Light the holidays, save electricity
Why turn off the Holiday spirit? We can avoid an energy crisis and have festive lighting displays at the same time by using efficiency rather than denial. For every 60 watt incandescent light bulb you replace with a 20 watt compact fluorescent, you will save enough electricity to run a 50 foot string of miniature Italian lights with some kilowatt hours left over. Plus you will get more light out of it and will save about $50 over the bulb’s lifetime (assuming rates don’t go up). That is a pretty nice return on your $10 or $15 investment in the bulb. Plus you will be helping keep hundreds of pounds of global warming gases out of the atmosphere, not to mention acid rain and smog forming gases. Now that’s the holiday spirit.
UC should divest from tobacco
The Daily Planet received the following letter addressed to UC Regent Judith Hopkinson, chair of Investments Committee:
I work for UC and am writing to express my horror at having our pension fund monies invested in tobacco-related funds.
For nearly a decade our pension fund has been handled deftly. The UC Regents successfully convinced Treasurer Patricia Small to step down. After using our tax dollars to hire outside consultants, the Wilshire Group, as her replacement, the Regents now propose to follow the advice of these consultants and invest in tobacco-related funds.
This is unconscionable. A publicly supported institution acting without any regard for public welfare is sufficient reason to object to this abominable behavior. Our state spends hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to convince children, pregnant women, and others not to smoke. At the same time the Regents of our University system are planning to invest our retirement monies in this poisonous industry. Why? Because the outside consultants that they hired at the behest of a Regent closely connected to Wilshire’s chief advises them to do so. Have these Regents not noticed the number of lawsuits being won against this industry across our nation? From a financial perspective, this is NOT a sound investment. Across the nation other public pension funds are being withdrawn from investments in the tobacco industry, but UC’s Regents apparently haven’t noticed.
Moreover, this University researches the ill-effects of smoking.
This lack of leadership betrays an inability and/or unwillingness of many Regents to represent the interests of the people of California in general, and the people of the UC system in particular. To invest $55 million in a death industry is loathsome.
I join the American Heart Association and others interested in public health in urging the UC Regents to exclude these stocks from their investments on our behalf.
UC employee, UC alumna, and California taxpayer,
Recession unlikely in near future
Franz Schumann’s Opinion article of Dec. 4 indicated there could be a recession coming, but my research indicates that a severe depression in the United States is unlikely until around 2008. The key driving force of the major business cycle is real estate, which has had its own cycle of about 18 years since 1800. Every major depression has coincided with the real estate bottom. The last one was in 1990, so if past patterns continue we can expect a major depression towards the end of this decade.
The U.S. economy is now in a growth recession but a big recession is not likely according to the economic theory that has been the most accurate.
to be preserved
In the Dec. 7 Daily Planet, a letter from Jim Sharp raises the alarm that the University may be about to “dismantle” Fox Cottage, at 2612 Channing Way, since he has seen caution tape and other preparations at the site. I want to reassure your readers, and Mr. Sharp, that just the opposite is happening: The campus is in the process of reinforcing Fox Cottage to prepare it to be moved diagonally across the street, to a site next to the historic Shorb House at the corner of Bowditch and Channing Way. The move, which has been discussed at public meetings and in the press, and put forward in public notices, was approved by the Regents at their November meeting. We expect the move to occur in early January. Moving Fox Cottage is one of the first steps in preparing the Underhill site for the construction of a new, seismically safe Dining Commons and office building.
For information about this or other campus projects, the public can call 643-4793 or visit the campus’s Capital Projects Web site at www.cp.berkeley.edu.
Director, UCB Community Relations
Public transit, not parking for BHS
In the (12/9) article about the school board approving a parking plan, officials were quoted saying “this is a crisis situation” and “... with all our good intentions to get people to use alternative methods of transportation, there are still people who out of necessity are going to drive”. We’re told that no alternate solutions are “realistic.”
I think this is typical of the “march of folly” that keeps congestion going. It isn’t just BHS; the Berkeley city employees insist on their parking too.
I see all this frantic lobbying for more parking, but no similarlevel of lobbying for more public transit. The city once made a commitment to “transit first”. Whatever happened to that idea?
