Letters to the Editor

Friday November 26, 2004


Editors, Daily Planet: 

Perhaps it is time for the terminology of the “achievement gap” to evolve to the “performance gap.” Maybe this would shift the perception and attitudes of our schools as victim/villain industries. This might allow for greater personal and collective responsibility, by rewarding individual effort and acknowledging the need for school site achievement plans to use an inclusive framework ensuring the value-added concept for all skill levels. 

Laura Menard 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The cartoon portrait of Condoleezza Rice (“Face of Diplomacy,” Daily Planet, Nov. 19-22) proved Justin DeFreitas a brilliant artist (not that I ever doubted his talent). It captures perfectly—without exaggeration(!)—the mean, intense, obsessively ambitious and twisted determination of this woman. I’m exasperated when people say that the elevation of her and Colin Powell represents progress in integration. An evil person is evil, whatever his or her color. Thanks, Justin. 

Dorothy Bryant 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Thank you for the recent coverage of the proposed Ed Roberts Campus and the proposed Seagate Building. The juxtaposition between the two couldn’t be clearer.  

The Ed Roberts Campus will house many of Berkeley’s most vital services for the disabled next to the Ashby BART station. The developers, led by the Center for Independent Living’s Executive Director Jan Garrett, have worked (and continue to work) with the surrounding neighborhood and have compromised on many issues to lessen the ERC’s impact on the neighborhood. 

The Seagate building is two stories over the maximum height allowed in our downtown. The few units of affordable apartments may, according to the developers, be changed into market-rate condominiums. Our city is under constant pressure from the state to expand affordable housing, yet this oversized residential building may easily contain no units of affordable housing. I have heard of no efforts to address the community’s concerns by the developers. Hopefully with the arrival of the Friends of Downtown Berkeley on the scene, this lack of community input into this major project will be history and we will be able to work together and craft an acceptable, appropriate project at the Seagate site. 

Jesse Townley 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Eureka! Becky O’Malley and her merry band of “amateur policy wonks” have discovered the cause of Berkeley’s budget crisis : The city actually pays its employees! 

Surely, Becky and her merry band has a more sophisticated analysis than this. For example, I’m sure I missed the Daily Planet’s in-depth analysis of city funding streams and the structural limitations that have thrown cities across the state into dire financial situations. Certainly Becky’s band has crunched the numbers regarding the financial impact that the state’s massive takeaway has had on our cities. 

Alas, it’s so much easier to belittle public employees and to complain about being “dissed” (oh Becky, you are hip!) by an overpaid city worker than it is delve into the mind-numbing world of urban finance. Come on Becky! It’s time to climb down from that soap box and do some real work—lest someone might accuse you of being just another lazy journalist... 

Eric Riley 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I am bemused by some neighbors’ complaints about football games (“Berkeley-Stanford Big Game Means Big Headache for Stadium Neighbors,” Daily Planet, Nov. 23-25).  

One resident who lives at Dwight and College Avenue says he had to stay home on Saturday afternoon, because if he had gone out, he would not have found a parking space when he got back. I used to live at Dwight and College, and it was an easy walk to two nearby shopping districts, an easy bicycle ride to most of Berkeley, and on a bus line that connects with BART. Is this person physically chained to his car, so he cannot go anywhere without it? If so, I suggest that he cut the chain.  

Another resident who lives on Panoramic Hill wants to move the stadium to the site of Golden Gate Fields. Currently, students walk to stadium and many fans come by BART. Golden Gate Fields is not within walking distance of campus and has little transit, so virtually everyone would drive there—creating much worse traffic for all of Berkeley. This proposal to move the stadium proves that some people care only about their own back yards.  

I will repeat a proposal I have made before. The best way to eliminate the conflict between the stadium and its nearest neighbors is to remove the housing from Panoramic Hill and move that handful of residents to a location within walking distance of shopping and transit. That would be less expensive than moving the stadium, and it would be better for the environment: It would mean more open space, improved wildlife habitat, and less traffic.  

Charles Siegel 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I am unable to understand the complaints of the neighbors of the Cal Stadium. Is it possible they didn’t notice the stadium before they bought their houses? Surely ease of access to their homes could not have been a high priority—I defy anyone to prove that Panoramic is an easy street to drive up and down, and none of the other neighboring streets to the north and south are easy to access either. If there’s an earthquake or fire, the same issues of access exist.  

There are only five or six games a year, and it seems to me that a reasonable, intelligent person would have taken into account the possible inconveniences of living close to the stadium before paying so much for his or her home in this location. However, I have been in Berkeley for 43 years now, and I do know that reasonable, intelligent people are hard to find here. 

Just a little common sense, people—if you live close to a stadium, there are bound to be a few noisy days with incredibly inconsiderate people around, and a few days on which you can’t drive and people park in the most inconsiderate fashion imaginable (ticket and tow those suckers!). Common sense, hard to find in Berkeley, California, Washington, D.C., and most red states... 

Ellen L. Franzen 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

How do I feel about the current fashion of asking a question in order to provide the answer? Sick at heart that style is sacrificed to cuteness, that’s how. 

How do I feel about cuteness? Oh dear, I think I just committed it. 


Bonnie Hughes 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Ms. Nicoloff’s seemingly rational review on smart growth using short quips from various experts came to an irrational conclusion (“Smart Duplicity,” Daily Planet, Nov. 12-15). She did not consider the basic reason why more people are speaking for smart growth. It is that we cannot continue to build in the same status quo manner as we have since the advent of the auto. We have an energy crisis, warming of the earth and air quality problem, unsolvable congestion problem, the misuse of land, and deteriorating quality of life that needs to be addressed. She basically supports status quo, which does not face these problems. These are the reasons top planners are urging some form of smart growth what ever it is, for smart growth has never been specifically defined.  

She is correct in stating the reason for more density is to reverse the declining ridership of mass transit. We definitely need to consider more compact development where people do not have to travel as far to their day-to-day activities, where we have more walkable communities, have frequent and convenient transit, and develop a community that is less dependent on the auto. I have traveled worldwide, at my own expense examining transit, and found in Curitiba, Brazil they have done this primarily along corridors and not throughout the neighborhoods and now has more than 1.3 million transit trips per day, which balances the number of transit trips versus autos transit even though Curitiba has a population under 1 million and the second largest number of cars per capita in Brazil.  

Roy Nakadegawa 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

“Apparently, even the news is slow to travel to Yuba City” is a snobbish and stupid thing to print, whether it’s true or not (Letters, Daily Planet, Nov. 19-22). Exactly the mindset that gives our area some of its perhaps deserved negative reputation. 

Did your Police Blotter reporter get beat up, or “relieved of” something? The writing is starting to sound like he actually gets the idea that crime victims do best with a caring treatment, instead of the snide casting as if they were cheap theater pieces. 

The (formerly in-living-) color Nov. 19 shot of the frat boy with the dead pig was... 

Sandy Rothman