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Photograph by Stephan Babuljak: Alisia Brown, 17, works on a computer at the Berkeley Alternative High School, which is seeking an image change in its new incarnation at B-Tech.				o
Photograph by Stephan Babuljak: Alisia Brown, 17, works on a computer at the Berkeley Alternative High School, which is seeking an image change in its new incarnation at B-Tech. o
 

News

District Struggles to Remake School’s Image

By Suzanne La Barre
Friday May 05, 2006

Grappling with an identity that, in the past, has included pejoratives like “dumping grounds,” “pre-prison,” and “a place for bad kids,” Berkeley’s Alternative High School is due for a systemic overhaul, administrators say. 

That revamp, in the form of a continuation school with a 21st century name, has arrived. Berkeley Technology Academy, or B-Tech as it would be called, would offer courses to the district’s 16- to 18-year-olds who don’t fit in elsewhere, whether due to truancy, academic performance, spotty attendance or other reasons. 

Students would chose among three options to complete coursework: a college track, a vocational program or independent study. The school would serve about 150 students, with a student-to-teacher ratio of 15 to 1. The average ratio at the high school is about 25 to 1. 

Additional features at B-Tech would include partnerships with community organizations like Berkeley City (Vista ) College, InnerWorks, the Black Ministerial Alliance and Project ECHO, a hands-on entrepreneurial program that gives students the opportunity to develop and operate an on-campus business. 

But the component that distinguishes the school most explicitly from the existing model is that it would serve students who are there against their will. Currently, the alternative school does not—or at least it isn’t supposed to. 

The latter point was the subject of Yarman Smith et al. v. Berkeley Unified School District et al., a class action lawsuit filed last year, when a group of students claimed they were involuntarily transferred out of school or to alternative programs. 

The allegations were never proven, said Felton Owens, director of student support services, but a consent decree, agreed upon by both parties, stipulated that the district clarify its discipline policy. Forming a formal continuation school, where students can be placed involuntarily, is the upshot. 

Historically, the Alternative High School, formerly called East Campus, was a continuation school. Then during the 2000-2001 school year, the Berkeley Board of Education voted to transition the school to an alternative model, according to Guidance Counselor Mercedes Sanders. 

The idea was, in part, to offer a site that students would choose to attend, and also to discard negative associations with the term “continuation school,” which often conjures up images of students with discipline problems, drug addiction and violent tendencies. 

“There’s been a lot of tension about what this school is,” said English teacher Andrea Pritchett. “I understand the district has a need for a continuation school, but there’s been a huge amount of ambiguity about whether we’re a continuation school or an alternative school.” 

Regardless of how it’s defined, Superintendent Michele Lawrence admits the school isn’t working.  

“I think our alternative high school program has been stuggling for a long time,” she said Wednesday.  

The Alternative High School has some of the worst attendance in the district. In January, an average of 27.4 percent of the school’s 10th- to 12th-grade students were absent. (As a comparison, Berkeley High School students averaged about a 10 percent absence rate that month.) 

In 2005, the Alternative School received an Academic Performance Index of 370, on a scale of 200 to 1,000, and earned the lowest rank possible compared with schools statewide. 

About seven in 10 students are African American, one in five are Hispanic or Latino and 4 percent are white. It is not uncommon for three-fourths of the student body to live in a single-parent home or for a quarter of the population to live in foster care, according to a written proposal on B-Tech. 

There are very few scientific studies that detail the positive components of alternative schools, according Laudan Aron of the Urban Institute, in a recent overview of alternative education. General threads through promising programs include a clear focus on academic rigor, supportive staff, small class sizes, clean facilities, partnerships with the community and extra student support. 

Some educators think the proposed continuation school won’t measure up. 

“I’m against it,” said Joy Moore, nutrition outreach specialist for the city of Berkeley who works at the Alternative High School six hours a week. “It changes the flavor and design of the educational experience for the kids. It’s like a pre-prison.” 

Sanders, who has been at the alternative school since 1993, agrees the involuntary component will change classroom environments. She hopes major structural changes will effectively address students’ needs, but fears resources may difficult to come by.  

“Intervention, internships, work programs, tutors, mentors, partnerships … what we really need are resources,” she said. 

The district would earmark about $139,000 for extra staff—a work experience coordinator and a second school safety officer—but additional costs have not been enumerated. 

Sanders is also concerned with how quickly the transition is being implemented. The Board of Education received the proposal a week ago, and was scheduled to take action Wednesday. Directors deferred a decision to the next meeting to give staff time to compile a detailed picture of cost estimates. 

A teacher, who spoke on condition on anonymity for fear of losing her job, said teachers were not given an opportunity to help conceptualize the new school. They first learned of the proposed overhaul a few weeks ago, and received a copy of the B-Tech plan for the first time on Tuesday, she said. 

Morale is low, and teachers are uncertain about whether they want to stay or go, she said. 

B-Tech has earned some backing in the community, in large part because it offers multiple pathways for students who aren’t succeeding to meet graduation requirements. A small band of parents and students attended Wednesday’s Board of Education meeting to show their support for the program and the school’s principal Victor Diaz, who is behind the revamp.  

“As a parent, I want all of what the proposal says,” Procesa Gorrostieta told the board. Gorrostieta’s 10th-grade daughter attends the alternative school. “I don’t think it’s supposed to be called the school for bad kids. The kids are different, they have other needs, and we’re supposed to give them what they need.””


Deputy Director Leaves Troubled Library System After Brief Stay

By Judith Scherr
Friday May 05, 2006

Vivian Pisano may be just one more casualty of Berkeley’s library wars. 

After fewer than four months on the job, the deputy director tendered her resignation, sending a simple e-mail to staff on May 1, saying she had enjoyed working with them and that she was leaving. 

“It was a shock, a big surprise to union leadership,” said Anes Lewis-Partridge, senior field representative with Service Employees International Union 535, which represents library workers. ”We were hopeful (and appreciated) the way she dealt with line staff. She was open. She listened. She had a positive management style.” 

Pisano left the San Francisco library system to come to Berkeley, where she began work Jan. 31. 

“She’ll be resuming her duties in San Francisco May 30 as chief of Information Technology,” said San Francisco library spokesperson Sherri Eng. Pisano confirmed her new position in a terse e-mail to the Daily Planet in response to multiple calls for an interview.  

The deputy director took the job in Berkeley in the midst of heated conflict between library staff and Library Director Jackie Griffin, whose termination has been sought by a majority of the library staff. The union claims the library has been mismanaged and that when staff has spoken out about it, workers have suffered retaliation. 

The Board of Trustees, which oversees the library, has discussed the director’s evaluation at least three different times behind closed doors and Griffin’s attorney has threatened to sue the library if Griffin is fired. 

Pisano’s exit “is another consequence of the poor way that the library is being run. It’s a shame that we would loose somebody that seemed extraordinarily talented,” said Councilmember Kriss Worthington. “It’s a sad loss for Berkeley.”  

Councilmember Darryl Moore, a library trustee, did not return calls for comment. 

The City Council has little jurisdiction over the library and exerts practically none. Under the City Charter, a group of five trustees has “power to manage the library and to appoint, discipline and dismiss all officers and employees of the library.” 

The group is self-appointing, with one trustee a City Council member, appointed by the council. The council majority can remove a trustee. 

“We’re sorry to lose her and we wish her well,” said Trustee Terry Powell. “I really like her and we’re sorry she’s leaving.” 

Library Director Griffin commented by e-mail: “We have really enjoyed working with Vivian Pisano. She has been a very strong leader and a fine addition to our staff. We regret losing her to San Francisco Public Library and we wish her very well in her career.””


BUSD Maintenance Department in Disarray

By Suzanne La Barre
Friday May 05, 2006

The Berkeley Unified School District (BUSD) Maintenance Department is in need of repair. 

The office suffers from major disorganization and a lack of accountability, according to Lew Jones, BUSD director of facilities, who recently assumed control of the department. 

Meanwhile, the staff is down a fifth of its workforce. That includes department head Rhonda Bacot, who left the district March 3 to take a position elsewhere. 

Jones said that when he took over, he was shocked to find the department in such disarray. Work orders have been filed sporadically or left incomplete, employees aren’t trained comprehensively, which forces the district to use expensive contract workers, inactive utility accounts remain open, rent due to the district has gone unpaid and waste management isn’t receiving adequate attention, he said. 

He chalks it up in part to a lack of personnel. 

“There’s a whole host of systems that need to be improved,” Jones said. “But it’s difficult when you don’t have enough management to make things efficient.” 

Ann Aoyagi, administrative coordinator for the maintenance department agreed that many of the problems stem from unfilled positions. BUSD has been without a carpenter for three years, the daytime shift supervisor died in September and the evening shift supervisor left later that month, she said. Of the department’s roughly 35 posts, seven are vacant. 

In the effort to pull the department out of the swamps, the Berkeley Board of Education approved a new pecking order Wednesday. Jones, in addition to his role as facilities director, will serve as the central point of contact for all maintenance, operations and transportation matters. Specialized managers in those fields will serve as a bulwark against future accountability snafus, staff say. An existing grounds supervisor position will be eliminated. The total encroachment on the district’s general fund is estimated at $65,000. 

The cost to the district resulting from the department’s many inefficiencies is not known, Jones said. 

Board Director Nancy Riddle doesn’t think restructuring the department—and digging into the general fund to do so--will yield significant changes. She voted against the reorganization proposal.  

“I don’t want the increase and I don’t believe the structure will solve the problems,” she said. What will are “better communication structures rather than administrative structures.” 

Jones concurred that communication is an issue, particularly with custodial staff. For example, maintenance will get calls to change light bulbs or, as Aoyagi pointed out with mild amusement, requests to pick up dead rats—tasks typically assinged to custodians. 

“There are differences from site to site in terms of expectations,” Jones said, adding that the new management structure represents the district’s best effort at getting everyone on the same page.  

Twenty-six year veteran employee Pedro Reynosa concurred there’s a communication problem, but typically it’s been between the administration and workers. 

He encourages new managers to “Be more close to the people. It’s one thing when you leave a note that says ‘do this,’” he said. “A supervisor who’s working with the people and not just sitting in front of the computer ... [that’s] very important to the workers.” 

Steps are underway to restaff the department, but as Aoyagi points out, the district’s employment process is lengthy. It took five months for her to secure a position at BUSD; she speculated that the same could be true for new maintenance workers. 

In the meantime, maintenance is not at a standstill, she said. 

Student board Director Teal Smith hasn’t noticed any blips in the general operations and tidiness of Berkeley High School. 

In fact, she said, “Bathrooms are a lot cleaner than they used to be.””


Wilson Will Challenge Spring For City Council Seat in District 4

By Judith Scherr
Friday May 05, 2006

While local elections won’t happen for another half year, candidates are already rolling up their sleeves for a fight in District 4, the central Berkeley council district that includes the downtown business area, held by incumbent Dona Spring since 1992. 

Raudel Wilson, 30, a Vallejo native, is challenging Spring, arguing that she lacks responsiveness to her district and is not visible in the community. 

“I’m not sure what she has done,” Wilson said in a phone interview Tuesday. “I don’t see her [in the community] . . . It’s really important in city government to communicate with residents. It’s important to see elected officials in the community.”  

Spring said she is proud of her record on the council. She said she has always been accessible to members of her district and has worked hard for them. 

Wilson promised to hold town meetings and get the community up-to-date information on the crimes occurring in District 4. For example, he said, recently, there has been a rash of car break-ins in the residential area about which the public has not been well-informed. 

Married with two children and preparing to send his 4-year-old to public school in September, Wilson has worked at the downtown Mechanics Bank for nine years, where he is office manager. Wilson says his wife is a stay-at-home mom. “She has a tougher job than me,” he said. 

Before going to Mechanics Bank, he attended Contra Costa College for three years. The family moved to Berkeley three years ago to be closer to Wilson’s job and to be “part of the community,” he said. 

Wilson touts his non-profit work, having served on the boards of the Downtown Berkeley Association, where he was president for two years, and on the YMCA board.  

Wilson presently serves as Councilmember Darryl Moore’s appointee to the Zoning Adjustments Board and as Councilmember Laurie Capitelli’s appointee to the Downtown Area Plan Advisory Committee. 

“I’m passionate about what happens in the city,” he said. 

Talking about issues he has helped resolve on the ZAB, Wilson points to nuisance hearings on two different liquor stores: Dwight Way Liquor, which ZAB shut down, and Black and White Liquor, which stayed open with restrictions. 

And he played a role in the approvals for the David Brower Center, a project of which Spring has been one of the leading proponents. 

“The David Brower Center has given the downtown affordable housing—true family units with three bedrooms,” Wilson said. 

Wilson said, if elected, he plans to keep his full-time job at the bank. (Councilmembers earn $25,872 annually.) He also explained that, although he sent out an e-mail announcing his candidacy using his Mechanics Bank e-mail address and offering his work phone number, in the future he “won’t be working (the campaign) out of Mechanics Bank. We’ll be setting up a website.” 

Spring, 53, came to Berkeley from Colorado as a 19-year-old university student, with a double major in anthropology and psychology. In the six years before she was elected to the Berkeley City Council, Spring was involved in a variety of community activities, including serving on a Cable TV task force. 

Among her accomplishments over the years on the council, Spring cites her role working with colleagues to fund round-the-clock services at the homeless shelter at the Veteran’s Memorial Center. Closure of the center during part of the day was hard on the homeless and generated complaints from the business community, Spring said. 

The councilmember also points to her work on the council, advocating health services to combat the health disparities between African Americans and whites as cited by city Health Department studies. 

The councilmember has been a longtime supporter of government reform measures. 

“In 1993 I pushed Instant Runoff Voting—it took 11 years,” she said. “I was the first one (on the council) to push for public financing of campaigns. We still haven’t gotten that.”  

Spring said she has supported bond measures to increase library funding and advocated building the pedestrian/bike overpass over Interstate 80. “I know, as a person in a wheelchair, the difficulty of getting over to the waterfront,” she said. 

“I am particularly proud of my environmental record,” Spring said, pointing to her work on creek and tree protection, as well as her advocacy for biodiesel fuel usage.  

Councilmember Spring bristled at Wilson’s accusation that she is not responsive to her constituency. 

“I’ve held district meetings this fall on two different occasions,” she said. “I get to neighborhood organizations, attend street fairs. I’ve never seen (Wilson) at the October Festival. Where has he been?” 

Spring said that “everyone who calls the office, unless they are abusive, gets a return call from me—I’m very accessible. I am receptive to what my constituents want, which is not a knee-jerk rubber stamper of development projects that don’t have appropriate setbacks and mitigations for impacts.”  

On the other hand, Spring said her rival for the council seat has a history on the Zoning Adjustments Board of being unresponsive to neighborhood concerns. Specifically, she gave the example of 1532 Martin Luther King Way, where a single-family home was expanded to three units. 

“It was lot line to lot line with parking in the front yard,” Spring said, adding that the project was opposed by all the surrounding neighbors within a block of the project. “He never tried to address any of their concerns.””


Magna, Owner of Golden Gate Fields, in Financial Crisis

By Richard Brenneman
Friday May 05, 2006

Magna Entertainment, the Canadian firm that owns Golden Gate Fields in Albany, warned this week that its ability to continue in business is in “substantial doubt.” 

The warning is contained in the company’s financial report for the first quarter of 2006, which was released Monday during the firm’s annual meeting in Toronto. 

The report warns: “[T]he company’s ability to continue as a going concern is in substantial doubt and is dependent on the company generating cash flows that are adequate to sustain the operations of the business and maintain its obligations with respect to secured and unsecured creditors, neither of which is assured.” 

The news comes as Albany voters are being asked to sign petitions to place a resolution on the November ballot that could stall a plan by Magna and a Los Angeles developer to bring a posh open air shopping mall to the track’s northwestern parking lot. 

But Matt Middlebrook of Caruso Affiliated, the Los Angeles mall development firm, said, “We’ve spoken with Magna, and these are technical issues that will have no impact on our project.” 

Magna Entertainment, the creation of Canadian auto parts magnate Frank Stronach, developed into the largest owner of horse racing tracks in North America. 

The firm’s public relations arm has yet to return a call from the Daily Planet. 

According to their financial report, Magna Entertainment signed a letter of intent in April 2004 with Caruso Affiliates Holdings “to develop certain undeveloped lands surrounding Santa Anita Park and Golden Gate Fields racetracks.” 

Los Angeles developer Rick Caruso is perhaps the country’s leading developer of upscale themed malls that combine street level shops and housing above, built around open air plazas and walkways.  

According to the financial report, Magna and Caruso have each agreed “to fund 50 percent of approved pre-development costs in accordance with a preliminary business plan for each of these projects, with the goal of entering into Operating Agreements by May 31, 2005, which has been extended by mutual agreement of the parties on several occasions and has been extended to May 15, 2006.” 

Middlebrook said the agreement will “assuredly, without question” be extended. 

According to Magna report, the Canadian firm’s share of costs of the two California track proposals has totaled approximately $3.3 million, “of which $1.5 million was paid during the three months ended March 31.” 

Magna hasn’t signed operating agreements on either of the projects, the report states. 

Opponents of the Golden Gate Fields mall project are currently gathering signatures for a measure they hope to place on the November ballot to require a public planning process for all development on the waterfront. 

Middlebrook said Magna is currently working with city planning staff as the developers are formulating their proposal. “We’ll be meeting with them again next  

 

week,” he said. 

The Magna/Caruso plan would also have to go to the voters under current city law. “Whatever we submit to the city will be subject to a lengthy environmental review,” Middlebrook said. A proposal won’t be ready for voters ’till next year,” he said. 

Meanwhile, the troubled Canadian firm is in negotiations with Native American tribes looking for casino sites, who are interested in buying interests in some of the tracks. 

Reporter Greg Keenan of the Toronto Globe & Mail wrote Tuesday that Stronach told investors the firm could end up in the black if the sale of key properties go through. 

Stronach blamed the current cash crunch in part on delays in the sale of The Meadows, a track near Pittsburgh, Pa., which has been stalled because of regulatory issues..


West Berkeley Bowl Project Put on City’s Fast Track

By Suzanne La Barre
Friday May 05, 2006

Attempting to harness a protracted public approval process, the Planning Department has placed the West Berkeley Bowl project on the fast track.  

The project will pass through the Zoning Adjustments Board and the Planning Commission over the next few weeks, then move on to the Berkeley City Council for a possible verdict before councilmembers depart for summer recess. 

The council is expected to consider the project in its entirety June 13. 

West Berkeley Bowl would comprise 91,060-square-feet of development in two buildings at 920 Heinz Ave., including a grocery store, office and storage space, a food service building, a community room and 211 parking spaces. 

The project requires both a use permit and a new zoning category. Currently, the area is zoned for mixed use and manufacturing buildings. 

The three boards slated to examine the project can hand down decisions in various capacities. The Planning Commission looks at legislative proposals (rezoning) whereas ZAB takes project-specific action (granting permits). 

In this case, ZAB is also charged with fact-finding for the environmental impact report (EIR), a study to look at the environmental effects of the proposed development. The City Council has final say over all projects.  

The public process for West Berkeley Bowl is proceeding as follows:  

ZAB heard the project last night after press time; a full report will be available in the Berkeley Daily Planet Tuesday.  

On May 10, the Planning Commission will hold a public hearing to consider recommending general plan and zoning amendments to the City Council. ZAB meets the following night to act on a use permit and the EIR. 

On May 23, City Council will set a public hearing for June 13, to evaluate both the ZAB decision and the Planning Commission’s recommendations. 

The use permit that ZAB grants--if it grants one at all--would only go into effect if the City Council approves the general plan and zoning amendments. 

Typically, the City Council makes a determination on legislative changes before ZAB grants a use permit. In this case, however, the planning department wants to speed up the process. 

“We’re working on a constrained time line and we’ve had some unexpected delays,” said Planner Aaron Sage. 

Developer Glen Yasuda, who operates the original Berkeley Bowl on Oregon Street, first proposed the project in October 2004, but because of a late EIR request and a series of flubs—including an erroneous traffic report—progress has stalled. 

Since 2004, the proposed project has gone before the Planning Commission 12 times. ZAB heard the project three times and the Design Review Committee considered it once.  

ZAB Chair David Blake fears the current attempt to expedite the project could result in hasty decisions.  

“I hope to avoid any rush to judgment because of our unfortunate screw-ups,” he said.


UC Police Review Board Holds Rare Public Meeting

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Friday May 05, 2006

The UC Police Review Board met for its first open meeting in two years Tuesday evening at the Goldman School of Public Policy at UC Berkeley. 

Addressing the board and members of the public, Robert MacCoun, board chair and professor of public policy and law, said that the meeting had been called to discuss the complaints and appeals filed in the 2005-2006 academic year. 

MacCoun said that this was the second consecutive academic year in which no formal citizen appeals had been received by the UC Police Review Board (PRB). There had also been no informal citizen contacts regarding concerns with the department. For the year 2005, the UC police department has listed five formal complaints and five work file memos, he said. 

“The department investigations did not sustain allegations in any of these incidents,” MacCoun said. “The Police Review Board did not receive any informal contacts from the citizens, and none of them formally appealed the department rulings.” 

The board is aware of two formal complaints and two informal complaints in the calendar year 2006 which were filed in four unrelated incidents in March. The department has not completed its investigations in these four cases.  

“There could be problems, citizens might have complaints but chose not to file them,” MacCoun said. “We cannot assume that since we are not receiving any complaints, there are no problems.” 

Danny Herrera, a member of the City of Berkeley’s Police Review Commission (PRC) emphasized the importance of better communication between the city’s PRC and the university’s PRB. 

James (Owen) Sizemore, an ASUC representative and an outgoing PRB member, brought up the recent issue of the arrest of disabled activist Danny McMullen at People’s Park by UC police on April 30. 

The incident, according to Sizemore’s account, began when McMullen pulled his motorized wheelchair with an attached trailer into the driveway of People’s Park and he was informed by two police officers that no vehicles or carts were allowed into the park.  

McMullen refused to remove his wheelchair as he was using the trailer cart to transport his two sons to the free meal being served by the Catholic Worker, Sizemore said. When he was ordered to show his identification, and refused to comply, one of the officers put his hand on McMullen.  

McMullen ordered this officer to remove his hand and the officer refused to do so. McMullen then got up and expectorated upon the aforementioned officer at which point he was forced to the ground and handcuffed after some struggle, according to Sizemore. 

The board did not discuss the matter further at the meeting. Sizemore emphasized the need for regular meetings to discuss such issues and also stressed the importance of raising awareness about the existence of the university PRB itself among the student community and the residents of Berkeley. 

 

PRB Chair Robert MacCoun can be contacted at 642-7518 or at maccoun@berkeley.eduu


Gay Couple Claim Iceland Forced Them Off of Ice

By Judith Scherr
Friday May 05, 2006

Two skaters alleging discrimination are suing Berkeley Iceland over an incident in February in which they say they were asked to leave the rink based on their sexual orientation. 

Calling the charges “absolutely ludicrous,” Jay Wescott, Iceland manager, contends an employee intervened to stop the couple from performing moves that would endanger others. 

“My clients were skating together at the Berkeley Iceland rink. One of the staff became very agitated and actually walked out onto the ice and admonished them, ordering them to get off the ice,” said Shannon Minter, attorney with the San Francisco-based National Coalition for Lesbian Rights, who filed the lawsuit in Alameda County Superior Court in March. 

Other couples were holding hands, but Minters said his clients were the only same-sex couple on the ice holding hands. 

According to the complaint, not until the pair, Alan Lessik, American Friends Service Committee regional director and John Manzon-Santos, executive director of the Asian Pacific Island Wellness Center was leaving the rink did the employee, Monte Tiedemann, tell the couple that he had asked them to leave for safety reasons.  

“It’s clear to us that it wasn’t about safety. It was an after-the-fact rationalization,” Shannon said. 

The complaint says that the pair, training for the Gay Games in July, was practicing hand-in-hand crossovers during a freestyle training session—a time when the ice is reserved for professional athletes or those training with a coach—when Tiedemann walked onto the ice in his street shoes and “pointed his finger in Lessik’s face and yelled, “‘I told you guys before, I can’t have you skating here.’ No skating together—this is a freestyle . . . There are no pairs here, I don’t allow it.” 

In a phone interview, Lessik pointed out that the couple had been involved in a similar incident in April 2005 when the same employee had told them they could not skate together, even though, as the lawsuit alleges, “other adults—male-female couples—were skating together at the same time as plaintiffs.”  

Lessik said he and Manzon-Santos had skated in Berkeley between April and February without incident and without seeing Tiedemann. When Tiedemann used the phrase, “I told you guys before,” Lessik said that showed that Tiedemann had remembered the earlier incident, Lessik said. 

Iceland manager Wescott dismissed the charges of homophobia. 

“We are open to people of all sexual orientations,” he said, underscoring that his employee was simply enforcing safety regulations. “He stopped them from doing tricks. They were doing tricks as a pair—going in different directions.” 

There were 23 other people on the ice at the time, he said, noting that they don’t usually allow couples at all. And Wescott said the pair was never asked to leave the building. 

Lessik says he and his partner were not doing any moves that the male-female couples were not doing. 

Manzon-Santos and their attorney will meet for a mediation session with Berkeley Iceland personnel next week, a mandated step before moving forward with the lawsuit..


Man Dies After Being Hit By UC Construction Truck

Bay City News
Friday May 05, 2006

A longtime Berkeley resident was struck and killed by a tractor-trailer on Wednesday morning, Berkeley police reported. 

Jeffrey Schoen, 47, was on Haste Street about 50 feet west of the crosswalk at Dana Street when he fell beneath the rear wheels of the passing truck, according to police Officer Ed Galvan. 

Witnesses told police the truck, carrying dirt for a construction project on the UC Berkeley campus, was going about 20 mph on the street where the speed limit is 25 mph. Police believe the driver did not see Schoen and was not at fault in his death. 

The collision occurred around 8:55 a.m. Schoen was pronounced dead at a hospital around 9:30 a.m., according to the Alameda County coroner’s bureau. Galvan said it appeared Schoen’s chest was crushed. 

The incident was the second Berkeley fatality involving a construction truck in eight days. Nadine Lambert, a professor in the UC Berkeley graduate school of eduction, was killed on April 26 when a dump truck hit her car near campus..


County Worker to Stand Trial in Rose Garden Slashing

Bay City News
Friday May 05, 2006

A judge ruled Thursday that there’s sufficient evidence to have a former Alameda County mental health worker stand trial on charges that she was an accessory to the brutal stabbing of a 75-year-old woman near the Berkeley Rose Garden last year. 

Laurel Headley, the defense attorney for Hamaseh Kianfar, a 31-year-old San Rafael woman who resigned from her job shortly after the March 16, 2005, incident in the 1200 block of Euclid Avenue in Berkeley, told Alameda County Superior Court Judge Jon Rolefson that she’s “incredulous” that charges were filed against Kianfar. 

Headley admitted that Kianfar left the scene with a 16-year-old mentally troubled girl who later pleaded guilty to assault with a deadly weapon for the incident and didn’t call police for 15 hours, but she said Kianfar was the person who gave the juvenile’s name to police and set in motion the chain of events that led to her arrest. 

But prosecutor Carrie Panetta said that by driving the girl from the scene, Kianfar helped her avoid being arrested, which is a key element of being an accessory to a felony. 

Panetta said Kianfar heard the victim call out for help and knew she was bleeding profusely but urged the girl to leave the scene. 

She said Kianfar also took the juvenile to an Old Navy store so she would have clothing different than the clothing the juvenile wore at the time of the attack in an apparent bid to help the girl cover up the crime. 

In addition, Panetta said Kianfar gave Berkeley police “a statement full of lies” aimed at minimizing her role in the crime and hiding the fact that she had spent considerable time with the juvenile outside of her normal working hours in an apparent violation of county rules. 

Rolefson ordered Kianfar, who remains free on $15,000 bail, to return to court May 18 to be arraigned again and have a trial date set. 

If she’s convicted, she would face a sentence of between 16 months and three years in state prison. 

Although the juvenile, who initially was charged with attempted murder, pleaded guilty to assault with a deadly weapon last Sept. 6, she still hasn’t been sentenced because the juvenile justice system has had a hard time finding a suitable place for her. 

According to the juvenile’s attorney, Cliff Blakely, the girl, who is now 17, has a low IQ and faces other developmental issues. 

The girl appeared in Juvenile Court briefly Thursday and is scheduled to return on May 10, when court officials hope to finally agree on a place for her. She’s being held in juvenile hall in San Leandro in the meantime. 

According to court documents, Kianfar admitted to Berkeley police that she met the girl before the stabbing while working with the girl at juvenile hall when the girl had been housed there for a previous crime. 

The stabbing victim, now 76, testified Thursday that she and her husband were walking to their home on Euclid Avenue after attending a film class at the UC Berkeley when two women approached then on the sidewalk adjacent to the Rose Garden. 

The elderly woman said she didn’t pay any attention to the women but “I felt something on my neck as they came” and “my hand flew to my neck.” 

She said, “I felt wetness and realized I’d been cut.” 

The woman, who has asked that her name not be used, said she screamed for help several times and then lay down on the ground because she feared that she would lose consciousness due to all the blood she was losing. 

But she said her husband and several helpful bystanders were able to summon help and she was taken to Highland Hospital in Oakland, where she was treated and eventually recovered. 

The victim and her husband both admitted that they couldn’t identify the two women who were involved in the incident, which occurred about 6:40 p.m. during twilight hours. 

The husband testified that after the stabbing, both women “were moving away rapidly and looking back at me.” 

He said it was “obvious” to him that the smaller of the two women, apparently referring to Kianfar, “was trying to get the larger lady (apparently the juvenile) out of there.””


City Buys New Vactor Truck To Unclog Storm Drains

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Friday May 05, 2006

The City of Berkeley recently bought a powerful new Vactor truck to clean up clogged storm drains in the city. 

The truck, which runs on a six-cylinder engine and carries a 1,000 gallon water system, had a price tag of $246,067.54. 

The new acquisition, a Vactor 2100 Series with a John Deere auxiliary engine mounted to Sterling model 7501 chassis, brings the total number of trucks used by Public Works Department to clean sewers and storm drains in the city to three, with one being used to clean sewers and two being used to clean storm drains. 

“It is actually a giant vacuum cleaner,” said Claudette Ford, acting director of public works. “Berkeley gets a lot of rain and this new addition will prove helpful when we face problems with clogged storm drains.” 

Ford explained, “The water that is filled into the tanks is used to flush the drains. The vacuum pump is attached to the truck’s intake hose which is lowered into the storm drain. As a result the storm drain is flushed from all angles with the water coming from the tanks. The water helps the vacuum to suck up all the debris.” 

One of the main reasons the city bought the new truck was to lessen the strain on city workers who often have to clean out the clogged drains with their hands. 

“This makes the process a lot simpler, mechanized, as well as faster,” Ford said. 

The truck will be used for regular storm drain cleaning and residents can request the truck if they are having a storm drain problem. 

For more information contact the Public Works Department at 981-6300. 

 

Photograph by Michael Howerton 

Public Works employees show off the new Vactor 2100 Series with a John Deere Auxiliary engine on a Sterling model 7501 chassis, which cost the city nearly a quarter of a million dollars.


The June Election Beyond the Oakland Mayor’s Race

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Friday May 05, 2006

The race to replace Jerry Brown as mayor of Oakland in the June 6 primary has gotten the lion’s share of local media and public attention so far. Meanwhile, Alameda County residents will have the opportunity to vote on a number of candidates and issues that will have a great affect on the shape of their government, fiscal policy, and the direction of area education. 

Below is a preliminary rundown of some of the local June 6 races: 

 

16th Assembly District 

This is the race to succeed Wilma Chan, who cannot run for re-election as 16th District Assemblymember because of term limits. 

KPFA Radio program producer Edward Ytuarte is running unopposed in the Peace and Freedom Party primary, and the Republicans have not bothered to operate a primary in a district dominated by progressive-liberal interests (typical for what you would expect from a district made up of the heart of Oakland, the 16th District is 30 percent African-American, 27 percent white, 21 percent Latino, 19 percent Asian, and 62 percent registered Democrat). 

Piedmont School Board and Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board Commissioner Ronnie Gail Caplane and Alameda City Councilmember Tony Daysog are running in the Democratic primary, but their campaigns have been overshadowed by the two heavyweights in the race, Oakland City Attorney John Russo and Sandre Swanson, Chief of Staff for Congressmember Barbara Lee. 

Both Russo and Swanson have considerable experience in progressive and liberal politics in the area, and the race between them is expected to be close. You must live within the 16th State Assembly District to vote in this race. 

 

Superior Court Judge, Alameda County, Seat 21 

Almost always the most overlooked in local elections is the elected office of Superior Court Judge, even though such judges may have considerable power over individual lives. 

Judge elections tend to be an insider’s game within the legal community, and little campaigning is done with the general public. Since a requirement for this position is ten years of law practice in California or service as a judge of a court of record, it is not surprising that the six candidates for this open judge’s seat are practicing attorneys. 

Running are deputy Alameda County Counsel Sandy Bean, Alameda County Deputy District Attorney Mike Nisperos, Jr., AC Transit Director Dennis Hayashi, civil law attorney and former Deputy District Attorney Kathy Mount, and attorneys Frederick Remer and Philip Knudsen. 

Bean, Nisperos, Hayashi, and Mount all have background information listed on the League of Women Voters Smart Voter website (www.smartvoter.org.) All Alameda County voters are eligible to vote in this race. 

 

Alameda County Board of Supervisors District 3 

Alice Lai-Bitker is running for re-election in a crowded race to represent a Board of Supervisors district that includes the Fruitvale, San Antonio, and Chinatown portions of Oakland as well as the cities of Alameda, San Leandro, and San Lorenzo. 

Lai-Bitker was appointed to the board in 2000 to succeed Wilma Chan, and then elected to a full four-year term in 2002. Chan, who is being termed out of her 16th Assembly seat, briefly considered running against Lai-Bitker for her old District 3 Supervisor’s seat while waiting for the District 9 State Senate seat to open up when Don Perata runs out of terms, but then decided against it. 

Opposing Lai-Bitker is San Leandro Mayor Sheila Young, Alameda business analyst Jim Price, San Leandro City Councilmember Glenda Nardine, and multiple candidate Lou Filipovich (Filipovich is simultaneously running for mayor of San Leandro and the Republican nomination for the District 10 State Senate seat; he also ran for the 18th Assembly in 2004). 

You must live within the 3rd County Supervisorial District to vote in this race. 

 

Alameda County Superintendent of Schools 

The website of the Alameda County Office of Education lists the duties of the county superintendent as “chief administrator of the Alameda County Office of Education (ACOE) whose primary mission is to promote teaching and learning, provide fiscal oversight to all county K-12 public schools, and to educate at-risk students not served by districts.” 

It is the fiscal oversight function that makes this seemingly-obscure position one of the most powerful education posts in the county—because of that function, the county superintendent has had a role in state intervention in the Berkeley Unified School District through the Fiscal Crisis Management Team (FCMAT) as well as a the state takeover of both the Oakland and the Emeryville school districts. 

Incumbent Sheila Jordan is running for her third term as Alameda County Superintendent of Schools. She is being opposed by current Newark School Superintendent John Bernard. All Alameda County residents are eligible to vote in this election. 

 

Oakland Unified School District Director District 6 

Since the 2003 takeover of the Oakland Unified School District by the state, the Oakland school board has functioned only as an advisory body to the state-appointed administrator, Randolph Ward. 

Without any policy-making power, the board still serves as a way to focus citizen opinion on the operation of the Oakland public schools, and when and if local control of the school system is returned to Oakland citizens, the board will resume a powerful place in district activities. 

In addition, the school board is often a steppingstone to higher office (Jean Quan left her Oakland school board seat to win her present position on Oakland City Council, for example). 

With incumbent Dan Siegel choosing not to run for re-election, this race pits two educators against each other: Wandra J. Boyd (who ran unsuccessfully against Gay Cobb for the Alameda County Board of Education in 2004) and Chris Dobbins for the East Oakland area district. Neither Boyd nor Dobbins have served in elective office before. 

Only 6th Oakland School District residents are eligible to vote.  

 

Oakland Auditor 

The Oakland City Charter reads that, among other things, the city auditor “shall have the power and it shall be his or her duty to audit the books, accounts, money and securities of all departments and agencies of the city.” 

Just as with the office of the Alameda County school superintendent, the Oakland city auditor’s post can be a powerful political position when it turns its fiscal spotlight on various aspects of city government. 

Two-term incumbent auditor Roland E. Smith has significant opposition including a member of his own staff, Deputy City Auditor Michael J. Kilian. Also challenging are East Bay Conservation Corps C.E.O. and Director of Administration Courtney Ruby and Port of Oakland Internal Auditor Stewart Bolinger..


