Whatever Became of the General Welfare?

By Becky O'Malley
Wednesday April 13, 2011 - 12:12:00 PM

Editorials are supposed to provide answers, but this week all we have for you is questions. What in the name of heaven has happened to (1) this country and (2) this generation?

In the not too distant past, it was assumed by almost everyone that providing respectable free public education was a central responsibility of government. Not only that, it was taken for granted that citizens would pool their resources using the tax system to provide parks both national and local, art museums, swimming pools, zoos—you name it. When I was growing up in St. Louis and California we had all those amenities and more.

Now the concept introduced in the preamble to the Constitution of “promoting the general Welfare” seems to have evaporated, or at least shrunk to unrecognizable dimensions. This is not a Liberal vs. Conservative or Democrat vs. Republican question: It’s much broader than that, and much more serious. -more-


Cartoon Page: Odd Bodkins, BOUNCE

Tuesday April 12, 2011 - 11:17:00 PM

Public Comment

Seismic Safety for Berkeley Students?

By Priscilla Myrick
Wednesday April 13, 2011 - 11:07:00 AM

Recent news reports have highlighted investigations by California Watch on the shocking number of California K-12 schools that are NOT certified as earthquake resistant under the Field Act. As a Berkeley resident I felt confident that the hundreds of millions of dollars in school construction bonds that Berkeley taxpayers are financing had been appropriately spent in making sure that our kids are being taught in properly designed classrooms. -more-

Celebrating Passover at the Post Office on Tax Day (First Person)

Rabbi Sara Shendelman
Monday April 11, 2011 - 04:44:00 PM

In every civilization there are great days on which history turns. In the spring my two cultures come together on a great day of liberation. One day, Passover, reminds of freedom, that we came out as millions fleeing the slavery to a system which took the fruits of our labor. The other, April 15th, is the day our taxes are due with the government taking the fruits of our labor.

I celebrate both full out. At the beginning of April each year there are two simultaneous things happening in my home. There is madcap cleaning, with a list on the fridge of the many jobs and the family members assigned to them. And there is also me, at the computer working with the tallies and receipts which I always wish were done earlier by my spouse every year, so these two stressful events weren’t happening simultaneously. -more-

A Game of Chicken Coming Home to Roost

By Bruce Joffe
Tuesday April 12, 2011 - 09:48:00 PM

The Republicans certainly got my attention today. I kept checking the internet to see if the government was going to shut down or remain functioning. I learned that their original demand for $30 Billion cuts in government services was agreed to by the Democrats (without closing corporate tax loopholes that enable General Electric to pay zero tax on profits of billions). So the Republicans upped their demand to $61 Billion. The Democrats gave in to $39 Billion (with no estate tax on the super-rich's progeny). Since Democrats were still willing to compromise, the Republicans went "for broke" and insisted on cutting health care for low income women (using Planned Parenthood as the symbol). Now, yes finally NOW, the Democrats are offering some resistance to this insane schoolyard game of chicken. -more-

Why Architectural and Historic Death Sentences for Berkeley Public Library’s South and West BranchesShould be Rejected by ZAB and LPC -- Vote Scheduled Thursday, April 14, 2011

By Peter Warfield, Library Users' Association
Tuesday April 12, 2011 - 09:47:00 PM
The original facade of the West Branch library

An architectural and historic death sentence for two of Berkeley Public Library’s excellent branch library buildings -- demolition with replacement by new buildings -- is scheduled to be considered at a joint meeting of two Berkeley city bodies Thursday, April 14, 2011, and we think it would be a shame to condemn these two buildings to irreversible oblivion. -more-

Berkeley Library's Children: A Junior U.N.

By Dorothy Snodgrass
Tuesday April 12, 2011 - 08:59:00 PM

When attending Debbie Carton's Wednesday class, "Playreading for Adults" at the Berkeley Public Library, I take an elevator to the Fourth Floor, which happens to be the Children's Room. What a delightful spot that is, with infants and toddlers literally crawling all over the place. The main attraction of that room, adored by the children, is a gaudily decorated space ship, generally with a two or three year-old "astronaut" sitting in the cockpit, aiming the ship for a flight into outer space. -more-

Dangerous Construction Practices for UC Project in Berkeley

By Robert Lynch
Wednesday April 13, 2011 - 04:07:00 PM

I sent to Rudolf and Sletten's (general contractor for a UC Berkeley project) contact email: general_questions@rsconst.com the following message:

Subject: Traffic to and from construction site between Oxford St. and Shattuck Ave. Berkeley

I walk almost every day in Berkeley. The large trucks servicing your UC Berkeley construction site between Oxford St. and Shattuck Ave. Berkeley drive in a most reckless and pedestrian-endangering way. -more-

Transit Planning and Unplanning

By Charles Siegel
Tuesday April 12, 2011 - 09:33:00 PM

Doug Buckwald writes (Daily Planet, April 6,2011) that my support for bus rapid transit is not consistent with my opposition to top-down planning in my book Unplanning: Livable Cities and Political Choices. I am glad he has read the book, but I am afraid he does not understand it completely. -more-

Secondary Opinion on the Safeway Project

By Tad Laird.
Wednesday April 13, 2011 - 04:05:00 PM

I feel that the commentary written but Mr. Buttrick on the 5th that reduces the Safeway remodeling to a question of “walkability” does a great disservice to the many factors at play in this heavily developed urban neighborhood, and needs another perspective. Since the comparison he draws are between Piedmont, Temescal and College, lets use those locations – even though I think only College has a major grocery store. -more-