Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

Wednesday February 04, 2009 - 06:18:00 PM


Editors, Daily Planet: 

Despite the misinformation and conspiracy theories of the loonies in the room last Tuesday, the Berkeley City Council overrode the Peace and Justice Commission’s recommendation by granting a two-year waiver to 3M to provide the maintenance contract to the Berkeley Public Libraries RFID inventory and security system. In doing so, the council avoided trashing its million dollar investment made by taxpayers three years ago and the necessity of investing at least another $500,000 in a replacement. 

The loonies contended that allowing 3M the measly $70,000 annual contract would lead to nuclear ruin. 

In other news, North Korea, Pakistan and Iran could give a damn what Berkeley morons think and they will continue with their nuclear weapons programs. 

Jonathan Wornick 

Peace and Justice Commissioner 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

With unemployment, food scares and demands on food banks all up, the time is now for an organic revolution. President Obama and Congress are currently considering a massive financial stimulus package to rescue our economy. Absent from the discussion has been any reference to supporting a sustainable and organic food system. 

Our economy and national security depend on relocalizing our food system, shifting away from chemically dependent industrial agriculture, and assuring that the food system supports living wages for farmers, farm workers and other workers in the supply chain. 

Redirecting the billions of dollars in farm subsidies away from corporate farms and industrial biofuels toward a just and organic food system is a solid long-term investment in America’s future. 

David Hartley 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The Daily Planet is one of the few contemporary and local weekly papers that are free of charge that do not have advertisements for escort services. To quote your paper ‘advertising doesn’t cover all of our costs.’ 

Does advertising cover the costs of the other free papers out there? Is this because these papers run advertisements for escort services? I would like to know. I appreciate the Planet, as your paper accurately reports on Berkeley and other community events. I also appreciate that there are no escort services advertised in this paper. I had considered such services a necessary evil; perhaps they are not so necessary. Those advertising the services are generally earning money for personal survival; but those making the largest amounts of money from these services, the industry they serve, are exploiting people for profit. 

I thank the Daily Planet for not running advertisements for escort services. Aside from violating my principles, advertisements for escort services depress me, so I skip over them. In the Daily Planet, I have much less to skip over. 

Ardys DeLu 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Regarding the Duraflame lawsuit against the EPA, how are we supposed to discern what type of smoke is spewing out of people’s chimneys on the few “Spare the Air” days? Even if Duraflame can prove their product does not create toxic particles to be released, we should not burn anything on “Spare the Air” days, period. Let’s keep working to clear the air we breathe.  

Tori Thompson 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I voted, supported and helped the Barack Obama campaign for president. And so I want to give the man a chance given that he’s facing such an incredible array of crises. Nevertheless, I issue this prognostic warning: If President Barack Obama continues to assert that Mahmoud Abbas (whose term as PLO president expired on Jan. 7 and who, as ex-president is now as unpopular among Palestinians as George W. Bush is among Americans) is somehow the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people—while also claiming that Hamas is little more than a terrorist organization—he will find himself a one-term president, his hopes for real change defeated somewhat in the cast of President Lyndon Johnson. LBJ, recall, could not see his way out of Vietnam and so declined to run for a second full term in 1968. Today the road to peace for the world runs through Jerusalem. Obama and the United States have to come to terms with Palestine’s real history and current reality, not the fables of a European-Zionist narrative or the relentless aggression to ethnically cleanse Israel forever of indigenous Palestinian people.  

Marc Sapir 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Following on the heels of the executive branch’s elimination of raises for those making over $100,000, and of Robert Clear’s letter to the editor discussing free-floating CEO “compensation,” we now find that the Berkeley and Oakland city managers will both get raises, to over $230,000, to coordinate municipal messes of very different scales and geographies. How can this be explained? Ah, the Berkeley boss has to deal with the whole Planet, and its insightful investigations! 

Jeff Jordan 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

We are all having an uproarious, entertaining time, being amazed at the naked greed of Gov. Blagojevich. The message is that here’s a one-of-a-kind, unique, politician who got caught with hands and feet in the cookie jar. And then there’s his audacious reaction, claiming that he’s innocent and wishes to join the ranks of MLK and Gandhi. But let’s face it, in spite of the corporate press and corporate late-night hosts’ hoo-hah, seeming to assure us that this guy is a rarity, he most certainly is not. The governor is not unique; he represents a significant percentage of more careful politicians who are loyally following the basic tenet of our capitalist economy: “Maximize the profits of the office, however, wherever and whenever you can.” Blagojevich turns out to be a much too arrogant tippy-top of the iceberg.  

Robert Blau 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Is Berkeley immune from the recession? One would think so when the mayor wants an 8 percent increase in the city manager’s salary (now over $230,000) without public discussion. The fact that President Obama froze the salaries of White House staff earning over $100,000 has had no apparent effect on the perspective of the majority of City Council members. While a single act of fiscal imprudence does not justify the recall petition beginning to circulate, the city manager’s pay raise is symptomatic of the council’s unwillingness or inability to control the wages of city employees, including police and fire personnel. 

Robert Gable 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

We all know all that Obama, serving at his masters’ will, is stuck maybe trying to do some stuff we need done, and not being able to do half enough. This is, after all, a capitalist system. It is not a charity. In fact it is what we see over and over: Capitalism is not a victimless crime. A different president might limit it here or there but will certainly not have any long lasting or major effect. The wars will continue; there is no economy of production of what we need and like by us—certainly not at wages that make any sense, certainly not in gentle care of Earth. 