The fact is that most places in Berkeley and neighboring cities are reasonably close to a bus line. A walk of a few blocks to a bus stop is no great burden for most of us; it’s healthy, even. If one has materials to carry, there’s the traditional knapsack, or a briefcase. For the vast majority, it is not necessary to use a private car to commute to BHS, or most places in Berkeley.
If some people choose to live far from public transit, I see no reason to subsidize that choice with a free parking space at work.
Sure, there are a few people for whom public transit is too difficult, but not the majority - implied by official hand-wringing.
I suppose the short-term solution is to jam more cars into the already crowded spaces near BHS, but the officials don’t need to throw up their hands: There really are realistic alternatives to the cars – if the city and the people who work here are really committed to congestion relief. If not, then just continue the “march of folly”.
If anyone wants a serious dialog about parking and alternative transportation, please send an e-mail with ideas and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
Schools continue integration
The Berkeley Board of Education passed, possibly, the most important resolution affecting public education in this city Wednesday – preservation of our student assignment plan guaranteeing integrated schools in Berkeley. The School Board, by a 4-1 vote, supported the recommendation of our Student Assignment Advisory Committee to retain our current zoned choice school assignment plan.
However, the Berkeley Daily Planet, supposedly highlighting the most important issues decided by the School Board, chose as its first mention of School Board action, to feature, top front page of its Friday edition, the parking plan for Berkeley High School, and not even mention of the approval of the continuation of integrated schools in Berkeley.
It really makes one wonder about journalistic integrity in these momentous times.
President of the Berkeley School Board
(Editor’s note: fastest not always being most comprehensive, the BDP ran its story on the integration question on Tuesday.)
May want to boycott Florida
The BDP received the following letter before the Wednesday’s Supreme Court decision:
In the event that the Florida Legislature does an end-run around the process of allowing the counting and certification of the undercount in Florida, I believe that the logical next step for citizen advocacy groups such as People For The American Way (with its Fair Election 2000 campaign) must be to join with its sister organizations to initiate a complete consumer boycott of Florida and its products, most notably Florida citrus products and tourism.
If that legislature takes it upon itself to spite the will of the majority of Americans, it is incumbent upon us to spite them in the most effective manner at our disposal: Let’s vote with our dollars and deal a crushing blow to the Florida economy. If the Republican legislators’ actions lead to bringing down their economy, then the next round of elections in Florida may well bring them down. And the Republicans have already shown us that voting principally with dollars is “the American Way,” at least the one that the Republicans feel most comfortable with and competent at.
Everyone I have talked to about this idea so far thinks it is right on point.
There should be no difficulty at all getting people interested in expressing their sentiments about the corrupt manipulations of the political process in Florida to foil the will of the majority of voters of America. One person, one vote? I think not. At the very least, this whole process has educated Americans about the reality of a “federalist republic” such as our United States: it is a long ways away from being a true “democracy.”
California has a tree ‘emergency’. Many trees have problems with old age, disease, and heavy rains and/or high winds.
Much of this area was just grassland with scrub brush, and trees in gullies. Many of our trees were introduced and are nearing old age. In urban areas, tall trees are a major hazard to homes, pedestrians, parked cars and park users. Those tall trees in urban areas should be inspected yearly by qualified arborists. We need a statewide policy on removal of dangerous trees.
Homeowners who need arborists should check the Yellow Pages and the Bay Area Checkbook magazine with ratings of arborists by their readers and of Consumer Reports.
The University of California Cooperative Extension has a tree failure reporting system and holds annual conferences on tree failure and arborists. The twelfth conference is in January at Filoli. Arborists should contact UC Ext., 625 Miramontes St., #200, Half Moon Bay, CA. 94019, ph. (650) 726-9059.
A booklet, “Recognizing Tree Hazards,” $5.41 postage-paid, UC Ext., (510)642-2431; fax: 643-5470; or at 6701 San Pablo Ave., Second Floor (just south of Ashby).
Each county has a Cooperative Extension. In Alameda County: (510) 567-6812 for general information. On Tuesday and Thursday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., a master gardener and longtime volunteer promptly returns calls: (510) 639-1371. For other areas see the county government section of phone books.
Charles L. Smith
I know that the question of whether or not Beth El should build a new synagogue on the property on Oxford Street is an issue your paper has been following. Certainly there are arguments on both sides that deserve careful thought and consideration. I want to address one of the positions of the opponents to the synagogue that I find very troubling.
