Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

Thursday November 20, 2008 - 10:09:00 AM




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I want to add my voice to those who protested the censorship at the Windows Gallery. This exhibition was a part of the nationwide protest exhibitions which, under the title “Art and Democracy,” organized many exhibitions of political art. I have been working with this enterprise and, as far as I know, the only show that was censored was here in Berkeley, the birthplace of the Free Speech Movement. In a country where one and all are carrying and using deadly weapons, it does seem important to let people—including children—know what they do and how they kill. Our Civic Arts Commission, which approved the ridiculous sculpture on the Pedestrian Bridge, should know better than to ban an exhibition which might have added to our discourse of bearing arms. 

Peter Selz 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I am responding to some statements in this paper about the “Art in Democracy” exhibit, originally scheduled for the Addison Street Windows Gallery. 

The show was canceled by Art Hazelwood, the organizer, not by the city. 

The guidelines for the Windows Gallery are simple, and are made explicitly clear to artists when they apply for an exhibit, months prior to the opening. Mr. Hazelwood had a choice: agree to the guidelines, or decline to exhibit. In an e-mail to the curator in January, 2008 he wrote “I think we can fill the windows without sex, violence or guns.” 

In October, Mr. Hazelwood and the curator met to verify the images he had selected, and they concurred that four of the works clearly failed to meet the criteria for inclusion in the Gallery. Mr. Hazelwood agreed to show the remaining posters, self-censoring his own exhibit in accordance with the guidelines. A few days later he flip-flopped. He canceled the exhibition just days before it was scheduled to open, breaching his contract with the city.  

Recently, in a public meeting, Mr. Hazelwood admitted his agreement to the guidelines was a commitment he fully intended to break. Then he and his associates went to the media with invented issues of free speech and censorship. I believe Mr. Hazelwood and his coterie carefully planned this misrepresentation in order to set up the city and gain publicity.  

Joel Teller 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Addison Street Windows Curator Carol Brighton is to be congratulated for her efforts. Her intellectual forebear Thomas Bowdler would undoubtedly be proud of her. 

Guns are just the tip of the iceberg. Swords, knives, baseball bats, fists, civilian airplanes, even rope deserve a place on Ms. Brighton’s proscribed list.  

Ms. Brighton and Ms. Merker ought to turn over the names of artists manque such as Doug Minkler and Jos Sances to the Department of Homeland Security for a thorough investigation of their un-American art. Gitmo is still open, at least for the next 70 days or so. 

Ms. Merker and Ms. Brighton undoubtedly have the wholehearted support of Mayor Bates, personally experienced as he is in suppressing the free-speech rights of Berkeley residents. 

Shankar Ramamoorthy 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

In honor of the election of Barack Obama I believe we should start a new dance craze called “The Obama.” It should be jazzy, classy and upbeat. I believe it will catch on. 

We have the Macarena, the Jitterbug, the Charleston, the Two Step, Swing, the Tango, the Waltz, the Polka, etc. I am open to suggestions as to what form the dance “The Obama” should take.  

Possibilities for “The Obama” are: 

1. Democratic version: Two steps forward, one step back (not everything goes as you plan or hope), swing or circle to the left, always to the left. Have the audacity to hope for the best. 

2. Republican version: Two steps back, never forward, always swing or turn to your right. Hope the craze never catches on. 

3. The Independent voter version: Do not participate. Never take the dance floor. Be a wallflower.  

4. The Green Party version: Expend as much energy as humanly possible. Try to harness that energy and put it to good use. 

5. The Libertarian version: Dance freely with no structure whatsoever. Try hard to keep in tempo with the beat but don’t fret the structure or rigidity of the dance. Express yourself with no concern about what effect you are having on others. 

6. The Sarah Palin version: Dosado and pander to the right. Never Alemende left. Don’t bother learning how to dance, just do it. Dance as if God is directing your every step. 

Paul M. Schwartz 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Daniella Thompson writes in her interesting Nov. 13 article on William Henry Smyth and his Fernwald property that the Smyth House was “built in 1889 by realtor Joseph L. Scotchler, a leading Berkeley Republican...”  

Property records and newspaper articles are essential research tools, but they do not necessarily tell the whole, or most accurate, story. 

Years ago while researching, in my UC staff capacity, the history of the California Schools for the Deaf and Blind campus in Berkeley, I came across a fascinating photograph of the school site, now the Clark Kerr campus. 

