Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

Thursday June 03, 2010 - 11:01:00 AM

Oil Disaster; Why 'C' Matters to Me; Israel Attack on Gaza Freedom Flotilla ; Tea Party; Oil; Refuse Tax Increase; Yes on Measure C; And The Greatest of These Is Charity 

Oil Disaster 

All of us Americans are complicit in this disaster, as we indulge our love affair with our cars. Why is gas not taxed more? Even now, no one is suggesting we discipline ourselves a little 

Raise the tax on gasoline. Prohibit drilling at such a risky depth. Are all tankers finally required to be double hulled? 

Christina Metcalfe 


Why 'C' Matters to Me 

All the public pools in Berkeley matter dearly. That's why we need to pass Measure "C" on June 8th. 

We should all remember that are pools are teaching and learning centers. My daughter, now 13, attended well-taught, affordable swimming and Red Cross lessons for four years at Willard Pool (which would close permanently if Measure 'C' fails.) She is now a Junior Life Guard, along with dozens of other Berkeley children. 

Equally importantly, the pools provide a literal lifeline to the disabled, to seniors, and to those of us who develop temporary disabilities. 

Five years ago I developed a disabling back condition and could not move without severe pain. I was able to get into the Warm Pool and it provided a slow recovery to my having full mobility and pain-free movement. I still go to the Warm Pool for preventive back care. Berkeley's population is aging - and the chance of developing a disability -- temporary or permanent will hit a huge percentage of Berkeley residents. If I hadn't experienced a disability I would find it puzzling that the 'Y' can't substitute for the Warm Pool. The pool at the 'Y' that's warm enough for disabled use can't be used by most disabled people because it's too shallow to provide the buoyancy that makes their mobility possible. 

There are claims being made by the Anti-'C' campaign that aren't true. They are saying that the Ed Roberts Campus is constructing a Warm Pool as part of their current building development. It's not true. They are saying there are other sources of dollars to keep Willard Pool open after July 1 - less than a month away, but there aren't. Don't take my word for it - call the City (#981-CITY) or just take a look at the Summer Recreation Programs schedule for city programs and note that there is no mention of Willard Pool having any programs in operation after June 30th. 

It's very challenging that we're up against a campaign that does not present facts. It's very daunting that Berkeley voters must provide a 2/3rds majority to pass Measure 'C'. But that's the reality. So your support of Measure 'C' can serve all of us. Not supporting 'C' because you may not personally need the precious resources of these pools reminds me of the cartoon with the libertarian whose house is on fire and as the fire engines arrive to save his home he says, "No thanks - I'm a Libertarian." 

Some say we can't afford Measure 'C' - it's expensive. But losing a lifeline and not having a public safety program for our youth to learn to swim is more than expensive. It's life-threatening. 

Susie Bluestone 


Israel Attack on Gaza Freedom Flotilla  

By attacking the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, Israel has again acted in a heavy-handed manner just like it did in its 2006 war with Lebanon, its 2009 invasion of the Gaza strip, and its continued settlement building. Before, it was David (Israel) versus Goliath (the Arab ring states). Now Israel has become the neighborhood bully. And Israel doesn't seem to care about worldwide condemnation. Why? Because it has had the lockstep support of the U.S. Isn't it time to redefine U.S.-Israeli relations? Our credibility in the Middle East and the world depends on a more even-handed Middle East policy. I waited in vain for President Obama and Congress to condemn Israel's killing and wounding of activists aboard the flotilla in international waters. But right on cue, Obama vetoed the UN Security Council from an independent probe of the raid. However, another U.N. body, the Human Rights Council launched its own probe. Get ready for Goldstone II, the sequel. 

Judi Iranyi
Ralph E. Stone


Tea Party 

The Tea Party seems very confused. It is difficult to determine where the party stands on issues. Its members rail against social programs like Medicare but readily accept their Medicare benefits; they don't like federal bailouts of our financial markets, but would be angry if the government did nothing to protect their investment and their retirement programs. Tea Partiers cry "we the people". Who do Tea Party activists stand for besides themselves? 

