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          in the early hours of the standoff Sunday.
PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER ROBERT RITTENHOUSE on Hearst Avenue in the early hours of the standoff Sunday.


Armed Standoff Ends Peaceably, Neighbors Praise Berkeley Police

Tuesday August 12, 2003

A standoff between police officials and an armed suspect ended peacefully Monday after 24 hours of negotiations. 

Anthony Wade Arrington Jr., a 23-year-old Fremont resident, surrendered to the Berkeley Police Department’s (BPD) Barricaded Subject Hostage Negotiation Team (BSHNT) shortly before 12:30 p.m. on Monday, 24 hours after barricading himself inside a West Berkeley apartment with a firearm. 

Arrington walked out of the apartment unarmed and was handcuffed and led to a waiting police car without incident, said BPD public information officer Kevin Schofield. The standoff began at 11:54 a.m. Sunday when a resident of a building on the 1900 block of 10th Street called police to report sighting a man with a gun. 

BPD officers responding to the call were forced to dive for cover after a shot was fired from the doorway of the apartment building. One police officer sustained a mild head injury from a piece of shrapnel, but did not require medical attention. 

Meanwhile, Arrington had run back inside the building and locked himself in the apartment, refusing to surrender. BSHNT officials arrived at the scene within an hour. 

Neighbors said that the apartment where Arrington staged the standoff belongs to his girlfriend, who had reportedly been in the building before Arrington fired his first shot. Christine Davis, who lives directly beneath that apartment, said that Arrington and his girlfriend had been in the building together and that she had heard arguing from above. 

“I had been on the phone with (Arrington’s) girlfriend just an hour before I heard the shot,” she said. “She didn’t say anything was wrong, and then an hour later I heard arguing, but nothing serious—just an intense discussion. Then we heard the shot. I’m not sure what happened.” 

Davis said that after the first shot, Arrington called her on the phone and said “Chris, get out of the house, take all the kids and get out of the house.” Then he said “I love you.” Davis said that police later took another family in the building, a grandmother and some kids, out on a ladder. 

Davis said that Arrington had temporarily pulled his gun away from the window in order to allow her to escort her children out of the building. 

When it became clear that the standoff would last much of the night, BPD officials made arrangements for the Davises and other area families to stay in local hotels.  

“We were just sitting around until about 11:00,” Davis said. “Then they made arrangements for us to have a place to sleep. In the morning we came back and have just been sitting around waiting.” 

Police cordoned off the area between Ninth and Tenth and Hearst and University for the twenty four hours that the siege lasted, leaving many residents stranded. Attorney Bart Selden, who lives within the area, wasn’t allowed to drive his car out until morning. Ellen Gailing, a Richmond photographer, left her terrier Pepper in her car for ten minutes while she made a quick stop at Amsterdam Art when the shooting started, leaving Pepper marooned in the car until she finally got a veterinarian from Pet Emergencies on University to talk police into rescuing the stranded dog eight hours later. 

Schofield said that the police department’s hostage negotiation team, including mental health specialists, worked through the night to continue communication with Arrington, a process that he said Arrington was willing to participate in. Berkeley Police Negotiator Team Leader Rob Westerhoff led police talks with Arrington, and Westerhoff himself escorted the suspect to a police car after he surrendered. 

“He kept the lines of communication open with us the entire time,” Schofield said. “We knew that we would be able to convince him to come out peacefully at some point because as long as he was willing to talk to us, we were willing to talk to him.” 

Arrington was also speaking with his parents during most of the night from a cell phone in the apartment. His mother, Stephanie Braveboy of Richmond, said came to the area with several other family members and friends to try to reach him after her son called on her cell phone. 

His father, Anthony Arrington Sr., said that he had spoken with his son “five or six times” during the night. The elder Arrington also made a televised plea Sunday night for his son to throw the gun out the window of the apartment building and surrender. 

“He told me that he would give himself up if I escorted him out of the building,” Arrington Sr. said. “I just don’t know why it took so long for that process to happen.” 

Arrington Sr. described his son as a “kind and loving” person who generally stayed out of trouble with the police. “I was worried about him more than anything,” the elder Arrington said. “It was hard not knowing what he was going through to make this happen. I still don’t know what was going on with him.” 

Neighbors expressed similar sentiments about the younger Arrington, who Davis said had been dating her upstairs neighbor, for over a year. Most described him as a quiet person who participated in neighborhood life and took a special liking to area children. 

“He gave my son a Playstation a few months back,” Davis said. “They played together a lot. Something serious must have happened, because he’s not generally like this. Hopefully this can be fixed.” 

Police officers searched the apartment, where they seized a handgun. Upon his surrender, Arrington was taken to the Berkeley City Jail, where he was charged with assault with a firearm, felony possession of a handgun, firing a weapon into an inhabited dwelling, and a probation violation. 

Davis, an Administration of Justice student at Contra Costa College, said she was very impressed with the way the Berkeley Police handled the confrontation. “They did everything right according to the book,” she said. Her fiancé, Denmore Rice, commended police for “a remarkable job.” He and Davis plan to send a letter praising Officer John Nutterfield for his sensitive handling of the evacuation. 

Neighbor Jesus Avila, who said he’s lived at Finn Hall on Tenth Street with his four children for 14 years without seeing any previous violence, commented that the police “had the opportunity to take him down, and they didn’t do it.” He said that “in Oakland or San Jose, he’d be dead.” 

Davis agreed, adding, “but Berkeley, thank goodness, is still Berkeley.”

Berkeley This Week

Tuesday August 12, 2003


Bay Area Coalition for Head- 

waters meets at 7 p.m. at the Rockridge Library, 5366 College Ave., near Rockridge BART, Oakland. 835-6303.  

Berkeley Camera Club meets at 7:30 p.m., at the Northbrae Community Church, 941 The Alameda. 525-3565. www.berkeleycameraclub.org 


“Grabbing Headlines With Street Theater: A Media Workshop for Activists” world premier video screening at 7 p.m. at Berkeley Gray Panthers, 1403 Addison St. 548-9696.  

Berkeley Peace Walk and Vigil at the Berkeley BART Sta- 

tion. Vigil at 6:30 p.m. followed by Peace Walk at 7 p.m. www. 


Twilight Tour: Succulents for Your Garden at 5:30 p.m. at the UC Botanical Garden, 200 Centennial Drive. Cost is $5, registration required. 643-2755. 

South Berkeley Mural Project Community members in South Berkeley are coming together to create a neighborhood mural on the side of the Grove Liquor Store on the corner of Ashby Ave. and Martin Luther King, Jr. Way. Meetings are held every Wednesday night at 7:30 p.m. at Epic Arts Studios at 1923 Ashby Ave. For further information on ways to get involved please call 644-2204. 

Community Dances, traditional English and American dances, 8 p.m. every Wednesday, $9. 7 p.m. first Sunday, $10. Grace North Church, 2138 Cedar St. 233-5065. www.bacds.org 

Free Feldenkrais ATM Classes for adults 55 and older at 10:30 and 11:45 a.m. at the Jewish Community Center, 1414 Walnut at Rose. For information call 848-5143.  

Berkeley CopWatch open office hours 7 to 9 p.m. Drop in to file complaints, assistance available. For information call 548-0425. 


East Bay Watershed Forum Kick-Off Meeting from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Oakland City Hall, Hearing Room 4. Agencies, organizations, and citizens interested in East Bay creeks and watersheds are encouraged to come. The Forum is a project of the new East Bay Watershed Center at Merritt College. It is envisioned as a network for local creek and watershed groups to share ideas, pool resources, and collaborate on projects. For more information, call 434-3840 or 434-3841 or email ecomerritt@aol.com 

“Doing it Right - Hiring a Licensed Contractor,” video presentation at 1 p.m. at the North Berkeley Senior Center. 981-5190. 

Lawyers in the Library, at 6 p.m. in the South Branch, Russell at MLK Jr. Way. 981-6260.  


Reception for New BHS Principal, Jim Slemp The Berkeley High School PTA cordially invites the Berkeley High Community to a reception welcoming new BHS Principal Jim Slemp to Berkeley, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in the lobby of the Community Theater on the BHS campus. Light refreshments will be served. To volunteer or for more information call Barbara Coleman, PTSA Vice-President 704-9939. colemanbarbara@comcast.net 

Magic: The Gathering and Yu-Gi-Oh! Open to all youth familiar with the games, at 2 p.m. in the Story Room at the Berkeley Central Library, 2090 Kittredge. 981-6223. www.infopeople.org/bpl 

Women in Black Vigil, from noon to 1 p.m. at UC Berkeley, Bancroft at Telegraph. wibberkeley@yahoo.com 548-6310, 845-1143. 

Meditation, Peace Vigil and Dialogue, gather at noon on the grass close to the West Entrance to UC Berkeley, on Oxford St. near University Ave. Sponsored by the Buddhist Peace Fellowship. 496-6000, ext. 135.  


City of Berkeley Party For Your Health A free day-long health fair starting at 11 a.m. with information and activities on nutrition and fitness, breastfeeding, HIV, children’s head start, blood pressure checks, cholesterol/diabetes screening. Workshops, presentations, health food samples, children activities and live music. At San Pablo Park Community Center, 2800 Park St. For information call Joy Moore, 981-5364.  

Berkeley Association of Neighborhood Associations meets at 9:15 a.m. in the Fireside Room, St. John’s Presbyterian Church, 2727 College Ave. 587-3257. www.berkeleycna.com 

Free Emergency Preparedness Class on Disaster First Aid, for anyone who lives or works in Berkeley, from 9 a.m. to noon at 997 Cedar St., between 8th and 9th Sts. Register on-line at www.ci.berkeley. 

ca.us/fire/oes or call 981-5506. 

Summer Days and Nights in Albany, a small-town street fair, from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Solano and San Pablo Aves. Features live entertainment including music, a lion dance, jugglers, and more. 525-1771.  

The Importance and Magic of Butterflies in the Garden A free presentation, from 10:30 a.m. to noon, with butterfly experts Andy Liu and Sally Levinson. Learn how to attract butterflies to your garden by creating caterpillar habitat. The presentation will include an amazing lifecycle video and live specimens of all life stages. This is a fragrance-free event. Please do not wear perfume, cologne, etc. Held at the Ecology Center, 2530 San Pablo Ave. 548-3333. www.ecologycenter.org 

Acupuncture and Integrative Medicine College will hold an Open House from 9:45 to noon at 2550 Shattuck Ave. For more information or to register please call 666-8248. www.aic-berkeley.edu 


From Sheep To Sweater What happens to the sheep fleece? Find out as we demonstrate carding, spinning, weaving, felting and knitting, from 2 to 4 p.m. at Tilden Nature Area. Free. Wheelchair accessible. 525-2233.    

Urban Habitat Bicycle Ride  

Hop on your cycle and pedal to the restored wetlands of Oakland’s Arrowhead Marsh. Easy, flat, and accessible by public transit! 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. 415-255-3233. http://greenbelt.org/getinvolved/outings/green_reservation.html 

Free Hands-on Bicycle Repair Clinic, at 11 a.m. at REI, 1338 San Pablo Ave. 527-4140. 

Tibetan Buddhism, Robin Caton on “Sacred Breath” at 6 p.m. at the Tibetan Nyingma Institute, 1815 Highland Pl. 843-6812. www.nyingmainstitute.com 

Eckhart Tolle Talks on Video Free gathering at 7:30 p.m. to hear the words of the author of “The Power of Now” at the Feldenkrais Ctr., 830 Bancroft Way. 547-2024. EdShorelin@aol.com 


Teachers’ Eco-Networking Lunch High school and middle school teachers interested in environmental education are invited to EarthTeam’s 3rd annual luncheon, co-sponsored by the CREEC Network and UCB’s Env. Sci. Teaching Program at 11:30 a.m. at First Congregational Church of Berkeley, 2345 Channing Way, entrance on Dana. The free event will include a panel of teachers, each making short presentations about their areas of expertise, followed by questions and answers. For information call 925-274-3669. CindyS@earthteam.net 


Berkeley CopWatch organizational meeting at 6 p.m. at 2022 Blake St. Join us to work on current issues around police misconduct. Volunteers needed. For information call 548-0425. 


CodePink Women’s Activist Training Camp, Aug. 15 - 17. Join women of all ages and backgrounds for a weekend of activist training sessions and outdoor fun at Chabot Regional Park. Cost is $20-$50 sliding scale, includes campsite, trainings, and dinner on Fri. and Sat. nights. For information 415-575-5555. peace@globalexchange.org www.codepinkbayarea.org 

Summer Fun Camps for Children and Teens, from age five and up, are offered at Berkeley recreation centers through Aug. 22, Mon. - Fri., 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The fee, including lunch and snack, is $77 per week for Berkeley residents. Sponsored by the City of Berkeley’s Parks Recreation and Waterfront Department. Applications for the camps can be picked up at the Camps Office, located at 2016 Center Street, or can be mailed upon request. 981-5150. 

Echo Lake Youth Camp For ages 6 - 12 at Echo Lake, near South Lake Tahoe. One week sessions are offered between July 7 and August 22. Cost is $235 per session. For registration information please visit the City of Berkeley’s Recreation Programs Office at 2016 Center St., or call 981-5150.  

Free Marketing Workshops, sponsored by Sisters Headquarters, for women entrepreneurs, every Wed. from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at 643 17th St. Oakland. For information call 238-1100. 

Vista Community College Program for Adult Education (PACE) Enrollment through Sept. 6. PACE is a college alternative for adults with job and family responsibilities. Enrollment in American Sign Language classes is also being accepted. For information call 981-2864 or 981-2800 or email mclausen@peralta.cc.ca.us  

Free Energy Conservation Retrofits for Berkeley Residents CA Youth Energy Services is a nonprofit sponsored by the City of Berkeley that trains and employs high school students to provide conservation retrofits. Call for an appointment, 428-2357. 

Free Energy Bill Payment Assistance The City of Berkeley has money to help low-income households pay their gas and electric bills. For applications and more information, contact the Energy Office at 644-8544. TDD: 981-6903. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/energy 


Board of Library Trustees meets Wed., Aug. 13, at 7 p.m., at the Central Library, 2090 Kittredge St. Jackie Y. Griffin, 981-6195. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/ 


Waterfront Commission meets Wed., Aug. 13, at 7 p.m., at 201 University Ave. Cliff Marchetti, 644-6376 ext. 224. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/commissions/waterfront 

Corporation Yard Community Meeting to address the storage facility and the placement of modular offices, on Thurs. Aug. 14, at 7 p.m. at the Assem- 

bly Building, 1326 Allston Way, adjacent to the Yard parking lot. Dori Reed, 981-6347. 

Commission on Early Childhood Education meets Thurs., Aug. 14, at 7 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center. Marianne Graham, 981-5416. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/commis- 


Community Health Commission meets Thurs., Aug. 14, at 6:45 p.m., at the South Berkeley Senior Center. William Rogers, 981-5344. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/ 


Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board meets Mon., Aug. 18, at 7 p.m., in City Council Chambers, Pam Wyche 644-6128 ext. 113. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/rent

The Cassandra Factor

Becky O’Malley
Tuesday August 12, 2003

On Sunday afternoon I heard a KQED broadcast of a taped lecture/discussion with author Salmon Rushdie. I wasn’t listening very carefully, and at first I thought Rushdie was commenting on the current state of affairs in occupied Iraq. Eventually I realized that the tape had actually been made sometime in February, before the U.S. invasion started. He was expressing his apprehension about what might take place after the war—destroyed infrastructure, civil chaos, rise of the kind of religious fundamentalism which has caused him a lot of grief in his own life—in short, everything that has indeed happened.  

The interviewer, KQED’s house liberal Michael Krasny, was expressing mild skepticism about Rushdie’s extreme apprehension—it couldn’t possibly be that bad, he seemed to be saying. It was a clear example of the Cassandra Factor at work. 

It never seems to pay to be prematurely right, as poor Cassandra found out many centuries ago. Her name has gone into popular culture as the original bad vibes babe, someone who can’t resist the negative remarks which spoil the party. In fact, in the old Greek story she had the peculiarly unpleasant gift of being able to foretell the future accurately, but in such a way that no one would believe her. 

George Bush takes full advantage of the Cassandra Factor. He and the crew of half-witted failed academics who are running his show make one appalling decision after another, with predictable consequences, but the American media are afraid to call attention to the obvious flaws in the proposals at the time they’re made. UC Professor George Akerlof has articulated with chilling precision the probable consequences of Bush’s cuckoo economic policies, and he’s undoubtedly right. His analysis was picked up by Der Spiegel in Europe and then by the Nation and the Daily Planet, but nowhere else in this country. No one wants to look like a naysayer. 

And the Democrats are no better than the media. If Gray Davis had an ounce of political courage, he’d be running against George Bush in the recall election. It’s all true, he could say, the California economy is tanking, our schools are broke, our roads are falling apart, but it’s because of the Republican derelictions at the national level. On the other hand, if Davis had any political courage at all, he wouldn’t be in this fix. The time to speak out about the consequences of the Bush policies was when they were proposed last year, but most Democrats, including Davis, were still too mesmerized by the post Sept. 11 patriotic frenzy to say anything much. 

Between them, Gray Davis and Cruz Bustamante now have the opportunity to let the people of California know what’s wrong, if they are brave enough to do so. If the two could develop a united message they could both run against Bush and his energy industry cronies like Enron—the cause of most of California’s current budget crisis. 

Under this scenario, the best thing that could happen would be for Dubya to come to California to campaign for Schwarzenegger, which is already a rumor in the press. We do have big trouble, Davis and Bustamante could tell the voters, but it’s something that Bush caused, and the remedy is to dump him and his friends. The last thing California needs, they could say with some confidence, is another one of Bush’s buddies in our governor’s chair. But instead they seem to be floundering around, with Davis especially trying to out-Republican the Republicans, and that won’t work. 

The only candidate so far who’s willing take the Cassandra role and tell the truth is another Greek woman, Arianna Stassinopoulos Huffington. Because of the bizarre mathematics of the process, she might even have a chance to win. There are enough semi-plausible candidates that the margin for the winner could be pretty small, giving outsiders a better than average chance. And if the Hearst Chronicle is any sample, the press coverage of an election with Schwarzenegger in it will look a lot like People Magazine. If the race degenerates into a celebrity contest, Arianna might just turn out to be the most charming celebrity in the field. To my ear, her accent beats his any day. 

Becky O’Malley is Executive Editor of the Daily Planet.  




Arts Calendar

Tuesday August 12, 2003



The Inquiring Camera: “Intoxicated by My Illness” at 7:30 p.m. at the Pacific Film Archive. Cost is $4 members, UC students, $5 UC faculty, staff, seniors, disabled, youth, $8 adults. 642-0808. www.bampfa.berkeley.edu 


Berkeley Summer Poetry, with Julia Vinograd, from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Mediterranean Cafe, 2475 Telegraph Ave. Free, open mic, poetry, prose, short fiction, amateur and advanced artists welcome. 549-1128. 

Raymond Francis discusses his new book “Never be Sick Again” at 7:30 p.m. at Barnes and Noble. 644-0861.  

Diana Winston, Associate Director of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship in Berkeley, will discuss her new book, “Wide Awake: A Buddhist Guide for Teens,” at 7:30 p.m. at Black Oak Books. 486-0698.  



Courtableau at 8:30 p.m. with a Cajun dance lesson with Patti Whitehurst at 8 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $9. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

Dayna Stephens House Jam at 8 p.m. at The Jazz House. Donation $5.649-8744. www.thejazzhouse.com 

Mimi Fox, solo guitar, at 8 p.m. at Downtown, 2102 Shattuck Ave. 649-3810. 



Excess of Evil: “The Brotherhood of Satan” at 7:30 p.m. Pacific Film Archive. Cost is $4 members, UC students, $5 UC faculty, staff, seniors, disabled, youth, $8 adults. 642-0808.  



Berkeley Poetry Slam with host Charles Ellik at 8:30 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $7, $5 with student i.d. 841-2082. www.starryploughpub.com 

Café Poetry and open mic, hosted by Kira Allen at 7:30 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Dona- 

tion requested. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 


Hookside, rockin’ a cappella, at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage Coffee House. Cost is $15.50 in advance, $16.50 at the door. 548-1761.  


African Music Series: Pape and Cheikh from Senegal at 9:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $13 in advance, $15 at the door. 525-5054.  


Jules Broussard and Ned Boynton at 8 p.m. at Down- 

town, 2102 Shattuck Ave. 649-3810. 



The Inquiring Camera: “The Damned and the Sacred” at 8:50 p.m. at the Pacific Film Archive. Cost is $4 members, UC students, $5 UC faculty, staff, seniors, disabled, youth, $8 adults 642-0808. 



Ved Mehta will read from “Dark Harbor: Building House and Home on an Enchanted Island” at 7:30 p.m. at Black Oak Books. 486-0698.  


Grace Martin Smith and Richard Schwartzenberger, translators of “Listening to Istanbul: Selected Poems of Orhan Vei Kanik,” will read the poems and show slides of Istanbul at 7:30 p.m. at Easy Going Travel Shop and Bookstore, 1385 Shattuck Ave. at Rose. 843-3533.  


Stanton Friedman discusses the existence of a UFO cover-up and his new book “Top Secret/MAJIC” at 7:30 p.m. at Barnes and Noble. 644-0861. 


Lúnasa, high energy traditional Irish music, at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage Coffee House. Cost is $17.50 in advance, $18.50 at the door. 548-1761.  


Danny Barnes, The Places at 9:30 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $8. 841-2082.  


Keni El Lebrijano, flamenco guitar, at 8 p.m. at Downtown, 2102 Shattuck Ave. 649-3810. 



Dog Days with stories and songs at 10:30 a.m. at Barnes and Noble. 644-0861. 


Czech Horror and Fantasy on Film: “The Fifth Horse- 

man is Fear” at 7:30 p.m. and “The Ear” at 9:30 p.m. at Pacific Film Archive. Cost is $4 members, UC students, $5 UC faculty, staff, seniors, disabled, youth, $8 adults. 642-0808. www.bampfa.berkeley.edu 

Disinformation Film Series: “Hidden Wars of Desert Storm,” investigating the impact of the use of depleted uranium weapons on US troops, to be shown at 7:30 p.m. against the side of the KTVU Channel 2 building at 2 Jack London Square, Oakland. 528-5403. 


Ben Harper and Jack Johnson at 6:30 pm at the Greek Theatre. 642-0212.  

Valle Son, from Cuba, with vocalist Lázaro at 8 p.m., at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $16 in advance, $18 at the door. 849-2568.  


Malika with Riddimystics and Shashamani Soundsystem perform reggae at 9:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $11. 525-5054.  


Radio Noise, Shit Outta Luck, Shrinkage at 9:30 p.m. at The Starry Plough. All ages welcome. Cost is $7. 841-2082. www.starryploughpub.com 

Crooked Jades, innovative old-time and bluegrass, at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage Coffee House. Cost is $15.50 in advance, $16.50 at the door. 548-1761.  


Jovino Santos Neto and Friends, Brazilian jazz pianist, at 8 p.m. at the Jazzschool. Cost is $12-$18. 845-5373.  


Leonard Thompson at 9:30 p.m. at Downtown, 2102 Shattuck Ave. 649-3810. 

Ludicra, Brainoil, Worm- 

wood, Fall of the Bastards, In the Wake of the Plague perform at 8 p.m. at 924 Gilman St., an all-ages, member-run, no alcohol, no drugs, no violence club. Cost is $5. 525-9926. 

vSoul, featuring Vernon Bush, sing gospel, rhythm and blues and soul, at 8 p.m. at The Jazz House. Suggested donation $10. 649-8744.  


AC Dshe at 9:30 p.m. at Blakes on Telegraph. Cost is $8.  




Jupiter Outdoor Fine Arts Show, from noon to 8 p.m. on Allston Way, between Shattuck and Oxford. Twenty-five Berkeley and East Bay artists will have over 100 works on display. 843-0410. 


Kids on the Block Puppet Show, promoting acceptance and understanding of physical and cultural differences at 2 p.m. at the Hall of Health, 2230 Shattuck Ave., lower level. Sug- 

gested donation $3. Children under 3 free. 549-1564. 


The Inquiring Camera: Tie Xi Qu: West of the Tracks - Part Three: “Rails” at 7 p.m. at the Pacific Film Archive. Cost is $4 members, UC students, $5 UC faculty, staff, seniors, disabled, youth, $8 adults. 642-0808. www.bampfa.berkeley.edu 

“The Warriors” free screening of cult classic drama about NYC gangs in the 1970s, at 8:30 p.m. at the Long Haul, 3124 Shattuck Ave. Wheelchair accessible. 540-0751.  



SEEN Festival 2003, roots and culture reggae at noon at People’s Park. 383-2949. 

New Millennium Strings, Laurien Jones, conductor, Joe Gold, violin, Gwyneth Davis, ‘cello, perform at 8 p.m. at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, 2300 Bancroft, at Ellsworth. Suggested donation $10, children under 12 free. 524-4633. 

North Indian Classical Music, The New Maihar Band, Dr. Sisirkana Chowdhury, violin, and Pandit Swapan Chaudhuri, tabla, at 7:30 p.m. at St. John’s Presbyterian Chirch, 2727 College Ave. Tickets are $12-$20. 415-454-6264. 

African Drum Workshop with Wade Peterson. Beginners from 10 to 11:30 a.m., experienced from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., at The Jazz House. Cost is $15-$25, and advance registration is encouraged. 533-5111. 

Ben Harper and Jack Johnson at 6:30 p.m. at the Greek Theater. 642-0212. 

John Stowell, innovative guitar featuring John Shifflet and Jason Lewis, at 8 p.m. at the Jazz- 

school. Cost is $10-$15. 845-5373. www.jazzschool.com 

High Country, bluegrass band’s 35th anniversary, at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $16.50 in advance, $17.50 at the door. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 

African Rhythm Messengers at 9:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $13. 525-5054.  


