From the pen of Herbert Bauer: warmth, wisdom and wit


* Editor’s note: Herbert Bauer, dubbed the “conscience of Davis,” died Tuesday at age 103. Among his many accomplishments, he was famous for his letters to the editor, which tackled major issues, sometimes fiercely, sometimes cheekily, but always heartfelt. Among his regular themes were public health issues, the death penalty, war and peace, national politics and all matters related to his beloved Davis. We have gathered his letters from the past decade, listed chronologically, to remind readers of why Herb Bauer was so admired. A sampling is published here, and the full complement may be found at http://wp.me/p3aczg-1nRa.

April 4, 2013
Fluoridate our public water

For the past weeks, The Enterprise has been occupied with a confused and confusing subject, the “water project.” Strangely enough, the whole discussion with all its pros and cons dealt with money; there was no mention of the main public health concern, namely fluoridation, a well-established and well-proven system to prevent dental disease.

Needless to say, the drug has to be used in the proper dosage and has to be checked regularly since too little would be useless and too much may be harmful.

Money is not the problem: We spend enough money to produce illness such as lung disease by smoking; let’s spend some money on health such as by fluoridation of public water.
Feb. 7, 2013
Let’s send no one into combat

About the current debate on gender inequality: Should women fight in wars? No. Nor should men.
May 3, 2012
Give inmates the vocabulary

The most shameful argument in favor of death penalty by injection rather than by lifelong imprisonment is that it is cheaper. Yes, a quick shot with a deadly poison is certainly cheaper than maintenance usually for decades.

Yet if money is to be a determining factor in fatal decisions, why not choose weight, for instance? A heavier criminal will demand a higher and therefore more expensive dose of “medication” than a thinner one.

Have we lost any sense of ethics? We like to neglect that “execution” is a synonym for “killing” and “killing” is a synonym for “murder.” Which one is your favorite word? I believe the inmates of the death row should have the privilege to determine the final vocabulary on their death certificate.
Jan. 23, 2012
With profound gratitude

Oh, how I wish I could hug each of you and thank you for the words, the letters, the books (!) you gave me on my 102nd birthday! Yet since obviously I cannot expect to live long enough to thank all of you individually, allow me to express my profound gratitude with the three most powerful words in any human language: I LOVE YOU.
Jan. 3, 2012
We must abolish death penalty

It was gratifying to read the renewal of the death penalty debate in The Enterprise; yet it was disappointing to read that money was the main factor in making the terminal decision. To kill another person intentionally is called murder. To murder a murderer puts both sides ethically on the same level, although it may satisfy our understandable urge to punish.

Be it by court order or legislation or by vote, the death penalty must be abolished.
Nov. 27, 2011
I feel both anger and sorrow

Not in Davis! Not in my university! But happen it did and nothing will remove it from history. I feel as if I were personally involved, as if I had been punched in the stomach and had a hard time breathing.

Yet amid the worldwide furor I would like to say a few kind words about a person who is not in the middle of it but on top of it: Whatever the chancellor said or did, she certainly did not to mean to produce what happened as a result. When she realized what catastrophe had emerged, she stepped out, accepted responsibility and apologized. What else could she have done? What would we do if, heaven forbid, we were in her place?

I am angry at the administrator outside, but I am sorry for Linda Katehi inside.
Nov. 15, 2011
It’s not justice, it’s revenge

Does Marco Topete deserve the death penalty? In my opinion, yes. Should he therefore be killed? In my opinion, no.
If killing the murderer brought the victim back to life, advocates of death penalty might have a strong point. Since this is impossible, killing the criminal is not justice, but revenge.

My firm opposition to the death penalty is not going to change anybody’s mind; yet the least we can do is to speak up: Thou shalt not kill!
Sept. 27, 2011
Let’s sing ‘America the Beautiful’

Fall is upon us and with it comes the frequent occasions to sing our national anthem. It would be nice to sing an easier and more pleasant-sounding piece of music since many of us, particularly men, are ill-equipped with vocal cords ready for a sudden octave jump in the middle of it. Aside from the musical strain, what are we praying for? Bombs bursting in air?

