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Flying cottage engulfed in flames late Monday night.  Photograph by Anthony Cody
Flying cottage engulfed in flames late Monday night. Photograph by Anthony Cody
 

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NEWS FLASH: First Person: Flying Cottage Inferno

By Anthony Cody
Tuesday May 09, 2006
Flying cottage engulfed in flames late Monday night.  Photograph by Anthony Cody
Flying cottage engulfed in flames late Monday night. Photograph by Anthony Cody

Editor’s Note: This is a first-person account, written at 1:30 a.m. Tuesday morning, of the fire that broke out Monday night at 3045 Shattuck Ave. The structure has been known by the nickname “the Flying Cottage” ever since the owner raised a one-story house above two additional stories nearly three years ago. The city shut down the project mid-construction because the owner had not received the necessary permits for such a project and the property has sat vacant and boarded up since. 

 

First Person: Flying Cottage Inferno 

By Anthony Cody 

 

It finally happened. 

Those of you who have visited my home probably saw the unfinished three-story monstrosity next door. It has been protested by neighbors, lost its permits, and has not been worked on since we moved in here three years ago. 

In the past couple of years, it has become a favored resting place for the weary homeless. About two hours ago it went up in flames.  

At about 11:30 Monday night Alexander, Rowan and I were awakened by someone pounding on our door yelling that we had to get out of the house. We moved quickly and I put on some pants, but only wore a t-shirt, and no shoes. Rowan had on only a pair of boxers and a t-shirt. Zander was the only one of us with shoes. I did grab my camera, though.  

But before I used my camera, I grabbed the hose, and sprayed the side of our house facing the flames. I even sprayed the flames as they burst through the open window next door, and managed to subdue them a bit in that one spot. But the entire house was involved, all exposed plywood and rafters, a giant tinderbox awaiting a match.  

Then a fireman told me to stop because they had the exclusive arrangement for fire-dousing, so I retreated and picked up my 

camera instead. It still took about five more minutes for the fire fighters to commence their watery operations, during which time the fire spread from inside to the whole rooftop, as can be seen in the first picture. A large crowd gathered to watch the spectacle. We stood across the street and gawked along with the rest. 

Eventually they raised a ladder to spray water from above, to douse the most stubborn part of the fire. They sprayed using Dawn detergent, generating foam several inches deep in our yard and in the street. This acts to reduce surface tension on the water so that it penetrates the wood better. One of our neighbors, Claudia, crept into her house and retrieved us some coats to wear to keep us warm. Fortunately it was a warm, windless night. 

It took them another hour to put out all the hotspots, and they are still nextdoor at 1:30 a.m. as I write this, chopping and making sure things won't ignite again. The boys and I are doing our best to let the adrenalin subside, as the noise gradually diminishes, and perhaps we will get a few hours of sleep tonight. 

I am hoping there was not much damage to our home. Fortunately it does not smell too bad, since only wood was burning. There may be a bit of scorching of the paint on the side, but otherwise I think we are OK. 

Most of the neighbors seem happy at this turn of events, because they hated this structure, and had fought hard to block it. I do not know what will happen now. Ironically, the boys and I have been packing and moving our belongings to our new home, eight miles away in Oakland. We will only have about three more nights here. What a send-off! 

 

 

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NEWS FLASH: Cody's on Telegraph to Close

Tuesday May 09, 2006

Blaming big chain and Internet booksellers, as well as a lack of help from the city, Andy Ross, owner and president of Cody’s Books, Inc., has announced he’s shutting down Cody’s oldest store on Telegraph Avenue in July. 

The following is a statement, rel eased Tuesday, from the store announcing the closing. For more on the story, see Friday’s print issue of the Daily Planet. 

 

May 10, 2006 –  

Andy Ross, owner and president of Cody’s Books, Inc., has announced that Cody’s oldest store, on Telegraph Avenue near the University of California in Berkeley, will close its doors on July 10, 2006.  

Cody’s Books on Fourth Street i n Berkeley and Cody’s Stockton Street in San Francisco, as well as Cody’s School and Book Fair division, remain open, healthy, and intent upon continuing to provide the best of independent bookselling.  

Ross noted the fifteen-year sales decline in the south-of-campus area, resulting in Cody’s Telegraph Avenue doing only one-third of the business it did in 1990. The company’s attempt to keep this store open has caused a loss of over $1,000,000.  

“It is with a heavy heart that I must announce that Cody’s will be closing our doors at the Telegraph Avenue store for the last time on July 10. We will continue to operate our stores on Fourth Stree t in Berkeley and on Stockton Street in San Francisco.  

The Telegraph store has been declining in sales for more t han 15 years. We are now doing only 1/3 of the business that we did here in 1990. We have lost over $1,000,000 attempting to keep the store open. As a family business, we cannot continue to afford these ruinous losses.  

The book business has changed over this period. Many of our customers have found other sources for their books. In particular, the Internet has taken quite a bite out of sal es, particularly the scholarly and academic titles that have always been our specialty.  

This is Cody’s 50th year i n business and our 43rd year at this location. During this period, Cody’s has been engaged in the great issues of our time. As America inc reasingly turned to huge mass merchants and disembodied Internet retailers in their buying habits, Cody’s always urge d people to support stores in their communities.  

During the 60’s, Cody’s was part of the great anti-war movement that began in Berkeley. In 1989, we were the first victim of international terrorism in the United States. We were bombed during the Rushdie Affair. After the bombing, Cody’s staff voted unanimously to continue carrying The Satanic Verses, even in the face of threats to our li ves. This was a great and heroic act of commitment to humanistic values by simple booksellers. It was truly our finest hour. 

Throughout this period, we spoke of the dangers of economic concentration in bookselling on the part of chain stores. Sadly our w arnings have come to pass. Stores like Cody’s have become truly rare. The few that remain are cherished by their commu nities.  

Cody’s is an idea, not a building. That idea will endure in our other stores on Fourth Street and in San Francisco.  

We leave Telegraph with great sadness, but with a sense of honor that we have served our customers and our community with such distinction; and that in our own way, we have changed the world for the better and will continue to do so.  

Thank you, dear customers, for giving us that opportunity.” – Andy Ross  

 

aross@codysbooks.com 

510-845-9096 

 

melissa@codysbooks.com 

510-845-0837 




Fast-Food Plans for New Telegraph Avenue Building Alarm Neighbors

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Tuesday May 09, 2006

Neighbors of a new building on Telegraph Avenue will be raising concerns about a proposed 44-seat Quiznos restaurant at 3095 Telegraph Ave. at the Zoning Adjustments Board (ZAB) meeting on Thursday. 

Some of the immediate issues residents seek to address are parking, litter, aesthetics of a fast-food restaurant, hours of operation, quality of life, and increased traffic in their neighborhood. 

According to the neighbors, by creating a 44-seat restaurant, Sam Sorokin, the developer for Quiznos, is requesting a waiver from ZAB’s parking requirements for quick-service restaurants. 

“They should have five spots for Quiznos, based on square footage; they are asking for three because he does not have enough spots to go around,” said Henry Sobel, a homeowner on Prince Street. 

“The few fast-food restaurants that exist within a few blocks of the project (all on the other side of the border in Oakland) have quite a lot of dedicated parking to support the establishment. Jack in the Box has 8, Taco Bell has 8, an d The Smokehouse, because of its corner location has a total of 3 street parking spaces that border the property. One of the original plans for 3075 was for the commercial parking spots to revert to the residents in the evening for overflow. If the resta u rant is kept open at night, these spots will be used. I can’t see how there is enough parking to support this kind of an establishment. As it is, the neighborhood is heavily impacted when it comes to parking because of Alta Bates staff and patients. Fi n di ng daytime parking during a work week is almost impossible.” 

In a letter to ZAB, Howard Lunche, a neighbor wrote:  

“It would be nice to think that Quiznos and its customers would be sensitive to our concerns and the courtesy norms of the neighborho od but having lived in the neighborhood for 10 years and witnessing the behavior and attitude of Alta Bates employees and others coming for medical appointments, it is highly unlikely (truly impossible) that they will be. I can't imagine how the Zoning B oa rd could approve 3 parking spaces for a maximum capacity of 44 people when the psychotherapy office on my street has many more parking spaces at its site.” 

The 3075 Telegraph project has met with considerable neighborhood opposition from the very begi nning because of perceived detrimental impact on “quality of life.”  

Residents are concerned that the height of the building will tower over the small Craftsman homes in the neighborhood.  

“The design of the building is far from being consistent with th at of the neighborhood. The neighbors should at least be able to get behind and support the businesses that move in. A mass market food chain is just another unpleasant chapter in this project, it will negatively impact the rich architectural and small ne igh bor hood character we all love,” said Sobel.  

In the past, ZAB meetings involving the Mokka Cafe at 3075 Telegraph had raised concerns about a “quick service” establishment which were cleared when the neighbors met the owners. 

Vince Abeyta, a reside nt o f Pr ince St., told The Planet, “we realized that Mokka was a ‘mom and pop’ type operation which served organic coffee and pastries. One of the reasons why we love living in Berkeley is because of its eclectic mix of businesses, it’s not because of i ts fa st fo od chains. We cannot understand that even after hearing our concerns about a fast-food restaurant, the developer would again attempt to put up the same thing,” he said. 

Sobel also told The Planet that there were lessons to be learned from the vacan cies l eft behind by mass market chains such as Eddie Bauer and Gateway computer. “A lot of expense went into modifying a historical building, and then they just packed up and left. Studies suggest that national chains lack the commitment to ‘hang in the re’ through a rough patch where as independent stores have more of a personal stake in the business. As our city sees more stores getting empty everyday I think it is important to make sensible choices about what type of business comes in,” he sai d. 

Frank Daar, a homeowner on Prince St., said that apart from the issue of parking, he was concerned that the zoning notice did not indicate any staff recommendation for limits on hours nor any condition on the operator to be responsible for policing the waste left be hind by fast food. 

“I was on the zoning board in the 1970s and there was a continual source of complaints about the trash left behind by fast food chains. This is like a historical pattern. Even today you have cars circling the block way past mid night fo r late night snacks at the Jack in the Box, which adds to not only garbage problems but also traffic,” he told The Planet. 

The Halcyon Neighborhood Association voted this month to oppose the Quiznos parking waiver request. At the Willar d Neighbo rhood Ass ociation monthly meeting last Thursday night, the WNA Steering Committee decided to oppose that parking variance requested by Quiznos and also for a delay of the parking in side and rear yards discussion slated for the May 16 City Council Meetin g. 

Thomas O’ Connell has been living in the neighborhood for the last thirty five years and is a former president of the Bateman Neighborhood Association. He told The Planet that he “constantly picks up fast food wrappers, ketchup packets and other trash” from both Jack in the Box and The Smokehouse. “Soronkin told us that the project would possibly have one coffee house and the rest would all be retail. We are absolutely against another fast food chain.”ˆÛ


UC Releases EIR For New StadiumComplex

By Richard Brenneman
Tuesday May 09, 2006

The half-billion-dollar set of projects planned around California Memorial Stadium carry “unavoidable significant impacts” in at least 14 areas, according to a draft environmental impact report (EIR) released Monday. 

The document outlines the impact of the demolition of existing landmarks, the construction of 451,000 square feet of new buildings, and such factors as the project’s impacts on views, traffic aesthetics and noise. 

Seismic impacts are also addressed—an essential, considering that at least t hree of the principal structures sit atop or are immediately adjacent to the Hayward Fault, which federal geologists have identified as the most likely site of the Bay Area’s next major earthquake. 

Berkeley Planning Manager Mark Rhoades said the universi ty gave the city “a couple of hard copies of the two-volume report” Monday, and said the planning department has begun working with the city manager’s office on a city-wide review. 

“It’s a very large project in a very sensitive part of the city and we will be playing very close attention,” Rhoades said. 

The combined projects include: 

• A seismic retrofit and refurbishing of California Memorial Stadium. 

• A 158,000-square-foot Student Athlete High Performance Center along the stadium’s’ western wall.  

• A 911-space semi-underground parking lot just north of the stadium, and  

• A “Law and Business Connection Building” just across Gayley Road from the stadium. 

Together, the projects would add 386 new employees to the university’s payroll, and account for 20.2 percent of the university project’s square footage growth through the year 2020. 

The net gain of 300 new parking spaces accounts for 24 percent of the projected growth in that area through the end of the century’s second decade. 

 

Unavoidable im pacts 

Among the unavoidable adverse impacts listed in the report—issues that would remain significant despite proposed mitigations—are: 

• “The risk of loss, injury or death resulting from rupture of a known earthquake fault” and “strong seismic ground s haking” resulting from an earthquake on the fault, even without a significant rupture. 

• Creation of the new buildings could lead to “increased demand on wastewater collection systems and construction of new or altered collection facilities, with temporary, potentially significant unavoidable construction-related impacts.”  

• Addition of up to seven more day- and nighttime events at the stadium could “result in substantial periodic ambient noise increase in the project vicinity,” as will demolition and construction activity while the project is being built. 

• The project “would contribute to the future, cumulative projected unacceptable delay at the all-ways stop-controlled” intersections of Durant and Piedmont avenues and Piedmont Avenue and Bancroft Way, with an eight percent projected increase in peak morning traffic. 

• The first phase of seismic retrofit and improvements at Memorial Stadium “would cause a significant adverse change in the historic significance of the CMS” as would the later phases, in which changes in seating would be made within the stadium and an elevated structure would be constructed along the stadium’s western edge adding a press box and luxury sky boxes for deep-pocket donors and corporations. 

• Construction of the additions to the stadium “could substantially adversely affect limited scenic vistas from the Panoramic Hill neighborhood,” which was recently declared a national historic district, a move undertaken by residents worried about impacts of the stadium projects. 

• Demolition of the Calvin Laboratory and two landmarked homes on College Avenue to make way for the Law and Business Connection Building “would constitute a significant adverse effect to three historical resources” and their landscape features. 

• Landscap e changes to Piedmont Avenue itself—a city landmark laid out by Frederick Law Olmsted, designer of Central Park and the preeminent name in American landscape architecture—and the change in the surrounding landscape would cause a substantial adverse changes to the landscape of two historic homes on Piedmont used by the university for classes and offices. 

• Construction of the parking facility at the site of Maxwell Family Field would lead to ”significant adverse change” to the Gayley Road streetscape and to a unique concrete grid form restroom at the site. 

The report also provides a 15-page table listing these and other impacts, along with proposed mitigation measures.  

 

Comments sought 

The university is now taking comments on the massive two-volume document through July 7, for inclusion in the final version of the report.  

City Planning Director Dan Marks was on vacation and unavailable for comment Monday but, on Jan 2, he had issued a scathing 19-page critique of the project that was approved by the city council and sent out under the signature of City Manager Phil Kamlarz. 

Marks specifically charged that university officials had failed to offer meaningful specifics that would allow the city to prepare detailed, meaningful comments for consideration during preparation of the EIR. 

His concerns included traffic impacts (both during and after construction), the university’s plans to rely on the broad traffic, air quality and other analyses in the LRDP rather than site-specific project examinations, th e wisdom of building directly over the Hayward Fault, and impacts on officially recognized landmarks (including the two College Avenue buildings slated for demolition). 

Marks also argued that the EIR should be expanded to include Bowles Hall, a landmarked residential hall immediately north of Maxwell Family Field which is one of two possible sites the business school is considering to house a non-credit program for business executives. 

Planning Manager Rhoades said his department’s staff and others in the city will be looking at the draft EIR “in the context of Dan’s letter and with a fresh set of eyes.” 

Rhoades said the report will be referred to at least three city commissions—Planning, Transportation and Landmarks Preservation—for comment. 

The ent ire document is posted at the UC Berkeley website at ww.cp.berkeley.edu/SCIP/DEIR/SCIP_DEIR.html and is available for review at the Main and Claremont branches of the Berkeley Public Library and on campus at the Environmental Design Library, 210 Wurster Hall, and at the Office of Physical and Environmental Planning in Room 1 of the A & E Building. 

Comments for consideration in the final EIR may be addressed to Principal Planner Jennifer McDougall, Capital Projects—Facilities Services, 3900 A& E Building, UC Berkeley 94720-1382..››


Shattuck Cinema Workers Call For Union

By Judith Scherr
Tuesday May 09, 2006

Aurelia River has worked six years at the Shattuck Cinema in downtown Berkeley, with a 50-cent increase in salary during that time, going from $6.75 to $7.25 an hour for almost full-time work. She earns no benefits. 

Demanding decent wages and working conditions, River and 22 of her 28 co-workers filled out cards Monday morning, beginning the process of petitioning the National Labor Relations Board for a union. 

The Shattuck Cinema is owned by Landmark Theatres, which did not return Daily Planet calls. 

“We’re really asking for dignity and respect, the respect that comes with fair treatment,” said Harjit Singh Gill, branch organizer with the Industrial Workers of the World. Among the demands are fair wages and a grievance procedure, Gill said. 

The workers would like management to count the workers’ petition as votes and institute a union, Gill said, explaining that going through the NLRB is often an arduous process. Management often delays the process, including firing union supporters and diluting the effort to unionize, he said. 

Just one other Landmarks Theater in Kendall Square in Cambridge, MA, is unionized, Gill said. 

“We’re only asking for work conditions that are reasonable and humane,” said cinema employee Lauren Grady in a press statement. “Management needs to start listening to our concerns and valuing its workers.” 

Gill said the union is not calling for a boycott of the theater, but “if the company were to actually fight the union campaign, we’d have an issue,” he said.›


UC Berkeley Adopts Revised Sweatshop Policy

By Suzanne La Barre
Tuesday May 09, 2006

On the heels of multiple protests—some clothing-optional—UC has agreed to revise its sweatshop policy, UC Berkeley student activists announced Tuesday. 

