Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

Thursday July 16, 2009 - 10:50:00 AM


Editors, Daily Planet: 

The July 8 Planning Commission meeting did not address or mention the health issues of the proposed changes to either the West Berkeley zoning amendments or housing issues. 

Do a quick search on the Internet using these words “traffic emissions cancer” “traffic emissions disease,” “traffic emissions premature death.” 

Before trusting high tech companies spun off from research generated at UC Berkeley, LBL and developers to act responsibly. Check track records regarding radioactive, hazardous, and non-hazardous waste. 

Time to end coddling the temple moneychangers. 

Alexandra Andrews 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The West Berkeley Alliance for Clean Air and Safe Jobs was founded to protect our community and jobs—including the jobs of workers at Pacific Steel Casting Company (PSC). PSC’s union vice president, Ignacio de la Fuente, is under the mistaken impression that PSC suffers because “environmentalists have gone too far,” but he provides no evidence to support such a far-fetched claim. 

To the contrary, environmental justice activists have long stood for economic and social justice; that includes protecting both workers’ jobs and a clean environment. Global financial trends (such as the lack of financial regulation) are in large part the generators of the recession, not activists working for environmental regulation. Financiers, not cash-strapped tree huggers, are making out like bandits while folks downwind of PSC get cheated out of health and green jobs in our community. 

If only PSC would be a good neighbor by establishing transparency and participatory, comprehensive toxic use reduction, think what could happen when the recession ends. Neighbors and industrial workers could finally share the benefits of clean air and safe green collar jobs. 

David Schroeder 

West Berkeley Alliance for Clean Air and Safe Jobs 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The Contra Costa Times recently published an article blaming the environmentally concerned citizens of West Berkeley for the economy’s job losses. Once again, this was an attempt made by supporters of Pacific Steel Casting, a major corporate polluter in Berkeley, to deflect attention away from the real issue—the community’s health.  

Hundreds of community residents have expressed their outrage at the health impact of massive amounts of chemicals, from Pacific Steel Casting, to which their children and they are being subjected. These concerns remain.  

The state’s calculations of a nervous system hazard index show that Berkeley’s nervous system risk is about four times higher than that in San Francisco and San Jose. These increased neurological and cancer risks are a genuine reason for the citizens of Berkeley to be alarmed. That’s the real shock in Berkeley, purported to be the green city, not the loss of jobs, unfortunate and dismal news but to be expected in this highly troubled economy. 

Carole Marasovic 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Words beggar to describe the spiritual anguish that I have felt during the last phases of the Bevatron Demolition. 

I have this overwhelming feeling that something monstrous is happening. Not just here but wherever that dreadful stuff is being carted off to. 

That this has coincided with the excavations at what was once the oak grove is just further proof of the absurdity and falsity of both the University of California and the government of the City of Berkeley’s claims to be either concerned with public health or the environment. 

My suspicion is that the Green movement in the government of the City of Berkeley is more of a Brown Movement. 

Arthur Fonseca 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Attention Oakland voters! This summer’s special mail-in Oakland election will end very soon. The Registrar of Voters needs to receive your ballot by Tuesday, July 21 in order for it to be valid. Remember, postmarks do not count. 

The Green Party of Alameda County has prepared an online Voter Guide, at: Our guide contains articles explaining each of our endorsements: No on C (Hotel Tax), Yes on F (Cannabis Businesses Tax), Yes on H (Corporate Property Transfer Tax), and “no endorsement” for D (Kids First! Funding Reduction). 

We encourage you to read our Guide and to also mail in your ballot very soon, as the deadline is almost here! Remember, the polls will not be open for this “mail-in ballot only” special election.  

(Note: If you haven’t yet received your ballot, you should call the Registrar of Voters at 272-6973 right away.)  

Please don’t forget to vote in this important special election. 

Greg Jan 

County Council Member 

Green Party of Alameda County 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I was among the rowdy band of players who launched the Berkeley Shakespeare Festival in John Hinkle Park in 1974, and through its first five years I appeared in a dozen shows before moving on to Berkeley Rep and other venues. I look back at those five years of rough and tumble Shakespeare as one of the most joyous times of my life. Last weekend I revisited that lovely park, on Southampton Road off the Arlington, to see the Woman’s Will production of The Taming of the Shrew. What fun! It is imperfect, uneven, brawling, and delightful—and free, just like old times. The show is solidly anchored by the performances of Kate Jopson as Kate and El Beh as Petruchio, both Cal grads. Jopson is a natural for the role—tall, beautiful, fuming. Beh, who has to “dude it up” as the male antagonist, is totally convincing, with no trace of camp or caricature. All the players are bright and colorful. See it Saturday or Sunday (July 18,19) at Hinkle, or other sites through Aug. 16. 

