Public Comment

Letters For May 25, 2010

Thursday May 20, 2010 - 11:36:00 AM


Oil Company Proposition 

I am shocked to read that Texas oil companies have been successful in placing a proposition on the ballot to rollback California’s clean energy and clean air laws!
Fellow Citizens, do not give a bailout of out of state corporations who pollute regions of our air and waters.
California is becoming a leader in the clean energy industry. On the other hand, this dirty energy proposition could hurt our environment and our health.
The disastrous Gulf oil spill demonstrates that the Texas oil giant's proposition can only gut our California's hard-won clean energy and clean air laws. 

Geoffrey Cook 

No Oil Money in Our Elections 


Big oil has been outdated for over twenty years now. We just haven't noticed because we spend so much money subsidizing this ridiculously dirty and inefficient form of energy that there is no capital driven incentive for companies or individuals to do otherwise. What's amazing is that any other form of energy has been able to get any traction whatsoever. It's time to enter the twenty-first century and start aggressively promoting an independently sustainable energy industry that creates safer jobs while at the same time respecting our environment both as a place where we live, and as an important resource that we need to protect for future generations.
Keep Texas oil money out of California and our efforts to pave the way towards a new evolution in energy. Our economy, our environment and our national security depend on it. 

Martin Taber 


Pool Costs Redux 

The Planet had 2 fascinating competing articles on Berkeley’s budget woes. They were:
Of Pools and Many Things, and Why I am Supporting Measure C by Shirley Dean and Berkeley's Budget Nightmare (and Ours) By Barbara Gilbert

Gilbert’s article described in painstaking detail how the City of Berkeley is racing, not running, into the world of municipal insolvency with high costs,plush retirement packages and pension liabilities. The Former Mayor, presumably worried about her pension benefits, waxes poetic about emotion and legacies in regards to spending 100 million dollars on 4 dippy little pool renovations. There is ZERO consideration for the construction bid and finance scandal involved. It’s just beautiful 4-color glossy brochures with Children swimming and the elderly at the spa-probably printed by the bond underwriters who stand to make $20-30 million off the interest.
Apparently, looking at the numbers and wanting a good deal for our tax money is just not acceptable logic for inept city government and the bureaucracy. Shirley Dean, in her Berkeley Hills retreat in Napolean-style exile, is clearly talking her book. In fact, every PTA or school board meeting has the “Yes on C” measure as an agenda item crammed down participants’ throats. Its obvious that there is a conflict of interest and horsetrading going on-let’s face it the multi-million dollar school bonds are coming up soon and the BUSD feels obligated to save the City of Berkeley’s budget with a “yes” vote on this Trojan-Horse-General-Tax-Masquerading-As-A-Recreation-Bond Scam.
Measure C has a provision which allows for the City to limit the amount of money that can be allocated to the pools. The 3.5 million dollar limit allocation allows for the City to PULL IN MORE MONEY THAN IS NEEDED FOR POOLS and USE IT TO FIX THEIR BALANCE SHEET. The parcel tax to pay the bonds and provide maintenance is taxed on a complex residential/commercial square footage algorithm that includes a rate increase provision that’s pinned to some sort of fantastical government measure of inflation. The tax, which on average is $70 per residential parcel, can go up into infinity thanks to the Federal Government’s obsession with devaluing our saved dollars via hyperinflationary monetization.
Dragging out the usual bureaucratic hacks like Shirley Dean and Loni Hancock to swan on about legacies shows just how hard up the City has been on bond Measure C. I have yet to see any commentary on how the money will be spent and where the gold-plated construction bids came from.
And, typical of Berkeley, it’s just been another exercise in the soak-the-”homeowner” scheme which promises free money and benefits to renters,out-of-towners and students. If the City bothered to read the news, they would know that a typical homeowner is under massive deleveraging duress and austerity and has a NET NEGATIVE worth counting their mortgage. The city needs to privatize non-essential services like landscaping and trash collection plus wind down/renegotiate the pension contribution largess before it defaults.

Justin Lee



Eye Opener 

The oil spill & all the harm it has/is causing should serve as a big eye opener that we should no longer depend on fossil fuels to giveus power; in order for us to clean up the environment & show thatwe can change our dependencies according to the curren needs, we needto supply & depend on renewable energy sources such as wind,solar,& water. 