Sol Americano, Dank Man Shank, Charles Cooper Quartet, at 9:30 p.m. at Blakes on Telegraph. Cost is $6. 848-0886. www.blakesontelegraph.com 

Captain Fatass, 86 the Band, Little Fuzzy at 9:30 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $6. 841-2082.  


Brian Melvin at 9:30 p.m. at Downtown, 2102 Shattuck Ave. 649-3810. 

Annihilation Time, Iron Lung, The Gate Crashers, Out of Vogue perform at 8 p.m. at 924 Gilman St., an all-ages, member-run, no alcohol, no drugs, no violence club. Cost is $5, $1 if wearing prom clothes! 525-9926. 



W. C. Fields: “The Bank Dick” at 5:30 p.m. at the Pacific Film Archive. Cost is $4 members, UC students, $5 UC faculty, staff, seniors, disabled, youth, $8 adults. 642-0808. www.bampfa.berkeley.edu 


“Crime and Forgiveness: Does Shakespeare Reject the Death Penalty?” California Shakespeare Theater’s InSight Discussion, led by husband and wife professors Hugh Macrae Richmond and Velma Bourgeois Richmond, following the 4 p.m. matinee performance of Shakespeare's “Measure for Measure.” Bruns Amphitheater, Gateway Blvd off Highway 24, Orinda. 548-9666. www.calshakes.org 


Live Oak Concert, La Monica, period instrument sextet with soprano, performs works from the Baroque at 7:30 p.m. at Berkeley Art Center. Cost is $10, BACA members $8, Students and seniors $9. Children under 12 free. 644-6893.  


New Millennium Strings, Laurien Jones, conductor, Joe Gold, violin, Gwyneth Davis, ‘cello, perform at 4 p.m. at Arlington Community Church, 52 Arlington Ave., Kensington. Suggested donation $10, children under 12 free. 524-4633. 

Ben Harper and Jack Johnson at 2:30 pm at the Greek Theatre. 642-0212.  

Egyptian Style Belly Dance at 7:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $10. 525-5054.  


Rusty Evans and Ring of Fire, rockabilly, at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage Coffee House. Cost is $15.50 in advance, $16.50 at the door. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 

Caught in Between at 9:30 p.m. at Blakes on Telegraph. Cost is $3. 848-0886. www.blakesontelegraph.com 

Jeff Massanari Trio blends classic jazz and originals at 4:30 p.m. at the Jazzschool. Tickets are $10-$15. 845-5373. www.jazzschool.com 

Desperate Measures, Far From Breaking, Lights Out, With or Without You perform at 5 p.m. at 924 Gilman St., an all-ages, member-run, no alcohol, no drugs, no violence club. Cost is $5, $1 if wearing prom clothes! 525-9926. 



“The Lighter Side of Crop Circles,” Ben Ailes discusses his photographs at 7:30 p.m. in the Central Library Community Room, 2090 Kittridge at Shattuck. 981-6100.  

Poetry Express, with Judy Wells, plus open mic, from 7 to 9:30 p.m. at Priya Restaurant, 2072 San Pablo Ave.  



California Shakespeare Festival runs until October 22. Performances this year will be Julius Caesar, Arms and the Man, Measure for Measure, and Much Ado About Nothing. Please call for performance dates and times. The Bruns Amphitheater, Orinda. 548-9666. www.calshakes.org  

Shotgun Players, “Mother Courage and Her Children,” by Bertolt Brecht, translated by David Hare, directed by Patrick Dooley. Runs Saturdays and Sundays at 4 p.m. in John  

Hinkle Park, until Sept. 14. No show Aug 9. Show Sept. 13 is at Live Oak Park, Shattuck and Berryman. Free. 704-8210.  


Stage Door Conservatory, “Bye Bye Birdie,” Aug. 15 at 7:30 p.m., Aug. 16 and 17 at 5 p.m., at the Julia Morgan Theater. Tickets are $13 for adults, $8 for children and seniors. Box office opens 45 minutes prior to performance. 527-5939. www.stagedoorconservatory.org  

Teen Playreaders, “Bizarre Shorts,” a festival of brief and absurd dramas for a mature audience. Friday, August 15 and Saturday, August 23 at 7 p.m. at the North Branch Library, 1170 The Alameda. 981-6250. 

Woman’s Will Shakespeare Company, “The Rover,” a restoration comedy by Aphra Behn. Sat., Aug. 16 at 8 p.m. in Live Oak Park. 420-0813. www.womanswill.org

Glen Ellen: Writer’s Home, Delights For Eye, Palate

By KATHLEEN HILL Special to the Planet
Tuesday August 12, 2003

Glen Ellen, just north of Sonoma, resembles a tiny mountain village in which to hide, get lost, walk and hike, and create. It is all of that and a whole lot more, as both Jack London and M.F.K. Fisher discovered. 

A must stop is the Jack London Bookstore, owned and operated since 1972 by Winnie Kingman, who still collects and preserves London’s words and works in this home of the Jack London Foundation. Winnie’s late husband, Russ Kingman, once represented Jack London Square in Oakland, became devoted to Jack London, and wrote several books about the author and his works. After the Kingmans opened the bookstore, they moved London’s daughter Becky to live behind the store in an apartment that now houses the Jack London Research Center. Here you can view every book written about Jack London and even purchase a few first editions and related books and artifacts. 

Across Arnold Drive from the bookstore is Jack London Village, a romantic, rustic dark wood complex built partly by General Mariano Vallejo in 1840. The stone building was home to the Pagani family’s original Glen Ellen winery, which they abandoned in the 1950s. Local literary and ghost lore abound in the building. Do visit The Olive Press cooperative at the southern end of the building, where a person with one olive tree can bring their olives to be pressed into fabulous oil, and “community pressings” take place in November and December. The oils of local growers and pressers are available here, as are numerous olive-related ceramics, books, and art. 

Art studios come and go and are worth exploring, along with the Cellar Cat Café, an interestingly funky tablecloth café with the best Caesar salads in Glen Ellen. Co-chefs Polly Evans-White and husband Greg Burtt cook in the center room, with peaceful outdoor seating overlooking the creek for lunch, dinner, and Sunday brunch with live jazz. 

“Downtown” Glen Ellen is still its old self. Glen Ellen Village Market, the northern branch of the renowned Sonoma Market, is the only new building erected in years, and the best place to get honest sandwiches, salads, interesting takeout, soft drinks, wine, or beer for a picnic in the forest or at a local winery. 

The rest of this half-block village has become a gourmet ghetto unto itself, but without the traffic and parking problems all too familiar to habitués of College or Shattuck avenues. Anyone in search of a potent, inexpensive martini might check out the Jack London Saloon, a spiffed up version of the original but still worth a visit for history and an earful of local gossip.  

Culinary worthies include the Garden Court Café for true country fare from sumptuous salads, sandwiches, huge breakfasts and even chicken-fried steak; Saffron Restaurant for paella, goat cheese cannelloni, crab cakes, and Spanish and local wines; the revered Glen Ellen Inn for sensational so-called no-fat home cooking; Gaige House, one of the world’s great inns with its own in-house chef; and the new Sullivan-Birney winery tasting room. 

Driving up London Ranch Road a mile or so toward Jack London State Park, stop at Benziger Family Winery for a delightful experience for the whole family, with its educational vineyard, Bruno’s Nymph Garden, tram rides, and excellent wines. The nine children of Bruno and Helen Benziger now run the whole operation, as well as their Imagery Estate Winery on Highway 12, also in Glen Ellen. Several years ago the Benzigers sold Glen Ellen Winery to Heublein, and retained the home and original winery, which they have now developed even more beautifully into Benziger Family Winery. 

As you pass under the Benziger farewell sign reading “Thank You for Visiting our Ranch Home,” turn right and head up the hill to Jack London State Park ($5 per car admission, $4 seniors’ car). At the state park you visit London’s Beauty Ranch of oak, madrone, Douglas fir and redwoods with open land and streams, and take three different tours, ride horses, visit London’s Wolf House, his cottage, or visit the House of Happy Walls Museum. 

House of Happy Walls was built by his second wife, Charmian, after London’s death, and offers today’s visitors a collection of London memorabilia, including the souvenirs Jack and Charmian gathered on their South Seas travels. A .6 mile walking trail leads from the house to the Londons’ grave site and the ruins of their dream estate, Wolf House, which burned the night before they were supposed to move in. 

The quarter-mile Lake Trail follows the shore of the 5-acre lake London built to amuse guests, on up to the Mountain Trail and Upper Lake Trail, and includes some segments of moderately difficult walking. Between the trails and linking fire roads, the park offers visitors up to 10 miles of hiking possibilities, including a 1,700-foot climb for the heartier sort. Those needing assistance can ride the Wolf House Express, which runs for free from noon to 4:00 p.m. on weekends. The Cottage shows a French video biography of Jack London and a photo exhibit about the Londons. Dogs are welcome in the historic areas only, not on the trails. Bikes must keep to designated fire roads. 

For a special treat, there’s horseback riding through Triple Creek Horse Outfit, created by Sonoma natives Erin and Dominic Bettinelli, who now offer riding, for all abilities and ages, at Napa’s Bothe-Napa Valley State Park, Sugarloaf Ridge State Park, and here at Jack London, beginning at $40 for one hour, by reservation only (707-933-1600). 


Kathleen Hill writes a series of six Hill Guides to the West Coast with her husband Gerald Hill, including “Sonoma Valley—The Secret Wine Country,” from Globe-Pequot Press. 



Lawsuit Hits School Racial Balance Plan

Tuesday August 12, 2003

A conservative legal group has sued the Berkeley Unified School District, claiming that it has violated California’s ban on affirmative action by seeking racial balance in its elementary schools. 

The well-heeled Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF) filed suit in Alameda County Superior Court last week charging that the district’s student assignment policy—which requires each school’s racial mix to fall within five percent of the district-wide tally—violates Proposition 209. 

That measure, enacted by California voters in 1996, forbids racial preferences in public education, employment and contracting. 

“Berkeley Unified’s policy is discriminatory at the very core,” said Cynthia Cook, an attorney with the Sacramento-based PLF. “Whether a child is able to enter an elementary school in Berkeley depends largely on the color of his skin. That is a flagrant violation of Proposition 209.” 

The suit, threatened for years, sparked an angry reaction from school officials, who are mired in a deep financial crisis. 

“These right-wing Nazis are finally after us,” said Board of Education President Joaquin Rivera. “I’m disappointed that they’re doing this at a time that we’re trying to deal with so many other things. . .The timing is very suspicious.” 

District officials said they haven’t had a chance to review the suit and have not decided whether to challenge it. But at least one Board of Education director is eyeing a possible legal battle. 

“I am concerned about resegregation of the schools,” said Director John Selawsky. “I would prefer to fight this.” 

Pacific Legal Foundation won a similar case, Crawford v. Huntington Beach Unified School District, in California’s Fourth District Court of Appeal last year, and in August 2002, the state Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal—leaving the Fourth District ruling as the law of the land.  

UC Berkeley law professor Jesse Choper said the Huntington Beach precedent leaves Berkeley Unified with little chance of victory in court. 

“The Supreme Court has declined review—bye-bye, that’s the end of the case,” he said. 

PLF’s suit challenges the student assignment policy on behalf of Berkeley resident Lorenzo Avila, who has two sons, ages seven and nine, in the school system. 

Avila, an equal opportunity specialist with the federal government’s Housing and Urban Development office in San Francisco, said he sued because he believes the student assignment plan is clearly illegal and sends a message that students are only welcome at a given school if they fit the right racial category. 

“I don’t think we would want to convey to families that their children are less valuable because of their race or ethnicity,” he said. 

Avila is asking for a change in policy, attorneys’ fees and unspecified monetary damages. But the plaintiff said he will drop the damages request if the district dumps its student assignment plan. 

In 1968 the Berkeley Unified School District became the first district in the nation to voluntarily desegregate, and has been seeking racial balance in its schools ever since. The Board of Education drafted the current five percent policy, known as “controlled choice,” in 1995. 

Under the plan, parents fill out a form indicating their child’s race and listing their top three choices of elementary schools. But the district retains ultimate control, assigning students based, in part, on race. 

District officials have acknowledged that their student assignment policy is on shaky legal ground for at least three years. In 2000, former Superintendent Jack McLaughlin created a Student Assignment Advisory Committee composed of parents, school staff and community members, to weigh alternatives to a race-conscious plan.  

The committee initially recommended that the district stick with its current policy and risk a lawsuit. But a series of court decisions reinforcing Proposition 209 spurred a shift in thinking.  

Last fall, the committee recommended that the district drop race from its school assignment policy and consider four other factors: household income, parental education level, English proficiency and single-parent family status. Pointing to simulations of the proposed plan, committee members said it would maintain racial diversity in the schools.  

The Board of Education never cast a formal vote on the proposal, but three of the five directors—Rivera, Selawsky and Terry Doran—expressed strong reservations about a policy that did not make explicit mention of race. 

Rivera said last week that he is still concerned about an alternative plan. Weighing factors like household income and parent education level might yield racially-mixed schools today, he said, but that could change with time. 

“Any system that doesn’t use race doesn’t guarantee diversity in the future,” he said. 

Rivera pointed to a study, released last week, predicting that 40 of San Francisco’s 114 public schools will be “severely resegregated” this year under a 1999 court order ending race-based enrollment. Racial separation will occur, according to the report, despite a two year-old admissions policy that weighs socioeconomic status, academic achievement, language status and other factors. 

David Levine, one of the attorneys who represented a group of Chinese-American students who sued the San Francisco schools and forced the court order, took issue with the study, arguing that race is not the only valid measure of diversity. Economically and linguistically mixed schools are also diverse, he said. 

Levine also predicted that if Berkeley adopted a similar policy, it would not see such a stark racial resegregation. Berkeley is much smaller than San Francisco, he said, and parents would be less hesitant to send their children across town to a school that includes students of other races. 

PLF’s Cook said any new Berkeley policy that weighs factors like language and household income should pass legal muster, but she warned against any blatant attempts to use those criteria as substitutes for race. 

“Skirting around the edges of Proposition 209 or not complying with the intent of California constitutional law is not acceptable,” she said. 

But Michael Harris, assistant director of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area, said it would be difficult to demonstrate in court that the district was using other factors as mere “proxies” for race. 

“It would be very difficult to prove unless there was some documentation to [show] what they are doing,” he said. 

Selawsky held out hope that a June 23 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that allows the use of race in college admissions could set the stage for a challenge to Proposition 209 and, eventually, a vindication of Berkeley Unified’s current assignment policy. 

But legal experts note that the ruling allows for the consideration of race, but does not require it, and California voters have decided to forbid affirmative action with Proposition 209. The Supreme Court ruling, said UC Berkeley emeritus law professor John Coons, provides no basis for a challenge to the voters’ will.

Letters to the Editor

Tuesday August 12, 2003


Editors, Daily Planet:  

The fact that Attorney General John Ashcroft is now targeting lenient judges is very, very scary. Federal judges no longer can have discretion over handing down sentences in criminal cases.  

Nowhere in our constitution is the principle that everyone has to be in lock-step with one person.  

Where in the federal government is the principle of diversity and the market place for different ideas? 

Anne Smith 




Editors, Daily Planet:  

Many senior citizens are going without vital health care, groceries and recreation because they lack mobility alternatives. Seniors are the fastest-growing segment of the United States population, and those over age 85 make up the fastest growing segment within that population. With no family or nearby friends to assume the role best played by community transportation, the otherwise self-sufficient can end up warehoused in nursing homes.  

A wise investment, community transportation is a highly effective aspect of preventive health care that helps citizens, community and government to avoid more expensive emergency medical services.  

If the current administration’s vows that no Americans should be left behind are to be taken seriously, nonemergency transportation must be made a viable component of Medicare.  

Aging in place also means communities such as Berkeley will sustain their taxi scrip programs for needy seniors. 

At present Berkeley Paratransit Services seems to categorize seniors as either able to bus/BART or as disabled and thus eligible for East Bay Paratransit, a service that provides compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Traditional public transportation is often not a real option for seniors who are not “legally disabled.” Forty-foot fixed-route buses can be inaccessible due to several factors.  

It appears that concern for the taxi scrip situation (as it’s been euphemistically referred to) is on hold. Council went on its July 23-Sept. 8 vacation without even acknowledging the problem. On July 29 I was informed that eligibility criteria are being reevaluated by the Commissions on Aging and Disability (neither is scheduled to meet in August).  

It appears that the City intends to phase out seniors’ taxi scrip by selling tickets for use on East Bay Paratransit, a disabled persons’ service. 

Helen Rippier Wheeler 




Editors, Daily Planet:  

I visited the site of West Campus where the BAS is housed at present. I was amazed how nicely it nestled into the neighborhood and what a great set up it is. It is a campus feeling with inside courtyards and picnic tables. It is attractive and very pleasant looking. There is a swimming pool. I spoke to one of the neighbors and she so much doesn’t want it to leave. 

Moving it to Franklin is creating so many problems and is downgrading the BAS as well as interfering with two neighborhoods who like the way they already are. The Franklin site is ugly and monolithic compared to the West Campus site. It would not be as nice for the students, there would be no swimming facility and the whole neighborhood is up in arms against it.  

There must be a way to remodel the buildings at West Campus and still have the BAS at its present location. It makes no sense to make such a major change that all of the involved players are opposed to for good reasons.  

This move seems only to satisfy the administration and in the end will cause more problems for all. 

Joyce Barison 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

As a parent with a child at the Cedar Street Day Care Center, I’m concerned about the potential health hazard that an antenna on 1600 Shattuck Ave. would pose to schools and day care centers in the community.  

It is unfortunate to hear that city officials are not responsive to demands from the community for information to which they are legally entitled.  

I hope that city officials are forthcoming with the information and I plan to attend the City Council meeting and inform other parents at Cedar Street Child Care about the hearing.  

Michael Marchant  




The following letter was addressed to Council Member Dona Spring. 

I am writing this email regarding an information session held by Sprint to discuss the antennae at 1600 Shattuck Ave. The session was held Aug. 7 at the Senior Center on Hearst Avenue. Please note that such a session should have been held in November 2002, not now. 

The meeting was not really an information session. Sprint had five or six separate tables at which there were one or two representatives. So, people were supposed to go from table to table to ask questions. By doing this, people could not hear the questions raised. Therefore, there could not be a dialogue between people and Sprint representatives. 

Neighbors started to arrange chairs in order to form an audience. But Sprint did not agree with this idea.  

Neighbors left the meeting quickly. One thing I remember was that Mr. Martin of Sprint said that we should have open minds and accept the antennae. Also, we learned that Sprint has put a table by the BART Station in downtown Berkeley and has collected signatures from people who have nothing to do with North Berkeley or 1600 Shattuck Ave. 

People had a discussion among themselves outside of the Senior Center. 

This was a short account of the (mis)information session by Sprint. 

Shahram Shahruz 



Editors, Daily Planet:  

What is the take on unmarked and/or unspoiled ballots? 

In 1998, Hawaii voters approved a new constitutional convention, but an interpretation of the state attorney general (backed by the state supreme court) that the blank votes counted as “no” votes, killed the convention.  

Gray Davis, plus unmarked and/or spoiled ballots will most likely win. By this I mean many voters will vote for more than one of the 100 plus candidates, or will neglect to vote on both of the two sections of the ballot. Hence, their votes will be nullified.  

The United States Supreme Court threw the last presidential election to one of the candidates on a technicality.  

Richard Thompson 




Editors, Daily Planet:  

People should understand that the “race information ban” which will be on the Oct. 7 ballot is as anti-Indian as it is anti-minority.  

Information on the health and education of American Indians will be denied if this initiative is passed.  

If people are concerned about the well-being of American Indians they should vote against the “race information ban.” 

Billy Trice, Jr. 


Nursing Feat Retains Title

Tuesday August 12, 2003

Bay Area mothers successfully maintained the region’s reputation as the world’s premier area for breastfeeding mothers, but fell well short of beating their own world record. 

Berkeley’s breastfeeding moms soundly trounced rivals from Down Under, when they simultaneously nursed 684 babies in the Berkeley Community Theater Saturday, compared to the 48 women who participated in a similar event in Adelaide, Australia, earlier that day, taking the 2003 crown. 

However, Bay Area organizers had held out high hopes for beating last year’s record of 1,130 mothers and said they were disappointed that so few women came out for this year’s event. 

“We were expecting twice as many and got half as much,” said Ellen Sirbu, the director of Berkeley’s Women, Children, and Infants program. 

Many mothers said that the novelty of the breastfeeding contest had worn off and people were generally less excited because Berkeley already holds the world record. 

“I did it with all my friends last year,” said Berkeley resident Rachel Serant. “But this year they didn’t want to come back because it’s such a big production and it’s not really worth it to do it again. I kind of figured we weren’t going to break the record.” 

Sirbu, though, said that many women’s minds were on other topics, primarily the recall election facing California. 

“People are thinking about the recall and the state of affairs in California right now,” Sirbu said. “It’s easy to forget about other topics when that is persistently confronting you.” 

Still, organizers and participants emphasized that it was important to make their statement despite the decreased participant count. 

“684 is still a lot of women,” said participant Janet Magowan after successfully nursing her baby through the contest. “We are still forming a united front to show that breast feeding is important. Several hundred people are hard to ignore.” 

Breastfeeding is the best way to raise babies, advocates say, because baby formula simply does not approach the nutritional value of breast milk. Studies have shown that breastfed babies tend to be healthier and happier than those who are raised on formula. 

“Marketing and free distribution of formula, as well as commercials that make it seem like formula is better than breast milk, really hurt our push to show women that breast feeding is the best way to keep their babies healthy,” said Melody Hansen, a spokesperson for La Leche League, an international organization that advocates breastfeeding. “The United States has a very low rate of breastfeeding compared to a lot of other countries, so it’s important to get the word out.”

Is Vacant Building Site Kennedy’s Albatross? Soil Laced with MTBE

Tuesday August 12, 2003

So Kennedy bails on 2700 San Pablo Ave. after overcoming the opposition of unappreciative locals. I just hope his counterpart in the White House takes a lesson from this! After five years and countless hours of his precious time why the sudden drop in interest when he’s only a few steps away from leaving his imprint for posterity on the West Berkeley landscape? Perhaps it’s true that he’s beckoned by the siren’s call challenge of developing yet larger oversized projects in a declining rental market but then again maybe there’s more to this story than immediately meets the eye.  

This property was a former gas station and is on the Cal EPA list of leaking underground storage tank sites. There is an attachment to the deed of 2700 stating that it has a history of petroleum contamination and among the documented residual contaminants is MTBE, a likely carcinogen notorious for its durability in soil and water. Although a partial cleanup of the contamination was done less than a decade ago, 2700 San Pablo has been allowed to seep contamination into the water table and ultimately into San Francisco Bay, a federally protected waterway, for many decades. A July 2000 study by the Environmental Working Group found that the majority of these sites that were closed (considered “safe”), were done so prematurely in sweetheart deals with the State Water Board and its proxy agents. A few days ago, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors endorsed the “precautionary principle” in dealing with pollution by writing it into their law. Basically it says that regarding pollution if you have a reasonable suspicion that something bad might be going to happen, you have an obligation to try to stop it. Might this be a harbinger of more stringent environmental oversight statewide? 

Unlike the San Francisco supervisors, Berkeley’s Toxics Management Division, under the aegis of the Planning Department (no conflict of interest there!) was only too happy to give it’s approval in covering up the toxic stew under 2700 San Pablo, reminiscent of the skateboard park fiasco—out of sight, out of mind. But I think Kennedy might have been facing at least one more hurdle from an outside authority. He would have had to get a discharge permit from East Bay MUD to pump potentially contaminated water from the subterranean garage into the city sewer. In the evolution of various proposals of the project the city’s Toxics and Planning Departments attempted to diminish and minimize this mitigation. At first the dewatering system was to be post-construction, incorporated somewhere in the design of the structure and maintained by nobody in particular. The Design Review Committee and Zoning Adjustment Board never found specificity about this element to be important. Ultimately the mitigation became little more than an afterthought—a possible procedure to be overseen by the developer during construction. But since EBMUD made a bit of a deal about discharging a few hundred gallons of contaminated water from the site in 1995 they might consider discharge of an indeterminate amount of potentially toxic water with MTBE in it to be a bit more significant problem, thus making issuance of a discharge permit less than certain. 

Another question that comes to mind is whether Kennedy can simply transfer his development permit carte blanche to a buyer. Is there no expiration date on the current permit? Would there be no review by the Zoning Adjustments Board? After all, conditions have changed in the neighborhood since the project got approval. In October 2000, during one of 2700 San Pablo’s development stages, then Planning Director Marc Rhoades told a group of us neighborhood “activists” that, by law, it wasn’t legal for planning staff to consider what the cumulative impact of 2700 would be in concert with future potential projects. At that time there was one proposed project nearby, 2575 San Pablo—over 40 units—that had received initial city funding. But somehow it was irrelevant. Now there’s yet another approved project and together they total about 170 units more than 2700 San Pablo, all within a block of each other. Can Planning continue to refuse to address the potential cumulative impacts of 2700 with other nearby projects or the cumulative impact of those projects in relation to 2700? Or for that matter, the cumulative impact of all other large projects in Berkeley? 

It seems to me that Kennedy and Jubilee Restorations might be being a bit optimistic in their hope to unload 2700 San Pablo. Far from having buyers flocking to their door, they might just have the proverbial albatross around their neck. 


Pete Teichner is a long time Berkeley resident and a concerned neighbor of the San Pablo site.  

Activists Launch Lanterns to Mark Atomic Era’s Birth, Need For Peace

Tuesday August 12, 2003

Berkeley’s Aquatic Park was dark Saturday night, but the moon was bright and nearly full when about 400 locals pushed dozens of haunting, peace lanterns onto the park’s lagoon, the fulfillment of a Berkeley man’s promise to an aging Japanese woman. 

