Full Text

Jakob Schiller: Pedal Express worker-owner Keeth Koler makes one of several deliveries on Shattuck Avenue Monday afternoon..
Jakob Schiller: Pedal Express worker-owner Keeth Koler makes one of several deliveries on Shattuck Avenue Monday afternoon..


Berkeley Cancels Pedal Express Contract Despite Protests By MATTHEW ARTZ

Tuesday May 03, 2005

A Berkeley-based bike messenger cooperative appears to be the latest organization to suffer from Berkeley’s budgetary woes. 

Hoping to save nearly $30,000 on its mailroom expenses, the city last month terminated its contract with Pedal Express to deliver inter-office mail to outlying city offices. The cooperative, formed in 1994 to haul packages up to 1,000 pounds, will continue to deliver commission packets for the city. 

Although the cut is miniscule compared to reductions scheduled for other organizations and programs as the city seeks to close an $8.9 million structural deficit, environmentalists, opposed to using cars for inter-office deliveries, have rallied behind the cooperative. 

“They’re not polluting the air and they’re not congesting the streets with cars,” said Marcy Greenhut of the city’s Transportation Commission. Councilmembers Linda Maio and Kriss Worthington have also both lobbied City Manager Phil Kamlarz to reconsider the cut. 

Facing a deficit in its mailroom fund of more than $30,000, Kamlarz said the city had no choice but to cut costs. “It was either going to be a mailroom person or Pedal Express,” he said. 

For Pedal Express the cut is potentially devastating. “We’re shrinking because of this,” said Barbara Murphy, a member of the five-person cooperative that counted on Berkeley inter-office deliveries for about a quarter of its business. Murphy added that Pedal Express also delivers inter-office mail for Emeryville and commission packets for Albany. 

One month before Berkeley terminated its contract, Pedal Express, at the city’s request, bid to run the city’s mailroom operations. Murphy said that the cooperative’s bids, which ran from $80,000 to $108,000, a year were rejected by the city in favor of keeping the mailroom staffed with city employees.  

Currently the mail clerk, classified as a Central Services Aide, makes roughly $40,000, according the city’s salary schedule posted on its website. There is also a half-time clerk at the mailroom. In the past year, Murphy said, Pedal Express had billed the city $26,000 to deliver inter-office mail to outlying offices. 

Kamlarz said the mailroom fund, funded by postage fees charged by the city to its departments, has been in the red for the past several years. “The costs are higher than they should be,” he said. 

Berkeley contracted with Pedal Express in 1994 to deliver commission packets. In 1998, when the city dispersed several of its departments while City Hall underwent a seismic retrofit, the cooperative began delivering interoffice mail. 

But with the consolidation of numerous departments into 1947 Center St. last year, Pedal Express has seen its business with the city decline, Murphy said. Until the city terminated its inter-office delivery contract last month, she said, Pedal Express delivered mail to outlying city offices like the Marina and corporation yard, while the city’s mail clerk delivered mail between downtown offices. 

Under the new system, the mail clerk, stationed at 1947 Center St., will deliver mail by car to outlying city offices. Kamlarz said he expected the mail clerk to deliver mail by foot to downtown offices, but Murphy said that has not been the standard practice. 

“He has always requested a car and has always received a car,” she said. “He even drives to the high school to pick up mail. We told the city that if they were going to be cutting Pedal Express, we’d like to see him have a less detrimental way of getting around.” 


Neighbors, ZAB Blast University Ave. Project By RICHARD BRENNEMAN

Tuesday May 03, 2005

They came. They saw. They scoffed. 

Zoning Adjustments Board members and neighbors had little good to say Thursday night about the Old Grove, a two-building, five-story 186-apartment complex proposed for the site of the mini-mall that now houses Kragen Auto Parts at 1695 University Ave. 

Berkeley developers Christopher Hudson and Evan McDonald presented their plans at a special preview session held before the regular ZAB meeting. It was their first appearance as independent developers following their split from the always controversial Patrick Kennedy.  

“You’ve exceeded the planning code in nine different areas, and I stopped counting the number of city policies the project doesn’t meet,” said ZAB member Bob Allen. “It would be a waste of your time to bring it to the Design Review Committee.” 

“Building A”—the larger of the two structures—“looks like a Ramada Inn,” said ZAB member Chris Tiedemann. Referring to comparisons provided by project neighbors with plans presented two years earlier, Tiedemann said “the new project looks like it’s on steroids.” 

“The design is overwhelming. It’s not going to work,” said ZAB member Dean Metzger. 

“We believe we can make it much more attractive,” Hudson said, “but we are not going to be constantly coming back to address the rules, which would become a circular process. The idea is to create class buildings that look like they’ve been around for a while.” 

Architect for the project is Kirk E. Peterson, whose best-known Berkeley designs were created for Kennedy’s Panoramic Interests—the Gaia Building at 2116 Allston Way and the Bachenheimer Building at 2119 University Ave. 

While his other two buildings might be taller, neither approaches the street front massing of the larger Old Grove building, which presents a block-long five-story frontage along Martin Luther King Jr. Way (formerly called Grove Street.) 

The smaller building, situated west of the main structure on Berkeley Way, reaches five stories at its apex, and residents of the residential street appeared at ZAB to complain that the structures would cast their homes into shadow.  


Parking Worries, Density 

Metzger said he was particularly worried about the plan’s inclusion of only 71 parking spaces in a complex with nearly 200 apartments and ground floor retail space as well. 

Further complicating the parking problems are city policies that will bar residents from applying for residential parking permits that would allow them to park on neighboring streets. 

Parking becomes even more problematic in light of the targeted residential population—working adults, and not the students who occupy the smaller units built by Hudson and McDonald during their long association with Kennedy. 

At the project’s inception, 1695 University Ave. was to have been another development of Kennedy’s Panoramic Interests, but the developer ceded the project to his former associates when they set out under their own flag. 

As with Kennedy’s projects, another lightning rod proved to be the city staff’s application of density bonus calculations in determining the mass and height of the project. 

“The density bonus has been abused,” said Metzger.  

“There’s a lot of disagreement among the board about the way the density bonus is being interpreted,” said Allen. “It does not state, in my opinion, that you can violate any and all zoning codes and still get two or three concessions—and you’ve asked for eight. I would like to see your project fit the spirit of the Berkeley zoning code and still get the most density bonus you can.” 

Member Rick Judd told the developers that “city staff has gone out of its way to be helpful to you.” 

Steve Wollmer and other neighbors have enlisted a powerful ally in their efforts to bring the project to more sedate dimensions. Oakland land use attorney Rena Rickles—who usually represents developers and builders—made the first of two Thursday evening appearances on the side of project critics. 

“We too would like to know the rules from the beginning, so that it doesn’t turn into an exhausting situation going from ZAB to the City Council and back,” Rickles said. “We’re very uncomfortable with the growth of the project,” noting that the average per unit size had grown by 20 percent from the last plans presented to ZAB. 

Rickles also challenged the city staff’s recommendation of reduced side yard setbacks along Berkeley Way. “The law is clear on its face and unambiguous, and not as recommended by city staff,” she said. 

Under plans endorsed by the staff, the smaller building would be built to within five feet of the Victorian home at 1838 Berkeley Way. 

Tom Hunt, whose home is just across the street from the project on Berkeley Way, voiced his concern for neighbors who live in the home. “This is a very large building up against a very small building. Their garden will be pretty much useless,” he said. Hunt also worried about shadows that will result in a loss of solar heat and light to his own home during the winter. 


Too Little Commercial? 

Wollmer also charged that the project violates city policy by limiting ground floor commercial use. “The city is losing sales tax revenue,” he said. ZAB member David Blake endorsed Wollmer’s concern. 

“It needs retail along MLK all the way to Berkeley Way,” said Chair Andy Katz. 

Rob Browning, an area resident with a small business on University in the same block, offered some historical perspective on the site, referring to its inspiration for Allen Ginsberg’s 1955 poem “A Supermarket in California,” written when a U-Save market stood on the spot, and Robert Bechtle’s choice of the locale for his 1971 painting “‘60 Chevy.” 

“Compared to this project, that lonely little strip mall begins to seem lovable,” Browning said. 

Peterson has styled himself a “19th Century” architect, but Hearst Avenue resident Travis Ritter said the project “wasn’t something Bernard Maybeck would have been happy to drive by.” Maybeck is Berkeley’s most celebrated turn-of-the-20th-Century architect. 

While no one opposed the project outright, and neighbors said they like the inclusion of apartments for low-income tenants, their key issues remained mass and parking. 

“Most people are still going to have cars, and the business customers will only exacerbate parking conditions, which are getting worse in this neighborhood,” said an Addison Street resident. 

Hillary Goldman, who lives on Grant Street, shared the parking worries. “I’m also concerned that you’re protégés of Patrick Kennedy,” she said. “I hope you’ll take this seriously.” 


Density Panel Formed 

The conversation kept coming back to the always thorny issue of the density bonus, which by city calculations allowed Hudson McDonald LLC a 35 percent bigger building for setting aside one fifth of their apartments for low-income tenants—raising the base project from 135 apartments by an additional 48. 

By the very end of Thursday night’s meeting at 1 a.m. Friday, ZAB members had voted to create a four member ad hoc subcommittee to look into the density bonus.›

Plaintiffs Finally Victorious in Third Pepper Spray Lawsuit By LYDIA GANS

Special to the Planet
Tuesday May 03, 2005

After two hung juries punctuated by appeals all the way up to the Supreme Court, the third “pepper spray trial” finally brought resolution, with a victory of sorts, for the plaintiffs.  

At issue in the two week trial which ended last Thursday in federal court in San Francisco was police use of pepper spray. The police in the case were the Humboldt county sheriffs and the Eureka police and the plaintiffs eight young people engaged in civil disobedience protesting excessive logging of ancient redwood trees in northern California. This time the jury was unanimous in finding for the plaintiffs that the police used excessive force, but it awarded them only $1.00 each in damages. Compensation for the attorneys involved in this and the earlier proceedings can be expected to be a long process of applications and appeals. 

The plaintiffs were represented by a brilliant and dedicated team of lawyers including dynamic Tony Serra and soft spoken, fatherly looking Dennis Cunningham. In his opening statement Cunningham presented the background of the case to the jury. He explained that Pacific Lumber Company had been operating in Humboldt County for many years, practicing sustainable logging and enjoying good relations with the community. Then, in 1991, they were bought out in a hostile takeover by Maxxam Corp., a Texas based company owned by Charles Hurwitz, who was already notorious for his involvement in the savings and loan scandal. The logging operation looked like a way to squeeze out badly needed cash to cover his debts. Defying established standards of logging, plaintiffs claimed, Maxxam Corp. caused devastating effects on the environment and felled ancient redwood trees. 

When environmental activists began to organize, supporters came up from the Bay Area and beyond to participate in increasingly frequent protests. One of the plaintiffs, Berkeley/Oakland environmentalist Terri Compost, described “people in tree sits, and big demonstrations where a thousand people crossed the line and got arrested, and letter writing campaigns, and people trying to close down gates and set up blockades of people locked together.” There were different ways in which protesters locked themselves together. One method used metal tubes which they put their arms into and locked together with a pin. They could remove the pin from the inside if they wanted to free themselves but to take the devices apart from the outside required using a grinder to cut them loose.  

This was the procedure used by the police in a number of lockdowns but then in 1997 they took a different approach. They dipped Q-tips into liquid pepper spray, rubbed it in the eyes of the protesters to force them to unlock themselves, and videotaped the whole scene. They did this on three occasions, declaring that grinding would have been dangerous under the circumstances, an assertion that the plaintiffs insisted was not justified. 

Sitting in the courtroom and watching a video of the victims sitting helplessly while police pulled their heads back by the hair and dabbed the chemical in their eyes over their screams of protest was a gruesome experience. The jurors were clearly shaken, and the plaintiffs, who had experienced it and then had to watch it in the two preceding trials, had to suffer through it once more. The video demonstrated the plaintiffs’ charge that the police were inflicting punishment on them while they were clearly engaged in peaceful protest and were no threat to anyone.  

There were plenty of alternative ways to handle the situation, testified an expert witness. Anthony Bouza had been a policeman all his life, culminating his career as chief of police in Minneapolis. Since he retired he has written books and served as expert witness on police procedures. He described what he saw as a “classic case of police brutality” and several times used the term “grotesque abuse”.  

The defense took the position that the character of the protesters and the nature of the cause were irrelevant. Said defense counsel Nancy Delaney, “It is the job of law enforcement officers, when a property owner asks, to remove trespassers. It has nothing to do with their cause.”  

The cause, of course, was what it was all about for the plaintiffs. Spring Lundgren, who was only 17 at the time of her action, testified to her dismay at seeing the environmental damage caused by Maxxam. She described logging of the giant redwoods as “history being cut down.” Inspired by reading about people who had engaged in acts of civil disobedience, she reflected the views of all the protesters who suffered the pepper spray rather then unlock themselves, determined that their voices be heard. 

To be heard was the reason for going to court once again. Terri Compost says that “there are two very strong messages that are involved in this case. One is about police brutality and torture and what’s acceptable behavior of one human being to another. The other is [about] habitat destruction, the destroying of the natural ecosystems that sustain life, and the corporations that are stealing our futures.” 

After the verdict the plaintiffs spoke of their appreciation for the jurors, recognizing how enormously difficult it is to get a unanimous decision in a case involving police conduct. Plaintiff Sam Neuwirth said, “I think the results might seem to some people to lack enough punch because there were no damages but I thought about it a lot and realized how extraordinarily difficult it was for some of the jurors to swallow the fact that the police had been abusive.”  

Attorney Bob Bloom spoke for the lawyers when he explained to me that “it’s real hard to get every person in a group, in this case a group of eight jurors, to say that the police did the wrong thing. And in order to get to that point they had to compromise, it seems, on how much money the people would get. That’s what juries do all the time.” He is satisfied, he said. “This is a jury saying that this is excessive force. ... it’s not just Humboldt county (that) can’t do this. They can’t do this anywhere in the country.”  

‘Flying Cottage’ Approval Near By RICHARD BRENNEMAN

Tuesday May 03, 2005

South Berkeley’s “Flying Cottage,” the controversial three-story pop-up at 3045 Shattuck Ave., seems to be headed for a soft landing—with only a question of parking yet to be decided. 

City planning department officials told Zoning Adjustments Board members that they’ve have withdrawn their objections to owner Christine Sun’s building. 

Though neighbors were less than happy, Senior Planner Debbie Sanderson said the only issue remaining was whether or not Sun had remedied the nuisance issues that had halted the development last year. 

A court case had left the structure in limbo, a weathering and blue-shrouded hulk dominating the intersection of Shattuck and Emerson Street. 

Project foes sat patiently throughout Thursday’s seven-hour ZAB meeting, waiting their turn—which finally arrived around midnight. Architect Andus Brandt, representing Sun, bided his time buried in a black-jacketed book, The Assassinations. 

Sanderson said ZAB had no say over the design, nor of Sun’s right to build a three-story structure. 

Although Sun’s is the only full three-story building on Shattuck south of Ashby, Planning Manager Mark Rhoades said that because of the commercial zoning along the thoroughfare, any owner was entitled to build to that height. 

The nuisance issue revolved around Sun’s intended use for the building.  

“The staff issue was whether it was going to be used for a single-family group accommodation,” a status inferred from the first set of plans presented to the city. 

The new design calls for two separate apartments, one each on the second and third floors, with a ground floor restaurant. 

“It seems that the real current nuisance issue is not what has been done in the past or what may be done in the future, but that the building now sits unoccupied,” open to squatters and facing other hazards, said Brandt. 

Robert Lauriston, presenting a coalition of neighborhood residents, said two key issues had been raised: Whether the structure remains a nuisance and whether a use permit should be required for the additional height. 

“If you accept that three stories are allowed by right, you can expect it all along Shattuck and it was radically change the character of the existing neighborhoods,” he said. 

Despite the revised design, Lauriston said neighbors “are still concerned that Sun will use it as a group living accommodation.” 

Denise Brown, a dean of students at Berkeley High School, told ZAB that she lives “directly behind this monstrosity, which has taken away all light, sunshine and air” from her home. 

“The windows look directly down on my living room and my daughter’s bedroom. It’s truly a nuisance,” she said. 

Brown’s daughter, Sarah Real, told board members that she would be particularly uncomfortable about opening her bedroom drapes because the building’s two parking spaces were directly outside her bedroom. 

“This building towers hideously above the surrounding homes,” said Victoria Ortiz, who lives two doors south of the structure on Shattuck. 

“ZAB must not be swayed by the Planning Department, which once again supports a project detested by the neighbors who live around it,” she said. 

ZAB member Robert Allen said he was “very uncomfortable about approving a third story” which, while allowed by the zoning code, was obtained “by illegal means. I really don’t like voting on technicalities while we’re essentially saying the third floor is okay.” 

“My problem is that we can’t talk about design,” said member Dean Metzger, who added, “I still think it’s a nuisance.” 

ZAB members were also concerned about parking for the ground floor restaurant. 

While Brandt contended that by keeping the ground floor commercial square footage under 1150 square feet Sun was exempt from the need for off-street parking, that drew fire from Oakland attorney Rena Rickles, who appeared on behalf of the neighbors.  

“She’s already said it’s going to be a cafe, and cafes require three parking spaces. Where are they going to be?” asked the lawyer. 

“Arguing about parking proves the nuisance has been abated,” Brandt declared. “Staff guided us in the interpretation that they made allowing parking in the rear yard.” 

Rickles also pointed to the remaining 400 square foot ground floor space next to the restaurant which was marked on plans for tenant storage. 

The lawyer suggested that the space might actually be used by the restaurant, which would boost the restaurant’s square footage over Brandt’s no-parking-space limit as well. 

Rickles also noted that Brandt’s earlier plans had included a garage in the ground floor area instead of storage. “The applicant has destroyed parking space and then says ‘trust me’ about the 400 square feet.” 

Real’s concerns and Rickles’ conjectures clearly struck home with several ZAB members, and it was David Blake who moved to continue the hearing under May 12 with the proviso that Sun should find two off-street parking space near the project she could rent in perpetuity. 

“She has been waiting a long time,” Brandt responded, “and there’s not a simple answer. “She has been characterized as a horrible person,” he said while insisting she’s not.›

Academics, Community Teach on Torture, Look for Answers By JUDITH SCHERR

Special to the Planet
Tuesday May 03, 2005

Electro-shock, unmuzzled dogs, extreme temperatures, sexual humiliation, sodomy—U.S. torture didn’t begin or end with the abuse portrayed in shocking photographs coming out of Abu Ghraib one year ago, nor has U.S. torture been restricted to prisons on foreign soil, according to speakers at Thursday’s Teach-in on Torture, sponsored by UC Berkeley’s Ethnic Studies, Asian Studies and Peace and Conflict Studies departments.  

“The America of my imagination seems to have turned into a nightmare,” L. Ling-chi Wang, associate professor in the Ethnic Studies Department, told an audience of about 50 people at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre in downtown Berkeley. “I see neither courage nor outrage in the halls of congress. I’ve seen no serious investigation into these practices. I’ve seen cover-ups, contempt for laws. I see hopelessness, helplessness among my colleagues.”  

Wang’s profound disappointment in the country where he chose to become a citizen more than three decades ago has not sapped his will to fight back. He co-coordinated the teach-in with Dr. Mark Sapir, a local physician, that began with a rally in the rain at Sproul Plaza.  

U.S. responsibility for torture didn’t start in Abu Ghraib, in Afghanistan or Guantanamo, Carlos Mauricio told the 60 or so gathered under umbrellas. Tortured in his native El Salvador in the early 1980s, Mauricio said his captors were instructed in torture methods at the School of the Americas in Fort Benning, Ga. He said his torture was similar to that endured by U.S. prisoners today.  

Torture at home was a theme repeated in afternoon and evening presentations and discussions. Erin Callahan, Western Regional director for Amnesty International, talked about police and prison guard abuse, citing Taser-gun deaths of a 4-year-old boy and 71-year old grandmother, sexual abuse of women locked up in U.S. prisons, and beatings and “locking up children 23-hours a day in the California Youth Authority.”  

On a similar note, Andrea Pritchett of Berkeley’s Copwatch said police abuse paved the way for acceptance of torture in Abu Ghraib. Instead of using dialogue, conversation and tactics of de-escalation, local police use pepper spray, the Taser gun and “pain compliance,” she said.  

The photos coming from Abu Ghraib were important in jarring officials and the public out of denial, just as the video of the Rodney King beating had done. However, just as police abuse was not confined to King, prisoner abuse did not begin and end in Abu Ghraib.  

Before Abu Ghraib, much documentation was submitted to the Bush administration and ignored, said Marjorie Cohn, National Lawyers Guild vice president. Documentation has come from Amnesty International, the International Red Cross, the UN Human Rights Commission and from the FBI itself.  

“In August, 2003, Rumsfeld approved physical coercion,” Cohn said.  

Instead of looking seriously into the allegations that abuse was ordered by the highest levels of government, low-level soldiers have been tried and convicted.  

“Human Rights Watch said Abu Ghraib was just the tip of the iceberg; it was not Lynndie England who authorized the use of guard dogs to terrorize the prisoners,” Cohn said. Still, England pled guilty to various charges and fellow soldier Charles Graner was convicted. This has reinforced the notion that the abuse was committed by a “few bad apples.”  

Hatem Bazian, lecturer in UC Berkeley’s Ethnic Studies Department, said that’s not possible. Do you mean to say that the low-ranking officers at Abu Ghraib were doing this on their own, he asked rhetorically. Do you mean that “no one in the U.S. government knew that torture was taking place… that the president and (Secretary of Defense Donald) Rumsfeld didn’t know it was taking place? This is the ultimate level of hypocrisy. It’s time to come clean. If I give you a weapon, I am responsible.”  

Human Rights First, a group formerly known as the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, and the ACLU hope to hold higher-ups accountable and have filed lawsuits targeting Rumsfeld and others.  

Evidence includes 23,000 pages plaintiffs received through the Freedom of Information Act, even including evidence that “the FBI was complaining about torture in Guantanamo,” said Lucas Guttentag, lead lawyer in the suit, being brought on behalf of eight men alleging torture and abuse when they were imprisoned in Iraq and Afghanistan under Rumsfeld’s command. None of the eight, now released, were charged with a crime.  

The suit says Rumsfeld “authorized an abandonment of our nation’s inviolable and deep-rooted prohibition against torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment of detainees in U.S. military custody” and further charges that brutal and illegal interrogation techniques were personally approved by him.  

The lawsuit is based on prohibitions against torture in the Geneva Conventions and federal law. “Aside from international law, the constitution prohibits cruel and unusual punishment,” Guttentag said, also noting that the procedures were “in direct contraction to the Army Field Manual on interrogation,” which specifies prohibitions against food deprivation, electric shock and beating prisoners.  

“The U.S. has become the outlaw. We told other countries to abandon torture; now we are the perpetrators,” Guttentag said.  

Beyond lawsuits, the solution lies in communities working together to get the truth out.  

“The truth gets twisted so that we think we’re alone; people are molded into this ‘good German syndrome;’ they don’t know what to do,” Mark Sapir said.  

Participants shared thoughts on solutions:  

• Get city councils to pass resolutions against torture, as the SF Board of Supervisors did.  

• Take actions against corporations involved in torture, such as CACI (Consolidated Analysis Center) International which provided interrogators at Abu Ghraib.  

• Support legislation to suspend operation of the School of the Americas: HR1217.  

• Find community alternatives to police.  

• Join activists in the International Human Rights Initiative that sponsored the recent Attica to Abu Ghraib conference.  

Wang was disappointed but not daunted when he looked at the empty seats in the auditorium – only 120 or so people had come through the teach-in during the day. Still, he said he was going to continue to work with the 100 professors who had signed onto the call for the teach-in. They would meet and plan university courses on torture and its effects.  

Earlier in the day on campus, Ming Yang, third year engineering student, stood by an Asian Student Association table and chatted with friends while the rally took place about 100 yards away. Asked if he knew what it was about, Yang said he’d heard the word democracy a couple of times. “I don’t know if it’s pro or counter,” he said. “There are a bunch of rallies – I feel apathetic because they happen so often.”  

Yang had missed what Hatem Bazian said just moments before from the steps of Sproul Plaza: “You can’t check out; you can’t say, ‘I’m studying.’ You might be in Guantanamo; the degree you earn may not be worth anything. The university is part of the real world….We need to launch a challenge to this government.”  

Rap Legends Push Personal Responsibility at Laney Conference By J. DOUGLAS ALLEN-TAYLOR

Tuesday May 03, 2005

For those whose exposure to hip hop and rap is the occasional video seen while flipping channels, or a gold-toothed face on a magazine at the supermarket checkout counter, the scene at Laney College this weekend would have been unrecognizable. Two rap legends showed up at the third annual Malcolm X Consciousness Conference with no entourages in sight, and an emphasis on think-think rather than bling-bling. 

Speaking in keynote addresses were Chuck D of the legendary Public Enemy and South Central LA’s Yo Yo, one of the first nationally recognized female rappers. Also speaking was Fred Hampton Jr., the son of the Black Panther Party leader killed by Chicago police in 1969. 

Bringing together black student activists from around California to trade ideas on a statewide program, the three-day event was sponsored by Club Knowledge, a four year old Laney-based African-American student organization, and was held to further the group’s goals of setting up a statewide coalition of Black student unions. 

With tracks like “Fight The Power,” “Fear Of A Black Planet,” and “Don’t Believe The Hype,” Chuck D’s Public Enemy is considered one of the founders of the consciousness-knowledge wing of the rap world, far different from its party wing or gangsta’ rap. In a rambling, two hour address on Sunday morning, Chuck D told conference participants his views on everything from personal responsibility to movement activism to the history of hip hop, as well as acknowledging Oakland’s Black Panther Party as one of the inspirations of his political thought. 

A good portion of his speech took dead aim against the violence plaguing black communities across the country, blaming, in part, the glorification of that violence by some hip hop artists and the people promoting them. “I was listening to a radio show,” he said “where the deejay was interviewing 50 Cent and the Game”—two popular gangsta’ rappers”—and making a joke about the number of their exit wounds. ‘So you been shot nine times, 50, and Game, you been shot only five. When you gonna’ catch up?’” He said that law enforcement officials investigate the deaths of hip hop artists with less vigor than the deaths of other celebrities, noting that “They tracked down [Donatella] Versace’s killer on a boat in the ocean, but they still haven’t found out who murdered Biggie [Smalls] and Tupac and Jam Master Jay [of Run DMC].” He also spoke on how the increasing violence in African-American communities is slowly squeezing out a grassroots intelligent response to Black America’s problems. 

“Twenty years ago, you had gang-bangers and athletes and college students hanging out together on the corners or in barber shops in the ‘hood,” he said, “and if somebody said something really ignorant—like ‘the sky is purple,’ or something like that—everybody would tell him to shut up. And if he got belligerent, he might even get an asswhipping. But nowadays, if someone says something ignorant on the corner, all the smart people shut up and don’t challenge him, because they’re afraid he might go to his car and come back with a 9 millimeter and wipe out the corner. So in the black neighborhoods, ignorance is allowed to go unchallenged, while intelligence has to keep quieter and quieter. That’s one of the reasons why you’re seeing so much ignorance coming out of our communities.” 

Chuck D said that growing up in Long Island, New York in 1968, he participated in the Free Breakfast Program sponsored by the Black Panther Party, and said that “I love Oakland because Oakland has gone against the grain so long.” He said the he was “fortunate to meet Huey P. Newton when he came to a Public Enemy show” in the Bay Area, and was in the midst of making preliminary arrangements for an association with Newton when the Black Panther Party founder was killed in West Oakland in 1989. 

But mostly, the rap artist, producer, and activist preached the politics of personal responsibility to the conference participants, urging them to get involved in local politics. “Instead of complaining about the lack of education or black youth getting thrown into jail, you better understand who’s on your school board or how your judges get elected,” he said. “Voting is as essential as washing your ass in the morning. It’s something you’re supposed to do. You shouldn’t get props for it. You should just do it.” 

Personal responsibility was also the Saturday afternoon message of Yolanda Whitaker, the 34-year-old rap artist who, at the age of 17 under the stage name Yo Yo, was doing rap-battles with NWA’s Ice Cube. 

“Back in the day, people were always asking Ice Cube if he was a role model and he’d say ‘no, that’s the parents’ responsibility,” Whitaker said. “When I was 18 I was saying the same thing.” She said that changed in the mid-90s when she realized that young black women were taking literally the famous lyrical suggestion—from the rapper’s 1991 track “You Can’t Play With My Yo Yo”—that they “carry gats [guns] in their purses.” Whitaker also gave props to Los Angeles-area Congressmember Maxine Waters, “who took an interest in hip hop artists, pulled us to the side, and educated us. She took us seriously. I love her to death.” Whitaker says she has since formed a group called the Intelligent Black Women’s Coalition, and is active in promoting positive changes in the South Central Los Angeles neighborhood where she grew up. She called upon participants to take responsibility for hip hop and its influence on the African-American community. “Hip hop is our culture. We can’t let them take our culture away from us,” she said. She urged participants to “contact radio and television stations to influence the types of songs and videos they play. Make them promote the positive aspects of hip hop.” 

Club Knowledge member Danae Martinez, a graduating Laney College student, said that the purpose of the organization “is to raise consciousness among African-American students.” She said the organization was founded on the Oakland campus four years ago, but has since “spread out to other colleges in the state as students have graduated and moved on.” The purpose of this weekend’s conference was to bring black student union members together from around the state “to unite around a common program,” and said that representatives came from as far away as Humboldt and Fullerton. She said that in the fall, the organization plans to convene a statewide meeting to work on a formal California coalition of black student unions.›

ZAB Resolves Marin Ave. Views, University Ave. Condo Units By RICHARD BRENNEMAN

Tuesday May 03, 2005

Barring further appeals, the long-running battle that has pitted neighbors against would-be neighbors in a contest over views from the Berkeley hills has come to an end. 

Zoning Adjustments Board members voted their own amendments Thursday to plans for the single-family residence David and Kelly Klopp Richmond hope to build at 2615 Marin Ave., a half block west of Grizzly Peak Boulevard. 

Over the course of the long-running dispute, said their attorney Rena Rickles, the Richmonds submitted several plan revisions but were unable to reach a compromise with neighbors, especially George and Daphne Kalmar, owners of a home at 2635 Marin, and Matthew White, who owns a house at 2633 Marin. 

The ensuing struggle employed more lawyers, a surveying firm and endless hours of city staff time and the efforts of both ZAB and the City Council. 

The project was back on the ZAB agenda Thursday on a remand from the council, who had rejected an earlier ZAB compromise reached last August, ruling against city staff recommendations, that had been appealed by the neighbors. 

The neighbors were concerned that the home would block their views of the Golden Gate Bridge, a point that had found considerable sympathy from Mayor Tom Bates when they appealed the earlier ZAB ruling to the city council. 

The council set two conditions in remanding the project back to ZAB, said planner Stephen Ford. First, the Richmonds couldn’t add additional height to the building in the future without an additional use permit, and second, that the upper story deck couldn’t be enclosed without yet another permit. 

The council also recommended dropping the roof height by another foot. 

The home’s third level is parking, dug into the hillside below the two residential levels. 

Further complicating the issue was the avowed intention of yet another neighbor to add height to a home that could largely obliterate the views from the Richmonds’ home. 

“It’s time to say enough is enough,” declared ZAB member Bob Allen. “I absolutely disagree with the mayor’s statement that we’re here to protect the views of people who were here first.” 

Allen noted that the lot the Richmonds bought had been vacant for years, available to neighbors who could have bought it to preserve their existing views. 

“These people have every right to build,” Allen said. “The Kalmars will still have a spectacular view, and most people in the city would be glad to have it.” 

Member Chris Tiedemann noted that ZAB had initially approved a roofline three feet higher than the one rejected by the city council, “but we have to respect the council remand.” In light of the council’s intention to protect Golden Gate views, she said, “the house has to be lowered.” 

“I think it was fair before,” said member Jesse Anthony. 

“The ordinance is always interpreted to protect the existing landowners’ views,” said member Dave Blake. “It’s an unfair ordinance, but that doesn’t give us the right to ignore it.” 

“Reasonable development on this lot means a reasonable view,” said member Rick Judd. “If they sink the house into the hillside, the Richmonds will lose their views faster than their uphill neighbors because their downhill neighbors have already announced their intent to build up.” 

While Chair Andy Katz said he would vote against dropping the height of the Richmonds’ home by a foot, when it came time for a vote he reversed his stand. 

In the end, ZAB voted for a permit that required a one-foot reduction in height, restrictions of future development on the front and rear of the structure and mandated a permit for any expansion in square footage, despite a city ordinance that allows homeowners a single by-right expansion of up to 499 square feet without a permit. 

When it came time for a vote, only members Blake, Carrie Sprague and Tiedemann voted no. 


Other Actions 

ZAB members voted unanimously to allow homeowner Bruce Nordmann to add two bedrooms onto his residence at 1737 Grant St. 

While the addition had sparked a lengthy discussion of by-right additions at the last ZAB meeting, the issue didn’t arise during discussions Thursday. And when the dust had settled, Nordmann was granted his addition by a unanimous vote, despite an appearance by City Councilmember Linda Maio, who owns an adjoining home. 

The thorny density bonus issue reared its ugly head during a discussion of the five-story residential condo and commercial complex planned for the site of the former Tune-Up Masters at 1698 University Ave. 

After ZAB had approved the project for 23 units, city staff completed a new density bonus analysis that entitled developer Avi Nevo’s Pacific Bay Investments to two more units. 

ZAB member Rick Judd asked fellow members to approve the two units, partly on the grounds that delays while the issue was resolved had resulted in higher construction costs as the price of materials rose. 

Member Chris Tiedemann endorsed Judd’s proposal. 

Dean Metzger said he was concerned with just how “affordable” condos would be that were priced for a “low income rate” of 120 percent of area median income (AMI) for a family of four. 

As finally approved over the dissenting votes of Metzger and Carrie Sprague, the project will include three condos available at 120 percent AMI and one at 90 percent.I

Berkeley Commemorates Holocaust 60th Anniversary By MATTHEW ARTZ

Tuesday May 03, 2005

Commemorating the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Nazi Germany death camps, Berkeley will hold its third annual ceremony Friday to honor Holocaust Remembrance Day. 

This year’s featured speaker is Dora Sorrell, an Auschwitz survivor and Berkeley resident. Sorrel was born in Sighet, a village in Northern Romania. In 1944 the occupying Hungarian Fascist regime deported the entire Jewish population of the town to Auschwitz, where most of her family were murdered immediately.  

Sorrell and other inmates at Auschwitz were liberated on May 6, 1945, exactly 60 years before Friday’s commemoration. 

Recalling the day the Red Army entered Auschwitz, Sorrell has written, “It was a day of intense relief and strong emotions after all that hell…I wrote of my joy and happiness at living to see freedom and I cried out as I remembered what happened a year earlier and wondered who would be home waiting for me.” 

Shortly after her liberation, Sorrell returned to Romania. Later, she graduated from medical school, and ultimately immigrated to New York. Upon retirement, She wrote Tell the Children: Letters to Miriam, a book in the form of letters to her first granddaughter about her family, her experiences during the war and her losses from the Holocaust. 

Sorrell received national attention last year when she donated the $3,043 reparation check she received from the German government to aid refugees from the Darfur region of western Sudan. 

Also speaking Friday will be Liz Rosner, a Berkeley resident and the author of Speed of Light, a novel that addresses the effects of the Holocaust on the descendants of survivors. 