I have a radical idea: Starting right now, let us exchange our current anthem with a song of our own choice. My taste would be “America the Beautiful.” It is easy to sing, pleasant to hear and patriotic on top. Should it become acceptable here at home, we might even ask the City Council to legitimize it as the Davis anthem.

Why not? It wouldn’t cost a penny, it might start a revolution in our neighborhood and the voice of Davis would be heard from sea to shining sea!
June 6, 2011
Let’s be precise about killing

The Osama bin Laden story seems to go on forever. A few weeks ago, I suggested in The Enterprise that even if we need to kill we should at least not enjoy it. Although the topic is anything but poetic, please allow me to express my deep gratitude to your many gracious readers who took the time to state their agreement talking to me:

We spoke another word for PEACE,
A word of which we are proud.
It may be pronounced with the simplest of ease,
So let us be clear and loud!
And let us not worry about the price,
For we shall pay the bill;
Instead, let’s make it completely precise:
The name of the word is KILL.
May 10, 2011
If we must kill, show no joy

The worldwide response to bin Laden’s death was overwhelming, as expected. Most of us are grateful that this man can do no more harm, and most of us admire the military skill with which the whole problem, including bin Laden himself, was executed.

There are two things that to me personally are painful: The joy over the killing as expressed in every sentence of every newspaper, and the triumph over having been the ones who did it.

If killing is what we must do, let’s kill, but don’t let’s have fun doing it. If that sounds cowardly or insensitive or even unpatriotic, so be it. All of us must sleep with our own conscience.
April 19, 2011
Measure A deserves approval

For the first time I sent my ballot by mail, as required, to vote YES on Measure A. Formerly I did not even read school ballots but voted automatically in favor of school improvements; now I read before I vote, for some ballots are so cleverly worded that they mean the opposite of what they say. But not Measure A, which is clear and safe, needing and deserving unanimous approval.

Incidentally, the ballot came with 14 other pieces of mail, 13 of which asked for money for various charitable agencies; the last one came from a funeral group encouraging me to make prompt use of their services. So let’s quickly say Yes to Measure A, time may be running short!
Dec. 14, 2010
Let’s elect Bob Dunning

Your Friday column tripled my egomania by listing me among the bunch of theoretical candidates for the City Council, all true Davisites who know it all and do it all.

Yet there is one obvious omission: a man whom I like and respect a great deal and who gained national fame by teasing, criticizing, belittling, admonishing and ridiculing all those of us who do not meet his invincible standards.

Therefore, whenever there is a vacancy that needs to be filled by a (mostly) benevolent dictator, let’s all get together and elect this man, either by voting or by yelling. His name is Bob Dunning.
Dec. 2, 2010
Thanks to all our leaders
Just a day before Thanksgiving, Helen Thomson and Lois Wolk complain about the electoral loss of women in the recent election. Helen blames it on the difference in testosterone, Lois on the differences in priorities.

As a passionate friend of both, it pleases me to disagree with both of them. What fun would life be if women became more masculine and men more feminine? Changing gender, changing sexual priorities (heaven forbid!), not to speak of children?

As usual, Mariko Yamada says the right thing: Never mind man or woman, for electoral office it is the brain that matters, not the pelvis, needless to say. In non-elective business it might well be the other way around. In any case, regardless of internal chemistry, happy Thanksgiving to all!

Helen, Lois, Mariko, quit beating your collective breasts; you did, do and will do a great job. From all our hearts, we thank you.
April 25, 2010
Davis, where politics are sport

That The Enterprise was selected as the best newspaper in the state should come as no surprise. My heartfelt congratulations! The Enterprise is perhaps the only paper that prints most political news as part of the sports section. My only suggestion is that it be shifted into the comics. Again, three cheers to Davis! (And I mean Debbie!)

Jan. 15, 2010

Here’s a solution to airline terror

Flying used to be fun; now it is a pain: screening, luggage, food, delay, cancellation and all the rest. Yet there is an ultimate and logical solution for all those problems: For screening, all passengers should be completely undressed. To protect civil rights, they should have the right to decide if they want a male or female examiner, regardless of their own sex.

