Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

Tuesday April 20, 2010 - 04:58:00 PM


Pools Needed 


Rob Collier's commentary is an excellent rejoinder to the distortions and misinformation about the Berkeley Pools Bond measure written by Marie Bowman. It seems that only people with lots of money, many who can afford thousands of dollars to use the Claremont pool, object to a rise in their taxes by a mere $50 or so to maintain the city's three public pools and a new warm water pool, needed by disabled people as well as older citizens, people with arthritis, even infants who learn to swim there. 

It is possible that without such a warm water pool the city might be sued under the American with Disabilities Act, so we definitely need this pool. Some on Southside are concerned that the cost of maintaining that pool and the other public pools may not be sufficient to maintain the Willard pool; that would indeed be a disservice to our Southside residents who seem to be shafted more than more affluent areas of the city. Let's not have that happen! Vote YES on Measure C. 

Again, thanks to Rob Collier for his excellent analysis and the Planet for printing it. 

Estelle Jelinek 

Anti-Semitism Again  

Most Jews consider Becky O’Malley anti-Semitic not because she is critical of Israel but because she is obsessively and disproportionally critical while ignoring human rights violations in Arab states.  

Egypt is a brutal, corrupt dictatorship with a persecuted Christian minority. A harsh Islamic future seems inevitable. Syria is ruled by a family dictatorship that has killed more Arabs than has Israel in all its wars. Lebanon is between civil wars. Religious strife has been continuous since the Muslim conquest centuries ago. Saddam used poison gas on his own people and was responsible for the deaths of over a million Arabs, Kurds and Iranians. Libya is ruled by a clownish dictator who recently called for a jihad against Switzerland and its abolishment because it once arrested his son for beating his servants at a luxury Swiss hotel. Algeria is recovering from an unfinished civil war between Islamists and the military. Over 150,000 were killed. In Sudan the Saudi and Chinese financed Islamic regime is responsible for an estimated 2 million deaths in the Christian and animist South and about 200,000 Muslims in Darfur. In Morocco the government forced thousands of people living in the Western Sahara into exile when it crushed the local independence movement. Yemen is a feudal society ruled by a corrupt dictatorship and tribal chieftains. In Saudi Arabia Christianity and Judaism are prohibited, conversion and homosexuality punished by death, women barred from driving and riding bicycles on public roads. There is no pretence of democracy and no demand by Ms O’Malley for disinvestment. 

Arabs have more rights in the Occupied Territories than in many Arab countries. The Territories probably are safer than Richmond or West Oakland. Palestinians will get their state. It will be like other Arab states. There will be no Israeli Supreme Court to redress greviances. 


Dan Brown 



Trying to Find Ethiopian Relatives 


My name is David Ellmrich and I live in Czech Republic Europe. Through your newspaper I found that my father is dead. He died in 2002:  

”Man Mistakenly Flown to Mexico Identified “ 

OAKLAND — The body of a man mistakenly flown to Mexico for burial was that of an Ethiopian refugee.  

Hagos Gebre-Amlak, 44, died Sept. 2. Family members in Oakland, who declined to reveal his cause of death, decided to send his body to be buried in his native country where his mother still lives. But the body arrived in Mexico to the dismay of the grieving family of Roberto Castaneda.  

Castaneda’s body, which was supposed to be sent to his hometown in Mexico, ended up temporarily in Europe.  

A preliminary investigation has revealed the error occurred in a cargo warehouse at San Francisco International Airport owned by Delta Airlines but operated in part by Continental.  

The airlines have agreed to refund both families for the cost to fly the bodies.  

This man met my mother in early eighties when he studied in CR. My name was given me from my stepfather, because my father immigrated to USA in 1982 I think. I was born 1981. I am still trying to reach someone from my real family. That could be that mentioned grandmother in Ethiopia or sons or daughters of Hagos Gebreamlak in Oakland California (that’s what’s written in that article-family). And I am looking for any contact I could have with them. Please, couldn t you help me a bit somehow? 

David Ellmrich, DiS.  



Remembering Campbell Coe 

Just finished reading a comment in a 2005 issue that contained corrections to an obituary about Campbell Coe. I found that article after googling Campbell Coe out of curiousity, because I had met him a couple of times in Berkeley back in the latter 50's when I was a graduate student at Cal I often wondered what had become of him. We were not friends, but I remembered enjoying conversing with him at those gatherings. Years later,(1969-70) when I was living in Berlin, Germany, I was both startled and amused upon spotting a bumper sticker on a car in the center of town that read: "Campbell Coe is alive and well." I remember thinking at the time: "Could that possibly be the same Campbell Coe that I knew in Berkeley way back then?" After reading both the obituary and the correcting article,about him in your publication, I'm sure it was indeed the same Campbell Coe.  

