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Richard Brenneman: 
          The “flying cottage,” a Shattuck Avenue home elevated atop two stories built last year, was roundly assailed by neighbors, who want to see the structure scaled down to fit into their neighborhood of century-old one- and two-story homes. o
Richard Brenneman: The “flying cottage,” a Shattuck Avenue home elevated atop two stories built last year, was roundly assailed by neighbors, who want to see the structure scaled down to fit into their neighborhood of century-old one- and two-story homes. o


Design Panel Slams Latest ‘Flying Cottage’ Plan By RICHARD BRENNEMAN

Tuesday December 21, 2004

City Design Review Committee (DRC) members got their first glimpse Thursday at the latest plans for the “floating cottage” at 3045 Shattuck Ave., and they didn’t like what they saw. 

“Grossly overdone,” said chair David Snippen. 

“An ugly facade with no architectural features,” said David Blake, referring to the structure’s second floor. 

“This takes a really wrong turn. . .a detriment to the neighborhood,” said member Carrie Olson. 

“It’s an awful design,” said Bob Allen. 

The same panel sang the praises of the Berkeley Bowl proposed for Ninth Street and Heinz Avenue in West Berkeley, giving preliminary approval to it and three other projects: 

• Satellite Housing’s plans for an 80-unit senior residential facility at 1535 University Ave. 

• A three-story, eight-unit residential project at 1406 San Pablo Ave. 

• The landscaping and fencing plans for Congregation Beth El. 

For first-time owner/builder Christina Sun, it was not the first time that her plywood-clad box at Shattuck Avenue and Essex Street has drawn withering criticism. 

The problems began last year when she hired an architect and a contractor to raise the existing cottage, mounting it atop a two-story shell built on a new, enlarged foundation. 

Irate neighbors called the city, and an investigation disclosed inconsistencies on Sun’s building permit application, declaring that the finished product would be a single-family home, and not the multiple-occupancy dwelling with a ground floor shop she set out to build. 

Because the conversion required a use permit and approval from the city Zoning Adjustments Board (ZAB), city officials shut down construction and ZAB subsequently declared the structure a public nuisance. 

The city did allow Sun to cover gaps in the cottage’s roof with plywood and plastic sheeting to keep out winter rains. An inspection later revealed she’d laid down roofing paper, the first step in installing shingles, so the city ordered the work halted. 

“There’s been a problem with her truthfulness or lack thereof,” Senior Planner Debra Sanderson told the Daily Planet at the time. 

Speaking for Sun at the meeting was her architect, Andus Brandt of Berkeley, who acknowledged that the designs “were not the most creative solution.” 

“She was not a devious developer,” Brandt said. “Her original intent was to strengthen the foundation, and the plan-checker [at the city Permit Service Center] told her she could have two [extra] floors by carefully avoiding aspects that would trigger a plan check.” 

The architect said that neither he nor Sun had any idea that the ensuing project “would be such that it would lead to the revocation of the [building] permit over a year ago.” 

The main difference between the old design and his newer version, he said, was it added more windows to the ground floor commercial space and four more street trees. 

Brandt didn’t win over project neighbors, who heaped scorn on his client. 

“We don’t believe anything she says.” said Victoria Ortiz, a Shattuck Avenue neighbor. 

Ortiz was one of a group of neighbors who led the drive to close the liquor store at the northeast corner of Shattuck and Essex, directly across the street from the flying cottage. 

“Four months later, another form of blight disrupted our way of life,” she said, waving pictures of the structure. 

“The building’s architecture is completely out of place, and the property is way too tall. . .The neighborhood feels passionately about this.” 

Particularly vexing, she said, was Sun’s refusal to negotiate: “After one session, she refused any more mediation.” 

“Send it back to the drawing board,” Ortiz urged. 

Ava Jordain, who lives on Essex Street just east of the building, said she “was so angry when she raised this thing. I felt so powerless.” 

One of her worries was the project’s effect on parking on her street, which, unlike many other streets in the south of Ashby neighborhood, isn’t restricted to two-hour stays by residential parking permits. 

“It’s totally taken up during the day by BART commuters,” Jordain said. “Then between 5:45 and 6:45 p.m. it’s almost empty until it fills up again because of La Peña and the Starry Plough,” two popular South Berkeley gathering places. 

“The 2100 block also hosts the community hot tub, so we have all these visitors who know the code.” 

“What’s the code?” quipped committee member David Blake. 

Because the ground floor retail space would be less than 1,500 square feet, Sun doesn’t have to supply a parking space for commercial customers. 

Jack Appleyard, another neighbor, aimed his critique at the architecture. 

“It may not be the ugliest building in Berkeley, but it’s desperately trying to be,’ he said. “Jacking up a bungalow to three stories is something new, and it’s a horrible precedent for Shattuck Avenue. Would you like it in your block?” 

At the end of the meeting, as committee members laid out the specifics of what they wanted to see, Brandt sat in his chair in the audience, knitting. 

When a photographer attempted to snap a shot, a woman seated beside him grabbed at the camera. 

Committee members also had problems with Prince Hall Arms, a four-story 42-unit senior citizen residential building with street-front commercial space at 3132 Martin Luther King Jr. Way. 

A retirement facility sponsored by an African-American Masonic organization, the project was originally approved in 1995 but never built. 

Osha Neumann, a Berkeley artist and civil rights attorney who owns a Victorian adjacent to the site on the north, spoke in opposition, 

“It will be the end of the sunlight for me,” he said. Neumann asked for modifications that would either reduce the project’s overall height or provide more light to his home. 

But what committee members disliked most were the project’s rather exuberant color scheme—“It looks like how my daughter dressed when she was nine years old,” quipped member Carrie Olson—and its use of corrugated metal siding in a neighborhood filled with turn-of-the-20th-century buildings. 

The committee sent the project back to the drawing board..

Complaints From Residents Spark Changes at Senior Home By MATTHEW ARTZ

Tuesday December 21, 2004

Rita Garcia knew the senior housing complex where she lived couldn’t go much longer without a resident manager the day she locked her keys in her apartment last August. 

Receiving no response from the building’s emergency number, Garcia, a 67-year-old security guard, had to catapult her 11-year-old grandson through her open window to let her inside. 

“It’s a good thing he’s so thin,” said Garcia, who has a laundry list of complaints about her current home. “There’s no management here, period.” 

Garcia is one of several tenants who have issued written complaints to Affordable Housing Associates (AHA), the owner and manager of Shattuck Senior Homes at 2425 Shattuck Ave. bemoaning the upkeep of the building and the absence of a resident manager, responsible for repairs and maintenance, since August. 

Frustrations over the lack of a manager reached a crescendo Nov. 27 when a PG&E power outage disabled the elevator. 

Because the stairwell doors were locked from the inside, allowing residents to exit only on the ground floor, those who were already downstairs or outside couldn’t use the stairs to return to their apartments. 

Residents called the fire department, which arrived only to find that the master key didn’t work, forcing tenants to wait until a tenant still in her apartment opened the stairwell door from the inside hall, allowing other residents back into their apartments. 

“We screwed up,” said AHA Senior Property Supervisor Angela Cavanaugh. She said that AHA, a nonprofit developer and building manager, forgot to replace the outdated master key. 

After a lengthy search, AHA introduced a new resident manager last week, its first in four months. “We apologize that it has taken so long, but it hasn’t been easy finding a qualified person and we wanted to do right by you,” AHA Executive Director Susan Friedland told 10 tenants at a meeting last week. 

This past weekend Kenneth Stanley, the newly hired resident manager, re-keyed the building so that tenants can now open stairwell doors on each floor from inside the stairwell, giving them access to other floors. AHA started locking the doors several years ago after the fire marshall complained that tenants created a fire hazard by propping them open, Cavanaugh said.  

Complaints about the building encompassed more than access from the stairwell and the lack of a resident manager. Several residents in private interviews complained that the building’s community room was locked for days at a time, the emergency number often failed to yield a return call, puddles formed in the lobby after heavy rains, repair requests dragged on indefinitely and the garbage room on occasion overflowed with trash. 

A walk through the building two weeks ago showed a clean garbage room and no puddles, but dirty floors and mildew stained siding. 

“I’ve seen the building go from bad to worse,” said Garcia, who has lived in her studio apartment for two years.  

Susanne Yenne, who has lived in Shattuck Senior Homes since it opened in 1998, said that for more than half of the building’s existence, there hasn’t been a resident manager who lived on-site. 

Cavanaugh insisted that the emergency number worked and that the building was well maintained, but attributed many of the other complaints to the lack of a resident manager. 

“I don’t know what it was between August and November, but no one was responding to the job listing,” she said. To ensure qualified applicants, Cavanaugh said, AHA made the position full-time and required the manager to have more repair skills. 

Berkeley law requires resident managers for all apartments with more than 16 units. Steve Barton, the city’s housing director, said buildings typically take a few months to replace an outgoing manager and that AHA had a sound track record for maintaining its buildings. 

A routine housing inspection conducted last February found minor violations in five units, mostly related to broken front doors and windows. All of the citations were fixed when housing inspectors returned in April. 

In addition to finding a resident manager, AHA has also struggled to find a property rental manager, which Cavanaugh blames in part for AHA’s failure to fill the building’s four vacant units.  

AHA recently assigned a new property manager for the building and Cavanaugh said that the organization was finishing the paperwork to bring two new tenants into the building. 

Rent for about one-third of the tenants at Shattuck Senior Homes is paid by the federal government’s Section 8 program, up three-fold from when the building opened six years ago. Because the government pays landlords market rents for Section 8 tenants, they are more lucrative for nonprofit developers than standard rentals, which are subsidized at a lower level from a variety of sources. 

AHA receives $988 from the federal government for every Section 8 rental and charges $650 for a non-Section 8 tenant. 

At last week’s meeting Stanley, the new resident manager, who has 20 years in construction, promised tenants he would address their maintenance concerns. “I’m here to keep this place up and be here for you when you need me,” he said. 

For Armenta Shaw, a tenant who attended last week’s meeting, Stanley’s assurance was a sign for guarded optimism that improvements are on the way. 

“I’m hoping, but I have to see it first,” she said. 










Landlord Sweetens the Deal for Tenants By MATTHEW ARTZ

Tuesday December 21, 2004

When it comes to Berkeley landlords, Mark Tarses breaks the mold. 

By time Christmas arrives, Tarses estimates he will have given away 1,500 pounds of homemade chocolate this year, most of it to his 27 tenants. 

“I go overboard trying to make people happy,” Tarses said Saturday as he peeled a freshly chilled milk chocolate Eiffel Tower from a plastic mold and placed it on a shelf beside several chocolate pandas, above 30 other specialty made confections. 

Tarses’ South Berkeley home resembles a Homer Simpson fantasy. The living room counters and drawers are packed with figurines of Marge, Bart and Lisa, remnants from his failed bid to sell paraphernalia from his favorite show online, but the kitchen is 100 percent chocolate. 

At Christmastime, Tarses accelerates his year-round chocolate making operation, working several hours a day to make sure his tenants, plumbers, electricians and friends have a sweet holiday season. 

“He’s the best landlord we could ever ask for,” said Jackson Cone, a UC Berkeley junior, whose goody bag from Tarses for Christmas weighed about five pounds. Cone said chocolate had been at the center of their business relationship since day one. 

“He lured us in with chocolate-covered cherries,” he said of the Ashby Avenue apartment above Tarses’ residence. “The lease was laid out with the cherries in the center.” 

Cone said he and his roommates haven’t been shy about raiding their landlord’s stash if they are having guests or need a party favor. 

“I’m shocked by how much he lets us take,” he said. 

Tarses is an unlikely landlord and chocolatier. Now 59, he moved to Berkeley in 1970 from his hometown Baltimore, Md. “with $100 and a suitcase.” He said he first worked at the original Mel’s Diner and The Station restaurant and within a year he bought a triplex on Hearst Avenue for $37,000, with a $2,000 down payment. 

After a string of random jobs ended mostly with pink slips, Tarses decided to devote his energies to owning property. 

“You can’t fire your landlord,” Tarses said, “and besides I knew being a landlord was something I enjoyed and was good at.” He said he has never evicted a tenant or been sued by one. 

Tarses, who said he has always had a sweet tooth, didn’t start handing out chocolate until around 1980. At about that time, he made his tenants Christmas baskets filled with chocolate caramel pecan “turtles”—his lone recipe back then. 

They were grateful, he said, but not satiated. 

“As long as something is free the demand will always rise,” Tarses said.  

He now buys his chocolate in 500 pound boxes and packages his treats in specially made wrappers and tins that sport the name of his non-profit enterprise, “The Berkeley Nut Factory.” 

Tarses spends about $3,000 a year on ingredients. He said he has never sold his chocolate and doubted he could turn a profit if he tried to market it. He does, however, recoup some of the expense as a tax write-off. Tarses makes sure to include chocolate as a service in every rental agreement. 

“Any expense a businessman incurs to maintain income is deductable,” he said. “It’s no different than agreeing to pay for your tenants’ gardening.” 

Tarses insists he provides his tenants with chocolate made from the finest ingredients. He buys chocolate from The Guittard Chocolate Company, a Bay Area institution since the 19th Century, his fruits and nuts from Trader Joe’s and includes plenty of cocoa butter, a pricey item missing from most of the chocolate Santas on supermarket shelves. 

For fancy treats like the Eiffel tower, Tarses has a $1,000 chocolate vibrating table that shakes out air bubbles and forces the liquid chocolate into the mold. 

Tarses said several of his confections are tips from friends in the business including the owners of Spun Sugar, the Berkeley candy making store, or from his own experimentation. 

His chocolate biscotti truffles, for instance, came from adding a twist to a traditional biscotti recipe. 

“It called for one pound of chocolate for every 10 pounds of biscotti, so I reversed it,” Tarses said. “I think the end product is much better.” 

Many of his recent creations are the result of trying to satisfy an increasingly diverse set of tenants. When his first Muslim tenant moved in, Tarses switched to a kosher gelatin that used fish instead of pig by-product, which is prohibited to devout Muslims and Jews. He claims to make the only Rocky Road in the Bay Area devoid of pig snout, the part of the pig most often used to make gelatin in marshmellows. 

This year Tarses searched the Internet for a traditional Mexican flavor to please a new tenant and came up with cinnamon butter toffee almonds. 

He hasn’t been able to make enough.  

Tarses said he urged the tenant, one of eight brothers and sisters, to take home bags of treats for his entire family to have at Christmas. Tarses said he hoped the family would enjoy it. 

“Having people feel well of me, that’s important,” he said. “I believe good will matters.” 








Parents Fume Over Oakland School for the Arts Miscues By J. DOUGLAS ALLEN-TAYLOR

Tuesday December 21, 2004

A group of disillusioned parents of students at Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown’s Oakland School for the Arts (OSA) charter school have issued a scathing “Report Card 2004” on the school, blasting OSA for everything from unqualified teachers to undisclosed fees to what it calls “academic labeling of students.” 

The report card, issued anonymously on a one-page sheet of paper, has been circulated for the past three weeks in coffee shops, community centers, middle schools, and other areas in Oakland and Berkeley. It cautions prospective parents and students to “make a fully informed decision to avoid dissatisfaction” and says that its findings “reflect the experiences of a growing number of current and former OSA parents and students who wish they knew then, what they know now.” 

The report card results from what some OSA parents say is a “quickly growing frustration” with the school. Several of the parents involved—who asked to remain anonymous because they said they feared that the school would retaliate against their children—say that after three months of attendance, they are actively seeking to get their students out of OSA even before the school year ends. 

In an e-mailed response to the Daily Planet, OSA Director Loni Berry said, “It is helpful to get feedback as to how we might improve. It would be preferable for the parents who are circulating this document to express their concerns to the Oakland School for the Arts (OSA) administration. We are hopeful that our lines of communication with these parents will grow to parallel the many other successes at OSA. OSA has an impressive record. Certainly, there have been unforeseen challenges and setbacks; however, these start-up growing pains are not to be misconstrued as systematic institutional flaws.” 

In interviews concerning the report card, parents issuing the report said that they had repeatedly brought up their concerns to Berry and OSA Assistant Director Taura Musgrove, but said that their complaints had not been addressed by the school administration. 

“We brought these things up at parent meetings and in e-mails and letters and conferences,” one parent said. “They just didn’t respond.” 

The Oakland School for the Arts was chartered by the Oakland Unified School District in 2000 after a highly-public lobbying campaign by Mayor Brown, and Brown serves as the chairperson of its Board of Directors. The school originally opened in the fall of 2002 with only a freshman class of 102, adding a class each year to its present complement of 9th, 10th, and 11th grades. For its first two years, OSA operated out of the renovated basement and storefront space of the Alice Arts Center in downtown Oakland (since renamed the Malonga Casquelord Center). This fall, in anticipation of an eventual move into the old Fox Oakland Theater on Telegraph Avenue, the school moved into a newly-constructed portables complex behind the Fox and across from the Oakland Ice Center. 

The new school location formed part of the core of the parent complaints. “When the school was at Alice Arts,” one parent said, “we had the use of the auditorium there. Now the kids have no place to perform until the auditorium is completed.” In addition, the parents complained that students were isolated in the maze of portables dotting the new property. 

Students are admitted to OSA by auditioning in the various areas of the arts, including acting, dance, music and creative writing. On its website, the school indicates that it is a no-tuition school with a curriculum that blends art and academics, allowing students “focused training that will enable them to compete and succeed.” 

The parent report card disputes that website claim. 

Among other things, the report card criticizes the arts school for “difficulty attracting and retaining fully qualified and experienced staff,” “little opportunity [for incoming freshmen] to showcase their talents,” and an academic tracking system that it says makes “many [students] feel segregated and inadequate.” It also cautions parents to “be on guard for the carefully crafted wording of...requests for payment” for what it calls “hidden expenses.” 

Privately, the parents issuing the report card describe a school in virtual chaos, with a rapid turnover in both administrators and teachers, and many students bailing out as soon as they can find accommodation in other schools. 

“If I had known these things before my daughter signed up, we wouldn’t have chosen to let her go there,” one parent said. “Our expectations were violated. I feel swindled and betrayed.” 

The parent said that she had been attempting to transfer her daughter to Skyline High School in Oakland, which has a performing arts program. “But I was told that Skyline has too many students, and we can’t get in this year,” she said. “That’s the only reason she’s still at OSA. In any case, this is my daughter’s first and last year at the school.” 

Statistics from the California Department of Education list 93 9th grade and 83 10th grade students in the school year 2003-04, but parents say that the 2003-04 10th grade class—now in the 11th grade—has dwindled to less than 50. 

Berry acknowledged that student loss, but explained that it was normal in an arts school. “While student attrition rate is indeed significant,” he wrote, “the unique nature of the institution must be considered. Some students enroll in OSA only to discover that they prefer a more traditional high school experience, with shorter hours and a range of extra-curricular activities. OSA is holding true to high expectations in academics, arts and conduct. The challenge of this school is not for all students.” 

A 2003-04 report from the Department of Education showed that of six teachers listed at the school that year, only one had a full credential. Five were operating under emergency credentials. The Department of Education allows emergency teaching credentials to be issued for one year to individuals with a bachelor’s degree, who have passed the California Basic Educational Skills Test, and who have “taken classes that demonstrate minimum competency in the subject matter being taught.” 

One parent said that in the four months since her daughter entered OSA last August, both her science and her English teachers have left the school. She said that for a brief period of time Dean of Aacademic Affairs Peter Dragula filled in as English teacher until a replacement teacher was hired. The parent said that the second teacher later left the school, and her daughter is now on her third English teacher for the year. 

In answer, Berry wrote that “the faculty and staff turnover rate is higher than we would like.” He added, however, that “of the 13 full-time faculty members for the 2003-2004 school year, 10 chose to return this year.”  

Administrative turnover is also an issue, parents said. In a one week-period between the end of October and the beginning of November, both Dragula and OSA Dean of Students Amy Chan left the school. 

Berry said that to “address the concerns regarding the deans” OSA subsequently “restructured its administrative staff” by eliminating the positions, replacing them with assistant directors. 

Another parent complained that teachers at OSA were “too young or too inexperienced; they are coming directly out of college or out of their arts field with no idea how to deal with the problems facing 14- and 15-year-old children, how to teach them or how to discipline them. They end up sending students out of class for the smallest offense. Sometimes you go up to the school, and five to 10 students are lined up at the administration office, waiting for some sort of discipline. That’s a lot for a small school of motivated students.” 

One parent said that Dean Dragula’s resignation came in the uproar over the charging of a $25 fee for a textbook called “The Humanistic Tradition.” In a letter to parents dated Sep. 8, Director Berry called the book “a common text—to be used by each OSA student.” A month later, a second parent letter from Berry noted that “although it was announced in a recent PTA meeting that the book...is not mandatory for students, I strongly recommend that your student have this book. Teachers will assign work related to the readings in this text...” 

But while Berry said that “The Humanistic Tradition” was not mandatory, the school’s Department of Romance Languages lists the text as one of the “required course materials” for French classes to be taken in the fall of this year. 

“The issue is not the $25,” the parent said. “But this is supposed to be a public school, and required books are supposed to be provided by the school. We’ve already paid for that book with our taxes.” 

Director Berry said, in his eimail to the Daily Planet, “OSA does not require payment for required textbooks or materials necessary for OSA students. ... This past semester was the first time the textbook was used, on a trial basis. Now that we have documented success with the text, we are committed to its use and it will be distributed to all students at no cost.” 

Berry indicated in his e-mail that “copies of the referenced material were made available for all students.” But on Oct. 29 he sent a third letter to OSA parents “highly recommending” again that they purchase the book “as copying selected passages for student use is much too expensive.” 

Berry said OSA was in compliance with California law with regards to teachers with full state teaching credentials, but declined to give details about those credentials.  

“OSA’s compliance with California education law is closely monitored by Oakland Unified School District.” he said. “The District’s support for OSA’s overall performance has been validated by the recent renewal (Dec. 15) of the charter for another five years.”

Critics Win New Victory in Campus Bay Cleanup By RICHARD BRENNEMAN

Tuesday December 21, 2004

The constant flow of heavily loaded trucks scheduled to move out of Campus Bay this week marks a second partial victory for critics of the marshland cleanup at the heavily contaminated Richmond site. 

The state Department of Toxics Substances Control (DTSC) announced Friday that developer Cherokee Simeon Ventures would begin preparations to haul polluted marsh muck off the site starting the next morning. 

More than 100 trucks a day are expected to make the run between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. over the next two to three weeks, according to a DTSC site status report. 

Their payloads will be covered with tarps and trucks themselves will be decontaminated before they can be driven off the site. 

DTSC staff will be on hand throughout to monitor decontamination and to make sure dust control and air monitoring measures are properly implemented, said department spokesperson Angel Blanchette. 

The move was welcomed by activists in Bay Area Residents for Responsible Development (BARRD), a community group which has become the focal point for critics of the cleanup efforts at the site of the former chemical manufacturing complex. 

Cherokee Simeon Ventures plans to build a 1,330-unit housing complex atop a mound of 330,000 cubic yards of buried waste generated by the 100 years of chemical production by Stauffer Chemicals and successor Zeneca Inc. 

The current excavations are concentrated at Stege Marsh, a wetlands between the upland site of the former plants and the waters of San Francisco Bay. 

Crews had been hauling the excavated marsh soils to a recently opened section of the buried mound, where they were to be transferred in the spring after they had dried and been mixed with lime to neutralize the acids leached out of iron pyrite cinders generated by the production of sulphuric acid. 

Those soils will be moved after the current operation ends, said a DTSC spokesperson. 

BARRD activists Sherry Padgett, UC Berkeley Professor Claudia Carr and others had decried the process, which is being conducted under the auspices of the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board. 

Critics did succeed in forcing the handover of control over the upland portion of the site from the water board and into the hands of DTSC, but they remained convinced that the toxics agency should be controlling all aspects of the project. 

“We’re really glad that they’re hauling it out, but am I still at risk? I just don’t know,” Padgett said. 

Padgett, the chief financial officer for Kray Cabling, a firm located just outside the site, has suffered from a variety of cancers and medical problems she believes may have resulted from years of 16-hour days working near the site. 

Padgett remains critical of air monitoring at the site, which she said has yet to include real-time measurements and an expansion of the chemicals included in the monitoring. 

“They still haven’t included PCBs, a hazardous compound which earlier surveys had found at the site, and they haven’t added the additional monitors they promised,” Padgett said. 

Critics living and working near the site have reported smelling chemical scents, and the DTSC reported that on a site visit Thursday, both their inspectors and Cherokee Simeon representatives had smelled odors emanating from the marsh excavation. 

As a result, DTSC asked that the moment odors were detected, crews should cover that portion of the site with fresh earth and implement odor mitigation measures. 

DTSC officials responded to another complaint Wednesday regarding dust blowing off the site, which is prohibited. They ordered additional watering of roadways at the site and a slowdown of street sweepers. 

“We’re still not where I expected we’d be by this time,” said Padgett. 

Peter Weiner, a San Francisco attorney who has been representing BARRD, said the Cherokee Simeon and DTSC’s moves constituted “generally positive developments.” 

“We’re also very pleased that they are going to be monitoring the excavated material with photoionization detectors to make sure that they’re giving off no untoward volatile organic compounds (VOCs),” Weiner said. 

VOCs constitute a class of particularly nasty chemicals which can become airborne. 

“All in all, the level of attention the DTSC is paying to problems at the site is far more than before,” he said. 

Among Weiner’s concerns about the current phase of operations are plans to mix the excavated soils with lime to neutralize the acids. 

“Lime is corrosive, and we want to make sure that people are not going to be exposed to it,” he said. 

As of late last weeks, the trucks were scheduled to haul their loads to the Keller Canyon Landfill near Pittsburgh. 

Just where DTSC will dispatch the already excavated soils now stored on the upland site remains to be determined, she said.

BUSD Wins Measure A Funding For 3 School Nurses By J. DOUGLAS ALLEN-TAYLOR

Tuesday December 21, 2004

An Alameda County bond measure passed this year primarily to shore up Highland Hospital will now be used to put three nurses in Berkeley public schools. 

BUSD Director Shirley Issel announced at last week’s board of directors meeting that Measure A money would be used to fund the nurses. 

While public debate has centered on the 75 percent of the bond measure funds earmarked for the Alameda County Medical Center (generally Highland Hospital), the remaining funds are being allocated by the Alameda County Board of Supervisors for, among other things, “critical medical services provided by community-based health care providers” as well as for “essential public health services.” 

“Clearly, school nurse services fall under that category,” Issel said following the meeting. 

She also issued a statement through BUSD’s public information office, stating that “the ‘health gap’ is one cause of the achievement disparities we see in our schools. This school nurse initiative by our public health department which will place public health nurses in our schools represents a triumph of interagency partnership between Berkeley Unified School District, the City of Berkeley and Alameda County Health Care Services Agency and Public Health Department. I am immensely grateful for this essential help.”  