Patricia Whaley, a holocaust survivor and the principal viola for Symphony Silicon Valley, will provide music. 

Mayor Tom Bates will give the opening remarks, and Councilmember Kriss Worthington, who helped organize the event, will be in attendance. 

The commemoration will be held at noon in the City Council Chambers, 2134 Martin Luther King Jr. Way.

Police Review Commission Rules Against Protest Honker By MATTHEW ARTZ

Tuesday May 03, 2005

A Berkeley police lieutenant who ordered officers to ticket motorists who honked in support of a late night union rally last summer did not abuse his discretion, a three-member panel of the Police Review Commission ruled Thursday. 

“It was an ungodly time of the night,” reasoned PRC Commissioner William White, a member of the panel that received several letters from neighbors praising the police action. “The police weren’t trying to stifle freedom of expression, they were just trying to keep the peace.” 

The plaintiff, Carol Harris, a 51-year-old Oakland woman who received a $143 ticket for unreasonable use of horn, said she was not disappointed by the verdict. 

“I wasn’t trying to be Joan of Arc,” she said. “I just needed to sit down with these people and talk to them and have my questions answered.” 

Harris was one of nearly 40 motorists police ticketed after 11 p.m. last Aug. 27. Lt. Wesley Hester has maintained that he ordered police to enforce the state vehicle code on honking in response to neighborhood complaints about noise from a union protest outside the Claremont Hotel that lasted 27-hours. 

The law permits drivers to honk their horns only to protect their safety. 

PRC commissioners said the late hour of the honking incidents led them to conclude that Hester had not abused his discretion. 

“If this had been between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. I probably would have taken a completely different view of it,” said PRC Commissioner and retired prosecutor Jack Radisch. “People in that area were complaining bitterly. Someone in a command position had to do something about it.” 

Nevertheless, Radisch did sympathize for Harris. “If I were in her position, I probably would have thought that it was a chickenshit ticket.”  

Harris, who chose not to fight the ticket in traffic court, maintained that her free speech rights had been violated. “I believe I became a protester when I honked my horn,” she said. 

Asked what she would do the next time, she drove by a protest in Berkeley she replied, “I don’t know. I’ll have to cross that bridge when I come to it.”›

Synagogue and Neighbors Spar Again Over Parking By MATTHEW ARTZ

Tuesday May 03, 2005

Just months before its new synagogue is set to debut, another rift has opened between Berkeley’s largest Jewish congregation and its soon-to-be neighbors. 

The Live Oak Codornices Creek Neighborhood Association has threatened to seek city intervention or possibly file a lawsuit should Congregation Beth-El implement its parking management plan. 

Neighbors insist the congregation’s latest proposal would make finding an on-street parking spot nearly impossible on days when the congregation is hosting an event. 

“Our opinion is that they haven’t met the terms of the agreement,” said LOCCNA member Alan Gould, referring to parking regulations spelled out in the congregation’s use permit. “If the terms have not been met the city shouldn’t allow them to occupy the building.” 

Harry Pollack, a congregation member and chair of Berkeley’s Planning Commission, said Beth-El’s parking plan abided by the conditions of the use permit, but that the congregation was open to further neighborhood input. 

Pollack was a leading player in the roughly 600-member congregation’s three-year struggle to overcome opposition to their move from their current home at the corner of Arch and Vine streets to 1301 Oxford St. The landmarked property was once the site of the Napoleon Bonaparte Byrne house, which burned down in 1985. Byrne’s farm in the mid-19th century was home to freed slaves who may have been Berkeley’s first African-American residents.  

Opponents charged that the 34,000 square foot synagogue and its proposed 32-space parking lot resting over a creek bed would increase traffic in a residential neighborhood and eliminate any hope of unearthing that section of Codornices Creek. An eleventh-hour settlement that moved the parking lot and scaled down the synagogue spared the City Council from having to rule on the project. 

The compromise was a parking plan requiring that for events of 150 people or more the congregation must employ “on-site valet parking and satellite parking or other effective techniques.” Beth-El’s latest draft parking plan, however, does not mention valet parking and proposes satellite lots only for events with more than 200 people. Also of concern to neighbors is that the congregation’s plan does not employ satellite lots for “religious services,” but would not specify what constitutes such a service. 

“That is completely outrageous,” Gould said. “There are very few things that they do there that could not be construed as a religious service. It is a synagogue.” 

He added that that the neighborhood’s biggest concerns were bar mitzvahs, because they happen frequently and tend to draw a lot of people. 

Pollack, saying the parking issue was premature for print considering that the synagogue isn’t scheduled to open until this summer, declined to discuss specifics of the plan with the Daily Planet, including the definition of a religious service. 

He noted that the project’s environmental impact report showed that contrary to the opinion of some residents, neighborhood streets were not filled with parked cars and wouldn’t be after the synagogue opens. 

Gould did credit the congregation for rehabilitating the section of Codornices Creek that runs through its new property. 

The congregation is already facing litigation from its new next-door neighbor, Dan McLoughlin. He filed suit last September charging that the congregation violated an agreement to keep the new building at least 20 feet from his property line. 

McLoughlin said a judge denied his motion for an injunction against the building project, but that he was proceding with the lawsuit. “They’re trying to wear me down, but I’m not going to let them do that,” he said.›


Tuesday May 03, 2005

A participant in last Tuesday’s rally of City of Berkeley union employees has informed the Daily Planet that some employees attended during their regular break time, and that her division staggered attendance in order to keep their desks covered.  

A Planet photo caption said that employees took time off to attend.?

Letters to the Editor

Tuesday May 03, 2005


Editors, Daily Planet:  

Zelda Bronstein (“Downtown Parking: Myths, Realities, Solutions,” April 26-28) raises several pertinent points regarding Berkeley’s downtown parking situation. 

For one, Ms. Bronstein notes that studies made since the closure of Hink’s garage show that the Center Garage—except for weekdays between noon and 3 p.m.—offers ample parking. Well, yes. Peak hours can be expected in any commercial area. But the difficulty of parking in downtown Berkeley during this prime period particularly affects restaurants which rely in part on lunchtime business. Lack of parking is a prime reason for people with their tax dollar revenues to go where they can easily find it for free without a long walk to their destination. (Let’s save the walking-for-health issue for another discussion.) The Albany portion of Solano Avenue and El Cerrito Plaza are nearby oases. (And, to mix problems here, both are noticeably more pleasant than downtown Berkeley with its entrenched dirt and degradation. Why should anyone endure parking hassles and costs when more attractive places are readily available? In fact, why, at this point when there is little that is unique or special in downtown Berkeley, make any effort to get there by any means—automobile or transit?) 

Ms. Bronstein is to be thanked for divulging the little-known fact that the first 15 minutes in Center Garage are still free. But, for too many people, 15 minutes to search for a parking space, walk to their destination, conduct business, return to and exit the garage is a virtual impossibility. Increasing the free period to 30 minutes would provide a realistic option. Even the reduced $1.50 rate for the first 60 minutes is not much incentive to shop, attend meetings, or dine in the downtown when many of these activities require more time. The 90-minute allowance that Ms. Bronstein suggested for curb parking would be helpful in Center Garage for the first 90 minutes at a reduced rate. 

Beyond the concerns that Ms. Bronstein addressed, there is another, more intransigent problem with Center Garage—namely, safety. Regardless of the time of day, the garage simply feels unsafe. With its dim lighting the garage is conducive to physical attacks. No restriction is placed on pedestrian entry; anyone can enter unseen from two streets, lie in wait, and assault even alert people. Further, the narrow driving lane provided for cars makes it hazardous to walk between one’s car and the exits. Drivers entering and leaving the ramps tend to swing wide and leave pedestrians little safe area. Often, steep steps or ramps must be used to reach an elevator. Yet not everyone can easily negotiate steps; walking on these ramps is risky and rightly discouraged. For safety reasons alone, Center Garage, regardless of available spaces, is not an option. 

In too many ways, downtown now is neither a desirable place to park nor, sadly, to be. 

Barbara Witte 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The new calming circles, recently constructed on Allston Way and Addison Street, are a menace to life and limb. They are a peculiarity, unfamiliar especially to out of town drivers, which will cause crashes and pedestrian deaths and injuries. There has already been one crash into someone’s front lawn at Allston and Grant. 

The pedestrian markings, many octagonal, invite pedestrians who are interested in crossing across and side-to-side to remain in the street rather than going from corner to corner, making them vulnerable to injury by vehicles. On Addison, one calming circle has crosswalks on three sides, and a limit line on the fourth side. The limit line invites the pedestrian to stay inside it. The same limit line is an outer limit for cars traveling south to north. This is a sure invitation to a vehicle-to-pedestrian close encounter! Other crosswalks associated with the calming circles invite pedestrians to walk into unpaved planted areas, telephone poles, and a mail box. 

The newly erected pictograms on how to drive, while intelligible upon reflection, will provide little help to motorists who suddenly encounter these obstacles. Careful examination of the calming circles’ edges already show wheel scrapes indicating near disasters. 

Rip them all out now, or watch these pages for the fatal consequences of this misbegotten disimprovement.  

Robert Rush 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The recent celebration of the golden anniversary of the Salk oral vaccine should have been a realization of the failures of the past. There should be no celebration, only self-reflection and  commitment not to make the same mistakes once again. 

In 1987, Eva Snead, M.D. documented the Salk vaccine as being the indirect cause of AIDS in her report “AIDS-Immunization Related Syndrome.”  The African green monkeys used to develop the Salk vaccine were, in fact, contaminated with a virus called SV-40; a virus that went undetected.  SV-40 was then easily transmitted to  humans on a wide scale (Immunization: The Reality behind The Myth, Walene James, 1988). For those of us with already weakened immunity, SV-40 mutated into HIV, AIDS, leukemia, birth defects and more. 

Furthermore, if we look at the bell curve of all epidemic disease, we see that after reaching epidemic levels, they naturally fall on their own. Vaccinations are usually introduced during the height of an epidemic and as the numbers go down, we celebrate our actions and victories. This is the sad truth of the fallacy of the Salk vaccine. 

Michael Bauce 



Editors, Daily Planet: 

Regarding your editorial April 29 “Electing A Pig In A Poke,” I disagree with your contention that Mayor Bates doesn’t have his priorities straight. During his administration I have attended many council meetings that have disability-related issues on the agenda. Each time, Mayor Bates and the council have heard the item early in the evening, respecting individuals’ mobility and public transportation needs. He has also been sensitive to school night schedules when agenda items relate to children and youth.  

As for electing individuals who you believe will always vote in the public interest—how would that be possible? Usually there are competing interests among the electorate (including between individuals who are often on the same side) on any given issue. Someone’s going to be disappointed. The dialog about Terry Schiavo’s fate is a good example.  

Susan Henderson 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Most Berkeleyans familiar with City Hall these days know that the Daily Planet editorial maligning Mayor Tom Bates is way off the mark. 

Few elected officials have dedicated as much time and energy to serving the disability community as Tom Bates has while in the Assembly and now at City Hall. 

He has been instrumental in making the Ed Roberts Campus, a socially progressive development dedicated to promoting independence for people with disabilities, a reality. Most recently, Mayor Bates helped the Ed Roberts Campus fend off a last-ditch effort by project opponents to derail the campus in the name of historic preservation. 

Further, over the past few years when members of the disability community have had an issue before the City Council, Mayor Bates has always shown great sensitivity to those of us who rely on public transportation by requesting himself to move our items up early in the agenda to ensure the widest participation by our community. 

We know that Tom Bates puts people first. 

Jan Garrett 

President, Ed Roberts Campus 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Your April 29 editorial raises once again the issue of whom politicians represent: the voters or their donors. In the last election Berkeley voters turned down a “clean money” proposal for public funding of elections. Perhaps the next time around voters will appreciate that “even in Berkeley” politicians can be influenced by money—and it’s better to pay campaign costs with our money than theirs. The cost per voter—about the same as going to the movies—would be an investment in democracy well worth the price. 

Tom Miller 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

We find Becky O’Malley’s most recent editorial (“Electing a Pig in a Poke”) very off-the-mark. After discussing casinos, gambling and other off the subject issues the editorial then becomes an attack on Mayor Tom Bates declaring him a non-progressive because he and six other members of the Council voted to overturn the landmarking of Celia’s restaurant building.  

Three years ago, we joined with other progressives in the effort to draft Tom Bates to run for mayor of Berkeley. We feel that Berkeley is fortunate to have Tom as our Mayor and are pleased that he is putting his skills and energy to work on behalf of our city. If the Daily Planet wants to discuss Mayor Bates’ progressive credentials, it needs to addresses his record and votes on a range of social, environmental, and youth initiatives.  

Here are just a few of Mayor Bates’ accomplishments that have made us feel proud that he is Berkeley’s Mayor:  

• Project BUILD. A summer literacy and nutrition program for 1000 south and west Berkeley youth was started by Mayor Bates. Due to the city’s budget deficit, he is raising the nearly $100,000 cost of the program with private donations of money and materials.  

• Funding for Child Care Centers. When the state budget crisis cut off funding to the child care centers in Berkeley that serve low-income families, Mayor Bates guaranteed city funding until the state money was restored. This saved hundreds of Berkeley parents from having to choose between their jobs or taking care of their kids.  

• Because of Berkeley’s impressive commitment to services for youth, a major foundation named our city the best in the state when it comes to teen health.  

• Homeless Programs. Mayor Bates made good on his campaign promise, and spent 24 hours “homeless” on the streets of Berkeley. Since then, he has worked to improve homeless services, coordinate services with neighboring cities, and move funding into long-term housing and case management programs.  

• Environmental Programs. Mayor Bates initiated the Council requirement that all city buildings be built to green standards. Earlier this year, Berkeley became the first city in the nation to share city fleet vehicles with the public in an award-winning and innovative partnership with the non-profit City CarShare. Mayor Bates also proposed a unique $100 million clean energy fund partnership with Oakland and plans to move towards public power through “community choice aggregation.”  

• Housing Development. We support the hundreds of new housing units that have been approved by Mayor Bates and the City Council. Many of these units are the only opportunities for affordable ownership in Berkeley and many others are providing below market rentals. These units are also putting more housing on streets served by transit and in close proximity to Berkeley’s small businesses that need a strong customer base to thrive.  

We wanted to share these accomplishments with other readers of the Planet as information on programs like those described above don’t always reach the news pages. In these first two and a half years in office we feel that Mayor Bates has done an excellent job.  

Catherine Trimbur  

Matthew Hallinan  

Nancy Skinner,  

Mal Burnstein,  




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Transit proof of payment (POP) fare systems, derided in recent letters, have been used in civilized countries for decades. Details vary. The general idea is that you buy a ticket before boarding the vehicle. A machine located either at the stop or on board stamps the ticket with the date and time. Inspectors occasionally walk through and ask to see everyone’s tickets. Anyone without a ticket or with one that has expired (time and date no longer valid) is fined an amount intended to discourage repeat offenses. 

POP sees use on buses, LRT, ferries, and commuter trains. Its primary objectives are to 

1. Improve service quality by minimizing the time spent stopped while passengers board and alight. 

2. Allow the operator (driver) to concentrate on driving without worrying about fare collection. 

3. Reduce operating cost by increasing the mileage driven and passengers carried during a driver shift. 

In other words, transit becomes faster, safer, and cheaper to produce. AC Transit deserves praise for planning ahead to implement these proven improvements. 

Robert R. Piper 

Berkeley Director of Transportation, 1976-78 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I very much appreciate the Daily Planet’s coverage of the proposed mega mall at Golden Gate Fields. Albany residents should brace themselves for the coming PR offensive from Magna Entertainment (owners of Golden Gate Fields). No doubt the mall will solve all of our problems, fund the schools and not impact the existing businesses along Solano Avenue. But before we buy that line we need to remember back to Magna’s attempt to build a trackside casino by putting it on the statewide ballot, seeking to override city zoning controls. They spent millions on that one. Now they have brought in Rick Caruso, a big time Southern California developer, to pitch their new mall plan. (Don’t confuse it with the earlier mall plan they submitted for review and then withdrew so they could focus on passing the casino plan). You may have heard how Caruso’s now opened offices on Solano Avenue to push the mall. He’s even sent in the former PR guy/campaign manager for Los Angeles Mayor James Hahn to lead the “educational” effort. Aren’t we lucky! And don’t forget he’s hired former Assemblywoman Dion Aroner to do “community relations” for the mall plan.  

When they get done with their backroom efforts and decide to finally show the mall plan to the public, please take a minute to carefully consider the source of their claims. Developer Rick Caruso is a big time Republican donor. He raised a Million dollars for the re-election of George Bush. He loaned his jet to the Bush campaign. He even gave $250,000 to the group supporting Bush’s Social Security privatization plan. He spent a cool $1.4 million for a political campaign to push through his mall plans in Glendale late last year. Big league politics have come to Albany. Get ready for a slick sales job and remember to always consider the source.  

Next time you see an Albany city Councilmember be sure to ask them where they stand on the mall. If they tell you they haven’t decided yet, take that as meaning they will vote for the mall at the end of the process but don’t want to take the heat for their position until then. They all have had private briefings from the developer and since the original mall plan was propose four years ago they should have a pretty good idea where they stand by now.  

If all of this concerns you please join with the Citizens for the Albany Shoreline (CAS) to fight for the completion of the East Shore State Park (and to stop the mall).  

Brian Parker 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

Thanks to Carlton Jones and Marguerite Talley-Hughes for proving Michael Larrick’s point. Instead of stepping up to the plate and acknowledging the harmful culture of victimization that has severely retarded black progress in America, they spout the same old leftist crapola. If it wasn’t for Thomas Jefferson Talley-Hughes wouldn’t have a prayer of achieving the rights all of us have today. Jefferson and Company put in the Bill of Rights, not slaves. Naturally, Talley-Hughes doesn’t mention the salient fact that Africans were sold into slavery by their fellow Africans. Far from being tolerated by the United States Government for hundreds of years, the slave trade was outlawed by an Act of Congress in 1803, 27 years after the founding of the US. Then 60 years later US whites fought a bloody civil war that resulted in the abolition of slavery. The industrial wealth of the United States that created a modern society was not done by slaves. Slavery was an uneconomic and anti-capitalistic institution to the core. 

What about the incredible contribution of many Jews to the civil rights struggle? Their reward has been to endure black anti-semitism and the incredible solidarity of many black intellectuals with Islamic causes despite the fact that Arabs were among the top slave traders. All of this sanctioned by Islam including slavery in Saudi Arabia today. 

As for black leaders, Mr. Jones, there are several people routinely referred to as same: Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, etc., and I do not recall any anguished letters from you protesting this. I’m afraid that true history has nothing to do with the culture of anti-white victimization promoted today. 

Michael P. Hardesty 


Column: The Public Eye: Peak Oil Looms, While U.S. Remains Gluttonous By BOB BURNETT

Tuesday May 03, 2005

If you are a Monty Python fan, you will remember the famous restaurant scene from The Meaning of Life. In it a fawning waiter begs his grossly over-weight client, who has just finished a meal of obscene proportions, to have “just one thin mint.” The diner’s gut is already strained to the breaking point, and when he finally ingests the mint, his body explodes. 

Unfortunately, America bears a remarkable resemblance to the diner in the Monty Python skit. On a daily basis we gobble up several times more petroleum than we produce. Our gluttonous appetite for oil has brought the economy to the breaking point. Will we come to our senses and realize that we must curb our oil addiction? Or will we have to “explode” first? 

In 1972 Donella and Dennis Meadows, together with Jorgen Randers and William Behrens, published The Limits to Growth, which analyzed the interrelated impacts of population growth, industrialization, malnutrition, environmental deterioration, and depletion of nonrenewable resources—in particular, oil. They predicted that the planet would reach its limits to growth within the next 100 years. The first crisis would be the world supply of oil, which they predicted would diminish around the year 2000. 

In the ‘50s, geologist M. King Hubbert coined the term, “peak oil,” to describe the tipping point at which petroleum supply reaches its maximum annual output. Total United States oil production reached its peak in the seventies. Now, the question is when the world supply will reach its zenith. 

Recently a number of academic papers have been published that forecast the peak year for world oil production. Most place this event in a time period between 2005 (Princeton Geologist Ken Deffeyes) and 2014 (Germany’s Deutsche Bank). Not surprisingly, the most optimistic projection—2037—comes from the Bush Administration’s forecasters at the Department of Energy. 

When peak oil will occur is more than an academic issue. It represents an important milestone for policy makers because it sets a “drop dead date” for our preparation for a time of oil scarcity. Experts believe that it will take at least 10 years for the economy to make the transition from oil to the various alternatives; the longer we wait to start this, the more extreme the economic turmoil will be.  

Nonetheless, the Bush administration believes that we can postpone our move away from an economy based upon cheap oil. Administration policy seems to be driven by Vice-President Cheney, who famously remarked, “Conservation may be a sign of personal virtue, but it is not a sufficient basis for a sound, comprehensive energy policy.” The Bushies are betting that their rosy estimate of the peak oil year is the correct one and, therefore, a petroleum crisis won’t happen on their shift. In their 2006 budget proposal, the administration actually cut funds for energy conservation. Next year they will phase out the tax credit for buying a hybrid vehicle (and leave in place the write-off for a Hummer.) 

To fully grasp the consequences of the Bush administration irresponsibility, we need to consider what peak oil actually means: the U.S. is half way through a cycle that began in the early years of the nineteenth century, when crude oil literally bubbled out of the ground. Now, all the “easy” oil is gone: the reserves that remain are either relatively inaccessible, or in geological formations that are difficult to process. Much of the remaining oil is of poor quality.  

The United States is not alone in seeking this oil. Globalization has resulted in the industrialization of many countries and this has heightened the demand for carbon-based fuels. When America seeks to buy a barrel of oil, we are competing with China, the European Community, India, Japan, and others. 

After years of cheap oil, Americans are beginning to experience the combined effect of diminishing supplies of oil and increased demand. The price for a barrel of crude oil hovers near the all-time high of $58 and experts are talking about prices in the $75-105 range. The price for a gallon of gasoline will probably hit $3 this summer.  

Criticism of the Bush administration usually begins with its poor record at predicting future events. A prime example would, of course, be Iraq, where they promised that Iraqi oil production would pay for the occupation. The truth is that today’s Iraqi oil production is less than it was before the invasion and we have to import oil (1.7 million gallons of fuel per day) into Iraq in order to fuel the American occupation; as a result, the occupation has cost billions more than original estimates. No doubt, this inability to forecast will also be the lasting record of the Bush administration with regards to peak oil. 

History will judge George and company harshly because of their indifference to the looming oil crisis. Rather than lead the US away from its oil addiction, the president seems content to play the role of fawning waiter, approaching gluttonous America, begging, “Please sir, just one thin mint.” 


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

Column: Kaiser’s Voice Mail Jail Leaves Patient on Hold By SUSAN PARKER

Tuesday May 03, 2005

Ralph needed a shower chair. The old one we’d purchased five years ago was broken. A wheel had fallen off and a metal support rod snapped. I had to get a new one ASAP.  

I called Kaiser’s Durable Medical Equipment Department and requested a chair. I was told it wasn’t covered by our health plan. I knew this was true from five years ago but I was hoping for a miracle. It seems unfair that a wheelchair-bound person who can’t take a shower unless he’s in a shower chair doesn’t have coverage for such an item. Ralph’s plan is through the University of California. Someone wasn’t thinking straight when they denied shower chairs to C-4 quadriplegics.  

I went to Johnston Medical Supply on Shattuck Avenue and looked at their shower chairs. The cheapest one available was $266 plus tax. Made of plastic with metal connecters and wheels, it would start to rust, just as our original one had, the moment we turned on the water. The all-plastic chairs had price tags of $600 and up. These were outside our budget. I bought the cheap chair.  

It wasn’t until I got home that I realized the chair I had purchased didn’t have footrests. We need a place to rest Ralph’s feet so they don’t drag on the floor when we push him to the bathroom. I returned to Johnston and ordered the footrests. They weren’t in stock but they would call us as soon as they came in.  

For a week we made do without footrests. It’s imperative that we keep Ralph clean. Otherwise sores develop that cause infections, which in turn can cause death. This is why we need a shower chair.  

The footrests arrived and we attached them to the chair. I relaxed, but not for long, A few weeks later Ralph’s specialized air mattress developed a leak. 

The air mattress is designed to prevent bedsores. Ralph’s helpers and I move him around in bed, and the air mattress, through some marvel of technology, keeps itself from pushing too hard against his skin. We’ve gone through several types of mattresses in the past eleven years, from water, to foam, to air. We weren’t given the okay for the very best mattress until a bedsore on Ralph’s buttocks required plastic surgery and over six months recovery time.  

I called the DME Supervisor. Her answering machine said it was Thursday, April 14. I looked at my calendar. It was Tuesday, April 19. Several rounds of missed messages from a DME coordinator left me with no choice but to call the supervisor again. It was Thursday, April 21. Her message said it was Tuesday April 19. She was getting closer to reality, but she wasn’t quite there. Finally, on Friday morning, April 22, I spoke to a real person. She listened to my concerns, took down our order, and told me Apria Health Care would deliver a new mattress that afternoon. A few hours later someone from Apria called to say there’d be a delivery made between 5 and 5:30 p.m.  

“We’ll need lead time,” I said to the caller. “It’ll take us 15 minutes to get my husband out of bed.” 

“I’ll contact you 30 minutes before arrival,” promised the Apria representative. 

At 9 p.m. the Apria deliveryman called. Andrea, Willie and I put Ralph in a sling, and raised him with a Hoyer lift. We turned his body around so he was facing the TV. Ralph watched the A’s versus the Angels in Anaheim while suspended above our dining room table.  

The deliveryman replaced the mattress and filled it with air. We lowered Ralph into bed, positioned him so that he could see the A’s win 4-3. I took a deep breath. It was 10 p.m., April 22. I was proud of our work, and pleased to know what day and time it was. Maybe the DME coordinator will get herself caught up by the time I call her again. ›

Fire Department Log By RICHARD BRENNEMAN

Tuesday May 03, 2005

Electrical Blaze Damages Church 

An electrical fire caused an estimated $50,000 in damage to the General Assembly Church at 1521 Derby St. Saturday night. 

The call was raised to two alarms before the fire was extinguished, said Berkeley Fire Department Captain Gil Dong. 

The flames, which damaged a small area of the church near the baptismal font, resulted in an estimated $50,000 in damage.


Tuesday May 03, 2005

Pistol Whipper Bust 

Berkeley Police arrested a 39-year-old man on charges of assault with a deadly weapon and being an ex-felon in possession of a firearm after he allegedly pistol-whipped another 39-year-old near the corner of Curtis Street and Bancroft Way shortly before 4:35 a.m. Thursday, said police spokesperson Officer Joe Okies. 


Rat Pack Robbers 

Police arrested seven juveniles early Thursday evening after a strongarm “rat pack” attack on a 21-year-old pedestrian near the corner of Derby Street and College Avenue. 

Officer Okies said the victim was attacked and robbed of his backpack, cell phone and camera—all of which were recovered by the arresting officers. 


Belated Report 

A 30-year old man called Berkeley police Friday morning to report that he been robbed around 9 p.m. the previous night while he was walking near the corner of Adeline Street and Alcatraz Avenue. 

He told officers a 20-something robber clad in dark clothing and a brown baseball cap had relieved him of his wallet and cell phone. 


Stick Vs. Fist 

Police responding to a call about an assault with a deadly weapon at King Middle School in the 1700 block of Rose Street quickly discovered that the dispute in question pitted two students against each other, one armed with his fists, the other with a lacrosse stick. 

The suspects were quickly identified, but no arrests were made, said Officer Okies. 


Another Strong-Arm 

An alert customer of Ashkenaz spotted a 20-year-old strongarm robber attacking a 61-year-old man outside the popular San Pablo Avenue night spot Friday evening, and officers arrived in time to slap cuffs on the suspect and recover the victim’s cash. 


Gun-Toting Trio 

UC and Berkeley Police are seeking three suspects who robbed four pedestrians near the corner of Regent and Parker streets shortly before 1 a.m. Saturday. 

The trio was last seen southbound on Regent inside a dark-colored vehicle. One of them may have been wearing a navy Cal sweatshirt. 


Strongarm Snatch 

A strong-arm robber in his twenties approached a 47-year-old woman in the 2000 block of Woolsey Street about 10:30 Saturday night and forced her to surrender her purse. He was last seen fleeing southbound on Tremont Street, said Officer Okies. 


Car Knifed 

Police arrested a 19-year-old man at 1:35 a.m. Sunday on charges of brandishing a deadly weapon and making threats of grievous bodily harm and damage to property following a bizarre event in the 2300 block of Durant Avenue. 

“In the course of the attack, the suspect damaged the car with his knife,” said Officer Okies. Fortunately the fleshy object of his wrath escaped without injury. 


Gabitup Heist  

A middle-aged man wearing a Kangol cap robbed the Gabitup Wireless store at 3320 Adeline St. Sunday morning, making off with cash and personal belongings. 


Ski-Masked Robbers 

Two bandits wearing ski masks and packing heat robbed a young couple near the corner of Seventh and Addison streets early Saturday evening, making off with a pair of shoes, a jacket and other personal items. 

The victims, a 21-year-old woman and a 19-year-old man, were otherwise unharmed, said Officer Okies.›

Commentary: Disemboweling Berkeley’s Disaster Response By JESSE TOWNLEY

Tuesday May 03, 2005

In all of the arguing of which cuts to make and which projects to fund, it’s easy to lose sight of the long-range effects of cuts in service and in the commissions which oversee them.  

One perfect example is the Office of Emergency Services, currently part of the Berkeley Fire Department (BFD), and the Disaster Council. From chemical spills to radiological accidents to man-made attacks to hills fires to the impending earthquake on the Hayward Fault, the OES works hard to save as many of our lives as possible through preparation and planning.  

One year ago, the OES performed the following vital, life-saving tasks. It coordinated the free Community Emergency Response Training (CERT) classes, trained neighborhoods to fend for themselves after a disaster, and offered refresher courses for already-trained neighborhoods. It also provided long-term community coordination, like placing emergency supply caches in neighborhoods and helping residents fill those caches. OES applied for and received grants for Disaster Resistant Berkeley (which funded many of these items for years until the grant ended), and organized the city-wide Care and Shelter Plan. It ran disaster exercises involving many parts of city government, and helped create the Disaster Mitigation Plan, which is the framework for Berkeley’s disaster preparation. 

OES worked on individual projects to make our city safer, like convincing the school district to install emergency supplies at every school. It helped shape the successful Unreinforced Masonry (URM) program to retrofit many unsafe brick buildings, and joined with the Planning Department to push for a new Soft Story law to retrofit the many apartment buildings at risk of total collapse. The OES investigated various initiatives from the Disaster Council, like disaster-prep curriculum ideas for our schools, Citizen Corp federal funding, and preparing small businesses for recovery from a major disaster.  

By June of 2003, budget cuts had trimmed OES from four down to three full-time equivalencies (FTE), i.e. three full-time staffers: two analysts and their manager. One year later, there were 1.2 full-time equivalencies split between an analyst and the manager.  

While the three staffers were able to do most of the tasks above with the help of volunteers from the Disaster Council and off-duty firefighters, last year’s evisceration of OES rearranged its tasks as follows. 

OES coordinates the CERT classes, although the training is now split between community volunteers and firefighters. OES also coordinates the city-wide disaster exercises, does minor neighborhood outreach and retraining, and coordinates one-off projects. 

The Soft Story retrofit program, like the URM program before it, has been turned over to the Planning Department, while the neighborhood cache trainings and refresher trainings are available from the BFD by request only. The city-wide Care and Shelter Plan is taken on by Health and Human Services, although the exciting progress made over the past few years has slowed due to HHS’s own budget crunch. Applying for new disaster and homeland security grants, like the current Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant to improve fire evacuation routes in the Berkeley hills, has moved to the overburdened city manager’s office. Dedicated grant-hunting to fund the many disaster needs of the city from outside of the General Fund has essentially stopped. 

There are a number of vital tasks that have stopped completely because of the cut from three FTE to 1.2 FTE. Ended are all meaningful neighborhood trainings, as well as all outreach to new neighborhoods to become disaster-resistant. There is no effort to install new emergency supplies caches. This systemic evisceration means there’s no long-term community coordination that will allow us to learn to take care of vulnerable neighbors, minor structure fires, injuries, and shelter needs during short-term disasters (chemical spills, power outages) or during long-term disasters (earthquakes, radiological releases).  

Compounding last year’s reckless cost-cutting is this year’s budget proposal. The plan is to eliminate the OES manager position (currently it’s the .2 of the 1.2 FTE since the position also performs BFD fire prevention duties), and to have the sole remaining OES analyst split her job duties between OES and fire prevention. No word on what the exact fraction of FTE this staffer will devote to OES but one thing is for sure. The time allotted for the incredibly important tasks of the OES will be criminally insufficient.  

All of the facts in this article come directly from my notes of the last two years of Disaster Council meetings. We volunteer time beyond the regular meetings to work with the school district and to teach CERT classes. During regular meetings we receive expert reports from within the city (city manager, HHS, Planning, Toxic Management, BFD, Berkeley Police) and from without (American Red Cross, Easy Does It). We work closely with the remaining OES personnel offering feedback and ideas from our various areas of expertise. For instance, the engineer and the contractor who just joined the council are working on issues of transfer-tax funded home retrofits. While currently the OES can offer no support, we’re hoping that the Planning Department will be helpful in exploring this issue. Finally, this article and similar communication to the city’s residents and politicians offer everyone a glimpse of the life-and-death meaning behind this obscure budget line-item.  

The city should restore the OES as a functioning entity. For instance, here’s what would happen if the city restores the second analyst position, which trained and organized neighborhood disaster teams. Even if it was funded for one year, this action would mean dozens, perhaps hundreds more residents would be able to survive and help others survive, including the most vulnerable of our neighbors. This is the disaster prep equivalent of teaching a person to fish and thereby providing him with fish for a lifetime. Additionally, the city should not restrict the Disaster Council to quarterly meetings, especially when, with just 10 meetings/year, we add institutional memory and extra areas of expertise to the city’s knowledge base. 

Completely avoidable deaths, maimings, and property damage are the results of the penny-wise and pound-foolish approach of the past few budget cycles. I hope the current City Council chooses positive change instead of the damaging status quo when it comes to disaster funding.  


Jesse Townley is vice chair of the Disaster Council, as well as the former executive director of Easy Does It and former vice president of the EDI board of directors. He ran for Berkeley City Council in 2004. 

Commentary: Looking Toward the Future in Downtown Berkeley By RAUDEL WILSON

Tuesday May 03, 2005

Last week the Daily Planet published an article by Zelda Bronstein regarding parking in Downtown Berkeley. Unlike Ms. Bronstein I am a resident of the downtown and I have worked downtown for the past nine years.  

When discussing an issue such as parking we need to keep the big picture in mind and remember what is our ultimate objective for the downtown. We want more retail businesses, we want to continue to build housing, and we want to help grow sales tax revenue for the city.  

Today’s perception of the downtown is that there are more empty store fronts that there are current retailers. In reality the vacancy rate of the downtown is less than 10 percent. The good news is that this percent is going to decrease over the next two years. With important store fronts such as the Gaia Building (Anna’s Jazz Island) and 2300 Shattuck/Bancroft (Longs Drugs) about to come online, they are setting the trend for what could become an influx of new and exciting retailers to the downtown. There are potential tenants currently looking at the Gateway and Eddie Bauer sites, the Kress Building, See’s Candy, Life Long Noodle, and the Fine Arts Building. We are on the cusp of seeing a dramatic change to the downtown’s retail base. It is truly exciting! 

