Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

Thursday August 06, 2009 - 10:41:00 AM


Editors, Daily Planet: 

  For years I have heard complaints about how UC doesn’t pay local communities for the utility services it uses, that it doesn’t follow local zoning codes, etc. Now there is a bill in the California Legislature, SCA 21, that would allow elected representatives to address some of these issues. Yet, most of the City Council is against it! I don’t understand.  

Chris Gilbert 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I hope the City of Berkeley doesn’t pass any copycat parking regulations such as those recently implemented in Oakland. I dine out frequently, go to movies, plays, and musical events. Now I favor Berkeley restaurants, Berkeley movie theaters, and all Berkeley venues, because I don’t want to worry about getting a ticket after 6 p.m. or having to add an extra $4 to whatever I do after 6 p.m., or wondering where I can park for a 4 p.m. movie without leaving the theater before the movie is over to move the car. No wonder small businesses in Oakland are mad.  

Nancy Bartell 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I have to agree with letter-writer Laura Figueroa. As a long-time Berkeley homeless person, and a registered Republican, I get more crap in this town for being a Republican than for being homeless. 

Ace Backwords 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Having worked in Berkeley for 31 years and having lived in Berkeley from 1989–2003, it is my opinion that Berkeley isn’t mean to the homeless population. I do agree with Laura Figueroa, who wrote last week, that there is a lot of work and dialogue needed in regards to the homeless in general in Berkeley to make the current situation better. 

Alan Roselius 

Castro Valley 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Ace did a fantastic write up on B.N. Duncan. I was too young at the time to appreciate his comics and humor (same with Ace), but when I got older and re-read the comics that I have from them (in mint condition, no less!) I got to experience all the chaos and funnies in those strips and now I appreciate them as comic writers of that era. I just wanted to write in and say that I am glad Duncan got a write-up and that people do remember him and the legacy he has given to the Bay Area. Next time you indulge in a Hostess fruit pie, cover it in butter and fry the damn thing. 

Josh Broughton 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

More Berkeleyans become homeless every day and I have never been busier. Money that used to help the homeless has been diverted to the mayor’s favorite phony drug and alcohol program, Options Recovery. With a wink and a nod, the entire City Council approves of their mission of working with the police to run homeless Berkeley residents out of town. Proof of this is Options Recovery’s support of the mayor’s plan to criminalize sitting and offering to set up a program for sitters! I guess if you are disabled and can’t stand, you are the first to go. 

Meanwhile the city and Options Recovery has run out of bona fide beer drinkers/self medicators with no health insurance to arrest and harrass, so they are now importing parolees from places like San Leandro. One of them sold my Berkeley High student step-daughter and her friends a bottle of vodka. They all got very sick and my step-daughter had to be hospitalized. It seems the Options Recovery parolees share Civic Center Park with the high school students. It’s just a hot mess that everybody responsible refuses to acknowlege. Thankfully we were able to send our daughter out of state to finish up high school.  

But what about those left behind? Are they to be the next generation of Options Recovery/Santa Rita County Jail fodder?  

Dan McMullan 

Disabled People Outside 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

I was deeply moved by Becky O’Malley’s July 30 editorial. Having grown up in Belgium during the German occupation, witnessing the plight of the Jewish people who were being harrassed and killed, I am deeply aware of cruelty in any shape or form and the suffering of the Palestinians is a horrible testimony of people and nations after being oppressed, turn around and become the oppressors. I believe that the the Jews who are persecuting your newspaper are behaving in a despicable way.  

I hope and pray that George Mitchell will be able to bring about some solution to the Mideast crisis and this administration should reduce the aid given to Israel, which most of it goes to weapons and send the same amount of aid to Palestine, with the stipulation that the money be used for peace-building efforts. I am sending a small contribution to your paper and hope that people who read this letter will join me in supporting the Berkeley Daily Planet, which is a much-needed “free speech” tool in this area. 

Andree Julian 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

A group of conservative Jews has apparently tried to shut down the Daily Planet or interfere with its operations because they believe it is an anti-Jewish newspaper. The Berkeley Daily Planet has been put into the middle of a battle it never asked for, and doesn’t want. This is because it has allowed opinions to be published that criticize Israel’s policies. This group of conservative Jews attacking the Planet seems to believe that if someone allows criticism of Israel in their paper, this equals anti-Semitism. 