The photograph, identified as taken in 1874, looked from the vicinity of what is now Garber Street northeast across the fields, showing the Deaf School campus and, beyond it on an otherwise open hillside, a white Victorian house with adjacent barn and plantings.  

The photograph must date from before January 1875, when the main stone edifice on the school campus burned. 

The hillside house in the photograph is so similar to Smyth House in massing, siting, and details such as placement of chimneys and windows, that I have thought it most probably shows the earlier incarnation of what is now Smyth House. If that is the case it’s far older than 1889, dating to the early 1870s at least.  

I thought I also might offer a helpful bit of additional detail on the origins of the Fernwald dormitories. During World War II, many fraternities in Berkeley shut down for the duration, and were rented to women who made up the majority of the Cal student population from the fall of 1943 through the spring of 1945.  

When the war ended the fraternities notified their women residents that they would have to leave. The construction of the Fernwald residence halls for women was one of the results. Later, they became co-educational, with separate buildings for men and women students and, still later, were converted to the family student apartments that remain there today.  

Margaret Dewell, my old supervisor at the University’s Housing Office, who was at Cal in that period, always recalled with pride the speed with which the campus responded to that sudden housing crisis at the end of the War. She referred to the Fernwald dormitories as “90-day wonders,” since they were constructed in about three months. 

Because of his gift of property that became the Fernwald residence halls, William Smyth’s name is now inscribed with those of individuals such as Phoebe Hearst, Jane Sather, and the Haas family, on the University’s memorial wall honoring “Builders of Berkeley” near the north entrance to Doe Library. 

Steven Finacom 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Regarding Judith Segard Hunt’s Nov. 13 letter demanding that people using senior BART tickets pay double during rush hour: I qualify for these tickets, and use them every morning on my way to the part-time job in Oakland that keeps me from living on the street and starving to death. Does Ms. Hunt think that all the seniors who so inconvenience her by riding BART during rush hour are on their way to the golf course? If so, than I can only hope and pray that she finds herself in the same position when her time comes. For shame! 

Michael Stephens 

Point Richmond 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

The election results showed a solid pro-transit majority in Berkeley. Over 70 percent supported AC Transit’s Measure VV, 

and over 75 percent voted no on Berkeley’s anti-BRT Measure KK. If the Belgian manufacturer of Van Hool buses really did contribute to these campaigns, I’d like to think the result was better-informed voters. 

While Berkeley was considering KK, the city of Cleveland implemented a new BRT, with proof of payment (POP), hybrid buses and bus-only lanes.  

Now that we know that a majority of us want better bus service, it’s time to stop fooling around; we should ignore the endless minority misinformation campaigns and start planning for a BRT that will both give us car-free transportation and make a real contribution to the fight against global warming. Berkeley cannot claim to have a real Climate Action Plan unless Berkeley is planning for BRT—with bus-only lanes. 

We should negotiate reasonable compromises on the bus-only lanes. They don’t have to be everywhere. Some sections can be bus-only just during the rush hours. AC Transit should implement POP on the Rapid lines now. If Van Hool can’t supply hybrid buses for BRT, AC Transit should get them from Orion. AC Transit should stop sending people on junkets to Belgium and start sending observers to New York City (which runs Orions) and of course to see Cleveland’s BRT. I may visit Cleveland myself this spring. 

Steve Geller 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

It seems to me that 9,900 people who care for Telegraph Avenue voted for this and that 29,000 people who thought they were saving polar bears voted against it. 

It is very uncertain that carbon or pollution would be saved by BRT. The traffic back-ups that result will cause a good deal of pollution. Bus ridership will decrease because local service will be eliminated so there will be fewer buses spitting diesel into the air. This is a blessing for greenies but not for most bus users. 

We’ve got to face the fact that AC Transit is doing it for the money and prestige of having a BRT system. Our mayor is trying to amass green credentials in hopes of a job in the Obama administration. I do hope he gets one, it will save us a lot of trouble. 

No one is fooling anyone about the ridership on buses from Oakland to Berkeley. The route parallels BART for longer distances, and the true ridership is on the local that serves the people who live on Telegraph. 

We have ridden and studied the situation and if ever there was a tempest in a teapot, this is it.  

We’ve also got to face the fact that successful BRTs add lanes for traffic and the web is full of examples of huge traffic jams caused by BRTs that reduce lanes for cars. These sure cause pollution and carbon. 

