Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

Tuesday August 10, 2010 - 12:22:00 PM

Where Are the Black American Men? Ex-H-P CEO Mark Hurd;Libraries and the Proposed Changes;RPP Renewals; Truth Will Out;“Most Americans seem to view those who are mentally ill as a bit less than real human beings”; Jack Bragen on Schizophrenia  

Where Are the Black American Men

I wonder if anyone else has noticed, especially in Berkeley of all of the road construction and property construction going on within the past year, the workers have not been the men of the Berkeley community, specifically Black American men, but foreigners, specifically Mexican men. Why is this? 

Sure, economically, things are bad for people, but why in your own city a Black man who is more than qualified can't work on the same roads they drive and walk on and work in the buildings that they pass everyday? 

Just recently, I was watching several viable, experienced, unemployed Black men standing on Sacramento St and Ashby Ave watching an outside contractor (white) with his foreign (non-English speaking) construction workers repaving Sacramento Street. 



Robbynn Ways 


Ex-H-P CEO Mark Hurd 

Wow, a $28 million severance package for ex-Hewlett-Packard CEO Mark Hurd, who was ousted for sexual harassment and falsifying expense accounts and other documents. Who says bad conduct doesn't pay and pay big? I wonder if the H-P stockholders feel outrage? 


Ralph E. Stone 


Libraries and the Proposed Changes  

There have been several commentaries raising questions about changes to the branch libraries. So far the questions posed by Peter Warfield and BAHA are unanswered. There is a fundamental problem in reducing book space for computer space. Unless we change the definition of libraries, they exist for making books available to would-be readers. If they are going to also be computer centers, then the public needs to get into this conversation and consider where the funding for that addition will come from. Books and computers can enhance the nature of each "technology", but not if one has to be diminished. My next question is, if two library branches really have to demolished where does the money come from to do that? Not Library Bond measure FF. 

Elise White 


RPP Renewals  

I don’t understand why, every single year, the Department of Finance is caught unawares that RPP renewals have to be processed, and extensions are granted. (Becky, sorry about your ticket.) Are they surprised? Does no one know that RPPs come up for renewal every year at the same time?  

A couple of decades ago, California automobile registration was due on every car in the state on the same date – I think it was November 1. Then, the DMV smartened up (!!) and instituted the monthly renewal system we have now, so that there was no longer the huge wave of renewals. Maybe, just maybe, Berkeley could do the same. “A” could be renewed in January, “B” in February, etc. Why not? Maybe, just maybe, some folks in the Finance Department have to work a lot of overtime to process all of the renewals. Maybe, just maybe, they like the extra money from the overtime.  

Peter Shelton 


Truth Will Out  

I was quite dismayed when I read in the July 20 article about the Berkeley City Council District 7 race a statement made by George Beier that is quite simply not true. This is the quote: "There was a murder in the Ana Head parking lot, no mention of that" at the July City Council meeting. 

If one watches the video of that meeting one can clearly observe Councilmember Kriss Worthington mentioning this in quite a bit of detail. He asked for the meeting to be adjourned in memory of Nicholas Bailey, the victim, a Sacramento State student and athlete. Worthington also spoke of his efforts to ensure that the Berkeley Police Department would put extra effort into investigating this case, along with the UC Police, who are the primary contacts since the body was found on UC property. 

Councilmember Worthington also mentioned attending the funeral and his being touched by the overflow crowd at the cemetery and by the deep feelings expressed by Nick's friends. Furthermore, Worthington talked of his conversation with the family of the victim about working together to ensure true justice for Nicholas Bailey. He also stated that he has received assurances from the Berkeley City Manager that the city government will stay on top of this investigation. 

This a far cry, to say the least, from Beier's claiming "no mention" of the murder. I am appalled that this tragedy could be politicized in this way and that anything other than the truth is being stated regarding it. As a 32 year resident of District 7, I urge all candidates to maintain a dignified campaign, and to speak only the truth about issues and about each other 

David Joseph 


Most Americans seem to view those who are mentally ill as a bit less than real human beings.”  

Well now... 

It is difficult to speak for most Americans, but I think you err. Most of us are pretty darn nice folk. I will agree with you to this degree: We tend to find some language and stick to it well past its actual lifetime. Your article was actually not about "us," " the " mentally ill, it was about a picture of "us" that remains very entertaining. I do not know your age, but you might want to visit one of the Marx Brothers' movies, where you will see an illustration of "the" Blacks that is equally "entertaining." Well, no, it is not. Not any longer. 

No I am not offended by the "picture" you presented, I accept that it is your view, but I was not offended by the one the Marx Brothers presented in their movie. Late in life I learned how false it was, how much harm it had done. Then I was offended. Don't wait that long. 

Those of us who have a mental illness ("have" is accurate), are a varied as those of you who do not. I am sure you know that, your words simply do not accurately reflect your knowledge. 

Harold A. Maio, retired Mental Health Editor 

Ft Myers, Florida 


Jack Bragen on Schizophrenia  

Jack Bragen on schizophrenia is one of the invaluable voices that are a gift to us from the BDP. We all squirm with discomfort and sometimes irrational fear when we see and hear a mentally ill street person, or when we read that one result of de-institutionalization has been the in-and-out occupancy of jail cells by sick people. Good liberals all, we don't want to lock sick people up or force mind-numbing "treatment" on them, but we don't want to witness or think about an illness that exhibits itself as unattractive behavior. In some cases, we blame alcoholism, when it may just be that many ill people find self-medicating with alcohol preferable to the ghastly side effects and deeper numbing of prescription drugs.  

Throughout human history (according to what little I've read) about one percent of human beings world wide (and that's a lot of people) have suffered from mental illness that is labeled (and the labels change all the time: dementia praecox becomes schizophrenia; manic depressives becomes bi-polar disorder) but not diagnosed--as if we were labeling a disease “spots all over" instead of diagnosing measles, chicken-pox, or an allergy.  

Occasionally a drug, or a period of talk therapy, or a stay in a hospital, or a change of diet or job or surroundings, or something else, may alleviate or end symptoms, but we don't really know much about cause or cure. Mr. Bragen probably represents the majority of the chronically mentally ill, who get by, and carefully hide out during occasional flare-ups. For good reasons, both social and economic, these people rarely have the courage to speak out so clearly and rationally and honestly about their episodes of delusion. (If you're like me, you always checked the NO box on the job application, never mentioning the occasional three a.m. insomniac thoughts about whether life was worth the trouble. And if you ever spent a week in a psychiatric facility, you'd keep that as secret from your employer as you would a criminal conviction.)  

Of course, we will tolerate the occasional brain storms of Virginia Woolfe or Van Gogh--even accept them as part of their genius. But you shouldn’t have to be a genius to be accepted despite a chronic illness. Mr. Bragen educates us by writing clearly, cogently, and very well indeed about a health problem he suffers from, now and then, yet, like many people, evidently manages to cope with pretty well in a world where few "normal" people enjoy clear sailing.  

Dorothy Bryant