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Jakob Schiller:LeConte Elementary School Principal Patricia Saddler helps funnel students out of class and onto their busses after school Monday afternoon while Iris Privitte, a third-grader at LeConte, gives third and fourth grade teacher Maria Carriedo a hug..
Jakob Schiller:LeConte Elementary School Principal Patricia Saddler helps funnel students out of class and onto their busses after school Monday afternoon while Iris Privitte, a third-grader at LeConte, gives third and fourth grade teacher Maria Carriedo a hug..


LeConte Principal Switches to Rosa Parks By J. DOUGLAS ALLEN-TAYLOR

Tuesday May 10, 2005

Last week, Berkeley Unified School District produced one of those math brain teasers during this spring’s overhaul of its principal corps. Question: if Berkeley Unified has three elementary school principal slots to fill—at Rosa Parks, Oxford, and John Muir—and fills one of them, how many elementary school principal slots does the district have to fill? Answer: three. 

The math works because the principal position at Rosa Parks was filled by the voluntary transfer of six-year LeConte principal Patricia Saddler late last month, opening up the LeConte principal position. 

“The Rosa Parks community is very excited about it,” said BUSD Public Information Officer Mark Coplan. “The LeConte community is understandably upset.” 

The Saddler transfer left district officials scrambling to put together a LeConte parent interview team to assist in the evaluation of principal candidates, with parents complaining that they were given only two business days notice between the time they were notified of Saddler’s departure to the time a meeting had to be held to choose parent representatives for the interview team. Between 30 and 40 parents attended the LeConte meeting last Monday. 

LeConte parents will be represented on the interview team by one member apiece of four school-based organizations: the School Site Council, the Berkeley School Excellence Program (BSEP) committee, the PTA, and the English Learner Advisory Committee. 

LeConte School Site Council Co-Chair Jenny Lipow, who is not on the interview team at her own request, said that “the process could have been done with a little more sensitivity so there wasn’t so much angst. They should have let us know sooner that this was being considered.” 

Lipow called the late notice “the same old same old in this district; it’s an example of [Superintendent] Michele Lawrence’s high-handedness.” 

Lipow said she was “sure this will all work out okay, so long as the superintendent is held accountable. So far in her time as superintendent, she hasn’t been.” 

Saddler said she decided to take the Rosa Parks job both because “I’m interested in taking on a new challenge” and “after six years, it’s time for a change.” 

Even as she finishes out the school year at LeConte her work at Rosa Parks has already begun. On Monday night she was scheduled to be introduced to Rosa Parks parents, and she has scheduled a series of meetings over the next few weeks with outgoing Parks principal Shirley Herrera. She will also meet with a leadership team from Rosa Parks on the first of June to review school data and to learn their priorities. 

Saddler says she is leaving LeConte with mixed feelings. 

“I think we accomplished a lot in the past six years,” she said. 

Saddler cited the implementation of LeConte’s dual language program (“over some significant opposition”) as well as enhancing the school’s farm and garden program as two of her major accomplishments at LeConte. 

Meanwhile, on Monday, three separate teams made up of parents, teachers, and support staff from Oxford, John Muir, and now LeConte will interview nine principal finalists at the BUSD administration offices at Old City Hall. Coplan said that the final decision will be made by Lawrence, and said the principal selected for the individual schools will not necessarily be the candidates interviewed by the individual school teams. 

“She wants to make sure that the principal chosen is the right fit for each school situation,” Coplan said. 

He added that the decision was made to approve Saddler’s voluntary transfer to Rosa Parks “because the district believes LeConte is in a position to do good education work with a good principal, but Rosa Parks needs a great principal to bring its educational standards up. Pat Saddler is a great principal, and we believe that the pool of applicants is good enough that we can get a good replacement for her at LeConte.” 

In addition to the three elementary school principal posts, the district must fill principal positions opening up at Willard Middle and Berkeley Alternative High School.

Rumors of City-UC Deal on Long Range Plan By MATTHEW ARTZ

Tuesday May 10, 2005

The City Council has approved the framework of a settlement that would resolve its legal dispute with UC Berkeley, councilmembers said Friday. 

Although the exact deal has not been revealed or submitted to a formal vote, Councilmember Dona Spring intimated that the council had agreed in principle to a plan whereby the university would pay somewhat more each year for city services like sewer fees in return for the city’s dropping a lawsuit it filed against the university’s 15-year development plan. 

Spring, who opposes the deal, hinted that the university had not budged from its offer last January to pay the city approximately $1.2 million annually for city services. According to UC Berkeley’s Director of Community Relations Irene Hegarty, the university paid the city $542,000 this year for a variety of services. 

Berkeley’s town-gown dispute has intensified recently. In February the city filed suit over UC Berkeley’s Long Range Development Plan, arguing that it lacked sufficient detail and gave the university a green light for a building boom that would further drain city services. 

Then in March, Berkeley demanded that the university pay the city’s tax on parking spaces, and two weeks ago, the council voted to send the university a $2.2 million sewer bill if a deal was not reached. 

According to Spring, the proposed deal would end all of these disputes and it would also include new land use standards for areas close to campus, including her own council district, which she found particularly objectionable and blamed on Mayor Tom Bates.  

“I feel the mayor is negotiating out of what his pro-development agenda is around the campus,” she said. 

Spring said she was prohibited from detailing the specifics of the framework because it was presented during a closed session meeting of the City Council two weeks ago, but chastised her colleagues for approving it out of the public’s view. 

“It’s way out of line to make planning policies as part of a backroom deal,” she said. 

Mayor Bates declined to comment on negotiations. 

Tom Lollini, the university’s assistant vice chancellor for physical and environmental planning, who has been a party to negotiations, also refused comment. He did say that he had not been aware of the council’s vote in closed session. 

According to Hegarty, negotiations have been handled by attorneys and staff members for each side, with no councilmembers present. 

UC officials have previously said that Berkeley had sought between $3 and $5 million a year from the university in return for city services. Last year, the city released a report, rejected by university officials, that concluded UC Berkeley cost the city roughly $10.9 million a year in unpaid services and lost tax revenue. With city deficits mounting, Berkeley officials had sought to help close budget shortfalls by winning concessions from the university. 

“In this deal, we’re making concessions, both in terms of financial and planning standards, that we should not be making,” Spring said. Joining her in dissent during the closed session meeting, she said, was Councilmember Kriss Worthington. 

Worthington refused to comment on the negotiations. 

On the other side of the aisle, Councilmember Betty Olds said the deal was better than proceeding with a lawsuit. 

“I applaud them for trying to work out their differences,” she said, adding, “The university had the upper hand, we all knew that.” 

As a state institution, UC has maintained that it is exempt from local taxes and assessments.  

Still, Antonio Rossmann, a land use attorney who teaches at Boalt Hall, had said he thought the city had a good chance to prevail in its lawsuit against UC Berkeley’s long range plan. A legal victory would not necessarily have forced the university to scrap its plan to build 2.2 million square feet of new administration space through 2020, but it could have required the university to better remedy city concerns regarding increased traffic congestion and strains on city services. The lawsuit also could have forced UC Berkeley to delay new construction projects. 

Neighborhood leaders, who have pushed for the city to take a hard line against UC Berkeley, slammed the reported deal. 

“If they get nothing more than what UC offered them in January, it’s an embarrassment,” said Jim Sharp of Berkeleyans for a Livable University Environment (BLUE). “This was their big chance to extract concessions. I don’t know how [the council] can face their citizens.” 

Sharp was also upset that the terms approved by the council remain secret. Under the Brown Act, the council is not required to announce the vote taken in closed session unless it is the approval of a final agreement.  

Assuming that the vote in closed session would be communicated to UC, Terry Francke of Californians Aware, a open government advocacy group, questioned why the council wouldn’t release the information to residents. 

“The only reason for secrecy in this situation is to keep the information from getting to the other side,” he said. “If the university already knows about the vote, there is no principled reason to keep it confidential.” 

Peter Scheer, of the First Amendment Coalition, said that the council might have decided to keep the vote secret because they were seeking extra concessions from the university. 

“They could have told their lawyers, we’ve signed, now see if you can do a little better,” he said. “It’s hard [for an attorney] to negotiate when the adversary knows that his client has accepted the deal the way it is.” 

Assistant City Manager Arrietta Chakos said the council had not decided if a vote on a final deal would be made in public with residents allowed to give their opinions. Often for litigation settlements the council announces a vote taken in closed session, but doesn’t debate the issue in public or take public comment. However, Chakos said, in this case the council might adopt a different course. 

“There are any number of routes they could take,” she said. “There has been no decision that I’ve heard about how they wish to proceed.” 

Alta Bates Faces Accreditation Loss By RICHARD BRENNEMAN

Tuesday May 10, 2005

With Alta Bates Summit Medical Center on the brink of losing its accreditation, hospital officials are bracing for a crucial Thursday meeting in Chicago.  

Hospital spokesperson Carolyn Kemp said CEO Warren Kirk, Vice President of Medical Affairs Dr. John Gentile and Director of Quality Merilee Newton and two staff physicians will attend the meeting. 

At issue is accreditation by the Joint Committee on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO), a crucial issue for hospitals and HMOs. JCAHO’s imprimatur is a prerequisite for coverage by many health insurers, said Mark Forstneger of JCAHO. 

Its approval means automatic approval for Medicare and Medicaid coverage, and without it, healthcare organizations must undergo a separate federal review before payments can be authorized, Forstneger said. 

The accreditation woes for Alta Bates were first revealed Nov. 6 when JACHO issued a preliminary denial of accreditation. Among the issues cited were the need to: 

• Obtain informed consent from behavioral health care patients. 

• Assure that patients with comparable needs receive the same standard of treatment, care and services. 

• Ensure safe storage of medications. 

• Ensure that medication orders are clearly written, accurately transcribed and reviewed for appropriateness. 

• Assure that medicines returned to the pharmacy are properly managed. 

• Assure that the hospital responds appropriately to actual or potential medication errors and adverse drug effects. 

• Develop individual treatment plans appropriate to each patient. 

• Create written time frames for conducting individual patient assessments. 

• Assess pain levels for each patient. 

• Restrain patients only on the basis of individual orders or an approved protocol initiated by an individual order. 

• Ensure that restraint and seclusion orders are time-limited. 

• Act to prevent or reduce hospital-caused patient infection rates. 

• Prepare plans for surgical and non-surgical procedures where sedation or anesthetics are used. 

• Maintain complete and accurate medical records for every patient evaluated or treated. 

“We have already had four recommendations removed through e-mails and telephone conversations,” said Kemp, “and we are convinced that when we present the documentation in person Thursday that the rest will be removed.” 

Kemp said she couldn’t say which four had been cleared. 

“We are fully accredited and expect to remain fully accredited,” she said. “For the third year in a row we have had the best outcomes for heart patients in the state, and our rehabilitation program for strokes and other brain injuries has been held up as a model.” 

JCAHO’s Forstneger said preliminary denials such as that issued to last November “are rarely rendered” and not issued lightly. 

He said there are four basic accreditation status the organization can issue, with the first being full accreditation, the second being provisional accreditation (“typically issued when there is a failure to rapidly correct deficiencies”), conditional accreditation (“typically when there are multiple deficiencies”)‚ and outright denial. 

The two intermediate statuses are typically resolved in two to four months, Forstneger said. 

The panel that meets Thursday will feature one JCAHO member, two experts with knowledge of the issues, and—if possible—the official who conducted the initial survey. 

The accreditation troubles occur at a time when Alta Bates Summit is a year into a labor dispute with members of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). Union members, who represent most hospital employees other than registered nurses, have been working without a contract for a year. 

Some 200 union members gathered outside Summit Alta Bates Hospital in Oakland Saturday to protest the impasse in labor negotiations. 

Berkeley City Councilmember Kriss Worthington helped organize a Thursday night meeting attended by four state assemblymembers or their staffs that featured presentations by hospital officials. The other sponsors were Berkeley Grey Panthers and Vote Health. 

“We are very proud of the Thursday night meeting,” said Kemp. “Our leadership and physicians stood up and talked about the high quality of our medical care.” 

Worthington said the gathering was quite impressive. “It was a healthy discussion,” he said. 

The councilmember praised East Bay Assemblywoman Loni Hancock for managing the sometimes heated gathering. 

City Council Considers Funding Energy Bond Project By MATTHEW ARTZ

Tuesday May 10, 2005

Berkeley businesses could be in store for a green revolution if a novel clean energy bond comes to fruition. 

On Tuesday, the City Council will consider a proposal to spend $52,500 for part of the start-up costs towards generating a bond fund valued at around $50 million for clean energy and solar projects for Berkeley and Oakland businesses. 

“It looks like a giant win-win for everybody,” said Mayor Tom Bates, who hopes that the bond could foster green energy use, while bolstering Berkeley businesses that supply the technology.  

However, clean energy bonds do not have a track record of success, and even the plan’s architect acknowledges that there is no guarantee it can line up interested companies, financiers and vendors for the offering, and even if it does, a sudden jump in interest rates or drop in utility prices could undermine the plan. 

Berkeley energy officer Neal De Snoo estimates that if the program is successful Berkeley businesses could add 10 megawatts of clean energy generation, equivalent to the amount of energy needed to power 3,000 homes. 

If the council approves the item, Berkeley won’t allocate the money until Oakland approves $97,500 towards the plan. Oakland Finance Director Bill Nolan said his city was behind Berkeley and that he was still learning about the project. 

Under a financing plan devised by Berkeley-based environmental consulting firm Power Factors Inc., neither city would be on the hook for the bond. 

Power Factors is planning to use the allocations from Berkeley and Oakland to help coalesce businesses interested in clean energy projects and financial institutions willing to back the bond. If the project fails, Berkeley would only stand to lose its initial $52,000, said John Schultheis, of Power Factors. Schultheis estimated the project will cost $450,000 to develop, with Power Factors responsible for raising the remainder of the costs not supplied by Berkeley and Oakland. 

Most Berkeley businesses have not converted to environmentally efficient technologies, De Snoo said, because they are hesitant to pay for the overhead costs. If the bond proposal proved successful bondholders would pay for the energy efficient projects up front, while the companies would pay them back over the term of the bond, he said.  

Also because the fund would bundle between 50 and 100 clean energy projects, De Snoo anticipates that companies would receive discounted prices from vendors and contractors. 

Projects planned for the bond include a combined heat and power system which uses natural gas more efficiently to provide both heat and electricity, efficient lighting and solar power. If the scheme proves successful, De Snoo said, it could be expanded to include homeowners. 

Power Factors’ Schultheis said he has spoken to about 10 interested businesses. If the project goes as planned, he anticipates floating the bond in about 15 months.  

Power Factors, a clean energy consulting firm led by a team of entrepreneurs with a financial stake in solar energy company Solaria, stands to make money in consulting fees to other cities if the bond proves successful. 

Three other jurisdictions—San Francisco, Oahu, and New Mexico—have been involved with clean energy bonds to so far unspectacular results. San Francisco’s $100 million energy bond approved by voters in 2001 has not been funded because of problems with the city’s Hetch Hetchy water district, which was to back the bonds through water revenues. The water district didn’t have a business plan for investors to feel comfortable financing the bonds, said J.P. Ross, deputy director of Vote Solar, a San Francisco-based clean energy group that backed the ballot.  

In Oahu, Hawaii’s biggest Island, Ross said the newly elected mayor of Honolulu opposed the bond and has held it up. “It’s pivotal to have a leader in place to make things happen,” he said. “Our champion in Hawaii went out with the old mayor.” 

The New Mexico bond, passed by the state legislature in March, is too recent to have had tangible results. 

According to Brian Siu, an energy policy analysis with the clean energy advocate Apollo Alliance, the bonds are currently in a test phase. “The success and failures in the next few years will determine their relevance,” he said. 

Schultheis said it was unfair to compare the bond fund envisioned by Power Factors to those approved elsewhere. For one thing, he said, while those bonds were backed with public money and were intended for energy improvements at public buildings, Power Factors intends to back its bonds with private money for improvements to private businesses. 

“If we did everything we could to city buildings in Berkeley and Oakland, that’s just a drop in the bucket given the opportunities to reduce energy usage in those cities,” he said. 

Without public backing, Power Factors has to employ a variety of financing mechanisms, and Schultheis acknowledges he doesn’t know what entity will back the offering. To lure investors, Power Factors is counting on using bond insurance as well as letters of credit from banks to guarantee the offering in case businesses go bankrupt or equipment fails.  

As extra insurance to bondholders, businesses that sign up for the projects will be charged an exit fee if they break the terms of the agreement, Schultheis said. Also for solar projects the bond will bundle available federal and state tax credits to lure private investors looking to write off tax liabilities. 

Insured bonds are a growing part of the bond market, according to Steve Zimmermann, managing director for Standard & Poor’s Western Region. He said the rating agencies grade the bonds based on the rating of either the insurer or the bank providing letters of credit. Most bond insurers are rated AAA, he added, and charge fees to back lower rated offerings. 

Because of the elaborate financing plan, the bond will be more expensive for borrowers than if it had been backed by the city. To make the project feasible, Schultheis said Power Factors has to round up at least $50 million worth of projects before going to investors. 

De Snoo said Power Factors first broached the idea to city officials last year at a meeting of the Sustainable Business Working Group, convened by Mayor Bates. 

“So far it’s checked out,” Bates said, explaining why the city is considering spending $52,000 to launch the plan. “We’re encouraged by what we’ve seen, but we still plan to proceed with a lot of caution.” 

Schultheis said the bond would only fund proven technologies and not include Solaria products, which he said were too experimental for bondholders to be comfortable with them. 

For businesses, the chief risk, besides equipment failure, is if PG&E lowers prices. The bond will be structured so that the annual payment participating businesses make to bondholders is roughly equal to or less than the savings they would realize under current energy prices. If energy prices drop, which historically has not been the case, so does the financial incentives for businesses. 

Another potential risk is if interest rates rise dramatically over the next year while the bond is being prepared. Higher interest rates means higher costs for interested companies, he said. “Anything that increases the cost of finance is not good.”

City Council to Receive Proposed $300 Million Budget By MATTHEW ARTZ

Tuesday May 10, 2005

Required to close an $8.9 million shortfall, city leaders today (Tuesday) are scheduled to present a proposed budget to the City Council at a 5:30 p.m. work session. 

The fiscal year 2006 budget proposal was not available at press time and is not scheduled for council approval until late June.  

When the council convenes its regular 7 p.m. session it will consider proposals to make it less expensive for long-term tenants to buy their homes, for teaching-related home business owners to get a city permit, and to help homeless people recover their impounded vehicles. Also, the council is scheduled to vote on a Precautionary Principle ordinance, a model for making proactive environmentally-sensitive decisions in city purchasing, contracting and other activities. 



With roughly 75 percent of the city’s $300 million budget tied up in employee salaries, the council has little flexibility to tinker with the budget. The big debate appears to be shaping up over how to spend an estimated $4.5 million in unanticipated revenues available for the coming year.  

City Manager Phil Kamlarz has proposed allocating most of the funds towards capital projects like street improvements, but the council is also facing pressure to use some of the money to restore city services. 

Community nonprofits, facing an average cut of 9 percent, are demanding that the council restore their funding. Also demanding relief are city swimmers, who are facing the closure of all three city pools this winter, as well as arts advocates who are calling for the city to restore art grants and reject the city manager’s proposal to cut the hours of Civic Arts Coordinator Mary Ann Merker. 

Senior citizens and disabled residents have called a protest outside Old City Hall before the meeting to oppose a proposed $18,000 cut from the city’s paratransit budget. Also, animal shelter advocates are calling on the city to withdraw a proposal to eliminate a shelter employee, which they say would force the shelter to reduce hours. 

Rising labor and benefits costs and declining revenues plunged the city into the red three years ago, and appear likely to dent next year’s budget as well. City officials project a $1.6 million deficit in fiscal year 2007, but anticipate a balanced budget by 2009.  

City unions have also pushed for Berkeley to use a portion of the unanticipated revenues to abandon a plan to shut city offices a day each month for a year starting in July. The closures would save the city $3 million. As an alternative, City Manager Phil Kamlarz has proposed that unions affected by the planned closures instead agree to forgo their contractual right to carry over vacation time beyond 320 hours and have the city buy back excess vacation days. The proposal, if accepted by the unions, is anticipated to save $3 million over the course of three years. 


Condominium Conversions 

Councilmembers Betty Olds and Laurie Capitelli have proposed exempting long-term tenants who have formed tenancies in common from paying condominium conversion fees. Only tenants who have lived for at least 10 years in buildings with fewer than five units would be eligible to have the fees waived under the proposal. 

Olds said her proposal was in response to four long-term tenants at 1501 Oxford Street who bought their building as a tenancy in common last year, under the impression they said they received from city officials that Berkeley would waive the condo conversion fee. 

“I think they have a right to convert to condominiums without a penalty,” Olds said. 

Tenancies in common, a way for two or more people to own property together, is often thought to be a less desirable form of ownership than condos. TICs are considered a risky investment because shareholders do not hold title to specific units as they do for condominiums and owners can have more trouble obtaining financing. 

The council is scheduled to vote on the second reading of a proposal to eliminate the regulation of tenancies in common and limit fees for the conversion of rental units into condominiums to 10 percent of the sale price of the unit. The fees were initially designed to prevent condominium conversion to protect the quantity of Berkeley’s rental housing supply. 

The drive to ease restrictions on condo conversions stems from a state appeals court ruling last year that struck down a San Francisco law regulating tenancies in common. Berkeley officials say the ruling, which the state Supreme Court declined to hear, requires the city to end its strict regulations on tenancies in common. 


Teaching-Related Home Businesses 

Councilmember Capitelli is calling on the council to lower the costs for teaching-related home businesses to register with the city. In March, the council approved the first reading of a bill that would have required home-based tutors to obtain a $1,364.70 administrative use permit, rather than a $2,600 use permit, as was then the practice. 

Concluding that most tutors would chose not to register with the city rather than pay the less expensive administrative permit, Capitelli is calling on the council to refer the matter back to the Planning Commission and consider allowing home-based tutors to receive a cheaper and less complicated over-the-counter zoning certificate. 


Aid for Homeless Woman 

Two months ago city officials impounded the truck belonging to Elizabeth Gill, a local homeless woman, who had failed to pay parking tickets dating back several years. The city also impounded her two German shepherd-mix dogs at the animal shelter, with her approval, because without her truck, she couldn’t care for them. 

Now councilmembers Dona Spring and Kriss Worthington want the council to spend $6,000 in city money to pay Gill’s outstanding fees and pass a law allowing homeless people to perform community service as payment for fines, regardless of the amount of time that has passed from when the tickets were issued. 

Currently the city allows low-income residents to perform community service only for tickets received within the previous year. 

“What good does it do to have the car impounded when the owner can’t afford to get it out?” Spring said. 

But Councilmember Betty Olds said she wouldn’t vote to pay for Gill’s costs. “You can’t make legislation for one person,” she said.

16 Drayage Tenants Refuse to Leave; Owner’s Fines Exceed $100,000 By MATTHEW ARTZ

Tuesday May 10, 2005

Calling Berkeley’s fire marshal “a bully,” the owner of a West Berkeley warehouse said he was considering taking legal action to halt city-mandated fines and expenses that have cost him over $100,000 in the past month. 

“The City of Berkeley has behaved in an unconstitutional manner,” said Lawrence White, owner of the Drayage, a live/work warehouse that that city officials demanded White have evacuated by April 15.  

Sixteen of the building’s roughly 30 tenants have refused to vacate, leaving White and city officials in a standoff. 

“The city has the power to declare the building uninhabitable and evict the tenants, but instead they find it easier to fine me $2,500 a day and make me pay $1,000 a day for fire suppression,” White said.  

White has so far declined to send tenants eviction notices, as requested by city officials. 

On Wednesday, White further angered city officials when, claiming he couldn’t afford the charges, he dismissed the two fire suppression officers stationed at the Drayage 24-hours-a-day. 

Under pressure from the city attorney’s office, White rehired the fire suppression team Friday, according David Orth, the city’s fire marshal. Orth said the city increased police patrol around the building while the suppression team was dismissed, but that it wouldn’t seek to charge Orth for the extra work. 

The crisis at the Drayage began in March, when a fire inspection revealed more than 250 separate violations at the former warehouse. The inspection came shortly after a deal fell through for White to sell the building to Developer Ali Kashani for $2.05 million. 

The Northern California Land Trust, which has been working with tenants to buy the building, has since presented a written offer, that tenants say is higher than Kashani’s. White, who has upped his asking price to $2.7 million, however said he won’t entertain offers until the conflict with city is settled. 

“I am not going to accept any offers under the gun,” he said. “This will not be a distress sale.” 

UC, Union Agree to 3-Year Contract By J. DOUGLAS ALLEN-TAYLOR

Tuesday May 10, 2005

With the threat of union action looming, the University of California and the American Federation of State, County And Municipal Employees (AFSCME) have agreed to a system-wide contract for UC’s 7,300 service workers across the state. The new three-year contract runs through January 2008. 

AFSCME workers voted in March to authorize a full strike in the event that contract negotiations had broken down, and held a held a one-day strike last month. 

Both sides said they were pleased with the agreement. In a prepared statement, UC Director of Labor Relations Howard Pripas called it a “fair agreement. The contract rewards all our service workers for their continued hard work, and it is financially realistic.” 

Deborah Grabelle, AFSCME organizer for UC Berkeley, said the contract was “overwhelmingly ratified by our members.” 

Grabelle said that the next step for the union would be to work for what she called “a real living wage. Chancellor [Robert] Birgenau says he supports that.” 

While they agreed on a contract, however, the two sides disagreed on the most important parts of that contract, or whether the union’s job action had any affect upon the settlement. 

University officials said the highlights were a 10 percent across-the-board pay increase over the three-year life of the contract, expanded employee development and training, concessions on parking rates for AFSCME members, and no changes in salary-based health insurance premiums. 

Grabelle said current UC service employees will get the first chance at promotions “if they are qualified. In the past, workers have seen outside people come in and fill positions, getting paid more than qualified people who have been on the job for years.” 

Grabelle also said that the two sides agreed that “if more money is released to the university by the state, the university has to pass it on to the employees or else make up the difference itself. If the university fails to do so, the union has the right to strike.” 

As for the last strike, in its formal release on the agreement, UC officials said the one-day April 14 strike had “minimal impact on operations and services at most UC campuses. Less than one third of UC service workers participated along with limited numbers of individuals from other unions.” 

Grabelle said that conclusion was not accurate. 

“Hundreds of classes had to be moved outdoors, and thousands of students participated with us,” she said. “Many services had to be canceled.” ›

Alcohol Banned for Fraternities and Sororities By J. DOUGLAS ALLEN-TAYLOR

Tuesday May 10, 2005

One month after an alleged alcohol-related hazing incident brought police attention to UC Berkeley fraternities, the university announced this week a “ban on alcohol consumption at all events hosted by campus fraternities and sororities.” 

The ban goes into effect immediately among the campus’ 70 fraternities and sororities and 2,500 Greeks, and will remain in effect until the university establishes new policies, guidelines, and enforcement procedures for alcohol-related problems in its Greek organizations. 

Early in April, members of UC’s Pi Kappa Phi fraternity were accused of repeatedly shooting a 19-year-old pledge with a BB gun on a Berkeley street after forcing him to drink beer and smoke marijuana. The alleged incident was reportedly part of a hazing ritual. Hazing is banned at the university. 

Andrew Adams, a UC Berkeley senior and a member of a campus fraternity, said he disagreed with the ban, and added it would be impossible for the university to enforce. 

“I don’t think different rules should apply just because you are at a frat,” he said. “You are never going to stop Greek drinking, you are never going to stop campus drinking.” 

Lauren Goschke, also a senior at UC Berkeley, also took issue with the ban, saying it deflected the wider issue of underage drinking at the school. 

“If you look at the campus, all the 18-21 years olds are drinking,” she said, “it’s just the Greek kids that get all the attention.” 

In announcing the ban, UC Berkeley Dean of Students Karen Kenney said that alcohol abuse in the Greek system had been building. 

“Throughout the school year, and especially in the last few weeks, we have seen an alarming increase in problems with alcohol abuse, hazing, fights and badly managed parties at all types of Greek organizations,” he said. “We need to address those issues to ensure student safety.” 

Kenney said she was forming a working group of students and administrators over the summer to work on the new Greek alcohol guidelines. 

UC Berkeley banned alcohol among its chapter house fraternities and sororities in the spring of 2002, but lifted that moratorium six months later. 

Architects Chosen for UC Building Projects By RICHARD BRENNEMAN

Tuesday May 10, 2005

UC Berkeley announced Monday their architectural choices to design two major projects for the southeastern part of the campus: the retrofit of Memorial Stadium and the new academic commons building for the law and business schools. 

For the stadium retrofit, the school picked HNTB Architects, a national firm whose most notable recent local project has been the design of the BART extension to San Francisco International Airport. 

The university’s pick for the academic commons building that will house components of the Boalt Hall law school and the Haas School of Business is Moore Ruble Yudell Architects & Planners of Santa Monica (MRY). 

MRY’s most notable local projects include the Haas School (1995) and the new Congregation Beth El complex. 

HNTB has considerable experience with upgrading sports facilities, including the Las Angeles Memorial Coliseum, the Ohio State University stadium and Spartan Stadium at Michigan State University. 

Assisting HNTB on the stadium project is Studios Architecture of San Francisco. Architectural Resources Group of San Francisco will assist on the academic commons building.

School Board Looks to Balance Budget with Reductions By J. DOUGLAS ALLEN-TAYLOR

Tuesday May 10, 2005

With the Berkeley Unified School District locked in a contract dispute with teachers, in part over requests for increased money, BUSD board directors continue this week with the task of trying to balance an already shaky budget. 

At this week’s board meeting, scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at the Old City Hall at 2134 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, the BUSD board will consider $670,000 in reductions to the district’s general fund for the 2004-05 and 2005-06 fiscal years. 

According to Deputy Superintendent Glenston Thompson, the moves are necessary in order to restore the district’s legally mandated 3 percent reserve fund, as well as to bring the district out of its probationary “qualified” budget status. A “qualified” budget certification means that the district believes it may not be able to meet its financial obligations during either the remainder of this fiscal year or the following two fiscal years, and triggers stiffer fiscal oversight by the Alameda County Office of Education. 

In his memo to Superintendent Michele Lawrence recommending the budget action, Thompson cited a March 22 letter from the Alameda County Office of Education to School Board President Nancy Riddle. 

“With the ongoing uncertainty of economic conditions, it is critical for the [Berkeley Unified School] District to take proactive action to develop a multi-year recovery plan to maintain the fiscal health of the district,” Riddle wrote. 