In addition, Issel said that the school district was pursuing funding for mental health nurses in Berkeley’s schools under the recently passed Proposition 63 measure to fund expanded health services for mentally ill children, adults, seniors. 

Cost of the Measure A program is expected to be $450,000. In addition, City of Berkeley Health Officer Dr. Poki Stewart Namkung said if that the Berkeley City Health Department can leverage that Measure A money for an additional $400,000 in federal Maternal and Child Health Title V dollars, the added funds can bring the total of school health nurses up to six. 

BUSD Public Information Officer Mark Coplan said that while the use of Measure A funds for school nurses seemed like a “no brainer,” it involved intense lobbying of the Board of Supervisors to counter proposals that the money focus on emergency rooms and clinics. Coplan said that Issel, Namkung, BUSD Superintendent Michele Lawrence, Berkeley PTA Council president Roia Ferrazares, BSEP manager Monica Thyberg, the mayor’s office, parents, and “all of the BUSD principals” were involved in the lobbying campaign for the nursing funds. 

Coplan said that details of how the new school nursing program will work as well as when it will begin will be released at a later date.c

Supervisors Back County Detox Center By MATTHEW ARTZ

Tuesday December 21, 2004

Alameda County took a big step last week towards building a detox center when the Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to set aside $2 million to fund a program. 

The vote was part of an overall recommendation from Alameda County Health Care Agency Director Dave Kears on how to spend money from Measure A, a March ballot initiative that raised the county sales tax one-half cent to fund the county medical center and other health services. 

The Berkeley City Council and the Telegraph Avenue Association have for years urged the county to establish a detox center to give addicts a safe place to seek treatment. 

“It’s one of the most glaring missing ingredients for social services in Berkeley and Alameda County,” said Councilmember Kriss Worthington, who noted that San Francisco, San Mateo, Marin and Contra Costa Counties all had detox facilities. 

County officials are estimating that Measure A will bring in $60 million this year, of which $20 million would be eligible for public health services like a detox center and the rest going to bail out the cash-strapped county hospital system. 

The current plan, said Lara Bice, aide to Supervisor Keith Carson, is to ensure access to detox services for residents in southern and eastern Alameda County and build a center in the northern part of the county, where the demand is highest. Bice said the county didn’t anticipate opening a center until after the current fiscal year ends in July and that county officials had not yet determined a location for the center. 

The Board of Supervisors voted to fund a detox center with $2 million this year and 9.5 percent of available Measure A funds over the next two years. 

Bice added that $2 million would be enough to operate modest detox services, but that the county would likely seek additional funds after it finalized plans to operate the center. 





Levine Ridicules Challenges to Point Molate Casino Plan By RICHARD BRENNEMAN

Tuesday December 21, 2004

“Ridiculous,” said Berkeley developer James D. Levine when asked about the latest legal challenges to his plans to build a major tribal casino, resort, shopping center and entertainment complex at Richmond’s Point Molate. 

The lawsuits, filed by Citizens for the Eastshore State Park (CESP) and the East Bay Regional Parks District, contend that the City of Richmond erred in signing a Land Disposition Agreement with Levine’s Upstream Molate LLC without a prior environmental impact report (EIR). 

The Guidiville Band of Pomos “is the first tribal group to offer an EIR,” Levine said. “The LDA clearly says the city has final authority over mitigation measures” to offset findings in the EIR. 

“I have a lot of confidence that the judge will uphold the LDA, and you don’t need an EIR to sell a piece of land—only when you get ready to build on it,” he added. 

The LDA does require an EIR before the project can be built, he said. 

A scoping session where public comments are invited to address issues to be included in the EIR will be coming in late January, Levine said. 

“In this business, you get used to people making all kinds of irrational arguments,” he concluded. 

CESP filed the original action in Contra Costa County Superior Court Wednesday seeking a writ of mandate blocking the sale. The park district’s action followed on Friday. 

Both organizations want to see most of the site incorporated into park, with the remainder to be used for light industrial or commercial uses. 

The property, one of the last relatively undeveloped stretches of land in the East Bay, had housed a U.S. Navy refueling depot until the base was closed and transferred to the city. 

Richmond city officials contend that they were obligated under federal base closure law to develop the land in the way that provides the most revenue and jobs for the city. c

Claremont Employees Stage One More Picket By JAKOB SCHILLER

Tuesday December 21, 2004

Claremont workers said they hope the 12-hour picket line they staged at the hotel on Friday will be their last. 

After marching pickets for almost three years as part of boycott and labor dispute, employees said they wanted to send a message now that KSL Recreation Corp., the company that manages the resort, is on its way out. According to their union, UNITE-HERE Local 2850, employees are hopeful that the new management company will agree to recognize the union and end the labor dispute. 

“We’re thrilled to death,” said Wei-Ling Huber, vice president of 2850 about the news. “We couldn’t imagine being anyone much worse, although we’re still cautious.” 

KSL, which used to own the Claremont, sold the landmark hotel to CNL, an Orlando-based real-estate investment trust, in February. KSL then signed a temporary contract with CNL to stay on as the property management company. According to the union, employees were told the contract would not be re-signed and will expire at the end of the year. 

A spokesperson from the Claremont did not return phone calls and the spokespeople for CNL were unavailable. 

“I think [CNL’s decision] has a lot do with the labor dispute,” said Huber. 

Local 2850 has been running a general boycott of the hotel in an effort to force it to re-negotiate two existing contracts and sign a new contract for spa workers. According to the union, the main sticking point in contract negotiations has been health care. Spa workers have unsuccessfully tried to get the company to recognize their efforts to unionize.  

“It’s very sad to be here for another Christmas,” said Fidel Arroyo, a cook who has worked at the Claremont for 10 years, as he stood next to the picket line. “The company has plenty of money, they could have settled the fight when they wanted.” 

At the picket, the union passed out bags of food and Christmas hams. They also issued monthly aid checks to workers to help them pay for their health care coverage because the Claremont stopped paying for premium increases when their contract expired. 









Bayer Backs Out of Genetic Engineering in India By PESTICIDE ACTION NETWORK UPDATE SERVICE

Tuesday December 21, 2004

Greenpeace India announced in November 2004 that Bayer CropScience has ended efforts to commercialize genetically engineered (GE) crops in India. Bayer’s announcement came after weeks of protests, including an 11- hour protest in Mumbai, during which Greenpeace activists chained themselves to Bayer headquarters and unfurled banners proclaiming, “Bayer Poisons Our Food.” 

Bayer’s intention to withdraw from GE research in India was expressed in a letter to the environmental organization on Nov. 4, in which the agrochemical giant admitted that “the future lies in conventional breeding.” Greenpeace termed Bayer’s withdrawal “an admission of immense significance for the entire genetic engineering industry.” 

Bayer is one of the leading agro-chemical companies of the world, holding nearly one fourth of the market share in the Indian pesticides industry (22 percent) with 52 products, including formulations. 

The Department of Biotechnology (DBT) in India disclosed earlier this year that Pro Agro (a wholly owned subsidiary of Bayer) had conducted field trials of cabbage and cauliflower that were genetically modified with the controversial Cry9C gene. This gene is one of a family of crystalline (Cry) endotoxin proteins produced by Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), a naturally occurring soil bacterium. The Bt gene is inserted into GE crops to kill pests by disrupting their digestive system. Because Cry9C is less affected by heat than other Cry proteins, and is resistant to degradation by gastric juices, it is considered likely to cause allergic reactions in humans and was certified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as unfit for human consumption. 

The Cry9C gene protein is present in StarLink corn, which was widely grown in the U.S. for animal feed and industrial purposes and in 2000 was found in 300 corn food products in U.S. grocery stores. The contamination caused massive recalls and lawsuits that may ultimately cost Aventis, StarLink’s developer and a subsidiary of Bayer, as much as $1 billion in damages. 

In the last few years, the Bush administration has moved to loosen U.S. regulations regarding contamination of food with experimental genetic material, reducing the liability of biotech companies for transgenic contamination. Most recently, on Nov. 19, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed a new guidance for industry that would allow companies to voluntarily consult with the FDA in order to have their experimental biotech traits deemed “acceptable” as contaminants in food. 

The draft guidance states, “FDA believes that any potential risk from the low level presence of such material in the food supply would be limited to the possibility that it would contain or consist of a new protein that might be an allergen or toxin.” 

However, Friends of the Earth and others argue that no level of this contamination is safe, noting that after StarLink was found in the food supply, expert scientific advisors to the EPA concluded, “there was no minimal level of StarLink’s Cry9C insecticidal protein that could be judged safe for human consumption.” 

While FDA regulations may encourage GE experimentation in the U.S., the difficulties encountered by biotech companies in other parts of the world appear to be having an effect. Bayer’s retreat from testing GE crops in India is only its most recent demur. In March the company pulled out of GE crop research in the UK, and in June it dropped plans to commercialize GE canola in Australia. Monsanto has also limited its research and testing of GE foods, discontinuing plans for GE wheat in the U.S. and Canada and for GE canola in Australia earlier this year. 

Greenpeace credits consumers for this turnaround, “It is clear that popular resistance to genetic engineering is not diminishing as the industry had hoped it would,” said Doreen Stabinsky, of Greenpeace International. “No matter what country we’re talking about, consumers are on the same page. They don’t want to eat genetically engineered food. That’s good news for farmers and good news for the environment.” 


PANUPS is a weekly news service providing resource guides and reporting on pesticide issues that don’t always get coverage by the mainstream media. It’s produced by Pesticide Action Network North America, a non-profit and non-governmental organization working to advance sustainable alternatives to pesticides worldwide. 


Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA) 

49 Powell St., Suite 500, San Francisco 

(415) 981-1771, panna@panna.org or see www.panna.org

Campaign 2004: Are There Signs of Life After Death? By BOB BURNETT News Analysis

Special to the Planet
Tuesday December 21, 2004

Dante wrote that the gates of Hell bear the admonition “All hope abandon, ye who enter here!” This phrase aptly conveys the feelings of many Americans as we prepare to enter four more years of the Bush administration.  

Berkeley activists are asking one another, “What are we to do? How will we endure the next term of what has been the worst presidency in memory?” 

For many of us, the answer is that we will take solace in our community and the spirit of resistance that has long been a vital part of Berkeley culture. But, as we recover from the disaster of Nov. 2, we can also take heart from a few glimmers of hope. 

In Montana, Democrats elected a governor, attorney general, and superintendent of public instruction, took control of the state Senate and decreased the Republican house majority to one vote. In Colorado, Democrats won a seat in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives and took control of the Colorado Senate and House. Throughout the West, progressive Democrats won key elections. 

In each of these races there were important lessons for the future: Democrats fielded an attractive candidate, took advantage of Republican vulnerabilities, and ran a smart campaign. 

In the Montana gubernatorial contest, Democrats chose Brian Schweitzer to oppose Republican Secretary of State Bob Brown. (In the face of a political scandal, the incumbent Republican governor decided not to run.) Schweitzer ran as a political outsider; a rancher, and small businessman who had been called to do his civic duty because of Republican screw-ups. 

Schweitzer stole a page from recent Republican campaign success by coming across to the Montana electorate as more authentic than his opponent.  

In his funny and insightful book, “What’s the Matter with Kansas? How Conservatives Won the Heart of America,” Thomas Frank observed that contemporary America is divided by a hidden class war—one where Republican ideologues have cleverly separated economic considerations from the notion of class. This neutered version of conflict has morphed into a culture war, one in which “resentment [has been diverted] from its natural course.” 

Which side you are on is no longer a matter of being a “have” or a “have not,” a plutocrat or a union member, now it is whether you belong to the “liberal elite” or are an authentic American—“the humble people of the red states [who] go about their unpretentious business, eating down-home foods…whistling while they work, feeling comfortable about who they are.” Republicans have proved adept at fielding candidates who appear authentic, for example, George W. Bush. 

In Montana, Schweitzer was more seen as more authentic than his opponent because of his bona fides as a native son. Schweitzer joined with other small business people to oppose deals that Montana Republicans had made with large, out-of-state corporations. He mobilized Montana hunters and fishers to oppose restrictions on stream and public land access, and condemn corporate destruction of prime hunting and fishing territory. And, Democrats pointed out that the GOP had been in power for 20 years, and yet had not dealt with Montana’s economic problems. 

Schweitzer knit together a revitalized populism: one in which Republicans were portrayed as the champions of big Business, and Democrats as defenders of the little guys. He reclaimed class warfare, turning the focus away from cultural issues and a fixation on a mythical liberal elite, to every day economic concerns with a spotlight on pernicious Republican greed. 

Something very similar happened in Colorado. Even though Republicans have 177,508 more registered voters, Democrats won most of the significant races. Analysts explained that the state had run up an $800 million deficit and, instead of dealing with this, Republicans focused exclusively on cultural issues, such as requiring the Pledge of Allegiance to be recited in all schools and condemning same-sex marriage. 

Republican Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell was considered unbeatable until a series of financial scandals forced him to retire. Colorado attorney general, Ken Salazar, then entered the race and waged a strong campaign as both a social moderate—pro-choice and against the gay-marriage amendment—and fiscal conservative. Salazar played up the fact that his family had operated a Colorado farm for more than 400 years, “On my desk in the Attorney General’s office, I have a sign that says ‘No Farms--No Food’… I want to be a strong voice for rural and agriculturally-dependent Colorado.” He came across as authentic and a populist. His “Sleepless in Colorado” campaign visited every corner of the state. As a result, Salazar carried many of the rural areas, which are nominally Republican, and outpaced Kerry by almost five percentage points. 

There are common elements in these victories: Democrats fielded attractive candidates who were seen as being more authentic than their Republican adversaries. Democrats ran on a populist agenda that shifted the debate from cultural to economic issues. And, Democrats ran a smart campaign; they took advantage of natural coalitions. 

If Democrats can win in the reddest of red states, Montana, they can win anywhere—they just have to remember who they are. 





Another Water Revolt Begins in Bolivia By JIM SHULTZ Commentary

Pacific News Service
Tuesday December 21, 2004

COCHABAMBA, Bolivia—Five years ago the issue of water privatization exploded here when massive public protests forced out a consortium of firms led by the California engineering giant, Bechtel. Within weeks of taking over the city’s public water company, Bechtel hiked up rates by as much as 200 percent, far beyond what the city’s poor could afford to pay.  

Now, a new Bolivian water revolt is under way 200 miles north in the city of El Alto, a growing urban sprawl that sits 14,000 feet above sea level and is populated by waves of impoverished families arriving from the economically desperate countryside.  

As in Cochabamba, the public water system of El Alto and its neighbor La Paz, the nation’s capital, was privatized in 1997 when the World Bank made water privatization a condition of a loan to the Bolivian government. The private consortium that took control of the water, Aguas del Illimani, is owned jointly by the French water giant, Suez, and a set of minority shareholders that includes an arm of the World Bank.  

Community groups in El Alto charge that by pegging rates to the dollar, the company has raised water prices by 35 percent since it took over. The cost for new families to hook up their homes to water and sewage totals more than $445, an amount that exceeds more than six months of income at the national minimum wage.  

More seriously, organizers say, the company has left more than 200,000 people with no possibility of access to water at all, by failing to expand water infrastructure to the municipality’s growing outskirts. “Without water there is no life, so really it is life that the company is depriving the people of El Alto,” says Julian Perez, an advisor to the Federation of El Alto Neighborhoods.  

Lack of access to clean water is a chief cause of child illness in Bolivia, where nearly one in 10 children dies before age 5. Families living in El Alto’ s outskirts rely on water from wells that, advocates say, are contaminated with industrial waste.  

“Aguas de Illimani committed to cover all of the city of El Alto and they haven’ t done it,” Perez says. Community groups are now organizing for a massive public action in January to take back the water company by force, unless the Bolivian government initiates a process to cancel Suez’s contract and put the El Alto water company back in public hands.  

“Once the people begin to mobilize we will continue to the final battle,” warns Perez. “We will win or we will lose.”  

Bolivian government officials agree that the Suez contract has failed the people of El Alto. “The contract is unacceptable. It leaves 200,000 people without water,” says Jose Barragán, the Vice Minister of Basic Services who has been negotiating with the El Alto groups. “If the company is willing to expand service to 200,000 people then we can talk about it. If Aguas de Ilimani isn’t prepared to solve the problem I’ ll join with the people in El Alto and demand that the company leave.”  

Cochabamba’s experience five years ago casts a shadow over the new water revolt. Both the government and community leaders say they want to resolve the dispute without the kind of government repression and violence that left one 17-year-old dead and more than 100 others wounded. Cochabamba water leaders are also in active communication with their counterparts in El Alto.  

The Cochabamba revolt’s aftermath also holds a lesson for Suez and its co-owners. After Bechtel was forced to leave, it and its fellow shareholders filed a $25-million legal action against Bolivia, in a secretive trade court operated by the World Bank. That demand—which far exceeds all reasonable estimates of the company’s investment—has drawn a firestorm of international protest.  

Last week Barragán, who is also in charge of the Bechtel case, revealed that the company wants to drop its demand, in exchange for a token payment equal to 30 cents. According to Barragán, Bechtel’s exit is being held up by one its partners in the Cochabamba water company, the Abengoa corporation of Spain. Abengoa now finds itself in the sights of social justice groups worldwide.  

Regardless of whether the people of El Alto succeed in forcing Suez to leave, one question remains, as it does in Cochabamba: Where will the funds come from to provide poor families basic access to safe water? Providing water and sewage hookups to the homes that lack them in El Alto would cost at least $25 million, on top of the costs of expanding the basic water infrastructure to the city’s new neighborhoods.  

In cities like Cochabamba and El Alto it is clear that poor water users cannot pay the full costs of water at the market prices demanded by private companies. Cross-subsidies from wealthier water users to poor ones can help, but still don’t come close to covering the enormous costs of constructing water systems. Neither can a poor nation like Bolivia afford to cover water costs out of its national treasury, which already falls short of adequately funding other basics such as health and education.  

In 2002 the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights declared, “The human right to water is indispensable for leading a life in human dignity. Water, and water facilities and services, must be affordable for all.” In Bolivia and elsewhere the question remains: Who will help the poor pay the bill? 


Jim Shultz is executive director of The Democracy Center based in Cochabamba, Bolivia (www.democracyctr.org).  

Letters to the Editor

Tuesday December 21, 2004


Editors, Daily Planet: 

I agree wholeheartedly with Raymond Chamberlin’s critique of the proposal to make Marin a two-lane road (“Two Lanes on Marin Avenue? A Design for Road Rage! Daily Planet, Dec. 14-16). Such a change would be nuts. It would infuriate drivers at all times of day, not just commute hours, and would doubtless lead to increased traffic on other neighborhood streets—like Sonoma to the south and Washington to the north. Nor should bicycling be a cover for this dopey idea. I am a bicyclist too and I avoid the arterials whenever possible. I wouldn’t ride on Marin whether it be two lanes or four.  

Sean Gallagher 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

NIMBY! NIGGER! What do these two words have in common? Both are meaningless but effective epithets, whose sole purpose and impact is to devalue “the other” and the other’s humanity and concerns. The terms add nothing but rancor to any discourse; they tell us nothing about the real characteristics of the targeted group, but they tell us a great deal about the name-callers.  

As soon as any citizen opposes a development project, the name-calling begins. Neighbors who have no concern except the size, design, density, and parking impacts of buildings in their community suddenly becoming bigots, racists, and people who hate poor people or the elderly or disabled. Were those who opposed the Outback project trying to keep the poor elderly out of their community? No, though perhaps some ignorant people might believe that propaganda. Were those who opposed the American Baptist Seminary expansion racists? No, although that was the first charge leveled by the developer. Were those who spent hundreds of hours working on the minutiae of building sizes on University Avenue secretly motivated by antipathy toward the poor? If so, it was a pretty inefficient way to achieve their purposes. Are those opposing the Ed Roberts Campus’ airport-like facade just hiding their secret revulsion for the disabled? No. Get real. 

No Berkeleyan would be caught dead using the word “nigger,” while “NIMBY” is liberally used in the public debate. “Smart growth” advocates regularly use the term, as do affordable housing advocates, our legislators, developers, and many developers’ lawyers. I wonder if the term is used by our own city planners in the privacy of the Planning Palace. Shame on Susan Parker (a regular Planet columnist) and everyone else who has sullied the pages of the Planet and the public sphere by using the term NIMBY to avoid dialogue. While one would think that name-calling and marginalization techniques would be an anathema in Berkeley, in fact it is our politically correct culture that makes such attacks possible. Although in fact neighbors are fairly powerless in Berkeley, NIMBYs are not viewed as a disadvantaged group worthy of sympathy. So I guess it’s okay to marginalize and insult them. 

Many people decry the adversarial atmosphere in Berkeley, and pretend to believe that it is better to work together to resolve problems. But those who call their ideological adversaries names reveal their true motivations. Remember: It is those who have the power and don’t want to share it that benefit by squelching the dialogue.  

Sharon Hudson 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I am shocked to see that the Berkeley City Council is considering narrowing Marin Avenue. This is a vital thoroughfare and needs to be available for citizens of North Berkeley. I work at Hilltop Mall in Richmond and must get to I-80 daily. This plan will have a negative impact on my commute as well as others. If this plan goes through, it will not get me out of my car. Riding public transportation could take close to two hours one way so this is not an option and I do not think it ever will be. 

Now the NIMBY punks in the City of Albany have already approved a plan to narrow the street in their city. This must be reversed. The City of Berkeley should lobby the state to intervene. If this does not work then they should consider some sort of retaliation against Albany. I do not know what form this could take, but we must not be walked over like this. I know this is not politically correct, but I think there is too much of this in our city. There appears to be a concerted effort to  

make car driving more difficult from lack of gas stations and parts stores to the preferences given to a small group of loud bicyclists. I think statistics will show that automobile owners are, dare I say it, a “Silent Majority” in Berkeley. I urge the council to redress this. 

Frederick O. Hebert 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Berkeley Bowl is a home-grown phenomenon that is in no way like a big box store, despite the large size of the proposed new store.  

It has the best produce at the best prices, and the widest variety of goods anywhere. The selection shows a level of care and knowledge that can’t be duplicated. The current store is well loved and always full to capacity. People line up to get in before 9 a.m. on Saturdays, and routinely wait up to 10 minutes for parking.  

Opening a new larger store will only add value for Berkeley residents creating more jobs with livable union wages and offering its great goods and services to another part of Berkeley. It may even reduce congestion at its current store. As for traffic, it means we will need to hasten dealing with flow in that area—something we should be doing now.  

I live one mile from the proposed site, and a bit farther from the current one, and I look forward to shopping at the new Berkeley Bowl. I say approve the whole kit and caboodle without delay!  

Mariana Almeida  




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Again, it seems that the Planet has half-heartedly reported technical aspects of transportation planning in a story (“Critics Assail Proposed West Berkeley Bowl,” Daily Planet, Dec. 17-20) in favor of opinions of harpsichord-toting citizens who generally don’t understand the traffic impacts of new developments. 

The Planet quotes statistics by the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) that say a grocery store generates “on average” 102 vehicle trips per day. It is then stated that this would produce “at least 5,583” extra vehicle trips. My first point is nit-picky but it should be noted that an “average” does not equate to “at least.” Your statement should have read “draw on average 5,583 additional vehicle trips.” Whether an oversight or the desire to inflate the numbers, this mistake should be noted. 

Secondly, and more importantly, there are many factors (including the ITE trip generation above) that go into analyzing the traffic impact of a site. It should be noted that the transportation consultants took all of this into consideration when making their recommendation. My point is that it would have been nice to see some of the city engineers or transportation consultants interviewed to round out the understanding of how the traffic of this site can affect our community. 

Lastly, the Berkeley Bowl is generally (with the exception of some of the recent labor issues) a positive local business. The most frequent negative comments I hear about the current location are how bad the parking lot is and how extremely cramped it is inside. It seems that their most recent plan of a larger store addresses these issues. 

Chris Douglas 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The Berkeley Gray Panthers protests the proposed cut in taxi scrip from 40 books a year to nine. Taxi scrip is vital to our seniors in Berkeley, especially since other public transit is so poor, especially in the neighborhoods. Seniors need taxi scrip to go to the doctor, to visit friends, to participate in the community, and to have a life. To cut back on taxi scrip when AC Transit and BART are also cutting back means that many older and disabled people will be forced to be isolated in their homes. 

Berkeley is in the foreground of policy by providing taxi scrip to its seniors and disabled people. We in the Gray Panthers and the Commission on Aging have fought to keep this service intact. However, despite our continuing efforts to improve taxi service for seniors and disabled people, the City of Berkeley Housing Department has been chipping away at the program, not only to cut costs, but to undermine the concept of the program. Every year they come up with new ways to make the program less effective.  

I cannot believe that their actions are in line with city policy, which aims at providing adequate services for seniors and disabled people, and having less reliance on private automobiles. 

It is time for the city council to take a stand and support taxi service for seniors, and not permit city employees to chip away at the service without consultation with the council or the public. 

The City Council supports an arts district for Berkeley, but allows AC transit to cut services after 6 p.m.! Then taxi scrip is cut so that seniors and disabled people cannot obtain transport to the arts district. This does not make sense. 

Margot Smith  

Berkeley Gray Panthers 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

As the Daily Planet’s article in the weekend edition reported, the Berkeley City Council became the first city to adopt a resolution demanding an investigation of voter irregularities in the presidential election. It also called for congressional adoption of numerous measures on behalf of national election reform. Although the article was certainly informative, it nevertheless suffered from important omissions. 

Nowhere does the Planet mention that the resolution was the culmination of vigorous grassroots efforts. This omission is serious because it conveys the impression to the public that such favorable developments, in this case the council’s resolution, are born and nurtured only from above rather than reflecting social motion from below. 

Also, since the Planet neglected to acknowledge the role of the grassroots, readers did not learn that the organization mainly behind lobbying for the resolution was the very active members of the Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club. Just as it matters that we become familiar with the voting record of elected officials, it is immensely important and useful for the public to be continually reminded how progressive social change actually occurs and who bears responsibility for setting things in motion by organizing successful political campaigns.  

Harry Brill 

Wellstone Democratic  

Renewal Club  

El Cerrito 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

In her letter regarding the Ed Roberts Campus in your Dec. 17 issue, Stephanie Miyashiro invited readers to imagine a building “designed by and for folks with disabilities using universal design principles and keeping access for humans of all abilities in mind.” No imagination is needed: Wheel or walk over to 3222 Adeline St. to find an award-winning building, designed by a wheelchair rider, that provides nineteen apartments for low-income disabled renters. 