Even though GM may well disappear, cars are here to stay, our towns are designed for them, and many of us, including me, cannot walk well enough any more to get to a bus. We need our car. 

George Oram 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Did you participate in the Coastal Cleanup in September? Thousands of volunteers came out to help pick up trash along California’s beaches and waterways as part of a global effort. 

Unfortunately, the recent rains flushed a fresh load of styrofoam cups, plastic bags, cigarette butts, and other non-degradable trash down into the storm sewers, and out into the bay. The streets and sidewalks of Berkeley, like most other cities in the world, are littered with plastic trash. Although most plastic waste ends up in landfills, the fraction which does wind up as litter constitutes a major pollution problem. Much of this litter will wash out into the Pacific ocean to join a huge floating plastic garbage patch, and it will remain there indefinitely. Plastic does not biodegrade, and therefore it is critical that we find ways to reduce and eventually eliminate plastic litter. Otherwise future generations will inherit a world choked by our carelessly discarded coffee cups and soda straws. 

What to do? Each of us must play a role. Make sure your trash doesn’t wind up on the sidewalk or in the gutter. Don’t overfill trash cans. Pick up some litter every day. Don’t throw cigarette butts on the ground. Avoid creating plastic trash by looking for ways to avoid using throw-away items. When you go out for meal, support the many restaurants listed on that use compostable containers. Encourage your favorite eateries to participate. If each of us does a little, we can all accomplish a lot. 

Jim Meador 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

It is absolutely critical that impeachment hearings start now for Cheney and Bush. Do not let Bush pardon himself, Cheney, and everyone else pre-emptively, before they have even been charged with crimes against the Constitution. The evidence is too strong to ignore—and we at least need hearings to get the truth and justice! 

Cynthia Papermaster 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Darren Main is mistaken; he leaps to the conclusion that demonstrations opposing the Mormons’ funding of Proposition 8 are the same as opposing the Mormon religion, and that such demonstrations disrupt services. 

The Nov. 9 demonstration at the Oakland Mormon Temple did not disrupt services, had nothing to do with religion, and had everything to do with politics and equal rights. 

The Mormons’ history of persecution for, among other things, its unorthodox view of marriage, is a history of an unconventional minority group finally finding acceptance and the freedom to worship as they please. Using that strength to fund an effort to rob a protected class of its fundamental rights is entirely separate from worship, and should be opposed from both within the church and from the outside community. 

Those who participated in funding Proposition 8 need to see the faces and the outrage of those they have wronged; gay people who live in a second-class status, and straight people who find this not only specifically objectionable, but who worry that churches will continue to use their tax-free dollars to target others. 

There is nothing wrong with Darren Main’s suggestion that everyone try to be respectful. But there is nothing disrespectful in standing outside someone’s church with a sign promoting equal rights, and taking care to make sure one chooses inclusive, pro-equal rights businesses to patronize in the community. 

Carol Denney 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

It seems strange that no one is talking about putting a measure to repeal Proposition 8 on the next ballot. The outcome was close enough to suggest the outcome rests on vagaries of turnout. If it is on the ballot every single election, the chances go up for overturning this misery. 

Another thing to consider is the out of state money that will pour in to defeat this effort. That money will bring jobs and profits to our local media industry. Furthermore, a continuous effort will eventually exhaust the resources of the opposition. 

By all means, work for repeal through courts. However, it wouldn’t hurt to pursue all avenues of relief. Besides, when the pro-Prop. 8 advocates say, “Why don’t you respect the will of the people,” one can reply, “We do. That’s why it’s on the ballot.” 

Thomas Laxar 

El Cerrito 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Now that Proposition 8 was overwhelmingly approved by California voters, many protesting voices are belatedly heard. It would seem many opponents were shocked by the huge number of voters, especially in the Hispanic and African American communities, who oppose gay marriage. And now opponents are angry and hurt. But they should not have been surprised. In fact, both Obama and McCain campaigned as opponents of gay marriage. According to Mayor Willie Brown, the pro-Proposition 8 campaign very successfully used audio of Barack Obama expressing his opposition to gay marriage in robocalls to likely African American voters. Perhaps gay marriage supporters shouldn’t support candidates who oppose gay marriage. If gay marriage supporters had thrown their support to a pro-gay marriage candidate like Ralph Nader, perhaps the Democrats wouldn’t have taken the pro-gay marriage vote for granted.  

