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Jakob Schiller: 
          An architect for Rasputin Music founder Ken Sarachan, owner of the former Berkeley Inn site at 2501 Haste St., has filed plans for a mixed use residential and retail development at this long-contested property which once housed the Berkeley Inn. ?
Jakob Schiller: An architect for Rasputin Music founder Ken Sarachan, owner of the former Berkeley Inn site at 2501 Haste St., has filed plans for a mixed use residential and retail development at this long-contested property which once housed the Berkeley Inn. ?


Building Proposed For Vacant Lot At Telegraph, Haste:By RICHARD BRENNEMAN

Tuesday September 21, 2004

Recording retailer and developer Kenneth Sarachan filed plans Thursday to build an apartment and retail complex at the long-vacant Berkeley Inn site at the corner of Telegraph Avenue and Haste Street. 

Sarachan, owner of Rasputin Music and Blondie’s Pizza, needed to file by Sept. 22 or face paying off $500,000 in city liens levied on the site after Berkeley Inn owners refused to demolish the structure following a pair of fires that left it a gutted wreck, forcing the city to tear it down. 

The plans filed last week call for a two-story structure at the Telegraph Avenue end of the structure, rising to five stories at the east end. Designs call for three ground-floor retail spaces and a second-floor restaurant with a roof garden plus 20 one-bedroom apartments. 

Sarachan did not return calls seeking comment on the issue. 

The site has a long and troubled history, recounted in a city document prepared in September 1998: 

For decades the land was the site of the Inn, a single room occupancy hotel which catered to low-income residents. The property was severely damaged in a pair of fires, one in 1986 which gutted 77 units, and another in 1990 which gutted the building. 

The city demolished the remains in November 1990 and after repeated attempts to collect from the owner, filed liens against the property which were sustained in a series of lawsuits brought by the owner, Sutter Land and Development Co., Inc. 

From 1992 through 1994, the city tried to negotiate a purchase of the site in conjunction with the nonprofit Resources for Community Development (RCD) which called for 39 units to be built, 32 of them reserved for low-income tenants, with ground floor retail space for Amoeba Music. 

The proposal died with the election of Mayor Shirley Dean, who objected to the high per unit cost and use of $3 million in public funds, half from the city’s Housing Trust Fund. 

When RCD’s option expired, Sarachan bought the site for $800,000 and assumed the liens.  

After a series of attempts to develop the property with the aide of city housing funds and a significant number of low-income units, Sarachan wrote the City Council in 1997 that the economics would not work out. 

At the urging of the Telegraph Area Association to develop the property with the possible inclusion of the site of the landmarked John Woolley House, an 1891 Victorian cottage at 2509 Haste St., then City Manager Weldon Rucker ordered staff to work on plans for a mixed use development. 

One year later, the staff suggested waiving the liens to spur development, though it took near five years before a final agreement was adopted in February 2003—the one that set the Sept. 22 deadline for submission of plans. 

The new plans call for a typical Berkeley mixed-use housing and retail development, with the city-mandated inclusion of 20 percent of the apartments reserved for low-income tenants.  

While the plans filed Thursday don’t include the Woolley House property, Berkeley Community Development Project Coordinator Dave Fogarty said “the project becomes much more feasible if Sarachan is allowed to develop on the site.” 

Fogarty said Sarachan doesn’t want the university-owned site until the Victorian house is moved. 

Developer Ruegg & Ellsworth has proposed moving the Woolley House along with the Blood House, another landmark which sites on a nearby site at 2526 Durant Ave. 

Ruegg and Ellsworth wants to develop a five-story, 44-unit apartment complex at the Blood House site, but can’t do anything until they can find a new home for the landmarked structure. 

Realtor John Gordon has been looking into moving the landmarks onto property he owns at the southwest corner of Regent Street and Dwight Way, but says “I’m running my fingernails down my head trying to figure out how.” 

Gordon said he still has no agreement with the University of California, which owns the Woolley House and its lot. “We’re only in preliminary discussions,” he said.›

A Day of Political Beginnings and Stale Bagels: By MATTHEW ARTZ

Tuesday September 21, 2004

In a city that lives and breathes politics, Saturday was enough to leave even Berkeley’s biggest political junkies a little short of breath. 

Five political campaigns kicked-off around town and the Daily Planet ran the gauntlet. 

First up, at 9:30 a.m., was the United Democratic Campaign—a novel concept in Berkeley where rival Democrats duke it out every other November, as well as all year long. 

True to form, attendees disagreed over when Berkeley last had a United Democratic Campaign (UDC) headquarters. UDC Chair Andy Katz said this was the first one in Berkeley since 1992. But Councilmember Kriss Worthington said he definitely remembered one in 1996 and Rent Board Commissioner Paul Hogarth said he was at the opening in 1998. 

The UDC, headquartered th is year at 2026 Shattuck Ave., is sponsored by the Alameda County Democratic Party, which sets up field offices to promote candidates and ballot measures it endorses. 

In the four City Council races this year, the county Democrats have given their blessin gs to left-leaning Max Anderson and Darryl Moore and more conservative candidates Laurie Capitelli and Betty Olds.  

Capitelli and Olds, however, likely would have struggled to find supporters among the staunchly progressive crowd of about of about 60 peo ple gathered Saturday. 

“I don’t know what to tell you about Betty Olds,” said Rent Board candidate Jason Overman, who seemed more comfortable defending rent control then explaining his presence at an event that endorsed two council candidates critical of the current pro-tenant Rent Board.  

None of the four City Council candidates endorsed showed for the kick-off. 

Morning speakers included County Supervisor Keith Carson, Councilmember Kriss Worthington, Sierra Club member Norman La Force, School Board c andidate Karen Hemphill and Peralta Community College District candidate Nicky Gonzalez Yuen. 

The field office will double as the home of the Yes on J, K and L campaigns—three tax measures facing fierce oppositions from organized neighborhood association s. 

The unenviable task of passing the measures falls to Vicky Liu, a 21-year-old recent UC Berkeley graduate, who works part time for Mayor Tom Bates. 

Liu, officially the campaign coordinator, said Berkeley residents should soon expect front door visits from benefactors of the city’s multitude of nonprofits, which will be the first groups cut if voters reject the $5.1 million in new taxes. 

“It’s not guilt,” she said. “People love this city for the services it provides.” 

Liu wasn’t the only fresh face at the kick-off. Many in attendance, including the headquarters director Paul Spitz, were on Berkeley’s political sidelines before joining the Howard Dean campaign last year. 

“When Dean said ‘support the Democrats,’ we decided we need to support the Demo crats,” said Bobbie Steinhart, representing the MMOB, Mainstream Moms Oppose Bush, a group mailing Democratic literature and voter registration cards to single mothers in swing states. 

Just after 11 a.m. the action shifted to UC Berkeley’s Sproul Plaza for Measure H, an initiative to publicly fund Berkeley elections. Sam Ferguson, a recent UC Berkeley graduate and president of the Berkeley Fair Election Coalition, had a few words for opponents who argue campaign finance reform is ultimately just another tax. 

“To the penny pinchers against it, I say it is a minimal price to pay to ensure the integrity of city elections,” Ferguson said. 

Sadly for him and the roughly 40 supporters assembled at Sproul, UC turned out to be the biggest penny pincher of the d ay. Without the power source Ferguson said UC officials had promised speeches by Councilmember Worthington and Mayor Bates were barely audible.  

When Worthington wasn’t condemning the influence of private developer money on city council votes, he was gri ping about his breakfast options at the event, which consisted of less-than-fresh bagels. 

“Don’t politicians understand you’re supposed to feed people?” he said. 

With high hopes for a decent lunch, it was off to San Pablo Park at 12:30 for a barbecue to kick-off the campaign of Darryl Moore, a Peralta trustee and the heavy favorite for the City Council seat from southwest Berkeley’s District 2. 

Adding to Moore’s sense of inevitable victory, outgoing District 2 Councilmember Margaret Breland endorsed him before a crowd of about 90 people that included Mayor Bates, Assemblywoman Loni Hancock, School Board President John Selawsky, Tim Perry, Breland’s controversial choice for the Planning Commission, as well as councilmembers Linda Maio, Dona Spring and Worthington 

Moore said once elected he would interview all of Breland’s commission appointments, but wouldn’t guarantee any would keep their post. 

In a passionate speech, Moore called for the construction of a youth center in District 2, and couldn’t resist utilizing his politically catchy surname.  

“We need more safe streets and neighborhoods, more opportunity for our youth and seniors, more business to serve our communities and create jobs, more diversity, more affordable housing,” he shouted. 

When the excitement of the moment subsided, Moore acknowledged he might need more rhetorical devices. 

“We really wore that into the ground,” he said. 

From San Pablo Park, it was time to cross the Oakland border for Congresswoman Barbara Lee’s campaign kick-o ff at Snow Park. Among those representing Berkeley in an otherwise Oakland-dominated crowd of about 50 people were Bates, Hancock, Maio, Worthington, and their colleague on the City Council, Maudelle Shirek. 

The 93-year-old councilmember remained mum on her decision to run as a write-in candidate in District 3. Mel Martynn, a longtime aide to Councilmember Breland, confirmed that he would be working on the Shirek campaign, but refuted a published report that he would take over as campaign manager for Mi chael Berkowitz, a longtime Shirek aide. Berkowitz’ failure to collect the requisite number of constituent signatures cost Shirek her spot on the ballot. 

“He’s the natural fit for campaign manager,” Martynn said. “Who knows the political landscape of District 3 better than Mike Berkowitz?” 

Rep. Lee said after her speech she hadn’t encouraged Shirek to run, but would back her now that she was a candidate. 

“She’s got a history of service and a vision for the community,” Lee said. 

In an apparent slip-up, Lee’s Campaign Chair Lee Halterman outed long-time Lee aide Sandre Swanson as a candidate for State Assembly in 2006 when Assemblymember Wilma Chan is termed out. 

“It is my intent to run,” Swanson told the Planet after Halterman announced his candidacy. “I haven’t said anything publicly because I’m concentrating on this year’s election period.” 

The race to replace Chan is expected to draw a crowded field that will include Oakland City Attorney John Russo, whose staff said Monday he would also seek Cha n’s seat. 

For Berkeley school board candidate Karen Hemphill, who won Rep. Lee’s endorsement, Lee’s event was her third campaign kick-off of the day. 

“It’s incredibly exhausting, but you’ve got to do it,” Hemphill said. “How will people know what you st and for if you’re not out and about?” 

Accompanying Hemphill was her 14-year-old campaign aide, William Dolphin, who by 4 p.m. had become well acquainted with the city’s political elite. 

“I see a lot of the same faces here,” he said. 

The Berkeley High f reshman is an aspiring politician, with a strong bloodline. His father, also William Dolphin, works on media campaigns for pro-marijuana group Americans for Safe Access. Dolphin said he didn’t know if there would be a campaign kick-off for the ballot measure that would relax Berkeley’s marijuana laws for licensed patients and distributors. 

“Those guys don’t normally have their get-togethers in outdoor parks,” he said. 

With the sun starting to fall, it was time to zip over to the Jazz School in downtown Berkeley where School Board President John Selawsky and about a dozen campaign kick-off survivors finished the day in subdued fashion. 

Selawsky, who considered passing on a re-election bid earlier in the summer, said he was now committed to serving a second term.  

He received support Saturday from Moore, councilmembers Maio and Spring and two colleagues on the school board, Nancy Riddle and Shirley Issel.  

Issel, a licensed therapist, said Selawsky won her over during her stint as board president when he was the only school boardmember who heeded her call to start meetings on time. 

“This is a man who likes his mother and respects women,” she said, praising the fact that he responded to her request for more punctual meetings. 

County Superintendent She ila Jordan, who several weeks ago attended the campaign kickoff for two Selawsky rivals, Hemphill and Kalima Rose, said she too would back Selawsky. 

For Berkeley residents who prefer more unorthodox campaign kick-offs, the best may be yet to come. Next u p, on Oct. 15, will be a kick-off for Measure Q, an initiative to decriminalize prostitution in Berkeley 

“We’re going to blow it out for the measure,” said Sex Workers Outreach Project Director Robyn Few at Moore’s barbecue. “It’s going to be a lot of fu n.”U 

Brower Memorial May Land at Berkeley Marina: By RICHARD BRENNEMAN

Tuesday September 21, 2004

Berkeley’s Civic Arts Commissioners are being lobbied to make the Berkeley Marina home to “Spaceship Earth,” a 350,000-pound sculpture commemorating the late environmentalist David Brower. 

While San Francisco Arts Commissioners rejected the massive stone and bronze creation last year on the grounds that the work was aesthetically dubious and failed to honor either Brower or environmentalism, Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates has been actively pushing to install the work in his city. 

“The mayor’s very interested in seeing this installed,” said David Snippen, chair of the Berkeley Arts Commission. But he also acknowledged that the piece has its detractors. 

“There are strong opinions from both perspectives,” he said. “What I do not want to happen is a level of frustration develop to a point where an installation is mandated without public review.” 

Brower served as executive director of the Sierra Club until 1969, when he was fired. He promptly founded Friends of the Earth and the League of Conservation Voters that same year. 

Then, in 1982, he founded the Earth Island Institute. 

He was born in Berkeley on July 1, 1912, and died in his home here 88 years later, on Nov. 5, 2000, six months after he resigned in protest from the Sierra Club’s board of directors. 

The mass of the sculpture, designed by Finno-American sculptor Eino, is a 12-foot sphere composed of blue quartzite quarried in Brazil. The earth’s continents and islands are formed from 1,426 pieces of cast bronze, crowned by a life-size bronze representation of Brower. 

“The rock is beautiful,” said Mayor Bates. “It’s a gem,” saying that he’d be “very proud to have it here in the city of David Brower.” 

Bates added, “I don’t think people realize that David Brower personally approved this sculpture, and he personally approved of it being at the Marina. It’s a treasure.” 

The work was commissioned by Power Bar founders Brian and Jennifer Maxwell. They had intended the piece to be placed in San Francisco. Brian Maxwell died earlier this year in San Anselmo. 

The mayor, who had been a friend of both Brower and the Maxwells, chided critics who hadn’t even seen the sculpture, which remains in an unassembled state in a warehouse in the San Francisco Presidio. 

“We’re still trying to find out more about the sculpture,” Snippen said. “We’re still learning about this, and we’re still real, real short on the details. We had a meeting last week the attorney for the Maxwells. He told us one of Brower’s feet is standing on Berkeley.” 

A year-and-a-half earlier, similar pressure from the San Francisco County Board of Supervisors confronted the Visual Arts Committee of the San Francisco Arts Commission, which wound up rejecting Eino’s 175-ton creation, standing 15 feet tall including the figure of Brower atop the globe. 

A scathing one-page staff report by the San Francisco commission’s staff declared that “the monument is extremely grand and flamboyant. 

“The nature of the memorial is also in conflict with the message of the commemorated individual. David Brower was about the environment. The proposed memorial is large, heavy, and would create a significant environmental footprint with the footing that it would require. The committee considered the work to lack environmental sensitivity. 

“The aesthetic relationship of the figure to the globe is clumsy and poorly integrated. The depiction of the earth is the only reference to the environment and again does not suggest sensitivity to environmental issues.” 

The San Francisco Visual Arts Committee met to vote on the work on April 16, 2003. 

After staff member Debra Lehane told the panel that staffers considered the sculpture “ostentatious and aesthetically awkward,” arts commissioner Dugald Stermer, who had been a friend of Brower, declared that “the piece does not do honor to the environment nor to David Brower.” 

With one panel member abstaining, all of the remaining commissioners voted unanimously to reject the work. 

In Berkeley, Snippen and the Arts Commission are working with staff and members of the Waterfront Commission, some of who are expected to attend the first Berkeley Arts Commission’s Public Art Committee meeting from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. today (Tuesday) in the first floor conference room of the city Permit Center Building, 2120 Milvia St. 

The discussion will continue Wednesday night when the full Civic Arts Commission meets at 6:30 at the North Berkeley Senior Center, 1901 Hearst Ave. 

Though nowhere mentioned in the hype surrounding the statue, the term “Spaceship Earth” was coined by R. Buckminster Fuller, architect, designer, prolific writer and a countercultural icon of the 1960s. 

Fuller coined “Spaceship Earth” to remind his readers that all humans are aboard a finite sphere, hurtling through the frigid vacuum of space with a finite amount of resources in a biosphere that needed to be cherished and nurtured. 

The term quickly spread, and became a favorite of Brower’s, often used in his speeches and writings. 

Snippen said he also wants the commission and waterfront commissioners to look at a proposal he is floating to look at sculpture already in the Marina and possible sites for additional works with the idea of creating a sculpture walk. 

“It’s a wonderful environment for appreciating sculpture, and there are some fine works there already,” Snippen said. 


Developers, City Push Conversion to Condos: By RICHARD BRENNEMAN

Tuesday September 21, 2004

Thanks to changes in state law and a revised city ordinance, condos are making a comeback in Berkeley. 

“That’s definitely the way it seems to me,” said City Planner Debbie Sanderson. “Since the city ordinance was changed earlier this year, there’ve been a lot more applications.” 

Mayor Tom Bates, for one, is delighted. “Condos are a very important opportunity to provide more home ownership. Owners who build up equity in their property contribute to community stability,” he said. 

“I think it’s very important for the downtown area and for the community as a whole to provide more options for ownership. I think in terms of the quality of the community, because people who invest in their homes have a long-term interest in the community,” Bates said. 

Before this year, the last condominium projects built in Berkeley were two Patrick Kennedy projects from the 1990s, one at Shattuck and Hearst avenues and the other at University Avenue and Grant Street, said Tim Stroshane, senior planner for the city Housing Department. 

“There were no more significant projects until this year,” he said. “Now there are several proposals for new projects and a couple of other projects that already have use permits are being reconsidered as condos,” Stroshane said. 

One major impetus for condomania is a recent change in state law. 

“A lot of the problems arose from the tort claims environment condo builders have faced since the early ‘90s,” Stroshane said. Construction defect lawsuits had made developers gun-shy, as had the six- and seven-figure insurance fees needed to protect them from crushing judgments. 

State legislators eased the crisis by setting a 10-year statute of limitations on construction defects, and Berkeley added another key step by raising the amounts developers could charge for the 20 percent of units which must be set aside as inclusionary units for lower income tenants in all new condo and apartment projects. 

Sale prices of the inclusionary units are calculated according to the Oakland Metropolitan Area Median Income—AMI—which Stroshane said was running about $82,200 earlier this year. 

Under the earlier city policy, owners had to sell the first inclusionary condo at a maximum of three times 90 percent of AMI, or $221,940, and the remainder at three times 81 percent, or $188,746. 

“Developers in Berkeley were not doing new condo projects because under those formulas they couldn’t even recover their costs, much less make a profit,” Stroshane said. 

Berkeley revised its inclusionary pricing standards earlier this year, with the new formulae coming into effect on Feb. 26 that bracket inclusionary sales prices to levels between three times 80 percent ($246,600) and three times 120 percent ($295,920). 

“If the average construction cost is more than three times 120 percent of AMI, the developer can charge no more than that, but in the likely event costs are lower than three times 80 percent, the developer can still sell at three times 80 percent,” Stroshane said. 

The new regulations were enacted for a two-year period, and city staff will evaluate their impact before the ordinance expires to determine their impact on the city and make recommendations on modifications or continuance before the law sunsets. 

Stroshane said the developers of two previously approved apartment complexes are considering changing them to condos—an Avi Nevo project at Shattuck Avenue and Delaware Street and a Sam Sorokin development at 3075 Telegraph Ave. 

Another project that seems headed for condo status is the nine-story Seagate Building proposed for Center Street. Developers proposing another large project at 700 University Ave. have also indicated they may follow the same path. 

Another project, a three-to-five-story 69-unit complex at 1122 University Ave., has been planned as a condo complex from its inception. By allocating a fifth of the units to low- and lower-income tenants developer Alex Varum was able to add an additional 14 units to the 55 that would have been allowed without them. 

The developer of a nearly completed apartment at 2616 Telegraph has filed a plan revision for condos, but a spokesperson for K&S Properties in Emeryville said the units will be rented as apartments, and the condo filing was intended to make the property more attractive in the event of resale. 

Although Bates said the idea hadn’t occurred to him, condos are increasingly attractive to tax-starved city governments, thanks to the effects of property tax-limiting Proposition 13, which sets a ceiling on annual property tax increases that is far below the inflationary pace of the California real estate market. 

Assessment increases on all real estate are capped at two percent a year until the property is sold, when it is reassessed at the new sales price, with assessment increases thereafter kept to two percent until the next sale. 

Commercial property typically has a much lower turnover than residential property, so an apartment that remains in the hands of one owner over a period of years pays ever-smaller amounts of taxes in comparison to the building’s real value. 

But apartments in the same building sold for condos are turning over much more rapidly, kicking in ever-larger amounts to city and county coffers. 

While condos are priced considerably below detached single-family homes—with average sales prices of $355,000 versus $600,000 in Berkeley earlier this year—costs are still heading upward, Stroshane said. 

“(Developer) Chris Hudson told me recently that a chief reason for the soaring material costs is the intense development going on in China. Their demand is driving up prices worldwide,” said the planner.o

City Council is Back in Town, Will Address Pot Club Quotas: By MATTHEW ARTZ

Tuesday September 21, 2004

Three months after Oakland passed a law that effectively sent four pot clubs packing, Berkeley is making sure it doesn’t roll out the red carpet for them. 

Councilmembers Linda Maio and Margaret Breland are proposing that Berkeley establish a quota allowing no more than three medical marijuana dispensaries within city limits—the number currently operating aboveboard—and ensure they are located away from schools and from one another.  

If the City Council, as expected, passes the proposal at Tuesday’s meeting, city staff would draft the ordinance for council approval early next year. 

Dale Gieringer, California Coordinator of The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, charged that adoption of a quota system would be “anti-competitive and against the interest of patients and consumers.” 

The push for a quota, Maio said, stems from an Oakland ordinance passed last June, which established a strict four-club limit in that city. At the time Oakland had eight clubs concentrated in a section of downtown bounded by Telegraph Avenue and 17th Street, nicknamed “Oaksterdam.” 

Now the Oakland clubs that didn’t win a license are either operating underground or looking for new homes, Maio said, adding that she doesn’t want Berkeley to be the next East Bay city facing an uncontrolled proliferation of medical marijuana dispensaries. 

“If we limit the number of clubs, the police can better monitor them and we can keep them from concentrating in one area,” she said.  

Maio stressed that Berkeley’s three recognized clubs on Shattuck, San Pablo and Telegraph avenues have not drawn neighborhood complaints, but two years ago the city forced a fourth club from University Avenue after it had been the target of repeated armed robberies. 

Clubs in Berkeley sprouted up after California voters passed the Compassionate Use Act of 1996 that legalized medical marijuana. 

After a history of reasonably cordial relations, Berkeley’s pot clubs have clashed with the city this year. In January the Planning Department revoked a use permit that would have paved the way for the Cannabis Buyer’s Cooperative (CBCB) to move from Shattuck Avenue to Sacramento Street, where some neighbors feared it would attract more crime. More recently, the council rejected a proposal to boost the number of plants that medically-licensed cannabis users could grow. 

In response, medical cannabis advocates have initiated a ballot measure that would grant pot clubs by-right use permits to set up shop on commercial corridors and leave pot clubs regulations to a panel of club members. 

“I’d hate to think that Councilmembers Breland and Maio are retaliating against us,” said Don Duncan, director of the Berkeley Patients Group. 

With most councilmembers expressing support for a quota on clubs, the question is expected to be how many should be allowed. Though the police department recognizes the existence of only three clubs, Gieringer and Councilmember Kriss Worthington say there is a fourth smaller cooperative on the north end of Shattuck that could be forced out of business if the council imposed a three-club quota. 

“We need a reasonable quota that doesn’t tell police, ‘we’re allowing three clubs, let’s get rid of one,’” Worthington said. 

Maio said she had seen no evidence of a fourth club and if one existed, she would want to see “compelling” evidence that the city needed more than three clubs.  

Duncan estimated Berkeley has about 500 patients licensed to use medical marijuana. Berkeley Health Director Fred Madrano said the city doesn’t track the number of medical marijuana patients, but that “with three sites we’re covering Berkeley’s needs adequately.” 

In addition to settling on a quota, the council would still have to hash out most of the details of an ordinance. If more clubs move to Berkeley before a quota went into effect, for instance, the city would have to determine the criteria for deciding which clubs would get the city licenses. Also, the city would have to settle on how far the clubs must reside from schools and whether the city would tax the clubs. 

The Oakland ordinance established a licensing fee of between $5,000 and $20,000 for clubs, but Maio said she hadn’t thought of doing the same in Berkeley. 

Duncan said he wouldn’t oppose a fee, but was concerned that when city staff crafts an ordinance they will seek to add more regulations. 

Since Oakland passed its pot club law, Gieringer said, the clubs that didn’t receive a license have been in limbo, hoping that the city will raise the quota when it reconsiders the measure in January.  

But Larry Carroll, of Oakland’s City Administrator’s Office, said even by cutting down to four clubs the city still had capacity to serve patients in Oakland and throughout the East Bay. 

The Oakland law came about after a youth group that has since moved from “Oaksterdam” complained about smelling marijuana from a neighboring club.  

Oakland might be the first city to limit the proliferation of pot clubs, but Gieringer said no matter what Berkeley does, it won’t be the last. 

With the passage last year of SB420, which legalized patient cooperative cultivation clubs, he has received daily calls from patients eager to set up cooperatives in more conservative Central Valley cities that so far have not reacted kindly. 

“Any time a central valley town is approached about a cannabis club the City Council has an emergency meeting and they either ban it or allow only one club with unreasonable restrictions,” he said. “It’s happened in Oak Grove, Citrus Heights and Stockton.” 


District to Vote On Putting Wires Underground: By MATTHEW ARTZ

Tuesday September 21, 2004

For those who can’t wait until November to see democracy in action, Tuesday’s City Council meeting will include a first-of-its-kind vote. 

Two months after the council canceled a planned election amid concern that ballots contained outdated and insufficient information, the residents of 105 homes near the Kensington border will vote on whether to tax themselves $2.3 million to tear down utility poles and bury the wires underground. The vote tally will be announced at the meeting. 

The stakes aren’t just high for residents in the Thousand Oaks Heights Undergrounding District who would pay a household average of about $21,000 to underground utilities. With little public money available to pay for burying utilities underground, the City Council was hoping that the district would be the first of many to underground utilities for the city. 

“I’d like to see it go through,” said Councilmember Miriam Hawley, who represents the district. 

Undergrounding utilities is seen as a safety measure that limits the risk of fires and long-term service outages in the case of an earthquake.  

But residents are torn on the issue, with supporters arguing that the view enhancements and safety measures would improve home values and the quality of life in the district, and opponents insisting the district would place a financial burden on some residents so wealthier households could get a bay view free from obstructive utility wires. 

More than 70 percent of district residents have already shelled out a combined $183,945 for an initial study of the project, but enthusiasm waned when the cost estimates skyrocketed up to $3 million and the council, at the urging of undergrounding supporters, lowered the threshold of the votes needed for passage from 70 percent to 60 percent. Each household gets one vote. 

After a majority of residents on both sides of the debate urged the council at a July public hearing to restore the 70 percent threshold as an act of good faith, the council opted to require a two-thirds majority for passage of the district. State law allows it to set the approval threshold as low as 50 percent. 

Also updated projections have cut the estimated price down to $2.3 million. Households that have better views and are more centrally located in the district would pay a greater share of the cost. 

Earlier this month, the city mailed brochures to neighbors explaining financing schemes for homeowners who couldn’t pay for the undergrounding. 

“I wasn’t amused,” said Rosemary Green, who has lived in her house since 1970. “The degree of insensitivity these people have for neighbors who have all of their equity in their homes is unbelievable.” 

Carol Bledsoe maintained that the safety benefits of burying utilities outweighed the costs, but after serving on the undergrounding committee since its inception, she has no idea how the vote will go. 

“It should be very interesting,” she said. 

Governor Sends Mixed Message on Textbook Bills: By J. DOUGLAS ALLEN-TAYLOR

Tuesday September 21, 2004

In what the California Public Interest Research Group (CALPIRG) calls a “mixed message,” Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger last week split the baby on two bills designed to lower the cost of college textbooks, signing one that sets up a framework for possible book price reductions but vetoing a second bill that would have urged colleges to set up textbook rental services. 

CALPIRG sponsored both bills. 

In a press statement released last May when the two bills passed the Assembly, CALPIRG said that AB 2477 (the book price reduction bill sponsored by Assemblymember Carol Liu, D-La Canada Flintridge) and AB 2678 (the textbook rental bill sponsored by Assemblymember Paul Koretz, D-West Hollywood) “work together to lower the price of textbooks so that college students can spend less time working to pay for expensive textbooks and more time studying.” Neither bill would have made lower textbook costs mandatory. 

Both bills passed both houses of the Legislature easily, with local Assemblymembers Loni Hancock and Wilma Chan and Senator Don Perata voting for both bills.  

Assemblymember Koretz’ office said that textbook rental services would have “provided books to students for a fraction of the cost of purchasing” such textbooks. 

It is a matter of contention whether California universities and colleges already have the authority to set up textbook rental services. While Schwarzenegger says that “nothing in current statute prohibits a California university or college from establishing and maintaining” such a service, CALPIRG Legislative Director Steve Blackledge says that “some of them felt like they didn’t have the authority for the funding mechanism. ... [Koretz’ bill] made it quite clear that they had the authority to do it, and laid out some of the parameters where they could go about doing it.” 

In his AB 2678 veto message last week, Schwarzenegger said that while he “support(s) the author’s intention to lower textbook costs to college students, and am generally supportive of textbook rental programs as one means to make the overall cost of college attendance more affordable...I am opposed to provisions in the bill that would allow additional fees to be assessed to all students, even those not using the program, in order to keep a textbook rental service financially self sustaining.” 

Koretz disputed that contention, saying that “among the 20 colleges and universities in the U.S. with textbook rental programs, none require students to pay fees if they decide not to rent their books,” adding that his bill “left the decision of how fees would be levied” to the colleges themselves, “where it belongs.” 

But while Blackledge at first said that California colleges would model a textbook rental after what he called the “successful programs” in the country which have not charged mandatory textbook rental fees for all students, he conceded that there was nothing in the Koretz bill to ensure that California colleges would not charge such mandatory fees for all students. 

With the signing of the Liu bill, professors in California state universities, community colleges, and the University of California system will now be encouraged to “give consideration to the least costly practices in assigning textbooks” and to “disclose to students how new editions of textbooks are different from previous editions and the cost to students for textbooks selected.” The bill also discourages such textbook company practices as “bundling” textbooks with workbooks and CD-ROMS that the students do not necessarily use for their classes. 

Blackledge called the Liu bill “step one of what will eventually be a two-step process. It simply puts in place a series of best practices for the college textbook industry to follow, and to make it quite clear that the legislators and the State of California are concerned about [high textbook prices]. If [those suggestions] don’t happen, I think that a lot of legislators will be upset and will be looking to push something stronger in a year or two.”

Hate Crime Reported at Lawrence Hall: By J. DOUGLAS ALLEN-TAYLOR

Tuesday September 21, 2004

Incoming UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau is expected to meet privately this week with members of the college’s Hate and Bias Task Force to discuss last week’s suspected hate crime against seven female Muslim students. 

The students reported that last Thursday night three white males in a car threw water bottles at them and shouted racial epithets at the Vista Parking Lot of the Lawrence Hall of Science, according to a UC Police statement. 

The Daily Cal newspaper reported that one of the men covered his head with a cloth, apparently mimicking traditional Muslim women dress, and another, unaccountably, shouted “East Oakland nigger!” at them. 

UC Police have issued a press release which labels the incident a possible hate crime and are currently investigating. 

Outgoing Chancellor Robert Berdahl issued an open letter to the UC Berkeley campus community last week, condemning what he called “this terrible incident.” 

The Hate and Bias Task Force emerged from a student-initiated committee formed in the spring of 2003 in response to a number of hate and bias incidents on the UC campus, particularly harassment of Muslim and Arab students following the 9/11 terrorist attacks and threats made to Chicano and Latino undergraduates. At the student committee’s request, it was formally installed as a university task force by Berdahl last fall. 

