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Jakob Schiller:
          Berkeley High students Vonda Cunningham, 16, and Darius Johnson, 16, cross the street in downtown Berkeley while trying to control their umbrella after a rainy gust of wind turned it inside out during Thursday’s storm.
Jakob Schiller: Berkeley High students Vonda Cunningham, 16, and Darius Johnson, 16, cross the street in downtown Berkeley while trying to control their umbrella after a rainy gust of wind turned it inside out during Thursday’s storm.
 

News

Mayor Bates Weighs In on Landmarks Law By RICHARD BRENNEMAN

Friday December 02, 2005

The dividing lines in the political struggle over the future of Berkeley’s Landmarks Preservation Ordinance (LPO) grew clearer at Tuesday night’s City Council meeting when Mayor Tom Bates offered a 10-page “Draft for Discussion” of his own. It is not a draft of ordinance language, but simply a conceptual proposal. 

“[W]e are trying to find a new path that recognizes the importance of protecting neighborhood character but acknowledges that it is sometimes a different issue than historic preservation,” wrote the mayor. 

The mayor portrayed his proposal as an attempt to bridge two competing drafts of a revised ordinance—one endorsed by the Planning Commission, the other by the LPC. Lesley Emmington, an LPC member and an employee of the Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association, was skeptical. 

Emmington attended the Tuesday night council meeting, watching as Bates outlined his ideas, aided by a Power Point presentation. 

“This is a memorandum,” she said Thursday of the 10-page document Bates presented to fellow councilmembers Thursday night. “The mayor makes some proposals and some of them appear to be contradictory to our current ordinance, which the State Office of Historic Preservation has praised as a strong ordinance.” 

Bates sided with the Planning Commission on the contentious issue of “structures of merit,” a category of landmarking designation that recognizes significant original architectural features in buildings which may have altered over the years. 

Under the Bates proposal, the “structure of merit” designation would be eliminated, although existing buildings with the designation would be afford the same protections as landmarks, the one remaining building category. 

Bates proposed another category—perhaps modeled on Santa Monica’s “Points of Interest” designation—that would confer no special protection. 

The mayor also sided with the Planning Commission’s proposal that the LPC should not determine the level of environmental review required for designated buildings or districts, though requiring ZAB to take the LPC’s concerns into account. 

Emmington, however, felt that environmental decisions involving historic buildings are properly the concern of the LPC, the only city agency required to have expertise in historic issues. 

She reserved judgment on another of the mayor’s ideas—creation of a city historic preservation officer who would serve as staff to the LPC and, possibly, have say over “minor” alteration permits for designated landmarks. 

Another mayoral suggestion would have the city formally adopting the California Register of Historical Resources standard of architectural integrity—a key element in determining landmarking eligibility—leaving it open for the LPC to adopt other standards “unique to the City of Berkeley.” 

Bates also proposed that the city survey the city for historic buildings, starting with the expanded downtown area now being planned according to the terms of the settlement of the city’s suit against UC Berkeley over the university’s Long Range Development Plan (LRDP) through 2020. 

The basis of the survey would be a similar document prepared for the city’s 1990 Downtown Plan, which covered a smaller area than the new planning effort. 

Bates’s suggested areas for short term surveys included the city’s major current and potential development hotspots, including West Berkeley and the cities major corridors, including University, San Pablo, Shattuck, Telegraph and Solano avenues, as well as Gilman and Adeline streets and the Elmwood district. 

The mayor is pushing for increased commercial development in West Berkeley along the Ashby and University Avenue corridors and along Gilman streets, in part to keep car dealers—and the lucrative sales tax dollars they bring—from leaving city. 

Bates endorsed one of the most disputed proposals to emerge during discussions of the alternative ordinances—the so-called “Request for Determination” to see if a property is a potential landmark. 

Single family home and duplex owners could file a simple request, listing only the date of construction, the architect’s name and a photo of the building’s front facade. 

Once a request was filed, the LPC would have two consecutive meetings to initiate a designation. If the commission took no action or declined to initiate at the second meeting, members of the public would have ten more days to file their own petition. If no one did, no landmark petitions could be filed for the following year unless the owner filed for a demolition permit 

Owners of larger properties would have to file a more detailed historical assessment, following the same timetable. They could employ professional experts to carry out their study. 

If an initiation petition were filed, the LPC would have 70 days after the second meeting to schedule a public hearing on the designation and 250 days in which to act. If the property was not designated, under the Bates proposal no other application for designation could be filed for two years unless a demolition permit were sought. 

Critics fear the process could pave the way for developers to threaten structures commissioners or the public did not have time to investigate thoroughly. 

Other issues involve timelines, and whether or not a landmarking determination and subsequent review is or is not exempt from the state Permit Streamlining Act—the very law that prompted the proposed revisions. 

The council approved a Jan. 17 workshop meeting to discuss the conflicting proposals.Ã


Dissident Professors Criticize UC President By J. DOUGLAS ALLEN -TAYLOR

Friday December 02, 2005

UC Berkeley and UCLA professors who have called for an investigation into newspaper allegations of hidden university employee compensation practices say they are not satisfied with the university’s response. 

“A lot of faculty members are disturbed about the clumsy way in which the UC president’s office has handled this matter,” said Bruce Fuller, UC Berkeley Education and Public Policy Professor, who is the spokesman for his colleagues. “Thus far, the president’s office either doesn’t realize the severity of the problem, or else it’s consciously not being very open and honest in the way they are responding to the concerns.” 

Fuller added that he was encouraged by communications with members of a two-person investigative task force appointed by UC President Robert Dynes, including a possible expansion of the task force to include members recommended by professors. 

In an e-mailed statement sent out from Dynes’ office, university officials said, “We take very seriously our obligation to be publicly accountable and as transparent as possible. ... We expect that [the president’s] actions and reviews, along with the other steps UC has taken recently, will address the faculty’s concerns for objective and thorough assessments of our policies and practices. If subsequent reviews or audits appear warranted, though, then we will certainly consider them.” 

Amatullah Alajie-Sabrie, a spokesperson for the Coalition of University Employees (CUE) union that represents many of the university’s non-faculty employees, said that her organization was “encouraged that faculty members have stepped forward on this issue. The university needs to be questioned on the policies of overpaid administrators. We’ve been calling for such accountability and transparency in university actions for quite a while.” 

In addition, state Sen. Abel Maldonado (R-Santa Maria), vice chair of the Senate Education Committee, has called for committee hearings into the university compensation issue. 

The war of words between the university and the ad hoc professors’ group began after a series of articles appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle in mid-November, charging that many highly-paid university employees were getting additional compensation packages not publicly reported by the university. 

“In addition to salaries and overtime, payroll records obtained by the Chronicle show that employees received a total of $871 million in bonuses, administrative stipends, relocation packages and other forms of cash compensation last fiscal year,” the newspaper reported. It added that $599 million in last year’s “extra compensation” went to more than 8,500 employees “who each got at least $20,000 over their regular salaries.” 

The Chronicle articles came at a particularly sensitive time for the university, with regents simultaneously looking into seeking private funding to boost upper-level salaries and voting stiff fee increases for undergraduate, graduate, and professional school students. 

In response, Dynes’ office put up a web site to counter the Chronicle allegations. In addition, Dynes initiated an internal review of academic hiring practices by the university auditor, and set up a task “to consider ways to improve our public disclosure policies and internal practices regarding compensation and other personnel-related matters.” 

Initially, that task force consisted of UC Regent Joanne Kozberg of Los Angeles and former Regent and California Assembly Speaker Bob Hertzberg. No specific timetable was released to the public for a report for the task force. 

In part, the university’s website argues that senior management salaries throughout the university are below market, that many of the top earners at the university are getting funds from sources other than the state, and that “spending on administration is actually declining.” 

That hasn’t satisfied the petitioning professors. 

According to Fuller, “the hallway conversation and e-mail traffic” among UC Berkeley faculty members about the compensation controversy began with the publication of the Chronicle stories. Fuller said those conversations spread to colleagues at UCLA, who were upset over the controversy involving the investigation into allegations of conflict of interest by Provost and Senior Vice President M.R.C. Greenwood. 

Earlier this week, in a petition signed by 26 UC Berkeley and UCLA professors that was faxed to UC Board of Regents Chair Gerald Parsky, the ad hoc group of professors pointed at “a number of questionable decisions by the University’s highest administrators. Although it remains unclear which of these allegations—pertaining to secret compensation deals, bonuses, huge relocation allowances, and other perquisites—are factually true and reasonable, the evidence that is now in the public domain raises a number of disturbing issues to those of us who care deeply about the university’s credibility and long-term vitality.” 

The faculty members urged Parsky to “appoint a truly independent investigator to uncover which of these allegations are true, justifiable, or simply indefensible. With all due respect, what informed California citizen is going to believe that current or former regents are truly independent of this administration?” 

“We’re not prejudging the university’s actions on compensation,” Fuller said. “We want to have a panel of truly objective analysts with no ties to the Regents.” 

Fuller said that faculty members were concerned that both Kozberg and Hertzberg were too close to the university to be objective. He also decried the internal audit, saying that “this is a lot like asking Karl Rove to investigate CIA intelligence.” Fuller called the internal audit “somewhat of a joke.” 

But he said he is pleased that both Kozberg and Hertzberg “to their credit have each called us to indicate that they understand the issue and are not going to be biased.” 

Fuller said that Hertzberg, a recent unsuccessful candidate for Mayor of Los Angeles, “has asked us to suggest appointees to the task force. He didn’t make a commitment to appointing anyone we suggest, but he did say he would look at the names.” 

The professors in the ad hoc group are currently looking at possible appointees to suggest to the two task force members. Fuller said that the petition is continuing to circulate, moving to campuses beyond Berkeley and Los Angeles, and now contains close to 70 signatures.


Race Issue Dominates City Council By RICHARD BRENNEMAN

Friday December 02, 2005

Heated words and testy tempers at Tuesday night’s City Council meeting suggested that race remains very much an issue in Berkeley politics. 

The spark that raised temperatures was Councilmember Kriss Worthington’s resolution calling on councilembers to cast a wider net when making appointments to city commissions, committees and boards in order to reflect the community’s diversity. 

As part of the process, Worthington proposed semi-annual diversity surveys.  

Councilmember Gordon Wozniak declared that each councilmember’s benchmark shouldn’t be the city as a whole—except for the mayor, who is the only member elected on a citywide vote. 

Instead, he said, appointments should reflect each member’s district. 

“Councilmembers can appoint from the city as a whole,” said Darryl Moore, nothing that many members appointed commissioners from outside their district. 

“It sort of smacks of the quota system,” said Councilmember Laurie Capitelli, and, as for the survey he said, “I don’t like seeing more busywork for my staff.” 

But if there were to be a survey, he said, “you might want to include attendance,” meaning whether appointees actually attend their respective bodies. “Also longevity, and I also would like to see [which are] multiple appointments.” 

The decision on the appropriateness of appointments should be left up to voters, he said. 

“There is no quota system proposed,” said Worthington, who said the intent of his resolution was to send a clear indication that appointees should be included from all parts of the community. 

A survey by UC Berkeley students from Worthington’s district revealed that “Asians and Latinos were hardly represented at all, and African Americans were represented at levels below their percentage of the population. 

“The students who have done this have done us all an enormous favor by showing us that there were gaping holes in representation,” Worthington said. 

Councilmember Linda Maio said that while she thought there were flaws in the survey—particularly the issue of gender—she would support the proposal. 

Councilmember Betty Olds agreed with Capitelli, calling the proposal “silly,” noting that “there are certain people on the council who support this who haven’t filled all” their appointments. 

Her comments rankled Councilmember Max Anderson, who declared, “This speaks to the core of the city. At the end of the day it is what you do as councilmembers to contribute to the diversity of the city. It is a simple, fundamental proposition—while some of us may see this as something that doesn’t matter. But at the end of the day it’s important.  

“This is 2005. In 1950 people said they couldn’t find ‘quality’ black people, Latinos and Asians, but that’s a poor excuse today.” 

“If it’s to be meaningful,” Capitelli said, “we should include gender, sexual orientation, whether they’re white collar or blue collar, age—so let’s bring it all in.” 

Wozniak said “this is a rather flawed survey, It has a number of flaws.” 

When it came to students, he said, “There are some boards where I don’t think any student could qualify,” singling out the city’s loan and personnel boards, “where members were required to have real-world high-level public or private sector experience.” 

Besides, he said, “I have appointed four students and only one is currently serving.” 

Bates noted that that his appointments included many people of color. He also faulted the student survey. “It seems like a lot of symbols, of smoke and not much substance.” 

“If we were living in a world where race didn’t matter and age didn’t matter, it would be an issue,” Worthington said. “But every year Asians and Latinos have been frozen out of participation” as well as students, “and every year African Americans are under-represented.” 

Worthington offered to pull the item from the agenda so councilmembers could example the statistics for flaws. 

“I don’t see why we have to hold it over,” said Councilmember Darryl Moore. 

“It needs some work,” said Bates. 

Worthington then faulted Wozniak’s contention that students weren’t qualified for some boards, nothing that graduate students came to the Haas School of Business with significant real-world experience. “Students are heavily concentrated in [council] districts 7 and 8 yet district 8 [Wozniak’s] has had almost no students for years.” 

Bates tried to placate Worthington, to which the resolution’s sponsor shot back, “No one ever got elected to the Berkeley City Council saying they wouldn’t appoint any Latinos or Asians to the commissions.”  

“This whole thing is silly,” said Olds. “It’s degrading. 

“Emotions are high,” said Bates. “We need to work this over,” proposing to hold it over till the council’s Dec. 13 meeting. 

“I would like it to include sexual orientation, income” and other factors, Capitelli said. 

“Time out. Time Out,” said Bates. “We’re going to move on to the next item.” 

“I don’t want this to be held off because someone’s uncomfortable,” said Anderson, “If anyone needs any proof that [the issue of] race is alive and well,” noting that “clouding the issue with income” and other issues would hype the fact that “racist housing practices for years have concentrated African Americans in certain parts of this city. 

“So you’re putting off Darryl and me?” the council’s two African American members, “Lets talk about reality, about the policies that have brought us to where we are.” 

“There are also problems with gender and ageism,” said Bates. 

The item will be back on the agenda on the 13th. 

 

The survey 

The UC student survey revealed that while Asians and Pacific Islanders comprise 17.6 percent of Berkeley’s population, they make up 5.2 percent of commission appointments. 

Chicanos make up 9.5 percent of the city’s population, and only 4.2 percent of commission slots. 

African Americans make up 12.3 percent of Berkeley’s population and 10.3 percent of commission appointments. 

Students, a major pillar in Worthington’s constituency, comprise 20 to 25 percent of Berkeley’s population and 8.1 percent of appointments. 

 

Other action 

The council also: 

• Adopted on second reading the Ellis Act relocation fees to be paid by property owners to tenants who are evicted when rental properties are taken off the market. 

• Directed City Manager Phil Kamlarz to begin talks with the Clif Bar food company to find ways to help the firm remain in Berkeley. 

• Adopted a resolution opposing the execution of Stan “Tookie” Williams. 

• Voted to send to the planning commission for fine tuning a proposal to end the so-called “4+4=4 loophole” that allows developers to avoid providing low-income housing or fees by dividing projects up into apartment and live/work units. 

• Adopted a near relative policy barring supervisory nepotistic relationships in community agencies that receive city funding.f


Public Meeting Set for Stadium Plans By RICHARD BRENNEMAN

Friday December 02, 2005

Those with concerns about UC Berkeley’s major expansion plans for the Memorial Stadium area will be able to offer comments at Thursday’s scoping session on the project. 

The university is holding the session as part of preparing an environmental impact re port (EIR) on the stadium seismic upgrade and other development plans for the Southeast Quadrant of the main campus. 

The session will begin at 7 p.m. in Booth Auditorium of Boalt Hall, near the northwest corner of Bancroft Way and Piedmont Avenue. 

Chanc ellor Robert Birgeneau and other university officials formally unveiled the plans in a Nov. 10 press conference. A recently released initial study—the first step on the road to the final EIR—provides new details and timelines for the massive project, whic h will unfold over the course of six years. 

When completed, the project will compromise 14.2 percent of the 2.2 million square feet of new building planned in the university’s Long Range Development Plan for 2020, and account for 24 percent of the plan’s new parking space. 

One question they couldn’t answer then has been resolved: The new Memorial Stadium retrofit will be designed to handle a magnitude 8 earthquake on the San Andreas Fault and a magnitude 7.4 temblor on the Hayward Fault, said UC Media Relations Executive Director Marie Felde. 

 

Tiered plans 

Development would progress in stages—tiers—starting next winter with construction of the 135,000-square-foot Student Athlete High Performance Center along the western side of Memorial Stadium, with completion slated for fall 2008. 

Seismic strengthening and renovation of the western half of the stadium would end in summer 2010. Similar improvements on the eastern half of the stadium would begin in the winter of 2009/10, with completion due in the fa ll 2012. 

While stadium seismic reinforcement are ongoing, construction will begin at the site of Maxwell Family Field north of the stadium, where a parking structure will be built to provide spaces lost to construction—545 on both sides of Piedmont Avenu e/Gayley Road—plus an additional 300 new spaces. 

When construction is complete, the playing field will be restored atop the parking structure, with the new facility opening in summer 2010. 

Construction on the west side of Piedmont/Gayley will begin in n ext winter and continue through spring 2012, with additions to the existing Boalt Hall and Haas School of Business buildings continuing throughout the period which would include creation of an additional 5,000 square feet of new construction. 

The major c onstruction planned on the west side of Gayley is the 180,000-square-foot Law and Business Connection building, which will be located south of Boalt Hall, to incorporate large meeting spaces indoors and out and new offices to accommodate programs that wil l bring together the law and business graduate programs. 

Construction of the new building is scheduled to begin in winter 2007/8 and conclude two years later. To build the structure, the university must first demolish the 36,000-square-foot circular Calv in Laboratory building, which will entail hazardous materials surveys throughout the demolition process. 

Also scheduled for demolition are two smaller campus buildings, the Cheney House and the Cheney Cottage at 2241 and 2243 College Ave. The project als o calls for renovations of the five Piedmont Avenue Houses at 2222-2240 Piedmont Ave. All seven structures and Memorial Stadium are considered secondary historic resources. 

The project area includes one primary historic resource, Piedmont Avenue—Gayley R oad, the latter designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the founder of American landscape architecture. 

 

Study concerns 

According to the initial study document, many issues which would typically be addressed in an EIR were sufficiently addressed in the EIR fo r the university’s 2020 Long Range Development Plan. 

Among the areas of specific concern slated for study are: 

• Impacts on scenic vistas. 

• Potential impacts of the proposed permanent night lighting at Memorial Stadium and Maxwell Family Field on surrounding neighborhoods, especially Panoramic Hill, whose residents had their homes included in a newly created National Historic District in large part because of the fear of adverse impacts from the stadium. 

• Potential degradation of the current visual character and quality site and its surroundings. 

• Impacts on cultural resources, including Panoramic Hill and other landmarks on or near the project site. 

• Possible adverse impacts on archaeological resources which may lie underneath the project area. 

• The implications of the projects location on and near a major earthquake fault—the Hayward Fault—including the potentials for strong ground shaking, soil liquefaction destructive soil expansion during a major temblor. 

• Impacts on drainage, runoff, w ater quality and the water table. 

• Possible conflicts with city plans and policies. 

• Noise impacts from crowds at the stadium and Maxwell Field, as well as ground vibrations resulting from noise. 

• Impacts on emergency response, access and evacuation plans. 

• Traffic impacts, including effects on bicyclists and pedestrians. 

• Effects on wastewater and storm water systems, including the possibility that the project could require an expansion of existing treatment facilities. 

• The possible need for construction of new steam heating facilities. 

• Potential impacts that could degrade the environment, significantly reduce fish or wildlife habitats—especially of an endangered species—or cause a catastrophic decline in a fish or wildlife species, or el iminate important examples of modern or archaeological history. 

• Environmental effects which cause substantial indirect or direct effects on humans.  

 

Comments and reports 

Written comments will also be accepted, both at the meeting and by mail to Jennifer Lawrence, Principal Planner, PEP/Capital Projects, Room 1, A&E Building, University of California, Berkeley 94720-1380 and via e-mail to Lawrence at jlawrence@cp.berkeley.edu. 

The deadline for submitting written comments for inclusion in the scoping process is 5 p.m. Dec. 14. 

The completed EIR will be the last of three environmental documents prepared for the combined projects. The first, an initial study, is available at the Berkeley Public Library’s main branch at 2090 Kittredge St. and at UC Berk eley’s Capital Projects Physical and Environmental Planning offices in Room 1 of the A&E Building north of Sproul Hall. A Draft EIR will come first, which will allow for another public comment period before the final document is completed. 

The 57-page In itial Study has also been posted online at www.cp.berkeley.edu/SCIP_NOP.pdf. 


You Write The Daily Planet

Friday December 02, 2005

We invite our readers to submit personal essays, short fiction, poetry and pictures for our Annual Reader Contribution Holiday Issue. Selected SUbmissions will be published in the Tuesday, Dec. 27 issue. Deadline for submissions is 5 p.m. Sunday Dec. 18. Send us your material at holiday@berkeleydailyplanet.com, or to 3023A Shattuck Ave., Berkeley, CA 94705 

 


Downtown Plan Committee to Walk District Saturday By RICHARD BRENNEMAN

Friday December 02, 2005

For their second meeting, members of the Downtown Area Plan Advisory Committee (DAPAC)—joined by interested citizens—will take a stroll this Saturday. 

Members of the committee and the public will break up into small groups and walk the streets of the expanded downtown planning area defined in the settlement of the city’s suit against UC Berkeley over the 2020 Long Range Development Plan. 

The planning area extends from Hearst Avenue on the north to Dwight Way on the south, and from Oxford Street on the East to Martin Luther King Jr. Way on the west. 

The day’s events are scheduled to begin with coffee starting at 8:30 a.m. in the Aurora Theatre, 2081 Addison St., with the formal proceedings starting at 9 a.m. with a half-hour welcome and presentation. 

The groups will reunite at the theater at noon for an hour-long public comment and discussion period. 

For more information on the committee, see their website: www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/ 

commissions/dapac. 


Commissioner Changes Could Tip Balance By RICHARD BRENNEMAN

Friday December 02, 2005

New appointments at the Landmarks Preservation Commission could create a more developer-friendly majority on the panel that builders love to hate. 

City Councilmember Max Anderson this week sought the resignation of Landmarks Preservation Commissioner Patricia Dacey, thanking the Maudelle Shirek appointee and telling her it was time to name his own appointees. 

“I’m fine with that,” said Dacey, who with Lesley Emmington Jones, was regarded as one of the panel’s strongest preservation opponents. Dacey was appointed to the LPC in August 2004. 

In voting on appeals of landmarks designation, Anderson has often sided with developers, and he has expressed concern that landmarking is being used more as a tool to block development than to preserve truly notable structures. 

“I really appreciated the conscientious work she’s done,” Anderson said of Dacey, “but it was time for a change.” 

Councilmember Laurie Capitelli, another critic of many Landmarks Preservation Commission actions, has appointed architect Gary Earl Parsons to fill his slot on the commission, which has been vacant for more than a month until the Nov. 21 appointment. 

Parsons is a Berkeley native who received his master’s in architecture from UC Berkeley in 1982 and started his own firm in 1987 with offices at 814 Camellia St. Parsons fills the slot vacated when Capitelli appointed architect James Samuels to the Planning Commission in September.  

The combined effect of the changes could lead to significant changes in LPC votes, in which many recent pro-landmarking decisions had carried by five-four margins. 

Wednesday night’s meeting of the Berkeley Planning Commission was also the last for Rob Wrenn, an Anderson appointee. 

“We had an agreement that I would serve one year,” said Wrenn. 

His replacement is Lawrence T. Gurley, professor of mathematics and computer information systems at Merritt College in Oakland. He lives on Russell Street in Southwest Berkeley. 

Wrenn still serves on another planning group to which Anderson appointed him, the Downtown Area Plan Advisory Committee.


Berkeley High Beat: Berkeley High Bathroom Update By Rio Bauce

Friday December 02, 2005

Have you ever wondered what is happening with bathroom construction at Berkeley High School (BHS)? Has the bathroom retrofit been completed so that Berkeley High students can use them? 

When BHS students came back to school in September, most construction was completed. However, bathrooms on the first floor and the third floor of the main academic building (the C-building) were still “in the works.” 

Now, as we head to Christmas time, the bathrooms are still incomplete and until now there hadn’t been any indication to the general public as to when they would be done. 

Back in March, a schedule was drawn up for the construction projects of the C-building at BHS. There weren’t any requirements set for the completion of the bathrooms on the first or third floor of the C-building. 

“We didn’t think that it was possible for the contractors to keep to a certain time frame,” said Lew Jones, Berkeley Unified School District director of facilities. “At the time, we knew that there could be a number of things that weren’t seen initially in the bathrooms. These things could considerably lengthen the construction time.” 

The plan for the bathroom design includes many things. First they have to perform a lead abatement, followed by a demolition of the bathrooms (which occurred in the summer.) Then they need to do some re-piping, some tiling, some flooring, and hang some fixtures. However, this blueprint can’t account for any “hidden problems” in the bathrooms, which can delay construction. Unfortunately, this was the case. 

“There were some hidden conditions in the bathrooms,” Jones said. “We had to replace some metal studs, which hold the walls up, because there had been water damage. Because of this situation, we had to get approval from the state before continuation of the project.” 

The contract calls for the bathroom work to be wrapped up by the end of the Christmas break, when the students return to school in January. The contractors are two or three weeks behind the original schedule. 

Some teachers aren’t ecstatic about the bathroom predicament. 

“I don’t like that the bathrooms aren’t accessible,” said one teacher. “However, I think that it is worth it to reconstruct the bathrooms. I remember many years back, when I moved to the C-building, the bathrooms were really a mess—there wasn’t any toilet paper or seat covers.” 

Some students aren’t too optimistic about the school district’s ability to follow through on their promises. 

“I would be disappointed if the project wasn’t done by the end of the Christmas break,” remarked Calvin Young, 15, a sophomore, “because it would make me feel that our school isn’t together enough to provide adequate bathrooms. Yet, I still wouldn’t be surprised.” 

Jones said he understands the students’ and faculty’s frustrations. 

“We knew that there was going to be an impact,” asserted Jones. “We know that this does affect the students and the staff. It is more than we had thought.” 

The C-building was originally built in the 1920s. There was a small reconstruction project in the 1960s. However, the last major retrofit was in 1983. The bathrooms at BHS haven’t been remodeled for over 20 years. 

Vivian Haesloop, 16, a sophomore, said, “It’s a little frustrating, because bathroom lines are pretty long at lunch ... Well at least for the girl’s bathroom. It would nice if the extra bathrooms were there.” 

 

Rio Bauce is a Berkeley High sophomore. Send comments to baucer@gmail.com. 