Much of the budget-balancing to be considered Wednesday will be a bookkeeping operation. Approximately $586,000 of the general fund reductions are not actual cuts in programs, but are expected to be transferred to other district accounts, including Titles I and II, BSEP, and Measure BB; $664,000 is projected as actual two-years cuts. 

Earlier this year, the BUSD board approved $579,000 in actual cuts, voting to eliminate close to 14 classified positions. With those cuts and the reductions to be considered on Wednesday, the total two-year general fund budget reductions will add up to more than $1.25 million. 

In his memo to Lawrence, Deputy Superintendent Thompson said that additional budget reductions for the 2005-06 fiscal year were expected to be presented to the board for approval, noting that these would be “in the areas of BHS Athletics, Transportation Department facilities and operating expense, and Special Education Service Provider fee reductions.” 

Unofficially, BUSD representatives have been holding some hope that the district’s budget problems can be eased through relief by the state Legislature in the area of the 3 percent reserve requirement. 

For the past two years, to keep many of the state’s schools from going bankrupt, the Legislature temporarily lowered the required reserve fund for districts from 3 percent to 1.5 percent. The reserve fund is the percentage of the yearly general expenditures that each school district must keep in hand—uncommitted in the budget—in the event of any unexpected fiscal developments. Lowering the required reserve gives districts a smaller fallback position in the case of emergencies, but also gives them more flexibility in balancing their present budgets. The 1.5 percent reprieve is scheduled to expire with the 2005-06 fiscal year, with the state’s school districts required to return to a full 3 percent reserve. 

State Assemblymember Wilma Chan (D-Oakland) has introduced a bill that would extend the reprieve, setting the reserve at 1.5 percent in 05-06 and 2.25 percent in 06-07, not to return to the full 3 percent until 07-08. Although Chan’s bill easily passed the House Education Committee last week and has good prospects of becoming law, Berkeley school officials cannot consider it in their official budget calculations. Alameda County Superintendent of Education Sheila Jordan has said that her office must assume for the present in their oversight capacity that the full 3 percent needs to be in place for next year’s school budgets. 

At Wednesday’s meeting, the board will also consider a resolution in support of a state Senate measure that would lower the requirement for the passage of school bond measures—the same school bond measures (BSEP and BB) that are allowing the district to meet its current general fund balancing crisis. Since the passage of Proposition 13 in the 1970s, school district bond measures require a two-thirds majority vote to pass. State Senator Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) has introduced a Senate Constitutional Amendment (SCA 8) to lower the local parcel tax passage requirement to a 55 percent majority. 


Berkeley Residents Get Prison Time For Pay Phone Scam By RICHARD BRENNEMAN

Tuesday May 10, 2005

Daniel David, Berkeley resident and son of well-known chef and wine expert Narsai David, was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison Friday for his role in a phone scam. 

David, 39, and Scott D. Nisbett, 42, another Berkeley resident, were convicted last year for their roles in a phone scam that federal prosecutors said netted them nearly a half-million dollars. 

The pair was arrested in March 2002 following a two-year investigation by Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service. 

Both men were charged in a 17-count indictment with mail fraud, money laundering and conspiracy, with an additional tax fraud count filed against David. 

The two leased 24 pay phone lines, of which 23 were routed to an office space in South San Francisco where an automatic phone dialer was rigged to make endless calls to toll-free 800 numbers. 

The scam netted 24 cents per call that phone companies give to pay phone owners for calls made from their leased lines to toll-free numbers. The phone companies are automatically reimbursed by the businesses that operate the toll-free numbers. 

David and Nisbett leased the lines under the fictitious names of Bill Jansen and Dave Jacobs, and the payments were made to a mail drop in Arizona. 

According to the indictment, the pair signed over their telephone company checks to an attorney’s client trust fund. The lawyer, in turn, then made out checks to David and Nisbett. 

The auto-dialers made more than two million calls before the pair was arrested. 

Nisbett was sentenced in April to a 15-month prison term. 

Landmarks Law, West Campus Top Land Use Agendas By RICHARD BRENNEMAN

Tuesday May 10, 2005

The ever-controversial density bonus, proposed revisions to the Berkeley Landmarks Preservation Ordinance and South Berkeley’s “Flying Cottage” top the agendas of the city’s land use panels this week. 

Meanwhile, a Berkeley Unified School District-sponso red meeting will consider the draft plan for the old Berkeley High West Campus complex. 

Landmarks Preservation Commissioners discussed proposed Planning Commission revisions to the landmarks ordinance Monday night, and the planning panel could take final action as early as their Wednesday night meeting. 

That session begins at 7 p.m. in the North Berkeley Senior Center, 1901 Hearst Ave. 

Several Planning Commissioners have indicated their willingness to severely curtail the activities of the Landmarks Pr eservation Commission (LPC)—which has roused considerable opposition from the majority of landmarks commissioners. 

A formal report from Planning Commissioners Helen Burke (an appointee of Councilmember Linda Maio) and Susan Wengraf (a Betty Olds appointe e), both members of a subcommittee assigned to evaluate the proposed ordinance and recommend changes, was issued Friday. 

The report calls for the ordinance to require strict adherence to federal structural integrity standards as set forth by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior—a point rejected by the LPC in their draft ordinance—and for the LPC to be required to tell property owners on request if their buildings are historic resources. 

LPC commissioners and supporters dominated the dais during a hearing of the proposed revisions during the Planning Commission’s last meeting. Almost all told the planners that granting all owner requests for determination would place a massive burden on the LPC. Landmark applications are detailed documents investigating the history of buildings which are now researched and written by commissioners and citizen volunteers. Speakers pointed out that required on-demand determinations would be totally impractical at a time when the city is trying to cut staff time and resour ces for city commissions. 

Three hours before the planners’ meeting, a special subcommittee of the Zoning Adjustments Board will convene a 4 p.m. session in the city Planning and Development Department, 2120 Milvia St. 

Long-standing disputes over the int erpretation of the bonus—mandated by state law to reward developers who include low-cost housing in their projects—have dominated recent ZAB meetings, resulting in the creation of a four-member panel at the last ZAB session two weeks ago. 

Major questions involve the city staff’s interpretation of the ordinance, most notably in the case of the proposed Seagate Building on Center Street. In that case, the city Housing Department declared that the developer was entitled to build a 14-story building—twice th e height permitted in the Downtown Plan. 

ZAB itself meets Thursday night at 7 p.m. in City Council chambers at Old City Hall, 2134 Martin Luther King Junior Way. 

The hottest item before ZAB will be a continuation of their hearing on the so-called “Flyi ng Cottage” at 3045 Shattuck Ave. 

Developer Christina Sun raised a single-story cottage by two additional floors before the city stopped further construction because the interior design was that of a group home or rooming house, and not the apartment building she said she was creating. 

Now that the interior floor plan has been resolved to the satisfaction of city staff, serious questions remain about the exterior design and parking. 

Neither ZAB nor the Design Review Committee indicated any willingness to approve the current plans, and outspoken neighborhood opponents can be expected to turn out, as well as their lawyer, Rena Rickles. 

The school district’s West Campus meeting should be testy as well, considering that a shouting match erupted during the last session. 

Besides their concerns about a potentially major set of new buildings rising in their neighborhood, critics have also faulted the school district for choosing a controversial figure as their consultant for the project. 

Besides his role as the head of his Design, Community & Environment consulting firm, David Early is also the head of Livable Berkeley, a group that advocates strongly for the sort of “infill” development that has proved a hot potato in the community. 

Thursday night’s meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the cafeteria at the West Campus site just off the north side of Addison Way between Bonar and Browning streets. 

Early and his project coordinator Tom Ford will present the plan draft during the first part of the meeting, followed by a 90-minute public discussion period. 

For more information, see the district’s project web site at www.busd.us/westcampus.html.›t


Tuesday May 10, 2005

Friday’s Daily Planet will feature an expanded Letters to the Editor and Commentary section which will include the volumes of submissions we’ve received regarding BUSD teachers’ work to rule action. 



Editors, Daily Planet: 

Arnold isn’t fulfilling his promise regarding education funding and it is negatively affecting the youth of California. A shortage of funds results in class sizes of over 40 kids, forcing some kids to sit on the floor due to a lack of desks in the classroom. I know this from firsthand experience (I go to Berkeley High). This shortage of education funding is proof that students are not being represented the way they should be. If students had the right to vote, elected officials would have to take their issues seriously. Currently, politicians don’t have an impetus to serve a constituency that can neither vote for or against them. This lack of representation among youth is extremely unfair and must be addressed. 

It has been the tradition of this country to expand the vote, not limit it. At first, only 21-year-old, white males who owned property could vote. Now, the electoral process includes minorities, women, and 18 year-olds. Lowering the voting age to 16 is the next civil rights movement in America and there is a youth-led, non-profit organization dedicated to empowering youth. The National Youth Rights Association (NYRA) (www.youthrights.org) is working to lower the voting age nationwide. The Berkeley Chapter of NYRA has been working with City Councilmembers and the Berkeley Youth Commission to launch an initiative to lower the voting age. NYRA-Berkeley membership is open to anyone. Just visit our website at www.berkeley.youthrights.org. 

Robert Reynolds 

President, NYRA-Berkeley 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Reading J. Douglas Allen-Taylor’s excellent May 6 piece on the Oakland schools, I was moved to write a simple note of praise for the current incarnation of the Daily Planet. I think it is the best paper Berkeley has had in my lifetime, and the first one I’ve ever read with the consistent expectation that I will be the better informed for having done it.  

Christopher Scheer 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

It would be a shame to paint over such the beautiful Willard mural. I’ve walked by it so many times over the years and admired it. It has a story to tell. I think I really like the hills in it, and the musicians are cool. The people saving other people from a catastrophe part is dynamic. What a loss it would be. It is a part of Berkeley to me. Also I noticed how the homeless people were blamed for this stupid decision too. That is really sick. I camped out there myself several time, and I never saw a needle there and the whole school had trash around it as a matter of fact, so the excuse is bogus. I also have a friend who is director of a historical video archive who lives right around the corner, and I have worked with her for five years, so I know what I’m talking about as far as trash and “homeless.” I was one of those homeless. 

One time a guard or cop woke me up. The guy was real pleasant about it; he told me he hated to wake me up, but they had this sign—one of the biggest “no trespassing” signs in town. As far as trash, why don’t they just pick it up? The other side of the school was and is constantly trashed and not maintained, half-assed mowing jobs, not trimmed. So the insinuation of trash and homeless, anyway, is bogus. To destroy good art and blame the homeless—how sick. Poor Berkeley. Just spend a few bucks and restore it! And one more thing, while I’m at it: There are needles everywhere; anti-homeless people could be dropping them there to ruin a good crash spot. I know. I have been in this area over 25 years; I know how some homeowners in this area hate homeless. There is no legal campground, there is no affordable housing. If people camp here over night and pick up their trash, what’s the big deal? Whoever is making this threat and has power in the School Board I think should be removed. They are part of what is wrong with Berkeley, and they are working to destroy Berkeley, when they destroy its beautiful art. 

John Delmos  




Editors, Daily Planet: 

A few points to buttress Laurence Schechtman’s excellent May 3 commentary: 

1. In August 2002, Diebold demonstrated the ability of the AccuVote-TS to handle IRV ballots as part of their bid for the Santa Clara County DRE (touch-screen) contract. (They lost the bid to Sequoia Voting Systems, but that’s another story. Santa Clara County passed a charter amendment in November 1998 that allows for the use of IRV, once the equipment can handle it. The registrar is now working on an implementation plan.) 

2. Diebold’s optical scan equipment (used to process Alameda County’s absentee ballots) has been used by Cambridge, Massachusetts to process their choice voting ballots since 2001. (Choice voting is a multi-seat ranked voting system very similar to IRV.) 

3. In Cambridge, Diebold’s scanned ballots are tallied using California-based Voting Solution’s ChoicePlus Pro software; that same software can tally IRV elections. 

So all the pieces exist; all Diebold has to do is get them certified for use in California, and that should not cost anywhere near two million dollars. 

Steve Chessin 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

As the confirmation by the Senate of John Bolton as our ambassador to the United Nations continues to be in doubt, perhaps it is time to consider who might be a superior nominee for that post. 

Colin Powell, our previous secretary of state and former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, appears to have impressive credentials for the U.N. ambassadorship. He capably represented our nation to the entire world for four years. He is intelligent, a true diplomat, and a political moderate. 

Is there some way to build support for Colin Powell’s nomination as our next ambassador to the U.N., should the present confirmation process not succeed? 

Brad Belden 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Regarding the many letters protesting Becky O’Malley’s editorial criticizing various liberal elected officials: I haven’t followed City Council proceedings for some time (mea culpa) so I don’t feel I could take a position one way or another on Bates’ conduct of meetings. It occurred to me only that no elected official worth his salt objects to direct criticism on an opinion page—instead of the underhanded, undermining, lying criticism offered by so many papers as “news.” So, whatever we may think of this editorial piece, it’s healthy in being right out front in its criticism. And the Daily Planet does a great service by printing all the opposing letters. 

I’m more concerned that no one wrote to comment on O’Malley’s other, broader, criticism, about the support liberals in national office give to dubious local projects—the gambling casino issue, for example, supported by Dellums and Miller. 

I was elated when my vote was one of those that originally sent Dellums to Congress. I was less happy as years went by and Dellums’ name and photo (like those of the saints forced on me by ignorant nuns in my childhood) appeared endorsing whatever dysfunctional candidate or dubious proposal that was currently being pushed by the “slate” in control of the City Council (yes, I’d voted for them too, I became sorry to say). I felt that it was irresponsible for him to rubber-stamp plans he obviously knew nothing about, and that ran counter the thoughtful actions we could expect of him when he was here. I could only conclude that Dellums had made a cynical decision to go along with local politicos in exchange for their pushing his campaigns here. Eventually the local slate made such a mess in the 1980s that voters tried to break their power by instituting district elections (a mixed blessing). 

So, however you may feel about her comments about our present mayor, I think Becky O’Malley should be praised for raising the issue of good liberal elected officials, who, sent off to Washington, take uninformed, politically expedient positions on local issues they know nothing about. 

Dorothy Bryant 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Frankly, I’m very surprised at Matthew Artz’s characterization of the April 27 Board of Library Trustees Meeting as a “pep rally” (“Library Director Griffin Receives Jeers at Board Meeting,” April 29-May 2). As a new attendee to these sorts of occasions, what I saw was an amazing display of bravery and concern by library workers who mostly stood up in front of their bosses to say, “no, this isn’t working,” and to advocate for quality service to Berkeley citizens. Isn’t this the idea of accountability to the public that the Daily Planet wants to promote rather than patronizingly minimize?  

As to the boardmembers, like Mr. Moore, who couldn’t take the outpouring of passion and sincerity, maybe it’s time that they took their jobs a little more seriously and started spending some time looking for materials in the library or trying to use the computers which are continually on the fritz. 

A. Leira 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Regarding your recent article on the “Flying Cottage” (May 3-5), I would like to add my comments here, as this paper has made no attempts to speak with me or my client for almost two years. 

First, you continue to imply that this is my design. Again, to make it short, it is not. Second, you might have reported on character assassinations rather than the book I read during the long wait. Third, Ms. Sun has never mentioned a “restaurant,” which is a different use than a “cafe/gift-shop,” sometimes mentioned by my client in the past. It will most likely be retail space. Her only interest now is in finishing the building, with the extensive revisions that we have been working on with Planning Department staff, guided by DRC recommendations. Fourth, none of my plans—nor any I have seen by others—have proposed a garage in the ground-floor area. So much of the talk around this project is conjecture and innuendo. Please try to get your facts checked out. Just because Ms. Rickles is a lawyer does not mean she has it correct.  

Finally, regarding the house at the rear, we are talking about only two parking spaces (the plans I was originally given, and that had been approved, had three). Most houses have a driveway next to them, so in many normal situations two houses side by side could have as many as are here proposed. As for the windows at the rear wall (which is more than 30 feet away), all are either to storage spaces, stairwells, or obscure glass in bathrooms, except one, a master bedroom window which I expect most residents would want to have well covered with drapes or shades. 

Andus H. Brandt  




Editors, Daily Planet: 

This Saturday marks the 90th anniversary of the sinking of the Lusitania, one the pivotal events of the 20th Century. For those too young to know, during the early part of World War I, the British Government was covertly shipping out cargoes of munitions from then neutral America. Among the vessels that carried these shipments was the giant Cunard liner Lusitania. On her return voyage, she was torpedoed off the coast of Ireland by the German submarine U-20. The resulting sinking was a horror that is still beyond words to describe. In many ways it was an even greater catastrophe than the Titanic, for it took the mammoth ship a mere eighteen minutes to go under. Among the 1273 souls who perished were 120 Americans, which ignited a firestorm of horror and indignation the length and breadth of the U.S. What had been a divided America was now set on the path to war against Germany. 

However, after nearly a century, there are questions about this tragedy that still remain unanswered. The German government, in the form of diplomatic notes and media advertisements, had given ample warning to the American public. The British had secretly broken the German Naval code, and It was known to all sides that the ship was carrying contraband. Finally, Winston Churchill, then running the British Admiralty, was briefed about the possible sinking of the Lusitania only days before. What is most interesting is that this briefing, along with other documents pertaining to the Lusitania, are still classified on the grounds of National Security by the British Government.  

I am only speculating here, but could there be something in these moldering papers that would turn history on its head? Perhaps these past events may still have a direct influence on the events of the present. Could historic figures, once looked on as defenders of freedom, have their mythic reputations shredded? But even more disturbing, why is it that even today, more and more historic records of are being kept from the public for reasons of “national security”?  

As has been said, and is still true today, truth is the first casualty of war. 

John F. Davies 

1st Lt., U.S. Marine Corps (Ret.) 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

Kudos to Lawrence Jarach for his superlative op-ed on the Spanish Civil War. In Berkeley, where the veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade are regularly lionized sans any critical sense of historical accuracy, Jarach’s commentary is particularly welcome.  

As Jarach notes, the Lincoln Brigade was a tool of Joseph Stalin and original leaders of the Spanish Republic. Stalin and his Spanish Republic political comrades proved more interested in destroying the truly revolutionary forces of Spanish Anarchists than defeating Franco. The result was a Franco victory and a country chafing under fascism for nearly a half century. As Jarach wrote: “The intentions of the Lincolns and their allies and supporters may have been sincere in terms of deliciously vague phrases like ‘social justice,’ but their first and overriding loyalty was to the Party and its bosses in Moscow.” 

Jarach goes on to note that it was only when Krushschev and the Communist Party owned up to the murderous reign of Stalin that scores of Americans left the Party, finally forced to acknowledge what most of the world already knew. This brings us to Angela Davis, lauded in a new play about her written by her niece (“Revolution, Racism and Family in ‘Angela’s Mixtape,’” May 6-9).  

Three decades after the Krushchev speech, in the 1980s, Angela Davis joined the murderous minions of the still Soviet-controlled American Communist Party. Indeed, long after The Party Was Over, she continued to opine that the horrific Soviet gulags were simply figments of the “bourgeois press’s imagination” and she still supports numerous other elements of repression extolled by her old ideological masters.  

In sum, even though she is an African American with a Ph.D., Angela Davis is far more worthy of scorn than praise.  

Dan Spitzer 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

Becky O’Malley’s April 29 “Pig in a Poke” editorial touches off long-overdue debates.  

But it’s not really debatable to state that the job of the press is to “comfort the afflicted” and “afflict the comfortable.” I feel extraordinarily lucky to live in a town where the local paper does just that. While it’s no problem in Berkeley to take on the war in Iraq, or corporate domination of politics and big media, the “Pig in a Poke” editorial opens up on a touchy local question: What is the influence of corporate real estate money on local land use politics, and on some of our long-time favorite politicians?  

I thought this took moral courage, guts that is, and the kind investigative reporting that “follows the money” wherever it leads. But, we still may ask, did “The Pig in a Poke” go too far, not only afflicting the comfortable, but afflicting heroes who’ve shown their own moral courage in often lonely good fights? Besides being icons, these are people I consider friends. I’ve rung doorbells, made phone calls, been to both defeats and celebrations in Berkeley since before Ron Dellums’ first congressional victory, up through cheering at Tom Bates’ mayoral win.  

Part of me would just as soon hush up the public debate and carry it on in private. It’s painful to expose qualms about politicians with whom I feel long identified, and am in 95 percent agreement on state, national, and world politics. But, while fighting the good fight globally, have we lost our critical edge when dealing with, for example, the impact of real estate speculation on the local scene? Have we become self-satisfied, cynical, and touchy about critiques from the grass roots efforts that challenge the land use status quo? Have we forgotten that a generation ago it was our own grass roots campaigns, that critiqued “business as usual” policies, that radically changed the previous East Bay political scene?  

For me the legacy of Berkeley is not to bury the tough issues, but to pursue them to the roots. That means a debate that escapes being drowned in technicalities, and argues in frank terms about the mother’s milk of politics: how the power and money, especially with land “development,” can influence city politicians and officials.  

At the risk of sounding like the Lone Ranger: “Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear,” we can recapture some of our moral courage from the civil rights, free speech, and anti-war days. We can show the next generation of activists and ourselves—that it is possible to move beyond simply closing ranks and protecting old heroes. We can pass on a heritage with some of those ideals relevant to the meaning we associate with Berkeley.  

Neal Blumenfeld 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Various letters have been circulating through the school community and on these newspaper pages. One is from the district administration for Berkeley’s schools, another is the response from the Berkeley Federation of Teachers. These letters each argue about the different monetary figures available (or not) for the district’s budget and teachers’ salaries. Which is to be believed? 

As someone whose job involves managing complex budgets, I must admit, the school district’s budget reports are very difficult and challenging to follow, not the least because there is so much variability from one report to the next. It’s amazing that even after the district spent $700,000 for consulting fees with the Fiscal Crisis Management Team (FCMAT), there is still so much confusion over how much money the district actually has, and where it has been spent. If the resources available aren’t clear, how is the public (through our elected board) to understand the trade-offs and choices before them? 

Several years ago, a proposal was floated that BUSD needs an independent auditor. This auditor would not just make sure the checks were written from the right account, but actually review the efficiency and effectiveness of the district’s performance as well. At that time, the district claimed such an auditor was not needed because of the state mandated contract with FCMAT. Perhaps now it is time to get serious about getting an independent performance auditor. We need to know that the school district’s budget numbers are accurate and reliable so we can make better informed decisions on spending in our public schools.  

Iris Starr 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Your reporting of the Zeneca toxic exposures and impacts affecting employees and community is a model for other newspapers to follow. It is obvious that your newspaper and reporter Mr. Brenneman, cannot be intimidated or bought to water down or minimize the message of the life-threatening situation caused by irresponsible polluting companies on innocent employees and communities, as was our experience with the San Jose Mercury News. Somewhere around the late 1990s the Mercury News did a four-hour interview with Midway Village residents which included being given factual DTSC documents proving our claims of the direct connection between the toxins and exposures and our illnesses. The story was promised to come out within a few days, which turned into two months. We were told by one reporter who quit that she was called into the editor’s office with Pacific Gas & Electric Co. present and was told that they—the editor, PG&E and DTSC—strongly recommended that the story be edited so as not to taint the public against PG&E. 

You are truly rendering a much-needed service to all communities by reporting it as it is. Also I would strongly recommend that we all use hawk eyes on DTSC. This crucial period of public comment is a fake. Their final decisions will not include the public’s recommendations. This is when DTSC puts on their best show of including public comments, with the appearance of accepting recommendations and data from community. However I guarantee, DTSC has already made their final decisions on the actions they will take which will include DTSC will received millions for cleanup, the community and those suffering get nothing and the final decision will benefit the polluting companies responsible for damaging the health of the employees and the community. DTSC has been already meeting with the polluting companies, making decisions that will ignore the community’s health and life-threatening issues. 

This is their pattern and business as usual, and unless we put a noose around their necks they will make the same ineffective decisions which will continue to cause further harm and death to the affected community. 

LaDonna Williams 

People for Children’s Health and Environmental Justice 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The West Berkeley Traffic and Safety Coalition is pleased to note that City of Berkeley planning officials and Berkeley Bowl owner Glenn Yasuda finally have done the right thing. They’ve agreed to our request for an environmental impact report on the proposed West Berkeley Bowl, with a primary focus on traffic and parking.  

At 91,000 square feet (half again as large as the existing Bowl), the new Bowl would be bigger than the Pac ‘n’ Save on San Pablo in Emeryville but with much less parking. Unlike most big grocery stores, which are sited directly on major arterials, the new Bowl, at 920 Heinz (just west of Orchard Supply’s parking lot), will be accessed via narrow, neighborhood-scale streets.  

The original traffic study for the Bowl projected that the new store will generate 50,000 new vehicle trips a week. Yet the study concluded that the project would have virtually no significant negative impact on traffic and parking. It also asserted that there’s less traffic at San Pablo and Ashby now than there was 

in 1993. And it gave short shrift to the children’s safety issues posed by the store’s proximity to Ecole Bilingue.  

To check out these and other matters, we hired an independent traffic engineer. The Berkeley Planning Department has acknowledged that our consultant’s findings were key in their decision to do an EIR after all.  

The consequent delay could have been avoided if city planners had facilitated good-faith negotiations among all the stakeholders at the very start. We encourage the city to sponsor just such a collaborative effort through the EIR process.  

Jeff Hogan (Ashby Lumber) 

Bernard Marszalek (Inkworks) 

John Phillips (John Phillips Harpsichords) 

Mary Lou Van Deventer  

(Urban Ore) 

for the West Berkeley Traffic and Safety Coalition  




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The San Francisco Arts Commission turned down the monstrous globe—a degrading memorial to David Brower—because it is so big and ugly. Then the Berkeley Waterfront Commission rejected it because it is so big and ugly. But the experts on our Arts Commission accepted it because they seem to think that you don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. But still nobody seems to want to stable this horse in any part of our city. 

Now the art experts on the Arts Commission want to saddle us with a huge sign of eight-foot-high metal letters saying HERE/THERE on the border of Berkeley and Oakland. How patronizing can you get? We in Berkeley are HERE, but those folks to the South are THERE. Some clever wit on the commission may think it refers to a remark Gertrude Stein is supposed to have made. Most people across the line, however, might think it rather offensive. And who will pay for these letters? 

Peter Selz 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

To date more than 886 Berkeley Public Library users have signed a petition to demand that installation of radio frequency identification (RFID) chips in our books and other materials at the Berkeley Public Library be stopped immediately. Community members are circulating the petitions and are receiving positive responses from the people they approach. 

Since no mention of them was made in the Daily Planet articles, which covered the two board meetings, I thought it necessary to let you know how many citizens are against RFID. 

We will continue to circulate the petition and keep you apprised of how many voters are unhappy with RFID. 

Rosemary Vimont 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Regarding the Civic Center Fountain that has been dry for over 20 years: It would be foolish to spend $600,000 on it. Our city has to watch the budget carefully for now. 

Just put in some soil, compost and plant flowers and shrubs like lavender. No sense leaving it empty and full of trash. Maybe Berkeley High students would adopt it as a beautification project? 

Colleen McGrath 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

“Rubens at BAM: A Dismal Glimpse at Art Criticism,” by John Kenyon. Obviously he is not familiar with artist’s two-dimensional works and the struggle representing in oils the human figure. Not only did he represent the human figure but he also did it, in many instances, from memory—without the human figure before him. He pulled his amazing compositions together with light—another aspect of his genius. 

I find these small works extremely interesting because they are by the master’s hand alone. The frames are secondary to me and the religious subject matter not part of the way I judge art. I prefer critiques to be given by artists who understand the process. 

Nancy Anderson 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I really enjoyed the letters concerning the West Berkeley Bowl and “flower circles” in recent editions. They couldn’t be closer to the truth. 

I have lived in Berkeley for 42 years and I still fail to understand the City of Berkeley’s priorities. When they created the barriers in my neighborhood (Parker and Shattuck), the traffic tripled on Parker which made crossing at Parker and Shattuck extremely dangerous. Yet, the city had no money to install a traffic light. Even though it was almost impossible to navigate on Fulton and Ellsworth because the barriers made it too difficult, the city felt mandated to install a number of “flower circles” or roundabouts, which serve absolutely no purpose but to make it even more difficult for local residents to drive around their neighborhood. By the way, these traffic circles cost a lot of money to build and maintain and most of them are already full of weeds and totally unappealing. Yet the city had no money to maintain school grounds and playgrounds! 

Regarding the West Berkeley Bowl, the city and neighborhood objections are making it so difficult that I wouldn’t blame the owner for taking his business to a different town, where he will be more than welcome. Right now the traffic are the present Bowl in my neighborhood and the pollution it creates are so bad, that it made total sense for a popular and much needed second store in a different neighborhood where they badly need a first class produce store. As the letter writer mentioned, once again, the City of Berkeley is shooting itself in the foot! 

Andree Leenaer Smith 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I am a regular patron of the Berkeley Public Library. The library is very useful to me in my work as a substitute teacher and homework tutor. I check out books on a regular basis to update my skills and increase my knowledge as well as for purely enjoyment purposes. I became aware that the library shelving staff has been drastically reduced, with the result that the books may not be as readily or quickly available. 

The problem is many-faceted. In addition to the inconvenience to the patrons of books being not readily available, or the possibility of books being recorded as “returned,” the shelving staff is impacted as well. By increasing the workload, the shelving staff must work twice as fast. This could lead to repetitive stress injuries to wrists and hands, as well as the increased possibility of mistakes being made resulting in the loss of books. Also, books can be stolen from the book drop if they accumulate too long without being removed. 

Why not create a job description called “Work Experience”? Why not open up part-time jobs to students at a different pay-rate and number of hours? The job could be done, and the experienced book-shelvers could continue at their present positions at their previous quantity of work. 

I believe it is in the best interest of the library, its staff, and the patrons to resolve this difficulty in a way that is economical and yet in the best interests of all concerned. 

Judith L. Jones 

Column: The Public Eye: Canary in the Coal Mine: Berkeley’s Landmarks Ordinance By ZELDA BRONSTEIN

Tuesday May 10, 2005

To experience Berkeley at its civic and civil best, you can’t beat the spring house tour of the Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association. Just staging the event involves nearly 200 volunteers. That’s not counting the homeowners who open their residences to the public for an afternoon. Equally impressive is the way the tour brings out a general graciousness that’s often lacking in daily Berkeley life. 

