Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

By Ben H.Bagdikian, Joan Levinson, Terry Cochrell, Estelle Jelinek, Ron Lowe
Tuesday May 17, 2011 - 10:35:00 PM

Stop Zell Threats to Downtown Ace Hardware; Monterey Market; BP Lab Site and Global Warming; Warm Pool Construction Displaces Disabled Users; Civil Rights; Tea Party Threatens Health Care 

Stop Zell Threats to Downtown Ace Hardware 

A Mr. Zell (of notorious ChiTrib-LATimes buyout with loss of major national quality news) plans to buy Ace Hardware at Ashby and Shattuck.. 

Mr. Zell plans to tear it down and build yet another apt-condo complex. 

The city has a surplus of condos, some unsold (ask Mr. Gordon), but no full service hardware unless you drive to Orchard near University Avenue,15 miles from most housing. 

The Ace Hardware Mr. Zell plans to close is never empty and keeps its well-trained staff as advisors and leaders to the right aisle and shelf. Its electric dept is unrivalled in equipment and advice. Same for almost every part of the store. 

The closest store that comes even close is Orchard Hardware, about 15 miles from the Ashby-Claremont neighborhoods and lacks the staff of technical advisors similar to Ace. 

I hope enough people in the Berkeley-Oakland area insist that the Berkeley City Council deny Mr. Zell a use permit. 

Ben H.Bagdikian. 

* * * 

Monterey Market 

After Gar Smith's article last week I went for my weekly gathering of the goodies in our beloved neighborhood pillar. I knew that the management of the store had changed hands from the long-time amiable Fujimoto couple and that a relative of theirs was now in charge. What I did not know until I talked to another Hopkins Ave store owner was that the nephew of the former owners was a youngish, inexperienced and rather callous nephew of theirs who has changed the atmospherics of our green grocery. 

When the cut flowers started to appear a couple of months ago, I welcomed the stand outside the 'shed' as a wonderful way to start the shopping expedition. I noted that the displayed veggies have been changing to make a bit more logical placement. And new items appeared all the time -- cakes, more wine shelves, more variety of cheese and other goodies. And then Sunday store hours. 

Well, it turns out that the people whose houses are right next to the parking lot are not all that happy about seven days a week of noise, some of the food prices have gone up considerably (mostly probably because that is happening everywhere). But the worst thing is that several of the Hopkins stores are suffering significantly -- Country Cheese, Magnani's meat, the liquor store. 

Monterey Market is copying Safeway. We do not want a Safeway in our delightful neighborhood. It is an oasis of civility, quality products, friendly stores, easy conversation -- in a word "homey." We do not want this block to become a series of empty windows. MONEY IS NOT EVERYTHING. 

If others feel the same way as I do please voice your concerns to the management and return quickly to a more harmonious shopping experience! 

Joan Levinson 

* * * 

BP Lab Site and Global Warming 

It is clear that the siting of a new Lab was a well thought out project and if we hadn't just experienced the BP oil rig accident in the Gulf of Mexico and the Fukushima nuclear blow-up in Japan, it would be reasonable. 

BUT we did just see that there is great danger of spillage, explosions, con-tamination of surrounding waters, drowned thousands, and the ever possible event of things just going wrong. 

In the face of these recent catastrophes that have unknowable results, should the University not reconsider the siting of the new Lab -- just in case the ocean and the bay do rise the predicted possible 18 inches or more on the edge of our waters? 

Joan Levinson 

* * * 

Warm Pool Construction Displaces Disabled Users 

Superintendent Jack McLaughlin, his warm-pool users’ committee including me, and the police department worked on disabled parking near BHS warm-pool including signs along fencing at former softball field, some of which disappeared when portables were emplaced, without notice to pool users that I am aware of. 

Signs clearly reserve parking for us Saturdays after 8:00 AM, and after 4:30 PM weekdays. 

In recent days, contractors are staying until 5:30 weekdays and working Saturdays, and parking in many designated disabled parking spots without placards, all without notifying us. Only 4 remained today and Saturday. 

City of Berkeley has a permit center at Milvia and Center Streets where contractors can easily arrange street parking at meters for their exclusive use. This would give us back our necessary parking. Please ask contractors to do so. 

It seems very cold-hearted of the directors, and of Facilities department to take our parking, without notice or giving us alternatives. 

Terry Cochrell 

* * * 

Tea Party Threatens Health Care 

Millions of Americans have bought into the GOP and Tea Party "repeal health care reform" slogan. What are they thinking? In California people are already benefiting from the Health Care Reform Act in a number of ways. If you have a child who has a pre-existing condition, it used to be health insurers could deny that child health insurance. 

As of January 1 of this ear, that is no longer the case. 

Medical rescission is an insurance industry practice of accepting your application for insurance, accepting your money month after month, year after year, and then when you get sick, they will not only deny your claim for medical treatment but rescind your health insurance in itsentirety. Absolutely outrageous! This practice is now illegal under the Health Care Reform Act. Do the people wailing "repeal health care reform", want to go back to this? 

And if you live in one of those unlucky states that now have Republican administrations, who have declared that they are not moving forward with healthcare reform, remember, you voted them into office. 

Ron Lowe 

* * * 

Civil Rights 

The 1961 Freedom Rides were invaluable in contributing to the civil rights struggle. But if you watched the documentary on PBS on May 16, you might have got the impression that discrimination in bus stations ended as a result of these activities. 

In fact, in 1967, when I lived in Jackson, Miss., the Greyhound bus station still had separate waiting room facilities as well as separate restrooms and water fountains, all clearly marked “White Only” and “Colored Only.” When I sometimes took a municipal bus to work, if I sat in the back crowded with black women on their way to menial jobs, the bus driver would not drive until I moved to the empty front of the bus. 

Also, Brown v. Board of Education was decided by the Supreme Court in 1954, but in 1967 the NAACP Legal Defense Fund in Jackson was still busy suing every county individually–there are 82 counties in Mississippi–to get them to comply. The South moves very slowly. I wonder how things are today. 

Estelle Jelinek