Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

Tuesday July 13, 2010 - 10:18:00 AM

Pelosi Backs Two Ferries for Berkeley;Post-Verdict Riots;Anarchism?The Post-Reagan Era;Arizona Cracks Down Again; The Walls Came Tumbling Down;Planning to Plan Downtown; Coal Kills; Mayor's proposed Downtown Area Plan Ballot Measure; Kenneth Thiesen’s 2008 Opinion; Feminists for Life


 Pelosi Backs Two Ferries for Berkeley


I wanted to bring to your attention our latest Pork Alert highlighting wasteful earmarks that were included in the fiscal year 2011 Department of Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development (THUD) Appropriations Act.  One of the earmarks that we highlighted was for acquisition of two ferries for a new ferry service in Berkeley that was requested by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.):



"$500,000 by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) for a new ferry service in Berkeley.  According to Rep. Pelosi’s website, these funds would be used for the acquisition of two ferries, which would come equipped with solar panels.  In this instance, going green wastes the taxpayers’ greenbacks."



MacMillin Slobodien


Citizens Against Government Waste


Washington, DC




Post-Verdict Riots




The 3 or so rallies-turned-riotous that have occurred since the killing of Oscar Grant have a couple of things in common from my perspective. First, the masses--especially last week--of cops gathered to keep order magically couldn't or wouldn't prevent vandalism and looting of stores of innocent merchants in downtown Oakland, who have had to foot the recovery bill each time. Since so "few" vandals were involved, and since the trashing took place in the same confined area, why couldn't the OPD have learned something from the earlier 2 events and been ready, instead of massing their troops some blocks away?


Second, about these "white professional out-of-town anarchist inciters", as they have been characterized by Chief Batts (and his predecessor): could he be using this coded term to refer to some Berkeley citizens, who seem to invite glib categorization? Since he apparently knows their places of origin, they must be return guests. If so, why were they not severely dealt with before, ie, told not to return? I don't recall the First Amendment guaranteeing the right to non-peaceful assembly, which is what each of these events predictably became.


The formalities of protest developed since the 60s--placards, slogans, sieg-heiling fashionably angry speakers (some with real titles!), chants ("Hey hey, ho ho.." is especially annoying), overtime cops ($$$) and adjournments to riot have become sooo lame. A prime reason for working for an optimate world is to see an end to such predictable and tiresome displays. Any ideas, readers?




Phil Allen 








The Oakland police chief and commercial media blame the violence and trashing following the demos protesting the light verdict in the Oscar Grant case on "anarchists". I’m getting sick and tired of this kind of blame game. I see the trashers more as nihilists or angry people prone to violence than as anarchists, whose ideal of human freedom is the most beautiful in the world. Most anarchists I know and read about believe in a non-authoritarian, un-coercive world of cooperation and mutual aid for community in which all share and participate for a better life. We oppose hierarchy and domination whether by state or corporation. We may never realize those goals but do try to live by the means and values of the ends we'd like to see realized. Mayhem is not a part of it.




 Harry Siitonen




The Post-Reagan Era




"It just boggles me to hear people say and write: The post-Reagan era encompassed one of the greatest economic expansions in history, without, yet, realizing that a synonym for expansion is to bubble and that it was the bursting of that unregulated, unmonitored bubble that brought on the economic misery we are in today, paying for that alleged “greatest economic expansion in history.”


Keith Kreitman


When Ronald Reagan became president, he brought into the office something that had been lacking in the previous three administrations: confidence. His programs were innovative (to be sure), and he was an eloquent orator. Simply put, Americans (in general) trusted his leadership, and he capitalized on that.


"Reaganomics" instituted sweeping tax cuts, particularly for the upper-income taxpayers. The Reagan advisers assessed (correctly I believe) that more money in the hands of those with a surplus would be reinvested in the economy. The American economy boomed for nearly eight years, but President Reagan left the White House having bloated our economy with debt. The largest deficits in the history of any economy (nearly $2.2 trillion) were accumulated during the longest period of uninterrupted economic growth.


"He's a warmonger, he's a militarist, he's rash and he's going to get us into a war"--so the people voted for him! They voted for war! Definitely a vote for rearmament, a vote for war, a vote for do something about the hostages, a vote for do something about the economy, a vote against high taxes, a vote for cutting taxes. All the things that Reagan has promised to do were things that you can see now the American people were in the mood for and are popular issues but in the end it lead to bankruptcy today!




Ted Rudow II,MA




Arizona Cracks Down Again


It appears Arizona is not done cracking down on unsavory characters. Upcoming legislation (tongue in cheek) calls for many harsh new changes and a number of new groups police will be able to stop and detain on sight.