City Backtracks on Conflict of Interest, Olds to Vote on Creeks: By MATTHEW ARTZ

Tuesday September 21, 2004

When the City Council revisits the dreaded creeks issue next week, Councilmember Betty Olds will finally be allowed to participate. 

Several months after banishing Olds—who has a creek running underneath her property—to the sidelines for a conflict of interest, City Attorney Manuela Albuquerque reinstated her, saying a state board essentially reversed its opinion on the matter. 

The written opinion by the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission could have ramifications for other councilmembers and commissioners. 

Albuquerque said she was now reviewing her decision to exclude Councilmember Linda Maio from discussions about new zoning for University Avenue. Maio lives adjacent to the thoroughfare. 

Olds would likely have remained excluded from the creeks debate had Planning Commissioner Tim Perry not asked Albuquerque last month if he should excuse himself from a commission debate on changes to the Landmarks Ordinance that would affect a property he owns. 

As she did for Olds, Albuquerque called up the FPPC hotline, only this time the telephone consultant advised her that Perry had no conflict of interest, even though his case was practically identical to Olds’. 

“I knew they had to be wrong on one of these,” Albuquerque said.  

She requested that a commission lawyer deliver a written opinion on the cases, and the opinion handed down found that both Olds and Perry were eligible to participate. 

Olds said it hadn’t occurred to her that the city didn’t have a written opinion when she was barred from the creeks debate. “I guess they should have asked for it in writing. It would have been a lot quicker than this.” 

From now on, Albuquerque said, the city would no longer accept the opinion of the FPPC’s telephone consultants. 

The council is scheduled to conduct a hearing on the creeks ordinance next Tuesday. The current ordinance forbids new construction within 30 feet of a creek and is mum on whether the homeowner or the city is responsible for fixing long-buried underground culverts.  

Councilmembers will soon get a reminder of the costs of maintaining the city’s underground creeks. This Tuesday, they will be asked to approve $250,000 in emergency funding to repair a broken Strawberry Creek culvert at Allston Way and Harold Way in the city center. The total repair project to be completed next year will cost an estimated $550,000 and come from the general fund and clean storm water fund. 

According to a city report, if the culvert is not repaired before the upcoming rainy season nearby properties could begin to sink.  

The Basic Rights to Equal Protection for All: By ANN FAGAN GINGER

Challenging Rights Violations
Tuesday September 21, 2004

All of the 184 Reports of human rights violations since 9/11 involve violations of rights and liberties under the U.S. Constitution Bill of Rights and Fourteenth Amendment; U.N Charter Article 55 and 56, and articles in the three human rights reporting treaties the U.S. ratified in 1992 and 1994: International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), Convention on Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), and Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT). 


3. Right Peaceably To Assemble and Petition the Government 

After 9/11 Bush, Cheney, Ashcroft, et al., urged using the new Patriot Act to find and stop all “anti-government” comments everywhere. The FBI and Secret Service got busy teaching local police “new” methods of “crowd control”—wooden dowels, sting balls, concussion grenades, tear gas and huge “nets” to enclose groups of people for quick arrests. Also “Free Speech Zones” to prevent any real First Amendment “petition[ing] the government for a redress of grievances.” 

Millions of men and women all across the U.S. disagreed about going to war and other Bush actions—U.S. citizens, veterans, long-time resident aliens, students, union members.  

Some found dramatic forms of individual protest. Most joined massive peaceful demonstrations, recently at the Republican National Convention, where police arrested 1,800, detained them in unhealthy conditions, and only released them 24 hours after a court order. 

Lawyers defended against the arrests. ACLU and others sued for an injunction against Free Speech Zones  

Report 3.5  

FBI Arrested Peaceful Palestinian Protester for Deportation  

(“Outcome of Amer Jubran’s final trial,” Amer Jubran Defense Comm., Nov. 24, 2003.) 

Report 3.6 

Miami Police Used Federal Money Against Peaceful Union Demonstration: AFL-CIO, et al. 

(“USWA Calls for Congressional Investigation into Police-State Assaults in Miami,” United Steelworkers, Nov. 24, 2003.) 

Report 3.8 

Military Punished Soldier for Wife’s Antiwar Protests: Jari Sheese 

(R. Gibson, “Vets for Peace on Veteran’s Day,” Free Speech Radio News, Nov. 11, 2003.)  

Report 3.9  

More Arrests at 2004 Republican National Convention than at any Party Convention in U.S. History 

(Sam Husseini, “Bush Accepts Nomination on Final Night of Convention Marked by Historic Protests and Dissent,” Democracy Now!, Sept. 3, 2004, National Lawyers Guild, New York City Office.) 


4. Right To Equal Protection Regardless of Race or National Origin 

After 9/11, discrimination on the basis of race and national origin increased markedly across the U.S. against “Arabs,” “Middle Easterners.” Attacks on “Latinos” and “Blacks” were under-reported. 

Basic U.S. law forbids the denial of “equal protection” (U.S. Constitution Fourteenth (and by court decision, Fifth Amendment). It requires the U.S. “to promote...human rights...for all without distinctions...” U.N. Charter Articles 55 and 56, and CERD.  

There were 751 active hate groups at the end of 2003, up from 471 in 1997, And U.S. Operation TARMAC caused the arrest of 700 “Latinos” but no terrorists. 

The U.S. Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice and the U.S. Civil Rights Commission took no effective measures to stop these practices.  

Report 4.1 

Racial Profiling of California Congressman and Others: Darrel Issa, et al. 

(Nicole Davis, “The Slippery Slope of Racial Profiling,” Color-lines, Dec. 2001.) 

Report 4.3 

Operation Tarmac Arrested 700 Latinos, No Terrorists: Southern CA and TX. 

(“Operation Tarmac: Overkill?” The Austin Chronicle, March 14, 2003.) 

Report 4.8 

Transportation Security Agency Screens Out 25, 000 Non-Citizens: Erlinda Valencia, et al. 

(David Bacon, “Screened Out,” The Nation, May 12, 2003.) 

Report 4.9 

Thousands of Workers File Discrimination Complaints with EEOC: Karim El-Raheb, et al. 

(Race/Color Discrimination Statistics,” Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Jan. 6, 2004.) 

Report 4.10 

U.S. Government Racism Plagues the Border: Ophelia Rivas, et al. 

(“U.S. Border Patrol Mexico-Arizona Border Fencing Project: Facts about the Fence,” Latin American Working Group, 2003.) 

Report 4.11 

U.S. Practices Deny Equal Protection to African Americans 

(Sherrel Wheeler Stewart, “Blacks Deaths in Iraq War Exceeds Rate in Vietnam,” BlackAmericaWeb.com, March 17, 2004.) 


5. Right To Equal Protection for Women 

Since 9/11, women and girls in the U.S. or under U.S. jurisdiction have had a harder life. They continue to earn less than men, and the gap increased since 2000, although they pay the same prices. Every mother and grandmother knows she can’t afford to pay another woman to take care of her offspring with what she has to pay a plumber.  

There is no record of action by the Women’s Bureau or the Civil Rights Division on these issues since 9/11. 

The Fourteenth Amendment forbids the denial of equal protection based on race; the Nineteenth Amendment granted women the vote. UN Charter Articles 55 and 56 specifically forbid sex discrimination. So does the (ratified) ICCPR. Pres. Carter signed, but the Senate never ratified, the Convention on Elimination of Discrimination Against Women. Bush has said nothing about this. 

Report 5.1 

Women Earning 76.6 percent of What Men Earn 

(“Welfare: NOW Calls for Real Reform,” National Org. for Women, Sept. 30, 2003.) 

Report 5.2 

U.S. Media Discriminating Against Women:  

(J. Pozner, “Missing Since 9-11: Women’s Voices,” Common Dreams, Dec. 13, 2001.) 

Report 5.4 

U.S. Troops Mistreating Women in Iraq 

(ICRC director of operations, Pierre Krähenbühl, “Iraq: ICRC explains position over detention report and treatment of prisoners,” May 8, 2004, International Committee of the Red Cross/Red Crescent.) 


6. Right To Free Exercise of Religion 

The First Amendment is clear: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”  

UN Charter Article 55, and many articles in ICCPR and CERD repeat this right and spell out all types of forbidden discrimination.  

After 9/11, Bush said the attackers were from Saudi Arabia. Many Americans did not know the difference between “Arabs,” “Muslims,” “Moslems,” “Shiite” and “Sunni Muslims.” So many attacked “the wrong people.” 

In 2001, the Justice Department rounded up and imprisoned over 1,000 people without charges, access to lawyers, or notifying their families. In March 2003, Ashcroft authorized FBI agents and state and local police to make routine immigration arrests for the first time, with no training in this law. This illegally transformed immigration law into criminal law, but without jury trials, etc. 

Ashcroft also began entering immigration data into the National Criminal Information Center (NCIC) database, formerly used only for criminal cases, and in March 2003 stopped requiring that such information be accurate and current. These acts violated the right to privacy (First and Ninth Amendments and ICCPR.) 

Report 6.1 

DOD Detains U.S. Army Muslim Chaplain: James Yee 

(Mike Barger, “All Charges Dropped, but Army Gags Yee,” Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Apr. 15, 2004.) 

Report 6.2 

FBI Arrests U.S. Citizen, President of American Muslim Foundation: Abdurahman Alamoudi 

(James Vincini, “FBI Arrests Man Linked to American Muslim Groups,” Reuters, Sept. 29, 2003.)  

Report 6.4 

U.S. Muslims Feeling a “Chilling Effect” 

(Executive Summary: The Status of Muslim Civil Rights in the U.S. 2004,” Council on American-Islamic Relations, Aug. 8, 2004.) 


To be continued… 


Berkeley resident Ann Fagan Ginger is a lawyer, teacher, activist and the author of 24 books. She won a civil liberties case in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in 1959. She is the founder and executive director of the Meiklejohn Civil Liberties Institute, a Berkeley-based center for human rights and peace law. 


Contents excerpted from Challenging U.S. Human Rights Violations Since 9/11, edited by Ann Fagan Ginger (© 2004 Meiklejohn Civil Liberties Institute; Prometheus Books 2005). Readers can go to http://mcli.org for a complete listing of reports and sources, with web links. 

A Father’s Retirement, Filling Empty Holes: By SUSAN PARKER

Tuesday September 21, 2004

At 73 years old, after 44 years of running his own business, and recent triple bypass surgery, my father went out in search of a job. Retirement was not his thing. 

He could not bear to spend another afternoon playing bridge with my mother and her blue-haired old friends. He tried yoga, martial arts and tap dancing. He took an introduction to computers class and he spent some time with his grandchildren. But what he really wanted to do was work. 

My mother encouraged him to find a job. He was driving her nuts, hanging around the house baking cookies. And there were just so many times she could beat him in Scrabble and expect him to recover. 

“But what kind of job can you get?” she asked as he prepared for his search. 

“Edna,” he answered. “Don’t be ridiculous. There are plenty of jobs out there for a talented guy like me.” 

He left the house with buoyant optimism. 

First he headed to the nearby Atlantic City casinos. He thought he could be an asset to their security system or valet parking crew. But when he asked for a job application he was met with an incredulous stare. 

“For whom do you want this application, sir?” a young man or woman would ask from behind a glass window. “For me,” he answered. “Who else?” 

They’d sigh and give him an employment form, accept it when he turned it in and mumble something about don’t call us, we’ll call you. My father went on to the next casino, and the next. Then he returned home and waited for the phone to ring. It didn’t. 

“Where are you going?” asked my mother one afternoon after she trounced him in another game of Scrabble. 

“I’ve got to get a job,” answered my dad. “I can’t spell worth a damn and if I bake another chocolate chip cookie I’ll barf.” 

He left in a huff. Tires screeched as he pulled out of the driveway in his Lincoln Continental Town Car. 

He was gone all day. When he returned, late that night, he was exhausted. He had visited every golf course between Atlantic City and Cape May. He had decided he wanted to drive big lawn mowers and cut grass. 

For three days he waited by the telephone. On the fourth day, a personnel director called from a nearby golf course. “We'll hire you, Mr. Parker,” he said. “Weekends only. Be here at 5 a.m. on Saturday morning. The pay is $6.50 per hour.” 

My dad hesitated for just a moment. “Okay boss,” he said. “I’ll be there.” 

When he arrived early the next morning at the club he was taught how to punch a time clock. He was given a plastic bucket full of dirt. His new supervisor, who was fifty years his junior, said, “Go out on the course, Parker, and fill every damn hole you can find with dirt. Don’t come back until you're sure there is not one divot left on the course.” 

“But what about driving a tractor?” asked my dad. “You saw on the application, didn’t you, that I have experience with lawn mowers?” 

The youngster stared at my dad. “Do you want this job or not Parker?” he asked. 

“Give me the bucket,” said my Dad. “You won't be sorry.” 

And that’s what my dad now does for a living. He fills empty holes with the horse manure he carries around in a plastic bucket in the early morning hours when the rest of the world is asleep. Oddly enough, he loves every minute of it. 

But he spends his time on the fairways, greens and in the roughs hoping that someday he will be promoted to lawn mowers. Once a week he calls me on the telephone and assures me that it is only a matter of time before the super recognizes his talents, gives him the keys and sets him loose. He’s good at filling those damn holes and they know it. 

Letters to the Editor

Tuesday September 21, 2004


Editors, Daily Planet: 

On Sept. 28 the City Council will consider revisions to the Creek Ordinance, that would prevent homeowners whose house is destroyed by fire, earthquake or other disaster, and is near a creek channel, whether open or not, from rebuilding what was lost without going through lengthy and costly hoops. 

Because so much is undefined in the proposed ordinance, we face a Pandora’s Box of regulations needed to implement it. Among the unknowns created are to allow rebuilding only if there is not a: 

• “Significant adverse impact on the creek.” How can a homeowner demonstrate that rebuilding the house has no “significant adverse impact” on the creek, when that term is not defined? This gets us into Kafka-land, with the homeowner taking on the burden of trying to prove an unknown. 

• “Feasible alternative.” Are there cost limits to what is feasible for the homeowner to spend on paying engineers, architects, etc. to explore alternatives? Are there limits to requiring an alternative that would cost more than just rebuilding what was lost? Why is it the homeowner who is made responsible for developing alternatives, when it is the city that wants them? 

It is certainly appropriate to conform to current building codes for safety and health. However, it is not appropriate to make homeowners trying to rebuild after a tragic loss of their house to go through undefined, costly and onerous hoops. Rather, the goal of the city should be to facilitate rebuilding and a return to normalcy after a disaster. 

Those proposed requirements attempt to turn the clock back to a time when Berkeley was undeveloped. That concept is unrealistic and inappropriate in a built-out community, and those requirements should be dropped altogether. 

Cy Silver 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I attended the Zoning Adjustments Board Hearing on Sept. 9 wherein Seagate Properties scored a corrupt victory for their proposed project (2041 Center St.) and I am still stunned.  

The ZAB heard well-reasoned opposition from the public and, as evidenced by their original vote, realized that this monster project, possibly over a creek, needs an environmental impact report (EIR). Then City Planner Debbie Sanderson began a dogged campaign to convince them that they were wrong. 

Amazingly, she succeeded; the ZAB voted again, this time to allow the project to proceed without an EIR. 

If one of our eloquent speakers (who were giving up their free time to attend this meeting because they actually care about Berkeley) had had equal time to rebut Ms. Sanderson, the ZAB may well have seen the foolishness of her recommendation. 

My understanding of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) is that it affords the public a chance to study and comment on a project which may affect their environment. That hearing took place, I believe, for the public to be heard. Instead, a biased staffmember commandeered it on behalf of the developer. 

Berkeley residents are being fleeced by exorbitant taxes which finance more staff per capita than any other city in the Bay Area, if not the country. Sadly, we are paying the salaries of staff who are working against us. 

Gale Garcia 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I am writing in response to Steve Pinto’s recent letter to the editor, which states “Go Away Blank Family.” 

While Mr. Pinto has a First Amendment right to express his opinions, he does not have the right to call the Blank family heirs “greedy” and communicate this falsehood to your entire readership. 

I am the daughter of Jerome Blank and an heir to the Blank Family Trust. I have never thrust myself or my name into the public spotlight and wish to be respected quietly by my friends, neighbors, colleagues and relatives. Mr. Pinto does not know me, and I definitely am not greedy. Mr. Pinto has maliciously and willfully defamed my name and thus has committed libel. By printing his disparaging comments, your newspaper has become a party to his action.  

Mr. Pinto has made a malicious statement about me, my mother and sister, which exposes us to public hatred, contempt, ridicule, and may cause the public to see and treat us, the living members of the Blank family, with less respect. It was hard enough to lose my father, but to have to put up with Mr. Pinto’s needlessly malicious comments is difficult, as well. (Anger management classes may solve his problem.) 

In his editorial, Mr. Pinto wished to state his opposition to telecommunication antennas being installed atop my late father’s office building. However, he strayed from his point by blaming my father for his support of the building of the Safeway Store on Solano Avenue in l964. (A little late, don’t ya think?) He insinuated that my father was a liar because he “promised” no negative effects, such as traffic and excess garbage, on the environment by the then new store. My father may have been a brilliant man, but he was not prescient. Who could have foreseen the massive population growth in Albany 40 years later? In the ‘60s, Albany was losing residents to the suburbs, and most families possessed only one car. Dad was not a liar. He was the most honest businessman most people have ever known, which is why he won the affectionate sobriquet “Mr. Albany.” Pinto’s argument against the antennas could have been very strong had it not been laced with hatred. 

Shame on you, Mr. Pinto! Shame on you, Daily Planet! 

Marcia Blank Kelly 

Topeka, Kansas 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I am writing in support of the Berkeley tax measures J, K and L. It is important for the taxpayers of our community to remember that we as individuals received both federal and state (vehicle license fees) tax cuts last year. These cuts were paid for in part by reductions in funding to our city, cutting important services.  

As I understand it, a middle class Berkeley citizen will pay out significantly less money as a result of J, K and L than received from the Bush and Schwarzenegger cuts. I want to support the important services our city provides to everyone who lives here and I ask my fellow citizens to do the same. 

Adlai S. Leiby 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

A recent article in your publication questions Sutter Health’s charity care program and alleges that Sutter overcharges uninsured patients. I had a very different experience and I think it’s important that your readers hear another story—my story.  

I was recently treated at a Sutter emergency room and admitted into the hospital. My wife and I have a small savings, own our home and make a very modest income—one that qualifies us to benefit from charity care. The financial office caseworker explained the program and suggested options that allowed me to be considered for Sutter’s charity care program. Even though I had some savings, the Sutter representative suggested that I keep it instead of using it to pay my hospital bill because, “I’d need the money to get back on my feet.” 

You can’t imagine how badly I needed that break and how thankful I am. The public keeps hearing the accusations, but I felt it important that your readers understand all the good that comes from charity care. Without it, I don’t know where I’d be today. 

Bill Farnsworth 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

According to the recent news, Bush is leading Kerry in polls by 10-11 points. Most probably Mr. Bush will be re-elected. His re-election shows that people in the U.S. endorse his policies, his war, etc. One should note that Hitler was fully supported by the nation of Germany. So long as the Americans want to drive their SUVs and to wastefully use half of the resources on the planet, then they should approve someone like Mr. Bush to go around the world and exploit other nations. I believe that people in the U.S. have to look at themselves first rather pointing finger at Mr. Bush and his regime. Perhaps it is better that Mr. Bush gets re-elected, because he will help the U.S. empire fall sooner than later. Once the U.S. empire has fallen, the rest of the world will be free of its hegemony. 

Yash Indrajit 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Becky O’Malley’s recent editorial (“Down at the Alligator’s Ball,” Daily Planet, Sept. 17-20) gives an unseemly example of a City Council candidate and current Zoning Adjustment Board commissioner accepting campaign contributions from people who have an interest in ZAB and council decisions. Berkeley’s current system of campaign fundraising means this “fishy” situation is too often the norm. 

Fortunately, there is a better way. Berkeley Measure H would make candidates responsive to Berkeley voters, not beholden to their donors. That is why Congresswoman Barbara Lee, the Sierra Club, the National Women’s Political Caucus, Common Cause, and dozens of others have endorsed Measure H. Vote yes on Measure H on Nov. 2—because democracy matters. 

Dan Newman 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

One would expect mudslinging and dirty politics to dominate the presidential election. I had always thought, however, that misleading statements and assertions without basis in reality had no place in our municipal public debate. Then I read Keith Winnard’s response (Letters, Daily Planet, Sept. 17-20). 

Winnard apparently has not done too much of his homework. He attempts to scare Berkeley residents by claiming that with Measure H “City funds may have to be spent to support the campaign of an anti-Semitic, racist homophobe!” I guess he does not know that the qualification requirements to receive public funding are high enough to ensure only serious candidates with deep community support can run for office. To receive public funds, a council candidate must collect 100 separate $5 contributions in district from registered voters. Mayoral candidates must collect 500 $5 contributions from registered voters in the city. Would anyone in Berkeley consider giving a $5 qualifying contribution to a self-proclaimed racist, anti-Semitic homophobe, let alone 100 people? I certainly wouldn’t, and I imagine Winnard wouldn’t either… 

Winnard apparently doesn’t know that at present incumbents generally outspend challengers two or three to one. I don’t understand Winnard’s logic that by making challengers financially competitive, incumbents somehow gain an advantage. Certainly all evidence in Maine and Arizona points to the contrary. 

Where fair and clean elections systems have been working extremely well for years, not once has a frivolous or vanity candidate qualified for public funds. All that the systems have done is increased participation in the political process (voter turnout has increased), made elections more competitive (incumbents are frequently challenged, what a noble thought!) and restored trust in government (elected officials are responsive to voters, not donors). 

Sam Ferguson 

Co-Chair, Berkeley Fair Elections Coalition, Yes on H 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

How do you feel about the many very large buildings that have been built or approved in recent years? 

Do you think it’s time to stop for a while until we see how we like these buildings and what their effects are? 

Michael Fullerton 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Being a real part of a community goes beyond the fact of living in a community. It goes beyond a casual “hello” and “how are you?” to your neighbor. No, being a part of a community is much more involved than this. In order to be a part of a community, one must first possess a sense of community. 

What is a community? Well, the dictionary defines community as ‘a body of people living in the same place under the same laws.’ According to this definition a city is a community. A state is a community. And a country is a community. This is plain and simple. Now, let’s focus on ‘a body of people living in the same place...’ and break it down a bit. 

Every ‘body’ is composed of individual parts. The ‘body’ called automobile is composed of wheels, tires, bumpers, an engine etc. A ‘body’ of people, like an automobile, can also be broken down into individual members that collectively make up the whole...Each person, like a car part, is different. Therefore each community is different. Each is a collection of different people. A collection of different ages and backgrounds. Each community has certain needs and concerns...but at the same time a community again is composed of smaller factions that connect with the whole picture. 

A community can have a collection of communities within itself. A church is a community in itself, while being a part of the braoder community it is located in. The same is true for a school. And each of these individual communities have an effect on the whole community. All of this is plain and simple. Now let’s break it down to the lowest denomination, the individual. 

An individual is like a pebble or a grain of sand. An individual has his or her own identity or personality. And like a pebble tossed in a still pool of water, an individual can cause a ripple effect that branches out endlessly. The key here, unlike a pebble, is being conscious of your individual effect on the whole picture. If each one pulls one and each one teaches one, the influence becomes quite powerful. 

But if an individual does not have a sense or an understanding of the whole community picture then the pulling and teaching is not unified. The community becomes a collection of pieces that don’t fit together to makeup the whole puzzle. 

This is our challenge. This is our goal: coming to grips with our individuality and how our individuality contributes to the broader picture. A grain of sand is merely a part of the whole beach. And understanding this is the beginning of having a real sense of community. 

Jonathan Wafer 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

After reading Matthew Artz’s story about the pension costs for our City Employees, I felt like shouting “Rape, pillage, plunder!” How did the unions concoct this sweetheart deal and who among our City Council was asleep at the switch when this Trojan horse slipped by? Referring to Mr. Artz’s story, an officer who retired at age 50 after 25 years on the force would receive 75 percent of his or her highest salary annually for LIFE.  

Now let’s crunch the numbers for a minute. I turned 70 this year and the U. S. government gave me my revised life expectancy which was 97! Do I realistically expect Medicare and Social Security to keep kicking in that long? My pension plan was a paltry IRA which I contributed 15 percent of my salary. Now factor in those excessive, obscenely generous, city pension plans which our city employees are not required to pay a single, solitary cent! And that also applies to their medical care. Wouldn’t the grocery clerks, our teachers, our struggling self-employed workers love such subsidies? 

Eventually these unfunded pension liabilities will break the financial backs of us property owners in Berkeley. I commend the journalists at the Daily Planet for showing us the writing on the wall. It’s wake-up time to go back to the drawing board. Intergenerational fairness is also at stake. 

Reverend Dennis Kuby,  

Unitarian Universalist 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Your discussion of comments this newspaper from readers at the Berkeley Daily Planet was very good—except that it was filled with reasons not to read your newspaper. The original Planet folded because it could not cope in a city that did not need a daily newspaper. Berkeley does need a newspaper; the Berkeley Voice is an awful paper filled with cronyism, cheeky writing when seriousness is all that is needed, and career local journalists who devalue the newspaper by remaining in attendance year in and out. This sounds familiar, no? 

It’s funny that while the Planet is sitting in a town that trains so many wonderful journalists that we don’t see more exciting features and photowork in your pages. Perhaps a partnership with UCB’s journalism school is in order. Realistically though, the serious problem this newspaper faces is how it will stop itself from becoming a part of city politics instead of being simply an observer of it. More to the point there is a constant sense that writers are returning to the same subjects and people to interview, as though the only resource available to writers is a phone and a contact book. Journalists should be extroverts...not happy to bide their time in a newsroom waiting for the news to come to them. 

John Parman 

BBC Asian Network 

Birmingham, England and Berkeley  




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I am not sure where or how to vent, but the homeless situation here is just out of control. I anticipate that my opinion is not popular given that this local population is socially aware and supportive, but can anyone advise what this City’s tact is when it comes to the homeless here? Maybe someone can tell me how to better handle the situation as a local resident. I have lived in two other major, east coast U.S. cities before and have never had to deal with this problem on an ongoing basis. 

Over the last few months, I have been aggressively approached when taking money out at the ATM (downtown and in North Berkeley), had homeless people put their faces two feet from my 2-year-old child in his stroller, experienced people practically taking food from my plate while sitting at outdoor cafes and been told by one young homeless person that I was a “MFer” since I did not give him money. In fact, a week after that interaction, that same person threw a stone at me when I was walking my child on the street. It seems like I can literally count the number of times each trip out of the house in which I have to deal with such situations. 

Other locals tell me this is “just the local flavor and diversity of Berkeley”. I would like to agree, but having to almost defend yourself is not adding to any type of flavor, but inhibiting the true potential to enjoy this great City. 

Doug Pestrak 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Thank you very much to Ann Fagan Ginger and the Meiklejohn Civil Liberties Institute, as well as the Daily Planet, for publishing the articles on our rights as human beings as defined by our U.S. Constitution and various international doctrines. 

In another era pre-9/11, the idea of being reminded that we have a right not to be killed and a right not to be tortured would appear to be absurd. But such are the surrealist Ashcrafty times and the neoCONNED circumstances of our country that one finds comfort in the stating of what is definitely no longer taken for granted. 

Personally I am very pessimistic about the future of out constitutional government. However, I fervently hope that Meiklejohn’s Institute’s work of monitoring and cataloging the terrible human rights abuses of this administration and Ann Ginger’s faith in codified law of the higher principles of humankind will help all of us to weather these dark days. 

Peter Teichner 


Tuesday September 21, 2004

Threatens Gun, Receives Cash 

A man wearing a multicolored sweater and claiming to have a gun walked into the Bank of American branch at 1536 Shattuck Ave. at 5 p.m. Thursday and demanded cash. 

When tellers complied with his demand, he fled on foot southbound along Shattuck, said Berkeley Police spokesperson Officer Joe Okies. 


Vandal Scratches N-word On Door 

A Berkeley resident who lives near the intersection of University and Shattuck avenues called police shortly before 5 p.m. Friday after discovering that someone had scratched the N-word into his front door. Police are classifying the incident as a hate crime, said Officer Okies. 


Verbal Fray Takes Nasty Turn 

A vocal spat between two Berkeley residents turned mean Friday evening when one of the pair pulled out a pistol and threatened his co-disputant. Police are still seeking the suspect.  


Loud Frat Party Draws Warning 

For the second time since the start of the school year, angry neighbors called police early Saturday morning to report an overly boisterous party at the Kappa Sigma fraternity house at 2400 Waring St., said Officer Okies. 

After police arrived at the party at 4:07 a.m., officers issued a second response citation—which means that the house must post a prominent notice warning that any further calls to the house will result in escalating fines. 


Andronico’s Wells Fargo Hit Again 

In yet another robbery at the Wells Fargo branch in the Andronico’s Market at University Avenue and Acton Street, a 40-something man clad in a multicolored sweater walked up to a teller at high noon Saturday and presented a note demanding cash. 

Greenbacks in hand, the robber was last seen fleeing through the market’s parking lot, said Officer Okies. 


Assault With Deadly Vase 

Police arrested a 36-year-old South Berkeley woman on charges of assault with a deadly weapon at 3:30 Saturday afternoon after she threw a vase at a fellow citizen. 


Teenage Girls Stage Carjack 

Two girls in their late teens yanked a hapless motorist out of his car shortly before 9 p.m. Saturday and drove off with his wheels. If police find them, the duo face being charged with carjacking. 


Duo Snatches Purse  

Two men approached a woman walking near the corner of Alcatraz and College avenues just after 10 p.m. Saturday, then grabbed her purse and fled on foot.i

Prostitutes in Berkeley: Are They Here to Stay?: By ANNIE KASSOF

Tuesday September 21, 2004

On Sunday at the How Berkeley Can You Be Parade, I engaged in a spirited conversation with Robyn Few, who had a table set up at Civic Center Park. Robyn Few, in case you haven’t heard, is the former sex worker who spearheaded the campaign to get Measure Q on the November ballot. Measure Q, if passed, will make the arrest and prosecution of prostitutes the lowest priority for Berkeley law enforcement—a possible first step, according to measure proponents, to legalizing a profession that no one expects to go away in any case. The measure is garnering widespread attention as yet another wacky, “only-in-Berkeley” concoction, so talking to Robyn while costumed, dreadlocked, half-naked people meandered by seemed fully appropriate. 

I have to admit I approached her table with attitude, although she wore a warm smile and a “Fuck Bush” bumper sticker on her behind. Holding my daughter by the hand, I launched right in asking Robyn where she lived. I ascertained that while she resides not far from a notorious stretch of San Pablo Avenue where prostitutes sometimes solicit in the middle of the day, it is clearly not like the southwest Berkeley Potter Creek neighborhood where my children and I reside. I told her about my 7-year-old seeing discarded condoms on the way to her school bus stop. I told her about the limousine driver who left his engine running mere feet from my bedroom window while he was getting a blow job in the back seat, until I shined a flashlight and he stumbled from the car yanking up his pants. Robyn was a charming, attentive listener, and even allowed as how she’s picked up used condoms herself from the streets of southwest Berkeley. She said Measure Q is designed to open up a dialogue about finding solutions to a problem that is likely here to stay. But when I raised concerns about prostitutes flocking here in droves if Measure Q passes, she poo-poo’d it as unrealistic, saying that there’s a misconception about its impact.  

I said if I were a prostitute and Measure Q passes, then I’d like to be a prostitute in Berkeley. She said that was silly; that prostitutes like everyone else have rent to pay, bills to pay, and they’re not going to just up and leave to come here if they’re already doing OK somewhere else. Measure Q, she explained was really about making things safer for the woman who police rarely arrest anyway. She suggested the way to deal with discarded condoms and their accompanying paraphernalia (empty liquor bottles, needles, etc.) was to push the city to have street cleaning in southwest Berkeley. 

I didn’t tell her it was hard for me to imagine the City of Berkeley picking out used condoms from the bougainvillea bush that grows next to my house, or from the alleyway between my home and my next-door-neighbors. Or reminding her how hard it is to get a good night’s sleep when horny johns are circling the block waiting for their favorite girl. I know she didn’t create the problem. 

I felt like a yuppie—though I’m not—when I broached the issue of possible plummeting property values if the Measure Q passes. Robyn’s demeanor finally changed from patient to haughty, and she accused me of caring more about the value of my home than about women’s rights.  