There’s the deference shown to fellow tourists, as people wait in the inevitable lines or meet in a crowded staircase or a narrow doorway. And, evident in the intense perusals of the tour guidebook, there’s the respectful interest in the history that’s made Berkeley a distinctive place, an interest awakened by a first-hand encounter with ordinary citizens’ defense and celebration of their local legacy.  

This year the destination was Panoramic Hill, a neighborhood that, in the 38 years since I first came to town, had somehow eluded me. The BAHA newsletter promised “a retreat of quiet beauty, merely steps away from the workaday world,” Berkeley’s best-preserved “concentration of houses showing the influence of the Hillside Club philosophy and the Arts and Crafts movement.” Brown shingles by Ernest Coxhead, as well as homes by Walter Ratcliff, Julia Morgan, Bernard Maybeck, William Wurster and, less predictably, Frank Lloyd Wright.  

It sounded idyllic, and it was. The sun shone and a breeze wafted as my Oakland friend Ilene and I, along with hundreds of others, traipsed through Panoramic Hill’s extraordinary homes and along its sylvan byways.  

For a few hours, it was easy to forget that in “the workaday world,” the city laws that protects Berkeley’s historic environment are under siege. On May 11, the Planning Commission will consider and perhaps act on two sets of proposed changes to the Landmarks Preservation Ordinance and the Zoning Ordinance—one formulated by the Landmarks Preservation Commission, the other by a Planning Commission subcommittee led by PC chair Harry Pollack.  

The proposed changes are too numerous and, in many cases, too technical to be listed, much less analyzed and compared in this space. (For a succinct, well-considered appraisal, see attorney Susan Brandt-Hawley’s letter, posted on the BAHA website at www.berkeleyheritage.com.) But the critical difference can be stated in brief. The LPC wants to retain the Landmark Preservation Commission’s authority to regulate the demolition of historic buildings; the PC subcommittee wants to transfer that authority to the Zoning Adjustments Board, leaving the LPC merely advisory to the ZAB.  

Before going further, I should say that though I’m a card-carrying member of BAHA, I’m not a preservation fundamentalist. In fact, I first encountered BAHA and the LPC as an adversary. As a member of the Thousand Oaks Neighborhood Association board, I helped lead the campaign for a new Thousand Oaks School in the early ‘90s. Not only had BUSD neglect left the facility in a state of serious disrepair, according to faculty and staff, the building didn’t work well as a school. Having gotten wind of the possibility that the structure would be demolished, the LPC landmarked it. The building was old, so it had to be saved. Period. But LPC decisions are appealable to higher authority, and, following a bitter struggle, the School Board approved the demolition. 

For a long time after that episode, I kept my distance from BAHA, thereby missing many wonderful house tours, I’m sure. Nevertheless, I considered and still consider myself a preservationist, albeit one with a more encompassing perspective. Maybeck, after all, drew on tradition to create buildings that were radical in his day. Accordingly, the preservationist’s task is to honor, not idolize, the past. Easier said than done, when so much of what’s built today is mediocre, if not downright repulsive, as well as utterly disrespectful of history and locale. But if you want a vital culture, that’s the assignment. 

For that assignment to be carried out in Berkeley, it’s essential that the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission have regulatory authority over the demolition of historic structures. It’s ludicrous to think that handing over that authority to the Zoning Adjustments Board will result in more judicious decisionmaking. For one thing, ZAB members lack the expertise in that the LPO now properly requires of Landmarks commissioners. For another, when it comes to arbitrary behavior, ZAB makes the LPC look like a piker. As a rule, ZAB follows the lead of city staff, who routinely manipulate the city’s laws and policies to suit their history-is-bunk, bigger-is-better agenda. Indeed, it’s staff and their cohorts—builders, real estate brokers, deregulation-minded commissioners and Livable Berkeley—who are leading the push to enfeeble the LPC and the LPO. 

That said, the LPO does need revision. One important change, making the timeline governing the demolition of historic buildings consistent with the Permit Streamlining Act, can be easily accomplished. Technical matters such as clarifiying the “structure of merit” designation, the meaning of historic “integrity,” and the LPO’s relation to the California Environmental Quality Act should be resolved with the assistance of professional specialists. In 2001, the State Office of Historic Preservation awarded Berkeley a $25,000 grant (two LPC members wrote the application) to hire a law firm experienced in revising landmark ordinances. At the end of nearly a year in which city Planning Department staff had done nothing with the money and failed to file the required progress reports to the state, the OHP took the unprecedented step of withdrawing the grant. It seems only fair that the city now hire a consultant with city funds. 

Whatever the city does, the rest of us need to stop viewing the Landmarks Preservation Ordinance as the exclusive interest of Berkeley’s preservation activists. The LPO is like the canary in the coal mine: if it’s in danger, so is the general welfare—in this case, our town’s unique character, as embodied in its historic buildings, be they Maybecks and Morgans in the hills or bungalows and Victorians in the flats. Berkeleyans, the canary’s in danger.?

Column: The Things You Learn When You Put Your Life on Videotape By SUSAN PARKER

Tuesday May 10, 2005

In Michelle Carter’s Writing in the Public Context class at San Francisco State, it isn’t enough that I have spent an hour a week for 13 weeks walking with my housemate, Willie, down to Doug’s B.B.Q. and back, snapping photographs along the way, transferring them onto my computer and sending them off to my fellow classmates. I have to come up with a final project that includes a 15-minute presentation in front of the class. This assignment has worried me since the start of the semester.  

My original project premise was to explore racism in America. Of course this topic proved far too broad, and so I reworked it to be an exploration of racism in Oakland. Also too big a subject, I tweaked it into a story about race relationships on my walk with Willie. But even that proved overwhelming as it included businesses and churches, homelessness and substance abuse, poverty, gentrification, barbeque and headcheese. I needed to narrow things down more.  

Fortunately, my friend Joell came to my rescue. For years she has been working on an oral history project for the San Joaquin River Parkway and Conservation Trust. Joell interviews and videotapes 80-plus year old residents of the Central Valley who tell her about what life used to be like along the San Joaquin River before the advent of dams, housing projects, and strip malls. Her friendly demeanor and non-judgmental attitude make her a perfect documentarian.  

I changed my premise again, this time to exploring racism inside my home. Joell volunteered to make a film of me interviewing the people who live in my house and help with my husband’s care. Ralph and I have been cohabitating with African Americans, Asians and Hispanics on and off since his accident in 1994. Our current roommates, Willie and Andrea, grew up in Los Angeles, but they have roots that go back to Tennessee, Mississippi, and the American South before the Civil War.  

For the most part we have gotten along, although there have been many ups and downs. Sharing a bathroom with Andrea and all things related to her hair hasn’t been easy, and sharing a refrigerator with Willie has proven problematic. Food items I plan on eating disappear before I have a chance to eat them. We have had to make many adjustments and compromises. 

When I told Andrea and Willie that Joell was coming to film them, they were noncommittal. I worried that Joell would show up and my housemates would shut their bedroom doors and turn up the volume on their television sets. But, in fact, when the camera started rolling, they came alive. Willie, who had claimed he didn’t like to talk about himself, talked non-stop and continued to chat after the film ran out. Andrea, who said she needed to pull herself together before being photographed, took off her everyday raggedy housecoat and slipped into a skintight camouflage-print dress. “Hood-wear,” she explained, though it appeared she might at any minute be shipping off to Iraq to entertain the troops.  

In front of the camera Willie and Andrea morphed into KTVU Channel 3’s Dennis Richmond and Leslie Griffith. They explained to Joell and me the politics of the neighborhood, do’s and don’ts that included watching out for undercover cops and folks who were up to no good.  

After an hour Joell announced that she was almost out of tape. “Anything else you want to say before I turn off the camera?” she asked. 

“Willie needs to speak up for himself and develop a better sense of self-esteem,” stated Andrea. 

“Drea needs to stop bein’ so bossy and clean up after herself in the bathroom,” said Willie. 

“Suzy needs to do somethin’ about her hair before she goes out in public,” said Andrea. 

“That’s for damn sure,” agreed Willie. “Otherwise everything is cool around here. Ain’t no racial tension, just a few problems with gettin’ time in the bathroom and findin’ somethin’ to eat in the fridge.”


Tuesday May 10, 2005

Graffiti Warrant Served 

Berkeley Police served search warrants at two Hayward homes in connection with the massive vandalism of shop windows along Telegraph and College avenues early last month. 

Officers searched the homes of two individuals connected with the web site Haywardgraffiti.com, which chronicled the creations of two taggers who signed their works with the same signatures used during Berkeley incidents, where windows were deeply etched with acid. 

Preliminary estimates placed the damage at well in excess of $100,000. 

Berkeley Police spokesperson Joe Okies said a fellow officer shot a pit bull that charged him during a search at a residence in the 2300 block of Jorgenson Lane. The animal later died at a veterinary hospital, he said. 

Though no arrests have yet been made, Officer Okies said “investigators are happy with the results of the search warrants as they pertain to this investigation.” 

He said the dog was released through the front door of a home they were about to search. 

“The pit bull came out barking and snarling and very agitated. It had come within two feet of the officer when he fired twice to protect himself,” Okies said. 


Felony Drunk Driving 

An 18-year-old UC Berkeley water polo player was arrested on charges of felony drunk driving after a Jeep he was driving jumped a curb and struck another student waiting for a bus Friday night. 

Officer Okies said the 20-year--old victim was rushed to Highland Hospital, where she was reported in critical condition. 

The accident occurred about 10:55 p.m. in the 2400 block of Channing Way. 

In addition to the felony drunk driving charge, the suspect was also booked for possession of an open alcohol container in a vehicle and possession of a fake ID. 

“Several passengers who were in the Jeep fled the scene,” said Officer Okies, “and we are still looking into that.” 


Shot at Home 

Police arrested two suspects, one adult, the other juvenile, after multiple 911 calls reporting shots fired in the 3100 block of Fairview Street. 

Officer Okies said a search discovered bullet holes in a residence, though no occupants were injured during the attack.

Commentary: Citations and Protestations

Tuesday May 10, 2005


Editors, Daily Planet:  

Once again I dutifully paid a traffic violation fine prior to the due date written on the citation. About a month later I received the court courtesy notice requesting payment. I called the court to determine if payment had been received. I was told the due date or appearance date on the citation should be disregarded. My citation had not been processed into the court data system. It was unclear if my payment would be processed later or returned. But now, I was being asked to clear the citation and supply proof of correction again. 

My memory was jarred, I recalled this same scenario years before. So I asked why does this seem to happen regularly. Seems I hit a nerve. 

The traffic division clerk explained that this disconnect has been an issue for more than 20 years. Numerous efforts to resolve this have gone nowhere, despite the obvious solution. Meanwhile the court receives about 250 calls per day from confused, duty bound citizens. Many take off work, fly in from out of town and in general waste a lot of their valuable time trying to comply with the arbitrary date written in by BPD. There is a general sense that the city is attempting to increase revenues through traffic fines, perhaps now is a good time to clean up this customer service issue. I for one feel jerked around. 

Laura Menard 



Editors, Daily Planet:  

Enough already with the City of Berkeley’s ridiculous enforcement of traffic and parking citations—just to ring up money for the city budget. Lately I’ve read stories about people being ticketed for beeping their horn while passing a protest (Oh, come on! Really! Does that deserve a ticket?), to parking tickets for facing the “wrong direction” on a street—something some people are forced to do because of the crazy “traffic control” barriers, no-turn and one-way streets in Berkeley. I even read about a guy who got a ticket (in the mail) for driving in the carpool lane on the Bay Bridge on a day he wasn’t even in San Francisco. 

I’m writing this letter to let Daily Planet readers know that we should start protesting—and in my case suing—the city over inappropriate traffic citations. Why does this irritate me? This has been sticking in my craw since I was given a ticket on University Avenue one night about a year ago. I was filling my car up with gas at a station on University, and another car pulled in facing my headlights. I turned off my headlights as a courtesy to the other driver—but left my parking lights on. When I pulled out, I didn’t realize my headlights were still off. My dashboard was lit up because I did have my parking lights on, but not my headlights. After driving a few blocks up University—a very well lit street—I saw a police car start to follow me. Suddenly, I realized that my headlights were still off because I hit a dark part of the street—too late. I was pulled over and given a ticket for—get this—$185! Even the cashier at the city office couldn’t believe the amount of that ticket. When I told the cop that I just pulled out of a gas station, and didn’t realize that my headlights were off (I even showed him the receipt) he said “Tell it to the traffic court judge...” Nice guy, thanks. 

So, if that wasn’t bad enough, this latest ticket is the last straw. I was mailed a ticket (mailed, mind you, this was not placed on my car windshield) for parking in front of a fire hydrant near King Middle School. The only problem is that the date and time on the ticket (Oct. 6, 2004 at 8:09 a.m.) were for a day my son had a field trip; and I was still at home eating breakfast at the time they claim I was parked in front of the hydrant.  

To make this even more amazing, I have a witness who saw me pull up in front of King (on Rose Street, not Edith Street, where they claim I was parked) and let my son off at 8:30 a.m. for his field trip. Now, I have tried to protest this ticket, and as far as the city is concerned I am guilty until proven innocent. Hey! Wait a damn minute... is Berkeley part of the U.S.A.? Or have we been moved to some banana republic while I was sleeping at night? 

So, to make a long story short, despite mailing them a letter from my friend corroborating my story (a doctor by the way, and a very responsible person); and also including a letter from the teacher at King telling us to arrive at 8:30 a.m., on Oct. 6, and meet the field trip school bus in front of King (on Rose Street)—as far as the City of Berkeley is concerned sorry, no dice, pay up. Huh??? I’m sorry but why? Why? Should anyone have to pay a ticket that is obviously erroneous? The answer I got from Susie Monary-Wilson of the City of Berkeley, is because it’s the meter maid’s word against mine—and so the ticket stands. I guess having an eyewitness doesn’t amount to jack in this town. Even more insulting is that doesn’t say much for what my “word” with worth around Berkeley. Of course the fact that my son and my family can also testify we were not there that morning doesn’t count for much either. I guess none of us can be trusted to tell the truth. 

There you go... innocent until proven guilty? Sorry, not in Berkeley, guilty until proven innocent, and then still pronounced guilty by a city clerk. Is it official city policy to just let those tickets fly, and start counting the money? Must be. I’m afraid you are “guilty” despite what you can say, do, or show to prove otherwise—so you’ll just have to pay up folks.  

I am now planning on suing the City of Berkeley in small claims court over this latest nonsense. I recommend anyone out there who’s been ripped off in a similar fashion do the same. Oh yeah, and honk if you support this protest! 

Phil Pickering 



Editors, Daily Planet:  

I live in an overwhelmed state of mind. My life is dictated by the challenges of getting across San Pablo Avenue, finding a parking space, having change for a parking meter, and having the parking meter work—not to mention the endurance test of getting through whatever task I have before me without losing my grip, as my harried and hurried existence is inundated with the paperwork for documenting my innocence, often the result of the errors made by inept people. 

On April 8 I was involved in one of my many obligations that require perseverance, and hopefully, patience. It was pouring rain and I had the good fortune of finding a parking space only a couple of blocks from Berkeley High School, where I was trying to retrieve transcripts that never got from the traditional high school to Independent Study where my son goes to school this year. Since it has become nearly impossible to reach anyone on the telephone, I spend a percentage of my life driving, finding parking, parking, waiting on line, finding the person I need to talk to, or at least the person who is allegedly able to refer me to the person who can refer me to the person I need to talk to. 

My parking space was too good to be true, because the parking meter ate my quarter while I stood in the pouring rain and blowing wind. I put a note on the parking meter and ran the two blocks to Berkeley High, but not before I tried to dig my quarter out of the jammed meter and had the satisfaction of kicking the pole that supported the meter. 

I was shuffled from a waiting line (where I was able to hear the announcements being made live over the loudspeaker regarding the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered meeting schedule—the prelude of the announcement was from Led Zeppelin’s Physical Graffiti) to the office of the registrar. My experience in the registrar’s office was painless—I was actually given the paperwork I needed quickly. The registrar at Berkeley High totally has her act together. 

When I returned to my car the note had blown away and my car had a ticket on its windshield in a little plastic bag. But just ahead on the block was the “meter gestapo.” I drove up to her vehicle and explained that the meter was broken. The driver barked, “1947 Center” at me and drove away. 

On April 15 I went to the dreaded 1947 Center St. and waited in line, having found a parking space several blocks away with a working meter! When it was my turn, the woman at the counter barked at me and gestured to the forms that enable the citizens of Berkeley an opportunity to contest a parking ticket. When I came back to the line with my completed form, having waited through the second cue, I had the unfortunate luck of ending up at the same barking woman’s computer terminal. She separated the layers of no-carbon-required copies and handed me a pink one. Then I was told to call in three weeks if I had not heard from the City of Berkeley. I started to write down the instructions for my next task and made the mistake of asking what the date three weeks from now would be. The woman refused to discuss the three week date with me and made it very clear in a very unpleasant way that she was not there to help me. I noticed a little tiny calendar next to her computer monitor and I asked her if she would mind turning the page so that I could see the dates in May. She told me that, “it was my responsibility to find a calendar”. 

My property taxes pay that bitch’s salary. And if she is a civil servant, then she is a servant to the people of this city. I would never have a job if spoke to people the way that woman spoke to me. I would never speak to anyone like that. I didn’t even speak to her like that after she spoke to me like that. I just left the building wondering, once again, what happened to the human race. 

Pat Hilliard 




Commentary: Industry’s Gain, Library’s Pain By PETER WARFIELD and LEE TIEN

Tuesday May 10, 2005

When opponents of library use of radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology testified at Berkeley’s Peace and Justice Commission meeting in March, 2005, one of the commissioners repeatedly asked whether the industry was using this library in particular, or libraries in general, to promote RFID. A letter sent by a major book industry group to members of San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors last summer shows that the answer is a resounding yes. 

Worse yet, the book industry group wants to use libraries as guinea pigs to test RFID. 


Immature Technology 

While acknowledging that RFID “is still an immature technology, lacking in essential capability and standards,” the letter’s author, James Lichtenberg, board member of the Book Industry Study Group (BISG) and chair of its New Technology Committee, nevertheless urged funding of RFID at San Francisco Public Library (SFPL) so that libraries can “make a contribution to maintaining our free and open society as we embrace new and untested technologies.” 


Civil Liberties at Risk 

Chillingly, the letter’s fundamental argument for why libraries and library patrons should become RFID guinea pigs is that industry will not act responsibly: “for libraries to abandon the field now would leave the development of RFID essentially in the hands of commercial and defense interests where ‘national security’ and the profit motive often overshadow concerns for civil liberty.” 

Indeed, Lichtenberg warns that the future of RFID technology may well lead to “ubiquitous ignoble use of RFID for surveillance and invasion of citizens’ rights.” 

In short, the letter says libraries should buy RFID because industry and government cannot be trusted to protect our privacy and civil liberties. 


Buy Now, Change Later 

Lichtenberg is right that industry and government want to use RFID for surveillance. But that’s precisely why it is sheer chutzpah for the commercial interests he represents to promote RFID by holding out the false hope that libraries, by buying RFID systems today, “ultimately will make the technology itself stronger and safer as it matures and its implementation broadens.” 

The truth is, libraries would lose any leverage they might have by buying RFID now and seeking changes afterwards. Once libraries have bought into RFID, why should industry change its ways? 

Rather than changing the RFID product, it is far more likely that the book industry wants to use the good will of libraries to put a friendly face on RFID, in order to make RFID technology more palatable to the public. After all, the BISG letter provides no specifics about how libraries that make the expensive plunge into RFID and convert their collections to its use would “be leaders in the exploration of RFID use”—or about how libraries’ privacy concerns would affect the wealthy RFID or book industry and its products.  

The New York-based BISG counts among its members “the entire publishing value chain,” including “authors, publishers, printers, distributors, technologists, consultants, retailers and of course libraries.” 

BISG officers include management officials of publishers Barnes and Noble, Random House, and John Wiley & Sons, according to the group’s website. 


Business Hopes 

Lichtenberg’s letter is clear about the hoped-for benefits to the business interests he serves. It says, “RFID holds out a promise to create greater efficiency and significantly take cost out of any supply chain, ours included....” 

Unfortunately, BISG has already significantly influenced policy at the American Library Association, which issued its “Resolution on Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) Technology and Privacy Principles” in January 2005 with repeated, explicit references to BISG—and an endorsement of BISG’s inadequate “Privacy Principles” statement. 


Carrot and Stick 

Lichtenberg’s letter reveals corporate interests are using a carrot-and-stick approach to sell “untested” RFID technology to government and library decisionmakers. 

The stick is the thinly veiled, very real threat that RFID will usher in an age of ubiquitous surveillance in the near, if not immediate, future. The carrot is the vain hope that libraries can save society from that dystopian future. 

Libraries and library users should not let themselves become test subjects for this “immature” technology—especially when they must pay heavily for the privilege and cannot easily escape once they sign up. Who listens to guinea pigs, anyway? 


Peter Warfield is executive director and co-founder of the Library Users Association. Lee Tien is a senior staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation and a long-time Berkeley resident. 


Commentary: Through the Looking Glass By SHARON HUDSON

Tuesday May 10, 2005

When I read about the upcoming deal on the LRDP, I had an overpowering 

urge to listen to “White Rabbit” by Jefferson Airplane... 



One pill makes you larger... 


“UC Berkeley and the City of Berkeley have reached a tentative 20-year agreement that would resolve a major town-gown legal battle, city officials said yesterday.” 


And one pill makes you small... 


“Under the agreement, UC Berkeley would not pay the city more than it originally offered in January, and the city would drop its February lawsuit against the university...” 


And the ones that Mother gives you 

Don’t do anything at all... 


“The agreement...promises to end a conflict between the city and university that has peaked in the last few months.” 


Go ask Alice 

When she’s ten feet tall... 


“In February, the city sued the university, demanding that the university complete a more detailed environmental impact report of its plan, the 2020 Long Range Development Plan....Then in March, it billed the university for $1.8 million in back parking taxes. And last month, the council voted to charge the university an estimated $2.2 million annually for sewer service.” 


And if you go chasing rabbits 

And you know you’re going to fall... 


“The deal falls significantly short of the city’s previous monetary demands from the university. UC officials said in January that the city had asked in negotiations for $3 million to $5 million per year.” 


Tell ‘em a hookah-smoking caterpillar 

Has given you the call... 


“Instead, the city is planning to drop both its lawsuit and the bills it has approved in favor of receiving about a fourth of that amount.” 


Call Alice 

When she was just small. 


“ ‘I think most of the community who followed this will be scratching their heads and wondering,’ Spring said.” 

When the men on the chessboard 

Get up and tell you where to go... 


“Fred Collignon, a former councilmember and current UC Berkeley city and regional planning professor, said the university has a stronger hand in negotiations because it has been legally exempt from paying city taxes. ‘The city doesn’t have any particular leverage against the university, except that which can be generated through the state Assembly,’ Collignon said.” 


And you’ve just had some kind of mushroom 

And your mind is moving low... 


“The City Council tentatively approved the proposal in a closed-session meeting April 25...” 


Go ask Alice 

I think she’ll know. 


“Spring said the council has not stood up to the mayor, and will likely put up a united front when the deal is announced.” 


When logic and proportion 

Have fallen sloppy dead... 


“Collignon said the agreement would be good news for Berkeley as a whole because neither side could get what they want in court.” 


And the White Knight is talking backwards... 


“Spring...said Bates did not stand up for the city in negotiations, adding that the university did not make any major concessions on its development.” 


And the Red Queen’s off her head... 


“Councilmember Laurie Capitelli said in February that the university is “holding all of the cards.” 


Remember what the dormouse said... 


“I’m likely to be the only one who will say anything negative,” [Spring] said. “All the others will be glowing about it.” 


Feed your head, 

feed your head, 

feed your head... 


Too bad the City Council didn’t take the pill that made them larger... 


Sharon Hudson lives in the south campus area. Lyrics from “White Rabbit” by Jefferson Airplane. News from the Daily Californian, May 6, 2005.) 

Celebration of Old Roses at El Cerrito Community Center By JOHN McBRIDE Special to the Planet

Tuesday May 10, 2005

The 23rd annual Celebration of Old Roses will be held Sunday, May 15 from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the El Cerrito Community Center on Moeser at Ashbury. Sponsored by the Heritage Roses Group, the event is free. 

The center of the hall will be filled with cuttings of roses donated by members and guests, and sold for 25 cents a cutting at the end. Tables ranged around the hall will hold books, rose memorabilia (plates and hats painted or stenciled with roses), and foodstuffs such as rose jelly and honey gathered locally. Vendors such as Vintage Gardens (Sebastopol) will have potted roses; the celebration also features plants complementary to roses such the species geraniums (shown by Robin Parer) that root gracefully around roses. 

Miriam Wilkins, who has raised roses up the hill for the last half century, will conduct as usual the concluding raffle. 

Preceding the Celebration on Friday and Saturday is a conference “California’s Rose Heritage” (registration details: www.heritagerosefoundation.org). Attendance is expected to reach 200, with speakers from across the country. The focus of the conference will be the roses of California, beginning with the natives (Rosa Californica), proceeding through those of the mission era, and particularly those brought to the state during the Gold Rush and which now form a “rose lode” in the Sierra foothills. 

The mid-19th century represented a time of intense cross-breeding of roses. Around 1800 British and French explorers such as Robert Fortune and Joseph Banks, brought back from semi-tropical Asia, the “China” roses that re-bloomed. Until then, all roses in Europe flowered only in the spring, with only a slight repeat in the fall for a few rare types (Quatre Saisons). These tenderer roses from Asia introduced a radically different habit, foliage and palette (other-than-pink) into the European cultivars. 

The history and typology of roses is at least as complicated as that of wine. Consider the vast changes in the landscape of California wrought by Agoston Haraszthy, the Hungarian who imported batches of grapevines cuttings from all over Europe in the 1860s, and whom we have to thank for Zinfandel. Roses were imported, by ship, from the East and from Europe to such emporia as Shinn’s Nursery in Niles (Fremont); settlers carried cuttings across the continent: such treasures as species rose Harrison’s Yellow. These roses were planted in the Sierra foothills; as those towns declined, the roses were abandoned. 

Naturalized, they survive in odd corners of gardens and fields. One of the most curious is Fortune’s Yellow Double, also known as the San Rafael Rose or Gold of Ophir: a thorny tangle that can cover a shed or ascend a redwood, putting forthcoming a massive display of “golden amber flowers, burnished with rose red and copper.” Over the last 40 years these roses have been re-discovered and propagated, especially as developments threaten their habitat. 

Indeed, a movement of rose “rescuers” has sprung up to take cuttings or move plants if the bulldozers are approaching; in Texas, more boldly, they call themselves rose “rustlers.” Recently a party from the Heritage Rose Group went through Mare Island Naval Shipyard, and found many roses no longer in commerce. Even more unusual roses have been found in the Sierra foothills and the coastal range, in cemeteries, abandoned gardens and along the roads. A rose in point is Grandmother’s Hat which I have grown for the last 10 years. Miriam Wilkins recollects finding it as “Anna Wellman” fifty years ago on Richmond Ave. in El Cerrito in a garden where the houses were being demolished; Barbara Worl found the same rose in Palo Alto, and for some year it bore her name. It has been called Mrs. Sharman-Crawford, and then Cornet after being seen in a German garden by these two California ladies. Now it is the prolific and beloved Grandmother’s Hat, a heavily scented, pink hybrid perpetual of the 19th century, with a parentage yet to be discovered. Recently, I planted this shrub rose in the Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association garden on Durant Street where it will form part of an antique garden. 

Roses are far more than the “hybrid teas” of the mid-20th century: the meager and rather fussy “antler” plants, with fancy pointed buds of many petals and curious colors, roses that required much winter trimming and summer spraying. Roses are immensely diverse as to habit and cultivation: a major resource for a flowering and foliage landscape. This Sunday in El Cerrito, meet the intense amateurs and nursery-folk who cultivate this plant. 

UC Landscape Plan Wins Webby Award By STEVEN FINACOM Special to the Planet

Tuesday May 10, 2005

A planning document for the UC Berkeley campus has won an unusual accolade. The university’s Landscape Heritage Plan is receiving a Webby Award this year. Sometimes referred to as the “Oscars of the Internet,” the Webbys honor high quality and innovative website design. 

In each competition category, two Webby awards are given, one by a panel of judges and the other by a “People’s Voice” online vote open to the public for two weeks. The Landscape Heritage Plan received the “People’s Voice” Webby in the newly instituted “School/Education” competition category. 

The plan was developed by both UC Berkeley staff and a team of researchers and consultants organized by the San Francisco office of Sasaki Associates, a major private sector planning firm. The plan was put online for easy public access and the website, for which Cody Andresen of San Francisco was the lead designer, won the Webby. 

The Landscape Heritage Plan (LHP), finished in 2004, is one in a series of UC Berkeley planning documents, including the New Century Plan (NCP), which was the program statement for the recently adopted UC Berkeley Long Range Development Plan (LRDP). 

A third addition to this alphabet soup of acronyms was the Landscape Master Plan (LMP). The master plan spelled out a sequence of desirable landscape improvements for the campus. 

The Heritage Plan, supported with a grant from the Getty Foundation, went further, studying in detail the evolution of, and recommending historically appropriate improvements for, the historic landscape in the campus “Classical Core.” 

The character of these outdoor spaces, generally grouped around the University’s older stone buildings, evolved from the work of distinguished designers including Frederick Law Olmsted, John Gregg, John Galen Howard, and Thomas Church. 


The Landscape Heritage Plan can be seen at www.cp.berkeley.edu/lhp. A full list of Webby winners is at www.webbyawards.com. 

Eastenders Plots ‘A Knight’s Escape’ at Ashby Stage By KEN BULLOCK Special to the Planet

Tuesday May 10, 2005

Creed, the knight, is snapping photos of his therapist, Dr. Tulip, in a scene in A Knight’s Escape, by Eastenders Repertory now at the Ashby Stage. 

“Why did you do that?”—“It helps me to know who is truthful.”—“How is that working for you?”—“Good. It works.”—“But how?”—“No one can lie to the camera.” 

A Knight’s Escape, by the company’s founding Artistic Director Charles Polly, is alternating at the theater with Scott Munson’s WWJD? [What Would Jesus Do?], a burlesque morality play about the chairman of the Fed having a religious experience when thrown in with the poor. 

Introducing A Knight’s Escape , Susan Evans, Eastenders’ artistic director who directed WWJD?, remarked that it was a very different kind of play than Munson’s comedy. And A Knight’s Escape, though maybe more of a social morality play than WWJD? (subtitled “Some Good Old Medieval Morality Play Motor Oil”), is in form and development a departure—both for the company and its author. 

