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Jakob Schiller:  
          The Cal football teams runs drills during practice on Monday evening. Cal, ranked fourth in the nation, faces Stanford on Saturday in the 107th Big Game.…
Jakob Schiller: The Cal football teams runs drills during practice on Monday evening. Cal, ranked fourth in the nation, faces Stanford on Saturday in the 107th Big Game.…


Coach’s Uncertain Future at Cal Compounds Big Game Jitters: By MATTHEW ARTZ

Tuesday November 16, 2004

It’s Big Game week in Berkeley and Bear backers have never had so much reason to revel in their football team’s success or fear for its future. 

As the California Golden Bears head into Saturday’s home game against Stanford, with their first Rose Bowl ap pearance since 1959 potentially in the balance, every pre-game ritual is tempered by concern that if major stadium renovations aren’t hastened the man responsible for revitalizing the program could be pacing another school’s sideline next year. 

Since tak ing the reigns of the UC Berkeley squad in 2002, Jeff Tedford, 42, has turned a 1-10 laughing stock into the fourth ranked team in the nation and has become perhaps the most highly sought after coach in college football. 

And next month Tedford will essentially become a free agent. His contract includes a trigger: If the university fails to begin a stadium renovation project by Dec. 15, any school in the country can buy out the remainder of his deal for $500,000—a trifling sum in the high stakes world of college football. 

UC Berkeley has yet to finalize plans for renovating 81-year old Memorial Stadium. In January, the university announced a $140 million fundraising drive to renovate the dilapidated and seismically unfit facility that sits directly above the Hayward Fault. But fundraising stalled with the resignation announcements of former chancellor Robert Berdahl and former Athletic Director Stephen Gladstone. 

So far the university has $15 million on hand for the project, said Dexter Bailey, the exec utive athletic director of external affairs, who is overseeing the effort. He said the final project could well cost more than the projected $140 million because of surging prices for steel. The university, which isn’t counting on public money for the project, won’t reveal the final concept, which could include luxury boxes, new offices and weight room, as well as seismic repairs, until about half of the funding has been dedicated, Bailey said. 

That leaves Tedford free to jump ship to a school with deep pockets and first class facilities, a prospect the coach shied away from at a Monday press conference to promote the Big Game. “I’m uncomfortable talking about this,” he said. “This week shouldn’t be about me.” 

But at the University of Washington, a traditional football power in the market for a new coach, the Tedford rumor mill keeps swirling. “It would be my guess that Washington would have Tedford on its short list of candidates,” said Dan Riley, who covers the team for the Seattle Post Intelligencer. “The new UW administration has promised to aim high, and there’s no one any better, any closer, than Jeff Tedford.” 

While fans at Sunday’s battle of the Cal and Stanford marching bands, a pre-Big Game tradition, were hoping that Tedford would stay, many feared his days in Berkeley are numbered. 

“Cal football has two traditions,” said Gerald Vellegas, a Cal alumnus. “Losing football games and losing coaches who win football games.” 

Leading up to Saturday’s Big Game, Tedford is 26-12 at Cal. 

Since the departure of legendary head coach Lynn “Pappy” Waldorf after the 1956 season, only two coaches other than Tedford have managed to post winning records at Cal: Mike White, who left in 1978 after six seasons to become an NFL assistant coach with the 49ers, and Bruce Snyder, who bolted for Arizona State after five seasons at Cal, which culminated in a 1991 Citrus Bowl victory. 

Before that triumph, Cal’s previous New Year’s Day bowl game victory came in 1938, its last Rose Bowl win. The Rose Bowl traditionally pits the champions of the PAC 10 conference and the Big 10 conference, which includes traditional powers from the Midwest, against each other. At 46 years, Cal has the longest Rose Bowl drought of any team in either conference. 

Winning football games doesn’t just boost morale around campus, it contributes to the university’s bottom line. Average attendance this season has soared above 64,000, nearly double what the team averaged in 2001, the year before Tedford took charge. When increased merchandising sales, corporate sponsorships and revenue from appearances on national television are included, the football team has generated several million for the athletic department, which still runs a $3 million to $5 million deficit, according to Cal Athletics spokesperson Bob Rose. 

“This is why you invest in a coach like Tedford,” Rose said. “Football is the engine that drives the revenue to fund a 27-sport program.” The added revenue generated by the football team this year has protected several of the unive rsity’s lesser grossing teams from possible cuts, Rose said. 

Aware that boosters are sure to shell out more money to support a winner than a loser, UC Berkeley is planning to pull out all the stops to keep Tedford in town. New Athletic Director Sandy Bar bour indicated the university would be open to granting Tedford a contract extension that would likely include a hefty raise.  

Still, she acknowledged that the university’s facilities would likely be the factor that determines Tedford’s future in Berkele y. “He needs to see progress,” she said. 

Built in 1923, Memorial Stadium is among the most outdated facilities in Division 1 college football and a major liability in consistently recruiting top flight talent. Unlike the homes of PAC 10 rivals, the stadi um has no luxury suites or club seating which generate additional revenue. The weight room, built 21 years ago, is too small to accommodate even half of the squad. 

Barbour added that the university had not determined if the final renovation plan would to add super-bright television quality lights, which residents who live near the stadium on Panoramic Hill have long opposed.  

The city’s power to regulate any future project is unclear, said Planning Director Dan Marks. Generally Berkeley doesn’t have aut hority over university building projects. However the city could argue that a football stadium is not part of the academic mission of UC Berkeley and therefore the project should be subject to city approval, he said. 

No matter what the future of Cal foot ball or Memorial Stadium is, for Bear fans, this season will go down as one of the most exciting. If the Bears defeat Stanford, as they are favored to do, and the University of Southern California (USC) defeats UCLA in two weeks, USC would likely go on to play for the National Championship in the Orange Bowl in Miami. That would leave Cal as the second place team in the PAC 10 to play in the Rose Bowl. 

Although a trip to the Rose Bowl isn’t assured, Sherie Allen, a season ticket holder who was a freshman when Cal last played on New Year’s Day 1959 in Pasadena already has her ticket and hotel reservation. 

“My mother wouldn’t let me go last time,” she said at Sunday’s battle of the bands event. “This year no one is going stop me.” 





Alta Bates Center Threatened With Loss Of Accreditation As Unions Prepare Strike: By RICHARD BRENNEMAN

Tuesday November 16, 2004

Berkeley’s Alta Bates Summit Medical Center faces the potential loss of the accreditation status needed to offer service to Medicare and Medicaid patients, following a scathing report from the Joint Commission of Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO). 

The bad news came at a time when the hospital’s largest union has already voted to strike in December.  

Word of the preliminary survey results was confirmed by a Nov. 8 memo to staff from the hospital’s President and CEO Warren Kirk, who warned that “The surveyors indicated that, unless we can successfully clarify and refute some recommendations, we could be at risk to receive a preliminary denial of accreditation.” 

While participation in JCAHO is voluntarily, the overwhelming majority of American hospitals—some 4,500—participate to win federal authorization to treat seniors and patients receiving other aid programs. 

The JCAHO report is only preliminary, and the hospital will have time to rebut allegations before the final report is approved, most likely during JCAHO’s January meeting, Alta Bates spokesperson Carolyn Kemp said Monday. 

While Kemp said the report highlighted issues the hospital has already targeted for improvement—most notably documentation and the hospital’s emergency room—she said there was nothing unusual in the preliminary notes, which were given to the hospital after commission staffers surveyed the facility during the first week of November. 

“There are probably hundreds of hospitals in the same position,” she said. 

JCAHO spokesperson Charlene Hill said the final report won’t be issued for another four months. 

“The organization will receive a report in about two weeks, and they’ll have another two weeks to appeal and demonstrate they were in compliance when the inspectors were on site,” she said. “When the appeal period closes, JCAHO will determine which of the critiques still stand.” 

The hospital will have four months to demonstrate it is in compliance with the commission’s recommendations for improvement. “Generally speaking, hospitals are able to make the necessary changes” and retain accreditation, Hill said.  

Kirk’s memo to staff used italics to emphasize one point: “We must document 100 percent of what we do 100 percent of the time. We each must be accountable for our own responsibilities and adhere to the policies we have in place.” 

The executive’s memo also said that while the JCAHO document makes it clear “we have significant work to do in identified processes and systems, the patient care, clinical outcomes and compassion that we provide to patients are of the highest standards.” 

JCAHO spokesperson Hill declined to comment on the report. 

Kemp acknowledged that the hospital’s emergency room is inadequate for the number of patients it serves, but said major changes are on the way. 

“It wasn’t designed for the present workload, and we’ve been trying to upgrade for 12 years,” Kemp said. “But we’ve finally received federal and state approval for the upgrade, and we hope to have it finished next year.” 

John Borso, vice president of Local 250 of the Service Employees International Union, which represents most Alta Bates workers except for physicians and registered nurses, says he’s skeptical of the hospital’s claims. 

“We’ve been saying for years that Sutter Health Care,” which owns the hospital, “is primarily motivated by profit. While they’ve made a remarkable financial turnaround in the last couple of years, there are major management problems.” 

Local 250 members have voted to strike in December, he said. SEIU employees in Sutter’s other 11 Northern California hospitals have either voted to strike or are scheduled to hold strike votes. By the end of the week, said Borso, “we expect a strike vote in all 12.” 

Borso said Sutter is the only hospital chain in Northern California that has denied the union’s plans to set aside funding for training employees in new technologies so they can advance in their jobs. 

“The fact is, there are management problems because management is so focused on profit,” Borso said.›

Peralta College District Contends WithDevelopment Questions at Campuses: By J. DOUGLAS ALLEN-TAYLOR

Tuesday November 16, 2004

Land use, and the development of a long range strategic plan to guide it, will likely be one of the major issues facing the new Peralta Community College District Board of Trustees when it convenes in January. 

Four newcomers—Bill Withrow in Area 1, Marc ie Hodge in Area 2, Nicky González Yuen in Area 3, and Cy Gulassa in Area 4—were elected earlier this month to the seven-member board. None of the incumbents in those areas chose to run for re-election. 

“I think land use is going to be very important and a priority issue for the new trustees,” said outgoing Area 3 Trustee Darryl Moore, who was elected to the Berkeley City Council. “As long as we have cuts at the state level to funding at the community colleges, I just think it would behoove the trustees to consider how they can best develop district property to bring in revenue that can help finance the district during these difficult budget processes.” 

But how Peralta’s land should be developed—and even how much land is available for possible developme nt—is a subject of controversy. 

Yuen, a Berkeley resident and a professor at De Anza College, said he’s been told that the Peralta District has in the neighborhood of “70 acres of underutilized land,” mostly at Merritt and Laney colleges. 

“You’ve got ab out 30 acres of overflow parking lot up at Merritt College [in the Oakland hills],” he said. “It’s a completely unused parking lot that’s been asphalted, but it’s old asphalt and there’s weeds growing through it.” 

But Sadiq B. Ikaharo, director For gener al services for the Peralta Community College District, puts that Merritt available land total considerably lower—no more than 10 acres.  

“In Merritt, they have a piece of land with redwood trees that is being utilized by the horticulture department in i ts curriculum program,” Ikaharo said. 

At Laney College, near downtown Oakland, the major controversy surrounds the athletic fields and a student/faculty parking lot that sit at the south end of the campus. The area is divided from the campus by a city-ow ned creek that drains from Lake Merritt to the estuary, ending at the Jack London Aquatic Center. Two years ago, Oakland voters passed bond Measure DD which, in part, allocated money to open up the creek, making the area a potentially lucrative developmen t spot. 

“By virtue of the proximity of Laney to transportation,”—it is within short walking distance of the Lake Merritt BART station as well as near an I-880 offramp—”and very close to the inner city, a lot of interests are there on land that doesn’t ha ve any structure, any building,” said Ikaharo. “We have about four or five proposals, wanting this piece of land. But,” he added, “I don’t think the students and the Board of Trustees would go for that.” 

It is an understatement. In recent years, proposal s—first by Kaiser Permanente and then Children’s Hospital of Oakland—to develop hospital facilities on Laney’s athletic fields have been met with a storm of protest, causing the proposals to be withdrawn. Similarly, an idea to build a new Oakland A’s base ball stadium on the Laney fields went nowhere because of community disapproval. 

“Every time the issue of the development of the athletic fields at Laney gets raised,” said Yuen, “it’s like throwing oil on a fire. You have a history of people within the d istrict not trusting the board to have a fair process, an open process, and one that works for the educational needs of the district. So there’s already a lot of suspicion that goes up.” 

Yuen thinks that rather than looking at the athletic fields, land d evelopment plans on the Laney campus should concentrate on the adjacent parking lots. 

“Those things are ugly, they’re eyesores,” he said. “Now I’m not saying ‘let’s sell off the parking lots.’ What I’m saying is that there isn’t as much emotional attachm ent to that land. And moreover, if you take athletic fields and you develop them, then there won’t be any athletic fields. But if you take a parking lot and put buildings on top of them, you can have a parking lot under it, or over it. You’re not necessar ily taking away the utility of the land for its present purposes.” 

During his campaign, Yuen, in fact, called for a three-year moratorium on consideration of development of the athletic fields at Laney. He said that continues to be his position. 

“If you were going to even consider developing that land, you would want a process that is inclusive,” he said. “You would want a process that took into consideration the long-term land use and financial needs of the district. You’d want it to fit in with the br oader educational plan, coordination among the four campuses, consideration of the student load, and so forth.” 

One of the problems, according to both Yuen, Moore, and district union leaders, is that if the Peralta College District has a district-wide master plan to cover land usage and development, it’s not readily available to the public. 

“I’m told that there is [a master land use plan], but I haven’t seen it,” said Yuen. “And when I talk to people and when I have asked people—and I’ve asked a lot of people what are the specifics of this plan—I never hear anything. If there is one, it’s probably not a very developed plan. I’ve seen a number of other district policies that don’t have enough specificity to them to actually call them a ‘plan.’ So I’ll wi thhold judgment on whether the current land use plan is adequate, because I haven’t seen it.” 

“There may well be [a master land use plan], but I’m not aware of it,” said Michael Mills, president of the Peralta Federation of Teachers, which represents fac ulty members employed by the Peralta Community College District. “If there is one, then it’s been poorly publicized. If there isn’t, then it needs to be done post-haste.” 

Asked if the district had a land use plan, Moore said “That’s a good question.” Moo re said that the district hired a consultant to develop a master land use plan before Ronald Temple retired as Peralta chancellor last year. “But the process was never finished when Temple left.” 

Rather than a full-blown plan, Moore said that the distric t has a land use policy. “I think the gist of it that whatever is developed has to fit within the mission of the Peralta Community Colleges. But there needs to be more strategic long-term planning done with regard to land use.” 

Actually, the district has taken steps to develop a districtwide land-use plan. Last month, with Moore in attendance, the trustees approved a three-year $90,000 contract with IPA Planning Solutions of Oakland “to work in collaboration with district’s staff to provide a complete and comprehensive strategic master plan ... to build its capital land and facilities improvement.” 

And in the end, that may be one of Peralta’s biggest problems: that even when the district responds to criticisms, it doesn’t fully publicize its efforts. 

“There is not a great system of communication within the district,” Yuen said. “Right now, a lot of the ways that ideas are communicated is through rumor and we don’t have a clear-cut process of inclusive decision-making.”?0

Jubilee Grant, Goodbyes on City Council Agenda: By MATTHEW ARTZ

Tuesday November 16, 2004

There will likely be more cake than debate at Tuesday’s City Council meeting. 

With three newly elected councilmembers set to begin their duties at the next meeting on Dec. 7, the council will begin Tuesday evening with festivities for outgoing members Miriam Hawley, Margaret Breland and Maudelle Shirek. 

Hawley and Breland chose to retire and Shirek lost a write-in bid for a ninth term. The council will also say goodbye to City Clerk Sherry Kelly, who is retiring in two weeks. 

When the ceremonies end, the council will consider a proposal from Housing Director Steve Barton to allow troubled affordable housing developer Jubilee Restoration Inc. access to, and greater control over than in past years, an annual $26,000 city grant. 

Last month the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) froze payment on a $121,633-a-year grant for Jubilee’s homeless youth program. An investigation conducted by the federal agency found evidence that Jubilee had engaged in nepotism and misallocated funds, prompting some councilmembers to question Barton’s recommendation to grant the nonprofit city money this year.  

“This doesn’t sound like a good deal,” said Councilmember Gordon Wozniak, who said he would rather reallocate the funding to a different organization. 

The city grant, required by HUD to secure the federal grant money, has previously helped pay for a youth outreach coordinator for Jubilee’s homeless youth drop-in center. Since the youth program director resigned this fall, the outreach worker essentially runs the drop-in center. 

Barton is proposing that Jubilee use the city funds so that it can retain its staff to address the allegations in the HUD report. As a condition to receive the city funding, Jubilee will allow HUD to provide the city with all of its findings, comply with city reporting requirements and use the money only to respond to HUD and maintain its housing development activities. 

Berkeley has not released yet the grant for this year because Jubilee has failed to complete reports documenting its spending of the grant for the prior year. 

In its report, released last month, HUD found that Jubilee had transferred money from HUD accounts to pay for ineligible costs including an office luncheon. Jubilee was supposed to use the HUD grant, which was first issued in 2002, to pay for three full-time homeless youth counselors, but HUD found no evidence that any of the positions were filled until October 2003. 

Also, HUD objected to Jubilee Executive Director Gordon Choyce and his son, Deputy Director Gordon Choyce II, maintaining seats on the board of directors. They have since resigned from the board. Jubilee also employs Charleton Lightfoot, the son of board treasurer Charles Lightfoot, as its adult program coordinator, raising questions of nepotism. 

Jubilee has until Nov. 20 to respond to the charges. 

Already the investigation has jeopardized Jubilee Village, a proposed 110-unit affordable housing development. The council voted last week to delay guaranteeing up to $3 million in HUD sponsored loans for Jubilee to purchase the property at 2612 San Pablo Ave. until Jubilee cleared itself of HUD’s charges. 

Also on the agenda for Tuesday is a proposal for the council to conduct a public hearing on whether to charge for Sunday parking at the Oxford Parking Lot. Last year, the lot averaged $481,633 a week for six days of operation. If Berkeley charged for parking on Sundays, it could generate an additional $62,400 a year, Assistant City Manager for Transportation Peter Hillier wrote in a report.

Board Looks at Quality of School Materials: By J. DOUGLAS ALLEN-TAYLOR

Tuesday November 16, 2004

Teachers, parents, students, and other citizens who think Berkeley classrooms don’t have sufficient textbooks or instructional materials get the chance to put their concerns on the record when the Berkeley Unified School District’s (BUSD) Board of Education holds a public hearing on the matter this week. 

The hearing—which is required by the state Education Code—will be held during the board’s regular public meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 17, 7:30 p.m., on the second floor of the school administration building at Old City Hall. 

This will be the first meeting of the school board since a hotly-contested election earlier this month returned incumbents Joaquin Rivera and John Selawsky to the board. 

On the agenda is first reading of a proposed board member/employee conflict of interest policy. Among other things, the four page document is intended to cover gifts, honoraria, and the awarding of contracts, as well as criteria for when potential conflicts must be disclosed, and when board members are to be disqualified from voting. 

Scheduled for final reading is adoption of the district’s Integrated Policy for Nutrition, Education, Physical Activity and Food, which is intended to promote healthy eating by students while attending Berkeley public schools. 

The board is also scheduled to vote on a replacement for Carolyn Weinberger on the district’s Personnel Commission. The commission has three members, one each appointed by the board, the superintendent, and the Classified Unions. Weinberger was appointed to her position by the superintendent, but her seat on the commission—scheduled to run from December 2004 through December 2007—will be filled by the board. A third commission seat, which runs from December 2003 through December 2006, remains vacant. 


—J. Douglas Allen-Taylorƒ

Hink’s Building Sold to Berkeley Man, Library Gardens Construction Begins: By RICHARD BRENNEMAN

Tuesday November 16, 2004

A major share in one of Berkeley’s most notable buildings, the Hink’s Building at 2200 Shattuck Ave., has been sold, said John DeClerq, senior vice president of TransAction Financial, which had owned the building until early last week. 

DeClerq also presented the city Monday with a check for $1,028,000 to pay building permit fees for Library Gardens, Transaction’s 176-unit apartment complex with five street-level shops, which is replacing the current 362-space Kittredge Street Garage, just west of the central library. 

Excavation for Library Gardens’ single level of underground parking is halfway completed, DeClerq said Monday, with completion scheduled for July 2006. 

Roy Nee, a Berkeley resident for the last five years, purchased two of the three legal entities in the Hinks/Shattuck Hotel complex, bounded by Shattuck and Harold Street to the east and west between Allston Way and Kittredge Street. 

The sale includes the Berkeley Center, the Shattuck Cinema and an adjoining office building at Allston and Harold. The sale does not include the Shattuck Hotel, which is under separate ownership. 

The theater occupies the site that once housed Hink’s Department Store, a fixture of downtown Berkeley for six decades before it closed in the 1980s. Under Transaction’s ownership, the space was turned into a theater complex. 

The purchase also includes the extensive basement space. 

“I was interested in making an investment in downtown Berkeley,” said Nee. “From my perspective, a lot of good things are going on downtown. 

“I’m very interested in the process of how communities transform themselves, and after decades of downtown decline, there has been considerable improvement over the last half-dozen years,” he said. 

Among his immediate plans, Nee plans changes in management and operation and improvement of the theater entrance and other access points. 

In addition to his newest acquisition, Nee has another project in Marin County and he owns the Tea Garden Springs day spa in Mill Valley. 

Legally, his newest acquisition is held by a Delaware corporation which, in turn, is held by a limited partnership. 

The Library Gardens project had been in limbo since the approval of a building permit in February. 

The project generated controversy because of the drastic losses in downtown parking spaces that stemmed from demolition of the Kittredge Street Garage, once the facility for Hink’s customers. 

The final plan as approved by the Zoning Adjustments Board provides 130 spaces, fewer than TransAction had initially promised. DeClerq promised ZAB that significantly more than half the spaces would be reserved for short-term parkers.y


Tuesday November 16, 2004

Two Drivers Robbed, One Shot  

A driver was shot and wounded at 4 a.m. last Wednesday as he was making a delivery in the 2200 block of Sacramento Street, said Officer Okies. 

The driver was approached by a male and female robbery team who demanded cash. The driver was shot in the ensuing confrontation, and was rushed to a local hospital where he is recovering, said Officer Okies. 

In the second incident three hours later, another delivery driver was approached by a male/female robbery team as he was stopped at Tenth Street and University Avenue. 

After collecting the money, the two robbers jumped into a dark-colored import driven by a second woman. 

Officer Okies said police are investigating to see if there is a connection between the two crimes. “We’re also working with other agencies to see if these robberies are connected to others in the area,” he said. 


Police Seek Help for Lost Woman 

Berkeley Police are seeking the public’s help in identifying a woman in her 70s officers found after they were summoned to help a disoriented woman at a bus stop near the corner of Shattuck and University avenues. 

The woman, who stands five feet tall and weighs 110 pounds, had no identification papers and speaks only Korean, said BPD spokesperson Officer Joe Okies. 

A translator brought in by police said the woman’s name may be Oh, Byungae. 

She was unable to offer her address or the names of any friends, but indicated that she may have been born in April, 1925, and may have a son in San Francisco named Sunsoon Im or Lim. 

Anyone with any information on the woman is requested to call Berkeley Police at 981-5900. 


Road Rage Report 

An incident of road rage took a nasty turn on Berkeley Nov. 4, when the driver of an SUV pulled alongside another motorist on Ashby Avenue near the intersection with San Pablo Avenue, said Officer Joe Okies. 

A male occupant of the SUV brandished the firearm. He was accompanied by a woman in the car, said the driver of the other car. No suspects have been identified. 


Strong-Armed Stereo 

Two men entered the Food Town market at 3049 Sacramento St. shortly before 6 p.m. on Nov. 5. They strong-armed a portable radio away from a customer. 


Robbery Trio Busted 

Police arrested a 19-year-old man and two juveniles Nov. 5 for the strongarm robbery of a Berkeley man. The heist occurred about 9:30 p.m., and the victim followed the three suspects and called police, who handcuffed all three and escorted them to cells. 


Another Strongarm 

Police are looking for a man in his mid-20s who strong-armed the cash away from a pedestrian in the 1500 block of Eighth Street shortly before 6 p.m. on Nov. 6. 


Mother Busted 

Police arrested a Berkeley mother after a shopper saw her shoving her three-year-old in the Telegraph Avenue Andronico’s Park & Shop shortly after 6 p.m. on the 6th. The mom was booked on charges of child endangerment and drug intoxication, and the youngster was taken to Child Protective Services, said Officer Okies. 


Fowl Deeds 

A short, heavyset woman, her face hidden behind a mask, claimed to have a gun in her pocket after she entered the Church’s Fried Chicken at 1200 San Pablo Ave. on Nov. 7. When she demanded the contents of the till, the clerk wisely didn’t choose to contest her claim. No arrests have been made. 


BART Robber Busted  

Police arrested an 18-year-old suspect on suspicion of armed robbery after a man was robbed and stabbed at the downtown BART station, said Officer Okies. 

Both the victim and the suspect were standing at the platform when officers arrived shortly after the call. The victim had been robbed of his personal belongings and sustained minor injuries. 


Blockbuster Bust  

Berkeley Police arrested a 26-year-old man in the 2352 Shattuck Ave. Blockbuster Video Friday after a clerk saw him attempting to open DVDs protected by locking devices. 

The suspect was charged with burglary, possession of burglary tools and vandalism.o

3 Fires Damage Apartment, Home: By RICHARD BRENNEMAN

Tuesday November 16, 2004

Three fires caused significant damage to Berkeley residences over last week, reports David Orth, Berkeley Deputy Fire Chief. 

The first fire was reported at 2:16 p.m. Wednesday in the rear storage room of an apartment building at 1600 Hearst Ave. The fire, which took crews an hour-and-a-half to extinguish, caused damage estimated at $25,000. 

The first of Friday’s two blazes was reported at 3:10 a.m. at 2315 Hearst Ave., Orth said. 

When firefighters arrived, they found flames burning in the garage level beneath the structure. Flames penetrated through the garage roof into the floors of apartment units above, causing minor damage there. 

Flames were extinguished by 4:10 a.m., and while the fire was initially listed as an arson, investigators trace the source to a motorcycle parked in the garage, Orth said. 

Damage from the fire was estimated at $25,000. 

The largest of the blazes was reported at 5:37 p.m. Friday in a home at 1434 66th St.  

Oil in an unattended French fryer ignited, causing a blaze that spread from the kitchen to the rear utility room of the single family residence, Orth said. 

By the time the blaze was finally controlled it had caused at estimated $90,000 in damage to the structure, another $45,000 in damage to the contents and forced the two adults and six children living in the home to seek other quarters.

Willie Brown Plays Contrary Roles in Richmond: By RICHARD BRENNEMAN

Tuesday November 16, 2004

One of California’s best-known Democrats has surfaced in leading roles as an advocate in three high-profile Richmond projects. 

Willie L. Brown Jr., most recently San Francisco mayor and before that the powerful California Assembly speaker, has been calling city councilmembers on behalf of ChevronTexaco, the recently spurned suitor for Point Molate. 

That worries Councilmember Tom Butt, the author of Richmond’s municipal lobbying ordinance, which requires anyone lobbying city government to register with the city. 

“There’s a thin loophole for people who are lawyers. If they’re legally representing someone they could conceivably make contact with city staff. But not when they’re contacting councilmembers,” Butt said. 

ChevronTexaco lost its bid to buy Point Molate last Tuesday, when the council awarded the property to Upstream Point Molate, Inc., a firm headed by Berkeley developer James Levine, who previously headed the company conducting the cleanup operations at Campus Bay. 

Brown entered the Campus Bay picture as the representative of Cherokee Investment Partners, a multinational venture capital firm specializing in so-called “brownfields” investments, projects built on restored contaminated land. The firm is bankrolling a plan to build a 1,330-unit housing complex directly above 350,000 cubic yards of buried hazardous waste and contaminated soil. 

Cherokee’s partner in the project is Simeon Properties, a Marin County development company with extensive holdings in Western states. Their lobbyist/lawyer for the project is Margaret Rosegay, a partner in Pillsbury, Winthrop of San Francisco. Rosegay also represents ChevronTexaco, according to lobbyist records on file with the California Secretary of State’s office. Brown is not registered as a lobbyist with that office, either. 

As the battle over Campus Bay heated up in recent weeks, Brown entered the fray on behalf of Cherokee Investment Partners in their negotiations with Bay Area Residents for Responsible Development, a group which has been fighting the conduct of ongoing restoration efforts at the site. 

Brown’s appearance as an anti-casino advocate in opposing Levine’s Point Molate plan is a significant career departure. He tells the story often of his first job in San Francisco as a spotter for an illegal casino, sitting in an alley with a button within reach he would push if he saw police headed his way, tipping the gamblers inside to the impending raid. 

Soon after he was named Assembly speaker in 1980, Brown was hired by gambling interests pushing for gambling in Atlantic City. Brown talked to New Jersey city’s African American population, promising new housing and high paying jobs should the casino measure pass. 

When the measure carried, much of Atlantic City’s housing was leveled, and most of the African American workers hired by the casinos were bused in from Philadelphia, a story documented in the late Ovid Demaris’s The Boardwalk Jungle. Brown’s role was documented by Sacramento Bee political columnist Dan Walters, both contemporaneously and later for the 1998 Frontline gambling documentary “Easy Money.” 

Not that the man who once proclaimed himself “the Ayatollah of the Assembly” and later “Da Mayor” has become an ardent gambling foe. 

Earlier this year, Brown has surfaced as a lobbyist for BarWest LLC, which is developing plans for a casino in the Barstow area with the Los Coyotes Band of the Cahuilla and Cupeo peoples. 

The casino plan is being floated by Marina Ilitch, who with her spouse owns the Little Caesars Enterprises (Little Caesars Pizza), the Detroit Redwings hockey team and a quarter-interest in the Motor City Casino in Detroit.  