I became defensive, too, and I said I’d move out of Berkeley if Measure Q passed.  

Then, feeling I was wading into unknown territory, I stated that women always have a choice whether to prostitute themselves or not—though in reality I know that for some women it must seem the only way out of poverty, while others are likely coerced into it by pimps. Still, it’s hard for me to summon up a sort of blanket sympathy for women I don’t know and likely never will.  

I told Robyn I take care of foster kids, who have few if any choices how to live their lives. I didn’t tell her that the young girl—my adopted daughter—who by now was pulling on my hand to get her pizza, had been a foster child abandoned by a mother who had quite possibly been a prostitute at some point in her own life. 

But I want to say this now: I don’t know what will happen if Measure Q passes. I want to believe Robyn, that this is a step in the right direction. I do hope that any woman who doesn’t want to be a prostitute will always be free to make that choice. 

Beyond that, if I never see a discarded condom on the sidewalks of my neighborhood again, I’ll rejoice that even people with questionable morals have an iota of consciousness about our environment.  

Yeah, right. 


Annie Kassof its a freelance writer in Berkeley. 


Campaign 2004: Kerry’s Momentum: By BOB BURNETT

Tuesday September 21, 2004

When it was reported that George Bush had emerged from the vicious Republican convention with an 11-point lead over John Kerry, many Berkeley political activists seemed ready to concede defeat. “Kerry has blown it,” they moaned, “I’ve started to plan my relocation to Patagonia.” 

Subsequent polls first lowered the president’s bounce to single digits and then declared the race a dead heat. Nonetheless, local Democrats continue to be depressed; they feel that the Kerry campaign has lost its momentum—somewhere during the past six weeks the media focus shifted from Bush’s dreadful record to Kerry’s alleged character defects. 

Take heart Democrats, help is on the way! The race is so close that it is unlikely that Bush will be able to weasel out of the debates. When George W. ran for his second term as governor of Texas, he had such a big lead in the polls that he initially refused to debate his Democratic opponent, Gary Mauro; at the last moment he agreed to one debate on terms extremely unfavorable to Mauro. Many observers felt that if Bush moved into a substantial lead, he would pull the same trick with Kerry. Now it appears that there will be at least two debates, with the first on Sept. 30. 

Many political observers expect Kerry to do well, as his debating skills are legendary. (Of course, many of us remember that Al Gore was predicted to wallop Bush in the 2000 debates, but the challenger more than held his own.) Kerry has to win the debates, move ahead in the polls, and shift media focus back to the Bush record on the issues of war, economy, and character. 

Many Democrats initially supported Howard Dean rather than John Kerry, because Dean expressed our outrage over the war in Iraq. Now, Kerry must become the vehicle for this outrage. He must find the strength within himself to speak about the war in unmistakable terms, say that the invasion was a mistake that has hampered our struggle against Al Qaeda. He must make the case that a Kerry presidency will strengthen America. 

If you listened to the Republican convention, you came away with the impression that all Americans have prospered during the Bush era. To respond to this fantasy, Kerry should return to the populist “two Americas” rhetoric used by his running mate, John Edwards, and tell the truth about the Bush economic record: loss of 2.7 million decent jobs, millions without healthcare, gaping holes in the social safety net, and wanton destruction of the environment. Kerry needs to make the case that his presidency will restore the middle class and create opportunity for all Americans. 

Finally, if Kerry is to win on Nov. 2, he must challenge the president’s character; shatter the myth of Bush as America’s noble leader. The challenger can attack Bush on the grounds that he was AWOL during the latter part of his National Guard Service and asleep at the wheel before 9/11; and Kerry can remind voters that George was elected on the basis of his promise to restore dignity and responsibility to the White House. The president’s re-election campaign serves as a vivid example of how he has defaulted on this promise. During his Sept. 2 acceptance speech, one lie followed another. As one example, Bush claimed “America and the world are safer” because of his leadership, boasting that “more than three quarters of Al Qaeda’s key members and associates have been detained or killed.” As was the case with his other whoppers, this was a total fabrication. A year after 9/11, the Bush administration published a scorecard, which showed that 12 of the 32 top members of Al Qaeda had been killed or captured; two years later, only four more have been apprehended, and Al Qaeda has replaced all 16 of its departed leaders. America is not safer because of the Bush administration; most experts believe that because the war in Iraq has aided their recruiting efforts, Al Qaeda is stronger now than it was before 9/11. 

To win in November, Kerry must expose these lies and shift the media focus back to where it belongs—on the failures of the Bush administration. Rather than strengthen America, Bush has weakened our country within and without. Rather than restore character and responsibility to the White House, Bush has overseen an administration characterized by partisanship, secrecy, intimidation, and lies. In the next 45 days Kerry should have ample opportunity to make the case that he is the candidate that will fulfill the broken promises of the Bush administration—strengthen America by bringing us together. 

Take heart Democrats! It’s premature to throw in the towel, pack your bags and prepare for a hasty exit. There is still time for Kerry to regain the momentum and win the election. 


Berkeley resident Bob Burnett is working on a book about the Christian right. 

Principal’s Perspective on Willard Garden: By MICHELE PATTERSON

Tuesday September 21, 2004

The Willard garden has been a source of visual delight for both students and community members for many years. Beyond this, it is an important part of our educational program. There is a large and plentiful vegetable garden as well as the ornamental garden that fronts the school. Our garden coordinator, Matt Tsang, has been on the Willard staff for eight years. 

There have been a number of questions directed to the community through the Daily Planet about the site renovation project at Willard Middle School that need to be addressed. There are also a number of misunderstandings that need to be corrected. First, let’s just summarize the work being done this year. 

The Willard Middle School Grounds Improvement Project is a plan that has been long in the making, with school and community input, and the Telegraph Avenue gardens are only a part of the overall project. Since February 2004, there have been eight meetings to discuss the project and to develop the plans, plus a meeting with the entire Willard faculty. The project is expected to be completed in early November. 

The focus of this effort has been on providing a student gathering space in the central courtyard of the school, starting to unify the campus, and in various improvements to the exterior of the school. Next year, additional work will be done continuing those improvements inside the school The highlights of the project under construction now are: 

• The campus quad will include an amphitheater for 250 students, a lawn for informal play, and trees to define the quad and provide a gathering place and a 

center to the campus. 

• Entrances and gates are being improved. Due to traffic congestion on Stuart Street, the Telegraph Avenue entrance is being improved. The sidewalk is being 

widened, and the chain link fence through the garden along Telegraph is being replaced with an improved fence. 

• Drainage improvements are being made to the playing field. 

• The access road from Derby Street to the basketball courts is being paved. 

• Refinement of the garden area to unify the design, ensure student accessibility, and provide additional irrigation. 

• Removal of some of the fence enclosures to open the campus up. 

• A variety of other smaller enhancements to the site. 

The path through the garden has been the subject of some discussion. Over the summer when the architect took the plans to be approved by the state, the state architect noted that both students and community members use the space—thus any path needs to be accessible. Though this change happened over the summer, we should have done a better job informing the community as to why this change was being made, and discussing implementation options. Finally, photos taken in different seasons (and years!) will show a vastly different garden even if no work was done. 

Site meetings were held to discuss all aspects of this project, starting in January. The plan was presented to the School Board in March. The site meetings were attended by Willard staff, including myself, district staff, the landscape architect, and various parents and staff. According to notes from the landscape architect, Yolanda Huang, a former Willard parent, was at the first two meetings and several others. During the summer break, as the construction progressed, Huang has had regular contact with staff, sharing her good ideas and concerns. She has personally supervised some of the removal of plantings, and helped the site host a day for volunteers to help pull out plants before the tractor’s scheduled appearance. These plants have been saved for replanting. 

The various gardens at Willard have long been part of the school experience for students. We recognize their importance to our educational program here at Willard. We appreciate the community’s effort to help us maintain the gardens, enhancing both the appearance of the community and our children’s education. 

We ask for the community’s patience as the site goes through this construction phase. We remind everyone that even the beautiful new buildings at Berkeley High, as well as the new look at King Middle School, had to evolve through a construction phase to become the beautiful additions to the neighborhoods that they are today. 






Smoke ‘Em Out, Nuke ‘Em Out, Go Bears!

Tuesday September 21, 2004

Earlier this month the Cal Band announced a competition for the lyrics to a new fight song, the first for the band since 1978. The winning lyrics will accompany the new tune “California Triumph” written by UC Berkeley graduate student Hirokazu Hiraiwa. 

The song was played, without lyrics, for the first time Sept. 11. The deadline for entries was Sept. 16. The band plans to be ready to play the final version of the song, with the winning words, by January. 

Carol Denney sent the Daily Planet the following suggestions for the new fight song. Too late, unfortunately, for them to win the competition.  



Football Sonnet 

Why should we vex ourselves  

with games of skill 

When simple logic verities unveil 

It is not those who win who gain goodwill 

Black seas of deep resentment winners sail 

To trade the axe seems but pathetic sport 

More tragic for the backdrop budget squeeze 

Which strikes students in pocketbook and heart 

And brings the best departments to their knees 

Alas! Brave footballs sail and bounce about 

In sympathetic havoc—wanting out! 

Smoke ‘Em Out!  

Smoke ‘em out! Smoke ‘em out! 

Roll ‘em up and toke ‘em out! 

Pass around another joint 

Till the team says what’s the point 

Who cares what the score is 

Sing another chorus 

So what was the chorus? 

I don’t know! Here we go!...(repeat) 


Nuke ‘Em 

don’t just duke ‘em out 

nuke ‘em out! nuke ‘em out! 

victory will come when we drop the bomb! 

nuclear weapons stop them in seconds 

who needs brawn when we’ve got the bomb! 


we may suck at football 

but we’ll be at the roll call 

after the ultimate nuclear touchdown 

all the little suckers 

will envy us in bunkers 

after our ultimate nuclear touchdown 


Hurrah for Los Alamos! Hurrah for Livermore! 

we can press the button and shut you down forevermore! 

don’t be stupid 

nuke it! nuke it! 

nuclear waste, yeah 

we can make ‘em puke it! 






‘The Persians’ Recounts the Toll of War at Salamis: By KEN BULLOCK

Special to the Planet
Tuesday September 21, 2004

Upstage at the Aurora Theatre is a massive, offset portal of dark wood, monumental as though made of stone, through which the audience can see a sky with clouds that brighten as night seems to fall over the empire in Ellen McLaughlin’s version of Aeschylus’ tragedy, The Persians. 

Noted by the adapter as the earliest “full-length play in the Western canon,” The Persians is also “the only surviving Greek play that treats a contemporary theme”—that of the Greek victory over the Persian imperial army and navy at Salamis (481 B. C.). A decade before, Aeschylus had fought the Persians as a foot soldier at Marathon, where his brother died in combat.  

McLaughlin’s version was commissioned by Tony Randall’s National Actors’ Theater in March 2003 as a response to the invasion of Iraq—though Randall had wanted to stage the tragedy 12 years before. But McLaughlin specifically warns against “artificial parallels.” 

Four men in simple modern costumes that indicate their roles—the program lists them as State (Christopher Herold), Chairman (Owen Murphy), General (Paul Santiago), and Justice (Lawrence Thoo)—enter and array themselves as chorus: a chorus speaking to one another, sometimes in unison, of the great dust cloud they watch as the army moves west, of other signs of departure: “Here a curtain is pulled back and a face appears in the window [a mother’s face] . . . once again he is not there . . . she can’t stop looking for him . . . she has come to know him in his absence much better . . . so many people, but none of them him.” 

The cloud vanishes—“there is only silence. And so we wait.” 

Telling of the mass of soldiery “out of every corner of the empire,” they recount the diversity and exoticism of imperial force (accompanied by a string bass solo). And their syncopated belief: “What can’t such an army do? Nothing; nothing.” 

Queen Atossa (Lura Dolas) appears, widow of Darius, who led the Persians to Marathon—and mother of Xerxes, who leads them again towards Greece. “I don't know why I’m here. Perhaps you can tell me. But I had to get away—the mirrors were staring at each other so when I passed between them . . . too many of us, of me . . . through the palace alone, echoing and reflecting myself. There is not enough of me for so much grandeur.” 

She recounts dreams: Xerxes bucked from his chariot by a horse; a falcon tearing an eagle to pieces (accompanied by the elongated sound of strings). “Where is this Athens? . . . A vast distance . . . where the sun dies.” 

(McLaughlin’s lines are eloquent, bringing over something of the genuine irony of tragedy into English—that unspoken pause of meaning, far from the “artificial parallels” that pass for irony in today’s media.)  

A Herald appears, torn, bloody: “I am the last, the only survivor”—who has come halfway across the world to tell of disaster. “I hear it still . . . the cries of the men as they fell into the unforgiving darkness . . . and no-one to save them; men I couldn’t save, men I never knew; I'll never know.” And of the agony of the long retreat and those who survived: “Only a handful of us came through all of that, and we cannot look at each other.” Michael Wiles, slowly staggering about the stage, delivering this difficult, long, gut-wrenching speech, acquits it well. 

The chorus decries Xerxes, who the Herald said has survived, comparing him derogatorily with Darius. There’s something of the “chorus of humbugs” from Dallam Simpson’s version of Aeschylus’ The Agamemnon in the slippery way this chorus turns on their master, changing fluidly with the mood. A tympani accompanies their list of his sacrileges—the famous flogging of the waters of the Hellespont when a bridge of boats was broken. 

The Queen re-enters twice more: Her entrances in progressive mourning mark the dramatic shifts of mood. And Lura Dolas carries herself well; one of the old definitions of tragedy is the downfall of the mighty, and she shows us both terms of that. 

She performs two ironic welcomings—to her dead husband, Darius (Charles Shaw Robinson), in the first, one of the most affecting ghost scenes in our dramatic literature—and to her very young, defeated, castigated and self-deprecating son Xerxes (Craig W. Marker), who seeks expiation, kisses the Persian soil and asks, “Lead me home.” To the ascending sounds of strings and gongs, at first seemingly contradictory to the somber mood (Chris Houston’s incidental scoring is fine), the last lines are spare; the chorus doesn’t have the last word.  

Directed by Barbara Oliver, founder and—until recently—artistic director of Aurora, this is a sensitive production. But it’s still overshadowed to some degree by the difficulty of any presentation of tragedy today in English: the lack of a parallel—not in content, but in the liturgical power of the original—makes even eloquent translations seem like echoes of—or gestures towards—the rhetoric of the original alone. Sometimes this is represented by a Shakespearean or Scriptural idiom, or an unctuous mix of sanctimony. That’s far from the case here. But maybe the only substitute is through the bolder verse adaptations by poets—Ezra Pound’s Sophocles (which has indications for music that have a parallel with Aurora's use of it) and H. D.’s Euripides come to mind, or Witter Bynner’s Iphigenia for Isadora Duncan. 

A classics scholar friend told me The Persians was an anomaly for Aeschylus in that its Greek is much simpler than the ornate idiom in his other extant plays. I mentioned this to another spectator who had just read the original and praised McLaughlin’s adaptation for fidelity. 

“That’s in part due to its topical nature, events only a decade or so old everybody knew firsthand. Can you imagine an American playwright putting on a play about World War II seen through the eyes of the Nazis?” Then we both smiled wryly and said in unison, like the chorus, “Only Mel Brooks.” 





Arts Calendar

Tuesday September 21, 2004



Suzanne Lacke: Paintings opens at the Giorgi Gallery, 2911 Claremont Ave. at Ashby, and runs through Oct. 12. 848-1228. 


Loose Ends: “The Sixties” at 7:30 p.m. at the Pacific Film Archive. Cost is $4-$8. 642-0808. www.bampfa.berkeley.edu 


“Authors and Advocates” with Dave Eggers and Ayelet Waldman at 7:30 p.m. at College Preparatory School, Buttner Auditorium, 6100 Broadway, Oakland. Cost is $5-$10. 658-5202. www.collegerep.org/livetalk 

Joseph Coulson, El Cerrito resident and author of “Vanishing Moon,” reads at 7 p.m. at El Cerrito Library, 6510 Stockton Ave. 526-7512. 

Clive Barker returns with “Abarat II: Days of Magic, Nights of War” especially for young readers, at 7:30 p.m. at Cody’s Books. 845-7852. www.codysbooks.com 

Michael Schapiro describes “A Sense of Place: Great Writers Talk About Their Craft, Lives and Inspiration” at 7:30 p.m. at Easy Going Bookstore, 1385 Shattuck Ave. 843-3533. 


Berkeley Chamber Performances presents Strata Trio with Nathan Williams, clarinet, James Stern, violin/viola, and Audrey Andrist, piano at 8 p.m. at the Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant Ave. Tickets are $20. 525-5211. www.berkeleychamber.perform.org 

Henry Kaiser’s Grooves of Mystery, psychedelic blues rock dance party, at 8:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $9. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

Jazz House Jam, hosted by Darrell Green and Geechy Taylor at 8 p.m. at The Jazz House. Donation $5. www.thejazzhouse.com 

Baka Beyond, Africa-Celtic crossover, at 8 and 10 p.m. Yoshi’s at Jack London Square, through Wed. Cost is $12-$20. 238-9200. www.yoshis.com 

Jazzschool Tuesdays, a weekly showcase of ensembles from Berkeley Jazzschool at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 848-8277. 

Rob Ewing and Lisa Mazzacappa at 8 p.m. at Downtown. 649-3810. 



“¡Cuba Viva!” Thea Bellos’ large format photography at Berkeley Public Library Central Catalog Lobby, 2090 Kittredge at Shattuck. Exhibit runs through Nov. 24. 981-6100. 


Performance Anxiety: “Martha Rosler” at 7:30 p.m. at the Pacific Film Archive. Cost is $4-$8. 642-0808. www.bampfa.berkeley.edu 


Café Poetry hosted by Paradise at 7:30 p.m. at La Peña. Donation $2. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

Cintra Wilson describes “Colors Insulting to Nature” at 7:30 p.m. at Cody’s Books. 845-7852. www.codysbooks.com 

Jeffrey Lewis discusses his novel about two Yale grads of 1966 in “Meritocracy” at 7:30 p.m. at Barnes and Noble. 644-0861. 

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


Wednesday Noon Concert, Ting Chin, cello and Siu-Ting Mak, piano, at Hertz Hall, UC Campus. 642-4864. http://music.berkeley.edu 

Autumn Equinox Concert at 7 p.m. at The Chapel of the Chimes, 4499 Piedmont Ave. Oakland. Free. 

Jules Broussard, Ned Boynton and Bing Nathan at 8 p.m. at Downtown. 649-3810.  

Balkan Folk Dancing at 8 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Dance lesson at 7:30 p.m. Cost is $6. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

Tito Garcia Big Band at 8 p.m. at Shattuck Down Low, 2284 Shattuck Ave. Cost is $5-$10. 548-1159.  

Dan Pratt Quartet at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 848-8277. 

Carol Elizabeth Jones and Laurel Bliss with Tom Rozum, traditional country and bluegrass, at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $15.50-$16.50. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 

Acoustic Wednesday with Mikie Lee Prasad at 10 p.m. at Blakes on Telegraph. 848-0886. www.blakesontelegraph.com 



“In Defense of Liberty” A spontaneous artist-installed exhibition from 6 to 8 p.m. at Pro Arts, 550 Second St., Oakland. www.proartsgallery.org 


Maurice Pialat: “Police” at 7:30 p.m. at the Pacific Film Archive. Cost is $4-$8. 642-0808. www.bampfa.berkeley.edu 

“Orphans of Delerium” by Antero Alli at 9 p.m. at 21 Grand, 449-B 23rd St. Oakland. Cost is $7-$12. 444-7263. 


“Shen Wei on Shen Wei” The modern dance artist talks about his inspirations at 4:30 p.m., Geballe Room, Townsend Center for the Humanities, UC Campus. Admission is free. 642-0212. 

Heidenreich and Hofmann in Postwar New York Curator’s talk at 12:15 p.m. and panel discussion at 3 p.m. at Berkeley Art Museum, 2626 Bancroft Way. 642-0808. www.bampfa.berkeley.edu 

Lynette Chiang will discuss her book “The Handsomest Man in Cuba: A Bicycle Escapade” at 7 p.m. at El Cerrito Library, 6510 Stockton Ave., El Cerrito. 526-7512.  

Susanna Clarke introduces “Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell” at 7:30 p.m. at Cody’s Books. 845-7852. www.codysbooks.com 

Word Beat Reading Series at 7 p.m. with featured readers Buford Buntin and H.D. Moe, at Mediterraneum Caffe, 2475 Telegraph Ave. 526-5985.  


Battlefield Band, forward with Scotland’s past, at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $18.50-$19.50. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 

Jazz Mine,string swing jazz quartet, at 6:30 p.m. at King Tsin Chinese Restaurant, 1699 Solano Ave. www.jazzmine.net 

The Model Americans at 9:30 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $5. 841-2082.  


Gini Wilson, solo piano, at 8 p.m. at Downtown. 649-3810. 

Christian McBride Band at 8 and 10 p.m. through Sun. at Yoshi’s at Jack London Square. Cost is $10-$20. 238-9200. www.yoshis.com 



“Maisy” at 10:30 a.m. at Barnes and Noble. 644-3635. 


Aurora Theatre Company, “The Persians” at the Aurora Theatre and runs through Oct. 10. Tickets are $28-$45. 843-4822. www.auroratheatre.org 

Berkeley Rep, “The Secret in the Wings” at the Roda Theater, 2015 Addison St. until Oct. 17. Tickets are $10-$55. 647-2949. www.berkeleyrep.org 

California Shakespeare Theater, “All’s Well That Ends Well” Tues.-Fri. at 7:30 p.m., Sat at 8 p.m., Sun. at 4 p.m. at the Bruns Memorial Amphitheater, through Oct. 10. Tickets are $13-$32. 548-9666. www.calshakes.org 

Impact Theatre, “Fluffy Bunnies in a Field of Daisies” a sexually-honest comedy, at 8 p.m. at La Val’s Subterranean Theater, 1834 Euclid, and runs Thurs.-Sat. through Oct. 2. Tickets are $10-$15. 464-4468. www.impacttheatre.com 

“Landscape” by Harold Pinter, Fri.-Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 5 p.m., through Sept. 26, at Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant Ave. Tickets are $10 available at the door. 883-9872. www.nakedmasks.org 

Shotgun Players “Dog Act” Thurs. - Sun. at 8 p.m. at The Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby Ave. through Oct. 10. Free admission, pass the hat donation. 841-6500. www.shotgunplayers.org 

Unscripted Theater Company, “The Short and the Long of It,” an improv theater experience, Fri. and Sat. at 8 p.m. at Temescal Arts Center, 511 48th St. at Telegraph, through Oct. 2. Tickets are $7-$10. 415-869-5384. www.un-scripted.com 


Maurice Pialat: “Under Satan’s Sun” at 7:30 p.m., “A nos amours” at 9:30 p.m. at Pacific Film Archive. Cost is $4-$8. 642-0808. www.bampfa.berkeley.edu 


John Nichols reads from the first biography of the Vice President, “Dick: The Man who is President” at 12:30 p.m. at Cody’s Books. 845-7852. www.codysbooks.com 

Brian Doherty introduces “This is Burning Man” at 7:30 p.m. at Cody’s Books. 845-7852. www.codysbooks.com 


Berkeley Old-Time Music Festival, with Kate Breslin and Jody Stecher, Thompson String Tickler and the Earl White Band at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 

Wendy DeWitt and Stars of Glory perform boogie-woogie and gospel at 5 p.m. at Baltic Square, behind 121 Park Place, Pt. Richmond. Free concert presented by Point Richmond Music. 236-1401. www.pointrichmond.com/music 

“Archeology of Memory, Villa Grimaldi and the Autobiography of an Ex-Chess Player,” a multimedia presentation by Quique Cruz at 8 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $10-$15. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

Alma Melodiosa and Universal Language at 9 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $10 in advance, $13 at the door. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

Audrye Sessions, The New Trust, A Burning Water at 9:30 at Blakes on Telegraph. Cost is $7. 848-0886. www.blakesontelegraph.com 

20 Minute Loop, Moore Brothers, Mike Visser at 9:30 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $6. 841-2082. www.starryploughpub.com 

Clairdee & Ken French Trio Supper Club event at 8 p.m. at Downtown. Cost is $45. 649-3810. 

Mike Glendinning, solo jazz guitarist, at 7:30 p.m. at Nomad Cafe, 6500 Shattuck Ave. 595-5344. www.nomadcafe.net 

Pete Escovedo Latin Jazz Orchestra at 8 p.m. at the  

Jazzschool. Cost is $22. 845-5373. www.jazzschool.com 

Brothers Past at 9:30 p.m. at Shattuck Down Low, 2284 Shattuck Ave. Cost is $5-$8. 548-1159. www.shattuckdownlow.com 

Alphabet Soup at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 848-8277. 

Malady, Eskapo, Our Turn, The Observers at 8 p.m. at 924 Gilman St. Cost is $6. 525-9926. 



“Wild About Books” storytime at 10:30 a.m. at the Berkeley Public Library, 2090 Kittredge St. 981-6223. 


Pots from Parady’s Pope Valley Kiln, featuring work by Robert Brady, Scott Parady, Trent Burkett, Craig Petey and Tim Rowan. Reception at 5 p.m. at Trax Gallery, 1812 5th St. 540-8729. 

Shona Sculpture from Zimbabwe from noon to 6 p.m. at Kofa International Art, 1661 20th St., Suite 2, Oakland. 451-5632. www.shaonkofa.com 


“The Deliverance of Souls” at 7 p.m. in the All Souls Sanctuary, 2220 Cedar St. at Spruce. Donation$5 and up.  


Maurice Pialat: “Le Garçu” at 7 p.m. and “Loulou” at 9 p.m. at the Pacific Film Archive. Cost is $4-$8. 642-0808. www.bampfa.berkeley.edu 


Robert Strom on “Miss Peggy Lee: A Career Chronicle” at 2:30 p.m. the Berkeley Public Library 357-6292. 

Rhythm & Muse featuring John Rowe and Rita Bregman. Open mic sign-up 6:30 p.m., reading/performance 7 p.m. at Berkeley Art Center. 527-9753. 

Jonathan Stroud reads from the second volume in the Bartimaeus trilogy, “The Golem’s Eye,” especially for young readers, at 1 p.m. at Cody’s Books on Fourth St. 559-9500. 

Orhan Pamuk talks about a poet in a small Turkish village in “Snow” at 7:30 p.m. at Cody’s Books. 845-7852.  



Magnificat, early music ensemble, presents Iacomo Carissimi’s “Vanity of Vanities” at 8 p.m. at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church. For information see www.magnificatbaroque.org 

Shen Wei Dance Arts at 8 p.m. at Zellerbach Hall, UC Campus. Tickets are $26-$48. 642-9988. www.calperfs.berkeley.edu 

George Mann and Julius Margolin with Faith Petric sing songs for labor and justice at 7:30 p.m. at Berkeley Fellowship, 1606 Bonita. 841-4824. 

Stringband Contest at the Berkeley Farmer’s Market in Civic Center Park, Center St. and Milvia, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., including a Youth Division for the under-18 players. 848-5018. 

Berkeley Old Time Music Festival with Foghorn Stringband, Rich Hartness, and The Squirrely Stringband at 8 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Evie Ladin will give a clogging workshop at 6:30 p.m. Cost is $15. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

“Real Gothic Death Metal: Secular Songs of the 14th Century” at 7:30 p.m. at the Dzogchen Community West, 2748, Adeline Street, Suite D. Cost is $5-$10. www.sospiro.org 

Cactus Fire at 2 p.m. at Down Home Music, 10341 San Pablo Ave., El Cerrito. 525-2129. 

Brook Schoenfield & Friends at 7:30 p.m. at Nomad Cafe, 6500 Shattuck Ave. 595-5344. www.nomadcafe.net 

Mal Sharpe’s Big Money in Jazz at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 848-8277. 

Junius Courtney Band, nineteen piece swing jazz ensemble, at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $15.50-$16.50. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 

pickPocket ensemble performs European folk at 9:30 p.m. at Albatross, 1822 San Pablo Ave. Cost is $3. 843-2473. www.albatrosspub.com 

Anthony Blea y Su Charanga at 9:30 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $12. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

KGB, Dexter Danger at 9 p.m. at Blakes on Telegraph. Cost is $7. 848-0886. www.blakesontelegraph.com 

Coto Pincheira and Friends at 8 p.m. at the Jazzschool. Cost is $12-$18. 845-5373. www.jazzschool.com  

Sonic Calligraphy, jazz with Chinese folksongs, at 8 p.m. at The Jazz House. Cost is $8-$15 sliding scale. www.thejazz- 


American Starlet, Wandering Sons at 9:30 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $6. 841-2082. www.starryploughpub.com 

Bill Stewart Saxophone Quartet at 9 p.m. at Downtown. 649-3810. 

The Warriors, Allegiance, With or Without You at 8 p.m. at 924 Gilman St. Cost is $6. 525-9926. 



Yoruba Children’s Theater Workshop, led by storyteller and artist Obafemi Origunwa at 1 p.m. at Phoebe Hearst Museum, Bancroft Way at College. 643-7648. http://hearstmuseum.berkeley.edu 


7th International Juried Enamel Exhibition collector’s tour with Judy Stone at 2 p.m. at the ACCI Gallery, 1652 Shattuck Ave. 843-2527. www.accigallery.com 

Suzanne Lacke: Paintings Reception for the artist at noon at the Giorgi Gallery, 2911 Claremont Ave. at Ashby. Exhibition runs through Oct. 12. 848-1228. 


UPA Cartoons: “The McBoing Boing Revolution” at 5:30 p.m. at the Pacific Film Archive. Free screening. 642-0808. www.bampfa.berkeley.edu 


Poetry Flash with Brian Blanchfield, Srikanth Reddy and Carol Snow at 7:30 p.m. at Cody’s Books. Donation $2. 845-7852. www.codysbooks.com 

Rose Levy Beranbaum describes her new cookbook “The Bread Bible” at 4 p.m. at Cody’s Books on Fourth St. 559-9500. 


Jean Gray Hargrove Music Library Opening Celebration with lectures from 9 a.m. to noon, a concert of Italian music at 2:15 p.m. and dedication ceremony and reception at 3:15 p.m. UC Campus. 642-4864. http://music.berkeley.edu 

Salzburg Chamber Soloists perfrom Mozart, Mendelssohn and Dvorak, at 3 p.m. at Hertz Hall, UC Campus. Tickets are $48. 642-9988. www.calperfs.berkeley.edu 

Shen Wei Dance Arts at 8 p.m. at Zellerbach Hall, UC Campus. Tickets are $26-$48. 642-9988. www.calperfs.berkeley.edu 

Chamber Music Sundaes The Navarro Trio, Jeremy Constant, violin, Jill Rachuy Brindel, cello, Marilyn Thompson, piano at 3:15 p.m. at St John’s Presbyterian Church, 2727 College Ave. Tickets are $7-$19. 415-584-5946. 

Chamber Music: In the Company of Three Violin, organ and piano, at 7 p.m at First Presbyterian Church of Alameda, 2001 Santa Clara, Alameda. Tickets are $5-$10. 522-1477. www.alamedachurch.com  

Old Time Cabaret and jam session at 3 p.m. at Jupiter. Part of the Berkeley Old-Time Music Festival. 655-5715. 

East Bay Music Together Benefit Concert from 2 to 4:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $7-$35. Benefits East Bay Community Recovery. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

Joe Locke/Dave Pike Group, vibraphonists, at 4:30 at the  

Jazzschool. Cost is $20. 845-5373. www.jazzschool.com 

Shakuhachi Recital by Philip Gelb’s students at 3 p.m. at The Jazz House. Donation $8-$15. www.thejazzhouse.com 

Richard Shindell, contemporary song crafter, at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $18.50-$19.50. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org›

Skipper Butterflies Clean House by Flinging Frass: By JOE EATON

Special to the Planet
Tuesday September 21, 2004

I had a breakthrough of sorts this summer: I learned to identify skippers. A couple of skippers, at least. Thank God for good field guides, in this case Jeffrey Glassberg’s Butterflies Through Binoculars and Jim Brock and Kenn Kauffman’s Butterflies of North America. There’s a real satisfaction in being able to assign names to things, even things as obscure as the umber skippers in my back yard. 

