Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

Thursday September 17, 2009 - 09:47:00 AM


Editors, Daily Planet: 

Pedestrians in Berkeley must be cautious because the annual crop of out-of-state drivers has arrived. They know nothing about yielding to pedestrians, and they’re already running late and in too much of a hurry. UC apparently does little or nothing o educate them about California traffic laws. Those who got California drivers licenses have bad habits and reflexes, and those who don’t get California licenses don’t even know our laws. UC might not even warn in-state new students from pedestrian-friendly towns to be super cautious because they’re now in an unsafe area where anarchy is the norm.  

Perhaps the city and/or campus can post signs, especially at the new stairs across Hearst into LeRoy, where the Hearst ave. fence obscures drivers’ vision. Let’s all be safe! 

Mitch Cohen 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I laughed at the letter about bike safety in the Sept. 10 edition written by Susan Tripp. She said, “I almost killed my son by opening my car door there in front of him because I had not noticed the few and faded bile logos.” Ms. Tripp obviously failed to follow the law which requires motorists to look before opening their doors. Attempting to blame it on the city for failure to have sufficiently marked bike lanes is a lame attempt to avoid responsibility. Not to mention nobody believes she would have looked if there had been bike logos painted in bright neon colors every five feet. 

This reminds me of a driver who nearly doored me a while back. She apologized saying “I didn’t see you!” I happened to have been watching her, which is why I wasn’t doored, and she neither turned her head nor looked in the mirror before opening her door. Of course she didn’t see me. She didn’t look!  

Most cyclists in Amsterdam don’t wear helmets. Instead they’re taught in school how to ride safely and responsibility. Students in driver ed classes there are taught to respect cyclists. And it works. They have enormously fewer car/bike and bike/bike accidents there vs here in the United States. 

Bob Muzzy 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Given that the UCB student body’s become a financial anchor for AC Transit, it behooves the agency to provide more effective bus routes for this bulk of its Berkeley ridership, especially when it’s also proposing to cut the frequencies of the most crowded student-serving routes. One method of accomplishing this goal would be to circumnavigate the campus with the 1R, thus also encouraging an adequate “off-peak” ridership for what was proposed as a flagship route. 

Jeff Jordan 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Kristy West’s comment about non-smokers being put in a windowless room for one hour being capable of walking out alive, as opposed to those trapped in the same room with a running car, is an internet-driven canard surfacing all over the country in town halls and council meetings—anywhere where people are trying to recover their right to smokefree air. It was reported in four public comment periods last week alone. It’s amazing that anyone thinks this is a powerful argument. 

Cancer and heart disease may not kill as immediately as carbon monoxide poisoning, but they kill just as clearly. Equally clear are the statistics documenting the reduction in disease accompanying smokefree laws protecting the public from deadly secondhand smoke. 

Kristy West is neglecting to consider that some of the people being systematically poisoned by second-hand smoke are cancer survivors and/or have lung conditions which may manifest serious, even fatal symptoms after an hour of heavy exposure. 

I share Ms. West’s concern about auto emissions, but, especially as a cancer survivor, I know that such concerns do not excuse the distribution of pure fallacy. 

Carol Denney 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Some people called me voicing their concern about what they felt I was doing which is what they thought regarding me protecting Reza Valiyee. 

One woman, who was very distressed, is homeless and now living on the streets. She told me Reza forced her out of her room illegally.  

I never meant to defend or protect Reza Valiyee. I have heard that he didn’t like to use building permits. My landlord corporation does not like to use permits either. In fact, he hired a subcontractor who picked up day laborers at Home Depot and the workers were locked up on a roof. I called a union organizer from the roofers union and he came right over. We tried to speak to the workers and many did not speak English. We were concerned because they were not allowed to speak to us.  

There was no permit and there was no workers compensation for the day laborers. Eventually we were chased off the property by the contractor and we left because we did not want to get arrested. There must have been at least 12 day laborers carrying the tar off the roof. Some of my neighbors on my block noticed what was going on.  

