and do not hold the Planet responsible. Instead, I say shame on Zachary Running Wolf and Khalil Jacobs-Fantauzzi for horning in and disrespecting the rules to become a candidate, the rules about invited speakers, and the rightful expectations of attendees. 

To me, this is not at all amusing. It’s part of the mis-en-scene that often makes Berkeley a laughing stock in the real world. Imagine, if this type of things happened in the final presidential debates.  

I left very early. 

Barbara Gilbert 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

Thanks for the story about Susan Wengraf raising money for her run for city council (Only One Major Fund-Raiser In Three City Council Races). You are right about one thing, she’s done well. She has over 235 contributions, everything from $25 up to $250. But come on guys, you’re stretching the truth when your category for developers includes a professor of planning, an interior designer and real estate agents (who, chances are, only sell old houses). What next? Why not a house painter because she paints houses? A writer because he works out of his house? 

Susan Wengraf, has been helping constituents of District Six for 16 years as Betty Olds’ assistant. So it’s not surprising then that she would receive contributions from people all over the spectrum which includes conservationists, teachers, social workers, artists, and a lot of just plain citizens like me who are convinced she’s the best person for the job. 

Anna Avellar 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I am amazed that there is any opposition to Measure FF. Measure FF will allow a 30 year, $26 million bond to raise the funds that will be used to fix, improve and make our branch library buildings safe and accessible for everyone. Libraries are the most popular of public services and we need to be committed to their maintenance and preservation. Measure FF will fund seismic retrofits, repair roofs, foundations, electrical and plumbing, expand space in some branches, and make the branches more accessible and welcoming to children and adults with disabilities. Access issues in the branch libraries have been ignored for too long. An investment in our branch libraries benefits us now and will benefit future generations of Berkeley residents. I can’t think of a better use of our money. 

Susan Henderson 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Why are PACs flooding Albany to elect certain candidates? 

They want a 5–0 PAC candidate Council majority to totally control Albany. A Sierra Club PAC endorsement sounds objective. It’s not. The candidates must pay for the “endorsement.” PACs also want to impose Big City politics on Albany with their Measure Y, a directly elected mayor. 

Albany works—it need no Measure Y. 84 percent of all California cities Albany size use the system we’ve used since 1927 including Emeryville, Piedmont, Orinda, Moraga, and all Marin cities south of San Rafael. Each city’s community-centered system of 5 Council members rotating the mayor position in every case creates a stable, desirable place to live. 

PAC influence is obvious. 

In a June 2008 Council meeting Lieber, Wile, and Atkinson voted $600,000 of your money to do a visioning process of Golden Gate Fields, a private property—a vision of when Golden Gate Fields is “gone.” The racetrack is privately owned, not closing, and so alienated by Lieber’s tactics that they will not even accept his calls either corporate or local. A City consultant in 2007 warned that any process without property owner commitment fails and wastes money. 

Albany projects a 2009 deficit of $200,000. If Thomsen, Javandel, and Pilch are elected we could postpone/cancel this study and save $400,000. It eliminates the deficit, and creates a $200,000 cushion. 

On May 19, 2008 Lieber asked the Council to vote to improve nurses’ benefits at Alta-Bates-Summit where he works as a nurse. The City Attorney warned Lieber he had a conflict of interest. The CA Nurses Association PAC sent you one of the 4 flyers you received last week. 

We have only one choice to regain control of Albany: elect candidates Thomsen, Javandel, and Pilch, and Vote NO on Measure Y. A local newspaper has endorsed these three independent candidates in the editorial “Albany Needs Rational Leadership.” They also oppose Measure Y. 

Break the PACs hold on Albany. Vote for Thomsen, Javandel and Pilch. PACs need elect only one PAC candidate to control Albany. If they do, in 2010 and after, only PAC-endorsed candidates can afford to run in Albany. Albany’s century of citizen government ends. 

James D. Cleveland 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

Please vote Yes on Measure HH. It is vital that every voter in Berkeley votes for Measure HH. This measure continues critical property tax funding for the City’s emergency medical services. This measure would not raise taxes in any way. The passage of Measure HH will authorize the City to continue using existing tax deductions for emergency medical services, parks, and libraries. Easy Does It Emergency Services, which addresses the critical needs of Berkeley residents with disabilities, depends on this funding. Thank you for voting Yes for Measure HH. 