Skippers are those small, mostly brown, hyperactive butterflies you may have noticed dashing around your flower bed and passed off as some kind of day-flying moth. They differ from typical butterflies in the shape of their antennae, which have a kink in the clubbed tip, and they tend to have thicker bodies and shorter wings.  

In some skippers, males have specialized scales on their forewings that produce pheromones to attract females. There are a lot of skippers—3,600 worldwide, about a third of all North American butterfly species—and, apart from a few flashy tropical types in Florida and south Texas, they all look pretty much alike. But with patience, it’s possible to sort them out. 

Lepidopterists believe skippers branched off from the main stem of butterfly evolution in the Cretaceous period, when the dinosaurs were still going strong. The caterpillars of early skippers probably ate plants in the legume family: lupine, locust, lotus, wisteria. Early on, though, one group, the grass skippers, developed a preference for monocotyledonous plants, mainly grasses and sedges. As the global climate cooled and grasslands displaced the old broadleaf evergreen forests of the northern continents, grass skippers spread and diversified along with the bigger grazers like horses and bison. 

Skipper caterpillars are modest-looking creatures, without the horns and bristles of some butterfly and moth larvae. After hatching, they roll up a leaf into a tube and stitch it in place with silk. This becomes home base, from which the caterpillar ventures out to feed. As it grows, it constructs successively larger tube nests; in the last one, it transforms into the pupa from which the adult butterfly will emerge. 

The caterpillars have one trait that’s really remarkable, and that inspired a recent article in the journal Ecology Letters entitled “Good housekeeping: Why do shelter-dwelling caterpillars fling their frass?” Frass is the collective term for the fecal pellets of larval insects. Years ago on a summer trip through New England, camping under an oak tree that was being defoliated by gypsy moths, I woke up to the patter of frass on the tent roof, like a gentle rain of Grape-Nuts. 

Skipper caterpillars, as first described by an entomologist named F. W. Frohawk in 1892, eject their frass from their leaf-tube nests with impressive velocity and range. There’s a structure on their rear end which was originally interpreted as a kind of catapult, but which has been shown to be a mechanical latch in an ejection system driven by a localized increase in blood pressure. 

Martha Weiss, the Georgetown University biologist who wrote the “Good housekeeping” article, studied the silver-spotted skipper, a handsome species that ranges from coast to coast. She found that skipper larvae can propel frass up to 39 times the length of their bodies. The older and larger the caterpillar, the greater the distance. With an average score of 19 body-lengths, 39 would be Olympic quality. Compare that with your world-class human shot-putters. 

And why do they do this? Weiss came up with 3 hypotheses: sanitation, crowding, and protection from enemies. If the caterpillars let frass accumulate, they might be vulnerable to fungal diseases. Or the buildup might force them to change shelters more often, wasting vital energy. Or they might be eliminating a cue that would lead predators and parasites to their nests.  

In an elegant set of experiments, Weiss shoveled frass back into the nests of some caterpillars while allowing control larvae to practice their usual housecleaning. She found that fungi grew on the frasspiles, but that this did not appear to harm the caterpillars, which reached maturity in similar numbers to the controls. And caterpillars repeatedly crowded out of house and home also did about as well as 

those that were left alone. 

But the predator trials had a dramatically different result. Weiss found that predatory wasps picked off skipper caterpillars in frass-filled nests more often than in untreated nests. They seemed to hunt by scent, ignoring nests with faux frass in the form of small black glass beads. You do have to respect the olfactory powers of wasps; some species can detect spiders in their subterranean burrows by smell. The Defense Department has funded research into the ability of parasitic wasps to sniff out nerve gas toxins or chemical signals from unexploded bombs and mines. 

The one question Weiss was unable to answer was, Why so far and so fast? The skipper larva’s system does seem a tad overengineered. 

She speculates that the speed and distance of the fling may be just a byproduct of larval physiology. 

Nonetheless, it does seem clear that frass-flinging is an advantageous behavior that must have been subject to natural selection—which, after all, can work on anything an organism does, any physical trait or behavior that varies among individuals. It’s an interesting point to contemplate in an election year when the frass is flying fast and furious. 














Berkeley This Week

Tuesday September 21, 2004


Afternoon Bird Walk from 4 to 5:30 p.m. at the Martin Luther King Jr. Shoreline. Turn into the park off Swan Way, follow the drive to the end and meet at the parking lot by the observation deck. 525-2233. 

Residential Green Building and Remodeling Learn about healthier building materials, how to lower your utility bills, reduce home maintenance and minimize remodeling construction waste. From 7 to 10 p.m. at the Building Education Center, 812 Page St. Cost is $35. 525-7610.  

Friends of Strawberry Creek meets from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the Central Berkeley Public Library Meeting Room in downtown Berkeley. We will be preparing comments for the Creek Ordinance Public Hearing. 524-4005. jennifermaryphd@hotmail.com, caroleschem@hotmail.com 

“Environmental Dominion and the Ecology of Genesis” with Greg Zuschlag at 7:30 p.m. in the GTU Dinner Board Room, 2400 Ridge Rd. 649-2560. www.gtu.edu/studentgroups/trees 

“Climbing Mt. Shasta” Lisa and Michael Krueger will show slides at 7 p.m. at REI, 1338 San Pablo Ave. 527-4140. 

Wellstone Democratic Club with John Judis, on “Will the Emerging Democratic Majority Defeat Bush in November?” at 7 p.m. at Humanist Hall, 390 27th St. www.DemocraticRenewal.us 

“National Security in the Age of Terror” A talk by Gary Hart, fromer U.S. Senator and co-chair of the U.S. Commission in National Security for the 21st Century at 4 p.m. at International House, 2299 Piedmont Ave. Sponsored by the Goldman School of Public Policy. 642-4670. 

Family Story Time at the Kensington Branch Library, Tues. evenings at 7 p.m. at 61 Arlington Ave. 524-3043. 

The New SAT with Tara Anderson of Kaplan Test Prep at 7 p.m. at Barnes and Noble, 2352 Shattuck Ave. 644-0861. 

“Are We Eating Too Much?” Is Caloric Restriction for You? with Toni Piechota, City of Berkeley Nutritionist, at 2 p.m. at the North Berkeley Senior Center.  

“Eligibility and Services of State Department of Vocational Rehabilitation” a talk by Sonia Peterson, MA, Rehab Counselor, at noon at the Herrick Campus, Alta Bates, 2001 Dwight Way. 644-3273. 

“Weight Loss Surgery: Is It for You?” A seminar at 6 p.m. at the Alta Bates Summit Medical Center, 400 Hawthorne Ave., Oakland. Free, but registration requested. 869-8972. 

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. Laurie Shay will speak about living with her guide dog and other issues for the blind at 11 a.m. 845-6830. 

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.  


Berkeley Path Wanderers Annual Meeting at 7 p.m. at the Hillside Club, 2286 Cedar St. Chuck Wollenberg will speak on the history of Berkeley. www.berkeleypaths.org 

“Demystifying the November Ballot” with Councilmembers Linda Maio and Kriss Worthington, at 1:30 p.m. at the North Berkeley Senior Center. Sponsored by Berkeley Gray Panthers. 548-9696. 

“Sowing for Need or Sowing for Greed” a film at 7 p.m. at Humanist Hall, 390 27th St., Oakland. Admission is free. 527-9898. www.gmofreeac.org 

Fall Equinox Gathering at the Interim Solar Calendar, Cesar Chavez Park in the Berkeley Marina. Begins promptly at 6:15 p.m. chavezmemorial@earthlink.net 

“The Issues: Terrorism and National Security” a panel discussion at 3 p.m. at 109 Moses Hall, UC Campus. Sponsored by the Institute of Governmental Studies. http://politics.berkeley.edu 

“The Unfolding National Tax Disaster” with David Cay Johnston and Chuck Collins at 7:30 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley, 1 Lawson Rd., Kensington. 525-0302.  

“Is Taiwan Chinese? The Politics of National Identity” Panel discussion at 4:30 p.m. at the IEAS conference room, 2223 Fulton St. http://ieas.berkeley.edu 

“Privatized Unemployment Insurance in Chile” with Kirsten Sehnbruch at 1 p.m. in the CLAS Conference Room, 2334 Bowditch St. 642-2088. 

“A Breath Inside a God” music and poetry workshop with Kim Rosen and Jami Sieber at 7 p.m. at 1517 Fifth St. Cost is $15-$20 sliding scale. To register email delphirose@earthlink.net 

Walk Berkeley for Seniors meets every Wednesday, rain or shine, at 9:30 a.m. at the Sea Breeze market, just west of the I-80 overpass. 548-9840. 

Walking Tour of Old Oakland around the restored 1870s business district. Meet at 10 a.m. in front of G.B. Ratto’s at 827 Washington St. For reservations call 238-3234. www.oaklandnet.com/walkingtours 

Argosy University Open House Information on programs in psychology, education or business, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at 999-A Canal Blvd. in Point Richmond. Event is free. 215-0277. www.argosyu.edu 

Prose Writers’ Workshop at 7 p.m. at the BRJCC, 1414 Walnut St. 524-3034.  

The Berkeley Tango Studio Beginners Series with Argentine tango master Paulo Araujo at 7:30 p.m. Series lasts three weeks. Cost is $35. to register call 655-3585. smling@msn.com 

Berkeley Peace Walk and Vigil with Sing for Peace at the Berkeley BART Station, corner of Shattuck and Center. Vigil at 6:30 p.m., Peace Walk at 7 p.m. www.geocities.com/vigil4peace/vigil 

“Roots of Jewish Humor: How It All Began in One Day in 1667” with humorist Mel Gordon, at 11:30 p.m. at the BRJCC, 1414 Walnut St. Cost is $5. 848-0237. 

“Sukkot: A Meeting Point between Cyclical and Linear” with Avital Plan, at 7 p.m. at the BRJCC, 1414 Walnut St. Cost is $5. 848-0237.  

Durga and the Dashain Harvest Festival of Kathmandu at 7 p.m. at Belladonna, 2436 Sacramento St. Cost is $10. 883-0600. www.belladonna.ws 

Want to Quit Smoking? Free smoking cessation program offered at the Over 60 Clinic, 3260 Sacramento St. at 1 p.m. To register call 428-4550. 

“Low Vision Magnifiers and General Eye Health,” with Patricia Hom at 1 p.m. at the North Berkeley Senior Center. Free. 981-5109.  


The Mexican Grey Wolf Slideshow and discussion on North America’s most imperiled mammal with Michael J. Robinson of the non-profit organization Center for Biological Diversity at 7 p.m. at the Ecology Center, 2530 San Pablo Ave. 548-2220, ext. 233. www.ecologycenter.org 

Berkeley Fire Station Open House from 1 to 4 p.m. at Station 3, 2710 Russell St. Tour the station, see a safety presentation, and historical display and enjoy hot dogs and cake. Families and children especially welcome. 981-5506. 

Oakland CarFree Day A transportation and smart growth fair from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Frank Ogawa Plaza in downtown Oakland. 849-4412. www.carfreecity.us/Oakland.html  

International Institute of the East Bay Open House from 4 to 7 p.m. at 449 15th St., Suite 201, Oakland. Join us to learn about our work serving immigrants and refugees. 451-2846. www.iieb.org 

UC Botanical Garden Docent Training classes begin and run through Feb. 18, Thurs. from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at 200 Centennial Drive. Fee is $150. Registration required. 643-2755. http://botanicalgarden.berkeley.edu 


Good Night Little Farm Help tuck in the animals for the night, groom a goat, kiss a rabbit, or sing to a chicken. Wear boots if you have them. From 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. at Tilden Nature Area, Tilden Park. 525-2233. www.ebparks.org 

Native Plant Sale and Open House at the Watershed Nursery from 3 to 7 p.m. and Sat. from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 155 Tamalpais Rd. 548-4714. www.TheWatershedNursery.com  

Free Compost for Berkeley Residents from 8:45 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. Berkeley Marina Maintenance Yard, 201 University Ave., next to Adventure Playground. 644-6566.  

Young Black Women’s Health Conference with drama and peer education to encourage young women to make healthier choices. Through Sun. at the Richmond Auditorium, 403 Civic Center Plaza, Richmond. 684-386. conference@muhsana.org 

City Commons Club Noon Luncheon with Donald R. Olander, PhD on “Scientific Frauds and Hoaxes.” 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. 

“In Our Own Voice: The Making of A Korean Community” with a film and panel disussion at 7 p.m. at the Oakland Museum, Oak and 10th Sts.  

Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival at 1:15 p.m. at the North Berkeley Senior Center. 981-5190.  

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. 655-6169. www.bpf.org 

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

Humanistic Yom Kippur/Kol Nidre with Kol Hadash, the Bay Area’s only Jewish Humanistic Congregation, at 7:30 p.m, at Veterans Memorial Hall, 1325 Portland Avenue, Albany. For tickets call 428-1492.  

Celebrate High Holy Days with the Aquarian Minyan at St. John’s Church, 2727 College Ave. 869-3510. www.aquarianminyan.org 


Mini Farmers A farm explortion program for children accompanied by an adult. Wear boots and prepare to get dirty. At 9 a.m. at Tilden Nature Area, in Tilden Park. Cost is $3-$5, registration required. 525-2233. www.ebparks.org 

Fall Pond Plunge Discover who lurks in the deep. With dip-nets and magnifiers we’ll search for backsimmers, dragon- 

flies and more. For ages 4 and up, from 2 to 3:30 p.m. at Tilden Nature Area, Tilden Park. 525-2233. www.ebparks.org 

Strawberry Creek Work Party from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Strawberry Creek Lodge, 1320 Addison St., between Bonar and Acton. Wear sturdy footwear and bring work gloves. Please RSVP to jandtkelly@igc.org so that we have enough refreshments. 

Restoration Work Day at San Pablo Creek at the El Sobrante Library. Join us as we extend the native plant garden toward the creek, from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Refreshments, tools, and gloves provided. 231-9566. 

Permaculture: Sustainable Gardening How to create a landscape that will have the diversity and stability of a natural ecosystem, at 10 a.m. at Magic Gardens Nursery, 729 Heinz Ave. 644-2351. www.magicgardens.com 

Alternative Materials: Cob and Strawbale Two natural building methods are currently undergoing renewed popularity. From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Building Education Center, 812 Page St. Cost is $75. 525-7610.  

Bay Friendly Gardening: The Basics A free workshop with gardening guide from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Alameda County Water District, 43885 Grimmer Blvd., Fremont. 444-7645. www.stopwaste.org 

Wildcat Canyon Hike with the Gay and Lesbian Sierrans A moderately rigorous hike of about 7 miles. Wear hiking boots, bring layered clothing, lunch, water and sunscreen. Carpool meets at 9:45 a.m. at Rockridge BART at the base of outside escalator. 594-0744. 

Free Emergency Preparedness Class on Disaster Mental Health from 9 a.m. to noon at 2100 Martin Luther King Jr. Way. To sign up call 981-5605. www. 


Berkeley Historical Sociey Walking Tour Ghost Campus The UC That Once Was led by Bruce Goodell, from 10 a.m. to noon. Cost is $8-$10. For information call 848-0181. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/histsoc/  

Walking Tour of Jack London Waterfront Meet at 10 a.m. at the corner of Broadway and Embarcadero. Tour lasts 90 minutes. For reservations call 238-3234. www.oaklandnet.com/walkingtours 

Herb Walk in Strawberry Canyon Learn to identify and use edible and medicinal plants that grow wild in the Bay Area. Meet at noon at the Strawberry Canyon Fire Trail head, below the UC Botanical Gardens on Centennial Drive. Cost is $6-$12. Offered by Pacific School of Herbal Medicine. 845-4028. www.pshm.org  

Neighborhood Coffee at 9 a.m. at Cafe Roma, College and Ashby. Sponsored by Berkeley Alliance of Neighborhood Associations. www.berkeleycna.com 

Artisan Marketplace featuring jewelry, oils, bath salts and potions, astrology readings, and food from 1 to 5 p.m. at Belladonna, 2436 Sacramento St. 883-0600. www.belladonna.ws 

Berkeley Youth Orchestra Auditions from 8 a.m. to noon. To schedule an audition or to find out more about the orchestra see www.byoweb.org 

Dance Allegro Ballroom Childrens Classes for ages 5-12 and 13 and up. Cost is $5 per class at 5855 Christie Avenue, Emeryville. 655-2888. www.allegroballroom.com  

First Annual Lebowski Drive-In celebrating all things Lebowski with blacktop bowling, trivia, costume contests and Mr. Pin. Screening at 8 p.m. at Lot 69, 1515 Harrison St. Cost is $5. www.oaklandish.org 

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. 

Humanistic Family Brown Bag Shabbat and High Holidays with Rabbinic Candidate Eva Goldfinger at 11 a.m. at the Albany Senior Center, 846 Masonic Ave. Bring your lunch. Activities for all ages. 428-1492. 


Run for Peace A 10k run and 5k run/walk with the United Nations Association East Bay Chapter, at 9 a.m. at Cesar Chavez Park, Berkeley Marina. 849-1752. unaeastbay@sbcglobal.net 

Berkeley Citizen Action Endorsement Meeting at 2 p.m. at the North Berkeley Senior Center. Annual dues $35, $15 low-income.  

Berkeley Old-Time Music Convention Workshops from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on various topics. For information call 415-431-0147. 

Jewel Lake Easy Walk Explore the history of the old reservoir now called Jewel Lake at 2 p.m. in Tilden Park. For ages 8 and up. 525-2233. 

Fall Plant Sale at UC Botanical Garden from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Members’ sale at 9 a.m. Memberships available at the door. 200 Centennial Drive. 643-2755. http://botanicalgarden.berkeley.edu 

Berkeley Community Orchard Festival, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Derby St. between Sacramento and Acton. A fundraiser for the orchard-to-be with food, free fruit and fun for children. 843-2808. 

“Afghanistan: A Fragile Peace” A documentary by Berkeley residents Olga Shalygin and Cliff Orloff airs on KQED, Channel 9 at 2 p.m.  

“The End of Suburbia: Oil Depletion and the Collapse of the American Dream” A film exploring the American way of life at 3 p.m. at the Parkway Theater, 1834 Park Blvd., Oakland. 415-740-8833. dave@postcarbon.org 

“Independent Unions, Democracy and the AFL-CIO” Forum sponsored by the Bay Area Labor Action Coalition at noon at at the Fellowship of Humanity Hall, 390 27th St., between Telegraph and Broadway, Oakland. 415-867-0628. www.laboractioncoalition.org 

“Which Road Forward For the Black Community?” A discussion forum sponsored by the Bay Area Black Radical Congress from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Fellowship of Humanity Hall, 390 27th St., between Telegraph and Broadway, Oakland. cheryl@urbanhabitat.org 

Berkeley City Club free tour from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at 2315 Durant Ave. Donations welcome. 848-7800. 

“Bush Ousting” Nudity-inspired rituals of Bush ousting at noon at People’s Park. debbiemoore@xplicitplayers.com 

“Religion and Spirituality in the Life and Work of Vincent Van Gough” with Marlene Aron at 9:30 a.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley, 1 Lawson Rd., Kensington. Part of the Personal Theology Seminars. 525-0302.  

Tibetan Buddhism with Sylvia Gretchen on “Love of Knowledge” at 6 p.m. at the Tibetan Nyingma Institute, 1815 Highland Pl. 843-6812. www.nyingmainstitute.com 


City Council meets Tues., Sept. 21, at 7 p.m in City Council Chambers, Sherry M. Kelly, city clerk, 981-6900. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/citycouncil 

Citizens Budget Review Commission meets Wed., Sept. 22, at 7 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center. 981-7041. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/commissions/budget 

Civic Arts Commission meets Wed., Sept. 22, at 6:30 p.m. at the North Berkeley Senior Center. Mary Ann Merker, 981-7533. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/commissions/civicarts 

Disaster Council meets Wed., Sept. 22, at 7 p.m., at the Emergency Operations Center, 997 Cedar St. Carol Lopes, 981-5514. www.ci.berkeley.ca. us/commissions/disaster 

Energy Commission meets Wed., Sept. 22, 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., Sept. 22, at 6:30 p.m. at 2640 MLK Jr. Way, at Derby. Harvey Turek, 981-5213. www.ci.erkeley.ca. 


Planning Commission meets Wed., Sept. 22, at 7 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center. Ruth Grimes, 981-7481. www.ci.berkeley. ca.us/commissions/planning 

Police Review Commission meets Wed. Sept. 22, at 7:30 p.m. at the South Berkeley Senior Center, Barbara Attard, 981-4950. 

Zoning Adjustments Board meets Thurs., Sept. 23, at 7 p.m., in City Council Chambers. Mark Rhoades, 981-7410. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/commissions/zoning  

Empty West Berkeley Building Destroyed in Two-Alarm Blaze: By RICHARD BRENNEMAN

Friday September 17, 2004

Berkeley firefighters battled a two-alarm fire in a vacant West Berkeley office building after the blaze was first reported at 4:25 a.m. Tuesday. 

When the last flames were extinguished 12 hours later, the building at 2332 Fourth St. lay in ruins, brought down by construction equipment after the building proved too dangerous for firefighters to enter, said Deputy Fire Chief David Orth. 

The building had stood vacant since a May 21, 2000 blaze that destroyed another building on the same lot as well as a building next door and damaged the structure that was destroyed Tuesday. 

The building had once housed the labs and offices of a computer manufacturer, and the owner had been seeking city permission to demolish the structure, Orth said. 

“The original fire four years ago began in a building used as a ‘burn-in’ room for testing computer parts. A heater started the fire which took out the testing building and spread into two nearby buildings,” Orth said. 

The other severely damaged structure, the Jetco building at 2334 Fourth St., remains a roofless gutted shell to this day. 

At the height of Tuesday’s blaze, one-fourth of the structure was heavily damaged and fire had spread throughout the buildings. 

“We poured in water from the outside, but because the property was at the end of the water lines, we didn’t have enough,” Orth said. 

“Initially, firefighters had to use ladders to enter the second floor windows and others cut in through the roof to fight the hot spots, but it so unsafe and we didn’t want to risk the lives of our firefighters going in to fight the hot spots,” Orth said. 

“The stairway had burned out and a penthouse on the roof had already partially collapsed into the structure, so we pulled the firefighters out and kept pouring water in from the outside.” 

With flames burning inside the walls at the core of the building, a call was made to the property owner with the request that he approve demolition of the burning area. 

“He rented an excavator and demolished about a quarter of the building and we ordered the rest torn down because it constituted an attractive nuisance,” Orth said. 

Even then, with the combined efforts of the crews of five engines and two trucks, the flames weren’t finally extinguished until after 4 p.m. 

“The main problem was the water supply,” Orth said. “It was a real issue for us.” 

Orth estimated cost of replacing the structure at $2.5 million, “although I don’t believe the property was insured,” he said. 

The deputy chief said the most probable cause of the fire was the band of homeless people who had squatted in the building. 

“There were several homeless people on scene when we arrived, and there was evidence of their presence throughout the building. The way the fire spread indicates that they were the cause,” Orth said. 

The homeless denizens had entered the property through a hole cut into the surrounding chain link face, he said. 

With that building gone, only the hulk next door remains from the 2000 fire. 

“The Jetco building has been a continuing project for the city’s problem properties crew. The owner’s been repeatedly cited and he’s accrued a substantial amount of fines, but nothing’s been done,” Orth said.  


Neighbor Sues Temple In Dispute Over Construction Problems: By MATTHEW ARTZ

Friday September 17, 2004

If good fences make good neighbors, Dan McLoughlin doesn’t think the folks who are moving next door look too promising.  

When the Berkeley resident returned to his home on Spruce Street from a morning run Wednesday he found construction workers, hired by his new neighbors, had sawed off and hauled away his vine and flower-covered wooden fence that divided the two properties and replaced it with about 100 feet of chain link construction. 

“I asked the construction crew, ‘Who told you to do this?’” McLoughlin said. “‘They said ‘Call [the owner’s] lawyers.’” 

Sounds like a minor neighborhood dispute?  

Not when the new neighbor happens to be Temple Beth El, which fought stiff local opposition to build their new home beside McLoughlin’s, and when the broken fence comes one day after McLoughlin filed suit against the congregation and its contractor, BBI Construction, seeking to halt construction on a portion of the new $8 million, 33,000-square-foot synagogue. 

“It seems like my lawsuit caused this vandalism,” McLoughlin said. According to a property survey he commissioned, the fence sat partly on both properties. 

Until recently McLoughlin had gotten on well with Beth El. In the summer of 2001 when neighbors, environmentalists and preservationists were in the midst of a three-year battle with the synagogue over its development plans, McLoughlin remained on the sidelines. He had withdrawn his opposition to the project in March of that year as part of an agreement with Beth El regulating how far it could build from his property line. 

The agreement, signed by both parties, specified that the new building would be set back 20 feet from McLoughlin’s property line. The setback space would be intended as “a landscaped area for quiet, passive uses by Beth El,” and Beth El would have to consult with McLoughlin over landscaping along the boundary, according to the agreement. 

But within months after the congregation broke ground in May 2003, McLoughlin said he realized the synagogue being built wasn’t the one that was promised. 

His complaint, filed Tuesday in Alameda County Superior Court, claims that Beth El is building a concrete staircase 10 feet from his property line. Next to it will sit an air venting system, also already under construction, and just four feet from the dividing line the synagogue is planning to build a concrete pathway from the sanctuary to Spruce Street. 

In his complaint, McLoughlin claimed he had to spend $4,398 on a lawyer and architect to disprove a claim by Beth El member and Planning Commission Chair Harry Pollack that the city required the stairs, venting system and walkway to be located within the setback area so the congregation couldn’t legally comply with the agreement. 

Pollack said he wouldn’t comment on the matter during the Jewish New Year holiday, which began Wednesday at sundown and ends Friday at sundown. 

“All I wanted was a quite area,” McLoughlin said. “That’s what I thought I had, but that’s not what they’ve done.” 

Not only has Beth El violated its agreement, he said, but the construction workers, by removing mature trees at the site of the new synagogue, have severed electrical lines that powered part of his house, damaged his gutter and roof and broken his sewer line. 

“We have to flush the toilet about two or three times now,” he said. 

McLoughlin insists he tried to work with Beth El to lessen the impact of the new construction and get them to pay for damages, but congregation leaders rebuffed him.  

The complaint also charged that congregation leaders assured him that the concrete stairway and walkway would only be for emergency access and that the venting system wouldn’t be audible from McLoughlin’s property, but they refused to put it in writing. 

“If they had done that I wouldn’t have sued them,” McLoughlin said. “But I’m not going to let them trample all over me and lie to me. I think if the congregation knew how these guys are acting they’d be quite appalled.” 

The suit asks for a declaration that Beth El breached its contract, a preliminary and permanent injunction preventing the synagogue from construction in set back area and trespassing in his property and an unspecified amount of compensation for damages.  

McLoughlin said he would file a separate motion asking a judge to halt work on the setback area on Monday when the Jewish New Year had ended.  

Beth El attorney Jonathan O’Donnell said “Temple Beth El has complied with its agreement,” but added that he had just received the complaint wasn’t prepared to address McLoughlin’s accusations. 

Pollack was a leading player in the 600-member congregation’s three-year struggle to beat back opposition to their move from their current home at the corner of Arch and Vine streets to the new site at 1301 Oxford St. The address is landmarked and was once home to the Napoleon Bonaparte Byrne Mansion, which burned down in 1985 and once served as a working farm for free slaves before Berkeley was incorporated as a city.  

Opponents charged the synagogue and its proposed 32-space parking lot resting over a creek bed would increase traffic in a residential neighborhood and eliminate any hope on unearthing that section of Codornices Creek. An eleventh-hour settlement that moved the parking lot and scaled down the synagogue spared the City Council from ruling on the project. 

Alan Gould, a neighbor and leader of opposition to the project, said in addition to McLoughlin’s issues, neighbors have complained that construction crews have started before 8 a.m. and that they park their trucks and keep heavy equipment on top of the creek bed, which he said could damage culverts directing the flow of the creek. 

“Our compromise didn’t say much about what they could do during construction,” he said. “Much to our chagrin they’re pretty much running roughshod over the creek corridor.” 

Uninsured Patients Charge Sutter With Price-Gouging: By J. DOUGLAS ALLEN-TAYLOR

Friday September 17, 2004

Health care patient advocates have filed two class action lawsuits in Bay Area state courts against hospital conglomerate Sutter Health, asking the court to halt what they call the corporation’s “price-gouging” of uninsured patients and return “unfair” profits back to the public. 

The lawsuits were announced this week at a sidewalk press conference by a small group of attorneys, health advocates, and patients held in front of Summit Hospital in Oakland. The press conference was videotaped by two plainclothes Summit security guards standing across the street. The guards said they had “no comment” when asked why they were videotaping the press conference. 

Sutter Health is a not-for-profit health care system which serves as the umbrella organization for 26 hospitals in Northern California—including the Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Oakland and Berkeley—and one hospital in Hawaii. The network also has a number of affiliated clinics, health care organizations, and physician medical foundations. 

Bill Gleason, a spokesperson for Sutter Health in Sacramento, said that Sutter “believes the complaints are baseless and misdirected. Practices of our hospitals around charity care charges and collections have always been consistent with the law and regulations.” Sutter Health has not yet filed answers to either lawsuit. 

At the press conference, Bill Sokol, one of the plaintiffs’ attorneys in the San Francisco-filed lawsuit, charged Sutter Health with participating in a “rapacious rip-off” and said the corporation “made $460 million in profit last year while calling itself a ‘non-profit.’” Sokol said Sutter’s profits came, in part, from $61 million in state and federal tax breaks. 

Among other things, the two lawsuits claim that Sutter “pursues aggressive collection techniques that often result in lawsuits, judgments, garnishments and bankruptcies against uninsured patients.” 

One of the lawsuits lists Nathaniel Pollack, an Albany resident and a former uninsured Alta Bates Summit patient, as a named plaintiff. The lawsuit claims that for a 10-day stay at Alta Bates Summit in 2003 for kidney failure, Pollack was charged close to $41,000 for treatment “largely consisting of...intravenous fluids to flush out his kidney.” 

Plaintiffs in the San Francisco lawsuit are represented by the Goldstein, Demchak, Baller firm and the Weinberg, Roger & Rosenfeld firm, both of Oakland, while plaintiffs in the Oakland lawsuit are represented by the Lieff, Cabraser, Heimann firm and Jenkins & Mulligan, both of San Francisco. 

Jessica Rothhaar, representing Health Access California, a statewide 501(c)(3) coaliton of more than 200 organizations advocating “quality, affordable health care for all Californians,” said that Sutter is guilty of the “outrageous practice of overcharging uninsured patients.” She said that the uninsured at Sutter hospitals are charged “three to 10 times what the privately-insured or patients in government-sponsored programs have to pay.”  

As one part of the overpayment charge, Sokol’s law firm produced what they said was a copy of a 2002 uninsured patient bill from California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco—also owned by Sutter Health—which shows three separate $8.73 charges for single 81 mg aspirin tablets. 

Christine McMurry, Media Relations Manager at California Pacific Medical Center, said she could not confirm the accuracy of the bill. But McMurry said she did not find such a charge for aspirin “unusual.” 

“It’s easy to be shocked at a price like that, and I can understand why someone might complain,” she said. “But hospital bills do not merely reflect the actual unit price of an item; they also reflect other costs billed in that are not reflected in other parts of the bill. You won’t see a charge on a patient bill for four nurses at $60 an hour, for example, but those charges—and other operating costs for such things as technicians and janitors—are added to item charges. That’s a standard hospital billing practice, not just for our hospital.” 

Sutter spokesperson Gleason said that while he had not yet studied the two lawsuit complaints in detail, “they clearly contain information provided by SEIU Local 250, a labor union that has been waging a campaign against Sutter Health for a decade. Much of the information that SEIU has developed is wrong.” 

Gleason refuted the excess profits charge, noting that as a not-for-profit organization, Sutter Health “invests any income above expenses into new programs, new services, new facilities, and we have quite an outstanding track record in that regard.” 

He said that while Sutter hospitals “have always offered charity care to people who couldn’t afford to pay,” those charity care policies changed this year with what he called a clarification of Medicare regulations. 

“Until this year,” he said, “hospitals around the country have interpreted Medicare regulations as prohibiting them from offering discounts to patients without insurance.” He called the Medicare clarification “as a green light for hospitals to begin offering discounted pricing for people without insurance. Our hospitals were among the first to step up and begin offering discounts.” 

