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Jakob Schiller: Michael Wills uses a transfer to board a bus in downtown Berkeley Monday afternoon. Wills, who does not own a car and uses the bus to get to and from work, said he opposed fare hikes..
Jakob Schiller: Michael Wills uses a transfer to board a bus in downtown Berkeley Monday afternoon. Wills, who does not own a car and uses the bus to get to and from work, said he opposed fare hikes..


AC Transit Directors Ponder 5 Ways to Increase Bus Fares By J. DOUGLAS ALLEN-TAYLOR

Tuesday May 17, 2005

With continued budget shortfalls looming, the AC Transit Board of Directors has scheduled public hearings this week on proposed fare increases or fare restructuring, as well as a proposed new $24 parcel tax on the 2005 or 2006 ballot. 

The hearings will be held at 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. May 18 at the Scottish Rite Center at 1547 Lakeside Dr. in Oakland, near 17th Street.  

The board is considering five separate fare proposals for comment at the hearing. 

Two of the proposals, 1 and 5, would both cut 50 cents off the $1.50 adult bus fare and 25 cents off the 75-cent youth, senior, and disabled bus fares, but would eliminate transfers as well as pre-paid tickets and passes (except for the senior/disabled pass). 

Proposal 5 would also offer a 31-day youth ticket. Proposal 1 would add an estimated $8 million to AC Transit’s annual budget, while Proposal 5 would add $6.1 million, according to the district. 

Proposal 2—the moderate fare hike—keeps all of the passes, but raises adult fares by 25 cents and youth, senior, and disabled fares by 10 cents, as well as doubling the present 25 cent transfer fee. This proposal would add $7 million to the annual budget. 

Proposal 3—the steep fare hike—keeps all of the passes, issues free transfers, while increasing the adult fare by 50 cents and the youth, senior, and disabled fare by 25 cents. This proposal would raise $8.7 million for the annual budget. 

Proposal 4 is not a fare hike at all. It freezes fares at their current levels and introduces a weekly, unlimited ride ticket. This proposal would decrease AC Transit’s annual budget by $300,000. 

AC Transit has declared fiscal emergencies for the past two years, reducing both service and staffing. Two parcel tax measures designed in part to assist the bus system’s fiscal problems, Measure AA and Measure BB, were passed in recent years. Still, AC Transit’s operating budget shortfalls are projected to reach $40 million by 2008. 

AC Transit fares were last raised in 2002. 

To be included in the public record of the hearing, any written comments must be received no later than 6 p.m. on May 18, addressed to AC Transit Board of Directors, 1600 Franklin St., Oakland, 94612, or faxed to 891-4874.ˆ

City Council Considers UC Deal Behind Closed Doors By MATTHEW ARTZ

Tuesday May 17, 2005

The Berkeley City Council will meet in closed session today (Tuesday) to discuss its lawsuit against UC Berkeley. There will be a 20-minute public comment session at 9 p.m. before the council goes behind closed doors. Councilmember Dona Spring said that the council could take a vote at the meeting on a city deal to drop its lawsuit against the university. 

City officials refused to comment on the meeting and councilmembers interviewed Monday said they had not been briefed on what items would be presented to them. 

According to Spring, the council has already voted in favor of a settlement framework under which UC Berkeley would pay more each year than it has in the past for city services like sewer fees in return for the city’s dropping the lawsuit, filed in February under the California Environmental Quality Act to challenge the university’s environmental impact report on its 15-year development plan. 

The city’s suit claimed that UC Berkeley’s Long Range Development Plan lacked sufficient detail and gave the university a green light for a building boom that would further drain city services. 

Although Spring hinted that the university had not moved far from their public offer last January to pay the city $1.2 million a year for city services—about double this year’s payments—councilmembers have been forbidden to discuss the negotiations. 

The gag order stems from a confidentiality agreement signed between the city and UC Berkeley, said City Attorney Manuela Albuquerque. She said the agreement was designed to prevent either side from using statements made during negotiations at a trial. She added that the city had not yet filed a motion for a hearing on the merits of its case. 

Albuquerque refused to comment on whether Spring’s comments about the council vote at a previous closed session meeting violated the confidentiality agreement. Spring said that after her comments were published, Albuquerque e-mailed councilmembers warning them that even to say the two sides were close to a deal violated the confidentiality agreement. 

The council is under intense pressure from civic activists to drive a hard bargain with the university. Many residents blame UC Berkeley, which as a state institution has maintained that it is exempt from city taxes and assessments, for contributing to mounting city budget deficits. They fear that continued campus growth will cause the city’s quality of life to deteriorate. 

With passions high, Councilmember Kriss Worthington argued that the city should publicize the proposal. 

“The public deserves to know what’s proposed in the deal,” he said. “If the public only has a chance to respond after the council has already approved it, it would be a tall order to convince the council to change its mind.” 

Worthington also questioned whether the city could refuse to reveal the proposal made by the university. 

Albuquerque said that in order to release the proposal to the public, a majority of the council would have to vote to waive its attorney-client privilege.  

Councilmember Gordon Wozniak said the council would be best served by keeping the negotiations private.  

“[If we served the interests of] a few citizens who want to micromanage everything and look over our shoulders, I don’t think we would be able to negotiate anything,” he said. “That is why you have elected representatives.” 

Albuquerque said the council would announce the outcome of Tuesday’s meeting only if it approved a settlement. 

NeighborsPropose OwnDesign forWest Campus By RICHARD BRENNEMAN

Tuesday May 17, 2005

Neighbors of West Campus, the school district’s property on University Avenue, got their first glimpse of the conceptual plan for the site Thursday night and most didn’t like it. 

The gathering, held in the vacant on-site cafeteria, drew a smaller and ca lmer turnout than the last session on April 21, but the underlying tension remained. 

The clearest illustrations of the conflict were the two rival plans proposed for the site, one from the Berkeley Unified School District and its consultant, the other fr om the West Campus Neighborhood-Merchant Association (WestNEMA)—a group formed in response to the district’s push for development at the site. 

The district’s version, drafted with the help of consultant David C. Early and his firm, Design Community & Env ironment, calls for about 152 parking spaces in three lots—two of them in locations which neighbors found objectionable. 

The neighbors’ plan preserved the area south of the gym between Browning and Curtis streets as a grassy park area with a small presch ool/childcare facility at the southwest corner of the property. In the same space, the district plan calls for 60 parking spaces in two lots on either side of a daylighted Strawberry Creek. 

Because that portion is in the heart of the residential neighbor hood, neighbors decried the increased traffic that would inevitably result. They also faulted the district/Early plan for allowing vehicle access to the main campus area from Addison Street, a concept they had rejected in previous sessions. 

“We don’t wan t any parking south of Addison except for day care, and we don’t want any surface parking,” said Barbara Boucher to nods of approval from others in the audience. 

WestNEMA proposed a 200-to-250-car parking structure in the main campus area north of Addiso n Street. 

While the district plan calls for housing the district’s warehouse, kitchen and building and grounds facility on the main portion of West Campus site, neighbors urged the district to move those services to the new district bus facility at Sixth and Gilman streets on land which the district has proposed to develop for commercial purposes. 

City Councilmember Darryl Moore, whose district includes the site, told the gathering he sided with the neighbors. 

“[Those services] need to be on Gilman Str eet and away from this residential community,” Moore said. 


District as Developer 

Both plans call for private development on the western half of the site along University Avenue, with the WestNEMA proposal asking for a 50 percent larger area than the dis trict draft. 

Planning Commissioner David Stoloff also urged private development on the eastern half at the corner of University and Bonar Street—a designated city transportation node which entitles a developer to erect a larger structure. 

“I see the sch ool district as a developer, just like the infamous Patrick Kennedy or anyone else,” said Bonar Street resident Joe Walton. 

But BUSD acting as a developer would not bound by the same rules as a private individual such as Kennedy, who has build many large apartment building in Berkeley in recent years, including a few along University Avenue, and who has become a polarizing figure in discussions about development and land use in the city. 

“The school district is a legally separate agency not beholden to city law in a number of ways,” Early said. “If a project doesn’t fulfill its [instructional] mission, it’s not exempt from city zoning code, and if it’s purely educational it’s exempt. There’s a big gray area in between which will be decided on a building by building basis.” 

Former Planning Commissioner Zelda Bronstein said the building and grounds facility and the district warehouse were clearly light industrial uses and therefore not appropriate for a site zoned for commercial and residential, such as West Campus. She also challenged district plans to install commercial uses at the Gilman Street site, which is zoned for light industrial. 


Site Committee  

Neighbors continued to press for a site committee, putting the question to the two district board members in attendance, Terry Doran and John Selawsky. 

“Honestly, I don’t know what it takes” to create a committee, Doran said. 

“I will talk to staff,” Selawsky said, “but in the past they have been formed after the board gives conceptual approval to a project.” 

Councilmember Moore also endorsed the neighbors’ call for a site committee to work with the district throughout the development process. Neighbors had a sign-up sheet ready for site committee volunteers, and were collecting names as the meeting ended.  

Thursday’s session was the fourth of five scheduled meetings on plans for West Campus. The final meeting before the draft master plan goes to the school board for formal consideration on June 29 will be held in the West Campus Cafeteria on June 2 at 7 p.m. 

At least one neighbor, Avraham Burrell, said he was talking to an attorney about the project, warning board members that “you’ll hear more on the 29th.” 


Mayor’s Aide Talks 

Calvin Fong, assistant to Mayor Tom Bates, listened quietly througho ut the meeting until neighbor Richard Graham asked him what the mayor would like to see on the site. 

“The mayor is very clear that he would like to see private development on the corner” of University Avenue, he said, “and we are just as anxious as the d istrict to find out under whose jurisdiction the site will be developed.” 

Making it clear he was speaking only for himself, Fong said he agreed that surface parking adjacent to a daylighted Strawberry Creek on the southern segment of the property was a b ad idea. He said he was intrigued by the idea of a parking structure, but cautioned that costs would be high. 

Grants were available for daylighting the creek, Fong said, but added that he wasn’t clear about the kitchen, warehouse and building and grounds facility. 

“We’ll have to see how this plays out,” he said. “Lots of money will be involved.” 


Sound Blight 

The meeting featured one moment of tense levity at the start when Connie McCullah announced that a neighbor was backing up a truck near the open cafeteria rear door so officials could hear the sound residents could expect to hear from delivery and district trucks that would use the site. 

Early moved quickly to shut the door, setting off a tense moment. Neighbors later opened the windows to let the sound back in.?b

Fate of Controversial Sculpture May Be Decided in Council Chambers By MATTHEW ARTZ

Tuesday May 17, 2005

A $50,000 public art project to delineate the border between South Berkeley and North Oakland has created a rift among Berkeley officials and appears headed for a City Council vote. 

By the end of next week, a grassy hill where the BART tracks go underground near the Ashby station is scheduled to be home to eight-foot steel letters proclaiming “Here” to motorists entering Berkeley and “There” to those heading towards Oakland. 

The proposal, one of 19 submitted, was unanimously selected by the Civic Arts Commission and approved by the City Council in 2003, but now that the letters are ready at least two councilmembers want to scuttle the work. 

“It can be seen as a put-down to Oakland,” said Councilmember Dona Spring, adding that she intended to call for a council vote to halt the work’s installation. The project is currently listed on the council’s agenda as an information report. 

Other items on Tuesday’s agenda: The council is scheduled to consider proposals to reduce the number of annual meetings for about two dozen city commissions and to vote on a Precautionary Principle ordinance, a model for making proactive environmentally sensitive decisions in city purchasing, contracting and other activities. 

A public hearing on the proposed budget for fiscal year 2006 is also scheduled for the meeting. 

Opponents of the “Here, There” sculpture say they fear the work would call attention to a Berkeley-Oakland divide at a time when Oakland police have said drug dealers from both cities have engaged in border wars. 

“The turf war is real,” said Laura Menard, president of a South Berkeley Crime Prevention Council, “I think it will underscore the type of base logic that goes on with these territorial wars.” 

Besides fear of violence, opponents say they are hesitant to label Oakland as “there” in light of the oft-quoted statement by writer Gertrude Stein, who said of Oakland, the city where she was born, “There’s no there there.”  

“By using a literary reference, what it says is ‘we’re smart and rich and you’re nowhere,’” said Civic Arts Commissioner Bonnie Hughes, who voted in favor of the project, but has since reversed her position. The quote from Stein, who left the city as a girl after her parents died, meant not that Oakland had nothing to offer, but that the Oakland of her youth no longer existed. 

“Why can’t people lighten up a little bit?” said Steven Gillman, an Oakland artist, who along with Katherine Keefer, designed the work. Gillman described the sculpture as an artistic alternative to putting up signage alerting motorists that they had entered a different city, and didn’t understand why “Here/There” would be more divisive than a standard sign. 

“It seems people can turn just about anything into some kind of negative problem,” he said. 

Oakland officials haven’t raised any objections, according to David Snippen, former chair of the Civic Arts Commission and a fan of the work. 

“The Oakland committee thought it was great. They saw the humor in it,” he said, adding that Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown was expected to attend a celebration for the project on June 7. 

Councilmembers who don’t quite get the humor haven’t given up trying change it. Kriss Worthington, whose district borders Oakland, has proposed making the sculpture read, “Here, There and Everywhere,” referencing a Beatles song. 

“It’s an opportunity to turn it into something more humorous,” he said. 

Councilmember Gordon Wozniak, with tongue in cheek, suggested placing the letters on a rotating platform so both cities could at different times be “here” and “there.” 

“For Christ’s sake,” said Gillman, upon learning of the proposals. “I don’t understand why these issues weren’t addressed when the council approved the budget two years ago, not one week before it’s installed.” 

Mary Ann Merker, the city’s civic arts coordinator, said financial constraints would make it difficult to approve last-second modifications. Adding a platform or additional words, she said, would send the project above the $50,000 already budgeted and spent through a city policy allocating 1.5 percent of capital improvement projects to public art. 

Gillman insisted the work is a bargain for the price and that the council should be content with it. 

“They’re getting a world-class piece,” he said. “And now they seem like a bunch of scared chickens running around worried and frightened.” 



Agency Finds a Better Way for Foster Children By MATTHEW ARTZ

Tuesday May 17, 2005

Shamean Trucks spent most of her youth as a foster kid, feeling like an unloved outsider in her own home. But thanks to a placement made three years ago by Berkeley’s only foster care and adoption agency, she is entering adulthood as a member of a tight-knit family. 

“The family I lived with before never should have been licensed to be foster parents,” said Trucks, 19, who now attends Los Medanos College. 

She suffered mental and physical abuse at the home where she lived from the age of 4 until 15, when the county put her in a youth home. By the time she was 16, Trucks said she was counting the days until her eighteenth birthday, when she would finally leave the system. 

“When you’re in foster care it seems there is no way you can really win,” she said. 

But Alameda County officials turned to Berkeley’s A Better Way to find her a suitable home. The family it selected, a multi-racial foster care version of the Brady Bunch in Antioch, Calif. with an African American mother, a white father and eleven biological and adopted children of all ethnic stripes, turned to be a perfect fit for Trucks, who is half white and half Asian. 

“It felt like a family,” Trucks said. “I was still different, but in a way that fit.” 

Founded in 1996, A Better Way has made its mission to serve children the foster care system has failed. Executive Director Shahnaz Mazandarani said she formed the agency after frustrations working with another foster care group. 

“Most of the attention and money was going for administration, not children,” she said. “I decided to form an organization whose first priority would be children.” 

A Better Way seeks to make their children’s lives as normal as possible. The agency assigns one social worker to be responsible to perform roles traditionally filled by different counselors. “I want to eliminate all these strangers in the lives of children,” Mazandarani said. 

Once foster parents are found, a social worker from A Better Way meets weekly with each family and foster child.  

“They followed through a lot better,” Trucks said of the agency. “With the county I felt like my social workers were strangers. They showed up about once a month. There wasn’t anyone at A Better Way that I didn’t build a relationship with.” 

Like the roughly 15 other independent foster care agencies in Alameda County, A Better Way gets its foster children from county referrals. Most of the children it places, Mazandarani said, typically have suffered serious emotional trauma and are more difficult for the county to place. 

The agency works with 80 parents who provide room for up to 120 foster children at one time. A Better Way currently has fewer available spaces for foster children than in previous years, partly because many of its families have chosen to legally adopt the foster child they cared for, Mazandarani said. Since the agency received a license to handle adoptions, it has overseen the adoption of 50 children by their foster parents. 

Only 20 percent of foster children in A Better Way are re-united with their biological parents, Mazandarani said. When she began the organization such a low percentage would have bothered her, but now, after finding that many biological parents didn’t take an interest in their children, she encourages the foster parents she works with to pursue adoption. 

Parents interested in fostering children must undergo a rigorous screening and training process, Mazandarani said. About 40 percent of parents who enter the program don’t become foster parents with the agency. 

“We show no mercy when it comes to screening parents,” she said. “We don’t tell them that foster parenting is fun and you’re going to have a lot of a lot of good times with the children.” 

For Annie Kassof, a Berkeley foster parent, the biggest struggles have been parting with a child she became close to and dealing with a child with severe emotional trauma. She recalled one foster child, who had a history of sexual abuse, who once broke a chair against the wall in her home. 

Even when the placement goes well, as in Trucks’ case, complications inevitably arise. Trucks said that she and one of her foster parents’ daughters, who is three years younger than she is, have had difficulties building a relationship. 

“We’re still working on it,” Trucks said. “It’s easy to be jealous of each other.” 

A Better Way is the only agency in the county that provides trained therapists to all of its children to help them deal with past trauma and interact with their foster family. 

“All of these children are emotionally disturbed,” Mazandarani said. “We have to help then deal with their problems if we can expect them to have a normal life.” 

After years of paying for therapists from its own funds, last year Alameda County awarded the agency a contract to pay for staff therapists that serve their children and, if the demand is not too high, children in foster homes placed by the county or other agencies. 

Mazandarani hopes that the county will one day grant the agency money to work with former foster children. According to state statistics, 65 percent of the 4,355 teenagers who left foster care in 2001 were homeless when they left the system. 

Roughly 80 percent of foster kids with A Better Way are African American and Latino, and the majority of its foster families are African-American. For white foster parents like Kassof racial differences can provide additional challenges. 

“I had to educate myself on things like hair,” she said of caring for an African-American girl she later adopted. “A social worker had to show me how to take out extensions to make braids.” 

Besides her adopted daughter, Kassof has a biological teenage son and is currently fostering two other children. She said that she has encountered hostility to her multi-racial family, but remains committed to foster parenting. 

“I can’t think of anything else I’d rather be doing,” she said. “There just aren’t many families like mine.”h

‘Flying Cottage’ Hits Turbulence Over Parking Lot By J. DOUGLAS ALLEN-TAYLOR

Tuesday May 17, 2005

What was thought to have been a soft landing for South Shattuck Avenue’s long-disputed “flying cottage” may end up being a head-first crash into the hard asphalt of a backyard parking lot. 

Last Thursday, after an hour-and-a-half hearing, members of the City of Berkeley’s Zoning Adjustments Board voted 1-4, with one abstention, to deny a motion that would have decided that the three-story mixed use structure at 3045 Shattuck Ave. was in compliance with Berkeley’s zoning ordinance. 

Robert Allen and Raudel A. Wilson voted yes; David Blake, Dean Metzger, Carrie Sprague, Andy Katz voted no, with Rick Judd abstaining. Jesse Anthony was absent and Chris Tiedemann recused herself because she was not present at the original hearing. 

Owner Christina Sun had proposed building a three-story, commercial-residential mixed-use structure on the site to replace a one-story residential dwelling. Sun has already raised the original dwelling and built two stories under it, but construction was halted over charges that she misrepresented the ultimate use of the building, and since then—with neighbors fighting the construction—the issue has dragged through a long series of City Council and zoning hearings. 

The popular “flying cottage” name for the structure came from the fact that since construction was halted, the original one-story dwelling appears to fly in the air on top of a two-story, temporary structure. 

The May 12 hearing centered on whether or not the building’s proposed two-space backyard parking lot conformed to Berkeley’s backyard parking ordinances, and was continued from a April 28 hearing. 

At issue is planning staff’s contention—which Principal City Planner Debra Sanderson says has never been disputed by either the Planning Commission or the City Council—that the 1999 revision of Berkeley’s Zoning Ordinance which appeared to ban parking in the definition of a “yard” was actually what she called a “drafting error.” 

“While I don’t feel 100 percent for approval,” said Commissioner Wilson, “under the guidelines, it appears that the proposal fits as a mixed commercial-residential use.” 

In announcing his vote rejecting that interpretation, Commissioner Katz called the zoning ordinance vague, complicated and confusing. 

“We’ve got different interpretations of this issue from different people: one from the former ZAB Chair and present City Councilmember [Laurie Capitelli], another from staff, and another from the applicant and her attorney,” Katz said. “I’m just not convinced that [staff’s interpretation] is consistent with the ordinance.” 

Katz suggested setting the matter for a use permit public hearing, but was told by staff that ZAB had no power to force a use permit under the ordinance. 

“We shouldn’t allow people to put up buildings in the middle of the night and then come here and have us say, gee, they’ve spent so much money already, we should just let them go forward,” said Commissioner Metzger. 

He said Sun should win ZAB approval only if she moved the parking into a garage on the first floor of the structure. The owner’s representative had earlier told commissioners that a garage had originally existed on the property, but was destroyed when the building was raised to its present three-story height. 

Because five votes were needed to either kill the issue or move it forward, ZAB commissioners agreed to continue the hearing until May 26. Tiedmann said that she was willing to view a tape of the April 28 hearing to make her eligible to vote at the May 26 hearing. However, with four votes already against the backyard parking lot, it was not certain what effect any new hearing, or new vote, would have on the project, unless the owner changes the parking proposal. 

In answer to a question from the board, planner Sanderson said that ZAB has within its discretion to revisit any adverse zoning decision if the owner returns with altered plans.e

ZAB Subcommittee Tackles Density Bonus By RICHARD BRENNEMAN

Tuesday May 17, 2005

Members of a Zoning Adjustments Board (ZAB) panel took their first crack at a tough and complicated nut Thursday afternoon: the density bonus. 

Just how much bigger buildings are developers entitled to when they include state-mandated units set aside for low-income tenants? The issue has become a political hot potato in Berkeley, where city officials routinely grant developers extra height above that allowed in city codes and plans. 

One of the first structures to raise concerns was the Gaia Building, developer Patrick Kennedy’s seven-story—or is it nine?—creation at 2116 Allston Way, and the issue has been raised to fever pitch intensity over plans for the Seagate Building, a planned nine-story building set for construction at 2041-65 Center St. 

The Berkeley Housing Department calculated that the Seagate tower was entitled to reach 14 stories.  

The developer’s plans only called for nine stories, and were accepted by the city despite considerable protest from activists who urged the structure not exceed seven floors, the maximum permitted under the Downtown Plan. To add to the confusion, de Tienne later told the Daily Planet that the plans used in the housing department calculation were based on an expensive new technology the developer might not even use. 

“I doubt if anyone is happy with the current process,” said ZAB member Bob Allen. 

“We also need to understand clearly how many concessions we can or should give away,” said his colleague Dean Metzger. 

“The law is not that straightforward,” acknowledged Rick Judd, a ZAB member who is also a land use attorney. 

Developer Evan McDonald, who appeared at the meeting with partner Christopher Hudson, acknowledged that “everyone’s disappointed with the process” while pointing to the architectural-award-winning structures like the Bachenheimer, Fine Arts and Touriel buildings the duo had built for developer Kennedy. 

“They have added 34 low-cost housing units to the city, and all of the projects that have come out of our office we are very proud of,” he said. 

Further complicating the issue is the city staff’s application of its own standards contradicting the specifics of the existing state law. 

“Ours is a bonus for square footage, not density,” said Blake. “It’s very different from the rest of the state.” 

Members asked Principal Planner Deborah Sanderson to provide them with the computer spreadsheet program that staff uses to calculate bonuses, and Planning Commissioner Gene Poschman said he would prepare a detailed report on the statutes and practices used in other cities. 

While ZAB initiated the bonus inquiry, they’ll soon be joined by the Planning Commission and the Housing Advisory Commission. 

The ZAB subcommittee will continue to meet on the issue at 4 p.m. June 1 and continue to meet on the first and third Wednesdays of the month at 4 p.m.

Film Depicts Struggle at Alternative School By J. DOUGLAS ALLEN-TAYLOR

Tuesday May 17, 2005

Earlier this year, students at Berkeley Alternative and Berkeley High schools joined together to challenge a decision by Berkeley High administrators to exclude BAHS students from several after-school Berkeley High activities. 

With support from parents and BAHS faculty and administration, the students worked to get that exclusion reversed. 

This Thursday the public is invited to the showing of a half-hour graduate student film documenting how it happened. “Berkeley Alternative High School—The Struggle For Social Justice,” will be shown free at 6 p.m. at the BAHS Auditorium at 2701 Martin Luther King Jr. Way in Berkeley. 

The film is the product of Lindsay Duckles, a Master of Social Work intern at the Smith College School for Social Work, who produced with iMovie on her iBook laptop. It is her first film. 

“I originally heard about the issue last fall,” Duckles said in a telephone interview, “when Berkeley Alternative students began saying that they were being excluded from Berkeley High’s graduation and prom. They were pretty pissed off. So I started filming them during regular junior and senior meetings they held at the school, and then later meetings with parents, and finally the community meeting at the school at which the superintendent spoke. We follow the process all the way through, from how the students got themselves organized to the eventual outcome.” 

Duckles said production of the movie “hasn’t cost me anything,” and Thursday’s screening will be just as low budget. 

“I’m making cookies, and [BAHS Guidance Counselor Mercedes] Sanders is providing the punch,” she said. 

Paul Farmer to Graduates: Healthcare is a Human Right By JUDITH SCHERR Special to the Planet

Tuesday May 17, 2005

In the rich world, public health workers battle fat; where people are poor, they fight starvation.  

“Obesity and famine are happening at the same time in this era of globalization,” said Dr. Paul Farmer, physician, anthropologist, human rights activist and author, speaking in Zellerbach Hall Saturday at commencement ceremonies for UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health.  

Farmer encouraged graduates to look for solutions to health problems “by connecting the dots” between rich and poor nations. To cure ill health, much of it linked to social ills, the doctor prescribed a heavy dose of activism for the graduates—and the will to work for social justice to blunt the inequities.  

Farmer knows both the rich and poor—the powerful and impuissant—worlds. He has lived and worked in rural Haiti, which he calls home, for two decades, and he spends time each year treating low-income patients in Boston and teaching at Harvard University Medical School; he also finds time to work at clinics his organization, Partners in Health, has established in Peru, Mexico, Guatemala and Rwanda and to care for tuberculosis patients in Siberian prisons.  

“Public health activism needs to be global and local at the same time,” Farmer said. It’s local in the sense that the doctor pays close attention to patients and the social and cultural milieu in which they live—and universal because healthcare is a human right. Understanding the global power balance is critical because political and economic priorities of rich countries either help or hinder healthcare delivery in poor countries, he said.  

“To say that people as people have a right to health care is a radical message,” said Farmer, who also received a human rights award from Global Exchange in San Francisco Thursday evening.  

Naturally, good science is important in curing illness, but science must be paired with activism and social justice, Farmer said, using new and effective AIDS medications as an example. This medicine “is at risk of commodification, something to be bought and sold.” Farmer has worked to bring generic, low-cost drugs to the poor.  

Beyond obtaining medicine for patients, the activist public heath worker may need to create a system to deliver the medication as needed. This is what Farmer has done in central Haiti. His group of about 1,000 Haitian healthcare workers has not only improved delivery of services, but has boosted the general standard of living by providing jobs.  

Farmer’s standard for equitable health care goes beyond the right of people to see a healthcare professional and get drugs. These rights take on meaning only in the context of a patient’s getting nutritious food, drinking clean water and becoming literate. Farmer’s vision also addresses mental health needs, particularly for “those who are damaged by violence and oppression.”  

He rejects the notion—sometimes suggested to him—that patients would appreciate healthcare services more were they charged a fee. The doctor said he not only looks at free healthcare as a right, but he believes patients in rural Haiti, like patients in East Oakland, deserve high quality, modern care. Farmer is equipped to perform cesarean sections in his operating room in central Haiti. And he has a modern blood bank there as well.  

Farmer also refuses to accept the idea that only some can benefit from care. So when a patient, Ti Joseph, appeared to be on his deathbed, dying from AIDS and drug-resistant tuberculosis, Farmer did not hesitate to treat him. The message once again: healthcare is a human right—for everyone. (Today Ti Joseph is one of Farmer’s healthcare workers.)  

When people understand they have rights to food, education, healthcare, economic stability and to live without fear of violence, they become empowered. “But we don’t want to empower people from Marin County,” Farmer quipped, adding levity to his message. “There is no universal right to Pilates classes.”  

Farmer looks at war and violence from a public health perspective. “Those of us who are in public health are called to have certain standards regarding what may be considered a just war,” he said, citing the article published last fall in the British medical journal, Lancet, that estimated that some 100,000 civilian Iraqis, mostly women and children, have died during the war in Iraq. 

“Passion and indignation have a place in public health,” Farmer said.  

An activist for democracy in Haiti, Berkeley resident Andrea Spagat, who works in San Francisco in the field of teen violence and substance abuse prevention, met with Farmer in a private meeting with members of the Haiti Action Committee. There Farmer was asked to address the current political situation in Haiti. (The exiled democratically-elected president says he was forced out of office by the United States, France and Canada, whereas spokespersons for these countries say he resigned.)  

“(Farmer) said he takes his cue from the poor in Haiti—so few respect the needs as articulated by the very poor,” Spagat said. “He says the very poor of Haiti want (President Jean-Bertrand) Aristide back.”  

Farmer’s popularity was most evident at his Friday talk in a Public Health School auditorium, where students and faculty filled the seats, crowded into aisles, sat behind him on the podium and strained to hear him outside the doorways. During the question and answer session, one student acknowledged that he decided to go into public health after reading one of Farmer’s books and asked for advice, and he would graduate the next day.  

“You don’t have to follow anyone’s example,” Farmer answered, noting there are many ways to approach public health. The important thing is to choose something you feel passionate about. “For me, it’s the mix of delivering services directly and thinking about the broader social implications of the work or the social roots of disease and suffering.”  

Wael El-Nachef, an undergraduate in public health, was familiar with Farmer’s work; Friday’s lecture reinforced his admiration. “His recognition that social justice relates to health is very impressive,” El-Nachef said. “Not everyone (in public health) recognizes that.”  


For more information, see Farmer’s Website www.pih.org and his latest book, Pathologies of Power: Health, Human Rights and the New War on the Poor (University of California Press). Farmer was also the subject of Tracy Kidder’s Mountains Beyond Mountains: Healing the World: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer (Random House).  

Tuk Tuk Thai & Asian Market Opens on University Ave. By LYDIA GANS Special to the Planet

Tuesday May 17, 2005

The shelves are lined with cans of jackfruit, mango, coconut, lychee, palm, pineapple, aloe vera, bananas; with sealed packages of dried radishes, turnips, fish, squid and anchovies; with jars of pickled gooseberries, cucumbers, salted prunes, garlic. There are dried spices, chilis of all degrees of hotness, nine different flavors of curry paste and dozens of varieties of bottled sauces. Except for some cans of Dole pineapple chunks and a bottle of Heinz ketchup everything else comes from Thailand. 

I could fill this article simply by listing the ordinary and the exotic offerings at the newly opened Tuk Tuk Thai and Asian Market at 1581 University Ave. This is the latest incarnation of the market space previously occupied by Piccadilly Circus and, before that, Wild Oats Market. The local business community is happy about the market’s arrival. 

“We’re really pleased that Tuk Tuk has come,” said Maulin Chokshi, president of the University Avenue Association. 

He credits the market’s owner, Mr. Thanu Chaichana, with business experience and good connections in the community. And unlike the previous stores in this location which appealed to a limited group of shoppers, this market “is going to be pulling from a different clientele. (There will be) people coming from out of the area,” which is bound to benefit the other businesses on the avenue. 

The market is still very much a work in progress; many of the shelves are still bare and owner’s ambitious plans have yet to be fulfilled. Thanu Chaichana came to the United States from Thailand in 1980, moved around a bit between California and Arizona and by 1994 started his first Thai restaurant on Solano Avenue in Berkeley. 

Since then his business has expanded so he now owns a number of Thai restaurants and also distributes imported supplies to other restaurants in the area. His family too, has grown and many of them are employed in the business. 