At the ZAB meeting on October 9 the neighborhood group’s attorney criticized the EIR as inadequate primarily due to the failure to consider relocating Beth El somewhere other than Berkeley. Thus, the position of the neighbors appears to be that Beth El should move out of Berkeley. I can only hope the implications of this position have not been thought through and that if they were, the position would be withdrawn. Proximity is a central reason for joining a synagogue. Much of what Beth El offers is a pre-school, religious school and camp. Most people are not going to send their children to school in a city in which they do not reside.
I lived in South Berkeley for many years and resided within a few blocks of several churches with active African American memberships. Had one of these churches found a nearby site to expand to, and had another community group suggested they move instead to, perhaps, Orinda, this would have clearly been understood to be an inappropriate and perhaps racist suggestion. Such a move would no doubt destroy their community and they could hardly be expected to thrive, as a black community, in a primarily white area. The same is true for Beth El. Do neighbors really expect us to move to a place where there are few Jews? I hope not.
Berkeley is Beth El’s home. I hope those neighbors who do not support us moving to Oxford Street (many neighbors are supportive) will open their hearts and find a place for us without acrimony.
Your recent coverage of the Berkeley City Attorney’s opinion on conflict of issue matters regarding the landmarks commission and the synagogue complex fails to recognize the important work of the individual commissioners in question.
Had it not been for their years of work as preservationists, both on and off the commission, some of Berkeley’s most beloved buildings would have been dust. These include Old City Hall, Finn Hall, the Heywood House and Ghego House in West Berkeley, the naval architecture building at UC Berkeley and the Julia Morgan Theatre, to name a few.
Only through intensive historic research and writing, long hours in the libraries, many oral interviews and hard work did these matters come before the landmarks commission for designation. It was this research/writing work coupled with their gracious persistence in working with property owners to persuade them to consider preservation and adaptive re-use instead of demolition that led to these restoration projects. The business community’s loathing of these preservationists is really without grounds.
The Berkeley City Council should overturn the city attorney’s unreasonable directive and allow these commissioners to continue their good work on behalf of the city.
Franz Schumann’s perspective: “Is there a recession coming?” that U.S. recessions are triggered by external destabilizing world events was enlightening. However, as we contemplate the next recession I feel Schumann slights important internal excesses that destabilize our own system and slights the destabilizing force our hegemonic power has on other world economies.
For example, Schumann cites Nixon’s decision to end the draft, cut the military budget, then invade Cambodia as decisive. More important I believe, was Nixon’s decision to abandon the gold standard in 1971-73 at Bretton Woods, introducing volatility into currencies that has favored only arbitrageurs and has led to predatory currency speculation that wounds foreign economies.
Also, he says that “...the world power balance is more destabilized than since 1991.” There is no world power unless we successfully fashion China as the next “Evil Empire.”
Furthermore, the IMF and the World Bank intrusive edicts seeks to convert all the world economies into U.S. lookalikes, i.e. more “transparent”, so investors can invade their markets more easily. Malaysia had the nerve to say no thank you, and China no doubt will resist this hubristic exercise - others can not.
Schumann hopes that we will resume a position as “unwobbling pivot.” Unfortunately, this investor driven, cookie-cutter mentality may simply eliminates the only remaining “econo-diversity” in the world that might retard rolling worldwide recessions of the future. Face it, our “bubble” is now much bigger than Japan’s was, and when ours bursts we will probably take down many more dependent economies than Japan’s did.
yes, i took it some time after being arrested in a wedding dress
and wearing if for the first 3 of 14 days i spent in jail for the June
23, 1983 action at Livermore labs. i also took to wearing
dresses most of the time 6 months later.
i have been arrested for riding the bay bridge 3 times
in the last 4 years, and detained and ticketed once.
i have also ridden the richmond san rafael bridge
a number of times. they haven't arrested any of us for that yet.