A mixed crowd, which included graying hippies, rambunctious children and elderly Japanese-Americans, gathered to commemorate the 58th anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and make a statement about President Bush’s talk of a new generation of bunker-busting nuclear weapons. 

“The Bush Administration has done a great job of reminding us that the nuclear arms race is anything but over,” said organizer Steve Freedkin, vice chair of the city’s Peace and Justice Commission. “It’s part of why this touched a chord and so many people came.” 

Freedkin, who has been part of an ongoing exchange of peace activists between Berkeley and Japan over the last two years, said the lanterns have a storied history. 

“In Japan, floating lanterns has been a traditional way of remembering and honoring the souls of departed loved ones for a very long time,” he said. “Since World War II, it has taken on a special significance regarding the victims of the two atomic bombings.” 

The bombings, which took place on Aug. 6 and Aug. 9, 1945 killed more than 100,000 people, and those who attended Saturday’s ceremony said the United States has not done enough to memorialize the deaths. 

“It just amazes me how little we talk about it,” said Berkeley resident Sheila Sondik. 

Yachiyo Otsubo, 59, who has lived in Berkeley for more than 30 years, said she was an infant in her mother’s arms on a train about 100 miles outside Nagasaki when the atomic bomb tore through the city. 

She welcomed Berkeley’s lantern ceremony, which debuted last year, but said the rest of the nation has some work to do.  

“People in the Bay Area, they have a very good conscience and a good mind, but it doesn’t happen in the rest of the country,” Otsubo said. “We have to really expand this activity. . .so we can send a message to the rest of the country.” 

Participants began showing up at West Berkeley’s Aquatic Park, which sits next to Interstate 80, around 6 p.m. Saturday, piecing together about 260 lanterns made of recycled foam bases, pen cases and sheer onion skin papers. Messages, etched on the side by children and adults, read “Never Again,” “Peace” and “Use Your Words.” 

The program began at about 7:15 p.m. with traditional Japanese taiko drumming, an introduction by Freedkin, a speech by Hiroshima survivor Jack Dairiki and the reading of a message from current Nagasaki Mayor Iccho Itoh.  

“Fifty-eight years have passed since the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but still today, the atomic bomb survivors continue to suffer from a mental and a physical wound that will never heal,” the message read.  

“The citizens of Nagasaki are determined to join hands with you and peace-loving people of the world and to work for the abolition of nuclear weapons and for the realization of lasting world peace,” Itoh said in his message. 

Freedkin said the Berkeley ceremony has its roots in his March 2002 speaking tour of Japan. During a visit to the Osaka International Peace Center, which chronicles the horrors of the atomic bombings and Japanese aggression in China, Korea and Southeast Asia during World War II, Freedkin said he met an elderly survivor of American fire bombing in Osaka. The woman said she was often too ill to attend annual peace lantern ceremonies honoring the war dead, and Freedkin promised to attend a ceremony in her stead. 

“I knew that meant we’d have to create one,” Freedkin said. 

Last year, about 100 to 150 attended the first peace lantern ceremony. This year, a larger turnout created some logistical problems—the sound system wasn’t quite loud enough to reach everyone and organizers ran out of lantern-making supplies. 

“We had a couple of things that didn’t go right,” Freedkin said. 

But Freedkin said one participant offered to lend professional sound equipment to next year’s celebration and another, who works at a wood shop, said he would provide supplies for new lantern bases next year. A third participant, from San Francisco, said she hoped to bring the festival across the Bay next year. 

“For every problem we had, just about, some solution came,” Freedkin said. 

The hitches in the program could not take away from the spectacle of the lamps that drifted across the lagoon, under a nearly-full moon, as three musicians played the shakuhachi, a mournful Japanese bamboo flute.

Don’t Balance City Budget On Backs of Employees

Tuesday August 12, 2003

Space here won’t allow me to reply to all of the recent statements regarding city employees. While some have been empathetic to the plight of workers scapegoated for the budget problems, some others have wrongly characterized employees in labor unions as greedy, self-serving, and equivalent to welfare cheats. 

Workers, unpracticed in the art of manipulative speech and fearful of offending not only the executives but also Berkeley residents, are reluctant to raise a voice in self-defense. Though reluctant, I am compelled to speak. I have hoped that wizened citizens would strongly counter the outrageous moves to slander and destroy the progress made by workers to achieve a decent standard of living, but with the dogs of foreign occupations and economic wars nipping at their run-down heels, the stress-forced tunnel vision of the beleaguered allows malevolent machinations obscurity from intelligent scrutiny. Labor’s reliance on the social consciousness of the harried taxpayers may yet prove misplaced, in light of the history of successes by the ruling elite to shift the burden of their mistakes and reframe the issue of mismanagement consequences. Labor costs too high? Attack the unions and take away the laborers’ pay. Business bad? Sell phone cards and fast food to overseas troops. Vote too close? Get your debtors on the court to say “Get over it.”  

Workers are rightfully skeptical of the call to give away their modest gains. They recall the hedging and shifting statements by officials on the budget picture presented before and immediately after negotiations concluded. The ink on the workers’ contracts had barely dried when the bandwagon started rolling to negate the contracts. Workers have long warned the executives that some operations and practices were wasteful and bound to cause unnecessary expense. It is finally apparent to all that the warnings were not effectively heeded. It is immoral for workers to bear the burden of predictable mistakes made by the executive class.  

Also disconcerting, with this call to decrease our modest living standard, is the observation that the ruling class and non-union profiteers are not sacrificing anything except, temporarily perhaps, the unbridled concentration of economic power. Workers notice that neither executives nor non-union contractors are running to the finance office to return a dime of their executive compensation or profits.  

Citizens have often heard how difficult it is to keep $100,000 executives on the payroll, and how hard the executives work for the money. But even if one were to accept that the physical and psychological toll is necessarily greater for meeting-goers than for blue-collar laborers, and that you just can’t keep good help unless executive-level pay and benefits dwarf those of the peons below, one could question the equity of suggesting one class of employees being forced closer to the poverty line while the other remains comfortably far above it. Workers have not heard a single utterance demanding that the non-union contractors it employs return a percentage of their pay to the city. It is this missing sound, in the presence of the clamor of hogs at the trough, that has workers practically disbelieving that any fairness lurks in the hearts of those allied against them. What many sense is that there is avarice and an underlying desire to eviscerate the power of progressive individuals and righteous organizations.  

In contrast to the demeaning, fanciful image of unionized workers lounging at the overtime trough, Berkeley’s workers have spent much unpaid personal time to develop solutions to our city’s problems.  

A few of the solutions:  

1. Decrease cash outlay by (a) halting the prodding of staff and outside consultants ($90,000+) to install an inferior replacement (cost = $2-300,000) for the newly installed PSB antennae tower; (b) by ending the program to replace every City of Berkeley computer every four years; (c) by shelving the plan to go wireless in City Hall and the PSB until after security, propagation, and interface problems are solved. 

2. Increase revenue by (a) cheaply encouraging COB employees to spend more of their pay in town (many of my co-workers already spend at least $10 each day in town on food and beverages alone); (b) by selling items identified with our widely popular town as souvenirs (official logo on caps, jackets, coffee mugs, etc.).  

3. Improve economic utilization of resources (a) by deferring planned Corpyard transformation and saving relocation expenses; (b) by ending the use of outside electrical and telephone contractors doing work that city employees are capable of performing. 

4. Borrow and spend strategically (a) by borrowing money now while rates are lower; (b) by demanding better deals from vendors. 

Much like hapless soldiers dragged off to the swamps and sands of misadventures, unionized workers and social support agencies are pawns to the machinations of the leading hands. The potential demise of our recent gains is unlamented, and our extraordinary efforts unappreciated, save to further uplift the glory of those who may undermine our ascension.  

But that’s how it often is when you are employed by the government.  

So don’t fall for the line that your brother is too heavy to carry.  

Listen up Berkeley, your mind knows better. 


Patrick McCullough is an employee of the City of Berkeley and a member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1245.

Berkeley Building Boasts Seabiscuit Connection

By SUSAN CERNY Special to the Planet
Tuesday August 12, 2003

Just what’s so special about 2140 Durant St.? 

For starters, consider the building’s connection with two sporting legends, Seabiscuit and Reggie Jackson. 

A delightful example of the Art Deco style, the unique structure was built by Charles Howard, owner of the famous racehorse whose name graces Laura Hillenbrand’s best-selling book and the recently released movie based on the book. 

The building’s story begins in San Francisco in 1903, when Charles Howard arrived in the city and opened a bicycle repair shop where he also worked on automobiles. By 1905, 28-year-old Howard had convinced the owner of the Buick company (later to become General Motors) to give him the franchise for San Francisco. 

Ambitious, colorful and very successful, Howard soon owned dealerships in many cities. He was a rich man by the time he turned his attentions to building a grand showroom in Berkeley in 1930. 

The building later changed hands, and from the late 1960s until the 1980s, it housed the Maggini Chevrolet dealership. 

Reggie Jackson, “Mister October” to baseball fans, entered the picture in the late 1980s when he operated a Chevrolet dealership here.  

A designated City of Berkeley Landmark, the structure was designed by architect Frederick Reimers (1889-1961) and epitomizes the impressive showrooms built for the newly affluent and glamorous automobile industry. 

The one-story reinforced-concrete garage and showroom building is remarkable for its Art Deco style facade, featuring large display windows separated by tall, cast-concrete pylons, tinted light brown. Each pylon is composed of three vertical geometric ribs which rise above the cornice and end in a three-part scroll design. Between pylons, the walls are infilled with a brick and concrete zig-zag belt-course pattern. Transoms above the showcase windows are divided into narrow vertical panes by metal mullions which have a scroll design on the bottom. 

For many years the once-dignified Howard Automobile Company Building languished, largely unused and slowly deteriorating. Over the years several plans were floated for the large site at Durant and Fulton streets, but none included restoration of the building. Eventually a developer did come forth who carefully rehabilitated and restored the building with special attention to its Art Deco details, winning a Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association award for the effort. 

The completed restoration not only preserves an excellent example of an early twentieth century automobile showroom in the Art Deco style, but it also perpetuates, in a tangible form, the rags to riches story of Charles Howard and his famous horse Seabiscuit. From a different perspective, it contributes to environmentally responsible building practices, also known as “green architecture,” by retaining and reusing the materials used in the building’s initial construction. The building is currently for lease.  

Susan Cerny is author of the book Berkeley Landmarks and writes this in conjunction with the Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association.

West Berkeley Grants Awarded

David Scharfenberg
Tuesday August 12, 2003

Mayor Tom Bates and State Assemblywoman Loni Hancock were in attendance last week as the West Berkeley Foundation celebrated the $65,000 in grants it gave to neighborhood groups this year. 

The group held its first ever “Grants Award Night” Aug. 6 at Rosa Parks Elementary School. 

This year’s gifts helped fund an art program at Rosa Parks, a weight machine for teenage boys at a neighborhood recreation center and new bingo equipment for the West Berkeley Senior Center, among other projects. 

“West Berkeley has experienced many changes in the last decade,” said the foundation’s Board President Lynn Berling-Manuel. “But our neighborhood continues as a gateway community of low-income families and many female single parent households and the need is no less great.” 

The foundation was created in 1993 by a city of Berkeley development agreement with the Bayer Corporation. The agreement ended in 2002 and the foundation is pursuing fundraising to continue its work. The group has doled out almost $1 million in grants in the last decade. 

This year, the foundation awarded 21 grants, ranging from $500 to $7,500.  

The recipients were Ashkenaz, Ballet Folklorico Youth Dance Project, BAHIA, Berkeley Bear Swim Team, Berkeley NAACP Youth Council, Berkeley Youth Alternatives, East Bay Community Law Center, James Kenney Recreation Center, Kala Art Institute, Lifelong Medical Care, Rosa Parks Elementary School Collaborative, Parent Resource Center, Racial Justice Program, Rebuilding Together, Stiles Hall Mentor Program, Strawberry Lodge Senior Housing, Tinkers Workshop, West Berkeley Senior Center Advisory Council, Wee Poets, West Berkeley Neighborhood Development Corporation, and YEAH!. 

— David Scharfenberg

America’s Newspapers Ignore Real Death Toll

By MOHAMAD OZEIR Pacific News Service
Tuesday August 12, 2003

Most reports coming out of Iraq are built around the casualties of American soldiers in post-war attacks. Deaths and injuries among Iraqi civilians, however, rarely make it to the pages of U.S. newspapers, even when the Iraqis are killed in the same incident—and even when major international newswires report these casualties. 

In late July, for example, the major story out of Iraq was the killing of Saddam’s two sons, Uday and Qusay, and his grandson, Mustapha, in a raid on a house in the city of Mosul. But Western media missed a crucial aspect of the story. 

Several reports of the sons’ deaths mentioned that some Iraqis celebrated the news in a traditional Iraqi way: firing guns into the air. What was missing in the coverage was that many Iraqis lost their lives in the celebrations. Al Mu’tamar newspaper, published by the Iraqi National Conference—the closest of American allies—quoted medical and security sources in Baghdad citing that 31 civilians were killed and 76 injured as a result of the revelry gunfire. No U.S. media reported such news. 

This kind of reporting not only gives American readers and viewers an incomplete story, but also furthers the mistrust of American media that is becoming more and more pervasive worldwide. 

Whatever the reasons for this trend, it is not due to lack of information. The stories of Iraqi civilian casualties are published and broadcast in the Arab and other international media, and the sources for these stories are none other than Western news agencies such as Reuters, Associated Press and Agence France Press (AFP). But these wire services’ reports of civilian deaths rarely appear in U.S. newspapers. 

On June 6, for example, the Arab and international press published a report from Reuters estimating the average Iraqi casualty count due to U.S. cluster bombs at 15 per day. The report quoted an official at Mines Advisory Group, who said his organization counted 80 killed and 500 injured between April 10 and June 5, 2003. Another article published July 6, based on information from Reuters and AFP, described a bomb that killed seven Iraqis and injured 40 of the new Police Academy trainees. This incident went entirely unnoticed in American media. 

Other ignored reports include the killing of a 70-year-old man and three of his sons by American soldiers in the town of Balad while the family was driving near an American patrol outpost on June 15, 2003. 

A review of the Arab press—counting only deaths that were a direct result of armed U.S. or British actions, and taking care not to double-count fatalities—reveals that since May 1, the day President Bush announced the end of major combat operations in Iraq, 245 Iraqi civilians have been killed as a direct result of military action or war-related events. 

This number is small when compared to the estimate of civilian deaths from the entire war, compiled by British-based Iraq Body Count, which put the number between 6,086 and 7,797. The extensive cross-checking and conservative methods used to obtain this estimate can be reviewed at www.iraqbodycount.org. From victims of remnant cluster bomblets—mainly children—to civilians caught in cross-fire or surprised by an American checkpoint, to victims of vengeful acts at the hands of the old regime’s victims, Iraqis continue to lose their lives as a result of the war. 

The ostensible American agenda in Iraq was to liberate the Iraqi people and bring democracy and accountability to the country. The military operation, after all, was named “Iraqi Freedom.” During the days of Saddam’s rule, no one in Iraq was allowed to say how many people were killed or why, but everyone knew. Ironically, now the information is available—but it seems that no one wants to know. 


Mohamad Ozeir is a longtime journalist and former editor of the Arab American Journal.

History Teaches Limited War Makes For Long, Deep Hatred

Tuesday August 12, 2003

George Harrison, age 88, sat in his Brooklyn apartment and recited lines from Irish poet Patraic Pearse who, upon standing at the grave of Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa, executed by the British, wrote these lines, and Harrison wishes the Lord would make everyone in Washington read them: 

“The fools, the fools. 

They have left us our Feinian dead. 

While, where grass grows or water flows 

Ireland unfree will never be at peace.” 


This was in 1916 and it has kept them going until now, when the British finally are getting out. 

“The displaying of the bodies of Saddam’s sons was unnecessary.” George says. “I heard Pearse as I watched our people show them off. There are people of Iraq who have not come out of the mother’s womb yet who will come to ask questions of us 50 years from now. The women are the worst. They will come and they will ask. We think it will all go away. Time makes no difference.” 

Harrison is an example. He was indicted for gun running to the IRA in a famous trial in Brooklyn federal court a few years ago. At the outset, the federal prosecutor told the jury, “George Harrison has been running guns to Ireland for the last six months.” 

At which point, Harrison squirmed in anger and had his attorney, Frank Durkan, rise and announce: “My client is insulted by the prosecutor’s statement of six months. George Harrison has not been gun running for six months. He has been gun running to Ireland for the last 25 or 30 years.” 

The other day, Durkan went to Europe. For the first time in his life he went on a British ship, the Queen Elizabeth 2. Everybody had to hide this from his client, George Harrison, who would neither forgive nor forget if he found out. It seems like a small amusing thing. But fighting the British is a living thing with Harrison, and the problem with this is that he is a reminder of all those others everywhere. I don’t know much about Iraq at all. But George Harrison’s Irish emotion on behalf of the long dead is a passing argument when placed alongside the feelings in Tikrit. 

We called this incursion into Iraq “Operation Iraqi Freedom” or was it “Operation Iraqi Liberation?” The tough chins in Washington said that once the people knew that Saddam was gone, they would welcome us with open arms. Instead, they look on sullenly, and murder one of our soldiers every day or so. And they do nothing to improve things. Somebody pointed out yesterday that many weeks after the incursion, there still is no electricity in Iraq. 

The other day, we buried another American soldier, Spc. Wilfredo Perez Jr., 24. A few days earlier, there was a funeral for Pfc. Raheen Tyson Heighter. Right before that, Marine Cpl. Roberto Marcus was buried and there was a funeral for Marine Riayan Tejada at St. Elizabeth’s church in Washington Heights. 

At a recent service at St. Barbara’s church in Brooklyn, when the ushers passed out a sheet that said to pray for the men in Iraq, there was a list of 75 Latino names from the one parish. 

From a distance, from watching television news and reading, I hear and see a general or Defense Department politician skipping over words or mumbling and saying that there now is a “limited guerrilla war.” 

There doesn’t seem to be any such thing. I can tell you a little bit about a guerrilla war I know something about, the one in Northern Ireland. There were once 1,000 people in the IRA and that got cut down to maybe 75 men in three-man units, one not knowing the other. One of the IRA leaders insisted that 12 people would be all that was needed. Whatever, the British asked the IRA what it would take to make them stop. 

That was another guerrilla war lost by a major country. While Britain cut up Muslims in Malaysia so that they never came back, the rest of their colonial history is filled with being slaughtered in Iraq and Afghanistan. See Rudyard Kipling. The French could not win in Vietnam. The United States had 58,000 of our young killed there. And you keep reading of how well we are doing against Filipino guerrillas, keep hearing of it every year. Russia tried Afghanistan and caught a frightful beating. Russia now cannot handle Chechen guerrillas. The car bomb in Indonesia tells you how much helicopters and tanks can stop young men with bombs. 

The worst part is that these are Arabs who don’t let venom be ruled by a calendar. George Harrison, in his living room, is a small illustration of how long anger can be carried. In Iraq and the Middle East, surely somebody can come out of a dust storm to try revenge in a half-century or so.

Cancer Leads To Ocean View Exploration

By SUSAN PARKER Special to the Planet Special to the Planet
Tuesday August 12, 2003

Many of us know the Ocean View section of Berkeley primarily for its high-end shops, Spenger’s Fish Grotto, Bette’s Ocean View Diner, Peet’s Coffee, and the Crate & Barrel Outlet Store. But for West Berkeley writer/resident Barbara Gates, confrontation with one of life’s greatest terrors provided the springboard for an intensely personal search for understanding of place. The result is her gift to us, her readers, of an unexpected and compelling insider’s view of a multi-layered, multi-ethnic neighborhood. 

Though the pages of her sweetly revealing memoir, “Already Home: A Topography of Spirit and Place,” Gates offers a social, historic exploration of her ‘hood, beautifully written in a journalistic style that explains the migration of communities (flora and fauna, people, businesses and social movements) and celebrates the fundamental nature of extended family and home. Liberally intertwining Eastern philosophy with a dose of Buddhist-Jewish chutzpah, Barbara inspires us to stop, look, seize the moment, live more fully and honor the life that is all around.  

An East Coast escapee, Barbara and her husband, a lawyer, bought their 1894 Victorian in Ocean View back in 1988, before the last few vestiges of dirt paths, creekbeds and lots were paved over and before many of the upscale shops had moved in. Not long after they set up housekeeping, Barbara, at age 42, gave birth to their first and only child, a daughter. 

And then came the unexpected news, a diagnosis of breast cancer, and suddenly the very definitions of home, family, and community morphed, becoming important parts of her treatment, therapy and eventual recovery. 

Advised by a local acupuncturist to take more risks, Barbara, a self-proclaimed klutz when it comes to directions and maps, decided to venture out of her family nest and build a relationship with her Ocean View neighborhood by learning all that she could about its history, topography, biology, industry and people. 

While contemplating her mortality, she puts West Berkeley under a microscope, waking up early to study its wildlife, walking along its cracked sidewalks, talking with permanent and transient residents, visiting libraries, cemeteries, historical societies, and the Alameda County Recorder’s Office. She interviews government officials, tracks down death certificates, collects maps and old photographs and finally, coming home exhausted, she is lulled to sleep by the sound of trains chugging along the nearby Southern Pacific tracks. Barbara writes that “in my explorations of this home terrain, what I found outside led me to examine myself. What I experienced inside seemed to ripple out. I couldn’t go out without going in at the same time, go in without going out.” 

Barbara’s explorations take her back in time to 3,700 B.C. when Ohlone Indians lived alongside Strawberry Creek in a village built on the shellmound where today stands Truitt and White Lumber. She gives us the early Spanish explorers and later European settlers, the fishermen, farmers, tanners, coopers, and boat builders, along with their wives and children, churches and taverns. She takes us to the sand treatment plant, the East Bay Vivarium, the garbage transfer station, the homeless encampments, and the SPCA. We get to know the destitute person who sometimes sleeps in the back seat of Barbara’s car, the mailman who loves Barbara’s roses, next door neighbor Grandma Darlene, the twelve cats who sun themselves in an adjacent driveway, the people from the past who once lived in her house and within the surrounding block.  

After reading her story I could hardly wait to meet Barbara and take one of her walks with her. Although I was familiar with the area in which she lives, having worked in a small adventure travel firm on one of its side streets, I’d never taken the time to really look beyond the surface of this eclectic, diverse neighborhood. Heading toward Fourth Street, Barbara pointed out Finnish Hall (built in 1908), the Good Shepherd Church (built in 1878) and the First Presbyterian Church of West Berkeley (1879), later to become the St. Procopius Latin Rite Church, and now the new Coptic church of the Ethiopian community. 

She introduced me to an unnamed alley that wanders between residences and businesses, parts of which have only recently been paved. As we walked and talked Barbara zigzagged across the blacktop, sneaking peeks through fence slats into overgrown, manicured, sculpted and abandoned yards. 

We gathered plump blackberries hanging from chain link fences and scooted between cars and trucks, abandoned mattresses and couches. 

After heading north in the alley for as far as we could, we turned west across the train tracks to find ourselves in an industrial area full of clanging machinery, roaring furnaces, noisy lunch trucks, and burly men dressed in overalls and hard hats. Hollering above the din, Barbara explained that she has not fully come to terms with the spewing smokestacks and unpleasant odors that often permeate her neighborhood, but she is teaching herself to “…see them, to deal with their potential dangers, to stop paving over these unwelcome reminders of toxicity, of mortality.” 

Walking south along the pot-holed road that borders Interstate 80 and the railroad tracks, we came across an old station wagon with suitcases strapped onto the roof. 

“Look,” I shouted to Barbara, “there’s a chicken in the front seat!”  

It was the perfect metaphor for our walk: A wayward chicken that had found a home in a vehicle that looked as if it had traveled from somewhere faraway to the edge of the continent, parked on an industrial side street, behind the chic, expensive shops of Fourth Street. When Barbara scurried over for a closer look, a human form in the backseat made an effort to sit up. Two different species were co-habitating in the shell of something that was originally manufactured for another use; car, chicken and man epitomizing the multi-layered, interdependent community that is Ocean View. Glancing westward I could see exactly what the man and the chicken could also see just beyond the rushing traffic of Interstate 80: a wide blue expanse of the San Francisco Bay, and beyond that the Golden Gate, framing the vast expanse of ocean, fading distantly into the horizon.  

In sync, Barbara and I both took a deep, collective breath and headed for home.  

Ocean View will celebrate its 150th anniversary in October and November with a series of lectures and readings. For more information or to volunteer, contact Barbara Gates at bgates@gtcinternet.com or Stephanie Manning at bahaworks@yahoo.com. 


Barbara Gates will read from her work Wednesday Aug. 13, 7:00 p.m. at A Clean Well-Lighted Place for Books, 601 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco; Sunday, Aug. 17, 7:00 p.m. at Point Reyes Books, 11315 State Route 1, Point Reyes; Tuesday, Oct. 14, 7:30 p.m. at Writers’ Group Evening at Barnes & Noble, 2352 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley.

Honored Sci-Fi Writer Has Deep Berkeley Roots

By SUSAN PARKER Special to the Planet
Tuesday August 12, 2003

To fans of science fiction and fantasy, Ursula K. Le Guin is a one-person institution, the author of over 100 short stories, 19 novels, 13 children’s books, two collections of essays and numerous poems and translations, as well as winner of the National Book Award, the Harold D. Vursell Memorial Award, the PEN/Malamud Award and many other literary honors and prizes 

But for Berkeley, she remains a native-born born institution, the daughter of two luminaries of the campus scene, legendary anthropologist A. L. Kroeber—for whom UC Berkeley’s Kroeber Hall was named—and renowned writer Theodora Kroeber, author of “Ishi in Two Worlds: A Biography of the Last Wild Indian in North America,” UC Berkeley Press’s first bestseller. 

