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Richard Brenneman:
          San Luis Creek, a trash-filled afterthought before development, now features attractive vistas and public art. A Berkeley coaltion is studying how San Luis Obispo did it. See story, Page Three.
Richard Brenneman: San Luis Creek, a trash-filled afterthought before development, now features attractive vistas and public art. A Berkeley coaltion is studying how San Luis Obispo did it. See story, Page Three.


Rosa Parks School Faces Huge Turnover

Tuesday May 25, 2004

At least four teachers will be transferred involuntarily from Rosa Parks Elementary School next year—and many more might follow them willingly—two months after more than three-quarters of the faculty signed a letter of no confidence in their principal. 

Instead of reassigning second-year principal Shirley Herrera as the teachers had requested, Superintendent Michele Lawrence chose to keep Herrera and reassign some of the teachers who signed the petition. 

Lawrence refused to comment on “personnel matters,” but said any teacher who wished to transfer would be accommodated. 

Several teachers interviewed Monday said they were considering leaving the school because of low morale and their frustration with Herrera. With 29 credentialled teachers on staff, that could mean a major overhaul for the West Berkeley school, which is home to some of the district’s poorest students and has been plagued by subpar standardized test scores. 

The school is in year three of program improvement under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, which gives the district discretion to replace staff in consultation with the teacher’s union. 

Lawrence, however, insisted lagging test scores had nothing to do with the teacher transfers, and called her action Monday purely “a personnel issue.” 

Barry Fike, President of the Berkeley Federation of Teachers, challenged Lawrence’s motivations. “The evidence demonstrates that this is an attempt by the district administration to implement a phased-in reconstitution of the school unilaterally,” he said.  

Fike said the union was considering filing an unfair labor practice charge with the state Public Employee Relations Board. Under the teacher’s contract, the superintendent can transfer a teacher only for either matters of irreconcilable differences or an absence of classroom learning. 

Assuming Herrera remains at Rosa Parks, Fike also wants a “healing process” at the school to address teacher concerns about the principal’s leadership.  

Lawrence refused to comment on which schools the Rosa Parks teachers would be reassigned to and how the district would re-staff the school.  

She had alerted teachers several weeks ago that Herrera would be retained and some teachers transferred. Throughout Monday, Lawrence met individually with teachers to discuss the transfers.  

Lawrence hired Herrera in 2003 to bring stability to the school after a revolving door of principals passed through in preceding years. On Monday, Lawrence said the principal was “working in the best interest of that school and the children that she serves.” 

But teachers said the past two years had seen problems remain unsolved and morale drop so low they decided to sign the letter asking that Herrera be reassigned. 

“People felt like there wasn’t much hope to work productively with [Herrera] to solve the problems here at the school,” said one teacher, who wished to remain anonymous. 

The administration under Herrera had provided “unreliable leadership, inequitable treatment of students, teachers and staff, inconsistent evaluations and a serious lack of knowledge, respect and/or support for various policies, programs and families,” according to prepared statement from the Concerned Citizens of Rosa Parks School, a group comprising parents staff and teachers. 

The largely Latino school is a tight-knit community. After the district condemned the former school building—Christopher Columbus Elementary School—at the site for being seismically unfit, the local community fought to build a new school they renamed after Rosa Parks. 

Many of the teachers have been at the school since it reopened seven years ago, making the thought of leaving it and its students particularly agonizing. 

“I love this place and the families,” said one teacher who lives near the school. “It would be tough to leave, but right now it would be tough to stay.” 



Liquor License Poses Roadblock for Longs

Tuesday May 25, 2004

For a city whose downtown recently has been characterized more by empty storefronts than thriving shops, Longs Drugs offers Berkeley an enticing opportunity. 

Aside from its standard inventory of pain relievers, packaged food and beauty supplies, the national chain estimates it would provide $100,000 in sales tax revenue in downtown Berkeley where this year, three national chain stores have already pulled out and the most recent city study conducted last year showed a retail vacancy rate hovering around 10 percent—more than double the tally from four years ago. 

But Berkeley doesn’t want everything Longs has to offer. Unlike most chain drug stores, Longs sells beer and wine, and company executives have insisted the proposed store at 2300 Shattuck Ave. at the corner of Bancroft Way—700 feet from Berkeley High School—not be an exception. 

That doesn’t sit well with school and city officials. Last November, at the urging of School Board President John Selawsky, the school board voted 3-2 to oppose the store. Then in February of this year, the Zoning Adjustment Board (ZAB) unanimously voted to deny Longs its beer and wine license. 

Now if the City Council votes to uphold the ZAB’s ruling at tonight’s meeting (Tuesday, May 25), as recommended by City Manager Phil Kamlarz, company executives have told city officials that the deal is off and the storefront at 2300 Shattuck will remain empty as it has been since 2001. 

The company wants a standard product line and that includes beer and wine, said Longs spokesperson Phyllis Proffer. Although, the Longs on Solano Avenue in Albany doesn’t sell any alcoholic beverages, Proffer said larger stores like the planned 15,500-square-foot outlet downtown would need to include all of the company’s inventory. 

To keep beer and wine out of the hands of students, Longs has pledged to install cameras in the alcoholic beverages section and electronically tag the items so they would set off an alarm at the front security gates if anyone tried to shoplift them. 

Under most circumstances, the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) would rule on Longs request for a beer and wine license. But when Longs applied in 2002, ABC couldn’t grant one because the store is in an “over-concentrated area.” According to a memo from ABC, there are already three off-sale licenses in the census where Longs would set up shop, yet the population authorizes only two licenses. To grant a license, the city would have to obtain a finding of Public Convenience or Necessity, a ruling the Zoning Adjustment Board refused to make. 

“They didn’t give us the [financial data] to back up their claims [that they needed to sell beer and wine], and that was the real problem,” said ZAB Commissioner David Blake. 

For Ed Kikumoto, a community organizer for the Oakland-based Alcohol Policy Network, the only figure that matters is the 700 feet the store would sit from the high school. 

Despite Longs’ assurances of technological surveillance, Kikumoto argued that chain stores, in general, pose a bigger risk than convenience stores like the E-Z Stop Deli one block away that sells liquor in addition to beer and wine. 

“With a small store you can hold the owner accountable, but bigger stores have difficulty controlling their clerks,” he said. There have been several documented instances, Kikumoto added, in which clerks in a chain store have sold alcoholic beverages to their friends. 

But according to the results of a recent Berkeley and UC Police sting operation, shopkeepers aren’t putting up a lot of resistance to teenagers thirsty for alcohol. 

A March sweep found that 14 of 26 targeted stores were willing to sell to minors—five times the average violation rate. 

When it comes to Downtown Berkeley, Police Chief Roy Meisner doesn’t want any more shops to monitor. He wrote to ABC and the city’s planing department that beer and wine sales at Longs would be expected to “add crime to the area.” The census tract already is 97 percent above the city average in calls where an officer suspected drugs or alcohol were involved. 

2003 Berkeley High Graduate Joseph Issel, however, doesn’t understand what all the fuss is about. When his friends wanted to drink during school hours they went as far away from campus as possible, he said. “The closer you are to the school, the higher the risk of getting caught,” said Issel. 

His mother, school board director Shirley Issel, one of the two directors to oppose the resolution against Longs, said the campaign was a poor substitute for having a “proactive and preventative policy against drugs and alcohol.” 

“We have a policy where the motivation appears to be against corporations instead of in support of healthy children,” she said. 

If current trends continue in the downtown, there is reason to be leery of chain stores. So far this year, Eddie Bauer and Gateway Computers have closed shop and See’s Candies has announced plans to do the same. 

Bonnie Hughes, who lives on the same block as the proposed Longs and has worked with Kikumoto and School Board President Selawsky to oppose the project, fears that opening a Longs just three blocks from a Walgreens will ultimately result in more stores closings. 

“I don’t think you can have two drug stores in three blocks. Their whole point is to drive out other businesses,” she said. “That’s not a good neighbor and that won’t increase the tax base.” 

Hughes, who would prefer a food market at the site, worries that the E-Z Stop Deli, which she said has been a “stabilizing force” downtown whose owners have proved adept at dealing with high school students, would be Long’s first casualty. 

Ted Burton of the city’s office of economic development argued that Longs, which has promised to carry produce at the downtown store, caters to a different market than Walgreens (which doesn’t serve alcoholic beverages or fresh food) or E-Z Stop (which is a combination deli and liquor store). The project’s architect Jim Novosel insists the store could bring in $100,000 in sales revenue, the same as its North Berkeley store, Burton said the city hasn’t performed its own sales tax analysis. 

If the council upholds the ZAB ruling, finding another tenant at 2300 Shattuck (also known as the Coder building) won’t be easy said Jim Novosel, the project’s architect. The building, owned by the Lakireddy family, needs seismic bracing to house a retail outlet. The revenue from a lease with Longs was to be the catalyst to upgrade the building and renovate the three floors of vacant office space above the retail site.  

“Without Longs, the owners won’t have the economic ability to make improvements,” Novosel said. “The building will remain a dark hole in the fabric of downtown.” 




UC Lecturer’s ‘Intifada’ Comment Brings Death Threats

Tuesday May 25, 2004

A recent speech delivered by a UC Berkeley lecturer during an impromptu anti-war protest in San Francisco has set off a firestorm of criticism around the country, including death threats and calls for his removal from the university. 

The speech, given by Hatem Bazian of UC’s Near Eastern Studies Department, at one point noted the intifada in Palestine and uprising in Iraq and then asked the crowd why the U.S. has not had its own political intifada to protest the lies U.S. government has used to lead this country to war. 

Critics took offense with his use of the word “intifada” and are claiming Bazian could be calling for an armed uprising like the ones in Iraq and Palestine. In Arabic, Intifada comes from a root word which means “shaking off,” but the word has come to be associated with the armed Palestinian struggle against Israel.  

But Bazian, who claims he has always advocated for non-violence, said the statement is being taken out of context. He also said the campaign appears to be a smear tactic to shut him down because he has been an outspoken opponent of the Israeli and American occupations in the Middle East.  

“I was calling for political change considering the lies and half truths that have been thrown at us to take the nation to war,” said Bazian. And in turn, he said, critics spun that to mean he was calling for “global jihad,” charging that his comment was “sedition” and “treachery.” 

Although no official group has come out and criticized the comment, Bazian returned to his office the Monday after the April 10 speech to find he had thousands of critical e-mails waiting for him, many of them openly threatening. Several of the e-mails were sent directly to UC Chancellor Robert M. Berdahl, calling on the chancellor to force Bazian to resign. In one day alone, Bazian received 18,000 e-mails—in another 12,000—in another 7,000. In total Bazian estimates he has received 100,000 e-mails. 

“Hey, you ready to start the an intifada in the U.S.?’ one e-mail reads. “Bring it on bitch, because I am certain I know who the first casualty will be. My brothers in arms in the USMC are kicking the shit out of the ‘insurgents’ in fallujah. It would be wise of you to think of that before starting anything over here. By the way, better look both ways twice next time you cross the street.” 

Another e-mailer writes: “hatem baziam, you are no better than a terrorist! How dare you advocate war against America. You are trash. You are slime. You have violated our Constitution and free speech. You should be immediately deported to swim on the blood of pigs. A proud American Citizen who supports Israel and our troops. The lower case of the first letters of your name is to shows my utter contempt and disgust for you.” 

Over the course of the week, Baziam said people also left nine death threats on his office voice mail. One said the caller was going to get thousands of rounds of magnums to go after Bazian, another told him to be on the lookout because “we” were watching, and another told him directly that he should be shot in the head. 

According to the university public relations department, Chancellor Berdahl has dismissed the calls for Bazians resignation, citing Bazian’s both right to free speech and the fact that he made the comments as an individual, not while representing the university. 

Still, Bazian said the campaign against him is a dangerous “smear tactic” used to silence anyone who challenges the campaigns in Iraq, or in his case, Israel as well. He said he has been criticized for speaking out against Israel in the past. 

“It’s been going on for a long time, anyone who speaks on the Palestinian issue and doesn’t tow the line will have to suffer a systematic smear tactic,” he said. “This is from Edward Said, to Chomsky…to Jesse Jackson to Pat Buchanan.” 

Bazian defends his latest statements on the one hand because they are based on fact. He said since the war broke out, his predictions have come true, in that the war was not based on the same facts the government lead the people to believe. As a result, he said he has the right to call for a challenge to the leadership who lied. 

“When I said we need a political intifada in this country, it was a point of reference for the audience. If you look at the lies cast out to the American public, it’s incredible that we still have the current leadership still lying out of its teeth about how we got to war,” he said. 

Nonetheless, the criticism against his remarks is still flying. He said after the news was initially published on the web, almost every right wing talk show in the country wanted him on their show. He denied most, but eventually agreed to appear on the well-known conservative news show, the “O’Reilly Factor,” hosted by Bill O’Reilly on Fox news.  

Bazian said he went on the show so he could get something on the record about the statement. According to Bazian, O’Reilly, who is known as an aggressive and outspoken conservative, received criticism from other right-wing groups for “going too soft,” even though Bazian said O’Reilly grilled him throughout the interview. 

Bazian said he always has to defend his public statements, but also said he feels he has to make them to because he is part of an “intellectual arena at a time when conformity is being asked for and alternative viewpoints are not being heard. The complete closing of airwaves by the mainstream media puts us in a position where we have to continue what we are doing, it must resonate. It does hurt, but nevertheless, it has to be said, even if it hurts.” 

While critical of those who are trying to get him fired, Bazian said he welcomes debate in general, calling it the “true essence of free speech.”  

“Let them share their point of view, and we will bring our people,” he said. “If we only heard from the white power structure, and dismissed what the African American were saying, we would have never had the Civil Rights Movement.”  

Students who have had class with Bazian have also rallied to his defense, calling him an “asset to the students.” They said Bazian has always presented both sides of the issue in his classes, letting students draw their own conclusions. They also said he has always been open to discussion and has been an active participant in the university community. 

Berkeley This Week Calendar

Tuesday May 25, 2004


Morning Birdwalk Meet at 7 a.m. just past the kiosk at the Bear Creek Rd. entrance of Briones. 525-2233. 

Return of the Over-The-Hills Gang Hikers 55 years and older who are interested in nature study, history, fitness, and fun are invited to join us on a series of monthly excursions exploring our Regional Parks. Today we’ll hike in Morgan Territory, enjoy grand vistas, sandstone mortars, and spring flowers. Meet at 10 a.m. at staging area on Morgan Territory Rd. Registration required 525-2233. 

Birding by Bike on the MLK Shoreline, Arrowhead Marsh. Now that the migrants are gone, see who stayed behind to raise their babies. We’ll look for Clapper Rails at the pier, then ride around the marsh to search for elusive owls. Bring your bike and a helmet. Meet at the last parking lot, by the observation deck at the end of the driveway off Swan Way at 4 p.m. For information or to reserve binoculars call 525-2233. 

Council Workshop on UCB’s Long Range Development Plan at the Planning Commission at 5 p.m. in City Council Chambers. Copies of the plan and the draft Environmental Impact Report are available at http://lrdp.berkeley.edu 

Quit Smoking Class offered by the City of Berkeley for residents and employees on Tuesdays from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the North Berkeley Senior Center. To register, call 981-5330. 

Tikkun Leyl Shavuot from 6:30 p.m. to dawn. Over 40 Rabbis and Scholars, whose backgrounds range from Orthodox to secular, will be teaching to several hundred participants. All ages welcome. Free. Jewish Community Center, 1414 Walnut St. 925-979-1998. 

David Harris and others in an evening of politics and entertainment at 8 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $10. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

Wilderness Survival and Outdoor Safety with Gene Ward, U.S. Air Force global survivial instructor and wilderness guide, at 7 p.m. at REI, 1338 San Pablo Ave. 527-4140. 

Organic Produce at low prices sold at the corner of Sacramento and Oregon Streets from 3 to 7 p.m. 843-1307. 

Tuesday Tilden Walkers We are a few slowpoke seniors who walk between a mile or two each Tuesday, meeting at 9:30 a.m. in the Little Farm parking lot. To join us, call 215-7672.  

Phone Banking to ReDefeat Bush on Tuesdays from 6 to 9 p.m. at Cafe de la Paz, 1600 Shattuck Ave. Bring your cell phones. Please RSVP if you can join us. 233-2144. dan@redefeatbush.com 

Berkeley Camera Club meets at 7:30 p.m., at the Northbrae Community Church, 941 The Alameda. 548-3991. www.berkeleycameraclub.org 

St. John’s Prime Timers meets at 9:30 a.m. at St. John’s Presbyterian Church, 2727 College Ave. 845-6830. 

Goddess Grace Moving Meditation at 10 a.m. at Belladonna, 2436 Sacramento St. Cost is $7-10, bring a yoga mat or blanket. 883-0600. www.belladonna.ws 

East Bay Theology on Tap meets to discuss “The Devil Made Me Do It” with Francis X. Mcaloon at 7 p.m. at 4092 Piedmont Ave. Contact Norah at St. Leo the Great 654-6177. 


Quiz Bowl Finals featuring the Berkeley High Quiz Bowl Team of Ian Rose, Ryan Devine, Tyler Brandt, Sam Nolting, and Mike Orloff, at 7 p.m. at Barnes and Noble Bookstore, 2352 Shattuck Ave. 644-0861. 

Legal Worshop for Cancer Patients covering employment, insurance, estate planning issues with representatives from the Legal Services Progam of the Bar Association of San Francisco, from 5 to 8 p.m. at Women’s Cancer Resource Center, 5741 Telegraph Ave. To register, call 601-4040, ext. 102. 

“News Medicare Card: Fact or Fraud?” with Jason Webster of Kaiser Oakland and other speakers at 1:30 p.m. at North Berkeley Senior Center. Sponsored by Berkeley Gray Panthers. 548-9696. 

Progressive Voice for Peace fundraiser for KPFA and Progressive Voice of California at 7 p.m. at First Congregational Church, 2345 Channing Way. Speakers include Medea Benjamin, Van Jones, Rabbi Michael Lerner, and Solange Echevarria. Donation $10-$25, no one turned away. 420-0772. Progressivevoiceca@hotmail.comMedia 

Mountaineer Arlene Blum will talk about her Mt. Shasta climb and other expeditions at 7:30 p.m. at REI, 1338 San Pablo Ave.  

Cuban Arts and Artists, short films presented by Tina Flores, at 7 p.m. at Fellowship of Humanity, 390 7th St., Oakland. Donations accepted. 393-5685. 

Fun with Acting Class every Wednesday at 11 a.m. at the North Berkeley Senior Center. Free, all are welcome, no experience necessary.  


Community Meeting on the City Budget at 7 p.m. at the West Berkeley Senior Center. Sponsored by the City Managers Office. 981-7000. 

Berkeley High School Film Festival at 7 p.m. at the Florence Schwimley Little Theater, featuring documentary, fiction, and experimental works from students at BHS and throughout the Berkeley Unified School District. Special selections from Washington, King, Longfellow, Thousand Oaks and The Academy. Cost is $3-$5. 

“Educating Our Children to be Active Citizens” with Barbara Penny-James and Rick Ayres. Sponsored by the League of Women Voters. Business meeting at 4:30 p.m. Dinner for $15 at 6:15, followed by speakers at 7 p.m. Northbrae Community Church, 941 The Alameda. 526-5139. 

Berkeley Farmer’s Market with all organic produce at Elephant Pharmacy parking lot, 1607 Shattuck Ave., at Cedar from 3 to 7 p.m. 548-3333. www.ecologycenter.org 

“Bear in Mind: The California Grizzly” a slide show and lecture with Susan Snyder at 7 p.m. at Berkeley Yacht Club, One Seawall Drive. To benefit the Sierra Club East Bay. Admission $20, includes dinner. To make reservations call 526-2494. 

Community Water Issues and Local Solutions, a narrated slide show by Cleo Woelfle-Erskine and Andrea del Moral at 7 p.m. at the Ecology Center, 2530 San Pablo Ave. 548-2220, ext. 233. www.ecologycenter.org 

Meet-Up for Kerry at 7 p.m. at two Berkeley locations: Sweet Basil Thai Restaurant, 1736 Solano Ave. and The Beanery, 2925 College Ave. Come learn about John Kerry, organize our campaign, and join working groups. EastBayKerry.com or Kerry2004.meetup.com 

Tea Dancing and Dance Lessons with Barbara and Jerry August from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Hillside Club, 2286 Cedar St., Costis $10, includes refreshments. 925-376-6345. 

Women’s Consciousness Raising for the New Century meets at 7 p.m. at Boadecia’s 398 Colusa Avenue at Colusa Circle, Kensington. Suggested donation $3-$5. 559-9184. www.bookpride.com 


City Commons Club Noon Luncheon with John M. Letiche, Prof. of Economics on “An Appraisal of Putin’s Works.” Luncheon at 11:45 a.m. for $12.50, speech at 12:30 p.m., at the Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant St. For information and reservations call 526-2925 or 665-9020. 

Literary Friends meets at 1:15 p.m. at the North Berkeley Senior Center to discuss Remembering Mother and Father. 232-1351. 

Folk and Radical Politics Extravaganza, a benefit for Project X, with music by Folk This!, The Molotov Mouths, Samsara, and Sean Corkery at 7 p.m. at AK Press Warehouse, 674A 23rd St., Oakland. Donation $8-$20. 208-1700. www.akpress.org 

Kol Hadash the Bay Area’s only Jewish Humanistic Congregation meets at 7:30 p.m. for Shabbat, the fourth Friday of every month, at the Albany Community Center, 1249 Marin Ave. 428-1492. www.kolhadash.org 

Herbal Tea at Three Learn tea lore, medicinal properties, and taste familiar and exotic varieties. Every Friday from 3 to 4 p.m. at Elephant Pharmacy. 549-9200. www.elephantpharmacy.com 


Chocolate and Chalk Art Festival along the sidewalks of Solano Ave. 527-5358. www.solanoave.org 

Berkeley Fire Station Open House from 1 to 4 p.m. at Station 6, 999 Cedar St. Tour the station, see a safety presentation, and historical display and enjoy hot dogs and cake. Families and children especially welcome. 981-5506. 

Bay Street Emeryville Arts and Music Festival from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. A portion of the proceeds benefit Anna Yates Elementary School Library Project. 655-4002. www.baystreetemeryville.com 

Guided Trails Challenge Hike in Claremont Canyon from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Snakes alive, this canyon is crawling with them! Learn to identify the harmless and poisonous species (oh yes, they’re here) of serpents in the area. For more information and to register call 525-2233. 

Meet My Tarantula From the ferocious to the friendly, meet the arachnid that you will learn to love. At 2 p.m. at Tilden Nature Center. Registration Required 525-2233.  

Permaculture Community Design and Group Processes Integrating permaculture principles we’ll discuss working in groups, group consciousness and process, the art of facilitation, design charettes, networking strategies, community building exercises. Resources will be provided for connecting with and plugging into local permaculture community working groups. From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Ecology Center, 2530 San Pablo Ave. Cost is $10 EC members, $15 general, no one turned away for lack of funds. 548-2220, ext. 233. 

Berkeley Copwatch Know Your Rights Orientation Join us for this hands-on workshop including: what rights we have when we are stopped by the police, what to look for when someone else is stopped, keeping safe while observing police and more. From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 2022 Blake St. This event is free, wheelchair accessible and open to the public. Donations accepted, but no one turned away. 548-0425. 

Vegetarian Cooking Class from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the First Unitarian Church of Oakland, 685 14th St. at Castro. Cost is $30. To register call 238-5004. compassionatecooks@yahoo.com 


Fire: Friend or Foe? From 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Tilden Nature Center, Tilden Park. Tour a fire engine, meet Smokey Bear, and learn how fire is fought, as we explore the dangers and benefits of fire. 525-2233. 

History and Mystery of Redwoods from 12:30 to 2 p.m. at Tilden Nature Center, Tilden Park. Find out more about California’s State Tree – its history, growth and presence in the Bay Area. We’ll also take a walk to the “moon.” 525-2233. 

Bay Street Emeryville Arts and Music Festival from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. A portion of the proceeds benefit Anna Yates Elementary School Library Project. 655-4002. www.baystreetemeryville.com 

Holistic Meditation with Ramon V. Albareda, Jorge N. Ferrer, and Marina T. Romero, from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 830 Bancroft Way. Cost is $50. To register call 650-520-1123. holisticmeditation@hotmail.com 

Tibetan Buddhism A panel discussion on “Mother of Wisdom, Explorations into the Prajnaparamita” at 6 p.m. at the Tibetan Nyingma Institute, 1815 Highland Pl. 843-6812. www.nyingmainstitute.com 


Beginner’s Birdwalk from 8:30 to 10:30am, at Tilden Nature Center. Spring migrants are here and the woods are filled with bright color and song. Join us for a look and listen. Binoculars available for loan. 525-2233. 

Environmental Education Center Open House, in Tilden Park, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. with a variety of activities, homemade ice cream, the great potato chip taste off, and more! 525-2233. 

Holiday Pond Plunge at 2 p.m. at Tilden Nature Center. With dip-nets and magnifiers in hand, we’ll discover the “denizens of the deep” – amphibians, insect larvae and more. For ages 4 and older. 525-2233. 

Pentecost: Sacred Circle Dance at 7 p.m. at St. Cuthbert’s Episcopal Church, 7900 Mountain Blvd., Oakland. StCuddy@aol.com 

Baby Yoga at 11 a.m. and Yoga and Meditation for Children at 2:45 p.m. at Belladonna, 2436 Sacramento St. 883-0600. www.belladonna.ws 

Fitness for 55+ A total body workout including aerobics, stretching and strengthening at 1:15 p.m. every Monday at the South Berkeley Senior Center. 981-5170. 

Berkeley CopWatch organizational meeting at 8 p.m. at 2022 Blake St. Join us to work on current issues around police misconduct. Volunteers needed. For information call 548-0425. 


Volunteer Coaches Needed for Twilight Basketball for the 13-15 year-old division on Saturdays at 5 p.m. beginning June 26. Please call Ginsi Bryant at 981-6678. 


Citizens Budget Review Commission meets Wed., May 26, at 7 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center. 981-7041. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/commissions/budget 

Civic Arts Commission meets Wed., May 26, at 6:30 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center. Mary Ann Merker, 981-7533. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/commissions/civicarts 

Energy Commission meets Wed., May 26, at 6:30 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center. Neal De Snoo, 981-5434. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/commissions/energy 

Mental Health Commission meets Wed., May 26, at 6:30 p.m., at 2640 Martin Luther King, Jr. Way. Harvey Turek, 981-5213. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/commissions/mentalhealth  

Planning Commission meets Wed., May 26, at 7 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center. Ruth Grimes, 981-7481. www. 


Police Review Commission meets Wed., May 26, at 7:30 p.m. at the North Berkeley Senior Center, Barbara Attard, 981-4950. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/commissions/policereview 

Zoning Adjustments Board meets Thurs., May 27 at 7 p.m., in City Council Chambers. Mark Rhoades, 981-7410. www.ci. 

berkeley.ca.us/commissions/zoning ª

Berkeley Studies S.L. Obispo’s Downtown Creek

Tuesday May 25, 2004

Richard Register and other Berkeley proponents of daylighting Strawberry Creek have come to San Luis Obispo so often that they’re “becoming a new type of economic tourism,” quipped San Luis Obispo City Councilmember Kenneth Schwartz. 

Accompanied by Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates, Councilmember Dona Spring, Public Works Director Rene Cardineaux, and Downtown Berkeley Association Executive Director Deborah Bahdia, a contingent of activists set out Thursday on an overnight fact-finding trip to the Central Coast city. 

