Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

Wednesday December 17, 2008 - 06:54:00 PM


Editors, Daily Planet: 

Richard Brenneman’s recent story on the reported selection of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Director Steven Chu as the nation’s new secretary of energy was remarkably one-sided. Instead of describing how Dr. Chu has forcefully made the case for the urgent need to tackle climate change, and his promotion of a broad range of research on technologies that could provide alternatives to fossil fuels, Brenneman quoted a critic of the biofuels research effort that is one of the approaches that may be part of a strategy to reduce use of fossil fuels. Apparently he feels that good reporting doesn’t require presenting views other than the one that he himself agrees with (as has been evident in his reporting). 

The nation is fortunate to have someone with Dr. Chu’s vision and drive as secretary of energy, and the people of Berkeley deserve a better profile of him than what we read in the Daily Planet. 

Steve Meyers 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Progressives have a new foe: Barack Obama. After the environmentalist group Save Strawberry Canyon declares victory over the scale of LBNL’s Helios building, Obama rewarded LBNL director Steven Chu, naming him secretary of energy.  

Sadly UC-BP’s Helios may continue, just smaller. The largest corporate-university deal in history, UC Berkeley and BP want to mar and pollute Strawberry Canyon with a monstrous temple dedicated to unintelligent business and scientific decisions. The Helios building begins with intentional deception; it has nothing to do with the sun and solar energy. A main thrust is actually to do research that would increase oil production. Helios will also try to dupe the masses by reviving the “clean coal” myth. It also focuses on genetically engineered switch grass, as opposed to a wide variety of natural (undesigned) or recycled biomasses. Though the U.S. will use the majority of this biofuel, it will be grown in developing countries after we cut down more of their forests. BP has its hands in Iraq; what would stop switch grass related conflicts? 

What of Berkeley’s trees? The original plans for Helios didn’t meet environmental standards, but Steven Chu, Robert Birgeneau, and the UC Board of Regents (aka the Legion of Doom) tried to move forward anyway. The only things that stopped UC from breaking the law, and stopped Chu from being director of an illegally and immorally constructed lab, were a rag tag team of canyon defenders and their lawsuit.  

If Obama had been president during the past couple of years, and Helios being integral to his energy policy, would things have been different? How would Obama have handled protesters (the BP Bears, Stop UC-BP and others) who rallied on campus against BP and its Helios? 

Oh, you remember the talk of the Bevatron pulverization? That’s right, Obama gave the secretary of energy position to someone who wants to haul debris including Cobalt 60, Cesium 137, and Europium 154, asbestos, lead, mercury, PCBs, and chlorinated VOCs through the city, past residences, in uncovered trucks.  

No, we can’t succeed through shifty corporate deals, giving bad projects cute names, relying on production overseas, ignoring human rights, and by refusing to severely use less energy per American. The next administration must understand that if we are going to overhaul our energy plan, we must overhaul our values, communities, and relationship to nature.  

Nathan Pitts 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

In critical care units the term “triage” is often used. A triage system is implemented in a critical care unit when there are more patient admissions than available beds. Patients determined to be safe enough to transfer to lower levels of care are transferred so as to be able to give priority to those who need more attention. If there were enough resources available at all times, triaging would not be necessary. Comparably, if there was no achievement gap and no at-risk students at Berkeley High School, a redesign plan would not be needed. Those speaking out against the redesign plan and the idea of “initiating a school wide change to help only a few hundred students” (Daily Planet, Dec. 11) have perhaps not been in a situation where stepping back and letting the more critically ill people—or in this case the more at-risk students—be the priority. Is it possible that some Berkeley High parents are only supportive of progressive politics when their own children are not affected?  

Felicity Blau 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Planning Commissioner Larry Gurley said the following about the West Berkeley area: “I’m not sure it’s in the city’s interest to provide storage for Berkeley residents.” Perhaps instead of trying to decide what is best for the rest of us, planning commissioners can trust the people involved—those that care the most about storage in West Berkeley. People in Berkeley want to pay to store their stuff in this city, and the owners want to make money providing that storage. Conclusion? Very clearly in the best interest of Berkeley residents as both sides benefit, and (as is very important in this city) their transactions have few, if any, negative externalities. Using land for mini-storage may not bring in as much revenue to the city, but increased city revenue is not the goal of land-use decisions.  