On Tue, 12 Dec 2000 12:20:32 -0800 Judith Scherr
> Is this your true name? Judith Scherr
> email@example.com wrote:
> > To the Editor,
> > Thank you fro publishing Bob Piper's excellent letter regarding
> > how Caltrans has mishandled dealing with the seismic issues
> > surrounding the Bay Bridge's east span. It is refreshing for us
> > mere activists to have someone with such credentials stand up
> > to the bureaucracy and call out how irresponsible it has been in
> > its duty of serving the public. Indeed, noting that engineers
> > may be placing their egos above the needs of the public they
> > are to serve in directing us to build something unknown at
> > exorbitant cost, rather than retrofit the existing structure for
> > much less. And we must thank him for spelling out that the
> > Army Corps of Engineers has not had proper time to evaluate
> > all data, and that the data is questionable. I am greatly
> > heartened that he mentions rail, which I completely
> > support as the most efficient and environmentally sound
> > mode of urban transit. Indeed, as Caltrans has stated that
> > the new bridge will be something to carry us through the next
> > century, how can they not include rail? The question this
> > bring up for me is, is it feasible to put rail back on the
> > bridge, once retrofitted? It will move a lot more people a lot
> > more quickly, and without all the pollution and rage. We
> > could even sue the car, tire and oil companies, who stole
> > the rail systems from all the American urban centers,
> > to pay for it..
> > dave wedding dress
> > oakland
> > firstname.lastname@example.org
Who I am is the possibility of magic and inspiration
Bay Bridge Replacement Project: A Good Deal
Wed, 13 Dec 2000 00:46:29 -0800
Please consider this as a Perspective. It's about 625 words, including my ID and two Web links. Thanks!
Here's another view of the Bay Bridge seismic replacement project addressed by my fellow Sierra Club member, Robert R. Piper, in a Dec. 11 Perspective. Robert is a devoted transit advocate and a retired transportation engineer, whereas I've never even impersonated an engineer. However, I did closely follow this project's development -- as a member of a volunteer advisory group -- and I must emphasize five essential facts.
First, Robert is quite correct that the new Bay Bridge east span will have the same motor-vehicle capacity as the current span: five lanes in each direction. That three-year-old decision may ultimately prove either wise or foolish, but it is exactly what the Sierra Club's San Francisco Bay Chapter requested in 1997. Both Robert and I helped draft that position as members of the Chapter's Transportation Subcommittee.
Second, Robert is again correct that Caltrans did not directly incorporate rail into the new east span's design. That decision may well be seen as foolish some day. But let's focus on what can happen after that realization: The new span will be strong enough to support future light rail -- up to about the weight of BART cars, or the old Key System's Pullman cars. The new span will also be wider than its predecessor, so that rail can be added down the center. After reviewing the assumptions and 1999 cost estimates compiled by the bridge project's oversight agency, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), I conclude that the new east span can accommodate added rail for perhaps $800 million less than any retrofit of the existing span. Keep those savings in mind.
Third, Robert is correct, yet again, that the new east span will include a bicycle/pedestrian path. This path (plus an eventual west span connection to San Francisco) will create new exciting new commute and recreational alternatives, helping to give San Francisco Bay back to Bay Area residents. The MTC and Caltrans deserve credit for accepting bicycle and pedestrian advocates' arguments that the new span -- which will have a 150-year lifetime -- should no longer be a barrier to nonmotorists. But here's the important point: this path is designed into the new span. To my knowledge, there is no technical plan, budget, legislative authority, or political momentum for adding bike/pedestrian access to any retrofit of the existing span.
Fourth, when the MTC approved this project back in the summer of 1998, its price tag was about $1.4 billion. Of that, $400 million covered aesthetic features, like enhanced lighting and a graceful cable suspension tower. These features were favored by design advisors and the public alike, and were advocated particularly strongly by the City of Oakland. Any cost increase since that date is due solely to the delaying tactics of a few regional elected officials -- who have sought to sabotage a very good design because it didn't meet their late-blooming ideas of perfection.
Finally, the new east span will indeed be more cost-effective than any retrofit, even if it initially costs a bit more. This is because the new span will last longer, and will be designed to newer and higher seismic standards (meaning that it will be more likely to survive a major earthquake). By comparison, a retrofit could well mean pouring more than $1 billion into San Francisco Bay only to have the span fail again in a future quake. Then we would have to build all over again -- at sharply inflated construction costs, while unthinkable traffic snarled alternative routes.
For anyone curious about these issues, or further details, I would encourage you to examine the project's draft environmental impact study at:
I also recommend examining the bridge-rail study commissioned by the MTC, at:
Member, Bay Bridge Bicycle/Pedestrian Advisory Committee
Member, Sierra Club San Francisco Bay Chapter
Tel. (510) 845-6717
2835 Buena Vista Way
Berkeley, CA 94708