Nathaniel Hardin 

El Cerrito 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Regarding David Bacon’s Nov. 13 piece: To publish a lengthy commentary on the subject of illegal immigration that does not once mention the word “illegal” shows how loony the left is becoming. The first stage of insanity is denial. 

James Riley 

New York, NY 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Marc Sapir ludicrously clams that the Jewish people who returned to their homeland “lay waste” to the land. Of course, the Jews took a land that was mostly waste and developed it into a modern country—to the benefit of both Jewish and Arab citizens of Israel. And of course Israel did this despite multiple attempts by surrounding Arab countries to destroy it, and while integrating millions of refugees not only from Europe but also from Arab lands. 

If Sapir wants to see a member of a society that actually has seized land and subjugated the indigenous people, he merely has to look in the mirror—or doesn’t he realize that all of us are living on land that once belonged to the Ohlone and the Miwok? How does he think that this area came to be part of the United States? And, of course, those of us who are not Native American do not have our historical, cultural and religious roots in this area. 

When Sapir voluntarily turns over his own home to the descendants of the Native Americans that once lived in the area, then he can stand on his moral pedestal and demand that others living halfway around the world do the same. Until then, he’s just a hypocrite. 

Michael Harris 

San Rafael 



Editors, Daily Planet: 

Your paper is so biased against Israel and the Jewish people that it is painful for me to read. You never put issues into long-term historical perspective (such as noting the continual attacks by Arab neighbors throughout Israel’s history as well as the sanctuary that Israel has provided for millions of refugees and victims of genocide).  

The British mandate as well as the United Nations gave the Jewish people back a portion their homeland and gave the Arab people a much larger portion of land called Transjordan. Israel was immediately surrounded and attacked in 1948 and many times thereafter. The Jewish people fought back and won those wars of aggression. Land was taken by the victor to ensure security at its borders. Israel did not ask for the 1967 nor the 1973 wars against it. Jordan is a Palestinian State. The West Bank and Gaza can become an independent Arab state if they would stop attacking Israel and negotiate for peace.  

Your paper makes everything one-sided. Since when does a warring conflict not involve missteps on both sides? How about calling for an end to Arab aggression? Call for an end to Hamas and Hezbollah openly calling for the complete destruction of Israel? Show me the peace advocates representing the Arab side? To live in peace, the Arab Palestinians must be working for peace as well. Both sides must work hard. Your paper is blinded by anti-Semitism, for you can only see the bad aggressive Jews in this situation. Jews are tired of being victims. I am tired of your anti-Semitic, biased and hateful editorials and news articles.  

There are 15 Arab countries within an hours drive from Israel. Let them open their doors to the suffering Palestinians. They have vast amounts of land to share. If they truly cared about their brothers’ suffering, let them provide land and resources to the Palestinians. The people have made a viable country out of a land with few resources. The Arab people could do the same if they stopped warring with Israel and helped one another create a good life for their people. Destroying Israel is not going to bring prosperity or a stable government to the Palestinians. Working for a positive society based on gender and sexual equality, democracy and peace will truly help the Palestinians have a viable existence. That said, shame on you for your very evident bias and anti-Semitism.  

Gail Taback 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

Eating my Wheaties or whatever while working my way through the intricacies of the Maio-Browning/Kennedy dealings over the past several years, I mostly felt mildly intrigued, even amused. I did drop my spoon, though, when I came to the sentence including such phrases as “homeowners’ association,” “pending ‘major suit,’” and “alleged ‘shoddy workmanship’” with respect to 1805 University Ave. Have we not been here before? Didn’t the roof leak, the mold invade, the tenants sue with respect to that other Kennedy property, the Gaia building, which, as a different article in the same issue of the Planet, probably incidentally placed on the facing page, divulges, has been recently cited as a public nuisance? One bad building could be an accident. Lemons happen. Two bad buildings strongly indicate a developer who cuts his corners a little too close. No matter which side one takes on the very Berkeley issue of cell phone antennas, one thing should be clear to all: Unless you thrive on problems and lawsuits, don’t move into a building built by developer Patrick Kennedy. 

Joanna Graham 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

In their meeting in Chicago on Monday, President-elect Obama and Sen. McCain spoke convincingly of working together for the good of the country. 

But the recent campaign has been marked by attacks that were unusually personal, vindictive, and false. These attacks have agitated the fears and hatreds of the small portion of the country, which has phobias about non-whites, and in general those they see as being Others. This includes attendees who were heard shouting, “Kill him” during Sen. McCain’s campaign rallies. 

