Giving Thanks for Thanksgiving

By Becky O'Malley
Wednesday November 25, 2009 - 08:51:00 AM

Somehow someone’s gotten the idea lately that Thanksgiving is all about food. Well, no, not exactly. It’s the successor to a whole variety of traditional festivals going back at least to the Jewish Sukkot (sometimes transliterated as Succoth). -more-

What Shall We Tell the Children?

By Becky O'Malley
Thursday November 19, 2009 - 09:43:00 AM

The most famous words spoken about the Great Depression, by Franklin Roosevelt in his first inaugural address, were these: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” They have become a mantra invoked in many situations where there’s a lot more than fear to fear, where real dangers are confronting people who must nonetheless act unafraid. -more-

Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

Wednesday November 25, 2009 - 08:52:00 AM


ASUC Should Help Owner-Operated Businesses

By Matt Marks
Wednesday November 25, 2009 - 08:52:00 AM

For over 20 years three owner-operated businesses have served students in the Bear’s Lair Food Court, in the Student Union on UC Berkeley’s campus. Haitham Alloun is a Palestinian immigrant who came to UC Berkeley in 1977 as an international student, only to discontinue his studies due to the fact that he had to work long hours to support himself and his family. He owns The Coffee Spot. Ann Vu came to this country from Vietnam, and has succeeded in building her business up over two decades to become a model for many students on campus from Southeast Asia, and especially women of color. Ann owns the Vietnamese restaurant, Foods.Healthy Heavenly Foods. Arnoldo Marquez has operated El Taqueria Tacontento for five years after purchasing the business from his uncle who owned the business for 15 years before. Throughout this time students have been provided with quality food at low cost in a quick and friendly manner. -more-

ASUC’s Unfair Process

By Arnoldo Marquez
Wednesday November 25, 2009 - 08:53:00 AM

My name is Arnoldo Marquez and I am the owner of a business in the Bear’s Lair named El Taqueria Tacontento for the last five years. It’s a business preceded along with my family for a total of 20 years. I along with Ann Vu, owner of Healthy Heavenly Foods, and Haitham Alloun, owner of The Coffee Spot, have provided good food at reasonable prices to the Berkeley community on campus for 20 years. -more-

Proud of Protesting Daughter

By Craig Collins
Wednesday November 25, 2009 - 08:53:00 AM

I can’t tell you how proud I am of my daughter and her fellow students at UC Berkeley. She was one of the 41 students who occupied Wheeler Hall on Nov. 19 to protest the 32 percent fee hikes, teaching furloughs and layoffs being imposed on higher education in California. She studied hard to get the grades necessary to get into Berkeley and she’s working part time to help pay for it. She appreciates her education, but she fears that the state’s public university system is being privatized. Instead of providing an affordable quality education to any student with the grades to qualify, higher education in California is rapidly becoming an expensive commodity that only the rich—and a handful of poor students with financial assistance—can afford. -more-

Is the Berkeley Ferry Terminal a Good Use of Resources?

By Brad Smith
Wednesday November 25, 2009 - 08:54:00 AM

At its Nov. 17 meeting the Berkeley City Council endorsed the construction of a ferry terminal at the Berkeley Marina. I present information here about how costly this ferry service to San Francisco will be relative to other modes of public transportation and ask if a Berkeley ferry terminal is a good allocation of diminishing state and federal resources. -more-

Palin’s Presidency Ploy Promises Pain

By Jack Bragen
Wednesday November 25, 2009 - 08:55:00 AM

The threat of Sarah Palin is as real as was that of George W. Bush, a decade ago. The fact that Palin is so popular, to begin with, among voters who see things differently than I and has the animal magnetism and the classic ability of the corrupt and successful politician to charm and to fool the masses, bodes strongly in favor of her being the one to defeat in 2012. -more-

Back to Downtown Plan Drawing Board

By Thomas Lord
Wednesday November 25, 2009 - 08:55:00 AM

After years of highly contentious and difficult work, we have before us some possible Downtown Plans—not all that much different from one another. We’ve learned a lot and many good ideas have been put forward. Expertise in various areas is far more widespread than when the process started. And yet, who today, in the current economic situation, can believe in any variation of the plans before us? It is, sadly, time to go back to the drawing board. -more-

Forced to Marry?

