Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

Tuesday April 27, 2010 - 11:41:00 AM

I remain shocked, furious, and appalled by what's been done to the American people and how impervious the banking system and others who aren't living where and how we are in the age of job loss, rising prices, home losses, all the outcomes of the banks' cavalier disregard of those who don't hold the same priivilege--especially legal privilege. 


Ms. Ria Tanz Kubota 





How often so many have ranted, 

While taking their freedom for granted. 

Complaints of despair 

On foundations of air. 

After losing it, how they've recanted! 


Ove Ofteness 



So, does David Jackson still think Tony Prone is "everything that a police officer should be" now that he has been fired and may face additional charges? When I think of the ideal law enforcement officer, he is someone like Dash Butler, the interim BART chief of police, who replaced the ineffective and incompetent Gary Gee. Butler, a former Berkeley chief of police, is known for strong community relations. Just two weeks after a large demonstration was held demanding Pirone be held accountable for his actions, Butler took decisive action.  


I must say, it's pretty interesting to read Jackson's Feb. 18 letter to the Planet the day after Pirone's firing. Jackson calls Pirone a "stand-up guy." Well, his testimony sure didn’t stand up in court. At the preliminary hearing in 2009, he was forced to admit the video showed Grant had his hands behind his back when he was shot, though initially he stated otherwise. Jackson, a family friend of Pirone, says the ex-officer was "an intelligent, friendly, caring person." Sure he is. He cared enough about Grant to refuse to administer CPR after the shooting. His overzealous use of force would seem to disqualify him from MENSA membership. He certainly wasn’t too friendly to Grant or his friend Mike Greer, both of whom he assaulted. 


Jackson goes on to blame Grant for his own death, a stereotypical response, but not the correct one. Grant was no angel. But that's no excuse to violate his civil rights. Eyewitnesses say Grant attempted to calm the situation down, he complied by putting his hands out after Pirone slammed him to the ground, and he pleaded for his life while Pirone had his boot on his neck, just before he was shot to death by Mehserle. Pirone's actions were clearly over the top. After all, there was no justification to even Tase Grant in the first place, by Pirone's own admission on the stand. 


Pirone collected over $100,000 on paid leave for 13 months, at a time when BART is facing a considerable deficit, and considering service cuts, layoffs, and fare increases. If there is a single root cause of the agency's plummeting public image and loss of public confidence, it's Pirone. If he's truly a stand-up guy, he should start telling the truth about what happened that night. But then again, he doesnt have to. We can just roll the tape. 


Eric Arnold 



As self-proclaimed restaurant critic for the Berkeley Daily Planet (which may come as a surprise to the editors), I'm happy to announce the welcome addition of a new restaurant on Telegraph Avenue. Offering fine Italian cuisine, Pasta Bene, at 2565 Telegraph Avenue is a gem! Located in the former Eclair Bakery, next to the Center for Independent Living, this family owned restaurant is a lovely state of the art building with comfortable booths and tables and outdoor seating, ideal for warm, sunny days. 

The menu is truly impressive, with starters, salads, sandwiches, thin crust Italian style pizza, and entrees as low as $6.95. I ask, where do you find prices like this? Oh, yes -- for dessert, there's Tiramisu, something to die for. The charming young hostess and attentive waiter literally kill you with kindness, making sure you're pleased with your selection. This is the kind of restaurant where one can happily linger for hours, enjoying the view of people passing along Telegraph Avenue, always a show of its own. 

You may just want to stop in Pasta Bene some afternoon for a draft of beer, only $13 a pitcher. 


Dorothy Snodgrass 



In Arizona, Republican lawmakers in a political move, have 

crafted one of the most outlandish laws in recent memory. A whole 

segment of society, brown-skinned Hispanics and Latinos will become the 

unintended (or maybe intended) targets of this flawed illegal immigration legislation. 

The law is a thinly veiled tool of racial profiling, a law based on skin color and ethnicity. The Jim Crow legacy of discrimination and oppression is alive and well in Arizona. 

The new law victimizes both Latinos and the police who have to enforce it. It makes a cop judge and jury over fellow citizens who just happen to fit a profile, and, puts all Hispanics and Latinos at the mercy of law-enforcement. 

This law is something out of the "dark ages" and is an affront to democracy. Arizona's governor, Jan Brewer, who signed the bill into law, was asked if she knew what an illegal immigrant looked like. She stammered and replied, "no". I rest my case. 


Ron Lowe  



I am responding to Ray Barglow's disagreement with my online Berkeley Planet article which asserts that electromagnetic emissions from cell towers are dangerous to our health and longevity. Ray challenges the studies which claim that these emissions are a public hazard. He believes that they suffer major methodological flaws. Actually, no research on the issue is more flawed than a study that is currently being sponsored by the wireless industry. Incredibly, the industry study excludes certain types of tumors. It even eliminates from the sample those who died or were too sick to answer questions. Ray does note that those whose research he criticizes are not coming to the wrong conclusions because they harbor ulterior motives. But I don't think we could be as generous about those researchers who completely dismiss the issue. 

There have been a substantial and growing number of studies, far more than I mentioned in the Planet article, that document the intolerable assault on the health of those who live near cell towers. As a result, over 100 physicians and scientists at Harvard and Boston University Schools of Public Health have agreed that cell towers pose serious risks, whether cell phone users or not. Keep in mind that these scientists are not wild eyed radicals seeking to prey on the business community. 

The U.S. standard of radiation exposure from cell sites is among the least protective in the world. The exposure allowed in the U.S. is 580-1,000 microwatts per sq. centimeter, which is 100 to 1,000 times higher than in many countries. Only 10 microwatts are allowed in Russia and Italy, 6 microwatts in China, and only 4 microwatts in Switzerland. I doubt that the widespread fear in Europe and elsewhere that cell site emissions are very dangerous is due to neurotic anxiety. 

Obviously, we can have our cell phones without sacrificing our lives for the sake of convenience. But the higher financial costs to business to make these cell sites safer would reduce the rate of profit. Indeed, profit maximization has already given us polluted air and water, food sprayed with poisonous pesticides, and many products that present safety and health hazards. Now for a growing number of people electromagnetic emissions are inescapable. It should not be a surprise that life expectancy in 47 countries is higher than in the United States.  

Ray and I have a disagreement about the impact of cell towers, but we agree on a fundamental political principle. Ray is, as always, committed to democracy. I am pleased, but not surprised, that he believes that a community has a right to decide about whether cell sites should be allowed, and if so, under what conditions I couldn't ask for a more worthy opponent. 


Harry Brill 



These banks CEOs should be imprisoned for the repeated frauds and thefts of our banking system since the creation of the Federal Reserve Bank (which should be disbanded and closed) and a new government regulatory agent should disband "the too big to fail" over-sized banks such as Bank of America, Chase, Wells Fargo, Citibank,etc., and corporations like Goldman Sacks who work hand in hand to destroy the American Economy on a daily basis and through out history. Thank you. 


Shang-Mei Lee 



Wall Street and the big banks obviously cannot be trusted to regulate themselves, as some would wish. The country definitely needs sweeping reform of the regulations governing banking and financial practices. 


Ron Bogley