Dr. Ray Pimentel 

San Jose  



Measure C Facts and Figures 

From a flyer I got in the mail the numbers don't add up. I did a quick run through of the numbers and found this: 

Measure C wants average 70 dollars from each household over 30 years. 

Berkeley has 45,000 households as of 2000 census. It's probably more since 10 years ago,so you can add even more money to the receipts. 

70x45,000 households x 30 years=~94,500,000 total receipts for the renovations. 

Renovations to all pools=~24,000,000 

94,500,000 total minus 24,000,000=~70,000,000 left over to operate 4 pools over 30 years 

Measure C says it costs 980,000 a year to operate these pools each year. that=29,400,000 to operate these pools for 30 years according to government and Measure C. 

But they get 70,000,000! 

Where does that ~40,000,000(million!) go? BOND PAYMENTS?? 

They are asking for double of what they "need" which is dubious. So each household should only pay~30-40 dollars a year in my opinion. As a tax, not a bond. Why are we paying double to borrow the money when we should just tax it over the 30 years requested? In this day and age, the system should not add un-payable debt burden. Paying Goldman Sachs or whoever to float this bond 40,000,000 bucks for pools is absurd-the age of funny money/credit is over. We are paying way too much for this loan.  

Then they market this thing as if we are depriving the kids of pools, when I would say about 10% of the population actually uses them. 

But that's OK, I'm not a scrooge. I'll pay 30 bucks a year, as I should, in TAXES.  

Justin Lee 

















Arnie Passman 




True Conservatism 

"A blind and ignorant resistance to every effort for the reform of abuses and for the readjustment of society ... represents not true conservatism, but an incitement to the wildest radicalism. " - Theodore Roosevelt, 1908. Fast forward to 2010 and enter the "Party of No', Republicans who promise to vote against any Obama proposals to reform the government and economy. 

Republicans continue to frame the debate even though their ideas are out of whack and far from the mainstream. Democrats need to step up and frame the debate, and stop playing second fiddle to GOP reactionaries, Sarah Palin, the Tea Party, and the new axis of evil, Glen Beck, Sean Hannity, and Rush Limbaugh. 

Middle America will frame the debate in 2010 by saying "NO" to the poisonous and acrimonious rhetoric of the Republican Party. 

Ron Lowe 





The mounting messes of wastes along with the massive mess coming from the Iceland volcano are going to be taxing the world's resources for humans to survive. The USA and the rest of the world have to stop wasting time looking at the stars and get humankind to take care of what their feet are standing on. Obama's calling for man on Mars indicates lunacy or too much star gazing. I urge readers to contact the Whitehouse and their elected federal officials to wake them up to the waste messes that are engulfing us.  

Dr. J. Singmaster, Fremont, CA Ph (510)797-3790 




More Anti-Semitism 

Was Ms Bhattacharjee actually at the ASUC meeting on April 14? Because if she had been, she would know that at approximately 4 a.m. April 15, the ASUC Berkeley voted to uphold the veto of a measure urging divestment from two U.S. companies supplying war materials to Israel. 

It is true that the final outcome is still somewhat undecided since about 90 minutes before the meeting adjourned at 5:37 a.m., proponents of the resolution kept the debate alive by calling for a motion to reconsider the vote on the veto. How disturbing that after such a difficult night, people still dragged the meeting on, filibustered and repeated points that made the meeting go longer, according to people in attendance, forcing the motion to be tabled for a future meeting. 

Ms Bhattacharjee's coverage of the meeting is also disturbing, yet not surprising, when she refers to the bill's supporters as Nobel Prize winners and Cal professors and its opponents as staunch opponents and making mention of an Israeli supporter of the bill who wore a sticker stating, "“Another Israeli for Human Rights”. Whatever that means. 

Except for reporting that the singling out of Israel was also one of the main reasons why Smelko decided to veto the bill, Ms Bhattacharjee's reporting was so clearly biased towards the Berkeley Planet's well known anti Israel position as to make the article clearly opinion as opposed to stating the facts. 

Am I surprised? No. Will the Planet post my letter? I hope so. Last time I wrote, the screener referred to my positions as "hate mail". Such Berkeley bullshit. Agree with the "pc" Planet or other anti Israel elements. Otherwise, you're wrong, racist, a war criminal, hateful, or God knows what. 


Susan Sholin  


Editor’s Note: God indeed knows, and god will judge us both.  



Divestment is “Pro-Human Rights” 

Overall a nice article article about the UC Berkeley divestment decision, but this sentence alarmed me: 

"Pro and anti-Israeli groups have been flooding the senators’ mailboxes ever since the bill was passed...." 