Sen. McCain bears the liability for fueling these warped feelings by allowing his supporters to believe that Obama is a Muslim (and there is nothing wrong with being a Muslim), that he was secretly educated at a terrorist madrassa, that he will ruin America with socialism, and so on. 

Sen. McCain has a responsibility to the country he loves to undo the harm done by his campaign’s corrosive statements. 

He can do this fairly readily by publicly and repeatedly saying that he believes President-elect Obama is a good Christian. (Again, this should not be necessary, as it is not a requirement for any national office, but it would be helpful even so.) It would be even more effective if McCain could honestly say that he and Obama had prayed together for the future of this country. 

Sen. McCain could also say that he believes President-elect Obama’s education was one that he found to be normal and healthy. And that he believes he and Obama will work together as respectful partners to solve our common economic and other problems. 

It would be highly useful for Sen. McCain to say how much he deplores all violent notions, such as the skinhead assassination plot recently foiled by the FBI. He could state categorically that he has full confidence in Obama now that he is president-elect and that he strongly believes that all thoughts and plans of violence are misguided, wrongheaded, and un-American. 

The intemperate rhetoric of Sen. McCain’s campaign has sowed the wind. It appears to be time for the senator to calm that wind, so that we do not all reap its whirlwind. 

Gov. Palin could also be instrumental in the same way by undoing the rhetorical excesses of her campaign. 

These proposed actions would be well received by the nation and would redound greatly to the credit of those who took part in them. 

Brad Belden 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

Voters across America have just rejected the Republican anti-government philosophy by electing Barack Obama and sending more Democrats to Congress and to the state Legislature. It is time for Republicans to respect the will of the people. 

Republican legislators in Sacramento want a cuts-only budget and are using the two-thirds rule to prevent any tax increases. This rule is enabling a minority of legislators in Sacramento to dictate our tax policies. It is preventing us from solving our budget problems in a manner consistent with the wishes of the majority of voters. California is one of just three states with a two-thirds rule—the others are Arkansas and Rhode Island. Even deeply conservative states like Utah and Texas do not have a two-thirds rule. 

A cuts-only budget will make our economic crisis far worse, leading to massive job losses. That will actually make the budget deficit worse, as tax revenues will drop further. Even Gov. Schwarzenegger recognizes the need to find new revenues. Schools will close and teachers will be fired in the middle of the school year. Thousands will lose access to health care if the Republicans prevail. 

Majority rule is a basic principle of American democracy. If it’s good enough for the Founding Fathers it’s good enough for California. The two-thirds rule is allowing Republicans to obstruct solutions to this crisis. It makes California ungovernable and must be changed. 

Leonard Conly 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Regarding my previous letter to the editor, published last week, entitled “Where is the compassion?” I’d like to retract one statement where I said, “Where the poor and the homeless would be hungry, the people in the hills would be gorging on Thanksgiving.” 

What I would like to say is that I have friends in the Berkeley Hills and one of them bailed my camera out of the pawn shop. I had gotten in debt when I was making a documentary on Tent City. My statement was an unwarranted generalization, which probably applies to some in the hills but not all. People are individuals and no doubt there are not a few hill people who donate to free food for the homeless, especially on the holidays. 

Another matter that upsets me is that SSI does not really allow people to adequately pay for their food if they are paying rent, unless they have federally funded Section 8 housing. I have been fighting with the Berkeley Housing Authority over what I think is misuse of funds. People who live in Berkeley are welcome to call me at 540-6772 to voice your concerns and maybe we can get some real change. Thank you very much. 

Diane Arsanis 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Acorn Woodpeckers (Melanerpes formicivorus) are handsome, noisy and very charming birds that live in oak woodlands in California. They have extended family groups and in the spring, summer and autumn, they gather insects for themselves and to feed their young. They also gather and store acorns for a winter food supply. In recent years, much of their traditional oak tree woodland habitat in central Contra Costa County has been invaded by humans and transformed into housing developments. 

Since the Acorn Woodpeckers have been losing their traditional oak granary-trees to human “progress,” and being smart and inventive creatures, they have turned to using parts of houses as places to store their acorns for winter. 

Rossmoor residents are primed to start killing Acorn Woodpeckers in a fruitless attempt to discourage new generations of birds from drilling holes in houses. 