Neighbors who feel the proposed glass curtain wall facade of the ERC clashes with its historic surroundings have frequently cited this building as an example of more appropriate design. The architect, Erick Mikiten, did such a fine job of harmonizing his modern design with the surrounding historic buildings that many people pass it every day without noticing it—a shame, since it’s the nicest building constructed in South Berkeley in many years. 

By the way, William Leddy, the ERC’s architect, is not disabled. 

Robert Lauriston 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

In Becky O’Malley’s editorial (“Bernie Kerik: The Opera?” Daily Planet, Dec. 14-16), our editor told about a friend suggesting that someone commission John Adams the composer to do an opera on the subject. That idea is great. There is a pre-existing set of comic operas about the antics of ignorant, arrogant aging males: Rossini’s Barber of Seville, Donizetti’s Don Pasquale, Puccini’s Gianni Schicci, and Richard Strauss’ The Silent Woman. Adams’ operas fit right in. I imagine a politically charged opera, and John Adams has already had the courage to compose three political operas. 

As far as a commission, how about our Berkeley community, recently frustrated politically and always alive musically, doing the job? I don’t remember a community ever commissioning a piece of music, let alone an opera by a world-class composer. 

Let’s ask John Adams to see if he’s interested. 

Bennett Markel 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I propose that the city’s young people create murals to decorate the construction fence at the new Berkeley Hills Fire Station. The fence is located on Shasta Road just east of Grizzly Peak Boulevard. 

The City Council should sponsor a contest for groups to paint nature scenes on 4x10’ exterior plywood. Attach the beautiful murals to the fence. Field trips to see them and the Regional Parks Botanical Garden, a Berkeley fire station, and/or the merry-go-round would familiarize Berkeley’s youth with the beauty of wild park land and the role of the fire department in protecting Berkeley from wild fires. 

Please don’t leave our neighborhood with a denuded hillside and ugly construction fence for one to three years. 

Jeff Mertens 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

On Saturday morning a bag of groceries, including a large chicken, was delivered to my door by a group of girls and women. The card read “Happy Holidays from the Berkeley Fire Fighters, The Berkeley Lion’s Club and Girl Scout Troops No. 319 and 931.”  

And so thanks to you! 

Helen Rippier Wheeler 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

It’s not really fair of Marcia Lau, in her Dec. 17 letter, to characterize my Dec. 14 letter as demonstrating “a thoroughly undemocratic view of city office-holders’ role.” 

Public comment should and does have a profound effect on the decision-making process of any public body. It does this by bringing new ideas, problems and possible solutions to light. But it is not always a good measurement of public opinion at large. 

I don’t think anyone reading these words is so naïve as to think that a small self-selected group of individuals at a hearing or a handful of letters in the mail is a reliable representation of majority community opinion. The only way to accurately determine where public sentiment really falls is via an objective survey—or an election. 

The Berkeley ferry is a case in point. There is broad public support for re-establishing ferry service from the Berkeley Marina to San Francisco, and it was this support that helped Regional Measure 2 pass by a wide margin. It should not be derailed by a small group of vocal detractors using obsolete data. 

As for “diesel guzzling ferries,” let’s look at some numbers: A single-occupancy car consumes about 7,000 BTU of fossil fuel energy per mile. The least fuel-efficient ferry now in service on the Oakland and Alameda routes consumes 4,700 BTU/passenger-mile (and this number takes the empty “reverse commute” runs into account). The 149-passenger ferry that most closely resembles the proposals for Berkeley only needs 2,500 BTU/passenger mile. But let’s not stop here. That boat goes 28 knots, and we only need to go 18 to get from the Marina to San Francisco in 20 minutes. By designing for a slower speed, appropriate for our short (5.6 mile) route, it’s not hard to build an energy-efficient ferry that would achieve fuel rates closer to 1,500 BTU/passenger-mile. (You can check my calculations on the Berkeley Waterfront website, www.BerkeleyWaterfront.org.) 

Now, 1,500 BTU/passenger-mile is four times as good as a mid-size car, but not quite as efficient as a bus at 1,320. Keep in mind, however, that the vast majority of ferry passengers will be attracted to the ferry as an alternative to driving, not the bus or BART. A car parked at the marina will pollute far less than one that makes two stop-and-go trips across the bridge. And it’s worth noting that the ferry “Berkeley” built in 1898 and in service on the bay until ‘57, consumed about 1,000 BTU/passenger-mile. This vessel is still afloat and on display at the San Diego Maritime Museum. So lets not be too quick to categorize all ferries as inefficient and dirty. There are mature technologies that can make ferries extremely clean and efficient. 

Still, I agree with Marcia on one important point: Ferries do not deserve any special subsidy. Ferry service is not a cost-effective transportation solution when we already have a bridge and a tunnel. It will cost about $6.50 for each one-way ferry ride across the Bay. This includes capitalization of the boats and a new terminal (probable site will be just south of the fishing pier, so as to utilize existing parking near Hs. Lordships restaurant). The cost of a BART ride is about the same, based only on operating expenses. But BART is much more expensive if we include capitalization of the system expansion for an apples-to-apples comparison. 

WTA, the Water Transit Authority charged with implementing the new routes, suggests a $3.50 ticket price and a $3.00 subsidy per one-way ride. My proposal is to set the ticket price at $5.00, much closer to the market rate, with only $1.50 subsidy per ride. (Keep in mind that the bridge toll is likely to go up to $4, not to mention how much it costs to park in downtown San Francisco) This subsidy level is less than the subsidy for an AC Transit bus ride across the bay, and far less than the public subsidy for a BART ride. 

The higher price will also keep the scale of the service more in line with the existing marina infrastructure, and not place difficult demands on parking or road access. (There should be deep discounts for those arriving by bike or bus.) 

Ferry service will not solve congestion on the bridge or reduce air pollution in any noticeable way. But it will certainly make a small positive contribution in both these areas, and do it at least as economically as any other mode of public transit. 

Congestion and air quality aside, the main reason to support the Berkeley ferry is because it is a public amenity that will improve the quality of life in Berkeley. Ferry service provides an alternative of particular value to many users who have trouble with other transit modes, or who need to cross the bay with their bicycles, wheelchairs or dogs (dogs on the upper outside deck only, it is presumed). The ferries can be running in as little as three years if we can agree on some of these details and show the funding agencies that the project has our full support. 

Paul Kamen is a member and former Chair of the Berkeley Waterfront Commission. He has lived in Berkeley since 1973. 

Paul Kamen

Teaching a Child to Swim: A Fun, Wholesome and Righteous Activity By SUSAN PARKER

Tuesday December 21, 2004

One of the first columns I wrote and published was about teaching my friend Jernae to swim at the Emeryville Public Pool. I described how I was the only adult in the water, and how children surrounded me, wrapped their skinny arms around my neck and hollered at me to watch them as they did multiple cannonballs in my face. Most of the kids did not know how to swim and were therefore relegated to the shallow end of the pool. The deep end was empty, serene, and placid; the three-foot section was crowded, wild and noisy. Within the middle of this storm I attempted to instruct Jernae on the finer points of the doggie paddle. 

It wasn’t easy. Jernae was cold and scared, and distracted by the other kids who were creating enormous waves, and splashing and shouting at one another. Her small, thin body was stiff as a board and she had a difficult time relaxing. She insisted on holding her nose, which made it impossible to perform the Dead Man’s Float. 

But we persevered, and day after day we went back to the pool and started over. Little by little there was improvement, until Jernae was finally floating on her back and stomach without my assistance, then later jumping into my arms, and paddling to the edge of the pool. I wrote a column about her progress and received several e-mails after it was published. One of those e-mails chastised me for being a naïve, do-gooder racist. The writer insinuated that as a middle-class, middle-aged white woman, I did not have the right to teach a black child how to swim. “We can teach our own,” she said. “We don’t need or want your help.” 

Her letter made me question my intentions and values. I had always thought that swimming was a skill everyone should know. It’s easy to learn, develops self-confidence, and promotes safety. Plus, it’s a fun, wholesome activity. I knew that I was teaching Jernae to swim, in part, for my own personal satisfaction, but I also felt it was something she should know how to do, and that it would serve her well in the future.  

I ignored the letter writer but I discontinued writing about the lessons. When, a year later, Jernae was finally able to swim across the width of the pool, I didn’t bother telling anyone. When she jumped off the diving board for the first time, I didn’t write a column about it, and when she recently swam the entire length of Willard Pool and was permitted to go anywhere within its waters, I didn’t announce it to the readers of the Daily Planet.  

But now I do have something I want to say. A few days ago Jernae called me with some news.  

“You won’t believe this,” she said. “I am so cool.” 

“What is it?” I asked. 

“I’m about to tell you,” she said. 

“Go on,” I answered. 

“Well,” she drawled, “I’m at school, right?” 


“And I go to gym class, right?” 

“I think I knew that,” I said. 

“And you know that we go to a pool once a week, right?”  

“Get to the point,” I said.  

“Well,” she shouted. “I’m the only one who knows how to swim in my class!”  

“That’s great,” I said. “I’m proud and happy for you.”  

“I’m happy, too,” said Jernae. “Now if only some of the other kids could swim, then I’d have someone to hang out with in the deep end, right?”  

“Right,” I said.  

“So I’ve got this idea, right?” 

“Oh lord…” 

“That you and me could teach ‘em all how to swim, right?” 

“I see where you’re going with this. Bring ‘em over to Emeryville, and we’ll teach them together, right?”  

“Righteous,” she replied.  

“What did you say?” I asked.  

“Righteous,” she said again. “You don’t know what that means, right?”  

“Wrong,” I said. “I bet it means cool, right?”  

“Righteous,” she answered.  

“Do you mind if I write a column about this for the paper?” I asked. 

“Righteous!” she replied.  


Tuesday December 21, 2004

Cyclist Badly Hurt in Hit-and-Run 

A 20-year-old bicyclist was critically injured Monday morning when she was struck by a tractor-trailer truck at Seventh and Carleton streets. 

Berkeley Police spokesperson Officer Joe Okies said officers responded to a call reporting the accident, and after a brief search found the injured woman, who was rushed to Highland Hospital, where she was reported in critical condition. 

Officers searched for the truck and found it minutes later. The driver, Manuel Chamorro, who turns 43 on Christmas Day, was arrested on a charge of felony hit-and-run, Okies said.  


One Hurt in Berkeley-Oakland Shootings  

Police are investigating a series of weekend shootings in South Berkeley which left one youth injured and neighbors angered. 

Officer Okies said the first incident was reported at 7:21 p.m. Friday at the southwest corner of Oregon and Sacramento streets. 

A teenager sitting at a bus bench was struck in the leg by a single gunshot wound to the leg. 

Neither the victim nor any neighbors reported seeing anything of the shooter or the get-away car. 

The second round of gunshots was reported 82 minutes later near 62nd and Market streets. Officers arriving at the scene found only broken glass.  

The third incident was reported at 7:53 p.m. Saturday in the 1600 block of Ward Street, said Officer Okies. 

Arriving at the scene, officers found a gunshot-ventilated vehicle and a witness who described shots coming from a champagne-colored 2000 or later Ford Intrepid with three passengers. 

No suspects have been arrested in any of the shootings. 


No Luck for the Luck 

A strong-arm bandit walked into the Luck Restaurant at 1428 San Pablo Ave. shortly before 9 p.m. Friday and walked out the with cash. 


Face-puncher Grabs Loot 

A bandit with a wicked hook slugged a hapless citizen at the Mi Tierra Market on San Pablo Avenue in West Berkeley shortly before 3 a.m. Saturday and absconded with his cash. 


Bashers Busted 

Two young adults and a juvenile were arrested for the battery and robbery of a 19-year-old man they robbed of his bag near the corner of College and Durant avenues just before 3 Saturday morning. 


Carjackers Sought 

Berkeley police are looking for four men in the early to mid 20s who pulled a gun on a motorist at Seventh Street and Ashby Avenue about 9:30 Saturday morning and forced him to drive them to Oakland, where they robbed him and made off with his car. 


Juvie Heister Popped 

Police arrested a juvenile male for the strong-arm robbery of a citizen in the 2000 block of Bancroft Way at 3 p.m. Saturday. 


Pizza Driver Robbed 

Three juvenile bandits robbed a pizza delivery man near Acton Street and University Avenue at 9 p.m. Sunday. Officers arrived on the scene fast enough to arrest all three, who were then assigned new quarters at Juvenile Hall. 


Better Watch Out! 

Officer Okies admonished Berkeley drivers to curb their tippling over the current holiday season. 

Police are out in force, as several motorists discovered when they ran into a checkpoint on University Avenue Friday night. Three revelers were sobered up by arrests for driving under the influence, and still others were cited for driving on expired or suspended licenses. 

It’s all part of the Avoid the 21 campaign now underway county wide, designed to curb drunk driving during the Dec. 17 through Jan. 3 holiday period, said the officer. 

“There will be more DUI checkpoints and saturation patrols throughout,” Okies said..

Why Unhappy People are Voting Against Things By ZELDA BRONSTEIN Commentary

Tuesday December 21, 2004

Rarely does an elected official publicly broach spot-on analysis of so delicate a topic as the defeat of the four city tax measures that the Berkeley City Council placed on last November’s ballot, especially when that analysis puts the onus on his colleagues, their staff and himself.  

But at the council’s Dec. 14 meeting, Councilmember Kriss Worthington offered just such insight. “Why are people unhappy and voting against things?” he asked. “The single biggest factor I’ve heard why people are unhappy is that the City of Berkeley doesn’t follow the law.”  

Worthington made these remarks as the council was discussing the Zoning Adjustments Board’s decision to allow Jeremy’s, a clothing store, to expand from 2161 College Ave. into the adjacent storefront at 2163 College.  

City Planning staff had readily admitted that due to a staff error, Jeremy’s owner, Jeremy Kidson, had obtained the original use permit for his business at 2161 College Ave. in violation of the Zoning Ordinance. The ordinance limits the number of clothing stores in the Elmwood District to 10. The shop at 2161 College Ave. made the eleventh of its kind. Nevertheless, city staff had recommended that Jeremy’s be allowed to expand into 2163 College, and ZAB had followed suit.  

Jason Wayman, an Elmwood merchant, had appealed ZAB’s decision, contending that in approving the expansion, ZAB had condoned and, worse yet, compounded an illegal act.  

Faced with an appeal of a ZAB decision, the council has three choices: It can deny the appeal, send the matter back to ZAB or hold a public hearing. By choosing either the second or the third options, the council indicates that it regards the matter as sufficiently questionable to warrant further investigation.  

In the case of Jeremy’s expansion, the council voted 7-1 (Worthington was the sole nay; Councilmember Laurie Capitelli, who owns a business near Jeremy’s, had to recuse himself) to deny the appeal.  

The denial appeared to be driven by several considerations. For starters, there were councilmembers’ personal feelings about the quota system and Jeremy’s.  

Councilmember Betty Olds said she’d heard that Jeremy’s was a great place to shop for women’s clothes, but that it was too crowded to get in. “If something is so successful,” opined Olds, “we should encourage it.”  

Councilmember Dona Spring told how she’d like to patronize the store but can’t get her wheelchair down the aisles between the racks—a difficulty, she implied, that would be eliminated by allowing the shop to expand.  

The other major rationale for denying the appeal was the inconsistent administration of the zoning law. Councilmember Gordon Wozniak said the city had permitted “numerous” Elmwood merchants to expand into adjacent storefronts without considering the legal limits on their kinds of business. He also noted that “there was a mistake made in [Jeremy’s] original permit.”  

The problem, Wozniak concluded, was that Jeremy’s had “gotten tangled in the quota system.” Wozniak’s solution was to “separate” the two, which he proposed to do by making the double motion that was ultimately approved: Dismiss the appeal, and have the Planning Commission review the quota system in the Elmwood and other neighborhood commercial districts.  

Can you imagine the Berkeley Police Department proceeding in this manner? What if the BPD based its enforcement of the law on individual officers’ personal feelings about particular section of the legal codes? Or if members of the police force reasoned that failure to properly enforce a law in the past was sufficient reason not to enforce it in the present? Or if they winked at infringements because the offenders were popular? Or if they saw perpetrators as having gotten themselves “tangled” in the law and in need of extrication by the police?  

To be sure, the police have been professionally trained to do their work, while our council and mayor are amateur policymakers—seasoned amateurs, but amateurs nonetheless.  

So it’s even more galling that the council’s injudicious denial of the Jeremy’s appeal was countenanced, not to say facilitated, by the professional staff who are paid to guide Berkeley’s elected officials through the thickets of law and history. Neither City Attorney Manuela Albuquerque nor Planning Director Dan Marks said a word. The one staffer who spoke, Land Use Planning Manager Mark Rhoades, reiterated the Planning Department’s support for Kidson’s expansion.  

The only official to stand up for the law was Worthington. “We have laws about what businesses can do and can’t do,” he said. “In this case, multiple businesses have been allowed to expand with use permits. Others have been forbidden to do so. How is that fair, and how is it reasonable? It’s not fair, and it’s not reasonable, and we should not be promoting that.”  

Worthington noted that Wayman’s request for a public hearing on his appeal was supported by many other Elmwood merchants as well as “by neighborhood associations in the district with very different political perspectives….Not to give these folks a chance to hear their arguments,” said the councilman, “is going to perpetuate the notion that we tolerate unfair and illegal actions on the part of the city…and I don’t think we should do that.”  

As he, unlike his colleagues, has figured out, neither do a lot of unhappy Berkeley voters.  


Zelda Bronstein is a former chair of the Berkeley Planning Commission. ?

Invasion and Reconstruction: It’s Déjà Vu All Over Again By NEIL COOK, Commentary

Tuesday December 21, 2004

I’ve got to admit it: There were parts of American history back in high school that simply bored me to sleep. So I probably slept through extensive parts of the subject. Recent events have, however, awakened an interest.  

There was just something about the headlines the past few months that seemed remotely familiar; like a hazy dream. I couldn’t focus clearly enough to realize what it was. 

Then, with this weekend’s news of “rebels” pulling election officials from their vehicle and executing them in the street in Baghdad, it hit me. I’d heard that term “rebels” somewhere before. 

Sure, there had been all that gory Civil War stuff with its mildly interesting names—take General Hooker for instance. Or Stonewall Jackson. There were rebels somewhere in those history lessons but that stuff I could almost recall. 

Then I tried to think about what an old history teacher always liked to call “the big picture.” 

The Civil War: (1) The invasion by the United States of a sovereign nation (at least in its own mind) that (2) didn’t have a terribly expansive concept of democracy; (3) had a history of violent oppression of its minority population; and (4) had resources and trade potential the U.S. wanted to control.  

Although it had overwhelming troop numbers, superior technology, much more extensive supplies and had virtual control of communications and of the seas, the Union army had a tough time subduing the locals. As I remember it the “rebels” had the advantages fighting on their home turf; being far more dedicated than the Union’s forces because they perceived their very way of life to be threatened whereas the Union’s soldiers were largely conscripts and mercenaries; and having superior leadership. For some reason Lincoln had a series of inept dullards as generals—his armies were frequently led by fools who probably couldn’t even sign their own names. 

Once they gained the upper hand, however, Union forces cut a swath of destruction through the South. General William T. Sherman’s little “march to the sea” with his armies of the Cumberland was a real effort to win the hearts and souls of the South by stripping the countryside bare as he moved forward. Atlanta was burned to the ground as part of this “scorched earth” policy. Things got so bad for the South that they even authorized the enlistment of slaves into their army!  

But none of this stuff has any particular relevancy to headlines of the past few months. 

It was that whole era of history known vaguely as “reconstruction” that has an eerie ring to it. So I did some reading. 

Once the South had been thoroughly trounced, the U.S. government set about establishing proper democracy. Union troops remained in large numbers to restore order and to protect citizens. For some reason anybody who was seen as cooperating with the North by running for office or by trying to register voters was likely to be killed. 

These rebels were downright brutal. They kidnapped people! They beheaded them! Left their headless bodies lying right in the street as a means of intimidation. They even burned people alive. Strung them up and set them on fire! 

The South wasn’t going to be allowed back into the Union until they went along with the whole “democracy” program. Union troops weren’t going home until this happened. 

Go ahead, I dare you. Crack open a history book and take a look to see just how long those troops were there (OK, I don’t remember either). I do know it was after Lincoln was assassinated, after Andrew Johnson survived impeachment by only one vote and well after Ulysses S. Grant’s term, and not until some time after Hays stole a presidential election from Tildon (the election of 1876). You could look it up. 

So, as a net result of throwing the country into a horrible debt, devastating a generation of its youth and fostering hatred—how did that whole “bringing proper democracy to the South” thing turn out? 

Well, that’s all more recent history. There was that creation of the Ku Klux Klan thing (founded by a Confederate general), then there was basically a century of denying blacks the right to vote, the right to an equal education, the right to ride in the front of the bus, and all that. But heck, if you overlook those small details it all turned out just wonderfully. 

I’m sure Iraq will work out just as well. After all, we’ve got machines now that can sign the names of inept military leaders for them. 


Neil Cook is a Berkeley attorney.

Surviving Suprematism: Lazar Khidekel By PETER SELZ

Special to the Planet
Tuesday December 21, 2004

An exhibition of art and architecture by the Russian artist and architect Lazar Khidekel is currently on view at the Judah L. Magnes Museum. It is entitled “Surviving Suprematism” and the drawings, watercolors, sketches and photographs of Khidekel’s buildings are indeed examples of survival. 

When Khidekel was 16 he began his studies at the art school in Vitebsk where Marc Chagall and Kasimir Malevich were members of an astounding faculty. The young Khidekel was more attracted to the radical vanguard position of Malevich, the founder of Suprematism. 

Suprematism was the first movement in art, which reduced—or advanced—painting to pure geometric abstraction. It originated in Russia just prior to World War I, at a time when Russian art—Cubo-Futurism, Rayonism, Suprematism, and Constructivism—were at the forefront of innovative explorations in art. 

The most renowned works by Malevich were his “White on White” series of 1917-1920 in which not only the depiction of objects, but even color and space were eliminated in order to achieve the purest form in painting. To enter the “pure realm of sensation,” Malevich asserted, all references to reality as we know it, were rejected. It was an art in which conceptual and cerebral concerns, reaching for the spiritual, were of prime import. Malevich, did, however, make suggestions for a utopian architecture, and produced models which had an important impact on the Bauhaus, and eventually, on modernist architecture. 

Lazar Khidekel was among the young artists for whom Malevich was the paradigmatic figure. The exhibition at the Magnes presents a number of splendid drawings, which he made between 1920 and 1922. They are small and show that large ideas do not need to be expressed in big format. They were done in the early days of the Soviet Union when the progressive politics of socialism and avant-garde art were for a short time in partnership. Khidekel then went on to study architecture and became a successful practitioner. 

The Soviet Union, after a brief time of enlightened support for new artistic expression, labeled modernist art “antihumanistic, pathological and decadent” and suppressed the art of the Suprematists and Constructivists, restricting art to propagandist Socialist Realism. 

Khidekel’s work as a successful architect in Stalinist Russia can be seen as a parallel to Shostakovich’s survival as an avant-garde composer in the Soviet Union. Khidekel managed to retain Suprematist concepts in some of the architectural sketches in the exhibition. His ideas of a Futurist city remind us of the projects by the Italian Futurist Antonio San ’Elia and Le Courbusier’s city plans. 

As seen in sketches and photographs in the exhibition, Khidekel built electric power plants, lumber mills, workers’ housing projects and schools. His proposal for a Tchaikovsky Museum, which appears to float above the ground, retains Suprematist concepts. His 1959 design for a Stalin Pantheon is a far remove from his progressive ideas. Khidekel was a finalist for this project, which, fortunately, was never built. 

But it was not only Suprematism which survived in a good many of his architectural designs, but it was Lazar Khidekel himself, a Jew in the anti-Semitic milieu of the Soviet Union, who managed to survive as a successful architect. He persevered in his utopian visions, as seen in his late watercolors, which clearly hark back to his early ideas. Daniel Libeskind was able to see beyond the facades of Khidekel’s official buildings when he expressed admiration for his architectural concepts. 

The nearly 80 objects in the exhibition, which celebrates the 100th anniversary of Khidekel’s birth are on loan from his family. His son Mark Khidekel, also an architect, and his daughter-in-law Regina Khidekel spoke at a symposium about his work at the Museum on Dec. 5. The exhibition will remain on view until March 20. 


Peter Selz is the founding director of the Berkeley Art Museum and a former curator of New York’s Museum of Modern Art.  


The Magnes Museum is open 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sundays through Wednesdays, and 11 a.m.-8 p.m. ; Thursdays, except Dec. 23 and Dec. 30 when it will close at 4 p.m. 

2911 Russell St. 549-6950. 

Donation requested.t

Arts Calendar

Tuesday December 21, 2004



Solstice Night of Noise, with noise artists, amplified plants, mutant instruments, and voltage made audible at 8 p.m. at 21 Grand, 449B 23rd St., Oakland, near 19th St. BART. http://music.acme.com 

Zydeco Flames at 8:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cajun dance lesson with Diana Castillo at 8 p.m. Cost is $9. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

Laurie Lewis’ Holiday Revue at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $15.50- $16.50. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 

Peter Barshay & Murray Lowe at 8 p.m. at Downtown. 649-3810. 

Anton Schwartz Quintet with Taylor Eigsti and Julian Lage at 8 and 10 p.m. Yoshi’s at Jack London Square. Cost is $10-$15. 238-9200. www.yoshis.com 

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


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


Music for the Spirit A Christmas concert with unusual Christmas Carols at 12:15 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church of Oakland, 2619 Broadway. 444-3555. 

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

Universal, salsa, at 8 p.m. at Shattuck Down Low, 2284 Shattuck Ave. Cost is $5-$10. 548-1159.  

Noah Schenker Trio at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 848-8277. 

The Ghost Next Door, Blue Sky Theory, Musashi Quartet at 8:30 p.m. at Blakes on Telegraph. Cost is $4. 848-0886. www.blakesontelegraph.com 

Clairdee’s Christmas at 8 and 10 p.m. at Yoshi’s at Jack London Square. Cost is $10-$15. 238-9200. www.yoshis.com 



Word Beat Reading Series at 7 p.m. with featured readers Allen and Ann Cohen at Mediterraneum Caffe, 2475 Telegraph Ave. 526-5985. 


Brian Kane, solo guitar, at 8 p.m. at Downtown. 649-3810. 

Ledisi at 8 and 10 p.m., also Fri., Sun. and Mon. at Yoshi’s at Jack London Square. Cost is $22. 238-9200. www.yoshis.com 



Berkeley Repertory Theater, “Polk County” A musical about aspring blues musician, Leafy Lee, at the Roda Theater, 2015 Addison St. to Jan. 9. Tickets are $15-$60. 647-2949. www.berkeleyrep.org  


Gary Rowe, solo piano, at 9 p.m. at Downtown. 649-3810. 