Furthermore, Mr. Gurley and others on the commission need to be reminded that the city of Berkeley is not a singular entity to be pleased, only an amalgamation of all its residents, each with different desires and ideas of what is best. Allowing some to be happy and to conduct storage business without having to fork over tax dollars should be a desirable thing. Lastly, I hope all land use controllers appreciate why this attitude towards planning engenders tremendous dislike towards them. You want to allow certain types of businesses and activities that conform to your idea of what Berkeley should be without regard to the large (but unseen) costs your meddling imposes on all Berkeley residents. 

Damian Bickett 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Chuck Heinricks suggested that the city buy the failed condo project at 2700 San Pablo Ave. for housing police. That’s a good idea, though maybe too late. When the property went into default this summer, I suggested to Councilmember Darryl Moore that the city purchase it for employees, especially first responders. We’re really going to be in trouble after the next big earthquake because so many of our firefighters and police live out of town. 

In Britain it is usual for towns to own and operate housing as well as parking garages, sport complexes, and other communal facilities. Instead of giving away so many development rights to private companies for the building of more big yuppie dormitories, we could create some attractive and affordable family-sized housing for city employees. 

For financing, the city could tap the enormous equity of older property owners who might be willing to pool their wealth for a stake in new housing development.  

Toni Mester 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Now that Peter Camejo is stone-dead, buried, lionized and memorialized, can we discuss his legacy?  

I always said Peter was a good candidate and spokesperson. I worked with him on two of his vanity projects, the Progressive Alliance of Alameda County in 1993 (a $20,000-plus failure) and his first run for governor in 2001 (a wash). I walked away thinking, “What a pompous, self-involved blowhard.” So my animus is well-earned.  

But I kept my opinions to myself. When a friend complained terly about the poor return on her investments at Progressive Assets Management, I ignored it because I had nothing to invest. And when Peter rallied his acolytes and initiated the divisive purge known as the “Greens for Democracy and Independence,” GDI (another failure), and began to target fellow greens with his Stalinist attacks, I still withheld my opinion. When he died and all the flowers started to drop, I was told it was in bad taste to criticize him. But I think it is a perfect time to share my distaste for this self-appointed egotistical millionaire political poseur.  

I can’t think of another white male leader during my entire history with the Green Party (since 1989) who has done more damage, both state-wide and nationally, than Peter Camejo.  

As for all those mystical superlatives, what would you expect? The only people at the memorial were his fans and supporters. Peter’s detractors, among whom I count myself, stayed away. 

Hank Chapot 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

For me and to many others, our opposition to President Carter’s statements on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict do not stem solely from his criticism of the Israeli government, but from the fact that he chastises only one side. I am hard pressed to find any statement of his taking the Palestinians—politicians and terrorists alike—to task for their actions. Many of us are saddened by discriminatory actions taken by the Israeli government and by strains of racism which permeate some—but hardly all—of Israeli society. And we are appalled not only by the actions of the Hebron settlers last week, but by the IDF’s refusal to take immediate action to halt these outrages. 

So when I and other members of San Francisco Voice for Israel counterprotest against groups we consider to be Israel-bashers (as we did against Bay Area Women in Black at the Ashby Flea Market last Sunday), we are there solely to support the right of Israel to exist in peace, as a Jewish state, within secure boundaries. We have a limited mission statement, because once we go beyond this narrow focus there are too many opposing opinions for us to agree on anything without alienating many of our members and supporters. And when we stand in opposition to larger groups, as we did at the annual AIPAIC dinner in San Francisco this week, it’s for the same reason and, even more so, to counter even more radical groups who declare that Israel has no right to exist. 

The Daily Planet seems to have fallen into the same trap that many of these anti-Israel protesters have found themselves—stating only one side of the case. Trying to find a way out of this morass is impossible when you have only one eye to guide you. Without a balanced approach to this quagmire, any effort at peace is doomed to failure. 