My point in my last letter to the Planet about Reza Valiyee was true: he did not harm me. I did not know the extent of how much he had gotten away with. I know that there are landlords like mine who do not like to use permits. As a daughter of a licensed contractor I knew my father always obeyed the housing laws. My father was an immigrant from Iran. Sometimes he paid apprentices journeyman wages.  

Indeed there are still some Robin Hoods in the world. My father was a socialist who believed in the teachings of Christ. My feeling is that to do unto others as you would have them do unto you is vital and one can even be a business person and do the right thing. I’m almost sorry to have written the letter about Reza defending him, but I would say that many people were being truthful about his actions. 

Diane Arsanis 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

As a KPFA listener working to publicize neutral events prepared around the bay area for listeners to meet all candidates for KPFA’s Local Station Board, it is extremely frustrating that few announcements are being made on-air of the carefully-prepared forums. Most “Concerned Listeners” (CL) have chosen not to attend most of them. One reason may be their use or misuse of inside access to thousands of listener/members through other means.  

One of their members in a key administrative position on the Alameda County Central Labor Council has access to the email of thousands of union members and currently unemployed union affiliates. Many KPFA listener/members have received the email quoted in part below. 

It implies that non “Concerned Listener” candidates want to fire all paid staff at KPFA. This is a complete fabrication, and in fact board members, former board members and others running have worked hard to find financial solutions for the station and network that do not involve firing paid staff. 

The first half of the email details “Concerned Listener” labor support. (And of course there is strong labor support for other candidates, none of whom were given an audience at key Central Labor Council events where “Concerned Listeners” were invited to present their case).  

The 2nd half of the email sent to thousands, reads: “They’re [Concerned Listeners] also strong supporters of KPFA’s professional staff, who are members of CWA Local 9415—unfortunately, other elements of KPFA’s board have attacked the station’s unionized staff, and called for replacing them with volunteers.  

Listener/members should consider to what lengths, including fabricating stories, “Concerned Listeners” will go to see their own candidates elected. It may be understandable that a slate who have voted consistently for policies nationally and locally which have endangered the financial well-being of the entire network are using such tactics to get elected rather than honest debate of issues. 

Mara Rivera 

San Francisco 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

It now appears that the September 15 KPFA fund drive date was planned back in January by the CL management group. This was after the Bylaws amendment that changed the election to September. So they were trying to interfere with the election when they planned the Fund Drive back in January, since the Fall fund drive had traditionally been in October. At least when the election was in October in 2006 and 2007.  

So the new twist is that do to financial necessity the Fund Drive needs to stay in September. So if you haven’t read my expose “Pacifica Financial Crisis-Who is Responsible” please do and you will see that the same folks that have been messing with the elections are the same folks that but Pacifica in the financial hole that it is in by letting WBAI bleed red ink for so many years. You can find the article in the Indybay archives, the Berkeley dailly Planet archives , May 14, 2009 or at http://www.  

Please contact KPFA management and demand that they continue the election coverage during the fund drive so that the voters can get as much information as possible to guide their votes. Thank you. 

Richard Phelps  




Editors, Daily Planet: 

In her Planet commentary of Sept. 10-16, Sasha Futran accuses Concerned Listeners (CL) of everything from being responsible for the current fiscal crisis at KPFA to being, well, “old.” I don’t intend to get down in the mud with Ms. Futran, but suffice it to say that CL, since its inception, has fought for financial transparency and responsibility for the past three years. When a resolution was passed at the last Station Board meeting calling for full transparency and fiscal responsibility from the Pacifica National Board, Ms. Futran voted against it. Listeners to KPFA might ask her why. 

Yes, some of us are “old.” We like to think experience is not a negative attribute. 

