Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

Tuesday June 15, 2010 - 03:45:00 PM

Measure C; Who’s to Blame?; Midwives in Peril; Cost of Doing Business; Mind the Meter Maids (and Men);Alaska Project Danger to Wildlife; Why 2/3 Vote? Scorched Earth policy by Pro-C Proponents Drained the Pool Measure of Life; Birgenau Puff Piece; BP Responsible; Dealing with Hamas; Gates Foundation Grants; BP Should Clean Up What it Messed Up; Why Should Israel Feel Embarrassed?; Leadership 


Measure C 

Ms. O'Malley's "Moving On After Berkeley Turns Down Measure C" (June 15) provides a calm and reasonable analysis, but it omits one factor that, in my opinion, significantly helped to defeat Measure C: 

With the impending loss of the warm pool and the state of disrepair of some other pools, Berkeley faced the (now manifest) prospect of imposing a reduction in services the City had customarily provided. 

Measure C was constructed in such a way as to not merely preserve existing services but to expand pool services. This significantly raised the projected capital and operating costs of the pools program. 

If we had had before us a measure aimed simply at preserving existing services, repairing continuing pools and building a new warm pool, the amounts of money at stake would have been smaller and perhaps the funding mechanisms needed less problematic. 

In my view, an opportunity was lost to maintain existing levels of pool service because of ambitions to expand pool services and create a "legacy" for elected officials and others. 

Thomas Lord 



Who’s to Blame? 

2012 GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney joined the bandwagon along with Tea Party leader Sarah Palin, blaming President Obama, in a roundabout way, for the Gulf oil spill. Both being corporate lackeys, they would do that. 

The oil spill in the Gulf is BP's fault, corporate malfeasance, or, it could be the Republican's fault due to lax regulations on oil wells during the Bush-Cheney oil presidency 

And come on! Look at the white people protesting for the new Arizona immigration law. White folks carrying signs "ILLEGAL IS A CRIME", "WHAT PART OF ILLEGAL DON"T YOU UNDERSTAND". This debate is not about immigration "THIS IS ABOUT RACISM" plain and simple. Decaying white power targeting a whole segment of society, Hispanics and Latinos. 

Ron Lowe 



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 integrous leadership. 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 




Not 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 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--eg the oil spill in the Gulf and EXXON and if they are persons then we will all be in our graves soon.  


Claire Englander 

Midwives in Peril 


Dear Parents, Grandparents and Families, 


I've just learned that Alta Bates is allowing East Bay Perinatal to charge the only two remaining independent midwives at Alta Bates -- Lindy Johnson and Jeri Zukoski -- $150 per patient to provide back-up assistance.These new fees could put Lindy and Jeri out of business, by over tripling their annual back-up costs from $6,000 on average to $20,000. 


In contrast, East Bay Perinatal, will continue to provide back-up services to all of Alta Bates Ob/Gyns free of charge. 


So, not only is this decision by Alta Bates unfair and discriminatory, worse, it could end the option that my family and many families like mine have had to access affordable midwifery care that will accept HMO, PPO and Calworks insurance. 


I can tell you that Lindy was an amazing midwife and pre/postnatal care provider.With her help, we were well prepared to do a fully natural birth at Alta Bates and we have taken steps to retain our existing insurance plan so that we can work with her again in the future 


If you are as outraged as I am, please let Alta Bates know.You can write to the CEO of Alta Bates (see address below). 


If you are interested in more information or getting on a list for future ‘Save the Midwives’ actions, please contact Lindy Johnson directly by emailing her at: 


Lindy also has access to a sample letter you can use to make sending a letter or email easier. 


Here is Alta Bates' contact information. 

Warren Kirk  



Alta Bates Summit Medical Center 


2450 Ashby Avenue 


Berkeley, CA 94705 




If you can, please also copy the following folks to your letter: 


East Bay Perinatal/Drs. Lovett, Weiss, Marinoff, De Palma, Fong 


Katie Rose, Director of Women and Infant Services 


Dr. Katarina Lanner-Cusin, Medical Director Women and Infant Services 




Lindsay S. Imai 






Cost of Doing Business 


Let's see, Meg Whitman bought the Republican nomination for governor for$81 million -- $71 million of her own money -- by winning1,101,074 vote sor $73.56 per vote. And this is just to win the primary. Over the last five California gubernatorial elections, the winning candidate has won with 52%, or about 4,446,480 votes. At $73.56 a vote, Meg Whitman will have to spend $327,083,069 to win the governorship.That's $100 million more than John McCain spent running for president in 2008. It's $58 million more than George W. Bush spent running in 2004. That's obscene. This amount of money could stave off some expected cuts in education, health, and social services. Unfortunately, that's not how it works in real life. 