Leslie Gordon and Gina Sasso 


Easy Does It Emergency Services 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

On Saturday some of the young people of Nevada County lined the Nevada City bridge. The refrain ‘No on 8’, ‘No on 8’, ‘No on 8’ and cars honking in agreement was music to my ears. 

Enthusiastic kids, 13 to 17, who know the truth that Prop. 8 is an anti-gay measure and that marriage is about love and a spiritual connection, were standing up for their convictions. 

They were giving back to the community and saying no to the bogus and self-righteous agenda of religious conservatives. No on 8. 

Ron Lowe  

Nevada City  




Editors, Daily Planet: 

It is not enough for the religious right to kick gays out of their churches, families and communities. Now they must have a constitutional amendment making gays second class citizens, stripping them of the right to marry which was granted by our supreme court. Now they give millionsto the “Yes on 8 “ campaign. Millions that could have bought much food and warmth for the poor this winter. I guess they feel Prop 8 is more important. 

If Prop 8 passes it will be nothing more than a tool for people to extract from their lives others they are uncomfortable with and to further shore up the walls that divide gay and straight people. Every homosexual was born of a heterosexual union. This means there are a lot of people turning their backs on their own sons and daughters by voting “yes” on prop 8. 

It also means we are not so very different from one another. 

Daniel J Chaney 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I expect many Berkeley voters will be joining me this election in voting NO on all the tax-raising measures on the ballot – FF, GG, and HH. With the stock market in free fall, declining home values, and a slumping economy, there is no better time to tell our elected officials that we’ve had enough of the politics of brinksmanship. 

That’s where our elected representatives in city government spend every cent in the budget and then place essential services in jeopardy. Each year they faithfully bring us to the brink of insolvency. Their message to you: pay more tax or else! 

Your message to them should be “NO.” Don’t be tempted by arguments that the services at risk—say, fire protection—are too vital to neglect. By placing such services at risk, 100 percent of the neglect is due to the politicians who have followed wasteful and unwise policies. 

Nor should you be swayed by the argument that the additional taxes requested are relatively small. Your current tax bill is an accumulation over time of similar “small” increases. Politicians have played citizens against each other in a game of “divide and conquer” for decades.  

2008 is the year to put a stop to them by voting “NO.” It’s the only word they will understand—every part of it. 

Jim Fisher 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Measure LL is such a serious threat to Berkeley’s future, that I want to urge voters to do more than just voting NO on Measure LL. Vote for candidates who oppose Measure LL, because they understand that residents should have a voice in the future of their own communities – a voice that they would lose if Measure LL were to pass.  

Vote for: 

* Shirley Dean for Mayor 

* Jesse Arreguin for Council in District 4 

* Sophie Hahn for Council in District 5 

* Phoebe Sorgen for Council in District 6. 

The only way that we’re going to stop the blatant favoritism that the City Council shows to developers is to replace the Council members who ignore residents’ concerns. That’s real change.  

The same Chamber PAC that violated campaign laws with impunity in 2006 is back in this election with a last-minute mailer making the outrageous claim that Measure LL is a preservation ordinance. Measure LL is no such thing! It’s designed to help developers destroy historic buildings and neighborhoods by minimizing community input. The fact that pro-development members of the City Council have to rely on the discredited Chamber PAC to make their case only shows the lengths that they will go to in order to get citizens to vote against their own interests. Vote NO on Measure LL and then vote for the candidates who are ethical enough to oppose it.  

Susan Chase  




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I’m asking all registered voters in Berkeley to vote with me for Beatriz Leyva-Cutler for School Board. 

Most of you know me as one of the founding members of PCAD (“Parents of Children of African Descent”) and UIA (“United In Action”.) Some of you know me as an education advocate. Some of you know me as a former member of the Leadership Council for the CAS (Communication Arts and Sciences) small school at Berkeley High. 

All of those things aside, I am writing to you as a citizen of Berkeley who loves the potential that this city has to offer and recognizes the hard work ahead. 

Our school district is at a defining moment. We have hired a superintendent who brings a variety of skills to our district, including the expertise to provide solutions and strategies for our most significant problem – disparities in achievement between our students of color and their white and Asian peers. The City, District and United In Action have formed a partnership to collaboratively develop strategies so that all children can succeed in our schools. 