Organized by Register and Kirsten Miller of Berkeley’s EcoCity Builders, the trip focused on the history and impact of Mission Plaza, the project that revitalized the creek flowing through the heart of San Luis Obispo. 

Register, Miller and other Berkeley activists are calling on the City of Berkeley and University of California to “daylight” a block-long segment of Strawberry Creek along Center Street between Oxford Street and Shattuck Avenue as part of UC’s plans for a high-rise hotel/convention center and museum complex that would extended from Center to University Avenue between Shattuck and Oxford. 

Though the participants were scheduled to leave Oakland by train at 8:50 a.m. Thursday, an accident and other delays had the train running hours late. 

Amtrak lobbyist Tyrone Bland and the line’s two top West Coast executives filled nearly an hour of the delay with explanations of why Union Pacific—which owns the coastal rail lines and controls scheduling—seems intent on sinking passenger service. Vice President Dick Cheney’s name was invoked several times, never in a flattering way. 

When the excursion finally departed—minus three members in wheelchairs, including Spring—it was two hours late and in a Greyhound bus, much to the disappointment of the majority of participants who were eager to ride the rails. 

The next snafu came in an unscheduled stop for lunch in Salinas, when the driver got lost on the way to the bus station and wound up circling the city. 

The bus finally arrived at its destination in late afternoon. The train arrived seven hours later, so Spring and her traveling companions missed the introductory talks by San Luis Obispo Mayor George Romero and former mayor and present Councilmember Schwartz. 

Unlike Strawberry Creek, San Luis Creek didn’t run through an underground culvert through the section that became Mission Plaza. However, the San Luis Obispo project did entail tearing up and closing one block of heavily-traveled Monterey Street—just as Register and his allies propose for the block of Center Street between Oxford Street and Shattuck Avenue. 

The university has already turned thumbs down on funding the millions needed for the creek daylighting, and Mayor Bates has indicated a reluctance to part with the cash at a time when the city is already cutting back on services and salaries. 

Romero, Schwartz, San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce President Dave Garth, and a host of downtown merchants all praised the Mission Plaza project as a major factor in the revitalization on a struggling downtown riddled with vacant storefronts. 

“We have no vacancies downtown now,” Garth said. “Thirty years ago we had a 60 percent vacancy rate, and the creek and plaza area was basically a dump, filled with old tires, dead bodies and whatever anyone wanted to throw into it.” 

Creating the Plaza was a decades’ long effort in the face of initial opposition from elected officials and the business community. 

The original inspiration came in 1949 when a San Luis Obispo Junior College art teacher assigned students to come up with ways of beautifying the downtown. Three of her students collaborated on a proposal that called for closing off Monterey Street in front of the Spanish Colonial mission and creating a public garden. 

The local Soroptomists championed the notion, but failed to muster the necessary City Council support. 

Then three architecture students at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, took on the project, funded by $500 matching grants from America the Beautiful and the City Council—which insisted that they come up with at least one version that didn’t call for street closure. 

When the students started airing the first of their two plans—which called for a closure—an angry mayor gaveled the session to a close and demanded the students return their city funding. “He can’t do that,” called out a former city attorney, who then offered to represent the students for free. 

Then Schwartz decided to run for mayor, making support of the plaza a major plank in his campaign, and a citizens group formed to organize a referendum campaign calling for street closure. The referendum carried by a landslide, and soon afterward the election of Schwartz and another pro-plaza council candidate created a favorable majority. 

The first phase of construction began in 1970, with Alex Madonna—creator of the town’s famed Madonna Inn—as the contractor. A good portion of both the materials and the labor was donated, and Madonna kept costs well below prevailing rates. Even the concrete pavement was chopped into blocks and used to line sensitive areas of the creek bank. 

By the time major construction was completed, the city had been able to meet all costs out of the general fund, without the need for a bond issue or other special assessments. 

The surrounding downtown streets are filled with shops, mostly locally owned. A weekly Thursday night Farmers Market on nearby Higuera Street—originally created as a roadblock to a teenage “cruise night”—draws massive crowds, especially to the numerous stands featuring barbecued ribs, chicken, turkey legs and sausage. 

Romero and San Luis Obispo Economic Development coordinator Shelley Stanwick said one key ingredient in the downtown success story has been a concerted effort to encourage pedestrian traffic downtown along with ample public parking provided around the periphery. 

“The city is constantly providing more parking,” Romero said. 

“Traffic keeps the vitality and life downtown,” said designer Pierre Rademaker, chair of the city’s Parking and Access Task Force. 

Participants in the two-day trip came away impressed. “This is the cleanest downtown I’ve ever seen,” said Mayor Bates. “It’s quite impressive,” said Spring. 

All the participants save Councilmember Spring were able to catch Amtrak for the homeward leg Friday. A minor breakdown had kept the delay to under two hours. 

Spring decided to extend her trip over the weekend, her first extended out-of-town stay in years. ª

Police Blotter

Tuesday May 25, 2004

Pedestrian Killed in I-80 Accident  

A 50-year old Oakland woman was fatally injured early Saturday morning as she walked in the number four lane of Interstate 80 near the Gilman Street interchange in Berkeley, according to the Oakland office of the California Highway Patrol. 

Maria Toscano was struck by a 1999 Buick, which then spun out of control. That driver was arrested for driving under the influence. A second vehicle overturned as its driver swerved to avoid striking her. 

Officers said they are still trying to determine why Toscano was walking in traffic. 


Police Pick Pair as Officers of the Year 

Breaking with tradition, Berkeley Police picked a pair of their colleagues for Officer of the Year honors. 

Officers Van Huynh and Peter Hong will receive their honors Wednesday in ceremonies at the Albany/El Cerrito Rotary Club. 

Hong has served with the department nearly eight years, mostly in patrol. He’s also served on the department Drug Task Force and has served as a training officer for the last four years. 

Huynh joined the department in 1996, serving in Patrol and on the city’s Special Response Team. 

The two officers have worked adjoining beats for most of their career, said Officer Joseph Okies. 


Berkeley’s Troubles Come in Threes 

Youthful bandits traveling in troupes of threes have been staging strongarm stickups across the city over the last week, according to Officer Okies. 

The first heist happened shortly after five p.m. last Wednesday when a gang of three confronted a male pedestrian at Ward and Milvia streets and demanded cash. Their victim complied, and the trio fled. 

Another triad of young men in their late teens/early 20’s braced a passerby at Seventh and Cedar streets the same day shortly before 11 p.m. Once again, the victim complied, walking away poorer but unharmed. 

Yet a third threesome struck at 5 p.m. Saturday, confronting a pedestrian at Jones Street and San Pablo Avenue. Outmuscled, the walker parted with his cash. 


Another Trio, Another Trouble 

Police are seeking another gang of three in a potentially more dangerous offense after officers and the Berkeley Fire Department were summoned to Jefferson School, 1400 Ada St., after three youths were observed planting an incendiary device. 

No arrests have been made. 


Pair Sought in Board-Bashing  

Berkeley Police are seeking two men who bashed another man over the head with a section of two-by-four during a Thursday morning altercation at Derby Street and McGee Avenue. The victim was treated at the scene by Fire Department paramedics shortly after 9 a.m. 


Merchant Robbed by Gun Threat 

A teenager who claimed to have a gun robbed a merchant at Eighth Street and Channing Way late Thursday afternoon. 


Berkeley Police Release Robber Pix 

Berkeley Police have released pictures of two of the three bank robbers who struck on May 12 (below). Each of the three banks was hit by a different robber. 

The suspect wearing glasses hit the Wells Fargo branch at 1995 University Ave. about 1 p.m.. He is described as a heavy-set male in his late 30’s to early 40’s who stands about 5’5”. 

The second suspect in the flashy sweatshirt hit the Wells Fargo at 2959 College Ave. three hours later. He is described as a teenager between 17 and 20 years of age, and about 5’7” tall. 

Berkeley Police spokesperson Officer Joe Okies urged anyone who can help with identifications to call the department’s robbery detail at 981-5742 or send tips via e-mail to police@ci.berkeley.ca.us. 


‘Oversight’ Bumps Union Resolution From City Council Agenda

Tuesday May 25, 2004

The biggest news swirling around tonight’s (Tuesday, May 25) City Council meeting isn’t on the agenda.  

A controversial recommendation from the Citizen’s Budget Review Commission requesting the council take a tough stand on city unions was kept off the council agenda after the city attorney’s office determined the commission had not properly listed the item on its meeting agenda. 

As far as what’s on the council agenda for Tuesday, five proposed ballot measure items take center stage. 

The Budget Review Commission resolution that didn’t make the agenda had requested that the council, in future union negotiations, make employees pay for contributions to their pension plans and called on unions to re-open collective bargaining on their contracts before the November elections when a series of new taxes are expected to be on the ballot. 

However the agenda for the meeting only mentioned a “budget update” and made no mention of the resolution, passed 5-1 by the commission. 

Placing the recommendation on the council agenda would violate a state law, known as the Brown Act, said Deputy City Attorney Zach Cowan. The law requires that legislative bodies give “reasonable notice” when considering an action. To reach the council, the commission will have to vote on the resolution again at its Wednesday meeting. An agenda for the meeting has not been made public as of press time. 

Budget Commissioner Leonard Schwab, the author of the resolution, said the commission secretary and City Budget Director Tracy Vesely failed to put the item on the May 5 agenda even though he e-mailed it to her on April 23. 

Schwab said he is assuming that its absence was an “innocent oversight,” but Barbara Gilbert who serves on the Berkeley Budget Oversight Committee—an unrelated group—thinks politics were involved. 

Gilbert fears that the delay is a ploy to sidestep the controversial issue of costly long term union contracts she said accounted for about 75 percent of city expenses. With the city in negotiations with unions on possible givebacks and the council considering a variety of tax measures to plug the city’s $10 million budget deficit, Gilbert said the recommendation was an urgent matter. She fears that at the Wednesday meeting commissioners will be pressured to change their vote so not to put political pressure on the council. 

“Their attitude has been we won’t deal with it and we’ll just raise taxes,” she said. “I think they’re just scared of the unions.” 

Meanwhile the city continues to negotiate with its unions on a three percent salary giveback this year to help the city balance its books. If the unions don’t comply, City Manager Phil Kamlarz has threatened to raise the money by instituting monthly one-day closures of all non-essential city services starting July 1.  

Because the city would have to give employees a month notice before the first shutdown, a resolution on union concessions must be hammered out by June 1, said Deputy City Manager Lisa Caronna. 

Eric Landes-Brenman of Local One of the Public Employees Union, which represents 160 city managers has proposed the city take advantage of a state retirement program to defer retirement contributions for employees for several years until the city’s finances are in better shape and stock market returns improve. 


Ballot Measures To Be Considered 

In addition to the usual suspects to be considered by the council at tonight’s meeting—measures to publicly finance campaigns and raise property taxes to offset the city’s $10 million budget deficit—the council will get its first look at measures that would change Berkeley rent control laws and take a different tact in raising revenue.  

Without any prodding from the council, the Transportation Commission has proposed doubling the city’s off-street parking tax from 10 to 20 percent to raise $551,000 for the general fund. The tax hike, said Transportation Commissioner Wendy Alfsen would tax service users instead of property owners like most of the proposed taxes the council is considering. 

The commission originally wanted to dedicate the revenue for transportation-related improvements, but after learning that state law would require that type of tax to win two-thirds of the vote, the commission opted for the added revenue to go to the general fund. 

At 20 percent, Berkeley would have the second highest off-street parking taxes in the state, behind San Francisco, which has a 25 percent rate. 

Councilmember Betty Olds said she doubted the council would vote to raise the price of parking in the midst of the city losing the Kittredge Street parking lot.  

After a series of official meetings between four members of the City Council and the rent board, known as a 4X4 Committee, the council can ask for voter approval to several changes in the city’s Rent Stabilization Ordinance, two of which would provide added protection for renters. 

One provision would place tenants with Section 8 vouchers under rent control. Previously, participants in the federal housing program have not qualified for rent control because the city feared that landlords would opt out of the program if rent increases were constrained. 

Historically, under the Section 8 program, a tenant pays 30 percent of his income towards the apartment unit and a federal subsidy covers the rest of the rent, including a market rate rent increase. However, the Bush administration has changed the program so that if the landlord raises the rent, the tenant must pay the increase, in addition to paying 30 percent of his income.  

According to a city staff report, some Section 8 tenants have already opted out of the program in response to the increased rent burden. By applying the city’s rent control laws to Section 8 units, tenants would be safeguarded from large upsurges in the rental market, the staff report said. 

The commission also recommended new language in the ordinance that would prohibit a landlord from “unreasonably” refusing a subletter in circumstances where a tenant’s roommate had moved out of the apartment. Rent Board Executive Director Jay Kelekian said that a small minority of landlords refused to allow tenants to refill open rooms in order to create frequent turnover of the unit and bring it up to market rent. 

Additionally the council will also reconsider a ballot initiative to make Berkeley the first city in the country to publicly finance elections. The measure before the council Tuesday would create a “Fair election Fund” that would annually appropriate no more than $490,000 annually to fund eligible candidates for public office. 

A similar ballot measure is being circulated by the Berkeley Fair Election Coalition. Should the council fail to put their measure on the ballot, coalition members have pledged to move ahead with their proposal. 

The council will also consider a litany of tax measures to fund programs and services jeopardized the by the budget crisis. Among the proposals include, $1.6 million for youth services, $1.7 million for library services, $1.2 million to repair storm drains and clean creek water, 1.2 million for paramedic services and between $2 and $3 million in utility users tax increases. 


Doin’ the Berkeley Border Flatlands Dance

From Susan Parker
Tuesday May 25, 2004

It was two in the afternoon and I was unloading groceries from my car. On the second trip out the front door I saw her rounding the corner and coming toward me: a small, waif-like woman dressed in flannel pajama bottoms and a bubble jacket. I knew what was coming. I was going to get nailed. 

She’d asked me for money before but I always had an excuse. I’d be pulling weeds in the front yard. “No, I don’t have any money,” I’d say indignantly. “Can’t you see I’m gardening?” Other times she’d come to the front door and it was fairly easy to say no and shut it without further discussion. But this time it would be difficult to come up with an excuse. I had bags of groceries in my arms. I obviously had money. 

“Suzy,” she said softly, standing far enough away from me so that I could barely hear her. “Durnell’s daddy got shot and he’s in the hospital in San Francisco. I gotta go see him. I haven’t told Durnell ‘bout his daddy. I need $8 for BART.” 

She knew that she was going to get me. Using Durnell’s name was all it took. He was her son, an adorable fourth grader who often came over to my house to see what I was doing. I’d taken him swimming a few times and once bought him a belt in the futile hope that it would assist him in keeping his jeans from falling down around his ankles. 

But there could be a grain of truth in her tale. Certainly the sum of $8 was about right. A little high perhaps, but if she were heading for San Francisco General and back, and catching a bus in addition to BART, then it might take about that amount. And Durnell’s daddy having been shot was not out of the question. I read the newspaper. I knew the homicide rate for young black men. Still, I couldn’t help myself. My middle class values always took over in these situations. I couldn’t give without making a point. “Why don’t I just give you a ride to San Francisco,” I suggested.  

She didn’t miss a beat. “Well,” she said. “You see, I got this job interview, too, so I gotta go a couple of places. Not just to see Durnell’s daddy.” 

“You’re going to a job interview dressed like that?” I asked. 

“No,” she laughed. “I gotta get dressed.” 

“Okay,” I said. “After you’re dressed come back and I’ll give you the money. I’m doing this for Durnell,” I added. I hated myself for being such a halfway do-gooder, someone who demanded a performance before making a payment. But Durnell’s momma didn’t seem to care.  

“I’ll be right back,” she said. “Thank you,” she added as she tuned away, letting me know that she could play the game too. 

I had barely unloaded the groceries before she returned. She wasn’t going for an interview to work at the deli section of Safeway, that was for sure. She must have had an application in at O’Farrell’s or the Condor. She smiled at me. 

“Here,” I said, handing her eight crumbled one dollar bills. “Where’s Durnell? Do you want me to watch him while you’re gone?” 

“Oh no,” she said. “He’s at school. I’ll be back before he gets out.” 

I looked at my watch. There was no way that she could go to San Francisco and visit Durnell’s daddy and have a job interview before Durnell was out of class, unless, of course, Durnell was also attending night school. 

“I’ll pay you back on Saturday,” she said as she bounced down the steps. “And thank you again,” she added as her high heels clicked along the sidewalk. Our transaction was over. Our dance was done, until the next time. I made a mental note that in the future I would unload groceries at the far end of the driveway, away from the street. 

Boalt Students Respond to Prisoner Doctrine Author

By Michael W. Anderson
Tuesday May 25, 2004

On May 22, more than a quarter of the graduating class of Boalt Hall law students protested actions taken by Boalt law professor John Yoo during his tenure as deputy assistant attorney general for the Bush administration. In January, 2002, Professor Yoo authored a 42-page memo for the Department of Justice advising that the U.S. is not constrained by the Geneva Conventions in its treatment of Taliban and al Qaeda prisoners captured in Afghanistan. The State Department vigorously opposed this position on several grounds, arguing that it could do great damage to our international standing and the legitimacy of our foreign policy. Subsequent events in both Iraq and Afghanistan and have borne out these concerns. 

The day before graduation, we authored a petition asking Professor Yoo to repudiate his official position, or else to resign from the Boalt faculty. (The petition is available online at www.PetitionOnline.com/bh2004/petition.html. As of now, more than 250 students and alumni have signed on.) In subsequent media articles on the petition, Professor Yoo and others opposed our efforts on several grounds. While he refused to comment on the memo, Professor Yoo characterized the petition as an “unfortunate attack on academic freedom,” and asserted that the link between his memo and prisoner abuses in Iraq was “speculative.” He also stood by his original position that the Geneva Conventions do not apply to prisoners captured in Afghanistan. 

Professor Yoo’s response is misplaced. First, our petition is not an attack on academic freedom. It is explicitly worded as a response to official government actions taken by Professor Yoo in his capacity as deputy assistant attorney general. Professor Yoo has been espousing his viewpoints as an academic for years, yet we never before called for his resignation. We mounted this petition only in response to recent media revelations regarding his official role.  

Academic freedom protects viewpoints; it does not amount to immunity for immoral or illegal actions. If a professor commits a crime or behaves in a morally reprehensible way, the community has the right to demand accountability. If, as we believe, Professor Yoo’s actions amount to aiding and abetting war crimes, that absolutely demands accountability. 

Second, one need not “speculate” about whether the abuse of Iraqi prisoners was a result of Professor Yoo’s position. There is much evidence that similar abuses have occurred to prisoners captured by the United States in Afghanistan as well. The New York Times recently reported on investigations into a substantial number of suspicious deaths occurring to Afghani prisoners held in U.S. custody. According to Professor Yoo’s position, if these investigations determine that U.S. nationals or military personnel tortured or murdered prisoners captured in Afghanistan, these persons could not be prosecuted under the War Crimes Act. 

We encourage readers to read Professor Yoo’s memo (www.msnbc.msn.com/id/5032094/site/newsweek/). The most telling aspect of the memo is that it analyzes the applicability of the Geneva Conventions through the lens of the War Crimes Act (the federal law that makes U.S. nationals and military personnel criminally liable for grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions). The question of whether torturing or killing prisoners captured in Afghanistan would violate the Geneva Conventions is a secondary consideration in Professor Yoo’s memo. The primary question is whether U.S. nationals and military personnel could actually be prosecuted for such behavior—behavior that would undoubtedly constitute war crimes if inflicted on “conventional” prisoners of war. 

Finally, Professor Yoo’s interpretation of the Geneva Conventions rests on deeply flawed assumptions. Professor Yoo adopts an overly narrow, hypertechnical reading of the treaty that exploits loopholes and magnifies ambiguity to reach the desired conclusion. But he ignores the fact that, in reality, many prisoners have nothing whatsoever to do with the Taliban and al Qaeda. Indeed, the United States has released a large number of prisoners from Guantanamo, presumably after failing to find any evidence of their participation in these groups. We need not stretch our imaginations in wondering just how brutally these persons must have been interrogated before their captors realized they were innocent. 

In the protected ivory tower of academia, Professor Yoo has every right to formulate his legal opinions with disregard for such realities. But in the real world, legal positions have real world consequences, as we are now discovering in the most unfortunate way. Those responsible for these consequences must be held accountable. 


Michael W. Anderson, MA, PhD, JD, is a member of Boalt Hall’s graduating class of 2004. 





Letters to the Editor

Tuesday May 25, 2004


Editors, Daily Planet:  

I left George Lakoff’s lecture, hosted by the Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club this Friday evening devastated rather than hopeful, defeated rather than energized. While I greatly enjoyed Professor Lakoff’s talk, I experienced profound disappointment as I watched a room filled with people who pride themselves on their fairness, compassion, and empathy applaud and wave as a young man desperate in his need to be heard, was surrounded, intimidated, silenced, and finally escorted from the room. I understand that the organizers, participants, and audience (myself included) were eager to hear Dr. Lakoff, were anxious to maintain order, and knew of no other way in that moment to both receive this young man’s words with compassion and attend to their own hopes and desires. At the same time, I know that if we are to really effect change in Washington or Sacramento, we must act on our values even when things do not go as we planned. I have very little hope that the people of the United States can move in a new direction if we just speak about compassion and empathy and forget to embody it. 

Erica Grevemeyer 




Editors, Daily Planet:  

The sad fate of Reginald Zelnick, the professor who was run over by a delivery truck last week in the center of campus is a sorry indicator of the state of UC Berkeley. Once considered among the most beautiful in the nation the university is now grotesquely overbuilt and exploited for uses that are peripheral or unrelated to the mission of an institute of higher learning. The place has become a neverending commotion that is a money-sink for the construction and service industries. 

Professor Zelnick was caught up by failing to register that the grove of academe in which he gave so much real service to the community is now become a place where you cross at your own risk. 

Bruce Loeb 




Editors, Daily Planet:  

It appears that “...most councilmembers [at the May 18 City Council meeting] expressed support for decriminalizing or legalizing prostitution, yet they instead chose to send it for review to the city’s Commission on the Status of Women. (“City Council Faces Gloomy Budget,” Daily Planet, May 20-24).” 

What a cop-out! According to the city website, this commission for months has been incomplete, lacking two of a potential eight members. It now lacks only one member! Moreover, the last posted minutes of meetings date back to Feb. 4, when the entire agenda/action taken consisted of electing chair and vice chair and identifying recipients of the 15th annual Outstanding Berkeley Women award[s]—a non-feminist concept in this voter's opinion. 

Helen Wheeler 




Editors, Daily Planet:  

The downtown UC hotel project presents an opportunity of huge proportions not seen recently in Berkeley. As said before, it can be a disaster, or, as preferred, it can be a jewel in the heart of downtown Berkeley. 

The task force given the charge to make recommendations for the development of this site, at the northeastern-most corner of Shattuck and Center, has allowed for the best while avoiding the worst. A group of 25 dedicated volunteers gathered for weeks to learn from experts, and make informed and democratic decisions. Though not a member of the task force, I attended nearly all the meetings, learned and contributed and witnessed the process.  

As a resident of South Berkeley, only one BART stop away, the potential for this project is exciting. It will provide jobs for local residents, a place for visitors to stay, groups to convene and a central destination for everyone living in and visiting Berkeley. My parents, who would travel to Berkeley to visit my family several years ago, had little choice for comfortable lodging. Envisioning the recommendations made by the task force, I imagine the UC Hotel being just the right choice for generations of families to come. It’s what’s been missing in Berkeley. 

I support the task force recommendations. They cover the elements I’d want to see addressed and then some. There is room and encouragement for excellence, a focus on the positive potential. If the recommendations are followed, downtown could be transformed into a vibrant, healthy environment for pedestrians, retail business, travelers and families. I hope that the work of the task force will be taken seriously by our City Council, project developers, architects and the university.  

Marcy Greenhut 

Transportation Commission 

President, Berkeley Ecological and Safe Transportation 




Editors, Daily Planet:  

In response to Mr. Brenneman’s article on parking enforcement in Berkeley (“Wozniak Seeks Changes in Parking Enforcement,” Daily Planet, May 14-17): Perhaps if the city promoted their Epark smart cards for the single headed parking meters they could solve part of the problem. Epark cards work when meter are eating coins and not giving time on the meters. If the meter is actually broken the card will make the meter go to the fail mode. Cards are sold in increments of $10 and deduct in increment of .25 with each movement in the meter. The city has revenue up front and the user does not have to worry about a ticket due to a “broken meter” or lack of change. The Epark cards have been available for over two years. I have yet to see an article written in the Daily Planet or an ad placed by the city, which it seems to be running weekly for some city service or department. If you want a demonstration of how the Epark works and to purchase a $10 card come to Al Lasher’s Electronics, 1734 University Ave. 

Ellen Lasher 




Editors, Daily Planet:  

Projects will be tiered off the LRDP and so it is incumbent upon the community to bring forward all significant impacts now and not in some hypothetical future.  

A project near and dear to my heart is one that would urbanize a remarkably suburban residential area along Piedmont Way and on Panoramic Hill: the university’s intention to install 282 TV broadcast quality lights at Memorial Stadium. 

Please insist that the EIR describe the range of potential lighting projects: The stadium is a coliseum holding 80,000 people and cannot be fairly compared to impacts from lighting to other sports fields either on campus or off-campus. Just as a range of traffic impacts was described in this DEIR, likewise the environmental review document needs to identify the range of light impacts as a function of the range of possible lighting projects. As a policy document, this LRDP otherwise fails miserably.  

Please demand that the EIR adequately describe the city environs. For example, Memorial Stadium is adjacent to Canyon Road, and Memorial Stadium is described as part of the Campus Park, yet the DEIR does not identify Canyon Road as an “adjacent area.” Neither does the DEIR identify the Cultural Resources on Canyon Road even though according to the State Inventory of Historic Resources there are three listed houses on Canyon Road alone.  

Any project-specific review in the future will be encumbered by the document now before us. As such, it is incumbent upon us to create a public record of substantial evidence sooner rather than later. The document’s vagueness is the University administrators’ strategic advantage; local knowledge is ours.  

Janice Thomas 




Editors, Daily Planet:  

Anyone with a young soccer or baseball player in the family knows that sports recreation fields are in short supply in Berkeley. That’s why I applaud the Berkeley School Board’s decision to use its land at Derby and MLK for a multi-purpose athletic field, including a plan to accommodate the Tuesday farmers’ market.  

For our family and for dozens if not hundreds more Berkeley families this plan is a three-fer. Less driving to ball fields in Alameda and Oakland, a chance to watch the Berkeley High baseball team play on a decent field, and more opportunities to shop at the farmers’ market after games or practices. 

I urge the City Council to get behind this plan for Berkeley families and Berkeley kids. 

David Fogarty 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The UC Hotel Task Force has plenty of diversity, both in its members and the citizen groups supporting those members. The work of those people 

and the well-thought recommendations they produced are part of the good tradition of Berkeley politics. If any group was not represented, it was because they made no effort to get represented. I’m not on the task force, but I attended several meetings of a coalition of groups supporting the Task Force; we sent in a letter with our recommendations. Any group in Berkeley was free to do the same. 

Against this background, the racist outburst by one of the commissioners was particularly mean-spirited and divisive. Complaining of lack diversity 

based on a quota count is part of the bad tradition of Berkeley politics. 

The Daily Planet article (“Task Force Criticized for Lack of Diversity,” Daily Planet, May 14-17) may have become part of the bad tradition by not mentioning the long list of people and groups who spoke up at the Planning Commission meeting, supporting the task force recommendations. 

I hope the Planning Commission, after tempers have cooled, will return to the good tradition of Berkeley politics to make their recommendations to the City Council. 

