Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

Tuesday July 12, 2011 - 12:49:00 PM

Preserve the Bartlett Houses; Phone Hacking Scandal; Chartres Cathedral; Oil Prices Up; How to Improve the Economy 

Preserve the Bartlett Houses 

My daily walks take me frequently past the two Bartlett Houses at the northeast corner of Blake and Fulton Streets. If I remember correctly from reading the landmark application about the site some time ago, they were built in 1877 and 1892. 

In addition to the two stately houses facing Blake Street, from Fulton Street you can see the lush backyard with many beautiful trees and the original carriage house, and even the tiny servants’ quarters attached to the older house. Taken as a whole, this is probably the most stunning Victorian scene that remains in Berkeley today. 

The new owner of the Bartlett site is Nathan George, who lives nearby. I understand that he has gutted most of the interior of both houses. Sadly, interiors of historic buildings are not protected by landmark designations. I sincerely hope that Mr. George understands how beloved this Victorian site is. There are many landmarks in Berkeley, some more worthy of the title than others, but this view is loved by neighbors and by people from all over town. I hope that it will be preserved in entirety rather than exploited for profit, as happens so often in Berkeley these days. 

Peter Schorer 

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Phone Hacking Scandal 

The phone hacking scandal that has emerged in Britain has already inflicted huge damage to the Murdock media empire. In a desperate attempt at damage control, its flagship newspaper, the News of the World, was shutdown. Prior to this scandal Murdoch would operate the levers of power with complete abandon favoring the political party which best suited his bottom line. In a twist of irony the ruthless hunter, using every despicable means to invade the privacy of its citizens, has now become the hunted. In a classic ‘Johnny Come Home lately”, Britain’s political elite who were accustomed to groveling for favors from Murdoch have now become his greatest detractors and harsh critics. The Guardian of London deserves credit for relentlessly pursuing the unfolding scandal. 

Unfortunately, Murdoch’s media tentacles are pervasive. His US media includes the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), the New Your Post and Fox News. The WSJ current czar, Les Hinton was head of UK’s News Corps. empire during the period when much of the phone hacking was taking place. Incredulously, he testified before the UK House of Commons that it was ‘only one bad apple’ reporter who was responsible. 

Fox News has been the favorite hunting ground for Republican presidential wannebe’s. Its outrageous claims of being ‘the most trusted news source’ has been mocked and effectively ridiculed by Comedy Central’s, Jon Stewart. These growing media conglomerates are a growing menace often pursuing their corporate agenda to the detriment of our democracy. 

Jagjit Singh 

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Chartres Cathedral 

The July 10th S.F. Chronicle featured an inspiring story of France's spectacular Chartres Cathedral. This brought back warm memories of a talk I once heard Charles Laughton deliver on this very subject. It had to be many, many years ago as Laughton died in 1962. (I discovered this when I "googled" him. Incidentally, I was somewhat puzzled by the description of him as a "tortured but brilliant actor".

Laughton gave this memorable talk in the Berkeley Community Theatre early in the 1960's. He must have spoken for 90 minutes, eloquently, almost passionately praising the Cathedral, describing in great detail the stained glass windows, a treasured relic (the Veil of the Virgin), and a 12th century sculpture on the facade of the Cathedral, the soaring columns and aerial-ribbed vaulting held aloft by ranks of wheel-like flying buttresses. Built from 1194 to the 1250's, part of the facade and towers are Romanesque. He described descending into a crypt's chalking air, and climbing the 350-foot Gothic spire for views that proved breathtaking. Laughton spoke so movingly of this Cathedral and the rolling fields of the surrounding Beauce region, I was reduced to tears and I vowed that I would someday see for myself Chartres.
And that I did -- a year later. I shall never forget the thrill of walking in the green labyrinth behind the Cathedral and walking through Chartres' charming neighborhoods.

So I thank Charles Laughton for sharing his love and admiration for one of the world's greatest attractions -- Chartres Cathedral. 

Dorothy Snodgrass 

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Oil Prices Up 

Comment on: Oil and gasoline prices on the rise again; oil and gas prices still rising as investors see global demand improving. By Sandy Shore, AP Business Writer, On Thursday July 7, 2011. 

I can picture AAA wrecker services someday being called by cell phones to re-charge electric automobiles stranded in highways and dirt roads and parking lots like jumping dead batteries. Go Electric! Barack Obama tapping into oil reserves is a temporary solutions. 

AAA (pronounced "triple A"), formerly known as the American Automobile Association, can offer re-charging electric vehicles with their road service memberships. 

It might be a faster way to charge electric vehicles or a new way to design the batteries of electric automobiles because wrecker services in America can usually charge a battery almost instantly. 

At least the fear of driving electric automobiles will decrease if AAA will provide the service like winter time fears of a stalled automobile in the freezing winter months keep drivers driving to work. 

Daniel Escurel Occeno 

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How to Improve the Economy 

There are two views of how our nation should improve the economy. One view says that we should not increases taxes on the rich. The rich are the investors in risky ventures. They are the investors in productive capacity. Without their venture capital the economy would grind to a halt. The other view says that human capital is even more important than money. This view says that raising taxes to support education is the way of making our young people capable of great productivity. This view says that the training and strength and spirit of ordinary people matters even more than financial capital. Which view do you hold? Why? 

Romila K hanna