High-rise apartments

As a longtime, left-leaning local environmental activist, I have been scratching my head over why our environmentally minded, or so I thought, City of Berkeley equates environmentalism with high-density, big-development projects, such as the high rise "luxury apartment" building featured in Judith Scherr's Jan. 18 Voice article, a project that was dubbed an "ecotower" by East Bay Express editor Robert Gammon.

It has become clearer to me now that I have read Rosa Koire's book "Behind The Green Mask: U.N. Agenda 21," telling of her experiences with the City of Santa Rosa.

Can you remember when we started hearing jargon phrases like "smart growth," "high density urban mixed use," and that word that is music to an environmentalist's ears, "sustainability?" The United Nation's idea of sustainability is quite different from what the average environmentalist has in mind.

Have you watched as old buildings are torn down and huge building after huge building is erected, now seemingly unoccupied? Why? The City of Berkeley did not come up with this stuff. The exact same lingo, methods and policies are being adopted by cities all over this county, country and world.

El Cerrito, Albany, Oakland and Walnut Creek have all, unbeknown to most of their constituents, signed on with The International Council of Local Environmental Initiatives, which is tasked with carrying out the goals of U.N. Agenda 21, originally signed onto by President George H.W. Bush and by every subsequent U.S. president.

Shouldn't it concern us that an outside unelected nongovernmental organization is inserting itself into the zoning and planning departments of cities all over this country and regional boards are being created that make land use decisions unaccountable to the public.

"Smart growth" is not a local initiative. It is a land and power grab by corporate forces that are hijacking and financing the unwitting leftist environmental movement frightened of global warming.

Those on the left who are willing to make sacrifices and take personal responsibility for environmental degradation need to apprise themselves of how they are being used: The ultimate goal being to take away the sovereignty of local city governments, take away property rights of average citizens via redevelopment, eminent domain and rezoning, and to increase government control over our lives.

The farther government gets from the people the less power we have over our lives and local environment. Do the research. You can come to no other conclusion.

Vivian Warkentin

Berkeley

Save historic post office

The U.S. Postal Service will hold a public hearing at 7 p.m. Feb. 26 at the Berkeley City Council Chamber, Old City Hall, at 2134 Martin Luther King Jr. Way.

We must be there to be sure the USPS hears our views on its proposal to sell Berkeley's beautiful historic Main Post Office. Berkeley residents need this convenient downtown post office that was paid for by our parents and grandparents.

We urge residents of Berkeley and of surrounding communities, who care about conserving our historic architecture, to attend this important hearing.

David Welsh

Berkeley

Support for Zionism fading

In his Feb. 8 letter, Desmond Tuck has accused me of being an anti-Semitic bigot, based on my letter of Jan. 25. As usual, this is a way of avoiding serious discussion of the issues at hand, and I would not rise to responding to the personal slur.

However, in our contemporary society, the charge of anti-Semitism is very heavy and, as in the present case, is used to intimidate those who dare to criticize Israeli policies, so I respond.

How does Tuck know that I am not a Jew? Many of the opinions I express have been more vociferously expressed by American and Israeli Jews. A surname is not a reliable guide to ethnicity. A prominent contestant in the recent Israeli election was a Jew from San Francisco named Naftali Bennett. For the record, I am neither Jew nor Arab. My ethnicity and religion are irrelevant.

I do not confound Jews and Zionists. All Jews are not Zionists and all Zionists are not Jews, the most prominent example of the latter being Arthur Balfour, the British foreign secretary who in 1917 promised Lord Rothschild a Jewish homeland in Palestine. The only Jewish member of the British cabinet opposed this promise, as did most American Jews at that time.

Today, support for Zionism among American Jews may still be strong, but it is fading, particularly among young people. In Israel itself there has been a post-Zionist trend.

My comparison of the power of Hamas' rockets and Israel's weapons was not to trivialize the small number of casualties in Israel compared to the large number in Gaza, but to point out the futility of any Arab attempt to match Israel's level of violence.

Tuck's historical references are not supported by the writings of recognized Israeli historians.

Larry Waldron

Berkeley

La Force's dog opposition

Norman La Force, of Sustainability, Parks, Recycling and Wildlife Defense Fund, says he "has nothing against dogs," even though his lawsuit about the Albany Beach Draft Environmental Impact Report is primarily about dogs. In fact, La Force is obsessed with dogs.

  • In April 2012, La Force wrote a "scoping" letter to East Bay Regional Park District, listing the environmental issues that should be examined in the EIR for the Albany Beach project. The list was short: dogs. No other issue was mentioned.

  • In November 2012, La Force was a panelist at the Golden Gate University 2012 Environmental Law Symposium. Dogs were not a topic on the agenda, and no other panelist mentioned dogs. But La Force used other topics and other questions to repeatedly express his opposition to dogs. In response to a question about important current issues in environmental law, La Force gave a speech about off-leash dogs at Albany Bulb, including the telling statement, "Don't leave it to democracy. Officials are afraid of the people."

  • In February 2010, La Force wrote a letter to the Albany Waterfront Committee about plans for Albany Bulb. Again, his only topic was dogs. He identified himself as a Sierra Club officer "and 25-year veteran of dealing with off-leash dog use in the Bay Area."

  • In 2006-2007, La Force served on a Golden Gate National Recreation Area Negotiated Rulemaking Committee, on which his sole goal was to evict all visitors with off-leash dogs from the GGNRA.

    La Force has spent a great deal of time and effort, over many years, to get dog owners out of Bay Area public lands. It is safe to say that he does, in fact, have long-standing, intense animus toward dogs and dog owners.

    It is a misuse of our courts, and a waste of public resources, for La Force to use the Albany Beach DEIR to try to bend policy to accommodate his personal obsession.

    He has now, seven months after the DEIR was published, added eel grass to his complaint, which doesn't conceal the fact that dogs are his real focus. As EBRPD has said many times, the Albany Beach project will not alter dog-related policies at all.

    Keith McAllister

    Oakland