Like the presidential election, we cannot successfully move forward with more of the same. We’ve got to seize this opportunity to bring new leadership to our board that will support the work of our new superintendent. And further, this problem is bigger than our schools. The City of Berkeley, Health Status Report, 2007 states the following: 

“Social Determinants of Health: Education—There is a strong, positive relationship between education and health that is well documented. The more education a person gets, the better his/her health.” 

Our schools provide the academic tools to our citizens that help them to become healthy, informed, empowered and engaged members of this community. Healthy citizens are the bedrock of a strong and vibrant community. For these reasons and more, I am voting for Beatriz. Her professional career and community efforts have been dedicated to supporting children, youth, and families. 

Beatriz is an employee of The Bay Area Hispano Institute for Advancement (BAHIA), a program that provides bilingual early care and education to children ages 2-10 years, serving as Executive Director for the past 20 years. You can look at all of her qualifications at her website, She is committed to the support of our children and families. 

She has the experience, leadership skills, passion and compassion to be an exemplary director. We cannot return to the leadership of the past. Beatriz provides the leadership that will help all children and students in Berkeley become lifelong learners and ultimately, healthy, engaged, informed and productive citizens in our 21st century City. 

Beatriz Leyva-Cutler for School Board! A Vote for Our Children and Families! 

Michael D. Miller  




Editors, Daily Planet: 

At the mayoral debate on Oct. 27, Tom Bates said “Measure KK would prevent the city council from even taking a look at BRT” or planning any other transit system involving dedicated lanes. 

As Shirley Dean pointed out, this is completely untrue. Under the measure, the city would simply have to demonstrate to the voters that the benefits of any proposed plan would outweigh the detriments. This is exactly the type of discussion we have been trying to have with the city—and Bates, as usual, shows little interest in having a dialog with rank and file citizens. I suppose that’s why he never returned my phone calls a year ago when I first heard about BRT. 

It’s only out of frustration with the city’s lack of dialog on BRT, that 3000 Berkeley voters signed the petition to get the initiative on the ballot. They felt there was no other way to get their voice heard. If it were not for the work of our coalition, BRT would have been rubber stamped by the City Council with a minimum of public input and little regard for the needs of Berkeley residents. 

It’s clear that the Bates plan for Berkeley is to use BRT to create Transit Station-oriented high density development so that, to quote Bates, “the people who work in the city (i.e. at the Cal/LBL/British Petroleum facility) can live in the city.” This high density development will allows the city to alter the character of Berkeley forvever, generating real estate transfer fees, profits for developers and capturing Federal dollars. But the residents of Berkeley will find themselves living in an Emeryville-like canyon of high-rise condos. 

Ironically, under this plan for Berkeley, Bates and crew get points for being Green. Hence the Sierra Club’s and League of Women Voters pathetically misguided endorsement of Bates. But cutting down trees to put up concrete and stucco seems like a rather grey vision to me and the many people who chose to live in Berkeley for its unique character. 

In short, a yes vote for Measure KK will force the city to meet with neighborhood groups and work with AC Transit to develop a bus improvement plan that meets the needs of Berkeley residents, and not just the University of California. Vote Yes on Meaure KK. 

Bruce Kaplan 

Berkeleyans for Better Transit 

Co-proponent of Measure KK 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Berkeley voters have just received a mailer containing the biggest lie told thus far in our local races. What whopper dwarfs all of the other lies? This mailer makes the incredible claim that voting for Measure LL would “support Berkeley’s landmarks ordinance.” But this is the very ordinance that Measure LL repeals and then replaces with a substantially weaker, developer-friendly ordinance. It’s an outright lie, just as it’s a lie to refer to Measure LL as a landmarks preservation ordinance at all, since it really is designed to expedite demolitions of Berkeley’s historic resources.  

The source of this deception should be no surprise to Berkeley voters. It’s a group with a well-earned reputation for this kind of activity—the political division of the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber PAC, as it is known, spent over $100,000 in 2006 to further its extreme pro-development, anti-neighborhood agenda. The lion’s share of the money was spent to defeat a measure designed to save our current Landmarks Preservation Ordinance, the one that Measure LL would now repeal. Subsequently, the Chamber PAC was found to be in violation of campaign finance disclosure laws and folded. Now it’s reopened, but it’s up to the same old dirty tricks.  