UC Berkeley joined with 18 other universities in adopting the Designated Suppliers Program, an anti-sweatshop plan that requires UC licensees to purchase an increasing percentage of university apparel from designated factories. All 10 UC campuses will be held to the new standard. 

Implementation will occur over time, a UC spokesperson said. In the first year, the UC will require licensees to purchase 25 percent of their apparel from factories where employees earn a living wage, are fairly represented and sell the majority of their products to university buyers or others who meet the same standards. The nonprofit Workers Rights Consortium will ensure licensee compliance. If the program is successful, a larger percentage of apparel will derive from sweat-free factories the next year.  

“The collective action of students doing this really pushed this through,” said UC Berkeley junior Lexa Grayner, a member of the group Students Organizing for Justice in the Americas.  

Activists at UC Berkeley mounted pressure on the UC this year by staging a series of naked protests and sit-ins, including a rally last month where 18 students were arrested. Students at other UC campuses also held protests. 

UC Spokesperson Noel Van Nyhuis said the university’s decision to adopt the program was not in response to student opposition. 

“It had more to do with the university having the same ultimate desire—making sure workers have working conditions that meet the university’s code of conduct,” he said.  

The program applies only to UC gear; the production of university uniforms is under the umbrella of UC purchasing, not licensing, said UC President Robert Dynes, and will be dealt with separately. 

A network of student labor activists drafted the Designated Suppliers Program, which has earned the support of Duke University, Georgetown University, the University of Wisconsin at Madison, Cornell University, Columbia University and others.


Public, Press Excluded from Downtown Advisory Meeting

By Suzanne la Barre
Tuesday May 09, 2006

A meeting last week on development in downtown Berkeley was closed to the public. 

Members of the Downtown Area Plan Technical Advisory Committee (TAC), a subset of the Downtown Area Plan Advisory Committee (DAPAC)—the task force charged with revisioning downtown Berkeley—met behind glass doors on the second floor of the city’s Planning Department building Friday. Those who attempted to listen in, including this Daily Planet reporter, were told the meeting was private. 

Director of Planning and Development Dan Marks referenced Friday’s meeting, the committee’s first, in an April 14 communication to DAPAC. The correspondence outlines the scope, membership and tentative schedule for the committee, including the announcement that the technical team would gather May 5. It does not offer further details, such as time of day and location, nor does it expressly state whether meetings are for public consumption.  

The congregation of unpaid experts, billed as technical advisors to DAPAC, is stipulated in the same City Council resolution that approves the formation of DAPAC. The resolution does not specify whether those conferences are to be held privately. 

At the last DAPAC meeting, members were told they were not allowed to attend technical committee meetings, a provision that smacks of secrecy, said DAPAC member Jesse Arreguin. 

“If a central part of the planning process is at the Technical Advisory Committee level, why can’t the public or the DAPAC attend?” he said. 

Downtown Area Plan Principal Planner Matt Taecker replied that committee members need space to meet without the glare of public scrutiny. 

“It’s a safe environment for them to just blurt stuff out,” he said, adding that such an occurrence is common in other cities.  

Resident and EBMUD staff member Steve Wollmer agreed that public entities often meet in private to bandy ideas about. But he’s not sure whether Friday’s meeting, which he happened upon by chance (he was subsequently asked to leave) should have been open. 

“As an employee of an agency, I know there are times you need to be frank, but is that serving the public? I don’t know,” he said.  

John English, a retired city of Oakland planner and a member of the Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association who attended the last DAPAC meeting, was less ambivalent. 

“You have an important public process, preparing a new plan for downtown. The [TAC] meeting involves a lot of people, so a meeting like that is not at all like an internal staff meeting,” he said. “I think they should make them public meetings, just like DAPAC meetings are public.”  

Committee members are all professionals with “a personal or professional interest in the city” who are willing to offer expert advice at no charge on matters related to the downtown planning process, Marks wrote to DAPAC in April. 

Among them: well-known urban planner and architect Peter Calthorpe; former San Francisco Planning Director and current UC Berkeley professor emeritus Allan Jacobs; additional UC Berkeley professors including DAPAC ex officio member Linda Jewell (who was invited to participate on the committee before she joined the DAPAC in March, Taecker said); architectural historians Sally Woodbridge and Michael Corbett; Fourth Street developer Denny Abrams; ELS Architecture founding principal Barry Elbasani; commercial real estate broker John Gordon; Alameda County Planning Manager for BART Val Menotti; Design Review Committee members Burton Edwards and Charles McCulloch; AC Transit representatives, more architecture firm principals and others.  

A total of 26 members were invited to join the committee; all but two attended Friday’s meeting, Taecker said.  

Those in attendance touched on several issues during the short time the Planet reporter was present, including the advantages of high-density buildings and streets with indivdual “personalities.” (Kittredge should be “urban and hard-edged”, said one unidentified speaker.) The possible impact of Bus Rapid Transit, an expedited AC Transit bus line now under consideration for implementation from San Leandro through Oakland to Berkeley, was discussed. The general focus was on how to make Shattuck a well-designed, beautiful boulevard, Taecker said later. 

Planning staff is supposed to present points from Friday’s meeting to DAPAC by May 31. 

DAPAC is the product of a settlement agreement reached between the city of Berkeley and the University of California in May of 2005 over UC’s plans to expand further into downtown and other parts of Berkeley.


Trader Joe’s, Pacific Steel Casting on Crowded ZAB Agenda

By Richard Brenneman
Tuesday May 09, 2006

The dense, five-story project at University Avenue and Martin Luther King Jr. Way that Zoning Adjustments Board (ZAB) member Bob Allen dubbed “the Trader Joe’s Building” is back on ZAB’s agenda Thursday night. 

Developers Chris Hudson and Evan McDonald want to build 156 apartments above a ground-floor level that includes commercial space they say has been leased to the popular German-owned grocery chain—provided the building gets built by 2009. 

The project would replace a small strip mall that currently houses a Kragen Auto Parts shop. 

The building drew a large turnout when ZAB looked at plans two weeks ago, with supporters who were ecstatic about the prospect of having a TJ’s closer at hand than the existing ones in Emeryville and El Cerrito, and project neighbors who complained that the building overshadowed their homes on Berkeley Way on the northern edge of the project. 

Two ZAB members compared the plans to the notorious public housing “projects” now being demolished on the East Coast, while the developers—backed by city staff—said they could build an even bigger project using plans ZAB member Allen said reminded him of a prison. 

Both sets of plans were the creations of Kirk Peterson, architect of record for the Gaia and Bachenheimer buildings as well as other projects the principals in Hudson McDonald, LLC, built for developer Patrick Kennedy. 

The project is on the agenda for more comments. 

Another item recommended for approval would allow a Quizno’s sandwich shop to open in the new Southside Lofts project at 3095 Telegraph Ave. 

Other items on the agenda include: 

• Approval of a modified use permit to allow installation of a carbon-based air filtration system at Pacific Steel Casting Co., the result of the settlement between the company and neighbors who have complained for years over odors emanating from the plant, 

• Approval of a use permit to open a new tattoo and piercing studio at 2599 Telegraph Ave. The applicants are Mark Freitas and Howard Flavey of Dark Sun Tattoo Company in Vacaville. 

• An application by Kofo Domingo of Losia, Inc., of Richmond to open a new 3.387-square-foot restaurant with alcohol service at 1719-1725 University Ave. 

• An application by Mary Bull-Ransom of Oakland to issue a use permit to build a 525-square-foot accessory building at a home at 1617 Seventh St. 

The meeting begins at 7 p.m. in City Council Chambers in the Maudelle Shirek Building (Old City Hall) at 2134 Martin Luther King Jr. Way..


ZAB to Decide on Bowl EIR, Use Permit

By Suzanne La Barre
Tuesday May 09, 2006

There are two days to go before the Zoning Adjustments Board is scheduled to render a verdict on use permits for the West Berkeley Bowl project, but at a special meeting late last week, board members indicated they still have a number of concerns. 

On Thursday, board members had not yet received copies of a final environmental impact report (EIR), the study that forms the basis for whether they will issue use permits for the development of West Berkeley Bowl. (The report is now available online.) 

The proposed project is slated for development at 920 Heinz Ave. It comprises 91,060-square-feet of grocery store space, storage, offices, a food service building, a community room and 211 parking spaces. The surrounding community hosts a variety of structures, including light manufacturing warehouses, professional offices, retail shops, live/work spaces and a French-American school that serves about 400 students between the ages of 3 and 11. 

Traffic has been a persistent bone of contention in the debate over West Berkeley Bowl.  

“I think 99 percent of the people are for this project, many 100 percent,” said Sarah Klise, who lives half a block from the proposed site. “But with a huge asterisk, and that is traffic.” 

The project would generate about 600 vehicle trips a day during peak hours and would spawn additional traffic at multiple intersections. Most of that gridlock can be mitigated, the EIR claims. However, the intersection of San Pablo Avenue and Ashby Avenue would suffer significant and unavoidable congestion. 

Some residents say impacts will be felt beyond what’s laid out in the environmental report. 

Members of the Potter Creek Neighborhood Association, comprised of nearby neighbors, submitted their own traffic mitigation plan to board members Thursday. Features of the residents’ proposal include removable bollards near the French-American School at Ninth Street and Heinz Avenue (kitty corner to the proposed development) to ensure the safety of the school’s students. Dozens of residents, the French-American school and the Berkeley Bowl support the plan. 

Associate traffic engineer Peter Eakland said transportation staff could submit comments on the mitigation proposal, but he does not foresee formally trying it into the project. 

Others suggested shrinking the development to mitigate traffic. Traffic consultant Kerrie Nicholson said the project would have to be significantly smaller to effectively relieve congestion. 

An alternative project proposal—similar to what developers initially put forward in 2002—would comprise a 37,005-square-foot grocery store, a 28,810-square-foot warehouse and 111 parking spaces. This would not allow for a full-service supermarket, however. An additional alternative would reduce the project to 72,758 square feet, but would not eliminate the traffic impact at San Pablo and Ashby.  

ZAB member Andy Katz offered a different solution to the traffic problem: charge developers an impact fee. 

Fellow ZAB member Rick Judd seconded the idea. 

“That there are obviously a lot of effects of this project, that, while not significant, are nonetheless real, supports an impact fee,” he said. 

They did not specify what the fee would offset, nor how much it would be. 

Outstanding traffic issues are not cause for concern for everyone. Marvin Lipofsky, an artist who lives in the area, wants the city to hurry up and approve the project.  

“Please put Berkeley Bowl on the site before I kick off, which could be soon,” he said. “I think [the project] is great.” 

ZAB members have asked staff for clarity on a number of traffic issues and others that they hope to get resolved Thursday. The board may decide to issue use permits then. If granted, the Berkeley City Council could certify ZAB’s action May 23 and would subsequently set a public hearing for the project June 13. The public hearing would include consideration of zoning adjustments recommended by the Planning Commission..


Accrediting Commission Provokes Critics After Compton Threats

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Tuesday May 09, 2006

A statewide education revolt is growing against the agency that accredits California community colleges in part because of recent actions the agency has taken against the Peralta and the Compton Community College Districts.  

Linda Handy, the president of the Peralta Board of Trustees, said that ACCJC operates “without a lot of oversight,” and said that the accrediting organization backed off of its warning to pull the Peralta colleges’ accreditation only under the threat of a discrimination lawsuit by Peralta. 

And Michael Mills, the president of the Peralta Federation of Teachers union, says that the leading administrators of the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) have a vendetta against the Peralta college district, and that the ACCJC is “operating like a star chamber” with a “process that is out of control.” 

The top two staff members of the ACCJC are former Peralta staff members who reportedly left under less than amicable circumstances. ACCJC President Dr. Barbara Beno is a former president of Vista College in Berkeley (now Berkeley City College). The ACCJC Vice President, Dr. Deborah G. Blue, is a former president of Laney College in Oakland. 

The ACCJC is a 19-member state commission that evaluates community colleges every five years in California, Hawaii, and several Pacific Island territories under the authority of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). Because schools cannot receive federal or state funding without ACCJC accreditation, the organization’s power over community colleges is enormous. 

But the ACCJC commission is largely a self-appointed body, with the commission chair holding the power to appoint three of the seven-member body that selects commission members. 

Last March, that led the California Federation of Teachers to pass a resolution at its annual convention calling the ACCJC “a private organization that is accountable to no one it serves” and charging that the organization “often causes colleges to implement changes that reflect the current biases of the accrediatation team.” The CFT resolution called on the California Community College System Office and “other appropriate bodies” to “investigate the operations of AACJC-WASC and consider possible alternatives for evaluating and accrediting the state’s community colleges.” 

A spokesperson for the CFT said by telephone that the “other appropriate bodies” was meant to refer to the state legislature. 

Late last month, the California Community College Academic Senate passed a resolution “in support of the [CFT] and other . . . bodies who have expressed their unhappiness with the ACCJC,” and joined the call for an investigation into alternatives to the organization. 

Representatives of the ACCJC could not be reached in connection with this article. 

The two state education organizations’ resolutions were sparked by the ACCJC’s actions pulling accreditation from the 6,600-student Compton Community College in Southern California. That action is currently under appeal by Compton, and the college is currently being administered by a trustee appointed by California Community College Chancellor Mark Drummond.  

After failing to get Southern California community college districts to intervene, Drummond asked the Peralta district to take over as administrative manager for Compton College, and last March the Peralta trustees authorized Peralta Chancellor Elihu Harris to investigate that possibility. 

But Peralta Trustee President Handy said that since Peralta announced that action, three Southern California districts are considering assisting in the administrative takeover of Compton, and the issue “is now moot” for Peralta. “We shamed them,” Handy said, adding that publicity from the Peralta trustee vote “caused WASC to back off” from their accreditation threats against Compton. 

PFT President Mills said that Compton “had real problems” related to their trustee board and administration. “So the state chancellor came in and suspended the board, and put a trustee in charge,” he said. “You would have thought that would have been enough to satisfy the accreditation team, but instead they went ahead with pulling Compton’s accreditation anyway.” 

Mills said that “there was no warning by ACCJC against the Compton faculty or its instructional program,” adding that the accrediting team had moved “far afield” from its original purpose of “assisting community colleges in improving their education programs.” 

Mills said that was the same criticism Peralta officials and representatives had when ACCJC issued warnings against the four Peralta colleges early last year. The warnings would have led to a loss of accreditation if they were not corrected within two years. 

Mills said that the four Peralta colleges were put on warning because of unfunded medical liabilities by the district, for “micromanaging” by the district board, and for not having a strategic plan. 

“None of these were accreditation standards,” Mills said. “In addition, [Peralta Chief Financial Officer] Tom Smith was already working on a plan with the federation of teachers and other groups to fund the district medical liabilities. That plan was put in place, but the warning was not taken off. And even though almost every community college and public school in the state had the same issue with unfunded medical liabilities, Peralta was the only one to have unfunded liability used as a judgment standard.” 

Mills also criticized the fact that the official warning against the Peralta board continued even after a majority of the board was replaced in elections. 

In a separate interview, trustee President Handy said that the ACCJC warnings against Peralta “had nothing to do with what was going on inside the colleges themselves. The process needs to be looked at.” 

Handy said that ACCJC President Barbara Beno and Vice President Deborah Blue “should have recused themselves” from the accreditation process because of their past association with Peralta. “Barbara Beno has an axe to grind,” Handy said. 

Mills said that Beno was fired from her position at Vista and that when Blue left Laney “there was not a great deal of admirers wringing their hands.” He called Blue “a nice person, but during her tenure, Laney was not considered to be soundly led.” 

Mills said that while he does not know the extent of Beno and Blue’s involvement in the Peralta accreditation warnings, “any involvement by those two individuals would be suspect,” and said that adds fuel to the drive that the ACCJC be investigated and alternatives considered.  

In January of this year, the four Peralta colleges were removed from the ACCJC warning list. 

But Peralta insiders say that only occurred after a fierce political struggle led by Chancellor Elihu Harris, a veteran of Sacramento political wars from his years as Assembly representative from Oakland. Included in the struggle was a threat by Peralta to sue the ACCJC..


Suit Charges Berkeley Police with False Arrest, Battery

By Judith Scherr
Tuesday May 09, 2006

A former Berkeley resident alleges in a lawsuit filed in federal court two weeks ago that a Union City police detective chased him, tackled him, then punched him repeatedly after he broke the mirror of the officer’s personal vehicle, while dodging the vehicle that was about to hit him. 

The suit also charges that Berkeley Police Officers Sgt. Michael Dougherty and Samantha Speelman helped the Union City officer, Detective Michael Ward, accomplish what the complaint calls “false arrest, false imprisonment (and) assault and battery.” 

A police report written by Dougherty of the Nov. 1, 2004, incident summarizes the incident thus: “Off-duty Union City Police Detective Ward is a victim of malicious damage to his personal vehicle by suspect Michael Salisbury, arrested via citizens’ arrest by Det. Ward.”  

In December, a judge threw out a misdemeanor charge of vandalism against Salisbury, who now lives in Oakland, arising from the incident. 

Salisbury’s attorney Katya Komisaruk, says witnesses’ depositions tell a story of an out-of-control police detective and a pair of Berkeley officers that sided with him, rather than listening to witnesses. 

Witnesses said that Michael Salisbury, then a 25-year-old community college student, was crossing San Pablo Ave. in the crosswalk going west. Ward was driving his SUV and, with his head turned, was talking to his wife in the front passenger seat. Berkeley resident Rita Duarte, a retired business executive, said in her deposition that she was driving down San Pablo directly behind Ward, and that Ward was not watching the road. “The SUV almost hit Salisbury, but at the last minute he jumped out of the way to avoid being struck. Salisbury reeled around and put his hands up, fending off the SUV as it went by. I heard the sound of shattering glass,” she said. 