Ralph E. Stone 






Mind the Meter Maids (and Men) 




I swear to God, and I know She'll agree with me, there must be a meter maid for every car in Berkeley! Up and down the street they go, round and round the block, marking tires with chalk and gleefully writing citations. The last past few days I've had occasion to to run several errands in town, and everywhere I've gone, I've run into those wretched white wagons issuing parking citations with reckless abandon. Now I realize that Berkeley has a severe budget problem, as do so many California cities, but scaring away shoppers fearful of a large penalty for getting back to their cars a few minutes late, will do nothing to ease that problem. I therefore suggest to the mayor and the city council that they dismiss some of those meter maids and give drivers a break! 


Dorothy Snodgrass 






Alaska Project Danger to Wildlife. 




As the BP Disaster treks forward, another threat looms. A proposed tar sands oil pipeline will be unspeakably damaging to wildlife. Cleaner energy projects should be considered. 


Tar sands oil production threatens irreplaceable forests, which are home to grizzly bears, wolverines, woodland caribou and over a billion birds. These lands are scarred and ravaged to access the tar sands under the soil. 


Polluters have to use three barrels of fresh water to create a barrel of tar sands. Virgin forests are replaced with permanent waste water dumps, toxic tailings ponds that are inviting but deadly to birds, and mine pits so massive they are visible from outer space. 


People suffer from tar sands development. Communities downstream are seeing a spike in rare cancers and other serious health conditions like heart and lung disease. 


Please consider looking into this in greater depth. People must know about something before they can decide what to do about it. Thank you very much. 




Kate Roessler 






Why 2/3 Vote? 


I am new to Berkeley and don’t understand WHY a 2/3rds majority of voters is needed to pass a measure? Can anyone explain the history of such nonsense to me. Thanks 


Mary Lou Erickson 




Scorched Earth policy by Pro-C Proponents drained the pool measure of life 


Measure C Pool Bond coordinator Robert Collier went on an open-ended incoherent rant about many things at the Berkeleyside blog after the bond measure was rejected by voters: 


This is the typical mindset of the myopic, and really points to how incompetent Pro-C people have treated their fellow citizens during the whole process. BADLY. It’s also indicative of the lack of talent and abilities of the bond proponents to construct a proposal that makes any sense in a terrible economy and soft election cycle. 


A rational discussion of cost alternatives was replaced by name calling(teabaggers,Republicans, liars,Howard Jarvis lovers etc.)and the endless 4-color glossies and heartstring marketing was appalling. It’s also indicative of blowback to Mayor Bates’ divisive, adolescent political style. 


Collier blaming Prop 13 and the 2/3rd majority vote was misdirected and bitter. A 2/3rds vote prevents the tyranny of the majority to force mortgage-paying homeowners to unfairly pay for everything. 


Collier and Bates made a swing for the fences, adding expenses and nebulous accounting tricks to a guaranteed win. This is truly a case of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Just imagine if the bond was constructed fairly and property+use taxes were within reason. The bond would have passed easily. Instead, it was another case of threats and shoot-the-hostage(pool closures) fear tactics. 


The typical recourse in this matter would be for the Mayor and Collier to speak to Mary Bowman and the homeowner groups to see what bond and tax would be acceptable for everyone. Mayor Bates needs to calm down and lose the tantrum attitude immediately because it truly injures our chances of developing recreational facilities across all sports and hobbies. If both sides could agree upon a financing schedule that would really benefit kids and pool users, these expensive failures would be avoided in the future. The measure could be presented in a joint news conference with a fiscal stamp of approval by the people who understand budgets and spending. It’s hard to imagine the current City Government doing this however and until they grow up, pools will close and the City will continue in its current path to decline. 


Mathew Parker
South Berkeley Homeowner 




Birgenau Puff Piece 


I expect more from the Berkeley Daily Planet than what I found in the puff-piece
on UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau "UC Chancellor Speaks to Staff Assembly" on June 5.
I'd use a pseudonym too if I'd committed such a pathetic exhibition.

It's a funny thing how Berkeley Staff Assembly events have such low campus turnout. The BSA
is a small group of select sycophants who frequently hold vitally important meetings but
somehow don't manage to tell the rest of the staff about them. Funny, too, how UCB administrators like
to pretend they've met with all the campus staff when they've only done a little tap dance for the groupies.

As for the "Operational Excellence" $75 million savings scam (Bain & Co. consultants): When was the last time you saw a large
complex bureaucracy save money by setting up an entirely new layer of administrators with its own program office,
hiring a head, a director, a hitman----er, communcations specialist-- and implementing "eight initiatives?"

