Hate Speech, Harassment, Humor and Just Plain Lies

By Becky O'Malley
Thursday September 24, 2009 - 09:28:00 AM

When I was growing up in St. Louis I heard an epithet for people who behaved like Congressman Wilson of South Carolina, one too derogatory to repeat in the pages of a family newspaper in the 21st century, but its initials are PWT. It was used, sub rosa, by people of all races who put a premium on polite behavior and did not respect those who were not able to comport themselves in a civil manner. -more-

Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

Thursday September 24, 2009 - 09:52:00 AM


Commentary: BRT Alert: Look (to Cleveland) Before You Leap

By Gale Garcia
Thursday September 24, 2009 - 09:29:00 AM

Several months ago, I heard that the only Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project in the United States that took two lanes from a four-lane road for dedicated bus lanes was in Cleveland, Ohio. This is exactly what AC Transit is planning for Berkeley, Oakland and San Leandro, so I began to investigate Cleveland’s BRT through newspaper articles, blogs, newsletters and any other source I could find. -more-

Commentary: The Berkeley Solidarity Alliance

By Lyn Hejinian
Thursday September 24, 2009 - 09:30:00 AM

By now we know that the current economic crisis in the state of California is without precedent. The very fabric of everyday life in California, from our parks to our cities, our schools to our air and water, even the promise of the California dream itself, is imperiled by this perfect storm of capitalist crisis and political paralysis. For public education, the damage caused by greed and political fecklessness has reaped an unaccountable toll: classroom sizes swell while teachers make poverty wages and college tuition costs ever more. Gov. Schwarzenegger, like the current University of California president Mark Yudof, the corporate leaders appointed to the Board of Regents, and much of the rest of the California political establishment, want to tell us that the economy is collapsing, everybody is hurting, and so we must slash public services to the poor, close battered women’s shelters, furlough underpaid workers, and bust the greedy unions of janitors, teachers, secretaries and nurses. All while refusing to tax oil extraction, Hollywood mansions, yachts, and profit-rich corporations, and billionaires. There is no alternative, we are told. -more-

Commentary: A Response to Capitelli on the Downtown Plan

By Tree Fitzpatrick
Thursday September 24, 2009 - 09:31:00 AM

Councilmember Capitelli seems to have a fundamental misunderstanding about the role the City Council plays in this city. It is his job to do what is best for the citizens, not what is best for real estate developers. He has an obligation to discern what the citizens want and then to do whatever he can to make that happen. He is not supposed to infantilize the citizenry and make decisions that the majority of citizens do not approve of. He is not supposed to think he knows better than the people know what is good for them. In his commentary, it makes it sound like all the folks who signed that petition are mindless children who don’t know what’s good for themselves. -more-

Commentary: On Architecture and Building Heights in Berkeley

By Gerry Tierney
Thursday September 24, 2009 - 09:31:00 AM

Two recent articles in the Daily Planet, Steve Finacom’s regarding Parker Place in your Sept. 3 edition and Fred Dodsworth’s commentary regarding the Downtown Plan in your Sept. 17 edition, provide an interesting insight into how certain segments of the Berkeley population regard development and the built environment. As both a resident of Berkeley and a practicing architect—who has been very fortunate to work not only in Berkeley but also throughout North America and around the globe—I would like to make the following observations: In Finacom’s Parker Place article he acknowledges “… that there are substantial elements of the project to praise” and enumerates several programmatic benefits, going on to suggest the transformation of the Shattuck Avenue median into a linear park —a great idea that should be pursued further. However the rest of the article makes for depressing reading. Whereas comments regarding “the atrocious skin” are subjective and therefore open to debate, what I found troublesome and symptomatic of so much that is pushing Berkeley further into the margins of cultural irrelevancy was the quote—and following comment—from a letter by Design Review Committee member Bob Allen. In his opinion, Mr. Allen feels that the street facing character of the project resembled a “morose new neighborhood in Emeryville.” This, along with the comment by Mr. Finacom that he had “hit the nail on the head” as most people “hated the way the structure is wrapped in an Emeryville/San Francisco SOMA aesthetic” is in my mind a depressing realization that indeed Berkeley is now a culturally irrelevant dormitory suburb where, to quote John Kaliski, AIA, in his review of Thom Mayne’s UCLA “L.A. Now” studio, there exists a “normative city planning and urban design…that looks to a singularly defined and supposedly golden past … and (an) architecture or urbanism that turns its back on the present.” Now, I understand that what people like John Kaliski or Thom Mayne think is of no consequence to the majority of people in Berkeley, I think it does matter if Berkeley considers itself as something other than a typical culturally isolated suburb—it certainly has pretensions of something other than an El Cerrito or Walnut Creek. -more-

Commentary: KPFA’s Unpaid Staff and the Elections

By Marcia Rautenstrauch
Thursday September 24, 2009 - 09:32:00 AM

As a longstanding member of the KPFA unpaid staff, I am quite a bit puzzled and more than a bit annoyed by how the unpaid staff are being used as an issue in the current KPFA Local Station Board elections. In fact, I’m down right aggravated to see how one slate, the Independents for Community Radio, is speaking in the name of us unpaid staff at the station. Well, let me tell you, they don’t speak for me. -more-

Commentary: BUSD: Union Busting 101

By Tim Donnelly  
Thursday September 24, 2009 - 09:33:00 AM

We are the Berkeley Council of Classified Employees, representing 450 employees of the Berkeley Unified School District, the Office/Technical and Instructional Assistant/Paraprofessional Units. This essay is, by necessity, a little thick with initials. But our plight is simple enough to understand. We are being battered by an anti-worker administration. Our three main grievances are these; long-term employees kept in substitute status illegally, the illegal denial of information we need to enforce our contract, and a recent reorganization of Special Education that increases our workload threefold. -more-

Commentary: Not In My Backyard

By Joanne Kowalski
Thursday September 24, 2009 - 09:36:00 AM

Last month when I stopped to sign the petition for a referendum on the Downtown Berkeley plan, I was accosted by a woman from the build-Berkeley-bigger faction who attempted to get me not to sign. Her argument seemed to be that infill, in the form of tall buildings downtown, was the only way to combat the non-sustainable urban sprawl that was eating up more and more of our farmland and contributed so greatly to our planet’s ills. To oppose this plan, she implied, was NIMBYism on the part of those who had theirs and who were unwilling to work on saving the environment for those to come. -more-