Other lobbyists hired by Ilitch to boost the Southern California casino proposal include Michael Rossetti, former senior legal counsel and chief tribal gaming expert to Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton (whose agency has the final say on authorizing the tribe to claim the site as a reservation), and former Missouri Congressional Rep. Alan Wheat. 

Rossetti left his federal job in February to join a law firm representing, among other clients, the Seneca Nation, whose casino plans he had steered through the Department of the Interior. Two months later he was representing the Los Coyotes Band in their Barstow effort along with Brown. 

One explanation for Brown’s role concerns another Richmond casino project he’s been hired to represent. The deal with Levine and Upstream that the Richmond City Council approved includes an exclusivity clause, barring the city from allowing another casino within its jurisdiction. 

Brown has also been retained by the Virginia-based Mills Corporation, which is floating plans for a casino at Richmond’s Hilltop Mall, a property in which they hold a half-interest. 

According to published accounts, Mills executives donated to Brown’s San Francisco mayoral campaign and, as mayor, Brown helped the firm move toward approval with their plans to develop 23 acres of choice waterfront property in San Francisco, including Piers 27-31. The plan has drawn considerable criticism and has yet to win final approval. 

Butt said Brown has a political relationship with Mayor Irma Anderson and was the guest of honor at a fundraiser for Councilmember Nathaniel Bates. 

“We know he had contacts with two or three councilmembers, and he says he was just asking about the statues of Point Molate, which wouldn’t count as lobbying,” Butt said of Brown’s calls to councilmembers prior to the vote last week.

Letters to the Editor

Tuesday November 16, 2004


Editors, Daily Planet: 

I learned so much about myself that I did not know from reading Steve Tabor’s Oct. 29 letter in response to mine criticizing Ralph Nader. Mr. Tabor must have gotten his information via telepathy since he doesn’t know me. His frequency seems a little off, however. 

I learned, for instance, that I am a “former” anti-war activist, and that (although I did not mention John Kerry), that “Brechin and his boys are stumping for Kerry so they can get positions in the new Kerry administration.” Furthermore, I discovered that George Soros has paid me $16 million to shill for the senator. I confess that John and Theresa promised my boys and me top positions in the Pentagon if I would just destroy Nader’s reputation in the Daily Planet; George has assured me that even though our man lost, the check’s still in the mail. I need it to continue my chemtrail experiments. 

Please print prominently the legal definition and penalties for libel; it might just curb such ad hominem crap and marginally improve the quality of discourse around here. 

Gray Brechin 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

We would like to thank the Berkeley voters for their support of Measure B, which is a generous and necessary community solution to the state’s poor funding of schools. These local revenues will reduce class sizes, staff school libraries, support music education, and provide professional development, program evaluation and parent/community outreach. 

Wonderful things happen in our Berkeley schools. But each year the funding is tighter and doesn’t go as far, resulting in cutbacks or unfilled needs that are disheartening to us as educators. Next year we can look forward to some positive improvements because of Measure B, such as smaller class sizes, which make teaching and learning better—thank you! 

Compelling and long-term research results show a direct correlation between student achievement and good library programs, but California ranks dead last in the nation in library funding, behind the other 49 states and the District of Columbia. The state’s failure to recognize this pressing need, and fund it, is part of the achievement gap that will not go away unless we tackle it locally. Measure B will help do this—thank you!  

Music education, professional development and community outreach are essential components of an effective education system. Again, these are real needs that are barely considered in State funding decisions. Berkeley has affirmed public education by approving Measure B—and we are grateful to you! 

King Middle School Faculty  




Editors, Daily Planet: 

As one of the diverse supporters of Measure H (to provide full public funding of campaigns) I too was surprised by its rejection by Berkeley voters who in doing so, apparently allowed fear of public expense block the path to more efficient, voter responsive government. While, as your Nov. 12 editorial pointed out, it is possible to reach voters through the Internet without great expenditure, candidates with money will still beat those without, and public financing eliminates money wars by creating an even playing field at nominal cost which in states where it has been adopted has largely eliminated the corrupting influence of special interest money from politics. I say better our money, contributing small amounts together, than theirs. Hopefully more will agree the next time around. 

Tom Miller 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The Nov. 12 Daily Planet article “Developer Wins Pact to Build Point Molate Casino” states: 

“However, the City Council’s approval of the Point Molate casino indicate that development on Richmond open land such as Breuner Marsh is definitely possible—especially if it brings jobs. Activists against development do have two points going for them that Point Molate did not—first, the Breuner property, is close to residential areas such as Parchester, and secondly, the Breuner site has a history of development deals being shot down by community pressure.” 

The areas slated for development at Point Molate are not open space, they consist of an existing historic district with dozens of buildings on the National Register of Historic Places and “brownfield” areas previously occupied by Navy facilities. 

This is an important distinction. Breuner Marsh has never been occupied by structures, and it is not a brownfield site. 

Tom Butt 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Rent control in Berkeley was not a major issue in the election. However as a residential landlord I am distressed by the cost of maintaining the program as well by the city’s allowing to continue a pathetic waste of money, over $2 million a year. 

To clear my position my opposition is not based on the cost to me as an individual. The cost has two elements, the rents received and the yearly registration fees. Current rents are market rents and for new tenants rent control is no factor. For existing tenants there would be increases or decreases depending on when the tenancy began and certain factors such as age, income, and their relationship with the owner. The registration fees are strictly out of pocket and in my case amounted to $2,448 for 2003. I would be happy to pay or donate this amount to a project or program that would be beneficial to the community. 

The necessity for Berkeley Rent Control certainly now is a thing of the past even assuming it was valid to start with. Not only is there no shortage of units in Berkeley but there probably is a surplus. There is a free market with tenants able to choose the best value. The combination of new apartments both by the university and the private sector along with decreased demand due to the economic downturn account for the availability. 

I wonder if the proponents of Berkeley Rent Control will ever concede that the time has come for the death and burial of the ordinance. Liberal economist Paul Krugman in an article June 7, 2000 for the New York Times writes in part: The analysis of rent control is among the best-understood issue in all of economics, and—among economists, anyway—one of the least controversial. In 1992 a poll of the American Economic Association found 93 percent of its members agreeing that “a ceiling on rents reduces the quality and quantity of housing.” 

The funds spent on maintaining the Rent Board should be used for necessary purposes and not to continue a useless bureaucracy. 

Sig Cohn 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I was stunned to read in the Planet recently the amount of money ($50,000) our city (with a huge deficit) spends on lockers to “protect” the belongings of the homeless. Furthermore that our city manager has decided that we are legally obligated to do so. Why? Because it is lost property. It is not “lost,” it is abandoned. Homeless camps abound in our west Berkeley neighborhood. Along the railroad tracks, Fourth Street and Camelia, abandoned carts and trash are everywhere. Homeless who are lucky enough to live in dilapidated RVs and cars park bumper to bumper in our neighborhood along Camelia Street. When it storms, their trash fills the storm drains resulting in our homes and businesses flooding. We clean it up again and again.  

The city continues to ignore our pleas for help in this endless clean up campaign. And now we must have lockers to store their belongings? In the spirit of Berkeley’s continued support system for the homeless, I suggest the lockers be placed along the RR tracks so that the homeless may find them more convenient to where they live and if they actually use them, it may help with our existing, never ending trash problem. How about latrines too?  

Sandy Simon  




Editors, Daily Planet: 

This spring the El Cerrito City Council announced a plan to give Measure C money to a private developer to build a 500-car garage, 100 condos and a day care center. The project was to occupy the three-acre area in the southeast corner of the El Cerrito Plaza. We citizens waited for an environmental impact report (EIR) to be published so that we could respond to the proposal cogently. Initially the EIR was supposed to be available in August; in early November it finally was published. Within a few days, the developer at a public meeting announced that the project had changed and no longer was the one described in the EIR. Good golly, Miss Mollie, who’s on first? 

Mary Milton  

El Cerrito  



Editors, Daily Planet: 

During the first week of closing the fire truck at Berkeley and Shattuck from 1800 to 0800 hours, Berkeley’s only truck responded on 12 calls that included two working fires, one big rig accident on the freeway, and seven fire alarms. All of these calls were north of University Avenue. 

Last year, fire administrators proposed closing down a fire truck during the day, because there was more of a potential for rescues at night. This year, several civic leaders supported closing a fire truck at night, because it was during the “winter time.” The night time closure was supported by fire administrators so they could accrue savings faster.  

Berkeley Fire Fighters 1227 have been in negotiations over the truck closures, but the city administrators will not put in writing that the truck will be restored when $300,000 in salary savings is met.  

Fortunately, no one was injured in the structure fires last week, but the decision makers are gambling with this city’s safety. It’s a matter of the roll of dice until a resident or firefighter gets injured or killed from extended response times because someone approved to reduce the fire department’s rescue capability by fifty percent and reduce the on-duty firefighting force by 10 percent. 

Some accused the firefighters union of not being team players, which is why the city is shutting down the truck at night. It needs to be pointed out that the firefighters took zero percent raises in 2001 and 2002. The firefighters (as well as the police officers) pay nine percent towards their retirement costs and have been doing so since 1993. Public safety employees remain the only employee groups who pay the employee contribution. The firefighters offered to defer three percent of the current salary in exchange for a modest increase in 2006. The proposal would have cost the city two percent less than all the other bargaining groups raises for 2006.  

Berkeley Firefighters supported Measure M, because we believe that the fire department cannot endure further reductions without affecting life safety. The voters have spoken, but we believe the same voters do not want fire department reductions that affect emergency response. We are dialing 9-1-1 for the citizens groups to speak against shutting down fire department companies, because your safety matters. 

Call or e-mail Mayor Bates and your city councilmember today and tell them to restore the truck before someone gets injured or killed.  

Marc Mestrovich 

President, BFFA Local 1227 




Editors, Daily Planet 

We are many, young and middle-aged, middle-income, who want to own property in Berkeley. New buildings, may have filled the need for the rental market but not for the ownership market. Planning Director Dan Marks’ comments leave me despondent at the lack of leadership in this town. He should lead the way calling for infill development that would provide this type of housing. Economics and supply and demand should dictate the height, scope and nature of these projects not neighborhood NIMBYs.. 

City planners should be one step ahead of the developers, not dragging them back from behind. It is so easy to criticize those who build and design. If we stopped fighting our developers and started leading and inspiring them they might have more money left over to build inspired buildings with wonderful amenities. Imagine a building owned by middle class residents (who could otherwise not afford to own), with communal amenities such as lap pool, roof garden, roof top entertainment lounge/reading room, and communal vehicular /parking facilities. Such a building, say on University Avenue, would benefit 20 or 30 middle class residents, at an inconvenience to two neighboring home owners. Owning a property so close to our major thoroughfares is exactly what one should expect when buying those properties. Our major thoroughfares, Shattuck and University avenues, are littered with, poorly designed and placed eyesore structures. 

Those like Dan Marks, who can’t see a need for housing, ought to get up early one morning and drive to Tracy, Sacramento or Santa Rosa and see what people are doing for housing and how long they spend commuting everyday to Bay area jobs, many of which are right here in Berkeley! 

P. Levitt 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

In your Nov. 5 story about the election day “debacle” at the YWCA polling station, I wish you had delved more deeply into why the Registrar of Voters continues to use poll workers whose behavior shows they shouldn’t be serving in that capacity. 

When I called the Registrar of Voters earlier this fall, a county official told me each worker is expected to show up for work at 6 a.m. on election day, and not to leave until 9:30 p.m. that evening. As Edith Hallberg pointed out in that same issue of the Planet, that is one long work day, especially for those of us who have daily parenting responsibilities. If Alameda County provided shorter election-day shifts, they would probably have little trouble filling those posts and could weed out badly-behaving poll workers. 

Scott Mace 





A First-Hand Account Of 1957: By SUSAN PARKER

Tuesday November 16, 2004

In Anne Galjour’s Character Building Workshop at San Francisco State University, we were assigned to read Fences by August Wilson. In preparation for class discussion we researched pop culture, circa 1957, the year in which the play is set. For most of my fellow students, this was like studying ancient history. Even Ms. Gajour, a lively, talented playwright and instructor, doesn’t remember 1957. But I do. I was born in 1952 so I didn’t have to look the decade up on the Internet. I thought I deserved extra credit. 

In 1957 my father had a full head of hair and he drove a Cadillac Eldorado, which had only modest-sized fins. I was in my second year at Mrs. Turner’s pre-school. Mrs. Fox picked me up for school every morning in her yellow Chevrolet. The back of her car was soft and velvety. Squeezed between Patty Willis, Diane Eberley, Donna Hambrecht, Ralph Leeds, Timmy Sellen, and Cheryl Fury, we all hung onto a strap that ran across the backseat. There were no seatbelts. As I recall, Mrs. Fox turned around in our dirt driveway fast, and headed, like a bat out of hell, up the hill for Mrs. Turner’s.  

I used to sing along with Dinah Shore, “See the U.S.A. in your Chevrolet”, and think of Mrs. Fox.  

I wore little red leather oxfords and plaid dresses. It would be another 13 years before I would be allowed to wear pants to school. I was a happy, optimistic child. I didn’t develop a bad attitude until sometime later.  

In 1957 decent men like my daddy wore t-shirts under a button-down, collared shirt or sweater. Back then they were called undershirts and they were supposed to be hidden. My mother had her hair rolled, teased, sprayed and lacquered every week at the beauty parlor, my grandmother smoked cigarettes using a long, thin holder, my grandfather could still beat everyone he knew in tennis, and then drink them under the table afterwards. 

I remember getting polio vaccines and tuberculosis inoculations, going to the dentist and receiving nova cane, memorizing The Cat in the Hat, and watching The Mickey Mouse Club on our black and white TV with its rabbit ear antenna. Annette Funicello was my hero.  

My brother Danny was three and my brother Billy was one. They wore cloth diapers and they were often trapped inside a wooden playpen in the middle of the braided rug in the living room. Ten years later that rug would be replaced by a beautiful orange, (flecked with green), shag carpet. Eisenhower was president, the Cold War hadn’t yet started; a few more years would pass before I began worrying about Khrushchev and the Russians coming to get me. Nobody took anti-depressants, but all the adults I knew drank martinis and it made them very happy. My dad used to give me the olive out of his drink.  

In 1957 I went to a movie theater for the first time. I saw Old Yeller and it made me cry. On Saturdays I wore Gene Autry cowboy boots and watched Sally Starr and Chief Halftown on TV, local Philadelphia celebrities. I also watched Captain Kangaroo and Wagon Train. I ate cheese steaks and tuna casseroles, Jell-O and canned fruit cocktail. I had a special fondness for butterscotch TastyCakes.  

On January 1, 1957, my grandfather took Danny and me to see the Mummers Day Parade in downtown Philadelphia. A native of south Philly, Grandpop dragged us to the after- pageant celebration, a rowdy, drunken version of the earlier, more sedate procession. Grandpop ducked into a corner bar and left my brother and me outside in the cold, among the revelers. Men in blackface carried signs of protest against Arlen Specter who, as Philadelphia’s young, brash District Attorney, had banned the practice. I remember being scared. Even now I have to wonder what kind of grandpa would leave two little kids on a city corner in the midst of a semi-riot, while he drank beer with his buddies. It’s a wonder I turned out to be as normal as I am. For actually surviving the Fifties, as opposed to just researching them, I think Ms. Gajour should give me an A. 


Anne Galjour’s Okra will appear this spring at the Southern Repertory Theatre in New Orleans. She is working on a new play, Stars at Night, with David Dower of Z Space Studio and David Cale. k

We’re Still Waiting for the Berkeley Results: By HENRY NORR

Tuesday November 16, 2004

The Daily Planet’s Nov. 5 story on the problem of uncounted ballots (“Thousands of Ballots Still to Be Counted”) didn’t tell the half of it—or probably even a quarter of it. 

The reality is that not “several” but many thousands of Berkeley ballots—possibly a third or more of all ballots cast in the city—weren’t included in the results released on election night and reported in the media. 

In fact, two weeks after the election, an unknown but clearly substantial percentage of Berkeley voters still haven’t had their votes counted. And that group includes many more than the 5,000 students and others who had to cast provisional ballots because they registered at the last minute and therefore weren’t included on the voter rolls. 

Take the south Berkeley precinct where I was inspector (poll worker in charge) on election day. By the end of the day, the six electronic voting machines there had recorded, if I remember correctly, 377 votes in all. But we also collected an astonishing 301 provisional ballots, plus about 80 absentee ballots. 

In other words, just about half of those who voted in that precinct that day cast their votes on paper, and none of those votes were included in the results announced election night. By now the Registrar of Voters’ office should have posted updated county totals that include virtually all the absentee ballots, but as of the end of last week, provisional ballots still hadn’t been counted, according to Assistant Registrar Elaine Ginnold. 

The 301 provisional ballots cast at my precinct represented several categories of voters. Some came from the group the Planet story focused on: those who registered close to the deadline. Others were from voters who said they had registered early but whose names were still missing from the rolls. (Many of these people said they had registered at the DMV—evidently there are major glitches in the “Motor Voter” system.) Still others were voters who were required to cast provisional ballots because they were voting outside their home precinct. (Within Alameda County, registered voters can vote in any precinct, but if you choose to vote at a polling place other than the one where you’re registered, you have to use a provisional ballot; if you vote in a different city, you don’t get to vote for measures and officials specific to your hometown.) 


Paper or plastic? 

By far the largest group of provisional ballots, however, came from voters who were on the precinct rolls and could have used the touchscreen machines, but chose instead to request a paper ballot. They were taking advantage of an option mandated last spring by Secretary of State Kevin Shelley after computer scientists and others raised serious questions about the security of paperless voting machines—and after the manufacturer of Alameda County’s machines, Diebold, was found to have flagrantly violated state procedures. 

It’s water under the bridge now, but I think it’s an outrage that Registrar of Voters Brad Clark turned to provisional ballots to comply with Shelley’s order—and that Shelley’s office accepted this solution. Provisional ballots are for voters whose status is in question. Duly registered voters opting for paper should have been given a non-provisional ballot to mark and deposit in a ballot box. 

That approach would have had at least two advantages: First, voters choosing paper wouldn’t have had to give up their right to a secret ballot. (Provisional and absentee ballots are not really secret, since you have to sign the envelope.) Second, such ballots could have been counted immediately with optical scanners, the way a majority of jurisdictions around the state and nation did it, and we could have had much more complete results on election night. 

Looking Ahead 

If all goes according to plan, voters who insist on verifiable paper ballots won’t have to settle for second-class citizenship next time. Before the 2006 primaries, according to regulations issued by Secretary of State Shelley and a law passed by the legislature and signed by Gov. Schwarzenegger, Alameda and other counties that use touchscreens will have to retrofit their machines so they generate a voter-verifiable paper ballot. At that point, it seems, we’ll no longer have the option of requesting a simple paper ballot—everyone (except absentee voters and those required to cast provisional ballots because their status is unclear) will have to use the machines. 

If that’s the case, I hope the county is budgeting to buy a lot more machines, or planning to do a lot more than it did this year to encourage absentee and early voting. In the precinct where I worked, all six machines were in use almost constantly from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Nov. 2, even though about half our voters didn’t use them If we’d had to accommodate all those voters on six machines, the lines would have stretched for blocks and we’d have had to keep the polls open until 3 or 4 in the morning. 


Henry Norr is is the San Francisco Chronicle’s loss and Berkeley’s gain.?

Morgan Shapes Symphony into East Bay Cultural Force: By IRA STEINGROOT

Special to the Planet
Tuesday November 16, 2004

In 1982, the Oakland Symphony seemed to be going in a promising direction. Under the baton of Calvin Simmons, the orchestra began to look like a world class aggregation, or at the least, a top regional orchestra, especially after it made the newly restored Paramount Theater its home base. 

The art deco classic had been reduced to a shell of its former glory when the Oakland Symphony Orchestra purchased it in 1972. After restoration was completed in 1973, the theater was entered in the National Register of Historic Places and two years later, the City of Oakland took over ownership from the symphony. But 1982 was the year tragedy struck. Simmons, that rara avis, a promising African-American conductor in the world of classical music, drowned in a canoeing accident and the orchestra went into a tail spin. 

Six years later it was reborn, phoenix-like, out of the ashes of the former organization, as the Oakland East Bay Symphony. Two years after that, 25-year-old conductor Michael Morgan took over at the helm and the orchestra started moving in the right direction, not only as an important performer of classical music from all eras, but also as a major cultural force in the East Bay. At first, the new organization performed at the Calvin Simmons Theater, but they finally returned to the larger Paramount for the 1995-96 season. Much of the success of the group is the result of Morgan’s clear sense of how he and the symphony are linked to the community. 

The 2004-2005 season marks Morgan’s 15th year with OEBS. During his tenure he has conducted exemplary performances of both old war horses and contemporary works, some commissioned especially for the orchestra. Non-classical listeners often wonder if the conductors of classical orchestras do any more than keep the time. Indeed, they do. The conductor is not a human metronome, but the auteur of a musical performance, rehearsing, guiding, shaping and inspiring the final result. If you were lucky enough to see Morgan’s 1999 live televised performance of Mozart’s Tenth Piano Concerto for two pianos, you know how magnificent, energizing, fresh and entertaining his conducting can be. 

His greatness is not restricted to the podium though. Morgan, who had been an assistant to Leonard Slatkin at the St. Louis Symphony and Georg Solti at the Chicago Symphony, avoids an easy national reputation as the first choice guest conductor for Black History Month-type concerts. Instead, and more authentically, he and members of the orchestra visit local schools to talk, instruct and perform for thousands of children of all ages each year. 

He wants to make classical music available to young people of whatever background, both as fans and performers. Besides their regular season performances at the Paramount, the OEBS performs at churches, senior centers and community events, as well as a regular concert series in Richmond. The orchestra collaborates with local museum, opera, choral, ballet, and theater organizations on mutually interesting projects, as well. Morgan himself also conducts the San Francisco Symphony’s family concerts, is music director of Walnut Creek’s Festival Opera and substitutes for Denis de Coteau with the San Francisco Ballet. 

This seasons six concerts promise some great performances:  

The season kicks off on Friday, Nov. 19 with the West Coast Premiere of Nathaniel Stookey’s 2001 piece Big Bang; Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3 featuring Shanghai-born pianist Tian Ying; and Brahms Symphony No. 1 in C Minor. 

On Jan. 21 the OEBS presents a mostly Mozart evening with three masterpieces from the summer of 1788: the powerful, modernistic Adagio and Fugue for Strings; and two of his last three symphonies, No. 39 in E Flat Major and No. 40 in G Minor. With a nod to the present, the concert will also feature the West Coast premiere of Chen Yi’s accessible Romance and Dance for Two Violins and String Orchestra featuring OEBS co-concertmasters Terrie Baune and Dawn Harms.  

The Feb. 25 concert will present bluegrass violinist Kenji Bunch’s just completed Lichtenstein Triptych, especially commissioned for the OEBS; Beet-hoven’s Symphony No. 8 in F Major; and Mahler’s Lieder aus Des Knaben Wunderhorn featuring Layna Chianakas, mezzo-soprano, and Brian Leerhuber, baritone. Mahler insinuated these songs from the Young Boy’s Magic Horn into much of his later work.  

The accent is on youth at the March 18 concert. Along with Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings conducted by assistant conductor Bryan Nies; Verdi’s Overture to I Vespri Siciliani; and Emmanuel Chabrier’s España with students from the Oakland Youth Orchestra sitting in with the OEBS; there will be a world premiere of Hector Armienta’s When Waters Meet featuring young poets selected by California Poets in the Schools. 

The April 22 concert’s focus is on film with performances of Bernard Herrmann’s 1960 Suite from Psycho; Strauss’ Also Sprach Zarathustra used in 2001: A Space Odyssey; Brian Nies conducting Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite featured in Fantasia 2000; and the world premiere of Laurence Rosenthal’s Suite from Becket based on his score for the 1964 film of the same name. 

The final concert of the season, on May 20, will be given over to Leonard Bernstein’s ambitious Mass: A Theater Piece for Singers, Players and Dancers and will utilize the talents of the Oakland Symphony Chorus under the direction of Magen Solomon; the Piedmont Choirs under the direction of Robert Geary; acclaimed performer and Bernstein favorite Douglas Webster as celebrant; and many local jazz and rock musicians, singers and dancers. It was commissioned by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis to inaugurate the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C. in 1971 and it has been a dream of Morgan’s, who first worked with Bernstein at Tanglewood, to conduct this piece here since he arrived in Oakland 15 years ago. 

All six of this season’s Oakland East Bay Symphony concerts are on Fridays at 8 p.m. at the Paramount Theater, 2025 Broadway, Oakland. For information call 444-0801. 


Chinese Pistache Adds Autumn Hues To Berkeley Streets: By RON SULLIVAN

Special to the Planet
Tuesday November 16, 2004

We’re getting some domestic fall color lately from a couple of tree species on the streets of Berkeley. One of the brightest is a relative newcomer here, Chinese pistache, Pistacia chinensis. 

You can tell it’s a recent arrival because none of the street specimens here is mature. As with a lot of street trees, of course, there’s a chance they never will get old enough to show us their full potential; a street tree’s life is typically nasty, brutish, and short and so, alas, are entirely too many street tr ees. That’s a particular pity with this species because it’s sometimes called “the ugly duckling”: It’s gangly and awkward in its youth, all elbows and weird angles and often quite asymmetrical. It reaches its best form only after it reaches its modest full size, when it turns into a graceful vase-shaped or round-topped tree. 

Even in its kinky youth, though, it shows us why people plant it in cities when autumn gives it a nudge toward color. In mild climates like ours, without a color-defining cold snap in October, Chinese pistache still glows with an unpredictable variety of deep crimsons, blazing scarlets, and clarion yellows from amber to canary—sometimes on the same tree. Since there’s a lot of unpredictable color variation among individuals as well as differences in how early each one decides to blaze up, we get a long, multi-note salute from a modest row of trees. 

There are plantings a couple of blocks long scattered around the Berkeley flatlands, for example on Gilman Street northwest of Hopkins (next to a set of jacarandas—someone up there likes color) and on Sacramento near University, in the median strip. They’re certainly easy to find right now, when few trees other than sweetgum rival their gaudiness. From a distance, you can sort them out by their skinny, often flat-topped form; up close, by their finely compound, feathery leaves. 

Some of them bear fruit, too, though it doesn’t look like much. Only some, because this is a dioecious tree, with female and male organs on separate plants. The fruits aren’t big and I don’t see that they make a huge “litter” problem on sidewalks, so I hope we don’t get too much pressure to breed male-only clones as we have with some city tree species like mulberry. Some of us have all the airborne tree pollen we need, thanks. The rest of you, don’t be too smug; people get surprised by new allergies well into old age. 

Chinese pistache is a recent darling in urban landscapes for several reasons. It’s drought-tolerant, certainly a good thing here. It’s heat-tolerant, which is useful even in a relatively cool climate because streets and sidewalks and concrete structures reflect and radiate lots of heat. Cities are typically a few degrees hotter than their rural surroundings, and streets are hotter than the cities’ averages. The “asphalt jungle” is more a desert in many ways. 

I’ve seen conflicting opinions about whether the species needs good drainage; I suppose Berkeley, with our clay soils, is a test lab for that. It’s supposed to tolerate smog well. It grows fairly fast, but is usually described as only a moderate-sized tree, to maybe 30 feet. (I’ve seen it called a 60-foot tree too, which might depend on where it’s growing.) I read that it’s “naturalized” in Texas and the Southeast, which means it’s gone feral there, so we do have to think about whether it might become invasive if we plant it near wildland margins here. 

Yes, it’s related to the pistachio tree, Pistacia vera, that gives us those nice thin-hulled nuts. Pistachio growers sometimes use it for root stock, grafting the nut-bearing species onto it. P. chinensis’ native range is farther east than its cousin, in east Asia and by some accounts the Philippines. Both are related to the various Rhus species, the sumacs, and all are in the family Anacardiaceae along with cashews and mangoes—and poison oak. 

Chinese pistache’s little clustered nuts, which start out green or red and turn red or dark blue about now, are supposed to be good wildlife chow; I’d be interested in hearing if anyone has seen birds or squirrels eating them. 


Berkeley This Week

Tuesday November 16, 2004


Morning Bird Walk at the Albany Bulb Meet at 7:30 a.m. at the end of Buchanan St. 525-2233. 

Return of the Over-the-Hills Gang Hikers 55 years and older who are interested in nature study, history, fitness, and fun are invited to join us on a series of monthly excursions exploring our Regional Parks. Meet at 10 a.m. in Redwood Park at the Canyon Meadow staging area to visit this historic grove of second-growth redwoods. Registration required. 525-2233. 

Berkeley Garden Club “Don’t Plant a Pest,” a talk by Doug Johnson, Executive Director California Invasive Plant Council. Meeting at 1 p.m., program at 2 p.m. at Epworth Methodist Church, 1953 Hopkins St. Cost is $2 for guests. 524-4374. 

“Until When...” screening of film of four Palestinian refugee families set in the current Intifada, at 7 p.m., followed by discussion, at Grand Lake Neighborhood Center, 530 Lake Park Ave. Suggested donation $1. Sponsored by East Bay Community against the War. www.ebcaw.org 

“The American Jewish Quest for Peace” with Susannah Heschel, Chair, Jewish Studies Program, Dartmouth, at 7 p.m. in the Dinner Boardroom at the GTU, 2400 Ridge Rd. 649-2482. 

Berkeley Salon Discussion Group meets to discuss “How you can be poor and live with style” from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Berkeley Richmond Jewish Community Center, 1414 Walnut St. Please bring snacks and soft drinks to share. No peanuts please. 601-6690. 

Life Line Screening for Stroke at the Northbrae Community Church, 941 The Alameda. To schedule an appointment call 1-800-697-9721. 

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

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

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


Berkeley Communicators Toastmasters meets the first and third Wednesdays of the month at 7:15 a.m. at Au Cocolait, 200 University Ave. at Milvia. For information call Robert Flammia 524-3765. 