The Tuk Tuk Thai and Asian Market is a new kind of venture for Thanu. It is different running a market that depends on walk-in trade, Thanu explains. It’s not like having regular customers to deliver to. 

“I know (with) grocery stores it’s hard to make money,” he said. “You have to (offer) good quality, good prices.” 

He is offering that, and a lot more. Along with the Asian foods there are the standard grocery store products; meats and dairy, dry goods and produce, but among these too, there are items not to be found in the usual markets.  

There is a big section for “take away,” a deli counter with interesting Thai dishes for people hungry for a quick snack. Along the back wall are shelves of dishes, cooking and serving utensils, and tucked in a corner near the cash registers are some beautiful hand-made art and craft items. Thanu plans to carry more of these. He says that the quality, variety and popularity of Thai merchandise are “upscale” these days and are being exported to markets world wide. He will be going to a big exposition of Thai products in Los Angeles next month. And he finds that Americans are increasingly interested in Thailand, not just the goods but the people and the culture of the country too. 

Looking at the market now, there is still a lot of empty space but Thanu has big plans. 

“Besides the produce, beside the food court, beside the merchandise which is imported from Thailand we plan to combine everything.. to be a Thai center,” he said. “If you walk in this market you will get everything that you’re looking for.”  

That is going to include entertainment, CDs, DVDs books and tapes too. 

Danai Trassnon, the store manager, came from Thailand with no experience in marketing but boundless energy and enthusiasm. He explains that they are setting up a system to import goods directly from Thailand and distribute to Thai businesses here, eliminating the middlemen who currently are all from other countries. And he talks about the company’s future: not just a market, or a center as Thanu puts it. Danai is even more expansive. 

“We have a goal here to be like an Asian town,”’ he said. “We need to be complete,” he has already learned the lingo, “one-stop shopping.”  

The market is open seven days a week from 9 a.m-9 p.m. with take-out food starting at about 10:30 a.m., in time for lunch. About 60 percent of Thanu’s staff are family members. Everyone is friendly, everyone clearly enjoys their work. 

I am not usually an impulse shopper but I couldn’t resist buying a couple of Thai imports, at reasonable prices. A jar of anchovies dipped in a tangy batter fried to a crisp and coated with sesame seeds was fantastic. A can of sweet red beans and tapioca pearls in coconut milk didn’t excite me that much—I haven’t developed the taste that Asians have for the sensation of chewing tapioca pearls—but the can was easy to open, no tools needed, and had a nifty plastic lid which concealed a spoon with a folded handle. We could use more of that user friendly packaging. 

And by the way, “tuk tuks” are brightly colored, open sided, three wheeled “taxis” used in many parts of Asia. They’re fast and maneuverable, good for getting around on crowded city streets. Powered by two-stroke engines they are very smelly and loud, making a sound like tuk tuk. A picture of a tuk tuk is used as the market’s logo. 


Letters to the Editor

Tuesday May 17, 2005


Editors, Daily Planet: 

This is my home town. It has changed a lot in my lifetime, I have a thousand stories about Berkeley life, some lively and a few deadly. That is probably like most towns. But I have always thought Berkeley was special. I chose to spend my copious amounts of free time (a joke to those who know me) on preservation issues.  

Preservation is not a lonely word—it goes hand in hand with community-building. We do not look at buildings in isolation, but as part of the fabric of community and society. We operate with principles and guidelines, and in unison with other like-minded groups all over the state and the country. This is National Preservation Month, and oddly enough, while we bomb the hell out of other countries (thank goodness this town says that is wrong) the country celebrates recognizing that if we do not stop and smell the roses, those with money to be made or power to be had will strip away what we hold dear, and future generations will be left without knowing what came before.  

The Landmarks Preservation Commission has been working on ordinance revisions to comply with the permit streamlining act—and has produced a draft for the first of two phases. Development interests seek to put in their own language—they want to demolish and rebuild without obstruction. There is no nicer way to say it.  

For those who were inspired by Zelda Bronstein’s insightful article last week, there are ways to get involved. The Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association holds educational events throughout the year, and you can contact them for more details (www.berkeleyheritage.com).  

For those of you who have chosen to make Berkeley your home, I would ask you to look around as you walk or drive through town—think about what makes it important to you. How do we turn our dreams for a better future into reality? Preservationists will tell you it starts with understanding and learning from our past.  

Carrie Olson 



Editors, Daily Planet: 

Your recent article about curtailing commission meetings left out a few points. We value our commission contributions beyond measure. Members of Berkeley’s 40-plus commissions contribute their time and effort voluntarily. They study issues thoroughly and craft thoughtful recommendations to the City Council. To a person, they are committed and dedicated to their task. Our proposal to reduce the number of commission meetings per year was made in the spirit of compromise and with the city’s budget shortfall in mind. 

Our proposal does not go as far the city manager’s proposal, yet makes some reductions to help address the city’s budget deficit. Where the manager recommends meetings be reduced from 11 to six per year, our proposal reduces meetings from 11 to eight per year, with the flexibility for the commission to call an extra meeting if their workload so demands. This just means the commissions will take a longer summer recess and eliminate one meeting during the winter holiday. People travel or are otherwise distracted during these times. For other commissions which do not usually have heavy agendas, our proposal increases the manager’s recommendation of four meetings per year to six meetings per year with the option for an extra meeting if needed.  

The city has been in budget-cutting mode for two years. Every department has had to cut staff positions, employees have taken leave voluntarily and given up their cost-of-living increases. Some council aides have reduced their time voluntarily to put those funds back into the general fund. Community groups have had their funding cut and general expenses have been reduced across the board. Almost everyone has accepted belt-tightening with a team spirit, for which we are grateful.  

We are not pleased with having to impose reductions anywhere. This compromise proposal tries to be responsive to commissioners’ concerns about reducing their meetings and the reality of the budget. We propose it for review and comment, offering it as a compromise proposal which we felt was warranted. 

Tom Bates, Mayor 

Linda Maio, Councilmember 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

While listening to a marathon council meeting, I became physically ill, with guilt perhaps, listening to the desperate needs of homeless providers and knowing that many millions would be needed if BUSD insists the warm pool be rebuilt across Milvia, just because some officials at BUSD might cave to various pressures to eject the disabled and other community swimmers from the campus at BHS. 

We all should be grateful to the City Council for supporting the exercise programs at warm pool, BHS; especially thanks to Ms. Betty Olds, Mr. Worthington and Ms. Spring for their amendment to urge keeping the present structure and location with attendant much less expensive additions and alterations. 

With help from a lifeguard who wishes to study architecture I am working on schematics for a remodel within the two sturdy pool rooms. With 12,000 square feet of existing enclosure there are many good options. 

Terry Cochrell 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I’m relieved that enough planning commissioners manifested the common sense to rein in the zeal of others who were intent on stripping the Landmarks Preservation Commission of all its meaningful powers, and especially the power to deny demolitions. 

Yet some grave perils to our Landmarks Preservation Ordinance are still ahead. When planning commissioners Burke and Wengraf recommended “strict adherence to the standards of integrity set out by the secretary of interior standards, as recommended by the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO),” they subverted the spirit of the SHPO’s own language, which was quite inclusive and allows a building to be designated on the strength of its historic, cultural, or social merits quite apart from any architectural merit or integrity it may or may not possess. 

On the issue of structures of merit, Burke and Wengraf’s recommendation was to abolish the designation for now and to “create a new designation with lesser protections, distinct from a landmark designation, as suggested by SHPO.” Again, the SHPO never suggested such a thing. It merely asked the LPC to think about the issue of having two separate categories with equal protections. 

I’ll say it again: The SHPO asked the LPC—not the Planning Commission or any other body unqualified to deal with architectural and historic resources. The LPC was going to deliberate the structure of merit issue at a later date. Let the experts do their job without meddling. 

Especially in light of the real-estate interests’ outcry for architectural integrity in landmarks, the structures of merit category makes eminent sense, for it allows buildings that have been altered but retain their historic, cultural, or social significance to be designated and protected. 

What Berkeleyan would want this city to lose the Durant Hotel, or the Weisbrod Building at 2001 San Pablo, or Weltevreden (the Cal Band house) on the Northside, or the Squires Block at Shattuck and Vine? These are all designated structures of merit. The appellation “merit” was not given without reason. 

Daniella Thompson 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Well, it’s a race for the bottom. County government hits a new low. The Grand Jury wrote a scathing, completely biased and often inaccurate report on the Medical Center. The authors clearly hate unions, love consultants and didn’t bother to talk to the workers they were so willing to slander. At first I thought it read like something Arnold Schwarzenegger would write, pissed off at nurses and not thinking clearly. 

Then it hit me, many of the statements sounded like quotes of things Sheriff Plummer has said at Authority Board meetings. According to some sources Sheriff Plummer and the Civil Grand Jury are pen pals; he writes them little notes. The sheriff sure must be mad that the Grand Jury report uses lots of his exotic ideas and even some of his language and doesn’t give him credit anywhere, they didn’t even say they spoke to him. 

Then the same day the Grand Jury Report comes out slamming the Medical Center, we learn that the Board of Supervisors plans to appoint Sheriff Plummer to the Hospital Authority Board; corruption or coincidence, you be the judge.  

Ann Nomura 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I read Richard Brenneman’s article “Do-It-Yourself Electrical Repairs May Get a Lot More Expensive,” at first with disbelief and then anger. Initially I had hoped it was intended to be a Friday the 13th joke. 

If this type of nonsense is permitted to be implemented, it is only a matter of time before we will have to obtain a permit to change light bulbs (how many bureaucrats does it take to change . . .?) It is administrative arrogance such as this change in the new California Electrical Code, that caused California voters to adopt Proposition 13. 

I doubt very much that any California homeowners, including this writer, would ever get a permit for any of the activities that your reporter cites in the article, nor do I foresee many contractors rushing out to obtain an $85 permit for the 20-minute house call to change a switch. So why make us law-breakers? Why is this insanity happening? There must be an awful lot of civil servants in our government who have nothing better to do but to inconvenience and harass the hands that feed them. 

Perhaps we will need to mount the barricades once again. While I am not generally in favor of legislation by referendum, instances such as this are causing me to change my mind. It is apparent that we have way too much governmental overhead, if our civil servants have the time to concoct this type of regulations. 

Peter Klatt 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The people of Alameda County recently voted to tax themselves in order to fund public medical institutions (such as Highland Hospital and community clinics). But the so-called liberals on the Board of Supervisors aren’t content with the added funding. They still want to gut, cut and privatize these vital public services because the costs are a drain on the public budget. (Isn’t that a given? As the medical crisis nationwide continues won’t it cost more to provide public health services?) Their attack now has evolved from spending millions on a consulting firm (Cambio) given the job of eliminating “inefficiencies,” to putting the sheriff (will the posse comitatus be next?) on the hospital’s board of directors.  

Charlie Plummer says that medical services are “not an employment agency for the unions….and every agency has to live within their budget.” This is Bush-type ignorant yahooism. Plummer likes to tell us what the Medical Center “is not” but he doesn’t discuss what it is. He isn’t served by it; he’s not among the tens of thousands of uninsured in the county; he’s just a bureaucrat who is competing to take his share of the public pie for the sheriff’s department. Shame on the Board of Supervisors. Let’s throw those bums out and elect people who will truly fight for public rights. As for Charlie, he’d best leave his six guns behind when he comes to town, because this ain’t Dodge and we don’t need a sheriff running the health care system.  

Marc Sapir 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Wow, our neighborhood soda fountain, the last of it’s kind for at least a 25-mile radius or more, is closing again. Every time it comes as terrible news and threatens the few historic elements left in the Elmwood District, not to mention another hard-working and interesting purveyor of historic Americana has to move on. It is true that this one small district lacks a breakfast spot, though many are all around elsewhere. It seems like a great potential for the owner of the current shop (no longer a pharmacy) and she could benefit from the customers earlier in the morning, if she could really understand the client base a little better. Obviously it costs to be open longer hours, but if you know how to run things then one can benefit from the situation. Perhaps expand the newsstand aspect of the place. Michael has great energy and fits into the scene so well; now what will we get? Perhaps the end of a very long and wonderful era. It is the one place in the neighborhood where people can really easily hang out due to the counter-style seating, pop in for a spot of ice cream or lunch (breakfast would really be handy) and catch up on some neighborhood news or just learn from the old timers what they have to share. 

Too bad!  

Valenta de Regil 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Recently, I learned that high schools in California allow animal slaughter on school grounds within the agricultural curriculum. However, the state Education Code affirms that “each teacher shall endeavor to impress upon the minds of the pupils…the humane treatment of living creatures.” Not only is animal slaughter instruction a squander of educational funds, it also encourages violent behavior among youth. Countless studies have established a connection between animal cruelty and human violence.  

I was happy to learn that Assemblymember Johan Klehs introduced AB 1685, which would outlaw animal slaughter on school property. By prohibiting slaughter in schools, a strong message will be delivered that the promotion of animal cruelty will not be tolerated in California schools. 

Christine Morrissey 

Director, East Bay Animal Advocates 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

In the ongoing discussion of traffic circles, I have not yet seen this important point: When traffic circles are in an intersection designed for them, as in Marin Circle, they have a very different effect on non-motorized traffic than when they are squeezed into intersections where they do not fit. I easily can believe that circles that leave room for crosswalks and bike lanes have an excellent safety record. Any circle should reduce head-on collisions. The problem is with squeezing together the car, bike, and pedestrian lanes running in the same direction. The circles springing up like mold in the Berkeley flatlands push cars towards or into the normal crosswalk space, and certainly through any bike lane space. Traffic rules dictate that when there is no gutter lane space, bikes have a right to what lane exists. Having the bike lane fade out at each intersection is dangerous. As a pedestrian, my daughter freaks out whenever the cars going the same nominal direction as her, veer at her as they go around the circle. If they are going too fast for good control, she is in increased danger. To reduce the danger in some places, they are moving the crosswalks back away from the intersection; they also will need to modify curb cuts to the new crosswalk positions. This may affect parking spaces, one of Berkeley’s most important resources, so it’s sure to stay interesting. 

Barbara Judd 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The religious extremists in America are no different than the religious extremists in the Middle East except that they drive nicer cars. Same MO: Secrecy, deception, intimidation and infiltration. We saw the same modus operandi used by the Taliban and we see it with the fanatics in the Middle East. Religious zealots have infiltrated the U.S. government, the Bush administration, the Republican Party, the Kansas school board and boards of education around the country. It is time we stop using flowery language when we talk about this takeover crowd. If you don’t see this happening you’ve been very inattentive and are in for a rude awakening. These crusaders use the pseudonyms of fundamentalist, evangelical, and Christianity as covers for their extremism. Pervasive is the only way to describe this spreading cancer. 

Ron Lowe 

Nevada City 


Column:The Public Eye: It’s Time to Demand a Common-Sense Energy Policy By Bob Burnett

Tuesday May 17, 2005

In response to rapidly rising gasoline prices, President Bush called for Congress to pass his energy plan even while admitting that such an action wouldn’t reduce costs. “I wish I could simply wave a magic wand and lower gas prices tomorrow … [my bill won’t] change the price at the pump today.” 

What Bush’s energy bill will do is to protect the windfall profits of big oil companies such as Exxon Mobil, whose earnings for the first quarter of 2005 were up 44 percent. The Bush legislation will also make it easier for the petroleum giants to drill and build refineries wherever they want. 

It’s a sadly familiar pattern. This administration doesn’t have a plan for any of the difficult problems that confront America: homeland security, the economy, global climate change, and now, energy. Instead of a reasonable first step, asking Americans to make a common sacrifice with across-the-board conservation, the administration offers instead, magical thinking. In the president’s fantasy, the “free market” will miraculously solve our gasoline shortages. 

Bush insists that the Republican version of the tooth fairy—the “technology wizard”—will magically make everything better, “In the years ahead, technology will allow us to create entirely new sources of energy …[it] is the nation’s ticket to energy independence.” He holds up the development of hydrogen fuel as an example, a solution that sober minds believe won’t be a reality for at least 20 years. 

The inability of the Bush administration to get a grip on America’s energy problems raises the question of what a common-sense energy policy would actually look like.  

It seems obvious that a realistic plan would begin with an acknowledgment that the world is at, or very near, “peak” petroleum production. Americans are about to experience huge increases in oil prices. For this reason, we should do everything possible to reduce our reliance on petroleum, which is about forty percent of our total energy utilization. (This estimate does not include natural gas, which is another 25 percent.) Because transportation accounts for two-thirds of all American oil usage, it follows that we should diminish our everyday consumption. Private automobiles are by far the largest consumers of petroleum. Paris and Los Angeles are cities of roughly the same population density; however, residents of Los Angeles use four times the annual energy, because Los Angelenos are totally dependent upon the private automobile while Parisians utilize a superb train and subway system. Americans should begin to rely on public transportation as much as possible. 

The next logical step would be for all those who insist on owning their own automobile to replace it with a hybrid. The current generation of hybrid cars—fueled by electricity and gasoline—performs at approximately 50 miles per gallon (mpg). The next generation will use different batteries, ones that plug into the electrical grid at night, and, as a result, will get 75 mpg. Today, in Brazil, it is possible to buy vehicles with flexible-fuel tanks that use petroleum, ethanol, and methanol in combination. If you add this capability to a plug-in hybrid, then performance increases to roughly 400 miles per gallon of gasoline. A realistic energy policy would provide tax credits for hybrid vehicles and incentives to promote the manufacture of plug-in and flexible-fuel-tank hybrids. (It would also provide for “carbon fuel” taxes to penalize all those who resist moving to alternative fuels.) 

American Industry accounts for 25 percent of our oil usage and much of this stems from the production of plastics. A realistic energy plan would tax plastics in all forms. Petroleum is also used in a variety of other products, such as detergents, fertilizers, film, and paints; all of these goods should be taxed. The remaining 8 percent of our petroleum usage results from energy-generation by public utilities and consumers, in forms such as generators and furnaces. Utilities need to be subjected to positive and negative incentives so that they will stop using carbon-based fuels and turn to renewable sources such as solar, biomass, and wind. 

Finally, a common-sense energy plan would ask all Americans to make their residences more energy efficient. Once again, there could be incentives for improving home insulation and adding features such as solar panels to heat our water and generate electricity. Citizens could also be motivated to replace their old, power-hungry appliances with new, low-powered versions. (The San Francisco Sierra Club website—http://sanfranciscobay.sierraclub.org— has a good summary of these alternatives.) 

Providing a reasonable alternative to the Bush energy plan is not rocket science. A common-sense energy policy means taking a look at our major uses of oil and figuring out reasonable alternatives and incentives to drive Americans in the desired direction. Sadly, our experience with the Bush administration suggests that they aren’t interested in reasonable alternatives; the giant energy companies—who are among the biggest donors to Republican causes—support their current policies. However, Americans can still intervene through Congress to force them to get a grip on reality. We can dismiss the Bushies’ magical thinking and demand that the United States adopt a common-sense energy policy. 


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




Column: Early Morning Earthquake Brings Thoughts of an Old Friend By Susan Parker

Tuesday May 17, 2005

Did you feel the earthquake two weeks ago at 4 a.m.? At our house there was pandemonium. Andrea ran into my room and threatened to jump into bed with me. Willie woke up and asked what was going on. Downstairs, Ralph and Whiskers slept through it, but upstairs was ablaze with light and activity. It was like a hysterical pajama party.  

Shortly after the shaking stopped, something weird happened. The lights went dim and then came on again. I attributed this phenomenon to the earth’s movements, but Andrea had a different theory. “It’s that old man who used to live in Willie’s room,” she said. “He’s tryin’ to make contact.” 

“I don’t think so,” I answered, but her hypothesis gave me pause. 

Leroy Ligons was 82 years old when he passed away of lung cancer in our back bedroom in 2003. A retired bartender, avid card player and sports fan, he moved to the Bay Area from Omaha over 60 years ago. It was during World War II, but Leroy didn’t serve in the armed forces because he was the sole provider for his younger brothers and sisters. Back in Nebraska the government had trained him to be a machinist, but because the union didn’t allow African Americans within their ranks, Leroy was out of work. Then the government taught him welding skills and Leroy found a job in the Richmond shipyards. In 1958 he switched careers. He bartended in a series of low paying clubs patronized by African Americans. In the early seventies, Leroy and a handful of others sued the Local 52 Bartenders Union and broke the color barrier. He became a homeowner, a husband and a father.  

But that was a long time ago. When we met Leroy, introduced to us by our then live-in employee, Jerry, Leroy’s house was gone, his ex-wife deceased, and his children scattered and only marginally in touch. 

Leroy moved into our home temporarily. I drove him to the North Oakland Senior Center to get housing advice.  

Shirley Sexton, who is in charge of Information, Assistance, and Referral at the Senior Center, asked Leroy a series of questions.  

“What is your full name?” 

“Salathiel Lee Ligons,” answered Leroy. “Do you know what my name means?” 

“No,” said Shirley. 

“King of the Black Jews.” 

“Are you Jewish?”  

“No. I was raised Catholic. Now Jerry takes me to Downs Memorial church every week for a free lunch.” 

“Where were you born?” asked Shirley. 

“Portsmouth, Virginia. Moved to Philadelphia, and then to Omaha. Spent my childhood there. Colder than a you-know-what’s-what there, if you know what I mean.” 

“I know what you mean,” said Shirley. 

“Seventeen degrees below zero when I left in 1942,” added Leroy. “Haven’t bothered to go back since.” 

“I understand,” said Shirley. “Have you been employed, Leroy?” 

“All my life,” he answered. “I was a meat packer when I was a kid. Then a machinist, a welder and a bartender. Worked at the racetrack and Spengers for years. Retired in 1987. 

“What’s your income now?” asked Shirley. 

“One thousand a month. Sixteen dollars over the amount needed to qualify for MediCal.” 

Shirley shook her head. “Yes,” she sighed. “Do you take any medications?” 

“None,” answered Leroy. 

“Do you have any savings?” 

“Not a penny.”  

“Do you own any property?” 

“Not anymore. I’m a rolling stone.” 

“Yes,” said Shirley. “It appears you are.” 

“And I gather no moss.” 

“I hear you.” 

“And there’s somethin’ else you should know about me,” said Leroy. 

“What’s that?” 

Leroy looked around and then leaned forward in his chair, so that he was close to Shirley. “I don’t like bein’ around old people,” he whispered. 

“That could be a problem,” said Shirley. 

“I know,” answered Leroy. “But I’ve got to be able to run.” 


“Run free,” said Leroy. “You know what I’m sayin’?” 

“We all do,” said Shirley. 

“But I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place.” 

“Yes,” agreed Shirley, “I’m afraid you are.” 

Soon after, Leroy qualified for MediCal, and took up residency at Harriet Tubman Terrace on Adeline Street. But when he was diagnosed with lung cancer and given only a few months to live, he returned to our house. And now Andrea thought he might be trying to communicate with us.  

“I hope you’re right,” I said. “I miss Leroy and I’d love to chat with him. He probably wants to talk politics. I know he can’t stand the fact that George is still in office.” 

“No,” said Andrea. “He’s tryin’ to tell us to go back to bed, and that’s exactly where I’m goin’.” 

The lights haven’t blinked since the earthquake, but I suspect that we’ll be hearing from Leroy again soon.e

Police Blotter By MATTHEW ARTZ

Tuesday May 17, 2005

Police Nab Fleeing Passengers  

Berkeley police outran three men who tried to flee their car after police stopped it on the 2800 block of Fulton Street at 10:22 p.m. Saturday. They were arrested for interfering with an officer in the course of his lawful duty, said Police Officer Joe Okies. 


Fish-Food Fisticuffs 

Police responded to a fight at Spenger’s Restaurant that broke out just before midnight on Saturday. According to Officer Okies, the combatants threw restaurant property at each other during the melee, but had been separated by the time police arrived. 


Slick Attack 

An argument at a house on the 3000 block of Harper Street turned violent early Friday morning when a woman doused a man’s face with grease, Okies said. Police arrested the 44-year-old Berkeley woman.  


Assault Via Tray 

A 51-year-old man entered police headquarters at about 9:30 p.m. Friday to report that he had been battered with a food tray, Okies said. The attack occurred about one hour earlier at 1802 Fairview St. ›

Commentary: Citizens Have Right to Know How City is Run

Tuesday May 17, 2005


The Daily Planet has taken the unusual step of forwarding J. Stacey Sullivan’s response to Terry Francke of Californians Aware back to him for comment before publication, because we believe that their lively dialog is central to the crucia l decisions which have been placed on the agenda for the Berkeley City Council’s hastily scheduled closed meeting at 9 o’clock tonight (Tuesday). For too long in Berkeley, the Brown Act’s narrowly drawn exemptions to disclosure requirements have been stre tched to the breaking point so that city officials can keep bad deals a secret from the voting public. Before the current elected and appointed officials bargain away the city’s right to receive fair recompense for services rendered and to control its own planning for areas near campus, and before the city aborts its lawsuit against UC’s completely inadequate environmental study of its Long Range Development Plan, the public should have an extensive opportunity to study the proposed deal and comment on it. The reason democratic decision-making, in the full light of day, is still the best system is that it prevents horrendous mistakes like those which got San Diego in the soup. The City Council should appreciate the good advice it can get from its sophisticated citizens, instead of continuing the smoke-filled room school of public policy which has caused debacles like buying a toxic waste site from UC for the Harrison skate park. The Planet will continue to demand full disclosure in the public interest.  



Editors, Daily Planet: 

Speaking as an attorney, a Berkeley resident, and someone with extensive experience with the legislative process and the Brown Act, I would like to point out a basic error in Terry Francke’s letter in the May 13-16 edition. What M r. Francke erroneously uses as legal authority for his disagreement with Antonio Rossman is what is known as “findings and declarations” language, with which the Legislature makes general statements about the need for and intent of a statute. This languag e can be cited by a judge as persuasive or indicative of legislative intent, but it does not have the same force of law as the substantive provisions of the statute. In the case of the Brown Act, two of those substantive provisions authorize closed meetin gs to address pending litigation and settlement agreements (Gov’t Code Secs. 54956.9 and 54957.1(a)(3)). As Mr. Rossman correctly states, a breach of confidentiality by either party in this context could not only blow up the negotiations but expose the ci ty to additional liability. What Mr. Francke refers to as “the Rossman twist” is in fact a straightforward and succinct statement by an eminent legal authority of the law as applied to the facts. If Mr. Francke has a problem with the law, he is free to try to change it. 

J. Stacey Sullivan 


Ms. Sullivan, 

You state in your letter to the Berkeley Daily Planet, “In the case of the Brown Act, two of those subtantive provisions authorize closed meetings to address pending litigation and settlement agreements (government code sections. 54956.9 and 54957.1(a)(3)). As Mr. Rossman correctly states, a breach of confidentiality by either party in this context could not only blow up the negotiations but expose the city to additional liability.” 

1. The closed session authorities you cite allow the local body to confer in closed session with its own attorney—not with the adversary or its attorney. 

2. There is no authority in California law under which a party in litigation with a public agency may prevent the agency from making disclosures to the public of information known to both parties. 

3. Absent a protective order, there is no authority creating liability for a local body that chooses to disclose to the public the progress of settlement negotiations or indeed anything else it has learned from the adverse party in litigation or in negotiations to settle litigation. 

4. Accordingly while there is a confidentiality of communication between each party and its own attorney, the fact that settlement negotiations are under way does not create a duty of “confidentiality” such that the government may not inform the community of what it knows. 

If you can find any statute or case to the contrary, I’d be glad to learn of it. Or if you can point to even a single case of actual liability created by an alleged breach of confidentiality illustrating your point, even one not reaching case law, I’d be glad to hear of it, as I’m sure the Daily Planet’s readership would as well. 

Keeping the public in the dark about the progress of litigation or settlement negotiations (typically matched by comparable secrecy surrounding real property and development deals and bargaining with public employee unions) is not only not legally compelled but ultimately dangerous to sound public admini stration. That at least has been the experience of California’s most profoundly troubled major city, San Diego. Its city council early this year adopted, as part of a curative “Right to Know” ordinance, provisions requiring a certain procedure before ever y closed session on litigation, property negotiations or employee unit bargaining: 

1. “In open session, before public comment or City Council discussion of any closed session item, the city attorney or appropriate staff shall provide an oral update or progress report on matters under litigation, real property negotiations, or employee unit bargaining.” 

2. “The public shall have the opportunity to directly address the City Council on any closed session item on the agenda, prior to City Council questions and discussion on the item and after the oral report by the city attorney or appropriate staff.” 

3. “At the regular or special meeting of the City Council, the mayor and councilmembers shall have the opportunity to discuss the basis for convening into closed session, ask questions, and respond to questions from the public.” 

Berkeley officials have talked about a sunshine ordinance for years now, but somehow never got quite motivated enough to proceed with one. As San Diego shows, however, being as open as possible with the community about expensive and otherwise consequential lawsuits, land deals and bargained employee benefit packages is not only not legally prohibited or fraught with liability but entirely sensible and prudent policy for officials who respect their constituents enough to treat them like adults with, yes, a right to know how the city’s being run. 


Terry Francke 

General Counsel 

Californians Aware 


Commentary: Fay Stender, Good Samaritan By BRIAN GLUSS

Tuesday May 17, 2005

Fay Abrahams Stender, a world-renowned liberal lawyer and pacifist, died May 19, 1980, as a direct result of six gunshot wounds suffered in 1979, in her home in Berkeley. A city resident for most of her good life, she was born of a long line of Berkeley-born family. 

May 19 will be the 25th anniversary of Fay’s death. As a long-time friend of Fay’s, I am urging the city to proclaim a Fay Stender Day and honor her in every way possible, including a suitable—and well-publicized—ceremony. She deserves no le ss. 

Like all Good Samaritans, Fay was a modest person who never blew her own trumpet. She just quietly went about bettering the lives of many, many thousands of people. The depth and scope of her good works were well-nigh astonishing. 

She is perhaps bes t-known for championing prison reform and women’s rights, but she did much more. Civil rights, civil liberties, Her anti-war activities. Her anti-Apartheid work. Her work for the “disappeareds” in South America. You name it, and she was there on the front line. 

As a long-time partner of famed San Francisco-based defense attorney Charles Garry (along with her husband Marvin), she helped literally thousands of prisoners pro bono, in toto spending more time in San Quentin, visiting her charges, than many pr isoners. Huey Newton and George Jackson were amongst her pro bono clients, but mainly she helped the poor and the down-trodden, prisoners who could not afford adequate counsel for defense and appeal. It was this work that ultimately got her killed. (Ther e is no rational explanation for such evil acts.) 

On a personal note, although I saw little of her in her final years (I lived in Chicago), I was privileged to be her friend for 25 years, from a few days after I got off the boat from England, August 1955. Her husband Marvin is my oldest American friend. My first job in the U.S. was as a statistician on the now-famous Jury Project at the University of Chicago Law School. Marvin was on the project, Fay was then a law-student whom I met a few days after I m et Marvin. 

A little-known fact, Fay was a very fine classical pianist. The first year, I lived at International House, and Fay would visit occasionally and play Bach, Beethoven, Schubert, and Brahms on the grand piano in the vast lounge. I knew even then that Fay was a very special human being, beautiful within and without. Warm, friendly, with an exceptionally fine mind. She left two great children, Oriana and Neal. 

On this 25th anniversary of her death, Fay deserves to be remembered with honor, for a good life well-lived. There are few Fay Stenders in this far from perfect world of ours. Selfless people who quietly go around helping their human beings as a way of life. 

We should honor such rare and wonderful people. Fay deserves no less. Let us have a Fay Stender Day in Berkeley, and let it be worthy of Fay. Not merely a proclamation dashed off in 5 minutes, but a formal day of celebrations of Fay’s good life. 

Fay Stender lives on the scores, if not hundreds of thousands of lives she touched directly and indirectly. Let us not forget her. 


Brian Gluss is a Berkeley writer, researcher and political activist.Ã

Commentary: Slaving for the Progressives By THOMAS GANGALE

Tuesday May 17, 2005

Remember the old progressive values: better working conditions, shorter work weeks, higher wages? These issues hark back to the capital “P” Progressive Era, when workers struggled to win decent wages and working conditions from the Robber Barons. The movement made great gains in the early and middle 20th century, and fell victim to its own success as its core values became less important, nearly forgotten altogether. These issues ought to be front and center on the progressive stage once again. American middle class incomes have been stagnant for 30 years, and income inequality is the highest it’s been since the Gilded Age of laissez faire capitalism. 