Steve Gellerˇ

Plan Berkeley Questions UASP Proposed Zoning Codes

Tuesday May 25, 2004

Staff proposals for implementing the University Avenue Strategic Plan (UASP) are so confusing that the public, the commission, and even staff find it difficult to understand them, as is shown by each succeeding draft having additional mistakes and inconsistencies. The drafts have come so quickly that issues presented weeks ago have not been resolved, and have been buried by many new questions raised by the later revisions. Staff is pushing the commission to complete a final draft before the City Council recess in July, but neighbors and merchants are not convinced that the proposed zoning code changes will lead to the viable and vital University Avenue that the UASP promised. 

Staff is demanding, in numerous ways, “flexibility” in application of the zoning code; they argue for the freedom to approach each project individually and evaluate it in it’s own context and particular details. While in principle this sounds admirable, past experience shows that developers are adept at finding the soft underbelly of the zoning code. For this reason the community is loathe to support language that leaves so much undefined and subject to change outside of the public view. 

Blanket unlimited exemptions for certain preferred types of development leave neighbors unable to anticipate all the ways potential projects can grow far beyond what the UASP envisioned. While staff has incorporated minimum design standards for streetscape amenities, including sidewalk bulb-outs, minimal open space requirements, and a grudging recognition of what quality retail space requires, they have steadfastly refused to incorporate the core requirement of the UASP: that the maximum heights may be granted only “if all other solar, privacy, open space, signage, design, and parking standards are met” (P34, UASP).  

It has become apparent, after two months of Planning Commission public hearings and five zoning code drafts that much of staff’s efforts are toward: 

• A significant up-zoning in little noticed areas of the code. 

• Avoidance of any hard and firm development standards that are not subject to easily met standards for waivers and modifications. 

• Fine sounding platitudes for design standard incentives that richly reward large projects, fail to help small projects and impose a significant cost on merchants and adjoining neighborhoods. 

Somewhere along the way, the UASP disappeared in the discussion of zoning code sections and sub-sections. The changes have resulted in a code that only a land-use attorney could love, because it will be a source of work for years to come, as each section is tested as to what it truly means when it is applied to a real design as every project moves through the approval process. With zoning language that will allow buildings even bigger than Acton Court, there will be an endless stream of projects being appealed to the City Council. It is sad that throughout this entire process the Planning Commission has refused to, even once, sit down and have an actual dialogue with the community. The community would like to know how we got so lost from the clear task set by the City Council; to implement the UASP design guidelines, not fundamentally change them. 


Kristin Leimkuhler, Stephen Wollmer, Richard Graham and Robin Kibby are contributors to PlanBerkeley.org.  


Rent Board Chair Chides Control Foe’s ‘Rant’

Tuesday May 25, 2004

The season of political sophistry is well underway in Berkeley as it is across the nation. Evidence of this can be seen in John Koenigshofer’s less than rational, less than honest anti-rent control rant. The latest thoughtless tirade appeared on the op-ed page in the weekend edition of May 11-13. Mr. Koenigshofer signed his piece as “a Berkeley resident.” Perhaps modesty prevented Mr. Koenigshofer from revealing that he is a Berkeley landlord and realtor who works out of George Oram’s firm, one of Berkeley’s largest real estate interests. 

Let’s examine this latest diatribe one strawman at a time: 

1. That the Rent Stabilization Program is “counterproductive and unfair.” Our program effectively and fairly advances the mission and goals of the ordinance, which was passed overwhelmingly in 1980 by the voters of Berkeley and has withstood every legal and electoral challenge since. Berkeley has had a chance to experience what Mr. Koenigshofer and his cohorts consider “fair,” such as fraudulent owner move-ins corrected by Measure Y which voters approved in 2000; in the early 1990s when real estate interests controlled the Rent Stabilization Board(RSB), rents were jacked-up nearly 50 percent. Fairness?  

2. Mr. Koenigshofer wants the RSB to fund social service and affordable housing programs with our resources. An annual per-unit registration fee that is collected yearly funds the program. The present registration fee is $136 per unit. This is the same level that was in effect 1991. Well, certainly he knows that by law the RSB funds are restricted and therefore cannot be used for purposes other than fulfilling the requirements of the ordinance and the associated regulations. Even more substantive is the fact that Rent Stabilization Program is the largest and most effective affordable housing program in the city. Is this more deception or ignorance?  

3. It has long been a staple of landlord lore that tenants in Berkeley should be means tested. Apparently Mr. Koenigshofer is not deterred by the concerns regarding illegality and irrationality of this proposal. What did silence the proponents of this Ashcroftesque invasion of privacy, was the counter suggestion that rental property owners be means tested to determine if profits in excess of a “reasonable return” on their investment are being realized. And that any excess profits be returned to renters. Its worth noting that based on 2000 census data that the median income for homeowners was $80,324 (one could reasonably expect many landlords faired even better), while the median income for households headed by tenants (excluding students) was $27,241. 

4. Then Mr. Koenigshofer finally gets down to his real mission: “Rent control is not needed.” Well, without it what would Berkeley look like? The disabled, the elderly, the working poor, racial, cultural and economic diversity would be a thing of the past. Thankfully a sizable majority those who live and vote in Berkeley respect and embrace the diversity of our city and are unwilling to sacrifice the character of our city on the alter of economic greed.  

5. Finally, Mr. Koenigs-hofer‘s disdain for the ordinance is only exceeded by his disregard for the facts. He asserts in his letter that “every member of the Rent Board receives the benefit the of rent control.” The fact of the matter is that of our nine-member board only two commissioners live in units that fall under the control of the ordinance. 

While they may not be a reliable source of accurate information, I have no doubt small number of real estate ideologues will continue their distorted attacks on rent control. However, I’m equally confident that the electorate in Berkeley will continue to see through these paper-thin attempts to undermine the protections that rent control offers. 


Max Anderson is chair of the  

Rent Stabilization Board. 



Costa Hawkins Bill Cut Rents, Added Units

Tuesday May 25, 2004

Jesse Arreguin recently wrote in this newspaper (Letters, Daily Planet, May 14-17) that “Costa Hawkins and excessive rent levels led to the lack of housing in Berkeley.” I doubt that Mr. Arreguin was living in Berkeley when rent control began in 1979, or that he has taken the time to study the history of this issue.  

A large number of evictions occurred during the period between the rent freeze mandated by Measure I (which started rent control) and the beginning of eviction control about a year later. I watched this happen. Several previously rented houses in my neighborhood were emptied out in 1979 by owners who wished to evade this regulation.  

The sudden onset of the housing shortage in 1979 was well documented in local newspapers, such as the Berkeley Gazette, the Daily Californian and the Oakland Tribune. Articles from this time have been preserved on microfilm and are available in the periodicals room of UC’s Doe Library for anyone who wishes to look into Berkeley history.  

For example, the Daily Cal reported that the UC Student Housing Office was swamped with 6,000 more homeseekers in August of 1979 than in August of 1978, yet had 32 percent fewer listings to offer. An article in September 1979 referred to “a housing shortage unprecedented since World War II.” Chancellor Albert Bowker appealed to homeowners in the community to rent rooms in their houses to incoming students, or else some of them might have to give up their plans to study at Cal.  

Property owners removed rental units from the market in a number of ways, mostly by conversion to owner occupancy. Tenancy in common (TIC) sales flourished in the nicer parts of town, as duplexes and triplexes which had been rented were sold to multiple owners for shared occupancy. As long as rent control was perceived as excessively Draconian, removed units stayed off the market, one way or another. 

Some buildings ceased to be used for housing. The “Ellen Blood House” at 2526 Durant Ave. was sold in the 1980s to a large landowner who promptly changed it to commercial usage without benefit of a use permit (in fact, several attempts to legalize this usage were denied). Ironically, the same owner now wants this historic building expunged because he thinks replacing it with 44 superfluous units will be profitable. It will not—our apartment glut is not going away any time soon. 

Despite Mr. Arreguin’s odd claim, the Costa Hawkins Act, which mandated vacancy decontrol in 1999, brought back rental units which would otherwise never have been available again—lots of units—enough to cause rents to drop dramatically, and the advertising of vacancies to become pervasive. 

Certain individuals who regard themselves as liberal have made it clear that they wish I would be silent on this topic; they seem to think that saying anything bad about rent control is naughty, even if it’s true. But Berkeley is suffering the consequences of the housing shortage which began in 1979, and people will not believe that it is over until they understand its origin. I suggest that exhaustive review of Berkeley’s history be required of everyone employed by the city or engaged in city politics, because failure to study the history of a town leads to disastrous land use choices in the present, and to problems forever into the future. 


Gale Garcia is a Berkeley resident. 



Jane Jacobs, Democrat With a Small ‘D’

By ZELDA BRONSTEIN Special to the Planet
Tuesday May 25, 2004

Last week, San Francisco’s City Arts & Lectures offered a tantalizing twofer at Herbst Theatre: renowned urbanist Jane Jacobs was interviewed by Paul Goldberger, architecture critic for the New Yorker and, before that, for the New York Times. Jacobs, 88, lives in Toronto and seldom ventures into these parts. Not surprisingly, the event sold out. 

Jacobs’ rare local appearance was occasioned by the release of her latest book, Dark Age Ahead, a sweeping survey of a civilization—ours—on the brink of catastrophe. But you’d have scarcely known that from her hour-and-a-half-long exchange with Goldberger, which touched only once on the book.  

Goldberger proposed that, its title notwithstanding, Dark Age Ahead is no jeremiad. Jacobs agreed. “I don’t think we’ve reached a point of no return,” she said. “There’s nothing deterministic or supernatural about this.” In other words, the dangerous mess we’re in is of our own making, and the clean-up, if it happens, will be of our making, too. Dark Age Ahead, however, has much more to say about how we’ve made the mess than about how we might clean it up. 

You might expect Jacobs to frame her cautionary message in terms of ecology or the environment. Instead, the key keyword in her new book is culture, by which she means the attitudes and practices that guide daily life. Jacobs fears that we’re on the verge of a “cultural collapse” brought on by “mass amnesia.” She identifies five “cultural pillars” that are at risk: community and family, higher education, effective science and science-based technology, democratic governance, and self-policing by the learned professions. 

Scanning this list, you may be thinking: I’ve heard this all before. No doubt, you’ve heard some of it. What makes Dark Age Ahead worth a read is the way in which its author brings her famously independent and inductive mind to bear in fresh ways on familiar topics.  

So, for example, in the chapter titled “Families Rigged to Fail,” Jacobs devotes a single sentence to divorce, drug abuse, juvenile delinquency, and spousal abuse and then focuses on family finances strained by runaway housing costs, and the erosion of family and community life by our automotive culture and economy.  

Turning to “Science Abandoned,” Jacobs homes in on, not the current usual suspect (the Bush administration and its denial of global warming or its politicized suppression of scientific research), but the myopic findings of economists, epidemiologists and traffic engineers.  

In another chapter, “Dumbed-Down Taxes,” she deplores the “disconnect between public treasuries and local domestic needs.” She enumerates the destructive effects that that separation has had on her adopted home town of Toronto: the degradation of “once-excellent” public schools and public transit, the new dirtiness of streets and parks, and the destruction of a popular program of sensitively designed infill public housing. With respect to this last item, she writes, incredibly, that “only 74 subsidized apartments affordable by low-wage earners, single-income families, disabled persons, and others on welfare have been added to the city’s housing stock in more than a decade.”  

What makes Toronto’s civic decline particularly scandalous, says Jacobs, is that its source is not fiscal “but purely administrative and governmental.” The culprits are the “provincial kleptocracies” that wield their sovereign authority over local jurisdictions so as to take far more in taxes than they return, leaving cash-starved cities to depend on “only very minor taxation, such as property taxes.” Administrative kleptocracy is a major issue in California as well. Our cities’ and counties’ dire budgetary predicaments stem not only from the dot.com bust but also from longtime, repeated diversions of locally generated tax monies to state coffers.  

Drawing on vivid examples from both Canada and the United States, Jacobs’ ominous report resonates all too closely with this American reader’s experience. But Dark Age Ahead is supposed to be hopeful as well as gloomy. It’s hard to see its hopeful side. Given Jacobs’ oft-expressed disdain for abstraction, we shouldn’t expect her to present a sweeping plan for recovery. We might, however, expect her to serve up a slew of heartening anecdotes. Instead, she recounts many defeats and few victories. The upshot is an argument that offers little alternative to despair.  

In a striking contrast, the mood at Herbst Theatre last week was celebratory. The upbeat feeling stemmed in part from Jacobs’ presence itself. The book that made her famous, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, was published in 1961. How inspiring to see her, 43 years later, still leading the life of an active public intellectual. Her toughness and vitality were evident before she’d said a word: She walked onto the stage leaning heavily on a cane and then sank into the chair opposite Goldberger with a look of triumphant relief.  

The sense of enduring achievement and possibility was reinforced by the evening’s discursive tone. Gracious, charming and modest, Goldberger fulsomely praised his senior colleague. The Death and Life of American Cities, he proposed, is “one of the few books of our time about which it could be said, it changed the world....It is to the world of architecture and planning what Freud is to the world of psychology.....How much contemporary thinking comes from it!” 

Jacobs accepted the tribute. And why not? At 88, she’s entitled to rest on her considerable laurels. 

But the evening would have been far more interesting if she had said something like: If The Death and Life of Great American Cities had had the influence with which you credit it, I would have had far less reason to call my new book Dark Age Ahead.  

At one point, she did hint at her dissatisfaction with the current state of the planning field, after Goldberger asked her opinion of the New Urbanist movement.  

Jacobs replied: “I feel sorry for the New Urbanists. They talk a very good line. They’re a delight to read and to hear....But they don’t have very good tools, so what they create is very much what they like to hate.”  

These comments begged for a follow-up question. New Urbanists count Jacobs as a major source; some of their precepts—mixed use, transit-oriented development, traditional neighborhoods, and densification (yes, it’s a real word)—are central to Jacob’s own thought. So why the put-down? The issue has special relevance for Berkeleyans, who employ a city planning staff for whom these concepts are stock in trade. Frustratingly, Goldberger moved on to another theme. 

Dark Age Ahead holds some clues as to what Jacobs meant. Discussing how to fight sprawl, she argues that planners need to stop fixating on ground coverage, density and land use and start focussing on “performances,” which is to say, on what built environments actually do to people’s lives. “Whether densification actually can improve suburbs as places in which to live, work, have fun, learn, and raise families,” she writes, “will not depend on abstractions like densification and smart growth [first cousin to the New Urbanism], but rather on tangible, boring details.”  

The details she has in mind are the “dreaded side effects” of development that people routinely cite at zoning hearings—things like heavy automotive through-traffic, bad smells, “transgressions against harmonious street scales,” and the destruction of loved buildings and views and access to sun and sky, among others. We need “performance codes,” Jacobs writes, that are both direct and adaptable, as well as enforceable by “civil court orders requiring noncomplying and noncorrecting offenders to halt outlawed performances forthwith or vacate the premises.” 

What’s signal here, besides Jacobs’ attention to specifics and her endorsement of appropriate regulation, is her profound respect for ordinary people—even when those people are, in her own words, “suburbanites suspicious of change.” Jane Jacobs is first and foremost a democrat with a small “d”. Her new book is only 176 pages long, but in it she twice quotes Lincoln’s vow that “government of the people, by the people, and for the people shall not perish from the earth.” That statement, she says in her final paragraph, embodies the ‘core values” of both American and Canadian culture.  

I stress Jacob’s democratic commitments because these days such commitments are often lacking among those who style themselves her followers. Of the local figures who readily come to mind here, the one who stands out is Berkeley’s most aggressive developer, Patrick Kennedy, an avowed Jacobs fan who has publicly characterized neighbors who oppose his ungainly projects as “vigilantes.”  

Kennedy might as well apply that label to Jacobs herself. Developers, planners, and other professionals who focus on her support of high density seem to forget that she came into her own as the leader of the successful fight to save her Greenwich Village neighborhood from high-rise urban renewal in the 1950s. To this day, Jacobs is not merely an active public intellectual; she’s also an active neighborhood activist, and one whose faith in democracy is complemented by an abiding distrust of credentialled authorities.  

Both the faith and the distrust were in lively evidence at Herbst Theatre. Repeatedly, Jacobs voiced skepticism about “experts.” As for formulating the “precise standards” that she considers indispensable to good urban development, Jacobs said that “the beginning step is going to zoning hearings and listening to what people are really saying.”  

City of Berkeley planning staff and public officials, please take note. ô

Chronicle Review Cheap Shots UC Task Force Report

By ZELDA BRONSTEIN Special to the Planet
Tuesday May 25, 2004

John King’s review of Jane Jacobs in the May 20 San Francisco Chronicle concluded with a swipe at the UC Hotel Task Force. 

“[A]s Berkeley activists call for creation of a car-free zone alongside the block of Center Street where UC Berkeley wants to build a downtown conference center,” wrote King, “consider [he then quotes from Jacobs’ 1958 Fortune magazine article, “Downtown is for People”]: ‘There is no magic in simply removing cars from downtown ... the whole point is to make the streets more surprising, more compact, more variegated, and busier than before—not less so.’" 

Objection: Even the scant information provided by King makes it clear that “Berkeley activists” would like to make just one block, not all of downtown, car-free. 

Moreover, what King either doesn’t know (hard to believe) and at any rate fails to mention is that with or without cars, this block is and will remain the area with the highest foot traffic—10,000 people a day—in town, simply because it’s the most direct route between downtown Berkeley’s transit center and the University of California campus.  

In the past few years, the city has upgraded the south side of the street by widening the sidewalk, installing street lights and attractive, well-scaled trees. Merchants have set out tables for dining. The other (sunny) side of the street is now inhabited by an oversized Bank of America, the bank’s underused surface parking lot, and the university’s printing plant. UC plans to relocate the plant offsite and put three museums in its place. The university also plans to buy the bank’s property and has signed an agreement with a hotel developer (Carpenter & Co.) to build a hotel/conference center there.  

When news of these plans became public last fall, the Planning Commission convened a citizen task force to make recommendations regarding the project. The 26-person task force just filed its report with the commission. One of the chief recommendations was that developer “create a public pedestrian-oriented open space or plaza,” closing the street “to cars, trucks and buses in a way that does not degrade transit service quality.” The report also recommends that all surface parking be removed, and that the current bank and curbside parking be relocated under the hotel/conference center and museum sites. 

It’s hard to imagine why King would want to take a cheap shot at these proposals.

New Book Details Notorious Gangs: U.S. Corporations

Tuesday May 25, 2004

For a nation created in part as a rebellion against corporate power, the United States has embraced the corporation to a degree unprecedented in history, enshrouding it with the protections Jefferson enshrined to shelter the individual from the undue intrusion of government. 

The Boston Tea Party, that iconic moment when befeathered colonials dressed as native tribal folk to toss tea into the harbor, was in fact a revolt of merchants against the crown-backed power of the East India Company, the most powerful of British corporate creations. 

Andrew Jackson later led the political revolt against the first national bank chartered in the country. 

How then did a nation once so hostile to the corporate form come to surrender so much of its sovereignty to this most powerful of entities? 

That’s the question that led Ted Nace, founder and former owner of Berkeley’s Peach Pit Press, to write Gangs of America, the Rise of Corporate Power and the Disabling of Democracy. 

Nace’s research reveals a powerful Northern California connection to the transformation of the corporation from a tightly shackled and narrowly focused entity into the all-encompassing Frankenstein we behold today. 

The story of the modern corporation is inextricably linked to the rise of the railroads, and in particular to a San Francisco judge and the “Big Four”—Leland Stanford, Collis Huntington, Mark Hopkins and Charles Crocker, founders of the Central Pacific and Southern Pacific. 

It was Stanford who personally recommended California Supreme Court Chief Justice Stephen J. Field to Abraham Lincoln for the top slot on the newly created federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal based in San Francisco. Lincoln, himself a former railroad lawyer, took Stanford’s advice and gave Fields the slot—which at that time also automatically made Fields an associate justice on the U.S. Supreme Court. 

If Fields had been the railroads’ friend on the state courts, he became their virtual pimp from then on, constantly pushing his colleagues to grant them right after right. 

Fueled by the cash generated by massive land grants and the often-exorbitant shipping charges, the railroads became the dominant force in American politics, extracting endless promises from candidates in exchange for their support and paying out huge sums in bribes. 

In an 1877 dissent, Fields first signaled his intent to effect a legal revolution, declaring that the corporation, as a legal “person,” should be granted the same civil rights that the 14th Amendment bestowed on the newly freed slaves. 

In 1883, a key case reached the Ninth Circuit, where Fields still held the top slot. Santa Clara County was assessing Southern Pacific’s land at full value, while the railroad insisted that they be taxed at the value minus the cost of outstanding bonds. 

As a key element in their defense, the railroad claimed that the 14th Amendment’s equal protection provisions required they be treated as flesh-and-blood landowners, whose land was then taxed at the actual worth minus outstanding mortgages. 

Field agreed, though his rationale was that it was the railroad’s shareholders’ rights which were at stake, not those of the corporate “person.” 

The county appealed to the Supreme Court, which upheld the Ninth Circuit decision. 

Then came the curious incident of the reporter’s note. 

In those days, Supreme Court reporters—officials who transcribed the oral arguments and decisions into print—earned more than the justices. J.C. Bancroft Davis was the reporter who compiled one of the two final official versions of the verdict. Bancroft was not only a former railroad lawyer, he’d also been a railroad president. 

Which may go a long way toward explaining the curious headnote Davis inserted in the Santa Clara decision: “The defendant Corporations are persons within the intent of the clause in section I of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which forbids a State to deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” 

Though the phrase wasn’t included in the court’s written decision, subsequent courts at all levels followed the doctrine Davis laid out, and over the years granted corporations all the protections spelled out in the Bill of Rights. 

Since corporations are theoretically immortal entities of vastly greater wealth, reach and power than mere mortal fleshy persons, their embrace of the rights Fields spearheaded have made many as powerful as most nations on earth. 

Nace spells out how their reach has been expanded by the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and agreements such as NAFTA, to the point where multinational corporations can use secret tribunals to challenge and overturn national laws, imposing backbreaking fines on nations that dare challenge the new corporate imperium. 

Gangs of America offers a chilling look at the Frankenstein of the Post-Industrial Age—a legal fiction that now holds democracies in thrall and governs the smallest details of our lives. 

Nace has created a crucial addition to the emerging global debate on corporate power, providing vitally needed insights into the question. 


Gangs of America, The Rise of Corporate Power and the Disabling of Democracy, by Ted Nace, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc., San Francisco, 281 pages, $24.95.

Local Librarian Documents London’s War

By STEVE FINACOM Special to the Planet
Tuesday May 25, 2004

Sayre Van Young’s face and name are familiar to many Berkeley residents. For nearly four decades, she’s worked for the Berkeley Public Library, helping to answer the most common and esoteric questions posed at the reference desk. 

Van Young is a research librarian and community historian and the organizer and godmother of the Berkeley History Room in the recently expanded Central Library. But her most exhaustive and intriguing reference accomplishment to date is quite possibly one centered half a world and half a century away from today’s Berkeley.  

Earlier this year, Ulysses Press published her book, London’s War: A Traveler’s Guide to World War II. It’s a historical and geographical exploration of the sites, scenes, events and heritage of the central part of the great British metropolis during World War II. 

In 1940, after “Peace in Our Time,” after the Phony War, the Blitzkrieg against France and the Low Countries, after Dunkirk, when Germany had occupied or negotiated control of most of Continental Europe but had been checked in the aerial Battle of Britain, London became an irresistible target for Hitler. 

High explosives, including incendiary bombs that burned at 2,000 degrees, rained down on London and its environs for 57 days during the London Blitz in 1940. Heavy bombing continued for another six months and intermittently throughout the war, culminating in the first use of modern missile technology, the V-1 and V-2 “flying bombs.” 30,000 Londoners died in air attacks. More than a thousand London firemen were killed. 

Londoners took refuge at night and during raids in subways, basements, and backyard shelters and went about their business despite food rationing, fears of gas attacks, nightly blackouts, and daily carnage in the streets. Van Young says she wanted to describe “how ordinary people survived a very unordinary time…the landscape of war…a war waged against ordinary citizens in their own homeland.” 

She came to this subject through a childhood chance. Growing up in the American Midwest, outside Chicago, her first trip to London was at age 10. An English great aunt had left her mother a small bequest, but British law then prohibited taking money out of the country. So off the family went to London—then in its early postwar years—to spend the money there.  

“It was absolutely magical,” she says. “The British people thought we as Americans were great.” There followed a long interlude without return trips. She went to college at the University of Chicago, transferred to UC Berkeley to finish a Library School degree, and settled here permanently. 

Van Young started a career at the Berkeley Public Library in 1967, and found herself going back to London again and again. “I go as often as I can.” Last year, she made three trips and is just back from another. “It’s just a magical place for me…everyone needs a place where their passion is.” 

As she visited, she began to think seriously about wartime London and look for not only the major remnants of the war such as vacant lots and visible ruins, but the little reminders like faded signs pointing the way to former bomb shelters. “As a reference librarian I just looked everywhere. The word ‘obsessive’ has been used by my friends.” 

Walking purposefully, soberly dressed, and often carrying a clipboard for notes, Van Young found Londoners unfailingly helpful with her research but often mistaking her for some civil authority. “I can’t tell you how many people have come running up to me and said, “I’ll move the car! I’ll move the car!” 

As the information piled up, it also spilled out. Back in Berkeley, she and a group of co-workers went to have a sociable beer after work six or seven years ago and she found herself explaining how Londoners drank during the war (they often brought their own mugs to the pub) and other items of wartime trivia. “You really ought to write a book,” one co-worker remarked.  

So Van Young did, although from the beginning of research to the final product, it became a labor of nearly 10 years, numerous trips to London, and innumerable web searches, research calls, interviews, and sorting through historical publications. 

The result is a guidebook like no other I’ve seen. The entries come in bite-sized pieces, carefully blending history and present-day observations. The text is well written, engaging, and packed with information, but not pedantic. The photographs are small—that typical bane of the guidebook format, which mandates both massive content and portable size—but well chosen and clear. Historic images are blended with contemporary views, many of them taken by Van Young herself.  

The book is organized around 20 manageable walking tours of the central London area. Each chapter starts with a short survey of practical advice from local transportation tips, useful Internet resources, and “photo ops” to suggested “cultural preparations,” including works of history, period novels, diaries, movies and other resources that will help the reader understand a particular neighborhood, event, or era. 

The writing is by turns thoughtful, informative, poignant and amusing. (“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten lost here and I urge you to do the same” she writes of one labyrinth of law court buildings.) “This was a book written in a conversational style.”  

Her main focus is simply to explain what was there then, what’s there now, what happened, and how people reacted at the time. “I like to stand in the place where someone stood and see what they saw. It’s a true history, not a ‘good’ history.” 

Boxed sidebars provide thoughtful and practical tips on everything from how to understand British coinage to where to find obscure but still public building entrances and handy restrooms, to “vertigo alerts” when a recommended exploration requires a climb to especially precipitous heights.  

There are also interludes Van Young entitles “Footsteps of the Famous” in which she traces the lives of, and wartime sites associated with, notable Londoners and visitors, from Winston Churchill, sculptor Henry Moore, and author Virginia Woolf to Eleanor Roosevelt (who chatted with the Queen about bombs that had plunged into Buckingham Palace, and found a line painted in her bathtub there indicating that she could fill it to a certain depth with hot water, and no further).  