Kimberly Thompson 


History Not Fantasy 

The social conservatives and theologians who have hijacked and infiltrated the Texas Board of Education have forced their bogus and psuedo view of history into the state's textbooks.
A majority of religious soothsayers on the board ran an "our way or no way" agenda by the citizens of Texas. Let's hope there is some moral outrage over this travesty.
The big losers of the school book hoax are the 4.7 million gullible students who are being force-fed an adulterated view of history and the millions more who these textbooks will filter down to.
History is not the realm of fantasy, illusion and wishful thinking as these schoolboard hucksters would have you believe.A slanted view that there is truth in untruth permeates this adjusted history paradigm.
Thank goodness this kind of heavy-handed ignorance doesn't hold sway in our local school district.
Ron Lowe 


BP Must Go 


British Petroleum has no right to continue as a corporation. If this is not cause for revocation of their corporate charter, then surely all humans are enslaved to an economic structure that demands to be overthrown. Plug the Hole! Revoke the corporate charters of the culpable corporations. Sell their assets. Use that money to mediate the damage.
BP's recent non-compliance with the US government's order to stop spraying the toxic "dispersant" demands that the corporate decision makers face criminal charges for consciously further degrading the environment.
The ocean is hemorrhaging. All hands on deck to stop the leak and clean the oil. Ban toxic dispersants adding untold suffering to the already imperiled environment. Use environmentally wise clean-up methods, including straw mats to gather oil, which can then be broken down organically with fungus.
We must reclaim the sacredness of life and disband life destroying corporations.

Terri Compost 


State Budget Cuts 

Schwarzenegger's latest cuts to all Californians prove that we need democracy in our state government now more than ever. 

Because a minority of the legislature can hold the budget process hostage, we'll have another costly, late, and reckless budget that doesn't represent the people. It's no coincidence that the only state with minority rule on both budget and revenue also suffers from the worst deficit and the most painful cuts. We need 50% votes on both budget and revenue now. 


The governor has shown that he's scared of the student movement to save public education, but he can't appease us by while harming our families and communities instead. A real commitment to education and to California means an investment in children and the working class. That kind of crucial support can never be delivered while California's revenue stream is in the hands of a minority of legislators. 


As Cal students, we care about the well being of all Californians, not just our own fees. I want my younger siblings and little cousins to have the opportunities I have, but will they be able to reach higher education at all in a state that denies necessary medical care and childcare? We needsustainable solutions for California that don't just alternate between cutting social programs and education. Funding for both is required to produce a well-educated work force, and the only way to get funding is through a democratic budget and revenue process. 


Eli Wirtschafter 


My reply to Bullock

Earlier I wrote of Prof. Kondolf’s misuse of DEIR, now Bullock questions it.
Bullock cites the DEIR p3-28. and lists numbers like 659,800 and 670,100 which I cannot find on p3-28. If this number is AC Transit total ridership 20 years hence, 659,800 is 3.2 times AC’s current ridership of 206,000, an increase no consultant would use in my professional evaluation. Also in evaluating a project one should not compare it to the whole system ridership but should be PROJECT SPECIFIC.
Bullock refers DEIR (p 4-130) on emission, and did not mention what a prior sentence said “This analysis considers pollutants from all vehicles in the corridor (not just buses).” Since the number of other vehicles is around 4,000 times or more than buses, it shows little difference in pollutants and they do not exceed clean air standards.
For energy use he cites Table 4-14 (p-152), which again includes all the vehicles, auto VMTs range 4,280 to 3,890 times greater than buses of various Alternatives. Again, because of overwhelming number of autos to buses is the reason for little difference in BTU utilized. The BTU probably can be converted to amount of CO2 for GHG purposes but the table does not include the additional riders per bus, which lowers the amount of CO2 per rider. Meanwhile AC is experimenting with zero emission propulsion that could be in use 20 year hence.
He asked about studies where added transit use reduces GHG emission, recent ones are:
a) APTA's recent climate change recommendations,
b) US DOT Climate Change Report of April, 2010, and
c) ICFI's report "Reducing GHG Emissions with Transit"
All these include land use induced by improved transit and conclude more transit use reduces GHG emissions.
Placing cost and ridership into perspective, using BART’s Warm Springs Extension (BWSE) costing almost $700 million will add 7,000 to BART’s total ridership of 400,000 (2025) producing 1.75% ridership increase,.
Whereas applying BRT’s additional 9,320 rider to AC’s 259,800 (2025), this increases AC total ridership by 3.58%, 2.05 times greater than BWSE and costing 2.80 times less, making BRT 5.74 times more cost-effective.
Cost per trip of BWSE will be well over $30, whereas, FTA has determined the BRT cost per trip about $12 per trip placing BRT in the lowest transit grant range. BART’s SF Airport Extension cost was over $27 per trip based on an inflated ridership and was projected to operate in the black after a few years, but still requires a public subsidy today. Incidentally, most of the capital funding for BRT is from outside sources other than from AC Transit’s limited operating funds.
Admitting the need for more and better public transportation to reduce GHG, why not allow a study of the BRT. It does not commit the city to build the BRT, but provides more facts on various transit alternatives to make an informed decision on what path Berkeley should follow. The City manager’s letter to the council supports this thinking. 