 

 

 

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Correction

Friday December 02, 2005

Correction 

 

Jeffrey Heyman, executive director of the Department of Marketing, Public Relations and Communications at the Peralta Community College District, was misquoted regarding Trustee Marcy Hodge’s criticisms of the Office of International Affairs in a Nov. 29 article. His quote should have read, “Chancellor Elihu Harris thought the charges were important enough to hire an investigator.” He did not state that the chancellor hired Mr. Drinkhall upon Heyman’s recommendation as the story claimed. ô


Editorial Cartoon By JUSTIN DEFREITAS

Friday December 02, 2005

To view Justin DeFreitas’ latest editorial cartoon, please visit  

www.jfdefreitas.com To search for previous cartoons by date of publication, click on the Daily Planet Archive.

 




Letters to the Editor

Friday December 02, 2005

WEST CAMPUS POOL 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

I’m mad and so are my aerobics swimmates. The West Campus pool is closed until April. It had expensive solar paneling just put in and access to a diverse population, including my senior residence. 

The tenants’ association here gave 100 percent agreement to protest the closing of this nearby pool. 

Our aerobics class, a community of 20-25 winter swimmers for more than three years, must now use the King pool over on Hopkins. This has a hard access for the disabled and poor parking for the rest of us. 

We of course are nothing like Katrina victims, but it does seem somewhat similar: The poor end of town got the shaft. 

Nance Wogan 

Strawberry Creek Lodge 

 

• 

ECOLOGY CENTER 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

A week or two ago I received a postcard from the Ecology Center. The postcard promoted the Tuesday Farmers’ Market and offered a discount coupon. 

Unfortunately, it has been almost two years since I’ve last shopped at the Farmers’ Market. The opposition of the Ecology Center to a ballfield on Derby Street has been a big turnoff. The Ecology Center is so anti-youth that I’ve stopped shopping at any of its very high-proceed Farmers’ Markets. Berkeley Bowl is just fine for me. 

I guess the Ecology Center doesn’t want boys in teams on ballfields, so the only places left for young men in teams is dressed in army fatigues in Iraq or in orange jumpsuits in jail. No thank you! 

Young people are the future. We should be investing in youth. The Ecology Center calls itself a “community group” but it only has programs for kale, not for kids. 

Michaela Bowens 

 

• 

UC GREED 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Although an undistinguished alumna of modest means, when 18 years ago my class was preparing for its 50th anniversary of graduation from UC Berkeley, I wildly pledged $500 for the class gift, to be paid in yearly $100 installments. I also worked a phone list to ask class alumni in San Francisco for gift pledges. On the phone I heard sad tales of grown children enduring hard times and needing help—especially with housing. I garnered no pledges. 

After my third gift payment I happened to read in the San Francisco Chronicle of UC’s million-dollar golden parachute to an official of the university taking early retirement (if memory serves accurately) because of his wife’s illness. I was furious. His retirement pay was handsome. He needed a million dollars!? 

I whipped off a letter to our class president: “...Despite my pledge it’ll be a cold day in hell before I give another dime to the University of California!” 

In response I was asked if my letter might be passed on. 

I hoped it would be. And now, after reading the Chronicle’s recent revelations of present-day perquisites, I hope all UC graduates will also reject pleas—until these wrongs are righted. 

Do, or will, the greedy officials (and our economy’s CEO’s) contribute hugely to suffers from tsunami, massive earthquake in Pakistan, hurricanes in the Caribbean, famine in Africa? Will we as a nation ever return to ultra high taxes on the rich so student grants, living-waged public work on the environment and infrastructure etc. may more fairly (and even evenly?) distribute our wealth? 

Education takes place not only in the classroom. UC’s rich officials, and the Regents too, are by example propounding the ruinous 1980s shibboleth that “Greed pays off, and so this is good!” 

Judith Segard Hunt 

 

• 

SPECIAL ELECTION 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Demand has been made upon county and school auditors and treasurers, and upon the California treasurer and controller to cease and desist the payment of any expense whatsoever with respect to the Nov. 8 special election, and for them and their bondsman to forthwith reimburse the county, state and school district for any funds which have been expended with respect thereto together with interest. As each have been advised, that special election is without authority in law and therefore neither state, county nor school district may be charged therefore. Without authority in law no measure can be valid. 

Raymond Hawkins 

Kensington 

 

• 

MARIN AVENUE 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Richard Splenda, what planet are you living on? In the weeks since the change on Marin Avenue, what I’ve noticed is that in a period of four weeks, I have seen two bicyclists on Marin the entire time! 

I have also seen traffic backed up three or four blocks at the stop lights at Peralta, Santa Fe, and Masonic. Folks trying to merge from various side streets have to wait a long time to get onto Marin. Forget about the sycamore tress; the exhaust from standing automobiles will blight the environment and reduce air quality significantly for our neighbors on Marin Avenue. 

The bicycle fanatics got their way and punished the rest of us, poor slobs, who need to use their cars or drive to the freeway to get to and from work.  

So much for good planning. 

Michele Givinda 

 

• 

PUBLIC BLOCKED 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

As a member of the public and the Cal Alumni Society, I would like to bring to the attention of the interested parties that UC libraries have started to block the public and alumni to access the Internet via the library computers. On one hand it appears that this a right decision since some folks used to camp out at the computers and misused the resources. On the other hand, denial of access to the internet will hurt many who used the computers for good causes. How can UC libraries send letters to the public and alumni to ask for contributions? I used to pay the libraries at least $200 a year; however, I will not do so any more. It is simple: no services, no contributions. Perhaps, the UC executives can contribute to the libraries out of that $871 million they paid themselves as bounces. UC libraries should let the alumni and holders of library cards have access to the Internet via the library computers. 

Mina Davenport 

 

• 

PROGRESSIVE BERKELEY 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

I would like to thank Ted Vincent for his recent letter regarding liquor stores in South Berkeley. 

I would like to thank him for revealing what appears to be the true character and legacy of progressive politics in Berkeley. For in Progressive Berkeley broken bottles, used condoms, and used drug needles in the street or tossed into back yards, are to be considered innocuous debris. 

In Progressive Berkeley screeching tires, smashed glass, screamed racial epithets, death threats, and gunfire are to be considered innocuous chatter. 

In Progressive Berkeley fists smashed into faces, knuckled-fists punched down onto the tops of the heads of children, and boot-clad feet slammed into the faces of defenseless, prostrate victims, are to be considered harmless pranks. 

Thanks again for clarifying things for me. 

John Herbert 

 

• 

HR 1461 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

The House recently passed HR 1461, a bill to establish a housing trust fund from the profits of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Intended to set aside new funding for the creation of sorely needed affordable housing, the bill has taken on dangerous new provisions that threaten democracy and the rights of nonprofits to participate in our democracy.  

HR 1461 would disquality from receiving funds nonprofits who have done any non-partisan voter work in the past 12 months, such as displaying voter registration forms or driving residents to the polls on election day. Simply offering voter registration cards—as do the DMV, post office, schools, libraries, and a thousand partisan and non-partisan organizations alike in the shared national interest of increasing our woefully low voter turnout—would be off-limits to organizations that receive HR 1461 funds. 

Listen, nonprofits come in all sizes, but even those that have small budgets, small staffs, and small local influence do not have small IQs. We understand what non-partisan means, why it’s an important restriction for government-funded entities, and the legal consequences that already exist for ignoring the restriction. Yet under this bill, nonprofits who simply try to get more people to participate in community decision-making by voting—no matter who or what they vote for—will be penalized and prevented from doing their work, and low-income families and individuals who need housing will suffer. This is a backdoor attempt to squash get-out-the-vote activities and no one is fooled. 

Sonja Fitz 

Building Opportunities for Self-Sufficiency  

 

• 

DERBY STREET FIELD 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Regarding Association of Sports Field Users Chairperson Doug Fielding’s letter of Nov. 29, I am compelled to respond. Mr. Fielding not only criticizes my position on a significant land-use and resource-intensive BUSD project (which is legitimate), he also impugns my judgement and integrity. That I cannot let slide. 

Mr. Fielding states that the city paid his “group” $750,000 for two playing fields at Harrison Street. In fact city documents indicate that the cost was substantially higher, well over $1 million. The fact that the Harrison Street fields do not abut residential houses (about 50 feet away on Derby/Carleton Street), an alternative high school, a preschool, a business, and a UC delivery/receiving facility are also not mentioned. Nor the fact that underground and above-ground utilities, storm drains, street and sidewalk curbing, a streetlight and traffic mitigation, and a whole host of other expenses were not necessary at the Harrison Street project, and will certainly be necessary at Derby Street. 

The real costs of a closed-Derby project are yet unknown. That is one of the points I have been raising and making over and over again. To underestimate the costs as a political strategy is, in my view, deceptively self-serving. What Mr. Fielding fails to address, and cleverly avoids, is the fact that a closed-Derby Street project is far more expensive than what is budgeted for Derby Street by BUSD.  

Mr. Fielding’s “facts” defy, and thus demand, close scrutiny. There has been much oversimplification in this discussion, and many of the closed-Derby proponents have glossed over or dismissed the details and concerns of others. My hope is that by participating in this serial letter-writing to the Planet, I can help illuminate some of these details for the readers’ closer scrutiny and better understanding of BUSD’s options for developing the East Campus site. My fear is that under political pressure, the dstrict and the city might embark on a long and very costly course to close Derby Street, and miss the real opportunity we have right now to provide a quality multi-purpose playing field by 2007 and within the BUSD construction budget. 

John Selawsky 

Director, Berkeley School Board 

 

• 

UNHEALTHY SKIES 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

So far this year, we’ve been able to keep the Bush administration’s “Unhealthy Skies” bill (AKA the “Clear Skies Act of 2005”) bottled up in the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. We have been working tirelessly this past summer and fall, knocking on doors and organizing from Boston to Berkeley to keep the committee vote tied at 9 to 9. It is now very difficult for the power plant industry to push this bill through the Senate, which would allow coal-burning utilities to release more mercury into the environment. 

Running with our success in this campaign for public health, we now shift our focus to alleviating the growing problem of global warming. Already, our automobiles are emitting billions of tons of CO2 into our atmosphere every year in a man-made intensification of the greenhouse effect, and they are less fuel-efficient today than they were 20 years ago. One of the single greatest steps the U.S. can take is to legislate an increase the fuel-efficiency standards for all cars, trucks, and SUVs to 40 miles per gallon within the next decade. We are mobilizing hundreds of thousands of concerned citizens on this issue, and targeting over 150 Congresspeople to sponsor such a bill. We are entering a period of consequences, and it is time to act. 

Samuel Lockhart 

Citizen Outreach Director 

Environmental Action 

 

• 

AIR QUALITY 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

I find it offensive that our automobiles have worse gas mileage now than they did 20 years ago. While our beloved administration has been refusing to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, we have seen an increase in gas prices and the greenhouse gases that lead to global warming. By signing onto this agreement, a message would be sent to the American public that our government actually cares about the global issue of climate change. The groundwork would be set from the top down that global warming is important enough to endorse laws requiring the automobile industry to improve fuel-efficiency standards to 40 mpg for all new cars. According to the National Academy of Sciences, were we to do this we would cut 250 million tons of pollution that leads to global warming. The United States represents 25 percent of emissions that lead to global warming and therefore we have a major responsibility to do everything that we can to prevent unnecessary changes in world climate. The time is now to raise fuel-efficiency standards. Call or write your representatives today to make this a reality. 

Joshua Sbicca 

Oakland 

 

• 

AIR QUALITY II 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

At a recent meeting of its core members, the West Berkeley Alliance for Clean Air and Safe Jobs addressed one of its current concerns, i.e. the BAAQMD’s (Bay Area Air Quality Management District) cancellation of an upcoming community meeting. Granted, meetings get cancelled all the time. However, a meeting of this type, which would allow Pacific Steel Casting, our councilmember, Linda Maio, and the organization that is charged with monitoring our air, BAAQMD, to explain to the public what steps are to be taken next in reducing the amount of metal and other particulate in our air, seems like the type of meeting that should be held at all costs. As emission reports continue to be released and published by BAAQMD, the state of California, and other organizations, our “green community” of Berkeley is left to wonder (and research on its own) “Who will take responsibility for our city’s health and well-being by informing the public about the health implications of these emissions?” For example, unless you are willing to do an extensive amount of research, you might not know about The West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project (an effort by the Pacific Institute to empower the West Oakland community to deal with pollution and other problems) who lists Pacific Steel as second of all Bay Area facilities ranked for carcinogen risks. With a little more background, you will discover that this ranking was established using the 1997 Toxics Release Inventory data when PSC’s production levels were much lower than today’s.  

Because both the city of Berkeley and PSC turn to BAAQMD to interpret the amounts and toxicity of materials coming from PSC’s stacks, what then should citizens do when BAAQMD stonewalls the very citizens it represents and denies them the chance to meet together and brainstorm solutions to unacceptable air quality? What do citizens do when they are told that BAAQMD only meets with the public on Tuesdays and that happens to be the same day their council members meet? It should contact its council members and representatives in BAAQMD, and insist that this meeting should happen—not in two months, but in two weeks, as originally promised. If this matter was as a high a priority for BAAQMD as it is for West Berkeley and surrounding communities, I doubt we would have as much reason to question the integrity of the Bay Area Air Quality Management District. 

Sarah Simonet-Reid 

Co-Founder West Berkeley Alliance for Clean Air and Safe Jobs 

 

• 

POTTER CREEK 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Jonathan Stephens in his Nov. 29 letter is way off base in his reading of the Potter Creek neighborhood. He calls it “urban blight” and “suffering from neglect.” Nothing could be farther from the truth.  

This neighborhood is home to Tippitt Animation studios which employs several hundred bright young people, Fantasy Records (recording studio), Myer Sound, Scharfenberger Chocolate factory, the French American School (K-8), The Center for the Education of the Infant Deaf, two commercial, artisan bakeries Acme and Vital Vitals, fine furniture maker Berkeley Mills and at least two other sizable furniture/cabinet makers, Nolo press, numerous other small publishers, a book bindery, two large printing companies, the largest yoga studio in the east bay, four glass studios and many other artists and artisans. 

Recent construction includes five loft developments, the large artist/hobby building, the harpisicord makers building and the park created by Bayer. At least eight residences have been rehabilitated. 

This is a light industry/residential area and the industrial uses are indeed changing from heavier, dirtier uses to the diverse, desirable and prosperous businesses I mention above. While the Berkeley Bowl could be a welcome neighbor here the effect on present uses and on traffic must be carefully considered. 

Bob Kubik 

 

• 

BERKELEY LAB 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

I am the commissioner who voted against the questions proposed by CEAC ( “Transparency Needed in Berkeley Lab Nanotechnology,” Nov. 29). I did not feel that they would lead to any new or useful information, and I wanted questions that would.  

The lab responded to the questions of environmental and health risks over a year ago. I believe that the CEAC members who are concerned that the lab is not being responsive and “transparent” did not fully understand the response. The lab’s position was that nanotechnology work would be performed in a manner that would prevent any release of nanoparticles. This would be accomplished by restricting work to studies on bound substrates, in solutions, or in closed systems. If there are no releases, there are no risks. If there are no risks, then the responses to CEAC’s questions are:  

1. There is nothing to identify. 

2. There is no need for external experts. 

3. There are no risks to manage. 

4. There is nothing to inform the public about.  

With regard to point 4, the lab has indicated that it has health experts who will be keeping track of the current literature.  

I proposed a set of questions about issues that I felt the lab had not covered. In particular, I was concerned that the lab had not explicitly addressed the issue of disposal of the experimental materials. It would also be useful for the lab to be more explicit about how they will make sure that researchers will comply with their policy, and what procedures they will have to inform the city of any violations or changes in their policy.  

Robert Clear  

 

• 

DOWNTOWN PLAN 

It is truly a service to the community to have the Daily Planet publish views on the Downtown Plan by members of the Committee. However, the writers could do a better job of differentiating fact and opinion so that readers can make better judgments.  

In the Nov 29-31 edition committee member Rob Wrenn writes “One of the major changes that has taken place in the last 20 years is that rents and home prices have soared. Even when you adjust for inflation and rising incomes, the median and average market rent is much higher than it was in the mid 1980’s. Rents for two bedroom apartments are around $2000 a month.”  

The data does not support that assertion. Rent Board data shows that the average for recently rented two bedroom apartments is below $1500 per month. For all registered two bedroom apartments city wide it is below $1300 per month. It is true that if Mr. Wrenn is talking about newly constructed two bedroom units downtown that rents range from about $1850-$2500 per month, These are not rent controlled units and they didn’t exist in the mid 1980’s. These units are defacto dorms and substantially cheaper (per person) than University housing when four students share a two bedroom unit. Rent Controlled units in Berkeley have hardly kept up with inflation. A$300 one bedroom unit in 1980 is approximately $700 in 2005. Since 1996 the Rent Board Annual adjustments have been barely 10 percent cumulatively for the subsequent 8 year period. This years annual adjustment was 0.7 percent. Rent Board fees were increased 13 percent. It is city taxes and fees that have soared in the past twenty years and not rents. Housing prices have soared but the market will undoubtedly provide a correction eventually.  

Since 1996 city employee salaries have increased almost 50 percent without considering merit or promotional increases. Inflation in the same period has been approximately 20-25 percent depending upon the index used.  

In talking about transportation, Mr. Wrenn states “Some good things have happened, including creation of a bike station at downtown BART and addition of new bus shelters.” While this is undoubtedly true I would point out that bus shelters in North Berkeley were torn down years ago allegedly due to graffiti and have never been replaced. To make use of the downtown shelters it is necessary to board a bus somewhere else where there is no shelter. Benches have recently appeared at bus stations at either end of the Solano tunnel but they aren’t user friendly in rainy weather. The Committee should broaden its perspective to make not only the downtown more citizen friendly but to make the city more friendly before you get downtown. Note that bus shelters have been replaced on San Pablo in West and South Berkeley but not in North Berkeley or South Campus areas. 

Ted Edlin?


Column: The Public Eye: Bush is Leading Us Down the Road to Nowhere By Bob Burnett

Friday December 02, 2005

Wednesday, George W. Bush confirmed what many of us have long suspected—our plan for Iraq is based upon a Talking Heads hit. The president’s “National Strategy for Victory in Iraq” was lifted from the lyrics to Road to Nowhere. 

Well we know where we’re g oin’ 

But we don’t know where we’ve been. 

And we know what we’re knowin’ 

But we can’t say what we’ve seen. 

And we’re not little children 

And we know what we want. 

And the future is certain 

Give us time to work it out. 

We’re on a road to nowhere 

Come on ins ide. 

Takin’ that ride to nowhere 

We’ll take that ride. 

 

The administration doesn’t know where it’s going because it doesn’t know where it’s been. It’s incapable of learning from mistakes because it refuses to recognize them. Despite being consistent only in its ineptitude, Bush asks us to believe, “the future is certain. Give us time to work it out.” 

Bush repeated, “No war has ever been won on a timetable and neither will this one.”  

Nonetheless, his administration is sending mixed signals. Last week, Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice suggested that U.S. forces might start withdrawing “fairly soon.” Next Lieutenant General John Vines, who is in charge of day-to-day operations in Iraq, said it was possible 50,000 U.S. forces could leave by the end of 2 006. Then both Rice and Vines backpedaled saying a “premature withdrawal” would be “destabilizing.” 

Meanwhile, the various Iraqi factions met at the Arab-League’s “Reconciliation Conference.” Surprisingly, they agreed on something: “We demand the withdra wal of foreign forces in accordance with a timetable.” However, a couple of days later, Iraqi Foreign Minister, Hoshiyar Zebari, warned “any premature withdrawal will send the wrong message to the terrorists.” 

The administration’s ambivalence is a direct result of the public’s antipathy towards the Iraq war. A strong majority wants our troops to come home. While George W., personally, could care less what the voters think, Republicans running for reelection in 2006 are worried. Just before the Thanksgivi ng recess the Senate passed a resolution that next year should mark the beginning of the end of the occupation of Iraq. Thirteen of the fourteen Republican senators running for re-election voted for it. 

Bush continues to maintain that “Iraq is making steady progress in fighting terrorists, meeting political milestones, building democratic institutions, and standing up security forces.” 

Congressman Jack Murtha is the ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee and its Subcommittee on Defense. On Nov. 17, Murtha came out for withdrawal. This was a big deal, as Murtha, a decorated Marine veteran, is known to have the ear of key military leaders. Murtha recognized that the U.S. is on the road to nowhere. “[Iraq] is a flawed policy wrapped in illu sion … The United States and coalition troops have done all they can in Iraq, but it is time for a change in direction. Our military is suffering. The future of our country is at risk. We cannot continue on the present course. It is evident that continued military action in Iraq is not in the best interest of the United States of America, the Iraqi people or the Persian Gulf Region.” 

The Bush administration maintains that we cannot summarily leave the country. We must wait until the Iraqi army is reconst ituted. However, many experts feel that this either cannot be done or it will take a painfully long time. Writing in the December 2005 Atlantic Monthly James Fallow concludes, “There is no indication that [a viable Iraqi security force] is about to emerge.” 

The crux of George W.’s dilemma is that he has never had a plan for Iraq. Republican insider Henry Kissinger once observed, “If you don’t know where you are going, every road will get you nowhere.” 

America has a choice to make between trusting the president’s judgment and getting out of Iraq. From here, this doesn’t look like too difficult a decision. 

It would be one thing if leaving Iraq simply meant that we would look stupid to the rest of the world for having launched the invasion to begin with. But what’s at stake is more than humiliation. On Nov. 20, New York Times columnist Frank Rich nailed our dilemma in “One War Lost, Another to Go.” Rich pointed out that the real problem with deteriorating public support for the occupation of Iraq “is that the public, having rejected one [war], automatically rejects the other … The percentage of Americans who now regard fighting terrorism as a top national priority is either in the single or low double digits in every poll.”  

We are being diverted from th e real war on terror. 

The gravity of this situation forces Americans to confront harsh realities: Our lives are in peril. We must have a real plan for the war on terror. Meanwhile, we have a president who is leading us down the road to nowhere.  

 

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

›i


Column: Undercurrents: The Problem Behind Oakland’s Liquor Store Problem J. DOUGLAS ALLEN-TAYLOR

Friday December 02, 2005

In one of the recent articles on the recent West Oakland liquor store attacks, the San Francisco Chronicle quotes Mayor Jerry Brown as condemning the incidents—including the trashing of the two stores—and adding, “If there are issues, and there are issues in Oakland with liquor stores, people can come together to discuss them.” 

Discuss them with whom, one wonders, and to what end? Let’s walk down that sidewalk a ways, and see where it takes us. 

A number of Oakland activists have been trying to reduce the number of liquor stores in the city for years. And recently, there appears to be a consensus among most residents and city and police officials that there are too many liquor-only or liquor-mostly outlets in the city, particularly in the West Oakland and East Oakland areas, and that these liquor-only and liquor-mostly outlets are often magnets for community problems. 

In May 2004, Oakland City Attorney John Russo in fact flatly declared that “Oakland just has too many liquor stores.” Mr. Russo also released, at the same time, a report that listed 11 problem liquor stores that the city attorney deemed “ugly,” that is, with multiple serious violations reported by the Oakland Police Department’s Alcohol Beverage Action Team or the state ABC office. The majority of those “ugly” liquor stores (to use Mr. Russo’s phrase) were in West Oakland and in East Oakland beyond the Fruitvale District. 

The problem, as I see it, is not with the selling of liquor itself. But liquor—being a substance that is often abused—tends to attract people who are prone to substance abuse. This, in turn, attracts people who make money off of providing other abusing substances, such as drugs, prostitutes, etc. etc., ad infinitum. Without close attention, particularly in low income areas, liquor stores can become a magnet for litter and crime of all sorts and a drag on the entire community. A conscientious liquor store owner—or the owner of a neighborhood store that sells food items as well as beer and/or liquor—can keep the area around their stores clean and clear, and many of them do. But the more liquor and the less milk a business sells, the more the owner has to pay attention to the potential problems. And too many of these owners in low-income black or brown areas neither pay attention, or care. 

So if there is a consensus among residents and city and police officials that there exists some sort of problem surrounding some of these liquor outlets in the low-income areas of Oakland—including the fact that there are far too many of them concentrated into too few areas—why hasn’t much been done about it? 

Several years ago, but long past the days of legal segregation, I lived in a small, Southern town where the sidewalks ended right where the white neighborhood stopped and the black neighborhood began. I went to the mayor’s office one morning to talk about the inequity of this situation—we being as much taxpayers on the black side as they were on the white—and the mayor told me with a sad smile that he realized how bad this might look, but the situation was the result of decisions made in the old segregation days and as much as he would like to correct it, the city had no money at present for sidewalk building and so—unfortunately, in the mayor’s mind—the situation of inequity must remain, at least for the present. 

Oakland, which has a lot of small, Southern town in it, still, exists in much the same situation. 

At one point, many years ago, West Oakland was the center of the black middle class in the East Bay, and East Oakland beyond the Fruitvale was a community made up mostly of white families living in neighborhoods of single-family homes with wide front lawns and big backyards. Black families who moved out to East Oakland in the ‘40s—including my newlywed parents—did not do so because they were looking for a place to set up a “ghetto.” They wanted a nice, safe neighborhood in which to raise their children. But as black families moved into the far ends of East Oakland, most white families fled, first to the hills and then—when the hills opened up to black residents—over the hills into Castro Valley, Pleasanton, and much of what today is the heart of Contra Costa County. 

As East Oakland rapidly rolled over white to black through the ‘50s, official city neglect of the area rose in direct proportion. At the same time, Oakland City Hall “urban renewal” decisions devastated the heart of West Oakland, driving out many of the black middle class and working class families that had been its anchor. One of the results of these twin paths of official “benign neglect” and active community destabilization the west and the east was the allowance of liquor stores to flood the two neighborhoods, fueled by business owners who saw a way to make a quick buck among the poor blacks, and encouraged by city officials who either didn’t care what happened in black neighborhoods, or were getting kickbacks. (One always has to remember that in living memory, at least as far as I know, there has never been a case of neighborhood people getting together in Oakland, coming down to a City Council meeting, and demanding another liquor store in their community.) And too many of the liquor stores that settled in west and east Oakland were of the we-don’t-give-a-damn-about-what-goes-on-just-outside-our-doors variety. 

Thanks to the actions of a coalition of community activists and receptive public officials, there is a moratorium on new liquor licenses in Alameda County. But that still leaves a proliferation of such businesses throughout East and West Oakland, too many of them continuing magnets for community problems. 

In April 2004, the Neighborhood Law Corps of the Oakland city attorney’s office issued a “Report And Recommendations Regarding A Report Card On Oakland’s Liquor Stores: The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly” to the Oakland City Council. This was the report in which the 11 “ugly” liquor stores were listed. 

That report said, in part, “During the past two years, Neighborhood Law Corps Attorneys have attended over 200 community meetings. The single most consistent priority from neighborhood to neighborhood was problem liquor stores. Community complaints about these stores range from excess litter and loitering to accusations of alcohol sales to minors, drug dealing, prostitution, and shootings. We found that while many neighborhoods were focused on trying to abate local problem liquor stores, there has not been a comprehensive analysis of the impact liquor stores have city-wide.” 

Perhaps Mayor Brown missed the report—it’s still available on the city attorney’s website, if he’s interested—or missed the 200 community meetings that preceded it. But it seems that in reference to Mr. Brown’s comment “If there are issues, and there are issues in Oakland with liquor stores, people can come together to discuss them,” Oakland residents have already come together and discussed the problems related to the liquor stores, many times over. 