Ledisi at 8 and 10 p.m. also Sun. and Mon. at Yoshi’s at Jack London Square. Cost is $22. 238-9200. www.yoshis.com 



Sister I-Live, reggae, at 9:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $13. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 



Opera Piccola “Stolen Aroma” an interactive African folk tale with youth players at 2 p.m. followed by Kwanzaa concert, at Habitot, 2065 Kittredge St. Cost is $5-$6. 647-1111. www.habitot.org 


“O Magnum Mysterium” Tom Bickley with recorders, voice, electronics and environmental sound to create a 50-minute meditation, at 7 p.m. at Grace North Church, 2138 Cedar St., at Walnut. Donation $10. www.gracenorthchurch.org  

Fireproof at 9:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $11. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

David Grisman Bluegrass Experience at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $24.50-$25.50. 548-1761. www.freight- 


Odd Shaped Case, Balkan music brunch, at 10 a.m. at Nomad Cafe, 6500 Shattuck Ave. 595-5344. www.nomadcafe.net 



Poetry Express theme night “Between the Holidays” open mic from 7 to 9:30 p.m., at Priya Restaurant, 2072 San Pablo Ave. berkeleypoetryexpress@yahoo.com 


Songwriters Symposium at 8:30 p.m. at Blakes on Telegraph. 848-0886. www.blakesontelegraph.com 



Courtableu at 8:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cajun dance lesson with Cheryl McBride at 8 p.m. Cost is $9. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

Stephanie Bruce and Brad Buethe at 8 p.m. at Downtown. 649-3810. 

Joshua Redman Elastic Band featuring Sam Yahel and Brian Blade at 8 and 10 p.m. Yoshi’s at Jack London Square. Through Jan. 2. Cost is $26-$100. 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. 



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


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

Mal Sharpe’s Big Money and Gumbo, New Orleans jazz, at 8 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $9. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

QBA, salsa, at 8 p.m. at Shattuck Down Low, 2284 Shattuck Ave. Cost is $5-$10. 548-1159.  

Riley Bandy Group at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 848-8277. 

Vienna Teng at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $17.50-$18.50. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 

The American Roots Music Show with The Shots, Red Rick & Friends, Stuart Rosh & the Geniuses, at 8:30 p.m. at Blakes on Telegraph. Cost is $4. 848-0886. www.blakesontelegraph.com 



Word Beat Reading Series at 7 p.m. with featured readers Dillon and Stephanie Manning followed by an open mic, at Mediterraneum Caffe, 2475 Telegraph Ave., near Dwight Way. 526-5985.  


Singing for Your Life with members of SoVoSó, from noon to midnight at First Congregational Church of Oakland, 2501 Harrison St. at 27th. Suggested donation $10 and up, no one turned away. 444-8511, ext. 15. www.artsfirstoakland.org 

Bhangra Mix at 8:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $6. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

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



Berkeley Repertory Theater, “Polk County” A musical about aspring blues musician, Leafy Lee, at the Roda Theater, 2015 Addison St. to Jan. 9. Tickets are $15-$60. 647-2949. www.berkeleyrep.org  

Shotgun Players “Travesties” and Dada Party at 8 p.m. at The Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby Ave. Tickets are $35, reservations required. 841-6500. www.shotgunplayers.org 


San Francisco Chamber Orchestra Classical celebration dedicated to the memory of Edgar Braun at 8 p.m. at First Congregational Church, 2345 Channing Way. Free. 415-248-1640. www.sfchamberorchestra.org 

Johnny Steele’s Hilarity Hoedown and Jocularity Jamboree at 9:30 p.m. at the Julia Morgan Center for the Arts. Tickets are $22-$28. 925-798-1300. www.juliamorgan.org 

José Roberto and Friends at 9:30 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $20-$22. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

New Year’s Eve Balkan Bash with guests Tzvetanka Varimezova, Ivan Varimezov and Kalin Kirlov at Ashkenaz. Cost is $18. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

New Year’s Eve Flamenco Fiesta with a traditional Spanish dinner at 9 p.m. at Café de la Paz, 1600 Shattuck Ave. Cost is $65-$95, reservations required. 843- 0662. www.cafedelapaz.net  

Art and Music Salon from 9 a.m. to 1 a.m. at Giorgi Gallery, 2911 Claremont Ave. For details on the event and for tickets see www.CHARISMAfoundation.org 

Bluegrass Gala with High Country at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $24.50-$25.50. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 

The People at 9:30 at Blakes on Telegraph. Cost is $12 in advance, $15 at the door. 848-0886. www.blakesontelegraph.com 

New Year’s Eve with the Naked Barbies at 9:30 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $6. 841-2082. www.starryploughpub.com 

David Jeffrey Fourtet in a New Year’s Eve Party at 10 p.m. at Albatross, 1822 San Pablo Ave. Cost is $5. 843-2473. www.albatrosspub.com 

Gary Rowe at 6:30 p.m. and Danny Caron and Friends at 9:30 p.m. at Downtown. 649-3810. 

Kool Kyle, hip hop, at 9 p.m. at Shattuck Down Low, 2284 Shattuck Ave. Cost is $5-$10. 548-1159. www.shattuckdownlow.com 

That 1 Guy at 9 p.m. at Jupiter. Cost is $10. 848-8277. 

Rock ‘N’ Roll Adventure Kids, Sacramento at 8 p.m. at 924 Gilman St., an all-ages, member-run, no alcohol, no drugs, no violence club. Cost is $6. 525-9926. 

Joshua Redman Elastic Band featuring Sam Yahel and Brian Blade at 8 and 10 p.m. Yoshi’s at Jack London Square. Through Jan. 2. Cost is $26-$100. 238-9200. www.yoshis.com?

Celebrating the Spectacle of the Returning Grebes By JOE EATON

Special to the Planet
Tuesday December 21, 2004

The grebes are back on the bay: the chunky eared and horned grebes, the elegant javelin-beaked Clark’s and western grebes. The eared and horned have traded the golden plumes of the nesting season for winter black and white, the permanent pattern of the two larger species. A couple of days ago at Cesar Chavez Park I was watching an eared grebe just offshore as it submerged with a forward leap, then popped up like a cork a few yards away. 

They’re odd birds. Ornithologists haven’t been sure where to classify them: For years they were placed near the loons, but recent genetic studies suggest their closest relatives are, of all things, the flamingoes. Grebes have stubby legs, set so far aft they can barely walk on land; they assemble rafts of vegetation into floating nests for ease of access. Alone among birds, they eat their own feathers, and feed them to their chicks—maybe to cushion the bones of the small fish that make up a large portion of their diet. 

Some of the eared grebes I’ve been seeing may be the same birds I saw early in October at Mono Lake, where I was in the presence of more grebes than I had ever seen in my life—and I mean that in a cumulative sense. I was at the South Tufa reserve, among the ancient formations that look like melted Manhattan skylines. The aspens on the east slope of the Sierra had turned, spilling down the mountainside creekbeds like flumes of fire. And the lake’s surface was paved with grebes. 

The bird traffic at Mono is seasonal. The California gulls had reared their young and dispersed, some to their urban parking-lot niche. The migrant Wilson’s and red-necked phalaropes had come and gone. October was the time of the grebes, over a million of them. They had gathered from freshwater marshes and prairie potholes all over the interior West to feast on Artemia monica, the lake’s endemic brine shrimp.  

The grebes have been known to consume 83 percent of the standing crop of shrimp in one season. They don’t even leave the lake to drink; the bodies of the shrimp satisfy their need for water. Fattening to the point of obesity, the birds molt their flight feathers and their flight muscles lose up to half their mass. If you’re going to be flightless, Mono Lake is a relatively safe place: There aren’t that many predators capable of snatching a grebe off the water. Toward the end of the season, the wing feathers grow back in, body fat is converted to breast muscle, and the grebes begin to work out, flapping their way along the lake surface. And one day they’re off again, on the last leg of the journey that will take some of them to San Francisco Bay. 

Watching all this natural plenitude—the grebes, the brine flies in windrows on the shore—it’s easy to forget that we almost lost this whole ecosystem. Twenty-five years ago, I wouldn’t have expected the spectacle of the grebes to last until the next turn of the century. 

The creeks that fed the lake were being diverted to supply water to Los Angeles, and the lake was shrinking, becoming too saline to support even the brine shrimp and brine fly larvae. One of the islands where the gulls nested had turned into a peninsula, a causeway for coyotes and other predators. Alkali dust from what once was lakebed blew across Highway 395. 

But, thanks to a visionary named David Gaines (who, tragically, didn’t live to see the result) and a handful of activists, Mono Lake is still alive. The courts reduced the diversion, and L.A. had to take water conservation seriously. The lake began to fill up again; some of the tufa towers that had been high and dry on my last visit now have their feet wet. We’re still a long way from the days when Mono attracted great flocks of ducks and geese, along with the gulls, phalaropes, and grebes. But it’s a beginning. 

Between the grebes on the lake and the grebes on the Bay, of course, lay the election. I had spent the intervening month in deep red states, carefully not talking politics with my relatives, and watched the returns in a Motel 6 in Bakersfield. And I came back to Berkeley in the state of shock that I suspect was prevalent here. 

Forget, for the moment, Social Security, the Supreme Court, the war in Iran (not a typo): It’s going to be a really bad four years, at least, for the environment. We’ll probably lose the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge now. As I write this, the Bush administration has just brushed off an independent report on the effects of global warming in the Arctic. Russia, Canada, the Scandinavian countries, the indigenous peoples want action; the U.S. wants to study the problem a bit longer. 

At a time like this, it’s salutary to remember when Mono Lake felt like a lost cause. And there are causes now that may not be as lost as we think. It’s going to be a long hard slog, but at least we don’t have to worry about being lulled into complacency and then sold out by the Democrats. The national arena isn’t the only game, if you look both to the local and the global. There’s a whole slew of groups doing good work—restoring native ecosystems, groundtruthing the data in bird and butterfly counts, straining their eyes on the fine print of government documents, lobbying, litigating—that could use your support, financial or otherwise. 

Hubris may yet take Bush’s gang down. Meanwhile, we can’t afford the luxury of despair. As Mother Jones (the labor leader, not the magazine) said, we need to be prepared to mourn the dead—and I’m afraid we’ll have many occasions to do that—and fight like hell for the living. 









Berkeley This Week

Tuesday December 21, 2004


Morning Bird Walk at 7:30 a.m. in Sibley to see the birds of an extinct volcano. For information call 525-2233. 

Winter Solstice Celebration at the Interim Solar Calendar, Cesar Chavez Park, Berkeley Marina, promptly at 4 p.m. 845-0657. ww.solarcalendar.org 

Winter Solstice Celebration from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. at the Chabot Space and Science Center, 10000 Skyline Blvd., Oakland. 336-7300. www.chabotspace.org 

“Chiapas Montes Azules Biosphere: Coveted by Corporatations” with Mary Ann Tenuto Sanchez and John Steinbach on Conservation and Ecotourism at 7:30 p.m. at Berkeley Fellowship Unitarian Universalists Hall, 1924 Cedar, at Bonita. Suggested donation $5 to Benefit Chiapas Solidarity. Wheelchair Accessible. 495-5132.  

Berkeley Youth Alternatives Basketball Jamboree, Tues. and Wed. at 6:30 p.m. at 1255 Allston Way. Team Entry Fee $50. for details call 845-9066. www.byaonline.org 

“Hard to be Merry” Service for those feeling disconnected from the celebrations of the season at 7 p.m. at Loper Chapel, at Dana and Durant. Sponsored by Trinity United Methodist Church, First Congragational Church and First Baptist Church. 

Berkeley Salon Discussion Group meets to discuss “Should People Keep Pets?” 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. 

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. 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. We offer ongoing classes in exercise and creative arts, and always welcome new members over 50. 845-6830. 


Walk Berkeley for Seniors meets every Wednesday, rain or shine, at 9:30 a.m. at the Sea Breeze market, just west of the I-80 overpass. Everyone is welcome, wear comfortable shoes, sunscreen and a hat. 548-9840. 

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



Telegraph Avenue Holiday Street Fair, with over 200 street artists, merchants, community groups, musicians and other entertainers, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.  


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

Telegraph Avenue Holiday Street Fair, with over 200 street artists, merchants, community groups, musicians and other entertainers, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.  


Bayswater Book Club Christmas Brunch at 9:30 a.m. at Frishmans’s New York Deli on Solano at Peralta. 433-2911. 


Boxing Day Birdwalk and Fete We’ll look for the wren and talk of its history and legends. Traditional music and refreshments afterwards. From 9 to 11 a.m. at Tilden Nature Area, Tilden Park. Fee is $5-$7, registration required. 525-2233. 

The Science of “All-Favor Beans” Learn how you smell and taste candy, make a toungue map and other games at 2 p.m. at Tilden Nature Area, Tilden Park. 525-2233. 



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

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 


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

Morning Bird Walk Meet at 7:30 a.m. at the end of Tennant Ave. in Bayfront Park in Pinole to see shorebirds. 525-2233. 


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

Red Cross Mobile Blood Drive from 1 to 7 p.m. at St. Mary Magdalen Parish, 2005 Berryman St. 1-800-GIVE-LIFE.  


Alameda County Community Food Bank’s Annual Food Drive accepts donations of non-perishable food in the red barrel at any Safeway or Albertson’s. 834-3663. www.accfb.org 

Critics Assail Proposed West Berkeley Bowl By RICHARD BRENNEMAN

Friday December 17, 2004

West Berkeley home and business owners told planning commissioners Thursday that when they endorsed the notion of a new Berkeley Bowl on their turf, they weren’t reckoning on a heavily trafficked super-store. 

While a few endorsed the idea of the 91,060-square-foot three-building complex at Ninth Street and Heinz Avenue, most of the speakers weren’t so obliging. 

And most of those who endorsed the project faulted the city for failing to reach out to the community to explain the proposal and its potential ramifications. 

“This is not the place to put that store,” said Primo Facchim, founder of the West Berkeley Association. Because of the high volume of traffic the store is certain to generate, Facchim said, streets would have to be widened to allow the flow of customers from Ashby and San Pablo avenues. 

The city staff report cited studies by the Institute of Transportation Engineers that grocery stores typically generate 102 average vehicle trips per day for every 1,000 square feet of floor area. 

With 54,735 of retail surface floor, the store would then be expected to draw at least 5,583 additional vehicle trips into the heavily traveled Ashby and San Pablo corridors. A study by transportation consultants Fehr & Peers said the only significant impact would be at the San Pablo Avenue and Ninth Street intersection—where they suggested a new traffic signal and crosswalk. 

Before the complex can be built, commissioners must amend the West Berkeley Plan land use map and change the zoning on the site from Mixed Use-Light Industrial to C-W, West Berkeley Commercial. 

Final approval of the specific building plans for the project fall under the purview of the Zoning Adjustments Board (ZAB). 

The proposal as it now stands is more than three times the 27,000 square feet originally proposed, prompting Mary Lou Deventer of nearby Urban Ore and the West Berkeley Industrial Committee to liken the project to “a welcome mouse that’s now grown into an elephant.” 

Deventer charged city staff with “railroading” a project that would generate enough traffic to swamp the intersection of Ashby and Seventh Street. 

“You’re about to drown the river if you add this much traffic,” she said. 

Antoine Portales, business manager of the East Bay French-American School (Ecole Bilingue de Berkeley) at Ninth and Heinz, said he was another early proponent who’d grown sour as the project size expanded. 

“At first, we were really supportive,” he said. “We are not in support of the project any longer.” 

Along with other neighbors, Portales had urged that access to the store be restricted to Ninth Street via Ashby Avenue and Anthony Street via Seventh Street, with no access from Heinz Avenue or Ninth Street to the north of the site. 

“The city traffic engineer said it would cause too many problems to close them,” Portales said. 

The school official said his main concern was student safety, both from increased traffic on Heinz, where parents typically drop off and pick up their charges, and from the effects of increased air pollution caused by heavier traffic. 

Ranil Abeysekera, who lives in the area and works at Inkworks, a nearby business, said he, too, initially supported the smaller scale project, “but it has become a larger project altogether in an already congested area. It’s totally out of control even as it stands now.” 

Abeysekera said he was also concerned about the health impacts of increased pollution and the negative effects of traffic on other nearby business. 

John Curl, a West Berkeley woodworker, also endorsed the notion of restricting store access to the south and west. “The community almost to a person wants no access through Ninth and Heinz,” he said. “What we’ve got is a rock and a hard place.” 

Curl called the city approval process “a steamroller” and urged commissioners to hold a community workshop to provide a forum where concerns could be fully aired. “If you give us enough time, we’ll have hundreds of people here.” 

“The staff report seems to me like everything’s being spun like Alice in Wonderland,” Curl said. “For the community, it’s going to be a disaster.” 

“It’s the scale of this project that frightens me,” said Susanne Hering. “It’s four times the size of the Andronico’s on University, and their restaurant is larger than any other in West Berkeley.” 

Hering then raised an issue that other critics said they also endorsed: “It sounds like this is not so much for Berkeley as for the surrounding communities.” If so, she said, traffic could be even heavier. 

Harpsichord-maker John Phillips said he was troubled by the growth of the proposal from a neighborhood store into “something like K-Mart, except with better vegetables.” 

Fran Haselsteiner of the Dwight Way Neighbors told the commission, “We don’t need a superstore in West Berkeley. What we need is a neighborhood store on the scale of Andronico’s on University.”  

Haselsteiner urged commissioners not to amend the General Plan “to accommodate a store that will have traffic impacts as far away as Dwight Way.” 

Ron Wichmann told the commission he too had had concerns but they had been resolved by a discussion with city Planning Manager Mark Rhoades. 

“My main concern is that this meeting was not noticed,” he said. 

The city sent formal notices to property owners within 300 feet of the project, but not to the larger community, Rhoades said. 

Susan Libby of Libby Labs said she was concerned at the erosion of industrially zoned land in West Berkeley. 

“You’re missing the boat in handling all these changes from industrial to commercial. Cody’s was supposed to be the line, and there wasn’t supposed to be any retail north of Cody’s. I don’t see how you can let it go on like this,” she said 

She too endorsed Curl’s call for a workshop. 

Project proponent Karen Hexem said she would be “delighted to think there’ll be that quality of store in our neighborhood.” Nonetheless, she said. “I would like to see more meetings to educate the neighbors.” 

Hexem’s remarks were echoed by fellow proponent Daniele Hellman, who said, “the city is not known for its process, for having a good lead time for the public.” 

Diana Keena, another Berkeley Bowl advocate, said, “I don’t live there, so I’m not concerned about the traffic.” 

Marvin Lipofsky was the only nearby resident to endorse the project without reservations. “It’s a great project. I’m all for Berkeley Bowl coming in. We need this, Berkeley needs this. This is a plus for Berkeley and a plus for the neighborhood, and we don’t need any more blocked off streets.” 

Stephen Dunn, a neighbor of Lipofsky, said he wouldn’t mind so much if the Berkeley Bowl were the last project built in the area, but “there are big things, very dense things coming down the pike in that neighborhood which would be terrible mistakes.” 

Gianni Ranuzzi, a member of the LeConte Neighborhood Association who lives near the existing Berkeley Bowl on Shattuck Avenue just north of Ashby, said her group had worked very hard to keep the store in their neighborhood and expressed fears that the new complex could lead to the closure of the older store. 

With Ranuzzi the public comment period closed and it was the turn of commissioners to ask their own questions. 

Because owner Glen Yasuda has avoided public meetings on his proposal—his name wasn’t even mentioned Thursday—Helen Burke and other commissioners posed their questions to project architect Kava Massih. 

When Burke asked why the original plans for the 27,000-square-foot store had been abandoned, Massih said the owner had determined that anything smaller than the current plan wasn’t economically viable. 

It was Burke who also took up Curl’s proposal for a public workshop, moving to hold a workshop at the commission’s next meeting on Jan. 12, followed by a hearing at a later meeting. 

Commissioner Joe Fireman endorsed the workshop proposal, as did Sara Shumer and Nancy Holland. 

There was immediate opposition from colleague David Stoloff. 

“Workshops turn out to be negotiating sessions,” he said. “I don’t know what would be gained.” 

After further discussion, Stoloff agreed to a workshop, but only if it were combined with a public hearing. “Double notification drags it out,” he said. Fireman immediately endorsed his alternative, as did Chair Harry Pollack and Commissioner David Tabb. 

Burke’s motion for two separate forums failed on a 4-3 vote, with only her colleagues Sara Shumer and Nancy Holland voting with her.  

A second vote on the combined workshop and hearing carried on a 6-0-1 vote, with Holland abstaining, placing the combined workshop/hearing on the Jan. 12 agenda. 

Commissioners also devoted some discussion to proposed changes in the city’s Landmarks Preservation ordinance but took no action.

Controversial Laney College Contract Put on Hold By J. DOUGLAS ALLEN-TAYLOR

Friday December 17, 2004

Peralta Chancellor Elihu Harris revealed Tuesday that he has halted negotiations on a plan to develop commercial uses for Laney College properties because of a perceived conflict of interest for one of the participants. 

Former Laney Physical Plant Director Ineda Adesanya’s consulting firm, IPA Solutions, was to be retained under contract to develop a facilities management plan for the district but was also listed as part of the team for developer Alan Dones’ Oakland-based Strategic Urban Development Alliance (SUDA). Harris said the contract offer has been withdrawn. 

The disclosure surfaced as the newly-elected Peralta Board of Trustees discussed the chancellor’s proposal for a contract with a third firm to produce a comprehensive land use development report for the district. The board then tabled Harris’s proposal. 

The Harris announcements and the board action came in rapid succession during the first meeting of the new Peralta board, signaling a new era of skepticism by trustee board members. 

Four of the seven Peralta trustees are first-term members, elected last month. 

With no advance notice, the outgoing board of trustees gave Harris approval last month to negotiate an exclusive, one-year contract with to put together a plan to develop the Laney fields and parking lot and the adjacent administration building. 

As part of his development team, Dones listed powerful developer Signature Properties, as well as Adesanya’s IPA Planning Solutions. Earlier this fall, a month after Adesanya left her job with Peralta, the trustees authorized Harris to negotiate a $90,000 contract with IPA to draft a strategic plan for the Peralta District facilities. 

The SUDA proposals brought immediate opposition from representatives of various Laney College constituencies. 

At this week’s trustee meeting, before Harris announced that the SUDA deal was on hold, Laney College Head Football Coach and Athletic Director Stan Peters told the board that the Laney College Faculty Senate, the Associated Students organization, and the Laney Classified Senate had all passed resolutions opposing the SUDA contract. They requested that the Peralta Community College District “not give away Laney College education land to special interest groups.” 

According to Peters, developing the field and parking lot would “destroy the education environment, athletic fields, and green areas of Laney College. These are not under-utilized or surplus lands, but green areas that make Laney look and feel like a college campus.” 

The proposed development would “turn Laney College into an asphalt jungle,” Peters said. He declared that the Laney Faculty Senate would call for a grand jury investigation “into this illegal affair” if the district went through with the contract. 

Meanwhile, more controversy was surfacing about SUDA itself. A check of SUDA associates listed on its website revealed that one of the principals in SUDA is controversial San Francisco bond financier Calvin Grigsby. Grigsby, who has close ties to State Senator Don Perata (D-Oakland), was indicted in 1996 for an illegal campaign contribution to former Alameda County Supervisor Mary King. 

King, now a consultant and lobbyist for SUDA, was part of SUDA’s presentation at the November Peralta trustee meeting. In 1999, Grigsby was indicted—but later acquitted—on federal charges of misusing $1.5 million in Port of Miami funds. In 1999, Perata was fined by the California Fair Political Practices Commission for failure to report $65,000 in income from six clients to his Perata Engineering consultant firm. Grigsby was one of the clients whose payment went unreported. 

Harris proposed a six-month, $45,000 contract with Scala Design & Development Services of Oakland to develop a district-wide facility land use and bond measure report. Newly-elected trustee Cy Gulassa questioned Harris’s proposal because it failed specify how it would coordinate with the SUDA and IPA contracts. 

“The IPA contract was withdrawn because of a conflict,” Harris told him. “The board approved it, but it was never executed. There is no contract with IPA Associates.” 

When Gulassa said that he wished the announcement of the contract’s withdrawal had come sooner, Harris told him, “The opportunity did not present itself before,” adding that “I’m making it public now.” 

Harris said the conflict occurred because IPA had been listed by Dones as part of the Laney land development project. 

He then announced that the SUDA contract itself was on hold because of “the controversy.” 

“There’s been no negotiation with Alan Dones and there’s been no effort to move forward,” he said. “We did not move forward because I believe that entering the contract was premature.” 

The trustees also deemed Harris’ proposed contract with Scala incomplete. Following a brief presentation by Scala principal Atheria Smith, the trustees approved, 4-3, a substitute motion by Trustee Nicky Gonzáles Yuen to table the Scala proposal. (Trustees Yuen, Gulasa, Clifton, and Withrow in favor of tabling, while trustees Linda Handy, Marcie Hodge, and Bill Riley voted against the tabling.) 

Yuen said he made the motion “because we need to take a slight step back in this process.” Under Yuen’s motion, the proposed Scala contract will first go to the facilities committees of Peralta’s four colleges, and then return to the trustees at the end of January. 

In another signal that the new trustees plan to keep Harris on a short leash, the board killed his proposal to increase the amount of changes the chancellor can make in large construction projects without trustee approval. The vote was 3-3-1 (Alona Clifton, Handy, and Riley voting aye, Gulassa, Hodge, and Bill Withrow voting no, Yuen abstaining) 

Currently, the chancellor is limited to making $200,000 in changes before coming to the board, but Harris wanted that limit to be raised to 5 percent of the original contract price. 

Harris said the proposal was aimed specifically at the $40.2 million construction of the new Vista College Permanent Facility in Berkeley, which would allow him to make a little over $2 million in contract changes without board approval. 

He was backed by Vista president Judy Waters. 

Before the vote, Harris said, “I want you to give me enough authority so that you won’t blame me for any untimely construction delays if we come up with unexpected contingencies.” 

He said that he would live with the decision taken by the trustees. 

In one of the trustee board’s non-controversial actions, they unanimously elected Bill Riley as board president and Linda Handy as vice-president. 


Challenge to Point Molate Casino Filed by Open Space Advocates By RICHARD BRENNEMAN

Friday December 17, 2004

Eastshore State Park supporters Wednesday filed legal papers in an attempt to block the casino and resort complex planned for Point Molate. 