Marshall E. Schwartz 



EDITOR’S NOTE: The Daily Planet does not state just one side of this issue. In fact, the Planet itself rarely makes any statement at all on the issue, but, with the exception of an occasional editorial cartoon or Conn Hallinan column, merely publishes the views of its readers in the form of commentaries and letters. Opposing viewpoints are always welcome, but the Planet actually receives very few pro-Israel submissions; most pro-Israel submissions come in only in response to pro-Palestinian letters. It’s one of the pitfalls of free speech: If you don’t take advantage of this forum to express your views, surely your opposition will. So if a writer wants to make the case for Israel, this is the place to do it—better to be pro-active than just cry foul when the opposition makes its case first. 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

With force of arms, the government of Israel lords over the fate of five million Palestinians who did not consent to be ruled by a government by Jews and for Jews alone, that speciously calls itself a “democratic and Jewish state.” But John Gertz decries the International Jewish anti-Zionist Network (IJAN) and our protest against this patently racist order. Gertz is perplexed that we condemn not only the current horrors of the Israeli occupation of Gaza and the West Bank—but that we call attention to the underlying problem, which is Israel’s ongoing conquest of Palestine .  

The Israeli government claims to speak for all Jews, and as Jews we recognize our implication in the colonial project that we unwittingly serve to justify. As anti-Zionist Jews, we seek to demonstrate that Jews are not united in support of Zionism. While Gertz seeks to politically isolate us, calling us the “quaint remains of an outdated worldview,” we assert our place in the great history of resistance that we are a part of; Gertz calls us “extreme,” but we contend that IJAN is a part of the contemporary global majority that is mobilized against colonialism, militarism, and occupation. 

In a blatant display of visual racism, Gertz complains about lack of “truth in advertising” because, as he writes, “in a group photo of a brand new group touting itself as comprised of Jewish anti-Zionists not all its members appeared to be Jews.” Gertz claims that people of the wrong ethnicity (wrong for him) attended our public demonstration—he says that, like his orange juice, we are not “100% pure.” Gertz’s argument is appalling: as he proposes to police our identities by scrutinizing our physical features, his statement reproduces the logic of scientific racism and recalls the oppressive ideology that has been used against Jews and others to justify persecution, forced sterilization and genocide.  

IJAN is a Jewish network. Founded by Jews who believe in equality and justice for all, it speaks unambiguously from a Jewish location. Unlike Gertz, we stand against racism not just in Berkeley, but everywhere, including Israel. IJAN includes Jews of many ethnic backgrounds and we proudly welcome participation and coalition with everyone who shares our passion for justice, whether they identify as Jewish or not. 

Brooke Lober 

Mich Levy 

International Jewish anti-Zionist Network, Bay Area 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Joanne Kowalsky (Commentary, Dec. 11) fails to zero in on why Obama didn’t give former President Carter a speaking role at the Democratic Convention. Obama didn’t give Carter a speaking role not because of Jewish lobby opposition or because Obama doesn’t respect Carter’s policies or humanitarian efforts. No, Obama didn’t give Carter a speaking role because Carter as President was very bad for the Party. Carter took a Democratic Party enjoying an extraordinarily steep rise in popularity beginning in 1974 and ran it into the ground. Carter failed to include various coalitions of the party in his government. Too many Carter appointees were from his native state of Georgia and not enough from other regions. Hence, he was challenged by the very influential Senator Kennedy in the Democratic primaries of 1980. Plus, Carter was ineffective. His time as President was one of high inflation and high unemployment. Thus, Carter was ousted from power by the 1980 49-state landslide victory of Republican Ronald Reagan. As a future President who wants to serve two terms and to be an effective president, President-elect Barack Obama can ill afford to too closely associate himself with Jimmy Carter.  

Nathaniel Hardin 

El Cerrito 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Last summer the Congress passed and the president signed the Consumer Product Safety Commission Improvement Act which set a strong lead limit and banned the use of plastic softeners called phthalates in toys and other products designed for children and sold after Feb. 10, 2009. Phthalates are endocrine disruptors and hormone mimics. They have been linked to birth defects, early puberty in girls, deformities of the reproductive tract in male infants, and cancer. Did that solve the problem? Apparently not. The Consumer Product Safety Commission’s legal council has decided to reinterpret the intent of the Act to allow retailers to continue selling toxic toys until their back stock is sold, which may be long after Feb. 10. Greed apparently trumps health. 

Allowing greed to endanger these precious children is a violation of moral principles, common decency, and good sense. The CPSC should be called back to its mission to protect consumers. Christmas should not be an occasion for a child to receive a present that may permanently damage health. 