Roy Nakadegawa 



The curve of Becky O’Malley’ life is not difficult to predict. 2012 late at night a windowless room in a Montana white supremacist compound a pudgy woman posts anti-Semitic blogs wondering how she was brought down by a few “Zionist zealots” and a guy in a “dingy office” with a mom “listening to right wing radio tracts” as the SWAT team silently moves into position, F.B.I. sharpshooters climb into the trees and Mr. O’Malley files in a state without community property. 


Dan Brown 



Feinstein for Who? 

As the Green party candidate in the Oakland Mayor’s race, I am outside of the circles where our US Senator Dianne Feinstein decided to support out ex-state senator Don Perata. She was never going to call me. 

I think she is doing Oakland a disservice by endorsing anyone at all. 

The Democrats are like a bad marriage that has regular fights that the neighbors get to hear late into the night. The most nasty fights seem to be over who gets the open job. The other semi-official candidate is going to fight for this vacant job as if her career depends on it, because it does. 

None of us will be surprised if the fight gets nastier before it is over. Towards the end of American political campaigns we often have a rash of false accusations, dirty tricks and ugly mudslinging. 

Then they make up and pretend that there are no bitter resentments. 

We pretend to believe them and try not to get too involved. 

The nomination period is still not over, therefore Senator Feinstein is making her choice before the whole field is known. So far Perata's ?conversation? with us Oaklanders does not include much in the way of his views on city issues. So what has she endorsed? Why pick a side? 

Oakland, California and the USA are in a major budget crisis and a lingering recession. Sen. Feinstein should be looking to work with whoever is the next mayor of Oakland and should not have her name attached to any hard feelings this election leaves behind. How would she relate to a Mayor Quan if her name is on Election Day dirty business? Would she take calls from a Mayor Macleay? 

The next mayor will need to keep up the race for federal funds that our current mayor has focused on. The next mayor will need to find a working relationship with all our state and federal officials. 

When the neighbors are fighting late into the night the worst thing you can do is to take sides. 

Don Macleay 



Solving Oil Spills 

A proven solution for oil spills. On the PBS Newshour the other night they had an interview with a maritime official from the Middle East who talked about a massive oil spill of hundreds of millions of gallons. Their solution for this massive oil spill (that dwarfs the Gulf spill) was to use oil tankers and suck up the oil and water mixture. It was a success. The mixture was later separated into oil and water. 

Why don't the powers that be, BP, the U.S. government, use the same method before the Gulf oil spill turns into an unmitigated disaster. Here is a proven workable solution and no one is using it or even talking about it. Dragging our feet is not an option when it comes to a fragile environment. 

Ron Lowe 

Nevada City, CA 


Response to Mental Illness Commentary 

"The mentally ill man or woman must deal with several types of adversity. Most of society seems to have a negative view of those with (a) mental illness." 

I do not know how to speak for "most" if society, but I do not believe the above is an accurate statement, it is a reaction to "clip art," caricature. 