Other witnesses reported that at that point, the detective became enraged and yelled at Salisbury, saying he’d broken the SUV mirror. They said he made an illegal U-turn on San Pablo, driving recklessly in his pursuit of the young man by going east on Oregon Street and then south on Wallace Street. 

Ward caught up to Salisbury, exited his vehicle, chased and tackled the young man, according to the testimony of witness Stephen Gagnon, a radiologist at Alta Bates Hospital. He said Salisbury was lying face down mostly on the grassy median between the sidewalk and the street with Ward straddling him. Ward was “gripping Salisbury’s left hand with his own left hand, forcing Salisbury’s arm up behind his back,” Gagnon said. “Ward began punching the side of Salisbury’s head with his right fist, landing extremely focused, forceful blows. Salisbury cried out, ‘Stop! I’m sorry, I’m sorry!’” 

Ward’s attorney, Kim Colwell, who will file a motion to dismiss the case Friday in federal court, does not deny that her client hit Salisbury. Colwell said her client administered a “distraction blow,” which she said is appropriate when a suspect is uncooperative. 

Colwell further argued that it was appropriate for Ward to take it upon himself to arrest Salisbury. “A police officer is charged with different responsibilities by law,” she said. “They are sworn by the State of California to protect the laws of the State of California.” That includes the time they are off duty, she said, arguing that Salisbury might have gotten away had Ward called local police rather than intervening personally.  

Komisaruk said if Salisbury were indeed a fleeing criminal, it might be appropriate for an off-duty police officer to get involved. If he had committed a felony, it might be appropriate to execute the illegal U-turn and violate traffic laws. “But there is a faulty premise,” she said: no crime had been committed. 

Witnesses said that while straddling Salisbury, Ward identified himself as a Union City police officer and asked them to call 911, which they did. 

Soon thereafter, according to witnesses, Berkeley officers Speelman and Dougherty arrived on the scene. Ward reached into his back pocket and produced identification showing he was a Union City police officer, according to Gagnon’s testimony. “Then Dougherty opened a case on his belt, withdrew a pair of handcuffs, and handed them to Ward. Ward handcuffed Salisbury,” he went on. 

Ward’s testimony says Dougherty handcuffed the suspect, but Colwell said it doesn’t matter who handcuffed the suspect. It would have been appropriate for either of them to do so, she said. 

Gagnon’s testimony goes on to say that while Salisbury was being cuffed, witness Duarte “kept insisting that Ward was at fault. Speaking to Dougherty, she indicated Salisbury and said, ‘Why are you arresting him? If you’re going to arrest him, you should arrest both of them.’” 

Komisaruk said that while the Berkeley police officers took Ward’s statements at the scene, they did not take Duarte’s statement, although she asked to make one. (She was able to make one the next day.) The attorney added that the police report ignored witness testimony that alleged Ward was at fault in the incident. The police report “was beyond negligent. It was biased,” she charged. 

Further, the complaint alleges, Ward’s Union City supervisor refused to take Duarte’s complaint against Ward. 

Berkeley City Attorney Manuela Albuquerque declined to comment on the allegations against the Berkeley police officers. “Department policy is not to comment on pending litigation,” said Barbara Myers, assistant to Albuquerque..


Neighborhood Corporation Chooses Panel to Plan Ashby BART Village

By Richard Brenneman
Tuesday May 09, 2006

A 12-member board will outline the plans for a major development at the Ashby BART parking lot, according to an announcement released late Friday. 

Jesse Anthony, chair of the South Berkeley Neighborhood Development Corporation (SBNDC), announced the selection in an email. 

Ed Church, the consultant picked by the board to ramrod the development of a major housing and commercial complex at the BART parking lot, had refused to say how many would be picked. 

The project would feature up to 300 units of housing, presumably condos, built above commercial space. 

The selections surprised Frank Davis Jr., a long time South Berkeley resident and activist in the Black Property Owners Association. 

“I am very concerned,” he said. “This seems to be a selection of those who will be supportive of whatever is proposed there.” 

Anthony said the task force will be formally announced at a May 15 meeting at 7 p.m. in the South Berkeley Community Center. 

“Our intent will be to set the basic parameters and operational procedures for the task force, while encouraging significant creativity and latitude in the process,” Anthony wrote. 

Anthony referred all questions to Church. 

The group will hold its first meeting May 22 at the center, featuring a presentation by Church and Jeff Ordway from BART. 

Those named to the task force include: 

• Dmitri Belser, president of the board of the Ed Roberts Center, which is building its own major project on the Ashby BART eastern parking lot. 

• Dan Cloak, an environmental consultant. 

• Andy DiGiovanni, who works at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and who has written skeptically of the project.  

• Jiane Du, an architect. 

• Frankie Lee Fraser, a West Berkeley resident and member of the San Pablo Park Neighborhood Council. 

• Mike Friedrich, a member of the board of the Livable Berkeley lobbying organization, who was active in the campaign which defeated Measure P, an attempt to set a height limit for Berkeley buildings. 

• Marcy Greenhut, a city transportation commissioner. 

• Toya Groves. 

• Mansour Id-Deen, the executive director of the Inner-City Services job training program and the tenant of an SBNDC-owned building. 

• Jeffrey Jensen, a North Oakland resident and BART employee. 

• Maryann Sargent, film production manager. 

• Berkeley Unified School District board member John Selawsky. 

Davis said he was particularly concerned because the list didn’t include Robin Wright of the Lorin Neighborhood Association, a prominent area activist who has expressed her concerns about the project. 

“It would have been much better if they had included her,” Davis said..


Berkeley Humane Commission Members Propose Mandatory Neutering of Pit Bulls

By Judith Scherr
Tuesday May 09, 2006

The American Kennel Club is howling about a law some members of the Citizens Humane Commission are proposing that would mandate the spaying and neutering of most Berkeley pit bulls, a breed overrepresented in the city’s animal shelter. 

The draft ordinance, which continues to be tweaked by the Citizens’ Humane Commission, proposes mandatory spaying and neutering of pit bulls, except when the animal is younger than eight weeks old, when it is a show dog and the owner has obtained a breeding permit, or when the animal has been in Berkeley fewer than 30 days. Violators would be guilty of a misdemeanor and fined $500 for the first infraction and, for the second offense, may be fined up to $1,000 and sentenced to six months in the county jail. 

“Pit bulls and other breeds like Rotweilers have been bred to be aggressive,” said Councilmember Dona Spring, the council representative to the Humane Commission. “There are some very well-behaved, well-trained pit bulls, but there is an uncertainty about them,” Spring said, noting that if the breed were not overrepresented—if their reproduction were curtailed—then there would be fewer euthanized in the city shelter. (Dogs stay seven days in the shelter before they are killed or “rescued” by local non-profit organizations.)  

“We don’t have a problem with too many poodles at the animal shelter,” Spring said. 

The American Kennel Club, however, has called on its membership to flood the City Council and Humane Commission in opposition to the measure, which, they say, unfairly targets pit bulls. 

“The American Kennel Club feels that measures that target any responsible dog owners is not fair,” said Lisa Peterson, AKC spokesperson. Laws should instead target irresponsible dog owners, “those who breed the dogs to be vicious,” she said. 

AKC’s position is to target “the deed, not the breed,” Peterson said. 

However, pit bulls are targeted because they are hard to adopt out, said Kate O’Connor, Berkeley’s Animal Care Services manager. About 30 percent of the animals that come in to the Berkeley shelter are pit bulls, she said; however, about 80 percent of the shelter population is made up of pit bulls because they are so difficult to adopt out. Last month 19 pit bulls came into the shelter, compared to eight Rotweilers and eight Shepherd mixes. 

Peterson further challenged the proposed ordinance, noting the difficulty of recognizing a pit bull mix, but O’Connor said that she and other Animal Care Services staff have many years experience in recognizing these dogs. The proposed ordinance includes the right to appeal to the Animal Care Services manager or her designee. 

The commission will next discuss the proposed ordinance at its May 17 meeting, 7 p.m., North Berkeley Senior Center, Hearst Avenue and Martin Luther King Jr. Way..


LPC to Convene Special Meeting on Law Changes

By Richard Brenneman
Tuesday May 09, 2006

Landmarks Preservation Commissioners looked at the latest draft of Mayor Tom Bates’ revision of the city’s landmarks ordinance and scheduled a special May 25 meeting to address their concerns. 

With the strong support of developers, the mayor is pushing for revisions that could significantly weaken the law that developers see as a major stumbling block. 

The vote to hold the special session was the first thing the commission considered before launching into their discussion of the ordinance. 

The reason for the meeting? The Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) has until June 8 to submit comments to be included in the initial environmental study city staff is preparing on the proposed revisions. 

The City Council is slated to adopt the ordinance in July, replacing the city’s existing Landmarks Preservation Ordinance (LPO). 

City planning staff presented the commission with a notice of intent to adopt a negative declaration, an action which, if approved by the council, would hold that the new LPO would cause no significant environmental impacts as spelled out in the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). 

In addition to the declaration, commissioners received a five-page memorandum on the revisions from Planning Director Dan Marks, who attended the meeting to answer questions. 

City staff revised some of the proposals originally made by Mayor Bates and City Councilmember Laurie Capitelli, a Realtor, in order to derail issues in the original proposal that might have triggered the need for a full environmental impact report—a more exhaustive process than the negative declaration staff now proposes. 

One of the key revisions is to eliminate a proposal that would allow the controversial Structure of Merit designation only within officially designated historic districts or in a block with an existing landmark—changes Marks’s memo said “would make a negative declaration more difficult to sustain.” 

After consulting with Bates and Capitelli, Marks composed less restrictive language that doesn’t mandate that the building be in a district or the same block with a landmark. 

Another key change would impact the process when an application for a demolition is proposed. Under the current law, the LPC weighs demolition proposals against the private economic interest of the project applicant and feasibility, while the revision would allow the deciding body—ultimately the city council when appeals are made—to weigh a landmark against the “overall public benefits of a project,” which would bring the proposal a step closer to the statement of overriding consideration required by CEQA before demolition of a historic resource.  

This provision concerned Commissioner Patti Dacey. 

“To pretend this doesn’t leave the door open to demolitions is dreaming,” she said. 

Commissioner Lesley Emmington said she was concerned in part because none of the justifications cited for the changes were valid, particularly the allegation that the existing ordinance was in conflict with the state Permit Streamlining Act (PSA) that governs building and use permit applications. 

“Our ordinance is in compliance with CEQA and the PSA,” said Emmington, citing the state Office of Historic Preservation’s certification of the city’s current ordinance. 

Commissioner Carrie Olson said she dreaded the impacts of a law that would refer all discretionary permits to the commission, placing an even greater burden on the commission and requiring applications to fill out paperwork—which she said was almost certain to provoke public animosity towards the LPC and could “submarine” the commission’s support. 

As for the structure of merit, “There are powerful forces that want to get rid of it,” she said. “The developers don’t want it, so the rest of us get it taken away from us.” 

While the commission and ultimately the City Council struggle with the revision, some preservationists are taking another tack—gathering the signatures to submit the existing ordinance, plus a few minor revisions, to the voters, a process that would block any council changes. 

“One of the things the mayor doesn’t want is to preserve a level playing field,” said Roger Marquis, an activist who belongs to the Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association. 

If approved by the voters, the measure would become law in a form that could only be altered by another initiative. 

 

Bevatron delayed 

Commissioners heard from proponents and opponents of a proposal to landmark the Bevatron at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), but continued the hearing until their June 1 meeting. 

The hearing began with pleas from two LBNL researchers to deny the landmark application so a new building can be constructed to house experiments in cutting edge science, which they said would be the most appropriate memorial to the Bevatron. 

A particle accelerator, the Bevatron provided the technology to enable experiments that led to the Nobel Prize-winning discoveries of several subatomic particles. 

Physicist Owen Chamberlain, a Nobel Laureate who died Feb. 28, was a leading proponent of preservation of the Bevatron and its building as a national monument to the “Big Science” of the Cold War Era. 

But Ben Feinberg, an LBNL physicist since 1976 and head of the lab’s Advanced Light Source, was joined by Allen Smith, who worked at the Bevatron from its inception to its closure in 1993, saying demolition and a new facility would be the best tributes—along with a memorial accessible to the public. 

Because the lab and its facilities have been off-limits to the general public since Sept. 11, 2001, the pair suggested a memorial at the Lawrence Hall of Science, plus a second commemoration in whatever new facility was built. 

While some of the landmarking proponents talked about the unique and monumental scale of the Bevatron and its building, most said they feared the potential exposure to asbestos, lead and radioactive waste that might come from demolition and trucking the resulting waste through the city—concerns outside the LPC’s purview. 

 

Demolition 

Commissioners also voted to continue a hearing on the unauthorized demolition of a landmarked structure in the West Berkeley, the Clara Ballard House at 2104 Sixth St. A complicated provision of city law defines demolition as removal of more than 50 percent of a structure. Under Berkeley’s Landmark Preservation Ordinance the Landmarks Commission is supposed to rule on whether or not a demolition of a historic resource is allowable under the California Environmental Quality Act, but the Zoning Adjustments Board has already acted to retroactively bless the demolition. 

A contractor demolished the roof of the structure, one of the landmarked Victorian cottages in the Sisterna Tract Historic District. The home is one of two that is being converted into a duplex by developer Gary Feiner. Timothy Rempel, Feiner’s architect, spoke for the developer at the meeting, as did attorney John Gutierrez. 

Commissioner Carrie Olson said the issue was important, because the landmark’s demolition was the first she’d encountered during her long tenure on the LPC. 

City staff offered the commission a mitigated negative declaration under CEQA, with the mitigations being the specified final construction details. However the LPC declined to act unless Rempel presented samples of the actual materials to be used in replacing key architectural details and siding removed from the home.  

Rempel said he was given to believe that the commissioners would approve the demolition, as had members of the Zoning Adjustments Board a week earlier. Olson said the full commission has always looked at materials before issuing approvals, a step which gives the public an opportunity to comment. 

In voting with the majority to continue the hearing until June 1, a reluctant Steven Winkel said the only reason he did so was to let the commission get on with the rest of the items on their agenda, since only seven members were present and five votes are needed to take action. 

“We need to make sure the public is adequately noticed,” Winkel added. 

Neighbors of the projects have had a testy relationship with Feiner, and the creation of the historic district was spurred in large part because of their objections to an even larger earlier version of his project. 

Because of the illegal demolition—a misdemeanor under city ordinance—city officials issued a stop-work order halting further construction on the house, That order didn’t stop work on the adjacent conversion at 2108 Sixth St., which has been proceding. 

Commissioners also said they would be looking at the issue of the fence at 2104, after neighbor Jano Bogg said his existing fence had been demolished and replaced with one he didn’t like. 

No plans for the fence replacement had been submitted to the commission, though the panel has oversight of any replacements.ª


News Analysis: Immigrant Movement Must Reach Out to Blacks

By Jasmyne A. Channick and Earl Ofari Hutchinson
Tuesday May 09, 2006

LOS ANGELES — Immigrant rights leaders have repeatedly and with great pride compared the movement for humane immigration reform to the great civil rights battles of the 1960s. They have cited the Poor Peoples March in 1968, the high esteem that Cesar Chavez held for Dr. Martin Luther King, and the unequivocal support that top civil rights leaders and the Congressional Black Caucus has given to immigrant rights as solid models of black and brown cooperation. Yet, despite these public pronouncements, there has been no sustained movement to build any real coalitions with blacks on the immigration issue. 

That has led to confusion and even anger. California Legislative Black Caucus Chair Assemblyman Mervyn M. Dymally came out in support of humane immigration reform. Dymally, who is was born in Trinidad and became the first foreign-born black member of Congress, in a statement on his Web site said that, “While I have not participated in any of the demonstrations because I was never invited by the organizers to do so, Assemblymember Joe Coto, vice-chair of the California Legislative Latino Caucus knows of my support for the demonstrations.” 

While a Field Poll in California found that blacks—by a bigger percentage than whites and even American-born Latinos—back ed liberal immigration reform measures, little has been done on the side of immigrant rights groups to work with blacks on issues that both groups have in common. 

Immigrant rights leaders have been MIA at rallies and gatherings on issues that blacks find important, including renewal of certain parts of the 1965 Voting Rights Act that are due to expire in 2007, police misconduct, improving failing inner city public schools, and most important the astronomical crisis of black joblessness among young blacks. That’s particularly important because most blacks perceive that illegal immigrants take jobs away from blacks. 

The NAACP’s mission statement reads: “The mission of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is to ensure the politica l, educational, social and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate racial hatred and racial discrimination.” But unlike the NAACP, the Mexican American Political Association (MAPA), which has been a major backer of the immigrant rights protests, has not spoken out continually and relentlessly for black rights issues. Its mission statement reads: “The Mexican American Political Association, founded in Fresno, California in 1960, has been, and is, dedicated to the constitutional and demo cratic principle of political freedom and representation for the Mexican and Hispanic people of the United States of America.” There is no mention of blacks, poor whites or even other immigrant groups, just Latinos. 

This lack of an interracial message in the fight for civil rights has been heard loud and clear by blacks in America. 

When black members of the Minutemen Project held a protest in a predominantly black neighborhood in Los Angeles, immigrant activist and MAPA president Nativo Lopez said that he believes they are out of step with most black leaders and that both blacks and Hispanics face the same problems. 

While many blacks denounce the Minutemen, blacks, especially in Los Angeles, are not completely supportive of illegal immigrants. 

With the exception of a few black leaders, blacks in general have not come out in support of illegal immigrant rights, but many have gathered opposing illegal immigration. 

While the Spanish language continues to be a huge divide in communication between blacks and Latinos, black-brown relations will continue to be strained as long as blacks are the only ones reaching out to Latinos to build coalitions. 