The downtown is Berkeley’s fastest growing neighborhood. Last year Patrick Kennedy opened three new buildings (all at full occupancy) with over 400 new units. With new residential units in progress (Library Gardens and Avi Nevo’s Fulton/Channing Project) and more on the way (Seagate Properties, Tune Up Masters Site, and the David Brower building) we have more than 500 more units slated to be built. With this influx of new residents it has peaked the interest of potential new retailers.  

Finally, in order for Berkeley to start balancing its budget we need to grow our sales tax revenue. In a recent meeting held by the Office of Economic Development I was informed that the downtown supplies the city with one tenth of its overall sales tax revenue. By attracting more retailers to the downtown we can help grow this percentage and help improve the city’s overall budget.  

So how does this all relate to parking? Zelda argued that while short-term parking was hard to find long term garage parking was always available. Part of the reason it is so hard to find short term parking is because of “meter feeding.” With the new solar powered meters comes stronger parking enforcement. On any given day you can find two or three parking enforcers walking up and down Shattuck enforcing the one-hour rule. This is going to cause customers to realize that if they need to be in the downtown for longer than an hour they will need to use a garage. The second effect is to encourage business owners and employees of downtown businesses to use the garages. This will free up valuable short term parking for their customers and potential customers. How much business is lost each day because someone cannot find a short-term parking space? As more people come to the downtown (more retailers and more residents) we will find that the demand for long term parking is going to grow. I want to make sure that when that demand arises that we are ready to handle it.  

I have advocated for the Vista mitigation money to go towards rebuilding the Center Street Garage with an extra 200 spaces. If the city can find a way to finance the garage with only part of this money that is fine with me. I am also in favor of real time parking signage. I just want to make sure they have somewhere to point to.  


Raudel Wilson is manager of the Mechanics Bank, president of the Downtown Berkeley Association and a Zoning Adjustments Board commissioner.?

Commentary: Holocaust Remembrance By KRISS WORTHINGTON

Tuesday May 03, 2005

“Nazis are bad; nuns are good.” That was my friend’s synopsis of The Sound of Music. The sentence could just as easily summarize much of the popular 

sentiment about the Holocaust. This year as we reach the 60th anniversary of “liberation” and the end of the war, a deeper and more profound understanding could benefit our youth and all of us. 

As Holocaust survivors age it becomes even more important to listen, to learn, and to remember. We can not wait until the 70th or 75th anniversary, because far too m any survivors will no longer be with us. Most of us alive today were not even born yet, but that is all the more reason for us to listen, and treasure the Survivors who are still with us. 

Nazi genocidal policy killed six million Jews, and about five million others including: Gypsies, people with physical disabilities, lesbians and gays, the dissenting clergy, and other political enemies. While they killed a majority of Jews in Europe, they failed to completely annihilate any of their target groups. But we too have failed in eliminating the hatred and fear against each of their target groups. 

Even today, in the ostensibly progressive Bay Area, racism, sexism, homophobia, ageism, classism, and anti-semitism persist. While overt prejudice and discriminati on is generally considered unacceptable in polite society, stereotypes persist and rear their ugly head in moments of conflict or passion, and in institutionalized patterns of exclusion. Asians, Latinos and African Americans are still too often underrepre sented in who gets hired, appointed and elected. In Berkeley itself, Jews have far too frequently been victims of hate crimes, as have people of color.  

Holocaust denial lectures and speeches have been given right here in Berkeley claiming that the holocaust did not happen. Holocaust Remembrance Day gives us an opportunity to stop and reflect, to remind ourselves that the horrors of the Holocaust did in fact happen, and to remember the suffering victims, the courage of the resistors, and to treasure the survivors, and to join in the chorus of hope and activism to say “Never again.” 

At noon on Friday, May 6 the City of Berkeley will officially commemorate Holocaust Remembrance Day at the City Council Chambers at 2134 Martin Luther King Jr. Way. The event is free and open to the public. 


City Councilmember Kriss Worthington represents Berkeley’s District 7.  

Commentary:Instant Runoff Voting Held Up by Diebold By LAURENCE SCHECHTMAN

Tuesday May 03, 2005

Is the Diebold Corporation, famous for hackable, paperless voting machines, trying to strangle election reform in Berkeley? Or are they merely greedy, lazy and incompetent? 

Either way it is Diebold which stands in the way of implementing Berkeley’s Measure I in favor of Instant Runoff Voting (IRV), which was passed by a margin of 72 percent in March of 2004.  

IRV, also known as preferential or ranked choice voting, allows us to rank our choices for mayor or City Council candidate. We could vote for three candidates for mayor, a first, a second and a third choice, so that if our first choice comes in last, then our second choice is counted. If that step does not produce a winner, then the next person on the bottom is eliminated until someone has captured 50 percent plus one. The runoff, in other words, is held instantly instead of six weeks later. 

There are three major advantages to IRV. First, by avoiding a second election, both the city and the candidates save a lot of money. Second, a separate runoff always attracts far fewer voters, and especially fewer poor and student voters, so that there is a chance that the winner of the runoff in December gets fewer votes than the original leader in November. Which is how “moderate” Shirley Dean beat “progressive” Don Jelinek in the mayor’s race of 1994. 

The most important advantage of preferential voting, however, is that it cures the disease of lesser evilism. You don’t have to vote for one of the big two—Jelinek to keep out Dean or vice versa. You can vote for whoever you want as your first choice, and then for the frontrunner in second place, which keeps out your main enemy just as effectively. Neither mainstream Democrats nor Republicans, however, are too happy about losing “their” voters to third parties, which may explain why State Senate Bill 596, which grants all California cities the right to choose IRV, has not been able to make it out of committee. 

But for us, wouldn’t it be great to be able to vote our hearts without fear? The big two wouldn’t be able to take us for granted. They would have to make alliances, or at least be polite, with the third and fourth party or candidate, which is exactly what has been happening in San Francisco. In fact in District 5 in the city’s last election, 18 candidates established a “candidates collaborative” which has resulted in long range neighborhood co-operation. And sometimes, Ms. 3 or Mr. 4 might actually win. 

So why do we still have to debate this issue, a year after it won decisively at the polls. Because Diebold, which owns the contract on voting machines for Alameda County, wants two million dollars to write IRV into their systems here. And in the age of Bush and Schwarzenegger, the county and the cities are carrying huge deficits. (San Leandro and Oakland have also approved preferential voting systems) But even if money were available, Diebold says that it isn’t going to get around to working on the problem for another year, which means that IRV will probably not be ready for the November 2006 city elections, two and a half years after the passage of Berkeley’s initiative.  

The problem with Diebold’s obstructionism, of course, is that there isn’t any problem. Instant runoff voting has been solved. San Francisco does it with great success, and British Columbia is voting about a variant of IRV next May 17. Computer codes for counting votes IRV-style are open source. Anyone can copy and use them for free. (If you want to check out this availability you can contact “The Open Voting Consortium” at www.Openvoting.org or “Elections Solutions” at www.Electionsolutions.com) 

It is possible that Diebold’s demand for $2 million constitutes an actionable breach of contract. When Alameda County first acquired the present touchscreen computers, the Diebold subsidiary GEMS wrote in their proposal that, “The AccuVote-TS can easily be programmed for preferential voting.” Would a jury find that this “easy” programming change was worth two million? Diebold has already had to pay out 2.6 million to Alameda and California to settle a false claims lawsuit. 

Diebold’s “pricing policy” is revealed in this internal e-mail which found its way into the “Baltimore Gazette” in December 2003: “ …they (the public) already bought the system. At this point they are just closing the barn door. Let’s just hope that as a company we are smart enough to charge out the yin if they try to change the rules now and legislate voter receipts.” “Ken” (writer of the e-mail) later clarifies that he meant “out the yin-yang,” adding, “any after-sale changes should be prohibitively expensive.”  

On April 19 about 70 people were out protesting against Diebold in front of the Alameda County Office Building near Lake Merritt. None of the speakers could understand where the two million figure came from. Kenny Mostern, who headed Berkeley’s successful campaign for IRV, said that the Pacifica Radio election, which he also directed, was conducted by means of preferential voting for $55,000. Rodney Brooks, chief of staff for County Supervisor Keith Carson, called the $2 million “ridiculous.” The Berkeley City Council, according to Councilmember Kris Worthington, has hired a consultant, former City Clerk Sherry Kelly, to shepherd IRV through the county and state bureaucracies.  

Now is the time to pressure the five Alameda County Supervisors to act. Registrar Brad Clark, who was responsible for the original Diebold connection, and has done nothing to challenge their price estimate, is leaving Alameda County to go to work with the new Republican secretary of state. The supervisors could use our input about hiring a new registrar who will fight to uphold the will of the voters in Berkeley, San Leandro and Oakland. Keith Carson, whose district includes Berkeley, is leading the struggle to implement IRV. But the other supervisors are understandably more immediately concerned with the county’s 77 million dollar deficit.  

Citizens should contact the supervisors or the IRV in Alameda County Now! coalition at 665-5457 or Alamedacountyirv@gmail.com 

It is still possible for Berkeley to once again be a model of democratic participation. 


Laurence Schechtman is a Berkeley resident. 

Commentary: Bogotá Mayor Rules with Theatric Enforcement By AARON TUKEY

Tuesday May 03, 2005

To a packed audience that over flowed into the corridors of an embarrassingly small venue, Antanas Mockus, the innovative two-term mayor of Bogotá, Colombia, spoke April 15 at the conference on “Violence and the Americas,” hosted by the Center for Latin American Studies. His talk on “Law Enforcement and Citizenship Building” focused largely on enlisting collective social disapproval and participatory stake holding—instead of legal penalties—to help shape civic behavior. While obviously proud of the reduction in violence experienced in the unruly capital city during his tenure, the ever humble and self-mocking former mayor gave only a hint of how his creative strategies have empowered Bogotá’s 7 million inhabitants—and how these ideas might be applied to beleaguered urban areas here in the US. 

When I first arrived in Bogotá in December of 1995, the city was a metropolitan nightmare plagued by eternal traffic jams, truly hair-raising crime, choking pollution, ugly gray concrete devoid of greenery, thousands of street children, and more than anything else, a sense of despair and alienation that seemed to permeate everything. As corruption drained city coffers, cynicism, rampant tax evasion, and a general shirking of civic responsibility had become the norm. Few people spoke or even made eye contact on the streets, and people watched with resigned indifference as their fellow citizens fell prey to marauding gangs in broad daylight. It was a hardscrabble, dog-eat-dog kind of environment that to many residents seemed beyond hope. 

On my very first experience with Bogotá’s legendary traffic jams, a friend pointed to a group of youths milling about on the sidewalk, and calmly told me “those guys are about to rob someone.” Sure enough, in front of several hundred of us stuck in traffic, the three youths walked up to a choice vehicle, thrust a gun in the window, and casually walked—not ran—away with wallets and jewelry. Twenty minutes later, we were all still there stuck in the same spot, and the same group of guys were back to leisurely choose their next victims—all of this in front of a traffic cop who nervously looked the other way while the kids brazenly taunted him, weapons drawn. I can’t tell you how much paralysis that kind of daily violence induces in civic society.  

Fed up with the corrupt, status quo politicians from the ruling duopoly, and desperately seeking a way out of the chaos, the citizens of Bogotá turned the keys of city hall over to a diminutive professor of mathematics and philosophy with a reputation for honesty and eccentric antics. The then rector of the National University had been married in a circus tent, and had once gained the attention of an auditorium of unruly students by bending over and “mooning” them. For the jaded inhabitants of Bogotá, Mockus was the perfect anti-politician.  

I first became acquainted with Mr. Mockus when he appeared on my TV one morning, making an impassioned appeal to Bogotanos to give up their handguns. I watched with fascination as this nerdy, Amish looking fellow debated the single issue of gun control for nearly two hours, taking heated calls from citizens, respectfully acknowledging their fears and concerns while persuading them to his point of view. I was impressed that Colombian media would give an elected representative the space to dialogue with the citizenry like that, and was amazed as well that a politician would sit and answer uncensored questions at such length on just one issue. Compare that to the 30-second sound bites we typically get here in the U.S. on issues of great complexity, or to President Bush’s carefully orchestrated “town halls” on Social Security featuring obviously scripted questions from a handpicked crowd of party loyalists.  

In the coming months we were treated to some delightful street theater from Mr. Mockus. To raise awareness of civic responsibility, he dashed from one end of Bogotá to the other sporting a caped superhero outfit emblazoned with a large red “C” for “El Hombre Cívico”. Lots of people laughed, and more than a few were convinced he was absolutely crazy. But such antics made people think, and the laughter had the intended effect of slowly melting away the layers of cynicism that were corroding civic participation. Even the most skeptical and jaded Bogotanos thought to themselves that if the mayor was willing to make a public fool of himself, then at least they could do their small part to help make Bogotá a better place to live!  

Mayor Mockus went on to deploy hundreds of unarmed mimes to “enforce” traffic laws, showered on national TV to teach about water conservation, closed all city streets on some Sundays to bicyclists only, and gave the entire city over some designated nights to only women. Intuitively, he sees the mission of political leaders as collaborating with citizens to change entrenched and maladapted habits, to instill a sense of civic solidarity, to capture people’s imagination and sympathy through art and humor, and basically to always appeal to our better selves. “Enforcement” of the new terms of civic conduct was left not to men with guns, but largely to collective moral peer pressure.  

When I returned to Bogotá in summer of 2001, I thought I was in a different city. The traffic situation had improved dramatically, and parks had sprung up everywhere, even in the traditionally neglected, impoverished southern suburbs. There were hundreds of miles of bike paths and an innovative public transit corridor had just been inaugurated. But most of all, the pall of fear had dissipated; people had hope again, and were proud to be Bogotanos! On the street, they seemed so much more friendly and respectful towards one another, and much more relaxed. 

Most importantly, the homicide rate in Bogotá has plummeted by an astounding 70 percent. 

Towards the end of his presentation, Mockus underscored that the diminished violence was accomplished without the death penalty, and without expanding the prison population. With a touch of ironic humor, he pointed out that to follow the sophisticated American model, Colombia must build five times more prisons. The diplomatically subtle inference to the furious rate of prison construction going on here in California was not lost on the audience. At a time when we hold ourselves up as a model to be exported to the entire world, it might be that we are the ones who could learn from the experiences of our southern neighbors. We might also learn that nothing is hopeless, and that no one is irredeemable. 


Aaron Tukey is a former Columbia resident with a background in Latin American studies. 

News Analysis: Iraq Labor Leader: ‘We Will Defend Our Oil’ By DAVID BACON

Pacific News Service
Tuesday May 03, 2005

LONDON—As U.S. and British forces entered Baghdad on April 9, 2003, and the Saddam Hussein regime crumbled, those who had been driven underground by Hussein’s rule began to breathe again. From Syria, Britain, Scandinavia and elsewhere, exiled trade union radicals began to make the long journey home.  

The first post-Saddam days saw a ferment of labor organizing. A general strike broke out in Basra, after the British troops tried to install a notorious ex-Baath Party leader as mayor. Within a month, the city already had a labor council bringing together many new unions.  

Among those who had resisted Hussein’s brutal dictatorship within Iraq was an oilfield technician, Hassan Juma’a Awad. A veteran of the Shiite uprising in southern Iraq of 1991, Juma’a had begun to speak openly about the bad conditions in the fields and refinery of the Southern Oil Company, where he’d worked for three decades. Following Hussein’s downfall he quickly became the most important labor leader in southern Iraq, and today is the biggest single obstacle to the Bush administration’s main goal for the occupation—the privatization of the country’s oil.  

Oil is Iraq’s lifeblood, and the southern fields produce 80 percent of it. That puts the hands of this workforce on the spigot controlling the country’s wealth. Like the oil workers in Iran who brought down the Shah in 1978, Iraq’s oil workers know their power, and have already used it to deal important defeats to the occupation regime.  

“Without organizing ourselves, we would have been unable to protect our industry, which we had been looking after for generations,” Juma’a Awad says. “It was our duty as Iraqi workers to protect the oil installations since they are the property of the Iraqi people, and we are sure that the U.S. and the international companies have come here to put their hands on the country’s oil reserves.”  

In fact, within just a few short months of Hussein’s fall, Southern Oil Company workers found themselves up against the best-connected U.S. corporation in Iraq—Halliburton—whose former CEO, Dick Cheney, is now U.S. vice president. As the occupation began its grinding course, KBR, the Halliburton construction subsidiary, showed up at the SOC facilities. Its no-bid contract with the U.S. Defense Department gave it a mandate to begin reconstruction and get the oil flowing again to tankers off the coast in the Persian Gulf. KBR hired a Kuwaiti subcontractor, Al Khoorafy, which stood ready to bring in hundreds of foreign employees to do the work.  

Faced with replacement of their jobs, in a city where unemployment soared to 70 percent, Juma’a Awad and his coworkers stood firm. They told KBR that if they brought in a single person, they would stop the oil installations completely. “Iraq will be reconstructed by Iraqis, we don’t need any foreign interference,” Jum’a said. At first KBR tried to cut a deal to split the jobs with Iraqis. But the oil workers refused to accept any outside help. Eventually, KBR brought in the reconstruction supplies on trucks, unloaded them, and left.  

The next challenge came in September 2003. The occupation administration issued Order 30, lowering the base wages for Iraq’s public sector workforce, including oil workers, from $60 to $35 per month. It also cut subsidies for food and housing.  

“We asked ourselves, how can it be that the workers in our industry would get $35 a month?” Juma’a Awad recalls. “The American administration wasn’t willing to cooperate with us, so we had a short strike. We managed to get the minimum salary up to 150,000 Iraqi dinars, or about $100. This was the beginning of our struggle to improve the income of oil workers.”  

The union effectively doubled the wages of many. Today, a laborer with 20 years experience earns about 420,000 Iraqi dinars, or about $300, a month. A chicken in the market costs about 1,500 dinars, or $1.  

The strike had other repercussions. In Basra’s power generation plants, workers threatened similar action and won increases as well. Not surprisingly, they asked Juma’a Awad to negotiate for them.  

“Now we have workers’ councils in 23 areas of southern Iraq, and represent over 23,000 workers,” Juma’a Awad says. “The occupying forces tried their best to stop us, because they saw this as a danger. They were aware that organized workers would have power.”  

Juma’a Awad says the occupying forces told the unions they had no legal right to represent oil workers. “We were elected by the workers. That’s the only kind of legitimacy we need,” he says.  

Like all Iraqi unions, the General Union of Oil Workers opposes the occupation. “We want the occupation to end immediately, and the immediate withdrawal of all occupying forces,” he explains.  

While there might be security problems if the troops depart suddenly, Juma’a Awad says he’s not worried. “We are able to look after ourselves and our own security.”  

But privatization, he believes, is the largest threat. “This coming fight is more important even than the struggle against the occupation, since the U.S. is seeking to privatize all sectors of the Iraqi economy,” he says. In that fight, Juma’a Awad sees the current government, created as a result of the January elections, as an uncertain ally.  

“The next government should not only ensure the security of the Iraqi people, but also stop the privatization of industry. We oppose that very strongly, especially in oil. It is our industry. We don’t want a new colonization under the guise of privatization, with international companies taking control.”  


David Bacon is a freelance writer and photographer who writes regularly on labor and immigration issues. His latest book is “The Children of NAFTA” (University of California Press, 2004). ›

UC’s International House Has Fostered Friendships for 75 Years By STEVEN FINACOM

Special to the Planet
Tuesday May 03, 2005

“The plain fact is that we are members one of another and that we are not living in accordance with the nature of things—That is, we are not living in accordance with the facts, if we think only our own thoughts, and sit nowhere ever except upon the lonesome throne of our own outlook,” University of California President Benjamin Ide Wheeler, told Berkeley students in 1907. 

“Hatred between men, hatred between classes, hatred between peoples, represents always this stubborn unwillingness to get over onto the other hilltop and see how the plain looks from there.” Although he would not have known it at the time, Wheeler’s remarks now seem most expressive of a Berkeley institution, International House, founded not long after his death. International House was one of three programs at American universities—Columbia, Berkeley, and Chicago—funded by Rockefeller gifts in the 1920s in an effort to bring American and foreign students together in the same residences and thus build international understanding and friendship. 

This is the 75th year since the August, 1930, opening of Berkeley’s “I House” building, which rises in an impressive and eclectically appropriate mixture of Spanish, Moorish, and Indian architectural influences at the peak of Bancroft Way, just beyond the southeast corner of the Berkeley campus. It stands as a substantive secular temple to human understanding, physically and programmatically multitudinous and splendid, an institution among institutions. 

Today, I House is so much a familiar part of Berkeley’s physical and cultural landscape that many people take it for granted, perhaps thinking of it in the same detached way they might regard some distinguished but only distantly acquainted relative—with a general sense of approval and goodwill, but with little interest in greater familiarity.  

That is a shame, since International House and its programs were radical for much of Berkeley in the 1930s and have since been witness to, or catalyst for, so much of what changed city, nation, and world in the 20th century. The questioning and removal of legal and social barriers based on racial prejudice. National and international conflicts, and their resolutions, whether tragic or inspiring. Efforts, still only part finished, to create campuses and communities of durable and harmonious diversity. I House continues to be of vital necessity in the 21st century.  

As part of an effort to make this remarkable Berkeley institution more understandable to both residents and the general public, I House, in 2004, produced a slim but powerful community memoir. Close Encounters Of A Cross-Cultural Kind presents both historical sketches of the founding of I House and key eras in the institution’s history, but is primarily a set of personal testimonials drawn from decades of speeches, letters, and statements from former residents staff, and visitors. Most of the recollections are Reader’s Digest short—the voices of more than 40 individuals are represented in about 100 pages—but they convey a powerful message. I House changes people for the better. The experience of living there, or even just visiting, opens eyes and minds, often in spite of the most daunting backdrops of age-old national and racial prejudices and stereotypes. 

Excerpts from the book provide ample evidence of personal change. Here, for example, is the account of an Armenian visitor whose parents were killed by Turks, becoming friends with the Turkish student who poured coffee in the dining room. A former American G.I. and a student from Japan, also an ex-soldier, are assigned as roommates immediately after World War II and learn to re-examine their stereotypes. An Iranian woman writes that “before September 11, some of my closest friends and spiritual soul mates were Americans, and after Sept. 11 they turned on me…Because I thought Americans hated me, I hated all Americans back with passion.” She rethinks these feelings only after she moves into I House and is assigned an American roommate from the deep South who proves different from all her negative expectations.  

An African-American resident describes how the open-minded attitudes of a roommate with mixed Caribbean and British ancestry change his own perspectives on issues “black and white.” “I discovered that when I refuse intercultural discourse, when I expect the worst from people, and when I limit myself and expect the same from others…then I become the racist.” A former student from Israel describes finds himself, in 1972, eating his first meal at I-House with residents from Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Kuwait and Egypt, as well as a Palestinian.  

“I had never before met an Arab, only seen them from afar through the hostile barbed-wire fence of a frontier,” he wrote. “I began to understand that the hatreds on which we had grown up were left far behind us, and that here at I House we could see one another as individuals, as people, as warm and caring human beings.” And a resident in the late 1980s recalls, “I remember students from round the world watching as the Berlin Wall came tumbling down. I looked around me and realized how many of us at I House had taken down the walls within ourselves…Living there taught me more about politics than my graduate classes in political science.” 

While many of the writers in the Close Encounters anthology describe important transformations in their lives because of I House, their stories are rarely preachy or pontificating, and several contain wry humor. One American from New York writes of his Russian roommate, “the poetic drama of East and West together was tested at two o’clock in the morning, when Sergei would snore…” Other writers regretfully describe tensions with roommates and acquaintances early in their residency, missed opportunities for friendship, differences that they only later realized they could have avoided. 

But most of the accounts are uplifting. By the simple act of putting people with different backgrounds together in ordinary daily life, I House reshapes its residents. The cumulative impact cannot be inconsiderable. Since 1930, some 60,000 “I House alumni” have gone out into, or returned to, the world beyond Berkeley. They include seven Nobel Laureates, a U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, two former Governors of California and thousands of others who have, in their individual way, spread I House ideals around the world. 

Many of those are Californians and others from the United States, since International House has, since its beginnings, intentionally mixed both domestic and foreign students. it’s not simply a residence and place for “others”, but for all of us. 




Close Encounters Of A Cross-Cultural Kind can be purchased through the International House Development Office for $11.95 plus $2 shipping. Proceeds go to the Annual Scholarship Fund. 

Send a check drawn on a U.S. bank payable to International House to International House Development Office, 2299 Piedmont Ave., Berkeley, CA 94720, or call 642-5128. If ordering by mail, be sure to include the address to which the book should be sent. 

I-House is in the midst of a series of events to celebrate the building’s 75th anniversary.  

Next up, this Thursday, May 5, is the annual Awards Gala, an evening event honoring actress Rita Moreno and Sybase CEO John Chen, and featuring foods selected by local restauranteur Narsai David. For further information on attending the Gala, call 642-4128. 

A 75th anniversary reunion follows in early June, and other events are planned for the Fall.  

For more information on I House and programs there, visit http://ihouse.berkeley.edu/. 

Motor Oil and Mortality: What Would Jesus Do? By KEN BULLOCK

Special to the Planet
Tuesday May 03, 2005

The Eastenders Repertory Company is back on the boards in the East Bay at the Ashby Stage, after producing last year’s One Hundred Years of Political Theater at the Eureka Theater across the Bridge, with the premiere of WWJD? Some Good Old Medieval Morality Play Motor Oil, by San Jose playwright Scott Munson, running alternately with Eastenders Founding Artistic Director Charles Polly’s new play, A Knight’s Escape. 

Among the first Bay Area companies that spearheaded the revival of repertory programming, The Eastenders stage plays of all kinds that seem to convey social messages, especially those that chime with contemporary situations. This current pair is no exception, and particularly timely. Of A Knight’s Escape, Charles Polly (who also directs) says, “It’s a story about invasion of privacy, agoraphobia, personal anxiety syndrome...a man who’s afraid of sirens, cars, helicopters,sounds that make him sweat; about taking on the problems of the world and how the media pushes that.” It’s “written in a surreal, nonlinear style ... and promises to keep audiences guessing right up to--and after--the play’s final, mystifying conclusion.” 

WWJD? takes a different tack, that of a burlesque morality play, with a hero (”instead of Everyman”) who begins as anything but anxious: Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Charles Mal de Mer. True to his name, the Fed Chairman is played with much motion and attendant queasiness by longtime Eastender Craig Dickerson,though it’s the audience, not Mal de Mer, that suffers that queasiness, hilariously, until Charles’s crise de conscience midway through the show. 

“We hope this play will bring you pleasure—it won’t give you happiness or political change,” says The Master (of the Revels? “A ruthless dictator,” Peter Matthews) introducing the multi-role actors. He sets the scene: “A cozy street in Washington, D. C.—where you’ll never live.” 

Mal de Mer clutches his high-end, dysfunctional existence like a trophy. The teenage daughter (Claire Martin), “embittered, angry, suicidal, in her teens,” rages at him: “You hate my music, you hate me, you hate my drug addiction!” To her father’s protesting “I do not!” she replies, “Well, I hate you! She settles down to her “afternoon blow,” delivered by butler Septimus (Craig Souza) in bulk, with a meat cleaver to cut the heap into lines. The wife (Veneita Porter) is “embittered, angry, suicidal, in her forties.” Mal de Mer asks her, “My dear, have you under-medicated yourself today? How many times have we talked about this?” His butler, whose father named his sons after Roman emperors from gladiator movies, drives him to his power lunch, mowing down innocent (and poor) bystanders (”Haven’t seen anything so amazing since David Copperfield on Pay-For-View!”)There he rolls, not in the hay, but on the floor of Mme. Kim’s (Venetia Porter again) elite restaurant (”the latest in Vietnamese macrobiotic steakhouses!”), with The Other Woman, Jennifer Jennifer (Michaela Greeley.) “I hate that word, ‘Mistress’ ... I prefer ‘Homewrecker’” he says. He picks up the check for a Siamese twin Elephant-Donkey D. C. Insider (Jeff Thompson and Peter Matthews) while Fatima (Sarah Korda) belly-dances. 

But his credit card’s maxxed—the chairman of the Fed doesn’t “get” cash. His limo won’t start. An Arab cabbie (again, Craig Souza) kicks him out into “Calcutta-On-The-Potomac,” where he hob-nobs in pantomime with the Underworldlings, even breaks crack with them.  

Then he has a vision out of John 3:16, the Lazarus story. He meets “Jesus of Norway” (”He looked like Jeffrey Hunter!”), and his life changes, irrevocably. Just before his speech to Congress, he’s heard to mumble, “Feed the poor!”  

Thus the acronym WWJD?--What Would Jesus Do? 

Dickerson’s spring-loaded walk and rapid-fire gestures and expressions delineate Mal de Mer, flailing a path through this vale of tears with plenty of wry laughter. Susan Edwards’ brisk direction expedites the antics of the cast, kaleidoscopically choreographed by Casey Dacanay. The actors all switch hats with ease, working well, especially in tandem. Dickerson is well paired with Souza and Greeley in particular. The farcical style is somewhere between a 3-D comic book and the original SF Mime Troupe’s pop-eyed, ersatz Commedia Dell’Arte. 

There are characters more and more grotesque as the tale unravels, culminating with the President (encore, Peter Matthews) in camouflage jacket and bright yellow bill cap catching wiffle-ball passes from his scrimmaging advisors. He intones “I’m in the plurality business; one lost sheep, more or less, doesn’t mean much ...” to his wayward Fed Chairman, who protests, “I don’t think Jesus cares how diversified our portfolio is!” However unexemplary an Imitation of Christ WWJD? proves to be, the audience has to agree with the wistful devotional phrase said with shaking head: “A guy like Him comes along once in a blue moon!” 


Eastenders Repertory Company presents WWJD? (alternating with A Knight’s Escape) Thursday-Sunday through May 15 at Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby Ave. $15-18. 568-4118. 

‘Words and Music’At UC Berkeley By KEN BULLOCK

Tuesday May 03, 2005

Participants in a UC Berkeley “Words and Music” seminar led by composer William Bolcom, visiting Ernest Bloch lecturer in music, and poet (and UC professor) Robert Hass will present performances of their completed projects of what Bolcom has referred to as “the way words and music marry” in a Wed. May 4 afternoon reading and workshop, 2-5 p.m. at the recital hall in Morrison 125, and in a recital setting, incorporating more material (including electronic media), 8 p.m. Sat. May 14 at Berkeley Center for New Music and Audio Technology (CNMAT), 1750 Arch St. The performances are open to the public; admission is free. 

Meeting over the past semester, the weekly seminar has paired poets—mostly graduate students drawn from the English Department—with Ph.D. ca ndidates in composition from the Music Dept. to develop songs and other forms incorporating words and music, under the guidance of Bolcom, whose settings of William Blake’s “Songs of Innocence and Experience” won the Pulitzer Prize, and Hass, a past natio nal poet laureate. The seminar was sponsored by a grant from the UC Consortium for the Arts, which supports collaboration between artists, often from the different arts. 

At the Wednesday reading and workshop on May 4, musicians, singers and other perform ers, some seeing the work for the first time, will engage in an open workshop to engage with collaborative pieces by each of the seven poets and seven composers. Vocalists will include soprano Tara Generalovich, mezzo-soprano Jennifer Lane and baritone Zachary Gordin. Pianist LaDene Otsuki will accompany, along with other instrumentalists. 

The May 14 event will be more of a concert, with more diverse material from the seminar participants, including both acoustic and electronic compositions.  

“The goal was for four projects each, in different pairings between composers and poets, “ said composer and seminar participant Aaron Einbond, one of the organizers of the events. “One piece was to be in reverse process--that is, in classical music, the lyrics are composed first, followed by the music. In popular music, it’s usually the reverse. For my piece, I wrote a song in Rodgers & Hart, Cole Porter style--obviously, influenced by Bill Bolcom’s presence. Joan Morris [Bolcom’s wife, collaborator and co-lecture r] sat in many times at the seminar and would interject the singer’s perspective. 

“After random pairings at the start, we formed alliances for the final project. These were real collaborations with real process—not just handing finished poems to a composer, who then writes the music. There was a nice back and forth—and considerable aesthetic diversity, both in the poems and music—and in the results of collaboration.” 


Arts Calendar

Tuesday May 03, 2005



“Challenging Wood – Beyond the Wooden Frame” a woodworking exhibit through May 26 at the June Steingart Art Galley, Laney College, 900 Fallon St., Oakland. Reception from 5 to 8 p.m. 464-3586. 


David Rothenberg describes “Why Birds Sing: A Journey into the Mystery of Bird Song” at 7:30 p.m. at Cody’s Books. 845-7852. www.codysbooks.com  


NoMeansNo at 9 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $10. 841-2082. www.starryploughpub.com 

Front Porch, The Trainwreck Riders, JD Buck, Jr. at 9:30 p.m. at The Stork Club, 2330 Telegraph Ave., Oakland. Tickets are $5. 444-6174.  

Lynne Arriale Trio at 8 and 10 p.m. Yoshi’s at Jack London Square. Cost is $10-$14. 238-9200.  

Lyrics Born at 6:30 p.m. in Lower Sproul Plaza, UC Campus. 

Duncan James, jazz guitar, at 8 p.m. at Downtown. 649-3810. 



Fim 50: “The Saddest Music in the World” at 3 p.m. at the Pacific Film Archive. Cost is $4-$8. 642-0808.  


Rush Kidder talks about “Moral Courage” at 7:30 p.m. at Cody’s Books. 845-7852.  

Katy Turchin, poet, at 6:30 p.m. at at Belladonna, 2436 Sacramento St. Donations benefit battered women. 

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


Holy Names University Chorus and Chamber Singers at 7:30 p.m. at 3500 Mountain Blvd. Tickets are $5-$15. 436-1130. 

Del Sol String Quartet at 8 p.m. at The Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby Ave. Tickets are $7-$21. 

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

Yair Dalal, Holocaust Memorial Concert at 8:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $13-15. 525-5054.  

Deepak Ram with Debopriyo Sarkar, Indian bansuri flute, at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $17.50-$18.50. 548-1761.  

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

Stilleta, CD release, at 9 p.m. at Blakes on Telegraph. Cost is $7-$8. 848-0886.  

Marcus Shelby Jazz Orchestra at 8 and 10 p.m. at Yoshi’s at Jack London Square, through Fri. Cost is $8-$12. 238-9200.  



Alvarado Artists Group Show at Giorgi Gallery, 2911 Claremont Ave. Reception at 6 p.m. 848-1228.  

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

Earth Day Art created by Alameda County K-12 students is on display at 461 Ninth St., Oakland. Each piece of art in the Re-Create exhibit, sponsored by StopWaste.Org and the Museum of Children's Art, is made from recycled materials. Exhibition runs to May 21. 614-1699. 


“Ancestral Body Navegante,” spoken word performance by María Elena Fernandez at 7:30 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $7-$10. 849-2568.  


Festival Follies: “Words in Progress” at 5:30 p.m. at the Pacific Film Archive. Free screening. 642-0808.  


Lunch Poems with student poets at 12:10 p.m. at Morrison Library in Doe Library, UC Campus. 642-0137.  

Robert Morris’s “Blind Time Drawings” Gallery talk with Eve Meltzer at 12:15 p.m. at Berkeley Art Museum, 2625 Durant Ave. 642-0808.  