After careful examination, each nude passenger should be suspected of indecent exposure and put on the no-fly list. That would fix it, once and for all.
Dec. 23, 2009
Are you listening, Mr. President?
My hero has fallen. When Barack Obama entered the scene, I greeted him with enthusiasm. Here was a man who finally said the right words: universal health care, termination of a catastrophic war.

A year later, the Congress is still “debating” a bunch of complicated, useless health care “provisions” with no rational solution in sight. And we have decided to add troops, billions, deaths to a war that was lost before it began.

As individual citizens, all we can and must do is to make our wishes known: I want health for all in the form of universal insurance. I want immediate cessation of American participation in fights among tribal countries such as Afghanistan. I want peace. War is not the answer.

Are you listening, Mr. President?
April 23, 2009
To the pirates: Rest in peace

The whole civilized world admires the heroic captain who risked his life to protect his crew, and the brave soldiers who killed the pirates and saved all captives. I join the gratitude which we owe them.

Yet nobody says anything about the killed pirates; all we know, or wish to know, is that they were murderous criminals and that the world is better off without them. I fully agree. Yet, I can feel no joy at all about their deaths.

They, too, were human creatures, living a human life with human feelings. They remind me of John Donne’s famous saying: “Any man’s death diminishes me.”

Thus, among the more than well-deserved gratitude to the survivors of this tragedy, I, for one, would like to say to the dead pirates: May you rest in peace.
April 5, 2009
To decide this, go back to our roots

In a short while, the California Supreme Court will make a decision in a matter in which the court should not be involved in the first place about a proposition that should never have been on the ballot. Is that clear?

We are talking, of course, about the same-sex marriage.

In some topics of equality concerning gender, we are far ahead of other countries; for instance, we allow women to drive a car, we even let them vote. In other matters we are not so revolutionary: I trust you guess immediately what GSAFE stands for; naturally, it means “Gay-Straight Alliance for Equality.” This is a new organization that deserves our full support since its main goal is to become unnecessary.

The whole thing reminds me of what I recently read in some old document, which claims that all men are born equal and endowed with certain inalienable rights. Ever heard of it?
Feb. 24, 2009
Separate prostitution, prostitutes

The world around us is in flames. Thousands of people are killed every day, yet we face a much more horrendous event right before our eyes: Prostitution, disguised as “massage,” right here in the middle of our very own Davis.

Prostitution is often called “the world’s oldest profession.” Wrong! Medical societies were founded long before there was organized prostitution. Please give us credit for that.

Yet the letters to The Enterprise on this topic have one common error: They use “prostitutes” and “prostitution” as identical terms. Personally, I happen to be thoroughly opposed to prostitution, which in addition to presenting a clear and present danger to public health, humiliates both parties, vendor and customer alike.

Prostitutes, on the other hand, are separate individuals, each with his or her own personal history. While I was public health director, I believe I met most, if not all, of those working in our county. On the whole they were polite, honest, cooperative and grateful for the medical services they received.

To summarize: Prostitution is an unhealthy organization that should be abolished as far as possible. Prostitutes are people in need who should be treated with the same respect and compassion as any other patient.
Oct. 9, 2008
With liberty and justice for all

Supporters of Proposition 8, which seeks to bar same-sex marriage, have every right to express their opinion, to influence their legislators, to persuade other voters to share their belief.

There is one thing, however, which they should not do, namely to recite our pledge of allegiance, which demands liberty and justice for all. This appears to be against their conviction and therefore when reciting the pledge, their heart is not the right place for their right hand.
Sept. 23, 2008
Open your eyes, and say yes to W

Many of us, understandably enough, begin to close our eyes and say no before we even open the envelope in our daily stack of mail. We know it contains another request for money that we cannot afford, much as we might like to. Yet what we need to support to our last penny are our children and their education. In most other aspects we have trained ourselves not to feel guilty for saying no, yet there is an exception:

Open your eyes for a moment and read Measure W for the coming election. Measure W protects children and their education alone, nothing else. Read the details to convince yourself. In a world full of flames, with war on earth and ill will to men, only well-educated children may hope to create a better world.