Instead of trying to kill off the woodpeckers, the residents of Rossmoor could provide some alternative acorn storage facilities, such as erecting some nice new un-chemically-treated telephone poles. Also, they could consider replacing part of their golf course with some native oak tree woodland. They could also protect vulnerable wood areas of their houses with metal trim. 

James K. Sayre 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

People, like me, who read the Daily Planet, seem to be mostly college grads who write forcefully with good vocabularies. Here’s a vocabulary question for all of us college grads, as our country goes into a swirling, maelstrom, economic toilet: What are “hedge funds,” “derivatives,” “investment banks vs. regular banks,” “liquidity,” “leveraging,” and 50 more terms which I, and I suspect, most of us who claim to be educated, have no comprehension of?! Seems like in the future, our children, who we hope and pray will be able to go to college, should be required to take a course in American capitalism, which is based on the laissez-faire market. Then, with hope, they might be able to anticipate another collapse and prevent it. Even, perhaps, they might have enough foresight and guts to change the system. They will be able to bring America into an era of true democracy where class warfare results in some victories for the middle and lower classes.  

Robert Blau 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The latest regulation from those nice folks who brought us the Van Hool buses: “Strollers must be folded up or rolled to the back of the bus.” 

No one who actually rides the buses could ever expect to see this regulation enforced. The typical stroller is loaded down with all the stuff one has to carry, along with the baby (in fact, there is often no room for the baby in the stroller). The aisles in the Van Hools are not wide enough to allow strollers to reach the rear sections, and some drivers do no allow anyone except disabled passengers to enter by the rear door. 

People who use strollers and push carts struggle to get onto the bus wherever and however they can. Sometimes the only place they can actually get to is the front of the bus. Their fellow riders and the best drivers do what they can to work around them. It makes no sense to heap new regulations on people who are already doing the best they can. 

Marcella Murphy 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

If our country is to return to the rule of law then there cannot be allowed a failure to apply that standard of law to those who have acted in a criminal fashion for the past eight years. The United States can never even begin to repair its image to the world unless the criminals who seized power through a corrupt Supreme Court and then maintained that power via election theft are brought to justice! 

Allen Michaan 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

Is anyone opting for the narrow trains of Rapid Transit Monorail on Sacramento Street and University Avenue as the more centrally located alternatives to the noisy bus gas guzzlers planned far too far east on Telegraph Avenue? Shouldn’t our PUBLIC transportation system be a system that serves our residents, thus be more centrally located? Hasn’t anyone been on the quiet monorail in Disneyland, Oregon other places in the world? Shouldn’t we meet our social justice policies for South West and North West Berkeley and opt for environmental justice policies of cleaner, quieter transport? 

Have a look at where our local public schools are located—far more are close to Sacramento Street and University Avenue than Telegraph Avenue which has Le Conte and Willard. Sacramento Street is wide and could accommodate a monorail with less impacts on businesses and require less infrastructure construction and modifications. Regional transit passes would allow riders to transfer to the North Berkeley BART and in one stop they would be in downtown Berkeley or two stops north the BART Del Norte Transit Center where there is bus service east to Martinez, Fairfield, Sacramento, Davis, etc., northward to Vallejo, Napa, etc., and across the bay to the Marin County Transit Hub with connections to Santa Rosa, Eureka, and even the Pacific coast on Highway 1. 

Likewise University Avenue could have a center monorail from the train station to the UC Crescent or even from a ferryboat depot and satellite parking with transfers from small transports from the hills. 

Must we be such dummies that we go along with the Van Hool Bus Transit Company (also known as AC Transit) self-serving plans to introduce more petrol guzzlers? Is it true that on Measure VV, that the out of state ABC Company, the agent for Van Hool Buses sponsored the campaign? How much return on their investment for Proposition VV will they gain because we want good public transit be more rider friendly—especially for seniors, disabled and families with children and babies in strollers? 

Measure KK to require voter approval for lane removal was an excellent opener to get us thinking and talking with our neighbors on what do we want and what would be best for the needs of our community. How much money was used for KK and how much for the No on KK? 

And how do the comparisons on reducing car trips to take children to and from schools factor out for the monorail alternative compared to the Rapid Bus plans at present for climate action projections? 