“Structurally, my other plays have been very linear, and mostly autobiographical,” says Charles Polly. “The Twyla Trilogy was about an Appalachian man, living in California with HIV, who goes back home. There’s a lot of the vernacular in it; it’s poetic, in that way.” 

A Knight’s Escape, about Creed, an agoraphobic photographer (!) who dreams he’s a knight—and is attacked by his friends in his dreams—is clearly a departure from autobiography, though there is still a character at the center, who, as Melville said of Hamlet, like a revolving beacon illuminates everything around. What’s around is a neighborhood with an interwoven web of others who are often not what they at first seem to be. 

Much of the humor of the play is deadpan. Creed, the phobic shutterbug, is alternately “shooting” with his camera and fleeing the connections with the outside world, which crop up in his dreams (where he finds himself really shooting—even at his friends—only to be congratulated by a pirouetting damsel-in-distress, oddly replaced by a fellow-in-distress). 

But some vignettes are really comic. Jenson Block (Susan Kendall), “a television journalist” with a very knowing smile, tells her “video diary” about the pivotal experience of her childhood, her reaction to Walter Cronkite breaking down in tears over the assassination of JFK: “It was as much about Cronkite as it was about Kennedy ... It was my first sexual experience—and also when I knew I wanted to be on television!” 

Much of the action is anything but linear, following different relationships between different characters in the neighborhood, and Creed’s psychic recycling of it all. The players are recycled too: Peter Matthews (Creed), Craig Dickerson (Joe Joe), Michaela Greeley (Dr. Tulip) and Sarah Korda (Marlene) all play major parts in WWJD? Of the others, Reg Clay (Dr. Tulip’s “tranquillized” son, rowdy Jonathan) and Susan Kendall are past Eastenders (Kendall a founding member), and David Stein (Creed’s friend Lesman, a journalist) an actor seen in local productions by Shotgun Players, Actors Ensemble and Subterranean Shakespeare. 

“Repertory Ensemble” is an accurate description of the Eastender process. 

The different scenes and vignettes gradually coalesce around Creed’s mounting hysteria, like magnetized iron filings. 

But they also mirror the collective panic that touches off Creed’s, and reaffirms it, and how media attention, gossip or even just idle concern over a person or situation can spiral out of control. The situations and characters pull in different ways. In exasperation Creed exclaims, “That’s what everybody says, ‘Trust me!’”  

Polly experiments with different modes from those of his previous plays. They, too, have a tendency to pull apart at some points. Sometimes there’s a little too much dream symbolism; in others, it verges on melodrama. The ending’s that of a morality play, though more like G. K. Chesterton than the medieval moralities WWJD? parodies. It loops back into the dream and its meanings. Even with its social message, the play’s relation to both reality and the fantastic element of dreams is often uncertain. At its best, it’s Manneristic, with multiple perspectives, as in dramatists from Shakespeare to Pinter. 

When you’re juggling, it’s hard to keep all the balls airbourne. But Charles Polly seems to be heading in new directions with A Knight’s Escape. It’s part of the evolution of a playwright and an ensemble repertory company. 

This is the last weekend coming up for both plays. The Eastenders discount the second show 25 percent for those audience members returning for more. 

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

BAHA Features LeConte Cottage Lecture By STEVEN FINACOM Special to the Planet

Tuesday May 10, 2005

The story of one of Berkeley’s most important early families, and the history of a National Landmark building in Yosemite built to honor one of the Sierra Club’s patriarchs, will be featured this Thursday evening, May 12, in the fourth lecture in the Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association’s monthly series, “Hidden Lodges of Berkeley and Beyond.” 

Bonnie Johanna Gisel, naturalist, historian, author, and curator of the LeConte Memorial Lodge is making a special trip to Berkeley to give the slide-illustrated talk. She will speak at 7:30 p.m. in the rustic Senior Hall on the UC campus, adjacent to the Faculty Club.  

Constructed just over a century ago by the Sierra Club to honor one of their most distinguished early leaders, UC Professor Joseph LeConte, LeConte Lodge on the floor of Yosemite Valley is a small but dramatic peak-roofed stone and timber building designed by Berkeleyan John White, brother-in-law of Bernard Maybeck. 

The lodge is operated by the Sierra Club as a public education center under Gisel’s curatorship. 

LeConte and John Muir came to know each other in part through mutual friendship with Jeanne Carr, wife the first professor of agriculture at the University of California and an avid naturalist and Sierra lover herself.  

Gisel has published a book on the correspondence between Muir and Carr, and has also recently researched the LeConte family origins in Georgia, taking their story back before their California days.  

The LeConte brothers, John and Joseph, came to Berkeley to join the faculty of the University of California soon after it was founded. Distinguished scientists in their native Georgia, they could not find academic employment in the Reconstruction South after the Civil War.  

California offered a fresh start. John LeConte, trained as a physician but primarily remembered as a physicist, became UC’s first faculty member and third president, while Joseph LeConte lent additional eminence to the faculty in geology and related disciplines. 

Several sites in Berkeley—including a street, a public school, an academic hall at the University—are named in honor of one or both of the LeConte brothers. 

In 1870 Joseph LeConte met John Muir in Yosemite. The two quickly became friends and LeConte was later to lend his scientific prestige in support of Muir’s theory that Yosemite had been formed in part by glacial action. Many geologists of LeConte’s time regarded the dramatic cliffs and canyons of that part of the Sierra as the product of sudden cataclysm, not slow moving natural forces. 

Seats are still available for the lecture, and are expected to be available at the door. Tickets are $10 per person ($6 for full-time students). To reserve your seat in advance, call BAHA at (841-2242) or visit the BAHA website at www.berkeleyheritage.com. Click on the photo of the log-cabin-like Senior Hall. 

The full “Hidden Lodges” lecture series was described in the Daily Planet’s Feb.4 edition. 

Arts Calendar

Tuesday May 10, 2005



Asra Nomani describes “Standing Alone in Mecca: An American Woman’s Struggle for the Soul of Islam” at 7:30 p.m. at First Congregational Church, 2345 Channing Way. Suggested donation $10. Sponsored by Cody’s Books. 845-7852. www.codysbooks.com 

Arthur Asa Berger introduces “The Kabbalah Killings: A Murder Mystery Introduction to Jewish Mysticism” at 7:30 p.m. at the BRJCC, 1414 Walnut St. 848-0237. 

Kai Bird and Martin Sherwin introduce “American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer” at 7:30 p.m. at Cody’s Books. 845-7852. www.codysbooks.com 

PEN West’s Annual Translation Event with Robert Alter, Robert Goldman and H. Mack Horton at 7:30 p.m. at Black Oak Books. 486-0698. www.blackoakbooks.com 


Berkeley Symphony Orchestra “Manzanar: An American Story” at 8 p.m. at Zellerbach Hall, UC Campus. Pre-concert talk at 7 p.m. Tickets are $22-$49. 841-2800. www.berkeleysymphony.org 

Pacific Brass Quintet at 8 p.m. at Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant Ave. Tickets are $20. 525-5211.  

Tom Rigney & Flambeau at 8:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cajun dance lesson at 8 p.m. Cost is $9. 525-5054.  

The Strawbs at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $20.50- $21.50. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 

Mike Lipskin at 8 p.m. at Downtown. 649-3810. 

Adam Evolve, Jon Roniger, americana, at 9:30 p.m. at The Stork Club, 2330 Telegraph Ave., Oakland. Tickets are $5. 444-6174.  

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

Will Bernard Trio at 8 and 10 p.m. Yoshi’s at Jack London Square. Cost is $6-$10. 238-9200. www.yoshis.com 



Medea Benjamin talks about “Stop the Next War Now: Effective Responses to Violence and Terrorism” at 7:30 p.m. at Cody’s Books. 845-7852. www.codysbooks.com 

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

Café Poetry with Kira Allen at 7:30 p.m. at La Peña. Donation $2. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 


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

Berkeley Opera “Macbeth” by Verdi, with the UC Alumni Chorus at 7:30 p.m. at Julia Morgan Theater. Tickets are $15-$40. 841-1903. www.berkeleyopera.org 

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

Anthony Paul & Mz Dee at 9 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Swing dance lesson with Nick & Shanna at 8 p.m. Cost is $9. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

ThaMuseMeant and Baby Gramps, ballads and progressive folk, at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $16.50-$17.50. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 

SomethingFour at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 848-8277. 

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



“Homecoming” a mini-retrospective of the work of Kay Sekimachi and Bob Stockdale. Informal talk at 5 p.m. Reception at 6 p.m. at ACCI Gallery, 1652 Shattuck Ave. 843-2527. www.accigallery.com 

“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. Reception from 6 to 8 p.m. 620-0290. www.niadart.org 

Matrix 214: Slater Bradley “The Year of the Doppelganger” Curator’s Talk with Heidi Zuckerman Jacobson at 12:15 p.m. at Berkeley Art Museum, 2625 Durant Ave. 642-0808. www.bampfa.berkeley.edu 

“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. www.bampfa.berkeley.edu 


Susan Wheeler reads from her new novel “Record Palace” at 7:30 p.m. at Black Oak Books. 486-0698. www.blackoakbooks.com 

“The Fleischmann Yeast Family” with author P. Christiaan Klieger at 1:30 p.m. at the Oakland Museum of California, 10th and Oak Sts. 238-2200. www.museumca.org 

“Light and Shadow: Civic Space, Sacred Space” with Craig W. Hartman on the award winning design for the Cathedral of Christ the Light, Oakland, at 7:30 p.m. at the Oakland Museum of California, 10th and Oak Sts. Cost is $4-$8. 238-2200. www.museumca.org 

Steven Johnson describes “Everything Bad is Good for You: How Today’s Popular Culture is Actually Making Us Smarter” at 7:30 p.m. at Cody’s Books. 845-7852. www.codysbooks.com 

Mark Nowak reads from his new book of poetry “Shut Up Shut Down” and discusses his relationship between writing an labor organizing at 7 p.m. at AK Press Warehouse, 674A 23rd St., Oakland. 208-1700. www.akpress.org 


“Jazz Night” with the MLK Jr. Middle School Jazz Band, The Heptet Jazz Ensemble and the Potential Jazz Ensemble, and featuring the premiere of Nathan Kersy-Wilson’s “Mr. Hochata” at 7 p.m. at Marting Luther King Jr. Middle School Auditorium, 1781 Rose St. at Grant. Fundraiser for the Band. 981-7532. 644-6280. 

Oakland Opera Theater, “White Darkness” at 8 p.m. Thurs.-Sat. Sun. at 2 p.m. at Oakland Metro, 201 Broadway at Second St., through May 22. Tickets are $18-$32. www.oaklandopera.org 

Classical Trumpet Concert with James Tinsley at 12:15 p.m. at the Berkeley Public Library, 2090 Kittredge at Shattuck. 981-6235.  

G.Q. Wang, tenor, and Jacqueline Anderson, soprano, accompanied on the piano by Debbie Golata, at 7:30 p.m. at Northbrae Community Church Sanctuary, 941 The Alameda. Donation $15. 526-3805.  

Free Peoples with David Gans at 9:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $10. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

Austin Willacy at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $16.50-$17.50. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 

Fred Frith, Toychestra at 9:30 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $10. 841-2082.  


Peter Barshay and Murray Low at 8 p.m. at Downtown. 649-3810. 

Piano Music by Tim Ross and Jack Kruscup, Thurs. and Fri. at 5 p.m. at the Kerr Dining Room, Faculty Club, UC Campus. Early Bird specials at $13.99. For reservations 540-5678. www.berkeleyfacultyclub.com 

Roy Hargrove Quintet at 8 and 10 p.m. at Yoshi’s at Jack London Square, through Sun. Cost is $15-$26. 238-9200. www.yoshis.com 

Pete Madsen, acoustic guitar, at 7 p.m. at Caffe Trieste, 2500 San Pablo Ave. 548-5198.  

Lithium at 9 p.m. at Cafe Van Kleef, 1621 Telegraph Ave., Oakland. Cost is $5. 763-7711. www.cafevankleef.com  



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. 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. 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 

Masquers Playhouse “Memorial Day” about the conflicts of a Vietnam veteran, Fri. and Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 2:30 p.m. at 105 Park Place, Pt. Richmond. Tickets are $10. 232-4031. www.masquers.org 


“The Sketchbook Show” An exhibition of sketchbooks that gives a unique look into the thoughts, writings, inspirations and works in progress of various Bay Area artists. Reception at 7 p.m. at Boontling Gallery, 4224 Telegraph Ave., Oakland. Exhibition runs to June 12. www.4leagueindustries.com 


Isabel Allende tells the tale of “Zorro” at 7:30 p.m. at Cody’s Books. Also for young readers. 845-7852. www.codysbooks.com 

By the Light of the Moon open mic for women at 7:30 p.m. at Changemakers, 6536 Telegraph Ave. 655-2405. 


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 

Oakland Opera Theater, “White Darkness” at 8 p.m. Thurs.-Sat. Sun. at 2 p.m. at Oakland Metro, 201 Broadway at Second St., through May 22. Tickets are $18-$32. www.oaklandopera.org 

Women’s Antique Vocal Ensemble, “Sanctuary” a concert of devotional music from the 13th-century at 8 p.m. at Lake Merritt United Methodist Church, 1330 Lakeshore Ave., Oakland. Tickets are $5-$10. 233-4243. www.wavewomen.org  

“Undergrowth” by Pappas and Dancers at 8 p.m. Fri. and Sat., interactive family matinee Sun. at 2 p.m. at Temescal Arts Center, 511 48th St. at Telegraph, Oakland. Tickets are $10. 599-2325. 

Billy Tipton Memorial Sazophone Quartet at 8 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $15. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

Vince Wallace Quintet at 9 p.m. at Cafe Van Kleef, 1621 Telegraph Ave., Oakland. Cost is $5. 763-7711. www.cafevankleef.com  

Square Dance with The Rays at Ashkenaz. Family dance at 7 p.m., square dance at 9 p.m. Cost is $13-$15. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

Jill Knight with Jeri Jones at 8 p.m. at Caffe Trieste, 2500 San Pablo Ave. 548-5198.  

Los Cenzontles at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $18.50-$19.50. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 

Orixa, 40 Watt Hype at 9:30 at Blakes on Telegraph. Cost is $6-$8. 848-0886. www.blakesontelegraph.com 

Mamapalooza SF, Kami Nixon, Amee Chapman at 9:30 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $10. 841-2082. www.starryploughpub.com 

Vicki Burns Quartet at 9 p.m. at Downtown. 649-3810. 

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

Midnite, reggae from the Virgin Islands, at 9 p.m. at Shattuck Down Low, 2284 Shattuck Ave. Cost is $25. 548-1159. www.shattuckdownlow.com 

Joe Bob Berkeley at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 848-8277. 

The Hellbellies, The Eddie Haskells, Botox Aftermath at 8 p.m. at 924 Gilman St., an all-ages, member-run, no alcohol, no drugs, no violence club. Cost is $5. 525-9926. 

Roy Hargrove Quintet at 8 and 10 p.m. at Yoshi’s at Jack London Square, through Sun. Cost is $15-$26. 238-9200. www.yoshis.com 



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


“Tilden Inspirations” paintings by Sheila Sondik at the Tilden Environmental Education Center, Tilden Park. Reception for the artist and demonstration at 2:30 p.m. 525-2233. 

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

“Drawn by the Brush: Oil Sketches of Peter Paul Rubens” sign-language-interpreted tour at 11 a.m. at Berkeley Art Museum, 2625 Durant Ave. 642-0808. www.bampfa.berkeley.edu 

“FinnArt” Art by Finns/Art Inspired by Finland A visual arts exhibition Sat. and Sun. from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Finnish Kaleva Hall, 1970 Chestnut, at University. Children’s activities and slide talks at 2 and 3:30 p.m. 848-1525.  

Dutch Boy Studios 2005 Spring Exhibition featuring the work of twenty resident artists, working in a diverse variety of media. Reception at 7 p.m. at 4701 San Leandro St., Oakland. 534-4751. 

Innersport Spring Art Show with work by Scott Courtenay-Smith, Sally Kiehn and Nita Moreno. Reception at 7 p.m. at 1250 Addison St., #102. www.innersport.com 


Robert Hass, California Poet Laureate, reads from from “The Addison Street Anthology,” and performances by Mexican folk dancers, Sol Mejica, from 7 to 9 p.m. at The 1870 Antonio Peralta House, 2465 34th Ave., Oakland. 532-9142. 

Maria Amparo Escandon reads from her new novel “González & Daughter Trucking Co.” at 7:30 p.m. at Cody’s Books. 845-7852.  

Almudena Ortiz will talk about her show of photographs of farmworkers at 2 p.m. at the Berkeley Public Library Community Room, 2090 Kittredge at Shattuck. 981-6235.  

Artist Talk with Jon Brumit on his collaboration with strangers in “Door to Door” at 3 p.m. at Richmond Art Center, 2540 Barrett Ave., Richmond. 620-6772. www.therichmondartcenter.org 


Calvin Keys & Trio at 7 p.m. for the Grand Opening of Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. 841-JAZZ. www.AnnasJazzIsland.com 

Sacred & Profane, “Northern Lights” traditional and contemporary Swedish music for choir, at 8 p.m. at St. Ambrose Church, 1145 Gilman St. Tickets are $12-$18. 524-3611. www.sacredprofane.org 

Trinity Chamber Concerts “Quinteto Latino” at 8 p.m. at Trinity Chapel, 2320 Dana St. Tickets are $8-$12. 549-3864. http://trinitychamberconcerts.com 

Four Seasons Concerts “W. Hazaiah Williams Memorial Concert” at 7:30 p.m. at Calvin Simmons Theater, 10 Tenth St. at Oak. Free. 601-7919. www.fourseasonsconcerts.com 

Rhythm & Muse with with jazz pianist Rudi Mwongozi at 7 p.m. at Berkeley Art Center. Free. 527-9753. 

Voci Women’s Vocal Ensemble “Listen to the Elements: Music of Earth, Water, Air, and Fire,” at 3 p.m. at Lake Merritt United Methodist Church, 1330 Lakeshore Ave., Oakland. Tickets are $15-$20. Children under 12 free. 531-8714. www.coolcommunity.org/voci  

Baroque Etcetera “German Greats” at 8 p.m. at Zion Lutheran Church, 5201 Park Blvd., Oakland. Suggested Donation $10. 540-8222. www.baroquetc.org  

Allegro Ballroom Dancers at 8 p.m. at 5855 Christie Ave., Emeryville. Fundraiser to fight breast cancer. Tickets are $20-$100. For reservations call 655-2888. 

Zydeco Flames at 9 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cajun dance lesson with Dana De Simone at 8 p.m. Cost is $10. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

Pachucada with Dr. Loco Rockin’ Jalapeño Band at 9 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $10, $7 with costume. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

Larry Newman & Meli at 7:30 p.m. at Nomad Cafe, 6500 Shattuck Ave. 595-5344. www.nomadcafe.net 

Girl Talk at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 848-8277. 

Steve Seskin with Nina Gerber at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $18.50-$19.50. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 

Jah Warrior Shelter with Luna Angel and Moese at 9 p.m. at Club Oasis, 135 12th St., Oakland. 763-0404. 

Pyeng Threadgill, Jazz singer-songwriter at 8 p.m. at Studio Rasa, 933 Parker St. Cost is $10-$30. 843-2787. 

Kurt Ribak Jazz Quartet at 9:30 p.m. at Albatross, 1822 San Pablo Ave. Cost is $3. 843-2473. www.albatrosspub.com 

The Back Court, Serendipity, The Ghostt at 9 p.m. at Blakes on Telegraph. Cost is $8-$10. 848-0886. www.blakesontelegraph.com 

Art Khu Trio at 8 p.m. at the Jazzschool. Cost is $15. 845-5373. www.jazzschool.com  

Marcus Selby Trio at 9 p.m. at Downtown. 649-3810. 

The Junes, The Shut-Ins at 9:30 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $6. 841-2082. www.starryploughpub.com 

Omar Ait Vimon & Daniel Torres, Berber Flamenco roots at 7 p.m. at Spuds, 3290 Adeline Ave. Cost is $7. 597-0795. 

Punk Prom Night with Two Gallants, Jason Webley, This Is My Fist 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.

Malcolm X Students Sing Praises of New Oak Tree By RON SULLIVAN Special to the Planet

Tuesday May 10, 2005

Students, faculty, and parents at Berkeley’s Malcolm X Elementary School welcomed a new dendro-American citizen to our town in a brief ceremony Friday morning, April 29, National Arbor Day. A 35-foot northern red oak had been planted in the schoolyard to replace a senior elm, removed because it was dying. 

The new oak, already planted and guy-wired in place, was just beginning to unfurl its leaves. This had been a matter of some suspense, as the tree had been trucked here from its native field in British Columbia; the rigors of transport, especially wind, can dehydrate a plant in full leaf to the point of injury or death. But the tree cooperated, and the nurseryfolk pulled it all off skillfully—no small feat, moving a plant that weighs as much as a elephant, with a delicate rootball and a weird center of gravity. 

Malcolm X student Lowell Berry commanded everyone’s attention by opening the ceremony with a saxophone solo of the “Ode to Joy.” Principal Cheryl Chinn and Tony Rossman, a parent of two Malcolm X students, welcomed the crowd and told a little of the history of Arbor Day. Robert Trachtenberg, who had organized the purchase of the tree, spoke of its individual and species life history and its journey to Berkeley. He elicited the promise of the students not to climb the tree while it’s young and fragile, and told them a little about its life and trees in general. 

Second-grade students Rose Trachtenberg, Celia Bolgatz, Louisa Mascuch, Josephine Thornton, Alice Rossmann, and Molly Rossmann read Joyce Kilmer’s anthemic tree poem (“I think that I shall never see/ A poem as lovely as a tree…”) in chorus. After the recitation and remarks and thanks, a practical connection: students and others lined up with paper cups to pour a little water flavored with fertilizer onto the tree. Mr. Berry closed the ceremony with another sax solo, of the Beatles’ “Yellow Submarine.” 

Student Hileena Engedasow told me about how much she’d loved the late elm, and how sad she was that it was gone. Several classmated chivvied her about that—“Well what if a big branch fell off on your head?”—and she agreed that the new oak was a nice tree too, and welcomed it earnestly. 

The immigrant from Canada is a descendant of more easterly ancestors: the species, Quercus ruber, has a home range from southeast Canada to the midwestern United States. Assuming that the Canadian wholesale nursery got the identification right—and that’s harder than you might think, as oaks hybridize freely and have lots of individual differences besides—the seed of that tree itself was an immigrant to its British Columbia field. 

Northern red oak is a title the species came to after a sort of taxonomic winnowing process, according to Donald Culross Peattie, doyen of tree writers. “Lumbermen used to recognize only two sorts of Oaks—‘White’ and ‘Red’—from the color of their respective woods.” Over the years, as the preferred “white” species of oak were overharvested and their lumber became scarce, lumbermen had to become both more discriminating and more adaptable, and came to appreciate the several biological taxa of oaks and name them more accurately. 

Northern red oak grows fast, and like most fast-growing trees, has relatively light, porous wood. But it’s still oak, and with the right processing has been used for railroad ties and building material. Its branch angles are broad enough to dispose it to sturdiness as it grows. 

Its favored use is in landscaping, since its form is stately and graceful and its foliage handsome. It has a ruddy glow in autumn, and smooth bark. It’s been widely used in Europe since the late seventeenth century, one of the early strictly ornamental plants from North America to be imported there. 

The species isn’t known to be invasive, shallow-rooted, or prone to self-pruning, and has a long and widespread track record. It will be some years before this fellow starts supplying acorns for the local jay and squirrel interest groups, but its shade and dynamic beauty are already making it an asset to the neighborhood. Perhaps it should have a name. What do you think, Malcolm X students?›

Berkeley This Week

Tuesday May 10, 2005


Morning Bird Walk Meet at 7 am. opposite the Pony Ride, Tilden Park, for a walk up the Gorge Trail. 525-2233. 

Tuesday Tilden Walkers Join a few slowpoke seniors at 9:30 a.m. in the parking lot near the Little Farm for an hour or two walk. In case of questionable weather, call around 8 a.m. 215-7672. 

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. 

Small Business Class “Writing an Effective Business Plan” from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Berkeley Public Library, Community Room, 2090 Kittredge St. Sponsored by the Small Business Network. Free but registration required. 981-6148. 

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 

Berkeley Camera Club meets at 7:30 p.m., at the Northbrae Community Church, 941 The Alameda. Share your digital images, slides and prints. 548-3991. www.berkeleycameraclub.org 

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


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

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

Balinese Music & Dance Workshops Wed. evenings through June 8 at 7:30 p.m. in El Cerrito. Cost is $60 for all five classes, $15 per class. Registration required. 6485 Conlon Ave., El Cerrito. 237-6849. www.gsj.org 

“Mysterious Neighbors: The Chinese, The Japanese and The Jews in the SF Bay Area from the Gold Rush to the Present” with Fred Rosenbaum. Brown bag lunch at 11:30 a.m. at BRJCC, 1414 Walnut St. Cost is $5. 848-0237. www.brjcc.org 

May Day in Caracas 2005, a multi-media report back at 7:30 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $5-$15. 849-2568.  

Poetry Writing Workshop with Alison Seevak at 7 p.m. at the Albany Library, 1247 Marin Ave. 526-3720. 

Study Skills and Organization Workshop for Teens at 7 p.m. at Classroom Matters, 2607 7th Street, Suite E. Free. 540-8646. www.classroommatters.com 

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

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


Hidden Lodges of Berkeley An illustrated lecture on the Le Conte Memorial Lodge in Yosemite, with Bonnie Johanna Gisel, Le Conte Lodge Curator, at 7:30 p.m. at Senior Hall, UC Campus. Cost is $10. 841-2241. www.berkeleyheritage.com 

Water Transit in Berkeley A joint workshop with the Berkeley Transportation and Waterfront Commissions and the SF Bay Water Transit Authority at 7:30 p.m. at the North Berkeley Senior Center. 981-7010. 

West Campus Site Planning Meeting to review the Draft Master Plan at 7 p.m. in the cafeteria, 1222 University Ave. For information call 644-6066. www.berkeley.k12.ca.us 

Berkeley Community Gardening Collaborative Presentation by Malaika Edwards, from the People’s Grocery, in Oakland, at 6:30 p.m. at the Ecology Center, 2530 San Pablo Ave. 548-2220, ext. 233. 

“Playing Around in the Amazon Jungle” with Renata Meirelles and David Reeks on children’s culture in the Brazilian Amazon at 7:30 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center, 3105 Shattuck Ave. Cost is $-$10 sliding scale. Children welcome. 849-2568.  

Grizzly Peak Flyfishers meets at 7 p.m at the Kensington Community Center, 59 Arlington Ave., with Rachel Andras, a Redding-based guide and fly fishing instructor, on fishing the upper Sacramento River and other Northern California waters. 547-8629. 

Hiring and Working with Green Professionals Make the right decision when choosing an architect or builder. From 7 to 9 p.m. at Builders Booksource, 1817 Fourth St. Free, but registration required. 845-5106, ext. 230. www.build-green.org 


City Commons Club Noon Luncheon with Robert A. Uhrhammer on “Tsunami/ 

Hayward” Luncheon at 11:45 a.m. for $13, speech at 12:30 p.m., at the Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant St. 526-2925.  

Farewell to El Cerrito High School “Before the Wrecking Ball Hits the Wall” A weekend celebration including a last school dance and archiving project. All school alumni are welcome. Bring your memories and school momentos. 233-7731. 

Health, Wellness and Spirituality through Ancient Teachings with Dr. Ra Un Nefer Amen at 7 p.m. at 5272 Foothill Blvd., Oakland. Also on Sat. at 12:30 p.m. Cost is $5.50. 533-5306. 

“She is Everywhere” an anthology of feminist writings with editor Lucia Chiavola at 11 a.m. at Belladonna, 2436 Sacramento St. 883-0600.  

Modern Mystic Poetry at 7 p.m. at Vara Healing Arts, 850 Talbot, Albany. 526-9642. 

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

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


Healthy Kids Day and Bike Day at the Saturday Berkeley Farmer’s Market, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Center St. at MLK Jr. Way. 548-3333.  

Mind Your Health A Mental Health open house sponsored by the Berkeley/Albany Mental Health Commission from 2 to 6 p.m. at the North Berkeley Senior Center. Activities for children. 649-4965, ext. 308. 

Health in Your World, Family Festival from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Hall of Health, 2230 Shattuck Ave. For children ages 5-12 and their parents. 549-1564.  

Kids Day for Health and Safety from noon to 3 p.m. at the Atrium Plaza Bldg., 828 San Pablo Ave., Albany. 

Blessing of the Animals at 2 p.m. on the Front Lawn of the First Presbyterian Church of Oakland, 2619 Broadway. Please have pets on leash or in a carrier. 444-3555.  

Buddha’s Birthday Celebration with traditional hand-made Lotus Lanterns, chanting, pot luck lunch. Please arrive by 9:30 a.m. Sixth Ancestor Zen Center, 2584 Martin Luther King Jr. Way. 486-1762.  

Mini-Farmers in Tilden A farm exploration program, from 10 to 11 a.m. for ages 4-6, accompanied by an adult. We will explore the Little Farm, care for animals, do crafts and farm chores. Wear boots and dress to get dirty! Fee is $3-$5. Registration required. 525-2233. 

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

Tilden Park Hike of Two Peaks and Lake Meet at 10 a.m. at the Island parking lot near the Brazilian Bldg. on Wildcat Canyon Rd. Hike lasts about 6 hours and includes steep trails, wear sturdy shoes, bring lunch, water, and $1.50 for steam train ride. Sponsored by The Solo Sierrans. 925-691-6303.  

Walking Tour of Old Oakland around Preservation Park to see Victorian architecture. Meet at 10 a.m. in front of Preservation Park at 13th St. and MLK, Jr. Way. Tour lasts 90 minutes. For reservations call 238-3234.  

Botanic Garden Field Journal Learn how to design and create a journal and work outdoors. From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Visitor Center, Tilden Park. For details and costs call 841-8732. www.nativeplants.org 

Celebrate Elephants at the Oakland Zoo from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Donations to Amboseli Elephant Research Camp. 632-9525. www.oaklandzoo.org 

Biodiesel Fuel Making A two-day workshop to learn how to make a small-scale biodiesel processor. From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sat. and Sun. at the Ecology Center, 2530 San Pablo Ave. Cost is $40-$100, not including materials. 548-2220, ext. 233. 