Gleason said that under the new charity-care guidelines, uninsured patients at 200 percent of the federal poverty guidelines or less ($37,700 for a family of four) “receive a full write-off for our services; they get free care,” while patients between 200 and 400 percent of the federal poverty guidelines (up to $75,400 for a family of four) “are entitled to a substantial discount,” paying the equivalent of what the Sutter hospitals receive from Medicare for any given service plus 20 percent.  

At the Summit Hospital press conference, Rothhaar of Health Access said that consumers would have to “wait and see” if Sutter Health care actually implemented those new charity care discount policies. She added that the two Bay Area lawsuits were part of a two-pronged effort aimed at lowering uninsured patient costs. 

The second prong is in the form of state legislation sponsored by State Senator Deborah Ortiz (D-Sacramento). SB 379, which has passed both houses of the legislature and is sitting on Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s desk awaiting signature or possible veto, would require acute care hospitals in the state to develop charity care and reduced payment policies for patients unable to pay their bills. A spokesperson for the governor’s office said that the governor had not yet taken a position on the bill. The governor has until the end of September to take action. 

Sutter spokesperson Gleason said that Sutter Health has not taken a position on the Ortiz bill. “It’s somewhat of a moot point” for Sutter Health, he said, “because we have stepped up and addressed the issues that are contained in that legislation. Our charity care is probably fairly consistent with what is contained in the bill.” 

Gleason said the only substantial difference he knew about between Ortiz’ bill and the Sutter hospitals’ charity care policies was that the bill included charity discounts at “straight Medicare reimbursement rates,” while Sutter hospitals added 20 percent to that cost in their charity patient bills.

‘Car Free’ Day Parade Features Art Cars

Friday September 17, 2004

The ninth-annual How Berkeley Can You Be? Parade and Festival will run in conjunction with the city’s first Car Free Day on Sunday. 

The parade, scheduled from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., will begin at University Avenue and Sacramento Street and wind through downtown to Civic Center Park. The festival, which runs from 12:30 p.m. until 5 p.m. in the park, will have live music, dancing, food booths and children’s activities. 

The parade’s theme this year is “Loco-motion” and will feature alternative ways to get around other than cars, including roller-skates, solar-powered skateboards, electric go-carts and a fuel cell bus. 

To accommodate the parade and encourage people to go “car free” for the day, the festival will include expanded street closures downtown (see map). 

Karen Hester, co-coordinator, said the How Berkeley Can You Be? Festival, will showcase the best of the city as well as showing its sense of humor. 

“It’s going to be bigger and wackier and more irreverent than ever,” she said. “It’s to celebrate the creativity and diversity of Berkeley and really it’s a chance to laugh at ourselves a little.” 

International Car Free Day, which began in 1997 in La Rochelle, France, now includes about 1,500 towns in 40 countries, according to the Berkeley’s event organizers. The day was designed to encourage people to think about transportation options. 

“There’s a reason why people make fun of Berkeley,” Hester said. “It’s because the city does things that people respond to and end up adopting, like curb side recycling, we were the first to do that. And now with Car Free Day, I’m sure it will raise eyebrows and provoke laughs, but 10 years from now it will be a Bay Area phenomena.” 

But not all cars will be unwelcome at the parade. As always, the tail end of the parade will feature a contingent of art cars from the Bay Area Art Car Fest, which traditionally wraps up its annual three-day event with the Berkeley parade, said Justin Katz, one of the organizers of the Berkeley festival. 

“The parade has a long history of working with the Art Car Fest as well as we wanted to work with city of Berkeley this year to promote Car Free Day,” Katz said. “At first it may seem irreconcilable, but another way to look at it is as promoting various forms of alternative vehicles. I like to say that I hope one day the only cars will be art.” 

In the parade Katz will be driving his own art car—a 29-foot-wide, nine-foot-long bat car, with wings powered by bicycle wheels—towing a vegetable oil generator which will be powering a funk band playing on top of an attached float.@

Proposed Transfer of School Radio Station Surprises El Cerrito Officials: By JAKOB SCHILLER

Friday September 17, 2004

A proposal to transfer control of the El Cerrito High School educational radio station to a private non-profit has sent shockwaves through the West Contra Costa School District. 

The proposal, drafted by Paul Ehara, who is responsible for the district’s public relations, along with a district legal counsel, would turn over managerial control of the station, KECG 88.1 FM and 97.7 FM, to MORE Public Radio, an Oakland-based non-profit that provides blues, jazz and gospel programming for broadcast and Intern et radio stations. 

“It was a shock that we had not had more of a discussion around this issue until now,” said Glen Price, a school board member. 

It also raised concern among parents and the El Cerrito High School principal Vince Rhea, who said he was n ever informed about the proposed agreement. 

The proposal was drafted, according to Ehara, because Vince Kilmartin, the district’s associate superintendent of the operations division, wanted to find an organization to sponsor the radio station as a way to keep it alive. 

“The district needed to have some kind of an agreement with another organization that would be willing to operate the station at no cost to the district, and MPR was a good candidate,” Ehara said. 

They turned to MPR because the district already had an arrangement where MPR provided weekend and evening programming to fill the gaps when the school wasn’t using the station. On July 1 MPR assumed interim management responsibilities until an official agreement is reached. 

The station’s $68,3 92 budget was cut by the district in an effort to try and close a $16.5 million district-wide gap last year. Under the agreement MPR will operate the station for free, but the school will continue to own the station and therefore be able to maintain the m ain FCC license. 

In return, MPR will be allowed to raise money by seeking commercial sponsors to underwrite the programming they air. They will also receive the secondary FCC license for the station’s other dial spot at 97.7 FM, which is a translator sta tion that rebroadcasts 88.1, for a period of seven years. 

This will help MPR cover funding for the station, according to Prentice Woods, the CEO of MPR, because certain grants require the applicant to hold an FCC license. 

This is the first time MPR will be responsible for managing a station. Woods said the organization usually only provides programming to other stations. It also runs radio training classes for the youth in the Bay Area out of its Oakland office. 

Full control of the station means MPR wi ll manage the day to day operations of the “offices, studios, station transmission, and equipment, and the personnel, business, financial and legal affairs as they relate to the [lease management agreement].” 

MPR will also control the programming schedul e. 

Phillip Morgan, the current radio programming teacher who has run the station for the El Cerrito High School since it started back in the early nineties, said the deal gives too much power to MPR and threatens the school’s ability to program the stati on as it wishes. He also questioned the legality of the FCC license transfer. 

The school district now has to approach MPR to ask for programming time. Kids are only guaranteed programming time from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Friday. At a station th e school owns, said Morgan, kids should not have to ask for airtime. 

Woods, from MPR, said the school’s airtime needs will trump MPR’s programming schedule, but that promise does not appear in the draft agreement. 

The FCC could not be reached for commen t and a lawyer who represents the school and KECG said he did not have enough information to comment about whether the district could transfer the FCC license for 97.7 FM to MPR. 

In the meantime, students who ran programs outside the allotted 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. spot are still waiting to see if they get their shows back. Students Daniel Tureck and Kayvahn Steck-Bayat, who ran “The Dose,” which played hip-hop from around the world during what they referred to as the homework spot, or 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, are among them. 

“This is where I discovered what I want to do,” said Tureck, who had an internship with Youth Radio in Berkeley last year and is pursuing an internship with 92.7 FM, a Bay Area hip-hop station.  

Tureck said he does not wa nt to be in the position of having to ask for his show back. Instead, he said the slot should be available, as it was when the school ran the station. He plans to advertise the next school board meeting during the school’s airtime because he wants to enco urage students to turn out to protest the proposed agreement. 


Mayor Pushes Tax Hikes To Help Close Budget Deficit: By MATTHEW ARTZ

Friday September 17, 2004

With a taxpayer revolt mounting, Mayor Tom Bates is trying to shore up voter support for three proposed tax hikes, arguing that Berkeley has been a model of fiscal discipline during its prolonged budget crisis. 

“People have a perception of Berkeley not being a financially sound city. That is not the case,” Bates told reporters gathered at a Tuesday press conference where he unveiled his fiscal recovery plan.  

The 19-page plan booklet gives an overview of the city’s effort to close a $33.3 million short fall from fiscal year 2003 through 2009.  

Among the city’s accomplishments so far, the plan lists: 

• Cutting $14.3 million in spending since fiscal year 2003. 

• Eliminating more than 100 city positions, nearly all of them already vacant. 

• Compelling city unions to agree to a one-time giveback of about 2.5 percent of their scheduled 2005 pay raises. 

• Maintaining a AA3 bond rating from Moody’s, which the mayor said is tops for any city Berkeley’s size. 

But the plan also presents voters with a stark choice this November. If they don’t back three tax hikes totaling $5.7 million dollars, school crossing guards would be eliminated, seven police officer positions would go unfilled, a fire truck would be taken out of service during winter, and programs that help youth, seniors and the homeless would all be slashed. 

“We want the people to understand what’s at risk if they don’t pass the taxes,” said Bates, who was joined at the Tuesday press conference by councilmembers Linda Maio and Miriam Hawley. The plan is essentially a summary of the City Council’s budget debate last spring and offers no new policies that would require council approval. 

To tackle an estimated $15.7 million in deficits still remaining through fiscal year 2009, the plan calls for a combination of $6.1 million spending cuts, $5.7 million in tax increases and about $500,000 in general fund reserves. Additionally, the plan projects the city will reap $3.4 million in economic growth, based on city and county forecasts. In total, spending cuts would account for 61 percent of the recovery plan, while new taxes would amount to just 17 percent. 

But tax hike opponents were quick to dismiss the plan as political propaganda, rife with scare tactics that underlined core political problems at City Hall. 

“I call it the ‘political crisis recovery plan,’” said District 5 city council candidate Barbara Gilbert. “The purpose is to shore up support for the tax measures and their chosen candidates.” 

Michael Wilson, spokesperson for the newly formed Berkeleyans Against Soaring Taxes (BASTA), an alliance of neighborhood groups, criticized the mayor for creating a series of false choices for taxpayers. 

“There has been no effort to prioritize city services,” he said. “The city can find money elsewhere without cutting programs for children.” 

Also galling to Wilson was that city tax dollars went to pay for the booklet, which he maintained was essentially a pamphlet supporting the tax increases that should have been paid with private funds. 

“Voters need look no further for an example of wasteful spending than the mayor’s plan printed at taxpayer expense,” he said. 

Cisco DeVries, the mayor’s chief of staff, said the booklets will not be mailed to residents and the only costs incurred were photocopying pages and staff time. An official campaign kick-off in support of the tax measures is scheduled for Saturday. 

The mayor is pushing hard for three taxes on the November ballot:  

• A 1.5 percent increase in the Utility Users Tax that would raise $2.7 million for the general fund and expire in four years, 

• A one-half percent increase in the property transfer tax, set to expire in six years, for properties that sold for over $600,000 that would raise $2.2 million for youth services, 

• A $1.2 million increase in the Emergency Medical Services tax. 

Also on the ballot is an increase to the library tax that would cost the average homeowner $41 a year and a schools tax that would cost $185 a year. In all, if voters approved all five measures, the average homeowner’s tax bill would increase by about $300. 

Historically that likely wouldn’t have been too much to ask of Berkeley voters, but the tide against taxes has begun to turn. After Berkeley voters approved five out of six new spending measures in 2000, they rejected three out of four in 2002. And last year a revolt led by neighborhood groups forced the city to withdraw a proposed $7.5 million parcel tax scheduled for the March ballot. 

Data released by the city this spring showed that last year the average Berkeley homeowners shelled out about $4,128 in local taxes and assessments compared to $4,008 in Albany and $3,703 in Oakland. The primary difference was that, for voter-approved special taxes, Berkeley charged a rate based on the property’s assessed value, while Albany and Oakland charged a flat fee per parcel. 

Instead of asking taxpayers to dig deeper, tax opponents want the city to squeeze money out of nonprofits and UC Berkeley which are exempt from city assessments, and to renegotiate labor deals that gave city unions substantial raises and committed Berkeley, unlike many other California cities, to pay their employees’ full pension contributions to the California Public Employee Retirement System (CALPERS). 

The city’s contributions to CALPERS have skyrocketed 136 percent from 5.8 million in 2003 to $13.7 million this year. For the coming fiscal year CALPERS rate increases have already gone up $1 million, contributing to a rise in the projected budget deficit from $6 million to $7.5 million. 

Bates, however, maintained that reopening union contracts wasn’t realistic and that he was confident that if voters passed the taxes this year, the city could return to firm fiscal footing while still paying for employee pension benefits. 

“We have a solid plan in place,” he said. “We’re not going to keep coming out asking people to bail us out.”

UC, Developer Still Talking About Hotel: By RICHARD BRENNEMAN

Friday September 17, 2004

Despite rumors to the contrary floating around the city in recent days, UC Berkeley and powerhouse hotelier Carpenter & Co. are continuing to hammer out a deal that would add yet another tower to the tallest intersection in Berkeley. 

As proof, Kevin Hufferd—project manager for UC—pointed to the recently concluded six-month extension to the one-year exclusive negotiating agreement between the school and the developer that expired Sept. 1. 

“We’re working with the developer, trying to frame and look at a variety of issues,” Hufferd said. “It’s taken longer than we thought.”  

The notion of another Berkeley-scale giant, developed by a sovereign branch of government outside city control, at the intersection of Shattuck Avenue and Center Street was something of a shock when first broached by UC. 

To provide a focus for concerns, the city planning commission formed a subcommittee to hold meetings with concerned citizens and organizations and then create a non-binding wish list to present to the university. The UC Hotel task force held its final session April 27, submitting its final report to the Planning Commission. 

Hufferd said that when specifics had been hammered out, the results would be presented to the community. “We’re looking at how it can be planned in a community context,” Hufferd said. “We heard that loud and clear in the spring.” 

Asked for specifics about the negotiations, Hufferd said, “There’s a whole range of issues. The project’s feasibility depends on the variety and mix of uses. How many rooms, how much conference space, how many ancillary uses, the likelihood of community acceptance.” 

Hufferd again promised that “there will be more community involvement when we have some specifics down the road. We’ll be meeting the community at a time when we have more of substance to present.” 

A San Francisco-based Carpenter & Co. official confirmed the ongoing negotiations.


Friday September 17, 2004

Found: One Bullet Hole 

Berkeley police were summoned to Famous Phones at 2397 San Pablo Ave. at 3:30 p.m. Monday after a clerk discovered a bullet hole in a side window. 

Because no gunshot had been heard, the shot could have been fired any time after the store closed for the day on Sunday, said Berkeley Police spokesperson Officer Joe Okies. 


Roommate Spat Turns Ugly 

A 57-year-old North Berkeley man was arrested early Tuesday morning on a weapons charge and for threatening to do serious injury or death to his roommate.:

LBL’s Switch to Ethanol Fuels Controversy: By ANNA OBERTHUR

Special to the Planet
Friday September 17, 2004

Growing corn in America’s heartland, distilling it into alcohol and mixing it with gasoline to power vehicles may sound like an ingenious way to be freed from dependency on foreign oil, cut down on air pollution and begin the transition to a renewable energy source. 

But depending on where you stand, ethanol, a grain alcohol usually made from corn, is either the answer to the United State’s energy concerns or a too-good-to-be-true boondoggle that serves only to pad the pockets of those who manufacture it. 

Regardless of who’s right, production and consumption of ethanol is on the rise, doubling since 2001. Eighty-one plants in 20 states are expected to produce more than 3.3 billion gallons of ethanol by the end of 2004, according to the Renewable Fuels Association, the national trade group for ethanol. 

The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory is now running about one-fifth of its vehicle fleet on E-85, a gasohol blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline. The lab made the switch in July with an $83,000 Department of Energy grant, building Northern California’s first ethanol fueling station. 

Nearly every gas tank in California has some ethanol in it. Since the state banned MTBE, California refiners have been using ethanol to meet a federal oxygenate requirement.  

Although it’s supposed to help reduce emissions, California officials believe gasoline would actually burn cleaner without the two percent mandate and have requested a waiver. 

While touted as a renewable, cleaner burning fuel, critics call ethanol fundamentally unsustainable and argue its production is fouling the water and polluting the air. What’s worse, they say, it’s propped up by billions of dollars in subsidies. 

“It’s a real boondoggle, no question about it,” said David Pimentel, a professor of agricultural sciences at Cornell University, who has chaired two Department of Energy studies on ethanol. “It’s going to take a good deal of fossil energy (to make it) and we’re going to import energy from the Saudis to do it.” 

Most ethanol in the U.S. comes from corn, the nation’s biggest crop. The plant and how it is grown are key elements in the debate over the subject, which ranges from the meaning of sustainability to how best to tackle the country’s energy needs as cheap oil supplies dwindle. 

Pimentel and UC Berkeley engineering professor Tad Patzek argue in separate studies that the production of corn ethanol actually consumes more fossil fuel energy than the product can provide, in addition to destroying the environment.  

“The most important part of the story is that while we are producing ethanol we are using up resources,” Patzek said. “Don’t think for a second you are getting a free ride.”  

In his paper “Thermodynamics of the Corn-Ethanol Biofuel Cycle,” which is to be published in the journal Critical Reviews in Plant Sciences in December, Patzek argues that energy from corn ethanol is fundamentally unsustainable.  

With the corn crop’s heavy need for insecticides, herbicides and fertilizers, the production depletes the soil and pollutes the air and water, also contributing to greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, he said.  

“The worst thing is, we are doing it for no good reason. It’s of no benefit to anyone in this country,” Patzek said. “Nobody gains, nobody.” 

This is a point vehemently denied by the ethanol industry, which says the product reduces smog-forming pollution, displaces imported fossil fuels and lowers prices for consumers. 

Numerous studies, including one by the USDA, have shown that ethanol has a “large and growing positive energy balance,” said Monte Shaw of the Renewable Fuels Association. 

“Is ethanol a perfect product? I guess you could argue no, because you use fossil fuels to create it,” Shaw said. “But if you want to criticize ethanol, it’s fair to say, What’s the cost of continued reliance on fossil fuels? We’re going to put something in the tanks today. I think which is more environmentally friendly is obvious.”  

Roland Hwang, vehicles policy director for the Natural Resources Defense Council in San Francisco, said the organization doesn’t support ethanol from corn because of the environmental effects of production. 

“We’re supportive of a long-term biofuel future, but not from corn,” Hwang said, noting that more sustainable crops like poplar trees can be made into ethanol. “Our primary concern is the fact that the way ethanol is being used right now is making the air dirtier.” 

That’s California’s concern, too. 

Since former Gov. Gray Davis banned use of the oxygenate MTBE by 2003, California’s had to rely on ethanol to comply with the federal requirement for two percent oxygenate in the state’s smoggiest areas. Oxygenates are supposed to make gas burn cleaner, but the state has argued California would be better off without them. 

New York and Connecticut have also switched to ethanol after banning MTBE, along with California, accounting for the dramatic increase in its use, Shaw said.  

California first requested a waiver from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 1999. The waiver was denied, and a second request is pending, said Gennet Paauwe of the California Air Resources Board. 

“The California Air Resources Board has demonstrated that the oxygenate requirement is detrimental to our efforts to achieve healthy air quality,” Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger wrote in a Jan. 28 letter to the EPA. The oxygenate “greatly increase the costs born by California motorists,” Schwarzenegger wrote. 

The Renewable Fuels Association opposes the waiver and has submitted arguments to the EPA urging the denial of California’s request. 

California’s gasoline vendors are important customers to ethanol giants like Decatur, Ill.-based Archer Daniels Midland Co. (more commonly known as ADM), which Shaw estimates controls about 30 percent of the market.  

California produces only 10 million gallons of ethanol per year, so it must buy the other 890 million gallons it needs from Corn Belt states like Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota. That’s a pretty big chunk of the 3.3 billion gallons Shaw expects will be produced nation-wide by the end of the year. 

Technicians, and not politicians, should determine what is the appropriate formulation of fuel, says Leon G. Billings, president of the Clean Air Trust, a Washington DC group dedicated to protecting the provisions of the Clean Air Act.  

Ethanol may be entirely appropriate for use with gasoline, but that shouldn’t be decided by statute, he said. But because of the sway ethanol makers have in Washington and among Corn Belt state politicians, it is, said Billings. 

“ADM has an enormous stake in the production of ethanol, and they are a very high powered lobby,” said Billings. “If you look at the U.S. Congress you see the fine handiwork of ADM on the ethanol mandate.” 

Perhaps as important is the grain state electorate—corn growers who see ethanol as a secure market for their product. 

“Any politician who doesn’t support ethanol would be a recovering politician,” Billings said. 

Back at the in Berkeley lab, fleet manager Don Prestella said ethanol wasn’t his first choice to comply with a 1999 presidential order to reduce fossil fuel consumption at federal facilities. 

He’d have preferred electric or hybrid vehicles, but E-85 was his only realistic option. 

“When you’re up against the bureaucracy, when you have to go up against an executive order from the president, you have to go with what you got,” Prestella said. “Ethanol was our best strategy at the time.” 









Scores For Deaf Students Skew John Muir Test Results: By J. DOUGLAS ALLEN-TAYLOR

Friday September 17, 2004

At least three of the 10 fourth-grade students who scored in the “far below basic” category in California Standards Test (CST) taken at Berkeley’s John Muir Elementary School last spring were deaf students who received higher grades on that test, but were placed in the lower category because the test had to be signed to them. 

Muir principal Nancy D. Waters released that information this week as she and Berkeley Unified School District (BUSD) officials continued a query with testing officials into how and why the highly-rated school’s CST scores “plummeted” from last year to this. 

At least one of the deaf students listed in the lowest category because of the signing modification actually tested “proficient,” the second-highest category in the CST. 

A California State Department of Education official and CST manuals confirm that students who take the CST with “modifications”—such as having the test signed to them—are listed in the school test summary as “far below basic,” regardless of which of the five performance level categories the student actually performed in. 

Waters said that she is requesting that the California Department of Education review whether four additional deaf students—who were signed the instructions but not the entire test—may have mistakenly been listed in the “far below basic” category as well. Deaf students who are signed the instructions only are not supposed to be included in the list of students with modifications. 

A report for Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) for the Berkeley school—released this month for CST tests taken last May—indicated that 30 percent of fourth grade students had dropped from proficient to below proficient in English Language Arts in a single year. The summary report listed that 10 of the 43 students taking the test had scored in the “far below basic” category, the lowest possible category. 

The posting of the report on websites of the State Department of Education and GreatSchools.net (where schools from across the state are rated), caused concern among Muir’s faculty and parents that the teaching and learning levels at the school were dropping.  

But after Waters complained to BUSD officials that the test summary may have been in error, BUSD initiated a query with Educational Testing Services (ETS), the New Jersey-based company which administers the test for the State Department of Education. BUSD Testing Coordinator Sarah Hamilton is handling the query. 

Hamilton was not available at press time, but earlier this week she said that she had left a telephone message with ETS officials concerning the Muir tests.›

Fire Department Log: By RICHARD BRENNEMAN

Friday September 17, 2004

Skateboard Triggers Grass Fire 

A skateboard operated by an 11-year-old Berkeley resident triggered a small grass fire in the Berkeley hills on Sept. 6, reported Deputy Fire Chief David Orth. 

The reason? A skateboarder’s maneuver called “grinding,” in which the rider straddles a concrete or metal edge with his wheels the way children straddle bannisters to slide downstairs. 

“They grind along the edges of benches and curbs, and they actually grind down the concrete. That’s why they’re starting to put metal edges or barriers along the concrete in places like the Thousand Oaks School,” Orth said. 

The metal supports of the skateboarder’s wheels generated a spark, triggering the blaze. 

Fortunately, he promptly called 911, triggering a massive multi-departmental response because the 630 Hillsdale scene is in a high fire danger area which prompts an automatic response by several jurisdictions. 

The rapid response kept the fire down to a 10- by 50-foot area.

Landmarks Panel Frustrated With Planning Staff Delays, Omissions: By RICHARD BRENNEMAN

Friday September 17, 2004

Frustrated Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) members Monday night blasted city planning staff for failing to forward the commission’s critical comments to Zoning Adjustments Board (ZAB) members before they voted on a controversial project in a newly created city historic district. 

They also expressed outrage at staff’s late submissions of key documents on the issue. 

Complaints over last-minute submissions have been common, and Planning Director Dan Marks has blamed the delays on short staffing in his department. He told a recent ZAB meeting that he’s now fully staffed and delays should be significantly reduced in the future. 

The immediate cause of Monday’s LPC concern was a small developer’s plans to convert two small Victorian cottages—one significantly altered from its original form—into duplexes. 

The dwellings sit in the heart of the recently landmarked Sisterna Historic District in West Berkeley. 

Neighbors who reside or work in the district are passionate advocates of protecting the area from encroaching development. Neal Blumenfeld, who owns a restored Victorian next door to one of the would-be duplexes, appeared before the commission with other neighbors Monday. 

In earlier meetings, commissioners twice agreed that developer Gary Feiner’s plans were out of proportion with the other homes in the district and would change the buildings so much that they would detract from the historic character of the neighborhood. 

Feiner was scheduled to offer a third revision Monday, but he notified city planning staff last week that he wasn’t finished and asked for a continuance until the next commission meeting on Oct. 4. 

One problem facing commissioners and neighbors is that the Permit Streamlining Act—a state law setting strict limits on the time local governments have to process builder applications—gives the city only until Oct. 27 to act on Feiner’s plans before they are automatically approved. 

The other problem is the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), which sets its own timelines for discovering potential environment impacts and formulating plans to alleviate them. 

Gisele Sorensen, the city planning staffer assigned to the LPC, said Feiner had verbally agreed to a 30-day delay, which would extend the deadline until Nov. 26. But she’d seen nothing in writing before the meeting. 

By Thursday, the extension had been filed, according to commissioner member Leslie Emmington Jones. 

Monday was the commission’s first meeting since Zoning Adjustments Board members voted Aug. 25 to issue a key pre-construction mitigated negative declaration (MND), sparing Feiner the more rigorous, costly and time-consuming environmental impact report sought by neighbors and preservationists. 

LPC secretary and city planner Gisele Sorensen said ZAB had been forced to act because of a California Environmental Quality Act deadline two days later, requiring the city to define and act on environmental concerns within a certain amount of time. 

Seventeen days earlier, the LPC had passed without dissent a resolution finding particular fault with the declaration in the planning staff’s impact statement finding that the project did not “substantially degrade the existing visual character or quality of the site and its surroundings.” 

LPC members had repeatedly found Feiner’s plans to be proportionately and architecturally out of character with surrounding homes, and the resolution called for settling their concerns with the visual element through mapping out the specifics in discussions including Feiner, concerned neighbors and property-owners and commission members. 

The motion also called for a landscaping plan, an elevation showing how the homes blended with the streetscape and a neighborhood map. 

But that commission’s pleas never made it into the final MND approved by ZAB, a fact that rankled several commissioners, especially Jones, who declared: “Now, with the Permit Streamlining Act, we’re backed up against the wall. This happens project after project. 

“I went to the ZAB meeting, and then I read the staff report and I was appalled. The staff report didn’t even mention the Landmarks Preservation Commission’s concerns,” said the visibly angry commissioner. “(ZAB members) didn’t get our resolution. They could have amended” the declaration. 

“I don’t understand the problem,” said commission secretary and city planner Gisele Sorensen. “I didn’t think that a staff report goes into detail.” 

“I do want to be correct,” said Jones. “Maybe I can rewrite it, bringing up some of the points left out. The history has been ground out of the report and we still don’t have a plan on the table.” 

“If you feel the alterations are not sufficient, you don’t have to approve,” Sorensen replied. 

The commissioner replied, “There should have been time,” the plan should be respectful to its impact on the neighborhood. 

Adam Weiss—on the last day of his tenure on the commission—said he understood Jones’s concern at not having the commission’s arguments heard by ZAB, adding, “We have no authority over ZAB.” 

“I watched the ZAB meeting, and I don’t recall any discussion about the resolution,” said commissioner Steven Winkel. “It’s going to be important that we get that time extension.” 

“I want to get a sense of the commission if this item is important enough to set a special meeting,” said LPC Chair Jill Korte. “I feel it is.” 

“So do I,” said Jones. 

Winkle said he’d prefer an extended deadline, but if it wasn’t granted, he’d agree to a special session. 

“We have the ability to hold him hostage,” said Weiss. “The Zoning Adjustment Board either didn’t read the comments the neighbors sent or they didn’t care. They weren’t included in the report submitted to the Zoning Adjustment Board. 

“City staff doesn’t understand historic districts,” he said. “They understand development.” 

“We still don’t have today a design in front of us that we’re working with, we’re at the very end of the state cycle,” Jones said. 

“We should have design guidelines or uniform principles,” Korte added. 

Commissioners then voted unanimously to continue their discussion Oct. 4.›

Commission Delays Nexus Vote, Looks at West Berkley Proposal: By RICHARD BRENNEMAN

Friday September 17, 2004

Large contingents from the arts community and supporters of the Berkeley-East Bay Humane Society turned out for the airing of a proposal to landmark two vintage West Berkeley buildings owned by the humane society and occupied, in part, by the artists. 

Both sides now say they want to preserve the structures, including a 1924 unreinforced two story brick building constructed by the Austin Company, the same firm that built two other Berkeley landmarks, the Heinz and Sawtooth Buildings. 

The real issue is the fate of the Nexus Gallery and Collective, a well-respected artist community which has occupied much of the site for nearly three decades. 

The artists want to stay, but the humane society needs more space. 

Mim Carlson, executive director of the humane society, had requested a two-month delay on the landmark application. “We are definitely going to be doing a retrofit, and we are not contemplating demolition,” she said. 

Though the commission heard comments from Nexus supporters, including some of the original founders, they accepted Carlson’s request and postponed a formal hearing on the testimony until their November meeting. 

The commissioners also got their first look at plans for a four-story condominium development that would take up most of the entire 700 block of University Avenue. 

Appearing before the panel was Dan Deibel, director of development for the Urban Housing Group—the San Mateo firm promoting the project that would fill almost the entire block between University Avenue and Addison Street and between Third and Fourth streets. 

Originally proposed as a five-story complex, Deibel presented the commissioner with plans for a more modest four-floor structure. 

The proposal falls within the commission’s purview because the site also includes the old Berkeley train station. 

Deibel said Brennan’s restaurant, one of two eateries now located on the site, would be relocated to the train station. The plans do not include new quarters for Celia’s, a popular Mexican restaurant at 2040 Fourth St.

Maoists Rebels are Winning the War in Nepal: By MIKE McPHATE

Pacific News Service
Friday September 17, 2004

KATHMANDU—While world attention is preoccupied with the Middle East, Nepal is falling apart.  

In recent weeks Maoist rebels, who control most of the countryside, have made bold moves in the capital Kathmandu. They clamped a week-long blockade on the city, forced the closure of 35 major businesses, and were blamed for a bomb attack on the American information center. The U.S. ambassador responded by ending Peace Corps activities in the country and seeking consent from Washington for the families of embassy personnel to evacuate.  

Maoist leader Rajman Pakhrin recently told the Nepali Times that the Maoists hoped to provoke the people of the capital to launch an urban uprising.  

In this tiny, rugged corner of the globe, the birthplace of Buddha and home of the world’s highest mountains, communist rebels are displaying a new height of confidence.  

The bloodshed is approaching a frenzied pitch. Most of the eight-year conflict’s 10,000 deaths have come in the last three years.  

In an indication of how serious the threat has become, Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba arrived in the Indian capital, New Delhi, last week to plead for military and economic assistance. This week the US pledged an additional $1 million to the war effort.  

Nepal’s democracy was born in 1990 when its King was pressured to allow a multiparty democracy. The unity that followed among the country’s myriad ethnic groups though soon unraveled as the Brahmin aristocracy, hailing from the Kathmandu valley and east Nepal, took power and woefully mishandled the country’s development, particularly in the western region.  

After 14 years Nepal (population: 27 million) remains among the world’s poorest nations. Fewer than half of its population are literate.  

The Maoist revolt began in 1996 with the aim of building a classless society. Debt-bound tribes in the jungles of the west were the swiftest recruits to the cause with its objectives of abolishing feudalism as well as the institution that they view as the epitome of caste privilege: the monarchy.  

