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Richard Brenneman: UC Berkeley Assistant Professor Ignacio Chapela, left, and his attorney Dan Siegel held a press conference on the steps of Hilgard Hall to announce the filing of a lawsuit by Chapela challenging the university’s denial of tenure to the outspoken critic of genetically modified crops and UC’s ever-tighter embrace of corporate funding..
Richard Brenneman: UC Berkeley Assistant Professor Ignacio Chapela, left, and his attorney Dan Siegel held a press conference on the steps of Hilgard Hall to announce the filing of a lawsuit by Chapela challenging the university’s denial of tenure to the outspoken critic of genetically modified crops and UC’s ever-tighter embrace of corporate funding..


Chapela Files Tenure Suit Against UC Berkeley By RICHARD BRENNEMAN

Tuesday April 19, 2005

Ignacio Chapela, the UC Berkeley professor denied tenure after his outspoken criticisms of genetically modified crops and corporate/academic ties, filed suit in Alameda County Superior Court Monday against the UC Board of Regents. 

The action, filed by Oakland attorney Dan Siegel, alleges wrongful conduct by the university on three separate grounds: discrimination on the basis of national origins (Chapela was born in Mexico), violation of the California Whistleblower Protection Act, and false representations by the university of the real grounds of “secret, de facto requirements for promotion.” 

The lawsuit doesn’t include specific monetary damages, which Siegel said would be determined later in the course of the action. The suit does call for remuneration for: 

• Lost wages, earnings and benefits. 

• Compensatory damages for humiliation, mental anguish and emotional distress. 

• Injunctions to mandate redress of the alleged wrongs. 

• Attorneys’ fees and costs of the action. 

“I’ve been at UC Berkeley for eight years, and I have very mixed feelings about the case moving away from the internal processes of the university,” Chapela said Monday. 

Monday’s filing was forced by the impending statutory filing deadline for filing a discrimination lawsuit, Siegel said. Chapela filed a discrimination complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing last April 21, and received immediate notice of his right to file suit. 

According to the discrimination statue, any lawsuit must be filed within a year of state notification, forcing Chapela to act this week. On June 24, the professor also filed a complaint with the university alleging that he had suffered retaliation for his whistleblowing activities. He said Monday that the university failed to respond within the time required by statute. 

Chapela serves on the faculty of the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management of the College of Natural Resources. 

By most accounts, the controversial professor’s career foundered on two issues: his outspoken critique of UC Berkeley’s financial partnership with Novartis, a Swiss biotech giant since renamed Syngenta, and his publication of a report describing man-made genes in native strains of Mexican corn. 

Chapela and graduate student Richard Quist published their findings in Nature, long considered the world’s preeminent scientific journal, in November 2001. Agribusiness giants, alarmed by the implications of the findings, immediately launched a countercampaign designed to discredit the researchers. 

Much of the heat came from a British website that offered criticisms from supposed scientists who were later revealed as fabrications of the site’s creator. Critics also sent scathing letters to Nature, which responded with a quasi correction, the journal’s first, that advised readers to decide for themselves on the accuracy of the report. 

Despite the Nature flap, Chapela’s colleagues voted 32 to 1 in favor of tenure, followed by a unanimous vote for tenure by the Campus Ad Hoc Committee on tenure on Oct. 3, 2002. But on June 5, 2003, the university’s budget committee voted against tenure. After a second negative vote by the budget panel, then-Chancellor Robert Berdahl denied Chapela tenure on Nov. 20. 

The university agreed to keep Chapela on staff through the remainder of this academic year, and Chancellor Robert Birgenau is currently considering his case, Chapela said. 

“I believe there are illegal channels of influence driven by corporate, academic and political forces that are not disclosed to faculty,” Chapela said. “The university is governed by a shadow process, which I really look forward to shedding some light on through this action.” 

The net result of the process, Chapela said, is to harness the university, its faculty, and its students to benefit profit-making corporations rather than the common good. 

“This has gone on way too long,” he said. “My hope is that this action will open up the case to the public of Berkeley, this country, and the world.” 

Following massive academic and public outcry against the Novartis pact, UC Berkeley submitted the agreement for review by Michigan State University. Though their report found that many of the worst fears of critics hadn’t materialized, both UC Berkeley and Novartis agreed to end the compact when the five-year term ended in 2003. 

Siegel said he assumes the case will take 14 to 18 months to come to trial. UC Berkeley did not respond to a request for a comment on the lawsuit.›

Drayage Tenants Refuse to Vacate City Issues Citation, Owner Appeals By RICHARD BRENNEMAN

Tuesday April 19, 2005

Berkeley Fire Marshal David Orth said four citations representing $10,000 in fines would be mailed this morning (Tuesday) to Dr. Lawrence White, owner of the Drayage. 

The converted warehouse at Third and Addison streets was cited for numerous fire and building code violations last month. The Drayage’s tenants include artists, artisans and activists who have united in defense of their unique accommodations and have vowed to fight their evictions. 

The tenants and owner had criticized the city’s actions, and Don Jelinek, White’s attorney, filed an appeal late Monday with the city. While Orth said his citations are beyond legal challenge, Jelinek said the Berkeley Municipal Code does allow appeals in such cases. 

Under terms of the notice of violation, residential tenants had until 9 a.m. last Friday to vacate. But when the magic hour rolled around, only one unit had been vacated—and late on Friday Orth announced that he would issue daily citations until all illegally occupied units are vacant. 

Orth and city Building Official Joan McQuarrie toured the building Friday afternoon—at least those parts he could access—not long after two other tours by attorneys, one representing building owner White, and the other representing tenants hoping to save their unique West Berkeley residents. 

Jeffrey Carter, attorney for the tenants, said he’s working hard to negotiate a resolution that will allow the Northern California Land Trust to purchase the building with the goal of allowing tenants to return either as buyers of their own units or as tenants paying modest rates. 

“They assist in maintaining affordable housing, generally limited equity co-ops and cooperatives,” Carter said. 

Jelinek said he’s met with the trust once and plans another meeting later this week “where we’ll be talking numbers.” 

As a tenant’s rights lawyer who has practiced in Berkeley and the East Bay for the last 35 years, Carter said getting code enforcement officials to visit substandard housing is “like pulling elephants teeth. But here they came running down.” 

Myron Moskovitz, an attorney for the owner, toured the building in the company of Claudia Viera, a Drayage resident who has emerged as a strong voice for her fellow tenants, architect Mark Gorrell and a builder to compare the conditions in individual units with the findings of the city and Fire Department. 

Moskovitz said that because “city fines are eating into Dr. White’s capital,” the landlord is offering to pay costs of first and last month rent and deposits for new apartments for all tenants, as well as cash payments for moving out by specific dates, with payments declining the longer the wait. 

“The ideal solution would be that all the tenants would move out very soon, and then as soon as possible the building would be sold to a new owner who would rehab it and return it to the tenants,” he said. 

Under the terms of the citation, White originally paid $5,500 a day for the round-the-clock presence of a fire crew until they were withdrawn after someone fired a pellet gun in their direction. Moskovitz said the owner is now paying $1,000 a day for round-the-clock presence of two security guards to maintain a fire watch in the absence of the firefighters. 

Orth’s fines would add $2,500 a day to ongoing security costs, while Moskovitz said White’s total monthly rental income consists of between $700 and $800 each from 20 tenants. 

The tenants remain strongly critical of the city’s handling of the violations. 

“We’re pissed,” said Jeffery Ruiz, a furniture-maker who rents both living and work space in the Drayage. 

For the last ten years, Ruiz has plied his craft in the unlikely building, making unique furniture from salvaged lumber. “I sell everything I make,” he said. Part of the reason is the building’s location. “People like coming to my shop. They like coming to Berkeley and dealing with me.” 

While the low rents were a major attraction, the proximity to the shops of Fourth Street helps, Ruiz said. “I often meet with clients at Peet’s Coffee, and then there’s the Builder’s Booksource.” 

A hardware store, a lumber recycling company and the close proximity to other woodworkers in West Berkeley add to the desirability, he said. The one change he’d like is to alter his arrangements so he could rent another unit with ground floor shop space and living quarters above. 

Nemo Gould is another commercial tenant who builds things from recycled materials. Those his robotic sculptures are of another order altogether fromthe creations of his friend Ruiz.  

Gould’s shelves are filled with retired espresso makers, vacuum cleaners and other bits of industrial detritus waiting for conversion into his whimsical creations. Until he moved his shop into the Drayage 18 months ago, Gould plied his art in the Fruitvale section of Oakland in a location many potential clients didn’t care to visit. 

Because he doesn’t live in the building and his shop needed only minor alterations to bring it up to code, Gould hasn’t been ordered to vacate. 

The crisis at the Drayage began last month, when a snap inspection by Orth, McQuarrie and others revealed more than 250 separate violations at the former warehouse. The Berkeley City Council voted last week to waive fines if tenants vacated by Thursday, a date tenant Viera said isn’t reasonable. 

“If they had handled this reasonably, they would have explained the situation and given us three months,” she said. “Everyone probably would’ve moved out. But because they did this in such a draconian fashion, we’re having all this trouble.” 

Jelinek met with Drayage tenants for five hours Monday, “and we remain united,” he said. 

The controversy has soured many residents on city government, despite the fact that the enforcers say they’re acting in the best interest of the tenants. 

“I’m really pissed at Tom Bates,” said Ruiz, “and I voted for the guy.” 

The four tenants who did move out Friday said they were moving on to pursue their primary passion, events surrounding the Burning Man Festival held yearly in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada. 

Scruffy, Doc Holderdown, Dee and Michael said they regret their eviction from their unique three-story apartment. 

“The Drayage has been uniquely supportive of the Burning Man community,” said Doc. “It’s been the staging area for a lot of Burning Man events, and the sign was here. We’re going to miss the place.” 

Jelinek said that Friday’s inspection was the second by two groups of building and code experts who toured the structure on behalf of Dr. White. 

“We never dreamed that we’d discover that many of the city’s alleged violations aren’t real,” he said. “We’ve got concrete floors they say are not fire-resistant, and they say there’s electric cabling there that isn’t there.” 

Jelinek’s written appeal charges that the city’s inspection was sloppy and that the report “is filled with exaggerated conclusions and overblown rhetoric.” Seven pages of the nine-page appeal cite specific instances where his inspectors differed from the city’s. 

City Mandates EIR to Cover Proposed West Berkeley Bowl By RICHARD BRENNEMAN

Tuesday April 19, 2005

Berkeley City Planner Dan Marks has ordered Berkeley Bowl owner Glen Yasuda to prepare an environmental impact report (EIR) on his plans to construct a new Berkeley Bowl at Ninth Street and Heinz Avenue. 

“We’re not sure what impact this will have on the project,” said architect Kava Massih, who is designing the complex for Yasuda. 

Critics of the project, including John Curl of the West Berkeley Association of Industrial Companies (WeBAIC), and Zelda Bronstein, former chair of the Planning Commission, have called for the report because of the store’s potential impact on new commercial development in West Berkeley. 

Critics have charged that the project’s need to convert land currently zoned for manufacturing and light industrial (MU-LI) uses to commercial use would violate the West Berkeley Plan, which calls for preservation of existing MU-LI property. 

Other critics, including Mary Lou Van De Venter of Urban Ore, have also cited what they claim would be excessive impacts on traffic and parking in the congested Ashby Avenue corridor. 

Massih said the EIR will address “traffic, parking and all the other environmental issues.” 

He said the report will probably be completed by October or November, when the project will then head back to the Planning Commission—which must approve zoning changes—and the Zoning Adjustments Board, which authorizes use permits. 

With Five Principal Vacancies, BUSD Looks to Revise Selection Process By J. DOUGLAS ALLEN-TAYLOR

Tuesday April 19, 2005

Faced with replacing nearly one-third of its 16 school principals next year, the Berkeley Unified School District is looking to reform its hiring process, including adding more staff and community input. 

A modification of the principal selection process will be considered at this week’s BUSD board meeting. The meeting will begin at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at the second floor meeting room chambers at Old City Hall at 2134 Martin Luther King Jr. Way. 

Principals Alex Palau of the Berkeley Alternative High, Nancy D. Waters of John Muir Elementary, Kathleen Lewis of Oxford Elementary, Shirley Herrera of Rosa Parks Elementary, and Michele Patterson of Willard Middle are all leaving their positions at the end of the school year. 

BUSD’s “Board Policy on Community Involvement in Principal Selection Process,” originally adopted in 1975 and last revised 15 years ago, provides for a 10-member screening committee (five parents, three certificated staff, and two classified staff) to review the applications of principal candidates, conduct interviews, and to recommend three finalists to the superintendent in an unranked list. The policy calls on the superintendent to make a final recommendation to the board from the three finalists from the advisory committee list. 

In her recommendation to the board, Superintendent Michele Lawrence said that her administration had planned to revise the principal selection policy, “but that work will not be completed in time to begin our efforts to select the new principals.” Instead, Lawrence is asking that the existing policy be waived and a temporary policy be put in place to select the five new principals. 

“While granting waivers to any policy should never be taken lightly,” Lawrence wrote to board members, “we believe that the spirit and intent of the policy is to ensure community participation in this important decision and [this] request would augment that involvement.” 

The proposed new policy removes the specific number of members to serve on the screening committee, calling for the elementary school panels to have teachers as its “highest proportion” (reversing the policy of having parents in the majority). The proposed policy asks that two screening panels be set up for the Willard Middle School selection, with a technical panel composed of a majority of teachers and a “community interest” general panel composed of a majority of parents. 

Lawrence’s proposed policy adds an undefined scoring mechanism to the process and is silent on the number of recommended candidates from which the superintendent must choose. The recommendations also did not address how the selection of the replacement at Berkeley Alternative High School will be handled. 

Outgoing principal Alex Palau, who served for five years at the alternative school, said last week that he “hopes staff and parents will be deeply involved in the principal selection committee. In order for the program to work at the alternative high school, you need a buy-in from the staff and parent community.” 

Palau said that one of the challenges of Berkeley Alternative’s new principal will be to “continue a culture of caring. The students have to understand that the school administration cares for them and is working to provide services to help them that are not part of the traditional educational mandate. That will bring about student trust, and once the students trust the school administrator, it makes it easier for the administration to work with them on their educational needs.” 

Closed Meeting Held on West Lake Merritt Plans By J. DOUGLAS ALLEN-TAYLOR

Tuesday April 19, 2005

Representatives of eight Oakland-based public agencies met privately with business leaders and developers last week to discuss development plans in the politically sensitive area between the western shore of Lake Merritt and the estuary. 

The Friday morning “West of Lake Merritt Developments” conference at the Waterfront Plaza Hotel in Jack London Square was sponsored by the Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce. 

Attendees represented the Peralta Community College District, the Oakland Unified School District, the City of Oakland, Alameda County, BART, the Port of Oakland, and CalTrans, as well as developers Signature Properties, Alan Dones, Jack London Square Partners, and McLarand Vasquez Emsiek & Partners, and members of the Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce. In addition, representatives attended from Children’s Hospital of Oakland, which has expressed interest in building a hospital in the Laney College area. 

Also on the list of invitees was a representative of the Alameda County Congestion Management Agency. 

The firm of McLarand Vasquez Emsiek, based in Orange County and with offices in Oakland, got its start 30 years ago in developing waterfront condominiums, and has since branched into commercial development. The company developed the Fruitvale Transit Village surrounding the Fruitvale BART station in Oakland. 

The closed-to-the-public session did not violate California’s Brown Public Meetings Act because only one invitee—BART Commissioner Carole Ward Allen—was a member of an elected public body. The rest of the invitees were staff members from the public sector. 

The only agency head invited was Peralta Chancellor Elihu Harris, who arrived a few minutes late to the meeting and left without entering. Chamber officials tried to downplay the significance of the event. 

“This was nothing unusual,” chamber president and CEO Joseph Haraburda said in a telephone interview. “As at all chamber meetings, the purpose was to advance our mission to stimulate commerce and industry in Oakland. We do these types of things all the time.” 

The conference agenda included some of the most controversial development topics in Oakland in recent months, including Signature Properties’ Oak to Ninth project, Strategic Urban Development Alliance’s proposed Peralta-Laney project, and the commercial development of Oakland Unified School District properties surrounding the district’s administration building. 

Also on the agenda was a briefing by development agency representatives from the City of Oakland on “Measure DD/Development Opportunities.” 

Measure DD was the 2002 bond measure passed by Oakland voters that was intended, in part, to make improvements to the Lake Merritt Channel between western Lake Merritt and the estuary. 

A representative of the Peralta Federation of Teachers and a reporter for the Berkeley Daily Planet were denied entrance to the meeting by Chamber of Commerce officials, who told them that it was a “purely business meeting by invitation only.” 

Outside the meeting, Chancellor Harris seemed puzzled by the exclusion of PFT President Michael Mills, but added that he was only an invitee himself, and had no control over the meeting. Mills said any development affecting Peralta would have come before his organization at some point. 

“If they don’t talk with us now, they’ll have to talk with us later,” he said. “It makes more sense to bring us in at the beginning of the process.” 

Mills said he came to the meeting because he thought it was an open event. 

While Chamber of Commerce President Haraburda called the four-hour meeting “positive,” he said it was “doubtful” that any grand, coordinated development plan for the West Lake Merritt area would result. 

“This area involves diverse organizations serving diverse constituencies,” Haraburda said by telephone. “The respective approval levels and their various mission statements could potentially preclude any collaborative efforts between the agencies. But you never know. We just wanted to get them together and bring to light the opportunities that exist. If this gathering allows two organizations to find a way to work together, that’s terrific.” 

City Council to Address Budget Deficit, Consider Commission, Event Funding Cuts By MATTHEW ARTZ

Tuesday April 19, 2005

The City Council Tuesday will be devoted to tackling the city’s projected $8.9 million budget deficit, which the council must close by the end of June. On the agenda is a proposal to scale back citizen commission meetings to save staff time and a report on priority projects from the Planning, Housing, Transportation and Economic Development departments.  

Among other cuts, the council will consider reducing its budget for special events from $125,000 to $101,540 next year. Under the proposal the Berkeley Arts Festival would see funding fall from $18,000 to $10,000 and the Solano Stroll would drop from $9,000 to $5,000.  

The council will also discuss whether to spend $600,000 to make the fountain at Civic Center Park flow for the first time in more than 40 years. But with little money available for other programs, some residents are protesting that a renovated fountain will leave other city needs high and dry.  

“During rough times we should be spending money on keeping our programs going. The fountain can wait until the budget turns around,” said Bill Hamilton, one of many Berkeley swimmers who are promising to lobby the council Tuesday to dedicate some of the money to keep at least one public pool open this winter. 

Councilmembers Darryl Moore and Linda Maio are asking the Planning Department to add to its priority list a review of zoning rules for San Pablo Avenue. They say that since the locus of city development has moved to the thoroughfare, it is time for the Planning Commission to review zoning rules. 

The Civic Center fountain arrived in Berkeley in the 1940s as a gift from San Francisco, which included it in its Golden Gate Exposition of 1939. Sometime in the 1960s engineering problems left the fountain dry. A renovated fountain was at the heart of a proposal to upgrade Civic Center Park, but the renovations were nearly scrapped earlier this year when a preliminary cost estimate from the city’s designer put the park project at $1.4 million, about $400,000 more than available city funding. One reason the fountain is so expensive is that state regulations require that fountains have the same water quality as swimming pools. 

But when the city learned it would receive more than $3 million in unanticipated revenue from taxes on property transfers, City Manager Phil Kamlarz proposed spending $600,000 on the fountain, one-third of which will go to pay for maintenance during the first three years after it is renovated.  

“The rationale is that this project has been worked on for a number of years and that it would be worthwhile for the council to entertain going ahead and doing it,” said Parks Recreation and Waterfront Director Marc Seleznow. 

Berkeley policy is to use unanticipated funds for capital projects rather than preserving programs, yet councilmembers are under pressure not to sacrifice programs for the long dormant fountain. 

The fountain has an advocacy group of its own, including the backing of local Native Americans. Indigenous advocates had originally pushed for replacing the fountain with a Turtle Island design, based on an indigenous creation tale. After preservationists objected to dumping the current structure, the two groups, after lengthy debate, reached a compromise that the renovated fountain would include a Turtle Island component and commemorative plaques to the importance of local tribes. 

John Curl, a local woodworker who has worked closely with Native American leaders, said they would oppose any delays to the project. 

“To pull the rug out from under their feet at the eleventh hour, it’s really a slap in the face,” he said. “From the view of Native Americans, it’s one more broken promise.” 

Another controversial item on Tuesday’s agenda is a proposal to combine four city commissions into two and reduce the meeting schedules of 25 of the city’s 45 citizen commissions. The proposal also calls for eliminating staff support at commission subcommittee meetings. According to a city report, the changes would free up the equivalent of two full-time city workers for other tasks. 

Those serving on the commissions targeted for reductions oppose the plan. Asked about the proposal to combine the Disaster Commission with the Fire Safety Commission, Disaster Commissioner Jesse Townley warned of severe consequences. 

“This means that more people will be killed and more property will be destroyed when the next earthquake hits,” he said. “This shows the real-world effects of nit-picking budget cuts.” 

The other commissions slated to be combined are Public Works and Solid Waste. Assistant City Manager Arrietta Chakos said city leaders hadn’t decided how the two commissions would be consolidated. 

The Transportation Commission has already written the council asking them not to reduce its meetings from once a month to once every other month, and Disability Commissioner Emily Wilcox said her commission was also unified in opposition to the plan. 

She said meeting every two months would put the commission at a bigger disadvantage in being able to react to breaking events in the city. 

“It just hampers us even more,” she said. “We’ll be in the mix too late.” 

Peralta to Hold Briefing on Vista Construction By J. DOUGLAS ALLEN-TAYLOR

Tuesday April 19, 2005

The Peralta Community College Board of Trustees has scheduled a special public meeting Thursday to receive a briefing on the new Vista College building project. The 5 p.m. meeting will be held at Vista College, 2020 MIlvia St., room 210. 

The briefing will be conducted by Vista College Permanent Facility Project Managers Swinerton Management & Consulting Company, project architects Ratcliff Architects, and Vista administrators. 

Included on the agenda is a presentation of the building design, a possible move date from the present facilities to the new facilities, and issues surrounding the district’s new change order policy. 

Since last December, change orders related to the Vista new college project caused clashes between the Peralta chancellor and newly elected trustees Nicky Gonzalez Yuen and Cy Gulassa. At issue was how much leeway to grant the district administration in changing construction projects in between board meetings. 

In December, the board killed an initial Harris proposal to increase the amount of changes the chancellor can make in large construction projects without trustee approval, with Harris citing the Vista construction as the main reason for the requested change. Early this year, board members worked with Harris and Director of General Services Sadiq Ikharo to craft a compromise change order policy. 

BB Gun Shooting Investigated as UC Fraternity Hazing Incident By J. DOUGLAS ALLEN-TAYLOR

Tuesday April 19, 2005

An incident reported last week in the Daily Planet Police Blotter as an emergency room report of a male patient shot with a BB gun has since been identified by University of California representatives as a potential fraternity hazing incident. 

UC police and administration officials are investigating whether an unidentified 19-year-old student was repeatedly shot at close range with a BB gun on April 8 by members of the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity. The incident reportedly took place at the intersection of Channing Way and Prospect Street around 11 p.m. 

Berkeley police officials have reported that fraternity members allegedly stripped the victim to a T-shirt and boxer shorts and forced him to smoke marijuana and drink beer before the shooting. The victim’s injuries were reportedly not serious. 

UC Berkeley has a strict no-hazing policy for its fraternities and sororities, and incoming freshmen must sign an Anti-Hazing Agreement, in which they state that that they will neither participate in hazing nor allow themselves to be hazed. UC Berkeley’s Interfraternity Council also has what it calls a “zero-tolerance” hazing policy. 

According to the university’s fraternity-sorority orientation website, “Hazing is prohibited by the State of California, the University of California as well as the Panhellenic, IFC and National Panhellenic Greek Councils. Greek members are responsible for adherence to a self-imposed Greek Social Code as well as an Anti-Hazing Agreement. There is a no-tolerance policy for hazing at UC Berkeley and any incidents are handled directly by Student Judicial Affairs.” 

The Daily Californian reported that the Berkeley chapter of Pi Kappa Phi had been disciplined four times in the past five years, including punishment for fighting in 2004, alcohol violations and dangerous conduct in 2003, hazing in 2001, and using alcohol to recruit pledges in 2000.i

Berkeley Author Tells Of Lincoln Brigade Veterans

Tuesday April 19, 2005

Berkeley author Richard Bermack will read Thursday from his just-published volume on American Marxists who volunteered to fight with the Abraham Lincoln Brigade in the Spanish Civil War. 

Published by Berkeley’s Heyday Books, The Front Lines of Social Change: Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade examines the lives of veterans both during and after the war. 

Many of the vets in the book hailed from the Bay Area. The reading begins at 6 p.m. in the Travlin’ Joe Home Cafe, 2801 Seventh St.

By-Right Additions, Setbacks Dominate ZAB Meeting By RICHARD BRENNEMAN

Tuesday April 19, 2005

The thorny issue of “by-right” additions—those up-to-500-square-foot expansions granted homeowners by right of law—was back before the Zoning Adjustments Board Thursday. 

The case in point, though never discussed as such, was an appeal of a staff-approved addition to a home at 1737 Grant St. 

At issue is whether an addition is by-right or requires a discretionary city administrative use permit and whether or not staff can consider the impacts caused by previous additions. 

Principal Planner Debbie Sanderson said that when someone seeks to build an addition, the city considers the cumulative effects of previous additions back to 1992. 

The first add-on up to 500 square feet is granted by-right if nothing else has been added since the cut-off date. If a second addition brings the total to more than 500, then city staff has discretion over whether to grant it or not, Sanderson said. 

The real sticking point is whether or not staff can consider the cumulative impacts of previous additions on neighboring properties, especially when additions block sunlight or views from neighboring homes and apartments. 

“The analysis is not cumulative,” said Sanderson. “We look at effects on light, air and privacy, but we look at detriment from this project alone and not cumulatively. In certain cases even though the additional square footage is small, it could create an excessive shadow impact that blocks out the remaining light to an unreasonable extent. But we have no basis under state law to add cumulative impacts.” 

“Could we impose a condition that an addition over a certain amount has to come back to the board?” asked member Dean Metzger. 

Sanderson replied that staff has imposed the condition on certain properties, including 2615 Marin Ave., where neighbors have been contesting the impact of a 2,830-square-foot addition on their views. 

Zoning Boardmember Bob Allen said he was concerned about that case, when a policy was imposed on a single home. “A city policy should be applied to everyone,” he said. 

“If we anticipate that a project has a limit [beyond which it] becomes a detriment, we should include that in the use permit. It should be a case-by-case issue,” said ZAB Chair Andy Katz. 

“That gets real messy,” said Allen. “All properties should be treated the same.” 

ZAB member Dave Blake raised yet another issue. 

“Especially since the City Council is encouraging condos, I don’t know if we’re up to the task when each unit is a separately owned dwelling unit,” he said. 

Sanderson said that because they are separate units, “we would consider the expansion of a single unit in the same way.” 

Rick Judd, a ZAB member and land use attorney, said he was much more concerned when an addition creates other issues beyond mere square footage. 

“I want to know if we can make the cumulative effects less. I’m really looking for history,” he said. 

“I hope we don’t spend an excessive amount of time on history,” said member Jesse Anthony. “We have to deal with what’s going on. We can get bogged down every time if we report history. If we get bogged down in that, we will never be able to end a meeting.” 

Fortunately, said Sanderson, “the appeal rate on administrative use permits on additions is very, very low.” 


Flying Cottage 

ZAB will take up the appeal of the Grant Street addition at their April 28 meeting, along with the latest version of plans for the “Flying Cottage,” the illegally built “popup” at 3045 Shattuck Ave., which transformed a former two-floor residence into a three-story mixed-use building. 

Property owner Christina Sun has stated that a builder told her the addition was a by-right project and didn’t require city approval, and only learned that the addition required city approval after construction had angered neighbors. 

Previous plans met with rejection by the city’s Design Review Committee, and Sun skipped the panel on her latest plans, which are going directly to ZAB. 


Noncomforming Berkeley 

A request by developer B. Tony Jalili to add four apartments to his property at 1043-1049 Virginia St. led ZAB members into a lengthy discussion with city staff about how and when the city staff followed city codes in approving setbacks. 

According to city code, the project at the corner of San Pablo Avenue and Virginia Street would be required to have greater setback from its nearest neighbor on Virginia, a residentially zoned property with a house. 

When commercial and residential zones abut, the setbacks are regulated according to the residential zoning, which requires much greater separation than does commercial zoning. 

Sanderson said that while the code requires a minimum 20-foot setback from the property line, staff had recommended just a six-foot setback because Jalili’s property fronts on San Pablo and other nearby buildings also lack the requisite setbacks. 

The existing building houses both commercial uses and four residential units. The addition would add four more units in a separate building above an eight-car parking lot. 

ZAB member Carrie Sprague said what most amazed her most was a city analysis that holds that Jalili was entitled to a total of 31 residential units on a small lot. Sanderson said the figure was hypothetical. 

“A lot of things about this project go above and beyond what’s reasonable,” Sprague said. 

Sanderson noted that perhaps of three-quarters of existing Berkeley buildings are in violation of the current city building codes, most because they were built before the current codes were enacted. 

West Berkeley Meeting Addresses Pacific Steel Odor By MATTHEW ARTZ

Tuesday April 19, 2005

Preliminary air quality tests at West Berkeley’s Pacific Steel Castings indicate that the plant that regulators blame for emitting a pervasive smell of burnt rubber meets state toxic emission standards. 

“All our calculations show that emissions are below threshold,” said Peter Hess, Bay Area Air Quality Management District deputy air pollution control officer. 

Hess told about 70 residents at a West Berkeley town hall Meeting last Thursday that the air district would report back with final results in about three months and that the board would seek to solve the odor problem even if toxic emissions were within state standards. 

“Whatever the plant does, it cannot cause an odor nuisance,” he said. “We’re here to enforce the state law.” 

Meanwhile, in a move that upset several residents, the air district last week reassigned its Berkeley inspector Michael Bostick to Pittsburg/Antioch. Residents credited Bostick for his diligence in responding to their complaints. 

“I felt like he did a good job,” said Sarah Simonet, a resident who has tried to mobilize neighbors to report foul smells. “It seems like a big mystery. The man who did all this work has disappeared.” 

Kelly Wee, director of enforcement for the air board, insisted that Bostick’s reassignment was part of district-wide reorganization plan that shifted a dozen inspectors to fill gaps caused by resignations and promotions throughout the department. 

Although Thursday’s meeting, chaired by Mayor Tom Bates, touched on numerous neighborhood concerns, Pacific Steel dominated the agenda. Last month the air district slapped the casting manufacturer with a Notice of Violation after it confirmed that more than five complaints of a burning rubber smell recorded over 24 hours were attributable to the plant. The notice resulted in a $1,000 fine and has led to the recent air monitoring at the company’s three units along Second Street just South of Gilman Street. 

Neighborhood complaints over a burning rubber odor emitted by Pacific Steel stretch back over two decades. 

Equipment in each of the three buildings heats metal to a molten state and then is poured into molds. The process results in the emission of particulate matter and organic compounds that can contribute to cancer. The plant produces steel castings that are often used in vehicles and in military parts. Rising orders in recent years have led to increased production at the three units, Pacific Steel Environmental Engineer Christina Chan confirmed. 

After receiving 46 notices of violation from the air district between 1981 and 1985, Pacific Steel installed filters in two of its three units. However, Chan confirmed to residents that the third unit, built in 1981, remains without a filter and about 50 percent of the emissions from the second unit are unfiltered. 

“We don’t take this lightly,” Chan said. But before the company takes action, she said, they would wait for air district studies attempting to pinpoint the source of the smell. 

Neighbors reacted angrily to air board and company representatives, insisting they didn’t know the source of the smell. 

“It pisses me off that after 25 years they still have to figure this out,” said Janice Schroeder, a member of Neighbors for Clean Air, which filed suit against Pacific Steel in the 1980s. “A lot of the information they gave us tonight we heard 25 years ago.” Several residents distrust the air board after its Board of Directors voted in 2000 to lift an abatement order against Pacific Steel. 