For seven years, the Jerry Brown administration has been fascinated with creating new downtown neighborhoods for people who don’t like Oakland and have to be enticed to move here, while often that same administration ignores many of the needs of the existing neighborhoods and the Oakland residents who already live there. In the past few days, there has been widespread condemnation of the vandalism at the two West Oakland liquor stores. I am not suggesting that Mr. Brown’s benign neglect of the city’s liquor store problem made that vandalism necessary. I am only wondering what might have happened if Mr. Brown had used the enormous influence and resources of the mayor’s office towards solving the liquor store problem as he did towards, say, his two charter schools. 

Instead, that’s going to have to be left to the next mayor, whoever that turns out to be. 

 


Commentary: Planning for Downtown Berkeley’s Future By JIM SHARP

Friday December 02, 2005

Down by the station 

Early in the morning 

See the little pufferbellies 

All in a row  

 

See the station master 

Turn the little handle 

Puff, puff, toot, toot 

Off we go!  

 

—Lee Ricks and Slim Gaillard © 1948 

Let’s face it: Berkeley is a railroad town.   

Though the inaugural meeting of the 21-member Downtown Area Plan (DAP) Advisory Committee took place at the North Berkeley Senior Center (not at the “station”) and in the evening (not “early in the morning”) it was apparent to some of us in the audience that we were witnessing the gestation of Berkeley’s newest railroad. 

DAPAC Secretary Matt Taecker and City Planning Director Dan Marks both announced that they were “very excited” about the process. City Manager Phil Kamlarz seconded the notion, affirming that this was going to be an “exciting, ambitious process” but it was going to be “a real push.” 

A real push for what? To keep the pufferbellies running on time, we can assume. 

Under its 2020 Long Range Development Plan (LRDP) Settlement Agreement with UC Berkeley, the City must finish the DAP within four years, or pay a penalty of $15,000 per month to the university.   

Absurd, you say? Indeed. And the DAP clock is already ticking. The Settlement Agreement was inked, in secret, over six months ago. You need to read it to believe it: www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/mayor/PR/UCAgreement.pdf.  

 

Station master’s fog machine 

The station master is hard at work turning that little handle. Here is some of the public-relations fog which spewed forth from the mayor’s office on May 26, hours after the settlement agreement was signed: “Without question, the settlement creates the single best agreement between any city and public university within this state. Most importantly, it guarantees that the city and this community will have a real voice in the university’s future development.” 

“[T]his pact takes a giant step forward towards a lasting and equal partnership between one of the world’s great universities and one of its most livable and progressive cities.” 

The agreement calls for the city and university to work together to develop a Downtown Area Plan that will guide all new development projects. “[T]his new plan will guide the revitalization of the city’s core, protect historic resources, and encourage transit-friendly development.” 

With the DAP at its core, the mayor promises you “a framework for a collaborative relationship that will benefit this community for years.” 

 

Railroads beget railroads 

Released in early January, UCB’s 2020 LRDP Final EIR focused on many things, but re-engineering Berkeley’s downtown plan wasn’t one of them. Cynics labeled it the Fiat Lux Express. UC’s Regents swiftly rubber-stamped the document despite howls of protest from Berkeley citizens and, for a while, from their municipal stewards.   

Even Mayor Bates sounded tough. “The city is being asked to sign a blank check. But we are not signing anything until we know what we are buying,” he growled in a San Francisco Chronicle op-ed. 

Soon after, the city launched the first of three lawsuits against UC. Then the litigation train disappeared from public view into a tunnel of confidentiality. 

What emerged in late May was the UniverCity Express and three dismissed lawsuits. Heading the locomotive were Chancellor Birgeneau and Mayor Bates. The settlement agreement fog machine was blasting full steam.     

The scene was déjà vu all over again for many Berkeley citizens who had endured the LRDP process 15 years before and survived countless city-to-university capitulations since. Once more, they had been abandoned at the station and totally cut out of the negotiation process.  

 

Will the real DAP please stand up? 

If you take the trouble to plow through the 1,300-page 2020 LRDP Final EIR, you’ll find that the DAP process emerges from it as a total non sequitur.  

By transforming a gown-swallows-town “blank check” into a potential downtown bonanza for UC and developers, the mayor, city manager, and city attorney illustrate how much they have absorbed from the Bush administration’s crisis-opportunism management style: eg, 9-11 attacks morph into Iraqistan wars and Katrina’s devastation boosts refinery subsidies, nuclear power, and slum clearance. 

Will enough Berkeley citizens see this ersatz public process for what it is? Whether derailed or not, we can hope that the DAP RR draws attention to the Janet Jackson-style municipal costume failure represented by its deeply flawed parent document, the settlement agreement.  

But think of the DAP as just the little toe of a much larger footprint--one which encompasses the whole of Berkeley (minus UC’s tax-exempt lands).   

Think of “Big DAP” as a nine-square-mile Doormat Area Plan.   

Unlike its exciting little sibling, this monster has no facilitator, no 21-member advisory committee, and no timetable for completion.  

Increasingly, Doormat Berkeley absorbs the physical and financial abuse associated with the relentlessly expanding state institution in its midst.  Increasingly, all Berkeley citizens are forced to pay for the failure of Berkeley’s leadership to address this reality.   

The buck, as Councilmember Gordon Wozniak recently observed, stops with the City Council. But it starts with Berkeley’s taxpayers. 

 

Puff, puff, toot, toot 

Off we go!  

 

Jim Sharp is a member of Berkeleyans for a Livable University Environment (BLUE) and a plaintiff in a citizens‚ lawsuit to reverse the city’s secret settlement with UC. 


Commentary: Planning for Downtown Berkeley’s Future By ALAN TOBEY

Friday December 02, 2005

Rob Wrenn’s Nov. 29 article on the context for downtown planning created by previous documents and city commitments was very helpful in reminding us where we have come from. But we will continually face two related challenges: making sure that we remember the past as completely as possible, and making sure we don’t give in to the temptation to selective retrieve only those parts of the past that support favored positions. 

Mr. Wrenn, for example, quotes two “actions” committed to by the city via the recent UN Urban Environmental Accords. As an attendee of the conference that produced the Accords, I was pleased by the completeness and wisdom of all 21 of the adopted actions taken as a whole—including some Mr. Wrenn may not be as comfortable in reporting. As examples, let me quote two more now-committed city policies that are relevant for the downtown plan: 

Action 8: Adopt urban planning principles and practices that advance higher density, mixed use, walkable, bikeable, and disabled-accessible neighborhoods which coordinate land use and transportation with open space systems for recreation and ecological restoration.  

Action 11: Conduct an inventory of existing [tree] canopy coverage in the city and then establish a goal based on ecological and community considerations to plant or maintain canopy coverage in not less than 50 per cent of all available sidewalk planting sites. 

I don’t recall seeing either “advancing urban density” or increasing canopy cover among the desirable virtues Mr. Wrenn calls for. Certainly there’s time for those issues to be part of the debate; but at this early stage it’s important to put on the table all of the relevant commitments the city has made, not just those favoring any single narrow agenda. 

Let’s keep expanding the picture and putting more issues on the table until we see as much of the whole downtown picture as possible.  

For example, to pick up on Mr. Wrenn’s concern for “affordability” in the downtown, let’s not by seeing only that virtue throw away the equally desirable virtue of economic diversity downtown—specifically including the interests of our wealthier citizens. One of the factors that makes both Charlottesville and Boulder so vibrant, to say it plainly, is that their downtowns include many ways for wealthy residents and visitors to drop their money. Berkeley, in contrast, is blessed with a hill-dwelling citizenry of above-average economic means that is generally happier driving down Marin in search of a suburban mall than seeking shopping opportunities downtown. And should they choose to bless Shattuck with their shopping presence (other than via dinners at Chez Panisse and season tickets at the Berkeley Rep), how are they to get there except by car when biking is physically impossible and public transit nearly nonexistent? 

I don’t mean to pick on the rich or to patronize those citizens (I’m one) who enjoy modest flatlands abodes and lifestyles. But take this as a challenge: We will need to make decisions that resolve conflicting opportunities to optimize outcomes. To continue my example in the form of a question, is it only appropriate to optimize non-auto access to downtown (for the convenience of those flatlanders who have practical alternatives but require affordability), or is it equally appropriate to favor downtown prosperity in part by encouraging hills dwellers to drive downtown and park? 

It’s too soon to resolve such apparently conflicting priorities. But it’s also premature to decide that only some alternatives are worth discussing, or that only some more-politically-correct current virtues should automatically dominate the debate. 

So—as Mr. Wrenn has helpfully tried to do—let’s keep opening up the discussion until we can see it all in the biggest picture possible. Only then can we begin to work toward the difficult decisions that lie ahead. 

 

Alan Tobey is a Berkeley resident. 


Arts: Justice Matters: Exhibit Examines Justice in Palestine By PETER SELZSpecial to the Planet

Friday December 02, 2005

An exhibition of limited edition fine prints addressing the transgressions of justice in Palestine is currently on view at the Berkeley Art Center. Fourteen multinational and multiethnic artists communicate their concerns in their approach. 

There is a globe, dripping with blood, and held by two bloody hands, called “Do We Have the Right to Remain Silent?” by Mildred Howard, an African-American artist, best known for her poignant installations. The San Francisco painter Holly Wong depicts a grieving old man who holds a child with blank eyes in his arms. The artist does not let us know whether the small child is dying or dead. Lisa Kokin, also from San Francisco, shows a Hebrew copy book, the kind she had probably used, with a bookmark that denotes an emp ty land. This premise is signified by the rubbed-out faces of Arabs in the pages.  

Ayed Arafa, a Palestinian living in a refugee camp, pictures a woman and child, who seem to be made of stone, much like the wall of which they appear to be a part, evoking their semi-permanent confinement. Next to it in the show we see a black and white print by the San Francisco artist Eric Drooker, known for his New Yorker covers, of a muscular young man swinging a big hammer at the Israeli Wall of Shame. 

The New York a rtist Jacqueline Salloum is represented by four short films and by a diptych addressing Caterpillar. In one panel we see the company’s PR image: pictures of beneficial work, captioned “Social Responsibility.” This is contrasted to the photographs of Cater pillar bulldozers destroying houses. Here the caption points to 1,300 Palestinian homes and a multitude of olive trees that have been destroyed by the bulldozers of the occupying power. This sardonic work stands in contrast to a powerful print by John Hal aka, a Palestinian-American who teaches at San Diego University. Halaka’s “Passage to Exile #1” is a boat sailing the open sea. The passenger of this death ship is a red body which turns into a giant red flame which takes over the picture space. 

It is no t surprising that, as I have been told, many individuals and groups have taken offense at this exhibition, which shows committed political art. The works on view take a stand against the often brutal acts committed by the occupying power against the Pales tinian people. Misinterpreting the works, the Anti-Defamation League and the Simon Wiesenthal Center have, according to the Jewish Bulletin, claimed that the work could provoke terrorist acts and is anti-Semitic. But many Jews, including myself, as well a s progressive Israelis, do believe that work that is censorious of abuses of power, no matter who carries them out, is subject to critical comment, especially by artists who believe that “Justice Matters.” 

 

The exhibition “Justice Matters: Artists Consid er Palestine” will be at the Berkeley Art Center, at 1275 Walnut St., until Dec. 17. The center is open Wed.-Sun. noon-5 p.m. Admission is free. Several concurrent lectures and panel discussion have been scheduled. For more information, call 644-6893 or s ee www.berkeleyartcenter.org.› 

 

Photograph by Jakob Schiller  

“Apartheid Wall” by Eric Drooker, one of the pieces in the “Justice Matters”  

exhibition at the Berkeley Art Center.l


Arts Calendar

Friday December 02, 2005

FRIDAY, DEC. 2 

THEATER 

Aurora Theatre “Marius” Wed.-Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 2 and 7 p.m. at 2081 Addison St., through Dec. 18. Tickets are $28-$45. 843-4822.  

Berkeley Rep “Brundibár” at the Roda Theater through Dec. 28. Ticekts are $15-$64. 647-2949. www.berkeleyrep.org 

Black Repertory Group “Dance with my Father Again” a musical biography of Luther Vandross. Fri. and Sat. at 8 p.m. through Dec. 4. Tickets are $7-$15. 652-2120. 

Contra Costa Civic Theater “Noises Off” Fri. and Sat. at 8 p.m. at 951 Pomona Ave., El Cerrito, through Dec. 10. 524-9132. www.ccct.org 

Impact Theatre “Crumble (Lay Me Down, Justin Timberlake)” Thurs. through Sun. at 8 p.m. at La Val’s Subterranean Theater, 1834 Euclid Ave., through Dec. 10. Tickets are $10-$15. 464-4468.  

Masquers Playhouse “Dear World” Fri. and Sat. at 8 p.m. through Dec. 17 at 105 Park Place, Point Richmond. Tickets are $15. 232-4031. 

Shaija Patel and Rodney Mason “Power Launch” spoken word theater at 8 p.m. at La Peña. Tickets are $10-$15. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

Shotgun Players “Cabaret” Thurs. - Sun. at 8 p.m. at the Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby Ave. 841-6500. 

EXHIBITIONS 

Michael Horse: Ledger Paintings & Jewelry Artist reception at 6:30 p.m. at Gathering Tribes Gallery, 1573 Solano Ave. 528-9038. www.gatheringtribes.com 

“Hanging New Paintings” with Eileen Van Soelen at 7 p.m. at Cafe Roma, 2960 College Ave. 

FILM 

The Battles of Sam Peckinpah “Junior Bonner” at 7 p.m. and “Straw Dogs” at 9:05 p.m. at Pacific Film Archive. Cost is $4-$8. 642-0808.  

READINGS AND LECTURES 

Ward Churchill on “Since Predator Came: Notes From the Struggle for American Indian Liberation” at 8 p.m. at Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists, 1924 Cedar St. Cost is $5-$10 at the door. 208-1700.  

Delphine Hirasuna shows slides from “The Art of Gaman: Arts and Crafts from the Japanese American Internment Camps 1942-1946” at 7:30 p.m. at Cody’s Books. 845-7852.  

MUSIC AND DANCE 

Berkeley High School Jazz Ensemble Benefit Concert for Hurricane Katrina victims at 7:30 p.m. at the Florence Schwimley Little Theater, 1929 Allston Way, on the Berkeley High School campus. Tickets are $10 at the door, free for BHS students, faculty and staff.  

Berkeley Symphony “Bitter Harvest” at 8 p.m. at Zellerbach Hall, UC Campus. Tickets are $10-$54. 841-2800.  

Califonia Bach Society “A Ceremony of Carols” by Britten at 8 p.m. at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, 2300 Bancroft Way. Pre-concert talk at 7:15 p.m. Tickets are $10-$25. 415-262-0272. www.calbach.org 

University Symphony Orchestra at 8 p.m. at Hertz Hall, UC Campus. Tickets are $3-$10. 642-4864.  

Marcelle Dronkers, soprano, at 8 p.m. at Giorgi Gallery, 2911 Claremont Ave. Cost is $12. 848-1228.  

Electric Vardo and Sila & The Afrofunk Experience “Kashmir” Benefit for earthquake victims at 9:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $13. 525-5054. 

Culture Shock Oakland Hip-Hop Workshop Showscase at 7:30 p.m. at Julia Morgan Center for the Arts. Tickets are $12-$18. 1-800-521-8311.  

E.W. Wainwright’s African Roots of Jazz at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island. Cost is $7. 841-JAZZ.  

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

Kasey Knudsen & Eric Volger, contemporary jazz, at 8 p.m. at Ristorante Raphael, 2132 Center St. 644-9500. 

Ron Thompson, blues guitarist, at 8 p.m. at Caffe Trieste, 2500 San Pablo Ave. 548-5198. 

Stonecutter, Mojo Apostles, Everest at 9:30 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $6. 841-2082.  

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

Ira Marlowe and Abel Mouton at 7:30 p.m. at Nomad Cafe. 595-5344.  

Slammin’ body music at 8 p.m. at the Jazzschool. Cost is $12-$18. 845-5373. 

Vinyl, The Get Down at 9:30 p.m. at Shattuck Down Low. Cost is $5-$8. 548-1159.  

Love Songs, The North Lincoln at 8 p.m. at 924 Gilman St. Cost is $6. 525-9926. 

Taj Mahal at 8 and 10 p.m. through Sun. at Yoshi’s at Jack London Square. Cost is $16-$26. 238-9200. www.yoshis.com 

SATURDAY, DEC. 3 

CHILDREN 

Gary Lapow at 10:30 a.m. at La Peña. Cost is $4 for adults, $3 for children. 849-2568.  

Walter the Giant Storyteller tells holiday tales at 11 a.m. at Cody’s Books on Fourth St. 559-9500. 

Splash Circus “The Snow Queen” at 2 p.m., also on Sun. at Julia Morgan Theater, 2640 College Ave. Tickets are $10-$15. 925-798-1300.  

Juan Sánchez at 11 a.m. at Berkeley Public Library, West Branch. Part of the “Fiesta de Diciembre” family program featuring music, a piñata, and refreshments. 981-6224. 

Willy Claflin, storyteller, at 10:30 a.m. in the 3rd flr. Community Room, Berkeley Public Library, 2090 Kittredge St. 981-6224. 

EXHIBITIONS 

“Art from the Heart” opening reception for artists from National Institute of Art and Disabilities from 2 to 5 p.m. at 551 23rd St., Richmond. 620-0290. www.niadart.org  

Albany Community Art Show from noon to 6 p.m. at the Albany Community Center, 1249 Marin Ave.  

“Journeys of the Spirit” Photographs by Betty McAfee from 4 to 7 p.m. at Pacific School of Religion Chapel, 1798 Scenic Ave. Donation $10. For reservations call 704-7729.  

New Work by Angie Brown and Dan Lewis Reception at 7:30 p.m. at Bootling Gallery, 4224 Telegraph Ave. www.boontlinggallery.com 

Luciano Valadez, Huichol Indian artist, at Gathering Tribes Gallery, 1573 Solano Ave. 528-9038.  

THEATER 

Living Arts Playback Theater Improvisational theater at 8 p.m. at Live Oak Theater, 1301 Shattuck Ave. Cost is $12-$18. 595-5500, ext. 25. 

Woman’s Will “Happy End” by Bertolt Brecht, Thurs. and Sat. at 7 p.m., Sun. at 2 p.m. at Luka’s Lounge, 2221 Broadway, Oakland. Tickets are $12-$25. 420-0813.  

“Dick ‘N Dubya Show: A Republican Cabaret” Sat. and Sun. at 7 p.m. at The Marsh Berkeley, 2118 Allston Way, through Dec. 18. Tickets are $10-$22. 800-838-3006.  

Moshe Cohen and Unique Derique “Cirque Do Somethin’” Sat. and Sun. at 1 p.m. at the Marsh, 2120 Allston Way. Tickets are $10-$15. 800-838-3006. 

FILM 

“Earth” at 2:30 p.m. and Taisho Chic on Screen “A Page of Madness” at 7 p.m. and “The Downfall of Osen” at 8:35 p.m. at the Pacific Film Archive. Cost is $4-$8. 642-0808.  

READINGS AND LECTURES 

Poetry Reading and Contest, with the Bay Area Poets Coalition from 3 to 5 p.m. at Strawberry Creek Lodge dining hall, 1320 Addison St. 527-9905. 

MUSIC AND DANCE  

Christmas Concert with carols and seasonal organ music at 3 p.m. at First Church of Christ, Scientist, 2619 Dwight Way. Free. 

Community Chorus and Orchestra, “Gloria” by Poulenc at 8 p.m. at St. Joseph the Worker Church, 1640 Addison St. Admission in free, donations welcome. www.bcco.org 

“Harps for the Holidays” at 8 p.m. at St. Mary Magdalene Church, 2005 Berryman. Tickets are $10-$15. 548-3326. 

University Symphony Orchestra at 8 p.m. at Hertz Hall, UC Campus. Tickets are $3-$10. 642-4864.  

Rova Saxophone Quartet at 8 p.m. at Trinity Chapel, 2320 Dana St. Tickets are $8-$12. 549-3864. 

Tallis Scholars, “Rennaissance Sacred Music” at 8 p.m. at First Congregational Church, 2345 Channing Way. Pre-performance talk at 7 p.m. Tickets are $46. 642-9988. 

Holy Names University Chorus and Chamber Singers at 4 p.m. at HNU Chapel, 3500 Mountain Blvd. Cost is $5-$15. 436-1330. 

Culture Shock Oakland Hip-Hop Workshop Showscase at 7:30 p.m. at Julia Morgan Center for the Arts. Tickets are $12-$18. 1-800-521-8311. www.shockfamily.org 

“Spin Cycle” An aerial dance performance at 8 p.m. at Studio 12, 2525 Eighth St. Tickets are $5-$15. 587-0770.  

Lichi Fuentes at 8 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $12-$14. 849-2568.  

Slick Rick, rap, at 9 p.m. at @17, 510 17th St., Oakland. Tickets are $25. www.at17th.com 

Wilson Savoy & The Pine Leaf Boys at 9 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cajun dance lesson at 8 p.m. Cost is $13$15. 525-5054. 

Peron-Spangler Interplay Quartet at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $7. 841-JAZZ.  

Carlos Oliveira & Mauro Corea, Brazillian guitar, at 8 p.m. at Ristorante Raphael, 2132 Center St. 644-9500. 

Vince Lateano Trio with Dick Whittington on piano and John Wiitala on bass, at 9 p.m. at Downtown. 649-3810. 

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

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

Geoff Muldaur & the Fountain of Youth at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $18.50-$19.50. 548-1761.  

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

The Briefs, Clit 45, Smalltown, The Abuse at 8 p.m. at 924 Gilman St. Cost is $7. 525-9926. 

SUNDAY, DEC. 4 

EXHIBITIONS 

Works by Photographer Terry Lo Reception at 2 p.m. at Nomad Cafe. 595-5344.  

“Taisho Chic: Japanese Modernity, Nostalgia and Deco” guided tour at 2 p.m. at the Berkeley Art Museum, 2625 Durant Ave. 642-0808. 

FILM 

African/African Diaspora Film Society “Sango Malo” at 2 p.m. at Parkway Theater, 1834 Park Blvd., Oakland. Cost is $5. OurFilms@aol.com  

Taisho Chic on Screen “Japanese Girls at the Harbor” at 2 p.m., “Actress” at 4 p.m. and “Crossroads” at 6:15 p.m. at the Pacific Film Archive. 642-0808.  

READINGS AND LECTURES 

Elizabeth Partridge will talk about her new book “John Lennon: All I Want is the Truth” at 2 p.m. in the Community Meeting Room, Berkeley Public Library, 2090 Kittredge St. 981-6100. 

MUSIC AND DANCE 

Berkeley Community Chorus and Orchestra, “Gloria” by Poulenc at 4:30 p.m. at St. Joseph the Worker Church, 1640 Addison St. Admission in free, donations welcome. www.bcco.org 

Handel’s “Messiah” and Community Sing-along, with the New Millennium Strings at 6 p.m. at Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley, One Lawson Rd., Kensington. Suggested donation $10. 525-0302. 

“Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming” Secular and sacred holiday music by Cantare Chorale at 3 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church, 2619 Broadway, Oakland. Tickets are $10-$30. 925-798-1300. 

“Rising Stars of St. Petersburg’s Mariinsky Academy” at 3 p.m. at Hertz Hall, UC Campus. Pre-concert talk with William Quillen at 2 p.m. Tickets are $42. 642-9988. 

WomenSing Holiday Concert “Seven Joys of Christmas” at 4 p.m. at First Congregational Church of Berkeley. Tickets are $10-$20. 925-974-9169. 

Terrain “Winter Dances: Breaking New Ground” at 3 p.m. at Western Sky Studio, 2525 Eighth St. at Dwight. Tickets are $12-$15. 848-4878. 

“Spin Cycle” An aerial dance performance at 1 p.m. at Studio 12, 2525 Eighth St. Tickets are $5-$15. 587-0770.  

Junius Courtney Big Band with Denise Perrier at 7:30 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $12-$14. 849-2568.  

Anton Schwartz Quintet with Taylor Eigsti at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $10. 841-JAZZ.  

San Francisco Saxophone Quartet at 4:30 at the Jazz- 

school. Cost is $20. 845-5373.  

Alex Pfeiffer-Rosenblum at 7:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $10. 525-5054.  

Adrian West at 11 a.m. at Nomad Cafe, 6500 Shattuck Ave. 595-5344.  

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

Champion, The First Step at 5 p.m. at 924 Gilman St. Cost is $6. 525-9926. 

MONDAY, DEC. 5 

READINGS AND LECTURES 

The Last Word poetry reading with Lucille Lang Day and Edwin Drummond at 7 p.m. at Pegasus Books, 2349 Shattuck Ave. 649-1320. 

Poetry Express with Roopa Ramamoorthi at 7 p.m., at Priya Restaurant, 2072 San Pablo Ave. berkeleypoetryexpress@yahoo.com 

Actors Reading Writers “The Spirit of Giving” stories by John Cheever and Clarence Major at 7:30 p.m. at the Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant Ave. 845-8542, ext. 376. 

MUSIC AND DANCE 

Sovoso Holiday “Seasonings” Concert at 8 and 10 p.m. at Yoshi’s at Jack London Square. Cost is $10-$14. 238-9200.  

TUESDAY, DEC. 6 

FILM 

Alternative Visions Three short films by Jonas Mekas at 7:30 p.m. at the Pacific Film Archive. Cost is $4-$8. 642-0808.  

READINGS AND LECTURES 

Yiyun Li on her debut collection of short stories about modern life in China and the United State “A Thousand Years of Good Prayers” at 7 p.m. at El Cerrito Library, 6510 Stockton Ave. 526-7512. 

Paul Krasser reads from his new book “One Hand Jerking: Reports from an Investigative Satirist” at 7:30 p.m. at Cody’s Books. 845-7852.  

MUSIC AND DANCE 

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

Teada with Cathie Ryan at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $19.50-$20.50. 548-1761.  

Gary Rowe, solo jazz piano, at 8 p.m. at Downtown. 649-3810. 

Ellen Hoffman Trio and singer’s open mic at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $5. 841-JAZZ.  

Charlie Haden’s Liberation Music Orchestra at 8 and 10 p.m. through Sun. at Yoshi’s at Jack London Square. Cost is $18-$28. 238-9200. www.yoshis.com 

Philips Marine Duo at 7 p.m. at Caffe Trieste, 2500 San Pablo Ave., at Dwight. 548-5198.  

WEDNESDAY, DEC. 7 

FILM 

The Battles of Sam Peckinpah “The Getaway” at 7:30 p.m. at the Pacific Film Archive. Cost is $4-$8. 642-0808.  

“No Man’s Land” A film program celebrating the United Nations 60th Anniversary, at 7 p.m. at 60 Evans Hall, UC Campus. 540-8017.  

EXHIBITIONS 

“Justice Matters: Artists Consider Palestine” A exhibition of works by fourteen Palestinian and American artists. Artists panel discussion at 7 p.m. at Berkeley Art Center, 1275 Walnut St. in Live Oak Park. 644-6893.  

