Public Comment

Updated: More Letters

Friday June 04, 2010 - 01:11:00 PM

Measure C Video; Pools and 3-Card Monte; Measure C is Ill-Timed; Measure C-Berkeley voters have Stockholm Syndrome. 

Measure C Video 

I'm disappointed that you buried the video so completely. It is clearly of considerable news value and public interest -- Shirley Dean and Kriss Worthington joining with Tom Bates to denounce the anti-C campaign's tactics in very harsh terms. By hiding it underneath an ill-informed reader analysis that contains numerous false statements (including some of the very same falsehoods that Shirley, Kriss and Tom were denouncing), you have "buried the lede" in a pretty substantial way. 

Robert Collier 


Pools and 3-Card Monte 

Why does the City need Measure C? 

It shouldn't come as any surprise that those people who have owned their property since before Prop 13 pay less than those who purchased property more recently. The surprise comes when you look at the total property tax generated today vs the property tax generated pre-Prop 13 in constant dollars. 

The City makes more money today in constant dollars than it did pre-Prop 13. Where does that money go? 

The vast majority goes to employee salaries and benefits as well as retirement payments. I know from personal experience the bulk of City employees are hard working and conscientious. I also believe that they are very well paid and the benefits the City offers its employees go well beyond the benefits offered in the private workplace. 

Add to that the fact that the City has had an explosion in its workforce since Prop 13 -- currently over 1,600 employees. We have many more City workers than any city of comparable size in California. Even with all the outsourcing the City has done (your curbside recycling is done by an outside contractor, not by the City), the City still employs nearly twice as many people as Hayward which has 50% greater population. 

The City has been planning to cut back pool hours for some time because the cost of operating the pools is too great. Building new pools, or renovating old pools will not change the mathematics of operation. If we want pools, then we need to pay for them with taxes, not with bonds. 

Vote no on C. Don't increase our indebtedness without a way to operate the pools in the future. 

Vincent Casalaina 


Measure C is Ill-Timed 

Measure C is an ill timed bond measure that places too high a financial burden on the tax payer. At a recent NEBA meeting where the issue was debated, someone correctly pointed out that the Measure's maintenance component is a Trojan Horse.
Currently the pools are maintained at a yearly cost of about one million dollars. Measure C proposes that it be raised to three and one half million. The bond portion will be paid off in thirty years but the maintenance component is in perpetuity and indexed for inflation.
The Trojan Horse is the additional two and a half million dollars that the city will collect from every tax payer. I suspect that the city intends to use it to ease the budget deficits: four million this year and sixteen and one half million for 2011.
The city is using children and the elderly as a front for this back door tax increase. The claims that BHS cannot allow the middle school access to its pool because of its own intense use is false. A random check of this pool during school hours and Saturdays will confirm it. The decision to demolish the warm water pool used by the elderly is in the hands of the BUSD, which claims that it needs the space for additional classrooms for an increasing student population. Many non Berkeley residents attend BHS and during these hard financial times it could save the warm pool by denying these out of towners access. I personally know one of these students whose parents live in Montclair in a million dollar plus home. This past December, Councilman Wozniack, the featured speaker at an event, was asked how many of these children attend Berkeley schools. It is not a trivial number.
In politics, truth is the best disinfectant.

Robert Cabrera 


Measure C-Berkeley voters have Stockholm Syndrome. 

Pro-C politicians and their flock-of –tax-me-I-have-Stockholm-Syndrome voters are questioning the homeowners who rightfully ask what value they are getting for the money. They are playing a zero-sum value game since they refuse to discuss accounting tricks and expenses like most budget conscious adults.It’s YES or NO. The pools have value, but it’s limited to a FAIR PRICE(109 million over 30 years is not a good deal). The pro-C backers and the politicians who want to secure their fat pensions have resorted to negating discourse about financing to their typical name-calling and comments about Teabaggers, liars etc. 

The fact remains this: If you charge a special tax for pools that can be upwards to 3.5 million maximum, then any excess taxes collected can be used for whatever they desire. This is an accounting shell game and general tax because any money that WERE for pools in the general tax now is free to go to obligations and budget holes. 