“Getting Our Message Heard or Not Just Preaching to the Choir” with Pam Morgan of George Lakoff’s Rockridge Institute at 7 p.m. at the Gray Panthers, 1403 Addison St. 548-9696. 

“Remembering the Vietman Era” with Country Joe McDonald, Aurora Levins-Morales, Rafael Jesús González at 7:30 p.m. at the Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School Auditorium, Rose and Grant Sts. 981-2582. 

“Global Warming: The Effects and Preventative Measures” A panel discussion on the scientific, economic and societal aspects of this important environmental issue at 6 p.m. at the Free Speech Movement Café, 212 Doe Memorial Library, UC Campus. 

Bay Trail History Markers in Richmond The City of Richmond will dedicate eight new sculptural markers tracing WWII history along the path of the Richmond Bay Trail at 11 a.m. at Lucretia Edwards Park, at the foot of Marina Way South. In case of rain, ceremony will be in the Marina Harbormaster’s Bldg, 1340 Marina Way South. 307-8150. 

Venture Crew for Teens Outdoor adventure program including scuba diving, backpacking, orienteering, hiking. Open House at 7 p.m. at Epworth United Methodist Church, 1953 Hopkins St. For more information call 525-6058.  

“Naturally Native” a documentary on Native American women at 7 p.m. at Humanist Hall, 390 27th St., Oakland. Free, donations accepted. 452-1235. 

“Off the Bench and Into the Game: Democracy Isn’t a Spectator Sport” lecture by Rebecca W. Rimel, President & CEO of The Pew Charitable Trusts, at 2 p.m. in the Seaborg Room, Faculty Club, UC Campus. 642-1474. www.igs.berkeley.edu 

Ohlone Dog Park Association meets at 7 p.m. at Unity of Berkeley, 2075 Eunice St.  

Prose Writers’ Workshop An ongoing group focused on issues of craft. Meets Wed. at 7 p.m. at the Berkeley Jewish Community Center, 1414 Walnut St. 524-3034. georgeporter@earthlink.net 

Berkeley Peace Walk and Vigil at the Berkeley BART Station. Vigil at 6:30 p.m. followed by Peace Walk at 7 p.m. www.geocities.com/ 



“Paths and Public Safety” Bill Greulich, Emergency Service Manager for the City of Berkeley, will speak on the importance of paths in emergencies such as fire or earthquake at Berkeley Path Wanderers’ meeting at 7 p.m. at Live Oak Recreation Center, 1301 Shattuck Ave. All are welcome. 524-4715. www.berkeleypaths.org 

“Harmony, Diversity, and Enclosedness: Small Scale Biodynamic Gardening” with John Ryan of the East Bay Waldorf School at 6:30 p.m. at the Community Garden meeting, at the Ecology Center, 2530 San Pablo Ave. Potluck dinner. 883-9096. 

“What is going on in Darfur, West Sudan?” Film screening and talk on the current crisis in Darfur, at 6:30 p.m. at the First Congregational Church of Oakland, 2501 Harrison St. at 27th. 527-3917. 

Rigoberta Menchú, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1992 for her work on indigenous people’s rights will speak on “The Legacy of War in Guatemala: Continuous Human Rights Abuses” at 2 p.m. in the Lipman Room, Barrows Hall, UC Campus. 642-2088. www.clas.berkeley.edu 

“Migration and the Politics of Identity: Asian American Art” at 6 p.m. at the Oakland Museum of California, 10th and Oak Sts. Cost is $5-$15. In conjunction with the exhibition “What’s Going On? California and the Vietnam Era” 238-2200. www.museumca.org 

“Images of Devotion in Colonial Mexico” with Prof. William Taylor, UCB, at noon at the Phoebe Hearst Museum, Bancroft at College. 643-7648. 

Simplicity Forum Cecile Andrews, author of “Circle of Simplicity, Return to the Good Life,” will speak at 6:30 p.m. at Berkeley Public Library, Claremont Branch, 2940 Benvenue Ave. 526-6596. www.simpleliving.net 

Embracing Diversity Films presents “You Don’t Know Dick: Courageous Hearts of Transsexual Men” a documentary, at 7 p.m. at Albany High School, 603 Key Route Blvd. Admission is free, donations welcome. 527-1328. 

“Up Front Talk: Arrangements for Death & Dying” with Betty Goren at 1:30 p.m. at the North Berkeley Senior Center. 981-5190. 

LeConte Neighborhood Association meets at 7:30 p.m. at LeConte School, 2243 Russell St. Agenda includes a progress report on landscaping of traffic circles, detrimental impact of illegal lawn parking and annual Board election. 843-2602. KarlReeh@aol.com 


Junior Rangers of Tilden Camping trip. For more information call 525-2233. 

Berkeley Community Media Ten Year Anniversary with a Media Martini celebration from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Lucre Lounge in downtown Berkeley. Tickets are $10-$15. 848-2288, ext. 11. www.betv.org 

City Commons Club Noon Luncheon with Dr. Robert Schoen on “What I Wish My Christian Friends Knew About Judaism” 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.  

“Migrants’ Tales: Life in China’s Boomtowns” with Peter Hessler, China Correspondent, The New Yorker, at noon in the Journalism Library, North Gate Hall, UC Campus. http://ieas.berkeley.edu 

“Three Beats for Nothing” a group that meets to sing, mostly 16th century harmony, for fun and practice, at 10 a.m. at the North Berkeley Senior Center. 655-8863, 843-7610. 

November is We Give Thanks Month! Join participating restaurants in supporting the Berkeley Food and Housing Project. For a list of participating restaurants please visit www.bfhp.org  

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

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

Meditation, Peace Vigil and Dialogue, gather at noon on the grass close to the West Entrance to UC Berkeley, on Oxford St. near University Ave. People of all traditions are welcome to join us. Sponsored by the Buddhist Peace Fellowship. 655-6169. www.bpf.org 

Overeaters Anonymous meets every Friday at 1:30 p.m. at the Northbrae Church at Solano and The Alameda. Parking is free and is handicapped accessible. For information call Katherine, 525-5231. 


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  

Junior Rangers of Tilden meets Sat. mornings at Tilden Nature Center. For more information call 525-2233. 

Kids Garden Club For children 7-12 years old to explore the world of gardening. We plant, harvest, build, make crafts, cook and get dirty! From 2 to 4 p.m. at Tilden Nature Center, Tilden Park. Cost is $5-$6, registration required. 525-2233. 

Worm Composting Workshop Learn about a good way to compost kitchen scraps, even in apartments. From 10 a.m. to noon at 2530 San Pablo Ave. Free workshop sponsored by The Ecology Center. 548-2220, ext. 233. www.ecologycenter.org 

Discover a Wildlife in Your Own Backyard with LeAnn Downing of Wild Birds Unlimited at 10 a.m. at Magic Gardens Nursery, 729 Heinz Ave. 644-2351. www.magicgardens.com 

Help Restore a Rare Tidal Marsh on the UC Richmond Field Station, near the Bay Trail in Richmond, from 9 a.m. to noon. We will provide tools, gloves, rain gear and refreshments. Heavy rain will cancel the event. For more information call Elizabeth at 231-9566. 

Bay Area Socialist Conference with workshops during the day beginning at 9:30 a.m. at North Gate Hall, UC Campus. Cost is $10-$50, sliding scale. Evening panel with Peter Camejo, Alexander Cockburn and Ahmed Shawki at 6:30 p.m. at the Valley Life Science Building, room 2050, UC Campus. 415-861-3103. iso_berkeley@yahoo.com  

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. 


Turkey Trudge and Tramp Bring the family and your guest to hike in preparation for the upcoming holiday. Learn the big, fat difference between farm fowl and their wild relatives. We’ll see our tame turkeys, and maybe catch a glimpse of wild gobblers running free in the park. Meet at 9:30 a.m. at Tilden Nature Center, Tilden Park. 525-2233. 

“Seeds and Seed Treatment” A workshop on seed propogation and related plant biology. Learn how to collect, store, treat and sow a wide range of seeds and care for seedlings. From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Visitors Center, Regional Parks Botanic Garden, Tilden Park. Cost is $40-$45. 845-4166. www.nativeplants.org 

Sweet History: Chocolate! Delve into the delicious natural history of chocolate, from trees to your table as you sample many varieties of the “food of the gods.” Learn an easy way to make truffles and take some home just in time for the holidays. From 1 to 4 p.m. at Tilden Nature Center, Tilden Park. Cost is $10-$12, registration required. 525-2233. 

Southside Cleanup After the Big Game Join neighbors and city staff to clean up our neighborhood. For information call 981-2493. 

“Tellabration” a storytelling concert presented by Stagebridge senior theater, featuring Diane Ferlatte, Steven Heneger, Patricia Bulitt at 3 p.m. at First Congregational Church, 2501 Harrison, downtown Oakland. Tickets are $12-$15. 444-4755. www.stagebridge.org  

Going Bat Crazy! A family exploration day to learn about bats at 1 p.m. at the Oakland Museum of California, 10th and Oak Sts. 238-2200. www.museumca.org 

Artsy Afternoon for Families with storytime, family painting projects and advent art projects from 4 to 5:30 p.m. at Arlington Community Church. For reservations call 526-9146. acc.youth@sbcglobal.net  

Tibetan Buddhism with Lama Palzang and Pema Gellek on “The Six Perfections as a Transformative Practice” at 6 p.m. at the Tibetan Nyingma Institute, 1815 Highland Pl. 843-6812. www.nyingmainstitute.com 


Tea at Four Taste some of the finest teas from the Pacific Rim and South Asia and learn their natural and cultural history, followed by a short nature walk. At 4 p.m. at Tilden Nature Area, in Tilden Park. Cost is $5-$7, registration required. 525-2233. www.ebparks.org 

“Saving the Sun: How Wall St. Mavaricks Shook up Japan’s Financial World and Made Billions” with Gillian Tett, Former Tokyo Bureau Chief, Financial Times, at noon in the IEAS Conference Room, 2233 Fulton St., 6th Flr. http://ieas.berkeley.edu 

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. 

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

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


Morning Bird Walk Meet at 7:30 a.m. at Tilden’s Inspiration Point for a hike on EBMUD trails. It could be muddy. 525-2233. 

“Update from Israel and Palestine” A panel discussion with Salim Tamari, Director of the Institute of Jerusalem Studies, Birzeit University; Dr. Eyad Sarraj, chairman of the Gaza Community Mental Health program; Neve Gordon, professor at Ben Gurion University, former director of Physicians for Human Rights, Israel; Walid Deeb, founding President, Arab- American University, Jenin, at 5:30 p.m. in 159 Mulford Hall, near Westgate, UC Campus. Sponsored by Faculty for Israeli-Palestinian Peace and the Center for Middle Eastern Studies.  

“Anthropology and Architecture: The Making of Public Space in Kinshasa, RD Congo” with Filip De Boeck, Univ. of Leuven, Belgium, at 4 p.m. at 652 Barrows Hall, UC Campus. 642-8338. www.ias.berkeley.edu/africa 

Berkeley PC Users Group Problem solving and beginners meeting to answer, in simple English, users questions about Windows computers. At 7 p.m. at 1145 Walnut St., near corner of Eunice St. All welcome, no charge. 527-2177.  

El Cerrrito Library Book Club meets to discuss “The Kite Runner” by Khaled Hosseini at 7 p.m. at the El Cerrito Library, 6510 Stockton Ave. 526-7512. www.ccclib.org 

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

Organic Produce at low prices sold at the corner of Sacramento and Oregon Streets every Tuesday from 3 to 7 p.m. This is a project of Spiral Gardens. 843-1307. 

Berkeley Camera Club meets at 7:30 p.m., at the Northbrae Community Church, 941 The Alameda. Share your slides and prints and learn what other photographers are doing. Monthly field trips. 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. Charles Fitch will show travel slides at 11 a.m. We offer ongoing classes in exercise and creative arts, and always welcome new members over 50. 845-6830. 

Acting and Storytelling Classes for Seniors offered by Stagebridge, at Arts First Oakland, 2501 Harrison St. Classes are held at 10 a.m. Tues.-Fri. For more information call 444-4755. www.stagebridge.org 


City Council meets Tues., Nov. 16 at 7 p.m in City Council Chambers. 981-6900. www.ci. 


Citizens Humane Commission meets Wed., Nov. 17, at 7 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center. Katherine O’Connor, 981-6601. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/commissions/humane 

Civic Arts Commission meets Wed., Nov. 17, at 6:30 p.m. at the North Berkeley Senior Center. Mary Ann Merker, 981-7533. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/commissions/civicarts 

Commission on Aging meets Wed., Nov. 17, at 1:30 p.m., at the South Berkeley Senior Center. Lisa Ploss, 981-5200. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/commissions/aging 

Commission on Labor meets Wed., Nov. 17, at 6:45 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center. Delfina M. Geiken, 644-6085. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/commissions/labor 

Human Welfare and Community Action Commission meets Wed., Nov. 17, at 7 p.m., at the South Berkeley Senior Center. Marianne Graham, 981-5416. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/commissions/welfare 

Mental Health Commission meets Wed., Nov. 17, at 6:30 p.m. at 2640 MLK Jr. Way, at Derby. Harvey Turek, 981-5213. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/ 


Community Health Commission meets Thurs, Nov. 18, at 6:45 p.m., at the South Berkeley Senior Center. William Rogers, 981-5344. www.ci.berkeley. 


Design Review Committee meets Thurs., Nov. 18, at 7:30 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center. Anne Burns, 981-7415. www.ci.berkeley.ca. 


Library Board of Trustees meets Thurs. Nov. 18, at 7 p.m. at 1901 Russell St., Jackie Y. Griffin, 981-6195. www.ci.ber- 


Transportation Commission meets Thurs., Nov. 18, at 7 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center. Peter Hillier, 981-7000. www. 




Protecting Possessions For City’s Homeless Strains Resources

Friday November 12, 2004

Davida Coady welcomes just about anybody into her drug and alcohol rehabilitation program at the Berkeley Veterans’ Building, but she isn’t rolling out the red carpet for the building’s newest arrival. 

The city is spending $50,000 to move its storage locker program for homeless people into the veterans’ building by the beginning of next year and will spend an extra $45,000 a year to keep it operating. 

“The lockers are such an incredible waste of money,” said Coady, whose program, Options Recovery Services, receives $54,000 a year from the city. She fears that the lockers, slated for the building’s courtyard will expose her clients to drug dealers, physical violence and vermin. 

“I’ve only known one client who ever had a use for a locker,” she said. “When we’ve helped other people clean them out it’s been just garbage, drugs, needles and syringes.” 

In a city that by the most recent estimates is home to more than 800 homeless people, dealing with their possessions can be a divisive and expensive proposition. 

This year, for instance, the City of Berkeley initiated a new program to store shopping carts and other items which appeared to belong to the homeless in a refrigerated shipping container stored underneath I-80 on University Avenue.  

City policy calls for keeping such property for 90 days so the owners have a chance to claim it. The city spent about $8,000 to buy the container and will spend an extra $3,000 a year to refrigerate it so that perishable goods left inside the carts don’t spoil, said Deputy Public Works Director Patrick Keilch. Additionally, he said, the two city workers who pick up an estimated 1.5 tons of abandoned property each day—two-thirds of which is estimated to be left behind by homeless people—cost the city a combined $150,000 a year. 

“It can be a pain in the neck, but this is one of the impacts that cities with a lot of homeless people face,” said Berkeley Mental Health Director Harvey Tureck. 

Tureck has been working to revamp the city’s locker program originally at Shattuck Avenue Self Storage on the corner of Shattuck Avenue and Ward Street for several years. Initiated in 1993 as part of the city’s effort to improve homeless services after city voters passed a ballot measure to crack down on aggressive panhandling, the program, which included 99 lockers at the private storage center, had come under fire from both homeless service providers and neighbors. 

“[Homeless people] were using our driveways and side yards as bathrooms,” said Joan More, who lives near the storage facility. 

While neighbors complained about excessive loitering, the Suitcase Clinic, a homeless advocacy group, was pushing for stronger city supervision at the site. 

“Our clients were complaining that they couldn’t get a locker because there was no turnover and that many of the lockers belonged to people who had left town or already received housing,” said Adam Balinger formerly of the Suitcase Clinic. 

When the storage facility tripled its rental rates in 2002, Tureck said, the city decided to seek a new home for the program. The initial plan, Tureck said, was to follow the model of Santa Cruz and spread out the lockers among homeless service providers and connect them to counseling. 

But when the city sent out proposal requests to service providers, it received only one response. With no other options, the city struck a deal in April with Building Opportunities For Self-Sufficiency (BOSS) to install 96 lockers at the veterans’ building where BOSS operates the Multi Agency Service Center (MASC) from the building’s basement. BOSS is scheduled to receive $45,000 a year to run the program. 

Belongings formerly stored in the lockers at Shattuck and Ward have been transferred to a different shipping container under I-80 where they will remain for 90 days before being discarded. 

Although the locker program was approved by the City Council in April, Coady and other service providers at the veterans’ building, including The Berkeley Place for the Deaf, said city officials didn’t inform them of the program until last month. 

The city will start the program gradually with only 20 lockers in service, and will erect a gate around the lockers to keep clients from accessing them after the MASC closes at 4 p.m.  

BOSS will assign a full-time case manager to provide counseling to locker users, which the city did not do at the Shattuck facility. 

“This is not going to be ‘here’s your locker and we’ll check in with you in ten months,’” BOSS’ Robert Long. “We’re going to know the client and know that they are not storing weapons or drugs.” 

BOSS’s Robert Long said the importance of storage space for the homeless, such as the locker program, was illustrated earlier this year when BOSS briefly allowed clients to store shopping carts in the office’s courtyard. “People would fill up one cart and then leave and go fill up another. It got so bad we had to stop it,” he said.  

With city lockers hard to come by, many of Berkeley’s homeless have long used shopping carts to wheel around and store their belongings, to the chagrin of many of the local supermarkets who have had to replace their stock of metal carts more often they would like. 

Berkeley appears to be California’s unofficial capitol of shopping cart theft. Colleen Ferrington of Polaris Office Equipment, based in Tracy, Calif., said she sells more shopping carts to Berkeley supermarkets than to any other city, including San Francisco. 

Before Andronico’s Berkeley stores switched last year to a theft-proof car with a fifth wheel that drops down and disables the cart, the chain was ordering about 100 new carts a year per store, she said, almost a complete turnover.  

Homeless people usually don’t steal carts from stores, but pick them up after shoppers wheel them home and don’t return them, Ferrington added. 

While homeless people in Berkeley don’t seem to have much difficulty finding carts, they sometimes have trouble keeping them. When they are arrested or when they leave the carts unattended, the city removes them and until this year stored them for 90 days at the corporation yard. 

Under the new program, carts are taken by Public Works to the container and tagged. About ten percent of the items are retrieved, and those that aren’t after 90 days are either recycled or dumped. The belongings aren’t removed from carts before they are stored in case they contain hypodermic needles or other unsafe items. 

“A lot of money is spent on carts,” said Renee Cardinaux, city public works director. Most of the expenses, though, come from paying staff to haul off the abandoned property, not storing it, he added. 

The decision to store shopping carts is based on a state law that requires cities to store “lost property.” Acknowledging that shopping carts might not qualify as “lost property, Assistant City Attorney Matthew Orebic said the city attorney’s office preferred to err on the side of caution. 

“Is this ‘lost property’? Maybe not, but no court has determined that so. In an abundance of caution the city has adopted the 90-day period,” he said. 

He added that San Francisco, the University of California and Caltrans have all adopted 90-day holding periods for lost property after facing legal challenges. 

Another state law makes it illegal to be in possession of a shopping cart with the identification of the owner affixed to it, and requires the city to return the cart to the supermarket. Orebic, however, said the rule rarely applies in Berkeley because most shopping carts that are retrieved lack tags linking them to a particular market. 

In prior years, Cardinaux said the city contacted stores to pick up their carts, but few ever bothered. 

Local supermarket managers interviewed this week said the city’s storage program was news to them and with the average price for a new cart at $135, they wouldn’t turn away functioning carts. 

“We’d definitely take them back,” said Jerry Chow, an assistant manager at Safeway on Shattuck Avenue. “We just had to order a new batch.” 





Council Opts to Create Creeks Task Force, Delays Foothill Bridge

Friday November 12, 2004

The City Council approved a plan Tuesday to create a task force to review Berkeley’s Creeks Ordinance, leaving dozens of homeowners who packed the council’s chambers howling in disgust. 

“This was shameful and disgraceful,” said Former Mayor Shirley Dean after the council voted 7-2 (Olds, Wozniak, no) to establish a creeks task force and reject an alternative plan put forward by Neighbors On Urban Creeks (NUC).  

Fearing that a taskforce would be stacked against them, the group had proposed that the council establish a 12-person committee, with six members appointed by NUC and six members appointed by various creek advocacy groups. 

Also Tuesday, the council returned a plan to remodel the Jensen Cottage to the Zoning Adjustments Board for further consideration, stripped a residential-only building option from a new set of zoning rules for University Avenue, and postponed a vote on whether to allow UC Berkeley to build a bridge over Hearst Avenue. 

After months of wrangling over how to revise the city’s 15-year-old creeks law, the council opted to create a 15-person task force as proposed by Mayor Tom Bates and councilmembers Linda Maio and Miriam Hawley. 

All nine members of the council will make an appointment to the task force, four city commissions will each appoint one member, as will Neighbors on Urban Creeks, the leading homeowner group, which wants to weaken restrictions on development alongside creeks, and a coalition of creek advocacy groups, which want to strengthen the current law. Appointments will be made after the newly elected City Council takes office next month. 

Councilmembers Gordon Wozniak and Betty Olds, who represent sections of the Berkeley hills where most of the affected homeowners live, chastised their colleagues for rejecting the group’s proposal. 

“They’ve made a fair proposal,” said Councilmember Wozniak. “I don’t understand why the council is reluctant to listen to its citizens.” 

Bates said that he feared a committee selected solely by interest groups would be “a wrestling match” and never be able to reach a compromise. 

The task force will be prohibited from discussing the issue of whether the city is responsible for repairing concrete culverts underneath private property. The city maintains that the culverts on private property are the responsibility of the owners. Currently, Berkeley is fighting a lawsuit from a group of neighbors whose homes are threatened by a collapsing culvert underneath their properties. 

The task force will be responsible for reviewing the definition of a creek, determining if culverts should be regulated differently from open creeks, reviewing the current law’s prohibition against new construction near creeks and considering ways to unearth culverted creeks on private property. If no recommendations are forthcoming by May 2006, the restriction on building within 30 feet of a culverted creek would be indefinitely suspended. 

The current law, prohibiting new roofed construction within 30 feet from the centerline of an open creek or an underground creek culvert, came under attack earlier this year when new city maps showed that about 2,400 homeowners, many of whom didn’t know that they lived above an underground culvert, were affected by the law. 


Jensen Cottage 

The council Tuesday voted 6-3 (Olds, Hawley, Wozniak, no) to send back, for 60 days, a proposed residential addition at 1650 La Vereda Road to the Zoning Adjustment Board 

The home, known as the Jensen Cottage, was built in 1937 and designed by William Wurster, the acclaimed architect for whom UC Berkeley’s Wurster Hall is named. 

By sending the item back to ZAB, the council effectively granted the Landmarks Preservation Commission two months to landmark the structure, which would give it authority over external alterations. Last week, City Planning Manager Mark Rhoades told the commission it could not landmark the building because ZAB had already approved the alteration request. 

At Tuesday’s meeting, however, Rhoades said that information submitted to the commission last week “indicated that [the house] is a significant piece of William Wurster’s style.” 

Preservationists argued that the home foreshadowed modernist designs that would become popular in later decades and that the plan to increase the home’s size by about 65 percent would destroy its simple and quaint charm. 

“The original plan was to add one bedroom, but the plan we received is like building another home next to the house,” said Ruth Rosen, a retired UC Davis history professor. 

The home is owned by Marguerite Rossetto, 87, whose son, Louis Rossetto, the co-founder of Wired Magazine, said his mother was seeking the addition because she wanted a bedroom built on the first floor. 

After the meeting, their attorney Rena Rickles said the city had had violated her clients due process rights by allowing opponents of the project a second chance for their appeal.  


University Avenue 

The council voted 8-0-1 (Olds abstained) to approve new zoning laws for University Avenue at the first reading. Bowing to the demands of a group of avenue-area residents, the rules will exclude one section that would have instituted a new zoning provision for residential-only buildings. 

PlanBerkeley.org, a group that has fought for reducing the size of new developments on University Avenue, had urged the council to strike the residential-only building from the new zoning rules. They believed that by using a state law that grants extra space for projects including affordable housing, developers would be able to build the residential-only structures up to two stories higher than allowed under the avenue’s strategic plan. 

The Planning Commission will revisit the residential-only option and offer the council a recommendation by April. 

Planning Commissioner Gene Poschman first raised the issue to the council last month when it was scheduled to pass the plan in its entirety. Poschman said, he “dropped the ball” during commission meetings last spring when he failed to calculate the effect of the proposal. 

After the vote, Stephen Wollmer of PlanBerkeley.org said he thought the Planning Commission and residents could devise a better option for residential-only buildings that could be a model for other parts of the city. 


Foothill Bridge 

The council voted 7-2 (Wozniak, Hawley, no) to delay a decision until Dec. 7 on whether to grant UC Berkeley permission to build a footbridge 21 feet over Hearst Avenue.  

Mayor Bates asked for the postponement to give the council more time to consider the university’s proposal, even though the city isn’t expected to receive any new information on the bridge before the scheduled vote. The delay means that the newly elected City Council will make the final call on the bridge. 

The university has been seeking to build the bridge to connect La Loma Dormitory on the north side of Hearst to the rest of the Foothill housing complex since the project was proposed in 1988. 

Without the bridge, Tom Lollinii, the university’s assistant vice chancellor for planning, said disabled students would continue to be denied access to La Loma. 

The university has rescinded three prior requests for the bridge in the face of council opposition, but this time UC Berkeley is offering the city $200,000 in pedestrian safety improvements along Hearst and granting it veto power over the design of the bridge. 

Still, councilmembers Olds and Spring reiterated their opposition to the project. 

Noting that access to the bridge would require an elevator and a key, Spring, who uses a wheelchair, said she wouldn’t be able to use the bridge.  

“I don’t think it’s accessible,” said Spring, who favored building a tunnel underneath Hearst that could be used by all pedestrians. University officials have said a tunnel would not be feasible at the site, though they have not produced any study of the tunnel option. The bridge would be available to all residents of the dorm, but not the general public. 

Wozniak, whose district includes the housing complex, countered that the bridge would clearly benefit members of the community. “This is a good thing and we should move ahead and get it out of the way,” he said.  

Housing Boom Ending, Says Berkeley Planner

Friday November 12, 2004

Berkeley’s seven-year housing boom may be going bust, and Planning Director Dan Marks wants the regional agency which has pushed for ever more units to ease off their demands for more. 

In an Oct. 27 letter to the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG), the multijurisdictional agency which sets the official housing construction goals for regional cities, Marks said a glutted market and falling rents are evidence that the boom can’t be sustained in Berkeley. 

“The city has clearly been engaged in what is a cyclical residential construction boom,” wrote Marks. “However, there is growing evidence that it is not sustainable, as the student market becomes saturated, and rents have begun to decline in the past two years.” 

ABAG has backed the Berkeley apartment boom with demands for more housing and by authorizing tax free bonds for some of the city’s most controversial projects, including those built by developer Patrick Kennedy with UC Berkeley Professor David Teece. 

Marks said some developers with projects already approved the city “have either not proceeded to apply for building permits or are trying to reposition their projects in light of changed market circumstances, increased construction costs, and the specter of higher interest rates.” 

According to Marks’s figures, the city has added an average of 185 housing units per year for the last five years. ABAG calls for 222.5 units every year from 2000 to 2025. 

“To assume that the City of Berkeley can increase residential development by 40 percent over that which occurred during this five-year boom and then sustain it for 15 years is clearly inappropriate,” Marks wrote. 

The planning director’s letter was sparked by the release last month of ABAG’s draft of their housing projections for 2005. 

“While the city is committed to doing its share to meet housing needs, it believes the projections promulgated by ABAG...are unworkable. To make such assumptions simply sets unreasonably high expectations on the city’s and the market’s ability to generate housing and leaves regional deficits due to these unreasonable expectations.” 

Marks said Berkeley’s seven-year boom has dwarfed anything seen in the city in the past 20 years. 

“Between 1980 and 2000, the City of Berkeley gained 251 units,” Marks wrote. “By the city’s count, between July 1, 1999 and September, 2004, building permits were taken out for 571 new units and an additional 232 units (not counting group quarters) were built by the University of California,” for a total of 832. 

“Another 418 units are in the pipeline with approved Use Permits, and an additional 300-plus units are somewhere in the entitlement process.” 

UC Berkeley has expanded its housing significantly in the same period. The just-opened Channing Bowditch Apartments offer 228 student spaces in 57 units, and the Unit 2 residence halls, coming online in the Spring semester, will offer another 420 spaces. More units will be available in the Fall. 

According to published accounts, the UC Berkeley student housing office was able to find spaces for all students on the spring wait list for campus housing, the first that has happened in years. 


Developer Wins Pact to Build Point Molate Casino

Friday November 12, 2004

Richmond City Councilmembers gave Berkeley developer James D. Levine the go-ahead Tuesday night for his plans to build a “world class” casino resort on the Point Molate shoreline. 

Six councilmembers voted to approve the plan from Levine’s Upstream Point Molate LLC, with two voting against and Mayor Irma Anderson abstaining. 

Though rival bidder ChevronTexaco offered more cash up front—$50 million on signing, compared to $20 million on close of escrow from Upstream—councilmembers said they were forced to reject the offer because the oil company failed to offer a proposal that included new jobs and ongoing economic development for the city.  

Interim City Manager Phil Batchelor placed the long-term value of the Upstream offer at over $350 million—assuming the tribe picked by the developer wins reservation status for the land and clears the federal and state gambling approval process. 