Thank you for saying yes to Measure W! You may close your eyes again.
May 29, 2008
Make Steve work harder than ever

Qualified and desirable for re-election as Stephen Souza certainly is, he does not sound very forceful in saying good things about himself. “Green, safe, smart” is all, says his poster, but those are only basic requirements for living in Davis.

So let me be a lot more positive than Steve is about himself: He has been one of the most capable members of our City Council for many years; most people agree with his policies and are his friends, yet he also knows how to disagree without being hostile. He is generous with his time, thoughtful about his work; his sense of humor is good, his dancing fair but promising.

By all means, let’s keep Steve in office and make him work harder than ever.
May 21, 2008
History teaches us to elect two

Assume we had three imaginary competitors: Mark O’Bama, Billary Clinton and John McBush. One of them may stumble on the way, sprain an ankle and be unable to run. What about the other two? Do we really have to wait until November to end this campaign, which constitutes a danger to public health since it makes more people sick than the flu?

The old Spartans had a brilliant idea: They elected no one but two kings so they could keep an eye on each other and, if necessary for the benefit of the people, kill each other. History is a great teacher!
April 20, 2008
Here’s a succinct assessment
Quinquennial summary:

1. We are losing both wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

2. Those who are still being killed as a daily routine are dying in vain.

3. On to Iran!
Dec. 12, 2007
Leave capital, don’t come back

Again, Congress authorizes untold billions of dollars to pay for an endless war; again without limits of time money or lives. Our worldwide reputation is where it should be, at its nadir; clearly our fault since, we, the people, elected and re-elected the culprits.

Loudly enough to be heard by all voters, I would like to say to the president, all bloodthirsty Republicans, all gutless Democrats: Election is near; go home, stay home, don’t ever come back! You are a disgrace.

As always, I am deeply grateful to be able to say that openly, without having to fear (at least not yet) being “interrogated” for my beliefs. Thank you, my government, I feel better now. I hope you don’t.
Oct. 31, 2007
Trust librarians, and vote yes on P

For a long time, I had been trying to think of what could be said against Measure P, which urges us to “continue Davis’ commitment to literacy, learning and libraries.” I could not come up with any valid objection and it did not help to read in the sample ballot that “no argument against Measure P was submitted.”

Yet there is one danger that comes to my mind, namely that our librarians may make the same mistake I made when I served as volunteer librarian in a public library, which I did for many years, untrained, unpaid, full of good will but nothing else.

My mistake: If people wanted to hear it or not, I told them what to read, which books to give to their children, for which library supporters to vote. I told them there was nothing more important than to educate our children, to make literacy or priority, to spend money on peace instead of war. Even worse, I had the “right” books ready for them instead of letting them make their own choice.

If you think such danger may repeat itself, you may be hesitant in making your decision. Otherwise, let us hold hands and shout in friendship: Yes on P!
Oct. 9, 2007
I’m feeling contempt for politics

A trillion dollars or more for war? Absolutely, that’s the patriotic way to go. Millions or, heavens forbid, even some billions to insure and feed hungry children? Absolutely not, that would be “socialized medicine”; what is worse, it might inhale some life into our lifeless “No Child Left Behind” program. Only a presidential veto can protect us from such attack on our basic values.

Survey after survey in our mailbox ask us what we think of our president’s policies and of the congressional members who do not have the brain and the guts to vote against him. Obviously, it is not for me to say what “we” feel about it all; yet the first word that comes to my own mind is “contempt.”
June 20, 2007
Apollo, please bring on the rain
546 B.C. Croesus, King of Lydia, went to Delphi to ask the oracle what would happen if he started an unprovoked attack on Persia whose king he considered to be his enemy. Apollo gave his ominous reply: You will destroy a great empire.

Triumphantly, Croesus invaded Persia, was soundly defeated and destroyed a great empire, namely his own. He was put on a pyre to be burned to death, yet when the flames approached he suddenly gained a moment of insight into his behavior and begged for forgiveness. Mercifully, Apollo sent a heavy rainstorm, which extinguished the fire.