Our opponents attack us for virtually everything (no, we are not responsible for global warming), but they never say what they want or anything positive about the station. CL thinks KPFA is a treasure, a source for news you get nowhere else, and a reservoir of culture and music you won’t find on Clear Channel. We salute the hard-working staff that turns out quality radio week after week, and the volunteers who produce a huge part of the programming. A few examples: 

Letters to Washington, hosted and produced by Mitch Jeserich, is a program now picked up by Pacifica stations and affiliates around the country, covering everything from the fight for single payer health care to the escalation of the war in Afghanistan. 

KPFA’s news programs consistently cover stories that the mainstream ignores, or gives our listeners new and fresh angles on the story of the day. New programs on the Middle East, the Horn of Africa, Central Asia and other areas of the world are due to start up in the next several months. 

And nobody comes close to our music and cultural programs. 

Yes, KPFA has serious financial problems, but we beat our goals in the last two fund drives, and we also brought in more donors. Unfortunately, times are hard for everyone, so donors gave us less money. The up side is even in times of difficulty, our listeners like what they hear on KPFA. 

This election boils down to one very simple question: Who is our audience? CL thinks we need to reach out to new audiences and not just talk to ourselves. We think this can be done without dulling KPFA’s edge. Our opponents want to talk to other activists. We have no problem with that, but we need to connect with everyday people. And quality, professional programming with a radical edge can do that. By increasing our audience, we build a firmer financial base for KPFA. If you think this is a good vision, please vote for the Concerned Listener slate. 

Donald Goldmacher, Producer 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

As a physician who sees first hand the damaging effects of America's anti-health deny-care non-system, I can’t believe Obama’s stance. People are dying and he is doing nothing—in fact he is doing worse, because this debacle he is leading will set back the cause of health care reform for years to come. Much as I thought he might have the interests of the people in mind, it is clear that he does not. Please stand up and tell him that health care reform without any discussion of single payer, which is clearly the only system that will really change health care in America for the better and is supported by more Americans than any other proposal, is not reform at all. 

Robert Kevess 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

As an American and, yes, as a Jew, in light of the UN Report by its fact finding commission, chaired by Justice Michael Goldstone, an investigatory mission with which the Israeli government refused to cooperate, and the continued refusal by the Netanyahu government to cease all building of settlements in the West Bank and in East Jerusalem, I call upon Senators Boxer and Feinstein and Congresswoman Lee, I implore Senators Boxer and Feinstein and Congresswoman Lee to publicly condemn current Israeli policy and to introduce legislation and/or employ both political and moral force to immediately stop all American economic and military assistance to Israel. 

   For those who are conversant with Yiddish, what the Israeli government has been and continues to do is, in transliterated form, ‘A Shanda Na-Happa!’ 

   Please note too that the Goldstone report faults both the Israelis and the Palestinians. 

Irving Gershenberg 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Eric Rhodes (Letters, Sept. 10) was ticketed for overtime parking, not for failing to see the chalk on his tire. The chalk is to tell the meter maid that the car is in violation—it’s the driver’s job not to exceed the time limit, chalk or no chalk. 

Jerry Landis 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I often wish news agencies would publish more hopeful, positive articles in this era of, more often than not, bad news. So I thought I’d give a shout out to those folk who quietly make the world a better place. I cook lunch every week a women’s shelter (Women’s Day-time Drop in Center in Berkeley). This center is located in a small house next door to a playground and staffed by some of the kindest and dedicated folks. Here’s a snapshot of my Mondays. As I peel carrots or slice bread in preparation for lunch I’m in awe of all the folks who make that possible. My kitchen partner, Sandy, who’s showed me the ropes with her 15 years of weekly volunteer experience at the shelter.  

Then there’s the 91 year-old gent who picks up leftover bread from local bakeries and drops it off. We smile when we see him as he’s spry and in his vision of a perfect society he’d like to “put us out of business” as he hopes there would be no need for homeless shelters. Amy stops by each week with produce from her garden so I can put fresh chard in a frittata and than there’s Victor who bring us extras—pasta from Chez Panisse or tomatoes from the Farmers’ Market. Paul, a general contractor showed up yesterday to rebuild the bookcases and put shelves in the storage shed and Wendy leads a craft session each week with the ladies.  