Meanwhile, Becky O’Malley, editor of that paper, has repeatedly denied an anti-Jewish bias in numerous editorials. However, as I see it, this might be adding more fuel to the fire. When someone attacks a person, it is a natural instinct to go into an opposing position. Yet, if a person is operating at a higher level, they do not have to “fight back,” toward their perceived assailant. They could merely step aside when the person is coming after them, and this assailant will trip and fall under their own power. If you don’t give emotional juice to a person who is trying to start a fight with you, you can be much more efficient at avoiding that person, using confusion tactics, or otherwise getting away unharmed. 

I perceive that unfortunately Becky is stuck in an opposing position against the assailants of the Planet. Ironically, this is a similar problem to what Israel and its supposed enemies face. If you’re “not into” a battle, you won’t get one as often. If your goal really is peace, then be peaceful. 

As a Jew and as a rational human being, I do not believe that either Becky O’Malley or the Planet have shown any anti-Jewish prejudice. However, I believe they are stuck in a fight that they didn’t ask for and don’t want, and they have forgotten that the only way out of a fight is to stop fighting. 

Jack Bragen 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

Yisrael Medad, a citizen of USA, the most privileged country in the world, finds it necessary on account of his religion, to leave the country of his birth, travel thousands of miles to colonize Palestine, steal the land and water of the natives, uproot their trees, demolish their homes, impoverish them and destroy their livelihood, then send letters to the Berkeley Daily Planet to propagandize for his adopted country claiming that he and his fellow settlers are seeking equal rights for Jews and Arabs in Palestine. Really? 

Medad should tell us what Jewish colony he lives in and to what rabbinical authority he ascribes. Is he a follower of settler Rabbi Yitzhak Ginsburg who, in defending the killing of a 13-year-old Palestinian girl in 1989 by his yeshiva students, declared in court, “It should be recognized that Jewish blood and a goy’s blood are not the same ...The people of Israel must rise and declare in public that a Jew and a goy are not, God forbid, the same. Any trial that assumes that Jews and goyim are equal is a travesty of justice.”  

Could Medad be a follower of settler Rabbi Dov Lior, chairman of the Yesha Rabbis Council, who ruled that it is “Kosher to kill gentile women and children in wartime,” and who only this week called on Jews to act now to “Judaize” the town of Nazareth Illit? 

Does Medad live in Kiryat Arba settlement whose most famous resident was mass-murderer Baruch Goldstein? Settler Goldstein celebrated the 1994 Jewish holiday of Purim by massacring 29 Palestinian Muslims as they knelt in prayer in the Ibrahimi Mosque. Baruch Goldstein, who was an American citizen, is considered a hero of the settler movement and is honored by burial in a prominent shrine, a popular site of pilgrimage for religious settlers. On the plaque on his grave it is written that he was holy and that he “gave his life for the Jewish people, the Torah and the nation of Israel” and that he died “pure of heart, clean of hand.” In case you are perplexed, settler Baruch Goldstein only had goy’s blood on his hands. 

Hassan Fouda 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

I guess it’s good business for a local real estate agent to appease the locals, but the issue has already been decided in court. Neither the Panoramic Hills Association, the City of Berkeley nor the animals that were defecating in the oak trees were successful in stopping the new facilities from finally progressing. Memorial Stadium has been around a lot longer than the homes and the occupants that surround it. If you can’t stand being around college students and/or big football crowds, why in the world would you buy a multi-million dollar home right next to a football stadium? Perhaps the haters can move to Sun City, and Ms. Dittmer can sell all their houses for them? Win-win for everybody! 

Daniel Breining  




Editors, Daily Planet: 

In their July 30 commentary about California’s state budget, writers Ariel Boone, Nik Dixit, and Mia Pskowski rightfully lament the recently signed budget. What kind-hearted person wouldn’t? However, I must take exception to their last paragraph: “We could have used painless fees to minimize painful cuts.” 

There is no “We.” There is only “They,” the political elite in Sacramento, especially all our Bay Area Democrats, who voted for the budget. 

The writers state effect but flee from cause. Their commentary is a fine example of bleeding-heart liberalism. Their hearts ache at the consequences of the budget but their minds are asleep with reference to any analysis of how and why it passed. 

This failure to name names, i.e. be specific, is also reflected in their extensive use of the passive voice throughout the commentary. E.g. “…Sacramento’s refusal to consider taxes…” The city becomes a stubborn person. This is nonsense writing. This type of writing only perpetuates the dense atmosphere of lies and distortions that is our political reality. 

Two of the writers are affiliated with Democrat organizations. Apparently that blinds them to the fact that the budget passed because enough Democrats joined 23 Republicans. This inability to tell it like it is becomes an additional obstacle to any progressive change. 