The Tea Party is a cult of angry and frustrated older white conservatives. Tea Party Republicans are a vocal fringe group whose members are drawn from anti-abortionist, anti-gay, anti-immigration and anti- tax movements. The only other groups as white as the Tea Party are Republicans and the Ku Klux Klan. 

Ron Lowe 



The vigor with which so-called public representatives leap to exonerate destructive and irresponsible oil companies shows why we need to forge their accountability for their misdeeds into law. Immediately after which we should also form an oversight body to make sure they don't perpetrate more Exxon Valdez' or deep horizon atrocities. 

Glen Kohler 


Refuse Tax Increase 

On June 1, the Berkeley City Council unanimously approved a 1.72% increase to the refuse tax/fee that was just increased 20% last year. If readers recall, the 20% rate increase was "voter approved" (sic) via the hugely unpopular protest vote process whereby only mailed in no votes were counted as no, and silence was construed as yes! This marginally legitimate tax measure even included a provision for annual CPI increases! 

But there is more. At the end of June some as-yet-undefined additional refuse tax/fee for waste diversion will be considered by Council, supposedly to raise an additional $1.5M. It is not yet clear how big a hit this will be for our struggling property owners, but it will be another hit. 

Meanwhile, we have overmanned refuse collection routes, half-empty trucks, wasteful work rules, and $1M in refuse collector overtime. 


Barbara Gilbert  


Yes on Measure C 

I am dismayed by Measure C opponents’ aggressive campaign to distort the facts (see Measure C: Fact vs. Fiction on May 30). The people who are spreading lies about Measure C are the same conservative, anti-everything people who opposed recent bond measures to improve schools, libraries and fire protection measures. These three bonds all won by landslides, reinforcing just how out-of-touch Measure C’s opponents are with Berkeley’s progressive and inclusive values. 

Measure C has all the elements of an important and well-developed bond measure: it addresses pressing needs for the community (two of the pools are slated to close permanently if the bond measure doesn’t pass), it was crafted based on extensive professional research and broad community input, and it is unanimously supported by Berkeley City Council and School Board as well as a wide range of Parent-Teacher Associations and other community leaders. 

Berkeley prides itself on having both progressive and fact-based politics. Measure C is Berkeley politics at its best. The vocal opposition to Measure C is taking a page out of the conservative playbook: manipulate the facts and repeat them frequently and loudly. Don’t buy the hype, Berkeley. Vote yes on Measure C. 

Heather Sarantis 


And The Greatest of These Is Charity 

In her letter to the last issue ofthe Online Planet , under the heading "Charity", Susan Sholin claims that I'm incredibly naive or not very smart for feeling sorry for the forlorn woman often seen asking for handouts in downtown Berkeley. I accept Ms. Sholin's point of view, although I do not agree with it. I choose to share what I have with someone who apparently needs it. 

Dorothy Snodgrass  



I would have thought Susan Sholin’s loss of her home and job might have inspired more compassion in her soul. But her vitriolic response to Dorothy Snodgrass’ compassion clarifies a disturbing fact– there is no shortage of pointless cruelty in Berkeley, the odd place where an arguably educated electorate can be counted on to vote in favor of throwing the poor under the nearest bus. 

Carol Denney 


The Same Old Story 

It's the same ol’ story , every timeit's told, we're doing what's right for America , blessed is the fruit of the Tax burdened working person, for THEY ( Government, Corporations.) shall inherit our wealth. And inherit is definitely the wrong word, for WE the People, are JUST giving it to them, without any accountability. The real weakness IS the PEOPLE of THESE UNITED STATES, for we have not the guts or the will and certainly not the desire, to be weened of the complacency that American Democracy has bred in U.S. Why if I were King!!! 

Gene Dussell


Corporations Should Not be Persons 

It fits exactly that the law saying that corporations are
persons was passed during the Eisenhower administration
when Big Oil was going after ANWR and the Arctic
and offshore oil drilling half a century ago, and now it came up again with
the Bush Supreme Court. The Supreme Court was put there
only to promote the interests of Big Oil, Mining and Minerals.
I ask for full disclosure and overturning of this
corrupt decision by the Supreme Court. Treating
Big Oil, the Minerals and Mining industries like persons puts all of our heath and lives in jeopardy—e.g. the oil spill in the Gulf and EXXON and if they are persons then we will all be in our graves soon. 