Latinos who want to change the mindset of blacks on illegal immigrants’ rights must make a visible and concer ted effort to reach out to blacks—not just on immigrant rights issues, but on issues that are important to blacks as well. Just as they vigorously pound on Congress, the Bush administration, employers and the American people to make jobs and justice the w atchwords for dispossessed immigrants, they must make jobs and justice the watchwords for dispossessed poor blacks too. That is the right and indeed the only way to build a firm and lasting relationship between blacks and immigrant rights groups. 

 

Jasmyne A. Cannick writes political and social commentary and is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists. Earl Ofari Hutchinson is the author of The Crisis in Black and Black (Middle Passage Press). The Hutchinson Report blog is now online at E arlOfari Hutchinson.com.›


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.” 

 


Opinion

Editorials

Planners, ZAB Rush to Approve Projects Before Recess

By Suzanne La Barre
Tuesday May 09, 2006

West Berkeley Bowl, Creeks at Planning Commission 

 

The Planning Commission is expected to make strides on two hot-button issues Wednesday: the Creeks Ordinance and the proposed West Berkeley Bowl project. 

Commissioners will hold a public hearing on adjustments to zoning and city plans that would allow for the development of the 91,060-square-foot supermarket at 920 Heinz Ave. in West Berkeley. The Zoning Adjustments Board (ZAB) will consider the same project the following night, but in a different capacity. (See related story.) 

West Berkeley Bowl would require modifications to the city’s General Plan, the West Berkeley Plan and zoning maps to accommodate commercial occupancy at a 1.9-acre portion of the site. Additionally, zoning allowances would have to occur for the site to include an accessible food storage facility. The area is currently zoned for mixed use/light industrial buildings. 

Some community members have voiced opposition to changing the zoning, insisting it violates guidelines laid out in the West Berkeley Plan and the General Plan and will set a precedent for commercial development in West Berkeley.  

“Really, this is not a stand-alone project,” said John Curl at a ZAB meeting Thursday. Curl has operated a woodworking business in the area since 1973. “It’s an anchor. The proposal is to . . . make West Berkeley a commercial area.” 

Though the West Berkeley Plan points up residents’ desire for a food store—the area is currently without one—the city’s General Plan stipulates that decision-makers must protect industrial uses in West Berkeley. The two major incentives for maintaining mixed use/light industrial land are to protect jobs and space for manufacturers, according to the city’s municipal code. 

In a report to the Planning Commission, staff argues that the proposed project represents only about 0.8 percent of the total mixed use/light industrial space available in Berkeley and will usher in about 100 new jobs—albeit retail positions. Staff further insists the rezoning and General Plan amendments will not affect other manufacturing and industrial facilities because “approval of any single General Plan or zoning amendment does not imply any further changes will occur.” 

Additional features of the General Plan and West Berkeley Plan that planning commissioners must consider include customer access and convenience, pedestrian-friendly design, bicycle accessibility and support of regional retail. 

Staff is recommending that the Planning Commission adopt the aforementioned legislative amendments, in addition to a statement of overriding considerations—not yet released at press time—that details project benefits. 

If commissioners fail to render a decision Wednesday, the West Berkeley Bowl proposal will not go before the City Council by summer recess, staff says. City Council has final say over the project. 

The commission will also consider suggested changes to the Creeks Ordinance, the long-debated legislation that limits development on and near Berkeley’s open and culverted waterways. The ordinance has pitted homeowners who want the unqualified right to expand and rebuild their homes, against environmentalists who want to protect Berkeley’s creeks from harmful development. 

Commissioners are building on suggestions put forth by the Creeks Task Force, an ad hoc group that formed more than a year ago to help revise the ordinance. 

“My guess is there may be a consensus on the Planning Commission to basically support the task force recommendations, but I think commissioners do have questions,” said Commission Chair Helen Burke.  

Matters that remain unresolved, according to Commissioner Gene Poschman, include homeowners’ right to rebuild into a setback following a disaster, the definition of an open creek, how to handle culverted creeks and how to administer the ordinance. 

On Wednesday, commissioners are scheduled to make final comments on the ordinance. Recommendations are expected to go to the City Council before summer recess..


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. 

 


Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

Tuesday May 09, 2006

CAN’T DO THAT HERE 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

I was one of the plaintiffs in the recent lawsuit. Regarding Dan McMullan’s race baiting and subsequent backpedalling: It has been such a struggle to be heard through the many voices available here in Berkeley hoping to speak as the “better angels of our nature.” 

I probably don’t have very good activist credentials. I was schooled in civics by the African-American founder of a 25-year-old neighborhood watch group, who, like Dan, was confined to a wheelchair. I wasn’t led by any politician, I was led by conscience and my late friend. My “civics” work included almost any activity that could stop 8- to 12-year-olds from being recruited into the drug trade. The straw that broke the camel’s back and prompted the neighbors to sue was a drug/weapons bust that included three generations of the family, including minors. 

My experience is first-hand and extensive. Regarding “terror” in particular, there was one incident that might be applicable: “Terrorist Threat” was one of the charges filed when I was attacked in (repeat: in) my home.  

No, we aren’t racists, political tools or terrorists. Who we are is representative of a diverse community simply trying to say “You can’t do that here” to a sub-culture that routinely exploits children and uses violence as a means of persuasion.  

Kevin Combs 

 

• 

MAINTENANCE 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

It was an educational experience reading the article on Berkeley Unified School District’s Maintenance Department. As co-chair of John Muir’s PTA, I have wondered why the many maintenance issues at our school were not being addressed and now I know why. The end of the article gives the impression that every thing is hunky-dory with maintenance issues at the schools and I have to beg to differ.  

At John Muir, for example, the door to the PTA’s exterior storage space has been eaten away by rats and a whole bottom section is now missing. (What fun cleaning up rat poop.) In addition, some one has used a section of the campus as a dumping ground with waste and debris piling up (including a refrigerator!). Needless to say, the neighbors are as unhappy about this as we are. We know that people in maintenance work their tails off and are doing the best they can under difficult circumstances, but the many problems in this department have impacted schools in the district negatively.  

Diana Yovino-Young 

 

• 

SHATTUCK AVENUE 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

I am in full agreement with Mr. Wolfgang Homburger’s letter with regard to the possible reconfiguration of Shattuck-Center Street and North Shattuck areas. Who invented the perceived problems and who asked for any such studies to be undertaken? Clearly someone has too much free time on their hands to have to go out searching for such projects, when all we really need is to have our infrastructure maintained. We don’t need a new look or a new transit center downtown, unless of course the new look would include getting some of the panhandlers (I refuse to grace them with the salutation “homeless”) off our streets. 

To repeat Mr. Homburger’s question: Who exactly is it that’s not happy with what we have now, and who precisely was surveyed? Is this a consultant-driven project? The Shattuck corridor may not be the best it could be, but it ain’t broke, so don’t mess with it. Perhaps we should reallocate budget from city planning to the street maintenance department to help them repair the potholes. 

We don’t need another pork project, even if grant funding equals free money, for such should be available. It is still taxpayers’ money; let’s not squander it on unnecessary projects such as that infamous bridge in Alaska. 

Peter Klatt 

 

• 

STEPHEN COLBERT 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Becky O’Malley’s editorial about the Stephen Colbert performance at the White House Correspondents Association annual dinner is the most insightful and wide-ranging comment I have read. I saw the video clip on Salon.com. Rude? I don’t think so. Colbert was far more vulnerable than anyone else at that affair, and he is a brave man. To break through Bush’s insulation: an impressive accomplishment. If only it could sink in and make a difference. 

Joan Strand 

 

• 

BOYCOTT  

SENSENBRENNER 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

I’d like to urge everyone to boycott products of the Sensenbrenner family. Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wisconsin) is the author/sponsor of HR 4437, which would turn 11 million undocumented immigrants into felons, punish anyone guilty of providing them assistance, and construct an iron wall between the United States and Mexico. Rep. Sensenbrenner is heir to the family fortune of Kimberly Clark, so purchasing Kleenex, Poise, Scott, Huggies, Pull-Ups, Kotex, Viva, Cottonelle, and Depend puts money in Sensenbrenner’s bank account. Now it’s our turn to build a wall around Sensenbrenner. We need to tell everyone here and everywhere in Latin America to boycott Kimberly Clark products. Support the Grand Boycott!! 

Estelle Jelinek 

 

• 

DERBY STREET PLAN 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Closing Derby Street is unfair and irresponsible to the Berkeley community as a whole. As an alumnus of the Berkeley Alternative School, Berkeley High School, and currently a parent of two children that attend Berkeley public schools, I am strongly opposed to this street closure.  

Though the issue of the funding for this project is an immediate concern, the message it sends to all of our youth is an irresponsible one. The students at the Alternative High School deserve our recognition, as our community’s lack of attention is what leads most of these students there in the first place. Closing this street for a fancy baseball field or your high “fences” and huge “lights” is a waste of time, money, and space. This proposal should be rejected for the greater good of all of Berkeley’s youth.  

Rachel Hart 

 

• 

ALTERNATIVE SCHOOL 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Another take on the Berkeley Alternative School: In 1998, my daughter, who was a sophomore at Berkeley High, convinced us to allow her to go to the Alternative School for her junior year. Why? She explained that she was bored in her classes and very tired of the teachers having to spend so much of their time in class making kids be quiet and pay attention! 

We were very hesitant, but she argued that it was worth a try. So she want to see teachers for about one hour each week at the Alternative School; she did her assignments every day, which took her about an hour. She decided to get a part-time job at McKevitt Volvo in the office; she graduated and, with money she had saved from working, took herself to Europe for two months. She traveled all over, mostly by train. She’s now attending Evergreen College in Washington and working full-time. 

The point is, Alternative School can be great for smart kids, kids who need more attention, kids who could work part-time, kids who are already parents. It’s almost like private school, but way cheaper!  

Colleen McGrath 

 

• 

BART PLAZA 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Thank you, Wolfgang Homburger (Letters, May 5) regarding the BART Plaza proposals. 

Which “people aren’t happy with what’s there”? 

Is the goal to make Berkeley a destination? Or to make it easier to pass through? 

What’s the benefit of these plans? What’s the cost in time, effort and money? 

How better could Berkeley spend this? Repairing our sewers, filling our potholes. 

Judy Nakadegawa 

 

• 

GAS PRICES 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

In the face of high gas prices, we should discuss the simple fact that if every driver stays off the road 10 percent of his or her time, others will get to their destination faster and therefore save money in gas. Few things are more wasteful than sitting in traffic. 

Hank Chapot 

 

• 

LIBRARY TRUSTEES 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Judith Scherr’s May 5 article on the deputy director’s departure from the Berkeley Public Library does an excellent job of depicting the relationship between the Board of Library Trustees (BOLT) and our City Council. 

However, it states that the BOLT is “self-appointing.” To be technically correct, it should describe the BOLT as “self-nominating” since the city council bears the responsibility for confirming (or denying) those nominations. Because the Council has tended to rubber stamp the BOLT’s decisions, the net effect is much as the article indicates, with the Council’s degree of involvement aptly characterized as “practically none.” 

This distinction is important because it points out the conscious decision of at least a majority of the Council to back away from the Library and its problems. 

Are these the same people who will want to raise your Library Tax in June? Very likely. 

Jim Fisher 

 

• 

DARFUR 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

I have relentlessly derided the old Peace and Justice Commission and Councilmembers Maio, Worthington, and Spring, and the Daily Planet for bringing a radical anti-Israel agenda to Berkeley. Daily Planet Executive Editor Becky O’Malley, has called me boring for harping on this one theme (some of my detractors have called me much worse in these pages). I confess that O’Malley may, in part, be right. There may be more important issues in this world. Take Darfur. While I, and lots of other contributors to the Daily Planet, focus on the Israel/Palestine conflict, the Jewish community has achieved remarkable internal consensus (get out of Gaza and the West Bank unilaterally, and leave the Palestinians to fend for themselves) and moved on to Darfur. You see, Jews have this thing about genocide. They hate it, even when it is Arab Muslims slaughtering black Muslims. That is, even when it might otherwise be none of their business, they just hate it. Open any issue of the Bay Area Jewish newspaper, “The J,” and it is filled with articles about Darfur. Last week’s issue, typically, had four articles published under the following headlines: 

 

Darfur and Auschwitz 

Day of Consciousness for Darfur Rallies Bay Area Jews 

Lantos Arrested at Darfur Protest 

Sudanese [i.e., Darur] Refugees in Israel Face Uncertain Fate 

 

So how does Darfur stack up to the Palestine/Israel conflict? Israel has killed close to 4,000 Palestinians since the start of the second intifada in 2000, in a war they initiated, perpetuated, and could stop anytime they choose. The vast majority of these were combatants (during the same period, Palestinians have killed more than 1,000 Israelis, the vast majority of whom were civilians). In Darfur, about 50 times more blacks than this have been slaughtered, and almost all of them were helpless civilians. That’s right, 50 times as many blacks have been killed in Darfur as all of the deaths resulting from the second intifada. Think about that. Although, I have not rigorously counted the numbers, I think it would be fair to say that the Daily Planet has published at least 50 times more articles about Israel/Palestine than about Darfur, including, admittedly, a number of pieces by me.  

As a city, where are our priorities? Perhaps this city and this newspaper should unite behind a cause that all, but the hardest of heart among us, can support. Maybe Berkeley’s passionate supporters of Palestine and equally passionate supporters of Israel could even break bread on this one. 

John Gertz 

 

• 

EUSTON MANIFESTO 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Everyone tracking issues regularly raised in the letters and opinion pieces of this paper should read and consider becoming a signatory to the Euston Manifesto: www.eustonmanifesto.org. 

It begins: 

A. Preamble 

We are democrats and progressives. We propose here a fresh political alignment. Many of us belong to the Left, but the principles that we set out are not exclusive. We reach out, rather, beyond the socialist Left towards egalitarian liberals and others of unambiguous democratic commitment. Indeed, the reconfiguration of progressive opinion that we aim for involves drawing a line between the forces of the Left that remain true to its authentic values, and currents that have lately shown themselves rather too flexible about these values. It involves making common cause with genuine democrats, whether socialist or not.  

Thomas Lord 

 

• 

A READER’S  

RECOMMENDATION 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

It’s that time of year once again. Sample ballots and absentee ballots for the June 6 election are appearing in mailboxes throughout Berkeley. One of the more mysterious races is unique in that no one but registered Democrats have a say. It’s the vote for the 14th Assembly District members of Alameda County’s Democratic Central Committee. Though it may sound like some offshoot of the old Soviet Union, in reality the County Central Committee is a coordinating body that is supposed to advance the Democratic Party’s cause, bring out the vote for Democrats, find candidates for higher office, and inform the state party leadership of opinions held by the grassroots in Alameda County. 

At present, the committee could use some new energy. One candidate, Karen Weinstein, is running to provide that. Karen has been voted in as co-chair of the United Democratic Campaign in Berkeley. She is a tireless and committed worker at these entirely unpaid, volunteer positions. She advocates year-round precinct organizing, so that ordinary citizens have ways to consider the issues and convey their views to elected officials. She will strive for a year-round campaign to register new voters. She also will press the county committee to seek out and encourage new people to run for office. 

Karen is a firm believer in bottom–up democracy, which is what she thinks energizes politics and makes government responsive. She is an active SEIU member, a NWPC member and a member of the local, progressive Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club. That posture informs her eagerness to get the Committee to express the views of county residents to higher ups and elected officials in the Democratic Party. That includes opposing the Iraq war, advancing health care for all through single-payer, battling for advances in workers’ pay and rights, as well as protecting women’s right to choose. 

Be sure to vote for Karen Weinstein! You’ll be glad you did. 

Michael H. Goldhaber


Commentary: On Being Black at a Latino March

By Van Jones New American Media
Tuesday May 09, 2006

SAN FRANCISCO—At this week’s “Dia Sin Inmigrantes/Day Without Immigrants” march in San Francisco, I saw a beautiful, exciting and hopeful vision of the future of this country.  

I also caught a glimpse of a familiar past, fading away. And I shed a few tea rs for both.  

From the moment I climbed aboard the BART subway cars Monday morning, I knew this May Day march and rally would differ from the Bay Area’s usual protest fare. The trains headed into downtown San Francisco were filled with working-class Latinos, all wearing white; most had kids in tow.  

There were few protest signs or banners. But the stars and stripes were everywhere. One tyke on my train kept trying to poke his cousin with a little American flag.  

The children were all well-scrubbed and happy . . . and very proud. So were their parents. They knew they were part of something new, and big, and promising.  

The bright mood contrasted starkly with the dreary atmosphere that chokes most protests nowadays. On this march, I saw no resigned shuf fling of already-defeated feet. No sea of scowls. No pierced tongues, screaming. Nor could I spy a single person dragging behind her the weighty conviction that resistance—though obligatory—was futile.  

To the contrary. Beaming, brown-skinned families wa lked off those trains with their heads held high. They may have been poor, but they stepped like they were marching into a future of limitless promise. 

Their optimism brought tears to my eyes. And not only for the obvious reasons. 

Deep inside, I was gri eving for my own people. I wished that my beloved African-American community had managed—somehow—to retain our own sparkling sense of faith in a magnificent future. There was once a time when we, too, marched forward together. There was a time when we, to o, believed that America’s tomorrow held something bright for us . . . and for our children.  

But those dreams have been eaten away by the AIDS virus, laid off by down-sizers, locked out by smiling bigots, shot up by gang-bangers and buried in a corporat e-run prison yard. Now we cling to Black History Month for validation or inspiration. That’s because Black Present Moment is so depressing—with worse, almost certainly, on the way.  

When Katrina’s floodwaters washed our problems back onto the front pages, the once-mighty Black Freedom Movement could not rise even to THAT occasion. Our legendary “movement” is now a hollowed-out shell—with our “spokespersons,” both young and old, trying somehow to live off our past glories.  