Jerry Landis 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Regarding “Development Goes Bust in Ireland” (July 9), it is superficial to blame the bankers and developers. These interests always exist, and most of the time the economy is not crashing.  

The financial crash and Great Recession was caused by rapidly escalating land prices. Land values capture most of the gains from economic expansion, especially because landowners pay little of the cost of public works and civic services. Land speculators then jump in and raise land values to heights unaffordable by households and business. The financial sector becomes tied to the real estate interests because the land value is mortgaged.  

The only remedy is to remove the subsidy to land speculation: replace taxes on wages and goods with a tax on almost all the rent or land value. That both raises wages and eliminates the real estate boom and subsequent bust. The landed interests and their political and media allies have misled the public with propaganda blaming the banks and developers, leaving the politicians free to continue their land-value subsidies, creating yet another boom and bust. 

Fred Foldvary 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Tracie De Angelis Salim claims that “Settlers began building settlement outposts in the early 1990s in an effort to expand Jewish presence on territory the Palestinians claim for part of a future state. These settlers had no government sanction” (“The Settlements Are the Real Barrier,” July 9). This is incorrect. 

The so-called outposts were built on land properly zoned and registered within the boundaries of existing communities. The process accelerated when the Barak government agreed to redefine the limits of the communities by agreeing to Arafat’s demand that the Palestinian Authority could encroach as close as 50 meters from the last house rather than the previous arrangement. Faced with this alteration, outposts were set up as far away from the built-up area but within the legally recognized community area. 

Yisrael Medad 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

La Peña supports the independent voices as expressed in the Berkeley Daily Planet. In a time of corporate monopolization of the news media and the dire situation of the printed media, an independent voice such as the Daily Planet is needed more than ever. 

The Daily Planet is essential and unique in its reporting of local, national and global issues and signify the opinions and voices left out from the corporate machinery we are subject to daily. 

This Berkeley paper is truly a valuable and exemplary institution for the promotion and protection of free speech. 

Viva el Daily Planet! 

Fernando Torres 

La Peña’s Staff Collective 

South Berkeley 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

In response to Rabbi Andrea Berlin’s letter to the editor: 

Dear Rabbi, I need to inform you that the Israeli-Palestinian situation is not complex at all. On one side are a people who had prospered in their orchards and towns for more than 1,000 years, without invading and murdering their neighbors. On the other side are violent and criminal ideologues, who used the deaths of six million Jews in World War II death camps (where another six million gypsies, the retarded, disabled and others from at least six national populations also died) for their justification to enact the Jewish National Fund plan for invading Palestine in 1948. The Irgun and Lehi soldiers began the slaughter of civilians and the destruction of towns and orchards in 1948, and those who continue to murder civilians and destroy others property today are criminals and terrorists. Ninety-five percent of the world’s adult population realizes that the State of Israel treats the defenseless Palestinian population with the same contemptuous zeal that the German SS and Gestapo treated European Jewry in World War II. Fanatics with a cause, and cowards with power, attacking defenseless women and children. Theodore Hertz, the founder of Zionism, articulated the policy: “Both the process of expropriation and removal of the poor (Palestinians) must be carried out discreetly and circumspectly.” Not so complex, Rabbi, ya think?  

Mark A. Wetzel 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The plastic bag ban instituted by the Ecology Center at the Berkeley Farmer’s Market hurts working people. I shop on the weekend for the entire week as do thousands of other working people. I do not have time to go shopping during workdays so I need my food to last until the next weekend. Those expensive, opaque, high-fructose Cornspiracy bags that the Ecology Center allows shrivel my vegetables in just a few days. But there is a way to defeat these liberal elites: buy a giant roll of see-through biodegradable plastic bags at the Berkeley Natural Grocery for $15. Manager Rick will hook you up—and tell him that Dave sent you. 

David Akawie 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I think I should be honest. I am descended from Jews, but do not practice, so I call myself a Hebrew agnostic. Nothing that I have heard throughout my life has driven me to hold Israel in any higher regard than any other country. My mother tells me that Jews are so intelligent because the dumb ones get killed off. Yet how am I to interpret people who, because Jews are even in the present day so endangered they say, purport to solve this by cramming us all into a sliver of land so that if one enemy or another decides to do something, we’ll all be right there in range for easy disposal? It sounds like a great country to stay the hell away from if the survival of our people is the question, at least until cooler heads prevail in the leadership. And yes, a leadership less lopsidedly European might help I think. It also sounds like “Never Again” was lost on some people. I see the “Freedom of Speech? Only In Israel” posters on BART. Yes, I think, we should have this here as well, nu? 