It’s not a pool tax-it’s an accounting scheme. 

Measure C proponents will have you believe that the hostage(pools) will be shot if they don’t get what they want. This is the worst marketing campaign and financial terrorist hit job in Berkeley to date. What happened to contract negotiation? But then again, I wouldn’t want to be across the table discussing math with such people anyway. Making a Youtube Video and saying we are wrong without any factual information is the best they can muster. 

The $$$ full glossy pro-C mailers(underwritten by the Bond Vampires probably) are lording our children and crippled elderly in front us us to help secure millions in profits for the financial industry and allows Mayor Bates to continue his credit financing binge. 

Justin Lee



Civil Plea in Favor of Measure C  

It is a pity that such a valuable civic resource--municipal pools that serve a wide array of Berkeley citizens--has become such a contested issue 

I am writing in favor of Measure C for ALL swimmers. I truly want there to continue to be four municipal pools in Berkeley. I have seen the Master Swimmers, the Barracudas, the Senior Aerobics classes, the parents and tot swim programs, the programs for adults with a fear of water, children learning to swim and hopefully thus avoidingthe tragedy of drowning, and family swim hours that occur at all four pools. 

But I happen to be a swimmer at the Warm Pool for the past seventeen years, and it is the value of the Warm Pool that I know first-hand.So, I would like to say a few words about the great value of this civic resource. In these pages you have heard about the many disabled children and adults who have been helped by the therapeutic 92-93 degree temperature of the Warm Pool. Many of those who receive benefits from the Warm Pool are quite disabled; and the Warm Pool provides them with some relief from their pain and physical and mental stress. 

However, there are at least two other groups of swimmers at the Warm Pool. One is people who have been in a car accident or had some other kind of accident for which they need the therapy provided by the Warm Pool. The other group is the one to which I belong. When I began swimming at the Warm Pool, I was quite disabled from a herniated disk. Fortunately for me, with the help of the Warm Pool and other therapies, I was able to return to my full-time job. I have been able to earn a very good living and pay my taxes as a homeowner, business owner in Berkeley, and employee of a small public utility. 

I feel that the story of people like me has not been told enough--people who can resume their lives. People who do not need to be supported by disability or other social welfare programs. I am in no way writing against these necessary social programs. I just want to point out that the relatively inexpensive resource of a Warm Pool in Berkeley has had, and continues to have, a profoundly beneficial effect for many people who are able to resume their employment. This alone is a fact worth considering when deciding whether to vote for Measure C. I hope you will vote for Measure C. Many of your fellow citizens are counting on you. 

Judi Berzon 



Warm Pool is Health Care 

We are retired Berkeley homeowners with two rental units and we will vote enthusiastically yes on Measure C. We know people for whom the Warm Pool is not just optional recreation but actually IS their health care. And we also know how important Measure C will be for youth in our community. This includes six, eight, twelve year old disabled kids who depend on the Warm Pool for their only recreation-- playgrounds might as well be in a parallel universe. It also includes South and West Berkeley youth, more of whom do not know how to swim than those in other parts of town and thus are at greater risk of drowning. (Nationwide, 58% of minority youth can't swim!)
If Willard Pool closes July 1st--as it will if Measure C fails--it will spell the end of spring and fall swim lessons at Willard Middle School as well as "After School at the Pool", where many kids hone their water skills. It will also mean that the thriving Barracudas youth team, which badly needs more and wider, safer lanes at King Pool, will instead face even greater crowding and scheduling problems. Seems to me it's not much of a legacy for our generation to leave.
I hope readers realize that the "Y" is simply not an option to replace the Warm Pool. It is too small, too shallow, and already too heavily in use. I also hope that whatever you may think of the School District's decision to demolish the gym, that ship has sailed. Why punish the Warm Pool community by denying their need?
For us, the benefits of Measure C well outweigh the modest cost, even in challenging economic times. I hope you'll join us in voting yes on "C" this Tuesday.

Donna Mickleson