READINGS AND LECTURES 

The Face of Poetry with photographer Margaretta K. Mitchell and poet Zach Rogow at 7:30 p.m. at Cody’s Books. 845-7852.  

MUSIC AND DANCE 

Music for the Spirit with Ron McKean, harpsichord, at noon at First Presbyterian Church of Oakland, 2619 Broadway. 444-3555. 

Central Asian Tales: Sabjilar, Choduraa Tumat & Sarymai. Lecture demonstration at 7 p.m., performance at 8:15 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $15. 525-5054. 

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

Calvin Keys Trio Invitational Jam at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island. 841-JAZZ.  

Orquestra Universal, salsa, at 9:30 p.m. at Shattuck Down Low. Cost is $5-$10. 548-1159.  

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

THURSDAY, DEC. 8 

EXHIBITIONS 

“Taisho Chic” guided tour at 12:15 and 5:30 p.m. at the Berkeley Art Museum, 2625 Durant Ave. 642-0808. 

“Oncology: Photographs from Children’s Hospital” Black and white photographs by Diane Malek. Reception at 6 p.m. at Photolab Gallery, 2235 Fifth St. 644-1400.  

Greenlining Institute’s Fall Art Review Reception at 6 p.m. at 1918 University Ave., 655-3538.  

FILM 

Marcel Pagnol’s Provence “The Well-Digger’s Daughter” at 7:30 p.m. at the Pacific Film Archive. Cost is $4-$8. 642-0808.  

“The Soul of Justice: Thelton Henderson’s American Journey” A screening of the documentary and discussion with filmaker Abby Ginsberg at noon at the Laney College Forum, 9th and Fallon St. 464-3161. 

READINGS AND LECTURES 

Poets for Peace with C.B. Follet, Ilya Kaminsky, Jeffrey Levine and others at 7:30 p.m. at Pegasus Books Downtown, 2349 Shattuck Ave. 649-1320. 

Yiyun Lee reads from her new book of short stories “A Thousand Years of Good Prayers” at 7:30 p.m. at Cody’s Books. 845-7852.  

Nomad Spoken Word Night at 7 p.m. at Nomad Cafe, 6500 Shattuck Ave. 595-5344.  

Anna Pavord reads from her new work, “The Naming of Names” at 7 p.m. at Mrs. Dalloway’s, 2904 College Ave. 704-8222. 

Word Beat Reading Series with Avotcja and Pablo Rosales at 7 p.m. at Mediterraneum Caffe, 2475 Telegraph Ave. 526-5985. 

MUSIC AND DANCE 

Jazz Night with the MLK Middle School Jazz Band and “The Potentials” at 7:30 p.m. in the MLK, Jr. Middle School Auditorium. Donations accepted. Fundraiser for the Jazz Band. 

Berkeley Saxophone Quartet at noon at the Berkeley Public Library, 2090 Kittredge St. 981-6233. 

Cris Williamson, Teresa Trull & Barbara Higbie at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $22.50-$23.50. 548-1761.  

Mad & Eddie Duran featuring Raul Ramirez at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island. Cost is. $5. 841-JAZZ. 

Home at Last, The Flux at 9:30 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $5. 841-2082. 

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

Gini Wilson, solo jazz piano, at 8 p.m. at Downtown. 649-3810.


A Guide to Holiday Music Around the Bay By JANOS GEREBEN Reprinted from San Francisco Classical Voice

Friday December 02, 2005

Music can turn any old day into a celebration, but the holiday season is a special time for concerts, with Messiah, Messiah & Messiah (not a law firm), dancing Sugar Plums, and other traditions that often provide a significant first experience of classical music.  

Any guide to holiday music in the Bay Area is fraught with difficulties: No such list can ever be complete, and the choice of what’s most important is subjective. San Francisco Classical Voice has deftly sidestepped these pitfalls by disclaiming anything approaching completeness, and listing events in chronological order.  

Just to keep things interesting, we also present three categories of concerts: traditional, offbeat, and coincidental. The first two relate to the holidays, to various degrees. But the third category contains events that just happen to take place in December, while also promising some jolly good musical merrymaking. For more information about tickets, locations, phone numbers, performance times, and other details, please visit the Web sites listed.  

And if this guide doesn’t satisfy, you’ll find a comprehensive listing of classical music performances, many holiday-related, at SFCV’s Performance Calendar at www.sfcv.org. 

 

Traditional Holiday Music 

• Lorraine Hansberry Theatre: Black Nativity gospel celebration, through Dec. 24, various times, $16-$27. www.lorrainehansberrytheatre.com. 

• San Francisco Conservatory of Music: Final performance of the school’s traditional “Sing-It-Yourself Messiah,” conducted by Bruce Lamott, Dec. 2, 8 p.m., Davies Symphony Hall, S.F. $20-$49. www.sfcm.edu. 

• California Bach Society: Brit- ten’s A Ceremony of Carols and selections from Piae Cantiones of 1582, Dec. 2, 8 p.m., St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, Berkeley; Dec. 3, 8 p.m., All Saints’ Episcopal Church, Palo Alto; Dec. 4, 4 p.m., St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church, S.F. $10-$25. www.calbach.org. 

• American Conservatory The-ater: A new musical version of A Christmas Carol, Dec. 2-24, various times, Geary Theater, S.F. $18-$80. http://act-sf.org. 

• San Francisco Ballet: Tchai-kovsky’s Nutcracker, Dec. 2-29, War Memorial Opera House, S.F. $10-$175.www.sfballet.org. 

• San Francisco Bach Choir: “Psallite,” a candlelight Christmas, Dec. 3, 8 p.m., St. Ignatius Church, S.F.; Dec. 4, 4 p.m., Calvary Presbyterian Church, S.F. $15-$26. www.sfbach.org.  

• Sacred & Profane: Christmas and Advent motets by Rheinberger and Poulenc, Dec. 3, 8 p.m., Trinity Lutheran Church, Walnut Creek; Dec. 10, 8 p.m., St. Ambrose Church, Berkeley; Dec. 11, 2 p.m., St. John the Evangelist Church, S.F. $12-$15. www.sacredprofane.org. 

• UC Berkeley Chamber Chorus: Concert of French Christmas music and carols, Dec. 7, noon, Hertz Hall, Berkeley. Free. Also, “Holiday Music with a French Accent and Southern Twist,” Dec. 10, 8 p.m., St. Mary’s College, Moraga. $12-$25. http://ls.berkeley.edu/dept/music/calendar.html. 

• San Francisco Guitar Ensemble: A holiday guitar concert, Dec. 9, 8 p.m., Old First Church, S.F. $12-$15. http://www.oldfirstconcerts.org. 

• Voci: “Psalms and canticles of praise and comfort,” Dec. 9, 8 p.m., Lake Merritt United Methodist Church, Oakland; Dec. 10, 3 p.m., St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, Berkeley. $15-$20. www.coolcommunity.org/voci.  

• Philharmonia Baroque Orche-stra: Handel’s Messiah, as orchestrated by Mozart, Dec. 8, 7:30 p.m., Herbst Theatre, S.F.; Dec. 9, 7:30 p.m., First United Methodist Church, Palo Alto; Dec. 10, 7:30 p.m. and Dec. 11, 7 p.m., First Congregational Church, Berkeley. $33-$67. www.philharmonia.org. 

• Magnificat: Charpentier’s Nativity Pastorale, Dec. 9, 8 p.m., First Lutheran Church, Palo Alto; Dec. 10, 8 p.m., St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, Berkeley; Dec. 11, 4 p.m., St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church, S.F. $12-$25. www.magnificatbaroque.org. 

• Mark Morris Dance Group: The Hard Nut, Dec. 9-18, various times, Zellerbach Hall, Berkeley. $32-$60. www.calperfs.berkeley.edu. 

• Black Repertory Group: They Sing Christmas in Harlem, Dec. 9-20, various times, Berkeley. $7-$20. www.blackrepertorygroup.com. 

• San Francisco Girls Chorus: “Et in Terra Pax” concert of holiday music and sing-along Christmas carols, Dec. 9, 8 p.m., Lafayette-Orinda Presbyterian Church, Lafayette; Dec. 16, St. Raphael’s Church, San Raphael; Dec. 21, 8 p.m., Davies Symphony Hall, S.F. www.sfgirlschorus. org. 

• Oakland East Bay Symphony: Singalong Messiah, featuring an unusual lineup of soloists, including “American Idol” finalist LaToya London and Mexican mariachi star Juanita Ulloa, Dec. 10, 8 p.m., Paramount Theatre, Oakland. $15-$28. www.oebs.org.  

• Pacific Boychoir: “Harmonies of the Season,” with the music of Britten, Elgar, and Rutter, Dec. 10, 7 p.m., First Presbyterian Church, Oakland; Dec. 11, 5 p.m., St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Oakland; Dec. 17, 7 p.m., St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, Belvedere. $15-$20. www.pacificboychoir.org. 

• San Francisco Choral Artists: “A Medieval Christmas,” featuring Britten’s Ceremony of Carols and world premieres of works by Aprahamian and Mollicone, Dec. 10, 8 p.m., St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, Palo Alto; Dec. 17, St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church, S.F.; Dec. 18, 4 p.m., St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Oakland. $12-$25. www.sfca.org.  

• Piedmont Choirs: Candlelight concert, Dec. 11, 3 p.m., Old First Church, S.F. $12-$15. www.piedmontchoirs.org. 

• San Francisco Symphony: Messiah has passed already, but remaining holiday concerts include the Deck the Halls Children’s Party, Dec. 11 at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.; Colors of Christmas, Dec. 13-15 at 8 p.m.; Choral Christmas Spectacular, Dec. 16-17 at 8 p.m. and Dec. 18 at 2 p.m.; Peter and the Wolf, Dec. 17 at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.; The Wondrous Sounds of Christmas, Dec. 18, 2 p.m.; A Gospel Christmas, Dec. 18, 7 p.m.; and the Count Basie Orchestra, Dec. 22, 7 p.m., Davies Symphony Hall. $18-$77. www.sfsymphony.org. 

• Chanticleer: Sacred and traditional choral music of the holidays, Dec. 11-23, in a half-dozen Northern California locations. $25-$42. www.chanticleer.org.  

• American Bach Soloists: Messiah, Dec. 14, Mission Dolores, S.F.; Dec. 15, Grace Cathedral, S.F.; Dec. 16-17, Mondavi Center, Davis; all at 7:30 p.m. $18-$50. www.americanbach.org. 

• San Francisco Early Music Society: “El Mundo—music of the season from Italy, Spain, and Latin America,” Dec. 16, 8 p.m., First Lutheran Church, Palo Alto; Dec. 17, 8 p.m., First Congregational Church, Berkeley; Dec. 18., 4 p.m., St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church, S.F. $22-$25. www.sfems.org. 

 

Offbeat Performances 

• National Jewish Theatre: Meshuga Nutcracker, “a new Chanukah musical,” Dec. 1-4, various times, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Thrust Stage; Dec. 13-18, various times, University of San Francisco, Presentation Theater, S.F. $18-$36. www.njtf.org. 

• Other Minds: A New Music Séance of “spiritual and hypnotic classical music,” Dec. 3, 2 p.m., 5:30 p.m., and 8 p.m. (three distinct concert sets), Swedenborgian Church, S.F. $20-$50. www.otherminds.org. 

• San Francisco Conservatory of Music: The Opera Theater presents Hansel & Gretel, Dec. 10-11, 1 p.m. and 4 p.m., Hellman Hall, S.F. Free, but reservations needed. www.sfcm.edu. 

• Theatre of Yugen: The originator of the memorable kabuki Christmas Carol some years back now presents the Tori-no-ichi, or “Lucky Rake” Festival, which is held in Japan before New Year’s. The event features the Kyogen comedy Persimmon Mountain Priest and experimental Noh dances to Christmas music. Dec. 11, 2 p.m., NOHspace, S.F. $5 (adults), kids free. www.theatreofyugen.org. 

• San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus: “Home for the Holidays,” marking the 40th anniversary of A Charlie Brown Christmas, Dec. 15, 7 p.m., and Dec. 24, 5 p.m., 7 p.m., and 9 p.m., Castro Theatre, S.F. $15-$20. www.sfgmc. org. 

 

Coincidental Music Around the Holidays 

• San Francisco Conservatory of Music: Student recitals and ensemble concerts, Dec. 1-16, various times. Free. www.sfcm. edu. 

• Trinity Chamber Concerts: Rova Saxophone Quartet, Dec. 3, 8 p.m., Trinity Chapel, Berkeley. $8-$12. www.trinitychamberconcerts.com. 

• San Francisco Lyric Opera: Mozart’s Abduction From the Seraglio, Dec. 9-17, 7:30 p.m., Palace of the Legion of Honor, Florence Gould Theatre, S.F. $15-$28. www.sflyricopera.org. 

• San Francisco Contemporary Music Players: “Dazzling New Music From France,” including U.S. premieres of works by Philippe Leroux and Philippe Hurel, Dec. 12, 8 p.m., Herbst Theatre. S.F. $12-$27. www.sfcmp.org.  

• San Francisco Performances: “The Monumental Brahms,” with the Alexander String Quartet and Robert Greenberg, Dec. 17, 10 a.m., St. John’s Presbyterian Church, Berkeley. $29. www.performances.org. 

 

This article originally appeared in San Francisco Classical Voice (www.sfcv.org), the Bay Area’s most complete source of classical music news and reviews. Janos Gereben is a regular contributor to San Francisco Classical Voice.


A Taste of Hawaii Right Here in Berkeley By JOE EATON Special to the Planet

Friday December 02, 2005

In retrospect, it was the best possible introduction: stumbling into Ono Hawaiian Foods, a hole-in-the-wall on Kapahulu Avenue in Waikiki, after walking from the hotel almost to Diamond Head and back, and ordering the laulau. I wasn’t sure what I was in for except that it involved pork and taro leaves, but we had just seen the white terns of Kapiolani Park and felt like celebrating with something local.  

The laulau turned out to be a kind of Polynesian tamale, with an outer wrapping of (inedible) ti leaves surrounding falling-apart-tender pork, taro greens that reminded me of well-done collards, and what appeared to be a hunk of fat but was more likely salted butterfish. Tasty, though. Lomi salmon, pipikaula (dried beef), and tangy day-old poi on the side. And I got to sample kalua pig, which has nothing to do with the liqueur: it’s like Carolina-style pulled pork without the heat, traditionally pork butt cooked in an underground earth oven called an imu. “Kalua” means “baked” or “to bake,” according to my handy Pocket Hawaiian Dictionary.  

Traditional South Pacific societies were pork-positive. The islands of Micronesia and Polynesia had a limited inventory of edible land mammals, once you got beyond fruit bat range, and the large flightless birds that the voyagers discovered did not last long. Pigs, though, held up well on long canoe trips and could pretty much fend for themselves after landfall. The descendants of the pigs that the first colonizers brought to Hawaii are genetically close to New Guinean stock, and were probably acquired by the Lapita people, the ancestors of the Polynesians, during early contact with the Papuans some 3,500 years ago.  

Clearly pork was still taken seriously in Hawaii. But it wasn’t until a couple of days after that dinner at Ono Foods that I got the point of the plate lunch. A Hawaiian plate lunch consists of two scoops of rice and a scoop of macaroni salad surrounding the kalua pig (AKA kalua pork), or something barbecued or fried; could be adobo, could be Korean shortribs, could be chicken katsu. In this case, at a nondescript drive-in down the road from Waimea on Oahu’s North Shore, it was mahi-mahi, probably not too long out of the Pacific (right across the highway) and done just right.  

As Rachel Laudan explains in The Food of Paradise: Exploring Hawaii’s Culinary Heritage, a favorite work of sociology-with-recipes, Hawaiian cooks were doing fusion long before that trend was born on the mainland, and not being the least bit self-conscious about it. She calls Local Food a Creole cuisine, the culinary equivalent to the language the islands’ peoples patched together from native Hawaiian, English, Chinese, Japanese, Portuguese, Korean, Filipino. The plate lunch tradition is a global potluck: Japanese deepfrying techniques, Korean marinades, Portuguese sausages, and always the mac salad and the rice. And as vernacular food should be, it’s cheap: that mahi lunch set us back less than five bucks.  

Which, allowing for portion size, is close to what you’ll pay for most items at Wikiwiki Hawaiian BBQ, on Shattuck Avenue on the site of a defunct rotisserie chicken operation. If you haven’t noticed, Hawaiian barbecue joints are the latest fast-food phenomenon. Waikiki Barbecue on San Pablo in El Cerrito has been around for something like a year, and there are a couple of chains with multiple franchises all over the East Bay. This is a happy development. I’ve tried a few of them, and while none have supplanted Ono Foods in my affections, none have been really bad either. 

Wikiwiki lets you try the laulau and kalua pork as a combo ($8.95)—kind of a pork sampler. Both were acceptable, but I’d go with the kalua pork on points: tender to the point of unctuous, with a smokiness that undoubtedly came from a bottle instead of a pit oven, but was still just about right. You can get it on its own, in either regular (two scoops of rice) or mini (single scoop) portions, $7.25 and $4.75 respectively. 

Ron ordered the fried mahi ($6.25 regular, $4.50 mini), which suffered by comparison with our memories of the North Shore—probably pre-breaded, not terrible, but nothing to write home about. She plans to get something barbecued next time, and there are lots of options: short ribs ($6.75/$4.75), chicken ($5.75/$4.25), teriyaki steak ($6.25/$4.75). 

For the curious or the hard-core nostalgic, Wikiwiki offers both Spam musubi ($1.75) and locomoco ($5.75), the latter involving a hamburger patty, a fried egg, and brown gravy, over rice. Sides include kimchee and fries. No poi, no poke (Hawaii’s answer to ceviche, usually involving raw tuna, soy sauce, and seaweed), no lomi salmon, no beer—but a full range of Hawaiian Sun fruit drinks. 

Décor is minimal. Takeout is available, and they also cater. 

It seems like a good place to have within walking distance. Sometimes you just need a dose of the islands, and it can be a long time between Aloha Festivals at the Presidio, or even between Aloha Sundays at the TempleBar. Even without the nostalgia or the rum drinks, Hawaiian grinds (to borrow a Localism) can be deeply satisfying. 

 

 

 

 

 

Photograph by Jakob Schiller 

Cal Hawaii Club members Stephanie Hall, 19, and Brianna Matsuura, 19, await their meal at Wikiwiki Hawaiian Barbeque on Shattuck Avenue. ?


Berkeley This Week

Friday December 02, 2005

FRIDAY, DEC. 2 

“The Incredible Shrinking Map of Palestine” with Jerry and Sis Levin at 7 p.m. at St. Joseph the Worker Church, 1640 Addison St. Donations accepted. 845-4740. 

Ward Churchill on “Since Predator Came: Notes From the Struggle for American Indian Liberation” at 8 p.m. at Berkeley Fellowship, 1924 Cedar St. Cost is $5-$10 at the door. 208-1700.  

City Commons Club Noon Luncheon with Burton Dragin on “The Social Connsequences of Legalized Gambling” Luncheon at 11:45 a.m. for $13.50, speech at 12:30 p.m., at the Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant St. 526-2925. 

“Martin and Malcolm: Implication of Their Legacies for the Future,” with Dr. Cornel West and Imam Zaid Shakir at 8 p.m. at Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center, 10 Tenth St. Cost is $20. 238-7765. 

“An Evening with Angela Y. Davis” at 8 p.m. at First Congregational Church of Oakland, 2501 Harrison St. at 25th. Tickets are $10-$12. Benefits KPFA. 848-6767, ext. 609.  

Job and Resource Fair with over 40 local companies and community-based service providers, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the North Oakland Senior Center, 5714 MLK, Jr. Way, Oakland. Hosted by Oakland Adult Education, OUSD. 879- 4020. 

PEN Oakland National Literary Awards at 5:30 p.m. at Elihu Harris State Building, 1515 Clay St. Free. 228-6775. 

Pre-Kwanzaa Celebration at 6 p.m. at the Oakland Museum of California. Free with museum admission. After hours party with music by Trace Ellington is $15. 238-2200. 

Holiday Plant Sale from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the UC Botanical Garden, 200 Centennial Drive, through Dec. 12. 643-2755. 

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

SATURDAY, DEC. 3 

Walking Tour of the New Downtown Plan Area with the Downtown Area Plan Advisory Committee. Meet at 8:30 a.m. at Aurora Theater, 2081 Addison St. 981-7487. 

“A Question of Conscience” Martin Sheen & Fr. Roy Bourgeois in conversation about their lives, work and the legacy of Fr. Bill O’Donnell at 7:30 p.m. at Newman Hall, 2700 Dwight Way. Benefit for the San Carlos Foundation. Tickets are $25 for the talk, $25 for the reception. 525-3787. 

Kids’ Garden Club We plant, harvest, build, make crafts, cook and get dirty. For ages 7-12, from 2 to 4 p.m. at Tilden Nature Area, Tilden Park. Cost is $6-$8. Registration required. 525-2233. www.ebparks.org 

Berkeley River Restoration Symposium An assessment of Bay Area channel-reconstruction restoration projects from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 112 Wurster Hall, UC Campus. 658-3984. 

“The Greening of Cuba” Film and discussion at 7 p.m. at Casa Cuba Resource Center, 6501 Telegraph Ave., near Alcatraz, Oakland. 658-3984. casacuba@california.com 

East Bay Sanctuary Covenant Holiday Crafts Fair Unique gifts at reasonable prices from indigenous worker cooperatives in Central America, Africa, Asia and Haiti from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at First Congregational Church, 2345 Channing. 524-7989. 

Middle East Children’s Alliance Palestinian Hand Crafts from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Berkeley Friends’ Meeting, 2151 Vine St.  

Pit Fix Day at the Berkeley-East Bay Humane Society. Have your pit bull spayed or neutered for free. For an appointment call 845-7735. 

Berkeley Farmers’ Market Holiday Crafts Fair from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Center St. at MLK Jr. Way. 548-3333. 

“Playing With Fire” Berkeley Potters Guild Holiday Sale from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sat. and Sun. at 731 Jones St. at Fourth St. www.berkeleypotters.com 

Albany Community Art Show from noon to 6 p.m. at the Albany Community Center, 1249 Marin Ave. 

Kensington Holiday Street Fair from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Arlington Ave. and Colusa Circle business districts. 525-3993. 

American Indian Craft Fair and Pow-Wow on Sat. from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sun. from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Gymnasium at Merritt College, 12500 Campus Drive, Oakland. Benefits the American Indian Child Resource Center. 208-1807, ext. 305. 

Bay Area Ridge Trail Luncheon at 12:30 p.m. at the Trudeau Center, Skyline Drive, Oakland. Tickets are $75. 415-561-2595. www.ridgetrail.org 

Nature’s Holiday Learn what winter means to zoo and local animals for ages 12-14, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Oakland Zoo. Cost is $40-$50. For reservations call 632-9525, ext. 205. 

California Clean Money and Fair Elections Act Forum at 10 a.m. at Oakland City Hall’s Hearing Room 2, 1 Frank Ogawa Plaza. Sponsored by Alameda County Council of the Leagues of Women Voters. 339-1994. 

Grand Lake Farmers’ Market Goes GE Free Celebrate freedom from genetically engineered foods with a screening of “Futre of Food,” discussions and information on how to shop for healthy food. From 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at Grand Lake Neighborhood Center, 530 Lake Park Way, Oakland. www.gmofreeac.org 

Berkeley Artisans Holiday Open Studios Sat. and Sun. from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. For a map of locations see www.berkeleyartisans.com 

BHS Communication Arts and Sciences Calendar Sale Wall, desk and enagement calendars on a variety of topics for only $5, from noon to 2 p.m., also on Sun. at 2310 Valley St., 3 blocks west of Sacramento St., off Channing Way. 843-2780. 

Sunset Walk at Emeryville Marina meet at 3:30 p.m. at the west side of Chevy’s Restaurant. Rain cancels. Sponsored by Solo Sierrans. 234-8949. 

Freedom From Tobacco from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Alta Bates Medical Center, First Floor Auditorium, 2450 Ashby Ave. Also on Dec. 17. Free hypnosis available. Free, but registration required. 981-5330.  

Fungus Fair: A Celebration of Wild Mushrooms, Sat. from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sun. from noon to 5 p.m. at the Oakland Museum of California, 10th and Oak Sts. 238-2200.  

Sick Plant Clinic UC plant pathologist Dr. Robert Raabe, UC entomologist Dr. Nick Mills, and their team of experts will diagnose what ails your plants from 9 a.m. to noon at the UC Botanical Garden, 200 Centennial Dr. 643-2755.  

Kids’ Night Out For children ages 4.5 to 10, from 5 to 10 p.m. at Berkwood Hedge School. Cost is $40 for one child, $25 for siblings. 540-6025. 

Free Emergency Preparedness Class on Basic Personal Preparedness from 10 a.m. to noon at North Berkeley Senior Center. To sign up call 981-5506. 

Managing Foreign Exchange A business workshop from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at Vista College, Allston Way Annex, Room 110, 2075 Allston Way. To register call 981-2927. 

Flu and Pneumonia Shots from noon to 4 p.m. at Pharmaca Integrative Pharmacy, 1744 Solano Ave. Cost is $25 and $35. 527-8929. 

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

SUNDAY, DEC. 4 

Annual Art Show & Holiday Faire from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Kensington Unitarian Universalist Church, One Lawson Rd, Kensington. 

Richmond Art Center Holiday Arts Festival with silent art auction, arts and crafts sale and children’s activities from noon to 5 p.m. at 2540 Barrett Ave. 620-6772. 

Oakland Elizabeth House Arts and Crafts Fair Fundraiser from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at St. Augustine’s Gymnasium, 400 Alcatraz. 658-1380. 

East Bay Sanctuary Covenant Holiday Crafts Fair Unique gifts at reasonable prices from indigenous worker cooperatives in Central America, Africa, Asia and Haiti from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at First Congregational Church, 2345 Channing. 524-7989. 

Santa Paws at Berkeley-East Bay Humane Society Come have your pet(s)’ photo taken with Santa, or with a more generic Holiday theme for only $25, from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at 2700 Ninth St. For an appointment call 845-7735 ext. 13. 

“Solar Electricity For Your Home” A workshop on how to size, specify and design your own solar electrical generator. From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Building Education Center, 812 Page St. Cost is $75. 525-7610. 

“The Future of Struggle: Movement Veterans Discuss the Lessons of Yesterday, Today” with Ward Churchill, Kathleen Cleaver, Bo Brown, Mike James, Barry Romo and Elizabeth Martinez, at 6:30 p.m. at First Unitarian Church of Oakland, 685 14th St. Tickets are $15. 208-1700. www.akpress.org 

African/African Diaspora Film Society “Sango Malo” at 2 p.m. at Parkway Theater, 1834 Park Blvd. Cost is $5. OurFilms@aol.com  

Up the Lights Celebration Make a light sculpture and listen to stories, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Habitot, 2065 Kittredge. Cost is $6 for children, $5 for adults. 647-1111.  

“Yidl with His Fiddle” a Yiddish musical comedy film at 4 p.m. at BRJCC. Cost is $5. 848-0237. 