I love the smiles on the clients’ faces as they show off a necklace or earrings they just made. Lisa and Rachel show up with diapers, toiletries and school supplies as they are running a back-to-school drive through a website they have created (  

So when the world news gets me I look forward to my Mondays. 

Carolyn Weil 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I am writing on behalf of commuters who will face great difficulty if ACTransit alters the existing route of the 51 bus which runs from Berkeley Marina to downtown Oakland every day. 

This bus route helps commuters get to schools and doctors in Oakland, as well as to get to work. 

If this bus route is divided into two as planned it will hurt poor and needy students who ride the 51 to schools. It will also hurt the elderly and the sick who ride the 51 to Kaiser Hospital daily. It will also hurt thos working people who ride the 51 all the way to downtown Oakland to reach their workplaces. 

I am requesting the transit department to rethink their decision. I would value input from other working people like me who will be greatly inconvenienced if an additional change of buses is required to reach downtown Oakland from the Berkeley Marina. 

Romila Khanna 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

I do not know Van Jones, have never met him. When I was an active Gray Panther in the late seventies working for rent control, I believe I first heard his name in Oakland tenant advocate activities. 

What I am disturbed about may seem trivial, but nevertheless it discomforts me to have what is essentially gossip concerning Mr. Jones’s temperament discussed as the possible and possibly justified reason why our president and his staffers did not try to defend and retain Van Jones. 

What it reminds me of is the manner in which former California Supreme Court Chief Justice Rose Bird was treated by some other female activists. Even diva advocates in the Gray Panther establishment speculated that because Ms. Bird’s temperament was supposedly not easy, therefore not coming to her defense was understandable. 

I have never been involved with any advocacy organization that did not have persons in leadership that I would not like to live with. The point is we are not asked to live with them, or even like them. We are  




asked to appreciate their gifts and try to hang in with them long enough to make use of their gifts for the greater purpose that we are supposedly involved with them in the first place. 

So I think the second-hand rumors regarding Mr. Jones’s arrogance and uncooperativeness are petty and beneath the usual standard of commentary of the Daily Planet and its Editor. 

Marilyn Talcott  




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The new conventional wisdom is that Obama is losing the independent voters that helped elect him. The polls show he’s too liberal, we are told. Well, then. Show Me The Liberal! What’s Obama done that’s liberal? Afghanistan? A Bush-style buildup that couldn’t have sounded more Republican if Obama’d announced it with a Southern accent. Nothing liberal there. So is the President too cozy with the ACLU and civil liberty folks? Show me. Obama has kept in place almost all the Bush-era detention apparatus. He’s retained almost all the laws that Bush enacted to interrogate potential terrorists. Is his healthcare plan too liberal?  

Last time I checked, the private insurance companies were set to make huge profits because of Obama’s plan to require every citizen to have health insurance. And it looks like the “public option” is gone, largely because Obama didn’t push for it. So has Obama been the much-promised scourge of the pharmaceutical industry? Not really. For months now, Obama’s been consulting with the drug companies in private about his health care proposals. So where’s this Obama the Populist? Show Me The Liberal! I certainly don’t see it.  

Mike Platz no location given 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The article on the epidemiology of suicides on GG was very good. The profile provided—residence in particiular—does not fit the urban myths about who uses the bridge to commit suicide. I can comment on this because as a Beach Watch Volunteer I survey a beach directly NW of the bridge every fortnight and I hear many stories about the flowers that wash up on the beach and various “stats” about jumpers. 

Keep up the good work and present data about our community’s public heath issues 

JM Fitzpatrick, PhD 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

I wonder if readers know of David Swanson, the director of and author of the new best-selling book Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union (Seven Stories Press, 2009). David, who lives near DC, is on the board of Progressive Democrats of America, has a radio program, is a founder of, and is a leading voice for the prosecution of Bush and Cheney for war crimes. Swanson is appearing in Berkeley at the Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists on November 22 to talk about his book, which I recommend highly, partly because it’s excellent, and partly because it fits so well with plans I’m making to “daylight” Dick Cheney on his own fishing grounds.  