David Kirby discusses “Evidence of Harm—Mercury in Vaccines and the Autism Epidemic: A Medical Controversy” at 7:30 p.m. at Black Oak Books. 486-0698.  

John Markoff, introduces “What the Dormouse Said: How 60s Counterculture Shaped the Personal Computer Industry” at 7:30 p.m. at Cody’s Books. 845-7852.  

Word Beat Reading Series at 7 p.m. with Max Ventura and celebrating the release of David Lerner’s book, at Mediterraneum Caffe, 2475 Telegraph Ave. 526-5985.  

Diane Kirsten, poet, at 7 p.m. at the Albany Library, 1247 Marin Ave. 526-3720, ext. 17. 


Les Ballets Trocadero de Monte Carlo at 8 p.m. at Zellerbach Hall, UC Campus. Tickets are $26-$48. 642-9988.  

Beth Custer Ensemble at 9 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $10-$12. 525-5054.  

Red Riding Hood at 8:30 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $5. 841-2082 www.starryplough.com 

Za’atar, Jewish music from Arab lands, at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $17.50-$18.50. 548-1761.  

Danny Caron and John Wiitala at 8 p.m. at Downtown. 649-3810. 

Lee Ritenour & Friends at 8 and 10 p.m. through Sun. at Yoshi’s at Jack London Square., through Sun. Cost is $15-$24. 238-9200. www.yoshis.com 

David Siegel, Jenn August, Jason Miller, folk, at 8:30 p.m. at Epic Arts, 1923 Ashby Ave. Cost is $5-$10.  



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 

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 

Berkeley High School, “A Chorus Line” Fri. and Sat at 8 p.m., Sun. at 7 p.m. at the Florence Schwimley Little Theater, Berkeley High Campus. Tickets are $12 for adults, $6 for students at the door. 

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

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 

Eastenders Repertory “A Knight's Escape” and “WWJD,” Thurs. - Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 3 p.m., through May 15 at The Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby Ave. Tickets are $15-$18 available from 568-4118. 

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 

“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 


“What’s Hot in the Emerging Art Scene” a special show of emerging East Bay artists at 6 p.m. at the Oakland Museum of California, 10th and Oak Sts. Cost is $5-$8. 238-2200. www.museumca.org 

“Door to Door” Collaborations with strangers by Jon Brumit opens at Richmond Art Center, 2540 Barrett Ave., Richmond. Through May 27. 620-6772. www.therichmondartcenter.org 

“Convection” A show of new works by Ellen Babcock. Reception at 5 p.m. at Atelier Gallery, 1812 Sixth St. Exhibition runs through May 27, by appointment only. 486-1485. www.ateliergalery.net 


Berkeley Independent Festival of Digital Arts Opening Night Gala at 8 p.m. at North Berkeley Senior Center, 1901 Hearst St. Sponsored by Vista College. Tickets are $10-$20. 981-2818. www.ifdigitalarts.org 

Works from the Eisner Awards Competition, with artists in person, at 7 p.m. at Pacific Film Archive. Cost is $4-$8. 642-0808. www.bampfa.berkeley.edu 


Byron Katie talks about “I Need Your Love Is That True?” at 7:30 p.m. at First Congregational Church, 2345 Channing Way. Donation $10. Sponsored by Cody’s Books. 845-7852.  


California Bach Society Warren Stewart’s Farewell Concert at 8 p.m. at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, 2300 Bancroft Way. Pre-concert talk at 7:15 p.m. Tickets are $10-$25. 415-262-0272. www.calbach.org 

Les Ballets Trocadero de Monte Carlo at 8 p.m. at Zellerbach Hall, UC Campus. Tickets are $26-$48. 642-9988.  

University Symphony Orchestra at 8 p.m. at Hertz Hall, UC Campus. Tickets are $3-$20. 642-9988. 

Dick Hindman Trio at 8 p.m. at the Jazzschool. Cost is $18. 845-5373. www.jazzschool.com 

Cristo Cortés, gypsy flamenco singer, at 9 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $7-$10. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

The People and Alfred Howard & The K23 Orchestra at 9 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $10-$12. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

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

Adrian Gormley Quartet, jazz, at 8 p.m. at Caffe Trieste, 2500 San Pablo Ave., at Dwight. 548-5198.  

Lua, a quartet of voices, percussion and strings at 6:30 p.m. at Café Valpariso, 3105 Shattuck Ave. 841-3800. 

The Herms, The Krose, Jack Killed Jill, punk, alt, indie rock at 9 p.m. at Blakes on Telegraph. Cost is $7-$8. 848-0886. www.blakesontelegraph.com 

Casey Neill at 9:30 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $7. 841-2082. www.starryploughpub.com 

Jessica Neighbor & The Hood at 9 p.m. at Downtown. 649-3810. 

Itsawhale at 7:30 p.m. at Nomad Cafe, 6500 Shattuck Ave. 595-5344. www.nomadcafe.net 

Kill the Dream, Die Young, Invictus Maneo at 8 p.m. at 924 Gilman St., an all-ages, member-run, no alcohol, no drugs, no violence club. Cost is $7. 525-9926. 

Lee Ritenour & Friends at 8 and 10 p.m. through Sun. at Yoshi’s at Jack London Square., through Sun. Cost is $15-$24. 238-9200. www.yoshis.com 



Los Amiguitos de La Peña with Rosie & The Railroaders at 10:30 a.m. at La Peña. Cost is $4 for adults, $3 for children. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 


Rough and Tumble “The Devil is an Ass” by Ben Jonson at 7:30 p.m. at Temescal Arts Center, 511 48th St. at Telegraph, Oakland. Free, donations accepted. 601-1444. 


Alvarado Artists Group Show with works by Kristen Jensen, Sally Smith, Ross Carlton and James and Gillian Servais at the Giorgi Gallery, 2911 Claremont Ave. Reception for the artists at 1 p.m. 848-1228.  

Akio Takamori, functional porcelain ceramics, at Trax Gallery, 1812 Fifth St. 540-8729. www.traxgallery.com 


Berkeley Independent Festival of Digital Arts from noon to 9 p.m. at North Berkeley Senior Center, 1901 Hearst St. Sponsored by Vista College. Tickets are $5-$10. 981-2818. www.ifdigitalarts.org 


“Investigative Journalism and ‘The People’s Temple’” at 5 p.m. at Berkeley Rep, 2015 Addison St. Free. 647-2949. www.berkeleyrep.org 

Andrew Bacevich describes “The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War” at 2:30 p.m. at Cody’s Books. 845-7852.  

Hip-Hop Aesthetics in Theater at noon at La Peña Cultural Center. Free. 849-2568.  

Bay Area Poets Coalition open reading at 3 p.m. at Strawberry Creek Lodge, 1320 Addison St. Park on the street. Free. 527-9905. poetalk@aol.com 


Berkeley Opera “Macbeth” by Verdi, with the UC Alumni Chorus at 8 p.m. at Julia Morgan Theater. Tickets are $15-$40. 841-1903. www.berkeleyopera.org 

Berkeley Community Chorus and Orchestra Duruflé “Requiem” at 8 p.m. at St. Joseph the Worker Church, 1640 Addison St. free, donations accepted. www.bcco.org 

Les Ballets Trocadero de Monte Carlo at 8 p.m. at Zellerbach Hall, UC Campus. Tickets are $26-$48. 642-9988. www.calperfs.berkeley.edu 

University Symphony Orchestra at 8 p.m. at Hertz Hall, UC Campus. Tickets are $3-$20. 642-9988. 

Volti “Copeland’s American Landscape” at 8 p.m. at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, 2300 Bancroft Way. Tickets are $8-$20. 415-771-3352. www.voltisf.org 

“Angela’s Mixtape” by Eisa Davis, a musical montage of her life growing up with activist aunt Angela Davis. Sat. and Sun. at 8 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. 849-2568, ext. 20. www.lapena.org  

Mother’s Day Gospel Concert featuring Pamela Adams at 5:30 p.m. at Miracles of Faith Community Church, 4335 Virginia Ave., Oakland. Donations benefit the American Breast Cancer Society. 326-6190. 

Del Sol String Quartet at 8 p.m. at the Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby Ave. Tickets are $7-$21. 415-831-5672. www.delsolquartet.com 

G.S. Sachdev and Swapan Chaudhuri, classical North Indian Ragas at 7:30 p.m. at St. John’s Presbyterian Church, 2727 College Ave. Tickets are $23-$32. 415-259-8629. www.bansuri.net 

Robin Flower & Libby McLaren, celtic americana, at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $18.50-$19.50. 548-1761.  


Tempest, Sharon Night at 9:30 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $12. 841-2082. www.starryploughpub.com 

Mumbo Gumbo at 9 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $13-$15. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

Viv Savage, The Morning Electric, Glasshour at 9:30 at Blakes on Telegraph. Cost is $8. 848-0886. www.blakesontelegraph.com 

Braziu, Brazilian music, at 9 p.m. at Shattuck Down Low, 2284 Shattuck Ave. Cost is $15. 548-1159. www.shattuckdownlow.com 

Samantha Raven and friends at 7:30 p.m. at Nomad Cafe, 6500 Shattuck Ave. 595-5344. www.nomadcafe.net 

Weber Iago Trio at 8 p.m. at the Jazzschool. Cost is $12-$18. 845-5373. www.jazzschool.com  

Meli at 9:30 p.m. at Capoeira Arts Cafe, 2026 Addison St. Donation $6. 

Mark Holzinger, acoustic guitar at Spuds Pizzeria, corner of Alcatraz & Adeline. Cost is $7.  

Dick Conte Trio at 9 p.m. at Downtown. 649-3810. 

Das Oath, Look Back and Laugh, Shook Ones at 8 p.m. at 924 Gilman St. Cost is $7. 525-9926. 



Mother’s Day Concert with Mary Miche at 3 p.m. at Tilden Nature Center. 525-2233. 

Juan Sanchez at Ashkenaz at 3 p.m. Cost is $4-$6. 525-5054.  

Kathy Kallick Mother’s Day Show at 1 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $7.50-$9.50. 548-1761. 


“The Art of the Launch” an exhibition of graphic art, photographs and memorabilia relating to the 747 ships built at the Kaiser shipyards during WWII, at the Richmond Museum, 400 Nevin Ave. 235-7387. richmondmuseumofhistory.org 

“Sephardic Horizons” a tour with Judaica curator, Elayne Grossbard at 1:30 p.m., colloquium at 2 p.m. at Judah L. Magnes Museum, 2911 Russell St. 549-6950. www.magnes.org 

“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.  


Poetry Flash with Elizabeth Treadwell and Liz Waldner at 7:30 p.m. at Cody’s Books. Donation $2. 845-7852.  


Berkeley Youth Orchestra featuring 14-year-old Jack Draper, clarinet, at 2:30 p.m. at Laney College Theater in Oakland. Donation $5. 663-3296. 

Steve Wedgwood, baritone, with Michelle Diaz, soprano, in an AIDS Benefit Recital at 4 p.m. at Northbrae Community Church, 941 The Alameda. Donation. 526-3805. 

Gypsy Crossings featuring Biréli Lagrene and Taraf de Haidouks at 7 p.m. at Zellerbach Hall, UC Campus. Tickets are $22-$42. 642-9988.  

Berkeley Community Chorus and Orchestra Duruflé “Requiem” at 4:30 p.m. at St. Joseph the Worker Church, 1640 Addison St. Free, donations accepted. www.bcco.org 

California Revels A Mothers Day Tribute to All Mothers at 2 p.m. at Julia Morgan Center for the Arts. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for children. 925-798-1300.  

A Cappella Concert for Mother’s Day with a quartet from the Russian male chorus Slavyanka at 1:30 p.m. at the Oakland Museum of California, 10th and Oak Sts. 238-2200.  

NATyA “The Elements” Indian classical dance at 6 p.m. at Julia Morgan Center for the Arts. Tickets are $11-$15. 925-798-1300.  

Carlos Zialcita Jazztet at 7 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $9. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

New Works for Jazz and Indian Dance at 4:30 at the Jazzschool. Cost is $12-$18. 845-5373.  

John Renbourn with Jacqui McShee at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $20.50-$21.50. 548-1761. ª

Cliff Swallows Use Social Strategies for Survival By JOE EATON

Special to the Planet
Tuesday May 03, 2005

Walking across the UC campus in mid-April, I noticed a couple of cliff swallows orbiting Hertz Hall and spotted a jug-shaped mud nest under the building’s eaves. I seem to recall a long-running battle between the swallows and the university’s maintenance crews which involved blasting the nests away with hoses. But the persistent birds keep coming back. 

There are places in the Coast Range, along Del Puerto Canyon Road and Corral Hollow Road, where you can still find cliff swallows nesting on cliffs. But, like barn swallows and chimney swifts, these birds have adapted readily to human structures: buildings, bridges, freeway underpasses, culverts. They’re a colonial species; some cliff swallow nest sites contain up to 3,700 pairs. 

Biologists have argued for years about the propensity of some birds to nest in large groups. Some claimed it was a matter of safety in numbers: Group size dilutes the risk of predation. This ties in with a phenomenon called the Fraser Darling Effect, after British ornithologist Sir Frank Fraser Darling, in which mating, egg-laying, and hatching is synchronized among birds in a colony. The timing is supposed to overwhelm potential predators with a flush of eggs and young and improve the odds that any given nesting pair will succeed in raising their family. In some birds, like yellow-billed magpies, breeding seems to be limited by a minimum colony size. 

A couple of decades back, the Israeli ecologist Amotz Zahavi countered this notion with his “information center” hypothesis: the idea that birds nest colonially to take advantage of their neighbors’ discovery of food sources. That seems a more likely explanation of coloniality in large birds like Old World vultures that are not vulnerable to predation. 

For the past 20 years, Charles and Mary Brown of the University of Tulsa have been testing these and other models of colonial behavior with culvert-nesting cliff swallows along the Platte River in Nebraska. As recounted in Charles Brown’s Swallow Summer, an engaging diary of field work, they’ve learned remarkable things about the costs and benefits of being social, and the strategies that the birds use to maximize their reproductive output.  

The Browns are convinced that cliff swallow colonies do function as information centers. The birds pay attention to what their neighbors bring back to the nest. A swallow coming home with a mouthful of insects has clearly hit pay dirt, and it’s a good idea to follow him or her on the next foray. They can also tell from flight behavior whether a bird is heading back to an insect swarm. 

But there’s a downside to colonial living. Cliff swallows have to cope with a host of ectoparasites, the worst being Oeciacus vicarius, the swallow bug, a relative of the bedbug that plagues humans. Over a thousand of these little bloodsuckers have been found in a single swallow nest. The larger the swallow colony, the worse the infestation. Swallow bugs and other pests clearly depress the birds’ reproductive success; the Browns found that experimentally fumigated colonies boomed as more swallows moved to the parasite-free location. 

That’s only one kind of parasitism, though. Cliff swallows are not the best of neighbors: “These little birds do rotten things to each other,” Brown says. Extra-pair copulations are frequent; males will attempt to mate with strange females as they gather mud for nest construction. Swallows will steal a neighbor’s nest material, both the wet mud that forms the nest and the grass that lines it. Intruders will even enter another pair’s nest and toss out the eggs. Nestlings plant themselves in a strange nest and intercept the owners’ food deliveries to their own chicks. And one of the first things the Browns discovered was that some swallows are brood parasites, like the infamous cuckoos and cowbirds. Early on they found two freshly laid eggs in the same nest on the same day, evidence that someone had been egg-dumping. They eventually figured that up to a quarter of the nests in the larger colonies were parasitized.  

Successful brood parasitism requires speed and stealth. One female managed to lay an egg in 15 seconds while the homeowners were fending off another intruder. Parasitic females time their visits to reduce the likelihood of bumping into the host female.  

Remarkably, the Browns found that some swallows picked up their own eggs in their beaks and moved them to a neighboring nest. They verified this by marking eggs and seeing which turned up in new nests, and eventually catching females in the act.  

Unlike cuckoos, parasitic female swallows also raise their own young in their own nests. By parasitizing their neighbors, they avoid putting all their eggs in one basket, hedging their bets against losses from predation, an excess of swallow bugs, or the collapse of the nest. They also seem able to assess the quality of the nests where they sneak in their eggs, choosing those with fewer bugs. The Browns found that annual and lifetime reproductive success—fitness, in the Darwinian sense of leaving the greatest number of descendants—was higher for parasitic females than for either hosts or nonparasitized birds. 

So swallows nesting in a large colony increase their risk of raising someone else’s offspring. The Browns’ most recent research shows that a cliff swallow’s choice of colony size has a genetic basis. They moved nestlings from small colonies to foster homes in large colonies and vice versa; when they matured, the birds followed the colony-size preference of their biological parents, not their foster parents. The sum of all those tradeoffs—information about food, insurance against predators, vulnerability to parasitic insects and to their own kind—is somehow encoded in a swallow’s genome, along with instructions for building their nests, migration routes between California (or Nebraska) and South America, and a taste for flying insects.

County School Board Moves to Shield Students From Recruters By J. DOUGLAS ALLEN-TAYLOR

Friday April 29, 2005

The Alameda County Board of Education is asking its 18 school districts to take a more aggressive stand concerning military recruiters, encouraging them to adopt a controversial “opt in” policy to inform students, parents and legal guardians “of their rights to withhold their child’s name and contact information to the military recruiters.” 

The “opt in” policy is so controversial that even the anti-war organizer who brought the military recruitment issue to the board believes that the policy is against federal law. The resolution was passed unanimously at Tuesday’s board meeting. 

Under President George Bush’s 2001 No Child Left Behind Act, federal funds can be withheld from any school district unless they provide military recruiters with access to the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of all secondary school students. 

The act provides a “consent” provision that parents or students can request that students’ personal information not be released to recruiters “without prior written parental consent,” and several local school districts—including Albany Unified and Fremont Unified—have interpreted this to mean that the districts must provide military recruiters with student information unless parents sign a form specifically requesting the district not do so. Some call this the “opt out” policy, because it gives parents the option to have their children kept out of the information network. 

However, other local districts, including Berkeley Unified, have adopted a more liberal interpretation of the “consent” provision, stating that they will presume that parents do not wish to have their children’s personal information released to military recruiters unless the parents fill out a form consenting to that release. Observers call this the “opt in” policy. 

In Tuesday’s resolution, county school board members noted that NCLB “requires school districts to inform your students and their parents of their ‘opt-out’ rights.” But the resolution went on to state that “students, parents and legal guardians should be informed that if a notice is not provided the high school will assume that they do not authorize the school to release the requested information and their child’s name and contact information will not be released.” 

In a 2003 letter to the Santa Cruz City High School District Board of Education, when that district was considering adopting the “opt-in” policy, American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California staff attorney Ann Brick wrote that the federal act is not clear on how schools must notify parents or the procedure the school must use to determine parents’ wishes concerning the release of student directory information. 

“The assumption that parents do not object to the release of this information simply because they have not expressed their wishes is very problematic,” he wrote, “particularly when the information is provided as part of a much larger packet of information sent to parents at the beginning of the school year. All too often parents will only learn after-the-fact that information they wished to be kept private has been released to the military when an unsolicited recruitment telephone call or letter is received.” 

According to a statement by Josh Sonnenfield with the Santa Cruz-based Resource Center for Nonviolence, one of the groups that lobbied for the Santa Cruz opt-in provision, “in the summer of 2003, the Federal Government sent out a letter to every State Secretary of Education noting their opposition to opt-in and their belief that opt-in was not legal. That led to a crackdown on districts with opt-in in California. However opt-in still exists in a few places on the East Coast.” 

Barbara Heringer-Swar, a military resistance organizer who brought the issue to the Alameda County Board of Education, said following the board vote she believed the “opt-in” provision was “against the law.” 

Heringer-Swar, who has a son at Hayward High School and is employed by the Central Committee For Conscientious Objectors in Oakland, said her concern was that county schools were not even informing parents that they could “opt out” of the information program. 

“I thought this was a no-brainer,” she told board members. “Parents ought to be able to choose who contacts their children. If we ask parents to give consent for their children’s’ pictures to go in a newspaper, we should be asking them to give consent about going to war.” 

Under Berkeley Unified’s military recruiter information provision, passed in 2003, parents of high school students are provided with a form in the Student/Parent Handbook asking the parents to check a box and sign their names stating: “Please DO release my student’s name, and address, and/or telephone number.” The form goes on to inform parents that if they “do not check a box and sign above, [the high school] will NOT release your child’s information to military recruiters.” 

BUSD Public Information Officer Mark Coplan said that under Berkeley Unified’s program, only 27 parents had chosen to opt in to the military information program. 

“Because we expected the numbers of ‘opt-in’ students to be so low in Berkeley, this partly a measure to minimize paperwork,” Coplan said. “We knew there would be far more forms to be filled out and handled by the district if we had asked parents to opt out.” 

Coplan added that he thought Berkeley’s system was “a better use of time for the military recruiters themselves. It means they don’t have to waste their time with students who don’t want to be contacted.” 

Fremont Unified School District Communications Director Gary Leatherman said that in the spring of 2003 the district began sending out letters to the parents of juniors and seniors in the district’s five high schools and one continuation school “informing them that unless the district has a request on file that the parent does not want such information released, when recruiters ask for their children’s names, addresses, and telephone numbers, it will be released.” 

Leatherman said that an “opt out” form is now included in the district’s Parents Rights Handbook. Leatherman said that of the district’s 4,320 junior and senior students, 730 have requested to opt out of the military recruitment information program. He called that number “fairly significant.” 

Leatherman said that Fremont Unified is also considering adding a provision to the form that allows parents to excuse their children from any presentations by military recruiters on campus. 


Council OKs UC Bridge Plan, Demands Higher Sewer Fees By MATTHEW ARTZ

Friday April 29, 2005

Shortly after the clock struck midnight Wednesday, the City Council breathed new life into a pedestrian bridge proposed to rise 21 feet above Hearst Avenue. 

By a 6-3 vote (Wozniak, Spring and Olds, no) the council gave UC Berkeley conditional approval to build the bridge connecting dormitories at the Foothill Housing Complex. But before the council relinquishes the city’s air rights over Hearst Avenue, it is demanding that the university indemnify the city against a lawsuit threatened by a local property owner opposed to the project. 

The council rejected a second proposed condition: to lease the air rights to the university only at a yet-to-be-determined fair market price. 

The council also voted Tuesday to raise taxpayers’ sewer fees by 3 percent and to charge UC Berkeley sewer fees based on usage instead of accepting the current flat fee. UC has argued that it’s not legally required to pay the full cost of its sewer use. 

In other matters, the council overturned the structure of merit designation of Celia’s Mexican Restaurant, a building at Fourth and Addison streets which is scheduled for demolition to make way for a new condominium project. The council also requested that the school district hold off on choosing a new site for the city’s warm water pool.  

Additionally the council held a two-and-a-half hour public hearing on cuts in funding for community agencies. The agencies brought so many of their clients and supporters to the meeting that at one point while the council was in session more than 100 people, denied entry to the capacity-filled chambers, clamored outside Old City Hall. 


Foothill Bridge 

The council vote to allow the bridge was a split decision for UC Berkeley. The university has sought city permission for the air rights over Hearst Avenue at La Loma Avenue for nearly 20 years, contending that it wants to improve pedestrian safety for students and improve access to the La Loma dormitory on the north side of Hearst for disabled students. 

The university has agreed to pay Berkeley $200,000 for the right to build over a city street, and to ask the city to approve the bridge design. 

UC Berkeley planner Jennifer Lawrence said the university would probably have to ask the UC Regents for authority to repay the city for any losses which result from lawsuits now threatened against the proposed bridge. A possible plaintiff is New Education Development Systems, Inc, an organization with ties to the Unification Church headed by Rev. Sun Myung Moon, which owns a landmarked building at 2717 Hearst Ave., just uphill from the proposed bridge. 

The group’s attorney, Alan Seher, said that the university did not legally qualify for the encroachment permit under city law because it would not be “substantially damaged” if the city refused. On the issue of whether UC Berkeley had adequately studied alternatives to the bridge, he said that he’d found information that the university had a network of underground tunnels, including one under Gayley Road adjacent to the Foothill complex.  

Seher said that even though the council attached a condition to the permit, the vote triggered a 90-day window for his client to file suit against the city independent of the UC Regents’ vote on whether to indemnify the city. 

“The city I don’t think was thinking very clearly when they voted to demand the university to indemnify them,” he said, explaining that if the UC Regents declined the city could still face a lawsuit. 

UC students in attendance supporting the bridge plan cheered the council vote. Councilmember Gordon Wozniak, the council’s biggest proponent of the bridge, was resolutely against adding the indemnification clause and stormed out of the council chambers after the vote. He did not return for the remainder of the meeting. 

Also dissatisfied with the vote was Jim Sharp who lives near the proposed bridge site and has opposed the project. 

“The council is still giving [the air rights] away,” he said. “Had they gotten a bigger pot of money then maybe there would be some justice to this.” 

With only four votes in favor, the council failed to pass a proposal from Councilmember Kriss Worthington to add a second condition to the variance ordering UC Berkeley to pay an undetermined fair market value for the air rights over Hearst. Joining Worthington in support of the proposal were councilmembers Dona Spring, Betty Olds and Max Anderson. 

“I think this is a joke that we’re going to get a measly $200,000 and then we’re going to get sued,” Olds said, directing her anger at UC officials. “I can’t believe what a bunch of namby pambies you all are.” 

But City Manager Phil Kamlarz said that it would be difficult to assess the fair market value of air rights. 

Councilmember Linda Maio said charging fair market value for the rights might be too big a burden for the university. 

“We don’t want to have so many conditions that we’re denying it,” she said. 


Sewer Fees 

By a 8-1 vote (Worthington, no) the council voted to raise residents’ sewer fees 3 percent and also to charge sewer usage fees to UC Berkeley for the first time. When the council held a public hearing on the fees two weeks ago UC Berkeley attorney Jason Houghton, of Thelen Rein & Priest, argued that the action was illegal because the university and city have a 15-year agreement on sewers that hasn’t expired yet, and that as a state entity UCB is exempt from the type of fees the city sought to charge.  

Currently UC Berkeley pays a flat $470,000 for sewer services under an agreement which expires June 30. Under the new fee schedule, the university might pay as much as $2.18 million for operation, maintenance and replacement costs. 

Councilmember Worthington said he was concerned that the wording of the new fee schedule might give city officials too much leeway to charge public agencies like the university less than a fair market price. He also wanted to know whether the new fee schedules would affect the ability of taxpayers, including homeowners and businesses, to sue the city or university for in effect making them subsidize the university’s sewer costs.  



Celia’s Landmarking 

The developer of a condominium project has one less hurdle to overcome now that the council overturned the structure of merit designation for 2040 Fourth St. (Celia’s Mexican Restaurant). Had the council allowed the decision of the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission to stand, Urban Housing Group would have needed Zoning Adjustment Board approval to demolish the building. 

The landmarks commission had asked the council to remand the designation back to them in light of findings from Urban Housing Group’s consultant Jay Turnbull that the architect who designed Celia’s, Irwin Johnson, had designed 11 other buildings in Berkeley. 

“We find it fascinating to have new information,” said Landmarks Commissioner Leslie Emmington, arguing for the commission to take a second look at the designation. Noting that a 1985 survey of West Berkeley classified the building as significant, Emmington held that the proposed development had not influenced the commission’s vote. She also questioned why planning staff was recommending that the commission’s 5-4 vote be overturned. 

Addressing the council, Turnbull, an architectural historian said that Celia’s was not one of Johnson’s most important works and that the building had undergone extensive interior and exterior alterations. 

With hardly any debate, the council voted 7-1-1 (Worthington, no; Olds, abstain) to overturn the ruling. Olds hinted she might have joined the majority if they had a longer discussion. 

“I know we’re in a hurry today, but this is awfully important,” she said. 


Warm Water Pool 

At 12:29 a.m. Wednesday the council voted to request Berkeley Unified not to choose a location for a new warm water pool, a popular recreation facility for disabled residents, until the council reviews its options. On May 11 the school board is scheduled to vote on a plan to move the pool from Berkeley High’s Old Gym to the tennis courts across Milvia Street. The project is expected to cost about $7 million, however the city only has $3.25 million committed to the project. 

The council rejected a proposal from Councilmember Spring to ask the district to put $1 million towards the project. 


Funding For Community Non-profits 

Representatives of 30 Berkeley non-profits paraded before the council asking them to soften proposed cuts to their groups by transferring money currently recommended for capital projects like street repairs. 

Berkeley non-profits are facing tough times. With the city looking to close an $8.9 million structural deficit, City Manager Phil Kamlarz has proposed cutting funding to community agencies by a total of nine percent. Adding to the pain, the Bush administration has cut federal programs the city uses to fund the groups as well. 

On May 10, the council is scheduled to approve allocating more than $5 million in federal funds to local non-profits. The council plans to approve over $4 million in allocations from the city’s $115 million general fund when the council adopts its budget in June. 

The city manager’s recommendations target reductions based on performance. Not surprisingly those groups facing steeper cuts urged the council to restore their funding. 

“We’re not very happy about being treated inequitably,” said Marty Lynch, director of Lifelong Medical. The group’s acupuncture detox clinic has been targeted for a 20 percent cut that Lynch said would be a crippling blow. 

Moe Wright of Chaplaincy for the Homeless, which runs a homeless youth drop in center, questioned why overall funds for homeless youth were proposed to be slashed 40 percent.  

“Why make homeless youth a priority and then cut it more than other services?” he asked. 


Battle Over City Landmarks Ordinance Dominates Planning Commission Meeting By RICHARD BRENNEMAN

Friday April 29, 2005

The struggle over Berkeley’s landmarks generated lots of heat for city planning commissioners Wednesday night during a spirited three-and-a-half-hour hearing in the North Berkeley Senior Center. 

At issue were proposed revisions to the city Landmarks Preservation Ordinance (LPO) and the role of the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) in determining the fate of historic buildings in the city. 

First to speak was former Planning Commissioner Nancy Holland, who until earlier this year filled the seat now occupied by Gene Poschman. 

Holland praised the commission as “incredibly important,” hailing its role “as part of a very important effort which saved parts of our town from being totally demolished” while faulting her own former commission for “trying to change something overnight.” 

She declared, “It’s not the right way of doing things.” 

Next up was Daily Planet executive editor and former landmarks commissioner Becky O’Malley, who wasted little time in launching into her attack. 

“A lot of time and city money went into the revisions,” she said, “and to have a group of people who frankly don’t know what they’re talking about (proposing revisions) is frankly something of a joke. I do hope you do an environmental impact report (EIR), because there will be tremendous impacts” from the proposed changes. 

The need for an EIR was also raised in a letter by noted environmental and preservation attorney Susan Brandt-Hawley, who has been retained by the Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association (BAHA). 

The lawyer raised six specific provisions of the Planning Commission subcommittee’s proposed changes that could reduce protections to historic and cultural resources. 

Under the LPC recommendations, the landmarks panel would have authority to approve or deny demolitions to buildings designated as landmarks or structures of merit, with the Zoning Adjustments Board having the power to approve or deny demolitions under the zoning ordinance. 

The planning subcommittee proposed that the LPC’s role in demolitions would be restricted to advising ZAB. 

In cases where ZAB and the LPC disagree, the LPC revisions call for a resolution by the City Council, while the planning subcommittee version offered three alternatives without recommending any. 

While the LPC version calls for retaining control over modifications to structures of merit, the planning subcommittee offered no recommendations.  

The issue of demolitions was particularly thorny, but equally controversial was a planning subcommittee recommendation that seeks to establish a new procedure to allow any property owner to ask the LPC for a binding “request for determination” of their structure’s eligibility for landmark status. 

Under the current LPC procedures, such decisions are only made on the basis of completed applications for landmark status. 

Structures of merit proved particularly troublesome. This category allows buildings to obtain landmark protection even in the face of alterations of the original structure. The LPC wants to retain the category, subject to future review, while the planning panel would keep the category but reduce the protections for the structure under state environmental law. 

Two days before the Planning Commission meet, the Berkeley City Council overturned the LPC’s designation of the Celia’s Restaurant building. 

That structure, located on a block earmarked for construction of a multistory apartment and retail complex, was given the designation Feb. 7 in the same meeting where LPC members voted against designating Brennan’s Irish Pub, another structure slated for the wrecking ball. 

The structure of merit designation was picked because of later additions which had altered the architectural integrity of the structure. 

And the remaining major sticking point between the two version of the ordinance is concept of integrity itself. The LPC draft calls for applying the term strictly only in cases where the architectural merit of a structure is the primary basis for designation. The commission would loosen the definition when historical and cultural reasons dominated the application submission. 

Wednesday’s meeting drew the lion’s share of the current LPC members—Chair Jill Korte, Vice Chair Carrie Olson and members Fran Packard, Patricia Dacey, James Samuels, Robert Johnson and Steven Winkel. 

With the exception of Packard—a Tom Bates appointee—they rose to defend the commission and its version of the new law. Packard, however, reversed the position she had taken the year before and declared, “I no longer support giving the LPC authority to deny demolitions or to determine the level of environmental review. 

Two speakers from Livable Berkeley—Alan Tobey and Mike Friedrich—sided with the planning subcommittee. Tobey called for “pre-application review” of structures on the site of proposed developments, an end to the structure of merit, and to “improve efficiency by rejecting inappropriate requests to increase the landmarks commission’s power.” 

Tobey called the Celia’s designation “distasteful,” and charged that the structure of merit designation “is almost always granted as a politically motivated consolation prize.” 

John Norheim and Don Yost, two well-connected West Berkeley commercial realtors, also sided with the planning subcommittee in calling for an end to the structure of merit. Norheim went so far as to call for transferring the power to designate landmarks to ZAB, with the LPC acting only in an advisory role. 

Rena Rickles, an Oakland attorney who is perhaps the leading land use attorney in cases before the city of Berkeley, also called for an end to the structure of merit. 

“I also know about the elephant in the living room, because if you want to delay a project in the city of Berkeley, you take it to the Landmarks Commission,” she said. 

Also siding against the LPC was Michael Goldin, a member of the newly former West Berkeley Business Alliance (WBBA), an organization composed of corporations, Bayer being the biggest, realtors, and professionals. One member is developer Dan Diebel, who plans to build on the Celia’s site. Another is Ali Kashani, whose plans to build at the Drayage site sparked an ongoing struggle between the city and residents who don’t want to move. 

WBBA members called for strict compliance with architectural conformity, an end to the structure of merit and the “request for determination.”  

But the majority of speakers Tuesday sided with the LPC, including current landmarks commissioners Leslie Emmington, Dacey, Robert Johnson, Vice Chair Carrie Olson, and Chair Jill Korte. 

Olson noted that neither the structure of merit category nor the issue of integrity were included among the eight points the City Council originally asked commissioners to consider revising. She said the issues in Berkeley were reflective of a broader current in American society, “where developers are pitted against historic structures.” 

Johnson, who also serves on the board of the Green Belt Alliance, a group that, like Livable Berkeley, supports infill development in cities, strongly supported the dominant role for the LPC in reviewing proposed demolitions of landmarks. 

Former members testifying in support of the LPC’s proposals included Susan Cerny, author of Berkeley Landmarks, Susan Chase, and former LPC chair Laurie Bright. 

Burton Edwards, a former chair, differed from the others in calling for an end to the structure of merit and strict adherence to the standards of integrity set by the National Register of Historic Places. He sided with current commissioners on the issue of demolitions, and said that commissioners needed more training before they could make decisions on application of environmental law. 