Finally, there are numerous cogent entries clarifying history and terminology from the nature of the barrage balloon (sent aloft and anchored by a cable designed to deter or snare low-flying German planes) to how Londoners handled tea-shortages, made themselves accommodations in the subway, and cared for pets during a siege. 

Van Young says the book was a labor of love that has not been unrequited. “I’ve been thrilled by the reception.” Readers have sent her lengthy e-mails with both questions and answers about aspects of London’s wartime history. She was particularly touched by one who wrote “I have to tell you this is the first guidebook that made me cry.” 



Arts Calendar

Tuesday May 25, 2004



Gary Lapow, musician and songwriter, at 10:30 a.m. at Berkeley Public Library South Branch, 1901 Russell St. 981-6260. 

Asheba, Caribbean storyteller, at 10:30 a.m. at Berkeley Public Library, North Branch, 1170 The Alameda. 981-6250. 


“Con le Nostre Mani” photographs of Italian Americans at Work in the East Bay. Reception at 7 p.m., followed by a talk with Laura E. Ruberto, in the Central Library Community Room, Berkeley Public Library, 2090 Kittredge St. 981-6233. 

Stephen Altschuler reads from his new book “The Mindful Hiker: On the Trail to Find the Path” at 7:30 p.m. at Black Oak Books. 486-0698. www.blackoakbooks.com 

Diane Ackerman looks into “The Alchemy of the Mind: The Marvel and Mystery of the Brain” at 7:30 p.m. at Cody’s Books. 845-7852.  


David Harris and others in an evening of politics and entertainment at 8 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $10. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

Poets Gone Wild Translators Nanos Valaoritis and Thanasis Maskaleris discuss their anthology “Modern Greek Poetry” at 7:30 p.m. at Barnes and Noble. 644-0861. 

“Can Art Transcend Violence?” with artists Anthony Dubovsky and Yu Chunming at 7:30 p.m. at Berkeley Buddhist Monastery, 2304 McKinley Ave. 848-3440. 


The Whole Noyes, presented by Berkeley Chamber Performances, music from the 16th and 17th century Italy at 8 p.m. at Berkeley City Club. Tickets are $15-$20 at the door. 525-5211. 

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

Suede, pop, jazz and blues diva, at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage Coffee House. Cost is $19.50 in advance, $20.50 at the door. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 

Edie Carey at the 1923 Teahouse at 8 p.m. Suggested donation of $7-$15, no one turned away for lack of funds. 644-2204.  


Dayna Stephens House Jam at 8 p.m. at The Jazz House. Donation $5. 649-8744.  


Danielo Pérez Trio at 8 and 10 p.m. at Yoshi’s at Jack London Square, through Wed. Cost is $10-$16. 238-9200. www.yoshis.com 



Asheba, Caribbean storyteller, at 10:30 a.m. at Berkeley Public Library, West Branch, 1125 University Ave. 981-6270. 


“We Always Had the Words” Night of Beatbox & Jewish Theatre with Dan Wolf, Tim Barsky & Yuri Lane at 8 p.m., at the Teahouse, Epic Arts Studios, 1923 Ashby Ave. Tickets are $10-20 sliding scale. 644-2204. www.epicarts.org 


Hilton Obenzinger reads from the memoir of his aunt, Zosia Goldberg, “Running Through Fire: How I Survived the Holocaust” at 7:30 p.m. at Black Oak Books. 486-0698. www.blackoakbooks.com 

Alice Randall reads from her new novel “Pushkin and the Queen of Spades” at 7:30 p.m. at Cody’s Books. 845-7852. www.codysbooks.com 

Berkeley Poetry Slam with Charles Ellik at 8:30 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $5-$7. 841-2082 www.starryplough.com 

“The Sea Ranch” with architect Donlyn Lyndon, FAIA, at 7 p.m. at the Oakland Museum of California. Tickets are $5-$30 and may be reserved by calling 464-3600. 


Jules Broussard at 8 p.m. at Downtown. 649-3810.  

Rahsul & The Sword of Gideon at 9:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $9. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

Swing Mine performs 40s and 50s Western Swing at 9 p.m. at Albatross, 1822 San Pablo Ave. 843-2473. www.albatrosspub.com 

Clockwork and Ro Sham Bo, a capella jazz, at 7:30 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $5. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

Girl Talk at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 848-8277. 

Ragas and Talas, classical Indian music open jam, at 8 p.m. at The Jazz House. 649-8744. www.thejazzhouse.org 

The New Trust at 9:30 p.m. at Blakes on Telegraph. Cost is $5. 848-0886.  


Ubzorb and The MC Rai Band at 9 p.m. at The Lucre Lounge, 2086 Allston Way. Cost is $5. 841-1390.  



Traveling Jewish Theater, “Dybbuk” at 8 p.m. at Julia Morgan Theater. Tickets are $22-30. 925-789-1300.  


Berkeley High School Film Festival at 7 p.m. at the Florence Schwimley Little Theater, featuring documentary, fiction, and experimental works from students at BHS and throughout the Berkeley Unified School District. Special selections from Washington, King, Longfellow, Thousand Oaks and The Academy. Cost is $3-$5. 

“Havanna Feelings” a film of Havana in the 40s and 50s by Silvio Heufelder at 7:30 p.m. at La Peña. Cost is $6-$8. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

Independent Exposure looks at thirteen works from four countries on the subject of “Spring” at 8 p.m. at 21 Grand, Oakland. Tickets are $5-$10 sliding scale.  


Marilyn Yalom reads from her new book, “Birth of the Chess Queen: A History” at 7:30 p.m. at Black Oak Books. 486-0698. www.blackoakbooks.com 

Davy Rothbart introduces “Found: The Best Lost, Tossed, and Forgotten Items From Around the World” at 7:30 p.m. at Cody’s Books. 845-7852. www.codysbooks.com 

Sayre Van Young, Berkeley Reference Librarian introduces “London’s War: A Traveler’s Guide to World War II” at 7:30 p.m. at the North Branch Library, 1170 the Alameda. 981-6109.  

Word Beat Reading Series at 7 p.m. with featured readers Charles Ellik and Keith Mosier at Mediterraneum Caffe, 2475 Telegraph Ave., near Dwight Way. 526-5985, 205-1749.  


Crowden School’s 21st Annual Spring Concert at 7 p.m. at the First Congregational Church, Dana and Durant Sts. It features string orchestra and choral music performed by Crowden students age 9 to 14. Admission is free. 559-6910.  

Professor Terry’s Circus Band Extraordinaire at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage Coffee House. Cost is $16.50 in advance, $17.50 at the door. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 

Keni El Lebrijano at 8 p.m. at Downtown. 649-3810.  

Metal Show with Drink the Bleach, Totimoshi, and Laudanum at 9:30 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $5. 841-2082. www.starryplough.com 

The Weepies at 8 p.m. at The Jazz House. 649-8744.  


John Pizzaarelli Trio’s “Bossa Nova” at Yoshi’s at Jack London Square, through Sun. Cost is $16-$24. 238-9200. www.yoshis.com 



Springtime is a Buzzzz! with storytelling at Barnes and Noble at 10:30 a.m. 644-3635. 


Berkeley Rep “Master Class” with Rita Moreno at The Roda Theater. Runs through July 18. 647-2949. www.berkeleyrep.org 

Impact Theatre “Money and Run” an action serial adventure with different episodes on Thurs., Fri. and Sat. at 8 p.m. Runs through June 5 at La Val’s Subterranean, 1834 Euclid. For tickets and information call 464-4468. www.impacttheatre.com 

New Shakespeare Co., “Hamlet” directed by Stanley Spenger, at 8 p.m. at Berkeley Art Center, through June 5, no show June 3. Tickets are $10-$12. 234-6046.  


Traveling Jewish Theater, “Dybbuk” at 8 p.m. at Julia Morgan Theater. Tickets are $22-30. 925-789-1300.  


Poetry Flash with Peter Streckfus and Ilya Kaminsky at 7:30 p.m. at Cody’s Books. Donation $2. 845-7852.  


Alexandra Fuller describes life in Africa in “Scribbling the Cat” at 7:30 p.m. at Cody’s Books on Fourth St. 559-9500. www.codysbooks.com 

Dyke Open Mike at 7:30 p.m. at Boadecia’s Books, 398 Colusa Avenue at Colusa Circle, Kensington. To sign up for a 5-10 minute slot, call Jessy 655-1015. www.bookpride.com 


Berkeley High “Dance Projects” at 8 p.m. at the Florence Schwinley Little Theater, Allstaon Way. Tickets are $5-$10. 

Oakland Opera Theater “Akhnaten” by Philip Glass at 8 p.m. at Oakland Metro, 201 Broadway. Tickets are $15-$27. Also Sat. at 8 p.m. and Sun at 2 p.m. 763-1146.  


Caminos Flamencos with Yaelisa with dinner and dessert at 6 and 9 p.m. at Cafe de la Paz, 1600 Shattuck Ave. Tickets are $42-$52, show only $17. 843-0662.  


Folk and Radical Politics Extravaganza, a benefit for Project X, with music by Folk This!, The Molotov Mouths, Samsara, and Sean Corkery at 7 p.m. at AK Press Warehouse, 674A 23rd St., Oakland. Donation $8-$20. 208-1700. www.akpress.org 

Alfredo Muro, Peruvian guitar virtuoso, at 8 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $12. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

Professor Terry’s Circus Band Extraordinaire at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage Coffee House. Cost is $16.50 in advance, $17.50 at the door. 548-1761.  


Beausoliel with Michael Doucet at 9:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $20. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

Ben Reebs at 7:30 p.m. at Nomad Cafe, 6500 Shattuck Ave. 595-5344.  


Fountain Street Theater Band, Sign for Stereo, Surf at 9:30 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $5. 841-2082. www.starryplough.com 

Scavengers, The Plus Ones, Jericho, Deadley Weapons 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. 

Damphibians, Mission Players at 9:30 p.m. at Blakes on Telegraph. Cost is $7. 848-0886.  


Green & Root at the 1923 Teahouse at 8 p.m. Suggested donation of $7-$15, no one turned away for lack of funds. 644-2204.  


Jyemo & The Extended Family conscious dance music, at Shattuck Down Low, 2284 Shattuck Ave. Cost is $7. 548-1159.  

The Supplicants at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 848-8277. 

Shimshai and the Natural Mystiquensemble at 9 p.m. at Studio Rasa, 933 Parker St. 843-2787. www.studiorasa.org  



“Wind and Water” kinetic and water-driven sculpture. Reception from 2 to 4 p.m. at A New Leaf Gallery/Sculpturesite, 1286 Gilman St. Runs through Aug. 1. 525-7621.  


“We Hold the Rock” a exhibition of photographs featuring Native American activism at the Free Speech Café, Moffitt Library, UC Campus.  

“American Masala” photographs from the Visual Storytelling class, UC School of Journalism. Reception from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Photolab Gallery, 2235 Fifth St. 644-1400. 

“Dancing with the Tree of Life” open house and reception at 5 p.m. at Belladonna and the Color of Women Gallery, 2436 Sacramento St. 883-0600. www.belladonna.ws 


Traveling Jewish Theater, “Dybbuk” at 8 p.m. at Julia Morgan Theater. Tickets are $22-30. 925-789-1300.  


“Harold and Maude” at 8 p.m. at the Long Haul, a reading room, library and community center in South Berkeley located at 3124 Shattuck Ave. Wheelchair accessible. 540-0751. www.thelonghaul.org 


Matthew Sharpe reads from “The Sleeping Father” at 7:30 p.m. at Cody’s Books. 845-7852.  



Caminos Flamencos with Yaelisa with dinner and dessert at 6 and 9 p.m. at Cafe de la Paz, 1600 Shattuck Ave. Tickets are $42-$52, show only $17. 843-0662.  


Audrey Auld, Australian country singer/songwriter, at 2 p.m. at Down Home Music, 10341 San Pablo Ave., El Cerrito. 525-2129. 

Ali Akbar College of Music with Smt. Lakshmi Shankar, vocals, Pandit Swapan Chaudhuri, table, and Pansist Ramesh Misra, sarangi, at 7:30 p.m. at Wheeler Auditorium, UC Campus. Tickets are $15-$50, available from 415-454-6264. www.acteva.com/go/aacm 

Kugelplex performs Klezmer at 9:30 p.m. at Albatross, 1822 San Pablo Ave. Cost is $3. 843-2473.  


Tim O’Brien, mountain music at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage Coffee House. Cost is $18.50 in advance, $19.50 at the door. 548-1761.  


West African dance Music at 9:30 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $12. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

Crazy Brother Resistance with Jouvert at 9:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $17. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

Vaughn-Lee Stephens Group at 8 p.m. at The Jazz House. Donations of $8-$15 suggested. 649-8744.  


JRhonda Benin and Soulful Strut at 8:30 p.m. at Downtown. 649-3810.  

Samantha Raven at 7:30 p.m. at Nomad Cafe, 6500 Shattuck Ave. 595-5344.  


Bay Area Ska All Ages Show at 9:30 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $8. 841-2082. www.starryplough.com 

Fingertight, Thought Crime at 9:30 p.m. at Blakes on Telegraph. Cost is $10. 848-0886. www.blakesontelegraph.com 

Artimus Pyle, Sunday Morning Einsteins, Born/Dead 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. 

Exegesis at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 848-8277. 



“Tilden Visions” Reception for artist Sheila Sondik from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. at the Environmental Education Center, Tilden Park. 525-2233. 


Traveling Jewish Theater, “Dybbuk” at 2 p.m. at Julia Morgan Theater. Tickets are $22-30. 925-789-1300.  


Chamber Music Sundaes with musicians from San Francisco Symphony performing Dvorak, Bartok and Hummel at 3:15 p.m. at St. John’s Presbyterian Church, 2727 College Ave. Tickets are $7-$18, available at the door. 415-584-5946. 

Harp Music from Around the World at 4 p.m. at St. Mary Magdalene Church, 2005 North Berryman St. Tickets are $5-$15. 415-554-9600. 

Novello Quartet performs Haydn’s op. 50 string quartets, on period instruments at 4 p.m. at Skyline Community Church, 12540 Skyline Boulevard, Oakland. Tickets are $15. 531-8212. www.skylineucc.org 

Meta Man at the 1923 Teahouse at 8 p.m. Suggested donation of $7-$15, no one turned away for lack of funds. 644-2204. www.epicarts.org 

Americana Unplugged: Pete Madsen at 5 p.m. at Jupiter. 848-8277. 

Sambada and Soul Majestic at 9 p.m. Ashkenaz. Cost is $12. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

The Pit of Fashion Orchestra at 8:30 p.m. at Downtown. 649-3810.  



Al Molina’s “Latin Jazz Sextet” at 8 and 10 p.m. at Yoshi’s at Jack London Square. Cost is $10. 238-9200.  


ACME Observatory Contemporary Performance Series Concert, featuring Ignaz Schick, electronics and turntables, solo and in a trio with Tom Djll, trumpet, and Matt Ingalls, clarinet, at 8:15 p.m. at The Jazz House, 3192 Adeline at Martin Luther King Jr. Way. Admission is free, donations accepted. 649-8744. http://music.acme.com 

A Paperbark Writer Talks of Trees That Go ‘Oof!’

By RON SULLIVAN Special to the Planet
Tuesday May 25, 2004

Melaleucas are blooming now; there’s a double row of Melaleuca linariifolia on Jefferson Street, on both sides of its intersection with Bancroft, and a nice row of them by the BART tracks on Masonic in Albany, among others. They look nifty in rows, with their profusion of tiny white flowers mounding the edges of the rounded crowns. One of their English names is “snow-in-summer,” a name shared with an easy herbaceous groundcover, Cerastium tomentosum. They look a little odd together, though, because they have such different color palettes: The tree is pale tan and slightly olive-ish green with creamy flowers, and the herb is silvery and cold white.  

The other English name of the melaleucas on Jefferson street is “flaxleaf paperbark.” The leaves are small, thin, and stiff—almost prickly—and the bark is pale and very odd indeed. If you find one of these trees, touch it—poke it, in fact. The bark is thin and papery and exfoliates in bits and layers, but there’s so much depth to it that it feels densely foam-rubbery, much bouncier than cork. You press it and half expect the tree to object: “Oof!” It’s half the fun of knowing the tree. 

That bark, though it looks like so much tinder, functions to protect the tree against fire, rather the way redwood bark does. Melaleucas are members of an Australian genus, mostly, and like eucalypts they have learned how to survive wildfires—in fact, fire is one of the conditions that select for melaleucas as opposed to other species. They tend to like wetter conditions that most eucs, though, so they compete better in marshy spots back home. They’re members of a taxon that stayed with Australia when the Gondwanaland supercontinent broke up, along with eucs and banksias and those other odd things like casaurinas. (It amazes me sometimes, how many of the Gondwana species thrive here—makes the place seem like a sort of biological antique shop.)  

From what I’ve seen, the melaleucas planted most often here are that flaxleaf paperbark and its cousin Melaleuca quinquenervia, cajeput tree. I haven’t heard of their being invasive in California—and they stand little chance of invading our wildlands from the sites I’ve seen them in, surrounded by pavement—but cajeput is certainly a pest back East, especially in Florida. In several states there, it’s an official weed. It’s threatening the Everglades, substituting a practical monoculture of its biologically useless seed-lings for the sawgrass that is the foundation of that incredible, unique environment.  

Another cousin, Melaleuca alternifolia, is the source of that medicinal fad, tea tree oil. It occurs naturally in only a small area of New South Wales, but people have been making plantations of it all over. The yield of oil is scant—one or two percent of the weight of leaves and branches that get distilled—so if the stuff tests out well enough to get really popular, it’s going to take a lot of trees and land. I have found it to be pretty allergenic and straightforwardly irritating when aerosolized (as in a topical spray) myself, so be warned. It certainly smells… effective. 

In California flaxleaf paperbark is popular as a street tree, for good reason. It’s droughty but tolerates water and poor drainage, which we get with our clay soils and aggravate with city conditions like paving and compacting soils. It’s easy on sidewalks, doesn’t buckle them much. It’s short, so it works well under powerlines. And it’s pretty! It seems worth the bit of labor it requires, sweeping up its spent flowers in summer.  

There are 170 to 200 species of melaleucas (the number is disputed, as species are still being described) and some are pretty handsome. Many have flowers that resemble those of bottlebrush—no surprise, as they’re close relatives. It would be interesting to see what others would make it as street trees, though the example of invasive cajeput would suggest caution. Meanwhile, go have a look at the flaxleaf paperbarks in and around Berkeley. They’re handsome as single specimen trees, but the effect of a row of them lining a street is grand. And go ahead; give one a squeeze. 


Justin De'Freitas
Tuesday May 25, 2004

Cartoon by Justin De'Freitas

City Council Faces Gloomy Budget News

Friday May 21, 2004

Thanks to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s recently submitted state budget, Berkeley will likely have to cut an extra $300,000 on top of its $10 million deficit in fiscal year 2005. But if the governor’s word is good, city finances could be structurally sound by 2007. 

City Budget Director Tracy Vesely delivered the mixed bag of news Tuesday night to the City Council, which will consider ways to address the new shortfall at next week’s meeting. 

In other budget-related news at the Tuesday meeting, Vesely warned that lower-than-expected growth in the Consumer Price Index would mean further shortages in city tax funds. Meanwhile, the Berkeley Public Library Board of Library Trustees announced they were asking the council to place a $1.7 million tax measure on the November ballot to preserve library services. 

Also on Tuesday, the council approved a slew of new fees, rejected a resolution calling for decriminalization of prostitution statewide, and gave the green light to the David Brower Center—an ambitious project to build Berkeley’s most “green” building and largest affordable housing complex on the Oxford Street parking lot between Kittredge Street and Allston Way. 

Budget Shortfall 

The city had estimated that its total losses stemming from state takeaways of local revenue would amount to $1.6 million this year. But a deal reached last week between Gov. Schwarzenegger and the California League of Cities puts that amount $.3 million higher. However, in return for two years of givebacks by local governments, the deal would constitutionally guarantee repayment of last year’s Vehicle License Fee Backfill Loan to cities and counties in fiscal year 2007, as well as begin repayment that year of other previously deferred state reimbursements. 

For Berkeley, Vesely said that would add up to roughly $1.9 million, nearly enough to wipe out the projected structural budget deficit in 2007. 

However, she cautioned against assuming added state money would soon be flowing into Berkeley coffers. “Long term there’s a lot of uncertainty, we don’t know,” Vesely said. 

Schwarzenegger has pledged to work with the legislature to restore the funds. If that fails, the governor has promised to back a League of Cities November ballot initiative that would require voter approval for any state takeaway of funds earmarked for local governments. 

Vesely delivered more bad news on the 2005 fiscal year budget Tuesday night. While the city had estimated that the Bay Area Consumer Price Index (CPI) would grow two percent last year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics determined that it rose just 0.5 percent. The CPI considers various price indicators including food, clothes, rents and gasoline. Because city tax funds that are tied to increases in the CPI, that means more unexpected shortfalls in the city’s tax revenue.  

The parks tax will lose $160,000 in anticipated revenue from the CPI loss, and the paramedics tax will lose $25,000, Vesely said.  

“We were so shocked [by the federal statistics], staff contacted Washington D.C. and asked ‘are you serious,’” she said. 


Library Tax and Other Tax Measures 

The City Council offered a lukewarm reception to a proposal passed Tuesday morning by the library board of trustees for a 17 percent increase to the library tax to raise $1.7 million in new funds. If the proposal were to go through, the average homeowner would pay an extra $41 per year in library taxes.  

With the city in negotiations with its unions to pay three percent of the city’s contributions to their pension funds this year, Mayor Tom Bates hinted that negotiations with the library workers represented by Service Employees International Union Local 535 weren’t going well.  

“If the union is obstinate, maybe we shouldn’t put this out to voters,” he said. 

Councilmember Dona Spring added, “we can’t ask for this big of increase and not get some concessions from the union.” 

A three percent giveback by the library workers would amount to about $300,000—roughly 18 percent of the proposed tax, City Manager Phil Kamlarz estimated. 

Except for $240,000 that would be earmarked for its literacy program, the proposed library tax increase would pay to restore the library’s budget to buy materials and keep branches open mornings, evenings, and Sundays. Despite steady increases in tax revenues from cost of living adjustments, Library Director Jackie Griffin said the revenue hasn’t kept up with spiraling labor costs, primarily payments to employee retirement pensions. 

Since the money from a new tax wouldn’t be collected until next July, Griffin said that no matter the outcome of a ballot measure, she would have to lay off nine employees and, beginning in July, close libraries on Sundays and rotate evening and morning hours. 

The library tax—originally considered at $1.2 million—is just one of several proposed November tax measures that have increased over original projections. The emergency medical services tax—first estimated at $1 million—is now at $1.2 million and the Clean Water System Tax—first estimated at $1 million—is now at $1.2 million. The Youth Services tax—first proposed at $800,000—is now projected at $1.6 million. 

The increase to the emergency medical services tax comes from $200,000 to improve life support services and the increase in the clean water tax would pay to clean water in creeks that have been unearthed. 

In total the projected tax revenue from the four proposed measures has risen from $4.2 million last month to $5.7 million Tuesday. 

Additionally the council is now considering an increase to the Utility Users’ tax that would raise between $2 and $3 million. 

With the meeting running late Tuesday, the council didn’t discuss the remaining tax measures in depth, but councilmembers did receive a staff report that showed Berkeley property owners taxed themselves higher than their neighbors in Albany and Oakland. For fiscal year 2004 the average Berkeley homeowner paid $523.32 in city voter approved special taxes, compared to $180.92 in Oakland and $200.40 in Albany. 


Budget Public Hearing 

Homeless support groups dominated the first of two public hearings on the fiscal year 2005 budget. About 10 people spoke Tuesday night on behalf of the Berkeley Drop-In Center, which is slated to lose $15,000 in funding. Former director Sally Zinman says the center will need the money to successfully merge with the Alameda County Network of Mental Health Clients. 

The Drop-In Center offers services for mental health patients, who often are also homeless.  

Emmet Hudson echoed the sentiments of other speakers when he told the council that “without the Drop-In Center I would still be on drugs and still having severe mental health issues. It’s the first line of defense for people who have fallen on rock bottom.” 

The merger with the county agency was seen as a cost savings measure to save the program. 

The city budget proposal doesn’t cut overall funding for homeless programs, but it does propose moving $168,000—a portion of which went to the Drop-In Center—to programs that provide housing to at risk residents. 


David Brower Center 

By a 7-2 margin ( Wozniak, Olds, no), the council gave a green light to the proposed David Brower Center, with the caveat that the council hold a public hearing when the city and nonprofit developers Resources for Community Development and the David Brower Center have agreed to a Disposition and Development Agreement expected to be completed by July. 

The $47 million project would transform the city-owned Oxford Street Parking Lot into a consortium for environmental-based nonprofits and 96 units of affordable housing. The environmental groups, along with a restaurant and auditorium, would be housed in a four-story building which its developers hope will be the first on the west coast to achieve a platinum rating from the United States Green Building Council. 

The housing would be in a neighboring six-story building above-ground floor retail that would include outdoor apparel retailer Patagonia and a grocery store. 

Below the buildings, the developers plan to construct a 105 space underground garage, with parking revenues going to the city. 

In all, the city expects to receive about $425,000 a year in revenues from the project—$75,000 more than it currently receives in receipts from the parking lot. 

Critics of the project wanted more money generated from the property. 

“You’re going to kill the whole project by insisting on that housing in the most valuable piece of land that we own,” said Councilmember Betty Olds. The council rejected 7-2 (Olds, Wozniak, yes) her motion to put the project to the voters in November. 

John Clawson, a partner with Equity Community Builder which is managing the development, countered that the housing units known as Oxford Plaza will receive a subsidy of $26,000 per unit from the city’s housing trust fund—lower than typical affordable housing projects. 



The council approved fee increases of 7.8 percent for Tuolumne Camp, 10 percent for services at the city Permit Center, five percent for sewer connections, and five percent for garbage services. 

Opposition was most vociferous to the proposed fee hikes at Tuolumne Camp, where the increases would make the cost of a week’s stay just under $2000 for family of four at the camp just east of Yosemite National Park. 

City Parks and Recreation Director Marc Seleznow told the council the fee increases were needed to comply with a city requirement to make all city camps self-sufficient by fiscal year 2007 and keep the city’s two other camps—Echo Lake Camp and Berkeley Youth Camp—avaiable to low income children. 


Decriminalizing Prostitution 

The Sex Works Outreach Program (SWOP) will continue with the petition drive for a city ballot initiative after the City Council balked at a resolution from Councilmember Dona Spring to urge the state to decriminalize prostitution. Had the council passed the resolution, SWOP would have withdrawn their measure, which also calls for Berkeley police to make enforcement of prostitution laws a low priority. 

Although most councilmembers expressed support for decriminalizing or legalizing prostitution, they instead chose to send it for review to the city’s Commission on the Status of Women. Should the commission—which has historically supported the easing rules on prostitution—return it to the council for action before SWOP’s June 21 deadline for submitting signatures for the ballot drive, the sex workers advocacy group could still pull the initiative from the ballot, SWOP’s Stacy Swimme said. 



UC Workers Rally Against Job Cuts

Friday May 21, 2004

Union employees at the University of California’s nine campuses, including Berkeley, turned out Thursday to protest the university system’s attempt to scale back or eliminate their jobs as a way to deal with state budget cuts. 

According to the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union (AFSCME), the UC system currently employees 17,000 service, maintenance and patient care workers whose jobs have been targeted because of budget cuts. Workers, the union and the university are currently re-negotiating the AFSCME contract that is set to expire in June. 