Acting Registrar of Voters Announces Her Departure

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Friday May 05, 2006

In the wake of the sudden announcement by the acting Alameda County Registrar of Voters to take herself out of the running for the permanent position, at least one local voting activist said it is an opportune time for the county to rethink its position on the purchase of electronic voting machines. 

Alameda County has been seeking a permanent registrar since Brad Clark left the position last year. 

Elaine Ginnold, an 18-year department veteran and acting registrar, had been considered the front-runner for the position, but this week she took herself out of the running, announcing that she was leaving May 12 to take the position of Registrar of Voters for Marin County. 

While preparations appear to be set for the June 6 primary elections, Ginnold’s departure leaves uncertainty about the November general election. 

Last March, the county Board of Supervisors narrowly approved going forward with negotiations with two companies—Diebold Election Systems and Sequoia Voting Systems—for the possible purchase of optical scanners and one to two electronic voting machines for each of the county’s 1,000 polling places. 

In order for those voting machines to be in place in time for the November elections, the registrar of voters office had expected to make recommendations on a contract to supervisors on May 23, with supervisors’ final approval on May 30 and a signed contract by June 1. 

But according to Voting Rights Task Force Chair Judy Bertelsen, who argued against purchase of the electronic scanning machines when the matter came before county supervisors last March, the supervisors should now put those purchases on hold until the permanent registrar is hired. 

“It seems especially foolish to continue to move forward under these circumstances,” Betelsen said. “Elaine had great faith in Diebold, and was committed to making it work. She was the company’s main cheerleader, and the supervisors were allowing her to take the lead in setting up the new system. That’s not atypical for elected bodies. They don’t want to micromanage. They depend on the expertise of staff. But with Elaine soon to be gone, it’s an opportunity for the county to sever its relationship with Diebold and move forward. It’s a chance for us to take a new look at the question of where we should be going with our election system.” 

County supervisors were in a planning meeting all day Thursday and unavailable for comment. 

When the Diebold-Sequoia contract negotiation issue came before county supervisors last March, Ginnold had argued that under the federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA), a failure to purchase a permanent voting system before the beginning of 2007 might severely limit the type of system the county could purchase in the future. Voting activists are expected to dispute that contention, and it should be a major issue at the next supervisors meeting. 

In June, the county will be conducting what they called a “blended system” election, with paper balloting at the precincts. The ballots will be counted by a small number of electronic scanners at a central election headquarters in downtown Oakland. The county already owns those scanners. 

Under HAVA, voting precincts must provide a way for disabled voters to cast ballots without intervention by individual assistance. Alameda County plans to meet the HAVA requirements in June by borrowing electronic touchscreen voting machines from another county, possibly San Diego. 

In November, those electronic touchscreen screens will not be available from San Diego County, and purchase of permanent machines to satisfy the HAVA disabled-voter requirements were part of the proposed contract scheduled to go before supervisors late this month. 

In addition, Ginnold had proposed purchasing individual electronic ballot scanning devices for each of the county’s precincts. 

While supervisors voted last March to go ahead with contract negotiations based on Ginnold’s proposal, they said they had not made a final decision on whether or not they would adopt her vote-counting plans for November and beyond, and agreed to the contract negotiations in order to keep the process moving. 

Supervisor Alice Lai-Bitker said at the March meeting that she voted for the contract negotiations because they were “not binding us to the purchase,” adding that “killing this resolution today would mean that the Registrar of Voters could not move forward with providing options.” 

Meanwhile, the county is currently conducting a nationwide search for a permanent registrar of voters. 

Guy Ashley, a management analyst in the county Auditor Controller’s office who is on temporary assignment with the Registrar of Voters office for the June primary, said that while several applications have already been received, the search for the new registar has been put on the backburner while county staff focused on the primary election. 

“We’ll be buckling down afterwards to try to hire someone,” Ashley said. “We’re hoping to have someone permanent in place for the November elections, but I don’t know how feasible that is.” 

According to Bertelsen, that is why the county should wait on the purchase of the new voting machines. 

In addition, she said that purchase should wait until after the November election, when a new Secretary of State is chosen, and there is more certainty over the status of certification of the currently available systems. 

“A major choice of permanent equipment should not be made until the permanent registrar is in place,” she said. “We may find someone who is an excellent candidate, but if we’ve tied our hands with the purchase of technology that person believes is garbage, they might even decide not to come. Instead, this is a real opportunity to integrate the search for a new registrar of voters with a search for new voting technology.” 

 


A Day of Immigrant Action

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Tuesday May 02, 2006

The conch shells resounding and the flags raised in unison on the Sproul Hall steps at noon Monday signaled a day of action for a new civil rights movement. 

Students, workers, and children from UC Berkeley and elsewhere joined the May 1 national boycott to support immigrant rights. 

As they chanted, “We didn’t cross the borders, the borders crossed us,” they were joined by hundred of thousands of protesters across the nation who all demanded justice from racial discrimination, exploitation, and unfair i mmigration policies. 

Members of the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights from Oakland, who called upon members of Congress and the administration to “stop masquerading immigration ‘reform’ proposals such as HR 4437 and the compromise bills p resented in the Senate as immigration reform,” came to the rally. 

After the rally on campus, hundreds of participants marched through the streets of downtown Berkeley. 

Erica Sanchez, a UC student and child of immigrants, chanted, “Se ve, se sient e, el pueblo esta presente,” translated as, “You see it, you feel it, the people are here.” 

“Our economy is built on slave labor. We have to stop the abuse of immigrant workers,” she said.  

Hilda Suarez, who had not gone to work at the Gilman Grill that day came with her nephew, Roger Magdaleno, whose T-shirt read: “If I am illegal, so is the terminator.” 

“I was able to miss work and come here today because my owners supported us. They have closed down the grill for a day. I think it is time for us to stand up. This is history in the making and we will not be defeated,” Suarez said. 

Civil rights activist Munigya, who spoke on behalf of the African People’s Revolution Party, assured those present that the “conscious progressive Revolutionary African Na tion stands with the immigration rights movement.” 

“This country was formed out of the illegality of people coming across borders that did not belong to them,” Munigya said. “The African people are the second illegal immigrants to come to the United Stat es by virtue of being stolen property. The sons of daughters of Colombus were not afraid, and nor shall we be.” 

UC student Annabele Paez spoke on behalf of the Coalition of Undocumented Students. 

“Justice has been denied to thousands of undocumented students who want to pursue their college education even after they were brought into this country by their parents at an early age with or without their consent,” she said. “The reality is that upon graduation these students face the fact that they cannot receive federal or state financial aid, they cannot work legally or obtain a drivers license.” 

Almost 40 percent of all undocumented students live in California, according to event organizers. Paez stressed the importance of supporting the Dream Act whic h paves the way for legal status and eventual citizenship for immigrant youth. Under the Dream Act, immigrant students who are long-term residents of this country can graduate from high school, pursue their education and on completion of two years in coll ege or the military become eligible to apply for legal residency. 

Ronald T. Takaki, a professor of ethnic studies at UC Berkeley, told those present that the struggle of the one million undocumented Asian immigrants was a struggle for all. “And in the sa me way, your struggle is also our struggle,” he said. 

Takaki added that the immigration reforms needs to go to the source of the problem. “Most importantly NAFTA needs to be reformed,” he said. “Under NAFTA 1.5 million Mexican farmers were driven into ba nkruptcy.” 

Mayoral candidate Zachary Runningwolf was also present at the rally to show his support. 

“The demonstrators who are here today are not immigrants, they are indigenous people,” he told The Planet.  

Prof. Carlos Munoz, Jr. from UC Berkeley’s D epartment of Ethnic Studies, had flown in for the rally after speaking on immigration rights in New York that morning. 

“It was incredible,” he said. “There were more than 500,000 demonstrators on Broadway supporting the end of war and immigrant rights. I t feels great to be part of something this big.” 

Berkeley Police Officer Ed Galvan said the police reported no problem’s during the May Day march, which started from the UC Berkeley campus, proceeded west on Bancroft Way, then turned north on Shattuck Av enue before heading west again on University Avenue. 

“They walked along University to Sixth Street, where we had set up a line,” Galvan said. “They sat down for ten to fifteen minutes and heard from a couple of speakers before they dispersed.” 

Galvan sa id about half the marchers went on to the BART station, where they boarded trains for San Francisco. 

The California Highway Patrol kept traffic from entering the city from Interstate 80 at the University interchange, and cars headed toward the freeway al ong University were diverted north at Sixth Street to Gilman. 

Irene Leja, who had boycotted her cleaning jobs that day, brought her daughter Briana to the Sproul Plaza rally and march.  

“We don’t have any papers,” Leja said. “But we are not doing any harm either. We pay taxes, then why shouldn’t we get benefits? Don’t our children deserve a good life too.”””


Public Mixed Over Trader Joe’s Project

By Richard Brenneman
Tuesday May 02, 2006

A parade of speakers marched to the podium at Thursday’s Zoning Adjustments Board, 22 praising a proposed development, and a dozen speaking in opposition. 

The board took testimony during a session in which they were to advise developers about the height and mass of the planned five-story project at the northwest corner of the University Avenue/Martin Luther King Jr. Way intersection. 

But rather that the building itself, many of the speakers reserved most of their adulation for the proposed ground floor tenant. 

“A Trader Joe’s in a handsome building on University Avenue would greatly enhance our community,” said Calvin Ng, a Bonita Avenue resident. 

“I totally support having a Trader Joe’s nearby,” said West Berkeley resident Verna Lim. “My roommate is sick of shopping at liquor stores.” 

The German-owned supermarket chain, known for its cult-like following, currently has stores in Emeryville and El Cerrito where many of the speakers said they currently shop. 

“We should start calling this the Trader Joe’s building,” ZAB member Bob Allen declared later in the meeting. 

Trader Joe’s has signed a lease for ground floor space in the 1885 University Ave. project, contingent on an opening date by 2009, said developer Chris Hudson, who was accompanied by his partner, Evan McDonald. 

The pair is best known in Berkeley for the projects they built for developer Patrick Kennedy, including the Gaia Building, a structure much on ZAB’s agenda of late. 

The pair have split from Kennedy, and as part of the separation apparently retained the 1885 University Ave. project, which had been initially proposed under the umbrella of Kennedy’s Panoramic Interests. 

Hudson opened the discussion with the declaration that the project had many supporters in the city, and launched into a presentation that focused initially on infill development—building on vacant or “underutilized” sites in urban communities—and the need for more such development in Berkeley. 

Contending that the project, which had been redesigned with fewer (156 versus 186) and larger units than a version submitted earlier, Hudson said they addressed concerns of residents along Berkeley Way by removing four units along edge of the property on that street. 

Opponents focused on both the building itself, which would still tower over their homes, and on the traffic impacts that would come from the Trader Joe’s parking lot, which features a single entrance and exit, accessible only from their residential street. 

Attorney Rena Rickles, whose usual clients are developers, spoke for Steve Wollmer and Residents for a Liveable Berkeley Way. 

“This is not about Trader Joe’s,” Rickles said. “It’s about the design that goes around Trader Joe’s.” 

Noting that none of the pro-project speakers lived on Berkeley Way, Rickles said, “If you designed a building to have the worst impacts on the people living nearby, you couldn’t have done a better job.” 

And design issues also prompted many of the questions raised by ZAB members. 

Architect Bob Allen, considered one of the board members most favorably disposed to new projects, raised some of the harshest questions about “fatal flaws in this building that we need to address,” adding, “I don’t think there’s anything in state law 

that says we have to approve inhumane or substandard units.” 

Allen said “about 18 percent of the apartments look out at a blank wall 10 feet away” directly into the facing windows of other apartments across a 16-foot 

courtyard. “That’s closer than I am to the two applicants.” 

“This is absolutely unacceptable housing,” he said. 

“Living conditions are terribly important,” said Jesse Anthony, who often votes with Allen and is himself head of the South Berkeley Neighborhood Development Council, a non-profit group planning an even larger development at the Ashby BART station. 

Commenting on the current design, Anthony said, “They are tearing those buildings down back east, thank God. People know better now.” 

“A lot of those units are going to be pretty miserable units,” agreed member Dave Blake.  

Sara Shumer, the board’s newest member, shared their concern about the views, noting that more units could be in the same fix should hoped-for development occur on the western edge of the block along University. 

Several members, including Chair Chris Tiedemann, said they favored shifting the mass of the building away from the residential street and more onto 

University. “The more you can shift away from Berkeley Way the better,” she said. 

Rick Judd, a board member who is also a land use attorney, said he wouldn’t mind seeing seven stories on University Avenue. But he did resent that the developers kept telling the board that if they didn’t like the new plans, they could always go back and build the 183-unit project previously proposed, one Allen had said reminded him of a prison. 

“I feel this is set up to back me into a corner by holding the 183-unit project over my head like a club,” Judd said, adding later, “I need to know what levels of discretion we really have.” 

Member Raudell Wilson seemed the most favorably disposed to the project, saying, “We all look forward to going to design review. They are bringing us affordable housing, and we get retail downtown.” 

Still, Wilson said, he’d like to see the height along Berkeley Way reduced. 

Blake said four floors was the most he’d accept along Berkeley Way. 

Member Dean Metzger also called for a height reduction along Berkeley Way, and said he’d be willing to consider six stories along University. 

Hudson said adding stories above five floors raised problems, because more expensive building techniques were required. 

Allen said he didn’t like Trader Joe’s there either. “I would love a Trader Joe’s downtown, but this is the wrong location.” 

He raised another question, based on Hudson McDonald’s most famous Berkeley collaboration. 

“What if Trader Joe’s pulls a Gaia on us?,” Allen said, referring to the controversial building where the proposed major tenant—the Gaia Bookstore—never occupied the ground floor and mezzanine “cultural” space. 

“We’re still talking about the Gaia Building when Gaia is long gone,” said Blake. The store went out of business before the building was finished. 

Just where ZAB stands remains an issue. While Principal Planner and ZAB Secretary Debra Sanderson said the developers are entitled to the 183-unit project if the board fails to agree on their new plan, Allen said he wasn’t so sure. 

 

Gaia report  

The Gaia Building, which has been the subject of much discussion at ZAB meetings, was also on Tuesday’s agenda in the form of a report from Sanderson on last Tuesday City Council meeting. 

Just what the council did or did not do remains a question, as does ZAB’s own role in overseeing the use of the building’s first two floors, the so-called cultural space that enabled Patrick Kennedy and Hudson McDonald to build a project with two more floors of apartments than city zoning would otherwise allow. 

“The council adopted a motion that the Carol Barrett letter was valid,” Sanderson said, referring to a letter written by Anna de Leon and countersigned by Barrett, the city’s then-Planning Director, on June 6, 2003. 

That letter included a section spelling out the proposed uses of the cultural space, declaring: “In the performance (theater) area, we will program performance use on 30 percent of the days of each month on average. In the remainder of the ground floor and mezzanine, we will program arts related activities fifteen days per month on average.” 

Blake said he was mystified by the council’s action. “The problem wasn’t the Barrett letter,” he said. “The problem was (Deputy Planning Director) Wendy Cosin’s interpretation.” 

“And the council said that was acceptable,” Sanderson said. 

Under Cosin’s interpretation, the performance space can apparently be used for for-profit catering and other events for 70 percent of the time. 

Another remaining question is whether or not the board still had a say in issuing a modified use permit for alterations that had taken place or were called for in the space. 

“I am not clear about that,” said Sanderson. 

 

Retroactive OK 

Rejecting the request of neighbors and Landmarks Preservation Commissioner Carrie Olson, ZAB members vote to given their retroactive sanction to the demolition of the Victorian cottage at 2194 Sixth St. 

Attorney John Gutierrez represented owner Gary Feiner, whose plans to convert two adjacent Victorians into duplexes stirred neighbors to create the Ocean View Sisterna Historic District, which the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) had designated in 2004. 

“I come with a heavy heart,” said Olson, presenting the LPC’s request that the board withhold action until the landmarks commission could consider the issue at their upcoming meeting this Thursday. 

“This is a new and unknown territory for us, a demolition,” she said, noting that demolitions were carried on the books as a misdemeanor criminal offense. 

But Rempel and Gutierrez said the demolition was inadvertent, the action of an overzealous contractor who had acted to protect the safety of his work from the perils of an old roof. 

Neighbor Jano Bogg also begged the board to delay acting, but members seemed to accept the developer’s explanations and concurred with Jesse Anthony, who said, “I’m not interested in punishment at this point.” 

Members admonished Rempel to make sure that all of the stripped architectural detail was replaced in kind, and to repair windows which had been installed contrary to the approved plans. 

The demolition was approved by a unanimous vote. 

 

Other action  

The board approved installation of a new carbon absorption system at Pacific Steel Casting at 1333 Second St., mandated as part of the settlement agreement designed to resolve the complaints of neighbors over bad odors emitted by the plant. 

The board also approved a second story addition to a home at 1309 Carleton St. over the objections of two neighbors..


Seeking a New Look For Downtown BART

By Suzanne La Barre
Tuesday May 02, 2006

Plans to redesign the downtown BART station drew a range of reactions at an open house presentation over the weekend. 

Consultants from Community Design and Architecture presented four sketches of design options for a reconfigured downtown transit area Saturday, under the stewardship of the city of Berkeley, AC Transit and BART. 

The schemes, paid for with a $75,000 grant from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and $15,000 of city money, were outlined on poster board in the meeting room of the Berkeley Public Library. Public comment was invited. 

The primary goal of the study was to float ideas for improving downtown’s transportation accessibility while maintaining commercial and cultural development. 

“It’s clear people aren’t happy with what’s there today and want that redesigned,” said Phil Erickson, of Community Design and Architecture. 

Options range from implementing a few major changes to reconfiguring the streetscape to allot for a centralized “historical” transit hub. They are as follows: 

• Option 1 would maintain the existing street layout. The most significant change would be to design enhancements to the BART rotunda at Shattuck Avenue and Center Street, as well as the possible addition of free-standing kiosks. 

• Option 2 would remove the Shattuck couplet—the division of Shattuck into one-way lanes flanking a commercial island north of Center—and reconfigure traffic to travel along two lanes in each direction. An open space on the east side of Shattuck at Center would also be included. The rotunda would be revamped. 

• Option 3 would remove the rotunda and place the main BART entrance on the east side of Shattuck at Center. Traffic along the Shattuck couplet would be redirected along four lanes on Shattuck west and two lanes on Shattuck east.  

• Option 4, referred to as the historical model, would create a centralized transit plaza for BART and buses in the heart of downtown. The BART rotunda would be eliminated, as would through traffic on Center at Shattuck. The traffic configuration on Shattuck would remain as is.  

All four plans include designated bus lanes for Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), the accelerated AC Transit line that earned a fair amount of criticism Saturday in the form of brightly colored post-it notes affixed to the designs: “Say no to BRT,” “There should be no bus-only lanes and no cooperation with AC Transit’s BRT scheme,” and “Really, really dumb. Don’t they notice that the monster buses are always empty?” 

East Bay BRT would run from San Leandro through Oakland to Berkeley, ending north of Center in downtown Berkeley. The project is still in an early phase, as an environmental impact report initially due out last fall has yet to be released. Tentative plans are now scheduled for summer. 

Nonetheless, some residents are ramping up their battle against a transit line they fear will be underutilized and harmful to city traffic flow.  

Principal Transportation Planner for the City of Berkeley Matt Nichols emphasized that design options must take BRT into account, regardless of whether it’s implemented. Besides, he said, the redesign aims to improve downtown transportation more generally.  

“It makes transit work better whether there’s Bus Rapid Transit or not,” he said.  

Public opinion on the four options varied from general concerns about public restrooms, preservation of trees and bicycle thoroughfares to design-specific comments, like the effects of closing Center to through traffic and how pedestrians would fare if Shattuck west became two-way. 

Cost estimates for the project are yet undetermined, though consultants say the more drastic options (three and four) would be pricey. Those options also seemed to garner greater public support than the other two. 

Transportation Commissioner Rob Wrenn advocated for a fifth option: running BRT north on Shattuck up to University Avenue, and south on Oxford Street, and closing that side of Shattuck to car traffic. That would make the street more pedestrian-friendly and remove the daunting task of fitting two designated bus lanes onto an already crowded artery, he said. The idea was floated by AC Transit, but was not included as a preliminary design option.  

The next step is to organize public comments then to whittle down the options, Erickson said.


Local Impact of Preschool Initiative Is Unclear

By Suzanne La Barre
Tuesday May 02, 2006

An initiative to grant preschool to all California 4-year-olds is on the ballot this June, but how it would operate locally, if approved, remains unclear. 

Proposition 82, the Preschool for All initiative spearheaded by actor and director Rob Reiner, would provide $2.4 billion a year for universal preschool, extending early childhood education to about 70 to 80 percent of California’s children over the next decade. About 35 percent of the state’s children do not attend any preschool.  

The measure would levy a 1.7 percent tax on individuals earning more than $400,000 and couples who make more than $800,000. Parents would have the option to select where they want their child to attend, whether a public, private or not-for-profit institution. Non-public programs could opt into the program but would not be required to do so. 

Teachers would be required to hold college degrees, and programs would be held to statewide academic standards to prepare students for elementary school. Administration and management would fall to county school districts. 

The proposition earned the backing of the Berkeley City Council last Tuesday, with Councilmember Laurie Capitelli abstaining.  

Berkeley is home to early childhood programs of all stripes, from development centers through the Berkeley Unified School District (BUSD) to private Montessori schools, foreign language programs and nonprofits.  

Currently, low-income students have access to fully or partially subsidized public preschool. Statewide, about 52 percent of low-income 4-year-olds attend preschool. BUSD offers early education to about 340 students. 

At the other end of the spectrum are the private and nonprofit programs, which parents generally finance out-of-pocket. An institution like The Model School on Prince Street can range anywhere from $667 to $946 a month, depending on hours of care received. 

Prop. 82 supporters say the initiative would benefit low- and middle-income families, who may not qualify for Head Start and other state-sponsored programs but can’t afford to send their children to pricey private schools. 

“The poor have access to the subsidized programs and the well-to-do can pay tuition,” said Rebecca Wheat, former principal of early childhood development for BUSD. “But many people in the middle and the lower middle can’t pay the $1,000 a month tuition and they do not qualify for state programs.” 

Wheat, who now teaches childhood development at San Francisco State and has penned multiple books on education, supports the proposition. 

“When we get this money, hopefully it will make a big difference in a lot of lives,” she said. 

She has reservations, though. Among them: Will standardizing curriculum tarnish program variety and lead to the type of testcentric, cookie-cutter education that features prominently in California’s K-12 schools? 

Alameda County Office of Education Superintendent Sheila Jordan says “no.” The office, which would manage Berkeley’s participating Preschool for All sites, would ensure program diversity, she said. 

“We’re not going to do a one-size fits all,” Jordan said. “There will be some standardized programs, but we want to be able to create space for the various cultures to develop programs that are culturally consonant.” 

She could not offer specifics beyond that, however.  

Another variable is the distribution of funding. A report released by the Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE) institute suggests that by charging county education offices with program administration, Proposition 82 would favor public school districts over private and nonprofit institutions.  

Some non-public institutions reached by the Daily Planet say they won’t opt into the program anyway. Many have waiting lists and fare well without state money. Anthony Wang, owner of Berkeley Chinese School and Wonderland Preschool, is unclear as to how the ballot measure would affect those schools. 

“The area we’re serving, there’s not too many people who are low-income,” he said. “I’m not sure if we’d be affected by it.” 

But Daisy Mante, director of The Model School, feels certain the initiative would exact a toll on the state’s preschool centers.  

Her school offers childcare up to 40 hours a week, 240 days a year. The Preschool for All Initiative would fund the equivalent of one half-day, 180 days a year, which won’t meet the needs of some families, she said. 

She further questions the requirement for teachers to earn bachelor’s degrees. Teachers at The Model School, who earn between $12 and $14 an hour, are not required to hold degrees. 

“The ones who have them are not always the best teachers, and are certainly not the most loving and caring with students,” she said. Mante founded The Model School, a Montessori-based program, in 1987. 

Research does not indicate a link between a bachelor degree-level education and early childhood education, the PACE report said. 

Mante said she would not apply to receive state money through Preschool for All, but can envision a scenario where parents pressure centers to incorporate the program. 

The Berkeley-Richmond Jewish Community Center is among the schools that would not take part in the program, said assistant teacher Maia Fajerman, but she supports the measure nonetheless. 

She said, “Any money that supports early education is good.””


Student Achievement at Small Schools Is Mixed

By Suzanne La Barre
Tuesday May 02, 2006

Academic performance at Berkeley High School’s first two small schools is a mixed bag, new data show. 

Communication Arts and Sciences (CAS) and Community Partnerships Academy (CPA), both of which are small schools within the larger Berkeley High School, show higher attendance rates among ninth-graders and strong parental involvement, but trends outlining academic achievement in the 2004-2005 school year are less clear-cut. 

Inconclusive results are fairly typical with new small schools, said Victor Cary, program director for the Bay Area Coalition of Equitable Schools (BAYCES), the nonprofit that helped launch small schools in the Berkeley Unified School District (BUSD) with $1.7 million in startup funds. 

“You can’t expect to see wholesale changes so soon,” he said. 

CAS, BUSD’s first small school, opened in 2003. The institution educates about 300 students and focuses on media literacy and communication skills. CPA, which has about 250 students, formed the following year with an emphasis on community leadership development. Both were programs at Berkeley High School before earning small school status. 

Limited as the data is, findings from the 2004-2005 school year are as follows: 

On average, students at CPA, of whom more than 60 percent are African-American, earned lower GPAs than students at either CAS or the comprehensive high school. CPA also exhibited higher rates of students who are failing (receiving at least one D or F). 

However, African-American and Latino students at both small schools were outperforming their peers at the larger school. The average GPA for African-American students was 2.34 at CPA and 2.37 at CAS, compared with 2.05 at Berkeley High School. 

Scores on standardized tests displayed a range of achievement. A smaller percentage of CPA students were labeled “advanced” or “proficient”—the highest categories of achievements—following administration of the California Standards Test. At both small schools, the same percentage of ninth-grade African-American students performed at advanced or proficient levels (8 percent), compared with 19 percent at the larger school.  

Analysts prefer to look at ninth-grade statistics because 2004-2005 was the first time BUSD used an equity-seeking lottery system to people the small schools. Additionally, ninth-graders are the best indicators of the program’s effectiveness, having never attended another high school, said Berkeley High School Vice Principal Matt Huxley, who presented the data to the Berkeley Board of Education April 19. 

CPA students on a whole exhibited a lower passing rate on the high school exit exam, but when broken down by ethnicity, African-American students at both small schools outperformed their peers at the larger high school by about 30 percentage points. 

A 1996 study conducted by Kathleen Cotton for the Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory found that achievement in small schools, especially for poor and minority students, is equal or greater than in larger schools. Some of the data for Berkeley schools appear to support that conclusion. 

Huxley, who also serves as the CAS administrator, urges general caution when examining Berkeley’s data, because as a cross-sectional study (as opposed to a longitudinal study), it paints an incomplete portrait of school progress. In four years, analysts should have a better idea of the efficacy of Berkeley’s small schools on academics and closing the achievement gap, Huxley said.  

One consistent finding from the data report was that both small schools have higher rates of attendance. Huxley chalks it up to the intimate environment intrinsic to smaller schools.  

“Teachers know their students better and parents are more involved, so you just notice when people aren’t there,” he said.  

An additional finding, based on a survey distributed to parents, was that small school parents feel connected to their child’s education. More than 90 percent of CPA parents agreed the school makes a concerted effort to communicate to them what students need to earn a high school diploma and get into college. About four-fifths who responded said they perceive opportunities to get involved at the school; and all said they receive information about parent council and leadership meetings.  

CAS parents also felt strong ties to the school, compared with Berkeley High School, where only 29 percent of those responding said the school effectively gets parents involved in leadership student activities and academics. 

The latter two findings—high attendance and parent involvement—lay a firm groundwork for improved student performance, Huxley said. 

“It’s very promising,” he said. “But it takes time to create these strong, small schools. We have to be patient.” 

Two small schools, the Arts and Humanities Academy, and the School of Social Justice and Ecology, opened this year, and a fifth school, emphasizing technology or engineering, is in the works, Huxley said. 

 


County Gets Late Start On Measure A Oversight

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Tuesday May 02, 2006

Two years after voters gave Alameda County the authority to impose a half-cent sales tax to augment medical and health care spending, the county is just beginning the process of monitoring how a major percentage of Measure A money has been spent. 

Six months into the monitoring process, the kinks are still being worked out. 

“We’re way past the deadline for our review,” Measure A Oversight Committee Chair Dr. Larry Platt said following a committee meeting in San Leandro last weekend. “This should have been done two years ago.” 

With the Oversight Committee just beginning review of the 2004-05 expenditures, Platt said “we hope to finish our reviews by August so that we can get a report out to the supervisors.” 

He said that committee review of 2005-06 Measure A expenditures for the fiscal year ending in July would begin immediately afterwards. 

Measure A won the support of 71.1 percent of Alameda County voters in March of 2004. Seventy-five percent of the sales tax money was earmarked for the beleaguered Alameda County Medical Center, the county’s public hospital and clinic system that has fallen on rough financial times in recent years. 

The remaining 25 percent was to be parceled out by County Supervisors to community-based health care providers and hospitals providing services to low-income citizens. 

Since then, Measure A sales tax revenues have been running above budgeted expectations, according to reports from the Chief Financial Officer of the Alameda County Medical Center.  

With collections starting in September of 2004, the county received $95.8 million in Measure A monies in fiscal year 2004-05, with $71.6 million going to the medical center and $24 million going to the remaining health care agencies. 

As of the first eight months of fiscal year 2005-06, the county received another $74.2 million in Measure A funds, with $55.6 million going to the medical center and $18.7 million to the health care agencies.  

According to Alameda County Health Services Agency Director David Kears, who is supervising the health care agency portion of Measure A funding, organizations began receiving funds at the beginning of the 2004-05 fiscal year. 

Among the agencies receiving that money were the Alameda Health Consortium on behalf of eight health care clinics throughout the county and the Bay Area Consortium for Quality Health Care. In December of 2004, the Berkeley Unified School District received $450,000 in Measure A funding for three nurses to be placed in Berkeley public schools. 

According to Susan Schroeder, chair of the health committee of the Alameda County Council of the League of Women Voters, “The wording in Measure A said that the county would appoint an oversight committee. When a year and a half had passed [in October of last year] and that committee had not been appointed, Nancy Bickel [chair of the LWV Alameda County Council] wrote to Alameda County Supervisor President Keith Carson expressing our concerns about the lack of an oversight committee.” 

Schroeder said that the creation of the oversight committee came “fairly soon after that.” 

A Piedmont LWV online newsletter says that Health Care Services Agency Director Kears wrote Bickel in late October, explaining the delays in appointing the committee and saying that the nomination process for the oversight committee would begin Nov. 1, 2005.  

Supervisors eventually appointed an eighteen-member oversight committee, five representing each supervisorial district, two apiece representing the League of Women Voters, the Service Employees International Union, and the City Managers Association, and one member apiece representing the Alameda County Taxpayers’ Association, the Alameda County Mental Health Advisory Board, the East Bay Hospital Council staff, the Alameda Contra Costa Medical Association, the City of Berkeley, and the Alameda Health Consortium. 

Some committee members believe that the oversight committee should provide funding recommendations to supervisors as well as review expenditures by agencies under the measure. But Health Services Agency Director Kears said in a telephone interview that both the language of Measure A and the ordinance which followed its passage restrict the committee to oversight only. 

“The committee’s function is to determine if the agencies have spent the money consistent with the broad guidelines set forth in Measure A, as well as actually spent it on the items that were in their proposal,” Kears said. “Their purpose is to make sure the money is well-audited and that organizations don’t keep the money and spend it for something else.” 

Kears added that because “the committee’s role did not start until after the first year of funding,” the oversight process was being carried out on a timely basis. He blamed any delays on setting up the committee on the organizations who nominated representatives. 

“Some of them took three to four months to give us the names after we made the initial contact,” Kears said. 

Once the committee began meeting last December, confusion immediately surfaced over the issue of how committee members would handle potential conflicts of interest, considering that some members represented organizations that had already received Measure A funding. 

After listening to a presentation at an early committee meeting from Jason Lauren of the Alameda County Counsel’s office outlining how members would have to recuse themselves when issues concerning their own organization’s funding came up, Alameda Health Consortium Executive Director Ralph Silber resigned from the oversight committee, saying that the conflict was too difficult to avoid. 

But when Lauren gave a second conflict of interest presentation at this weekend’s oversight meeting, Silber, who was there to present his organization’s funding report, pointedly said that Lauren’s current interpretation of the potential conflict was different from his earlier one. 

“I resigned based upon what you told us before,” Silber said, adding that he would not have resigned based upon Lauren’s new interpretation. 

Lauren suggested that Silber contact supervisors to see if his resignation could be rescinded.  

Schroeder of the League of Women Voters said that her organization had discussed the issue of conflict of interest among oversight committee members, but had not taken a position on the issue. “As a general policy, the league believes that all members of such committees should simply represent the public at large, and not specific organizations,” she said. 

Kears said in an telephone interview that some of the committee confusion is taking place “because this is the first year of operation. I am assuming that as the process gets more routine, it will get easier.” 

The next meeting of the oversight committee is scheduled for May 26. In addition to presentations from agencies receiving portions of the 25 percent funding, the committee will hear a presentation on how the Alameda County Medical Center is spending its 75 percent portion of the Measure A funding. 

Following the meeting, however, members were unclear as to how much oversight their committee would have over the ACMC portion of the funding..


Peralta Steps Back from Extending Hand to Compton

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Tuesday May 02, 2006

Recent developments surrounding Compton Community College makes it less likely—but not impossible—that the Peralta Community College District may step in to help bail out the troubled Southern California district. 

Last March, a cautious Peralta Board of Trustees gave Chancellor Elihu Harris limited authority to explore the administrative takeover of the one-college Compton district after Compton lost its accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). 

Compton is appealing that revocation. If the district loses, it would no longer be able to operate the college under its own authority and would have to close the college doors if another district did not take over the administrative duties. 

If it occurred, the Peralta administrative takeover would be financed by the State Community College Chancellor’s office, and not by Peralta. 

At last week’s Peralta trustee meeting, however, Harris told trustees that Peralta would not participate in an Request For Proposals (RFP) process recently initiated by State Community College Chancellor Mark Drummond. 

“It looks like some of the Southern California colleges may enter the RFP process,” Harris said following the meeting. “Because of the logistics of administering a college so far away, it would obviously make more sense for a local college to take over responsibility. But we’re still monitoring the situation, and we will see what happens after the RFP process goes through.” 

Harris said that if other districts do not submit a proposal and Compton loses its appeal, Peralta could still be asked to step in. 

Cheryl Fong, a spokesperson for the strategic assistance team appointed by State Chancellor Drummond following the loss of Compton’s accreditation, said that Drummond had initially put out feelers to several districts contiguous to Compton to “provide some level of assistance” to the Compton district. 

“All of them said they were interested,” Fong said, “but none of them made a commitment. It’s a big responsibility, and all of the districts wanted to wait to see what happened with the appeal process.” 

An initial late April hearing date for the Compton appeal has been put off, and Fong said that the Chancellor’s office has not been notified of a new hearing date. 

She said that Drummond issued the formal request for proposals in response to legislation introduced by Assemblymember Mervyn Dymally (D-Los Angeles). 

She also said that “Peralta’s welcome gesture of goodwill just in saying they would explore assisting Compton may encourage other community college districts to take a closer look at the situation.””


New, Hip Identity Proposed for Berkeley Alternative High

By Suzanne La Barre
Tuesday May 02, 2006

The Berkeley Alternative High School is in for a new model—and a hip new name.  

Berkeley Technology Academy, or B-Tech as it would be called, is the latest proposal for the alternative school, which would rise again as a continuation school focused on technology, entrepreneurial skills and math. The Berkeley Board of Education will consider the program redesign tomorrow. 

The school would host about 150 students whose needs were not met or who would not be successful at Berkeley High School. Students would embark upon one of three routes for graduation: a UC and California State University preparatory program, vocational coursework or independent study. 

B-Tech would work in partnership with Vista/Berkeley City College and other local organizations including the Black Ministerial Alliance, which addresses issues of violence, education and spirituality. 

The model would require additional staff, including a new work experience coordinator, who would earn $83,000, and a second school safety officer, who would make $56,000. The school psychologist would also be employed for more hours. 

