Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

Tuesday September 07, 2010 - 12:28:00 PM

Innocent Man on Death Row; Religious Communities Support Tolerance; More Firing, More Pay for CEOs; Celebrating the Demise of the BDP; Goodbye and Good Riddance; KPFA; Tea Party Racism; 


Innocent Man on Death Row 

Troy Anthony Davis of Georgia is on death row for the 1991 shooting death of police officer Mark McPhail—a murder which I believe Davis did not commit. My understanding is that seven prosecution witnesses in Davis' initial trial later recanted or contradicted their testimony. Many of them have stated in sworn affidavits that they were coerced by police into testifying or signing statements against Davis. No physical evidence links Davis to the crime; the murder weapon was never found. The survivors of the shooting, Michael Cooper and Larry Young, deny knowing who their attacker was. Nine people have signed affidavits implicating another man, Sylvester "Red" Coles, as the culprit. 

Davis’ most recent appeal failed to resolve the doubts regarding his alleged guilt. Sylvester Coles never testified at the appeal. Federal Judge William T. Moore questioned the credibility of the defense witnesses, even though their original testimony put Davis on death row. 

Since 1973, over one hundred people on death row have been exonerated for wrongful convictions; some spent over ten years behind bars. Mistakes and improprieties have occurred before in death penalty cases. I believe they occurred in Davis’ case. He should not be executed for another person’s crimes. 

David B. Mitchell 


Religious Communities Support Tolerance 

A church in Gainesville, Florida plans to burn Qur’ans on September 11. Other hate crimes against Muslims have been in the news. The proposed mosque and Islamic Community Center in Manhattan has been met with fear and anger. On the weekend of September 11, our congregation will join with many religious communities in Gainesville and across the country in reading in our services from the Qur’an. May quieter voices of religious tolerance, acceptance, and understanding prevail. Peace will only come to the world when people can see and affirm the insights of neighboring religions. 

Revs. Bill and Barbara Hamilton-Holway 

Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley 



More Firing, More Pay for CEOs 

A new study from the Institute of Policy Studies shows that CEOs who fired the most workers during the recession took home the highest pay. According to that study, the CEOs of the fifty corporations responsible for the biggest layoffs were paid an average $12 million—42 percent more than the average pay for the Standard & Poor’s 500. 

One, Mark Hurd at Hewlett-Packard was fired a couple of weeks ago. He was fired because he tried to conceal a relationship with a female contractor. Hurd who has laid off more than 30,000 workers at Hewlett-Packard over the last few years, while earning more than $20 million a year. The real scandal at Hewlett-Packard is they might boost their profits in the short term by cutting all of those costs, but I want to point out that these kinds of layoffs can have very serious long-term costs for the company. 

It is a sad story as Hewlett-Packard has dismantled many things that made the company a cut above. I had the chance to meet Mr. Hewlett as he gave to Project Aid-Siberia in the 1990s. He helped millions of people who were without food. 

From the very beginning, Hewlett-Packard had a way of doing things that was contrary to the prevailing management strategies. A companywide commitment to involvement. It will be sorely missed as profit has taken over. 

Ted Rudow III,MA 

Celebrating the Demise of the BDP 

For the record, I was invited to a dinner in Oakland to celebrate the BDP demise. I was unable to attend, but some fifty or so people were invited. There is great joy in the larger Jewish community over not seeing the BDP on the street. Certainly, this is not true of the Jews you know, but even in Berkeley they are on the community's periphery. Perhaps, you should evaluate your obsession with Jews. Your attitude toward Jews reminds me of that of George H. W. Bush, and others who were reared amid the privilege and ethnic isolation of the Protestant establishment. Bush (pere) would never have considered himself an anti-Semite, and the word as applied to him would be harsh. His anti-Semitism was inadvertent, saying and doing things, even in meetings, that derived from a pathetic ignorance rather than from venality. Unintentionally, he made the case for rearing children in an ethnically diverse atmosphere. I guess you too suffer from the same upbringing. You really should give it some thought. We are all products of our socialization. You can take the girl out of the country club, but can you really take the country club out of the woman? 

