Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

Thursday March 18, 2010 - 10:52:00 PM

I was amused years ago when Spiro Agnew used the phrase "nattering nabobs of negativism" against the media. Now it seems a better description for the Republicans in congress. 


Robert C Chioino  

A registered Republican 



The article “Landmark Preservation Commission Reviews Mobilized Women of Berkeley Designation included two mis-statements: 

1) "(Trachtenberg) noted there are 19 identified grid form buildings in Berkeley and said “It seems to me arbitrary and unfair for the Commission to cherry pick this one building because it’s at risk of being developed.” He suggested that the building could be demolished and commemorated by “development of a window box museum” in a new structure on the site.  

While I did express the opinion that landmarking the entire building is a less meaningful way to tell the story of the Mobilized Women of Berkeley (MWB) than building a "window box museum, no one associated with this property has ever suggested that 1007 University be demolished.  

2). "Trachtenberg concluded, “My client has asked me to tell you that he will appeal this again to the City Council” if the landmark designation is not overturned." 

This is not what I said to the commission. We have no expectation that the City Council will overturn the landmark application. What I did say was that if the landmark application includes language regarding the presence of Gridform Concrete technology as a basis for landmarking that we will appeal that aspect of the landmarks application. 

We would respectfully request that these corrections be included in the next edition of the newspaper. 


David Trachtenberg, AIA, LEED AP 

/\Editor’s Note: A clarification has been added to the article as it appears online in the previous issue. 



There are many things I don't understand, but this one takes the cake. I don't understand how so many people whose lives would be drastically changed for the better with its passage continue to adamantly oppose the health care reform now being proposed. Instead of simply looking at how the plan can benefit both themselves and a huge number of other citizens, these people instead listen to rants and raves of politicians and business people whose sole goal is to make sure that the U.S. health care system continues to be a "money maker" for the individuals involved in the "business" of health care. That any profit at all comes from health care is already unconscionable, but the vast profit and profit potential that is being protected by these individuals is truly sickening. 

To the individuals who are basing their views on health care reform solely on media sound bites and "party loyalty" I say do yourself and the millions upon millions of Americans suffering from the overwhelming burden of paying for health care and.... "WAKE UP!" Base your view on a reality and not on the exhortations of the ultra rich trying to protect their mega wealth at your expense. 


Craig Knudsen 



Finally almost caught up again with back issues of the print version (and truly sad to see the end of them, because I don't have the eyes left for much computer reading after a long day on computers), I am puzzled by the amount of City time and effort being spent on getting landlords of soft-story buildings to post warning signs. My building has one, a tatty piece of paper that seems to invite comments such as, "And what are WE supposed to do about that?" My sentiments, exactly! A posted notification of the danger does absolutely NOTHING for me.  

Back in the Octpber 29-November 4, 2009 edition, Matt Cantor's column included discussion on what he referred to as "moment frames." I clipped and kept the article because I am deeply concerned about the state of the apartment building in which I live, and was thinking about sending it to my landlord. However, Cantor's comments included that fixing the problem is expensive, so I didn't bother.  

So where does this leave the thousands of Berkeley residents who live in soft-story buildings? Clearly, at considerable risk. Is the City Council going to move the conversation off useless postings and on to what should be done - as soon as possible -- to work at solving the problem?  


Nicola Bourne 



Re: Berkeley Investigates Ways to Boost Recycling Revenue 

Call me Mr. Obvious, but how does Berkeley expect to make any money recycling when the valuable aluminum cans and bottles are long gone by the time the professional and courteous crews from the City recycling trucks arrive to pick them up? I'm not talking individuals with shopping carts, but often a small crew of poachers hauling large bags up and down the street. They then dump the cans and bottles into their own trucks or vans and drive on to the next bounty. For years my neighbors and I have diligently separated our recycling and placed paper, cans and bottles into our blue bins and set them out the night before for the recycling truck. Throughout the night we're startled awake by the sounds of the rustling of bins, breaking of bottles and hauling away of aluminum cans. We changed to setting out our bins on the morning of the recycling day, but still the poachers loudly and openly haul off the cans and bottles - the only things of value. By the time the City recycling trucks arrive the only things left are paper goods - which are next to worthless. Figure out a better way Berkeley! 