The rebellion maintained only a mild intensity until the royal massacre of June 2001, when King Birendra and his wife along with their two children were slaughtered by their eldest son, crown prince Dipendra following a dinner-table dispute. The prince committed suicide afterward.  

The Maoists took advantage of the political chaos that ensued.  

During an eight-month ceasefire in 2003 they built an arms pipeline with communist allies in India and Chinese gangs to the north, which, according to Army General Rajendra Thapa, increased their strength “by leaps and bounds.”  

With three centers of power—the Maoists, the King, and the political parties—now locked in a struggle for supremacy, it’s unclear where the country is headed. Peace talks have failed twice and little trust remains among the three.  

Indeed, many Nepalese have given up hope on a resolution.  

“People are saying maybe the previous regime was better,” says Ananda Shrestha, Director of the Nepal Foundation for Advanced Studies, referring to the country’s old monarchy. “Democracy has got a bad name.”  

In the most telling sign of strife, the country has witnessed an incredible exodus. Over two million villagers have fled in the last two years. They are mostly young, farming men who have streamed out of the hills into the Indian plains to the south. The migration continues at about 75,000 per month, observers say.  

“The only people staying are those who can’t afford to leave,” says Subodh Pyakurel, Director of the Informal Sector Service Center (INSEC), a leading human rights group. While the Maoists give their institutions welcoming names—the People’s Court, the People’s Army, the People’s Education System—their methods appear to depend on terror more than persuasion.  

The rebels stone, amputate, decapitate or break the legs of suspected informants, say human rights observers. They killed more farmers than they did the King’s soldiers in 2003, according to INSEC.  

Mass abductions and indoctrination seminars have become common. Schoolteachers in rebel-held areas are required to wear Maoist garb and use a curriculum that favors the contributions of communist heroes Vladimir Lenin, Karl Marx, and Mao Zedong.  

“You can’t even think of free speech,” the National Human Rights Commission’s Sushil Pyakurel says of the current mood. The rebels coercive methods, he added, make it “hard to see them as a political group. They behave more like a criminal gang.”  

Activists criticize the army too. Amnesty International reported that in 2002 Nepal recorded the world’s most disappearances in army custody, calling it a “widespread and long-standing pattern.”  

In the country’s poorest region, the far west, the toll of the conflict is reflected at a local orphanage set up for war victims in the army-secured town of Dhangadi.  

Several grubby children describe the killing of their parents by rebels or soldiers. A scrawny five-year-old, Yaka Soud, says he has neither any memory of his father, who was killed by Maoists, nor of his mother who left him at the orphanage two years ago. The director says he assumes by now that she has also been killed.  

“Each month the number [of orphans] increases,“ director Min Kunwar says. Currently there are 91 orphans at the home. “We don’t have enough room for them.”  

Narayan Dutta Mishra, Chairman of Kailali District Development Committee (DDC), says he feels the Maoists are winning the war. “Day-by-day it is getting worse,” he says. “They are saying the country is in their grip.” 


Mike McPhate is a freelance journalist living in New Delhi.  

U.S.-Australia Ties Could Be in for a Jolt: By AIDAN DOYLD

Pacific News Service
Friday September 17, 2004

After the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Australia’s Prime Minister John Howard told the U.S. Congress, “America has no better friend anywhere in the world than Australia.” This might soon change.  

Opposition leader Mark Latham, who vows to pull Australian troops out of Iraq and has described George W. Bush as the most incompetent and dangerous American president in living memory, could soon lead Australia.  

Howard recently ended months of speculation by announcing Oct. 9 as the date for the country’s federal election. His conservative government has been a staunch supporter of the Bush administration.  

Bush refers to Howard as a close friend. Bush declared during his acceptance speech at the Republican convention, “I deeply appreciate the courage and wise counsel of leaders like Prime Minister Howard,” naming him ahead of British leader Tony Blair. Bush has lavished praise on Howard’s leadership, calling him a “man of steel”—provoking more than a few laughs in Australia (Howard isn’t exactly viewed as superhero material).  

Ever since the World War II, Australia and the U.S. have been close allies. Australian soldiers fought alongside Americans in Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan and both Gulf Wars. Australia was one of the few countries to send soldiers to Iraq before the fall of Baghdad.  

Latham has been strongly critical of Howard’s relationship with Bush, famously referring to the prime minister as an “arse-licker.” Since assuming the role of opposition leader, Latham has toned down his comments but still argues that Australia should withdraw its troops from Iraq.  

Latham’s opposition to the Iraq war has led to an unprecedented U.S. intervention in Australian politics. Bush in June derided Latham, claiming “it would be disastrous for the leader of a great country like Australia to say that we’re pulling out.” He added that such action “would say that the Australian government doesn’t see the hope of a free and democratic society leading to a peaceful world.” 

Latham stated that he supported good relations between Australia and the U.S. and that “the alliance is bigger and stronger than the mistakes made in relation to Iraq.” But U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage fired back, saying Latham could not choose the parts of the alliance he liked—it was all or nothing.  

Attempting to heal a potential rift, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell emphasized “Australia will always be a close friend of the U.S.,” and that the U.S. respected the right of the Australians to choose their own leader.  

Howard has made the U.S.-Australia alliance an election issue, charging that Latham “has demonstrated that in his new position he is dangerous so far as the American alliance is concerned. [Latham] has allowed his tribal dislike, because of the politics of the current American President, to overwhelm his concern for the national interest.” 

Howard says there isn’t much difference between Bush and John Kerry’s positions on Iraq, and that even a Democratic U.S. president wouldn’t look favorably on Latham’s position on Iraq. Howard argues that a positive relationship with the U.S. is very important for Australia’s security.  

The issue hasn’t registered as a high priority for Australian voters. A recent survey found the three most important electoral issues were health policies, the economy and education. The latest opinion poll shows the government and opposition tied with 50 percent support each. If Latham wins and goes ahead with his promise to withdraw Australian troops, it will follow a similar move by the newly elected Spanish government, which drew criticism from both the American and Australian governments.  

In practical terms, Australia’s withdrawal would make little difference. There are fewer than 1,000 Australian soldiers in Iraq and they have no combat roles. The move would be more important symbolically as it would punch a lot of air out of Bush’s claim to a “coalition of the willing” in Iraq.  

Some analysts have speculated on just how frosty relations between Australia and the U.S. could become if Bush remained in power and Latham won the Australian election. They pointed out that In 1984 New Zealand banned nuclear vessels from its ports. The Reagan administration responded by suspending defense commitments to New Zealand.  

It is unlikely, however, that a similar scenario would develop with Australia. Although Armitage hinted that blocking a Latham government’s access to intelligence information was a possibility, the U.S. relies on the Pine Gap satellite tracking facility in Central Australia for intelligence-gathering. Pine Gap would also form a key part of any planned “Star Wars” style missile defense system.  

Howard leads one of the few national governments left that haven’t been alienated by the policies of the Bush administration. Bush certainly wouldn’t want to lose such a close ally.  


Aidan Doyle is an Australian freelance journalist. 

Dems Should be Wary of Adopting GOP Tactics: By J. DOUGLAS ALLEN-TAYLOR

Friday September 17, 2004

I write to a friend in Maryland this week, asking her how the presidential election is going there. 

“I have no idea,” she e-mails in return. “Maryland, typically a Democratic state, has elected a Republican governor for the first time. Judging from the editorial letters in the Baltimore Sun, I’d say the voters are evenly divided. Some have criticized Bush for sending young folks in harm’s way, for lying. Today’s editorial letters criticize the Bush administration’s inept handling of 9/11, disagreeing with Cheney’s recent remarks. Others agree with your [California] governor [Schwarzenegger] and have chastised the Democrats for being economic ‘girlie-men.’ My gut instincts tell me that most are going to vote for Bush because of the war: they feel he started it and don’t want to change leaders in midstream.” She closes glumly: “It’s pretty grim to think of another four years with arrogant, idiotic Bush.” 

If this is the feeling in Maryland, where Mr. Kerry led Mr. Bush by 13 points, 53 percent to 40 percent, in the last poll one month ago, what must it be in more contested parts of the country? 

Decidedly downbeat, at least for Democrats. 

A definite gloom has spread around the anti-Bush camp following the Republican convention, and Mr. Kerry’s Awful August, and Mr. Bush’s opening of a respectable lead in a race that has been virtually dead-even for months and months and months. It’s not resignation, not yet, but it’s beginning to have the feel of desperation. The Democratic e-mail lists are full of notations as to “what the Kerry people did wrong,” along with suggestions about how they might make it right…quick, and in a hurry. 

As for me, I suspect it is not so much what the Kerry people have done wrong as it is what the Bush people have done right. They have prepared and so far carried out an election strategy that fits both their world view and the realities of campaigning in the 21st century. The Kerry campaign—flailing about—has so far appeared to do neither. 

Forget, for a moment, the ground over which this campaign has so far been fought—Swift Boat attacks and National Guard service and Iraq wars and the resumés of the president and the Massachussetts senator—and see how it has been fought. That is where the lesson lies. 

The Bush camp has done two things exceedingly well in this campaign. The first is that they not only have managed to define Mr. Kerry in a negative light (an old trick), but they have defined Mr. Kerry in exactly the negative light where Mr. Bush himself is vulnerable. And so we have the charges that Mr. Kerry has no true principles and bends to the political winds (the infamous “flip-flop” charge) and that Mr. Kerry is a coward in combat (the intimation, among other things, that Mr. Kerry fled from Swift boat battles and wounded himself in order to get out of Vietnam). 

The mud has stuck, so much so that it has become inseparable from Mr. Kerry, with no further discussion needed, only reiteration at appropriate times. And therefore, when the Kerry folks finally get around to making these charges against Mr. Bush, the old Southern saying comes into play: when you point a finger at someone, four fingers end up pointing back at you. “See, the president has flip-flopped on winning the war on terrorism!” the Democrats shout. “Yeah, well, you guys ought to know it when you see it,” the Republicans reply, unperturbed. 

The second Bush campaign triumph is what might be called the octopus defense whenever challenged on a vulnerable point—a wild flailing of many arms, along with a jettison of obscuring black ink, all designed to mask a rapid turnabout and/or retreat. The Bush response to the recent 60 Minutes report on Bush’s National Guard service record is a good example: instant attacks from various allied sources on the authenticity of memos from Bush’s old commander critical of Bush, attacks on the impartiality of Bush’s accusers (in this case, CBS’ Dan Rather), while at the same time a steady, droning intonation from the Bush camp itself that, after all, this is old stuff and has long ago been discussed, and really has nothing to do with present concerns. 

Viewed in tandem and as to effect, the two tactics end in a general assumption that the charges (any charges) against Mr. Kerry must be true because they have been repeated so often, while the charges against Mr. Bush are still in doubt because, after all, they have been denied so vehemently. 

Democrats shuffle around in envy, like Jack-Nicholson-as-the-Joker in the first Batman movie, wondering how come their toys don’t work that good. And there is great temptation to adopt the Republican way, at least until the Republicans can be gotten out of the way. 

But the problem for Democrats in adopting Republican tactics circa 2004 is that tactics only work in the service of strategy—strategy being where you want to go, while tactics comprising how you get there. And so while beating Republicans at their own game may appear momentarily attractive, it tends to take Democrats further and further away from what is supposed to be Democratic Party ideals (see the Clinton Presidency for the most recent, best examples). 

When economic conservatism merged with fundamentalism somewhere in the mid-’90s, it took an interesting tack. The conservatives of an earlier generation believed that they were smarter and their ideas were better, and took great pride and delight in winning over the public in open debate. (Find a tape of the old William F. Buckley show if you’re too young to have lived through those days.) But conservatives today—having taken on the armor of God, so to speak—believe that they are right, and therefore no proof is necessary. At least, that’s how they are presenting themselves. 

If one’s goal is a world where a pre-determined truth is implemented, then the Bush campaign tactics of twist-and-shout may make perfect sense. But if one thinks that truth has yet to be determined—and needs working out with human help—then a more thoughtful, reasoned approach is in order. 

My Maryland friend is right, it is pretty grim to think of another four years with arrogant, idiotic Bush. But a Bush-inspired America and world—with or without George W. at its helm—is equally frightening. If Democrats want to build a house, they’ve got to find other tools, tempting as it might be to follow the Bush camp’s lead. Picking up a rock generally ends up only in smashed windows all around, regardless of the hand holding. 

The Right of Every Human Not to be Tortured: By ANN FAGAN GINGER

Challenging Rights Violations
Friday September 17, 2004

The people who fought against the king of England and his armies in order to establish the United States of America quickly declared, in writing, that they had rights that must be respected by their new government. They were building on the Magna Charta of 1215 in England and the Petition of Right of the English Parliament in 1628.  

The Bill of Rights begins with the First Amendment to the new Constitution and proclaims the “right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” The First Amendment also proclaims freedom of religion, freedom of speech and of the press. 

The people who fought against the Southern states in order to abolish slavery quickly voted, through their state legislatures, to adopt the Fourteenth Amendment, declaring the fundamental right to equal protection of the law to every person within the jurisdiction of the United States, regardless of race, color, or previous condition of servitude, which has come to include the right to equal protection of women. 

The people who fought in World War II in order to defeat the fascist ideology and practices in Germany, Italy and Japan quickly joined peoples from other nations in writing into the United Nations Charter articles 2.3 and 2.4, which commit the United States and all signatory nations to “refrain ... from the threat or use of force” in the settlement of disputes. And they joined in writing articles 55 and 56 into the charter to commit the United States, and all other signatory nations, “to promote ... universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion.” And the U.S. government in 1945 helped write the Nuremberg Principles to define war crimes, crimes against peace, and crimes against humanity to govern all future actions of all nations.  

By 1994, the U.S. government had joined most other nations in ratifying three treaties that further define these rights: the International Covenant on Civil & Political Rights, the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination, and the Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.  

After 9/11, people in the service of the United States government and under contract with the government frequently took actions that U.S. residents considered to be denials or abridgments of their basic rights or the rights of their neighbors or of people they saw reported in the media. 


The Right Not to be Tortured 

Every human being has a right not to be tortured. The first U.S. citizens insisted on including this right in their new Constitution. The Eighth Amendment states: in the territories governed by the United States there shall be no “cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.” The U.S. citizens who helped write the United Nations Charter in 1945 insisted on including human rights protections in articles 55c and 56. 

In 1994, the U.S. Senate ratified the Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and adopted the U.S. regulation implementing that convention. The U.S. has also agreed to the third and fourth Geneva Conventions on Treatment of Prisoners of War and Civilian Persons, the Alien Tort Claims Act, and Torture Victims Protection Act.  

The following are expamples of this right violation: 


• Detention Center Guards Beat Ivory Coast Pilot: Tony Oulai 

(Mary McGrory, “Bungling on the 9-11 Prisoners,” Washington Post, Feb. 10, 2002) 


• INS Dentist Tortured Palestinian Canadian: Jaoudat Abouazza 

(Jaoudat Abouazza Free in Canada, but Struggle for Justice Continues,” Progressive Austin, July 15, 2002) 


• INS and FBI Agents Tortured Legal Immigrant from Egypt: Hady Hassan Omar  

(Matthew Brzezinski, “Hady Hassan Omar’s Detention,” New York Times Magazine, Oct. 27, 2002) 


• Guards Tortured Saudi-Arabian Student: Yazeed Al-Salmi  

(“San Diego Material Witness En Route Home,” The San Diego Channel.com Oct. 10, 2001; “Terror Probe Raises Concerns About Civil Rights,” CNN, Oct. 22, 2001) 


• Palestinian Immigrant Died in FBI Custody: Muhammed Rafiq Butt 

(Somini Sengupta, “Ill-Fated Path to America, Jail and Death,” New York Times, Nov. 5, 2001; Aamir Latif, “Pakistani Relative Says FBI Tortured Dead Detainee,” Islam Online, Nov. 1, 2001) 


• Deportees Sue Attorney General and FBI: Ibrahim Turkmen 

(CCR Legal Team, “Turkmen v. Ashcroft, Synopsis,” Center for Constitutional Rights, July 16, 2003) 


To be continued… 


Berkeley resident Ann Fagan Ginger is a lawyer, teacher, activist and the author of 24 books. She won a civil liberties case in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in 1959. She is the founder and executive director of the Meiklejohn Civil Liberties Institute, a Berkeley-based center for human rights and peace law. 


This column is based on the Report by Meiklejohn Civil Liberties Institute, Challenging U.S. Human Rights Violations Since 9/11, Ann Fagan Ginger, Editor (Prometheus Books 2005). Readers can go to http://mcli.org for a complete listing of reports and sources, with web links. 


Letters to the Editor

Friday September 17, 2004


Editors, Daily Planet: 

Customer service is difficult even under the best circumstances. Being a police officer combines the worst parts of customer service with threats to their very lives from belligerent reporters. To a reporter, whose business seems to consist mainly of invading private matters, a rude response to her persistent demands for public safety information is intolerable. To a police officer busy making sure that nobody can tell if his fellow officers are following their own rules, such an intrusion into police business is likewise intolerable. Balancing the “public’s right to know” with the “blue wall of silence” is an impossible task. Let us take a few moments to recognize all the positive services police officers provide in a civilized society, from escorting criminals to jail to beating social deviants, from harassing young people of color to enforcing the property relations of capitalism. Cops have much more important things to do beside giving raw information from a crime scene to a reporter before all the other officers involved have had a chance to get their stories straight.  

C. Boles 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Sam Ferguson, co-chair of Yes on H, writes in your Sept. 3 edition that public financing of candidates for city offices in Berkeley and limitations on spending will “make elected officials more responsive,” “increase the diversity of candidates,” and even “help ensure that [the city’s budget] is spent according to the wishes of the community.” Only one of these claims is valid. 

Public financing of elections will certainly increase the diversity of candidates—it will require all of us to pay for candidates who are not qualified to hold public office or endorse positions we disagree with. City funds may have to be spent to support the campaign of an anti-Semitic, racist homophobe! 

Public financing of elections coupled with campaign spending limits will make elected officials (incumbents) less, not more responsive to the community. Incumbents will no longer have to make sure they have a broad and deep enough base of support to raise enough funds for their re-election. Instead, they will be able to get campaign funds from the taxpayer regardless of how unpopular or out of touch they are. Applying the same spending limits to incumbents as to challengers will make it almost impossible for challengers to overcome the inherent advantage of incumbency in elections, further reducing the need of incumbents to be responsive to their constituents. To truly level the playing field, only incumbents should be subject to campaign spending limits—but try to get that one past city hall. 

Finally to claim that city election financing will increase budgetary accountability is a non-sequitur. This measure will earmark city tax revenues for campaign financing, reducing the amount of money city officials can allocate for other city programs, thereby reducing their responsibility and accountability for budgeting funds. 

For these reasons, I hope Measure H is defeated. 

Keith Winnard 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Last week Barbara Gilbert attacked me here for writing an op-ed piece of which I was not the author. As the byline made clear, the article was by Dave Blake, vice-chair of the Zoning Board, on which I also sit. 

The article concerned the placement of affordable housing units in new construction in Berkeley, in particular in the proposed downtown Seagate Building on Center Street. The gist of Gilbert’s complaint was: “While we ordinary middle-class folks pay through the nose to live in Berkeley, poor people are entitled to luxury ownership accommodations at the expense of taxpayers and a lower-density livable Berkeley.” 

For 15 years every city in California has been required by state law to provide a variety of strong incentives for the creation of affordable housing. We are required to loosen development standards, such as parking requirements, open-space requirements, and height limits, significantly for any building that provides a minimum percentage of affordable units. Most of all we have to increase the allowable number of units per acre for any such project by 25 percent. 

The principle involved in these state mandates is that without incentives developers would fail to create any new housing for low and moderate income citizens. Berkeley taxpayers don’t pay for these incentives with either local or state taxes: they are exchanged for whatever effect the relaxation of the development standards has. Whether these effects, in particular the increased density, are bad or good is a subject of great debate. What’s not debatable is whether or not we have to let them be built. That’s the law. 

Blake wrote about a further requirement in Berkeley law, that affordable units be spread out throughout each project. Staff has routinely granted requests to keep the highest, and most valued, floors of new projects free of affordable units: Blake felt that creating high-income enclaves is just the flip side of sequestering the poor in low-income enclaves, and that this law shouldn’t be treated as a relaxable development standard but as social policy. 

The project is still under consideration. I’ve proposed that the developer not be required to provide a strictly equal percentage of affordable units, but that the units be more equally dispersed through the project, with at least one on every floor. 

Laurie Capitelli 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

As a John Muir Elementary parent, I just wanted to thank you guys for writing about the test score blunder. Our wonderful principal is very dedicated and she deserves a lot of credit. Even when the bad news came out, she supported her staff 100 percent. There was not any finger pointing which says a lot about the character of the school. As you know, test scores are important in attracting those students that live in the area and have other options. Over the last few years, John Muir has been on an upswing thanks in part to Ms Waters and a wonderful staff. As a John Muir and BUSD alumni, I am proud to send my children to such a great school. Thanks Again!  

Diana Yovino-Young  




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Two new buildings that are a block apart on University Avenue can teach us a lesson about traditional and modernist architecture. The five-story building on University at Shattuck is in a traditional style similar to the 19th-century Italianate style, with an asymmetrical tower, red tile roof, and ornamental tiling in the arches above the windows. Though its design is distinctive, it fits into its surroundings, because its stucco and red tiles are common materials in nearby buildings and because it is painted a modest tan. Even when you see it over the one-story building to its west, it looks as if it has been there for ever.  

The five-story building on University near Milvia is in a modernist style. Because it has no traditional ornament, the architect tries hard to make it distinctive by giving it bay windows set at an odd angle, large expanses of natural wood siding, and two colors of paint on its stucco, with tan on some facades and garish red on others. It looks like an intruder in the neighborhood. When you see it over the over the one-story building to its west, its wood siding and red stucco stick out like a sore thumb.  

These two buildings make an important theoretical point about modern architecture. Early modernists said that architecture should be an honest expression of function, without artificial ornamentation. But boxes without ornamentation soon became boring, and now modernists seem to be willing to do anything to be different: the angled bay windows, wood siding, and two-tone paint job at University and Milvia are mannerisms that are much more artificial than the traditional design at University and Shattuck. 

There is no theoretical reason for using this mannered style of modernism rather than traditional architectural styles.  

Even if developers do not care about the theoretical issue, they should care about this practical issue: there obviously would be much less opposition to development if the new buildings were traditional architecture that looks like it belongs in its context, rather than modernist architecture that looks like a garish intruder.  

Charles Siegel 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

While I applaud Michael D. Miller’s goal of reducing contention and negativism in the Board of Education race and in the Berkeley High community as a whole, I cannot say I was as reassured as he apparently wished me to be by his column (“Us vs. Them!” Daily Planet, Sept. 10-13). 

Referring to candidates as “school reform advocates” instead of “small school advocates,” as Mr. Miller would have us do, would seem to be another case of the use of semantics to obscure rather than clarify, if those candidates believe, as Mr. Miller does that, “the small schools reform movement at BHS is the only significant movement designed to realize [success for all students]”.  

Mr. Miller also says, “If there are other viable solutions for broad student success in our district, bring them forward so that our entire community will benefit.” As he is well aware, there is a program in the large, comprehensive BHS high school which enjoys great support among parents, students and staff (along with a sizable number of critics). It is Academic Choice which—while not styling itself as a reform movement—does aim to increase academic excellence in the school as a whole via academically rigorous classes, open to all students without prerequisite, and by recruitment and support of students of color in those classes. People who support Academic Choice believe that the goal of “success for all students” can be furthered by increasing the offerings of Advanced Placement (not offered in small schools) and other classes with curricula that will prepare students for success in four-year colleges, and then increasing the number and diversity of students taking those classes.  

Small school reform advocates originally proposed that BHS become all small schools. The superintendent appointed a Small Schools Advisory Committee, representing a cross section of views, which ultimately recommended a mixed structure with 50 percent of students enrolled in several small schools and 50 percent of students enrolled in a large, comprehensive school. This compromise, approved by the Board of Education, rightly recognized, in my opinion, that the real benefits conveyed by small schools involve tradeoffs, and that while many students may prefer and be best served by small schools, others prefer and are best served by large schools. No one that I know is in favor of eliminating small schools at BHS or opposed to continuing the plan to add new small schools until the small school enrollment reaches 50 percent of the BHS total. But there does seem to be a number of small school advocates who would like to terminate the Academic Choice program. 

There is no question that Academic Choice needs to be improved, with respect to its diversity and in other respects as well. It is an important piece in the overall program of the large high school which is in danger of being neglected as energy is focused on small schools. At present, there is an unprecedented number of Academic Choice parents and students willing and eager to involve themselves in the process of redefining and improving the program, not only for their own benefit but for the school as a whole. Speaking as one of those parents, all I ask of School Board candidates and of BUSD and BHS administrators is the opportunity for the Academic Choice community to develop this program from within and to prove that it is not a move toward greater segregation but, properly implemented, a force to reduce the achievement gap. I am not against anybody, I am for Academic Choice. Choice is also a Berkeley value. 

Marilyn Boucher 

Parent, Academic Choice Student, Class of 2006 

2004-05 BHS School Site Council Member 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

“Public Access To City Info Not Always Available” (Daily Planet, Sept. 14-16)—for sure! Alas, there are likely examples galore. Here’s another: HUD consultant Ronnie Odom (MDStrum Housing Services) delivered his review report to the Berkeley Housing Authority and—although there was insufficient public notice of the meeting—to the Berkeley citizenry at a 2 p.m. May 7 “special meeting.” It has been virtually impossible for members of the public, including BHA tenants, to access a copy of Odom’s full report. Those who persevered were ultimately able to view and or receive a brief document titled “Summary of SEMAP Related Issues.” I was approached as an accessible former BHA Section 8 tenant representative (the position is yet again vacant) and housing advocate; my phone call to BHA Manager Sharon Jackson was not returned. When I broached this matter with Housing Department Director Stephen Barton, he suggested that the title of what a tenant had sought had not been specified! One tenant informed me that when he asked for the full document, he was told tersely, “this is what is being given out.” Another constituent was informed that “only city documents” can be shared, and that this was/is a HUD document! It is notable that this document was not made available at the Berkeley Public Library reference desk as major city documents normally are. 

Helen Rippier Wheeler 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

There are seven weeks left before the “most important election of our lifetime.” I have never been involved in voter registration or much involved in electoral politics in the past. I, like many of my friends, have given some money and time to influence the election this year. Over the last few weeks, I have felt frightened and at times despairing about a Bush victory. What I realized is that whatever the outcome, I want to feel that I gave as much in money and time as I could. So I just contributed more than I ever thought I would and am contacting every friend and relative I can think of to help register new voters in swing states. I’m still scared by a Bush re-election and his policies. I’m no hero, but I’m doing more of what I know I can. The election remains very close in the swing states. Please join me in whatever way you can, donating time or money to ACT4Victory.org, ReDefeatBush.org, Moveon.org, etc. 

David Stark 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Today at about 3:45 p.m. there was a large, shirtless, obviously drunk man standing out in front of my store front at 1959 Shattuck Ave., yelling insults at people as they came and went from my gallery, GravityFeed. I called the Berkeley Guides instead of the police and they, in a quick, non-violent, non-humiliating way were able to find this man some direction to a nice cool place to sleep off what was going to be a very uncomfortable alcohol binge. 

I just wanted to thank and give recognition to our local heroes, the Berkeley Guides. They really did a great job! 

Thanks a lot guys, we at the GravityFeed are glad you’re here! 

James Lane  




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Reading the Planet’s coverage of recent controversies at Berkeley High, one might well get the impression that there is an unbridgeable chasm separating advocates of small schools from advocates of Academic Choice. In fact, the gap is not nearly so wide as the divisive rhetoric used by some proponents and critics of Academic Choice would make it appear. As a parent of a BHS senior and of another child who will be entering Berkeley High School next year, I have participated in both the small schools and the Academic Choice communities. Most people I have met in both communities want equity and academic excellence. There is no reason to treat these goals as mutually exclusive. To open up opportunities for success to every child at BHS and to hold every student, teacher, and program to an appropriately high standard or even to make substantial progress towards this goal will take a variety of approaches and a lot of hard work. Let’s not waste our energy vilifying one other. 

Carol S. Lashof 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Once again, thanks to the Daily Planet for placing the Willard landscaping controversy in context. Frankly, having lived this long with the stark ugliness of the current Willard architecture, I had actually forgotten that it was a choice over retrofitting/renovating the former, far more attractive, building. I do, however, well remember how it sat, looking ever more like a neglected penitentiary, until the Willard Greening Project came along. (The reader who blamed that group for ignoring and destroying some earlier parent efforts was, I believe, well-intentioned but misinformed. The abysmal soil on the site could not support plants without major amending and mulching, and most of the plants had died before the current efforts began. As for the justifiably lamented red-flowering eucalyptus—which I, too, loved—it was the BUSD that had it cut down: they said the seed capsules clogged drains and caused flooding, and it may be true.) 

When the Greening Project began, it was to fly in the face of the neglect that had prevailed, and it was indeed in a joyous and participatory mode. People were willing to work hard, solicit donations, make up for district lack of funds—and frankly, of interest. If the district had been willing to respect those efforts and use what human and dollar resources they did have to work with the Greening Project to fine-tune and help maintain Willard, I believe that would have been a prudent and frugal way to achieve something lush and beautiful while solving some of the problems that did evolve. 

Instead, they chose to trade years of ignoring the site for a sudden massive, extremely expensive version of throwing out the baby with the bath water. And those who knew and really cared about the garden were shut out of the process arrogantly, intentionally and almost entirely. 

Now, having “paved the way” for yet more (!) concrete, but having removed the giant tractor after a community outcry, the district claims it is going to meet with the Greening Project to decide what to do next. Yet I ran into Yolanda Huang recently, and she said that no such meeting had been scheduled, or anyway she hadn’t heard of it.  

If and when they begin such a process, there might be hope for the long path to something in the front of Willard School we could all care about and be proud of.  

I’m not holding my breath. 

Donna Mickleson 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

A series of articles in the San Francisco Chronicle document how neighbors along the 1700 block of Quesada Avenue have reduced garbage, blight and crime by over 60 percent through planting a community garden. But it’s not the garden, it’s the gardners! It works in Chicago, it works in San Francisco, and it has worked at Willard Middle School. Willard had the reputation as the toughest middle school in Berkeley. When I first started the garden at Willard in 1992, everything was blamed on the students. Dead plants were blamed on students, who allegedly stomped them in their rage. The fear of student violence was pervasive. I was warned never to garden alone after school hours. I was instructed that nothing could be in the garden which could be picked up and used as a weapon. No garden stakes were allowed. Kids weren’t allowed to have yo-yos, because that was a projectile. For the first years, every child with a shovel had to be carefully watched. Graffiti was standard school décor. One teacher characterized Willard as a place of “low institutional self-esteem.” 

Anyone who works with Willard now knows that this has completely changed. The students in the cooking class use knives daily, safely and appropriately. And one mother with a tenth-grader who graduated from Willard, told me that her son loves to cook vegetables with her, because he likes the chopping and the slicing, skills he learned at Willard. Despite the fact that the Willard Greening Project is on Telegraph Avenue, without fences, and with all the problems that Telegraph has, we have never had a plant vandalized, and had only one plant stolen in 12 years. 

The outpouring of support for Willard is for more than the mere plants. It is for more than just the space. It is for the years of community, built through the regular work around the gardening and cooking program which is the Willard Greening Project. Due to these programs, community members, parents, and the kids, go the extra step for the school, and the school and community benefit in return. Because school board members and district staff rarely come around to school, have never volunteered in our project, and because they don’t live and walk in our community, they aren’t aware of the invisible glue that is an important part of our community. 

It has been a month since the tractor trashed our garden. I and other community members look forward to meeting with the school district, and hope that the garden can be repaired and replanted before the rainy season begins. 

Yolanda Huang 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Please will somebody take a look at the Harrison’s House backyard garden. They have laid off the gardner that turned a swamp into a place of tranquility for homeless people to meditate and get in tune with nature and God when they’re only allowed to return to the shelter at 5 p.m. daily whether they are sick, dealing with bad weather, at 8 a.m. they have to go. Take a look at the garden Nancy Jordan had created and now they have laid the gardnener off and building a $1.5 million building next door. We need all the help we can get to get the gardner back as soon as possible. Take a look a the lawns Jordan wanted. They are dying and she’s been trying to maintain them Please write boona cheema or the City Council. Maybe even the new mayor of Berkeley. Phyllis has been helping, but she is overwhelmed with multiple managerial tasks. Send donations to BOSS/Payroll or BOSS/Admin. Let’s work together to save Harrison House’s gardener.  