Sure, we’re all for saving the whales and the spotted owls and the snail darters and the medflies. Sure, we want clean air and clean water. But meanwhile, we all have to eat and pay the bills. 

If you think that the main problem in American society is economic justice, take a look at Boston-based Grassroots Campaigns, Inc., which has offices in major California cities. Their motto is “Building grassroots support for progressive candidates, parties, and campaigns.” And, they have been spectacularly successful at it. In 2004, Grassroots Campaigns, Inc. had a target of raising five million dollars for the Democratic Party. They ended up raising $22 million! 

How did they do it? By exploiting their workers to a degree that would make John D. Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie beam with approval. The starting annual salary at Grassroots Campaigns, Inc. is $24,000. 

But, as they say on late-night TV, “Wait, there’s more.” More, more, more hours of toil. For this princely sum of $24,000, Grassroots Campaigns, Inc. expects its employees to work 60 to 70 hours a week, seven days a week. This works out to an hourly rate that is barely above the minimum wage in Massachusetts and California, and well below San Francisco’s “living wage.” 

Worse working conditions, longer work weeks, lower wages. Right on, man! 

For all its political rhetoric, Grassroots Campaigns, Inc. is like any other business, but instead of the profits going to the shareholders, they go to the Democratic Party. In Marxist terms, GCI was able to hand over $22 million to the party instead of the targeted $5 million by extracting surplus labor value from its workers. Obviously, the less you pay the workers and the more you work them, the more money you get to keep for your own purposes. But of course, Grassroots Campaigns, Inc. is fighting the good fight for the progressive cause—for the party—and we must all make sacrifices for the revolution, comrade. The ends justify the means, as usual. 

I recently attended what I expected to be a traditional job interview at GCI’s offices in Berkeley. Instead, it turned out to be a mass indoctrination session, where we were told how wonderful it was going to be to adopt this “lifestyle choice.” Now if that isn’t Doublespeak, I don’t know what is. You have the “freedom” to choose “slavery.” 

Most of the attendees either had or were about to receive political science degrees, so they should have had a course in political economy somewhere along the way, and they should have learned all that Marxist stuff about surplus labor value and rates of exploitation. I guess they didn’t let all that education go to their heads. But I’m an old horse, and when they saw that I wasn’t buying the Party line, they whisked me out of the building as though I had a plague that was about to spread to the rest of the herd. 

For my money, these so-called progressives at Grassroots Campaigns, Inc. are worse than the capitalists. 

Farms? In Berkeley? You bet... Animal Farm. 



Commentary: Mexicans Want Not Just Choice, But Change By DAVID BACON Pacific News Service

Tuesday May 17, 2005

MEXICO CITY—On May Day 1.2 million people filled the streets of Mexico City, the largest protest demonstration in Mexican history. This great, peaceful outpouring cried out for formal democracy at the ballot box, true choice in the country’s coming national elections and a basic change in its direction.  

“People want justice,” says Rufino Dominguez, coordinator of the Indigenous Front of Binational Organizations, a group that organizes indigenous people both in Mexico and the United States. “To us, democracy means more than elections. It means economic stability—our capacity to make a living in Mexico, without having to migrate, and a government that attends to the needs of the people.”  

The marchers were defending the Mexican political leader most likely to hear those demands. Last month, Mexico President Vicente Fox attempted to impeach Mexico City Mayor Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, undoubtedly Mexico’s most popular politician. Fox’s attorney general accused Obrador of using the city’s power of eminent domain to take land for an access road to a new hospital, in defiance of a court order. The charge was a pretext, a political move to prevent him from running for president in 2006. The attempt backfired when public outcry instead forced the attorney general to resign.  

“Lopez Obrador criticizes the voracity of the banking system and Fox’s free trade policies, and he has an austere style in a country accustomed to the excesses of imperial presidents,” explains Alejandro Alvarez, an economics professor at the National Autonomous University. “Above all, he shows solidarity with the poor.” Mexico City now pays a small pension to all its aged residents, and provides school supplies to its children.  

Lopez is not a radical on the order of Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, who on May Day declared socialism his country’s goal. Lopez’s plan for redeveloping the city center is business-friendly. He capped the budget for the subway system, on which most poor residents depend. Compromise or no, however, in the eyes of millions of Mexicans, Obrador represents a chance to scrap the present economic policies of Fox’s National Action Party (PAN).  

PAN’s strategy for economic development relies on promoting privatization and foreign investment. Its austerity policies have held wages down and discouraged independent union organization, while opening Mexico to imports from the United States.  

As a result, income has declined. The government estimates that 40 million of the country’s 104.5 million people live in poverty, 25 million in extreme poverty. Mexico has become an exporter both of the goods made by low-wage labor in foreign-owned border factories, and of labor itself, as millions of people cross that border looking for work in the north.  

The march of a million Mexicans is a clear demonstration that movements protesting those policies are growing. According to Alvarez, “the social movements of the last two years have been, in the countryside, openly against NAFTA, and in the city, against privatization and the dismantling of the welfare state.” This is the upsurge in popular sentiment that Lopez Obrador hopes to ride into office, and the reason why he represents such a problem, not just for Fox, but for the Bush administration as well. Mexico, under the impetus of this movement, would go in the direction of Brazil, Ecuador, Argentina, Uruguay, and even Venezuela—rejecting the free trade model, and economic control from Washington.  

No one understands the price of free trade policies better than those who have paid it, leaving their homes and traveling thousands of miles in search of work. Juan Romualdo Gutierrez Cortez, an indigenous leader and schoolteacher in the southern state of Oaxaca, emphasizes that “migration is a necessity, not a choice. You can’t tell a child to study to be a doctor if there is no work for doctors in Mexico. Children learn by example. If a student sees his older brother migrate to the United States, build a house and buy a car, he will follow.”  

Mexico has produced a unique political movement, uniting the population of the world’s largest city, estimated at 21.5 million, with the 9.2 million Mexicans now living north of the border. Those pushed out want the right to participate in deciding whether free trade policies, responsible for their migration, should be changed. These Mexicans living in the United States have little reason to be loyal to a political class that created the conditions forcing them to leave.  

The national congress voted over a decade ago to permit Mexicans in the United States to vote, but only set up a limited system to implement that decision at the end of April. Observers predict that of the 9.2 million Mexicans living in the United States, fewer than half a million will cast ballots. Dominguez, however, believes that in a close election, barring fraud, those votes could determine Mexico’s next president. This prospect must be as frightening to President Fox as the candidacy of Lopez Obrador. Not only is a candidate proposing a change in Mexico’s direction, but a sizable number of people have good reasons for voting for him.  


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

TheatreFIRST Stages Three Acts of War By KEN BULLOCK Special to the Planet

Tuesday May 17, 2005

With Making Noise Quietly, TheatreFIRST has something of an oxymoron: a low-key tour de force. Maybe a double oxymoron, considering the title. So many shows try in good faith to make statements about war, or about the social or simply human situation that leads up to it, taking on the subject either directly, or with a great deal of irony. In Making Noise Quietly, British playwright Robert Holman shows what comes out of it, with no big displays of violence, brutality or overwrought emotionalism, and only the driest, most transparent irony. 

And Holman does it in three seemingly unrelated dialogues. These scenes are pieces of complex sophistication, though they’re staged naturally enough. But the impressions build up. We come away with something else than what we came in with, something even a little different from what we experienced during the play. 

The careful show of disparity among characters and how they’re grouped reveal techniques usually associated with realistic novels or film. There are two young men of very different backgrounds who meet in the south English countryside during World War II: a young man inadvertently bringing tragic news to the mother of a former shipmate during the Malvinas (Falklands) War of 1982 and a German woman painting in a forest while an Englishman and a boy look on, three decades after World War II’s end. 

But this is modern theater in its grand sense, even though rendered almost in miniature. It provides a sense of chamber theater, but outdoors in the daylight and finally in the gathering dusk of three landscapes, without the walls that would build irony and resonance from the characters’ words and spare actions. There’s nothing in the expression of the text, nothing in the staging that’s indebted to television or commercial film, something increasingly rare in today’s theater, especially when representing everyday life and conversation. 

The scenes (Holman identifies them as three short plays, a triptych, and co-directors Clive Chafer and Erin Gilley have chosen paintings from the times of each scene that are projected at the start of each) quietly unfold, as the title seems to indicate. 

The first, “Being Friends,” finds a rather quiet Quaker conscientious objecter (David Koppel) working on a farm accosted by an ebullient artist and writer (Noah James Butler) with a novel forthcoming, preface by Edith Sitwell, who’s on a picnic; they stretch out on a grassy hummock by a pond and talk freely about everything, from the war to their sex lives, interrupted by an aerial raid in the distance, the concussion of bombs. When the objecter speaks about why he left the hospital he first did his service in, and of his obsession with a dying German prisoner, possibly tortured, whom he attended, his doubts over his objection to service come up; he’s thinking of enlisting. 

“Don’t get yourself killed, “ says his new friend, the artist, “The War is too real for me; I have a belief in the reality of unconsumated experience.” 

In the second, “Lost,” which follows immediately on the first, Koppel plays a very different part, in school tie and blazer, with a Public School accent, visiting the mother (Sue Trigg) of his former shipmate who was lost in the Malvinas War, only to discover she was unaware of her son’s death and hadn’t heard from him in five years. Trigg expresses the gamut of emotions, from anger to grief, humiliation at this proper young man hearing her complaint and finding her in her humble surroundings, to smiling, eyes half-closed through her tears. There’s an extraordinary sense of rationalizing loss, separation and the tangled, incomplete business of a dysfunctional family’s past with the meaning of the war. 

After a break, the third—and most complicated—piece (directed by Erin Gilley; the first two by Clive Chafer), Making Noise Quietly, unfolds in two scenes in the Black Forest. A German woman (Milissa Carey) seems to have adopted a strange pair: a Cockney soldier (Noah James Butler, in quite a shift from the artist Eric) and a young boy (Dan Marsh) whom he cares for, yet beats and yells at. With great reserves of patience and determination she makes inroads of trust to the kleptomaniacal, grunting and squealing little boy. Back and forth, up and down, this funny menage explores the effects of violence from two wars and the effects of reason and care on those who’ve been brutalized and who brutalize. 

A fine cast and sensitive direction give these scenes a thought-provoking life after the theater. TheatreFIRST presents an admirable performance of Holman’s clear-sighted everyday parables of humanity and the subtle effects of violence--both oblique and straight-forward. These are revealing dialogues, not paradoxical, but embodying every social contradiction, between seemingly mismatched people who have come together somehow through the brutality of war, which takes everything apart. 

TheatreFIRST presents Making Noise Quietly, May 12 to June 5 at Mills College, 5000 MacArthur Blvd., Oakland. For more information, call 436-5085 or see www.theatrefirst.com.

Arts Calendar

Tuesday May 17, 2005



Lariat Larry Stories and Rope Tricks at 6:30 p.m. at Kensington Branch Library, 61 Arlington Ave. 524-3043. 


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

“Sojourns” New works by Michael Shemchuk and Emily Payne opens at Cecile Moochnek Gallery, 1809-D Fourth St., and runs through June 26. 549-1018. www.cecilmoochneck.com 


James Morgan describes “Chasing Matisse: A Year in France Living My Dream” at 7:30 p.m. at Cody’s Books. 845-7852. www.codysbooks.com 


Kenny Washington at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. 841-JAZZ.  

Albany High School Jazz Band at 8 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $10, benefit for the Albany Music Fund. 525-5054.  

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

Mark Goldenberg, solo guitar, at 8 p.m. at Downtown. 649-3810. 

Sam Rivers Trio at 8 and 10 p.m. Yoshi’s at Jack London Square. Cost is $10-$16. 238-9200. www.yoshis.com 

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



Alexandra Pelosi describes “Sneaking into the Flying Circus: How the Media Turn Our Presidential Elections Into Freak Shows” at 12:30 p.m. at Cody’s Books. 845-7852.  

Peter Kramer introduces his new book “Against Depression” at 7:30 p.m. at Cody’s Books. 845-7852.  

Trina Robbins introduces “Wild Irish Roses” at 7 p.m. at Belladonna, 2436 Sacramento St. 883-0600. 

Rosemary Radford Ruether discusses “Goddesses and the Divine Feminine” at 7:30 p.m. at Black Oak Books. 486-0698.  

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

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


Music for the Spirit with Leonard Ott, trumpet at 12:15 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church of Oakland, 2619 Broadway. 444-3555. 

Calvin Keys Trio at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. 841-JAZZ. 

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

Valerie Troutt, nu-jazz and soulfusion, at 7:30 p.m. at La Peña. Cost is $5. 849-2568.  

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

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

Sonic Camouflage at 8 p.m. at Cafe Van Kleef, 1621 Telegraph Ave., Oakland, 763-7711.  

Falso Baiano, Brazillian jazz at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 848-8277. 

Old Bind Dogs at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $19.50- $20.50. 548-1761.  

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

High Like FIve, Sap, Heros Last Mission at 9 p.m. at Blakes on Telegraph. Cost is $6-$7. 848-0886.  

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



Barry Yourgrau introduces “Nastybook” for young readers at 7 p.m. at Cody’s on Fourth St. 559-9500. 


“Homecoming” a mini-retrospective of the work of Kay Sekimachi and Bob Stockdale. Informal talk on Kay Sekimachi by Carole Austin at 5 p.m. at ACCI Gallery, 1652 Shattuck Ave. 843-2527.  

“Journey: Images & Alzheimer’s” An exhibition of works created by people with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Reception at 6 p.m. at the Piedmont Community Hall, 711 Highland Ave., Piedmont. 644-8292. 


Ann Cummins, Samina Ali, and Kem Nunn join with Mimi Albert in conversation to celebrate the 10th birthday of the Bookmark Bookstore, Friends of the Oakland Public Library, at 6 p.m. at 721 Washington St. Donation $5. 444-0473. 

Eric Bogosian talks about his new novel “Wasted Beauty”at 7:30 p.m. at Cody’s Books. 845-7852.  

“Epic Tales of California” a panel discussion with Lauren Coodley, Richard A. Walker, and Gray Brechin at 7:30 p.m. at Black Oak Books. 486-0698.  

Berkeley Live and Unplugged Open mic featuring music and spoken word at 7 p.m. at Fellowship Hall, 1924 Cedar St. 703-9350.  


Mozart for Mutts & Meows with George Cleve at 6:30 p.m. at the Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant Ave. A benefit for Berkeley East Bay Humane Society. Tickets are $75. For information and reservations call 845-7735, ext. 19. www.berkeleyhumane.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.  

Mal Sharpe & the “Big Money in Jazz” Sextet at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. 841-JAZZ.  

Swamp Coolers at 8:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cajun dance lesson at 8 p.m. Cost is $9. 525-5054.  

Old Blind Dogs at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $19.50-$20.50. 548-1761.  

Move, Damond Moodie at 9:30 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $5. 841-2082.  

Carlos Ayres and Mochi Parra, AfroPeruvian, at 8 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $10. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

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

Ginny Wilson and Tommy Kessacker at 8 p.m. at Downtown. 649-3810.  

Bill Evans Soulgrass at 8 and 10 p.m. through Sun. at Yoshi’s at Jack London Square, through Sun. Cost is $15-$26. 238-9200.  

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



Berkeley Repertory Theater “The People’s Temple” at the Roda Theater, through June 5. Tickets are $20-$55. 647-2949. www.berkeleyrep.org 

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

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


Master of Fine Arts Exhibition opens at Berkeley Art Museum, 2626 Bancroft Way, and runs through June 19. 642-0808.  

“Smoke, Lilies, Jade” work by twelve local LGBT artists at Women’s Cancer Resource Center, 5741 Telegraph Ave. Reception at 6 p.m. Exhibition runs to June 30. 601-4040, ext. 111.  


Youth Speaks: The Oakland School Slam at 7:30 p.m. at Malonga Casquelord Center for the Arts, 1428 Alice St., Oakland. Cost is $3-$5. To participate, call 415-255-9035, ext. 18. Oaklandslam@youthspeaks.org 

Chuck Palahniuk reads from his new book “Haunted” at 7:30 p.m. at First Congregational Church, 2345 Channing Way. Tickets are $10, free wih purchase of the book. Sponsored by Cody’s Books. 845-7852. www.codysbooks.com 

David Antin reads from his new work of free-form pieces “I Never Knew What Time It Was” at 7:30 p.m. at Cody’s Books. 845-7852. www.codysbooks.com 

Kim Addonizio An evening of poetry from her workshops at 7 p.m. at Temescal Cafe, 4920 Telegraph Ave., Oakland. 595-4102. 

Debra Grace Khattab, poet at the Fellowship Café & Open Mic at 7:30 p.m. at Fellowship Hall, Cedar & Bonita Sts. Donation $5-$10.  


Berkeley Ballet Theater, “Barre to Bravura” at 7 p.m. at Julia Morgan Center for the Arts. Tickets are $14-$18 at the door. www.berkeleyballetorg 

Nguyen Dance Company “Struggle to Survive: 30 Years Cry for My Country,” on the 30 year anniversary of the fall of Saigon Fri. and Sat at 8 p.m. at the Laney College Theater, 900 Fallon St., Oakland. Tickets are $15. 415-336-3154. www.dannydancers.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 


Oakland East Bay Symphony with the Oakland Symphony Chorus at 8 p.m. at Paramount Theater, 2025 Broadway. 625-8497. www.oebs.org 

Hideo Date at 8 p.m., Doug Arrington at 9 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. 841-JAZZ.  

Hip Hop Exchange Sin Fronteras at 9 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $10. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

Los Bros, Latin fusion at 9:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $9-$11. 525-5054.  

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

Moonrise with Lady Michal & Neal Hellman, acoustic pagan folk, at 8:30 p.m. at Epic Arts, 1923 Ashby Ave. Cost is $5-$10.  

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

Dialectic, Maxwell Adams, The Sevenmillionaires at 9 p.m. at Blakes on Telegraph. Cost is $8-$10. 848-0886.  

Patty Larkin at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $20.50-$21.50. 548-1761.  

Morning Line, The Cowlicks, Joe Rathbone at 9:30 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $6. 841-2082.  

Ben Adams Trio at 9 p.m. at Downtown. 649-3810. 

Doug Blumer at 7:30 p.m. at Nomad Cafe, 6500 Shattuck Ave. 595-5344.  

Dick Hindman Trio at 8 p.m. at the Jazzschool. Cost is $12-$18. 845-5373.  

Brown Baggin’ at 9 p.m. at Shattuck Down Low, 2284 Shattuck Ave. Cost is $5. 548-1159.  

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

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

Meneguar, Gospel, Self-Employed Saviour 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. 

Bill Evans Soulgrass at 8 and 10 p.m. through Sun. at Yoshi’s at Jack London Square, through Sun. Cost is $15-$26. 238-9200.  



“Requiem for a Friend” an intermedia performance ritual, directed by Antero Alli, Sat. and Sun. at 9 p.m. at Finnish Brotherhood Hall, 1970 Chestnut St. Cost is $10. 


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

Naomi Wolf reads from “The Treehouse: Eccentric Wisdom from My Father on How to Live, Love, and See” at 7:30 p.m. at Cody’s Books. 845-7852.  


Berkeley Ballet Theater, “Barre to Bravura” at 2 and 7 p.m. at Julia Morgan Center for the Arts. Tickets are $14-$18 at the door. www.berkeleyballetorg 

Trinity Chamber Concerts “Voci e Violini” at 8 p.m. at Trinity Chapel, 2320 Dana St. Tickets are $8-$12. 549-3864. trinitychamberconcerts.com 

“Jazz with a French Twist” A benefit concert for St. Ambrose Church with Duo Gadjo and Anouman at 8 p.m. at 1145 Gilman St. Tickets are $10. 525-2620. 

Contra Costa Chorale with the New Millennium Strings Orchestra at 2 p.m. at Northminster Presbyterian Church, 545 Ashbury, El Cerrito. Tickets are $12-$15. Children under 16 free. 524-1861.  

American Bach Soloists “Sonic Tapestries” at 8 p.m. at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church. Tickets are $20-$30. 415-621-7900. www.ameriacanbach.org 

Robin Gregory Trio at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. 841-JAZZ.  

West African Highlife Band at 9:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. African dance lesson with Comfort Mensah at 9 p.m. Cost is $11-$13. 525-5054.  

Darcy Menard at 7:30 p.m. at Nomad Cafe, 6500 Shattuck Ave. 595-5344. 

Jinx Jones Trio at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 848-8277. 

Mitch Marcus Quintet at 9 p.m.. at Cafe Van Kleef, 1621 Telegraph Ave., Oakland. Cost is $5. 763-7711.  

Barefoot Nellies, bluegrass, at 8:30 p.m. at Epic Arts, 1923 Ashby Ave. Cost is $5-$10.  

Carl Nagin, flamenco, at 7 p.m. at Spuds, 3290 Adeline Ave. Cost is $7. 597-0795. 

Nerissa Nields at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $18.50-$19.50. 548-1761.  

Poor Bailey, Bordelo, Company Car at 9 p.m. at Blakes on Telegraph. Cost is $8-$10. 848-0886.  

Sheldon Brown Group at 8 p.m. at the Jazzschool. Cost is $12-$18. 845-5373. 

Destiny Arts Youth Performance Company at 8:30 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Conversation with the artists at 7:30 p.m. Cost is $10-$12. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

Mercury Dimes, Wrangletown at 9:30 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $7. 841-2082.  

Loco Bloco Drum and Dance Ensemble at 9 p.m. at Shattuck Down Low, 2284 Shattuck Ave. Cost is $10. 548-1159. www.shattuckdownlow.com 

Judy Wexler Quintet at 9 p.m. at Downtown. 649-3810. 

Local Band Night with Bandalism, The Annoyance, The Heist 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. 



Music for People and Tingamajigs Concert An outdoor labyrinth of interactive instuments for the whole family from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Oakland Museum of California, 10th and Oak Sts. Cost is $4-$8. 238-2200. www.museumca.org 

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


“From Isolation to Connection” works by artists with psychiatric disabilities opens at the Berkeley Art Center, through July 1. Reception from 2 to 4 p.m. 644-6893. 


“La Zapatera Prodigiosa” by Federico García Lorca, performed by students of College Prep at 7 p.m. at Buttner Auditorium, 6100 Broadway, at Brookside, Oakland. Free. 652-0111. 


“Irreconcilable” gallery talk on the MFA Graduate Exhibition at 3 p.m. at Berkeley Art Museum, 2625 Durant Ave. 642-0808. www.bampfa.berkeley.edu 

Poetry Flash with D. Nurkse, Jerry Ratch and Sherry Karver at 7:30 p.m. at Cody’s Books. Donation $2. 845-7852. www.codysbooks.com 

UC Extension Student Reading at 4 p.m. at Cody’s Books on Fourth St. 559-9500. 


Berkeley Ballet Theater, “Barre to Bravura” at 2 p.m. at Julia Morgan Center for the Arts. Tickets are $14-$18 at the door. www.berkeleyballetorg 

Voci Women’s Vocal Ensemble “Listen to the Elements: Music of Earth, Water, Air, and Fire,” at 7:30 p.m. at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, 2300 Bancroft Way. Tickets are $15-$20 at the door. Children under 12 free. 531-8714. www.coolcommunity.org/voci  

CDQ Brazil at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. 841-JAZZ. www.AnnasJazzIsland.com 

“From the Shtetl to La Scala” with soloist Heather Klein at 2 p.m. at the BRJCC, 1414 Walnut St. Cost is $5. 848-0237. www.brjcc.org 

Memories in Red, Savage Machine, This May Never End at 4 p.m. at Blakes on Telegraph. Cost is $8. All ages show. 848-0886. www.blakesontelegraph.com 

Americana Unplugged: Jimbo Trout & The Fish People at 4 p.m. at Jupiter. 655-5715. 

Peace Brigades International and Kid Beyond at 7:30 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $15-$25. 849-2568.  

Greta Matassa & Mimi Fox at 4:30 at the Jazzschool. Cost is $18. 845-5373.  

Songs of “Les Miserables” performed by the River City Theater Company at 2 p.m. at Caffe Trieste, 2500 San Pablo Ave., at Dwight. 548-5198.  

Loudon Wainwright III at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $22.50-$23.50. 548-1761.  

Flamenco Open Stage with Stephanie Neira and Grupo Sabores de Espana at 7:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $10. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com_

Fighting the Bay Area Invasion of Signal Crayfish By JOE EATON Special to the Planet

Tuesday May 17, 2005

A couple of weeks ago, over Tuscan roast pork and some good wine, I asked a fellow dinner guest who works on the UC campus if there were still three-spined sticklebacks in Strawberry Creek. He wasn’t sure about the sticklebacks, but he said the crayfish were still around. 

The crayfish were news to me. As it happens, this particular species—the signal crayfish, Pacifastacus leniusculus—is a protagonist in one of those ecological horror stories about invasive exotics running amuck. Native to the Pacific Northwest, it’s made itself at home not just in Strawberry Creek, but all over California, from the Delta to Lake Tahoe, and in Britain, Scandinavia, and Japan. And here in the Bay Area, it probably drove a close relative to extinction. It’s hell on small fish, too. 

Named for the white patch on near the hinge on each of its claws, this beast is about six inches long, bluish-brown to reddish-brown in color in an unboiled state. Signal crayfish originally ranged from British Columbia south to Oregon and east to Idaho, where they inhabited small streams and ate whatever they could get their pincers on: aquatic plants, algae, carrion, insects, snails, small fish. 

They mate in the fall, and the females schlep the fertilized eggs around with them for the next seven or eight months. The tiny crayfish, miniatures of their mother, hatch in the spring and stay with her until after their second molt, when they strike out on their own. 

What are they doing here? In 1912, someone had the bright idea of using signal crayfish to study crayfish predation on young trout. Batches of crayfish were shipped from the Columbia River to a state Fish and Game hatchery in Santa Cruz County. When the study was completed, the crayfish were released into the San Lorenzo River. 

From that beachhead, the exotics spread through most of Northern California. They were popular as fishbait, and anglers would dump the leftover contents of their bait buckets into lakes or streams.  

When they got to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, they must have thought they’d reached crayfish heaven. Signal crayfish, along with Louisiana red swamp crayfish (Procambarus clarkii), thrived and multiplied there. They became part of the Delta food chain, comprising 90 percent of the diet of river otters. And they supported a commercial fishery that as of the 1970s shipped almost all its catch to Sweden. 

Scandinavians, like Cajuns, take their crayfish seriously (in Sweden, boiled in salted water with dill.) Their native species, the noble crayfish (Astacus astacus), was nearly wiped out by a fungal disease called the crayfish plague that first struck in 1907. In the 1960s, the Swedes decided to eliminate the American middlemen and raise their own signal crayfish, which they considered acceptably close in taste to the noble crayfish. Signals are resistant to the plague, although they can be asymptomatic vectors. So 60,000 signal crayfish traveled from Tahoe to Sweden. 

Signal crayfish thrived in Swedish waters. They were also introduced to Britain in 1972 to stock farms for the restaurant trade. Some, inevitably, escaped, and now they’re preying on native British fish and outcompeting the native white-clawed crayfish (Austropotamobius pallipes). Exotic crayfish can devastate streams, eating their way through the aquatic vegetation, then going after fish, frogs, turtles, and snakes. Biologist Philip Fernandez, who fights crayfish infestations in Arizona, says “I used to like eating them, but now I think of them as aquatic cockroaches.” 

Other European countries, notably Ireland and Norway, were alarmed enough to ban the import of all non-native crayfish. But similar efforts elsewhere have been stymied by one of those wonderful institutions of economic globalization, the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs. Because it had a preexisting trade in crayfish, Germany was not allowed under GATT to block the import of exotic crayfish, regardless of any disease risk to its native species. (It’s a good thing the British abolitionists celebrated in Adam Hochschild’s new book Bury the Chains didn’t have GATT to contend with.) 

Meanwhile, back in California, the signal crayfish had also reached the Bay Area, which was already home to the sooty crayfish, P. nigrescens, found here and nowhere else in the world. I haven’t been able to identify the tipping point, but before too long there were no more sooty crayfish; it was the first North American crayfish species to meet global extinction. What happened can be inferred from the competition between signal crayfish and the Shasta crayfish (P. fortis), endangered but still hanging on in the Northern California mountains. Compared with Shasta crayfish, signals have a broader diet and tolerate a wider range of water conditions; they’re larger, more prolific, faster-growing, more aggressive. And they’re pushing their Shasta relatives to the wall. 

The sooty crayfish may be long gone, but signal crayfish are still impacting stream ecosystems in the Bay Area. A couple of years ago, biologist Frank Yoon implicated the exotic species in the decline of a small fish called the prickly sculpin in Strawberry Creek.  

He sank four isolation cages in the creek and stocked them with sculpins (caught elsewhere) and signal crayfish. Control cages contained only fish. After 10 days, only two sculpins remained in the experimental cages, while the control cages had 100 per cent survival rates. Yoon didn’t catch the crayfish in the act, but you could make a prima facie case for predation. He did see crayfish attacking sculpins in a laboratory setting. 

Can anything be done about these invaders? The British have reported some success with pheromone traps using slow-release gels. And while I don’t have a population estimate, I suspect even in Strawberry Creek you’d have the makings of a lot of etouffe. Hey, if P. leniusculus is good enough for those picky Swedes, I’m willing to approach it with an open mind.

Berkeley This Week

Tuesday May 17, 2005


Morning Bird Walk in Wildcat Canyon Meet at 7 a.m. at the end of Rifle Range Rd. for a stroll to see the birds of wood and creekside. 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. 

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

Berkeley Garden Club “Container Gardening Through the Year” with Patricia St. John, landscape designer, at 1 p.m. at Epworth Methodist Church, 1953 Hopkins St. 524-4374. 

Strawberry Tasting at the Berkeley Farmer’s Market, from 2 to 7 p.m., Derby St. at MLK Jr. Way. 548-3333. www.ecologycenter.org 

“A Bicycle Journey Around the World” Dave Stamboulis introduces his new new book on his seven year journey at 7 p.m. at REI, 1338 San Pablo Ave. 527-4140. 

Take Back Our Schools Day On the 51st Anniversary of Brown vs. Board, noon rally at Frank Ogawa Plaza, at City Hall, Oakland. 289-3318. 

Small Business Class “The Financial Plan” from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Berkeley Public Library, Community Room, 2090 Kittredge St. Free but registration required. 981-6148. 

“Healing Therapies for Pain and Energy” with Lori-Ann Gertonson, DC , from noon to 2 p.m. in the Maffly Auditorium, Alta Bates Herrick Campus. 644-3273. 

“The Happiness Makeover: How to Teach Yourself to Be Happy and Enjoy Every Day” with Mary Jane Ryan at 7 p.m. at the El Cerrito Library, 6510 Stockton Ave. 526-7512.  

Berkeley Salon Discussion Group meets to discuss “Bring Back the Good Old Days” from 7 to 9 p.m. at the BRJCC, 1414 Walnut St. 601-6690.     

Introductory Buddhist Meditation Class at 7 p.m. at Dzalandhara Buddhist Center, in Berkeley. Donation $7-$10. For directions call 559-8183. 

Local Ledgends: Charlene Spretnak of the Women’s Spirituality Movement at 7 p.m. at Belladonna, 2436 Sacramento St. 883-0600. 

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

Brainstormer Weekly Pub Quiz at 7:30 p.m. at Pyramid Alehouse, 901 Gilman St. 528-9880. 

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

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


Walking Tour of Old Oakland uptown to the Lake to discover Art Deco landmarks. Meet at 10 a.m. in front of the Paramount Theater at 2025 Broadway. Tour lasts 90 minutes. Reservations can be made by calling 238-3234. 

Founder of Critical Mass, Chris Carlsson, on the success of this monthly convergence of cyclists at 7:30 p.m. at the Hillside Club, 2286 Cedar St. 527-0450.  

“Can Cultural and Environmental Destruction be Reversed?” A Perspective from Little Tibet with Helena Norberg-Hodge at 7 p.m. at the Ecology Center, 2530 San Pablo Ave. 548-2220. 

“The Cradle Will Rock!” a video of the WPA Theater in the 1930s at 7 p.m. at Berkeley Gray Panthers, 1403 Addison St. Light supper will be served. 548-9696. 

Balinese Music and Dance Workshop at 7:30 p.m. Cost is $60 for all five classes, $15 per class. Registration required. Gamelan Sekar Jaya, 6485 Conlon Ave., El Cerrito. 237-6849.  

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 meet at 9:30 a.m. at the Sea Breeze Market, just west of the I-80 overpass. 548-9840. 