Joe Magruder 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

By the time Barack Hussein Obama is sworn into office he will have had 11 weeks to get his personnel in place, just barely enough time to assemble several hundred skilled people into a ship tight and sufficiently seaworthy to stay afloat and on course in a sea of troubles. The storms raging at home and abroad were created by eight years of incompetence, greed, neglect and insolence. The accumulated virulence, however, is unprecedented and so the new president’s ability to calm the seas will necessarily be an experimental endeavor.  

Meanwhile, everyone who can talk or write, including those in the punditry and in academia, has advice: put this person in the wheelhouse, avoid this guy, be careful not to steer here or to run with the wind, too fast or too slow, be bold, be circumspect, etc., etc. 

When the jubilant inaugural celebration ends we can be sure of one thing: the 44th presidency will set out on an “enterprise of great pitch and moment…” What we do not know is whether the course he takes is the one we hoped for when we voted for him. 

Marvin Chachere 

San Pablo 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

In an age where humans are increasingly disconnected from the natural environment, it is more pressing than ever to protect what remains of America’s pristine forest areas under the Roadless Areas Conservation Rule. It is important to remember that although most of us carry out our daily lives in urban concrete jungles, a vast and rugged wilderness is part of a truly unique American cultural heritage. The Roadless Areas Conservation Rule was passed by the U.S. Forest Service in 2001 in order to protect that last remaining areas of our national forest system that are truly “wild”—those areas that are completely free from road building and logging. This area makes up approximately 58.5 million acres of national forest, and is home to 1,600 threatened or endangered plant and animal species. Unfortunately, in the following eight years the Bush administration has done all it could to rollback the protection offered by the rule. This has been compounded by the efforts of big business, particularly the mining and lumber industries, which have filed nine lawsuits against the rule. With the new Obama administration we now have a fresh opportunity to make sure this important legislation is respected and upheld, but we as ordinary citizens have the responsibility to let those in power know that this issue is important to us. 

Rebecca Huyck 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The Associated Press recently reported that the Mexican “war on drugs” has resulted in more than 8,000 deaths in the last three years, with about 5,376 in this year alone. Those murdered include judges, police, witnesses, journalists, and innocent citizens. There is a growing perception among Mexicans that the government is losing the war against these well-armed drug cartels. However, little is said about the source of the weapons used in these killings.  

For the period Oct. 1, 2004 to Sept. 30, 2007, weapons found discarded at shootings in Mexico or confiscated from the drug cartels were traced to 15 states. Texas sellers were the source of 2,085 weapons. California was runner-up with 1,006. Texas and California together are the source of more than the combined total of weapons from the other 13 states. An untold number of guns couldn’t be traced or are still in the hands of the drug cartels. The illicit drugs flow north and the weapons flow south. Under Mexico’s strict regulations, it is against the law to own or sell armor-piercing penetrating assault rifles and semiautomatic pistols. But they are legally available in sporting goods stores and gun shows in the United States where straw men buy them and then they are smuggled into Mexico. And weapons are easy to purchase in the U.S.  

Now, U.S. law only requires that dealers run an instant FBI background check to make sure the potential buyer has no felony convictions, is a U.S. citizen, and then require the buyer to sign a form attesting that the weapon is not for someone else. We have heard the old canard that “people, not guns, kill people.” Actually, it is people with guns that kill the most people. Obviously, the United States and Mexico must place more emphasis on catching gunrunners and tightening and enforcing the laws regarding the sale and purchase of weapons in the U.S.  

Ralph E. Stone 

San Francisco 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Once again, those people at SuperBOLD (Berkeleyans Organizing for Library Defense)have got it right, and are willing to speak up on behalf of budget and best service. Once again, the public library is messing around with the check-out system when the obvious technique is bar code! 

Perhaps more persons would get involved in safeguarding the library (beyond cultcha) if the assistant library director would arrange for posting of all board meetings—regular and irregular—on the Planet’s Community Calendar, the city’s Community Calendar (access by clicking on “View full Community Calendar”), and the Library’s “Upcoming events” and “Board of Library Trustees.” 

Helen Rippier Wheeler 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I laughed all the way through the twisted logic of Charles Siegel’s commentary about the “Anti-Transit Crowd.” 

