Response to Story on Anna’s Jazz Island

Tuesday January 17, 2006

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Does my recollection fail me or has the editorial staff of the Berkeley Daily Planet periodically excoriated various local free newspaper rags for selling out their journalistic integrity by nakedly promoting the interests of an advertiser in their so-called news coverage? 

Now I read in the Planet ad nauseum about Anna’s Jazz Island’s troubles with its neighbor Glass Onion Catering Company, noting the important proviso in the article, “Neither Glass Onion nor Kennedy was contacted for this story, which is based wholly on the allegations in de Leon’s complaint.” Flip to page five of the Planet and, surprise(!), there’s an ad for Anna’s Jazz Island. 

Is there any other disclosure the Planet would like to make regarding any old personal friendships or other relationships between staff members of the Planet and de Leon who is a fellow traveler of the same generation and ilk? 

Regardless of that, now that the Planet is littered with ads for Scientology in various vacuous guises, what are we to expect next from articles attributed only to the “Daily Planet Staff”? Perhaps an angry, one-sided apologia for the life and works of L. Ron Hubbard wholly based on material supplied by the Church of Scientology? 

O once esteemed Daily Planet! To what depths of journalistic turpitude you have sunk in desperation for an advertising buck! Perhaps only even heavier doses of anti-Israel and anti-Neo-Con (the latter as commonly understood code for the former) screeds could now resuscitate your clearly failing enterprise. 

Edna Spector 


Editors, Daily Planet: 

As the management company for the Gaia Arts Center I was astounded to see an article published in your paper regarding a private event that was hosted at the Gaia Arts Center on Saturday, Jan. 7. The party was the 18th birthday celebration of a local Latino Berkeley High School honor student. The birthday party was a private celebration and was not facilitated in any way by Glass Onion Catering, Gaia Arts Management or Panoramic Interests. The student’s father is not an employee of Panoramic Interests, and is in fact the owner of his own company. No alcohol was being served at the event. 

The amount of erroneous facts that have been quoted in the article make it difficult to address each one so I will simply address the major issues. There were claims that the Gaia Arts Center and Glass Onion Catering have engaged in the illegal sale of alcohol. All public events hosted at the Gaia Arts Center that fall under ABC regulations are required to obtain proper permits from the ABC before alcohol can be served. These permits require the approval of the Berkeley Police Department and the building owner before they can be approved by the ABC. According to officials at the ABC, neither Glass Onion Catering nor the Gaia Arts Center is under investigation by the ABC in any way.  

Your article further states there were masses of young drunk adults gathered outside the Arts Center alleging there were fights and other illegal activity. According to the police record there were no arrests or citations written . I am appalled at the lack of journalistic integrity required to print such a piece. You stated in your article that you did not contact Glass Onion Catering, Gaia Arts Management or Panoramic Interests, I would hope that you would have checked you facts more carefully.  

If you really want to know what is going on at the Gaia Arts Center, I would encourage you and your staff to attend one of the many artistic or community functions we host weekly. The Gaia Arts Center opened its doors in July. In August, we introduced “The Marsh,” a well-known San Francisco Theater Company to downtown Berkeley. Since their debut in August The Marsh has had weekly theater performances, more than 70 in total. The Marsh has introduced more than six new performers to downtown Berkeley, and I believe the Gaia Arts Center is the only facility in downtown Berkeley that can boast weekly theater 12 months a year!  

In addition to weekly theater, the mezzanine has an ongoing art exhibit by local Berkeley artist Carol Brightman (curator of the Addison Street Window Project), Audrey Wallace Taylor and Sylvia Susman. Berkeley’s non-profit and local business community have also embraced the facility. We have hosted fundraisers, meetings and/or seminars for the following organizations: Cal State 9 Credit Union, BAHIA, the mayor’s office, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Hop-A-Long Animal Rescue and Clif Bar. In the next few months we will be hosting events sponsored by Berkeley Food & Housing, the Berkeley Art Museum, and The VERGE (a local nonprofit committed to supporting youth music and art programs). The San Francisco City Church will also be using the facility temporarily for worship services as it searches for a permanent location to house its East Bay parishioners.  

This is what should be making headlines. The Gaia Arts Center has become and will continue to be a positive presence in the downtown Berkeley community. We should all be applauding the positive impact the new community center has had.  

Gloria Atherstone 

Gaia Arts Management Inc.