Green Home Systems Explore your home’s systems and how they work, how to operate them, how to test them, and what basic improvements can be made. From 9 a.m. to noon at Truitt and White, 1817 2nd St. Free, but registration required. 845-5106, ext. 230.  

Friends of the Albany Library Book Sale Sat. from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sun. from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Most items are $1 or less and include children’s books, recent fiction, paperbacks. To volunteer call 526-3720, ext. 5. rdavis@aclibrary.org 

Sidewalk Gift Shop Sale from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at North Berkeley Senior Center. 

Uhuru’s “Antique Road Show” Sat. and Sun. from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 3742 Grand Ave., Oakland. Bring in the heirloom from your attic for a professional appraisal for $10. Benefits the African People’s Education and Defense Fund. 763-3342.  

Child Car Seat Check with the Berkeley Police Dept. from 10 a.m. to noon at the UC Garage on Addison at Oxford. 647-1111. www.habitot.org 

Self Defense for Sons & 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. 

Fingerprinting for Children from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Habitot, 2065 Kittredge St. Sponsored by Sen. Don Perata’s office. Cost is $5-$6. 647-1111. www.habitot.org 

“Come Spot Come” dog training from 11 a.m. to noon at RabbitEars, 303 Arlington Ave., Kensington. Cost is $35. Reservations required. 525-6155. 

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

Know Your Rights Training from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Berkeley CopWatch, 2022 Blake St. Free. 548-0425. 

The Great War Society monthly meeting at 10:30 a.m. at 640 Arlington Ave. The topics will be “The Great White Fleet” by Michael Hanlon and “The Role of Propaganda” by Robert Denison. 525-3742. 

Sistaz N Motion Membership Drive and Mixer at noon at the Richmond Public Library, 325 Civic Center Plaza, Richmond. 925-439-1612. 

Free Emergency Preparedness Class in Responding to Terrorism from 9 a.m. to noon at 2100 Martin Luther King Jr. Way. To sign up call 981-5605. www.ci. 



Jazz on 4th St. Festival from noon to 5:30 p.m., between Hearst and Virginia. Free musical performances and street merchants. 

Celebration of Old Roses from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the El Cerrito Community Center on Moeser Lane at Ashbury, El Cerrito. Come see the oldest of the roses, Old European Roses, and repeat bloomers. Plants, books, rose oil, rose jam and much more. Free, wheelchair accessible.  

Basket Weaving Learn the history of local materials and how they were used to weave baskets, from 11 a.m. to noon at Tilden Nature Center. For ages 7 to 11. Materials fee $3. 525-2233. 

Blossoming Mosaics Learn how to make pictures of your favorite flowers using recycled ceramics. From 1 to 3:30 p.m. at Tilden Nature Center, Tilden Park. For ages 12 and up. Materials fee $16. Registration required. 636-1684. 

Bay-Friendly Garden Tour A free, one-day, self-guided tour of over 30 private and public gardens throughout Alameda County from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. 614-1699. www.bayfriendly.org 

Native Plant Sale at the Watershed Nursery from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 155 Tamalpais Rd. Bring boxes and tarps to carry your purchases home. Cash or check only. 548-4714. www.TheWatershedNursery.com  

Berkeley Historical Society Walking Tour Around the World in 80 Minutes: a docent-led tour of the UC Botanical Gardens at 10 a.m. Cost is $8-$10. 848-0181.  

Oakland Historic Houses: The 1870 Antonio Peralta House open from noon to 5 p.m. at 2465 34th St., Oakland. Donations accepted. 532-9142. 

Family Bike Ride A 2.9 mile, flat ride around the Marina. Meet at parking lot across from Shorebird Nature Center at 10 a.m. with your bike, helmet, lunch and water. www.bfbc.org  

Hands-on Bike Maintenance Learn how to perform basic repairs from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at REI, 1338 San Pablo Ave. Cost is $85-$100. 527-4140. 

Bike Tour of Oakland Learn about the history of Oakland and its visionaries and scoundrels. Meet at 10 a.m. at the 10th St. entrance to the Oakland Museum for a leisurely two-hour ride of about five miles. Reservations are required. Participants must be over twelve years old and provide their own bikes, helmets and repair kits. 238-3514. 

Physical Theater for the Whole Family from 1 to 3 p.m. at The Nevo Education Center, 2071 Addison St. Free, but bring a book for the library at John Muir Elementary. Sponsored by Target and Berkeley Rep. 647-2972.  

Berkeley Cybersalon meets to discuss “Technology Export -- Boon or Bane?” from 6 to 8 p.m. Hillside Club, 2286 Cedar St. Donation $10. Wheelchair accessible. 527-0450. 

Fundraiser for the Alameda County Food Bank at 4 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center, 3105 Shattuck Ave. Cost is $6. Bring non-perishable food to donate. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

“Quantum Phenomena and Ancient Wisdom Traditions” with Cornelia Jarica at 1 p.m. at Humanist Hall, 390 27th St., Oakland. Donation $15. HumaistHall@yahoo.com 

“Putting an End to Obesity” with Ed Bauman, Director of Bauman College at 10 a.m. at Elephant Pharmacy, 1607 Shattuck Ave. at Cedar. 549-9200. 

“Love in Various Times and Cultures” with Ann Swindler and Paul Feinstein at 10:30 a.m. at BRJCC, 1414 Walnut St. 848-0237. www.brjcc.org 

“Hiding and Seeking - Faith and Tolerance after the Holocaust” a film followed by facilitated discussion at 2 p.m. at the BRJCC, 1414 Walnut St. Donation $5. 848-0237.  

Uhuru Sidewalk Sale and Raffle “ from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at 3742 Grand Ave., Oakland. Benefits African People’s Education and Defense Fund. 763-3342. 

Crisis Support Services Day from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Golden Gate Fields, 1100 Eastshore Freeway, off Highway 80 at Gilman St. Exit. 420-2472.  

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

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

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 

“The Faith of a Transylvania Minister” with Csaba Todor at 9:30 a.m. at Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley, 1 Lawson Rd., Kensington. 525-0302. 

Tibetan Buddhism with Mark Henderson on “The Birth of Shakyamuni Buddha” at 6 p.m. at the Tibetan Nyingma Institute, 1815 Highland Pl. 843-6812. www.nyingmainstitute.com 


City Council meets Tues., May 10, at 7 p.m in City Council Chambers. 981-6900. www. 


Commission on the Status of Women meets Wed., May 11, at 7:30 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center. Tasha Tervelon, 981-5347. www.ci.ber 


Commission on Disability meets Wed., May 11, at 6:30 p.m. at the North Berkeley Senior Center. Don Brown, 981-6346. TDD: 981-6345. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/commissions/disability 

Planning Commission meets Wed., May 11, at 7 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center. Janet Homrighausen, 981-7484. www.ci.berkeley. ca.us/commissions/planning 

Police Review Commission meets Wed., May 11 at the South Berkeley Senior Center, 981-4950. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/ 


Library Board of Trustees meets Wed. May 11, at 7 p.m. at South Berkeley Senior Center, Jackie Y. Griffin, 981-6195. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/commissions/library 

Waterfront Commission meets Wed., May 11, at 7 p.m., at 201 University Ave. Cliff Marchetti, 981-6740. www.ci.berkeley. 


Commission on Early Childhood Education meets Thurs., May 12, at 7 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center. Angellique De Cloud, 981-5428. www.ci.ber 

keley. ca.us/commissions/earlychildhoodeducation  

Community Health Commission meets Thurs., May 12, at 6:45 p.m., at the South Berkeley Senior Center. William Rogers, 981-5344. www.ci.ber- 


Community Health Commission meets Thurs., May 12, at 6:45 p.m., at the South Berkeley Senior Center. William Rogers, 981-5344. www.ci.ber- 


West Berkeley Project Area Commission meets Thurs., May 12, at 7 p.m., at the West Berkeley Senior Center. Iris Starr, 981-7520. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/ 


Zoning Adjustments Board meets Thurs., May 12, at 7 p.m., in City Council Chambers. Mark Rhoades, 981-7410. www.ci.ber 


Teachers Vote to Extend Work Action By J. DOUGLAS ALLEN-TAYLOR

Friday May 06, 2005

With no end in sight to either the impasse in contract negotiations or the ongoing work-to-rule action, Berkeley teachers held an hour long demonstration in front of the Berkeley Unified School Administration Building Tuesday afternoon. 

Some 300 teachers and their supporters participated, many stretching in a solid line on the west side of Martin Luther King Jr. Way from the Public Safety Building to the bail bond office across Allston Way. 

A line of children stood on the Old City Hall steps, each holding a placard with letters that collectively spelled out “FAIR CONTRACT NOW.” Demonstrators blew whistles, chanted, and waved at passing motorists with signs that ranged from “Don’t Cut My Benefits And Call It A Pay Raise,” “$3,000,000 New To BUSD And Teachers Are Supposed To Take A Pay Cut?” and “Honk For Berkeley Teachers.” Many motorists honked in support. 

If the protracted contract dispute is wearing down the will of teachers, it didn’t show during the demonstration. Demonstrators smiled, joked and chatted with each other, and appeared decidedly upbeat. 

Members of the Berkeley Federation of Teachers have been working without a new contract for two years, and contract negotiations with district representatives are currently being handled through a state-appointed mediator. 

Since late February, many teachers have been conducting a work-to-rule slowdown in the district’s schools, refusing to do any non-compensated activity past their contracted work hours. 

Meanwhile, Berkeley Federation of Teachers president Barry Fike announced that teachers’ union members voted overwhelmingly this week to continue their work-to-rule action against his recommendation. 

Fike said that 70 percent of union members voted for the job action in a survey conducted by the union’s Executive Committee. He said 17 percent voted to continue work-to-rule in modified form, and 13 percent voted to end it. 

“I was very surprised by the vote,” Fike said. “The original purpose of work-to-rule when it was started two months ago was two-pronged: to raise awareness of our contract dispute, and to apply pressure on the district. I think it has served its purpose. As soon as we started work-to-rule, there was a remarkably different attitude and preparation for the mediation talks shown by the district administration. That was the first time real dollar concessions showed up on the table. Unfortunately, work-to-rule hasn’t had enough of an impact to bring about enough concessions for a contract agreement.” 

Fike said that he thought continuation of work-to-rule “was distracting us from what we need to prepare for a possible strike,” which he said could happen in the fall if negotiations ultimately break down. 

“I argued pretty strongly to end work-to-rule,” he said, “but this is a democratic organization, and we will follow the will of our members.” 

Another mediation session between the BUSD administration and BFT representatives is scheduled for Monday. Fike said work-to-rule could be rescinded by the union if there is significant progress in that session, but if not it is likely that the action will continue through the end of the school year.›

Restoration or Destruction for Willard Middle School Mural By J. DOUGLAS ALLEN-TAYLOR

Friday May 06, 2005

Eight years ago, in an act that Willard Middle School Vice Principal Thomas Orput calls a “total fiasco,” the Berkeley Unified School District painted over the Telegraph Avenue mural on the school gymnasium’s outside wall without contacting the artists. 

At the time, it was the largest mural in Berkeley, and only a small portion was able to be saved after community protests flooded the school district. 

This spring, the school must make a decision on a second mural, a 135-foot-long painting along the school’s Stuart Street Academic Building. And this time, the Willard administration says it wants to get it right. 

“We either have to restore the mural or we have to archive it and demolish it,” Orput said. “We can’t leave it the way it is.” 

The unnamed painting was designed by Chicano artist Malaquias Montoya in the 1970s. It was painted by Montoya, then a professor at the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland, and CCAC students, and was part of a project that completed 15 murals in Berkeley, Oakland, and on the CCAC campus itself. 

Montoya is now a professor in the Chicano Studies Department and Art Department of UC Davis, teaching courses on mural painting and surveys of Chicano art. 

Twelve feet tall at its upper end and 20 feet at its lower, the mural depicts a sweeping story of multicultural struggle, with heroic figures from different races and ethnicities massed together in scenes along mountains and fields, hands holding burning sunfires or calculations or reaching down to pull up the downtrodden. At what Orput calls the “dark end” of the piece, it descends into an apocalyptic vision of war and struggle, with dingy American, British, and Soviet Union flags, worker-warriors holding back snarling robot dogs on leashes, and a grinning, malevolent demon-face in the far corner. 

In a telephone interview, Montoya said that the themes of the mural were all developed out of the thoughts of Willard students. When the mural was commissioned by the school district, he said he asked the middle school to select a cross-section of students to meet with him and the CCAC artists. 

“We asked them what was important in their lives,” Montoya explained. “They talked about that atomic energy sign on the BART trains and how that scared them, and that’s why that symbol shows up in the mural. They talked about how bad television was, but how they were addicted to it. They talked about the battle of the superpowers—America and England and the Soviet Union at that time—so that’s where the flags came from.” 

The robot dogs, he said, actually grew out of mechanical birds, which the Willard students said were symbolic of evil. “The birds didn’t work in the piece,” he said. “At that time, those ‘transformer’ toys were big, and so we turned the mechanical birds into ‘transformer’ dogs.” 

Montoya said the images at what Orput calls the “dark end” of the piece were so controversial at the time the mural was conceived that the Willard principal at that time called him back in and protested that the students couldn’t have come up with those images. 

“So we met with the Willard students again and asked them if what we were depicting was accurate,” Montoya said. “They said it was.” 

The centerpiece of the Willard mural is a quote from Brazilian progressive education advocate Paolo Freire: “If children reared in an atmosphere of loneliness and oppression, children whose potency has been frustrated, do not manage during their youth to take the path of authentic rebellion, they will either drift into total indifference, alienated from reality by their authorities and the myths the latter have used to shape them, or they may engage in forms of destructive action.” 

Orput said he has no desire to wipe out the mural unless it’s absolutely necessary. “My mother was a middle school art teacher in Minnesota, and her thing was murals,” he said. “It’s my thing too.” He added that the Willard mural is “a very beautiful piece.” 

Orput said he particularly likes the inclusion of the quote from Freire, whom he studied during intern work in the Oakland public schools. “It’s a great reminder to teachers and kids of our multicultural world, and it’s a special reminder of teachers to keep their work relevant to the kids,” he said. 

It is also slowly disintegrating, and that is the problem. 

The mural was painted over concrete in a preservation process that the Vice Principal says was “not very good.” As a result, flakes of paint, some of them as large as quarters, have fallen off the facade in recent years. Orput says that the deterioration appears to be escalating. 

In addition, Orput says that the mural invites vandalism—a recent message marked over one of the figures reads “Reject CR And Get Disrespected”—and that because there is no protective coating over the original art, school personnel are often at a loss as to how to eliminate the graffiti without harming the mural. 

Another problem is that a portion of the mural covers archways over a sunken entranceway to the Academic Building, a popular spot for homeless. 

“I have great respect and sympathy for the homeless,” Orput says, “but this is not a good situation for our students. Often either myself or my staff have to get here before the kids to wake people up and to clear the area of needles and refuse and waste. We need to do something with the entranceway to prevent that, and that may have an impact on the mural.” 

Orput, who is in charge of Willard’s $3.4 million bond-financed renovation, says that before a decision is made whether to restore the mural or archive-and-demolish, he wants to cost out both options. He also wants to talk with directly with Montoya, as well as with the 8 student artists who worked on the project. 

“We definitely want their input,” Orput said. “We want to hear their opinion on what they think should be done.” 

Meanwhile, the archiving has already begun, with what Orput calls unexpected and spectacular success. 

While looking through old artifacts to be preserved when the school’s Administration Building is demolished this summer, the Vice Principal found cardboard tubes holding the original story board drawings for the mural. Also included with the story board were original notes on the project, apparently by Montoya. 

“The wall of the junior high school (like any wall), demands a mural which addresses specific, relevant issues,” he wrote. “We tried to find out what concerns the students have about issues that affect their lives, such as their opinions on education and current world events. ... We were impressed by the students’ awareness of global events and politics. ... In the final mural design, we have tried to incorporate the students input while offering hope and possibilities for their own personal contributions to the continuing struggle for peace.” 

Whatever happens to the original mural, he wants the story board to be preserved and displayed, both in digital form on the school’s website and possibly inside one of the school buildings as an original exhibit. 

Montoya called the discovery of his original working drawings and notes “pretty amazing.” He said he had been contacted by a Berkeley school official by telephone, and told the district was thinking of painting the mural over. 

“I told them it was their decision,” he said. “But every time you see a mural whitewashed over, it’s sad.” 

The artist said he was delighted that the final decision had not yet been made, and that Orput planned to talk with him and the student artists directly to get their input before moving forward. He said he had seen another of his Berkeley murals destroyed without his knowledge. 

“There was one we did on Telegraph Avenue at the old co-op in the ‘90s,” he said. “It depicted the Black Liberation Struggle. One day I was driving by, and it was just gone.” 

Since the time Montoya and Orput were interviewed for this article, they reported that they have communicated with each other, but said no decision has yet been made on the future of the Willard mural.›

Building LLCs Present Tax Collection Problems By RICHARD BRENNEMAN

Friday May 06, 2005

When is the sale of a building not a sale, at least for property tax reasons?  

The question arose during last week’s heated discussion at the Zoning Adjustments Board over The Old Grove—the massive new housing-over-commercial project planned for University Avenue and Martin Luther King Jr. Way. 

At one point during the discussion, Tom Hunt, a neighbor of the project, complained that the building would never be reassessed if sold in the future because it’s owned by a limited liability corporation (LLC). 

If true, an LLC would be an effective tool for avoiding any future reassessments. 

In an era when cash-starved local governments are laying off workers and cutting back services, cities and counties desperately need the increased revenues that come when property is reevaluated at the time of sale. 

When a reporter posed the question of whether a LLC provides an escape from reassessment to a representative of the State Board of Equalization (BOE), the answer was: “Depends.” 

The same question received different answers when posed to a leading tax attorney and the Alameda County Assessors office. All agreed, however, that the issue is far from simple. 

Anita Gore of the BOE said the answer depends on the nature of the sale. 

Citing the example of an LLC with five members each owning a 20 percent interest, she said the sale would trigger a reassessment if the property was sold to a single individual or if a legal entity making the purchase contained a member who owner more than 50 percent. 

“But if the sale was five individuals who again owned equal shares, there would be no reassessment,” she said. “And it took an hour’s discussion with our experts to arrive at that answer.”  

The LLC is a new creation historically, first enacted in Wyoming in 1977. It combines some of the features of a limited partnership with those of the corporation. 

For an investor, it offers unique protections from legal liability. If an officer of a traditional corporation is found liable for personal misconduct in corporate affairs, he or she may incur personal liability. But an LLC officer sued for misconduct in corporate affairs cannot be held personally liable and the most a litigant can receive is a charging order against the LLC, a document the Los Angeles Business Club calls “virtually worthless.” 

Berkeley’s best-known developers, Patrick Kennedy and David Teece, created LLCs to own each of their buildings that increasingly dominate the Berkeley landscape, and two of Kennedy’s former employees are doing the same for the massive two-building complex they plan at the site of Kragen Auto Parts on University Avenue. 

Thus, there’s a Gaia Building LLC, a Fine Arts Building LLC, a Bachenheimer Building LLC and so on. 

But a rising concern for local governments is just when does the sale of an LLC—or a significant change in ownership—amount to a transaction that would trigger a reassessment of property taxes. 

“The law is quite bizarre,” said Lenny Goldberg, executive director of the Sacramento-based California Tax Reform Association. “It’s really more loophole than tax.” 

Joseph G. De Angelis, a leading Sacramento County corporate and tax attorney, said that any time there is a change in corporate or LLC ownership of more than 50 percent, the new owners are legally obligated to report the change, triggering a reassessment. 

Brian Hitomi, Chief of Appraisal Services for the Alameda County Assessor’s office, said any change in the percentages of ownership among LLC members would trigger reassessment. 

“The owners are supposed to report,” said Hitomi, “and we are tracking percentages of ownership. But it’s based on self-reporting. Otherwise, there’s no way to know.” 

Gore said reassessments definitely kick in when there’s a 100 percent change in ownership, “but if it’s less, the answer may be different.” 

De Angelis cited the case of an LLC owned by three equal partners. Should one member sell out to another partner, the buyer would now own two-third’s of the corporation, theoretically triggering a reassessment. But should two partners buy out equal halves of the third owner’s interest, each of the owners would then hold exactly 50 percent of the LLC, not the “more than half” trigger that sets off a reassessment. 

Goldberg cited a notorious Napa County case where one huge winery—Gallo—bought out another—Martini—with all its vineyards and buildings without triggering a reassessment. 

“No one took more than 50 percent, so the entire sale of one large company to another took place with no change in ownership,” Goldberg said. “There are seminars for lawyers teaching them how to avoid reassessment.” 

That’s not the only complication, said De Angelis. In the real world, ownership changes often go unreported. “As a practical matter, the county may not see it, although the state has now put a box on the LLC tax return that asks if there’s been a change in ownership.” 

“We’re very reliant on the state informing us of changes of ownership,” said Hitomi of the county assessor’s office, “and there’s an effort going forward to seek these out more rigorously. The state is now looking for ownership changes throughout California so they can report to the counties.” 

If unreported changes are found that should have triggered reassessments, an eight-year statute of limitations sets a cap on how much back taxes counties can collect. 

The Legal Entity Ownership Program is a joint state effort by the Franchise Tax Board and the Board of Equalization, said Gore. 

“The Franchise Tax Boards gets the information, and they trade information with the county assessors,” she explained. “We have a form we send out.” 

De Angelis noted a second, structural reality that is also shifting the property tax burden onto homeowners and away from the business sector. 

“If I sell a house, there’s no doubt it will be reassessed, and the typical California homeowner buys a new house every five to seven years,” he said. “But businesses sell far less frequently.” 

So long as they remain under the same ownership, Proposition 13 limits business property assessments at the same 2 percent annual increase as residential property. 

As a result, the homeowner share of property tax revenues has been inching steadily upward. In 1986, homeowners contributed 32.4 percent of state property tax revenues, compared to 38 percent 15 years later. 

Two years ago, East Bay Assemblymember Loni Hancock authored legislation that would have mandated taxing at fair market value all nonresidential property not used for commercial agriculture. 

The proposal drew massive opposition from Republicans, business and industrial groups, apartment owners’ associations, and lobbyists for commercial interests. Faced with the realization that the bill couldn’t pass, Hancock allowed it to die. 

One bill now pending in the state senate would change the trigger mechanism for property tax reassessments. SB 17, by Sen. Martha Escutia (D-Montebello), would force a reevaluation whenever cumulative ownership changes of more than 50 percent occur. 

That legislation has roused considerable opposition, in part because the bill would affect publicly traded corporations whose stock often changes hands with considerable frequency. 

Goldberg—who worked closely with Loni Hancock on her failed legislation, said the change needed to happen constitutionally, just as Proposition 13—the source of most of local government’s current tax woes—occurred through a constitutional referendum. 

“As it stands, the underlying law today is ludicrous,” he said.›

Sequoia To Vie for School Name By J. DOUGLAS ALLEN-TAYLOR

Friday May 06, 2005

Sequoia has beaten out second-place Ohlone and six other alternatives for the chance to replace the name of Thomas Jefferson Elementary School, according to the results of a school-wide vote. 

Jefferson Elementary School principal Betty Delaney reportedly described the vote as a “very close count.” 

The vote on the possible name change of the Ada Street school was proposed by parents and community activists who were concerned that the Berkeley school was named for a man who held slaves on his 18th century Virginia plantation. The issue has sparked controversy in Berkeley, with Jefferson supporters arguing that the nation’s third president should continue to be honored because of his authorship of the Declaration of Independence and the purchase of the vast Louisiana Territory from France, paving the way to make America an ocean-to-ocean empire. 

The first round of voting focused on choosing an alternative name to Jefferson. Sequoia won the first round over the names of Ohlone, Cesar Chavez, Ralph Bunche, Sojourner Truth, Florence McDonald (a former city councilmember), Peace, and Rose. 

A second round of voting by Jefferson Elementary parents, students, and staff—this one to decide whether to keep the Jefferson name or replace it with Sequoia —will be held during the week of May 23, with results expected to be reported shortly afterward. 

According to Berkeley Unified School District Public Information Office Mark Coplan, if the Jefferson Elementary community chooses Sequoia over Thomas Jefferson, the name change will most likely go to the BUSD Board for consideration in June.  

The Jefferson Elementary administration has planned a school community meeting for May 17, 6-8 p.m., to discuss the procedures for the final vote. 

Danner and Yoo Debate Wars on Terror and Iraq By JUDITH SCHERR

Friday May 06, 2005

Prisoners in Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, and Iraq have been hooded, isolated, humiliated, injured, made to feel hopeless and close to death. Mark Danner, UC Berkeley journalism professor, says such treatment is systemic, a flagrant violation of rules of war and morality and the fault of “policy makers in the department of justice, policy makers including Professor (John) Yoo, policy makers in the Department of Defense (and) policy makers in the White House.”  

On the other hand, John Yoo, Boalt Law School professor and former deputy assistant attorney general, argues that in today’s extraordinary war on terror, new rules of combat must apply.  

Yoo, Danner and Tom Farer, dean of the Graduate School of International Studies, University of Denver, spoke on a panel Monday evening at the law school, moderated by Harry Kreisler, executive director of the Institute of International Studies.  

Yoo dismissed the well-publicized abuse in Iraq as isolated incidents, the work of rogue soldiers. “I think the real problem in Abu Ghraib is that we had sent in insufficient resources and we did not train people sufficiently,” he said. “It’s unfortunate, but when there are large institutions, there are going to be people who violate the rules.”  

Yoo further argued that even in the U.S., there are police officers who don’t do their jobs properly. “That doesn’t mean there’s a conspiracy.”  

In his presentation, Yoo didn’t dwell on Iraq, but laid out a carefully crafted theory from which emerges the permission for U.S. interrogators to go beyond normal restrictions of international rules of war to interrogate certain prisoners.  

Yoo’s theory is based on the idea that Sept. 11, 2001 prompted a “war” on terror. One doesn’t react to war as one does to a criminal act, he said. “If a nation-state, say the Soviet Union during the cold war, had carried out the Sept. 11 attacks in the exact same way, for the exact same purpose, would we have not considered that an act of war and considered ourselves in a state of war with the Soviet Union?” Yoo asked.  

And so, based on the assumption that the U.S. is at war with al Qaeda—a thesis with which Farer and Danner disagreed—various tactics must be employed. But they cannot be the same tactics as fighting a nation-state. The United States is battling an organization that has no territory, no defined population, one whose adherents wear no uniforms and have not signed the Geneva Conventions which dictate rules of war.  

“Does that not mean the War on Terror is unique?” Yoo asked the audience, as he would a jury. “Does that not require us to think about how we apply the laws of war?”  

By “laws of war,” Yoo meant the 1949 Geneva Conventions, written “to govern nation-state to nation-state conflict.” He argued that those laws cannot be applied strictly to terrorists, “the kind of enemy that was not anticipated by the people who drafted those rules.”  

Moreover, al Qaeda has violated two core principles of the Geneva Convention: one is that civilians should not be targeted and the second is that the members of the fighting force must distinguish themselves from civilians, generally by wearing uniforms.  

Therefore, because of the unique nature of al Qaeda, protections of the Geneva Conventions should not be applied to terrorist suspects, he argued. That means that unlike POWs, who are generally housed in barracks, terrorist suspects can be detained in individual cells. And while the Geneva Conventions say that there can be no consequence other than yelling—no reward or punishment—when a POW doesn’t answer an interrogator’s question, other rules apply to suspected terrorists.  

Prisoners cannot be tortured, however. The United States is still subject to the Convention against Torture, which prohibits torture under any circumstances.  

Yoo argued then that the situation calls for extraordinary tactics. “Can we use methods that do not rise to torture?” he asked. “Under the Geneva Convention system, as I understand it, all we can do is yell at people. So the question is, can the United States do anything that is more than yelling at people but falls short of torture?”  

The best way to stop future attacks on the United States is to get the terrorists’ plans by questioning al Qaeda members who have information, he said. New methods of questioning may need to be employed, ones which give more discretion to interrogators.  

In traditional warfare, Yoo argued, there is a body of knowledge of what works and what doesn’t. There is therefore no need to give discretion to decision-makers. But those who carry out the war against al-Qaeda have no established methods of war. Before Sept. 11, 2001 only a national state could have inflicted the kind of damage on the United States that al Qaeda did. 

“That new situation demands … that we give more discretion to decision-makers,” Yoo said, arguing that the U.S. is still learning to fight the War on Terror. “We’re still trying to figure that out.”  

Co-panelists disagreed with the premise on which Yoo built his argument—Tom Farer argued that the battle against terrorism is not a war and that it is not unique. A war on al-Qaeda is fighting a battle “that has no likely end,” he said. Historically there have been terrorists not unlike al Qaeda, such as the Basques in Spain and neo-fascists in Italy. Others countries have faced terrorists, but not as a war, he said. “We’re going to have to live with this.”  

Danner challenged Yoo’s contention that prisoner abuse in Iraq is an anomaly, an “animal house on the night shift.” Further, he excoriated Yoo and others for making policy that condones abuse in Guantánamo, then allowing those techniques, backed up by policy, to “migrate” to Iraq where prisoner abuse occurs regularly.  

“Torture, coercive methods of interrogation, cruel and inhuman treatment have become systematic in the war on terror and in particular in Iraq,” Danner said, adding, “I would remind you that Iraq is a nation-state. The Geneva Conventions supposedly do apply in Iraq.”  

To prove his point, Danner read from two reports in which, he said, “The word ‘systemic’ leaps out at you.”  

From the Taguba Report, Investigation of the 800th Military Police Brigade Danner read: “…between October and December 2003, at the Abu Ghraib Confinement Facility, numerous incidents of sadistic, blatant, and wanton criminal abuses were inflicted on several detainees. This systemic and illegal abuse of detainees was intentionally perpetrated by several members of the military police.” 

The report he read from the International Red Cross similarly exposes systemic abuse: “The ill-treatment … during interrogation was not systematic, except with regard to persons arrested in connection with suspected security offenses or deemed to have an ‘intelligence’ value. In these cases, persons deprived of their liberty supervised by the military intelligence were subjected to a variety of ill-treatment, ranging from insults and humiliation to both physical and psychological coercion that in some cases might amount to torture, in order to force them to cooperate with their interrogators. In certain cases, such as in Abu Ghraib military intelligence section, methods of physical and psychological coercion used by the interrogators appeared to be part of the standard operating procedures by military intelligence personnel to obtain confessions and extract information.”  

Danner has included these and other reports of abuse as well as detainee depositions and policy papers and memos in his book, Torture and Truth: America, Abu Ghraib and the War on Terror, (New York Review of Books).  