He complains that the same “familiar faces” opposed Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) at a recent AC Transit meeting. Yet, the majority of pro-BRT letters and commentaries are written by just three devout BRT worshipers, Mr. Siegel and two of his brethren. Through the entire election season, I do not think I saw one letter promoting BRT from a Berkeley resident who was not one of the few well-known “Friends of BRT.” 

By contrast, there were many new voices in the Planet opposing BRT, from people that Measure KK supporters had never heard of before. And such splendid voices they were! One person who we still have not met, Russ Tilleman, wrote several pithy and informative pieces. He suggested an explanation for the riddle of the empty 1R buses—invisible riders—an idea that still amuses me when I see a passengerless VanHool bus careen by. 

Dedicated bus lanes for BRT on Telegraph Avenue would essentially require eliminating local service on that route. I don’t want the local bus service cut. Actual people (visible ones, no less) use it every day. How the desire to continue service that is needed by real people can be deemed “anti-transit” is beyond me. 

This is an example of the twisted logic of the BRT religion. Up is down; black is white—kill the service that people depend upon in favor of service that isn’t used because it doesn’t stop near riders homes—and call it improved transit! 

Thank you Charles for your letters and commentaries. Keep those chuckles coming. 

Gale Garcia 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

This letter is in support of D. Minkler’s appeal to the First Amendment (“Popular speech needs no protection,” Daily Planet, Dec. 4). Guidelines concerning political expression should be as relaxed for an artist as they are for any other individual. Displaying in art works particular to any wide range of opinions is a daunting challenge. For example, in Cuba’s Old Havana there was a consecration ceremony for a new Russian Orthodox cathedral, “the second to be built outside the country (of Russia)” (Granma Int’l, Oct. 26). Someone might portray this as a nice gesture towards a culture and its architecture, while someone else might critique it as indicating toleration of a reactionary political/cultural institution.  

Minkler suggests for the Berkeley Art Commission an actual list of issues. In the list he omitted references to art in support of release of political prisoners. An example, to stick with Cuba: the Cuban Five in U.S. federal prisons now for 10 years. The Cuban Five were railroaded to prison for acting to prevent CIA-trained Cuban exile terrorists based in Florida from engaging in acts of piracy, bombings, hijackings, sabotage, murder, attempted assassinations etc. against the sovereign country of Cuba. The U.S. government unfairly seized and tried the five, kept them in isolation for months, and arrested and jailed partners (with U.S.-issued visas) who were trying to visit them. A picture display promoting winning their release could be an act of elementary solidarity. However, others might object to a focus on the Cuban Five when there are many others also deserving of freedom from U.S. Prisons (such as Leonard Peltier and Mumia Abu Jamal).  

Curating artworks’ different political views in the context of Berkeley is an art in itself. 

Fred Hayden 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Miya will be sorely missed. I enjoyed working with her, even when we were (occasionally) on opposite sides about contentious issues. Unlike many others, she rose above the impulse to be petty in acrimonious disputes. She dealt with conflict and disagreement in a classy, measured way. She never took political or policy disagreements to a personal level, and we remained on very good terms throughout the 8 years that I knew her. 

I am honored that I knew her and was lucky enough to work with her on many issues over the years. 

Jesse Townley  




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Times are tough when millionaires who bought newspapers out of a fancy are struggling with overhead and costs.  

Times are even tougher when that struggle plays out in an aging, highly educated, mainly middle-class city—because I am sure to the publisher of this newspaper it doesn’t make any sense that The Planet is not making any money. 

In Becky O’Malley’s editorial (”Keeping Newspapers Alive: A Few New Ideas”), she floats non-profit status, pay as-you-go giving, subscriptions, and grants as possible ways to keep up the Daily Planet’s woeful status quo. Mrs. O’Malley even suggests wanting to put together an advisory board to offer their ideas. What a dumb idea: a for-profit company looking for help from non-investing individuals. If anything, she should offer “shares” to those she wants to share her influence with. Maybe they too will be millionaires. Think: soon we might have a whole circle of rich citizens who will get to use this editorial page as a demagogic soapbox. But the Daily Planet will to saved! 