“I’m relieved,” said Levine after the vote. “It’s no fun being in a PR campaign against Chevron. But after all the ads, the truth came out about what the proposals really are.” Levine’s partners include Harrah’s Entertainment, the Cohen Group (headed by former Defense Secretary Richard Cohen) and the Guidivilles. 

“Obviously, we’re disappointed,” said ChevronTexaco spokesperson Dean O’Hair. “The council made the wrong decision. We’ll have to start thinking about the next step.” 

The oil company contends that Levine’s proposals would cause serious security problems for the refinery. 

Both bidders sweetened their offers during negotiations since the proposals last appeared before the council. Levine’s consortium added a backup plan to build 800 luxury condominiums should his plans for a tribal casino stumble. Upstream estimated the long-time income to the city from the housing alternative at $250 million, Batchelor said. 

The sense of urgency evident in the council’s push for a deal was spelled out in a memorandum Batchelor circulated before the meeting, citing the city’s “pressing need for cash to build, repair, and refurbish its assets.” 

The city manager cited the looming needs totaling nearly $356 million, including $209 million for roads, $50 million each for sewer repairs and earthquake retrofitting of city buildings, $21 million to restore the city’s depleted workers compensation reserves. 

Tuesday’s meeting drew a large crowd to City Council chambers, which were packed well beyond the “maximum capacity” limits posted on the walls. While standees were legally limited to 15, more than 75 people were crowded along the walls and in the back. 

When it came time for the public comments period, pro-casino speakers outnumbered Chevron supporters 22-6, with 8 speakers decrying both proposals. 

Labor unions were the biggest casino supporters, seeing a job bonanza in the four hotels, casino and upscale shopping plaza Levine proposes. The developer also worked Richmond’s African American churches, enlisting ministers and lay activists with promises of jobs for the young. 

Dennis Triplitt, regional real estate projects manager for the oil company, delivered a pre-signed copy of the ChevronTexaco’s proposal to City Clerk Diane Holmes. 

By guaranteeing that 75 percent of the site would be reserved for park and open space use—and providing additional space for the Bay Trail on land the firm owns adjacent to Point Molate—the oil company proposal was favored by the representatives of environmental groups who spoke at the meeting. 

The sticking point for many of the councilmembers, starting with Nathaniel Bates, was the lack of a clear plan for creating jobs and economic development, which is the mandatory use of former military bases deeded to local governments under the Base Closure and Realignment Act. 

The navy began a hazardous waste cleanup after closing its refueling base on the site. Land already deeded to the city has been restored to federal levels, and cleanup operations continue on the remainder of the land, which will be deeded to the city once the cleanup is complete. 

Triplitt acknowledged that he hadn’t been able to calculate jobs or economic benefit numbers. 

“I’m really disappointed this deal was not better tonight,” Councilmember Maria Viramontes told Triplitt. “A lot of people believed Chevron was going to put forward a proposal we could take seriously.” 

Mayor Irma Anderson said she liked the front money Chevron was offering, “but I do need some information on how we can develop jobs in perpetuity.” 

Levine had the numbers, starting with the promise of 6,600 jobs, a third of them hired from the local community, if the casino proposal clears all the bureaucratic hurdles—a process he said was a 75 percent probability and that would take from two-and-a-half to five years. 

While Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed an agreement that would give Casino San Pablo exclusive rights within a 35-mile radius, Levine said his proposal wouldn’t be affected because the Guidiville band of Pomo tribespeople has a court-approved right to claim land. 

Levine estimated that his casino would yield state government $100 million a year is revenues. 

He acknowledged there’d be fewer jobs if the casino plan failed. His condo alternative stood a 95 percent chance of success, he said, though there’d be fewer jobs with reduced retail space and hotel rooms slashed from 1,100 to 400 or so. 

“This is an enormous opportunity to get a permanent source of jobs,” said Councilmember Jim Rogers. “To get a long-term economic engine you have to sacrifice a little in the present to get the benefits in the future.” 

To critics who had urged him to delay the vote to win time for a better offer Councilmember Tom Butt said, “It’s time to act...I have begged and pleaded with (ChevronTexaco) to try to get them to give us a viable proposal. What they gave us is a proposal with two fluffy buns on either side of it, but it’s got no meat. 

“As far as I’m concerned, we have one proposal, and with the exception of the casino, it’s a good plan,” Butt said. 

“If we were looking for a quick fix, we would chose Chevron,” said Councilmember Mindell Lewis Penn. “Upstream offers us long term benefits that will affect the city for generations to come. Tonight is the night we have to either paint or get off the ladder. 

Councilmember Bates faulted Chevron for refusing to enter the bidding for Point Molate early on. “Upstream and Harrah’s have shown respect for this city,” he said, as well as the wealth to defend the city from any potential lawsuits the oil company may file to challenge Tuesday’s vote. 

“We do need money immediately,” said Mayor Anderson, “but I don’t agree with Chevron that they could give us a project without a sustainable economic development plan. The whole purpose of a reuse plan is to create an economic engine, and Chevron has not done that.” 

Anderson wanted to delay the vote, but her colleagues didn’t. 

Bell moved approval of the Upstream offer and Penn seconded. Belcher and Viramontes voted no; the mayor abstained. Bell, Penn, Butt, Bates, Griffin and Rogers carried the day.  

Gayle McLaughlin, elected to the council last week and scheduled to take her seat in January, called the vote a mistake. 

“Both proposals were not in the public interest,” she said. “We’ll see if Chevron comes back and makes a counterattack.” 

McLaughlin said she favored keep 70 percent of the site as open space, “with the right kind of development for the other 30 percent, something environmentally friendly and socially friendly.”

Southside Plan Critiques Sought By City Planners

By Richard Brenneman
Friday November 12, 2004

Berkeley residents will have their chance to weigh in on the proposed Southside Plan Monday night when the city Planning Department holds a scoping session in the North Berkeley Senior Center, 1901 Hearst Ave. 

The proposed plan is intended to guide growth in the area immediately south of the UC Berkeley Campus through 2020. 

Before the plan can be implemented, the city must first prepare an environmental impact report outlining the plan’s probable effects on land use and city policy; population, employment and housing; transportation, circulation and parking; air quality; noise; public services and recreation; utilities and infrastructure; cultural resources; and conclusions based on an assessment as spelled out in the California Environmental Quality Act. 

The report must also include possible alternatives to the strategies contained in the planning document. 

The boundaries of the planning district are roughly Bancroft Way on the north and Dwight Way on the south between Fulton and Prospect streets, though Telegraph Avenue is included between Bancroft Way and Parker Street. 

Comments must reach the city by Dec. 6 to considered in the EIR. 

Copies of the plan and the initial study are available online at: www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/planning/landuse/plans/southside/welcome.htm. 

Housing Commission Delays Vote For Scarce Affordable Housing Funds

Friday November 12, 2004

A decision to delay the battle for the city’s scarce affordable housing funds and allow one developer to overhaul its financing scheme months after the deadline has raised eyebrows among developers and some city housing commissioners. 

“It seems too late in the process to resubmit proposals,” said Jane Coulter of the Housing Advisory Commission. Coulter was a member of the commission’s Housing Trust Fund Subcommittee, which had recommend that three proposals receive city aid. 

But last week, the commission, at the request of Housing Manager Steve Barton, voted to delay a full recommendation to the City Council until Dec. 9. The council will hold a work session on the trust fund allocations Dec. 7 and make a final decision Jan. 11. 

The commission recommended Nov. 4 that the City Council allocate $727,000 for Affordable Housing Associates (AHA) Sacramento Senior Homes project, where neighbors have ended a legal battle that delayed construction for months. 

The commission agreed to postpone its recommendation give one applicant, Jubilee Restoration Inc., a chance to respond to a critical report alleging mismanagement from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development. It also will allow commissioners a chance to review a revised financing proposal for the Oxford Plaza development. The 96-unit building, to be developed by Resources for Community Development (RCD), is slated to rise alongside the David Brower Center, which city leaders hope will be a destination point for visitors to downtown Berkeley. 

Neither project won the support of the subcommittee, which in addition to Sacramento Senior Homes, backed giving $1.9 million to a senior affordable housing project proposed by Satellite Homes at 1535 University Ave. and $1.95 million to a live-work loft development proposed by AHA for 1001 Ashby Ave. 

The trust fund is a federally-funded reserve set aside by the city to fund permanently affordable housing.  

Competition has been stiff among affordable housing developers this year because for the first time the city’s trust fund doesn’t have enough money to fund every project. By using a large chunk of its funding from HUD next year, the trust fund will have about $4 million—enough to fund two of the four proposed projects. 

Without an allocation from the trust fund, developers can’t seek other sources of funding and must delay their projects. 

The Satellite Homes project appeared to have the inside track for funding because it was the only applicant that qualified for a special $1.4 million pool of funding from the fund. That money is limited only to projects that don’t seek funds from the state’s Multifamily Housing Program. Satellite is seeking to qualify for a special high yield tax credit that would enable them to forego funding from the state program. 

However, two weeks ago Resources for Community Development submitted a new financing proposal—three months after the initial deadline—that would also use high yield credits thereby qualifying them for the same pool of money as Satellite. 

Satellite was not pleased by the last minute change. “We have tried to be faithful to the process,” said Satellite Executive Director Ryan Chow. “My hope is that the subcommittee’s recommendation will be accepted by the HAC.” 

Dan Sawislak, executive director of Resources For Community Development, countered that his organization hadn’t broken any rules and that affordable housing developers typically alter financing for their projects. 

Affordable housing project proposals evolve all the time, said Barton, the city housing director, who added there was no “automatic right answer” for how to deal with RCD’s new proposal. 

“On the one hand you want the most fair competition, but on the other hand you want to present the council with the best possible proposals,” he said. 

At last week’s meeting, the commissioners seemed divided over the Satellite and RCD proposals. Commissioners Coulter, who was appointed by Councilmember Miriam Hawley, and Anne Wagley, who was appointed by Councilmember Gordon Wozniak, argued that Satellite was closer to breaking ground and that it would face greater costs if it was delayed since it owns its proposed site, while the RCD site generates money as a city-owned parking lot. 

Victoria Liu, appointed by Mayor Tom Bates, disagreed saying that by being coupled with the Brower Center, Oxford Plaza “would be a great attraction for the city.” 


Campus Bay Regulatory Handover Moves Ahead

By Richard Brenneman
Friday November 12, 2004

The transfer of toxic cleanup supervision at the Campus Bay site project in Richmond has been underway since Monday, a spokesperson for the state Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) in Berkeley said Thursday. 

The toxics agency assumed control of the massive mountain of buried waste on the 40-acre site where a Marin County developer hopes to build a 1,330-unit condo and apartment complex on the South Richmond shoreline. 

Angela Blanchette, spokesperson for the DTSC, said investigators from her agency were evaluating the site this week to ensure operations there were in compliance with department standards. 

The San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board ceded control over the upland portion of the site Monday, following a hearing held Saturday by state Assemblymembers Loni Hancock (D-East Bay) and Cindy Montanez (D-San Fernando Valley). 

Montanez also chairs the Assembly Select Committee on Environmental Justice and the powerful Rules Committee. 

The Water Board retains cleanup control of the adjoining marsh and wetlands. The DTSC will now control the polluted muck excavated from the shoreline, which is being stored on the upland site. 

Excavations were halted Tuesday, pending the DTSC assessment and completion of the handover. DTSC will also play an ongoing role in the wetlands cleanup, Blanchette said. 

Hancock Calls For Better Response to UC Hacking

Friday November 12, 2004

Assemblymember Loni Hancock is criticizing the state response to a recent UC Berkeley computer hacking incident as too little and too late. 

Hancock is calling upon the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) to “develop a stronger policy that both prevents the unauthorized access to personal information and requires departments to respond quickly if security breaches occur.” 

In addition, Hancock wants the department to do a personal mailing to the more than half a million citizens whose personal identity information may have been stolen in the hacking. 

In the meantime, CDSS officials are now refusing to release any more details of the hacking incident, citing an FBI investigation into the matter. 

Last month, CDSS issued a statewide media alert in an attempt to notify the citizens whose personal information was stored in the hacked UC computer. At issue are the names, social security numbers, addresses, telephone numbers, and birthdates of some 600,000 In Home Supportive Services (IHSS) program whose information had been uploaded on the UC Berkeley computer by a Connecticut-based researcher. Among those who may be at risk are seniors and disabled persons who receive regular in-home visits by IHSS workers. 

The chain of events began Aug. 1 when a hacker broke into a UC Berkeley computer containing the IHSS information. The data was being used on the UC computer by Connecticut College Associate Professor of Economics Candace Howes, who was conducting a state-approved research project on the In Home Supportive Services program. 

Carlos Ramos, state assistant secretary of health and human services, told reporters earlier that UC Berkeley officials became aware of the hacking on Aug. 30, but did not report the matter to the CDSS until Sept. 21. Ramos also said that the personal identity information should have been removed from the database before it was loaded onto the UC computer.  

CDSS has said that the investigation “has not determined whether any personal data was acquired” during the hacking. 

On Oct. 19, a month after being informed by UC Berkeley, CDSS issued a “media advisory,” sending out press releases and posting information on their website about the computer break-in. The alert included guidelines for IHSS workers and clients on how to contact credit reporting agencies to make sure they had not been the victims of identity theft, and included a hotline number for affected citizens to call in to receive more information and instructions. 

Assemblymember Hancock says that is not enough. 

“We are asking for individual notification of both clients and workers,” said Hancock Chief of Staff Hans Hemann. “CDSS has informed us that the next step they’re going to take will be to attach something to the pay stubs of IHSS workers about the hacking, but we still hold that they need to go beyond that. They need to provide something to the workers that distinguishes itself from any other mailing that the workers receive, something that’s very distinct, perhaps on different colored paper.” 

But Hemann says it is the home services clients about whom Hancock’s office is most worried, “since they have less chance for interaction with the state agencies or county agencies.” Hemann identified clients, rather than workers, as the largest number of individuals who were potentially affected. 

In addition, Hemann said Hancock was “concerned” about the two and a half months it took from the time the security breach was detected until the time information about the hacking was released to the public as well as “disappointed” by the number of calls received by the CDSS hacking hotline. 

“They really geared up for it, manning four extra lines, but the response was small,” he said. 

CDSS Deputy Director for Public Affairs Shirley Washington would not confirm the number of calls received, saying she did not have that information on hand and that the department “may not even be tracking” the number of calls. 

Hemann said that Hancock and a group of state legislators have met with CDSS officials to try to resolve the problems raised by the hacking. Hancock has also scheduled a meeting with UC Berkeley officials next week about the matter.  

“All of the legislators involved in this effort believe that the research is important, and we want it continued,” Hemann said. “It’s just that there was a breakdown somewhere, and we’re trying to get to the bottom of that.” 

CDSS Deputy Director for Public Affairs Shirley Washington that her office is “under specific instructions” not to release any more information while the FBI investigation is pending. 

Asked for details of the agreement between CDSS and the researcher concerning the clients’ and workers’ personal data, Washington said that she did not have a copy of the agreement on hand. 

“It’s not that black and white in terms of what was in the agreement,” she said. “Because it’s being investigated, it’s kind of hard to define at this point.” 

Asked if the terms of the CDSS/researcher agreement were being investigated, Washington said, “Everything’s under investigation. Everything.”  


Campanella Named New KPFA Chief

By Jakob Schiller
Friday November 12, 2004

After an exhaustive six-month search, KPFA has a new General Manager. 

On Monday, KPFA’s parent company, Pacifica Radio, announced that they hired Roy Campanella, II. Campanella, who has a 20-year background in film and TV production, will take over from Jim Bennett, the station’s interim manager, starting Monday. 

Campanella was one of 150 candidates who applied for the position. After being chosen as one of three finalists by the Local Station Board hiring committee, Campanella’s application was reviewed by the entire station board. 

Both he and one other finalist were then presented to Dan Coughlin, the executive director of Pacifica, who made the final decision. 

“We collectively came to the conclusion that he had good leadership qualities because of his past involvement in large projects,” said Sarv Randhawa, one of the station board members.  

Campanella, who has an MBA from Columbia University, has produced and directed TV movies, primetime TV shows, and independent documentaries, including the award-winning Brother Future. 

He is the son of the late hall of fame baseball player, Roy Campanella, who along with teammate Jackie Robinson, was one of the first people to integrate the major leagues. 

The hiring process was temporarily delayed earlier this year because the chair of the station board hiring committee was asked to step down for breaching a confidentiality agreement. Two other members of the hiring committee also resigned in protest. 

Bennett had served since February when Gus Newport, former Berkeley mayor, stepped down from the general manager position after running the station for just eight months.

Global Headlines: How the World Reads the Bush Victory

Pacific News Service
Friday November 12, 2004


“U.S. Chooses Safety,” JoongAng Ilbo (Seoul) 

“Conservatism Wins in the U.S.,” Chosun Ilbo (Seoul) 

“The Peace in the Korean Peninsula Should Not Be Put to a Test,” Hankyoreh Shinmoon (Seoul)  

South Koreans watched the U.S. presidential election incredibly closely, with breaking election coverage broadcast live in train stations, work places, restaurants and cafes. The U.S. president has a great impact on South Korea’s policies towards the North. The country is deeply split between conservative and liberal ways of approaching the communist government of North Korean President Kim Jung-Il. Conservative newspapers such as JoongAng Ilbo and Chosun Ilbo celebrated Bush’s re-election and reaffirmed Bush’s view of the North as an “Axis of Evil”; more liberal papers did not hesitate to express disappointment at Bush’s victory and stressed reconciliation with the North. Hankyoreh Shinmoon wrote of an urgent need to change the image of a “unilateralist America” whose foreign policy relies on military might.  

There was one thing both liberal and conservative papers agreed upon: Bush’s re-election will make the South’s conciliatory gestures toward the North more difficult to pursue.  

—Terry Lee  



“Bush repeats unchanged Taiwan stance to China’s Hu,” China Post (Taipei) 

“Survey backs sovereign and independent Taiwan,” Taipei Times (Taipei) 

“World leaders congratulate Bush’s re-election,” Xinhua News Agency (Beijing) 

“Hu, Bush talk over phone,” China Daily (Beijing)  

Guarded optimism most accurately describes Beijing’s mood upon the re-election of George Bush. The Chinese have always shown a preference for dealing with a known quantity rather adjusting to change.  

Officially, China’s President Hu Jintao congratulated Bush and extended a wish for even closer bilateral cooperation, according to the Xinhua News Agency and the China Daily, which also reported that in a subsequent phone conversation Hu extracted the assurance from Bush that his policy toward Taiwan as part of one China has not changed.  

The China Post echoed the importance of Taiwan in the bilateral relations. China is relying on the United States to keep Taiwan’s President Chen Shui-bian’s activities toward independence in check. As if to confirm that China’s wish was understood at the White House, Secretary of State Colin Powell went to Beijing just before the U.S. election and publicly declared that Taiwan was not a sovereign nation and urged negotiations leading to reunification with the mainland.  

However, the Taipei Times reported that a recent poll indicated 70 percent of the people of Taiwan considered Taiwan a sovereign nation.  

—George Koo  



“To Your Bunkers; It’s Bush,” “America Authorizes Bush to Stay in a State of War,” “A Historic Victory for Republicans Guaranteed Their Majority in Congress, and Put Democrats Under Siege,” Assafir Daily (Beirut)  

“BUSH,” Annahar (Beirut)  

Expressing some degree of surprise for the quick resolution of the American election, Arabic newspapers concentrated their coverage on two factors: The future impact on the Middle East of a second Bush presidency, and the American meaning behind re-electing Bush.  

Beirut’s Assafir Daily considered Bush’s victory a coup in the political, social, and intellectual life of America, and a sharp turn toward the extreme religious right. Its editorial calls for the whole world to go into hiding. “To Your Bunkers; It’s Bush” wrote the paper’s editor, Joseph Samaha. He sees the results as a victory for conservative ideology, demagoguery and religion.  

The other leading Beirut daily, the more conservative Annahar, had one word for its headline: “BUSH.” The subtitle: “The Most Votes in the History of Presidents.” Jihad Al Zein, the paper’s senior columnist, sees in Bush’s victory a four-year renewal for the “Iraqi Adventure.” “Bush can consider now that he has a mandate to take the Iraqi adventure where he wants: building a new Iraq and bringing the troops back home.” He questioned, however, Bush’s ability to understand that “the death trap of any potential reform in the Arab World is in the unconditional American support for Israel.”  

Addustour Daily in Amman, Jordan, anticipated in its editorial that Bush’s second term could be better for Arab and Muslim countries because he will not be under the same pro-Israeli pressure now that he is not facing another election. The paper concludes, “We hope that Bush will review his errant policies which fueled anti-American sentiment among Arabs and Muslims, and pursue a new opportunity for a new page of balancing America’s interests with the interests of the people of the region.”  

—Mahammad Ozeir  



“Bonehead Power,” Mail & Guardian (Johannesburg) 

“U.S. has world holding its breath,” “Guns, Gods and Gays,” “Americans voted for a militarized Rambo,” The Star (Guateng)  

A Mail & Guardian story entitled “Bonehead Power,” declared derisively, “The boneheads have it. And what is truly frightening is that ... the boneheads have it by a clear majority. Despite the developing disaster in Iraq, the tattered state of trans-Atlantic relations and the perception among 70 percent of American voters that the U.S. economy is in a mess, George W. Bush has the most ringing electoral endorsement since the Reagan years.”  

Writing under the headline “U.S. has world holding its breath” in The Star, which has a 54 percent black readership, Alister Sparks wrote, “George Bush has become a danger to world peace, and opinion polls show that six out of seven people around the globe realize that.”  

David Usborne, also writing in The Star, argued that the vote turned on morality. Under the headline “Guns, Gods and Gays,” he wrote, “Call it the anti-Janet Jackson boob vote, the pro-gun vote, the anti-gay marriage vote or the Jesus vote.” U.S. voters, he suggested, shelved their economic interests. “Family values means less about food on the table than about God at the table,” he wrote.  

Many stories assessed the extent to which Bush would attend to Africa and its problems in his second term. Writing in The Star, William Maclean quoted John Sremlau, a professor of international relations at Wits University praising South African President Thabo Mbeki for maintaining a “very good, professional, statesmanlike relationship with Bush.”  

But Maclean was largely pessimistic in his article, headlined “Americans voted for a militarized Rambo.” The story ended with a quote from Adenaan Hardien, chief economist at African Harvest, a South African fund manager, who cautioned those optimistic about the economic benefits of a Bush victory. “Global growth will be ... a loser,” Hardien said. “Bush’s methods have thrown sand in the global economy’s gearbox, and we learnt in the 1990s that peace is more conducive to sustained wealth generation.”  

—Donal Brown  



“The Empire Votes,” Folha de Sao Paulo Daily 

“We have to put up with four more years?” O Globo (Rio de Janeiro)  

Brazilians are especially unhappy about the Iraq War, but also oppose U.S. plans for a Free Trade Area of the Americas. Post-Nov. 2 headlines reflected the anxiety in Brazil—Latin America’s largest nation and economy—that the globe would become even more hostile and war-ridden with an emboldened President Bush in power.  

In Rio de Janeiro’s O Globo newspaper, one opinion writer used a dose of black humor to describe the ramifications of the U.S. ballot: “The gravest aspect of the Bush re-election is that it occurs at a moment when the possibilities of establishing a human colony on another planet are still remote, creating a dilemma, where can one flee to?”  

Another op-ed headline in the same relatively conservative newspaper asked, “We Have To Put Up With Four More Years?” A Jornal do Brasil editorial noted Bush claimed a mandate from his victory, but pointed out that internationally, support for Bush is low. The paper begged him to use some of his political capital to win back credibility for the United States the on the international stage.  

—Marcelo Ballve  




“Indian autumn on Capitol Hill—Bush 2 offers India huge business and strategic opportunities,” Indian Express (Mumbai). 

“Will Bush raise the H1-B cap now?” Times of India (Mumbai) 

“Engaging the U.S. a necessity: Manmohan,” The Hindu (Chennai) 

“PM to Bush: Congrats, an India visit will be milestone—Singh: ‘We are on same side in war on terror and checking proliferation,’” Indian Express  

The reaction to the Bush re-election in India has been one of cautious optimism about a sense of continuity. The business community was especially hopeful that the offshore outsourcing storm might have blown over.  

Editorially, some papers like the Tribune dubbed the Bush victory as Americans choosing “a known devil rather than an unknown one.” Politically, Indian and Pakistan have started jockeying for influence in Washington. The prize? A Bush visit to the subcontinent, early in the second term. Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh was quick to send a two-page letter to President Bush, which became headline news all over India.  

A closer look at the letter revealed the subtext. The Tribune reported that Prime Minister Singh had written that Washington should ensure “that terrorism or religious extremism are not tolerated as instrument of state policy.” India watchers know that that is diplomatic innuendo for Pakistan.  



“President Bush understands Pakistan’s problems: Sheikh Rashid” The News International (Karachi) 

“Re-election of Bush allayed concerns, says Foreign Office,” The Dawn (Karachi) 

“President Bush should pay heed to vital issues: Musharraf,” The News International (Karachi).  

Pakistan, a key ally in the war on terror, was equally effusive in its congratulations to President Bush. Leaders like Federal Minister for Information Sheikh Rashid were relieved that a Bush victory would continue the current rapport with Washington.  

But it was also obvious in President Musharraf’s congratulatory message that he realized many Pakistanis and other Muslims are unhappy with the Bush administration.  

One of the most vital concerns, according to Musharraf, was the Palestine issue. While the Indian prime minister spoke about addressing “terrorism or religious extremism,” the Pakistani leader spoke about finding the “basic causes to terrorism and conflict.”  

—Sandip Roy and  

Arya Hebbar  



“What is the Cost of George W. Bush’s Agenda?” El Economista (Mexico City) 

“Texas Theocracy: Christian Hezbollah in the White House,” La Jornada (Mexico City) 

“The Vote of God,” Proceso (Mexico City) 

“Bush and the Fear Vote,” El Economista (Mexico City)  

Mexico’s coverage of the re-election of George W. Bush focused on three key issues: the economy, the role of religion and the use of fear in the U.S. elections.  

While a headline in Mexico City’s El Financiero read “Bush Key Factor in Rise in Share Prices,” El Economista’s article “What is the Cost of George W. Bush’s Agenda?” asserts that Bush’s re-election on a platform of national security comes at a “very high economic cost that will eventually have to be covered by the rest of the world.”  

The power of evangelical Christianity in the U.S. election is evident in the appearance of a new word, “fundamentalismo,” in the Mexican press, reports La Jornada in its article “Texas Theocracy: Christian Hezbollah in the White House.” The word does not exist in Spanish and has been imposed by the U.S. media, the article observes, another example of American cultural imperialism.  

“When God is voting against you, it’s very difficult to win,” reports Mexico City’s weekly magazine Proceso in its article “The Vote of God.” In the Nov. 2 elections, the article continues, Americans voted for the candidate who would be held up as the “sword of God” against “the evil represented by the Arab people, by gay marriage, and by the millions of poor who abound in the streets of the empire.” Bush, the article asserts, “ran a campaign of fear that prevailed over voters’ reason.”  

Bush won the election, El Economista reports in its article “Bush and the Fear Vote,” as a result of the administration’s skillful use of the “discourse of fear.” Despite the failing economy, false information about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and the high cost of the war, the article asserts, U.S. voters were controlled by fear, which was inflamed by the American mass media.  

“Fear, the psychosis that definitively established itself in American society since the attacks of September 11, 2001, and Bush’s promise to continue fighting ‘terrorism’ was the adage American citizens bet on.”  

—Elena Shore and  

Mary Jo McConahay ?

Under Currents: Not Yet Time to Declare a Kerry Victory

Friday November 12, 2004

Time for my Democratic friends, I think, to pause and take a breath. You’re beginning to freak me out, guys. 

My e-mail inbox—yours, too, I imagine—is filled with messages of alternating, intertwined subject lines: either “Kerry Won” or “Evidence Mounts That National Vote Was Hacked.” Unfortunately, it appears that this virus has spread too far and too fast to be contained, and we can probably only stand at the edges and make comments while it runs its course. 

Some brief comments, and suggestions. 

The “Kerry Won” declaration seems derived from the old disappointed sports fan chant of “my team won, except that your guys cheated” or, in the alternative, “except that the refs got the call wrong.” As a tool to buck up the depressed psyche it’s a useful exercise, but worthless in the real world. The only measure of “winning,” after all, is to see your team with the World Series rings or the Superbowl trophy. Or sitting in the White House. Mr. Bush is still in the White House. Mr. Kerry is not. The real question is: If my Democratic friends really believe that Mr. Bush came in first by illegal means, what are they going to do about it? 

That brings us to the area of allegations of fraud in last Tuesday’s election, a point on which my Democratic friends must exercise some care, caution, and patience. 

We are being swamped with examples of what you might call “troubling oddities” in the vote-instances where Democrat majority counties using paper ballots recorded majority votes for Mr. Kerry, while adjoining Democrat majority counties, using touchscreen voting machines-recorded majority votes for Mr. Bush, sometimes even huge majorities. My Democratic friends—many of them frantic at the thought of a second Bush term—are pushing these instances as “evidence of voter fraud” which can be used to reverse the outcome before the certification of the vote. Few things in life are certain, but this is one of them: Even if Chief Justice William Rehnquist is ill and unable to vote, the present United States Supreme Court is not going to overturn the presumed results of the Nov. 2 national election based upon some “troubling oddities” in the vote. Popular revolt, military coup, or divine intervention aside, that means Mr. Bush will be taking the oath of office again, come next January. 

Part of the problem for disgruntled Democrats is what might be called the “Florida Syndrome,” stemming from the 2000 presidential elections. Florida 2000 was particularly messy, a razor-thin vote margin combined with ballot problems and voting machine recount problems, along with widespread evidence—in this case, the word is accurate—of illegal suppression of the black vote. When Mr. Bush entered office only after the United States Supreme Court ordered a halt in the recounting of the votes, the cries of fraud and stolen election had a more accurate ring. 