Citizens for the Eastshore State Park (CESP) seeks to overturn the City of Richmond’s award of the property to Berkeley developer James D. Levine’s Upstream Point Molate LLC on the grounds that the transaction was made without an environmental review as mandated by the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). 

At least one other environmental organization may enter the suit, said CESP President Robert Cheasty, and the East Bay Regional Parks District is also contemplating its own filing. 

“I’ve been in contact with the park district, and it’s my understanding that they are considering filing tomorrow (Friday),” Cheasty said late Thursday.  

“A gambling casino is certainly not the highest and best use of the land,” Cheasty said. “It was a desperation move by the city to solve their financial problems.” 

CESP contends that the city was obligated to perform a full Environmental Impact Report before the transfer to address the full range of impacts the project could create. 

Under CEQA, environmental impact analyses are mandated at the earliest possible stages of the planning process to ensure that the project is designed to minimize impacts on the environment. 

The legal action, a petition for a writ of mandate, was filed in Contra Costa County Superior Court by Oakland attorney Stephan C. Volker. 

Levine, in partnership with gambling giant Harrah’s and the Guidiville Band of the Pomo tribe, plans to build a massive casino with 2,500 to 3,000 slot machines and 125 to 160 table games, along with four hotels, a major shopping center and a major live entertainment venue on land that was once a U.S. Navy refueling station. 

Upstream beat out a rival offer from petro-giant ChevronTexaco, which sought most of the site as a security buffer for its Richmond refinery, just over the ridge from the casino site. 

When an oil company official announced the firm’s offer for the site, he shared the platform with Cheasty and other environmental activists, who are calling for the majority of the site to be incorporated into the Eastshore State Park. 

“This is and has been public land and it shouldn’t be privatized,” Cheasty said. “It’s shoreline, and it should be preserved for the public, not just the rich and famous. There were lots of alternatives that should’ve been explored by the city, and there was no need to rush into the agreement. It could’ve been done slowly and thoughtfully.”  

The San Francisco Bay chapter of the Sierra Club has endorsed the CESP’s legal move, said chapter legal chair Norman LaForce. 

Volker said the next legal move is to serve the city and Upstream with formal summonses notifying them of the action and calling on them to respond. A process server was expected to deliver the legal notices today (Friday), he said. Another copy will be delivered to the California Attorney General’s office, which has the authority to intervene. 

The central issue, he said, is that the Land Development Agreement signed by the city requires Richmond to support the transfer of the land to the tribe. 

“Once the land is transferred, the city and the state lose regulatory control over the land except for their services agreement, which is a far cry from full control,” Volker said. “An Environmental Impact Report prepared after the transfer will not restore the authority the city gave up. It’s locking the door after the horse has left.” 

“I’m convinced we’re correct as a matter of law,” he said. 

“Our goal is a shoreline park, but we not opposed to some development at the site,” Cheasty said. 

“With regard to Indian casinos, we believe the issue of urban gambling needs to be put to a statewide conversation. The rent-a-tribe orientation taken by Harrah’s flies in the face of the original intent of tribal gambling proponents.” 

Calls placed to developer Levine were not returned. ›

Oakland Village Offers a Glimpse of the Past By RICHARD BRENNEMAN

Friday December 17, 2004

There’s a time warp in Oakland, nestled on the gentle slopes at the base of Dunsmuir Ridge, overlooking San Leandro to the west. 

It’s called Sheffield Village, though a film buff might immediately think of Pleasantville, the 1998 Gary Ross movie contrasting the black-and-white small town sitcom world of the ‘50s with today’s more conflicted reality. 

And today, it’s on its way to becoming Oakland’s newest landmark. 

Like Pleasantville, Sheffield Village is a world of modest, immaculately maintained two- and three-bedroom homes, of white picket fences and meticulous landscaping, making it a perfect setting for a film set in the era of the post-World War II boom. 

Lots are generous, 5,000 square feet and more, and each one unique according to its placement on the gently sloped terrain and along the pleasantly winding streets. Sheffield Village lies just east of Highway 580 about a mile south of the Oakland Zoo, and consists of about 300 homes. 

“It truly is a village,” said Chris Barker, a three-year resident who bought his home in January 2001, from the original owner, who had lived in the house for 60 years. 

“People know each other and participate in the homeowners  

association,” Barker said. “There’s an annual picnic, Christmas caroling and food drives. People love their homes and they want to preserve the look and character and feel of the neighborhood.” 

The move to landmark the community began eight months after Barker moved in “when one homeowner basically leveled his house to build something much larger and totally out of character with the neighborhood. It sparked a lot of outrage.” 

The proposal sailed through the Landmarks Preservation Advisory Board and now rests in the hands of the city’s Planning Commission, which holds the landmarking authority in Oakland.  

All Sheffield Village homes feature hardwood floors throughout, built-in bookshelves, glass-fronted china cabinets, fireplaces and a host of other amenities—and if buyers made their purchases before their homes were finished they could pick and chose color schemes, paint and wallpaper. 

The builders even allowed for design modifications for those who bought before construction had commenced, so that rooms could be made larger or smaller. 

And then each home received its own unique ornamentation, details ensuring that no two structures were alike. 

As Irwin Johnson, one of the subdivision’s architects, told a researcher for the Oakland Cultural Heritage Survey in 1991, “Embellishments didn’t cost much then. Many tradespeople were available then to do craftwork.” 

Completed homes with landscaping installed cost $4,750 to $5,950 when built, and buyers could move in with a ten percent down payment. 

Today those same houses sell for close to 100 times the original sales price—when they come on the market. A recent weekend tour of the subdivision didn’t produce a single “For Sale” sign sighting. 

Launched in 1939 to great fanfare in the Oakland Tribune, the 98-acre subdivision was built with $1.5 million in Federal Housing Administration funding, a noteworthy sum in the waning years of the Depression. 

At the time E.B. Field and his construction company launched the project, they boasted that it was “the greatest single group housing project in the West.” It was the largest FHA project of its day. 

While some homes have been expanded and second floors added, Sheffield Village remains largely intact, save for the 23 homes that were demolished in 1968 to make room for Interstate 580. 

There is one notable change from the original plans, as explained in a 1941 brochure distributed to prospective home-buyers. 

“First and foremost at Sheffield Village you have the guarantee of home protection. Everything has been done and is being done to safeguard your investment. You have the guarantee of a Declaration of Restrictions to be in force for 40 or more years. . .You are protected against the incursion of undesirable neighbors or unsightly homes.” 

Any possibility of mistaking the intent of the passage was resolved in the following page, which laid out the pluses of living in the development: “High type Caucasian neighbors proud of their homes.” 

Racial covenants were actually required by the Federal Housing Administration in all housing projects they financed. 

The Supreme Court ruled 6-0 in 1948 that the covenants couldn’t be enforced in court, but it wasn’t until 20 years later that Congress passed the Fair Housing Act, which outlawed discrimination in housing sales. 

Architect Johnson became one of the most prominent architects in the East Bay, with commissions including the home of Alameda County District Attorney and future U.S. Supreme Chief Justice Earl Warren, the San Leandro City Hall and the Salvation Army Building in downtown Oakland. 

Johnson designed many homes in the Piedmont and Rockridge neighborhoods, and several in Berkeley. Gail Lombardi of the Oakland Cultural Heritage Survey described him as “a significant architect in the Bay Area.” 

Some of his homes were destroyed in the 1991 fire, but many others remain. One of his San Leandro creations was featured in the September 1939 edition of House Beautiful.  

“We think very highly of him,” Lombardi said. “The Mid-Century architects are only now starting to be valued.” 

One of Johnson’s Berkeley buildings is currently up for consideration by the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission, the 1946 Colonial Revival style office building at 2040 Fourth St. that now houses Celia’s Restaurant. 

The architect kept working right up until he died in 1998, at the age of 95. Lombardi predicts he will become more prominent with the passage of time. 

One thing is certain: For anyone old enough to remember the 1950s, a trip to Sheffield Village is certain to evoke waves of nostalgia. 

For more information on the village, see the neighborhood website, www.sheffieldvillage.org/index.html.

Council Postpones Marin Avenue Plan, Approves Expansion For Elmwood Clothier By MATTHEW ARTZ

Friday December 17, 2004

The City Council Tuesday opted to postpone a vote to reduce traffic lanes on lower Marin Avenue until after residents get a second chance to chime in. 

The push to delay the vote until after a public hearing on Jan. 18 came from North Berkeley Councilmembers Betty Olds, Laurie Capitelli and Linda Maio, who were inundated with dozens of e-mails from opponents to the plan. 

If adopted, the city would re-stripe four blocks of Marin Avenue—one of North Berkeley’s most heavily traveled east-west traffic corridors—removing two automobile lanes and replacing them with two bike lanes and a center turning lane. The plan, which would go into effect for a one-year trial period, would reduce average speeds from 31 mph to 26 mph and improve pedestrian and bicyclist safety, according to a report from transportation consultants Fehr & Pierce. 

In addition to delaying the vote, the council requested that city staff include before and after traffic counts on potentially impacted streets so the city could evaluate the project. 

The council must make a final decision on the plan by the first week of February in order for the city to be competitive for a grant application, said Assistant City Manager for Transportation Peter Hillier. The re-striping project will cost $30,000, he said. 

Besides concerns that the plan would lengthen rush hour commute times and push traffic on to side streets, opponents have argued that they weren’t aware of the proposal when it went to a public hearing before the Transportation Commission in October. 

“No one on the south side of Sonoma Avenue received a notice,” said Deborah Moore, who added that cars already speed down Sonoma. 

No such opposition emerged in Albany, which last month approved the redesign for its share of Marin Avenue from Stannage Avenue to Tulare Avenue—the main access road for two city elementary schools. 

Berkeley’s participation in the plan would push the redesign four blocks east to The Alameda and avoid creating a merge at Tulare, which several members of the council feared could cause as much congestion as reducing lanes. 

“If we don’t do this we’re going to stack up cars anyway,” said Mayor Tom Bates. 

Also Tuesday, the council gave the final go-ahead for Jeremy’s, a popular College Avenue clothing store, to expand its shop into a storefront occupied by a neighboring real estate business. Several Elmwood area merchants and residents fought the expansion sought by Jeremy Kidson, who owns both the clothing store and the building at 2963 College Ave., citing that the shopping district’s quota for apparel retailers was full. 

The matter was appealed to the council, after the Zoning Adjustment Board last August voted 5-3 for Kidson, finding that the expansion did not add an additional clothing retailer and thus didn’t violate the quota system. 

The quota rules, which were designed to preserve retail diversity serving local residents, have been haphazardly enforced since they were implemented 23 years ago. Kidson, in fact, was allowed to violate the rules when he first opened his store in 1990. 

Speaking on behalf of the Claremont Elmwood Neighborhood Association, Dean Metzger asked the council to delay a vote and set a new public hearing on the appeal. 

“Neighborhood groups want to have input on what is going on with the quota system,” he said. 

Metzger was backed by Councilmember Kriss Worthington, the lone dissenter, who warned that by refusing to grant the public hearing, the council would perpetuate the perception that the city didn’t fairly enforce its laws. 

Instead, the council, not wanting to hamstring a successful store on College Avenue, chose to deny the appeal and ask the Planning Commission to review the city’s quota regulations for commercial districts. 

By a unanimous vote, the council approved changes to the city’s taxi scrip program, which offers taxi vouchers for elderly and disabled residents. To reduce staff overhead, which now consumes 36 percent of the $453,000 budget, the city will no longer sell taxi scrip or other paratransit tickets. The move is expected to save $36,000 in reduced staff time. 

Under the new plan, the city will distribute free scrip to eligible customers, who are over 70 and earn under 30 percent of the Bay Area’s Average Median Income (AMI). Current customers who earn under 50 percent of AMI will be grandfathered into the program.  

In an amendment proposed by Councilmember Dona Spring, the city will also distribute fee vouchers for the county-run East Bay Paratransit vans. Berkeley had been selling subsidized tickets along with the taxi scrip. 

The council also voted unanimously to expand the city’s Voluntary Time Off Program. Non-essential city services will be closed Friday, Jan. 14, Thursday, Feb. 10, Friday Mar. 25, Monday, Mar. 28, Friday, May 27. 

Voluntary time off (VTO) is designed to save money for the city which faces a $7.5 million budget shortfall and cut down on forced vacation payouts, which last year cost the city approximately $500,000. 

The first VTO day, Nov. 12, resulted in the use of $118,000 in vacation leave and a direct cash savings of $22,000 from workers who took the day off without pay, according to City Manager Phil Kamlarz. 

The next VTO days are Dec. 27 through 31. 



Council Calls for Presidential Vote Investigation By MATTHEW ARTZ

Friday December 17, 2004

As a recount proceeds in Ohio, Berkeley has become the first city to add its voice to the chorus of skeptics demanding an investigation into alleged voting irregularities in last month’s presidential elections. 

On Tuesday, the City Council unanimously passed a resolution requesting the Government Accountability Office undertake an investigation and calling for national election reforms. 

“Democracy is on the line,” said Phoebe Anne Sorgen of the city’s Peace and Justice Commission, which recommended the resolution to the council. 

Although she doesn’t expect the Bush administration or the Republican-controlled Congress to heed the city’s call, Sorgen hopes other municipalities and organizations call for investigations. 

Already Rep. John Conyers (D-Michigan), the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, has held informal hearings into irregularities reported in Ohio. Along with Democratic colleagues, Conyers has demanded that Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell respond to 12 irregularities in vote counting and election procedures disclosed during the sessions. 

On Wednesday, Conyers upped the ante, requesting that the FBI and an Ohio county prosecutor investigate possible election tampering in Hocking County, Ohio. The charges are based on a sworn affidavit by the county deputy director of elections, Sherole Eaton. According to the affidavit posted on Conyer’s website, Eaton said that a representative of Triad Governmental Systems, the firm which designed and manages vote counting software in Ohio counties, adjusted the tabulator in Hocking County last Friday in advance of this week’s scheduled recount. 

The recount, which under Ohio rules requires that 3 percent of the vote in each county be tallied by hand, is being funded jointly by the Green Party and the Libertarian Party. 

Closer to home, UC Berkeley Professor Michael Hout and a team of graduate students found that irregularities in Florida electronic voting machines may have awarded up to 260,000 votes to President Bush, who won the state by a margin of over 380,000. 

Berkeley’s resolution calls for, among other things, requiring that election day become a mandatory holiday or moved to the weekend, early voting throughout the county, a voter-verifiable paper trail of every vote cast, public access to election machine computer codes, consistent national standards for security and access, and that states appoint non-partisan officials to run elections. 

Councilmember Dona Spring pushed for the council to pass the resolution before its Christmas recess to show support for Conyers and others in Congress who are challenging the election results. 

“As time passes, the Congress will feel less pressure to deal with voting irregularities,” she said. 

At the request of Councilmember Gordon Wozniak, the council stripped the resolution of one section that noted that up to one-third of Berkeley ballots weren’t counted until three weeks after the election. The delay was due to a county policy that all write-in ballots submitted on election day be classified as provisional ballots, which require county officials to confirm that the voter is properly registered. Wozniak said he thought the matter was trivial compared to the other allegations in the resolution. 




Around Town

Jakob Schiller
Friday December 17, 2004

Tony McNair takes a break from panhandling outside the Walgreens in downtown Berkeley Monday morning..

New City Fire Chief Ready for the Challenge By MATTHEW ARTZ

Friday December 17, 2004

Berkeley’s new fire chief Debra Pryor was greeted with more hugs than handshakes as she took the reins of the Fire Department this week. 

A Berkeley native, who in 1985 became the city’s first female firefighter, Pryor, 43, held court Wednesday in her new office, which was still barren except for two bouquets on her desk and a shelf full of welcome-back gifts. 

“It’s extra special for me to come back to the community I grew up in and where I already have so many special relationships,” Pryor said. 

Even though Pryor is enjoying her homecoming, she is aware that pending budget cuts and sour relations between the firefighters union and city leaders could shorten her honeymoon. 

“I know I’m walking into a challenging situation,” Prior said.  

She pledged to work with the union on policy issues and empathized with their frustrations. 

“They are my group of workers and they are standing up for what they believe,” she said. “They don’t want their safety or the safety of the community compromised.” 

The firefighters union is still steaming from a series of budget cuts, arguing that the cuts pose safety risks and were made in spite of several alternative measures suggested by the union. Also there is lingering animosity between the union and city leaders after the city handed police officers a more generous contract. 

This year the firefighters were the only large city union to refuse a one-time reduction in scheduled salary increases to help Berkeley balance its budget, prompting the City Council to recoup the savings by reducing a fire truck company to part-time. 

In November a majority of voters rejected a union-backed tax measure that would have spared the truck and lessened future cuts. 

“Right now people are considering transferring to other cities,” said incoming union head Gil Dong, who added that firefighters have been frank with Pryor about their concerns. 

With 17 years in the department, Pryor already has strong relations with many Berkeley firefighters. 

“I’m really overjoyed that she’s coming back as chief,” said Tyre Mills III, a BFD apparatus operator. 

As his training officer, Mills III said Pryor never accepted mediocrity. He recalled her reaction when he told her that he was satisfied with a string of B grades. “She lit into me and demanded I study harder,” Mills said. “I look back on that whenever I test for a promotion.” 

After working her way up to the department’s deputy chief position, Pryor, who was passed up for Berkeley chief in 1997, said she decided to leave for Palo Alto in 2002 to work with then Chief Ruben Grijalva. 

“He reorganized the department to create a space for me and gave me a chance to learn a different system and face different challenges,” she said. 

Dan Firth, Palo Alto’s acting fire marshal, credited Pryor with engaging colleagues who needed to buy into changes she implemented. “In meetings she always found a way to build support and get other departments to help us out,” he said. 

Pryor, who started in Palo Alto as fire marshall and director of fire prevention and left as director of operations, said she would try to import some of the city’s professional development and training programs to Berkeley. She also hoped to bolster BFD’s budget with more revenue generating programs like ambulance transport services between hospitals. Palo Alto, she said, has a similar program and also receives money from Stanford University to help pay for the department. 

Pryor also wants to expand outreach in the community. She said she regularly attends career days at Malcolm X Elementary School, where she had been a student and where her mother worked as an administrator, and Willard Middle School, from which she graduated before attending Holy Names High School in Oakland. 

Growing up in Berkeley, Pryor, a Hayward resident, said she never considered fire fighting as a career that was available to women. It wasn’t until after she graduated from Arizona State University and was working as a temp for the Berkeley Rent Board that she stumbled upon a recruiter. 

“I looked at it as an opportunity to give back to the community,” she said. 

After months of training, where she proved she could run up stairs with 250 pounds of equipment, hoses and a dummy victim, Pryor made Berkeley history and began her rise through the department’s ranks. 

Pryor, who also has a masters degree in public administration from Cal State Hayward, is the second African-American Fire Chief in the country. Although she describes herself as “a chief who happens to be a women of African American descent,” she said the distinction means a lot to her. 

“I think it shows what’s possible for women in all walks of life.” 





Interim Report Says School Budget is Back on Track By J. DOUGLAS ALLEN-TAYLOR

Friday December 17, 2004

The board of directors of the Berkeley Unified School District received a guardedly optimistic first interim budget report at this week’s board meeting, showing that the assumptions in the district’s 2004-05 budget are on track. 

That budget, which projected unrestricted general fund revenues at $46.9 million, expenditures at $46.1 million, and an operating surplus of $743,000, was approved three months ago by the Alameda County Office of Education. 

And that is without the inclusion of recently-passed Berkeley School Measure B, whose funds will not begin kicking in for another year. 

This week’s meeting was the board’s last before the holiday break. The board’s next meeting is scheduled for Jan. 12. 

Recently re-elected directors Joaquin Rivera and John Selawsky, who were criticized by opponents for the district’s past fiscal difficulties during the election campaign, expressed pleasure at the updated budget report figures. Rivera welcomed the news. 

“It’s been so long since we’ve heard anything positive,” he said. 

But Selawsky noted that the district was “barely balanced.”  

“We are not flush,” he said. “We are going to be operating a bare bones budget for the next couple of years.” 

Director Shirley Issel added that “we’re still in a fiscal emergency. It’s survivable, but we’re still not in a strong position fiscally.” 

Even Berkeley school finances are in the black, Board President Nancy Riddle said a continued declaration of fiscal emergency is necessary “because the general fund cannot meet our fiscal responsibilities on its own.” 

District staff representatives said that added state average daily attendance revenue from a 300-student enrollment increase since the budget was approved in July were offset by related costs, including the hiring of new teachers. 

Director of Physical Services Song Chin-Bendib said that the district will still have to borrow money this fall in order to meet expenses until tax revenue comes in next January. Chin-Bendib said this was not unusual, calling the fall “normally a difficult period.” 

In other action at this week’s meeting, the board: 

• Gave qualified approval to revised site plans for Willard Middle School and Berkeley Alternative High School. Rivera, Riddle, and student Director Lily Dorman-Colby all abstained on acceptance of the plan. Following the meeting, Rivera said that the submitted plans were “less than acceptable,” a criticism he had made of site plans submitted by other schools at previous board meetings. The site plans for student achievement are required by the California Department of Education. Site plans have now been approved by the board for all of BUSD’s schools. 

• Unanimously approved a plan to add lights to the east parking lot of the Franklin Adult School “contingent on the funding being available.” The lights have been proposed because of concerns about safety and vandalism at the adult school, which relocated to the Franklin Street site, and operates its parking lot until 10 p.m. Director Terry Doran noted that there was general approval of the lighting plan from residents in the surrounding neighborhood. 

• Accepted, for information purposes, reports on the West Campus and East Campus properties. 

In regards to the West Campus site, where the district is projecting to eventually move its administrative offices, board approval of a planner is scheduled for February of next year. Community meetings are planned for March and April. Superintendent Michele Lawrence said that she is in the process of forming a staff committee to begin internal planning, with a site committee “a little ways off.” Construction of the new administration building is scheduled to take place between July 2007 and July 2008, with a move from the district’s present Old City Hall offices projected for September of 2008. 

At the East Campus site, where the district wants to tear down existing buildings and build an athletic field, a demolition site committee has already been formed and met. An athletic field site committee meeting has been scheduled for January of next year. 


Locals Open Wallets for Berkeley Public Library By MATTHEW ARTZ

Friday December 17, 2004

Boosters of the Berkeley Public Library have raised $100,000 to help the cash strapped institution buy more books. 

The Berkeley Public Library Foundation and the Friends of the Berkeley Public Library each raised $50,000 as part of an ongoing fundraising drive to plug the $300,000 shortfall in the library’s book-buying budget. 

“This makes up a third of our book-buying deficit. That’s really huge fur us,” said Library Director Jackie Griffin. 

The fundraising drive began this summer, said Berkeley Public Library Foundation Boardmember Michele Rabkin, but gained momentum after voters rejected Measure L, which would have erased the library’s total $1.2 million debt. 

After the vote, the foundation received its biggest pledge—$40,000 from Berkeley resident Alba Witkin. 

Griffin said the library began fundraising before the election because even if Measure L had passed, the library still would have faced a shortfall in this year’s book-buying fund which it slashed from $1.2 million to $900,000. 

“We’re trying to avoid a hole in our collection,” Griffin said. 

She said the extra funds would pay for second copies of popular materials and more small press and independent literature. 

The Berkeley Public Library Foundation, which raises private funds, and the Friends of the Berkeley Public Library, which raises money book sales, both formed in the mid 1990s to raise money to furnish the central library after renovations were completed in 2003.›

Independent Study Program Offers Model for State By ANNIE KASSOF

Special to the Planet
Friday December 17, 2004

On a balmy December morning, a student with dreadlocks and headphones sits in a sun-dappled courtyard, reading a book. Another student, with a green backpack and hair to match, strolls into a nearby classroom where a handful of kids sit at computers. Others work at round tables or talk quietly with teachers.  

Welcome to Berkeley’s Independent Study and Home School Program, whose high school operates under the umbrella of Berkeley High School. 

Sara McMickle, the energetic director, is passionate in her belief that Berkeley’s Independent Study model is an effective alternative for self-directed students, or for those who might otherwise slip through the cracks in a traditional school setting. A former English teacher at both BHS and Independent Study, McMickle, whose minuscule office is dominated by comfy chairs and crowded shelves, took over as administrator in 2002 after former director Carl Brush retired. 

McMickle describes Berkeley’s Independent Study program as “a small school with a strong commitment. People work here because they believe in the value of alternative education.”  

With 15 credentialed instructors who teach only the subjects they are proficient in (as opposed to some independent learning programs where, for example, an English teacher might also teach math), Berkeley Independent Study is gaining statewide recognition in the rapidly growing small schools movement. 

McMickle laments the misconceptions many have about nontraditional education and is quick to point out the numerous “bright, talented” kids who truly shine when given the chance to take more control of their education. The range of students in Independent Study is broad. From students who hold jobs–even full-time ones, to students whose involvement in athletics, music or theater takes precedence over regular class attendance, Independent Study provides a viable way for youth to take charge of their education and learn through life experience.  

McMickle urges people to see beyond the assumption that Independent Study is just an easy way out for kids who don’t want to be in school, and describes the dedication of students who have been accepted at Ivy League universities, including Yale and Harvard. 

The tiny campus, situated at the east end of the Berkeley High Alternative School on Derby Street, consists of two airy classrooms filled with tables, computers, and books. Here, high school students (there are presently 165 enrolled, and there is a waiting list) have weekly meetings with teachers, and may also use the classrooms to study and complete assignments during the week. 

In addition, the program includes resources and support for about 15 homeschooling families with children in kindergarten through eighth grade. (Children in these families participate in teacher meetings with their parents.) 

The Independent Study high school curriculum meets all the course requirements for graduation, including advanced placement science, and even physical education. (A P.E. student can get credit for taking, say, a martial arts class, or a swimming class at the YMCA, or may also be required to write about health and fitness.)  

Studio art classes are offered, and students can take lab classes at Berkeley High, or attend classes at local community colleges. They are not permitted to take more than two classes at BHS, but are allowed access to its resources, clubs, and activities. 

Students are given weekly assignments which they must complete before their next teacher meeting, and just as in a regular classroom, quizzes and tests are administered, or sometimes small group seminars are held. Socialization opportunities abound, with monthly museum trips and other educational activities. A trip to Mexico to study Spanish is in the planning stages.  

Although criteria for acceptance in Independent Study is based on a genuine belief in alternative education and an understanding of the way it works, teachers, who work closely with students to design appropriate lesson plans, view unexcused absences or failing grades harshly. They can result in reassignment to Berkeley High, or support to find an education plan that will work better.  

Sometimes life’s circumstances play a role in acceptance into the program. 

“We have many teen moms,” says McMickle. Being in Independent Study allows the young mothers more time to spend with their babies while completing high school graduation requirements. 