Born here in 1929, she attended University Elementary School located on Shattuck Avenue, Hillside School, Garfield (now Martin Luther King Middle School) and Berkeley High. 

Now a resident of Portland, Ore., she has fond memories of her Berkeley childhood. “It was wonderful,” she said. “Back then Berkeley was a very small town. 

“The Golden Gate Bridge was built while I was a child, but to get to San Francisco we took the ferry. There were no Bay or Richmond bridges. Going to San Francisco was an excursion, not a commute. Hinks was the only department store in downtown Berkeley. Up where we lived, on Arch Street, there was a dime store, a penny candy store, a drugstore and a small grocery. That’s all. Now it’s known as Walnut Square and the Gourmet Ghetto.” 

Le Guin always expected she’d go to UC Berkeley, but the year she graduated from high school her father received an appointment at Harvard. 

“My father said I was going to Radcliffe,” she laughed. “I had no idea where or what Radcliffe was. When I got there I felt like a foreigner.” 

From Radcliffe Le Guin went to Columbia and from Columbia she sailed to England to take advantage of a Fulbright Scholarship. On the boat to the British Isles she met her soon-to-be husband, historian Charles A. Le Guin. 

Ursula and Charles moved to his native state of Georgia and then to Moscow, Idaho. Forty years ago they wound up in Portland and she has lived there ever since. 

Le Guin started writing when she was five years old. However, it was years before she made a living as a writer. A French and Italian Literature scholar, she helped support her growing family (three children) by teaching, tutoring and secretarial work. Her first pieces were not published until she was 27. 

How did her childhood in Berkeley has influenced her writing? 

“Nothing specific,” Le Guin said. “But growing up in the hills on the edge of the continent, looking out to the west must have been influential. Berkeley was a beautiful place in which to live. The light reflecting off the water, the fog, the massive groves of trees… it was a magical place. And the campus was wonderful. It was our playground.” 

And what does she think of her native city now? 

“Berkeley isn’t my kind of town anymore,” she answered. “It’s so crowded, so fat-cat. How can you live there if you’re not rich? When I’m there I have to really look hard for the old Berkeley. The Bohemian Berkeley that I knew as a child no longer exists.” 

These days, she’s busy promoting her latest book, “Changing Planes.” This delightful series of fictional travel accounts is narrated by a tourist who has mastered the “Sita Dulip Method.” Sita Dulip of Cincinnati discovered one day while waiting for her connecting flight at an airport that “by a mere kind of twist and slipping bend, easier to do than describe, she could go anywhere and be anywhere because she was already between planes.” 

Le Guin’s fanciful descriptions of bizarre cultures mirror and satirize our own society and open up puzzling doors into the unknown. She creates imaginary worlds that address a multitude of topics: war, tyranny, the middle class, mortality, immortality, dreams, art, technology and the meaning and mystery of being human.  

Asked about her new work, Le Guin talks about the translations she has coming out this summer and fall. “The Selected Poems of Gabriela Mistral,” the Chilean lyric poet who won a Pulitzer Prize in 1945, will be published next month by the University of New Mexico. Argentinean Angelica Gorodischer’s “Kalpa Imperial,” a science fiction/magical realism tale about a future empire, will be available Aug. 15 from Small Beer Press. Le Guin sounds just as excited about these translations as she does about her own writing. 

I asked Le Guin how she would suggest someone who is not familiar with her work to go about reading it.  

“Well,” she said, “if you aren’t a science fiction reader already, and I can’t imagine not being one, I’d suggest starting with my novel ‘Searoad: Chronicles of Klatsand.’ But if you want to take a chance on fantasy then I suggest reading the ‘Left Hand of Darkness.’ It was my first big hit.” 

“What do you read in your spare time?” I asked. 

“Everything and everybody,” she answered. “Novels. Poetry. Lately I’ve been on a Jose Saramaga binge. Have you read ‘The Cave’? You should.” 

“Who do you admire?” I asked.  

“Virginia Woolf,” she was quick to say. “But I couldn’t read ‘The Hours.’ It pressed my feministic buttons that Michael Cunningham thought he could tell us what Virginia was thinking when she drowned herself.”  

Finally, I asked if she writes everyday. “Heavens no!” Le Guin shouted. “I’m not that methodical. I don’t do anything everyday except eat!”  

“Changing Planes” by Ursula Le Guin, published by Harcourt, is available in local bookstores. She has her own web site, http://www.ursulakLe Guin.com/ 

Telegraph Avenue Shops Battle Big Box Retailers, Internet

By PATRICK GALVIN Special to the Planet
Tuesday August 12, 2003

The scene of some of the most heated political confrontations of the 1960s, today’s Telegraph Avenue is once again a battleground—in which independent book and music retailers are facing off against “Big Box” and Internet stores. 

Telegraph Avenue’s 11 bookstores face daunting challenges. Large booksellers are making greater inroads in the East Bay. Barnes & Noble opened two book superstores in El Cerrito and Emeryville last year and Internet booksellers also continue to capture an ever-larger share of the marketplace. In the first quarter of 2003, Amazon.com achieved net sales of $1.08 billion compared with $847 million in the first quarter of 2002, an increase of 28 percent. 

“Unlike book superstores and Internet dealers, our buyers and clerks know what Berkeley and East Bay readers want,” said Doris Moskowitz, owner of Moe’s Books on Telegraph. “We have one of the largest selections of used books in the Bay Area, and we constantly rotate our stock. People come here from all over the world to find unusual used and new titles that they would never see at the large chains. They talk with our staff to find out what’s worth reading,” 

Andy Ross, president of Cody’s Books on Telegraph Avenue and Fourth Street in Berkeley, says Telegraph’s independent book and music stores do more than sell goods to shoppers. “We support the local economy because we pay local taxes, buy supplies from neighboring stores, bank at local banks, and employ the services of local workers. We chair committees, sit on non-profit boards, sponsor little league teams, and support PTAs,” he said. 

“When it comes to choosing local stores over their Internet competitors, people should think about the social balance sheet. Since 1998, Cody’s has hosted 1,300 author readings and community events. Last year, we brought in almost $1,000,000 in sales and property taxes that support schools, social services, and public agencies,” said Ross. 

“We also paid out over four million dollars in wages and benefits, most of which were recycled into the local economy. In contrast, since its inception, Amazon.com has offered no culturally enriching activities nor paid any taxes or wages that benefit the East Bay,” Ross said. 

To compete, Telegraph Avenue booksellers have developed niche specialties. Shakespeare & Company offers an eclectic range of used, out-of-print, and rare books. Shambala specializes in books that present creative and alternative ways of transforming the individual, the society, and the planet—many of which are published by its sister company, Shambala Publishing. Cartesian Bookstore specializes in used philosophy and theology books, while University Press Books offers a large collection of scholarly books for thinkers, writers, and academics. 

Used and new textbooks are available at Ned’s, Cal Student Store, and Campus Textbook Exchange. Amana Christian Bookstore stocks religious tracts. And, true to its name, Revolution Books specializes in revolutionary and radical politics.  

Telegraph’s Music retailers face challenges not only from the big box giants but from new technologies as well. Just four months ago, Apple Computers launched iTunes, enabling computer-savvy consumers to download virtually any song for just 99 cents. For the price of a CD, a consumer can now assemble a custom collection of favorite hits that can easily be stored on a computer hard drive or downloaded to a portable player. That’s in addition to countless other systems, many of the them illegal, for music fans to obtain their tunes online at no expense. 

Marc Weinstein, co-owner of Amoeba Music on Telegraph and two other locations in San Francisco and Hollywood, believes that iTunes and other forms of music downloading actually help his business. “Through the Internet, people now have access to music and bands that they’ve never heard. When they find something new, many people come to us to buy the original since the sound quality is better on a CD and we go deep into the musicians we carry.” 

Weinstein opened his first retail store on Telegraph in 1990 when huge chains were swallowing up smaller ones and independent stores. Weinstein and his partners saw the need to offer music other than what the major labels wanted people to hear and to create a wide selection of new and used music in one location.  

“Every style of music imaginable is well-represented at Amoeba. There is truly a feeling of unity and cultural diversity at the store. I have friends all over the world who come to the Bay Area to perform. Amoeba Music is usually on their list of places to visit because of their unique vast collection,” said Randy Porter, education director of the Berkeley Symphony Orchestra  

Rasputin Music, which began on Telegraph Avenue in 1971, has found retail success with a strategy similar to that of Amoeba: wide selection and knowledgeable staff. There are now Rasputin Music stores in Berkeley, Campbell, Newark, Pleasant Hill, San Lorenzo, San Francisco, and Vallejo. 

“Telegraph Avenue’s independent book and music stores have discovered that highlighting diversity and contributing to local culture are not revolutionary acts but essential for achieving success in today’s retail marketplace that the big players dominate,” said Roland Peterson, executive director of Berkeley’s Telegraph Avenue Business Improvement District. 


Patrick Galvin works with the Telegraph Business Improvement District (TBID) to help get their message out to the community.

Remembrance of Streets Past

By ZAC UNGER Special to the Planet
Tuesday August 12, 2003

Growing up in Berkeley, my friends and I sometimes amused ourselves by creating elaborate histories for the familiar homeless people who were fixtures of the Elmwood district. 

The leather-skinned man with the plastic sword and breastplate had been a warrior in Mongolia before his tribe was exiled. The guy with the red beard who spent his days in the Claremont branch of the library was actually a millionaire who’d lost his mind after seeing his family killed in a car crash. 

We were well enough trained to know that we shouldn’t talk to strangers, but these people who spent their days killing time on the sidewalks (just as we did) were more fascinating than frightening. 

In his new book “Punk Chicken and Other Tales,” Stephen Lestat depicts the world of Berkeley’s homeless from the inside. In a loosely connected train of short stories, Lestat lets us “normies” (as he refers to people with homes and jobs) take a peek inside the parallel universe that we are both surrounded by and inured to. 

In a voice entirely free of self pity, Lestat describes his life on the streets with as much buoyant good humor as if he were writing a memoir of his days on the Broadway stage. He brings the reader into a world where shopping carts are “minivans” and people communicate with the world through their scruffy, homeless pets. 

Overzealous police officers, hunger pangs, and the disdain of “normies” are merely minor inconveniences in Lestat’s basically sunny life. He and his friends pursue a joyfully insouciant alcoholism; the author happily touts the virtues of cheap wine and month-long benders with none of the opprobrium typical of the moralistic mainstream media. 

At times, however, the writing is overly precious to the point of condescension. In self-conscious asides Lestat calls attention to every small joke or minor pun he makes. The tone can be exceedingly didactic, as if the readers are a bunch of children, gathered ‘round grandpappy to hear delightful yarns about the old days. 

Lestat’s strength is his ability to evoke a crystal clear sense of place. His description of a southern meal at a homeless shelter leaves the mouth watering for a taste of peach cobbler, and as he describes the constant, shifting search for sun and shade, the reader can almost hear the rattling of nearby shopping carts. 

The stories of his compatriots are particularly vivid, and for those of us who know Berkeley well, the descriptions of folks like the Hate Man and the Sewer Sisters will feel like meetings with old friends. 

Unfortunately, this immediacy is also the book’s failing, and it is a crippling one. Lestat obstinately refuses to go beyond the most superficial layer of introspection. Perhaps it is an armor built up against the indifference of the normie world, but Lestat seems unable or unwilling to allow the reader access to his thoughts. He alludes to the fact that many homeless—the pierced and tattooed Gutter Punks in particular—live on the streets by choice, that they enjoy the freedom and camaraderie of rootlessness. 

This would have been a fascinating subject to explore, but Lestat always skates across the surface, preferring instead to detail the specifics of yet another beer run, or the tiresome antics of a predictably quirky pet squirrel. 

At no point does he tell us how it feels to be homeless; never does he let himself be vulnerable enough to detail the fear, the cold, and the loneliness that being homeless must doubtless entail. Instead, after the umpteenth description of the excellent bouquet from a bottle of screw-top wine, after the millionth reference to a box-camp as a “castle,” Lestat’s forced good humor wears decidedly thin. 

Further preventing Lestat from providing what could be a penetrating glimpse into street life is his equivocation about what sort of narrative he has created. In a breezy “disclaimer” he states that the book is a work of “faction,” that the stories might be either fiction or memoir and that he cares little about the distinction. While imaginative digression surely has its place in memoir, it is a technique best used to help deepen the reader’s understanding of an author’s emotion or motivation. In Lestat’s hands, this fictive blend only layers apocryphal action sequences on top of real ones, to no greater effect than the accretion of narrative bulk.  

“Punk Chicken” provides a shifting kaleidoscope of characters who fade in and out of frame just as they would on a typical Saturday evening stroll down Telegraph Avenue. In the end though, Lestat and his comrades are just like the homeless people I saw as a child: bright dramatic shells that left me wondering about the minds inside.

Afghan Woman’s Heroic, Fatal Fight For Human Rights

By SUSAN PARKER Special to the Planet
Tuesday August 12, 2003

Daughter, sister, wife, mother, grandmother, capitol punishment abolitionist, gardening activist, Buddhist, private investigator, author and Berkeley resident Melody Ermachild Chavis has written a brief but important book about Meena, the young Afghan woman who founded RAWA, the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan. 

Targeted for the adult and young adult market, “Meena, Heroine of Afghanistan,” is an easy-to-read, informative story with a glowing introduction by Alice Walker. 

Chavis, author of 1997’s “Altars in the Street,” a chronicle of her time spent living and raising her family in South Berkeley, begins her Afghan tale in 1969 when 12-year-old Meena is suffering from a near fatal bout of typhoid fever. After miraculously recovering from typhoid, Meena vows that she will use her second chance at life for a purpose “larger than herself.” Islam is a “soft thread in the fabric of life” within Meena’s large and extended clan. Her father, an architect, has two wives who live with him and their ten children in a family compound in Kabul. Although neither mother is educated, they encourage Meena to stay in school even though she is at the prime age when many Afghan girls enter into arranged marriages. 

Chavis chronicles Meena’s high school achievements as well as the larger historic changes happening in Afghanistan during the 1970’s. As the accomplished young woman was preparing to begin her studies at Kabul University, the Soviet Union was building up its political power base within Afghanistan. 

A decisive moment came in 1977, when Meena connected with eleven other women who recognized the need for Afghan’s daughters and mothers to lead the fight against both Soviet and fundamentalist repression. Together, they formed RAWA with the goal of restoring democracy to Afghanistan by restoring the right to vote, which was taken away from Afghan men and women in 1964. They pursued equality and social justice for women and advocated for a secular government, with religious freedom for all. 

Within two years the Soviet-backed political party had carried out assassinations of intellectuals and democrats, and no one was safe. In February 1979 the U.S. Ambassador was kidnapped and murdered and soon two successive Afghan presidents were killed. Soon after the new Afghan regime signed a treaty with the U.S.S.R., Soviet troops invaded in December, and anticommunist Mujahedeen Islamic rebels, launched their war against the Soviet occupiers. Massive anti-Soviet demonstrations took place in Kabul as Meena warned her compatriots that despite Soviet oppression, fundamentalist rule would be worse. 

Her predictions came true and in 1982, along with thousands of other Afghans, she fled to refugee camps along the Pakistani border. Meena and her fellow RAWA expatriates set up schools, workshops, orphanages and a hospital and made repeated dangerous clandestine journeys back to Afghanistan to help those trapped within their homeland.  

Then, on February 4, 1987, at the age of 30, Meena disappeared on a secret operation. Her body was later discovered in a vertical grave inside an abandoned house. 

RAWA continues on with her mission and Meena has become the symbolic martyr of their cause. 

Inspired to work toward world peace by the events of Sept. 11, Chavis discovered that Meena’s story had not been told. She contacted RAWA members, raised the funds necessary to travel to Pakistan and Afghanistan and spent months interviewing the men and women who knew and worked with the slain advocate of secular democracy. Much of her funding came from the Buddhist Peace Fellowship, a national organization that practices socially engaged Buddhism with headquarters in Berkeley. 

Chavis has pledged to donate all author royalties to aid RAWA’s medical and education projects. As Chavis says, “No matter what your thoughts on the war, we should be sending something other than bombs to the Afghan people.” 

For more information, go to www.rawa.org or www.afghanwomensmission.org. 

Black Oak Books will commemorate the terroist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 with a reading by Chavis on Sept. 11, 2003, 1491 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley. 486-0698. For details go to: www.blackoakbooks.com.

Obscure Bookstore Contains Massive Selection

Tuesday August 12, 2003

With over 450,000 books housed in a nondescript storefront on University Avenue, Serendipity Books is simultaneously one of the largest and least known bookstores in the Bay Area. 

Serendipity owner and founder Peter Howard has devoted the past 40 years of his life to maintaining his book business, which centers on out of-print and rare editions. The store does the majority of its business with university libraries and academics around the world, meaning it conducts very little of its business with walk-in customers. 

But for those who do venture into the store at 1201 University Ave., the rewards are plentiful. Every wall of the 7,500 square foot store is stacked from floor to ceiling with unique books, with additional materials on rolling library-style shelves and scattered on every flat surface in sight, including the floor. Though to an uninitiated visitor the space looks to be in a constant state of disarray, Howard claims he can locate books on any subject matter and by virtually any author. 

To this end, the store is named Serendipity because of the ostensible lack of order among the books and the special discoveries it can lead to. 

“Great and ceaseless care has been taken, almost unconsciously, to ensure that books will be found when and where one least expects them—but they will be found eventually,” reads one of the two guides to the store, entitled “How to Find Books Despite Peter Howard.” 

Howard, regarded as a skilled appraiser of antiquary printed materials, buys and sells books with customers around the world. On Sunday, for instance, he bought 8,000 books from the family of a deceased individual who Howard said had “the most incredible library I have ever seen.” Last month he bought 30,000 books from a university. 

Serendipity is also a major book supplier for several universities, including Harvard, Yale, Stanford, and UC Berkeley. Howard prides himself on his ability to “research almost any printed document of any era, in any language,” and to “evaluate and sell almost any printed item.” 

Serendipity is part of the Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America (ABAA), a trade organization dedicated to preserving ethics and facilitating trading between antique book stores. Howard served as the elected governor of that body from 1979-1981, and was president from 1992-1994, positions that have assisted him in making major deals because he knows most other major players in the antiquarian bookselling scene. 

The Serendipity store, which is a converted winery that still has a wine barrel hanging from the ceiling, is both a major supplier of rare books and a friendly neighborhood spot for book lovers to browse. 

Howard and his small staff serve lunch every day at 1:00 p.m. and invite any customers present at the time to join them. Many local artists, book sellers, and academics drop by throughout the day to greet Howard and chat about his recent acquisitions and sales. 

“I know all my long-time customers,” Howard said. “I can help people better if I am familiar with who they are and what they’re looking for.” 

On any given day, Howard sits and chats with friends or new acquaintances about any book, any author, any literary genre or style. One of his favorite conversation topics, though, is baseball. An ardent San Francisco Giants fan who has season tickets to Pac Bell Park, Howard’s store sports memorabilia from over 40 years of Giants history. He is rarely seen without his Giants baseball cap, and laughs that he offers price breaks if the team is playing in the playoffs at the time. 

“This is just work,” Howard said about his store. “Baseball, though, is what keeps me going.”

Will Arnold and Arianna Rally the Immigrant Vote?

By SANDIP ROY and RENE P. CIRIA-CRUZ Pacific News Service
Tuesday August 12, 2003

In California, where one out of four residents is foreign-born, the entry of an Austrian Hollywood superstar and a Greek anti-corporate pundit has electrified the messy recall contest. But will their gubernatorial bids make immigrants the swing vote at the ballot box in October? 

Both Arnold Schwarzenegger and Arianna Huffington touted their immigrant roots when they launched their candidacies. Though fewer immigrants know about Huffington, or even that she is an immigrant, Schwarzenegger’s success story does resonate among California’s foreign-born. 

Raymond Virata, a Filipino-American graphic designer in Daly City, at first found it hard to think of Schwarzenegger as other than a pumped-up superstar with grandiose ambitions. 

“You laugh at first because you think of an actor like (former) Filipino president Joseph Estrada who was a joke,” Virata says. But on second thought he is struck by the fact that Schwarzenegger is “a self-made man,” a bodybuilder who came from Austria and really made it. 

“Perhaps immigrants buy into the American dream much more than Americans who have been here two or three generations,” concurs Firoozeh Dumas, the Iranian-born author of the memoir “Funny in Farsi.” 

Dumas likes the idea that California’s next governor just might have a foreign accent, remembering how her parents struggled with their thick Iranian accents in blonde, blue-eyed towns like Whittier, Calif. 

But, “there is a hierarchy of accents,” Dumas warns. “When someone with a pronounced Middle Eastern accent runs for governor, I’ll know change has really come.” 

This “hierarchy” may be hindering Hispanic and Asian immigrants’ instant identification with European immigrants Schwarzenegger and Huffington. 

“It’s interesting—they both have these strong accents like most immigrants do,” says Pilar Marrero, political editor of the influential Spanish-language daily La Opinion in Los Angeles. But, she adds, “Most immigrants in California don’t sound like Arnold or Arianna.” 

For Marrero, the true immigrant story is Cruz Bustamante’s. “That the son of a working class immigrant family from a small town in the Central Valley can have a shot at being the state’s first Latino governor—now that’s exciting, that’s a real immigrant dream.” 

Schwarzenegger’s big hurdle with Latino voters is his admission that in 1994 he voted for the divisive Proposition 187, which cut off social services to undocumented immigrants and angered Hispanic voters. 

His campaign manager, former California governor Pete Wilson, was the main sponsor of Proposition. 187. “The Republicans are utterly clueless about Latinos and other immigrants,” says Roberto Lovato, a Los Angeles-based political consultant. “They hope that star power can erase the effects of repressive power like Proposition. 187.” 

But Schwarzenegger has powerful name recognition—celebrity estimated by some experts as worth hundreds of millions of dollars if paid for in advertising. In San Francisco’s Chinatown, for example, everyone knows the Terminator. 

“Arnold is a household name not just because of his movies, but also because an ad he did for an instant cup of noodles company was broadcast all over mainland China,” says Leon Chow, a community organizer with the Chinese Progressive Association. “In Chinatown, perhaps only 20 percent may know the name of the governor,” Chow adds. 

For some, it’s not Schwarzeneger’s celebrity but his politics that appeals. 

“Russian immigrants like Arnold not because he’s an immigrant or famous, but because he’s conservative, and we have conservative values like freedom and family,” says Janna Sundeyeva, publisher of the Russian newspaper Kstati in San Francisco. “And as an Austrian he understands the value of good public education.” 

Hispanics and Asians traditionally have low turnouts. Only 32 percent of Asians and 26 percent of Hispanics voted in 1996, compared with 68 percent of whites. But can the candidacies of two non-politicians galvanize Hispanic and Asian voters, who are 14 percent and four percent of the state's voters, respectively? 

They can, says David Lee, who heads the Chinese American Voter Education Committee, but not because they’re immigrants. 

“You will see a different kind of voter turnout—maybe those who normally don’t vote and are maybe less concerned about issues, but are drawn by star power,” Lee says. “With ‘Da Terminator’ in the race, turnout will likely increase as the media go bonkers over his candidacy.” 

But in a system where immigrants often feel left out of the electoral process it is no coincidence that the two high-profile immigrant candidates are both not career politicians. “Their candidacies are an indictment of bureaucratic politicians,” says Arvind Kumar, editor of the San Jose monthly India Currents. 

Though he thinks the recall is “a costly waste,” Kumar hopes Huffington and Schwarzenegger can energize the debate. “What's interesting is that they come from opposite ends of the political spectrum, proving you cannot put immigrants in a box.” 


PNS Editor Sandip Roy is host of “Upfront,” the Pacific News Service weekly radio program on KALW-FM, San Francisco. PNS Editor Ciria-Cruz is also a longtime editor for Filipinas Magazine

School Board to Discuss Blistering Report

School Board to Discuss Blistering Report
Tuesday August 12, 2003

The Board of Education will discuss a blistering, 740-page state report on the Berkeley schools Wednesday night. 

The report, prepared by the state’s Fiscal Crisis & Management Assistance Team (FCMAT) found shortcomings with everything from school safety, to payroll administration to the district’s special education program. 

Problems range from uncertified fire extinguishers, to payroll failures to a lack of adequate teacher training on special education. 

“For a community that prides itself on inclusion and diversity and calls itself progressive, it’s hard even to come up with a scathing enough adjective for Berkeley’s public school record on students with disabilities,” said Julia Epstein, communications director for the Berkeley-based Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, in a statement last week. 

The FCMAT study was funded through a September 2002 bill, authored by former State Assemblywoman Dion Aroner (D-Berkeley), that forgave a $1.1 million fine the school district owed the state for filing late paperwork in 2000, and poured $700,000 of it into the FCMAT report. The bill requires the district to spend the remaining $460,000 to implement the study’s recommendations over the next two years. 

FCMAT’s study included findings in five areas: community relations, personnel management, pupil achievement, financial management and facilities management. 

FCMAT began work with the district in October 2001, coming on board as a financial adviser one month after the Alameda County Office of Education disapproved Berkeley Unified’s faulty 2001-2002 budget.  

A year later, Aroner’s bill gave FCMAT the broader responsibility of conducting the wide-ranging study it issued last month. FCMAT officials, who worked with four subcontractors to complete the report, will be on hand at the Wednesday night meeting to discuss their findings and expectations for change over the next two years. 

The meeting begins at 7:30 p.m. at Old City Hall, 2134 Martin Luther King Jr. Way. 

—David Scharfenberg

Streets Grow Meaner

Friday August 08, 2003

With continued high unemployment plaguing the nation, the stark specter of homelessness haunts America’s cities—and with growing numbers forced from their houses and apartments, life on the streets is becoming a way of life for more and more. 

Just how friendly are those streets to the adults and children who can’t find places for themselves in a rapidly polarizing society? 

Not very, according to a national survey just released by the National Coalition for the Homeless in Washington, D.C. 