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 

MONDAY, DEC. 5 

“Urban Bird Life” with Alan Kaplan, recently retired East Bay Regional Parks District naturalist at 7 p.m. at Albany Community Center, 1249 Marin Ave., at Masonic. Sponsored by Friends of Five Creeks. 848-9358. 

Berkeley School Volunteers Workshop for volunteers interested in helping the public schools, from 3 to 4:30 p.m. at 1835 Allston Way. 644-8833. 

Holiday Blood Drive from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Tippett Studio, 2741 Tenth St. To schedule an appointment see www.BeADonor.com 

Berkeley CopWatch organizational meeting at 8 p.m. at 2022 Blake St. 548-0425. 

Sing-A-Long from 10 to 11 a.m. at the Albany Senior Center, 846 Masonic Ave. 524-9122.  

Beginning Bridge Lessons at 11:10 a.m. at the Albany Senior Center, 846 Masonic Ave. Cost is $1. 524-9122. 

TUESDAY, DEC. 6 

“Snowcamping 101” Learn the basics of safe and enjoyable ski or snowshoe travel at 7 p.m. at REI, 1338 San Pablo Ave. 527-4140. 

“Nourishing Holidays” How to survive the stress at 7 p.m. at Teleosis Institute, 1521B Fifth St. Cost is $5-$10. RSVP to 558-7285. www.teleosis.org 

“How to be Your Own Sleep Consultant” for parents of babies at 7 p.m. at Bananas, 5232 Claremont Ave., Oakland. To register call 658-7353. 

Berkeley Salon Discussion Group meets to discuss “Films in Our Culture” from 7 to 9 p.m. at the BRJCC, 1414 Walnut St. 527-1022. 

Holiday Blood Drive from noon to 6 p.m. at the MLK Student Union, UC Campus. To schedule an appointment see www.BeADonor.com 

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. 

Free Handbuilding Ceramics Class 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at St. John’s Senior Center, 2727 College Ave. Also, Mon. noon to 4 p.m. at the South Berkeley Senior Center. Materials and firing charges not included. 525-5497. 

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

Introduction to Buddhist Meditation at 7 p.m. at the Dzalandhara Buddhist Center in Berkeley. Cost is $7-$10. Call for directions. 559-8183.  

“Ask the Social Worker” free consultations for older adults and their families from 10 a.m. to noon at BRJCC, 1414 Walnut St. To schedule an appointment call 558-7800, ext. 716. 

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

WEDNESDAY, DEC. 7 

“No Man’s Land” A film program celebrating the United Nations 60th Anniversary, at 7 p.m. at 60 Evans Hall, UC Campus. 540-8017.  

New Heroes Social Entrepreneurship Forum Learn how social entrepreneurs are using business techniques to challenge poverty and injustice at 7:30 p.m. at La Peña. Free. 622-0202. 849-2568.  

Help “Save The Bay” Plant Natives We will transplant native marsh seedlings and do maintenance at our nursery to prepare for winter planting projects. Gloves, tools and snacks provided. From 1 to 3 p.m. at Martin Luther King, Jr. Regional Shoreline, Oakland. 452-9261, ext. 109.  

Holiday Wreath Making from 7 to 9 p.m. at UC Botanical Garden, 200 Centennial Drive. Cost is $25-$30. Greenery provided but bring your own pruners. Registration required. 643-2755. 

Berkeley Communicators Toastmasters welcomes curious guests and new members at 7:15 a.m. at Au Coquelet Cafe, 2000 University Ave. at Milvia. 435-5863.  

Entrepreneurs Networking at 8 a.m. at A’Cuppa Tea, 3202 College Ave. at Alcatraz. Cost is $5. 562-9431.  

“Living with Ones and Twos” Information for parents at 7 p.m. at Bananas, 5232 Claremont Ave., Oakland. To register call 658-7353. 

American Red Cross Blood Services Volunteer Orientation from 10 a.m. to noon at its Claremont Ave. office in Oakland. 594-5165.  

Survival Guide for Working with Bad Bosses with Gini Graham Scott at 5:30 p.m. at the Linen Life Park Avenue Gallery, 1375 Park Ave., Emeryville. RSVP to 339-1625. 

Bookmark Nonfiction Reading Group meets to discuss James Baldwin’s “The Price of the Ticket” at 6:30 p.m. at 721 Washington St., Oakland. 336-0902. 

Acupuncture and Integrative Medicine College Open House at 6 p.m. at 2550 Shattuck Ave. Tours of classrooms and clinics and information for prospective students. To RSVP call 666-8248, ext. 106.  

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

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

Sing your Way Home A free sing-a-long at 4:30 p.m. every Wed. at the Albany Library, 1247 Marin Ave. 526-3720. 

Prose Writer’s Workshop An ongoing group made up of friendly writers who are serious about our craft. All levels welcome. At 7 p.m. at BRJCC, 1414 Walnut St. 848-0237.  

Berkeley Peace Walk and Vigil at 6:30 p.m. followed by Peace Walk at 7 p.m. at the Berkeley BART station. www. 

geocities.com/vigil4peace/vigil 

THURSDAY, DEC. 8 

“The Soul of Justice: Thelton Henderson’s American Journey” A screening of the documentary and discussion with filmaker Abby Ginsberg at noon at the Laney College Forum, 9th and Fallon St. 464-3161. 

Scoping Session on the University’s Development Plans for the Southeast Campus at 7 p.m. at Booth Auditorium, Boalt Hall, UC Campus. Neighbors and community members encouraged to attaned. 642-7720. www.cp.berkeley.edu 

“Make Your Own Journal” A workshop for teens at 4 p.m. at South Branch, 1901 Russell St. Supplies are free. To reserve a place call 981-6147. 

Holiday Wreath Making from 7 to 9 p.m. at UC Botanical Garden, 200 Centennial Drive. Cost is $25-$30. Greenery provided but bring your own pruners. Registration required. 643-2755. 

Berkeley Palma Soriano Sister City Benefit “Art, Dance and Vision of Cuba” at 7 p.m. at La Peña. Donation $10-$15. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

Healthy Eating During the Holidays with Ed Bauman at 5:30 p.m. at Pharmaca Integrative Pharmacy, 1744 Solano Ave. 527-8929. 

Easy Does It Disability Assistance Board of Directors Meeting, open to the public, at 6:30 p.m. at Seventh Day Adventist Church, 2236 Parker St. 845-5513. www.easyland.org 

World of Plants Tours Thurs., Sat. and Sun. at 1:30 p.m. at the UC Botanical Garden, 200 Centennial Drive. Cost is $5. 643-2755. 

ONGOING 

Warm Coat Drive Donate a coat for distribution in the community, at Bay St., Emeryville. Sponsored by the Girl Scouts. www.onewarmcoat.org 

Magnes Museum Docent Training begins Jan. 8. Open to all who are interested in Jewish art and history. For information contact Faith Powell at 549-6950, ext. 333. 

CITY MEETINGS 

Creeks Task Force meets Mon. Dec. 5, at the North Berkeley Senior Center. Erin Dando, 981-7410. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/ 

planning/landuse/Creeks/default.html 

Council Agenda Committee meets Mon. Dec. 5, at 2:30 p.m., at 2180 Milvia St. 981-6900. 

www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/ 

citycouncil/agenda-committee 

Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board meets Mon., Dec. 5, at 7 p.m. in City Council Chambers, Pam Wyche, 644-6128 ext. 113. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/rent 

Landmarks Preservation Commission meets Mon., Dec. 5, at 7:30 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center. Gisele Sorensen, 981-7419. www.ci.berkeley.ca. 

us/commissions/landmarks 

Parks and Recreation Commission meets Mon., Dec. 5, at 7 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center. Virginia Aiello, 981-5158. www.ci.berkeley.ca. 

us/commissions/parksandrecreation 

Youth Commission meets Mon., Dec. 5, at 6:30 p.m., at 1730 Oregon St. Philip Harper-Cotton, 981-6670. www.ci.ber 

keley.ca.us/commissions/youth 

City Council meets Tues., Dec. 6, at 7 p.m in City Council Chambers. 981-6900. www.ci. 

berkeley.ca.us/citycouncil 

Commission on the Status of Women meets Wed., Dec. 7, at 7:30 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center. Tasha Tervelon, 981-5190. www.ci.berkeley. 

ca.us/commissions/women 

Energy Commission meets Wed., Dec. 7, at 6:30 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center. Neal De Snoo, 981-5434. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/commissions/energy 

Fire Safety Commission meets Wed., Dec. 7, at 7:30 p.m. at 997 Cedar St. David Orth, 981-5502. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/commissions/firesafety 

Community Health Commission meets Thurs., Dec. 8, at 6:45 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center. Kristin Tehrani, 981-5356. www.ci.berkeley. 

ca.us/commissions/health 

Zoning Adjustments Board meets Thurs., Dec. 8, at 7 p.m., in City Council Chambers. Mark Rhoades, 981-7410. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/commissions/zoning  

 

 

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The Art of Doing it Right By ELI LEON Special to the Planet

Tuesday November 29, 2005

When I first went to look at Ernestine Camp’s quilts in the early 1980s, I didn’t expect the work to be of much interest to me. The improvisational African-American patchwork I’d been collecting and documenting was generally made by women who’d had littl e education and worked at jobs that required no formal training. 

Ernestine, on the other hand, was a solidly middle-class schoolteacher with two master’s degrees. Indeed, Ernestine’s ranch-style residence turned out to be in one of East Oakland’s more af fluent neighborhoods. The quilts I was seeking almost always came from far less prosperous surroundings. 

But Ernestine was friendly and eager to show me what she’d done, and I told myself that you could never be certain about what might turn up. After ou r initial greetings, she ushered me into her front room and went off to fetch the quilts. I looked around. The room was a study in beige. I might have been in suburbia. Ernestine returned with a neatly folded stack of pristine quilts, which turned out, as expected, to be precisely pieced from published patterns. Not the kind I was looking for. (“Piecing” a quilt refers to the sewing together of the many patches that make up the decorative front layer, known as the “quilt top.”) 

I did what I always do whe n the quilts are outside my sphere of interest—tried to appreciate them for what they were. After I’d extolled the virtues of the first few, however, Ernestine spread out a crib-sized quilt top that totally engaged me. Appliquéd in an unfamiliar pattern a nd using pieces that had not been rigorously measured, each square pictured a boy bouncing a ball. 

Every figure was slightly different from the next—positioned higher in its square perhaps, or wearing a smaller hat, looser shirt, or pointier shoes. All o f these variations contributed to a sense of movement. The quiltmaker had executed each repetition in a different fabric as well, ranging from prints and solids to plaids and stripes. These fabrics were from the 1930s—clearly before Ernestine’s time.  

It turned out that Ernestine’s mother-in-law, Inena Camp, was the quiltmaker. Where? When? I wanted to know everything about it. It had been pieced in Chesnee, South Carolina—nobody knew exactly when—and given to Ernestine’s family after Inena’s death in 19 79. I started taking hurried notes. Ernestine couldn’t help noticing my fervor. She examined me with no small curiosity. What in the Lord’s name, she wanted to know, was it about this quilt top that had so caught my fancy? 

Most of my friends and acquaintances, by then, had heard more than enough about my current obsession. So I was delighted to have an attentive audience. Although her own quilts were quite beautiful, I assured Ernestine, my particular interest was in spontaneously crafted work. I’d been noticing that some African-American quilts, like some African textiles, were improvisational. I’d furthermore been working on the theory that some characteristics of this type of quilt—so frowned upon in standard-traditional circles—were at least p artly A frican-derived, embodying survivals and transformations of African ideals. 

Ernestine was all ears, her interest fueling the fire. Once I got going, I couldn’t rein myself in. I went on to explain that what were perceived as “mistakes” in the stan dard tra dition were often quite acceptable to, and sometimes prized by, craftspeople working in the improvisational mode. That, in fact, the consequent variation added all kinds of interest to the resulting one-of-a-kind design. That .... 

But I was stopped in my tracks. To my astonishment, Ernestine started to cry. She sat down and silently wept, tears blanketing her face. I sat across the room and—glancing up from time to time to see if she wanted to talk—told myself to let the emotion run its course. Eventually, Ernestine told me what was going on. 

She and her mother-in-law were both quilting enthusiasts. They had tried, in fact, to get a joint venture going. But they’d repeatedly “clashed”; Ernestine “wanted the quilt to be very well-put-together” and Inena didn’t think that was worth the bother. They’d finally had to give up working on the same quilts because Ernestine couldn’t stop prodding Inena to do it right. 

“I didn’t like her working on quilts that I worked on,” she said. “I really liked to get my st itches even and straight and she didn’t think that was important.” 

This started Ernestine crying again. Now, she explained through her tears, she could see that her mother-in-law had been doing it right for her all along. She shook her head, fi shed a tis sue out of her purse, patted her cheeks. But it was too late to do anything about it. Inena had died young—not that many years ago. She couldn’t go back and tell her sweet-hearted mother-in-law how sorry she was for giving her a hard time. 

The little top wasn’t for sale at this point—maybe never had been—so we hung it over the front doorway, where there was no direct sunlight at that time of day, and chatted amicably while I took as many photographs as I could justify—widely bracketing, zeroing in on det ails, and so on. Then I made copies of Ernestine’s photos of Inena. I never knew if I’d have a second chance at documenting those quilts that I wasn’t able to buy. 

After this eventful first meeting, Ernestine and I crossed paths from time to time. It see med like we’d bonded. I, at least, felt a special kinship to her and, some years later, she decided to entrust the little top to me. I was in heaven. As with much improvisational work, I never tire of looking at Boy Bouncing Ball. 

I had it q uilted by Willia Ette Graham and Johnnie Wade—expert African-American quiltmakers whose stitches suited it perfectly. But not before Roberta Horton published a black-and-white picture of the unquilted top in Plaids and Stripes: the Use of Directional Fabr ic in Quilts, which Ernestine and her family got to have as a memento. Now they’ll have another. This time, however, it will be in color. 

 

Eli Leon is a local quilt collector and scholar. See www.elileon.com. 

 

 

One day, I found a clutch of posters at a y ard sale so rich that I tracked down the artist, Eli Leon. They were mostly from the Free University of Berkeley, which flourished in the late 1960s. Since I manage a vast political poster archive, I was tickled to come upon them, and then to find Leon wh o, to my disappointment, had quit doing posters. He was now collecting multitudes of African-American quilts. 

But how neat it was, to meet someone else nutty enough to collect something seriously that mostly was passed over. And what a storage problem he had! For quilts were so much bulkier than posters. And those this fellow had gathered were loaded with history and such a wealth of graphic riches that my jaw dropped. Eli saw the same spirit of improvisation in this art form as in jazz, blues and gospel, derived presumably from African roots. And he has followed this recognition out concretely, in a long series of exhibits and writings, in an authoritative and generous career. 

He’s now working on a memoir of his collecting years. Here is one of the chapters; its qualities speak for the man. 

 

—Michael Rossman?n


Peralta Replaces Firm Overseeing Vista College Construction By J. DOUGLAS ALLEN-TAYLOR

Tuesday November 29, 2005

A contract dispute between the Peralta Community College District and a San Jose construction inspection firm over the Vista College construction project have left district and company officials squabbling over why the firm stopped work in July and whether Peralta will pay the firm $130,000. 

It also has the company threatening legal action if it doesn’t get paid. 

At the June 14 trustee meeting, trustees were asked to approve close to $300,000 in extra costs billed by HP Inspections of San Jose, hired to provided federally mandated inspections of steel used in the Vista construction project. The additional cost was equal to the amount of the original contract. 

Peralta General Counsel Thuy Nguyen said at the time that the HP work was in violation of the firm’s contract with Peralta, which required prior approval for extra work. General Services Director Sadiq Ikharo said that the overtime work was necessary because Peralta had requested that the steel be delivered early. 

Ikharo told trustees last June that the early delivery had cut two months off the projected completion date of the Vista project, translating into a savings of between $2 million and $4 million to the district. 

That did not mollify Peralta Trustee Nicky González Yuen, the only trustee to vote against the quarter of a million dollar request last June. “I don’t want to send a message to contractors that they can go out of budget and we’ll cover it,” Yuen said. 

But a little more than a month after that June trustee meeting, Swinerton Management & Consulting, the project managers for the Vista College construction project, recommended to Peralta officials that “it was prudent to discontinue the services of HP Inspections” and appoint another inspection company in their place. 

In an Oct. 14 letter to Ikharo, Swinerton Senior Project Manager K.V.S. Raman wrote, “Swinterton … [is] of the opinion that HP Inspections has not demonstrated due diligence in achieving the anticipated economies in executing the required services to the project. Continued engagement of HP Inspections would have resulted in major cost overruns.” 

In his report to trustees for the Nov. 15 trustee meeting, Ikharo wrote that trustees had approved the contract increase in June “with the understanding that HP Inspections would exercise due diligence in controlling the cost of the inspection work from that point to project completion… This did not occur, and, in fact, HP Inspections submitted invoices in excess of the approved additional services amount.” 

The only part of that account that HP Inspections President David Pinkham agrees with is that HP Inspections was told by Peralta officials not to exceed the agreed upon contract amounts. 

In a telephone interview, Pinkham blamed the problem on confusion within Peralta itself. 

“It’s my understanding that one project manager was let go and another was hired in the middle of the project, and that created the lack of a paperwork trail for some of this work,” Pinkham said. 

He added that the Vista project “was one of the biggest construction projects undertaken by the district in a number of years. It’s something that they were not quite set up to handle when the project started.” 

He said it was HP who “ended our services in July” after his company and the district “couldn’t come to a contractural arrangement.” 

Pinkham said he was in negotiations with Swinerton and Peralta officials over his company’s final, unpaid $130,000 bill. 

At the trustee meeting this month, Ikharo seemed to indicate that the district has no intention of paying HP Inspections for the outstanding bill, saying that he would use the disputed amount to pay the new contractors who have been hired to complete the Vista steel inspection work. 

Trustees approved the $80,000 contract with Consolidated Engineering Laboratories of San Ramon at the Nov. 15 trustee meeting. 


Council Calls Session to Study Homeless Programs By RICHARD BRENNEMAN

Tuesday November 29, 2005

The City Council has called a special work session starting at 5 p.m. Tuesday on the city’s existing homeless and anti-poverty programs. 

Following a presentation by city staff, the council will discuss the programs and give the staff direction in creating a unified set of goals and policies for the programs. 

Housing Director Steve Barton and Fred Medrano, director of the Health and Human Services Department, are among those who will make the presentation. 

The council’s main meeting begins as usual at 7 p.m. Both sessions will be held in the council’s chambers at Old City Hall, 2134 Martin Luther King Jr. Way. 

One item sure to prompt heated discussion is a presentation by Mayor Tom Bates followed by council discussion and directions to staff for changes in the city’s Landmarks Preservation Ordinance. 

Councilmember Kriss Worthington is asking his colleagues to join in a resolution calling on the Planning Commission to plug a gap in the city’s inclusionary housing code. 

While the inclusionary ordinance mandates that developers who build five apartments or live/work units must rent or sell one of them at reduced rates for low and lower-income tenants or provide an equivalent payment to the city’s housing trust fund, as the ordinance now reads, a developer can evade the rule by mixing the units. 

Worthington calls it the “4+4=1” loophole” because a developer could build a project with four live/work and four residential-only units, yet have no obligation to rent or sell any at reduced rates or pay into the city housing fund. 

The issue surfaced at a March 11 Planning Commission meeting where members reluctantly approved a project at 2209-2211 Fifth St. in West Berkeley featuring four apartments and two live/work units without an inclusionary unit or payment. 

The council will also consider adoption of a near-relative (that is, nepotism) policy that would apply to all community agencies that do business with the city. 

The measure would ban agencies from creating relationships where one near-relative holds a supervisory position above another near-relative. 

Included in the category are parents, children, step-children, siblings and step-siblings, in-laws, aunts and uncles and nieces and nephew, and grandparents and grandchildren as well as spouses and domestic partners. 

Any such relationships would have to be reported to the city, and none of the parties could directly supervise another, nor sign time cards for the other or participate in any hiring, promotion, demotion, disciplinary or salary decisions. 

Councilmembers will also consider: 

• A resolution opposing the execution of Stan “Tookie” Williams, the former Los Angeles gang leader who is scheduled to die in San Quentin’s death chamber on Dec. 13. 

• A call by Councilmember Linda Maio to direct City Manager Phil Kamlarz to work with the Clif Bar company to find a way to keep the growing firm in the city. 

• A final vote on the Ellis Act relocation fees approved on first reading on Nov. 15. 

• Adoption of inclusionary housing administrative fees and the establishment on a new fund for the Inclusion Housing Program. 

• Conflicting resolutions concerning the planned demolition of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Bevatron and Building 51 at the lab. 

• A request by four councilmembers for a vote directing the city manager to ask the staff to explore the possibility of creating a city-wide wireless Internet system and report back to the council by March. 

• Amending the city budget ordinance to re-authorize funds previously committed in fiscal year 2005.  

 

Planning Commission 

Planning commissioners will face a very light agenda when they meet at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the North Berkeley Senior Center, 1901 Hearst Ave. 

The single action item on the agenda is a hearing on zoning ordinance amendments that address permits, paving, landscaping and screening requirement for residential parking in required yards mandated by city ordinances. 

Parking became an issue recently in the case of the so-called “Flying Cottage” at 3045 Shattuck Ave. and at the proposed three-story condo project planned for 2901 Otis Street. 

Also scheduled for discussion are zoning amendments that would allow the elimination of so-called accessory dwelling units—typically converted garages—by the same process that allowed their creation and a discussion of proposed increases in fees charged for appealing land use decisions to the city council. 

 

Housing Advisory Commission 

The Housing Advisory Commission meets Thursday at 7:30 p.m. in the South Berkeley Community Center, 2939 Ellis St. 

The biggest item on their agenda is the possible approval of a $4 loan application to the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development to help fund the planned David Brower Center and Oxford Plaza affordable housing units. 

The panel will also conduct a hearing on the city’s housing needs assessment for the coming year and another on the county-wide Homeless and Special Needs Housing Plan and hear reports on the city’s Joint Density Bonus Subcommittee and on amendments to the city’s condominium conversion ordinance.?


Peralta District Trustee Hodge Escalates Attacks Against Office of International Affairs By J. DOUGLAS ALLEN-TAYLOR

Tuesday November 29, 2005

Embattled Peralta College District Trustee Marcie Hodge has escalated her attacks against the district’s Office of International Affairs, with her sister hiring San Francisco Freedom of Information Act attorney Karl Olson to renew a request for an investigative report on the department. 

Hodge was censured by her fellow trustee board members earlier this year after a contentious Sept. 13 board meeting in which Hodge called for the abolition of the International Affairs Department. 

In a letter sent late last week to Peralta General Counsel Thuy Nguyen on behalf of his client, Nicole Hodge, First Amendment and Freedom of Information Act attorney Karl Olson said that Nguyen refused to release to Nicole Hodge a report on the International Affairs Department authored by investigator Jim Drinkhall. Olson said that the Drinkhall report was denied to Nicole Hodge “on the grounds of attorney-client privilege and attorney work product. ... Mr. Drinkhall is not an attorney and therefore neither privilege applies.” 

Olson gave the district 10 days to comply with his request and hinted at legal action if he did not receive the report. 

In a follow-up telephone interview, Olson called the district’s reasons for denying Nicole Hodge’s request “bogus.” Asked if he would take the district to court if the report was not produced, Olson said “that’s certainly an option. Hopefully they’ll provide the report.” 

Olson most recently represented the Contra Costa Times in a successful lawsuit forcing the City of Oakland to release salary information. 

Nguyen could not be reached for comment in connection with this article. 

According to Peralta Public Information Officer Jeff Heyman, Drinkhall was hired by the district in the summer of 2004 after charges surfaced that Jacob Ng, the International Affairs Office director, was doing outside work with a Hong Kong college while on the Peralta payroll. This was during a period before Hodge was elected to the Peralta Board of Trustees. 

“Chancellor Elihu Harris thought the charges were important enough to investigate, and he hired Mr. Drinkhall on my recommendation,” Heyman said. Heyman, who was previously a private investigator himself, said that he had a former acquaintance with Drinkhall. 

Heyman said that a report was issued by Drinkhall “last June or July.” While he declined to characterize the details of the report, saying that could only be released by General Counsel Nguyen, Heyman said that “the Chancellor felt that we had looked into the matter and we didn’t need to further act.” 

Heyman said that “the closest thing you had to a smoking gun” in Drinkhall’s report was that a member of Ng’s staff had appeared in a promotional video for a Hong Kong college while being retained on the Peralta payroll. Heyman said that “disciplinary action was taken” shortly after the district received that information in the summer of 2004, but citing “personnel privacy concerns” declined to say what action was taken or who that action was taken against. 

In a separate interview, Peralta Trustee Linda Handy confirmed that an employee was dismissed as a result of the promotional video incident. While Handy declined to name the dismissed employee, the confirmation would indicate that the employee in question in the promotional video was not Ng, since Ng continues to work for the district. 

Handy said that trustees were “fully briefed” on the Drinkhall report by district staff in the summer of 2004. “We found that there was nothing there, so there was nothing more to be done.” She said that trustee concerns about the International Affairs Department “predated Marcie’s coming on the board last November. We want to make sure that the district is maximizing its revenue from international students.” But Handy said that many of the concerns raised by Hodge about the International Affairs Office dated back to an earlier period “when [Ron] Temple was Chancellor and before Elihu [Harris] was hired.” Handy said that after she was elected to the board and Temple was fired “we suspended international travel for trustees”—one of the major issues raised in connection with the office—“and we cleared up most of the problems that had previously been reported. What Marcie is talking about is old news.”


Planning for Downtown Berkeley’s Future By ROB WRENN Special to the Planet

Tuesday November 29, 2005

The city has begun the process of creating a new plan for Berkeley’s downtown. The current Berkeley Downtown Plan was adopted by the City Council in 1990. The work of putting that plan together began in 1984. 

Proponents of doing a new plan for downtown have argued that a new plan is needed because the current plan is out-of-date. That raises an important question: 

What has changed in the 20 years since the last Downtown Plan committee held its first community forum to get input for the current downtown plan? What new challenges do we face as a city? 

Downtown has improved in a number of ways since the mid-1980s. An arts district has been developed successfully. Vacancy rates in downtown Berkeley are lower today; the retail sector is healthier. On the whole the downtown economy is in better shape. 

Historic preservation was a key goal of the current downtown plan. Since the current plan was adopted, a number of historic buildings on Shattuck Avenue have been fixed up, which has certainly improved the visual quality of downtown. Historic preservation is, by definition, an ongoing process. The city will need to continue to preserve the historic structures that contribute to downtown’s character. 

 

Housing 

The Downtown Plan encouraged housing development and a substantial amount of housing has been built downtown in the last seven years. The city’s general plan encourages “transit-oriented” development and the new housing downtown within walking distance of BART and bus stops fits the bill. 

But while new housing has been built, a relatively small percentage of it is affordable. One of the major changes that has taken place in Berkeley in the last 20 years is that rents and home prices have soared. Even when you adjust for inflation and rising incomes, the median and average market rent is much higher than it was in the mid-1980s. Rents for two-bedroom apartments are around $2,000 a month. Using federal affordability guidelines, it requires a household income of $80,000 to afford such an apartment. 

