Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

Thursday August 20, 2009 - 11:05:00 AM


Editors, Daily Planet: 

The debate over Berkeley’s downtown plan might become more grounded in fact if the city were to follow the lead of cities like Havana, which has a three-dimensional scale model of the city, showing any proposed changes to citizens before any changes are made. 

Such an important decision merits a website with images of the competing proposals which all can see.  

In the meantime, more information and commentary is located at where advocates of the petition opposing the Bates plan have collected a number of thoughtful commentaries. 

Tom Miller 

President, Green Cities Fund 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The petitioners are vehemently opposed to the Downtown Area Plan as it was approved by the City Council, but has anyone ever said what it is they do want? Is there an alternative vision for downtown, and if so, can Jesse Arreguin or Kris Worthington or anyone else articulate it—they’ll want “vibrant,” naturally, but beyond that?  

Mr. Arreguin, a big part of your council district is in a sorry state—I know, I live in it. As our representative, what are you planning to do about it?  

Dave Coolidge 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

In my letter “Green should be Green” I inadvertently misstated that David Brower was Co-Founder of the Sierra club, (an impossibility since he was born 20 year after its founding). I intended to state “Brower was a Sierra Club activist and co-founder of Friends of The Earth.”  

It’s an embarrassing mistake, especially since I’ve been exploring the Sierra, coastal and desert wilderness and reading John Muir, David Brower, Barry Lopez, Gary Snyder and the likes for decades.  

More proof that proof reading is a good idea.  

John Koenigshofer  




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I find it strange that someone like Faith Meltzer (letters, Aug. 13) urges people of conscience “to look beyond the extremists on both sides, to reject those that reject compromise, and to embrace the true peacemakers on both sides of (the Middle East) conflict.” Such a noble plea as this would be credible, if it were not coming from such a pro-Israel extremist as herself.  

And joining in the dialog is all well and good, but quite hypocritical for someone who only weeks ago was distributing fliers at the Jewish Film Festival in Berkeley which attacked the Daily Planet as anti-Semitic and urged filmgoers to call or write the Daily Planet’s advertisers (list provided) and to tell them “that you believe their financial support of the Daily Planet is not healthy for our community and not good for their business.”  

When you intimidate others and spread lies, indeed, you are one of the extremists. 

Robert Kanter 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

Proposals to change zoning in West Berkeley with the purpose of encouraging business development “could result in increased development,” according to an initial environmental study authored by Berkeley city planners and quoted in the Daily Planet. Well, I hope so. Noise in the area would likely increase, the report says. The Planet story doesn’t go into great detail on the subject, but two significant sources of noise are identified by the report: traffic and construction. Construction noise, of course, is temporary.  

That leaves traffic. Since the only noise I hear in many of the affected sections of West Berkeley is trash blowing against cyclone fences in vacant lots, perhaps some extra noise caused by cars and buses shuttling workers to well-paying jobs and economically desirable jobs might be socially acceptable. Who knows, maybe some car-battery spinoffs from the university will lead to improvements in the electric car, leading to even quieter streets in the future.  

Russ Mitchell 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I am writing to thank Richard Brenneman for his coverage of the proposed Point Molate casino project. Because of his coverage, I attended the Aug. 12 public hearing on its DEIS/EIR. It was well attended by supporters of a casino/resort. There were only a handful of us who were concerned or opposed to the use of this beautiful bay shore site for intense development. I am not certain those who would or might care are paying attention.  

Are you aware of where this is? This is just north of the Richmond San Rafael Bridge. There is only one way to get there—an exit to the right just before the toll plaza. (This is only one of the project’s big problems—traffic.)  

This is a massive proposal. More that 2,000,000 square feet with several “towers” of 160 feet (16 stories) and 120 feet (12 stories) and the demolition of at least two historic buildings. The project’s EIR is so long and complex (Volume 1 is 1,000 pages plus three more volumes of appendix) that it would take days to read it all, and then the reader would have to tear the pages apart and rearrange it to make sense of it. I have never seen an EIR like it—straight forward information, such as the number of square feet, or daily estimated population, is hard to ferret out. Simple facts are buried in piles of paper.  

The people of Richmond who want the jobs they believe will be generated by this project kept repeating that there will be 17,000 jobs—but the EIR indicates there will be less than 3,000 a day—who is correct? Daily attendance projections runs from 5,000 to 15,000 —I couldn’t even figure it out.  

The proposal violates Richmond’s General Plan, but Richmond council voted for it. I understand there are some in political office who oppose this project, I hope they begin to exert some pressure not to let this project happen. 

Susan Cerny 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Grace Aaron, the current executive of Pacifica Radio, is a sorceress who can appear in multiple locations at the same time. I’ve suspected this for some time, as it’s clearly the most reasonable explanation for the numerous things she’s routinely accused of having done—such as her participation in the Nadra Foster arrest at KPFA, an extraordinary feat of sorcery since, at the time, she was a lowly KPFK board member in Los Angeles without personal authorization over anything related to KPFA. 

Further evidence of Grace Aaron’s witchcraft recently came to light when the national office was charged with a raid on KPFA funds. That was even on the front page of the Berkeley Daily Planet (Aug. 6). The intriguing thing is that since the funds were part of collateral for a loan taken out last fall by a previous chair of the national board, this would seem to have nothing to do with Grace Aaron. Unless, of course, the previous chairwoman was under her spell. So I decided to investigate. I consulted a highly regarded and absolutely reliable psychic. (The consultation fee was rather high, but I received a senior discount.) 

The psychic confirmed that Grace Aaron, the interim executive director of Pacifica radio, is indeed a powerful sorceress. And not only that. It was also revealed during the consultation that, in her past lives, this entity we know as Grace Aaron had done incredibly awful things. 