Commission Chair Jill Korte spoke against granting ZAB the power to designate landmarks, pointing out that city ordinance demands that LPC members have strong expertise in historic, cultural, architectural and archaeological issues, while no such demand is placed on ZAB. 

She also cited a letter from the state Office of Historic Preservation to city Planning Manager Mark Rhoades calling for designation power to vest in the LPC. “This is not ZAB’s mission” she said. 

Wednesday’s meeting marks the end of public testimony before the Planning Commission. The group will continue its discussion of the proposed revisions at their next meeting on May 12.›

Neighbors File Suit Against Owner of Alleged Drug Den By MATTHEW ARTZ

Friday April 29, 2005

Hoping to rid themselves of a neighbor whose home has been targeted by police for over two decades as a drug hot spot, 15 South Berkeley residents filed suit Monday charging the homeowner has created a neighborhood nuisance. 

“I pick up used condoms and crack baggies from the front yard, I deal with shouting crackheads in the middle of the night and I wonder if there will be a drive-by,” said Paul Rauber, a plaintiff and neighbor. 

Rauber said he added his name to the lawsuit last October, when, on the morning after a police raid on his next-door neighbor’s house, his daughter picked up a hypodermic needle from his backyard and asked “daddy, what’s this?” 

“I can’t raise a child in an environment like that,” he said. 

In a suit filed in small claims court, the neighbors are each asking for the maximum $5,000 award from Lenora Moore, the owner of 1610 Oregon St. Group filings of such legal actions, known as nuisance suits, have become a popular and sometimes successful tool for residents seeking to force out neighbors they say damage their quality of life. 

Contacted by telephone at her home Wednesday, Moore, 75, said she hadn’t decided whether or not to bend to neighborhood pressure and sell the home she said her grandparents purchased nearly 90 years ago. 

“I’d like to stay here, I’d like to die here,” said Moore, a life-long Berkeley resident and former president of the South Berkeley Women’s Health Center. She added that family associates were working with her to address neighbors’ concerns and that authorities have issued stay-away orders against several of her family members, who neighbors blame for the drug activity at the house. 

“Things have quieted down,” she said. “I don’t think we are a nuisance.” 

The lawsuit this week is not the first time neighbors have gone to the courts to pressure Moore to sell her home. In 1992 a small claims court judge ordered Moore to pay neighbors $155,000 in damages for hampering their quality of life. 

She refused to pay. Then, on the same day the neighbors moved to freeze the family’s bank accounts, Carl Babcock, the lead plaintiff in the case, said a young man riding a bicycle hurled a Molotov cocktail at his home. 

“Luckily it hit the fence,” said Babcock, who left Berkeley shortly after watching the fence go up in flames. “I think the Moores are very dangerous people.”  

Sam Herbert, a plaintiff, said the reason only 15 neighbors joined the current suit was fear of reprisal. “The fear is real, it’s not baseless,” she said. “I’ve been followed. I’ve had someone drive by my house and point a gun at me.” 

Last October, police raided the house and found cocaine, heroin, packaging materials and a semiautomatic handgun.  

The bust and preceding surveillance operation resulted in five arrests, including two of Lenora Moore’s sons, Ralph Perry, 53, for sales of heroin, possession of cocaine and a probation violation and Alex Perry, 54, for sales of heroin, felony possession of a firearm and a parole violation. 

The brothers got off with probation despite each having a long criminal history. On Jan. 24, Alex Perry was arraigned on possession of a controlled substance (crack) with three prior convictions. He was also prosecuted in June 1993, April 1997, and last November for violating his probation. Ralph Perry’s first controlled substance conviction was on Aug. 2, 1985, though he was convicted of burglary in 1980 and of receiving stolen property seven months later. 

Last June he was arrested at the Oregon Street address on charges of possession of controlled substances and as an ex-felon in possession of ammunition. He was sentenced to 16 months in San Quentin for the drug charge, which was reduced to probation on July 28. After the October arrest for selling heroin, he was granted parole on Dec. 30, 2004 after serving 65 days in jail. 

In the arrest report last October, Berkeley Police Officer Mike Durbin wrote: “The 1600 block of Oregon Street is a heavily documented drug ‘hot spot’ confirmed by drug-related calls for service. 1610 Oregon St. is particularly problematic with numerous complains of street level drug dealing.” 

From Jan. 2003 through Dec. 2004, police received nearly 100 calls for service to 1610 Oregon, according to a city police report. 

“The nuisance at the Moore house has been a subject of constant discussion at every single neighborhood meeting,” said Laura Menard, president of the Russell Oregon California Streets Neighborhood Association and a plaintiff in the suit against Lenora Moore. She said city staff and police address the neighbors regularly with reports on actions at the Moore house. 

When police action failed to abate the problem during the 1990s, former Mayor Shirley Dean said city officials sent in building inspectors to look for code violations. “We were really trying to bring resolution to a long litany of problems at the property,” she said. 

The inspections turned up numerous code violations, but did not succeed in driving the family from the property, Dean said. Ultimately, in 2000, the City Council ordered the Moores to reside at a hotel for several weeks at city expense, while the family paid for repairs. 

When it comes to forcing homeowners from their homes, the city has few options, said Michael Caplan of Berkeley’s problem property team. “Because it’s between private parties on private property there is little we can do,” he said. “The city doesn’t have the power to put someone out of their house for nuisance activity.” 

Caplan said that in similar cases, the city has stepped up police activity at the properties. 

The neighbors are coordinating the case with Oakland-based Neighborhood Solutions. In the past two years, the company has won nuisance suits against UC Berkeley Student Co-op Le Chateau and James Ross, the former owner of a house at Ninth Street and Allston Way that neighbors said was the center of drug activity. Ross sold his house soon after losing a nuisance case and Le Chateau’s management have agreed to transform it into quieter graduate student housing. However, when it comes to collecting money, nuisance suit plaintiffs have been less successful.  

Grace Neufield of Neighborhood Solutions said her clients have not yet collected a dime from the roughly 10 cases they have won. 

“It takes a while to get to the point where you have a lien on the property,” she said, adding that defendants can sometimes use legal maneuvers to avoid paying damages. 

Moore managed not to pay damages from the previous neighborhood suit by filing for bankruptcy, Babcock said.  

If the Moores leave Oregon Street, Rauber said he would be happy not to receive a cent from the nuisance suit. 

“I just want the nuisance to stop. I’m convinced the only way that will happen is if she and her family move,” he said. “What else could we do? It’s worth a try.” 

BAHA Spring Tour Features Stellar Homes and Scenery By RICHARD BRENNEMAN

Friday April 29, 2005

On Sunday afternoon, architecture and history buffs will have the chance for a unique first-hand look at some works by the most famous names in architecture from Bernard Maybeck to Frank Lloyd Wright. 

The Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association is hosting its 30th annual Spring House Tour and Garden Reception on Panoramic Hill, an area which was recently unanimously nominated by the State Historic Preservation Commission for the status of a National Historic District. 

The tour, which runs from 1-5 p.m., features stunning homes offering what Los Angeles real estate agents call “jetliner views” of Berkeley and the Bay Area. 

One of the most visually intriguing homes on the tour is a 12-room two-story home on Orchard Lane, dominated by a three-story octagonal tower featuring uniquely framed windows that offer expansive views of Berkeley and the bay beyond. 

In addition to its sheer visual appeal, the home also embodies a love affair. It was designed by Walter T. Steilberg, an UC Berkeley graduate who worked for a decade under the legendary Julia Morgan—the designer of another home on the Panoramic Hill tour. 

Steilberg built the home for the mother of Elizabeth Ferguson, a UC Berkeley research assistant. The architect and the daughter fell in love, marrying the following year. Two other Steilberg homes are also on the tour. 

Berkeley’s pre-eminent architect, Bernard Maybeck, designed one of the more unusual homes on the tour, described from the start as a Swiss chalet. 

Internationally renowned as an exemplar of the Arts and Crafts movement, Maybeck designed the city’s first and most widely recognized landmark, the First Church of Christ, Scientist at the northeast corner of Dwight Way and Bowditch Street. 

The chalet on Panoramic Hill was designed for George H. Boke, a UC Berkeley law professor, who was one of the great reformers of the Progressive Era. 

Another home on the tour was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, whose most famous homes embody a continuation of the Arts and Crafts style. The home in the Berkeley hills was designed for a different locale, the Hollywood Hills, in 1939. High construction costs shelved the plans for 25 years, when the architect’s designs were sold to attorney Joseph Feldman along with furniture Wright had designed for the home. 

The furnishings were donated to the Victoria and Albert Museum in London four years later. 

Other homes on the tour feature designs by Walter H. Ratcliff Jr., Mabel Baird, William Wurster, Harwell Hamilton Harris and A.H. Broad—who designed many of Berkeley’s schools. 

From the start, the Panoramic Hills neighborhood has harbored a unique collection of residents and residences, including a sizable collection of UC Berkeley faculty. 

The State Historic Preservation Commission nominated the site for the National Registry of Historic Places in May. 

Marilyn Lortie, the state historian assigned to the Office of Historic Preservation Commission, sang the praises of the district and of the 61 homes singled out in the nomination. “In my 20 years with the office, this is one of the nicest residential districts I’ve ever seen,” she said. “It has all of the stars of California architecture, everyone from Maybeck to William Wurster. It’s really quite beautiful.” 

Tour tickets are $30 for the general public and $25 for BAHA members and guests. Tickets go on sale Sunday at a ticket booth which opens at noon at the entrance to the UC Memorial Stadium parking lot at the north end of Prospect Street one block north of Channing Way. 

Tickets may also be purchased online at the BAHA website at www.berkeleyheritage.com/housetours/2005_spring_house_tour.html.o

City Workers Rally Against Mandatory Time Off By MATTHEW ARTZ

Friday April 29, 2005

Berkeley’s two largest public employee unions blocked traffic outside city offices Tuesday to protest a cost-savings proposal requiring them to take mandatory time off without pay. 

Chanting “We say no to MTO,” more than 100 members of Service Employee International Union Locals 790 and 535, which represent about 1,200 city workers, walked off their jobs at about 10:30 a.m. Tuesday to attend the half-hour rally. 

“If the city does not remove MTO off the table we will be back here next week a little more forceful,” said Sandra Lewis regional vice president of Local 790. “If they think the streets are closed now, they haven’t seen anything yet.” 

Lewis’ speech was greeted with enthusiastic honks from drivers of garbage trucks, recycling trucks, public works pickup trucks, tree trimming trucks and parking enforcement gophers that clogged a block of Milvia Street between Center Street and Allston Way. 

The employees may get their wish. On Wednesday, the city offered workers an alternative to mandatory time off, according to Anes Lewis-Partridge, field director for Local 535. Neither Lewis-Partridge, nor city officials would reveal the city’s offer as of press time. 

To help close an $8.9 million structural deficit, City Manager Phil Kamlarz in February proposed closing non-essential city services one day a month starting in July to save $1.2 million. Police officers, firefighters and garbage collectors will not be subject to the closures. 

SEIU members, who comprise the majority of city office workers, public works employees and parks employees, say the proposal unfairly targets them while leaving higher paid police and firefighters unaffected. 

“I just want it to be equal throughout,” said Matt Shorgren, a parks department employee. He said the proposal would effectively negate the 5 percent raise he was scheduled to receive. 

Last year the city, looking to close a budget deficit, struck deals with nearly all of its unions, including police, to forgo scheduled salary increases in return for the city agreeing not to impose future give backs for the remainder of their contracts. 

Without the option of requiring unions to surrender scheduled raises to help close the budget deficit, Kamlarz has proposed the once-a-month layoffs. 

The city can implement the closures unilaterally, but Kamlarz said Tuesday that he remained open to listening to union proposals for saving money without the layoffs. 

Eric Landes-Brenman, of Local One, which represents city managers, said his union would present proposals for streamlining city operations to save money without one-day closures.  

“MTO is broadly opposed as an unimaginative an blunt instrument to get at savings,” he said. “It would really hurt morale.”

Library Director Griffin Receives Jeers at Board Meeting By MATTHEW ARTZ

Friday April 29, 2005

In a scene resembling a high school pep rally more than a library board meeting, the Library Board of Trustees Wednesday remained far apart on a new budget and the public feud between some library employees and library director Jackie Griffin remained far from settled. 

After repeated complaints that it was stifling the voices of library workers, the board granted employees two minutes apiece Tuesday to share their concerns. 

With Board President Laura Anderson reluctant to maintain order, the crowded South Berkeley Senior Center turned into a boisterous peanut gallery. The audience, comprised mostly of library workers opposed to Griffin’s leadership and their community allies, cheered the roughly two dozen speakers that opposed Griffin and booed and hissed at the few workers who stood up to praise her. 

When library employee Bob Saunderson credited Griffin for seeking to maximize efficiency and criticized the union for misrepresenting the facts, the boos were so unrelenting that Darryl Moore, the City Council’s representative on the board, asked if anyone had a gavel. 

One quickly appeared, but when it was passed to Anderson, the board president, she declined to pick it up and let the boos continue. 

Earlier, when library employee Sandra Schmitz credited Griffin for making long-needed technological innovations, a woman in the audience shouted for the board to dump the director, yelling, “Fire her.” 

Afterwards, Moore noted the lack of order and said that he had contemplated walking out of the meeting. 

The labor management rift at the library erupted after city voters rejected a library tax increase last November. With no new taxes to close what is now estimated as a $1.5 million deficit over the next two years, Griffin in January offered a reorganization plan that would have cost the jobs of about nine staffers, but no managers.  

At the same time, the library was moving ahead with a controversial program to install radio devices (RFIDs) on books. Free speech advocates have criticized the devices, which will cost Berkeley $650,000, for potentially violating privacy rights. Meanwhile several employees have fought them on grounds that they are being used to reduce jobs. Griffin’s reorganization plan currently calls for eliminating the equivalent of 4.5 full-time positions. 

The issue of technology was paramount at Wednesday’s meeting. Griffin’s supporters praised her for pushing through reforms that allowed customers to reserve books online, allowed librarians to order books electronically and allowed patrons to access to a greater variety of databases.  

The director’s opponents questioned if new technologies, especially RFID, would work as promised or make their jobs easier.  

Noting a recent computer breakdown at the library that meant some patrons were charged for books returned on time, Librarian Rachel Aronowitz asked, “How can I have faith in RFID?” 

Griffin attributed the system breakdown to the library’s inability to fill two technology positions because of a city hiring freeze. She added that she expected to fill the positions when the new fiscal year began in July and add three more over the next two years.  

Many of the employees said that a worker shortage had created a backlog of unshelved books and that Griffin was unresponsive to their concerns. 

“Things are a disaster,” said Library Aide Aayan Gates-Williams. “There are materials all over the place.” 

Claudia Morrow, a children’s librarian, questioned Griffin’s proposal to keep the library’s $150,000-a-year facility manager three years after the central library rehabilitation project has been completed. 

“That’s 80 hours a week of library aide work that could turnaround the shelving backlog,” she said. “Thicker layers of unresponsive management are not the answer.” 

When pressed on the subject of management jobs by Trustee Therese Powell, Griffin said that to reduce management during the roll-out of RFID and other new programs could put those programs at risk. 

With nearly the entire three-hour meeting taken up by public comment, the board had little time to talk about the budget, which must be finalized by the end of June.  

Beverly Marshall, the library’s new finance manager, offered some budget numbers, but said she was still working through the “convoluted, not understandable method of accounting from my predecessor.” 

The board voted 4-1 to ask the City Council to raise the library tax 4.8 percent, equal to the rise in the Personal Income Growth Index this year. The board’s other option would have been to ask for a 1.56 percent tax increase equal to the rise in the Consumer Price Index. Under city law, the library can ask for the council for tax rates increases based only on those two indicators. Griffin has said the higher tax rate will net the library an extra $300,000 and help it avoid layoffs this year. 

Trustee Powell, who cast the lone opposition vote, said that although she wants more funds for the library, she thought the 4.8 percent hike was contrary to the wishes of voters who rejected an increased library tax last year. 

The board also agreed to hold a town hall meeting on RFID sometime in June. Although the system is already up and running at the central library, Trustee Ying Lee said she did not think that reconsidering it should be out of the question. 

Lee also asked that at its next meeting the board discuss the union’s proposal to bring in a facilitator for negotiations over the reorganization at the library. 

“I’m really interested in [that],” she said. “I don’t think the community, staff and management can deal with any more pain than we saw tonight.”›

Campus Bay-Inspired Bills Clear Assembly Committee By RICHARD BRENNEMAN

Friday April 29, 2005

Two bills designed to change the way California handles hazardous waste sites won the approval Tuesday of the state Assembly Committee on Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials. 

The bills, cosponsored by East Bay Democrat Loni Hancock and Cindy Montanez, a fellow Democrat who chairs both the Assembly Rules Committee and the Select Committee on Environmental Justice, were inspired in part by events at Richmond’s Campus Bay. 

Both bills now head to the Assembly Appropriations Committee, where decisions are expected within the next two weeks. If they pass that hurdle, the bills will then go before the full Assembly and from then on to the state Senate. If approved, the bills will go to Gov. Schwarzenegger, himself a real estate developer. 

Hancock’s Assembly Bill 1360 (passed on a 5-2 vote) creates a new category of toxic waste site called a “public health priority site” where a hospital, day care center or residential housing is planned on land where toxic waste has been stored and poses a potential threat. 

All such sites would come under the jurisdiction of the state Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC), which currently exercises sway over similar sites targeted for schools. 

Citing her inspiration as the protracted battle over the development of the Campus Bay site—where a developer has proposed to build 1,330 units of housing atop 350,000 cubic yards of buried chemical waste—Hancock said her bill was created to prevent so-called “forum shopping,” a practice whereby a developer could choose a less stringent agency to monitor toxic cleanup. 

Accompanying the East Bay legislator to Sacramento were three key figures in the battle over the site: Sherry Padgett, an activist with Bay Area Residents for Responsible Development (BARRD); Contra Costa County Public Health Director Dr. Wendel Brunner, and Peter Weiner, a San Francisco attorney and pro bono advocate for BARRD. 

Critics of Campus Bay have charged that cleanup of the site where a variety of dangerous chemicals were manufactured for a century was poorly handled under the jurisdiction of the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board. 

Because the City of Richmond issued an over-the-counter permit, demolition of the factory buildings, storage tanks and other remnants of the site’s industrial heritage occurred without an environmental impact report—a sore point with critics like Padgett, who say they were subjected to a wide range of toxins as a result. 

Most of the Campus Bay site was transferred to DTSC oversite after hearings last November where Bruce Wolfe, administrator of the regional water board, acknowledged his agency lacked even a single toxicologist on its staff. The DTSC, by contrast, is heavily staffed with toxicologists and other scientific experts. 

Padgett, who has worked next door to the site for the last eight years and has suffered from a variety of cancers and other ailments her physicians believe were caused by exposures to toxins, told the committee that 40 of 500 employees near the site have been stricken with unusual cancers, with 14 dead to date. 

“The water board is not equipped to monitor such a complex site,” she said. “They don’t have the internal expertise.” 

Brunner said the Richmond site was one of the most complex sites in Contra Costa County. 

“Over the last several years, the site characterization has changed, and there appears to be no systematic method” to deploy expertise at the site, he said. “The water board does not have the expertise or experience to handle the site... We need a mechanism in the California EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) to bring” the DTSC and water board together. 

Testifying against the measure were lobbyists for a coalition of home builders, the California Building Industry Association, the California Chamber of Commerce, and the California Center for Land Recycling. The latter group, a non-profit organization that supports development on reclaimed hazardous waste sites, counts San Francisco water board official Steve Morse among its advisors. 

While the industry associations charged that Hancock’s measure would conflict with existing law on cleanup sites, Hancock said the bill merely clarifies the law. 

“This is a very important step forward,” she said. 

“I agree,” said committee Chair Ira Ruskin. “It’s an important step forward in environmental justice.” 

The dissenting votes were cast by two Republicans, Vice Chair Van Tran and member Audra Strickland. Ruskin was joined in his vote by Democrats Judy Chu, Hector De La Torre, Fran Pavley and Jackie Goldberg. 

Tuesday’s hearing was a reunion of sorts for Goldberg and Wendel Brunner. Both were activists in Berkeley’s Free Speech Movement.  

“We’re delighted we got the bill out of committee,” Hancock said in an interview in her office after the vote. 

“It’s a very simple bill. It clarifies the process so the developer will know what to do, and it places jurisdiction with the department that has the expertise,” she said. “Note also that the bill passed despite powerful opposition.” 

Hancock held off from introducing another bill calling for a restructuring of the state EPA agencies handling oversite of toxic waste sites in order to spend more time refining the bill—which she said will be introduced in January. 


Water Board Strictures 

Montanez, who represents the city of San Fernando and the surrounding areas of the city of Los Angeles, has waged a long-running battle against the local water board’s handling of a landlocked site in her jurisdiction, making her a natural ally of Hancock. 

Her Assembly Bill 597 mandates new rules for cleanups conducted under the aegis of the state regional water quality control boards. 

Under current state law, cleanups are designed with no public participation before they are unveiled to the board for approval. The Southern California legislator’s bill would force a major restructuring, imposing the same strict public participation standards as now mandated for the DTSC. 

Her bill requires local water boards to: 

• Provide public notice of major decisions and planned activities at cleanup sites and gives the public access to site plans and assessments with 30 days to comment on them. 

• Post notices in English and other languages commonly spoken in the area notifying the public of their rights of review and comment. 

• Hold public meetings in the area to gather comments if requested by the public. 

• Consider public comments prior to acting on the site plan. 

• Consider posting site data in electronic form for public access and consider forming advisory groups to assist the board in disseminating information and gathering public input and holding public meetings and workshops. 

• Evaluate site plans in the context of environmental justice and impacts on low-income and minority populations.

Peralta Trustees Approve Laney Art Annex Contract By J. DOUGLAS ALLEN-TAYLOR

Friday April 29, 2005

Peralta Community College District Trustees gave the unanimous go-ahead Tuesday to the construction of the Laney College New Art Building by a San Joaquin County modular building firm. Meanwhile, with consideration of the long-delayed proposed contract to developer Alan Dones for a Laney-Peralta development plan failing to make the trustee’s agenda, opponents came out to oppose the proposal anyway. 

Trustee ratification of Chancellor Elihu Harris’ $8.1 million Laney New Art Building no-bid contract with Lodi-based Meehleis Modular Builders had originally been on the Peralta board’s agenda two weeks ago, but was put off after concerns were raised by the Alameda County Building Trades Council over union-pay issues. 

The chancellor’s office returned with approvals of the contract from Alameda County Building Trades Council Secretary-Treasurer Bill Luboviski, Peralta Chief Financial Officer Tom Smith, Peralta General Counsel Thuy Thi Nguyen, and the college district’s bond attorneys. Trustee Cy Gulassa said that he had been prepared to vote against the contract when it was on the agenda two weeks ago, but was now satisfied. 

Concerns over the Meehleis contract had risen because the building’s modular parts will be constructed at the company’s Lodi plant and then assembled on-site at Laney, leaving local union leaders worried that the building would be constructed at below-union wage rates. But under questioning from Trustee Gulassa at Tuesday’s meeting, Meehleis Project Manager Mike Sinclair said that the company “will be paying local prevailing wages” at the Laney site, where two-thirds of the work will be done. The prevailing wage in the Bay Area is union scale. Sinclair said that the fabrication work in Lodi is not covered by prevailing wage. 

Chancellor Harris said that while the trades council “still has general concerns about the modular industry in California and its effect on union wages,” he reported that Luboviski “has signed off on this project.” 

General Counsel Nguyen also said she was satisfied of the legality of what appeared to be a contradiction in the classification of the construction materials. 

The Meehleis contract was signed by Harris using the so-called “piggyback” clause of the State Public Contract Code, which allows one education district to ride—without a new bid—on an old properly-bidded contract already signed by another school district. Because the “piggyback” clause is restricted to the purchase of moveable property (called “personal property” in the law), districts have been classifying modular buildings as moveable “personal” property at the time they are purchased at the construction factories in order to qualify them under this clause. 

However, $1 million of the Laney New Art Building is being paid for with Measure E bond money, which is restricted to real (rather than “personal”) property. (The remaining $7 million is scheduled to be paid by CalTrans, which had forced the construction of the New Art Building because it needed the land currently being occupied by Laney’s present Art Annex.) In order to qualify for both “piggyback” contract money and Measure E money, Peralta was classifying the modular building in two seemingly legally-opposed ways. 

Peralta General Counsel Nguyen released a letter to trustees from Peralta bond counsel Charles F. Adams of Jones Hall attorneys, stating that “bond proceeds may be spent to acquire and install modular school facilities due to the fact that once these facilities are bolted to permanent foundations and are connected to utilities, they become ‘fixtures’ under California law, and, as such, may be treated as real property. We have always recognized that at the moment in time when modular school facilities are purchased, however, they have not yet been affixed to real property and therefore constitute personal property until they are affixed. … we believe it is entirely consistent—and certainly not inconsistent—for the District to treat the modular school facilities as personal property at the point in time when they are purchased, but for us to regard them as real property for the purposes of the constitutional restriction on spending Bond proceeds.” 

Adams said in his letter that the prefabricated parts of modular buildings should be treated no differently from any other type of building materials, including lumber and nails. Following the meeting, General Counsel Nguyen said she had reached the same conclusion prior to submitting her query to the bond counsels. 

Chief Financial Officer Smith said the Meehleis contract was “in the best financial interest of the district,” and called Ikharo’s use of the “piggyback” clause “a pretty neat trick.” 

Earlier on Tuesday, Laney College held a kick-off celebration for the Art Annex Construction, which is being built on land formerly occupied by the college’s tennis courts, and which will border the channel running between Lake Merritt and the estuary. 

Representatives of the District Academic Senate and the Laney College Faculty Senate spoke to trustees on the subject. Karolyn Van Putten, the Laney College representative on the District Academic Senate, said “we knew the contract was not on the agenda, but we felt so strongly about this that we wanted to attend anyway.” 

Outgoing Peralta trustees authorized Chancellor Harris last November to enter into a one-year contract with Dones and his Oakland based Strategic Urban Development Alliance to come up with a development plan for the Peralta Administration Building and certain Laney College properties. Harris indicated to district leaders that he was going to put the item on Tuesday’s agenda. 


Author Calls for Islamic Reforms During UC Talk By MICHAEL KATZ

Special to the Planet
Friday April 29, 2005

The suicide hijackers behind the 9/11 attacks were reportedly each promised “70 virgins in Paradise.” But would they have proceeded if they’d realized that their recruiters might only be offering 70 white raisins? 

The Koran and Hadith (Muslim gospel) passages about the rewards to “martyrs” can be read either way, according to a linguistic historian quoted in Irshad Manji’s book, The Trouble with Islam Today: A Muslim’s Call for Reform in Her Faith. And among the book’s central points is the lethal danger of interpreting scriptural metaphor literally. 

“Every religion has its share of literalists,” Manji acknowledged in an April 19 talk at UC Berkeley’s Pauley Ballroom. “American Christianity has its evangelicals, some of whom still populate the highest office in the land. Jews have their ultra-Orthodox. ... Even Buddhists have fundamentalists.” 

But “the trouble” with her own faith, Manji said, is that “only within Islam today is literalism mainstream worldwide.” 

Even moderate Muslims, Manji said, often believe that because the Koran was written after the Torah and the Bible, it is a literal “manifesto of God’s will...it is ‘God 3.0,’ and none shall come after it.” Manji called this a dangerous “supremacy complex.” 

“When abuse happens under the banner of Islam today,” she said, even Muslims “with fancy titles and formal educations do not yet know how to debate and dissent with the jihadists. ... It’s because we have not yet been introduced to the possibility of asking questions about our ‘perfect’ holy book.” 

Manji’s book is a manifesto of a different sort—one devoted, she says, to “helping Islam rediscover its glorious humanitarian potential.” Manji challenges her fellow Muslims to recover a tradition of independent thinking and reasoning known as “ijtihad.” 

Although the word has the same root as “jihad,” meaning “to struggle,” Manji emphasized that neither term originally had violent connotations. 

“In the early centuries of Islam, thanks to ijtihad, 135 schools of thought flourished,” Manji said. “In Muslim Spain, scholars would teach their students to abandon ‘expert opinion’ about the Koran if their own conversations...came up with better evidence.” 

This pluralistic era produced one of the world’s first universities, in ninth-century Baghdad, said Manji. She also credited ijtihad with early Islam’s contributions to “Western pop culture.” 

“Muslims gave the world Mocha coffee (you’re welcome!). ... Cough syrup. The guitar.” 

The plain-spoken, sometimes glib Manji might seem an unlikely catalyst for what she calls an “Islamic reformation.” She’s an ethnically South Asian, Ugandan-born, Canadian-raised, spiky-haired, out lesbian who has been a legislative aide and political speechwriter, and who is best known in Canada as a television host and producer. Like a lot of Berkeley residents, she has a multifaceted identity, for which she makes no apology. 

She’s also a lay Muslim who got herself permanently thrown out of her madressa (Saturday religious school) at age 14 after years of asking too many “hard” questions about doctrine. But inspired by heroes who included Socrates, she kept asking those hard questions and kept studying Islam on her own. 

“I could have walked away,” she said, “and gone on with becoming a materialistic North American for whom the mall is the God, as some Muslims quietly do.” Instead, she said, she happily discovered “a truly progressive side of my faith.” 

Since publishing this book—her second—in 2003, when she was 35, Manji has received praise, condemnation, and death threats. She installed bulletproof glass in her Toronto home, and hired a bodyguard for her first book tour. Two uniformed UC police officers guarded her Berkeley talk. 

Why risk her safety by writing what she calls her “open letter” for reform? Manji said she saw it as an obligation. 

“The Islamic reformation begins in the West,” she writes, because “it’s here that we [Muslims] enjoy precious freedoms to think, express, challenge, and be challenged without fear of state reprisal.” 

“I speak as a refugee when I say this is a precious gift,” she told her Berkeley audience. “And I’m asking my fellow Muslims: What in God’s name are we doing with this gift?” 

The book indicts “desert tribalism” for restraining Islam’s progress in crucial areas: the ill-treatment of women in the Muslim world, the “Jew-bashing and Jew-baiting in which too many Muslims persistently engage,” “the continuing scourge of slavery” under Islamist regimes, and those regimes’ suppression of basic human rights. 

“In the last 100 years alone,” Manji said, “more Muslims have been tortured and murdered at the hands of other Muslims than at the hands of any foreign imperial power.” 

To address these problems, Manji believes, ordinary Muslims must ultimately gain the confidence to question received interpretations of their faith. For many outside the West, a first prerequisite is basic literacy. And for Western Muslims and non-Muslims who want to help, the book proposes a plan of action. 

“I call this thoroughly non-military campaign ‘Operation Ijtihad’,” Manji said. “It begins by liberating the entrepreneurial talents of women in the Muslim world, by providing them with ‘micro-enterprise’ loans.” These $100-$300 investments were pioneered by Bangladesh’s renowned Grameen Bank. 

“There is absolute consensus within Islam,” Manji said, “that when a Muslim woman earns her own assets—let’s say by starting a business—she gets to keep 100 percent of those assets, and do with them as she sees fit.” 

“What could Muslim women do with these assets?” Manji asked. “They could become literate. They could learn to read the Koran for themselves,” rather than “merely swallowing...the selective verses that mullahs and imams tend to shove down their throats.” 

Manji quoted a photographer friend’s encounter with a woman entrepreneur in Afghanistan who had followed exactly this path.  

“You know the progressive verses in the Koran that you identify in your book?” her friend told Manji. “She found the verses you’re talking about, she recited them to her abusive husband, and ever since then, he has not laid an unwanted finger on her.” 

“This,” Manji said, “is the power not just of the Koran, but also of literacy.” 

Manji also mentioned women in Kabul, Afghanistan, who have used their capital to open schools for girls. She quoted a banner there that read, “Educate a boy and you educate only that boy, but educate a girl and you educate her entire family.” 

“As economists might put it, the ‘multiplier effect’ of investing in Muslim women cannot be underestimated,” Manji said. She raised the prospect of wealthy nations “taking just a sliver of their defense budgets...and pooling them into a coherent program of micro-business loans for women in the Islamic world.” 

At a recent Stanford University conference, Manji was delighted to hear Lt. Gen. John Abizaid—who commands U.S. forces in the Middle East—independently propose investing in similar loans to Muslim women. 

Manji’s nonviolent struggles have sometimes taken place with her own mother, a devout Muslim who admonished her “not to anger God” in writing the book. When her mother first attended mosque after the book’s publication, she was brought to tears by an imam who denounced her daughter as “more criminal than Osama bin Laden.” 

But fellow congregants quickly came over to tell her, “I’ve read Irshad’s book, and what she’s saying absolutely needs to be expressed.” 

Manji proudly displayed a greeting card that her mother slipped into her suitcase shortly afterwards. It read, “Bravo! My dear daughter, I’m so proud of your achievement. You go, girl!”  

“I leave you with the same message that my mother gave to me,” Manji told Muslims and non-Muslims in her audience. “You go! Dare to ask questions out loud. That’s how open societies remain open.” 




By Irshad Manji 

St. Martin’s Griffin, 240 pages, $12.95 

Israd Manji’s website:  


Letters to the Editor

Friday April 29, 2005


Editors, Daily Planet: 

It has recently come to my attention that scarce funds are being wasted in our public school system to teach kids to slaughter animals. 

Besides the ridiculous waste of money in support of big agribusiness, this practice of teaching the slaughter of animals helps to further brutalize our children in an already harsh world. 

There is a bill in Sacramento to be voted on May 4: AB1685. It would do two things: End the slaughter of any animal on school property and permit students the opportunity to opt-out of certain portions of the agricultural class. 

I hope every teacher and parent in the Bay Area urges their legislator to support this bill. 

Lindsay Vurek 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

It’s good to see that Republican ideas are taking hold in progressive Berkeley. Some parents (consumers) are complaining that labor actions by the teachers (workers) are bad while the administration (management) is good and has the parents (consumers) interests at heart. 

They’ve even bought the old bosses line of, “I wouldn’t cut your benefits if I could afford it, but times are tight.” This is the same school district that gave sweet heart deals to top executives like McLaughlin and Lawrence and has squandered thousands of dollars dealing with lawsuits. 

When I went to the Berkeley Schools, I was always appreciative of the time spent by my teachers for such low compensation. I would never have expected them to give so much of their time if the administration was threatening to cut their pay. Being a Berkeley native, it’s embarrassing and shameful to see the vitriol directed at the teachers. Shame, Berkeley, shame. 

Dimitri Balmer 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I am quite dismayed and saddened by recent opinion pieces run by the Daily Planet regarding alleged police misconduct. The first, by Carol Denney, a frequent contributor to this paper, contained no facts whatsoever (just some hazy allusions to orange cones) while managing to impugn the response of the police. The second written by the executive editor of this paper had more “facts” but was written with such a bias as to become completely inflammatory.  

How about looking at the situation described by Ms. O’Malley from another viewpoint: A woman alone in her home sees a woman she does not know at her door who will not go away. She is frightened, panics and calls 911. Imagine her relief and gratitude when the police show up so quickly, glad that they took her call seriously. After a few minutes the policeman ascertains that said woman is indeed not a criminal. He apologizes profusely to her and life goes on. 

Some of us have had similar experiences. My husband, a white male in his forties, had seven police cars converge on him, guns drawn, in broad daylight while walking down the street because he “fit the description.” It ended similarly to the story above but his conclusion was that they were doing their job, and as disconcerted as he was, he knew that being a police officer is a serious and possibly life-threatening business where you don’t take chances. If there is a possibility of criminal action they need to dominate the situation completely. 