Mayor Bates said he was “going to do everything I can to bring this into compliance.” Asked if Berkeley could force out Pacific Steel, he deferred to his aide Vicky Liu. She said that the West Berkeley Plan which seeks to maintain West Berkeley industry made removing the company difficult and that to make it easier for Berkeley to get rid of the company, the city would have to revisit the West Berkeley Plan. 

Zelda Bronstein, a former Planning Commissioner and supporter of current West Berkeley zoning rules, took umbrage at Liu’s analysis and asked the air district representative why they decided to perform air monitoring studies at Pacific Steel five years after the City Council requested them. 

“We’re a small agency covering a large area,” Hess replied. He said the agency has lost staff and has a projected budget deficit. 

Asked by one member of the audience if the air board could shut down Pacific Steel, Hess said the board would need to convince a judge that the plant was an “overwhelming health burden” to the community. 

One factor that could keep the city from trying to push out Pacific Steel is that it is one of the city’s top employers and sales tax generators. Chan said the company now employs 500 people, mostly in union jobs that don’t require a college degree. 

“You talk about closing us up,” she said. “That’s 500 people who will be without a job.”›

Downtown Parking Workshop Thursday By RICHARD BRENNEMAN

Tuesday April 19, 2005

Berkeley’s Transportation Commission will take up the thorny issue of downtown parking during a two-hour public workshop Thursday evening. 

The session is scheduled from 7-9 p.m. in the North Berkeley Senior Center, 1901 Hearst Ave. 

Principal speakers will be Elizabeth Deakin, director of the Berkeley Transportation Center, and Deborah Badhia, executive director of the Downtown Berkeley Association. 

Others potential participants invited by the city include: 

• Members of Berkeley Design Advocates, the Bicycle Friendly Berkeley Coalition, the Telegraph Avenue Association and members of the VISTA College Board. 

• Bob Franklin, BART District 3 director. 

• Carolyn Henry-Golphin, president of the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce. 

• Jim Cunradi, AC Transit coordinator for Bus Rapid Transit. 

• John Selawsky from the Berkeley Unified School District board. 

• Judy Walters, president of VISTA College, 

• UC Berkeley Director of Parking and Transportation Nad Permaul. 

• Berkeley Chamber of Commerce CEO Rachel Rupert. 

• Freight & Salvage Executive Director Steve Baker, and 

• Nicky Gonzalez Yuen and Cy Gulassa of the Peralta Community College District Board of Trustees. 

Letters to the Editor

Tuesday April 19, 2005


Editors, Daily Planet: 

Over the past two years, the debate over the Jefferson school name change has had unforeseen consequences at the school. One result has been the unfortunate change in the school climate. What was once a vibrant, open community has become one divided: teachers whispering amongst themselves, unwilling to discuss the issue with parents or students; parents having quiet conversations in the halls or off school grounds, not wanting to be overheard (often for fear of being 

considered racist if they oppose the name change); students trying to openly discuss the issue, but often being shushed by their elders. 

It is very sad to see the place that was once so friendly and welcoming to everyone become a place of whispered conversation and furtive over-the-shoulder 


I am not saying that this process should not be happening. I am saying that those responsible for overseeing this process have missed a huge opportunity. Instead of becoming a divisive issue, this could have been a way for the community to come together, to learn about Thomas Jefferson, to learn about race relations, and to learn about how to openly discuss and decide upon an important issue. The children could have learned about the many good things Thomas Jefferson accomplished in his life. They already know that he was a slave owner, and, for most of them, that’s ALL they know. Can they understand his life when viewed in the context of the time in which he lived? I think not, because they—and many of those behind this issue—view him only from today’s perspective.  

The children, and the adults, could have discussed the fact that none of us live perfect lives. That we often fail to live up to the ideals we espouse. That 

sometimes the constraints of daily life—personal, political, financial, emotional—prevent us from doing what is “right,” with the result that we do what we can. 

In the final judgment, is a person to be judged based upon one aspect of his life, or on his life as a whole? 

Nancy Koerner 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The Berkeley PTA Council is participating in the April 28 “Caravan for Kids” Rally in Sacramento, thanks to the hard work of Berkeley PTA members that have stepped forward to coordinate this effort. The rally on April 28 will be sponsored by the California State PTA and will take place at noon on that day, on the steps of the State Capitol. We will be joined by parents and advocates from all over the State of California. The purpose is to tell the governor and Legislature that we want full and adequate funding for our schools. Together we will insist that Gov. Schwarzenegger and the Legislature 

• Honor their promise to restore $2 billion to California schools. 

• Uphold Proposition 98, the Constitutional funding guarantee for public schools approved by the voters. 

• Rebuild California’s commitment to education. 

Berkeley PTA Council will also be organizing a press conference on April 27 at 3 p.m., location to be determined. We invite the local press to participate and learn more about the work that parents are doing to send a clear message to Sacramento. 

What can you do to be part of this effort? Please consider joining the Berkeley Caravan for Kids contingent in Sacramento. We want to give all Berkeley community members and PTAs an opportunity to participate. We have chartered buses and will be coordinating carpools. People can also take the train. There is limited space on our chartered buses, but please inquire with rally Coordinator Cynthia Papermaster at 333-6097 about space. The departure point for the rally on the morning of April 28 is West Campus Parking Lot on 1222 University Ave. at 9:30 a.m.. The parking lot is located in the back of the West Campus facility. 

If you cannot attend the rally, or even if you can, please consider donating to our effort by sponsoring a parent and child on the bus to Sacramento. Checks can be written to “Berkeley PTA Council” and no donation is too small. Please write “Caravan for Kids” on the comment line. These funds will be used to help pay for our chartered buses and offset rally costs. Checks and cash (in envelopes) can be dropped off at any BUSD public school office and left with the school secretary or sent  

to 1323 67th St., Berkeley, 94702. Together we can get our voices heard. 

Roia Ferrazares 

President, Berkeley PTA Council 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

“Of course boxing is fine for now,” I’ll bet Sly Stallone’s mom used to tell him, “but what are you going to do afterwards? You gotta have a real career to back you up.” And as it goes with boxing, so does it go with war and empire.  

Of course wars are like championship bouts in Vegas. They’re glamorous and interesting and lucrative—but a war, like a boxer’s career, can’t go on forever. Maybe you can last a few years in the ring but sooner or later the last round ends and, if you foolishly squandered your prize money, you have nothing to fall back on. Look at Rome, the Mongols, Napoleon, Tojo’s Japan, the Third Reich and the USSR. All their time and money went into waging war and they had no retirement plan! Too much emphasis on K.O.s and not enough on 401(k). 

Of course Rumsfeld, Bush and the Pentagon knocked out Iraq in the first round but now—with all these guys’s money spent on high-living and with nothing saved—they are becoming just another bunch of punch-drunk has-beens with no Plan B. 

And what about America? What will happen to our country when the U.S. has lost its heavyweight title—which it soon will because the euro is about to K.O. the dollar bigtime—and has no career skills at home to fall back on ‘cause they’ve all been outsourced to empire? 

America needs to follow Sly’s mom’s advice and prepare for the future. Firing those bogus fight promoters in the Pentagon and taking away Bush’s “golden” gloves would be a good first step. 

Jane Stillwater 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I am writing to you because you are my City Council representative. I am very concerned about the number of high rises going up on University, Shattuck, and San Pablo. At the same time, there are “for rent” signs everywhere. It appears that these developers are being encouraged to build high density cheap housing that is not actually needed. 

What I would like to know is whether the city has vacancy data to support this massive shift in housing policy? 

How can the City Council make decisions involving millions of dollars in housing policy/funds without knowing the most fundamental piece of datum there is? How can you possibly cast an informed vote? Our Housing Director cries “housing emergency.” and the Planning Director says “housing glut,” but there is not a single fact between them. 

To my knowledge the city has not attempted a realistic housing survey, ever. Whoever has a particular ax to grind, finds some statistics that will support that view, but never to my knowledge has an accurate, impartial verifiable, survey been done. This, in the home of the University of California!  

From anecdotal evidence and informal surveys, I believe that the vacancy rate hovers at around 8 percent, the highest it has been since rent control was imposed and began causing shortages. But, that is my point: we need more than anecdotes and informal surveys to make these important decisions. I would like to know when the city is going to initiate a study of vacancy rates and housing availability. I absolutely know that the Housing department has no idea of what is out there, because I was present at a Rental Housing Safety Program meeting where Steve Barton embarrassed himself by not being able to substantiate his requests for additional fees with any kind of accurate statistics. It is time for the city to seriously investigate the “real” housing story. 

Roslyn Fuerman 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

As a follow-up to my letter in the April 15-18 issue, I would like to generalize the pattern that has unmistakably appeared to me over a period of several years now. Members of the City of Berkeley government almost universally adopt an attitude that defines this pattern. The attitude is this: “As progressives or liberals, we lament the fact that we must revoke tenants rights, or the rights of the people in general, but we are required to do so by a strict interpretation of the law.” The only problem with this is that the “strict interpretation of the law” they are referring to is essentially the neo-con interpretation of the law, which diverges radically from even the interpretation of mainstream conservative Republican judges, as we have seen recently in the Schiavo case.  

In other words, the actual facts of court rulings are rarely as condemnatory of the rights of the people as the progressive or liberal members of the City of Berkeley government feel that they are. On rare occasions, a Court of Appeal ruling does bear the unmistakable tenor of neo-con hatred of genuine democracy, but those rulings comprise no more than ten percent of the emerging body of law. Often they stand only because they are not challenged by further appeal to the Supreme Court.  

Another facet of the Berkeley ruse is conflation of trial court rulings, which are not binding on anyone but the parties to the lawsuit, with appellate rulings, which are binding, since they constitute caselaw or decisional law. The City of Berkeley is under no genuine compulsion whatsoever to conform to trial court rulings, unless it has been a party to the lawsuit. And yet, the dupes of the neo-cons are all too eager to jump at the neo-con whip and do the bidding of the neo-cons, to the extreme detriment of the people. This defines the Berkeley ruse. 

It would seem, therefore, that the Bush administration is but the tip of the iceberg of the neo-con movement, which is in fact a genuine grassroots movement. I observe neo-cons or dupes of the neo-cons sitting in every chamber of the City of Berkeley government, wielding most of the power. Often they are staff members that the elected officials seem powerless to control. So, if you are one of the many who are projecting your shadow onto the funny man in the White House, look again - the problem is much closer to home and much more widespread than you have imagined. 

Peter Mutnick 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

It’s not that I wish to cast aspersions on Carol Denney’s qualifications as an objective reporter.... But, according to her published account: she “innocently” removed an orange cone from her own driveway, which caused another person to become “infuriated” for no apparent reason, which caused the cops to come and “knock” her around, leaving “bruises” all over her body, ending with Ms. Denney being arrested for “attempted murder,” again, for no apparent reason. Could it be that there are key elements to this story that Ms. Denney apparently omitted from her alleged reporting? Or, if this is intended as an “opinion piece,” are we the readers supposed to conclude that the opinions being expressed are so nonsensical that the only way they could be propped up is to only tell half the story?  

Peter Labriola  





Editors, Daily Planet:  

The horrors inflicted on helpless prisoners by some of our military personnel at Abu Ghraib in Iraq and in other locations may have ricocheted around in our national consciousness and struck in Berkeley. 

In Iraq some of our soldiers felt they could humiliate and abuse captives to get information because the captive was an Other, in that case an Iraqi. 

On April 8th in a Berkeley fraternity, a young man was held captive. Because he was an Other, a pledge in this case, he was humiliated and abused to get information. 

How different is this behavior from that of Abu Ghraib? 

Since we as a nation have not managed to make a strong and effective condemnation of the heinous behavior of some of our military at Abu Ghraib, can we expect to see other instances of similar behavior among our own people here? Especially among the young, who are most easily influenced by what the media shows us to be allowable behavior. 

Where is the voice of who we are as a people that can clearly say why such things are wrong both here and in other lands? And be heard? 

Brad Belden 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

An article in your April 15-18 paper says, “...library aides, who typically do most of the library’s menial work...” 

“Menial. 1. of our relating to a servant: lowly. 2.a. appropriate to a servant: humble, servile. b. lacking interest or dignity.” (Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary.) 

Is this how the writer really thinks of the work of the aides? 

Nancy Ward 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Since there has been much made of the reassignment of four aides from the first floor of the Central Library to the fourth floor Children’s Room, I write to provide some background for this decision. 

When the renovated Central Library reopened, the Library decided to try an experiment. All library aides were assigned to General Services where they would be directed to work on all five floors. 

Unfortunately, this experimental arrangement has had a seriously negative impact on the quality of library service to Berkeley children. 

Spot checks in March indicated returned adult materials were reshelved within 2-4 days. Children’s materials required 7-10 days. 

As any parent knows, children live in the moment. If a recently returned Lemony Snicket book will not be available for 4-5 days, as far as the child is concerned, the library has failed. Placing a reserve on the item doesn’t work well for children, since they have little control over their personal schedules or means of transportation. If the library saves a book for them, they may not be able to go to the library to pick it up. 

The children’s collection is smaller than the adult collection. Smaller inventories require faster turnarounds. This is particularly true for city-wide homework assignments. When Berkeley students are studying ancient Greece, recently returned books on the topic are needed immediately. The assignments are due now, not 7-10 days from now. 

Why do children’s books wait longer for reshelving? When assigned to shelve in the Children’s Library, some library aides sought other work instead. Some made sure to take their break during their “children’s shift” so they would only be there for a half hour. A few even went home sick at the end of a day, rather than shelve children’s books.  

In discussions with the four library aides assigned to the fourth floor, they agreed that aides had avoided shelving in the Children’s Library. They also voiced concern for their health and safety. They were particularly worried about shelving picture books. 

To respond to these concerns, the Library has consulted the City of Berkeley’s safety officer on safe ergonomic practices and has limited the period of sustained shelving to one hour. The library has also purchased knee pads and other equipment to make shelving picture books as safe as possible. 

Inferior library service for Berkeley children should never be tolerated. The assignment of these four aides from the first to the fourth floor Children’s Room is a needed step in the right direction. 

Linda Perkins 

Library Services Manager 

Berkeley Public Library  




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I find Bob Burnett’s analysis (Christianity Lite vs. Terri Schiavo, Daily Planet, April 1-4) both cogent and perplexing. He is clear in his critique of the religious right’s hypocrisy. And yet, from his comfortable Quaker context, he hacks at the trees, and cannot see the forest. He mentions church history, but doesn’t see that against the broad history of Christianity, from the horrors of the inquisition, through the arrogance of the crusades, to the burning of the witches, the nasty foibles of modern zealots are trivial.  

Nor could he accept, I suspect, that Christianity came out of the marketplace—that the gullible, superstitious public of Christ’s day were eager consumers of the sales pitches of the time (that he was born of a virgin, that he returned from death, that he, like the Egyptian kings and Greek heroes, was descended from a god) and based on this packaging, made him a cult figure on the sermon circuit. That the majority of people still believe and avow this nonsense is the real condemnation of human culture.  

The world’s main religions all perpetuate the same great hoax - that there is a life after death, and that they’re selling the tickets to it. The deep congenital flaw in the human psyche is the pathological refusal to accept the great centering, liberating truth of our existence: We live a while in the sun, then we die. After that, nothing!—no angels with harps, no virgins with sexual favors, no loved ones’ welcoming arms—mere oblivion. 

Jerry Landis 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I am writing to express my concern about the proposed closure of all three outdoor city swimming pools next winter—from Oct. 1 through April 15, and to urge the City Council to do whatever is necessary to keep at least one pool open for public programs during the winter. 

My husband and I have been homeowners and tax payers in Berkeley for over 52 years, and I have been swimming at King Pool for 36 years. 

Closing the pools during the winter months is not just an inconvenience. Most winter swimmers swim as a part of a healthy life style. It cannot be abandoned for six months. If I have to join the YMCA to keep up my fitness program, I cannot afford to drop it and return to the city pools when they decide to re-open in the spring. It is particularly unfair to cut out city programs when the city pays for YMCA memberships for its own programs. The youth swim teams and masters program need a pool to use. Having no winter access would finish these programs. 

Swimmers have contributed to keeping the pools open in the past by having fund raising swim relays, and would do so again. Seniors have suggested raising the amount they pay. 

The San Francisco Chronicle’s April 7 ChronicleWatch column reported that City Manager Phil Kamlarz suddenly found some extra general fund revenue from higher than expected tax collections, and will be urging the City Council to set aside $400,000 to repair the fountain in Civic Center Park and $200,000 for maintenance. To keep one swimming pool open during the winter would cost $92,000. This and other recreation programs for children are far more important than repairing a fountain. Berkeley should get its priorities on track. 

Jean Johnsen 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

In your April 12-14 issues, Zac Unger, a Berkeley firefighter, states that “firefighters are one of the few public servants to be justly compensated for their labors. The don’t deserve less; others deserve more.” His statement would be credible if he could just provide facts that show the City of Berkeley is unable to fill vacancies because of inadequate compensation packages. Based on the facts he and others actually did provide to your paper, the vacancies in the Fire Department are not the result of inadequate employee benefits—just the opposite. City managers decided to pay exisiting firefighters overtime rather than hire additional firefighters because employee benefits for new hires were so expensive. 

One of the reasons Berkeley city employee benefits costs are so high is that employees contribute nothing to their own publicly funded retirement plan. This allows them to retire totally at the Berkeley taxpayers’ expense with better pensions than many of these taxpayers will ever receive themselves. 

It is my understanding that if city employees simply agreed to contribute the same proportion of their wages and salaries to their own pension plan as those of us in the private sector must through Social Security taxes, none of the proposed cuts in city services would be necessary. Could one of your reporters verify whether my perceptions are correct? 

Keith Winnard 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I noted Bernice Turoff’s excellent letter quoting a Dec. 26, 2002, Washington Post article that exposed torture as promoted U.S. policy two years ago. We will be holding an all-day UC Berkeley Teach-in on Torture, Thursday April 28 in Berkeley, that will expand upon that point, and we’ll attempt to spur a national movement to stop the use of torture by this government. The teach-in is sponsored by Ethnic Studies, Peace and Conflict Studies and International and Area Studies at UC and endorsed by over 100 faculty. A full page ad is scheduled to appear in the Daily Planet on April 26.  

Eighty percent of Americans reject the use of torture, but they have no effective way to protest its use. It’s time to mobilize that sentiment into a challenge to current policies and practices. Join with Barbara Olshanksy of Center for Constitutional Rights, Lucas Guttentag, head of the ACLU immigration project, Professor Terry Karl, Stanford’s expert witness on torture in Latin America, the National Lawyers Guild’s Marjorie Cohn, Uwe Jacobs of Survivors International, As’ad AbuKhalil of Cal State Stanislaus, Carlos Maurcio, a Salvadoran Professor who survived torture and others in taking action against torture on April 28. We’ll see you at the Thrust Theater, 2025 Addison (Berkeley Rep) from 1:30 on. 

Marc Sapir 

co-convener, UC Berkeley Teach-in on Torture 



We understand that at tonight’s Council meeting Planning Director Dan Marks will propose the staffing of an incremental review of the West Berkeley Plan, focused on rezoning Gilman Street and Ashby Avenue west of San Pablo for retail. Apparently this came out of a council work session on revenue and the budget. 

We believe that this approach is wrong and wrongheaded. The West Berkeley Plan was crafted by years of work by dozens of stakeholders coming from every sector of the West Berkeley community. It was the result of a broad-based, open, balanced, and thorough public planning process. Any review must also be balanced and any proposal must include a fair hearing of its impacts on the entire West Berkeley community. 

We believe that the usual parameters of this piecemeal approach would narrow the scope of the study area and ignore major impacts on the surrounding areas. But the overall effects of altering the zoning or permissible uses for each narrow swath will be much greater than will be indicated in the individual studies of economics, traffic, and other effects. Changing the zoning of the arterial corridors cannot be done without deeply affecting all of West Berkeley. It would tend to unbalance the area, gut the industrial retention policy that's at the heart of the West Berkeley Plan, and threaten industrial, artistic and craft businesses. Do not undermine and dismantle the West Berkeley Plan under this guise. A short sighted study focused on adding revenue may overlook the long term loss of existing significant tax base and employment coming from businesses that will be displaced. 

If you intend to approve the planning director’s proposal, we urge you to direct him to broaden the study area considerably beyond the usual parameters, and to consider all of West Berkeley below San Pablo as the impacted area. John Curl 

Susan Libby 

Martin Bourque, Executive Director Ecology Center  

Zelda Bronstein 

Mary Lou Van Deventer 

Jesse Townley 

Fran Haselsteiner 

Mark Gorrell 

Nancy Gorrell 

Sarah Givens 

Fred Brechtel 

Barbara Lubin 

Bernard Marszalek 

Laurie Bright 

Andy Heinze 

Mary Heinze 

Robert Reiter 

Andy Katz 

Roberta Teller 

Marc Diamond 

Harry Wiener, 

Former chair, West Berkely Planning Area Commissionô

Confronting America’s Addiction to Oil By Bob Burnett

Column: The Public Eye
Tuesday April 19, 2005

America is teetering on the edge of recession. We’ve run up a huge debt and, as a result, have developed startling vulnerabilities. While there are many explanations for our precarious situation—ill-advised tax cuts and wrong-headed administration priorities, for example—the root problem is our dependency on oil. Although we are barely 5 percent of the world’s population, we consume 25 percent of the annual oil production. We produce 6 million barrels of oil per day yet devour 20 million. 

We are oil junkies, physically dependent upon our daily fix of petroleum. To wean ourselves from our slavish dependency on carbon-based fuels, we will have to go through a harrowing withdrawal process. The sooner we do this the better, as many experts are predicting that 2005 will be the peak oil production year for the planet. 

Americans are at various stages of awareness and acceptance of our addiction. Viewed from afar, the range of public attitudes seems remarkably similar to the five stages of grief famously described by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, or acceptance.  

Many citizens deny that there is a problem at all. Business consultant Max de Pree observed, “The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality.” President George W. Bush has defined a Reaganesque reality where oil is not a problem. This deception has been aided by the fact that many Americans already have enough to worry about—terrorism and their jobs—and don’t want to hear any more bad news. Many conservative Christians—about 36 percent of Americans according to Bill Moyers—believe that America’s problems, such as petroleum depletion, are irrelevant, as we are in the final stages of the “end times;” they understand that the rapture will happen within the next forty years and, therefore, they don’t have to worry about mundane subjects like oil. 

Another group is just angry. Dick Cheney is an example of an economic conservative who is infuriated by our petroleum shortages because he believes that “the market” would solve the problem if only environmentalists and other bleeding hearts would get out of the way. The administration’s energy plan is based upon supply-side economics, predicated on the notion that the U.S. has enough carbon-based fuels if only energy companies are permitted to dig wherever they choose, for example, in our national parks and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. While formulating this plan, Cheney famously observed that, “Conservation may be a sign of personal virtue, but it is not a sufficient basis for a sound, comprehensive energy policy,” thereby ignoring the obvious: Even if we used all possible sources, America does not have enough oil to satisfy our addiction. 

Rather than escape into denial or anger, some Americans attempt to bargain their way out of the oil crisis; for example, they sell their SUV and buy a pickup truck. This is escape by means of rationalization: trying, as an individual, to figure a way out of the problem. The defect in this approach is that this is a crisis that affects all of us and, therefore, one that we must work on together. We cannot strike individual deals with Mother Nature. 

Of course, many Americans have simply sunk into depression. They feel powerless to change a situation where the Administration steadfastly refuses to acknowledge that our way of life is unsustainable. 

Finally, there are groups of citizens who have arrived at Kubler-Ross’s fifth stage of acceptance. Not that they have accepted the death of the United States, or the planet, but rather they recognize that America must confront its dreadful addiction. In organizations, such as the Sierra Club and the Apollo Alliance, they are steadfastly working on ways to deal with it: inexpensive wind turbines, affordable solar panels, low-cost hybrid vehicles, enhanced public transportation, and so forth. 

Those of us who have dealt with an addiction, whether our own or that of someone close to us, know that the tipping point, the moment when the addict acknowledges that there is a problem, usually comes in one of two forms: There may be an intervention by loved ones who are determined to convince the addict that he/she has a problem, or the addict may experience such a severe crisis—a heart attack, divorce, or loss of job—that they are forced to confront their addiction. Because the Bush administration is unwilling to lead Americans in an intervention, the United States will most likely wait to confront its oil addiction until the price of oil reaches such heights that it sends our economy spiraling into a recession. 

This crisis is an opportunity for Democrats to initiate their own intervention. First, they must tell citizens the truth: We are petroleum junkies, who need to change our ways before it is too late. Then, they should propose a recovery program, a comprehensive proposal for a sustainable America. The United States can overcome its oil addiction, but only if we are provided with real leadership. If the Democrats won’t do this, who will? 


Bob Burnett is a Berkeley writer and activist. He can be reached at bobburnett@comcast.net. 


Dealing With the Bullies Who Threaten Us By Susan Parker

Tuesday April 19, 2005

I’d been obsessing about bullies and how to deal with them for days when I asked my friend Gary if he remembered being bullied as a child.  

“Mickey Todaro,” he said. 

“What?” I asked. 

“Mickey Todaro, third grade,” he repeated. “You asked about bullies so I’m telling you.” 

“I didn’t expect such a quick response.” 

“It’s like it was yesterday.” 

“Go on,” I said. 

“Everyday on the way to school Mickey Todaro would punch me and steal my lunch money. It was awful.” 

“What did you do?” 

“I found another route to school. I’m tough, but I’m not stupid. Mickey Todaro was big, and he had friends.” 

“Gary,” I said. “Do you realize this happened to you over 50 years ago?”  

“You don’t forget or mess with a guy like Mickey Todaro.” 

I posed the question to the Scrabblettes the next time I saw them. 

“Bobby Rowland,” said Pearl without hesitation. 

“Bobby Rowland?”  

“You heard me. Second grade. He pushed me into a ditch, that son of a bitch.” 


“I crawled out and hit him over the head with my lunchbox.” 

“What happened?” 

“Put a big dent in my lunchbox, so I ran home and told my mother.” 


“She said to stay away from him, so I did.” 

“Parents down south would never recommend that,” said Louise, counting out her letters and placing them on the wooden stand.  

“Really?” asked Pearl. “What would they say?” 

“’Pick up a stick and hit back’,” she answered. 

“What about those kids who locked you in the funeral parlor when you were 8?” asked Rose. “Did you hit them?” 

“I don’t want to talk about it,” answered Louise firmly. “That was 60 years ago, and I’m still in recovery.” 

I turned to Rose. “Were there bullies when you were growing up?” 

“Of course,” she said. “Richie Foley called me Tokyo Rose Chinese Chink. I was devastated.” 

“Did you tell your parents?” 

“No way! They didn’t speak English, and besides, they had eight kids, one of them blind and epileptic. I didn’t bother my parents with stuff like that.” 

“Did you stay away from him?” 

“Couldn’t. We went to a one room school house. But my teacher, Mrs. Parsons, bawled him out in front of everybody. She made me feel safe.” 

My survey concluded, I went home and pondered my data. I’d been prompted to ask these questions for several reasons. I’d babysat my 3-year-old nephew the previous weekend and I’d watched him tussle with an older, more aggressive kid from my neighborhood. Additionally, I’ve been thinking a lot about a man living not far from me who has been standing up to and therefore running into trouble with drug dealers on his block. Lastly, I’d read an interview of former playmates of George Bush who said whenever he didn’t get his way during a game of kickball, he’d take his ball and go home. His mom would yell at all the kids to leave George alone.  

During childhood, many of us learn to deal with the bullies and creeps who bother, scare, or threaten us. We find ways to get around them using avoidance tactics or the help of friends and family. I worry about the man up the block. He’s gotten a lot of support from the media and people outside the neighborhood, but what will happen when the reporters and photographers move on to other, more sensational stories, and the police aren’t available to protect him? 

From the results of my survey, I’d say that sometimes the best policy is to avoid the bullies, except, of course, if you’ve got a mom like Barbara Bush in which case you can be the bully. When my nephew gets older I’ll try to explain to him about how life ain’t fair. Then I’ll advise him to walk softly, carry a big lunchbox, and figure out another route to school. ›


Tuesday April 19, 2005

Armed Backpack Robbery 

A darkly clad gunman robbed a 20-year-old Berkeley resident of his backpack just after 1 a.m. Thursday as he was walking near the corner of Le Conte and Euclid avenues. 

Berkeley Police spokesperson Officer Joe Okies said the 20-something bandit departed the scene in a light-colored four-door import. 


Gang of Three 

Minutes after the backpack heist, three bandits ganged up on a 25-year-old man near the corner of Haste and Ellsworth streets. 

After physical assault convinced the pedestrian to hand over his MP3 player to the trio, the victim called police who were able to arrest one of the suspects, a juvenile, said Officer Okies. 


Trash Talk, and More 

Things took a bizarre turn Friday morning after a resident of the 3100 block of Fairview Street confronted a fellow who was scooping up the contents of her recycling bin. 

Things would’ve been fine had the trash-taker confined his response to the verbal realm, but the fellow then decided to expose himself to her. The offended woman then called police, who arrested the 39-year-old fellow on a charge of indecent exposure. 


Bank Robber Foiled 

A man in his forties walked into the Wells Fargo Bank at 2144 Shattuck Ave. Friday afternoon, threatening a teller and demanding cash. 

When the teller refused, the frustrated robber fled on foot—but not before leaving nice, clear images on the bank’s surveillance cameras. 


Rat Pack Attack 

A gang of juveniles attacked and beat down an 18-year-old man in the 2700 block of Milvia Street just after 11 p.m. Saturday, making off with his wallet and his athletic shoes. 


Another Beatdown Heist 

Police arrested a 19-year-old man on charges of assault and robbery after a 20-year-old male victim was beaten and robbed of his cash just after 1 a.m. Sunday near the corner of Derby Street and Martin Luther King. Jr. Way, said officer Okies. 


He Was Framed 

Police arrested a 44-year-old man on robbery charges after he was nabbed walking out of the Shattuck Avenue Aaron Brothers Art Mart with an armload of frames and other artist’s supplies at 12:42 p.m. Sunday. 

Officer Okies said the robber had entered the store and leveled threats against employees lest they interfere with his pilferage. 


Traffic Stop Troubles 

When police attempted to stop a 44-year-old driver in the 1900 block of University Avenue at 10 p.m. Sunday, he decided to boogie, making it ten blocks to the west before parking along the 900 block of University, where officers finally found him hiding from view. 

They also discovered his excellent reasons for hiding, including arrest warrants, drugs and a firearm. His next ride was in the back seat of a police cruiser. 

Fire Department Log By RICHARD BRENNEMAN

Tuesday April 19, 2005

Smoker Ignites Blaze 

A backyard smoker inadvertently sparked a grass fire in the 1200 block of Ashby Ave. early Friday afternoon, and by the time city firefighters extinguished the flames a fence and a shed had been rendered hors de combat. 

Deputy Fire Chief David Orth said the firefighters arrived within minutes of the 12:41 p.m. call and had the flames out within minutes. 

The fire, which started in one yard, crossed a fence and did most of its damage at 1214 Ashby Ave., where the blaze did $300 in damage to the shed and fence and about $1,000 damage to property in the backyard and shed. 


Duplex Burns 

Flames that began in the second floor of a duplex at 1708 Russell St. resulted in a two-alarm fire that did more than $120,000 in damage and resulted in injuries to a dog. 

The call came in at 8:26 p.m., and flames were erupting out of the front and side windows when the first engine company arrived. The second alarm was sounded after firefighters saw the blaze spreading from the roof of the duplex onto the roof of a neighboring dwelling, Orth said. 

The fire consumed the furniture in the second-floor dwelling and damaged a deck and the neighbor’s roof by the time flames were extinguished at 8:50 p.m. 

In a search of the second floor, firefighters spotted a dog injured in the flames, and a police car dispatched the injured pet for emergency treatment. 

“The dog is expected to make a complete recovery,” Orth said.

Berkeley’s Insidious Incinerator By LA WOOD

Tuesday April 19, 2005

Gilman Street and I-80 mark the entrance to Berkeley’s Oceanview District. The highway exit is also delineated by the puffing white smokestacks of Pacific Steel Castings, one of Berkeley’s last remaining foundries. All who drive through northwest Berkele y knows it’s time to roll up the car windows because of the burnt smells that permeate the area.  