Back in 1915 she was the German U-boat commander who torpedoed and sank the Lusitania. And in another lifetime before that, she conspired with John Wilkes Booth. 

The appalling truth is that in lifetime after lifetime, since the earliest beginnings of history, she has inflicted disasters and calamities upon humanity. 

Grace Aaron was not alone in those activities. Back in the 1690s she organized and chaired the Salem Association of Witches.  

That entire coven has returned to earth and reconvened in the national office of Pacifica Radio.  

Daniel Borgström 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Clearly a man can witness reality with his own eyes and still see only what he expects to see: Attempts at genocide. Yet that is nothing like the truth.  

The truth is, the people of Gaza in their desperation elected government that will not acknowledge Israel’s right to exist and launches rockets into Israeli neighborhoods per the alignment of their political calculations. Hamas cares no more for the Palestinian people than for the Israelis. They are thugs with no sense of responsibility. Why does Stephen DeGange say nothing of this?  

“Clearly,” he says, the attacks “targeted the civilian population. In Gaza, it could not be otherwise.” An interesting admission. What he is saying without saying so is that Hamas attacked from civilian areas, giving the Israelis the choice between attacking civilian areas, or not responding at all. There is an easily predicted set of outcomes for not responding at all. Why does Stephen DeGange say nothing of this?  

In the end, the author advocates cutting off all military aid to Israel. Weakening this small country, in other words, in the midst of sworn enemies who do nothing for the aspirations of their own people, but manipulate them into hating Israel too much to hate their own dictatorships. History proves time and again this is the surest way to war and genocide. Why does Stephen DeGange say nothing of this?  

Don Teeter 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

For the last two weeks I have been watching what appears to be a million-dollar-plus repaving of the North Berkeley BART parking lot. I have seen perfectly intact, crack-free surfaces destroyed and replaced for no apparent reason. Meanwhile BART employees threatened a strike, fares were recently increased and service has been reduced. 

What is wrong with this picture? 

I have spoken with many commuters and I never heard a single complaint about the surface of the North Berkeley BART parking lot. We do complain about the increasing unreliability of the system and the higher fares. We also don’t appreciate that every year, for several years, when it rains heavily the roof leaks, allowing a dangerous amount of water to spill onto the train platform. I am also aware that there are serious seismic safety issues with the transbay tubes. 

People can, and do, regularly park in unpaved, weedy parking lots and don’t care. If the goal was ADA compliance it could have been achieved easily without redoing the entire parking lot. But higher fares and less frequent service turn riders into drivers. 

BART should do everything they can to redirect funds for non-essential vanity projects, such as parking lot repaving, towards safety improvements, better service and lower fares. I understand that this may mean delaying projects that have been planned for several years, but when funding is low it is essential that taxes and fares are used to deal with the most important needs, rather than projects that have simply made their way to the head of the line. 

Similarly, grant and federally funded projects should be prioritized by real, current needs, and in some cases these funds should be redirected, even if it requires additional administrative work to do so. 

Michael Freeman 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Who wants a possibly toxic construction dump and eight-foot-high dirt dug mounds a few feet from your house? Probably contains lead, asbestos, etc.?  

Redwood Gardens, consisting of at-risk disabled and elderly, doesn’t want it.  

But the university, perhaps hoping for fewer complaints and political heat than from area’s richer folks has dumped it there anyway. The wind continually blows a perfect storm of this suspect dirt all over the Redwood compound: into peoples’ faces, eyes, lungs, cars, homes, food, water, breathing and other medical equipment. Residents and others are feeling the effects in terms of increased eye, (one person stated to his doctor that he had reduced eye functionality from the dirt), lung, and immune problems which lead to more medical visits in an already underfunded, overstrained system.  

The constant construction truck noise and loud beeping which often starts from 7 or 8 a.m. to sometimes 9:30 at night (sometimes six days a week) has caused some residents to lose much sleep and to have to keep their windows closed to try to reduce the noise, the dirt the and the stresses on their emotional and physical health. 

How safe is it to even go out breathe the air? The university plans more construction.  

Vita Weiss 

P. Smith 

Berkeley Citizens for Fair Housing 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Congratulations to the Albany Police Department. They have managed to terminate a new business and destroy the dream of a family. 

When Phil Ferratt opened his new restaurant Ferratt’s at San Pablo and Solano in Albany, he had the vision of creating a family-friendly dining establishment complete with an open-air patio and off-street parking (a parking lot shared with Beverages and More). 

He filed the necessary ABC paperwork to secure a beer and wine license and posted the appropriate notice in the front window. Ferratt was then told that he must secure the approval of the Albany Police Department as a final step in the process. 

This was his downfall, since Ferratt was told by the chief’s office they “there were too many permits to sell alcohol in Albany” and they did not want to approve the arbitrary decision.  

Phil Ferratt tried to wait it out hoping for a change of heart...but there was no heart in Albany and Ferratt’s closed their doors this past week. Unfortunately for me (and a few others), we have lost a great place to enjoy breakfast.  

K.C. Jones 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I am sick and tired of the health care industry that cares more about its bottom line than the health of a nation. How can we live in such a wealthy nation where 46 million Americans are uninsured, where those of us who do have health care can barely afford to pay our premiums and are constantly fighting to have care because companies claim “pre-existing conditions.” 

It is time for a health care plan that provides care for all Americans. It is time for the health care industry to stop spending millions of the dollars it has stolen from us to spread lies and misinformation with only its own profit in mind.  

It is time for a change.  

Congress must pass genuine health care reform in 2009 and we must take action by making phone calls, donating to the campaign, writing letters, meeting with our elected officials and knocking on doors to assure that they do.  

Jonah Zern