Meanwhile, the white-shirted f uture was pouring itself down Market Street, chanting “Si, Se Puede!”  

My feelings of solidarity quickly trumped my sorrows. Thousands of people were standing up, here and across the United States, for their right to live and work in dignity in this country. Deep in my bones, I felt their pain, knew their hopes and affirmed their dreams. And just as non-Blacks had supported our freedom movement in the last century, I was determined—as a non-immigrant—to give my passionate support to this righteous cause.  

So I joined the crowds in the street, trying to add my voice to the thunderous chants. But I quickly discovered that—all my good intentions notwithstanding—political solidarity is sometimes more easily felt than expressed.  

My fellow marchers started roaring out: “Zapata! Vive! La lucha! Sigue!”  

I was like, Huh? What?  

“Zapata! Vive! La lucha! Sigue!”  

Then louder, faster: “LaLuchaSigueSigue! ZapataViveVive! LaLuchaSigueSigue! ZapataViveVive!”  

Whoa, there! What the . . . ?  

Bewildered but undeterred, I got myself a “chant sheet.” Sure enough, the handy leaflet spelled everything out very clearly—in Spanish.  

“Las Calles Son Del Pueblo! El Pueblo Donde Esta? El Pueblo Esta En Las Calles, Exigiendo Libertad!”  

I found myself desperately trying to remember back to 11th grade, wondering what sound an “x” makes in Spanish.  

Finally, I had to face a sad truth about myself: I had B.S.-ed my way through all my high school and college language requirements. Now, I had to admit that Mrs. Savage (from fourth period Espanol) had been right: I really HADN’T cheated anyone—but myself.  

I decided instead to just walk cheerfully along, clapping in time with the drummers. But even some of the Latin rhythms were unfamiliar, strangely syncopated. I couldn’t a lways find the beat. Suddenly, I was filled with sympathy for all those a-rhythmic white folks whom I used to make fun of at Black rallies, parties and churches. (I am so sorry, y’all!) 

Eventually I found a solution: I would simply listen for any chant t hat had the word “VIVA!” in it. Whenever appropriate, I would just raise my fist and shout “VIVA!” along with the crowd, as loud as I could.  

In the end, despite feeling somewhat out of place, I was absolutely thrilled to see my sisters and brothers taking the future into their own hands.  

Activist Latinos today are pulling the nation to a higher level of fairness and inclusion. They are posing a simple and devastating question: Should U.S. society continue to profit from the labor of 11 million people—many of whom pick our fruit, nurse our children, clean our workplaces—without embracing them fully, without honoring their work, without extending to them the same rights and respect we would want for ourselves?  

Can we countenance or tolerate a Jim Crow system—in brown-face—with a shunned tier of second-class workers, enriching society but lacking legal status and protections?  

Or are we willing to change our laws—and change our hearts—to embrace those upon whom our economy has come to rest? This is a simple moral challenge. The right answers are not easy, but they are obvious.  

I know that there will be a backlash (there always is when people push for fairness), even coming from some Black folks. But I also know that the Latino-led struggle for justi ce and inclusion offers hope to all of us. A national conversation about the true meaning of dignity, equality, opportunity and fair play in the modern economy can ultimately benefit every American community.  

During the two prior centuries, it was the African-American community that performed this service for the country. And we paid a high and awful cost in blood and martyrs. Unfortunately, we did not achieve all of our aims. But we did tear apartheid from pages of U.S. law books. And in the course of that struggle, we did improve the lot of all Americans—expanding social programs, democratic rights and social tolerance for all people.  

Of course, I cannot help but mourn the loss of a Black community strong enough to put this nation on its back, and c arry it forward, step by step, toward justice . . . as we once did. But my pain only amplifies and underscores my joy that this marvelous new force HAS arisen, one that is capable—in this tough, new era—of deepening and extending the struggle for transfor mation and redemption.  

Strong brown hands have grabbed hold of the U.S. flag. And they are pulling it away from those who have monopolized it, from bullies who have abused the nation’s symbols for their violent and illegitimate ends.  

If history is any guide, as Latinos and other immigrant communities raise core questions about their children’s access to education, health care, jobs and safety, every American community will benefit hugely from their efforts. Including my own.  

›c


Commentary: Pacific Steel Casting: ZAB ’em!

By L A Wood
Tuesday May 09, 2006

Absent for over 15 years, Pacific Steel Casting (PSC) has finally made a return to the Berkeley Zoning Adjustments Board. The steel mill is requesting modification of their use permit No. 8957 for operating one of their three facilities on Second Street. A privately owned West Berkeley company, PSC has the distinction of being the city’s biggest stationary air polluter. This fact is also reflected in its long history of neighborhood conflicts, odor nuisance complaints, and abatement orders.  

Specifically, the mill has petitioned for changes to Facility No. 3, an open-air pour foundry permitted by ZAB in 1979. The last modification to this use permit was made in 1991. At the same time, an out-of-court settlement forced PSC to address its odor nuisance. Th e settlement required the foundry to “determine and alleviate the odor problem within 18 to 22 months.” In retrospect, ZAB should have waited to approve the changes to Facility No. 3 until the court-linked evaluations were complete. 

Although the 1991 per mit modification created real confusion for ZAB, from the foundry’s perspective, pushing the use permit forward made good sense. In this regulatory fog, the foundry managed to maneuver changes to its operations and postpone any real verification of the impacts. The folly of ZAB’s permit approval was obscured by PSC’s half-hearted attempt to comply with the settlement agreement. This left the evaluations for both the use permit and the settlement agreement incomplete, as they remain today.  

Pacific Steel wants permission to install a carbon filtration system for emissions control at Facility No. 3. Why hasn’t anyone questioned the logic of spending two million dollars to upgrade this residentially bound steel mill? PSC should be encouraged to move this sm allest and dirtiest portion of its operations to a less urban area. Instead, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD), which issues PSC’s air discharge permits, has only praise for the foundry’s financial commitment to the proposed system. 

P erhaps PSC now recognizes the political benefits connected to this investment, a lesson gleaned from the two existing absorption units in Facilities No. 1 and No. 2. Although these two units have been only moderately effective in suppressing odors, over t he long haul, they have been absolutely effective in deflecting public criticism of PSC’s emissions. Besides, how could anything possibly be wrong since the steel company claims it spent nearly two and a half million dollars to install both carbon systems in 1985 and 1991!  

Objecting to the installation of another carbon absorption unit at the foundry might seem a bit wacky since PSC is one of the largest steel mills of its kind in the country. However, even with the use of both carbon absorption beds at Facilities No. 1 and No. 2, odor complaints continue to be identified with both buildings to this day. Indeed, these absorption units may be linked to some of PSC’s unsolved odor events.  

The best available technology 

The community has been told repeate dly that PSC’s carbon absorption system is the best available technology. This has never been at the center of the debate over the proposed carbon beds. Instead, the discussion has been about how well the technology actually works at PSC. The history of t his pollution control system might come as a surprise to many, especially its proprietary connection to the foundry.  

At a 1999 BAAQMD hearing about the foundry’s odors, a spokesperson for PSC said, “We started this whole thing. We were the first ones wi th a carbon absorption unit.” When asked by the hearing board who else employs PSC’s system, it was revealed that while one company in Arizona was considering it, the foundry’s 15-year-old technology was not being used anywhere else in the country.  

When the foundry’s abatement scheme was first introduced in the mid 1980s, the board labeled it “fundamentally speculative” and suggested it to be an “overly optimistic process.” The BAAQMD board was not convinced that the proposed carbon system would elimina te the odor problems plaguing nearby homes and businesses. There were strong doubts as to whether the proposed system was really the best technology, much less the best odor control measure. 

Some have asked, “Why not look at the recycled carbon to unders tand what the absorption system is really doing?” Unfortunately, PSC’s used carbon is handled by a private contractor, which apparently distances the foundry from any reporting requirements. The recycler, who handles the dirty carbon for PSC, hauls it off to somewhere like Modesto, or, even out of state, to be incinerated.  

It is logical to assume that the ash from PSC’s recycled carbon is hazardous due to heavy metals that would inevitably be embedded in it. What toxic pollutants in PSC’s chemical inven tory are captured on the carbon beds? Which ones are not captured? Monitoring and evaluation of the carbon system’s effectiveness, by an independent expert, are desperately needed.  

The air board’s assumption that another carbon absorption system is goin g to improve the impact of emissions and odors at PSC is truly wishful thinking. For all that is known about the absorption system’s efficiency, it may, at times, actually exacerbate some of PSC’s toxic emissions. Moreover, the existing absorption systems have never been able to adequately control the foundry’s odors. No technology can ever protect nearby residents without an adequate buffer zone. This is why other Berkeley foundries have relocated.  

 

The health risk: how bad can it get? 

Of all the egreg ious acts of use permit abuse recorded in Berkeley, none is greater than ZAB’s acceptance of the Bendix report as a qualified health risk assessment. The scope of the health risk evaluation, as stipulated by the 1991 use permit, was to determine “if there is a potential for adverse health effects of chemicals stored and used at Facility No. 3. Bendix Environmental Research, which was hired as the contractor, chose instead to refocus the scope of the work to the evaluation of odors. This was an area in whi ch Bendix had no formal training or expertise.  

From the beginning, this report was off the mark. The health risk data, limited to information previously gathered by others, was presented without any qualification of its validity. ZAB further contributed to the distortion of this evaluation by allowing Bendix to refocus away from the use permit for Facility No. 3 and to broaden the scope of the report to include all three facilities.  

The real twist to the Bendix report is that the steel mill became its greatest supporter. In the last decade, each time the health risks from its operations have come up for discussion, the foundry points to the Bendix report to silence the public. PSC is quick to remind critics that it paid for this report and that ZAB en dorsed it. Recently, PSC has agreed to undertake another health risk assessment for all of its Berkeley operations. Neighbors have already objected to the proposed protocol as woefully inadequate. ZAB should demand more. 

Changes to the operations of Faci lity No. 3 in 1991 included a review under the guidelines of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The foundry’s request for flexible hours was deemed to have insignificant impacts. Since that time, however, PSC has changed substantially. In fa ct, Facility No. 3 has grown from 80 employees to a three-shift operation of 180 workers!  

PSC has tried to shrug off the huge growth of employees and production by arguing the foundry was underutilized in the last decade. This is a grossly misleading ex planation for the steady rise in plant activity and the near doubling of the steel tonnage in production over the last two years alone. This increase has already generated significantly adverse impacts that will only grow as PSC is allowed to expand its o perations.  

The use permit now demands a full environmental review. This review must include the proposed carbon absorption unit and its effectiveness as an emissions control. If ZAB moves for approval, it should require installation of continuous emissi on monitors. These CEMs can be connected electronically to BAAQMD, making the regulatory reporting of PSC’s stack emissions more transparent to ZAB and our Berkeley community.  

The 1991 use permit debacle is at the core of the current community conflicts with the steel mill, BAAQMD and the city. The injustice of this outdated permit, more than a decade of unanswered questions about emissions and health risks, and this shoddy regulatory oversight must stop. Pacific Steels Castings should be made to confor m. ZAB ‘em! 

 

L A Wood is a Berkeley resident. 

 


Commentary: Bus Rapid Transit Leaflet Misleading

By Rob Wrenn
Tuesday May 09, 2006

At the recent community workshop on the Downtown Berkeley BART Plaza redesign plan, an anonymous leaflet was distributed that is full of factual errors and misinformation about Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) service, which AC Transit is planning for Telegraph Avenue, the Southside and Downtown Berkeley. 

The author of this anonymous leaflet tries to suggest that we don’t need to improve transit service on the Telegraph corridor by implementing BRT because existing bus service is adequate. The anonymous leaflet states that buses that currently use Telegraph are “almost empty.” This is simply false.  

Anonymous must never ride the bus. Anyone who does ride the 40 bus from Berkeley to Oakland and back on Telegraph will note that people are getting on and off the bus all along the route. How full the bus is varies, not surprisingly, by time of day. 

AC Transit gathers statistics about how many people ride their buses, which is not hard to do since everyone must pay, or have a pass or transfer, to ride. According to AC, the Telegraph Avenue portion of the approved BRT corridor currently draws about 8,000 bus riders a day. 

 

A billion dollars for BRT? 

Anonymous says AC is getting “a billion or more taxpayer dollars” for BRT, which anonymous describes as a “grand scheme to compete with BART.” This is simply false. 

The total cost of BRT construction is estimated at between $190 million and $340 million.  

Is BRT meant to compete with BART? Hardly. It will, as the current 40 bus does, serve areas that are not well served by BART.  

BART is good for longer distance travel. If you are going from the center of downtown Berkeley to the center of downtown Oakland, BART is obviously the best choice; the same holds true if you are going from downtown Berkeley to Market Street in San Francisco.  

But BART stations are spaced much further apart than both current bus stops and planned BRT stations (which will be one-third to one-half mile apart). For many people living near Telegraph or International Blvd, there is no BART station close by.  

  

Why BRT is needed 

BRT is expected to increase transit ridership by 30-40 percent on the corridor it serves. Most of these new transit riders will be people who currently drive. In addition, for people who don’t own cars and are dependent on transit for commute and other trips, including those in low-income and minority neighborhoods along the route, it will substantially improve the quality of service. 

How does BRT improve service? First, of all BRT buses will run in their own dedicated lanes in the street and will have traffic signal priority at intersections. BRT stations will be spaced further apart than current bus stops, so the bus will spend less time stopping. 

The combined impact of these changes will be a substantial improvement in travel time. Trips will take one-third less time and will be much more competitive with automobile trip travel time to the same destinations along the corridor. For someone boarding in the area south of the UC campus, the travel time to downtown Oakland will be reduced by about ten minutes, a substantial improvement. 

A survey of commuters conducted a few years ago found that the top reason given for NOT taking transit to work was that it “takes too much time.” BRT will attract more riders to transit because it will reduce travel time.  

Also in the top five reasons for not riding transit is concern about transit’s reliability. People who ride buses regularly know that buses are not always on schedule. Dedicated lanes will make it easier to stay on schedule since it is often traffic congestion that knocks buses off their schedules. 

Why does it matter if bus service is improved and more people choose to ride transit as a result? Berkeley’s population is increasing as more housing is being built. UC plans to expand as well.  

Both Berkeley’s General Plan EIR and UC’s Long Range Development Plan recognize that the volume of traffic will increase. If more trips are made as a result of growth and there is no change in the percentage of those trips made by transit and other alternatives to driving, then the net result will be more traffic. There will also be more demand for on-street parking in neighborhoods and commercial areas. 

BRT will reduce traffic overall and will benefit neighborhoods adjacent to its route by doing so. Anyone in these neighborhoods who opposes BRT forfeits their right to complain about traffic and competition for neighborhood parking spaces. Without BRT and similar efforts to improve transit service and to encourage transit use, more traffic is inevitable. 

  

Reducing emissions 

Since BRT will reduce traffic and eliminate an estimated 9,000 to 11,000 daily auto trips, it will also reduce emissions that contribute to global climate change and that pollute the air. It will help Berkeley implement the Urban Environmental Accords, which include an action which calls for implementing “a policy to reduce the percentage of commute trips by single occupancy vehicles by ten percent in seven years.” 

AC Transit has introduced “clean diesel” buses that have sharply reduced emissions of nitrogen dioxide and particulates to levels far below those set by the California Air Resources Board. AC is also trying out zero-emissions hydrogen fuel cell buses and gasoline hybrids. 

There is no question that the emissions from BRT buses will be far below the emissions that would be generated if all the car-owners who decide to ride BRT buses were to drive instead. 

The anonymous anti-BRT leaflet suggests that BRT’s “polluting diesel buses” could emit more harmful particulate pollution into our city’s air and add to greenhouse gases. Had anonymous talked to anyone at AC, this mistaken impression could have been avoided. 

   

Impact on pedestrians and business 

Anonymous says that BRT’s raised concrete platforms and bus shelters will “impede pedestrian movement and block views of businesses on the street.” First of all the raised platforms will only be 8-13 inches high. They will make things easier for pedestrians because they will allow for “level boarding” which will make it much easier for people with wheelchairs, people with strollers, and people with mobility problems to board the bus. 

People will board buses in the median, so sidewalks will not be obstructed by BRT shelters. Given all the rain we had this winter and spring, bus shelters are an obvious necessity. AC is working on a design that will be attractive with a transparent canopy. AC plans to seek public input on the specific design. 

  

Next steps 

The BRT EIR should be released to the public in a few months. The EIR will look at BRT’s impact on traffic among other things and will provide data on the route alternatives being considered. 

The Berkeley City Council endorsed BRT and dedicated lanes in a general way when it approved the current General Plan. But many specific decisions remain to be made.  

What should the specific route be through Berkeley’s Southside and Downtown? Should buses run both ways on all of Telegraph and on Bancroft and Shattuck? Or should buses use couplets of streets: Telegraph/Dana (north of Dwight); Bancroft/Durant; and Shattuck/Oxford? 

What mitigations will AC propose for the removal of some on-street parking spaces near their new BRT stations? How many stations should there be in Berkeley and where should they be located. Should there be a station between Dwight and Ashby on Telegraph or is the distance between those stations about right? 

What’s a good design for stations and shelters and what’s the best design for the streets where BRT buses will run? Clearly we can work with AC to come up with an optimal design that will give a boost to Downtown and the Telegraph area while meeting AC’s and our need for improved more rapid bus service. 

AC has welcomed public input in the planning process leading up to the EIR. They have hosted public meetings and have made presentations and heard input at meetings and hearings before the Planning and Transportation commissions.  

There will be more opportunities for public input in the post-EIR phase of the planning process. Hopefully that input will be informed by accurate information and not by misinformation coming from people who long ago made up their minds that BRT is a bad idea.  