People who grow up in Berkeley are finding it increasingly difficult to live in Berkeley when they move from their parents’ homes. People who work in Berkeley at jobs that pay less than $18 an hour or so will find it hard to find any housing at all that they can afford. The lower the income, the bigger the problem. As downtown is one of the best places to build new housing, the new downtown plan will need to put some emphasis, as the General Plan does, on providing affordable workforce housing for families and single workers, along with housing for seniors, the disabled and those who are currently homeless. 

As more housing is built, it creates a need for services for new downtown residents. In planning for the future of retail downtown, the new downtown plan should consider how grocery stores and similar businesses that serve downtown residents and residents of nearby neighborhoods can be encouraged to locate downtown. Right now, the new Longs Drugs is the closest thing to a supermarket downtown. A number of food markets have closed since the current Downtown Plan was implemented and the remaining small markets on University and Shattuck avenues need to be supplemented to meet the needs of downtown residents. 

In addition to housing, there is bound to be some commercial development as well. We should be concerned about the quality of new jobs that are created. Downtown employers should be encouraged to provide health benefits and pay decent wages to all employees including those in lower-level jobs. Hiring Berkeley residents, especially those who have been unemployed, should be encouraged. When the city supports a new development such as a new downtown hotel, it should ask the employer not to interfere with union efforts to organize their employees. 

 

Transportation 

Two transportation objectives of the current downtown plan are: 1) to “encourage the use of transit as the primary mode of travel,” and 2) to “decrease single-occupant vehicle trips to and from the downtown to create a viable and livable environment.” These goals are more important than ever because another big change in Berkeley during the last 20 years has been the increase in traffic. 

The environmental impact report for Berkeley’s General Plan projects that growth will result in even more traffic and more congestion at various intersections, an impact that is “significant” and “unmitigatable.”  

While city resources went into creating an arts district and reviving retail, relatively little has been done to implement the Downtown Plan’s transportation policies. Some good things have happened, including creation of a bike station at downtown BART and addition of new bus shelters.  

But AC Transit service has recently been cut. The Berkeley TriP store closed and many good downtown pro-transit policies have never been implemented. The downtown plan called for discounted transit passes for downtown employees. The city has implemented an Eco Pass that allows city employees to ride AC Transit buses for free along with a $20 Commuter Check subsidy for BART riders. These measures have been successful in increasing transit ridership and reducing drive-alone commute trips. But no similar measures have been implemented for other downtown area employees.  

Santa Barbara and Ann Arbor, Michigan both have implemented successful programs that provide free bus passes to downtown workers. 

Spreading Eco Pass or other forms of transit incentives could reduce both traffic, pollution and the demand for parking. Another vital step will be to work with AC Transit to implement Bus Rapid Transit, which promises to encourage greater use of transit with more frequent service and by reallocating traffic lanes currently used by cars to create dedicated lanes for buses so that they can stay on schedule and be more competitive with cars with respect to travel time.  

The needs of pedestrians have not gotten much attention since the current plan was adopted. Accident statistics show that there are some intersections in and near downtown that need to be improved to enhance safety.  

 

Pedestrian plaza 

The current downtown plan calls for providing outdoor space for pedestrians. This continues to be an unmet need. The Hotel Task Force called for closing Center Street to motor vehicles (except for deliveries) to create a pedestrian plaza on a street that 10,000 pedestrians pass through each day.  

The new downtown plan should embrace creation of a pedestrian plaza. Pedestrianized streets and even larger pedestrian zones have been very successful in many European cities and have helped attract people to downtown areas that might otherwise have declined as a result of population shifts to the suburbs. These pedestrian areas have been very good for local retail businesses. There are also successful examples in the United States including in Charlottesville, Virginia and Boulder Colorado, both of which host large universities. 

The current downtown plan as calls for uncovering Strawberry Creek. The city should, as part of the new Downtown Plan, commit to following through with an analysis of feasibility, costs, potential funding sources, and design options. It’s possible to create a relatively peaceful oasis with natural features where people could gather away from the intense motor vehicle noise on Shattuck Avenue.  

 

Think globally, act locally 

Awareness of the Global Warming problem and of the negative consequences that can result from climate change has grown since the 1980s. There is also renewed concern about energy consumption and a recognition that sometime in the next 20 years (the useful life of a new downtown plan) we may reach a peak in oil production that could cause severe economic dislocation if steps haven’t been taken to switch to renewable energy.  

Recognizing these problems, Berkeley has joined cities around the world in signing the Urban Environmental Accords, which were presented on United Nations World Environment Day, which took place in San Francisco this past June. The accords include 21 actions. Two of the more important actions are:  

Action 1: Adopt and implement a policy to increase the use of renewable energy to meet ten percent of the city’s peak electric load within seven years. 

Action 15: Implement a policy to reduce the percentage of commute trips by single occupancy vehicle by 10 percent in seven years. 

The new Downtown Plan should contribute to carrying out the actions in the Urban Environmental Accords. The city should continue to oppose proposals that are clearly inconsistent with those accords, such as UC’s proposal to build 2060 new parking spaces, many of them in downtown, which, if implemented, will clearly lead to more trips by automobile, not fewer. Will UC be part of the global warming problem or part of the solution? 

 

Green building 

One way the city can act to reduce energy consumption and to increase use of renewable energy is by encouraging green building. In the 1980s, there was no U.S. Green Building Council and LEED standards for green building had not been developed. Now that some standards exist and others are under development, the city should think about requiring, as part of the new downtown plan, that new buildings achieve some level of green building certification.  

Perhaps incentives can be created for buildings that achieve LEED platinum or LEED gold certification. Some recently constructed buildings have outmoded heating systems that do little to reduce demand for energy. And, it’s not clear that current zoning. We should require and encourage more from developers. 

There are many good things in the current Downtown Plan, some of which simply need to be implemented after all these years. The current base height limits make sense, except perhaps for a downtown hotel. Additional height or reduced parking requirements can be considered as incentives for development that addresses real needs, such as providing affordable housing or meeting the highest green building standards.  

 

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the first in a series of articles which will appear at irregular intervals documenting the progress of the Berkeley Downtown Area Plan task force. Task force participants are invited to submit similar pieces presenting their vision for the downtown area in this space, and everyone is invited to offer their evaluation of the group’s performance on the Daily Planet’s opinion pages.


Fire Department Log By RICHARD BRENNEMAN

Tuesday November 29, 2005

Telegraph fire 

Firefighters were called to Ann’s Kitchen at 2498 Telegraph Ave. Wednesday afternoon, an hour after restaurant staff had doused a stove fire with a dry chemical, said Deputy Fire Chief David P. Orth. 

The firefighters refused a request to repair the stove and raised objections that meals were still being served following the incident. 

After the staff ignored several warnings to stop serving, firefighters called police and the city health department, which ordered a shutdown. 

Pacific Gas & Electric also refused a restaurant request to repair the stove, Orth said. 

 

Playing with fire 

An 8-year-old boy and his 7-year-old sister, paying a visit to their grandmother’s house at 1713 Dwight Way, managed to lay hold of a cigarette lighter. 

Taking it into a bathroom, the young pair managed to set fire to a towel, which ignited the shower curtain, which started a bigger blaze. Officers had controlled it within 12 minutes of their arrival at 3:16 p.m. 

Orth said the blaze caused about $20,000 in structural damage but only $500 in damage to contents. 

The two youngsters were referred for mental health counseling and to his department’s own Juvenile Fire Center Program, which is designed to head off future problems. 

 

Stove + candle = fire 

Firefighters rushed to 1223 Kains Ave. at 2:20 p.m. Saturday, only to find the fire already out. 

A resident had unwisely placed a wax candle atop a glowing wood stove, leading to the inevitable. Fortunately, the blaze ended when the last of the wax had been consumed and before it could spread, said Orth.


Police Blotter By RICHARD BRENNEMAN

Tuesday November 29, 2005

Sex crimes 

Police arrested a 25-year-old man on suspicion of rape on Nov. 22, minutes after a 21-year-old woman called to report that she had been sexually assaulted in the 1600 block of Russell Street, said Berkeley Police spokesperson Officer Joe Okies. 

BART Police notified Berkeley officers of another sex crime that occurred about 7 p.m. in the 2700 block of Mabel Street. 

The victim, an 18-year-old woman, told officers she had been kicked and subjected to an assault. She made her way to the Ashby BART station, where she reported the crime. 

 

Armed robber 

A gunman in his late teens robbed a 17-year-old man of his wallet in the 1700 block of Harmon Street shortly after 6 p.m. on the 22nd. 

 

Good Samaritans 

After a 17-year-old strong-arm robber tried to steal a woman’s purse in the 2000 block of Durant Avenue at 7:37 p.m. on the 22nd, bystanders chased him down, holding him until police arrived to arrest him. 

 

Backpack heist 

One of two men in their early 20s pulled a pistol on a 22-year-old woman as she walked along the 1400 block of Spruce Street, then robbed her of a backpack. 

The pair, clad in dark garments, was last seen fleeing northbound on Spruce Street in an early 1990s minivan. 

 

Animal cruelty 

A caller summoned police to the 1600 block of Ashby Avenue about 1:45 p.m. Wednesday to investigate a case of animal cruelty. 

Officers arrived to find a canine whose jaws had been taped shut. They took the dog into custody, and Officer Okies said investigators have a suspect in the incident. 

 

Crutch-wielding vandal 

A vandal armed with a brick and crutches took out the windows of three businesses in the 2900 block of Shattuck Avenue about 6:15 p.m. Wednesday. 

One of the victims was Wheelchairs of Berkeley. 

 

Robbery busts 

Police arrested three suspects, including a 23-year-old man, in the armed robbery of a backpack worn by a man as he walked in the 1600 block of Scenic Avenue shortly after 8 p.m. Wednesday. 

Officers made the arrests after they stopped a dark-colored Dodge minivan as it was departing the scene, said Officer Okies. 

 

Andronico’s robbed 

A beefy gunman in his late twenties robbed the Andronico’s Market at 1850 Solano Ave. at 9:50 p.m. Wednesday. 

He ran out of the car carrying cash and was last seen bounding south through the parking lot. The suspect is described as an African American man who stands about 6’ tall and weighs about 200 pounds. He was wearing a dark gray beanie-style cap, a dark green knee-length jacket, dark pants and a red backpack. 

Anyone with information is requested to contact Berkeley Police at police@ci.berkeley.ca.us or call the department at 981-5900. 

 

Another gunman 

A bicycling gunman robbed a 17-year-old man of his cell phone and cash in the 3400 block of Adeline Street just after 1 p.m. Friday, then pedaled off toward the Ashby BART parking lot. 

Officers arrived moments later, in time to arrest the 39-year-old suspect with the loot.?


Editorial Cartoon By JUSTIN DEFREITAS

Tuesday November 29, 2005

To view Justin DeFreitas’ latest editorial cartoon, please visit  

www.jfdefreitas.com To search for previous cartoons by date of publication, click on the Daily Planet Archive.

 


Letters to the Editor

Tuesday November 29, 2005

LIQUOR STORES 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

The liquor stores are drawing fire from both the South Berkeley gentrifiers and the West Oakland men in black suits. The stores must be doing something terrible. It is their trash, noise and petty crime say the gentrifiers. It is the alcohol they sell, say the men in black suits. Both complainers purport to want to improve the neighborhood. At least the men in black suits are concerned with the poor people who live there. 

Viewed from afar, it could be said that liquor stores are only the well-lit symbols of poverty. The customers in the South Berkeley and West Oakland liquor stores are those who were left behind in New Orleans, i.e. the poor without cars. The gentrifiers don’t like people walking back and forth from the liquor store past their houses. But walking is what poor people do. Out in Pleasanton or Danville, the people who buy liquor get in their cars and get it at discount at a supermarket. Neither South Berkeley or West Oakland have supermarkets. Bread, milk and other staples are bought at the liquor store. The men in black suits decry the ubiquitousness in the neighborhood of these establishments that push the evil drinks of alcohol. But people who walk need to shop nearby. In their area an abundance of small establishments is essential. Such “mom and pop” places give credit “till the first of the month,” some let customers use the phone, cash checks, or change pesos into dollars. But “mom and pops” without the profit that comes from a liquor license are almost extinct.  

Rather than pick on the liquor stores, there should be a movement to subsidize mom and pop, or, at the least, place a few supermarkets “in the hood.” Demands for a large grocery eventually bore fruit in San Francisco’s Hunter’s Point neighborhood.  

Ted Vincent 

 

• 

BERKELEY BOWL WEST  

Editors, Daily Planet: 

I am writing to let the readers of this paper know that all of the residents of southwest Berkeley do not see eye to eye in regards to the construction of a new Berkeley Bowl.  

In my opinion, a new Berkeley Bowl would be a fabulous addition to this area of the city. This area has been underserved commercially for much too long and it is in dire need of an affordable supermarket.  

Many people seems to think that a change in zoning to allow construction would open the flood gates to more commercial development. Where they see this as a problem, I see an opportunity to bring in much needed tax revenue to the city’s coffers, and to clean up an area of the city that suffers from urban blight. I ask anybody to take a walk in the area of the proposed site and tell me that it is “prospering” like John Curl said in his article. In reality, the area suffers from neglect, and contamination from years of industry and illegal dumping.  

In short, it is time that the people of this city who oppose this project wake up and accept the changing dynamics of this area of the city. Manufacturing is going to continue to leave this area for places with cheaper operating costs which will lead to further blight. Where will southwest Berkeley be then? I think that opponents of this plan have vastly exaggerated the impact this store will have on traffic, artists and small businesses. The reality is that a new Berkeley Bowl would bring more business to this area and allow for artists and small business to make more money.  

Unfortunately, many people in the bay area don’t get to come to this area of Berkeley to appreciate the diversity and unique charm we have to offer. All it is to them now, is a couple of blighted intersection. I believe that a new Berkeley Bowl and some more housing would only have a positive impact on this area.  

Jonathan Stephens 

 

• 

MORE WINSTON, PLEASE 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

First thing I do when I get my Daily Planet is look to see if there is a Winston Burton essay. Would someone please give him a weekly column so I can stop being disappointed when his stories don’t appear? 

David Freedman 

 

• 

FREEBOX, UC, HENRY VIII 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

UC’s Chancellor Robert Birgeneau’s hero must be King Henry VIII, who confiscated the Roman Catholic Church in England, which eliminated the poor boxes (free box) in the middle of the 16th century. Our Henry VIII, Chancellor Birgeneau, took the same measures last week by ordering the removal of the our newly built replacement steel Freebox in People’s Park.  

Last week’s San Francisco Chronicle article revealed UC administrators earn $400,000 and live in 15,000-square-foot homes for free. Then we hear how King Robert (Chancellor Birgeneau) dealt with the poor masses in Toronto, by saying, “There is not a simple solution.” In other words he did nothing and will do nothing, while he is warm and cozy at our expense. What hypocrisy! King Robert the First has no clothes.  

Michael Delacour,  

Corinne Haskins. 

 

• 

MORE ME, PLEASE 

Why don’t you publish more stories about me, or by me? 

I find these stories much more interesting than the other junk you write about. 

Richard List 

 

• 

CARTER’S LEGACY 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

The author of a recent letter to the editor, David Altschul, might want to revise his derogatory statement that President Jimmy Carter was the least effective full-term president of the last 70 years. Without going into his record in detail, I’d like to suggest that Altschul remember that Carter’s carefully negotiated Oslo Accords have resulted in a long-lived peace (and even cooperation) between Israel and Egypt that should be used as an example that peace between Jews and Arabs is possible. Not a minor accomplishment. 

Sally Williams 

 

• 

DERBY STREET 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

There is really no polite way to say this other than that BUSD Boardmember John Selawsky doesn’t know what he is talking about when he states that closed Derby will cost $4.5 million. Oh, sorry that was last month’s number; this month’s number is $6 million. Our group built the field portion of Harrison Park. Five years ago the City of Berkeley paid about $750,000 for two playing fields slightly larger than the Derby site (design, engineering, grading, irrigation, turf, fencing, sidewalks, landscaping, etc). The City of Albany paid $80,000 this year to install a new softball diamond (which due to its size and lack of grass infield is about $40,000 cheaper than a baseball field) at another athletic field, including batting cages, backstop, safety fences, etc. The combo is $830,000. 

The professional cost estimators, hired by BUSD to develop estimates for Derby, came up with $1.3 million for the closed Derby fields and another $1.4 for non-field related costs (a place for the Farmers’ Market, new traffic light, and a storm sewer). As a reality check BUSD had these numbers reviewed by Bill Savidge who oversees building and field development for the West Contra Costa Unified School District. He agreed with the cost estimators. The number developed by the cost estimators seems in keeping with the $830,000 it has actually cost to build similar facilities.  

It is one thing for general members of the community to write letters to the editor with gross factual inaccuracies. But the entire Berkeley community should be outraged when elected public officials make inflammatory and unsubstantiated statements for the sole purpose of creating community unrest about something they personally oppose. As a result of this and a multitude of other similar statements without any basis in fact, I have asked Mayor Tom Bates and Councilmember Max Anderson to hold a community dialogue among the people supporting closed/open Derby, neighbors of Derby, and the Ecology Center/Farmers’; Market. I offered up a date of Thursday, Dec. 8 at 7 p.m. at the Alternative High School. While the dialogue may not result in consensus it certainly is a necessary step to give people the accurate factual information they deserve. 

Doug Fielding 

Chairperson, Association of Sports Field Users 

 

• 

UC STEALS FREEBOX 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

The University of California administration destroyed our free clothing box in People’s Park, sneakily, in the dark. Like criminals, they stole a very important resource for sharing in our community. Ironically, as the UC Regents were voting on milking the students for money to pay their top administrators more, they were stealing from Berkeley’s poor. Why? Irene Hegarty, from UC’s Community Relations Department says, “People have taken the clothes and sold them to buy drugs or alcohol...It just has not been a productive way to get clothes to homeless people.” First off, in fact, the freebox is an active and effective distribution system, getting clothes to many people. It’s open 24 hours a day and it costs nothing. It certainly is a more “productive” way of getting clothes to the homeless than removing the box and throwing away the clothes as UC has been doing. 

Secondly, the complaint about people selling the clothes is absurd. Who cares if someone sells something? It was given to them, it’s legal and there is plenty to go around. It is actually a great skill and service if one can identify clothes that are in fashion enough to be bought. That allows college students better prices at the used clothing stores and helps those local businesses. It reduces societal consumption. And why is it assumed that if a poor person makes money it is for “drugs or alcohol”?  

The freebox is not necessary for us to exercise our right to share clothes. As has been happening since the box was vandalized, and since the park began, people still bring clothes to the park. And the clothes are still distributed and appreciated. But instead of the dignity of a box, they lie in bags, boxes or piles on the ground. The box keeps the clothes neater and protected from the rain. 

The freebox is community helping itself. We are not asking for funding, for donations, not even for materials to build the box. It is a collective effort of people seeing a need and wanting to help others. It is hard to imagine what cruel streak in the non-democratic UC administration hierarchy chooses to destroy it. Please try to find them and call them. And keep bringing your extra clothes to People’s Park. They are needed and appreciated and it is our right to share with others. 

Terri Compost 


Column: Thanksgiving at Our House By SUSAN PARKER

Tuesday November 29, 2005

On Wednesday morning I go to the store and buy onions, Brussels sprouts, butter, cranberries, and $195 worth of other edibles and non-edibles. I start cooking. 

At noon Willie returns from the church where he’d gone to pick up his pre-ordered turkey. He is turkey-less. “Riots,” is all he says, and we leave it at that. I tell him I have bought two turkeys. We don’t need a third. 

At 5 p.m. I pick up Bryce at school, then swing by Mrs. Ewing’s to get Clyiesha. I bring the kids home, and continue cooking. The kids disappear upstairs on a mission to destroy the attic.  

I finish roasting one turkey at 9 p.m., de-stuff it, and get the other turkey prepped for tomorrow. At 10 p.m. we have a pre-Thanksgiving snack of cornbread and mashed potatoes. Then I go to bed. I need my rest. 

Up early on Thursday morning, I roast the second turkey. Now it’s time to clean and set the table. The kids wake up and I serve them Frosted Flakes and send them out into the garden to look for worms. Cooking, cleaning, cleaning, cooking—it goes on for hours. Andrea prepares an enormous pot of collard greens and starts in on the gravy. She must time everything just right because she has to help Ralph out of bed at 4 p.m., and fix her hair. 

At 3 p.m. I am done, but our guests won’t arrive until 5. I return to the store for beverages. Although I was planning on having an alcohol-free Thanksgiving, I have changed my mind. I need a drink. Maybe two. 

I pick up Mrs. Ewing and granddaughter Poo, return home and make everyone a Shirley Temple. It’s almost time for our other guests to arrive. 

At the appointed hour, Annie comes to the front door with Julian, Deja, Shauna, and little Juan. We put out hors d’oeuvres and mix up a pitcher of Shirley Temples. The kids run wild in the backyard looking for more worms. 

Kameka, Terrance, and Tiashanae sprint in to pick up the sweet potato pie Mrs. Ewing has baked for them, (one of 15 she has made for relatives and friends). They stay long enough for a picture to be knocked off the wall, two fights to erupt over worm ownership, one child to be bitten (superficially) by Whiskers. 

Dion shows up in front of the house and we tell him to go away. 

Six p.m. and my brother, sister-in-law, niece and their friend James have still not arrived. We decide to eat without them. 

Six-o-five they finally show. We can all eat together, which we do. 

At 7 p.m. Martin carries in three gargantuan trays of a Pakistani version of Thanksgiving, leftovers from a homeless feed. Industrial-size serving dishes of rice, curried vegetables, and turkey meatballs cover the kitchen counters. We are too full to eat anything more so we package it up and save it for tomorrow. 

Hans arrives empty-handed and hungry. There are plenty of leftovers for him on the dining room table. 

Big Bobby picks up Hertha and Poo. He is wearing his bedroom slippers and says he can’t stay. 

Annie and company leave just as Teddy and granddaughter Kiley arrive. They are looking for respite from all the activity at their house. I tell them they are welcome but that we are short on respite. 

Willie comes in the backdoor as Andrea leaves through the front door. She hands over the responsibility of assisting Ralph into bed to Hans, and the dishes to me. Kanna Jo, John, Yuka, James, and Martin depart. Teddy and Kiley take off. Ralph and Willie go to bed; Clyiesha, Bryce and Hans remain. 

I finish the dishes. At 2 a.m. Bryce wakes up with night terrors. At 4:10 Andrea drags herself home. At 5:36 a.m. Hans leaves for an N.A. meeting. 

At 7:57 a.m. we start in on the leftovers. 

 

 

 

?


Commentary: Transparency Needed in Berkeley Lab Nanotechnology By Michael W. Toffel

Tuesday November 29, 2005

On Dec. 6, the Berkeley City Council will consider asking the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBL) to be significantly more transparent about the health and environmental issues associated with its new nanotechnology facility. 

LBL will open its new Molecular Foundry “Nanostructures User Laboratory” in early 2006. This facility is being built to promote basic research into the “design, synthesis and characterization of nanoscale materials.” While nanotechnologies offer new promising opportunities for a host of applications from solar energy to more sophisticated cancer biopsies, there are as yet no standards or regulations—at the local, state, federal or international levels—that govern the safe handling of nanoparticles. Given the protests of some Berkeley citizens concerned about the potential environmental and health impacts of this new technology, and the utter lack of regulatory or industry standards, one might assume that the Lab would be particularly forthcoming about how they plan to stay in front of this issue. But sadly, you would be wrong. 

Over a year ago, I asked some basic questions of the lab’s community relations officer and director of environment, health and safety. Essentially, I asked if they could publicly articulate the potential impacts their new nanoscale operations might impose on Berkeley’s community health and environment, the steps they would be taking to mitigate these impacts, and how the lab planned to keep abreast of the health and environmental issues associated with this emerging science. My primary motivation was to encourage the Lab to be more transparent with the community about these issues. For whatever reasons, the lab decided not to reply to my request. After receiving no reply, I asked the City of Berkeley’s Community Environmental Advisory Commission (CEAC), of which I am a member, to consider a draft motion calling for the City Council to ask a similar set of questions. This motion simply asks LBL to: 

1. Publicly disclose how they are identifying the risks to community health and the environment associated with their new nanotechnology activities. 

2. How they are using external experts (of their own choosing) to validate this process. 

3. What measures they are taking to ensure these risks are being managed properly. 

4. How they will keep updated on this evolving science. 

5. How they will inform the public about all this. 

CEAC passed the motion handily: the one commissioner who opposed the motion subsequently offered alternative questions that also ask the lab to be more transparent about how they plan to protect the community’s health and the environment. I view these questions as fundamental, basic, and fair. Apparently, the city manager’s office agrees, as it also supports this proposal. The Berkeley City Council will consider this motion on Dec. 6. 

I would have hoped that the lab would have publicly disclosed this information on its own—without the need for prompting from me, CEAC, or the council. Why not? The lab’s apparent reluctance to deal forthrightly with this issue could be justified by two positions, and neither is a particularly comforting scenario. First, perhaps the lab is still figuring out what policies and procedures it will implement to safeguard community health and the environment. This is plausible given so little is actually known about these concerns and the utter lack of regulations and industry standards. But shouldn’t the Lab be forthright about this? The Lab could publicly acknowledge what it does and does not know, and only permit research to be conducted where they are quite sure about the potential impacts and the appropriate protective measures to take. If they are unsure about the risks, don’t the members of their surrounding community deserve the right to know this? After all, the Department of Energy’s national labs across the nation have a poor record of taking the necessary precautions to protect their surroundings. Thus, current public distrust of a national lab’s deployment of new technologies is understandable. What is less understandable is LBL’s current implied stance “Trust Me.” One would have hoped that lab managers would have learned that a lack of transparency about the measures employed to protect their surrounding environment only feeds distrust. 

A second potential scenario that might explain the lab’s reluctant to be more transparent is disturbing for other reasons. Perhaps lab managers know all about the risks of their new nanoscale activities and have developed world-class measures to mitigate these risks, but are simply unwilling to publicly disclose them. One might expect a lack of transparency from private firms, but I think we deserve better from the government agencies we all pay for, whether it be national labs, state universities, or city agencies. I should add that it seems unlikely that the lab has all the answers about how to identify and mitigate the health and environmental aspects associated with nanotechnologies, given the fundamental questions US EPA is currently asking. LBL’s community relations and government affairs representatives have, to their credit, attended CEAC meetings. However, they have expressed a wide array of perspectives that ranged from (and I’m paraphrasing here): “The questions you’re asking cannot possibly be answered by anyone because the knowledge is not there yet on this cutting edge issue,” to “We have already answered these questions,” to “It is unreasonable to expect us to answer these questions.” As a former industrial manager of environment, health and safety, and an academic researcher studying corporate environmental management, I can say with some confidence that the questions that CEAC has proposed are not particularly unusual. Any industrial organization should be quite aware of their potential impacts on community health and the environment, and should be able to articulate the measures they are taking to mitigate those risks. Responsible companies should ask and answer these questions —without prompting from city commissions or city councils, before their activities commence. 