These groups include: Scandinavians with exceptional mechanical knowledge of Saab automobiles; Those with IQs between 70 and 79 which is considered "borderline" and has the word border in it; people who may have voted for the "dark-skinned fellow" for president; parents who had a pinata at their child's last birthday. You get my drift.


There are too many dark-complexioned people who are legal citizens that are going to be stopped and if anyone of them does something stupid (like reach down in their car to get their proof of identity), someone is going to get shot and killed.


In the larger scheme of things Arizona's "one state" law is unconstitutional and targets a whole segment of society who don't look white, Asian or Afro-American.


If you have dark skin would you want to vacation in Arizona and be singled out for no other reason than how you look? This law smacks of 50's racial segregation.  




Ron Lowe




The Walls Came Tumbling Down


If you happened to be in the vicinity of Berkeley Way and Shattuck Avenue last week, you undoubtedly observed the bleak shell of an abandoned building, bearing an eerie resemblance to World War II bombed out structures in London.  That forlorn building would be the former California State Department of Public Health, which for several decades provided valuable health advice and service to all Californians.  Ah, but that was before then-Governor Ronald Reagan, in his infinite wisdom, decided to relocate the Health Department to Sacramento, with only a few laboratories remaining in the Berkeley building.


My first job upon arriving in Berkeley was with this Health Department, where I worked in the Health Education Services Film Library, booking instructional films to schools, hospitals and individual borrowers. I had several friends who were Health Educators, making field trips to various regions throughout the state (i.e., giving much needed advice on nutrition and sanitation to migratory field workers in the Central Valley.)  For most of these Health Educators the move to Sacramento was a great personal sacrifice, and they were understandably very unhappy at being forced to leave their home and friends in the Bay Area.  I didn't have to make that painful move; I simply quit my job and went to work at the University of California.


This afternoon, on impulse, I  drove past Berkeley Way only to discover that the Health Department had  been totally demolished—reduced to rubble.  I lingered at the site, thinking back to the six years I had worked there and I must admit that nostalgia swept over me as I bid farewell to that once proud building that had served the community so well.


Dorothy Snodgrass




Planning to Plan Downtown


I appreciate what the majority on the Berkeley City Council is doing regarding the downtown plan. I always plan to plan before I plan, so that my planning can incorporate not only the planning of the plan, but the plan to plan the planning of the plan, at which point the planning of the planning of the plan's plan is well organized and resembles a well-planned plan for a plan.


Carol Denney




Coal Kills


We must get off of coal it is by far the dirtiest fuel. The mining and burning of coal has killed more people than all other forms of energy combined.


Frank Ackerman




Mayor's proposed Downtown Area Plan ballot measure


Here's my counter proposal to the mayor's proposed Downtown Area Plan ballot measure.




"Adopt an Action Plan that calls for all citizens of Berkeley to be happy, ( thus) making Berkeley one of the happiest cities in the United States."


Jurgen Aust, AICP






Kenneth Thiesen’s 2008 Opinion


I just read the article as I ran across the link while reading a current story.  Had I read this when current, I would have really given this asshole an earful.  Hopefully this prick has moved to another country by now.  Reminds me of an old Merle Haggard song… The Fightin Side of me.  This asshole Thiesen should listen to it and be very happy that’s he’s far..far away from Chicago and my neck of the woods.


 Donald C. Walls, Jr.


Mount Prospect, Illinois


Sergeant USMC 79-83




Feminists for Life


Ruth Rosen has many interesting insights into why women dominate the Tea Party. But her characterization of Feminists for Life's work is, to use one of her phrases, cleverly disingenuous.


First of all, I never gave Rosen a statement about taxes or government subsidies. Second, her statements are just plain wrong.  In fact, Feminists for Life worked with other women's organizations to achieve legislative victories for women, including the Violence Against Women Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, and enhanced child support enforcement. Feminists for Life was the first to advocate for the inclusion of pregnant women in the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. We are proud to have helped secure critical votes for these historic pieces of legislation, which have improved the lives of women and children. 


Today we continue to work in coalition with East Bay Community Law Center and many other advocates for the poor to fight the welfare "family cap" and other child exclusion provisions that make it more difficult for impoverished women to choose to parent their children.


Furthermore, while FFL has worked to bring attention to the needs of birthmothers, our track record clearly indicates that we equally support the needs of married, single, or partnered parents as well as those parents who ultimately choose to make an adoption plan. Most recently, our advocacy for on-campus resource centers for parents and birthmothers helped lead to the inclusion of such resource centers in the health care reform legislation. Readers can easily find this and more factual information about FFL at


Because women deserve better,


Serrin M. Foster




Feminists for Life of America