The best option and the one that worked for me when I was a public radio program manager is to Live Within Your Means! That means to be innovative on small money and to keep to that until economic times improve. If this newspaper’s costs are hypothetically $6,000 per issue, and it prints seven or eight issues a month, spending is over $2.5 million each year. Costs can be brought down and spending can be wiser. Contractors could be hired and the paper could run longer weekly feature articles instead of a multitude of smaller stories. A good once-weekly with council/committee coverage; an Alameda-Contra Costa political gossip column; letters; the blotter; and one good feature story on a local news subject will be more innovative; more local than New Times; and save well over a million dollars each year. If that savings are in real dollars rather than borrowed cash or credit, the publisher can raise salaries and start investing in overhead again. 

I would challenge that if even if the Planet brought its costs up to raise readership and coverage in Oakland, which I hope for your sake you are seeing as a growth market, and only printed one issue per week it could still earn a tiny income in 2009.  

Good luck and to hell with all your bad ideas. 

John E. Parman 

Washington, D.C. 




Editors, Daily Planet:  

Censorship is a controversial issue, as evidenced by the amount of discussion in regard to the censoring of visual art from the Addison Street Windows Gallery. However, unless we are able to view the work, our judgment about this gallery’s decision lacks perspective. To facilitate an educated debate on this topic, The Red Door Gallery ( will unveil two of the aforementioned censored works in their upcoming exhibition, Art and the Body Politick. Interested readers can attend a free and open reception from 6-10 p.m. Jan. 2 at 416 26th St., Oakland. Hopefully, this lends perspective to the discussion and encourages healthy discourse on a topic so critical to our community’s history. 

Lauren Odell Usher 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

History shows that each generation of Americans has been defined by a particular hardship and their ability to overcome it. Just as my grandma’s generation is defined by their ability to work through the Depression and help win World War II, and just as my parents’ is defined by their handling of the Civil Rights Movement, so shall mine be defined by its ability to overcome the struggles we face. In the last few weeks, perhaps one of the biggest hardships that my generation will have to overcome has presented itself. I’m talking about the battle against the gay marriage ban—the most logical next step towards universal civil rights.  

Contrary to the stereotype that’s been perpetuated against Democrats, I’ve always felt proud to be an American because our society has become increasingly more compassionate since its inception. Since the time our country was founded, the definition of freedom has expanded, not condensed. Each time we’ve taken a big step in advancing civil rights, in fact, has started when a group of people dared to stand up against the status quo. 

There is no denying that the same-sex marriage ban, like other examples of “separate-but-equal” type policies has prejudice at its core. Just as Jim Crow laws were defended by the assertion that segregation would help prevent interracial breeding, so was the marriage ban promoted as a form of keeping homosexuality from being taught in public schools. The good news is that, with the ’60s generation in mind, we can fight these similar forms of oppression the same way they were fought back then. 

In the weeks following Nov. 4, I find myself thinking more and more of the Civil Rights Movement—a time when my parents’ generation was able to cripple institutionalized racism and help put an end to the draft simply by protesting. I’ve realized, however, that one of their most important accomplishments was more symbolic. By successfully fighting against the draft and for civil rights, they showed future generations that the youth can have a voice.  

In 2003, when the war in Iraq began, most of the anti-war protests were organized and heavily populated by people my parents’ age. Now, the response to Proposition 8’s passing has been largely headed by teenagers and young adults. With the last 50 years in mind, I’m taking this as a sign that my generation is willing to step up to plate. 

Nate Gartrell 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

The latest draft of Berkeley Climate Action Plan (CAP) for public review and comment is misusing its basic greenhouse gas information. 

Please look at the pie chart (page 5) for Berkeley in 2005. This chart shows gasoline transportation (autos) at 29 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, and diesel transportation (buses and trucks) at 17 percent. 

But then, in chapter 3, staff combines these two figures (total 47 percent) and erroneously blames the total percentage of emissions on cars, (page 25, paragraph 1): “automobiles within Berkeley city limits account for 47 percent of Berkeley’s total greenhouse gas emissions, approximately 293,000 tons per year in 2005.” An error this egregious renders all of the plan’s statistics questionable. 

In the case of natural gas, they choose to report residential emissions (19 percent) and commercial emissions (17 percent) separately. But they should be combined because they are the same type of emissions. So the single largest source of emissions in Berkeley is natural gas (total 36 percent), while gasoline transportation total is 29 percent. 