I am not one who thinks LBL is at the center of any conspiracies. Nonetheless, I find their failure to respond to these basic questions about this emerging science—and their representatives’ referring to these questions as unanswerable and unreasonable—to be quite troubling. Berkeley deserves better. We’ll see if Berkeley City Council agrees when they consider the motion on Dec. 6. 

 

Michael W. Toffel is chairman of the City of Berkeley’s Community Environmental Advisory Commission, and a post-doctoral researcher at the UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business. This commentary reflects his personal opinions and not necessarily those of either organization.Ã


Arts: Oakland Opera Opens ‘Peace Through Song’ By KEN BULLOCK Special to the Planet

Tuesday November 29, 2005

Oakland Opera Theatre will present “Peace Through Song” this weekend. 

The performance features two satirical anti-World War I operas, a staging of Kurt Weill and Paul Green’s Johnny Johnson (1936), excerpts from Robert Kurka and Lewis Allen’s Good Soldier Schweik (1958), and an “antiwar cabaret” of songs by local jazz pianist and composer Mary Watkins. The show is Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 1:30 p.m. at Oakland Metro, 201 Broadway. 

“Peace Through Song” will be conducted by Oakland Opera Theatre Musical Director Deirdre McClure, who has worked with the company since 2001. 

The cast for the opera and cabaret singers include Will Meyer (tenor in the lead role of Johnny Johnson), Lara Bruckman, Martin Bell, Eliza O’Malley, Axel Van Chee, Jennifer Lien, Ayelet Cohen, Matt Lecar, Raeeka Shebai-Yaghmai and Vincent Fogle. The musicians are Shane Carrasco (cello, banjo and guitar), Chris Grady (trumpet), Skye Atman (keyboards and accordion) and John Hanes (percussion). 

Johnny Johnson (the title character has the most common name among WW I American combatants) was premiered in New York by the Group Theater in 1936, and played in Boston and Los Angeles the following year in a Federal Workshop production. 

Telling the story of a pacifist who nonetheless joins up for “the war to end all wars,” turns to antiwar activity after witnessing trench warfare, and is then confined to an insane asylum, Johnny Johnson is “a series of 15 scenes which vary in style and character from Gilbert and Sullivan to vaudeville, slapstick to rural sketch, abstract stylization to straight realism.” 

Composer Kurt Weill is best known for his collaborations with Bertolt Brecht, such as in Threepenny Opera, Mahagonny and Happy End. Librettist Paul Green, 1927 Pulitzer Prizewinner for drama, is credited with developing the form of “Symphonic Drama,” a new kind of history play, usually site-specific, combining music, dance, pantomime and poetic dialogue, and, in the case of Green’s own pieces, socially committed theme and content. 

“Johnny Johnson is popular music, full of popular images, by a classically trained composer who was a popular songwriter,” said McClure. “It’s rarely done; very tight, musically, and all over the map dramatically. After the songs of the Antiwar Cabaret, which are thematically more antiwar than peace, Johnny Johnson might seem to be a real departure in tone. It has the arc of a story, but doesn’t seem to have a compass in another sense, but maybe it reflects a time without a compass. Johnny’s girlfriend tells him she’ll leave him if he doesn’t go. There’s a soliloquy to the Statue of Liberty as he ships out and the statue’s song of regret at becoming a symbol of war. And what struck me while I was working with the score was how quickly Kurt Weill assimilated the English language. He had to flee Germany quickly, and with much regret.” 

The Good Soldier Schweik, taken from a Czech novel about the wily, uncooperative title soldier, was a story also well known to Brecht and Weill. Lewis Allen, the librettist, wrote the lyrics to the music of Billie Holiday’s signature song, “Strange Fruit,” about a racial lynching.  

Mary Watkins, whose number “Andersonville” in the Antiwar Cabaret is from her opera Queen Clara, about the Civil War as seen through the eyes of the pioneering nurse, Clara Barton, performs around the Bay Area as a jazz pianist. 

Oakland Opera Theatre, which began producing one production every two years as Underworld Opera Company, now produces three shows a year, including such pieces as Philip Glass’ Akhaten and Virgil Thomson and Gertrude Stein’s Four Saints in Three Acts. 

For more information on “Peace Through Song,” see www.oaklandopera.org or call (415) 465-8480.


Arts Calendar

Tuesday November 29, 2005

TUESDAY, NOV. 29 

CHILDREN 

First Stage Children’s Theater “The Great Book Conspiracy” at 7:30 p.m. at Julia Morgan Center for the Arts, 2640 College Ave. Tickets are $5 at the door. 

FILM 

Alternative Visions: Re(collections): Three Short Films at 7:30 p.m. at the Pacific Film Archive. Cost is $4-$8. 642-0808. www.bampfa.berkeley.edu 

MUSIC AND DANCE 

Swamp Coolers at 8:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Dance lesson at 8 p.m. Cost is $10. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

Ellen Hoffmaan with Singers’ Open Mic at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. 841-JAZZ. www.AnnasJazzIsland.com 

Drew Emmitt Band at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $17.50-$18.50. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 

Jazzschool Tuesdays at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 848-8277. www.jazzschool.com 

Larry Vuckovich, solo jazz piano, at 8 p.m. at Downtown. 649-3810. 

WEDNESDAY, NOV. 30 

EXHIBITIONS 

“Justice Matters: Artists Consider Palestine” An evening with Mona & David Halaby at 7 p.m. at Berkeley Art Center, 1275 Walnut St. in Live Oak Park. 644-6893.  

THEATER 

Unconditional Theatre “Voices of Activism: Crawford” Members of Unconditional Theatre traveled to Crawford, Texas, to interview people on both sides of the Camp Casey anti-war protest. At 7:30 p.m. at Julia Morgan Center for the Arts, 2640 College Ave. Suggested donation $2-$20. www.juliamorgan.org 

FILM 

Busy Signals: Telephonic Art in Motion “Touchtone” at 7:30 p.m. at the Pacific Film Archive. Cost is $4-$8. 642-0808. www.bampfa.berkeley.edu  

READINGS AND LECTURES 

Dave Lippman “Star of Goliath” Slides, song and sound from a visit to Palestine and Israel at 8 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $7-$10. 849-2568. www.lapena.org  

Hella Winston describes “Unchosen: The Hidden Lives of Hasidic Rebels” at 7:30 p.m. at Cody’s Books. 845-7852.  

Peter Goin and Paul F. Starrs in conversation about their new book “Black Rock” at 5:30 p.m. at University Press Books, 2430 Bancroft Way. 548-0585. 

MUSIC AND DANCE 

Music for the Spirit with Lilly Gordis, young harpsichord student, at noon at First Presbyterian Church of Oakland, 2619 Broadway. 444-3555. www.firstchurchoakland.org 

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

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

Dub Station, with Shaka Black and Tom O’Brien, reggae, at 9 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $10-$12. 525-5054.  

Orquestra Bakan, salsa, at 9:30 p.m. at Shattuck Down Low.Cost is $5-$10. 548-1159.  

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

THURSDAY, DEC. 1 

EXHIBITIONS 

“Art from the Heart” featuring works by artists from the National Institute of Art and Disabilities opens at 551 23rd St., Richmond. 620-0290. www.niadart.org  

“Jim Bauer: Whimsical Illuminated Sculpture” Creations of dogs, cats and other fanciful figures made from recycled kitchenware, opens at The Ames Gallery, 2661 Cedar St. 845-4949. www.amesgallery.com 

“Natural History of César Chávez Park, Berkeley Marina” with works by various artists opens at The Bonnafont Gallery, 946a Greenwich St., SF. 415-441-4182. 

FILM 

Luna Fest Films by, for and about women, at 6:30 p.m. at 145 Dwinelle, UC Campus. Tickets are $5-$7. crystal435@yahoo.com 

“The Greater Circulation” by Antero Alli at 8 p.m. at the Berkeley Art Center, 1275 Walnut St. Tickets are $7. 644-6893. 

Selling Democracy: Films of the Marshall Plan 1948-53 at 7:30 p.m. at the Pacific Film Archive. Free first Thursdays. 642-0808. www.bampfa.berkeley.edu  

READINGS AND LECTURES 

“Thinking Outside the Boxes: Nesting Reliquary Caskets from a 9th Century Chinese Monastic Crypt” at 5 p.m. in the IEAS Conference Room, 2223 Fulton St., 6th Flr. 643-6492. 

Nomad Spoken Word Night at 7 p.m. at Nomad Cafe, 6500 Shattuck Ave. 595-5344.  

Word Beat Reading Series with Don Brennan and Ed Mycue at 7 p.m. at Mediterraneum Caffe, 2475 Telegraph Ave. 526-5985. 

Dave Wright, poet at 7 p.m. at the Albany Library, 1247 MArin Ave. 526-3720.  

MUSIC AND DANCE 

Wawa Sylvestre & The Oneness Kingdom, Kalbass at 9 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $9. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

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

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

Fishtank, The Toids at 9:30 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $5. 841-2082.  

Eric Swinderman, solo jazz guitar, at 8 p.m. at Downtown. 649-3810.  

Taj Mahal at 8 and 10 p.m. through Sun. at Yoshi’s at Jack London Square. Cost is $16-$26. 238-9200. www.yoshis.com 

FRIDAY, DEC. 2 

THEATER 

Aurora Theatre “Marius” Wed.-Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 2 and 7 p.m. at 2081 Addison St., through Dec. 18. Tickets are $28-$45. 843-4822. www.auroratheatre.org 

Berkeley Rep “Brundibár” A musical fable staged by Tony Kushner and Maurice Sendak at the Roda Theater through Dec. 28. Ticekts are $15-$64. 647-2949. www.berkeleyrep.org 

Black Repertory Group “Dance with my Father Again” a musical biography of Luther Vandross. Fr. and Sat. at 8 p.m. through Dec. 4. Tickets are $7-$15. 652-2120. 

Contra Costa Civic Theater “Noises Off” Fri. and Sat. at 8 p.m. at 951 Pomona Ave., El Cerrito, through Dec. 10. 524-9132. www.ccct.org 

Impact Theatre “Crumble (Lay Me Down, Justin Timberlake)” Thurs. through Sun. at 8 p.m. at La Val’s Subterranean Theater, 1834 Euclid Ave., through Dec. 10. Tickets are $10-$15. 464-4468.  

Masquers Playhouse “Dear World” Jerry Herman’s musical, Fri. and Sat. at 8 p.m. through Dec. 17 at 105 Park Place, Point Richmond. Tickets are $15. 232-4031. www.masquers.org 

Shaija Patel and Rodney Mason “Power Launch” spoken word theater at 8 p.m. at La Peña. Tickets are $10-$15. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

Shotgun Players “Cabaret” Thurs. - Sun. at 8 p.m. at the Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby Ave. 841-6500. www.shotgunplayers.org 

EXHIBITIONS 

Michael Horse: Ledger Paintings & Jewelry Artist reception at 6:30 p.m. at Gathering Tribes Gallery, 1573 Solano Ave. 528-9038. www.gatheringtribes.com 

“Hanging New Paintings” with Eileen Van Soelen at 7 p.m. at Cafe Roma, 2960 College Ave. 

FILM 

The Battles of Sam Peckinpah “Junior Bonner” at 7 p.m. and “Straw Dogs” at 9:05 p.m. at Pacific Film Archive. Cost is $4-$8. 642-0808. www.bampfa.berkeley.edu 

READINGS AND LECTURES 

Ward Churchill on “Since Predator Came: Notes From the Struggle for American Indian Liberation” at 8 p.m. at Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists, 1924 Cedar St. Cost is $5-$10 at the door. 208-1700. www.akpress.org 

Delphine Hirasuna shows slides from “The Art of Gaman: Arts and Crafts from the Japanese American Internment Camps 1942-1946” at 7:30 p.m. at Cody’s Books. 845-7852. www.codysbooks.com  

MUSIC AND DANCE 

Berkeley High School Jazz Ensemble Benefit Concert for Hurricane Katrina victims at 7:30 p.m. at the Florence Schwimley Little Theater, 1929 Allston Way, on the Berkeley High School campus. Tickets are $10 at the door, free for BHS students, faculty and staff.  

Berkeley Symphony “Bitter Harvest” at 8 p.m. at Zellerbach Hall, UC Campus. Tickets are $10-$54. 841-2800. www.berkeleysymphony.org 

Califonia Bach Society “A Ceremony of Carols” by Britten at 8 p.m. at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, 2300 Bancroft Way. Pre-concert talk at 7:15 p.m. Tickets are $10-$25. 415-262-0272. www.calbach.org 

University Symphony Orchestra at 8 p.m. at Hertz Hall, UC Campus. Tickets are $3-$10. 642-4864.  

Marcelle Dronkers, soprano, at 8 p.m. at Giorgi Gallery, 2911 Claremont Ave. Cost is $12. 848-1228. www.giorgigallery.com 

Electric Vardo and Sila & The Afrofunk Experience “Kashmir” A benefit for earthquake victims at 9:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $13. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

E.W. Wainwright’s African Roots of Jazz at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $7. 841-JAZZ. www.AnnasJazzIsland.com 

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

Kasey Knudsen & Eric Volger, contemporary jazz, at 8 p.m. at Ristorante Raphael, 2132 Center St. 644-9500. 

Ron Thompson, blues guitarist, at 8 p.m. at Caffe Trieste, 2500 San Pablo Ave. 548-5198. 

Stonecutter, Mojo Apostles, Everest at 9:30 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $6. 841-2082.  

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

Ira Marlowe and Abel Mouton at 7:30 p.m. at Nomad Cafe. 595-5344.  

Slammin’ body music and beat boxing at 8 p.m. at the Jazz- 

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

Vinyl, The Get Down at 9:30 p.m. at Shattuck Down Low. Cost is $5-$8. 548-1159.  

Love Songs, The North Lincoln at 8 p.m. at 924 Gilman St. Cost is $6. 525-9926. 

Taj Mahal at 8 and 10 p.m. through Sun. at Yoshi’s at Jack London Square. Cost is $16-$26. 238-9200. www.yoshis.com 

SATURDAY, DEC. 3 

CHILDREN 

Gary Lapow at 10:30 a.m. at La Peña. Cost is $4 for adults, $3 for children. 849-2568.  

Walter the Giant Storyteller tells holiday tales at 11 a.m. at Cody’s Books on Fourth St. 559-9500. 

Splash Circus “The Snow Queen” at 2 p.m., also on Sun. at Julia Morgan Theater, 2640 College Ave. Tickets are $10-$15. 925-798-1300.  

Juan Sánchez at 11 a.m. at Berkeley Public Library, West Branch. Part of the “Fiesta de Diciembre” family program featuring music, a piñata, and refreshments. 981-6224. 

Willy Claflin, storyteller, at 10:30 a.m. in the 3rd flr. Community Room, Berkeley Public Library, 2090 Kittredge St. 981-6224. 

EXHIBITIONS 

“Art from the Heart” opening reception for artists from National Institute of Art and Disabilities from 2 to 5 p.m. at 551 23rd St., Richmond. 620-0290. www.niadart.org  

Albany Community Art Show from noon to 6 p.m. at the Albany Community Center, 1249 Marin Ave.  

“Journeys of the Spirit” Photographs by Betty McAfee from 4 to 7 p.m. at Pacific School of Religion Chapel, 1798 Scenic Ave. Donation $10. For reservations call 704-7729.  

New Work by Angie Brown and Dan Lewis Reception at 7:30 p.m. at Bootling Gallery, 4224 Telegraph Ave. www.4leagueindutries.com 

Luciano Valadez, Huichol Indian artist, at Gathering Tribes Gallery, 1573 Solano Ave. 528-9038.  

THEATER 

Living Arts Playback Theater Improvisational theater at 8 p.m. at Live Oak Theater, 1301 Shattuck Ave. Cost is $12-$18. 595-5500, ext. 25. 

Woman’s Will “Happy End” by Bertolt Brecht, Thurs. and Sat. at 7 p.m., Sun. at 2 p.m. at Luka’s Lounge, 2221 Broadway, Oakland. Tickets are $12-$25. 420-0813.  

Moshe Cohen and Unique Derique “Cirque Do Somethin’” Sat. and Sun. at 1 p.m. at the Marsh, 2120 Allston Way. Tickets are $10-$15. 800-838-3006. www.themarsh.org 

FILM 

“Earth” at 2:30 p.m. and Taisho Chic on Screen “A Page of Madness” at 7 p.m. and “The Downfall of Osen” at 8:35 p.m. at the Pacific Film Archive. Cost is $4-$8. 642-0808.  

READINGS AND LECTURES 

Poetry Reading and Contest, hosted by the Bay Area Poets Coalition from 3 to 5 p.m. at Strawberry Creek Lodge dining hall, 1320 Addison St. Please park on street. 527-9905. 

MUSIC AND DANCE  

Berkeley Community Chorus and Orchestra, “Gloria” by Poulenc at 8 p.m. at St. Joseph the Worker Church, 1640 Addison St. Admission in free, donations welcome. www.bcco.org 

“Harps for the Holidays” with three harp ensembles at 8 p.m. at St. Mary Magdalene Church, 2005 Berryman. Tickets are $10-$15. 548-3326. 

University Symphony Orchestra at 8 p.m. at Hertz Hall, UC Campus. Tickets are $3-$10. 642-4864.  

Rova Saxophone Quartet at 8 p.m. at Trinity Chapel, 2320 Dana St. Tickets are $8-$12. 549-3864. 

Tallis Scholars, “Rennaissance Sacred Music” at 8 p.m. at First Congregational Church, 2345 Channing Way. Pre-performance talk at 7 p.m. Tickets are $46. 642-9988. 

Holy Names University Chorus and Chamber Singers at 4 p.m. at HNU Chapel, 3500 Mountain Blvd. Cost is $5-$15. 436-1330. 

“Spin Cycle” An aerial dance performance at 8 p.m. at Studio 12, 2525 Eighth St. Tickets are $5-$15. 587-0770.  

Lichi Fuentes at 8 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $12-$14. 849-2568.  

Slick Rick, rap, at 9 p.m. at @17, 510 17th St., Oakland. Tickets are $25. www.at17th.com 

Wilson Savoy & The Pine Leaf Boys at 9 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cajun dance lesson at 8 p.m. Cost is $13$15. 525-5054. 

Peron-Spangler Interpaly Quartet at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $7. 841-JAZZ.  

Carlos Oliveira & Mauro Corea, Brazillian guitar, at 8 p.m. at Ristorante Raphael, 2132 Center St. 644-9500. 

Vince Lateano Trio with Dick Whittington on piano and John Wiitala on bass, at 9 p.m. at Downtown. 649-3810. 

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

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

Geoff Muldaur & the Fountin of Youth at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $18.50-$19.50. 548-1761.  

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

The Briefs, Clit 45, Smalltown, The Abuse at 8 p.m. at 924 Gilman St. Cost is $7. 525-9926. 

SUNDAY, DEC. 4 

EXHIBITIONS 

“Land, Light and Color” Paintings by Kyle Kosup, Donna Lerew, Deirdre Shibano and Alex White. Reception at the Albany Community Center, 1249 Marin Ave. 

Works by Photographer Terry Lo Artist reception at 2 p.m. at Nomad Cafe. 595-5344. www.nomadcafe.net 

“Taisho Chic: Japanese Modernity, Nostalgia and Deco” guided tour at 2 p.m. at the Berkeley Art Museum, 2625 Durant Ave. 642-0808. 

FILM 

African/African Diaspora Film Society “Sango Malo” at 2 p.m. at Parkway Theater, 1834 Park Blvd., Oakland. Cost is $5. OurFilms@aol.com  

Taisho Chic on Screen “Japanese Girls at the Harbor” at 2 p.m., “Actress” at 4 p.m. and “Crossroads” at 6:15 p.m. at the Pacific Film Archive. 642-0808.  

READINGS AND LECTURES 

Elizabeth Partridge will talk about her new book “John Lennon: All I Want is the Truth” at 2 p.m. in the Community Meeting Room, Berkeley Public Library, 2090 Kittredge St. 981-6100. 

MUSIC AND DANCE 

Berkeley Community Chorus and Orchestra, “Gloria” by Poulenc at 4:30 p.m. at St. Joseph the Worker Church, 1640 Addison St. Admission in free, donations welcome. www.bcco.org 

Handel’s “Messiah” and Community Sing-along, with the New Millennium Strings at 6 p.m. at Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley, One Lawson Rd., Kensington. Suggested donation $10. 525-0302. 

“Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming” Secular and sacred holiday music by Cantare Chorale at 3 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church, 2619 Broadway, Oakland. Tickets are $10-$30. 925-798-1300. 

“Rising Stars of St. Petersburg’s Mariinsky Academy” at 3 p.m. at Hertz Hall, UC Campus. Pre-concert talk with William Quillen at 2 p.m. Tickets are $42. 642-9988. 

WomenSing 40th Anniversary Holiday Concert “Seven Joys of Christmas” at 4 p.m., First Congregational Church of Berkeley. Tickets are $10-$20. 925-974-9169. www.womensing.org 

Terrain “Winter Dances: Breaking New Ground” at 3 p.m. at Western Sky Studio, 2525 Eighth St. at Dwight. Tickets are $12-$15. 848-4878. 

“Spin Cycle” An aerial dance performance at 1 p.m. at Studio 12, 2525 Eighth St. Tickets are $5-$15. 587-0770.  

Junius Courtney Big Band with Denise Perrier at 7:30 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $12-$14. 849-2568.  

Anton Schwartz Quintet with TAylor Eigsti at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $10. 841-JAZZ. www.AnnasJazzIsland.com 

San Francisco Saxophone Quartet at 4:30 at the Jazz- 

school. Cost is $20. 845-5373. www.jazzschool.com 

Alex Pfeiffer-Rosenblum, CD release party at 7:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $10. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

Adrian West at 11 a.m. at Nomad Cafe, 6500 Shattuck Ave. 595-5344. www.nomadcafe.net 

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

Champion, The First Step, Crime in Stereo at 5 p.m. at 924 Gilman St. Cost is $6. 525-9926.›


Books: Burdick and the Ugly American: The Novelist as Propagandist By PHIL McARDLE Special to the Planet

Tuesday November 29, 2005

Eugene Burdick (1918-1967) was a professor of political science at the University of California and the author of The Ugly American and other best-selling novels. He was described to me years ago as “a cigar smoking extrovert.” At the time of his death, Clark Kerr spoke of him as “...one of the truly blithe spirits of the university—joyous, curious, friendly, creative, helpful.” 

Born in Sheldon, Iowa, and raised in Los Angeles, he graduated from Stanford in 1941 with a degree in psychology. After service in the Navy he returned to Stanford for graduate studies in political science. He had learned, he wrote, that “the big problems couldn’t be solved by watching rats and that I’d better study humans.” 

In 1948 he received a Rhodes Scholarship and earned a doctorate in political philosophy at Magdalene College, Oxford. When the Korean War broke out he was called back into military service; he spent his tour of duty “war-gaming and teaching political philosophy” at the Naval War College in Rhode Island. War-gaming, with its emphasis on hypothetical scenarios, appears to have had a profound effect on the fiction he wrote. In 1952 he began teaching at Berkeley. 

 

Powerful universities 

When Burdick attended Oxford, that ancient university was making a vigorous recovery from the effects of World War II. Dons like J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, and Maurice Bowra were in top form. Their students included youngsters from the public schools, veterans, Commonwealth scholars, and increasing numbers of young women. Many of Burdick’s classmates late distinguished themselves as artists, writers, scientists and politicians. 

Some political philosophers might have found Oxford a great place to study politicians “in embryo.” But Burdick looked around and wrote an article for Isis, the student magazine, announcing that Oxford was in a serious state of decline, “even though still a powerful university, probably the most powerful in the world.” English students took umbrage, and a lively epistolary squabble ensued. It raised enough of a ruckus to be covered by American magazines and newspapers. 

Twelve years later, in 1962, Burdick came back to the subject of “powerful” universities in an article for the New York Times Magazine, “Colossal U. by the Pacific.” It was a paean of unqualified praise for the University of California, which he described as “Midas-rich, dinosaur-big, ceaselessly engaged in a fantastic variety of tasks.” He asserted it had “solved the great problem of combining size with excellence,” while providing excellent instruction for its students. 

The student protest movement burst into flame two years later. Although civil rights activists in the Free Speech Movement struck the initial spark, many observers believed the tinder that turned an incident into a conflagration was the university’s severe neglect of undergraduate teaching. 

 

The Ugly American 

Student protest soon focused on the war in Vietnam, a “big problem” about which Burdick had written in The Ugly American (1958). This famous novel—a collaboration with William Lederer, a retired naval officer—was a plea for American involvement in French Indochina, as Vietnam was known then. It was inspired, in part, by the ideas and actions of a charismatic soldier, Colonel Edward Lansdale. (Graham Greene portrayed Lansdale, the chief of the CIA’s Saigon military mission, as a bad guy in his 1954 novel, The Quiet American.)  

The Ugly American takes place in the imaginary kingdom of Sarkhan and presents itself as a serious critique of the State Department. It portrays the diplomatic service as divided between hacks, and the heroes whose good works they undermine. It attributes America’s “defeats” in the cold war to diplomatic incompetence. Its thesis is that our losses can be reversed by making comprehensive reforms in the State Department and its personnel. 

The need for specific reforms is illustrated by scenarios such as might have been concocted for role playing exercises at the Naval War College: an American soldier urges his French peers to borrow guerilla warfare methods from the Vietminh; a diplomat’s affair with a Chinese woman leaves him too tired to negotiate effectively; a plain-spoken American engineer (the heroic “Ugly American” of the title) works with his Sarkanese opposite number to devise an inexpensive irrigation method. Simple vignettes show the consequences of American rudeness and inability to speak local languages. 

The book generates an atmosphere of intense foreboding, and its endless, superficially accurate details give it the appearance of authenticity. As its ambassador to Sarkhan writes to the secretary of state, “The United States must either prepare itself to win these many tiny conflicts, which are the substance of competitive coexistence; or go down to defeat... The little things we do must be done in the real interest of the peoples whose friendship we need—not just in the interest of propaganda.” 

But crucial aspects of the real situation in Vietnam were completely absent from The Ugly American. It ignored President Eisenhower’s prudent decision not to intervene militarily. It misrepresented the extensive American involvement in the country’s affairs that already existed. It seemed naively unaware of what many other observers knew or suspected—that our government had already spent millions of dollars in secret funds to support the French war effort. 

By the time The Ugly American appeared in 1958, its proposals for Peace Corps-style, citizen-to-citizen interaction were wholly inappropriate. When the novel was turned into a movie in 1962, events had so far outstripped the plot that the story had to be revised extensively as it was being filmed. The country was a war zone and our armed forces had begun replacing the French. 

Still, Burdick’s ideas had such appeal to American good will and missionary zeal that they lingered in the air long after they stopped making sense, and were even incorporated into our war effort. A disillusioned Special Forces officer once told me of his experience in applying those ideas. In 1968 he was given responsibility for an outpost in the highlands, 300 miles northwest of Saigon, near the Cambodian border. The outpost and the adjacent village were home to about a thousand men, women and children, including three different tribes of mountain people, Cambodian exiles, and Vietnamese and American troops. 