B-Tech is the upshot of a class action lawsuit settled last year after plantiffs accused the school district of discrimination by expelling students without a state-mandated hearing. The settlement included a consent decree, which is driving the current plan to institute a continuation school, district spokesperson Mark Coplan said.  

The Berkeley Board of Education meets Wednesday at 7:30 p.m., at 2134 Martin Luther King Jr. Way. For more information, call 644-6206..


Berkeley Schools, Businesses Affected by May 1 Boycott

By Judith Scherr
Tuesday May 02, 2006

A few weeks ago, most felt invisible.  

Today the immigrants—especially those from Latin America—have thrust themselves into the national spotlight. 

On May Day, they stayed home from work and school, marched and rallied and proclaimed that no person should be considered illegal and that immigrants are a vital component of the U.S. economy. 

In Berkeley the “day without immigrants” made an impact at the Berkeley Alternative School, where 28 out of 120 students were in class. School Principal Victor Diaz said he would have joined the protest but came to school because four of the 10 teachers opted to stay away. 

The remaining teachers at the school on Monday planned to talk about the meaning of the day with those present, Diaz said. 

Many parents kept Berkeley High School students out of school, but some students went to school and marched out. One group of about 50 students, led by the nonprofit group Youth Together marched along Martin Luther King Way to the Ashby BART station, where they stood in line while their adult supporters spent a half-hour trying to negotiate free BART passage to the San Francisco rally.  

Denied that and chanting “Rise up, people rise up,” the orderly group opened the gate, walked through and down to the platform, as a dozen BART and Berkeley police looked on without stopping them. 

“I’m here to represent my people,” said Tony, a student wrapped in a Mexican flag who declined to give his last name. Tony spoke to the Daily Planet as he waited in line in the BART Station with the other students. 

“I’ve got to represent what we’re doing here, standing up for our people,” he said. “We’re not here to cause problems. We’re here to work.” 

Ninth-grader Minna Toloni was also waiting to get on BART. 

“I’m here to support immigrant rights,” she said. “It’s racist to try to claim you’re free and kick out some people.” 

While the group of Berkeley High students waited to see if negotiations would work, a group of several dozen Willard Middle School students on a field trip to the San Francisco rally—with BART tickets—went through the turnstile as the high school students cheered. 

Over at Thousand Oaks school, 16 members of the staff and 150 students were not at school. A Berkeley teacher for 18 years, Liz Fuentes teaches fifth grade at Thousand Oaks. In a phone interview Sunday night, Fuentes said she planned to stay away from work and march in San Francisco “to express my horror at the possible passage of [HR] 4437.”  

The House Bill, which passed in December, would criminalize undocumented people and those who help them. It would also cause a wall to be build on the border between Mexico and the United States. 

The bill, which has not been enacted because the Senate has not signed on to it, has helped spark the anger that has fueled recent marches and demonstrations. 

“Attention must be paid to this moment,” Fuentes said. 

“How can they try to treat us like criminals?” asked a friend of Fuentes, who requested that her name not be used. 

In a phone interview Sunday evening, she said her high school-age daughter would be going to the San Francisco march with her. And she wouldn’t be going to her job cleaning houses and her husband wouldn’t be going to his job as a carpenter. 

“It’s time people opened their eyes; we don’t have to be scared of nobody,” she said. “We come here and pay taxes. It’s time for us to speak up. We have to fight.” 

While those who stayed out of work and school Monday were overwhelmingly Latino, other immigrants and supporters joined their ranks. One Frenchman, who asked not to be named for this story, works in a high-tech job in Emeryville and marched in San Francisco rather than go to work. 

The Berkeley resident criticized HR 4437, especially because it criminalizes those who help undocumented people. 

“It reminds me of World War II,” he said. “If you helped a Jew, you’d be a criminal. It’s pretty serious.” 

Meanwhile, at Mi Tierra Foods on San Pablo Avenue, a sign on the door Monday announced that the store would be closed May 1 for “Immigrant Solidarity.”  

In a quick phone survey Sunday evening of five Mexican Restaurants, all planned to close for the day: Juan’s Place, La Familia, Picante, Mario’s and La Fiesta. Godoalsido Mejia who manages Juan’s Place said the 34-year-old West Berkeley restaurant got calls—he did not say from whom—pressuring them to close, which is what made them decide to shut down. Besides, “the employees were going to take off and if you have no help, you have no service,” he said. 

Monday morning, down at Café Trieste at Dwight Way and San Pablo, Luis Flores was fixing lattes as usual. He said he had the option to take off, but others were taking the day off, so he decided to work. “I’m wearing a white shirt to protest,” he said. 

At Café Roma, on Monterey Avenue and Hopkins Street, two people were working, while another had taken off for the day. Caffé Strada at College Avenue and Bancroft Way, however, was closed for the day, as were Venus and La Note restaurants on Shattuck Avenue. And on Fourth and Delaware streets two lone day laborers stood waiting for work, while there are generally many more. 

Berkeley resident Bonito Tovar was at the Ashby Avenue BART station, waiting for colleagues to go to the San Francisco march. Tovar works in construction at the Richmond-based Rutherford & Singlested, which closed for the day. He beamed as he watched the High School students walk though the swinging door, down the escalator and onto the BART train. “They are the future,” he said. 

 

Judith Scherr: Mi Tierra Foods on San Pablo Avenue shut down for the day May 1..


Barbara Lee Speaks Out Against Immigration Bill

By Judith Scherr
Tuesday May 02, 2006

Calling for “real, comprehensive immigration reform,” Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) blasted legislation now stalled in the House of Representatives that would criminalize undocumented immigrants and those who help them. 

Flanked by community leaders of various ethnicities and religions, Lee spoke to the press before going outside to address the thousands of people at a rally that packed the Federal Building courtyard. 

“I don’t support a wall and I don’t think the Minutemen should be driving this debate,” Lee said.  

The fact that H.R. 4437 is stalled in Congress—the House and Senate are far from agreeing on immigration reform—“is a testament to the power of the people,” Lee said, adding that what is needed is a “path to citizenship.”  

The congresswoman roundly condemned the notion that undocumented persons are terrorists and also criticized the notion of guest workers, a program where workers are brought to the United States for a certain period of time and then returned to their home country. Unions condemn this program because they say workers would have few rights under it. 

“I hope [the guest worker program] never sees the light of day,” Lee said. 

Some of the people standing with Lee at the press conference will be part of a committee she is assembling to address the issue of immigration. A few addressed reporters. 

“We in the Jewish community have the experience of tightly-sealed borders,” Rabbi David Cooper of the Kehilla Community Congregation said. “The Torah tells us we were once resident aliens in the land.” 

Addressing the part of H.R.4437 that would criminalize those who help the undocumented, Rev. Kelvin Sauls of Downs Memorial United Methodist Church said the bill puts people in the position of choosing whether to be good citizens or Good Samaritans. Fr. Tony Valdivia, of St. Louis Bertrand Catholic Church, pointed to the road ahead: “Today we march, but we have homework to do—tomorrow we vote.” 

After speaking to the press, Lee joined the rally outside the Federal Building. Marchers, estimated at 50,000 by organizer Yvette Felarca, had walked down International Boulevard to downtown.  

The crowd that heard Lee speak was dotted with American and Mexican flags and signs that read: “Paz, Justicia, Libertad;” “Give all working immigrants amnesty;” “U.S.A. made by immigrants.”  

The ebullient protesters quieted to hear Lee, who was one of a number of speakers. “We are a nation of immigrants,” she said, noting that across the country there were millions of people marching. “I’m proud to march with you,” she said. 

Lee added that all immigrants must be honored: African, Caribbean, Middle Eastern, Asian and Latin American and she thanked the crowd for protesting, for “speaking out, for forcing America to live out its creed of liberty and justice for all.””


Asian Media Report Conflicts Over Economic Boycott

By Carolyn Goossen, New American Media
Tuesday May 02, 2006

The national economic boycott for immigrant rights on May 1 elicited mixed feelings among Asian communities, according to a survey of Asian media. 

Leading up to the boycott, the Korean, Chinese and Vietnamese press had been filled with stories designed to educate Asian employers about the legal rights of Latino workers who may strike on May 1, surveying businesses about whether they will join the boycott, and reporting on Asian American activists urging community members to participate in the May 1 work strike. 

But in some cases the articles have failed to make an impact. 

Some Korean small business owners in San Francisco seemed unaware of the planned boycott. They said the issue concerns mainly Latinos. Employers at a Korean restaurant in San Francisco said they would not allow their employees the time off to join in the boycott. 

“Even when they took time off for their citizenship exam, it affected my business,” one employer complained. 

But the boycott was widely embraced by Korean civic groups in Los Angeles, reports the Korea Times. Members of the Koreatown Immigrant Workers Alliance, National Korean American Service and Education Consortium and the Council of Korean Churches in Southern California urged members not to go to work that day. 

According to Dong Min Cho, director of the L.A. Korean Community Center, “a large majority of garment factory workers in Koreatown are Latino.” He says between 70 and 80 percent of these workers were not expected to work on the day of the boycott. Several Korean groups plan to donate 15,000 bottles of water to protesters on the day of boycott. 

Chinese media have also been reporting extensively on the immigrant marches that have swept through the country since late March. The Chinese-language World Journal, based in Millbrae, published an article on April 19 that dealt with how to treat Latino employees who do not show up for work on May 1, suggesting that employers treat the boycott as they would Election Day, when employees have the right to leave work to vote. 

On April 28 the newspaper also reported on Congresswoman Barbara Lee’s (D-Oakland) attempt to dispel rumors that the Department of Homeland Security is conducting mass roundups of undocumented workers. Lee suggests that it may be individuals with anti-immigrant sentiment who are pretending to be Department of Homeland Security officials, with the intention of scaring illegal immigrants into not participating on May 1, reports the paper. 

While the views of Asian American civil rights groups are often found in the Chinese press, the voices of immigrants themselves have not been as prominent. 

The World Journal and Sing Tao Daily in San Francisco both reported on numerous press conferences sponsored by Asian American civil rights organizations supporting the May 1 boycott, many of which were led by second-generation Chinese Americans. For example, a headline in the April 26 Sing Tao Daily in San Francisco read, “Immigrant Organizations Call on People to Boycott Work, Stores and School on May 1.” The article noted, however, that no Chinese spokespeople parti-cipated in the press conference in front of City Hall. 

Joseph Leung, editor-in-chief of the Sing Tao Daily in San Francisco believes that Chinese immigrant participation in the demonstrations will continue to be low because of geography. “Most of the Asian undocumented immigrants are on the East Coast, not in the Bay Area, so (people here) may be seeing this as a Latino issue, not so related to our community.” 

Cat Chao, Chinese-language radio talk show host for “Rush Hour,” on KAZN-AM 1300 in Los Angeles notes that the initial admiration her Chinese listeners had for the immigrant protests wavered when the focus turned to an economic boycott. “When the Latinos started the protests, the Chinese community really admired what they did. [Now] they want to do an economic boycott, so Chinese listeners believe they sort of hijacked the national conversation about immigration reform.” 

In an editorial commentary in the Vietnamese Nguoi Viet in Orange County, Ky-Phong Tran writes, “Thirty years ago, Vietnamese people came to this country without documents either, looking for the very same things as those out there in the streets: a chance at a stable job, education for their children and opportunity.” 

He continues, “In their struggle, I see my struggle and I cannot turn my back on it.” 

However, Hao Nhien Vu, editor of Nguoi Viet, said that the Vietnamese community was largely unaware of the boycott. “As far as I know, there are not a lot of people who even know about this. There were employers who were surprised when we asked them what they would do if their employees didn’t come in. I don’t see that feeling of connectedness. They see it as between the white guys and the Mexicans. I guess they will feel differently after May 1, when they see many people not showing up at work, they will see that it is their issue too.” 

When asked if he would join the boycott, Vu responded that he didn’t see Nguoi Viet as part of the boycott. 

“The idea is to show people the effect of ignoring the economic benefits that immigrants are bringing to the country,” he said. “But my job is different. I work for a company of immigrants, so it’s pointless for us to walk out to show ourselves what we are worth.” 

 

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Police Blotter

By Richard Brenneman
Tuesday May 02, 2006

Two heisters 

Two men in their late teens found threats of violence were enough to convince a Berkeley man to surrender his wallet and backpack after they confronted him near the intersection of Le Conte and Euclid avenues at 1:15 a.m. last Monday. 

The suspects are described as two skinny fellows between the ages of 17 and 20, one standing about 5'5" and the other between 5'8" and 6', said Berkeley Police spokesperson Officer Ed Galvan. Both were wearing black sweatshirts. 

 

Serious weaponry 

A 24-year-old Oakland man burst into Whole Foods Market about 1 a.m. Wednesday to report that he had just been robbed by a robber who struck him over the head with what he described as “a large submachine-gun-type rifle” in the store’s parking lot near the corner of Telegraph Avenue and Webster Street. 

The bandit made off with his cell phone and wallet.  

 

Another duo 

Another pair of bandits, one of them packing a long-barreled pistol, confronted an 18-year-old UC Berkeley student near the corner of Parker and Etna streets just before 11 p.m. Wednesday and demanded her purse, cell phone and wallet. 

The report was transferred to Berkeley Police from the California Highway Patrol, which currently receives all 911 cell phone calls made in the area. 

Many residents may not be aware that they can reach Berkeley emergency dispatchers directly from their cell phones by calling 981-5911, the way to insure the promptest response. 

Another citizen called in later with report that the young woman’s purse had been found, minus the cash it had contained. 

 

2


Opinion

Editorials

Editorial: Telling the Emperor He’s Naked

By Becky O’Malley
Friday May 05, 2006

The big story in media circles this week was Steven Colbert’s skewering the Washington press establishment (and incidentally G.W. Bush & Co.) over dinner on Saturday night. It will be interesting for future journalism scholars to study how the news of his thinly disguised attack on the administration and its tepid critics rolled across the country on the Internet after it was originally ignored by the big media. Evidently C-Span viewers who were watching on Saturday night caught it first, and some of them posted the video clips on the Internet, using magic technology which I don’t begin to understand. The only person I know who is glued to C-Span is my 91-year-old mother, who watches it the way some men watch ESPN and for some of the same reasons, and even she missed it.  

By Monday morning the net junkies in the Daily Planet newsroom were talking about it, and people in the office were attempting to watch it on our ancient OS 9 Macs, which proved impossible. We watched it on our PCs at home that night. By Tuesday my mother had heard about it and was insisting that she had to see it. Since she’s not online we brought her over to our house on Wednesday for a personal viewing of the tape on the YouTube.com website, where people can upload their homemade videos. I had dinner on Wednesday night with three friends, two of them working lawyers, none of whom had heard about it, all of whom rushed home to get it up immediately on their PCs. Google News on Thursday reported that YouTube has pulled the clip at the behest of C-Span, which claims copyright, but I’m sure you can still find it somewhere on the Internet.  

What’s most interesting about the story is that the standard media, especially the New York Times, didn’t even cover the Colbert act in their news reports on the White House Correspondents Association’s annual dinner. And now the ponderous print press is opining that it thinks Colbert wasn’t funny anyhow, so there. “Colbert was not just a failure as a comedian but rude,” says Richard Cohen in the Washington Post, after establishing his own credentials as a critic—that he was considered quite a card in grade school.  

Funny was not the point, guys. Lots of people can be funny. What Colbert did was much more difficult and dangerous. He used his entrée as a comedian as the means for telling Bush to his face what his advisors are surely not telling him. Bush is proud of the fact that he seldom reads the papers, seldom watches TV news.  

Some reports of the Colbert act have pointed out that media luminaries have lately been telling some of the truth about what’s going on in this country, and, to be fair, they have. But exactly who thinks that anyone in the administration right up to the very top has picked up the New Yorker to read Rick Hertzberg’s excellent series of mea culpas for letting his publication endorse the Iraq invasion, or Seymour Hersh’s chilling prediction of an Iran invasion? Or perhaps Mark Danner in the New York Review of Books on Abu Ghraib? Not bloody likely. 

We’ve all heard the story of the Emperor’s New Clothes when we were growing up. It took a little boy to reveal that the “finely woven invisible suit” that the emperor thought he was wearing didn’t exist. Shakespeare’s plays are full of fools who use their position to tell powerful people what’s going on with impunity. It’s a time-honored technique, and the point is not the comedy but the truth-telling. Colbert’s pose as an effete, foolish and powerless newsie was the perfect way to position himself to tell Bush, his lying entourage and his media syncophants, metaphorically of course, that they’d come to dinner in their birthday suits. And no, a big blast of rib-splitting Borscht Belt bathroom humor a la Bob Hope or even Al Franken wouldn’t have had the same effect. What made Colbert’s performance so effective was the high ratio of criticism to comedy, steely rapier thrusts greased by a thin veneer of irony.  

Was he rude? Perhaps. Telling the truth is sometimes considered rude. And it’s dangerous. Legendary jazz singer Eartha Kitt didn’t work in the United States for 10 years after she “rudely” spoke out against the Vietnam War at a Ladybird Johnson White House luncheon in 1968. By that act of courage she sustained many of us out in the hinterlands who were beginning to tire in our efforts to stop the war, but she paid a heavy price.  

Could the same thing happen to Steven Colbert these days? Probably not, but a lot of things which we might have said 10 years ago couldn’t happen anymore are happening today. Watch’yer back, Steve. 

 


Editorial: Singing About America in Many Tongues

By Becky O’Malley
Tuesday May 02, 2006

A couple of weeks after Sept. 11, 2001, I attended a concert which was a benefit for African-American college students. It was organized by Hope Briggs, then just another struggling soprano, though she’s now a featured artist with the San Francisco Opera and other major companies. She had put together a bouquet of young classical singers who contributed their performances, many but not all of them African-Americans like herself.  

The concert, which had been scheduled for months, took place in a school auditorium somewhere on the Peninsula. It was during the period when people were still afraid to leave home, still reluctant to cross bridges, so the audience was modest in size, mostly, like me, friends and relatives of the singers. The music, a varied program featuring opera arias, was a blessed relief from the tensions of the day.  

After each singer had taken her turn, Hope brought them all to the stage for a final bow. Then, as they stood in a row in front of the curtain, she led them all, and the audience, in singing one more selection: “America the Beautiful.” I don’t think of myself as a sentimental person, or as being particularly patriotic, but seeing those beautiful young people up there, hearing their lovely voices singing about the beauty of our homeland and its people at a time when we felt that all we loved was in danger, moved me to shed more than a few tears.  

I remembered that evening this last weekend when with much fanfare a Spanish translation of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” the official U.S. national anthem, was launched on Spanish language radio. It got the predictable shocked reaction from the expected people, including an emphatic George W. Bush. Blasphemy! Real Americans speak English!  

What it reminded me is what a really inappropriate song “The Star-Spangled Banner” is for a nation like ours, in any language. In the first place, it’s virtually unsingable for most of us, with those screechy high notes. And it’s martial, a relic of a long-ago and little remembered war, before this country became as big and as varied as it is now, when the flag was spangled with many fewer stars. The music was probably written by a British composer, and the poetry is weak.  

“America the Beautiful” would be a much better choice for a multilingual national song. The first verse, with its spacious skies and purple mountains, uplifts everybody and offends nobody. (The quality of the poetry does fall off in later stanzas, but we don’t have to use those.) And while we’re translating, there are a number of other wonderful songs which we could use to express love of home and fellow citizens.  

The best words, hands down, can be found in “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” once called “The Negro National Anthem.” They were written by a good writer, James Weldon Johnson, and are both thoughtful and inspiring: 

 

Lift every voice and sing, till earth and  

Heaven ring, 

Ring with the harmonies of liberty… 

 

African-Americans might not be willing to share their anthem with the whole country, but since some African-Americans of Caribbean origin speak Spanish as their first language, there should be no objection to translation. The music is stirring, excellent for group singing. 

Or perhaps it would be better to start with a song in Spanish, and translate it for others to sing in English. One beloved expression of love of country is “De Colores,” learned by most California school children, which starts with a verse praising the colors of the countryside in spring, the birds and the rainbow. It’s been taken as a metaphor for diversity, and many have added subsequent verses, some in praise of the people of different colors who are found on the earth. Since it’s a folk song, pride of authorship hasn’t gotten in the way of adaptation to multicultural patriotic sentiments, or of English versions, of which there are several.  

Woody Guthrie’s populist “This Land is Your Land,” in a folk vein, is also learned by most school children, and is sung even by many who would disagree with its radical author’s politics if they knew about them. People make up verses for it all the time. Translating it into Spanish wouldn’t cause any flap. It’s surprising that no one has done it yet, or maybe they have.  

And why limit ourselves to Spanish and English? Only English-speaking U.S. citizens are proud of speaking just one language. If those guys are touchy about the SSB, let’s just leave it off the program. Many Americans speak many languages, and other patriotic songs could be translated back and forth to accommodate all singers.  

What about adding a French anthem, for example? “La Marseillaise” offers stirring music and inspiring words. (Perhaps too inspiring: politically savvy French friends tell me those parts about “impure blood running in the furrows” have lost favor in some circles in France.)  

But weren’t we mad at the French about something? Remember “freedom fries”? What was that all about? 

Oh yes. We were mad at the French for warning us it might be a mistake to go into Iraq. For hinting or even saying outright that there were no weapons of mass destruction. Maybe it’s time for our national leaders, George W. in particular, to learn just one little French phrase, even if he doesn’t like the SSB in Spanish. For his next meeting with French leaders, perhaps he could practice “Excusez-moi, j’ai fait une erreur.” 


Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

Friday May 05, 2006

PARKING, TRANSIT 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

I was surprised to read that the City of Berkeley may increase parking on residential property (“Contentious Lawn Parking Law Revision Delayed,” May 1) while decreasing traffic lanes on Telegraph to provide dedicated lanes for buses. Seems like they are asking for traffic jams. It is classic case of departments working against each other. How about a coordinated effort? People need incentives to get on the bus, not disincentives. Or, forget the bus and provide for plenty of parking. 

Sally Levinson 

 

• 

POT AND THE KETTLE 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Oh my god. Carol Denney is actually cussing out Andy Ross for whining too much and having too much access to the press (Pepper Spray Times, May 2)? If that isn’t the most blatant example of the pot calling the kettle black. Denney gets two pages a month in the Daily Planet, and I’m sure she isn’t paying for it. And all she does is whine and bitch and complain—this woman NEVER enjoys anything in life. 

And you might tell Carol to ease off on the cops arresting shoes and sweaters in People’s Park joke. Once was sorta funny, and now it’s just an example of how her creativity is gone. It’s bad enough that she is irrelevant—does she really want to be repetitive and boring as well? 

George Boulder 

Walnut Creek 

 

• 

OLD TOON STILL NEW 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

I happened to open the Sept. 16, 2003 issue of the Daily Planet. Check out the cartoon the cartoon on page eight. Things haven’t improved! I wonder how far “Pedro” could get today on the same wages. But on the other hand maybe he wouldn’t even have a job now! We are not becoming a nation of peace-makers or even civil civilians. The rich continue to get tax breaks and the Pedros of the nation suffer more. 

How sad. 

Wendy Markel 

 

• 

BOYCOTT 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Regarding your article, “Berkeley Schools, Businesses Affected by May 1 Boycott”: So—many restaurants and businesses closed (did the absent workers get paid?), 77 percent of students and 40 percent of teachers abandoned their classes at the Berkeley Alternative School, a large group of students entered BART illegally (hmm, does that word sound familiar?), and so on. 

I believe that adults who wish to stop working in order to “demonstrate” have a right to do so (and take the consequences for their actions). However, teachers who can’t see through the hype/thrill of “taking it to the streets” are betraying their students. These young people desperately need to attend schools where they will receive the education required to succeed in this ever more complex and competitive world. 

If every employee in every Berkeley restaurant were to decide to boycott their work, we would survive (and probably loose a few pounds). However, if Latino students and their teachers are contemptuous of education (by which I mean the three R’s), and disregard the legal system (stealing from BART), we have a serious problem. 

Bonito Tovar is quoted in your article as saying in regard to the out-of-school students, “They are the future.” I’m rather afraid he is correct, and that future doesn’t look very bright. 

Chris Gavin 

 

• 

LABOR STRIKE SETTLEMENT 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

The Berkeley Honda Labor and Community Coalition is very appreciative of the tremendous support that our community has given to the 10-month long strike and boycott of Berkeley Honda. We are very happy that after waging one of the longest strikes in auto dealer history, the Machinists and Teamsters unions have won a contract that guarantees Berkeley Honda’s workers decent health coverage and a defined benefit pension plan. 

The community’s efforts were crucial in supporting the striking workers and in putting pressure on Berkeley Honda. We commend the nearly 50 unions and community groups who organized rallies, the hundreds of individual picketers, and thousands of would-be customers who honored the picket lines. During the strike, community activists held nearly 100 rallies with the infamous giant rat, distributed thousands of posters and leaflets, and volunteered over 3,000 person hours on the picket line, rain and shine. Working closely with Berkeley Honda’s striking workers, we sent an unmistakable message that the people of Berkeley will defend unions and the fundamental rights of workers, no matter how long it takes to win recognition and gain a contract. 

The coalition is also aware that this contract is only as good as it is enforced. The rehiring provisions of the new contract give the former Doten employees the right to return to work—but to a large degree only to the extent that business picks up at Berkeley Honda. So we are asking all customers who have honored the boycott to now return to Berkeley Honda to do business. We need your help to call on Berkeley Honda management to do everything in its power to facilitate a speedy rehiring process. We encourage returning customers to express their support for the prompt rehiring and fair treatment of the former Doten employees. 

Let’s get all the Honda car owners in Berkeley to go back to doing business with Berkeley Honda. And let’s make sure that Berkeley Honda knows that the community is paying attention. We will continue working to support, and we very much look forward to seeing, a thriving union shop at Berkeley Honda again. 

Harry Brill 

Jon Rodney 

Michael Kaufman 

Jennifer Krill 

 

• 

THE RACE CARD 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

I couldn’t agree more with Jill Posener’s May 2 letter to the editor. When the “race card” is sloppily and haphazardly employed to justify and condone every manner of dysfunctional behavior, it just strips the “race card” of its moral currency. And someday, when real racism rears its ugly head—as it will—the “race card” will have been so devalued that the Berkeley liberal will be looked at as nothing but “the boy who cried ‘race card’ one time too many.”  

Peter Labriola 

 

• 

DOWNTOWN 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Thank you for your recent article (“Seeking a New Look for Downtown Berkeley,” May 2) detailing the proposed design options for the Downtown Berkeley BART Plaza area. The City of Berkeley’s Transportation Division would like to encourage community members to view the designs on our website at www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/transportation/BARTPlaza/BPwkshps.html and to provide comments and feedback to myself, Kara Vuicich, at 981-7065 or kvuicich@ci.berkeley.ca.us. Anyone who has difficulty viewing the design options online should contact me as well.  

Kara Vuicich 

Associate Planner, City of Berkeley  

 

• 

TWO SIDES TO EVERY STORY 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

As usual there are two sides to every story. With respect to your Berkeley High Small School Community Partnerships Academy (CPA) article, here are some of the facts you did not print:  

1. CPA has been a small school for two years now and was a school for “at risk” students for 14 years before that.  

2. CPA had a 100 percent high school graduation rate for the class of 2005.  

3. CPA had 93 percent of its 2005 seniors go on to post-secondary schools. This included quite a diverse group of colleges such as Yale University, UC Berkeley, UC Santa Cruz, Cal-Poly Pomona, San Francisco State, Morehouse, Spelman, Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, Culinary Institute of America and local junior colleges such as Diablo Valley and Contra Costa.  

4. The freshman class has an average GPA of 2.74 out of 4.0. In particular only 4 out of 60 freshmen had a GPA of less than 2.0 out of 4.0. The lowest GPA was 1.7 out of 4.0. The highest GPA was 4.0 out of 4.0.  

CPA is a college preparatory Berkeley High small school that is very successful at getting its students to go on to prestigious and competitive colleges and universities. It integrates its students into a college preparatory program that teaches them through community agency internships such as with Children’s Hospital why academic rigor is important. You should take a look at CPA’s website (www.bhscpa.org) and talk to its directors (Annie Johnston and Flora Russ) for more complete information. I further invite you to do an in depth article to look at all facets of CP Academy in particular and the Berkeley High small schools in general.  

Richelieu Hemphill 

 

• 

NATIONAL ANTHEM 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

I enjoyed very much Becky O’Malley’s editorial “Singing about America in many tongues.”  

Well I have to say I agree with Dubya in one small way: singing the national anthem in Spanish is blasphemous; indeed almost as blasphemous as singing it in English. It is widely conceded Francis Scott Keyes’ lyrics were set to the tune of a British Navy drinking song, lending credence to the other widely held belief Keyes was three sheets to the wind when he penned the lyrics. In order to sing this song properly one must be well on their way to inebriation. 

As an African American I would be against Black America allowing America to adopt our national anthem. Already we’ve contributed too much to this country without compensation. What America should do, in the spirit of democratizing unfettered globalization is to adopt as a national anthem “The International.” I’ve included a modernized stanza below. 

 

Stand up, all victims of oppression  

For the tyrants fear your might  

Don’t cling so hard to your possessions  

For you have nothing, if you have 

no rights  

Let racist ignorance be ended  

For respect makes the empires fall  

Freedom is merely privilege extended  

Unless enjoyed by one and all  

 

Jean Damu 

 

• 

OREGON STREET 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Paul Rauber is right about one thing. 

Guys with uniforms and guns should be handling the problem of drug dealing in our community. Then the Alameda County district attorney’s office should make stay away orders part of the convicted drug dealers probation. These stay away orders have been used for years against homeless people who have been convicted of such crimes as sleeping, sitting, etc. These guys with guns and uniforms would better be used in this instance than being deployed at People’s Park to attack and intimidate those that would help the disadvantaged. While the boys in blue were spitting in my face and brutalizing me maybe they could of been helping out Paul and his friends. I make no apologies for supporting those in need, the elderly and the disabled. There are other solutions to these problems then to terrorize someone with losing their home and there are other ways of getting elected to office then by dividing the people in our neighborhoods. I feel sorry for a lot of the people that were involved in the whole Oregon Street Affair they were led down the path by some ex-politicos trying desperately to get back in the game.  

Dan McMullan 

 

• 

1984 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Am I in a 1984 nightmare, from which I never woke up? U.S. imperial leadership is going to drop nuclear weapons on Iran on the pretexts of a non-existence nuclear threat. Here at home in Berkeley, the UC administration is destroying give-away free clothes boxes for the poor at People’s Park, while they rob taxpayers and students of millions of dollars to enhance their living style. The imperial rulers say they bomb for humanity and local UC company leaders‚ rule, “the free box must go, to save the people from drugs.”  

In the last months hundreds of people have been arrested for crimes of being poor at the park here in Berkeley. UC still continue to destroy the new free boxes that activist have built. Now the police are beating up people for refusing to obey their orders. 

On Saturday, May 13, at noon, a rally at the park is being called by local People’s Park activists. There will be many speakers on repression worldwide and everyone is invited to speak.  

Michael Delacour 

 

• 

FOOD FESTIVAL 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Welcome and hooray to a new Berkeley festival! I declare last Sunday’s International Food Festival to be the best yet. Especially for a new event, the organization was superb. The peace that prevailed among the food, commercial and service purveyors and consumers flowed like the soft, mellifluous music. Steve Geller and I volunteered for the festival, and we want to thank Pam Weatherford, Bruce Williams and amazing, hardworking company, Raines Cohen and his magic truck, the M.C. and all the other volunteers. They made the festival run as smoothly as other festivals. Maybe my experience was enhanced by the wonderful Thai massage I received from two gracious women. Thank you, City of Berkeley, Daily Planet for publicizing it, and everyone who made it happen. 

Claire Risley 

 

• 

KEEPING BUSY 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

There seems to be a surplus of energy in the civic leadership of Berkeley. How else to explain the committees, consultants, and staffs that are keeping busy, spending time, effort, and money, to come up with solutions in search of problems? 

A week ago it was a plan to reconfigure North Shattuck Avenue between Vine and Rose Streets. Now they are “Seeking a New Look for Downtown BART” (Daily Planet, May 2). What exactly is wrong with these locations? How dilapidated and in need of something different—anything different—are they? How much investment do they deserve. What will the benefits be? Where do they rank in priority with other municipal investment needs? 

In the case of Shattuck and Center, the purpose is stated to be “improving downtown’s transportation accessibility...” Accessibility is about a good as it will ever be as long as downtown is blocked by Berkeley High School on the west and the UC campus on the east. More bus services (including the doubtful bus rapid transit) won’t make much difference; the present service is not used anywhere near capacity. 

The statement is made that “It’s clear people aren’t happy with what’s there today and want that redesigned.” Which people? How many? Was there a survey of a cross section of the population, or are these the “people” on the committees and staffs? What do they want? Smoother traffic and more parking or less? More accessibility by bus? Safer pedestrian sidewalks and crosswalks? A more friendly ambiance? A more aesthetic experience? Is the economic health of this part of downtown threatened? Is the BART rotunda now considered an eyesore? (It makes a statement that BART “is here,” which the tops of stairs and escalators cannot equal.) Are the street sculptures passé? So many questions!  

Or is all of this a way to keep “civic leaders” and city staffs busy? 

Sometimes it may be best to leave things alone if they aren’t broken.  

Wolfgang Homburger 

Kensington 

 

• 

BUSH REGIME 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Recently U.S. Army chief of staff, General Peter Schoomaker in defending the U.S. military budget lambasted critics of U.S. war spending by stating, “I just don’t understand… What’s the problem? I mean, I don't get it.” I will tell him and the other idiots in the Bush regime what the problem is.  

The United State spends nearly half-a-trillion dollars annually for military purposes. This includes not only the Pentagon budget, but the cost of “intelligence” and other related military costs. The rest of the world combined does not spend as much on military costs.  

While I deplore the waste of such a vast amount and wonder how the world could be changed if the money was spent productively, the biggest problem is that this money is spent to spread and defend an imperial system by allowing the United States to either make or threaten war against other nations and people in order to dominate the globe.  

For those that deny the U.S. is a dangerous imperial power, consider that the Pentagon admits it has troops in 120 countries. The U.S. weapons arsenal contains 10,000 nuclear warheads and extensive conventional weapons which “our leaders” allege are needed to defend the nation against attack. The United States is engaged in aggressive wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Bush is threatening war, including the possibility of nuclear war, with Iran. U.S. covert teams are already on the ground in Iran identifying and spotting future targets for attacks. Is it any wonder, that according to polls, people in most of the world consider the United States as the greatest threat to peace?  

The Bush regime in its National Security Strategy openly states that it will preemptively attack “future threats" to national security. Such supposed threats are defined by a president who claims to receive directions from god to attack other nations. The military budget gives him the capability of doing so. That is the problem, General Schoomaker. Do you get it now? I feel uncomfortable for a president who revels in his ignorance to have such vast military power at his command. I do not believe in the “divine right of kings or presidents.” But then I am not on the same terms with god as the president seems to be.  

The bottom line is that I would prefer to drive the Bush regime from power rather than finance its ability to impose its will on the world. The world can not wait to see what the logical outcome of two and a halfmore years of the Bush regime will bring us. The first five and a half years of this regime are scary enough.  

To see what you can do to stop the Bush regime before it is too late, please see worldcantwait.net. 

Kenneth Thiesen


More Letters to thte Editor

Friday May 05, 2006

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following letters from frequent correspondents on the topic of the Middle East appear only on our website. 

 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Johanna Graham and I are actually moving toward an understanding. First, she seems to acknowledge that my personal net worth is an irrelevance. No one individual can buy a Berkeley election with his or her paltry $250. I certainly admit that when a DP reporter called me I said that Worthington or Maio would be toast if they ran for mayor. Hey, if the Daily Planet were to ask my opinion of Republican prospects in the midterm election I would say the same thing. It’s one thing for me to opine that the Republicans will lose the next election, and even to work toward that goal as an individual, and quite another to be some kind of Rasputin who can make it all happen by my lonesome. If Worthington and Maio are toasted for bringing their support of Hamas into Berkeley, it will take many more people than me to do so. Graham thinks it unfair that they take the hit for their pro-Hamas stand, calling this a fringe issue, which Berkeley voters “know little about.” Well, in part, Graham is correct. This should be a fringe issue in Berkeley. In fact, it should not be an issue at all in a local election. But then Worthington and Maio made it so by insisting that Berkeley have a pro-Hamas foreign policy. At least 25 percent of the Berkeley electorate is Jewish, and the vast majority of these stand with Israel, and know more than a little about the issues involved. And the vast majority of the remaining 75 percent of Berkeley voters may not know much about the Israel/Palestine conflict, but they know enough to know that they don’t want their prospective mayor entangling his or herself in it. By prostrating themselves before a vociferous but tiny pro-Palestinian minority in Berkeley, Worthington and Maio totally alienated many of the rest of us. What if the issue were Darfur and the City Council voted to support Arab claims to that land. Would they not expect Berkeley’s blacks and Jews to be outraged (yes, Jews, since Jewish groups are at the forefront of the campaign against genocide in Darfur)?  