As election day neared this year, we were inundated with news reports and predictions that not only would Ohio be “another Florida,” but that Florida might be “another Florida.” And so, I think, when evidence of possible improprieties surfaced after the Nov. 2 election in both states, my Democratic friends responded with the same cries, even though those possible improprieties were both notably different, and as yet unproven. An odd response, too, given how little it gained the Democrats in 2000. 

But there is more danger to these premature cries of “fraud!” than just a spitting into the wind. The danger is that by making such fraud charges on preliminary, anecdotal, and statistical “evidence,” Democrats risk being dismissed as loonies and sore losers in the event that any real evidence of fraud actually comes in. 

So patience in this area—accompanied by hard, and careful work—is the best counsel. 

My assumption—based, again, upon the information I see passing across the Internet—is that computer and statistics experts and amateurs, along with investigative reporters, are even now combing through the Nov. 2 results and that somewhere in the spring, perhaps, we are going to start seeing published evidence of their investigations. We will know, then, whether these “troubling oddities” rise to the level of felonious patterns, which can then trigger more formal action. 

Such evidence—not mere partisan allegation—is going to be necessary to go after one of the real problems: the country’s growing embrace of unverifiable computerized voting machines. 

Democrats missed their chance by not establishing a united front against these computer voting machines in the years between the 2000 and 2004 elections. It would have been far easier to keep states and counties from certifying these machines in the first place, but now that thousands of them have been purchased, and millions of voters have come to accept them, it’s going to be harder to get them out. The economic argument by cash-strapped local governments, alone, is going to be the largest hurdle. 

Proponents of the computer voting machines made the issue “ease of use” and comparison to the recount problems of the Florida-style hanging chad manual punch card machines, which was clever on their part. Some Democratic officials—California Secretary of State Kevin Shelley notably being one of them—tried to stall the use of the computerized voting machines on the issue of whether or not they stood up to state and federal tests. (Shortly after taking on Diebold, Shelley was badly battered by his own election finance scandal uncovered by the San Francisco Chronicle—odd timing, wasn’t it, but why would anyone believe that the one had anything to do with the other?) 

But the problem with computerized voting machines is not whether the average voter will have trouble using them, or possible glitches in providing results 15 minutes or less after the closing of the polls, or security issues, but whether the voting tallies announced by the machines can be independently verified. If my Democratic friends truly believe that those computerized voting machines were used to steal the presidential election in 2004, they should be working—now—on a strategy to make sure that such machines are not in use in the presidential election in 2008. That means pushing for an outright ban on any form of voting in U.S. elections that cannot be independently verified. Period. 

Should Democrats be raising questions about the 2004 presidential election? Absolutely. There are enough “oddities” to raise significant doubts. But doubts are not proof. They are not even evidence. And while evidence is being gathered, my Democratic friends ought to be cautious about what they say.

Letters to the Editor

Friday November 12, 2004


Editors, Daily Planet: 

Now that we’ve spent thousands of dollars printing and posting election placards everywhere, I propose that each candidate, having won or lost, go out and pick up your signs off the telephone and light posts and recycle them rather than waiting for these visual eyesores to fall off and get swept up by our refuse collectors. Saturday after election day should be Berkeley Politico Cleanup Day!  

Tim Q. Cannon  




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Many Berkeley residents shop at El Cerrito Plaza and may be interested in development in the parking area on the Trader Joe’s side of the mall. It is also the side that give access to Loni Hancock’s offices. I was told that the plaza will become accessible only through the San Pablo entrance.  

There is public opposition to squeeze 100 condos and a 500-car parking garage for BART riders into that south-east corner. Needless to say, the project is moving forward despite neighbors’ opposition. The EIR was scheduled to be released in early November. 

Neighborhood associations in Albany and El Cerrito are involved in the opposition. They are the North Albany Neighborhood Association, 515 Spokane Ave., Albany, 94706, and the Behrens Neighborhood Association, 131 Behrens St., El Cerrito, 94530. 

For further information, call 731-0202 or get on the Plaza Neighbors e-mail list by writing to plazaneighbors-subscribe@yahoo.groups.com, and check out the Plaza Neighbors website: www.well.com/~karensu/pn_news.htm.  

Ann Reid Slaby 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I have a question for Jeanne Gray Loughman (Letters, Daily Planet, Nov. 9-11): If you’re “not evil right wing religious zealots...war mongers, homophobes, or oil barons” as you claim, then why on earth did you vote for a president and administration who are? 

Ron Reade 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Thank you for the article on Jobs Consortium (Daily Planet, Nov. 2-4). Those of us who worked for Jobs Consortium have been running into (former) participants, all of whom have expressed distress over its closing. Since 1988, the Consortium delivered “one-stop” services to homeless persons and individuals with disabilities, based on the Vision and Mission developed, in large part, by our founding director, Michael Daniels (starting in Berkeley, then expanding to Oakland). We have consistently strived to provide excellent customer service regardless of an individual’s work/conviction/economic/personal background. Our goal has always been to help clients with becoming self-sufficient by providing the necessary tailored assistance in order to reach job readiness and to look for, obtain, and maintain viable, competitive employment. My understanding is that we always met (or exceeded) placement objectives, and averaged a relatively high (compared to other agencies) starting wage/salary. We wish the best to those who received services in the past and to those who will be receiving services in the, hopefully, near future. A note of correction: We did not have a food service program, but you can add to the list of training programs, Computer/Office Skills.  

Arlene Talbot 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

One week after the “most important election of our lifetime” what evidence do we have of the result? Two things: the officially reported vote counts and the exit polls. The two don’t agree. On the basis of the reported vote count Bush is declared the winner. The exit polls (in which people stated who they had just voted for) had Kerry way ahead. Why the discrepancy? TV commentators on election night said there must be something wrong with the exit polls. But now evidence is beginning to trickle out that there may be irregularities in the tabulation of the votes in Florida and Ohio.  

Democrats seem to think that we will be called sore losers if we question the election results. If this really was the most important election of our lifetime, I think it’s worth taking the risk of being called whiners to make sure this election was not rigged. Let’s demand a thorough investigation of the vote counting process. (For more information on this subject see Thom Hartmann’s article “Evidence Mounts That The Vote May Have Been Hacked” at www.commondreams.org.) 

Carole Bennett-Simmons 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

A memorandum dated Oct. 20 from Stephen Barton, director of Housing, to the Commission on Aging recommends that the commission “endorse the following eligibility changes and distribution guidelines for Berkeley Paratransit Services (BPSW), effective Jan. 1, 2005.” The commission will meet on Wednesday, Nov. 17 at 1:30 p.m. at the South Berkeley Senior Center, 2939 Ellis, at the corner of Ashby. 

Taxi Scrip Program Eligibility Criteria will consist of Berkeley residents 80 years of age and above or certified by East Bay Paratransit as Americans with Disabilities Act-eligible and whose incomes are not more than 30 percent of the Area Median Income. (Thirty percent of the AMI for one person is less than $1,438.) If there is a quorum (there are two vacancies: Shirek and Wozniak) of Commission on Aging members present at the monthly COA meeting and they endorse as per Dr. Barton’s recommendation, it will presumably then go to the City Council. 

What can you do if you too would be negatively impacted by this sneaky action? Resist the budget excuse (dictionary: an explanation used to avoid  

responsibility); attend the Commission on Aging’s Nov. 17 meeting; inform your councilmember (the city clerk at 981-6900 will provide your councilmember’s name and or phone number, fax, and e-mail address) inform others; and attend council meetings. 

Helen Rippier Wheeler 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Reporter J. Douglas Allen-Taylor’s lead sentence in “Rivera, Selawsky Appear to Hold on to School Board Seats” (Daily Planet, Nov. 5-8), which states that “Race...formed a quiet subtext to the Berkeley School Board elections” is totally unsubstantiated. The bulk of the front page news article on the school board elections is based on the charges and unsupported opinions of the disgruntled campaign manager of school board candidate Hemphill. If racism is the charge, the numbers certainly don’t bear this out. Hemphill (who the reporter identifies as African-American) received a higher vote count than either of the other two (white) challengers. Incumbent School Board member Rivera, who the reporter points out is Puerto Rican, won handily by garnering over 3,000 more than the next closest candidate. Could we have accurate news reporting on the front page and move the post-election complaints of campaign managers and others to the op-ed page? 

Priscilla Myrick 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

As one of the gals who worked towards the passage of Measure B, I’d like to thank Berkeley citizens for their help, support and generosity. It was a pleasure to work with so many people who are committed to excellent education for Berkeley’s students. Truly, the experience has given me faith in the culture of my recently adopted hometown and hope for the future of Berkeley, our School District, and our world. The adventure of promoting Measure B proved that people of all races, ages, experiences and perspectives can rally together to achieve challenging but worthy goals! 

Thank you to all of the parents, teachers and staff, administrators, students and citizens who posted yard signs, walked and marched, addressed envelopes, stood at grocery stores (rain or shine, Marice Ashe!) or made like telemarketers to help us get the word out Measure B. You were the model for a Berkeley School District, Unified! 

Thank you to the PTA’s of all of our schools for your unanimous endorsements and support. And, thank you for all of the work you do, all of the time. May others see and respond to the value and power of enthusiastic parent participation in advancing our schools...for our children.  

Thank you to all of the candidates for School Board and City Council for embracing the measure and promoting it as part of their individual campaigns. Your example taught us all that folks can work together despite differing viewpoints for the betterment of community. May we all continue to allow individual voices expression while continuing the work for the collective whole. 

Thank you to a special group of volunteers whose efforts were tireless, whose dedication was endless ... all of the members of Berkeley Citizens for Quality Schools, Tedi Crawford, Rebecca Herman, Robin Miller, Paci Hammond, et al. May you be blessed to have people in your world to support you in the way in which you supported Measure B (and me)! It was invaluable. Thank you each, again and again. 

Thank you to the leadership from Superintendent Lawrence (who gave of mind and body!) and all of the School Directors for demonstrating vision and courage in pursuing excellence for Berkeley’s schools. May you continue to work together, solicit and implement input from our community effectively while spending the money wisely and responsibly! (I am keeping my seat on the Planning and Oversight Committee...)  

Thank you to BASTA! for encouraging dialogue and fiscal responsibility in beauracracy while recognizing that “We cannot shortchange our kids. Period.” (Thank you, Laura Menard) 

Thank you to Caleb Dardick and Marissa Saunders for everything - most especially the personal growth that thrives in authentic relationship. 

Thank you to the children and young people of Berkeley. You took action to help Measure B and your own education. How powerful and strong you are! Special shout outs... to Berkeley High’s Minx Manuel and Scott Rasmussen who give me hope for our young people - black and white, with lots and with less, male and female, hip hopped and bellbottomed!, to the Berkeley Scholars to Cal program for practicing (and walking!) what we preach, and to my own two - Adahn and Ian - who managed their responsibilities, did (most) of their school work, and ate way too much ramen while their mother worked for Measure B. You are all shining examples of what tomorrow holds. 

We all share a world that seems hopeless from almost all perspectives, so much so, that there is nothing to do BUT hope. Lately, Berkeley—all of us—have pondered and dreamed of seceding from the rest of the state and country. We can do it...if not literally. I suggest we commit ourselves as a community to applying the lessons learned in Measure B - the value of participation, diversity, teamwork, and yes, sacrifice - to create a school system and a community that is a world apart.  

I look forward to the adventure with you, Berkeley. And again, I thank you. 

Wanda Stewart 

Field and Volunteer Coordinator for Measure B  




Editors, Daily Planet: 

On only the second night of the City Council imposed brownout of Truck 2 (which covers the North half of Berkeley) we experienced two of many scenarios that proves exactly why all of the Berkeley Fire Department’s fleet must be kept in service 24/7. 

Truck 5, which now strains to solely protect the entire city, responded from Station 5 (Shattuck and Derby) to a report of smoke coming from the downstairs apartment of a multi-unit residential complex. This call came in around 3 a.m., a time when most people are asleep and may be caught unaware by overpowering heat and gases from a structure fire.  

Obviously a faster response yields a greater potential for saving lives and property. 

Due to the brownout, Truck 5 responded well into Truck 2’s district and arrived on scene after an extended response from across town. If Truck 2 had been in service, they would have been a mere five blocks away from this fire! Truck 5’s first assignment was to search all affected residences and affect any rescues, luckily all smoke filled apartments were vacant. Truck 5 was committed to this incident for several hours, meaning there was no truck available within the city limits in the event of any of the following events: 

• Vehicle accident. 

• Rope rescues. 

• Any other fire. 

• Elevator rescues. 

• Structural collapse.  

• Flooding complications. 

• Freeway accidents. 

• Fire alarms, etc. 

When the fire was extinguished and the truck was released, they were not back in quarters for more than 20 minutes (not even long enough to fill their compliment of air bottles which firefighters use breath in a fire) before another fire call came in and they were needed once again! Luckily, this second call was a false alarm. This is the first of many problems that we will encounter due to the recent decision by the City Council to reduce staffing levels. 

And who will be suffering? Yes, firefighters will be sacrificing safety due to the decreased number of personnel that are on scene in a timely manner. But most importantly, the citizens of Berkeley now have a greater potential for increased loss of property and life than they did before Nov. 8. 

David Sprague 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

People who live east of the Ashby BART station, who walk to the station to take BART, need to know that the latest plans for the Ed Robert Campus increase their walking distance to BART by two to three blocks. ERC now plans to close the Tremont Street access to the BART station. Once construction starts, and even after the ERC is finished, everyone will need to walk around to Adeline to enter the BART station. This plan effectively adds two to three blocks to the distance from the station for everyone living east of the Ashby BART.  

The new plans also herald problems with street parking in zones around the new ERC. They are reducing BART parking by 25 spaces. They also provide no parking for ERC clients, and plan to charge employees a parking fee. Clients and employees will thus be forced to use street parking, and those with handicapped placards will be able to park all day on zoned streets, reducing available parking for use by residents. Since ERC’s mission is serving individuals with handicaps, this is likely to mean a significant increase in parking congestion.  

Residents concerned about these proposed changes, which go against what ERC initially promised to surrounding neighborhoods, need to contact the Berkeley Zoning Board immediately, and to attend the Nov. 15 Zoning Board hearing scheduled to approve the ERC plans. They need to know that direct pedestrian access to BART is essential for neighbors to the east, and that adequate parking for ERC clients and staff are an essential part of their commitment to surrounding neighborhoods.  

Rosemary Hyde 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The first e-mail I got on Nov. 5 (forwarded by a furiously grieving Berkeley friend) was one of those red and blue maps of the United States. The massive inner red zone was labeled JESUSLAND. 

On Sunday I attended a performance of the Fauré Requium at St. Augustine (Catholic) Chuch, which turned out to be imbedded in an actual requieum mass “for those who have died through violence.” This “Mass of Remembrance” was for the seventy people killed on Oakland streets this year (listed in the program, and named during the mass) as well as (I quote the priest) for “all victims in Iraq, Ivory Coast, and other ongoing wars.” The program listed the agencies getting that day’s collection: two community organizations and Doctors Without Borders. (Need I mention that this church congregation, which put a lot of money and time into this event, is not located in the red zone of “Jesusland” as designated by my friend? Nor are the local churches that provide food and shelter for the homeless; nor the nuns who in the early 1980s set up the first hospice in the Castro for men dying of AIDS; nor the church women who were raped, tortured, and killed around the same time for trying to help the poor in El Salvador; nor the churches and synagogues which made up the backbone of the Civil Rights Movement; nor...but, enough.) 

In the San Francisco Chronicle on the same day, Rabbi Michael Lerner, editor of the liberal Jewish journal TIKKUN, wrote of “liberals, trapped in a long-standing disdain for religion and tone-deaf to the spiritual needs that underlie the move to the right.” He went on, “Imagine if John Kerry had been able to counter George Bush by insisting that...to love one’s neighbor required us to provide health care for all...” 

Which reminded me of a letter to the same paper a couple of weeks ago, saying that a recent article (which I hadn’t read) clearly placed the Religious Right Wing and the Secular Left Wing, but “never mentioned those of us in the Religious Left--we are homeless.” 

I look again at that map my friend e-mailed me, and I think of the Vietnam War days when we let the Right Wing co-opt the flag and use it to push their definition of love of country. When we designate the states Bush won as JESUSLAND, it seems we’re doing it all over again—letting the Right co-opt the name of a great moral teacher and use it to support their benighted view of moral values. 

Dorothy Bryant 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The chances of breaking Republican control of the government any time soon appear slim, considering the gerrymandering, the built in bias toward the South in the electoral college, and the GOP effect upon coming court decisions. 

Perhaps it is time to think past the issue of our U.S. government? Why not think international rather than nation? Hasn’t the world become one big global village? Let us gather a world movement to challenge Washington. And while we broaden our concept of the struggle, let’s dump the “progressive” label in favor of “radical.” The concept of “progress” is so evolutionary in tone. We haven’t got time for that: the planet is overheating, and Wall street economic policy is burning up our human social capital as millions are without work, and other millions stare in the face of starvation. 

On the international front, we could direct our energy to get the outside world to help “save the planet from Bush” by waging an embargo against the U.S., in the manner that well meaning folks the world over embargoed South Africa, and helped bring down the apartheid regime. On the domestic front we could stop trying to compete with the Republicans on the patriotism issue, and be as radical as was abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison when he burned the constitution and the flag in Boston. At present, a few million flags on lawns and porches of the U.S. represent support for a government that doesn’t deserve support, any more than the government of the slaveocracy deserved support in Garrison’s day.  

Radically repudiating this government would give a signal to the people of the world that there are U.S. citizens who reject the Empire, and this signal would help the world turn against the Empire of Washington. In addition to our acts at home, we would radically reach out to the world, as in our traveling abroad to advertise the embargo against this present government of a cadre of greed loving fundamentalist Empire hungry zealots. Why wait to react in some nice peaceful march to the next atrocity from Washington? Rather, let us heed the words of the spiritual mentor of Garrison, the ex-slave Frederick Douglass: “If there is no struggle, there is no progress.... Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did, and it never will.” 

Ted Vincent 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Regarding James K. Sayre’s “Another Stolen Election (Daily Planet, Nov.9-11): Somehow seems like a “side” light when its news should be screaming from every front page in the land. Compared to the very popular Osha Neumann who “fucks” Kerry, Mr. Sayre seems almost delicate, yet what he is saying is stronger than any carelessly tossed out four-letter word about a man calling for unity (Kerry). I don’t know but strongly suspect that Osha was a strong Nader fan back when—and allowed a four-year term to be installed of our present government—to the downfall and suffering of its people. I have no solution for the nightmare. But I think John Kerry is a good person—certainly a fighter. Osha Neumann I’m not so sure about, in spite of his radicalism. He’s too arrogant. 

This letter, however, is not meant as a criticism of Osha Neumann only—or even anyone else. I am simply pointing out priorities in printing—emphasis of point: “Another Stolen Election.” I believe in the truth of that statement and that, as a conquered nation, unity would be a good thing. It is a dream, a hope; an aspiration. Just as is world peace. Even though most of us, especially here in the Bay Area, know that war can be ended by the will of goodness: a unanimous will. 

Iris Crider  




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Regarding J. Douglas Allen-Taylor’s column “A Preliminary Question About the Election Results” (Daily Planet, Nov. 5-8): 

In the months before the election, besides the seemingly fatal flaw of electronic voting machines having no paper trail, there were alarming reports on the radio quoting the Republican manufacturer of the machines saying that he would “do anything to get Bush re-elected, and that he “promised President Bush Ohio”. So, it was my understanding that watchdog groups (and the Democrats?) were going to use exit polls, the only means they had, to monitor for possible inaccuracies in the electronic voting. 

Then, sure enough, on election night there is this large discrepancy--exit poles showing Kerry winning, but the votes indicating Bush. But immediately everyone seems to be assuming it is the fault of the pollsters. What happened to the idea that the discrepancy could indicate a large-scale inaccuracy or fraud in the electronic voting machines? 

Also on election night, there were reports (on the radio) of problems with electronic voting in the key swing states of Florida and Ohio, where people’s ballots came on the screen already filled in, or their summary screen showing completely different votes than the ones they cast. And now, there is an e-mail circulating on campus, from a few students who staffed a hotline in Broward County, Florida on election day, where widespread problems were reported. Especially, there were voters who repeatedly pressed the Kerry button, only to have their vote show up as Bush. 

It is my experience that even here in highly educated, outspoken, iconoclastic, wild Berkeley, people are oddly passive when it comes to reporting malfunctions of equipment or facilities. This was probably not true at the polls in the intense activism of this election, but in normal situations, I seem always to be the first to report breakdowns or problems, even though dozens before me have run into the problem, but seemingly just shrug their shoulders and leave, without reporting it. If this is the case in Berkeley, I can only imagine how someone would feel in a more conventional part of the country, in front of all their neighbors who are waiting uncomfortably and impatiently in a long line to vote-It is unlikely they would take the extra time to fight with the ballot to make it show their vote correctly, or even notice if the summary screen was wrong. And it is even less likely that they would report any problems to the poll workers. 

Given that: 1) machines, by nature, do the same thing over and over, 2) the likelihood that the reported problems were not even the tip of the iceberg of the actual problems voters ran into, 3) the zealous support of Bush by the electronic voting machine’s manufacturer, 4) Bush’s brother’s control of Florida and Florida’s history of disenfranchisement and corruption, etc., I find it not only possible, but likely, that the fraud and inaccuracies could be up into the hundred thousands, enough to swing the election to Kerry, and even in the millions, enough to swing the popular vote. (And this not including other illegal voter intimidation and disenfranchisement techniques that were reported in Florida, Ohio, and, I assume, elsewhere.) So, once again, there is the distinct possibility that the election was stolen from the Democrats. And, the Democrats and watchdog groups seemingly did nothing to question the results. 

So what do we do about this? Is there any thorough investigation of the electronic votes taking place? What about the future of electronic, no-paper-trail voting? I feel we cannot afford to let this go un-pursued, both for the sake of our wounded psyches, and for what is left of our wounded democracy. 

Diane Shavelson 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

In the Nov. 5-8 Daily Planet (“Council Changes, Measure B Wins, Others Lose”) we find Kriss Wortington dithering about strategic failures in the city’s attempt to squeeze more money out of Berkeley residents, instead of addressing the mandate of the people. Wake up, Mr. Worthington! The message is this: You get no more money until you spend the money we give you more wisely. Examples: If a business were run the way the library is, it would be backrupt in a year. The council’s job is to put someone in charge who understands management. There are over 50 youth service organizations on the public dole, representing gross redundancy and inefficiency. The City Council’s job is to send in a coordinator to reduce these to 10, administering the same functions with one fifth the paid staff. Eric Landes-Brenman, president of Public Employee Union Local 1 “called on the city to work with unions to identify areas where the city could operate more efficiently.” Just a little late. The council’s job is to do this. 

Jerry Landis 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

So Nancy Feinstein says “our elected representatives and civil servants spend their every working hour trying to serve the public good” (“Defeat of Tax Measures Favors Individuals, Not Common Good,” Daily Planet, Nov. 5-8) ! Excuse me, Ms. Feinstein, what planet are you living on? Obviously you have never spent five minutes down at Oakland City Hall. I doubt Berkeley, San Francisco, Richmond, et al, are that much better. There is no “common good.” Society is solely made up of individuals and they all have a right to exist for their own sakes, not for the state. Berkeley voters have been way too generous for decades in voting themselves one of the highest local tax burdens. I only wish the voters here in Oakland would wise up. The problem is that we have 60 percent renters who think nothing of sticking it to property owners. I think only property owners should be able to vote on property tax issues. When any community votes for the kind of generous social services that Berkeley provides, it becomes a magnet for people who are all too happy to let someone else foot the bill. It’s like giving to panhandlers, it only delays the inevitable adjustment back to objective reality. One person’s misfortune is not a lien on the rest of us. 

For a far wiser view of existence, readers should consult Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. 

Michael P. Hardesty 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

On Saturday, I attended the meeting at the Berkeley Yacht Club where we heard the latest from the WTA on the plans for a ferry between Berkeley and San Francisco. 

The statistics and studies sounded fine. The ferry would be a great idea, for both commuting and recreation. But there’s one big thing wrong with the ferry plan. 

It’s parking spaces for the cars. 

Evidently the plan is for most ferry riders to park a car at the ferry terminal. The WTA studies project that 75 percent of ferry riders will not walk, bike or ride a bus; they will drive. 

This prospect makes me very negative about the Berkeley ferry. I have a vision of a ferry arriving at the marina about 6:00 p.m. of a weekday, and all those cold-started cars spewing out a miasma of pollution, which rolls out over the bay. The cars then launch themselves into the Berkeley road system, causing huge congestion. 

At the meeting, the WTA people suggested a $2 parking charge, on top of the $3.50 one-way ferry fare. I hope that was $2 an hour. 

We don’t need any extra parking for the ferry. AC Transit now serves the marina with the No, 9 bus, which passes through much of North Berkeley. The #51 bus used to go to the marina, before that service was cut. At the meeting, we were told that most Berkeley ferry riders will be coming from local areas. If so, then AC Transit should extend existing bus service connect those areas with the ferry terminal. 

Patrons must park, we’re told. People want to drive. If this is really true, why are we wasting public money on a ferry system at all? We should boost the capacity of the bridge, widen the roads and encourage more parking in San Francisco, so people can drive, drive, drive. 

The Berkeley ferry should be for people, not for motorists. 

I think all the worry I heard about boat wakes, noise, disturbance of aquatic life and so on is misplaced. The big worry should be about the plans for parking. 

Steve Geller 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

While differences on issues and candidates are a hallmark of democracy, we recognize and realize that fundamental respect should cross all lines. 

Whether we agree or disagree with Maudelle Shirek’s position on the issues, the germane issue is respect. After an excess of 45 years supporting the BCA, after nearly 20 years as a City Councilmember, after 93-plus years of living on the planet, and the oldest living black elected official in California, and maybe in the nation, many of us who are longtime residents (and not-so-longtime residents) are outraged at how Ms. Shirek is being treated this election year. It feels to many of us as if she is being “kicked to the curb,” and pushed aside by the BCA because they feel she is no longer useful to them or no longer serves their purpose. 

Or perhaps Ms. Shirek is being treated with such disrespect because she is in independent thinker with many years of wisdom and doesn’t go along to get along. At 93 years of age, Ms. Shirek is an elder of this community having been one of the founders of the South Berkeley Community Church, which began in 1943, a co-founder of the Berkeley Co-Op, and an unequaled advocate for seniors. Certainly these and many achievements too numerous to list here entitle Ms. Shirek to greater respect than she is receiving this election year by the organization (BCA) she has supported since its inception. Where is the respect, the honor? Is Ms. Shirek just another used up black leader slapped down by her own party? 

Many in the South Berkeley community and in the City of Berkeley in general cannot stand by mute as Ms. Shirek is being “cast out” in clear disrespect. We join Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Supervisor Keith Carson, and former Congressman Ron Dellums and say NO! We cannot stand by idle and voiceless while another African-American leader is shown such disrespect. As Ms. Shirek as so often said, “the struggle continues.” Why is it so that respect must be a struggle? 

Concerned Citizens of District 3: 

Reverend M. Gayle Dickson, James Sweeney, Percy Davis, Sam Dyke, Frank Davis, Jr. 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

While UC’s proposed redevelopment of UC Village and the Gill Tract is in a one-year lull due to lack of funds, we call to the community to ask the university to recreate its design. As proposed, it would extract two historic Little League fields from the interior of the UC Village and place them on the Gill Tract.  

This should not happen. The Little League fields should remain where they are in order to preserve the future integrity of and possibilities for this unique piece of farmland, the last of its kind in the Bay Area. 

We, Urban Roots/Friends of the Gill Tract, have developed a plan which would preserve and transform this multi-faceted gem into an educational local jewel as an urban farm which would be a legacy for our children and the future of the Bay Area. 

A call to sow this vision into becoming a reality of substance and nurturance for our community: the Village Creek Farm and Gardens of the Gill Tract. Please join us. www.gilltract.com 

Kim Linden, Friends of the Gill Tract, organic gardener 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

“Thousands of Ballots Still to be Counted” (Daily Planet, Nov. 5-8). Yes, it is hard to imagine the exit polls foretelling a Kerry victory, then the “real” count catches up to counter the way people said they voted as they departed the facility. Yet, the numbers turned up differently, in fact, the pundits who predicted a Kerry victory in the early evening were baffled and gonged hard by the midnight hour’s revelations. Who needs to wade through a pile of paper when a computer read-out of votes in, votes on, and votes totaled pops up like toast hardly heated and drops onto a plate of votes cast atop cold scrambled eggs. Oops, we’re mixing food and politics, a digression that plagued the entire campaign where the media fed the people side dishes, all swallowed blithely hook, lie and stinker: feeling more protected from terrorism, able to access deeper tax cut pockets, torpedoed manufacturing jobs be canned there’s always military supply spending, and so glad to have a gun myself in case the new neighbors turn out to be gay marrieds. And now what? Four more years of hate, hypocrisy and holocaust? Is that really what the votes amounted to? Just how credible is the vote count? Is anybody counting on the counters to count properly? How meaningful to the security of this system of tallying reality is it that this election and the last election have had candidates who dropped the pursuit of a challenge? Is it that nobody counts anymore, computers do, and the same nobody that ran for president herself so recently counts no more in the face of the “real” numbers, because those numbers represent the rest of uncontested reality? You better believe it. 

CC Saw 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The election is over. The democrats are now blaming Ralph Nader and the Greens for their candidate John Kerry’s loss. 

First, the immense fraud by the campaign led by Karl Rove and making some wait eight or nine hours in line disqualifying many African American votes in Ohio, fraud in the computer voting procedures at the polls. One county in Ohio has only 638 registered voters but Bush got nearly 4,000 votes there, sending letters to Africa American voters in Florida and North Carolina telling them that they will be arrested if they came to the polls because of failure to pay traffic fines. This helped Bush get 59 million votes. 

Second, the Kerry campaign proceeded on a pro-war policy, pro-patriot act agenda which alienated millions of voters. That is why Kerry got 55 million votes. 