Half a decade ago another king decided to repeat history. He did not ask for an oracle but simply “recognized” that his perceived enemy accumulated “nuclear” weapons. He started a pre-emptive war, declared “mission accomplished” and has lost the war ever since.

He stands on a political pyre, surrounded by flames. Should he ever gain a moment of insight, may Apollo have mercy, drench him in a rainstorm and keep him safely wet for the rest of his royal tenure.
May 20, 2007
A little ditty for The Enterprise
In his otherwise rational column on May 9, Dick Dorf bewails the anticipated death of all newspapers; he admonishes us to suggest possible methods of salvation to the editors of local papers of which he lists two, the Sacramento Bee and The Davis Enterprise.

To do that, we must try to answer three questions: Firstly, speaking of “local” papers, how certain are we that Sacramento is located in Davis? Is the mighty river no longer strong enough to separate their mediocrity from our supremacy? Secondly, if The Enterprise needed to be saved, which earthly power would be able to perform such Herculean task?

Lastly and most importantly, even if we could save The Enterprise, why would we want to do that? Would we not spend our time much more fruitfully by listening to the endless and stupid commercials on the air?

The answer: None of the above! Instead, let us hold hands and sing together:

The Enterprise softens the news
To shield us from global abuse;
It makes us think solo,
It keeps us in Yolo.
It’s the paper which all of us choose.

May 6, 2007
Liberty and justice for all?

Homosexuality is sin. Same-sex partnership is sin. To practice medicine without a license is legal if you happen to be a judge on the Supreme Court. People who believe that have an absolute right to express their opinions freely, any time and any place.

Yet there is one thing they should not do, namely to recite our pledge of allegiance, which calls for liberty and justice for all. Obviously, this is in contrast to their conviction and therefore they should not contaminate the purity of our pledge with the impurity of their voice.
Nov. 13, 2006
Our soldiers should go home
“We shall not leave until the job is done,” said our president.

Mr. President, the job is done: Thousands of Americans, perhaps hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, have been killed or crippled; Iraq is amidst civil war; we have become their invading enemy; after a farcical trial Saddam Hussein has been found guilty; using his own lowest level of humanity, he is to be hanged; the defending attorneys have been assassinated; his friends are fighting for their beloved dictator; our own so-called allies have had it, they are going home. So should our soldiers, starting today; they are brave and innocent of the catastrophe that unwillingly they have produced. The job is done.

And while our soldiers are going home, everybody who provoked this unholy war in the White House and in the Pentagon should go home with them. It would be an example of perennial (or at least biennial) grace if the president himself were to follow their lead.
Oct. 26 2006
The best we can do is come home

After Somalia, Vietnam, during Iraq, Afghanistan, before North Korea, Iran, could we stop for a minute and think of something other than war? We are a wonderful country but, at least of late, fighting does no seem to be our greatest skill. We are still prepared for an “honest” war but we are unwilling to accept such un-American behavior as suicide bombing, car bombing and similar atrocities.

What can be done instead of war? Peace? Probably not. Humans are aggressive and self- destructive animals who have been killing each other ever since we came into being; we shall probably “stay the course.”

Among other possibilities it has been suggested, absurdly enough, that we might be safer by disarming and thereby presenting no danger to others (people are still laughing at this joke).

The best we can probably do is to come home, keep our guns in our pockets and determine to use them for nothing but self-defense, however future presidents may define that term. This game we could play for a few more generations; eventually, we may be “demoted” like poor little Pluto.
Oct. 6, 2006
Have the dark ages returned
The current debate about lethal injections as a form of execution raises essential questions: Is it humane? Does it hurt? If so, how much and how long? Is it ethical? Living in today’s world, we could add another question: Is it economical? For instance, are killing drugs covered by health insurance?

All those questions can be answered completely by a thoroughly tested and universally successful method: The guillotine. It severs the spinal cord within a moment and thereby eliminates any sensation. It even answers the ethical problem since it would hardly be necessary for a physician to certify that a decapitated corpse is really quite dead.