Several weeks ago, Pacific Steel was finally given another Notice of Violation by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) for odor nuisance. H owever, neighbors around the facility should expect nothing from the air district. Fines are mostly small in comparison to profits, so businesses like Pacific Steel simply shrug off the expense as part of the cost of doing business.  

This time though, the odor violation has turned the focus onto the foundry’s incinerator, which was installed in 1998, and has sparked a debate over the air district’s permitting practices. Residents are asking how “a green community” like Berkeley, which has the reputatio n of “not liking anything,” could buy in so completely to this industrial incinerator. The answer to this question lies within the permitting process, a regulatory morass more insidious than the incinerator itself.  


Follow the Money  

It is unclear whethe r Pacific Steel’s incinerator was the brainchild of the foundry or was more a promotion effort by the California Integrated Waste Management Board (CIWMB). This state-funded agency works with clients like Pacific Steel in waste reduction and recycling eff orts by offering low-interest loans and technical assistance including project coordination.  

Since CIWMB also helps with expediting the necessary permits, the agency must have realized that the only way to force this “burn barrel” technology onto an y city within the San Francisco Basin, much less Berkeley, was if the public was kept unaware of what it really was. California Integrated Waste must have also known that the regulatory shelter created by the Bay Area air district made Pacific Steel Casti ngs, and Berkeley, the best candidate for the incinerator. Ironically, as it turns out, the best place to hide an incinerator is amidst a big stink, like in Oceanview.  

So, in 1997 the foundry was awarded a loan for $648,950 to help purchase the incinera tor. CIWMB quickly managed to line up broad support for the pilot project by simply calling it “green.” Of course, CIWMB enjoyed ample industry support for the incinerator because of its potential economic impact on the foundry industry in the Bay Area an d el sewhere.  

Even Congresswoman Lee was enticed into Berkeley to help the city and council receive the Ed McMahon-sized check for the Pacific Steel’s Second Street incinerator. And with that, Berkeley was turned into the poster child for this “new” inc inerator technology and used to sell it to other communities. All the political kudos, awards and celebration of this grand regional enterprise obscured a serious dilemma created by the incinerator: its land use incompatibility.  


Public Health and Land Use  

The incinerator pilot project was certainly not a difficult sell when it came to the Bay Area Air Quality Management District. When the permitting request for the incinerator was finally presented, backroom deliberations reveal that the air district had q uestions about the proposal and the legal need for an environmental review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Unfortunately, that discussion quickly evaporated.  

It appears that to assuage the political pressure associated with this i ncinerator permit, BAAQMD trespassed beyond the legal limits of the law to offer Pacific Steel a categorical exemption. The air district realized a CEQA review would daylight more than the foundry’s incinerator and would go further to expose a deca de of c orrupt BAAQMD permitting practices at Pacific Steel Castings.  

The air district has a history of taking the regulatory low road, but in Berkeley, they managed to hit a new low. Although the categorical exemption successfully screened the public f rom know ing about the incinerator, it did not relieve BAAQMD of its legal obligation under CEQA for an environmental review. In fact, the trigger to require a CEQA evaluation for the incinerator is based on the state’s land use restrictions as pertains t o the pro ximity of schools and childcare facilities.  

BAAQMD was well aware of the existence of the Duck’s Nest on Fourth Street and within two blocks of the new Pacific Steel incinerator. In 1988, the air district was asked by parents of this childcare center to evaluate the emissions coming from the steel foundry.  

In 1999, the California Air Resources Board (CARB), which oversees the permits handed out by BAAQMD, came to Berkeley to investigate Pacific Steel and related public health questions. CARB took one look at the urban incinerator along with its questionable air permits and hightailed it back to Sacramento.  

Instead of addressing this crucial public health concern, the state and regional air agencies have both chosen to propagate the myth th at Pacific Steel’s emissions are harmless and that all of its pollution is being captured by a carbon scrubber. Nothing could be further from the truth! The record shows that the steel foundry clearly has process emissions that have no air pollution contr ols.  


Tit le V and Environmental Justice  

The roots of this environmental injustice run so deep as to have even distorted Pacific Steel’s accountability under its federal Title V permit. This permit is required under the Clean Air Act, which is overseen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. However, direct responsibility for this federal permit has been farmed out to the Bay Area air district. The Title V program was designed to identify large air dischargers, like Pacific Steel, and to require m ore environmental accountability from such major facilities. However, as the record shows, BAAQMD’s approval of the foundry’s federal permit totally negates Title V’s stated purpose.  

Changes to the Title V program in the mid 1990s allowed some major fac ilities to petition for reclassification as minor facilities thus reducing their permit requirements for reporting, monitoring, and assessments. Unbelievably, the air district allowed Pacific Steel this lower reporting status. BAAQMD argued that even thou gh the thre e main buildings of the foundry are located on Second Street, one building was classified as “noncontiguous.” Hence, Pacific Steel Castings received two minor facility permits instead of one major facility permit.  

The net result was to allow the foundry to report in a piecemeal fashion, which made Pacific Steel’s operations appear much smaller on paper than they really are. The air district then used this to justify less environmental accountability from the foundry. For over a decade, this has conveniently kept Pacific Steel from showing up on the EPA’s regulatory radar. It’s no wonder that residents have been waiting three years for a simple health risk screening from the air district, and why the regulatory folder on the foundry is so thin! And yes, Title V should have flagged the new incinerator.  

BAAQMD’s regulatory machinations have left our community with less understanding today about the toxic impact of the foundry’s emissions than residents had a decade ago. Now Pacific Steel can smugly stand behind the air district and continue to publicly state that their emissions are not toxic only because their permit does not require those emissions to be tested. This convoluted regulatory fraud has exempted Pacific Steel from answering any embarrassing questions. Even worse, it has allowed BAAQMD to successfully foist this new incinerator with its additional emissions onto a neighborhood already overburdened by pollution.  

There are clearly many gaps concerning the public’s protection in m ixed-use hou sing and huge shortcomings in the state’s air regulations. But if BAAQMD and CARB won’t enforce current health and air quality standards, what difference will any future changes and protections really make in California’s air quality, or Berk eley’s? Clean air begins with honest regulation. Shut down Pacific Steel Castings’ incinerator now!  


LA Wood is a Berkeley resident.?sD

Oakland Special Election: A Better Way By AIMEE ALLISON

Tuesday April 19, 2005

Elections should ensure majority rule and give citizens confidence that every vote counts. In Oakland, we could be using the best that democracy has to offer. 

City officials have so far passed up this opportunity. I am one of eight candidates running to represent District 2 on the Oakland City Council. The person who gets the most votes will win. But with so many people in the race, the winner could take office with as little as 12 percent of the vote. That’s hardly democratic. 

We’ve seen this problem before. Four years ago, in a special election for Oakland City Council in District 6, the winner emerged from a pool of candidates with 33 percent of the vote. The second-place candidate was close behind at 31 percent. If the city had held a runoff betwee n these top two candidates, it’s anybody’s guess who might have won. Instead, two-thirds of the voters simply went unrepresented. 

In the old days, when an Oakland city council member stepped down in the middle of a term, the council would appoint a repla cement. But Oakland overwhelmingly passed Measure I, which amended the city charter to provide for a special election by the voters. The amendment leaves it to the city council to set the exact terms of the election. The best method by far would be instan t runoff voting (IRV). 

I advocate instant runoff voting (IRV), a voting system that our city charter specifically allows. 

Under IRV, voters rank candidates in order of choice: 1, 2, 3, and so on. The winning candidate must have a majority of votes. If anyone receives more than half of the first-choice votes, that candidate is elected. If not, the last-place candidate is defeated, just as in a runoff election, and all those who picked the losing candidate have their votes reassigned to their next choice. The ballots are counted again. The process of eliminating the last-place candidate and recounting the ballots continues until one candidate receives a majority of the vote. 

IRV does more than assure majority rule. It also allows citizens to vote their c onscience. In a race where candidates 1 and 2 seem to be leading and candidate 3 looks a little shakier, a voter can comfortably pick candidate 3 as the favorite without worrying that she is spoiling the chances for her second choice. 

In addition, IRV di scourages negative campaigning and makes candidates focus instead on the issues. Why? Because the competing candidates must keep in mind voters who might be choosing someone else first. Candidates who insult their opponents are hurting their own chances o f winning. 

IRV is a time-tested system of voting used in a number of other democracies, including England, Australia, and New Zealand. 

In addition, IRV has gained a foothold in the United States. Last November, voters in San Francisco were overwhelmingl y satisfied with the election when they used IRV to elected their district supervisors. 

Oakland’s city charter allows the city council to institute IRV for special elections. What is the council waiting for? As a council member, I will do my utmost to pu t the system in place. It’s an easy and efficient way to ensure majority rule. 


Aimee Allison is a City Council candidate in Oakland’s District 2.›

Jefferson Elementary School, and Other Excuses for the Achievement Gap By MICHAEL LARRICK

Tuesday April 19, 2005

Black Americans and their leaders would be far better served if they would address the real problems in black education instead of the superficial and misleading issue of the name of a school. The name of a school has absolutely nothing to do with academic achievement. The real reasons for the “achievement gap” are uncomfortable for many to discuss so the portrayal of blacks as perennial victims is used to absolve them from having to accept responsibility for their own actions and bad choices. Racism is not dead, but as racism recedes as a serious obstacle to black advancement, most black American leaders continue the self destructive ideology of victimhood. They treat victim hood not as a problem to be solved but as an identity to be nurtured. Victimhoo d is seductive because there is an ironic and addictive contentment in being the underdog. However it inherently gives failure, lack of effort and even criminality a tacit stamp of approval. Many young blacks, born decades after the heyday of the civil ri ghts movement, and who have few if any obstacles to success, see victim hood as the defining element of their existence. 

The Berkeley schools do little to dissuade this attitude. The history and English departments would have you thinking that nothing ha s changed since Selma in 1965. Not challenging students and accepting sub-standard work does not make up for past injustices, but only exacerbates the problem. Mr. Hourula, the Willard Middle School History teacher, wrote a letter to the editor in the Dai ly Planet exhalting the hard working, underpaid and above all, altruistic teachers. I attended a “History Fair” sponsored by Mr. Hourula. It was a big event to showcase the students knowledge and organizational skills. What it really showcased was the dep ths to which academic standards have sunk. The majority of the projects were on the history of hip-hop, hair weaves, and NBA basketball teams. I am not making this up! The recent Harvard University report on the sorry condition of California’s schools ref lect this style of “education.” Harvard also commented on the lack of discipline at home which is allowed to continue in the schools with impunity. I will remind all you altruistic teachers that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. 

All discuss ions of the “achievement gap” issue assume that “black” means “poor.” From there it becomes natural to attribute the lag of black performance to inequities in school resources, teacher’s racist bias and chaotic home lives. We get this message steadily and without variation. Yet the very factors considered to preordain black students to mediocrity do not thwart a great many minority groups from scholarly achievement. (San Francisco Chronicle, March 10, 2004) “Urban school breaks the mold, Oakland immigrant community prioritizes education-and won’t let income, language barriers hold kids back” Ninety percent of the students are Chinese, qualify for the free lunch, and half are learning English. “Despite language and income barriers used by other schools to explain away lousy academic performance scores ...they are fifth highest in the district”  

Black anthropologist and author Dr. John Ogbu has studied and written about education and raises some uncomfortable questions about race, opportunity and responsib ility. He found that the very same problems plagued both Oakland and the affluent black suburb of Cleveland, Shaker Heights Ohio. Black students were absent more often, did less homework, watched more television and had less involved parents. They did not value education and in fact, if a black student were doing well in school he was chastised by his peers. If you live up to your academic potential you are accused of acting white. He found that the students own attitudes hindered their academic achieveme nt.  

Black UC Berkeley professor and author John McWhorter describes the black attitude toward education as “anti-Intellectualism” and says it stems from the victim mentality. It is a defeatist message.” Is the existence of racism in society somehow able to obliterate intellectual abilities?” Education is seen as running counter to an “authentic” black identity. Add to this rap music’s continuous sound track of anti-social behavior which romanticizes the ghetto life and you have a problem. According to t he popular rap group N.W.A. “Life ain’t nothin but bitches and money.” A great message for our youth. Slavery was and is a horror. It was an accepted human condition in just about every society for most of recorded history. It is not particular to any one group being either slave or slave owners. In New Orleans in 1860 there were 10,689 free negroes. According to Duke University professor and the nations leading African American historian John Hope Franklin over 3,000 free negroes owned slaves or 28 perce nt of the free negroes in that city were slave owners themselves. Western civilization first condemned and then outlawed slavery. Slavery still exists as the accepted norm in Africa, Asia, and India.  

Thomas Jefferson owned slaves and now, in western civ ilization, it is considered unthinkable to do such a thing. Today many of us eat meat. The animals which we eat are usually kept in horrific conditions until they are slaughtered. If they do roam free it is to the detriment of our environment on destroyed forest lands. Food fed to cattle could feed the worlds poor. There is very little good to said about the suffering lives and brutal deaths of animals to feed humans. Will this be seen as a form of slavery and murder in the near future and will we all be condemned? Many women decide to murder the babies inside their wombs today. Will society see abortion as a despicable act in the future? Will any women who had an abortion be denied a public building or park to be named after them? 

We are in a very large part the products of our time. The great ones change things for the better and others just accept the present conditions or even languish in the past. The black community needs to look to the future and make some changes in their approach to education an d it goes far beyond the name of a school. Time is running out on the ability to play the victim card. Doing something to change incredible school drop out rate and the number of single mothers is what should be a priority or you may as well just change the name of the school to San Quentin Prep. 


Michael Larrick is a Berkeley resident.??

The Art That Saved the Irish From Starvation By ZELDA BRONSTEIN

Special to the Planet
Tuesday April 19, 2005

Anyone who doubts that art can change the world should visit the Irish crochet lace show that just opened at the new Lacis Museum of Lace and Textiles in Berkeley. The first thing you’ll notice is the intricate, often fanciful, beauty of the hundred-plus pieces on display; the second is their amazing history.  

Far from being an ancient indigenous art, Irish crochet was invented in the mid-1800s as a way of enabling families and communities to survive the potato famine. The invention is generally credited to Mademoiselle Riego de Blanchardiere, the daughter of a Franco-Spanish nobleman and an Irish mother. She figured out how to make lace that resembled Venetian needlepoint but that could be worked on a crochet hook, greatly speeding production. A seven-inch piece that took at least two hundred hours to make with a needle could be crocheted in only (!) 20 hours.  

That suited the technique to mass production, as did the fact that, unlike ordinary crochet, which is worked in rows, Irish crochet consists of motifs—leaves, flowers, fruit—that are individually fashioned and then joined through a network of crocheted fans or mesh. This permitted a division of labor: workers could specialize in particular aspects, according to their ability.  

Mademoiselle Riego published the first pattern book of Irish crochet in 1846. By 1847, according to textile historian Marie Treanor, 12,000 to 20,000 girls—as both instigators and practitioners, women seem to have been in the forefront here—were being paid to make Irish crochet in and around Cork, in southern Ireland. A second center of production sprang up around the town of Clones in the north. Irish crochet was a cottage industry: the workers were supplied with the materials, which they worked in their homes. The completed pieces were brought by foot to a lacemaking center in town, where they were carefully arranged and then crocheted together as collars, cuffs, bodices, ruffles and trimmings, dresses and coats, and even parasols.  

Whole families took part, jealously guarding special motifs. “When neighbors entered a house unexpectedly,” writes Treanor, “the lace was hidden from view.” And for good reason: a distinctive pattern, finely worked, supplied a family’s income.  

Irish lace found ready buyers in Dublin, London, Paris, Rome, New York and San Francisco (a major center for the distribution of Irish crochet until the earthquake of 1906). Though its popularity waxed and waned with fashion and soon faced a challenge from machine-made lace, it was made in quantity until World War I.  

Today, Irish crochet lace is rare and valuable—an object to be handled with care. The pieces at Lacis all come from the textile collection of Jules Kliot, which was assembled by Kliot and his late wife Kaethe over a period of 40 years. The Kliot collection includes thousands of specimens whose origins range from pre-Columbian Peru to seventeenth-century European courts to the machinery of the Industrial Revolution. Lace, says Kliot, “was the most remarkable substance that we had ever seen. There was something unworldly about it…[T]his was a fabric that could not have been made by man.”  

The Irish crochet lace show is the inaugural exhibit at the Lacis Museum of Lace and Textiles, which occupies 6,000 square feet in the retail store, also called Lacis [pronounced luh-CEASE], founded by Jules and Kaethe Kliot in 1965. (Lacis is a kind of filet lace.) Conceived after Kaethe Kliot’s untimely death in 2002, the museum is intended as a tribute to and expression of the support and encouragement that she offered in the store and beyond.  

“When Kaethe passed away,” says Jules Kliot, “thousands of letters were written. There was a guestbook on our website, and people just wrote in from all over the world how much Kaethe meant to them and to the textile arts community.”  

Asked why they decided to open the museum with a show of Irish crochet lace, both Jules Kliot and museum conservator Martha Sherick Shen say that it seemed like the best way to convey the spirit of Kaethe Kliot and Lacis.  

“There are so many laces that people can’t relate to,” Shen observes. She meant that most ordinary viewers can’t imagine how these textiles could have been fabricated. Whereas with Irish crochet, “a lot of people have a little basis of understanding,” even though “the thread we have today is so much bigger so that to have created something out of that size of thread”—the size of a fine human hair—“is still awesome.”  

Certainly I was awed by one collar with stitches so fine that they looked like foam. Awe aside, many pieces—a double sunflower with dangling buds, for example—simply evoked delight.  

“This initial exhibit,” Kliot writes in the catalog, “…represents a defining moment in Irish history, when survival depended upon the belief that ‘all is possible.’” It’s that belief—a faith in the possibility of transcendent human achievement—that lies at the heart of both the show and the museum. Its power is borne out in the marvelous examples of Irish crochet lace on display. Should you find yourself wishing to exercise that power firsthand, you can buy one of the pattern books published by Lacis and make your own Irish crochet lace. Tools, materials, instruction and moral support are all available as well.  

The Irish crochet lace exhibit runs through July 30. In July a companion show, “Irish Crochet to Freeform,” will open to coincide with this summer’s joint meeting of the Crochet Guild of America and the Knitting Guild of America in Oakland. Marie Treanor (from Ireland) and other experts will be teaching classes and leading workshops.  


“Irish Crochet Lace: 150 Years of a Tradition” is at the Lacis Museum of Lace and Textiles, 2982 Adeline St. (just north of the Ashby BART station), 843-7290. Monday–Saturday, noon–6 p.m. Admission is free. The museum website is www.lacismuseum.org.  


Arts Calendar

Tuesday April 19, 2005



Annual Quilt Show at the North Berkeley Public Library, 1170 The Alameda, at Hopkins, and runs through May 21. 981-6250. 


Alternative Visions: Devotional Cinema Films by Nathaniel Dorsky at 7:30 p.m. at the Pacific Film Archive. Cost is $4-$8. 642-0808. www.bampfa.berkeley.edu 


Nick Salvatore introduces “Singing in a Strange Land: Rev. C. L. Franklin, the Black Church, and the Transformation of America” at 7:30 p.m. at Black Oak Books. 486-0698.  

John Shelby Spong explains “The Sins of the Scripture: Exposing the Bible’s Texts of Hate to Reveal the God of Love” at 7:30 p.m. at First Congregational Church of Berkeley, 2345 Channing Way. Suggested donation $10. 845-7852.  

“Synagogue Mosaics and Liturgy in Greco-Roman Palestine” with Prof. Steven Fine at 7 p.m. at Badé Museum, Pacific School of Religion, 1798 Scenic Ave. 849-8201. 

Ayun Halliday describes her life a “Job Hopper: The Checkered Career of a Down-Market Dilettante” at 7:30 p.m. at Cody’s Books. 845-7852.  


Wild Catahoulahs at 8:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cajun dance lesson at 8 p.m. Cost is $9. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

Martin Hayes & Dennis Cahill at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $21.50. 548-1761.  

Jug Free America at 9:30 p.m. at The Stork Club, 2330 Telegraph Ave., Oakland. Tickets are $5. 444-6174.  

Danny Caron, Jazz guitar, at 8 p.m. at Downtown. 649-3810. 

Wallpaper, rock, at 9 p.m. at Blakes on Telegraph. Cost is $6-$8. 848-0886.  

Gunga, Brazilian music, at 8 and 10 p.m. Yoshi’s at Jack London Square. Cost is $10-$16. 238-9200.  

Jazzschool Tuesdays at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 848-8277. 



Laney College Theater, “Legacy for LoEshe” in memory of a girl slain in West Oakland, Wed. and Thurs. at 8 p.m., at 900 Fallon St., Oakland. Tickets are $5-$9. 464-3544. 


History of Cinema: “Life on Earth” at 3 p.m. and Games People Play “eXistenZ” at 7:30 p.m. at the Pacific Film Archive. Cost is $4-$8. 642-0808.  


Wesley Stace introduces his new novel “Misfortune” at 7:30 p.m. at Cody’s Books. 845-7852. www.codysbooks.com 

Ji-Li Liang, talks about “Red Scarf Girl: A Memoir of the Cultural Revolution” at 7:30 p.m. at the Albany Library, 1247 Marin Ave. 526-3720, ext. 16. 

Mark Kurlansky discusses “1968: The Year That Rocked the World” at 7:30 p.m. at Black Oak Books. 486-0698. www.blackoakbooks.com 

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

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


Wednesday Noon Concert, “Love Songs by Robert and Clara Schumann” with Marissa Matthews, soprano, at Hertz Hall, UC Campus. Free. 642-4864. http://music.berkeley.edu 

Music for the Spirit with Ron McKean on the Rosales Organ at 12:15 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church of Oakland, 2619 Broadway. 444-3555.  

Ned Boynton Trio at 8 p.m. at Downtown. 649-3810.  

Balkan Folkdance at 8 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Lessons at 7 p.m. Cost is $7. 525-5054.  

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

Losa, Ground Control, The Morning Benders at 9 p.m. at Blakes on Telegraph. Cost is $6-$8. 848-0886.  

Cyril Guiraud Trio at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 848-8277. 

Martin Hayes & Dennis Cahill at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $ $21.50. 548-1761.  

Whiskey Brothers at 9 p.m. at Albatross, 1822 San Pablo Ave. 843-2473.  

Toots Thielemans and Kenny Werner with Oscar Castro-Neves at 8 and 10 p.m. at Yoshi’s at Jack London Square, through Sun. Cost is $12-$22. 238-9200.  



Traveling Jewish Theater “Blood Relative” opens at the Julia Morgan Center for the Arts, Thurs., Fri. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 2 and 7 p.m. Through May 1. Tickets are $23-$34. 415-285-8080. www.atjt.com 


“Drawn by the Brush: Oil Sketches of Peter Paul Rubens” guided tour at 12:15 and 5:30 p.m. at Berkeley Art Museum, 2625 Durant Ave. 642-0808. www.bampfa.berkeley.edu 


Jordan Fisher Smith describes “Nature Noir: A Park Ranger’s Patrol in the Sierra” at 7:30 p.m. at Cody’s Books. 845-7852. www.codysbooks.com  

Berkeley Live and Unplugged Open mic at 7 p.m. at 1924 Cedar St. 703-9350. www.LiveAndUnplugged.org 

“Architecture, Diaspora(s), and the Hanukiyyah” with Adriana Valencia at 6:30 p.m. at Judah L. Magnes Museum, 2911 Russell St. 549-6950. www.magnes.org 

Word Beat Reading Series at 7 p.m. with David Madgalene and Christopher Luna at Mediterraneum Caffe, 2475 Telegraph Ave. 526-5985. 


Bambu Station and Iba, reggae from St. Croix at 9:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $14. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

Pierre Bensusan at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $19.50-$20.50. 548-1761.  

Cas Lucas and Steve Inglis, acoustic rock, folk, blues at 8:30 p.m. at Epic Arts, 1923 Ashby Ave. Cost is $5-$10.  

Debbie Poryes & Charles McNeal at 8 p.m. at Downtown. 649-3810.  



Actors Ensemble of Berkeley, “Working,” inspired by Studs Terkel, Fri. and Sat. at 8 p.m. at Live Oak Theater, 1301 Shattuck Ave. Through May 7. Tickets are $13-$15. 649-5999. www.aeofberkeley.org 

Aurora Theatre, “Blue/Orange” Wed.-Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 2 and 7 p.m., 2081 Addison St. through May 15. Tickets are $28-$45. 843-4822. www.aurora.theatre.org 

BareStage Productions “She Loves Me!” Fri. and Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 2 p.m. through April 24 at Choral Rehearsal Hall, Cesar Chavez Student Center, UC Campus. Tickets are $8-$10. http://tickets.berkeley.edu 

Berkeley Repertory Theater “For Better or Worse” at the Thrust Stage, 2025 Addison St. through April 24. Tickets are $20-$55. 647-2949. www.berkeleyrep.org 

Berkeley Repertory Theater “The People’s Temple” at the Roda Theater, through May 29. Tickets are $20-$55. 647-2949. www.berkeleyrep.org 

Black Repertory Group “Bubbling Brown Sugar” the musical Fri. at 8 p.m., Sat. at 2:30 and 8 p.m. to May 14 at 3201 Adeline St. Tickets are $7-$15. 652-2120.  

Contra Costa Civic Theatre “Jekyll & Hyde: The Musical” Fri. and Sat. at 8 p.m. at 951 Pomona Ave., El Cerrito, through May 21. Tickets are $12-$20. 524-9132. www.ccct.org 

Impact Briefs 7: “The How-To Show” Thu.-Sat at 8 p.m. at La Val’s Subterranean, 1834 Euclid Ave., through May 28. Tickets are $10-$15. 464-4468. www.impacttheatre.com 

Traveling Jewish Theater “Blood Relative” at the Julia Morgan Center for the Arts, Thurs., Fri. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 2 and 7 p.m. Tickets are $23-$34. 415-285-8080. www.atjt.com 

Opera Piccola and Stagebridge Senior Theater, “Being Something: Living ‘Young’ and Growing ‘Old’” Fri. and Sat. 8 p.m., Sun. at 3 p.m. at Oakland Metro, Jack London Square, through May 1. Tickets are $15. 444-4755. www.stagebridge.org 

“Proof” by David Auburn, Fri. and Sat. at 8 p.m. through May 7, Sun. April 24 at 2:30 p.m. at The Masquers Playhouse, 105 Park Place, Point Richmond. Tickets are $13. 232-4031. www.masquers.org 


“Design Reconsidered” In honor of Earth Day a showcase of young designers and modern functional products. Reception from 6 to 8 p.m. at ACCI Gallery, 1652 Shattuck Ave. Exhibition runs to May 9. 843-2527. www.accigallery.com 


Robert Reich and Richard Parker in discussion about “John Kenneth Galbraith: His Life, His Politics, His Economics” at 7:30 p.m. at Cody’s Books. 845-7852. www.codysbooks.com 

Elaine Herscher examines “Generation Extra Large: Rescuing Our Children from the Epidemic of Obesity” at 7 p.m. at Cody’s Books on Fourth St. 559-9500. 


Oakland East Bay Symphony performs Herrmann, R. Strauss, Rosenthal, and Stravinsky at 8 p.m. at Paramount Theater, 2025 Broadway, Oakland. Tickets are $15-$60. 625-8497.  

University Dance Theater 2005, with new works by Carol Murota, Lisa Wymore and Ellis Wood, Fri. and Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 2 p.m. at Zellerbach Playhouse, UC Campus. Tickets are $10-$14. 642-9925. http://theater.berkeley.edu 

David Berkeley, singer-songwriter at 7:30 p.m. at the Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant Ave. Cost is $10. 848-7800. www.berkeleycityclub.com 

Women in Salsa Celebration at 9 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $10-$12. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

Youthquake: Teen Music Competition Winners at 8 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $9. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

Houston Jones at 8 p.m. at Caffe Trieste, 2500 San Pablo Ave., at Dwight. 548-5198.  

SongsAlive Showcase at 8 p.m. at Rose Street House of Music with Lila Nelson and Gilli Moon. 594-4000, ext. 687. www.rosestreetmusic.com 

Anton Barbeau & Scott Miller, pop, at 8:30 p.m. at Epic Arts, 1923 Ashby Ave. Cost is $5-$10.  

Mystic Roots, CV 1 at 9 p.m. at Blakes on Telegraph. Cost is $5-$7. 848-0886.  

The Waybacks at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $17.50-$18.50. 548-1761.  

Grapefruit Ed at 9:30 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $8. 841-2082.  

William Beattie Trio at 8 p.m. at Giorgi Gallery, 2911 Claremont Ave. 

Michael Bluestein Trio at 9 p.m. at Downtown. 649-3810. 

Daryl Scairot, singer-songwriter, at 7:30 p.m. at Nomad Cafe, 6500 Shattuck Ave. 595-5344. www.nomadcafe.net 

Belinda Underwood & Friends at 8 p.m. at the Jazz- 

school. Cost is $10. 845-5373.  

Albino, afro-beat, at 9 p.m. at Shattuck Down Low, 2284 Shattuck Ave. Cost is $10. 548-1159.  

Swoop Unit at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 848-8277. 

Toots Thielemans and Kenny Werner with Oscar Castro-Neves at 8 and 10 p.m. at Yoshi’s at Jack London Square, through Sun. Cost is $12-$22. 238-9200. www.yoshis.com 



Los Amiguitos de La Peña with Betsy Rose singing songs for Earth Day at 10:30 a.m. at La Peña. Cost is $4 for adults, $3 for children. 849-2568.  


Rhythm & Muse with poet Garrett Murphy at 7 p.m. at Berkeley Art Center. Free. Berkeley Art Center. 527-9753. 

Ishle Yi Park reads from her new book of poetry, “Temperature of This Water” at 4 p.m. at Eastwind Books of Berkeley, 2066 University Ave. 548-2350. 

Arnaud Maitland describes “Living Without Regret: Growing Old in the Light of Tibetan Buddhism” at 4 p.m. at Dharma Publishing Bookstore, 2910 San Pablo Ave. at Ashby. 


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

American Bach Soloists at 8 p.m. at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, 2300 Bancroft Way. Tickets are $20-$40. 415-621-7900. www.americanbach.org 

Natasha Miller, jazz vocalist at 8 p.m. at the PSR Chapel, 1798 Scenic Ave. Donation $10-$20. 704-7729. 

Tom Rigney & Flambeau, Cajun, Zydeco at 9:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cajun dance lesson at 8 p.m. Cost is $11-$13. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

Four Seasons Concerts “Burning River Brass” at 7:30 p.m. at Calvin Simmons Theater, 10 Tenth St., Oakland. Tickets are $25-$35. 601-7919. www.fourseasonsconcerts.com 

pickPocket Ensemble, european cafe music, at 9:30 p.m. at Albatross, 1822 San Pablo Ave. Cost is $3. 843-2473. www.albatrosspub.com 

Stephen Yerky with Mariospeedwagon at 7:30 p.m. at Nomad Cafe, 6500 Shattuck Ave. 595-5344.  

Jump/Cut, CD release party, at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 848-8277. 

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

Meli at 7 and 9 p.m. at Spud’s Pizza, 3290 Adeline St. Cost is $5. 597-0795. 

Mastema, Second Shot, Overdrive A.D., punk, rock, alt at 9 p.m. at Blakes on Telegraph. Cost is $5-$7. 848-0886.  

Bill Ortiz, new interpretations of the music of James Brown, at 8 p.m. at the Jazzschool. Cost is $12-$18. 845-5373.  

Arte Flamenco at 8 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $18-$20. 849-2568.  

Firecracker, Cowpokes for Peace at 9:30 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $6. 841-2082. www.starryploughpub.com 

Jen Chapin Trio, urban folk and jazz, at 8:30 p.m. at Epic Arts, 1923 Ashby Ave. Cost is $5-$10.  

Mark Levine Trio at 9 p.m. at Downtown. 649-3810. 

Phenomenauts, Teenage Harlots, Left Alone at 8 p.m. at 924 Gilman St. Cost is $6. 525-9926. 