I agree that Graham correctly discerns an apparent contradiction in my writings. In the April 7 DP, I made a throwaway remark to the effect that perhaps P&J and City Council should call the Palestinians to task for electing Hamas. I wrongly denied that because I was traveling at the time, trying to meet Daily Planet’s deadline, and, not having access to my papers, was working from faulty memory. I apologize. But my earlier statement was meant facetiously. If I actually meant that P&J or City Council should busy itself with anti-Palestinian resolutions, I would certainly be working the phones lobbying members of City Council and P&J to accomplish this. After all, according to Graham, I have most of P&J, if not the city council, eating from hand. In fact, if I ever hear of an anti-Palestinian resolution coming before P&J or City Council, I will probably lobby against it. The Palestine/Israel conflict has unnecessarily divided this town for too many years. Worthington and Maio threw gasoline on that fire, and that’s why neither should become mayor.  

So now that Graham and I are largely in agreement, I offer this olive branch. I am ready to move on to Darfur if Graham and the rest of the pro-Palestinian community in this town is also. Then, perhaps, we can work together, building alliances instead of walls of mistrust. Z  

John Gertz 

 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Talk about the pot calling the kettle... 

Joanna Graham accuses John Gertz of failing to remember what he wrote. But those of us who regularly read these pages in the Daily Planet are all too aware of that which Ms. Graham would doubtless like us to forget—her own words. 

Let’s start with Graham’s absurd allegation that a “Jewish lobby” headed by Gertz has taken control of local political proceedings. In the Daily Planet’s April 14 edition, Graham wrote: “A small, unelected Group is distorting city policy by exerting undue influence and would do so no matter who is in office.” While Graham eschews the more obvious terms like “cabal” penned by fellow pro-Palestinian advocate R.W. Davis ( April 7), readers with any sense of history understand fullwell the dark place from which Ms. Graham is coming...  

Moreover, remember when Ms. Graham exhorted Berkeleyans to make this the “Year of Talking About Palestine/Israel"? Ever wonder why she has been so silent ever since the Palestinians she champions overwhelmingly elected those honorable merchants of genocide, Hamas? Come on, Joanna--if you wish to make this the “Year of Talking About Palestine,” do please show us how you and your fellow propagandists spin this prominent move which has finally propelled Palestinian society out of the closet. 

Of course Graham criticizes Mr. Gertz’s suggestion that literature be sent to our electorate showing that infamous picture of the less-than-innocent Rachael Corrie burning an American flag in front of scores of Palestinian pre-schoolers. Why shouldn’t Gertz help make voters aware that certain “convenient idiots” for the Palestinian cause on the City Council wasted the council’s time attempting to turn Corrie into a most undeserved martyr-figure?  

In fact, such literature would serve an important educative function for our electorate and hopefully make voters think twice before returning to office such ideological simpletons. After all, Corrie contributed to the sort of indoctrination of children which has metastasized into the sociopathology that is Palestine today, as reflected by the election of a party whose primary claim to fame is the destruction of innocent lives—with the promise of more mayhem to come. 

Dan Spitzer 

Kensington 

 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Two weeks ago John Gertz wrote, “perhaps Berkeley’s Peace and Justice Commission and City Council should call the Palestinians to task for [electing Hamas]” (Daily Planet, April 7). Now he claims he said no such thing.  

Perhaps sharing Bush’s touching faith that no one can remember anything, he goes on to assert in his most recent op-ed that he never packed the Peace and Justice Commission nor threatened Linda Maio. 

Let’s review the record. Last summer, when the Peace and Justice controversy surfaced, a Daily Planet reporter asked Gertz about his alleged involvement. “Corrie was the straw that broke the camel’s back,” Gertz said. “What I have observed is that a lot of people were sick of the commission being run by the lunatic left and some brave people came forward to put a stop to it.” Gertz added, “The real political objective is that Maio is going down and so is Worthington. They refused to rescind their vote on Corrie. That’s it for them. They’re toast.” (Daily Planet, July 22, 2005). 

The reporter mentioned that Gertz had not specified how he would ensure Maio’s (or Worthington’s) defeat, so Gertz obligingly wrote to the Planet to lay his strategy out (July 29, 2005). “I predict,” he wrote, “that [Maio’s] anti-Israel record will bring a lot of cash and a lot of volunteers to the cause of her more moderate opponent. Can’t she imagine the literature that will surely be mailed to Berkeley voters showing her picture right next to that now famous picture of Corrie’s contorted face burning the American flag? Does she think that only Berkeley’s Jewish community will care about this?” 

Dan Spitzer has called me a “pro-Palestinian propagandist” and John Gertz wants me to address my “Palestinian friends.” Actually, I have never spoken either for or against the Palestinian people in this paper, which I understand to address itself primarily to local concerns. My local concern has been and continues to be whether a small well-heeled pressure group fixed on a single issue of little moment to most Berkeleyans has seriously interfered with city governance and the range of choices available to us all. That is, was the John Gertz of last summer a blowhard we can safely forget about (as he would like us to) or did he actually accomplish what he said then he would? 

To put it another way, I wouldn’t dream of running for mayor unless I had an enormous war chest, because I assume that Gertz et alia on the basis of their opinion of me would want to and could defeat me. Have Linda Maio, Kris Worthington, and/or Dona Spring, all specifically targeted by Gertz at various times, made the same calculation? If so, the people of Berkeley may have been deprived of experienced candidates representing a range of views on development, neighborhoods, schools, downtown, UCB relations, crime, police, budget priorities, open government, and so on—all the urgent issues facing our city—for the appalling reason that they’ve failed to pass the Zionists‚ litmus test on the fringe issue of Israel. 

None of the above council members is likely to confirm or deny this speculation, so it must remain tantalizingly unproved. There is, however, another simple test of the power of the Israel lobby in Berkeley—the one to which Becky O’Malley referred in her editorial of April 11, that is, the one-woman play, My Name is Rachel Corrie. 

In 1989, after Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa against Salman Rushdie for his portrayal of Mohammed in The Satanic Verses, I remember well that Berkeley joined a world community of publishers, writers, booksellers, and readers who rushed to support not only the beleaguered novelist, but the principle of free speech. Such support was accompanied by a great deal of well-justified fear, for it was truly dangerous. In Japan, Italy, Norway, and Turkey, for example, translators and publishers were injured or killed. 

Contrast to this the stunning silence in the aftermath of the New York Theatre Workshop’s egregious last-minute cancellation of a well-received London play, due, by its director’s admission, to Jewish pressure. So far, after a staged reading at Riverside Church in New York, there has been just one known performance on this continent: a reading at the University of Toronto before fifty invited guests at an undisclosed location! Why is it possible to stand up to Muslim fundamentalists, even when death by violence is a credible consequence of doing so, and not to Jewish Zionists, who (usually, though not always) threaten only to withhold funding? 

Whether My Name is Rachel Corrie is a good play or a bad one; whether we agree or disagree with its viewpoint; whether we love or detest our experience of it—these are beside the point, which is that in a free society no words are too dangerous to be heard. Therefore, let us perform together the civic duties of speaking aloud in public and hearing that which has been banned. If there’s no pressure, this will pose no problem. If there is a problem, we’ll know for certain that there’s pressure—and whence it comes. Then, for the common good, we can end it, and with it, the deformation of our public life. 

Joanna Graham 

 




Commentary: Mayor’s Landmarks Ordinance Hardly A Compromise

By Roger Marquis
Friday May 05, 2006

In response to Alan Tobey’s Commentary “Devil Is In the Details of Revised LPO”: I was impressed more by the details Alan left out, among those his affiliation with Livable Berkeley, a group that espouses “Smart Growth” but has yet to define any real-estate development that it does not consider smart. 

Also unexplained was how Mayor Bates’ proposal to revise Berkeley’s long-standing Landmarks Preservation Ordinance is “a balanced one that represents a careful compromise.” Compromise between who? Local and out-of-town developers? Apparently Alan did not attend the public hearing where 41 of 47 speakers rejected the mayor’s proposals and all of his supporters were development interests. 

Mr. Tobey did note that the mayor’s proposal recommends decreasing “by half of the number of signatures required for an historic initiation” but he failed to note that the proposed deadline for collecting signatures was reduced to just 10 days, or that the state Office of Historic Preservation recommended both fewer signatures and more time to gather them. Mr. Tobey’s observation that the mayor’s proposal “guarantees that for the first time every building over 50 years of age that’s subject to a permit application will be reviewed” also neglects to give credit to the Landmarks commissioners who already perform this function at no charge to the city. 

It really is a shame that Mayor Bates, Councilperson Capitelli, Livable Berkeley, and other real-estate development interests seem unable to distinguish between appropriate redevelopment, the kind that does not require demolishing historic buildings or negatively impacting existing neighborhoods, and carefully planned redevelopment as outlined in the General Plan. I bet we would all be surprised by the support redevelopment would have if the real eyesores and white elephants that certain developers make such a fuss over were simply discouraged by Mayor Bates and Planning Director Marks, much less Don Yost and Patrick Kennedy. 

The way to encourage truly smart growth is not by handicapping the Landmarks Commission nor by removing protections for structures of merit, not by limiting public comment to 10 calendar days nor requiring early determination (RFD) of a building’s historical merit. The way to develop consensus and growth and make the entire process more predictable for everyone is by prioritizing the city-wide survey, including neighborhoods in the dialog, and establishing the overlay zones that work so well in other cities. Sadly, despite his public comments, the Mayor’s proposals offers nothing in these areas. 

Fortunately for the first time citizens have a voice in the matter. The Landmarks Preservation Ordinance 2006 Update Initiative will soon be collecting signatures for inclusion on the November ballot. This is a grassroots opportunity to protect the LPO from City Hall, limit corporate welfare and, like the state-wide Eminent Domain Initiatives, ensure that careful planning is not co-opted by special interests. 

 

Roger Marquis is a former Palo Alto resident. 


Commentary: Looking for Peace in the Peace Movement

By boona cheema
Friday May 05, 2006

At no other time has a movement for global peace become so crucial. And this movement has no place for hate, anger, or abuse. To cease all hostilities we the members of the movement need to make a commitment to peaceful language and peaceful assembly. Without this action we cannot grow—and we cannot win. 

I first marched for peace in 1969 in Saigon, now Ho Chi Minh City, following a contingent of Buddhist nuns and monks. We carried no signs, chanted no chants, and peacefully got arrested. As time has passed and my commitment to peace has deepened I find it extremely painful to attend “peace” marches now.  

What I find most alarming is the language used by many speakers, including celebrities, politicians, musicians, and poets, at rallies, marches, and so-called peace gatherings. Speeches full of hate, anger, and aggression, including slogans of death to the people we do not agree with, have no place in creating peace. Surely we can present arguments against war, violence, famine, and disease without calling for the death of a politician. We must, so that the children we drag along to these often festive occasions, where we meet friends and allies, can safely listen and learn. There is enough violent language in their lives, and to hear it at a march for peace is an attack on their sensitivities—we can hardly hope to grow peacefulness in them with our own inability to be peaceful. 

Contributions to peace are built upon innate goodness. Deep inside we must recognize that while we are different from those who go to and support war, different from those who let HIV/AIDS and hunger continue unchecked and who commit the genocide of African and other peoples of color, we are complicit in that arrogance by couching our expressions of protest in a language of fear and hatred, a language that lets our opposition point to our hypocrisy and makes some people of peace feel unable to participate in a movement that cultivates as much aggression as the events and policies we are striving to oppose.  

Let’s step back for a moment and remember that even though we have tried to learn from the peace movement’s hostility towards Vietnam soldiers and now wear buttons that say “Hate the War, Love the Soldier,” the returning limbless warriors from Iraq will be just as confused as my brothers from Vietnam when there are no resources for them. Let’s step back and appreciate the organizing abilities of the right wing and fanatics across the globe, and deal with our inability to fight war with peace. 

Those of us who are exhausted from a culture of violence need a new commitment, a voice that creates hope and not fear. We Democrats, Greens, Republicans, and members of all political parties who want peace have no single voice we can rally around, no leadership that has evolved beyond the use of words that terrify. Even in the speeches of the most committed peacemakers attack and aggression toward warmongers slips in. We need those leaders who fear politics but have the skills to lead us to a better world to step forward, in every village, every city, every faith and religion. We need to find those who cannot support conflict in one region and peace in another and surround them with a movement that is truly based on basic principles of respect, and nonviolence. 

We can transform the world with the intention to shift completely from violence to peace, but we must practice this intention in all realms of our lives—in our families, in our communities, and in our peace rallies. As always, today is the best day to begin.  

 

boona cheema has been a peace activist for over 35 years. Originally from India, she volunteered with wounded children in Vietnam before moving to the U.S. where she now runs a nonprofit human service organization for the homeless and mentally ill. 


Commentary: Oakland’s Teachers Face Tough Jobs, Low Pay

By Life Academy High Street School Staff
Friday May 05, 2006

On the afternoon of Wednesday, April 26, the 14 teachers of Life Academy High School prepared to go on strike; hours later we were relieved that it wasn’t necessary. The negotiations had led to a settlement. We rejoiced. However as details of the settlement became available, we realized that we celebrated too early. The district and the union negotiators had not met the basic needs of teachers and Oakland students. 

The teachers of Life Academy came together five years ago to open the district’s first small autonomous high school. Despite budget cuts and staff reductions, we have worked tirelessly to create an innovative and rigorous education for students. Nearly all our teachers work at least 60 hours a week to plan, grade, write grants, and attend continuing education classes. Our high attendance rates, rising test scores, and lack of violence on campus set a new standard for Oakland schools in the flatlands. Last year, our API score rose 92 points, the largest increase of any Oakland high school. 

However, our success is at risk. Low teacher compensation is forcing us to choose between careers in Oakland classrooms and alternatives. Many are seriously considering moving to districts with higher pay or leaving the educational field altogether. Oakland students cannot afford to lose their best teachers. 

Three years ago, teachers took a 4 percent pay cut in response to the district’s budget deficit. From August of 2003 until March of 2006, inflation has risen by 8.23 percent. Today, teachers are earning in real dollars 12.23 percent less than they were three years ago.  

The district’s settlement promised teachers a “raise.” This raise is in fact an illusion. Our raises are not even sufficient to keep pace with inflation nor will they come close to compensating teachers for the loss of income over the past three years. 

The district offered us a 2 percent retroactive raise to cover 2005-2006. The following year we will be given a 2.5 percent raise but will be required to contribute .5 percent of the raise to cover rising costs of healthcare (essentially a 2 percent raise). In 2007-2008, the district will again give teachers a 1.75 percent raise minus a .5 percent contribution to healthcare (a net raise of 1.25 percent). Over the course of the contract, our salaries will rise in total by 5.25 percent, but this does not cover the rising cost of living. Inflation is expected to rise 6 percent over the next two years.  

At the end of the day, teachers in 2008 will earn roughly 13 percent less in terms of purchasing power than they did three years ago. This settlement is not a raise.  

How can a district expect to attract and keep high quality teachers under these conditions? Will parents send their children to a school district hemorrhaging its best teachers? How can the business community have confidence in hiring graduates taught by second tier teachers? 

Our staff also takes issue with another misnomer perpetrated by the district and some media sources. Repeatedly, both have made references to teachers receiving “free” healthcare. There is little free about our health care. Healthcare is a part of our total compensation package. We earn our healthcare benefit just as we earn our salary. Oakland teachers work in one of the most challenging educational environments in California while receiving some of the lowest compensation rates in the state.  

It is our hope that Oakland citizens will come to understand that their children’s education is at stake if the district’s proposal proceeds. We also encourage the media to debunk the district’s distortion that teachers are receiving a raise or receiving free healthcare under this settlement. The reality is that teachers are making, and will continue to make, far less in real dollars than we did three years ago. We urge the media to not simply report what the district spokesman says and the union’s response, but to truly provide analysis of what this settlement will mean for Oakland students and teachers.  

The teachers of Life Academy will vote against this settlement and urge others to follow. The settlement is bad for teachers, it’s bad for students, and it’s bad for Oakland.  

More and more students are going to continue to leave Oakland public schools until the district, union, and citizens of Oakland prioritize education funding and have the courage to find a way to create a contract that attracts the best and brightest teachers.  

 

The staff of Oakland’s Life Academy High School: Antonio Acosta, Rich Boettner, Toai Dao, Candace Hamilton, Carlos Herrera, Rebecca Huang, Clifford Lee, Yumi Matsui, Steven Miller, Fred Ngo, Carmelita Reyes, Lois Segal, Jill Thomas, and Preston Thomas. 

 


Letters to the Editor

Tuesday May 02, 2006

FCMAT 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Ernest Avellar is entitled to his paranoia, but your readers are entitled to a correction about the history of the school budget crises. The Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance Team (FCMAT) is not a “semi-secret organization,” as he writes. It’s a rather dull committee of school finance experts that publishes its findings and interim reports on its website, www.fcmat.org. Sheila Jordan, County Superintendent of Schools, did not run the Oakland school district into bankruptcy; the Oakland superintendent did. What Jordan did is to blow the whistle on the rampant mismanagement and climate of corruption that prevailed in the district at the time. Instead of blaming Jordan for calling in the State, Avellar should give thanks. The size of Oakland’s deficit would have cratered the County. Only the State had resources big enough to cover it.  

Martin Nicolaus  

 

• 

FORUM ON YOUTH VIOLENCE 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

I applaud the efforts of Mayor Tom Bates and School Board President Terry Doran to organize the forum on Youth Violence and Out of Control Parties on April 22 at Longfellow School. The forum gave an opportunity for parents, students, community members, and city and school staff to discuss issues confronting teens today and the resources needed to help. I encourage the mayor, city staff, and the administrators of Berkeley Unified School District to continue such forums so we may understand what our youth need and how we may be of greater service to them. It will take the concerted work of all agencies to begin to find solutions to the problems of violence, drugs, alcohol, and education. Thank you to the organizers and participants for a positive and productive response to recent, tragic events. 

Mary Jacobs 

 

• 

CORRECTION 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

In my April 18 commentary in the Daily Planet, I alluded to detailed and “arcane” language in the Creeks Task Force proposal. I remembered hearing, in the many task force meetings I attended, some rather arcane discussion, but I must admit that in rereading the final text of the proposal, it may at some points be overly detailed, but it is clear and concise, and nowhere arcane. I must also say that I think the work of the task force was thorough and conscientious and the proposal generally reasonable. 

Jerry Landis 

 

• 

TWO THINGS 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

I hope that there isn’t too severe a penalty for including two unrelated subjects in one letter. I promise to keep it short, like myself. 

1: Generals: “ Rumsfeld is arrogant and incompetent.” Bush: “My kind of guy!” 

2. I couldn’t help noticing in the Daily Planet the different pictures of police treatment of folks and their property in Peoples’ Park and the ones illegally lounging on the median strip in the Gourmet Ghetto. 

Ruth Bird  

• 

DOWNTOWN BUSINESS 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Want more downtown business? No mystery to most consumers: Easier parking and fewer homeless people. The problem is not the lack of opportunity for brick-and-mortar retail stores. Consider the success of Fourth Street in Berkeley, or Bay Street in Emeryville, which bloomed while downtown deteriorated. 

Robert Gable 

 

• 

PUBLIC LIBRARY 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

I’ve been involved with Friends of the Berkeley Public Library for some years and want to remind Daily Planet readers about this fine organization, one of those little-known Berkeley organizations that quietly goes about doing essential community work.  

The Friends sponsor many of the library’s most popular programs—the Summer Reading Program, Adult Literacy, Earphone English, and the Jazz Festival. We also contribute to the acquisition of special collections and support staff development, including scholarships in library education.  

The Friends raise funds for the Library through sales at their two used bookstores—a small shop downtown in the Central Library, and a larger store in the Sather Gate Mall between Durant and Channing. Phenomenally, the Friends make upwards of $100,000 each year by selling donated books, records, videos, and cassettes. Volunteers from the Friends serve as the sales force, sorters, pricers, and shelvers of the thousands of books that Berkeleyans generously donate.  

Currently, we’re seekers… seekers of new members ($25 a year), seekers of donated books (call 841-5604 for information), seekers of book buyers, and seekers of bookstore volunteers. In fact, if you’ve ever wanted to run a little bookshop, make lots of money for the community, enjoy the company of like-minded bibliophiles, or browse through thousands of books, this is the place for you. (There’s the added benefit of experiencing first-hand, as a merchant, the indescribable Telegraph Avenue scene!) 

For those of you who love the Library and want to work directly for its betterment, please consider joining our good company. Contact the Sather Gate Bookstore at 841-5604 (Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.).  

Jim Novosel  

 

• 

ISRAEL/PALESTINE 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

I would like to suggest that the Palestinians and those who support a free Palestine rethink their approach to opposing Israel. Suicide bombings are counterproductive. They fail to increase support for the Palestinian’s cause and simply lead to more rounds of killing, of Israelis and of Palestinians. As a meaningful alternative I would suggest that the Palestinians embrace a Gandhi Activist Nonviolent Confrontational approach, organizing groups of children and women to sit in front of bulldozers, tanks and army trucks, etc., and see that such protest action appears on TV and Internet sets throughout the world. 

If this strategy is embraced, it would not only end the terrorist killing of Israeli civilians but would most likely, I think and pray, energize international opposition to Israel’s occupation of land that falls on the Palestinian side of the pre-1967 borders. Here in the United States, millions might be motivated to march in opposition to the continued occupation of the Palestinian homeland, much as we marched to oppose racism here at home. Nonviolent confrontational action has historically gathered support for those who sincerely employ this strategy. It is time, past time, to try something new, to embrace a meaningful alternative to terrorism on both sides, Israeli and Palestinian. 

The bottom line should be to find a way to save the lives of children and women on both sides. Simply telling the Palestinians to accept Israel and the borders being imposed by Israel just won’t cut the cake any more than telling the Israelis to forgo their occupation while their women and children are being killed by terrorists. 

Oh yes, I do appreciate that one person’s terrorist may well be another person’s freedom fighter. But this in no way changes the immediate need, namely to end the killing of civilians on both sides, Palestinians and Israelis. 

What do you think? 

Irving Gershenberg 

• 

‘SMALL TRAGEDY’ 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

In his April 28 review of playwright Craig Lucas’ Small Tragedy, now playing at the Aurora Theatre, Ken Bullock writes, “he (Lucas) tries for the big post-9/11 rabbit punch masquerading as moral commentator.” 

In the final scenes, the drama is focused on the conflict of Jen (Carrie Paff) as she tries to decide what to do with her newborn infant. Fifty-five years ago this past weekend (April 30, to be exact) Lucas was abandoned in a car by his birth mother. Viewed as roman a clef, Small Tragedy is neither melodramatic nor moralistic but becomes memoir.  

Joe Kempkes  

Oakland 

 

• 

PUBLIC LIBRARY 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

In regard to the recent no-confidence vote at the Berkeley Public Library, where it has been suggested that we are witness to some sort of union coup attempt or private feud, one way to figure out just what hidden struggles are going on behind the public stories is to look at the probable personal gains or losses to those involved. When I do, I see that the unionized employees seem to have the most to lose in any public discreditization of the library managers and director. Managers in virtually any organization are older and so closer to retirement, and by their ambitious natures are more willing to leave an employer. They have a personal stake in keeping the library going in the short run until they retire or sufficiently impress possible future employers, even if that sacrifices the distant future of those who remain. 

The unionized employees are personally rewarded through a seniority system of salary increases, retirement benefits, and protection from layoffs the longer they stay with the library. The library can only afford to keep them to the extent that Berkeley citizens continue to vote the library money. And surely the two-thirds of the unionized employees who signed the petition must know that such a public action weakens the short-term political position of the library. So I conclude that for the employees to have so risked their futures, they must believe that the director and her managers are indeed destroying the library’s future. 

Sylvia Maderos-Vasquez 

 

• 

LAWN PARKING 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

The “lawn parking” issue represents two of the things wrong with Berkeley. First, in a moment in which everyone agrees that we need to cut down on gasoline use—for political, environmental, and safety reasons—Berkeley is seriously considering pouring more concrete so that the ever-more affluent student body can park its SUVs and Mercedes on the sidewalk (this is not hyperbole, check out Dana Street). Second, the staff who came up with this idea is not accountable to any transparent procedure of accountability. When I asked a City Official about who was held accountable for the recent motorcycle parking idiocy, he smiled tolerantly. Would this count for promotion? He smiled tolerantly. He added that the city manager is not reviewed by the city council even though it is part of their mandate to do so. 

Paul Rabinow 

 

• 

RESPONSE TO GERTZ 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Recently John Gertz wrote “perhaps Berkeley’s Peace and Justice Commission and City Council should call the Palestinians to task for [electing Hamas].” (Daily Planet, April 7.) Now he claims he said no such thing. Perhaps he shares Bush’s touching faith that no one can remember anything, for he goes on to assert in his most recent op-ed that he never packed the Peace and Justice Commission nor threatened Linda Maio.  

Let’s review the record. Last summer, when the Peace and Justice controversy surfaced, a Daily Planet reporter asked Gertz about his alleged involvement. “Corrie was the straw that broke the camel’s back,” Gertz said. “What I have observed is that a lot of people were sick of the commission being run by the lunatic left and some brave people came forward to put a stop to it.” Gertz added, “The real political objective is that Maio is going down and so is Worthington. They refused to rescind their vote on Corrie. That’s it for them. They’re toast.” (Daily Planet, July, 22, 2005.)  

The reporter mentioned that Gertz had not specified how he would ensure Maio’s (or Worthington’s) defeat, so Gertz obligingly wrote to the Daily Planet to lay out his strategy (July 29, 2005). “I predict,” he wrote, “that [Maio’s] anti-Israel record will bring a lot of cash and a lot of volunteers to the cause of her more moderate opponent. Can’t she imagine the literature that will surely be mailed to Berkeley voters showing her picture right next to that now famous picture of Corrie’s contorted face burning the American flag? Does she think that only Berkeley’s Jewish community will care about this?”  

I’ve never suggested Gertz would do anything illegal. But how many of us would run for mayor if we knew in advance we’d have to use most of our funds countering a barrage of hit pieces on a fringe issue most voters know little about? Gertz’s current assertion that he’d “help make [Maio’s and Worthington’s] misguided foreign policy a central issue of the campaign,” is a veiled reminder of his previous naked threat. Yes, Mr. Gertz, unfortunately, “that’s democracy.” But for those of us fed up with the power wealthy special interest groups have over our political choices, it’s also “nefarious.”  

Joanna Graham  

 

• 

OREGON STREET 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Dan McMullan’s hyperventilating about racism notwithstanding (Letters, April 28), most of the folks—white, African American, and other—that I know here on Oregon Street are pretty much opposed to people of any color buying and selling drugs here, and leaving their used condoms and hypodermic needles for our kids to find. We’ve called in many drug deals where the buyers were white frat boys, and also had to chase off the white teenage prostitute who was hanging out here. And for years, the Moores’ drug operation at 1610 Oregon included two quite Caucasian dealers, Charles and David Szakas. My wife overheard Charles boasting about how he’d just gotten out of jail after doing time for armed robbery with a knife, and David was ultimately arrested for possession of drugs inside 1610. He was also observed up the street at the tot lot trying to recruit neighborhood kids to serve as lookouts. My neighbors and I worked closely with the police to get them out of the neighborhood. It’s been my perception that the drug trade around here is pretty colorblind—as is the opposition to it. 

Oh, and as for McMullan’s observation that “a court ruling from Commissioner Rantzman is akin to a lawful order from Adolf Hitler,” he will be interested to learn that Rantzman’s unequivocal ruling against Lenora Moore was echoed by Judge Wynne Carville when the case came to him on appeal, so there’s another Hitlerian judge here in Berkeley! What are the odds?  

Paul Rauber 

 

• 

NASTY NAMES 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Dan McMullan obviously has the rights accorded him under the Constitution to express, in a free press, what he chooses—that’s the beauty of a democracy. 

He can weigh in on the neighborhood conflict around Lenore Moore, can call his fellow residents cold, distant, scary, racists and bigots. He can evoke Adolf Hitler. No problem, Dan. 

But when you’ve used all the nastiest names to describe ordinary people—flawed people who are just trying their best, just as their neighbors are—what will you use to alert us to real threats to our democracy? 

Jill Posener 

 

• 

INCIDENT 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

At about 3:45 p.m. Sunday, April 30, disabled activist Danny McMullen had pulled his motorized wheelchair with a trailer attached into the driveway of People’s Park when he was informed by two police officers that vehicles or carts were not allowed in People’s Park. As Mr. McMullen was using the trailer cart to transport his two sons to the free meal being served by the Catholic Worker, Mr. McMullen refused to move his wheel chair. He was ordered to procure his ID, and when he refused to do this, Officer Uranus, Badge No. 84, put his hand on Mr. Mc Mullen, at which Mr. McMullen ordered the officer to remove his hand, and when the officer did not, Mr. McMullen got up and expectorated upon aforementioned officer, at which he was forced to the ground and handcuffed after a protracted struggle and the arrival of another eight or 10 cops of various stripes. 

Arthur Fonseca 

 

• 

CLARIFIATION 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

There has been some confusion regarding my support for the Downtown Berkeley BART Plaza and Transit Area Design Plan. At this time, I have not endorsed a preferred alternative. Option 4, the “historical transit” alternative, provides a strong pedestrian orientation with sweeping east-west vistas at Center Street while successfully integrating BART with planned dedicated bus lanes. Option 3 also merits serious consideration, as it creates high-quality public open space and significantly improves pedestrian safety at University Avenue and access to BART. The feasibility of modifying Option 3 to accommodate an extended dedicated bus lane should be explored. Option 4 provides additional public open space when combined with Center Street closure east of Shattuck. I am not as impressed by Options 1 and 2. Option 1 is too timid and similar to existing conditions. Option 2 is even more convoluted and confusing than the street layout today. I encourage community members to get involved in the public planning process to help shape the future of Downtown Berkeley. If you ever walk, bicycle, ride the bus, or drive through Downtown Berkeley, we want to know what you think.  

Sarah Syed 

Transportation Commission, Chair 

Downtown Berkeley BART Plaza Community Advisory Committee, Member  

 

• 

UC POLICIES 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

I wonder if other Daily Planet readers caught the ugly irony in the April 25 San Francisco Chronicle between the headline story re UC’s top employees gorging themselves at the public trough and the Nevius column in the Bay Area section on Cal’s crackdown on the free box in People’s Park. There is a connection. 

It’s clear that to UC execs, higher education means two things. One, attaining higher salaries and perks by any means necessary, e.g. enrolling in a compensation plan one doesn’t qualify for (Berkeley Chancellor Birgeneau) and two, upping the cost of a free public education. 

The free box, a small visible gesture of sharing our excess, is still too strong a threat to the system that serves UC administrators so well. Therefore, they have physically destroyed the free box. UC administrators have pledged allegiance to the unfree box for everyone but themselves. 

I hope concerned readers e/write the Berkeley City Council urging them to approve of a free box on city property adjacent to People’s Park as a citizen right unto itself, and as a rebuke to the sweet deals UC execs are gobbling up at taxpayer expense. 

Maris Arnold 

 

• 

IMMIGRATION 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

In the middle of the 19th century, Arizona, California, Texas, New Mexico, Utah, and parts of Colorado were part of the nation of Mexico. Who then are the true immigrants? “Manifest Destiny,” the shameful rationalization for the butchering of Mexicans and Native Americans led to the present day false hubbub about restricting access to our country from especially Mexicans who have a historical right to be here. 

Robert Blau 

 

• 

OIL PROFITS 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

The oil companies are ripping us off, big time. Each quarter, their profits are record profits; meaning that each quarter, their profits are more than ever before. They blame high gas prices on the price of crude oil, but their obscenely high profits show this to be a lie. It is simple greed. 

We need energy independence. That means more investment in solar, wind, and other renewable sources of energy. I don’t trust the oil companies to make those investments, and neither should you. 

We need a retroactive Obscene Profits Tax on the oil companies to redirect funds toward energy independence. 

It is time for Congress to show some political courage. 

Bruce Joffe 

Piedmont 

 


Commentary: ZAB Holds Trader Joe’s Pep Rally

By Regan Richardson
Tuesday May 02, 2006

After attending the April 28 Zoning Adjustments Board (ZAB) meeting and witnessing the sickening and suspiciously euphoric response to the behemoth project proposed at 1950 MLK Way, and after reading the post-meeting “Livable Berkeley” (they may soon want to consider a name-change) blog page, I am compelled to respond. In theory this was supposed to be a substantive ZAB meeting to discuss the mass and height of this project. Thanks to the developer, Hudson McDonald, it actually just turned out to be a pep rally for supporters of Trader Joe’s, alternative transit and even denser housing, staged on public time in a public venue. 

I am a resident of the 1800 block of Berkeley Way, the street most directly affected by this twisted attempt at “smart growth” (or is it “intelligent design”?). I am sick and tired of being told, by neighbors who are less directly affected and developers alike, that we should “get with the program” and embrace “reasonable compromise.” I am one of the original members of a neighborhood group that proactively pursued a dialogue with Panoramic Interests, now under the guise of Hudson McDonald, in October of 2002. Our realistic goal was achieving a neighborhood-appropriate project, thus escaping the viciously cyclical process in which we are now engaged. To all the Livable Berkeley newbies, I say welcome to our world! 

The neighbors of Berkeley Way have never been, nor are we even now opposed, to a project that respects our neighborhood. We have also never maintained that the current strip mall is superior to a mixed-use building. In 2002 Scott Harrison, then a homeowner on Berkeley Way, suggested that we initiate a “constructive” dialogue, our hope being that by voicing neighborhood concerns directly to the developers before the approval process even began, we could rewrite the standard operating procedure for development in Berkeley, and the developer would have a distinct guideline to design a building in keeping with the existing neighborhood.  

We have more than held up our end of the bargain, as evidenced by the Herculean efforts of people like Steve Wollmer and Kristin Leimkuhler, to participate constructively in this process. But it is pretty clear, after four years of ever-increasing redesigns, that Hudson McDonald does not feel any obligation to honor any of our reasonable requests, rather they are choosing to roll the dice and roll ZAB and City Council. At the neighborhood meeting we had with them in July 2005, they suggested that it was time for us to get out of their way and let them get on with it, “it” being the rape of our neighborhood in the name of their profit. Each time Hudson McDonald promises an “improved” project that serves the “common good,” they come back and slap us in the face with a taller, larger, and audaciously detrimental building, their perpetual promise being that they will impose something even worse upon us if we don’t roll over and comply. In my experience, most people don’t respond well to threats to their homes and neighborhood—I know I don’t. 

Had they ever made a genuine attempt to make their building neighborhood-friendly and to respond to our clear, consistent, and reasonable concerns four years ago, we would be happy to cooperate. But by continually pushing their agenda without genuinely responding to our concerns, by displaying blatant disregard for our requests, they have willingly made us into an obstacle when we were trying to be an ally. So now, it’s personal. And they are frustrated?! We find it ironic and not a little galling that they choose to characterize us as a “dedicated group of opponents,” considering that they are responsible for that! 

There is something inherently wrong with a process that puts developers’ profits ahead of protecting the neighborhoods they invade. We have spent countless hours poring over code and debating the particulars of setbacks, density, parking, and detriment, and it is easy to lose sight of the bigger issue here: developers’ refusal to design buildings that fit alongside the small-scale residential neighborhoods they overwhelm, their argument being that they can’t make a profit otherwise. They stretch the existing laws to the breaking point, and we are asked to bear the full burden of their greed. Even the modest concessions imposed on developers based on community and ZAB recommendations are dwarfed by the sacrifices we are expected to make.  

To all you card-carrying Livable Berkeley-ites (again, a name-change will soon be required), Hudson McDonald flunkies and disingenuously recruited Trader Joe’s junkies out there (and from Thursday’s ZAB meeting turnout there seem to be an unhealthy number of you, your checks are in the mail), who clearly buy the company line, that classic American credo that bigger is better, and greed is good, I say the following: Be careful what you wish for. You will certainly get it. Please do not condescend to lecture us on what constitutes acceptable density and congestion in our neighborhood. Berkeley Way is already severely plagued by the failed traffic pattern on MLK and University, with frequent speeding cars attempting to save a few seconds. We will be the ones forced to shoulder the entire burden of this project for your “greater good.” Please do not ask us to buy into your Utopian parking, bicycle, and pedestrian fantasy. You may lead a person to public transit, but you can’t make him ride. 