Ollie Daniels 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Go Away Blank Family! 

There was once a man named Jerome Blank, a local real estate developer in Albany, who owned so many properties and was involved in so much local wheeling and dealing, that he was given the nickname Mr. Albany.  

In the ‘60s, Mr. Albany fought to have the Safeway on Solano Ave. built promising nearby residents that there would no negative effects such as garbage or parking problems. Fast-forward 40 years to 2004 and you can see neighbors griping as they pick up debris that blows in their yards from the aging supermarket. To make matters worse, Safeway only cleans up the garbage on the sidewalk, leaving the trash that falls in the gutter to the whims of the wind and rain. 

Safeway employees, afraid to park in the employee parking lot due to break-ins, park in front of local residents’ homes, resulting in homeowners having to park wherever they can find a place. 

Now the ghost of Mr. Albany is back to destroy the quality of life again in the vicinity of 1530 Solano Ave., where his greedy heirs own an office building. The Blank Family Trust is negotiating with Nextel and Metro PCS to locate nine telecommunication antennas endangering health and lowering property values of nearby residents. 

The City of Albany’s environmental department recently issued what is known as a mitigated negative declaration. The findings were that the nine antennas would have no environmental impact at all to nearby residents. Consultants hired and paid by Nextel and MetroPCS did a study that demonstrated that the project would meet FCC regulations. Does the phrase, “conflict of interest” come to mind? 

Since these antennas are to be located not too far from my house, I decided to do a little research of my own. Nine cellular antennas! No environmental impact! “Something smells fishy,” I thought. 

Although not a scientist by profession, I had friends who provided links to research on the subject of EMF exposure. After reading several abstracts which dealt with the subject of potential negative health effects of living near cellular antennas, came to following conclusion: The research to date on the ill effects of exposure to EMFs is at best inconclusive. However, the following can be said with absolute certainty. 

1) Cell phone radiation can cause DNA damage! However, it is unclear if your body can repair DNA damage without mutating genes? 

2) Recent U.S. studies are showing more significant bio-effects at lower and lower power densities. Dr. Henry Lai has reported DNA single and double strand breaks at levels below the current FCC exposure standard. Magras & Xenos have reported irreversible sterility in mice after five generations of exposure to .168 to 1.053 microwatts per square centimeter in an “antenna park.” 

I could go on and on but the simple fact is that verdict is still not out on EMF exposure even if that exposure falls within the current FCC guidelines. 

It should be clear to Albany residents familiar with local history that what is good for the Blank family is probably not good for them! 

I would be grateful to hear from anyone or any group who has had experience and success in fighting these invasive projects.  

Steve Pinto 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

For the sake of humanity, when will the human race wake up to the realization that there are hundreds of religious faiths in this world that know that the God they worship is the one and only true God? And will they ever stop slaughtering each other over which God is True?  

There are hundreds of millions of people in this world that believe in the Christian religion, and that the God they worship is “The One and Only True God.” How can that many people be wrong? 

There are hundreds of millions of people in this world that believe that Allah is “The One and Only True God.” How can those millions of people all be wrong? 

Then, there are hundreds of millions of Hindus in this world that believe that Krishna is “The One and Only True God.” Can that many people be suffering under a delusion? 

Then, there are hundreds of millions that profess that Buda is “The One and Only True God.” Again, can that many people be wrong? 

Then of course, there are millions of other faiths that have a lock on God, along with the tens of thousands of beliefs that have come and gone since mankind first started thinking about the “Spiritual World.”  

Religious conflict is one of the greatest causes of suffering in this world today, and has been for centuries. 

Will mankind have to wipe itself off the face of the earth before the conflict is over? The world seems to be gaining the ability and coming closer to that solution every day. 

Warren Ogren 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

Is it just the money folks? Is it OK to prostitute yourself for dinners, jewels, jobs? And, of course, we all wink at the ads for special massages. What a waste of time, money, and pretended morality! Wouldn’t it be great if all so-called “perverts,” such as prostitutes, homosexuals, even drug users, were all “closeted”! We wouldn’t have to spend all those millions on our noble wars against revolutionary evils like pandering, gay-marriage, or medical marijuana! Just think, law enforcement could spend those resources chasing real criminals instead!  

Gerta Farber 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I greatly enjoy Ron Sullivan’s articles about trees as well as your other writer’s pieces about the various fauna and flora with which we share this corner of the world. However I think Sullivan’s article on poor tree pruning did not go far enough. While she is correct about the basics of pruning, we should note that the problems which may befall a tree often begin much earlier.  

Many trees are planted with the thought “how fast will it grow?” with the desire for quick screening, privacy or shade as paramount. Often the tree that provides rapid growth and the desired results in five years will become a problem in 10 years. Frequently trees are planted where they will never achieve their natural size and form if they are too close to structures, paving or property lines. Over-large trees planted where they shade out a neighbor’s yard, perhaps also reducing access to solar energy, or create a fire hazard for the tree’s owner or neighbors can become a bone of contention and can create bad feelings all around.  

If you are going to plant a tree please consider what the tree needs to be successful. Will it have enough room in 50 years not just in five? Are its requirements for sun, water and space compatible with your yard and the adjoining properties? Will it be on top of sub-surface utilities or under power lines? Does it create a fire hazard? Most conifers, eucalyptus and acacias are not only fast growing but can be explosively flammable. Keeping hazardous plants away from structures is a must; it may well keep fire from getting in, it can keep fire from getting out as well.  

Most of Berkeley is closely developed with relatively small lots, yet big trees usually need big spaces. If your lot is small and your neighbors close, a smaller tree may provide all you want and still be in scale with Berkeley’s pattern of development. Additionally it should not tempt one to perform major amputations on it. If needed, quick screening may be achieved with fast growing shrubs while a choice but slower growing tree gains size and stature. Careful siting and selection of these major landscape investments is the best defense against an incompetently wielded chainsaw.  

Michael Farrell  



Once More into the Quagmire: Vietnam and Iraq: By PHIL McARDLE

Friday September 17, 2004

George Santayana, the great Spanish-American philosopher, told us that those who don’t learn from history are condemned to repeat it. This profound observation has been invoked out of context ad nauseam. Nevertheless, its real meaning stays fresh because it was intended for events like the Holocaust and for situations like ours today in Iraq. Many Americans didn’t learn the lessons of Vietnam, and so here we are, trapped in that genuine rarity, a disaster in which history repeats itself. The parallels between the two wars are breathtaking. 

Like Iraq, Vietnam was, first and foremost, a presidentially initiated misadventure, an unnecessary intervention in a place where we could not prevail by force of arms. Neither war protected American security. Both were interminable. And hideously, in both the lives of our soldiers were thrown away to no purpose. 

A huge amount of speculation has gone into trying to figure out why presidents Bush and Johnson took us to war in such distant lands. I used to dismiss examinations of the purely personal aspects of their decision making as the equivalent of pop fiction, less important than real facts, figures, historical trends and so forth. Nowadays I give a lot more weight to the personal. 

Many writers have said a big part of Lyndon Johnson’s decision to fight in Vietnam was his desire to beat Barry Goldwater in 1964 and win the presidency on his own, to get over being cast as Jack Kennedy’s ungainly, illegitimate heir. He was also personally offended by Ho Chi Minh’s intransigence. These were his private feelings while he was taking major, secret steps toward war and playing the role of “peace candidate” in public.  

Johnson knew better. On tape recordings made in the Oval Office in those days we hear him telling confidants like Richard Russell that he can’t see any way to avoid the war or any way to win it. Johnson was a fool. There were a lot of other ways to deal with Vietnam. After all, our people didn’t want to fight. We hardly knew how to find Vietnam on a map. Goldwater might have been a danger to the world, but Johnson could have whipped him without plunging into a foreign war. 

I was a GI then, stationed at Travis Air Force Base, just north of San Francisco. Everybody in my unit voted for Johnson. As soon as Goldwater came in view as a possible president, all those troopers—lifers and enlistees alike—decided he was too much of a nitwit to be trusted with their lives. So they believed LBJ’s lies. Me, too. As it happened, my enlistment ended before the war heated up, and like a lot of ex-GI’s, I lost track of the people I served with. But I know most of them were sent to Vietnam, a number of them were wounded, and I fear that some of them were killed. 

In American Dynasty, Kevin Phillips described Bush’s strong personal motives for making war on Iraq. We know from unchallenged news reports that when George Sr. was on a visit to Kuwait, Iraqi agents attempted to assassinate him. It has been less widely reported that Laura Bush was with him, and that she also would have been killed. As London’s Daily Telegraph put it (in “Unfinished Business for the Bush Family,” March 18, 2003), for the younger Bush, our current president, “toppling Saddam was a matter of the heart as well as an affair of state.” If true, this makes a grotesquely inadequate rationale for a war that has caused thousands and thousands of casualties. Everyone who paid attention knows there were real alternatives to invading Iraq in order to change the regime. 

As a causus belli, the Gulf of Tonkin incident was dubious at best. We know definitely that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. Yet Johnson and Bush each claimed to be totally disinterested, patriotic custodians of our interests. Presenting Vietnam and Iraq as imminent dangers to us, they offered “national security” as the overwhelming justification for these unnecessary wars.  

Well, we lost the war in Vietnam. It’s hard to see what difference it made here at home. Our lives went on as though nothing had happened. Our standard of living didn’t drop. We did have a period of severe inflation when the cost of the war came due. (That will happen again.) And the air was a little clearer: we were no longer subjected to endless chatter about the domino theory or body counts as a measure of our military prowess. But in retrospect, it sure looks as though the Vietnamese threat to our “national security” was unreal. 

We were in even less danger of being conquered by the Iraqis. The Bush administration fouled the airwaves by substituting “weapons of mass destruction” for the domino theory. When the threat of WMDs became laughable, they switched (like their predecessors) to other rationalizations, the most unsavory of which is that we have a duty to impose democracy by force. Sometimes it sounds as though we are doing the Iraqis a good turn by blowing up their country, and that we have a moral obligation to complete the job, however long it takes. 

I’m afraid we’ve lost this war, too. Pretending we’re winning, Bush looks like a mortuary make-up artist trying to give the illusion of life to a corpse. His policy has failed completely. He and Johnson look more alike every day. But Bush may yet surpass him by becoming the first American president to lose two wars simultaneously. Remember Afghanistan? We’re also losing there. 

The Vietnam war seemed to go on forever. In fact, it lasted a decade. Today generals like Tommy Franks estimate that Iraq will last at least five more years. Perhaps, if things go on as they are now, we’ll see light at the end of the tunnel in 2009. Or 2010, or 2020. Perhaps the light at the end of the tunnel will turn out to be the headlight on a train coming at us. 

While we wait to find out, the waste of lives continues. When I was at Travis we welcomed the walking wounded when we met them on the base. There wasn’t much we could do beyond trying to find a comforting word. We usually didn’t see the severely maimed and crippled. They went directly to hospitals for long term care. The dead were en route to their graves. We’ve had thousands of casualties in Iraq. Bush must hope he can distract people’s attention from them for at least two more months. 

After John Kerry came back from Vietnam, he famously asked, “How do you ask a man to be the last to die for a mistake?” For him and for us, it will be a painful and bitter irony if he is elected and becomes the leader who arranges our withdrawal from another unnecessary field of battle, where one more American 

soldier will be the last to die. 


Berkeley resident Phil McArdle is a freelance writer and author of Exactly Opposite the Golden Gate (Berkeley Historical Society) and Fatal Fascination (Houghton Mifflin). 0

An Important Step For California’s Children: By ASSEMBLYMEMBER WILMA CHAN

Friday September 17, 2004

Among the legislation sitting on the governor’s desk awaiting his signature is a bill that takes an important step towards the establishment of a system of universal access to preschool in California.  

Currently California lags behind the rest of the nation in access to preschool programs, particularly for minority and low-income children. Only four in 10 of California’s 3- and 4-year-olds are enrolled in preschool.  

Research shows that children who attend quality preschool programs are better able to learn to read and do their best in school. In addition, they are better behaved in class and more likely to graduate from high school and attend college. 

Assembly Bill 712, which I authored along with assemblymembers Steinberg, Daucher, and Liu, calls for the establishment of a Blue Ribbon Committee, under the direction of the California Children and Families Commission, to prepare a workforce development plan that will yield a well-trained, culturally and linguistically diverse teaching and administrative staff, to work with all children from birth to age 8 in high-quality early care, preschool, and K-3 programs. 

In addition, the legislation calls for a study that will provide an estimate of the cost of a voluntary Preschool for All program for the entire state.  

Locally, my office worked with community leaders to establish a quality preschool at Fruitvale Elementary School in Oakland. Since its opening in March of 2003, the first class of children has passed through the program with impressive results. According to a follow-up study, students made major gains in their overall development, with marked increases in the number of fully mastered skills essential for success in kindergarten. 

In order to meet the challenge of preparing our young children for the future, we must take the important first steps towards access to a quality preschool experience for all children. Our first challenge will be to recruit, train, and sustain a diverse workforce capable of providing a quality preschool experience for our children. 

Towards that end, the Blue Ribbon Committee proposed in AB 712 will make recommendations which:  

• Delineate core competencies that teachers and administrators should possess. 

• Align college programs to provide the instruction and content needed. 

• Create a mechanism to approve or accredit training programs. 

• Provide for teacher certification in early childhood education. 

• Establish ongoing professional development for early care and education professionals. 

• Provide appropriate compensation incentives to attract, retain and reward staff.  


Despite our state’s current economic situation, we must begin to take the concrete steps that will give all children the opportunity to succeed in school. Laying the foundation for a statewide system of quality preschool is one of the smartest investments we can make in our children, our schools, our neighborhoods and the state of California. 


Assemblywoman Wilma Chan (D-Oakland) Chairs the Assembly Select Committee on California Children’s School Readiness and Health. 

Retelling the Mysterious Death of King Yazdgerd: By KEN BULLOCK

Special to the Planet
Friday September 17, 2004

Darvag, the East Bay theater company now staging Bahram Beyzaie’s Death of Yazdgerd at Ashby Stage through this weekend, has produced plays since 1985, often in Farsi. 

But Death of Yazdgerd is an opportunity for English-speaking audiences to experience an unusual, poetic drama that traces contemporary themes in an historical setting unfamiliar to many outside the Iranian community. 

The brief but informative program notes give the known facts: Yazdgerd III was the last of the Sassanid kings of Iran. His death in 651, during the Arab invasions that brought Islam to this Zoroastrian realm, was mysterious: his corpse was discovered in a mill, but the cause of his death—and the whereabouts of his remains—are unknown. 

Beyzaie’s poetic inquiry begins where the scant history leaves off—in the mill where Yazdgerd’s body lies in state on a bloody millstone, a priest prays over him (covered by a gold mask and his robes) while an army commander passes a brutal death sentence on the miller, his wife and daughter for their evident responsibility for the death of the king. The commander orders a captain to raise a gallows. The family protests. 

They begin to tell their story—of the arrival of the king disguised as a beggar. Then, one by one, they act it out as they tell, donning the crown and eventually using the golden mask to act out the part of the king. Each takes a turn, beginning with the miller, as the story shifts, more questions come up than are answered, and the point of view subtly changes.  

Did the king command—and pay for—his own murder? Did he seduce the miller’s wife, demand his daughter? Who really knows who the king is, anyway? Who’s really looked upon his face? The roles change ‘round, the wife playing king as the miller plays himself, reversing an earlier vignette . . . the priest and soldiers in turn grow angry, threatening, confused, wary. 

Clearly, the themes are universal enough, and the play-acting of the accused might seem like an Absurdist parable. But Death of Yazdgerd has ironies that are both deeper and more direct. It’s from that old tradition in theater and literature that talks about things close up through a story that’s far away in time or space. Ironically, the most famous example of this in European literature would be Montesquieu’s Persian Letters, in which he satirized France by talking about Persia. 

Beyzaie seems to be using the mystery of the death of the last pre-Islamic shah to speak of the career and death of a more recent one, also followed by an Islamic takeover. There are matters of corruption from top to bottom in both cases. The miller and his family protest their innocence, their humble honesty—but soon show their wiliness, their ability to compromise the truth and themselves. 

As the notes go on to say, “If a king’s glory was lost due to his misdeeds, his reign was doomed to collapse. In such an event, it was a common belief that only the king’s death could spare the country from further disaster.” 

Darvag’s production shows great energy, especially in the acting of the miller and his family. Though a modern play, it’s poetic and rhetorical—something English-speaking audiences aren’t as used to as they once were—realism is our current stylization. But despite great presence and voice by Richard Louis James, Bella Warda (co-founder of Darvag) and Sara Razavi as the miller and his family—and real stage presence by Ali Dadgar as the commander, Nicholas A. Olivero as the captain and D. Anthony Harper as the priest—Evren Odcikin’s stage direction didn’t come up to his evident conception of the play. 

Lines and movement were both strung to a high pitch throughout; there was none of the play of dynamics that would have brought out the subtle turnings of the text into clearer relief onstage. As the miller’s family acts, the others are left to stand and listen; surely some stylized business or attitude would have made them reflexive to the action? 

The impression that remains, though, is of the implications of the play, so Darvag put it across. There are wonderful exchanges: 

“Everything we have comes from the King.” 

“What are you saying, man? We have nothing!” 

“Even that comes from the King!” 

Or, after proclaiming that history is written by the victors, they bemoan “a hopeless war . . . from him we inherited a world we could not defend”—and they wonder how they’ll explain it all to the real victors . . . 

Bahram Beyzaie’s script, in Manuchehr Anvar’s translation, is delicious theater. 


Dozens Rally at Murder Sites: By JAKOB SCHILLER

Friday September 17, 2004

As a way to voice their concern about the murders this summer in Berkeley, community members, city officials and several youth organizations turned out to Wednesday evening rallies held at the site of three different killings. 

“If your community was in crisis, where would you be,” said Aunt Bea, 76, one of more than thirty Berkeley community members who came to the two south Berkeley rallies held right next to each other at Adeline Street and Alcatraz Avenue and Adeline and Harmon streets. 

“Berkeley is like a tornado, every night there is flare up,” she said. 

The third rally was held in West Berkeley at Ashby Avenue and Harmon Street. 

Event organizer Candace Miles-Threatt, said the event was set up “to encourage residents to take try and find solutions for their community” and as a way to allow for “mourning and healing.” 


Arts Calendar

Friday September 17, 2004



“Sock Monkey Goes to Hollywood” at Barnes and Noble at 10:30 a.m. 644-3635. 


Mark P. Fisher “Love for Sale” paintings, reception for the artist at 5 p.m. at Turn of the Century Fine Arts, 2510 San Pablo Ave. and runs to Oct. 20. 849-0950. www.turnofthecenturyfinearts.com 


Neo-Eiga: “Bokunchi-My House” at 7 p.m. “Peep TV Show” at 9:30 p.m. at the Pacific Film Archive. Cost is $4-$8. 642-0808. www.bampfa.berkeley.edu 


Alameda Civic Light Opera, “Pippin,” Sept. 17, 18 at 8 p.m. Sept. 19 at 2 p.m. Kofman Auditorium, 2220 Central Ave. in Alameda. Tickets are $23 in advance, $25 at the door. Child and senior discounts. 864-2256. www.aclo.com 

Aurora Theatre Company, “The Persians” opens at the Aurora Theatre and runs through Oct. 10. Tickets are $28-$45. 843-4822. www.auroratheatre.org 

Black Repertory Theater, “Copy Cat” at 3201 Adeline St. Fri. at 8 p.m. Sat., 5 p.m., Sun. 3 and 7 p.m. Tickets are $10. 652-2120. 

Berkeley Rep, “The Secret in the Wings” at the Roda Theater, 2015 Addison St. until Oct. 17. Tickets are $10-$55. 647-2949. www.berkeleyrep.org 

Darvag, “Death of Yazdgerd” at 8 p.m. at the Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby Ave. through Sat. Tickets are $15. 595-4607. http://darvag.org 

“General Waste-More-Land,” guerilla theater performed by Tom Dunphy at 7 p.m. at Humanist Hall, 390 27th St., Oakland. 393-5685. 

Impact Theatre, “Fluffy Bunnies in a Field of Daisies” a sexually-honest comedy, at 8 p.m. at La Val’s Subterranean Theater, 1834 Euclid, and runs Thurs. - Sat. through Oct. 2 Tickets are $10-$15. 464-4468. www.impacttheatre.com 

Naked Masks “Landscape” by Harold Pinter, Fri. and Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 5 p.m., through Sept. 26, at Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant Ave. Tickets are $10 available at the door. 883-9872. www.nakedmasks.org 

Oakland Opera Theater “Akhnaten” an opera by Philip Glass, Fr. and Sat. at 8 p.m. Sun. at 2 p.m. through Oct. 3 at Oakland Metro Theater, 201 Broadway, at 2nd St. Tickets are $18-$32, available on line at www.oaklandopera.org  

Unscripted Theater Company, “The Short and the Long of It,” an improv theater experience, Fri. and Sat. at 8 p.m. at Temescal Arts Center, 511 48th St. at Telegraph, through Oct. 2. Tickets are $7-$10. 415-869-5384. www.un-scripted.com 


“Bach’s Sonatas and Partitas for Unaccompanied Violin” with Dr. John Holloway, Dept. of Music Regents’ Lecturer at 4:30 p.m. at 125 Morrison Hall, UC Campus. Free. 642-4864. http://music.berkeley.edu 

Chitra Divakaruni reads from “Queen of Dreams” at 7:30 p.m. at Cody’s Books. 845-7852. www.codysbooks.com  

Julia Vinograd at 7:30 p.m. at the Fellowship Café & Open Mic, Cedar & Bonita Sts. Donation of $5-10 is requested. The series is sponsored by the Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists.  


Suzanne Farrell Ballet at 8 p.m. at Zellerbach Hall, UC Campus. Tickets are $30-$56 available from 642-9988. www.calperfs.berkeley.edu 

Sequoia Concerts Piano Recital and talk “The Fugue & Its Music” with Leonore Hall, pianist and founder of Sequoia Concerts at 7:45 p.m. at the Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant Ave. Tickets are $15-$25. 415-342-6151, www.sequoiaconcerts.com  

Organ Concert celebrating the Autumn Equinox with Dave Hatt at 7:30 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church of Oakland Sanctuary, 2619 Broadway. Suggested donation $10. 444-3555. www.firstchurchoakland.org  

Mike Zilber and Friends present new work at 8 p.m. at the Jazzschool. Cost is $12-$18. 845-5373. www.jazzschool.com 

Grito Serpentino, spoken word and music, at 8 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $10. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

Lavay Smith & Her Red Hot Skillet Lickers at 9:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Dance lesson with Nick & Shana at 8 p.m. Cost is $13. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

Richard Greene & The Brothers Barton, acoustic string band, 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 

Opie Bellas Quartet at 9 p.m. at Downtown. 649-3810.  

Timothy Daniel, singer songwriter, at 7:30 p.m. at Nomad Cafe, 6500 Shattuck Ave. 595-5344. www.nomadcafe.net 

The Phenomenauts, Harold Ray, Bart Davenport in a benefit for Jesse Townley at 9:30 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $8-$10. 841-2082. www.starryplough.com 

Scarlet Symphony, Gasoline Please, Free Verse, Kudzu Wish at 8 p.m. at 924 Gilman St., an all-ages, member-run, no alcohol, no drugs, no violence club. Cost is $6. 525-9926. 

Michael Zilber and Friends at 8 p.m. at the Jazzschool. Cost is $12-$18. 845-5373. www.jazz- 


Most Chill Slack Mob at 9 p.m. at Shattuck Down Low, 2284 Shattuck Ave. Cost is $5-$8. 548-1159. www.shattuckdownlow.com 

Angel Spit, Julia Lau Band, Mastema at 9:30 p.m. at Beckett’s Irish Pub, 2271 Shattuck Ave. 647-1790. www.beckettsirishpub.com 

Plan 9, The Killers 3, The Undertaker & His Pals at 9:30 p.m. at Blakes on Telegraph. Cost is $7. 848-0886. www.blakesontelegraph.com 

The Lemon Limelights 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 

Most Chill Slackmob, hiphop, at 9:30 p.m. at Shattuck Down Low, 2284 Shattuck Ave. Cost is $5-$7. 548-1159.  

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

Algerian Music at 7 p.m. at Cafe Raphael’s, 10064 San Pablo Ave., El Cerrito. 525-4227. 



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

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


California Shakespeare Theater, “All’s Well That Ends Well” Tues.-Fri. at 7:30 p.m., Sat at 8 p.m., Sun. at 4 p.m. at the Bruns Memorial Amphitheater, through Oct. 10. Tickets are $13-$32. 548-9666. www.calshakes.org 


“To the Dogs” an art show featuring all canine artwork by Lori Cheung, Jonathan Palmer, Mitchell Rose and Elizabeth Taylor. At 7 p.m. at Strawberry Creek Design Center, 1250 Addison St., Suite 102. 883-1126. www.innersport.com 

“Color” featuring works by Sue Jenkins, Ingrid King and Michael Sacramento. Reception for the artists at 7 p.m. at 4th Street Studio, 1717D Fourth St. 527-0600. www.fourthstreetstudio.com 

“Metal Art 2004” an exhibition of wearable, ornamental and artistic metal art. Oakland Museum of California, 1000 Oak St. 834-2296. 

Mitchell Johnson, “Paintings and Works on Paper” Reception for the artist at 4:30 p.m. at North Berkeley Frame and Gallery, 1744 Shattuck Ave. Exhibition runs through Nov. 6. 549-0428. 


Neo-Eiga: “Shara” at 5 p.m., “Ramblers” at 7 p.m. and “Akame 48 Waterfalls” at 8:50 p.m. at the Pacific Film Archive. Cost is $4-$8. 642-0808. www.bampfa.berkeley.edu 


“Japanese Cinema Now” a lecture with Matsuhiro Yoshimoto, in conjunction with “Neo-eiga: New Japanese Cinema Showcase” at 3:30 p.m. at the Pacific Fim Archive. Free. http://ieas.berkeley.edu 

Oscar Penaranda reads his po- 

etry at 5 p.m. at Eastwind Books of Berkeley, 2066 University Ave. 548-2350. www.ewbb.com 


Suzanne Farrell Ballet at 8 p.m. at Zellerbach Hall, UC Campus. Tickets are $30-$56 available from 642-9988. www.calperfs.berkeley.edu 

Natto Quartet with Philip Gelb, shakuhachi, Shoko Hikage, koto, Tim Perkis, electronics, and Chris Brown, piano at 8 p.m. at Trinity Chapel, 2320 Dana St. Tickets are $8-$12. 549-3864. www. 


Alexander String Quartet at 10 a.m. at St. John’s Presbyterian Church, 2727 College Ave. 415-392-2545. www.performances.org  

Crooked Jades, old-time and bluegrass, at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $16.50 in advance, $17.50 at the door. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 

Araucaria Dance Ensemble, Chilean folk dance, at 5:30 and 9 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $8-$10 at the door. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

Geoffrey Keezer, modern piano, at 8 p.m. at the Jazz- 

school. Cost is $12-$15. 845-5373. www.jazzschool.com 

Kotoja at 9:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. African dance lesson with Comfort Mensah at 9 p.m. Cost is $11-$13. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

Andrew Wilshusen and Chad Stockdale, jazz improv drum and saxophone, at 8 p.m. at The Jazz House. Cost is $6-$15. www.thejazzhouse.org 

Maye Cavallaro Cabaret Jazz at 9 p.m. at Downtown. 649-3810.  

J-Soul, singer songwriter, at 7:30 p.m. at Nomad Cafe, 6500 Shattuck Ave. 595-5344. www.nomadcafe.net  

The Cushion Theory, Espontaneos, The Audrey Session at 9:30 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $6. 841-2082. www.starryplough.com 

Scribe, Thriving Ivory, Blammos, Redline at 9 p.m. at Blakes on Telegraph. Cost is $7. 848-0886. www.blakesontelegraph.com 

Internal Affairs, The Donnybrook, Stop at Nothing, Set Your Goals at 8 p.m. at 924 Gilman St. Cost is $6. 525-9926. 

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



“MATRIX 213: Some Forgotten Place” contemporary painters explore the subject of landscape. Opens at the Berkeley Art Museum, 2625 Durant Ave. Artist talk at 4 p.m. in Gallery 1. 642-0808. www.banpfa.berkeley.edu 


Neo-Eiga: “Red Persimmons” at 2 p.m. “Women in the Mirror” at 4 p.m. “A Woman’s Work” at 7 p.m. at the Pacific Film Archive. Cost is $4-$8. 642-0808. www.bampfa.berkeley.edu 


Naomi Shihab Nye, Palestinian-American poet reads at a benefit for medical aid for Palestinian children at 4 p.m. at Middle East Children’s Alliance, 901 Parker St. Tickets are $50. 548-0542. www.mecaforpeace.org 

Poets for Peace at with Ilya Kaminsky, Peter Streckfus, and Fred Marchant at 8 p.m. at Pegasus Books Downtown, 2349 Shattuck Ave. 649-1320. 

“A Question of Patriotism” a discussion of the Chicano and Latino experience in conjunction with the exhibit “California and the Vietnam Era” at 1 p.m. at the Oakland Museum of California, 10th and Oak Sts. www.museum.ca.org 

Poetry Flash with Valerie Coulton, Doug MacPherson and Edward Smallfield at 7:30 p.m. at Cody’s Books. Donation $2. 845-7852. www.codysbooks.com 


An Afternoon of Music, Poetry and Zen Non-Wisdom to benefit MoveOn’s 50 for the Future Campaign with pianists Sarah Cahill, Marc Steiner, Margret Elson and Carl Goldstein at 2422 Hillside Ave., across from the Nyingma Institute. Suggested donation $75. For reservations, email kgoldstein@juno.com 

Organ Recital with Carl Smith of the Blair School of Music, Vanderbilt University, at 4 p.m. at St John’s Presbyterian Church, 2727 College Ave. www.stjohns.presbychurch.net/Music/organ.htm. 

Live Oak Concert with Marvin Sanders, flute, Jonathan Davis, harpsichord at 7:30 p.m. at Berkeley Art Center, 1275 Walnut St. Cost is $9-$10. 644-6893. 

Virsky Ukranian National Dance Company at 3 p.m. at Zellerbach Hall, UC Campus. Tickets are $24-$48 available from 642-9988. www.calperfs.berkeley.edu 

Music from Japan’s 30th Anniversary Project at 3 p.m. at Hertz Hall, UC Campus. Tickets are $28 available from 642-9988. www.calperfs.berkeley.edu 

“The Cosmic Dance” Odissi dance and music, featuring the dancers of the Jyoti Kala Mandir performing company at 5 p.m. at Julia Morgan Center for the Arts. Tickets are $12-$25. 

The Welfare Cheats and Jon Frommer, political songs, at 7:30 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $7-$15. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

Boban Markovic Orkestar at 8:30 p.m. Ashkenaz. Lecture and demonstration with Mark Forry, Rachel McFarlane and Boban Markovic at 7 p.m. Cost is $15, $5 for lecture only. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

Kenny Washington at 4:30 at the Jazzschool. Cost is $12-$18. 845-5373. www.jazzschool.com 

Rothbaum, Drake, Bruckmann & Stackpole Quartet, avant garde classics, at 8 p.m. at The Jazz House. Donations accepted. www.thejazzhouse.com 

Tish Hinojosa, original and contemporary folk, at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $17.50 in advance, $18.50 at the door. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 

Americana Unplugged wtih Alhambra Valley Band at 5 p.m. at Jupiter. 848-8277. 

Absent Society, Displace, Forthmorning at 8 p.m. at Blakes on Telegraph. Cost is $6. 848-0886. www.blakesontelegraph.com 



“Eye Talk Art” Visions from three National Institute of Disabilities artists, Deatra Colbert, Marlon Mullen and Kevin Randolph, opens at Britt-Marie’s Art Gallery, 1369 Solano Ave., near Ramona, Albany. 527-1314.  