Cities across the nation are proving increasingly hostile toward those unfortunate enough to lack roofs over their heads, with 70 percent of the 147 communities surveyed passing new laws aimed at the homeless since January 2002, according to “Illegal to be Homeless,” the 80-page report released this week. 

The coalition based its rankings on the number of anti-homeless laws, severity of penalties and enforcement, general political climate toward the homeless, input from local activists and groups, and pending and recently enacted laws. 

The survey didn’t include Berkeley, though three other California cities long regarded by the national media as bastions of liberalism made it on the group’s roster of America’s 20 Meanest Cities. San Francisco—where homelessness has emerged as a hot political issue—was rated America’s second-meanest city, described as “notorious for its systematic abuse and intolerance of the homeless.” Santa Cruz came in at 13 and Santa Monica at 17. Boulder, Colorado—another city of similar repute—rounded out the roster at 20.  

Two other California cities made the list: Los Angeles, in fourth place, and Sacramento at eleventh. 

Together they and the other California cities surveyed earned California the title of America’s second meanest state apart from Florida, which also placed five cities in the top 20. 

Las Vegas was judged the country’s meanest city, where Mayor and former mob lawyer Oscar Goodman has consistently made it clear that those without homes and jobs aren’t welcome in Sin City. 

Goodman told a reporter for the Las Vegas Review-Journal that he had no apologies for his actions, but claimed he was not the country’s meanest mayor, but “the kindest, most gentle soul” who ever held the top elective post in Sin City. Of course Goodman has also made kind and gentle claims about some of his clients back from the days he was Las Vegas’ top mob lawyer, including the late Mafia hit man Anthony Spilotro (the skull-squeezing thug portrayed by Joe Pesci in the DeNiro flick “Casino”). 

Nevada American Civil Liberties Union executive director Gary Peck said that for the homeless in Sin City, “there is a pattern and practice of abusing and harassing homeless people with the intention of making them invisible, because that’s what’s good for business.” 

The coalition’s second-meanest state, Florida, also tied with California for the most cities on the top twenty list: Key West, Orlando, Miami Beach, Jacksonville Beach, and Hollywood. 

Osha Neumann, Berkeley lawyer and advocate for the homeless with the community’s Suitcase Clinic, said that the areas addressed by the survey reflect only part of the confrontation between the homeless and officialdom. 

“If you look at Albany, there are no homeless there, so it doesn’t make it on the list,” Neumann said. He said many of Berkeley’s homeless had settled on a landfill site there after being pressured out of Berkeley. Then, in 1999, Albany police cleared the site and the community now has no homeless population. 

Another homeless reality not reflected in tables of statutes is the enforcement by police of policies reflected in no lawbook—police actions based not on municipal codes but on unspoken policies. 

“In the city’s commercial corridors, a few of the officers in the Berkeley Police Department seem to see it as their mission to protect the interests of merchants,” Neumann said. “The politicians, the city council and the mayor don’t seem to want to deal with it. 

“A few years ago the city council tried to pass a number of laws aimed at the homeless, but the American Civil Liberties Union challenged them and a new council was voted in and rescinded them. But the police often act as the sole authority of who can and cannot be on the sidewalks and will ‘enforce’ non-existent laws.” 

Neumann said the Suitcase Clinic has learned of a whole series of incidents involving elderly and disabled African-American women selling copies of Street Spirit, a newspaper sponsored by the American Friends Service Committee that covers homeless issues and is sold by the homeless to raise money. 

“Police tell them it’s illegal to sit on a milk carton or a bucket, or to lean against the building, but there are no such laws,” Neumann said. “But it happens in Berkeley. 

“As it is, we have plenty of laws already that make it impossible for a person who is homeless to survive on the streets without breaking some statute.” 

And as long as the national and regional economies continue to generate high unemployment, he said, the homeless will be a visible presence on the street. 

A decade ago much of that presence as reflected on Telegraph Avenue consisted of Vietnam combat vets struggling with the ravages of war, Neumann said, while today it is younger males. 

“There’s a whole population of older homeless women, many of them with children, who you never see, who live in the shadows and on the margins. There’s a tremendous shortage of housing.” 


Berkeley This Week

Friday August 08, 2003


Long Haul Infoshop Tenth Anniversary Party at 8 p.m. Celebrate the Infoshop’s 10th anniversary. Vegan chocolate cake, dancing, open house, and more. 3124 Shattuck Ave., across from La Peña, 1 block east of Ashby BART. 540-0751.  

Berkeley Critical Mass Bike Ride meets at the Berkeley BART the second Friday of every month at 5:30 p.m. 

Women in Black Vigil, from noon to 1 p.m. at UC Berkeley, Bancroft at Telegraph. wibberkeley@yahoo.com 548-6310, 845-1143. 

Meditation, Peace Vigil and Dialogue, gather at noon on the grass close to the West Entrance to UC Berkeley, on Oxford St. near University Ave. People of all traditions are welcome to join us. Sponsored by the Buddhist Peace Fellowship. 496-6000, ext. 135. www.bpf.org 


World Breastfeeding Day Celebration at 11:30 a.m. in Civic Center Park, followed at 12:30 p.m. by an attempt to set a new breast-feeding world record in the Berkeley Commu- 

nity Theater. Sponsored by the City of Berkeley Health Dept. 981-5344.  

Knitting Class for Afghans Kids Campaign Learn to knit a simple child’s cap on from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Berkeley Friends Church, 1600 Sacramento St. near Cedar, two blocks from North Berkeley BART. Suggested donation of $20 for AFSC Peace Work. Yarn, knitting needles, lesson, pattern, and snacks provided. 415- 565-0201 ext. 12. 

Howard Dean Precinct Walk meet at 10 a.m. at Au Coquelet Cafe, 2000 University Ave. We will supply maps, fliers, and strategies to help get your message out as you walk a precinct to tell your neighbors how we are going to take our country back. Please sign up and bring friends! After-party at Jupiter’s at 5 p.m. For information call Paul Hogarth 666-1260.  

Walk in Tilden Park with Solo Sierrans at 5:30 p.m. Meet at Lone Oak Picnic area for an hour walk through the cool woods. Optional dinner on Solano Avenue follows. We are mostly single, mostly over 50. You need not be a Sierra Club member to attend. For more information call Vera, 234-8949. 

Peace Lantern Ceremony at the north end of Aquatic Park, west end of Addison St., just south of University Ave. Make lantern shades and float them on the water in a beautiful Japanese ceremony remembering the victims of the atomic bombings and of all wars. Lantern-making begins at 6:30 p.m., music 7:15 p.m, and lantern launching from 8 to 9 p.m. For information, or to volunteer call 594-4088. www.ProgressivePortal.org/lanterns/ 

Free Emergency Prepar- 

edness Class on Shelter Operations, for anyone who lives or works in Berkeley, from 9 a.m. to noon at 997 Cedar St., between 8th and 9th Sts. Register on-line at www.ci.ber 

keley.ca.us/fire/oes or by calling 981-5506. 

Family Shabbat with Rabbi Kai Eckstein “What Happened on Noah's Ark?” from noon to 1:30 p.m. at the Albany Community Center, 1249 Marin Ave. Please bring lunch for your family, and (finger) dessert to share. We also collect non-perishable food for the needy. For more information email kolhadash@ 

aol.com or call 428-1492.  


Butterfly Mania for ages 5 and up, from 1 to 3 p.m. at Tilden Nature Area in Tilden Park. Take a closer look at our native butterflies. What do they eat and how? We will make butterfly trading cards and play games with them in our butterfly garden. Cost is $3. 525-2233.  

Top of the Bay Family Day with Lego Building, from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. at Lawrence Hall of Science, Centennial Dr. 643-5961. www.lawrencehallofscience.org 

Stop the War Makers: Hands Around Livermore Nuclear Weapons Lab A nonviolent rally and march around Livermore nuclear weapons lab, at 1:30 p.m. at Robert Payne Park, 5800 Patterson Pass Rd, at Vasco, Livermore. For information call Tri-Valley CAREs 925-443-7148. www.trivalleycares.org 

Tanabata Star Festival, at Telegraph and Bancroft, from 1 to 4 p.m. Citizens of the Earth Network will dress in traditional summer kimono (yukata) and meet to acknowledge the lunar calendar’s “Tanabata /Star“ festival in order to raise awareness about the possible deployment of nuclear weapons in space, the legacy of U.C.'s involvement in the Livermore Labs as well as Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the effects of depleted uranium weapons.  

Free Hands-on Bicycle Repair Clinic, at 11 a.m. at REI, 1338 San Pablo Ave. 527-4140. 

Permaculture Workshop Series Ongoing workshops every second and last Sunday of the month at the BerkeleyEco-House, 1305 Hopkins St. Call for information, 465-9439.  

Grizzly Peak Flyfishers, a group dedicated to the sport of fly fishing through education and conservation, invites you to its monthly meeting, a casting demonstration and clinic conducted by the Oakland Casting Club at the McCrea Park Casting Ponds, 4460 Shepherd St. at Carson St., Oakland, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and will include a barbecue lunch. The club will provide hot dogs, hamburgers and soft drinks; attendees are encouraged to bring side dishes. Expert, beginner and “wannabe” fly fishers are all welcome. For more information, call 547-8629. 

Tibetan Buddhism, Lama Pal- 

zang and Pema Gellek on “Tranquil Awareness” at 6 p.m. at the Tibetan Nyingma Institute, 1815 Highland Pl. 843-6812. www.nyingmainstitute.com 


Berkeley CopWatch meets at 6 p.m. at 2022 Blake St. Volun- 

teers needed. For information call 548-0425. 


Bay Area Coalition for Head- 

waters meets at 7 p.m. at the Rockridge Library, 5366 College Ave., near Rockridge BART, Oakland. 835-6303.  

Berkeley Camera Club meets at 7:30 p.m., at the Northbrae Community Church, 941 The Alameda. Share your slides and prints and learn what other photographers are doing. Monthly field trips. 525-3565. www.berkeleycameraclub.org 


“Grabbing Headlines With Street Theater: A Media Workshop for Activists” world premier video screening at 7 p.m. at Berkeley Gray Panthers, 1403 Addison St. 548-9696.  

Berkeley Peace Walk and Vigil at the Berkeley BART Sta- 

tion. Vigil at 6:30 p.m. followed by Peace Walk at 7 p.m. www. 


Twilight Tour: Succulents for Your Garden at 5:30 p.m. at the UC Botanical Garden, 200 Centennial Drive. Cost is $5, registration required. 643-2755. 

South Berkeley Mural Project Community members in South Berkeley are coming together to create a neighborhood mural on the side of the Grove Liquor Store on the corner of Ashby Ave. and Martin Luther King, Jr. Way. Meetings are held every Wednesday night at 7:30 p.m. at Epic Arts Studios at 1923 Ashby Ave. For further information on ways to get involved please call 644-2204. 

Community Dances, traditional English and American dances, 8 p.m. every Wednesday, $9. 7 p.m. first Sunday, $10. Grace North Church, 2138 Cedar St. 233-5065. www.bacds.org 

Free Feldenkrais ATM Classes for adults 55 and older at 10:30 and 11:45 a.m. at the Jewish Community Center, 1414 Walnut at Rose. For information call 848-5143.  


East Bay Watershed Forum Kick-Off Meeting from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Oakland City Hall, Hearing Room 4. Agencies, organizations, and citizens interested in East Bay creeks and watersheds are encouraged to come. The Forum is a project of the new East Bay Watershed Center at Merritt College. It is envisioned as a network for local creek and watershed groups to share ideas, pool resources, and collaborate on projects. For more information, call 434-3840 or 434-3841 or email ecomerritt@aol.com 

“Doing it Right - Hiring a Licensed Contractor,” video presentation at 1 p.m. at the North Berkeley Senior Center. Individuals may borrow the video after today. 981-5190. 

Berkeley Liberation Radio 104.1 FM holds public meetings for all interested people first and third Thursdays, 7 p.m. at the Long Haul Info Shop, 3124 Shattuck Ave. 595-0190.  

Lawyers in the Library, at 6 p.m. in the South Branch, Russell at MLK Jr. Way. 981-6260. 


Tilden Farm Week, for ages 8 to 11. Mon. Aug. 11 to Fri. Aug. 15, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Come experience the old-time, country lifestyle during a week of farm camp fun! We'll learn about farm animals, dig, shovel, harvest, cook, have fun, and get dirty! At Tilden Nature Area, in Tilden Park. Cost is $135 residents, $149 non-residents. Registration required. 636-1684.  

Summer Fun Camps for Children and Teens, from age five and up are offered at Berkeley recreation centers and include such activities as arts and crafts, swimming and tennis lessons, yoga, organized sports and games, and field trips. The Summer Fun Camp Program runs through August 22, Mon. - Fri., 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The fee, including lunch and snack, is $77 per week for Berkeley residents. Sponsored by the City of Berkeley’s Parks Recreation and Waterfront Department. Applications for the camps can be picked up at the Camps Office, located at 2016 Center Street, or can be mailed upon request. 981-5150. 

Echo Lake Youth Camp For ages 6 - 12 at Echo Lake, near South Lake Tahoe. One week sessions are offered between July 7 and August 22. Cost is $235 per session. For registration information please visit the City of Berkeley’s Recreation Programs Office at 2016 Center St., or call 981-5150.  

Free Marketing Workshops, sponsored by Sisters Headquarters, for women entrepreneurs, every Wed. from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at 643 17th St. Oakland. For information call 238-1100. 

Vista Community College Program for Adult Education (PACE) Enrollment through Sept. 6. PACE is a college alternative for adults with job and family responsibilities. Enrollment in American Sign Language classes is also being accepted. For information call 981-2864 or 981-2800 or email mclausen@peralta.cc.ca.us  

Community Food Drive Make a cash or food donation to the Safeway/ABC7 Summer Food Drive, benefiting the Alameda County Community Food Bank and its 300 member agencies. The food drive will help thousands of local low-income children who lose access to school meal programs during summer vacation. Now through Aug. 9, put nutritious, nonperishable food donations in the red food collection barrels in all Alameda County Safeway stores or make a cash donation at Safeway check-out stands. 834-3663, ext. 318. www.accfb.org  

Free Energy Conservation Retrofits for Berkeley Residents CA Youth Energy Services is a nonprofit sponsored by the City of Berkeley that trains and employs high school students to provide conservation retrofits. Call for an appointment, 428-2357. 

Free Energy Bill Payment Assistance The City of Berkeley has money to help low-income households pay their gas and electric bills. For applications and more information, contact the Energy Office at 644-8544. TDD: 981-6903. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/energy 


Waterfront Commission meets Wednesday, August 13, at 7 p.m., at 201 University Ave. Cliff Marchetti. 644-6376 ext. 224. www.ci.berkeley. 


Commission on Early Childhood Education meets Thursday, August 14, at 7 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center. Marianne Graham, 981-5416. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/commis- 


Community Health Commission meets Thursday, August 14, at 6:45 p.m., at the South Berkeley Senior Center. William Rogers, 981-5344. ww.ci.berkeley.ca.us/ 


Zoning Adjustments Board meets Thursday, August 14 at 7 p.m., in City Council Chambers. Mark Rhoades, 981-7410. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/commissions/zoning

Letters to the Editor

Friday August 08, 2003


Editors, Daily Planet: 

I enjoyed Zac Unger’s piece on the Thai brunch (Daily Planet, July 29-31). But I’m surprised when he says, “I’m still searching for the majesty of my first purple mountain. Zac, it’s an easy two-step process: 

1. Walk east until you arrive at the fruited plains. 

2. Look up. 

Walter Gray 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

OK, we all need to follow up on this. All of us. Tell your friends, tell your neighbors. Hey, tell your enemies. 

We can subvert the attempted corruption of the political process by conservative Republicans in the form of the recall election, and solve the state’s budget crisis, all with one simple act. Every registered voter in the state should pay the $3,500 filing fee and run for Governor of California in the recall election! There are approximately 15 million registered voters in the state; even if some cannot afford the $3500 filing fee up front, a large majority of voters probably can. The state could raise upwards of $40 billion, even $50 billion, if every voter followed through on this! 

Of course, the state would have to be flexible on payments: accept credit cards, work out installments, etc. But the beauty of this is that we, the people, solve both the crisis that precipitated the recall and the fiasco that this recall election is quickly becoming. 

Let’s go folks! There are only a few more days. I’ll see you all down at the County Registrar! 

John T. Selawsky 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

A petition from 274 neighbors of the Berkeley Adult School and Franklin School was delivered this week to the board of education, urging the board to delay its Aug. 20 vote on the proposed move of the BAS to Franklin. 

The petition represents a clear majority of residents who live near the sites. Neighbors are concerned that a decision affecting the very nature of our neighborhoods will be made on the basis of rushed planning, on data that are too often incomplete and contradictory, on dumb institutional momentum.  

Some wonder, despite assurances to the contrary, if the school district will have to come back and ask us for more money to complete its multi-site facilties project. Others believe the proposal would hurt the Adult School and its ability to serve its students. 

The design plan itself is drab.  

Moreover, respected planning experts have recently raised serious concerns about the district’s environmental and traffic analysis of the proposal and about its legality. The city manager has weighed in to ask the district for a plan that details the effects on all the school sites involved. There is obviously no time to seriously discuss these recent critiques before Aug. 20. The public hearing that night on the entire issue will be limited to the board’s regular 30 minute general comment period.  

To be fair, district officials and board members have regularly met with the community to explain themselves and hear us out. In the end, however, the vote is apparently seen by the district as more procedural than anything else, just another step in implementing a broad facilitates plan already adopted by the board. 

In fact, this vote would start in motion a series of relocation and construction projects that would permanently change the very nature of at least three neighborhoods.  

At Franklin, at least 1,200 students would be introduced into a residential neighborhood five days a week and into the nights. Many of these students would arrive by car. At West Campus, the current home of the Adult School, residents want the school to stay and worry that the planned administration and maintenance facility would not be a good fit. The vote would certainly have ripple effects on Oregon Street, where the current maintenance offices are located. These are all neighborhoods where the balance is always precarious between a busy, urban setting (which we enjoy) and chaos and congestion.  

We know this balance well, but there may be some district officials and even school board members who think that our concerns are just selfish “preferences,” in the words of one.  

Well, of course, if something major is going to be done to our neighborhoods and the way we live, we have to demand that it be done right. In the end, some residents may decide that these moves simply make no sense at all.  

But it’s also true that most of those active in this issue know and value the Adult School and want it to have a proper home (not shoehorned into another old building so that the district can go on to other things). People in these neighborhoods appreciate the importance of the district’s mission and care about its problems. It would be a shame for the board to waste this support. It might be a long time before it got it back. 

What we need now is, as one resident said, just more “class and clarity.” And more time. 

James Day 



Editors, Daily Planet: 

What’s going on with Berkeley government? They claim to have a “Green Program” which preserves or creates play space for children yet won’t speak up to stop such amazingly mind boggling ideas as paving over the baseball field at Franklin Elementary school or filling in huge areas of irreplaceable nature at Lawrence Livermore labs, and for what? Parking space!!! Where are our progressives now? You hear them yelling and screaming and taking up all kinds of city time and city tax money (can you say deficit?), complaining about war, starvation and other social problems on the other side of the globe but do absolutely nothing for the local Berkeley constituency for whom they actually work and who pay them! We need to recall them all and let the parade be led by our fearless leader Gray Davis. 

Saul Grabia 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

With regard to the proposed move of the Berkeley Adult School into the Franklin School facility, all I want to know is, who dreamed up this idea and how do they think that it’s going to benefit this neighborhood? I would guess that the authors of this plan neither live in this neighborhood, nor do they have to contend with the increased traffic congestion or the ever decreasing availability of parking spaces.  

The parking situation is already bordering on ridiculous—one can scarcely even find a parking space in front of their own homes when they come home from work in the evenings. And just when you thought that things couldn’t get any worse, the relocation of the BAS to the Franklin School site will make an overcrowded situation even more difficult, by adding dozens of cars onto already choked streets. 

I was here in 1992 when the city proposed to build low-income housing units on the grounds of the then-derelict and abandoned Franklin School site (which they went ahead and built anyway despite overwhelming opposition from community residents). The explanation given by city proponents was that the facility could not be used for educational purposes anyway because it was structurally unsound, and failed to meet earthquake standards. To my knowledge, nothing has yet been done to upgrade this facility since that time, but now they’re in a big hurry to move the BAS into this building? Give me a break! 

My gut feeling is that this is a poorly conceived plan that will be a waste of already limited school funding, and ultimately benefit no one. Community residents should speak up and make their voices heard on this issue, otherwise we’re going to wake up and find ourselves saying “There goes the neighborhood.” 

Instead of trying to rush this thing through as has been done in the past, I would certainly be in favor of some better decision making by BUSD officials, who should make every attempt to consider more viable alternatives. Perhaps resources could be better utilized toward upgrading the present site at its current location on University Avenue. 

Dennis Perocier 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

At a time when there is so much bad news, it’s pleasant to have something good to share: 

Yesterday two teenagers from California Youth Energy Services came and improved the quality of my life as well as the environment—and it was free. The provided compact fluorescent lamps, a low-flow shower head, cabinet latches to prepare for the next earthquake and much more.  

The boys were prompt, pleasant, punctual and very efficient. An absolute joy! 

You too can enjoy this great service by calling 428-2357 and making an appointment. Participating in this win-win program is enough to make you feel good all day. 

Rhoda Levinson

Arts Calendar

Friday August 08, 2003



Stage Door Conservatory's “Kids OnStage” presents “Blame it on the Wolf,” a free mini-musical by Douglas Love, at 7:30 p.m. at Epworth United Methodist Church, 1953 Hopkins St. 527-5939. StageDoorCamp@aol.com 


Czech Horror and Fantasy on Film: “Valerie and Her Week of Numbers” at 7:30 p.m. and “Morgiana” at 9:20 p.m. at the Pacific Film Archive. Cost is $4 members, UC students, $5 UC faculty, staff, seniors, disabled, youth, $8 adults. 642-0808. www.bampfa.berkeley.edu 

Hip Hop Film Fest at 6 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $5 per film. For film schedule email info@HipHopFilmFest.com or call 415-285-1416. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 


Jeremiah Tower talks about “California Dish: What I Saw (and Cooked) at the American Culinary Revolution” at 7 p.m. at Cody’s Books, 1730 Fourth St. 559-9500. www.codysbooks.com 


Ballet Counterpointe Rep of Berkeley, “Works in Motion” showcasing local choreographers and ballet artists from the independent dance scene, at 8 p.m. at ODC Theater, 3153 17th St. at Shotwell, SF. Tickets are $15-$20 sliding scale, available from 415-863-9834. 

The Soukous Stars from Congo at 9:30 p.m., at Ashkenaz. Cost is $18. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

The Weary Boys, Gilbert Dribblers at 9:30 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $8. 841-2082. www.starryploughpub.com 

Beatropolis performs nu-jazz, hip-hop, dNb and dub at 7:30 p.m. at The Jazz House. Cost is $6-$15 sliding scale. 649-8744. 


Ellen Rowe, pianist, at 5 p.m. at the Jazzschool. Cost is $20 general, $10 students, $5 seniors. 845-5373. www.jazzschool.com 

Brenda Boykin and Folk- 

lorico 57, new traditions in jazz and blues, at 8 p.m. at the Jazz- 

school. Cost is $12-$18. 845-5373. www.jazzschool.com 

Michael McNevin, singer songwriter, at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage Coffee House. Cost is $15.50 advance, $16.50 at the door. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 

Danny Caron and Friends at 9:30 p.m. at Downtown, 2102 Shattuck Ave. 649-3810. 

Dub Vision, reggae and dancehall grooves, at 8 p.m. at Jupiter, 2181 Shattuck Ave. 843-7625.  


Ghandaia, El Jefe, Tribolectic perform Latin Funk, Hip Hop, and Jazz Electronica at 9:30 p.m. at Blakes on Telegraph. Cost is $6. 848-0886. www.blakesontelegraph.com 

The Locusts, Erase Errata, Hella, The Rah Brahs, My Name is Rar Rar perform at 8 p.m. at 924 Gilman St., an all-ages, member-run, no alcohol, no drugs, no violence club. Cost is $5. 525-9926. 


San Francisco Mime Troupe Veronique of the Mounties in “Operation: Frozen Freedom” at 1:30 p.m. in Live Oak Park. 415-285-1717. www.sfmt.org 


“The Cockettes” free screening with costume party at 8  


p.m. at the Long Haul, a reading room, library and community center in South Berkeley lo- 

cated at 3124 Shattuck Ave. Wheelchair accessible. 540-0751.  


The Inquiring Camera: Tie Xi Qu: West of the Tracks - Part Two: “Remnants” at 7 p.m. at the Pacific Film Archive. Cost is $4 members, UC students; $5 UC faculty, staff, seniors, disabled, youth; $8 adults. 642-0808. www.bampfa.berkeley.edu 

Hip Hop Film Fest at 6 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $5 per film. For film schedule email info@HipHopFilmFest.com or call 415-285-1416. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 


Susan McDougal discusses “The Woman Who Wouldn’t Talk,” on her refusal to testify in the Whitewater investigations, at 7:30 p.m. at Cody’s Books. 845-7852. www.codysbooks.com 


African Drum Workshop with Wade Peterson. Beginners from 10 to 11:30 a.m., experienced from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., at The Jazz House. Cost is $15-$25, and advance registration is encouraged. 533-5111. 

Ballet Counterpointe Rep of Berkeley, “Works in Motion” showcasing local choreographers and ballet artists from the independent dance scene, at 8 p.m. at ODC Theater, 3153 17th St. at Shotwell, SF. Tickets are $15-20 sliding scale, available from 415-863-9834. 

North Indian Classical Music, Lakshmi Shankar, vocals, and Pandit Swapan Chaudhuri, tabla, at 7:30 p.m. at St. John’s Presbyterian Church, 2727 College Ave. Tickets are $12-$20. 415-454-6264. 