North East Berkeley Association meets at 7:30 p.m. at the Northbrae Community Church, 941 The Alameda, for a Q&A with Mayor Tom Bates and City Council Members Betty Olds and Laurie Capitelli and Officer John Nuddlefield of the Berkeley Police Department. NEBA will hold elections at this meeting. Dues are $35 family, $25 for individuals. Only members are eligible to vote. The meeting is free and open to the public.  

Berkeley Peace Walk and Vigil at 6:30 p.m. at the Berkeley BART Station, corner of Shattuck and Center. www.geocities. 



Bike to Work Day Register online to help the Bay Area Bicycle Coalition better calculate participation and to be included in a grand prize drawing. 486-0698. www.511.org 

“Seeing the Red Owl: A Naturalist’s Journey Into Madagascar” with Luke Cole at 7:30 p.m. at the Northbrae Community Church, 941 The Alameda. Sponsored by Golden Gate Audobon. 843-2222. www.goldengateaudobon.org 

“Berkeley Alternative High School: A Struggle for Social Justice” a documentary at 6 p.m. at Berkeley Alternative High School auditorium, 2701 MLK Jr. Way, followed by panel discussion. 610-3998. 

Mozart for Mutts & Meows with George Cleve at 6:30 p.m. at the Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant Ave. A benefit for Berkeley East Bay Humane Society. Tickets are $75. For information and reservations call 845-7735, ext. 19. www.berkeleyhumane.org 

Washington Elementary After School Open House at 7 p.m. After school activities include circus art, music and dance, earth awareness and reading. Sliding scale fees. 644-6939. 

LeConte Neighborhood Association meets with Mayor Bates at 7:30 p.m. at the LeConte School cafeteria. 843-2602. 

“From Baghdad to Baseball” Challenges and Rewards of Investigative Reporting with Steve Fainaru of the Washington Post and Mark Fainaru-Wada of the SF Chronicle at 6 p.m. at Youth Radio Cafe, 1801 University Ave. www.youthradio.org 

“Spiders: The Wanderings of Weavers” with Rosemary Gillespie, Prof. of Insect Biology, UCB, at 12:30 p.m. at the Oakland Museum, 10th and Oak Sts. Cost is $4-$8. 238-2200. www.museumca.org 

“What Stinks?” A Zooarchae- 

ological Puzzle at Oakland’s Peralta Adobe in the 1840s at 6:30 p.m. at the Peralta House, 2465 34th Ave., Oakland. Tickets are $25, free to members. 532-9142. 

Celebrate Elephants Silent Auction and Reception at 6 p.m. at the Oakland Zoo. Donations $25, benefits the Amboseli Elephant Research Camp. 632-9525. www.oaklandzoo.org 

“Take Back Your Time” a Simplicity Forum from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the Berkeley Public Library, Claremont Branch, 2940 Benvenue Ave. 549-3509. www.simpleliving.net 


City Commons Club Noon Luncheon with John Karam, on “Islam in Latin America” Luncheon at 11:45 a.m. for $13, speech at 12:30 p.m., at the Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant St. 526-2925. 

“Robert F. Williams: Self-Defense, Self-Respect, and Self-Determination” a new audio documentary at 7 p.m. at First Unitarian Chuirch, 685 14th St. Donation $5-$25. 208-1700.www.akpress.org 

Kirtan, improvisational devotional chanting at 7:30 p.m. at 850 Talbot, at Solano, Albany. Donation $10. 526-9642. 

Berkeley Chess Club meets Fridays at 8 p.m. at the East Bay Chess Club, 1940 Virginia St. Players at all levels are welcome. 845-1041. 

“Three Beats for Nothing” a small group meeting weekly at 10 a.m. at the North Berkeley Senior Center to sing for fun and practice, mostly 16th century harmony. No charge. 655-8863, 843-7610.  

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. Sponsored by the Buddhist Peace Fellowship. 655-6169.  


Native Plant Walk in Strawberry Canyon Meet at 10 a.m. in the parking lot on the right on Centennial Road above the UC Stadium. Cost is $10-$15. 548-2220, ext. 233. 

Pepperweed Pull Join Save the Bay, Friends of Strawberry Creek, and Friends of Five Creeks removing invasive perennial pepperweed, a threat to shorebird habitat, from Eastshore State Park at the mouth of Strawberry Creek, from 10 a.m. to noon. Meet at the cove west of Sea Breeze Deli, University Ave. just west of the I-880/580 Freeway. 848- 9358. www.fivecreeks.org 

Bay Friendly Gardening Design at 10 a.m. at UC Botanical Garden, 200 Centennial Dr.. Bring your site plans. Free, but registration required at www.stopwaste.org 

Snaking Through the Hills Join us for a hike up the watershed to see where reptiles like to sun. Meet at 2 p.m. at Tilden Nature Area. 525-2233. 

Strawberry Tasting at the Berkeley Farmer’s Market, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Center St. at MLK Jr. Way. Cooking demonstrations at 11 a.m. 548-3333.  

Barbara Lee Town Hall Meeting for Veterans to help access benefits and services from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Albany Community Center, 1249 Marin Ave., Albany.  

United Nations Association UNICEF Center Open House from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 1403-B Addison St., with music, food, and door prizes. 849-1752. 

Longfellow Health Fair Health and nuitrition information, free health screenings, cooking demonstrations, food and student performances from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Longfellow Family Resource Center, Ward St. between Sacramento and California Sts. 644-6360. 

Rosa Parks Kids Carnival with entertainment, food, cake walk and silent auction from noon to 4 p.m. at the Rosa Parks School, 920 Allston Way.  

Himalayan Fair in Live Oak Park from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Himalayan arts, crafts, music and food. Cost is $8-$20. 869-3995. www.himalayanfair.net 

Journey to Tibet slide-show with Dorjee Tsewang at 5:30 and 7:30 p.m. at the Berkeley Art Center, 1275 Walnut St. in Live Oak Park 644-6893. 

Berkeley Historical Society Walking Tour of the Ashby Station neighborhood, from frog pond to flea market, led by Dale Smith, from 10 a.m. to noon. Cost is $8-$10. 848-0181. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/histsoc/ 

Growing Smart in Berkeley A tour of downtown Berkeley with Greenbelt Alliance. Reservations required. 415-255-3233.  

Walking Tour of Oakland City Center Meet at 10 a.m. in front Oakland City Hall at Frank Ogawa Plaza. Tour lasts 90 minutes. Reservations can be made by calling 238-3234. 

Rockridge Festival from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Claremont Middle School, 5750 College Ave., with performances, rummage sale, silent auction, arts marketplace and food. Benefits the Middle School Arts Program. To donate items call 420-7022. 

“Is the AFL-CIO Breaking Up?” join the Democratic Socialists of the East Bay for a discussion from 10 a.m. to noon at the Niebyl-Proctor Library, 6501 Telegraph Ave., near Alcatraz. 415-789-8497. www.dsausa.org 

Family Violence Law Center Fundraiser at 6 p.m. at the Lake Merritt Hotel in Oakland. 208-0220. www.fvlc.org 

Community Party and Open House with children’s activities at Vara Healing Arts, at 850 Talbot, at Solano, Albany. Cost is $4-$7. 526-9642. 

Bay Area Story Telling Festival Sat. and Sun. from 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Kennedy Grove Regional Recreation Area. Tickets are $7-$11 for individual events, $31-$55 for the weekend. 869-4969. www.bayareastroytelling.org 

Loose Leash Dog Walking, a training session on city manners from 11 a.m. to noon at RabbitEars, 303 Arlington Ave., Kensington. Cost is $35. Reservations required. 525-6155. 

Walking for Prader-Willi Syndrome A fundraiser at 10:30 a.m. at Cesar Chavez Park, Berkeley Marina. Cost is $20 individual, $50 family. 800-400-9994. 

California Writers Club “Harnessing Your Dragons” to improve productivity and creativity with Jane Porter at 10 a.m. at Barnes and Noble, Jack London Square. 482-0265. www.berkeleywritersclub.org 

Girlstock with music, art and stories from 2 to 10 p.m. at at 7 p.m. at Belladonna, 2436 Sacramento St. 883-0600. 

Free Emergency Preparedness Class in Disaster First Aid from 9 a.m. to noon at 997 Cedar St., between 8th and 9th. To sign up call 981-5605. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/fire/oes 

Historical and Botanical Tour of Chapel of the Chimes, a Julia Morgan landmark, at 10 a.m. at 4499 Piedmont Ave. at Pleasant Valley. Reservations required 228-3207.  

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


Himalayan Fair in Live Oak Park from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Himalayan arts, crafts, music and food. Cost is $8-$20. 869-3995. www.himalayanfair.net 

Albany Festival of the Arts from noon to 8 p.m. at Memorial Park, 1331 Portland Ave., with music, theater, dance and poetry. Free.  

First Annual Taste of El Cerrito with food, wine, coofee and tea tasting at 5 p.m. at the El Cerrito Community Center, Moeser Lane at Asbury Ave. Cost is $10-$20. 

Dynamite History Walk in Point Pinole at 10 a.m. to discover the park preserved by dynamite. 525-2233. 

World Social Forum Report Back by representatives of the National Lawyers’ Guild, WILPF, ReclaimDemocracy, and others at 7 p.m. at Berkeley Fellowship, 1924 Cedar St. Donation $5-$15.  

Music for People and Tingamajigs Concert An outdoor labyrinth of interactive instuments for the whole family from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Oakland Museum of California, 10th and Oak Sts. Cost is $4-$8. 238-2200. www.museumca.org 

Hands-On Bicycle Clinic from 10 to 11:30 a.m. at REI, 1338 San Pablo Ave. Free. 527-4140. 

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

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

“Insights Received While Producing a Multimedia Experience: Reflections on the Tao” with Mike Bukay, nature photographer, at 9:30 a.m. at Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley, 1 Lawson Rd., Kensington. 525-0302. 

Tibetan Buddhism with Pema Gellek and Lama Palzang on “The Buddha’s Enlightenment” at 6 p.m. at the Tibetan Nyingma Institute, 1815 Highland Pl. 843-6812. www.nyingmainstitute.com 


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

An Evening with Jon Carroll, SF Chronicle columnsit at 7 p.m. at Julia Morgan Center for the Arts, 2640 College Ave. Cost is $18, benefits Heart’s Leap School. 925-798-1300.  

Berkeley High School Site Council meets at 4:30 p.m. in the school library. bhssitecouncil@berkeley.k12.ca.us  

Adaptive Reuse in Los Angeles: A Model for Recycling Oakland’s Heritage? with Hamid Behdad, Director of the Adaptive Reuse Program, City of Los Angeles, at 6 p.m. in the Oakland City Council Chambers, City Hall, 1 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza. Free and open to the public. 763-9218. www.oaklandheritage.org 

“Got Stress?” A seminar on how to reduce it at 6:30 p.m. at Piedmont Ave. Branch Library, 160 41st St., Oakland. 597-5011. 

World Affairs/Politics Discussion Group for people 60 years and over meets Mondays at 10:15 a.m. at the Albany Senior Center, 846 Masonic Ave. Join at any time. Cost is $2.50 with refreshments. 524-9122. 

Philip Roth Book Club facilitated by Laura Bernell at 7:30 p.m. at the BRJCC, 1414 Walnut St. Cost is $10. 848-0237. www.brjcc.org 

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

Adoption in Interfaith Jewish Families at 7:30 p.m. at Berkeley Richmond Jewish Community Center, 1414 Walnut St. Cost is $10-$15. 839-2900, ext. 347. 


City Council meets Tues., May 17, at 7 p.m in City Council Chambers. 981-6900. www.ci. 


Citizens Humane Commission meets Wed., May 18, at 7 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center. Katherine O’Connor, 981-6601. www.ci.berkeley.ca. us/commissions/humane 

Commission on Aging meets Wed., May 18, at 1:30 p.m., at the South Berkeley Senior Center. William Rogers, 981-5344. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/commissions/aging 

Commission on Labor meets Wed., May 18, at 6:45 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center. Delfina M. Geiken, 981-7550. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/commissions/labor 

Commission on Labor meets Wed., May 18, at 6:45 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center. Delfina M. Geiken, 981-7550. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/commissions/labor 

Fair Campaign Practices Commission meets Thurs., May 19, at 7:30 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center. Prasanna Rasaih, 981-6950. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/ 


Transportation Commission meets Thurs., May 19, at 7 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center. Peter Hillier, 981-7000. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/commissions/transportation3

Redevelopment Proposed for North Oakland By RICHARD BRENNEMAN

Friday May 13, 2005

Forget the F-word. For most of those standing-room-only crowd in the North Oakland Senior Center Monday, the real verbal bombshell was the R-word. 

R. . .as in Redevelopment. 

The term was invoked by two Oakland officials and a consultant as the formula to bring an economic boon to the 800 acres of North Oakland immediately south of Berkeley. 

As planned, the target area would be incorporated into the existing 600-acre Broadway/MacArthur/San Pablo Redevelopment Project—a district that includes two geographically isolated parcels that now would be spanned by the addition of the area in question. 

Singing the proposal’s praises were two officials from the Redevelopment Division of the Oakland Community & Economic Development Agency (CEDA)—Kathy Kleinbaum, project manager for the existing district and Patrick Lane, redevelopment manager for West Oakland—and Jim Burns, a consultant hired by the agency. 

But by the time the meeting ended, Zach Wald, a representative of Oakland Vice Mayor Jane Brunner whose City Council district encompasses the project area, had told the largely hostile audience that if they didn’t want it, Brunner would act accordingly. 

One of the central issues troubling many at Monday night’s meeting was the lack of any specific notions about just what redevelopment would entail. Parks, streetscape improvements and gussied-up businesses were mentioned, along with the mandatory low-income housing, but it was too vague for several speakers. 

Instead, they were presented with a proposal to create a redevelopment district, with the “whats” to follow later. 

The proposed district itself is moving along on a fast track. With the Oakland City Council’s blessings, CEDA issued requests for proposals on the project on March 27, due by April 27, followed by interviews with interested consulting firms beginning five days later. 


Visions of Big Bucks 

Burns, the city’s consultant, estimated that without the project, the area would generate $233 million in property taxes over 30 years, compared to an estimated $429 million with the improvements created by the redevelopment project. Of that total, $272 million would go to fund redevelopment projects. 

Redevelopment projects chosen for the district will be bankrolled by “tax increment funding,” which is established by freezing basic tax allocations at the amounts when the 30-year project commences, with the additional tax revenues raised as assessments rise directed to redevelopment projects within the area. 

The one exception is that a quarter of the increased dollars earmarked for subsidized low-income housing must go to projects in other areas of the city. Because schools will lose out on their share of increased taxes, the state government is obligated to make up the difference, a sum project officials estimate will reach $120 million over the term of the project. 


Skeptics and Blight 

Preliminary explanations of the plan were unveiled Monday to an audience which demonstrated a good deal of skepticism and seemed eager to examine the dentistry of the gift horse on offer. 

Given redevelopment’s highly checkered history, filled with racism, graft, political corruption and unintended consequences, skeptics peppered the redevelopment professionals with questions from the outset, and periodically derailed the inevitable Power Point presentation. 

To be eligible for redevelopment status, the Oakland City Council—sitting as the redevelopment agency—must find the project area to be afflicted with physical and economic blight, a notion that roused considerable suspicion Monday night. 

Because blight is broadly defined—physical blight can consist of lead paint buried beneath layers of latex—home and business owners said they were worried how the term might be used adversely against their own property. 

“Who is it that’s pushing this project?” demanded one audience member. “And where have blighted areas been identified?” 

Lane, West Oakland’s redevelopment manager, said the existing Project Area Committee (PAC)—the citizen panel which helps shape plans during a project’s first three years—had been asking for improvements outside their area. Though the panel had passed the three-year mark, the City Council had extended its term for the purposes of the new project, he said. 

“I came with a lot of optimism, but now I have real concerns,” said Kira Stoll, who owns property on Market Street within the proposed expanded project area. “If redevelopment brings improvements in lighting and similar improvements, I could support it. But I am concerned that if it’s pushed through, redevelopment could be used to target any property.” 

“One of the blight criteria for business is lack of parking,” said another man. “But a lot of the businesses I consider to be blighted are those with the most parking.” He went on to compare redevelopment with Godzilla, the city-destroying, nuclear-generated monster lizard that devastated Tokyo in countless Japanese sci-fi flicks. 


Current and Proposed Boundaries 

As the Broadway/MacArthur/San Pablo Redevelopment Project now stands, the southeastern parcel of the current district is roughly bounded by 28th and 41st streets between Broadway on the east and the I-580 Connector on the west. 

The northwestern parcel runs from 53rd Street to the Berkeley border at 67th Street between the eastern side of Vallejo Street and the properties immediately to the properties flanking the east side of San Pablo Avenue. 

The proposed addition would border the southern parcel at 40th Street and extend northeast from the eastern side of Telegraph Avenue to the Berkeley border at Woolsey Street, mostly along the Berkeley border to connect with 67th Street. 

Lane said some parts of the larger project area wouldn’t be included in the final boundaries because they don’t qualify as blighted. 

“We just outlined the larger area for the blight study,” he said. “It’s a preliminary study area, and the final project area will come later.” 


Changing Demographics 

Many at Monday’s forum questioned the application of the “blight” label for a district that seems to be caught in the throes of “gentrification,” with home prices soaring as the once-dominant African-American population dwindles. 

Between 1990 and 2000, census tract data show the black population dropping from 68 percent to 53 percent, with the white share rising only one percent to 27 percent. The biggest gains were made by Hispanics, who rose from 2 percent to 11 percent, those of mixed racial heritage (from less than 0.5 percent to 7 percent), Asian/Pacific Islanders (from 4 percent to 9 percent) and Other (from 1 percent to 4 percent). Native Americans remained constant at 1 percent. 

As evidence of the lack of economic blight, critics of the project handed out a sheet showing sales prices for homes in the district over the last year, with prices ranging from $399,999 to $735,000. 

“The idea that the area is blighted is incomprehensible,” said Valerie Winemiller. “What’s holding back development in Oakland is the schools and crime.” 

“Redevelopment is a scam,” said Fruitvale resident Jane Powell. “It’s an invisible government that has no oversight.” 

She said Oakland would be better off invoking the Mills Act, state legislation that gives tax breaks for restoring historic homes. She also faulted the city for hiring a consultant with money she said could be better used for planting street trees and installing benches. 

Redevelopment “appears to us to be a juggernaut,” said project-area resident Jackie Wilson. “The agenda has been set, the timetable has been set, but the plan remains a pig in a poke. The timetable you have set is too frighteningly fast.” 

Project Timetable 

According to the current project timetable unveiled Monday, the city would adopt the project survey in June and approve a preliminary plan a month later at the same time preliminary steps would be taken for creating an expanded PAC, adding nine seats to the 20 for the existing smaller project. 

Elections for the PAC would be held in August, with the full panel seated in October.  

A preliminary report on area blight would be issued next January, with a draft project environmental impact report to follow a month later. 

The redevelopment plan would go the Oakland Planning Commission in March, followed by the PAC’s recommendation to adopt the plan a month later. The final report on the plan along with the environmental impact report would go to the City Council in June, with a public hearing on adoption in July. 

While the new district would span the gap between the existing halves of the present district and more than double the acreage from 600 to 1,400, the expanded PAC charged with oversight of the resultant district would be dominated by members from the older committee, a point that bothered many of the speakers. 

Members are drawn from project-area homeowners, renters, business owners and community organizations. 



The meeting wasn’t all gloom and doom. When one Market Street resident demanded, “Are we really going to have a say, or are we going to be overruled by political cronies?” Walter Miles rose to answer. 

A member of the PAC for the existing district and president of the Citizens Committee for MacArthur Transit Village (a mixed-use housing and commercial project now being built by the district), Miles smiled and declared, “I am not anyone’s crony except my wife’s. I am my own person.” 

Longtime North Oakland resident Bob Williams told his fellow audience members that while they might not enjoy the full benefits of what the district could help create, their children would. “It seem to me that it would be better if they changed the name (redevelopment) to ‘conservation project.’” 

Noting that the redevelopment agency consist of the elected City Council, he declared, “You can force them to get something for yourselves.” 


Eminent Domain 

What struck many in the audience as particularly ominous was the threat of eminent domain as a weapon deployed against designated blighted properties. The power to force the sale of “blighted” private property, albeit at market rates, worried both home and business owners, but officials said their initial intent is only to apply the process to blighted business property, not residences. 

“Eminent domain was misused 30 and 40 years ago,” Burns acknowledged. 

“Our intent is that eminent domain will be used along the commercial corridors,” said Kleinbaum. “We have no interest in taking people’s homes in this area.” 

“Our office wouldn’t consider this project if it included residential eminent domain,” said Brunner aide Zach Wald"

Activists Win New Oversight At Campus Bay, UC Field Station By RICHARD BRENNEMAN

Friday May 13, 2005

In a stunning victory for community activists, the California Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Thursday agreed to hand jurisdiction over two adjoining contaminated Richmond sites to the state Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC). 

Effective Thursday, jurisdiction of hazardous waste cleanup at both UC Berkeley’s Richmond Field Station—now renamed the Bayside Research Campus—and the adjacent privately held Campus Bay site rests with the DTSC. 

Bay Area Residents for Responsible Development (BARRD), the Richmond Progressive Alliance and the West County Toxics Coalition have been pushing for DTSC control of the sites. 

They won over both the Richmond City Council in March and the Contra Costa Board of Supervisors earlier this week, with both agencies asking the EPA to give full jurisdiction over both sites to the DTSC. 

“It’s a good move in the right direction,” said Sherry Padgett, a BARRD activist who has been the most prominent of the activists calling for the handover. 

“We’re cautiously optimistic. We don’t believe it’s the answer to all our problems, but it does give us the ability to hold one agency accountable for what happens next.” 

Both sites were under the jurisdiction of the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board until last Nov. 6, when a legislative hearing called by East Bay Assemblymember Loni Hancock resulted in a water board handover of the dry land portion of Campus Bay to the DTSC. 

But that wasn’t enough for Padgett and her fellow activists, who demanded that all of both sites fall under DTSC because the water board has no toxicologists on its staff and has no provisions for public input before and during the cleanup process. 

“The challenges presented by these sites, as well as their close proximity to one another and nearby residences, warrant a single regulatory agency,” said EPA Secretary Alan C. Lloyd. 

“I also believe that oversight by a single agency will provide the public with a single point of contact to foster better communication and understanding of environmental conditions and site activities and ensure that the various site activities are fully coordinated,” he said. 

Cherokee-Simeon Ventures, a special-purpose corporation formed to develop on remediated hazardous waste sites, is planning developments on both sites. 

A plan for a 1,330-unit housing complex at Campus Bay, the site of a century of chemical manufacturing, remains in limbo. The firm has also been selected by UC Berkeley to develop plans for turning the former field station into a corporate/academic research facility with two million square feet of new buildings. 

Bomb Scare Evacuates Downtown Building By JAKOB SCHILLER

Friday May 13, 2005

Employees in the building at 1947 Center St. which houses the City of Berkeley’s Office of Transportation were temporarily evacuated Thursday afternoon after a man walked into the building around 3 p.m. claiming to have a bomb in his backpack. 

According Robert White, a private security guard, the man went to the career center in the basement where he told the receptionist about the bomb. The receptionist called White who called Berkeley police. 

White said he suspected something was awry because the man was acting uptight and nervous. 

“I could tell something was wrong,” said White. “He was doing a lot of talking but he wasn’t talking with anyone but himself.” 

Berkeley police quickly arrived and detained the man, who was sitting at a career center computer. He was led outside and held while police cleared the building and sent in the bomb squad, according to Lt. Arnold Lui of the Berkeley Police Department. According to Officer John Jones of the city’s bomb squad, the man’s large travel backpack was searched but contained only clothes and other personal items. 

After the suspect was led out and detained, Lui said, Berkeley police called officers of the city’s Division of Mental Health who determined that he was unstable. According to Lui, an ambulance arrived and took the man to the John George Psychiatric Pavilion in San Leandro. Police said they were unable to release the man’s name because he was not arrested.

Compromise Reached on Landmarks Ordinance By RICHARD BRENNEMAN

Friday May 13, 2005

In a surprise turn, Berkeley’s Planning Commission Wednesday appeared to agree that the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) should have the power to stop demolitions of city landmarks. 

After the Landmarks Preservation Commission spent four ye ars revising the city’s Landmarks Preservation Ordinance (LPO), planning commissioners have been weighing in with their own proposals—leading to sometimes heated confrontations between members of the two bodies. 

Planning commissioners formed their own su bcommittee to look at the landmarks panel’s proposal and held a pair of public hearings before considering specific proposals presented Wednesday night. Authors Helen Burke and Susan Wengraf, two members of the subcommittee, presented seven specific recom mendations. 

The first would mandate that proposed landmarks could be elevated to designated landmarks only if they meet “strict adherence” to the standards of integrity set by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior for inclusion on the National Register of H istoric Places.  

But further discussion among planning commissioners and city staff revealed that the federal standards are different from those of the state Office of Historic Preservation, and that both criteria involve a significant amount of subjecti vity. 

Burke and Wengraf proposed abolition of the structure of merit designation now included in the city ordinance for buildings that have been substantially altered but still retain elements that signify the structure’s architectural or historic signif icance. 

In the end commissioners couldn’t come up with a specific definition of integrity they’d like to see in the ordinance, and Planning Director Dan Marks said that his understanding of strict adherence “means it has to be applied on a case-by-case basis. But in every instance the LPC would have to address the issue of integrity.” 

Planning Commissioner Gene Poschman asked, “If the State of California doesn’t have to adhere to the secretary of the interior’s standards, why does the City of Berkeley?” 

“We refer to the state regulations, which are much simpler,” said Deputy City Attorney Zach Cowan, who added, “I do agree that I don’t know what ‘strict adherence’ means.” 

“The intent was just to have (the LPC) decide what integrity means,” said Wengra f. “It is to some extent subjective, and there’s no way to define it perfectly.” 

“‘Integrity’ means what Landmarks said it means,” said Planning Commissioner David Tabb. “It’s an arbitrary condition, just a political definition that depends on who’s ther e. I’m not happy, but I’ll go along.” 

More ambiguity surrounded another subcommittee proposal that would allow property owners to come in and present a request for determination that would mandate that city officials rule on whether or not their property qualified for landmark status. 

Critics charged that developers could flood the city with multiple requests, tying up staff and allowing projects through that would result in demolition of potentially significant landmarks.  

Allan Tobey of Livable Berke ley sided with landmarks commissioners who have held that the process is unworkable, and said that the proper way to reach a determination was through a landmarks application or something similar. 

Marks said city staff hadn’t been successful at identifying a process somewhere in between a simple request and a full application. 

“One of the options was that applicants should be required to consult certain sources like BAHA [the Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association], but there’s some question about how to prove that they did,” Marks said, adding that he didn’t think the staff would be likely to come up with a suitable alternative. 

The apparent decision to allow the LPC power over demolitions—a power now held by the Zoning Adjustments Board and soug ht by the LPC—surprised many LPC members and supporters in the audience. 

“The motion by Susan and Helen is to accept the LPC’s recommendation,” said Planning Commission Chair Harry Pollack. 

The Planning Commission will meet again in two weeks to see what Marks and Cowan have developed. The final decision rests in the hands of the City Council, which will consider the proposals of both commissions.

Council Looks to Curtail City Commissions By MATTHEW ARTZ

Friday May 13, 2005

A battle is brewing over a plan to scale back Berkeley’s 44 citizen commissions. 

In an effort to free up time for city staff to complete other projects, Mayor Tom Bates and Councilmember Linda Maio have proposed reducing the number of meetings for 28 commissions. 

“There have been so many cutbacks to staff. We have way more work for them to do than we have resources to do it,” Maio said. 

The proposal, up for debate at Tuesday’s City Council meeting, has already drawn fire from councilmembers on the left and from affected commissioners. 

“What’s needed is a surgeon’s scalpel, not a butcher’s knife,” said Councilmember Kriss Worthington. He argued that fewer commission meetings would exclude citizens from bringing forth policy initiatives and center more power in the hands of the city manager and politicians. 

“One thing that contributes to the problem is the sometimes adversarial nature [of dealings] between the staff and the commissions,” said Paul Kamen, chair of the Waterfront Commission. “A lot of the work the staff considers support is really an effort to influence the commissions. A much more efficient way to save time is to reduce support that commissions don’t need and in some cases don’t want.” 

For decades city managers have proposed reducing commissions and commission meetings, to which they must devote employees, with no success. On Tuesday, City Manager Phil Kamlarz will again place on the agenda a competing proposal to slash more commission meetings than called for under the Bates-Maio plan. 

City commissioners, appointed by councilmembers, are charged with debating policies relevant to their commissions and reviewing proposals at the council’s request. 

The Bates-Maio plan would scale back 12 commission schedules from 11 to eight meetings a year and reduce another 11 commissions to six meetings. It also calls for the Disaster Council and the Fire Safety Commission to be merged. Commissions that are required by city statute or have a quasi-judicial role, like the Planning Commission and the Landmarks Preservation Commission, would continue to keep their current schedules. Commissions could petition the council to hold additional meetings. 

Under the city manager’s proposal commissions would be cut further with many commissions having meetings reduced from every month to every other month or every three months. 

Budget cuts that have reduced the city staff by 10 percent over past few years have been the driving force behind the latest move to scale back commission meetings, Maio said. 

“[Commissions] have been a third rail of Berkeley politics, but the budget situation has made us look at it again,” Maio said. “This is not business as usual.” 

In arguing for commission cutbacks this year, city leaders have focused more on estimated savings in staff time than on money. High ranking city staff, who fill most of the commission secretary posts, do not get paid overtime and do not qualify for compensation time for running commission meetings. 

According to Kamlarz’s report, his proposal would save 5,310 staff hours a year—equal to roughly two city employees. Those estimates come from a survey of commission secretaries rather than a detailed analysis, Assistant City Manager Arrietta Chakos said.  

According to the report, the Zoning Adjustment Board, which meets twice a month, requires 20 hours of staff time a month, while the Parks and Recreation Commission, which meets once a month, requires 89 hours of staff time a month and the Waterfront Commission, which also meets once a month, requires 71 hours of staff time. 

“There is no way we require that much staff time for basic support functions,” Waterfront Commission Chair Kamen said. He said that the council should cap the number of hours staff is allowed to devote to commissions. 

Steve Freedkin, the chair of the Peace and Justice Commission, predicted that if the council cut down on its meetings, work that the commission handles would then be foisted on the council. He said his commission’s proposal to increase efficiency by taking its own meeting minutes found little support in City Hall. 

“We can’t really rely on the volunteers,” Bates said. “We’re afraid things will slip through the cracks.” 

There is no debate that Berkeley is a state leader when it comes to citizen commissions. Oakland, which has nearly four times more people, has 22 commissions, and Santa Cruz, which has about half the population, has 16. The closest parallel might be Madison, Wis., home to the University of Wisconsin. That city of a little over 100,000 residents also has 44 citizen commissions, including a Grocery Store Committee and a Community Gardening Committee, which meets once a month. 

Berkeley experienced a growth of commissions from 1978 through 1984, according to former Councilmember Don Jelinek, when progressive Mayor Gus Newport faced a moderate majority on the City Council. Progressives couldn’t do much without a council majority, so commissions became a way to advance their agenda, Jelinek recalled.  

“People were dying to get on these commissions,” he said.  

When the progressives regained the council majority in 1984, the interest in commissions waned, Jelinek said. 

“We went from meetings that were almost like civil wars over who would get what post, to not being able to fill the commissions at all,” he said.  

The Bates-Maio plan calls for the following commissions to hold eight meetings a year: Civic Arts, Community Environmental Advisory, Community Health, Disaster and Fire Safety, Energy, Fair Campaign Practices, Homeless, Human Welfare, Parks and Recreation, Peace and Justice, Transportation and Waterfront. 

The following commissions would be reduced to six meetings a year under the Bates-Maio plan: Aging, Disability, Early Childhood Development, Humane, Labor, Mental Health, Public Works, Commission on the Status of Women, Solid Waste, West Berkeley Project Area, and Youth. 

Popular Elmwood Soda Fountain To Close at End of Month By RICHARD BRENNEMAN

Friday May 13, 2005

After four years of trying, Mike Hogan is giving up on his effort to save Ozzie’s, the popular soda fountain at 2900 College Ave. in the Elmwood district. 