At UC Berkeley, workers and union officials said the cuts have contributed to a general decline in services provided to students as well as a decline in the structural upkeep of the campus. At other campuses that run university hospitals, workers and union officials said the quality of patient care has also declined.  

In the face of recently announced raises for several of the UC’s top executives, both workers and union representatives criticized the university for running a system with mixed priorities. 

“They say cut back, we say fight back!” shouted protesters who stood outsider California hall, revising an old ‘70s era chant while dressed in green AFSCME shirts and wielding signs and  

banners with messages such as “UC works because we do,” and “What’s good for workers is good for students.”   

As part of the demonstration, workers presented Eric Haemer, director of the physical plant and campus services, and Eddie Bankston, executive director of housing and dining services, with hundreds of signed pledge cards that said workers were united to demand better jobs.  

In an interview before the protest, union representatives cited several particular problems at UC Berkeley, including the janitorial jobs lost when UC Berkeley’s extension in San Francisco shut down last year, along with a number consolidations on the main campus where workers are being forced to do more work for the same pay. They also highlighted pay discrepancy, pointing out that union employees on campus have not received merit based raises since 1999 and have not gotten a cost of living increase since 2002. 

In contrast, according to figures released by the UC Office of the President, several top UC administrators recently received significant raises.  

Paul Schwartz, the spokesman for the UC Office of the President, defended the raises, saying they were a necessity to ensure UC can recruit and retain top candidates. He said UC salaries, overall, have also lagged behind comparable institutions.  

“We have to increase [the salaries] because there is no other way to attract the caliber of person needed to maintain institutional competition,” Schwartz explained. 

According to Schwartz, the university hopes to be able to offer system-wide raises again if Gov. Schwarzenegger’s recently released revised budget plan for UC is successful. He said he was glad AFSCME “shared our concern about maintaining institutional quality” and added the university would welcome any support “they can lend to our effort to secure adequate state funding.” 

But for UC workers, future promises are not good enough. Instead of looking to the future, worker representatives said yesterday they want the university to acknowledge their work and restructure the system so that everyone shares the problems of the budget cuts equally. 

On top of pay, union employees said they also have a number of other demands. They say the current system does not allow for much advancement, trapping some employees in jobs that do not pay well enough to survive on. They also said promotions are often based on favoritism instead of experience. 

Efren Palabrica, a senior maintenance worker on campus, said it took him five years of applying and re-applying to get promoted from the janitorial staff to the maintenance staff.  

“I’m lucky,” he said. He said he has seen others struggle for years, even as qualified candidates, and never get promoted. 

As a result of consolidations in many departments, which increase work loads, union representatives said campuses are falling into disrepair. At UC Berkeley, they said the decreased level of grounds and building maintenance is becoming readily apparent. 

Joe Pulido, a senior building maintenance worker who has worked at the university for 24 years, said his crew went from four to just himself in recent years. Now, instead of doing preventative maintenance to upkeep the building he runs, he said he barely has time to fix the various building components that break. 

Even though he has been a UC employee for 20 plus years, Pulido said he still only makes $39,000, and has to work two other jobs to survive. He said he has also topped out in seniority and has no room for advancement. 

“It’s sort of disheartening for me, said Pulido. “When I came to the university, I was so energetic, I wanted to do everything. But that’s wearing thin now. [Management] doesn’t understand that they have a lot of dedicated people giving out a lot of energy. They think we are money hungry.” 

Union representatives said the workers and union alike are concerned that students are facing rising tuition costs and in return are getting lower service quality. On Wednesday, students learned that the UC regents approved a 14 percent tuition increase for next year as part of the governor’s revised budget plan for the system. At the demonstration Thursday, several students also turned out to show their support. 




Free Speech Defender Dies in UC Accident

By Richard Brenneman
Friday May 21, 2004

Reginald Zelnik, a much-beloved UC Berkeley professor of Russian history and a passionate defender of Free Speech Movement (FSM) activists in the 1960s, died on campus Monday afternoon. He was 68. 

“He was the conscience of the university campus when it came to issues of free speech, and his commitment never varied,” said New York University associate professor Robert Cohen, a Berkeley graduate who collaborated with Zelnik on a magisterial history of the FSM.  

Alameda County Coroner’s investigator Dan A pperson said Zelnik was struck by an Alhambra Water truck. The vehicle was backing up when it struck Zelnik, who was walking in the same direction in front of Moses Hall on South Hall Road east of Sather Gate. 

UC Police Lt. Mitch Celaya said that while t he investigation into the accident is continuing, preliminary evidence indicates that the truck’s backup warning bell was functioning properly at the time of the accident. 

Zelnik had chaired the History Department of the College of Letters and Science fr om 1994 to 1997 and served as vice chair and acting chair several times in the past two decades. 

He chaired UC’s Center for Slavic and East European Studies during the 1970s, and he was walking to the center at the time of his death, according to a famil y friend. 

“He was really very, very special,” said fellow UC history professor Yuri Slezkine. “He was incredibly generous—effortlessly generous. He was an incomparably wise man, both as a historian and as a human being. He was a great scholar, patient an d greatly respected by his colleagues.” 

Slezkine said Zelnik had more students across the country than any other teacher of Russian history. “A lot of people came to Berkeley to study with him. He’s the main reason the university is a major center for hi storians of Russia.” 

A Russian by birth, Slezkine said Zelnik was internationally renowned and highly respected in Russia, both now and during the Soviet era.  

Zelnik wrote numerous books and countless articles. His specialty was late Russian imperial history between the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, with a focus on blue collar workers, “how they lived, how they thought, and how they talked,” Slezkine said. 

Though his academic specialties were Russian and Soviet history, Zelnik was best known around Berkeley for his involvement in Free Speech Movement studies, an interest that began with shortly after his arrival on campus forty years ago. 

As a member of the “Committee of 200” of UCB faculty members forced to support Free Speech Movement acti vists, he fought for greater freedom of speech for students and challenged the repressive measures taken by campus administrators and the board of regents. 

“He was one of those responsible for the December 8 Resolution,” Cohen said. That 1964 measure, ad opted by the Academic Senate by a seven-to-one margin, affirmed the free speech rights of students over the wishes of administrators and UC Regents. 

“Ever since then, he was a defender of free speech rights for both Left and Right, and he took the lead i n defending the right of Jean Kirkpatrick to speak on campus,” Cohen said. 

Kirkpatrick, an outspoken hardline conservative appointed as ambassador to the United Nations by President Ronald Reagan, had been targeted by campus radicals intent on disrupting her appearance on campus. 

During the FSM era Zelnik formed what would become a lifelong friendship with Mario Savio, the best-known FSM activist.  

“Reggie was a leader of the faculty in support of the Free Speech Movement,” said Lynn Hollander, an FSM activist who was married to Savio until his death and worked with Zelnik on his history of the FSM. “He was instrumental in organizing the young Turks on the faculty. 

“I really can’t say anything more now,” she said, her voice resonant with grief.  

UC C hancellor Robert M. Berdahl called Zelnik’s death “a terrible tragedy for the campus.” 

“As a young faculty member in 1964 he courageously defended students during the Free Speech Movement,” Berdahl said, adding that he “was an extraordinarily popular pr ofessor. . .and a personal friend of mine.” 

“He was a wonderful man and an activist,” said Harold Adler, curator of the Free Speech Cafe on the UC campus. “He helped us get going. He was a brilliant man, a nice guy.” 

Adler said he last spoke to Zelnik w hen both were participating in a reading at Cody’s Books. “What a horrible, tragic loss. He’ll be missed by a lot of people.” 

“Oh, shit! This is just terrible,” sighed Todd Gitlin when a reporter informed him of Zelnik’s death. A former Berkeley activist and now a professor of journalism and sociology at the Columbia University School of Journalism, Gitlin said Zelnik “was a wonderful human being, a man of impeccable integrity, always respectful and clear-headed,” 

“I saw him in Berkeley in March and we agreed to meet in Dallas later this year at a conference on the Free Speech Movement.” 

After a moment’s pause Gitlin said, It’s horrible. I’m shaking. He was a dear, dear man and an honor to the university.” 

In addition to his personal defense of Free S peech Movement activists, Zelnik was a scholar of the movement, and co-editor of the definitive text on the era, The Free Speech Movement: Reflections on Berkeley in the 1960s. 

Cohen said the collaboration began when he organized a 1996 session of the Am erican Historical Association on Mario Savio shortly after the activist’s death. 

“It was originally going to be a small collection, but when people heard Reggie was working on it, they all wanted to contribute,” Cohen said. “That’s how it grew to over 50 0 pages.” 

Cohen said Zelnik’s contribution, a chapter on the faculty’s part in the Free Speech Movement, “is the best piece ever written on the role of faculty in an student movement. Because the media portrayed the events in Berkeley as a student revolt, people didn’t realize it was also a faculty revolt. 

“It was fabulous to work with him on this. He was a brilliant historian, very thoughtful and fair-minded, a fabulous editor, and he had a great sense about how to write history.” 

Cohen was nine years old in 1964, and hadn’t taken a course from Zelnik during the years he was earning his doctorate in American history at Cal. 

“The fact that he could write American history as well as he wrote Russian history was a testament to his brilliance,” Cohen sai d. “I know I couldn’t write Russian history.”  

Cohen said news of his colleague’s death “has been so upsetting. It’s been good to have a chance to talk about it.”  

Zelnik was born May 8, 1936, in New York City. He joined the Navy after receiving his bachelor’s from Princeton in 1956, and enrolled two years later at Stanford, where he received a master’s in 1961 and a doctorate five years later. 

He is survived by his spouse, Elaine, a son, Michael of Oakland, a daughter and son-in-law, Pamela Zelnik and Mark Stuhr, a five-year-old grandson, Jaxon Zelnik-Stuhr, all of the Berkeley, and a brother, Martin, who lives in New York. 

No memorial services have been set, though a family friend said the event will be scheduled to enable his many friends and co lleagues from across the country to attend. à

Berkeley This Week Calendar

Friday May 21, 2004


Community Protest Against the Mass Destruction of Rafah, Gaza Strip at 5 p.m. at the Downtown Berkeley Bart Station at Shattuck and Center. Sponsored by the Middle East Children Alliance (MECA), American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, San Francisco (ADC-SF), and more. For more information contact Uda Walker at 548-0542. 

City Commons Club Noon Luncheon with Kaiping Peng, Prof. of Psychology, on “Cultural Ways of Thinking.” Luncheon at 11:45 a.m. for $12.50, speech at 12:30 p.m., at the Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant St. For information and reservations call 526-2925 or 665-9020. 

California Higher Education Budget Cuts A public hearing with The California Assembly Committee on Higher Education and Assemblymembers Wilma Chan, Loni Hancock, Ellen Corbett, Mark Leno, Carol Liu & Darrell Steinberg from 10 a.m. to noon at International House, University of California, 2299 Piedmont Avenue at Bancroft Way. www.democrats.assembly.ca.gov/keepthepromise 

Evening with George Lakoff, Prof. Linguistics, UC Berkeley, author of “Moral Politics: What Conservatives Know that Liberals Don’t,” at 7 p.m. at First Congregational Church, 2345 Channing Way. Sponsored by Wellstone Democratic Club. 418-2760. www.democraticrenewal.us 

“We Are Everywhere: The Irresistible Rise of Global Anticapitalism” with Andrew Stern and Jennifer Whitney who recently returned from Iraq, at 8:30 p.m. at the Long Haul Infoshop, 3124 Shattuck Ave.  

Street Skills Class for Cyclists Street Skills is a bicycle safety class for experienced and beginning cyclists from 6 to 9:30 p.m. followed by an all-day on and off bike practical skills session on May 22. Cost is $20, pre-registration required, 549-RIDE (7433). Funding for these classes is made possible through a generous grant from the City of Berkeley. 

Nature Sound Recording Workshop, presented by the Oakland Museum of California and the National Park Service. Workshop runs through Sunday. Cost is $185-$210. 238-7482. www.naturesounds.org 

Tilden Sunset Hike A hike down Laurel Canyon, up Wildcat Peak for sunset, and back along the ridge. Meet at 6 p.m. at Inspiration Point on Wildcat Canyon Road with warm layered clothing, flashlight and snack to share. Sponsored by Solo Sierrans, you need not be a member to attend an activity. 601-1211.  

Spanish Literacy Night at the Berkeley YMCA, 2001 Allston Way, from 7 to 9 p.m. with a special Latin American music performance with Grupo Colibri at 7:45 p.m. 665-3271.  

Berkeley Opera Fundraiser to support the premiere of Suprynowicz’s “Caliban Dreams” at 8 p.m. at Le Theatre, 1919 Addison St. Dinner and performances by tenor John Duykers, soprano/librettist Amanda Moody, and Ancora, of the Piedmont Childrens Choir. Cost is $90. Please RSVP to 444-6232. clarks@igc.org  

Benefit for Immigrant Workers Freedom Ride with a screening of “The Gatekeeper” at 7 p.m. at AK Press Warehouse, 674A 23rd St., Oakland. Donation $8-$20. 208-1700. 

“Icons of the Matrix” a slide presentation by Max Dashú in a benefit for Suppressed Histories, at 6:30 p.m. at Belladonna, 2436 Sacramento St. 883-0600. www.belladonna.ws 

Berkeley Chess Club meets Fridays at 7:15 p.m. at the Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant Ave. Players at all levels are welcome. 652-5324. 

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. 655-6169. www.bpf.org 

Overeaters Anonymous meets at 1:30 p.m. at the Northbrae Church at Solano and The Alameda. 525-5231. 


Himalayan Fair from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. in Live Oak Park, 1300 Shattuck Ave. Authentic Himalayan arts, antiques and modern crafts, live music and dance performances and exotic foods. Donation of $8 benefits humanitarian grassroots pro- 

jects in the Himalayas.  

Same-Sex Marriage: Essential Legal Information About Property, Parentage, and Taxes A free seminar from 10 a.m. to noon at the James Irvine Foundation Conference Center, Oakland. Please RSVP to Our Family Coalition at 415-981-1960. 

19th Bay Area Storytelling Festival from 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Sat. and Sun. at Kennedy Grove Regional Rec. Area. A weekend of lively, entertaining and captivating storytelling. Cost for the whole weekend is $52 adults, $40 senior, $29 children under 15; tickets for individual events are also available. 869-4969, 650-952-3397. www.bayareastorytelling.org 

Lost Waterfall in Spring Join a seasonal 3.5 mile trek to Lake Anza as we explore the riparian flora and fauna. Bring a snack to enjoy as you hear the story of the waterfall that isn’t here. Meet at 1 p.m. at Tiden Nature Center. 525-2233. 

Kids Garden Club We will design and carry out our own scientific experiments and learn by doing, from 2 to 4 p.m. at Tilden Nature Center, Tilden Park. For ages 7-12. Cost is $3, registration required. 525-2233. 

Berkeley Historical Society Walking Tour “Thousand Oaks” led by Susan Cerny from 10 a.m. to noon. 848-0181. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/histsoc/ 

Berkeley Bicycle Boulevard Tour Meet at Constitution Plaza above the downtown Berkeley BART at 1 p.m. Wear a helmet and bring water. 827-7483. 

Edible Landscaping with Karen Talbott from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Ecology Center, 2530 San Pablo Ave. Cost is $10-$15. 548-2220, ext. 233. www.ecologycenter.org 

Agricultural Roots Fair from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Laney College Channel Park, between 10th and 7th Sts. With food, music, children’s activities and information about healthy eating, school gardens, local farms and more. 550-4945. www.sagecenter.org 

Relay for Life Runners, walkers, volunteers and cancer survivors are invited to the fifth annual El Cerrito/Berkeley/Richmond/Albany/Ken-sington Relay For Life at 9 a.m. to 9 a.m. Sun. at El Cerrito High School, 540 Ashbury Avenue, El Cerrito. To participate call 524-9464. jsbayat@comcast.net 

“Writers: Ready for Progress?” A free session with Elizabeth Stark and Nanou Matteson, at 5 p.m. at Boadecia's Books, 398 Colusa Avenue at Colusa Circle, Kensington. www.bookpride.com 

Saturday Night Sing-Along for all ages. Bring your family, neighbors and friends for an evening of campfire classics, silly and serious songs, rounds and movement activities. At 7 p.m. at 1216 Solano Ave. at Talbot, Albany. Sponsored by the Albany YMCA. Cost is $3 for adults, $2 for children. 525-1130. 

Car Wash Benefit for Options Recovery Services of Berkeley, held every Sat. from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Lutheran Church, 1744 University Ave. 666-9552. 

“Your Child’s Ayurvedic Constitution” Learn how your child’s body type determines their disposition, behavior and health, from 2 to 4 p.m. at Yoga Mandela, 2807 Telegraph Ave. Cost is $55-$60. 486-1989. 

“The Dark Side of the Moon” from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at The Dream Institute of Northern California, 1672 University Ave. Cost is $85, includes lunch. 845-1767. 


Himalayan Fair from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. in Live Oak Park, 1300 Shattuck Ave. Authentic Himalayan arts, antiques and modern crafts, live music and dance performances and exotic foods. Donation of $8 benefits humanitarian grassroots projects in the Himalayas.  

Friends of Albany Seniors Annual Pancake Breakfast, a fund raiser, from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Albany Senior Center, 846 Masonic Ave. It will be cooked by volunteers from the Albany Firefighters. The meal will consist of pancakes, sausages, eggs, orange juice and coffee. 

Berkeley Boating Safety Day at the Berkeley Marina, from 10 a.m. on with free tours of a Coast Guard rescue boat and demonstrations of flares, fire extinguishers, life jackets and life rafts. Overboard recovery demonstrations will begin at 1 p.m., and the helicopter demonstration at about 2:15 p.m. A free hot dog and chili feast will be hosted by the OCSC Sailing School at 4 p.m. The event is co-sponsored by the Berkeley Yacht Club, the City of Berkeley Marina, and the OCSC Sailing School.  

La Place du Marché, a traditional French marketplace, fundraiser for East Bay French-American School, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 1009 Heinz Avenue and 9th St. Admission is $7, children 12 and under are free. www.ebfas.org 

Haitian Flag Day Celebration with video documentaries and a poetry reading at 7 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center, 3105 Shattuck Ave. Cost is $7-$12 sliding scale. 849-2568.  

On the Bluebird Trail Climb briskly up and over Wildcat Peak to hike a portion of our bluebird nestbox trail. Help with our nesting bird survey, and enjoy great views on this hilly, 3-mile hike. Bring water and snack. Meet at Tilden Nature Center at 10 a.m. For ages 10 and up. 525-2233.  

Mini-Gardeners A garden exploration program for ages 4-6 accompanied by an adult, from 2 to 3:30 p.m. at Tilden Nature Center. Fee is $3. Registration required. 525-2233. 

Free Sailboat Rides between 1 and 4 p.m. at the Cal Sailing Club in the Berkeley Marina. Bring warm waterproof clothes. www.cal-sailing.org 

“Voices Against Violence” short videos by survivors and witnesses of violence, at 3 p.m. at Parkway Theater, 1834 Park Blvd. Oakland. Sponsored by the Center for Digital Storytelling. 653-2580. www.storycenter.org 

Learn Sufi Dances of universal peace at 7 p.m. at Unitarian Universalist Church, 1 Lawson Rd., Kensington. Donations accepted. 526-8944. 

“The Bionic Woman: How Far Can We Go with Biotech?” is the topic for experts in biotechnology and ethics at the Berkeley Cybersalon, at 6 p.m. at the Hillside Club, 2286 Cedar St. $10 donation at door. 527-0450. www.berkeleycybersalon.com  

Maya Music Festival in support of children and adults with disabilities at 2 p.m. at the Richmond Convention Center, 403 Civic Center Plaza, Richmond. Admission is $5. 620-6788. 

“The Teaching of Sri Eknath Easwaran” with Michael Nagler at 9:30 a.m. at Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley, 1 Lawson Rd., Kensginton. 525-0302. 

“One with the Tree of Life” painting workshop for women from 1 to 5 p.m. at Belladonna, 2436 Sacramento St. Cost is $65 plus $35 for materials. 883-0600. www.belladonna.ws 

“Psyche and Spirit” presented by The East Bay Chapter of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists at 7 p.m. at Chochmet Ha'Lev, 2215 Prince St. Cost is $15. 526-0711. 

Berkeley City Club free tour from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Tours are sponsored by the Berkeley City Club and the Landmark Heritage Foundation. Donations welcome. The Berkeley City Club is located at 2315 Durant Ave. For group reservations or more information, call 848-7800 or 883-9710. 

“Transitions: Embracing Menopause” from 1 to 3:30 p.m. at Yoga Mandala, 2807 Telgraph Ave. Cost is $30-$35. 486-1989. 

Commemoration of Cambodian Martyrs and Survivors, a special service at 10 a.m. at St. Cuthbert’s Episcopal Church, 7900 Mountain Blvd., Oakland. The film “The Killing Fields” will be shown at 7 p.m. StCuddy@aol.com 

Tibetan Nyingma Open House from 3 to 5 p.m. with prayer wheel and meditation garden tour, yoga demonstration, and information on classes at the Tibetan Nyingma Institute, 1815 Highland Pl. 843-6812. www.nyingmainstitute.com 

Tibetan Buddhism with Lama Palzang and Pema Gellek on “Ways of Enlightenment” at 6 p.m. at the Tibetan Nyingma Institute, 1815 Highland Pl. 843-6812. www.nyingmainstitute.com 


Teaching Credential Program Fair from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Alameda County Office of Education, 313 W. Winton Avenue, Hayward. Learn first hand about university intern programs, credentialing process, testing requirements and more. 670-4163. 

Tea at Four Enjoy some of the best teas from the other side of the Pacific Rim and learn their cultural and natural history. Then take a walk to see nesting birds and flowering shrubs, from 4 to 5:30 p.m. at Tilden Nature Area, in Tilden Park. Registration required. Cost is $5 for residents, $7 for non-residents. Wheelchair accessible. 525-2233. 

“Schwarzenegger on Workers’ Compensation - Reform or Fraud?” A presentation by Steve Zeltzer, labor and community activist at 7:30 p.m. at Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Hall, Cedar and Bonita Sts. 798-8622. 

Benefit Golf Tournament for youth programs at Oakland’s Sequoyah Country Club. To become a sponsor or participant please call 632-2900. www.sequoyahcc.com 

Fitness for 55+ A total body workout including aerobics, stretching and strengthening at 1:15 p.m. every Monday at the South Berkeley Senior Center. 981-5170. 

Baby Yoga at 11 a.m. and Yoga and Meditation for Children at 2:45 p.m. at Belladonna, 2436 Sacramento St. 883-0600. www.belladonna.ws 

Berkeley CopWatch organizational meeting at 8 p.m. at 2022 Blake St. Join us to work on current issues around police misconduct. Volunteers needed. For information call 548-0425. 


Morning Birdwalk Meet at 7 a.m. just past the kiosk at the Bear Creek Rd. entrance of Briones. 525-2233. 

Return of the Over-The-Hills Gang Hikers 55 years and older who are interested in nature study, history, fitness, and fun are invited to join us on a series of monthly excursions exploring our Regional Parks. Today we’ll hike in Morgan Territory, enjoy grand vistas, sandstone mortars, and spring flowers. Meet at 10 a.m. at staging area on Morgan Territory Rd. Registration required 525-2233. 

Birding by Bike on the MLK Shoreline, Arrowhead Marsh. Now that the migrants are gone, see who stayed behind to raise their babies. We’ll look for Clapper Rails at the pier, then ride around the marsh to search for elusive owls. Bring your bike and a helmet. Meet at the last parking lot, by the observation deck at the end of the driveway off Swan Way at 4 p.m. For information or to reserve binoculars call 525-2233. 

Council Workshop on UCB’s Long Range Development Plan at the Planning Commission at 5 p.m. in City Council Chambers. Copies of the plan and the draft Environmental Impact Report are available at http://lrdp.berkeley.edu 

Quit Smoking Class offered by the City of Berkeley for residents and employees on Tuesdays from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the North Berkeley Senior Center. To register, call 981-5330. 

Tikkun Leyl Shavuot from 6:30 p.m. to dawn. Over 40 Rabbis and Scholars, whose backgrounds range from Orthodox to secular, will be teaching to several hundred participants. All ages welcome. Free. Jewish Community Center, 1414 Walnut St. 925-979-1998. 

David Harris and others in an evening of politics and entertainment at 8 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $10. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

Wilderness Survival and Outdoor Safety with Gene Ward, U.S. Air Force global survivial instructor and wilderness guide, at 7 p.m. at REI, 1338 San Pablo Ave. 527-4140. 

Organic Produce at low prices sold at the corner of Sacramento and Oregon Streets from 3 to 7 p.m. 843-1307. 

Tuesday Tilden Walkers We are a few slowpoke seniors who walk between a mile or two each Tuesday, meeting at 9:30 a.m. in the Little Farm parking lot. To join us, call 215-7672.  

Phone Banking to ReDefeat Bush on Tuesdays from 6 to 9 p.m. at Cafe de la Paz, 1600 Shattuck Ave. Bring your cell phones. Please RSVP if you can join us. 233-2144. dan@redefeatbush.com 

Berkeley Camera Club meets at 7:30 p.m., at the Northbrae Community Church, 941 The Alameda. 548-3991. www.berkeleycameraclub.org 

St. John’s Prime Timers meets at 9:30 a.m. at St. John’s Presbyterian Church, 2727 College Ave. 845-6830. 

Goddess Grace Moving Meditation at 10 a.m. at Belladonna, 2436 Sacramento St. Cost is $7-10, bring a yoga mat or blanket. 883-0600. www.belladonna.ws 

East Bay Theology on Tap meets to discuss “The Devil Made Me Do It” with Francis X. Mcaloon at 7 p.m. at 4092 Piedmont Ave. Contact Norah at St. Leo the Great 654-6177. 


Volunteer Coaches Needed for Twilight Basketball, for the 13-15 year-old division on Saturdays at 5 p.m. beginning June 26. Please call Ginsi Bryant at 981-6678. 


City Council meets Tues., May 25 at 5 p.m. to discuss UC Berkeley’s Long Range Development, and at 7 p.m in City Council Chambers, Sherry M. Kelly, city clerk, 981-6900. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/citycouncil 

Parks and Recreation Commission meets Mon., May 24, at 7 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center. Deborah Chernin, 981-6715. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/commissions/parksandrecreation 

Solid Waste Management Commission Mon., May 24, at 7 p.m., at 1201 Second St. Becky Dowdakin, 981-6357. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/commissions/solidwaste 

Citizens Budget Review Commission meets Wed., May 26, at 7 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center. 981-7041. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/commissions/budget 

Civic Arts Commission meets Wed., May 26, at 6:30 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center. Mary Ann Merker, 981-7533. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/commissions/civicarts 

Energy Commission meets Wed., May 26, at 6:30 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center. Neal De Snoo, 981-5434. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/commissions/energy 

Mental Health Commission meets Wed., May 26, at 6:30 p.m., at 2640 Martin Luther King, Jr. Way. Harvey Turek, 981-5213. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/commissions/mentalhealth  

Planning Commission meets Wed., May 26, at 7 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center. Ruth Grimes, 981-7481. www. 


Police Review Commission meets Wed., May 26, at 7:30 p.m. at the North Berkeley Senior Center, Barbara Attard, 981-4950. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/commissions/policereview 

Zoning Adjustments Board meets Thurs., May 27 at 7 p.m., in City Council Chambers. Mark Rhoades, 981-7410. www.ci. 

berkeley.ca.us/commissions/zoning w

Emeryville Gives First Nod to Pixar Expansion

By Jakob Schiller
Friday May 21, 2004

EMERYVILLE—In a unanimous vote Tuesday night in front of a divided community, the Emeryville City Council passed a resolution to help movie giant Pixar Animation Studios take a major step towards tripling the size of its Emeryville campus.  