The reality is that we are fully integrated into every level of society, from the lowest to the highest, just as are "the" mentally well: by our ability. We sit as judges, elected officials, professors, company owners, managers, supervisors and occupy every blue and white collar job, including those in journalism, where we are known for what we do, just as is the writer of this piece. Journalism has stopped selfishly promoting caricatures of women, Jews, African Americans, it could stop this one as well. 

• "Numerous persons with mental illnesses never, in their adult lives, learn to think with a good amount of clarity." 

Numerous people (modifier not necessary) never, in their adult lives, learn to think with a good amount of clarity. It has been my great good fortune, both as a teacher and later as an editor, to help people find that clarity. 

Harold A. Maio, retired Mental Health Editor 

Ft Myers FL 


Petition and Protest PGE Stupid Meters and Prop 16.  


Alameda County residents may sign a petition requesting a "smart" meter moratorium and opt out option here: 

The CPUC will hold hearings on PGE rate increases on Mon. May 24 at 505 Van Ness (near SF City Hall) 

at 2pm and 7pm. People plan to speak up during public comment. 

Both hearings will be preceded by rallies protesting Prop 16, rate hikes, and SmartMeters, starting at noon and at 5:45. 

Email the CPUC directly, too: 

The Berkeley City Council plans to consider a related agenda item at its June 1 7:00 pm meeting in the Maudelle Shirek "Old" City Hall. 

Stanford PhD students' experiment exposes SmartMeters: 

Thanks for covering PG&E's Orwellian shenanigans. 


Phoebe Sorgen 


Vote No on PG&E Rate Increases 

Proposition 16 is an attempt by PG&E (the only cash supporter) to lock in high electricity rates in California. 

According to the California Manufacturers & Technology Association "The industrial electricity rates that we pay are 52 percent higher than national average and 95 percent higher than western states." PG&E charges some of the highest electricity rates in the state. 

In California customers of nonprofit municipal utilities pay an average of 20 percent to 25 percent less for electricity than customers of for-profit electric utilities. Public Power operations like nonprofit Silicon Valley Power reduce electrical costs to its customers by 24 percent (for larger industrial customers) and by 46 percent (for residential customers). The Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) provides electricity at rates 30% below PG&E and has a much higher customer satisfaction ranking than PG&E (see: ) 

Proposition 16 is solely motivated by PG& E's special interest, and it would lock the company's high rates into the constitution by locking out public utilities and community choice. PG&E has over $6 billion more in rate hikes currently pending at the California Public Utilities Commission. Consumers can expect PG&E to raise rates by more than 30% in the next three years. 

In recent years, California has lost 634,000 manufacturing jobs. Since electricity is a main budget item for manufacturers, there could be more job losses if Prop 16 passes and rates continue to soar. 

Vote NO on Proposition 16! 

Ralph Givens 


Another Wacko  

So you hate the Jews/Israelis. chacun a son gout. then be consistent;and don't use jewish/Israeli products 

1( Teva or Abic medicin 

2) A blood test to distinguish between mild and severe Multiple S. 

3) A Device restoring paralysed hands 

4) A Device called Child Hood for children 

5) Israeli Researcher created monoclonal antibodies for smallpox 

6)2 israeli received the Nobel price for research of the most important cyclical process 

7)Nose drop to provide 5 years flu vaccine. ETC ETC 



Pentium NMX designed in Israel 

Pentium 4 microprocessor 

Voice mail technology 



Cell phone technology by Motorola in Israel 


Israel produces more scientific papers per capita -109 per 10.000 

More museum per capita. 

highest publications of books per capita 

Relative to population is the largest immigrant absorbing nation on earth 


Suma Sumarum: A simple jew a carpenter by trade was elevated to be the son of God Billions follow his teaching 


I hope you do not celebrate his birthday 


SOOOOO HAVE THE GUTS TO PUBLISH IT ) no excuses no explanations publish IT 



A proud Israeli 

JAck Glasner  


Berkeley pool=$2x similar Orinda Pool 

As I have stated before, Measure C’s accounting has a lot to be desired. Not only is $30 million in 30 year recurring costs for maintenance sandwiched into the bond-at high, high cost in interest payments but the construction bid itself is a mystery 

.The bid for 4 pools in Berkeley come at near 5+ million dollar price tab. That’s per pool. Not only does that sound excessive, but it most probably is unless our pools are made of space age material and gold. 