He was there to fight the Viet Cong. To succeed, he needed intelligence from the local people, but they were afraid of the American and South Vietnamese Special Forces. To win their confidence he began a “civil affairs program,” much in the fashion advocated by The Ugly American. Over a period of months his men won the villagers’ trust by helping them dig wells and rebuild their school, and by giving them medical care at the post hospital. He said it made him feel good to see people who had been afraid of his troops smiling when they met. And the program worked: villagers started supplying information about the Viet Cong. 

All of this ended when an American howitzer shell fell short of its target during a fire fight, hitting the village and killing five people, including two children. Fear of the Special Forces returned instantly. Three days later, a soldier found a time bomb in the hospital, and he had to issue orders breaking off contact with the village. 

He came to realize he had manipulated the villagers for the sake of his mission, using them in “a cruel game of deception.” He said, “My desire changed from wanting to cultivate a source of military information to helping human beings in need.” He gave them the materials for building their own dispensary, and carte blanche to do as they wished. 

But V.C. attacks continued relentlessly, the village became a battlefield, and the villagers either died or moved away. “Eventually,” he said, “we realized that the reason for the attacks was that we were there—without us, the V.C. would not have been interested in the village.” 

That was how Burdick’s scenarios played out in reality. “The little things” he and Lederer (and behind them, Lansdale) urged Americans to do in the people’s “real interest” were never genuinely disinterested. Whether you think in terms of the golden rule or the categorical imperative, this was deeply immoral. 

Eugene Burdick considered his role as a political thinker to be more important than his role as a writer of fiction. In an essay for The Reporter he wrote, “The artist is responsible only for the fragment of reality he chooses to work on, but the political theorist is responsible for some sort of overview, and it is a dread responsibility.” 

In The Ugly American, however, those roles coalesced: he used his talent as a novelist to create an “overview” of Vietnam which was propaganda for grossly mistaken “big ideas.” The “fragment of reality” he wrote about was of extraordinary importance to an entire generation of Americans. He misinformed them by contributing half-truths to their understanding of the world. He muddied the waters so completely that some of his readers still have trouble seeing the Vietnam war for what it was. 

He was not alone in muddying the waters, and of course this still goes on. Policy makers today appeal to what Theodore White called our “blind good will” to justify sending our troops to fight in places where we should not be at war. 

b


The Carnivorous Habits of Christmas Trees By RON SULLIVAN Special to the Planet

Tuesday November 29, 2005

We don’t have a lot of eastern white pines (Pinus strobus) in Berkeley. There are lots of domestic cultivars—weeping, or tall and narrow, or bluer than the usual—and if I’m remembering correctly, it’s the species Mom and Dad used to get for the Christmas tree when I was a kid in Pennsylvania. That was partly a matter of tradition, I guess, but also because its soft needles weren’t hazardous when we were all hanging ornaments and tinsel. 

But I don’t see it much in landscapes here, probably because it prefers well-drained, slightly acid, humusy soil and cool humidity. It dislikes city air pollution, too, but in its own range, it’s quite tough. Maybe we should leave it there. 

I already get alternating jibblies and schadenfreude when I sit on the front steps opening the mail and listening to flies buzzing in despair as they’re digested alive by one of Joe’s pitcher plants, sundews, or Venus flytrap. I really don’t want to walk the streets thinking I might be attacked by some malicious tree from below as well as from above. 

Turns out that this innocent Christmas tree of the northern forests is a carnivore. And it gets its prey underground. 

Of course it isn’t that straightforward. What’s going on with white pines, as John N. Klironomos and Miranda M. Hart of Ontario’s University of Guelph found out and published in Nature in 2001, is a refinement of the mycorrhizal web, a mostly invisible and still-mysterious part of that big web of all life on Earth. Many, maybe most plants growing in their native habitats benefit from—and are part of, really—a soil network of living things, largely fungi, that connect with each other and with plants via the growing bits of the root systems. 

Fungi aren’t plants, by the way. I’m fascinated to learn that they have cell walls, like plants (we animals have cell membranes) but that those walls are chitin, like shrimp shells—which I’d thought of as an animal thing. It’s like finding your doppelganger in the Antipodes—honestly, how can anyone be anything but thrilled by what Darwin and his successors have been discovering anew with every generation, the literal kinship of all life? 

And with mycorrhizae, the literal connection of huge communities, we discover the functioning of whole forests as a single superorganism. That part’s not quite news: people have been selling and buying and surreptitiously moving mycorrhizae into their gardens and bonsai pots for years. People have also realized that disturbing or destroying this web is one of the things that trigger invasions by weeds, exotic plants like star thistle and pampas grass, plants out of place that push out natives and make sites effectively useless for the local animals and plants that depend on the original plant community. Plants not interwoven with the web can then “outcompete” the plants that were part of the original, now ruptured, living polity. The originals have effectively had part of themselves amputated. 

What white pines are doing in their home forests, it turns out, is being part of a more active feeding process than anyone had thought. Nitrogen from de-caying animals—“animals” here includes bugs and even nearly microscopic stuff like springtails, centimenter-or-so-long arthropods that feed on decaying matter in leaf litter and soil—is a well-known plant nutrient. 

The news is that pines and their “fungal partners” in the mycorrhizal web might not be waiting for something to die before digesting it. (Picture an impatient vulture.) Laccaria bicolor, a fungus that joins with white-pine rootlets in the forest, has been shown to actively infect and kill Folsomia candida springtails in the soil, and even seems to inject a paralyzing agent into them. It then “barters” the nitrogen of the springtails for carbohydrates from the pines’ root hairs, a well-known step in the soil nutrient exchange. 

Many of us have a dream of being laid to rest under a tree when we die, contributing our remains to the life and substance of the tree and so living on in the world. It’s just a little unsettling to think that the peaceful plant community might not passively wait for us.


Berkeley This Week

Tuesday November 29, 2005

TUESDAY, NOV. 29 

Return of the Over-the-Hills Gang Hikers 55 years and older who are interested in nature study, history, fitness, and fun are invited to join us on a series of monthly excursions exploring our Regional Parks. Meets at 10 a.m. at Tilden Nature Area. For information and to register call 525-2233.  

Birdwalk on the MLK Shoreline from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. to see the shorebirds here for the winter. Beginnners welcome, binoculars available for loan. 525-2233. 

Women’s Snowshoe Workshop, covering all the essentials fro getting started in the sport at 7 p.m. at REI, 1338 San Pablo Ave. 527-4140. 

20th Anniversary of Star Alliance at 5:30 p.m. at Taste of the Himalayas, 1700 Shattuck Ave. With food, music, traditional Nepalese youth dancing, and a Sing-A-Long. Tickets are $20 at the door. 848-1818. 

Flu Shots for Berkeley Residents age 60 or over or “high-risk” from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Berkeley Public Health Clinic, 830 University Ave. For information call 981-5300. 

Berkeley School Volunteers Training workshop for volunteers interested in helping the public schools, from 2:30 to 4 p.m. at 1835 Allston Way. 644-8833. 

“AIDS and the Mbeki Controversy” at 3:30 p.m. at 155 Kroeber Hall, UC Campus. 642-3391. 

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. 215-7672, 524-9992. 

Free Handbuilding Ceramics Class 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at St. John’s Senior Center, 2727 College Ave. Materials and firing charges not included. 525-5497. 

Family Story Time at 7 p.m. at the Kensington Branch Library, 61 Arlington Ave., Kensington. Free, all ages welcome. 524-3043. 

Introduction to Buddhist Meditation at 7 p.m. at the Dzalandhara Buddhist Center in Berkeley. Cost is $7-$10. Call for directions. 559-8183. www.kadampas.org 

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

St. John’s Prime Timers meets at 9:30 a.m. at St. John’s Presbyterian Church, 2727 College Ave. Judy Kuften, gerontologist, will speak on issues in aging. We always welcome new members over 50. 845-6830. 

“Ask the Social Worker” free consultations for older adults and their families from 10 a.m. to noon at BRJCC, 1414 Walnut St. To schedule an appointment call 558-7800, ext. 716. 

WEDNESDAY, NOV. 30 

“Elephants of Northwestern Namibia” with Dr. Keith Leggett at 6:30 p.m. at the Marian Zimmer Auditorium, Oakland Zoo, 9777 Golf Links Rd., Oakland. Cost is $10-$20. 632-9525. www.oaklandzoo.org 

Berkeley Gray Panthers “Drugs Under Medicare” with representatives from Social Security, Kaiser and HiCAP at 1:30 p.m. at North Berkeley Senior Center. 548-9696. 

“The Shift to China: Sweatshops, Labor Rights, and Wal-Mart” with Prof. Brad DeLong and Dara O’Rourke at 5:45 p.m. at Free Speech Movement Cafe, Moffitt Library, UC Campus. fsm-info@library.berkeley.edu 

“James McGregor, One Billion Customers: Lessons from the Front Lines of Doing Business in China” A colloquium at noon at IEAS Conference Room, 2223 Fulton St., 6th Floor. 642-2809. 

“The Veil of Beta” a documentary of a 88-year old indigenious woman opposing a dam project in Chile, at 7 p.m. at Humanist Hall, 390 27th St., Oakland. Free, donations of $5 accepted. 393-5685.  

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

Healthy Eating Habits A seminar with hypnosis at 6:30 p.m. at New Moon Opportunities, 378 Jayne Ave., Oakland. Registration required. 465-2524. 

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

Fresh Produce Stand at San Pablo Park from 3 to 6:30 p.m. in the Frances Albrier Community Center. Sponsored by the Ecology Center’s Farm Fresh Choice. 848-1704. www.ecologycenter.org 

Sing your Way Home A free sing-a-long at 4:30 p.m. every Wed. at the Albany Library, 1247 Marin Ave. 526-3720. 

Prose Writer’s Workshop An ongoing group made up of friendly writers who are serious about our craft. All levels welcome. At 7 p.m. at BRJCC, 1414 Walnut St. 848-0237. georgeporter@earthlink.net 

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

Berkeley Peace Walk and Vigil at 6:30 p.m. followed by Peace Walk at 7 p.m. www. 

geocities.com/vigil4peace/vigil 

THURSDAY, DEC. 1 

An Evening of Solidarity with the Zapatistas with music by the La Peña Community Chorus, slides from EZLN’s Other Campaign and holiday gifts, at 7:30 p.m. at La Peña. Donation $7-$15. Benefits Zapatista Auton- 

omous Health Care. 654-9587. 

Luna Fest Films by, for and about women, at 6:30 p.m. at 145 Dwinelle Hall, UC Campus. Tickets are $5-$7. crystal435@yahoo.com 

Berkeley Rhino Rugby Club begins practice at 5:30 p.m. at San Pablo Park. Boys age 14-18 encouraged to attend. 466-5133. 

World of Plants Tours Thurs., Sat. and Sun. at 1:30 p.m. at the UC Botanical Garden, 200 Centennial Drive. Cost is $5. 643-2755. http://botanicalgarden.berkeley.edu 

FRIDAY, DEC. 2 

Ward Churchill on “Since Predator Came: Notes From the Struggle for American Indian Liberation” at 8 p.m. at Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists, 1924 Cedar St. Cost is $5-$10 at the door. 208-1700. www.akpress.org 

City Commons Club Noon Luncheon with Burton Dragin on “The Social Connsequences of Legalized Gambling” Luncheon at 11:45 a.m. for $13.50, speech at 12:30 p.m., at the Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant St. 526-2925. 

“Martin and Malcolm: Implication of Their Legacies for the Future,” with Dr. Cornel West and Imam Zaid Shakir at 8 p.m. at Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center, 10 Tenth St. Cost is $20. 238-7765. 

“An Evening with Angela Y. Davis” at 8 p.m. at First Congregational Church of Oakland, 2501 Harrison St. at 25th. Tickets are $10-$12. Benefits KPFA. 848-6767, ext. 609. www.kpfa.org 

Job and Resource Fair, with over 40 local companies and community-based service providers, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the North Oakland Senior Center, 5714 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Oakland. The fair is hosted by Oakland Adult Education, Oakland Unified School District. 879- 4020. 

PEN Oakland National Literary Awards at 5:30 p.m. at Elihu Harris State Building, 1515 Clay St. Free. 228-6775. 

Pre-Kwanzaa Celebration at 6 p.m. at the Oakland Museum of California. Free with museum admission. After hours party with music by Trace Ellington is $15. 238-2200. 

Holiday Plant Sale from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the UC Botanical Garden, 200 Centennial Drive, through Dec. 12. 643-2755. 

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. 

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

Meditation, Peace Vigil and Dialogue, gather at noon on the grass close to the West Entrance to UC Berkeley, on Oxford St. near University Ave. People of all traditions are welcome to join us. Sponsored by the Buddhist Peace Fellowship. 655-6169. www.bpf.org 

SATURDAY, DEC. 3 

“A Question of Conscience” Martin Sheen & Fr. Roy Bourgeois in conversation about their lives, work and the legacy of Fr. Bill O’Donnell at 7:30 p.m. at Newman Hall, 2700 Dwight Way. Benefit for the San Carlos Foundation. Tickets are $25 for the talk, $25 for the reception. 525-3787. 

East Bay Sanctuary Covenant Holiday Crafts Fair Unique gifts at reasonable prices from indigenous worker cooperatives in Central America, Africa, Asia and Haiti from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at First Congregational Church, 2345 Channing. 524-7989. 

Middle East Children’s Alliance Palestinian Hand Crafts from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Berkeley Friends’ Meeting, 2151 Vine St.  

Pit Fix Day at the Berkeley-East Bay Humane Society. Have your pit bull spayed or neutered for free. For an appointment call 845-7735. 

Berkeley Farmers’ Market Holiday Crafts Fair from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Center St. at MLK Jr. Way. 548-3333. 

“Playing With Fire” Berkeley Potters Guild Holiday Sale from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sat. and Sun. at 731 Jones St. at Fourth St. www.berkeleypotters.com 

Albany Community Art Show from noon to 6 p.m. at the Albany Community Center, 1249 Marin Ave. 

American Indian Craft Fair and Pow-Wow on Sat. from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sun. from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Gymnasium at Merritt College, 12500 Campus Drive, Oakland. Benefits the American Indian Child Resource Center. 208-1807, ext. 305. www.aicrc.org 

Bay Area Ridge Trail Luncheon at 12:30 p.m. at the Trudeau Center, Skyline Drive, Oakland. Tickets are $75. 415-561-2595. www.ridgetrail.org 

Nature’s Holiday Learn what winter means to zoo and local animals for ages 12-14, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Oakland Zoo. Cost is $40-$50. For reservations call 632-9525, ext. 205. 

California CleanMoney and Fair Elections Act Forum at 10 a.m. at Oakland City Hall's Hearing Room 2, 1 Frank Ogawa Plaza. Sponsored by Alameda County Council of the Leagues of Women Voters. 339-1994. 

Grand Lake Farmers’ Market Goes GE Free Celebrate freedom from genetically engineered foods with a screening of “Futre of Food,” dicussions and infromation on how to shop for healthy food. From 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at Grand Lake Neighborhood Center, 530 Lake Park Way, Oakland. www.gmofreeac.org 

Berkeley Artisans Holiday Open Studios Sat. and Sun. from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. For a map of locations see www.berkeleyartisans.com 

BHS Communication Arts and Sciences Calendar Sale Wall, desk and enagement calendars on a variety of topics for only $5, from noon to 2 p.m., also on Sun. at 2310 Valley St., 3 blocks west of Sacramento St., off Channing Way. 843-2780. 

Sunset Walk at Emeryville Marina meet at 3:30 p.m. at the west side of Chevy’s Restaurant. Rain cancels. Sponsored by Solo Sierrans. 234-8949. 

Freedom From Tobacco from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Alta Bates Medical Center, First Floor Auditorium, 2450 Ashby Ave. Also on Dec. 17. Free hypnosis available. Free, but registration required. 981-5330. quitnow@ci.berkeley.ca.us 

Fungus Fair: A Celebration of Wild Mushrooms, Sat. from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sun. from noon to 5 p.m. at the Oakland Museum of California, 10th and Oak Sts. 238-2200. www.museumca.org 

Sick Plant Clinic UC plant pathologist Dr. Robert Raabe, UC entomologist Dr. Nick Mills, and their team of experts will diagnose what ails your plants from 9 a.m. to noon at the UC Botanical Garden, 200 Centennial Dr. 643-2755.  

Kids’ Night Out For children ages 4.5 to 10, to give parents a night off, from 5 to 10 p.m. at Berkwood Hedge School. Cost is $40 for one child, $25 for siblings. 540-6025. 

Free Emergency Preparedness Class on Basic Personal Preparedness from 10 a.m. to noon at North Berkeley Senior Center. To sign up call 981-5506. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/ 

fire/oes.html 

Flu and Pneumonia Shots from noon to 4 p.m. at Pharmaca Integrative Pharmacy, 1744 Solano Ave. Cost is $25 and $35. 527-8929. 

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

SUNDAY, DEC. 4 

Annual Art Show & Holiday Faire from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Kensington Unitarian Universalist Church, One Lawson Rd, Kensington. 

Richmond Art Center Holiday Arts Fesitval with silent art auction, arts and crafts sale and children’s activities from noon to 5 p.m. at 2540 Barrett Ave. 620-6772. 

Oakland Elizabeth House Arts and Crafts Fair Fundraiser from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at St. Augustine’s Gymnasium, 400 Alcatraz. 658-1380. 

East Bay Sanctuary Covenant Holiday Crafts Fair Unique gifts at reasonable prices from indigenous worker cooperatives in Central America, Africa, Asia and Haiti from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at First Congregational Church, 2345 Channing. 524-7989. 

Santa Paws at Berkeley-East Bay Humane Society Come have your pet(s)’ photo taken with Santa, or with a more generic Holiday theme for only $25, from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at 2700 Ninth St. For an appointment call 845-7735 ext. 13. 

“The Future of Struggle: Movement Veterans Discuss the Lessons of Yesterday, Today” with Ward Churchill, Kathleen Cleaver, Bo Brown, Mike James, Barry Romo and Elizabeth Martinez, at 6:30 p.m. at First Unitarian Church of Oakland, 685 14th St. Tickets are $15. 208-1700. www.akpress.org 

African/African Diaspora Film Society “Sango Malo” at 2 p.m. at Parkway Theater, 1834 Park Blvd. Cost is $5. OurFilms@aol.com  

Up the Lights Celebration Make a light sculpture and listen to stories, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Habitot, 2065 Kittredge. Cost is $6 for children, $5 for adults. 647-1111.  

“Yidl with His Fiddle” a Yiddish musical comedy film at 4 p.m. at Berkeley Richmond Jewish Community Center. Cost is $5. 848-0237. 

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 

MONDAY, DEC. 5 

“Urban Bird Life” with Alan Kaplan, recently retired East Bay Regional Parks District naturalist at 7 p.m. at Albany Community Center, 1249 Marin Ave., at Masonic. Sponsored by Friends of Five Creeks. 848-9358. 

Berkeley School Volunteers Training workshop for volunteers interested in helping the public schools, from 3 to 4:30 p.m. at 1835 Allston Way. 644-8833. 

Holiday Blood Drive from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Tippett Studio, 2741 Tenth St. To schedule an appointment see www.BeADonor.com 

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. 

Sing-A-Long from 10 to 11 a.m. at the Albany Senior Center, 846 Masonic Ave. 524-9122.  

Beginning Bridge Lessons at 11:10 a.m. at the Albany Senior Center, 846 Masonic Ave. Cost is $1. 524-9122. 

ONGOING 

Warm Coat Drive Donate a coat for distribution in the community, at Bay St., Emeryville. Sponsored by the Girl Scouts. www.onewarmcoat.org 

Magnes Museum Docent Training begins Jan. 8. Open to all who are interested in Jewish art and history. For information contact Faith Powell at 549-6950, ext. 333. 

CITY MEETINGS 

Housing Advisory Commission meets Thurs., Dec. 1, at 7:30 p.m., at the South Berkeley Senior Center. Oscar Sung, 981-5400. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/commissions/housing 

Public Works Commission meets Thurs., Dec. 1, at 7 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center. Jeff Egeberg, 981-6406. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/commissions/publicworks 

Creeks Task Force meets Mon. Dec. 5, at the North Berkeley Senior Center. Erin Dando, 981-7410. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/planning/landuse/Creeks/default.html 

Council Agenda Committee meets Mon. Dec. 5, at 2:30 p.m., at 2180 Milvia St. 981-6900. 

www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/citycouncil/agenda-committee 

Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board meets Mon., Dec. 5, at 7 p.m. in City Council Chambers, Pam Wyche, 644-6128 ext. 113. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/rent 

Landmarks Preservation Commission meets Mon., Dec. 5, at 7:30 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center. Gisele Sorensen, 981-7419. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/commissions/landmarks 

Parks and Recreation Commission meets Mon., Dec. 5, at 7 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center. Virginia Aiello, 981-5158. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/commissions/parksandrecreation 

Peace and Justice Commission meets Mon., Dec. 5, at 7 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center. Manuel Hector, 981-5510. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/commissions/peaceandjustice 

Youth Commission meets Mon., Dec. 5, at 6:30 p.m., at 1730 Oregon St. Philip Harper-Cotton, 981-6670. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/commissions/youth 

City Council meets Tues., Dec. 6, at 7 p.m in City Council Chambers. 981-6900. www.ci. 

berkeley.ca.us/citycouncil 

Commission on the Status of Women meets Wed., Dec. 7, at 7:30 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center. Tasha Tervelon, 981-5190. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/commissions/women 

Energy Commission meets Wed., Dec. 7, at 6:30 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center. Neal De Snoo, 981-5434. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/commissions/energy 

Fire Safety Commission meets Wed., Dec. 7, at 7:30 p.m. at 997 Cedar St. David Orth, 981-5502. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/commissions/firesafety 

Community Health Commission meets Thurs., Dec. 8, at 6:45 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center. Kristin Tehrani, 981-5356. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/commissions/health 

Zoning Adjustments Board meets Thurs., Dec. 8, at 7 p.m., in City Council Chambers. Mark Rhoades, 981-7410. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/commissions/zoning  

 

 

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Opinion

Editorials

Zoning Board to Decide Future of Black & White Liquor By RICHARD BRENNEMAN

Friday December 02, 2005

The fate of Black & White Liquors will be determined at a Dec. 8 meeting of the Zoning Adjustments Board (ZAB). 

Following a brief discussion Monday night, ZAB members set the hearing to determine whether or not Black & White Liquors, 3027 Adeline St., constitutes a public nuisance. 

If ZAB decides it is that would mean the end of liquor sales for owner/operator Sucha Singh Banger. 

A store clerk, Satnan Singh, was arrested on five counts of attempting to receive stolen property on June 8, when Berkeley Police busted him in a sting operation in which they offered to sell him liquor they told him had been stolen. 

The California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control issued a 20-day suspension of the store’s liquor license, effective Nov. 16. 

Prior to the June 8 incident, the only two recorded disciplinary actions against Banger’s license occurred in 1989 and 1980. 

South Berkeley residents, including former City Council candidate Laura Menard, are seeking the public nuisance finding. 

“I have seen liquor sales to inebriated people in the middle of the day, and I believe the store is central to the presence of street inebriates who make it difficult for business owners along the Adeline corridor,” Menard said. 

Menard said she was concerned that at least seven liquor stores had been in operation within a few blocks of each other in an area of the city with a relatively high crime rate. 

The store also has strong supporters, including postal carrier Martin Vargas, who has been distributing photocopied letters along his route seeking support for Banger. 

Black & White was closed for more than four months after a July 20 arson-caused blaze damaged the store’s interior. 

Firefighters and police evacuating the building discovered a large cache of firearms and a 178-plant marijuana growing operation in an upstairs apartment rented by a tenant. Police have found no evidence to link Banger to his tenant’s operations. 

Banger has since restored the building, and was scheduled to recommence liquor sales Tuesday, two days before the ZAB hearing.  

He also owns the building at 2948 Martin Luther King Jr. Way—a block west of Black & White—that housed Laiga and Nasser Elbgal’s Grove Market. That business closed when the owners surrendered their liquor license in September. 

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Eeditorial: Out of Control With Bush at the Wheel By BECKY O'MALLEY

Tuesday November 29, 2005

When I was a small child, about 5 or so, I had a recurring dream in which I was driving a car, but was still a child and didn’t know how to drive it. It carried me all sorts of places I’d never intended to go, and I couldn’t make it stop. My dream car never crashed, because I learned how to wake myself up before things got too dire, but it was frightening nonetheless. The United States at the moment is in the grip of a similar dream. All sorts of things are careening out of the control of the electorate, of those of us who are theoretically in the driver’s seat, but who cannot control where the country is going.  

Another view of who’s in the driver’s seat is that we elect a president every four years, and after that it’s up to him to guide the country—the public transit theory of democracy. The problem is that to those of us in the back of the bus it looks like the driver is asleep at the wheel. Bush’s approval ratings have slipped dramatically below 50 percent in all the polls, no matter who takes them. The masses (now there’s an old-style word) of American voters have figured out that the current administration is wrong on every crucial issue: Iraq, global climate change, health care, the deficit—all the polls show that Americans have lost faith in the administration’s ability to deal with the real problems that confront us as a nation. And yet there are three more years of the Bush II regime ahead, plenty of time for the country to crash and burn.  

The popular wisdom is that national and state legislatures have been so badly gerrymandered by Republicans and Democrats eager to protect their own seats that very few districts change hands at election time. This belief was reflected in the fairly substantial vote for California Proposition 77, which would have taken redistricting away from the Assembly, though it was ultimately rejected. Is there a chance that the Democrats could take Congress back in the 2006 election?  

We encountered Max Anderson (on the Berkeley City Council) catching Hal Stein’s amazing saxophone at Anna’s Jazz Island on Saturday night. He told me that the Dec. 10 tribute to Maudelle Shirek which he’s organizing will feature a Democratic challenger to Iowa Representative Steve King, who achieved local infamy by channeling Joe McCarthy while blocking naming the Berkeley Post Office after Shirek. I don’t know if the candidate has any chance at all, but presumably there are those in King’s district who are embarrassed by him, and by his unwavering support for the out-of-control national administration. But a better strategy for getting rid of King in a solid Republican district might be to find a moderate candidate to enter Iowa’s Jan. 16 Republican party caucus. On the other hand, the latest Harris poll shows that only 28 percent of Republicans think that Bush is misleading the country, as compared to 91 percent of Democrats, so that might not work.  

For 2008, there’s also the presidential candidate dilemma. At the moment, no opposing candidate looks very plausible. In the old days, all a candidate needed to do to win was to promise to clean up the mess in Washington, but no one yet has been willing to do that. It’s a measure of our desperation that Al Gore is looking better and better, but no announced Democratic candidate has stood up on his hind legs and called the mess in Washington the mess in Washington. Hillary Clinton’s fans are busy promoting her as the right Democrat-lite, but like the rest of them she’s unwilling to call for drastic changes in the way the country’s being run.  

Another sobering thought is that the sensible majority might get the country back in 2006 or 2008, but it would be so broke by that time that it couldn‘t be fixed. This administration has been very diligent about transferring the taxes paid by middle class Americans into the pockets of the super-rich. The worst case would be that a dream ticket (think Clinton-Obama) would be elected only to preside over the last rites of a bankrupt nation.