While Amaha Kassa, a local environmental activist with the East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy (EBASE) accused the City Council of being “afraid to ask anything of businesses and as result businesses don’t feel they have to be accountable to the community,” the Emeryville city manager called the council decision “a step in the right direction for other businesses” considering locating in the city. 

At the meeting packed to the walls with community residents, the council heard presentations by city staff and Pixar along with several hours of public comment before adopting, 5-0, a Mitigated Negative Declaration for the expansion project. The decision means that Pixar will not have to file a full Environmental Impact Report (EIR), and is the largest potential city hurdle the project has to pass. 

Pixar wants to add three new buildings plus a six-story parking garage to its present Emeryville campus, expanding from 218,000 square feet to 750,550 square feet. 

The public reaction to the council decision was mixed at the meeting. While some cheered, saying that Pixar has continually shown its commitment to the community, others criticized city officials making concessions to the company without asking Pixar to give concessions in return. 

EBASE’s Kassa said the council’s decision sends “a clear message to Pixar and the public that they don’t support any greater requirements of Pixar. Generally people thought [the Pixar expansion] could be a good thing, but they are also thought it should be important to create standards.” 

EBASE and other environmental groups have called for a full EIR on the project, citing a contention that such a review was necessary to deal with potential community impacts such as increased traffic. An analysis by an independent traffic engineer and a letter from AC Transit, both posted on EBASE’ website, challenge some of the findings in the Negative Declaration. 

But beyond the environmental impacts, EBASE said a full EIR would also force Pixar to respond to needs as stated by Emeryville citizens, rather than the company simply being able to state on its own what it intends to contribute to the community. 

Part of the new land Pixar will expand onto, an EBASE website report says, was slated for 120 new housing units, including 20 percent reserved for low to moderate incomes. 

The EBASE report said their recent study of development in Emeryville found “signs that many residents in the older parts of Emeryville are being displaced due to rising housing costs. This displacement has occurred hand in hand with Emeryville’s commercial transformation and the Pixar project may also indirectly put upward pressure on the local housing market in the Triangle neighborhood,” they said. 

“According to the company’s recent reports, Pixar is in very good financial shape, with over $650 million in cash assets,” EBASE reports on their website. “Compared to these amounts, the benefits the community is asking for are tiny. It’s very unlikely that Pixar would leave town rather than provide them.” 

Tom Carlisle, the facilities director for Pixar, defended the company in his presentation for the City Council Tuesday night, listing a number of Pixar’s community programs. 

“Pixar is very involved in the community,” Carlisle said. “We do it because we like doing it, not because someone is telling us.” Carlisle also listed a number of environmental programs sponsored by the company, including several ride-share and mass transit options that their employees use to cut down on the environmental affects of the company. 

City Manager John Flores openly encouraged the expansion project in his brief summary during the meeting.  

“If you haven’t looked around, the economy is in the tank,” Flores later told the Berkeley Daily Planet. He said the Bay Area has lost 400,000 jobs since 2001. 

On top of their current contributions, the city manager said Pixar has agreed to donate $500,000 to the city after all three of their new construction phases. Flores also said up to $600,000 of the new property tax generated by the expansion will be used towards affordable housing.

Housing Authority Faces Major Cut to Section 8

Friday May 21, 2004

The embattled Berkeley Housing Authority (BHA) took another body blow this week when it learned that it will lose about $200,000 in federal funding, a 12.5 percent cut. 

In a letter received by public housing authorities across the country Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), revealed that it was reducing the administrative fees it pays to administer Section 8 housing units. 

The news is especially tough for the BHA, which has exhausted its reserves in recent years to stay afloat. Although the housing authority has balanced its books this year, it faces looming deficits of $87,000 in 2006 and $156,000 in 2007. 

“This [cut] is the outer limits of what’s survivable for us,” said Berkeley Housing Director Steve Barton. 

HUD’s new formula would reduce the BHA’s administrative budget for Section 8—the federal government’s largest affordable housing program—from $1.8 million to $1.6 million. With staff costs alone gobbling up 1.4 million, Barton said he would likely have to eliminate two or three positions from the 17-member staff and reorganize the agency to keep it afloat. 

News of the funding cut comes on the heels of a blistering report, commissioned by HUD, that charged the housing authority has mismanaged the Section 8 program in Berkeley and routinely failed to comply with HUD regulations.  

Among other problems, the report found that the agency’s three housing representatives were responsible for overseeing 1,800 housing vouchers, double the average workload. 

Barton said the housing authority has already begun to redeploy employees to implement HUD recommendations, but that layoffs could complicate the reform effort. 

Announcement of HUD’s new formula for administrative fees, which stems from a congressional appropriations bill signed last January that capped fee increases, came as little surprise to several area housing directors. 

“We knew that the language was there and we’ve been staring at it for months” said Ophelia Basgal, director of the Alameda County Housing Authority. She said she had corresponded with directors of housing authorities throughout the state and that every authority reported cuts of at least 10 percent to their Section 8 budgets. 

Under the previous formula, the BHA received a monthly administrative fee of $76 for the first 600 vouchers it rented, and $71.96 for the remaining vouchers up to the agency’s 1,841 voucher limit. Under the new pro-rated plan, the housing authority will only receive $64.01 per voucher. 

In addition to the new administrative fee formula, HUD has also alerted housing authorities that it will not cover increased rents on Section 8 units for the next year. Barton said the new policy doesn’t appear likely to affect Berkeley because rents have been stable. 

However, Berkeley voucher holders remain vulnerable to future cuts. President George W. Bush’s proposed new budget recommends a $1.6 billion cut to the voucher program. In addition, last month, HUD announced that it is basing funding for next year’s voucher program on the total number of vouchers housing authorities had rented by last August. For Berkeley, that means the BHA Section 8 program would be underfunded by nearly 400 vouchers. HUD has given assurances that authorities can appeal for more funding, but whether or not the BHA will receive full funding remains uncertain. 

Should the federal government cut funds, the BHA could be forced to either offer fewer vouchers or force tenants to make sacrifices, including paying a higher percentage of their rent or moving into cheaper apartments. 






Brower Center Built on Innovative Funds

Friday May 21, 2004

To honor the legacy of Berkeley-born environmentalist David Brower, architects of the complex that will bear his name are using state-of-the-art “green” building techniques, while next door on the site, affordable housing developer Resources for Community Development (RCD) is employing the most innovative financing plan Uncle Sam has to offer. 

To fund 96 units of affordable family housing—the most under one roof in Berkeley—RCD is using 24 project-based Section 8 housing vouchers from the Berkeley Housing Authority as collateral to leverage $1.5 million from a private lender, said RCD Executive Director Dan Sawislak. 

With a weak economy and a high federal deficit drying up traditional sources of funding for nonprofit developments, the leveraging scheme has increased in popularity since the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development established it four years ago. However, even some of its staunchest supporters fear that with the federal housing budget under siege, the leveraging program might prove to be as sustainable as a Styrofoam cup. 

Under the leveraging program, the Section 8 vouchers guarantee RCD a market rent for the 24 apartment units. With the guaranteed revenue stream, RCD can leverage a larger loan from a private lender. That means it needs less money from the city’s housing trust fund, which is freed up to fund other projects. 

Project-based vouchers gained an unfavorable reputation nationwide from a discontinued HUD program in the ‘70s and early ‘80s that funded some cheaply made buildings and often didn’t include controls to make sure they were well maintained, or accessible to the disabled. The current incarnation of the program, however, has so far won favorable reviews. 

“People in the housing world think it’s generally a really good thing,” said Linda Couch, deputy director of the National Low Income Housing Coalition. Standard subsidies alone don’t allow most affordable housing complexes to serve extremely low income tenants, she said, but with Section 8 units—required by law to house three-quarters of tenants who make less than 30 percent of median income—more elderly and disabled are able to find homes. 

So far this year, Berkeley has only used 18 vouchers to help fund affordable housing projects, but more are on the way. The city has committed a total of 93 vouchers to three upcoming projects by Affordable Housing Associates in addition to those set aside for Oxford Plaza. Only nonprofit developers are eligible for the vouchers, and the city can’t devote more than 20 percent of its vouchers to projects.  

Developers receive the vouchers when individual Section 8 tenants voluntarily leave the program, Berkeley Housing Director Steve Barton said. 

Although Berkeley still has room to expand the program, nationally there are already warnings of an untimely demise. With the federal government contemplating massive cuts to the Section 8 program, Wanda Remmers, executive director of Berkeley-based Housing Rights, said that in recent months some banks have pulled back because it’s unclear if HUD will continue to pay for the vouchers. 

“Right now the whole world of Section 8 vouchers is on quicksand,” Remmers said. Although Remmers supports the concept of program-based vouchers, she questioned if the climate was right to do it in Berkeley. 

“I don’t think it’s prudent to go into construction with a nonprofit when you don’t know how much money you have,” she said. 





Clinic Celebrates 35 Years

By Richard Brenneman
Friday May 21, 2004

Formed to provide free treatment for the injuries inflicted on protesters during the People’s Park riots of 1969, the Berkeley Free Clinic is still going strong 35 years later and looking for volunteers from years past to help them celebrate their anniversary. The private celebration will be held during the upcoming Memorial Day weekend. 

“We pride ourselves on not having evolved at all in terms of the core values of the original founders,” said Catherine Swanson, who is coordinating the anniversary fete. “Some services have been added, some have died, and some have spun off, but the original vision remains constant. Our commitment to that original vision makes us very unique, our anti-establishment raison d’être.” 

The clinic shares space with the Trinity Methodist Church at 2339 Durant Ave. and can be reached by telephone Mondays through Fridays from 3-9 p.m. at 548-2570. 

An estimated 10,000 visitors a year call or drop by the clinic to avail themselves of the various services. 

“We’re one of the last clinics in the country to remain truly free,” Swanson said. The Bay Area’s best-known counterpart, the Haight-Ashbury Free Clinic, recently began asking patients for donations based on their ability to pay. 

The clinic is funded by an all-volunteer staff. “There are about 200 of us at any given time, and there have been thousands over the years,” Swanson said. Current volunteers include about 20 physicians and nurses. “People don’t understand that we provide services to all comers, regardless of ability to pay. We’re very pluralistic. A lot of people think we only serve one group, like the homeless, but we’re here for everyone.” 

The clinic’s funding comes from three principal sources, each contributing about one-third of their annual budget: government grants, foundation grants, and donations from the general public. 

“We can always use money,” Swanson said, “but we need volunteers, too,” adding that anyone considering a volunteer stint with the clinic is welcome to attend the monthly All-Clinic Orientations, held the third Monday of each month at 7:30 p.m. Swanson herself has been a regular at the clinic for seven years. 

Among the services available are basic medical care, treatment of sexually transmitted diseases, HIV testing, the nation’s most comprehensive hepatitis testing program, peer counseling, an information and referral hotline, and dental care. 

Andrea Zeppa, a long-serving clinic veteran and an organizer of the anniversary fete, said “most people don’t realize that the silent service of the Berkeley Free Clinic is education of members. We have educated hundreds of folks in the basics of medicine, collectivity, counseling, dissident politics—you name it.” 

Zeppa said many volunteers who started without a thought of a medical education have gone on to medical school. 

“The people who have worked here over the years are amazing,” he said, “and we would like to see them again to talk to them about the history of the clinic and have them help celebrate with us.” 

Past volunteers are urged to contact the clinic about the anniversary events by e-mail at bfc_alumni@yahoo.com. For more information on the clinic, see their website at www.berkeleyfreeclinic.org. 


UC Professors Poll Supports Lab Management

Friday May 21, 2004

An overwhelming number of University of California professors have indicated that they want the university to compete for the management of Lawrence Livermore National Lab and Los Alamos National Lab, according to the results of a faculty poll released Wednesday to the UC Board of Regents. 

Of the 3,271 faculty who responded to the poll, 67 percent favored a bid, 21 percent opposed, and 13 percent took no position. Roughly nine percent favored bidding for Livermore, but not Los Alamos. 

The university has managed the two labs for more than 60 years, but after recent management scandals, President George W. Bush signed legislation mandating the Department of Energy to hold a competition to operate the laboratories. The two labs’ primary mission is the stewardship of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile as well as doing both classified and nonclassified research in the area of such weapons. 

A third laboratory, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab above the UC campus, will also go out to bid this summer, but since the laboratory conducts nearly no classified research, it was not considered controversial and not included in the poll. 

A 1996 survey found 61 percent of the faculty in favor of retaining the labs and a 1990 survey found 36 percent in support. 

“The UC faculty has now given a clear message to the regents and the Department of Energy about our desire to retain the labs within UC,” said Vice Chair of the UC Academic Senate George Blumenthal in a prepared statement. 

For those who were in favor of bidding for the lab contracts, their primary reasons for support included the quality and national benefits of the unclassified research and the research collaborations that the labs have with faculty and students. Those opposed cited incompatible missions of the labs and the University of California, as well as concern that UC’s name and reputation are devalued by being associated with the controversial nuclear labs. 



Commissioners Comment On UC Plan

Friday May 21, 2004

After giving residents their third opportunity in three weeks to comment on UC Berkeley’s Long-Range Development Plan, the five members of Berkeley Planning Commission present at Wednesday night’s public hearing offered a few comments of their own to listening UC representatives. 

The plan, along with a Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) released last month, guides future university development both on the central campus and on city streets through 2020. It projects 2,600 new dormitory beds, 2,300 new parking spaces, and an additional 2.2 million square feet of administrative space, along with 5,320 more students, faculty, staff and visitors traveling to the campus daily. 

With increased traffic a major concern expressed by residents, Commissioner Tim Perry suggested the university consider satellite parking lots with shuttles to the main campus to ease traffic congestion in the city. 

Commissioner Gene Poschman criticized the plan’s call to build up to 800,000 square feet of academic and administrative space on the adjacent city blocks west of campus.  

“Anything they want, they can do in that area. It’s a blank check,” he said. 

Poschman also noted that a proposal to build faculty housing in the Berkeley Hills fell outside the university’s one-mile radius for new housing construction. 

Commissioner Jerome Wiggins told university officials that although no dormitories had been built in South Berkeley, university growth had changed the dynamics of his neighborhood by bringing in more students and displacing longtime residents. Wiggins wanted UC to also consider social justice issues in their long range plan. 

Although the commission did not vote on any formal recommendations, Berkeley Planning Director Mark Rhoades said the commissioners’ individual suggestions would be forwarded to the City Council. 

The university is required to respond to all comments in a final Environmental Impact Report scheduled to go before the UC Board of Regents for approval in the fall. 

—Matthew Artzˇ


Friday May 21, 2004

The story “Residents Blast UCB’s Long Range Expansion Plan” in the May 14 edition mistakenly reported that under UC Berkeley’s long range development plan, over 75 percent of new academic space would be built on the main campus or adjacent blocks. The 75 percent figure only counts the main campus and adjacent blocks to the west. 

Also, the story mistakenly reported that UC Planner Kerry O’Banion said that 95 percent of university research funding has come from “public or non-private sources.” O’Banion actually said the funding came from public or nonprofit sources. 


The Story “Brower Center, Budget Issues on Council Agenda” in the May 18 edition mistakenly identified David Brower as the founder of the Sierra Club. John Muir founded the Sierra Club. Brower was its first executive director.›

Apartment Management Class Helps Women (and Men) To Survive

By Zelda Bronstein Special to the Planet
Friday May 21, 2004

How can a person survive in today’s high-rent, high-unemployment Bay Area, especially when that person is a single mother without a college degree? Indeed, with plenty of highly credentialled types are pounding the pavement in search of work, how do you survive even with a college degree? 

One way, says Berkeley resident Madeline Mixer, is to become an apartment building manager. It’s a part-time job, but your rent’s paid, and you can spend more time with your family. 

Mixer, a labor economist who administered the U.S. Department of Labor’s regional office of the Women’s Bureau in San Francisco from 1962 to 1996, spent a good deal of her own career promoting vocational training that, in her words, helps women “to pay the rent and feed the kids.” Now retired, she continues to pursue that goal. “Once a woman starts working with her hands,” Mixer says, “she can go anyplace and do anything.” 

Last summer, Mixer asked Berkeley resident and veteran plumber Naomi Friedman to teach a short-term class in apartment building management at the Building Education Center in West Berkeley. Friedman agreed, and the first session took place last summer. Fifteen people, including three men, enrolled. 

“It’s not a women-only class,” says Mixer. “The challenge, though, is getting women to enroll….Men will take a class that’s intended for women. They don’ t care!” By contrast, women have to be encouraged to sign up. That’s why Mixer asked Friedman to put her first name in the catalog—“so that women would know that the instructor was a woman.” 

The course covers repairing and installing locks, and basic electrical and plumbing maintenance. “I brought in several buckets of faucets,” says Friedman, “and we took them apart and put them together.” The students learn how to find a building’s utility shut-offs and sewer clean-outs. There’s also a segment on emergency preparedness—what to do in case of a fire or an earthquake. 

In addition, there’s a three-hour session on fair housing law taught by a representative of Sentinel Fair Housing in Oakland, a non-profit organization that helps tenants, owners and managers to understand rental law. 

To make lessons even more vivid, Friedman invites current apartment building managers to share their on-the-job experiences. 

This is a hands-on class with no homework and no tests. Materials and tools are provided by the instructor. Students who complete the course receive two certificates, one from Friedman, the other from Sentinel Fair Housing. On the back of the certificate she hands out, Friedman lists the skills that have been covered in the class. 

Friedman says that “at least four or five out of the thirteen who completed the course last summer got positions as apartment managers. Several decided they didn’t want to do it. This was a good way to find out—much better than finding out on the job.” 

One student who decided she did like it, and who subsequently became an apartment building manager is Glendy Cordero, a thirty-two-year-old single mother with two young daughters. Cordero came to this country from Guatemala over fourteen years ago; for thirteen of those years,  

she’s been working as a housecleaner. 

“From that course,” she says, “I got a lot of changes in my life.” Crodero’s talking about more than her job as a manager. Equally important is a new confidence in her own abilities. “In my culture,” she says, “women are not supposed to be doing these things”—fixing leaky faucets, painting walls, fixing furniture, changing tires. Now, “I’ m not just doing housecleaning. I’ m helping at school. I’ m running our parents’ group. It grows my self-esteem and my kids’self-esteem. They see their mom doing that, and they think they can do it, too.” 

Cordero wants to learn more plumbing and locksmithing. “I see Glendy becoming a locksmith down the line,” says Friedman. 

The next session of the apartment building management class begins on June 8 and has six meetings—two Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., and two Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The Building Education Center is located at 812 Page Street in Berkeley, easily accessible by the No. 72 bus on San Pablo. The cost is on a sliding scale ranging from $250 to $25, depending on need. 

The biggest challenge, say Friedman and Mixer, is getting the word out so that enough students—fifteen—sign up for the class will run. A session scheduled for January had to be canceled due to insufficient enrollment. So far only three have enrolled for the session that begins on June 8. 

Last summer, students came from as far away as Half Moon Bay, Vallejo and Hayward. When asked to account for this far-flung interest, Friedman says that “the only other place where you can get this kind of training is through apartment owners’ associations, where it is expensive and lengthier.” In other words, the Building Education Center course offers a rare opportunity. 

People who are interested in the upcoming class should call Naomi Friedman at 525-1031. 

Police Blotter

Friday May 21, 2004

Jury Convicts Killer of Berkeley Driver 

Lyle Norbert, who three years ago led police on a high speed chase that ended when he plowed his car into an oncoming vehicle, killing the driver, was convicted of second degree murder, possession of hashish and possession of marijuana by an Alameda County jury Wednesday. 

On March 14, 2001, the California Highway Patrol attempted to stop Norbert on I-80 near Richmond for suspicion of driving under the influence. Traveling at speeds in excess of 75 miles per hour, Norbert led the officers into Berkeley, where he ran a red light at Ashby and San Pablo avenues and broadsided a car in the intersection. 


Bank Robber Caught on Film 

Ronald Wayne Tyson is wanted for robbing the Wells Fargo Bank at 1095 University Ave. at approximately 3 p.m. Saturday. 

Tyson is suspected of the commission multiple bank robberies throughout the Bay Area recently. He is considered as “armed and dangerous” and may be staying in local area hotels. 

Tyson, 52, is approximately 5’11’’, weighing 160 pounds with a gaunt build. 

Anyone with information on Tyson’s location is urged to contact the Berkeley Police Robbery Detail at 981-5742 or e-mail police@ci.berkeley.ca.us. 


Bottle Basher and Home Invaders Sought 

Berkeley Police are seeking a robber who bashed a pedestrian over the head with a bottle shortly before 6 p.m. May 11 on San Pablo Avenue at Oregon Street. 

An hour later, three home invasion robbers struck a house on Ward Street near McGee Avenue, brandishing a pistol as they looted the male occupant of his cash and grabbed up other possessions. No arrests have yet been made. 


Undercover Johns Bust 11 Sex Workers 

Following complaints from residents along the San Pablo Avenue corridor, police conducted a late afternoon and evening undercover prostitution sting May 13, collaring 11 suspects ranging in age from 20 to 45. One suspect was also busted on drug and probation violation charges. 


Robber Strikes Twice on Russell 

A strong-arm robber struck twice along Russell Street shortly before midnight on the May 13, police said. The first victim was approached at Russell and Shattuck and managed to escape without loss or injury. Minutes later, the robber struck again, this time at Russell and Adeline Street, making off with a woman’s purse. 


Another Bank Robber Flashes Note, Gets Cash 

Four days after a trio of Berkeley banks were hit by a note-wielding bank robber, a teller at the 1095 University Ave. Wells Fargo branch complied with the note presented by a cap-wearing bandit. 


Four Juvies Busted for Assault, Gun Seized  

Responding to a call about a possible gunshot at Sixth Street and Dwight Way Saturday evening, police pursued fleeing suspects to the 2200 block of Allston Way, where they arrested four juveniles on charges of assault with a deadly weapon. Officers also confiscated a firearm and a car that turned out to have been stolen, said Officer Okies. 


Note-Flashing Bandit Hits Critter Store  

A bald man presented a note to a clerk at Pet Food Express at University and San Pablo Avenue shortly before 4 p.m. Monday, threatening to pull a pistol if he wasn’t given the contents of the till. 

The clerk complied, and the note-taker fled. 


Confronted With Knife, Victim Complies  

A Berkeley woman found herself confronting two men, one brandishing a knife, on San Pablo Avenue near Harrison Street late Monday evening. After she handed over her belongings, the robbers escaped. 


Survey Demonstrates School Tax Support

Friday May 21, 2004

While Berkeley voters seem inclined to support a new tax to boost funding for public schools, they give the school district mixed grades on achievement, according to a school district-commissioned survey released Wednesday. 

Three out of four likely Berkeley voters would support a $6.5 million tax—a $144 per year increase for the average homeowner—and about 70 percent of voters would support an $8 million tax—a $177 per year increase for the average homeowner. 

The survey, conducted by Goodwin Simon Strategic Research, interviewed 600 randomly selected, likely Berkeley voters between May 14 and 18. It has a plus or minus error of four percent. 

“A campaign will be necessary, but probably result in success,” Paul Goodwin, the survey director, told the school board Wednesday. The measure must win two-thirds voter approval in order to pass. 

The district is currently crafting a two-year tax measure expected to range from $6 million to $9 million to fund lower class sizes, more librarians, a stronger music program, teacher training, research and analysis services, and parent outreach programs. The measure will complement the current Berkeley Schools Excellence Program tax, which the district plans to return to voters in 2006. 

Voters backed all of the district’s priorities. Restoring the music program won 81 percent support in the survey, while boosting library services garnered 80 percent approval, reducing class size got 77 percent, and funding teacher training received 71 percent. 

In other good news for the district, 67 percent of those polled said that the amount of money being spent on the school district was too low and 50 percent named a lack of state funding as the district’s most serious problem. 

However, the district earned only a 35 percent positive job rating in the survey and 41 percent negative rating, virtually unchanged since the last survey in 2000. 

Evaluations for the quality of instruction (38 percent positive and 35 percent negative) and spending money efficiently (15 percent positive and 47 percent negative) were also almost unchanged from 2000. 

Surveyed Berkeley voters, however, now give the district much higher ratings for maintaining and repairing school buildings and grounds. Forty-one percent now view the district’s efforts positively compared to 18 percent in 2000. BUSD has renovated every school in the past 12 years. 

Asked to identify their most serious concerns about the district, 57 percent of surveyed voters cited low academic standards, 55 percent cited large class sizes, and 52 percent cited lack of student discipline. 

—Matthew Artz

UnderCurrents: Criticisms Arise Over Siegel’s School Lawsuit

Friday May 21, 2004

The recently filed lawsuit by certain Oakland politicians and taxpayers to try to overturn the state seizure of the Oakland schools has drawn a flurry of criticism and complaint from predictable sources. Me, I’ve always thought that for a man bound hand and foot in a closet, any movement is a good movement. But let’s examine the issue to make sure. 

Sometime last year, the Oakland Unified School District discovered that, in an attempt to bring up the educational standards in the Oakland public schools to a minimally acceptable level, it had inadvertently overspent its budget. The OUSD was given no legal choice but to accept a considerable loan from the State of California, with the added indignity that the state (in the form of State Superintendent Jack O’Connell) stepped in to take control of the operation of the Oakland public schools. 

The California Superior Court lawsuit, filed by attorney Dan Siegel (a member of the Oakland School Board) and representing a small knot of Oakland citizens, some of them recognizable public figures (former School Superintendent Dennis Chaconas, present School Board Member Paul Cobb, and former Oakland City Councilmember and mayoral candidate Wilson Riles, Jr.), names Superintendent O’Connell as defendant. The complaint charges that the school takeover should be overturned because it “represents an unconstitutional abridgement of the rights of the city’s electors under the Oakland City Charter.” 

On to the predictable responses: 

Robert Gammon and Alex Katz of the Oakland Tribune write that State Senator Don Perata, who wrote the legislation that put through the loan and the school takeover “did not return a phone call seeking comment” concerning the lawsuit. This, of course, is no surprise, as Mr. Perata has perfected the habit of bailing on involvement in political issues at the precise point at which they reach a stage that might cause Mr. Perata some political problems (see “Raider deal” for details). 

Mr. Gammon and Mr. Katz then report O’Connell spokeswoman Hilary McLean as saying “we” (presumably she and the state superintendent) are “disappointed by the filing of this lawsuit. It’s our hope that rather than spending precious taxpayer dollars on lawsuits, we can all focus our time and energy where it’s needed the most -improving the schools for Oakland students.” 

One wonders, of course, where Ms. McLean and Mr. O’Connell may have been during the long years when Oaklanders were, in fact, attempting to improve the schools for Oakland students, and when Oaklanders were complaining that the money simply was not available to do such simple things as pay the teachers a decent salary, buy books and supplies for every child, heat the classrooms, and clean the toilets. But we will leave Ms. McLean to her disappointments, and move on. 

Then comes Mr. Chip Johnson, East Bay columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle, writing, at length, that “the lawsuit is disappointing [there’s that word again; it seems Oaklanders are making a habit of disappointing people] and suggests a repeat of the petty infighting and internal confusion that paved the road to the district’s collapse.” Mr. Johnson then makes an allegation that Mr. Siegel has “vot[ed] against nearly every cost-reduction plan presented by State Administrator Randy Ward to balance the district budget” and therefore concludes that “given all that’s transpired since the takeover, it’s a long leap of faith to believe that Siegel—or any other school board member—should be given the go-ahead to lead it.” 

Facts, it appears, should never be allowed to get in the way of Mr. Johnson’s conclusions. 