McMickle also emphasizes that, although considered a program of BHS, Independent Study is a small school with its own community and its own philosophy. Course work can be as academically rigorous as at the regular high school. But a crucial difference for many students is the level of individual attention they get from teachers, who give out their e-mail addresses and sometimes even home phone numbers. Students who felt lost and alone at BHS are supported to recognize strengths or skills they may never have known they had. 

The Berkeley Independent Study Community handbook is an invaluable resource in its own right. Filled with student artwork, it’s packed with a wealth of resources: websites, organizations, and volunteer opportunities through which students can get involved to help shape their futures. Some volunteer positions even offer class credit. And it’s chock full of inspiring quotes, from people like Mark Twain, who declared “I have never let my schooling interfere with my education,” or Gandhi, who said “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” 

Debates over the pros and cons of independent studies programs parallel arguments over the success or failure of homeschooling. Opponents wonder if lack of a socialized learning setting and little contact with instructors will adequately prepare kids for the rigors and routine that lie ahead, in college and as adults. They worry that kids won’t learn enough. 

Proponents argue that the discipline required for self directed learning can increase productivity and self esteem, with less of the peer pressure and “pecking order” inevitable in traditional school settings. They reason that students can learn more than they would sitting in a classroom with thirty or so other restless teenagers, and benefit from the one-on-one attention like the kind that Independent Study students get.  

The pressures of adolescence can be tremendous. For some–not all–programs like Independent Study can make the difference between a positive, rewarding educational experience, or dropping out. 

The philosophy of the Berkeley Independent Study program is perhaps best summed up by the quotation on a plaque in the reception area outside McMickle’s office: “If you can conceive it and believe it, you can achieve it.” 


Annie Kassof is a writer and a parent of a student in Berkeley High School’s Independent Study Program. In a subsequent article she will profile some Berkeley Independent Study students. 



Let’s Name All the Bridges By GAR SMITH

Special to the Planet
Friday December 17, 2004

San Francisco Chronicle cartoonist Phil Frank recently used his pen to draw attention to a sad fact: When it comes to naming our bridges, the Bay Area has responded with an uncharacteristic lack of panache. The Golden Gate stands alone as the one span with a memorably gilded moniker. Can you imagine how diminished that epic stretch of steel would be were it known simply as the San Francisco-Marin Bridge? 

And speaking of puzzles, why is it the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge and not the San-Rafael-Richmond Bridge? Is there some unwritten Go-West Bias? That would certainly explain the Hayward-San Mateo Bridge but, then, how do we account for the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge? When bridges are named after opposing points of departure, who gets top billing? This problem is easily resolved by naming our five major spans after deserving Bay Area heroes.  

New York has the George Washington Bridge. LaSalle, Illinois has the Abraham Lincoln Bridge. Louisville, Kentucky and Jeffersonville, Indiana share the John F. Kennedy Bridge. But in San Francisco, only the land-locked Third Street bridge consecrates the memory of a local hero—baseball legend and tavern-keeper Lefty O’Doul. 

But wasn’t there a Mister Dumbarton? Well, actually, no. That South Bay bridge was never officially named. Its commonplace title derives from the fact that the bridge’s eastern edge rises from Dumbarton Point (named, in 1876, for a Scottish town on the north bank of the River Clyde). 

Happily, we do have one stirring example of a major suspension span that jauntily bears the name of a true Bay Area legend. The newest bridge over the Carquinez Strait bears the name of Al Zampa, a 95-year-old steelworker who helped raise the first Carquinez Bridge. And who can argue that “Al Zampa” is not the perfect name to hang on a bridge? 

In the spirit of honoring Bay Area legends, let’s sound the trumpets and declare an Invitational Bridge Naming Competition. Whose names would we want to see enshrined on the Bay’s Bridges? 

Phil Frank and Robert J. Chandler have kick-started a worthy campaign to rename the Western flank of the Bay Bridge after Emperor Norton, Fog City’s most colorful eccentric. The good citizens of Oakland may wish to respond by rechristening the eastward wing the Jack London Bridge. 

Naming each section of the connection would give us the London-Norton Bridge (or the Norton-London). Another option would be to dub the two crossings in memory of the great labor leader who dominated the longshore workers unions on both sides of the Bay. What could be more resonant than collectively renaming the two portions of the Bay Bridge the Harry Bridges Bridges? 

Perhaps the Richmond-San Rafael (which connects the Point Reyes National Seashore with roads leading to Yosemite) could be renamed the David Brower Bridge. Should the Hayward-San Mateo become the Barry Bonds Bridge or the Owen Spahn Span? Should the Dumbarton become the Carol Channing Southern Crossing? Or—and I confess this is a totally beyond-the-pale suggestion—we could re-paint the Golden Gate in chrome and re-christen it the Steve Silver Gate. 

But why stop at the bridges? Howzabout: The Dianne Feinstein Incline; The Ram Dass Overpass; The Alan Watts Overcrossing; The Wavy Gravy Cloverleaf; 

The Danielle Steele Cantiliever; The Wynona Ryder Divider; The Herb Caen Expresslane; The Lawrence Ferlinghetti Ferry Jetty; The Scarlot Harlot Car Lot; The Mickey Hart Bypass? 

And no re-naming binge should be called complete until the Great Highway is renamed the Grace Slick Highway. (Complete with warning signs reading: “Caution: Slick Highway Be a-Head.”) 


Gar Smith is editor emeritus of Earth Island Journal and Associate Editor of Common Ground Magazine, which announced a “Name the Bridges” contest in its 

November issue. 



Cody’s Workers Approve Contract By JAKOB SCHILLER

Friday December 17, 2004

Employees at Cody’s bookstore voted unanimously, 41-0, to approve a new union contract earlier this week. The vote comes after almost three months of heated contract negotiations. 

According to Amity Armstrong, a employee shop steward and member of the negotiating team, the new contract cuts health care costs in half for employees with families and freezes premium costs for everyone until the two-and-a-half year contract expires. It also guarantees employees’ cost of living raises of up to 2.75 percent.  

According to both employees and owner Andy Ross, health care was the major sticking point during negotiations. 

“I think everyone is happy with it including Andy, which is nice,” said Armstrong. 

Employees are represented by the Service Employees International Union local 790. 


—Jakob Schiller 


Homefinders Bankrupt By MATTHEW ARTZ

Friday December 17, 2004

After 34 years of service, mounting debt and a sudden illness plummeted Berkeley’s longest running rental referral service into bankruptcy. 

“I just can’t borrow any more money,” said Homefinders President Dana Goodell, who took over the business five years ago from her father and uncle. 

Goodell said the last straw came in October when appendicitis kept her out of work for a month. 

“I thought, I’m just killing myself doing this,” she said. “I can’t do it anymore.” 

Word of Homefinders’ demise began spreading last weekend when its website disappeared and clients complained that their telephone calls had gone unanswered. Over the past four years the company reduced its workforce from 30 employees to three and earlier this year moved into a less expensive office space on Shattuck Square. 

Clients might have to wait a while for a subscription refund. Goodell said she is in the process of filing for bankruptcy and that the court would decide which creditors—bankers or clients—Homefinders would have repay first. 

Meanwhile, MetroRent, a San Francisco-based rental referral service with East Bay listings, has offered to honor the subscriptions of Homefinders customers. 

“We didn’t think it would be good for the rental referral business to leave the customers in a lurch,” said John McWeen, a MetroRent principal. 

Goodell said that she has sent e-mails to Homefinders customers and has already given full $60 refunds to those who signed up in the past week, several of whom, she added, had already found homes. 

Goodell blamed her company’s collapse on the rise of craigslist as a free alternative to rental referrals and the soft rental market that turned record profits in the late 1990s into unsustainable losses since 2001. 

“I don’t think it’s a viable business model anymore,” Goodell said. “Now that there are more resources, you can’t be just a rental listing service.” 

Berkeley is now down to one such service, eHousing, which Goodell said has done a better job at reducing overhead. 

Although technology has offered tenants and landlords new avenues to do business, Berkeley property owner Darleen Dhillon, who arrived at Homefinders office Wednesday to try to find out why her calls weren’t being answered, said the service was still essential. 

“Not everyone is going to go to craigslist,” Dhillon said. “Homefinders found me my best tenant.” 


—Matthew Artz 





Letters to the Editor

Friday December 17, 2004


Editors, Daily Planet: 

People of Berkeley: Thank you for your generous support to the George W. Bush administration and the Republican Congress. When President Bush first came to office, we sent out requests to every American household through the Internal Revenue Service requesting (OK, demanding) donations to help pay for our agenda and our expensive overseas wars. 

About 75 percent of those who responded pledged a donation, averaging $6,878 per household. But Berkeley put the rest of the nation to shame, with an 82 percent response rate and an average pledge 66 percent higher than the national average: more than $11,000 each! Thanks, Berkeley! We couldn’t do it without you!  

Berkeley has a reputation for being full of unpatriotic people with nothing better to do than protest the war and bad-mouth the nation’s leaders. But the numbers don’t lie. The people of Berkeley may like to march around and chant and complain, but when that hundred-billion-dollar war bill comes due and it’s time for someone to pick up the tab, nobody is more reliable. 

When you see the president announcing our next war, take pride in knowing that when Berkeley was asked to help make it possible, it did more than its share. 

Ishmael Gradsdovic 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

Raymond Chamberlin’s piece in the Daily Planet (“Two Lanes on Marin Avenue? A design for Road Rage!” Dec. 14-16) sounds mostly like the opinion of a guy who cares a lot more about his car than about pedestrian safety. Why is it that some people think automobile traffic is sacred? A guy down the block is of that ilk and accordingly he boycotts all businesses on Solano Avenue because one day a year they block off the street for the Solano Stroll, thus impeding his free access by car. I suspect it’s a mutually agreeable arrangement, however.  

I’ve seen some traffic engineering analyses that say that the four- to three-lane conversion can actually improve the flow of traffic, because people don’t get stuck behind non-signaling left-turners. It is documented that crossing three lanes is safer for pedestrians than crossing four. 

Putting in all those signals Mr. Chamberlin suggests would cost many times the amount of the proposed re-striping. Mr. Chamberlain offers no suggestion as to where that money would come from. Maybe the local Hummer owners group? 

It’s an experiment. Let’s try it. If it fails, re-think and try something else. Los Angeles and San Jose are proof enough that simply adding more lanes is not going to raise the quality of life for motorists, pedestrians, or anyone else. 

Bob Muzzy 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Raymond Chamberlin’s commentary posits that part of the problem with a Marin Avenue bike lane has to do with “1) today’s scarcity of public money, 2) excess in laxity in criteria for public grants, and above all 3) inadequate resistance to infiltration by bicycle extremists into positions in city and district governments.” 

Taking his third point first, bicycle advocates apply to and are appointed by elected officials. Chamberlin lives in Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson’s district and can take up the matter with Carson in case he’s dissatisfied with his appointee (which happens to be me). 

Chamberlin’s second point regarding “excess laxity in criteria for public grants” can be addressed to Alameda County Transportation Improvement Authority (ACTIA) in Oakland. Staff there will be Glad to invite him to our next meeting where we will explain the criteria we use for public grants. 

Chamberlin’s first point regarding “scarcity of public money” overlooks Measure B from the November 2000 election. That’s when voters voted to use sales tax revenue for bike and pedestrian projects and programs. Part of each dollar spent in this county during the past four years and for the next 16 years will be used for projects such as a Marin Avenue bike lane.  

Joe Kempkes 

Vice Chair, Bike and Pedestrian Committee 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I am concerned about what appears to be either a negative bias or sloppy reporting to the coverage of the Ed Roberts Campus project in the Planet.  

I am a person with a disability. I have, for years, been active in the independent living movement for people with disabilities. I have found activism on this issue to be necessary to my survival. The independent living civil rights movement has improved the lives of millions of people. The Ed Roberts Campus (ERC) project honors one of our movement’s founders and greatest heroes.  

The group (ERC) working on the realization of this project is comprised of agencies founded and staffed by people with disabilities and their supporters. We are of and by the disabled community. We are not developers. We have never built a building such as this before, but the idea was such a compelling one: Imagine a one of it’s kind, first in the world building, designed by and for folks with disabilities using universal design principles and keeping access for humans of all abilities in mind. This building is something for us and by us. But, has also been designed with the immediate neighborhood and our greater community in mind. It can also serve as an example to the world; a model to show what could be, if the guiding principles of building design were the inclusion of those of us who have been formerly locked in or out of older historical buildings. Modernization and technology have assisted the independent living movement: elevators, wheelchairs, computers, etc. So…. 

We propose to build a new building, one that admittedly does not look like buildings of the past. Those buildings did not ever have us in mind. The building we propose I expect to become an historical building; a part of the history of the disabled community and of the City of Berkeley, which is the birthplace of the Independent Living Movement. Buildings of the past, even the recent past, have been part of our oppression. We are hoping to change history and move to a brighter future.  

Historically, we who are visibly disabled have often been unacceptable because of our “looks.” Ironically and perhaps symbolically, the current opposition to the Ed Roberts Campus is choosing to say that they do not oppose the project, only the way we “look.” They say they do not want to delay the project, but since that is the result of their actions, I think the actions belie the words. I don’t believe that the result is an unintended consequence of their actions. 

Your paper has referred to the opposition as “the neighbors,” but our experience working with the neighbors over a number of years has been that there is a greater number of neighbors in favor of our project than opposed. Has your reporter been in touch with the supportive neighbors? South Berkeley is a very diverse community, both architecturally and attitudinally, I believe there is room for at the least, tolerance, and at the best, a welcome for what we propose to add to the community. Your reporter should take the time to do the research to get a more complete and accurate, or at least a more balanced picture.  

Stephanie Miyashiro 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Paul Kamen’s Dec. 14 letter claims, at some length, that it’s just fine for city commissioners to ignore public comment and their constituents’ opinion, and to instead simply vote their own preferences on an issue. (Mr. Kamen is trying to defend the Transportation Commission, which did just that on Oct. 21, when it endorsed the widely-opposed plan to remove lanes from Marin Avenue.) 

If Mr. Kamen, of the Waterfront Commission, has such a thoroughly undemocratic view of city office-holders’ role, perhaps this explains why he has been so eager in advocating a highly subsidized Berkeley ferry terminal. 

Diesel-guzzling ferries would serve only a tiny fraction of Berkeley commuters, at huge cost. They would do absolutely nothing to reduce the city’s energy consumption or its air-pollution impacts.  

For the many more Berkeley commuters who rely on buses and rail, ferries would simply dry up scarce transit funding. Those funds would provide many more trips if preserved for wheeled transit. 

That’s why ferries have generated such little enthusiasm locally. And why ferry passengers should enjoy their relatively luxurious ride, but pay its full costs — without subsidies. 

Marcia Lau 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

We are writing in response to your article “Berkeley Bakeries Offer Array of Holiday Treats” (Daily Planet, Dec. 10-13) by Kathryn Jessup. 

We were surprised to see that Virginia Bakery, which recently celebrated our 50th Anniversary as an existing bakery at the corner of Shattuck Avenue and Virginia Street, was omitted from your article. 

Virginia Bakery also specializes in numerous holiday treats including many German favorites such as stollen, bush noel, decorated gingerbread cookies and gingerbread houses. We offer a wide assortment of decorated cookies and melt in your mouth Danish butter cookies which are beautifully packaged in holiday boxes and trays which are excellent for gift giving. We also have an assortment of sweet breads including their extremely popular cinnamon nut bread, cranberry loaf and pumpkin loaf. 

Many of these recipes have been passed down from generation to generation of German bakers and continue to be popular with their customers over the last 50 years. 

We are wondering why Virginia Bakery was not included in Ms. Jessup’s article. Wasn’t this an article about Berkeley bakeries? 

John Erdman 

Owner, Virginia Bakery 


Editors, Daily Planet:  

Thank you for publishing the responses to my piece of Dec. 7-9. I will address each of the writers’ concerns. 

To encapsulate, I claimed that rent control violates the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution which states that no property shall be taken for private use without just compensation. I stated that a property under rent control is worth less in the open market hence rent control is unconstitutional. I also claimed that it is unconstitutional because of the provision found in the bill of rights which states that no state shall pass any law impairing the obligation of contracts. Clearly an agreement to rent an apartment is a contract between a landlord and a tenant and the state has no right to interfere. 

Neither of the letter writers, Peter Mutnick nor Mr. Chris Kavanagh offer a rebuttal to the above. I maintain that they cannot find fault because - to paraphrase one of our founding documents—these are self evident truths. 

Mr. Kavanaugh cites two Supreme court cases defending rent control. However, the Supreme court itself has reversed its own decisions in other areas and brought the law closer to the original intent. 

For example, for years blacks could not attend white schools; the Supreme Court decided eventually that it had to reverse its separate but equal position on the issue of segregated schools. When reading the constitution, no amount of obfuscation on the part of the Court could take away the fact that whites and blacks should have equal protections. In other words, even the Supreme Court gets it wrong. It is particularly wrong in ruling rent control constitutional. 

I am going to say it again: a landlord and a tenant are free to enter into a contract and the state should not interfere according to the US Constitution. What is so hard about owning up to the simplicity of the statement? 

Just think of the implications: Mr. Kavanaugh is basically saying that it is illegal for two people to enter into a contract (the apartment lease) they both agree to! 

The only place you would find that kind of thinking is in a George Orwell novel. 

Mr. Mutnick asks why judges and courts have reached the conclusion that rent control is constitutional. But this question has as much validity as asking why the Supreme Court upheld separate but equal for so long.  

If this was 1950 and the argument were about blacks not being able to attend white schools, somebody would have stated that it was because the Supreme Court had upheld it (even though it violated the plain language found in the Constitution). 

The Court was wrong in its separate but equal ruling just as it is wrong about its ruling on rent control. 

I am puzzled why Mr. Mutnick brought up Searle because the Court judged in his favor and it forced the rent board to compensate owners for the years of low yearly increases granted. It is not impossible to conceive that at some future point the Supreme Court may not rule rent control unconstitutional. 

That day may be closer than neither Mr. Kavanaugh nor Mr. Mutnick would care to admit. On Oct. 12, the U.S. Supreme Court granted the petition filed by the state of Hawaii in Lingle vs. Chevron and will consider its merits next year.  

Hawaii, joined by the City of San Francisco is challenging the Ninth Circuit Court of appeals’ ruling that gas station rent control is an unconstitutional taking. 

The case only applies to gas station rent control but it could have far reaching implications. Judge William Fletcher in his dissent stated: “virtually all rent control laws in the Ninth Circuit are now subject to [a heightened test of constitutionality under the Takings Clause] and many of those laws may well be unconstitutional under that test.” 

Also Mr. Kavanagh claims that trailer park rent control is constitutional. That is wrong. The Ninth Circuit recently followed Lingle in Cashman v. City of Cotati holding that mobile home rent control is unconstitutional.  

Although the Ninth Circuit has not declared all rent control unconstitutional, the tide is turning against the courts’ previous approval of rent control. It is a matter of time that what it did for blacks and women, the Supreme Court will someday do for owners of real property. 

Robert Cabrera 


Editors, Daily Planet:  

In the Letters to the Editor section of your Dec. 14-16 issue, Chris Kavanagh of the Berkeley Rent Board joined me on p. 12 in refuting the absurd claims of Robert Cabrera.  

I mentioned, however, that the pro-tenant stance of Berkeley politicos was not sincere, and I will provide in this letter some documentation of what I meant. In the motion copied below, passed with Chris Kavanagh's yes vote, the Housing Advisory Commission endorsed a Rent Board version of a ballot measure that is positively Orwellian. In every case, it weakens eviction controls over what they had been, while boldly proclaiming in the title to strengthen them.  

I can testify from personal experience that these weakenings of eviction controls, most of which went into effect, under false pretenses, are having real negative consequences for tenants facing eviction today. The following can be found on the City of Berkeley website: 



Regular Meeting 

Thursday, June 1, 2000 



a. Strengthening Eviction Controls 

After considerable discussion it was MSC (Rossi/Lopez)to recommend that Council approve the Rent Board version of the ballot measure to strength (sic) eviction controls in Berkeley with the following changes: 

- Occupancy requirements for landlord move-in be changed from 36 months to 24 months. 

- That the underlined words be added to the section which states: “The landlord may not recover possession under this subsection (13.76.130A) if a comparable unit, owned by the landlord in the City of Berkeley, was, at the time of the landlord’s decision to seek to recover possession of the rental unit, already vacant and available, or if a comparable unit, owned by the landlord in the City of Berkeley, becomes vacant…” 

- Change the age of protected seniors from 60 to 65 years. 

- Change the criteria in Section 9h(iii) to extend eviction protection to any tenant who has resided at the property for five years or more and the landlord has a 50 percent (rather than a 10 percent)or greater ownership interest in any form whatsoever, in ten (instead of 5) or more rental units in the City of Berkeley.  

The motion passed (Yes: Commissioners Gee, Kavanagh, Lopez, Rossi, Chairperson Turitz. No: Migdal. Abstain: None. Absent: Pietras, Vega). 

Peter Mutnick 



The Battle for Control of Oakland’s Public Schools By J.DOUGLAS ALLEN-TAYLOR

Friday December 17, 2004

The great abolitionist leader Frederick Douglass once cautioned us that “power concedes nothing without a demand, it never has, and it never will.” While this may be small comfort to Oaklanders agonizing over the present state of their public schools, one of my old ministers used to say that “if you want to get yourself up out of your bed of affliction, children, you must first pull off the covers.”  

This week Randolph Ward, the state-appointed administrator of the state-run Oakland public schools, has announced a new round of potential school closings because, according to the explanation in the Oakland Tribune, of “low enrollment, terrible test scores, or both.” Jonah Zern, an Oakland Education Association member and an activist with Education Not Incarceration who regularly sends out e-mailings on this stuff, puts the list of potential closings at five: Lowell, Golden Gate, King Estates, Carter, and Washington. That would equal the number of schools Mr. Ward has already closed in a little over a year since he was dropped on Oakland. Longfellow, Foster, John Swett, Tolar Heights, and Burbank have already closed their public school doors. 

In addition, Mr. Zern lets us know that 13 other Oakland schools—McClymonds, Bunche, Edna Brewer, Manzanita, Calvin Simmons, Havenscourt, Highland, Claremont, Allendale, Hawthorne, Stonehurst, Sobrante Park, Cox, Lockwood, Webster, Jefferson, Melrose, Whittier, Prescott, Horace Mann, Elmhurst, Manzanita, Madison, Rudsdale and Village Academy—may be radically transformed by the Ward Administration because they have failed to meet up with the standards of President Bush’s Control Of Education Law (it’s officially/unofficially called the No Child Left Behind Act, but why should we go around repeating Karl Rove’s talking points?). 

Under Mr. Ward’s proposed plans, those 13 schools will most likely be put into the hands of some charter school organization, who will be asked to transform the schools using the same meager finances available first to the Oakland Unified School District and then to Mr. Ward. That seems to guarantee continued chaos, confusion, and more school closings. 

It is the lack of full available funding for public schools that got Oakland into this trouble in the first place. The problem is that if you’re given a list of groceries to buy and not enough money to buy the groceries, you’re never going to be able to balance things out, no matter what you try. 

Like all other school districts in the state, the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) was charged with providing adequate education for its students. The state collects money from citizens in its various municipalities and then returns a portion of that money—in the form of a per-pupil average daily attendance stipend (called the ADA)—back to the school districts of those municipalities. Berkeley—a city of bright people directly to Oakland’s north—determined long ago that the amount given back by the state was not enough to do the job properly, and so voted in their own supplementary tax in the form of something called BSEP (the Berkeley Schools Excellence Project). Oakland parents love their children as much as Berkeley parents do, but thanks to Proposition 13 voting in local taxes is a difficult two-thirds hurdle that Oakland was unable to overcome, and so Oakland schools languished. 

One of the results was that for years, OUSD did not have enough money to pay its teachers properly, and so in the last year of local control, the administration of former Superintendent Dennis Chaconas—trying to jump-kick Oakland education into the 21st century—granted Oakland teachers a pay raise large enough to make Oakland competitive with other school systems in the Bay Area. The district later discovered that it did not have enough money to make those payments and the state stepped in. There is evidence and allegation that other factors contributed to OUSD’s fiscal problems, but without the teachers’ pay raise, those other problems could have been managed, the district’s budget would have remained balanced, and Oaklanders would have still been running their own schools. 

And so Oakland’s schools were seized because of “mismanagement.”  

Going back to the grocery store analogy, it is like the parent (in this case, the state of California) punishing the child (in this case, the citizens of Oakland) for not bringing back enough groceries, even though it was the parent who failed to provide enough money to buy the things on the list. 

And that leaves Oaklanders fighting the battle against the Bush Administration with someone else’s general in charge, a general who may not even be interested in saving Oakland’s schools for Oaklanders. 

Initially, we were told that Mr. Ward’s charge from the state legislative action taking over Oakland’s schools was to balance the budget and repay the line of credit advanced by the state so that the Oakland schools could be returned to Oaklanders. 

But in the year-and-change since Mr. Ward took over, we have heard less and less about his plans for loan repayment and return of local control, more and more about his own ideas for how Oakland’s schools should be managed, as if he is settling down contentedly in the job, with no end in sight. In fact, if there is, indeed, a timetable existing someplace which shows how and when the schools will be put back in Oaklanders’ hands, I haven’t seen it. 

Mr. Ward’s style of management appears to be like that of someone running a chain of banks or supermarkets; that is, close down any outlets that prove unprofitable. We have seen how such corporate thinking has affected Oakland, which has large stretches that the Wells Fargos and the Safeways of the world have abandoned. But public schools are not profit centers. They are services, with larger-than-education functions to anchor and stabilize the neighborhoods in which they exist. Maintaining them is a cost of retaining community. 

Oaklanders—being reasonable people—have spent the past year trying to reason with Mr. Ward over this problem. But perhaps the Age of Reason is coming to its inevitable conclusion, withering over its own lack of appropriateness to the actual situation. This is a struggle over power—the power of who shall control Oakland’s schools—and power concedes nothing without a demand, so said Mr. Douglass. True when Mr. Douglass. Still true, today. Perhaps some more direct-type of action is in order, like in the old-school days. 



Friday December 17, 2004

Gunman Foiled 

A hooded man packing a pistol confronted a 53-year-old woman walking along Page Street between Fifth and Sixth streets a few minutes before 8 a.m. Tuesday, said Berkeley Police spokesperson Officer Joe Okies. 

When she refused to hand over her cash, the heister hoofed it. 


Rat Pack Strikes 

A gang of six to eight teenagers surrounded a 40-year-old man on Allston Way at Strawberry Creek Park early Tuesday evening. 

After striking their victim with a piece of wood, the gang grabbed his cash and departed. 