Danner follows what he calls a “chain of evidence” linking policy documents to abuse on the ground in Iraq.  

What he found there, according to one detainee’s deposition, was hooding for 72 hours—permitted sensory deprivation, Danner says—handcuffing a prisoner so that his hand was high above his head for seven or eight hours, a stress position, also permitted. The same prisoner was kept naked for days, beaten, jumped on, humiliated, sodomized, otherwise sexually abused and more. At one point, an interrogator came into the room and was watching.  

Investigative reports confirmed the detainee’s statement and also confirmed the presence of interrogators (military intelligence officers). “Once you get to military intelligence, you get to policy; once you get to policy, you get to policy makers. Once you get to policy makers, you are dealing with the power of people sitting in their offices,” Danner said.  

On Feb. 7, 2002, there is a memo to the White House, concluding that prisoners in Afghanistan are not subject to the Geneva conventions. Then there is the Bybee memo, also called the “torture memo,” of Aug. 1, 2002, which Danner said redefines torture to “something that causes pain equivalent of major organ failure or death.” Danner argues that one could probably do everything that was done to the detainee described above, without calling it torture. “Along with that document is a letter by Professor Yoo stating that torture of the al-Qaeda or the Taliban cannot be a war crime, because they are illegal combatants,” he added.  

From there Danner cited an April 4, 2003 report wherein the Department of Defense approved 35 interrogation methods to be used on detainees of the War on Terror including use of dogs to induce stress, forced shaving of beards, sleep deprivation, dietary manipulation and more. This document from the DOD “excerpts in very large part the so-called torture memo that Professor Yoo worked on.”  

Finally, as Danner explains in his book, Major General Geoffrey D. Miller, then commander of Guantánamo, visited Abu Ghraib in August 2003. “In General Miller’s visit, two paths meant to be kept separate in effect converge, and interrogation methods officially intended for use only on prisoners not protected by the Geneva Convention, like those in Guantánamo, ‘migrate’ to Iraq… and are employed on prisoners there who are entitled to such protection. At this writing, Major General Miller is commander of Abu Ghraib prison.”  

What, then, is the solution? Danner said he does not accept Yoo’s argument that more forceful interrogation of terror suspects is the answer.  

He argued instead that the best way to gather information is to build trust with Iraqis. Ultimately, “the answer to this war must be a political one,” Danner said. “In the words of Condoleezza Rice you have to convince young Muslims that they no longer have to drive airplanes into buildings in Manhattan and Washington.”  


A video of the panel is available at:  



Landlord Group Fumes Over Rent Board Fee Increase By MATTHEW ARTZ

Friday May 06, 2005

After Berkeley’s Rent Stabilization Board decided to raise landlord fees by 13 percent, the city’s leading landlord association is threatening to once again file suit. 

“We’re strongly considering litigation based on this act,” said Michael Wilson, president of the Berkeley Property Owners Association (BPOA).  

On Monday, the nine-member rent board unanimously approved an $18-a unit-fee increase for landlords, raising the annual landlord fees to $154 per unit. With roughly 18,600 units under rent control, the fee increase is anticipated to raise an additional $337,000 for the board. The rent board retains the option to pass on a portion or all of the fee increase to tenants. 

Alta Gerrey, a landlord who owns ten units, said that although the Rent Board provides useful services, such as rental data, the higher fees are too much and have made her consider selling her buildings. 

“I’d like to see where the money goes,” she said. 

For the past eight years, the rent board has angered landlords by decisions considered pro-tenant, and the BPOA has initiated several lawsuits against it. The rent board runs a roughly $3.2 million operation with about 20 employees, all paid for by landlord fees. 

While past lawsuits often challenged the rent board’s calculations in setting rent increases, the BPOA’s current complaint centers around how the board has allocated its money and resources. 

In March, at the city’s request, the Rent Board transferred $200,000 from a roughly $700,000 lawsuit settlement against the UC Berkeley’s AEPhi sorority to the city’s housing trust fund. The fund is used to leverage affordable housing projects. Also, as the number of rent board hearings has declined, rent board hearing commissioners have started working for the city’s housing authority. 

Wilson argues that under both circumstances the rent board has illegally transferred money and services paid for by landlord fees to city operations that should come from tax dollars. 

“They’re exceeding their charter authority by making unauthorized expenditures,” said Wilson, who is also an attorney. 

Rent Board Executive Director Jay Kelekian said that the Rent Board transferred the $200,000 to the housing trust fund only after it repaid its legal expenses and had reimbursed tenants the sorority had overcharged. 

“Board regulations say that when money from an overcharge is left unclaimed, the board is to give it to an affordable housing program operated by the city,” Kelekian said. 

As for loaning out hearing examiners, Kelekian and Housing Director Steve Barton confirmed that the Housing Authority is paying the rent board for the examiners’ time. “Rather than have the city go out and get an expensive contract for hearing cexaminers, it makes sense for them to use ours and pay us for the time,” Kelekian said. 

In addition, the BPOA found much to dislike about the rent board’s proposed budget, not the least of which Wilson said was that he didn’t receive a copy of it until the Friday night before Monday’s meeting, when Kelekian, Wilson’s neighbor, dropped one off at his house after work. 

Wilson questioned why the Rent Board would raise fees when it maintains reserves of roughly $300,000—about 10 percent of its total budget. The city maintains 6 percent reserves. 

Additionally, Wilson questioned why the Rent Board required a budget of approximately $3 million to regulate 18,600 rental units when San Francisco spent $4.3 million to regulate 179,000 units. Wilson also took aim at the Rent Board’s allocation of nearly $215,000 for community agencies. For years the program that has most infuriated landlords is an annual poetry slam, where competitors perform tenant-landlord themed spoken word poems for a cash prize. 

“They really find new and creative ways to spend the excess money they have,” Wilson said. 

Kelekian countered that the poetry slam costs about $500, provides outreach to young artists and gets “a ton of publicity,” including a write-up in the New York Times. He noted that the single biggest line-item increase in service expenses this year was to make it easier for landlords to pay their fees by credit card instead of by check. 

Kelekian further maintained that comparisons with San Francisco were unfair because San Francisco has a different ordinance that requires less paperwork. Since San Francisco’s law has never covered vacant units, it wasn’t affected by Costa-Hawkins, a state law passed in 1996 that outlawed a section of Berkeley’s ordinance that kept units under rent control even after tenants moved out. Since the law passed, Kelekian said, the Berkeley rent board must use different rules to track rents for different kinds of tenancies, adding to the organization’s bottom line. 

Changes like the Costa-Hawkins law force the rent board to maintain a high reserve, Kelekian said, because the board must be prepared to adapt to them. It has also had to accommodate to changes mandated by BPOA lawsuits, he said. The biggest registration fee increase—from $100 to $136—came in 1991, when a pro-landlord board raised fees after determining that the board needed a reserve so it wouldn’t be forced to borrow money from the city. 

Kelekian noted that since Costa Hawkins was passed, rent board staff positions have decreased from 26.6 full-time positions to 19.3 proposed for next year. As for other public agencies, Kelekian said, employee health and retirement benefits are driving up costs. Overall, employees account for 75 percent of the board’s expenses. 

“We’re running an efficient and frugal operation, but we’re not going to stop providing needed services,” he said. 

Doctor’s Presence at Protest Questioned By RICHARD BRENNEMAN

Friday May 06, 2005

As long-running battles continue over two highly contaminated South Richmond sites—one owned by UC Berkeley—two new questions have surfaced: 

• Did a Richmond Chamber of Commerce official try to torpedo a leading cardiologist’s battles against toxic waste? 

• Are Richmond activists looking at the wrong solution for cleanups at the highly polluted Campus Bay and UC Berkeley Richmond Field Station sites? 

Jeffrey Ritterman, chief of cardiology for Kaiser Permanente in Richmond, is an outspoken foe of pesticide use in Contra Costa County and an early advocate of strengthening oversight at Campus Bay and the Field Station. 

Clad in his white medical jacket, the doctor has attended two demonstrations outside the entrances to the two South Richmond sites carrying a sign that reads “Richmond Doctor Says No To Toxins.” 

Chamber CEO Judith Morgan acknowledges sending an email to Kaiser questioning the use of the Kaiser name in a press release announcing the April 29 demonstration outside the entrances to Campus Bay and the Field Station. 

She said her only concern was the use of the Kaiser name in the press release. “I have tried on many occasions to get their support, and I know they have very strict policies about the use of their name.” 

But neither the press release nor the community flyer sponsored by Bay Area Residents for Responsible Development or the Richmond Progressive Alliance made any reference to Kaiser. Dr. Ritterman was mentioned by name in the press release, but not his affiliation. 

Sherry Padgett, who coordinated the protest on behalf of BARRD, said the only time she mentioned Kaiser was in an internal email, in which she said Kaiser doctors would be present in their white coats. 

“There was never any mention in the press release,” she said. 

In his final column to members as chairman of the chamber board in December, Mark Howe wrote that “[a]lthough the site has been responsibly cleaned up, at a cost of millions, we hear otherwise from media intent on selling newspapers, environmental groups, and local politicians opposed to the development.” 

Howe stressed the importance of the 1,330-unit housing complex proposed at Campus Bay to the Richmond Redevelopment Agency, and blamed criticism of a “lack of trust in Simeon and business in general.” 

Simeon Properties is one of two partners in Cherokee-Simeon Ventures, a special purpose corporation formed to develop restored Bay Area hazardous waste sites. 

Morgan said the column was written “before a lot of information came to light that wasn’t so positive.” 

Both Ritterman and Morgan say they don’t want to make a big deal about her action. 

“I guess the doctor in question was called on the carpet,” she said. Not so, said Ritterman. 

Meanwhile, the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors is scheduled to vote Tuesday on a resolution similar to the one already passed by the Richmond City Council on March 1 calling on the California Environmental Protection Agency to give the DTSC primary jurisdiction over both sites. 

The resolution, sponsored by Supervisor John Gioia—whose district includes Richmond—calls for the EPA to assign both sites to DTSC supervision. 

But Richmond City Councilmember Tom Butt has sounded a cautionary note about DTSC jurisdiction. 

“I submit that this excessive level of confidence in DTSC may not be the panacea advocates expect,” wrote Butt in an April 29 email to constituents. 

The councilmember cited the DTSC-supervised cleanup of property next to Seacliff Landing in Richmond where “the contractor proceeded to undertake a remediation project that bore little resemblance to the approved plan. 

“What was supposed to be a fill approximately two or three feet thick with an asphalt cap turned into a mountain many times that site—so large that it became known as the space alien landing pad because it allegedly could be seen from space.” 

The city was forced to cough up $500,000 to move the fill to the adjacent Point Portrero terminal “where it now reposes under a an asphalt cap and thousands of Hyundais and Kias.” 

The city has yet to recoup the funds it paid for the move.  

LaDonna Williams, executive director of People for Children’s Health and Environmental Justice, an organization based in Richmond and Vallejo, also sounded a cautionary note at the April 29 protest, recounting her experiences at Midway Village, a Daly City housing tract where she had lived with her children. In 1991, after she had moved from the area, news broke that the site had been contaminated by more than 350 known toxins. 

“Cal EPA and DTSC did a cover-up, not a cleanup,” she said. Her experiences led her to become a leading advocate of environmental justice, and she has traveled the country speaking out on environmental racism. 

Williams told demonstrators that neither the DTSC or the San Francisco Regional Water Quality Control Board—which originally had jurisdiction over all of Campus Bay and retains jurisdiction at the UC Field Station—could be trusted. 

Both, she said, require constant monitoring by the public.›

Berkeley Program Focuses on Black Infant Health By MATTHEW ARTZ

Friday May 06, 2005

Back in February, Ashawn Walker was smoking cigarettes, guzzling down soda, eating junk food and unbeknownst to her, two months pregnant. Now, with the help of a Berkeley program for African American moms-to-be, she’s drinking water, eating fruit, and keeping her distance from nicotine. 

“At first I wasn’t prepared to be a mom,” Walker said Wednesday at the office of Berkeley’s Black Mother Infant Health Program. “Now I want to make sure my baby is healthy.” 

When it comes to black infant health, Berkeley had a bad reputation. A city health disparity report released in 1999 found that 16 percent of children born to African American women suffered from low birth weight, compared to 4 percent for white women. The four-to-one ratio was the worst of 165 cities studied throughout the country, according to statistics from the National Center for Health Statistics. Washington, D.C. finished second worst with a ratio of 3.16. 

“It was a real eye opener,” said Vicki Alexander, director of Berkeley’s Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health Program. She said that low birth weight correlates both to greater frequency of infant death, and to poor educational performance and school delinquency. 

In response to the grim statistics, the state in 2001 gave the city a $100,000 a year grant to start the Black Infant Health Program. Operated by two full-time staff members, the program provides social support for pregnant African American women over the age of 18. A separate city program focuses on younger women. 

“My experience over the years is that women will seek medical attention, but many do not have the family or social support,” said Program Coordinator Yvonne Lacey. “If we can fill that void, it can hopefully give them the self esteem to eat better and have a healthy, happy pregnancy.” Most of the participants are referred by other city-funded health agencies, she said, and many are unmarried and homeless. 

The backbone of the program is a weekly discussion group for pregnant mothers giving them instruction on how to deliver a healthy baby and care for their infant. For new moms, the program hosts monthly discussion groups. 

Outside the program’s South Berkeley office, program workers make home visits to ensure the women are doing well, drive them to doctor’s appointments, connect them with nurses, help them find jobs and housing if necessary, and sometimes out of their own pocket supply them with supermarket vouchers for food and diapers. 

“They don’t just talk about the pregnancy,” said Walker, who is due to give birth to a boy in September. “They talk to you about how to better yourself as well.” 

She said that program workers had helped her get into Alameda Beauty College and are trying to help her boyfriend find a job. 

Solvena Sampson, 29, the mother of a 2-year-old, said the program helped her get through an emotionally wrenching pregnancy. “My child’s father wasn’t there for me and they helped me get my anger out,” she said. “They don’t criticize you, they don’t judge you.” 

Under the terms of the grant, the program—one of 17 in the state—is only open to African Americans. While they do make referrals for women of other backgrounds, Romona Benson, a community health specialist, said part of the success of the group is its connection to the people it serves. 

“We’re just plain folks from the community,” she said. “We can knock down barriers for public health nurses to get in and give clients the service they need.” 

So far the program appears to be making a difference. The latest birth rate statistics, compiled in 2002, one year after the program began, showed that instances of low birth rates among African Americans in Berkeley had dropped to about 13 percent, according to Alexander. She added that city data showed that women who attended were less likely to deliver low birth weight babies.  

“To me this program is a gem,” she said. “It’s really proven its worth in terms of the low birth weight births it has prevented.” 

The key to preventing low birth weight babies, Benson said, is educating the women about how their habits can affect their baby’s health. “They haven’t been given the information before,” she said. “Their friend might have said, ‘girl, you shouldn’t drink,’ but they haven’t learned what alcohol actually does to their baby.” 

With an annual budget of $120,000, from the state grant and a city contribution, Lacy is hoping to get community members involved to boost the program’s offerings. A local resident has offered to form an exercise group, and Lacy wants to start a yoga class as well. 

As for Walker, she can’t wait to become a mom. “It’s going to be the most beautiful thing ever,” she said. “I’m so juiced.” 


ZAB Revisits “Flying Cottage” By RICHARD BRENNEMAN

Friday May 06, 2005

Reports of an imminent soft landing for South Berkeley’s “Flying Cottage” have been greatly exaggerated, says Dave Blake.  

Blake said he and his colleagues on the ZAB find little to like in Christina Sun’s ungainly edifice at the southeast corner of Shattuck Avenue and Essex Street. 

While city staff told ZAB members last Thursday that the three-story height is suitable for the location, Blake said design and parking problems make it unlikely that approval will come any time soon—if ever. 

Blake, who also sits on the Design Review Committee (DRC) said that whatever the city staff approves is subject to review and appeal. 

The DRC had panned architect Andus Brandt’s proposal for revisions to the structure. Brandt came late to the project, after Sun’s previous designer had created the plywood-walled shell that now stands at the site, capped by the remnants of the cottage that once stood there. 

“We will insist that Sun either restore the building to what it was before, or that she puts up a decent design,” Blake said. 

The second issue is parking. While city staff had originally okayed the installation of two parking spaces at the rear of the structure, ZAB members made it clear they didn’t look favorably on the notion and directed Sun to find dedicated spaces elsewhere on private property. 

Sun’s announced to intent to use the ground floor for a cafe raises additional unanswered questions. The original structure housed a two-car garage, which was not replaced when the structure was raised. 

Robert Lauriston, who spoke for neighbors of the project, was misquoted in the Daily Planet’s story Tuesday. He did not challenge the right to build three-story structures along Shattuck Avenue, south of Ashby; he did challenge city staff’s contention that rear yard parking was also allowed by right—noting that lots were so small that finding required parking for mixed-use buildings would be impractical. 

The discussion of the project didn’t begin until ZAB members were into the seventh hour of a meeting that had started at 6 p.m. with the preview of a proposed development at University Avenue and Martin Luther King Jr. Way.

Possible Hate Crime at Congregation Beth El Site By RICHARD BRENNEMAN

Friday May 06, 2005

Berkeley Police are investigating a Wednesday night fire at the Congregation Beth El building site as a possible hate crime, said police spokesperson Officer Joe Okies. 

Someone armed with a chemical accelerant started a fire behind the building now under construction at 1301 Oxford St. The flames damaged a portable concrete mixer, but firefighters responded before the blaze could spread to the nearby structure. 

Police have no suspects in the incident, said Officer Okies. 

Congregation member and former president Harry Pollack said there was no specific evidence that the fire was a hate crime. 

“Any time there’s arson at a religious institution, I assume the police investigate it as a possible hate crime,” he said. 

Pollack said the fire was spotted by a neighbor soon after it was set. 

“The fire department responded very quickly and we are grateful there was no damage to the building,” he said. 

State Calls for Public Input On LBNL Cleanup Proposal By RICHARD BRENNEMAN

Friday May 06, 2005

With a draft plan in hand for the cleanup of contaminated soil and groundwater at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the state Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) is calling for public input on the proposal. 

Details of the proposed cleanup effort and the history of contamination on the site are available online at www.dtsc.ca.gov/hazardouswaste/LBNL/index.html. 

The public comment period opened last week and will continue through June 8. 

A public hearing on the cleanup will be held on May 26 during the public comment period at the North Berkeley Senior Center, 1901 Hearst Ave., starting at 6 p.m. 

DTSC has identified 15 different areas of contamination on the LBNL grounds, of which two were decontaminated during the last two years. 

The DTSC plans don’t include radioactive decontamination, which falls under the purview of the U.S. Department of Energy. 

Surveys of the facility have uncovered a wide range of noxious substances in the soil and groundwater, including a variety of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), most notably solvents used in cleaning equipment. 

Letters to the Editor

Friday May 06, 2005



Editors, Daily Planet: 

Does anyone else consider the giant HERE/THERE sculpture going up on the Berkeley/Oakland border at Adeline St. to be divisive and inappropriate, especially in a location that is struggling to come together and solve cross-border community problems? And how much did Berkeley spend on this sculpture that could have gone to community groups? 

Anne Wagley 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Over the last month or so I’ve read several letters by or about Rabbi Littman. I know nothing about the rape controversy except what I’ve read in the letters, and until reading a letter by David Herzstein Couch I had no thought to comment on the matter. Mr. Couch says he is a distant acquaintance of the Rabbi, whom he praises for responding “clearly and eloquently, with restraint.” He goes on to credit her version of events, though he admits having no first hand knowledge of what transpired, and ends the letter questioning if it is decent to print letters about the matter. 

I don’t know anything about what happened except what I read in the letters. I’m not crediting either those who wrote against the Rabbi, but I am not entirely convinced Rabbi Littman’s version is accurate. I read two of Rabbi Littman’s letters. In both letters she claimed to be misunderstood. In one letter she said she “resented” the writer, in another letter she accused another person of “character assassination.” Rabbi Litman’s letters, though perhaps not hostile, are very defensive, and did make me wonder if there was anything to the charges of her protractors. “Doth she protest too much?” I wondered. 

I don’t know the background of who said what, or what to believe, but my mother always used to say “the whole world can’t be wrong.” Maybe it applies here. Maybe not. But it’s at least worth thinking about.  

In his letter Mr. Couch ask the Daily Planet not to print such letters because they’re not entertaining. I beg to differ. It seems that a controversial statement about rape by a local religious leader who sits on a commission is something a community paper should cover. His statement that the commission is obscure is all the more reason why the public needs to hear what is going on. Whether or not the letters are accurate I have no idea, but the founders of this nation, Jefferson and Madison in particular, had great belief that by printing all viewpoints the truth was more likely to emerge then if we restricted the printing of viewpoints that Mr. Couch questions the decency of printing. I agree with Mr. Couch that there are many unanswered questions concerning this thing. But the truth is more likely to emerge by printing letters rather then keeping the public from learning about the controversy.  

Anne Reisse  




Editors, Daily Planet: 

We love Berkeley teachers. Every one of our boys’ teachers at Malcolm X, Willard and now Berkeley High have been smart, dedicated and caring. We will always be grateful for the time, patience and love they have generously given them. Like 80 percent of Berkeley citizens, we voted for BSEP, bonds, parcel taxes you name it. If there was a pot of gold at the school district we say spend it on the teachers.  

But this “work to rule” strategy is wrong. It’s hurting our kids in the short-term and perhaps longer-term as well. Last week, the Malcolm X fifth graders performed their annual play, the culmination of long years of performing at this great school. But instead of strutting their stuff in the evening before a packed house of family members, the play started at 9AM in front of a handful of parents lucky enough to get some time off from work. It was just sad. The challenging homework assignments that used to come home demanding our fifth grader to stretch his writing and math skills have dwindled too. He’s happy about the easy workload, but we understand the long-term consequences. At Berkeley High, our son’s questions and requests for help with assignments in several classes have been denied with teachers citing “work to rule” as the reason. 

We know it must be very difficult for dedicated teachers to make these decisions that hurt their students. The desire to make more money for their own families is understandable and supported too.  

And that perhaps is the most puzzling piece of this debate. The union claims there are hidden caches of funds. But Berkeley voters know that the school district has been close to bankruptcy, and like every other district in the state, faces reduced future funding. The problem is not that voters, parents and even school board members aren’t in support of increased teacher compensation within a balanced budget. We are.  

The real problem is that there are just crumbs to negotiate over, and frankly that’s not the school board’s fault, nor the voters of Berkeley, nor our kids. That blame rests with an economy that went sour, and the state’s inability to manage their budget responsibly. 

If the Berkeley teachers union believes its strategy of holding students hostage with “work to rule” would help give them a bargaining edge or gain public support, they are wrong because it’s aimed at the wrong target. “Work to rule” won’t change a single vote in Sacramento to bring more money to Berkeley. But it will continue to hurt our kids.  

“Work to rule” has been an abject failure for everyone involved, and we respectfully ask Berkeley’s wonderful teachers to reconsider it. 

Felicity Bensch 

Dave Fogarty 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

My name is Lester Mestas. I am a free lance photographer. My son and I were in Berkeley over the weekend attending the Robby Glantz Ice Hockey Clinic at Berkeley Iceland. During our off time we found the Harrison Skate Park. I was impressed with the layout. We live in Orangevale and often go to the Cummings Family skate park in Folsom, Ca near our house. Cummings is a monitored skate park. While at Harrison I took many pictures of various skaters doing jumps and one in particular stood out. If you would like to use it, you can as long as you mention I took it. 

On monday, a uniformed policewoman gave a round to the park and exited some skaters not wearing protective gear. It is amazing how many were not wearing any. In the picture I’m sending, the skater does not have any on. Though these skaters are very good, and it may seem unnecessary for them to wear this gear, the rules are posted on the gate. There can be a fine of $100.00 issued to anyone not wearing a helmut and both knee and elbow pads. 

I hope this can be of some human interest to your paper. 

Lester Mestas 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

Daily, we are bombarded with stories about the “alleged” abuses at Abu Ghraib and our other “alleged” hidden war prisoner camps. President Bush and the Nation appears to be fixated on this abusive treatment of our war prisoners.  

We try and “pretend” that this display of abusive behavior by fellow Americans against another individual is “unexceptable” and “is not tolerated” by our leaders and fellow American citizens! This is the biggest two-faced act in the world!!! 

On a daily basis, inmates in our American prisons are physically abused, mentally abused, forcibally raped, medically neglected and in some cases even killed by the guards. Many of the horrendous stories are “covered-up”, but enough have been leaked to newspaper reporters who have written about these unsavory incidents. 

Where is the public outcry for these inmates? Why is our Nation allowing our American inmates to be treated so brutally and yet, very little is being done to correct this situation? It’s because we’re two-faced, we lie and “pretend” these atrocities do not exist. 

To admit to these atrocities means we’re no better than the countries we condemn for brutalizing their citizens and prisoners. It means we have to show our “true colors” and be accountable for the “violation of these inmate’s civil rights as well as their human rights”!! 

Become a “proud American” once again. Do something to end this mistreatment of our inmates. Join us in the “march for change” on August 13,2005 in Washington,D.C. at Lafayette Park. 

We, who are prisoner and human rights advocates are asking you to join us in demanding change. Our Nation should hold it’s head high instead  

of bowing in shame for the brutality we allow to exist in our prison system. Please come and raise your voice. Be heard! Let us add you and your family to our list of participants: journeyforjustice.org 

Beverly Bittner  





Editors, Daily Planet: 

It is great news that the Ivory-billed Woodpecker (Campephilus principalis), a magnificent bird long presumed extinct, has recently been spotted in a swamp in southeastern Arkansas. In the last couple of decades, bird watchers and others have made reports of possibly sighting the Ivory-bill in swamps in Louisiana and also in some remote mountains of Cuba. Lets hope that birdwatchers can show some adult restraint and refrain from a massive invasion of the Arkansas nature preserve in an attempt to flush out and spot the Ivory-bill and thus add it to their “life list.” Let’s respect this shy and wary bird’s need for privacy and content ourselves with reading about its continued existence in newspapers and on the Internet.  

Some traditional folk names for the Ivory-billed Woodpecker include: Caip, Carpintero Real, Grand Pique-bois, Indian Hen, Ivory-bill, Kate, Kent, King of 

the Woodpeckers, King Woodchuck, Logcock, Log-god, Poule de Bois, Southern Giant Woodpecker, White-billed Woodpecker, Woodchuck and Woodcock.  

Incidentally, the Pileated Woodpecker (Dryacopus pileatus), which is the closest relative of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker, can be seen in forested areas of California, the Pacific Northwest and eastern United States. The Pileated Woodpecker is slightly smaller than the Ivory-bill, with black-and-white coloring and also sports a brilliant red crest. All Pileateds have the red crest: males, females and juveniles. Its booming calls and drummings, which are usually heard in the spring, are unmistakable and are often the first sign that the bird is nearby. The Pileated is the largest woodpecker that most of us will ever see. Carpenter ants and wood-boring beetles are its main foods, which it obtains by hammering holes into dead trees. It also dines on wild fruits, in season. In severe climates, it fashions a large deep hole in a dead tree, which it then uses as its winter sleeping quarters.  

James K. Sayre 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

The recent flurry of letters about civic center fountain warrants some clarification. Several months back, the funding of civic center fountain came before the Parks and Recreation Commission. Our Commission voted against funding the fountain, not because of the construction costs which is covered by the bond and grants, but because of the high annual maintenance costs. The current design of the fountain has 400 plus gallons of standing water. Standing water is a magnet for bathing, for pranks, for bubbles. If foreign substances are put in the water, such as bubbles, all the water has to be drained and the fountain refilled. A low estimate of the annual yearly maintenance costs was $60,000. With the fountain next door to the high school, we could imagine, the types of pranks that would occur. 

The Parks and Recreation department just doesn’t have the funds to spend $60,000 a year to maintain one fountain. We are now drastically cutting back recreation programs for kids. We have had to propose closing all outdoor pools in Berkeley for 6 months. We have had to cut 11 positions in park maintenance and forestry over the last two years. It is for these reasons that we voted no on Civic Center Fountain, and why we have urged City Council to follow our recommendation. 

I appreciate that the City Manager’s staff was trying to meet what they felt were strong community priorities which included the civic center fountain. Unfortunately, what sank the issue was not the repair costs, it was the high cost of annual maintenance. 

I also respect the many years of work the Landmarks Commission has put in, reviewing very aspect of the civic center fountain design, and its advocacy for preserving design. Unfortunately, as long as the fountain remains an old fashion model with a large body of standing water, maintenance costs will be sky high. All modern fountain designs have eliminated the standing water. Water is sprayed out, and drains into a grate. This eliminates the attraction to put bubbles and other contaminants into the water. This dissuades bathers. This prevents accidental drownings. And with no standing water, such a fountain is much, much cheaper to maintain. 

So unfortunately, until a fairy comes loaded with cash, we can have purity of design and a dry non-functioning fountain. Or we can have a working fountain with the original design modified.  

Yolanda Huang 

Chair, Parks and Recreation Commission 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I am writing to express my support for Berkeley teachers in their efforts to get an acceptable contract. Like many parents, I have high expectations of my children’s teachers, and I know they work hard to educate our children. They are the most important factor in the quality of our children’s education. They deserve our support in their efforts to maintain acceptable income and benefits, and ensure that classroom sizes remain at a teachable level. Indeed I appreciate that they are sticking their necks out to get a cap on class sizes. This year and last, Jefferson had third, fourth and fifth graders in classes often exceeding 30 students.  

I do not like the work-to-rule action and I am worried about the impact should the teachers decide to strike. The superintendent and Board members should soften their hard-line position and offer the teachers a contract they can live with, so the teachers can focus on educating our children without this distraction. I do not ascribe to the belief that just because the District says it can’t afford to meet the teachers’ demands, it is so. The Union and District both have legal and financial analysts busy crunching numbers. I have no reason to think the Union’s are less competent than the District’s. And it’s certainly not in the teachers’ interest to seek a contract that will bankrupt the District. Our elected Board members just need to get their priorities in proper order – with teachers at the top.  

Let’s support our teachers. 

Robin Miller 

Jefferson parent, School Site Council Chair, and PTA member 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Kriss Worthington wrote a nice editorial in your May 3-5 edition commemorating Holocaust Remembrance Day. Oddly enough, a few pages earlier, he’s among the people inviting us to “celebrate” the release of Bob Avakian’s memoirs. Avakian is the Revolutionary Communist Party leader who thinks Stalin and Mao were wonderful, even though each of these gentlemen were responsible for more deaths than Hiter. I guess that for progressives of the Worthington type, the tens of millions of victims of leftist dictators deserved what they got. 