One thing, however, needs to be changed immediately: “Lethal injection” is a frightening term and needs to be changed to a more cheerful, more positive one. Words change everything. You remember how recently we changed the bothersome word “torture” to “interrogation” and thereby solved the whole problem? What would a good term be for “lethal injection”? Perhaps “vital transformation”?

A serious question: How far are we today from what we used to call the Dark Ages?
July 23, 2006
In despair, we just have to laugh

Mass murder, mass destruction, geological catastrophes and so forth have become a dull routine to which we pay a casual glance in the newspaper before we turn to the sports page for more essential items such as a head bump at the end of a game. In the meantime, our busy legislators fight each other on such momentous items as gay marriage, flag burning and other topics that may be useful for the upcoming election.

Now we have added another point to elevate our global reputation: Before the unbelieving eyes of a scientific society we (yes, it is “we,” not “he”) have vetoed stem cell research on the ground that no matter how dead the embryonic cells may be now, at some time they must have been alive, an undeniable fact for which we should honor them and give them a decent funeral.

But let’s be fair: In the gruesomely murderous world we have created, there is hardly anything left worth laughing about. To spend untold billions to fight the “enemy” but to deny a tiny fraction of that sum for potentially ground-breaking medical research on “moral” grounds leaves you two choices: Cover your face and cry, or look up to heaven and laugh. Why not laugh?
June 29, 2006
Davis’ cautionary fairy tale
Once upon a time, a Davis police officer pulled a girl out of her bed and took her to the police station without her parents to settle a minor accident case that already had been settled. The Human Relations Commission, of which I am proud to be a member, immediately decided that what mattered was not the car, the money or anything other than the fact that the car was driven by a “minority” member, which clearly made it a case of racial discrimination.

Some of us whispered discreetly that the commission should live up to its beautiful name of improving human relations. A big battle ensued between two imaginary opponents — the “community” and “police.”

The chief resigned, explaining that it had not been his own decision but that the mighty commission had deprived him of his power, in spite of the fact that he had studied clinical psychology. Of course, had he studied a little harder he would have learned that in Davis the prerequisite for being police chief is not psychology but astrology.

By that time the City Council became involved and cautioned wisely: Watch it, if you want more oversight, you might get what you asked for. Then came the final blow, the judge’s verdict: No need to worry, everything completely legal; quit fighting, kids, go back home and help mother wash the dishes. Case dismissed.

A purely personal question: Isn’t Davis a wonderful place in which all of us would love to live forever?
May 19, 2006
I consider the outcome a success

Although I had no part in drafting the proposed resolution of the Human Relations Commission concerning police supervision, I would like to be allowed a brief comment: The commission stated, and rightly so, that among the many factors to be considered, juvenile justice and mental disorders should receive appropriate attention.

To interpret that to mean, as we hear over and over again, that a schoolchild and a demented person should be in charge of making the final decision is in my humble opinion too silly to discuss.

The fact: The City Council requested and received a number of suggestions and selected one which they thought to be most promising. There is no reason to judge all others as a failure. Personally, I consider the outcome a success.
May 9, 2006
Lenzi is pleasantly tough

Some election choices are difficult, others are easy: As a forensic child psychiatrist, I find it quite easy to vote for Pat Lenzi, who has been working in the Yolo County District Attorney’s Office for many years, mainly in the field of child protection.

She lists herself as a “tough prosecutor” though she neither looks nor talks tough; yet she assured me that she was as tough as anyone could be. I presume her own children would be glad to testify to that.

Pat’s professional record speaks for itself and she appears well qualified to take over the D.A.’s Office. Lenzi for district attorney: She is pleasantly tough.
April 23, 2006
We’re done in Iraq; on to Iran!

Is this really all the “media” can give us? The same daily dull routine: How many people killed in the war, how many bombs, how many “civilians, women, children and so forth? Could they not be a bit more entertaining and report more on ball games, perhaps fashion shows? Once in a while a thrilling sex scandal? Lastly, the tragicomedy of a press conference that teaches us how well everything is going?

Is it going well, indeed: Don’t you remember how the good people of Iraq, right after their historical liberation, first seriously considered an orderly elected government before they decided, again on their own free will, to kill each other instead?

