Public Comment


Wednesday March 10, 2010 - 10:28:00 PM

The Feb 11 edition of BDP included yet again another extremely lengthy commentary by small school zealot Rick Ayers. Typical of Ayer's diatribe was a reference to the “factory model” in an attempt to make a distinction between small schools and the traditional comprehensive structure. I have never found Ayers reference meaningful. In fact I find the local discussion about educational equity to be superficial, racially divisive, and missing a clear focus on true educational equity which requires administrative oversight ensuring all students access to quality content and instruction. So I was pleased to read the March 5th editorial from Ayers' home town paper, the Chicago Tribune, “Keep the best teachers”, with this ironic and inspired use of the “factory model” reference. 

"The factory model approach of last-hired, first-fired is unusual among white-collar professions," says the National Council on Teacher Quality. That's true. Think about your workplace. Are you protected simply because you've been around for a long time? Or do you have to prove yourself every day?” 

Laura Menard 


Thank you, Becky, for your offer to stay in touch on line with several generous methods, and thank you for the gift of years of nourishing my soul with reality!  

I am especially sad about many senior friends who do not have computers. We are all very unhappy about losing this essential printed connection to the East Bay community, and certainly, as an occasional writer, I am feeling the probable loss of readers. 

I don't doubt that you considered many options during this crisis, including subscriptions; too little-too late, I realize, but I believe most of your former readers would now choose to pay for the Planet rather than lose it. 

Gerta Farber 


Government take-over ? Socialist ? Please. Medicare is a government run health care plan. I have it. I get excellent medical care in top notch settings. A small sum is automatically deducted from my pension and social security. Passing the Public Option is a logical and passable alternative to Medicare. Fight for the Public Option 

Ms. Elisabeth Kassan  


About the time that the actions of suicide bomber Joe Stacks were being discussed in the hushed tones of personal tragedy, his brother-in-arms was wheeling across the United States with a plan to plug bullets into anyone in DC who happened to work for the government. He succeeded, and last week, we saw John Patrick Bedell’s rampage spun the same way, shrouded in talk of mental illness, marijuana use, focusing on anything but true task at hand, which would be to compare both murders’ blogs and actually read what they say.  

What they say sounds like Rush Limbaugh. What they say reads like Republican talking points: Private property = Good. Government = Bad. But it’s easy to miss this common thread, if you ignore that huge chunk of radio spectrum fueling the hatreds of listeners already armed and rarin’ to go. Try it sometime: Find a Rush Limbaugh listener, offer him a brew, prompt him, and he’ll gladly tell you outright: “The government has it coming. They deserve what they get.”  

You’d think that by the 21st century, Americans would recognize that such talk is not kid stuff, that such talk is not a handful of white men blowing off steam, but the opening salvos of an armed assault. And although our terrorists are clean-shaven and hide behind the Bible, rather than the Q’uran, the tactic is the same: Kill innocent people and call it heroic.  

Stan Fields 


An uncompromised Public Option is a must if you want to see my vote for the Democratic Party again. We have to restrain the runaway Health Care and Pharmaceutical industry from only protecting their own bottom line and the exorbitant salaries and bonuses of their executives and stock holders, than to work on a fair health care system for all citizens of our nation. 


Mr. Johannes Webb 


I am gagging at the news coverage lately. Billionaire foundations (Gates+Walton) trying to buy off our public school system so they can open charter schools in their interest, people with backgrounds as war criminals leading and being welcomed to the traditional SF Chinese New Year Parade (Schultz+Rice), the wealthy grazing at opulent SF Bulgari jewelry store openings ignoring the suffering of diamond mine workers, public service offices of mayor, attorney general and governor going like auction items to the highest venture capitalist bidder, and questioning the people's judgment on issues of the day as to whether a massive protest is worthwhile. 

Our citizens don't need judged by the media as we are smart and compassionate. We know that in order to build a better society with services for all, it will be through the raising and intelligent use of tax dollars. I trust that our people will refuse to become cramped in fear of the truth. 

The real spirit of our Bay Area and San Francisco's people was seen in the streets on Thursday, March 4, 2010 in a remarkable march and rally by a seemingly powerless people; our youth, their parents and teachers. 

They are ultimately protesting for their future which must include free school tuition at all levels. These marches radicalized a whole generation to realize that the power of our state is in the hands of the people. 

In the words of the late H. Zinn," In an era when the power of government, and of multinational corporations, is overwhelming, it is instructive to get even a hint of how fragile that power is when confronted by organized determined citizens." 

Need a rallying cry? How about; "Shut Down Sacramento!" "Reverse the Compass!" "Power's With the People! 

Jackie Hermes-Fletcher 

Teacher, Albany 


It's vital for newspapers to do more than just repeat what's being said, but to show real news judgment. There's an old joke that if one group tries to claim that the Earth is flat, a newspaper would report, "Earth's Shape: Views Differ." 

Unfortunately, that joke is far too true when it comes to the subject of climate change. The science is overwhelming and clear: our planet is warming, and we are responsible. And yet newspapers across the country have been repeating the same, tired attacks against it. 

Well, scientists are starting to pay the price, dealing with harrassment and threats, just for doing their job. This is wrong, and it needs to stop. 

I urge your paper to report on the facts, use sound news judgment, and stop repeating the baseless attacks on scientists who are simply doing their best to help us understand the world. 

Thank you. 

Alvin Hadad 


Disillusionment is an awful feeling. I no longer believe our individual or collective voices carry any weight at all. Still, here I am, trying again. BRING THE PUBLIC OPTION UP FOR DEBATE again, REAL debate. Anything else is stupid and cruel and corrupt. Have the courage to do the right thing BECAUSE it IS the right thing for a change. 