Over yonder there’s the non-profit Orinda Park Pool. Rife with infrastructure problems and a very usual pool with organic shapes and a tough site. The pool club chose to rebuild the same design in 2004-2005 with a 15 year bond. There were 2 bids for 2 designs at 2 and 3 million dollars. The Orinda pool(pool and support structures) is vastly harder to build, in a more expensive area and was planned by new favorite Architect, Mark Cavagnero (SF Legion Of Honor remodel). 

What, pray tell, are the voters in Berkeley getting for near double that price tag? This is just construction costs. Don’t get me started about how the city is trying to finance this crazy measure. 

Typical argument you may hear is that the project was bid out near 5 years ago. I’d like to remind the fairy-tale inflation hawks out there that 2004-5 were the go-go years of high costs. After the deflationary bust of 2008 all construction costs from labor and materials have plummeted. CPI inflation is flat if not negative since it cratered in 2009. Who is building the pools, anyway? I’d LOVE to know. 

The key difference between the 2 projects(2 million versus 5 million per pool) is accountability and honesty. The City wants that huge bond for other things and is marketing emotion and children to plug up their 11 million dollar budget gaps elsewhere. They will raid this money like ants at a picnic. I’m sure 25+30 million dollars is not ALL going to go to pools. I say we all wise up and flush this measure and see if the city can get a real cost and a real finance plan for JUST POOLS. I’ll be happy to pay for POOLS. 

I love pools, my kid loves pools but give me a break. 

Please see what 2-3 million can buy for the Swells in Orinda. 

Justin Lee 



On my way to a movie at the Shattuck Theatre Sunday afternoon, I glanced at the windows in the adjacent Starbucks Coffee. There, seated at one of the small tables, was a familiar figure -- someone we've all seen on Shattuck Avenue, leaning against a building, usually the former Ross store, holding out a cup. A pitiful creature, with matted hair, dirty clothes and one side of her face twisted, possibly from a stroke. A cigarette generally dangles from her mouth. 

The sight of this forlorn woman evidently arouses pity from passers-by on Shattuck Avenue, who drop coins into her cup. These donations are obviously quite generous. For, while seated in Starbucks, she was busily counting coins piled high on the table. I would judge this mound of dimes and quarters amounted to well over $100.00. 

It's my hope that the woman makes good use of the money -- say for warm meals and a comfortable bed in safe quarters. But, alas, I fear it goes for cigarettes and liquor. Nonetheless, I shall continue to drop money in her cup, for which she never thanks me or makes eye contact. Truly, one of God's forsaken creatures! 

Dorothy Snodgrass 


Another Palin Available 

Need a graduation speaker? Reportedly, Bristol Palin, the 19-year old daughter of Sarah Palin, is now available to give speeches for $15,000 to $30,000 a gig. She will be speaking about teen pregnancy, but is open to other topics. Remember, she had her son Tripp out-of-wedlock and is now turning her experience into cash. She is an opportunistic young lady. Just like her mom. 


Ralph E. Stone 



Working to put the environmental and human disasters that are in our face every day, from pollution, earthquakes and floods to shootings and terrorist attacks, in a context of progress and hope, I’m considering that there may be parallels between the extinction of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago and the disturbances we are seeing now. Might we not be witnessing a planetary “extreme makeover” similar to what has occurred in other periods of our evolutionary history? The violent eruptions and misery may be part of this process and while we must do everything we can to mitigate the suffering, the extinction of unsustainable consumption and waste with its attendant violence and grief, need not be mourned. We can’t know how these trends will play out but we can be part of the solution by practicing and supporting sustainable and renewable energy options and population policies. We have centuries of scientific, philosophic and spiritual wisdom to which to turn for answers and while its hard not to be despairing in the face of the daily barrage of negative news, there’s also plenty of good news, sustaining my trust that harmony and balance can and will be restored. 


Marilyn McPherson