Good Samaritan Official 

A felonious fellow who attacked a customer leaving the newly opened Spud’s Pizza at Adeline Street and Alcatraz Avenue Tuesday evening got more than he bargained for. 

A Good Samaritan in the personage of Taj Johns, a neighborhood liaison in the city manager’s officer, stepped into the fray and the batterer fled, with Johns in pursuit. 

She was able to trail the fellow until police arrived and arrested him for two counts of battery—one against the pizza buyer, the other against Johns—and one count of probation violation. 

The fellow was a familiar face to police, who had busted him early the previous day for trespass at a service station in the 1200 block of University Avenue. 


Belated Robbery Report 

A teenager called police during the lunch hour Wednesday to report that he’d been robbed of his cell phone nearly four hours earlier. He was able to identify the suspect, another juvenile, whom police then arrested. 


Anniversary Promotion 

Officer Lester Soo was promoted to sergeant Thursday on his 31st anniversary with the Berkeley Police Department. Among his many duties had been service as a field training officer teaching newly minted officers the ropes. 

One of those he trained was Officer Okies.)

They Say Kofi Annan is Scandalous? By NICHOLAS SMITH Commentary

Friday December 17, 2004

OK, as an early aside, I feel like I really need someone, anyone, to dedicate this letter to. I’ll just call my fictional recipient “Andy D. Quinio.” Sounds good. 

Anyhow, it has been revealed that Saddam Hussein has exploited the United Nations’ “Oil for Food” program, which allowed him to sell oil in exchange for humanitarian supplies. Apparently the dictator channeled much of the money into his personal coffers at the expense of the Iraqi people. To make matters worse, Secretary General Kofi Annan’s son Kojo was allegedly being paid by a Swiss firm, Cotecna Inspection Services, which bought Iraqi oil through the U.N.’s “Oil for Food Program.” It seems that the firm was granted a “no-bid” contract of sorts. 

In response to these and other allegations, freshman U.S. Senator Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) has called for the secretary general to resign his post because the scandal occurred “on his watch.” The good senator says that “Over the past seven months, the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, which I chair, has conducted an exhaustive, bipartisan investigation into the scandal surrounding the U.N. Oil-for-Food program” and “. . .[A]s long as Mr. Annan remains in charge, the world will never be able to learn the full extent of the bribes [and] kickbacks. . .that took place under the U.N.’s collective nose.” 

This particular United States senator seems to be very serious about eliminating fraud that occurs this particular government body. This is a highly admirable goal. If indeed the esteemed secretary general or anyone else is found to have committed fraud, resignations should be of the first order.  

However, the senator from Minnesota and his friends seem to salivate at the chance to dethrone General Annan, but they aren’t practicing their own assertions. Since Coleman is a “United States” senator, it seems that he should also be concerned with fraud that occurs right here in the United States, right? Well, it seems that Coleman would answer “no” judging from his absence on blatant fraud occurring inside the U.S. 

Has the man ever heard of Halliburton? Coleman’s Senate Boss, Dick Cheney, was CEO of Halliburton, as is well known. Not only has Halliburon allegedly inflated its profits with respect to cost overruns in Iraq, but it also has been accused of overcharging American taxpayers for services rendered in Iraq. In addition, they received their contract in terms that can be describes as “no-bid.” Somehow, the company that Cheney left in order to become (vice) president was the only qualified corporation to do reconstruction work in Iraq, a country that we should not have destroyed in the first place. 

If one needs another example of corruption in the highest levels of government, there are a plethora of them. A few of them are: The vice president’s meeting with Enron officials to write the energy policy of this nation behind closed doors, the name-leaking of a CIA agent’s wife, and the reliance on false intelligence which has lead to the deaths of thousands of our American troops. With respect to the illegal war, John Kerry said it best: “How can you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?”  

These scandals are only a few of the many that have been committed on the watch of George W. Bush. We’ll see what happens in the next four years. 

Norm Coleman and his fellow Republicans have somehow not warmed up to the idea of rooting out corruption within the White House, but they sure are adamant about resignations in the preeminent international body, the United Nations. World leaders left and right are coming to the Secretary General’s defense, rightly. “I believe Kofi Annan is doing a fine job...I very hope much he is allowed to get on with his job, “ says British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Take it from Blair, an incredible Prime Minister, and not an ideologically driven freshman conservative. 

If Coleman and his ideological colleagues want Annan to resign because of scandal that occurred on Annan’s watch, logic dictates that they would have called for the resignation or impeachment of George W. Bush long ago. They haven’t, thus their efforts to dethrone the secretary general is a continuation by conservatives of lacking something needed to be successful in the long term: credibility. 


Nicholas Smith is a sophomore at UC Berkeley.›

Rent Control is Fully Constitutional And Good Public Policy By PAUL HOGARTH Commentary

Friday December 17, 2004

I normally don’t waste my time responding to anti-rent-control hit pieces by Berkeley landlord and former BPOA President Robert Cabrera, but his latest attack on rent control (“Berkeley’s Rent Control Violates the U.S. Constitution,” Daily Planet, Dec. 7-9) contained so many lies and inaccuracies that even a second-year law student can easily refute them. So I’ve decided to take time out of studying for final exams to write a response.  

First, rent control does not violate the constitutional right to contract. As the courts have repeatedly ruled, the Contracts Clause in the U.S. Constitution only prevents government from interfering with pre-existing contracts. Berkeley’s Rent Ordinance was enacted in 1980, so any tenancy that began afterwards was clearly operating under existing law that the voters had overwhelmingly approved. 

As for tenancies that started prior to 1980, government can still regulate such contracts when (a) it serves a legitimate and significant goal, (b) the industry has been regulated before, and (c) the law is reasonable in light of that goal. Back in the late 1970s, rents were spiraling out of control, tenants were getting evicted for no just reason, and Berkeley was losing its precious diversity. It was only reasonable then to enact controls on a powerful industry that had always been familiar dealing with regulations. 

If rent control violates the right to contract, as Mr. Cabrera claims, so does the minimum wage, the eight-hour workday, and child labor laws.  

Second, rent control does not violate the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment, which prohibits government from taking private property without just compensation. Upset that landlording is a less profitable business than he would like it to be, Mr. Cabrera confuses basic regulatory laws like rent control and zoning restrictions with actual takings of private property like eminent domain (where the government does have an obligation to fully compensate the owner.)  

As the Supreme Court said in Penn Central Station v. New York (1978), the mere fact that a government regulation diminishes a property’s value does not make it a taking. If a local government feels the need to enact proper zoning regulation or control rents so that they are affordable, they can do so as long as the property owner gets a “fair return on his investment.” It only becomes a “taking” under the Fifth Amendment if the regulation makes it completely worthless. 

Fortunately, the Berkeley Rent Ordinance does not make a property completely worthless. Enacted in 1980, when landlords were already making enormous profits, the Rent Ordinance guarantees that all property owners maintain the same profits (adjusted for inflation) that they made in 1980. Any landlord can petition the Rent Board for an upward adjustment in rent if they can prove that their net operating income (total rental income minus operating expenses) has decreased over time.  

Furthermore, with the advent of Costa-Hawkins, landlords are now able to set initial rents in at market value, and with Cal students who move frequently making almost 50 percent of the tenant population, owning real estate in Berkeley will always be a highly profitable business. What Mr. Cabrera and other landlords really complain about is that they can’t make even more of a profit than they are now making under rent control.  

As the number one affordable housing program in Berkeley, rent control is a vitally needed program that helps the entire community. Low-income tenants who can never hope to afford owning a home in the Bay Area need rent control so that they can still live here and contribute to our culture. Young upwardly-mobile tenants who have not worked long enough to accumulate savings also need rent control, so that they can eventually have enough money to make a down payment and become homeowners.  

As real estate becomes more and more expensive in the Bay Area, and homeownership becomes a more difficult goal to accomplish, it is only sensible public policy to have rent control in a place like Berkeley.  


Paul Hogarth served on the Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board from 2000 to 2004, and is a second-year law student at Golden Gate University.‰

Holiday Gift Ideas From Two Berkeley Neighborhoods, and Then Some By ZELDA BRONSTEIN

Special to the Planet
Friday December 17, 2004

Elmwood District 


The goods at Global Exchange (2480 College Ave., 548-0370) are even more special than they look (which is pretty special). This is one of the three fair trade stores run by Global Exchange, an international human rights organization that works with communities across the country to build a greater awareness of global trade issues and to translate that awareness into Fair Trade activism by promoting exchange based on economic justice.  

Paying explicit homage to those goals, Global Exchange is selling “No Sweat” sweatshop-free sneakers made in unionized shops in Jakarta. Choose between Converse-style knock-offs in black and white ($38.50) and “Code Pink” high-tops in pink—what else? ($42)—or get and give some of both!  

Global Exchange has a large stock of exceptional scarves. Two standouts: gorgeous, naturally dyed, shimmery striped silk scarves made in women’s cooperatives in Laos and Thailand ($48-$68); and jewel-toned beauties knit out of silk sari scraps in India. Hats and gloves also available ($23.50).  

Also noteworthy are fanciful Haitian tin objects birds and geometrical shaps—made out of old oil drums ($32-$53).  


Your Basic Bird (2940 College Ave., 841-7617) has a huge selection of toys for all manner of pets. I was particularly charmed by the amusing (at least to this human) Polly Wanna Piñata biodegradable, bird-sized, eight-inch high paper piñatas filled with dehydrated banana, hemp seed and other avian goodies. Snowman, Santa, reindeer and candy cane shapes ($9.99).  


The Tail of the Yak Trading Company (2632 Ashby Ave., 841-9891) is always filled with extraordinary, exquisite things. Specially for Christmas: beautiful ornaments from Germany shaped like vegetables (artichokes, endive, garlic, nuts, peaches), fruits, birds with bushy tails, flowers, a string of acorns plus whimsical forms ($5-$40), as well as glass tree-toppers delicately rimmed with rows of hanging bells ($39). The Tail of the Yak also has excavated amber from West Africa ($50 a strand), Dosa purses made of sumptuous fabrics trimmed with lace ($190), and glass Petri dishes ranging from 1-1/4” to 10” in diameter, which make elegant storage containers ($5-$19). Much nicer than plastic boxes.  


At the Elmwood shopping district’s charming tea house, Far Leaves (2679 College Ave., 665-9409), you can get some of the best tea in the world at good prices. The teas, all from Taiwan and India, are personally selected by the shop’s owner. Craft Boxes, containing tea and biscotti or conserves ($15-$25) would make nice gifts. So would tea ($13.50-$27/oz.) and any of the store’s lovely tea pots and cups. Gift certificates available.  


For the robot fanciers on your gift list, check out Boss Robot Hobby (2953 College Ave., 841-1680). At this small but well-stocked shop, Ultraman Bad Guys—Kai Ju, in Japanese—can be had for $7.99 apiece or $48.99 for a bag of ten. Robocraft creatures by Tamiya include a rabbit, a beetle, a mouse and a walking triceratops, among others ($14). Boss Robot Hobby also has a range of Gundam model kits by Bandai ($10-$150). A child could take pleasure in building and maintaining one of the radio-controlled cars on sale here ($32.99 and up).  


Sweet Dreams, on the southwest corner of College and Ashby (2901A College Ave., 549-1211) has been making its own delectable candies for over thirty years and also sells candy from all over the United States. The shop has one of the best selection of handmade, sugar-free (sweetened with Sorbitol and Malitol) candies in the East Bay, including dark and milk chocolate, caramels, dark peanut butter cups (“To die for,” says the store’s owner), and milk chocolate pretzels. Gift boxes come in 1/2-lb., 1-lb., and 5-lb. sizes. For Christmas only, Sweet Dreams offers milk chocolate Santas filled with caramel (1/4 lb/$3, equals about nine or 10 Santas).  


North of the Elmwood District, at The Craftsman Home (3048 Claremont Ave., 655-6503), you can find Dianne Ayres’ fabulous Arts & Crafts period textiles. Ayres’ north Oakland studio fashions pillows, table linens, curtains and bedspreads out of flax canvas linen that is hand stenciled and then hand embroidered in pearl cotton or hand appliquéd. The motifs and some of the overall designs were created by Gustav Stickley’s Craftsman Workshops and other original purveyors of Arts & Crafts furnishings. The Craftsman Home has a nice selection of Ayres’ pillows, adorned with stylized pine cones, ginkgos, roses, California poppies or other stylized motifs ($60-$220). Kits cost $45-$50. Ayres’ textiles can also be ordered through her website at www.textilestudio.com.  


Upper Solano Avenue  


Two great Solano sources for beautiful scarves are By Hand (1741 Solano Ave., 526-3212) and Persimmon (904 The Alameda, just around the corner from the top of Solano, 524-3220).  

By Hand’s big and varied stock includes 100 percent cashmere scarves, and stole-sized silk velvet, Pashmina styles in a silk cashmere blend or 100 percent silk jacquard priced at $18 to $165. Scarves of chenille, wool blends and lightweight silk are selling for $20 to $100. Also at By Hand are cotton/acrylic and acrylic gloves in a rainbow of colors, all with matching hats, and some with scarves to match ($20).  

Among the many notable scarves at Persimmon are the ones made of fine Indian wool with subtle, woven patterns ($24, $49). Others are fabricated out of “eyelash yarn” ($36). My favorite was a multicolored (tomato red with mustard fringe), slightly chunky and totally striking number from France in a wool blend ($48). Also at Persimmon: eye-catching, whimsical jewelled stick pins, key rings and tack pins made of resin in Israeli. Insects and teddy bears. A dragon fly pin has a long whiskery tail. Wonderful. (Pins $18, key rings $12).  


Harmonique Home (1820 Solano Ave., 559-3229) is a beautiful new boutique that stocks quality objects from around the world, with a focus on Asia. One of its most popular offerings is a box of tea bags made of silken mesh shaped like an elongated pyramid and topped with a stemmed leaf holder that can be hooked over a cup. Black, green or herbal varieties ($10 for a six-pack, $15 for a mixed set of 12). Harmonique also has one-of-a-kind pagoda-shaped offering bowls made in Burma of lacquered bamboo ornamented with gold leaf and tiny mirrored tiles. Produced in the early twentieth century, these striking vessels, 11”–28” high, were originally used as food receptacles ($40-$798). The Christmas tree in the shop is hung with a variety of fetching decorations, including pretty cloisonné ornaments from China in the shape of bells, stars, trees and angels ($8).  


Finally, if you’re looking for Christmas music, it’s hard to beat the vast selection at Down Home Music Store (10341 San Pablo Ave., El Cerrito, 525-2129), which includes Christmas sounds rendered in jazz, rock ’n’ roll, folk, bluegrass, Motown, gospel, Latino, reggae, Norwegian, Slovenian—the list of choices goes on and on. One unclassifiable CD, recommended by a guy behind the counter, is Woody Phillips’ A Toolbox Christmas, featuring favorite carols played on hand and power tools. There must be somebody on your gift list who deserves this item.  



Local Merchants Promote ‘Green’ Holiday Gifts By PATRICK GALVIN

Special to the Planet
Friday December 17, 2004

For many people, the thought of shopping at a crowded shopping mall or big-box store fills them with dread. In addition, many Bay Area shoppers are concerned about the state of our local landfills in this age of consumer excess. 

In response, many independent Berkeley area merchants encourage people to shop for recycled gifts. Berkeley stores offer an eclectic mix of “gently used” clothing, furniture, architectural fixtures, books and music.  

“For music, I head to Telegraph Avenue because the selection is unparalleled,” said Reid Edwards, head of public affairs at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. With stores like Amoeba Music, Rasputin Music and Funky Riddms Records carrying the largest selection of used CDs, LPs, and tapes anywhere in the country, there really is something for everyone …whether your preference is classical, hip hop, reggae, funk or punk. 

Telegraph Avenue also has the Bay Area’s highest concentration of shops selling fashionable used and vintage clothing. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, only 16 percent of all usable clothing is recycled. The rest ends up in landfills, a compelling reason to shop for gifts at secondhand clothing stores. 

Stores like Buffalo Exchange, Mars Mercantile, Time Zone Vintage, and Happy Beats offer shoppers a treasure hunt for one-of-a-kind clothes, shoes, and accessories. Each store has an expert team of clothing buyers to guarantee a stylish selection. It’s economical and each item has its own unique character, not unlike the people you are shopping for. 

Telegraph Avenue has a long history as a hub of independent book stores. Moe’s Books, for example, is a four-story Berkeley landmark offering hundreds of used and out-of-print books. “We add to our inventory of used books daily, covering every imaginable subject,” noted owner Doris Moskowitz. 

Shoppers who can’t find the perfect book at one store have several options, including Shakespeare & Co. Books, University Press Books, the Cartesian Bookstore and Book Zoo. Each carries an extensive selection of used books in subjects from natural history to philosophy, religion, and art. 

The Wooden Duck in West Berkeley makes furniture and accessories out of recycled wood. Co-owner Eric Gellerman says that dining room tables made out of recycled wood from the bleachers at San Francisco’s Kezar Stadium, former home of the San Francisco 49ers, are popular holiday items. 

“One woman told me she couldn’t imagine a better Chrsitmas gift for her husband, an avid Niners fan, than a piece of the stadium where they used to play,” said Gellerman. 

The wood bleachers at Kezar Stadium were installed in 1922 and torn out in 1989 when the entire place was demolished after being irreparably damaged during the Loma Prieta Earthquake. “You can’t find better wood than the thick vertical grain Douglas Fir lumber that was used to build those bleachers. After we are done planing and staining it, you really appreciate the wood’s beauty and strength,” added Gellerman. 

The Wooden Duck also sells smaller “green” items made out of crushed coconuts and recycled wood from Indonesia. These include small bowls, trivets, and boxes. Gellerman remarked that gift certificate sales are up 500 percent this year over last since many people want to buy recycled Christmas gifts but want to make sure that the recipient gets something useful that doesn’t get “re-gifted.” 

Since 1976, Steve Drobinsky, the owner of Ohmega Salvage, has built his business while adhering to the value of recycling. His San Pablo Avenue store is a leading supplier of restoration materials to architects, contractors, and homeowners, and its goal is to save architectural materials that are still useful to others and essential to authentic restoration projects. 

“During the holidays, many of our customers realize that recycled gifts are environmentally sound and unique. Recently, a woman came into our store and purchased 20 pounds of assorted hardware that she needed to make gift boxes for the holidays,” said Drobinsky. 

With so many recycled gift choices, it is easy to reclaim the holiday spirit while saving money and preserving natural resources. You will feel better about contributing nothing to the local landfill, while Uncle Bob will be spared another tie and Aunt Edna will be grateful for a Christmas without another pair of fuzzy slippers. 

Arts Calendar

Friday December 17, 2004



“Sufi Chocolate” works on paper by Josephine Balakrishnan Reception at 6:30 p.m. at Red Oak Realty, 1891 Solano Ave. 527-3387. 


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, “Polk County” A musical about aspring blues musician, Leafy Lee, at the Roda Theatre to Jan. 2. 647-2949. www.berkeleyrep.org  

Bill Santiago’s “Spanglish 101” total immersion comedic excursion at 8 p.m. at La Peña. Cost is $10. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

Shotgun Players “Travesties” by Tom Stoppard, at The Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby Ave. Thurs.-Sun. at 8 p.m. through Jan. 9. No performances Dec. 23-26. Free with pass the hat after the show. 841-6500. www.shotgunplayers.org 


Indy Film Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Nomad Cafe, 6500 Shattuck Ave. 595-5344. www.nomadcafe.net 


Berkeley Ballet Theater “The Nutcracker” at 7 p.m. at the Julia Morgan Center for the Arts. Also on Sat. and Sun at 2 and 7 p.m. through Dec. 19. Tickets are $18. 845-4689. www.berkeleyballet.org  

California Revels “The Winter Solstice” music dance and drama of 18th century Scotland. Fri. at 7:30 p.m., Sat.-Sun. at 1 and 5 p.m. through Dec. 19, at the Scottish Rite Theater, 1547 Lakeside Drive, Oakland. Tickets are $15-$42. 415-773-1181. www.calrevels.org 

Organ Recital “Celebrating the Winter Solstice” with organist Angela Kraft-Cross at 7:30 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church of Oakland, 2619 Broadway, Oakland. Suggested donation $10. 444-3555. www.firstchurchoakland.org 

Oakland Opera Theater “Rake’s Progress” by Igor Stravinsky, at Oakland Metro, 201 Broadway. Thurs. - Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 2 p.m. through Dec. 19. Tickets are $22-$32. www.oaklandopera.org 

Women’s Antique Vocal Ensemble sings Christmas music at 8 p.m. at St. Leo the Great Parish, 176 Ridgeway Ave. at Piedmont Ave., Oakland. Tickets are $5-$10. 233-1479. 

Barry Syska at the 1923 Teahouse at 8:30 p.m. Donation $5-$10, no one turned away for lack of funds. 644-2204. www.epicarts.org 

Houston Jones at 8 p.m. at Caffe Trieste, 2500 San Pablo Ave., at Dwight. Donations accepted. 548-5198. 

Stompy Jones at 9:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Swing dance lesson with Nick and Shanna at 8 p.m. Cost is $13. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

House Jacks at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $18.50-$19.50. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 

Fishbone, ska, funk, rock, at 9:30 at Blakes on Telegraph. Cost is $15 in advance, $18 at the door. 848-0886. www.blakesontelegraph.com 

Asylum Street Spankers at 9:30 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $14. 841-2082. www.starryploughpub.com 

Scotty Rock & Roll at 9:30 p.m. at Beckett’s Irish Pub, 2271 Shattuck Ave. 647-1790. www.beckettsirishpub.com 

Michael Bluestein Trio at 9 p.m. at Downtown. 649-3810. 

Brown Baggin’ at 9 p.m. at Shattuck Down Low, 2284 Shattuck Ave. Cost is $5. 548-1159. www.shattuckdownlow.com 

Luna Groove at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 848-8277. 

Look Back and Laugh, Lights Out, The Answer, Last Priest at 8 p.m. at 924 Gilman St., an all-ages, member-run, no alcohol, no drugs, no violence club. Cost is $6. 525-9926. 

Charlie Hunter Trio at 8 and 10 p.m. Yoshi’s at Jack London Square, through Sun. Cost is $12-$22. 238-9200. www.yoshis.com 



“A Christmas Carol” the Dickens classic performed by Berkeley Public Library’s Teen Playreaders at 3 p.m., at the North Branch Library, 1170 The Alameda. Free, appropriate for ages 5 and up. Refreshments and carol singing will follow the performance. 981-6109. 

Los Amiguitos de La Peña with Bonnie Lockhart at 10:30 a.m. at La Peña. Cost is $4 for adults, $3 for children. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 


Rhythm & Muse featuring singer/songwriters Anthony Jerome Smith & Hassaun Jones-Bey. Open mic sign-up 6:30 p.m., reading/performance 7 p.m. Admission free. Piano & 2 mics available. Berkeley Art Center, 1275 Walnut St., between Eunice & Rose Sts. 527-9753. 

Phyllis Whetstone Taper reads from her new novel, “On Kelsey Creek” at 7:30 p.m. at the Leaning Tower of Pizza, 498 Wesley Ave., Oakland. 

Starhawk presents her new book “The Earth Path: Grounding your Spirit in the Rhythms of Nature” at 7 p.m. at Belladonna, 2436 Sacramento St. www.belladonna.ws 


Pacific BoyChoir Academy “Harmonies of the Season” at 7 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church, Oakland. Tickets are $15. 452-4722. www. 


Trinity Chamber Concert Karen Melander-Magoon sings the story of Clara Barton at 8 p.m. at Trinity Chapel, 2320 Dana St. Tickets are $8-$12. 549-3864.www.TrinityChamberConcerts.com 

San Francisco Early Music Society “A Venetian Christmas” at 8 p.m. at First Congregational Church, Dana and Durant. Tickets are $10-$25. 528-1725. www.sfems.org 

Kairos Youth Choir “Welcome Yule” with carols from many traditions at 7 p.m. at St. Marks Episcopal Church, 2300 Bancroft Way. Tickets are $8-$10. 704-4479. www.kairoschoir.org 

Bay Area Classical Harmonies Christmas holiday program featuring liturgical music from many traditions at 7:30 p.m. at Arlington Community Church, 52 Arlington Rd., Kensington. Tickets are $10-$15. 866-233-9892. www.berkeleybach.org 

The Magnolia Sisters at 9:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cajun dance lesson with Diana Castillo at 8:30 p.m. Cost is $13. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

Domeshots, Desa, Dexter Danger, hard rock, at 9:30 at Blakes on Telegraph. Cost is $10. 848-0886. www.blakesontelegraph.com 

The Sugarhill Gang, in a free hip-hop concert at 5 p.m. at Hilltop Mall, Lower Level, Center Court. 223-1933. www.shophilltop.com 

Jahi & The Life, Baby Jaymes, at 9 p.m. at Shattuck Down Low, 2284 Shattuck Ave. Cost is $10. 548-1159. www.shattuckdownlow.com 

J-Soul at 7:30 p.m. at Nomad Cafe, 6500 Shattuck Ave. 595-5344. www.nomadcafe.net 

CV1 at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 848-8277. 

Beth Robinson at the 1923 Teahouse at 8:30 p.m. Donation $5-$10, no one turned away for lack of funds. 644-2204. www.epicarts.org 

Rachel Garlin at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $17.50-$18.50. 548-1761.  


Shelley Doty X-tet, Sistas in the Pit at 9:30 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $7. 841-2082. www.starryploughpub.com 

Collective Amnesia at 9 p.m. at Downtown. 649-3810. 

The Warriors, Make More, Set Your Goals, Greyskull at 8 p.m. at 924 Gilman St., an all-ages, member-run, no alcohol, no drugs, no violence club. Cost is $6. 525-9926. 



Princess Moxie with Charity Khan and Jamband at Ashkenaz at 3 p.m. Cost is $4-$6. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 


Berkeley Community Chorus and Orchestra “A Ceremony of Carols” A free concert at 4 p.m. at St. Joseph the Worker Church, 1640 Addison St. 964-0665. www.bcco.org 

A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, based on the tradition from King’s College, Cambridge, England with St. Mark’s Choir Association at 4:30 p.m. at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, 2300 Bancroft Way at Ellsworth. Donations accepted. 848-5107, 845-0888. 

Bach’s “Magnificat” sung by the Temple Choir at 1 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church of Oakland, 2619 Broadway. 444-3555. www.firstchurchoakland.org 

Benjamin Britten’s “A Ceremony of Carols” at the 10:30 a.m. and 10 p.m. services at Northbrae Community Church, 941 The Alameda. 526-3805. 

Pappa Gianni & The North Beach Band, opera and Italian songs at 2 p.m. at Caffe Trieste, 2500 San Pablo Ave., at Dwight. 548-5198. 