Try as I might, I can find no evidence—whatsoever—that it was “petty infighting and internal confusion that paved the road to the district’s collapse.” But given that we have yet to have a public accounting of what actually led to the district’s takeover (collapse? when did the district collapse? I missed that part), I suppose one can get away with saying anything one wants. 

(This has nothing to do with Mr. Johnson’s comments, by the way, since it occurred after the takeover crisis began rather than before, but what I have always found the most remarkable—and what, in fact, made me proud once more to be an Oaklander—was how the members of the Oakland School Board, each and every one of them, submerged their many differences and presented a united front during the period of the school takeover. There were many ways that the board could have done it wrong in those difficult times, and they did none of them. That was one of our finest moments as a city. That the board has now taken to some internal bickering—with the recent ouster of Board President Siegel and Vice President Greg Hodge—is only a testament to how notable it was their holding together before.) 

The allegation that Mr. Siegel “vot[ed] against nearly every cost-reduction plan presented by state administrator Randy Ward to balance the district budget,” if it is true, overlooks the fact that in the weeks preceding the school takeover, the school board presented a balanced budget to correct the mistake that had been made. When Mr. Ward was appointed by Mr. O’Connell to run the Oakland schools, Mr. Ward explicitly rejected that balanced budget proposal on the grounds that, since he had a $100 million state loan to draw on, a balanced budget was neither necessary nor legally required. You can look up his quotes on the matter in the Tribune, if you’d like. 

Finally, to Mr. Johnson’s conclusion, that it requires a “long leap of faith to believe that Siegel—or any other school board member—should be given the go-ahead to lead” the Oakland Unified School District. Any school board member? It’s sounding, here, very close to an assertion that Oaklanders are too dumb or too corrupt to run our own schools. But I’ll leave that to Mr. Johnson to clarify. 

All that being said, there are two problems with the Siegel-led lawsuit, the first legal, the second, political. 

The Siegel lawsuit is filed on the grounds that Oakland’s status as a charter city—under which the school board was formed—trumps state law. Case law, however, may not support that assertion. There is also the charge that Siegel may be merely using this lawsuit as a way to gain publicity for a possible run for mayor of Oakland. 

But even if both are true, the idea that Oakland has a constitutional basis for a challenge of the school takeover should not be so quickly dismissed. There is considerable fire smoldering beneath this first, small indication of smoke. 

Letters to the Editor

Friday May 21, 2004


Editors, Daily Planet: 

I read with interest that the Berkeley Housing Authority is paying over $400 per unit to manage its 75 units of public housing in the city of Berkeley. I would respectfully submit that there is a source of expertise in the city to manage property for little or nothing, and perform repairs and maintenance at a fraction of their market prices. The Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board knows how to accomplish this feat, and only charges $136 per unit per year to encourage the housing providers of Berkeley to do it.  

Perhaps the Housing Authority could contract with the Rent Board to manage their properties, and the board could subcontract out the work to some of the many hundreds of housing providers who would be happy to get even $200 or $300 a month to manage an apartment unit. These people could even ensure that the units in question pass the requirements of the Berkeley Rental Housing Safety Program, and complete all the paperwork involved in that, and perhaps even arrange for timely maintenance to be done so that major reconstruction is not necessary after 20 or so years. 

With the Rent Stabilization Board in charge, we can be sure that costs will not escalate, the process will be completely fair, and the amount of bureaucracy will be kept to a bare minimum, if we extrapolate from their past record. 

Mike Mitschang 




Editors, Daily Planet:  

Berkeley residents may benefit from the intellectual and cultural resources of the university, but we also are affected by its planning decisions. I hope Daily Planet readers will take the time to check out the university’s new 15-year Long Range Plan (http://lrdp.berkeley.edu) and express their concerns before the comment period ends on June 14. 

Instead of facilitating a reduction of automobile use by faculty and staff, the Long Range Plan provides for a 30 percent increase in parking places on campus, which will ensure a significant increase in traffic and pollution in Berkeley. This is totally unacceptable. Instead of adding parking spaces, the Long Range Development Plan should raise campus parking rates to more than the cost of public transportation to discourage driving to campus. The very substantial amount of money saved by not building and maintaining more parking garages can help subsidize staff and faculty transit passes and support public transit to ensure convenient transportation for faculty, staff, and students and a reduction in traffic jams, accidents, and air pollution. 

For planners at one of the world’s great universities to ignore global warming is simply unacceptable. The UCB Long Range Plan must act upon the clear evidence that global warming is exacerbated by the burning of fossil fuels. Failure to do so, especially in light of efforts already made by the city of Berkeley, UCLA, and Stanford to reduce auto use, would shame the university and represent a tragic loss of the opportunity to reduce air pollution and educate Californians to that necessity. 

Charlene M. Woodcock 




Editors, Daily Planet:  

Rob Wrenn and Andy Katz argue in the May 4-6 Daily Planet that free or discounted transit passes for UC employees would significantly reduce the number of people commuting to campus alone in their cars.  

However, while free bus passes seem politically, emotionally, and environmentally appealing, there doesn’t seem to be much, if any, objective local evidence that would back up the assertion that they get people out of cars in appreciable numbers. In fact, some evidence indicates the opposite. 

The most relevant example is the much-cited Class Pass for UC students, who taxed themselves through a small fee to enable every student to ride AC Transit “for free”. 

What were the results among student commuters? Some students who were previously walking to campus got on the bus instead, using their free bus pass. Some students who were already riding BART to campus stopped buying expensive BART tickets and shifted to the free bus in measurable numbers. Some students who were previously bicycling to campus left the bike at home and got on the bus. These changes all showed up in campus surveys of student commute habits. 

The only group that didn’t seem affected in appreciable numbers were students who drove to campus. Most continued to drive, despite the free 

bus passes. This indicates to me that for those already commuting by some means other than private automobile, a free bus pass was enticing. For those already driving their own cars, it wasn’t enough. Another way to look at this is that one unintended effect of the Class Pass was to further crowd buses with commuters who would otherwise be commuting pollution-free, on foot or by bicycle. 

The same logic might well apply to offering faculty and staff commuters free transit passes. Those bicycling, taking BART, or (like me) walking 

to their UC jobs would be glad to have the option of a free bus pass. Those driving would, most likely, continue to drive because they tend to be driving for reasons other than cost. 

(When considering cost, it is worth noting that a UC staff member currently pays more than $900 per year for what is essentially a “hunting permit” in off-campus UC parking lots. A faculty member pays about $1,300 per year for a similar permit to compete each day for one of the few spaces on the campus proper. These are not insignificant amounts of money, particularly for the lower-echelon staff.) 

Another question worth asking about transit passes is whether there is any reliable statistical evidence to show that the City of Berkeley’s recently instituted “Eco-Pass” for City employees has actually decreased the number or percentage of city staff commuting to work by car, or whether, like the Class Pass, it has mainly subsidized those already riding the bus or walking, bicycling, or using BART? 

If the latter is the case—as I suspect it is—then transit passes should be primarily regarded as rewards for those who already commute “alternatively” rather than a meaningful way to get committed drivers out of their cars. 

Steven Finacom 




Editors, Daily Planet:  

Kevin Powell in his recent opinion piece suggested that Berkeley should learn from Santa Monica. That’s a good idea, because Santa Monica is an interesting and creative urban place. Having recently attended a discussion in Southern California on this topic, I’m particularly interested in it. But we need to learn the real lessons, which are quite the opposite of what Powell stated. 

Powell stated that Santa Monica reopened its pedestrian street—the Third St. Promenade—to cars. Not so. Santa Monica did something much more valuable—they improved it as a pedestrian street. They added public art, provided performance spaces, formed a Business Improvement District to provide revenue for maintenance and publicity. Santa Monica reinvested in its pedestrian realm. Businesses loved it—they flocked to the street. Now the only space left in downtown Santa Monica is on streets long deadened (and still physically menaced!) by the old garages Powell refers to. Reinvesting and improving the pedestrian realm is a good lesson for Berkeley. 

Santa Monica also improved conditions dramatically for bus passengers. On several blocks of downtown streets, it dedicated travel lanes to buses, widened sidewalks, improved waiting areas and installed upgraded informational kiosks. The bus stop signs not only tell you where the bus goes, they give you a map of the system. Businesses were fearful at first, but now support the project. The bus stops are used by both the “Big Blue Bus” (Santa Monica’s award-winning municipal bus service) and regional MTA buses. Santa Monica is also the western end of the famed Wilshire Rapid bus—which provides a ride to Westwood, Beverly Hills and downtown Los Angeles at almost the speed of light rail. Improve transit services and facilities--another good lesson for Berkeley. 

Santa Monica has also brought people within walking distance of 3rd St. and downtown businesses. It has brought permanent residents by welcoming the construction of new housing—both affordable and market rate. Indeed Santa Monica’s largest private developer said that the proximity of restaurants and stores was a big draw—“Walking is sexy.” By supporting the construction of hotels, it has brought thousands of free-spending tourists within walking distance. Make it possible and attractive for people to walk to and in the downtown—another good lesson for Berkeley. 

When Santa Monica’s garages were built—decades ago during the Cheap Oil Age—cars seemed to be the only important mode of transport. Now an increasingly popular and urbane Santa Monica realizes that it must support other modes. That’s a good lesson for Berkeley too. 

Nathan Landauˇ

WWII POW Cites Treatment by Nazis, Need for Geneva Convention Standards

Friday May 21, 2004

Donald Rumsfeld’s alleged comment (“...consistent with the Geneva Convention.”) is familiar to me, as heard from commanders of POW Stalags in Germany in WW-II. They lied to the International Red Cross Protective Power Teams from Geneva assigned to inspect Allied POW camps. Get used to it people! Military establishments lie, “pass the buck” and lie again when ever it is strategically appropriate for the mission at hand. It has always been so, for thousands of years; it is the nature of the beast. 

I was there, 1944-45, along with approximately 80,000 British and American airmen prisoners of war. The German government had signed the Geneva Accord on prisoner treatment and routinely passed the orders down the ranks. As a POW for one year I observed treatment by Werhmacht and Luftwaffe captors ranging from basically consistent with the Geneva Convention to abusive and life threatening, to fatal. 

The guards at the infamous Frankfurt interrogation headquarters terrorized us by allowing giant snarling mastiff attack dogs to come so close I could feel their hot breath and drivel. In August, 1944 several thousand POWs evacuated from Stalag VI were forced to run from the train depot to Stalag IV. They were bitten by dogs and jabbed with bayonets held by young Nazi Marine Youth commanded by a fanatical S.S. Officer. We heard their cries and I saw the wounds. I would not be here today if top German officers had not been good soldiers and obeyed international law and moral judgment by refusing to kill allied POWs as Hitler and the S.S. had desired. 

Shootings, brutality, overcrowded boxcar trips, and food and water deprivation can be cited. Although most of us POWs lived in minimally tolerable conditions, any degree of reasonable treatment was due to selective compliance of the Geneva Accord by various commanders. The attitude and behavior of the guards towards prisoners mirrored that of higher command. Military establishments learn from the past for how to subdue the enemy and more effectively use force again: that is a historical precedent. Apparently in Cuba, Afghanistan, and Iraq, under Bush’s military-industrial-complex (MIC) team, the standards of prisoner treatment have been sharpened to a vengeful ideological zeal: nothing new. 

The Bush higher-ups knew what was going on with the Geneva Convention and prisoner treatment long enough ago to act. Those insults are added to the ineptness and inadequacy of the occupation of Iraqi and Afghanistan that has increasingly turned the Iraqi and Arab society against the U.S. thus adding to the death rate of soldiers and civilians. The abuse and humiliation of Arab captives in a volatile Islamic region may be a calculated strategy and a deliberate ploy to fuel another terrorist act against the U.S.A. at home or elsewhere: exactly what the MIC is expecting before the national elections. We must remove our troops now and turn the rebuilding job over to an United Nations international contingent. 


Berkeley resident Ken Norwood served in aerial combat in World War II. 






Yellow Journalism Stains Third Annual Interfaith Pagan Parade and Celebration

Friday May 21, 2004

Editors, Daily Planet:  

Today, we are ashamed to live in Berkeley. Today, we read an article by your reporter, Richard Brenneman, that completely lets go of something we hold dear: accurate, unbiased reporting. His story (“Pagans on Parade Cavort in Downtown Berkeley,” Daily Planet, May 18-20) insults an entire community, the readers, and his profession. 

From the onset, this article is filled with ignorant and inaccurate statements, derogatory implications, and judgment. (The particulars are pointed out bellow.) It makes fun of 1,500 people that came together in a positive display of community unity, peace and pride. This event has become a Berkeley tradition three years in the making. With this event, the Interfaith Pagan Pride Parade and Celebration, people of many spiritual traditions put themselves out there for the public to see in order to further understanding among neighbors. For their brave efforts, they were called “polytheistic peddlers”! Allow us point out that these “peddlers” include Native Americans (both North and Central), Hindu, Konko, Indigenous Philippine and Hawaiian, several neo-Pagan traditions that revive the old European beliefs, and others. There were serious authors sharing their work and encouraging a new generation of readers and connecting with their current supporters. There was free music, dance and poetry for all to enjoy. One group voluntarily set up a children’s rest area where they gave away toys and played with young kids in the shade. 

None of this was mentioned in the article. All we read was that the parade route (determined by the City of Berkeley, not the organizers) grossly disrupted traffic. There was also an implication that the vendors, most of whom were artists and craftspeople selling their own hand made goods, were nothing short of tax evaders! This was the conclusion that Mr. Brenneman came to when one person questioned him about taking a photo of her booth. Never mind that every single event that happens at Civic Center Park includes vendors, which helps the organization pay for the event and make it free to the public. 

Mr. Brenneman did find “one notable exception to the commercialism,” a group of Christians giving away free water because “God’s Love is Free...” They were certainly welcome. They did provide a service. However, the implication that they were a cut above the rest because they were Christian was not appreciated! Forget the fact that we are endorsed by the Interfaith Center at the Presidio headed up by a Paul Chaffy, a Christian minister, The Alameda Green Party, the Berkeley ACLU, and Councilmember Dona Spring. 

A few more inaccuracies: 

“Shinto and devotees...” The priest, Rev. Masato Kawahatsu, is a member of the KONKO Church of San Francisco, a different yet related belief system of Japan. Had Mr. Brenneman bothered to get a program for the event, or receive our press kit at the information table, he would have been educated enough not to make that mistake. 

In the next paragraph: “Nowhere in the parade literature did it say what a ‘Pagan’ was....” If Mr. Brenneman had taken a second to read the program, he would have noticed that on page two, we said: 

“Today, it has evolved into a bright and shining example of cooperation and celebration of Earth-based, nature centered, and polytheistic faiths and traditions. Endorsed by the Interfaith Center at the Presidio, the Alameda Green Party, San Francisco LGBT Pride Parade and Celebration, Councilmember Dona Spring of Berkeley, Covenant of the Goddess, and Reclaiming….(Whew!)… this event has become a blossoming new tradition that brings together community, family, friends, and neighbors to celebrate the ‘Spirit’ of Mother Earth.” 

But wait! There’s more! To top off this excuse for accurate journalism, this reporter then falsely labeled the entire Interfaith Community in a single bound, with the following misrepresentation: “Recruiters for the Covenant of the Goddess....and legalized prostitution (itself a fine old pagan tradition.)” First of all, those were information tables about traditions, since education is the primary purpose for the event. Secondly, how dare he make the assumption that legalized prostitution is “Itself, a fine old pagan tradition,” and further, assume that these people were with our event! In this, he is accusing the other participating groups—such as the Native American group “Eagle Spirit,” the Oddissi Indian Group, “Jyoti Kala Mandir,” the Brazilian group, “Brasarte,” the Aztec group, ‘Tezkatlipoka,’ and the many others that took part in this event—of supporting legalized prostitution!! This ‘legalized prostitution’ group was actually part of the Saturday farmer’s market next door, and not part the Interfaith Pagan Pride Parade and Celebration. 

Shall we even continue? Yes, because the assumptions and half truths continue. He finalizes the article by stating “No animals (or humans) were offered up as sacrifice, and the closest thing to ritual scarification on view were tattoos.” What kind of ignorant yellow journalism does your paper support? Because this is certainly a display of it! How could this happen in Berkeley, of all places in the world??! He finalizes his assault on our community with the following epithet: “There were no temple prostitutes, and no orgies....” What audience does he think he is writing for? This event is sponsored by KPFA, 94.1, the SF Bay Guardian, and BCM Channel 28. At least these media organizations understand what community they are part of—an event of openness and tolerance. Your reporter, Mr. Richard Brenneman, clearly does not want to live in that kind of world. 

Finally, he concludes his article by stating, “And the only equivalent of the All-Seeing Eye was the tripod mounted video camera run by a red-coated gentleman from atop the tower of old city hall building.” If he had bothered to ask a simple question of our helpful and informative staff, he would have found out that this was one of our sponsors, BCM Channel 28, recording the event for the community of Berkeley. We think Mr. Brenneman would rather make it out to be something secretive and perverted for the public eye, just to make this community look worse, from the place of his own personal judgment. 

Personally, we will never support a paper that continues this sort of “rogue, inappropriate” journalism. We will make sure that all of our hundreds of supporters and our media affiliates know of the ignorance that the Daily Planet wishes to spread to our community. Congratulations on alienating an entire, peaceful community, with the stroke of one, ignorant pen. 

We demand nothing short of a public, printed apology for this sloppy journalism, for its inaccurate and stereotypical coverage of what has otherwise become a beautiful Berkeley display of peace and cooperation amongst like-minded traditions. 

Should you be inspired to write a second, intelligent article about the Interfaith Pagan Pride Parade and Celebration—and we hope that you do—we would be pleased to provide you with plenty of information that the bigoted Mr. Richard Brenneman never bothered to gather. 


With regret and disdain, 

Micha Dunston and Katya Madrid, 

co-directors, 2004 Interfaith Pagan Pride Parade and Celebration 





Young Composers: What is Heard, What is Forgotten

Friday May 21, 2004

Each year since 1999, the Composers In the Schools Program, administered by the American Composers Forum, has provided instruction in composition to Bay Area high school students, and has given these students a chance to hear their music played and perfo rmed by professional musicians. As I’m finishing my fifth year of teaching in this program, and as there is nothing else like it that I’m aware of in the public school system, I thought I’d provide a brief report from the frontlines.  

The students are in spirational. Turn out at Trinity Chapel this Saturday afternoon, and you’ll hear fresh, imaginative music from Katy Wreede’s second-year class, performed by the Pegasus Quartet. The composers this time around are Erika Oba, Nicholas Brandley, Aliyah Simco ff, Cody Rose and Daniel Holtmann-Rice.  

In my experience there’s a terrific directness and honesty that comes with these young composers’ work. We who occasionally find ourselves at concerts of new music know they can be a mixed bag. For every fresh new piece that falls welcome on the ears, there seems to be another that seeks to fulfill some arcane agenda. I’ve got complaints with the way America treats the arts, but composers who write tedious, irritating music have something to answer for, as well. T hankfully, these young composers are unaware that there is a musical academy out there, an academy replete with tendentious precepts and doctrines. While a sense of the repertoire may be lacking (more on that in a moment), these students are not much inju red by their naïveté. When self-consciousness goes away, it turns out, all sorts of terrific things are free to emerge. Wit, for instance. One of my favorite student pieces of recent years is a woodwind quintet called “Do You Want Soda and Fries With That?” (Toby Hargreaves, I have your parts!) 

What has happened as a result of the good efforts of the American Composers Forum is that an idyllic, if fragile, world has been created where the major obstacles that composers face are temporarily circumvented. For a few hours each week, young people with a musical bent get help making their musical flights of fancy coherent, legible, and playable. At the end of the line, they hear their work performed, and performed well, at a concert attended by enthused friends and family. 

It might be nice if we could keep this world insulated from the other one, the world where there are often no funds to pay musicians; the world where most people are unaware of, and indifferent to, what artists do. Historically, of course, attempts to create utopias apart from the outside world seem to wind up in some sort of trouble. Ivory towers have poor security. 

First, I have to report that young people walk into these classes knowing almost nothing of our musical history. It’s not t heir fault. It takes only a moment’s thought to realize that it’s impossible, as things stand now, for it to be otherwise. If you were 15 years old today, how would you become familiar with the period during which America came into its own as a major forc e in classical music, our last one hundred years. Would you get exposure to this from the radio? Billboards? Magazines? Textbooks? School concerts? Field trips? None of the above, I’m afraid. Sorry. They’re not dishing it out. Even the Internet—with its m uch-vaunted instant, democratized access—doesn’t offer up contemporary classical music unless you are scouting for it, and scouting hard. Clips of new music aren’t leaping off the i-Tunes website, vying for market-share.  

One of the results of this is t hat a young person who has some tangential exposure to modern music—say, through the soundtrack to a movie—doesn’t know how that music came to sound as it does. They have, in my experience, no sense that composers try new things, that some of these things stick and others go; that music is, in other words, an evolving art-form. 

I want to say, again, that this is not the fault of the kids in these classes. They are getting on in our pin-headed society as best they can. But, since there’s no backstory and there are no role models, we are greeted with blank expressions every fall when we make the rounds of the schools to let kids know about the program. A composer? By and large, they don’t have any idea what that is, really, or why they would want to be on e.  

It’s cool to be a rapper, of course. It’s cool to play the electric guitar. It is somewhat cool to play jazz. But putting notes on paper—is that cool? Miraculously, a few of the curious drift into our classes to find out what it’s all about. Meanwhile we ask ourselves “Where’s the radio-programming? The class trips to see the Berkeley Symphony? How hard can this be?” 

Michael Tilson Thomas addressed the issue of “What is cool” head-on when he began the Maverick series with the San Francisco Symphony a few years ago. There was a sold-out house the night that I went to see Ives’ Fourth Symphony at Davies Hall. This would have pleased Ives, who, during his lifetime, averaged one performance of his work per decade. But, to the point, it doesn’t take much to get across the idea that amazing people have contributed to our vast library of modern music…a library that is now being almost entirely forgotten. Ives, like Edgar Varese, like Aaron Copland, like Leonard Bernstein, was an original thinker who applied himself to creating a whole new galaxy in our musical universe. 

While my students don’t know about the 20th century, or about contemporary classical music, they do have a handle on the technology that has become part of what we mean, now, when we say “New Music.” 

ProTools, Acid, and other music-editing software, with a small collection of gear, can turn anyone these days into a record producer. It is machines, of course, that will be playing your music if you go this route. But that is—have you notice d?—the music we hear all around us, now. Take the vocals and the raps away, and we are all being serenaded by choirs of smoothly coordinated machines in the movie theaters, in stores, in our bedrooms, on the street, in our cars. Machines rehearse for free, will play anything for anybody without complaint over and over again. As these machines begin to sound more and more like real musicians (and they are), there is bound to be an effect on the way people compose music (and there is). Inevitably, the Compo sers In The Schools Program will look different in a few years. There is talk going on now about the role that the computer lab must play in the future if we aren’t to be hopelessly out of step with what composing has come to mean.  

Here and there, meanw hile, a few young composers are writing for the sort of instruments that sit warmly in your hand, that require strings and reeds and a good embouchure. Leaving aside for today troubling questions about both musical literacy and the mechanization of an art form, let’s get back to the topic at hand—this year’s crop of young Bay Area composers: 

The final performance of the Composers in the Schools Program this year will be at 2 p.m. May 22 at Trinity Chapel, 2320 Dana St. Admission is free. Works presented include premieres by students Erika Oba, Nick Brandley, Aliyah Simcoff, Cody Rose and Daniel Holtmann-Rice. Also on the program is Katy Wreede’s new work, “The Pegasus Quartet,” commissioned by the American Composers Forum. 


Clark Suprynowicz and Katy Wr eede are composers living in the East Bay. This is their last year teaching in the Composers in the Schools Program. Next year new faculty will rotate in, taking positions at Berkeley High School and in the San Francisco public schools. For more informati on about the Composers in the Schools Program, call the American Composers Forum, Bay Area Chapter: (415) 864-0400. 


‘Bold Experiment’ Leads To Startling New Look at ‘Hamlet’

By BETSY HUNTON Special to the Planet
Friday May 21, 2004

You’d think that 15 years as artistic director of the Subterranean Shakespeare Company would have cured Stanley Spenger’s enthusiasm for producing major plays on minor budgets. This is, after all—or, more accurately, was—the company that first baptized the cellar at La Val’s pizza parlor as a near-requisite initial location for the East Bay’s fledgling theatrical groups. But the man seems to be addicted to the work. 

The Subterranean Shakespeare Company is no more; it has morphed into the “New Shakespeare Company,” which is celebrating its arrival on the theatrical scene by presenting the greatest of all the English plays, Shakespeare’s Hamlet. What they’re doing that is new is called “environmental theater.” Spenger describes it as a “bold experiment.”  

He says “site-specific, environmental theater does not use traditional staging…the features and character of whatever space in which the play is performed determine its staging…” For this production, this means that the play’s action is expanded into the significant open space in the center of the lovely gallery at the Berkeley Art Center, located behind John Hinkel Park at 1275 Walnut St. The audience is seated in a single row of chairs circling the action. 

The company has reason to be proud of their production. There isn’t a weak performance in the lot. Spenger has a group of highly talented actors who are well-suited for their roles. And he himself has done a tremendous job of directing. “Site-specific” may sound like just another little theater use of an unconventional location but, at least in this case, the comparatively large, multi-sided space enables aspects of meaning in the drama to seem new. 

That’s rather startling with Hamlet. 

Perhaps appropriately for this particular drama, the same setting which enables so much innovation and richness in the production may also present a problem in acoustics for some members of the audience. But in view of the quality of the production and the remarkable ticket price ($12 for regular tickets, $10 for seniors and children), it could definitely be worth your while to take your chances. 

For this viewer, the production—admittedly only partly heard—presented the extraordinary (even embarrassing) experience of “getting” the tragedy in an entirely new way. It is more than just seeing the carnage of the last scene in a multi-dimensional way—although that in itself is unforgettable. Hamlet himself, as created by Eric Moore, was a new invention.  

Yes, we all know that he was a college student returned home because of his father’s unexpected death and angered to his core by his mother’s abrupt remarriage, but to know that, and to “get” it in a role which is so frequently played by famous—and older—actors are entirely different things. So many of the traditional “unresolved problems” with Hamlet’s actions and inactions make sense if he is recognized as a sophomore in a situation “way over his head.” 

It was a remarkable experience.  

Regretfully, it is impossible in this space to go through the entire cast and comment on the various very strong portrayals. Something must be said, however, about Miranda Caleron’s portrayal of Ophelia. Her character’s youth is flagged by the symbolic costuming—an exaggerated school girl’s uniform—which may be just a reaffirmation of Hamlet’s own immaturity. Whatever is signaled by the costuming, Caleron’s performance in the mad scene is little short of extraordinary. (Certainly the rest of her work is good, also, but wow!) 

Problem acoustics and all, this is a production well worth seeing.

Arts Calendar

Friday May 21, 2004



Storytime with Pancake Pig and at Barnes and Noble at 10:30 a.m. 644-3635. 


Berkeley Art Museum reception for current exhibits at 6:30 p.m., 2625 Durant Ave. 642-0808. www.bampfa.berkeley.edu 

“From Isolation to Connection” a reception honoring the artists from Berkeley Creative Living Center and Berkeley Mental Health from 1:30 to 3 p.m. at First Congregational Church of Berkeley, 2340 Durant. 