Josh Maddox 



Last Friday afternoon, while lingering over a Cafe Au Lait at Peet's Coffee, I observed a lot of activity on the traffic island at the busy intersection of Dwight Way and Telegraph. There a dozen or more Cal students were energetically working on that small unattractive triangle which seemed to attract only the homeless . 

Opening up bag after bag of planting soil and fertilizer, these students raked and hoed the hard earth with great enthusiasm. In less than two hours they had planted dozens of plants and yellow flowers, transforming that formerly ugly corner of Telegraph and Dwight Way into a lovely oasis. 

Thank you, Cal students, for adding beauty to a street long in need of beautification. 


Dorothy Snodgrass 



Why buy and carry a gun? One of the ways we Americans are different from the rest of the world is that each of us has the legal right to own and carry a gun.  

Legal or not, I cannot for the life of me understand why a person would buy a hand gun and even less, having bought one, wear it in public where everyone can see it. A gun is not like a watch, a belt, a tie. It is a lethal weapon and seeing it worn like a clothing accessory is intimidating. You can’t tell if its loaded, much less whether the nut wearing it is about to use it. 

Local newspapers have printed stories recently about a loosely organized group called “Open Carry”; a half dozen men enter a coffee shop wearing handguns visible to everyone. Members of “Open Carry” seem to want everyone to know their love of the Constitution and by extension their patriotism.  

The Second Amendment states the reason Americans were allowed to own guns: “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary for the security of a free State,…” Two centuries and three decades later this reason has been severed from the basic right, the severance recently reaffirmed by the Supreme Court - a person can carry a gun for any reason or no reason.  

If the reason for wearing a gun is political advocacy, like a lapel pin or a bumper sticker, then doing so is harmless, protected as free speech, in which case the gun is merely an ornament. But if the reason a person wears a real gun openly is that it makes him feel safe, then in my opinion such a person is misguided, confused or stupid and should not be allowed to buy a gun. 


Marvin Chachere 



I think we must pass Health Care Reform. How else can we make life better for all Americans--especially African Americans who have been shut out of the American Dream. First, through slavery, which for over two hundred years, supported the country through free labor. Second, after the Civil War, blacks were shut out by segregation and the ruthlessness of the Klu Klux Klan. Third, the apartheid schools in the south kept blacks in a state of perpetual 

Though health care reform, we can assure that this group is helped. They need it for all the sacrifices they have given to the country. 


Cecil Brown  



I have expressed my concerns before about the appearance of "Partisan Position" essays in your news section. I think this category of writing unavoidably raises questions about the reliability of the information it presents, as well it should. But it also blurs the distinction between writing that at least strives for factual accuracy and balance and writing that is primarily intended to persuade. 

The latest confusion regarding Fred Dodsworth's essay entitled "Berkeley Council Aide Skips Permits for His Building Project" (Wednesday, March 10, 2010) is completely understandable. Its tone and language are very informal, and the sarcasm it contains is entirely inappropriate for a news article. 

This is very unfortunate, because in this case it is clear that Mr. Dodsworth is exploring a serious issue, and it should have been treated as such. 

If Mr. Dodsworth wanted to present his piece as a news story, he should have followed the conventions of this type of writing. Starting a piece with "Dear reader" and including so many statements laden with sarcasm and exaggeration sends an entirely different message. 

I think the real problem here is that the Daily Planet cannot afford to pay reporters any longer, yet it is still trying to be a newspaper. 


Satya Preeti 



An energized and vocal conservative religious movement has in recent years demonstrated a desire to reshape our nation's K-12 curricula to reflect its agenda and belief system. In states across the nation, Tx., Neb., GA., elements of this movement have exerted political pressure on education officials who develop academic content standards. 

Not surprisingly, these groups of evangelicals and fundamentalists are working to have their alternative explanations included in state science and social studies curricula. How would you like your child to believe anti-evolution fiction like Sarah Palin? She believes the planet is only 8000 years old parroting antiquated biblical nonsense. 

Luckily, these efforts have been beaten back by coalitions of scientists, educators, parents, theologians and business leaders committed to ensuring that students receive an education that will allow them to compete in the global economy of the 21st century. 


Ron Lowe