Public Comment

Letters to the Editors

Friday January 13, 2012 - 06:10:00 PM

Kamlarz Rip-Off 

Great article on the amazing Mr. Kamlarz. To make matters worse he "retired" shortly after a review of City of Berkeley finances indicated that he was an inept manager...and he lives in Oakland. Is it any wonder that regular citizens are fed up with the abuse their elected (and non-elected) officials are dishing out to their constituents? Way to go Phil! 

The City of Berkeley owes it to it's citizens to NOT make good on this rip off just as the City of Bell refused to pay their city manager what was clearly an unwarranted sum. 

Dan Grassetti 

Burial of a 5-year-Old Boy 

To the mournful music of a mariachi funeral dirge and with dozens of white balloons drifting overhead, a small white casket holding the body of Gabriel Martinez, Jr. was lowered into a grave Friday afternoon at Rolling Hills Cemetery in Richmond. A Franciscan monk blessed a small golden cross with holy water and presented it to his grieving mother. Gabriel was killed outside his family's taco truck December 30th, the 110th homicide in Oakland in 2011. More than 900 persons attended funeral services at St. Elizabeth's Catholic Church in the Fruitvale district in Oakland last Friday. In a 75-minute ceremony, Pastor Reverend Martin Ibarra addressed the mourners in English and Spanish. "Gabriel's death reveals the pain of the inner city of Oakland that we are forgetting. We pray that today will never be repeated. Let's keep working so that our community will be a safe one. Gabriel belongs to the community of saints now." Gabriel was a beautiful child and, according to his aunt, Elizabeth Pelayo, "He just lit up a room. He was happy, you could see it in his eyes." Last Friday, several mourners were seen gazing up at the sky on a grassy hillside under sunny and blue skies where the last of the balloons were still visible, a white dot drifting off into space. The only source was the continuous wailing of the mariachi band and the uncomprehending crowd. May we hope that Gabriel's cruel and untimely death brings about a new start to 2012? 

Dorothy Snodgrass 

Meeting of Gray Panthers 

The Occupiers: Why We Demonstrate is the topic for the monthly Berkeley-East Bay Gray Panther meeting. Pamela Drake of the Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club, Ruth Maguire of the Gray Panthers, and activist photographer Anna Graves will tell about their experiences with the Occupations of Oakland, Berkeley and San Francisco, and why this movement is so important in changing today's political dialogue. 

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012 at 1:30 PM North Berkeley Senior Center 1901 Hearst, corner of MLK, Berkeley, CA 

All Welcome, Wheelchair accessible. 

From the Gray Panthers 


As results of the Iowa caucuses dribbled in, Americans got to see how the Republican candidates greeted victory and defeat. Rick Santorum rose to the occasion but his true nature still showed through the new camouflage he has put on. Nobody has been paying attention to Santorum so he has been given a free pass and was able to sneak under the radar. Hello, Rick Santorum put the E in extremism. He has all the usual Republican/evangelical baggage: hard-core anti-abortionist, anti gay all the way, anti-immigration and if he was a current politician Santorum would surely have signed the anti-tax pledge. Speaking of pledges, Mr. Santorum recently signed a pledge with Michele Bachmann implying that African-American children were better off under slavery than they have been since President Obama's election. How do you answer idiocy like this except to say, I bet the Republican and Tea party white religious base loved it. 

Ron Lowe 

New Year's Message 

We see a change in the way modern people think regarding sharing of goods and personal comfort. There was a time in our history when even with limited resources, people shared their own cash and goods with those whose need was greater than their own. They must, I think, have derived some inner satisfaction from extending themselves. They must also have derived some “outer” satisfaction from knowing that their gesture was widely appreciated by their community. People used to depend on each other and they knew that they would receive help from neighbors at a time of crisis. People felt connected to each other even when they belonged to different social classes. But in modern life we have learned to think chiefly of ourselves; our extended families and communities do not figure significantly in our thoughts. That selfless action which spreads happiness inside and outside of ourselves is hardly ever practiced. As a result we stay sullen and dissatisfied. 

All of us are part of the family whose home is planet Earth. If we want to stop the surge of unhappiness on our planet, we should learn again how to think of others and to share our good fortune with them. 

May generous neighborliness be our motto for the New Year. 

Romila Khanna