Ralph Nader did not contribute to Kerry’s loss. In 2000, he received nearly three million votes. In 2004 he barely got 300,000. Mr. Cobb of the Green Party received only 134,000 of the 500,000 Greens registered nationwide. Bush won by 4,000,000 plus votes. Most Nader and Cobb supporter voted for Kerry out of fear. 

The blame should be places a the foot of the corporations and their candidate George Bush and not Ralph Nader. 

John Murko 



Commentary: Where Do We Go From Here?

Friday November 12, 2004

In the wake of Bush’s victory, the question is what to do next. The usual answer—keep pressuring Congress and the president—is problematic, as the Republican leadership appears immune to reason or the popular will. But activists must remain engaged, as the prospects for making a meaningful difference in people’s lives were not erased on Tuesday.  

The difference between the 2004 election and prior elections is that the president and Congressional majority have religious-based views that are not subject to facts or popular pressure. Only a handful of Republican senators are in “blue” states, and pressure on these politicians is critical. But activists living outside Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Maine and Rhode Island also must remain engaged, and much can be accomplished despite Republican control of the national government. 

I was struck on election night by the defeats in the blue state of California of both Prop. 72 and Prop. 66. Both initiatives were central to progressive agendas. Prop. 72 expanded health care and Prop. 66 redirected billions from prisons to education and human services. 

Despite their importance, neither initiative was backed by a vigorous grassroots campaign. When Walmart and other corporations threw big money against Prop. 72, there was no ground campaign to overcome it. As a result, an historic opportunity to greatly expand health care was lost without a vigorous fight. 

Prop. 66 would have ended the lifetime incarceration of non-violent offenders, thus redirecting billions of dollars from prisons to human needs. The measure was safely ahead for most of the campaign, until opposition from the Governor and despicable hypocrites like Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown—revving up for his attorney general run—brought it down to defeat. 

As with Prop. 72, there was little if any grassroots campaign for Prop. 66, so the personal contacts with voters necessary to offset the opposition’s lies was missing. Its backers vow to return to the ballot, and will hopefully fund a statewide field effort in addition to media ads. 

For the Bay Area, this was not a great election for progressives. Voters in Berkeley and San Francisco rejected a series of tax hikes necessary to maintain city services, marking the first time in the college town that a tax to fund libraries had been defeated. Progressives were split on the tax increase imposed by Oakland’s Measure Y, which added both police and social services, and the measure passed after different versions failed on two prior ballots. 

I am well aware that there were reasonable arguments against some of these tax measures, but the bottom line is that the proponents of maintaining city services were out-organized by opposition campaigns that preferred budget cuts to tax hikes. It is not only in the red states that raising taxes to maintain services has become difficult, and with Bush expected to slash aid to cities in his next budget, Berkeley, Oakland and San Francisco voters could be looking at sharply reduced city services by 2005. 

Activist energy was understandably focused nationally this year, and I am not suggesting that those of us who spent more time with voters in Nevada, Ohio or Florida than in our home cities and state were misdirected. But the election is over. As important as national politics is-and my book, Reclaiming America, is all about the need for activists to engage in national struggles—the blue states are not exactly overflowing with social justice and economic fairness. Activists should seize upon opportunities for reform at the state and local level while fighting Bush and gearing up for the 2006 congressional elections. 

The big issue that cannot be addressed at the state or local level is Iraq and U.S. foreign policy. Exit polls (for what they are worth) found that California and New York voters saw these issues as the most important, and this appears overwhelmingly the case in the Bay Area. 

American progressives did everything in their power to alter the course of the war in Iraq, and we fell short. But Bush’s control of American foreign policy does not impact the struggle against the occupation by the Iraqi people and the international community. Continued public protest in America is essential, but activists should accept the fact that unlike the Johnson and Nixon Administrations during Vietnam, the Bush administration will not be listening. 

Activists may have even less opportunity to influence the debate on national domestic issues. While Alaska drilling and other environmental outrages can potentially be stopped through vigorous organizing, the new round of Bush tax “reforms,” his budget cuts, and his economic program will pass in any form he desires. 

Bush’s top goal will be to redirect social service money to faith-based providers. This funding builds the infrastructure of the Republicans’ evangelical base, and the prospects of defeating this public subsidizing of church services is nil (and if lower courts object, the Supreme Court will uphold such laws and pave the way for even more intersection of church and state) 

With little opportunity to influence national politics, activists face a choice: they can continue their near-exclusive focus on battling Bush or they can stay alert for openings to influence national politics while building progressive power at the state and local level. 

Here’s my case for the latter option. 

Bush plans to slash non-defense programs during the next four years in order to limit the deficit. These lost federal funds are either replaced by increased state and local funds, or our public health system, housing and homeless programs, public transit operations, and virtually every public sector service will be stripped to the bone. Since the California Legislature remains overwhelmingly Democratic, activists have a chance to secure increased state funding for programs on the federal chopping block. The Democrats stood firm against the governor’s budget plans this year, and with grassroots support-coupled with Schwarzenegger’s failure to defeat any Democrats he campaigned against—they can be even more aggressive against him in 2005.  

Unlike Bush and the Republican evangelicals, Schwarzenegger cares what people think and is acutely sensitive about his image. He does not like 

being portrayed as hurting children or the vulnerable, and organizing against him can succeed. 

The Democrats have veto power over the state budget. If activists expend anything close to the type of energy they exhibited in the presidential campaign to build public support for a progressive budget, the results could be astounding.  

George W. Bush is responsible for many wrongs, but it’s not his fault if we allow our governor to set the agenda in an overwhelmingly Democratic state. 

In San Francisco, Mayor Newsom’s political weakness has been exposed, increasing the willingness of supervisors to stake out their own approach to the city’s budget crisis. If some of the activist energy previously confined to presidential politics could go toward building popular support for a progressive budget alternative, the proposed slashing of critical city services could potentially be averted. 

It strikes me as very odd that our elected officials should interpret the defeat of Propositions J and K as reflecting anti-tax sentiment, when these same residents voted for a presidential candidate who may have raised their taxes. Our Supervisors can put together a tax package that can win, and this time activists, not the mayor, should take the lead in organizing public support  

Similarly, the defeat of San Francisco’s Prop. A does not mean that activists should abandon the cause of supportive housing. Rather, activists can work to put together a supportive housing bond that can win. 

Progressive change at the state and local level is not only possible in 2005, but realizable if the activist energy we saw in the past few months is channeled to these arenas. These struggles do not have the international significance of the battle against Bush, but they can make a meaningful difference in people’s lives. 

Rather than view state and local fights as a diversion from the national arena, these struggles will build progressive power and expand the base for the nationwide campaigns to come. 


This article orginally appeared on BeyondChron.com. 

Commentary: Campaign 2004: Democratic Values

Friday November 12, 2004

In the aftermath of the Republican victory on Nov. 2, Democrats are debating how the party should respond to the increasing political power of conservative Christians. Two alternative strategies have emerged: One is the “If you can’t beat them, then join them” position, which contends that Democrats should assert their own religiosity. The other is “retool the message,” which argues that Democrats lost because they weren’t clear, in general, on what they stand for—other than not wanting Bush to be president—and that, in specific, they did not offer a clear alternative to the Republican rant on “family values.” 

There can be no doubt that the Protestant religious right played a major role in the Bush victory. In the 2000 election, 14 percent of the electorate identified themselves as white Christian conservatives; of these 80 percent voted for Bush. Between the presidential elections, Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg surveyed voters and found that this religious segment had grown to 17 percent. 2004 exit polls found that 23 percent of voters identified themselves as born-again or evangelical Christians; 78 percent voted for Bush.  

The ranks of conservative Christians were swelled by the defection of Roman Catholics, who have traditionally voted Democratic. Despite the fact that Kerry is one of them, the majority of Catholics voted for Bush. Conservative Protestants and Catholics shared a commitment to strengthen “moral values,” prohibit abortion and gay marriage, and appoint socially conservative judges. 

Democrats are struggling to respond to this onslaught. Some centrist party leaders argue that the most effective reaction would be for Democratic candidates to assert their own religious convictions, to become more overtly Christian. This, in effect, was the position of successful Colorado Democratic Senatorial candidate Ken Salazar, who “out-Christianed” his Republican opponent, Pete Coors. 

A logical extension of this line of reasoning would be for Democrats, en masse, to accept Jesus; to wade into the Potomac and undergo group baptism where they repudiate their sinful liberal past and are born again. 

As a left wing Christian, a Quaker, I do appreciate the sincerity of many Christians who publicly proclaim that they have taken Jesus into their hearts. My concern is not the truly faithful, however much I may disagree with their theology, but rather politicians who assume the mantle of piety to further their careers. I believe that many Republican office-holders are hypocrites who pose as devout Christians while they are actually dedicated to serving their own ambition rather than “duh Lord.” I don’t want to see Democrats lose what little integrity they retain by pursuing the same self-serving tactic.  

The best Democratic strategy is to retool their core message and make a case that unique, Democratic values offer the best hope for America and democracy. (I believe these are, in essence, classic liberal values.) 

George Bush hurled the label, “liberal,” at John Kerry as if it was an epithet and Kerry failed to respond with a positive defense of Democratic values. But this is far from an impossible task. In his keynote address at the Democratic Convention Barack Obama expressed the cornerstone Democratic beliefs, “We are connected as one people. If there’s a child on the south side of Chicago who can’t read, that matters to me, even if it’s not my child… It’s that fundamental belief—I am my brother’s keeper, I am my sister’s keeper—that makes this country work. It’s what allows us to pursue our individual dreams, yet still come together as a single American family. ‘E pluribus unum.’ Out of many, one.” 

The concept that, “I am my brother’s keeper, I am my sister’s keeper” is one of the moral tenets that distinguishes Republicans and Democrats.  

The GOP has historically been the party of rugged individualism, the party that suggested that if you were poor or sick or otherwise disadvantaged, you only had yourself to blame and the state had little or no responsibility to help you. Republicans subscribe to an ethical paradox: we should all be patriots but we shouldn’t help one another. Their core moral concern is “What’s in it for me?” 

Democrats assume that we are connected and that no one of us is truly free until all of us are free. It is this perspective that motivates our continuing struggle for peace, justice, and a healthy planetary environment. 

The Democratic Party needs to reassert these values, a morality that supports healthy families and communities, and a vital democracy. 

Democrats should also remember that while there are conservative Christians who obsess over moral purity, conversion of the heathen, and the final judgment, there are also millions of other Christians who share Democratic values. These Christians agree that “we are connected as one people” and “I am my brother’s keeper, I am my sister’s keeper.” These non-conservative Christians are natural allies. They understand that the outcome of Nov. 2 signals the beginning of an epic struggle that will determine whether America remains a democracy or falls into theocracy. 


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

Commentary: Under the Guise Of Democracy

Friday November 12, 2004

Enough already! The election was not rigged! I do not want to hear another conspiracy theory about what did or did not happen in Ohio or anyplace else. Conspiracy theories are about as useful at this juncture as holding another debate. 

Rather than fueling innuendo and claims of tampering, we the people need to take a step back and analyze our democratic system as a whole, not question its latest outcome. 

The slogan of that system is “one person, one vote.” The record turnout a little over a week ago suggests that registered voters believed, at least for a day, that every vote does indeed count. 

While the long lines at polling booths across the nation were incredibly heartening, the stories of malfunctioning voting machines were, simply put, demoralizing. These stories, which can’t all be false, suggest that this belief may not reflect reality; every vote may not count equally after all. 

I thought we passed the Help America Vote Act and purchased all those expensive electronic machines in order to avoid a debacle similar to what occurred in Florida in 2000. And yet, an electronic voting system in Columbus, Ohio reported that Bush received 4,258 votes, while Kerry received 260 votes in a precinct where records show only 638 voters cast ballots. A machine in North Carolina squandered over 4,500 votes due to a false assumption about the memory capacity of a computer. 

These structural failures are not partisan issues. Truth be told, both sides probably benefited in one way or another from a democratic process that is fraught with error. The sad irony is that it appears this country, the self-proclaimed paragon of democracy for the rest of the world, cannot run a clean election. 

Exacerbating matters, the limitations of our electoral system seem to rear their ugly head even before voters step into the voting booths. Prior to the election, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and Republican state senators from Texas managed, with the aid of partisan lawyers, to redistrict key voting areas in that state so that certain votes counted more than others. While Democrats cried foul over this move, we must not forget that it was House Democrat Martin Frost who designed the state’s districts in his party’s favor in the first place. These patent abuses of power have no place in a system where the people, regardless of party affiliation, are supposed to have the authority to elect whom they want in office. 

If this country has people who can predict with scientific precision which counties, cities, and even neighborhoods will be battleground areas, surely it has others who can figure out how to ensure the sanctity and longevity of “one person, one vote.” Before another electoral result ends up in the hands of the courts, before a hanging chad or error-prone machine discounts another vote, and before lawyers duke it out over my or your voting district, it is time to call on our leaders to make fundamental changes to the system in the name of democracy. 


Ryan Macy-Hurley is a graduate student at UC Berkeley’s School of Social Welfare. ›

Commentary: ‘Smart’ Duplicity

Friday November 12, 2004

I first heard of “Smart Growth” when Al Gore was campaigning in 2000. It was suggested then, that suburban cities should increase their share of density by reducing the size of building sites, (lots had become an acre and more in size), and by developing taller buildings in a more compact and concentrated town center. They claimed the goal was to preserve farm land and natural open space. That made sense didn’t it?!  

Since then a different version of Smart Growth has crept into Berkeley without so much as a single public hearing. As promoted by our Planning Department, the new goal appears to require bulky buildings to stack the population in cramped units, so that mass transit can reverse its declining ridership. The mantras of the smart growth development in Berkeley became project density and intensity, reduced parking, reduced open space and yards, and the reuse of polluted former gas station sites.  

To accomplish their goal a recently published Smart handbook (Smart Growth in the San Francisco Bay Area: Effective Local Approaches, published by the Urban Land Institute, June 2003) says it is particularly important to have “a positive political climate sufficient to overcome community opposition to compact, multi-use forms of development.” Unfortunately, we’ve had that political climate for several years, and it has not reduced the community’s opposition.  

There are several census tracts in West Berkeley that have been designated as “most impoverished.” Any census tract in which at least 20 percent of the population is at or below the poverty level, or the area median income score is not more that 80 percent of the metropolitan area median income, makes the tract a “targeted growth accommodation area.” The current diversification of uses in the West Berkeley area includes modest housing, craft workshops, bakeries, caterers, artists, potters, etc. It has been noted that West Berkeley has contributed to a more stable Berkeley economy than areas devoted to mostly high-tech industries. A massive project has just been announced for University Avenue and Sixth Street that will increase real estate values, forcing small industries and low income residents out, while increasing the city tax base.  

Additionally, the Smarts want “TODs” ( i.e. “transit oriented developments”), as we have seen erupting along University, Telegraph and San Pablo avenues. Waiting in the wings are “transit village” TODs, located around BART Stations and bus hubs. The Smart handbook recognizes that “due to fragmented land ownership around most stations, and the inherent risks for potential developers in taking on such sites, it is often necessary for local redevelopment agencies to assist in the acquisition and assembling of land through eminent domain.” 

In the requirements for a TOD, private open space for example, the handbook suggests that noise standards as they relate to exterior open space can be modified to accommodate the presence of train noise. They say it’s very simple, just boost the decibel levels that human beings will need to tolerate. (In recently visiting the TOD at the Fruitvale BART station, the tour guide had to shout to be heard over the passing trains.) 

The Smarts recommend TDRs (transfer of development rights) separating “development rights” from a physical property allowing sale and transfer of its square foot units to another property some distance away. The receiving lot is then allowed to build beyond the maximum standards set by its original zoning ordinance limits 

Finally on a more hopeful note, in Appendix E near the end of the Smart handbook there is a plan for a walkable neighborhood.” It says buildings in such neighborhoods “need not exceed three stories to accommodate compact development. Primary buildings shall not exceed 35 feet, accessory buildings shall not exceed 25 feet.” Minimum density in residential neighborhoods, would produce projects having an overall density of at least five units per gross acre. “Each multi-family unit shall have a patio, deck or balcony of at least 50 square feet, with a minimum clear dimension of six feet. For each unit, an additional l00 square feet of open space shall be provided either as private open space in association with the unit or as semi private open space to be shared among residents.” This is a hopeful sign that not all planners are in cahoots with the developers. For numerous aesthetic planning considerations directed at quality growth, visit www.envisionutah.org  

Who is behind this how-to-do-it “Smart Growth” publication? Developers of course, followed by planning department students at UC Berkeley, urban studies students at San Francisco State University, the American Design Association, architects, a former ABAG planner, and the Urban Land Institute, with publication funding by the Bank of America. 


Martha Nicoloff is one of the authors of the Neighborhood Preservation Ordinance.›

Commentary: Reasons for the Defeat of J, K, L and M

Friday November 12, 2004

In her commentary “Defeat of Tax Measures Favors Individual, Not Common Good,” (Daily Planet, Nov. 5-8) Nancy Feinstein argues voters who rejected Measures J, K, L and M were motivated primarily by a desire to minimize their own tax burden. But an examination of the facts indicates this assumption is incorrect. In fairness to Ms. Feinstein it must be acknowledged that some voters did reject the taxes out of a selfish desire to minimize their taxes, but we need also recognize that others, such as seniors on fixed incomes, rejected J, K, L and M simply because they can’t afford to pay more. But these two explanations leave out the issue that may well have been the key factor in rejecting the taxes. The reality is that 71 percent of Berkeley voters willingly increased taxes to fund the school district, exceeding by 20 percent the number of voters willing to fund city coffers by voting for Measures J, K, L and M. Less then 38 percent of Berkeley voters supported a utility tax of about five dollars a month, while over 65 percent of them supported state tax increases to fund mental health and children’s hospitals. These results indicate a large number of voters were not opposed to taxes per se, but were instead opposed to how Berkeley spends our tax money. 

Ms. Feinstein writes she is “…heart sick at the defeat of Measures J, K, L and M—which would have paid for youth programs…”, leading one to wonder why anyone would vote against taxes for youth services. But over the years Berkeley voters have learned our tax money enriches the city’s General Fund, with no guarantee the money will be used as promised. Nor is this the only problem. If General Fund monies were used wisely the tax measures may well have succeeded. Instead voters have witnessed expenditures for purposes many find not only wasteful, but offensive. 

Many will remember how city bureaucrats destroyed $100,000 in public property by violating a City Council resolution to save eight trees, when they hired a contractor to destroy the trees and stoneware planters that once graced the area in front of the downtown library. Just a few years later residents of one neighborhood woke up to see an industrial size communication tower erected on a Saturday morning, without permits and in violation of an agreement with the community. When outraged citizens packed City Council demanding the tower be removed, the council spent hundreds of thousands in consultant fees to buy time so tempers would cool, before admitting to the voters they had no intention of removing the tower (at the time I predicted the outcome in a Daily Planet piece saying the city manager acted deliberately knowing that “…the people would complain, but the tower would remain”). And as recently as this year the library spent over half million dollars to purchase high tech radio tags to track books despite warnings that the technology endangers reader privacy. Given these instances of abuse is it really a surprise that many voters choose to reject giving city officials the means of funding projects many feel are detrimental? 

Nor are these the only reasons many voters rejected the taxes. Berkeley voters are generous. But claims the city needed new revenue were undermined by their own actions. As the months passed voters saw one revelation after another: that the city was not collecting tens of thousands in taxes from developers; that the City Council was “cutting the budget” by “eliminating” staff positions that were already vacant. When the city reported they had enough unspent funds from the prior year to cover the projected short fall for approximately two years, many voters were astonished when the city voted to spend the money, instead of putting it aside to avoid the fiscal deficit. We were told the city could save tens of thousands by closing non-essential services for the week between Christmas and New Years, but the idea wasn’t implemented, until this year, after voters denied the tax increases. So forgive voters who believe that the city is lying when they claim they’ve done all they can to cut cost and that the tax increases are really necessary. 

Already rumors are circulating claiming the mayor’s office wants the City Council to try again. But unless the council stops awarding tens of thousands in “consultant” contracts, takes steps to trim administrative waste, and stops giving benefits and land worth millions of dollars away to developers the city may find voters increasingly unwilling to support further taxes. 


Elliot Cohen voted to support some, but not all, of the tax measures.›

Parchester Village Residents Fight to Preserve Breuner Marsh, Open Space

By TOMIO GERON Special to the Planet
Friday November 12, 2004

On a hill rising high above San Pablo Bay, Whitney Dotson stared out at an expanse of marshland along the eastern shore and could still see himself and his brother, Richard, as kids swimming in the grassy marsh channels in the early 1960s. 

Dotson, who grew up and lives in historically African American Parchester Village nearby, is one of multiple generations of African Americans who have spent time in Breuner Marsh and now want to preserve the land. 

Sharply dressed in a green shirt and small round sunglasses, the stout, 59-year-old community activist gave tours of Breuner Marsh and nearby Point Pinole on a recent Saturday at a Richmond Shoreline Festival, which included a barbecue and live band. 

The festival was part of an ongoing struggle between the landowners, who want to develop the 238-acre plot of land on the North Richmond Shoreline, and festival organizers, including Parchester Village residents and environmentalists, who want to protect it as open space. 

“It’s become a very important amenity,” he said. “Just having the serenity of this whole area and being removed from the larger city.” 

Bay Area Wetlands LLC, the company that purchased the land in 2000, is fielding bids from developers for the site. Meanwhile, environmentalists want to protect an extremely rare undeveloped marshland along San Francisco Bay, as well as its endangered species. 

“From the Sierra Club’s perspective, so much of the bay has been filled and so much of the wetlands have been lost,” said Jonna Papaefthimiou of the San Francisco Bay Sierra Club and the North Richmond Shoreline Open Space Alliance. The alliance, which organized the shoreline festival, was formed last year to preserve Breuner Marsh. 

Residents of nearby Parchester Village want to protect the environment, but also want to see Breuner Marsh, which lies just across the railroad tracks from the predominantly African American community, protected for their community. 

Parchester Village was developed after World War II for African Americans who moved to Richmond to work in the shipyards and could not buy houses elsewhere. It was built on the donated land of founder Fred Parr, a white developer. Local residents say that it is the first African American homeowners’ community in the Bay Area. About 1,000 people live in 400 single-family, one-story homes on this small tract sandwiched between two railroad tracks. It has remained mostly black since it was built, though some Latino families have moved in recently. 

Whitney Dotson’s father, the late Reverend Richard Daniel Dotson, was one of the early settlers in Parchester in 1950 and became a community leader, organizing to preserve Breuner Marsh and helping to get adjacent Point Pinole turned over to the East Bay Regional Park District. 

For years, Whitney Dotson remembers, he and other Parchester young people would hop the railroad tracks and trudge through the pickleweed to get to the marsh channels for swimming. During the 1970s, however, the channels were illegally filled in. But even after that, Breuner Marsh has been a de facto park for residents, said Dotson. 

“Every generation of people in Parchester have found some way to use that space,” said Dotson. “There’s a number of kids over the years who have gone fishing, playing, just observing the wildlife.” 

Open space is rare in Richmond. Predominantly African-American Northern Richmond, which includes Parchester, has one-third as much open space per capita as Contra Costa County per capita, according to a study by the Oakland-based Pacific Institute. 

“If you could see all the development along the shore that’s been off limits to us,” said Henry Clark, director of the West County Toxics Coalition and a well-known activist against toxic pollution in Richmond. “We want access to Breuner Marsh and the shoreline. The land should be held as a public trust for the people.” 

Meanwhile, the City of Richmond, with a $35 million budget deficit, needs new revenue desperately. Richmond City Councilmembers, whose approval is required for any development, are waiting to see what Bay Area Wetlands does. 

“Breuner Marsh is a beautiful piece of property and it really deserves to be protected,” said City Councilmember Maria Viramontes. “And it connects to a large park space at Point Pinole, it creates a unique opportunity to enlarge that park.” 

Viramontes believe that there is room for a small development on an adjacent area next to Richmond Parkway. However, such a development would depend on what happens with the Breuner property.  

“I think most of the [City] Council is pretty clear we want to keep it as open space,” she said.  

Dotson said he is not opposed to a small restaurant or educational center near Breuner Marsh.  

Newly elected first-time City Councilmember Gayle McLaughlin, who also attended the festival, believes that open space is the best use for the space. “If we develop what little open space we have left,” she said, “we’re going to be in an even worse place in terms of public health.” 

Contra Costa County Supervisor John Gioia has also publicly supported keeping the space open. 

The land, formerly owned by the Breuner furniture company, has been the subject of battles at least since the 1970s. Gerry Breuner, the former owner, came to stay on the property for weekends or longer vacations, according to Toni Silva, who rented out a cottage on the property from Breuner from late-1980 to 1983. 

“It was nice,” she said. “He had a tiny pier. We used to go fishing and catch bass and flounder.” 

The quaint marsh, complete with occasional duck hunters and horses that grazed the land, was almost developed when Breuner tried to build a small private airport on the site in the 1970s. According to Silva, this grew out of Breuner’s serious hobby: airplanes. That plan took concerted effort by Parchester residents and environmentalists to shoot down—with residents like Whitney Dotson’s father leading the way. 

After Breuner died, his family eventually sold the property in 2000 for approximately $3 million. 

The current owner, Bay Area Wetlands LLC, and its agent, San Jose-based real estate developer Stan Davis, have in recent years tried different options to sell the land. One plan to build an Edgewater Technology Park came under opposition from Parchester and environmentalists, and was scrapped. 

Then Signature Properties bought a six-month option on the site and sought to build housing. But the developer could not get the City Council to re-zone the site from “Open Space-Light Industrial,” to residential, so Signature dropped out as well. The City wanted revenue-generating commercial development, not residential development that would require revenue-draining services. 

Environmentalists, including the Richmond Environmental Defense Fund, Golden Gate Audubon Society, Save the Bay and others, say that there are very few remaining undeveloped areas along the bay and they are intent on protecting this swath of land. The California clapper rail, a small reddish-brown bird, and the tiny salt marsh harvest mouse are two animals living in Breuner Marsh that are on the federal endangered species list. 

Richmond residents also deserve the open space, Papaefthimiou of the Sierra Club said. “Most of the Richmond shoreline has been lost to Chevron or the Navy or another industrial company,” she said. “Even though they have a huge shoreline, most is polluted or not accessible to the public.” 

The lack of open space in Richmond is an environmental justice issue and a form of racial discrimination, said Clark of the Toxics Coalition. “This is on a spiritual level—being by the water. Not having that access is an attack on the life and well-being of this community. We’re likely to do whatever is necessary—even to possibly occupying the Breuner Marsh area,” he said, adding that he hopes that that does not happen. 

The importance Clark places on the struggle over Breuner Marsh speaks to the unusual nature of this environmental battle in Richmond—in that it is an effort to keep open space, rather than the usual one to shut down or stop some major toxic threat. 

Talks about the site are now heating up again, as Bay Area Wetlands seeks to sell the property. Environmentalists and Parchester activists want the East Bay Regional Park District to purchase the land, and the agency has made an offer, said Brad Olson, its environmental program manager. 

“We’ve offered to purchase the property,” he said. “The property owner is not willing to sell at this point.” The parks district owns over 95,000 acres in 65 parks, recreation areas and shorelines and is seeking to add new lands. 

Bay Area Wetlands wants to get higher than the market value for the property, and the park district can only purchase it at the currently appraised price, said Olson. 

Olson would not comment on how much the parks district bid.  

Don Carr, a resident of Napa and one of the owners of the property, would not comment on discussions with potential buyers. “We haven’t solidified plans yet,” he said. 

Carr dismissed the concerns of residents and activists who want to keep the land from being developed. “You know when UC Berkeley was built there were people lobbying at that time not to build it,” he said. “There’s always people saying things. That’s not news. In fact there were a lot of people who didn’t want the Bay Bridge.” 

Stan Davis of Bay Area Wetlands would not comment.  

According to Olson, Bay Area Wetlands is weighing at least one other private company’s offer and also has been waiting to see what happens with another major Richmond shoreline development at Point Molate. 

On Tuesday, Richmond approved selling that property to Upstream Point Molate LLC to build a casino and resort. Even with City Council approval, the outcome of that development is far from clear, with numerous other state and federal approvals needed. But with that deal now approved, and a value now placed on that shoreline property to compare to the Breuner site, a Breuner sale could move forward. 

Olson, for his part, says that if the EBRPD were to acquire the property, the site would remain open space. He thinks the chances of any major development on the site are “pretty slim.”  

“If the [new] proposal is anything like the other concepts—either a large commercial or housing development—there’s going to be a lot of opposition from the local community and environmental community,” he said.  

However, the City Council’s approval of the Point Molate casino indicate that development on Richmond open land such as Breuner Marsh is definitely possible—especially if it brings jobs. Activists against development do have two points going for them that Point Molate did not—first, the Breuner property, is close to residential areas such as Parchester, and secondly, the Breuner site has a history of development deals being shot down by community pressure. 

Meanwhile, Whitney Dotson hopes Breuner Marsh will be available to his grandchildren and other nearby residents. He imagines them having similar trips out to the marsh, like the ones he had with his brother and friends, enjoying the wildlife and forgetting, for a few minutes, the imposing city nearby. 



Berkeley This Week

Friday November 12, 2004


Reduced City Services Today Call ahead to ensure programs or services you desire will be available. 981-CITY. www.cityofberkeley.info 

City Commons Club Noon Luncheon with Marcella Adamski on “What is Happening to Tibet?” Luncheon at 11:45 a.m. for $12.50, speech at 12:30 p.m., at the Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant St. 526-2925. 

November is We Give Thanks Month! Join participating restaurants in supporting the Berkeley Food and Housing Project. For a list of participating restaurants please visit www.bfhp.org  

“Writing About Race” with Victor Merina, former Los Angeles Times reporter, at 7 p.m. at North Gate Hall, Room 105, UC Campus. Sponsored by the Graduate School of Journalism. 

