Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

Friday December 22, 2006


Editors, Daily Planet: 

Help me to understand what is objectionable about Trader Joe’s. Is it that they are privately owned by a “secretive,” wealthy German family? Does this mean the dollars we spend on Two Buck Chuck will go to a murky private operation in Munich? Is this worse than having a billion dollar multinational public corporation like Safeway, Andronico’s, or Whole Foods build another market in Berkeley? The other reason to ban Trader Joe’s from Berkeley is that the company has used the image of an cranky old lady to make a joke. I forgot that being PC means having no sense of humor.  

The best reason is the store’s use of “offensive...cutesy-poo ethnic cover up what are basically generic house brands of no particular distinction.” Where’s the offense? If you are offended by “Trader Giotto” step back and put it in perspective. If you want generic house brands, shop at Safeway. Who is being elitist here?  

Perhaps the union establishment is threatened by a non-union business that does well and offers more employment opportunities to Berkeley citizens. 

M. Gross 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

I commend Becky O’Malley for her clear-headed exposition of the “real” Trader Joe’s behind its “user-friendly” public image; the TJ’s that appeals to a “middle class” clientele, including many progressives, who can buy more for less at its stores, while in denial about its “big box,” fast-food, plastic-wrapped, anti-union realities. 

But that’s not the only issue here in Berkeley. The opposition to a big-box store-plus-parking at a major downtown intersection is not limited to immediate neighbors. As a North Berkeley resident, I try to avoid University and Martin Luther King Way at both rush hours, and I shudder to think of the huge traffic and parking problems that will descend on the area from all directions. Even at the shopping malls in El Cerrito and Emeryville it’s difficult to park. In a time when Berkeley is promoting ecologically sound solutions to traffic, air pollution, water and electrical power, vehicles, houses, and produce, how it is that Trader Joe’s—or any big-box store—gets an invitation to invade a prime downtown intersection with the overwhelming support of Berkeley’s leaders? Where is our perspective on size/density/traffic in a vulnerable residential and small business location? 

It’s no wonder the nearby neighbors are up in arms—and a shame so many Berkeley residents and leaders choose to be blind to TJ’s real persona. 

Count me in on the appeal, neighbors. 

Marianne Robinson 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Thoughts and an editorial cartoon idea regarding the Zoning Board’s approval of the Trader Joe’s building: 

My understanding is we got 5-3 in favor instead of 4-4 no decision or a no because Gordon Wozniak replaced Dean Metzger on the Zoning Adjustments Board, who would have voted no, with someone who voted yes. 

The cartoon is Wozniak with his finger/hand on one arm of a balance, such that the thing that touches the ground is a Trader Joe’s at that location—render the whole borg cube if you like—and for effect, have it squashing the surrounding neighborhood, residents squished or flying, with cars falling out of the thing. If I drew it I would emulate R. Crumb and make Wozniak scowl with rage, with some typical peripheral characters trying to dodge out of the way, etc. Some way of showing Fred’s Market) getting stomped would be nice. A two-buck-chuck wino. Profits flying off to Germany. A euro with NO through the word “unions.” An employee being told “You’ll smile because it’s a job requirement.” And maybe Hudson-McDonald as a pair running off scene, each with a grin on their face with a pack of cash in their back pocket and not looking back.  

Eric Dynamic 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I’m blind. Gifts should be showered on folks who make the lives of the people with differences better. Like BORP, the East Bay Blind Center, Lion’s Center for the Blind, UCB’s and Berkeley College’s disability staff, all restaurants with Braille menus. (And where is the theater with the second audio track for blind people? We have to go to Emeryville or San Francisco. Why? Can’t our theaters hop on board?) And for audiovision, who announces/translates shows, theater and events for the blind, including events at La Peña, and especially the good work of John Neuman and Bill Johnson who have trained the Goal Ball team, a blind sport, including a para Olympic medal winner.  

That’s what should happen. 

What I really really want is for Cheeseboard to be open on Sundays. That’s the only day I can get there. 

Santa should be kind to the merchants and organizations and webmasters of And of course, the writers, editors, publisher, distributors and readers of the Daily Planet! 

Dirk Neyhart 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I want to thank Steve Finacom and the Daily Planet for the very positive and thoughtful article published in the Dec. 15 edition. As a merchant on “The Ave” and a participant in the Street Faire, this kind of positive push can do nothing but help. I hope the Planet can do more as we fight/struggle to revive Telegraph. Your help is badly needed and greatly appreciated. A point of information, the Ave is not limited to the 63 commercial storefronts on Telegraph from Dwight to Bancroft. We have many fine stores south of Dwight. On the one block between Blake and Parker you will an exciting new Tattoo shop, a Dollar Store, a Time Zone (vintage clothing), Uni-Tech (a complete electronics store), a great Bakery, Blue Note Music, a Dance Cooperative, 2 print shops, Indian food, Fondue Fred’s, the mysterious Dark Entry, Buffalo Exchange, and the world’s best “Pot Club.” Of course, we are there too, Collector’s Realm3, your one stop adult and collectors shop. 