  

Rob Wrenn is a member of the Transportation Commission and the Downtown Area Plan Committee.›


Commentary: Creekside Homeowners Need the Right to Rebuild

by Shirley Dean
Tuesday May 09, 2006

The Planning Commission and City Council will soon be considering recommendations regarding revisions to the Creeks Ordinance. When property owners affected by the Creeks Ordinance were informed that it would be virtually impossible to rebuild their homes if they were destroyed, more than 600 attended the City Council meeting to express their outrage. It turns out that this is core issue for those directly affected by the Creeks Ordinance but also for almost everyone else in Berkeley.  

It is fair to say that I have had a more than usual involvement in the workings of our government. Even with that deep involvement, I was shocked to learn that almost every homeowner in Berkeley cannot rebuild without going through a public hearing and use permit process when their property is destroyed 50 percent or more. 

This means that homeowners have to pay $6,000 just for starters and wait a minimum of six months before you can get a hearing date. Six months is very optimistic. All of you know from your experience with zoning matters that the process often takes a year or more. Yet our city requires all of this just to rebuild what probably existed for 50 years or more. At the public hearing anyone in the city can object to your request to rebuild even if you are replacing the same structure that originally existed! 

This is especially a problem for properties with open creeks. In examining such properties, the city’s consultant found that around 60 percent of properties sampled in the hills and 80 percent of properties sampled in the flats do not conform to the 30-foot creek setback, 60 feet if measured on both sides of the creek. It seems reasonable that those percentages can be applied to all 1,000-plus properties with open creeks. Can anyone state that objections about being too near the creek will not be the central issue raised during a public hearing to rebuild a destroyed property? Can anyone guarantee that the city will give permission to rebuild the same home in the face of such objections? I sincerely doubt it. 

Imagine the agony for both the homeowner and the city if the city’s currently clogged zoning process had to deal with any number of properties destroyed in an earthquake or a wildfire. Let’s face it, even one destroyed home is a nightmare of red tape, requirements, and back-breaking effort. One homeowner said it all when he told the Creeks Task Force that the requirement for a use permit public hearing process in order to rebuild would be to add “horror upon horror” for the homeowner. 

What property owners want is very simple: first, to be able to rebuild a destroyed structure that is on the same footprint, to the same height and size as what formerly existed, as a matter of right, with no public hearing. The only requirement should be to meet current building and engineering codes. These provisions should apply to everyone in Berkeley, including properties with open creeks, and they don’t mean that a homeowner would have to build the exact same interior layout.  

Second, if the person wants to rebuild something that is bigger or higher than what formerly existed, that proposal should undergo full zoning review. The Creeks Task Force has suggested granting increases to the height or moving the structure into the front and side yard setbacks as an incentive to move a home away from a creek. Neighbors on Urban Creeks objects to this because of the likely significant impact on neighboring properties. If an incentive is to be given to encourage owners to build away from the creek, the fee for zoning review of a structure that is different from what existed should be waived. 

How does Neighbors on Urban Creeks know what owners want? We asked them. We mailed a survey out to over 2,000 owners affected by the ordinance. With a 17.5 percent return, 94 percent felt that the use permit requirement to rebuild destroyed properties was wrong. 

The right to rebuild is a property value issue that affects mortgages, insurance and resale when there is no guarantee that you can replace what you worked so hard to own. I urge the Planning Commission and City Council to begin the process to amend the Zoning Ordinance as described above.  

 

Shirley Dean is the former mayor of Berkeley. 

 

 

 


Commentary: Shedding Light on Strawberry Creek

By Gus Yates
Tuesday May 09, 2006

The current alignment of Strawberry Creek is well known, and its future location is up to the community. Frank Greenspan’s April 25 letter to the editor suggests that there is some public confusion regarding the current status of the Strawberry Creek and proposals to daylight it. The creek presently enters a five-by-six-foot arched box culvert as it leaves campus at Oxford Street. The culvert jogs diagonally under buildings to Allston Way, runs down Allston Way to near the post office, cuts diagonally under the YMCA to the Center Street side of City Hall, and diagonally crosses the northwest corner of Civic Center Park to Martin Luther King Jr. Way. The culvert runs in perfectly straight segments, whereas the natural channel did not. Thus, the existing culvert is already a “realignment” of the creek.  

The currently preferred design concept is to create an open channel reach of Strawberry Creek along Center Street between Oxford and Shattuck that would convey low to medium flows only. The flows would be returned to the existing culvert just above the point where it crosses BART at Allston Way. An existing storm drain culvert along the east side of Shattuck Avenue would need to be enlarged for this purpose. High flows would remain in the existing culvert for the time being, but the new channel would be large enough to convey a 100-year flood flow, the full flow of the creek. Also, its gradient would be aimed to pass over the BART station and continue down Center Street if complete rerouting of the creek becomes desirable at some future date.  

The objectives of this concept design are to restore some of the creek’s biological, aesthetic, and flood management functions by creating an open reach. The open channel would not need to be huge to convey the 100-year flood flow. A stepped or V-shaped channel eight feet deep and 25 feet wide would suffice, which is approximately the size of the channel at the lower end of campus. This could easily fit within the 80 feet of total width available for a pedestrian plaza along Center Street, while still allowing for sidewalks and other plaza amenities. Previous studies implied that a wider corridor would be needed for complete “restoration” of the creek. Those studies assumed that the objective was to restore all of the natural functions of the creek, including geomorphic processes such as meandering. While a meandering streambed would be a great option if additional space were available, this is not a requirement for the design discussed above, since it is clear that there are obvious constraints associated with being in a highly developed urban environment. Obviously, meandering streams are not compatible in the context of a highly confined and developed urban setting. The present objectives are to restore some of the creek’s biological, aesthetic and flood management functions by creating this open reach. 

There are a range of options for the appearance of the open channel through the plaza. At the “wild” extreme, it could be densely vegetated with native, bank-anchoring shrubs such as willows, and have a natural look featuring spider webs and earth banks blanketed with leaf litter. At the “park” extreme, it could look quite manicured with terraced lawn banks, flagstone walkways and a few high-canopy shade trees. As a whole, the aim would be to maximize the potential ecological services provided by this open space area, while at the same time providing a real amenity to the downtown core. Cities such as San Luis Obispo have done this to great economic and aesthetic benefit, and we see a real opportunity here in Berkeley as well. 

Deciding whether to daylight Strawberry Creek through the Center Street plaza and selecting the appearance of the channel are decisions that should be made by the citizens of Berkeley. An upcoming opportunity to participate in that discussion is the public “visioning” event being hosted on June 17 by the Downtown Area Plan Advisory Committee.  

 

Berkeley resident Gus Yates is a professional hydrologist..


Commentary: Mayor May Be Swing Vote on Right to Pave

By Robert Lauriston
Tuesday May 09, 2006

How un-Berkeley can you be? Mayor Tom Bates and City Councilmembers Darryl Moore, Laurie Capitelli and Gordon Wozniak offered one possible answer to that question last Tuesday when they indicated support for a proposal to allow developers to convert landscaped rear yards into parking lots with no public notice, no public hearing, and no possibility of appeal by neighbors. 

Up for a vote were two contending proposals, a bad one from the Planning Commission and an even worse one from Planning Department staff, to amend the Zoning Ordinance to relax or eliminate the current general prohibition (to which there are numerous exceptions) on locating parking spaces in required rear and side yards. On most lots, that’s 15 feet across the back and four feet along each side. (You can park anywhere you like in the non-required portion of a yard.) 

The Zoning Ordinance currently defines a yard as being “unoccupied and unobstructed from the ground upward by any portion of a building or structure, or by the presence of a parking space. . . .” Both proposals would strike the phrase “or by the presence of a parking space,” thereby eliminating the prohibition on parking in required yards which has been in effect for decades. 

The Planning Commission’s proposal would add language requiring an administrative use permit (AUP) to locate any required parking space in a required yard in a residential district. An AUP can be approved by planning staff, but public notice is required and unhappy neighbors can appeal it to the Zoning Adjustments Board. 

Planning staff’s alternative proposal would require an AUP only for front-yard parking, allowing parking in rear and side yards “by right,” that is, with no public notice, as if a developer converting a yard into a parking lot were as innocuous and private a matter as a homeowner converting a closet into a bathroom. 

Enacting either proposal would effectively eliminate the 15-foot rear-yard requirement in the South Area Commercial district (Shattuck Avenue south of Durant, MLK from Ashby south, Sacramento from Oregon south, and all of Adeline Street), and the 10-foot rear-yard requirement for commercial lots adjacent to residential lots. 

We don’t have to guess what effects those changes would have. In 2002, planning staff mistakenly approved a by-right conversion of 3045 Shattuck (aka the “flying bungalow”) from a 1,250-square-foot single-family home into a 4,999-square-foot, three-unit building, and conversion of its rear yard into a three-space parking lot (see Figure 1). If the council passes either proposal, we’ll see similar projects on corner lots all over south and west Berkeley. 

In mid-2003, while justifying the approval of the 3045 Shattuck project, planner Mark Rhoades told the City Council that it was staff’s practice to allow parking in required rear yards, and that off the top of his head he could name 20 examples of similar projects. (Contrary to that claim, staff has yet to come up with an example of a project prior to 3045 Shattuck that located new parking spaces in a required yard, except after a public hearing by the ZAB and as allowed by one of the aforementioned exceptions.) For the next two years, staff ignored the law and allowed parking in required yards; in May 2005, staff returned to enforcing the law. 

Figure 2 shows plans my next-door neighbor had drawn up during that period. His goal was to bring the uninhabited ground-floor second unit flat up to code. Planning staff told him that to get a permit he would have to add a second off-street parking space, and that the only place he could put it was in the rear yard. Note carefully: this was staff's recommendation; my neighbor thought turning the rear yard into a parking lot was a horrible idea. (Staff eventually tracked down some old documents showing that the building was legally two units, so the parking situation was grandfathered in, and he was able to keep his yard.) 

If the City Council approves staff’s proposal, we’ll see projects like that “by right” all over Berkeley. The Planning Commission’s version would allow them by right for residences in commercial districts; in residential districts an AUP would be required. No sound policy argument is offered for eliminating the current prohibition; staff dismisses concerns with the fiction that such parking was always allowed by right. 

The council deadlocked 4-4 (Max Anderson was absent) on Moore’s motion to approve staff’s proposal, so the matter will be back on the May 16 agenda. Spring and Worthington opposed both proposals, Olds seemed to be leaning that way, Maio favored the Planning Commission’s version, and Bates, Capitelli, and Wozniak sided with Moore, though toward the end of the discussion the mayor seemed to be leaning toward changing his mind. If you’d like to see the yard-parking prohibition maintained, please let Bates, Maio, and your district’s City Council representative know right away. For their phone numbers and e-mail addresses, visit www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/Elected or call 981-CITY. 

 

Robert Lauriston is a South Berkeley  

pro-democracy activist.?


Commentary: Why Is Jerry Brown Running Again?

By Joyce Roy
Tuesday May 09, 2006

Jerry Brown is running for attorney general for the same reason he ran for mayor of Oakland in 1998: “I don’t know what to do with myself when I am not running for office.” Soon after he became mayor, he looked for the next office to run for without an incumbent. He had his eye on Barbara Boxer’s Senate seat until she decided not to step down. So then he focused on the attorney general’s office. 

He loves running for office but he is rather like the dog that loves chasing cars and finally when he catches one doesn’t know what to do with it.  

Some people voted for him initially believing he would put a monkey wrench in the machine that has had a choke hold on Oakland for so long. But no, he bonded with the machine and became a protégé of Don Perata. From him he learned that to succeed in politics, The People to court were The People with Money. 

Even with his pushing for anything any developer (or at least any developer who added to his coffers) proposed, Oakland’s Main Street, Broadway, is as dreary as when he first became mayor. The dot-com boom brought a lot of construction, but most of the “downtown” housing is too scattered and too far from Broadway to stimulate retail. Construction on the largest site near Broadway has just broken ground because, instead of parceling it out to local developers years ago, he insisted it be given to one big Cleveland developer at a subsidy of almost $100,000 per unit. 

Every city needs development but a city only benefits if it is the right development in the right place. Due to his indiscriminate support for developers,  

• He is for urban casinos: Kept pushing for casinos in Oakland in spite of strong citizen and city council opposition. 

• Had no objection to a Wal-Mart. 

• Has no respect for public lands: Tried to hand over a park parcel to the Catholic Church and another to a housing developer. In both cases the public reaction was so strong that the public prevailed. Presently pushing a development on the estuary that would place dense housing on public land designated as open space in the General Plan. (Recently he told an audience in Los Angeles that the Tidelands Trust has outlived its usefulness.) 

• Wants to eliminate or, at least, weaken CEQA. 

• Thinks of historic preservation as just an impediment to development. 

His legal positions and understanding of the law make him a scary candidate for attorney general. For instance: 

• In favor of draconian, lock-them-up-and-throw-away-the-key law enforcement. Energetically campaigned to preserve the current 3-strikes law. 

• Does not understand the concept of protecting health, safety and welfare of citizens. He once said to me that he didn’t think architects needed to be licensed. 

• Lost one good project in Oakland because the architect followed his erroneous legal advice—that his project on a historic site did not need review by the Landmarks Board. 

• Has little respect for sexual harassment laws. He gave his long-time right- hand man, Jacques Barzaghi, a city job, and young women soon learned it was not safe to get on an elevator alone with him. But even after a woman finally filed a complaint, he supported him and kept him on as his aid until July 2004. 

Lockyer recently filed two lawsuits against the construction of a toll road through San Onofre State Beach in Orange County favored by developers. From Jerry’s record in Oakland, it is hard to believe that he would have filed any such lawsuit. 

With his views, he belongs on the Libertarian ticket. But you never can tell. Before running for mayor, he had an afternoon talk show titled “We the People” on KPFA whose main theme was that all corporations and developers were evil. (He has had those programs sealed!) After he became mayor, corporations and developers could do no wrong. I asked him about this change and he said the radio show was “his pre-mayoral persona.” 

So, who knows what “his post-mayoral persona” will be. We in Oakland found that Jerry had no there there. 

 

Joyce Roy is a semi-retired architect and an Oakland activist. 


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. 

 


Columns

Column: Confessions of a Desperate Housewife

By Susan Parker
Tuesday May 09, 2006

Twelve years ago my husband had an accident that left him a C-4 quadriplegic, paralyzed below the shoulders. After two nights in Highland Hospital he was transferred to the Neurology Department at the Kaiser Permanente in Redwood City. While there, nurses from India, Sumatra and Sunnyvale cared for him. Ten days later he was sent to the Kaiser rehab center in Vallejo. He came under the supervision of a Pakistani doctor. The therapists who moved his arms and legs and taught me how to get him in and out of his new wheelchair were students enrolled in a nearby physical therapy school. They were from Holland, Belgium, Germany, and Switzerland. Filipino nurses gave Ralph his pills, took his temperature, and recorded his vital signs. The assistants who bathed Ralph, emptied his urine bag, and shifted him from his left side onto his right were African-Americans. 

Ralph returned home a month later and four friends helped me carry him up our back steps and place him into a hospital bed in our living room. Then we were left alone. 

It didn’t take us long to realize we needed additional help. Teams of people had watched over Ralph in the hospital. It was a full-time, demanding job, and I was in no shape mentally or physically to do it alone. 

The organizations I sought advice from on how to hire live-in attendants had unrealistic goals. They expected me to know what we could afford to pay for tasks that appeared endless. Should anyone from a foreign country apply, I was told to check their immigration status. I should, under no circumstances, hire someone with a criminal record. I could ask applicants for this information, but chances were good they wouldn’t tell me the truth. Finding out if they had been incarcerated was complicated. It would take time and money—luxuries I didn’t have. 

Like other people in our situation, I posted ads for attendant care in a local newspaper. The responses were consistent: people with thick accents called and we struggled to communicate before eventually hanging up on one another; the relatives and friends of potential employees who were “too busy,” or whose English was “a little hard to understand” contacted me on their behalf and requested interviews. Face to face with potential candidates I’d demand to see green cards, student visas, and the likes, but everyone arrived empty-handed. No one I interviewed had a criminal record. When asked if they did drugs or had a drinking problem, everyone denied it. Yes, they smoked cigarettes, but they would go outside to do so. 

None of this worked out the way it was supposed to. I gave up looking for people who were U.S. citizens. I stopped searching for persons with green cards, temporary visas, or paperwork that had theirs or someone else’s name on it. I didn’t bother asking about past illegal behavior. I allowed people to smoke indoors, requesting only that they open a window before lighting up. 

I interviewed people from Ethiopia and Eritrea, Ecuador and East Oakland. I hired a woman from Brazil and when she left to become a nanny, I hired a man from England. I fired him for excessive drinking and replaced him with a guy from down the street. We learned that he had a penchant for borrowing money without asking first, but he possessed a strong back, a sense of humor, and he had nowhere else to go. Later, I hired a second man sight unseen who was still residing in his country of origin. Friends helped him navigate the red tape so that he could enter the United States. After his visa ran out, he stayed with us for several more years. 

Currently a woman lives with us who was born and raised in the United States. We don’t talk much about what she did before she became a member of our workforce. Another person sleeps on our downstairs couch and helps with Ralph’s care as needed. He’s from Central America. I’ve never seen his immigration papers, but he has shown me his rap sheet. I’m not sure if an illegal alien can have a criminal record and stay in this country, but I’m not asking. Until the health care system changes, Ralph and I will always have a need for “creative” labor tactics. 

I’m proud to say that in many ways we are equal opportunity employers. Give us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses and we will try to work it 

out.


Wildfire and Freeways: Why Did the Bobcat Cross the Road?

By Joe Eaton Special to the Planet
Tuesday May 09, 2006

I’ve seen only a handful of bobcats in my life, most of them in or around Point Reyes and the Marin Headlands. My one East Bay encounter was about a decade ago, while heading out to Briones Regional Park on a spring morning. The cat was crossing Bear Creek Road near the reservoir, not being in a particular hurry about it. The first reaction in such sightings tends to be “funny-looking dog,” and then you notice the pointed ears and the abbreviated tail. 