Berkeley is, and always has been, a “street-car” (now BART) suburb, which is one of its many charms. In 2001 I moved 3,000 miles from Manhattan, where I lived for 13 long years, to Berkeley, specifically to live in a friendly, small-scale residential neighborhood where the sun does not disappear behind a 60-foot wall at 2 p.m. Yet some among us apparently aspire to turn Berkeley, starting with University Avenue and the streets immediately north and south, into a mini-Manhattan by allowing developers like Hudson McDonald to build without restraint. You may foolishly think this is an exaggeration, but having lived for over a decade in an intense urban environment, I respectfully beg to differ. As even you “progress” acolytes must have heard at the Thursday meeting, a substantial number of the apartments in this well-conceived building face dark, narrow, windy corridors and light-wells. I have been there, done that. Congratulations. Manhattan here we come!  

The assertion that mere architectural details will make this five-story building compatible with the existing neighborhood is patently absurd. No matter how the architect dresses it up, this massive 58,800-square-foot Goliath perched atop a 15-foot concrete podium will never a tasteful craftsman cottage make. To those of you who seem so desperately to crave density and excitement, I say move to San Francisco or New York. I have lived in Manhattan, and Berkeley is plenty exciting enough for me. Please don’t insist that we all share your need for “progress.”  

In April 2001 the Berkeley City Council unanimously declared Berkeley Way a “fragile neighborhood” that couldn’t even support the addition of a one-unit apartment and a projected six to seven extra cars at 1825 Berkeley Way. We are curious to know why, four years later, the addition of a possible 156-plus units and, realistically, an additional 100-plus residents’ cars, not to mention the projected 1,300 extra neighborhood car trips per day, is not considered a huge threat to our community. It is not our duty to make Hudson MacDonald’s assault on our neighborhood easier at the expense of our families, our safety, and our right to a livable residential environment and a livable streetscape. We cannot afford million-dollar homes in the hills. This is the only home we may ever rent or own, and this is where we intend to make our stand. While you may be drooling over the prospect of a Trader Joe’s, small streets like Berkeley Way will have to live with this massive project’s ramifications 24 hours a day. 

We do not insist on stasis, as members of Livable Berkeley mistakenly maintain. In case they hadn’t noticed, we are still constructively engaged in this dialogue. They would do well not to take the word of a developer clearly driven solely by economic interests. But this ill-conceived project is not an isolated proposal and will become yet another shameful landmark on the slow slide of Berkeley into a dense, family-hostile, DINK (Double Income No Kids) city. It dwarfs all surrounding commercial and residential buildings along its stretch of University Avenue with the exception of its evil sister—the Golden Bear, squatting malevolently a block up the Avenue.  

Hudson McDonald’s current and previous designs ignore many of the stated objectives of the University Avenue Strategic Plan and this behemoth’s approval effectively guarantees the unchecked construction of oversized developments in small-scale residential neighborhoods throughout Berkeley. This is a watershed issue for the entire city of Berkeley, not a one-block anomaly.  

This is a call to arms to the residents of Berkeley. It is time to stop this true-believer optimism that masquerades under the moniker of “smart growth.” You choose to spend all your time foisting more density in the urban core rather than fighting development in the surrounding suburban counties that are sprouting sub-divisions like a cow pasture sprouts mushrooms after the rain. As obstacles to this bright idea to Manhattan-ize Berkeley, we are clearly in the way of your “progress” to a “brighter day,” when everyone will ride bicycles to the friendly (unless you want to form a union) Trader Joe’s. 

If you care at all about where you live and breathe, it is time to wake up and smell the exhaust fumes, and to hear the warning sirens. They are not just going off in your head, they are going off at the proposed retail parking entrance for Trader Joe’s, “logically” located on a fully residential street called Berkeley Way. If you do not stand up and speak, this type of megabuilding is coming much sooner than you think to a small residential neighborhood near you, maybe yours.  

I urge you to attend the next ZAB meeting on May 11, which will address detriments to the surrounding neighborhood. If you think there won’t be any because you are not right next to this building, think again. Stop this madness, for the future of all the small-scale neighborhoods that are the core of what makes Berkeley Berkeley. The future is now. 

 

Regan Richardson is a Berkeley Way resident..


Commentary: Latini Omnes Sunt

By Thomas Gangale
Tuesday May 02, 2006

Last summer, when California Democratic Party chair Art Torres quipped from the podium, “I’ve been a Latino for most of my life,” he received the laughter his remark was intended to garner. But afterward, I got to thinking—he’s on to something here. Who are the Latinos? 

The concept of Latin America was born of 19th century French imperialism. When Napoleon III decided to extend his empire, his government invented the term Amerique Latine as a propaganda tool. Sure, we’ve invaded your country and have installed Maximilian as our puppet, but it’s OK because we are all Latins. So, it’s quite an historical irony that Mexican-Americans refer to themselves as Latinos, and at the same time celebrate the overthrow of Maximilian on el Cinco de Mayo! 

In any case, today the term Latin America commonly refers to the Americas south of the Rio Grande, including Portuguese-speaking Brazil, and French-speaking Haiti and Guiana. Louisiana and Quebec are generally not included, because they have never been independent countries and are geographically separated from other Romance-language regions of the western hemisphere, but linguistically, there is no reason not to include them. So, all dem Cajuns are Latinos, too, ah yeah! And the Quebecois, eh? 

Who else are Latinos? Well, let’s consider who spoke Latin before anyone else did: the Italians. Sure, no Italian state ever established a colony in the New World, but an Italian did “discover” America to begin with, and the Americas are named after another Italian. Certainly millions of Italians emigrated to the Americas, particularly to the United States and Argentina. I am an Italian-American, and I have many Argentine cousins. There is also a strong Spanish-Italian historical connection; because a Spanish royal family ruled southern Italy for several hundred years, I have Italian cousins named Lopez. And unlike Dan Quayle, I can even speak a little Latin. Italus sum, ergo Latinus sum. 

Can one take the question of who is a Latino too far? I don’t think so. Rather, I believe the mistake is in defining “Latino” too narrowly. The Romans—history’s most successful Latin tribe—were an exclusive society for several centuries, but they achieved their greatest height by embracing many societies. From Britannia to Mauritania to Arabia to Armenia, people proudly called themselves Romans, and many of them spoke Latin, so in a sense, they were Latinos. 

Art Torres is fortunate to have been a Latino for most of his life. I have developed my latinitas much later in life. I celebrate el Cinco de Mayo, or Quintus Maius, and I do so not only because it is a celebration of latinitas, but because—more importantly—it is a celebration of libertas. 

 

San Rafael resident Thomas Gangale is the executive director at OPS-Alaska, a think tank based in Petaluma and an international relations scholar at San Francisco State University.


Columns

Column: Actions We Can Take to Protect our Democracy

By Bob Burnett
Friday May 05, 2006

President Bush’s job approval ratings continue to plummet, as increasing numbers of Americans recognize that the administration has no capacity to deal with the critical issues that confront America. Nonetheless, many citizens despair of the prospects of changing America’s course, so long as George Bush is president. They ask, “What can we do?” to restore democracy to the United States. 

There are a lot of actions Americans can take to change the direction set by the administration. But, first there needs to be a new level of realism about the forms of nonviolent action that can work. It’s important to ask why has the resistance to the war in Iraq been ineffective? 

The obvious answer is that before the invasion, Americans were recovering from collective post-traumatic-stress disorder. We’d had the beejeebers frightened out of us by 9/11. The Bush administration played on this fear. The White House propaganda machine convinced a majority of Americans that Saddam Hussein was allied with Osama bin Laden, was responsible for the attacks, and was an imminent threat to attack again. Over time this false impression eroded. Today, Americans are not as fearful as they were in 2003. And, George Bush is no longer the trusted leader he was at the time he beat the drums for war in Iraq.  

Indeed, there has been such a shift against the war in Iraq that it seems unlikely that Bush can persuade a majority of Americans that an attack on Iran is a good idea, particularly if that attack involves the use of nuclear weapons. 

The next six months are looming as a pivotal period in U.S. history. We’re likely to see a “preemptive” attack on Iran plus an election that determines whether or not the Bush juggernaut will roll on. During this critical interval there are two types of actions that Americans can take to protect our democracy: political and economic. We can take political action to ensure that Democrats regain their majority in the House or Senate and stall the Bush express on Capitol Hill. 

But, there’s also economic direct action: a widespread boycott or a strike. These days Americans are more familiar with the former than the latter. Since July a national boycott against Exxon-Mobil has been gaining momentum. May 1 there was a massive national workers’ boycott supporting immigrant rights. 

Recently, strikes have been relatively rare in the United States. In the past few decades, they’ve usually been local actions associated with trade-union wage and benefit issues. Historically, the general strike has been an effective vehicle for protest. Technically, a general strike is a “widespread stoppage of workers in an attempt to bring the economic life of a given area to a more or less complete standstill in order to achieve certain desired objectives.” 

There hasn’t been a general strike in the United States for more than 50 years. However, within the last decade, there have been effective general strikes in other countries. Nov. 1, 2004, there was a general strike in Ukraine, protesting election fraud—the “Orange Revolution.” And there’ve been numerous examples in France, most recently a general strike protesting a proposed change in the country’s youth employment laws. 

Several conditions combine to produce an effective general strike: a widespread perception that the government, or an industry, has acted unfairly; a broad-based coalition that includes workers as well as activists; and an action focus. In France, the focus has typically been the transportation system. In December 2005, there was a three-day transit strike in New York City that affected millions of commuters and thousands of businesses. 

If political conditions continue as they are—the Iraq occupation drags on, while various Republican outrages are revealed—then progressives should engage in political actions coupled with boycotts of various kinds. These are likely to result in a change in Congress in November. 

However, if President Bush were to do something outrageous, such as use nuclear weapons against Iran, this could become the spark that ignites a general strike. There would be a widespread perception that the White House had acted irrationally, against the common good. This could produce a broad-based coalition that unites workers, activists, and groups aggrieved by the administration, such as immigrants. All that would be needed is an action focus. 

A logical target for a general strike would be commercial transportation, particularly the boat, rail, and truck lines that deal with cargo containers. America is a “just-in-time” society, where many businesses depend upon an uninterrupted steam of deliveries. Even a two-day disruption in the national transportation network would have huge consequences to the economy. This would be noticed not only by the White House and the national media, but also by the commercial power elite. A general strike might goad Wall Street to rein in the White House. It could produce significant change. 

In these perilous times, it’s important to send a clear message to the Bush gang: Americans value democracy and are prepared to defend it. It’s time to get out of our living rooms and into the streets. 

 

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


Column: Undercurrents: Race and Gender in the Oakland Mayoral Race

by J. Douglas Allen-Tayor
Friday May 05, 2006

In an odd passage that perhaps reveals more about his own thoughts than it does about the campaign itself, San Francisco Chronicle staff writer Christopher Heredia gives his version of what Oakland voters may do in the upcoming mayoral race (“Oakland mayor rivals each woo voters in own particular ways,” April 30).  

“More than half of Oakland’s voters are women,” Mr. Heredia writes, “and many of them may well lean toward [Oakland City Councilmember] Nadel. A large percentage are African American, and conventional wisdom has them lining up behind [former U.S. Congressmember Ron] Dellums. The same conventional wisdom has the city’s Latinos, particularly those in [Oakland City Councilmember Ignacio] De La Fuente’s base in the Fruitvale district, voting for the City Council president. So the race,” Mr. Heredia concludes, “may well come down to voters in the Oakland hills, where residents have felt increasingly cut off from city services and attention under Brown.” 

There is considerable confusion generated in this paragraph published in the area’s leading daily newspaper. Mr. Heredia offers no polls or interviews to back up his “may well” and “conventional wisdom” speculations on how women, Latinos, and African-Americans may vote in Oakland. 

But the key item in Mr. Heredia’s speculation is the “voters in the hills” passage. Reading the paragraph again, someone with no knowledge of Oakland might surmise that there are no women, Latinos, or African-Americans living in Oakland’s hills, since Mr. Heredia deals with them elsewhere. Who does that leave, in Mr. Heredia’s mind? Asian-Americans, who make up a significant portion of Oakland residents, but are not mentioned in the Chronicle article? Does he not count them because he has decided that race is voting for race, and there is no Asian-American in the mayoral race? Quién sabe? 

Also unmentioned in the Chronicle article, pointedly, are white folks. Interestingly, while Mr. Heredia thinks that women vote for women, Latinos vote for Latinos, and blacks vote for blacks—at least in the Oakland mayoral race—his inclusions and exclusions in his article leads to the conclusion that he doesn’t think that white folks automatically vote for white folks. Does he only believe that race-based political appeal only applies to the darker races? Or has he noticed that Ms. Nadel is a woman, but has perhaps missed the fact that she is white? 

In any event, race and gender have always played a role in American politics and always will, within our lifetimes. There are probably some Latinos who will vote for Mr. De La Fuente because they believe that the time has come for a Latino mayor in Oakland, just as there are some women who will vote for Ms. Nadel because they believe the same about a woman mayor. But given the enormous political gains for Latinos in California in recent years—the Lieutenant Governor and the mayor of the state’s largest city are both Latino—as well as for women—the two United States Senators from California as well as several Bay Area members of Congress are women—this is less likely to be an issue than it once would have been. 

African-Americans in Oakland have had two double terms of African-American mayors under their belts—Lionel Wilson and Elihu Harris—and in Jerry Brown’s first run for mayor, gave him votes over several black candidates in about the same percentage as the rest of the city. So while race and gender will probably be some factor in the mayoral race, Oakland’s recent history shows us that it probably won’t be the factor. 

Given Oakland’s fairly even division of races and gender, the winning candidate for mayor must pull together a coalition that crosses many lines. There is every indication that the top three candidates, Ms. Nadel, Mr. De La Fuente, and Mr. Dellums—smart politicians all—are each trying to do exactly that. 

But while Mr. Heredia’s article may only serve to obscure what’s going on in the Oakland mayoral race, another recent Chronicle article, that by columnists Philip Matier and Andrew Ross (“Brooks’ City Funds Helped Spur Dellums Run.” May 1), seems deliberately designed to lead us in the wrong direction. 

The Matier & Ross column speculates on whether or not Oakland Sixth District Councilmember Desley Brooks is illegally helping Mr. Dellums’ mayoral campaign with city funds. You can read it for yourself, and draw your own conclusions. My attention was drawn to a passage near the bottom that read: “[Oakland Black] Caucus leaders—along with the Service Employees International Union—… organize[d] a “Draft Ron Dellums” table last summer at a series of concerts at Arroyo Viejo Park in Oakland. 

The series was hosted by Brooks, and was paid for with nearly $20,000 from her staff account, according to city records.” Reading that passage in the context of the rest of the column, the impression is given—intentionally, one would guess—that the Arroyo Viejo concerts were set up to promote Dellums’ candidacy, and were assisted with $20,000 in city money through Ms. Brooks’ office. 

A history lesson is in order. 

The Arroyo Viejo free concerts were put together by Ms. Brooks in the summer of 2005 when East Oakland was in the midst of both the sideshow hysteria and another murder surge, during which many city officials as well as private citizens were convinced that East Oakland African-Americans could not gather for large social events without accompanying violence. Ms. Brooks decided that it was one of her duties, as an East Oakland City Council representative, to change that reality and reverse those attitudes. And so she sponsored a series of four mid-summer, outdoor free music concerts with the help of Oakland hip hop music producer D’wayne Wiggins. 

It was an enormous risk for Ms. Brooks to take, because she was out on her own on this project, and if violence had erupted—as, say, occurred at the earlier festival at the lake or several Carijama festivals—the councilmember would have certainly been blasted for “irresponsibility” in the local press, including the Chronicle. 

Instead, the four concerts were both peaceful—odd, isn’t it, that we have to always mention that when talking about black folks getting together in Oakland—as well as highly successful. In an UnderCurrents column that summer I wrote that “for two successive Sundays in late July and early August, … mostly-black families spread out blankets and set up lawn chairs and umbrellas and canopies, ate barbecue and drank red soda water (a Texas thing, sure-enough), and listened to the old school R&B sounds of Rose Royce, one week, and then Oakland’s own Lenny Williams, the week after. … And in some six hours of events over the two days, the only argument I heard was over whether Randy Moss is going to make a difference with the Raiders.” 

Oakland police, who had a heavy presence at the first of the four concerts, were almost nonexistent at the park by the fourth, realizing that Ms. Brooks and Mr. Wiggins knew what they were doing, and had things well in hand. Much of the security, instead, was handled by Nation of Islam personnel. 

And far from being a campaign event organized for Ron Dellums, you could hardly call the 2005 Arroyo Viejo concerts a campaign event for Ms. Brooks herself, even though she knew she was probably facing opposition in her 2006 re-election campaign. Aside from a banner with her name on it on the bandstand, and a brief talk by Ms. Brooks thanking people for coming, the councilmember took a decided backseat during the concerts, knowing that folks had come out to see the musical performances, not her.  

As for the Dellums table, the SEIU and Oakland Black Caucus folks were there gathering signatures asking Mr. Dellums to run for mayor, true, but in the summer of 2005 they were doing that everywhere Oaklanders were gathered, including the City of Oakland-sponsored Art & Soul Festival at Frank Ogawa Plaza that year. Unless you believe that Councilmembers De La Fuente and Nadel were appropriating money for the Art & Soul Festival in order to convince Mr. Dellums to run for mayor, you have to conclude that the SEIU organizers and the Black Caucus members were only taking advantage of public gatherings, and whether or not city money was used for such events is not an issue.  

In that context, spending $20,000 of City of Oakland money on Councilmember Brooks’ 2005 Arroyo Viejo free concerts is only a misappropriation if you think fostering a stable African-American community shouldn’t be one of the foundations of Oakland City policy. Clearly, there are some people who believe that. 

Q


East Bay: Then and Now: When Ratcliff Was City Architect

By Daniella Thompson
Friday May 05, 2006

City architect in Berkeley? Like the farms, this office is a thing of the past. The position existed for only eight years—from 1913 to 1921—and was occupied by a single person: Walter Harris Ratcliff, Jr. (1881–1973). 

At the time of his appointment, Ratcliff had been a licensed architect for just seven years, but he had been designing houses since 1901 and had over 80 buildings to his credit, including commissioned and speculative single-family residences of every stripe, a warehouse, and several apartment buildings. 

But experience wasn’t all that Ratcliff had going for him. The architect was extremely well connected in the business community and particularly close to real-estate developer Duncan McDuffie who, influenced by Frederick Law Olmsted, was creating spacious, leafy subdivisions like Claremont Park, Claremont Court, and Northbrae in Berkeley and St. Francis Wood in San Francisco. These were the ideal settings for Ratcliff’s English-style houses, which were prized for their elegance, comfort, and attention to detail. 

Ratcliff’s first assignment as city architect was the design of four new fire stations. Since they were all sited in residential neighborhoods, the architect was particularly attentive to their scale and style. The firehouses resembled Italian palazzi in miniature, featuring an arched porte cochère or two on the ground floor and a row of smaller arched windows on the second. 

Of these four stylish buildings, the only survivor stands at 2911 Claremont Ave., where it is very much at ease in its current role as an art gallery. The porte cochère has given way to a display window, but the only other visible change (not for the better, alas) is the loss of the small-paned arched windows in the polygonal bay facing west. 

In 1915, a Berkeley bond measure raised funds for five new public schools. Ratcliff handed four of the commissions to trusted architects—Ernest Coxhead (Garfield); James Plachek (John Muir); Hobart & Cheney (Willard); and Walter Reed (Burbank)—designing the fifth, Edison Junior High School, himself. A stately brick building with stone facings around the copious windows and balustrades spaced along the roof parapets, the Edison school in its heyday recalled an English baronial house. Deemed seismically unsafe, it no longer serves as a school. 

The similar-looking Lincoln School (now Malcolm X), completed in 1920 at 1731 Prince St., has been retrofitted to comply with the Field Act, receiving some design modifications along the way. Ratcliff’s third school, the stucco-clad Hillside School at 1581 Le Roy Ave. (1925), was abandoned by the school board and faces an uncertain future. His fourth, the modest, Mediterranean-style Cragmont School (1926), was demolished and replaced with a striking modern building. 

Another English-style civic building designed by Ratcliff is the city’s Corporation Yard at 1326 Allston Way. Slated for demolition a few years ago, the building, now a designated landmark, is still in use. 

During his tenure as City Architect, Ratcliff continued his prolific private practice. While still a student, he and his Cal friend Charles L. McFarland went into speculative home building, financed in the early days by their parents. By 1912 they had founded Alameda County Home Builders, Inc., which would evolve into Fidelity Mortgage Securities Co. and, in 1921, into Fidelity Guaranty Building and Loan Association. 

The Ratcliff-designed Fidelity building at 2323 Shattuck Ave. (now Citibank) is undoubtedly the most beautiful bank ever built in Berkeley. Like the fire stations, it draws inspiration from Italian Renaissance architecture, and its oversized arches lend a touch of grace to the bedraggled avenue. 

Alameda County Home Builders’ speculative ventures came in all sizes and prices. In the early 1910s, the construction cost of its two-story homes in upscale locations ranged from $4,500 to $5,000. These were one-of-a-kind individual designs, but in 1919 Ratcliff and McFarland built a cluster of modest homes at the intersection of Milvia and Carleton Streets. 

The seven bungalows, uniformly described in the building permits as “1-story, 6-room residence, plaster,” came in four models, all costing $3,000. They are arranged in a T, with two identical pairs facing each other on Milvia and three other houses flanking them along Carleton. They must have been charming when new. 

Among the Ratcliff signature motifs that can still be spotted here and there are arched doors, French windows, and roofs with rounded edges that simulate the thatch of English country cottages. Sadly, only one of the seven houses preserves all its original features. 

While he was city architect, Ratcliff was among the opinion makers (McDuffie was another) who persuaded the City Council to create the Arts Commission, an early municipal body charged with planning and zoning decisions. Ironically, it was a clash with this body that brought about the end of Ratcliff’s civic employment and the abolition of the City Architect position. 

In 1920, a new plan was devised for developing the area around Solano Avenue. It superseded McDuffie’s original layout for the area, which would have preserved the open creeks as public parkland. The proponents of the new plan preferred to culvert the creeks so as to make more space available for development. Ever eager to increase tax revenue, the city administration supported this scheme. Ratcliff and McDuffie argued in vain before the Arts Commission. Shortly thereafter, the City Council repealed the ordinance that had created the position of city architect. 

Ratcliff went on to design commercial and institutional buildings that mark our downtown to this day. Among them are Berkeley’s first skyscraper, the Chamber of Commerce Building (now the Wells Fargo Building.) at Shattuck and Center; Armstrong College on Harold Way; the Mason McDuffie Building (now Scandinavian Designs) at Shattuck and Addison; and the Richfield Oil Service Station (now University Garage) on Oxford Street. These stand as a testament to the architect’s abiding concern for the well-being and beautification of Berkeley. 

 

 

Berkeley Architectural Heritage Spring House Tour & Garden Reception 

Sunday, May 7, 2006 – 1 to 5 p.m.  

Eleven charming and elegant homes designed by Walter H. Ratcliff, Jr. in Claremont Park. General admission $35; BAHA members and guests $25. The ticket booth will open at noon at the corner of The Uplands and Encina Place. For more information, see www.berkeleyheritage.com. 

 

Photograph by Daniella Thompson 

This perfectly preserved bungalow at 1941 Carleton St. was one of a group of seven erected by Ratcliff’s development company in 1919. .


About the House: Whether or Not to Shut Off The Gas

By Matt Cantor
Friday May 05, 2006

I was speaking as a guest of my friend Howard at a local senior center the other day when a fellow stood up and told me that he did not agree with my position on the very contentious issue of whether to turn your gas off in your house after an earthquake. 

I tried to steady myself but I don’t do well with confrontation. I’ll not be running for public office any time soon. I made a face that probably looked something like a dead fish and stood silent as he shook his finger at me. Well, he’s entitled. It’s a touchy issue and I respect my learned opponents position on the issues (Look!, now I’m running for office). 

Let me back up a bit because some of you are sure to be completely confused at this point. One day this lovely East Bay of ours is going to have a whole lotta shakin’ goin’ on and one of the things that is going to shake is gas piping. 

More to the point, all the things that are connected to the gas piping are going to shake and some of those things are going to move. When they do, some of them will tear open gas lines and let the gas out. This is what burned down most of the houses that caught fire in the Northridge earthquake and apparently in the 1906 one as well. 

P.G. & E. says that you should not turn off your gas as a rote matter, although I assume they do not mean to say that when your gas is leaking that you should let it run. I assume (please call them for clarification on this because I would like them to get 20,000 calls on the issue) that they mean to say that you should only turn off the gas to your home if you have smelled gas and not simply because there has been a big earthquake. I take issue with this position and I fear that it is largely self serving. 

Basically, they just don’t have the man-power (or woman-power, hear us all roar) to get out and turn Mrs. Fershshmukles gas back on after she’s turned it off and they know it. Personally, I don’t blame them for the lack of personnel and believe that another solution should be sought and that the solution not be to leave the gas on. I’ll get to that part later but for now, I’d like to see if I can convince you of my position on this issue. 

Los Angeles now requires the installation of an automatic seismic gas shutoff valve on the gas main of every home that sells there. It’s a point-of-sale requirement. Those are hard to pass and it must have been a big fight but the point is that they did it. This means that every home that has one of these things is not only going to have the gas shut off. It also means that the valve will have to be reset. It’s actually more complex to get the stove lit again than if you just turned it off at the main but hey, I’m not arguing. I think it’s great. Nonetheless, the point is that L.A. thinks P.G. & E. is wrong. 

They want the gas turned off when there is an earthquake without asking if there’s a leak. Now the only part of this that might not be in conflict, and I’d love for P.G. & E. to take this as their position, is that one might turn off their gas if there has been only a tiny shake or if they were too far away from the epicenter for it to have had much impact. They were just scared. The problem is that it’s just too hard for us to tell people when that is. We don’t have seismographs on our houses and we have to act quickly and based on the available data. 

It is very likely that our earthquake, when it comes, will result in tumbling water heaters, sliding dryers and broken gas pipes. It is also likely that we will suffer more from fires than from structural failures. 

It is my strongly held belief that everyone should have one of these inventive devices attached to their house so that they don’t suffer the consequences of a gas explosion or fire. Additionally, every person that does this is one less to contribute the overall outbreak of fire in our dear hillside. 

So here are a couple of the solutions as promised: The first is a mass effort to educate everyone on how to look for leaks and how to relight appliances. If we work together, block by block, we can get all the Mrs. Fershshmukles’ gas back on in a few days. 

Checking for gas is not arcane or complex. It involves thoughtful inspection before and after the gas is turned on. It involves checking under the house and everywhere the gas line runs. It also involves lighting pilot lights where they still exist.  

One reason that I think that the concern over turning the gas off and back on again is that, today, most gas appliances don’t require lighting of pilots. Most furnaces, dryers, stoves and gas fireplaces don’t have pilots any longer. Some old heaters and stove still do but they’re not very hard to light and we should all know how to do this. 

A 12-year-old could learn this. Most water heaters do need to be relit and most have a set of instructions on the front face showing the process. Again, it’s not that hard. Certainly there are risks on this end of the equation but it’s a no brainer for me that the gas should be shut off if we’re experiencing a lot of shaking. Most of the water heaters I see aren’t properly braced if they’ve been braced at all and that’s only the most likely point for a break.  

Here’s a last thought for today. Automatic seismic gas shutoff valves installed on a custom basis aren’t terribly expensive but just imagine if they were installed inside of your gas meter. I wonder how much we would have to pay to have these installed en mass inside PG&E’s meter as a part of the meter manufacturing process. Perhaps it would add another $20 to each meter but I think it might even be cheaper than that; they’re very simple devices. 

I for one would be happy to pay P.G. & E. to swap out my meter for one that contained such a device. How about you? 

 

 

Got a question about home repairs and inspections? Send them to Matt Cantor, in care of East Bay Real Estate, at realestate@berkeleydailyplanet.com.


Garden Variety: Finding Spring Flower Resources At Annie’s

By Ron Sullivan
Friday May 05, 2006

A sunny morning spent at Annie’s Annuals and Perennials is worth the trip to Richmond, and a good way to celebrate the belated arrival of spring.  

Annie’s is already well known from its handsome, innovative labels on retailers’ plant displays. These include a picture of the mature plant or its flower and a short story—where it came from, its family, how Annie’s acquired it—and care instructions. For those who garden by eye, they’re a godsend, and I’d bet they bless retailers with good sell-through rates too. 

The business, wholesale and retail, has bounced or been bounced from several locations starting with the backyard of founder Annie Hayes. Even then, it wasn’t all annuals, but the name was irresistible. In fact, there are two Annies; propagator Anni Jensen brings in new plants from all over the world, never neglecting our own back yard. Annie’s is one of my favorite sources of California natives. 

Back yards play a more literal role, as every new plant has at least a season or two of trial growing in the garden of Annie or Anni or an associate. This would be one reason the plants consistently prosper even for me, the exemplar of bad-habit gardeners. Seedlings from Annie’s often look small compared to other wholesalers’. This might be a reason they make themselves at home so well after planting: their roots are still ambitious about spreading into new soil, and they haven’t been cramped by pot life. 

I don’t go up there for cheap plants; the nursery sells to retail customers at retail prices, and these aren’t the cheapest around. They are economical, though, because they survive, and they’re not the same old marigolds besides. In fact, I was tempted by the one marigold I saw, a jolly striped pinwheel, though to me marigolds are strictly snail chow.  

The Annies love our natives, and sell several species of Calochortus, the genus that includes the gorgeous mariposa tulips and fairy lanterns. (The endemic C. pulchellus globe lilies in Mitchell Canyon on Mount Diablo are blooming now—rush right out!) They’re also fond of traditional cottage garden posies, and indeed I saw love-lies-bleeding and kiss-me-over-the-garden-gate there last week.  

They’re no more able than I am to resist the weird and charming plants from places like the South African fynbos or the Canary Islands. Their playful, gorgeous demonstration gardens and pots are equal parts “Yum!” and “What on Earth?”  

That’s no surprise from people who proudly call themselves “Flower Floozies.” In case there’s any doubt, floozies have firm principles: no wildland invasives, no junk, lots of teaching including via Anni Jensen’s mostly unirrigated home garden, featured in the Bringing back the Natives tour. 

Apparently their principles make for a good workplace, too. A young woman at a propagating table said privately she loves the work there, and the most frequent sound I heard was laughter. The workers that don’t show up in poor conditions—bushtits, finches, several butterfly species—were there in abundance too, blessing the industrial Richmond-San-Pablo border with natural grace. 

Don’t miss the Mother’s Day party, May 13 and 14! 

 

Annie’s Annuals and Perennials 

Market Street, Richmond, west of Rumrill; no visible address, but there is a big sign. 

Wed.—Sun. 10 a.m.–4 p.m. 

215-1671 

Mail order and directions: 

www.anniesannuals.com 

 

Ron Sullivan is a former professional gardener and arborist. Her “Garden Variety” column appears every Friday in East Bay Home & Real Estate. Her column on East Bay trees appears every other Tuesday in the Berkeley Daily Planet.?


Column: New From the Home Page Of the Fallen Warriors

By Susan Parker
Tuesday May 02, 2006

Two weeks ago I wrote a column about receiving a solicitation in the mail to join the United States Navy. In the letter the Navy promised me training on the world’s most advanced equipment, a debt-free education, full benefits, outstanding medical coverage, a competitive edge in the civilian job market, and no “money hassles.” 

Their words were enticing, and the small color photographs embedded in the letter provocative: a guy in a uniform saluting at me, and a couple of big battleships plowing confidently through a calm blue ocean. 

Although I knew the Navy had made a mistake soliciting me, a 54-year-old woman with no interest in going to sea in a large boat, I did think quite a bit about the contents of their missive. Why did they assume I was someone with a “vision of college and success that is different than most people’s”? 

How did they figure out I was a curious person “looking for something more”? 

I thought about contacting someone who could give me insight into the Navy way of thinking, but I know only one individual currently in the military. 

My cousin Sally is a lawyer in the U.S. Air Force, counsel to a United States general stationed in Turkey. She would be difficult to get in touch with, and her career has been somewhat unconventional. Before attending law school and signing up for military duty, she was an undercover cop specializing in prostitution and drug trafficking. 

I thought about the people I knew who were retired military personnel: my father who was in the army for two years 62 years ago, my Aunt Dottie and Aunt Peggy who served during World War II, a cousin who was a helicopter gunner in Vietnam and another cousin who, at 43, is already retired and presently working for a civilian contractor in Afghanistan. 

Not one of them had been in the Navy. Then I remembered a cousin-once-removed who had recently jumped ship in San Diego and was rumored to be a fashion model in Milan. 

Obviously, I was not going to get in touch with him. 

That left only one person for me to talk with: my neighbor, James, who served in the Navy for seven years during the 1960s. I caught up with him while he was taking a break from mowing his perfect lawn. I showed him the letter I had received from the Navy. He scanned it. 

“What a bunch of bullshit,” he said. 

“How’s that?” I asked. 

“It’s a bunch of shit,” he repeated. 

“You were in the Navy, right?” 

“Yep.” 

“In Vietnam?” 

“Yep.” 

“On a ship along the coast?” 

“Hell no. They made us put on big boots, dropped us off on a beach and sent us marching.” 

James raised his shirt and the white T-shirt underneath it to reveal a large scar across his belly. 

“That’s what I brought back from Vietnam,” he said. “Stepped on a land mine, flew 15 feet up in the air and thought I was dead. But I don’t want to talk about it.” 

We were silent for a moment. I was thinking about James flipping through 15 feet of jungle. James may have been thinking about his grass. 

“Any thoughts on what a young kid receiving a letter like this should do?” 

“Nothin’,” said James. “I didn’t know nothin’ ‘bout Vietnam when I joined the Navy. Didn’t know where it was, why I was sent there, or what we were fightin’ for. Same thing is goin’ on in Iraq right now. Nobody knows what the fight is about or why they’re there. I’d stay out of it if I was you.” 

Then James went back to mowing his lawn and I returned to my house and Googled “Navy dead in Iraq.” Up came the following webpage: www.defendamerica.mil in which a list of “Fallen Warriors” emerged. I counted the names: 45 Navy personnel dead in and around Iraq between March 2003 and April 2, 2006; the oldest age 46, the youngest, only 20.›


The Not-So-Sweet Life of the Lemon Tree

By Ron Sullivan Special to the Planet
Tuesday May 02, 2006

Lemon tree very pretty  

And the lemon flower is sweet, 

But the fruit of the poor lemon 

Is impossible to eat. 

 

It’s a slander of course, but I do remember Trini Lopez singing the song on the radio way back when. I remember hearing covers from Peter Paul and Mary and one of my schoolmates, too— catchy tune. At least it wasn’t “Banana Boat,” a song with a recurring “Deo” (or “Day-o”) upon which a pretentious or inebriated singer could get stuck for long minutes.  

Lemon trees like our climate just fine, which is fortunate because we like lemons just fine too, as a rule. Yes, there are a few on the streets, and there are more in yards and gardens. Aside from their nice fruit, they look handsome and atmospheric in Mediterranean-style settings, with adobe, stucco, or tiled surfaces. They’ll do fine in a big pot, too, and tolerate frequent pruning for size control. And their blooms do smell lovely, a great asset in a courtyard or small garden.  

One group of them that I know personally, because they live outside a veterinary clinic we frequent, get pruned rather cruelly into a forced tight shape and are barely recognizable as lemon trees. As a result of this and other hard bits of their lives, like their situation on a busy street and jammed into sidewalk wells, they seem prone to the diseases and disorders that can plague citrus trees here: infestations by scale insects, aphids and other bugs, black mold and mildew, and the ravages of snails. Snails will eat new leaves and even fruit and bark from lemons, enough to kill the trees sometimes.  

I have heard of citrus hedges, and seen a few, but they need good air circulation and attention—looking for bugs and mold and hosing down in summer to get rid of them—to thrive. 

Another problem those poor sidewalk trees have to cope with is the clay and sidewalk combo. They need good drainage, as do all citrus.  

We once moved into a flat in the Potter Creek drainage with an orange tree out back. I was ignorant enough about trees back then not to recognize that it was declining; it died within a few years and I felt guilty. We hung it with birdfeeders and windchimes, and one day decided to saw off a branch that had become snagged in a live and spreading eugenia next to it. It was rather a shock, like waking up to find yourself in a Bugs Bunny cartoon, when Joe sawed off the dead branch and braced to catch it, and instead the branch stayed suspended in the eugenia and the dead orange fell over.  