Alexander Shelepin 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

It was about six years ago when Beth El project leaders Harry Pollack, Jim Samuels, and Michael Fajans first presented their plans for a new temple, school, and social hall to the neighbors. They said these plans were only “preliminary”. After many meetings, the plans had not changed. 

Then began the public meetings and letters to the Planning Commission, Landmarks Preservation Commission, and Zoning Adjustments Board which led everyone to the City Council and ultimately a mediated agreement. The plans for a parking lot over the creek was finally removed, and the Codornices Creek corridor along Berryman Path was preserved with the hope that the culverted creek could be opened someday. Three community gardening groups were removed after their lease had expired and over 90 percent of the trees were clear cut and construction began. And now you can see the results at 1301 Oxford. In addition to preservation of the Codornices Creek corridor, there was an agreement to a parking management plan that would address events of 150 people or more. Somehow this has been interpreted in the “preliminary” draft parking and traffic plan as addressing events with 200 people or more, and that these events are not to even include religious services.  

Although Mr. Pollack is unable to define what a religious service is, many neighbors wonder what is the building for, if not for religious events? The environmental impact study to which Mr. Pollack refers, which the neighborhood felt was flawed, is now about 5 years old. In that period of time, do you think the traffic and parking situation would have improved or gotten worse in this already densely built neighborhood? This is why parking and traffic concerns must be addressed now. 

Diane Tokugawa 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The Pentagon reports a crisis in recruitment. They say that America will not be able to support a potential third war. 

There is an historical precedent which Rumsfeld might consider. During the last few months of the Third Reich, Germany faced a similar problem. To overcome the shortage, children and elderly men were asked to volunteer. The response was magnificent! 

Robert Blau 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

In Gary Herbertson’s letter to the Planet, he complained that cars that used to stop at stop signs where traffic circles have been installed “are now much more likely to glide through.” I have observed the same since circles were installed in the LeConte neighborhood a year ago. But this is one of the virtues of traffic circles. Cars can glide though (and cyclists, too, who rarely obey stop signs anyway). Studies by the Institute of Transportation Engineers have shown drastic reductions in right-angle and head-on collisions in yield-controlled intersections. All stop signs should be removed in favor of 4-way “Yield” signs, as common in France and Australia. Gradually, drivers will learn how to navigate these circles with safety and courtesy. I am more concerned about whether neighborhood volunteers will actually maintain the plantings in the circles or whether the circles will become a weed-infested display of passing enthusiasm. 

Robert Gable 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Balancing the design of a new home at 2615 Marin with the existing views of neighbors was a very difficult process for the ZAB. However, the Planet article incorrectly stated that I would not vote for the project at a reduced height. In fact, I stated that I would vote for the project at the newly proposed height, OR by an additional reduction of one or two feet. Through discussion, the ZAB decided to approve the height with a one foot reduction, protecting the uphill neighbor’s view of the Golden Gate bridge and the water below. 

Andy Katz 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Mr. J. Douglas Allen-Taylor may be the most incisive columnist in the Bay Area. I read him avidly. However, his argumentation slipped up in his column  

on the state of Oakland schools (April 29-May 2, 2005). Reasoning from analogy is not sound argument. Mr. Allen-Taylor likens the state takeover of our  

schools to a thief, or a neighbor, taking your car and keeping it until he learns to drive it. A better analogy of the state to the school district would be parents taking back the family car after their teenage child has crashed it. 

Mark Tatz 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

As a parent of a student in the Berkeley Unified School System, I know that the most important component of a good education, is the classroom 

teacher. And when I was the PTA president for 4 years in both my children’s elementary and middle schools, I felt that my job was to provide support and assistance for teachers. Period. Therefore, I am very dismayed at the way in which the school district is handling its negotiations with the teachers.  

I do not consider the current teacher salaries to be high. I want to have teachers who can afford to live in Berkeley, and send their kids to schools in 

Berkeley. By having teachers participate in all aspects of our school system, it makes the schools better, and our community stronger. I want to have 

teachers who can focus on their students, not worry about health care bills. 

For those who say that everyone is experiencing cuts, I would ask that the district administrators lead by example with cuts to administrative salaries and benefits. If top salaries and benefits are good enough for administrators, then top salaries and benefits are good enough for teachers.  

It is time for the school board to be clear on its priorities. Without teachers, there will be no schools. There are almost 60 teaching positions and 6 

principal positions to fill. I have heard from teachers in other districts that they will not apply to Berkeley because the wages here are low. We taxpayers gave BUSD an extra $8.4 million last November. Part of that money can pay for the $2.1 million to improve the teachers’ compensation. 

Catherine Durand 




Several people have written your paper complaining about neighborhood traffic circles and their effect on pedestrian safety. As a board member of 

both California Walks and America Walks I have been active in investigating traffic control devices and their effect on pedestrian safety. 

The data is overwhelming that traffic circles improve the safety of both pedestrians and drivers. After studding hundreds on neighborhood traffic 

circles over several years in Portland and Washington State the Institute of Transportation Engineers have come to the conclusion that they reduce 

accidents 71 percent. They also reduce noise from intersections from 68db to 60db. Their benefit for pedestrians are first: they eliminate people running stop signs, second they reduce speeds of cars in the intersection.  

For pedestrians speed is critical for safety. At 20 mph a pedestrian who is hit by a car has a 5 percent probability of dying. At 30 mph a pedestrian has a 45 percent probability of dying if hit by a car. At 40mph the probability of being killed by a car increases to 80 percent. Traffic circles on average reduce speeds of cars in intersections from 34mph to 30mph. When they are designed right cars find the most comfortable speed to be around 17mph. This has the added advantage of decreasing the stopping distance for cars and it increases the probability that cars will yield to pedestrians. 

There are several studies now that also show an increase in home value where traffic calming slows traffic speeds. In Suisn City California, homes on 

streets with traffic calming sell for $5-15K more than home without traffic calming. 

If you care about pedestrian safety and your neighborhoods you will find traffic circles can be a welcome improvement. 

Marc Jensen 

Los Gatos 

Column: The View From Here: We Need to Learn New Ways of Judging People By P. M. PRICE

Friday May 06, 2005

In recent weeks both the San Francisco Chronicle and this newspaper have featured essays and letters lambasting the “arrogance” of UC Chancellor Robert Birgeneau’s efforts to affirm the value of diversity, castigating black leaders and parenting skills a nd accusing blacks of using the “victim card” instead of acting more like Asians. And just how do Asians behave? 

I grew up in a well-manicured neighborhood in the Crenshaw section of Los Angeles nicknamed “Little Tokyo.” My brothers and I would run after the Japanese food truck ambling down our street, eager for seaweed wrapped rice balls and hot ginger snacks. I used chopsticks as easily as a fork and I knew how to say hello, thank you and count to ten in Japanese by the time I entered first grade. I al so experienced racism for the first time, not at the hands or from the mouths of white folks but delivered like a slap in the face from my Asian classmates at Coliseum Street Elementary School. 

I remember all of their faces, all of their names. The cruel taunting dished out by Joanne and her sidekick, Jodie. Hiroko, who invited me to her birthday party just so she could slam the door in my face. Jeanie’s mother, who refused to let me inside her house to play, saying I would track black magic into her carpet. I looked behind me all the way home to see if I was indeed leaving a dirty set of footprints behind. I remember the gangs of boys, often led by Danny, who would attack my brothers and steal their bicycles. They had none of the usual excuses. We were middle class, well-behaved and smart. I even skipped a grade. That only served to heighten the maltreatment. Years later I ran into one of my tormentors, Kenny. He asked me if I hated him and he apologized for his part in the relentless abuse. I felt his remorse. 

Most of my schoolmates’ parents and grandparents had spent time in the Japanese internment camps during WWII but nobody talked about it. Many came out determined to prove just how American they really were. In addition to fashioning themselves i nto model students and workers, another way to prove their loyalty to white America was to internalize racist attitudes and behaviors against black Americans. None of this prevents me from empathizing with Japanese Americans who suffered during those year s of legal but unjust treatment. The problem is that the compassion isn’t mutual.  

While many ethnic groups have suffered in this country, particularly Native Americans, the experience of the African American is unique. Millions of Africans were kidnappe d, sold, raped, tortured and murdered. Their languages, religions and families were destroyed. Our Founding Fathers participated in this travesty. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, along with thousands of other white men, fathered children with capt ive African women. Most of these encounters were rapes and most white men enslaved and sold their own children. It is the broken spirit of African Americans that we see manifested today in various self-destructive and anti-social behaviors. A broken spir it requires healing. But as long as Americans choose to remain ignorant of the true history of this country and acknowledge both the privileges and the pain born from the evils of racism and slavery, this country will never heal.  

Last night I attended a n awards ceremony for UC student service groups hosted by Chancellor Birgeneau. As he was leaving I introduced myself and told him that I was disturbed by some of the recent comments of affirmative action opponents and that I was working on a column about this issue. He paused thoughtfully and said only one thing to me before he turned away: “In the end, we have to think of other ways of judging people.”  

That, to me, is the bottom line. Who’s to say who are the “best and the brightest?” Test scores are only one measure. What does this country need? Students like those honored at the Cal Corps Public Service Center. Young people who are improving the environment and helping those in need rather than wasting time blaming and making unfair comparisons. When Asian and white kids fail, do we blame poor parenting? Their “leaders”? Too much TV? Bad genes? When Chancellor Birgeneau successfully pushed for more female representation at MIT did white women complain about quotas then? For a country that professes to be so religious and morally righteous, is anyone asking what Jesus would do? How about Moses? Buddha? Mohammed?  

The word “university” connotes inclusiveness, a bringing together of the whole. We need to learn how to value the individual differences w e all have. The Asian kids at my elementary school weren’t all bad. I also remember Sandy’s gentleness and Kathy’s kindness, Mark’s courage, Ricky’s good cheer and how Dennis always made me laugh. They were not one homogenous lump assigned race leaders, v alues, goals and shortcomings. 

Americans are afraid of racism. Afraid of how it might make them feel and what it might call upon them to give up. As long as we, as a nation, refuse to acknowledge and discuss racism in all of its manifestations, this country will never heal. In order for race to matter less, it has to matter less. And that’s not going to happen without some help from us all. 


Column: Undercurrents:Mr. O’Connell Comes to Oakland With No Exit Plan In Hand J. DOUGLAS ALLEN-TAYLOR

Friday May 06, 2005

Sorry to continue to be a bother about this, but I continue to be puzzled over the details of how Oakland’s schools got taken over by the state, and what needs to be done to get the schools back in Oakland’s hands. 

In last week’s column, we noted that State Senator Don Perata’s SB39—the 2003 legislation that authorized the state seizure of Oakland’s schools—gave a mandate for how the Oakland schools should be run during the takeover: “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 district-wide improvement[s]...” 

Does anyone ever actually look at these things after they are passed? 

Print that sentence out, tape it on the wall above your breakfast table, and then read (or re-read) Robert Gammon’s long and informative article in the April 27 East Bay Express on state-appointed administrator Randolph Ward’s overhaul of the Oakland Unified School District and its education programs. Rather than maintaining Oakland’s core educational reforms begun during the regime of former Superintendent Dennis Chaconas, as called for in the law that authorized his hiring, Mr. Ward has taken Oakland education in a completely different direction. His own? Financier and education-dabbler Eli Broad’s? It certainly ain’t what Oakland had decided we wanted, and which we’d been having success with until the bottom blew out of the budget. 

(In one of those revealing passages you sometimes find like a gold nugget in the midst of government documents, the State Superintendent’s multi-year fiscal recovery plan for Oakland released last week said—a little too eagerly, I think—that “OUSD’s current financial crisis creates an unprecedented opportunity to move beyond recovery to the old academically ineffective system to true renewal of the Oakland school system.” Renewal? And who’s to be the determinator of that?) 

Meanwhile, after two years were spent by his state-appointed school administrator doing things that SB39 didn’t authorize, like revamping the education program, California Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell came to Oakland Technical High School last month to tell Oaklanders why he was so late producing something that was specifically called for in the legislation: producing the multi-year plan for the Oakland system to get out of its fiscal difficulties. 

In his opening remarks to the packed audience in the Tech auditorium, Mr. O’Connell acknowledged that the plan was a long-time coming, but explained the delay. “We didn’t know the tremendous problems facing the district when we took over,” he said. “The problem was bigger than I thought.” 

Let us sit around the hot stove and ponder this statement for a moment, friends. 

In the years leading up to the 2003 state takeover of Oakland’s schools, no school district in the state was under more of a fiscal microscope than Oakland Unified. The state-organized Fiscal Crisis Management Assistance Team (FCMAT) was hired in April of 1999 to look into Oakland Unified’s financial problems, and published a comprehensive fiscal assessment of the district later that year. Oakland’s school financial problems were then being monitored by the Alameda County Office of Education and the county office’s fiscal advisor, Pete Yasitis, who was later loaned to OUSD to oversee Oakland’s fiscal recovery. The next year, in fact, OUSD Superintendent Dennis Chaconas hired Yasitis away from ACOE to be his deputy superintendent in charge of fiscal affairs. (It was Yasitis, by the way, who wrote the unbalanced budget that bankrupted the Oakland school system and led to the state takeover, one of those “oddities” about this situation that has never been fully explained.) 

Then in October of 2002 (this time while her former fiscal deputy, Mr. Yasitis, was running Oakland Unified’s budget show) Alameda County School Superintendent Sheila Jordan again sent for FCMAT to oversee the Oakland’s school finances and the organization produced another series of comprehensive reports on the situation. And finally, in June of 2004, following the state takeover, the office of the California State Controller completed and published a comprehensive audit of Oakland Unified’s 2002-03 budget detailing the “problems facing the district” that Mr. O’Connell talked about at Tech. All of these are on top of the financial audit reports regularly issued by Oakland Unified’s own auditors. 

But ten months later, after a long period of state and county and local oversight and with comprehensive fiscal reports mounting, Mr. O’Connell came to Oakland and said that, frankly, he couldn’t produce a recovery plan sooner because he hadn’t known how bad things were. Didn’t he read the reports? 

It gets worse. 

In April of 2003, Oakland school officials traveled to Sacramento to testify before the Senate Education Committee to speak on Perata’s SB39 bill and the proposed state loan and school takeover. During the hearing, in answer to questions by Senators, Superintendent Dennis Chaconas and then-Oakland School Board President Greg Hodge tried to provide details on how Oakland got into its fiscal problems. Senate Education Committee Chairperson John Vasconcellos cut them off, saying “we’re not here to talk about that.” In fact, there has never been a state investigation-as opposed to an audit-of how Oakland’s school problems came to be, including what might be interesting testimony from the long-departed Mr. Yasitis (he retired from his job as OUSD’s fiscal director sometime before the residue hit the fan). If Mr. O’Connell didn’t know the true extent of the Oakland problem when the state legislature was considering handing the Oakland schools over to him in the spring of 2003, why didn’t he just drop by the Senate Education Committee hearings and ask somebody? 

Or then again, maybe the two-year delay in the release of the multi-year recovery plan was simply a stall for something else. 

In any event, Mr. O’Connell did come to Oakland last month, and released the long-awaited plan detailing how he and Mr. Ward will get Oakland Unified in good enough fiscal shape to turn it back over to Oakland. 

Someone from the audience asked him the obvious question: Can you give us a date certain as to when local control will return? 

“I wish I had a date,” Mr. O’Connell replied. “I don’t have a date. There are certain standards that have to be met.” And what are those standards? “The standards will be set by the county office of education and by our auditing agencies.” [The emphasis on the will be set are mine.] 

The problem is, try as I might, I can’t find the part in SB39 that mentions some sort of new standards for local control that need to be set in order to OUSD’s governing board to “regain all of its rights, duties, and powers.” The only such standards for return of local control that I can find are outlined in SECTION 5 (e) (6) of the law, which reads: “The Superintendent of Public Instruction concurs with the assessment of the administrator and FCMAT that future compliance by the Oakland Unified School District with the [FCMAT] improvement plan … and the [State Superintendent’s] multiyear financial recovery plan … is probable.” 

FCMAT’s updated Assessment and Recovery Plan mandated under the Oakland takeover law was completed and released in September of 2003. Mr. O’Connell came to Oakland last month with his multiyear recovery plan. Yet he still says that “certain standards” for the return of local control have yet to be set, standards that don’t seem to be called for in the law. 

Is Mr. O’Connell really searching around for these elusive “certain standards?” Or is the real problem that Mr. Ward’s overhaul of Oakland’s education program-another little item not called for in SB39-needs more time to be completed? 

I don’t have any answers to that one, friends. I’m just sitting around here, asking a couple of questions. Like I said, sorry to be a bother. 



Friday May 06, 2005



Knife Flasher 

A 65-year-old man called police just after midnight Monday to report that a heavyset man had brandished a knife at him as he was walking in the 2000 block of Addison Street. 

The suspect had fled in a black car before police arrived. 


Moonlight Auto Supply 

Persons or persons unknown stole thousands of dollars worth of tires and wheels at McNevin Cadillac & Volkswagen at 1500 San Pablo Ave. sometime between Sunday night and early Monday morning. 


Smash and Dash 

Police are seeking two men who threw a can or bottle that smashed the rear window of a car driving along the 1500 block of Cedar Street shortly after 5 p.m. Monday. 

The pair had fled by the time police arrived, perhaps aware that by throwing at an occupied car they had escalated their crime from a misdemeanor vandalism to a felony. 


Meter Tampering Bust  

Police have finally nabbed one of the folks who’ve been vandalizing the city’s parking meters! 

Responding to a report at 11 a.m. Tuesday, officers arrived in the 2100 block of Allston Way to find the criminal in the process of robbing a meter. 

Taking their arrival as an affront, said meter bandit hot-footed himself away from the scene, setting off a spirited foot chase that finally came to an end on Milvia Street just south of Kittredge Street, said Officer Okies. 

Beyond the felony theft charge—mandated because of a prior conviction—the 32-year-old meter bandit was also charged with resisting arrest and probation violation.  


Sexual Battery 

A Berkeley woman called to report that a bicyclist had ridden up behind her and groped her while she was walking in the 2500 block of Hillegass Avenue about 11:15 Tuesday night. 

The suspect, described as a man in his forties wearing a baseball cap and a gray or brown jacket, was long gone when officers arrived. 


Marina Robberies 

A man wearing a dark trenchcoat confronted two customers in the parking lot of HS Lordship’s at the Berkeley Marina about 11:30 Tuesday night and relieved them of their wallets before fleeing in a white van. 



The Things They Carried Home: Young Soldiers By JOSUE ROJAS

Pacific News Service
Friday May 06, 2005

Tim O’Brien was 21 years old when he was sent to fight in Vietnam. More than two decades later, he wrote the literary masterpiece The Things They Carried. The book describes a handful of soldiers in Vietnam, and the things they carried—a girlfriend’s panties, a Cherokee hunting hatchet, comic books, illustrated bibles, dope, cigarettes, condoms, photographs, chewing gum and so forth. For years, O’Brien carried inside him the things his fellow soldiers carried, before setting them down on the page.  

These days, soldiers carry gizmos. If O’Brien were to document the things soldiers carry today, he’d have to include a grip of technology. With digital cameras, laptops and MP3 player/recorders, today’s soldiers capture and convey the non-fiction, funny, tragic, bloody reality of war at the same time they experience it.  

My boy C-los, 18, is one such soldier. When I met him four years ago, he was a tall, lanky, shy kid addicted to smoking menthols and talking mess after whoopin’ the rest of us at the computer game Halo.  

Back then, he’d huddle beside me and his big brother Tear as we told small-time San Francisco graffiti war stories. These days, he does the telling, we do the huddling. He’s stationed in Mosul, Iraq and carries an automatic rifle, hella bullets, a pack of Newports, a special love for SF’s Mission District, a digi-cam, an MP3 player/recorder and a laptop loaded with music and a variety of mpeg music videos (Outkast’s Bombs Over Baghdad) and porn.  

Not to mention some of the greatest war photos I’ve ever seen. Half the guys in his platoon pack a digi-cam, and after missions, C-los downloads their photos. He has about two dozen missions from the point of view of a dozen soldiers.  

He also carries a special chunk of military jewelry, a powerful piece of metal dangling from his uniform. Known as a combat infantry badge, it’s much heavier than the modest couple ounces it weighs.  

“You become combat infantry the moment you get shot at,” C-los explains. He describes how the soldiers have a campfire ceremony that same night, capturing the gathering on their digital cameras.  

C-los’ first firefight lasted four hours. I ask him if he ever feels bad about killing people. “The ones I killed tried to kill me and my boys,” he answered. C-los says it’s about the man next to you.  

Some insurgents spray-paint graffiti threats on the walls to dishearten the troops. “We have our translators write graffiti right back,” C-los tells me. A tag battle in Iraq—how’s that for a graffiti war story? (You win, C-los).  

In the midst of it all, the troops make time to pose for goofy pictures, play Halo and sing their rendition of Lil John and the East Side Boyz’ “Get Low” in a fake Arabic accent. C-los opens iTunes to play me the track he recorded on his MP3 player. We laugh out loud for a while. Then C-los falls silent and stares blankly, straight ahead.  

“There’s one thing I regret,” he says. “I wish I would’ve finished high school. I’d have different friends, more money, a chance to go to college.”  

On his laptop, C-los opens one last picture. It’s a photograph of him, taken from behind, walking into a long, narrow corridor with high walls.  

“All you have do is shoot at me from above and that would be the end of me,” he says. “The funny thing is, I walk into situations like that every day. Sometimes, I look back and the wall behind me looks like shredded cheese, like in ‘Pulp Fiction.’”  

C-los packs his stuff away. He’s given me most of his last night home—not to mention a priceless library of his and his platoon’s digital documentation of the war.  

I give him a cholo handshake. He walks into his parents’ house, oil refinery smokestacks in the background. I know he’s anxious to return to Iraq. He says he wanted to be with his boys who need him. The last glimpse I get of my friend as he cuts into the doorway is of his desert fatigue pack. The gizmos inside stand as witnesses, bearing testimony to the things he and his friends have seen—and carried home with them.  

I pray for C-los all the time. I also tell his war stories.  



Josué Rojas is an editor for YO! Youth Outlook (www.youthoutlook.org), a magazine by and for Bay Area youths and a PNS project. To view photos from C-los and his platoon, see http://media.youthoutlook.org/flash/photo-essay/iraq-tttch/

Commentary: Outcry at Library Meeting Justified by Substantial Issues By ZOIA HORN

Friday May 06, 2005

I was sorry to read the public meeting of the Library Board of Trustees last Wednesday characterized as resembling a “high school pep rally.” I have attended public meetings when important issues that meant a great deal to the attendees, and this one was another good example of democracy in action. (In San Francisco Public Library during the fees for computer service fracas, in Oakland, when a Military Academy was foisted on the city despite the standing room only meetings and negative votes by Boards of Education of Oakland and Alameda County). The Berkeley Public Library Board of Trustees President, Laura Anderson quietly, but firmly determined that everyone who wanted to speak, would do so. Surely there were outcries, clapping and some booing, but all were heard. It was the substance, the sharing of information and concerns, the search for solutions that mattered more than the formal manners that often suppress what needs to be aired. 

Much information came from experienced staff members, some with great clarity, some even with eloquence. Passions ran high. The issues were serious: jobs were at stake; changes had been made that undermined years of devoted building of neighborhood branch services; librarians and other workers had felt that they were being treated like interchangeable machine parts with little respect given to their expertise and experience in the area of major decisions that would affect the library, its patrons and the Berkeley community. 

The unexpected defeat in November of the ballot measure that would have raised property taxes for the library was a shock. Berkeley for many years had fervently supported its libraries. Budget shortfalls caused the Director to propose layoffs, apparently “the second set of layoffs in 12 months” as mentioned in American Libraries (April 2005, p13). There have been some changes since then, some moneys have been found, but the frustration and resentment grew. 

Added to that was the commitment to a $650,000 investment in the “radio frequency identification device” (RFID) project that required much preparation. This new-to-libraries technology would allow patrons to charge out their books and eliminate long lines. It has been used to track cattle, prisoners, merchandise etc., only recently, libraries. A sad failing among librarians has been an attempt to emulate businesses. When businesses and industries create and adopt new technologies, they expect it will reap more profits by eliminating labor costs. Libraries are not, and were never meant to be businesses. Public libraries and librarians are part of our commitment to a democratic society that relies on informed citizens to participate in their own government. 

This new technology has not been adequately tested. In Eugene, OR, I saw, behind the scenes, the conveyer belt dropping books into specific bins for shelving. (That is the next step that can be expected). But some bins were overflowing. The books still have to be shelved, and in Berkeley library, it was indicated at the meeting, it has far too few shelvers. The expectation of even 90 percent self-charge-outs has not been realized in the few libraries that use RFID. Patrons need help.  

As with many technological devices, things go wrong and dependency on quick repairs if often illusory. Some weeks ago I phoned the BPL for a recorded musical composition only to be told the computer had been down for several days and although the librarian valiantly tried to find it, it was an impossible task since it could be in an anthology of many small pieces. With RFID the consequences could be a mountain of returned books that couldn’t be discharged, and therefore not shelved, or couldn’t be borrowed without resorting to paper and pencil? 

The very real concern for repetitive motion syndrome and the worker compensation costs that were used as one justification for the RFID project seemed to shrink as the only solution to a problem that might be dealt with in less dramatic and costly ways. Asking for staff participation in finding solutions might produce useful suggestions. 

Very disturbing is the danger to our privacy that this new technology presents. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Electronic Freedom Foundation are concerned and are wary about the devices. In our present climate of fear and government intimidation as evidenced by the USA Patriot Act, we do not want our libraries even as unwitting participants in surveillance and spying. 

As a retired librarian from public, university, school and special libraries and a long-term advocate and fighter for intellectual freedom I urge that we affirm our commitment to free, equal access to publicly-supported libraries and schools as essential learning centers for democratic living. That must include support for the librarians and teachers who touch and teach us throughout our lives.  

Commentary: Zoning Study Masks Destruction of Plan By JOHN CURL

Friday May 06, 2005

The City Council voted 5-4 to burn the West Berkeley Plan. It wasn’t worded like that, of course. On April 19, they approved funding to begin an “incremental” evaluation of the Plan by studying changing the zoning of Ashby and Gilman west of San Pablo from industrial to commercial, to bring in more sales tax revenue from regional retail.  

Think about that a minute. How is that an evaluation of the Plan? How do you evaluate a plan by studying how to turn it upside down? A plan has goals, policies, and implementation strategies. Ordinarily one would assume that the city would evaluate an area plan by looking at its goals and analyzing how well its policies and implementation strategies achieved them. The West Berkeley Plan’s central goal and land use policy are summed up in two sentences: “Maintaining a mix of uses within West Berkeley is the overriding goal of the West Berkeley Plan.” (P 34) “Preserving and supporting all of the elements of this vital mix of land uses is the central policy of the West Berkeley Plan.” (P. 17)  

But while they’re calling this pre-ordained zoning change an evaluation of the Plan, it’s really just a flimsy cover, a pretext, a disingenuous ploy to hide the truth that its proponents disagree with the goals of the West Berkeley Plan and are trying to overturn them. To them, West Berkeley is not a community to protect but a cash cow to milk. What the Council really funded was a move to dismantle the Plan piecemeal.  

The Plan recognizes that West Berkeley is a successful part of the city, not a blighted area. Because of this, “the Plan seeks to guide its evolution, rather than radically reshape it,” and “aims to guide and manage West Berkeley’s growth, so that growth does not overwhelm West Berkeley’s character.” Because developers were aggressively converting manufacturing buildings into other uses, and because industrial and arts and crafts spaces were deemed to be valuable but threatened community resources and essential parts of the mix, the Plan gave zoning protections to those uses.  

Converting lower Gilman and Ashby into regional shopping centers would be catastrophic. The strip malls would soon overwhelm the surrounding blocks, raising property values beyond current tenants’ reach, gentrifying the neighborhoods, and pushing out industries, arts and crafts, and small start-up businesses of every type that flourish today in the sanctuary of industrial zoning. The ensuing gentrification spiral would drive many creative people out of town, replace them with upscale consumerists, and quickly transform West Berkeley from the last funky affordable dynamic corner of town into just another facade of yuppieworld. 

That’s if their scheme is a success. But retail on Ashby and Gilman might not even be financially successful. What if they built their shopping malls and nobody came? What would attract that army of shoppers away from Emeryville, Albany, and El Cerrito? Where would they park? Parking structures would be required. What if two successful neighborhoods were sacrificed and there wasn’t even any payoff? Do the proponents of this proposal even care? Does the city really want to siphon off more shoppers away from Downtown, Solano, Telegraph, and College Ave. businesses? 

The pretext for this Mad Tea Party is that the West Berkeley Plan is supposed to be evaluated in 2005, and the planning director estimated that a full evaluation would probably cost two years of one full-time staff person’s time. He presented this “incremental” scheme as an on-the-cheap alternative. I’m not blaming the planning director, since this is really coming from Mayor Bates. 

If you can’t afford to do it right, wait until you can. This is much worse than doing nothing. 

But ignoring or undermining its own plans is standard procedure in Berkeley. They always pick and choose which parts to implement, and which parts are just window dressing. Over the years numerous Berkleyans have considered suing the city for not following its own plans. In other California cities, similar lawsuits have successfully blocked inappropriate development promoted by arrogant elected officials and planning staffs. However, Berkeley is a “charter” city, and the city attorney says that charter cities are exempt from lawsuits of this type. That’s right folks, the city solicits all this extensive community input into all of its plans, including the General Plan, but then doesn’t feel obliged to follow them.  

The West Berkeley Plan was truly a peoples’ plan. It was written by the West Berkeley community itself, in a process set up and guided by the planning commission. Every stakeholding sector participated and signed onto the final document. What a radical concept, a community actually making its own plan, with help from city government! Passed unanimously by Council. But the ink was barely dry when the Plan came under heavy attack by developers who wanted to convert industrial buildings into offices to exploit the dot-com boom. They railed against the West Berkeley Plan, and intensely lobbied elected officials and staff to ignore the industrial zoning. The foresight of the West Berkeley Plan was revealed during the dot-com bust when other cities which had jettisoned their industries and arts for uncontrolled office development had miles of empty office space while West Berkeley’s economy stayed strong and stable due to its maintaining a dynamic mix of uses. Then, after the office boom went bust, the developers shifted gear into the new development fad of converting industrial into retail and residential, which is where we’re at now. 