By Robert Quintana Hopkins
Wednesday November 25, 2009 - 08:56:00 AM

Celebrating my first wedding anniversary on Nov. 10, while mourning the passage of the referendum in Maine, I continue to wonder whether Proposition 8, the ban against same sex marriage in California, created more marriages than it prevented.   -more-

The Last Chance Book Store 

By Paul Matzner
Wednesday November 25, 2009 - 08:57:00 AM

At the corner of Telegraph Avenue and Haste in Berkeley, there is a unique bookstore. On the sidewalk where the entrance to Cody’s Books once stood, a man arranges rows and rows of books of every conceivable description. Next to the books is an old card table with a battered coffee can and a hand-lettered sign that says, “Books 50 Cents.” The sign used to say, “Books 25 Cents,” Like everywhere else, nowadays, inflation has taken its toll. -more-

Letters to the Editor

Thursday November 19, 2009 - 09:43:00 AM


Blue Dog Democrats and Health Care Reform

By Ralph E. Stone
Thursday November 19, 2009 - 09:45:00 AM

Recently, Senate majority leader Harry Reid indicated that health care reform might not be passed this year. Why? Because he may not have the votes in the Senate to pass the legislation and, if such legislation were passed, it might not survive a Republican filibuster. -more-

Smart Balloon Practices Are Better Than Bans

By Dan Flynn 
Thursday November 19, 2009 - 09:44:00 AM

The Berkeley City Council may soon consider a measure that would make balloon releases illegal at any public events that require a permit authorized by the city. This is an unwise action; the City Council’s objectives could be far better addressed through less extreme measures, including consumer education about smart balloon practices.  -more-

Bus Rapid Transit: Feel-Good Environmentalism?

By Matt Kondolf
Thursday November 19, 2009 - 09:45:00 AM

The city of Berkeley has now released its plan for Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) on Telegraph Avenue, arguing that this system will reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The proposed project may make us feel good that we are doing something but in fact is more likely to increase greenhouse gas emissions than reduce them.  -more-

Continuing Problems with Design of New Animal Shelter

By Jill Posener
Thursday November 19, 2009 - 09:46:00 AM

I appreciated the opportunity to vent my frustrations with the process for the new Berkeley Animal Shelter. Responses to your Letters page and e-mails I have received indicate that many people share the sense of being under-informed, misinformed or flat out excluded from a truly open public process.  -more-

Controversy at the Bear’s Lair Food Court

By Nad Permaul
Thursday November 19, 2009 - 09:47:00 AM

The Auxiliary Store Operations Board of the Associated Students of the University of California voted to offer terms to the Bear’s Lair food court vendors that the students on the board negotiated last spring. Those terms were offered to each vendor in June 2009 by the Auxiliary in the presence of two board members, Chief Victoria Harrison and former student Co-Chair David Rhoads. Two of the vendors accepted the terms, one did not. They were asked by the board at the time the terms were offered if they had any concerns. The principal concerns expressed to the board by the two vendors who accepted the terms were the length of the lease, the terms for any extension options and the number of months of partial payment when school is not in session. The board adjusted the lease language to extend the length of the lease and to alter the terms of the option and months or partial payment. In October, after the language was completed by the campus, one of the vendors, The Coffee Spot, signed. We are working with the Coffee Spot on the physical improvements. The owner has expressed nothing but satisfaction with the new lease and our relationship. -more-

New Police Chief’s Stance on Marijuana

By Maris Arnold
Thursday November 19, 2009 - 09:47:00 AM

In the article on the approval by the City Council of former Seattle top cop Michael Meehan as Berkeley’s new police chief (Daily Planet, Nov. 12–18), Mr. Meehan is quoted as saying with reference to Seattle’s voter-approved policy of making marajuana arrests the lowest police priority, “I don’t want to send a message to kids that drug use is ok.” That wasn’t just a personal opinion. That was a professional judgment. Moreover, a majority of Seattle voters thought differently and passed the ordinance but Meehan was against them and it.  -more-

Turning to the White House for Help With a Berkeley Permit Problem

By Hoda A. Cox 
Thursday November 19, 2009 - 09:48:00 AM

Today, at the end of my rope, I wrote President Obama the attached letter. -more-

Politics and Theatre: A Too Comfortable Controversy

By Marc Sapir
Thursday November 19, 2009 - 09:49:00 AM

At the beginning of Caryl Churchill’s one act, Seven Jewish Children: A Play for Gaza, one can not determine the ethnicity or nationality of the voices that are conflicted about what to tell a young girl about the terrible tensions and conflicts in her life, the history of her people and the lives of those around her. Brought by Anne Hallinan and Patricia Silver’s Agora Theater to the Ashby Stage in a polished reading directed by Hal Gelb this play was contrasted with another—What Strong Fences Make, by Israel Horovitz—solicited by Theatre J in Washington, D.C., in response to Churchill. -more-

Homecare Services in Today’s Life

By Nicholas Feldman
Thursday November 19, 2009 - 09:50:00 AM

When the recession hit, my business was put through unbelievable turmoil here in California. Everyone who had ever worked for me started to file for unemployment, and many laborious hours were put into filling out claims to EDD and other authorities. People started to apply for low-income everything, from transportation, to welfare, to housing. -more-