The deprivation will continue—maybe more slowly—but I think not. Unfortunately we have this critic to tell us how out of place we are for knowing these are how we’re living, and ridiculing us for knowing it. 

A major problem since the communist advance of 1917 has been the incessant and insistent derision, marginalization and criminalization of any left, progressive, oppositional force. A result has been all phases, from accommodation/capitulation to extremist ranting, leaving us without any root in struggle. It’d be helpful to have that kind of criticism be enlightening instead of just stupidly derisive. 

Norma J F Harrison 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

On reaching their destination, Berkeley senior citizens attempting to use their taxi scrip can expect that it will be rejected. Drivers assume passengers will be unwilling or unable to jump out of the vehicle without producing cash. And putting the Berkeley senior citizen on the spot does sometimes work. Some old persons can indeed be counted on to dig deep and pay the fare (the rate recently increased.) Few respond to intimidation tactics by simply exiting the cab. I fear that many more will cease using their scrip while curtailing needed trips. City fathers may wrongly assume from the amount of scrip being redeemed that fewer seniors now need scrip, as illogical as that would be in these times. 

As the expiration date approaches, taxi drivers, bluntly ask for (demand) “your leftover scrip.” I wonder whose name and city “rider’s ID number”—if any—they record when redeeming them. 

Helen Rippier Wheeler 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I am writing about the near-tragedy at Ashby and Ellis, in which a 6-year-old was struck by a vehicle. While it is a relief to hear that she will recover, I find it absurd that the police should place the youngster at fault. If little children are truly responsible for their own safety, they should be permitted to vote, so they may elect legislators who will protect them from being run over on their way to school.  

I hope by the time this letter is published, the parents at Malcolm X School will have taken steps to protect their children and the friends of their children. I have two suggestions. First: Two parents with stop signs should place themselves at the Ellis Street intersection, one on each side of Ashby, to act as crossing guards. Any vehicle that violates the crosswalk zone gets its picture taken and license number noted, to be turned over to the police. Second: Any parent who now drives their child to school should seek out at least one other child who would feel safer to be picked up.  

Malcolm X parents, these are two steps which can be taken now, without any action by the city. It is your school; these are your children. Take responsibility for them all and take charge.  

Chuck Heinrichs 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The tax cuts really do not have great economic stimulative value, but were just inserted to make the Republicans happy. However, it appears that nothing makes the Republicans happy except pandering to their base of right-wingers and plutocrats. So let’s make their day less lank and long, and give them something else to grumble at. Anyone looking at the job-loss figures should understand the importance of immediate action. 

Harold Lecar 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

It is generally agreed that one of the most important ways to stimulate the economy is by increasing consumer spending. One simple way to do this would be via a lottery each month that would reimburse the winners for certain purchases they had made that month—cars, TVs, houses, say. Each purchaser would fill out a simple, one-page form and send it to the government. If the form were randomly chosen (there could be more than one random selection in each category, of course), the government would verify that the purchase had indeed been made, then send the buyer a check.  

The chance that a car or TV or house might turn out to be free, would, I think, motivate a significant number of people to buy. 

Peter Schorer 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Waiting for something dire or wonderful to happen I hold my breath, sometimes literally: When I put $20 on black at the roulette table; when I pick up the mail and there’s a letter from the IRS; when my wife is wheeled into the hospital delivery room with our firstborn; when my son plays solo in his middle school concert.  

I desperately hope Obama will lead us out of domestic and global hellholes created by his predecessor (aided by a spineless Congress and abetted by the dominant media). I deeply fear that the job is too much for such a young, inexperienced chief; I worry that his best efforts will just make the hellholes deeper.  

I’m afraid he’ll fail and I’m afraid of what will happen if he does. I’m afraid to exhale. 

Marvin Chachere 

San Pablo 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Ray Quan, in a November letter to the editor, was right about moving the Cal football to Golden Gate Fields. There is plenty of parking compared with the city streets in Berkeley. 

There is access from four directions, if you count the ferries that can bring persons from all around the bay. 

Buses should have priority to park close to the stadium and to pull forward to leave. The bus occupants could all sit together and have painted lines to their buses. 

Charles Smith  




Editors, Daily Planet: 

As a former Berkeley resident, and Bay Area native, I used to ride the BART system all the time. Then I was guided by God to move up here to Siskiyou County. I’m glad I did this before they started carrying tasers on BART. America and BART have become entirely too paranoid since 9-11. It’s downright scary in the cities. 

My question is, “Why are they carrying tasers on BART?” Isn’t that overkill (no pun intended)? 

Linda Smith 

Weed, CA 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Anti-tax Republicans have become a menace to society. In California, a handful of GOP politicians have used their minority status and an archaic law to hold California and its fiscal budget at bay. A group of fiscal fanatics that is forcing its will on the majority of residents. 

In the nation’s capital, Congressional and Senate Republicans, all, every one of them, voted against a stimulus plan meant to help America out of its financial doldrum. 

When will the people protest and stop being cowards in the face of this band of political neanderthals. 

Ron Lowe 

Nevada City 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

One item that I want President Obama to support is the adoption of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which was passed by the United Nations General Assembly two years ago.  

This declaration will preserve the rights of indigenous peoples to maintain their way of life, such as their institutions, cultures, and traditions, as well as having them participate in matters that concern them. Unfortunately, this country, along with Canada, Australia and New Zealand were the only four that voted against it.  

Billy Trice, Jr.