There is something quite good in Apendix C, buried in the back on page 171—My Very Own Climate Action Plan. It lists suggestions. Howewer the lists have been reversed from the original order so they now start with “Advanced Actions” instead of the easier actions most of us would begin. The easy actions add add up quickly, and little actions combined mean a lot! 

The advanced items begin with—can you guess?—sell your car. That is a big turnoff for most people. It is also ridiculous as stated. If you sell your car the buyer will likely drive away and continue polluting. The other Advanced Actions are costly, complicated and not easy to jump-start. But they are things we can think about now and plan todo later. 

Try to read and comment on this document. Deadline posted on-line for public comments is Jan. 16. But City Council will discuss this plan at their Jan. 13 meeting. So it is best to to have your comments date-stamped in time for the Staff Report—Jan. 7. 

I try to do all the little things to save energy, and to protect trees which absorb greenhouse gasses naturally in order to live. Think about trees and note how our politicians and UCB don’t hesitate to cut trees and pave the earth..  

Merrilie Mitchell 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

GOP tactics are putting the whole state at risk. A handful of Republican legislators are trying to force their flawed and suspect anti-tax doctrine on tens of millions of Californians causing a financial earthquake. Who are these unsavory culprits and obstructionists? State Assembly and Senate members Mike Villines, Dave Cogdill, Dave Cox, Roger Niello, Ted Gaines, Kevin Jeffries and Rick Keane are GOP leaders holding the state hostage. 

Why doesn’t fellow Republican and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger call the members of his party to task? 

Maybe it is the apathetic Californian citizenry and their ho-hum attitude that is adding fuel to this crisis. Will it take the loss of basic services to finally get the public off their easy chairs and say enough is enough to this GOP minority that is holding the state at bay? 

Ron Lowe 

Nevada City 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

The American middle class worker is being squeezed. Major corporations give their CEOs contracts that protect their salaries, bonuses, and benefits, but they deny those same protections to hard working men and women. When those same hard working men and women try to come together to form a union to gain those rights, they’re often harassed, intimidated, or simply fired by their superiors. 

It’s time for a change. The Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) is a commonsense bill that was blocked by George Bush and the Republicans in Congress. It prevents employers from bullying working people who want to organize a union, and empowers workers by bringing democracy into the workplace and recognizing unions supported by a majority of employees. 

Unionized workers are the backbone of a strong middle class. They’re working harder than ever before, but they have less to show for it than at any other time. It’s time we gave them the power to organize around issues like health care benefits, a pension plan, and safe working conditions. American workers deserves all the same rights as CEOs. 

Jaquelin Pearson 

San Rafael 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

After watching Norm Abrams’ shows, This Old House and The New Yankee Workshop, on PBS for several years, I, as a beginner in carpentry, found that by osmosis had picked up some of the terms used, like “easing” a corner or “sistering” a support beam. He talks about joists and studs and rafters in a way that over time begins to make sense even to a beginner. 

He speaks as a friend who believes you can readily understand. His unobtrusive respect makes it possible to listen to descriptions of complicated, unknown topics without discomfort. We always feel grateful that this good guy is willing to spend time showing us how to do things and explaining how they work. 

He starts every show of The New Yankee Workshop by reminding us that it’s very important to work safely, continuing, “And remember, there is no more important safety tip than to wear this (points at glasses), your safety glasses.” And he does that himself. When he uses a lathe he also wears an additional face shield in front of the safety glasses. 

A good friend of mine, and a very capable person, lost an eye using a wood lathe years ago. (We were all less conscious of safety then.) So Mr. Abrams’ advice has personal meaning for some of us. 

When using a drill on some wood recently, I was in a hurry and didn’t feel like stopping to get out the safety goggles I had. I probably would not have, except for thinking of all the times Norm Abrams had taken the time to tell us once again about wearing your safety glasses. 

Since he had told us and told us that in a calm and caring way, I took the time to get the safety goggles out and put them on. Nothing happened in any case but it was certainly the wise thing to do. I’m glad there was someone somewhere who was enough of a human being to go out of his way to encourage people he does not know and may never meet to do things that will help them. 

So, I am grateful to PBS for having the wisdom to produce and air shows like these, and to Mr. Abrams for helping me to work more safely and to feel a little less lacking in knowledge when thinking about wood and furniture and houses and tools. 

And thanks also to all his wonderful colleagues, past and present. Great people all. 

Norm Abrams is great. 

Brad Belden