Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

Wednesday April 27, 2011 - 08:03:00 AM

Tax Refunds Held by City of Berkeley; Library Lawsuit; Worth Repeating: Democracy; School Project Query; Curiosity; Confidence Game; Republicans; Budget 

Tax Refunds Held by City of Berkeley 

T’m just wondering if you have received information about the City of Berkeley attaching peoples’ tax returns for parking violations even after those citations had been paid off? I paid off my parking citation to the City of Berkeley in November and $156 was still deducted from my state income tax refund in March. Since that time it has been like pulling teeth to get the over-payment refunded to me. Even though the City’s records showed I had paid the citation, they made me send in all back up documentation, which I did right away. Today I was told it would take another 4-6 weeks to receive reimbursement of the overpaid/collected $156. When I call they just seem to push the issue under the carpet and keep making excuses as to why I am being reimbursed the over-collection. It would seem that someone from the City should have notified the collection agency they hired when payment were received rather than the collection agency proceeding with collecting debts that had been paid in full from tax refunds. I am a single working mother and should certainly be entitled to my own tax refund rather than the City of Berkeley holding onto money not owed to them. I just wonder how many other people have run into this issue and how much money the City of Berkeley is sitting on rather than reimbursing the over-payments. 

Pam Dahl 

Library Lawsuit 

Patti Dacey writes that charges of racism are being thrown around in the discussion of the library lawsuit.
Her reference to racism is the first time I've seen the word used in this context. Let's not try to make it look
like something is happening that isn't. The plaintiff is not racist, but the lawsuit may have the same effect.

Linda Schacht 

Worth Repeating 

Tom Del Beccaro, California Republican Party chairman said, "We're going to bring this state closer together." What, with Republican and Tea Party anti-abortion, anti-gay and anti-tax crusades? With budget cuts to services for the elderly, poor and needy, who are already living hand to mouth? By more tax cuts to the uber-rich who are already insulated from the rest of society? 

How can a mostly white, pseudo-religious and conservative party, that brooks no difference, unite with the rest of California that is young at heart, racially diverse and open minded? This looks like more smoke and mirrors from fraternity who sees dwindling support for its archaic and mean-spirited policies. Where is the common ground? 

Ron Lowe  

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As the conventional wisdom goes – especially in the West – Israel is the "only democracy" in the Middle East. And that is so, particularly for its Jewish citizens. However Israel has been anything but democratic for the indigenous people of the land, the Palestinian Arabs. By nature and precedence, foreign military occupation is temporary. Colonialism on the other hand, and more precisely civilian colonization, is a socio-political system of ruling over another people. 

Israel is really a police state. If they don't put you in jail, they at least put you out of your job for saying anything they don't want you to say. They claim they don't have censorship--Possession is nine-tenths of the law. Occupancy is very difficult to overcome and Israel has already got the Palestinians' land. 

The only way they will ever give it up is if they're thrown out. There is no other way that they'll ever give back the Palestinians their share of the land. It's encouraging to see how divided the Jews are amongst themselves, "A house divided against itself shall not stand."- 

The Palestinians are a lot more together than any of them, at least they're united--the Christians and Arabs. I'm glad to see a lot of the Jews are sympathizing with the Arabs. 

Ted Rudow III, MA 

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School Project Query 

We are a group of four Berkeley High Seniors who are interested in getting the word out about our Senior Project. For your general information, the Senior Project is considered to be one of the more important final pieces of collaborated and intensely thought out work students produce near the end of their high school experience. Our project is a full-scale guide and interview manual of Berkeley High and life in Berkeley. We are intending on making this a full-scale publication and have it published, even after the deadline of the assignment. Lucian Novosel, closely related to Jim Novosel, was the brainchild of this idea. We are attempting to interview various classes at Berkeley High, the Berkeley High Administration and even the Security Guards to get a wide berth of information. We are wondering if you would be able to make a short news post about this on your site, so that we have a reliable source of promotion and also so that we can see if some of the community of Berkeley would be interested in perhaps being interviewed by one of us about the city so that they can be credited in our project. We're really looking forward to our project and to be able to do something for the city that's educated us for practically our whole lives. Please consider us and let us know what you think. Thank you!- 

Muhammad Khan, Emiliano Ruiz, Rina Li, Lucian Novosel. 

* * * 


If I could have what I wished for I would want all children to keep their curiosity. They would be eager to discover things and eager to turn their vision into reality. When will our lawmakers understand the value of the creativity of young minds? When will they feel happy about allocating enough money to help young people become scientists, doctors, social workers and educators? In the current hurry to balance the budget lawmakers have forgotten about the needs of our youngest citizens. They tell us to be self dependent and find the solution ourselves. But I wonder how three year olds can be finding their way or how they can be left alone to look after themselves. Require them to practice fiscal responsibility at this age? What happened to common kindness? Young children need attentive teachers and safe environments in which to learn. How do we expect educational standards to Improve without giving young children the opportunity to learn from well-educated teachers? Let us think about investing in children first. Our keenest self interest lies in creating capable and thoughtful citizens of the America of the future. 

Romila Khanna 

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Confidence Game 

The cycle of recession and rebound is what you would call a confidence game, perpetrated by the biggest con man and swindler. He has succeeded very well, and the economic world has a false foundation today, a paper one, which could go up in smoke if the right match were applied to it. They seek to trick and swindle as many people as possible. 

Accord to the Wall Street Journal, hedge funds are bounding back, with return-hungry investors pumping up the industry to a size not seen since before the financial crisis laid it low. Total hedge-fund assets are approaching $2 trillion and are soon expected to surpass their peak in early 2008, according to industry analysts. .The resurrection of hedge funds, which invest money for wealthy individuals, pension funds and other large investors, marks yet another sign that the effects of the financial crisis are receding." 

So, little by little, the skeptics are won over to invest their funds, to take a chance on making more money. And there is a rebound, for there are still people to be convinced that things will keep going up—indeed, must keep going up. And one day, the downturn will become another recession, the recession will become a depression, and the depression will become another Crash. 

Ted Rudow III, MA 

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Do you remember the 8 years of the Bush presidency, with White House spokesman Ari Fleischer saying, "People should watch what they say?" There was the Patriot Act, the weakening of habeas corpus, stolen elections, and dissent was characterized as treason by the Bush administration. 

From illegal wiretaps, the unlawful imprisonment of American citizens, and the creeping influence of religious extremism at the highest levels of the U.S. government, we saw it all. 

Is that what you want again? Do you think Republicans have changed one iota except to become worse? The GOP, and its joined at the hip sidekicks the Tea Party, will do anything to regain power and the White House in 2012. 

That includes derailing the economy. We're already seeing Republicans using budget cuts at the federal and state levels, trying to suck the life out of the improving economy. 

Ron Lowe  

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I am not sure who came out on top in the budget negotiations. The Democrats blamed the Republicans for threatening to shut down the government, but the Democrats should have passed a budget before the fiscal year began on October 1st when they had a majority on both houses of Congress. Republicans supposedly were trying to cut government spending and help the economy, but if they had indeed shut down the government, it would have damaged our economy. The shutdowns in late 1995 and early 1996 cost the government more than $1.4 billion to repay salaries of employees on furlough, lost national park and museum fees, etc. In short, the budget war reflects incompetence and cowardice. As Will Rogers said, "This country has come to feel the same when Congress is in session as when the baby gets hold of a hammer.

Ralph E. Stone