Chancellor's comments, UC Stadium project

Chancellor's comments, UC Stadium project,

Editors, Daily Planet:

Don’t be fooled by the recent UC offer to downsize the garage under the Maxwell Field (Daily Planet, July 3). The offer came on the heels of Chancellor Birgeneau’s annual meeting with the Staff Assembly Committee at which, in his opening remarks, he mused about why the city would waste all that money (on a lawsuit) because, as he stated in typical UC arrogance, “the sports facility is only delayed. It will be built.” Ignoring the issues, Birgeneau dismissed critics by claiming there is only one reason for the project; “to get our athletes out of an unsafe structure.”

Appealing to our sympathies, he used “safety” to obfuscate the real issues; traffic, night-light pollution, the views from Strawberry Canyon, the reduced landscape, the trees. Besides, I work in another of UC’s “unsafe structures,” the Edwards Track, built of concrete pillars that may fall in the next quake, but I guess a bunch of gardeners are a lower priority than a bunch of marketable footballers.

Hank Chapot

Bikes in Berkeley CA - letter to Editor

Berkeley Daily Planet


Editors, Daily Planet:

I understand Michelle Lerager’s consternation over Berkeley police actions toward bicyclists (Aug. 7). It is strange that they would crack down on erratic cycling when there are thousands of irresponsible, dangerous and selfish automobile drivers on our streets.

The bicycle is only a threat or traffic nuisance if you drive a car. Few pedestrians will complain about bicycles, and those only because some cyclists are so intimidated by cars that they ride on sidewalks, an activity cycling activists condemn. The truth is, most bicyclists have drivers licenses, most know how to drive a car and are aware of the rules of the road.

In fact, bicycle advocates in the late 1890s went to court repeatedly to gain recognition as vehicles. Even the Supreme Court decided that yes, bicycles are entitled to the road, and are subject to all rules therein. So, why do we ride so crazily? Well, first, we aren’t given our rights by the steel and glass monsters we share the road with, and second, we have this little problem of maintaining our forward momentum.

I demand cars give up road space to everyone else, and if I could have one exception to the rules of the road governing bicycles, I would fix the state vehicle code and solve Michelle Lerager’s problem by passing legislation that says STOP equals YIELD for bicycles.

Hank Chapot



letter to editor BERKELEYAN concerning Chancellor's statements



Letter to the Editor

22 August 2007

Your front-page report on the “chancellor’s chat” sponsored by the Berkeley Staff Assembly (July 12) repeated remarks Chancellor Birgeneau made concerning the recently concluded wage settlement between UC’s lowest-paid workers and the Office of the President (UCOP).

Birgeneau said that he had been “quite vocal” in his opposition to the settlement and that he’d made his opinion known to UCOP. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) members in the audience found it discomfiting that Birgeneau expressed his disagreement with the settlement before a largely non-unionized audience.

In writing that the settlement included special raises for custodians, the Berkeleyan reinforced the chancellor’s division of staff from unionized workers. In saying that he “didn’t think it was fair” that one group of workers got the pay hikes while others in similar ranges did not, you and the chancellor both ignored the so-called “compensation crisis” at the top of the system and the fact that Birgeneau could yet join efforts to bring the entire workforce up to market.

Unmentioned in the Berkeleyan writeup, but of concern to our members, the chancellor said that 60 percent of the cost of the raises would be borne by students (except those on financial aid) in the form of increased housing fees, even though, in an Oct. 12, 2006, letter to UC President Robert Dynes, state legislators Don Perata and Fabian Núñez stated that the Legislature had set aside “additional funds [AFSCME estimates the amount as $9 million] to address pay equity for U.C. custodians and groundskeepers at Berkeley, Irvine, Santa Barbara, and Santa Cruz.” Why the discrepancy, only the chancellor knows.

That AFSCME successfully lifted the poverty wages of staffers who keep the campus safe, clean, and well-fed is something to celebrate. We at AFSCME are sorry the chancellor does not agree.

Hank Chapot
UC Berkeley gardener/AFSCME steward

Carbon Credits? Not!

Here is a link to an article about Carbon Credits from the Monthly, an East Bay (California) magazine. I am interviewed as someone opposed.