Anamaria Sanchez Romero 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The bus vs. car debate goes around in circles. Russ Tilleman points out in the Nov. 13 edition of the Daily Planet that buses are gas guzzlers, that a bus with four people gets half the passengers per mile of a driver only Toyota Prius. On the other hand, bus advocates say people who won’t take the clumsy monsters are just lazy, that public transit worked back before GM and the oil companies destroyed the system. 

But back when transit worked we didn’t need to travel as much. Now we seem driven to drive. The shrink is in Orinda, the pre-school that the kid absolutely must attend is in Alameda, the favorite family restaurant is way out Geary Boulevard in San Francisco fog, the health care we have makes us go to Contra Costa for radiation and to San Mateo for brain surgery. And where we once were happy with jug wine we now rush to San Rafael at word that Posh Wines, Inc. is selling Abyssinian champagne for 20 percent off. 

Ted Vincent 



Editors, Daily Planet: 

Voters flocked to the polls for Barack Obama, many believing his administration will respect marginalized communities when shaping foreign policy, and thereby change the United States’ status as a bully among nations. But we warn that the appointment of Rahm Emanuel as chief of staff may nullify Obama’s mandate for change. Emanuel’s appointment is a signal that Palestinians’ voices still fall on deaf ears in the United States—although they commemorated 60 years of ruthless occupation this year. 

The United Jewish Communities’ director praised Emanuel as “coming from good Irgun stock.” This sends a threatening message to Palestinians and the world, because the Irgun was a Zionist terrorist organization that massacred civilians! Emanuel continues his family’s commitment to Israel’s military brutality—he supports the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, and supported Israel’s 2006 bombing of Lebanon, silencing voices of opposition before Congress. In 2005, he voted to permanently adopt the Patriot Act, showing his support for repressive policies at home as well as abroad. He voted to start, and continually fund, the Iraq war. 

The Obama/Biden website ( indicates their plan to continue giving a blank check to Israel. As anti-Zionist Jews, we state that denouncing Israeli apartheid is not anti-Jewish, but fundamental to an honest path to peace and justice. Obama has stated that political movements on the ground must be hailed by Washington; we call all progressive movements to hold Obama’s administration accountable to their stated ideals by working in solidarity with Palestinian people for justice in their land. 

Brooke Lober 

Greg Hom 

International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, Bay Area Chapter 


EDITOR’S NOTE: A previous letter from this organization, published in the Oct. 23 edition, was signed by Rebecca Tumposky, whose name was inadvertently omitted because of an editing error. 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The aftershock of the earth moving election of the 44th president of the United States is turning out to be as momentous as the event itself, albeit without the jubilation.  

Barack Obama campaigned as a man of the people and the people have not been silent about what they expect him to do: Leave Iraq, fix the economy, close Guantanamo, outlaw torture, stop warrantless wiretapping, enact universal medical care, reform immigration policy, and on and on and on. The dominant media reports breathlessly about who’ll get appointed or not get appointed to this or that cabinet post and when and how this or that should be done or not done, and on and on and on. 

Everyone—supporters, opponents and uncommitted—is offering advice. For example, the Washington Post solicited “Some thoughts on what Obama’s top priority should be” and published over a dozen proffered by people of various ilks including Linda Chavez (Reagan celeb), Carly Fiorina (failed HP exec), Ted Turner (rich maverick). By way of contrast, Alice Walker, Pulitzer Prize novelist, advised “Brother Obama” to “keep happy and free and relaxed.” 

If each bit of advice were a drop of water the last two weeks would have drowned Obama’s administration eight weeks before the inauguration. 

How does The Man himself handle this flood? Well, he was quick to choose a chief of staff (gatekeeper) and his first post-election press conference concerned the economic crisis. It was memorable only for a staged photo of himself flanked by 10 notables on his left and an equal number on his right of whom the most outstanding were the tallest, Paul Volker (former Treasury secretary) and the shortest, Robert Reich (former Labor secretary). 

Last Sunday Barack and Michelle Obama sat down before Steve Kroft for a full “60 Minutes” interview and when it was over one conclusion was overwhelming: Whether he will be a good president or a bad one, whether he’ll be successful, transforming or what, this man is in full possession of himself, as is his wife. He has mastered the lesson of Socrates: More than any public figure alive today, Barack Obama knows himself.  

Marvin Chachere 

San Pablo 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I think it’s wonderful that the banks and mortgage companies and other financial institutions are getting a money boost to bail them out of the holes they’ve dug for themselves. All those years of ripping us off and they still couldn’t rake in enough profit to pay those million-dollar salaries to their CEOs. 