What we found at its base was a hole full of stinking water and a rotted-through stump. Mystery solved and no more guilt.  

One impediment to pruning, snagging snails, and even picking lemons is that the trees often sport big green thorns. In my experience, they don’t “heal” well from big pruning cuts, either, so if you have one it’s a good idea to set its shape early in its life and then control size by making smaller cuts frequently. Don’t shear it, though, unless you want an impenetrable thorny mass of blackened, puckered leaves in a year or two or you’re ready to give it the attention a hedge needs. 

If you’re planting a lemon for fruit, note the prices of Meyer lemons in the market and that that hybrid/cultivar is a prolific bearer here. It’s also cold-tolerant as lemons go, probably owing to its orange or mandarin parentage. (There are conflicting stories about which it is, and most writers on the subject just admit they don’t know.)  

You might want to put it where it’s protected from human poaching, too. A friend of mine swaps her Meyer lemons around to friends and other gardeners, and donates some to an elders’ food pantry. This year she can’t give her lemon tree as much attention as usual, and lately she’s found that someone’s been ripping off lemons, and in rather a careless fashion that damages the tree too. Human behavior can taste a lot more bitter than lemons.  

 

Photograph by: Ron Sullivan 

This beleaguered street tree manages to bear flowers and fruit: one lonely little lemon.


Arts & Events

Arts Calendar

Friday May 05, 2006

FRIDAY, MAY 5 

CHILDREN 

“East of the Sun, West of the Moon” by the Montessori Family School in collaboration with Vector Theater at 7:30 p.m. at the Julia Morgan Center for the Arts, 2640 College Ave. Tickets are $7-$12 at the door.  

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with Ballet Folklorico Mexicano de Carlos Moreno at 3:30 p.m. at Habitot, 2065 Kittredge St. Free. 647-1111. 

THEATER 

Actors Ensemble of Berkeley “The Devil’s Disciple” by G.B. Shaw, Fri. and Sat. at 8 p.m. at Live Oak Theater, 1301 Shattuck Ave. Tickets are $12. 649-5999. www.aeofberkeley.org 

Aurora Theatre “Small Tragedy” Wed.-Sat at 8 p.m., Sun. at 2 and 7 p.m. at 2081 Addison St., through May 14. Tickets are $38. 843-4822.  

Berkeley Rep “The Glass Menagerie” at 8 p.m. at the Thrust Stage, 2025 Addison St. Tickets are $59. Runs through June 18. 647-2949.  

Contra Costa Civic Theater “Animal Crackers” at 8 p.m. Fri and Sat., and Sun. at 2 p.m. at Contra Costa Civic Theater, 951 Pomona Ave., El Cerrito, through May 20. Tickets are $12-$20. 524-9132.  

Impact Theater “Money & Run Episode 4: Go Straight, No Chaser,” Thurs.-Sat. at 8 p.m. at La Val’s Subterranean, 1834 Euclid Ave. Cost is $10-$15. 464-4468. 

Masquers Playhouse “Relative Values” by Noel Coward. Fri. and Sat. at 8 p.m. at 105 Park Place, Point Richmond, through May 6. Tickets are $15. 232-4031. www.masquers.org 

Subterranean Shakespeare “Richard III” Thurs.-Sat. at 8 p.m. at Berkeley Art Center, 1275 Walnut St., through May. 20. Tickets are $12-$17. 276-3871. 

EXHIBITIONS 

New Work by Ben Belknap and Crystal Morey, figurative ceramic sculptors. Opening reception at 7 p.m. at Boontling Gallery 4224 Telegraph Ave., Oakland. www.boontlinggallery.com  

“Elsewhere: Places for the Spirit” Oil paintings by Trish Booth opens with a reception at 5 p.m. at Esteban Sabar Gallery, 480 23rd St., Oakland. 444-7411. www.estebansabar.com 

“Real and Imaginary” paintings by Bethany Ayres opens with a reception at 5 p.m. at Esteban Sabar Gallery, 480 23rd St., Oakland. 444-7411.  

“Cats and Fish” Group art show opens at 7 p.m. at WoW Art Gallery, 3721 Grand Ave. 419-0343. 

FILM 

Queer to Eternity Film Festival at 7 p.m. and May 6 at 2 p.m. at Pacific School of Religion, 1798 Scenic Ave. 849-8206. www.clgs.org 

A Tribute to Jean-Claude Carrière: “Diary of a Chambermaid” at 7 p.m. “The Milky Way” at 9 p.m. at the Pacific Film Archive. Cost is $4-$8. 642-0808.  

READINGS AND LECTURES 

Andrew Ross discusses “Fast Boat to China: Corporate Flight and the Consequences of Free Trade” at 12:30 p.m. at Cody’s Books. 845-7852.  

“From Ike to Mao and Beyond: My Journey from Mainstream America to Revolutionary Communist” read by community members at 4:30 p.m. at Revolution Books, 2426 Channing Way, under the Sather Gate Garage. 848-1196. 

“Hip Hop’s Impact on the American Family” with Adisa Banjoko, Tamara Palmer, T-Kash, Eric Arnold and others at 7:30 p.m. at at Cody’s Books. 845-7852.  

MUSIC AND DANCE 

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago at 8 p.m. at Zellerbach Hall, UC Campus. Tickets are $30-$52. 642-9988.  

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

Miriam Abramowitsch, mezzo-soprano, George Barth, piano, at 8 p.m. at Giorgi Gallery, 2911 Claremont Ave. Cost is $12. 848-1228.  

Lavay Smith at 8:30 p.m. at the Uptown Nightclub, 1928 Telegraph, Oakland. Cost is $15. 451-8100.  

Domeshot, Sleep in Fame, Maxwell Adams, Almost Dead at 8:30 p.m. at Blakes on Telegraph. Cost is $8-$10. 848-0886.  

Cinco de Mayo Pachucada Celebration at 8:30 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $8-$15. 849-2568.  

Pamela Rose and her Quartet at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island. Cost is $7. 841-JAZZ.  

Swingthing at 9 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Swing dance lesson at 8 p.m. Cost is $11-$13. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

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

Norton Buffalo & Friends at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $17.50-$18.50. 548-1761.  

Dave Bernstein Trio at 9 p.m. at Downtown. 649-3810.  

Abel Mouton, Eric Marshall and Genna Giacobassi, singer-songwriters, at 7:30 p.m. at Nomad Cafe, 6500 Shattuck Ave. 595-5344.  

Boatclub, Go Going Gone Girls, Bunny Numpkins at 9:30 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $6. 841-2082.  

Shotwell 25 at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 848-8277. 

Albino, heavy Afro-beat, at 9:30 p.m. at Shattuck Down Low. Cost is $8. 548-1159.  

Suzanna Choffel at 8:30 p.m. at Epic Arts, 1923 Ashby Ave. Cost is $5-$10. 644-2204.  

SATURDAY, MAY 6 

EXHIBITIONS 

Piecemakers Quilting Guild Legacies of Love Quilting Show with 250 quilts on display, Sat. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sun. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Hayward Centennial Hall, 22292 Foothill Blvd., Hayward. Tickets are $6-$8 at the door. www.piecemakersguild.org 

I Madé Moja, works by the Balinese artist opens at 4 p.m. at Désa Arts, 4810 Telegraph Ave. 595-1669. 

“Behind the Magic: 50 Years of Disneyland” Exhibition opens at the Oakland Museum of California, 10th and Oak Sts., 238-2200. 

FILM 

A Tribute to Jean-Claude Carrière: “The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie” at 6:30 p.m. “The Phantom of Liberty” at 8:30 p.m. at the Pacific Film Archive. Cost is $4-$8. 642-0808. www.bampfa.berkeley.edu 

READINGS AND LECTURES 

“Has Digital Photography Killed Ansel Adams?” a lecture on the future of black and white photography by Andrea McLaughlin at 2 p.m. at Berkeley Public Library, 2090 Kittredge St. 981-6100. 

“Drawn Together by Line” Gallery talk with the artists Nora Pauwels, Ann Stoeher and Livia Stein, at 2 p.m. at Kala Art Institute, 1060 Heinz Ave. 549-2977. 

Ken Croswell, astronomer, introduces photographs of every planet orbiting the sun in “Ten Worlds” at 7:30 p.m. at Cody’s Books on Telegraph. 845-7852.  

Bay Area Poets Coalition holds an open reading from 3 to 5 p.m., at Strawberry Creek Lodge, 1320 Addison St. Park on the street, not in Lodge parking lot. Free. 527-9905. 

MUSIC AND DANCE 

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago at 8 p.m. at Zellerbach Hall, UC Campus. Tickets are $30-$52. 642-9988.  

Mozart for Mutts and Meows, members of the Midsummer Mozart Festival perform in a benefit for the Berkeley-East Bay Humane Society at 7 p.m. at the Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant Ave. Tickets are $75. 845-7735, ext. 19.  

Berkeley Community Chorus and Orchestra presents the Beethoven Mass in C Major, Faure Pavane for Chorus and other musical highlights at 8 p.m. at Saint Joseph The Worker Church, 1640 Addison St. Free admission, donations always welcome. www.bcco.org  

Kairos Youth Choir “We Travel Along, Singin’ Our Song ... SIide by Side” at 7 p.m. at Longfellow School Auditorium, 1500 Derby St. Tickets are $8-$12. 704-4479. 

sfSoundGroup performs music of Cage, Webern, Kagel, Grisey, Ingalls and Bithell at 8 p.m. at Trinity Chapel, 2320 Dana St. bet. Durant and Bancroft. Tickets are $12-$18. 549-3864.  

Healing Muses “The Flame of Love, The Legend of Tristan and Iseult“ at 8 p.m. at St. Alban’s Episcopal Church, 1501 Washington St., Albany. Tickets are $15-$18. Resevations recommended. Not wheelchair accessible. 524-5661.  

University Symphony Orchestra “Prokofiev Piano Concerto” at 8 p.m. at Hertz Hall, UC Campus. Tickets are $3-$10. 642-4864. www.calperfs.berkeley.edu 

Persephene’s Bees, Boyjazz, Outline Kit at 8 p.m. at the Uptown Nightclub, 1928 Telegraph, Oakland. Cost is $8. 451-8100.  

Steve Seskin and Allen Shamblin at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $18.50-$19.50. 548-1761.  

Rockin’ Jalapeño Pachuco Party at 9:30 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $8-$12. 849-2568. www.lapena.org  

Fourtet Jazz Group at 9:30 p.m. at Albatross, 1822 San Pablo Ave. Cost is $3. 843-2473.  

The Youngs, Brian Kenney Fresno, Salane and Friends at 9:30 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $6. 841-2082.  

Hanif & the Jazz Voyagers at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island. Cost is $7. 841-JAZZ. 

The Snake Trio at 8 p.m. at the Jazzschool. Cost is $12-$15. 845-5373.  

Times 4 at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 848-8277. 

Mario Desio, Vamessa Lowe & Ira Marlowe at 8 p.m. at Spuds Pizza, 3290 Adeline St. Cost is $7-$10. 558-0881. 

Berkeley Old TIme Music Convention Family dance at 7 p.m. followed by concert with Thompson’s String Ticklers and the Squirrelly Stringband at 8 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $12 adutls, $6 ages 12-18, under 12 free. 525-5054.  

Inspect Her Gadget, Element 94, Red Horizon, Normal Like You, all ages show at 7 p.m. at the Oakland Metro, 201 Broadway at 2nd St., Oakland. Cost is $10.  

Kurt Huget and Kirk Keeler, singer-songwriters, at 7:30 p.m. at Nomad Cafe, 6500 Shattuck Ave. 595-5344.  

Sotaque Baiano at 9 p.m. at Shattuck Down Low. Cost is $10-$12. 548-1159. 

Anxious Me, Aratic, 5 Star Rising at 8:30 p.m. at Blakes on Telegraph. Cost is $8-$10. 848-0886.  

Teenage Harlets, Ashtray, Insurgence, Static Revolution at 8 p.m. at 924 Gilman St. Cost is $7. 525-9926. 

SUNDAY, MAY 7 

CHILDREN  

“Flower Tower” children’s music by The Sippy Cups at 12:30 and 3 p.m. at Julia Morgan Center for the Arts, 2640 College Ave. Tickets are $10.50-$12.50. 925-798-1300. 

Jean White Children’s Show, with Steve Mann & Bruce Popocat at 4 p.m. at Spuds Pizza, 3290 Adeline St. Cost is $5-$7. 558-0881. 

EXHIBITIONS 

“The Art of Political Posters and Photographs” Reception at 6 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Donation $5. 849-2568.  

FILM 

For the Love of It: Sixth Annual Festival of Amateur Filmmaking at 3 p.m. at the Pacific Film Archive. Cost is $4-$8. 642-0808.  

READINGS AND LECTURES 

The State of the People Address, anti-war poetry and open mic, at 6:30 p.m. at La Peña. Free. 849-2568.  

Phyllis Mattson introduces “War Orphan in San Francisco: Letters Link a Family Scattered by WWII” at 2 p.m. at BRJCC, 1414 Walnut St. 848-0237. 

“Shocking Stories” Living history performances of the 1906 earthquake and fire at 2 p.m. at the Oakland Museum of California, 10th and Oak Sts. Cost is $5-$8. 238-2200. 

Ester Hernandez discusses her art of the Chicano Movement at 3:30 p.m. at the Oakland Museum of California, 10th and Oak Sts. Cost is $5-$8. 238-2200. 

Devyani Saltzman reads from “Shooting Water: A Memoir of Second Chances, Family, and Filmmaking” at 4 p.m. at Cody’s Books. 845-7852.  

Poetry Flash with Murray Silverstein and Sharon Olson at 7:30 p.m. at Cody’s Books on Telegraph. Donation $2. 845-7852. www.codysbooks.com 

MUSIC AND DANCE 

Berkeley Community Chorus and Orchestra at 4:30 p.m. at Saint Joseph The Worker Church, 1640 Addison St. Free admission, donations always welcome.  

Kairos Youth Choir “We Travel Along, Singin’ Our Song ... Side by Side” at 4 p.m. at Longfellow School Auditorium, 1500 Derby St. Tickets are $8-$12. 704-4479. 

James Tinsley, trumpet, Miles Graber, piano at 4 p.m. All proceeds support the Children’s Center for AIDS Orphans, Ilinge, South Africa. For directions, call 848-1755.  

The Jerusalem Quartet at 3 p.m. at Hertz Hall, UC Campus. Tickets are $42. 642-9988.  

Americana Unplugged: Pete Madsen at 5 p.m. at Jupiter. 848-8277. 

Joe Gilman Trio at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $10. 841-JAZZ.  

Montclair Women’s Big Band at 4:30 and 6:30 p.m. at the Jazz 

school. Cost is $20. 845-5373.  

Twang Cafe with JimBo Trout and the Fishpeople at 7:30 p.m. at Epic Arts, 1923 Ashby Ave. Cost is $5-$10. 644-2204.  

Sonia & Disappear Fear at 7:30 p.m. at Rose Street House of Music. Please RSVP to 594-4000. 

Tragedy, Born/Dead, Witch Hunt, Deathtoll at 5 p.m. at 924 Gilman St. Cost is $7. 525-9926. 

MONDAY, MAY 8 

READINGS AND LECTURES 

Aurora Theatre “Drip” a reading of the play by Robert Duxbury and “Untitled” by Amy Freed at 7:30 p.m. at 2081 Addison St. Free. 843-4822.  

Peter Schrag dicusses “California: America’s High Stakes Experiment” at 7:30 p.m. at Cody’s Books on Telegraph. 845-7852.  

Carole Terwilliger Meyers will give a slide presentation of her new book, “Weekend Adventures in San Francisco & Northern California” at 7 p.m. at Kensington Library, 61 Arlington Ave. 524-3043.  

Poetry Express with Jeanne Powell and Stephen Kopel at 7 p.m. at Priya Restaurant, 2072 San Pablo Ave. berkeleypoetryexpress@yahoo.com 

MUSIC AND DANCE 

Zilberella Quartet & Guests at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island. Cost is $5. 841-JAZZ.  

Parlor Tango at 7 p.m. at Caffe Trieste, 2500 San Pablo Ave., at Dwight. 548-5198.  

Blue Monday Jam, MC Little Jr Crudup, Sam One Blues Band at 7:30 p.m. at the Uptown Nightclub, 1928 Telegraph, Oakland. Cost is $5. 451-8100.  

TUESDAY, MAY 9 

READINGS AND LECTURES 

Shelby Steele discusses “White Guilt: How Blacks & Whites Together Destroyed the Promise of the Civil Rights Era” at 6:30 p.m. at The Independent Institute, 100 Swan Way, Oakland. Cost is $10-$15. 632-1366. 

“The New Argonauts: Regional Advantage in a Global Economy” A conversation with author AnnaLee Saxenian at 5 p.m. at University Press Books, 2430 Bancroft Way. 548-0585. 

“Make Your Book Sell” a panel discussion with Peter Handel, independent publicist, Kevin Smokler, publishing consultant, Ruth Gendler, author, and Ingrid Nystrom, of Stacey's bookstore, at 7 p.m. at the Journalism School Library, Northgate Hall, UC Campus, corner of Euclid and Hearst. Cost is $5. For reservations email rkanigel@gmail.com 

Peter Hessler decribes “Oracle Bones: A Journey Between China’s Past and Present” at 7:30 p.m. at Cody’s Books on Telegraph. 845-7852. www.codysbooks.com 

Poets for Peace featuring Cynthia Hogue, Joyce Jenkins, Ilya Kaminsky, and Peter Streckfus at 7:30 p.m. at Pegasus Books, 2349 Shattuck Ave. 649-1320. 

Freight and Salvage Open Mic at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $4.50-$5.50. 548-1761.  

MUSIC AND DANCE 

Berkeley Chamber Performances “Avenue Winds” at 8 p.m. at Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant Ave. Tickets are $20. 525-5211.  

Cyprian Consglio, sacred chant traditions from the East and West at 7 p.m. at the Chapel of Pacific School of Religion, 1798 Scenic Ave. Free. 849-8239. www.clgs.org 

Motordude Zydeco at 8:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cajun dance lesson at 8 p.m. Cost is $9. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

Singer’s Open Mic with Ellen Hoffman at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. 841-JAZZ.  

Debbie Poryes & Friends, jazz, at 7 p.m. at Caffe Trieste, 2500 San Pablo Ave. 548-5198.  

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

WEDNESDAY, MAY 10 

FILM 

“Latino Stories of World War II” at 7 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $5-$7. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

THEATER 

“Aphrodesia” at 7:30 p.m., also on Thurs., at The Marsh, 2120 Allston Way. Tickets are $10-$25. 800-838-3006.  

READINGS AND LECTURES 

Shirin Ebadi describes “Iran Awakening: A Memoir of Revolution and Hope” at noon at 155 Dwinelle Hall, UC Campus. 845-7852.  

Daniel Handler introduces his new work of fiction for adults “Adverbs” at 7:30 p.m. at Cody’s Books on Telegraph. 845-7852.  

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

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

MUSIC AND DANCE 

Music for the Spirit with organ music from Mexico, Columbia and Spain for Cinco de Mayo at 12:15 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church of Oakland, 2619 Broadway. 444-3555. 

Voci Women’s Vocal Ensemble “Aphrodesia” at 7:30 p.m. at The Marsh, 2118 Allston Way. Tickets are $10-$25. 800-838-3006. 

Berkeley High Jazz Ensembles at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. 841-JAZZ.  

Irina Rivkin, Andrea Prichett, Green & Root and Shelly Doty in a celebration for Mother’s Day at 8 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $10-$15. 525-5054.  

La Verdad at 9:30 p.m. at Shattuck Down Low. Cost is $5-$10. 548-1159.  

Evan Raymond, guitar, at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 848-8277. 

Drunken Public, Ninth of Never, Bento, Narc at 9 p.m. at Blakes on Telegraph. Cost is $8-$10. 848-0886.  

Dani Thompson at 8:30 p.m. at the Uptown Nightclub, 1928 Telegraph, Oakland. Cost is $5. 451-8100.  

ª


Arts: Jimbo Trout, Toshio Hirano Play the Twang Cafe

By Justin DeFreitas
Friday May 05, 2006

Jimbo Trout and the Fishpeople will be the headliners this Sunday at the Twang Café, an ongoing Americana music series held monthly at Epic Arts on Ashby Avenue. The series, produced and hosted by Berkeley resident Tom Wegner, is held on the first Sunday of every month and features an array of Bay Area folk and bluegrass artists in a casual and intimate venue. Toshio Hirano and Jacob & Harry round out this month’s bill. 

Jimbo Trout’s music has a sort of jugband feel to it: It’s good-time music, filled with funky acoustic guitar, jangly banjo, mandolin, fiddle, washboard, and an assortment of junkyard percussion. It sounds as though they raided the kitchen cabinets and pieced together a rhythm section. 

“They’re a great amalgamation of classic Americana,” says Wegner. “They combine Appalachian bluegrass with Louisiana swamp music, Cajun, zydeco, Dixieland, ragtime and street-corner jugband.” 

Jimbo Trout himself has a sort of white-boy blues voice, bringing to mind the late Bob “The Bear” Hite of Canned Heat: full, drawling, and with a touch of humor.  

The band has one CD, It’s Breaktime!, a live performance recorded at a small club. It’s a lively set, made up for the most part of the band’s reworkings of classic and traditional songs. But as infectious as the live album is, says Wegner, it still doesn’t quite capture the essence of the band’s live shows. 

“Jimbo Trout and the Fishpeople are best experienced live,” he says. “They are known for a crazy, fun, upbeat, fast-paced show.” 

It’s Breaktime! can be purchased at the show or through the band’s website, www.jimbotrout.com. 

 

To describe Toshio Hirano as a Japanese singing cowboy, though tempting, is to reduce this sincere and soulful musician to a novelty act, and he is anything but.  

Hirano was a college student in his native Japan when he first heard the music of Jimmie Rodgers, and it immediately change his life. He set out to explore the American South, eventually finding his way to Texas where he met the woman who would soon become his wife.  

After moving to San Francisco in the mid-’80s and starting a family, Hirano began performing at open mics in the city’s Mission District, establishing himself as something of a cult favorite.  

Much of his work consists of covers of American country and bluegrass classics, many of them by Rodgers. Hirano’s ability to mimic the tones and cadences is uncanny considering that he normally speaks with a strong Japanese accent.  

But this is more than mimicry; Hirano truly understands this music, feels its pain, its loneliness, its joy, and the depth of his absorption in these songs is authentic and moving.  

Samples of his Hirano’s music can be heard at at his website, www.toshiohirano.com 

 

TWANG CAFE  

Americana music at 7:30 every first  

Sunday at Epic Arts, 1923 Ashby Ave. $10.  

www.twangcafe.com.


Arts: Moving Pictures: Long-Neglected British Masterpiece Returns to the Screen

By Justin DeFreitas
Friday May 05, 2006

British director Carol Reed’s reputation rests almost exclusively on his 1949 noir classic The Third Man, and if that were the only movie he ever made his reputation would be secure. But as great as that film is, it is not Reed’s only masterpiece.  

Reed had an uneven career, but made two other films that measure up quite nicely with his masterwork: Odd Man Out and The Fallen Idol, a restored version of which opens today (Friday) at Shattuck Cinemas. The film is in limited release before making its debut on DVD later this year. 

The genre-defying Fallen Idol cannot be categorized quite as easily as The Third Man. It is essentially plot-driven and contains elements of noir, melodrama and suspense, yet it also places great importance on character, with great care given to the depiction of the friendship between a boy and his family’s butler. 

The plot, based on a short story by Graham Greene, centers on Baines (Ralph Richardson, in a sad and dignified performance), the butler for an ambassador. Phil (Bobby Henrey) is the ambassador’s son. 

When Baines’ wife confronts him with evidence that he is having an affair, they argue, and at some point Mrs. Baines slips from a ledge above the mansion’s staircase and falls to her death. The child does not see the entire scene, but sees enough of it to make him believe that the butler killed his wife by throwing her down the stairs. 

We know Baines is innocent but Reed still manages to keep the suspense taut as an investigation ensues. For Baines, despite his innocence, has managed to spin a complicated web of deceit in an effort to keep both his mistress and his employer from getting entangled in the case. He has told the boy what to say and what not to say to the police, which lies to tell and which truths to conceal. Yet the boy has already demonstrated his inability to keep a secret by revealing Baines’ affair, and now he is asked to conceal what he thinks are the details of a murder. 

This is not just a case of Hitchcock-style suspense, however, for the tension in this film stems as much from character as from plot. Baines is a good man and a sympathetic character; his attempts to shield others from the investigation are noble; his kindness toward the boy is endearing. The boy is innocent, trusting and loving, yet caught up in an adult melodrama that he is incapable of understanding. There is a multi-layered tragedy in the making here: that Baines may be found guilty of a crime he didn’t commit, and that the responsibility for that unjust verdict will rest on the tiny shoulders of the naïve young boy who loves him.  

But the greater tragedy at work, and the central theme of the film, is the violation of a child’s innocence. Phil is thrust into a world of lies and betrayal that he is unable to fully comprehend, and the final result is to knock Baines—the idol of the film’s title, a hero and father figure to Phil—from the pedestal on which the boy has placed him.  

Reed uses symbolism beautifully, making effective use of the imagery available in the house itself. For instance, in an early shot Phil is seen through the banister as though peering through prison bars, though he is not so much imprisoned by his parents or by the house or by his station in life as he is by the limits of his own consciousness. He is simply too young to understand the complexities and emotions of the adults around him. 

One extraordinary shot uses the house to demonstrate the distance between Baines and his wife as the couple, seen from the top of the stairs, cross paths in the great hall. As one descends and crosses, the other moves across the floor and toward the staircase, the two exchanging unpleasantries as they pass. Reed acknowledged the influence of the filmmaking style of Orson Welles on The Third Man, but the influence is evident here as well as Reed borrows from Citizen Kane in using the vast spaces and echoing surfaces of the mansion to illustrate the distance and coldness of a disintegrating marriage. 

The basement too is used symbolically, for it not only represents the servants’ quarters and kitchen, it becomes the repository for the characters’ basest emotions, a place where the thoughts suppressed in the majestic halls of the grand mansion finally bubble to the surface.  

Most effective and subtle however is the use of the great hall itself, with its checkerboard floor reinforcing the strategy of the investigators and the investigated as they play out the dangerous endgame of the plot’s delicate chess match. The police close in, surrounding and interrogating Baines as he retreats, steps forward and retreats again, searching for a path through the various threats and scenarios of crime and punishment, trying to think a few moves ahead in an attempt to avoid checkmate.  

Child actors are frequently nauseating, so cloyingly precocious and meddlesome. But The Fallen Idol provides an all-too-rare exception. Bobby Henrey’s performance here is something to behold; he looks, sounds and acts like a genuine 8-year-old boy. Too often, kids in movies are transformed into miniature adults or held up as paragons of virtue, more symbol than human: child as Innocence, as Purity, as Spirituality, etc. Phil is not given any special talents or rare intelligence; nor does he apparently have a speech coach to transform his lisp into crisp, snappy dialogue. This kid is just a kid, by turns endearing, annoying, intelligent, clueless, loving, selfish, thoughtful—but always a kid. 

Situational ethics is not necessarily innate. Phil is told to lie sometimes, told to tell the truth other times; it’s hardly clear to him what’s right and wrong, and his confusion is compounded by the fact that the adults around him at time seem to hear only the lies and ignore the truth.  

In Phil’s mind, adults are infallible, and their institutions—law and justice—are absolutes. The Fallen Idol depicts his disillusionment as he learns that adults are indeed fallible; that institutions are as highly subjective as the people who administer them; and that even if children aren’t exactly miniature adults, adults are in fact just grown children—as endearing, annoying, intelligent, clueless and selfish as those they shepherd into adulthood. 

 

THE FALLEN IDOL (1948) 

Starring Ralph Richardson, Bobby Henrey, 

Michèle Morgan, Jack Hawkins, Bernard Lee. Directed by Carol Reed. Based on a short story by Graham Greene. 

Playing at Shattuck Cinemas.


Arts: ‘Berkeley Treasures’ Spotlights Three Local Artists

By Dorothy Bryant Special to the Planet
Friday May 05, 2006

Last week an artist friend returned from her annual visit to New York looking depressed. 

“All I saw at museums and galleries were rediscovered drawings by old masters or the latest thing tossed off by a bored 20-something—like a row of video monitors, all with the same image of a seated man, grunting, and pretentiously titled ‘9/11 Attack’ or something,” she said. “Nothing but old masters and bored, boring beginners.” 

Fortunately for us, Robbin Henderson, director of the Berkeley Art Center, has taken a different approach to celebrating the 40th year of the center. She has scheduled a series of four exhibits featuring mature Berkeley artists “who have made and—for the most part—are still making significant cultural, civic, and pedagogic contributions. That’s why the series is titled ‘Berkeley Treasures.’” 

Berkeley Treasures, Series I opened last month, featuring paintings, drawings, and prints by three Berkeley artists of widely varying styles, but with some traits in common: all three are native Californians (two born in the East Bay); all three have been active in the Berkeley community for most of their lives; all three are in their 80s and still going strong. 

Lewis Suzuki did his first paintings as a prize-winning schoolboy in 1930s Japan, where his widowed mother had moved from Los Angeles. At 19, he was secretly shown illegal photos of the then denied Rape of Nangking, and warned, “Stay here, and you’ll be drafted and forced to do such things.” He borrowed money and fled back to America, where, under suspicion as a Japanese American, he could still, with his dual language skills, be useful in the struggle against the rule of Nazi and Japanese militarism. 

“Ever since then, my life has been a struggle against war,” Suzuki says. “But I kept on painting. Art and activism, back and forth. I couldn’t give up either.” 

For the most part Suzuki’s landscapes and seascapes depict his ideals and hopes, in pure, sunlit, natural beauty, rather than directly reflecting his political and ethical convictions. But occasionally, the two sides of his life merge, as in his “Smoky Mountain,” depicting crowds of the poor living and foraging on an infamous dump in Manila or in his poster commemorating Hiroshima. At 86, he continues to work—lately doing more craggy seascapes. “As long as I can paint and work for peace, I’m happy.” 

The paintings and drawings of Ariel, born in Oakland—“like Gertrude and Isadora,” she laughs—express more directly her moral outrage at the horrors of the 20th century. The influence of German Expressionism can be seen in the depictions of a diabolical Richard Nixon and the harsh satire of other leaders—ala George Grosz. 

“People say my work leans toward fantasy,” she said, “and they’re right, but not airy-fairy escape fantasy,” more like a nightmarish heightening of the horror she sees.  

One wall-hanging on exhibit reminds us of her many years of work in theater, creating hangings, masks, life-size puppets. “The three goddesses I made for Cal Shakes’ Tempest were up at Zellerbach on the 28th for some public radio program,” she said. “I can’t think why—to get the live audience in the right mood?” 

Ariel calls her greatest inspiration, not artists, but the classic San Francisco poets, “the pre-beats—Duncan, Rexroth, Spicer,” all friends of her late poet/professor husband Tom Parkinson, all subjects of a memoir she is writing. “I thought I wanted to be a writer, but knowing them convinced me I am a visual artist.” 

Lately, her work “gets bigger and bigger” like the half-mile long “‘Banner of Hope’ carried by children in Moscow, Hiroshima, through the Berlin Wall,” and the single huge drawing inspired by 9/11 that recently filled the Berkeley Art Commission’s 70-foot-long window on Addison Street. She is working now on an anti-war piece she calls “Torn Flesh.” 

Karl Kasten has expressed his opposition to the status quo by exploring a variety of media and styles. Like Ariel, he is, he said, “charmed by the fortuitous, unintended things that happen while I’m working.” He has passed on this playful but informed daring to generations of his students in the UC Berkeley Art Department. 

“I actually started the first printmaking classes there in 1951,” he said. “Hard to believe that, at the time, many established artists still saw printmaking as a craftsman at a machine, rolling out an ‘illustration’ to go with text in a book, or making an ephemeral advertising poster, not as a ‘real’ art.”  

The abstract planes and figures of his painting, “F Train,” (1938) remain a strong, minimalist evocation (for those old enough to remember) of the station levels and the rushing passengers of this vital transport, crossing the Bay Bridge and running straight up Shattuck Avenue to the west entrance of the UC campus. His later mixed media pieces feature a recurring, sometimes ghostlike campanile thrusting its way up through various complex scenes. 

His most recent work “Crew,” a large painting of athletes awash in their exertion, shows his new interest in sports. “And in numbers,” he adds. “Numbers are so pure!” 

Kasten has a story he likes to tell. 

“Two children—one very young, one a bit older—are looking at the illustrations in a book,” he recounts. “The younger child points to the text beside the picture and asks, ‘What is this?’ and the older child answers, ‘That’s writing—for people who can’t read pictures.’” 

 

BERKELEY TREASURES, SERIES 1 

Noon-5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday through May 20 at the Berkeley Art Center, 1275 Walnut St., in Live Oak Park. Free. Donations welcome. 644-6893. 

 

Contributed photo  

Ariel Parkinson next to her work, “Nixon at the Trough,” part of the Berkeley Treasures Series I at the Berkeley Art Center.›


East Bay: Then and Now: When Ratcliff Was City Architect

By Daniella Thompson
Friday May 05, 2006

City architect in Berkeley? Like the farms, this office is a thing of the past. The position existed for only eight years—from 1913 to 1921—and was occupied by a single person: Walter Harris Ratcliff, Jr. (1881–1973). 

At the time of his appointment, Ratcliff had been a licensed architect for just seven years, but he had been designing houses since 1901 and had over 80 buildings to his credit, including commissioned and speculative single-family residences of every stripe, a warehouse, and several apartment buildings. 

But experience wasn’t all that Ratcliff had going for him. The architect was extremely well connected in the business community and particularly close to real-estate developer Duncan McDuffie who, influenced by Frederick Law Olmsted, was creating spacious, leafy subdivisions like Claremont Park, Claremont Court, and Northbrae in Berkeley and St. Francis Wood in San Francisco. These were the ideal settings for Ratcliff’s English-style houses, which were prized for their elegance, comfort, and attention to detail. 

Ratcliff’s first assignment as city architect was the design of four new fire stations. Since they were all sited in residential neighborhoods, the architect was particularly attentive to their scale and style. The firehouses resembled Italian palazzi in miniature, featuring an arched porte cochère or two on the ground floor and a row of smaller arched windows on the second. 

Of these four stylish buildings, the only survivor stands at 2911 Claremont Ave., where it is very much at ease in its current role as an art gallery. The porte cochère has given way to a display window, but the only other visible change (not for the better, alas) is the loss of the small-paned arched windows in the polygonal bay facing west. 

In 1915, a Berkeley bond measure raised funds for five new public schools. Ratcliff handed four of the commissions to trusted architects—Ernest Coxhead (Garfield); James Plachek (John Muir); Hobart & Cheney (Willard); and Walter Reed (Burbank)—designing the fifth, Edison Junior High School, himself. A stately brick building with stone facings around the copious windows and balustrades spaced along the roof parapets, the Edison school in its heyday recalled an English baronial house. Deemed seismically unsafe, it no longer serves as a school. 

The similar-looking Lincoln School (now Malcolm X), completed in 1920 at 1731 Prince St., has been retrofitted to comply with the Field Act, receiving some design modifications along the way. Ratcliff’s third school, the stucco-clad Hillside School at 1581 Le Roy Ave. (1925), was abandoned by the school board and faces an uncertain future. His fourth, the modest, Mediterranean-style Cragmont School (1926), was demolished and replaced with a striking modern building. 

Another English-style civic building designed by Ratcliff is the city’s Corporation Yard at 1326 Allston Way. Slated for demolition a few years ago, the building, now a designated landmark, is still in use. 

During his tenure as City Architect, Ratcliff continued his prolific private practice. While still a student, he and his Cal friend Charles L. McFarland went into speculative home building, financed in the early days by their parents. By 1912 they had founded Alameda County Home Builders, Inc., which would evolve into Fidelity Mortgage Securities Co. and, in 1921, into Fidelity Guaranty Building and Loan Association. 

The Ratcliff-designed Fidelity building at 2323 Shattuck Ave. (now Citibank) is undoubtedly the most beautiful bank ever built in Berkeley. Like the fire stations, it draws inspiration from Italian Renaissance architecture, and its oversized arches lend a touch of grace to the bedraggled avenue. 

Alameda County Home Builders’ speculative ventures came in all sizes and prices. In the early 1910s, the construction cost of its two-story homes in upscale locations ranged from $4,500 to $5,000. These were one-of-a-kind individual designs, but in 1919 Ratcliff and McFarland built a cluster of modest homes at the intersection of Milvia and Carleton Streets. 