Bronwen Rowlands 


P.S. FYI: here are a couple of good sources of general info about the goings-on at UC.: , 




BP Responsible 


We have no idea what BP's blunder will cost the country and its citizens over the next few years. The damage of the Exxon Valdez spill is still burdening the aquatic life in Alaska. We have to hold them responsible and keep their obligation open. Furthermore, BP still owes us for damages in their Alaska spill due to their neglect. Let us hold the line here! 


David Romain
El Sobrante 




Dealing with Hamas 


The Israeli interdictions of the humanitarian ships is the only way to deal with Hamas. Sure, now it looks like only relief supplies but once they get free passage Hamas will begin importing war materials and soon Pampers and Preparation H will become grenade launchers and missiles. There is no other way to deal with the Palestinians, but by force. Perhaps if the United States would adopt some of Israel's methods, it would not be in the bind it's in now and probably will be forever. 


Joanne Silverman
New York. 




Gates Foundation Grants 


I call on readers to wake up to the Gates Foundation again making big donation to bring about more people facing starvation. In June 8, SF Chronicle, page 5, the Foundation is indicated as granting 1.5 billion dollars for health projects for children that will likely help a lot of them to end up starving. This is not as much as the foundation put up earlier this year with $10 billion for children's vaccinations that will likely end up with a million or more children staying alive but likely close to starving and catching many diseases. 


. When will Gates and his foundation stop grandstanding the health aspects of children and face the reality that survival of children and mothers that his donations give some health help to requires getting much improved food and water supply systems for them? Is it ethical and moral to just help, the children especially, to a better chance to live at the start, but wash one's hands of helping to get them needed food and clean water? The decreasing amounts of food and water that will be available with the world's growing population hardly make it a better chance. Readers here interested in getting this and other foundations to be more actively helping to get better food and clean water to the world's poor might start by e-mailing them, especially the Gates one, pointing out that getting control of some diseases does not stop people from being too weak from lack of proper nutrition to survive. 


Dr. James Singmaster




BP Should Clean Up What it Messed Up 


The Gulf oil spill is a case of corporate malfeasance, both the destruction of the well and the aftermath with its attendent liabilities. President Obama and other environmentally conscious leaders are demanding that BP be financially responsible for damage caused by the Gulf oil spill. 


What BP messes up, BP needs to clean up without any delaying maneuvers. The oil giant is responsible for the economic and environmental degradation it has caused.
There have been all sorts of solutions floated around besides capping of the well. Put an umbrella type device over the remaining leak and capture up to 90% of the oil, returning it to waiting tankers above. 


The once-beautiful Louisiana wetlands have been turned into an ecological tragedy. Vegetation, birds and animals, are dying of oil contamination. The water in some areas has been turned into goo and muck. 


It is time for BP and the rest of the oil industry to become more sensitive and ecologically-minded - now, rather than later 


The oil spill in the Gulf illustrates how technology, used improperly, can get us into trouble. This environmental wreck is a warning for the future. 


Ron Lowe 




Why Should Israel Feel Embarrassed? 


I find it interesting that the Israeli government and its supporters complain that the goal of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla is to to embarrass Israel. At the same time, they deny that the blockade is evil and immoral. So, why exactly do they feel embarrassed? 


Israel has, for a very long time, maintained that Gaza was liberated and denied the existence of the blockade. Its policy has always been to assure that the Palestinins continue to suffer in silence without any observers. That is why they did not stop the first 5 Free Gaza Movement ships that sailed into Gaza from August to December 2008. Only after the initial missions generated media coverage did Israel acknowledge its blockade. 


All crossings into Gaza (including Rafah) have been under effective Israeli control per agreement between USA –Israel and the Palestinan Authority. That agreement was dictated to the hapless Palestinian “Authority” by U.S. Secretary of State, Condi Rice in 2005 before Hamas won the legislative council elections. In January 2006, I was stranded on the Egyptian side of the border for more than 24 hours, with an American delegation, due to Israeli objections, even though we all had UN authorization to enter Gaza as election observers. The Rafah crossing was manned by European personnel with cosmetic Palestinian presence while the Israelis observe by remote cameras. No one can cross without explicit Israeli approval. Egypt has, to its shame, continued to honor the American sponsored agreement. 


Hassan Fouda 






President Obama and Secretary of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar demonstrated great leadership in their decision to postpone Arctic offshore drilling until at least 2011. In light of the Gulf Oil Spill Disaster, this was the responsible decision to make. As President Obama stated, "All drilling must be safe." Let us hope that this is one of many steps to show real leadership on the necessary transition to a clean energy economy and future. 


Bita Edwards