Asheba at Ashkenaz at 3 p.m. Cost is $4-$6. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 


Matrix 216: “The Year of the Doppelganger” by Slater Bradley, opens at the Berkeley Art Museum, 2626 Bancroft Way. Artist’s talk at 4 p.m. 642-0808. www.bampfa.berkeley.edu 

“Drawn by the Brush: Oil Sketches of Peter Paul Rubens” guided tour at 2 p.m. at Berkeley Art Museum, 2625 Durant Ave. 642-0808. www.bampfa.berkeley.edu 


Kazuo Ishiguro reads from his new novel “Never Let Me Go” at 2 p.m. at Cody’s Books. 845-7852. www.codysbooks.com 

Tariq Ali introduces his two new books “Street-Fighting Years” and “Speaking of Empire and Resistance” at 7:30 p.m. at First Congregational Church, 2345 Channing Way. Free. Sponsored by Cody’s Books. 845-7852. www.codysbooks.com 

Nuria Amat, with translator Peter Bursh read from the novel “Queen Cocaine” at 7:30 p.m. at Black Oak Books. 486-0698. www.blackoakbooks.com 

Poetry Flash with Gillian Conoley and Jane Miller at 7:30 p.m. at Cody’s Books. Donation $2. 845-7852.  

Words Weaving Together, poetry, at 7:30 p.m. at Epic Arts, 1923 Ashby Ave. Cost is $5-$10.  


Ya Elah, part of the series “Offerings” at 7 p.m. at Grace North Church, 2138 Cedar St. Suggested donation $10. 213-3122. 

Point Taken, Sky Bleeds Red, Ambulance Ambulance at 4 p.m. at Blakes on Telegraph. Cost is $8. All ages show. 848-0886.  

Americana Unplugged at 4 p.m. at Jupiter. 655-5715. 

Celebracíon de Culturas a benefit for Escula Bilingüe Internacional at 5 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $15. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

Que Calor at 4:30 at the Jazz- 

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

Ellis Paul at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $17.50-$18.50. 548-1761.  



Buddhism and Film: “The Reincarnation of Khensur Rinpoche” at 3 p.m. at the Pacific Film Archive. Cost is $4-$8. 642-0808.  


Loung Ung writes about life under the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia and her escape in “Lucky Child” at 7:30 p.m. at Cody’s Books. 845-7852.  

Pico Iyer discusses “Sun After Dark: Flights into the Foreign” and Michael Shapiro on travel writers in “A Sense of Place” at 7:30 p.m. at Black Oak Books. 486-0698.  

“Where were you when they killed Victor Jara?” a free play reading with Actors Ensemble of Berkeley at 7:30 p.m. at Pegasus Books, downtown Berkeley.  

Poetry Express Theme night “Planes, Trains, and Busses” from 7 to 9:30 p.m., at Priya Restaurant, 2072 San Pablo Ave. berkeleypoetryexpress@yahoo.com 


New European Chamber Orchestra at 5 p.m. at Cody’s Books. 845-7852.  

Tuscan Sun Festival with New European Chamber Orchestra at 8 p.m. at Zellerbach Hall, UC Campus. Tickets are $22-$42. 642-9988. www.calperfs.berkeley.edu 

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

Trovatore, traditional Italian songs, at 7 p.m. at Caffe Trieste, 2500 San Pablo Ave., at Dwight. 548-5198.  

West Coast Songwriters Open Mic at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $5. 548-1761. 

Alameda High School Jazz Band at 8 and 10 p.m. at Yoshi’s at Jack London Square. Cost is $10. 238-9200. www.yoshis.com

Following the Flight of the Painted Lady Butterflies By JOE EATON

Special to the Planet
Tuesday April 19, 2005

We were somewhere in the foothills east of Bakersfield when the first of the painted ladies showed up. 

This was the third week of March, on the way to Death Valley for what was being touted as the Bloom of the Century. Just before Route 58 started up the Kern River Canyon, Ron and I drove through a swarm of small orange butterflies. No way to identify them; I thought maybe California tortoiseshell, which were having a good flight year in the Coast Ranges. Next day at Furnace Creek, after encountering more of the same along the Badwater Road, I found a moribund painted lady (Vanessa cardui) in the parking lot. And then at Titus Canyon in the north end of the park, still more of them; a few stopped to nectar at a sweetbush with local checkerspots and blues, but most just kept moving. 

Then around the first of April, the wave of painted ladies hit the Bay Area. I got a secondhand report of orange butterflies in a residential neighborhood near Claremont Avenue. The East Bay Birders listserve erupted with painted lady sightings from El Cerrito, Castro Valley, Rossmoor, Martinez, Moraga, Mount Diablo. 

I spent most the morning of April 2 in a Zodiac in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta with a field biologist who was doing a songbird point-count in the marshes. From near dawn to noon the painted ladies streamed past, all headed north or northwest, sometimes pacing the boat. At one point we figured they were moving through at about one per second: mostly singles, once in a while two that seemed to be interacting.  

It rained the following day, a Sunday. But the sun came out on Monday, and the butterflies were still on the move. A friend spotted them in downtown Oakland; another called to say there were thousands moving through the UC campus. I saw them northbound along Martin Luther King in Berkeley, and the parallel side streets. When they came to an obstacle—a house, an apartment complex—they went up and over, not around it. That afternoon I watched a couple of them approach the south side of the Valley Life Sciences Building to within a foot or so, then fly straight up the face of the building and across the roof. 

Neither I or anyone I discussed it with had seen anything like this mass movement. But a little research determined that it wasn’t unprecedented. Painted ladies have a history of this kind of thing. 

In the spring of 1924, E. A. McGregor recorded a three-day flight through Southern California with densities of 300 butterflies per acre along a front at least 40 miles wide. Assuming 12 flight hours per day, McGregor calculated that at least 3 billion butterflies had moved through, all headed to the northwest. And I found references to similar flights in 1901, 1941, 1958, 1973, 1983, and 1998.  

Where were they coming from, and what had triggered the movements? Back in 1962 J. W. Tilden, who taught at what was then San Jose State College, provided tentative answers in an article in the Journal of Research on the Lepidoptera. He traced the 1958 outbreak to an origin in northern Mexico, where the cold-intolerant butterflies had spent the winter, and a final destination at least as far north as Oregon. What was going on appeared to be a multi-generational relay to the north, with no evidence of a southward return flight. Tilden thought the butterflies flew into the prevailing wind, although later research discounts that; they may orient by the sun and use polarized light to navigate. He couldn’t find a regular cycle to the movements but noted that “success in predicting these flights has been possible through knowledge of rainfall on the desert.” 

About 20 years later, M. T. Myres at the University of Calgary, along with reporting a major southbound movement through Alberta in the late summer of 1983, was the first to point out the coincidence between painted lady outbreaks and El Niño events. If heavy rainfall in the Mexican desert fostered the growth of vegetation that could feed a lot of painted lady caterpillars, that could explain the population peaks that seemed to set off the northward flights. The larvae aren’t too picky; they’ll consume thistles, fiddleneck, and a variety of plants in the mallow and pea families. Myres conceded that some flights, like those of 1901 and 1924, had occurred in non-El Nino years, but felt those could be explained by a phenomenon called the Namias-Sumner effect which could also dump a lot of rain on the deserts. 

Meanwhile, the British entomologist C. B. Williams had noticed that painted lady outbreaks in the British Isles often occurred in the same years as the North American movements. (The European flights originate in North Africa. Painted ladies are found on every continent except South America and Antarctica, and many oceanic islands. Stragglers have been recorded as far north as Iceland and Hudson Bay.) Myres suggested that the climatic triggers could be global. By 2002 enough observational data had been compiled—from stations at Berkeley and Mount Diablo, and elsewhere in the West—that Robert Vandenbosch at the University of Washington could crunch the numbers, and demonstrate a correlation between painted lady population cycles and both El Nino events and the longer-scale Pacific Decadal Oscillation.  

This was not supposed to have been a strong El Nino, but it was indisputably a wet one. And the rains that made the Southern California deserts bloom also seem to have produced that torrent of painted ladies. Iowa State University has a website (www.public.iastate.edu/~mariposa) where observers can post their sightings. It will be interesting to see how the rest of the year unfolds, how far north the travelers make it, and whether any of their descendants return to the deserts where it all began. ?

Berkeley This Week

Tuesday April 19, 2005


Early Morning Bird Walk Meet at 7 a.m. at Inspiration Point, Tilden Park, to look for Seaview Trail species, including nuthatches, warblers and sparrows. 525-2233. 

Bird Walk along the Martin Luther King Shoreline to see marsh birds at 3:30 p.m. for information call 525-2233. 

Mini-Rangers at Tilden Park Join us for an afternoon of nature study, conservation and rambling through the woods and water. Dress to get dirty, and bring a healthy snack to share. For children age 8-12, unaccompanied by their partents. Cost is $6-$8. Registration required. 636-1684. 

Berkeley Garden Club Spring Tea and “Natural Flower Arranging” at 1 p.m. at Epworth Methodist Church, 1953 Hopkins St. Cost is $8. 524-4374. 

Kayaking 101 Learn about safety and places to paddle at 7 p.m. at REI, 1338 San Pablo Ave. 527-4140. 

“Freeing a Superpower’s Slaves” The story of the first great human rights campaign with Adam Hochchild at 7:30 p.m. in Buttner Auditorium, College Prep School, 6100 Broadway. Cost is $5-$10. 658-5202. 

American Red Cross Blood Services Volunteer Orientation at 6 p.m. at 6230 Claremont Ave, Oakland. Advance sign-up needed. 594-5165. 

Berkeley Salon Discussion Group meets to discuss The Draft and the Military from 7 to 9 p.m. at the BRJCC, 1414 Walnut St. Please bring snacks and soft drinks to share. No peanuts please. 601-6690.     

Shakespeare’s Birthday Celebration “All About Hamlet” at 7 p.m. at the Northbrae Community Church, 941 The Alameda. For reservations call 843-6798. yogikuby@earthlink.net 

“Community Resources for Better Health” with Donna Schempp, LCSW, at 4 p.m. at Jewish Family & Children’s Services, 828 San Pablo Ave., Suite 104, Albany. To register call 558-7800. 

Clarity Breathwork with Maggie Ostara, Ph.D. and Susan Chettle at 7 p.m. at Belldonna, 2436 Sacramento St. Cost is $30-$35. 883-0600. www.belladonna.ws 

Vision Screening for Toddlers at 10 a.m. at Habitot, 2065 Kittredge St. Cost is $5-$6. 647-1111. www.habitot.org 

Introductory Buddhist Meditation Class at 7 p.m. at Dzalandhara Buddhist Center, in Berkeley. Suggested donation $7-$10. For directions call 559-8183.www.kadampas.org 

Raging Grannies meet to sing for peace and justice at 2 p.m. at Berkeley Gray Panthers, 1403 Addison St. 548-9696. 

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


Tilden Explorers An after school nature adventure for 5-7 year olds who may be accompanied by an adult. No younger siblings please. We’ll learn about plant secrets. From 3:15 to 4:45 p.m. Cost is $6-$8. Registration required. 636-1684. 

“Mountain Bike Racers in Berkeley?” Come meet the Berkeley High team and the founder of the NorCal Mountain Bike High School League at 8 p.m., at the Hillside Club, 2286 Cedar St. Sponsored by Grizzly Peak Cyclists and open to all. Wheelchair accessible. 527-0450. 

“Concerned About Teacher Contract Negotiations?” Join the Berkeley Federation of Teachers in a community forum, at 7 p.m. at Longfellow School Auditorium, 1500 Derby St. Childcare provided. Wheelchair accessible,. Traduccíon al Español disponible. 549-2307. 

Direct from Chiapas with Gustavo Castro at 7:30 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center, 3105 Shattuck Ave. Cost is $5-$10 sliding scale. Benefit for Chiapas Support Committee. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

A Conversation with Alice Walker and Sue Hoya Sellars at 6 p.m. at Belladonna, 2436 Sacramento St. Tickets are $20. 883-0600. www.belladonna.ws 

“Saving Social Security” with Deb Androsa of Global Exchange at 7 p.m. at Berkeley Gray Panthers, 1403 Addison St. Light supper served. 548-9696. 

The Berkeley Lawn Bowling Club provides free instruction every Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. at 2270 Action St. 841-2174.  

Taoist Tai Chi Beginning Level Class at 7 p.m. in the Large Assembly Room of the First Congregational Church, 2345 Channing Way. Affordable monthly donation requested. 415-864-0899. www.taichicalifornia.org 

Walk Berkeley for Seniors meets at 9:30 a.m. at the Sea Breeze Market, just west of the I-80 overpass. Everyone is welcome. 548-9840. 

Artify Ashby Muralist Group meets every Wed. from 5 to 8 p.m. at the South Berkeley Senior Center, to plan a new mural. New artists are welcome. Call Bonnie at 704-0803. 

Stitch ‘n Bitch Bring your knitting, crocheting and other handcrafts from 6 to 9 p.m. at Caffe Trieste, 2500 San Pablo Ave. 548-5198. 

Berkeley Peace Walk and Vigil at 6:30 p.m. at the Berkeley BART Station.www.geocities.com/vigil4peace/vigil 


Protest Against Military Recruiters at 10:30 a.m. at the fountain on Sproul Plaza, UC Campus. Sponsored by UC Berkeley Berkeley Stop the War Coalition, member of the Campus Anti-war Network. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ucbstopthewar/ 

Downtown Parking Workshop at 7 p.m. at the North Berkeley Senior Center. Sponsored by the City of Berkeley Transportation Commission. 981-7010. 

LeConte Neighborhood Assn. Meeting at 7:30 p.m. at the Le Conte School. The agenda will include traffic concerns, LeConte School Relandscaping, cars parked on front lawns and swimming pool closures. 843-2602. KarlReeh@aol.com  

Sustainable Solutions Caravan A reportback on the vegetable oil alternative fuel caravan from California to Costa Rica, at 7 p.m. at the Ecology Center, 2530 San Pablo Ave. 548-2220, ext. 233. 

“Where Have All the Fishes Gone?” A lecture on disappearing marine life with John McCosker, acting director of the Steinhart Aquarium at 12:30 p.m. at the Oakland Museum of California, 10th and Oak Sts. Admission is $5-$8. 238-2200. www.museumca.org 

Earth Week Strawberry Creek Cleanup Volunteers are needed for the Creek Cleanup from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the natural amphitheater just east of Sather Gate, UC Campus. Trash bags and gloves provided. 642-6568. stevemar@berkeley.edu  

Golden Gate Audubon Society presents Director of Conservation Arthur Feinsteinn on the challenges and rare successes of wetland restoration, featuring slides of the MLK Regional Shoreline Park, at 7:30 p.m. at the Northbrae Community Church, 941 The Alameda. 843-2222. www.goldengateaudubon.org  

Health and Justice Fair with healthy food, music, art making, massage and information from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at St. Mary’s Center, 635 22nd St., Oakland. 

BUSD West Campus Site Planning Meeting on “Preferred Alternatives” at 7 p.m. in the cafeteria, 1222 University Ave. 644-6066. 

“Healthy Cities and Smart Growth” a conference sponsored by the Center for Civic Partnerships at the Doubletree, Berkeley Marina. Cost is $250. For information call 916-646-8680. www.civicpartnerships.org 

“21MST March to Brazilia” a doumentary on the Brazilian Landless Workers Movement at 7:30 p.m. at La Pena, 3105 Shattuck Ave. Donation $5-$10. 849-2568. 

“Cuba’s Political and Judicial System” with Isaac Saney, Prof. International Studies in Halifax, Nova Scotia, at 2 p.m. in Dwinelle Hall, Room 3335, UC Campus. 835-7110.  

“History of Police Violence in America” with Kristian Williams, Katya Komisaruk, Mesha Monge-Irizzary, and Andrea Prichett at 7 p.m. at AK Press Warehouse, 674-A 23rd. St., Oakland. 208-1700. 

Cutting Back Car Usage at the Simplicy Forum, at 6:30 p.m at the Berkeley Library, Claremont Branch, 2940 Benvenue. 549-3509. www.simpleliving.net 

Berkeley School Volunteers Training workshop for volunteers interested in helping in Berkeley Public schools at 4:30 p.m. at 1835 Allston Way. 644-8833. 

“Adaptations for Safety at Home” at 4 p.m. at Jewish Family & Children’s Services, 828 San Pablo Ave., Suite 104, Albany. To register call 558-7800. 


City Commons Club Noon Luncheon with Victor Perez-Mendez on “The Biggest Volcanic Explosion” Luncheon at 11:45 a.m. for $13, speech at 12:30 p.m., at the Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant St. 526-2925.  

Youth Alcohol Awareness Day from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Civic Center Park. Sponsored by the City of Berkeley. 981-5806. 

Rep. Cynthia McKinney “From Attica to Abu Ghraib” at 6 p.m. at St. Joseph the Worker Church, 1640 Addison St. Donation $5-$25. 593-3956. www.attica2abughraib.com 

Amy Goodman “See No Evil: Media in a Time of War” at 8 p.m. at Florence Schwinley Little Theater at Berkeley High. Tickets are $15 and benefit Berkeley Community Media and Berkeley High’s Communication Arts and Sciences Program. 848-2288, ext. 11. 

“Democracy and Global Islam” a conference from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the Lipman Room, Barrows Hall, UC Campus. for details see http://igov.berkeley.edu/conferences/Islamconfdescription.doc 

“The Future of Food” a documentary film on genetically modified foods, followed by a discussion with Mollie Katzen, Michael Pollen, Koons Garcia, and Ignacio Chapela, at 6:15 p.m. at St. John’s Presbyterian Church, 2727 College Ave. Tickets are $10-$20 sliding scale. 923-0505. 

Kulture Kulcha An evening of food, song and dance for the South Asian LGBT community at the California Ballroom, 1736 Franklin St. at 19th, Oakland. http://trikone.org 

Berkeley Chess Club meets Fridays at 7:15 p.m. at the East Bay Chess Club, 1940 Virginia St. Players at all levels are welcome. 845-1041. 

“Three Beats for Nothing” meets at 10 a.m. at the North Berkeley Senior Center to sing for fun and practice. 655-8863. 

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

Meditation, Peace Vigil and Dialogue, gather at noon on the grass close to the West Entrance to UC Berkeley, on Oxford St. near University Ave. 655-6169. www.bpf.org 


Earth Day in Berkeley from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at Civic Center Park. 548-2220, ext. 233. 

Earth Day Cleanup at Eastshore State Park Volunteers will assist with shoreline cleanup and invasive species removal from 10 a.m. to 12 noon. Meet behind the Sea Breeze Deli off of University Ave. and West Frontage Rd. Volunteers should bring gloves, sturdy shoes, sunscreen and a shovel or pick for plant removal. 544-2515. 

Earth Day Cleanup in Richmond Volunteers will participate in a bay trail cleanup off Rydin Ave.from 10 a.m. to noon. Participants should bring gloves, sunscreen and water. For more information, contact the California State Parks Foundation at 888-98-PARKS. 

What Happened to the Komodo Dragon? Since the renovation of the EEC at Tilden Park, many have inquired about our former, famous resident. Come learn about the lives of these giant monitor lizards at 11 a.m. at Tilden Nature Center. 525-2233. 

Wildflower Trading Cards Color and cut your own set of wildflower trading cards to take home. We will also look for blooms on a short walk. For ages 7 and up at 2 p.m. at Tilden Nature Center, Tilden Park. Cost is $3-$5. Registration required. 525-2233. 

Propagation of Native Plants Through the Seasons from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Visitor Center, Botanical Garden, Tilden Park. Cost is $30-$35. Reservations required. 845-4116. www.nativeplants.org 

Botanizing California A series of local and overnight field trips to highlight California’s plant communities. Cost is $80-$95. Registration required. 845-4116. www.nativeplants.org 

Designs for a Small Garden Using a Variety of Hardscape at 10 a.m. at Magic Gardens Nursery, 729 Heinz Ave. 644-2351. www.magicgardens.com 

Waterwise Workshop: Gardening Where You Are A presentation on biodiversity, healthy soil and plant selection from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at UC Botanical Garden, 200 Centennial Drive. Registration required. 643-2755. http://botanicalgarden.berkeley.edu 

John Muir Society celebrates the 167th anniversary of the birth of “the man who celebrated the earth” from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the John Muir Historic Site, 4204 Alhambra, off Highway 4, Martinez. www.johnmuir.org 

“From Attica to Abu Ghraib” A conference on Human Rights, Torture and Resistance from 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. at Dwinelle Hall, UC Campus. 593-3956. www.attica2abughraib.com 

Albany YMCA Spring Garage Sale from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 921 Kains Ave. Featuring everything from books, clothing and children’s toys to household and office items and lots of wonderful treasures. 525-1130.  

Crowden Music Center’s Community Music Day with performances by ensembles and students, from noon to 5 p.m. at Crowden Center, 1475 Rose St., at Sacramento. www.crowdenmusiccenter.org 

“Healing the Spiritual Way” with Franz Gringinger, M.D. at 7 p.m. at Vara Healing Arts Center, 850 Talbot Ave., Albany. Free. 415-279-5293. 

Free Garden Tours at Regional Parks Botanic Garden Sat. and Sun. at 2 pm. Regional Parks Botanic Garden, Tilden Park. Call to confirm. 841-8732. www.nativeplants.org 

Nepalese Cultural Night Benefit for a school in Nepal with music and dance performances, followed by dinner. At 5:30 p.m. at Yogakula, 1700 Shattuck Ave. 2nd floor. Tickets are $25. www.yogakula.com 

“International Tour Directing” from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at Vista Community College. 2020 Milvia St. Cost is $13. RSVP to 981-2931. 

Moments Notice A monthly salon devoted to improvised music, dance & theater at 8 p.m. at Western Sky Studio 2525 8th St., at Dwight. Tickets are $8-$10. 415-831-5592. katarinaeriksson@aol.com 

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


People's Park 36th Anniversary Celebration from noon to 6 p.m. Free and open to all.  

What Has Happened to Ferns and Flowers? A great re-alignment of ferns and flowering plants has been made by botanists. Learn what is new, and walk in the garden to see examples, from 10 a.m. to noon at Tilden Nature Center, Tilden Park. 525-2233. 

A Lot of Galls! Insects and other organisms cause swellings on plant parts that serve as homes for offspring. We’ll look for these growths and learn thier history, from 2 to 4 p.m. at Tilden Nature Center, Tilden Park. 525-2233. 

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

“The Ghosts of Rwanda” A screening of the Frontline special on the genocide in Rwanda, followed by conversations with Africa activists at 3 p.m. at the Parkway Theater, 1834 Park Blvd., Oakland. Cost is $7. Sponsored by Priority Africa Network. 527-3917. 

Visual Arts-Language Arts Anniversary Gala from 1 to 5 p.m. at Café de la Paz, 1600 Shattuck Ave at Cedar. A benefit for the arts and literature programs in public schools. Tickets are $25. 845-9610. www.valaproject.org 

“Whither a Buddhist Golden Age?” the History of the Burmese in Northern Thailand, a colloquim at 12:15 p.m. at IEAS Conference Room, 2233 Fulton St., 6th flr. 643-6492. http://buddhiststudies.berkeley.edu 

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

Lake Merritt Neighbors Organized for Peace Peace walk around the lake every Sun. Meet at 3 p.m. at the colonnade at the NE end of the lake. 763-8712. lmno4p.org 

House Rabbit Society Benefit with Pizza and Poetry and announcing the winners of the “Dare to Care for a Hare” Poetry Contest, at 1 p.m. at House Rabbit Society National Headquarters, 148 Broadway, Richmond. Donation $10. 970-7575. www.rabbit.org 

“From Ike to Mao and Beyond: My Journey from Mainstream America to Revolutionary Communist” a memoir by Bob Avakian, book launching party at 1 p.m. at Longfellow Auditorium, 1500 Derby St. 467-3426.  

Tibetan Buddhism with Jack van der Meulen on “Healing through Tibetan Yoga” at 6 p.m. at the Tibetan Nyingma Institute, 1815 Highland Pl. 843-6812. www.nyingmainstitute.com 


City Council meets Tues., April 19, at 7 p.m in City Council Chambers. 981-6900. www.ci. 


Berkeley Housing Authority meets Tues., April 19 at 6:30 p.m. in City Council Chambers. 981-6900. ww.ci.berkeley.ca. 


Citizens Humane Commission meets Wed., April 20, at 7 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center. Katherine O’Connor, 981-6601. www.ci.berkeley.ca. us/commissions/humane 

Commission on Aging meets Wed. April 20, at 1:30 p.m., at the South Berkeley Senior Center. William Rogers, 981-5344. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/commissions/aging 

Commission on Labor meets Wed., April 20, at 6:45 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center. Delfina M. Geiken, 981-7550. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/commissions/labor 

Human Welfare and Community Action Commission meets Wed., April 20, at 7 p.m., at the South Berkeley Senior Center. Kristen Lee, 981-5427. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/commissions/welfare 

Design Review Committee meets Thurs., April 21, at 7:30 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center. Anne Burns, 981-7415. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/commissions/designreview  

Transportation Commission meets Thurs., April 21, at 7 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center. Peter Hillier, 981-7000. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/commissions/transportationª

UC Strikers Demand Good-Faith Bargaining By JAKOB SCHILLER

Friday April 15, 2005

University of California service workers from the system’s nine campuses, five medical facilities and the Lawrence Berkeley Labs held a one-day strike Thursday to protest what they said is UC’s disrespect for their jobs and its refusal to bargain in good faith for a new contract. 

At UC Berkeley, low-wage service workers including custodians, food-service workers, bus drivers and maintenance workers were joined on several picket lines by other UC unions and hundreds of students who skipped classes to show their support. Pickets started at 6 a.m. and were scheduled to continue until 11:30 p.m.  

Cal’s new Chancellor Robert Birgeneau surprised strikers by speaking twice at the picket line. Around 4 p.m., strikers marched to International House on the east side of campus where Birgeneau was holding a reception for faculty and staff to kick-off his three-day inauguration celebration which lasts through Saturday. They demanded that he come out and address the crowd. Two union workers told the Daily Planet that they went into the reception and convinced him to come out. Outside, Birgeneau took one of the bull horns and expressed his support for increased pay. 

“I support a living wage throughout the UC system,” he said. He also said he has called the UC Office of the President and expressed his concern about the issues raised by strikers. 

According to Noel Gallagher, a spokesperson for UC Berkeley, Chancellor Birgeneau had visited workers around 9 a.m. where he also conveyed his support for a salary increase.  

Workers said the visits were encouraging but are waiting to see if the university makes any moves at the bargaining table. 

“They need to treat us with the respect we deserve,” said Maricruz Manzanares, a custodian who cleans three floors in one of the UC Berkeley dormitories. Manzanares, who lives in Richmond with her husband and three kids, has worked at UC Berkeley for six years and makes $12 an hour. Manzanares, along with her co-workers, has not received a raise since October 2002. 

She said her wages are not enough to support her family, which is dependent on a second income from her husband. As prices of gas and other necessities continue to rise, she said she might be forced to find a second job.  

“I hope [the university] listens,” she said, as she stood amongst the crowd who participated in a noontime rally in front of Sproul Hall. 

In addition to the low pay, workers said they want more opportunities to advance in their job categories and for the university to provide job training programs that could help them advance their careers. They also want an end to what they say is a discriminatory hiring process. Along with the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees union, the workers have been bargaining with UC over these issues since a previous contract expired in June of last year.  

The two sides have met 27 times since the contract expired, according to the union. After both sides were unable to reach an agreement they declared impasse and began meeting with a state mandated mediator. After meetings with the mediator did not produce a settlement, the process went into a fact-finding period which just ended. According to Faith Raider, the spokesperson for the union, the end of the fact-finding process officially allowed the union to strike. 

“The workers have been angry about the way they have been treated for a very long time,” said Raider. “The university made it very clear that they were not willing to move on a couple of key issues, so workers thought this was the right thing to do.”  

The university disagrees with the technicalities about whether the negotiations process had ended, and therefore whether it was sanctioned for the union to strike. In a press release written by the UC Office of the President, the university called the strike “unlawful and unprotected,” and a clear demonstration of “bad faith bargaining.” 

Noel Van Nyhuis, a spokesperson for the Office of the President, said the university has negotiated in good faith and “will continue to do so.” 

At the strike, the union said it will escalate its tactics if there is no resolution when the two sides return to the bargaining table. According to Debra Grabelle, the initial strike was only one day because it sent a clear message but did not keep workers, who depend on every day’s pay, from missing multiple days of work. 

Members of the Coalition of University Employees, which represents clerical workers at UC, the Union of Professional and Technical Employees, and student workers represented by the United Auto Workers all honored the picket line. Several classes were either canceled or moved off campus so students would not have to cross the picket. 

Workers said they were especially excited about the student turnout. They said the student’s support was encouraging because it showed them that the students acknowledge and care about the work they do. 

“The student support was tremendous,” said Joe Pulido, a senior building maintenance worker. “We love the students.”ô

No Layoffs At Library By MATTHEW ARTZ

Friday April 15, 2005

Unanticipated revenues have halted plans to lay off workers at the Berkeley Public Library, the library’s Executive Director Jackie Griffin said. 

Griffin said she is retooling her budget proposal after learning that Bay Area Personal Income Growth, an indicator that can be used to inflate the city’s library tax, rose 4.8 percent this year, more than double the 2 percent the library had budgeted.  

Griffin said the library has recouped enough of its budget deficit—last calculated at $850,000—to avoid letting workers go, when the new tax is added to money the library expects to save from instituting mandatory time off. 

“There won’t be layoffs,” Griffin said. 

The Library Board of Trustees rescheduled its April 13 meeting to April 27 in anticipation of receiving new budget numbers from library staff. 

Earlier this year, Griffin said nine library employees would lose their jobs under a proposed a reorganization plan to help the library balance its budget. The library reduced that layoff number to five employees last month after several employees resigned. Under Griffin’s plan, library aides, who typically do most of the library’s menial work such as shelving books, would be trained to do higher-level work as well. 

The reorganization plan has sparked fierce union opposition, which argued that the plan would leave workers with overwhelming workloads and that Griffin had ignored their suggestions to save money, including implementing mandatory time off. 

Last week, the Service Employees International Union, Local 535, which represents the library workers, filed an unfair labor charge against the library for the transfer of four library aides from general services in the central branch to the children’s department. 

“It’s a really bizarre move because a lot of our time we’re there we’re idle, while things are piling up elsewhere,” said Ayaan Gates-Williams, one of the transferred aides. She added that the four aides transferred were “four of the people most outspoken about the reorganization.” 

Union head Ynes Partridge-Lewis said that the library was still seeking to train the transferred aides to do the work of higher-level library assistants, which in effect would begin the director’s reorganization plan while the union and city officials were still debating the matter. 

Gates-Williams said she and other aides were not opposed to learning the additional tasks, but she said the reorganization plan won’t work. 

Griffin said that the aides were not being asked to do anything outside of their job classifications. 

“We essentially moved four library aides from the first floor [of the central library] to the fourth floor,” she said. “Their job duties remain the same and their classifications remain the same.” 

Griffin said in recent months, due to staffing shortages, she has transferred six other aides from the central library to the branches. 

“Moving four aides from one floor to another doesn’t seem like an unfair labor practice to me,” she said. “I’m baffled.”›

Council Can’t Help Evicted Artists By MATTHEW ARTZ

Friday April 15, 2005

Lacking the authority to keep more than two dozen tenants in their West Berkeley live/work complex that city officials have declared a fire hazard, the City Council Tuesday urged the residents of the Drayage Warehouse to comply with an April 15 evacuation order. 

“You’ve got to realize it’s time to move,” Mayor Tom Bates told them. Many are artisans who have lived in the building for more than a decade. “You really need to move.” 

If the tenants aren’t out by April 15, building owner Lawrence White faces a $2,500-a-day fine from the city. Although City Manager Phil Kamlarz pledged not to send in police to remove tenants, he said the residents too may be fined if they don’t leave on their own accord. 

In other matters, the council lowered condominium conversion fees and delayed votes on allowing UC Berkeley to build a pedestrian bridge over Hearst Avenue and charging the university more than $2 million for use of the city’s sewer system. 

Drayage tenants told city officials not to expect a mass exodus this week. 

“A lot of people will not be gone on the 15th, it’s just not enough time,” said Claudia Viera, a tenant. 