“I have done everything I could, and I have made a lot of good friends and I’ll miss everybody terribly,” he said Thursday morning. 

On June 1, the fountain will close. 

Economic pressures have forced the fountain’s closure before. It had been vacant for months when Hogan took over in 2001, intrigued by the notion of running a vanishing institution—the drug store fountain. 

It was also economic pressure that forced Victoria Carter, owner of the Elmwood Pharmacy which houses the fountain, to give up the prescription drug business and turn the pharmacy into a gift shop with over-the-counter medicines. 

Hogan said he had hoped that Carter would expand her hours to allow him to open before 9:30 a.m. so he could serve the breakfast crowd. He also hoped Carter would allow him to remain open on Friday evenings and weekends to catch the evening and weekend dinner crowds drawn by other Elmwood eateries. 

The last straw, he said, came when Carter presented him with a lease earlier this month that raised his rent by $100 a month and his utilities by about $200. Carter said she hopes she can find someone else to run the soda fountain, but she’s considering other options as well. 

She blamed Hogan for his failure to generate profits. 

“He’s just not much of a businessman,” she said. 

Carter said she wouldn’t consider changing the hours of the shop to accommodate the fountain. 

“That’s what they’ve been for 84 years,” she said. 

Hogan insists that the hours were the real killer. 

Business was bad during the winter he said, “but it’s really been picking up lately, and I’m confident we would continue if we had better hours.” 

Elmwood Health & Mercantile, as Carter’s business is now known, is open between 9:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. weekdays and 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends. Those hours, Hogan points out, miss both the early breakfast and dinner crowds. The business is closed on Sundays. 

“I hear people daily complaining that there’s no place in the Elmwood to get a good, cheap breakfast, and that’s what I was hoping to offer,” Hogan said. “On Friday and Saturday nights, I see people lined up for the restaurants, and we could get a part of that, especially when the Elmwood Theater reopens.” 

Although he is calling it quits, he says he leaves with no hard feelings against Carter. “Whatever happens, I wish the best for the business,” he said. 

Ozzie’s, named after Charles Osborne, who ran the fountain for four decades after taking over in 1950, has long been a favored gathering spot of Berkeley’s writers and activists. 

As Hogan walked down the street, talking to a reporter, passers-by offered friendly greetings and short conversations. 

“I’ll really miss it,” Hogan said. 

After he closes for the last time at the end of the month, he said he’ll move to Sacramento and do nothing but rest for the month of June before deciding what to do next.›

BUSD-Teachers’ Union Talks Suddenly Pick up Steam By J. DOUGLAS ALLEN-TAYLOR

Friday May 13, 2005

After several months of once-every-two-week mediation sessions, talks between the Berkeley Unified School District and the Berkeley Federation of Teachers took a dramatic turn this week, with a Monday session convening at 9 a.m. and running until 3 a.m., and then reconvening Wednesday afternoon. Two more sessions are scheduled next week, for Monday and Wednesday. 

Berkeley teachers have been working for two years past the end of the last contract, and talks are being handled through a state-appointed mediator. Compensation and class sizes are reportedly the two major issues dividing the two sides. 

BFT President Barry Fike said that “we are cautiously optimistic” about the talks. “We do feel like solid progress was made.” 

Fike declined further comment on details of the bargaining talks, saying only that he himself remained until 4 a.m. with unnamed district representatives on Tuesday morning to continue talking. 

At Wednesday night’s BUSD Board meeting, Board Vice President Terry Doran was equally vague about details of the talks, saying only that “we’ve had marathon negotiation sessions. No one has walked away. No one has said we’re not going to talk any more. So I’m optimistic that we’re getting closer.” 

BUSD Superintendent Michele Lawrence made no comment about the sessions. 

Before Wednesday’s board meeting, some 200 Berkeley teachers and their supporters rallied on the Old City Hall steps in support of their contract demands. The rally continued through the beginning of the board meeting, with the sounds of the singing of “Solidarity Forever, the union makes us strong” coming through the open second floor windows as board directors listened to a presentation from the principal of Longfellow School. 


Budget Transfers 

Directors approved $291,000 in transfers of budget expenditures from the district’s general fund to other funds for the 2004-05 and 2005-06 fiscal years. Lawrence said the transfers were needed “to free up general fund money in case we need it to meet some of the contract issues.” 

The superintendent said that her office would bring “another set of cuts that we have not yet completed” to board members for consideration at the next meeting. 

But at Lawrence’s request, directors took off the table consideration of Lawrence’s request to transfer another $295,000 in 2004-05 through 2005-06 general funds to the Measure BB account. That came after Safety and Maintenance Oversight Committee (Measure BB) Chair Phil Flounders spoke at the meeting, protesting the transfers. 

Lawrence told the directors, “I thought the Measure BB transfers had been recommended by the Measure BB Committee, but after [Flounders} spoke, I realized there may have been a miscommunication between myself, staff and the BB Committee. I want to spread these cost transfers equitably across all of the funds, but I understand the concern that if Measure BB takes too big a hit, it won’t be able to realize its maintenance goals.” 

The Measure BB Committee was scheduled to meet on Thursday night. Lawrence said that she would wait to meet with committee representatives about the possible transfer of the money, and then bring a report back to the board. 


Sale Of Surplus Property 

With Director Shirley Issel dissenting, the board approved a request by Superintendent Lawrence to add any possible proceeds of a possible sale of the abandoned Hillside school property to a bill currently introduced in the state legislature by Assemblymember Joe Coto (D-San Jose). 

Current state law requires that monies from the sale of school property go into the school district’s maintenance fund. Coto’s bill, which is aimed at two Santa Clara County schools districts, would allow those two districts a three year window to put proceeds from school sales into their unrestricted general funds. Adding Berkeley Unified School District to the bill would give BUSD the same three year opportunity. 

Last January, the BUSD board approved the formation of a surplus committee to dispose of the Hillside school property. 

“There is no presumption that we are going to sell the property,” said Lawrence. “Selling won’t necessarily be a recommendation of mine. But adding our name to this bill gives us the flexibility to dispose of the money if the surplus committee decides to sell.” 

Issel disagreed, calling the procedure “dangerous. I don’t want that flexibility. It’s like the devil dangling sex. Because we’ve been so poor as a district for so many years, I think there would be too much temptation for us to turn around and spend any money from the proceeds.” 

Fellow board members disagreed, passing the resolution 4-1. Assemblymember Loni Hancock (D-Berkeley) has already agreed to sponsor the amendment to the Coto bill.›

East Bay Media Market Grows with ‘Daily News’ By MATTHEW ARTZ

Friday May 13, 2005

The East Bay media market became a little bit more crowded Tuesday with the roll-out of the East Bay Daily News. 

Operated by Knight Ridder, the nation’s second largest newspaper chain, the free daily will be published Monday through Friday and seek to attract mom and pop advertisers not served by the chain’s other papers. 

“This is a healthy area economically with a lot of small independent businesses. We think there is room for another good paper,” said Dave Price, co-publisher of the Daily News Group, which Knight Ridder purchased in February. 

Price is no stranger to starting small daily papers. Along with his partner Jim Pavelich, he in 1995 founded the Palo Alto Daily News and later four sister papers in Redwood City, San Mateo, Burlingame and Los Gatos. All of the papers turn a profit, he said. 

Micro-dailies, as they are called in the newspaper world, focus on businesses that don’t have the money or presence to advertise in big daily papers. The concept has grown in popularity in recent years. Fr ee dailies have opened in New York, Boston, Washington, D.C. and many smaller towns and turned enough of a profit to make the big chains take notice. 

“Knight Ridder is definitely playing around here trying to stop competition on the low end,” said Ron Wo lf, co-founder of the wire service Ascribe. “There’s no doubt that the Palo Alto Daily News took a lot of money out of Knight Ridder’s pockets.” 

Peter Sussman, a Berkeley resident and former president of the Northern California chapter of the Society for Professional Journalists, said the paper gave Knight Ridder “a huge amount of potential monopolistic marketing muscle.” 

In addition to its flagship paper, the San Jose Mercury News, Knight Ridder, owns the Contra Costa Times, West County Times, and the Hills Newspapers, which includes the Berkeley Voice, Alameda Journal, El Cerrito Journal, the Montclarion and the Piedmonter. 

Price said the new paper was starting out with an office in Richmond and a circulation of about 5,000, but would soon move to Be rkeley and distribute 10,000 papers every weekday. He added that Knight Ridder had no immediate plans to roll out other micro-dailies in the area. 

Besides Berkeley, the paper aims to serve Rockridge, Emeryville, Piedmont, Kensington and Albany, mixing lo cal news with national and international stories supplied by the paper’s parent company. 

Price said the paper’s editorial page would reflect Berkeley’s political leanings and that its news pages would seek to appeal to a wide audience.  

East Bay Express Editor Stephen Buel welcomed the new competition. 

“I try to think that more voices are always good,” he said. “I am happy to have another source of news out there.” 

Price said he was not concerned that the most recent attempt to publish a free paper e very weekday in Berkeley, the original Berkeley Daily Planet, folded after three years in the red. “I don’t think they really understood our model in any respect,” Price said. 

Wolf questioned if the group’s first new offering under the Knight Ridder bann er had abandoned its successful formula of targeting a specific market. 

“I don’t know if a reader in Piedmont has any great need for an Albany business,” he said. “This [paper] has a corporate ‘spread the umbrella too widely’ feel when the concept that worked for them was to keep the umbrella small.” 

Although he noted the new paper could be a potential money maker for Knight Ridder, Sussman wasn’t impressed by its debut. 

“It’s an attempt to impose a formula without any advance understanding or attempt to communicate with the local community.” he said. “My overall impression is one not of respect for the community, but rather contempt for it.”›

Thousand Oaks School Receives Achievement Award By J. DOUGLAS ALLEN-TAYLOR

Friday May 13, 2005

Thousand Oaks Elementary School in Berkeley has been selected as one of 248 California schools to receive a 2004-05 Title I Academic Achievement Award. 

According to the California Department of Education, the awards program “recognizes schools that are demonstrating success in ensuring that all students are making significant progress toward proficiency on California’s academic content standards.” 

In order to qualify for the award, California schools must either meet or exceed their yearly Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) goals and well as double their Academic Performance Index (API) growth target for two consecutive years. 

Thousand Oaks jumped 38 points in its AYP score from 2003 to 2004 (732 to 770) contrasted to the 9 point rise in California schools overall in the same period. The school currently has an API rank of 7 statewide, out of a possible 10. 

Thousand Oaks and its 247 fellow honorees will receive their formal awards at California’s Title I Conference in Anaheim on May 25-27. 

Do-It-Yourself Electrical Repairs May Get a Lot More Expensive By RICHARD BRENNEMAN

Friday May 13, 2005

At least when it comes to electrical things, do-it-your-selfers may find their craft considerably more expensive. 

Starting Aug. 1, when the 2004 California Electrical Codes automatically take effect, residents will have to apply for a city building permits to replace or add wall, porch and ceiling lamps, light switches, electric receptacles, and other common do-it-yourself chores. 

So changing that noisy electrical switch with a quieter mercury switch will cost a lot more. Besides the costs of the new switch, there’ll be the $81 basic permit fee plus an additional surcharge of $2.15 for each receptacle, outlet or switch and—if you want to add more—$21.50 for altering or changing wiring. 

Under the current city code, such small changes can be made without permits and inspections; starting Aug. 1, not so. 

The exemptions are currently allowed under Chapter 19.30.080 of the city electrical code. City Building Officer Joan McQuarrie said there’s a question about whether or not the exemptions could be incorporated into the new code. 

“We’re looking into that,” said Deputy City Attorney Zach Cowan. “Generally cities are allowed to adopt more restrictive findings based on local conditions, but not less restrictive. But it never hurts to ask.” 

McQuarrie said that from her perspective, she wasn’t aware of any problems from the previously exempted home repairs, “but that doesn’t mean there couldn’t be in the future. I think it’s reasonable to exclude them, but we are bound by state law.” 

Activities which will no longer be permitted without a permit after Aug. 1 include: 

• Installing hard-wired sound, intercom and communication systems. 

• Connecting portable motors and appliances to permanent suitable receptacles that were previously installed. 

• Installing wiring for temporary theater, television and film sets. 

• Repair or replacement of fixed motors, transformers and appliances of the same type and in the same location. 

The Housing Advisory Commission (HAC) considered the revisions during their meeting May 5 and recommended that the city adopt the new code while retaining the current exemptions. 

Should it turn out that the exemptions can’t be retained, HAC recommended that the city inform residents of the new requirements. The final decision is up to the Berkeley City Council, which is slated to vote on the new code during their June 24 meeting.

Remembering John A. Vincent By STEPHEN VINCENT Special to the Planet

Friday May 13, 2005

John A. (“Jay”) Vincent, a well-known yachtsman, engineer, environmentalist, family man and Richmond civic leader passed away Wednesday, May 4. He was 93. 

As a leader, Vincent was recognized for mixing his engineer’s inclination for good research with balance and wry humor into public debates over the enhancement and protection of the environment. A modest man, in later years he would confess that at whatever he pursued, either racing a boat or in politics, “I liked to win.” 

The six-acre shoreline “Barbara and Jay Vincent Park” in the Richmond Marina—now within Rosie the Riveter World War II Home Front National Historical Park—was created in 1997 by the city to honor his and wife Barbara’s lifelong work and contribution to establishing public access and parks along the shoreline of San Francisco and San Pablo Bays.  

From the age of 12, Vincent was in love with the waterfront. Born in Tupelo, Oklahoma in 1912, his family, uprooted by the recession after World War I, moved first to Fresno in 1921, and then followed the Santa Fe Railroad to Richmond in 1923. The family initially made their home at Ferry Point where his father was the station engineer for the railroad ferry to and from San Francisco. 

The new life on the bay’s edge, where he could freely go crabbing, spear bass, and build and sail makeshift boats, provided many of the directions for the rest of his career. One of the initial members and several times Commodore of the Richmond Yacht Club, Vincent built by hand one of the first Bear Boats on the bay—Pola number 8. In 1939, he guided her and the crew to victory in the 1939 Treasure Island World’s Fair Regatta. The race officially qualified the Bear Boat as a class that would grow during the 1950s to be the largest class on the bay. Vincent, using the small “El Toro” sailboats, also initiated the Yacht Club’s Youth Sailing Program, whose teaching model became emulated at clubs around the world.  

Educated in Richmond schools, Vincent attended the University of California, Berkeley, graduating in 1934 with a B.S. degree in Mechanical and Electrical Engineering. He went to work for Standard Oil’s Research & Development in Richmond where his group developed RPM DELO Special Motor Oil, a cleansing lubricant that enabled U.S. Navy submarines to triple their cruising range during World War II. After the war he transferred to the Product Engineering Department at the company’s corporate headquarters where, for the rest of his professional career, he worked as a trouble-shooter, traveling the coast, then the country and world as an expert at problem solving client needs for lubrication oils.  

On retiring he joined his wife Barbara, a Richmond native and once chair of the city Planning Commission, in the struggle to regain public access to Wild Cat Canyon and the bay shoreline. Unlike Vincent’s childhood at Ferry Point, when practically anyone could fish, boat and swim almost anywhere, by the 1960s public access to Richmond’s 33-mile long shoreline had been reduced to a 60-foot-wide public boat ramp. The rest was owned or zoned by and for industrial use and inaccessible for recreational use by the public.  

Barbara was already a founding member and board director of Save the Bay Association. For the next 30 years, Jay and Barbara, joined by an ever-growing cast, including organizations and individuals, worked to compel Richmond, Contra Costa and Alameda Counties to create parks and trails along the entire East Bay shoreline. Some of these would grow to include East Bay Shoreline Park, Pt. Isabel, Rosie-the-Riveter, Barbara and Jay Vincent, Lucretia W. Edwards, Miller Knox and Ferry Point, Point Molate, East Brother Light House, and Point Pinole parks. 

One of Vincent’s great joys was to work to see the restoration of the fire ravaged Ferry Point, where he once lived, into both a beautiful vista point and public access fishing pier.  

Vincent’s use of his formidable engineering and research skills, combined with patience and humor for working with the political process became legendary. He delighted in working with organizations and city departments where he could further community goals. In celebrating the opening of the Vincent Park, the city manager laughed and stated that Vincent most often came to meetings having accomplished more useful research on a particular issue than any member of his staff. 

Much as with his boat racing career, Vincent enjoyed a good challenge and winning. Once, for example, he used his research of tides and timber materials to successfully preserve the Bay Trail’s flat wooden railroad bridges—across the marshes at Point Isabel north of Golden Gate Fields—against a Regional Park proposal to replace them with elaborate concrete structures. The fierce arguments between “birders, walkers and bikers” over the trail’s design and use fed his sense of humor about human nature.  

Over the years, Vincent served on City of Richmond’s Citizen’s Shoreline Advisory Committee, the board of directors of the YMCA of the East Bay, East Brother Light Station, Save the Richmond Plunge Trust, and Richmond Farmers Market Association. He was a charter member of Richmond Yacht Club, Save the Bay Association, and Trails for Richmond Action Committee. He was a member of Richmond Museum of History and Point Richmond History Association. 

The Regional Oral History Office at Bancroft Library has two recorded Vincent interviews, one about his memories of growing up on the waterfront, and the other about living in Richmond during World War II. San Francisco’s Maritime Museum recorded his history of the start of the Bear Boat Class on the Bay. 

John Vincent is survived by Barbara, his wife of 67 years, brother J.D. Vincent, his children, J. Michael Vincent of Suisun, Stephen A. Vincent of San Francisco, and David F. Vincent of Richmond. His son Christopher preceded him in death. Grandfather of Tracy Ylarregui , Cathleen Ellis, Lucas and Pearl McGee-Vincent, and Alec Gent-Vincent, and great-grandchildren, Ryan, Matthew, Katelin, Brian and Megan.  

A Memorial Service will be held at 2 p.m., Wed., May 18, the Richmond Yacht Club, 351 Brickyard Cove Road, Richmond. In lieu of flowers, donations in Jay Vincent’s honor may be sent to one or more of the following:  

• Save The Bay Association, 350 Frank Ogawa Plaza, Suite 900, Oakland 94612 

• Richmond Plunge Trust, PO Box 70443 Richmond, CA. 94807 

• Richmond Yacht Club Youth Foundation, P.O. Box 70295, Richmond, CA 94807 

• Bancroft Library, UC Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720 

John Patton, Lyric Tenor 1930-2005 By FRIENDS OF NEGRO SPIRITUALS

Friday May 13, 2005

Bay Area lyric tenor John Patton, Jr. passed away on April 18 in his Richmond home. The oldest of eight children, he was born on Feb. 18, 1930 in Garland City, Ark., on a sharecrop farm to sharecropping parents. At the age of 6, he knew he wanted to be a singer and pursued his dream and love of music when he moved to Richmond with his parents in 1944.  

Patton attended El Cerrito High School in El Cerrito and excelled at football, track, debate, choir activities, and academics. He was an honor society member.  

Patton had the distinctions of studying voice with the great tenor Roland Hayes, the renowned choral conductor, composer, and arranger Hall Johnson, and the famed New Orleans singer, arranger, and composer Edward Boatner. 

He made his Carnegie Hall debut in 1965 and performed spirituals, art songs, and classical works professionally for almost 60 years. A high point in his singing career was his giving a concert on the Vatican Radio in St. Peter’s Square in Rome for the Pope in 1970. Patton was a former member of the Hall Johnson Choir, the world famous Wings Over Jordan choir, the Jester Hairston Chorus, and the Albert McNeil Singers. 

Locally, he was once a member of William “Bill” Bell’s Oakland Bay Area Community Chorus. He was the first to publish an album of art songs arranged by African-American composers and arrangers. 

He was a voice coach, scholar, lecturer, and an authority on the negro spirituals heritage, which he revered. For a while, he was a construction worker on the 580 Freeway and a warehouseman. 

He was once the popular host of a radio show in Los Angles. He performed the role of Shug Avery’s father, “The Preacher,” in The Color Purple. 

Quick-witted, Patton genuinely enjoyed joking around, laughing, and talking about his vast storehouse of life experiences. 

John Patton, Jr. is survived by his son, three daughters, three granddaughters, two grandsons, two brothers, two sisters, a host of nieces and nephews, an ex-wife, and scores of friends in his community and across the nation.›

Kamlarz’s Budget Cuts Fewer Services, Opens One Pool By MATTHEW ARTZ

Friday May 13, 2005

City Manager Phil Kamlarz announced this week that Berkeley services won’t shut down one day a month this year as he had threatened they might have to, and one city swimming pool will be spared closure this winter. 

Kamlarz backed down on these two controversial budget-cutting proposals as he unveiled his proposed 2006 budget that seeks to close an $8.9 million structural deficit to the City Council Tuesday. 

If the council approves his plan, residents can expect reduced fire services, a scaled-down police force, fewer youth programs and school crossing guards and cutbacks to the animal shelter, art programs and disabled ride services. 

Berkeley’s senior centers remained untouched in the budget plan due mainly to a city proposal to start a case management program that would receive $300,000 in Medi-Cal reimbursements. 

Although the council does not have to approve a budget until late June, they have already begun tinkering with Kamlarz’s numbers. 

On Tuesday, councilmembers declared their support for funding,—with as much as $100,000—the Creeks Task Force efforts to revise the city’s creeks ordinance. Those funds are not accounted for in the budget for fiscal year 2006, which begins July 1. 

In other matters Tuesday, the council approved spending $52,000 to start a bond fund to pay for clean energy products, voted to help a homeless woman recover her impounded truck and dogs, and to allow long-term Berkeley tenants to convert their units to condominiums without paying a fee. 

Berkeley plunged into the red three years ago as stagnant revenues failed to keep pace with rising employee benefit costs. Under the city manager’s revised budget forecast, Berkeley faces structural deficits of $8.9 million for fiscal year 2006, which would decrease to $1.6 million in 2007, $1.3 million in 2008 and $0 in 2009 under his recommended cuts. In 2007, the state is scheduled to restore $1.8 million in city revenue, as required under Proposition 1A approved by voters last November. 

The key to balancing the budget in 2009, Kamlarz said, is controlling employee costs. He has proposed offering no raises to city employees for the first two years of future contracts. The budget also projects that the real estate boom, which has supplied the city with nearly $5 million in unanticipated tax revenue this past year, will continue and that the economy will improve. 

Kamlarz has reached a tentative agreement with officials from several city unions to forgo their contractual right to carry over vacation time beyond 320 hours and have the city buy back excess vacation days. The agreement is an alternative to shutting down non-essential city services one day a month, which would have saved $3 million next year. The vacation deal is anticipated to save $3 million over the course of three years. 

Also, under pressure from pool users, Kamlarz has backed off his proposal in March to close all three city pools this winter. The city will use $52,000 in unanticipated revenue and another $40,000 from administrative cost savings to keep open one pool, most likely the pool at King Middle School, Kamlarz said.  

With employee costs comprising 77 percent of city spending, Kamlarz has proposed cutting 57.24 full-time positions in fiscal year 2006, most of which are already vacant. No city employees would lose their jobs under the plan. 

To save $1.1 million on employee overtime costs, the Fire Department is proposing to rotate engine and truck company closures throughout the year and at times reduce the minimum staffing requirement from 34 firefighters to 28. 

With most of the budget news already released in March, and a public hearing scheduled for next week’s meeting, the council offered few comments on the budget proposal. During public comment, several elderly and disabled people protested planned cuts to the city’s paratransit program, and two members of Service Employees International Union Local 535, which represents city employees, expressed concerns about cuts to city positions. 

The major question before the council is whether they will dip into more than $7 million in available funds next year to save social programs. Kamlarz has proposed spending the bulk of it on capital projects like street repair, storm drain improvements, a new police dispatch system and improved customer service technology. 


Homeless Woman 

Elizabeth Gill, a long-time Berkeley homeless woman, left Tuesday’s meeting feeling more confident that she will soon recover her pick-up truck and two dogs. On Feb. 13, she parked her truck at the Berkeley Bowl to go shopping and returned to find it lifted on to a tow truck while her two dogs were set to be carted off to the animal shelter. 

Because many of the parking fines she had accumulated dated back more than one year, Gill did not qualify for community service to work off the tickets and had no way to pay the fines to regain her truck. And without her truck, she said, she had no place for her dogs, which she chose to leave at the shelter. 

By a 7-0-2 vote (Olds and Wozniak abstain) the council directed City Manager Kamlarz to waive the one-year deadline for low-income people to work off their fines, to notify the Department of Motor Vehicles that the fines would be removed and to try to help the woman find housing.  

Additionally, the city has waived fees for boarding the dogs at the animal shelter, which had climbed to $4,000. Now Gill must pay the $1,000 towing fee to get the truck out of Hustead’s lot in West Berkeley. She said friends in local organization’s Copwatch and Women in Black have already raised about three-quarters of the money. 

Gill said she looks forward to being reunited with her two German Shepherd mixed dogs. “They’re like my kids,” she said. 

Changing city policy to help one woman left several councilmembers concerned, although most backed the proposal in the end. 

“It’s not a good way to do policy, folks, but sometimes you have to act,” Mayor Tom Bates said after the vote. 


Tenancies in Common 

Tuesday’s meeting also proved beneficial to four residents of an Oxford Street apartment building who may soon be exempt from city fees for converting the building they recently bought into condominiums. 

The tenants, all of who had occupied their units for more than 10 years, purchased the building last year from the landlord as a tenancy in common (TIC).  

TICs are usually 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. To convert the units to condominiums, the tenants, under current Berkeley law, would have had to have paid the city about $50,000 per unit, which they said they couldn’t afford. 

To help remedy their predicament, the council voted 5-4 (Maio, Worthington, Spring, Anderson, no) to authorize the city attorney to change the rule so that tenants who have lived in their units since 1995 would be exempt from the fee. 

After the vote, Councilmember Betty Olds, who has co-sponsored the resolution, hugged the residents outside council chambers, telling them, “I’m thrilled to death. I don’t usually win.” 

While the council made it easier for long-term tenants to convert their units to condos Tuesday, they made it more expensive for other would-be condo owners. By a 5-4 vote (Bates, Wozniak, Capitelli, Olds, no) the council raised the fee for condo conversion from 10 percent of the unit’s sale price to 12.5 percent. The fee will go to the city’s housing trust fund, which leverages affordable housing projects. Opponents of the fee hike feared that it would serve as a disincentive for owners to convert to condominiums and instead they would buy properties as TICs. 


Solar Bond 

By a 7-2 vote (Wozniak and Olds, no) the council authorized Kamlarz to pay $52,000, either to for-profit venture capital firm Power Factors Inc. or to a non-profit firm to work on establishing a bond fund to help local businesses pay for clean energy projects. 

Berkeley is still waiting for Oakland to also authorize money for the project. Speaking in opposition, Wozniak thought the bond was a good idea, but questioned why the city was giving money to a venture capital firm when it wouldn’t have ownership of the equipment. 

“I’m not convinced we got the best deal,” he said. 

Peralta Board Still Awaits Dones Contract Issue By J. DOUGLAS ALLEN-TAYLOR

Friday May 13, 2005

The man who wasn’t there continues to be the subject of the most interest at the Peralta Community College District Trustees meetings. 

For the second meeting, faculty representatives appeared to speak on the proposed Laney College/Peralta Administration Building land development proposal contract with Oakland developer Alan Dones and his Strategic Urban Development Alliance (SUDA). Rumors that the contract would appear on the agenda proved false. 

Negotiations for the Dones contract were authorized by the outgoing Peralta board last November, but Chancellor Elihu Harris has yet to act on them, citing the controversy surrounding the proposed project. 

Trustee Cy Gulassa said following the meeting that he has received “official word” that the Dones contract will be on the agenda for the May 31 trustee meeting. Chancellor Harris told union and Peralta faculty representatives earlier this year that when he does present the Dones contract to trustees, he will do so without his recommendation. 

Two weeks ago, representatives of the District Academic Senate and the Laney College Faculty Senate presented resolutions opposing the Dones contract. At Tuesday night’s meeting Laney Computer Instructor Carole Rogers, who said she was speaking at the request of the Laney Faculty Senate, read a prepared statement to trustees charging that some trustees may have a conflict of interest on the Dones contract. 

Such conflicts “may cloud their ability to make fair and impartial decisions related to the development of our land in general, and Mr. Dones’ contract in particular,” the statement read. “As such, we are here tonight to request that board members who may have conflicts of interest excuse yourselves from voting on any contractual agreements related, in any way, to Mr. Alan Dones or SUDA. Additionally, we request that, in order to clarify the degree to which any ties to Mr. Dones (and SUDA) are, in fact, legal conflicts of interest, we request that you seek formal written advice from the California Fair Political Practices Commission regarding your legal right to vote on issues related to Mr. Dones or SUDA.” 

Asked following the meeting if she had any particular trustees in mind, Rogers said “we’re not ready to name names yet, but we will do so as this moves forward.” 

One of the Peralta trustees financially linked to Dones is Area 7 representative Alona Clifton. Clifton is the president of the non-profit North County Center for Self Sufficiency Corporation (NCCSSC), which is scheduled to have its headquarters located in Dones’ $70 million downtown Oakland Thomas L. Berkeley Square project when it opens later this year. SUDA’s Thomas L. Berkeley Square website lists Clifton and NCCSSC as one of its “key contacts and participants.” 

Clifton sat through the reading of the Rogers letter Tuesday night without comment, as did all of the other trustees. 

“No one has asked me to recuse myself from the Dones vote.” Clifton said this week during a phone interview. “I don’t know if the letter was aimed at me, because they did not say who they were referring to.” 

Asked if she would recuse herself if asked, Clifton said, “I will do whatever is proper.” She said Peralta General Counsel Thuy Nguyen told her “that in her opinion, there is no apparent conflict and she is not recommending that I recuse myself.” 

Clifton she was not opposed to contacting the Fair Political Practices Commission for an opinion on the matter, but she was satisfied with Nguyen’s recommendation. 

Clifton was one of the members of last year’s Peralta Trustee Board who voted to authorize negotiations with Dones for the development project. Sources close to the trustee board say that the present board appears to be leaning 4-3 to support the Dones contract, and that a Clifton recusal would kill the contract on a 3-3 tie. 

In an item that did make it on Tuesday’s agenda, trustees approved construction of a second set of bleachers and new toilet facilities for the Laney College football and track stadium on a 5-2 vote (Gulassa, Gonzalez Yuen voting no) after beating back attempts by Trustees Cy Gulassa and Nicky Gonzalez Yuen to table the matter for further study. Construction cost is estimated at $1.5 million. 

Trustee Linda Handy said that the completion of the stadium “is important to develop a sense of community. We built the original facility, but we forgot to build a full seating capacity. This would be completing a commitment to the community, which is footing the bills for our colleges.” 

Acting Laney President Odell Johnson agreed that the proposed stadium renovations were not a Laney proposal. 

“This is for the community,” he said. “If it were built, groups within the community will begin to come in and use the facility on a more regular basis.” 

At one point in the debate, Trustee Marcie Hodge expressed concern that the Laney stadium renovation should not be a priority. 

“I’m more concerned about problems with restrooms in the main buildings where our students actually go to class,” she said. “Should we focus on restrooms at the stadium, or on fixing toilets where we might get sued?” 

Shortly afterwards, while other trustees continued to debate, Trustee Board President William Riley engaged in an animated private discussion with Hodge as the two sat together at the trustee table. At one point, when she was called on to vote on a motion to close the debate, Hodge said, to other trustees, “Wait a minute. Bill is telling me something now that publicly we all need to hear.” 

Hodge later voted to approve the stadium construction. 

“I learned that the old board had already put aside $900,000 towards this project, and we were only being asked to add the extra half-million,” she said. “That made the project more acceptable to me.” 

The information concerning the $900,000 set-aside by the previous board was not mentioned publicly in the meeting, nor was it included in the board packet. In his memo to Chancellor Harris and the Peralta trustees concerning the project, Director of General Services Sadiq Ikharo merely wrote that the item originally came to the old board on Nov. 23, 2004 at a cost estimate of $1,532,000. 

“At that meeting,” Ikharo wrote, “the board voted to take up this item again with the newly elected board members.” 

Letters to the Editor

Friday May 13, 2005


Editors, Daily Planet: 

As quoted in your May 6 editorial, law professor Rossman says: “The confidentiality should only be broken when there is consensus for release among the council, and with the other negotiating party.” In other words, his experience teaches that the party the city is suing or being sued by should have a veto over what the council tells its residents about a lawsuit. That’s far beyond what the Brown Act or the attorney-client privilege are about. It actually turns on its head what the Brown Act’s preamble says: 

“The people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know. The people insist on remaining informed so that they may retain control over the instruments they have created.” 