Adrian’s Music Salon with Michael La Macchia ensemble at 8 p.m. at The Jazz House. Cost is $6-$15 sliding scale. www.thejazzhouse.com  

Shawn Baltazor and Kenny Pexton, farewell concert, at 8 p.m. at the Jazzschool. Cost is $10. 845-5373.  


Caribbean Allstars perform reggae at 9:30 p.m., at Ashkenaz. Cost is $13. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

Luddites, Dead Science, Graham Connah’s Jettison Slinky, Good for Cows at 9:30 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $8. 841-2082.  


Slow and Slower at 9:30 p.m. at Downtown, 2102 Shattuck Ave. 649-3810. 

Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Gram- 

my-winning folk music legend, at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage Coffee House. Cost is $17.50 in ad 

vance, $18.50 at the door. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 

Hot for Teacher: A Van Halen Tribute and Blitzenhamer perform at 9:30 p.m. at Blakes on Telegraph. Cost is $10. 848-0886. www.blakesontelegraph.com 

Married Couple, alt-jazz,, at 8 p.m. at Jupiter, 2181 Shattuck Ave. 843-7625.  


Strike Anywhere, From Ashes Rise, They Live, Robot has Werewolf Hand, The Disaster, Stalker Potential (last show) perform at 8 p.m. at 924 Gilman St. Cost is $5. 525-9926. 


Opening Reception BACA National Juried Exhibition from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Berkeley Art Center. Exhibition runs until Sept. 13. 644-6893. www.berkeleyartcenter.org 

San Francisco Mime Troupe Veronique of the Mounties in “Operation: Frozen Freedom” at 1:30 p.m. in Live Oak Park. 415-285-1717. www.sfmt.org 


W. C. Fields: “So’s Your Old Man” at 5:30 p.m. and “The Man on the Flying Trapeze” at 7:15 at the Pacific Film Archive. Cost is $4 members, UC students, $5 UC faculty, staff, seniors, disabled, youth, $8 adults. 642-0808.  


“East and West,” a 1923 silent film comedy, at 2 p.m. at the Jewish Community Center, 1414 Walnut St. Suggested donation $2. 848-0237. 


Poetry at Cody’s with Dale Pendell and Dick Bakken at 7:30 p.m. at Cody’s Books. Donation $2. 845-7852. www.codysbooks.com 

Roger King will read from his new novel, “A Girl From Zan- 

zibar,” which recently won the Bay Area Book Reviewer’s Award for Fiction, at 7:30 p.m. at Black Oak Books. 486-0698.  



Live Oak Concert, William Skeen, ‘cello, performs Bach Suites for solo ‘cello at 7:30 p.m. at Berkeley Art Center. Cost is $10, BACA members $8, Students and seniors $9. Children under 12 free. 644-6893. www.berkeleyartcenter.org 

Third Annual Transbay  

Skronkathon BBQ from noon to 10:30 p.m. at The Jazz House. We supply the grills, tables and music, with fifty or so bands performing conceptual deconstruc- 

ted creative nonstandards, and you bring something for the grill, and enjoy the day. 649-8744. http://music.acme.com 

Flamenco Open Stage at Ashkenaz, at 7:30 p.m. Cost is $9. 525-5054.  


Phil Marsh, traditional and contemporary folk, at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage Coffee House. Cost is $15.50 in advance, $16.50 at the door. 548-1761. 


Steve Erquiaga and Trio  

Paradiso, originals with Argentine and Brazilian influences, at 4:30 p.m. at the Jazzschool. Cost is $10-$15. 845-5373.  


Catholic Comb, Soular perform Alt Rock at 9:30 p.m. at Blakes on Telegraph. Cost is $6. 848-0886.  




Ezra Bayda reads from his new book, “At Home in the Muddy Water: A Guide to Finding Peace within Everyday Chaos,” at 7:30 p.m. Black Oak Books. 486-0698. www.blackoakbooks.com 

Poetry Express, Public Speaking for Poets Workshop, from 7 to 9:30 p.m. at Priya Restaurant, 2072 San Pablo Ave.  



The Inquiring Camera: “Intoxicated by My Illness” at 7:30 p.m. at the Pacific Film Archive. Cost is $4 members, UC students, $5 UC faculty, staff, seniors, disabled, youth, $8 adults. 642-0808. www.bampfa.berkeley.edu 


Berkeley Summer Poetry, with Julia Vinograd, from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Mediterranean Cafe, 2475 Telegraph Ave. Free, open mic, poetry, prose, short fiction, amateur and advanced artists welcome. 549-1128. 

Raymond Francis discusses his new book “Never be Sick Again” at 7:30 p.m. at Barnes and Noble. 644-0861.  

Diana Winston, Associate Director of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship in Berkeley, will discuss her new book, “Wide Awake: A Buddhist Guide for Teens,” at 7:30 p.m. at Black Oak Books. 486-0698.  



Courtableau at 8:30 p.m. with a Cajun dance lesson with Patti Whitehurst at 8 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $9. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

Dayna Stephens House Jam at 8 p.m. at The Jazz House. Donation $5.649-8744. www.thejazzhouse.com 

Mimi Fox, solo guitar, at 8 p.m. at Downtown, 2102 Shattuck Ave. 649-3810. 



Excess of Evil: “The Brotherhood of Satan” at 7:30 p.m. Pacific Film Archive. Cost is $4 members, UC students, $5 UC faculty, staff, seniors, disabled, youth, $8 adults. 642-0808.  



Berkeley Poetry Slam with host Charles Ellik at 8:30 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $7, $5 with student i.d. 841-2082. www.starryploughpub.com 

Café Poetry and open mic hosted by Kira Allen at 7:30 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Do- 

nation requested. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 


Hookside, rockin’ a cappella, at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage Coffee House. Cost is $15.50 in advance, $16.50 at the door. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 

African Music Series: Pape and Cheikh from Senegal at 9:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $13 in advance, $15 at the door. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

Jules Broussard and Ned Boynton at 8 p.m. at Down- 

town, 2102 Shattuck Ave. 649-3810. 



The Inquiring Camera: “The Damned and the Sacred” at 8:50 p.m. at the Pacific Film Archive. Cost is $4 members, UC students, $5 UC faculty, staff, seniors, disabled, youth, $8 adults 642-0808. www.bampfa.berkeley.edu 


Ved Mehta will read from “Dark Harbor: Building House and Home on an Enchanted Island” at 7:30 p.m. at Black Oak Books. 486-0698.  


Grace Martin Smith and Richard Schwartzenberger, translators of “Listening to Istanbul: Selected Poems of Orhan Vei Kanik,” will read the poems and show slides of Istanbul at 7:30 p.m. at Easy Going Travel Shop and Bookstore, 1385 Shattuck Ave. at Rose. 843-3533. www.easygoing.com 

Stanton Friedman discusses the existence of a UFO cover-up and his new book “Top Secret/MAJIC” at 7:30 p.m. at Barnes and Noble. 644-0861. 


Lúnasa, high energy traditional Irish music, at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage Coffee House. Cost is $17.50 in advance, $18.50 at the door. 548-1761.  


Danny Barnes, The Places at 9:30 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $8. 841-2082.  


Keni El Lebrijano, flamenco guitar, at 8 p.m. at Downtown, 2102 Shattuck Ave. 649-3810. 


Aurora Theater Company, “The Accidental Activist” Aug. 8 and 9 at 7:30 p.m., Aug. 10 at 2 p.m. at 2081 Addison St. Tickets are $20. Buy your tickets online at www.Frantix.net or 415-621-1216 or 866-372-6849. www.auroratheatre.org 

Berkeley Music Theater Company, “Oliver!” Lionel Bart’s musical will be performed Aug. 8 and 9, at 8 p.m. at Albany High School, 603 Key Route, Albany. Tickets are $15 general, $10 seniors, students, and low-income. 524-1224. 

Oakland Summer Theater, “The Death and Life of Sneaky Fitch,” Aug. 8 and 9, Fri. at 8 p.m., Sat. at 3 and 8 p.m. Tickets are $10 in advance, $12 at the door, $8 seniors and students. Chabot School Auditorium, 6686 Chabot Rd. To reserve tickets call 597-5026. 

Shotgun Players, “Mother Courage and Her Children,” by Bertolt Brecht, translated by David Hare, directed by Patrick Dooley. Runs Saturdays and Sundays at 4 p.m. in John  

Hinkle Park, until Sept. 14. No show Aug 9. Show Sept. 13 is at Live Oak Park, Shattuck and Berryman. Free. 704-8210.  



ACCI Gallery, “Taste and Touch,” ACCI Members Exhibition with artists Toby Tover-Krein, Ellen Russell, Jean Hearst and Biliana Stremska. The exhibition runs to Aug. 11.  

Annual Seconds Sale Aug. 14 - 17. Gallery hours are Mon. - Thurs. 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Fri. 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sat. 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. 1652 Shattuck Ave. 843-2527. www.accigallery.com 

Addison Street Windows, “Windows” An all-media exhibit by San Francisco Women Artists, Thurs., July 10 through Mon., Aug. 11. 2018 Addison St. 658-0585. For more information on the artists call 524-8538.  

The Ames Gallery, “Conversations with Myself” Works by Barry Simons. Paintings and collages incorporating the artist’s original poetry. By appointment or chance. Exhibition runs until Aug. 15. 2661 Cedar St. 845-4949. www.amesgallery.com  

Berkeley Art Center, 19th National Juried Exhibition: “Works on Paper,” runs Aug. 6 to Sept. 13. Berkeley Art Center in Live Oak Park, 1275 Walnut St. Open Wed. - Sun. noon to 5 p.m. Admission is free. 644-6893.  


Berkeley Historical Society, “Focus on Berkeley” A photography exhibit by the Berkeley Camera Club, Berkeley High School students and community photographers in celebration of the City’s 125th Anniversary. Exhibition runs until Sept. 13. Berkeley History Center, 1931 Center St. Sponsored by the Berkeley Historical Society,  


Berkeley Public Library, “The Lighter Side of Crop Circles,” photographs by Ben Ailes. Runs until Aug. 30. First Floor Catalog Lobby, 2090 Kittredge at Shattuck. 981-6100. 

Berkeley YWCA, “Photo- 

graphs by Charles and Hilda Good - 1915 to 1921: Homesteading in Southern California” through Aug. 29. in the YWCA Main Lounge, 2600 Bancroft Way. 848-6375.  

Kala Art Institute, Kala Fellowship Exhibition, Part II Runs until Sept. 6. Call for gallery hours. 1060 Heinz Ave. 549-2977. www.kala.org  

A New Leaf Gallery/Sculpture Site, “Four Elements of Sculpture: Fire, Air, Water and Earth,” Exhibition runs to August 31. 1286 Gilman St. Call for gallery hours. 527-7621. www.sculpturesite.com 

Red Oak Realty “Mixed Media,” by Stan Whitehead. Reception for the artist on Aug. 8, 6 to 8 p.m. Exhibition runs July 31 through October 23, Mon. - Sat., 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. 1891 Solano Ave. 527-3387. 

Slater/Marinoff & Co., “All Animal Art” Forty photographers and artists have donated works to help fund the spay-neuter and food costs of the Milo Foundation’s work in finding new homes for abandoned dogs and cats. Exhibition runs until Aug. 31. Hours are Mon. - Sat. 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sun. 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. 1823 Fourth St. 548-2001. 

Sway Gallery, “Secret Summer” paintings, installations, collages, prints, drawings, and mixed media by Nana Hayashi, Greg Moore, Marc Snegg, Gabrielle Wolodarski. Runs Aug. 12 - Oct. 5 Opening Reception on Tues., Aug. 12, 7-10 p.m. Gallery hours are 11 a.m. - 7 p.m. every day. 2569 Telegraph Ave. 489-9054.

Psychedelic Plant Quest Sends Teens to Hospital

Friday August 08, 2003

Two teenagers in search of a psychedelic high got more than they bargained for Sunday after dining on flowers from a plant growing in People’s Park—three days in the hospital, some of it in drug-induced comas, according to police and UC officials. 

The pair had come to Berkeley to attend a college preparatory program at the university. 

According to UC Berkeley police, the teenagers consumed the flowers when “a local guy” at People’s Park told them the “angel’s trumpet” plant possessed hallucinogenic properties. 

The two 17-year-old boys each downed four of the yellow six- to 24-inch flowers. Another participant, a 16-year-old girl, ate just one and was not hospitalized. 

All three students were participating in Summer Focus at Berkeley, a program run by Education Unlimited, a 10-year-old Berkeley-based company which runs academic camps for about 1,000 students per summer at UC Berkeley, UCLA, UC Davis, the University of San Diego and Stanford University. 

Education Unlimited’s Executive Director Matthew Fraser defended the company’s supervision of the students and commended Summer Focus staff for taking appropriate steps when they discovered one of the boys in a “dazed” and “incoherent” state around 11 p.m. Sunday night after he returned from the park to the program’s on-campus dormitory. 

“Our normal policies were followed and the action our organization took was very prompt,” he said. 

Fraser said the Summer Focus camp director took the student to the hospital, while staff searched for other participants who exhibited similar symptoms. When staff found the second male student, showing signs of “delirium” and “confusion,” Fraser said, they called campus authorities. 

UC Berkeley Police Lieutenant Adan Tejada said two officers responded to an 11:20 p.m. call. Shortly after arriving, they summoned an ambulance, operated by the Berkeley Fire Department. Both were taken to Alta Bates Medical Center. Deputy Fire Chief David Orth said the student was “delusional” and “very combative” on the way to the hospital. 

Fraser said both boys were placed in drug-induced comas, to help them recover, for about 24 hours. Orth said the procedure is common when patients are convulsing. The were released Wednesday morning with no evidence of long-term damage, according to a program official. 

Summer Focus staff insisted that the 16 year-old girl go to the hospital Sunday night, according to Fraser, but doctors said she did not need to be hospitalized. 

UC Berkeley police confirmed that at least one of the three teenagers was from out-of-state. Fraser said the parents of the two boys came from “out-of-town” to see to their children’s medical care. He would not comment on the parents’ reaction to the incident. 

Fraser said he didn’t think the incident would do long-term damage to Education Unlimited’s reputation, arguing that teenagers are going to take risks and cannot always be protected. 

“People are going to do things—kids get in cars and get in accidents,” he said. 

UC Berkeley, which owns People’s Park—an icon of the political protest and counterculture of the 1960s—removed the troublesome bush from the northwest corner of the park Wednesday morning, said university spokesperson Marie Felde, replacing it with a non-toxic trumpet vine plant bearing smaller, yellow-white flowers. 

Felde said the university owns “several hundred” acres of land and does the best it can to make sure all its landscaping is safe. 

“We take every effort we possibly can to make sure there’s nothing dangerous out there and as soon as we find something, we remove it,” she said. 

A commonplace feature in East Bay landscaping, angel’s trumpet—also known as Brugmansia—has played a significant role in many cultures. The flowers, roots, and seeds of the plant have been used by Native Americans and in India for religious ceremonies and by thrill-seekers hoping for psychedelic highs. 

Dr. Kent Olson, medical director of the San Francisco division of the California Poison Control System, which covers counties from Marin in the north to Santa Barbara in the south, said his agency gets about 20 reports a year of people using angel’s trumpet and related plants as hallucinogens, most from Sonoma and Santa Cruz counties, with an occasional call from Berkeley. 

Olson said symptoms can include a rapid heartbeat, high body temperatures, combativeness, coma, and death. 

One of the more painful symptoms, he said, is an inability to urinate. “People feel like they’re going to explode,” he said. 

Long time People’s Park activist Lisa Stephens said she was concerned about the students’ health, but objected to the university’s decision to pull out the angel’s trumpet, which she says was planted by a community gardener about 13 years ago. 

“There’s all kinds of things that are poisonous in public gardens and all over Berkeley,” she said, arguing that the university should have erected a sign next to the plant warning of its dangers rather than replace it altogether.

Filling in the Details of Berkeley’s Infill Planning Award

Friday August 08, 2003

As noted recently in the Planet, the Berkeley Planning Department has received an infill development award from the American Planning Association (APA). How can this be? you ask. After all, Berkeley has recently been engulfed in a storm of land use controversy, a stack of lawsuits and appeals, and new Big Ugly Buildings strikingly similar to those that initiated the Neighborhood Preservation Ordinance in 1973. Even the State wants Berkeley to straighten out its disrupted planning process! So just for fun, let’s examine the application’s own words—courtesy of the planning staff—and how they relate to reality. 


Application: “Beginning with its visionary 1977 Master Plan, Berkeley continues to demonstrate this commitment [to sustainability] through adoption of seven Area Plans and a new General Plan.” 

Reality: The Planning Department routinely runs roughshod over both the General Plan and our Area Plans, all of which attempt a delicate balance of our cultural, institutional, business, and residential components. Yet one of the award recipients, former Planning Director Carol Barrett, alienated Berkeley residents by advocating a “market-driven” cityscape in Berkeley (apparently the oxymoronic “market planning” idea), and then by attempting to stall the Southside Plan. Meanwhile, City legal and planning staff and certain Berkeley developers are openly delighted that a court has recently ruled that charter cities like Berkeley are not legally required to obey their general plans.  


Application: “With broad community support for these new [sustainable] policies, the implementation program could then disengage from ‘business as usual’ and engage in creative problem solving consistent with sustainability.” 

Reality: This sentence explains the Planning Department’s real approach to Berkeley’s carefully crafted plans: that is, to “disengage” from the plans and engage in highly “creative” interpretations designed to impose unnecessary and damaging forms of “smart growth” on Berkeley. 


Application: “There has always been generous public dialogue and input from citizens in developing plans and ordinances, and in response to development proposals. Developers have worked with neighbors and staff to design projects that are appropriate for their location[s].” 

Reality: Citizen input into long-range planning is excellent—which is why citizens are so astonished when their plans are entirely ignored by the current Planning Division. Developers sometimes work successfully with neighbors to create good and popular developments, but a long list of appeals, lawsuits, and despised large developments indicates a major problem. Staff routinely stonewalls, obfuscates, refuses to respond, and ignores neighborhood concerns. In contradiction to our own ordinances, staff makes no genuine attempt to facilitate cooperation between applicants and neighbors. Instead, propelled by their simplistic “smart growth” philosophy, staff encourages developers to build the largest possible projects over neighborhood objections. If a project is not big enough to suit their idea of “smart growth,” the staff also makes things hard for the developer, driving those who want to build modest, neighborhood-friendly projects out of Berkeley. Some developers have even had to band together with neighbors to resist the Planning Department’s lust for overbuilding. 


Application: “The City has successfully developed these plans and projects with a high degree of citizen involvement and engagement by appointed and elected officials, an enlightened development community, financial tools that help facilitate affordable housing, and a performance-based zoning ordinance. All of these ingredients provide a successful recipe for high-density, mixed-use infill projects…” 

Reality: Wow! This is a mouthful! “Citizen involvement” means stunned citizens trying to defend themselves against atrocious developments, followed by appeals and lawsuits. “Engagement by appointed and elected officials” is impossible on developments, precluded by Berkeley’s unique interpretation of “ex parte” communication, which means that these officials can have no meaningful dialogue about current projects. The “enlightened development community” must refer to the planning staff themselves, unless it refers to a public quickly being “enlightened” of its parking, open space, greenery, views, landmarks, and quality of life. The “financial tools that help facilitate affordable housing” means that Berkeley refrains from checking developers’ claims of financial hardship to justify zoning concessions, and that the City finances affordable housing through state and federal programs, and then exercises poor oversight over the spending of this “free” money. The “performance-based zoning ordinance” means that instead of following any definitive rules, staff must merely convince five decision-makers, who are completely dependent on staff advice because they are too busy to read very much and are prohibited from talking with their constituents, that a development will not be “unreasonably detrimental”—whatever that means. Our flexible, discretionary zoning code, originally written to foster reasonable development, has been subverted by lack of discretion. 


Application: “The City of Berkeley may be one of the only cities on track to meet ABAG’s housing projections, including affordable units.…The City does not anticipate any problem reaching the goal of 1269 housing units by 2006.” 

Reality: But this acknowledgement does not keep the staff from simultaneously claiming that projects cannot legally be denied because Berkeley is behind in its affordable housing goals. The Planning Department and City Attorney regularly browbeat the public, the Zoning Adjustments Board (ZAB), and City Council with the “we’re behind on housing” justification for terrible projects.  


Application: “The City allows deep parking reductions for projects located in the Downtown core and along major transit corridors. Most projects have been built with less than one parking space per dwelling unit. Some have been approved with no parking for the residential component.”  

Reality: This boast is not limited to the residential component, the Downtown, or transit corridors. But there is nothing in the Zoning Ordinance that allows or encourages an applicant to build without adequate parking; in fact, parking protection is written into the code. Reductions in parking are discretionary, based on a finding of “no detriment.” Unfortunately, the “City”—meaning staff and a majority of the ZAB and/or the City Council—finds that inadequate parking is good for Berkeleyans in almost all non-single-family areas.  

The Planning Department is well on its way to building a high-density downtown Berkeley that has almost no parking. Car-free residential buildings have their place, but as currently executed they exacerbate parking problems and may create cumulative demographic problems. The lack of off-street public parking could rapidly become a problem for our business community, especially since the mayor’s task force is looking to further lower some commercial parking requirements to make development easier, without any examination of the consequences.  


Application: “Berkeley allows the open space requirement for infill buildings to be designed and located on rooftops. … The spaces are well used by building occupants.” 

Reality: Although it sounds great, rooftop open space is no substitute for ground-level open space that is an amenity for the public as well as the building residents—even in commercial areas. Rooftops are often windy, shadeless, and inconvenient to access, and they require unsightly elevator towers. Developers themselves admit that tenants do not use them, and evidence supports this. 


Application: “Berkeley allows a one or two floor bonus for projects that incorporate certain square footage of cultural space on their ground floors.” 

Reality: This incentive applies only to Downtown, and we all hope it will be constructive. But so far, the only time it’s been tried, developer shenanigans drove the intended cultural facility out of business and the space now sits empty. But oddly, the two extra floors did not also disappear.  


Application: “To provide increased development potential and greater design flexibility, the City actively pursues the provisions of the State Density Bonus law that allows for modifications in development standards to increase the number of dwelling units [in projects with affordable housing].” And later, “The City uses the density bonus law as a tool to move project massing around to be responsive to neighborhood needs and impacts.” 

Reality: Yes, the planning staff loves the State Density Bonus law, even though in public they pretend to be its helpless victim. Berkeley has had its own generous affordable housing provision since 1973, and local developers and the City were able to work out the financing on these projects without massive zoning give-aways. But when the state law was passed recently, these same developers were suddenly unable to finance their projects without trampling all over Berkeley’s zoning code. And the density bonus as a neighborhood-friendly “tool”?—downright Kafkaesque!  


Application: “Berkeley has now used the State’s infill exemption [from environmental review] on three mixed-use projects that included a total of approximately 40 units each.”  

Reality: Another revealing brag. The City avoids environmental review by any available mechanism, flying in the face of the sincere environmentalism of both Berkeleyans and real smart growth. What is so smart about building project after project, adding ever more to our urban environmental overload, without any assessment of their individual and cumulative environmental impacts?  


So what are Berkeleyans to make of this award, based on such a false picture of reality? Is the APA just a mutual admiration society? Are these awards intended merely to enhance résumés? As of this writing, we do not have the APA jury’s comments or the basis on which they made their judgments. But let’s not mistake this for an award for successful infill development, because some of the twelve projects submitted for the award may never be built, and there has been no study of the physical consequences of any of these projects, or user or public satisfaction. But, with a complete change of attitude and behavior, the planning staff may someday receive a meaningful reward: the appreciation of the citizens of Berkeley for effectively implementing Berkeley’s laws, plans, and progressive land use vision. This will lead to plenty of desirable infill. 


Sharon Hudson lives in an area with five times Berkeley’s average density, does not own real estate, did not own a car until she was 32, has never regularly commuted to a job by car, and donates most of her charitable dollars to the Nature Conservancy.

LBNL Agrees to Spare Creek

By PAUL KILDUFF Special to the Planet
Friday August 08, 2003

Bowing in part to community pressure, the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab (LBNL) announced this week that it won’t bury part of a creek on its property under a parking lot. 

The dirt in question comes from the excavation to level a site for their new office building in Strawberry Canyon. Originally LBNL planned to dump the soil into a nearby creek to create a parking lot. Now lab officials say the 26,000 cubic yards of dirt—about 2000 truckloads—will be taken offsite. 

“Basically the reason we changed the plan was in large part because of the community input that we received,” said LBNL spokesman Ron Kolb. He said that opponents at a recent public scoping meeting to discuss the plan voiced “concerns about the siting of the parking lot and what they described as a pristine canyon.” 

LBNL Facilities Director George Reyes said the Lab “is proud to be a part of Berkeley and is very appreciative of the open dialogue with city leaders, as well as of input from all members of our community.” 

Neighborhood activists who spoke out against the plan said they were elated, but not exactly surprised. 

“People all over Berkeley were very much against this,” said Daniella Thompson, who lives just down the hill from the lab on LeConte Street in Blackberry Canyon. She wrote protest letters to LBNL, the San Francisco Water Quality Control Board and other organizations that would have had to sign off on the parking lot plan. 

“I think there was a public outcry,” said Thompson, a member of the Native Plant society. “I can’t think of a single person who agreed to this with applause. It was universally decried as a very bad idea. And fortunately they listened, which often they don’t do. But in this case they did the right thing,”  

While Kolb admits that NBNL’s decision was greatly influenced by community opposition, there were other factors. “If we did not have a viable alternative, a non-intrusive alternative, we probably wouldn’t have changed our minds,” said Kolb. 

Kolb added that another reason NBNL shelved the plan was that the parking lot wasn’t urgently needed. 

“Since we don’t need it, we looked to other ways that we might be able to accommodate this huge amount of dirt without intruding on the environment,” said Kolb.  