I don't see the appeals for the Student Senate to vote to divest as being "anti-Israeli"! I actually see it as "pro-Israeli" as well as "pro-Palestinian" and "pro-American." In fact, overall, I see it as "pro human rights" and if it's to considered "anti" anything, it would be anti war-profiteering and anti violence against civilians. 

I agree with Israeli coordinator of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions Dr. Jeff Halper that there are two sides to this conflict, but they are NOT Israeli and Palestinian. They are all the Israelis, Palestinians, Americans and other who will accept only a "zero-sum" outcome to this conflict "vs" all the Israelis, Palestinians, Americans and others who believe in a win/win/win outcome. 

The call for divestment FROM ISRAEL's OCCUPATION is pro-law, pro-human rights, pro-justice, pro-peace. I don't see it as anti-Israeli! 

Linda Frank, 

Tacoma, WA 




Classical Request  

I’ve been a faithful reader of The Daily Planet since it started, and although sad about the printed edition’s demise, I’m glad that it continues online. However, I can’t find, in the online edition, any listing for classical music performances. I and my friends used to rely on the Planet’s pages for this information – there’s no other source for the East Bay. The fault may be mine -- -now in my ninth decade, I’m not adept at the computer. However, if you have dropped the classical music listings entirely, please reconsider and start them again.  

John Spier 


Editor’s Note: We found some for today, just for you.  




Eat Plants  

This week marks the 40th anniversary of Earth Day. A day we pledge to conserve Earth's natural resources for future generations. 

We already know about recycling, changing light bulbs, adjusting the thermostat, and reducing our driving habits. This year, we can best observe Earth Day by switching to a plant-based diet. 

A recent study in WorldWatch magazine found that production of meat and dairy products may account for fully half of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions. Moreover, such production contrib-utes more pollutants to our water supplies than all other human activities combined. It is causing global shortages of drinking water. It is the driving force in global deforestation and wildlife habitat destruction. 

This Thursday, let’s celebrate Earth Day and every day by replacing meat and dairy products in our diet with healthful, eco-friendly foods like fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and nuts. Those opting for a more gradual transition will find ample soy and grain-based meat and dairy analogs in your local supermarket. Additional information is available at 


Jeff Garner  


Take Trains  

As a frequent train rider and railfan, I am obviously in full support of the California High Speed Rail system. With the population growing bigger and bigger by the day, California, the most populated state in the Union, will require more and more ways to transport this ever-growing population. This being said, high speed rail is the best way to go. Rail travel is already the most environmentally-friendly way to travel, and it will become even more so with a high speed rail system that is powered entirely on overhead electrical wires. High Speed Rail has been successfully implemented throughout Europe and Asia, and it's high time that the United States catch up on the times. Our current system is no match for today's rapidly-growing, fast-paced world. Let's bring high speed rail to not just California, but the entire United States. 

Miguel Gamalinda 


Eat at Ozzie’s  

Much to the delight of long-time Berkeley residents, a new restaurant has recently opened at the site of Ozzie's Soda Fountain -- the Elmwood Cafe, 2900 College Avenue. Ozzie himself, the famed drug store philosopher, alas, is no longer there, but his spirit lives on! The new Cafe, practically an extension of Mrs. Dalloway's Book Store, is a light and airy place with ample seating, affording diners a view of the passing parade on College Avenue. A staff of attractive, enthusiastic and courteous young people take orders at the fountain and deliver to your table. 

The Cafe, which opened three weeks ago, is owned by Kara Hammond, Michael Pearce and Rachel Ericson. It offers an imaginative and fairly elegant menu, with delectable items such as Savory Bread Pudding, Hot Five Grain Porridge, Ferb chevre and arugula on toasted walnut levain, with a Rhubarb Cobbler for dessert. Equally impressive is the long list of beverages, including several tempting drinks -- Double Espresso, Macchiazto, Cappuccino, Latte, Cafe Au Lait and Double Mocha. 

Clearly the Elmwood Cafe is not your everyday Burger King or Wendy's. Indeed, it adds greatly to the Elmwood District which already boasts an amazing number of high quality fashion, art and jewelry shops. It's to be hoped that this valuable new addition to College Avenue will attract new visitors, not just in Berkeley, but shoppers, perhaps even tourists, from outside. 

Should you want to make a reservation at the Elmwood Cafe, their number is (510) 843-1300. Bon Appetit! 

Dorothy Snodgrass 



Hooray for Health Reform  

I know it is old news, but I am still happy that health reform is a reality. As a person who has faced unemployment, I have had periods without health insurance. But for me, the best part of the reform is that many millions more will be covered and that that unethical practices of insurance companies will now be illegal. 


Clayton McClintock