I thought about that bobcat recently when I read a commentary in Nature about a study that appeared in the journal Molecular Ecology. It was about the impact of the Ventura Freeway on the population genetics of mid-sized predatory mammals, specifically bobcats and coyotes. 

The Ventura, with 10 to 12 lanes and a daily load of 150,000 vehicles, is a much bigger deal than Bear Creek Road. It slices between the Santa Monica Mountains to the south and additional undisturbed (for now) habitat to the north. To some creatures, it’s a barrier as absolute as an ocean or a mountain range. To others, it’s more of a filter. The study in question, led by S. P. D. Riley, tried to quantify just how such a manmade filter works. 

Riley and colleagues spent seven years trapping bobcats and coyotes on both sides of the freeway, taking samples for genetic analysis, and rigging them with radio transmitters. Telemetry showed that there was some cross-road traffic: at some point during the study period, 11.5 percent of the bobcats and 4.5 percent of the coyotes crossed the freeway. That’s not a lot, but it might be enough to help maintain connectivity between the populations on either side and reduce inbreeding. 

But the genetic picture didn’t exactly mirror the crossing statistics. Looking at seven microsatellite loci—highly variable DNA markers that provide good clues to population structure—the authors saw significant differences between populations north and south of the Ventura for both bobcats and coyotes. Estimates of migration rates from genetic data alone were three to 18 times lower than estimates based on the radiotelemetry results. It looked as if both species were crossing the freeway but not sticking around to establish territories, mate, and rear offspring. They were tourists, not colonizers. 

Six of the 10 tagged bobcats that made the crossing returned to their point of origin, and neither of two females that settled in on the other side produced litters the next spring. Only one of five coyotes remained on the other side during the mating season. Mapping coyote and bobcat territories, the biologists discovered what they called a “home-range pile-up” effect. Territories didn’t straddle the freeway, and those that bordered it overlapped with territories farther away. So a young, ambitious bobcat venturing from south of the Ventura to the north side would find the suitable habitat filled up, and would be unable to stake out turf of its own, find a mate, and produce more bobcats. 

It’s not like the Ventura Freeway is the only constraint to the movement of bobcats and coyotes, of course. These creatures are effectively island dwellers, hemmed in by roads, houses, and malls. And as E. O. Wilson and Robert MacArthur proposed back in 1963 and Robert Soulé and other biologists have confirmed, island populations have trouble maintaining themselves without an inflow of immigrants. The smaller the “island”—whether surrounded by water or concrete—the greater the risk of inbreeding, depression, losses to disease or other stochastic factors, and eventual extinction. 

That’s the whole point of the Wildlands Project, still hanging in there although its estimable magazine Wild Earth folded last year, trying to bridge the isolated fragments of wildlife habitat so genes can still flow among the pieces of a metapopulation. Soulé and his partners in the project have grandiose visions about linking wolf populations from Maine to New Mexico. More pragmatically, they—and mainstream groups like The Nature Conservancy—have helped establish local landscape corridors all over North America, from the Boundary Waters to the Rio Grande Valley.  

No one was thinking about habitat connectivity when the Interstate Highway System was built, and the freeways aren’t coming down any time soon, regardless of the price of gas. But it’s possible to tinker with the system, add overcrossings and undercrossings that will allow animals to disperse and establish new territories. The scale will vary, of course, and a toad or snake crossing won’t look much like a bobcat or mountain lion corridor. 

It’s ironic that while environmental groups have been working to mitigate the consequences of our fragmentation of the landscape, the politicians are pushing for the biggest barrier yet, the Great Wall of Separation along the U.S.-Mexican border. What would keep out illegal immigrants would also affect endangered borderlands species like the jaguar, ocelot, and Sonoran pronghorn, dooming some populations to extinction. When you reckon up the cost of xenophobia, don’t forget the collateral damage to wildlife. Some things are even worse than freeways. 

 

 

Photograph Courtesy http://philip.greenspun.com  

A bobcat keeps a wary watch from its arboreal perch.?


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.?


Arts & Events

Arts Calendar

Tuesday May 09, 2006

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.  

THURSDAY, MAY 11 

EXHIBITIONS 

“Connection” works by artists from NIAD, Bonita House’s Creative Living Center, and Berkeley Mental Health. Reception at 5:30 p.m. at the NIAD Art Center, 551 23rd St., Richmond. Exhibition runs to June 9. 620-0290. www.niadart.org 

Paintings and Drawings by Laura Siegel Reception at 5 p.m. at the Giorgi Gallery, 2911 Claremont Ave. 848-1228.  

THEATER 

Shotgun Players “King Lear” opens at 8 p.m. at the Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby Ave. and runs Thurs.-Sun at 8 p.m. to June 18. Tickets are $15-$30, reservations suggested. 841-6500. www.shotgunplayers.org 

READINGS AND LECTURES 

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 

Cornelia Read introduces her debut novel “A Field of Darkness” at 7 p.m. at Cody’s Books on Fourth St. 559-9500. 

Seth Lloyd describes “Programming the Universe: A Quantum Computer Scientist Takes on the Cosmos” at 7:30 p.m. at Cody’s Books on Telegraph. 845-7852. www.codysbooks.com  

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

MUSIC AND DANCE 

UCSB Dance Company performs classic modern dance at 8 p.m. at Julia Morgan Center for the Arts, 2640 College Ave. Tickets are $12-$15. 925-798-1300. 

Voci Women’s Vocal Ensemble “Aphrodesia” at 7:30 p.m. at The Marsh, 2118 Allston Way. Tickets are $10-$25. 800-838-3006. 

Whit Smith’s Hot Jazz Caravan at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $18.50-$19.50. 548-1761. 

Steve Gannon’s Monday Blues at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $5. 841-JAZZ.  

Taarka, Crystal and the Wolves, Whoreigner at 9 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $7. 841-2082. 

Earthquake Weather, Tokyo Decadence at 8 p.m. at the Uptown Nightclub, 1928 Telegraph, Oakland. Cost is $5. 451-8100.  

Showtime @ 11 Hip Hop at 10 p.m. at the Ivy Room, 585 San Pablo Ave. at Solano. 524-9220. www.ivyroom.com 

FRIDAY, MAY 12 

THEATER 

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. Runs through May 27. 464-4468.  

Shotgun Players “King Lear” Thurs.-Sun. at 8 p.m. at the Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby Ave. to June 18. Tickets are $15-$30, reservations suggested. 841-6500. www.shotgunplayers.org 

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

EXHIBITIONS 

“Black Artists Expressions of Father” opens with a reception and artists talk at 6 p.m. at Richmond Main Street Intiative, 1101 Macdonald Ave., Richmond. Exhibition runs to July 28. 236-4049, 626-8703. 

READINGS AND LECTURES 

“The Elegant Gathering: Art, Politics, and Collecting in China” A conference on the collection of Chinese art with keynote address by Jonathan Hay, New York University on “The Effects of Imperial Collecting on the Transmission of Chinese Paintings” at 4:30 p.m. at UC Berkeley Art Museum, 2621 Durant Ave. http://ieas.berkeley.edu/events/elegantgathering 

James Howard Kunstler describes “The Long Emergency: Surviving the End of Oil, Climate Change, and Other Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-First Century” at 7:30 p.m. at Cody’s Books on Telegraph. 845-7852.  

MUSIC AND DANCE 

Natya Indian Dance, the art of storytelling through classical Indian dance at 1 p.m. at the Lakeview Branch of the Oakland Public Library, 550 El Embarcadero. 238-7344. 

Women’s Antique Vocal Ensemble at 8 p.m. at Lake Merritt United Methodist Church,1330 Lakeshore Ave., Oakland. Tickets are $5-$15. www.wavewomen.org 

Fred Frith in a benefit for the Community School of the East Bay at 7 and 9 p.m. at 215 Ridgeway off Piedmont Ave., Oakland. Donation $20. Reservations suggested. 923-0505. www.cseb.org  

The Sounds We Make with The Bananas, 1918, The Cars The Doors and others at 8 p.m. at 21 Grand, 416 25th St., Oakland. Cost is $5-$10. 444-7263. 

Sin Voz, Waiting in Vain, Weapons at 9 p.m. at Blakes on Telegraph. Cost is $8-$10. 848-0886. 

Doug Arrington & his Trio at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $7. 841-JAZZ.  

The KTO Project at 9:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $11-$13. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

With River and Philp Rodriguez, song-writing duo, at 8 p.m. at Caffe Trieste, 2500 San Pablo Ave. 548-5198.  

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

Peter Barshay Duo at 9 p.m. at Downtown. 649-3810.  

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

Blue Turtle Seduction, Al Howard at 9 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $8. 841-2082. www.starryploughpub.com 

Harold Ray, Rock ‘N’ Roll Adventure Kids at 8 p.m. at 924 Gilman St. Cost is $5. 525-9926. 

Ise Lyfe, Sol Rebelz, The Attic, hip hop, at 9:30 p.m. at Shattuck Down Low, 2284 Shattuck Ave. Cost is $5-$8. 548-1159.  

Vagabond Opera, CD release party, at 8:30 p.m. at Epic Arts, 1923 Ashby Ave. Cost is $5-$10. 644-2204.  

Sistas in the Pit, Coal Pitts Wash at 9 p.m. at the Uptown Nightclub, 1928 Telegraph, Oakland. Cost is $8. 451-8100.  

Eleven Eyes at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 848-8277. 

SATURDAY, MAY 13 

EXHIBITIONS 

“Modern Landscapes Plus” works by Barbara Bailey-Porter, Ron Mohoan, and John Crawford. Reception at 6:30 p.m. at Stone Gallery, 600 50th St., Oakland. 536-5600. 

READINGS AND LECTURES 

Power of The Spoken Word with performances, discussion and a documentary on the influence of Hip Hop at 2 p.m. at African Children’s Advanced Learning Center, 33rd St., corner of San Pablo, Oakland. Cost is $10. Nefertinaproductions@ 

yahoo.com 

“The Elegant Gathering: Art, Politics, and Collecting in China” Panel discussions from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at UC Berkeley Art Museum, 2621 Durant Ave. http://ieas.berkeley.edu/events/elegantgathering 

Youth Speaks Poets celebration and readings at 7 p.m. at Cody’s Books on Telegraph Ave. 845-7852.  

Miriam Engelberg describes “Cancer Made Me a Shallower Person: A Memoir in Comics” at 4 p.m. at Cody’s Books on Fourth St. 559-9500. 

MUSIC AND DANCE 

American Bach Soloists “St. Matthew Passion” at 7:30 p.m. at First Congregational Church, 2345 Channing Way. Tickets are $18-$40. 415-621-7900. www.americanbach.org 

San Francisco Early Music Society “Paris in the Spring” Songs of the 17th century French Court, at 8 p.m. at St. John’s Presbyterian Church, 2727 College Ave. at Garber. Tickets are $10-$25. 528-1725.  

The Sounds We Make with Up the Voltage, Abi Yoyos, Hey Girl at 3 p.m. at Rock, Paper, Scissors, 2278 Telegraph Ave., Oakland. Free. 238-9171. 

Praise ‘n’ Hip Hop at 3 and 7 p.m. at Black Repertory Theater, 3200 Aldeline St. Tickets are $15-$20. 384-4566. 

The Sounds We Make with Christopher Willits, Cenk Ergun, Wobbly and others at 8 p.m. at 21 Grand, 416 25th St., Oakland. Cost is $5-$10. 444-7263. 

Rhonda Benin & her Trio at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $10. 841-JAZZ. www.AnnasJazzIsland.com 

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

Dandara & band, Beto Guimarães, Bateria Lucha at 8 p.m. at The Beat at Eddie Brown Center for the Arts, 2560 9th St. Cost is $15-$20. 548-5348. www.the-beat.org 

Famous Last Words, Rick Didia and Nate Cooper at 7:30 p.m. at Nomad Cafe, 6500 Shattuck Ave. 595-5344.  

The Kathy Kallick Band at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $17.50-$18.50. 548-1761.  

Damond Moodie, Kiff at 9 p.m. at the Uptown Nightclub, 1928 Telegraph, Oakland. Cost is $8. 451-8100.  

Finless Brown, The Get Down, Vera Clique at 9 p.m. at Blakes on Telegraph. Cost is $8-$10. 848-0886.  

Kristen Strom, saxophonist, at 8 p.m. at the Jazzschool. Cost is $12-$18. 845-5373.  

Caroline Chung Duo at 9 p.m. at Downtown. 649-3810. 

Strange Angels, local blues veterans, at 8 p.m. at Spuds Pizza, 3290 Adeline St. Cost is $7-$10. 558-0881. 

Hollow Point Syndicate, Imagika at 9:30 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $5. 841-2082.  

StevenThe Jets at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 848-8277. 

Naked Aggression, Retching Red, Mouth Sewn Shut at 8 p.m. at 924 Gilman St. Cost is $6. 525-9926. 

SUNDAY, MAY 14 

CHILDREN 

Mary Miche Mother’s Day Concert at 3 p.m. at the Tilden Nature Center, Tilden Park. 525-2233. 

EXHIBITIONS 

“Now-Time Venezuela Part 2: Revolutionary Television in Catia” with selections from the community television station, opens at the Berkeley Art Museum, 2626 Bancroft Way, and runs through July 16. 642-0808. www.bampfa.berkeley.edu 

“Healing Waters” paintings by Judi Miller, glass sculpture by Carol Holmes, and “Katrina’s Children” art and poetry by gulf coast youth on display at the Community Art Gallery, Alta Bates Summit Medical Center, 2450 Ashby Ave. through July 5. 204-1667.  

READINGS AND LECTURES 

“Now-Time Venezuela Part 2: Revolutionary Television in Catia” Panel discussion on media activism at 2:30 p.m. at the Berkeley Art Museum, 2626 Bancroft Way. 642-0808.  

Poetry Flash with Deena Metzger and Jayne Lyn Stahl at 7:30 p.m. at Cody’s Books on Telegraph. Donation $2. 845-7852.  

Brian Keene and J.F. Gonzalez introduce their new horror novels at 3 p.m. at Cody’s Books. 845-7852.  

MUSIC AND DANCE 

St. Mark’s Choir and Orchestra celebrates Mozart’s 250th birthday at 10 a.m. at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, 2300 Bancroft Way at Ellwsorth. 845-0888. 

Pacific Boychoir Mother’s Day Concert at 2 p.m. at the Oakland Museum of California, 10th and Oak Sts. 238-2200. 

Crowden Music Center Faculty Concert at 4 p.m. at 1475 Rose St. at Sacramento. Cost is $12, free for children.  

Bella Musica “A Choral Menagerie” at 5 p.m. in the Chapel of Pacific School of Religion, 1798 Scenic Blvd., Suggested donation $10-$15. 525-5393. 

Giorgio Parolini, organist, at 6:10 p.m. at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, 2300 Bancroft Way at Ellsworth. 845-0888. 

College of Alameda Jazz Band performs a free jazz concert from 2 to 6 p.m at the Oakland Conservatory of Music, 1616 Franklin St., Oakland. Families welcome. 748-2213. 748-2312. 

Kathy Kallick Mother’s Day Concert at 1 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $7.50 children, $9.50 for adults. 548-1761. 

The Sounds We Make with Rose Melberg, Finchers, Nedelle and others at 3 p.m. at Rock, Paper, Scissors, 2278 Telegraph Ave., Oakland. Free. 238-9171. 

Jennifer Lee Trio at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $7. 841-JAZZ.  

Americana Unplugged with The Grizzley Peak Bluegrass Band at 5 p.m. at Jupiter. 655-5715. 

Homenagem Brasileira at 4:30 p.m. at the Jazzschool. Cost is $15-$18. 845-5373.  

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

The Sick, Troublemaker, GunPowder at 5 p.m. at 924 Gilman St. Cost is $5. 525-9926. 

MONDAY, MAY 15 

READINGS AND LECTURES 

David Korten talks about the consolidation of power in “The Great Turning” at 7:30 p.m. at First Congregational Church, 2501 Harrison St., Oakland. Tickets are $10-$13. 845-7852.  

Spuyten Duyvil Night with Tod Thilleman, Tsipi Keller and Dean Kostos at 7:30 p.m. at Moe’s Books, 2476 Telegraph Ave. 849-2087. 

Simon Schama reads from “Rough Crossings: Britain, The Slaves, and The American Revolution” at 7:30 p.m. at Cody’s Books on Telegraph. 845-7852.  

Poetry Express with Sonya Renne, 2004 slam national slam champion, at 7 p.m., at Priya Restaurant, 2072 San Pablo Ave. 644-3977. 

MUSIC AND DANCE 

Jazz at the Chimes with Oakland School of the Arts Big Band at 2 p.m. at Chapel of the Chimes, 4499 Piedmont Ave., Oakland. Donation $15. 228-3207. 

Zilberella Quartet at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $5. 841-JAZZ. www.AnnasJazzIsland.com 

Trovatore, traditional Italian music, at 7 p.m. at Caffe Trieste, 2500 San Pablo Ave. 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.?


Arts: Subterranean Shakespeare Takes on ‘Richard III’

By Ken Bulock Special to the Planet
Tuesday May 09, 2006

“Now is the Winter of our Discontent,” rings out offstage, as silent Lady Anne (Tiffany Harrison) has laid at the audience’s feet the first of many forlorn coats that signify their absent—and murdered—wearers, and Subterranean Shakespeare’s production of The Bard’s Richard III gets underway at the Berkeley Art Center. 

