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Letters to the Editor: October 7, 2011

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OCTOBER 07, 2011

Legislator discusses taxes, state funding and solutions

I appreciate the thoughtful Sept. 20 editorial regarding the deep harm budget cuts and fee increases have caused to students individually and to the UC system collectively.

As California continues to struggle through the recession, reduced state revenues remain a threat to our higher education system. One of my priorities in the Assembly has been to identify new revenue sources so we are not faced with more education cuts.

On Friday, Sept. 23, Gov. Jerry Brown signed AB 155 into law, legislation I jointly authored that will enable California to collect sales tax on items sold by out-of-state online retailers. AB 155 not only saves jobs and protects retail stores here in California, but also generates up to $500 million each year in new revenue.

An additional bill I have pending would restore a 1 percent increase in the tax rate paid by California’s super rich so the millionaires and billionaires among us pay their fair share. That bill, AB 1130, puts back into place a tax rate that existed under Republican governors Ronald Reagan and Pete Wilson.

Unfortunately, California has a two-thirds vote requirement to raise taxes, so even with 52 Democrats in the Assembly, we still need two Republican votes to pass AB 1130.

This hurdle is why Gov. Brown was not able to get the tax votes he has sought since the start of his term. I look forward to meeting in the coming weeks with members of the Cal community to identify other new revenues and strategize on how to get them approved.

One answer may be focusing on the 2012 elections, where students, their families and friends can make sure it’s not just their voices being heard, but their votes being counted.

— Nancy Skinner, Assemblymember (D-Berkeley)


People’s Park cartoon was insensitive to the issue

The “Zoo Attractions Around the World” editorial cartoon is an ignorant and dehumanizing cartoon that perpetuates the negative stereotypes of People’s Park.

Your staff should think twice before printing such insensitive cartoons overlooking the real issue of the criminalization of poverty that exists within the park’s policy and outside of the park in the city of Berkeley.

People are arrested if they stay in the park after curfew, and having no home address they are often held in jail for an extended time. Having a record of arrests is a factor that prevents people from getting a job and is part of a vicious cycle of poverty.

This cartoon furthers the idea that people in poverty are less than human, and there’s nothing funny about that.

— Elliot Goldstein, ASUC senator 


Previous Telegraph lot ideas turned down by the council

Your Oct. 4 article on the issue neglects to mention that the vacant lot at Haste and Telegraph was previously a single room occupancy hotel that provided both retail space and 77 units of low-income housing. The building was the victim of deliberate arson, as the previous residents know, only receiving a warning the night before it was set ablaze.

It would be unfair to not mention that Ken Sarachan submitted a proposal for a combination retail and housing complex, which was turned down by an earlier city council.

A history-free story runs the risk of greasing the wheels for a proposal that may not replace crucial units of low income housing Berkeley sorely needs. The lot may be characterized as contributing little to the avenue, but a development there that precludes the replacement housing once proposed is a theft of potential housing, which is irreplaceable.

— Carol Denney, Berkeley resident






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OCTOBER 06, 2011