Last weekend, the tenants and White signed an unofficial agreement whereby they could remain until June 1 and White would begin exclusive negotiations with the Northern California Land Trust to purchase the property, bring it up to code and give tenants the right to return. 

Several councilmembers lauded the proposal, but under state law, city Fire Marshal David Orth has ultimate authority to enforce code violations and he refused to recognize the pact. 

“That’s not what we’re asking for,” Orth said. “This is a very serious life threatening problem. I don’t want there to be false hope that June 1 is OK.”  

A fire inspection last month found more than 250 code violations at the illegal residential warehouse located at Third and Addison streets. 

Its hands tied, the council voted unanimously to recommend that the city forgive landlord fines if tenants are out by April 19 and to keep the item on its agenda for its next meeting in case there are new developments. City officials also said they would expedite the permit process for building upgrades if the land trust bought the property. 

“I wish we could give them more time,” said Councilmember Darryl Moore, whose district includes the Drayage. “The fact that the tenants and owner had worked on the June 1 date, that seemed very reasonable to me.” 

Outside the council chamber Orth told tenants that two other possibly illegal live/work spaces in West Berkeley had recently come to the fire department’s attention. 

“We are going to address this issue over and over again,” he said, complimenting the tenants’ effort to bring the building up to code and maintain it as an artisan community. “You may suffer losses in this battle, but this is a war that you might ultimately win.” 

The impromptu discussion turned heated when the subject turned to property owner White. 

“He hasn’t acted in good faith as far as we’re concerned,” said city building official Joan McQuarrie. She faulted White for not evicting tenants and sending them off with an adequate relocation package instead of paying over $1,000 a day for fire safety officers, mandated by the city. 

White’s Attorney Don Jelinek responded that the landlord didn’t evict the tenants for the same reason the city won’t. “They don’t want a Waco-type action,” he said. 

Jelinek faulted city officials for not considering the human element of the situation, to which Orth shot back: “I’m not about to risk lives for your altruistic views. I have a responsibility and I’m going to protect people.” 

“We’re trying to be reasonable,” McQuarrie said. “I hear you pushing us into a corner. When I hear you say ‘a Waco-type action’ that is inflammatory.” She added of White: “He doesn’t put his best foot forward by hiding behind his attorney. He needs to present his case.” 

Although White has aligned himself with tenants, Maresa Danielsen, a tenant, said part of her motivation in wanting to stay past April 15 was to make sure the building wasn’t vacant, which would give White more negotiating leverage with potential buyers. 

“The value of the building will shoot up a bunch with no tenants,” she said. “Our bargaining power goes down if we leave. Once you’re out it’s hard to get back in.” 


Condo Conversion 

The council voted Tuesday to remove its restrictions on tenancies in common and reduce fees to convert rental units to condominiums. If the council approves a second reading of the measure next week, conversion fees will be capped at 10 percent of the sale price of a unit until October. With the average condo now fetching $500,000, the fee will average about $50,000 a unit. The council will reconsider the issue in the fall to craft a long-term policy. 

Reducing condo fees marks a change in long-standing city policy to preserve rental units. The previous conversion formula was devised to remove all financial incentive to turn rental space into condos. 

The change stems from a state appeals court ruling last year striking down a San Francisco law restricting tenancies in common. City Attorney Manuela Alburquerque has written that the ruling applies to Berkeley as well. In 1992 Berkeley imposed severe restrictions on tenancies in common, which it viewed as an undesirable form of home ownership.  

Tenancies in common have been considered risky investments because shareholders do not hold title to specific units as they do for condominiums. City councilmembers said they hope that by making condominiums more attractive, property owners will be dissuaded from forming tenancies in common which give them greater latitude to evict tenants. 


Sewer Fees 

At the request of Mayor Bates, the council agreed to postpone until April 26 a vote on billing UC Berkeley $2.18 million for use of the city’s sewer system. City Manager Kamlarz said the city was continuing to negotiate with the university over sewer fees. Currently, UC Berkeley pays $470,000 annually under a 15-year agreement set to expire at the end of June. 

Before the council voted to delay the issue, UC attorney Jason Houghton, of Thelen Rein & Priest, reiterated the UC Regents’ position that the sewer fee would be illegal and that the university would not pay. In response Berkeley resident Steve Wollmer said that the council should charge the university nevertheless. 

“They may have lawyers who can cite chapter and verse, but we have justice on our side,” he said. 


Foothill Bridge 

The council also delayed a vote on Foothill Bridge for two weeks. The pedestrian walkway proposed to join two UC Berkeley dormitories over Hearst Avenue has sparked controversy. The university says the bridge is needed to make the Foothill Dormitory more accessible to wheelchair users and safer for student pedestrians. Some Berkeley residents argue that the bridge won’t be enough to make the dorms attractive to disabled students and that the $200,000 offered by the university is not enough for the city to surrender its air rights above Hearst. 

“If UC wants accessible housing they need to build it in accessible areas,” said Wendy Alfsen, noting that the university built Foothill near the top of a steep hill rather than in a more level part of the city. 

In response, Tim Perry, a former Planning Commissioner, said, “Basically we’re telling disabled people who go to the university to get on the back of the bus. The university seems to be the only party in the room that recognizes the rights of disabled people.” 

Tom Lolini, UC Berkeley’s assistant vice chancellor of capital projects, said he knew of one disabled person living in the section of Foothill that currently is accessible to wheelchair users.ô

Peralta Chancellor Reopens Dones Negotiations, Temporarily Pulls Back on Art Annex Contract By J. DOUGLAS ALLEN-TAYLOR

Friday April 15, 2005

Peralta Community College Chancellor Elihu Harris is close to an agreement in principle with Oakland developer Alan Dones on a controversial Peralta-Laney College land development proposal, but plans to present the agreement to Peralta Trustees in coming weeks without his recommendation. 

In other Peralta land-use news, an $8 million no-bid contract for the new Laney Art Annex was pulled off the Peralta Trustee agenda for Tuesday night at the last minute. 

On the Peralta-Laney development issue, Harris would only say that he is “moving forward” with discussions with Dones over the developer proposal. “If an agreement in principle is reached,” the chancellor said, he will present it to trustees at their regularly scheduled April 26 meeting. 

But Peralta Federation of Teachers (PFT) President Michael Mills said that Harris told participants in a chancellor’s meeting last week that he had negotiated the contract with Dones. Mills added that according to Harris, the chancellor informed the developer that the agreement was being done “with a lack of enthusiasm.” 

Mills said, “I asked Elihu [at last week’s meeting] if he was going to include the notation at the end of the agenda item that the Chancellor recommends approval, and he said no.” 

Laney College Faculty Senate President Evelyn Lord—who attended the chancellor’s meeting—confirmed Mills’ account of Harris’ presentation. 

In its final meeting last November, over the objections of incoming trustees, the outgoing Peralta Board of Trustees authorized Harris to negotiate a one-year contract with Dones and Dones’ Strategic Urban Development Alliance (SUDA) to produce a development plan for certain Laney College properties and the adjacent Peralta administrative offices. 

Complaints were later publicly voiced by Laney College representatives, including Acting College President Odell Johnson, that Dones had not consulted with them about the Laney land proposals before presenting the proposal to Peralta trustees. A month later, after the newly elected trustee board was sworn in and reports appeared in several local newspapers questioning the proposed plan, Harris announced that he put the SUDA contract negotiations on temporary hold because of the controversy. Harris said at the time he thought such negotiations were “premature.” 

Laney Faculty Senate President Lord said she expected the revived Dones proposal would be opposed by Laney College faculty representatives when it comes before trustees. 

“Oh, yeah,” she said. “There will definitely be people opposed.” 

Lord said she expects the Laney Faculty Senate to pass a resolution in opposition. 

While the Peralta-Dones land development plan proposal is back on track after several months on the back burner, another controversial proposal was put on hold at Tuesday night’s trustee meeting. 

With no explanation, Trustee Board President William Riley announced that he was removing from the agenda trustee consideration of Laney College’s new art building modular construction contract from the agenda. 

Harris had intended to ask trustees to ratify an $8.1 million, no-bid contract with non-union Meehleis Modular Builders of Lodi using an interpretation of the so-called “piggyback” provision of the California Public Contract Code. Under the provision, which is currently being reviewed by the state attorney general, school and community college districts can escape the normal bidding process by placing their purchases through another district. 

The new building is being constructed with CalTrans money to replace the existing Art Annex Building that sits on land CalTrans needs for I-880 freeway repairs. Construction of the 26,000-square-foot building is currently scheduled to begin in mid May. 

Riley said following the meeting that “it just made sense to go back and review the contract after all the questions were raised.” 

Harris said, “We want to make sure we’ve dotted all the i’s and crossed all the t’s.” 

Harris noted that the delay will cause some problems with the timing of the building construction. “We really needed to get this done tonight,” he said. 

PFT President Mills had been scheduled to speak at Tuesday night’s trustee meeting in opposition to the Meehleis art annex contract, but withdrew his remarks after the item was withdrawn from the agenda. In a later telephone interview, Mills said he was opposed to the contract on four grounds. 

“The first point is appearance,” he said. “That is absolutely critical. This looks bad. If we need to go before the public on a bond measure in the future, we don’t want local newspapers reprinting articles about these kinds of deals. The second point is that Oakland is a union town, and unions are in favor of a livable wage for workers. Meehleis is a non-union company that pays sub-standard wages. It’s unthinkable that this would not be taken into consideration by the Peralta administration. The third point of opposition is that the PFT believes all such contracts should get signed off by Peralta Chief Financial Officer Tom Smith before it comes to the trustees. We don’t believe that happened in this case, even though it’s his office that is responsible for tracking the money. And finally, I am opposed to the Meehleis contract because it’s a no-bid contract, and the law being used to approve it is questionable, at best.” 

Mills noted that on the same trustee agenda, the district awarded a $92,000 contract for janitorial supplies on bid. The contract was awarded to Janitorial Supplies Corporate Express, Inc. of Union City. 

“If piggybacking contracts was sound policy, this janitorial supply contract would be the appropriate place to put it,” Mills said. 

Mills also said that the art annex contract background mentioned that Peralta administrators contacted three companies before awarding the contract to Meehleis. “If they had time to discuss it with three companies, they had time to send it out to those companies for bid,” he said.ô

BUSD Launches Long-Range School Planning Initiative By J. DOUGLAS ALLEN-TAYLOR

Friday April 15, 2005

In the midst of continuing uncertainty about how much education money will be coming out of Sacramento—and what strings will be attached—the Berkeley Unified School District has launched a long-range initiative to identify the “essential components of quality schools” and reliable ways to fund them in Berkeley. 

Begun last January by BUSD Superintendent Michele Lawrence, the Designing and Funding Quality Schools (DFQS) project has set up two working groups to advance its goals and has sponsored three public forums using education experts drawn primarily from UC Berkeley. 

Meeting twice a month to hear from experts and review research, an Education Working Group, headed by BUSD Director of Curriculum and Instruction Neil Smith, and a Resources Working Group, headed by Berkeley High School Principal Jim Slemp, were originally expected to present preliminary reports to Lawrence in June. That timetable may be delayed, however, because the groups are relying on BUSD central staff to provide them with information on the district’s education programs and financing, and district staff has recently turned much of its attention to the district’s ongoing teacher contract dispute. 

The Berkeley effort is being packaged under the title “quality schools initiative,” a catch-all term that has been used throughout the country in recent years to describe widely different projects. 

Jay Nitschke, who was hired by the district out of the private sector to coordinate the DFQS planning process, said that Berkeley’s initiative is something Lawrence originally intended to do earlier but delayed because of Berkeley Unified’s pressing budget problems. 

“Traditionally, new superintendents begin planning in their first year,” Nitschke said. “But in her first three years, Lawrence was involved with balancing the budget and making sure the district’s business services were straightened out.” 

Nitschke said that when Lawrence finally launched the planning initiative, “she believed that the budget problems had settled, and she thought it was the opportunity to figure out what the district’s education programs should be, and how they should be funded. Of course, she didn’t know at the time that Governor Schwarzenegger would take actions that would disrupt the budget again. But we’re moving forward.” 

Nitschke said a new look at Berkeley’s education plan was needed “because the last plan was done 10 years ago. The district has been looking at things like how the music program will be implemented in each school, or developing next year’s budget. But there hasn’t been an overarching look at education and funding and the district as a whole in some time. Most public agencies don’t get to look long term. But this process is going to be looking at where we want to be in the next 10 years.” 

Nitschke said the goal is both to equalize educational opportunities for students and to raise the level of education district-wide. 

“[Berkeley High Principal] Jim Slemp describes education in this district as a listing boat,” he said, “with some of the students sitting up in the high end and getting a very high level of education, and some of the students sitting in the low end, and getting an education that’s not so good. Our goal is to do two things: level the boat so that all of the students are getting an equal chance, but raise the level of the water as well, so everybody’s level of education is lifted to a level that’s higher than at present.” 

Trina Ostrander, BPEF executive director and a supporter of the initiative, calls it “a timely issue.” 

“A structured, planning process for public education in Berkeley” is needed, she added. “Right now we don’t have enough facts. We just have a lot of factions” advocating their own individual education priorities. 

Ostrander said the quality schools initiative was launched partly because of the present BUSD budget uncertainties caused by Sacramento and Washington, and partly because of planning imbalances that go all the way back to the passage of Proposition 13 in 1978. 

“Because there has been so little money for education since that time, the educational planning process has been driven by politics rather than by what programs are needed to run a fundamentally sound school district,” she said. 

Ostrander said that the new initiative is “born of the same motivation out of which BSEP (the Berkeley Schools Excellence Project) and Measure B were passed. We want quality schools for every kid in Berkeley. We are willing to pay for this excellence locally. The difference is that the quality schools initiative is a more methodical approach.” 

Ostrander said the results of the initiative will be useful when BSEP funding comes up for voter renewal in 2006. 

“It will give us a blueprint of our educational plans to present to voters,” she said. 

Nitschke said the Berkeley public won’t have to wait a year to hear the results of the study. Extensive information resulting from the initiative’s meetings and public forums have already been posted on the district’s website under a Quality School Plan link on the main page directory. In addition, Nitschke said that the two parallel groups—education needs and finance—“intend to produce documents along the way, as they see fit.” 

Planning Panel Sets Landmarks Law Hearing, Approves Creeks Proposal By RICHARD BRENNEMAN

Friday April 15, 2005

Planning commissioners Wednesday voted unanimously to approve the proposed workplan and timeline of the Creeks Task Force and to schedule an April 27 hearing on the city’s Landmarks Preservation Ordinance (LPO). 

Thursday’s meeting was also the first for former Commissioner Gene Poschman since he was brought back to the panel by City Councilmember Donna Spring to fill the seat vacated by Nancy Holland. 

Though neither vote was accompanied by a public hearing, the commission heard plenty from the audience on both issues in the public comment period early in the meeting. 

While little controversy attached to the Creeks Task Force, there was plenty when it came to the landmarks legislation, which would alter both the existing ordinance and the accompanying sections of city zoning law. 

The hottest issue concerns just which city panel will assume basic authority over proposed demolitions of and alterations to already recognized city landmarks and “structures of merit,” the latter being buildings which have been significantly altered but still contain elements of the original. 

First to speak was Daniela Thompson, who read a letter from the Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association (BAHA). “It is BAHA’s expert opinion that the proposed LPO amendments have evolved to be sufficiently at variance with the stated preservation objectives of the LPO and its long-standing practices as to mandate a full environmental review” under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), she said. 

A concern raised by Thompson and others was a Planning Commission subcommittee’s recommendation to strip the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) of its authority over demolition of recognized city landmarks. 

“Where did this come from?” asked retired planner John English. “The City Council did not ask for this, and I urge its rejection.” 

Preservation architect and former LPC member Burton Edwards, who worked on the LPC’s recommendations for changes in the ordinance, came down on both sides of the political divide, agreeing with English that the LPC should have purview over demolitions—“Who better to pass judgment?”—but urging stricter standards for proposed landmarks. 

Edwards said he favored abolishing the structure of merit designation, and recommended the city adopt the strict standards of integrity mandated for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places. The LPC uses more relaxed standards, which it proposes to maintain. 

Poschman also sided with the LPC’s proposal to retain authority over environmental reviews in landmark cases, while some on the planning commissioners said they hoped to turn that power over to the Zoning Adjustments Board, along with authority over demolitions. 

Livable Berkeley’s Alan Tobey presented a letter from his organization endorsing elimination of the structure of merit category and lauding the planning subcommittee’s efforts as a “much improved result” of the LPC’s “failures.” 

LPC Commissioner Patricia Dacey, who was appointed after the panel finished its LPO revisions, told the planners, “There wasn’t any upswelling of the Berkeley citizenry to gut the Landmarks Preservation Ordinance or the commission.” 

She also challenged Deputy City Attorney Zach Cowan’s contention that the existing ordinance violates the Permit Streamlining Act, which imposes strict deadlines on applications for building permits. Dacey said other cities allow suspension of the PAS during demolition proceedings, a point endorsed by fellow commission Leslie Emmington. 

Dacey also faulted a proposed revision that would limit initiations of proposed landmarks to 10 days after a permit is filed for a building or demolition, charging that it was class-based. 

“If you’re living in a Maybeck in the hills, it’s not that much of a task. But if you’re living in the flatlands and working, it can be quite a task,” Dacey said. 

John McBride, a preservation activist who attended most of the LPC’s session on the ordinance, defended the decision to suspend. He said dividing responsibilities between the LPC and ZAB would “create a messier situation, bouncing back and forth between landmarks and ZAB. It will be less fair and less understandable” because “ZAB doesn’t deal with historical and architectural merit.” 


West Campus Report 

Planning Commissioner David Stoloff gave a report on the Berkeley Unified School District’s public planning meeting on the West Campus site. 

While BUSD consultant David Early told the session that oversight of the project could wind up in the hands of either the Office of the State Architect—which has jurisdiction over instructional sites—or the city, Stoloff said, “The city will be the permitting agency.” 

While the site includes instructional facilities, it will also house district offices and non-instructional functions, as well as possible commercial and residential developments. 

“It seemed clear that both the community and the school district are open to following the University Avenue Strategic Plan process,” Stoloff said.

UC, Developer Extend Downtown Hotel Talks By RICHARD BRENNEMAN

Friday April 15, 2005

UC Berkeley’s plans for a hotel, conference center and museums complex aren’t dead, merely delayed, said Kevin Hufferd, the university’s project manager. 

On Sept. 1, 2003 the school entered into exclusive negotiations with Carpenter & Co., a leading hotelier, to build a high-rise hotel and a conference center at the northeast corner of Shattuck Avenue and Center Street. 

When the exclusive agreement ended, the two sides agreed to another six-month extension, which ended last month. A second six-month extension allows the parties to continue their talks for a second full year. 

The university eventually intends to build a museum complex and parking structures as well in the two-block parcel it owns between Center Street and University Avenue and Shattuck Avenue and Oxford Street. 

“We’re moving along and progressing nicely,” Hufferd said. “We’re continuing to look at a basic array of feasibility issues.” 

He said, “The process involves doing urban design work on a two-block area and working on issues of bulk and scale. We’re also examining the recommendations of the UC Hotel Task Force, including the possibility of daylighting Strawberry Creek.” 

The task force was created by the city Planning Commission after news of the university’s plans broke. Composed of commission members and community representatives, the panel formulated proposals to help mitigate the impact of a 12-to-14-story hotel and other uses in the heart of the city center. 

“I’m pleased. We’re moving forward,” Hufferd said. “People have been patient and curious, and hopefully they will bear with us as we formulate our plans for the site.” 

Property Auction Augments City’s General Fund By MATTHEW ARTZ

Friday April 15, 2005

Berkeley is $773,000 richer after auctioning off two residential housing lots on McKinley Avenue behind the public safety building Tuesday. 

The winning bid for a 3,900-square-foot lot at 2140 McKinley Ave. was $266,000. A 6,500-square-foot lot at 2114 McKinley Ave. sold for $507,000, City Manager Phil Kamlarz said. The buildings were estimated to sell for a combined $400,000, which means the city will have more money in its general fund than anticipated 

The city had budgeted $400,000 from the auction to pay for capital costs, such as fixing streets, so the City Council will now get to decided how to spend the additional $373,000. Last week, the Housing Advisory Commission requested that an undetermined portion of the sale price go to replenish the city’s housing trust fund. Councilmember Kriss Worthington said he expected a battle over how to spend the extra proceeds. 

Both properties were previously an employee parking lot before the construction of the new Public Safety Building. The properties are zoned as R-2 which allows for two-family residences.›

Hancock Waste Site Bill Set for Assembly Hearing By RICHARD BRENNEMAN

Friday April 15, 2005

At least two East Bay residents will testify later this month on two bills that would transform regulation of toxic waste sites. 

Inspired by ongoing events at Campus Bay, a hazardous waste site in Richmond proposed as the grounds for a 1,330-unit housing development, the measures were written by Assemblymember Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley-Richmond. 

The measures, designated Assembly Bills 1360 and 1546, go before the Assembly’s Committee of Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials on April 23. 

Sherry Padgett, an outspoken critic of events at Campus Bay and the adjacent UC Berkeley Richmond Field Station, said she has been invited to testify, along with Contra Costa County Public Health Director Wendel Brunner. 

Brunner has expressed concerns about the way demolitions were handled on the site under the aegis of the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board and plans to build housing atop 350,000 cubic yards of buried industrial waste at Campus Bay. 

A hearing on the site conducted by Hancock and Assembly Rules Committee Chair Cindy Montanez last year ended with the water board surrendering jurisdiction over most of the site to the state Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC). The handover came after the water board’s top official acknowledged his agency didn’t have a toxicologist on its staff. DTSC is a statewide agency well-staffed with toxicologists and other experts.  

“I am trying to end the practice of agency-shopping,” Hancock said. 

Under existing law, a developer can chose between the DTSC and the local water quality control board. Hancock said AB 1360 would divide responsibilities “at the water’s edge, with the water board responsible for the water and the DTSC responsible for dry land with some collaboration at the interface, especially on complex sites.” 

The legislation would create a special category called the “public health priority site” in cases where potential releases of toxins could pose a threat to present and future workers and residents on or near the site. 

Hancock said her special concern was cases where an industrial site or a site to be remediated to industrial and commercial levels was changed to housing. At Campus Bay, developer Cherokee Simeon Ventures originally intended to build a private industry research park on the heavily contaminated former site of a chemical factory, then switched plans to housing after the market collapse following Sept. 11, 2001. 

The developer has since been selected by UC Berkeley to develop an academic/corporate research facility immediately to the north at the Richmond Field Station.  

Her second measure, AB 1546, calls for a change in the structure of management of toxic cleanups by the state Environmental Protection Agency. 

The bill calls for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to convene a Cleanup Agency Consolidation Task Force, composed of one member each from the DTSC, the water boards and the state Department of Health Services, Radiological Health Branch. 

The new agency would be assigned authorities and duties now resting with the existing agencies, and operate under clear, unified standards in managing hazardous waste sites earmarked for development, called brownfields. 

“I am looking for consensus from the entire environmental community,” Hancock said.›

Slasher Companion Resigns By MATTHEW ARTZ

Friday April 15, 2005

The accused accomplice of the 16-year-old girl who has been charged with slashing a Berkeley woman outside the Rose Garden has resigned from her job at Juvenile Hall, Alameda County Counsel Richard Winnie said. 

Hamaseh Kianfar, 30, who met the slasher while working in the guidance office of Juvenile Hall and admitted to being with her during the attack, resigned Tuesday, Winnie said. Last week, Kianfar was arraigned and released on $15,000 bail. 

The accused slasher, a 16-year-old Oakland girl, meanwhile remains in county custody at Juvenile Hall on charges of attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon. A court-ordered psychiatric exam has not yet been completed. 

Tax Activists: Big Buisness Must Pay its Fair Share By LUCY KOMISAR

Pacific News Service
Friday April 15, 2005

As Americans fret over their personal income taxes, there is a movement afoot to reduce the tax burden on ordinary people by getting corporations and wealthy individuals to pay their fair share.  

Concern over Social Security has put the problem into relief. In 1984, Congress raised payroll taxes significantly on workers to expand the Social Security trust fund to assure funding for when the baby boom generation retires. Instead of those receipts being put in a lock-box, they were used to offset the federal deficit, replacing lost tax revenues. Now there’s a demand to re-engineer Social Security and cut back benefits or raise taxes on workers.  

That’s not needed. The government just has to collect taxes from big corporations doing business in the United States, and from the mega-rich who benefit from living in the United States. Both use fancy foot-work accounting to move assets to tax havens.  

The new movement in the United States and other countries seeks first to raise the awareness of the public and political leaders about the impact of offshore tax evasion. Last month, the Tax Justice Network (www.taxjustice.net) issued a report based on publicly available statistics from the Bank of International Settlements and Merrill Lynch, the investment company. The data showed the following:  

• Approximately $11.5 trillion of assets are held offshore by high net-worth individuals, or about a third of the total global GDP, the value of goods and services, which in 2003 was $36.2 trillion.  

• The annual income that these assets might be expected to earn amounts to $860 billion annually.  

• The tax not paid as a result of these funds being held offshore would exceed $255 billion a year.  

These figures, the first such an analysis, do not include the vast amounts stashed in tax havens by multinational corporations. Those multi-trillions include 31 percent of the net profits of U.S. multinationals. Last year, the Government Accountability Office reported that from 1996 through 2000, nearly two-thirds of the companies operating in the United States reported owing no taxes. Large corporations—with at least $250 million in assets or $50 million in gross receipts—own over 93 percent of all assets reported on U.S. corporate returns. In 2000, an estimated 82 percent of large U.S. corporations and 76 percent of large foreign corporations reported taxes of less than 5 percent of income.  

As recently as 1943, U.S. corporations provided nearly 40 percent of U.S. tax revenues. Now they pay about seven percent. They use offshore companies and accounts in places such as the Cayman Islands, Liechtenstein and Switzerland to “launder” profits, to pretend that money is earned in tax havens instead of where business is done—in the United States.  

It is a pernicious aspect of globalization. The Financial Action Task Force (FATF), set up by the G-7 in 1989, says that there has been a 1,500 percent increase in the money deposited offshore over the past 15 years. Offshore companies are being formed at the rate of about 150,000 annually. In the 1970s, there were just 25 tax havens; now there are about 70.  

The threat to social programs in the industrial world and the inability of developing countries to raise people out of poverty have moved analysts and activists with varied concerns to realize that they have something in common. None can have economic and social development as long as corporations and the very rich opt out of paying taxes.  

That prompted the founding two years ago at the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil, of a new global movement, the Tax Justice Network (TJN), headquartered in London, to bring together groups in civil society to combat offshore tax evasion.  

In Washington, D.C., on April 7, a week before tax day, TJN/US held a briefing on Capitol Hill with the sponsorship of Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Tex.), both of whom are working to end big-ticket tax evasion. It was co-sponsored also by civil society groups that work on economic and finance reform, environment, labor, women’s rights, social welfare and third world development issues.  

Jack Blum, an expert on international money laundering who ran the Senate investigations into BCCI and Iran Contra and is a senior advisor to TJN, warned, “We are very rapidly heading toward having every society agree that no corporation will pay taxes, and further, they will give them cash subsidies for doing business.” 

Simultaneously, Blum said, nations “will allow the executives and wealthiest shareholders of these corporations to use the offshore world to avoid taxation of their own wealth.”  

That the richest and most powerful in the world are not supporting the needs of government and leaving that obligation to the middle classes, working people and the poor, Blum said, “is an unacceptable amendment to the social contract.” 


Lucy Komisar is a journalist who is writing a book about the off-shore bank and corporate secrecy system. ô

Letters to the Editor

Friday April 15, 2005


Editors, Daily Planet: 

I attended the recent City Council meeting on April 12. What’s happening to this city? Pools getting closed that are well used and compassionate library workers with a boss who wants to ignore the union that represents her employees? I’m a frequent library user and I’ve noticed the plummeting morale at my local branch and tired faces on the workers. I’ve also noticed that the computers never work and stay broken for weeks. What happened to supporting people in Berkeley who can’t afford the $700,000 house or the swanky, gourmet restaurants or the expensive gym memberships? I say we should save the public pools for our residents, support workers rights, and get our priorities straight. Let’s find more creative ways to deal with our budget woes. What happened to speaking up for what we believe in as citizens?  

L. Finzel 




Editors, Daily Planet:  

We are told that the reason gas prices have “surged to a record high” is the increased global demand for oil. Consumers are expected to accept this explanation as the inevitable consequence of “the Law of Supply and Demand”—scarce product plus increased demand equals high prices. 

But if there is a supply/demand law it is very peculiar. The gas station across the street from my house changed its prices three times and yet received no new delivery. How can the same tank contain gas of differing prices? Furthermore, there is no reason why “global demand” should cause national variations—California gas costs 16 percent more than the national average—and regional differences—3 to 4 percent more in San Francisco than elsewhere in the Bay Area. 

I sense the spread of economic paranoia and the mainstream media must take at least partial responsibility for failing to investigate the source of profiteering and price gouging. 

Marvin Chachere 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Joyce Roy’s April 12-14 commentary on AC Transit’s Van Hools buses isn’t strong enough. Those buses are a liability lawsuit waiting to happen. Drivers on the 40 Telegraph line drive fast immediately after I board, as I am thrown back and forth grasping for something to hold onto and tripping before I can find a seat. In the good ol’ days, I complained about waiting 40 minutes for the 40 bus headed north on Telegraph (it’s scheduled to come about every 15 minutes). Now I also have my black and blue marks to complain about, not to mention the pain and disorientation of being tossed around on a moving bus that is lurching very fast and unpredictably down a bumpy street. It’s a lawsuit waiting to happen.  

Hello, AC Transit directors. Is anyone there listening? 

Maureen Kane 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

I attended the neighborhood meeting last Thursday night to discuss the West Campus redesign to meet the needs of BUSD and the local neighborhood, as well as city planning needs. 

While it is thoughtful of BUSD to use this meeting process to try to avert the type of difficulties they had with the Franklin School rehab, and the move of all the classrooms to that facility, their current plan to develop, discuss, and help define the neighborhood’s vision for the old West Campus facility cannot possibly take place in such a short time. Nor can the design input process they are currently using possibly represent a consensus on the part of the neighbors or the generally held popular views of the larger planning community of citizens (not developers) in our town. 

What the so-called design process represents is a strong effort to look like they asked for the neighborhood’s opinion, without truly answering any of our valid concerns, questions, or needs. 

If the school district wants to work with the neighbors, they should listen to our concerns, answer our questions, and meet us halfway. This eight-acre parcel cannot be redesigned during a musical chairs exercise, which is all we’ve gotten thus far. 

Lynda Winslow 

Curtis Street Neighbors 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Your article on the West Campus meeting characterized the former Adult School business as “seismically safe.” This is either or misprint, a mistake, or an example of blatant misrepresentation by the school district. Those of us who opposed moving the adult school out of our neighborhood were repeatedly told that the building was seismically unsafe and that retrofitting it would be more expensive than remodeling the Franklin school and transferring the Adult School to it. We were not told, by the way, that the district’s own retained experts had advised against that move and instead had suggested that administrative office share the West Campus site with the Adult School. 

Another interesting points is that while the superintendent denied that the district had plans for the site, during questioning at meetings on the move to Franklin it became clear that she wanted to build an administrative office building on part of the space and use the rest to store and maintain trucks and other heavy equipment. It also became clear that the district wasn’t interested in opinions of the City of Berkeley, which opposed the district’s plans for the site, or the neighbors. The site was being cleared of the Adult School in furtherance of the plan to build district office space on that is now emerging. (The district continues to deny that it has a plan for the site. This master plan is supposed to be created suddenly in the next 30 days. ) 

The real story and the most glaring omission from your coverage of the planning discussion is the fact that the district intends to build its luxurious new office space with funds the citizens of Berkeley voted in 2000 to retrofit school classrooms. A review of the district’s resolution to submit the bond issue Proposition AA to the voters, the ballot proposition itself, and the arguments in favor it the bond issue, make it clear that the citizens of Berkeley were voting to raise money to protect the children of Berkeley, not to provide a luxurious new office building for the superintendent and her staff. In view of the fiscal crises facing the school district, it’s unlikely that the citizens of Berkeley knowingly would vote funds to create new office space, particularly when there were and are other more fiscally responsible options available. In order to get around this, is appears that the school district will include “classrooms” for “teacher development” and some spaces for the 20-35 students who have been expelled from Berkeley schools and call the new structure a “school.” Even so, the clear language of the ballot proposition should prevent the use of Proposition AA funds for this project. 