If Measure LL was actually good for Berkeley, then the Chamber PAC wouldn’t have to lie to try to get it passed. It’s only good for developers and the politicians who benefit from their money. Don’t be fooled by people who see profit in destroying Berkeley’s neighborhoods and environment. Vote “no” on Measure LL and save Berkeley’s landmarks for future generations.  

Judith Epstein  




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Measure LL signs on both private and public property are being stolen and vandalized at an alarming rate. Are Measure LL supporters so bereft of arguments to make in its favor that they can only resort to dirty tricks?  

This rash of thefts coincides with the entry of the Chamber PAC into the election as the champion of Measure LL. The Chamber PAC was found guilty of election violations in the 2006 election, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if the same unsavory tactics continue this time around.  

We have to stand up to these powerful development interests. Residents whose signs have been stolen or vandalized may write to or call 524-0949 for replacement signs. Be sure to contact the Berkeley Police Department if these acts occurred on private property. Most of all, vote NO on Measure LL.  

Austene Hall  




Editors, Daily Planet: 

While I am not surprised at The Planet’s use of flexible truthiness in its editorial and news pages, I would expect you to at least adhere to the rules of basic arithmetic, which are generally not thought of as being subject to interpretation. More specifically, in the article “Only One Major Fund-Raiser in Three City Council Races” (Oct. 23), reporter Richard Brenneman writes “...Wengraf received substantial funding from that [development] sector,” and after listing development sector contributors (including planning professors, lawyers, and even interior designers!), states “The total of $3,750 represents 21 percent of Wengraf’s total contributions.” 

Adding up his own numbers we get a total of $3,500, not $3,750. Wengraf’s total contributions were $27,070; thus only 13 percent of her total contributions comes from his ridiculously expansive definition of “development interests”. Hardly “substantial funding.” Looked at another way, she has received 87 percent of her donations from more than 200 citizens in the non-development sector. 

Judith Tabb 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

One thing leapt out from Steve Geller’s October 23 commentary. Regarding businesses deliveries, he says: “Mid-morning deliveries to businesses are often obstructed by cars parked along Telegraph, so the truck drivers simply block a traffic lane. Nobody seems to object to this practice, noteven the police.” 

Well, of course, nobody objects to this now, because we have two lanes of traffic in each direction. If a lane is blocked by a delivery truck, drivers can simply pull into the second lane. But if Measure KK loses and the two center lanes are dedicated exclusively to AC Transit buses, a lane obstruction wouldn’t be just an inconvenience – it would be a nightmare that would bring all traffic to a dead halt! 

Most people grasp immediately that losing the two center lanes of traffic on Telegraph Avenue is a very bad idea. That’s why people from all parts of town and all walks of life, including bicyclists and bus riders, signed the petition to put Measure KK on the ballot. 

Vote yes on Measure KK. 

Gale Garcia 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

As unpleasant as the election season can be, I am always interested in candidates’ forums, because it’s the only time that members of the public have a chance to ask questions of our elected officials. Sadly, we have a mayor who seems to avoid interacting with the public in all but tightly controlled situations, reminiscent of the way President Bush has been handled for reasons that have become all too obvious. 

In the last few months, Mayor Bates has failed to participate in almost all candidates forums sponsored by various community groups. On Monday night at the mayoral debate, sponsored by the Berkeley Daily Planet, we found out why. Mayor Bates did participate, but he avoided answering questions directly, and he almost seemed incapable of giving a coherent explanation of his policies. 

But how can a mayor who regularly seems to resent having to interact with the public be effective at his job? He can’t, because he’s only open to getting information from a limited number of sources. Over the six years that Mayor Bates has been in office, it’s only gotten worse. I can’t imagine the extent to which citizens will be excluded from input in major decisions if he is allowed to stay in office for another four years. 

It’s time for a change at City Hall. I’m supporting former mayor Shirley Dean, because she has demonstrated a mastery of public policy and she is more than willing to listen to citizens. 

Gus Lee 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The “Committee to Safeguard AC Transit, Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District Parcel Tax Measure VV” is the committee in support of the county-wide parcel tax on the November ballot for AC Transit. This committee donated $20,000 to the campaign against Measure KK, the Berkeley measure that would require a vote of the people before traffic lanes could be removed from general use for buses only. 

Why is the Measure VV campaign so wealthy that it has money to spare? 