The seven bungalows, uniformly described in the building permits as “1-story, 6-room residence, plaster,” came in four models, all costing $3,000. They are arranged in a T, with two identical pairs facing each other on Milvia and three other houses flanking them along Carleton. They must have been charming when new. 

Among the Ratcliff signature motifs that can still be spotted here and there are arched doors, French windows, and roofs with rounded edges that simulate the thatch of English country cottages. Sadly, only one of the seven houses preserves all its original features. 

While he was city architect, Ratcliff was among the opinion makers (McDuffie was another) who persuaded the City Council to create the Arts Commission, an early municipal body charged with planning and zoning decisions. Ironically, it was a clash with this body that brought about the end of Ratcliff’s civic employment and the abolition of the City Architect position. 

In 1920, a new plan was devised for developing the area around Solano Avenue. It superseded McDuffie’s original layout for the area, which would have preserved the open creeks as public parkland. The proponents of the new plan preferred to culvert the creeks so as to make more space available for development. Ever eager to increase tax revenue, the city administration supported this scheme. Ratcliff and McDuffie argued in vain before the Arts Commission. Shortly thereafter, the City Council repealed the ordinance that had created the position of city architect. 

Ratcliff went on to design commercial and institutional buildings that mark our downtown to this day. Among them are Berkeley’s first skyscraper, the Chamber of Commerce Building (now the Wells Fargo Building.) at Shattuck and Center; Armstrong College on Harold Way; the Mason McDuffie Building (now Scandinavian Designs) at Shattuck and Addison; and the Richfield Oil Service Station (now University Garage) on Oxford Street. These stand as a testament to the architect’s abiding concern for the well-being and beautification of Berkeley. 

 

 

Berkeley Architectural Heritage Spring House Tour & Garden Reception 

Sunday, May 7, 2006 – 1 to 5 p.m.  

Eleven charming and elegant homes designed by Walter H. Ratcliff, Jr. in Claremont Park. General admission $35; BAHA members and guests $25. The ticket booth will open at noon at the corner of The Uplands and Encina Place. For more information, see www.berkeleyheritage.com. 

 

Photograph by Daniella Thompson 

This perfectly preserved bungalow at 1941 Carleton St. was one of a group of seven erected by Ratcliff’s development company in 1919. .


About the House: Whether or Not to Shut Off The Gas

By Matt Cantor
Friday May 05, 2006

I was speaking as a guest of my friend Howard at a local senior center the other day when a fellow stood up and told me that he did not agree with my position on the very contentious issue of whether to turn your gas off in your house after an earthquake. 

I tried to steady myself but I don’t do well with confrontation. I’ll not be running for public office any time soon. I made a face that probably looked something like a dead fish and stood silent as he shook his finger at me. Well, he’s entitled. It’s a touchy issue and I respect my learned opponents position on the issues (Look!, now I’m running for office). 

Let me back up a bit because some of you are sure to be completely confused at this point. One day this lovely East Bay of ours is going to have a whole lotta shakin’ goin’ on and one of the things that is going to shake is gas piping. 

More to the point, all the things that are connected to the gas piping are going to shake and some of those things are going to move. When they do, some of them will tear open gas lines and let the gas out. This is what burned down most of the houses that caught fire in the Northridge earthquake and apparently in the 1906 one as well. 

P.G. & E. says that you should not turn off your gas as a rote matter, although I assume they do not mean to say that when your gas is leaking that you should let it run. I assume (please call them for clarification on this because I would like them to get 20,000 calls on the issue) that they mean to say that you should only turn off the gas to your home if you have smelled gas and not simply because there has been a big earthquake. I take issue with this position and I fear that it is largely self serving. 

Basically, they just don’t have the man-power (or woman-power, hear us all roar) to get out and turn Mrs. Fershshmukles gas back on after she’s turned it off and they know it. Personally, I don’t blame them for the lack of personnel and believe that another solution should be sought and that the solution not be to leave the gas on. I’ll get to that part later but for now, I’d like to see if I can convince you of my position on this issue. 

Los Angeles now requires the installation of an automatic seismic gas shutoff valve on the gas main of every home that sells there. It’s a point-of-sale requirement. Those are hard to pass and it must have been a big fight but the point is that they did it. This means that every home that has one of these things is not only going to have the gas shut off. It also means that the valve will have to be reset. It’s actually more complex to get the stove lit again than if you just turned it off at the main but hey, I’m not arguing. I think it’s great. Nonetheless, the point is that L.A. thinks P.G. & E. is wrong. 

They want the gas turned off when there is an earthquake without asking if there’s a leak. Now the only part of this that might not be in conflict, and I’d love for P.G. & E. to take this as their position, is that one might turn off their gas if there has been only a tiny shake or if they were too far away from the epicenter for it to have had much impact. They were just scared. The problem is that it’s just too hard for us to tell people when that is. We don’t have seismographs on our houses and we have to act quickly and based on the available data. 

It is very likely that our earthquake, when it comes, will result in tumbling water heaters, sliding dryers and broken gas pipes. It is also likely that we will suffer more from fires than from structural failures. 

It is my strongly held belief that everyone should have one of these inventive devices attached to their house so that they don’t suffer the consequences of a gas explosion or fire. Additionally, every person that does this is one less to contribute the overall outbreak of fire in our dear hillside. 

So here are a couple of the solutions as promised: The first is a mass effort to educate everyone on how to look for leaks and how to relight appliances. If we work together, block by block, we can get all the Mrs. Fershshmukles’ gas back on in a few days. 

Checking for gas is not arcane or complex. It involves thoughtful inspection before and after the gas is turned on. It involves checking under the house and everywhere the gas line runs. It also involves lighting pilot lights where they still exist.  

One reason that I think that the concern over turning the gas off and back on again is that, today, most gas appliances don’t require lighting of pilots. Most furnaces, dryers, stoves and gas fireplaces don’t have pilots any longer. Some old heaters and stove still do but they’re not very hard to light and we should all know how to do this. 

A 12-year-old could learn this. Most water heaters do need to be relit and most have a set of instructions on the front face showing the process. Again, it’s not that hard. Certainly there are risks on this end of the equation but it’s a no brainer for me that the gas should be shut off if we’re experiencing a lot of shaking. Most of the water heaters I see aren’t properly braced if they’ve been braced at all and that’s only the most likely point for a break.  

Here’s a last thought for today. Automatic seismic gas shutoff valves installed on a custom basis aren’t terribly expensive but just imagine if they were installed inside of your gas meter. I wonder how much we would have to pay to have these installed en mass inside PG&E’s meter as a part of the meter manufacturing process. Perhaps it would add another $20 to each meter but I think it might even be cheaper than that; they’re very simple devices. 

I for one would be happy to pay P.G. & E. to swap out my meter for one that contained such a device. How about you? 

 

 

Got a question about home repairs and inspections? Send them to Matt Cantor, in care of East Bay Real Estate, at realestate@berkeleydailyplanet.com.


Garden Variety: Finding Spring Flower Resources At Annie’s

By Ron Sullivan
Friday May 05, 2006

A sunny morning spent at Annie’s Annuals and Perennials is worth the trip to Richmond, and a good way to celebrate the belated arrival of spring.  

Annie’s is already well known from its handsome, innovative labels on retailers’ plant displays. These include a picture of the mature plant or its flower and a short story—where it came from, its family, how Annie’s acquired it—and care instructions. For those who garden by eye, they’re a godsend, and I’d bet they bless retailers with good sell-through rates too. 

The business, wholesale and retail, has bounced or been bounced from several locations starting with the backyard of founder Annie Hayes. Even then, it wasn’t all annuals, but the name was irresistible. In fact, there are two Annies; propagator Anni Jensen brings in new plants from all over the world, never neglecting our own back yard. Annie’s is one of my favorite sources of California natives. 

Back yards play a more literal role, as every new plant has at least a season or two of trial growing in the garden of Annie or Anni or an associate. This would be one reason the plants consistently prosper even for me, the exemplar of bad-habit gardeners. Seedlings from Annie’s often look small compared to other wholesalers’. This might be a reason they make themselves at home so well after planting: their roots are still ambitious about spreading into new soil, and they haven’t been cramped by pot life. 

I don’t go up there for cheap plants; the nursery sells to retail customers at retail prices, and these aren’t the cheapest around. They are economical, though, because they survive, and they’re not the same old marigolds besides. In fact, I was tempted by the one marigold I saw, a jolly striped pinwheel, though to me marigolds are strictly snail chow.  

The Annies love our natives, and sell several species of Calochortus, the genus that includes the gorgeous mariposa tulips and fairy lanterns. (The endemic C. pulchellus globe lilies in Mitchell Canyon on Mount Diablo are blooming now—rush right out!) They’re also fond of traditional cottage garden posies, and indeed I saw love-lies-bleeding and kiss-me-over-the-garden-gate there last week.  

They’re no more able than I am to resist the weird and charming plants from places like the South African fynbos or the Canary Islands. Their playful, gorgeous demonstration gardens and pots are equal parts “Yum!” and “What on Earth?”  

That’s no surprise from people who proudly call themselves “Flower Floozies.” In case there’s any doubt, floozies have firm principles: no wildland invasives, no junk, lots of teaching including via Anni Jensen’s mostly unirrigated home garden, featured in the Bringing back the Natives tour. 

Apparently their principles make for a good workplace, too. A young woman at a propagating table said privately she loves the work there, and the most frequent sound I heard was laughter. The workers that don’t show up in poor conditions—bushtits, finches, several butterfly species—were there in abundance too, blessing the industrial Richmond-San-Pablo border with natural grace. 

Don’t miss the Mother’s Day party, May 13 and 14! 

 

Annie’s Annuals and Perennials 

Market Street, Richmond, west of Rumrill; no visible address, but there is a big sign. 

Wed.—Sun. 10 a.m.–4 p.m. 

215-1671 

Mail order and directions: 

www.anniesannuals.com 

 

Ron Sullivan is a former professional gardener and arborist. Her “Garden Variety” column appears every Friday in East Bay Home & Real Estate. Her column on East Bay trees appears every other Tuesday in the Berkeley Daily Planet.?


Berkeley This Week

Friday May 05, 2006

FRIDAY, MAY 5 

City Commons Club Noon Luncheon with Carl Poppe, Livermore Lab on “Energy” Luncheon at 11:45 a.m. for $13.50, speech at 12:30 p.m., at the Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant St. For information and reservations call 526-2925 or 665-9020.  

“A Pictorial History of Palestine from the late Ottoman Period to 1948” with Mona and David Halaby, who will show photos and tell their family stories at 7 p.m. at St. Joseph the Worker School, 2125 Jefferson St. Free, not wheelchair accessible. 708-3347. 

“Just Garments” An evening of speakers, music, art, and film to pressure the City of Berkeley to purchase only sweat shop free goods and a benefit for Just Garments at 7 p.m. at Berkeley Fellowship Unitarian Universalists Hall, 1924 Cedar St. and Bonita Ave. Tickets are $10-$25 sliding scale; no one turned away for lack of funds. 415-575-5541. www.globalexchange.org/sweatfreebayarea 

“Tibetan Religion and State in the 17th and 18th Centuries: Tibetan, Chinese, and Mongolian Perspectives” A conference from Fri. - Sun. sponsored by the Center for Buddhist Studies, Institute of East Asian Studies, Center for Chinese Studies, and Townsend Center for the Humanities http://ieas.berkeley.edu/ 

Berkeley School Volunteers Training workshop for volunteers interested in helping the public schools, from 2 to 3:30 p.m. at 1835 Allston Way. 644-8833. 

Emery Ed Fund Benefit at Pixar with a pre-release screening of “Cars” at 6 p.m. at Pixar Animation Studios. Tickets are $250. 601-4997. www.emeryed.org 

Red Cross Blood Drive from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the 5th floor Tilden Room, MLK Student Union, UC Campus. To make an appointment call 1-800-GIVE-LIFE. www.BeADonor.com  

Berkeley Chess School classes for students in grades 1-8 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. A drop-in, rated scholastic tournament follows from 7 to 8 p.m. at 1581 LeRoy Ave., Room 17. 843-0150. 

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. 

SATURDAY, MAY 6 

Get Ready for Diasaster Day Volunteers needed to help get disaster information out to all Berkeley neighborhoods. Meet at 10 a.m. at Francis Albrier Community Center, 2800 Park St. between Ward and Russell. Please RSVP to 981-5584, clopes@ci.berkeley.ca.us   

Fun on the Farm An introduction to Tilden Park’s Little Farm for all ages, at 11 a.m.. Be prepared to get a little dirty while you help out with chores and animal grooming. 525-2233. 

Kid’s Garden Club for ages 7-12 to explore the world of gardening, from 2 to 4 p.m. at Tilden Nature Area, Tilden Park. Cost is $6-$8, registration required. 636-1684. 

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.  

Mt. Wanda Wildflower Walk in the hills where John Muir took his daughters. Meet at 9 a.m. in the Park and Ride lot at the corner of Alhambra Ave. and Franklin Canyon Rd., Martinez. Wear walking shoes and bring water. 925-228-8860. 

Walking Tour of the Garden of Old Roses with horticulturist and rose expert, Peter Klement, to learn about the history of of old roses, at 11:30 a.m. at UC Botanical Garden, 200 Centennial Drive. Cost is $8-$12. Registration required. 643-2755. 

“Designing a Small Garden Using Hardscape” Isabel Robertson will discuss materials you can use for walls, paths and patios at 10 a.m. at Magic Gardens Landscape Nursery, 729 Heinz Ave. 644-2351. 

Berkeley History Center Walking Tour: “Past and Promise Along the Santa Fe Right of Way” led by Susan Schwartz, from 10 a.m. to noon. Cost is $8-$10. 848-0181. www.cityofberkeley.info/histsoc 

Walking Tour of Oakland Chinatown Meet at 10 a.m. at the courtyard fountain in the Pacific Renaissance Plaza at 388 Ninth St. Tour lasts 90 minutes. For reservations call 238-3234.  

Solo Sierrans Walk in Tilden Park Meet at 4 p.m. at Lone Oak picnic area for a 1 hour walk through the woods. Optional dinner on Solano Ave. 234-8949. 

“Heal a Woman, Heal a Child, Heal a Nation” Benefit for domestic violence centers from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at 5272 Foothill Blvd., Oakland. Donation $10 and up. 533-5306. 

Astronomy Day at Lawrence Hall of Science. Make your own sunprint and see a Planetarium show, from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at LHS, Centennial Drive. Cost is $7.50-$9.50. 642-5132. 

Progressive Democrats of the East Bay features Jerry McNerney, who is challenging Richard Pombo in the 11th CD. Please bring cell phones for phone banking. From 12:30 to 3 p.m. at at Temescal Library, 5205 Telegraph, Oakland. 636-4149. www.pdeastbay.org 

“The Power of Nightmares” a new documentary by BBC journalist on the “War on Terroism” Parts I and II from 3 to 5 p.m. at Humanist Hall, 390 27st., Oakland. Cost is $10. Benefits Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club. 

Piecemakers Quilting Guild Legacies of Love Quilting Show with 250 quilts on display, Sat. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sun. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Hayward Centennial Hall, 22292 Foothill Blvd., Hayward. Tickets are $6-$8 at the door. www.piecemakersguild.org 

“Behind the Magic: 50 Years of Disneyland” Exhibition opens at the Oakland Museum of California, 10th and Oak Sts., and runs through August 20. 238-2200. 

Basic Chinese Herbology at 2:30 p.m. at Elephant Pharmacy, 1607 Shattuck Ave. 549-9200. 

Pre-School Storytime for 3-5 year olds at 11 a.m. at the Albany Library, 1247 Marin Ave., through June 22. 526-3720. 

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.  

Around the World Tour of Plants at 1:30 p.m., Thurs., Sat. and Sun. at UC Botanical Garden, 200 Centennial Drive. 643-2755. http://botanicalgarden.berkeley.edu 

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

SUNDAY, MAY 7 

Berkeley Architectural Heritage Spring House Tour of “The Residential Work of Walter Ratcliff, Jr. in Claremont Park” from 1 to 5 p.m. Tickets are $25-$35. www.berkeleyheritage.com 

Nature Photography Hike with nature photographers Bethany Facendini and Frank Balthis from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Tilden Park. All levels of ability are welcome. For ages 15 and up. Fee is $40-$44, registration required. 636-1684. 

Welcome Home the Butterflies Help weed and plant the Butterfly Garden in Tilden Park from 1 to 3 p.m. Dress to get dirty and bring garden gloves if you have them. 525-2233. 

A Child’s Container Garden: Family Workshop from 2 to 3:30 p.m. at UC Botanical Garden, 200 Centennial Drive. Cost is $14-$18, $7 for additional adult or child. Registration required, space is limited. 643-2755. 

“The 1906 Earthquake and Fire and the Multicultural Experience” Living history performances at 2 p.m. at the Oakland Museum of California, 10th and Oak Sts. Cost is $5-$8. 238-2200. 

“In the Company of Wild Butterflies” a film followed by art and microscope activities from 1 to 3 p.m. at Lawrence Hall of Science, Centennial Drive. Cost is $7.50-$9.50. 642-5132. 

Solo Sierrans Walk along the Emeryville Shoreline Meet at 4:30 p.m. behind Chevy's Restaurant at the back parking lot area. Optional dinner after walk. 923-1094. 

Cinco de Mayo Fiesta with Mexican food, games and activities, from noon to 3 p.m. at Unitarian Universalist Church, 1 Lawson Rd., Kensington. Proceeds benefit disaster relief and other church programs. 525-0302. www.uucb.org 

Amnesty International Rummage Sale from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 1834 Cedar St., with books, toys, clothes, and more.  

Discussion on Development and Liveable Cities in the East Bay at 6 p.m. at the Long Haul, 3124 Shattuck Ave. 540-0751. 

Flower Essences for Animals Holistic healing therapy from 2 to 4 p.m. at Rabbitears, 303 Arlington Ave., behind Ace Hardware. Donation $15. 525-6155.  

Chinese Medicine and Lung Disease at 11:30 a.m. at Elephant Pharmacy, 1607 Shattuck Ave. 549-9200. 

Young People’s Symphony Orchestra Auditions from 2 to 6 p.m. Rehearsals are every Mon. eve. in Berkeley. For audition time please call 849-9776. www.ypsomusic.net 

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 

Tibetan Buddhism with Elizabeth Cook on “Tibetan Meditation” at 6 p.m. at the Tibetan Nyingma Institute, 1815 Highland Pl. 843-6812. www.nyingmainstitute.com 

MONDAY, MAY 8 

South Berkeley Senior Center Cultural Arts and Crafts Fair from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 2939 Ellis St. 981-5175. 

New Visions for Berkeley’s Santa Fe Right-of-Way Community Meeting with the Dept. Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning, UCB at 7 p.m. at the new Berkeley Montessori School, at the former Santa Fe Rail Depot at 1310 University Ave. 643-9804. 

“American Triumphalism in an Age of Terror” with author Theodore Rosak at 12:30 p.m. in The Edith Stone Room of the Albany Lbrary, 1247 Marin Ave.  

“Perspectives on Berkeley: Past and Present” Chuck Wollenberg’s Berkeley history class at 7 p.m. at the Berkeley Public Library, 2090 Kittredge St. Free. 981-6150. 

Berkeley School Volunteers Training workshop for volunteers interested in helping the public schools, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at 1835 Allston Way. 644-8833. 

Kids and the Law A presentation by lawyers for Junior and Senior High School students and their parents and guardians from 6 to 8 p.m. at the El Sobrante Library, 4191 Appian Way, El Sobrante. 374-3991.  

Red Cross Blood Drive from 12:30 to 6:30 p.m. in the Wells Fargo Room, Haas School of Business, UC Campus. To make an appointment call 1-800-GIVE-LIFE. www.BeADonor.com  

“Soul Mind Body Medicine” a talk by Master Zhi Gang Sha at 7:30 p.m. at Yoga Kula, 1700 Shattuck Ave., 2nd Flr. 486-0264. 

World Affairs/Politics Discussion Group for people 60+ years old meets at 10:15 a.m. at the Albany Senior Center, 846 Masonic Ave. Cost is $2.50. 524-9122. 

Introduction to Meditation with Diane Eshin Rizzetto at 6:45 p.m. at the Bay Zen Center, 315 Alcatraz. Donation $10. Pre-registration required. 596-3087. 

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

TUESDAY, MAY 9 

“Recycled Water: Conveying the Message to Non-Water Experts” with Roy Herndon, Chief Hydrogeologist, Orange County Water District, at 5:30 p.m. at the Goldman School of Public Policy, Room 250, corner of Hearst and LeRoy. 642-2666. 

Climate Change class meets Tues. from 1 to 3 p.m. at the North Berkeley Senior Center. Topics include science, projected impacts, individual behavior, and policy. 981-5190. 

“The Bush Agenda: Invading the World, One Economy at a Time” with Antonia Juhasz, Medea Benjamin, Warren Langley, Rayan Elamine, Raed Jarrar, and Father Louis Vitale at 7:30 p.m. at the First Congregational Church of Oakland, 2501 Harrison, at 27th St, Oakland. Admission $10 advance, $12 door. Benefits Global Exchange. 415-255-7296, ext. 200. 

Raging Grannies of the East Bay invites new folks to come join us the 2nd and 4th Tues. of each month, from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. to sing and have fun at Berkeley Gray Panthers office, 1403 Addison St., in Andronico’s mall. 548-9696. 

Britt Marie’s First Annual Regulars Alumni Nite at 6 p.m. at 1369 Solano Ave. 527-1314. 

Family Story Time at 7 p.m. at the Kensington Branch Library, 61 Arlington Ave. Free, all ages welcome. 524-3043. 

Osteoporosis Awareness and Prevention A panel discussion at 7 p.m. at Elephant Pharmacy, 1607 Shattuck Ave. 549-9200. 

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. 

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

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

WEDNESDAY, MAY 10 

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

“Connecting Youth with the Outdoors” a presentation by the Pacific Forest and Watershed Lands Stewardship Council at 1:30 p.m. at Preservation Park, Nile Hall, 668 13th St. Oakland. 650-286-5150. www.stewardshipcouncil.org 

Native Plant Nursery Wetlands Restoration Help to prepare native seedlings for future plantings along The Martin Luther King, Jr. Regional Shoreline from 1 to 3 p.m. No experience necessary. RSVP required. 452-9261 ext. 109. www.savesfbay.org  

Lonely Planet Travel Series with Andrew Nystrom on Mexico at 6 p.m. at Oakland Public Library, 124 14th St. 238-3136. 

“Defending Democracy in America” A documentary on election fraud at 7:30 p.m. at Humanist Hall, 390 27th St. Donation of $5 accepted. www.FreePress.org 

East Bay Genealogical Society with Chuck Knuthson, President of the Sacramento German Genealogical Society on “United States Naturalization Records” at 10 a.m. in the Library Conference Room of the Family History Center at 4766 Lincoln Ave., Oakland. 635-6692.  

“The Squid and the Whale” film showing with facilitated discussion at 7 p.m. at the BRJCC, 1414 Walnut St. Light refreshments. Suggested donation $3-5$. 848-0237. 

”Our Health-Care Un-System: What’s Wrong With It? And How to Fix It” with Dr. Ron Adler, M.D. at 7:30 p.m. at Congregation Beth El, 1301 Oxford St. 848-3988. 

Poetry Wrting Workshop led by Alison Seevak from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Albany Library, 1247 Marin Ave. 526-3720, ext. 17. 

The Berkeley Lawn Bowling Club provides free instruction every Wed. and Sat. at 10:30 a.m. at 2270 Acton St. 841-2174.  

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. 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 

Berkeley Peace Walk and Vigil at 6:30 p.m. at the Berkeley BART Station. www.geocities.com/vigil4peace/vigil 

THURSDAY, MAY 11 

Berkeley Adult School Career Fair from 9 a.m. to noon at 1702 San Pablo Ave. Companies from many sectors will be participating. Open to all Bay Area residents. 644-8968. 

War Photography with James Nachtwey in conversation with Dean Orville Schell and Adjunct Professor Ken Light at 7:30 p.m. at Sibley Auditorium, Graduate School of Journalism, UC Campus. Workshop on May 12 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. www.fotovision.org 

Neighborhood Forum on Bus Rapid Transit Plans at 7 p.m. at the Willard Middle School Cafeteria, enter on Stuart St. Sponsored by the Willard Neighborhood Association. 

Richmond Southeast Shoreline Area Community Advisory Group on the cleanup of the Zeneca site meets at 6:30 p.m. at the Richmond Convention Center, Bermuda Room, 403 Civic Center Plaza at Nevin and 25th Sts. 540-3923. 

“Cost of War: The Humanitarian Crisis in Iraq” with Dr. Jeff Ritterman at 7:30 p.m. at BRJCC, 1414 Walnut St. Donation $5. 848-0237, ext. 110. 

“Peace and Reconciliation: A Christian Science Approach” with Ryder Stevens, retired Army Chaplain, at 7:30 p.m. at First Church of Christ, Scientist, 2619 Dwight Way. 848-5096.  

East Bay Mac Users Group Chuck Rodgers presents MacSpeech at 6 p.m. at Expression College for Digital Arts, 6601 Shellmound St., Emeryville. http://ebmug.org 

Teen Book Group meets to discuss “Cheaters” by Eric Jerome Dickey at 4 p.m. at Berkeley Public Library, South Branch, 1901 Russell St. 981-6147. 

“Metabolic Tune Up: Keys to Weight Balance and Vitality” at 5:30 p.m. at Pharmaca Integrative Pharmacy, 1744 Solano Ave. 527-8929. 

ONGOING 

Poll Workers Needed in Alameda County for June 6 Primary Election. Poll workers must be eligible to register to vote in California, have basic clerical skills. Training classes begin in May. 272-6971. 

Berkeley Youth Alternatives Youth Sports Classes NFL Flag Football for boys and girls ages 9 to 12 begins May 9, 4:30 to 6 p.m. Cost is $10-$15 for 5 weeks, and Pee Wee Basketball for boys and girls ages 6 to 8 begins May 13, 10 a.m. to noon. Cost is $25-$35 for 6 weeks. For more information contact BYA Sports & Fitness Department 845-9066.  

CITY MEETINGS 

Council Agenda Committee meets Mon. May 8, at 2:30 p.m., at 2180 Milvia St. 981-6900. 

Commission on Disability meets Wed., May 10, at 6:30 p.m. at the North Berkeley Senior Center. Don Brown, 981-6346. TDD: 981-6345.  

Homeless Commission meets Wed., May 10, at 7 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center. Jane Micallef, 981-5426.  

Planning Commission meets Wed., May 10, at 7 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center. Janet Homrighausen, 981-7484. 

Police Review Commission meets Wed., May 10, at the South Berkeley Senior Center. 981-4950.  

Waterfront Commission meets Wed., May 10, at 7 p.m., at 201 University Ave. Cliff Marchetti, 981-6740.  

Commission on Early Childhood Education meets Tues. May 11, at 7 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center. Angellique De Cloud, 981-5428.  

Community Health Commission meets Thurs., May 11, at 6:45 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center. Kristin Tehrani, 981-5356.  

West Berkeley Project Area Commission meets Thurs., May 11, at 7 p.m., at the West Berkeley Senior Center. Iris Starr, 981-7520.  

Zoning Adjustments Board meets Thurs., May 11, at 7 p.m., in City Council Chambers. Mark Rhoades, 981-7410.ª


Arts Calendar

Tuesday May 02, 2006

TUESDAY, MAY 2 

CHILDREN 

“The Riddle of Ridley Acres” by First Stage Children’s Theater at 7:30 p.m. at Julia Morgan Center for the Arts, 2640 College Ave. Tickets are $5 at the door. www.juliamorgan.org 

Japanese Carp Day Celebration from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Habitot, 2065 Kittredge St. Children can make carp kites and listen to Japanese stories. Free. 647-1111.  

EXHIBITIONS 

“Drawings and Prints” by Georgianna Greenwood at North Berkeley Gallery, 1744 Shattuck Ave. 595-8137. 

FILM 

“Fugitive Prayers” at 7 p.m., “The Bridge” at 9:20 p.m. at the Pacific Film Archive. Cost is $4-$8. 642-0808.  

READINGS AND LECTURES 

Rose Castillo Guibault reads from her memoir, “Farmworker’s Daughter: Growing Up Mexican in America” at 6 :30 p.m. at the César Chávez Branch of the Oakland Public Library, 3301 East 12th St. 535-5620. 

Freight and Salvage Open Mic at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $4.50-$5.50. 548-1761.  

Karen Finley reads from her new comic novel “George & Martha” at 7:30 p.m. at Cody’s Books. 845-7852.  

MUSIC AND DANCE 

Brass Menagerie at 8:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Balkan dance lesson at 7:30 p.m. Cost is $10. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

Ellen Hoffman and Singers’ Open Mic at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $5. 841-JAZZ.  

Barbara Linn at 7 p.m. at Caffe Trieste, 2500 San Pablo Ave., at Dwight. 548-5198.  

WEDNESDAY, MAY 3 

EXHIBITIONS 

“The Flaming Sword of Truth” UCB Master of Fine Arts Graduate Exhibition opens at Berkeley Art Museum, 2626 Bancroft Way. 642-0808. 

FILM 

“The Sun” at 7 p.m., “The Betrayal” at 9:15 p.m. at the Pacific Film Archive. Cost is $4-$8. 642-0808.  

READINGS AND LECTURES 

Kamran Nazeer discusses “Send in the Idiots: Stories from the Other Side of Autism” at 7:30 p.m. at Cody’s Books. 845-7852. www.codysbooks.com  

Molly O’Neill describes “Mostly True: A Memoir of Family, Food, and Baseball” at 7:30 p.m. at Cody’s Books on Fourth St. 559-9500. 

MUSIC AND DANCE 

George Ryder and The Joy of Music “The Show to Remember” at 1:15 p.m. at the North Berkeley Senior Center, 1901 Hearst. 981-5190. 

Music for the Spirit with Ron McKean, Marcel Dupre and Virgil Fox on the organ at 12:15 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church of Oakland, 2619 Broadway. 444-3555. 

Whiskey Brothers Old Time and Bluegrass at 9 p.m. at Albatross, 1822 San Pablo Ave. 843-2473. www.albatrosspub.com 

Calvin Keys Trio at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $5. 841-JAZZ.  

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

Ben Adams Trio at 8:30 p.m. at the Uptown Nightclub, 1928 Telegraph, Oakland. Cost is $5. 451-8100. 

3 Strikes at 9 p.m. at Blakes on Telegraph. Cost is $8-$10. 848-0886.  

Universal at 9:30 p.m. at Shattuck Down Low, 2284 Shattuck Ave. Cost is $5-$10. 548-1159.  

THURSDAY, MAY 4 

CHILDREN 

“East of the Sun, West of the Moon” by the Montessori Family School in collaboration with Vector Theater at 7:30 p.m. at the Julia Morgan Theater, 2640 College Ave. Tickets are $7-$12 at the door. www.juliamorgan.org 

EXHIBITIONS 

Keeyla Meadows Paintings opens at Bucci’s 6121 Hollis, Emeryville. 

FILM 

First Impressions: “By Rail and Trail: New Orleans to the Golden Gate over the Southern Pacific Sunset Route” at 5:30 p.m. “Bashing” at 7 p.m. and “Iraq in Fragments” at 8:45 p.m. at the Pacific Film Archive. 642-0808.  

READINGS AND LECTURES.  

“Walter Ratcliff, Architect” an illustrated talk by Woodruff Minor, author of “Ratcliff Architecture” at 7:30 at Claiborne Hill Chapel, 2509 Hillegass Ave. Cost is $10. Tour of Ratcliff residences in Claremont Park on May 7 from 1 to 5 p.m. Sponsored by Berkeley Architectural Heritage Assoc. www.berkeleyheritage.com 

“The Bancroft Library at 100” a lecture by Mark Griffith at 5:30 p.m. at the Berkeley Art Museum, 2626 Bancroft Ave. 642-0808.  

Rafaella Del Bourgo, poet, at 7 p.m. at the Albany Library, 1247 Marin Ave. 526-3720. 

Sandy Tolan in conversation with Cynthia Gorney on Tolan’s book, “The Lemon Tree” on Israeli-Palestinian relations, at 7 p.m. at Cody’s Books on Fourth St. 559-9500. 

Diana Abu-Jaber introduces her memoir “The Language of Baklava” at 7:30 p.m. at Cody’s Books. 845-7852.  

Word Beat Reading Series with Mark Schwartz and M. K. Chavez at 7 p.m. at Mediterraneum Caffe, 2475 Telegraph Ave. 526-5985. 

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

MUSIC AND DANCE 

Seriously Soprano with Amyrose McCue Gill, Kate Offer at 8 p.m. at Regents Hall, Holy Name University, 3500 Mountain Blvd. Oakland. Free, donations accepted. 

Ancient Future, guitar and sitar, at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $18.50-$19.50. 548-1761. 

Play’s Monk at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $5. 841-JAZZ.  

The 500’s, The Concumbines, The Solvents at 9:30 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $5. 841-2082 www.starryploughpub.com 

Showtime @ 11 Hip Hop at 10 p.m. at the Ivy Room, 585 San Pablo Ave. at Solano. 524-9220.  

San Pablo Project at 9 p.m. at the Uptown Nightclub, 1928 Telegraph, Oakland. Cost is $6. 451-8100.  

FRIDAY, MAY 5 

CHILDREN 

“East of the Sun, West of the Moon” by the Montessori Family School in collaboration with Vector Theater at 7:30 p.m. at the Julia Morgan Center for the Arts, 2640 College Ave. Tickets are $7-$12 at the door.  

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with Ballet Folklorico Mexicano de Carlos Moreno at 3:30 p.m. at Habitot, 2065 Kittredge St. Free. 647-1111. 

THEATER 

Actors Ensemble of Berkeley “The Devil’s Disciple” by G.B. Shaw, Fri. and Sat. at 8 p.m. at Live Oak Theater, 1301 Shattuck Ave. Tickets are $12. 649-5999. www.aeofberkeley.org 

Aurora Theatre “Small Tragedy” Wed.-Sat at 8 p.m., Sun. at 2 and 7 p.m. at 2081 Addison St., through May 14. Tickets are $38. 843-4822.  

Berkeley Rep “The Glass Menagerie” at 8 p.m. at the Thrust Stage, 2025 Addison St. Tickets are $59. Runs through June 18. 647-2949.  

Contra Costa Civic Theater “Animal Crackers” at 8 p.m. Fri and Sat., and Sun. at 2 p.m. at Contra Costa Civic Theater, 951 Pomona Ave., El Cerrito, through May 20. Tickets are $12-$20. 524-9132.  

Impact Theater “Money & Run Episode 4: Go Straight, No Chaser,” Thurs.-Sat. at 8 p.m. at La Val’s Subterranean, 1834 Euclid Ave. Cost is $10-$15. 464-4468. 

Masquers Playhouse “Relative Values” by Noel Coward. Fri. and Sat. at 8 p.m. at 105 Park Place, Point Richmond, through May 6. Tickets are $15. 232-4031. www.masquers.org 

Subterranean Shakespeare “Richard III” Thurs.-Sat. at 8 p.m. at Berkeley Art Center, 1275 Walnut St., through May. 20. Tickets are $12-$17. 276-3871. 

EXHIBITIONS 

New Work by Ben Belknap and Crystal Morey, figurative ceramic sculptors. Opening reception at 7 p.m. at Boontling Gallery 4224 Telegraph Ave., Oakland. www.boontlinggallery.com  

“Elsewhere: Places for the Spirit” Oil paintings by Trish Booth opens with a reception at 5 p.m. at Esteban Sabar Gallery, 480 23rd St., Oakland. 444-7411. www.estebansabar.com 

“Real and Imaginary” paintings by Bethany Ayres opens with a reception at 5 p.m. at Esteban Sabar Gallery, 480 23rd St., Oakland. 444-7411.  

“Cats and Fish” Group art show opens at 7 p.m. at WoW Art Gallery, 3721 Grand Ave. 419-0343. 

FILM 

Queer to Eternity Film Festival at 7 p.m. and May 6 at 2 p.m. at Pacific School of Religion, 1798 Scenic Ave. 849-8206. www.clgs.org 

A Tribute to Jean-Claude Carrière: “Diary of a Chambermaid” at 7 p.m. “The Milky Way” at 9 p.m. at the Pacific Film Archive. Cost is $4-$8. 642-0808.  