Ms. lenore friedman 


We don’t need any more dirty air in California, but thanks to big oil and Senator Lisa Murkowski we could get just that. The proposal of the Dirty Air Act, which may be voted on this week, is a step in the wrong direction. 

Senator Murkowski’s Dirty Air Act would effectively veto EPA’s scientific finding that global warming pollutants threaten human health and the environment. This not only puts a halt to the Clean Air Act, but revokes the ability of the EPA to take action to limit the pollution from any source – cars, power plants, factories, etc. 

Research done by the EPA blatantly shows that since President George Bush, Sr. signed the Clean Air Act into law in 1990, emission levels of six common air pollutants have dropped by 41 percent while GDP has grown 64 percent. Last May, President Obama announced landmark standards – supported by the major auto companies, auto workers, states, and environmentalists – to improve the nation’s gas mileage standards and require big cuts in tailpipe emissions of global warming pollution. The rules will save 1.8 billion barrels of oil over the lifetime of vehicles sold from 2012 to 2016 – or twice the oil we import from the Persian Gulf in a year. EPA and the Department of Transportation are planning to finalize the rules by April 1, but the Dirty Air Act would block the rules. 

When it comes to the future of our state, our country and our planet, there is not another minute to waste in creating and promoting solutions. As the opposition presses on, it is time for those who believe in clean air solutions and the hope of a new era in job creation, to fight together to stop those who stand in the way of creating a better future.  

Morgan Velarde 


We pay 3K in property taxes for next to no services or downright inferior ones. Friends in New Jersey pay 8K a year and get even less. Rational selfishness is a virtue as our greatest philosopher Ayn Rand demonstrated atlength many years ago. We need to repeal compulsory attendance laws and the extortion known as taxation as a means to finance these government run brainwashing factories. Most of the "students" in college shouldn't be there, the BA is just another subsidy to employers. By the way, the fact that the WEEKLY Planet is now online only ought to tell you which way the wind's blowing. 

Truth in advertising might start with your correct name. 

Or maybe just change it to Becky's Beacon. Might give you a leg up in competing with the Gammon Gazette. 

Michael P. Hardesty 


I am so sick of watching our political system flushed down the toilet. We should have voted a long time ago for the single payer system run by the government for all Americans from birth to death by right. That's what the people want and the rich fat cats in Congress are supposed to be getting the people what they want. Our president is young, sweet and not strong enough or experienced enough to know how to get the people what they want. And the Republicans and right wing Democrats have dug in their heels and are daring the more liberal Democrats to pass the necessary legislation. DO IT! WE, THE PEOPLE NEED A NEW functioning HEALTH CARE SYSTEN THAT WORKS NOW! And without ALL insurance companies making a fortune on controlling health care for the people. OUT!!! 

Ms. Marcia Berman 


Why can't Congress see that the public option will help the economy (main Street that is). If employers--esp. small business ones-- don't have to fork over most of the profits to the CEO's of the insurance-drug industry they might be able to hire more employees and do more business. Corporations are not people! Put the people first. 

Ms. Mary Sue Meads 


The Democratic Party should write a book on how to feed its largest corporate sponsors--the insurance industry and the oil and coal industries--at the expense of those foolish enough to vote for Democratic Party candidates. Isn't it time for progressives to start another party? 

Mr. Al Weinrub 


After 15 years of heated debate, on March 3 the State Fish & Game Commission voted 5:0 to direct the Dept. of Fish & Game to stop the importation of live turtles and frogs for human consumption. A good first step, but much more is needed. 

California annually imports some two million American bullfrogs and 300,000 freshwater turtles for the live markets. The frogs are commercially raised in Taiwan, the turtles taken from the wild in other states, depleting local populations there. 

None of these animals are native to California. All are diseased and parasitized, though it's illegal to sell such products. When released into local waters (also illegal), the exotics prey upon and displace our native wildlife, including endangered species. Worse, the bullfrogs carry the dreaded chytrid fungus, a cause of the extinctions of dozens of amphibian species worldwide. 

The Department should now revoke all current import permits and impose an immediate ban on the sale of these animals. The non-natives pose a major threat to the environment and the public health. The cruelty in the markets is horrendous, and many of the animals are butchered and dismembered while fully conscious. Not acceptable! 

Please write: John Carlson, Exec. Director, State Fish & Game Commission, 1416 Ninth Street, Sacramento, CA 95814; email - The animals, the environment and the public deserve better. 

Eric Mills, coordinator 



How do you run a story that announces the Berkeley campus is shut down, while another story admits "students went about their daily activities¬attending classes, going to the gym and strolling about with friends, unmindful of the action going on at the entrance of Sproul Plaza on Telegraph Avenue and Bancroft Way."?  

Does going online mean you can start contradicting yourselves? Stop calling yourselves a NEWSpaper if you just want to print hate stories about Cal.  

Sherman Boyson 


Health Care in the US should be a national priority. More people are dying for lack of care than are dying from IADs in Afganistan. How does the "health care industry" put "the people" before its own profits or its own existance? IT DOESN'T. Single Payer for all will ultimately cost us (each and the country) less and provide better care. 

Mr. JP Cohen  


There will be no chance of a single payer health care system as long as we run these trillion dollar wars. These wars make us more unsafe. We can't make friends of people by running drones over head and dropping bombs on civilians. As they say in the streets," money for healthcare and education, not for war and occupation." 

Ms. melissa hafez 


In considering new taxes, look the current tax. In SF the property tax rate with ‘other taxes’ is 1.24 and nearly 1.78 in Berkeley. We voted in the past to support Berkeley Public Schools and libraries. I’d be surprised if Berkeley voters again will increase this amount. For the joy of Berkeley, maybe we’ll double our tax. 

J.P. Scott