Claire Englander


Warm Pool Essential 

I am a "graduate" of the Warm Pool at Berkeley High School, which was very helpful to me when my back became very painful. Even after chiropractic, surgery, etc., I was still hurting. I found two good physical therapists, one of whom designed exercises for me in Grace's Pool at the YMCA.I then practiced these in the Berkeley High Warm Pool, as Grace's Pool, though warmer than the YMCA lap swimming pool, was way too cold for me to relax while doing the exercises. The YMCA's small warm pool was too shallow, as many of my exercises needed to be done in deep water, i.e. they were non-weight-bearing. Thanks to these exercises, I am now out of pain most of the time and able to sit, drive, work, and backpack again. I strongly support Measure C, and urge others to vote YES on this important resource for all of us! 

Nancy Lemon 


The Cost of War 

The amount of money the United States has spent on wars in Afghanistan and Iraq surpassed the $1 trillion mark last week, according to the National Priorities Project Cost of War counter. To date, over $747 billion has been appropriated for the war in Iraq and $299 billion for the war in Afghanistan. The US is spending over $136 billion on the wars this year. 

Former U.S. president General Dwight D. Eisenhower highlighted the wanton waste of war when he declared, 

"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. The world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. … Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron. ... Is there no other way the world may live?" 

Ted Rudow III,MA
Menlo Park 


Corporations Should Not Buy Elections 

Although "corporate person-hood" (an oxymoron if ever there was one!) is not a new concept, it is nevertheless corrosive to our democracy. I have been concerned about candidates indirectly buying offices by virtue of the fact that they have access to huge resources of corporations which allow a candidate to have their face and voice out in the media so much that they begin to seem familiar to the viewer/listener. The thing is, familiarity does not constitute leadership with integrity. In fact, given the influence of corporations, one can assume the exact opposite. We must put a stop to the unreasonable interference of corporations in our legislative process. Our voices must be heard above a corporation’s. 

Mary Hein


Important Library Meetings This Week 

Three important meetings are taking place this week: 

1. The PLANNING COMMISSION meets THURSDAY JUNE 10 to discuss, among other things, the Library's plans for Claremont Branch and North Branch library renovations These will be "previews" with action scheduled later this month / early next month. 

2. The Board of Library Trustees (BOLT) meets WEDNESDAY, JUNE 9. 

3. The Peace and Justice Commission met Monday night, JUNE 7, 7pm, North Berkeley Senior Center. Their agenda included discussion of a letter to the City Council advising on the Berkeley Public Library's foot-dragging on moving forward with a replacement checkout/checkin system. 

Agendas for all these meetings are available online. 

Peter Warfield
Executive Director
Library Users Association


Looking ahead after the flotilla disaster 

The deadly confrontation between the Israeli military and activists off of Gaza's coast should not be turned into another stale debate between "pro-"and "anti-" Israel activists. Rather, we should use this moment to ask what can be done to improve the situation. 

At the root of this disaster is the effort to restrict the flow of people and goods to Gaza. This effort was initiated by Israel (and supported by the Bush administration) after Hamas came to power. This policy failed to improve Israeli security. Nor did it weaken Hamas 

It is time for the Obama administration to show leadership on this issue. It should work with the international community - including Egypt, Israel, and the Palestinian Authority - to create a new security regime for Gaza. 

Mechanisms that guarantee Israel's security needs—like crossing points monitored to prevent arms smuggling by international forces—are possible. What is needed is the political courage to admit failure and to try a new path. 

Donna Pedroza


Rank Hypocrisy regarding alcohol sales at TJ's 

Remember how the Ayyads (Fred's Market) were raked over the coals for their liquor license on Telegraph? How the police demanded that (a) alcohol not be advertised in the window and (b) it wasn't to be visible from the street? 


I can't believe the HYPOCRISY of letting Trader Joe's just do whatever it feels like, with NO Police concern, NO ZAB concern and NO city council concern ... when a 25-YEAR LOCAL VENDOR is twiddled endlessly because they can't afford to sue the fools who harass them (and them only.) 


That is hardly "support for local business." 

Eric Dynamic