Berkeley Rep “Master Class” with Rita Moreno at The Roda Theater. Runs through July 4. 647-2949. www.berkeleyrep.org 

Berkeley Rep “The Mystery of Irma Vep,” Charles Ludlam’s theatrical cult classic at Berkeley Rep’s Thrust Stage, and through May 23. Tickets are $39-$55. 647-2949. www.berkeleyrep.org 

Impact Theatre “Money and Run” an action serial adventure with different episodes on Thurs., Fri. and Sat. at 8 p.m. Runs through June 5 at La Val’s Subterranean, 1834 Euclid. For tickets and information call 464-4468. www.impacttheatre.com 

New Shakespeare Co., “Hamlet” directed by Stanley Spenger, at 8 p.m. at Berkeley Art Center, through June 5, no show June 3. Tickets are $10-$12. 234-6046. www.geocities.com/spoonboy_sf/hamlet.html 


“City Of Lost Children” at 8 p.m. at the Long Haul, a reading room, library and community center in South Berkeley located at 3124 Shattuck Ave. Wheelchair accessible. 540-0751. www.thelonghaul.org 


Robert Reich explains “Reason: Why Liberals will Win the Battle for America” at 4 p.m. at Cody’s Books. www.codysbooks.com  

John Stauber, author of “Weapons of Mass Deception” returns with “Banana Republicans” at 7:30 p.m. at Cody’s Books. 845-7852. www.codysbooks.com 

Rogen Ballen offers a walk through his exhibition of photographs at 3:30 p.m. followed by a conversation with Orville Schell at 5 p.m. at the Berkeley Art Museum, 2625 Durant. 642-1295. www.bampfa.berkeley.edu 


Berkeley Ballet Theater “Le Bal des Graduées” at 7 p.m. at Julia Morgan Theater. Tickets are available from 843-4689. www.berkeleyballet.org 

Berkeley High Choreographers present “HumanBeingHuman” at 8 p.m. at the Little Theater, Allston Way. Cost is $5-$10. 

Berkeley Opera Fundraising Concert and dinner at 8 p.m. at Le Theatre, 1919 Addison St., to support the premiere of Supryn- 

owicz’s new opera, “Caliban Dreams.” Cost is $90. 444-6232. 

Oakland Opera Theater “Akhnaten” by Philip Glass at 8 p.m. at Oakland Metro, 201 Broadway. Tickets are $15-$27. Also Sat. at 8 p.m. and Sun at 2 p.m. 763-1146. www.oaklandmetro.org 

Edward Delgado “Music that Fascinates” piano recital at 7:25 p.m. at the Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant Ave. Tickets are $25-$30. www.sequoiaconcerts.com 

“Let Us Break Bread Together” with Oakland East Bay Symphony, Oakland Symphony Chorus, Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir and Lucy Kinchen Chorale at 8 p.m. at the Paramount Theater, 2025 Broadway, Oakland. 625-TIXS. www.oebs.org 

Folksinger Faith Petric at 7:30 p.m. at the Fellowship Café at Fellowship Hall, Cedar and Bonita Sts. Donation of $5-$10 is requested. 

Ray Anderson & Mark Helius, out jazz duo, at 8 p.m. at The Jazz House. Donations of $8-$15 suggested. 649-8744. www.thejazzhouse.org 

The Lovejoy Lounge with Allison Lovejoy at the 1923 Teahouse at 7 p.m. Donation of $7-$15. 644-2204. www.epicarts.org 

Kris Delmhorst performs 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. www.freightandsalvage.org 

Hip Hop Exchange at 9 p.m. at La Peña. Cost is $5-$10. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

East Coast Swing with Steve Lucky & the Rhumba Bums 9:30 p.m. with a dance lesson with Nick & Shanna at 8 p.m. at Ashkenez. Cost is $13. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com  

Lavish Green, Griswald, The Glow at 9:30 p.m. at Blakes on Telegraph. Cost is $7. 848-0886. www.blakesontelegraph.com 

All Ages Show with Go Jimmy Go, Treephort and Teenage Harlots at 9:30 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $7. 841-2082.  


Danny Caron at 8:30 p.m. at Downtown. 649-3810. 

Them!, jazz trio, at 7:30 p.m. at Nomad Cafe, 6500 Shattuck Ave. 595-5344. www.nomadcafe.net 

Will Bernard & Motherbug at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 848-8277. 

Thriving Ivory at 9:30 p.m. at Beckett’s Irish Pub, 2271 Shattuck Ave. 647-1790. www.beckettsirishpub.com 

Voetsek, Lights Out, Despite, Case of Emergency 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. 



“Wild About Books” storytime with Gary Lapow, musician and song-writer at 10:30 a.m. at the Berkeley Public Library, 2090 Kittredge St. 981-6223. 


“Vulnerability” CollectivEye’s debut exhibition reception from 7 to 11 p.m. at the Gravity Feed Gallery,1959 Shattuck, at University. www.gravityfeed.net 


Stagebridge “The Hypochon- 

driac” at 8 p.m. at First Congregational Church, 2501 Harrison, Oakland. Tickets are $15. 444-4755. 

“Primo” a play by Ed Davidson, on the last days of Holocaust author, Primo Levi, at 7:30 PM Berkeley Richmond Jewish Community Center, 1414 Walnut Street. Also June 3 and 6. Cost is $15-$20. 925-798-1300. 


Gallery Talk on “The Big Picture” with artists Johnna Arnold, Taro Hattori, Mayumi Hamanaka, and a discussion of large format digital printing at 2 p.m. at Kala Gallery, 1060 Heinz Ave. 549-2977. www.kala.org 

West Coast Live with Joan Blades, Marilyn Yalom and Marshall Chapman and others at 10 a.m. at the Freight and Salvage. Cost is $15 in advance, $18 at the door, available from 415-664-9500 or www.ticketweb.com 

Pamela Holm reads from “The Toaster Broke, So We’re Getting Married” at 7 p.m. at Cody’s Books on Fourth St. 559-9500. www.codysbooks.com 

Cathy Alter, editor, will be joined by several contributors to read from the new collection “Virgin Territory: Stories from the Road to Womanhood” at 7:30 p.m. at Boadecia’s Books, 398 Colusa Ave. at Colusa Circle, Kensington. www.bookpride.com 


Berkeley Ballet Theater “Le Bal des Graduées” at 2 and 7 p.m. at Julia Morgan Theater. Tickets are available from 843-4689. www.berkeleyballet.org 

Composer in the Schools Concert with the Peagsus Quartet at 2 p.m. in Trinity Chapel, 2320 Dana at Durant. Admission is free.  

Trinity Chamber Concerts with Del Sol String Quartet playing George Antheil at 8 p.m. at Trinity Chapel, 2320 Dana at Durant. Tickets are $8-$12. 549-3864. 

VOCI presents “Songlines - from Generation to Generation,” music from Central and Eastern Europe at 4 p.m. at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, 2300 Bancroft Way. Tickets are $12-$20. 531-8714. www.coolcommunity.org/voci 

The Women’s Antique Vocal Ensemble with instrumental ensemble Alta Sonora presents “A Salute to French Composers from the Middle Ages to the 20th Century,” at 8 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley, One Lawson Road, Kensington. Tickets are $5-$10. 233-1479. www.wavewomen.org 

Chanticleer performs “Missa Salve” at 8 p.m. at First Congregational Church, 2345 Channing Way. Tickets are $25-$37. 415-252-8589. www.chanticleer.org 

La Percusión Afro-Antillana at 1 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $15. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

Iluminado and YazJazz at 8 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $12-$14. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

Kotoja at 9:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. African dance lesson with Comfort Mensah at 9 p.m. Cost is $13. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

Stukface, Fountain St. Theatre Band at 9:30 p.m. at Blakes on Telegraph. Cost is $8. 848-0886. www.blakesontelegraph.com 

Citizens Here and Abroad, Tracker, Audio Out Send at 9:30 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $6. 841-2082. www.starryploughpub.com 

Rhiannon and Friends at 8 p.m. at the Jazzschool. Cost is $12-$20. 845-5373. www.jazz- 


Kathy Kallick Band at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $17.50 in advance, $18.50 at the door. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 

Vanessa Morrison & Friends at the 1923 Teahouse at 8 p.m. Donation of $7-$15, no one turned away for lack of funds. 644-2204. www.epicarts.org 

Sylvia and the Silvertones at 8:30 p.m. at Downtown. 649-3810. 

Shannon Hurley at 7:30 p.m. at Nomad Cafe, 6500 Shattuck Ave. 595-5344. www.nomadcafe.net 

Allegiance, Outbreak, The Distance, Drug Test 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. 

Post Junk Trio at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 848-8277. 



Indian Folkdance and Storytelling with Raje and Sasha at 3 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $6 for adults, $4 for children. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

Sarita & Schroeder’s Bubblejuice at the 1923 Teahouse at 2 p.m. 644-2204. www.epicarts.org 


Stagebridge “The Hypochon- 

driac” at 3 p.m. at First Congregational Church, 2501 Harrison, Oakland. Tickets are $15. 444-4755. 


“Art, Memory and Survival,” a discussion of the role of art and literature in the experience of second and third generation Holocaust survivors at 2 p.m. at the Judah L. Magnes Museum, 2911 Russell St. www.magnes.org 

Steve Almond talks about his candy obsession in “Candyfreak: A Journey through the Chocolate Underbelly of America” at 7:30 p.m. at Black Oak Books. 486-0698. www.blackoakbooks.com 

Gallery Talk on “Carl Heidenreich and Hans Hofmann in Post-War New York” with Gabriele Saure at 1:30 p.m. at the Berkeley Art Museum, 2625 Durant Ave. 642-0808. www.bampfa.berkeley.edu 

Compass Points: Artists’ Talks with the MFA students at 3 p.m. at the Berkeley Art Museum, 2625 Durant Ave. 642-0808. www.bampfa.berkeley.edu 

Antero Alli on “Astrology as an Archetypal Language” at 7 p.m. at Alaya Bookstore, 1713 University Ave. 548-4701.  

Poetry Flash with contributing translators reading from “The Essential Neruda” at 7:30 p.m. at Cody’s Books. Donation $2. 845-7852. www.codysbooks.com 


Berkeley Ballet Theater “Le Bal des Graduées” at 2 p.m. at Julia Morgan Theater. Tickets are available from 843-4689. www.berkeleyballet.org 

Mahea Uchiyama Center for International Dance Repertory Concert with dances from Hawai’i, The Middle East, West Africa, North India, Tahiti, at 3 p.m. at Oakland Scottish Rite Center, 1547 Lakeside Drive, Oakland. Tickets are $10-$25, and must be purchased in advance. 925-798-1300. www.mahea.com 

WomenSing and San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus at 3 p.m. at First Congregational Church, 2345 Channing Way. Tickets are $18-$20. 925-974-9169. www.womensing.org 

Soli Deo Gloria and Camerata Gloria, “Northern Lights,” an a cappella concert of music by Canadian composers Healy Willan, Imant Raminsh, Eleanor Daley, and Ruth Watson Henderson, at 3:30 p.m. at Zion Lutheran Church, Piedmont, 5201 Park Blvd., Piedmont. Tickets are $15-$20. Grades K-12 are free. 415-982-7341. www.sdgloria.org 

Big Band Swing Dance Concert featuring the Mike Vax Jazz Orchestra from 2 to 4 p.m. at Historic Sweet’s Ballroom, 1933 Broadway, Oakland. Tickets are $10-$15. 420-4560. 

Sean Corkery and The Pickin’ Trix at 8 p.m. at The Jazz House. Donations of $7-$12 suggested. 649-8744. www.thejazzhouse.org 

Americana Unplugged: All Wrecked Up at 5 p.m. at Jupiter. 848-8277. 

The James King Band, bluegrass from Virginia, at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $15.50 in advance, $16.50 at the door. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 

Mark Levine at 4:30 p.m. at the Jazzschool. Cost is $12-$18. 845-5373. www.jazzschool.com 



“Anatomy of the Artist,” photographs by Hugh Shurley and a selection of artists from NIAD. Runs through July 9 at the Florence Ludins-Katz Gallery, NIAD Art Center, 551 23rd St. near Barrett Ave. Richmond. 620-0290. www.niadart.org 

“A Voice Silenced” a collection of family photographs taken in Germany in the 1930s, curated by Diane Neumier, opens at the Judah L. Magnes Museum, 2911 Russell St. In conjunction with the Holocaust Center. Gallery hours are Sun.-Wed. 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Thurs. 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. www.magnes.org 

“The Way I See It” collage paintings by Evelyn Glaubman at Giorgi Gallery, 2911 Claremont Ave. at Ashby. Gallery Hours are Thurs.-Sat. 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. 848-1228. 


Polina Barskova, Masha Gutkin, and Margarita Meklina, local Russian authors will read from their recent works at 7:30 p.m. at Black Oak Books. 486-0698. www.blackoakbooks.com 

Joan Roughgarden explains “Evolution’s Rainbow: Diversity, Gender, and Sexuality in Nature and People” at 7:30 p.m. at Cody’s Books. 845-7852. www.codysbooks.com 

Poetry Express featuring Lenore Weiss from 7 to 9:30 p.m., at Priya Restaurant, 2072 San Pablo Ave. berkeleypoetryexpress@yahoo.com 


Flute Summit with Ali Ryerson, Frank Wess, Holly Hoffman and Tootie Heath at 8 and 10 p.m. at Yoshi’s at Jack London Square. Cost is $10-$16. 238-9200. www.yoshis.com 



Gary Lapow, musician and songwriter, at 10:30 a.m. at Berkeley Public Library South Branch, 1901 Russell St. 981-6260. 

Asheba, Caribbean storyteller, at 10:30 a.m. at Berkeley Public Library, North Branch, 1170 The Alameda. 981-6250. 


“Con le Nostre Mani” photographs of Italian Americans at Work in the East Bay. Reception at 7 p.m., followed by a talk with Laura E. Ruberto, in the Central Library Community Room, Berkeley Public Library, 2090 Kittredge St. 981-6233. 

Stephen Altschuler reads from his new book “The Mindful Hiker: On the Trail to Find the Path” at 7:30 p.m. at Black Oak Books. 486-0698. www.blackoakbooks.com 

Diane Ackerman looks into “The Alchemy of the Mind: The Marvel and Mystery of the Brain” at 7:30 p.m. at Cody’s Books. 845-7852. www.codysbooks.com 

David Harris and others in an evening of politics and entertainment at 8 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $10. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

Poets Gone Wild Translators Nanos Valaoritis and Thanasis Maskaleris discuss their anthology “Modern Greek Poetry” at 7:30 p.m. at Barnes and Noble. 644-0861. 

“Can Art Transcend Violence?” with artists Anthony Dubovsky and Yu Chunming at 7:30 p.m. at Berkeley Buddhist Monastery, 2304 McKinley Ave. 848-3440. 


The Whole Noyes, presented by Berkeley Chamber Performances, music from the 16th and 17th century Italy at 8 p.m. at Berkeley City Club. Tickets are $15-$20 at the door. 525-5211. 

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

Suede, pop, jazz and blues diva, at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage Coffee House. Cost is $19.50 in advance, $20.50 at the door. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 

Edie Carey at the 1923 Teahouse at 8 p.m. Suggested donation of $7-$15, no one turned away for lack of funds. 644-2204. www.epicarts.org 

Dayna Stephens House Jam at 8 p.m. at The Jazz House. Donation $5. 649-8744.  


Danielo Pérez Trio at 8 and 10 p.m. at Yoshi’s at Jack London Square, through Wed. Cost is $10-$16. 238-9200. www.yoshis.com

New Gioia’s Pizzeria Offers A Big Slice of Brooklyn

By Barbara Quick Special to the Planet
Friday May 21, 2004

Lovemaking at its best takes place in an endless present moment. Eating, however, is one of those rare human pleasures that, at its pinnacle, places us in the past, the present and the future all at the same time. 

So swift and mysterious are the neural pathways created by food that it can even transport us to other people’s pasts. Lots of us who didn’t know a madeleine from a macaroon when we were growing up now experience the délices of a French childhood when we bite into the famous little shell-shaped cookies. Although the Paris of Marcel Proust is two centuries, a continent and an ocean away from us here in the Bay Area, madeleines have also become part of our children’s treasure trove of culinary memories. 

Will Gioia, born and raised in Park Slope, Brooklyn, knows that food is memory’s skeleton key. That’s why this 32-year-old chef has chosen to take his first-rate culinary training, his experience in world-class restaurants both here and in France, and to concentrate it all into a tiny space on Hopkins Avenue in Berkeley with five stools at a granite counter, no tables and a war-horse of a pizza oven. 

The grandson of immigrants from Sicily, Naples, France and Germany, Gioia—like so many others born with a culinary calling—says his fondest childhood memories are centered around food. “I learned family values in the kitchen—rolling out pie dough with Mom, making fresh pasta on the dining room table with Pop, stuffing ricotta cheese into pasta shells with Grandma and watching as Nanny [his maternal grandmother] made her impossibly tall lemon meringue pie,” says the honors graduate of Hyde Park, New York’s prestigious Culinary Institute of America. He got hooked as a teenager on the joys of entertaining cooking for friends and family side-by-side with his step-mother Laurie. 

But Gioia says his best memory of all is of walking down to Seventh Avenue with his little sister Sascha and their friends to get a slice and a Coke. “I never got tired of it. In fact, it’s something I still do every time I visit Park Slope.” 

But Brooklyn, as far as Gioia is concerned, is much too far away from Berkeley. He wanted to re-create the satisfactions of his childhood ritual, not only for himself and his wife Karen and their friends, but also for the children of Berkeley—children who have never been to Brooklyn and may never go there. 

The space on Hopkins—formerly occupied by Magnani Poultry, which has moved to the larger space on the corner, across from Monterey Market—is ambling distance from King Middle School and Gay Austin Preschool. King is the site of Alice Waters’ famed Edible Schoolyard, an acre of organic garden with a bay view, where King students grow the produce for their cooking classes, study science and raise chickens. Kids at both schools, throughout the years, have made a point of stopping at the bakery on Hopkins for cookies—first in the company of their parents and then on their own. 

“These kids know about good food,” says Gioia. “In great part thanks to Alice [Waters], they have sophisticated palates and an unusually high level of food awareness.” 

The young chef, who tends his own organic garden in Berkeley, had a vision of creating a West Coast version of those beloved Brooklyn pizzas that would occupy a place of honor in the culinary memories of North Berkeley kids when they grow up. “I had this idea of a place where they could stop on their way home from school and buy a great slice. Or come back later to get a pie to take home for family dinner.”  

Gioia has had stints cooking in France under the tutelage of Alain Llorca, at Oakland’s Oliveto, cooking elbow to elbow with celebrated chef-owner Paul Bertolli, at San Francisco’s Zuni Café with award-winning chef Judy Rogers and, finally, as executive chef at the short-lived but much loved Mazzini Trattoria in Berkeley. But all of his experience only crystallized his resolve to create food memories as strong and joyful as his own—not just for couples prepared to plunk down $70 for dinner, but for kids and their hardworking parents who want food that’s delicious, approachable, convenient and good value. “Fine dining on expense accounts, fusion and embellished food all have their place,” says Gioia. “But some of the best food and family memories are built on the simplest things.” 

Like a sublimely perfect slice of pizza, hot from Will Gioia’s childhood memories of Brooklyn. 

Starting May 19, Gioia Pizzeria will be open 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday through Saturday. 1586 Hopkins St., Berkeley. 528-4692. 


Berkeley author Barbara Quick is the mother of a sixth-grader at King Middle School who would be much too embarrassed if we mentioned his name here. 




Justin DeFreitas
Friday May 21, 2004

Cartoon By Justin DeFreitasµ



Editorial: Seeing Ourselves as Others See Us

Becky O'Malley
Tuesday May 25, 2004

A famous Celtic bard once wrote: 


“O wad some Power the giftie gie us  

To see oursels as ithers see us!  

It wad frae monie a blunder free us,  

An' foolish notion:  

What airs in dress an' gait wad lea'e us,  

An' ev'n devotion! “ 


In modern English,  

“Oh would some Power give us the gift 

To see ourselves as others see us! 

It would free us from many a blunder 

And foolish notion. 

What airs in dress and gait would leave us, 

And even devotion!” 


That’s from Robert Burns’ poem “To a Louse,” in which the poet describes his reaction on seeing a louse crawling on the bonnet of a pretentious and well-dressed churchgoer.  

The Daily Planet has been deluged with letters from pagans around the world, as far away as South Africa, because our man Richard Brenneman dared to poke a little gentle fun at last week’s Interfaith Pagan Pride Parade. Or perhaps we should say from Pagans, since we got at least one letter saying that (contrary to the advice of our dictionaries and style books), the word should be capitalized, as is Christian, because Pagans have a real religion too. 

We certainly agree that they have a real religion. Which is precisely why they, like all other religions, are fair game for having fun poked at them by the irreligious. Making fun of religion is a tradition as old as some of the traditions which today’s neo-Pagans believe themselves to be reviving. Mark Twain practiced it. While the irate p/Pagans are web-surfing, they should check out, for example, his 1867-1869 letters to the San Francisco journal Alta California, in which he makes fun of both Mormons and Christian evangelicals. Today, Garrison Keilor’s Prairie Home Companion regularly ridicules Lutherans, Catholics, and any other representatives of mainstream religions who live in his fictional Lake Woebegon, Minnesota. (He never mentions p/Pagans, so there must not be any in Lake Woebegon.) We reprinted a long angry letter from the p/Pagan parade co-coordinators on the same page with our regular comic strip from Dan O’Neill, who chose on that very day to make fun of Christians, Jews and Muslims all in one strip.  

San Francisco’s Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, a group of gay guys, make fun of Catholic nuns. As someone who was educated by nuns, and who found them in the main to be women of kindness, intelligence and strong character, I might take offense at the parody. As a feminist, I might complain that the SPIs are secretly resentful of women who are in a position of power. But over the years I’ve noticed that, while seeming to mock nuns, they’ve also noted the good works nuns have done, and have imitated them by doing good works in their own community, the sincerest form of flattery.  

By the way, Brenneman’s description of the Christian group giving out free water at the event was also tongue-in-cheek, but the ironic tone he employed seems to have escaped many of the letter writers. Some of them, of course, admit that they didn’t read the piece, but are just responding to an alert broadcast on p/Pagan blogs on the Internet. 

A few of the letters we’ve received from the p/Pagans have threatened to sue the Planet for libel, and one cited the ACLU’s sponsorship of their parade as justification for that point of view. I’d check with the ACLU before taking that theory too far. If one wanted to get into a deep First Amendment analysis of the p/Pagan event, questions might be raised about whether or not fees paid to the city of Berkeley were 100 percent compensation for the cost to the city of policing and cleaning up, and if not, why not? Would the same courtesies have been extended to, for example, Lutherans on the Loose, as to p/Pagans on Parade? Under the U.S. Constitution, governments are not supposed to do special favors for any particular religion.  

And who’s going to compensate the farmer’s market vendors for lost business? One farmer told me that one might expect that events in Martin Luther King Civic Center Park would be good for business, but in fact the reverse is true: Big gatherings with blocked-off streets and amplified sound drive away food shoppers.  

In our book, people are welcome to hold any religious beliefs that they choose, but that doesn’t give them a free pass from criticism, whether it’s in the form of ridicule or as serious disagreement. Religious belief has always been used as justification for outrageous and intolerable actions, and that includes some of the beliefs and practices espoused by today’s new Pagans. Many people believe that the world would be a better place without religion, and a cursory look at today’s activities in the region which spawned the three desert monotheistic religions suggests that they might be right. 

—Becky O’MalleyZ

Editorial: Cassandra Factor Revisited

Becky O'Malley
Friday May 21, 2004

As this is being written (Thursday morning) the latest news from Iraq is that, according to the Washington Post, “U.S. soldiers raided the home of America’s one-time ally Ahmad Chalabi on Thursday.” Well, sure. Guess what, guys? As we say in the trade, W E TOLD YOU SO. You’re just learning that Mr. Chalabi is a thug? Somewhat sleazy? It’s hard to believe that it’s little more than a year since huge demonstrations were mounted world-wide to tell whoever was running the show in Washington that: 

1) there we re no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq; 2) if you break it, you’ve bought it; and 3) your seeming friends among expatriate Iraqis are a bunch of crooks. As I remember, Chalabi was specifically mentioned at the time in the left-liberal press as Crook Nu mero Uno. But no, the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld-Wolfowitz administration swallowed Chalabi’s brand of snake oil, and now look where it’s gotten them. 

This is yet another instance of what has been called in these pages “the Cassandra factor,” after an unfortunate woman in ancient Greece. She was able to foretell the future, but no one ever believed her. The people in charge (among whom I include, for example, John Kerry, Thomas Friedman, the editors of the New Yorker and just about everyone in Congress except Barbara Lee) allowed themselves to be gulled at the time the invasion started, though these days they’d like to pretend they didn’t. 

The government of the United States is now arguably worse than it’s ever been in the whole 200-plus years since the count ry was founded. The country has been in the hands of scoundrels from time to time before this, but they pretty much limited themselves to graft and corruption, and they had nothing like the firepower which the current administration is able to throw at its insane foreign adventures. And they lacked the terrifying combination of stupidity and self-righteousness which is Bush’s signature style.  

The hearings over the torture which has been going on in Iraqi prisons under U.S. direction are frightening. It’s no surprise, to anyone who is familiar with Phillip Zimbardo’s Stanford experiments of 20 years ago, to find out that humans, given half a chance, will become ravening beasts under the wrong circumstances. For that matter, it’s no surprise to anyone rai sed in any of the well-known world religions to discover that evil-doing has always been a human tendency (some Christians call this the doctrine of original sin.) Pop anthropology characterizes this as “the chimpanzees versus the bonabos”—we, and the chi mps, are on the violent side of the tree of primate evolution. 

What is newly appalling is the parade of inarticulate grunters who have been testifying before congressional committees, apologizing for and defending policies which appear not only to have allowed the torture in Iraq but to have encouraged it. These are people who in the old days would have been called “officers and gentlemen”—high ranking military men, including generals, who are so disconnected from the effective use of language that they don’t seem to be able to explain, even to themselves, what the hell they thought was supposed to be going on in the prisons under their command.  

Military officers in the past did not have this problem. General Douglas McArthur was profoundly irritating and wrong on many points, but he was able to explain what he wanted to do and why, whether you agreed with him or not. General Eisenhower was chided for his sometimes blunt, inelegant use of language, and for mispronouncing the word “nuclear,” but he was able to get his point across when it mattered. Colin Powell, when he was a general, was almost too smooth, too articulate, to be completely trustworthy, but he clearly demonstrated that he is well educated and intelligent. But the new breed of generals se ems to be so tangled up in the language of bureaucratic obfuscation and military jargon that they can’t even give a straight answer to questions the senators ask. Many senators, notably Kennedy, Clinton and McCain, have made a valiant effort to ask direct questions followed up by more direct questions, but the going has been tough. (Others, of course, such as Lieberman and Imhoff, have shown themselves once again to be disgusting toadies.) The answers that they’ve received have been almost unparsable. It’s hard to believe that these inarticulate generals are holding rational high-level discussions of policy options behind the scenes at the Pentagon. 

And then there’s their boss. Rumsfeld seems to have survived, at the least for the moment, the world-wide demands that he be sacrificed in the prison torture scandal. It clearly makes no difference to his patrons in the White House that even the conservative British magazine The Economist had “Rumsfeld, Resign” in large type on its cover. The fact that Rumsfe ld’s lasted thus far lends credence to the theory that he’s the ventriloquist on whose knee Dubya sits. 

Knowing any of this, however, does no good. We know what’s wrong, we’ve known all along, but it doesn’t seem to make any difference. So much for the t heory that the truth will make us free. Anyone have any new ideas? 


—Becky O’Malley