When I applied for my annual $340 Renters’ Credit from the State Tax Board, which I usually depend on to buy something that I can’t ordinarily afford like, say, a warm jacket or a pair of shoes (I survive on a government disability check). I was told that the great State of California doesn’t have enough loot in its budget to issue the Renters’ Credit checks. No warm jacket for you! 

How about a bailout for us? I noticed that during all the political hoo-ha this election year I heard no mention made of the poor. A few campaigners paid lip service to the middle class and even the working poor (is there a difference?) but those of us hanging by our fingernails to the lowest rung of the socio-economic ladder are apparently going to be left still twisting in the winds of change which will be blowing through the New America. 

The poor are still here and we’re not about to turn to the wall and die, as many of our politicians seem to fervently wish. We hung on all through the Reagan years, didn’t we? Maybe some of us still have hope, hope that things will somehow get better for ourselves and our families. Hope that somehow, someday, there will be a bailout for us. Don’t these idiot politicians realize that 99 percent of whatever bailout we might receive will go directly back into the economy rather than some bank in Switzerland? 

What’s happening in this country is absurd. To allow the giant money-machines to further perpetuate their sleazy scams on the public is ridiculous. To subsidize them is just nuts. A bloodthirsty feeding frenzy seems the inevitable result of such madness. Hopefully they’ll devour each other and make room for a real plan. 

Aggie Max 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Congress apparently is considering another rebate to the taxpayers so that they can again buy Asian goods, hardly doing anything for America’s economy. Jobs are what stimulates the economy, and jobs are needed most by people laid off in construction with many workers chewing up dwindling unemployment funds. So we need a program of refurbishing or rebuilding some of the rundown old public housing complexes. For $10 billion a year for few years, 200,000 people can be put to work at $45,000 a year; 100,000 directly at the complexes and 100,000 in supplying new flooring, new plumbing, new doors and windows, new electrical wiring systems, etc. These workers will then be spending to generate other jobs in consumer goods, and services as well as for basic food and clothing putting perhaps another 50,000-plus back to work. They will be off unemployment payments and will be paying some taxes including some back to unemployment fund, and the companies contracted for the work will be spending on their operations and paying taxes. I urge readers to contact their congresspersons to call for jobs programs to recover our economy. And forget the rebate that will mainly help Asian economies.  

James Singmaster 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

Last November UC Berkeley Chief of Police Celaya gave orders to frame a protester with autism for literally terrorist actions: a fictional chemical attack sending a squad of officers to the ER. One officer was allegedly disfigured; perhaps even at death’s door. Colluding in the fraud were UC Berkeley detective (and former UCB football player) Wade McAdams, officers Ruffin, Hernandez, Micelli, Zoe Garlick and Sean Aranas. The Autistic was going to face intense felony charges; he was going jail for 10 years. Twisted vengeance for mere participation at the oak grove. Some readers may recall the story as the UC’s propagandist Nathan Bromstrom made sure almost every Bay Area newspaper printed (on paper and online) the lie along with the full name of The Autistic. 

Last November, ADA Robert Graff, working under the guidance of Alameda County DA Tom Orloff, began creating the legal script in which to frame The Autistic. 

Fifty-one weeks later, both the UC and the DA’s office failed. The lie was too bold to sustain; certainly the disfigured person couldn’t be faked. The graver injuries vanished; seven felony counts turned into five. Also, The Autistic was carrying a recording device while interacting with police officers: gotcha. Felonies crumbled into soft excuses for misdemeanors (dull typical tree sit ground crew stuff). The Autistic who was to lose a decade of his life to prison isn’t going to see one day in jail. 

That protester was me. For almost a year the UC and the DA’s office had been trying to not only destroy my reputation and life, but also degrade what few legal protections autistics have in the criminal system. They tried to argue that people with my specific diagnosis (Asperger’s) are psychotically violent. They didn’t release any tapes of my arrest, as they all featured cops beating the daylights out of me. With my camera and YouTube account (Oaks4Peace), I escaped Graff and Celaya’s bizarre and stupid scheme against me. But what of others in the autistic community? Awkward and naïve to the criminal system, we are increasingly becoming scapegoats for the police and DA. Please help protect our community by contacting the DA’s office (272-6222), UC Berkeley Police (643-9597), and demand they cease the autism witchhunt. For more information contact the Autism Spectrum Liberation Front ( 

Nathan Pitts