Public Comment


Wednesday March 03, 2010 - 06:59:00 PM


Alan Tobey's Feb. 11 letter understates the advantages of the community-supported Rapid Bus Plus (RB+) plan over AC Transit's clumsier BRT proposal. 

RB+ would match BRT's transit and environmental benefits, but without BRT's drawbacks and at much lower cost. So local funding needs (already earmarked from bridge tolls) would be lower. 

Second, RB+ would -- like BRT -- qualify for Small Starts and other federal grants. But because RB+ is more cost-effective, those federal funds would go further. 

Literally further. Unlike the redundant BRT, RB+ could extend rapid transit to corridors ignored by BART -- down University Ave. to the Marina, and up the MacArthur Blvd./I-580 corridor. Those options could convince many commuters to leave their cars at home. 

Finally, Alan writes that Oakland is "increasingly interested" in a "complete streets" BRT package, which would needlessly dig up utilities as well as traffic lanes. That Big Dig approach is just what we must desperately avoid -- years of construction hell, delays in transit and traffic, huge cost overruns, and massive Telegraph Ave. business failures. 

In Toronto, this approach yielded a disaster (look up "St. Clair West fiasco"). For five long years of construction -- two years beyond schedule -- it actually degraded a streetcar route into a bus route. It went $10 million over a budget that was a quarter of what AC Transit proposes to waste. The construction ruined 50 of 200 merchants in just one affected business association. 

RB+ will avoid all this whole nightmare. Although change is always frightening, once Alan understands Rapid Bus Plus' advantages, I'm confident he will join us in advocating for it. 

Michael Katz 

Member, Rapid Bus Plus Coalition  




I opposed the proposed café in the Rhinceros building (the monstrosity at 1885 University Avenue), directly across the street from my house, because the operator wished to open at 6 AM rather than at 7 AM which is the legal time in the rest of Berkeley; because there will be no parking for the café but there will be demand for it, when there will already not be enough parking for its intended primary tenant; and because the size of the place (to be the Largest Eating Establishment in Berkeley! Some Café!) will tear out all of the landscaping that the dozens of opponents of this building had won as a concession from the developers. ZAB said: all your hard work? We don't care, poof. Gone. 

Every person who was not in line to profit from this building who had anything to say at all about this café condemned it based on its size, not its existence. 

The fact is this building was illegally constructed and its intended major tenant is a Big Box Retailer, being the number Three foodseller in the world behind Wal*Mart and Tessco, who will threaten to drive all local food business out of the market, including our beloved Fred's Market. A Berkeley without Fred's Market would far less liveable, but we didn't see Mr. Siegel trying to protect our neighborhood at those city council meetings. We didn't want an Elephant Café any more than we wanted the Rhinceros Building, but we got one anyway because the Zoning Board is improperly constituted and not enough City Councilors pay adequate attention to the issues that confront the citizens. 

Mr. Siegel needn't worry, He'll get his café (that will disturb us who live next to it at 6 AM, but not Mr. Siegel who lives two blocks away); the Mayor solicited the Developer to Ignore the Law (a law on the books that requires parking, Mr. Siegel, a requirement that the developer-generous ZAB still did not waive) which I believe is a Felony, but nobody worries about law or process anymore ... why bother, I suppose, when you know the fix is in. 

Bates follows the quote from Bush that runs "It sure would be easier if this were a dictatorship ... just so long as I'm the dictator." He said he'll park where he feels like, and I believe him. 


Eric Dynamic 





It’s pathetic that the City Council is considering taxing medical marijuana clinics; why not tax prescriptions, too, while they’re at it? If they want to close the budget gap all they need to do is encourage police patrols to fine people for driving in the rain with their lights off or talking on cell phones while driving. We’d have a budget surplus if those scofflaws were brought to justice. There are also some intersections that could be revenue enhancing, for example, where it says “No Turn On Red” and elsewhere. I’m sure our citizenry would happily identify intersections where drivers frequently flaunt the law. Meets the criteria of the Tea Baggers, too: no new taxes! 


Bob Blomberg  


Editor: Why is everyone afraid to call a spade a spade? The Republica Party's tactics to stifle health care reform border on tyranny. The GOP has opposed Medicare, Social Security from the beginning, and now oppose fixing a limping health care system. 

A few Republican politicians cannot be allowed to block the passage of health care legislation that will benefit 96% of Americans in one form or another; public health insurance that competes with and keeps private "for profit" insurance companies in line. 

President Obama and Democrats need to put the peddle to the metal and lead and pass the health care reform bill. Let the electorate in November respond 'yea or na' if health care for all Americanns was the correct decision. 


Ron Lowe  




Raymond Barglow asks, "Alzheimer's Disease--How Long Before We Find A Cure?" 

(February 25, 2010) 

My research into my family's genetic Alzheimer's (AD) began in 2002, at age 75, when I was diagnosed with genetic Celiac-disease, or gluten-intolerance. Little did I know that this gene-test ( would disclose genetic links to many family tragedies, and cause a revolution in my life.  

(July 17,'09, Five Generations Harmed By Gluten). 

The link to our genetic-Alzheimer's was most shocking to me, presenting the first possibility of an insight into cause and prevention of our nine known AD deaths; the last four in my own generation. 

There have been a number of researchers suggesting evidence for a developmental or environmental link to AD. ("Gluten Causes Brain Disease" by Prof. Rodney Ford 

I had been very hopeful in Dec. '05, when the New Yorker Magazine described "The Gene Hunters" in an article about Dr. Richard Mayeux, whose Taub Institute for Research on AD "has been compiling the world's most comprehensive genetic library of families with Alzheimer's", searching for families with genetic AD who have additional genetic diseases which may link to AD. Dr. Mayeux has never responded to my letters. 

In Oct. 2006, "Mayo Clinic Discovers a Potential Link Between Celiac Disease and Cognitive Decline" ( ) Mayo clinic's neurologist Keith A. Josephs, M.D. reports, "It is almost unheard of to see [this] reversal in dementia or cognitive decline." 

The AD Assoc. has not responded to my letters as well, since '03, and I have spoken to several of their reps. who had no knowledge of the above publications. However, their 2008 "Alzheimer's Facts and Figures", notes that causes are still unknown, but in spite of acknowledging that "Many scientists consider the emerging field of prevention one of the most exciting recent developments in the dementia-research area.", there have been almost no listings in their requests for "Research opportunities" that were not drug-related.  

Raymond Barglow presents the obvious next step; studies of human subjects, particularly those most likely to get AD. Do we need 10 more years of research and many billions more dollars? "Volunteers" for presymptomatic testing may not be necessary, if existing AD patients are routinely tested by their doctors for possible links to toxins, infections, and environmental or other degenerative disorders. Familiy members, obviously concerned about their possiblity to develop dementia, would probably be eager to aid in discovery of cause and prevention. 

A "national registry", using current computer-communication, would be a vital reference for genetic-dementia links and statistics! 

As for Barglow's question about a "cure", our vast history of past failures proves that testing for prevention is far more rational. However, will the pharmaceutical corporations, continue to stand in our way? 

Gerta Farber  




Perhaps if the Mayor would lead by example he would have more credibility. I suggest he move downtown now, freeing up his home in the LeConte neighborhood for a family who would appreciate being close to schools. An older couple with no children should populate these new buildings the Mayor proposes to build. He and his wife could participate in this "new vibrant downtown." Then he could see how living on a major corridor isn't so much fun afterall with traffic down below and soot and toxins seeping in the windows. Mayor Bates doesn't have to wait for these new buildings to be built there are plenty of vacancies in all the buildings that developers have been approved to build already. 

Constance Wiggins