The Campaign Disclosure Statement for the Measure VV campaign, filed at the County Registrar’s Office, reveals that a single donation of $250,000 came from the ABC Company, which happens to be the US distributor of the extremely unpopular VanHool buses. 

Martha Jones 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

In Berkeley, hit pieces are often sent to voters late in the election, to confuse innocents and demoralize others. A postcard re Measure LL on which we should all vote NO!, would allow Mayor Bates new Landmark “Preservation” Ordinance (LPO) to replace our 34 year State-Certified LPO. The original LPO has helped preserve our flatlands neighborhoods, parks, libraries, schools, from big regional development plans. 

The “Powers that Be” in Berkeley, including Tom Bates elected to the State Assembly, gained a supermajority in the early 1980’s. They have not lost their majority to date! 

This group is a powerful political machine today. They manipulate local policies and endorsements of groups large and small, including the Sierra Club and League of Women Voters! 

Our “machine” uses tricks to take and hold power. 

Here is a protest song about the machine’s favorite trick—to get busy voters especially students, parents, workers, and newcomers, to vote their complete voter slate cards recommendations. 

Sing this to the tune of “Doing’ What Comes Naturally”: 

Folks are dumb, 

Where I come from, 

When they vote with slate cards, 

They vote for those, 

They don’t know, 

That’s why they give’em slate cards!! 

So read your Voter Handbook, talk to people you trust, and only vote for what you really understand and believe in. 

Merilee Mitchell 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I am concerned by the basic civil rights implications of Proposition 8. Those who believe that all Californians deserve the same rights, benefits and protections under the law should vote NO on Proposition 8. 

I support marriage equality for all people. 

Catherine Montgomery 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

Maybe people who don’t think like me or act like me shouldn’t be allowed to get married. Let me think about this. Yes. Okay. I think that anyone who would ever try and limit the freedom or equality of anyone else, unless that person had committed a serious crime, that person should never be allowed to marry or raise children—or be permitted to pass along that anti-American mind-set to any one else’s children. Wait, no, that would make me also a bigot. And I am not. I believe that anyone’s—everyone’s—freedom is as important as mine. I even think that it is an important right for people, who want to do so, to teach their children that gay people should not get married. Exercising that right represents an important freedom. 

Proposition 8 is a ballot initiative promoting bigotry. We must not amend the California constitution to include discrimination of any kind. Please consider what a horrid anti-American proposition that is, and vote NO on Prop 8. 

Vicki McReynolds 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

Proposition 8 is a ballot initiative that increases fear and hatred. 

I was raised by my heterosexual parents to pay my taxes, work hard and be a good person. I am now a Christian minister and have devoted my life to service. I am a hospital chaplain and spend my days trying to help people who are facing the end of life, who are frightened, who are lonely. If you met me you might think I look like any of your friends and neighbors. Yet in my life because I am lesbian, I have been called horrible names and even threatened—which was very painful for me and deeply frightening for my mother—like any parent she wants her children to be happy and free. This proposition claims that for me to have the same rights as anyone else somehow threatens the marriages of heterosexuals. Are the proponents of this measure saying I’m somehow responsible for the high divorce rate in our country? 

I’ve heard people say that they prefer “marriage” to remain as it traditionally has been: between one man and one woman. Yet “traditionally” Judeo-Christian marriage has been between one man and several women. Also “traditionally” it was illegal for a black person and white person to marry. Clearly we do not embrace these “traditions” any longer. So, how can my having the same rights as my heterosexual brother, to be given full social standing, to be fully a part of our community, threaten anyone? 

We can not amend the California constitution to include discrimination of any kind and that’s why I’m voting NO on Prop 8 and I hope the rest of my state will stand with me. 

Kelly Childress 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

Why haven’t the mainstream media covered in more detail the out of state religious organizations from Utah and the likes on contributing $25 million dollars to interfere with the basic rights of Californians. 

Who is this Mark Baldazar, and what gives him the right to interfere with the civil rights of ordinary Americans. 

Gay marriage is a right not a privilege. I had the privilege to serve in the United States Armed Forces, I am straight. How dare these ignorant individuals violate what so many hold dear, and to show their love with marriage. This is what I served to defend. 

P.S. I think Gavin Newsom is a swell guy to break the ice in this matter. 

Stefan Gilkerson