The Rossman twist goes beyond this. Not only does it give the right to decide what the public may know to “public servants” but also to anyone who happens to be cutting lawsuit settlements with them. And if the public isn’t bright enough to be insulted by this contempt for its role in the process, then maybe it deserves no more than it gets, and no sooner. 

Terry Francke 

General Counsel, Californians Aware 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

I’ve been scratching my head in wonder while thinking about why the Van Hools are so unpopular here, but appreciated in Europe. I thought about the ways that I use public transit every day to imagine what a person in say, Britain might be doing, a person of my age and needs. 

For one thing, any person will use what is available to fit one’s needs. Hence, I would use the 72R to get to a stop along San Pablo in a hurry, any bus to get to BART for an A’s game or an evening in San Francisco, and for work I use the first bus that comes. I avoid using Van Hools when I have a load, just as I avoid travel between 3 and 4 p.m., when the school kids get out of school.  

The Van Hools may be popular in Europe for several reasons; Europeans are quieter, more reserved. The Van Hool seating does not encourage conversation. I can’t figure out how to read on a Van Hool, though. The rattling of the bus turns the print into a blur. That would be a problem for reading a mystery. Quite.  

The European is used to taking little hops and walks to little shops at a leisurely pace. Transit is cheap and traffic jams fewer. Consumerism isn’t what it is here, so no lugging heavy loads from Walgreens or the mall. 

Last but not least, those Europeans tend to be more fit and athletic than we are. They’re used to getting out and about in the worst of weather. Yes, hopping up and down and back and forth on those buses is no problem. After all, from cradle to grave they are guaranteed quality health care! 

Edith Monk Hallberg  




Editors, Daily Planet: 

As many of your readers may know, a small fire was started at the site of Congregation Beth El’s new home on Oxford Street in North Berkeley last Wednesday night. Fortunately, a number of our neighbors spotted the fire and reported it immediately to the police and firefighters. Berkeley’s firefighters responded instantly and extinguished the fire. The police quickly closed off the area, and began an investigation. They could not have worked more efficiently or effectively. 

In addition, quite a few neighbors of the new synagogue also called Beth El members they knew to express their concern and sympathy. Those calls moved many of us deeply, especially after years of difficult negotiations to build on our property. 

We may never know how the fire began, but we certainly do know how much we appreciate the skilled work of Berkeley’s firefighters and police—and the caring response of some of our new neighbors. Our heartfelt thanks go out to them all. 

President Martin Dodd 

Rabbi Ferenc Raj 

Congregation Beth El 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

On May 2, the City of Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board unanimously passed a resolution respectfully urging the “Honorable Mayor, Members of the City Council and City officials to expeditiously broker, mediate, negotiate or otherwise resolve the emergency housing situation at the Drayage Building using all resources, means and goodwill at their disposal towards the goal of preventing the dislocation” of the Drayage Building’s tenants. 

Since the early 1980s, West Berkeley’s Drayage Building has served as a vibrant community of highly skilled artists, artisans and craftpersons who provide an array of unique products, materials and artistic works. The Drayage Building’s tenants include letter press printers, graphic artists, a furniture maker, sculptors and modern dance artists among other skilled artisans.  

The 30 or so Drayage Building tenants occupy 12 live/work spaces and have been considerate, conscientious tenants for as long as they have lived in the building. 

Since fire safety concerns were first raised by the City of Berkeley, the Drayage Building residents have installed over 80 fire extinguishers and at least 90 smoke detectors inside the building. Regulation fire wall construction has been documented and enhanced. The Drayage Building’s fire safety issues have been addressed or mitigated, and extensive safety inspections conducted. 

Over 600 pages of correspondence/documents between the City of Berkeley and the Drayage Building’s owner and tenants—starting in the early 1980s—has been produced explicitly demonstrating the city’s knowledge and monitoring of the Drayage Building’s tenant units and facilities. 

Councilmembers Maio, Capitelli and Wozniak are to be commended for recently taking the time to visit the Drayage site and for meeting with the building’s residents. Councilmember Moore has been generous enough to meet with Drayage representatives in his office, and Councilmember Worthington spoke eloquently in support of the above resolution. 

Maintaining and preserving affordable housing for Berkeley’s artistic/craftperson community must be one of the city’s highest priorities. Support for Berkeley’s unique artistic community has always been a strong element of the city’s local heritage and traditions.  

The nine members of the Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board sincerely seek a reasonable and balanced resolution of the Drayage Building situation, and respectfully urge the City Council and city officials to resolve the situation with the best interests and consideration of all parties in mind.  

Chris Kavanagh  

Commissioner, Rent Stabilization Board 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Anne Wagley’s May 6 letter in the Daily Planet, regarding the proposed public art installation at the Berkeley–Oakland border offers an opportunity to announce that East Bay artists Katherine Keefer and Steven Gillman will be completing the installation of their whimsical and inspiring “HERE THERE” piece in the coming weeks. A public reception for the work will be held on site, with representatives from Oakland and Berkeley, on Tuesday, June 7 at 3 p.m. Elected officials, arts supporters and neighborhood organizations from both cities will be invited to attend, to celebrate the joining of our communities in a lighthearted and mutually complimentary literal statement.  

By its very nature, public art is inclined to spark inquiry, interest, controversy and sometimes puzzlement. These responses are good, and are pleasant distractions from pressures of everyday life and work. While some may view public art as wasteful and unnecessary, especially in tight economic times, and may see divisiveness and territorial claims on objects in the landscape, this is exactly the opposite of the views of most observers of public art. Christo and Jean-Marie’s temporal installations, Claes Oldenburg’s super-scale sculptures, or Rigo 98’s word art pieces “Sky/Ground” commissioned by SFMOMA, and even Charles Tilden’s figurative works, all have supporters and those who intensely dislike them and find them wasteful. It is not possible to please everyone, especially when it comes to public art. But the value of such art is in the raising of questions in each of us as to the meaning and the purpose of art in our own lives.  

Controversy in art is good, and perhaps the Keefer/Gillman “HERE THERE” installation will encourage those who are concerned about divisions among communities to think of real solutions to bridge certain gaps, and to find that “Here” is really “There,” too.  

David J. Snippen 

Chair, Berkeley Civic Arts Public Art Committee 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I was amazed to learn about the plans to put an art installation piece at the Berkeley/Oakland border titled “Here/There.” Huge steel letters that literally spell out the words “Here” and “There”; “Here” on the Berkeley side, and “There” in Oakland.  

I understand that art is oftentimes meant to spawn controversy, but I feel that this is a blatant jab at the already existing tensions between the neighboring cities of Oakland and Berkeley. And this is especially surprising after we’ve tried to move past the infamous Gertrude Stein quote that drove this very same idea home years ago, as she described her hometown of Oakland as having “no there, there”. 

And this “art” coming from a town such as Berkeley that is so steeped in the tradition of the “love thy neighbor” mentality?! How are we supposed to love our brothers right next door, when you’re installing a permanent reminder that Berkeley is “Here,” in the now, and where it’s at, and Oakland is well, just, “There”? 

Rob Woodworth 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

I opened the May 6 edition of the Daily Planet and saw the following stories on pages 2 and 3: “[Mark] Danner and [John] Yoo Debate Wars on Terror and Iraq,” “Landlord Group Fumes Over Rent Board Fee Increase” and “Doctor’s Presence at Protest Questioned.” I decided it was time I finally sent the Planet a fan letter. How many newspapers cover their communities with such marvelous breadth? Not to speak of the space you’ve given to the spirited (but some would say arcane) debate over the merits of some Belgian buses. 

A few months ago, at a discussion on the worsening state of the media in the country, Ben Bagdikian (author of the now-classic Media Monopoly) singled the Planet out as “splendid.” Not for nothing did he say that. 

Hale Zukas 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Friday’s report that the City Council had surrendered to UC, by giving in to their offer of a paltry $1.2 million charitable donation to the city’s coffers, a cause for weeping and anger.  

The council gave away city air space for an unnecessary “bridge” over Hearst Avenue. They voted to increase property owners’ sewer bills largely because UC will not pay its share. And now they are caving once again to that institution’s high-handed refusal to pay a fair share for the city services it appropriates. 

For once, in demanding more, and by using convincingly intelligent legal arguments and means, the city might have prevailed. Who knows? If the reasoning were properly presented, a judge might possibly have agreed with the city’s requests. It was worth the try. 

Pity the constituents who continue to see our city swallowed by ever-increasing UC expansion and appropriation of our tax base.  

Pity the city’s property owners who bear more and more of the UC burden. 

Pity, and weep, if you can. “Berkeley” will soon be no more. 

Sharon Entwistle 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

First of all, thanks for your coverage of the toxic cleanup issue. Your paper and Richard Brenneman’s reporting have made this the diary of this process. 

As a direct reply to your May 6 editorial: 

We at the Richmond Progressive Alliance are under no illusions about how the state Department of Toxic Substances Control may conduct the oversight of the cleanup of the former Zeneca toxic site or any other for that matter. I can recall no instance where either the state Environmental Protection Agency or the federal EPA was pro-active in regards to looking out for the health and safety of the public. They had to be sued and pushed by community activism, usually, after the community had paid a heavy price in suffering due to horrendous health effects. 

In fact, it could be argued that what the federal EPA has done with its publishing of supposed “safe levels” of exposure to radiologic, cancer causing or mutagenic toxic substances, is made what in a clearer frame of reference is unacceptable, acceptable. In light of what we have learned over the last few decades about the health consequences of protracted exposures to sub-lethal doses of toxins, the EPA is one more level of bureaucracy running interference on behalf of corporate polluters being held to account for their actions. There is no “safe” level of exposure to dioxin, only levels that erode one’s health slowly enough that apologists for corporate barbarism can wrap their disclaimers in the blanket of legitimate sounding scientific skepticism. 

No, the DTSC is no panacea. The EPA and environmental standards were and are an important victory on the path to social accountability for the actions of private interests. But history shows any reform, no matter how noble, can be turned against the citizenry if that citizenry fails to remain organized and vigilant. We want access to the more stringent standards and the protocols for community input, which do exist with the Water Board. It will be up to us as community activists to hold the DTSC to its mission. 

Tony Sustak 


Letters to the Editor: SCHOOL DISTRICT

Friday May 13, 2005


As a parent new to the Berkeley Unified School District, I am surprised at the tone of the opposition I’ve heard from people regarding the Berkeley Federation of Teachers’ proposed cost-of-living adjustment. The phrase “the district has no money” is often repeated, almost like a mantra. 

No doubt the district is in tight financial times. However, BUSD’s own literature states that they will be receiving $1.8 million dollars in increased funds. BFT puts this figure closer to $3 million, before Measure B. Also, in their projected cost for next year (included in the same flyer), BUSD includes a $700,000 payment to the teachers’ pension fund. This will not happen this year, as the governor was forced to back down from that proposal. Also, the BFT president has stated publicly that if this pension contribution goes into effect next year, BFT would seek no increases that year. 

All this is to say that by the district’s own admission there will be increased revenue this year, and the projected costs are not what they claim. Different numbers have been flying around, and parents don’t know who to believe—there needs to be an independent, public audit done to review the district’s books. If there is net revenue after costs are met, then let’s give a fair cut of it to the hard-working individuals who are entrusted with our children’s education. 

Sahoko Tamagawa 



What really boggles the mind is that the Berkeley Unified School district is willing to risk a teachers’ strike by not accepting the Berkeley Federation of Teachers’ proposal for class size caps. The caps would be good for everyone—certainly the students, who could be assured of reasonable access to their teachers; obviously the teachers, who could do a better job by not being spread so thin; and, yes, the school district as a whole, which would be able to attract and retain good teachers, would be able to keep test scores up, and would be able to better educate Berkeley’s student population. 

The teachers propose that the maximum number of students in each class be set at four or five students above a required average class size of 20, 26, and 28 students per class in grades K-3, 4-5, and 6-12, respectively. This contrasts strikingly with the district’s “average staffing ratio” proposal which commits o nly to limit the district-wide average class size to the above-stated levels (20, 26 and 28). The teacher who ends up with a class of 40, while her colleague in the next room has a class of 20, would kick herself for having acquiesced to such an agreement. I am not sure who the hapless students in her class would kick. But Berkeley parents like myself would have to kick ourselves for having voted for a school board that can’t recognize a good idea when it’s in front of them. 

Dove Scherr 

Parent of Malcolm X Elementary School first-grader  



A May 10 letter referred to the need for an audit of the Berkeley Unified School District’s finances, in order to help the community understand a complicated and ever evolving budget. Daily Planet readers should know that the independent audit of the 2003-2004 school year actuals was completed and delivered to the Board of Education at the board meeting on March 2, 2004. Additionally, an independent three member community audit committee sat with the auditor to review findings, and continue to advise the board and superintendent. 

For the 2003-2004 audit report, please refer your readers to our website at www.berkeley.k12.ca.us/index_news.html. Readers can view a hard copy of the 35-page report at any branch of the Be rkeley Public Library or in my office at the Old City Hall. I will also be happy to make a few video copies of the auditor’s presentation to the board available to check out from my office, along with a loaner copy of the report to follow along.  

Mark Cop lan 

BUSD Public Information Officer 



I want to urge all Berkeley families to learn more about the contract dispute between the Berkeley teachers union and the school district.  

I am the parent of a child in kindergarten at Oxford Elementary School. My daughter’s experience at Oxford has far exceeded my expectations for one reason: her teacher. This teacher creates an environment that is calm and stimulating; she gives children of different abilities the personal attention they need; she fosters communication and conflict resolution; she has inspired my daughter to love school. I can’t ask for anything more.  

Strong and experienced teachers are the most important aspect of any public school. In Berkeley, we have some outstanding teachers, but to keep them, we need to stay competitive with other Bay Area school districts. Right now, our teachers’ salaries and benefits are in the mid-range and dropping compared with other schools in Alameda and nearby counties. 

This year, the state is giving Berkeley a 4 percent increase in funding. But the district is, in effect, proposing a pay cut for our teachers by offering a small raise and a big increase in health care premiums.  

The teachers aren’t asking for much—just to be a priority in the budget. Isn’t tha t the least we can do?  

I hope Berkeley parents will support the teachers by learning more about the issues and calling the school board. 

Andrea Lampros 



Teachers deserve a raise. Individuals who enter the teaching profession take on the daunting task of educating children in a state where policy makers have set the bar high for academic standards but allocated funding levels comparatively low, 44th in the nation. This is particularly acute in the Bay Area where housing costs have appreciated in the d ouble digits and teaching salaries have stagnated in most cash-strapped school districts. 

The union has stated that it only wants its fair share of any increased revenues. The president of the teachers’ union has stated publicly that if the planned incre ase in revenues does not materialize, the union will not demand a raise. Union leadership has also offered to shoulder some of the increase in the cost of benefits. 

The question then becomes what is the amount of increased revenues? Is the projected amount stable? And does an increase in revenues imply a net increase, after any increased expenses are removed? The actual amount of increased revenue has been heatedly debated, which I find difficult to understand. I believe the place for such discussion is at the negotiating table, not in the inboxes of the community. 

The union accuses BUSD of shifting the budget numbers over time. The district holds the cards here, and should make a determined effort to make the budget numbers and projections more transpa rent and stable. If they did so, and both sides could agree on the net expected increase in revenues, an agreement should be in reach. At this point, rhetoric is plentiful, but trust is in short supply. 

The current contract expired in June 2003, and although all parties hope to arrive at a fair settlement, if the current state of impasse fails to produce a negotiated settlement, the union is considering a strike. We hope the union will not find this action necessary. A strike would cause great damage to all parties—the children would not get an education, the district would lose average daily attendance funds as a result of parents pulling their children out, and teachers would be laid off. Such a work action could backfire with additional and devastatin g consequences if Measure B and BSEP votes next year are adversely affected by a recent work stoppage. 

Let us put aside the rhetoric and posturing and focus on negotiating in earnest as mature, responsible, and open-minded representatives of teachers and administration. In that way, I believe this contract can be settled in a fair and efficient manner. 

Jonathan Squire 

Parent of a Berkeley public school student 



As a teacher in Berkeley for 13 years I can assure you that I do not want to strike. I can also assure you that the district is not telling you the whole truth, and at times not anything resembling the truth. Their most recent comparison of salaries was so loaded with wrong information that I personally wonder whether it was intentional or simp ly that they don’t know any better. In either case, I don’t find that I can trust much of what they have to say. At the forum on negotiations hosted by the PTA Council, one of the speakers, Mary Alice Callahan, stated that a budget is not only a financial document, but also a political/philosophical one. The question to ask is whether you agree with the “hidden” priorities of the administration/board, or whether you think that the priorities need to be different, and funded accordingly.  

Ms. Callahan, as a past union president, also spoke about the very real practice of building up the reserve over a couple of years, and how this has been done in numerous districts with no ill effects.  

Before you take a position on the struggle between the teachers in Berkeley and the administration/board, please be careful to fully educate yourself about the “truth.” 

Sam Frankel 

Teacher, Berkeley Arts Magnet 



In the current labor dispute between teachers and the school district, I find it hard to believe that the school district is “broke.” With the 4 percent increase in funding from the state, plus the very generous $22 million we Berkeley taxpayers provide every year through the three parcel taxes, BSEP, Measure B and Measure BB, it would seem that the district is adequately funded. I understand that the issue may well be that the district prefers to spend its funds in other ways besides increasing teachers’ salaries. However, it is disingenuous for the school district to claim it lacks funds.  

The best way for the school district to resolve this issue, is to allow an independent auditor to examine not just its books, but to evaluate how effectively and efficiently the school district is spending the money it has. A performance auditor could let the community k now how much money the district really has, and what choices could be made to provide the pay increase to teachers.  

For instance, after the B Building fire at the high school, the school board chose to spend $4 million of the insurance settlement to buy the old Urban Ore site as a location to park school buses. Now, five years later, the BUSD owned old Urban Ore site grows weeds, while BUSD is still paying hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in rent to park our school buses elsewhere. Maybe those hu ndreds of thousands of dollars a year could be better used to increase teacher salaries. 

Here’s another example. The superintendent of the Acalanes High School District (Moraga, Orinda, Lafayette) promised that administration costs for their district wil l not exceed 3 percent of its total school district budget. That’s a great goal. How does Berkeley compare? 

To have quality education, we need great teachers. We need to attract and keep great teachers by paying competitive salaries and benefits. Our kids are worth it! 

Karen Meryash 

Willard Middle School parent 



As a Berkeley teacher who is currently working to rule I would like to respond to the recent letters and op-eds in the Daily Planet which have complained about our work action. 

I would like those parents who have complained to imagine that for years and years you did volunteer work in your childrens’ classrooms, working long evenings and weekends to make sure things went well. (Perhaps you have done exactly that; many Berkeley parents have.) I would then ask you to imagine that due to the increasing disrespect with which you were treated while doing this work, you decided not to continue volunteering your time until you were treated more respectfully. Imagine that when people realized the di fference your volunteer work had made, instead of acknowledging or thanking you for the countless hours and years of hard work you had done, instead of supporting you to solve the problem that had caused you to stop volunteering, they responded with recriminations and guilt-trips, and simply told you to get back to work. 

I am sorry that by performing volunteer labor for so long so quietly, we teachers gave you the impression that you were entitled to our evenings, weekends and lunch minutes. We’re sorry if we left you with the impression that you were entitled to our services 24/7 no matter how badly we were treated or how little we were paid. 

Rather than being outraged that Berkeley teachers are protesting for fair wages, benefits and class size limits, I hope that Berkeley parents will start to question a system that can’t function without hundreds of hours of teachers’ unpaid labor.  

Berkeley teachers are willing to go back to performing those hundreds of hours—as soon as we have a contract which co mpensates us fairly for the time we are paid for. BUSD will be receiving $3 million in increased revenues from the state next year (not counting increased revenue from BSEP.) For a fraction of that sum, they could give us the minimal cost-of-living increa se we are asking for, while maintaining health benefits and limiting class sizes. 

Terry Fletcher 



With education budgets being cut and Republicans in state and federal governments determined to inflict more damage, this is a critical time for our scho ols and BUSD. The teacher’s contract dispute threatens to make the situation worse and, therefore, I feel compelled to defend the interests of my children attending a Berkeley school.  

BUSD teachers, I believe, are dedicated and (when not “working-to-rul e”) hard-working, putting in extra effort and hours. Compared to many other professions, they are underpaid. However, it is undeniable that BUSD finances are very tight and not going to get any better next year. Fact is, the school district is not a priva te company but a community institution paid for by California taxpayers and the people of Berkeley. BUSD does not make a profit and is not allowed to make a deficit. If teachers get more money or just cost more due to higher health care premiums and other benefits, there will have to be fewer of them than there otherwise would be. There could be cuts in sports, music and arts or closer to the academic core, all aimed at having fewer people on the payroll, i.e. layoffs. Programs could be cut or class sizes increased in order to balance the budget. This is not in the interest of my children.  

If teachers were leaving because of low pay, action would need to be taken. However, this is clearly not the case. Other districts are financially hurting just as muc h as BUSD. For BUSD being in the middle of the pack in terms of teachers pay, as the union claims, is not great but certainly acceptable in tight times.  

In their effort to better their pay I urge the teachers to keep in mind that BUSD can easily be push ed down a slippery slope. If a strike or other negative development caused parents to pull their children out, it could easily start a chain reaction leading to significantly fewer students and loss of community support with devastating financial conseque nces. At the end BUSD may be where Oakland is now. Such an outcome would not only be most unfortunate for families like mine, who are counting on BUSD, but would also be bad for the teachers.  

Last but not least, I have been very disappointed by the teac her’s work-to-rule labor action. First, it sends the message to our children that homework is not important, a terrible thing as every parent knows who has tried hard to explain to their children why they have to do homework in the first place. Second, th e students were given misleading explanations for the work-to-rule action, i.e., being told the district doesn’t pay the teachers for all the hours they work. As far as I know this dispute is about an increase in pay and health care premiums and not number of work hours. There would have been nothing wrong with telling the students the truth. A low point has been the removal of the children’s work from the bulletin boards in the hallways. This does nothing to put pressure on the school district but takes something away from the students. 

In the long run we can hope and work for a change in the political landscape and for getting education in California the support it deserves and desperately needs. However, for now wishes and political statements don’t help. BUSD has no choice but to live within its means. Tough as it is, it comes down to more money for the teachers vs. more teachers for the children.  

I sincerely hope that teachers and district will soon agree on a contract. 

Bernhard Ludewigt  

COMMENTARY: Celebrate World Fair Trade Day on Saturday By HUNTER JACKSON

Friday May 13, 2005

A few days ago I was talking to a friend about shoes: I’d recently read that Nike owns Converse, which shocked my friend, an oblivious Converse-wearer. She had thought that by buying Converses she was withdrawing her support of the big shoemakers who are notorious for utilizing sweatshop labor. Our conversation turned to how these days it seems everything for sale comes from somewhere problematic, so much in fact that sometimes it feels like you have to either buy nothing or just ignore ethics altogether. 

But that’s not true. Though market-led “free” trade encourages companies like Nike to contract production to sweatshops in Asia to minimize costs and maximize profits, there are practical alternatives. As concerns about the effects of such practices spread, conscientious consumers are increasingly turning to Fair Trade. 

Fair Trade is a departure from the standard “free” trade of the past that is driven by profit alone. In contrast, Fair Trade focuses on establishing a sustainable, balanced relationship between buyer and seller and guarantees a living wage to participating farmers and artisans. 

Take coffee, the most common Fair Trade good. Wholesale buyers of non-Fair Trade coffee want the cheapest beans they can find, regardless of how the coffee beans are grown. Because global competition has driven prices down in recent years, sometimes farmers have to sell their coffee for less money than they spend to produce it, driving them deeper into poverty. Fair Trade growers, on the other hand, are guaranteed a minimum price for their coffee as long as they meet certain production standards and can receive three-to-five times as much money for their labor. According to Transfair USA, an internationally recognized Fair Trade certifier, in the past five years small farmers have made an additional $34 million by selling Fair Trade coffee. 

By compensating producers for operating responsibly, Fair Trade helps preserve small-scale, sustainable farming methods. Seller cooperatives and associations put individual producers in contact with organizations that market and sell the goods to North American and European audiences. Fair Trade items--such as handicrafts, furniture, clothes, jewelry, coffee, tea, and chocolate--can be found on the Internet or in specialty shops, like Global Exchange’s Online Store or Fair Trade stores in San Francisco, Berkeley, and Portland. 

Fair Trade is more than just talk. By buying Fair Trade goods, consumers are actively supporting both an alternative, just system of exchange as well as the well-being of individuals involved in the growing and making of Fair Trade goods. And the results are real.  

Tex Dworkin, the manager of the Global Exchange Fair Trade Online Store, recently returned from a month-long buying trip to Vietnam and Thailand where she met with local artisans and organizations that work with to get their goods from sometimes remote villages to the global market. “The lives of these people are greatly improved by the profits of the sale of these [Fair Trade] items,” she said. “That’s what it comes down to--their lives were a lot different before we started buying from them. That’s the truth.” 

Getting a product into a Fair Trade store or website can drastically affect a town or village. According to Dworkin, entire communities in Guatemala are supported by the work of weavers’ cooperatives. In Peru, all of one village’s income comes from the sale of their handmade Incan chess sets in Global Exchange’s stores. “If someone buys 500 of something, that could be an entire village that’s changed forever,” she said. 

The best part is that Fair Trade is growing rapidly. According to the 2003 Report on Fair Trade Trends, total sales went up by 44 percent from 2001 to 2002. Increasingly consumers in the Global North concerned about where their food and crafts come from are willing to pay a little more for Fair Trade goods so they will know where their money is going. In doing so, they are putting money right in the hands of small-scale producers rather than large unethical corporations. 

This Saturday, May 14, is World Fair Trade Day. In 60 countries and hundreds of cities there will be events, rallies, seminars, fashion shows, and sales to help promote Fair Trade as a socially, economically, and environmentally responsible alternative to conventional “free” trade. It will be a chance for people to learn about the power we, as consumers, have to positively affect the lives of people who make the things we buy.  

And mixed in with the food, shawls, paper, and jewelry that will be on display and for sale this weekend are even No Sweat Sneakers--the only 100-percent union-made sneakers in the world, guaranteed sweatshop-free, proving there really are alternatives to Nike. 


Hunter Jackson is a San Francisco-based freelance journalist and volunteer with Global Exchange. 



BART Must Put Public Safety First By HAROLD BROWN

Friday May 13, 2005

When the BART Board of Directors met April 28 to discuss next year’s proposed budget, BART station agents, train operators, transit advocates, and advocates for the blind, disabled, seniors and students turned out in force to protest proposed reductions that we feel put rider safety at risk.  

BART is leaving riders vulnerable by proposing layoffs of 28 station agents by July 1st. These cuts affect 90 percent of BART’s part-time station agents who received furlough notice last week stating that these positions were at risk to be terminated. 

Many people don’t know how critical station agents are, in protecting the safety of all BART riders. For example, seniors, blind, and disabled riders frequently request station agent assistance and support through entry gates, and help riders with unique needs to find their way through large stations with multiple entrances and exits. Having a station agent on-site to provide this assistance ensures BART remains accessible to those who need it the most—and reassures them that BART stations are a safe place to be. 

Station agents are the eyes and ears of BART—walking station platforms to keep riders safe, and reporting on and addressing hazardous conditions. They help to direct large groups of children who are on field trips, and rescue children who become separated from their parents. Station agents do everything from evacuate BART station areas in emergencies to helping riders who have ticket problems and lost items.  

Already BART leaves many service booths vacant. Many stations are left empty for numerous hours each day, leaving the public no one to turn to in an emergency. Now BART is proposing to eliminate more station agents on heavy commuter lines. High-volume stations like 12th Street, 19th Street, Pleasant Hill, Dublin/Pleasanton, and Lake Merritt would all be affected. In addition BART has laid-off numerous workers system wide, including janitors, and closed its restroom facilities to the public. 

It is irresponsible to target budget cuts to the services that impact the public the most. With a projected $53 million deficit, why does BART continue to pay millions for costly outside consultants, high executive salaries, and overhead?  

The Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555 is joining other community coalition partners such as advocates from the California School for the Blind and the Gray Panthers to speak out on these issues, because the last resort for budget cuts should be in any areas affecting the public’s services and safety.  

We call on BART Board President Joel Keller and the board of directors to put “Public Safety First” in any budget decisions or considerations. 


Harold Brown 

President, ATU 1555 


Margot Smith 

Seniors Advocate, Gray Panthers  


Yvonne Westbrook 

Disable Advocate, On the Go

It’s Time to Re-Think Taxation By GAR SMITH

Friday May 13, 2005

In the afterglow of April 15, it may be timely to consider adopting the Willy Sutton approach to tax-collection. As the wily bank-robber once observed: If you want to prosper in your chosen career, you have to go “where the money is.” 

In 2004, with California foundering in red ink, Gov. Schwarzenegger squared his already rectilinear jaw and proclaimed: “Everyone has got to come out and help!” The Governor then proposed a $15-billion bank loan to buy some fiscal breathing room.  

This “Debt before Dishonor” approach didn’t appeal to State Assembly Majority Leader Wilma Chan (D-Oakland). She had a better idea.  

Picking up Arnold’s cry, “Everyone has to help,” Chan and her Democratic colleagues fashioned “a fair and modest way to raise revenues”—a bill to tax the wealthiest two percent of the state’s residents. Under California’s progressive tax rate, someone with a taxable income of $80,000 pays a 6.8 percent tax rate. Under the Chan Plan, Californians with more than $130,000 in taxable income would pay a 10 percent tax while folks with more than $520,000 taxable bucks would pay 11 percent. 

Chan projected that this modest tax-the-very-rich scheme would generate “approximately $3 billion a year and would be in effect for five years,” offsetting the state’s $15-billion budget shortfall without incurring the whopping costs of bank-loan interest. 

Critics snorted that no Republican governor would consent to such a plan, but Chan had a ready response: “The state has adopted this very solution before. During the fiscal crisis of the early 1990s, Governor Pete Wilson signed legislation to enact this same proposal.” And Republican Gov. Ronald Reagan signed not one but two top-bracket tax increases. 

Unfortunately, the Chan Plan never got traction, as an epidemic of cold-feet swept through the Senate. But all is not lost. If we’re not ready to tax the rich, maybe it’s time to get tough on corporations. 

In 2001, the California Budget Project discovered that 52 percent of the 519,000 corporations doing business in California (including 46 big-name, billion-dollar firms) paid only the token $800 franchise tax. Some paid no taxes at all while others received million-dollar refunds from the state.  

Would you like know the names of these corporate tax-dodgers? Sorry, you’re out of luck. By law, state officials are prohibited from revealing which corporations are tax-avoiders. But the resourceful sleuths at the California Budget Project managed to compile a short-list of these tax scofflaws. Among the more familiar names: Walt Disney, Fluor, Health Net, Hewlett-Packard, and Cypress Semiconductor. And then there’s Computer Sciences, which made $1.29 million in profits in 2001, paid no taxes, and received a $31 million rebate check from Sacramento. 

California isn’t alone. A 2003 study by Citizens for Tax Justice (CTJ) found that between 2001 and 2003, 232 of America’s largest corporations routinely under-reported their earnings to avoid paying state taxes. In 71 percent of the cases CTJ studied, these mega-corps managed to avoid state taxes entirely “despite telling their shareholders they made $86 billion in pre-tax U.S. profits.” The top California state-tax avoiders fingered by CTJ included Toys ‘R’ Us, AT&T, Boeing, Eli Lilly, Merrill Lynch and ITT Industries. 

The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy estimated that, had these companies paid the average 6.8 percent corporate state tax, America’s towns and cities would have had an additional $67 billion to lavish on fire-fighters, police, teachers and hospitals over the three-year period. Instead, in state after state, corporate taxes have steadily declined over the past 30 years. 

Everybody who reads the business section knows that U.S. banks and oil companies are having banner years. But where are the stories on how much of their record profits these corporations contribute to the upkeep of the Golden State? In tough financial times, there is no excuse for protecting the identities of corporate tax-scofflaws. There should be public disclosure on which corporations are paying their fair share and which ones are shirking their public duty. It’s time for a full, public accounting. 


Gar Smith is editor emeritus of Earth Island Journal and associate editor of Common Ground magazine.?