Republicans seem to vote their values, however irrational they may be. Not so Democrats. Not one stood up and said, “I can’t vote for this barbaric and cruel budget.” Senate Leader Steinberg said of his support for the budget, “I can face myself in the mirror.” Then he is faceless, i.e. immoral. 

Whether legislative Democrats are self-proclaimed progressives or not, all have as their main objective getting reelected. No rocking of boat allowed if those free health care, free car and gas, free lobbyist lunch perks are to continue. They are the real live people responsible for the gashed budget. The writers would do well to point that out in future writings.  

Maris Arnold 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Mr. Allen-Taylor has missed the import of Pat Buchanan’s remark regarding the Supreme Court’s whiteness. Buchanan said the reason why nearly all justices have been white is because the country was created and largely built by whites. Of itself the observation does not justify any racism or sexism. It is simply a factual statement. Allen-Taylor would like to believe that women and slaves would have written the Constitution and made the Declaration of Independence if they had not been otherwise occupied in the kitchen and in the fields, making them virtual creators of America. That is lame. 

What is at stake is the justification for our current system of race and gender preferences. Victimhood is supposed to make it all right. The obvious response is that white men created a country of what not long ago would have been unimaginable mass health, wealth and personal freedom. This is the fruition of a western tradition which created democracy and secular society, the scientific and technological revolutions, the agrarian and industrial revolutions, the Enlightenment and liberal democracy. It is not the product of either African, Asian, or any ancient Americas’ civilization.  

Racism, sexism, class oppression and a number of other unpleasantries are common to all civilizations. Indeed, most would have difficulty even understanding those things as problems, much less setting out to resolve them. Mr. Allen-Taylor thinks that Ms. Sotomayor has a race/gender right of preferential access to a system created by someone else, and that the collective guilt of whites justifies it. He is wrong. The flip side of collective guilt is collective credit. That is why whites in general and white men in particular have a right to be free of discrimination. 

Larry Carlson 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Who wants to live with Dead Downtown? The City Council voted 7–2 to get us unstuck from Dead Downtown! The Planning Commission and the Downtown Area Planning Advisory Commitee worked four years to forge the hammer to break the bonds of Dead Downtown! Why should we sign a petition to keep us mired in sickening Dead Downtown? How many more years before the clods of dirt are finally shoveled over us and our downtown, with sad sad words? Final peace for Dead Downtown... 

Is Manhattanization the price we must pay to fan our remaining little spark of life? Bring it on! A little of the big-M will do Berkeley some good—so many people are THERE because they LOVE? the place! What a wonderful change it would be to hear people say they love Downtown Berkeley!  

When I visited Manhattan I was astonished at so much life at every scale, even tons of TINY businesses were thriving—retail, discount stands, repair, specialty, food carts. In Berkeley, it is impossible to add one more table of crafts, or a food cart, and larger scale retail is going the way of Berkeley’s Eddie Bauer Store. Come back, Eddie Bauer! Agreement on our latest plan has taken four years, and now the naysayers are asking that we scrap it and start over, at the cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars of OUR cash. The naysayers love Process! They can do it forever! 

In the meantime: Dead Downtown.  

The University of California is a huge player in Berkeley’s downtown, but by state law it does not even have to think about Our downtown plan. The council-approved plan co-ordinates with university plans. THEY are planning to build some BIG buildings. If we continue forever to dither and squabble we will have unbalanced parasitic growth on the corpse of our downtown. 

So if you are asked to sign a petition, just ask questions. Don’t we need ER instead of EIR? Haven’t we had enough Dithering Delaying Tactics? Our own Democratically Elected Berkeley City Council voted 7–2 for a plan that took four years to develop. Will more years and more of our dollars result in a plan that pleases everyone? And most importantly, why conjure up super-size phantom problems when we could be taking the next real steps to revive our Dead Down Town? 

David Soffa 




There is a poem that is slowly fading and being shoe-leathered into unreadbility on a cement sidewalk in Berkeley.  

A heart-felt love-note to Berkeley, it’s located in the 1600 block of Shattuck Avenue, across the street from the Sew-Clean Cleaners. 

I thought it deserved to be preserved.  

—Gar Smith 




Belongings in bags 

Eating organic leftovers 

Recitals outside BART 

Knights on shopping carts 

Educating the students 

Listening to windchimes 

Enjoying a chai latte 

You’re the luckiest hobo in the world.