Another factor in the decision was objections to the plan from LBNL workers who said they enjoyed looking at the creek from their lunchroom. About 300 feet of the Cafeteria Creek would have been buried under the parking lot plan. 

“There was at least one employee and probably several others who were concerned about it not only from its aesthetic point of view, but also just in terms of their concern that the woodland hillside setting would be disrupted,” said Kolb. “And so that input weighed on management’s mind.” 

There is no plan for the dirt as of yet, but Kolb said it could be headed for other construction projects in and around Berkeley or to a landfill. 

The new office plan will relocate 240 employees in a nearby building. The number of parking spaces needed is expected to remain the same. The proposed lot would have been 39,000 square feet with 120 spaces.  

While Thompson was happy that the parking lot will not be built, she’d like to see NBNL also scuttle their plans for the six-story, 65,000 square foot office known as Building 49. 

“They’re still going ahead with the building,” she said. “It would be nice if they didn’t. If would be nice if they didn’t dig into that hillside and excavate all of that soil. It would be nice if they cleaned up some of their polluted sites and put the building there. But, under the circumstances I’m just delighted that the creek is going to be left alone.” 

LBNL’s new plans are outlined in a notice of preparation (NOP) that includes a description of the project as well as details on the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) that will have to be filed before construction can begin. A copy of the NOP can be downloaded from the laboratory web site at http://www.lbl.gov/Community/env-rev-docs.html.  

A draft of the EIR will be available for comment by mid-September with public meetings on it to follow in October. LBNL expects to submit the final EIR to UC Regents for approval this winter. Construction could begin as early as next spring and completed by fall 2005. 



BPD Brass Ceiling Busted

Friday August 08, 2003

Stephanie Fleming made history for the second time in her 25-year career with the Berkeley Police Department (BPD) on Thursday when she became the agency’s first female captain. 

In a swearing in ceremony at City Hall, Fleming took command of the department’s field support division, which encompasses community service, community policing, special enforcement, and traffic and parking enforcement. Fleming, who six years earlier had become BPD’s first African-American female lieutenant, took the captain’s oath from Police Chief Roy Meisner in front of a room packed with family, colleagues, and friends. 

A Berkeley native who graduated from Oakland Technical High School and UC Berkeley, Fleming acknowledged the significance of her achievement and said she was proud to pave the way for women coming up the ranks. 

“When I came into this department there were very few women in law enforcement,” she said. “I stand on the shoulders of those who came before me, and the 30 other women in this police force are welcome to stand on my shoulders.” 

Fleming, long one of the BPD’s most accomplished officers, never hid her ambition to move up in the organization. She has garnered awards and commendations including the PAL Officer of the Year award in 1993 and the Community Policing Award in 1999, as well as recognition from state Senator Don Perata and special awards from many community groups and churches. In 1999, when St. Mary’s College High School cut its drivers’ education program because of budgetary cuts, Fleming volunteered to teach the class for free, earning a Community Service Award from the city. 

"I do what I do because I wholeheartedly enjoy it," she said. "I like to see the results of what I put in, and that's why I work hard. It gives me energy."  

City residents and colleagues praised Fleming’s commitment to the department, dedication to communication, and strong leadership skills as the qualities which have made her stand out over the years. Meisner said Fleming’s is constantly overflowing with commendations from Berkeley citizens. 

“This selection is no coincidence,” said City Manager Weldon Rucker at the swearing-in ceremony. “Everyone who has ever worked around and in the department knew Captain Fleming’s quality. It was an easy choice.” 

Although the decision to promote Fleming was an easy one for Meisner, Fleming herself said the road to Thursday’s ceremony was rocky at times. When she joined the department in 1978 and found an overwhelmingly male-dominated group, some of whom had trepidation about a woman in the ranks. 

“Whenever I made a promotion there used to be some cloud over it,” she said. “Some of the old guard weren’t quite sure what to think. But amazingly, many of those old guys have come around—they have a whole new mindset.” 

Fleming said she looked forward to bringing a new perspective to administrative meetings, which include the chief, deputy chief, and division captains. As the highest-ranking woman ever in the city’s police force, Fleming broke the reputation of such meetings being a “boys-only” club. 

At Thursday’s swearing-in, Patrol Captain Doug Hambleton commented on the transition it will take to bring a woman into the traditionally male group. 

“We used to call upper-division meetings ‘the big boy staff,’” Hambleton said. “I guess we can’t do that anymore.” 

Fleming herself seemed a bit overwhelmed by the day’s special events. 

“I have these moments where I’m absolutely ecstatic,” she said. “Then the tears start coming. To be a product of this community and then make history in this community is a very powerful thing.” 

One highlight of Thursday’s ceremony came when her son Stephen, a rookie BPD officer, pinned on her new badge while her cousins, nieces and nephews, parents, siblings and children rose in applause. 

“It makes it all the more special to have everyone I love standing around me,” she said. “It’s an honor to be in this position.” 




Immigration Agents Arrest LBNL Staffers

Friday August 08, 2003

The U.S. government’s new Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced the arrests of three foreign nationals working at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Wednesday. 

The three face deportation proceedings for criminal convictions unearthed during a post-Sept. 11 sweep of U.S. government laboratories. Their names were not released. 

None of the employees’ crimes—domestic violence, vehicle theft and cocaine possession—were committed on lab property, according to lab spokesman Ron Kolb, although all took place during the workers’ time of employment at the lab. 

Kolb also emphasized that no lab employees have access to sensitive intelligence or defense information. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LNBL), unlike Los Alamos National Laboratory and several other U.S. government labs, is focused on the life sciences, not defense technologies. 

Still, ICE spokesperson Sharon Rummery said the agency was concerned that the employees’ criminal records made them vulnerable to blackmail by people who could threaten to turn them in to immigration authorities. 

“It’s a sensitive facility,” she said. “It’s a place where a person who might be compromised could do some harm.” 

Rummery said she couldn’t speculate on what type of harm might be done at LNBL, which is operated by the University of California.  

Kolb said the three arrested employees were a computer network troubleshooter from Canada who had worked for the lab for 13 years, a biology lab technician from the Philippines who had worked at the lab six years and a Mexican maintenance worker who had been employed for 17 months. 

Kolb said he did not have information on the maintenance worker’s job performance, but said the other two employees had solid records at the lab. 

“There was nothing in their arrests that was related to work performance,” he said. 

ICE began its investigation of the lab last summer, combing through the records of about 4,000 employees. Kolb said the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, now subsumed within ICE, did a similar review in 1990. 

ICE was created March 1, 2003 as part of the federal government’s reorganization of its homeland security operation. The agency includes the old Immigration and Naturalization Service, the U.S. Customs Service and the Federal Protective Service.

Biker Spins Wheels For Trails

Friday August 08, 2003

Jim Muellner believes America needs more bicycle trails to link its major cities, and he’s showing the rest of us just how much. Two converts to his cause, Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates and City Council member Kriss Worthington, will join him Friday as he bikes from Berkeley to Oakland. 

After setting off from Washington on May 2 on a cycle of his own devising, the 67-year-old inventor has been pedaling his way through 25 cities as part of the National Bicycle Greenway (NBG) Mayors’ Ride, which is scheduled to end in Santa Cruz Aug. 17. 

Friday’s ride will take the Great Lakes, Minn., resident and the two Berkeley officials from City Hall to downtown Oakland. 

“Berkeley is a great city for bike advocacy,” said Muellner, noting that Worthington has been “car-free” since 1983. “It’s an honor to get to be here representing NBG.” 

A legendary figure in the biking world, Muellner said Wednesday that his ride has been “an opportunity to educate people about the project and get them involved in helping make it a reality.” “The chance to bike from city to city on specially-designated bicycle paths is great for bike advocates.” 

Arrived in Berkeley after the 38-mile ride from Napa on Wednesday, Muellner said he was excited to continue on and ready to participate in the festival. 

“Some of the rides are a lot longer than 38 miles, so this was pretty easy,” said Muellner, who completed the 520 miles from Salt Lake City to Reno in just five days. “It’s a beautiful ride.” 

The founder of Just Two Bikes, a company that makes tricycles for adults, Muellner also invented the Smart Carte system for transporting luggage in airports, but left the firm to devote more time to riding and inventing bicycles. 

Muellner is one of the most beloved NBJ members and relay riders, attracting crowds at every stop. 

At Friday’s City Hall send-off , Muellner will be named an honorary Berkeleyan, and when he arrives in Santa Cruz for the festival that will mark the end of his run, he’ll be inducted into the NBG Hall of Fame as a rider who has made a significant difference in the life of the bikeway.

UC Berkeley to Cut 200 Positions

Friday August 08, 2003

Facing a $25.5 million cut in state funding, UC Berkeley is planning to cut 200 staff positions, officials said Wednesday. 

The reductions will include an unknown number of positions that were left vacant in recent months in anticipation of the state funding cuts. But campus officials said they also expect real people to lose real jobs. 

“The implementation of layoffs is a last resort,” said UC Berkeley’s Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Paul Gray, in a statement. “But the magnitude of the shortfall we face makes these actions necessary.” 

Gray said the university has “worked hard to address budget cuts through consolidation and reorganization” rather than layoffs. But union officials disputed the claim. 

“I think it’s really amazing that they begin the discussion about budget cuts with layoffs,” said Margy Wilkinson, chief steward for the Coalition of University Employees, which represents 18,000 clerical workers at UC’s nine-campus system. “There’s been no attempt to look at alternatives. There’s been no dialogue with the people who work here.” 

Campus spokesperson Marie Felde countered that the decision to keep “a great number” of positions empty in recent months represented a significant attempt to reduce the number of active employees who will face layoffs. 

Those who do get laid off will begin receiving notice “within days,” Felde said. 

UC Berkeley is the first UC campus to formally announce that pink slips are on the way, although job cuts are widely expected throughout the system—which took a $410 million cut in the final budget signed by Gov. Gray Davis Aug. 2. 

“The state’s final budget cuts UC’s funding so deeply that job impacts of one kind or another at all UC locations now appear unavoidable,” said UC spokesperson Paul Schwartz. 

Schwartz said it is too early to know how many jobs will be lost system-wide. 

Faced with the $410 million cut, UC hiked student fees by 30 percent system-wide and is planning to borrow $47.5 million. But the campuses still face cuts in libraries, administration, research and outreach to traditionally low-performing high schools—a chief tool for the recruitment of minority students in California’s post-affirmative action era. 

“The instructional mission is the area with the highest priority—both for the university and for the legislature,” said Felde. 

Felde said the largest number of job cuts will likely happen in the university’s Business and Administrative Services control unit—which includes custodians, tradespeople, clerical staff, payroll staff, campus police, athletics staff and more. 

Wilkinson said the clericals’ union has not yet received formal notice of layoffs, but is bracing for heavy reductions. 

“I can say, from previous experience, that they lay off from the low end,” she said, calling for more cuts in the administrative ranks. 

Wilkinson, who works in UC Berkeley’s library system, said the impacts of layoffs can be long-term. The libraries, she said, are still short-staffed in the wake of the last major round of job cuts in the early-1990s. 

UC Berkeley launched its “Staff and Academic Reduction in Time” (START) program in May, allowing workers to reduce their work hours and take a cut in pay to help offset budget reductions. 

Felde said she had no data on the number of employees who have taken advantage of the program.

Saudi Secrets Are Safe With George W. Bush

By JOE CONASON New York Observer
Friday August 08, 2003

At the nexus of diplomacy and secret intelligence, governments almost never speak forthrightly about their purposes. When ranking officials decide what can be revealed and what must be concealed, political expedience is at least as important as national security. And on the rare occasion when such an official publicly demands the disclosure of embarrassing information, as the Saudi foreign minister did recently, an ulterior motive should be assumed. 

So regardless of any claims to the contrary, it seems prudent to remember that the White House and the House of Saud are likewise best served by keeping all the sensitive files locked away. Both houses would be unwise to risk speaking candidly about each other now—a caution that applies with special emphasis when the residents of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. bear the name of Bush. 

On July 29, Prince Saud el-Faisal paid an extraordinary visit to the Bush White House. For an hour, he and George W. Bush discussed the 28-page section of the joint Congressional report on Sept. 11 that evidently implicates agents of his country’s government in the terrorist attack. The prince’s ostensible reason for coming to see the President—whose family has long maintained close connections with the Saudi royals—was to ask Mr. Bush to declassify those 28 pages because, as he declared at a press conference: “We have nothing to hide, and we do not seek, nor do we need, to be shielded.” 

That glibly ridiculous assertion is contradicted by the repressive habits of his family’s autocratic regime, which has a lot to hide from its own people as well as ours. Besides, the prince knew before he landed in Washington that the President would decline his plea. Foreign ministers don’t meet with any head of state, particularly not the leader of the world’s only superpower, unless they already know what the meeting’s outcome will be. In this instance, the President’s negative answer could have been ascertained via embassy cable within hours, or by telephone within minutes. 

As Senator Charles Schumer suggested, the prince visited the President to improve the kingdom’s image rather than to inform the American public. The Saudis requested the release of the Congressional report’s incriminating pages with absolute confidence in a denial by their old friend George W., who insisted that releasing the report’s unflattering references to Saudi Arabia might somehow undermine the “war on terror.” 

The New York Democrat, like other legislators of both parties seeking to pry loose those 28 pages, discounts that clichéd excuse. Senator Richard Shelby, the Alabama Republican who oversaw the joint Congressional probe, has said that “90 to 95 percent” of the pages being withheld “would not compromise, in my judgment, anything in national security.” 

Why, then, is the Bush administration so determined to prevent the public from learning what Congressional investigators discovered about Saudi connections to Sept. 11? Conventional answers involve the kingdom’s control of the world’s largest oil reserves, its influence over the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, its potential assistance in achieving peace between Israelis and Arabs, and its proclaimed alliance with the United States against Al Qaeda. 

In steeply descending order of persuasiveness, all those stated reasons possess some merit. The problem is that the Bush administration—as well as the President’s family and its associates—is scarcely able to assess the merits with any degree of objectivity. After all, if they reveal damaging information about the Saudis, what might the Saudis reveal about them? 

For more than three decades, Saudi Arabia has sought to influence American politicians, often through investment in American business. While they have occasionally sought out Democrats, they are far more comfortable with Republicans—and in particular, with Bush Republicans. At the moment, for example, the kingdom’s defense attorney in a lawsuit brought by families of Sept. 11 victims happens to be James Baker, that ultimate Bushie whose résumé includes stints as Secretary of State and Treasury. (Mr. Baker’s last big court case was Bush v. Gore.) 

Commercial connections between the Saudis and the Bushes extend from limited-partner investments in George W.’s failed oil ventures more than 20 years ago to the Carlyle Group, a mighty merchant bank that currently employs Mr. Baker, former President George Herbert Walker Bush and a host of lesser family vassals. Saudi money has also figured in several of the most significant political scandals of the postwar era, notably the Iran-contra affair and the Bank of Credit and Commerce International blowup. Whatever the Saudis might say about any of those matters is probably better left unsaid—not only to protect state secrets, but also for the sake of Bush senior, the former CIA director and suspected Iran-contra conspirator. 

The U.S. government knows many unflattering stories about the Saudi rulers. Unfortunately, they know many and perhaps worse about ours. The preference for silence and secrecy is understandably mutual. 


Joe Conason writes a weekly column on politics for The New York Observer. His most recent book is: "The Hunting of the President: The Ten-Year Campaign to Destroy Bill and Hillary Clinton."

Local Environmentalist Targets Ethnic Restaurants

Friday August 08, 2003

Ritu Primlani has a simple message: Environmentalism isn’t just for rich, white people with fancy degrees. 

“You don’t have to have a Ph.D. in environmental science,” said Primlani, a North Oakland environmental activist. “And you don’t need to be Bill Gates to afford it.” 

For the past year-and-a-half, the straight-talking, 30 year-old native of Delhi, India has been putting her philosophy to work. In just 17 months, Primlani, president and executive director of an Oakland-based nonprofit called Thimmakka’s Resources for Environmental Education, has knocked down language and cultural barriers at 44 family-owned ethnic restaurants in Berkeley, Oakland and San Jose and put all of them on the road to environmental responsibility. 

Twenty-three of the restaurants, including 12 in Berkeley, are officially “certified green businesses” and the rest are on their way. 

Primlani, working with a host of non-profits, utilities and other agencies, has installed hundreds of low-energy light bulbs at the restaurants, diverted tons of solid waste to recycling and composting and blocked a deluge of soaps and cooking oils from pouring down street sewer drains and into the ocean.  

In the meantime, the activist, who has won an award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for her work, has saved the restaurant owners a bundle of cash on electricity builds and trash removal. 

“I talk to them about what every businessperson talks about—money,” said Primlani this week over an Ethiopian lunch at Cafe Colucci on Telegraph Avenue. “Saving the environment becomes incidental and not the primary interest at all.” 

According to Primlani’s own projections, the first 30 restaurants she helped to change will save more than $1 million over the course of five years. 

Those restaurants will also redirect 1,710 tons of solid waste (or, as she pointed out, the equivalent of 518 Asian elephants) to recycling and composting and conserve 5.2 million gallons of water—enough to fill a bathtub for every resident of Berkeley, according to Primlani. 

Chintala Reddy, owner of Kamal Palace Indian Cuisine on Allston Way in Berkeley, is a believer. He said he has saved $200 to $300 per month on electricity and about $1,000 total on garbage removal since he went green about a year ago. 

Reddy said the economic incentives and the environmental benefits of what Primlani calls her “Greening Ethnic Restaurants” program convinced him to make the shift. But it was the diligence of Primlani and her cast of experts and volunteers, from city of Berkeley employees to student interns, that made the change happen, he said.  

“They come here more often than I do,” he joked. “They did an excellent job.” 

Reddy, who speaks English and the Indian languages of Hindi and Telugu, said Primlani also made a difference by using volunteers who spoke Punjabi, the Indian language of his wait staff. 

“If someone can explain to them what is the advantage—in their native tongue—it sinks in,” he said. 

Primlani said cultural sensitivity is a key to the success of her program. She makes an effort to greet restaurant owners in their own languages, learn the correct pronunciation of their names and tap volunteers who know the culture and native tongue of the workers. 

“She’s very friendly,” said Senne Belete, owner of Das Cafe on Milvia Street, a small shop that sells bagels and falafel sandwiches. “She’s like family.” 

But some of Primlani’s work, she said, is translating environmental lingo that no restaurateur, regardless of language and culture, seems to understand. 

“If you say ‘stormwater management’ to someone who is fluent in English, they don’t know what the hell you’re talking about,” she said. 

Primlani uses a simpler, more evocative term—“the ocean sewer”—to explain to restaurant owners that they should wash their rugs far from the sewer drains on the street, preventing soaps from pouring into the Bay. 

Jennifer Cogley, eco-business coordinator for the city of Berkeley, said Primlani’s work has been vital in getting a total of 27 Berkeley businesses—from restaurants to auto repair shops—certified by the Bay Area Green Business Program. 

The figure places Berkeley firmly in the lead among cities in the six Bay Area counties that participate in the program. Oakland is second with 17 businesses. 

Cogley said Primlani, who works 80 to 100 hours per week, is a dedicated activist who has proven that environmental progress and economic development can go hand in hand. 

“The debate has always been either-or. Either you can make environmental gains or you can have economic improvement,” Cogley said. “She really collapses that paradigm.” 

Primlani, who emigrated to the United States nine years ago and earned a combined masters degree in geography, urban planning and law at UCLA, said she has targeted restaurants because they gobble up food, electricity, water and resources at prodigious rates and because they are very public, accountable places—drawing thousands of customers per year who can flex their economic muscle to demand environmentally-friendly business practices. 

Primlani also sees restaurants as a powerful way to reach ethnic Americans. 

“Where do they congregate? Where do they gather?,” she asked. “If you’re religious, you go to church. But everyone goes to restaurants.” 

Primlani said she hopes “green business” stickers in restaurant windows and brochures on tables will get immigrants from Thailand, India, Ethiopia and elsewhere, who frequent their favorite local haunts, to talk more about environmentalism. 

“Most of them have environmentally-friendly lifestyles, but they gave them up to embrace the American, disposable lifestyle,” she said. 

In the end, she said, people, no matter what their language or culture, need to protect a planet that nourishes them. 

“We have a saying in my language: ‘You don’t make a hole in the plate you eat on.’” 



San Francisco UC Extension Students Balk at Berkeley

By PAUL KILDUFF Special to the Planet
Friday August 08, 2003

The closing of UC Berkeley’s main Extension campus in San Francisco may mean an influx of students from the school to Berkeley, but that’s not the first choice of UC administrators. 

The school would rather lease another property in San Francisco for the school’s more popular classes or move some of them to the other Extension campus on Market Street. For now, the Berkeley option remains on the backburner, but “I wouldn’t rule it out,” says UC spokesperson Janet Gilmore.  

Whatever is decided, moving 15,000 students and hundreds of faculty from the facility will not be popular—especially with the prospect of having to cross the Bay Bridge to Berkeley for classes. 

“I suppose I would go to Berkeley if somebody died and I had to get there, but I won’t get on that bridge. It scares me,” says retired student Norma Miller, 78, of San Francisco. Miller, a member of the 350 strong Center for Learning in Retirement (CLIR) student association, is not alone in her feelings about having to travel to Berkeley for classes. “I don’t like to go to Berkeley for any reason because it isn’t clean. I’ve seen incidents where I don’t feel safe, and I’m from Cleveland originally,” says 65-year-old Lynne Faust.  

Another factor souring senior students on the potential commute to Berkeley is the cost. 

“It’s expensive to get there. BART is expensive. It’s getting more expensive. The bridge is expensive,” says Faust. “I would rather pay $5 to go to Marin than $2 for the East Bay.” 

At a recent CLIR meeting none of the 25 students in attendance said they would go to Berkeley for classes. CLIR students take courses during the day on the campus in art, theater, literature, foreign language and other subjects. While independent from UC Berkeley Extension, CLIR students have been taking courses at the site for 30 years. Now they’re looking for a new home.  

At night, students are generally younger and take certificate classes in accounting, marketing, interior design, computer programming and graphic arts.  

The sprawling campus, which takes up two city blocks on Laguna Street on the outskirts of downtown San Francisco, is being closed in part because enrollment has declined with the slumping economy. Since all UC Extension campuses must be self-supporting, a drop in enrollment means less money to operate campuses.  

Roughly 90 percent of campus income is generated from student enrollment fees. UC officials blame the dot com bust and other factors for the enrollment decline that’s affected the bottom line. During the fall 2001-2001 school year, UC Extension generated roughly $48 million at its seven Bay Area campuses. For the 2002-2003 school year, income dropped to $35 million. An estimated 15,000 students currently take 717 classes at the Laguna Street campus.  

Because all of UC Berkeley's Extension revenue is combined, there is no breakdown available for the drop in revenue at the Laguna Street campus. It is however the only campus that UC Berkeley Extension owns and as such is an asset. 

Another contributing factor for the closure is the building’s need for seismic repairs and improving access for the disabled—renovation costs that are estimated to be in the millions.  

When the site closes on Dec. 31, UC plans to lease it to an organization that will turn the campus into affordable housing units. Built in the 1920s, it is the original campus of San Francisco State. The site also once housed the French American school. UC Berkeley Extension bought the property in 1958 and has held classes there since.  

Faculty and staff at the campus were told of UC’s plans in a recent email, but the vagueness of the future plans for the school had many scratching their heads. 

“Where are they going to find another facility that’s large enough to hold as many classes as we do at this location?” said a UC employee who asked not to be identified. UC has instructed all 30 staffers and faculty to refer questions about the closure to UC spokespeople. 

The employee also cited the ample parking at the Laguna Street campus as a reason for staying put. “We have a lower lot and an upper parking lot and a lot on the side. We’re looking at a little more than 300 spaces. This is $5 parking. Our downtown center is $15 for parking and it’s only one floor, so there’s no way they’re all going to fit.” 

The staffer doesn’t see most of the students traveling to Berkeley for classes. “Honestly, I think they would rather go to City College or something else in the city that’s easier. This was convenient for them and I think that’s why most of them came here.” 

“The worst part about all of this is we don’t know if we’re going to have jobs,” said the employee. 

Besides the two in San Francisco, UC Berkeley Extension operates campuses in Berkeley, downtown Oakland, Fremont, San Ramon and Redwood City.  



When Worlds Collide, There’s Always a Flick

From Susan Parker
Friday August 08, 2003

Through circumstances slightly beyond my control I found myself in charge of two 13 year olds, one a city kid from San Francisco, the other a child of the East Coast suburbs. I was to be their East Bay chaperone for two days. I needed to do some quick, creative planning. 

After 24 hours together, I wasn’t sure that things were going well. They didn’t have a whole lot in common besides age and grade level. My friend from the city hasn’t been much further north than Vallejo and no further south than Santa Cruz. In contrast, my niece from New Jersey is practically a world traveler. She’s been everywhere and done everything. It was hard to think of activities that would be new to Bethanie, but not too overwhelming for Jernae.  

One is a fan of rap music, the other prefers groups with names like Trapt and Bowling for Soup. One wears tight bell-bottomed blue jeans and blouses that expose her navel. The other mopes around in sweatpants and a T-shirt. One carries a pocketbook with nothing in it. The other has a wallet full of money. All three of us slouched up and down Telegraph Avenue, trying to look cool. Then we slouched around stores like Old Navy and Wet Seal until I thought I’d go crazy.  

It finally dawned on me that perhaps the problem was me. Maybe I needed to step out of the picture and leave the two teens alone. “Do you want to see a movie?” I asked on our second evening together. “I could drop you off at a theater and pick you up afterwards.” They seemed to perk up for the first time in hours.  

I got out the movie guide and read aloud to them what was playing. “How ‘bout Pirates of the Caribbean.” I said. “Don’t you think Johnny Depp is hot?” 

“Been there, done that,” said Jernae. 

“Johnny Depp is definitely not hot,” said Bethanie. 