COMMENTARY Teachers Need to Hear Views of All Parents By JULIE HOLCOMB

Friday May 13, 2005

I’ve been the recipient of responses to a “Letter to BUSD Teachers” written by me in collaboration with other concerned Berkeley parents. The letter has been widely circulated among parents and teachers, and has been sometimes forwarded with an attachment on teacher compensation not authorized or endorsed by the parents originally involved. In all cases it has provoked discussion. Following an event organized by the Berkeley Federation of Teachers (BFT) and billed as an Informational Meeting, which many parents found to be intimidating, and where they were thanked for coming out to show support when many came with questions and comments and were not prepared to offer support for the BFT positions, we felt it was necessary to offer an opportunity for parents to express dissenting views. 

While parents who do unequivocally support the union and would support a strike feel very free to express that view, teachers are entitled to know that there are also very many parents who do not support the union this time, and would not support a strike, but these parents do not feel as free to express their opinions. Many parents have said that they support the letter’s opinion, but would be uncomfortable signing it because of expected recrimination or “political backlash.” Although the vast majority of communications I’ve received in response to the “Letter to BUSD Teachers” have supported the position expressed in the letter, and many others have been thoughtful in their uncertainty or respectful in stating their difference of opinion, there have also been uncivil, extremely hostile and even threatening messages. In a community that so highly values free speech and the right of dissent, this should be troubling to us all. 

In Becky O’Malley’s editorial of April 8, she wrote of parents who had written to the Berkeley Daily Planet to express their disagreement with the work to rule campaign in the schools, who were “afraid to let their names be used for fear of reprisals against their kids.” The Berkeley Federation of Teachers should publicly state that intimidation or any kind of reprisal against any child for a parent’s political views would constitute unethical and unprofessional behavior. They should assure parents that they neither need nor wish to advance their cause by such intimidation and would not tolerate any such action against a vulnerable child. 

I am certain that not one of the teachers at my children’s school, Rosa Parks, would for even a moment consider withdrawing support from any child for any reason, certainly not in retaliation for a political difference with a parent. They are not only talented and dedicated professionals, they are people of good will and high moral standards. They actively teach and model compassion, respect and tolerance. I would hope and expect that this is true of all Berkeley teachers. 

Not supporting the union’s position doesn’t make a parent “anti-teacher,” “antiunion,” or “anti-working people” any more than opposition to the war on Iraq is “anti-American,” or constitutes “giving aid and comfort to the enemy.” To label those who’ve endorsed this letter that way is unfair and totaling misleading. The real message that teachers need to hear is that even many parents who are passionately dedicated to public education and hold teachers in the highest regard just cannot agree with the union this time. A large number of these parents devote many hours to active support of their schools and teachers. Some of us, myself included, have never crossed a picket line. We just want to emphasize that the teachers need to take a broad view of their interests, and that such a view should include the fiscal solvency of the school district and the context of an economic downturn in which this is taking place. We have deep concerns about how this dispute and/or a strike could affect the passage of BSEP and Measure B in 2006, which will require a concerted and united effort by parents, teachers, and community supporters and is by no means assured. Teacher layoffs and dramatically increased class sizes would be disastrous for us all. 

This is not any kind of organized opposition to BFT or support for the district. No one is planning any rallies to express this point of view. We just think the teachers have a right to hear from all parents, and since Barry Fike has many times repeated that he has only heard from supporters (not true) we felt we had to go straight to them. It doesn’t serve the interests of the teachers for them to have a nimpression of parent opinion skewed by suppression of all but one point of view. Free speech is more than an individual’s right to expression, it is our community’s safeguard against tyranny of any kind from any quarter. It’s an essential part of ongoing collective research into democratic solutions to complex problems, which will always involve diverse understandings of personal and community interests. 


Julie Holcomb is a printer and Rosa Parks parent. 



COMMENTARY Deal Fairly With Those Who Teach Your Children By PAM DREW

Friday May 13, 2005

Berkeley has always been a town which valued education at all levels. We show our support in myriad ways. With the possibility of a teacher strike in this community within the next six months, now is the time to support those whose everyday job is to teach our children. Whether we have school-age children currently or not, we recognize that the entire community has a stake in fostering literacy, numeracy, creativity, and citizenship among other good things in our young. Teachers who are valued by the community are teachers who project positive values in every word and gesture. Teachers pour their love into their teaching. They give the community their working lives and expect respect for their labors and reasonable compensation in return. 

In this fiscally tight era for all things benefiting the commonwealth, we are beginning to realize that starving government in general of taxes means starving the schools in particular. When you don’t take enough money in, the children, innocent and disenfranchised, do not get enough out. In the past three or four decades depriving the California public schools of enough state revenue to deliver excellent educational services has become institutionalized. Berkeley citizens turned to a parcel tax (BSEP) to supplement the meager statewide support for public education. This tax has been largely successful due to the vigilance and the active oversight of the BSEP committee but has created the unintended consequence of a sporadic power struggle over who can rightfully control the funds and over the question of supplementation of existing programs, rather than filling in for shortfalls due to inadequate state funding.  

Even so, the conservative world view has infected even the Berkeley public schools, despite BSEP, and the wolf is at the door. The wolf is not the parents, nor the teachers, nor the administration, nor is it Gov. Schwarzenegger per se. It is the erosion of trust among all these stakeholders augmented by the intrusion of the image-making industry. The crises caused by the conditions of scarcity imposed from above can be handled if agreement on actual revenue and actual expense can be arrived at. The hard part is separating the opportunistic spin from reality. If you think that a casual reading of the Berkeley Unified School District’s defense of their position allowing a 0 or 1.2 percent cost-of-living-adjustment (COLA) for their teachers versus the union’s request for a 2 or 3 percent increase can equip you with the facts necessary to know who is right and who is wrong in the contract dispute, think again. 

The school district administration is a hierarchical bureaucracy headed by the superintendent. Most of the money decisions for the district are made on the basis of information provided to the school board by the bureaucracy even though the board works very hard to get a clear picture and votes accordingly. The entire present board has great budget acumen particularly residing in Ms. Riddle. However, even Ms. Riddle cannot invest the time to trace back all the data that is presented to her. Therefore, in the absence of real-time budgeting, and in the nearly complete reliance on central administration staff for input, decisions are necessarily influenced by the needs of image makers. It is the nature of the structure. The School Board, although constituted as an impartial independent group, act as the board of directors of the school district like the board of directors of a corporation. They, like those in any elected office, function as a combination of image makers, proponents of particular points of view, and impartial public servants working for the good of the whole. Although they themselves see themselves as entirely separate from the bureaucracy, the administration has such a lock on information that lay people on the board hardly have a chance from the beginning. There is often a conflict between fiscal responsibility, ambition, and charisma as you encounter in any CEO and board of directors. Leadership styles vary from Puritan frugality to flamboyant heedlessness to shrewd-eyed horse-trading. Any bureaucracy’s foremost priority is to protect itself, and the board’s first and foremost responsibility is to keep the district from state receivership and to promote the welfare of the district. Whatever image and priority regarding this welfare gains ascendancy in the boardmembers’ minds ultimately determines the outcome of this particular round of contract negotiation. If a fair cost of living adjustment for teachers wins out over whatever new project the district is undertaking, then teacher compensation and retention rates high in the priority list. A perfect example of the conflict between image and reality was the tenure of Jack McLaughlin, voted Superintendent of the Year when he was in Berkeley. The man was a PR genius. People loved him. After he left, the district found itself in a precarious financial position. Who knew? 

When Gov. Schwarzenegger passes the buck to the School Board and the School Board, acting on input from central administration staff, passes the buck to the teachers, then the union either takes it, negotiates a better settlement, or strikes. That is the union’s job. One intermediate step, work to rule, gives time for the mediation process to work or not. It gives time for all parties to plan for a strike and to contemplate the results of a strike. However, meanwhile, not knowing the true state of affairs with the budget continues for the public. Image makers elevate this not knowing to unknowability and outsiders have no other sources to rely on than what they read in the paper or get from their e-trees. No one in any group of stakeholders actually finds work-to-rule comfortable. Teachers historically want to teach their kids and to be left alone. They do not want to engage in PR campaigns; they do not want to add another layer of union meetings on top of the substantial number of meetings they must attend already. Their family values call for dinner at a normal hour and the money to buy the groceries to put on the table. 

Teaching, in the past, has been a profession by which a person could do meaningful work while maintaining access to middle class status. Teachers do not generally make off with compensation packages that are “fat” or unreasonable. The structuring of the salary schedule, an array of salaries arranged according to experience (steps) and education level (columns), with regular step and column raises gives predictability to the teachers’ finances so that they can plan their modest private budgets carefully, although they do not automatically get a raise every year as many people believe. Step raises come at intervals with experience within the district and column raises come as college courses beyond the baccalaureate and then the credential are completed. Besides, fully 25 percent of all BUSD certificated union members are hourly. These hourlies are not on the salary schedule. They get no column increases; mostly, if forced to remain hourly, they have absolute wage caps after one or two step raises with the exception of COLAs which have in the past been at a lower percent rate than their salary schedule colleagues. On the whole their compensation packages are probably less than 70 percent of the average salary schedule teacher’s compensation even for very senior teachers. Hourly teachers work at the Berkeley Adult School, Berkeley Independent Study, and as subs at almost all the Berkeley schools. 

The unpredictability of loss of wages due to a strike is the last thing hourly or salary schedule teachers want. Why strike? Partly to preserve the financial viability of teaching as a profession. The financial viability of teaching has already been eroded. If the teachers are the group required to absorb capricious governmental shortfalls, they will be shorted, again and again as long as legislators can still get re-elected by starving the end of the governmental food chain, the schools. When Gov. Schwarzenegger calls teachers and nurses special interests, he is partially correct. Teachers and nurses care about children and their welfare. They take special interest in children. Teachers and nurses seek to do meaningful work. Teachers and nurses do not share the traits of image makers either in the government nor in the corporations. They are not particularly aggressive. They are usually not Conan the Barbarian or body-builders in the traditional sense. They are mind-builders and body-builders in the non-traditional sense. They also care about their paychecks. This is neither shocking nor new. Teachers are supposed to care about their paychecks. If the schools are victimized everyone ultimately loses. If the top-down model of governance now firmly in place at BUSD victimizes the teachers, everyone loses. We are running neither corporations nor factories here but we are increasingly adopting the bureaucratic model of both. There is an alarming number of administrative vacancies at the moment. Those vacancies may be filled much like the present vacant federal judgeships will be filled although there is a renewed attempt to involve all stakeholders. There is increasing distance building between teachers and principals with central administration. Many of these conflicts boil down to “Who do you believe and what model do you endorse?” 

Another reason to strike is to cut through the thicket of obfuscation which constitutes district, state and national budgets currently. In the absence of a regular independent auditor function within the school district, we can only watch the fact-finding process unfold when the mediator between the union and the district declares impasse. Maybe some independently audited numbers will shed light on the situation then. Perhaps you yourself will get some answers. The question that continues to plague me is “Will we like the school system that remains?”  


Pam Drew is a 12-year math teacher at Berkeley Independent Study. She holds a bachelor’s degree in math (Phi Beta Kappa), a teaching credential from UC Berkeley, and a masters from UC Berkeley in education (math, science and technology). She received her last step raise eight years ago and has never received a column raise. 

COMMENTARY BUSD Employees Have No Confidence in District’s Fiscal DataBy GEN KOGURE

Friday May 13, 2005

I’m not going to get into a popularity debate with recent letter writers to the Daily Planet. I’m sure that the parents who take time to talk to me support the teacher actions while parents who are frustrated with work-to-rule will talk to each other. At first, I was taken aback by their claims of fiscal realities, but I shouldn’t have been surprised since the district has a full time public relations officer who has repeatedly used public funds to misinform parents about the budget. There’s a historic reason why teachers, clerical, and plant workers have no confidence in the district’s fiscal data: 

1) Despite repeated requests not to do so, the district always uses old (2003) data in negotiations or press releases. 

2) Misrepresentation of facts. We all know that 3 percent of the budget must be kept as a reserve and it is currently at 1.5 percent. The district claims in their propaganda that it must be at 3 percent next year citing the threat of county take over. The district continues to pull out this figure even though the 3 percent is supposed to be phased in over several years. A board member recently stated 2.5 percent as the target. So which is it? 2.5 percent? 1.9 percent? 2.9 percent? 

3) Budgetary shell games. At first they claimed their expenses had to take into account Arnold’s new retirement proposal, which would cost the district $700,000. Now that the proposal has been withdrawn, where did this money go? 

4) The district has been repeatedly excoriated by the Union and outside agencies for poor or non-existent internal controls. These included: 

a. Large numbers of out of district students with unverified addresses. 

b. Lack of a cohesive attendance plan and data that causes us to lose huge amounts of ADA funds from the state. 

c. Giving benefits to ineligible extended relatives or paying non existent employees. 

d. Repeated failures in producing any financial data based on reality. Case in point: several years ago the district did a blanket lay off of several hundred teachers in the district. In my department, half of us got laid off despite the fact that enrollment figures indicated that all of us would be needed. We were, of course, all rehired because we were needed, but only after going through multiple hearings with teams of lawyers. I’d like to know how much time and money was wasted on this process when most fourth-graders could answer the question, “If I have 90 students and there are 30 students in a class, how many teachers do I need?” 

5) Almost anyone who has worked for the district will give you a story of the district’s financial ignorance. Errors in pay checks are commonplace and uncountable, one of my colleagues was vastly overpaid and he repeatedly went to payroll to have it corrected. Finally, payroll responded, “here you figure it out and tell us what we should be paying you.” That’s fiscal control. This year I was part of a mathematics curriculum program funded by the NSF. After coming to an agreement with a generous 10 percent overhead/profit, the district tried to overcharge the program by $16,000. Once again, the district was making up numbers out of thin air and they had to be reminded of the actual figures involved. 

I understand that parents were surprised by the suddenness of work-to-rule, and I also realize that work-to-rule is affecting everybody: students, parents, teachers, clerical staff, the administration, and the last thing we want is to strike, which would be devastating for all involved. These actions, however, aren’t meant to leverage public support against the district’s paycut—they are directed at the district and are a consequence of the districts’ unwillingness to bargain in good faith and with truthful fiscal figures. Teachers take on a variety of unpaid and donated duties, ranging from administrative, supervisory, and organizational duties, which the district has increasingly relied on in the past several years. Interestingly, the first offer in three years, a 1.2 percent cost-of-living increase, only came on the table after the teachers instituted work-to-rule. 

Members of the public might believe that the district wouldn’t cut health benefits if they had the money, but I’d like to remind everyone that this is the same district that let teacher salaries slide to the bottom by the late ‘90s. It was only by standing up and protesting that we got back to the median salary level, which has since slipped to the bottom third. I would also remind the public that this is the same district that fired hundreds of teachers, only to rehire them, because they really didn’t care if they wasted money on legal fees or destroyed teacher morale. 

The major demands of the teachers are simple. Class size maximums and the request not to cut teacher pay if money actually materializes. The public doesn’t have to take sides, but I’d expect them to at least ask the district to bargain in good faith and with accurate numbers. 


Gen Kogure is a teacher Berkeley High School. 


Column: Undercurrents By J. DOUGLAS ALLEN-TAYLOR

Friday May 13, 2005

For the last two years, there has been mounting anger in Oakland over the rule of Oakland School Administrator Randy Ward, who was appointed by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell after the California legislature seized the Oakland Unified School District from Oakland residents and taxpayers. 

(Note: the Oakland schools were not seized from the school board and Superintendent Dennis Chaconas—the school board only set policy as the elected representatives of the real owners: Oakland residents—and the superintendent only ran the schools as the hired employee of the school board. That’s a small lesson in basic civic government that seems to always get forgotten in discussions of Oakland’s recent school problems.)  

In any event, back to Mr. Ward, the closing down of some neighborhood schools entirely and the escalating policy of turning over others to charter organizations by the state-appointed administrator has been particularly galling, leading many Oaklanders to the understandable belief that there will be only a shell of a district left when—and if—Oakland Unified is finally turned back over to the actual people who are providing the children and footing the bills. In recent weeks—particularly after a group of demonstrators were arrested during a sit-in at Ward’s office while demanding that Mr. O’Connell come to Oakland to meet with Oaklanders about the school situation—that anger has spread out to include the State Superintendent himself. 

Last month, that anger came to a head when Mr. O’Connell came to Oakland to present his long-delayed multi-year recovery plan to the local public at Oakland Tech High. The crowd booed Mr. Ward when he was introduced. They booed Mr. O’Connell through much of the first part of his presentation. They booed Oakland City Council President Ignacio De La Fuente who for some unaccountable reason (since neither he nor City Council have anything to do with the running of the schools) was up on the auditorium stage to make a short presentation himself. At one point, the crowd even booed the moderator. 

Given that anger, and given Oakland’s history of social action, one has to wonder why there has been no serious effort so far mounted to topple Mr. Ward and return control of the schools back to Oakland. 

(And please, please don’t tell me that can’t be done simply because state law requires California to run Oakland’s schools. Some of us who are still around lived in an era when elderly African American women had to get off the Trailways buses along the side of the road and urinate in the woods because the laws in some states forbade them to use the public restrooms that were reserved for white folk. We lived long enough to see those laws fall. Laws are written by people. Laws can be rewritten, or erased altogether, by those same people, or by others succeeding them. It happens pretty much every day.) 

The problem is not that the state takeover of the Oakland schools is “the law.” The problem is a huge but largely-undiscussed fissure dividing the likely three-way coalition that, if it came together, would have the potential to overturn state rule. 

That three-way coalition would logically be made up of Oakland teachers, parents of Oakland schoolchildren, and a broad, what we might call “Home Rule activist” collection of progressives, school board and PTA members, and neighborhood folks who have been active in supporting Oakland’s schools. 

And, in fact, that coalition has come together on some issues surrounding Mr. Ward’s administration, particularly in opposing the closure or charter conversion of some neighborhood schools. In these instances, the interests of the three parts of the coalition are identical—teachers, parents, and “Home Rule activists” all want most, if not all, of Oakland’s neighborhood schools to remain open and not converted to charters. 

But that unity doesn’t hold when it comes to the steps that are needed to restore Home Rule to Oakland schools under the existing school takeover law. 

As pointed out in last week’s UnderCurrents column, the takeover law (SB39) calls for return to local control when “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.” 

The budget of the multiyear financial recovery plan—which was released last month by Mr. O’Connell when he came to Oakland Tech—is based in large part on the district reaching a contract agreement pretty much along the lines of the terms offered this year to the Oakland Federation of Teachers by Mr. Ward. And so, following last month’s Oakland Tech appearance by Mr. O’Connell, Oakland Advisory School Board President Gary Yee huddled on the sidewalk outside Tech with OFT President Ben Visnick, urging him to get his union members to sign that contract. 

“If the teacher contract is signed, the state superintendent will have to certify that compliance with the recovery plan is probable, and we can apply to move forward with restoration of local control,” Mr. Yee argued. “The teacher contract is the last barrier. Just do it for one year.” 

The implication was clear, though never stated by Mr. Yee, that once it regained its power, the OUSD School Board would revisit the teacher contract—not to unbalance the district’s budget, which would immediately trigger a state re-seizure—but to work with the teachers union to find creative ways both to keep the budget balanced and to restore some of the concessions the teachers gave up. 

But Mr. Visnick disagreed. His responsibility is to his own union members, and, understandably, he’s reluctant to set what he would call “bad” precedents in this year’s contract on the hope that they might be reversed by the school board at some later point. Of particular concern, he pointed out, was the contract proposal provision formally capping the district’s contribution to teacher health care benefits. With rising health care costs, Mr. Visnick argued, that would quickly eat up any future pay raises granted by either the state or the OUSD Board. He also thought that the district should operate without the usual state-mandated 3 percent reserve in order to fund a teacher pay raise. Mr. Visnick and the OFT Executive Committee lobbied union members against Mr. Ward’s proposed contract and late last month, those union members voted 5-1 to reject it. 

No contract, no state superintendent certification, no quick return to local control. No coalition. 

This is not a criticism of either position, either that proposed to the teachers by Mr. Yee (sign the contract and take your chances with a local school board next year) or that proposed to the teachers by Mr. Visnick (don’t set a precedent that might not be able to be overturned). In this instance, both men were consistent, arguing on principle, and representing the interests of their particular constituents. Hard to argue against that. 

But it is equally hard to see a movement to return local control to Oakland schools without the support of the Oakland Federation of Teachers. Perhaps in recognizing their legitimate differences, the teachers, Oakland parents, and the collection of “Home Rule activists” can figure out a way to overcome those differences and unite against those who they all agree are the common enemy—the non-Oaklanders who have taken over Oakland’s schools. 



Friday May 13, 2005

Major Crime Spree 

Berkeley police arrested two men late Tuesday morning after a vicious crime spree that left one man in critical condition. 

Police were summoned to the 1300 block of Virginia Street at 11:22 a.m. Tuesday responding to a report of a street robbery in progress. 

Before officers arrived, the two suspects forced their way into a house on the same block, where they shot and critically wounded the homeowner during the course of an attempted robbery. 

The pair then headed to Chestnut Street, where they attempted to hijack a car, pistol-whipping the driver before fleeing to the 1500 block of Belvedere Street, where one pulled a pistol as they carjacked a station wagon driven by a 58-year-old woman. 

The woman escaped on foot without injury, Okies said. 

Arriving officers spotted the woman’s station wagon with the two men inside and gave pursuit. The suspects turned onto Hearst Avenue. When they attempted to execute a fast turn eastbound onto Grant Street, they slammed into a parked car, where officers arrested them and recovered a pistol from the stolen car. 

The two suspects, Sherman Fuller Bailey, 53, of Richmond, and Ollie Jean Pope, 49, of San Pablo, were charged with robbery, attempted carjacking, carjacking and two counts of assault with a deadly weapon. 

The gunshot victim was rushed to Highland Hospital, where he was reported in critical condition, said Officer Okies.  

Robbery, Sex Assault 

Police in Berkeley and Oakland are seeking a young man who picked up a handicapped woman in Oakland, then robbed her and forced her to perform oral sex on him before dropping her off near James Kinney Park at Seventh and Virginia streets at 1 a.m. last Saturday. 

Officer Okies said the suspect was a thin brown-haired Caucasian man in his 20s who was wearing an orange shirt and driving a white van. 


Stabbed and Kidnapped 

Responding to calls that a club-wielding man was dragging a woman down the 1200 block of Evelyn Avenue, Berkeley police arrived on the scene shortly after 1 p.m. Tuesday. 

They found a 41-year-old man armed with both a golf club and a baseball bat, said Officer Okies. 

The suspect’s 25-year-old companion said the man had stabbed her earlier in the day, and the suspect was booked on charges of assault with a deadly weapon, kidnapping and domestic violence. 

As the officers secured their prisoner, the woman fled, said Officer Okies. 


MP3 Robbery 

A large, heavily built teenager robbed a 25-year-old man of his MP3 music player as he was walking in the 1800 block of Martin Luther King Jr. Way just before 5 p.m. Tuesday. 


Another Robbery 

Berkeley police are seeking the very tall bandit who robbed a 69-year-old man of his jewelry and cash shortly after 10 p.m. Tuesday in the 2900 block of Mabel Street. 

The victim described the suspect as an six-foot six-inch African-American man in his 30s who weighs about 300 pounds. He was last seen fleeing in a light-colored 1980s model Chevrolet sedan, said Officer Okies. ›

Fire Department Log By RICHARD BRENNEMAN

Friday May 13, 2005

Bedroom Blaze 

Berkeley firefighters were called to a home at 1314 Bayview Place Friday evening, arriving on the scene at 8:20 to find one of the two-story home’s bedrooms ablaze. 

Deputy Fire Chief David Orth said the fire was controlled within 10 minutes. Structural damage was estimated at $50,000. 

The owner had left the dwelling minutes before the flames erupted. Orth said the blame for the outbreak has been placed on a faulty power strip.›

‘Kimberly Akimbo’ Showcases Joy Carlin By KEN BULLOCK Special to the Planet

Friday May 13, 2005

Joy Carlin, a Berkeley woman of the theater, has found a solution to the age-old complaint that there’s a shortage of roles for mature actresses. She’s playing a 16-year-old, the title role of Kimberly Akimbo, a play by David Lindsay-Abaire, at the San Francisco Playhouse near Union Square through May 21. 

Kimberly obviously isn’t the typical teenage role. This is no feat of nontraditional casting. She’s afflicted with progeria, an extremely rare condition that accelerates aging. That is, Kimberly looks much older than her age. Progeria sufferers typically die at age 13; by the time they’re 6 or 7, they are physiologically older than their parents.  

Yet Kimberly’s milieu is more eccentric than she is. On Bill English’s excellent set—oblique, revolving flats to the wings of an oblique skyline (it’s Bogota ... New Jersey)—the characters around the central one spill out. There is frantic father Buddy (Clive Worsley) and hypocondriac mother Pattie (Susi Damilano, who is also producing director of The Playhouse), chatting away on tape for the benefit of her unborn baby; Aunt Debra (Deb Fink, a Berkeley native and Central Works stalwart), very New Jersey and constantly scamming and Jeff (Jeremy Kahn), Kimberly’s schoolmate, the odd one out, seemingly a regular kid, but with a fetish for anagrams (he’s the one who comes up with “Kimberly Akimbo”). 

Kimberly presides over the whole scene like a stoic mother or grandmother figure. Aunt Debra could easily pass for her daughter. And she and her contemporary Jeff should have tastes more than a generation apart—if looks could tell. (One of the backstage jokes of the production is that Jeremy Kahn’s playing it young, too—he’s really 18.) 

The ensemble at large seldom mentions Kimberly’s condition, but it percolates through each complicated situation and the going gets complicated, though never hard to follow. In many ways what Lindsay-Abaire has fashioned is a play that runs the gamut of genres, from what would seem to be a character sketch or tear-jerker about a young person facing a premature end, through eccentric family milieu-drama (with added perk of the kid being the mature one), into a kind of con or heist suspense piece. At one point, Jeff and Kimberly dress up as grandmother and grandson to see a bank manager in furthering one of Aunt Debra’s endless run of scams. It’s a coup, and the audience realizes just how profoundly their view of things has been altered, even if just temporarily, and on stage. And it is finally a first love (doomed love?) tale, but a completely unconventional one. 

It’s a good cast, with the women particularly outstanding. Susi Damilano and Deb Fink are charming and very funny in their wacked-out personae. Joy Carlin must not only belie her seniority in regards to her cast-mates, but also the direct expression of her experience as seasoned actress and director, which would cut the suspension of disbelief by itself. 

Kent Nicholson is the “new works director” at TheatreWorks on the Peninsula, and has directed for the Magic in San Francisco, recently for Shotgun (where he directed Dog Act) and for many other Bay Area theaters. He’s an accomplished and sensitive director. With a tour-de-force for both lead role and the whole, genre-jumping play at hand, he’s chosen to take it right down the middle, integrally, following the action and the milieu out as it comes, with the overriding situation always apparent, even if not in full view every moment. This is a humanistic approach, rather than taking the tour-de-force by the horns. 

Part of the point of the play seems to be the constant tension between the normal and the abnormal, and who’s to say which is what, and what it does to the most thoughtful person to try to define normalcy and their relation to it (especially in the midst of this kind of New Jersey “domesticity”!) 

Kent’s got the horse ahead of the cart. In an ideal production, I’d like to see a little more theatricality, something missing from our theaters these days. Not necessarily Eccentrism, to pull a Russian style of modern theatricality out of the hat, though the word fits. Kent knows this idiom, and has used it to good effect. 

Kimberly Akimbo, in any case, is densely packed, and gives the audience a full evening—just as it’s given Joy Carlin the role of a lifetime—the role of a short life with the wisdom of age. 


Kimberly Akimbo will be performed at 8 p.m. Wednesday-Friday and at 3 and 8 p.m. Sundays through May 21 at the San Francisco Playhouse, 536 Sutter St. $30. (415) 677-9596, or reservation@sfplayhouse.org.›

Apfelbaum Comes Home for ‘Jazz on Fourth Street’By IRA STEINGROOT Special to the Planet

Friday May 13, 2005

This weekend’s ninth annual Jazz on Fourth Street Festival marks a musical homecoming for multi-instrumentalist Peter Apfelbaum. 

The Berkeley native last played here in February 2002 at Freight and Salvage with the same kind of small group he will be bringing to Fourth Street this Sunday. He is best-known locally, though, for his creation of the Hieroglyphic Ensemble, a 17-piece group he founded in 1977 when he was 17 years old. At one time or another, this group was the incubator for such now-renowned players as pianist Benny Green and saxophonists Craig Handy and Joshua Redman, among others. Since 1995, most of his baton-wielding has been with smaller Hieroglyphic Sextets and Septets and, since 1998, Brooklyn has been his home base. 

Beginning as a precocious teenager, Apfelbaum’s career reads something like a moebius strip. “All its further destinies are prefigured in its origin,” as Franz Rosenzweig put it. 

Peter was leading a big band, writing music and performing on reeds, keyboards and percussion at an age when most musicians are still mastering the rudiments of their axes. At the same time he was still learning. He names Sun Ra, the Art Ensemble of Chicago and Pharaoh Sanders as early and important influences. He studied with John Tchicai when the great Danish saxophonist and free jazz pioneer was teaching at Davis in the early ‘90s. By 1987, the critics were paying a lot of attention to the Hieroglyphic Ensemble. In 1988, the ensemble began performing with trumpeter and former Ornette Coleman collaborator Don Cherry, and was featured on his Multikulti album.  

At that time, the shape of jazz to come was like an unborn chick still trying to egg tooth its way through the hard calcium carbonate shell of ‘60s free jazz. All the innovation of Ornette, Cecil Taylor, Coltrane and Dolphy cried out for synthesis, but few knew what that synthesis would be like. For Apfelbaum, growing up in the ‘60s and ‘70s, listening and playing everything from jazz to rock to indigenous folk music to contemporary classical, the answer was to be a premonition of the music of the next quarter century. 

Jazz would take its place as the flagship of post-colonial culture, not borrowing from other musics in order to stay contemporary, but demonstrating that it already had refined the techniques necessary to make all these sounds and improvisational methods work together. 

As the Kabbalists say, Apfelbaum was already prepared and arrayed for the unification. The Hieroglyphic Ensemble was playing a polyrhythmic, improvised jazz, cognizant of the musical traditions of India, Africa, the West Indies, Latin America and Asia before the terms world music or world beat existed. Apfelbaum’s genius was not in appropriating, but, like any true jazz composer, synthesizing the possibilities that were around him and creating structures for improvisation. 

The term “hieroglyphic” arose because that is how the musicians in the band first described his notation. Yet the word remains fitting for this music since it contains multivalent references to Egypt and Africa; lost and refound wisdom; gnosis; and non-linear, instantaneous modes of communication such as symbols and emblems. 

His newest album’s title, It Is Written, continues to play with our concepts of knowing and learning. He told me that for him it had the suggestion of something always meant to be: kismet, fate, destiny, or b’shert, as the Yiddish has it. It’s the writing on the wall but in this case the tagger is the collective unconscious. Like jazz and African music, his compositions are grounded in what was his first instrument, the drums, unlike Western music which begins with the elements of chords, keys, scales and harmony. The songs have no fixed meanings. Instead they are oral/aural symbols which, hopefully, trigger associations in the minds of listeners. At the same time, this is a music of propulsive rhythms, high energy and fiery beauty. 

For a wonderful, al fresco introduction to this cutting edge music, catch the Ninth Annual Jazz on Fourth Street Festival, a benefit for the Berkeley High School Performing Arts Program and the Berkeley High Jazz Ensemble. This free event takes place on Sunday, May 15, from noon to 5 p.m. on Fourth Street in Berkeley, between Hearst and Virginia. 

The Peter Apfelbaum Septet, consisting of Peter Apfelbaum, tenor sax, keyboards and percussion; John Schott, guitar; Rachel Durling, violin; Jeff Cressman, trombone; John Shifflett, bass; Deszon X. Claiborne, drums; and Josh Jones, percussion will perform from 1:15 to 2 p.m. Also featured on the program are blues guitarist-vocalist-songwriter Chris Cain from 2:15 to 3 p.m.; and Son Montuno-style Cuban band Palenque from 3:10 to 4 p.m. Two Berkeley High School combos and the award-winning Berkeley High Jazz Ensemble will open and close the festivities. For more information call 526-6294. 