These memorials are placed, and the famous speech barely undertaken, when Edward IV (Mark Jordan) and his consort Elizabeth (Kerry Gudjohnsen) process through, with petite motorcade waves t o their subjects, wearing coronets that are more like garlands of gold filament . . . to be followed by Edward’s brother in the House of York, Richard of Gloucester (Charlie Goldenhawk Reaves), in black leather jacket, shades and earrings, trailing one foot behind in a soft shoe while the other leads in motorcycle boot, one hand in pocket as the other gesticulates, bemoaning “my own deformity” and that since he can’t be a lover, he “must prove a villain.” 

Moving in relentlessly jerky forward motion like some reptile, his bad foot dragging against his dogged forward progress, Richard in short order reveals his “subtle, false and treacherous” plans to slide into power on a slick of blood; eases his gentle and lucid brother the Duke of Clarence (Maureen-The resa Williams) into prison; negotiates with two thugs (Brian Levy and Edward Norton) to make sure Clarence will never re-emerge; buttonholes Hastings (Gary Dailey) as he’s sprung from slam and tossed his wallet; and seduces the contemptuous Lady Anne (“W onderful when devils tell the truth!” . . . “More wonderful when angels are angry!”) in a hot and twisted tête-à-tête that tests director Jeremy Cole’s mettle at blocking a nasty yet amorous duel for mastery of the other, with torrid results. 

When the so dden late winter of discontent is just over, it’s hard to imagine sitting still for the trap-door spider antics of Shakespeare’s great villain. But just a scene or two of this active, lucid show dispels any hesitation, and fascination with this Machiavell ian dastard’s steamroller approach to climbing to the top takes over. The audience visibly hangs on every sublime—if barbed—word. 

Entrance comes hard on exit as the scenes turn over quickly, yet the usual rush of insouciant “Shakespeare Festivalese” does n’t play a part in the salutary speed of the staging. There’s dynamics aplenty, especially in the quiet, agonizing moments when Clarence tells his portentious dream to his sympathetic jailer, Brakenbury (Mark Jordan again), and in his care falls asleep—on ly to wake to his brother’s hired assassins, who’ve barged in with forged warrant to disabuse him of his optimism, his reasonableness and his life. 

The cast of a dozen—also including Jean Forsman, Ryan Kasimir, Stuart Hall and Jack Halton—work together v ery well as a tight ensemble, most pulling double or triple duty in fleshing out multiple roles, major and minor. At the center, Charlie Goldenhawk Reaves plays Richard with a glint in his eye and explosions of wild laughter at his own bloody thoughts, as he pretends pious indifference to the proffered crown (flanked by two skittish churchmen) yet scoops it up after destroying the succession, trading leather jacket for white tie and black tails (though keeping shades and sheath knife for the coronation). Friend and foe alike are relieved of their jackets and hustled to their fates when they prove inconvenient, leaving the bereaved women—the former queens as well as Richard’s own mother—to curse the tyrant. Costumer Paula Gruber’s scheme of basic black, re lieved only by Queen Margaret (Jean Forsman) in a bloody red gown worthy of a Cassandra and Edward IV’s paisley dressing gown, as he hacks and coughs to death in a wheelchair before his stonyfaced yet fractious court, proves worthy to convey the somber ai r and monochrome life of courtly intrigue and suspicion. There’s no scenery; the cast is deployed skillfully up and down a narrow corridor between an audience on two sides, playing toe-to-toe with great aplomb. 

Towards the conclusion, when a kind of claustrophobic hysteria grips the plot in a melodramatic vise, the poor acoustics of the Art Center scatter the loud voices hurrying toward disaster. Sub Shakes is trying to raise funds to make a stage at the Unitarian Fellowship. It’s a worthy effort, as is shown by this solid show, featuring the Bay Area debut of an estimable director, excellent string shadings of tableaux and dialogue by violinist Hal Hughes. It offers a vision of civic disaster that asks, “Why should calamity be full of words?” It’s answered implicitly by that strange, crippled visionary of unlimited evil, when he replies to Elizabeth’s acid, “What can thou pray to swear by now?” with: “The time to come!” 

 

RICHARD III 

8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday through May 20 at Berkeley Art Center, 1275 Walnut St. (at Rose) in Live Oak Park. $12-$17.  

276-3871.  

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: 

After the Daily Planet went to press with last Friday’s review of Carol Reed’s classic film The Fallen Idol, we learned that Landmark Theaters had canceled its East Bay engagement. Though the film is not yet available on DVD, it is available on VHS. 


Wildfire and Freeways: Why Did the Bobcat Cross the Road?

By Joe Eaton Special to the Planet
Tuesday May 09, 2006

I’ve seen only a handful of bobcats in my life, most of them in or around Point Reyes and the Marin Headlands. My one East Bay encounter was about a decade ago, while heading out to Briones Regional Park on a spring morning. The cat was crossing Bear Creek Road near the reservoir, not being in a particular hurry about it. The first reaction in such sightings tends to be “funny-looking dog,” and then you notice the pointed ears and the abbreviated tail. 

I thought about that bobcat recently when I read a commentary in Nature about a study that appeared in the journal Molecular Ecology. It was about the impact of the Ventura Freeway on the population genetics of mid-sized predatory mammals, specifically bobcats and coyotes. 

The Ventura, with 10 to 12 lanes and a daily load of 150,000 vehicles, is a much bigger deal than Bear Creek Road. It slices between the Santa Monica Mountains to the south and additional undisturbed (for now) habitat to the north. To some creatures, it’s a barrier as absolute as an ocean or a mountain range. To others, it’s more of a filter. The study in question, led by S. P. D. Riley, tried to quantify just how such a manmade filter works. 

Riley and colleagues spent seven years trapping bobcats and coyotes on both sides of the freeway, taking samples for genetic analysis, and rigging them with radio transmitters. Telemetry showed that there was some cross-road traffic: at some point during the study period, 11.5 percent of the bobcats and 4.5 percent of the coyotes crossed the freeway. That’s not a lot, but it might be enough to help maintain connectivity between the populations on either side and reduce inbreeding. 

But the genetic picture didn’t exactly mirror the crossing statistics. Looking at seven microsatellite loci—highly variable DNA markers that provide good clues to population structure—the authors saw significant differences between populations north and south of the Ventura for both bobcats and coyotes. Estimates of migration rates from genetic data alone were three to 18 times lower than estimates based on the radiotelemetry results. It looked as if both species were crossing the freeway but not sticking around to establish territories, mate, and rear offspring. They were tourists, not colonizers. 

Six of the 10 tagged bobcats that made the crossing returned to their point of origin, and neither of two females that settled in on the other side produced litters the next spring. Only one of five coyotes remained on the other side during the mating season. Mapping coyote and bobcat territories, the biologists discovered what they called a “home-range pile-up” effect. Territories didn’t straddle the freeway, and those that bordered it overlapped with territories farther away. So a young, ambitious bobcat venturing from south of the Ventura to the north side would find the suitable habitat filled up, and would be unable to stake out turf of its own, find a mate, and produce more bobcats. 

It’s not like the Ventura Freeway is the only constraint to the movement of bobcats and coyotes, of course. These creatures are effectively island dwellers, hemmed in by roads, houses, and malls. And as E. O. Wilson and Robert MacArthur proposed back in 1963 and Robert Soulé and other biologists have confirmed, island populations have trouble maintaining themselves without an inflow of immigrants. The smaller the “island”—whether surrounded by water or concrete—the greater the risk of inbreeding, depression, losses to disease or other stochastic factors, and eventual extinction. 

That’s the whole point of the Wildlands Project, still hanging in there although its estimable magazine Wild Earth folded last year, trying to bridge the isolated fragments of wildlife habitat so genes can still flow among the pieces of a metapopulation. Soulé and his partners in the project have grandiose visions about linking wolf populations from Maine to New Mexico. More pragmatically, they—and mainstream groups like The Nature Conservancy—have helped establish local landscape corridors all over North America, from the Boundary Waters to the Rio Grande Valley.  

No one was thinking about habitat connectivity when the Interstate Highway System was built, and the freeways aren’t coming down any time soon, regardless of the price of gas. But it’s possible to tinker with the system, add overcrossings and undercrossings that will allow animals to disperse and establish new territories. The scale will vary, of course, and a toad or snake crossing won’t look much like a bobcat or mountain lion corridor. 

It’s ironic that while environmental groups have been working to mitigate the consequences of our fragmentation of the landscape, the politicians are pushing for the biggest barrier yet, the Great Wall of Separation along the U.S.-Mexican border. What would keep out illegal immigrants would also affect endangered borderlands species like the jaguar, ocelot, and Sonoran pronghorn, dooming some populations to extinction. When you reckon up the cost of xenophobia, don’t forget the collateral damage to wildlife. Some things are even worse than freeways. 

 

 

Photograph Courtesy http://philip.greenspun.com  

A bobcat keeps a wary watch from its arboreal perch.?


Berkeley This Week

Tuesday May 09, 2006

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. 

Civil Liberties Film Series with “Beyond the Patriot Act” and speaker Jeff Mittman at 7 p.m. in the Madeline Whittlesey Community Room, Richmond Public Library, 325 Civic Center Plaza. 620-6555. 

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  

“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. 

Lonely Planet Travel Series with Andrew Nystrom on Mexico at 6 p.m. at Oakland Public Library, 124 14th St. 238-3136. 

Poetry Writing 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. 

FRIDAY, MAY 12 

Resource Fair for Blind and Low Vision People Learn about the agencies and services available and the latest in vision products, from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the West Berkeley Senior Center, 1900 Sixth St. Lunch served, with reservations 981-5180.  

City Commons Club Noon Luncheon with Daniel Strohl on “The Potomac: FDR’s Yacht” 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.  

Early Childhood Safety: Water Safety Information about baby pools, water buckets, scalding, and bathtub safety at 11 a.m. at Habitot, 2065 Kittredge St. Cost is $5-$6. 647-1111. 

Womensong Circle, participatory singing group for women at 6:45 p.m. at First Congrega- 

tional Church of Berkeley, 2345 Channing Way, at Dana. Lyrics provided. Suggested donation $15-$20. 525-7082. 

John Lennon Educational Tour Bus with state-of-the-art mobile recording and multimedia studios will let visitors write an original song, perform and record it, videotape it, and go home with a completed music video. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Bay Street in Emeryville. www.lennonbus.org 

“Berkeley’s Movers and Shakers” a celebration of Berkeley’s past, present and future community at 6 p.m. at the Hillside Club. 

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

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. 548-6310, 845-1143. 

Kol Hadash Family Pot Luck Humanistic Shabbat Celebration at 6 p.m. at the Albany Senior Center, 846 Masonic Ave. RSVP with food choice to info@kolhadash.org 

SATURDAY, MAY 13 

The Garden Conservancy’s National Open Days Visit eight private gardens in Berkeley, Oakland, and Richmond, as part of The Garden Conservancy’s National Open Days Program. Berkeley locations include: 3017 Wheeler St., 2810 Webster St., and 620 Spruce St., open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission to each garden is $5. 888-842-2442. www.gardenconservancy.org 

Mini-Farmers in Tilden A farm exploration program, from 10 to 11 a.m. for ages 4-6 years, accompanied by an adult. We will explore the Little Farm, care for animals, do crafts and farm chores. Wear boots and dress to get dirty! Fee is $6-$8. Registration required. 636-1684. 

Walking Tour of Old Oakland around Preservation Park to see Victorian architecture. Meet at 10 a.m. in front of Preservation Park at 13th St. and MLK, Jr. Way. Tour lasts 90 minutes. Reservations can be made by calling 238-3234. www.oaklandnet.com/walkingtours 

Emergency Preparedness Class on Basic Personal Prepar- 

edness from 10 a.m. to noon at 997 Cedar St. Also from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Free, but registration required. 981-5506. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/fire/oes 

Vegetarian Cooking Class on Thai and Southeast Asian Cuisine from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at First Unitarian Church of Oakland, 685 14th St. Cost is $45. 531-2665. www.compassionatecooks.com 

Sign up for Summer Youth Programs from noon to 5 p.m. at the Calvin Simmons Middle School Playground, 2101 35th Ave. in East Oakland. Choices include education programs as well as Skateboarding, Breaking, Basketball and Capoeria. 625-9940. 

Early Childhood Safety: Free Child Car Seat Check from 10 a.m. until noon at the UC Garage on Addison at Oxford. 647-1111. 

Cardweaving and Kumihimo Demonstration of two “Narrow Weave” techniques at 3 p.m. at the Lacis Museum of Lace and Textiles, 2982 Adeline St. Free. 843-7290. 

East Bay Atheists “Science and Scientists in Ancient Greece and Rome” with Richard Carrier at 2 p.m. at Berkeley Public Library, 2090 Kittredge St. 222-7580.  

“The Power of Nightmares” Part III, a new documentary by BBC journalists on the “War on Terrorism” at 3 p.m. at Humanist Hall, 390 27st., Oakland. Cost is $10. Benefits Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club.  

“Democracy: Can We Keep It? Only if we work at it!!” with Lee Sanders, Field Organizer for Common Cause and General Counsel, Citizens for Civic Justice, at 7 p.m. at the Home of Truth Center, 1300 Grand Street, Alameda. Sponsored by the Alameda Public Affairs Forum. www.alamedaforum.org 

Power of The Spoken Word with performances, discussion and a documentary on the influence of Hip Hop at 2 p.m. at African Children’s Advanced Learning Center, 33rd St., corner of San Pablo, Oakland. Cost is $10. Nefertinaproductions@ 

yahoo.com 

Annual Gigantic Friends of the Albany Library Book Sale, 1247 Marin Ave., Sat. from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sun. from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. All proceeds benefit the programs and services of the Albany Library. 526-3720, ext. 5.  

“Women on the Move: From Vision to Action” all-day conference and interactive workshops for women at the Oakland Marriot Convention Center. Tickets are $65-$75. 654-7557. 

Blue Hydrangea Tea Party to benefit the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition at 3 p.m. at L’Amyx Tea Bar, 4179 Piedmont Ave., Oakland. Cost is $75, all proceeds benefit NOCC. For reservations call 593-8896. 

“Everyday Green” at talk by author Annie Somerville, executive chef of Greens Restaurant, at 1 p.m. at Elephant Pharmacy, 1607 Shattuck Ave. 549-9200. 

The Great War Society meets to discuss “The Military History of J. Giles Farquhar” at 10:30 a.m. at 640 Arlington Ave. 527-7118. 

“Smart Ideas for Sage Eating” at 10 a.m. at Elephant Pharmacy, 1607 Shattuck Ave. 549-9200. 

Romance Writers of America “Undressing Your Hero & Heroine” A workshop with Tonda Fuller at 10 a.m. at Pyramid Restaurant. Cost is $30. Reservations required. www.sfarwa.com 

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 14 

Mother’s Day Morning Walk along the Bay Trail at Pt. Isabel with a stop at the Rosie the Riveter National Museum, from 9 a.m. to noon. Meet at Ryden Road entrance before Costco. For information call 525-2233. 

Mother’s Day Breakast on board The Red Oak Victory ship, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., includes a tour of the ship. Cost is $6, children under 5 free. Located at Berth #6, 1337 Canal Blvd., Richmond, off Hwy 580. 237-2933. 

Mothers Say “No” to War A walk, picnic and short program with Alameda Peace Network. Meet at 1 p.m. at Alameda City Hall, Santa Clara and Oak, to walk to Jackson Park. 

Spring Rhododendron Tour from 10 a.m. to noon at UC Botanical Garden, 200 Centennial Drive. Cost is $8-$12. Registration required. 643-2755. 

Green Sunday; Venezuela’s New Democracy with Laura Wells, Green Party candidate for State Controller who has done political research in Venezuela, at 5 p.m. at the Niebyl-Proctor Library, 6501 Telegraph Ave. at 65th in Oakland.  

People Radio Public Meeting to discuss the upcoming KPFA elections at 2 p.m. at Berkeley Unitarian Universalist Hall at Cedar and Bonita.  

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

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 Santosh Philip on “Tibetan Yoga for Stress Reduction” at 6 p.m. at the Tibetan Nyingma Institute, 1815 Highland Pl. 843-6812. www.nyingmainstitute.com 

MONDAY, MAY 15 

Rally Against Military Recruiting at 4 p.m. at Oakland City Center, 12th and Broadway. March to the recruiting center at 5 p.m. For information see www.objector.org 

“The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community” with author David Korten, with Joanna Macy, Maryam Roberts, Alli Chagi-Starr, and Xiomara Castro, poetry by Shailja Patel, at 7:30 p.m. at the First Congregational Church of Oakland, 2501 Harrison, at 27th St., Oakland. Cost is $10-$12. Benefits Global Exchange. Tickets at independent bookstores or by calling 415-255-7296, ext. 200.  

Story Tells, a story telling swap with guest teller Mary J. Kelly at 7 p.m. at Barnes & Noble Events Loft at Jack London Square. 238-8585. 

Swing Into Spring benefit for Central Works Theater with music and food at 6:30 p.m. at Downtown Restaurant. Tickets are $85 and up. For reservations call 558-1381.  

Lead-Safe Painting & Remodeling Free introductory class to learn about lead safe renovations for your older home, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the West Oakland Branch Library 1801 Adeline St. Offered by Alameda County Lead Poisoning Prevention Program. 567-8280. www.ACLPPP.org 

“How to Expand Your Mind- Body Connection” by creating soothing living spaces, at 5:30 p.m. in the Rose Room at Mercy Retirement Center, 3431 Foothill Blvd., Oakland. Cost is $30 or $120 for the entire series. 534-8547, ext. 666. 

Breathexperience?Classes “Oh, My Aching Back!” 12-1 p.m., $10; “Restoring Viitality” 5:30-6:45 p.m., $10; “The Experience of Breath” 7-8:15 p.m., $12, at MIBE, 830 Bancroft Way, #104. 981-1710. 

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. 

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.  

CITY MEETINGS 

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.


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