Most of us in Berkeley rely on the prompt and courageous response of our police officers when we feel ourselves in some way imperiled. These kinds of baseless and libelous statements can only inspire ill will, mistrust and a general “us against them” mentality that doesn’t serve us well as a community. 

Phyllis Kamrin 



Editors, Daily Planet: 

Concerning Becky O’Malley’s editorial on the budget crisis, I would like to draw attention to the fact that the “excessive spending on salaries, especially at the highest management levels” is seemingly undeserved, at least judging by management positions on landlord-tenant law. This is the only field concerning which I have developed some small measure of expertise, and I can assure you that the city manager, city attorney, and Rent Board staff are selling the city a bill of goods when it comes to the unnecessary deprivation and denial of tenants rights which they are constantly recommending. The City Council is constantly taking the word of its “experts” at face value, even though some of the councilmembers profess to know better, and the mayor and City Council display a degree of undemocratic unresponsiveness to criticism on these points that surpasses even the Bush administration. What does it all add up to? No taxation without representation. Do you get the message? It is high time for the second American Revolution.  

This time we must form an even more perfect union, by outlawing wage slavery (capitalism), even as we have outlawed outright slavery. Both were unfortunate by-products of the first American Revolution, and both were understood to be similar in character even by Abraham Lincoln at the time outright slavery was abolished. This does not mean, however, that we should hand over the reigns of our lives to leftist dictators. Far from it. We must retain our democratic institutions, with checks and balances, and strengthen them by eliminating the corrupting element of capitalism. We must develop a no tolerance policy toward any bureaucrat who would compromise the principles of democracy and simply throw them out on their ears. That is precisely what we should do with the host of bureaucrats who now pose as progressives and moderates in our present city government. Surely Berkeley can do better than this. Where is the Berkeley spirit of yesteryear? Surely it can be resurrected and emerge victorious over the present dark spell we are going through. Surely Berkeley has a role to play in leading the second American Revolution, but it cannot do so with the present host of hypocrites at the helm, who essentially vampirize the eternal spirit of revolution that belongs somewhat uniquely to Berkeley.  

Peter Mutnick 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I cannot understand why Robert Lauriston wants more parking at the proposed development at 1885 University Ave. I hear the developer has agreed that residents will not be allowed to buy parking permits, so each added parking space in the development will just mean that one more resident will have a car.  

I live in the neighborhood (unlike Lauriston), and I can testify that it is easy to live here without a car, but that neighbors who do own cars use them frequently. They do less local and more regional shopping, and they drive even on trips when they could easily walk or bicycle.  

By encouraging more driving, Lauriston would not only make the neighborhood noisier, more congested, and less livable. He would also add, in a small way, to larger environmental problems such as global warming and the resource scarcity that causes wars for oil.  

Lauriston identifies himself as a pro-democracy activist. But his demands for more parking show that he is also an anti-environment activist.  

Charles Siegel 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

We are the parents of kids who have attended Berkeley schools from elementary through Berkeley High. During those years the school community has experienced some periods of financial stability, but more often financial instability that ultimately resulted in reduced programs and services for our kids. All along, there have been constants--great kids, active parents, dedicated teachers and classified staff, and district administrators and board members working to do the right thing.  

The teacher union’s labor dispute with administration is difficult for all of us, and no one wants to see a strike. But, despite the difficulties, we support the teachers because we cannot support the position taken by the board to cap employer contributions to health care premiums. Each time an employer makes the decision to cap its contribution, it adds to the trend to diminish wages for the middle class. Capping employer contributions also relieves pressure on our policymakers to address the growing costs of health care in the United States.  

Unions helped create the American middle class by drawing lines in the sand. Good for them. 

Susan Henderson 

Vikki Davis 

Julia Epstein 

Stephen Rosenbaum 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

This is response to Brenda Benson’s letter on the value and costs of traffic circles. Research has shown that they result in a major reduction in traffic accidents even when some drivers take the short cut in front. The key is that ALL drivers must slow down and pay more attention.  

The cost per circle was about $18,000 each when we installed the most recent ones in our neighborhood.  

The other major benefit is that, at least in LeConte, residents at each intersection agreed to plant, water and maintain each circle without any costs to the city. This encourages better cooperation and a sense of pride by creating a mini garden where only pavement existed before.  

Karl Reeh 

President, LeConte Neighborhood Association 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Six traffic circles have just been installed along Allston and Addison, one of which is visible from my front room. This was done in the name of “traffic calming.” I would like to suggest that this is a poor label. 

1. If a circle is put in an intersection that already had four way stops signs, how much slower will traffic be? 

2. At a regular intersection pedestrians, bicyclists and other motorists know pretty well when a car is about to make a left turn. With the circles this is not known until there is just barely time to respond. 

3. The circles put cars much closer to pedestrians to the discomfort of both. 

4. When the paint was just dry on the street at Grant and Allston, a car hit the circle and ended up in a corner lot destroying a fence and a fender. This driver did not look “calmer.” I also noticed skid marks of three other cars on the new paint.  

5. While I have no evidence to back this up it appears to me that cars that used to stop at these stops signs are now much more likely to glide through. 

Sometimes an idea seems right in the beginning but occasionally it ends up being a bad idea. Too bad this one cost so much. 

Gary Herbertson 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Most of our school officials undoubtedly care about children, but they should be careful not to overuse and hide behind phrases such as “the best thing for our children” to explain each and every controversial decision. 

We didn’t band human nature along with nuclear materials at the city borders (though we often like to think we did), and it’s cheap and it gets tiresome to hear school board members or the superintendent pretend that their positions in turf battles with the city, fights with the union or fights with a neighborhood are always born of some immaculate passion for kids. 

As a means to stifle debate, such phrases rank with “public safety,” “process” and “weapons of mass destruction.” 

James Day 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

It seems that enough has been said about the bad design of the new AC Transit buses, but I have a very simple suggestion for any one of them who want to experience it for themselves. 

I suggest that they sit in the first seat next to the driver in one of those new buses. From that seat, not only is it difficult to locate a button to have the driver stop, it is physically impossible to reach any of them, even without passengers around to block you. 

Every time I end up in that seat, I have to tell the driver to stop, assuming that the driver hears me (who sometimes don’t because they’re talking on the cell phone). And in case I offended the proper protocol (to press a button), each time I do this I explain that I could not reach any button. 

Further, this seat, which requires stepping up and down a high step, which on numerous occasions I’ve seen people stumble on, is nominally designated for disabled persons. I do not know how such persons are supposed to stand up and look for buttons to push while the bus is moving. 

Takeshi Akiba 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

It warms my heart when an unemployed or retired comedian finds something to keep him busy, which is obviously the good luck of H. E. Christian Peeples, at-large director of the Alameda Contra Costa Transit District. When I read his defense of the Van Hool buses—a tour of European proof-of-payment (POP, isn’t that cute?) fare systems and bus manufacturers—I recognized the style immediately. Peeples must have been a writer for Monty Python’s Flying Circus, and is obviously the author of the “Dead Parrot” skit, in which the customer keeps waving a bird corpse in the face of the pet store owner, who keeps saying, in many different ways, that the parrot looks fine to him. Hilarious. 

I look forward to Peeples riding these buses to pick up new material, maybe another skit for the “Department of Funny Walks,” as he watches people, old and young, lurching toward and away from seats, climbing up and down, while clutching for non-existent hand-holds. This fun will never end, even if the POP system is ever instigated, because riders who don’t have “a monthly pass, a transfer or some group pass,” (meaning most of the older riders) will still begin at the fare box and stagger on from there. There are no limits here—how about a “Department of Funny Falls and Crawls” joke. I can’t wait. 

Dorothy Bryant 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Chris Peeples is the board member I alluded to in my April 14 commentary (“AC Transit’s Van Hools Hated by Riders, Drivers”) so it is appropriate that he respond with a letter (April 22) on the Van Hool, otherwise known as “the Bus from Hell.”  

I would simply say the proof is in the pudding. Don’t take either my word or Chris’s for it. Check it out yourself. To quote myself, “ride one of the Rapid Transit Van Hool buses on San Pablo then get off and transfer to one of the green buses on the same route.” Which one would you rather ride, particularly, if you had mobility problems? There is no value to having a narrow low-floor aisle all the way to the unnecessary third door unless one is on a walk-thru. Even if AC Transit goes to proof-of-payment, two doors are plenty. In fact, it would work better with the NABI (green buses) because both of their doors are quite wide. 

So, take a field trip and check them out. And you can let AC Transit know what you think by speaking up at their public meeting at 3 and 6 p.m. Wednesday, May 18 at the Scottish Rite Center located at 1547 Lakeside Dr., near 17th Street in Oakland. 

Joyce Roy 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

On April 18, I read a letter in the Daily Planet from an AC Transit rider who talked about her experience on the No. 40 bus. I am glad that this situation is being brought to the attention of the public and AC Transit. 

I have not ridden on an ACT transit bus since August 2004 because I am afraid to, after my experience on a No. 43, traveling from downtown Berkeley to Albany. The buses in current use are not really accessible, in that passengers have to climb into the seats and the seating for those with mobility difficulties is in the middle of the bus. 

I have mild cerebral palsy, which causes me to lose my balance easily, and I have the use of my left hand only. I have difficulty putting the fare into the slot and maintaining my balance, especially if the driver does not wait till I am seated, which is what happened on that occasion. 

I saw other passengers having difficulties too, in particular, one elderly lady, who had trouble getting out of her seat and then fell on her back when the bus stopped. The driver did not check to see if she had hurt herself and other passengers helped her off the bus. 

As we got close to my stop, I found I could not reach the bell and when I tried to stand to ring it, I was knocked off balance and fell back in my seat. I went past my stop. Like the other letter writer, I , too, felt battered and that is not the way any passenger should feel. 

I know I should have written this letter immediately after the incident, and I regret that I did not. 

I recently met an AC Transit bus driver and when I told her about this incident, she told me that bus drivers rarely have time to wait for passengers to sit down. The drivers have to keep to their schedules as best as they can, to ensure that they get their breaks when they reach the end of the line.  

This is perfectly understandable, but AC Transit needs to find a way to accommodate their drivers and to ensure the safety of their passengers. 

I do not drive, and fully support public transit and do not want to be afraid to use it. 

Margaret Tong 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

How blessed we are to be informed by the Almighty H.E. Christian Peeples that the Van Hool buses are, in fact, wonderful buses. As one of the directors of AC Transit, he has been on a one-man crusade to force these buses on the riders. Despite an avalanche of complaints, and almost near-universal loathing by the people who actually have to endure these buses, Peeples has done nothing for the last two years except to contradict what his own constituency says, and to dictate to us that the buses are good and we are just too ignorant to realize this obvious fact. Peeples even used this issue as his single campaign platform in 2004, promising to “better inform the ridership” of the quality of Van Hool buses, in the face of overwhelming hatred of them. (Being an incumbent, running essentially unopposed, he coasted to victory in any event.) 

To rebut just a few of the many distortions, absurdities and irrelevancies in his letter in the April 22 issue of the Daily Planet: 

It doesn’t matter why the seats are inaccessible; it doesn’t matter how common this ill-conceived design is in other transit districts, and it doesn’t matter whether other bus designs are equally bad; all that matters is that AC Transit’s ridership hates these buses. Period. All his rationalizations are without purpose. 

Peeples then goes on to say that “one of the advantages” of the new buses is that is has a third door, without ever listing any other supposed advantages. In fact, this is the only “advantage” he can point to. And what is the point of having a third door, according to Peeples? Because the third door “allows a proof-of-payment (POP) fare system to work much more efficiently.” Well, isn’t that nice? Too bad AC Transit doesn’t have a proof-of-payment fare system. In other words, there is no advantage to having these buses. Oh, but Peeples will counter, by having the buses we can implement a POP system. See—they do it in foreign countries, even on San Francisco’s Muni rail system. 

Earth to Peeples...Earth to Peeples...Can you read me? Have you ever ridden on the N-Judah at rush hour or late at night? Almost everybody cheats. Very few people actually pay the fare, knowing that inspectors are extremely rare. (I’ve never seen one.) Same goes for Paris and the Netherlands, where (in the poorer areas at least) fare-dodging is de rigueur. The Parisian transit authority knows this, and sees giving essentially free transport to the unemployed youth from the banlieus as a form of welfare. But what the result has been is a massive financial crisis in the transit system, which is exactly why (as Peeples foolishly pointed out) they are switching to “smart cards,” to crack down on ubiquitous fare evasion. 

As Peeples revealed in his final paragraph, the entire Van Hool fiasco is part of a grandiose attempt at social engineering on his part, when he admits, “I hope that we can...implement POP on an experimental basis soon.” The only way he’ll be able to implement POP is by getting these buses in place first, come hell or high water. And why does Peeples want to implement POP? Hmmm? Well, I’ll leave the readers to come to their own conclusions on that one, other than to say: Encouraging fare evasion is his goal. 

As a result, the rest of us have to spend our days unable to find seats, standing shoulder-to-shoulder next to other disgruntled passengers nursing their bruised shins and staring resignedly at the chipper “Bus of the Year, 2003!” signs plastered on every diabolical Van Hool, while the Grand Poobahs down at AC Transit HQ pitably reenact the same failed social engineering blunder that Paris is in the process of abandoning after it practically destroyed their economy. 

In other news, the grain harvest was better than ever this year in the Ukraine. 

Gerald Mannell 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Reading Joyce Roy’s commentary on the Van Hool buses is disturbing to hear. I think riders in the San Francisco area should be looking at the Van Hools has a privilege to have. Where I’m writing from in Toronto, the TTC (second-largest transit system in North America) runs the oldest fleet of buses with some at 30 years old. The GM New Look buses comprise of half the fleet and are almost non-existent in large American systems anymore. We also run cheap low floor buses similar to New York City built by Orion, a few have burned up and retired. Riders in San Francisco should be considered lucky to have a (double the cost of a North American) bus, unless they want an Orion burning on their street.  

Wilson Wu 

Toronto, Ontario?

Column: Oakland is Not to Blame for the State of its Schools By J. DOUGLAS ALLEN-TAYLOR

Friday April 29, 2005

Poor, bleeding Oakland. In addition to losing its rights to run its own schools—two years and counting, now—it is now being blamed in the media for school district actions over which it has absolutely no control. 

In an otherwise excellent piece this week, San Francisco Chronicle columnist Jon Carroll accuses the Oakland Unified School Board of concocting a scheme in which OUSD teachers were required to meet with a “professional benefits counselor” to provide documentation on the dependents listed in their OUSD health care benefit files. The teachers were told in a memo that if they didn’t show up to scheduled interviews to provide the documentation, it would “result in your dependents’ coverage ending effective May 30.” As was revealed in a Nannette Asimov Chronicle article a week earlier, the “professional benefits counselors” turned out to be insurance brokers, who spent most of the time with the teachers trying to sell them life insurance. In other words, it was a coercive scam put together by the district to lure teachers in under false pretenses, which Mr. Carroll loudly and properly condemns. However, he gets the instigator wrong. 

“See the respect shown to teachers by the school board!” Mr. Carroll writes. He goes on to mention the school board three times in his column, noting that in conflicts between teachers and school boards, “I tend to favor teachers.” 

Problem is, as in any other action taken by the Oakland Unified School District in the last two years, the school board had no say in the matter. The Oakland schools were taken out of the hands of Oakland voters by the State of California two years ago after the Oakland school board and former Oakland Superintendent Dennis Chaconas discovered that they had a massive budget shortfall due to a teacher pay raise which they later found they couldn’t afford (it’s hard to get an exact amount on the shortfall; the general figure seems to be between $40 million and $50 million). The Oakland schools are now being run by California Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell through his state-appointed administrator, Randolph Ward. 

I know this is old news to many, but if a Chronicle columnist doesn’t know that Oakland ain’t running its own schools, I wonder how many other folks are ignorant of that fact. 

Anyways, last week—almost two years after the state Legislature passed SB39 (authored by State Senator Don Perata) authorizing the school takeover—state Superintendent O’Connell returned to a town hall meeting at Oakland Technical High School supposedly to tell Oaklanders how we could get our schools back. Forgive me for going into some detail here, but pay attention, children, this is one where you’ve got to read the fine print in order to understand how this game is being played. 

SB39 declared a fiscal emergency in the Oakland schools, and found that it was “necessary that the superintendent of public instruction assume control of the district in order to ensure the return to the district of fiscal solvency.” The Oakland school board was to remain in place, but only as an advisory group, with no powers to make decisions or set policy. 

The takeover legislation also provided that the state superintendent—through his hired administrator—had to provide a decent education for Oakland children, but also noted that this was only to advance along the lines of gains already being made in the district prior to the takeover. “The Oakland Unified School District has made demonstrable academic improvements over the last few years, witnessed by test score improvements, more fully credentialed teachers in Oakland classrooms, and increased parental and community involvement,” SB39 read. 

And to make sure we understood that they were serious that Oakland had been on the road to educational recovery prior to the takeover, the Legislature also noted in SB39 that “To the extent allowed by district finances, it is the intent of the Legislature that the [revised education program to be implemented by the state superintendent and his administrator] shall maintain the core educational reforms that have led to districtwide improvement of academic achievement, including, but not limited to, educational reforms targeting underperforming schools, new small schools, and other reforms that have demonstrated measurable success.” 

So in other words, Oakland hadn’t mishandled the education of our children. We had overspent our budget in trying to provide quality education, is all. That’s an important point to keep in mind while examining the question of under what circumstances Oakland will be able to get its schools back. 

Moving on. In return for taking over the schools, the State of California gave the Oakland Unified School District a $100 million line of credit in order to meet its May 2003 payroll and keep from going bankrupt. 

How much of that line of credit has actually been drawn on, and why, is an interesting subject for another time. 

Anyways, many observers were under the impression Oakland could only get its schools back when the line of credit was paid off. Actually, that’s not true. We can get them back before that, but under certain conditions. SB39 provides a multi-part recovery process in which 1) the state-financed, semi-autonomous Fiscal Crisis Management Assistance Team (FCMAT) must come up with an improvement plan for the Oakland schools, 2) the state superintendent and the state-appointed administrator must come up with a “multi-year financial recovery plan,” 3) the state-appointed administrator must negotiate collective bargaining agreements with the respective school unions “consistent with the terms of the improvement plan,” and 4) both the state-appointed administrator, the state superintendent, and FCMAT must agree that future compliance by the Oakland Unified School District with the improvement plan … and the multi-year financial recovery plan … is probable.” 

If all of these conditions occur, SB39 concludes sunnily, “the governing board of the Oakland Unified School District shall regain al of its rights, duties, and powers.” 

Careful readers will quickly note the “oddity” in this law: The Oakland schools will be run by the state superintendent and his administrator until the state superintendent and his administrator decide that they—the state superintendent and his administrator—are running the Oakland schools properly. As soon as the state superintendent and his administrator come to that conclusion, the Oakland schools will be turned back over to Oakland, presumably under the theory that this process will prove that Oaklanders can run our own schools. It’s like a thief—is that too harsh a term? let’s just say a “friendly” neighbor—promising to give you back your new car as soon as he learns how to drive it, giving you the reason that he’s only trying to ensure that you’ll be able to drive it yourself. 

If you think I’m making all of this up, friends, or misinterpreting the law somehow, look it up for yourself and draw your own conclusions. 

Last week, two years after the state takeover, State Superintendent O’Connell and state administrator Ward released a 107-page Multi-Year Fiscal Recovery Plan called for in SB39 and Section 41327 of the state Education Code, and that was the purpose for the town hall meeting at Oakland Tech. 

Thoughts on what happened at that meeting will have to wait until next week’s column. Meanwhile Oakland, poor Oakland, continues to bleed, while taking the blame for others’ actions. 



Friday April 29, 2005

Rape Suspect Arraigned 

A transient has been charged with 12 counts of felony rape and other sexual crimes in connection with three attacks in Albany and Berkeley earlier this year. 

Lonnie Torres, 36, was arrested by Berkeley police on Feb. 22 for possession of methamphetamine, stolen property and for obstructing a police officer. Realizing that Torres matched the suspect sketch for the rapist, patrol officers called in detectives, according to a released statement by Berkeley Police Public Information Officer Joe Okies. 

On Wednesday Torres was arraigned on five counts of rape and sexual assault, four counts of kidnapping and three counts of robbery. 

The charges stem from three attacks that took place in January and February. In the early morning hours of Jan. 12, two victims were confronted at gunpoint on Key Route Boulevard in Albany, Okies wrote. One victim was sexually assaulted and both were robbed. The second attack occurred late in the evening on Feb. 7. A woman was attacked trying to enter her house, but managed to break free from the attacker and call police. The third case occurred at about 7 a.m. Feb. 11 when a woman was raped and sexually assaulted at gunpoint on Delaware Street near San Pablo Avenue. 


Daytime Shooting 

Neighbors called police to respond to a shooting on the 1400 block Oregon Street Tuesday. Police found the 29-year-old victim lying in the street with a bullet wound in his thigh. 

Witnesses at the Spiral Gardens outdoor market at Sacramento and Oregon streets said while the victim was inside a car with the suspects they heard a gunshot. Canchan Miller said the victim was then shoved from the car onto the street. 

“He was just lying on the ground taking it,” Miller said, adding that she approached the victim to find him talking on his cell phone. “He just kept breathing hard trying to keep it together. He didn't want an ambulance or the cops or anybody involved.” 

Police say the driver and another passenger in the car, a white Chrysler, continued west on Oregon Street before turning onto Stanton Street. 

Daniel Miller, who runs Spiral Gardens, said daytime shootings were not uncommon in his neighborhood. The most recent one before Tuesday’s, he recalled, happened two months ago when a man was shot waiting for a bus on Sacramento Street. 


Accosted Pedestrian 

Two men, one flashing a silver pistol, approached a pedestrian near the corner of Ashby Avenue and Seventh Street on the afternoon of April 19 and demanded cash. 

Their victim complied, and the bandits sped away in a beige Datsun 280Z, said Berkeley Police spokesperson Officer Steve Rego. 


Beaned at Drop In Center 

A nurse at Alta Bates Hospital called police after a 23-year-old man wandered into the emergency room at 5:30 p.m. of April 20 with injuries and indicated he’d been struck on the nose with something very hard. 

Police arriving at the scene discovered that the weapon had been a can of frijoles refritos, wielded by an erstwhile friend the victim declined to identify. 


Scream for Help 

A resident of the 1700 block of Parker Street at 8:30 p.m. on April 20 to report that a woman had been screaming in the neighborhood. 

Officers discovered that the cries came from a 34-year-old woman who had been struck by one of two young men who approached her as she was sitting in her car. 

The victim told officers that the assailant had struck her, then tried to get her money. When she resisted, the two thugs departed. 


Stone Assault 

Police were called to San Pablo Park last Saturday morning after a caller reported a rock assault that had taken place in the park a day earlier. 

The perpetrator turned out to be a 12-year-old boy who had hurled his igneous missile at a 13-year-old. No arrests were made, said Officer Rego. 


iPod Robbery 

A pedestrian strolling along Dwight Way near Martin Luther King Jr. Way called police Saturday afternoon after a young man in a red sweatshirt flashed a knife and demanded his iPod. 

The victim surrendered his music machine and the robber hot-footed it outta there. 


Gang of Three 

Three robbers—one woman and two men—braced a pedestrian on Channing Way near San Pablo Avenue early Sunday morning. One slugged him in the jaw as they made off with his wallet and cell phone. 

They were last seen fleeing on foot. 



Two adults and a teenager confronted a woman standing next to her car at the 76 Station at Seventh Street and Ashby Avenue Monday afternoon. 

The youngest of the three pulled a long-barrelled black pistol and aimed it at the woman and the trio made off with her 2004 Monte Carlo. 

The car was discovered later, abandoned on Eastshore Boulevard, said Officer Rego. No suspects have been arrested. 


Flees in Cab 

A middle aged robber with a limp entered the Bank of America at 2929 Shattuck Ave. and presented a note demanding cash. The teller complied, and the suspect then stepped outside and into a waiting cab. 

Police quickly located the cab and arrested a 39-year-old suspect on robbery charges. 


Grade School Knife Flasher 

Berkeley Police were summoned to Le Conte School Tuesday morning after the principal called to report that a 7-year-old second-grade boy had brandished a pocket knife at a 7-year-old girl. 

Police made no arrest, and the young offender was turned over to his parents. 


Commentary: Host Cities Battle University Expansion By KIM STANLEY ROBINSON

Friday April 29, 2005

UC Davis and the City of Davis are like Siamese twins who share one body but have two heads. The interests of the two heads are not always the same. If one wants to grow and the other doesn’t, they’ve got a problem. 

That’s what has happened here. The un iversity’s administration, frustrated by Davis’s commitment to slow growth, decided to build its own town. And when it comes to the UC system, we do not have enough of the checks and balances that elsewhere serve American government so well. 

That this is a structural problem in California law is indicated by the fact that four UC growth plans are presently being sued or challenged by the communities hosting them, with more to follow. The city government of Berkeley brought a CEQA lawsuit against UCB much like West Davis Neighbors’ against UCD. Citizen groups in Merced have filed legal actions against UC Merced, and are planning more; and citizen groups are organizing in Santa Cruz, Irvine, and Santa Barbara to oppose UC growth policies. Berkeley’s govern ment is currently working to set up a task force of UC host cities to act collectively when faced with UC intransigence. All these actions are attempts to get the Regents to respond to local concerns after negotiations failed. 

The negotiations fail so of ten because the Regents feel they don’t really have to compromise. Here in Davis, university administrators keep referring to the 33 meetings they held, but they don’t mention that public objections to their neighborhood grew stronger at every meeting. In their last scheduled meeting, 320 people attended and 75 of them spoke, seventy against the development. Nothing changed. 

UCD’s planned housing development would have added 23,000 car trips a day to Davis’s main east-west street, which is already crowde d. The Davis City Council objected, but UCD ignored the objections and did not change the size or location of their development. 

At that point West Davis Neighbors filed a CEQA lawsuit against the Regents. A three-judge appellate court will make a ruling on the case later this year. 

Ours, however, is no longer the most important case in the matter, if judged by the fiscal impact on Davis residents. The California Supreme Court is currently reviewing a decision in the case City of Marina vs. CSUS, which forbade the CSU system from giving Marina any money to mitigate the environmental impacts of the new school. If the Court upholds the decision, the UC system too will be forbidden to compensate cities for the environmental impacts of new development. 

The UC Regents have made arguments to the Supreme Court asking them to uphold the decision, hoping to achieve that result. 

If that happens, we in Davis will be left to foot the bill for the impacts of a suburban development housing 4,300 people, meaning mil lions of dollars the city does not have. Various university officials say they have discussed payments with city staff and the school board, but these university officials all work for the Regents, who have meanwhile been arguing to the Supreme Court that they should pay nothing to local cities. So the UCD administration may not be able to fulfill any promises they make to us. That’s happened before; UCD officials signed a memorandum of agreement with the city, for instance, promising not to grow abruptly, but with the Regents’ “Tidal Wave 2” they acted as if the memorandum did not exist, making no reference to it. 

Now they are proceeding with their neighborhood before the Supreme Court decides the Marina case, despite the fact that they don’t know if they will be allowed to pay for any of its impacts. Clearly this is fiscally irresponsible, but that may be the point; the Regents appear to believe in strengthening their hand in uncertain legal situations by building first and worrying later. They did it at UC Merced, building before permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers were given, hoping to increase their leverage and get their way. You could call the strategy “Build it and they will fund.” 

This would work in Davis too. It is hard otherwise to explain why the university is forging ahead. After all, “Tidal Wave 2,” that sudden new influx of students and faculty, got canceled. The wave is not coming, extra new faculty are not being hired, and the unsolved state budget shortfall makes it unlikely any of that will change soon. It is unclear who would end up buying the 475 homes UCD still plans to build. 

If they build them, 4,300 more people will move to Davis at the same time that Covell Village may be adding a similar amount. That double strain w ill break Davis’s infrastructure. The first two parts to go will be the high school and Russell Boulevard, both already jammed. And the university may be forbidden by law to contribute anything to mitigate their impacts. 

Given this situation, it’s an ope n question why the Davis City Council does not take legal action to defend the town, as the City Council in Berkeley has done. At West Davis Neighbor’s urging they filed an amicus brief with the California Supreme Court, asking the Court to overturn the M arina ruling, but there are many other things they could do as well: warn UCD that annexation depends on moving the footprint north-south; join the other cities now challenging the Regents; join efforts to get the state legislature to pass laws forcing th e Regents to be more responsive to their host cities. They could fight harder for the city’s interests here, and they should. 

Until they do, West Davis Neighbors will continue in every way it can to fill the gap created by the council’s inaction. On April 30 at 7:30 p.m. we will celebrate the effort by hosting a second gala at Bogey’s Books, “Art For Davis 2.” Last year this was a great party, and it was beautiful to see all the art by local artists. It’s one of many ways to continue to defend Davis and the ag fields surrounding it, so come if you can, and urge our City Council members to join our common effort. 

It is hard to imagine the loss of open space before it happens, but I grew up in Orange County and know the experience well. People will be shocked and heartsick when those fields are torn up and replaced by the backside of a housing development. But at that point it will be too late. The time to act is now, before the bulldozers roll, when we and our City Council can still defend the interests of the town and its citizens. 


Kim Stanley Robinson is a fiction writer and Davis resident.›

Commentary: City Denied Due Process in Drayage Case By JEFFREY CARTER

Friday April 29, 2005

While much attention and concern has been rightly directed towards the Bush administration’s erosion of civil liberties, the federal government is not alone. In fact, the City of Berkeley is in the midst of denying a number of its citizens their constitutionally guaranteed due process rights under the law. 

Approximately 35 residents of the West Berkeley live/work artisans residence known as the Drayage have been threatened with immediate eviction and criminal prosecution by the city for simply desiring to live in their homes. These tenants have lived here for over 15 years. These threats are the result of a process—or more accurately, no process—in which one person, the same person, has served the following functions: 

1. Investigator 

2. Witness 

3. Prosecutor 

4. Trial Judge 

5. Jury 

6. Sentencing Judge 

7. Executioner 

The person who has been and continues to perform all these roles is Berkeley Fire Marshal David Orth. The power wielded by the fire marshal is patently overbroad and unconstitutional—anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of due process can see this—except apparently the Berkeley city attorney who has stated publicly that there is no right to a hearing, review or appeal of a fire marshal’s decision.  

Thus, based on the opinion of one person, an entire community is on the verge of losing their homes. And the building owner is being fined an astronomical amount, as well as being deprived of the right to continue renting these units. The city has, in effect, ordered the owner to evict everyone in the building. All this without hearing, or an opportunity to confront the accuser, or to challenge the evidence against them, or to present contrary evidence, or to defend one’s self, or to appeal.  

The United States Supreme Court has long held that “the concept that due process mandates the right to notice and hearing prior to the taking of property has been held applicable even to temporary deprivations of property.” Sniadach v. Family Finance Corp. (1969) 395 U.S. 337; Fuentes v. Shevin (1972) 407 U.S. 67. Yet, in this instance, Berkeley has decided that its citizens are entitled to nothing. Berkeley rewrites, or better, writes off, the Fourteenth Amendment.  

For readers who have not been following this story over the past six weeks, here is an update: The folks living at the Drayage have openly lived in the approximate 25 residential and studio spaces since the early 1980s. They are intelligent people who have taken care of their spaces and have not lived in fear of fire. In mid-March, the fire marshal unceremoniously gave them two weeks to leave their residences, claiming an imminent fire danger. Several items noted by the fire marshal which seemed to be of concern—e.g. the use of propane stove tanks—were immediately removed by the tenants. The residents then installed 50 new smoke detectors and placed 50 functioning fire extinguishers throughout the building and residences—apparently to no avail, as the city continues to pursue an aggressive policy towards these long-term Berkeley residents. The Drayage is not in danger of combusting, spontaneously or otherwise. 

Curiously, in the 1980s, the city Building Department issued permits for construction of 12 units within the building. These units were built out to code by professional contractors. In 1984, when notified that there were people living at the Drayage, the Building Department wrote: “OK for live/work” in response. In the early ‘90s, the then Drayage owner specifically asked the Fire Department by letter if there were any fire code violations at his building. None were noted, despite years of inspections. Now, it appears that everything said before was wrong. 

Ironically, May 1—usually celebrated in these parts as International Workers Day—is also “Law Day,” so consecrated by President Eisenhower during the chilliest cold war era of the ‘50s. It might do the City of Berkeley good to reflect on the Eisenhower version of May 1. Perhaps then, the City Council might consider a resolution acknowledging that the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution is applicable within its borders, and guarantees due process of law to all of its citizens, including the residents and owner of the Drayage.  


Jeffrey J. Carter is an attorney and advisor to the Drayage residents. 




Commentary: Berkeley Thai Temple Responds to Critics

Friday April 29, 2005

Editors, Daily Planet: 

We would like to respond to Matthew Artz’s April 8 article regarding the Berkeley Thai Temple’s use of the newly acquired lots that formerly housed the South Berkeley Community Garden, run by Spiral Gardens. 

We were deeply affected and sad to hear that the gardeners were brokenhearted to see that what they worked so hard on had disappeared. We hear that they and some of the neighbors are upset at the temple for removing the garden that they love. We care very much about our neighbors and how we as a temple represent both Buddhism and the Thai community in the Bay Area. Therefore, we think it is important to address these concerns in order to strengthen our relationship with the community. 

We would like to extend our sincere apology to those whom we have unintentionally offended. We offer the following explanation in the spirit of reconciliation. We did not intend to be unclear to Spiral Gardens about the impact to the plot. Perhaps the language barrier created a problem in communicating to one another. Here are our intentions, which we want the larger community to know: 

Due to the temple’s growing needs, we decided to purchase the lots adjacent to the temple, which is owned by the Trust of Weston Havens. Spiral Gardens had leased this plot from the trust until the temple acquired it. When we bought it, we let Spiral Gardens continue to use the land for an additional three to five months, without charge, so that they would have time to take what they needed from the garden. Evidently, no one came to remove any plants from the garden at all. We would like to be able to use the land to fulfill our pressing needs, which include building either a sanctuary for the Buddha, a place for temple events, or additional parking. We will plant trees, add rose bushes, an herb garden and a Buddha garden as a place of respite for visitors. 

We feel very badly that we should have notified the city before we removed any trees and should have informed our neighbors of the changes on the land. We apologize for this as we did not know the rules and regulations pertaining to the trees’ removal. We do intend to follow procedures from now on. 

We kindly ask the public to understand that we do not harbor ill will or ill intentions to mislead any one. We sincerely hope that by explaining our view to the public in this manner, will help eliminating misunderstandings about our temple and the Thai community. 


Ajahn Manatt 

Head Monk  

On behalf of the Berkeley Thai Temple

Exhibit Highlights the Work of Women in California By STEVEN FINACOM

Special to the Planet
Friday April 29, 2005

For a brief respite from the present era of posturing machismo in politics and public life, as well as a thoughtful tour through California’s past, a new exhibit, “Our Collective Voice: The Extraordinary Work of Women in California,” is well worth visiting on the University of California campus. 

The exhibit is up through June 4 in the Bernice Layne Brown Gallery at Doe Library, but there’s also a special opening reception today (Friday) from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on the North Terrace of the library.  