And oh yes, I wonder what would happen if a group of Arabs did to a boat what was just done to the Free Gaza Dignity? Oh wait, such a group of Arabs did do that to a boat once. It was called the Achille Lauro. Well, no one’s died yet... that we know of. 

Avery Ray Colter 

Bay Point 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I live on Social Security Disability payments and Supplemental Security Income payments. Granted it isn’t much but it was a lot easier to make it through the month before the government of California decided that I was getting too much. The governor in his wisdom took 36 dollars away from my SSI check in May and now in July another $20 goes back. What are they thinking? When a person barely makes it month to month on meager monies and takes away Denti-Cal so that everyone has to get there teeth checked before the end of June is just unfeasible. How about food prices staying the same, clothing and other necessities. I didn’t vote for the present governor but I did write him an angry e-mail and got a letter back, yet they still make the wrong choice and make being poor even more miserable. 

Anita Fiessi 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The Sunday Bay Area News Group Business headline, “Fuel’s Gold,” and story hide the foolishness of biofuels that do not remove any of the overload of carbon dioxide already in the biosphere of earth. All the biofuels process can achieve is recycling of that gas with more getting added from disturbing the land in the farming process. A much better process is the pyrolysis of organic waste matter and also of trees, rather than annual crops, in a long-range planting operation to get much land spoiled by mining recovered. 

In the biofuel process, the fermenting of the sugars sends off 50 percent of the trapped carbon as carbon dioxide before fuel is gotten. If pyrolysis were applied to the plant material about 50 percent of the carbon would be converted to inert charcoal that can not recycle carbon dioxide. The rest of the carbon gets expelled as a mix of organic compounds that can be refined for fuel or to supply chemical companies with raw materials, free of oil supply, to make drugs, detergents, etc.. In view of having 50 percent of the carbon going into fermentation lost as that gas before getting the bioethanol, it makes no sense to pursue the bioethanol path when the pyrolysis path will convert that 50 percent into easily buried inert charcoal thereby removing it from recycling to start a slow reducing of that overload already exerting decided effects on climate and the environment, especially coral life. 

By the way, a big extra benefit accrues if the massive ever-expanding messes of organic wastes and sewage solids are pyrolyzed as just about all germs toxics and drugs are destroyed. That will greatly reduce costs of maintaining new dumps as they will not have to be monitored for escapes of those hazards and can not have wash-out messes. That also will mean much less chance of water pollution problems. 

If we are going to get some control of climate change, we have to go to a process that can actually remove some carbon dioxide from the biosphere, and biofuels at best only recycle that gas.  

James Singmaster 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

To say that Moe’s Books was a veritable beehive of activity this past Saturday would be an understatement. Celebrating its 50th anniversary, this revered bookstore on Telegraph Avenue threw a party to end all parties, attracting hundreds of customers and friends throughout the day. 

On entering the store, visitors were warmly greeted by Doris Moskowitz, Moe’s charming daughter, whose handsome young son manned the busy elevator. I was particularly attracted to the guest book just inside the store, with its affectionate, sentimental and witty messages reflecting the history of the store and its flamboyant, hard working and opinionated owner, Moe Moskowitz. 

Nothing was overlooked in making this celebration a huge success; there was music, entertainment, and enough food to feed the entire city of Berkeley, thanks to the generosity of local merchants, such as the Virginia Bakery, the Cheese Board, Peet’s Coffee, Star Grocery, and Noah’s, to name just a few. 

For most of the afternoon and evening there was something doing on all five floors, with rousing entertainment in the basement, featuring hula dancers, guitarists and a great jazz combo. It was well known that music played an important role in Moe’s life. Customers were amused when, working at the cash register, Moe would ask admiringly, “Did you hear that? That perfect tone?” So it was altogether fitting that Amoeba Music, together with Marc Weinstein, honored today’s celebration with a free CD of Moe’s favorites (Cab Calloway, Louis Armstrong, Thelonious Monk, Billie Holliday, etc.). 

For those attending this 50th birthday celebration, it was an occasion of sheer joy! And I’ve no doubt whatever that Moe was right there with us—in spirit, if not in body, in his beloved bookstore. 

Dorothy Snodgrass