Editorial: Social Notes From All Over By BECKY O'MALLEY

Tuesday May 17, 2005

Well, I think we can safely say that the fast-track canonization of John Paul II is a sure thing now. Not only has the new Pope waived the waiting period, but the requisite miracle has occurred. Anna DeLeon, the pride of Immaculate Heart High School, who has arm-wrestled for months or even years with developer Patrick Kennedy, has brought him to his knees. Anna’s Jazz Island bar opened on Saturday night in Kennedy’s Gaia Building. It is the heir to a long line of struggles and failures by wanna-be impresarios who didn’t have the muscle to collect on Kennedy’s promise to devote the first floor of the building to some cultural use in return for an extra story or two of student apartments upstairs. What Anna brought to the party that earlier would-be tenants lacked: (1) a law degree from Boalt, a good match for Kennedy’s Ivy League law degree; (2) extremely good political connections from years of swimming in leftish waters; (3) quick wits; (4) incredible tenacity and general chutzpah.  

The struggle over the Gaia Building and the “cultural bonus” it received dates back to before the turn of this millennium. In the beginning, there was a controversy about whether the City of Berkeley should allow Kennedy to demolish a historic stable building, on the site from the turn of the last century, without doing a CEQA-mandated environmental impact report. I myself, when I was young and foolish, believed that I had Kennedy dead to rights over that one. He must have thought my threatened EIR lawsuit had some merit, because he agreed to donate several thousand dollars to an architectural history organization if I would drop it, which I did. The city planner who approved the city’s deal over the Gaia departed soon thereafter, and current planners have been heard to say that it never should have happened, but it did.  

The subsequent history—how nothing materialized to justify the cultural bonus for years—is a saga in itself. The building’s name, for those of you who are new to town, derives from the earth-mother in Greek mythology, a somewhat obscure reference for a building that looks like a cross between a Las Vegas casino and Turkish baths. The eco-feminist Gaia Bookstore, the putative original cultural tenant, went belly-up before it moved in. Then the Shotgun Players tried to turn the cramped and cave-like first floor space into a theater, but the project faltered when they couldn’t pay for finishing it out to code. 

Anna, a veteran of many rent control struggles, concocted a tight lease which says that she didn’t have to pay rent until 90 days after she moved in. At least, that’s the way she reads it. Evidently there was, shall we say, some difference of opinion about what it means, but her theory has prevailed. She’s in, hasn’t paid a cent of rent, and won’t have to until after the end of the summer slow season. 

The club takes advantage of the low ceilings, with a décor described by a mutual friend as reminiscent of New York’s Hotel Carlyle. Actually, it’s more The Carlyle Goes Hawaiian, thanks to an assortment of almost-real palm trees acquired at the Planet Hollywood auction. Ceiling conduits are disguised by paint; there’s a string of faux-grass-skirt tinsel over the bar. Originally the space lacked bathrooms (a real minus for a watering hole), but after some tough talking they’re in—down the hall and decorated in Early Gymnasium white tile and fluorescent lights, but in. There’s even a mop sink somewhere (I didn’t see it), the last detail required by code before occupancy. It materialized in a hurry when Mayor Bates wanted to schedule an event in the space a few weeks ago. 

The politicos, including Bates and his lovely Assemblymember, were out in force at Saturday’s opening. The Bates-Hancocks came in about 9:30 p.m. with their friends the Wozniaks. (Evie Wozniak, Gordon’s wife, was once Loni Hancock’s appointment secretary. Small world, isn’t it?) From the progressive end of the dais, new councilmember Max Anderson was there. Peralta Community College District Trustee Alona Clifton was front and center.  

And of course, the jazz artists were in attendance, hoping that the club would be a real venue, a source of gigs to come. The Legendary Miss Faye Carol, Berkeley’s blues and jazz queen, was there, as was equally legendary hard bop saxophonist Hal Stein, who sometimes plays at Downtown, the chi-chi restaurant in a restored historic building on Shattuck. 

At the party I chatted with the Planet’s neighbor Fernando A. Torres of La Peña, the cultural center which has survived for 30 years. He’s an original member of the collective which runs La Peña, and the publicity coordinator for its varied menu of events. He said that there had been some effort to persuade La Peña to move downtown, but that they’d decided to stay where they are now. He wasn’t enthusiastic about the concept of relegating the arts to a small designated downtown “arts district,” preferring to stay close to the audience in our lively South Shattuck neighborhood (also home of the Starry Plough and of Anna’s first club.). “Now we’ve got the Ashby Arts district,” he said enthusiastically. The Shotgun Players have bought the Ashby Stage theater, and more is happening there all the time without any “cultural bonuses” for developers.  

Can Anna’s turn sluggish downtown Berkeley into a real late-night music destination? Maybe. We’ll see what happens when she starts paying rent and construction begins on the next door Oxford parking lot, where we parked with some difficulty on Saturday. We wish her well. 


EDITORIAL Fighting Cal with a Rubber Banana By BECKY O'MALLEY

Friday May 13, 2005

One more time, at the risk of becoming a tedious scold, the Berkeley Daily Planet wants to go on record on behalf of the public interest in demanding that those who run the government of the City of Berkeley (manager, staff, attorneys, mayor, councilmembers….?) make full public disclosure regarding any deals they’re making with the University of California before they take the final vote on such deals. Oh, and we don’t mean in the Friday release of a Tuesday agenda. We mean long enough in advance of the vote that the public, including the press, has time to investigate the details of the deal and comment on their ramifications. It’s a cliché that the devil is in the details, but the average voter/reader might not appreciate how deeply the bad details can be buried in the public process. 

An example: Do you think your sewer fees are too high, and are you annoyed that they’re going up? Have you experienced one of the many recent failures in Berkeley’s collapsing sewer system, perhaps sewage overflowing in your very own basement? Do you realize just how much each and every property owner and renter in Berkeley is subsidizing the use of sewer services by UC’s huge and ever-growing population of students and employees?  

Well, if you’re not right on top of all this … stuff…, then perhaps you missed out on what seemed to be minor adjustments to the sewer fee proposal which the council adopted at its April 26 meeting. You’re not alone if you did: the Daily Planet missed them too, but eagle-eyed council watchers figured it out and tipped us off afterwards. 

Pay attention, now. This is arcane, and it’s tricky. The agenda released before the council meeting reported proposed language which was carried over from an earlier meeting and which was based on a report from the Public Works Commission derived from recommendations made by consultants who tracked the way other cities charge University of California campuses for services. Here’s the original: 

“Public agencies as defined in Government Code Section. 54999.1.(c) shall pay a sewer service charge based on each hundred cubic feet of water use per each residential or non-residential water account as defined in subsections A and B above at the rates established by City Council resolution in accordance with Gov Code Sec. 54999.3.” 

Seems plausible, even straightforward, right? They use the water, they pay the fees accordingly. 

But here’s the con—watch carefully. At the very last minute, a supplemental report was produced by city staff which changed the charging mechanism. If you look at the published summary of the meeting results, you’ll find it way down at the end. They added this language to the above: 

“…provided that the City Council may also by resolution permit alternative methods for payment of sewer service charges or other compensation in lieu thereof.” 

Did the council discuss this change? Are you kidding? Councilmember Wozniak (one of the council’s UC retirees) asked that it be moved to the consent calendar, and it passed without comment. Only Councilmember Worthington, who generally knows what deals are going down but feels powerless to stop them, voted no. It was his no vote, however, that tipped off the vigilant council watchers.  

With the benefit of 20-20 hindsight, we can now deduce that the umbrella UC deal was already in the works, and that this language change was the set-up for one of the major concessions, that slippery “compensation in lieu thereof.” In other words, a complacent council may, and probably will, vote once again to take some pitiful crumbs from the UC table in return for UC’s tremendous usage of the city’s services, subsidized by local taxpayers.  

Now then, let’s connect the dots. The rumors the Planet printed in the last issue, which we believe to be true, say that faceless negotiators on behalf of the city have already agreed to drop their threat to bill the city for several million dollars for all city services, including sewers.  

What did they get in return? A trifling increase in UC’s “compensation in lieu thereof”: a few hundred thousand dollars to be added to its disgraceful half-million or so in current free-will offerings. That’s supposed to cover everything, not just sewers. And local taxpayers will continue to subsidize the rest, at a price estimated by consultants at close to $11 million overall.  

The negotiations with UC, including the lawsuit challenging UC’s environmental impact report on its future development plans, were announced by the mayor’s public relations apparatus with great fanfare, and swallowed whole hog by the corporate media. Now that it’s clear that those faceless negotiators, whoever they are, are getting ready to take a dive. They have managed to turn Teddy Roosevelt’s famous slogan on its head. Instead of “speak softly and carry a big stick,” it’s now “roar fiercely and carry a rubber banana.” It will be interesting to see if the corporate press notices what’s going down. (Bless their hearts, the kids at the Daily Cal do seem to be on the case.) 



The Meteoric Career of Berkeley’s First Great Novelist By PHIL McARDLE Special to the Planet

Friday May 13, 2005

In 1900 the principal American novelists were Mark Twain, Henry James, Edith Wharton, and young Frank Norris. A glowing portrait of him in the early days of his success was written by Hamlin Garland, who called him, “a stunning fellow—an author who does not personally disappoint his admirers. He is handsome, tall and straight, with keen brown eyes and beautifully modeled features... a poet in appearance, but a close observer and a realist in fiction.”  

Norris’s star rose meteorically (three novels published in little more than a year—two potboilers, one classic) and offers an exceptional study of a genius overcoming obstacles to find himself. 

Frank Norris was born in Chicago in 1870. When his family moved to California, they lived in Oakland before settling in San Francisco. His father, a self-made millionaire, and his mother, a former actress, were accomplished people. Kenneth Rexroth has described Norris as “a California aristocrat if there ever was one.”  

In his teenage years, Norris wanted to become an artist, and his drawing and painting showed such promise that his parents decided he should study art in Europe. They sent him to London, to a school under the influence of Frederick Leighton, and then to Paris where he spent three years (1886 to 1889) as a pupil of Adolphe William Bouguereau, at the Atelier Julien. Bouguereau’s academy was as highly respected as the Ecole des Beaux-Arts where Bernard Maybeck and Julia Morgan studied. A few of his pictures still adorn the walls of old homes in Berkeley.  

The student world Norris experienced in Paris has been preserved in Trilby, a novel by George Du Maurier (filmed by John Barrymore as Svengali). Du Maurier portrays the Parisian art schools as a rowdy Victorian bohemia. Norris was delighted when he saw the stage version of Trilby by how it captured the flavor of “his” Paris. He told friends of seeing a Svengali-like character hypnotize a model, causing her to fall off the stand where she was posing. 

Hijinks aside, the academy students were absorbing serious professional attitudes. Bouguereau emphasized close observation, attention to detail, accuracy of line, and the need for hard work. He taught, as William Dillingham wrote, that a painter “who does not keep at his easel [is] in danger of losing not only his ability, but also his soul.” Bouguereau taught Norris a severe standard of self-discipline, one he lived by. 

Every student’s ambition was to paint a picture that would be admitted to an important salon, where success would make his name. As the subject for his salon picture, the masterwork which would end his apprenticeship, Norris chose “The Battle of Crecy.” It was to be a large genre piece, a panoramic picture of a battle fought in 1346. He did a huge amount of research in preparation, immersing himself in Froissart’s Chronicles, spending days in museums studying medieval armor and weapons, and making endless sketches. But when it came time to actually begin the picture, he discovered that what he had in mind exceeded his ability. It must have been terribly hard to accept that he could not do it. 

In the overheated atmosphere of the Parisian academies, such failure could be life-ruining. It drove some students to suicide. But Norris survived it. He resolved to abandon painting, gave the canvas on which he had intended to paint “The Battle of Crecy” to some of his friends, and made up his mind to find another career. 

In 1890 he entered the University of California at Berkeley as a freshman with the intention of becoming a professional writer of fiction. He approached the university as though it were another Atelier Julien, a studio for teaching the art of writing.  

This was precisely not how the English Department saw itself. The head of the department, Charles Mills Gayley (for whom Gayley Road is named), said its purpose was to educate students and to expand knowledge by professional research. “Academic scholarship,” he wrote, “does not look with favor upon the attempt to stimulate or foster creative production.”  

Norris studied at Berkeley for four years, but there was never a meeting of minds between the man and the institution. According to his brother Charles, “Frank often asserted, and with considerable feeling, that in the English courses he took at the University of California—and he majored in English and French—he received no word of recognition, neither guidance nor helpful criticism. The years he spent there in attempting to equip himself for a literary career, he considered practically wasted.” The university might have damaged him as deeply as “impersonal forces” did some of the characters in the fiction he wrote later. 

Applying lessons from Paris, Norris decided, “The best way to study literature is to try to produce literature.” This he did, and working as hard as he had for Bougereau, he contributed stories and essays to student publications. Turning to the freelance market, he sold 12 stories to The Argonaut, The Overland Monthly and The Wave. On top of that, he began work on a novel, McTeague.  

The university environment did widen Norris’s knowledge. In Berkeley he discovered the writing of Richard Harding Davis, Kipling, and Emile Zola. Classes with Joseph Le Conte (another professor for whom Berkeley has named a street) introduced him to Darwinism. Zola’s “scientific” realism and Le Conte’s notions on evolution had a major impact on him. 

Norris left Berkeley in 1894, and after a detour to Harvard and a short trip to Africa, spent three years working as a journalist at The Wave, a small weekly magazine in San Francisco. This was his real apprenticeship. The editor gave him the freedom to test his powers and he responded by writing 120 articles and stories, as well as the 13-part serial, which became his first published novel, Moran of the Lady Letty. 


Moran (1898) 

Moran is a melodrama and employs all the clichés of the form, including huge reversals of fortune and cliff-hanging chapter endings. Its characters are cardboard, and its ramshackle plot seems to have been improvised from week to week. (The opening sentence suggests as much: “This is to be a story of a battle, at least one murder, and several sudden deaths”). It seems to have been written in the front part of Norris’s brain, far away from his deepest feelings and concerns.  

Ross Wilbur is shanghaied on the waterfront. A few days out from San Francisco, he helps rescue Moran Sternersen from a derelict vessel, the Lady Letty. She is described in Wagnerian terms as a “sea rover and the daughter of an hundred Vikings.” They fall in love. During their adventures, Wilbur rediscovers his Anglo-Saxon warrior ancestry. The principal villains are “wicked malevolent Cantonese.” The story ends with Moran’s death; on another derelict ship, she drifts through the Golden Gate and out of sight, presumably en route to a Viking funeral.  

Like The Perils of Pauline, Moran is sometimes inadvertently comic. Readers should be advised it employs language with racial overtones they may find offensive.  

In 1922, however, Hollywood resuscitated Moran as a vehicle for Rudolph Valentino, and the Wagnerian rhetoric was cast overboard. Ross Wilbur underwent a change of name and race, becoming “Ramon Laredo.” And Dorothy Dalton, the actress who played Moran, could never be mistaken for a Valkyrie. The film has wonderful stunts and lots of footage shot on the old San Francisco waterfront. 


Blix (1899) 

Blix is something completely different—an urban pastoral, a version of Norris’s own courtship of Jeannette Black. This material was close to his heart, and so the writing is truer and more readable than Moran. Condy Rivers, a journalist, courts Travis Bessimer (“Blix”). They roam San Francisco together, exploring the city, and falling in love. Condy dotes on Blix, enraptured by her cleverness and her physical being. She was a girl who “radiated health...and there was that cleanliness about her, that freshness, that suggested a recent plunge in the surf and a ‘constitutional’ along the beach...She was as trig and trim and crisp as a crack yacht: not a pin was loose, not a seam that did not fall in its precise right line...” 

Norris gave his painter’s eye free range. San Francisco has never been described with such appreciation. We are given lyrical panoramas and fine miniatures, such as this picture of the waterfront: “Ships innumerable nuzzled at the endless line of docks, mast overspiring mast, and bowsprit overlapping bowsprit, till the eye was bewildered, as if by the confusion of branches in a leafless forest.” 

But this is not a perfect novel. It has a major cringe factor—too many of the conversations between Condy and Blix vacillate between insipidity and foolishness. They are embarrassing. Nevertheless, Blix established San Francisco as a great city for romance. 

Reader, he married her. 


McTeague (1899) 

McTeague is, as it were, Norris’s written salon piece—the book that marked the end of his literary apprenticeship. It was promptly recognized by his peers and William Dean Howells called it “a solid contribution to American literature.” But it is a singular kind of classic, almost unrelievedly grim and harsh.  

The arc of the story is simple: we follow the life of McTeague, an American Everyman, living on Polk Street in San Francisco, from his days of prosperity to his bitter end, as a criminal lost in Death Valley, soon to die of thirst. As we follow McTeague’s downfall, we see his wife, Trina, deranged by avarice, and his one-time friend, Marcus Schouler, consumed by hatred of him. We see how McTeague comes to murder each of them.  

These events unfold in clear, economical prose which has a firm narrative movement. The writing is not in the least sentimental; emotional passages suit their occasions. Everything is in perfect proportion. Dialogue is lifelike and convincing; dialect speech sounds right in the reader’s ear. Descriptions bring places alive in the mind’s eye. The artistry is superb, but under Zola’s influence, it is also merciless.  

McTeague shocked many of its readers. The first novel set in California which was not an optimistic romance, it looked at violence in our slums without blinking: “Trina lay unconscious, just as she had fallen under the last of McTeague’s blows, her body twitching with an occasional hiccup that stirred the pool of blood in which she lay face downward. Toward morning she died with a rapid series of hiccups that sounded like a piece of clockwork running down.” This style of honesty led Erich von Stroheim to make the film version, Greed, in 1923. 

It is astonishing that Norris should have published three novels of such different quality in little more than a year. To achieve this, he had to overcome his failure in Paris, the philistinism at Cal, and killing deadlines at The Wave. He “kept to his easel” and saved his soul. He had reason, as Hamlin Garland remarked when they met, to feel “confident of the future.”  

He went on to write two more masterpieces before his premature death in 1902. In The Octopus, he gave us an archetypal story of the West in which railroad interests attempt to subjugate wheat farmers economically (think Microsoft and small software companies). In The Pit he presented an unprecedented view of stockmarket speculation and introduced us to the trophy wife. 

Norris died at the age of 32, following an appendix operation, before writing The Wolf, the last novel in his planned “trilogy of wheat.”

Arts Calendar

Friday May 13, 2005



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 June 5. 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.  

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.  

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

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

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.  

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

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. Cost is $5. 525-9926. 

The Feverfew at 8:30 p.m. at Epic Arts, 1923 Ashby Ave. Cost is $5-$10.  

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.  


“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 during WWII, at the Richmond Museum, 400 Nevin Ave. 235-7387. www.rich 


“Delicate Strength: Glass” featuring art glass by Lee Meltier, Chris Roscoe and Kim Webster. Reception at 7 p.m. at 4th Street Studio, 1717D Fourth St. 527-0600.  

“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. 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, former U.S. 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 talks about her photographs of farmworkers at 2 p.m. at the Berkeley Public Library, 2090 Kittredge. 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.  

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

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.  

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

Young People’s Symphony Orchestra at 8 p.m. at Valley Center for the Performing Arts, Holy Names University, 3500 Mountain Blvd. 849-9776. 

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

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

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

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

Val Esway & El Mirage at 8:30 p.m. at Epic Arts, 1923 Ashby Ave. Cost is $5-$10.  

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

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 Ghost at 9 p.m. at Blakes on Telegraph. Cost is $8-$10. 848-0886.  

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.  

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. Cost is $6. 525-9926. 



Thatcher Hurd describes “Sleepy Cadillac: A Bedtime Drive” at 2 p.m. at Cody’s Books on Fourth St. 559-9500. 


“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.  

Albany Artists Works on display at Albany Community Center, 1249 Marin Ave. Reception from 4 to 6 p.m. 524-1577. 


Gallery Talk with Sculptor Bruce Beasley discussing his 45-Year Retrospective at 2 p.m. at the Oakland Museum of California, 10th and Oak Sts. Cost is $4-$8. 238-2200.  

Sarah Handler discusses the symbolic meanings of the “Chinese Canopy Bed: A Miniature House for Day Life and Conceiving Sons” at 3 p.m. at Berkeley Art Museum, 2625 Durant Ave. 642-0808.  

Poetry Flash with Sharon Fain and Ellery Akers at 7:30 p.m. at Cody’s Books. Donation $2. 845-7852. www.codysbooks.com 

Burl Willes and “Picturing Berkeley: A Postcard History” at 11:30 a.m. at Cody’s Books on Fourth St. 559-9500. 

Robert Bly reads from his second collection of poems “My Sentence Was A Thousand Years of Joy” at 2 p.m. at Cody’s Books. 845-7852.  


Jazz on 4th St. Festival from noon to 5:30 p.m., between Hearst and Virginia. Peter Apflebaum Septet at 1:15 p.m., Chris Cain at 2:15 p.m., and Palenque at 3:10 p.m. 

Berkeley Opera “Macbeth” by Verdi, with the UC Alumni Chorus at 2 p.m. at Julia Morgan Theater. Tickets are $15-$40. 841-1903. www.berkeleyopera.org 

Chamber Music Sundaes with musicians of the SF Symphony and friends at 3:15 p.m. at St. John’s Presbyterian Church, 2727 College Ave. Tickets are $7-$19 at the door. 415-584-5946.  

Baroque Etcetera “German Greats” at 4 p.m. at The Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd, 1823 Hearst St. Suggested donation $10. 540-8222. www.baroquetc.org 

Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin at 3 p.m. in Wheeler Auditorium UC Campus. Tickets are $42. 642-9988. www.calperfs.berkeley.edu 

Chancel Choir and Gospel Band “I Can Tell the World” at 7:30 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church of Berkeley, 2407 Dana St. Pre-concert talk at 7 pm. Free, donation accepted. 848-6242. www.fpcberkeley.org 

Ace of Spades Acoustic Series with the Lonelyhearts, Readyville, Nick Jaina and Paul Manousos at 1 p.m. at Mama Buzz Cafe, 2318 Telegraph Ave. Oakland. Free, all ages.  

Americana Unplugged: The Saddle Cats at 4 p.m. at Jupiter. 655-5715. 

California Friends of French Lousiana Music at 2 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Jam and dance at 5 p.m. Cost is $8-$10. 525-5054.  

Rockin’ the Food Bank, fundraiser for Alameda County Food Bank at 4 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $6. Bring non-perishable foods to donate to the Food Bank. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

Latin Jazz Youth Ensemble of San Francisco at 4:30 p.m. at the Jazzschool. Cost is $15. 845-5373. www.jazzschool.com 

Don Edwards, cowboy troubador, at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $18.50-$19.50. 548-1761.  

Impaled, 100 Suns, Suffocate at 4 p.m. at Blakes on Telegraph. Cost is $8. 848-0886.  

Monster Squad, Complete Control, The Abuse at 5 p.m. at 924 Gilman St. Cost is $6. 525-9926. 



Jill Scott reads from her collection of poems “The Moments, The Minutes, The Hours” at 7:30 p.m. at First Congregational Church of Berkeley, 2345 Channing Way. Tickets are $10. Sponsored by Cody’s Books. 845-7852. www.codysbooks.com 

Robert Elias reads from his new baseball mystery “The Deadly Tools of Ignorance” at 7:30 p.m. at Black Oak Books. 486-0698. www.blackoakbooks.com 

Poetry Express with Rashna at 7 p.m., at Priya Restaurant, 2072 San Pablo Ave. berkeleypoetryexpress@yahoo.com 


Winners of the Etude Club Young Artists Competition in concert at 1 p.m. at the Hillside Club, 2286 Cedar St. Free, reservations suggested. 559-3959. 

Contra Costa Big Band at 8 and 10 p.m. at Yoshi’s at Jack London Square. Cost is $10. 238-9200. www.yoshis.com 



Lariat Larry Stories and Rope Tricks at 6:30 p.m. at Kensington Branch Library, 61 Arlington Ave. 524-3043. 


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

“Sojourns” New works by Michael Shemchuk and Emily Payne opens at Cecile Moochnek Gallery, 1809-D Fourth St., and runs through June 26. 549-1018. www.cecilmoochneck.com 


James Morgan describes “Chasing Matisse: A Year in France Living My Dream” at 7:30 p.m. at Cody’s Books. 845-7852. www.codysbooks.com 


Kenny Washington at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. 841-JAZZ.  

Albany High School Jazz Band at 8 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $10, benefit for the Albany Music Fund. 525-5054.  

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

Mark Goldenberg, solo guitar, at 8 p.m. at Downtown. 649-3810. 

Sam Rivers Trio at 8 and 10 p.m. Yoshi’s at Jack London Square. Cost is $10-$16. 238-9200. www.yoshis.com 

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



Alexandra Pelosi describes “Sneaking into the Flying Circus: How the Media Turn Our Presidential Elections Into Freak Shows” at 12:30 p.m. at Cody’s Books. 845-7852.  

Peter Kramer introduces his new book “Against Depression” at 7:30 p.m. at Cody’s Books. 845-7852.  

Trina Robbins introduces “Wild Irish Roses” at 7 p.m. at Belladonna, 2436 Sacramento St. 883-0600. 

Rosemary Radford Ruether discusses “Goddesses and the Divine Feminine” at 7:30 p.m. at Black Oak Books. 486-0698.  

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

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


Calvin Keys Trio at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. 841-JAZZ. 

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

Valerie Troutt, nu-jazz and soulfusion, at 7:30 p.m. at La Peña. Cost is $5. 849-2568.  

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

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

Sonic Camouflage at 8 p.m. at Cafe Van Kleef, 1621 Telegraph Ave., Oakland, 763-7711.  

Falso Baiano, Brazillian jazz at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 848-8277. 

Old Bind Dogs at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $19.50- $20.50. 548-1761.  

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

High Like Five, Sap, Heros Last Mission at 9 p.m. at Blakes on Telegraph. Cost is $6-$7. 848-0886.  

Clairdee at 8 and 10 p.m. at Yoshi’s at Jack London Square, through Sun. Cost is $15. 238-9200. www.yoshis.comª

Berkeley This Week

Friday May 13, 2005


Urgent Asian Bone Marrow Drive The Asian population is under-represented in the National Bone Marrow registry, and you can help save a life by joining the registry. From 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the MLK Building, 4th Floor, UC Campus. 524-3676. 

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 8 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. 

Labyrinth Peace Walk at 3 p.m. at the Willard Community Peace Labyrinth on blacktop next to the gardens at Willard Middle School, Telegraph and Stuart Ave. Free and wheelchair accessible. 526-7377. 

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. 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. 

Count the Cost - End the War Candlelight Vigil and reading of the names of the dead, Iraqi and California citizens, at 7:30 p.m. at Civic Center Park. www.countingthecost.org 

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. 

Chaparral House Open House with a Calypso-themed party from 2:30 to 5 p.m. at 1309 Allston Way. 848-8774. 

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 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 at 3 p.m. at the colonnade at the NE end of the lake. 763-8712.  

“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.  


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, at 4 p.m. at Tilden Nature Area, in Tilden Park. Cost is $5-$7, registration required. 525-2233.  

Berkeley Partners for Parks Membership Meeting at 7:30 p.m. at the Corporation Yard, 1326 Allston Way. 649-9874. 

“How to Keep Your Immune System Strong” with LauraLynn Jansen at 7 p.m. at the Women’s Cancer Resource Center, 5741 Telegraph Ave. at 58th St. Free, but registration required. 420-7900, ext. 111. www.wcrc.org 

World Affairs/Politics Discussion Group for people 60 years and over meets Mondays at 10:15 a.m. at the Albany Senior Center, 846 Masonic Ave. Cost is $2.50 with refreshments. 524-9122. 

Berkeley CopWatch at 8 p.m. at 2022 Blake St. 548-0425. 


Morning Bird Walk in Wildcat Canyon Meet at 7 a.m. at the end of Rifle Range Rd. for a stroll to see the birds of wood and creekside. 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. 

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

Berkeley Garden Club “Container Gardening Through the Year” with Patricia St. John, landscape designer, at 1 p.m. at Epworth Methodist Church, 1953 Hopkins St. 524-4374. 

Strawberry Tasting at the Berkeley Farmer’s Market, from 2 to 7 p.m., Derby St. at MLK Jr. Way. 548-3333. www.ecologycenter.org 

“A Bicycle Journey Around the World” Dave Stamboulis introduces his new new book on his seven year journey at 7 p.m. at REI, 1338 San Pablo Ave. 527-4140. 

Small Business Class “The Financial Plan” from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Berkeley Public Library, Community Room, 2090 Kittredge St. Free but registration required. 981-6148. 

“Healing Therapies for Pain and Energy” with Lori-Ann Gertonson, DC , from noon to 2 p.m. in the Maffly Auditorium, Alta Bates Herrick Campus. 644-3273. 

“The Happiness Makeover: How to Teach Yourself to Be Happy and Enjoy Every Day” with Mary Jane Ryan at 7 p.m. at the El Cerrito Library, 6510 Stockton Ave. 526-7512.  

Berkeley Salon Discussion Group meets to discuss “Bring Back the Good Old Days” from 7 to 9 p.m. at the BRJCC, 1414 Walnut St. 601-6690.     

Introductory Buddhist Meditation Class at 7 p.m. at Dzalandhara Buddhist Center, in Berkeley. Donation $7-$10. For directions call 559-8183. 

Local Ledgends: Charlene Spretnak of the Women’s Spirituality Movement at 7 p.m. at Belladonna, 2436 Sacramento St. 883-0600. 

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

Brainstormer Weekly Pub Quiz at 7:30 p.m. at Pyramid Alehouse, 901 Gilman St. 528-9880. 

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

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


Walking Tour of Old Oakland uptown to the Lake to discover Art Deco landmarks. Meet at 10 a.m. in front of the Paramount Theater at 2025 Broadway. Tour lasts 90 minutes. Reservations can be made by calling 238-3234. 

Founder of Critical Mass, Chris Carlsson, on the success of this monthly convergence of cyclists at 7:30 p.m. at the Hillside Club, 2286 Cedar St. 527-0450.  

“Can Cultural and Environmental Destruction be Reversed?” A Perspective from Little Tibet with Helena Norberg-Hodge at 7 p.m. at the Ecology Center, 2530 San Pablo Ave. 548-2220. 

“The Cradle Will Rock!” a video of the WPA Theater in the 1930s at 7 p.m. at Berkeley Gray Panthers, 1403 Addison St. Light supper will be served. 548-9696. 

Balinese Music and Dance Workshop at 7:30 p.m. Cost is $60 for all five classes, $15 per class. Registration required. Gamelan Sekar Jaya, 6485 Conlon Ave., El Cerrito. 237-6849.  

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 meet at 9:30 a.m. at the Sea Breeze Market, just west of the I-80 overpass. 548-9840. 

North East Berkeley Association meets at 7:30 p.m. at the Northbrae Community Church, 941 The Alameda, for a Q&A with Mayor Tom Bates and City Council Members Betty Olds and Laurie Capitelli and Officer John Nuddlefield of the Berkeley Police Department. NEBA will hold elections at this meeting. Dues are $35 family, $25 for individuals. Only members are eligible to vote. The meeting is free and open to the public.  

Berkeley Peace Walk and Vigil at 6:30 p.m. at the Berkeley BART Station, corner of Shattuck and Center. www.geocities. 



Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board meets Mon., May 16 at 7 p.m. in City Council Chambers, Pam Wyche, 644-6128 ext. 113. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/rent 

Creeks Task Force meets Mon. May 16 at 7 p.m. at the North Berkeley Senior Center. Erin Dando, 981-7410. www.ci.ber 


Council Agenda Committee meets Mon., May 16 at 2:30 p.m., at 2180 Milvia St. 981-6900. 



City Council meets Tues., May 17, at 7 p.m in City Council Chambers. 981-6900. www.ci. 


Citizens Humane Commission meets Wed., May 18, at 7 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center. Katherine O’Connor, 981-6601. www.ci.berkeley.ca. us/commissions/humane 

Commission on Aging meets Wed., May 18, at 1:30 p.m., at the South Berkeley Senior Center. William Rogers, 981-5344. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/commissions/aging 

Commission on Labor meets Wed., May 18, at 6:45 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center. Delfina M. Geiken, 981-7550. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/commissions/labor 

Commission on Labor meets Wed., May 18, at 6:45 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center. Delfina M. Geiken, 981-7550. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/commissions/labor 

Fair Campaign Practices Commission meets Thurs., May 19, at 7:30 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center. Prasanna Rasaih, 981-6950. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/ 


Transportation Commission meets Thurs., May 19, at 7 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center. Peter Hillier, 981-7000. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/commissions/transportation