Abraham H. Miller
Walnut Creek


[Editor’s Note: For the record, I am not now nor have I ever been a Protestant (some of my best friends are Protestants, but I don’t hold it against them.) I am not now nor have I ever been a member of a country club (but some of my Jewish friends have invited me to theirs on occasion). I lived for much of my childhood in a predominantly Jewish neighborhood, as I do now. I would never live in Walnut Creek—much too whitebread for me, much too lacking in ethnic diversity.] 

Goodbye and Good Riddance 

Dear Ms. O’Malley: 

Here is a copy of a letter which I wrote to Marc Klein of the Jweekly regarding reporter Dan Pine’s column. 

re: Goodbye and Good Riddance: To the print edition of the flagrantly anti-Zionist Berkeley Daily Planet (the web version lives on). This rag still rags on Israel all the time, and its editor doesn’t have the cojones to admit she flat-out hates the Jewish state.] 

Dear Mr. Klein: 

Columnist Dan Pine hit the nail on the head by reporting on the welcome death of the Berkeley Daily Planet which published weekly anti-Israel editorials and letters on a weekly basis. Publisher and editor, Becky O’Malley, is addicted to Israel bashing and the Berkeley residents celebrated by having a champagne party on hearing of the BDP’s demise. 

O’Malley has big cojones! 

Sanne DeWitt 



Matthew Hallinan distorts the financial situation at Pacifica KPFA radio in his opinion piece of August 25, 2010. 

If you want to hear what Hallinan knows about the Pacifica/KPFA budget, hear him in the recording from the candidate forum last Saturday in San Francisco (online soon or now at, check the KPFA section.). He admitted there, videotaped, that he knew almost nothing about finances; that he relied on conflicted-of-interest and figures-hiding treasurer Brian Edwards Tiekert for his information. 

One of the distortions Hallinan carries into print never-the-less, despite his acknowledged ignorance, is his forgetting to say that the Pacifica Network whopping chunk of change he notes goes overwhelmingly to pay the benefits of the staff at the various stations such as KPFA's. KPFA has had more paid staff than all the other stations combined, or close to it, since the Concerned Listener/SaveKPFA (name appropriated from those who actually did save it) had a majority on both the local and national boards. Yes, that large Pacifica-held percentage of the dough is the money that pays for the benefits of staff such as Brian Edwards Tiekert. Brian knows that; Hallinan may even know that. 

And to stave off the next lie: NO one credible is calling for an all-volunteer staff, or even to rid the station of long-term staff. We would like them simply to invite in and mentor sparkling new voices on the air, and to support and even create more community connection in these dire times. There's an excellent example of what happens when 2 people control all the news at by longtime staff member Robbie Osman. Please listen to on-air forums (see for the dates and times) and community forums and hear ALL candidates before you vote. 

Virginia Browning

Tea Party Racism 

Don't tell me the Tea Party movement has nothing to do with racism. A year and a half ago, before the advent of our first president of color took office, there was no Tea Party. 

We all saw the white Tea Party agitators disrupting the Town Hall meetings. The recent Glen Beck Tea Party rally, preaching values, had an overwhelmingly white crowd. The utter hypocrisy of the Tea Party movement is glaring. 

A recent polling found that 88% of Tea Partiers had a profound dislike for President Obama. Other polls have found there is an all-consuming hatred of Obama among Tea Party members; and another poll found that a large majority (74%) of Tea Partiers consider themselves to be Christian. Aren't Christians the ones who proclaim Jesus is the Lord of love? Did Jesus preach and teach hatred like many of our Tea Party brethren? 

Whose Values?Glen Beck's rally at the Lincoln Memorial was predicated on values. Just whose values are they? Are they values inclusive to all Americans? No! The values at Beck's rally are the mainstay of anti-abortionists, anti-gay and anti-immigration factions. 

Beck and other Tea Party speakers preached restoring honor, a return to times gone by. Mr. Beck claimed the legacy of our forefathers. If they could watch Beck's show they would vomit. 

Restoring honor to who! Honor to the overwhelmingly white crowd; to an out of touch conservative movement; to a 'do nothing' Republican Party; to anti-Muslim bigotry; to a thinly veiled racism that exists in the Tea Party movement. Where was the honor for diversity that is America? Tea Party activists, fringe elements and xenophobes don't express ideals and values for the country, they express a point of view that is limited in scope and reach and to themselves. 

The rally also pressed for "taking back the country." If these are the people who are going to take back the country, we're in deep do-do. 

Ron Lowe