READINGS AND LECTURES 

Andrew Ross discusses “Fast Boat to China: Corporate Flight and the Consequences of Free Trade” at 12:30 p.m. at Cody’s Books. 845-7852.  

“Hip Hop’s Impact on the American Family” with Adisa Banjoko, Tamara Palmer, T-Kash, Eric Arnold and others at 7:30 p.m. at at Cody’s Books. 845-7852.  

“From Ike to Mao and Beyond: My Journey from Mainstream America to Revolutionary Communist” read by community members at 4:30 p.m. at Revolution Books, 2426 Channing Way, under the Sather Gate Garage. 848-1196. 

MUSIC AND DANCE 

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago at 8 p.m. at Zellerbach Hall, UC Campus. Tickets are $30-$52. 642-9988.  

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

Miriam Abramowitsch, mezzo-soprano, George Barth, piano, at 8 p.m. at Giorgi Gallery, 2911 Claremont Ave. Cost is $12. 848-1228.  

Lavay Smith at 8:30 p.m. at the Uptown Nightclub, 1928 Telegraph, Oakland. Cost is $15. 451-8100.  

Domeshot, Sleep in Fame, Maxwell Adams, Almost Dead at 8:30 p.m. at Blakes on Telegraph. Cost is $8-$10. 848-0886.  

Cinco de Mayo Pachucada Celebration at 8:30 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $8-$15. 849-2568.  

Pamela Rose and her Quartet at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $7. 841-JAZZ.  

Swingthing at 9 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Swing dance lesson at 8 p.m. Cost is $11-$13. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

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

Norton Buffalo & Friends at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $17.50-$18.50. 548-1761.  

Dave Bernstein Trio at 9 p.m. at Downtown. 649-3810.  

Abel Mouton, Eric Marshall and Genna Giacobassi, singer-songwriters, at 7:30 p.m. at Nomad Cafe, 6500 Shattuck Ave. 595-5344.  

Boatclub, Go Going Gone Girls, Bunny Numpkins at 9:30 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $6. 841-2082.  

Crom, Total Shutdown, Doomsday 1999 at 8 p.m. at 924 Gilman St. Cost is $6. 525-9926. 

Albino, heavy Afro-beat, at 9:30 p.m. at Shattuck Down Low. Cost is $8. 548-1159.  

Suzanna Choffel at 8:30 p.m. at Epic Arts, 1923 Ashby Ave. Cost is $5-$10. 644-2204.  

SATURDAY, MAY 6 

EXHIBITIONS 

Piecemakers Quilting Guild Legacies of Love Quilting Show with 250 quilts on display, Sat. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sun. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Hayward Centennial Hall, 22292 Foothill Blvd., Hayward. Tickets are $6-$8 at the door. www.piecemakersguild.org 

I Madé Moja, works by the Balinese artist opens with a reception at 4 p.m. at Désa Arts, 4810 Telegraph Ave. 595-1669. 

“Behind the Magic: 50 Years of Disneyland” Exhibition opens at the Oakland Museum of California, 10th and Oak Sts., 238-2200. 

FILM 

A Tribute to Jean-Claude Carrière: “The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie” at 6:30 p.m. “The Phantom of Liberty” at 8:30 p.m. at the Pacific Film Archive. Cost is $4-$8. 642-0808. www.bampfa.berkeley.edu 

READINGS AND LECTURES 

“Has Digital Photography Killed Ansel Adams?” a lecture on the future of black and white photography by Andrea McLaughlin at 2 p.m. at Berkeley Public Library, 2090 Kittredge St. 981-6100. 

“Drawn Together by Line” Gallery talk with the artists Nora Pauwels, Ann Stoeher and Livia Stein, at 2 p.m. at Kala Art Institute, 1060 Heinz Ave. 549-2977. 

Ken Croswell, astronomer, introduces photographs of every planet orbiting the sun in “Ten Worlds” at 7:30 p.m. at Cody’s Books on Telegraph. 845-7852. www.codysbooks.com  

Bay Area Poets Coalition holds an open reading from 3 to 5 p.m., at Strawberry Creek Lodge, 1320 Addison St. Park on the street, not in Lodge parking lot. Free. 527-9905. 

MUSIC AND DANCE 

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago at 8 p.m. at Zellerbach Hall, UC Campus. Tickets are $30-$52. 642-9988.  

Mozart for Mutts and Meows, members of the Midsummer Mozart Festival perform in a benefit for the Berkeley-East Bay Humane Society at 7 p.m. at the Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant Ave. Tickets are $75. 845-7735, ext. 19. www.berkeleyhumane.org 

Berkeley Community Chorus and Orchestra presents the Beethoven Mass in C Major, Faure Pavane for Chorus and other musical highlights at 8 p.m. at Saint Joseph The Worker Church, 1640 Addison St. Free admission, donations always welcome. www.bcco.org  

sfSoundGroup performs music of Cage, Webern, Kagel, Grisey, Ingalls and Bithell at 8 p.m. at Trinity Chapel, 2320 Dana St. bet. Durant and Bancroft. Tickets are $12-$18. 549-3864.  

Healing Muses “The Flame of Love, The Legend of Tristan and Iseult“ at 8 p.m. at St. Alban’s Episcopal Church, 1501 Washington St., Albany. Tickets are $15-$18. Resevations recommended. Not wheelchair accessible. 524-5661.  

University Symphony Orchestra “Prokofiev Piano Concerto” at 8 p.m. at Hertz Hall, UC Campus. Tickets are $3-$10. 642-4864. www.calperfs.berkeley.edu 

Persephene’s Bees, Boyjazz, Outline Kit at 8 p.m. at the Uptown Nightclub, 1928 Telegraph, Oakland. Cost is $8. 451-8100.  

Steve Seskin and Allen Shamblin at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $18.50-$19.50. 548-1761.  

Rockin’ Jalapeño Pachuco Party at 9:30 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $8-$12. 849-2568. www.lapena.org  

Fourtet Jazz Group at 9:30 p.m. at Albatross, 1822 San Pablo Ave. Cost is $3. 843-2473.  

The Youngs, Brian Kenney Fresno, Salane and Friends at 9:30 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $6. 841-2082. www.starryploughpub.com 

Hanif & the Jazz Voyagers at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island. Cost is $7. 841-JAZZ. 

The Snake Trio at 8 p.m. at the Jazzschool. Cost is $12-$15. 845-5373.  

Berkeley Old TIme Music Convention Family dance at 7 p.m. followed by concert with Thompson’s String Ticklers and the Squirrelly Stringband at 8 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $12 adutls, $6 ages 12-18, under 12 free. 525-5054.  

Aratic An Opiate for Angels at 8:30 p.m. at Blakes on Telegraph. Cost is $8-$10. 848-0886.  

Denise Perrier Trio at 9 p.m. at Downtown. 649-3810.  

Inspect Her Gadget Element 94, Red Horizon, Normal Like You, all ages show at 7 p.m. at the Oakland Metro, 201 Broadway at 2nd St., Oakland. Cost is $10.  

Kurt Huget and Kirk Keeler, singer-songwriters, at 7:30 p.m. at Nomad Cafe, 6500 Shattuck Ave. 595-5344.  

Sotaque Baiano at 9 p.m. at Shattuck Down Low. Cost is $10-$12. 548-1159. 

Teenage Harlets, Ashtray, Insurgence, Static Revolution at 8 p.m. at 924 Gilman St. Cost is $7. 525-9926. 

SUNDAY, MAY 7 

CHILDREN  

“Flower Tower” children’s music by The Sippy Cups at 12:30 and 3 p.m. at Julia Morgan Center for the Arts, 2640 College Ave. Tickets are $10.50-$12.50. 925-798-1300. 

EXHIBITIONS 

“The Art of Political Posters and Photographs” Reception at 6 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Donation $5. 849-2568.  

FILM 

For the Love of It: Sixth Annual Festival of Amateur Filmmaking at 3 p.m. at the Pacific Film Archive. Cost is $4-$8. 642-0808.  

READINGS AND LECTURES 

The State of the People Address, anti-war poetry and open mic, at 6:30 p.m. at La Peña. Free. 849-2568.  

Phyllis Mattson introduces “War Orphan in San Francisco: Letters Link a Family Scattered by WWII” at 2 p.m. at BRJCC, 1414 Walnut St. 848-0237. 

“Shocking Stories” Living history performances of the 1906 earthquake and fire at 2 p.m. at the Oakland Museum of California, 10th and Oak Sts. Cost is $5-$8. 238-2200. 

Ester Hernandez discusses her art of the Chicano Movement at 3:30 p.m. at the Oakland Museum of California, 10th and Oak Sts. Cost is $5-$8. 238-2200. 

Devyani Saltzman reads from “Shooting Water: A Memoir of Second Chances, Family, and Filmmaking” at 4 p.m. at Cody’s Books. 845-7852.  

Poetry Flash with Murray Silverstein and Sharon Olson at 7:30 p.m. at Cody’s Books on Telegraph. Donation $2. 845-7852. www.codysbooks.com 

MUSIC AND DANCE 

Berkeley Community Chorus and Orchestra at 4:30 p.m. at Saint Joseph The Worker Church, 1640 Addison St. Free admission, donations always welcome.  

James Tinsley, trumpet, Miles Graber, piano at 4 p.m. All proceeds will go to support the Children’s Center for AIDS Orphans, Ilinge, South Africa. For directions, call 848-1755.  

The Jerusalem Quartet at 3 p.m. at Hertz Hall, UC Campus. Tickets are $42. 642-9988.  

Joe Gilman Trio at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $10. 841-JAZZ.  

Montclair Women’s Big Band at 4:30 and 6:30 p.m. at the Jazz 

school. Cost is $20. 845-5373.  

Twang Cafe with JimBo Trout and the Fishpeople at 7:30 p.m. at Epic Arts, 1923 Ashby Ave. Cost is $5-$10. 644-2204.  

Tragedy, Born/Dead, Witch Hunt, Deathtoll at 5 p.m. at 924 Gilman St. Cost is $7. 525-9926. 


Arts: Benny Golson Headlines At Yoshi’s This Weekend

By Ira Steingroot Special to the Planet
Tuesday May 02, 2006

If you saw Steven Spielberg’s somewhat unfocused 2004 film Terminal starring Tom Hanks, you may remember that Hanks’ character travels to America, where he proceeds to get stuck at JFK Airport, in order to fulfill a promise he had made to his late father. 

It seems the aged parent had collected the John Hancocks of all but one of the 58 jazz musician subjects of Art Kane’s famous 1958 Esquire photo “A Day in Harlem” and he made his son Viktor promise to complete his project. (The photo was the subject of Jean Bach’s moving 1994 jazz documentary A Great Day in Harlem.) Luckily for Viktor, the omitted musician was tenor saxophonist Benny Golson, one of the half dozen jazz legends from that photo shoot who are still alive. 

Luckily for us, Benny Golson, who turned 77 on Jan. 26, is still very much alive and, along with his combo from the Spielberg film, he plays at Yoshi’s later this week. 

Golson was part of the Northern industrial urban generation of jazz musicians who spawned hard bop. He grew up in Philadelphia and while still in high school was playing with friends like John Coltrane, Jimmy and Percy Heath, Red Garland and Philly Joe Jones. Later, while with Lionel Hampton, he worked alongside Clifford Brown. Within a few years, these players were to build on the innovations of bebop to create hard bop in the bands of Art Blakey, Miles Davis and Max Roach. 

Golson is one of the greatest hard bop tenor saxophonists, second only to Sonny Rollins. He is also a master composer and arranger having penned more than 300 compositions. His most famous pieces, all jazz standards, are “Stablemates,” “Along Came Betty,” “Five Spot After Dark,” “Blues March,” “Whisper Not, Fair Weather,” “Killer Joe,” and “I Remember Clifford,” his hauntingly lyrical elegy for his friend, trumpet great Clifford Brown, killed in a car crash in 1956. 

From 1959 until 1962 he co-led a famous all-star group of his own, the Jazztet featuring Art Farmer and Curtis Fuller. 

From 1963-1974 he worked in the studios and composed music for television shows you probably saw and can still see in syndication like Mission: Impossible, Ironsides, Mannix, It Takes a Thief, Room 222, M*A*S*H, and Six Million Dollar Man. Although he returned to playing live jazz in the ‘70s and even re-formed the Jazztet in 1982, he still found time to do the music for Guy Debord’s 1978 documentary In girum imus nocte et consumimur igni and wrote the theme for Cosby in 1996. 

Golson’s place in the history of modern jazz is analogous to that of swing era alto saxophonist Benny Carter. Both Carter and Golson were masters on their horns: virtuosic, inspired improvisers, innovators, but with composers’ minds. This gave their work greater formal coherence than that of many of their compatriots. It also led them into the studios and the world of film and television writing. Both were too great to be hurt by their forays into the commercial world. In fact, even in the commercial milieu, they performed at a higher level than most of their contemporaries. Yet both knew that they had to continue to play authentic jazz. 

Benny Golson is here to tell us that he is still doing exactly that.  

 

The Benny Golson Quartet featuring Mike LeDonne (piano), Buster Williams (bass), and Carl Allen (drums), performs at 8 and 10 p.n. Thursday through Sunday and at 2 and 8 p.m. Sunday at Yoshi’s, 510 Embarcadero West, Oakland. 238-9200. www.yoshis.com.a


Arts: A Tale of Genocide Unfolds in TheatreFIRST’s ‘World Music’

By Ken Bullock Special to the Planet
Tuesday May 02, 2006

“Welcome to Europe!” As a British father and son reunite in Brussels and stumble through French to order food in a cafe, a young African waitress surprises both by speaking to them in English. 

“Of course! This is Europe.” The father, Geoff Fallon (Clive Chafer) chides his 20-ish son Tim (Alex Klein) for speaking of EuroDisney and of visiting Buchenwald rather than engaging with his father’s work and obsession, postcolonial Africa. “At the very least, I’ve kept faith!” 

This seemingly typical intergenerational misunderstanding is quickly intercut onstage with scenes of a different European welcome that Geoff Fallon is giving to his old friend and recent refugee Jean Kiyabe (L. Peter Callender), who has come to address the Euro Government: “The International Community. I cannot say I understand this phrase ... We call you birds. You fly in with your plans. You have such plans for us—and in our time of need and struggle, you are gone again ... Forgive me. I am here in sadness not in anger.” 

TheatreFIRST’s production of Steve Water’s World Music (now playing at the Old Oakland Theatre on Ninth Street near Broadway) starts off like this, with intercut scenes and dialogue that bounce off the maze of committee rooms and around a center of international bureaucracy, with all the professions of friendship, the backroom jockeying for position and half-whispered trading of rumors and hunches that underpin the business of diplomacy. In this case it is the very undiplomatic declaration and censuring of genocide and all the arguments over terminology and cultural context to describe actions almost unimaginable.  

In succeeding scenes, World Music settles down to the counterpoint of following Fallon’s driven existence, ceaselessly working on behalf of his old friends from Africa, against flashbacks of the arrival of his younger self (also played by Alex Klein) in Kiyabe’s village in “Irundi” to teach English, and how his beliefs are formed “on the ground.” 

These are beliefs that are shown in their later professional expression and personal unravelling, as the contradictions and misunderstandings surrounding mass hysteria and killing find a touchstone in this lonely individual, so far from the events for which he declares a sense of personal responsibility. 

“It’s hard to get an audience to come to a play about genocide,” said Clive Chafer, who’s also artistic director and co-founder of TheatreFIRST. 

World Music proves to be a play about genocide that takes pains not to brutalize its audience’s perceptions with scenes of barbarity—or even the celebrated messenger’s grisly account of them. 

Steve Waters tries to capture the aftershocks and backwash of events, to provide a tour around the perimeter of things too big, too horrible to grasp, by conveying a sense of their effects on both victim and perpetrator—and on those who stand by, wrestling with indifference, concern and feelings of helplessness as they’re called on to intervene, yet urged to act with discretion—or not to act at all. 

By following the story of one man progressively wrapped up more and more in this deadly business throughout his adult life, the play skirts melodrama and avoids sentimentalism by staying focussed on the situations and relationships that crystalize around the figure of Geoff. 

A drunken Kiyabe, rebuffed by Geoff’s colleague Paulette James (Leontyne Mbele-Mbong), who’s refused the “compliment” of being an African woman with “I don’t go further back than St. Kitts,” ominously asks her to protect him “when the time comes.” Florence (Shakira Patrice De Abreu), the waitress/philology student tells her would-be protector Geoff what her bad dreams are really about. Kiyabe snapping a picture of young Geoff and Odette (Ashleyrose Gilham), the young village woman who seems to be Kiyabe’s ward or captive. Geoff sarcastically says of his chief in their “lofty castle” of international government, Alan Carswell (Garth Petal), cutting a meeting short to see a Lithuanian delegation, “He’s sure keen on those Baltic States!” 

These are all moments that expand into the world outside that Geoff “advocates” by sacrificing his own emotional life, becoming another refugee himself, an internal exile in a half-world peopled with representatives of the silent, arguing over words, and the guilty survivors, whose own stories betray them. 

Dylan Russell has shown great care in directing a tight cast with a real commitment to perform a play that exposes the perils of that glib word, one used more for “committing” military aid or troops than for the unreserved giving of self, keeping their characters’ stories open to the dire contradictions they pose, and to the questions begged, rather than screamed out. 

 

 

WORLD MUSIC 

Presented by TheatreFIRST at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturdayby and 3 p.m. Sunday through May 21. Old Oakland Theatre, 461 Ninth St. (at Broadway), Oakland. 436-5085 www.theatrefirst.com.›


The Not-So-Sweet Life of the Lemon Tree

By Ron Sullivan Special to the Planet
Tuesday May 02, 2006

Lemon tree very pretty  

And the lemon flower is sweet, 

But the fruit of the poor lemon 

Is impossible to eat. 

 

It’s a slander of course, but I do remember Trini Lopez singing the song on the radio way back when. I remember hearing covers from Peter Paul and Mary and one of my schoolmates, too— catchy tune. At least it wasn’t “Banana Boat,” a song with a recurring “Deo” (or “Day-o”) upon which a pretentious or inebriated singer could get stuck for long minutes.  

Lemon trees like our climate just fine, which is fortunate because we like lemons just fine too, as a rule. Yes, there are a few on the streets, and there are more in yards and gardens. Aside from their nice fruit, they look handsome and atmospheric in Mediterranean-style settings, with adobe, stucco, or tiled surfaces. They’ll do fine in a big pot, too, and tolerate frequent pruning for size control. And their blooms do smell lovely, a great asset in a courtyard or small garden.  

One group of them that I know personally, because they live outside a veterinary clinic we frequent, get pruned rather cruelly into a forced tight shape and are barely recognizable as lemon trees. As a result of this and other hard bits of their lives, like their situation on a busy street and jammed into sidewalk wells, they seem prone to the diseases and disorders that can plague citrus trees here: infestations by scale insects, aphids and other bugs, black mold and mildew, and the ravages of snails. Snails will eat new leaves and even fruit and bark from lemons, enough to kill the trees sometimes.  

I have heard of citrus hedges, and seen a few, but they need good air circulation and attention—looking for bugs and mold and hosing down in summer to get rid of them—to thrive. 

Another problem those poor sidewalk trees have to cope with is the clay and sidewalk combo. They need good drainage, as do all citrus.  

We once moved into a flat in the Potter Creek drainage with an orange tree out back. I was ignorant enough about trees back then not to recognize that it was declining; it died within a few years and I felt guilty. We hung it with birdfeeders and windchimes, and one day decided to saw off a branch that had become snagged in a live and spreading eugenia next to it. It was rather a shock, like waking up to find yourself in a Bugs Bunny cartoon, when Joe sawed off the dead branch and braced to catch it, and instead the branch stayed suspended in the eugenia and the dead orange fell over.  

What we found at its base was a hole full of stinking water and a rotted-through stump. Mystery solved and no more guilt.  

One impediment to pruning, snagging snails, and even picking lemons is that the trees often sport big green thorns. In my experience, they don’t “heal” well from big pruning cuts, either, so if you have one it’s a good idea to set its shape early in its life and then control size by making smaller cuts frequently. Don’t shear it, though, unless you want an impenetrable thorny mass of blackened, puckered leaves in a year or two or you’re ready to give it the attention a hedge needs. 

If you’re planting a lemon for fruit, note the prices of Meyer lemons in the market and that that hybrid/cultivar is a prolific bearer here. It’s also cold-tolerant as lemons go, probably owing to its orange or mandarin parentage. (There are conflicting stories about which it is, and most writers on the subject just admit they don’t know.)  

You might want to put it where it’s protected from human poaching, too. A friend of mine swaps her Meyer lemons around to friends and other gardeners, and donates some to an elders’ food pantry. This year she can’t give her lemon tree as much attention as usual, and lately she’s found that someone’s been ripping off lemons, and in rather a careless fashion that damages the tree too. Human behavior can taste a lot more bitter than lemons.  

 

Photograph by: Ron Sullivan 

This beleaguered street tree manages to bear flowers and fruit: one lonely little lemon.


Berkeley This Week

Tuesday May 02, 2006

TUESDAY, MAY 2 

Sunshine Ordinance Community Meeting Come help to propose a strong sunshine ordinance to make Berkeley’s decision-making processes more accessible to residents at 7 p.m. at 2180 Milvia St., 6th Floor. 981-7170. 

“Loose Change 911” Documentary on the myth of 9/11 followed by a discussion with the filmmakers Dylan Avery and Korey Rowe at 7 p.m. at the Grand Lake Theater, 3200 Grand Ave., Oakland. Donation of $10, benefits Guns-n-Butter. 704-0268.  

Climate Change class meets Tues. from 1 to 3 p.m. at the North Berkeley Senior Center. Topics include science, projected impacts, individual behavior, and policy. 981-5190. 

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. 

Discussion Salon on “What Do You Do For Fun?” at 7 p.m. at the BRJCC, 1414 Walnut St. at Rose. Please bring snacks to share, no peanuts please. 

Berkeley Camera Club meets at 7:30 p.m., at the Northbrae Community Church, 941 The Alameda. Share your digital images, slides and prints and learn what other photographers are doing. Monthly field trips. 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. We offer ongoing classes in exercise and creative arts, and always welcome new members over 50. 845-6830. 

WEDNESDAY, MAY 3 

Walking Tour of Old Oakland around the restored 1870s business district. Meet at 10 a.m. in front of G.B. Ratto’s at 827 Washington St. Tour lasts 90 minutes. Reservations can be made by calling 238-3234. 

“The Secret Way to War: The Downing Street Memo and the Iraq War’s Buried History” with Mark Danner in conversation with Pratap Chatterjee at 7:30 p.m. at the Berkeley Richmond Jewish Community Center, 1414 Walnut St. Tickets are $10-$12 available at local independent bookstores. Benefits Global Exchange. 967-4495. 

“Is the Bush Administration Guilty of Torture and War Crimes?” Panel with Brig. General Janis Karpinski, former UK ambassador Craig Murray, and Larry Everest at 7 p.m. at 2050 Valley Life Sciences Building, UC Campus. Admission $5-$10 sliding scale, no one turned away for lack of funds. 355- 6915.  

“Vote Rigging 101” A documentary film at 7:30 p.m. at Humanist Hall, 390 27th St., Oakland. Donations of $5 accepted. 

Lonely Planet Travel Series with Emily Wolman and Heather Dickson on Women Solo Travels at 6 p.m. at Oakland Public Library, 124 14th St. 238-3136. 

Classes in English and Citizenship offered by the Oakland Adult Education program Mon.-Fri. from 6 to 9 p.m. Free. Register at Lincoln Elementary School, 225 11th St., room 205. 879-8131. 

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. 548-9840. 

Red Cross Blood Services Volunteer Orientation from 10 a.m. to noon in Oakland. We need your help to support the more than 40 blood drives held each month all over the East Bay.For more information, phone Anne at 594-5165.  

Red Cross Blood Drive from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. East Pauley Ballroom, MLK Student Union, 3rd floor, UC Campus. To make an appointment call 1-800-GIVE-LIFE. www.BeADonor.com  

Swami Khecaranatha Kundalini Yoga Talk at 7 p.m. at Sacred Space Yoga Sanctuary, 816 Bancroft at 6th. Free. 486-8700.  

Weight Management Learn the best way to eat to maintain a healthy weight at 7:30 p.m. at Elephant Pharmacy, 1607 Shattuck Ave. 549-9200. 

The Berkeley Lawn Bowling Club provides free instruction every Wed. and Sat. at 10:30 a.m. at 2270 Acton St. 841-2174.  

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.  

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 

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. at the Berkeley BART Station, corner of Shattuck and Center. www.geocities. 

com/vigil4peace/vigil 

THURSDAY, MAY 4 

Chabot Space & Science Center Open House for Educators from 3 to 7 p.m. Learn about education programs, lesson plans, activities and community resources from other organizations. Free but pre-registration required www.chabotspace.org 

“Dog’s and Children: Can’t We All Just Get Along?” A lecture on on how to raise a well-behaved pet, at 7:30 p.m. at Borders Books in Emeryville. 644-0729. www.openpaw.org 

Red Cross Blood Drive from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. East Pauley Ballroom, MLK Student Union, 3rd floor, UC Campus. To make an appointment call 1-800-GIVE-LIFE. www.BeADonor.com  

“Be the Stars You Are” Personal stories from scholarship recipients at 7:30 p.m. at Arlington Community Church, 52 Arlington Ave. Cost is $5-$10. www.peointernational.org 

Bone Yoga Learn how yoga can increase bone density at 7:30 p.m. at Elephant Pharmacy, 1607 Shattuck Ave. 549-9200. 

Spring Cleaning for your Body A 21 day guided detoxification and allergy elimination diet, free introductory lecture at 6:15 p.m. at Acupuncture and Integrative Medicine College, 2550 Shattuck Ave. Registration required. 415-513-7270.  

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, MAY 5 

City Commons Club Noon Luncheon with Carl Poppe. Livermore Lab on “Energy” 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.  

“A Pictorial History of Palestine from the late Ottoman Period to 1948” with Mona and David Halaby, who will show photos and tell their family stories at 7 p.m. at St. Joseph the Worker School, 2125 Jefferson St. Free, not wheelchair accessible. 708-3347. 

“Just Garments” An evening of speakers, music, art, and film to pressure the City of Berkeley to purchase only sweat shop free goods and a benefit for Just Garments at 7 p.m. at Berkeley Fellowship Unitarian Universalists Hall, 1924 Cedar St. and Bonita Ave. Tickets are $10-$25 sliding scale; no one turned away for lack of funds. 415-575-5541. www.globalexchange.org/sweatfreebayarea 

“Tibetan Religion and State in the 17th and 18th Centuries: Tibetan, Chinese, and Mongolian Perspectives” A conference from Fri. - Sun. sponsored by the Center for Buddhist Studies, Institute of East Asian Studies, Center for Chinese Studies, and Townsend Center for the Humanities http://ieas.berkeley.edu/ 

Berkeley School Volunteers Training workshop for volunteers interested in helping the public schools, from 2 to 3:30 p.m. at 1835 Allston Way. 644-8833. 

Emery Ed Fund Benefit at Pixar with a pre-release screening of “Cars” at 6 p.m. at Pixar Animation Studios. Tickets are $250. 601-4997. www.emeryed.org 

Red Cross Blood Drive from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the 5th floor Tilden Room, MLK Student Union, UC Campus. To make an appointment call 1-800-GIVE-LIFE. www.BeADonor.com  

Berkeley Chess School classes for students in grades 1-8 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. A drop-in, rated scholastic tournament follows from 7 to 8 p.m. at 1581 LeRoy Ave., Room 17. 843-0150. 

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. 

SATURDAY, MAY 6 

Get Ready for Diasaster Day Volunteers needed to help get disaster information out of all Berkeley neighborhoods. Meet at 10 a.m. at Francis Albrier Community Center, 2800 Park St. between Ward and Russell. Please RSVP to 981-5584, clopes@ci.berkeley.ca.us   

Fun on the Farm An introduction to Tilden Park’s Little Farm for all ages, at 11 a.m.. Be prepared to get a little firty while you help out with chores and animal grooming. 525-2233. 

Kid’s Garden Club for ages 7-12 to explore the world of gardening, from 2 to 4 p.m. at Tilden Nature Area, Tilden Park. Cost is $6-$8, registration required. 636-1684. 

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.  

Walking Tour of the Garden of Old Roses with horticulturist and rose expert, Peter Klement, to learn about the history of old roses, including the influences of Chinese, Persian and European cultures on the roses we grow today at 11:30 a.m. at UC Botanical Garden, 200 Centennial Drive. Cost is $8-$12. Registration required. 643-2755. 

“Designing a Small Garden Using Hardscape” Isabel Robertson will discuss materials you can use for walls, paths and patios at 10 a.m. at Magic Gardens Landscape Nursery, 729 Heinz Ave. 644-2351. 

Berkeley History Center Walking Tour: “Past and Promise Along the Santa Fe Right of Way” led by Susan Schwartz, from 10 a.m. to noon. Cost is $8-$10. 848-0181. www.cityofberkeley.info/histsoc 

Walking Tour of Oakland Chinatown Meet at 10 a.m. at the courtyard fountain in the Pacific Renaissance Plaza at 388 Ninth St. Tour lasts 90 minutes. Reservations can be made by calling 238-3234. www.oaklandnet.com/walkingtours 

“Heal a Woman, Heal a Child, Heal a Nation” Benefit for domestic violence centers from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at 5272 Foothill Blvd., Oakland. Donation $10 and up. 533-5306. 

Astronomy Day at Lawrence Hall of Science. Make your own sunprint and see a Planetarium show, from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at LHS, Centennial Drive. Cost is $7.50-$9.50. 642-5132. 

Progressive Democrats of the East Bay features Jerry McNerney, an alternative energy specialist, who is challenging Richard Pombo in the 11th CD. Please bring cell phones for phone banking. From 12:30 to 3 p.m. at at Temescal Library, 5205 Telegraph, Oakland. 636-4149. www.pdeastbay.org 

“The Power of Nightmares” a new documentary by BBC journalist on the “War on Terroism” Parts I and II from 3 to 5 p.m. at Humanist Hall, 390 27st., Oakland. Cost is $10. Benefits Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club. Part III will be shown on May 13th at 3 p.m. 

Piecemakers Quilting Guild Legacies of Love Quilting Show with 250 quilts on display, Sat. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sun. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Hayward Centennial Hall, 22292 Foothill Blvd., Hayward. Tickets are $6-$8 at the door. www.piecemakersguild.org 

“Behind the Magic: 50 Years of Disneyland” Exhibition opens at the Oakland Museum of California, 10th and Oak Sts., and runs through August 20. 238-2200. 

Basic Chinese Herbology at 2:30 p.m. at Elephant Pharmacy, 1607 Shattuck Ave. 549-9200. 

Pre-School Storytime for 3-5 year olds at 11 a.m. at the Albany Library, 1247 Marin Ave., through June 22. 526-3720, ext. 17. 

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 

Around the World Tour of Plants at 1:30 p.m., Thurs., Sat. and Sun. at UC Botanical Garden, 200 Centennial Drive. 643-2755. http://botanicalgarden.berkeley.edu 

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

SUNDAY, MAY 7 

Berkeley Architectural Heritage Spring House Tour of “The Residential Work of Walter Ratcliff, Jr. in Claremont Park” from 1 to 5 p.m. Tickets are $25-$35. www.berkeleyheritage.com 

Nature Photography Hike with nature photographers Bethany Facendini and Frank Balthis from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Tilden Park. All levels of ability are welcome. For ages 15 and up. Fee is $40-$44, registration required. 636-1684. 

Welcome Home the Butterflies Help weed and plant the Butterfly Garden in Tilden Park from 1 to 3 p.m. Dress to get dirty and bring garden gloves if you have them. 525-2233. 

A Child’s Container Garden: Family Workshop for 2 to 3:30 p.m. at UC Botanical Garden, 200 Centennial Drive. Cost is $14-$18, $7 for additional adult or child. Registration required, space is limited. 643-2755. 

“The 1906 Earthquake and Fire and the Multicultural Experience” Living history performances at 2 p.m. at the Oakland Museum of California, 10th and Oak Sts. Cost is $5-$8. 238-2200. 

“In the Company of Wild Butterflies” a film followed by art and microscope activities from 1 to 3 p.m. at Lawrence Hall of Science, Centennial Drive. Cost is $7.50-$9.50. 642-5132. 

Cinco de Mayo Fiesta with Mexican food, games and activities, from noon to 3 p.m. at Unitarian Universalist Church, 1 Lawson Rd., Kensington. Proceeds benefit disaster relief and other church programs. 525-0302. www.uucb.org 

Amnesty International Rummage Sale at 10 a.m. at Berkeley Fellowship, 1834 Cedar St., with books, toys, clothes, and more.  

Discussion on Development and Liveable Cities in the East Bay at 6 p.m. at the Long Haul, 3124 Shattuck Ave. 540-0751. 

Flower Essences for Animals Holistic healing therapy from 2 to 4 p.m. at Rabbitears, 303 Arlington Ave., behind Ace Hardware. Donation $15. 525-6155.  

Chinese Medicine and Lung Disease at 11:30 a.m. at Elephant Pharmacy, 1607 Shattuck Ave. 549-9200. 

Young People’s Symphony Orchestra Auditions from 2 to 6 p.m. Rehearsals are every Mon. eve. in Berkeley. For audition time please call 849-9776. www.ypsomusic.net 

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 

Tibetan Buddhism with Elizabeth Cook on “Tibetan Meditation” at 6 p.m. at the Tibetan Nyingma Institute, 1815 Highland Pl. 843-6812. www.nyingmainstitute.com 

MONDAY, MAY 8 

South Berkeley Senior Center Cultural Arts and Crafts Fair from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 2939 Ellis St. 981-5175. 

“American Triumphalism in an Age of Terror” with author Theodore Rosak at 12:30 p.m. in The Edith Stone Room of the Albany Lbrary, 1247 Marin Ave.  

“Perspectives on Berkeley: Past and Present” Chuck Wollenberg’s Berkeley history class at 7 p.m. at the Berkeley Public Library, 2090 Kittredge St. Meets Mon. evenings through May 22. Free. 981-6150. 

Berkeley School Volunteers Training workshop for volunteers interested in helping the public schools, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at 1835 Allston Way. 644-8833. 

Kids and the Law A presentation by lawyers for junior and senior high school students and their parents and guardians from 6 to 8 p.m. at the El Sobrante Library, 4191 Appian Way, El Sobrante. 374-3991.  

Red Cross Blood Drive from 12:30 to 6:30 p.m. in the Wells Fargo Room, Haas School of Business, UC Campus. To make an appointment call 1-800-GIVE-LIFE. www.BeADonor.com  

“Soul Mind Body Medicine” a talk by Master Zhi Gang Sha at 7:30 p.m. at Yoga Kula, 1700 Shattuck Ave., 2nd Flr. 486-0264. 

World Affairs/Politics Discussion Group for people 60+ years old meets at 10:15 a.m. at the Albany Senior Center, 846 Masonic Ave. Cost is $2.50. 524-9122. 

Introduction to Meditation with Diane Eshin Rizzetto at 6:45 p.m. at the Bay Zen Center, 315 Alcatraz. Donation $10. Pre-registration required. 596-3087. 

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. 

ONGOING 

Poll Workers Needed in Alameda County for June 6 Primary Election. Poll workers must be eligible to register to vote in California, have basic clerical skills. Training classes begin in May. 272-6971. 

Berkeley Youth Alternatives Youth Sports Classes NFL Flag Football for boys and girls ages 9 to 12 begins May 9, 4:30 to 6 p.m. Cost is $10-$15 for 5 weeks, and Pee Wee Basketball for boys and girls ages 6 to 8 begins May 13, 10 a.m. to noon. Cost is $25-$35 for 6 weeks. For more information contact BYA Sports & Fitness Department 845-9066. sports@byaonline.org 

CITY MEETINGS 

Commission on the Status of Women meets Wed., May 3, at 7:30 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center. Tasha Tervelon, 981-5190. www.ci.berkel 

ey.ca.us/commissions/women 

School Board meets Wed. May 3, at 7:30 p.m., in the City Council Chambers. Queen Graham 644-6147 or Mark Coplan 644-6320. 

Public Works Commission meets Thurs., May 4, at 7 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center. Jeff Egeberg, 981-6406. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/commissions/publicworks 

Housing Advisory Commission meets Thurs., May 4, at 7:30 p.m., at the South Berkeley Senior Center. Oscar Sung, 981-5400. www.ci.berkeley.ca. 

us/commissions/housing 

Landmarks Preservation Commission meets Thurs. May 4, at 7:30 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center. Gisele Sorensen, 981-7419. www.ci. 

berkeley.ca.us/commissions/landmarks