“So How’d You Become an Activist?” with Bob Bloom, Dennis Cunningham, Bill Simpich of Earth First, attorneys representing Judi Bari and Darryl Cherney, who were victorious in a $4.5 million lawsuit against the FBI and Oakland Police, at 7 p.m. at Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists, 1924 Cedar St., at Bonita. Suggested donation $5. 528-5403. 

Literary Friends meets at 1:30 p.m. at the North Berkeley Senior Center for a Haiku poetry workshop with Connie Andersen. 549-1879. 

Peace Corps Send Off Party and Social Mixer at 6 p.m. Triple Rock, 1920 Shattuck Ave. Come meet and speak with returned Peace Corps volunteers, applicants, nominees, invitees, and others interested in the Peace Corps. Please RSVP to John Ruiz at 415-977-8798. jruiz@peacecorps.gov 

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

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. 

“Three Beats for Nothing” a group that meets to sing, mostly 16th century harmony, for fun and practice, at 10 a.m. at the North Berkeley Senior Center. 655-8863, 843-7610. 

Women in Black Vigil from noon to 1 p.m. at UC Berkeley, Bancroft at Telegraph. 548-6310. 

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 


A Weekend Campaign to Weatherize with the California Youth Energy Services. Free energy audits and materials installations to help you reduce your energy bills. To schedule an appointment call 428-2357. 

The Edible Schoolyard Annual Fall Garden Workday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at King Middle School, 1781 Rose St. at Grant. Please bring your own gloves and clippers. Cancelled in case of driving rain. 558-1335.  

Seed Saving Workshop Covering seed saving in detail, including botany and pollination, and types of seeds. From 7 to 9 p.m. at the Ecology Center, 2530 San Pablo Ave. Cost is $10-$15. 548-2220, ext. 233. 

Junior Rangers Aides Training for youth at Tilden Nature Area. Held in the afternoon. Call Dave Zuckermann for information, 525-2233. 

The Biofuel Oasis Grand Opening of the only operating public biodiesel fueling station in the Bay Area, from noon to 4 p.m. at 4th and Dwight. www.biofueloasis.com 

Let Worms Eat Your Garbage Small on space and big on benefits, worm composting is a great way to recycle kitchen scraps. From 10 a.m. to noon at Regan’s Nursery, 4268 Decoto Rd. in Fremont. Part of Bay-Friendly Gardening. 444-SOIL. www.stopwaste.org 

Help Restore Cerrito Creek Join Friends of Five Creeks volunteers 10 am to noon to plant natives and remove weeds at Cerrito Creek at El Cerrito Plaza, at the south edge of Plaza parking lot, north end of Cornell Street. 848-9358. www.fivecreeks.org 

Help Restore San Pablo Creek at the El Sobrante Library at 9:30 a.m. Refreshments, tools, and gloves provided. Heavy rain cancels event. Sponsored by San Pablo Watershed Neighbors Education and Restoration Society. 231-9566. 

Save California Least Terns at the Alameda Wildlife Refuge at the former Alameda Naval Air Station, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. All ages welcome. Sponsored by the Golden Gate Audobon Society. 843-2222. www.goldengalteaudobon.org 

“Plant Selection and Installation” A hands-on class in Berkeley from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. We will visit a local nursery and botanic garden to view and discuss why, and how, to select appropriate plants for a variety of situations. Emphasis on Native Californian plants. Sign up by calling the Building Education Center at 525-7610.  

Solo Sierrans Sunset Walk at Emeryville Marina at 4 p.m. Wheelchair accessible. Meet behind Chevy’s Restaurant at the small parking lot. 234-8949. 

South Berkeley Community Church Holiday Bazaar and Art Show from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the church, located on the corner of Fairview and Ellis Streets. Gifts, decorations, and collectibles will be available from local artists and craftspeople. 652-1040. 

We the Planet Music and Activism Festival with The Roots, Mickey Hart, Third Eye Blind, at 7 p.m. at the Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center, Oakland. Workshops will be held during the day on how to get involved in your community. www.wetheplanet.org 

Do-It-Yourself Festival and Skillshare Enjoy free information, food, and music, at 10 a.m. at People’s Park. www.barringtoncollective.org 

“Reporting Across Cultures, Writing About Race” A free seminar for journalists and the public from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the North Gate Library, Graduate School of Journalism. To RSVP, please send an email with your name and affiliation, to merinaworkshop@lists.berkeley.edu 

Motivating the Teen Spirit A teen empowerment program at 10 a.m. at Holiday Inn, Top of the Bay, 1800 Powell St., Emeryville. Cost is $25. Presented by Tamika’s Adolescent Group Homes, Inc. 472-8104. bm2432@sbcglobal.net 

“Chavez and the Struggle of Democracy in Venezuela” at 7 p.m. at AK Press Warehouse, 674-A 23rd St., Oakland. Cost is $7-$15 sliding scale. Fundraiser for Just Cause Oakland. 208-1700. www.akpress.org 

Integrative Health Conference Alternative health conference featuring interactive workshops at 105 North Gate Hall, UC Campus. Presented by Students for Integrative Medicine. www.studentsforintegrative- 


Mudpuppy’s Tub and Scrub and Sit and Stay Cafe opens at Point Isabel, East Bay Regional Park, at 11 a.m. Canine and human refreshments available. www.ebparks.org 

Images of India A fundraiser with music and film to benefit ASHA at 3 p.m. at International House, 2299 Piedmont Ave. Cost is $15-$100. www.ashanet.org/berkeley/events 

Kol Hadash Family Brown Bag Shabbat at 11 a.m. at the Albany Senior Center, 846 Masonic. Bring lunch for yourself and your children, and finger dessert to share. Juice provided. kolhadash@aol.com 


Coffee for the Birds Is your morning cup shade grown? Sample some “songbird coffee” and pastries as you learn a little natural history of a billion dollar industry. Meet at 9 a.m. at Tilden Nature Center. Cost is $5-$7. Registration required. 525-2233. 

Help Clean up San Pablo Creek and its tributaries. Learn about the Dumping Abatement and Pollution Reduction Program and the trash assessment monitoring tool as we remove harmful trash. Refreshments, tools, and gloves provided. Call for meeting place. Sponsored by The Watershed Project. 231-9566. Elizabeth@thewatershedproject.org 

The Women of Color Resource Center will honor five leading women for their spirit of creative resistance at the Sixth Annual Sisters of Fire Awards celebration, at 11 a.m. at the North Oakland Senior Center, 5714 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Oakland. Sliding scale donation starting at $15. 444-2700. info@coloredgirls.org 

Art Show and Sale benefit for YEAH, Youth Emergency Assistance Hostels from 3 to 6 p.m. at Lutheran Church of the Cross, 1744 University Ave. 848-1424.  

Green Sunday “The Election Results: Where Do We Go From Here?” at 5 p.m. at the Niebyl-Proctor Library, 6501 Telegraph Ave. at 65th in Oakland. Sponsored by the Green Party of Alameda County.  

“Older and Wiser: Basic Legal Knowledge for Living Well to the End” with attorney Sara Diamond at 1 p.m. at Berkeley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, Cedar and Bonita. 

“No Man Left Behind: Homelessness and Other Veterans Issues” at 2 p.m. at the Oakland Museum of California, 10th and Oak Sts. In conjunction with the exhibition “What’s Going On? California and the Vietnam Era.” 238-2200. www.museumca.org 

Tibetan Buddhism with Sylvia Gretchen on “Art and Consciousness in Tibetan Buddhism” at 6 p.m. at the Tibetan Nyingma Institute, 1815 Highland Pl. 843-6812. www.nyingmainstitute.com 


City of Berkeley Draft Southside Plan A scoping session on the draft envionmental impact report for the Southside neighborhood, bounded by Bancroft Way, Fulton St., Dwight Way, and Prospect St. At 7 p.m. at the North Berkeley Senior Center. For information contact Janet Homrighausen at 981-7484. 

Tea at Four Taste some of the finest teas from the Pacific Rim and South Asia and learn their natural and cultural history, followed by a short nature walk. At 4 p.m. at Tilden Nature Area, in Tilden Park. Cost is $5-$7, registration required. 525-2233. www.ebparks.org 

Volunteer Training for YEAH Youth Emergency Assistance Hostels from 7 to 9 p.m. at Lutheran Church of the Cross, 744 University Ave. Volunteers 18 and older please. 848-1424. 

“Legacy of a Coup: A Guatemalan Village Perspective” with Beatriz Manz, Prof. of Geography and Ethnic Studies, at noon in the CLAS Conference Room, 2334 Bowditch St. 642-2088. www.clas.berkeley.edu 

“Delivering Energy Efficiency and Comfort in Highly Glazed Buildings” with Stephen Selkowitz, Building Technologies Dept., LBNL, at 5:30 p.m, 104 Wurster Hall, UC Campus. 

“From Rabbi to Aryan: Jesus in Modern Theology” with Susannah Heschel, Chair, Jewish Studies Porgram, Dartmouth, at 7 p.m. in the Dinner Boardroom at the GTU, 2400 Ridge Rd. 649-2482. 

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. Volunteers needed. For information call 548-0425. 


Morning Bird Walk at the Albany Bulb Meet at 7:30 a.m. at the end of Buchanan St. 525-2233. 

Return of the Over-the-Hills Gang Hikers 55 years and older who are interested in nature study, history, fitness, and fun are invited to join us on a series of monthly excursions exploring our Regional Parks. Meet at 10 a.m. in Redwood Park at the Canyon Meadow staging area to visit this historic grove of second-growth redwoods. Registration required. 525-2233. 

Berkeley Garden Club “Don't Plant a Pest,” a talk by Doug Johnson, Executive Director California Invasive Plant, Council. Meeting at 1 p.m., program at 2 p.m. at Epworth Methodist Church, 1953 Hopkins St. Cost is $2 for guests. 524-4374. 

“Until When...” screening of film of four Palestinian refugee families set in the current Intifada, at 7 p.m., followed by discussion, at Grand Lake Neighborhood Center, 530 Lake Park Ave. Suggested donation $1. Sponsored by East Bay Community against the War. www.ebcaw.org 

“The American Jewish Quest for Peace” with Susannah Heschel, Chair, Jewish Studies Program, Dartmouth, at 7 p.m. in the Dinner Boardroom at the GTU, 2400 Ridge Rd. 649-2482. 

Berkeley Salon Discussion Group meets to discuss “How you can be poor and live with style” from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Berkeley Richmond Jewish Community Center, 1414 Walnut St. Please bring snacks and soft drinks to share. No peanuts please. 601-6690. 

Life Line Screening for Stroke at the Northbrae Community Church, 941 The Alameda. To schedule an appointment call 1-800-697-9721. 

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

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

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


Berkeley Communicators Toastmasters meets the first and third Wednesdays of the month at 7:15 a.m. at Au Cocolait, 200 University Ave. at Milvia. For information call Robert Flammia 524-3765. 

“Getting Our Message Heard or Not Just Preaching to the Choir” with Pam Morgan of George Lakoff’s Rockridge Institute at 7 p.m. at the Gray Panthers, 1403 Addison St. 548-9696. 

“Remembering the Vietman Era” with Country Joe McDonald, Aurora Levins-Morales, Rafael Jesús González at 7:30 p.m. at the Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School Auditorium, Rose and Grant Sts. 981-2582. 

“Global Warming: The Effects and Preventative Measures” A panel discussion on the scientific, economic and societal aspects of this important environmental issue at 6 p.m. at the Free Speech Movement Café, 212 Doe Memorial Library, UC Campus. 

Bay Trail History Markers in Richmond The City of Richmond will dedicate eight new sculptural markers tracing WWII history along the path of the Richmond Bay Trail at 11 a.m. at Lucretia Edwards Park, at the foot of Marina Way South. In case of rain, ceremony will be in the Marina Harbormaster’s Bldg, 1340 Marina Way South. 307-8150. 

“Naturally Native” a documentary on Native American women at 7 p.m. at Humanist Hall, 390 27th St., Oakland. Free, donations accepted. 452-1235. 

“Off the Bench and Into the Game: Democracy Isn’t a Spectator Sport” lecture by Rebecca W. Rimel, President & CEO of The Pew Charitable Trusts, at 2 p.m. in the Seaborg Room, Faculty Club, UC Campus. 642-1474. www.igs.berkeley.edu 

Walk Berkeley for Seniors meet at 9:30 a.m. at the Sea Breeze market, just west of the I-80 overpass. 548-9840. 

Prose Writers’ Workshop An ongoing group focused on issues of craft. Meets Wed. at 7 p.m. at the Berkeley Jewish Community Center, 1414 Walnut St. 524-3034. georgeporter@earthlink.net 

Berkeley Peace Walk and Vigil at the Berkeley BART Station. Vigil at 6:30 p.m. followed by Peace Walk at 7 p.m. www.geocities.com/ 



“Paths and Public Safety” Bill Greulich, Emergency Service Manager for the City of Berkeley, will speak on the importance of paths in emergencies such as fire or earthquake at Berkeley Path Wanderers’ meeting at 7 p.m. at Live Oak Recreation Center, 1301 Shattuck Ave. All are welcome. 524-4715. www.berkeleypaths.org 

“Harmony, Diversity, and Enclosedness: Small Scale Biodynamic Gardening” with John Ryan of the East Bay Waldorf School at 6:30 p.m. at the Community Garden meeting, at the Ecology Center, 2530 San Pablo Ave. Potluck dinner. 883-9096. 

“What is going on in Darfur, West Sudan?” Film screening and talk on the current crisis in Darfur, at 6:30 p.m. at the First Congregational Church of Oakland, 2501 Harrison St. at 27th. 527-3917. 

Rigoberta Menchú, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1992 for her work on indigenous people’s rights will speak on “The Legacy of War in Guatemala: Continuous Human Rights Abuses” at 2:00 pm in the Lipman Room, Barrows Hall, UC Campus. 642-2088. www.clas.berkeley.edu 

“Migration and the Politics of Identity: Asian American Art” at 6 p.m. at the Oakland Museum of California, 10th and Oak Sts. Cost is $5-$15. In conjunction with the exhibition “What’s Going On? California and the Vietnam Era” 238-2200. www.museumca.org 

“Images of Devotion in Colonial Mexico” with Prof. William Taylor, UCB, at noon at the Phoebe Hearst Museum, Bancroft at College. 643-7648. 

Embracing Diversity Films presents “You Don’t Know Dick: Courageous Hearts of Transsexual Men” a documentary, at 7 p.m. at Albany High School, 603 Key Route Blvd. Admission is free, donations welcome. 527-1328. 

“Up Front Talk: Arrangements for Death & Dying” with Betty Goren at 1:30 p.m. at the North Berkeley Senior Center. 981-5190. 

LeConte Neighborhood Association meets at 7:30 p.m. at LeConte School, 2243 Russell St. Agenda includes a progress report on landscaping of traffic circles, detrimental impact of illegal lawn parking and annual Board election. 843-2602. KarlReeh@aol.com 


Council Agenda Committee meets Mon., Nov. 15 at 2:30 p.m., at 2180 Milvia St. 981-6900. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/citycouncil/agenda-committee 

Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board meets Mon. Nov. 15, at 7 p.m. in City Council Chambers, Pam Wyche, 644-6128 ext. 113. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/rent 

City Council meets Tues., Nov. 16 at 7 p.m in City Council Chambers. 981-6900. www.ci. 


Citizens Humane Commission meets Wed., Nov. 17, at 7 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center. Katherine O’Connor, 981-6601. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/commissions/humane 

Civic Arts Commission meets Wed., Nov. 17, at 6:30 p.m. at the North Berkeley Senior Center. Mary Ann Merker, 981-7533. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/commissions/civicarts 

Commission on Aging meets Wed., Nov. 17, at 1:30 p.m., at the South Berkeley Senior Center. Lisa Ploss, 981-5200. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/commissions/aging 

Commission on Labor meets Wed., Nov. 17, at 6:45 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center. Delfina M. Geiken, 644-6085. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/commissions/labor 

Human Welfare and Community Action Commission meets Wed., Nov. 17, at 7 p.m., at the South Berkeley Senior Center. Marianne Graham, 981-5416. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/commissions/welfare 

Mental Health Commission meets Wed., Nov. 17, at 6:30 p.m. at 2640 MLK Jr. Way, at Derby. Harvey Turek, 981-5213. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/ 

commissions/mentalhealth Ç

Arts Calendar

Friday November 12, 2004



Yuji Hiratsuka, prints. Reception from 6 to 8 p.m. at Schurman Fine Art Gallery, 1659 San Pablo Ave. Exhibition runs to Nov. 30. Gallery hours are Wed.-Sat. 2-6 p.m. and Sun. 11 a.m.-3 p.m. 524-0623. 

Yaqui Jewelery by NaNa Ping Reception at 6:30 p.m. at Gathering Tribes Gallery, 1573 Solano Ave. Through No. 14. 528-9038. 


Cine Mexico: “That’s the Point” at 7 p.m. and “Tender Little Pumpkins” at 9:05 p.m. at the Pacific Film Archive. Cost is $4-$8. 642-0808. www.bampfa.berkeley.edu 


Actors Ensemble of Berkeley, “Present Laughter” by Noel Coward at 8 p.m. Fri. and Sat. at Live Oak Theater, 1301 Shattuck Ave. at Berryman. Through Nov. 20. Tickets are $10. 649-5999. www.aeofberkeley.org 

Aurora Theatre “Emma” at 8 p.m. at 2081 Addison St. through Dec. 19. Tickets are $36. 843-4822. www.auroratheatre.org 

Berkeley Repertory Theater, “Eurydice” at the Thrust Stage, 2025 Addison St. through Nov. 14. Tickets are $20-$55. 647-2949. www.berkeleyrep.org 

Black Repertory Theater, “Who’s Who in the Tough Love Game” a new play by Ishmael Reed. Fri. at 8 p.m., Sat. at 2:30 and 8 p.m., Sun. at 5 p.m. through Nov. 27. Tickets are $5-$20. 3201 Adeline St. 652-2120. 

Central Works, “A Step Away” Fri. and Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 5 p.m. at the Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant Ave. Through Nov. 21. Tickets are $8-$20. 558-1381. 

Contra Costa Civic Theater, “Noises Off” Fri., Sat., and selected Sun., through Nov. 20. Tickets are $10-$15. 951 Pomona Ave., El Cerrito. 524-9132. www.ccct.org  

Impact Theatre, “Meanwhile, Back at the Super Lair” by Greg Kalleres, Thurs.-Sat. at 8 p.m. through Dec. 11, at La Val’s Subterranean Theater, 1834 Euclid. No show Nov. 25. Tickets are $10-$15. 464-4468. www.impacttheatre.com 

Junction Avenue Theatre Company “Tooth and Nail,” from South Africa with giant puppets by Heather Crow, at 8 p.m. at Durham Studio Theater, UC Campus. 642-9925. http://theater.berkeley.edu 

Royal Court Theatre, “4.48 Psychosis,” by Sarah Kane. Fri. at 8 p.m., Sat. at 2 and 8 p.m., and Sun. at 3 and 7 p.m., at Zellerbach Playhouse. Tickets are $65. 642-9988. www.calperfs.berkeley.edu 

“Ruthless” a musical parody of classic stories by the Mills College Players, through Sun. at 8 p.m. at Lisser Hall Theater, 5000 MacArthur Blvd., Oakland. Tickets are $5-$15. 636-7106. 


Readings from Kim Addonizio’s Poetry Workshops 7 p.m. at Temescal Cafe, 4920 Telegraph Ave., Oakland. 595-4102. 

A Celebration of our Anarchist Mothers, Lucy Parson, and Voltarine de Cleyre with authors Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz and Barry Patemen at 7 p.m. at AK Press Warehouse, 674-A 23rd St., Oakland. 208-1700. www.akpress.org 


Laurie Anderson “End of the Moon” violin, electronics and spoken word at 8 p.m. at Zellerbach Hall, UC Campus. Tickets are $24-$46. 642-9988. www.calperfs.berkeley.edu 

Contra Costa Chorale, New Millennium Strings Orchestra at 8 p.m. at Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley, 1 Lawson Road, Kensington. Tickets are $12-$15. 524-1861. www.ccchorale.org 

Rachmaninoff “Vespers” Sung in Church Slavic by University Chorus and Oakland Symphony Chorus at 8 p.m. at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral, 4700 Lincoln Rd. Tickets at $3-$10 in advance only. 207-4093. www.oaklandsymphonychorus.org 

Jazz in Fine Art at 8 p.m. at the Jazzschool. Cost is $15. 845-5373. www.jazzschool.com 

Above and Beyond A Hip Hop Dance Showcase at the Julia Morgan Theatre at 8 p.m. at Julia Morgan Center for the Arts. Tickets are $7-$17. 845-8542. www.juliamorgan.org 

O-Maya, International Hip-Hop Exchange at 8 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $7-$10. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

Lavay Smith and Her Red Hot Skillet Lickers at 9:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Swing dance lesson with Nick & Shanna at 8 p.m. Cost is $13. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

Roy Rogers & Norton Buffalo, guitar and harmonica duo, at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $21.50-$22.50. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 

Lee Waterman Quintet at 9 p.m. at Downtown. 649-3810.  

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

7th Direction, Golden Shoulders at 9:30 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $5. 841-2082. www.starryplough.com 

Submission Hold, Eskapo, Angry for Life, S.C.A. at 8 p.m. at 924 Gilman St. Cost is $6. 525-9926. 

Katie Jay Band at 9:30 p.m. at Beckett’s Irish Pub, 2271 Shattuck Ave. 647-1790. www.beckettsirishpub.com 

Drink the Bleach, Bottom, Ghengis Khan at 9:30 p.m. at Blakes on Telegraph. Cost is $7. 848-0886. www.blakesontelegraph.com 

Anton Barbeau at the 1923 Teahouse at 8 p.m. Suggested donation of $5-$10. 644-2204. www.epicarts.org 

Grand Groovement at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 848-8277. 

Cedar Walton Trio with Kenny Burrell at 8 and 10 p.m. at Yoshi’s at Jack London Square, through Sun. Cost is $12-$24. 238-9200. www.yoshis.com 



“The Master Maid” a Word for Word performance in celebration of Children’s Book Week at 2 p.m. at Berkeley Central Library, 2090 Kittredge. 981-6223. 


“Different People, Different Places” Paintings by Bernice R. Gross and Robert Wahrhaftig. Reception at 7 p.m. at Fourth Street Studio, 1717D Fourth St. Exhibition runs to Dec. 13. 527-0600. www.fourthstreetstudio.com 

“Neighborhood Convergence” New public art in Emeryville opening at 4 p.m. at the Powell St. undercrossing of I-80 at the Powell St./ 

Emeryville exit. www.unrulyimages.com/publicart/new/converge.jpg 


Cine Mexico: “Wildflower” at 7 p.m. and “A Woman in Love” at 8:50 p.m. at the Pacific Film Archive. Cost is $4-$8. 642-0808. www.bampfa.berkeley.edu 

International Latino Film Festival “Una Revelación Cubana” at 7 p.m. at La Peña. Cost is $8. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 


“Ballet, the Earth and the Pain of Being on the Ground” with photographer and sculptor Leonard Pitt, at 8 p.m. at Giorgi Art Gallery, 2911 Claremont Ave. Cost is $12. 848-1228. www.giorgigallery.com 

Ros McIntosh will read from her book “Live, Laugh & Learn” at 12:30 p.m. at the German Delicatessen, The Junket, in the El Cerrito Plaza, El Cerrito. 


Javanese Gamelan and Dance at 8 p.m. at Hertz Hall, UC Campus. Tickets are $3-$10. 642-4864. http://music.berkeley.edu 

Trinity Chamber Concert with The Berkeley Saxophone Quartet, at 8 p.m. at Trinity Chapel, 2320 Dana St. Tickets are $8-$12. 549-3864. www.TrinityChamberConcerts.com 

Magnificat “A Due Voci Pari” at 8 p.m. at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, Ellsworth and Bancroft. Tickets are $12-$25. 415-979-4500. www.magnificatbaroque.org 

Lang Lang, piano, at 8 p.m. at Zellerbach Hall, UC Campus. Tickets are $32-$56 available from 642-9988. www.calperfs.berkeley.edu 

Choreographers’ Performance Alliance with host Diane McKallip and performances by local dancers at 7:30 p.m. at Eighth Street Studios, 2525 Eighth St. Tickets are $10. 644-1788, ext. 2. 

Big City Improv at 8 p.m. at The Ashby Stage, Ashby Ave. Tickets are $15 at the door. 595-5597. www.ticketweb.com  

We the Planet Music and Activism Festival with The Roots, Mickey Hart, Third Eye Blind, at 7 p.m. at the Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center, Oakland. Workshops will be held during the day on how to get involved in your community. www.wetheplanet.org 

Jug Free America at 2 p.m. at Down Home Music, 10341 San Pablo Ave., El Cerrito. 525-2129. 

John “Buddy” Conner, Celebration of His Life and Music, with Robert Stewart Quartet, Calvin Keys Quartet, M.R.L.S. and The Buddy Conner Memorial Band at 1 p.m. at Yoshi’s, Jack London Square. Donation $10. 238-9200. 

Liz Carroll & John Doyle, Celtic fiddler and guitar duo, at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $18.50-$19.50. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 

Broun Fellinis at 8 p.m. at the Jazzschool. Cost is $15. 845-5373. www.jazzschool.com 

Savoy Family Cajun Band at 9:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Lecture on Cajun music at 8 p.m., dance lesson at 9 p.m. Cost is $5-$15. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

Clockwork, a capella jazz, at 9 p.m. at Downtown. 649-3810.  

Brian Harrison at 7:30 p.m. at Nomad Cafe, 6500 Shattuck Ave. 595-5344. www.nomadcafe.net 

Nac One at the 1923 Teahouse at 8 p.m. Donation of $5. 644-2204. www.epicarts.org 

Grapefruit Ed, Snake in Eden at 9:30 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $6. 841-2082. www.starryplough.com 

The People, Orixa at 9:30 p.m. at Blakes on Telegraph. Cost is $7. 848-0886. www.blakesontelegraph.com 

Patricio’s Tri-Angulo at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 848-8277. 



The Sippy Cups, “Milk, Music and Mischief” at 4 p.m. at the Julia Morgan Center for the Arts. Tickets are $10 adults, $5 children. 925-798-1300. www.juliamorgan.org  


“Scenes from the East Bay Regional Parks” paintings by George Ferrell. Reception for the artist from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Environmental Educational Center, Tilden Park. 525-2233. www.ebparks.org 

“The Albany Shoreline: A Visual History” A exhibition of historic photographs and maps. Reception at 3 p.m. at the Albany Community Center, 1247 Marin Ave. Exhibition runs to Feb. 14. 524-9283. 

“Threshold: Byron Kim” Guided tour at 2 p.m. at Berkeley Art Museum, 2626 Bancroft Way. 642-0808. www.bampfa.berkeley.edu 

“reading/viewing: a new perspective,” works by Mary V. Marsh and Toru Sugita. Reception from 2 to 4 p.m. at Berkeley Arts Center. Exhibition runs through Dec. 18. 


The World of Astrid Lindgren: “You Are Out of Your Mind” at 3 p.m., Cine Mexico: “Iron Fist” at 5:30 p.m. at the Pacific Film Archive. Cost is $4-$8. 642-0808. www.bampfa.berkeley.edu 

International Latino Film Festival “Eres Mi Héroe” and “Paraíso” at 7 p.m. at La Peña. Cost is $8. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 


Saxon Holt and Nora Harlow, photographer and contributor to EBMUD's “Plants and Landscapes” Reception from 3 to 5 p.m. at Mrs. Dalloway's Literary & Garden Arts, 2904 College Ave. 704-8222.  

Artists from the Day of the Dead Exhibition Gallery talk at at 2 p.m. at the Oakland Museum of California, 10th and Oak Sts. 238-2200. www.museumca.org 

Fred Rosenbaum and David Biale reading from “Taking Risks: A Jewish Youth in the Soviet Partisans and His Unlikely Life in California” at 3 p.m. at the Judah L. Magnes Museum, 2911 Russell St. 549-6950. www.magnes.org 

Hecho en Califas Festival with Rico Pabón, Piri Thomas, Aya De Leon and others, at 2 p.m. at La Peña. Cost is $7-$10. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

Poetry Flash with Catherine Barnett and Marie Ponsot at 7:30 p.m. at Cody’s Books. Donation $2. 845-7852. www.codysbooks.com 


Rachmaninoff Vespers with the University Chorus and Oakland Symphony Chorus at 8 p.m. at Hertz Hall, UC Campus. Tickets are $3-$10. 642-9988. http://music.berkeley.edu 

Organ Recital by Avi Stein playing Bach, Sweelinck, and Bohm at 6:10 p.m. at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, 2300 Bancroft Way at Ellsworth. Donations suggested. 845-0888.  

Contra Costa Chorale, New Millennium Strings Orchestra at 5 p.m. at Northbrae Community Church, 941 The Alameda. Tickets are $12-$15. 524-1861. www.ccchorale.org 

UC Alumni Chorus at 7 p.m. at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 114 Montecito Ave., Oakland. Tickets are $10-$15. 643-9645. www.ucac.net 

Michael Schade, tenor, and Malcolm Martineau, piano, at 3 p.m. at Zellerbach Hall, UC Campus. Tickets are $46, available from 642-9988. www.calperfs.berkeley.edu 

Maybeck Trio with Roy Zajac, clarinet, Elaine Kreston, cello, and Jerry Kuderna, piano, at 7:30 p.m. at Berkeley Art Center, 1275 Walnut St. Cost is $9-$10. 644-6893. 

Choreographers’ Performance Alliance with host John Doyle and performances by local dancers at 7:30 p.m. at Eighth Street Studios, 2525 Eighth St. Tickets are $10. 644-1788, ext. 2. 