And even if once in a while some murderous upheaval occurs, who is guilty? Clearly the Danes with their perverted sense of humor in their cartoons! Anyhow, we have done our job in Iraq. On to Iran!

March 21, 2006
Someone who counts must stand up

The president’s approval rating is now at its lowest, though still too high for my taste. Yet if the Democrats cannot do more than point their finger at the Republicans and whine about the way things are going all over the world, they don’t deserve much better.

What we need is for someone who counts to stand up, declare an end to the increasingly meaningless phrase “war on terror,” which guarantees nothing but perennial war; someone who determines that if all the “liberated” Iraqis can do is kill each other we shall at least no longer participate in their civil (or, better, uncivil) war; someone who gives the president an honorable choice: Admit defeat, declare peace at least in our country, spend the next few trillions of dollars on peace and justice; or resign and let somebody else do the job.
March 3, 2006
Hey, I’m really not the ‘enemy’

In an earlier letter to The Enterprise I emphasized that our police and the Human Relations Commission were aiming at the same goal, namely peace and justice, and should never play the game of “enemy” versus “victim” in cases of alleged discrimination.

Recently during a City Council meeting a man stood up, shouted my name twice and declared that the letter clearly identified me as the enemy. He did not say against whom, but I assume he meant the police.

Needless to say, I have no intention to accuse this gentleman of intentional distortion of the truth, he may simply be unable to understand what he reads. Apart from that, it may be unsettling for him to learn that I happen to be a graduate of the Citizens’ Police Academy. Perhaps a short course in basic English may help him to clarify his distorted image of a fantasized “enemy.”

In the meantime, I wish him luck.
Feb. 17, 2006
Board would bring us together

Some letters in The Davis Enterprise on Sunday clearly demonstrate the gross misunderstanding concerning a proposed oversight committee for our police, as suggested by the Human Relations Commission. The letters are hostile and imply that the purpose of such action would be to protect our community from an aggressive police force whose members intentionally discriminate against members of certain minority groups.

If this were the case, I would promptly separate myself from such undertaking. Fortunately the opposite is true: There can be no question that on occasions officers said or did things which, rightly or wrongly, were interpreted as aggressive and discriminatory. The main purpose of the proposed oversight group would be to bring the “enemy” and the “victim” together, listen to their stories and try to understand the feeling of anger and helplessness resulting from such events.

All the commission does, and all it can do, is to submit such proposal to the City Council, whose members have every right to accept, modify or reject it. Whatever their decision may be, I trust they will not be as prejudiced and hostile as some of the letters to The Enterprise.
Jan. 31, 2006
Health positions should be joined

This refers to a recent article in The Enterprise that describes the grand jury’s unfavorable opinion of our Public Health Department. Among other unfriendly statements, it contains a recommendation that I feel would be disastrous, namely to split the position of health officer and public health director into two.

Having served in this “double” position for more than 20 years, it seems obvious to me that the “two” are widely overlapping and aiming at the identical goal, namely the public health of our communities. Should the job be too much for a single person, the obvious solution would be to add a qualified assistant to whom appropriate tasks could be delegated. Apparently, nobody talked to the current director before publishing the report.

I had a similar experience some decades ago: Although the grand jury report of what was then my department was quite favorable, I had no idea of this investigation before I read it in The Enterprise. I think that as a matter of competence as well as professional courtesy it should be a requirement to interview personally every person mentioned in the report rather than only those who, rightly or wrongly, complain about the way things are going.

I hope the next grand jury may present a more complete picture.
Oct. 9, 2005
Sheila Allen gets my vote

There is a candidate running for the school board who probably does not know what life she and her family are going to lead after her election. Otherwise, she seems to know what she is doing: She is a nurse, active in Davis schools for many years as a community organizer, PTA president and so forth.

Of course, she has a Ph.D. and is a professor, but who in Davis cannot say that? She also claims to be a soccer player, but of that I would have to be convinced. She is endorsed by almost everyone in Davis who counts: officials, educators and community members.