Finally, the “requirements” for the site mentioned in your article, should properly be characterized as a “dream list” not requirements, since there is other real estate available to the district for some of these uses, including the corporation yard that will increase traffic past two pre-schools and the Strawberry Creek Lodge, home to many elderly pedestrians. 

Ruchama Burrell 

Poet’s Corner Neighborhood Group 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

As I read today that Poki Namkung will be leaving the City of Berkeley’s Health Department, I was reminded of the best 11 weeks of nursing school yet. Between August and December 2004, I and three other students from the UCSF Masters Entry Program spent two days a week working along side the City of Berkeley’s Public Health Nurses gaining clinical experience for a course in Community Health Nursing. Having grown up here in Berkeley and Oakland, I felt lucky to have the opportunity to give back to my community as a part of a clinical assignment for school.  

As I entered nursing school last June, I had limited knowledge about the role of the nurse in our society. What came to mind were images of complacent women who knew only how to follow the directions of doctors and were unable to think critically on their own. What I have learned during the past 10 months is that the nurse is a vital force in the community who helps maintain people’s health, and assists them in their recovery from illness. The nurse is also the man or woman who supports a family and works as an advocate for them through the process of birth and living, as well as death and dying. The nurse is the person who provides access to information and resources for children, adults, and elders in our community, for whom access is the largest barrier to them receiving health care and maintaining good health. Additionally, the nurse is the person who must understand the complexities of the human body and its illnesses, as well as know how to address the way they effect the social, emotional, economic, and spiritual health of our patients. We must be able to think critically, and empower our patients to do so as well as they navigate through a system which is fundamentally disempowering. 

We are lucky to live in a town which has its own Public Health Department, and to have had people like Poki and the rest of the team of health care providers who work daily for the health of our community. 

Eva Goodfriend-Reaño 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Mark Maccoro’s opposition to the Lytton casino plans was based on the “unfair disadvantages faced by other tribes” in comparison with the Lytton’s. Why is he not also concerned with the unfair disadvantages to the mainstream public for not being allowed to have slots and casinos? Just other tribes? 

Keep in mind, any tribe or tribal member can buy a card room and operate it under California law as it was run by the previous owner. They don’t HAVE to operate a tax-exempt “Indian Casino”. That is a choice they make that is not available to the rest of us. It looks to me that it’s not any “tribe” that is facing discrimination, but the general public. 

Or did someone outlaw equal rights when I wasn’t looking? 

Betty Perkowski 

North Stonington CT 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Following teacher statements at the board last week, the superintendent and board members tried to distance themselves from Arnold—saying that they found it “deplorable” that teachers could say their actions were “like Arnold’s.” We all know that some of the financial issues facing the district are the direct result of inadequate state funding. But, we also know that there are other areas where the Arnold-like actions of this administration take on a life of their own. 

Take, for example, termination notices sent to approximately 75 temporary teachers on March 15. In years past BUSD sent out many March 15 notification letters, but waited to send out termination letters until the end of the school year. In most years BUSD finds itself in a position to offer back jobs to most of its temporary and probationary teachers. If things at my school are any indication that will be true this year too. Why then is the administration acting like Arnold? This is a non-monetary issue, yet they are seizing an opportunity to demoralize teachers. 

How does such Arnold-like action affect a specific site? At my site, Malcolm X, for example, we have two teachers retiring and another teacher leaving the area—creating three vacancies. At Malcolm X we also have two temporary—and wonderful—first-year teachers. Both of these teachers received a termination notice in March in spite of the fact that the principal has given them excellent evaluations. These two first year teachers are having to watch as their positions are posted throughout the district, and having to re-apply for their positions at a school which already has three vacancies. This is the kind of anti-worker behavior one would expect from Arnold. It is totally demoralizing. 

If the superintendent and the board want to distance themselves from Arnold they need to act, not just speak, in ways that show basic concern and respect for the people they employ. Indiscriminately sending termination notices on March 15 to 75 temporary and probationary employees is not a commendable labor practice. 

Louise Rosenkrantz 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The Berkeley City Council has done it again. On Tuesday night, it has passed on the first reading a revocation of tenants rights on the basis of a complete and perhaps deliberate misreading of a Court of Appeal ruling, Tom v. City and County of San Francisco (2004) 120 Cal.App.4th 675. That ruling declared a badly worded San Francisco ordinance to be an unconstitutional invasion of privacy. The San Francisco ordinance had outlawed tenants in common agreements, after first allowing tenants in common ownership. For whatever reason, the Board of Supervisors thought this was a preferable way of restricting tenancies in common, but of course it is not and it is patently absurd. Willie Brown, to his credit, realized the foolishness of this approach, but apparently he could not enunciate his reason convincingly and the Board of Supervisors overrode his veto. 

The Court of Appeal ruled on just the narrow issue of the unconstitutional invasion of privacy arising from restricting the internal agreement among owners of a residential property, once the ownership and hence ownership rights have been granted. It did not address the broader issue of whether a city may outlaw tenants in common ownership in the first place, if it is done on zoning and planning grounds. The Court of Appeal ruling explicitly declined to rule on whether the San Francisco ordinance was preempted by the Ellis Act. A fortiori, it therefore declined to rule on whether any other ordinance, such as the Berkeley ordinance, was preempted by the Ellis Act. The trial court had issued a broader ruling, but the ruling of a trial court sets no precedent and is binding only on the parties to the lawsuit. It is certainly not binding on the City of Berkeley or any other municipality. 

The Berkeley ordinance had not shared the infirmity of the San Francisco ordinance. It had simply outlawed tenants in common ownership, on planning and zoning grounds. The Ellis Act explicitly allows this type of restriction, and it was in no way implicated by the Court of Appeal ruling. The wolves in sheeps clothing have apparently used an hysterical misreading of this ruling to do what they really intend, namely dismantle completely all tenants rights in the City of Berkeley. How long will the intelligent people of Berkeley stand for these neo-con shenanigans? 

Peter Mutnick 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The April 12 letter by Ms. Maureen L. Farrell which critiqued my critique of the coming Al Gore Current cable television channel was interesting. However, I do not accept the notion that none of us can say boo about the many and varied deficiencies of Al Gore’s ill-fated 2000 presidential campaign, because, somehow, that would be “supporting” the Bush gang and all of their many miseries which they have visited upon us and the rest of the world in the last five years.  

Since my anti-Bush credentials have been challenged, I searched my computer’s hard disk and discovered that I have been writing letters attacking the awful environmental record and hard-right extremist views of then Texas Gov. Bush starting in October 1999, long before he was nominated for president by the Republican Party in the summer of 2000. I also began writing letters attacking the Bush administration’s many lies and distortions about Iraq starting in August 2002, at least six months before the start of the Bush war on Iraq in March 2003.  

That being said, Vice President Al Gore ran a very poor campaign for the presidency in 2000. He shunned the support of the incumbent President Bill Clinton, easily the most popular and most savvy Democratic president since Harry Truman. This poor decision alone may have cost Gore the presidency. In the televised presidential debates, Mr. Gore just couldn’t be bothered to control and mask his utter disdain for the coked-out little mind of Gov. Bush; admittedly, that would be a tall order for ordinary folks, like you or me, but this is supposed to be one of the strengths of a career politician.  

After the close 2000 election, Mr. Gore didn’t demand a total and complete recount of all the votes in the disputed Florida election. No, he just asked for a recount in the five most populous (and most heavily Democratic) counties. This lame move made him look self-serving and thus not interested in true democracy, i.e., having all the votes counted.  

After the Five Supremes picked their ideological buddy, Gov. Bush, to be president, Al Gore just rolled over and played dead, and thus revealed his underlying allegiance to the rich white old boys’ club (Dem/GOP) that runs this country, and showing no interest in honest, count-all-the-votes American democracy. Al Gore could have pressed his case by speaking about the massive Republican election fraud masterminded by Bush brother Jeb and GOP Secretary of State Katherine Harris in illegally tossing thousands of legitimate black voters off of the Florida voter registration rolls in 2000. If Gore had shown some guts and courage by attacking the absurd illogical convoluted one-time-only ruling of the Supremes, he possibly could have helped rein in the Bush regime, by painting it as illegitimate. Al Gore let us down.  

This same miserable losing scenario was again played out four years later, this time by Sen. John Kerry in the 2004 election. With overwhelming evidence of massive computerized electronic election fraud and theft of the 2004 election by GOP manipulation (with what I estimate to be the flipping of 5 million Kerry votes into Bush votes on election night), Sen. Kerry just rolled over and played dead for Bush and his gang. John Kerry, just like Al Gore, showed his underlying allegiance to the rich white old boys’ club (Dem/GOP) that runs this country, and showed no interest in honest count-all-the-votes American democracy. John Kerry let us down.  

So if I choose to write a critical critique of Al Gore’s new Current cable television project, saying that it is probably off-the-mark, it is with knowledge of the long history of Al Gore missteps and poor decisions as background. Mr. Gore’s new project may prove interesting and useful, but what we really need is an Air America cable television channel as an alternative to the present faux news offerings of the corporate media. 

James K. Sayre 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

I would really appreciate if you cease printing letters that contain unexplained and confusing personal attacks on people. The Daily Planet has published several letters that attack people without offering any context or justification for the attacks. In some cases, also, I think you should consider offering an opportunity to the person attacked to respond in the same issue. Or do a little fact-checking? 

A letter was published last October from Sean Dugar, a former chair of the City of Berkeley Youth Commission about Karen Hemphill, a School Board candidate. He did not explain his opinion that “[t]he thought of Karen Hemphill on the school board terrifies me. I have sat down with her several times to try and convince myself that she is what is needed on the board. But I cannot and will not vote for someone just because they are black. Karen has values and thoughts that change like the wind.” I wondered what issues Ms. Hemphill had changed her mind about, and why her flip flopping was so terrifying, but the letter writer did not explain. All I learned from his letter was that she was black, which I had not known from Hemphill’s election materials that I vaguely recalled. Despite my skepticism about Dugar’s judgments, his letter influenced me. Maybe he knew something I didn’t know? No response appeared from the candidate. And 10 days later, the election was over and Hemphill had lost—barely.  

Recently, Rabbi Jane Litman, a commissioner on the Peace and Justice Commission (which I had never heard of it), was the subject of a bewildering and context-less letter by Nancy Delaney (March 22). Delaney wrote that Litman commented in a meeting “that rape was not a violation of ...human rights [but] admitted it was a crime.” Litman was accused of “callousness,” her “solidarity with other women less privileged than herself” was questioned, and Delaney speculated about whether Litman or someone close to her had ever been raped. What was this all about, I wondered? Was Litman (a distant acquaintance) using her position on the Peace and Justice Commission to defend rapists ? Delaney’s letter had mentioned that the issue was related to approving a book about international human rights violations. But what was the issue here? Did the book attack rapists while Litman defended them? Litman did respond a few days later (March 25). Evidently the discussion had involved whether rape was a violation of municipal, state or international law. Or something like that. But why? I still don’t know exactly why this came up! 

Then a truly personal attack came on April 1 in a letter by Judith Clancy that incorrectly stated that Litman’s defending letter was hostile, and that Litman was “seeking to minimize the horror of rape.” The Clancy letter doubted her “decency” as a person, a woman, and a feminist, questioned her “moral teachings” as a rabbi, and demanded apologies from Litman’s employer as well as the Berkeley school board member who appointed her—all because of an unexplained but evidently rather arcane issue regarding jurisdictional issues in international law. At least I am glad Litman noticed these letters and was able to respond clearly and eloquently to them, and with restraint.  

I suppose that, due to her position on an obscure Berkeley commission, Litman is a public figure, so it is not entirely outside the bounds of journalism to publish unexplained and bizarre attacks on her, but it is not even very good entertainment. It must be rather painful to her. Is it really necessary? Is it even decent? 

David Herzstein Couchª

Looking for Love From Oakland’s Next Mayor J. DOUGLAS ALLEN-TAYLOR

Friday April 15, 2005

A friend from out of town asked the other day if Oakland had a convention center. 

She was in San Francisco for an education gathering, which had gotten somewhat disrupted because of the ongoing hotel strike. She said some of the conference organizers had initially considered moving to Oakland, but the idea got quickly voted down because of what she said was Oakland’s reputation as a “bad” city, and so they moved it to the Moscone Center instead. After we ate dinner, I dropped her off at the nearby Holiday Inn on Third Street where she was staying, and then drove several blocks through South of Market to the freeway, a grim and grimy stretch of the homeless and the hookers and the hooked, quarter-a-minute “adult” sex show shops, papers blowing through stale puddles of beer and vomit and urine and the other assorted human offal, a dreary neighborhood, indeed. Even in its unlit, abandoned corners, Oakland has nothing bad enough to compare. But Oakland has its bad reputation. San Francisco has its great PR. 

I don’t make political endorsements, mostly out of fear that it would only drive voters into the camp of the opposition. But with the first round of a critical Oakland mayoral election less than a year away, it’s important to lay out some guidelines as to what we should look for in a new mayor. 

Considering my friend’s query, and after two terms of Jerry Brown, I want a mayor who loves Oakland, and who is committed to helping Oaklanders get back to loving ourselves. Oakland’s intense sense of inferiority and a nagging, below-the-surface climate of targeted self-hatred is at the root of many of Oakland’s problems and until we face that situation openly, in an adult fashion, we’ll continue to make up the back row in the Bay Area’s parade of cities. 

In its “About Oakland” webpage at www.oaklandcvb.com/media_about_oakland.cfm, the Oakland Convention & Visitors Bureau describes Oakland as “one of the nation’s most ethnically integrated cities, Oaklanders speak more than 100 languages and dialects. Our city’s many faces give us our strength, our civic pride, and our inspired sense of community.” Leaving aside the hype in the second sentence, the assertions in the first are almost certainly true. 

It would stand to reason that if Oakland is, indeed, one of the more diverse cities in the country, emphasizing events and developments that are attractive specifically to Oaklanders would automatically attract visitors from the outside as well, since Oaklanders are representative of just about every ethnic and cultural community within reach. 

And, in fact, we’ve seen that at work with our ethnic festivals. Chinatown’s August StreetFest and the Fruitvale’s Cinco de Mayo and Dia De Los Muertos annually attract tens of thousands of visitors to the city’s two major ethnic commercial centers. We also see it in the continued success of the primarily African and African Diasporan dance classes at Malonga Casquelord Center-formerly the Alice Arts Center-which have survived and prospered over the years despite recent, failed, attempts to dislodge them by the administration of Mayor Brown. (For Californians considering Jerry Brown as our chief law enforcement officer, it may be useful to recall that in order to get the tenant-artists out of Alice Arts, he once accused them of stalking the students at the Oakland Arts School, a charge that withered and died because of…ummm…complete lack of evidence.) 

In any event, our cultural festival experience shows us that where Oakland celebrates Oakland—in all of its corners—without self-consciousness or shame, Oakland succeeds. Most interesting is that while the core constituency of these events are centered in their respective ethnicities-Chinese, Mexican, and African-their appeal crosses racial and ethnic boundaries. 

But just as instructive to our discussion is Oakland’s sorry history with two other annual celebrations—Carijama and the Festival at the Lake. 

Carijama—at North Oakland’s Mosswood Park—was a dance-and-music celebration of the city’s West Indian and African connection, while the Festival of the Lake—on the shores of Lake Merritt—was Oakland’s crown jewel of street festivals, bringing together all of Oakland’s diverse communities and constituencies under one big tent. At their height, both of these annual events were bursting at the seams, so popular it was often hard to find a spare spot to sit on the grass. 

The operative words here are was and were. Both Carijama and the Festival At The Lake fell by almost identical causes—violent disruptions by African-American youth outside of the boundaries of the festivals, and after the respective festivals were shutting down for the evening. There are disagreements to this day as to the exact train of events of these disruptions—and the role of the Oakland Police in either stopping them or escalating them—but that’s a discussion for another day. 

In any event, Oakland’s official response to the problems at Carijama and the Lake Festival were identical—limit their attraction to these “disruptive” African-American youth by limiting their attraction to everybody. The Lake Festival was moved from sunny June to who-knows-what-the-weather-will-be October, also coinciding with Yom Kippur, ensuring that much of our Jewish bretheren would not be in the mix, and further and predictably sending it to a quick end. Carijama was moved from its neighborhood home at expansive, grassy, family-friendly Mosswood Park to the more austere, concrete-surrounded enclosure of downtown’s Frank Ogawa Plaza, a move that both fatally sterilized the festival’s atmosphere and failed to keep out the “disruptive” black kids, thus doubly ensuring its demise. 

I put the word “disruptive” in quotes in describing the African-American youth in the paragraph above because it has never been determined whether those kids came out deliberately to disrupt something they did not like—having participated in such activities myself in my time, I know that this can happen—or whether the disruptions may have flowed from other causes, such as those youth feeling left out of events taking place in their own communities. 

This is more than a mere academic argument. Upon its resolution rests the future of Oakland’s economy and, more importantly, its soul. 

This city spends millions in an effort to get outsiders to like us so they will bring their money here—the Forest City subsidies are only the most recent example—while either overlooking or outright rejecting efforts that might keep Oakland dollars from flowing outside the city limits. A walk through the Jack London Square area on a weekend night shows it teeming with African-American youth ready to spend their entertainment dollars, but with no entertainment venue specifically oriented to their particular tastes (note to planners: think hip hop). In fact, if you judged Oakland’s official attitude on the matter by the actions of the police who stroll or ride around watching these black crowds with wary eyes, you’d think Oakland believed it better if these black kids would just go away. They won’t because, for the most part, they live here. 

Jack London on the weekend seems symbolic of an Oakland that shouts about its celebrated diversity, but gets oddly quiet and hang-doggely when attention shines upon the darker branches of the family. 

The comedian, Chris Rock, once said that if you say you love somebody you’ve got to love everything about them, not just the center of the slice of bread, but the crust part, too. That starts with Oakland’s black youth, but it spreads to other parts of the city as well. 

And so, in Oakland’s next mayor, I’m looking first for someone who loves Oakland—all of us—and sets polices in place to include all Oaklanders in its building and its benefits. How can we get others to love us, if we continue to feel so ill at ease with ourselves? 



The Meaning of Manliness: A Cosby Kid in the ‘Hood By P.M. Price

The View From Here
Friday April 15, 2005

Not long ago, my 10-year-old son, Jason, came limping into the kitchen, a doo-rag (scarf) on his head, some bling (an over-sized, shiny but fake medallion) around his neck and wearing—just barely—a pair of pants about two sizes too large, his plaid boxers peeking out over his backside.  

“What are you supposed to be?” I asked.  

“A thug!” he snarled, wiggling his crooked fingers at me in what I was later to find out was the signage for a West Berkeley street gang. 

“Oh, no you are not a thug!” I snarled right back. 

“I be gettin’ down!” he retorted, comically twisting his body around to the tune of his nod-nod-nodding head. I caught a sparkle of amusement in his eyes, a hint of a grin across his down-turned mouth, so I knew that he knew that I knew that he wasn’t all that. 

“Jason, we do not have thugs in our family and we do not talk or dress like thugs, either. So, you can take that stuff off before you go anywhere with me.” 

“Aw, Mom,” he intoned. “You just ain’t with it.” 

“I guess I ain’t.” I replied. “But, I am with you and you’re with me, so go change your clothes. Now.” 

“Unnnh,” he moaned and trudged on upstairs to discard his cool while I continued filling out applications for private middle school. 

This was not the first time we experienced culture clash between Jason and his schoolmates and it would not be the last. The first time was not with the little brothers from the ‘hood but with upper class white boys in Jason’s pre-school. Jason had been accustomed to being around girls, including his older sister and two little girls in day-care. He was equally comfortable playing fireman and house. However, just before he turned 4, the slightly older boys in his pre-school began excluding him. Why? Because not only did he not join in when they persistently declared that they hated girls, but he actually had the nerve to play with them. On the day that Jason came home and announced, “I hate girls!” I felt a great sadness, as though some innocent, non-discriminating part of him had been lost. 

Today, among the measures of manliness for 10-year-old boys is one’s ability to “suck it up,” to refrain from showing emotion when in pain. On a recent sleepover with a group of classmates, one of the boys tore an emblem off of Jason’s new jacket. When asked to give it back, he refused and instead ripped it up in front of Jason’s face, bringing tears to his eyes. Not one of the other boys criticized the youth who so boldly destroyed Jason’s property. Instead, Jason was berated for showing that he cared so much. Later, the host of the party introduced another fun game which required that his guests line up so that he could forcefully punch each one in the arm. Whoever flinched was declared a sissy. Jason refused to participate, so you can guess what they called him.  

Now, there’s the male thing and then there’s the black male thing.  

On top of being encouraged to dislike girls and show no pain, black boys, who often grow up to suffer from higher rates of illness, poor education, violence, unemployment, incarceration and even suicide, are placed under particular pressure to not exhibit their pain, anger and frustration, though exhibit it they do, by tragically becoming both perpetrators and victims of their environment. This is the dilemma that many blacks felt Bill Cosby ignored when he publicly criticized black parenting skills. While alternately shunned and feared on city streets and in classrooms, young black men are fully embraced on playing fields and dance floors. Small wonder that so many little black boys see sports and music as the only pathways to success. 

Not my son. No way. He is exposed to all manner of talented role models and achievers. But, is that enough when the vast majority of his black schoolmates view the world so differently? By the way, when considering the rise in corporate crime, global wars, racial and sexual violence, and the shameful neglect of this country’s youth, disadvantaged and elderly, young white boys don’t have much in the way of role models, either.  

While I agree with Bill Cosby’s assertion that black parents must assume more responsibility for the behaviors of their children, I would have added that white parents should work harder to unlearn racism to better prevent it from being absorbed by their children. And we would all benefit from teaching our children empathy, tolerance and appreciation for others by practicing those values ourselves. 

I think we’ll forgo private school for now. I want my son to feel comfortable with a wide range of cultures, ethnicities and classes that better reflect our growing, changing world. Perhaps, Jason and his friends can learn to become the role models they all need, right where they are. Besides, who wants to fork over all that private school money? I could buy myself some bling. For rizzle.

Police Blotter By MATTHEW ARTZ

Friday April 15, 2005

Combat Victim 

Police responded to a fight at Piedmont Avenue and Channing Way Sunday at 1:39 a.m. to find a 21-year-old man severely injured. Police arrested the other combatant on charges of battery with great bodily injury. 


Wet Awakening 

A 28-year man awoke to the sound of breaking glass early Sunday morning. When he journeyed to the lobby of his apartment building on Panoramic Way to check out the commotion, a man charged towards him with the building’s fire extinguisher, said Berkeley Police Public Information Officer Joe Okies. The intruder sprayed the tenant in the face and fled the scene. The tenant was not injured in the attack. 


Spraypainter Nabbed 

Police arrested a 65-year-old Berkeley man Sunday after officers reported seeing him around 1 p.m. spaypainting city property while holding a beer in his free hand, according to Officer Okies. The man ultimately had both his hands cuffed behind his body for defacing property at University Avenue and Milvia Street. 


Purse Snatch 

Two teenaged girls grabbed the purse of a 19-year-old walking on the 2600 block of Dwight Way near the American Baptist Church Sunday at 8:44 p.m., Okies said. 


Officer Attacked 

A 28-year-old Berkeley man didn’t take kindly to officers stopping him outside the 7-11 at Telegraph Avenue and Parker Street around 11 p.m. Tuesday. According to Officer Okies, the man attacked and injured one officer on the scene. He was arrested for battery on a peace officer. 

Community Supports Work-To-Rule, Teacher Says By GEN KOGURE

Friday April 15, 2005

In the encounters I have had with the parents and children of Berkeley, I have found that the overwhelming majority of them support the work to rule action. I know that they don’t find it easy, but all of them understand the fundamental human right that people should be paid for the hours they work. 

They also understand that many of the wonderful things the teachers have been doing for their students have been done on donated time and should not  

be taken for granted or as an educational right. At the high school, some teachers donate their time to take students to Washington, Costa Rica, even Italy. They help run clubs, organize the small schools, chaperone dances and sporting events. Many of my colleagues volunteer their time to help our school have some of the highest average AP scores in the nation. Most of the countless hours are donated time, and I am sure that the primary and middle school teachers can say the same. 

The truth is, if the board’s proposed pay cuts go through, in the future much of our district will be in a permanent state of “work to rule.” The massive increases in heath care costs charged by the district will force many teachers to take extra assignments or second and third jobs to make ends meet. There will be no time for educational enrichment needed in a vibrant educational community. 

Many younger teachers, like myself, are saddled with student debt and can only afford to live in a shared housing situation. Some of us live in outlying communities like Oakland, Hayward, or Richmond. So I ask you, why should these young energetic teachers, who are the future educational foundation of Berkeley, continue to commute to a district which steadily insists on eroding teacher compensation? Speaking with some of the younger teachers, I know that morale is low, and I am sure that some of them are using their “work to rule” time after school to look into opportunities in other districts. We love our students but we also have dreams for the future—to perhaps own a home and raise a family in Berkeley—and we ultimately cannot work in a district whose offers are nothing more than pay cuts that make our dreams impossible. 

I believe the Berkeley community supports education for their children. They generously voted in Measure B, not to benefit the teachers or the board, but to reduce the class sizes for the children. Maybe some day I’ll be able to afford a house in Berkeley and pay taxes that support Measure B. Every day I see parent volunteers helping run the school and helping teachers in their classes. The Berkeley community understands the fundamental importance of education for their children, and I believe If the “progressive” board continues to insist on cutting teacher pay and driving away quality teachers, there will be a referendum: it will be in  

the next school board elections. 

The district has attempted to confuse the public in a massive PR effort claiming they don’t have enough money for raises. They blame Arnold for reneging on his promises (rightfully so). They also produce figures and budgets from various sources, accountants, and auditors. But let’s make it clear—teachers aren’t asking for a raise—they are fighting against massive pay cuts proposed by the district. Teachers believe in fiscal responsibility and saving for a rainy day. Teachers are also opposed to sacrificing essential services for the children just to support their pay. We understand that we aren’t in agreement on the fiscal realities of the future. That is why our proposal asks the district, “If there actually is a surplus, please allocate some of it to help off set the pay cut.” 

I believe that the people of Berkeley feel that children have a right to an education. They also understand and believe in the fundamental rights of workers to be paid for their work and to protest injustice. If we have to “work to rule” and take outside jobs, we will. If the district insists on further cuts and we have to strike, we will. Teachers have families to support. Our labor actions aren’t holding the students’ hostage for a pay raise. We are fighting against a pay cut, and all workers have a right to protest and to refuse to work without pay. We’re not just fighting for ourselves, we are also fighting for the pay which allow us to have the enriching and continually improving schools that the district seems determined to destroy . In the upcoming days, I hope more of the community joins us in asking the board to not drastically cut teacher pay if money materializes from Sacramento. I believe the teachers and the community want what’s best for the children—a nurturing and challenging education that is different from the factory model found across the nation—we just need to convince the school board, our elected officials, the  



Gen Kogure is a teacher at Berkeley High School.›

Arrested for Attempted Murder: Don’t You Hate it When That Happens? By CAROL DENNEY

Friday April 15, 2005

I was arrested a couple weeks ago for attempted murder. The police take me to jail a lot for sport. I’m starting to think they should thank me for providing some recreation in their day. 

My friends are used to my getting arrested. I told one friend I was arrested for attempted murder, and she smiled and said, “I hope it was for a worthy cause.” Another said, “Don’t you hate it when that happens?” 

I’m not sure who I’m supposed to have tried to murder unless it was the traffic cone I took out of my driveway so I could go borrow a friend’s drill to install a cabinet in my bathroom. Perhaps the police thought I removed the plastic orange traffic cone from in front of my driveway so that I could kidnap it, and torture it to death. A friend pointed out this could technically be called coincidence. There may be a special penal code section on the mistreatment and abuse of traffic cones, with appropriately severe penalties. 

I would consider this, except that technically I rescued the plastic orange traffic cone from being run over, which infuriated the truck driver who’d put it there, who then blocked my car and called the police, who were only too happy to handcuff me, knock me around, and take me to jail. I’m a fifty-one year old woman, but this doesn’t seem to matter. 

They towed my car from my own driveway. In this way they manage not only to inconvenience me, but also to unnecessarily cost me lots of money. In the world of police business, if you couple knocking someone around with unnecessarily towing their car from their own driveway, it’s considered something like a royal flush. 

I photographed my own bruises, a lonely business. They will drop the charges after lots of pre-trial hearings. I’ll sue them, another mini-drama with no perceptible satisfaction. And that will be that, until it happens again. The last time it happened, around three years ago, it cost them lots of money, and no, it is not worth it. It is something you have to do otherwise they will do it all the more. 

There used to be a modest commitment toward police accountability in town, which would swell and recede with tides of police abuse. But little by little the outrage erodes, the old slogans seem unfashionable, and the budget for police review is bled to nearly nothing by a crew of liberals who state in perfect deadpan that there is no longer much need. 

Cast an original thought in this pond at your own peril. You will never be convicted of a crime, but your arrest record, in all its ridiculous pomposity, will stay with you. You will learn the assemblage of light jokes one makes when asking the tow-truck driver the favor of cutting your plastic jail wristband off with his pocketknife. And you can never call the police without knowing that they’re more likely to side with the person assaulting you, if they stop to listen at all. 

If you’re prudent, you always carry a tape recorder and camera, as I did that day, so that a little bit of the truth is allowed into the room over time. It may not save you immediately, but it will help down the line when the police are forced to explain how their stories managed to leave out so much. 

But no one gives you back your time, your unbruised day of casual carpentry, your sense of trust in the ordinary nature of the universe. These are the little things lost when a community turns its back on its commitment to an above-board police force. The big things lost, the potential for reduction in crime that can accompany a cooperative relationship between citizens and police, are reflected in the sad priorities of a cash-strapped budget that leaves a sparkling new jail where the old brand-new jail used to be, while the librarians are fired. 

The police faxed a copy of my arrest to my workplace. This has an interesting effect on the executive director of a non-profit. They appreciate the “innocent until proven guilty” principle, but that “where there’s smoke there’s fire” maxim keeps peeking around the corner. 

Off I go to a long series of court dates at the public’s expense. It is an odd sort of entertainment watching uniformed police officers try to convince the court that I should be convicted, this time of being a grave danger to the public safety of plastic orange traffic cones. And, who knows, maybe this time they’ll get lucky. 


Carol Denney writes the Pepper Spray Times, published montly in the Daily Planet.›

Berkeley’s Best: Jump’n Java By BECKY O'MALLEY

Friday April 15, 2005

Jump’n Java 

6606 Shattuck Ave., Oakland 



People who like iced coffee best often have southern roots. In the southern United States, New Orleans and environs, iced coffee used to be (and perhaps still is) the sophisticated alternative to the ubiquitous summer iced tea. Here in California, land of eternal summer, real iced coffee is perfect for days when the temperature in the sun gets above 70 and outdoor café tables get crowded. 

Jump’n Java, on South Shattuck near the Berkeley-Oakland border, gets it right. They start with strong coffee—“black as night, dark as sin”— pre-chilled so that adding ice doesn’t dilute it. That’s the key step. It’s a serious disappointment to order iced coffee and be served a weak, tepid, pale brown liquid produced by pouring hot coffee over ice.  

Real southerners used to add heavy cream. Jump’n Java will provide other whiteners on request, but their first offer is half-and-half—luxury enough by California standards. Their iced coffee comes in a tall heavy glass, not a paper cup or the evil-tasting clear plastic cups which name brand chains use to spoil their offering of otherwise not-so-bad iced coffee.  

The small café is a pleasant place to drink it, too. There are three sidewalk tables, and inside, facing rows of small ones complete with Internet and plugs for laptop users. The walls are decorated with tropical murals featuring parrots and palm trees. The music is NOT the heavy-metal choice of the dishwasher-du-jour which ruins conversation at many cafes. And the owner remembers your name after the second or third visit…just like down home. 