Come check us out, there is far more to the Ave than you thought! 

Bob and Al at Collector’s Realm3 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

So where is Boondocks? I would sacrifice anything except Boondocks and Doonesbury. I don’t do puzzles. 

Jean Lieber  


EDITOR’S NOTE: Boondocks has essentially been discontinued by the artist. The strip has been in re-runs for six months while he has been on an sabbatical, working instead on the Boondocks television show. His editors recently announced that it’s unlikely that he will resume drawing the strip. 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

We thank Executive Editor Becky O’Malley for her Dec. 12 editorial in defense of publishing the real news, in preference to “the good news” uncritically repeated from government sources. 

We also value and appreciate the Daily Planet running news reports and reader commentaries about the library, including things we have written—and particularly our jointly written commentaries of Dec. 8 and Nov. 17 (and our Nov. 21 correction). 

We view the Daily Planet’s publication of these materials as valuably contributing to public knowledge of, and public discussion about, vitally important matters in a vitally important institution. 

Gene Bernardi 

Peter Warfield 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

“Failure in Iraq would be a calamity,” Robert Gates said after he was installed as secretary of defense. He echoed the Cheney-Bush-Rumsfeld delusion that we still have the possibility of not failing. The fact is that the neocon’s gamble in Iraq has failed; it’s lost; we’re toast. Why? Two words: Abu Ghraib. From America’s torture chambers we showed the world, and particularly the Muslim world and all Iraqis, that we were subhuman. We lost all legitimacy. Rumsfeld, Cheney, Bush, and Alberto Gonzales’ dismissal of the Geneva Conventions certified that Abu Ghraib wasn’t just the misdeed of “a few bad apples.” Strategically, they dishonored our moral authority, and defiled our democratic ideals. Tactically, by disbanding the Iraqi army, by turning loose thousands of men with guns who had no way to feed their families, they provided overwhelming force to the insurgency.  

The Bush administration policies are zombies—dead bodies walking around, unaware that they have died. 

Bruce Joffe 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

Amnesty International has again pointed out the massive poverty and inequality that exists, persists in our world. In a world that boasts advances in science, technology and industry billions of fellow humans remain locked into poverty. 

Humanity is living off its ecological credit card with overconsumption being the culprit. We have been exceeding the planet’s ability to support our lifestyles for the past 20 years. 

Seventy-seven million children in the world are still not going to school. 

How long before the mass of people realize the futility of war? War solves no problem; it creates only chaos. 

Reflect on some of these issues during the holidays and prosper peace, sharing and justice for all. 

Ron Lowe 

Grass Valley 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Incoming Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has said “The clock is ticking, Mr. President…”, and yet, while the clock ticks on lives continue to be lost. Your failure to heed the call of the American people since the November elections about developing a new bi-partisan exit strategy for Iraq has resulted in the continued killings of both U.S. soldiers and Iraqi citizens. The lives of U.S. soldiers will never be lost in vain, though. Soldiers are simply carrying out orders, doing their duty as prescribed to them by their democratically elected government. It is the American public’s duty to ensure that U.S. soldiers dying in our names are doing so for just causes. When and if we fail to do our duty, we are to blame, not them. But the majority of American voters have spoken. They have said time is up. Your endeavor of spreading democracy through the barrel of a gun has got to end. It has turned into a mega-disaster with huge impacts on America’s national security, as well as putting the human security of the entire Mideast at risk. The majority of Americans no longer support you or your adventure. Bring a quick and decisive end to this war, Mr. President, or the deaths of U.S soldiers will fall on your hands since the majority of American voters have spoken out as no longer supporting your war. Listen to the people who have endowed this democracy with their vote and their trust, for they are the ones who ultimately decide what causes our young men and women should die for. Your Iraq debacle is no longer one of them. The ultimate deciders within a democracy have spoken, so Mr. President, you must listen! 

Eric Norman 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

I’m sad each time we lose an independent bookshop. We lost so many this year I wrote a verse: 


2006 & bookshops farewell!  

by Susan Southworth 


Shambala, North Beach Black Oak, 3 Clean Well-lighted Places for Books, Cody’s Telegraph all became  

casualties regardless of fame. 

Don’t complain 

or blame the staff. 

It was your gaff 

to laugh 

and fall for Amazon’s math 

that led you down the internet path.