There was no room for my signature on her pamphlet, so I am betraying the secrecy of the ballot and concede openly that I shall vote for her; and I trust that you will too. Oh, by the way, her name is Sheila Allen.
Aug. 26, 2005
This meeting was a disgrace

“Opponents bite back” says The Enterprise (Aug. 24) about the West Nile meeting that ended “in frustration” after “things got ugly.” Those words are far too complimentary for what actually happened: The “opponents” had nothing to “bite back” since nobody had bitten them before. “Frustration” is hardly the term for the scandalous behavior they exhibited, and “ugly” is not a synonym for malicious.

Amidst all the yelling, shouting, interrupting and threatening, there, was also a lecture on “democracy,” delivered on kindergarten level and shouted loud enough to overshout all other shouters.

This teaching has been very helpful since many of us had never heard the word “democracy” and few of us would know how to spell it. But now we know how to conduct a truly democratic meeting: interrupt, take over, shout, know everything, always be right, never listen!

No, this meeting was not a confusion; it was a disgrace. Sprayed or unsprayed, even mosquitoes might agree.
July 3, 2005
How about an anthem for peace?

To lower our national anthem one octave, as the City Council considers, would be a blessing for all, particularly for men, most of whom have trouble singing soprano.

Yet while we are at it, why not do away with the whole thing, tune and words alike? “Bombs bursting in air,” in spite of their daily occurrence in Iraq, are nothing to cheer about. “My country ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty” sounds much more enticing, much more genuine in its desire to let freedom ring.

Might our City Council be willing to start a revolution for patriotic Davisites and change our anthem from war to peace? It surely would put Davis on the map!
March 31, 2005
This war’s a catastrophic failure

Even those of us who firmly opposed the war right from the beginning felt that the overthrow of Iraq’s gruesome dictatorship was a brave and welcome event. Yet today, two years after the famous statue fell down, many Iraqis begin to say that life under Saddam Hussein was easier than after their “liberation.”

Death and injury to our soldiers and to uncountable “enemies” continue to rise; murderous attacks have become a daily routine; our allies, however few we may still have, are leaving the scene while the number of so-called insurgents appears to be on the increase. Our financial debt adds one zero after another; our international reputation has reached its nadir.

Time has come to say that this war has been, is and continues to be, in every respect, a complete and irreversible catastrophic failure. If that was our goal, “mission accomplished.”
March 15, 2005
Still innocent

Everybody wins: The two brainless boys who attacked schools and churches needed publicity, and they certainly achieved it; in doing so, they reminded us that our beloved hometown is not quite invulnerable and that from time to time we must stand up and say loudly and clearly where we stand. In doing so, we protect ourselves from committing the sin of apathy. We did, and in this respect we win.

Yet we must be careful not to return hate with hate, which would only multiply hate, even if this idiocy should finally be classified as “hate crime.” We need to find out as much as possible about the culprits; painful as it may feel, they are innocent until proven guilty.

Jan. 27, 2005
Unforgettable night
To say that I was overwhelmed by the response to my birthday would be a gross understatement. Please allow me to express my most heartfelt thanks to all those who arranged the party; to the I-House for their hospitality; to the many, many of you who attended; for the multitude of letters and presents I received; for the most gracious declarations from all levels of government (although I must admit I received no single word from President Bush); thanks to the many who called or visited; to the firefighter ready to extinguish the 95 candles although I beat her and blew them out myself.

My most humble gratitude to our distinguished mayor, members of the City Council, the Yolo County Board of Supervisors and the state Assembly.

Last, not least, The Enterprise, where Bob Dunning and Cory Golden allowed me more than ample space. It was an unforgettable adventure and I feel 7 inches taller than I am!

Nov. 24, 2004
A nice diversion

Wasting hours of TV time and pages of newspaper space on the recent ballgame brawl is almost as stupid as the incident itself. After all, making millions of dollars for throwing a ball does not exclude you from idiotic behavior.

On second thought, this may become a welcome change from the dull daily routine about more death on the unending battlefield, more trillions of debt, more isolation from the rest of the world. After all, aren’t we once in a while entitled to some cheerful entertainment?

Special to The Enterprise

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