“Okay,” I said, “what about Finding Nemo or Bend it Like Beckman?” 

“Saw Nemo,” said Jernae. 

“Saw Beckman,” said Bethanie. 

“Hey, look at this. The Hulk, Sinbad, and Spy Kids are all playing at the same place!” I tried not to sound too enthusiastic. Maybe that was the problem. 

Both of them rolled their eyes. At least they were agreeing on something. 

“All right, listen up. Have you seen the whale movie or the horse movie?” 

“What whale movie?” asked Jernae. 

“What horse movie?” asked Bethanie. 

I was making progress. I read the reviews out loud for Seabiscuit and Whale Rider. They showed some interest. 

“No whales,” said Bethanie. “I don’t like fish.” 

“Yeah,” said Jernae. “I like horses better than whales.” 

“Great,” I said almost too loudly. Showing any kind of unbridled emotion might turn them against horse movies, just as it had turned them against poor Johnny Depp.  

I took them to United Artists of Emery Bay and bought them tickets to see Seabiscuit. Then I left them on their own and crossed my fingers that it would all work out. 

“How was the movie?” I asked when I picked them up out front at 9 p.m.  

“It was for old people,” said Bethanie. 

“Definitely,” said Jernae. “We were the youngest people in the place.” 

“By a whole lot,” added Bethanie. 

“I mean, there was nobody under at least 20 there except for us,” said Jernae. 

“And when the credits came on, well you know how you’re suppose to get up and leave, right?” asked Bethanie. “Well, nobody left. Maybe they couldn’t get out of their seats.”  

“It was pathetic,” said Jernae.  

“Nobody but old people stay for the credits,” stated Bethanie. 

“Yeah,” said Jernae. “Nobody.” 

“But how was the movie?” I asked again. 

“It was for old people,” they both said in unison. 

Finally, common ground. As soon as one flies back to New Jersey and the other heads over the Bay Bridge to Hunters Point, I’m going to buy myself a ticket to see Seabiscuit and stay until every last credit rolls by.

Dot Com to Dot Bomb Shift Wreaks Havoc on State, Bay

By HILARY ABRAMSON Pacific News Service
Friday August 08, 2003

I know where you can get a barely used $1,200 Aeron chair for less than $400. Here—where the high-end icon for dot-com rear ends was scattered in minimalist, million-dollar lofts like a flock of black butterflies. 

Of course, that was three years ago, before there was a “before” and “after” in America.  

When anyone in this city who wanted a job could find one.  

When you needed reservations weeks in advance at restaurants that served $500 bottles of wine and $16 foie gras ravioli appetizers with lobster truffle cream to entire staffs under the age of 35.  

When landlords expected to see a trail of people with references and cash lining up for a $4,000/month, large, two-bedroom, two-bath “with view” (without garage). 

Today, we can thank the U.S. Census Bureau for confirming what we knew anecdotally—San Francisco has lost a higher percentage of residents than any U.S. city with a population of 100,000 or more.  

And for the first time in its history, more people are leaving California for other U.S. states than are coming to it from other U.S. states. As one city tabloid wrote, Baghdad by the Bay has “joined weary old factory towns like Gary, Ind., and Hartford, Conn.” 

Blame it on the Dot Bomb—an economy built on hype that collapsed with the high-tech implosion. While the state capital and Central Valley enjoy a rollicking growth spurt, California as a whole has a higher unemployment rate than the national average. A report from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco concludes that California's dismal economy makes up the bulk of the nine-state Western regional problem.  

Everyone you know can name people they know who have been unemployed more than a year. (The Committee on Jobs estimates a three-year loss of 100,000 jobs since the end of the city's technology industry boom.) 

Blame it on the “yuppification” of San Francisco, where high-end businesses forced out mom and pop shops and inflated rents and home prices drove out families. What might be called a garage in Sacramento was a $500,000 “fixer-upper” in San Francisco at the height of the froth. 

In those days, every morning delivered material for fresh rage: the young driver weaving in traffic in a new, silver, BMW convertible at twice the legal speed while talking on her “cell”; the super young in black Prada, Kate Spade bags and Manlo Blanco stilettos; anxious twenty-something everybodies who hired walkers for their dogs, nannies for their children, cleaners for their houses and complained how hard it was to keep it all together. 

Three years ago, when I was facing knee surgery and zero parking nearby due to utility district construction, I asked the next door middle-aged financial consultant if she would park her vintage, burgundy Jaguar in her driveway to free up some street parking. The most I knew about her was that a staff of young, thin people dressed in black entered and exited her front door at all hours. And that, when she moved in, she had asked us to transfer our Solari bells to the other side of the deck because they kept her awake. 

“I paid $1.4 million for this house so that I could park anywhere I want,” she said with a big smile. 

“Then, could I park in your driveway so I don't have to limp for two blocks?” I asked. 

“I paid $1.4 million,” she repeated cheerfully, “so that I could look at my garden without having a car in the middle of it. But thanks for asking, because if you hadn’t, you wouldn’t have known the answer.” 

Dumbfounded, I told her that I was glad I asked, because otherwise I might have thought she was a good person.  

Afterwards, my biggest concern was over karma, because my husband, muttering that he was from New York, stomped out and hung the chimes back on her side. 

Today, some of us—even those of us who have been laid off for the first time in our lives—have had some positive sightings. The princes and princesses of smug have returned home to mooch off mommy and daddy until they can get into grad school and work their way up.  

Nonprofit organizations that had to leave town to find affordable downtown space are negotiating months of free rent in wired offices they could once enjoy only on magazine pages.  

Since the second quarter of 2001, the average Bay Area residential rent has fallen more than 18 percent. And the hottest new restaurant is “Home,” where you can get a heaping plate of tasty comfort food for as little as $10. 

These days, the woman next door and I exchange civilized nods. Her assistants have disappeared into the fog. Commuters barely remember gridlock.  

But sunrise lines of latte lovers, once united at Starbucks in exhilaration, now stand quiet and tense, living moment to moment in free fall. 


PNS contributing editor Hilary Abramson (hilary@pacificnews.org) is a veteran California journalist and former staff writer for the Sacramento Bee.

The High-Speed Chase That Wasn’t; Oakland Teacher Meets OPD Reality

Friday August 08, 2003

It would seem that Oakland police have begun to develop the uncanny ability to see a driver violate a traffic law, follow as the driver speeds away, either observe the ensuing accident from a distance or miss the accident altogether, and arrive just in time to either capture the suspect or secure the offending vehicle.  

The important OPD contention to be noted here is that while Oakland police are actively working to keep our streets free of reckless drivers, the police are not responsible for any intervening automobile crashes.  

At least, that’s what you will believe if you take Oakland Police at their word.  

This was the police department’s contention in the deaths of Oakland residents U’Kendra Johnson a year and a half ago and Breeona Mobley last spring, both in deep East Oakland. Now it’s come up again, in the recent North Oakland injury accident of Oakland schoolteacher Judi Hirsch.  

Hirsch says she was waiting to make the turn from Lawton onto 51st Street—a residential area two blocks from Emerson Elementary—on a weekday morning in early June when a late model Buick sped up 51st, tried to make the turn at Lawton, lost control, and slammed into Hirsch’s car.  

Hirsch says she closed her eyes just before the crash and when she opened them again, the Buick was gone, her car was totaled from two direct hits to its front and rear sides, and she felt lucky to have escaped “with only a broken rib and a lot of fear.”  

Hirsch remembered one other significant detail of her accident. Just before she closed her eyes, she saw a police car following the racing, out-of-control Buick, “so close, all I could see was the string of lights on top of the police car.”  

The emergency lights weren’t activated and she heard no warning siren, she says, or else “I might have pulled to the side, thus saving myself and my car.”  

And what disturbed Hirsch as much as the accident was that the police officer left the scene as quickly as the other driver, not stopping to check on her to see the extent of her injuries, not even calling an ambulance.  

So as soon as she began feeling better, Hirsch started making inquiries with the Oakland Police Department.  

She found out that the Buick had been carjacked in the parking lot of the Pleasant Valley Drive Safeway only moments before the accident and that the carjacker abandoned the Buick shortly after the accident, without being apprehended.  

Hirsch also learned that, contrary to what she had observed, police are contending that there was no police chase immediately preceding the accident.  

In mid-June, Hirsch wrote OPD Chief Richard Word, describing the incident and asking why an OPD officer was conducting a high-speed chase in a residential area, without warning lights or sirens, and why he didn’t stop to check on her condition after the accident.  

Hirsch says she never heard back directly from Word, but instead got a call back from a representative of Word, who insisted that there had been no police chase at the time of the accident.  

She also got more details from an email written by Deputy Police Chief Pete Dunbar, who replied to Councilmember Nancy Nadel’s inquiries about the accident. Dunbar wrote that Officer R. Williams “noticed the suspect vehicle at a high rate of speed in the area of 49th Street and Broadway. After following the vehicle [Williams] noticed that the driver failed to stop at a stop sign on 45th Street.”  

Dunbar says that Williams activated his emergency equipment and stopped the vehicle, but then “the suspect vehicle fled,” and Williams called in to headquarters that he was “not in pursuit.” (The official OPD Hirsch accident report tells a slightly different story, stating that “Officer Williams never activated his emergency lights or sirens.”)  

“Officer Williams informed me that at the point the suspect vehicle fled, he was only aware of the traffic violation and would not engage in a vehicle pursuit for traffic only,” Dunbar continued in his email to Nadel.  

Williams “continued to search the area” and finally located the abandoned vehicle on 41st Street. It wasn’t until Williams found the abandoned vehicle, Dunbar wrote, that Williams was informed of the carjacking.  

Significantly, there is nothing in either Dunbar’s email or the OPD accident report about where Officer Williams was when Hirsch’s car was hit, and the exact sequence of events between the carjacking and the crash.  

A frustrated Hirsch says she is going to continue her inquiries about the “phantom” police car following the vehicle that struck her, including bringing the matter to Oakland City Council. Convinced that a high-speed police chase led to her accident, she finds herself both furious and frightened.  

“There were children on the street when the accident happened” she says.  

“And I shouldn’t be afraid to get back in my car and drive.”  

A Colorful Passion for Unique African American Quilts

By SUSAN PARKER Special to the Planet
Friday August 08, 2003

My neighbor, Eli Leon, is an amazing man. A sixty-eight year old New York City transplant, Leon arrived in North Oakland over forty-three years ago, by way of the Bronx, Black Mountain and Reed colleges, the University of Chicago and the East Village. 

Rather than finishing his experimental psych dissertation, he escaped to the Bay Area where he got a job at an insurance company. The insurance company sent him to computer programming school and he wound up in a big room full of boxes, machines and punch cards. That didn’t last very long. Next he became a psychedelic poster artist (one of his creations was in the 1999-2000 Far Out exhibit at SFMOMA) and then he morphed into a counselor (Gestalt Therapy). From there it was an easy, if not logical transition to his next transformation. Leon started collecting quilts. He haunted flea markets and yard sales around the East Bay and beyond, looking for what he calls “standard traditional” pieces. 

But a funny thing happened. He was drawn to quilts that weren’t quite standard or traditional. The squares and triangles within the quilts he liked didn’t always match, the patterns didn’t exactly align, the repetitions didn’t necessarily repeat themselves in a logical way, the materials used weren’t always made of 100 percent brushed cotton. Sometimes they were created from terry cloth, denim, corduroy, velvet and stretchy polyester, fabrics that glittered and shined and felt funny to the touch. 

The quilts he liked were not always square. They didn’t necessarily fit on a king size mattress. Some were tiny, the size of a doll bed, others were huge, as if the quilter had lost control over her materials. It wasn’t until he had stashed away many of these eccentric spreads that Leon finally figured out what was going on. He was immensely, overwhelmingly attracted to quilts made by African American women, blankets that were made with the scraps of fabric that were on hand, to be used on the beds, sofas and chairs of their homes. Leon had, without even knowing it, become an African American quilt groupie. And not just any groupie. He now owns more African American-made quilts than almost anyone on earth, and he has become a knowledgeable, respected expert on this eclectic, idiosyncratic art form. 

I first heard about Leon years ago, through my feisty neighbor Mrs. Gerstine Scott. Gerstine, a quilter, had told me about the man up the street who had written a book about quilting called “Who’d a Thought It.” 

“It’s a real good book,” said Mrs. Scott. “You should check it out.” But it wasn’t until just the other day, long after Mrs. Scott’s heart gave way and she went to (and is no doubt presiding over) the big quilt show in the sky, that I finally got a chance to meet the gentleman Mrs. Scott referred to as “Eli, the quilt man.” 

Every couple of months Leon documents his acquisitions by hanging them outside his front window and taking photographs of them from the street. He invites quilters and fans to watch as he works. People, mostly women, come from all over the Bay Area to sit in the middle of the road and observe Leon as he unveils his trophies. I chatted with three women from Muir Beach, one of whom was multi-tasking. As she viewed the changing display she worked on her own quilt, a beautiful, softly muted cotton extravaganza. “What’s the pattern?” I asked her. “It’s a cross between a Courthouse Steps and a Log Cabin,” she answered. She then drew two complicated diagrams on a piece of paper for me to see. There were lots of squares, numbers, arrows and shaded areas. “But it’s not really either of these,” she said. “It’s something else altogether.” 

And that just about describes the more than twenty quilts Leon put on display that afternoon. There were necktie quilts and patchwork quilts, appliquéd numbers and samplers. The majority of them were pieced together by Richmond, California resident Rosie Lee Tompkins, and, as is often the case with African American-made quilts, contracted to another person to finish. 

Expert quilter Irene Bankhead completes Rosie’s work on her dining room table using piles of dinner plates to hold the three pieces—top, batting and backing—together. Irene, who stopped by to drop off one of Rosie’s newest pieces and to display one of her own string quilts, says that setting up a quilting frame is too much trouble and that it takes up too much space in her house. She prefers her “dinner plate” method. 

Originally from rural eastern Arkansas, Rosie’s quilts have been collected by Leon for many years. “Right now she’s in a very productive mood,” said Leon of the press-shy, reclusive Ms. Tompkins. “She’s making lots of little pieces that she hangs on the walls of her home. She says she never really learned how to make quilts,” he added. “She god’s instrument.” Indeed, many of the quilts had crosses of various sizes and colors imbedded within them, and none of her quilts were “traditional.” Leon calls them improvisational and others have said that these quilts follow the elusive rhythms and patterns of modern jazz. “I disagree,” says Leon. “I think they are more like the Blues or Gospel.” A quick check on the Internet reveals that Rosie doesn’t think about jazz when she’s quilting. She listens to disco. 

Halfway through the show, I shifted my seat and sat next to a 101-year-old woman whose daughter had driven her from Suisan City to take a peak at Leon’s quilts. “Are you a quilter?” I asked. “No,” she said, shaking her head slowly. “I just like to look at ‘em. You like ‘em too, don’t ya?” 

“Yes,” I said. “I sure do.” 

Collected by Eli Leon, Rosie Lee Tompkins’s quilts will be shown at the Anthony Meier Fine Arts gallery beginning Sept. 5.  


3007 Jackson Street, San Francisco; gallery@anthonymeierfinearts.com; 

415-351-1400; Tues – Fri 11am – 5 pm  


Police Blotter

Friday August 08, 2003

Pickpocket arrested on Shattuck Avenue 

Employees of a coffee shop on the 2200 block of Shattuck Avenue chased down a man accused of taking a customer’s wallet from his pocket while inside the cafe, then called Berkeley Police officials and had the man arrested. 

Berkeley resident Ronald Johnson, 48, was arrested Wednesday afternoon about two blocks away from the coffee shop after one employee followed him out of the store while another called police. Berkeley Police Department spokesperson Officer Kevin Schofield said that Johnson was arrested for felony pickpocketing as well as a parole violation and booked into jail that evening. 


Knife-wielding muggers make off with man’s wallet 

Three men, two brandishing knives, accosted a man on San Pablo Avenue near Gilman Street around 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, taking off with the victim’s wallet. 

Schofield said that the suspects escaped with miscellaneous personal papers of the victim’s, as well as an unknown amount of money. The suspects allegedly threatened the man with knives, at which point the victim handed one man his wallet. 

The suspects are described as a 5’10” black male in his 20s wearing a white t-shirt, a 40-something Hispanic male standing about 5’10” and weighing 140 pounds with a black beard and mustache, and a 5’10” black male with black braided hair. 


Napa resident arrested for peeping in Berkeley 

Police arrested an alleged peeper on the 2200 block of Dwight Way just before midnight Tuesday. 

The alleged peeper was seen looking through the bedroom window of a home Monday night, but police were unable to catch him. On Tuesday, the resident of the house called police officials once again, and officers succeeded in capturing Larry Russell, a 39-year-old Napa resident. Russell was charged with two counts of peeping and was booked into jail. 


Burglar absconds with power tools 

A man entered an unlocked garage on the 1500 block of Addison Street and walked away with a set of power tools. Police arrived on the scene but were unable to catch the burglar. 

Schofield said that an officer driving by the home was flagged down at 4:04 p.m. on Monday by a man standing outside his home. The suspect was described as a thin, six-foot tall black male, 30-35 years old wearing a black puff jacket.

Toasters to Typewriters: You Break It, They’ll Fix It

Friday August 08, 2003

For many, products like vacuum cleaners, toasters, and shoes are items to eventually be replaced, not repaired. But in Berkeley, several old-fashioned “fix-it” shops are maintaining a customer base of those who want to keep their time-worn appliances and footwear. 

Berkeley boasts more than 10 fix-it shops, which specialize in everything from vacuums and sewing machines to high heels and radios. The number of old-fashioned repair locations is higher in Berkeley than in most other neighboring cities, a fact which many store owners and customers attribute to the city’s reputation for holding on to the past. 

“People around here don’t let anything go,” said Martha Supans, a Berkeley resident for the past 30 years. “So many people have these machines from 1958 or something, so of course there is a business to repair them. It is a very Berkeley attitude toward things.” 

One business that will repair such 1958 models is Berkeley Typewriter, located at 1823 University Ave. The typewriter shop, which now also oversees the adjacent Clark Business Machines, began in Berkeley during the 1930s and has continued to be the primary service location for Berkeley typewriter owners well into the 21st century. 

Berkeley Typewriters staff said that the sales levels have gone down as personal computers become more and more commonplace, but that the number of repair requests has consistently gone up. 

“Old typewriters start to need basic service and cleaning,” said co-owner Joe Lapira. “We’re one of very few places left, so if you want to get a typewriter fixed we’re a place to go. And not everybody likes computers.” 

Lapira, whose shop also repairs fax machines and other office appliances, said that many people have avoided switching to computers altogether because typewriters remain more convenient for printing forms and envelopes. 

“There will always be some need for typewriters,” Lapira said. “Even most offices still have one or two somewhere because it’s a lot faster to type a form that way.” 

Very near the Berkeley Typewriter location is another of Berkeley’s old-fashioned repair shop holdouts, the Berkeley Vacuum Center, at 2108 Berkeley Way. The vacuum repair shop has been in the city since the mid-1950s and says it can fix more than 20 brands of vacuum cleaners. The downtown store, which is still family-run, is popular for its friendly staff and loaner vacuum program, which allows customers to borrow a vacuum while their own is being repaired. 

“I’ve taken my vacuum in there a couple times,” said Oakland resident Cheryl Jensen. “They’re very nice, and I get to take a vacuum home with me while they work on mine, and then mine always comes back in great condition. I much prefer getting service there than sending the product back to the company and not knowing what’s happening with it.” 

Despite the name, Berkeley Vacuum Center sells and services a wide range of products from sewing machines to carpet cleaners and janitorial supplies. The store also rents out professional cleaning equipment, sharpens knives, and makes keys. 

“It’s a very handyman-type place,” Jensen said. “I feel like stores like this are kind of a dying breed, which is sad.” 

For Berkeley residents who cannot stand to replace anything prematurely, Jay’s Shoe Repair at 1869 Solano Ave. can help people avoid throwing favorite shoes away. The shop, which has been in the Bay Area for 20 years, offers a variety of services to keep shoes looking like new. 

“They fix my husband’s shoes when he needs it, and they can really spiff them up,” said Berkeley resident Patricia Larsen. “They do heels, soles, stitching, polishing—the works.” 

Though repairing a pair of shoes is often not vastly less expensive than buying a new pair, Jay’s customers say that getting favorite footwear fixed is the way to go. 

“I don’t want to lose these shoes until I absolutely have to,” said Berkeley resident Dick Goldberg. “If they can fix them, I’ll still wear them. I wear them every day, so to get rid of them would be a major decision that I’m not ready to make yet.” 

At all of the local fix-it shops, customers say they want to preserve their favorite appliances, tools, or footwear as long as possible, a goal that leads to many cross-overs between the different shops. Most customers at Berkeley Typewriter said they have been to Berkeley Vacuum Center, and several said they would seek repairs for a favorite pair of shoes. 

“It’s not about this particular vacuum or typewriter,” Supans said. “We want to save everything that we’ve had for a while. The people who go one place go to all of them. It’s our history.” 



Police Blotter

Tuesday August 12, 2003

Armed robbery 

A late-night armed robbery on Sunday left a couple missing their wallet and purse. 

At 1:44 a.m. Sunday, a suspect jumped out of a gray or blue early model BMW and approached a couple walking near the corner of Hearst Street and San Pablo Avenue. 

The suspect, described as a black male, 5’10” with a medium build and wearing dark-colored clothing, threatened the couple with a handgun and demanded their wallet and purse, said Officer Kevin Schofield, Berkeley Police Department spokesperson. 

The man then jumped back in the BMW, which was driven by another man. Police officers were called to the scene but were unable to locate the car or anybody matching the suspect description. Nobody was arrested. 


Vehicle Windows Smashed 

Someone broke into four vehicles parked near Haste Street and Dana Street early Saturday morning, according to Berkeley Police. 

At 2:19 a.m., police officers were called to the scene, where they found four cars with smashed windows. It was unclear what was taken from each vehicle. Officer Kevin Schofield, Berkeley Police Department spokesperson, said that the suspect, who was not found, was a male of unknown race wearing a black hooded sweatshirt and carrying two bags. 


Guitar theft 

After a man allegedly broke into a house on Saturday morning, neighbors detained the suspect and had him arrested. 

A resident of the 2600 block of Ellsworth Street called the police department on Saturday morning to report a burglary in progress. The suspect, Scott Swick, 22, allegedly entered the house through an open front door and took an electric guitar. Neighbors kept the man in the front yard of the house until police officers arrived and arrested him. Swick was booked into the city jail. 





Indonesia Frees Jailed Writer

By PAUL KILDUFF Special to the Planet
Friday August 08, 2003

William “Billy” Nessen, a former Berkeley activist turned freelance investigative journalist was freed last Sunday by the Indonesian government after being held for 40 days on immigration charges.  

Nessen, who was filming a documentary on the conflict in the Aceh province of northern Indonesia between a rebel group, known as GAB, fighting with the Indonesia government to free the region. While in Aceh he also wrote stories about the war for the San Francisco Chronicle and England’s Observer newspaper. 

“We’re very happy that the Indonesian government decided to let him go rather than jail him,” said the Chronicle’s Foreign Service Editor Jack Epstein who’s worked with Nessen since 2000. Nessen was being held for visa violations.  

The Indonesian government has barred journalists from reporting from Aceh. He had been in the region with GAB rebels for several weeks before surrendering to the Indonesian Army last month. Although convicted, he was sentenced to time served and cannot enter the country again for a year. He was deported earlier this week.  

Epstein, who along with Chronicle Executive Editor Phil Bronstein, wrote letters on Nessen’s behalf to the Indonesian embassy and the country’s president, says the pressure put on the country by the international journalism community played a key role in his release. 

“I think the journalists community lead the way,” said Epstein who noted that the Bay Guardian as well as the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) also came to Nessen’s aid.  

“We are relieved that Nessen is now free to leave the country,” said CPJ deputy director Joel Simon. “But he was unjustly imprisoned for his work as a journalist. We again call on Indonesian authorities to lift the harsh restrictions on journalists trying to cover military operations in Aceh.” 

CPJ had strongly protested Nessen’s imprisonment, noting that his prosecution is part of a broader effort by the Indonesian government to control reporting on the war in Aceh 

Berkeley journalist John Lavine, a member of the city of Berkeley’s Peace and Justice Committee, was also pleased to hear of Nessen’s release. “The wonderful thing is that he’s received so much publicity and international attention which is rare” for a journalist, said Lavine. 

Epstein says the reason the Indonesian government doesn’t want journalists working in Aceh are that the government has something to hide. 

“They don’t want the world to know what the military’s doing in Aceh,” said Epstein. “Every time they’d mention Billy there was the criticism that what they were doing was sending a message to stifle the press.” 

Nessen was reporting on the Indonesian Army’s forcing Acehians out of their homes into internment camps and the killing of civilians. An estimated 600 people have been killed in the conflict since hostilities resumed in the region in May.  

“It could be an East Timor all over again and they remember what happened then. Journalists reported what the Indonesian military did and the United States stopped military aid because of it,” said Epstein. 

Esptein wouldn’t speculate on whether the publicity from Nessen’s arrest and incarceration would help his career or documentary, but he did say the incident “may have put Aceh on the map a bit. The war with these rebels has been going on since 1976 and it’s called the ‘Forgotten War’ because folks never heard of it.” 

In addition to the efforts made by journalists, three U.S. Senators also intervened on Nessen’s behalf. Richard Lugar (R-Indiana), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, contacted the Indonesian government calling for Nessen’s release as did both Democratic Senators Charles Schumer and Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, Nessen’s home state.  

First active in the successful effort to get the UC. system to divest from South Africa in the mid-1980s, Nessen, 46, went on to work for anti-nuclear weapons campaigns with the Livermore Action Group and for human rights in Central America. In the late 80s he received his masters in journalism from the Columbia School of Journalism. He has worked as a freelancer since graduating on stories such as East Timor’s recent successful battle for independence.