Reception and exhibit are free. Today’s event features a panel of, and readings by, several notable local women, including Sylvia McLaughin and Marian Diamond, as well as musical entertainment by the women of the California Golden Overtones. 

The exhibit organizers and designers, a group of talented librarians, historians, and others at the university too numerous to name here, drew on the amazingly varied and rich archives of the Bancroft Library to create a complex and rewarding display. 

Dozens of women from California pre-history to the modern era are profiled. Most come across as capable and courageous individuals who made waves, questioned convention or the commandments of men, or just simply worked for the public good. 

The scope extends from Kathleen Norris, the early 20th century novelist, to Kathleen Cleaver, the late 20th century Black Panther spokeswoman, to native American women whose names are lost to history. 

Marble columns in the exhibit gallery—which doubles as the main entrance hall to the library—are posted with photographs and biographical descriptions of women. Life-sized photo enlargements of women from the exhibit stand about the hall. 

Glass exhibit cases are thematically divided, and cleverly titled, from “Sisterhood and Social Reform” to “Literary Lionesses”, “Be-mused” (women in the arts, including Ina Coolbrith and Joan Brown) and “Designing Women”, the latter featuring Julia Morgan and other women architects and planners such as housing advocate Catherine Bauer Wurster. 

The exhibit curators and designers organized a lively, appealing, mix of images, objects, and text. There are evocative items such as a teapot owned by Gertrude Stein and filled with rose petals from her garden, drawings by Berkeley architect Lillian Bridgeman, baskets woven by native American women, and a number of diaries, journals, and other handwritten records. 

There are deeply moving stories here, including the accounts of Japanese-American women interned during World War II and native and Spanish-Mexican Californios who saw their cultures submerged in the rapid influx of Gold Rush Americans. 

I especially enjoyed the case on “Wilderness Watchers” including Berkeley’s own Marian Randall Parsons, Caroline LeConte, whose 1898 journal is on display, and Sierra Club leader Peggy Wayburn, whose amusing list of “Don’ts for returning Sierrans” is included. 

The selection of quotes and arrangement of items is incisive and exciting. Gems lie scattered throughout the exhibit. 

For example, there’s this delicious quote from 19th century author and ornithologist Florence Merrian Baily: “What injustice! Here an innocent creature with an olive-green back and yellowish breast has to go about all her days known as the black-throated blue warbler, just because that happens to describe the dress of her spouse!” 

University history is evoked with several great items, including a beautiful color rendering of the 1917 version of the Phoebe Apperson Hearst Plan for the Berkeley campus, the typescript of a famous speech by Joan Didion about Berkeley, and Jane Sather’s handwritten letter to University officials trenchantly defining “the difference in nude and naked” in reference to classical carvings installed on Sather Gate.  

Other fascinating campus items on display in the “Cal Grrrls” case include the handwritten 1920s impressions of a first day on campus written by a newly arrived student, and co-ed Elsie McCormick’s ironic “women’s etiquette” essay from 1916, in which she skewered that era’s widespread male student chauvinism. 

“If a man speaks to you, always preface your answer by ‘Tee-hee’ “ she writes, and “Do not be the only women in the College of Mechanics. To know anything about the anatomy of an automobile is immodest.” 

Many of the visual vignettes provide accounts of historical events in the still uncomfortably recent past such as the experiences of Vera Schultz, the first woman County Supervisor in Northern California, elected in 1952. 

Schultz, the exhibit relates, once arrived for an official gathering of regional office holders to find a “No Women Allowed” sign. Advised to sedately go to lunch with the wives of her fellow elected officials, she tore up the sign and took a seat at the right meeting. 

The lengthy and heated early 20th century campaign for women’s suffrage, both nationally and in California, garners considerable attention in the exhibit, with a display of creative and provocative ephemera. There are campaign ribbons, meeting announcements, and even postcards with pro-suffrage poems. 

One of the most interesting items is a letter from Susan B. Anthony to activist Mary McHenry Keith, dubbed Berkeley’s “Mother of Suffrage” and also the first woman to earn a law degree from Hastings Law School in San Francisco. 

“When women come to write their books out of their hearts and consciences, instead of writing just what will sell on the market, we shall have some truths told that men have never yet heard, but when the time will come that women will be free, and speak their full thought, I hardly know.” 

Once you view this exhibit you'll realize, at least in part, that time is now. 

For more information on the exhibit, call 643-0397 or see www.lib.berkeley.edu/news_events/exhibits/women.html. 


Berkeley Rep Production Revisits the People’s Temple Tragedy By KEN BULLOCK

Special to the Planet
Friday April 29, 2005

It’s hard to recall, to represent the atmosphere—the immediate sense, much less any deeper one—of the scandals and violent deaths in November 1978, in the Bay Area and Guyana. The People’s Temple, now in its world premiere at Berkeley Rep’s Roda Theatre, in association with San Francisco’s Z Space, which originally commissioned and developed the piece, begins with traces, voices and images. 

Out of a white storage box, from metal stacks full of shelves of such boxes, a man (James Carpenter) takes a red choir robe, which he holds with a far-away expression of remembrance, as Miche Braden appears in such a robe singing gospel—a memory—the presence of a community member, of the community itself, all gone.  

Other cast members open boxes, costume themselves in “personal effects,” start clapping and singing along, while Carpenter, still distant, moves his lips to the lyrics; after the song he plays Tim Carter, a Jonestown survivor, describing aerial photos of the site, telling of flying to Jonestown over rivers, saying that Guyana means “many rivers”—“from the size of a footpath ... we cleared over 1,000 acres by hand ... I saw future generations, my grandkids, playing in Jonestown.” 

The show loops back through the founding of the Temple in 1955 in Indianapolis, by minister Jim Jones and his wife, Marceline, and its career of feeding the poor, faith healing—and self-promotion. John McAdams plays Jack Beam, a founding member and on the board of the temple, describing Jones’ split from the Disciples of Christ in 1961 to create a fully integrated congregation: “ ‘God is no respecter of persons’ ... I was still racist back then; people still had that problem. They wanted the healing, but they were all tore up over the race problem ... he had to phrase it all in loving Biblical terms.” 

After moving to Redwood Valley, near Ukiah—apparently in response to an Esquire article citing its safety in case of nuclear war!—a new recruitment begins. Cast members play different converts, all with different backgrounds and reasons for joining—though the one reason most have in common is articulated by Lauren Klein, playing Liz Forman Schwartz, Jewish red diaper baby: “What did they have that I always wanted? Community!” 

The show—which emphasizes moving forward rather than looking back—scores with its impressionistic strokes (“sculpting interviews” and staging them, like its predecessor, The Laramie Project) in giving a sense of both the trajectory of the Temple into political wheeling and dealing and internal policing, and the prismatic viewpoints of members, associates and outsiders on the group and its doings and intentions. Colman Domingo plays a street brother, recruited on a sweep through the Midwest, who sees Jim Jones as a con-man, but joins up to find himself with more friends than he ever had, and a sense of purpose—and, with the making of Jonestown out of jungle, accomplishment. Domingo also does a brief, funny sketch of Willie Brown introducing Jones at a rally as “a combination Martin King, Angela Davis, Albert Einstein and Chairman Mao.” 

Bob Ernst is, for a moment, San Francisco Supervisor Robert Mendelsohn, telling a Chronicle reporter (Barbara Pitts) “everybody loves this guy, he gets things done,” then calling back to say “maybe you shouldn’t quote me about it.” 

Jones’ rhetoric, the hallmark of his “socialist temple,” is given in soundbites by John McAdams and James Carpenter: 

“All of you are God, you, I ... heaven is on earth ... our romance together is on a higher plane.” Others tell of how families were broken down, of sexual games, of the large percentage (75 percent of the Jonestown dead) that were poor and older black people. 

Margo Hall plays a convert who had been a Father Divine follower. Adam Wade, suspiciously checking out the temple for his family, remarks that Jones, in a velour shirt and shades, didn’t look like a minister: “He was cool!” 

There are grim reminders, too, of the crudest racism used to manipulate both black and white members. Lauren Klein and James Carpenter play Barbara and Rev. John Moore of Glide Memorial, whose two daughters “with the social worker instinct” died at Jonestown. They hear from one daughter (Kelli Simpkins): “I was born into capitalist sins, racist sins—and he’s the only one who could deliver you,” Her calm, bitter letter from Jonestown’s last hour is one striking testimony, and her father’s “Hundreds of actors in that tragedy—I was one of them,” another, one that sums up the piece’s method in a way. 

One testimony flows into another almost seamlessly. The excellent cast of 12 (including San Francisco Mime Troupe’s Velina Brown, as well as veterans of The Laramie Project) and the writers (Leigh Fondakowski, who also directs, chief writer of The Laramie Project; Stephen Wangh; and cast members Margo Hall, of San Francisco’s Campo Santo and Word For Word, and Greg Pierotti) have made a very professional production, and an affecting one. Something comes out of it—but it’s more a feeling, something indefinite, than that imaginative concentrate the audience takes away from a dramatic form like Tragedy. 

Cleverly pieced and dovetailed together, these various voices out of a somewhat undefined past (a confused social-political situation, many cults and “orgs” attracting followers from a broad social spectrum) may do something to open up the deadlock that began nine days after the Jonestown tragedy, with the strangely related assassinations of San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk by ex-Supervisor Dan White, when “all real dialogue ... ceased.” 

But this impressionism can become a blur, with no grounded point of view, no more than sound-bites. Are they meant to incite questions, conversation? To put a tragedy to rest? These and other intentions are stated or implied, but not given enough context, either historically or in relation to the present. Certain voices challenge the media image, endlessly repeated, of Jonestown: “I want to take anybody that says it was suicide and choke their throats!” But the questions arising from these fragments would be necessarily vague questions, nothing easily pursued conversationally, communally. 

Threads of stories, monologues and soliloquies from interviews, letters, Temple archive oral histories remain powerful. There are testimonies to the more than 900 dead (who John McAdams, as Jones’ son Stephen says, need to be given names.) And then there are those who had to find a way to go on. These are family, friends and even those who were there, who carry the label, a stigma, (as Margo Hall, playing Shanette Oliver, finds when she Googles her name): Survivor.  


The People’s Temple plays at the Berkeley Repertory Theater through May 29. $20-$55. 647-2949, or www.berkeleyrep.org.V

Arts Calendar

Friday April 29, 2005



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


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 

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 

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 

Eastenders Repertory “A Knight's Escape” and “WWJD,” Thurs. - Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 3 p.m., through May 15 at The Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby Ave. Tickets are $15-$18 available from 568-4118. 

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 

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. May 1 at 2:30 p.m at The Masquers Playhouse, 105 Park Place, Point Richmond. Tickets are $13. 232-4031. www.masquers.org 

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


Presidio Ensemble at 8 p.m. at Giorgi Gallery, 2911 Claremeont Ave. Tickets are $10.  

Andy Canepa, piano recital at 8 p.m. in the PSR Chapel, 1798 Scenic Way. Suggested donation $10-$20. 704-7729. 

Street to Nowhere, Desa, The Wildlife at 9:30 p.m. at Blakes on Telegraph. Cost is $5-$7. 848-0886. www.blakesontelegraph.com 

Sovoso at 8 p.m. at the Jazz- 

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

Potingue, contemporary flamenco and Latin music at 8:30 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $10-$12. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

Stompy Jones, East Coast Swing, Lindy Hop at 9:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Swing dance lesson with Nick & Shanna at 8 p.m. Cost is $$11-13. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

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

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

Candice & Company at 9 p.m. at Downtown. 649-3810.  

Pete Madsen at 7:30 p.m. at Nomad Cafe, 6500 Shattuck Ave. 595-5344. www.nomadcafe.net 

Avalon Rising, The Dead Guise at 9:30 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $6. 841-2082. www.starryplough.com 

These Days, Stop at Nothing, Count the Hours at 8 p.m. at 924 Gilman St., an all-ages, member-run, no alcohol, no drugs, no violence club. Cost is $6. 525-9926. 

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

The Chick Corea Elektric Band at 8 and 10 p.m. at Yoshi’s at Jack London Square, through Sun. Cost is $24-$28. 238-9200. www.yoshis.com 



Los Amiguitos de La Peña with Orange Sherbert at 10:30 a.m. at La Peña. Cost is $5. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 


“Shadow Light” Black and white photographs by Len Blau. Reception for the artist at 6 p.m. at Photolab Gallery, 2235 Fifth St. Exhibition runs to June. 11. www.photolabgallery.com 


Living Arts Playback Theater, an evening of improvisational theater at 8 p.m. at Berkeley Richmond Jewish Community Center, 1414 Walnut St. Tickets are $12-$18. For reservations 655-5186, ext. 25. 


Poetry Flash with Albert Flynn DeSilver and Chris Stroffolino at 7:30 p.m. at Cody’s Books. Donation $2. 845-7852. www.codysbooks.com 


Trinity Chamber Concert “New Pacific Trio” at 8 p.m. at Trinity Chapel, 2320 Dana St. Cost is $8-$12. 549-3864. http://trinitychamberconcerts.com 

Catacoustic Consort, operas of the Italian Baroque at 8 p.m. at St. John’s Presbyterian Church, 2727 College Ave. 528-1725. www.sfems.org 

Berkeley Broadway Singers “Future Broadway” at 8 p.m. at St. Ambrose Church, 1145 Gilman St. Free concert. 604-5732. www.berkeleybroadwaysingers.org 

Perfect Fifth Spring Concert, a capella, featuring early and modern settings of sacred texts at 7 p.m. at Hearst Memorial Mining Building, UC Campus. Tickets are $5-$10. http://tickets.berkeley.edu 

The Third Art-Jazz-Jam to celebrate Jazz Appreciation Month at 5:30 p.m. at the Adeline Artists’ Lofts, 1131 24th St., Oakland. Donation $5.  

Peter Cincotti, jazz vocalist, at 8 p.m. at Zellerbach Hall, UC Campus. Tickets are $22-$42. 642-9988. www.calperfs.berkeley.edu 

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

Jody Stecher & Kate Breslin at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $17.50-$18.50. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 

Mujeres: Carolyn Brandy with Ojala and Las Locas of Loco Bloco at 7:30 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $18-$20. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

Emmanuel Vaughn Lee Group at 8 p.m. at the Jazz- 

school. Cost is $15. 845-5373. www.jazzschool.com 

Kotoja at 9:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. African dance lesson with Comfort at 9 p.m. Cost is $11-$13. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

Fingertight, Alexic, Forthmorning, alt, progressive, punk at 9 p.m. at Blakes on Telegraph. Cost is $8-$10. 848-0886. www.blakesontelegraph.com 

The Rio Thing at 9 p.m. at Downtown. 649-3810.  

Stevie Harris at 7:30 p.m. at Nomad Cafe, 6500 Shattuck Ave. 595-5344. www.nomadcafe.net 

Conscious Cabaret “Been There, Undone That” at 8 p.m. at Unity of Berkeley, 2075 Eunice St. Tickets are $15-$25. 528-8844. www.unityberkeley.org 

Greg Lamboy, Christie McCarthy, Mokai at 8 p.m. at McNally’s Irish Pub, 5352 College Ave., Oakland. Fundraiser for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. 415-710-0207. 

Michael Mewborne, Dawn Thomas, indy pop rock, at 8:30 p.m. at Epic Arts, 1923 Ashby Ave. Cost is $5-$10. www.epicarts.org 

Sandy Coates, Willow Willow, Yea-Ming at 9:30 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $6. 841-2082. www.starryplough.com 

Midnight Laserbeam, Apocalipstick, Pigeon at 8 p.m. at 924 Gilman St. Cost is $6. 525-9926. 

CV1 at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 848-8277. 



“Moments Seized” photographs reconstructed in glazed graphite paintings by Mary Cook. Reception from 6 to 8 p.m. at Cafe DiBartolo, 3310 Grand Ave., Oakland. 832-9005. 

“Exhibit A” Photographs by Mark and Michele Nelson, through May at Lanesplitter Pub & Pizza, 2033 San Pablo Ave. 845-1652. 


“Under a Shipwrecked Moon” by Antero Alli at 8 p.m. at Finnish Brotherhood Hall, 1970 Chestnut St. Cost is $5-$10. 464-4640.  


“Across Oceans of Sound: Music of the African Diaspora” a panel discussion at 2 p.m., concert at 3:30 p.m. at Hearst Museum, Bancroft Way at College Ave. 643-7648.  

“Behind the Prints of Christopher Brown” with the printmaker at 3:30 p.m. at the Oakland Museum of California, 10th and Oak Sts. Cost is $4-$8. 238-2200. www.museumca.org 

Judy Chicago introduces “Kitty City: A Feline Book of Hours” from 2 to 4 p.m. at Cody’s Books on Fourth St. 559-9500.  

Poetry Flash a reading for Milvia Street Magazine at 7:30 p.m. at Cody’s Books. Donation $2. 845-7852.  


Berkeley Broadway Singers “Unforgettable” Choral works, solo pieces and standards at 4 p.m. at St. Augustine’s Church, 400 Alcatraz Ave. 604-5732. www.berkeleybroadwaysingers.org 

Berkeley Community Chorus and Orchestra Duruflé “Requiem” at 4:30 p.m. at St. Joseph the Worker Church, 1640 Addison St. Free, donations accepted. www.bcco.org 

Kronos Quartet at at 7 p.m. at Hertz Hall, UC Campus. Tickets are $42, available from 642-9988. www.calperfs.berkeley.edu 

UC Chamber Chorus performs music composed during the Counter Reformation in Italy at 3 p.m. at Berkeley Art Museum, 2626 Bancroft Way. 642-0808. www.bampfa.berkeley.edu 

“Duke Ellington’s Sacred Concert” with the Sojourner Truth Community Choir at 3 p.m. at the John and Jean Knox Center, Castro St. and El Portal Dr., San Pablo. Tickets are $25. 222-2020. 

Maria Marquez at 4:30 p.m. at the Jazzschool. Cost is $12-$18. 845-5373. www.jazz- 


Twang Cafe, americana, at 8:30 p.m. at Epic Arts, 1923 Ashby Ave. Cost is $5-$10. www.epicarts.org 

Redbird with Peter Mulvey, Kris Delmhorst and Jeffrey Foucault at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $17.50-$18.50. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 

Phil Berkowitz & Louis Blues at 7:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $9. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

Minerva, Empathy at 4 p.m. at Blakes on Telegraph. Cost is $8. 848-0886. www.blakesontelegraph.com 

From Ashes Rise, Paint it Black, Coliseum at 5 p.m. at 924 Gilman St. Cost is $7. 525-9926. 

Haverfan, Revolve, Exposure 411, alt rock, at 9 p.m. at Blakes on Telegraph. Cost is $8. 848-0886. www.blakesontelegraph.com 



Buddhism and Film: “Little Buddha” at 3 p.m. at the Pacific Film Archive. Cost is $4-$8. 642-0808. www.bampfa.berkeley.edu 


“Be Animated at NIAD” an exhibition of cartoons, anime, and cartoon characters by artists with disabilities and local professional animators at NIAD Gallery, 551 23rd St., Richmond. 620-0290. www.niadart.org 


“Page to Stage” A conversation about the making of “The People’s Temple” with playwright and director Leigh Fondakowski at 7 p.m. at Berkeley Rep, 2015 Addison St. Free. 647-2949. www.berkeleyrep.org 

Actors Reading Writers “The Intimacy of Strangers” stories by Richard Bausch and Flannery O’Connor at 7:30 p.m. at the Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant Ave. Bring a book and take a book in our monthly book exchange. www.juliamorgan.org  

Greil Marcus looks at Bob Dylan and his music in “Like a Rolling Stone” at 7:30 p.m. at Cody’s Books. 845-7852.  

David Watt reads from “Bedside Manners: One Doctor’s Reflections on the Oddly Intimate Encounters Between Patient and Healer” at 7:30 p.m. at Black Oak Books. 486-0698. www.blackoakbooks.com 

Poetry Express with Jim Lyle at 7 p.m., at Priya Restaurant, 2072 San Pablo Ave. berkeleypoetryexpress@yahoo.com 

Last Word Poetry Open Mic Marvin Hiemstra and Jan Steckel, at 7 p.m. at Pegasus Books, 2349 Shattuck Ave. 649-1320. 


Bill Bell & The Jazz Connection at 8 and 10 p.m. at Yoshi’s at Jack London Square. Cost is $10. 238-9200. www.yoshis.com 



“Challenging Wood – Beyond the Wooden Frame” a woodworking exhibit through May 26 at the June Steingart Art Galley, Laney College, 900 Fallon St., Oakland. Reception from 5 to 8 p.m. 464-3586. 


David Rothenberg describes “Why Birds Sing: A Journey into the Mystery of Bird Song” at 7:30 p.m. at Cody’s Books. 845-7852. www.codysbooks.com  


NoMeansNo at 9 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $10. 841-2082. www.starryploughpub.com 

Front Porch, The Trainwreck Riders, JD Buck, Jr. at 9:30 p.m. at The Stork Club, 2330 Telegraph Ave., Oakland. Tickets are $5. 444-6174.  

Lynne Arriale Trio at 8 and 10 p.m. Yoshi’s at Jack London Square. Cost is $10-$14. 238-9200.  

Duncan James, jazz guitar, at 8 p.m. at Downtown. 649-3810. 



Fim 50: “The Saddest Music in the World” at 3 p.m. at the Pacific Film Archive. Cost is $4-$8. 642-0808.  


Rush Kidder talks about “Moral Courage” at 7:30 p.m. at Cody’s Books. 845-7852.  

Katy Turchin, poet, at 6:30 p.m. at at Belladonna, 2436 Sacramento St. Donations benefit battered women. 


Holy Names University Chorus and Chamber Singers at 7:30 p.m. at 3500 Mountain Blvd. Tickets are $5-$15. 436-1130. 

Del Sol String Quartet at 8 p.m. at The Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby Ave. Tickets are $7-$21. 

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

Yair Dalal, Holocaust Memorial Concert at 8:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $13-15. 525-5054.  

Deepak Ram with Debopriyo Sarkar, Indian bansuri flute, at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $17.50-$18.50. 548-1761.  

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

Stilleta, CD release, at 9 p.m. at Blakes on Telegraph. Cost is $7-$8. 848-0886.  

Marcus Shelby Jazz Orchestra at 8 and 10 p.m. at Yoshi’s at Jack London Square, through Fri. Cost is $8-$12. 238-9200.  



Alvarado Artists Group Show at Giorgi Gallery, 2911 Claremont Ave. Reception at 6 p.m. 848-1228.  

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


“Ancestral Body Navegante,” spoken word performance by María Elena Fernandez at 7:30 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $7-$10. 849-2568.  


Festival Follies: “Words in Progress” at 5:30 p.m. at the Pacific Film Archive. Free screening. 642-0808.  


Lunch Poems with student poets at 12:10 p.m. at Morrison Library in Doe Library, UC Campus. 642-0137.  

Robert Morris’s “Blind Time Drawings” Gallery talk with Eve Meltzer at 12:15 p.m. at Berkeley Art Museum, 2625 Durant Ave. 642-0808.  

David Kirby discusses “Evidence of Harm—Mercury in Vaccines and the Autism Epidemic: A Medical Controversy” at 7:30 p.m. at Black Oak Books. 486-0698.  

John Markoff, introduces “What the Dormouse Said: How 60s Counterculture Shaped the Personal Computer Industry” at 7:30 p.m. at Cody’s Books. 845-7852.  

Word Beat Reading Series at 7 p.m. with Max Ventura and celebrating the release of David Lerner’s book, at Mediterraneum Caffe, 2475 Telegraph Ave. 526-5985.  

Diane Kirsten, poet, at 7 p.m. at the Albany Library, 1247 Marin Ave. 526-3720, ext. 17. 


Les Ballets Trocadero de Monte Carlo at 8 p.m. at Zellerbach Hall, UC Campus. Tickets are $26-$48. 642-9988.  

Beth Custer Ensemble at 9 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $10-$12. 525-5054.  

Za’atar, Jewish music from Arab lands, at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $17.50-$18.50. 548-1761.  

Danny Caron and John Wiitala at 8 p.m. at Downtown. 649-3810. 

Lee Ritenour & Friends at 8 and 10 p.m. through Sun. at Yoshi’s at Jack London Square., through Sun. Cost is $15-$24. 238-9200. www.yoshis.com 

David Siegel, Jenn August, Jason Miller, folk, at 8:30 p.m. at Epic Arts, 1923 Ashby Ave. Cost is $5-$10. #

A Writer’s Odyssey Through Literary Dublin By MARTA YAMAMOTO

Special to the Planet
Friday April 29, 2005

Metamorphosis. Dull caterpillar, easily overlooked, to striking butterfly. Insect Biology 101? No—Dublin. Now a vibrant, energized city, moving forward economically and culturally. Today visitors are buffeted by stimuli—masses of people, miles of traffic, a cacophony of sounds. So much to do: museums, galleries, historic sites, cafes, pubs, and clubs.  

So there I was, a writer in search of a story. Where should I go? What’s my theme? How can I connect with this eclectic city? What will I write? 

Finding something to write about was never a problem with Ireland’s abundance of great writers; Irish literature was integral to Dublin’s history and tradition. From the Book of Kells in the ninth century, through the cultural movements of both the 19th and 20th centuries, Ireland produced more than two dozen writers of renown, including four Nobel prizewinners. 

A theme emerged. To journey through Dublin. To celebrate Irish literature and poesis—the act of writing itself. 

I headed north, crossing the River Liffey. Will the flow of its currents inspire the flow of my prose? My destination was the Dublin Writers Museum, established to commemorate and promote interest in Irish literature and its writers. The two museum rooms in the beautifully restored Georgian mansion were already quite full by 10:30 a.m., one half hour after opening. Plugged in to the excellent audiotape included with the entrance fee, I chronologically traced the greats of literature: Jonathan Swift of Gulliver’s Travels, Dracula’s Bram Stoker, playwrights George Bernard Shaw and Oscar Wilde. Using rare manuscripts, diaries, letters, photographs and posters, the exhibits continue through the 20th century’s Abbey Theatre and Samuel Beckett, James Joyce and Sean O’Casey. These Irish authors continued to write about their home, especially Dublin, even while in exile, their works censored by the strong influence of the Catholic Church and Ireland’s turbulent political history. 

The quality of these exhibits and the elegance of the setting set the mood for inspiration, as well as the need for sustenance. The Christopher Café, downstairs, nourished my mind and body. In my experience, museums, historic sites, and refectories provide excellent homemade food at very reasonable prices. Seated at the outdoor Zen Garden, enjoying a pot of tea and a fresh scone, what else, I happily planned my day. 

Across the road at the Garden of Remembrance I savored the warm air and the sense of peace. Considering Dublin’s busy pace, it’s nice to know that areas of the city have been set aside for greenery and relief. Here, as well as at St. Stephen’s Green and Merrion Square, landscaped grounds, bright flowers, fountains, sculpture, and comfortable benches attract those wanting to pause in their busy schedules, whether at work or at play. This small, attractive garden was opened in 1966, 50 years after the Easter Uprising, and is dedicated to the men and women who lost their lives fighting for Irish freedom. An ideal spot for people watching and character study. 

Walking back toward the River Liffey I came upon a scene as colorful and delightful as the garden I just left. The Moore Street Market is a rainbow of fresh fruits, vegetables, and cut flowers, accompanied by the cries of their vendors. Bright red tomatoes, purple plums, multihued peppers, peaches and nectarines blushed by the sun. My feeling of discovery was magnified by its unexpectedness. A chance meeting between two characters or a secret rendezvous? 

Writers, books, library. The National Library of Ireland is housed in a magnificent building designed by Sir Thomas Deane and contains first editions of every major Irish writer as well as copies of almost every book ever published in Ireland. The domed first floor Reading Room is open to the public. It featured prominently in James Joyce’s epic novel Ulysses so it seems fitting that “James Joyce and Ulysses” is on exhibit here. The exhibition focuses on the artistic processes Joyce employed in writing his masterpiece. Notebooks, manuscripts, posters, photographs and the first copy of Ulysses ever published show that Dublin in 1904 was as vibrant and colorful as it is today. Using digital technology, visitors can magnify sections and turn pages of this book, an intimate experience bringing Ulysses 100 years forward. It was fantastic to see the pages of Joyce’s notes, scribbled randomly on paper, with items crossed out or underlined; it was almost like watching the author at work. 

Eighteen episodes, each in a different style and each tied into Homer’s Odyssey. All taking place in Edwardian Dublin on one day, June 16, 1904. So much has changed for this country yet this one book remains such a strong influence that each year Bloomsday celebrations revisit these immortal characters as they move through Dublin. 

Throughout Ireland’s recent history and on to the present, Trinity College looms as the center of learning. Forty acres in the city center, the stately buildings of Ireland’s oldest college remind us of the past while the bustle in Parliament Square brings us into the present – the atmosphere is alive. The line is long for Trinity’s most famous archive, the 9th century illuminated gospels, the Book of Kells. Beautifully displayed in the Old Library, “Turning Darkness into Light” and the barrel-vaulted ceiling of the Long Room exert their pull, making it hard to leave. This lavishly decorated book, representing so many hours of painstaking work, inspires one to spend a few more hours with pen and paper. 

Outside, Fellow’s Square is a natural gathering place for people of all ages. The large, green lawn ringed with comfortable benches called me to sit for a while with my journal, enjoy a coffee, people watch, and reflect. Next to me, two elderly ladies sat chatting away. What changes they must have witnessed here over the years! 

A city tour of perpetual motion is not the ticket for enjoyment. To know an area requires you to be in one place long enough to absorb its molecules. As I wrote in my journal, I thought back to Dublin in 1904, when Trinity College featured largely in Joyce’s tome, and how today it remains a driving force in city life. 

To ease the mind and the hand, I headed over to the Old Jameson Distillery. An audiovisual presentation began my education: Irish whiskey is “Uisce Beatha,” the water of life, and its distilling process is quite different from that of scotch or bourbon. The lively tour through the old distillery and whiskey tasting at the Jameson bar left me ready to tackle any writer’s block.  

Temple Bar, a warren of narrow streets and alleyways, at times appears to have been taken over by the young, becoming, in a sense, their playground. Restaurants, pubs and nightspots are present in large numbers, but the arts are equally represented in craft shops, film centers and galleries. At the Gallery of Photography I experienced a meeting of two arts—that of writing and photography. In an exhibit of over 75 haunting black and white photographs, Erich Hartman revisited Joyce’s Dublin, in 1964. For his journey of discovery Hartmann searched out every location from Ulysses, taking over 3000 images. His goal was to understand the city that inspired Joyce while as the same time repelling him. 

At the National Photographic Archive, “Fadographs of a Yestern Scene”, by Robert French, documented Dublin as Joyce experienced it at the turn of the century. French captured the everyday life of all strata of society, from the mansions of Merrion Square to the poverty of the inner city slums. Once again, the profound effect of Joyce’s Ulysses cannot be denied and is evident up through the present.  

On my final day in Dublin, I headed out to the coast. It was time for the sea breezes to rearrange the muddle of facts crowded into my mind. My destination was village of Howth, nine miles from Dublin. Aptly named, from the Norse “hoved” meaning headland, Howth Head dominates northern Dublin Bay. Since medieval times into the present, the waters have provided a living in this lovely coastal setting. 

The DART train from Dublin left me steps from Howth’s dominant attraction, its harbor, which supports a large fishing fleet. Always attracted to working ports and anxious for a walk without the need to sidestep crowds, I explored the West Pier. Here were the buildings and storehouses supporting the commercial side of Howth’s economy, ship chandlers and fresh fish markets doing brisk business, as well as fishermen at work. 

To reach the East Pier I walked along Howth Village past a multitude of cafes and restaurants and a few galleries and craft shops. At Maud’s Café I indulged in a favorite—a fresh prawn sandwich. Restored, I was ready to continue. 

The East Pier acts as a breakwater to Balscadden Bay and the Irish Sea, while forming a sheltered marina for the many pleasure craft moored here. The brisk winds off the water cleared my mind as I walked down this long pier. This would be a great place to write, protected by the sea wall. At pier’s end stood the lighthouse, its attractive red trim vibrant against the industrial colors of the boats. Across the channel, Ireland’s Eye, a small island once the site of a 6th century monastery. 

A coastal walk provided further spectacular views of the bay, the Irish Sea, and the heather topped rocky headland. I followed the trail toward Bailey Lighthouse and a Martello Tower, bringing me, once again, to Ulysses. Yes, even this headland and tower featured prominently in Joyce’s far-reaching novel. 

Back in Dublin, I joined the crowds crossing against the light, in defiance of the endless traffic. Moving forward. One hand reaching out to the future, the other holding steadily to the past. My journey complete; literary Dublin alive and well. 




Where to stay: 

Eliza Lodge: 23/24 Wellington Quay, Temple Bar, Dublin 2. (011) 353-1-6718044, http://dublinlodge.com. Doubles $120 per night. 

Hotel Saint George: 7 Parnell Sq. E, Northside, 1. (011) 353-1-8745611. Doubles from $100 per night. 


What to do: 

Dublin Writers Museum: 18 Parnell Sq. N, Northside. (011) 353-1-8722077. www.visitdublin.com. Adults $8. 

Garden of Remembrance: Parnell Sq., Northside National Library/ James Joyce and Ulysses: Kildaire St., Southside. (011) 353-01-6618811. www.nli.ie. Free.  

Trinity College/ The Book of Kells: College Green, Dublin 2. (011) 353-1-6082320. www.tcd.ie/library/kells.htm. Free admission to college grounds. Admission to Library $7 adults.  

Student-led Trinity Tours meet inside front gate; $10 includes entry to Book of Kells. (011) 353-01-6082320. 

Old Jameson Distillery: Bow St., Dublin West. 011 353 01 8072355. www.irish-whiskey-trail.com. Adults $7. 

Gallery of Photography: Meeting House square. S, Temple Bar. (011) 353-01-6714654. www.irish-phtography.com. Free. 

National Photographic Archive: Meeting House Sq., Temple Bar. (011) 353-01-6030371. www.nli.ie. Free. 

Historic Walking Tours of Dublin: 2 hour walking tours of city. (011) 353-01-8780227. Adults $12. 


For more information: 

www.irishabroad.com and www.irishsights.com. 


Berkeley This Week

Friday April 29, 2005


Protest Action: Campus Bay and UC Field Station to demand better oversight of these toxic sites and protection for the community at 7 a.m. at South 47th and Meade Sts., off the Bay View exit, west of 580, in Richmond. Dress warmly. 496-2722. 

City Commons Club Noon Luncheon with Izaly Zemsovsky on “Islam in Russia” Luncheon at 11:45 a.m. for $13, speech at 12:30 p.m., at the Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant St. For information and reservations call 526-2925 or 665-9020. 

Celebrating South Berkeley Seniors A presentation of murals in progress, storytelling, food and music at 6 p.m. at South Berkeley Senior Center. Sponsored by the California Council for the Humanities, California Stories Project. 704-0803. 486-8213. www.calhum.org 

Malcolm X Consciousness Conference A 3-day event with speakers, concerts, awards and fashion show at Laney College, Oakland. Tickets are $75. 997-0075. www.unlockyourroots.com 

Alameda County Bike to Work Kick-Off Lunch at noon at the MTC Metrocenter, 101 Eighth St., Oakland. to RSVP call 530-3444. www.511.org 

Berkeley School Volunteers Training workshop for volunteers interested in helping in Berkeley Public schools at 1:30 p.m. at 1835 Allston Way. 644-8833. 