East Bay’s Little-Known Russian Community Celebrates Diversity By FRED DODSWORTH

Special to the Planet
Friday April 15, 2005

It’s easy to miss the East Bay’s immigrant Russian community. Typically they are poised, neatly dressed Caucasians with lilting accents that can be mistaken for anything from French to Eastern European to Israeli. 

Frequently Russian émigrés are very well educated, although, because of American licensing restrictions, rarely are they able to find work in their fields of expertise. Ironically, many of them fled to America, the modern “promised land,” because they were victims of American-style capitalism’s harsh realities—low employment rates, a destroyed social infrastructure and high prices. 

The Berkeley Russian School acts as both a social network and a learning center for these new Americans.  

“(It is) like a school and like a club,” said Yelena Gli kman, founder and director. “All newcomers can come to our school and get the support that they need. For example, a lot of Russian wives, who people just met and bring here, these women are absolutely lost here because they don’t understand anything.” 

Glikman said that many newly arrived Russians think that all Americans are rich and that since they have a car they must be millionaires. Then they find out that’s not true.  

“It’s terribly hard,” she said. “I know a few couples who are very good, but a lot of them, they can’t survive, unfortunately. These people come to us and we give them moral support. A lot of them have children, these women who come here because they cannot feed their children in Russia. It’s not because they look for a better life, it’s because they cannot buy food for their children. They need to go somewhere.”  

Glikman said the economic situation in Russia is bleak. Many educated people cannot find jobs. 

“I know the story of one professor; he died from hunger because he was too proud to go and ask for the money,” she said. “They don’t pay him enough for bread. To buy bread, you know? It’s a very hard life over there.”  

Yelena started the Berkeley Russian School few years after she and her husband, Alex, immigrated to the Unit ed States in 1989. Alex, who was a professional classical musician, originally taught music at the school and ran the school’s concert program until he died three years ago. 

The school holds classes in Berkeley, Walnut Creek and San Francisco. This weekend, Saturday, April 16th, from noon to 6 p.m. the organization will celebrate its 10th anniversary with a festival of Russian culture open to all. The inexpensive afternoon of events will offer homemade Russian food and drink and arts and crafts for sale. There also will be performances by adults and children in plays, puppetry, performance dancing by adults, and several piano concerts by award winning pianists associated with the school.  

Like all immigrants before them, Russians finding their way in m odern America face losing touch with the traditions, culture and language of their lost ‘motherland’.  

Sasha and Nadia Blank’s son, Daniel, 6, has attended the school for the last three years. The Blanks said they like the sense of community the school p rovides and have established new friendships with other Russian-speaking parents.  

“We want to preserve his Russian language and heritage,” said Sasha. “The other good thing is the school’s math program, it’s two years ahead of the public schools.”  

Recent Russian immigrants Mark and Lena Wohlfarth of Oakland enrolled their daughters, Tanya, 8, and Nadia, 6, in the Berkeley Russian School because they felt the local schools weren’t demanding enough from the children. The girls take classes in Russian language and literature, math, chess, arts and drama.  

“I like the selection of literature they’re learning, especially the poems,” said the girl’s mother Lena. “The teacher talks about different (Russian) authors and different styles of writing and the history of the words. The Russian language is very beautiful.”  

Wohlfarth said she plans to cook golubtsy (a cabbage-wrapped meat dish in tomato sauce), blini (filled pancakes) and pierogi (filled dumplings) for the celebration. While listing her planned contributions, she decided to provide Russian candy as well.  

“We have to have Russian candy,” Wohlfarth said excitedly.  

Beyond the celebration, Wohlfarth said she’s looking forward to meeting all the other parents and grandparents.  

Stacy and Robe rt Kertsman’s daughter Talia, 5, has been attending the after school program for the last nine months. Stacy, an American born Berkeley resident, doesn’t speak Russian, but her in-laws, who now live in San Francisco, are native Russian speakers.  

“My hus band’s Ukrainian and we want our daughter to know her Russian language and culture,” said Stacy. “The school offers both options at a high level.”  

“(It’s) because we want them to know their culture,” affirmed Glikman. “I think it’s important to know b oth cultures because it’s their roots. A lot of parents say: ‘We live here. We have everything. Why do they need to speak Russian?’ Because they need to speak to their grandparents who don’t speak English. And there’s us also, our English is not good enou gh to speak about everything so deep, and such important things.”  


More than 50 families from the East Bay’s Russian community will celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Berkeley Russian School Saturday, from noon-6 p.m. Saturday, April 16, with homemade Russian food and drink, art, music, puppetry, drama and dance. 1821 Catalina Ave., at the corner of Colusa Avenue. There is a $5 entry fee and many items of Russian culture will be for sale. For more information, see www.berkeleyrussianschool.org. ›

Point Richmond’s Masquers Mark 50 Years with ‘Proof’ By BETSY M. HUNTON

Special to the Planet
Friday April 15, 2005

The Masquers of Point Richmond, housed for the last 40 years in one of the most charming theaters in one of the most charming areas in the Bay Area—we’ll get to that later—are celebrating their 50th anniversary with their usual eclectic selection of plays. The company started the season with a bubble entitled The Farndale Avenue Dramatic Society’s Production of MacBeth and has now moved on to one of Broadway’s recent and best-known block-busters. 

They’re is planning a 50th anniversary party in September. 

There are lots of rather remarkable things about David Auburn’s Proof, not the least of which might be that in 2001 it won both the Pulitzer Prize in Drama and the Tony for Best Play. Both. That’s not bad for a playwrite’s second full-length play, as well as his first one to even get to Broadway at all. 

By this time the play is well enough known that the fact that three out of the four characters are mathematicians may not seem quite as daunting as it did earlier on. But people who haven’t seen Proof yet will probably admit that math doesn’t seem like the first place you would expect theatrical material. Obviously, however, in this instance it works very well indeed.  

The play, after all, is about the characters: a daughter who has interrupted her life to take care of an aging father whose internationally known genius has deteriorated into worse than decay, an ambitious young man who falls in love with her and an older sister who is determined to reorganize her family’s lives. 

Proof manages to touch on most of the great dramatic themes; it’s a love story and it’s full of both humor and sadness. There’s a mystery, a seeming betrayal, a loss and a recovery. The play demands a lot of its actors, and in this production a very strong cast is up to the challenge.  

In the lead role of Catherine, the daughter who has put her own life on hold to care for her father, Carolyn Zola does terrific work, covering situations which require portrayals of almost every emotion in the book. It’s a very convincing and moving performance. 

The play opens on Catherine’s 25th birthday—an age which has particular significance in a mathematician’s family. It’s the age when mathematicians are generally believed to have finished their significant creative works. It was by that time that her father was considered to have “changed the face of mathematics.”  

Zola has appeared in productions throughout the Bay Area and is studying acting with David Ford and at Studio ACT. Her father, Robert is touchingly portrayed by multitalented Masquers’ member, David Coury, an actor in numerous productions as well as a four-time award winner for his lighting designs. In real-life, he’s in transportation engineering, but for many years he has been an active member of several theater groups with multiple roles, primarily as a technical designer and advisor, and board member.  

Georg Herzog is Harold Dobbs, a young Ph.D. candidate who comes into the isolated world of Catherine and her father, in the hope that, by going through the old man’s endless and mostly incoherent notebooks, he will find valuable mathematical materials. His relationship with the unpredictable Carolyn becomes a new complication to the scene and a major issue in the play. Herzog has studied acting with Full Circle Productions, B.A.T.S. Improv, and the ACT Studio program. Director John McMullen describes him as “a real hunk who has real talent.” 

Lily Cedar-Kraft plays the take-charge big sister Claire who has come sweeping in from New York City to straighten her family up—primarily by taking her sister off with her for what she presents as a well-organized “normal” life. Catherine, however, suspects, perhaps legitimately, that Claire really plans to commit her along with their father. 

Cedar-Kraft recently received an Arty best actress nomination. She plays a variety of roles, including, she says, “every film I can get.” Her B.A. from San Francisco State is in Drama. 

Part of the production’s success goes straight to the Masquers’ technique of selecting both plays and their directors. Thanks to Theatre Bay Area, a magazine which is almost mandatory reading for the area’s theatrical world, the Masquers and other “non-professional” theaters are able to draw on a large pool of theatrical talent from many miles around.  

It’s “almost” only because of Actors Equity’s rules for its members’ participation. Thus a sizable number of actors who either haven’t yet made “the Big Decision” or who have the good sense to prefer a less chancy way of earning a living or even—Heaven help us—of wanting to lead “a normal life,” are available, no, make that “eager” to move heaven and earth to play a particular role.  

Theater people are an obsessed breed of cats; they routinely commute staggering numbers of miles to have the chance to do a role they want on their resumes, or a director whose work they want to experience. They think nothing of a schedule that no sane person would even consider. Thus Point Richmond, this tiny, hidden little gem of an “almost village,” is able to draw talent from most of the entire Bay Area’s acting community. 

All The Masquers had to do was to place an announcement in Theatre Bay Area of their desire for a director, asking what play that he/she wanted to direct, and what his/her rationale was for that choice, and select among the people they interview. 

Director McMullen, who lives in Oakland and teaches in the Theater Departments at City College of San Francisco and Los Medanos College in Pittsburg, wanted very much to direct Proof.  

McMullen says, “I find that I choose plays which have psychological issues that resonate in me, or are particularly timely about something that’s happening in the world about which I feel strongly. Proof started off as a psychological issue—I had an aunt who cared for my grandparents and was put out of the house after their deaths by her sisters—not my Mom. And the play turned into something timely with the big flap about women in math that the guy (President) from Harvard started. I put in for Shaw’s The Devil’s Disciple for next year at Masquers because I think it’s important now to remember about fighting for your freedoms.” 

McMullen has worked with all the members of his cast previously. Carolyn Zola (“Catherine”) was in McMullen’s first acting class at CCSF and he says he knew “she was an incipient talent.” He has cast her in four of his plays. He himself has acted with Georg Herzog at Berkeley’s Impact theatre. Lily Cedar-Kraft played the “Marilyn Monroe” part in Bus Stop and Dave Coury was the bus driver and also did the lights. McMullen describes Coury as a “multi-talented man. He is a lighting genius. He even took my course in acting at CCSF.” 

When asked about casting people whom he has known previously, McMullen added: “It’s nice to have people you know you can work with, and in my case, to have people who will put up with me.” 

And now, finally, we get to Point Richmond itself. 

There just doesn’t seem to be another adjective as accurate as “charming” to describe both the Masquers’ Playhouse and its setting in Point Richmond. It’s a tiny, hilly area, as different as it is possible to get from the unfortunate stereotype that Richmond has to fight. 

The buildings around the theater itself are appealing and individualized. Call it a town square, but whatever you call it, try out one of the several restaurants that lie behind the inviting fronts.  

Berkeley doesn’t have anything to teach Point Richmond’s chefs. 

The Masquers of Point Richmond perform Proof at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays through May 7 and at 2 :30 p.m. Sunday, April 24 and Sunday, May 2. $13.  

Masquers’ Playhouse, 105 Park Place, Richmond. 232-4031. ?

Wilde Irish’s ‘Ariel’ Explores the Battleground of Family By KEN BULLOCK

Special to the Planet
Friday April 15, 2005

So the Platonic Year/Whirls out new right and wrong,/Whirls in old instead;/All men are dancers and their tread/Goes to the barbarous clangour of a gong. 

—W. B. Yeats, “Nineteen Hundred and Nineteen” 


Ever since Greek was the vogue of the Romans, playwrights have emulated and imitated the classical tragedies of Athens, sometimes trying to fuse the old myths with whatever present in which their plays have been set. 

Eugene O’Neill’s three-part Mourning Becomes Electra is one case in point, combining the doom of the generations of the House of Atreus from Aeschylus’ Oresteia with a modern domestic drama a la Strindberg, enacted by an American family in their Greek Revival mansion, circa 1865. 

Marina Carr’s 2002 play Ariel—at Berkeley’s City Club in a Wilde Irish production—is another such play, injecting ancient venom into contemporary Irish veins amid scenes of familiar, even banal, public and private life. These themes of obsession and revenge are concentrated so that strife in the family seems more intense than that on a battlefield. 

“Poet Patrick Kavanaugh once imagined Homer whispering to him that he made The Iliad from local land and marriage disputes,” writes C. L. Dallat of Carr’s previous By the Bog of Cats (an Irish Gypsy rendering of Medea, at San Jose Rep four years ago—and now in London—with Holly Hunter), “Marina Carr reinvigorates this idea.” 

The play now on stage at the City Club, begins with birthday candles to celebrate Ariel’s 16th birthday, the Fitzgerald clan seems united in festivity. But all prove distracted, haunted by the sense that “everything’s either already happened, or is about to.” 

Fermoy (Robert Hamm, with a wolfish leer and grin covering a desperate obsession) confesses to his priest brother Boniface (Howard Dillon, whose gentle manner eventually descends into a cynical foolery), “Me and God’s on a one-to-one”—and that this God demands sacrifice. Boniface counsels, “That’s why our thoughts are silent: so we can do away with them before they’re spoken.” 

Fermoy’s wife, Frances (fiery Rica Anderson) is his match, whether dancing with him or dryly applauding his railing at the world. She mourns her dead son by a first marriage. She and Fermoy have been together 17 years after an adulterous “fling that went wrong.” Their 10-year-old Stephen (Sean og Bogue) seems barely weaned. 

“Is there anything lovely as a sleeping child?” asks Boniface, seeing Stephen drowse. “There is,” Frances says, “a dead one.” Boniface tells her later in the play, “You’d reminisce the future, Missus, if you thought you’d get away with it, “ 

Most touching is the birthday girl, Ariel (fresh, girlish Elana Kepner). “When You Were Sweet 16,” Fermoy sings to her, and says, “Even though you aren’t a child any longer, we’re going to hold onto you as long as we can.” Her presence, and later absence, give a lyrical touch of the evanescence of youth, though haunted by nightmares of mortality.  

A crisis is brewing. Fermoy’s standing for an election he’s likely to lose. There are threats from his opponent, bullish Hanafin (Larry LePaule), his obsession with a self-imposed mission of greatness, and the stormy attraction/repulsion of his marriage. He and Ariel go out for a ride in the car he’s just given her. 

There’s a flash forward, years past the crisis, in a brilliant scene of an interview with now-seasoned politico Fermoy—that proves a rehearsal of finessing the press. Second daughter Elaine (steely-eyed Jena Rose) has transformed from tomboy in to father’s flack. Stephen (now played by Steve Nye) is a filmmaker of his own infantile obsessions. But the past stretches out to eternity, old atrocities begetting new ones; the skeletons dug up not of an ancient, but a primal scene. They’re from the family closet, and are followed by apparitions and visitaions, like in the old time dramas of revenge and retribution. 

Fermoy’s anger at the Old Dispensation (“The death of Christ was by us, not for us. The Resurrection was for Himself.”) and crusade to reeducate the nation runs aground on the revelations of what he’s done to escape what he’s seen. Frances confronts him: “You laid my daughter on an altar for power!” And enter Electra: Elaine confronts Frances, saying, “Behind your own front door isn’t where you do what you like; it’s where you face ‘em all down, with your tail between your legs!” 

Ariel’s an abridged Oresteia, not just “the legend of Iphigenia” as advertised. Gemma Whelan’s direction keeps the dire pace of what’s remembered, said and done, running ahead of the brooding over it all. It’s a peculiarly Celtic complex, trying to say the unsayable all at once, grasp the ungraspable in past, present and future all at once, have your cake and spew it, too. There have been even more crystallized visions of the same: Samuel Beckett’s radio play, 

Embers—following Yeats’ great, late little masterpiece, Purgatory—may be the inspiration for Fermoy’s repeating the old family horrors he’s seen, hoping to put them to rest, unlike Boniface and Aunt Sarah (Breda Courtney) who’ve merely witnessed, and remembered. 

In Marina Carr’s play, it’s played out on a bigger field, that of power, as Yeats put it elsewhere in “Nineteen Hundred And Nineteen,” “The night can sweat with terror as before/We pieced our thoughts into philosophy/And planned to bring the world under a rule/Who are but weasels in a hole.” 


Ariel runs at 8 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, and at 3 p.m. Sundays through May 1. Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant Ave. 644-9940. www.wildeirish.org.›

Arts Calendar

Friday April 15, 2005



Actors Ensemble of Berkeley, “Working,” inspired by Studs Terkel, Fri. and Sat. at 8 p.m. at Live Oak Theater, 1301 Shattuck Ave. at Berryman. Through May 7. Tickets are $13-$15. 649-5999. www.aeofberkeley.org 

Albany High School Theater “Wit” and “Benefactor” Thurs. at 7 p.m., Fri. at 8 p.m. and Sat. at 2 and 8 p.m. through April 16, at Albany High School Little Theater, 603 Key Route Blvd., Albany. Tickets are $5-$10. 558-2500, ext. 2579.  

Aurora Theatre, “Blue/Orange” Wed.-Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 2 and 7 p.m., 2081 Addison St. through May 15. Tickets are $28-$45. 843-4822. www.aurora.theatre.org 

BareStage Productions “She Loves Me!” Fri. and Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 2 p.m. through April 24 at Choral Rehearsal Hall, Cesar Chavez Student Center, UC Campus. Tickets are $8-$10. http://tickets.berkeley.edu 

Berkeley Repertory Theater “For Better or Worse” at the Thrust Stage, 2025 Addison St. and runs through April 24. Tickets are $20-$55. 647-2949. www.berkeleyrep.org 

Berkeley Repertory Theater “The People’s Temple” opens at the Roda Theater and runs through May 29. Tickets are $20-$55. 647-2949. www.berkeleyrep.org 

Black Repertory Group “Bubbling Brown Sugar” the musical Fri. at 8 p.m., Sat. at 2:30 and 8 p.m. to May 14 at 3201 Adeline St. Tickets are $7-$15. 652-2120.   

Contra Costa Civic Theatre “Jekyll & Hyde: The Musical” Fri. and Sat. at 8 p.m. at 951 Pomona Ave., El Cerrito, through May 21. Tickets are $12-$20. 524-9132. www.ccct.org 

Laney College Theater, “Legacy for LoEshe” in memory of a girl slain in West Oakland, Wed.-Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 2 p.m., through April 21, at 900 Fallon St., Oakland. Tickets are $5-$9. 464-3544. 

“Proof” by David Auburn, Fri. and Sat. at 8 p.m. through May 7 at The Masquers Playhouse, 105 Park Place, Point Richmond. Tickets are $13. 232-4031. www.masquers.org 


“La Causa” Photographs of the Farmworkers’ Movement at The Free Speech Movement Cafe, Moffitt Library, UC Campus, through Oct. 482-3336. 

“A Bahl Beemsh” featuring the art of seven artists working from ceramic sculpture to oil portraiture. Reception at 7:30 p.m. at Boontling Gallery, 4224 Telegraph Ave., Oakland. boontlinggallery@hotmail.com 

Native American Jeweler Ken Romero, at 7 p.m. at Gathering Tribes Gallery, 1573 Solano Ave. 528-9038. 


Marina Goldovskaya: “Lucky to be Born in Russia” at 7:30 p.m. and “The House on Arbat Street” at 9:15 p.m. at Pacific Film Archive. Cost is $4-$8. 642-0808. www.bampfa.berkeley.edu  

Lucrecia Martel: "La Ciénaga” screening and discussion with the filmmaker at 2 p.m. in Room 370, Dwinelle Hall, UC Campus. Part of “on Argentina” lecture series. http://spanish-portuguese.berkeley.edu 


Berkeley High Jazz Lab Band at 7 p.m. at Florence Schwimley Little Theater, Berkeley High School. 

Rafael Manriquez, Chilean singer and guitarist, at 7:30 p.m. at at the Fellowship Café, Cedar & Bonita Sts. Donation $5-$10. 841-4824. 

University Dance Theater 2005, with new works by Carol Murota, Lisa Wymore and Ellis Wood, Fri. and Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 7 p.m. at Zellerbach Playhouse, UC Campus. Tickets are $10-$14. 642-9925. http://theater.berkeley.edu 

Aphrodesia and Otis Goodnight, Afro-beat, at 9:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $11-$13. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

Voco and the Toids, folksinging and Balkan music, at 8 p.m. at the Hillside Club, 2286 Cedar St. Donations $10-$20. 701-1787 www.hillsideclub.org/concerts  

Lua at 8 p.m. at Caffe Trieste, 2500 San Pablo Ave. 548-5198.  

Anger/Marshall Duo & Vasen at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $24.50-$25.50. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 

Solari, Thriving Ivory, Keith Varon rock, at 9:30 at Blakes on Telegraph. Cost is $5-$7. 848-0886. www.blakesontelegraph.com 

So Funny I Forgot to Laugh at 9:30 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $7. 841-2082. www.starryploughpub.com 

Rhonda Benin Quartet at 9 p.m. at Downtown. 649-3810. 

Kirk Keeler, singer-songwriter, at 7:30 p.m. at Nomad Cafe, 6500 Shattuck Ave. 595-5344. www.nomadcafe.net 

Joe Gilman Trio at 8 p.m. at the Jazzschool. Cost is $12-$15. 845-5373. www.jazzschool.com 

Lae with Ranch Hound Brown, funk, hip hop, at 9:30 p.m. at Shattuck Down Low, 2284 Shattuck Ave. Cost is $5-$7. 548-1159. www.shattuckdownlow.com 

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

The Bananas, Onion Flavored Rings, Ashtray at 8 p.m. at 924 Gilman St., an all-ages, member-run, no alcohol, no drugs, no violence club. Cost is $5. 525-9926. 

Kenny Washington at 7 p.m. at Maxwell’s, 341 13th St., Oakland. 839-6169. 

John Pizzarelli at 8 and 10 p.m. at Yoshi’s at Jack London Square, through Sun. Cost is $16-$24. 238-9200. www.yoshis.com 



Los Amiguitos de La Peña with Gayle Schmidt & The Toodala Ramblers at 10:30 a.m. at La Peña. Cost is $4 for adults, $3 for children. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

Elissa Haden-Guest, creator of the Walter and Iris series, will read from and discuss her books at noon, at the Cal Student Store. 642-9000, ext. 661. 


“Sculpture by Bruce Beasley: A 45-Year Retrospective” opens at Oakland Museum of California, 10th and Oak Sts. 238-2200. www.museumca.org 


Kathakali Classical Dance Drama from South India at 6 p.m. at Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School, 1781 Rose. Tickets are $12-$25. 925-784-6718. www.kathakalibythebay.com  


Crying in Color: Some Came Running” at 12:30 p.m. at the Pacific Film Archive. Cost is $4-$8. 642-0808. www.bampfa.berkeley.edu 


Reza Aslan describes “No god but God: The Origins, Evolution and Future of Islam” at 7:30 p.m. at Cody’s Books. 845-7852.  

“Sculpture by Bruce Beasley: A 45-Year Retrospective” A slide lecture by the sculptor at 2 p.m. at Oakland Museum of California, 10th and Oak Sts. 238-2200. www.museumca.org 

Harvey Helfand, author of “Campus Guide, UC-Berkeley” will discuss the history and traditions of the University at 2 p.m., at the Cal Student Store, 642-9000, ext. 661. 


Trinity Chamber Concert “Solstice” at 8 p.m. at Trinity Chapel, 2320 Dana St. Cost is $8-$12. 549-3864. http://trinitychamberconcerts.com 

Festival of Cultures with international dance, music, theater from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at International House, 2299 Piedmont Ave. Admission $3-$6. Children under 18 free. 642-9461.  

Il Giardino Armonico at 8 p.m. at First Congregational Church, 2345 Channing Way. Tickets are $42. 642-9988.  

Holy Names University, “Opera Scenes” at 8 p.m. at Regents Theater, Valley Center for the Performing Arts, 3500 Mountain Blvd, Oakland. Tickets are $7-$10. 436-1330.  

Samba Ngo in a benefit for Doctors Without Borders at 9:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $15-$25, sliding scale. 525-5054.  

Jackeline Rago and the Venezuelan Music Project with La Familia at 7:30 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $12-$14. 849-2568.  

Val Esway’s Acoustic Onslaught at 8:30 p.m. at Epic Arts, 1923 Ashby Ave. Cost is $5-$10.  

Hip Hop Awakening at 9 p.m. at Shattuck Down Low, 2284 Shattuck Ave. Cost is $10. 548-1159.  

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

Sarah Manning Trio at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 848-8277. 

Anger/Marshall Duo & Vasen at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $24.50-$25.50. 548-1761.  

Drunken Spacemen, Bad Habitz, Abominable Flowmen, rap, hip hop, at 9 p.m. at Blakes on Telegraph. Cost is $8-$10. 848-0886.  

Michael Manring, extreme bass, at 8 p.m. at the Jazzschool. Cost is $20. 845-5373.  

Spark, CD release party, at 8:30 p.m. at Belladonna, 2436 Sacramento. Tickets are $10-$15 from www.eileenhazel.com 

Tarbox Ramblers, The Cowlicks at 9:30 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $7. 841-2082.  

Meli at 7 and 9 p.m. at Spud’s Pizza, 3290 Adeline St. Cost is $5. 597-0795. 

Marcus Shelby Trio at 9 p.m. at Downtown. 649-3810. 

Eileen Hazel at 8:30 p.m. at Belladonna, 2436 Sacramento St. Cost is $10-$15.  

Second Coming, All Bets Off, Doomsday Device at 8 p.m. at 924 Gilman St. Cost is $6. 525-9926. 



“Vistas, Views and Visions” Two-dimemsional works by members of the San Francisco Women Artists at the Addison Windows Gallery, 2018 Addison St. Reception at 4 p.m. at Berkeley Rep, Rehearsal Room A, 2081 Center St. 981-7546. 

“Blind at the Museum” guided tour at 2 p.m. at Berkeley Art Museum, 2625 Durant Ave. 642-0808. www.bampfa.berkeley.edu 

“Creative Partnership in the Era of Claude Cahun and Marcel Moore” from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 370 Dwinelle Hall, UC Campus. 549-6950. www.magnes.org 


Marina Goldovskaya: “Art and Life: Finding the Thread” at 5:30 p.m. at the Pacific Film Archive. Cost is $4-$8. 642-0808. www.bampfa.berkeley.edu 


Poetry Flash with Lorna Dee Cervants and Opal Palmer Adisa at 7:30 p.m. at Cody’s Books. Donation $2. 845-7852. www.codysbooks.com 


Berkeley Schools Performing Arts Showcase with the Music Honors Ensembles Concert from 1 to 4 p.m. in the Berkeley Community Theater, Berkeley HighSchool. Artwork from the schools will also be on display. 644-8772. 

Cantare Chorale and Chamber Ensemble “A Symphony of Psalms” at 3 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church, 2619 Broadway, Oakland. Tickets are $10-$25. 925-798-1300. www.CantareConVivo.org 

Healing Muses “On the Slopes of Parnassus” the life and times of Georg Muffat at 4 p.m. at St. Alban’s Episcopal Church, 1501 Washington at Neilson, Albany. Tickets are $15-$18. 523-5661. www.healingmuses.org 

Organ Music with Robert Huw Morgan at 4 p.m. at St. John’s Presbyterian Church, 2727 College Ave. Cost is $15 at the door. Reception follows. 845-6830. 

“A Tribute to the Great Trumpet Players” with The Mike Vax Jazz Orchestra and Fred Radke at 2 p.m. at Julia Morgan Center for the Arts. Tickets are $12-$18 at the door. 420-4560. www.bigbandjazz.net 

University Alumni Chorus “Balshazzar’s Feast” Hugh Davies guest baritone soloist. At 3 p.m. at Hertz Hall, UC Campus. Tickets are $10-$15. 643-9645. www.ucac.net  

Americana Unplugged: Jeanie & Chuck’s Country Roundup at 4 p.m. at Jupiter. 655-5715. 

Son de Madera, music and dance from Veracruz, Mexico, at 7 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $10. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

Stephanie Bruce at 4:30 p.m. at the Jazzschool. Cost is $12-$15. 845-5373. www.jazz- 


Clockwork, The Idea of North at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $18.50-$19.50. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 

Arturo Gatti, Tried by Fire, Pain of Exile at 4 p.m. at Blakes on Telegraph. Cost is $8. All ages show. 848-0886. www.blakesontelegraph.com 

Fall of Troy, Clarity Process, A Burning Water, rock, at 9 p.m. at Blakes on Telegraph. Cost is $5-$7. 848-0886. www.blakesontelegraph.com 



Buddhism and Film: “Hima- 

laya” at 3 p.m. at the Pacific Film Archive. Cost is $4-$8. 642-0808. www.bampfa.berkeley.edu 


“Gang of Grandmothers” James Keller’s latest play at 1:15 p.m. at the North Berkeley Senior Center, 1901 Hearts Ave. Through the 20th. 526-2023. 


“I’m a Stranger to Myself” A lecture on the American cabaret style, 1940-present, with William Bolcom, composer and Joan Morris, mezzo-soprano, at 8 p.m. at Hertz Hall, UC Campus. http://music.berkeley.edu/bloch 

Michael Balter describes “The Goddess and the Bull: Catalhoyuk: An Archeological Journey to the Dawn of Time” at 7:30 p.m. at Black Oak Books. 486-0698. www.blackoakbooks.com 

Poetry Express with Stephen Kopel from 7 to 9:30 p.m., at Priya Restaurant, 2072 San Pablo Ave. berkeleypoetryexpress@yahoo.com 


Chabot College Jazz Groups at 8 and 10 p.m. at Yoshi’s at Jack London Square. Cost is $10. 238-9200. www.yoshis.com 



Annual Quilt Show at the North Berkeley Public Library, 1170 The Alameda, at Hopkins, and runs through May 21. 981-6250. 


Alternative Visions: Devotional Cinema Films by Nathaniel Dorsky at 7:30 p.m. at the Pacific Film Archive. Cost is $4-$8. 642-0808. www.bampfa.berkeley.edu 


Nick Salvatore introduces “Singing in a Strange Land: Rev. C. L. Franklin, the Black Church, and the Transformation of America” at 7:30 p.m. at Black Oak Books. 486-0698.  

John Shelby Spong explains “The Sins of the Scripture: Exposing the Bible’s Texts of Hate to Reveal the God of Love”at 7:30 p.m. at First Congregational Church of Berkeley, 2345 Channing Way. Suggested donation $10. 845-7852.  

“Synagogue Mosaics and Liturgy in Greco-Roman Palestine” with Prof. Steven Fine of Univ. of Cincinnati at 7 p.m. at Badé Museum, Pacific School of Religion, 1798 Scenic Ave. 849-8201. 

Ayun Halliday describes her life a “Job Hopper: The Checkered Career of a Down-Market Dilettante” at 7:30 p.m. at Cody’s Books. 845-7852.  


Wild Catahoulahs at 8:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cajun dance lesson at 8 p.m. Cost is $9. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

Martin Hayes & Dennis Cahill at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $20.50- $21.50. 548-1761.  

Jug Free America at 9:30 p.m. at The Stork Club, 2330 Telegraph Ave., Oakland. Tickets are $5. 444-6174.  

Danny Caron, Jazz guitar, at 8 p.m. at Downtown. 649-3810. 

Wallpaper, rock, at 9 p.m. at Blakes on Telegraph. Cost is $5-$7. 848-0886.  

Gunga, Brazilian music, at 8 and 10 p.m. Yoshi’s at Jack London Square. Cost is $10-$16. 238-9200.  

Jazzschool Tuesdays at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 848-8277. 



Laney College Theater, “Legacy for LoEshe” in memory of a girl slain in West Oakland, Wed. and Thurs. at 8 p.m., at 900 Fallon St., Oakland. Tickets are $5-$9. 464-3544. 


History of Cinema: “Life on Earth” at 3 p.m. and Games People Play “eXistenZ” at 7:30 p.m. at the Pacific Film Archive. Cost is $4-$8. 642-0808.  


Wesley Stace introduces his new novel “Misfortune” at 7:30 p.m. at Cody’s Books. 845-7852. www.codysbooks.com 

Ji-Li Liang, talks about “Red Scarf Girl: A Memoir of the Cultural Revolution” at 7:30 p.m. at the Albany Library, 1247 Marin Ave. 526-3720, ext. 16. 