Contrary to what the mayor apparently thinks, the goals of the Plan remain valid and laudable today. Any evaluation should focus not on ways to undermine the goals, but on ways to improve implementation. 

My deepest thanks to Councilmembers Dona Spring, Linda Maio, Max Anderson, and Kriss Worthington for their votes against this sham evaluation and in support of the real West Berkeley Plan. 

Make no mistake about it: West Berkeley is under heavy siege, and the battle will intensify next fall, when the “incremental” evaluation begins popping up on the planning commission’s agenda. The saddest part of all is that the most right-wing clique in recent memory currently controls the commission, most of whom I expect to applaud this cynical ploy. Over a year ago commission chair Pollack distributed a memo claiming, “a key goal of the West Berkeley Plan is fostering the economic development of West Berkeley and maintaining West Berkeley as a primary source of tax revenues.” Pollack didn’t find that anywhere in the actual text of the Plan, but just made it up. He and other advocates of rapid gentrification make no bones about substituting their own goals for the people’s plan.  

If you care about maintaining diversity in Berkeley, get ready to come out and fight for it. 

Commentary: White Washing the Spanish Civil War By LAWRENCE JARACH

Friday May 06, 2005

I would like to comment on the announcement of the publication of The Frontlines of Social Change: Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade (Daily Planet, April 26-28). Not having read the book, I cannot say anything about its contents, but the subject of the Spanish Revolution and Civil War deserves something more than the glowing pro-Stalinist whitewash usually presented in such volumes—and in Brenneman’s puff piece. 

First off, while the Lincolns may have been “poorly armed,” that is certainly not true for the bulk of the International Brigades. Being organized by the Comintern, all the IB contingents, as well as the Communist-dominated Spanish Popular Army, got the best arms supplied by Stalin (and paid for at falsely inflated prices—see Gerald Howson’s “Arms for Spain”); it was the non-Stalinist militias that received substandard arms, when they received any at all. 

Second, it is only too true that the IBs “battled for the Spanish Republic.” Unfortunately, the Republic was not worth defending from a revolutionary or radical perspective. Made up of social democrats, liberals, and other anti-revolutionary forces—including the Spanish Communist Party—the Republic was a bulwark against the collectivization of industry and agriculture by the Spanish workers and peasants. The leaders of the Republic not only gave away the gold in the Bank of Spain to pay for Stalin’s so-called aid, but they also refused to consider granting Spanish Morocco its independence (which would most likely have undercut Franco’s Moroccan shock troops’ loyalty) because they didn’t want to upset the French and British colonialists (see Antony Beevor’s Spanish Civil War.) But the defense of the thoroughly corrupt and bourgeois Republic fit in perfectly with Stalin’s foreign policy of mollifying the bourgeois governments of France and Britain by showing no interest in revolution in Western Europe; Stalin’s plan was to form some kind of pseudo-antifascist alliance with France and Britain against Hitler’s Germany. That worked so well that Stalin and Hitler formed a pact in 1939. 

The Spanish workers and peasants revolution that began in 1936 as a result of the attempted clerico-militarist coup against the Republic was actively suppressed by the Republic and its Stalinist supporters (see Burnett Bolloten’s “The Spanish Civil War” and George Orwell’s “Homage to Catalonia”), just as the non-Leninist Russian workers, peasants, and soldiers soviets were crushed by the Bolsheviks eighteen years earlier (see Maurice Brinton’s “The Bolsheviks and Worker’s Control”). The intentions of the Lincolns and their allies and supporters may have been sincere in terms of deliciously vague phrases like “the cause of social justice,” but their first and overriding loyalty was to the Party and its bosses in Moscow. The show trials that started in the same year as the Spanish conflict, the Hitler-Stalin Pact, the military interventions in Eastern Europe just after the Second World War, the repression of the 

striking Berlin workers in 1953, the crushing of the Hungarian Revolution... the list of Marxist-Leninist duplicity, betrayal, and counter-revolution is long and brutal. Yet according to Brenneman—and presumably Bermack—it was only “after Soviet Premier Nikita Krushschev revealed the murderous crimes of Josef Stalin” that “many veterans [of the Lincoln Brigade] dropped out of the party.” As long as the amply documented counter-revolutionary misdeeds of “Uncle Joe” and his loyal gangsters remained unacknowledged by the Party, everything was fine, and “social justice” could continue to be executed. Whatever contributions to the betterment of humanity were made by Leninists and Stalinists throughout history were unintentional.  

Horizontal decision making and direct (i.e. non-representative, non-electoral) action are the forms that worker and peasant revolutionary self-organization have taken since at least the time of the Paris Commune. Such activity is always and necessarily anti-statist and anti-capitalist. Members of the anarchist mass movement in Spain (despite the stupidities of its self-appointed leaders who betrayed the most fundamental anarchist principle by joining the government) actively promoted this tradition by forming and aiding in the formation of industrial and agricultural collectives in areas where revolutionary self-organization was possible—that is, areas where the Spanish Republic was ignored. The Spanish Communists destroyed them as soon as they were strong enough militarily. So much for “social justice.” 

Revolution, Racism and Family in “Angela’s Mixtape” By FRED DODSWORTH

Friday May 06, 2005

Angela Davis came back home to Berkeley for her birthday. No, not that Angela Davis, but her niece, Angela Eisa Davis, known as Eisa to her family, fans and friends. The former Berkeley High School graduate, class of 1988, left Berkeley for a degree at Harvard followed by an master’s of fine arts from the Actors Studio Drama School, in Manhattan. 

Eisa, who just celebrated her 34th birthday on Thursday, is here to perform in a hiphop play she wrote and stars in called Angela’s Mixtape, at La Peña this Saturday and Sunday evening, part of the 4th annual Hiphop Theater Festival currently touring the United States.  

Eisa’s character and identity was forged in the crucible of Berkeley, as a member of one of our country’s leading intellectual families—African-American families. Her mother was a Swarthmore graduate who received her law degree from Boalt, her aunt was the Black Panther Angela Davis, whom Eisa knows as a soft-voiced and affectionate woman. 

“This play, what I’m trying to do in the play is … a bridge between what it is that our parents tried to do, and are trying to do, and what it is that we’re doing,” she said.  

“Don’t get all Angela Davis on me,” is a phrase most people might understand, but for Eisa it’s a phrase she has had directed at her by people who don’t know her connection, and a phrase that has powerful resonance to her sense of self and place in the modern world. It’s a large load to carry but it’s also fertile soil to farm. Eisa’s artistic work, especially her plays, re-examines the historic record from an intimate and personal perspective.  

“I’m trying to achieve in all my work the whole concept of ‘Sankofa’— you have to return to your past and understand exactly what happened there in order to claim your future,” Eisa said. “That’s something that I’ve been doing in all of my work … trying to find what it is that my artistic elders have been up to and sort of seeing how it is that those lessons can be applied today. There’s so many contradictions in that but again, they’re just tools that you have to reshape in order to make them effective.”  

Although she returns to Berkeley regularly to see her family and friends, New York is now Eisa’s home. A surprising number of her Berkeley friends have moved to Eisa’s Brooklyn neighborhood, they jokingly refer to it as B-Town Canal. (B-Town is hiphop nomenclature for Berkeley.) 

“New York seems to be one of the few places where a lot people feel they can actually go from being here. It’s either you stay (in Berkeley) or you go to New York or Portugal,” she said laughing.  

Racism is a reducing agent that stains our culture and informs Eisa’s artistic work.  

“I grew up here at a time when we really were in a Utopia, that’s how I felt,” she said. “I could feel it, palpably, that everyone around me tried to create a world around me that was free of all these ‘isms.’ We were this Utopian experiment that was actually working. There was a sense of tribalism. We were different.  

“I think in a lot of ways I grew up really feeling as racism had been eradicated or at least abated in someway. Then going to the East Coast I discovered that wasn’t the case in the rest of the country.”  

Nor was it really eradicated in Berkeley.  

“Our society is (racist) and Berkeley, as much as we try to be the ‘People’s Republic’, of course, it’s systematic and it happens no matter what it is that we chose to do,” Eisa said. “This play is really looking at how thinking that we had resolved and trumped the issue of racism actually hid the racism that was always there and still is. That’s what the play gets into, how racism functions and how racism functioned at that time, underneath the umbrella of what was later, strategically called P.C.”  


Angela’s Mixtape plays Saturday and Sunday, May 7-8, 8 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center, 3105 Shattuck Ave. Reservations are recommended. For details, call 849-2568 or see www.lapena.org/Cuentos/Cuentos.html. For more information about the Hiphop Theater Festival see www.hiphoptheaterfest.org.  



Berkeley Symphony Presents Premiere of “Manzanar” By KEN BULLOCK Special to the Planet

Friday May 06, 2005

The Berkeley Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Musical Director Kent Nagano, will present the world premiere of Manzanar—An American Story, a semi-staged oratorio for orchestra, chorus and narrators, on Tuesday May 10 at Zellerbach Hall. 

Manzanar, perhaps the most notorious of the camps where Japanese-Americans were interned during the Second World War, features a text by playwright Philip Kan Gotanda that embodies the voices of internees and reflections from literature on freedom, set to the music of composers Naomi Sekiya, Jean-Pascal Beintus and David Benoit, and performed by soprano Elsa van den Heever and the San Francisco Girls Chorus, with guest narrators Dale Minami, Pat Suzuki, Kevin Starr, Wendy Tokuda, Rajiv Shah, and Sab Shinomo. 

The program also will present other composers’ “ruminations on freedom and existence,” including Charles Ives’ “The Unanswered Question,” and Beethoven’s Fidelio.  

The idea for Manzanar originated several years ago, when State Librarian Kevin Starr requested a new work for the 50th anniversary of the internment camps. It was organized through the California Civil Liberties Public Educational Program (partly funded and overseen by the State Library), as part of the reparations for the internment as approved by Congress, including projects funded over the past five years. Senator Daniel Inoue was project honorary co-chairman. 

For the project, Starr nominated Nagano, who said, “As for nearly all the Japanese-Americans of my generation, the Japanese internment camps directly affected my family, and the opportunity to explore this period in our history through a project that incorporates musical and narrative elements is compelling.”  

Nagano said he assembled “a team of internationally recognized artists ... asking them to bring a unique perspective ... to explore through the language of music not only the Japanese-American internment camp experience, but also the larger question, what it means to be an American ... their experiences will then serve as a touchstone for reflecting upon the tensions between liberty and security that continue to challenge us today.” 

Playwright Philip Kan Gotanda, also an independent filmmaker, was born in Stockton. One of the best-known Asian-American playwrights, this Guggenheim Fellow’s collected work, No More Cherry Blossoms, will be published later this year by the University of Washington Press. 

Composer Naomi Sekiya—herself an immigrant, whose music in the narrative covers the period from early Japanese immigration to WW II—was born in a village near Nikko, Japan. She studied music at UCLA and USC. Her work has received awards at international competitions and at the Ojai Festival in 2000. She is known for her guitar compositions, and has been composer-in-residence with the Berkeley Symphony. 

Composer Jean-Pascal Beintus—whose music for Manzanar covers from the time of internment up to present—was born in Toulouse, France. He has played double bass for Opera de Lyons, and has collaborated with the Berkeley Symphony since Kent Nagano first commissioned a work from him in 1998, most notably on “Luna Tree,” and “The Bremen Town Musicians.” 

Bakersfield native David Benoit, who contributes jazz and big band music integral to Japanese-American experience, is best-known for “smooth jazz,” like his Grammy-nominated album, Every Step of the Way. He has studied composition and film music, been the musical director of the Asia America Symphony in Southern California and has performed in concert with conductor Leonard Bernstein at Carnegie Hall.  

As part of the project, educational programs among 5th graders in Berkeley and Albany Public Schools have been carried out as part of the California historical curriculum, with multimedia presentations, visits by musicians, visual artists and internees. The 5th graders’ drawings are part of an installation by artist Flo Oy Wong, “1942 Luggage From Home To Camp,” in Zellerbach’s lobby. 

It was visual art, in the form of photography, that publicized the existence of the internment camps to a wider American public. Dorothea Lange’s photos of Manzanar, exhibited at the camp in 1944, raised controversy over the executive order that interned American citizens, and conditions at the camps. Ansel Adams’ pictures, originally titled “Born Free and Equal, the Story of Loyal Japanese Americans,” were exhibited at the New York Museum of Modern Art in 1944 under the less controversial title, “Manzanar.” The book of 66 prints was finally published in 1994, under the original title. Adams donated his prints to the Library of Congress, on whose website they may be viewed online. 


Arts Calendar

Friday May 06, 2005



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

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. 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.  

Guru Garage, jazz funk at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 848-8277. 

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

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

Otis Goodnight, Raw Deluxe at 9 p.m. at Shattuck Down Low, 2284 Shattuck Ave. Cost is $8. 548-1159.  

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.  

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.  

Kill the Dream, Die Young, Invictus Maneo at 8 p.m. at 924 Gilman St. 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.  

Big Skin at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 848-8277. 

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

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. 

Braziu with Feijoada Completa at 9 p.m. at Shattuck Down Low, 2284 Shattuck Ave. Cost is $10-$12. 548-1159. www.shattuckdownlow.com 



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.  

Eric & Suzy Thompson and the Thompson String Ticklers at 5 p.m. at Jupiter. 

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.  



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

“Punim: Our Spoken Treasures” An exhibit of photographs at the BRJCC, 1414 Walnut St., through June 7. 848-0237. www.brjcc.org 


Buddhism and Film: “Words of My Perfect Teacher” at 7:30 p.m. at the Pacific Film Archive. Cost is $4-$8. 642-0808. www.bampfa.berkeley.edu 


Josh Kornbluth reads from his new edition of “Red Diaper Baby” at 7:30 p.m. at Black Oak Books. 486-0698. www.blackoakbooks.com 

J. Othello introduces “The Soul of Rock & Roll: A History of African Americans in Rock Music” at 6:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Sponsored by Cody’s Books. 845-7852. www.codysbooks.com 

Poetry Express with John Rowe at 7 p.m. at Priya Restaurant, 2072 San Pablo Ave. berkeleypoetryexpress@yahoo.com  


Walter Savage Strings ‘N Things at 8 and 10 p.m. at Yoshi’s at Jack London Square. Cost is $8-$10. 238-9200. www.yoshis.com 



Asra Nomani describes “Standing Alone in Mecca: An American Woman’s Struggle for the Soul of Islam” at 7:30 p.m. at First Congregational Church, 2345 Channing Way. Suggested donation $10. Sponsored by Cody’s Books. 845-7852. www.codysbooks.com 

Arthur Asa Berger introduces “The Kabbalah Killings: A Murder Mystery Introduction to Jewish Mysticism” at 7:30 p.m. at the BRJCC, 1414 Walnut St. 848-0237. 

Kai Bird and Martin Sherwin introduce “American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer” at 7:30 p.m. at Cody’s Books. 845-7852. www.codysbooks.com 

PEN West’s Annual Translation Event with Robert Alter, Robert Goldman and H. Mack Horton at 7:30 p.m. at Black Oak Books. 486-0698. www.blackoakbooks.com 


Berkeley Symphony Orchestra “Manzanar: An American Story” at 8 p.m. at Zellerbach Hall, UC Campus. Pre-concert talk at 7 p.m. Tickets are $22-$49. 841-2800. www.berkeleysymphony.org 

Pacific Brass Quintet at 8 p.m. at Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant Ave. Tickets are $20. 525-5211.  

Tom Rigney & Flambeau at 8:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cajun dance lesson at 8 p.m. Cost is $9. 525-5054.  

The Strawbs at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $20.50- $21.50. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 

Mike Lipskin at 8 p.m. at Downtown. 649-3810. 

Adam Evolve, Jon Roniger, americana, at 9:30 p.m. at The Stork Club, 2330 Telegraph Ave., Oakland. Tickets are $5. 444-6174.  

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

Will Bernard Trio at 8 and 10 p.m. Yoshi’s at Jack London Square. Cost is $6-$10. 238-9200. www.yoshis.com 



Medea Benjamin talks about “Stop the Next War Now: Effective Responses to Violence and Terrorism” at 7:30 p.m. at Cody’s Books. 845-7852. www.codysbooks.com 

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

Café Poetry with Kira Allen at 7:30 p.m. at La Peña. Donation $2. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 


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

Berkeley Opera “Macbeth” by Verdi, with the UC Alumni Chorus at 7:30 p.m. at Julia Morgan Theater. Tickets are $15-$40. 841-1903. www.berkeleyopera.org 

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

Anthony Paul & Mz Dee at 9 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Swing dance lesson with Nick & Shanna at 8 p.m. Cost is $9. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

ThaMuseMeant and Baby Gramps, ballads and progressive folk, at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $16.50-$17.50. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 

SomethingFour at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 848-8277. 

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

Berkeley This Week

Friday May 06, 2005


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. 

City Commons Club Noon Luncheon with Leslie P. Peirce, Prof. UCB, on “Women in Islamic Society” 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.  

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. 

Bob Avakian’s Memoir book release party at 7 p.m. at King Middle School, 1781 Rose St. 848-1196. 

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.  

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 

Hidden Gems of Berkeley Bike Tour Meet at Halcyon Commons next to Prince Street, one block west of Telegraph at 10 a.m. to see unusual natural and domestic places, on a 6-7 mile ride. Bring a lunch, snack, and water, $4 to purchase the map (optional). Co-sponsored by Bicycle Friendly Berkeley Coalition, Livable Berkeley, and Berkeley Partners for Parks. 849-1969.  

“Water: The Next Crisis” with Laura Santina at 10 a.m. at the Berkeley Gray Panthers Office, 1403 Addison St. 548-9696. 

Public Read-In to Protest RFID We will read from Robert O’Harrow's book “No Place to Hide,” which discusses Radio Frequency Identification Devices (RFIDs), privacy rights, and the proliferation of surveillance technology from 1 to 3 p.m. in front of the Main Library, Kittredge at Shattuck. Sponsored by BOLD (Berkeleyans Organizing for Library Defense) 415-568-5157. 

Bay Area Women in Black Mother’s Day Procession with giant puppets and theater, from noon to 1 p.m. at Lakeshore Ave., at Mandana in Oakland. www.bayareawomeninblack.org 

Spartacus Youth Forum on getting military recruiters off campus at 3 p.m. in 20 Barrows Hall, UC Campus. 839-0851. 

“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. 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. www.georgeva.com 


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. 

Green Sunday “Indian Casinos in the East Bay ...Economic Boon or Social Disaster?” at 5 p.m. at Niebyl-Proctor Library, 6501 Telegraph Ave., Oakland. 

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 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. 

Tuesday Tilden Walkers Join a few slowpoke seniors at 9:30 a.m. in the parking lot near the Little Farm for an hour or two walk. In case of questionable weather, call around 8 a.m. 215-7672, 524-9992. 

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. 

Small Business Class “Writing an Effective Business Plan” from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Berkeley Public Library, Community Room, 2090 Kittredge St. Sponsored by the Small Business Network. Free but registration required. 981-6148. 

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 

Berkeley Camera Club meets at 7:30 p.m., at the Northbrae Community Church, 941 The Alameda. Share your digital images, slides and prints. 548-3991. www.berkeleycameraclub.org 

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


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

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

State Density Bonus Meeting on the implementation of this new law in Berkeley, with the Zoning Adjustments Board Sub-Committee at 4 p.m. in the City of Berkeley Planning Dept. 981-7484, 981-7410. 

Balinese Music & Dance Workshops Wed. evenings through June 8 at 7:30 p.m. in El Cerrito. Cost is $60 for all five classes, $15 per class. Registration required. 6485 Conlon Ave., El Cerrito. 237-6849. www.gsj.org 

“Mysterious Neighbors: The Chinese, The Japanese and The Jews in the SF Bay Area from the Gold Rush to the Present” with Fred Rosenbaum. Brown bag lunch at 11:30 a.m. at BRJCC, 1414 Walnut St. Cost is $5. 848-0237. www.brjcc.org 

May Day in Caracas 2005, a multi-media report back at 7:30 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $5-$15. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

Poetry Writing Workshop with Alison Seevak at 7 p.m. at the Albany Library, 1247 Marin Ave. 526-3720. 

Study Skills and Organization Workshop for Teens at 7 p.m. at Classroom Matters, 2607 7th Street, Suite E. Free. 540-8646. www.classroommatters.com 

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

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

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


Hidden Lodges of Berkeley An illustrated lecture on the Le Conte Memorial Lodge in Yosemite, with Bonnie Johanna Gisel, Le Conte Lodge Curator, at 7:30 p.m. at Senior Hall, UC Campus. Cost is $10. 841-2241. www.berkeleyheritage.com 

Water Transit in Berkeley A joint workshop with the Berkeley Transportation and Waterfront Commissions and the SF Bay Water Transit Authority at 7:30 p.m. at the North Berkeley Senior Center. 981-7010. 

West Campus Site Planning Meeting to review the Draft Master Plan at 7 p.m. in the cafeteria, 1222 University Ave. For information call 644-6066. www.berkeley.k12.ca.us 

“Playing Around in the Amazon Jungle” with Renata Meirelles and David Reeks on children’s culture in the Brazilian Amazon at 7:30 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center, 3105 Shattuck Ave. Cost is $-$10 sliding scale. Children welcome. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

Grizzly Peak Flyfishers meets at 7 p.m at the Kensington Community Center, 59 Arlington Ave., with Rachel Andras, a Redding-based guide and fly fishing instructor, on fishing the upper Sacramento River and other Northern California waters. 547-8629. 


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/ 


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 

City Council meets Tues., May 10, at 7 p.m in City Council Chambers. 981-6900. www. 


Commission on the Status of Women meets Wed., May 11, at 7:30 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center. Tasha Tervelon, 981-5347. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/commissions/women 

Commission on Disability meets Wed., May 11, at 6:30 p.m. at the North Berkeley Senior Center. Don Brown, 981-6346. TDD: 981-6345. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/commissions/disability 

Planning Commission meets Wed., May 11, at 7 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center. Janet Homrighausen, 981-7484. www.ci.berkeley. ca.us/commissions/planning 

Police Review Commission meets Wed., May 11 at the South Berkeley Senior Center, 981-4950. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/ 


Library Board of Trustees meets Wed. May 11, at 7 p.m. at 1901 Russell St., Jackie Y. Griffin, 981-6195. www.ci.ber- 


Waterfront Commission meets Wed., May 11, at 7 p.m., at 201 University Ave. Cliff Marchetti, 981-6740. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/commissions/waterfront 

Commission on Early Childhood Education meets Thurs., May 12, at 7 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center. Angellique De Cloud, 981-5428. www.ci.berkeley. ca.us/commissions/earlychildhoodeducation  

Community Health Commission meets Thurs., May 12, at 6:45 p.m., at the South Berkeley Senior Center. William Rogers, 981-5344. www.ci.ber- 


Community Health Commission meets Thurs., May 12, at 6:45 p.m., at the South Berkeley Senior Center. William Rogers, 981-5344. www.ci.ber- 


West Berkeley Project Area Commission meets Thurs., May 12, at 7 p.m., at the West Berkeley Senior Center. Iris Starr, 981-7520. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/commissions/westberkeley  

Zoning Adjustments Board meets Thurs., May 12, at 7 p.m., in City Council Chambers. Mark Rhoades, 981-7410. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/ 





Tuesday May 10, 2005

Thanks to tips from the Daily Planet’s theater writers, we spent two evenings last weekend enjoying dramatic presentations, both of which did exactly what they were supposed to do: illuminated real life in ways we might not have expected. Parents like us who raised children born in the often tumultuous ‘60s and ‘70s sometimes wonder if the kids in that cohort were helped or harmed by their exposure to the crosscurrents of political and cultural change which were sweeping the country at the time. Judging by what we saw in these performances, the kids turned out pretty well. 

Proof, which won the Pulitzer Prize for David Auburn in 2001, is a play about the kind of person sometimes known as a Girl Geek. Girl Geeks came into their own in the ‘70s with the re surgence of feminism. It became kind of okay in some circles for girls to admit that they were smart (though of course that didn’t prevent a counselor at Berkeley High from telling one of our daughters that girls don’t usually like math.) The girl geek in Proof had the added burden of an eccentric parent, a familiar situation for the many Berkeley kids who were born at the beginning of the ‘70s into multi-parent communes, in vans or in yurts, or even under water. Some of these kids grew up before their pa rents did, but the interesting thing is that it doesn’t seem to have done them much harm if any. People now in their thirties and forties who had, shall we say, colorful childhoods have turned out just fine, with more than the average percentage of produc tive and creative adults in their number.  

Eisa Davis, now 34, who performed her autobiographical work-in-progress at La Peña on Saturday and Sunday, is the quintessential real-life child of her era. From her production we learned that she was raised mos tly by her mother Fania (portrayed as what might be called a communist/hippie) but also by, in varying amounts, her old-school southern African-American grandmother and her formidable multi-faceted aunt and namesake Angela Davis: Marxist, feminist, profes sor, intellectual. She spent many weekends chanting at demonstrations, but also became a fine classical musician. She adored hip-hop, but was a shoo-in for admission to Harvard. Like many Berkeley kids, she reminded me of a Peanuts cartoon I once saw: lugubrious Charlie Brown saying dolefully “there’s no burden as heavy as a great potential.”  

She and three actors (one was her cousin, playing herself) in what is currently a staged reading managed to bring all the characters from her complex childhood to life in words and music. Judging by the audience reaction, she’s got us down pat. My daughter went to the Saturday production, heard someone laughing uproariously throughout the show, and thought it must certainly be me. When the lights went up she realiz ed that it was Angela Davis sitting behind her, reacting to the many funny bits in the same way I would have if I’d been there. My particular favorite, when I saw the Sunday show, was Eisa’s description of how she’d practice saying cuss words on her way to Willard Junior High so she could relate to her peers. It was hard for her, because as a deep-down Nice Girl from A Good Family, she’d been sternly warned against using that kind of language by her grandmother. That kind of dual identity is what we call Very Berkeley. 

Women from her background, like the girl geek in Proof, have faced enormous challenges. My generation expects them to: (1) continue their parents’ tradition of countering the dominant culture (2) save the world from racism, militarism and environmental degradation (3) achieve intellectual and professional distinction in areas such as science and the arts formerly closed to their mothers and grandmothers and (4) we’d really like a couple of grandchildren before we’re too old. It’s a tall order, but many of us Berkeley mothers, in this week after Mother’s Day, would like to take this opportunity to tell Eisa and all the rest of our daughters that we think you’ve been doing a great job so far, and we’re proud of you.  




Friday May 06, 2005

Wild rumors that the City of Berkeley is about to sell its citizens down the river have been sweeping the city ever since the University of California opened the discussion of what its future plans for growth might be. We’ve had anguished voicemail messages from citizens who’ve picked up crumbs of information ever since last fall. Neither the much trumpeted City of Berkeley lawsuit challenging U.C.’s environmental impact report on its latest Long Range Development Plan nor the city’s threats that it would finally begin to collect sewer and parking fees from the university assuaged these anxieties.  

Many of the concerned citizens have vivid memories of previous occasions when city officials made a loud fuss and then sold out to the university in return for small and unenforceable concessions. Cases in point: the compromised lawsuit over U.C.’s previous and fictitious LRDP; the morphing of the California School for the Deaf and Blind into U.C.’s Clark Kerr Campus; the toothless Memorandum of Understanding which purported to deal with the immense impacts of building Haas Pavilion. Long term residents have heard these siren songs before, and now they don’t trust them. Residents of other U.C. cities share the same concerns. 

These worries have come to a head since the closed meeting of the Berkeley City Council which took place on April 25. On the agenda were the E.I.R. lawsuit and the fee cases. (The council’s craven capitulation at their last regular meeting to U.C.’s plan to build an unsafe and ugly bridge over Hearst Street did nothing to reassure anyone.) No report came out of that closed meeting, and repeated questions to councilmembers who attended have produced no answers. They’ve been told by city staff that their lips must be sealed. This is clearly hard for councilmembers who believe in open government. It’s probably even more of a trial for those who have some reason to question the deals they might be offered, judging by the evident stress in their voices when they tell the press that they’re sorry they can’t talk to us.  

Here at the Planet we still believe in that hoary old chestnut “The People’s Right to Know.” We realize that to a signicant number of government officials it’s an obsolete slogan. 

In order to figure out what we should expect to find out about deals that are going down between City Hall and University Hall, we consulted an old friend, Antonio Rossman, who teaches land use law at U.C.’s own Boalt School of Law. He kindly emailed us back a few rules of thumb based on experience from his own practice, where he’s settled a number of complex CEQA cases for public agencies. 


Planet: Should the City Council really keep their discussions with the University secret from the public? 

Rossman: Some degree of confidentiality is appropriate and even necessary for two sides to reach a proposed settlement agreement to be submitted to their respective principals, and where appropriate, constituency. 

Planet: We’ve heard that council members are not even allowed to take written copies of proposed deals away from meetings. Is that fair? 

Rossman: It is not inappropriate for counsel to distribute confidential memoranda for discussion and then ask for them back before the executive session ends. That protects everyone, including the members themselves, from accusations of impropriety if confidential material is disclosed. The confidentiality should only be broken when there is consensus for release among the council and with the other negotiating party. It seems extraordinary, and probably inappropriate, on a matter of the LRDP’s complexity, controversy, and public interest, to ask council members to vote at once on a settlement proposal not previously disclosed to them. How long did it take the attorneys and negotiators to reach their proposal? Shouldn’t the decision makers have some time to reflect on it and discern not only what is there, but what is not there? 

Planet: When can the public find out what agreement is being proposed in their name? 

Rossman: On a matter of this much public interest, and in Berkeley’s political context, I would expect the proposed settlement to be made public for comment before finality. 

Planet: What if citizens don’t think they’re going to like the deal they’re handed? 

Rossman: Remedy for those who have vital interests that are being compromised against those interests: intervene at once in the superior court to ensure that the court holds a public hearing before settlement, and possibly litigate the case themselves. 


So there you have it. If you citizens want to preserve your right to know what kind of deal the city of Berkeley is making before the deal has gone down, you have the option of intervening. Go, right now, to the judge who is hearing the lawsuit, with your own attorney. Ask for a clear ruling that the proposed outcome (which could be a settlement or the city’s withdrawal of its suit) must be disclosed to the public before it is made final. Then, if it seems like a bad deal, you can carry the lawsuit forward on your own without the participation of the City of Berkeley.  

And of course, for those of you out there who still believe in representative government and who shy away from legal remedies, you can always call your councilmember and demand that any proposed deal be made public with enough lead time for adequate public comment before the council takes its ultimate final vote in an open meeting. As we’ve said before in this space, however, don’t hold your breath.