“Exploring Quantum Phenomena” with Cornelia Jarica at 7 p.m. at Unity of Berkeley, 2075 Eunice St. Cost is $15. 528-8844. www.unityberkeley.org 

“Three Beats for Nothing” a small group meeting weekly at 10 a.m. at the North Berkeley Senior Center to sing for fun and practice, mostly 16th century harmony. No charge. 655-8863, 843-7610.  

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. People of all traditions are welcome to join us. Sponsored by the Buddhist Peace Fellowship. 655-6169. www.bpf.org 


See Our Snakes Meet the resident snakes of Tilden Nature Center, Tilden Park at 10:30 a.m. and learn about their behavior. 525-2233. 

Berkeley High School Family Day Picnic from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Berkeley High School on the “Campus Green,” 1980 Allston Way. Children’s jumper, games, music, basketball shoot-out, food and more. Sponsored by BHS Parent Resource Center. 644-8524. 

Green Home Expo and Energy Symposium from noon to 5:30 p.m. at Civic Center Park. Information on energy conservation, sustainable and non-toxic building products and renewable energy technology. www.GreenHome EXPO.org 

Cinco de Mayo Celebration with BAHIA and the City of Berkeley at 1 p.m. at James Kenney Park, 1720 Eighth St., at Delaware. Health fair, music, children’s games, crafts, and food. 525-1463. 

Berkeley Historical Society Walking Tour of “Holy Hill,” site of the Graduate Theological Union and the Flora Lamson Hewlett Library led by Allen Stross, from 10 a.m. to noon. Cost is $8-$10. 848-0181. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/histsoc/ 

Illuminated Cards Craft Event Make your own illuminated card in the style of the Middle Ages from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Albany Library, 1247 Marin Ave. Free and open to all ages. 526-3700, ext. 17. 

Civil Rights Celebration honoring James Forman, Joanne Grant and Ossie Davis at 6 p.m. at SEIU Local 250, 560 Thomas L. Berkley Way (formerly 20th St.) Between San Pablo and Telegraph Aves. Donation $5-$10. 

International Family Fair sponsored by The New School of Berkeley from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Bonita St. between Cedar and Virginia. Live entertainment, games, food and raffle. Free. 548-9165. www.newschoolofberkel0ey.org 

Spring Plant Sale from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the UC Botanical Garden, 200 Centennial Drive. 643-2755. http://botanicalgarden.berkeley.edu 

Berkeley Potters Guild Annual Spring Show Sat. and Sun. from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at 731 Jones St. 524-7031. www.berkeleypotters.com 

New Women’s Program Benefit Sale from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the KPFA parking lot on Berkeley Way just east of MLK Way. 527-2784. 

Self Defense for Daughters & Parents from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Julia Morgan Center, 2640 College Ave. Cost is $75 for a parent and child. 845-8542, ext. 302. 

Good Night Little Farm Help with the afternoon feeding, learn about our rare breeds and help tuck the animals in for the night, at 3:30 p.m. at Tilden Little Farm, Tilden Park. 525-2233. 

Choosing the Right Rose and Keeping an Organic Rose Garden with Ken Jose, rose expert, at 10 a.m. at Magic Gardens Nursery, 729 Heinz Ave. 644-2351. www.magicgardens.com 

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 

Drawing and Painting the Birds of the Garden A two day class in the Botanic Garden of Tilden Park. Cost is $90-$95. Registration required. 845-4116. www.nativeplants.org 

“In the Light of Reverence” a documentary with Chief Sisk-Franco of the Winneman-Wintu Tribe on the development of the Shasta Dam at 6 p.m. at the Richmond Main Library. Sponsored by West County Native Americans for Environmental Justice. 236-1631. 

“The Teachings of Light and Sound” with Sri Gary Olsen from 1 to 3:30 p.m. at the Berkeley Public Library, 2090 Kittredge St. www.masterpathpath.org 

Art Deco Society Preservation Ball Dinner, silent auction and entertainment, and presentation of the 2005 Art Deco Preservation Awards at Sweet’s Ballroom, 1933 Broadway, Oakland. Tickets are $85-$100. 415-982-3326. www.artdecosociety.org 

Reel Kids Films Inc. Gala Benefit at Sequoyah Country Club, 4550 Heafey Rd., Oakland. For ticket information call 978-0002. www.reelkidsfilms.com 

Integral Transformative Practice Workshop Sat. and Sun. at the Northbrae Community Church, 941 The Alameda. Cost is $125. For reservations call 415-927-0913.  

Living More With Less, A day of conversation about living simpler, slower and smaller from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at First Congregational Church of Oakland, 2501 Harrison St. Cost is $12-$15. 548-2220, ext. 233.  

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


Small Press Distribution Spring Open House from noon to 4 p.m. at 1341 Seventh St., off Gilman, with books, entertainment and guest of honor Andrei Cogrescu. 524-1668. www.spdbooks.org 

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.  

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. 

Kol Hadash Passover Seder at 6 p.m. at the Albany Community Center. Reservations required. 925-254-0609. greensu@comcast.net  


Berkeley Architectural Heritage Spring House Tour of Panoramic Hill from 1 to 5 p.m. Cost is $25-$30. For details and reservations call 841-2242. www.berkeleyheritage.com 

May Day Workers’ Party with the Network of Bay Area Worker Co-ops. Music, dancing, food and activities for children at noon at the Tinkers Workshop at Aquatic Park. 452-1912. mayday@designaction.org 

Miller/Knox Shoreline Hike to learn the history of Rancho San Pablo. Meet at 10 a.m. in the first parking lot off Dornan Drive near Pt. Richmond. 525-2233. 

Build It Green Home Tour from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. covering homes that have been built or remodeled green. 614-1699. www.buildgreennow.org 

Elmwood Spring Clean Up Day Meet at 10 a.m in front of the Elmwood Theater, 2966 College Ave. to weed, plant flowers, paint out graffiti, and enjoy our neighborhood. 290-9036. 

Crowden Music Center’s Anniversary Gala at 5 p.m. in the Rotunda, 300 Frank Ogawa Plaza, Oakland. Honoring Robert Cole and Susan Muscarella. Tickets are $200. 559-6910. www.crowdenmusiccenter.org  

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

Tibetan Buddhism with Jack Petranker on “Mind in Nature” at 6 p.m. at the Tibetan Nyingma Institute, 1815 Highland Pl. 843-6812. www.nyingmainstitute.com 

May Day Maimouna with Achi ben Shalom at 3 p.m. at 2746 College Ave. 843-3131.  


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.  

“History of Local Creek Restoration” A slide show sponsored by Friends of Five Creeks in obeservation of California Watersheds Month, at 7 p.m. at Albany Community Center, 1249 Marin Ave. 848 9358. www.fivecreeks.org 

National Organization for Women, Oakland East Bay Chapter, meets at 6 p.m. at 1515 Webster St. Renee Walker will discuss Abstinence-Only Education in Bay Area Public Schools. 287-8948. 

Iraq War Veteran and Resister Camilo Mejia speaks at 7 p.m. at First Congregational Church of Oakland, 2501 Harrison St. at 27th. Tickets are $5 - $15 sliding scale, no one turned away. Benefits Veterans for Peace. 415-255-7331. www.veteransforpeace.org 

World Affairs/Politics Discussion Group for people 60 years and over meets at 10:15 a.m. at the Albany Senior Center, 846 Masonic Ave. 524-9122. 

Berkeley CopWatch organizational meeting at 8 p.m. at 2022 Blake St. 548-0425. 

Trivia Cafe at 6:30 p.m. at Ristorante Raphael 2132 Center St. 644-9500. 


Mid-Day Meander on favorite trails for bird songs, ferns and flowers. Meet at 2:30 p.m. at Tilden Nature Area. 525-2233. 

Bird Walk at 3:30 p.m. at Martin Luther King Jr. Shoreline to to try to find the elusive Burrowing Owl. 525-2233. 

Community Budget Workshop with City staff on the two-year City budget cycle which begins July 1, at 7 p.m. at the North Berkeley Senior Center. Co-sponsored by the League of Women Voters. 981-7004.  

Alvaro Vargas Llosa on “Liberty for Latin America” at 6:30 p.m. at the Independent Institute, 100 Swan Way, Oakland. Tickets are $10-$35. For rservations call 632-1366. 

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

“Osteoporosis: Learn the Facts” with at 7 p.m. at El Cerrito Library, 6510 Stockton Ave. Free. 526-7512.  

Berkeley Salon Discussion Group meets to discuss dreams from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Berkeley Richmond Jewish Community Center, 1414 Walnut St. Please bring snacks and soft drinks to share. No peanuts please. 601-6690.     

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 

Family Storytime at 7 p.m. at Kensington Library, 61 Arlington Ave. 524-3043. 

Sing-A-Long every Tues. from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. at the Albany Senior Center, 846 Masonic. All ages welcome. 524-9122. 

Brainstormer Weekly Pub Quiz every Tuesday from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. at Pyramid Alehouse Brewery, 901 Gilman St. 528-9880. 

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

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


Tilden Tots Join a nature adventure program for 3 and 4 year olds, each accompanied by an adult (grandparents welcome)! We’ll explore the nature area ponds from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Cost is $6-$8. Registration required. 636-1684. 

Bilingual CPR Skills Workshop at 11 a.m. at Habitot, 2065 Kittredge St. Cost is $5-$6. 647-1111. www.habitot.org 

“The Nation’s Growing Fiscal Imbalance: Perspectives and Issues” with David M. Walker Comptroller General of the U.S. at 5 p.m. at Andersen Auditorium, Haas School of Business, UC Campus. 642-4670. http://gspp.berkeley.edu/  

“The Impact of the Central American Free Trade Agreement” with Eduardo Stein, VIce President of the Republic of Guatemala, at 4 p.m. in the Howar Room, Faculty Club, UC Campus. 642-2088. www.clas.berkeley.edu 

Red Cross Blood Services Volunteer Orientation at 10 a.m. at 6230 Claremont Ave., Oakland. Advance sign-up needed 594-5165. 

Circle K’s 25th Blood Drive with American Red Cross from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Thurs. from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Pauley Ballroom, UC Campus.  

Healing Ourselves and the World through movement, visualization, artwork and writing from 7 to 9 p.m. at 6536 Telegraph Ave. Cost is $15-25 sliding scale. 286-7915. 

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

Berkeley School Volunteers Workshop for volunteers interested in helping in Berkeley Public Schools at 4 p.m. at 1835 Allston Way. 644-8833. 

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

Sing-Along every Wed. at 4:30 p.m. at the Albany Library, 1247 Marin Ave. 526-3720, ext. 17. 

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

Fresh Produce Stand at San Pablo Park from 3 to 6:30 p.m. in the Frances Albrier Community Center. 848-1704. www.ecologycenter.org 

Berkeley Peace Walk and Vigil corner of Shattuck and Center at 6:30 p.m. www.geocities.com/vigil4peace/vigil 


Very Early Morning Bird Walk to hear the morning chorus. Meet at 5:30 a.m. at the Tilden Nature Area. 525-2233. 

Tilden Tots Join a nature adventure program for 3 and 4 year olds, each accompanied by an adult (grandparents welcome)! We’ll explore the nature area ponds from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Cost is $6-$8. Registration required. 636-1684. 

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

“Aging in America: The Years Ahead” a documentary with the director, Julie Winokur, in person at 1:30 p.m. at the Albany Library, 1247 Marin Ave. 526-3720. 

Holocaust Remembrance Day with Dr. Tirza True Latimer at 6:30 p.m. at Judah L. Magnes Museum, 2911 Russell St. Cost is $4-$6. 549-6950. www.magnes.org 

Running Your Car on Ethanol with David Blume at 7 p.m. at the Ecology Center, 2530 San Pablo Ave. Cost is $5-$25 sliding scale. 548-2220, ext. 233. 

East Bay Mac User Group meets from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Expression Center for New Media, 6601 Shellmound St.  



Cross County Hybrid Car Rally May 9 to May 14, starting from Art’s Automotive, 2871 San Pablo Ave. to Saratoga Springs, New York. Art’s Automotive will verify tire pressure, hand out special logs to record your progress and place a special seal on your gas tank cover. At certain checkpoints your fuel mileage will be recorded before you refill your tank. You can chose any route you want as long as you arrive no later than noon May 14th in Saratoga Springs. Sponsored by the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association and Autocareers.org Details available at the website www.TourdeSol.org  


Creeks Task Force meets Mon. May 2, at 7 p.m. at the North Berkeley Senior Center. Erin Dando, 981-7410. www.ci. 


Council Agenda Committee meets Mon., May 2, at 2:30 p.m., at 2180 Milvia St. 981-6900. 



Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board meets Mon. May 2, at 7 p.m. in City Council Chambers, Pam Wyche, 644-6128 ext. 113. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/rent 

Peace and Justice Commission meets Mon., May 2 at 7 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center. Manuel Hector, 981-5510. www. 


Youth Commission meets Mon., May 2, at 6:30 p.m., at 1730 Oregon St. Philip Harper-Cotton, 981-6670. www.ci.ber- 


Community Environmental Advisory Commission meets Thurs., May 5, at 7 p.m., at 2118 Milvia St. Nabil Al-Hadithy, 981-7461. www.ci.ber 


Housing Advisory Commission meets Thurs., May 5 at 7:30 p.m., at the South Berkeley Senior Center. Oscar Sung, 981-5400. www.ci.berkeley.ca. 


Public Works Commission meets Thurs., May 5, at 7 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center. Jeff Egeberg, 981-6406. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/commissions/publicworksª



Next Stop for BART: Parking Fees? By MATTHEW ARTZ

Tuesday May 03, 2005

Facing a $30 million deficit, BART is considering charging passengers up to $5 a day for parking, and the stations most likely to see parking fees are in Berkeley and Oakland. 

Last week the BART Board of Directors debated several parking fee proposals. One would charge fees at all of its lots. Another would only charge for parking at six lots, all located in Berkeley and Oakland: Ashby, North Berkeley, West Oakland, Rockridge, MacArthur and Lake Merritt. The board is also considering raising fees up to 15 cents a ride and scaling back senior and student discounts. 

BART General Manager Tom Margro said BART proposed charging for parking at the six lots because they were typically filled to capacity and the Berkeley City Council last year voted unanimously in favor of parking fees at BART stations in Berkeley. 

BART board member Bob Franklin, who represents part of Berkeley and supports parking fees, said the fee would open up more spaces for BART riders and make BART fares more equitable. Currently, he said, maintenance of each parking space costs BART about $1 a day. Most of the money for parking lot maintenance comes from fares paid by all passengers regardless of whether they park at BART or not. 

“Basically it’s an unfair subsidy given to drivers,” he said. Franklin also said that if parking fees are collected motorists who don’t use BART will be less likely to park in BART lots. 

The City Council has another incentive to encourage parking fees at Berkeley BART lots. The city contends that public agencies like BART and UC Berkeley are subject to the city’s ten percent parking tax. With 1,437 parking spaces in Berkeley, if BART charged $2 per space, Berkeley could net about $80,000 a year. 

However, like UC Berkeley, BART has disagreed with the city’s position. When Oakland asked BART to collect city parking taxes, BART lawyers argued that the agency was exempt from the tax, according to Carter Mau, BART’s manager of customer access.  

Franklin said he expected the board to pass parking fees of between $1 and $2 dollars for the Berkeley and Oakland stations, with a higher fee for West Oakland, where private parking garages charge $6 for daily parking. Currently BART charges $2 a day to park at Colma and Daly City and 25 cents to park at Lake Merritt. 

BART’s deficit stems mainly from falling revenues and increasing costs, Margro said. While sales tax revenues and ridership (BART’s two sources of income) have dropped over the past five years, employee salaries and benefits have increased. BART currently serves an average of 310,00 riders every weekday, down from 335,000 in 2001, Margro said. Adding to BART’s financial troubles, the agency has a $25 million unfunded liability for retiree medical benefits, he added. 

Enacting the maximum parking and fare hikes would generate about $4 million for the agency. To make up more of the shortfall, Margro has proposed cutting 115 positions, half of which are already vacant, he said. 

The board has until the end of June to pass a budget for the 2006 fiscal year, which begins July 1. Franklin said he expects the board to vote on a parking fee at its June 8 meeting.  

BART is not required to run a balanced budget. It last approved a budget with a deficit in 1995. Last year, BART closed a $40 million deficit with fare increases, budget cuts and the use of money that had been earmarked for capital projects. Previously the board approved a 3.7 percent fare increase set to go into effect in January. It will be the agency’s third fare increase since 2001.›

Editorial: Electing a Pig in a Poke By BECKY O'MALLEY

Friday April 29, 2005

The central political question at this point in time is not what to do when your candidate loses elections—it’s what to do when your candidate wins. 

Case in point: probably very few of the voters who pulled the lever or punched the card or pressed the button for two worthwhile Democratic congressmen, George Miller and Ron Dellums, understood that their votes were contributing in a significant way to the expansion of organized gambling in Northern California. And yet, Miller, an otherwise excellent legislator, sponsored the shady deal with an obscure tribe which fast-tracked the San Pablo casino, which Diane Feinstein and others are now trying to reverse.  

Dellums sponsored the bill which delivered Point Molate, a regional resource which was formerly a navy base, into the hands of the desperately needy Richmond city council, and thence to the hands of casino developer Jim Levine, a big-time contributor both to Dellums’ hand-picked successor Barbara Lee and the Republican National Committee.  

It’s possible that none of these three fine liberals, Miller, Dellums and Lee, understood the full implications of what was going on with these casinos. Or perhaps they did, and didn’t care, or even approved. But it’s certainly true that Democratic voters up and down the East Bay were not told when they voted for these three that they were voting for more and bigger casinos. Some voters undoubtedly would like more and bigger casinos, but many wouldn’t.  

And how about those who voted for the Oakland school board? See the UnderCurrents column, this issue, for details about what they didn’t know and when they didn’t know it. 

Did the Albany voters for its current leaders realize they might be voting to turn Golden Gate Fields into an enormous themed mega-mall? Maybe not. Do they know it now? 

Did El Cerrito voters know that they were voting support of a utility tax on solar power? I don’t think so, and the courts subsequently agreed. 

Closer to home, did the Berkeley progressives who organized the “draft Tom Bates” campaign three years ago realize they were getting a guy who would do everything he could to grease the skids for big developers? Did they intend to vote for a mayor who would enthusiastically orchestrate gutting the ordinance which has protected our historic resources for more than 25 years? (Department of Self-Defense: I took part in the original draft meetings myself, before I rejoined the ranks of the press. However, I was saved from the ignominy of having attended the “Coronation Convention,” at which the last act of the draft-Tom drama played out, by the birth of my granddaughter in San Francisco.)  

Are many Berkeley progressive or just plain liberal voters watching the City Council meetings often enough to figure out that deliberation has gone out the door? These days, the mayor presides over the meetings in a slap-dash fashion that completely ignores rules of order, both Roberts’ and the council’s own rules, in the interest of speedily rubber-stamping decisions made elsewhere so that Berkeley’s elders can get home to bed. What old-time radicals used to call “the interests” are catered to; needy citizens take second place. Don’t believe me? Watch the proceeding on cable TV or the Internet. 

Case in point: on Tuesday two public hearings were scheduled for the Berkeley City Council. First on the agenda was the hearing on the allocation of public funds to Berkeley’s struggling non-profits. More than two hundred people showed up for this hearing. Second on the schedule was the pro-forma hearing at which the Planning Department advanced its air-tight advocacy for overturning the Landmark Preservation Commission’s designation of the building which houses Celia’s Restaurant as a historic resource. Between five and 10 people were there for this one. 

Now, I yield to no one in my belief that it’s important to consider carefully which historic buildings will be sacrificed to development sites. I know that the company which wants to build on the University Avenue site did an excellent job of working the corporate media to present their case, which put pressure on Berkeley’s Planning Department and City Council to act quickly in their behalf. I am well aware that Berkeley’s preservation proponents who were there to argue the other side are volunteers, with day jobs and families.  

But still, it was wrong, very wrong, for the mayor to insist, and most of the council to agree, that the Celia’s matter should be taken up first on the agenda. This meant that the 200 workers and clients from the non-profits had to sit through 45 minutes of someone else’s public hearing before they had their chance to speak. There could be no clearer demonstration of the priorities of the current mayor and his council allies from all three parties: ex-mods, ex-progs and dead armadillos alike. Yet I don’t think that the majority of Berkeley voters would agree that putting buildings before people is the right thing to do. 

The next Berkeley election is about a year and a half away. Now, not a year from now, is the time for Berkeleyans (and residents of other East Bay cities) to be seeking out and persuading people to run for office who are genuinely committed to acting in the public interest. In the last Berkeley election councilmembers Spring and Worthington spearheaded the ill-fated draft effort. They continue to speak consistently on behalf of all citizens—homeowners, renters and homeless—as well as for protection of Berkeley’s environment, both built and natural. Berkeley knows who they are and what they stand for. This time one of them should be talked into running.  


Berkeley This Week

Tuesday May 03, 2005


Mid-Day Meander on favorite trails for bird songs, ferns and flowers. Meet at 2:30 p.m. at Tilden Nature Area. 525-2233. 

Bird Walk at 3:30 p.m. at Martin Luther King Jr. Shoreline to to try to find the elusive Burrowing Owl. 525-2233. 

Community Budget Workshop with City staff on the two-year City budget cycle which begins July 1, at 7 p.m. at the North Berkeley Senior Center. Co-sponsored by the League of Women Voters. 981-7004.  

Alvaro Vargas Llosa on “Liberty for Latin America” at 6:30 p.m. at the Independent Institute, 100 Swan Way, Oakland. Tickets are $10-$35. For rservations call 632-1366. 

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

“Osteoporosis: Learn the Facts” with at 7 p.m. at El Cerrito Library, 6510 Stockton Ave. Free. 526-7512.  

Berkeley Salon Discussion Group meets to discuss dreams 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.     

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 

Family Storytime at 7 p.m. at Kensington Library, 61 Arlington Ave. 524-3043. 

Sing-A-Long every Tues. from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. at the Albany Senior Center, 846 Masonic. All ages welcome. 524-9122. 

Brainstormer Weekly Pub Quiz every Tuesday from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. at Pyramid Alehouse Brewery, 901 Gilman St. 528-9880. 

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

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


Tilden Tots Join a nature adventure program for 3 and 4 year olds, each accompanied by an adult (grandparents welcome)! We’ll explore the nature area ponds from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Cost is $6-$8. Registration required. 636-1684. 

Bilingual CPR Skills Workshop at 11 a.m. at Habitot, 2065 Kittredge St. Cost is $5-$6. 647-1111. www.habitot.org 

Walking Tour of Old Oakland around the restored 1870s business district. Meet at 10 a.m. in front of G.B. Ratto’s at 827 Washington St. Tour lasts 90 minutes. Reservations can be made by calling 238-3234. 

“The Nation’s Growing Fiscal Imbalance: Perspectives and Issues” with David M. Walker Comptroller General of the U.S. at 5 p.m. at Andersen Auditorium, Haas School of Business, UC Campus. 642-4670. http://gspp.berkeley.edu/  

“The Impact of the Central American Free Trade Agreement” with Eduardo Stein, VIce President of the Republic of Guatemala, at 4 p.m. in the Howard Room, Men’s Faculty Club, UC Campus. 642-2088. www.clas.berkeley.edu 

Circle K’s 25th Blood Drive with American Red Cross from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Thurs. from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Pauley Ballroom, UC Campus.  


Red Cross Blood Services Volunteer Orientation at 10 a.m. at 6230 Claremont Ave., Oakland. Advance sign-up needed 594-5165. 

Healing Ourselves and the World through movement, visualization, artwork and writing from 7 to 9 p.m. at 6536 Telegraph Ave. Cost is $15-25 sliding scale. 286-7915. 

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

Berkeley School Volunteers Workshop for volunteers interested in helping in Berkeley Public Schools at 4 p.m. at 1835 Allston Way. 644-8833. 

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

Sing-Along every Wed. at 4:30 p.m. at the Albany Library, 1247 Marin Ave. 526-3720, ext. 17. 

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

Fresh Produce Stand at San Pablo Park from 3 to 6:30 p.m. in the Frances Albrier Community Center. 848-1704. www.ecologycenter.org 

Berkeley Peace Walk and Vigil corner of Shattuck and Center at 6:30 p.m. www.geocities.com/vigil4peace/vigil 


Very Early Morning Bird Walk to hear the morning chorus. Meet at 5:30 a.m. at the Tilden Nature Area. 525-2233. 

Tilden Tots Join a nature adventure program for 3 and 4 year olds, each accompanied by an adult (grandparents welcome)! We’ll explore the nature area ponds from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Cost is $6-$8. Registration required. 636-1684. 

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

“The Muslim World: Objects of Empire: Iraq, Palestine, Afghanistan, Oil, Globalization, Torture, Human Rights, Democracy and Civilization” with Dr. Hatem Bazian, Near Eastern and Ethnic Studies, UCB, at 7 p.m. at 145 Dwinelle Hall, UC Campus. 

Holocaust Remembrance Day with Dr. Tirza True Latimer at 6:30 p.m. at Judah L. Magnes Museum, 2911 Russell St. Cost is $4-$6. 549-6950. www.magnes.org 

“Aging in America: The Years Ahead” a documentary with the director, Julie Winokur, in person at 1:30 p.m. at the Albany Library, 1247 Marin Ave. 526-3720. 

Running Your Car on Ethanol with David Blume at 7 p.m. at the Ecology Center, 2530 San Pablo Ave. Cost is $5-$25 sliding scale. 548-2220, ext. 233. 

East Bay Mac User Group meets from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Expression Center for New Media, 6601 Shellmound St.  



Holocaust Rememberance Day at noon at 2134 Martin Luther King Jr Way, featuring author Liz Rosner, Holocaust survivor Dora Sorrel, 2nd generation daughter Lisa Klug, and Patricia Whaley, viola, and Lola Fraknoi. 981-7170. 

Spring Plant Sale at The Edible Schoolyard with vegetables, flowers and perennials grown by the students of King Middle School. Fri. from 3:30 to 6 p.m. and Sat. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 1781 Rose St. 558-1335.  

“The Ambassador” The documentary on John Negroponte, new Director of National Intelligence, and his alleged complicity in human rights abuses in Central America, at 7:30 p.m. at St. Joseph the Worker Church, 1640 Addison St. Donations accepted. 482-1062. 

“Rights, Liberties, and the Rules of Engagement“ The 9th Annual Travers Ethics Conference from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Lipman Room, 8th floor, Barrows Hall, UC Campus. Keynote Address “A New Paradigm for Confronting Terrorism” by Morton Halperin, Open Society Institute, at 11:15 a.m. http://ethics.berkeley.edu 

May Friendship Day at 9:30 a.m. at Berkeley Methodist United Church, 1710 Carleton St. Potluck lunch, following the program “Living in the Light: True Friends Are Salt and Light.” Sponsored by Church Women United, Berkeley-Albany Unit. 525-3284. 

The Deeksha Project Concentration Workshop at 7 p.m. at a West Berkeley location. Donations requested. For reservations and details call 453-0606. 

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

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 


Sick Plant Clinic UC plant pathologist Dr. Robert Raabe, UC entomologist Dr. Nick Mills, and their team of experts will diagnose what ails your plants from 9 a.m. to noon at the UC Botanical Garden, 200 Centennial Dr. 643-2755.  

Work in the Garden at Tilden Nature Area from 2 to 4 p.m. Learn to identify local butterfly species as we prepare the garden for warmer weather. Bring gloves, or call if you need them. 525-2233. 

Edible Landscaping and Food Forests A visit to Wildheart Gardens, 463 61St. at Telegraph at 10 a.m. Cost is $10-$15, no one turned away. 548-2220, ext. 233. 

“Superior Performers for Summer-Dry Climates” with Susan Handjian and Chris Finch, water conservation horticulture specialists at 10 a.m. at the Botanic Garden, Tilden Park. 444-7645. www.bayfriendly.org 

Walking Tour of the Garden of Old Roses from 1 to 3 p.m. at the UC Botanical Garden, 200 Centennial Drive. Cost is $8-$12. 643-2755. http://botanicalgarden.berkeley.edu 

Walking Tour of Oakland Chinatown Meet at 10 a.m. at the courtyard fountain in the Pacific Renaissance Plaza at 388 Ninth St. Tour lasts 90 minutes. Reservations can be made by calling 238-3234. www.oaklandnet.com/wallkingtours 

“Water: The Next Crisis” with Laura Santina at 10 a.m. at the Berkeley Gray Panthers Office, 1403 Addison St. 548-9696. 

“Inside Out” Street Fair on Telegraph Ave. between Parker and Bancroft. 

Progressive Democrats of America East Bay Chapter meets at 1 p.m. at Temescal Library, 5205 Telegraph Ave., Oakland. Panel discussion on the Health Care for All Californians Bill. 526-4632. 

East Bay Atheists meets from 2 to 5 p.m. with Dr. Marlene Winell on the process of recovering from religious fundamentalism at Berkeley’s Central Library, 2090 Kittredge St., 3rd floor Meeting Room. 222-7580. eastbayatheists.org 

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.  

Free Emergency Preparedness Class in Fire Supression from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. 997 Cedar St., between 8th and 9th. To sign up call 981-5605. www.ci.berkeley. 


The Crucible’s Gala and Art Auction, with opera, fire dancing and fire sculptures at 6 p.m. in the Oakland Rotunda Bldg, Frank Ogawa Plaza. 444-0919. www.thecrucible.org 

“The Flute Player” a documentary about a young man who returns to Cambodia to confront his past as a child-soldier in the Khmer-Rouge army. At 1 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley in Kensington. Donation $7. 525-0302.  

YWCA Dance Performance with flamenco, bellydance, HipHop and more at 7 p.m. at 2600 Bancroft Way at Bowditch. 848-6370. 

Berkeley Potters Guild Annual Spring Show Sat. and Sun. from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at 731 Jones St. 524-7031. www.berkeleypotters.com 

Child Safety While Travelling at 11 a.m. at Habitot, 2065 Kittredge St. Cost is $5-$6. 647-1111. www.habitot.org 

Georgeva’s 30th Annual Mother’s Day Fashion Show at 6 p.m. at Best Western Inn, 920 University Ave. Tickets are $35-$50 at the door. www.georgeva.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. 


Mother's Day Pancake Breakfast on board The Red Oak Victory Ship in Richmond Harbor, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Cost is $6, children free. Take HY 580 towards San Rafael and exit at Canal Blvd., turn left and follow the signs to the ship. 237-2933. 

Mother’s Day Pond Plunge Discover the denizens of the deep with dip-nets and magnifiers from at 10:30 a.m. to noon at Tilden Nature Area, Tilden Park. For ages 4 and up. Dress to get dirty and wet. 525-2233. 

Unselt Lecture: “The Brain on Plants” a lecture on medicinal plants with Dr. David Presti at 2 p.m. at UC Botanical Garden, 200 Centennial Drive. Free, but registration required. 643-2755. http://botanicalgarden.berkeley.edu 

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 


“Native American Spirituality and Healing Practices” with Hank “Waabeza” Adams at 9:30 a.m. at Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley, 1 Lawson Rd., Kensington. 525-0302. 

“Sacred Body, Sacred Landscapes” a chanting and movement workshop at 5 p.m. at Belladonna, 2436 Sacramento St. Cost is $8-$12. 883-0600. 

Tibetan Buddhism with Robin Caton on “Why Meditate?” at 6 p.m. at the Tibetan Nyingma Institute, 1815 Highland Pl. 843-6812. www.nyingmainstitute.com 


Musical Concert and Sing-A-Long at 1:30 p.m. at the North Berkeley Senior Center. Everyone welcome. 981-5190.  

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.  

Elderhostel Program with Ann White at 7 p.m. at the Kensington Library, 61 Arlington Ave., Kensington. Sponsored by the Friends of the Kensington Library. 524-3043.  

Home Buyer Assistance Information Session at 6 p.m. at 1504 Franklin St., Oakland. Sponsored by the Home Buyer Assistance Center. Reservations required. 832-6925, ext. 100. www.hbac.org 

World Affairs/Politics Discussion Group for people 60 years and over meets Mondays at 10:15 a.m. at the Albany Senior Center, 846 Masonic Ave. Cost is $2.50 with refreshments. 524-9122. 

Berkeley CopWatch organizational meeting at 8 p.m. at 2022 Blake St. 548-0425. 


Morning Bird Walk Meet at 7 am. opposite the Pony Ride, Tilden Park, for a walk up the Gorge Trail. 525-2233. 

Bird Walk along the Martin Luther King Shoreline to see the Clapper Rails and the elusive Burrowing Owl at 3:30 p.m. 525-2233. 

Mother’s Day Celebration with George Rider and Scrumbly from Stagebridge at 1:15 p.m. at North Berkeley Senior Center. 

“The Continuing Battle to Restore the San Joaquin River” with Hamilton Candee, senior attorney at National Resources Defense Council at 5:30 p.m. in 105 North Gate Hall, UC Campus. Sponsored by the Water Resources Center Archives. 642-2666. 

Discover the Benefits of Hiking Poles A lecture and demonstration with Jayah Faye Paley at 7 p.m. at REI, 1338 San Pablo Ave. 527-4140. 

Israel Memorial Day at 7:30 p.m. at the BRJCC, 1414 Walnut St. 848-0237. www.brjcc.org 

“Praises for the World” film of the concerts in Oakland in March and Nov. 2003 at 7 p.m. at Belladonna, 2436 Sacramento St. 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 

“Just the Flax and Booster Foods” a free nutrition lecture by Ed Bauman, Director of Bauman College, at 5:30 p.m. at Pharmaca Integrative Pharmacy, 1744 Solano Ave. 527-8929. 

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 

Family Storytime at 7 p.m. at Kensington Library, 61 Arlington Ave. 524-3043. 

Berkeley Camera Club meets at 7:30 p.m., at the Northbrae Community Church, 941 The Alameda. Share your digital images, slides and prints and learn what other photographers are doing. 548-3991. www.berkeleycameraclub.org 

Sing-A-Long every Tues. from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. at the Albany Senior Center, 846 Masonic. All ages welcome. 524-9122. 

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


Cross County Hybrid Car Rally May 9 to May 14, starting from Art’s Automotive, 2871 San Pablo Ave. to Saratoga Springs, New York. Art’s Automotive will verify tire pressure, hand out special logs to record your progress and place a special seal on your gas tank cover. At certain checkpoints your fuel mileage will be recorded before you refill your tank. You can chose any route you want as long as you arrive no later than noon May 14th in Saratoga Springs. Sponsored by the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association and Autocareers.org Details available at the website www.TourdeSol.org  

Bike Chain Response is organizing an interfaith bike ride from the Nevada Test Site to Los Alamos National Laboratory, June 19 to July 17, to raise awareness of alternative modes of transportation and the tragedy of the nuclear weapons industry. 505-870-2-ASK. www.lovarchy.org/ride/ 


Community Environmental Advisory Commission meets Thurs., May 5, at 7 p.m., at 2118 Milvia St. Nabil Al-Hadithy, 981-7461. www.ci.ber 


Housing Advisory Commission meets Thurs., May 5 at 7:30 p.m., at the South Berkeley Senior Center. Oscar Sung, 981-5400. www.ci.berkeley.ca. 


Public Works Commission meets Thurs., May 5, at 7 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center. Jeff Egeberg, 981-6406. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/commissions/publicworks 

Council Agenda Committee meets Mon., May 9, at 2:30 p.m., at 2180 Milvia St. 981-6900. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/city 


Landmarks Preservation Commission meets Mon., May 9, at 7:30 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center. Gisele Sorensen, 981-7419. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/commissions/landmarks