Generations of Culture with Rico Pabón, Piri Thomas, Surora Levins Moarles, Aya de Leon and John Santos at 2 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $7-$15. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

Josh Jones Latin Jazz Band at 4:30 p.m. at the Jazzschool. Cost is $12-$18. 845-5373. www.jazzschool.com 

Savoy Family Band, Cajun music, at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $15.50-$16.50. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 

Odd Shaped Case, Balkan music, at 10 a.m. at Nomad Cafe, 6500 Shattuck Ave. 595-5344. www.nomadcafe.net 

Tragedy Andy, Marginal Prophets, Abandon Theory at 8 p.m. at Blakes on Telegraph. Cost is $6. 848-0886. www.blakesontelegraph.com 



Exhibit by the National Watercolor Society at the Badè Museum, Pacific School of Religion, 1798 Scenic Ave. Runs through Dec. 15. Museum hours are Tues. and Thurs., 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. 

“Surviving Suprematism: Lazar Khidekel,” watercolors, drawings and gouaches opens at the Judah L. Magnes Museum, 2911 Russell St. and runs through March 20. www.magnes.org 


Michael Chabon introduces “The Final Solution: A Story of Detection” at 7:30 p.m. at First Congregational Church of Berkeley, 2345 Channing Way. Sponsored by Cody’s Books. 845-7852. www.codysbooks.com 

Anne Waldman, poet, reads from her new collection “Structure of the World Compared to a Bubble” at 7:30 p.m. at Black Oak Books. 486-0698. www.blackoakbooks.com 

Poetry Express, featuring the 2004 Berkeley Poetry Slam Team, from 7 to 9:30 p.m., at Priya Restaurant, 2072 San Pablo Ave. berkeleypoetryexpress@yahoo.com 


Ishmael Reed with the Billy Bang Quartet at 8 and 10 p.m. at Yoshi’s at Jack London Square. Cost is $10-$18. 238-9200. www.yoshis.com 



Gerry Tenny “Book Song” celebrating Children’s Book Week at 10:30 a.m. at Berkeley Public Library South Branch, 1901 Russell St. Also Wed. Nov. 17 at 3:30 p.m. at Claremont Branch, and Thurs. Nov. 18 at 7 p.m. at North Branch. 981-6260. 


Loose Ends: Lewis Klahr, “A Trilogy and a Quartet” at 7:30 p.m. at the Pacific Film Archive. Cost is $4-$8. 642-0808. www.bampfa.berkeley.edu 


Greil Marcus, co-editor, discusses the impact ballads have had on American culture in “The Rose & the Briar” at 7:30 p.m. at Black Oak Books. 486-0698. www.blackoakbooks.com 

Bill Ayres describes “Teaching Toward Freedom: Moral Commitment and Ethical Action in the Classroom” at 7:30 p.m. at Cody’s Books. 845-7852. www.codysbooks.com 

Bruce Whipperman introduces his guidebooks to Acapulco and Oaxaca at 7:30 p.m. at Easy Going Travel Shop & Bookstore, 1385 Shattuck Ave. 843-3533. 


California-Stanford Sing Off at 8 p.m. at Wheeler Auditorium, UC Campus. Featuring UC Women’s and Men’s Chorale, UC Men’s Octet, Stanford Mendicants, California Golden Overtones, Stanford Counterpoint, Artists in Resonance, Stanford Harmonics, Noteworthy, Cal Jazz Choir, DeCadence, and For Christ Sale. Tickets are $5-$10. tickets.berkeley.edu  

Edessa at 9 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Turkish dance workshop with Amet Luleci at 7:30 p.m. Cost is $10. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

Arturo Sandoval, Cuban trumpeter, at 8 and 10 p.m. Yoshi’s at Jack London Square, through Sun. Cost is $12-$22. 238-9200. www.yoshis.com 

Jazzschool Tuesdays, a weekly showcase of up-and-coming ensembles from Berkeley Jazz- 

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

Peter Barshay and Jeff Pittson at 8 p.m. at Downtown. 649-3810.?

‘A Step Away’ Goes the Distance

By KEN BULLOCK Special to the Planet
Friday November 12, 2004

Dan: “I know I’m a bastard, but even bastards need friends.” 


Jess (into pocket recorder): “The disease that has shrink-wrapped our souls . . . “ 


An encounter between two old schoolfriends who’ve grown apart leads to a series of strange, even awkwardly funny two-, three- and four-way confrontations in A Step Away, a new play by Myrna Holden, adroitly staged by Central Works at the Berkeley City Club through Nov. 21. 

Dan and Jess (Tom Darci and Soren Oliver) reunite—not quite re-ignite—and Dan spins a web of neediness around Jess, who’s found a life—and a mate, Emma (Jan Zvaifler). 

He’s changed; Dan’s palpably envious and says he wants to change too. He says he’s never had a real relationship. “Haven’t you met women you like?”—“I never met one who liked me back.” Then saying he wants to learn from Jess and Emma—that he just wants to watch them relate and see how it’s done, he wants to live with them. “As a roommate?”—“Is there any other way?”  

Emma isn’t thrilled with these developments, yet has “issues” herself, blaming herself for her brother’s suicide. Through reticence, noncommitment, irritation, she and Jess put Dan off—until he announces things have changed; he has a girlfriend, a “born entertainer,” Tilly (Deborah Fink). Eventually they all meet—and hit it off and, in a way, have fun together. Tilly’s young and frank: “I take money [the same money Dan offered Emma and Jess?]. I take grand gestures. I love grand gestures.” She dances for them, a splayed-limbed belly dance, gawky and sensual (and very funny). But things go to cross-purposes, and the funhouse atmosphere gets a little, well, gamey. 

Gary Graves has directed his tight little ensemble of four very well in this intimate chamber play, using the narrow confines of the room in the City Club (set up like a smaller version of the Aurora—audience on three sides, slightly above the playing area) with complete theatricality, down to the tile floor where the couples socialize. The dialogue can be fascinating; its interest is expanded by the dynamics of gesture and frequent embarrassed hesitations, pushing the story (never really predictable) to the borders of ambiguity, of irony. And the cast is uniformly superb in all their mood swings, their assertiveness and uncertainty. 

Myrna Holden’s script, which Gary Graves notes he became acquainted with in the Berkeley Rep’s Writers Group he conducts, is refreshing, filled with ricocheting dialogue and a wayward, shifting situation that reminds one of the descendants of Strindberg and O’Neill, like Pinter and Albee (and Ingmar Bergman onscreen) who specialized in ritual or game-like encounters between couples where the social masks are torn off on the stages of the 50s and 60s. It’s a half-century later, and A Step Away is a little more reticent, as are the times. The waywardness is checked, and it ends rather suddenly, if gracefully, on an off-beat. 

Myrna Holden’s a psychologist with obvious talent as a writer; perhaps her interest in “the process” occasionally took precedence over the playing out of the situation and the energies revealed. These psyches have become characters, but—in the passive-aggressive manner attributed to them—they seem to pull up a little short. The social milieu’s well-defined (as when Tilly says to Emma: “It stopped being fun. Dan’s insatiable. Time to turn it off. When you eat good food, drink good wine—you just want more of it.”). But there’s something missing—as Dan says in his manipulativeness, “But you don’t agree; you hold something back.” 

That recalcitrance and ambiguity has yet to be converted completely into irony, into an action played out onstage for an audience which has begun to feel (as the characters have—and as Euripides’ plays were described by Antonin Artaud) “we don’t know just where we are anymore.” 

Maybe the scene between Dan and Tilly near the end should be cut (the audience has seen most everything through Jess and Emma’s perspective), and the play—played out a little further, in whatever direction the contradictory forces at work take it, making more of its lineage in dramaturgy. 

But A Step Away is no early draft of a script. At a time when many of the bigger theaters are presenting new plays that are, at the very least, a few workshops away from being stageworthy, Central Works has taken a fascinating text and developed it brilliantly onstage. A Step Away is certainly a play to see—and see again. 


A Step Away, Central Works at the Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant. 558-1381. Tickets $8-$20. Thurs.-Sat. 8 p.m., Sun. 5 p.m., through Nov. 21.›

Coward’s ‘Present Laughter’ Sparkles

By KEN BULLOCK Special to the Planet
Friday November 12, 2004

“There’s something awfully sad about happiness, isn’t there?” 

“What a funny thing to say!” 

“It wasn’t meant to be funny.” 


Noel Coward’s comedy Present Laughter sparkles with dry, off-kilter exchanges like this, a chamber play set in a middle-aging comic actor’s London studio where everyone seems in search of harmony, or at least some sort of refuge from the bedlam their pretensions provoke. Actors Ensemble of Berkeley is staging this gem at Live Oak Theater through Nov. 20. 

Garry Essendine (Louis Schilling) is a popular—and very hammy—comic actor offstage and on. “Everyone adores me!”—“There’s hell to pay if they don’t.” He has a problem—he can’t say no to anyone, in particular the stagestruck young ladies who knock at his dressing-room door. And some—a green dingbat of a playwright (Dan Kurtz), for example—won’t take no for an answer. His coterie of housekeeper, valet, secretary, ex-wife and business partners (Kristen Sawyer, Christian Carpenter, Maureen Coyne, Melanie Curry, David Stein and Steve Schwatz) are genuinely attached to him, though they have no illusions: “Now you’ve gone too far—have you ever seen me overacting?”—“Frequently; in fact, you’re overacting right now”—and labor to save him from more than his own vanity. 

Coward’s plays demand deft and rigorous pacing for the dry lines (“There’s a rather complicated letter about Boy Scouts. To hell with them! Send them some matches.”) and the implications of rather complex situations to play out fully. Formally, his plays are unique: a kind of comedy of manners poised on tiptoe that slouches into farce (at one farcical point, the words of the femme fatale, “She says she feels as though she’s in a French farce,” are conveyed adroitly over a phone with hand over mouthpiece). The dialogue gains its wit not from outrageousness, but from a perfect choice of words as in Restoration Comedy, a diction put together piece-by-piece like a parquet floor. 

With a company assembled from a mix of amateurs and more experienced performers, Actors Ensemble paints the scene with broad strokes; they’re able to hit some of the high notes, but not quite glide through the shifting rhythms of the play. Louis Schilling presides over it all as Garry, though not always as buoyantly as the giddy balloon he’s seen as. Schilling’s operatic experience comes through; sometimes he’s more arch than necessary to play arch and overwrought Garry. He and Christian Carter as his man Fred act with energy throughout.  

Maureen Coyne plays secretary Monica Reed with considerable aplomb, making very real and funny her near-hysteria when patience deserts her. Wendy Welch is effervescent and dizzy—opening the play in Garry’s pajamas, having “lost her latchkey”—which is to say a perfect Daphne, the “debutante” Monica descibes: “That type’s particularly idiotic, and the woods are full of ‘em.” Tanya Lazar-Lea as Joanna (”She’s a scalp hunter, that baby, if I ever saw one”) enters gorgeous, dressed for the kill (she too has lost her key), but can’t muster the decorum of a slightly hackneyed femme fatale. She calls Garry’s bluff, but is trumped by ex-wife Liz (Melanie Curry), who holds all the cards. 

Director Stan Spenger thoughtfully notes in the program, attributing the notion to Melanie Curry, that Coward’s wartime play-without-a-war comes from his genius at fantasy—as a child actor, he played Peter Pan. At the end of the second act, Spenger puts the ensemble through their best, and most fancifully farcical scene, when Peggy De Coursey as Lady Saltburn appears at Garry’s door during much mayhem (“as if it hasn’t been like a wailing wall here all morning!”) to claim an audition for her dolled-up daughter. At that point, all the repetitions and asides come rebounding and Joanna’s parting shot comes all too true: 

“In the circuses that I’m used to, it’s the ringmaster that cracks the whip, not the clown.” 

Noel Coward was more than a little bit of both. 


Present Laughter, Actors Ensemble of Berkeley at Live Oak Theater, Live Oak Park 1301 Shattuck Ave. 649-5999 or www.aeofberkeley.org $10 Fri-Sat (and Nov. 18) 8 p.m.; Nov 14, 2 p.m. through Nov. 20 





An English Ramble: Walking the North York Moors

By MARTA YAMAMOTO Special to the Planet
Friday November 12, 2004

Picture this: Walks across moorland hills, a rich tapestry of color and texture; along meandering streams that cross fertile valleys of rich, green fields and isolated stone farmhouses; undulating footpaths along coastal cliffs overlooking the North Sea and sheltered fishing villages tucked away in protected coves. Returning each day to an eighteenth century Georgian mansion, your bedroom overlooking the Esk Valley and North York Moors National Park. Congenial company, comfort, and invigorating hiking in a dramatic natural setting. 

Having taken previous walking tours in Great Britain, I set out to experience a genuine English ramble, booking with a British firm. I was curious as to how walking with the Brits would compare to trips I had taken with Americans. As we hiked and talked, I considered our similarities and differences, quickly learning that though we all spoke “English” we weren’t necessarily speaking the same language.  

My needs were met with efficiency and friendliness; I was well fed, well exercised and well entertained, free to enjoy the beauty of my surroundings and the personalities of my fellow travelers. The only decisions required of me were my daily food choices and the hike I wanted to join. On each of five days, three were offered, varying in length and ascent. With stops for coffee and a picnic lunch, so as not to get knackered, we would spend each day walking from four to 12 miles, depending on the walk selected, often ending up in a small village or hamlet with time for afternoon tea or a visit to a local pub before the coach returned us to our country hotel. Here I would attempt to follow the maze of hallways and staircases to my “blue” bedroom, furnished in period pieces, bright with light from two large windows, and totally cozy. Brilliant! 

Walking on the moors is like stepping back in time, the vestiges of modern life far from eye or mind on this land seemingly unchanged by time. The North York Moors is England’s largest, unbroken expanse of rolling, heather clad hills, interspersed with rural valleys of lush, fertile greens, woodlands, and stone built villages. Among the 550 square miles are prehistoric sandstone tracks, ancient turf roads, and turnpikes leading from isolated farms to small market towns, as well as ancient crosses and way markers that have been directing moorland walkers for hundreds of years. Where the moorland meets the coast, time and the North Sea have carved out numerous small coves and bays, home to historic ports and fishing havens. 

Each day the coach would transport us to a different area of North Yorkshire. One of our moorland walks began at the Hole of Horcum, in a glacial valley cut by melt waters at the end of the Ice Age. Legend tells of how the devil scooped out this land for his punchbowl, giving rise to its other name, the Devil’s Punchbowl. As we circled the rim of this large natural amphitheater, pant legs carefully tucked into socks as protection against ticks, the somber light accented the colors of the three types of heather with their tiny, bell shaped flowers: reds, pinks, purples, russets, and 20 shades in between. Brisk winds of clean chill air shifted gray clouds to reveal brilliant blue skies, and the temporary warmth of the sun. The loud squawks of native grouse combined with the whoosh of our legs as we followed the narrow path through bilberry and rush grasses. 

At Dundale Pond, dug by monks for watering their stock, we were visited by a Highland cow and her calf, their rich, russet, coats and long curved horns vivid contrasts to the greenery around us. Here we took our morning break and while I, like a good American, drank from one of my two water bottles, my fellow walkers opened rucksacks and brought out their flasks of hot tea or coffee, and various very English snacks. Chocolate covered biscuits are as English as tea; Kit Kat, Twist, and Penguin bars fall somewhere between cookie and candy. Fresh tomatoes are also a popular snack, as well as a favored treat at breakfast or lunch. 

Fortified, we continued along the public footpath into the town of Levisham. 

Throughout the week, these footpaths, which traverse all public and private lands, along with their respective gates and stiles, made the routes of our walks possible as we crossed farmyards, fields, and pasturelands. Our goal was the Levisham Rail Station and the North Yorkshire Moors Steam Train. This popular, heritage railway, manned by volunteers, runs the 18 miles between Grosmont and Pickering. Pride is evident in the pristine condition of the station which sparkles with brightly painted boxcars in blue, green, red and yellow, lush flower boxes and a lovely, wood paneled ladies’ loo. 

The steam train carried us into the market town of Pickering, the gateway to the moors, and one of the oldest towns in the area, having been founded in 270 B.C. It was Market Monday, so I strolled among the stalls of the street and farmers’ market, picking up a warm wool hat to ward off the cold brisk winds. Winding streets led me to Pickering Castle, a traditional motte and bailey castle and royal hunting lodge built in the 12th century on William the Conqueror’s order. From the top of this man-made hill the impressive spire of the church of St. Peter and St. Paul dominates the skyline. Inside I viewed the 15th century frescoes depicting the lives of the saints and martyrs. I had hoped to visit the Beck Isle Museum of rural life with its exhibits of social, domestic and working life during the 18th and 19th centuries, but time was short and I needed to get off my feet. I ended my brief stay in Pickering at a sidewalk café where, feeling a bit peckish, I enjoyed a great cappuccino while I wrote out some long delayed postcards and watched village life flow pass. School had just gotten out and I observed how uniforms seemed to be conforming to modern fashion as young ladies wearing slim, boot leg, black pants, fashionable black shoes, and school sweatshirts laughed with their friends as they headed home. 

Another day, our walk took us to the coast, on a portion of the Cleveland Way, a 110-mile National trail from Hemsley across the Cleveland hills and down the coast to Filey Brigg. We began at Hayburn Wyke, descending through a lush wooded valley, green with ferns, lichens, and hardwood trees, crossing a meandering stream and then ascending man made stairs to Ravenscar, 600 feet above sea level. Here the Romans built a signal station in 367 A.D. as protection from Saxon invaders. At lunch, an utterly British array of sandwiches was taken from rucksacks: peanut butter-tomato, beef-beetroot, and pilchard-sweet pickle. Accompanied by multiflavored crisps, fresh tomatoes, fruit and more chocolate covered biscuits for our sweet, our meal was complete. Our conversation turned to politics and I had the pleasure of explaining California’s upcoming recall election to a populace envious of Americans’ right to remove elected officials from office.  

We followed the public footpath along the undulating cliffs with dramatic views of the North Sea, its waters roughed by the wind. At Stoupe Beck we again descended through dense woodland to the shore, a mosaic of dark exposed stones, sandy strands, and rocky pools. Here we became amateur geologists as we exposed layers of shale in search of ammonite fossils, also finding time to take a paddle in the very cold waters of the sea.  

Our destination was the infamous smugglers’ haunt and fishing port of Robin Hood’s Bay, a short walk down the beach. Established in the late 15th century, many of the tiny cottages here contain secret recesses behind walls or fireplaces where goods were hidden. The village sits in a steep sided ravine, with narrow cobbled streets, winding down to the quay. Fisherman’s cottages, stonewashed and colorful with red tile roofs, are close together in tiers hugging the steep hillsides. After a restorative, and by this time, mandatory, pot of tea in a New Age Bookshop/Café, I wandered along the narrow streets, camera in hand, ending up at the quay. Here I met an American couple from Pennsylvania, celebrating the completion of their English coast-to-coast walk, 190 miles from the Irish Sea at St. Bees to the Bay Hotel in Robin Hood’s Bay.  

Mid week a free day was provided. No events being scheduled, we were on our own. I used this day to explore the charming seaside resort of Whitby, a short walk from the hotel. An important industrial port, shipbuilding town, and whaling center in the 18th and 19th centuries, today its port is mostly used by pleasure craft. Visitors followed the cobbled streets to shops originally set up in Victorian times when craftsmen created jewelry and ornaments from jet, a black gem collected from surrounding beaches. These shops are still busy today selling earrings, pendants and bracelets of carved, polished jet. The harbor, set in the River Esk, which divides the town as it comes down from the moors, was comfortably crowded with visitors enjoying the colorful ships. Others followed the cobbled streets, alleys and many flights of stone steps passed red roofed buildings rising, tier by tier, up to the East and West Cliffs. Still others, myself included, required a fortifying break before ascending to the historic sites at cliff’s top. 

Teahouses fill a critical niche in English life, as much socially as for sustenance. I began my day at the Whitby Tea Room savoring a pot of tea and a cream scone, a confection I can only enjoy in the U.K. With lace curtains, pine wainscoting, and the slowly rotating heads of William Shakespeare and Captain Cook, keeping an eye on my cream consumption, I enjoyed a pleasant interlude before climbing the 199 steps up Church St. to the East Cliff. 

The Church of St. Mary is unique, with its ship’s deck roof, triple-decker pulpit, and wood interior fitted by shipbuilders. It is easy to imagine its enclosed galleries containing ancient mariners and townspeople listening to the rector’s Sunday sermon, while his deaf wife made use of an avant-garde ear trumpet. Outside, among ancient, crooked gravestones, the views are expansive toward the harbor and town below, and out to the North Sea.  

The stark ruins nearby are the remains of Whitby Abbey, founded in 657 A.D., sacked by the Vikings in 870 A.D. and rebuilt as a Benedictine Abbey in the 11th century. The visitor center with museum quality exhibits, artifacts, and interactive displays allows visitors to gain information and feel a participant in the abbey and monastic life. The audio program I listened to while touring the abbey grounds provided first hand narratives about daily life, history, and related topics. Complete with sound effects, the actors’ voices had me thoroughly absorbed, taken back in time to the hard life of Brother Gervase while surrounded by the massive walls of the abbey and the calling of the gulls. 

Mile upon mile of open space atop the moors and overlooking the sea; an area described as desolate by some and romantic by others. For me, a week where mind and body escaped the minutia of everyday life. A sole, but not lonely, American among an interesting, inspiring group of keen ramblers, fit into their 70s and 80s. While my pronunciation of British words was usually wrong, and I missed most jokes, I added to my vocabulary. Among “reserved” Brits, this curmudgeon participated in nightly organized team competitions, quizzes, games and country dancing. To my surprise, I also won first place in the limerick competition. With walking holidays offered throughout Great Britain, Europe, and beyond, everyone in the group were veterans. I determined to join them and enthusiastically sign up for another English ramble. Lovely and a bit of all right!  





Yorkshire is accessible by train, bus, or car. Trains run frequently between London and York, at the heart of Yorkshire, and take about 2 hours. From York to Whitby is 1 hour by car. Rail travel will take you to Scarborough, from there transfer to Whitby by coach or taxi. Manchester Airport is a closer alternative when traveling in the North Country. 



Larpool Hall, Larpool Lane, Whitby, North Yorkshire, YO22 4ND, phone (01947) 602 737 

This trip was taken through hf Holidays Ltd, Imperial House, Edgeware Road, London NW9 5AL, website: www.hfholiday.co.uk, e-mail: info@hfholidays.co.uk. Americans can book directly or through Canada using Teachers Travel Services, Tel: 1 800 268 7229, e-mail: info @teacherstravel.com. Tours are offered throughout Great Britain and Europe, from March to November. Seven night tours in Great Britain average between L400 and L500 ($640-$800) 



North York Moors National Park: 30 miles north of York. Primary gateways to the park are York to the south and Middlesbrough to the north. National Park Information Centers at Danby (Tel: 01287 660 654) and Sutton Bank (Tel: 01845 597 426). Both open daily March-Dec., weekends only Jan.- Feb. The Moors & Coast visitor guide (50p), available at Tourist Information Centers and National Park Information Centers is very useful. 

North York Moors Steam Train: runs 18 miles through North York Moors National Park between Grosmont and Pickering. (Tel: 01751 472 508), talking timetable (473 535). 3-7 return trips late Mar.-Oct. daily; Nov.-Dec. most weekends; Jan.-Feb. select holidays. All-day rover tickets L10, children L5, seniors L8.50, family tickets from L23. Single tickets also available. 

Pickering Castle: in Pickering, 15 miles SW of Scarborough. Open daily, closed Dec. 24-26, Jan.1. Adult L2.60, children L1.30, family ticket L6.50. (Tel: 01751 474 989) 

Whitby Abbey: at cliff top above the town of Whitby. Open daily. Adults L3.80, children L1.90, family ticket L9.50. (Tel: 01947 603 568)  

Church of St. Mary: next to abbey. Open July-Aug. 10 a.m.-5 p.m., closes 2 p.m. in winter. Suggested donation L1. (Tel: 01947 603 421) 




Richmond Takes A Piece of Pie: By BECKY O'MALLEY

Tuesday November 16, 2004

Richmond City Councilmember Tom Butt is an avid e-mailer. Every day, often twice a day, he fires off bulletins to his long list of correspondents with his opinions on topics of the day, links to stories in the press about Richmond, and sometimes even major documents like Chevron’s contract proposal for Point Molate. Last week he wondered in print why the Berkeley Daily Planet has taken such an interest in Richmond lately. “I would like to think it’s because there is a lot of news here,” he said. 

That’s true. There’s been so much going on in Richmond recently that it has from time to time consumed almost the full-time efforts of one seasoned reporter plus the part-time efforts of another one and a good effort from a diligent student at UC’s journalism school. And we could do more, if we had the resources. But for the Planet it’s more than just trying to fill our little news hole.  

We see the whole bayside corridor, at least from Richmond all the way down to the southern reaches of Oakland, as part of a web of interlocking issues which concern all of us. It’s not a seamless web: The many jurisdictions which line this stretch of shoreline have differing views of what the proper role of government should be on given controversial topics. But we’re more like each other than we’re like the folks on “the other side of the hill,” who tend to be less ethnically, economically and culturally diverse than us bay-siders. Our open space, what there is of it, boasts gorgeous views of the bay, but has been compromised in great part by irresponsible industrial users, and now needs to be reclaimed for citizens. The citizens themselves, in many areas, have been left behind when employers moved on, so the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of people who came here 60 years ago to support World War II in good factory jobs are now struggling to find any kind of work. 

All of us, no matter where we live, whether in Oakland or Berkeley or El Cerrito or Richmond, have a stake in what becomes of the bay shore. It’s our birthright, and all of us need to work together to make sure that some of us don’t just sell it off to meet current financial obligations, like Esau in the Bible, a poor brother who sold his birthright to his clever brother Jacob for “a mess of pottage”—a bowl of stew which fed him for only one day. In this economy, when the state and national governments seem to have abdicated their responsibility to provide for the common good, the pressure on local governments to cash out right now to put some stew on the table is fierce.  

But Richmond’s Point Molate deal, while understandable, looks like it could easily amount to even less than a mess of pottage in the long run. What it looks like, to many of us observers who are lucky enough not to have make such decisions, is the “pie in the sky by and by” in Wobbly Joe Hill’s song about the blandishments of capitalism. New Richmond City Councilmember Gayle McLaughlin, a Green, has the shrewdest take on the competing offers from Harrah’s and Chevron: they’re both suspect. The Levine-Upstream-Harrah’s crowd might never find a complicit group of Native Americans to back their casino, and if so Richmond would get a lot of upscale condos which would eventually demand more in services than they paid in property taxes, and provide no good jobs for residents. Chevron—but why would anyone trust an oil company? Chevron’s vague offer to keep Point Molate as open space could end up with parking lots surrounded by chain link fences under pressure from the anti-terrorism hysteria. 

The two offers look a lot like two different flavors of pie in the sky, and five years hence, when Richmond again looks to put dinner on the table, the down payments will be eaten up and the cupboard will be bare once again. The magnificent bay front sites which are jurisdictionally in Richmond could be around to sustain our children and our grandchildren and their children if we conserve them prudently. All of us, wherever we live, need to support McLaughlin and her colleagues in the Richmond Progressive Alliance in their goal of cleaning up the finances of the city of Richmond so that short-term sell-offs of precious resources like this aren’t a temptation.  


—Becky O’Malley 


Editorial:Campaign Finance Revisited

By Becky O'Malley
Friday November 12, 2004

Whatever happened to Measure H? It was supposed to be a slam-dunk good-government measure that Berkeley voters would certainly support: campaign financing for all, leveling the playing field, taking money out of politics. Supporters sent the Planet a passel of literate, well-reasoned opinion pieces. We got some full-page ads. Letters came home in the mail outlining why thinking people would have to vote yes on H. The Berkeley vote was billed as an opening salvo in a national movement to “clean up politics.” But Berkeleyans didn’t buy it. Measure H went down badly, getting only 40 percent of the vote. Why? 

The easiest explanation is that that it was effectively an expenditure at a time when even Berkeley voters were thinking about saving money. Berkeleyans Against Soaring Taxes (BASTA), the anti-tax crowd, included Measure H on their very effective Vote-NO lawn signs. The voters, perhaps, were not in a mood to pay for anything new, since they also turned down libraries, kids and paramedics at the same time.  

A cursory glance at the city clerk’s list of those who contributed to the Berkeley Fair Elections Coalition’s Yes on H campaign shows that supporters came from all sorts of places: campaign consultants, high-priced lawyers, academics, computer types—but with a notable absence of the usual suspects. This did not seem to be a project funded by players to ensure their place on the ballot in the future. The contributors whose names we recognized were diverse and for the most part sincere.  

The organization’s web page boasted a really extraordinary list of progressive supporters, from Barbara Lee on down, with organizations such as the Sierra Club, Common Cause—you name it, they got them. Lee even supplied a well-placed pro-H op-ed to the Chronicle.  

The BFEC web page offered canned letters to the editor for supporters to crib from. Lucky for them that the Planet didn’t catch them at that before the election, since we’re allergic to the canned letter dodge even on behalf of “progressive” causes. This might, in fact, explain why the campaign was such a notable flop. It was perhaps another case of too many generals leading too few troops into possibly dubious battle. 

There’s another obvious explanation for why campaign financing didn’t catch on in Berkeley, at least this round. Many long-time observers of the political process have come to the conclusion that the main problem with campaign financing is—campaign financing. The political process which used to be fueled by volunteers has been turned over to often sleazy “consultants” who will work for anyone at a price. This causes candidates to spend more money than they need to, and to have less contact with voters. Proponents of H pointed to its provision which required candidates to get a substantial number of small contributions before qualifying for city funding, but that misses the point. New technologies make it possible to reach many voters without spending much money, if you have enough shoe leather donated to distribute handouts and can use a computer, and MoveOn.org’s record suggests that this might be a better way to go. Money in campaigns can easily distort them, and this can be true even if the money comes from taxes instead of from obvious interest groups. 

People who went to swing states to work against Bush came back with such critiques of the organizations they worked with. In general, MoveOn’s grassroots style got good reviews, while the Democratic National Committee, America Coming Together and the League of Conservation Voters efforts were panned by volunteers for being too top-down and too heavily staffed by inept paid workers who fell all over each other and didn’t get the job done. 

A lot of money was contributed to Kerry in this election, and a lot of observers are starting to complain that it was poorly spent. Perhaps after the dust settles we can learn something from these experiences.