I’ve only been fishing once. Took a fly fishing lesson in Sedona, Arizona at daybreak, and caught a pretty little trout which I promptly released and watched swim swiftly away to safety. But the daybreak I see coming soon and am talking about now requires another fishing expedition—this time for the high-ranking individuals who have deliberately altered our 3-branch system of government into a imperial, unitary executive which can ignore Congress and the expressed desire of the people for justice, peace and well-being. Congress has become a spineless group of politicians constantly running for re-election and kow-towing to party leadership, working as a political machine for the highest corporate paymasters. We can’t accept this meltdown of our democratic experiment, and David Swanson is one of our best, constant, and intelligent town criers letting us know that we need to step up and turn this situation around. As an activist, I depend on Swanson for information and analysis. Daybreak is a hard-hitting history of greed, corruption, stupidity and malfeasance, but it offers hope, and that’s why I’m recommending it highly. Like others I admire and follow, David is a hope junkie. If he weren’t, he’d have given up fighting the corruption long ago. So buy Daybreak. Take action now by telling Holder to prosecute Cheney: simply phone and Email the Office of the Attorney General at 202-514-2001 Then notice how good it feels to take action.  

Cynthia Papermaster 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

This would be a great time for a presentation on, “What is socialism, anyway?” 

I haven’t heard many words tossed around with so little content behind them, at least no coherent and commonly accepted meaning. 

We probably have many experts in our well-informed and educated area.  

Ruth Bird 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

There are enough distractions in today’s world without having to be bombarded with mindless, relentless pop music at virtually every eating establishment in the Bay Area. From restaurants offering $45 entrees to the local Pizza Parlors, it’s a non-stop stream of “yeah, yeah, yeah, and blah blah blah.” Frankly, I’d prefer to hear my own yeah-yeah-yeah’s and blah-blah-blahs, as well as those of the person I’m trying to speak with. 

Unfortunately, this is becoming increasingly impossible, as is simply reading the daily newspaper amidst a sonic smorgasbord of techno-tripe that insists on assaulting our senses whether we’re grabbing a quick meal or dining out on a Sunday evening. 

No wonder we can’t get a coherent health care bill. We’re ensconced in an environment of cacophonous incoherence. By the way, we’re going to need more and more medical attention as a result of this violation of our senses. Stress, hypertension, and depression can all be, in part, attributed to the collapse of communication. It’s time to face the music, and turn it down...or better yet, just turn it off! 

Marc Winokur 





Editors, Daily Planet:  

Will the Oakland Housing Authority (OHA) have to raise the rents on all Section 8 tenants in Oakland once they start using Section 8 vouchers to fund public housing? The Oakland Tribune mentions that Oakland will use Section 8 vouchers for funding public housing, but does not mention if HUD has increased the budget for Oakland’s Section 8 voucher program. 

The Oakland Tribune also fails to address how tenants in Oakland’s Section 8 voucher program waiting list will be affected by the proposals to give Section 8 vouchers to public housing tenants. Will those on the waiting list have to wait longer as a result, to receive a Section 8 voucher? 

Once the OHA starts using Section 8 vouchers to fund Oakland’s public housing program while there is still a major funding shortfall occurring in the Section 8 voucher program in 15 percent of the nation’s Public Housing Authorities, will the Oakland Housing Authority have to raise the rents on all other Section 8 tenants, because of the proposals to divert Section 8 funding to public housing? 

The Tribune article raises more questions than it answers. 

Lynda Carson 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

What happened to the “change we can believe in” candidate? Afghanistan, Single payer off the table,bank bailouts without Wall St. reform, continuation of the “war on drugs.” I’ll be looking for a real change candidate in 2012. 

Charles Robins