ACME Observatory “Fluxus Night” conceptual music at 8 p.m. at 21 Grand, 449B 23rd St., Oakland, near 19th St. BART. Cost is $5-$10 sliding scale. http://music.acme.com 

Johnny Otis Living Tribute Band at 8 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $10-$12. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

The Magnolia Sisters, Cajun quartet, at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $19.50-$20.50. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 

Mirah, Dear Nora, Athens Boy Choir, Bye and Bye at 5 p.m. at 924 Gilman St., an all-ages, member-run, no alcohol, no drugs, no violence club. Cost is $6. 525-9926. 



PlayGround, readings by emerging playwrights, at 8 p.m. at Berkeley Rep, 2025 Addison St. Tickets are $15. 415-704-3177. www.PlayGround-sf.org 


Trovatore, traditional Italian songs at 6 p.m. at Caffe Trieste, 2500 San Pablo Ave., at Dwight. 548-5198.  

Secret Santa Show at 8:30 p.m. at Blakes on Telegraph. Cost is $8-$10. 848-0886. www.blakesontelegraph.com 

African Roots of Jazz featuring the music of Elvin Jones and John Coltrane at 8 p.m. at Yoshi’s at Jack London Square. Cost is $10. 238-9200. www.yoshis.com 



Solstice Night of Noise, with noise artists, amplified plants, mutant instruments, and voltage made audible at 8 p.m. at 21 Grand, 449B 23rd St., Oakland, near 19th St. BART. http://music.acme.com 

Zydeco Flames at 8:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cajun dance lesson with Diana Castillo at 8 p.m. Cost is $9. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

Laurie Lewis’ Holiday Revue at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $15.50- $16.50. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 

Peter Barshay & Murray Lowe at 8 p.m. at Downtown. 649-3810. 

Anton Schwartz Quintet with Taylor Eigsti and Julian Lange at 8 and 10 p.m. Yoshi’s at Jack London Square. Cost is $10-$15. 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. 


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


Music for the Spirit A Christmas concert with unusual Christmas Carols at 12:15 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church of Oakland, 2619 Broadway. 444-3555. 

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

Universal, salsa, at 8 p.m. at Shattuck Down Low, 2284 Shattuck Ave. Cost is $5-$10. 548-1159.  

Noah Schenker Trio at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 848-8277. 

The Ghost Next Door, Blue Sky Theory, Musashi Quartet at 8:30 p.m. at Blakes on Telegraph. Cost is $4. 848-0886. www.blakesontelegraph.com 

Clairdee’s Christmas at 8 and 10 p.m. at Yoshi’s at Jack London Square. Cost is $10-$15. 238-9200. www.yoshis.com 



Word Beat Reading Series at 7 p.m. with featured readers Allen and Ann Cohen at Mediterraneum Caffe, 2475 Telegraph Ave. 526-5985. 


Brian Kane, solo guitar, at 8 p.m. at Downtown. 649-3810. 

Ledisi at 8 and 10 p.m., also Fri., Sun. and Mon. at Yoshi’s at Jack London Square. Cost is $22. 238-9200. www.yoshis.com 



Berkeley Repertory Theater, “Polk County” A musical about aspring blues musician, Leafy Lee, at the Roda Theater, 2015 Addison St. to Jan. 9. Tickets are $15-$60. 647-2949. www.berkeleyrep.org  


Gary Rowe, solo piano, at 9 p.m. at Downtown. 649-3810. 

Ledisi at 8 and 10 p.m. also Sun. and Mon. at Yoshi’s at Jack London Square. Cost is $22. 238-9200. www.yoshis.com 



Sister I-Live, reggae, at 9:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $13. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 



Opera Piccola “Stolen Aroma” an interactive African folk tale with youth players at 2 p.m. followed by Kwanzaa concert, at Habitot, 2065 Kittredge St. Cost is $5-$6. 647-1111. www.habitot.org 


Fireproof at 9:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $11. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

David Grisman Bluegrass Experience at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $24.50-$25.50. 548-1761. www.freight- 


Odd Shaped Case, Balkan music brunch, at 10 a.m. at Nomad Cafe, 6500 Shattuck Ave. 595-5344. www.nomadcafe.net 



Poetry Express theme night “Between the Holidays” open mic from 7 to 9:30 p.m., at Priya Restaurant, 2072 San Pablo Ave. berkeleypoetryexpress@yahoo.com 


Songwriters Symposium at 8:30 p.m. at Blakes on Telegraph. 848-0886. www.blakesontelegraph.com 



Courtableu at 8:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cajun dance lesson with Cheryl McBride at 8 p.m. Cost is $9. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

Stephanie Bruce and Brad Buethe at 8 p.m. at Downtown. 649-3810. 

Joshua Redman Elastic Band featuring Sam Yahel and Brian Blade at 8 and 10 p.m. Yoshi’s at Jack London Square. Through Jan. 2. Cost is $26-$100. 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. 



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


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

Mal Sharpe’s Big Money and Gumbo, New Orleans jazz, at 8 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $9. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

QBA, salsa, at 8 p.m. at Shattuck Down Low, 2284 Shattuck Ave. Cost is $5-$10. 548-1159.  

Riley Bandy Group at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 848-8277. 

Vienna Teng at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $17.50-$18.50. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 

The American Roots Music Show with The Shots, Red Rick & Friends, Stuart Rosh & the Geniuses, at 8:30 p.m. at Blakes on Telegraph. Cost is $4. 848-0886. www.blakesontelegraph.com 



Word Beat Reading Series at 7 p.m. with featured readers Dillon and Stephanie Manning followed by an open mic, at Mediterraneum Caffe, 2475 Telegraph Ave., near Dwight Way. 526-5985.  


Singing for Your Life with members of SoVoSó, from noon to midnight at First Congregational Church of Oakland, 2501 Harrison St. at 27th. Suggested donation $10 and up, no one turned away. 444-8511, ext. 15. www.artsfirstoakland.org 

Bhangra Mix at 8:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $6. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

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

Literature of the Plant Hunters in the Giving Season By SHIRLEY BARKER

Special to the Planet
Friday December 17, 2004

As the season for exchanging gifts approaches, presenting something to read to an experienced gardener is a challenge. How-to books for beginners must surely number in the thousands. What book would most please the expert who has long gone beyond the double-digging and the companion planting, who requests a gardening book with humorous or scientific clout, who wants, in short, reading matter that rises above the mundane? 

My mother, lover of words as much as of gardening, allowed me as a child to sit in the herbaceous border among the lupines and oriental poppies while she weeded. I would lisp after her the floral mantras we both enjoyed, mesembryanthemum, dimorphotheca, eschscholzia. Afterwards, during a siesta, she would read. A favorite was Greenfingers, a series of books on the perils of gardening, that would wrench from her, like most mothers a woman of uncertain response to childish jokes, deep chuckles. I only remember one couplet: “There was a girl / who was so pure / She could not say / the word manure.” These books unfortunately are no longer in print. 

A comparably humorous writer in prose is Henry Mitchell, whose The Essential Earthman is also out of print. 

This out of print business is a problem in the more arcane reaches of the gardening world, it seems. A serious but no less entertaining genre concerning plant hunters can also be hard to find. Yet without these benign, intrepid, and often ambassadorial collectors, our nurseries and private gardens would lack the abundance of species that now prevails. Indeed in England, such is the paucity of its native flora, there would be next to no flowering plants. When one thinks of Sissinghurst and Kew, this is hard to imagine. 

It behooves us then to exert ourselves to search for these elusive authors as diligently as they looked for their plants. There are numerous titles. Mea Allan’s books on the topic, The Tradescants, The Hookers of Kew, and Darwin and his Flowers, although not available in bookstores, can be found online at abe.com, where prices diverge from $16 to over $80. Excellently written and researched, her books are highly recommended. 

A more readily available starting point is with the generic title The Plant Hunters. Several authors, or groups of authors, have used this title. Such books tend to be compilations of descriptions of the lives of the heroes who suffered privation in the name of horticulture, such as David Douglas (who gave Californians a certain fir), “Chinese” Wilson, and Frank Kingdon-Ward. This type of book helps one to decide whether to pursue the field, or a specific collector, in greater depth. Often there is an extensive bibliography for further reading. Musgrave, Musgrave and Gardner’s version of The Plant Hunters, subtitled “Two Hundred Years of Adventure and Discovery,” lists over seventy related books. This volume can even be found in local bookstores, including Mrs. Dalloway’s Literary and Garden Arts on College Avenue. 

Kingdon-Ward’s own writings are also out of print—unfortunately, because he was brave, insouciant, had much to say and said it with charm. In 2003 an edited collection of his writings, In the Land of the Blue Poppies, appeared under the Modern Library imprint. This is available from Cody’s in paperback at a modest price. Kingdon-Ward’s second wife joined him in his later expeditions as photographer. Judging from a picture of the state of her shoes and the look on her face, she enjoyed every minute of their shared hardships. 

Plant books of any kind tend to be difficult to digest. Just as the everyday manual of basic gardening lore often elicits agonies of guilt and frustration, so can tomes by renowned designers such as Gertrude Jekyll produce yawns of ennui. Plant hunting strikes a more compelling, more rewarding note. It combines real-life detection and adventure without loss of connection to the natural world. 

Plant hunters were often away from home for years. Conditions were frequently horrible and occasionally lethal. After the invention of the Wardian case, a huge glass structure that provided live plants with the necessary freshwater humidity for their long voyage, vast quantities of seeds and plants were successfully shipped to the United States and Europe from the more exotic realms of the globe, such as Nepal. Many previously unknown species survived, thanks also to the skills of the horticulturists awaiting their arrival.  

How the collectors kept good notes and good spirits in freezing or soaking (or both) weather at dauntingly high altitudes with food running low is pleasurable to learn, so long as one is sitting cozily by a fire or tucked up in bed. Their prose is often witty, as well as gently discursive. Like an after dinner liqueur, it is literature for sipping, savoring, and soothing. 

What could be more appropriate for the festive season? 

Berkeley This Week

Friday December 17, 2004


City Commons Club Noon Luncheon with Brett Schneider presenting a Magic Show. Children are welcome. Luncheon at 11:45 a.m. for $13, reduced price for children. Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant St. For reservations call 526-2925 or 665-9020.  

Philippine Textiles on display and for sale by the Filipino American National Historical Society from noon to 5 p.m. at the Berkeley Art Center. 499-3477. 

Holiday Healthy Gift Sale from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Berkeley Public Health Dept., 2180 Milvia St., 1st floor. Items include pedometers, bike helmets, bike accessories, and much more. 981-5367. 

Support Medical Aid for Iraq and a Peace Camp on the Iraqi/ 

Jordanian Border with Cindy Sheehan of Military Families Speak Out, Medea Benjamin of Global Exchange, Country Joe McDonald, Karen Pickett of BACH. At 7 p.m. at Berkeley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, 1924 Cedar, at Bonita. 495-5132. 

Community Based Solutions to Ending Violence Against Sex Workers at noon at Lutheran Church of the Cross, 1744 University at McGee. 981-1021. www.swop-usa.org 

Twenty-Fifth Anniversary of the North Berkeley Senior Center Celebration at 1:30 p.m. with entertainment and refreshments for all.  

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. 


Candlelight Vigil for Tibetan Monk facing execution in China, at 5 p.m. at the downtown Berkeley BART. Sponsored by Tibetan Youth Congress and Bay Area Friends of Tibet. 

“George Shrub with Dave Lippman” the world’s only known singing CIA agent at 7 p.m. at Redwood Gardens Community Room, 2951 Derby St. at Claremont Blvd. 548-6310.  

The Season for Slugs for youth age 7-11 to discover the cold and wet climate where banana slugs flourish. From 10 a.m. to noon at Tilden Nature Center, Tilden Park. 525-2233. 

“Winter Blooms!” Free garden tours at Regional Parks Botanic Garden. Sat. and Sun. at 2 pm. Regional Parks Botanic Garden, Tilden Park. 845-4116. www.nativeplants.org 

Bayshore Stewards Tidal Marsh Restoration from 9 a.m. to noon at the UC Richmond Field Station, near the Bay Trail in Richmond. We will install the native plants along the marsh edge and help create habitat for endangered species. We will provide tools, gloves, rain gear and refreshments. Heavy rain will cancel the event. 231-9566. 

Succulent Wreaths A class on how to make your own succulant wreath and keep it healthy throughout the year, at 10 a.m. at Magic Gardens Nursery, 729 Heinz Ave. 644-2351. www.magicgardens.com 

Women on Common Ground Help make holiday decorations for the Women’s Drop-In Center, from 10 a.m. to noon at the Tilden Nature Center, Tilden Park. Followed by a Nearly Winter Solstice Hike up to Wildcat Peak. Bring your lunch. Cost is $15-$18, registration required. 525-2233. 

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  

The Crucible Open House and Arts & Crafts Sale, including demonstrations in welding, blacksmithing and glassblowing, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sat. and Sun. at 1260 7th St. at Union, Oakland. www.thecrucible.org 

Berkeley Potters Guild Sale from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sat. and Sun. through Dec. 19. 731 Jones St. 524-7031. www.berkeleypotters.com 

Telegraph Avenue Holiday Street Fair, with over 200 street artists, merchants, community groups, musicians and other entertainers, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sat. and Sun. and Thurs. and Fri. Dec. 23 and 24. 

Berkeley Artisans Holiday Open Studios Sat and Sun. from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. For map see www.berkeleyartisans.com 

Fireside Story Hour Have a seat by the hearth to hear Native American stories about animals in winter at 1 p.m. at Tilden Nature Center. For ages 12 and under. 525-2233. 

Holiday Benefit Sale for Middle East Children’s Alliance with carpets, kilims and textiles, olive oil soap and handicrafts from Palestine from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at 901 Parker St., corner of Parker and 7th. 548-0542. 

Holiday Crafts Fair from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Berkeley Farmers’ Market, Martin Luther King, Jr. Civic Center Park. 548-3333. www.ecologycenter.org 

Berkeley Potters Guild Sale from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sat. and Sun. at 731 Jones St. 524-7031. www.berkeleypotters.com 

Berkeley Artisans Holiday Open Studios Sat and Sun. from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. For map see www.berkeleyartisans.com 

Telegraph Avenue Holiday Street Fair, with over 200 street artists, merchants, community groups, musicians and other entertainers, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sat. and Sun. to Dec. 19, and Thurs. and Fri. Dec. 23 and 24. 

The Earth Path with Starhawk at 7 p.m. at Belladonnna, 2436 Sacramento St. 883-0600. 

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. 


Gray Panthers Holiday Party with Linda Hodges of the Rockridge Institute, from 2:30 to 5 p.m. at Redwood Gardens, 2951 Derby St. 548-9696. 

WinterFest: Kwanza, Ramadan, Las Posadas, Chanukah Explore the winter traditions from different cultures. For children and their families from noon to 4 p.m. at the Oakland Museum of California, 10th and Oak Sts. Cost is $5-$8. 238-2200. www.museumca.org 

Labyrinth Peace Walk at 3 p.m. at the Willard Community Peace Labyrinth, on the blacktop next to the gardens at Willard Middle School, Telegraph Ave. between Derby and Stuart (enter by the dirt road on Derby). Free and wheelchair accessible. Sponsored by East Bay Labyrinth Project. 526-7377. 

Plants at Winter’s Edge Learn how plants get ready for winter, cope with the cold and set-up for spring at 10 a.m. at Regional Parks Botanic Garden, Tilden Park. 525-2233. 

Short Day, Short Hike Learn about the role of light in the life-cycles on animals and plants from 2 to 4 p.m. at Tilden Nature Area, Tilden Park. 525-2233. 


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 

World Affairs/Politics Discussion Group for people 60 years and over meets Mondays at 10:15 a.m. at the Albany Senior Center, 846 Masonic Ave. Join at any time. 524-9122. 

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


Morning Bird Walk at 7:30 a.m. in Sibley to see the birds of an extinct volcano. For information call 525-2233. 

Winter Solstice Celebration at the Interim Solar Calendar, Cesar Chavez Park, Berkeley Marina, promptly at 4 p.m. 845-0657. ww.solarcalendar.org 

Winter Solstice Celebration from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. at the Chabot Space and Science Center, 10000 Skyline Blvd., Oakland. 336-7300. www.chabotspace.org 

“Chiapas Montes Azules Biosphere: Coveted by Corporatations” with Mary Ann Tenuto Sanchez and John Steinbach on Conservation and Ecotourism at 7:30 p.m. at Berkeley Fellowship Unitarian Universalists Hall, 1924 Cedar, at Bonita. Suggested donation $5 to Benefit Chiapas Solidarity. Wheelchair Accessible. 495-5132.  

Berkeley Youth Alternatives Basketball Jamboree, Tues. and Wed. at 6:30 p.m. at 1255 Allston Way. Team Entry Fee $50. for details call 845-9066. www.byaonline.org 

“Hard to be Merry” Service for those feeling disconnected from the celebrations of the season at 7 p.m. at Loper Chapel, at Dana and Durant. Sponsored by Trinity United Methodist Church, First Congregational Church and First Baptist Church. 

Berkeley Salon Discussion Group meets to discuss “Should People Keep Pets?” 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. 

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. 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. We offer ongoing classes in exercise and creative arts, and always welcome new members over 50. 845-6830. 


Walk Berkeley for Seniors meets every Wednesday, rain or shine, at 9:30 a.m. at the Sea Breeze market, just west of the I-80 overpass. Everyone is welcome, wear comfortable shoes, sunscreen and a hat. 548-9840. 

Fresh Produce Stand at San Pablo Park from 3 to 6:30 p.m. in the Frances Albrier Community Center. Sponsored by the Ecology Center’s Farm Fresh Choice. 848-1704. www.ecologycenter.org 

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 

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

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



Telegraph Avenue Holiday Street Fair, with over 200 street artists, merchants, community groups, musicians and other entertainers, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.  


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

Telegraph Avenue Holiday Street Fair, with over 200 street artists, merchants, community groups, musicians and other entertainers, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.  


Alameda County Community Food Bank’s Annual Food Drive accepts donations of non-perishable food in the red barrel at any Safeway or Albertson’s. 834-3663. www.accfb.org 

Firefighters Toy Drive Donate new, unwrapped toys and canned food to any Berkeley fire station. For information call 981-5506. 

United Way Bay Area is recruiting volunteer tax preparers and greeters/interpreters in Alameda County to assist low-income families who are eligible for free tax assistance and refunds. No previous tax preparation experience is necessary. There is a special need for volunteers who can speak Spanish, Chinese, and Vietnamese. Training sessions begin Jan. 8. Register now by calling 800-273-6222. www.earnitkeepitsaveit.org5



Seasonal Cheer at the Berkeley Flea By BECKY O'MALLEY

Tuesday December 21, 2004

Right about now things are starting to slow down a bit for some people (especially public employees who are taking advantage of optional holiday days off) and speed up for others (Santa Claus and the harried folks who help him out, especially mothers and fathers who have jobs they can’t escape even during the holidays). Last weekend was the countdown weekend for busy people who like to give gifts but don’t have much time to shop. And it was also the only pre-Christmas weekend for parties and such, given that the holidays are on Saturdays this year. There are those, of course, who pride themselves on using the solstice period as an opportunity to demonstrate that they can even be self-absorbed in the midst of the frenetic efforts to connect that motivate others at this time of year. While those about them are wrapping presents and singing carols, such people are taking long solitary walks on the beach.  

But for those of us who actually enjoy rubbing shoulders with our fellow humans, the cheeriest place to go on the weekend before Christmas has got to be the Berkeley Flea Market. It’s the place for those who decry excess commercialism to find interesting previously-owned presents. African-Americans are the proprietors of many of the best of these stands, taking advantage of the opportunity to enter the retail market with a good eye for quality and not much capital investment. Enterprising international vendors now occupy many slots, with merchandise from all over the world. Africans from Africa have set up shop next door to the African-Americans. Elderly Chinese traders in almost-antiques share booths with young go-getters bringing in plastic novelties from China.  

Which sellers come to the Berkeley Flea in any given year is a quick guide to the international situation. There are fewer items there now from Latin America, possibly the influence of NAFTA. Many of the stands which used to sell crafts made by Afghan refugees in Pakistan have been replaced by vendors of products made by refugees from Tibet.  

The Afghan family which sells beautiful carpets is still represented, but there have been changes. They used to stock some rugs which had pictures of Soviet helicopters and Kalashnikov rifles woven into the borders, left over from the Russian occupation, when they were made as souvenirs for the occupying army. Those have been gone for a few years now.  

For a couple of years the father of the family has not been at the market—he’s gone back to Afghanistan to see what has become of the family property there after the Americans came. This year the mother was gone too. Their daughter, who’s been hanging around in the family stall since she was a young teenager, has taken over sales. She told me that her mother is on a two-month trip home, but plans to come back to California, at least for a while. The daughter by now is a real American girl who speaks perfect English, and has, she says, no desire to move back to the ancestral home. But she knows her rugs.  

Women, especially middle-aged and older women, run many of the stalls, and they’re often ready to chat about business and family with another middle-aged woman. The lady who specializes in classy cookware and children’s clothes knows the ages of all my granddaughters and saves her best gently-worn party dresses for them. Another woman who has found many nifty items for me in the last few years has taken the bold step of shifting to selling only high-quality men’s clothes, like sweaters from the old Brooks Brothers, before it was acquired by Marks and Spencer and slid downhill. This year she told me that her family was in Alaska, and she’d be having a lonely Christmas. Vendors and shoppers often exchange more than just goods and money. 

What solitary beach-walkers share with flea-market shoppers is the desire to be outside during the short days of the solstice season. Sunshine, which we had last weekend, is a big plus for both kinds of people. And it’s really a necessity for flea-market vendors, whose yearly income rises and falls with the weather. When it’s been a good year, with several sunny pre-Christmas weekends, the regulars are in an especially expansive mood on the last Sunday afternoon before Christmas. Sellers start booth-hopping, exchanging gifts, greetings and goodbyes with their colleagues, many of whom go on vacation or buying trips in January and February. The bongo-drummers at the last Sunday market this year seemed to be twice the usual number and the volume four times as loud. The tamale vendor was sold out early, a disappointment to shoppers but a good sign for business.  

This has been a good year for the big stores selling luxury goods to the rich folks. Stores like Walmart which court working people haven’t had as much luck this year, because times are tough for many who aren’t rich. But let’s hope that the merchants at the Berkeley Flea Market, who offer patrons more than just merchandise, have had a successful year, perhaps taking some business away from Walmart. They deserve it.  

—Becky O’Malley 



The Market Speaks: Can Berkeley Hear? By BECKY O'MALLEY

Friday December 17, 2004

It’s official. The apartment shortage is over, the apartment glut begins. The end of Homefinders, a worthwhile enterprise which served a lot of needy customers in its heyday, is the final nail in the coffin of Berkeley’s haphazard building boom. While it lasted, it lined the pockets of a few already well-fixed investors, notably UC’s B-School Prof. Teece. Its legacy is demolished landmarks (the Doyle House, the Fine Arts Theater), crumbling buildings (the Gaia Building) and vanished institutions (the Gaia Bookstore, Anna’s Café on University). In its wake are promises: Anna’s really will re-open sometime in the Gaia Building; the fake marquee on the Fine Arts apartment building touts shows which will never play there. (Red Diaper Baby Josh Kornbluth shouldn’t let his good name be used for this particular scam.) 

Unfortunately, the people who run Berkeley don’t seem to have gotten the word. And who runs Berkeley? Who really knows? All we know for sure is that the behemoth downtown Seagate project, which will dump numerous luxury condos with ample parking for the owners’ luxury vehicles in the middle of Berkeley’s transit hub, sailed through the soon-to-be-lame-duck Zoning Adjustment Board without an environmental impact report, despite the fact that it violates the city’s Downtown Plan and has many other problems. Granted, that was the pre-election ZAB, including at least one appointee who exemplified the power of developer campaign contributions and another who makes his living in the real estate industry, but there’s little reason to expect better from the new ZAB. In any event, the Seagate project is now on appeal, and the new City Council still has the power to demand an EIR, but do they have the guts? One new councilmember is the self-same realtor whose substitute voted on ZAB to skip the EIR, so it’s doubtful he’ll vote for one.  

We should not conclude that just because the apartment shortage is over, the housing shortage is over. We are still short of housing for the lower-income families whose housing needs are pushing them to Antioch and Tracy and even farther afield. The demand for subsidized housing is much greater than the amount of money available, but we have no real proposals to solve that problem except the promise of a very few trickle-down units in market rate buildings. 

It’s possible that UC students will relinquish their grip on Berkeley’s stock of converted houses with yards in favor of the new apartments, and that this will free up more housing for the less privileged. UC students are more affluent these days because they have to be. Rising tuition and other costs are squeezing out low income students, and the rest might opt for sharing luxury condos downtown, particularly those which offer ample parking for SUVs which can be used for trips to Tahoe on weekends. Financial planning magazines carry articles suggesting that well-off parents purchase condos in their students’ names, to take advantage of the generous federal tax deductions for owner-occupied dwellings, which can be passed around within the family budget for the parents’ ultimate benefit.  

But the small landlords who tend to own the older low-rise apartments and converted houses will face a financial squeeze if students choose to move into new buildings already wired for the Internet. The remnants of rent control create a perception of risk for an owner who reduces rent to adjust to reduced demand, since raising rent back again if costs go up or the market shifts is significantly more difficult. There are no easy answers to these questions, but in the face of a complexly changing housing picture it seems unwise for city planners in Berkeley and surrounding cities to continue to press for more market-rate apartment construction with no consideration of the cumulative impact of what’s already been built.  

There’s an inherent conflict of interest for city planning staffs, since their budget increasingly is derived from fees imposed on builders. If construction decreases, eventually jobs for planners will also decrease. Continued growth equals job security for many of them. 

Livable Berkeley, the growth advocacy group for development and planning professionals, is currently lobbying councilmembers new and old for seats on commissions with planning authority: the Planning Commission, ZAB, the Landmarks Preservation Commission and the Housing Advisory Commission. The organization claims fewer than 125 actual members, but its experienced and well-wired board members know how to leverage their strength where it counts. Among them, for example, are Ali Kashani, a housing developer who has recently shifted from non-profit to for-profit, Todd Harvey, a key player in Jubilee Housing (now being investigated by HUD) and David C. Early, whose consulting firm, DCE, authored UC’s EIR for its latest expansion scheme.  

Naïve new councilmembers (or even naïve old councilmembers) might be tempted to listen to LB’s siren song and fill up commission slots with development professionals at the expense of citizens. That would be a major error. When the dust settles, the Planet will be doing a full report on who the new appointees are, and their affiliations. It should be interesting. 

—Becky O’Malley