Mark Kurlansky discusses “1968: The Year That Rocked the World” at 7:30 p.m. at Black Oak Books. 486-0698. www.blackoakbooks.com 

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  

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


Wednesday Noon Concert, “Love Songs by Robert and Clara Schumann” with Marissa Matthews, soprano, at Hertz Hall, UC Campus. Free. 642-4864. http://music.berkeley.edu 

Music for the Spirit with Ron McKean on the Rosales Organ at 12:15 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church of Oakland, 2619 Broadway. 444-3555.  

Ned Boynton Trio at 8 p.m. at Downtown. 649-3810.  

Balkan Folkdance at 8 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Lessons at 7 p.m. Cost is $7. 525-5054.  

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

Cyril Guiraud Trio at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 848-8277. 

Martin Hayes & Dennis Cahill at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $20.50- $21.50. 548-1761.  

Whiskey Brothers at 9 p.m. at Albatross, 1822 San Pablo Ave. 843-2473.  

Toots Thielemans and Kenny Werner with Oscar Castro-Neves at 8 and 10 p.m. at Yoshi’s at Jack London Square, through Sun. Cost is $12-$22. 238-9200. ª

Garden Tour Focuses on East Bay’s Native Plants By RON SULLIVAN

Special to the Planet
Friday April 15, 2005

On Sunday, May 1, the Bringing Back the Natives Garden Tour will open 50 gardens in the East Bay for free tours. Tours include guides, who along with the garden owners can answer questions and point out subtle features of the gardens; at some gardens, plants will be available for purchase or for free. The gardens are maintained with minimal supplemental water—some get no irrigation at all, just our usual winter rain—and also minimal or no pesticides. This fosters a lively ecosystem; many gardeners have long lists of the wildlife they encounter in their gardens, from mammals to birds and butterflies. Thirteen of these gardens are in Berkeley, and for an example of the range of possibilities in a California native plant garden, here are three. 

Barbara Thompson lives in a house in Claremont; flowing through her front yard is a good stretch of Harwood Creek, and she has some mature liveoaks too. Owning such a piece of ground carries with it certain responsibilities, and she is living up to them—and honoring her creek, oaks, and living system. She’s had native plants installed in lots of the yard—and gone organic in her garden care, which natives makes easier, as they’re adapted to the place where they live and at least the native insect population there. This reduces the pollution load washing into the creek. And there are plants on the steep banks, the ones that aren’t city-built retaining walls, to control erosion. Most are natives, so they prosper without a lot of watering or feeding. 

The effects of all this care include healthy populations of dragonflies and Pacific chorus frogs. These can, paradoxically enough, work against each other, as the dragonfly larvae eat tadpoles. So Barbara has pressed a nonworking aquarium tank into service, shading it and screening it from dragonflies and raising a batch of tadpoles to froghood.  

The contractor who built the garden’s street fencing included windows so passersby can have a look at the creek and its life—including one window at a height suitable for children or wheelchair riders.  

West of there, in my own flatlands neighborhood, are two gardeners with different approaches, and I like both. They have yards of roughly similar sizes, and they’re both named Schneider, though they aren’t related. 

Christine Schneider is a landscape architect who knows her plants, and her birds, bugs, and other critters too. Her day job is about wildlands restoration, and she applies what she’s learned there as well as back in architecture school to her home landscape.  

Behind a pre-existing boxwood hedge is a pleasant gravel surround for a big native grass clump, set in a raised circle of stacked flagstones like an arrangement in a vase. The gravel, an illusory pond that replaced a real, too-shallow pond, is bordered by native grasses, poppies, iris, and other droughty greens, and native shrubs including a favorite of mine, fuchsia-flowered gooseberry, against the house. These mesh well with several scattered fans of German iris in a striking shade of blue, all propagated from her original plant. 

Through the back gate is a visual surprise, as it opens onto a yard that looks acres-deep because of Christine’s eye for rhythm and illusion. To the right is her “token lawn,” an Italian stone pine, and fruit trees, backed by a couple of veggie beds whose wooden sides are hidden by the mass of flowers, native and not, in their curved bed. A wisteria reached over the fence from a neighbor’s yard; other wisterias drape the cottage in back and the deck on the house. To the left, running up to that deck, is an oval bed of bluish grass mounds—native and not watered in summer—and their mostly-native border of monkeyflower, iris, ceanothus, manzanita and more. There’s a young alder, planted by the deck for gentle visual screening and for a more practical purpose: A finger of Derby Creek runs under the yard, and Christine has hired the tree to suck up excess water.  

“This is the barbeque ‘room’,” she said, gesturing by the edge of the bunchgrass oval. “And over there is the sipping-wine-and-watching-the-sunset ‘room.’” Her natives dominate the yard, while harmonizing with the few exotics she’s planted because she just plain likes them. “They all play well with others,” she said, laughing. They also bloom in sequence, so there’s always some color happening. It’s an inviting space—to local wildlife as well, the finches and butterflies that pass through as we stroll the garden. And of the whole thing, it’s only the right side of the backyard—and a few pet Japanese maples—that get summer water. 

A few blocks north, Glen Schneider has a garden with a completely different look, one oddly familiar to those of us who take off for the parks and wildlands when we can. Behind a white fence, his front yard is a perfect example of a wild East Bay meadow: bunchgrasses, Douglas iris, several grand cow parsnips, a couple with flower stalks starting up. Cow parsnip is that big soft green plant with white umbels of flowers like giant Queen Anne’s lace, over mapley-shaped leaves. It’s a signal of place—our place. Tangled among the iris leaves are a rambling California rose, some native currants, poppies, and a scatter of other denizens of Berkeley’s wild spots.  

Beside the house, next to the former driveway, is a small veggie garden, and a thornless raspberry is trained along the fence. Glen has a bed at the end of the yard with five kinds of garlic, too; he’s no purist ascetic. The back yard is another meadow, just a bit sunnier, with clarkias, more grasses and meadow flowers, sagebrush, and blue elderberries. Behind the shed is a ramada topped with dried leafy branches, a picnic table and a ten-by-ten patch of California forest understory under the bordering Lombardy poplar. A monster manroot and a native grape climb the poplar, and more woods plants nestle in the space. 

There are a couple of soaproots out in the sun, and I’ve rarely seen them this big. This is a quietly nifty plant, with long wavy-edged leaves rising from a bulb that the pre-European folks here used for food, soap, and—dried—for brushes. It has a central stalk of little white flowers that most of us rarely see, because it blooms at night—actually, it’s “vespertine,” Glen tells me, blooming from about 5 p.m. till past midnight.  

Now, that’s something most of us have to spend the night in a tent to see. And quite a bit of the insect life and the 44 bird species in this yard’s list need some sitting quietly, just being there, to see. Aside from wanting to see what the lost parts of the East Bay once looked like, the deep-soil flatlands of which so little is left undisturbed, Glen has arranged this space as a sort of permanent field trip. 

In a mere three of this tour’s 50 gardens, we can see three completely different looks, feel three contrasting moods. Barbara Thompson has saluted a bit of original California flowing through her garden. Christine Schneider has extended her house by two or three welcoming outdoor rooms, bringing herself and her family out to a bit of local Nature. And Glen Schneider has brought local Nature to his doorstep, where he can sit on the steps with breakfast and be in the real world.  


Register for the free tour—you need to register to get the maps—at www.bringingbackthenatives.net/ or for more information, call Kathy Kramer at 236-9558 between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. 


Berkeley This Week

Friday April 15, 2005


Funeral Services for Margaret Breland, former Berkeley City Councilmember, at 11 a.m. at Liberty Hill Missionary Baptist Church, 997 University Ave. 

City Commons Club Noon Luncheon with Sidra Stich, “Enhancing Italian Art Appreication” Luncheon at 11:45 a.m. for $13, speech at 12:30 p.m., at the Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant St. For reservations call 526-2925 or 665-9020.  

Five Star Night Fundraiser for Alameda County Meals at 6:30 p.m. at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Ascension, 4700 Lincoln Ave., Oakland Tickets are $250 available from 577-3581. www.feedingseniors.org 

“Violence in the Americas” conference, Fri. and Sat. at Stephens Hall, UC Campus. Sponsored by the Center for Latin American Studies. 642-2088. www.clas.berkeley.edu 

World Space Summit and Party for Yuri’s Night at 6 p.m. at the Chabot Space and Science Center, 10000 Skyline Blvd., Oakland. Tickets are $10-$75. www.chabotspace.org 

Berkeley Chess Club meets Fridays at 7:15 p.m. at the East Bay Chess Club, 1940 Virginia St. Players at all levels are welcome. 845-1041. 

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

Meditation, Peace Vigil and Dialogue, gather at noon on the grass close to the West Entrance to UC Berkeley, on Oxford St. near University Ave. 655-6169. www.bpf.org 


Regional Parks Botanic Garden Annual Native Plant Sale from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Bring cardboard boxes to carry your purchases. Refreshments will be available. Located at Tilden Regional Park at intersection of Wildcat Canyon and South Park Drive. 841-8732. www.nativeplants.org. 

Annual California Wildflower Show, Sat. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sun. noon to 5 p.m. at the Oakland Museum of California, 10th and Oak Sts. Admission is $5-$8. 238-2200. www.museumca.org 

41st Annual Iris Show and Sale from 1 to 5 p.m. at the Lakeside Garden Center, 666 Bellevue Ave., Oakland. Sponsored by the Sydney B. Mitchell Iris Society. 277-4200. 

Compost Critters Learn which animals do the dirty work of turning leftovers into rich soil. For ages 5 and up at 11 a.m. at Tilden Nature Center, Tilden Park. 525-2233. 

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

Learn to Grow Your Own Food from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the UC Berkeley Organic Garden, Walnut and Virginia. Cost is $10-$15. To register call 548-2220, ext. 233. 

Spring Blooming Perennials with Aerin Moore at 10 a.m. at Magic Gardens Nursery, 729 Heinz Ave. 644-2351. www.magicgardens.com 

Berkeley Historical Society Walking Tour of the Glass Block Buildings of West Berkeley led by Bill Goodell, from 10 a.m. to noon. Cost is $8-$10. 848-0181. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/histsoc/ 

Russian Festival from noon to 6 p.m. at 1821 Catalina Ave., corner of Colusa. Celebrating the 10th Anniversary of the Berkeley Russian School. 526-8892. 

Community Budget Workshop with City staff on the two-year City budget cycle which begins July 1, at 10 a.m. at the South Berkeley Senior Center. Co-sponsred by the League of Women Voters. 981-7004.  

Historical and Botanical Tour of Chapel of the Chimes, a Julia Morgan landmark, at 10 a.m. at 4499 Piedmont Ave. at Pleasant Valley. Reservations required 228-3207.  

Self Defense for Women from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Julia Morgan Center, 2640 College Ave. 845-8542, ext. 302. 

Astronomy Day with activities from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Chabot Space and Science Center, 10000 Skyline Blvd., Oakland. Cost is $9-$13. 336-7373. www.chabotspace.org 

Museum Exhibition Catalog Sale at the Oakland Museum of California, 10th and Oak Sts. Admission is $5-$8. 238-2200. www.museumca.org 

California Writers Club with Beth Proudfoot, Director, East of Eden Writers Conference, speaking on "Making the Most of Writers Conferences and Literary Contests” at 10 a.m. at Barnes & Noble, Jack London Square. www.berkeleywritersclub.org 

“Join Hands with Africa” Gala to raise funds for a village in Africa, with speakers, food and a fashion show, at 6:30 p.m. at the Richmond Civic Center, Macdonald Ave at 26th St. Tickets are $40. 691-2882. www.afrimmigrants.org 

East Bay Atheists meets from 2 to 5 p.m. with Richard Carrier, on “Ethicology: Proposing a New Science of Moral Imperatives” at Berkeley Public Library, 2090 Kittredge St., 3rd floor Meeting Room. 222-7580. eastbayatheists.org 

Free Emergency Preparedness Class in Basic Personal Preparedness from 9 to 11 a.m. at 2100 Martin Luther King Jr. Way. To sign up call 981-5605. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/ 


“Chain Breakin” Workshops in Capoeira and Maculelê from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Studio Rasa, 933 Parker St. Cost is $12-$25. Hosted by BAKA Cultural Arts Center. 205-1799. 

Festival of Cultures with international dance, music, theater from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at International House, 2299 Piedmont Ave. Admission $3-$6. Children under 18 free. 642-9461. http://ihouse.berkeley.edu 

By the Light of the Moon Open mic and salon for women at 7:30 p.m. at Changemakers, 6536 Telegraph Ave. Sliding scale $3-$7. 482-1315. www. 


California College of Arts Spring Fair with ceramics, glass, jewelry, clothing, textiles, paintings and more. Proceeds go to individual artists. From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 5212 Broadway at College Ave. 594-3666. 

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  

Sistaz N Motion Membership Drive and Mixer at noon at the Richmond Public Library, Community Room, 325 Civic Center Plaza, Richmond. 925-439-1612. 

Brown Bag Lunch Practicum for Writers at 11 a.m. Sat. and Sun. in Berkeley. For details call the Creative Project Institute 415-816-5640. www.creativeprojectinstitute.com 

Remodeling Workshop for Homeowners from 9 a.m. to noon at Truitt and White Conference Center, 1817 2nd St. Cost is $25-$30. Registration required. 558-8030. 

“Lights, Camera Fashion” Charity fashion show by UC students at 4 and 8 p.m. in the Pauley Ballroom, UC Campus. Tickets are $5-$10 from http://fashion.berkeley.edu 

Quit Smoking Class from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. for six Saturdays at Alta Bates Medical Center, 2450 Ashby Ave., first floor auditorium. To register call 981-5330. quitnow@ci.berkeley.ca.us 

“Exploring the Awakening World” personal coaching with Leza Danly from 9:30 a.m. to noon at the Claremont, 41 Tunnel Rd. Cost is $5-$15. www.sfcoaches.com 

“Destination Studies: Nevada, So. CA, Arizona” from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at Vista Community College. 2020 Milvia St. Cost is $13. RSVP to 981-2931. 

“How to Buy a Home in This Crazy Market” from 10 a.m. to noon at First American Title, 2089 Rose, near Shattuck. To RSVP call 981-3063. 


Annual California Wildflower Show noon to 5 p.m. at the Oakland Museum of California, 10th and Oak Sts. Activities for children and families. Admission is $5-$8. 238-2200. www.museumca.org 

41st Annual Iris Show and Sale from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Lakeside Garden Center, 666 Bellevue Ave., Oakland. Sponsored by the Sydney B. Mitchell Iris Society. 277-4200. 

Spring Wildflower Hike Meet at 10 a.m. at the bulletin board at the Big Springs pullout on South Park Drive, Tilden Park. We’ll learn to recognize the eight major families of California wildflowers on this hike. Wear sturdy shoes for a rocky trail. 525-2233. 

The Pond is a Nursery Learn aquatic entomology for the larval point of view, see dragonfly babies, phantom midges and learn their history and future at 2 p.m. at Tilden Nature Center. 525-2233. 

Huckleberry-Sibley Scramble in the Oakland Hills with Greenbelt Alliance. Reservations required. 415-255-3233. www.greenbelt.org 

A Child’s Container Garden a family workshop from 2 to 3:30 p.m. at UC Botanical Garden, 200 Centennial Drive. Cost is $14-$18. Registration required. 643-2755. http://botanicalgarden.berkeley.edu 

Labyrinth Peace Walk at 3 p.m. at the Willard Community Peace Labyrinth on blacktop next to the gardens at Willard Middle School. Enter by the dirt road on Derby. Free and wheelchair accessible. Sponsored by the East Bay Labyrinth Project. 526-7377. 

Earth Day at the Oakland Zoo Learn how to support animals around the world with activities, performers, displays and more from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. 632-9525, ext. 202. www.oaklandzoo.org 

Soap Making Workshop Learn the chemistry of soap as we use olive, coconut and palm oils to make natural soap. Bring a pair of rubber gloves. For ages 12 and up. Cost is $10-$12. Registration required. 525-2233. 

Hands-on Bicycle Clinic: Flat Repair at 10 a.m. at REI, 1338 San Pablo Ave. Free. 527-4140. 

Center for the Education of the Infant Deaf Walkathon Fundraiser at 9 p.m. at the Moraga Commons Park, Moraga. Registration is $100. For information call 848-4800, ext. 318. www.ceid.org 

The Peace Alliance Foundation East Bay Kickoff for the US Dept. of Peace at 7 p.m. at the First Church of Religious Science, 5000 Clarewood Dr, off Broadway Terrace, Oakland. 547-1979. www.ThePeaceAlliance.org 

Lake Merritt Neighbors Organized for Peace Peace walk around the lake every Sun. Meet at 3 p.m. at the colonnade at the NE end of the lake. 763-8712. lmno4p.org 

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


Tea and Hike 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.  

Choke Saving Skills, with Hashim Anderson, EMT, at 11 a.m. at Habitot, 2065 Kittredge St. Cost is $5-$6. 647-1111. www.habitot.org 

“Bringing Biodiesel to Native America” A send off of the bus and bike tour at 3 p.m. at the Inter-Tribal Friendship House, 523 International Blvd., Oakland. 653-4274.  

Interfaith Weddings: What Are the Options? at 7:30 p.m. at the BRJCC, 1414 Walnut St. Cost is $15 per couple. 839-2900, ext. 347. 

Stress Less Seminar at 7:15 p.m. at the Upaya Center for Wellbeing, 478 Santa Clara Ave., Oakland. Cost is $40-$80. 465-2524. 

World Affairs/Politics Discussion Group for people 60 years and over meets Mondays at 9:45 a.m. at the Albany Senior Center, 846 Masonic Ave. Join at any time. Cost is $2.50 with refreshments. 524-9122. 


Early Morning Bird Walk Meet at 7 a.m. at Inspiration Point, Tilden Park, to look for Seaview Trail species, including nuthatches, warblers and sparrows. 525-2233. 

Bird Walk along the Martin Luther King Shoreline to see marsh birds at 3:30 p.m. for information call 525-2233. 

Mini-Rangers at Tilden Park Join us for an afternoon of nature study, conservation and rambling through the woods and water. Dress to get dirty, and bring a healthy snack to share. For children age 8-12, unaccompanied by their partents. Cost is $6-$8. Registration required. 636-1684. 

Berkeley Garden Club Spring Tea and “Natural Flower Arranging” at 1 p.m. at Epworth Methodist Church, 1953 Hopkins St. Cost is $8. 524-4374. 

Kayaking 101 Learn about safety and places to paddle at 7 p.m. at REI, 1338 San Pablo Ave. 527-4140. 

“Freeing a Superpower’s Slaves” The story of the first great human rights campaign with Adam Hochchild at 7:30 p.m. in Buttner Auditorium, College Prep School, 6100 Broadway. Cost is $5-$10. 658-5202. 

American Red Cross Blood Services Volunteer Orientation at 6 p.m. at 6230 Claremont Ave, Oakland. Advance sign-up needed. 594-5165. 

Berkeley Salon Discussion Group meets to discuss The Draft and the Military from 7 to 9 p.m. at the BRJCC, 1414 Walnut St. Please bring snacks and soft drinks to share. No peanuts please. 601-6690.     

Shakespeare’s Birthday Celebration “All About Hamlet” at 7 p.m. at the Northbrae Community Church, 941 The Alameda. For reservations call 843-6798. yogikuby@earthlink.net 

“Community Resources for Better Health” with Donna Schempp, LCSW, at 4 p.m. at Jewish Family & Children’s Services, 828 San Pablo Ave., Suite 104, Albany. To register call 558-7800. 

Clarity Breathwork with Maggie Ostara, Ph.D. and Susan Chettle at 7 p.m. at Belldonna, 2436 Sacramento St. Cost is $30-$35. 883-0600. www.belladonna.ws 

Vision Screening for Toddlers at 10 a.m. at Habitot, 2065 Kittredge St. Cost is $5-$6. 647-1111. www.habitot.org 

Introductory Buddhist Meditation Class at 7 p.m. at Dzalandhara Buddhist Center, in Berkeley. Suggested donation $7-$10. For directions call 559-8183.www.kadampas.org 

Raging Grannies meet to sing for peace and justice at 2 p.m. at Berkeley Gray Panthers, 1403 Addison St. 548-9696. 

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. Volunteer recognition luncheon at noon. 845-6830. 

Sing-Along every Tues. from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. at the Albany Senior Center, 846 Masonic. All ages welcome. 524-9122. 

Family Storytime at 7 p.m. at Kensington Library, 61 Arlington Ave. 524-3043. 


Tilden Explorers An after school nature adventure for 5-7 year olds who may be accompanied by an adult. No younger siblings please. We’ll learn about plant secrets. From 3:15 to 4:45 p.m. Cost is $6-$8. Registration required. 636-1684. 

“Concerned About Teacher Contract Negotiations?” Join the Berkeley Federation of Teachers in a community forum, at 7 p.m. at Longfellow School Auditorium, 1500 Derby St. Childcare provided. Wheelchair accessible,. Traduccíon al Español disponible. 549-2307. 

“Mountain Bike Racers in Berkeley?” Come meet the Berkeley High team and the founder of the NorCal Mountain Bike High School League at 8 p.m., at the Hillside Club, 2286 Cedar St. Sponsored by Grizzly Peak Cyclists and open to all. Wheelchair accessible. 527-0450. 

Direct from Chiapas with Gustavo Castro at 7:30 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center, 3105 Shattuck Ave. Cost is $5-$10 sliding scale. Benefit for Chiapas Support Committee. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

A Conversation with Alice Walker and Sue Hoya Sellars at 6 p.m. at Belladonna, 2436 Sacramento St. Tickets are $20. 883-0600. www.belladonna.ws 

“Saving Social Security” with Deb Androsa of Global Exchange at 7 p.m. at Berkeley Gray Panthers, 1403 Addison St. Light supper served. 548-9696. 

The Berkeley Lawn Bowling Club provides free instruction every Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. at 2270 Action St. 841-2174.  

Taoist Tai Chi Beginning Level Class at 7 p.m. in the Large Assembly Room of the First Congregational Church, 2345 Channing Way. Affordable monthly donation requested. 415-864-0899. www.taichicalifornia.org 

Walk Berkeley for Seniors meets at 9:30 a.m. at the Sea Breeze Market, just west of the I-80 overpass. Everyone is welcome. 548-9840. 

Artify Ashby Muralist Group meets every Wed. from 5 to 8 p.m. at the South Berkeley Senior Center, to plan a new mural. New artists are welcome. Call Bonnie at 704-0803. 

Stitch ‘n Bitch Bring your knitting, crocheting and other handcrafts from 6 to 9 p.m. at Caffe Trieste, 2500 San Pablo Ave. 548-5198. 

Berkeley Peace Walk and Vigil at 6:30 p.m. at the Berkeley BART Station.www.geocities.com/vigil4peace/vigil 


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

Council Agenda Committee meets Mon., April 18 at 2:30 p.m., at 2180 Milvia St. 981-6900. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/ 


City Council meets Tues., April 19, at 7 p.m in City Council Chambers. 981-6900. www.ci. 


Berkeley Housing Authority meets Tues., April 19 at 6:30 p.m. in City Council Chambers. 981-6900. ww.ci.berkeley.ca. 


Citizens Humane Commission meets Wed., April 20, at 7 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center. Katherine O’Connor, 981-6601. www.ci.berkeley.ca. us/commissions/humane 

Commission on Aging meets Wed. April 20, at 1:30 p.m., at the South Berkeley Senior Center. William Rogers, 981-5344. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/commissions/aging 

Commission on Labor meets Wed., April 20, at 6:45 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center. Delfina M. Geiken, 981-7550. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/commissions/labor 

Human Welfare and Community Action Commission meets Wed., April 20, at 7 p.m., at the South Berkeley Senior Center. Kristen Lee, 981-5427. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/commissions/welfare 

Design Review Committee meets Thurs., April 21, at 7:30 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center. Anne Burns, 981-7415. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/commissions/designreview  

Transportation Commission meets Thurs., April 21, at 7 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center. Peter Hillier, 981-7000. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/commissions/transportation 




Protecting Berkeley From Mothers With Babies By BECKY O'MALLEY

Tuesday April 19, 2005

All good Berkeleyans know that police harass innocent minority people in places like Orange County or Texas, right? It doesn’t happen here in Northern California—well, maybe in Oakland or even San Francisco, but certainly not in Berkeley, right? We have a Police Review Commission. Our cops all went to college. They know better. Uh-huh.  

A couple of weeks ago, our friend Laurette (not her real name) came to Berkeley about nine o’clock one weekday morning for an appointment with a new doctor, whose address was on Dwight between Ellsworth and Dana. She downloaded a map from Yahoo, and her husband dropped her off, along with her nine-month-old son and his stroller. The street number she had turned out to be part of a multi-unit building, with a parking lot in front. She went up to the front door, which was closed, and rang the doorbell. No answer. She rang again—still no answer, so she tried the doorknob, thinking it might lead to a foyer, but it was locked. So she pushed the baby in the stroller back to the sidewalk, started down the block, map in hand, and took out her cell phone to call the doctor’s office to check the address. 

Just then, a police car zoomed up next to her, tires squealing, and stopped in the middle of the street. The driver jumped out and ran over to block her path. “Don’t move! Put your hands behind your back! Down on the ground!” he said. 

Now, a few details. Why do I think this woman’s telling the truth? Because I trust her—our family has known her for almost three years. She even babysits for my granddaughter, and if we didn’t trust her implicitly, she wouldn’t be doing that.  

She’s French, from Paris. She’s here with her husband, a scientist working in an important research organization, probably with major security clearances. Her English is pretty fair, but not perfect. 

Momentarily confused, she did what she was told and sat down on the ground. “What’s the problem?” she asked. “Don’t ask me questions—I ask the questions, not you!” the policeman said. She describes him as short, blue-eyed, would-be blond but with shaved head, “militaristic looking” and “nervous.”  

By this time she was pretty nervous herself, in a state she described as “grand peur” (great fear). She says what particularly scared her is that he was alone, and she was afraid of what he would try since there were no witnesses. She told him she didn’t speak English very well. “Oh yes you do!” he said. Then she realized she couldn’t keep a good grip on the stroller from the ground, so she stood up again and asked if she could pick up the baby. “No!” he said. 

He demanded her bag, a diaper bag, which he searched, finding nothing of interest. Then he asked for her wallet, which he looked through, finding her I.D., which he took back to the car, presumably to check her identity on his computer. After he’d done that, suddenly his attitude changed. He got out of the car again and was all apologies. By then three more police cars, each containing a couple of officers, pulled up behind him, and soon everyone was apologizing profusely.  

It seems that she was on Blake, not Dwight as she’d thought. The door she’d tried belonged to a woman who was peering fearfully out a window and called 911, saying that “a Mexican woman in a pink dress” was “trying to break into my house.” 

Oh, one more detail you’ll need to understand this. Laurette is of North African ancestry, with deep olive skin, abundant dark hair and big brown eyes. Why are you not surprised to learn that she’s a dark-skinned person? 

And does anyone really think that if the caller had said “there’s a blond woman at my door” four police cars would be the result? If a blond woman with pink skin was pushing a baby in a stroller down Blake at 9 a.m. while talking on her cell phone and looking at a map, would she have been ordered to put her hands behind her back and get down on the ground?  

When I went over to Laurette’s house on Sunday to talk to her about this story, I took along our friend Cyril to interpret. He’s another French scientist, also of African descent, with dark skin and kinky hair. He lives near the place where this happened, and he says he’s often been stopped by the police, once just for crossing the street outside of a crosswalk late at night.  

After the apologies started, Laurette said, she started screaming at the cops. Why, she asked, did they assume, without even investigating, that a woman with a baby should be treated as a criminal? Well, they said, the baby might be a decoy. Oh sure, it happens all the time in Berkeley—desperate women steal babies and use them as decoys for daring daylight home invasions. 

And what if she’d actually been a Mexican woman, also lost on the way to the doctor, but without Laurette’s green card, education, bourgeois confidence and relatively good English? Suppose that woman didn’t understand the instructions, or panicked, and ran? What would have happened then?  

Pierre, Laurette’s husband, went on the Internet later and looked at the police reports posted there, but since there was no arrest he couldn’t find any record of what happened. He called the Berkeley Police Department and learned that he could fill out a complaint form, but since there were no independent witnesses he decided it would be futile. 

He’s been a U.S. citizen for several years, as is their son, who was born in Berkeley. Dark-skinned immigrants have never been treated well in France, so Laurette and Pierre are under no illusions, but they’d hoped the U.S. would be different. But now they’re thinking that maybe the United States isn’t the right country for them after all. They’re talking about moving to Germany.  

When I spoke with them on Sunday, I told them that many Americans, especially in Berkeley, still do believe that it’s supposed to be different here. I told them that I’d write up their account of what happened to them, without their real names since they’re afraid of unspecified reprisals. I urged them to file a complaint with the Berkeley Police Review Commission, not that it would do them any good, but on behalf of the next person harassed. I told them that Americans say that “eternal vigilance is the price of liberty,” and that filing the complaint would be their contribution to the vigilance which is every citizen’s duty. 

And I told them that in this piece I would challenge Berkeley city officials to find out how a law-abiding young mother could be terrorized by the police at nine o’clock in the morning on a city sidewalk. I’d like to hope that, even without a complaint, somewhere in our city administration or on our city council someone would be shocked enough by this story to investigate what happened. Anyone who’d like to talk to Laurette can call me, and I’ll put them in touch.  

Penny-Wise, Pound-Foolish By BECKY O'MALLEY

Friday April 15, 2005

Next week’s Berkeley City Council agenda contains a proposal from City Manager Phil Kamlarz, generated at the City Council’s behest, for cost-cutting by cutting down on a large percentage of Berkeley’s commission meetings. For example, he recommends that the Commission on Disabilities should meet only quarterly, instead of monthly, and that the Public Works Commission should meet only every other month. If adopted, this proposal would cause a dramatic change in Berkeley’s long and proud tradition of citizen participation in government.  

And how much money would this save? The report tallies the fiscal impacts of the recommendation as “saving staffing costs equivalent to two FTE positions.” No dollar figure is given, but for humor let’s just say that the staff positions eliminated are in the $100,000-plus category, a level enjoyed by more than 150 City of Berkeley staffers when benefits and overtime are factored in. And then let’s double that to account for overhead. Saved? A maximum of $400,000, and that’s if (a big if) the positions cut are at this top level. More likely, the staff time saved is not in the high price brackets, but in the $60K ranks, where savings would net out to around $300,000, or less than it costs to buy any house in Berkeley these days.  

The proposal is a classic example of being penny-wise and pound-foolish. Many of the volunteers who serve on city commissions, on their own time and without compensation, are better educated and better versed in their subject matter than city employees at any pay level, or than the average councilmember. The city benefits hugely from their contributions. 

Take the Public Works Commission as an example. The city staff and/or elected officials were ready to give away—free—the air rights for the University of California’s much-desired bridge over Hearst Street, until Public Works commissioners with legal training, on their own time and with no help from city legal staff, did legal research which showed that city ordinances regarding encroachment on city streets provide the city with a strong bargaining position vis à vis UC. If a deal can be made, this might easily translate into compensatory payments from UC to the city approaching the $300,000 which would be saved by axing commission meetings. (Some citizens, of course, would prefer no bridge at all, and their position is also bolstered by the research done by Public Works commissioners.) And that’s just one case. 

Jonathan Schell, in the April 25 issue of The Nation, has a chilling discussion of how the concept of civil society, which he calls “the international movement for democracy that brought down several dozen dictatorships of every possible description” is now threatened by what he calls “a shadow civil society”--a kind of false democracy which is starting to “merge … imperceptibly with the real one.” He calls out the fake “town meetings” staged for Bush as cases in point.  

At the local level, citizen participation in government is constantly at risk from similar impulses. Officials, both hired and elected, are all too ready to tell citizens in “town meetings” that “we feel your pain” without actually swerving in any way from their pre-conceived agenda. Ever-cynical observers have suggested that city staffers and some councilmembers have gleefully seized on budget problems as a good excuse for getting rid of a major source of irritation, mouthy commissions which don’t know their place. We won’t comment on this theory, except to say that it’s conceivable. 

But we do know that the current commission system allows about 400 Berkeleyans to participate in the process of governance at any one time, with a much larger number taking part in a five or 10-year period To give up the huge benefits to the civic culture and the civic pocketbook which this participation provides, in return for only two FTEs in financial savings, would, in the Biblical phrase, be trading our birthright for a mess of pottage. There are other ways for the city to save three or four hundred thousand dollars.