Heidenreich and Hofmann in Postwar New York A special screening of “Land and Freedom” at 1:30 p.m. at the Pacific Film Archive. Cost is $4-$8. 642-0808. www.bampfa.berkeley.edu 


William Sloane Coffin describes “Credo” at 7:30 p.m. at Cody’s Books. 845-7852. www.codysbooks.com 

Poetry Express, featuring Cherise Wyneken, from 7 to 9:30 p.m., at Priya Restaurant, 2072 San Pablo Ave. berkeleypoetryexpress@yahoo.com 


Claudia Quintet at 8 p.m. at The Jazz House. Donation $10-$15. www.thejazzhouse.com 

Tokiko Kato at 8 and 10 p.m. at Yoshi’s at Jack London Square. Cost is $30. 238-9200. www.yoshis.com 



Suzanne Lacke: Paintings opens at the Giorgi Gallery, 2911 Claremont Ave. at Ashby, and runs through Oct. 12. 848-1228. 


Loose Ends: “The Sixties” at 7:30 p.m. at the Pacific Film Archive. Cost is $4-$8. 642-0808. www.bampfa.berkeley.edu 


“Authors and Advocates” with Dave Eggers and Ayelet Waldman at 7:30 p.m. at College Preparatory School, Buttner Auditorium, 6100 Broadway, Oakland. Cost is $5-$10. 658-5202. www.collegerep.org/livetalk 

Joseph Coulson, El Cerrito resident and author of “Vanishing Moon,” reads at 7 p.m. at El Cerrito Library, 6510 Stockton Ave. 526-7512. 

Clive Barker returns with “Abarat II: Days of Magic, Nights of War” especially for young readers, at 7:30 p.m. at Cody’s Books. 845-7852. www.codysbooks.com 

Michael Schapiro describes “A Sense of Place: Great Writers Talk About Their Craft, Lives and Inspiration” at 7:30 p.m. at Easy Going Bookstore, 1385 Shattuck Ave. 843-3533. 


Berkeley Chamber Performances presents Strata Trio with Nathan Williams, clarinet, James Stern, violin/viola, and Audrey Andrist, piano at 8 p.m. at the Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant Ave. Tickets are $20. 525-5211. www.berkeleychamber.perform.org 

Henry Kaiser’s Grooves of Mystery, psychedelic blues rock dance party, at 8:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $9. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

Jazz House Jam, hosted by Darrell Green and Geechy Taylor at 8 p.m. at The Jazz House. Donation $5. www.thejazzhouse.com 

Baka Beyond, Africa-Celtic crossover, at 8 and 10 p.m. Yoshi’s at Jack London Square, through Wed. Cost is $12-$20. 238-9200. www.yoshis.com 

Jazzschool Tuesdays, a weekly showcase of ensembles from Berkeley Jazzschool at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 848-8277. 

Rob Ewing and Lisa Mazzacappa at 8 p.m. at Downtown. 649-3810.

Dogs Try to Keep it Down During New Quiet Hours: By MATTHEW ARTZ

Friday September 17, 2004

It’s daybreak at Berkeley’s Ohlone Dog Park and the pressure is on Rebecca Denison.  

Her dog Sally is an unrepentant barker, and with a tenuous cease fire in the city’s dog park wars officially underway, Denison will try just about anything to mute her six-month-old mutt. 

Early Wedesday—day one of a six-month trial period establishing quiet hours at the park—Dennison affixed a citronella cartridge to Sally’s collar. 

“When Sally barks she gets sprayed and she doesn’t like the spray,” Denison said.  

The potion worked like a charm Wednesday morning. Sally and her six canine comrades were as quiet as bunnies as they chased each other around the dusty park grounds at Grant and Hearst streets. 

Owners of Berkeley’s estimated 35,000 dogs might need plenty of citronella if they want to keep early morning and late night access to the city’s only fenced dog park. After 25-years of persistent barking, bleary-eyed neighbors want to muzzle the nation’s first-ever dog park. 

“We’ve been living with this for a long time and we’ve tried everything,” said Claire Schoen, one of 97 park neighbors who signed a petition last year demanding changes at the park. Last weekend, she said a dog owner threatened to shoot her husband when he asked him to keep his dog from barking. 

“We have confrontations every day,” she said. “It ruins our mornings.” 

Neighbors argued that the park’s weekday schedule from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. often meant they woke up and went to bed to the sound of barking dogs. Besides demanding that the city reduce park hours, they wanted the city to install an automatically locking door to prevent late night trespassers. 

Denison, who takes her dog to the park before work, said closing the park in the early mornings would ruin her neighbors’ afternoons. “If she didn’t get her wiggles out here, she’d just bark in the house all day long.” 

Last spring, amid heated debate, the city’s Parks and Recreation Commission crafted a compromise resoluton. Park hours would remain the same on weekdays, but dog owners would have to observe quiet hours from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. and from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. On holidays the park would follow weekend hours and open at 9 a.m. If dogs started barking during quiet hours, the owners would have to remove them. If the owners refused, the police could be called to escort the dog out of the park. 

On Tuesday afternoon, the city placed “Quiet Hours” signs at the park commencing the six month trial period. 

Park users interviewed generally supported the compromise, but several leaders of the Ohlone Dog Park Association (ODPA) fear the quiet hours are nothing more than a stepping stone in the neighbors’ drive to reduce park hours or close the park entirely. And unlike previous battles, they fear city support has swung in the neighbors’ favor. 

“I really can’t see [the neighbors] stopping now,” said Doris Richards, who founded the park in 1979. “Who is going to say if the six-month trial worked? There’s still going to be barking. It’s not a Zen monastery for dogs.” 

Richards was around in 1987 the last time neighbors joined forces against the dog park. In that battle, she said the city council was squarely on the dog owners’ side. When the neighbors declined to attend dispute resolution, she said the council dropped the item. 

This time around, she and other dog park leaders are having difficulty getting the council involved. In March, at the request of Councilmember Linda Maio who represents the dog park neighbors, the council delegated the issue to the Parks and Recreation Commission with suggestions to limit park hours. 

Sasha Futran, an ODPA member, questioned why the council didn’t have final say over the Parks and Recreation Commission’s compromise plan and why resolutions passed by the Commission on Disability and the Citizens’ Humane Commission in favor of maintaining the current park hours weren’t initially sent to the city council. 

“It seemed like an awful lot of fuss and breaking city regulations on behalf of neighbors who never documented their complaints anyway,” she said. 

City Attorney Zach Cowan replied that Berkeley’s city charter allows the City Manager to set park hours, but that the council can choose to intervene.  

Shirley Stewart, who has lived near the park for 28 years, admits she is skeptical about whether the compromise can work. 

“The dog owners don’t understand what it’s like to live next to a dog park that’s open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.,” she said. “Even if it doesn’t wake you up, it affects you anyway. The ear never closes.”


Friday September 17, 2004

An article in Sept. 14-16 edition of the Daily Planet about the Berkeley Bohemia exhibit incorrectly stated the title of Charles Keeler’s collection of poetry. The correct title is “The Simple Home.”  



Sally Hindman asked that donations for the tile wall project in Bulgaria (featured in an Sept. 7 article) should be sent to: 

Shalom Varna Tile Project 

Bulgaria, Central and Eastern European Program 

American Joint Distribution Committee Box 372 

847A Second Ave. 

New York, NY 10017

Berkeley This Week

Friday September 17, 2004


City Commons Club Noon Luncheon with Chi-An Hu, PhD on “China’s Role in the United Nations.” 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. 

“General Waste-More-Land,” guerilla theater performed by Tom Dunphy at 7 p.m. at Humanist Hall, 390 27th St., Oakland. 393-5685. 

Scottish Country Dancing in Berkeley Free introductory party at 8 p.m. at Grace North Church, 2138 Cedar St. near Walnut. 234-8985.  

“Women on the Threshold of Change” A participatory evening of community singing for women, with Kate Munger of the Threshold Choirs at 7:15 p.m. at First Congregational Church of Berkeley, 2345 Channing Way. Suggested donation $10, no one turned away.  

Inspiration Point Hike with Solo Sierrans. Meet at 4 p.m. at the trailhead. Take Hwy. 24 to Orinda exit, go north on Camino Pablo, which becomes San Pablo Dam Rd., about 2 miles. Turn left on Wild Cat Canyon Rd. at the signal light. The trail is at the top of the hills about 2 miles. Optional dinner in Orinda after the hike. For further information, call Phyllis at 525-2299.  


Darryl Moore for City Council Campaign Kickoff from 1 to 3 p.m. at San Pablo Park with entertainment and light refreshments. 649-1808. www.moorefordistrict2.com 

John Selawsky for School Board Campaign Kickoff at 4:30 p.m. at the Jazz Cafe, 2087 Addison St. 848-0305. selawskyboe@yahoo.com 

California Coastal Cleanup Day Meet at 9 a.m. behind the Seabreeze Market at the corner of University and Frontage Rd.  Everyone needs to sign waivers, we give you trash/recycle bags, pencils, tally cards and a map of the areas we need to clean. For more information see www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/marina/marinaexp/cleanup.htm 

Berkeley Historical Society Walking Tour of Rose Walk, Tamalpais Rd., Codornices Park, led by John Underhill. From 10 a.m. to noon. Cost is $8-$10. For information call 848-0181. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/histsoc/ 

Kids Garden Club Build a shade structure inspired by nature, from 2 to 4 p.m. at Tilden Nature Center, Tilden Park. For ages 7-12. Cost is $3-$5, registration required. 525-2233. 

“Howdy Farmers” come on up to the farm to pet a bunny, see some eggs and baa with the sheep at 10 a.m. at Tilden Nature Area, in Tilden Park. Cost is $3-$5, registration required. 525-2233. www.ebparks.org 

Chilean Bellflower Tour A tour to see Copihues (Lapageria rosea), the national flower of Chile and other Chilean plants in the collection. From 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at UC Botanical Garden, 200 Centennial Drive. Cost is $12-$17, registration required. 643-2755. http://botanicalgarden.berkeley.edu 

Introduction to Permaculture for your garden. From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Wildheart Gardens, 463 61st St., Oakland. Cost is $10-$15, no one turned away. 548-2220, ext. 233. www.ecologycenter.org 

Spring Bulbs Learn how to use bulbs in landscape, as container plantings and as indoor floral displays in winter. At 10 a.m. at Magic Gardens Nursery, 729 Heinz Ave. 644-2351. www.magicgardens.com 

The Berkeley Lawn Bowling Club Open House from 11:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The public is invited come try lawn bowling at the greens, which are located at 2270 Acton at Bancroft. For more information, please call Ray Francis at 234-6646 or email Berkeleylawnbowl@aol.com   

Free Emergency Preparedness Class on Basic Personal Preparedeness from 9 a.m. to noon at 2100 Martin Luther King Jr. Way. To sign up call 981-5605. www.ci.berkeley. 


Home Improvement Seminar: Decks at 9 a.m. at Truitt and White, 1817 Second St. Free, registration required. 649-2674. www.truittandwhite.com 

BAHIA Silent Auction with dinner and music, to benefit bilingual childcare programs in Berkeley, at 2 p.m. at the Duran Foundation, 1035 Carleton St. for information call 525-1463. 

Theater Classes for Adults taught by Shotgun Players, begin at the Julia Morgan Center for the Arts. Shakespeare Scene Study, Sat. at 2 p.m., Acting on Sun. from 2 to 5 p.m., Directing on Mon. from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. Classes run through Nov. www.juliamorgan.org 

Oakland High School Class of 1964 Fourtieth Reunion Picnic For more information please contact elliot@pacbell.net or P.O. Box 10454, Oakland, 94610. 

Walking Tour of Oakland Chinatown Meet at 10 a.m. at the courtyard fountain, Pacific Renaissance Plaza, 388 Ninth St. Tour lasts 90 minutes. For reservations call 238-3234. www.oaklandnet.com/walkingtours 

Collecting Good Water Quality Data Workshop with Dr. Revital Katznelson, Environmental Scientist, State Water Resources Control Board at Merritt College. Cost is $11. 434-3840.  

Berkeley Alliance of Neighborhood Associations meets at 9:15 a.m. at St. John’s Presbyterian Church, Sproul Conference Room, 1st Floor, 2727 College Ave. www.berkeleycna.com 

Friends of the Albany Library Book Sale from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Albany Library, 1247 Marin Ave. All items for this sale are 50 cents or less. All proceeds benefit the Albany Library. 526-3720, ext. 5. 

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. 

Dance Allegro Ballroom Youth Dance Program for ages 5-18, for $5 per class, at 5855 Christie Ave., Emeryville. 655-2888. www.allegroballroom.com  

“Living with Multiple Sclerosis” with Liane Mark, Miss Intercontinental, at 9 a.m. at the Claremont Resort, Tunnel Rd. To register call 866-955-9999. 

“Natural Migrane Cures” with Dr. Arn Strasser at 3 p.m. at Pharmaca, 1744 Solano Ave.  

“Wisdom of Breema” with Jon Schreiber, of the Breema Center, at 10 a.m. at Elephant Pharmacy, 1607 Shattuck.  

“The Canaanite and Hebrew Goddess” with Max Dashu at 7:30 p.m. at Change Makers, 6536 Telegraph Ave, Oakland. Cost is $10-15.  


“How Berkeley Can You Be?” Parade at 11 a.m. at University Ave. at Sacramento, followed by Festival at Civic Center Park at 12:30 p.m. Festival includes arts & crafts vendors, food, libations, art installations, games, kids activities, non-profit organizations, and more.  

Botanic Garden and Summer’s End Explore the range of California’s flora in the native plant facility, from 10 a.m. to noon at the Regional Parks Botanic Garden, Tilden Park. 525-2233. www.ebparks.org 

Hopper Hike It is time to look for Orthoptera: grasshoppers, crickets and catydids. From 2 to 4 p..m. at Tilden Nature Area, in Tilden Park. 525-2233. www.ebparks.org 

Benefit for Middle East Childrens’s Alliance with Naomi Shihab Nye, Palestinian-American poet at 4 p.m. at Middle East Children’s Alliance, 901 Parker St. Tickets are $50. 548-0542. www.mecaforpeace.org 

“Conscientious Objection in a Time of War” with Steve Morse of the GI Rights Hotline, followed by a film on CO’s of WWII and their impact on society. At 10:30 a.m. at Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists, 1924 Cedar St. 841-4824.  

“Hijaking Catastrophe, Fear and the Selling of the American Empire” a film expose of the neo-conservative agenda at 7:15 p.m. at Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists, 1924 Cedar St. 841-4824.  

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 

Sycamore Japanese Church Bazaar with Japanese food, crafts, and games for children, from noon to 5 p.m. at 1111 Navellier St. between Schmidt and Moeser Ave., El Cerrito. 

Introduction to the TaKeTiNa Rhythm Process with Zorina Wolf from 1 to 4 p.m. at Ashkenaz Back Dance Studio, 1317 San Pablo Ave. Cost is $25-35 sliding scale. 650-493-8046. 

“Religion and Spirituality in the Life and Work of Vincent Van Gough” with Marlene Aron at 9:30 a.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley, 1 Lawson Rd., Kensington. Part of the Personal Theology Seminars. 525-0302.  

Tibetan Buddhism with Ken McKeon on “Sacred Dimensions of Time and Space” at 6 p.m. at the Tibetan Nyingma Institute, 1815 Highland Pl. 843-6812. www.nyingmainstitute.com 

Sacred Vedic Fire Ceremony from 9 a.m. to noon at 2309 Eunice St., corner of Arch. RSVP to 527-3568. 


World Affairs/Politics Discussion Group for people 60 years and over meets Mondays at 10:15 a.m. at the Albany Senior Center, 846 Masonic Ave. Join at any time. 524-9122. 

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

Berkeley Rep School of Theatre Fall Classes for Youth and Adults begin at 2071 Addison St. For information call 647-2972. www.berkeleyrep.org 


Afternoon Bird Walk from 4 to 5:30 p.m. at the Martin Luther King Jr. Shoreline. Walk to the edge of the marsh and watch the rails, ducks and raptors. Turn into the park off Swan Way, follow the drive to the end and meet at the last parking lot by the observation deck. 525-2233. 

Residential Green Building and Remodeling Learn about healthier building materials, how to lower your utility bills, reduce home maintenance and minimize remodeling construction waste. From 7 to 10 p.m. at the Building Education Center, 812 Page St. Cost is $35. 525-7610.  

Friends of Strawberry Creek meets from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the Central Berkeley Public Library Meeting Room in downtown Berkeley. We will be preparing recommendations on creek protection and comments for the Creek Ordinance Public Hearing. 524-4005. jennifermaryphd@hotmail.com, caroleschem@hotmail.com 

“Environmental Dominion and the Ecology of Genesis” with Greg Zuschlag at 7:30 p.m. in the GTU Dinner Board Room, 2400 Ridge Rd. 649-2560. www.gtu.edu/studentgroups/trees 

“Climbing Mt. Shasta” Lisa and Michael Krueger will show slides at 7 p.m. at REI, 1338 San Pablo Ave. 527-4140. 

Wellstone Democratic Club with John Judis, author, on “Will the Emerging Democratic Majority Defeat Bush in Novem- 

ber?” at 7 p.m. at Humanist Hall, 390 27th St., between Telegraph and Broadway. www.DemocraticRenewal.us 

“National Security in the Age of Terror” A talk by Gary Hart, fromer U.S. Senator and co-chair of the U.S. Commission in National Security for the 21st Century at 4 p.m. at the Chevron Auditorium, International House, 2299 Piedmont Ave. Sponsored by the Goldman School of Public Policy. 642-4670. 

Family Story Time at the Kensington Branch Library, Tues. evenings at 7 p.m. at 61 Arlington Ave. 524-3043. 

The New SAT with Tara Anderson of Kaplan Test Prep at 7 p.m. at Barnes and Noble, 2352 Shattuck Ave. 644-0861. 

“Are We Eating Too Much?” Is Caloric Restriction for You? with Toni Piechota, City of Berkeley Nutritionist, at 2 p.m. at the North Berkeley Senior Center.  

“Eligibility and Services of State Department of Vocational Rehabilitation” a talk by Sonia Peterson, MA, Rehab Counselor, at noon at the Herrick Campus of Alta Bates Medical Center, 2001 Dwight Way. Those coping with Fibromyalgia and the people who support them are encouraged to attend this free meeting. 644-3273. 

“Weight Loss Surgery: Is It for You?” A seminar at 6 p.m. at the Alta Bates Summit Medical Center, 400 Hawthorne Ave., Oakland. Free, but registration requested. 869-8972. 

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. Laurie Shay will speak about living with her guide dog and other issues for the blind at 11 a.m. 845-6830. 

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.  

Taiko Drumming Classes for adults and students at 725 Gilman St., rear studio. Cost is $12 per class or $60 for a course. www.tatsumakitaiko.com 


Berkeley Path Wanderers Annual Meeting at 7 p.m. at the Hillside Club, 2286 Cedar St. Chuck Wollenberg will speak on the history of Berkeley. www.berkeleypaths.org 

“Demystifying the November Ballot” with Councilmembers Linda Maio and Kriss Worthington, including a discussion of City Measure Q and Prostitution at 1:30 p.m. at the North Berkeley Senior Center. Sponsored by Berkeley Gray Panthers. 548-9696. 

“Sowing for Need or Sowing for Greed” a film at 7 p.m. at Humanist Hall, 390 27th St., Oakland. Admission is free. Part of the GMOs and Food series sponsored by GMO Free Alameda County. 527-9898. www.gmofreeac.org 

Fall Equinox Gathering at the Interim Solar Calendar, Cesar Chavez Park in the Berkeley Marina. Please come promptly at 6:15 so that we can all begin together. Sunset at 7 p.m. chavezmemorial@earthlink.net 

“The Issues: Terrorism and National Security” a panel discussion at 3 p.m. at 109 Moses Hall, UC Campus. Sponsored by the Institute of Governmental Studies. http://politics.berkeley.edu 

“The Unfolding National Tax Disaster” Recommendations with David Cay Johnston and Chuck Collins at 7:30 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley, 1 Lawson Rd., Kensington. 525-0302.  

“Is Taiwan Chinese? The Politics of National Identity” a panel discussion with Prof. Thomas Gold, UCB, Melissa Brown, Stanford, and Dr. Jing Huang, Brookings Inst., at 4:30 p.m. at the IEAS conference room, 2223 Fulton St. http://ieas.berkeley.edu 

“Privatized Unemployment Insurance in Chile” with Kirsten Sehnbruch at 1 p.m. in the CLAS Conference Room, 2334 Bowditch St. 642-2088. 

“A Breath Inside a God” music and poetry workshop with Kim Rosen and Jami Sieber at 7 p.m. at 1517 Fifth St. Cost is $15-$20 sliding scale. To register email delphirose@earthlink.net 

Walk Berkeley for Seniors meets every Wednesday, rain or shine, at 9:30 a.m. at the Sea Breeze market, just west of the I-80 overpass. Everyone is welcome, wear comfortable shoes, sunscreen and a hat. 548-9840. 

Walking Tour of Old Oakland around the restored 1870s business district. Meet at 10 a.m. in front of G.B. Ratto’s at 827 Washington St. For reservations call 238-3234. www.oaklandnet.com/walkingtours 

Argosy University Open House for those interested in learning about degree programs in the fields of psychology, education or business, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at 999-A Canal Blvd. in Point Richmond. Event is free. 215-0277. www.argosyu.edu 

Prose Writers’ Workshop An ongoing group focused on issues of craft, at 7 p.m. at the Berkeley Jewish Community Center, 1414 Walnut St. 524-3034. georgeporter@earthlink.net 

The Berkeley Tango Studio Beginners Series with Argentine tango master Paulo Araujo at 7:30 p.m. Series lasts three weeks. Cost is $35. to register call 655-3585. smling@msn.com 

Berkeley Peace Walk and Vigil at the Berkeley BART Station, corner of Shattuck and Center. Vigil at 6:30 p.m., Peace Walk at 7 p.m. www. 


“Roots of Jewish Humor: How It All Began in One Day in 1667” with humorist Mel Gordon, at 11:30 p.m. at Berkeley Richmond JCC, 1414 Walnut St. Cost is $5. 848-0237. 

“Sukkot: A Meeting Point between Cyclical and Linear” with Avital Plan, at 7 p.m. at the Berkeley Richmond Jewish Community Center, 1414 Walnut St. Cost is $5. 848-0237.  

Want to Quit Smoking? Free smoking cessation program offered at the Over 60 Clinic, 3260 Sacramento St. at 1 p.m. every second and fourth Wed. You need not be an Over 60 patient to join. To register call Jessica at 428-4550. 

“Low Vision Magnifiers and General Eye Health,” with Patricia Hom at 1 p.m. at the North Berkeley Senior Center. Free. 981-5109.  


Council Agenda Committee meets Mon., Sept. 20, at 2:30 p.m., at 2180 Milvia St., Sherry M. Kelly, city clerk, 981-6900. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/citycouncil/agenda-committee 

Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board meets Mon. Sept. 20, at 7 p.m. in City Council Chambers, Pam Wyche 644-6128 ext. 113. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/rent 

Design Review Committee meets Thurs., Sept. 20, at 7:30 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center. Anne Burns, 981-7415. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/commissions/designreview  

City Council meets Tues., Sept. 21, at 7 p.m in City Council Chambers, Sherry M. Kelly, city clerk, 981-6900. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/citycouncil 

Citizens Budget Review Commission meets Wed., Sept. 22, at 7 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center. 981-7041. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/commissions/budget 

Civic Arts Commission meets Wed., Sept. 22, at 6:30 p.m. at the North Berkeley Senior Center. Mary Ann Merker, 981-7533. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/commissions/civicarts 

Disaster Council meets Wed., Sept. 22, at 7 p.m., at the Emergency Operations Center, 997 Cedar St. Carol Lopes, 981-5514. www.ci.berkeley.ca. us/commissions/disaster 

Energy Commission meets Wed., Sept. 22, 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., Sept. 22, at 6:30 p.m. at 2640 MLK Jr. Way, at Derby. Harvey Turek, 981-5213. www.ci.erkeley.ca. 


Planning Commission meets Wed., Sept. 22, at 7 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center. Ruth Grimes, 981-7481. www.ci.berkeley. ca.us/commissions/planning 

Police Review Commission meets Wed. Sept. 22, at 7:30 p.m. at the South Berkeley Senior Center, Barbara Attard, 981-4950. 

Zoning Adjustments Board meets Thurs., Sept. 23, at 7 p.m., in City Council Chambers. Mark Rhoades, 981-7410. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/commissions/zoning  ª



Whine After the Election, Not Now: By BECKY O'MALLEY

Tuesday September 21, 2004

As our family party was getting underway this weekend, Peter laid down the law: “Okay, no more dumping on Kerry, from now until the election.” For a group like ours, that’s hard, really hard. On almost any political topic, everyone has an opinion or five, even the toddlers. There’s no question of Bush, of course, but as charter members of the chattering classes we all have our own ideas about how to get rid of him. As the election approaches, it’s too easy for the chattering classes to turn into the nattering classes, preparing to say “he should have taken my advice” if Kerry doesn’t win. Yesterday’s New York Times and this week’s Nation were full of scoldings for Kerry and his advisors from all kinds of commentators who think they know how to run political campaigns, despite having spent the better part of their lives as scribblers. They’ve done their scribbling in the best venues, granted, and they’ve managed to make a living giving unsolicited advice, but in the last analysis how do they know what they’re talking about?  

Leon Panetta, who has had some real experience in the trenches with both Republicans and Democrats, came as close as anyone to making sense with his op-ed in the New York Times yesterday: “Pick a Message, Any Message.” That’s a simple, obvious idea, but there’s no indication that Kerry is trying to do anything else. The problem is that the media, even the members of the media who claim to understand what a disaster George W. Bush has been, can’t resist picking everything Kerry does to pieces, so that his message gets lost in the reporting of it.  

He’s making campaign speeches, okay? And these speeches, when you hear them, sound a lot like lots of other speeches, and no voter can be sure from listening to the speeches what Kerry will do if elected. But the point, and it’s not a complicated one, is that we can be absolutely sure what Bush will do as president, because he’s already done it. It seems so unsophisticated, so boring, to say that the reason to vote for Kerry is because he’s not George Bush, but that’s the truth. (And we’re going to leave out, for the purpose of this discussion, the California angle of being able to vote for Leonard Peltier or someone because California is sewed up for Kerry. Such votes are sacramental for the voter, but statistically they have not much to do with politics.) 

There seem to be two main modes of reporting on elections these days: drama critic and sports page. It’s either “how good is his performance” or “who’s ahead in the race?” What the chattering classes who have access to the media can do, if they really want to get rid of Bush, is simply to talk straight about the situation the country is in, rather than critiquing Kerry’s performance on the stump as if it were a recently opened off-Broadway play, or trying to second-guess the electorate by calibrating the polls as if they were batting averages.  

A lot of voters seem to look at elections as if they were sports events, and to view casting their votes as a way of trying to bet on the winner. My mathematician friend tells me that the best report on how such voters are thinking comes from some professors in Iowa who have set up a kind of futures market to predict how well Bush and Kerry are doing. As of Monday, he says that they’re rating Bush as being ahead by the equivalent of one percentage point in the polls, which doesn’t seem like much, but is enough to win if the election were today. But margins like that change, and they could change several times between now and the election. Neither the drama critics nor the sportswriters can really tell anyone anything about how Kerry is doing with odds like these, and they should stop trying. It’s the commentators and the voters who need to stay on message, not the candidate.  

Panetta opined that “Mr. Bush is most vulnerable on two issues—Iraq and the economy. Mr. Kerry needs to confront the president on both, with specific proposals that make clear the stark choices facing voters.” But the voters don’t need Kerry to tell them that Bush has made a colossal mess of Iraq. If they don’t know that by now, they could have heard it last week from Republican Senators Lugar and McCain, among others. And they don’t need Kerry to tell them whether the economy is hitting them in the pocketbook—if it were not doing that, he wouldn’t be able to convince them that it was.  

The Planet is getting many fine letters about the campaign from all over the country. We usually don’t print all of them, because we save our available space for local writers, and because we think they’re preaching to the choir in the Bay Area. But people around here should be sending such letters to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the Miami Herald and the Toledo Blade and all the other papers around the country in swing states. We should be writing and calling our friends and family in those states, and we should be raising money for organizations who are contacting voters in those states on our behalf.  

This is not a complicated or subtle election. We need to stop sitting around in cafes whining about why Kerry isn’t making the case for us. After Kerry is elected there will be plenty of time for whining. And if Bush wins again, whining will not be enough. 



Down At the Alligator’s Ball: By BECKY O'MALLEY

Friday September 17, 2004

A week or so ago the Planet received an invitation to a fundraiser for realtor Laurie Capitelli, who’s running for Berkeley City Council in District 5. It had been re-sealed and re-addressed to us, which seemed odd, and when we opened it a little slip of paper fell out with an anonymous typed note: “The Developers’ Ball? They are urging a vote for their pro-development candidate. Interesting cast of endorsers.” 

As a card-carrying grandmother and former English major, I instantly grasped the literary allusion. Berkeley author Thacher Hurd has a book for the 4 to 8 set which, with wonderful pictures, tells the story of how Miles Possum and his band of little swamp critters are invited to play for the Alligators’ Ball. After the music stops, the alligators are hungry. “What’s for dinner?” says Miles. “Something tender! Something juicy!” says an alligator, holding a menu behind his back that features “Swamp Band Soup.” On the next page, “the alligators snapped their jaws and snapped their lips” as they drag the struggling band members ever closer to a big boiling pot. 

A look at the invitation solidified the reference. The venue was the office of former legislator and now lobbyist and consultant Dion Aroner, with co-hosts Mayor Bates and Assemblywoman Hancock. The other co-hosts were key players in Berkeley’s fat and sassy development industry: Norheim and Yost, commercial real estate brokers; Memar Properties, the new commercial vehicle for former non-profit developer Ali Kashani; Trachtenberg & Associates, architects; Hudson McDonald LLC, the new favored recipient of funding from powerhouse financier David Teece, also a funder of Patrick Kennedy; Miriam Ng, another real estate broker, and Richard Hill and David Early, decision-makers for the Livable Berkeley pro-development lobbying organization. Mm-hmm. Looks like Berkeley’s headed for the soup for sure.  

What’s wrong with this picture? Well, for starters Capitelli is still a member of the Zoning Adjustment Board, where several of these players could be expected to ask approval for project proposals in the near future. If he’s elected to City Council, he will probably be reviewing some decisions on their development projects. It’s not illegal, mind you. A California court decision has established the right of city councilmembers and commissioners to adjudicate cases involving their campaign contributors. But still, it smells fishy. 

The glossy handout in the envelope, listing more supporters, was not reassuring. Capitelli is endorsed by the quartet of developer-friendly planning commissioners who have been roundly criticized by neighborhood groups, Stoloff, Pollack, Perry and Tabb, as well as by an assortment of lesser lights in the development firmament (along with some innocent bystanders). Our anonymous correspondent is right, an interesting cast.  

He is not endorsed by any of the planning commissioners from the faction formerly known as progressive. He is not endorsed, as far I was able to recognize names, by any leaders in the non-factional effort to put some brakes on the no-holds-barred Berkeley building boom which has produced big ugly buildings and vacant storefronts all over town in the last few years.  

All of this does not mean Capitelli is not a nice guy. He is. And the Swamp Band in the book (Mama Don’t Allow, Harper Collins Publishers, soon to be a major musical by Berkeley composer Julie Shearer) does eventually escape the soup by playing one last lullaby which puts the alligators to sleep. But that’s a fable with a happy ending, concocted for kids. In real life politics, a truer tale is that if you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas.  

It’s early days in the City Council race. There’s still time for candidates to make it perfectly clear to voters where they stand on development issues, and other issues too. The Planet is doing our part by offering all of them a sizable hunk of our commentary section in the month of October to make everything perfectly clear. They’ve been invited to submit pieces of 600-800 words by Oct. 1, which will be run in rotation during the month. Readers have their part to play: We’re also going to run a “Questions” column on our letters page for the rest of September. You can submit short questions or challenges for the candidates, which they may or may not choose to answer in their October commentaries. And of course we do sell ads, for candidates who want even more room to explain themselves and list their supporters. 

Even though Capitelli and some of the other candidates look like they’re up to their ears in alligators at this juncture, Berkeley might still escape the soup pot. We’ll see what lullabies would-be councilmembers can come up with before the election.