Full Text

Students in La Raza gathered Saturday at St. Joseph the Worker Church for a graduation ceremony. Photograph by Suzanne La Barre
Students in La Raza gathered Saturday at St. Joseph the Worker Church for a graduation ceremony. Photograph by Suzanne La Barre
 

News

Graduation for the Class of 2006 Marked By Many Ceremonies

By Suzanne La Barre
Tuesday June 20, 2006

About 700 students graduated from Berkeley’s high schools Friday. 

Families and friends gathered at the Greek Theater that evening to watch students from Berkeley High School, the Berkeley Alternative School and Independent Study receive high school diplomas. 

Additional ceremonies for Communication Arts and Sciences (CAS) and Community Partnerships Academy (CPA), small schools within the larger high school, were held earlier in the month. 

Three cultural graduations on separate days also took place, including a celebration at St. Joseph the Worker on Saturday (pictured above) for the school’s La Raza group. 

This is the first year public school students were required to pass an exit exam to graduate from high school. Between 20 and 30 students in the Berkeley Unified School District did not receive a diploma because they have not passed the exam, according to the district. 

Seniors who met all other graduation requirements but did not pass the exam were still allowed to walk the stage Friday and have additional opportunities to pass the test. 


‘Curvy Derby’ Plan Enters Street Debate

By Suzanne La Barre
Tuesday June 20, 2006

A group of neighbors is proposing a new plan for the East Campus/ Derby Street field that just might find stalwarts on either side of the “Close Derby-Leave Derby Open” debate standing well in agreement. 

Members of the East Campus Neighborhood Association (ECNA) have drafted a blueprint for the vacant South Berkeley playing field, which would allow a regulation-sized baseball diamond to coexist with an open Derby Street. The potential closure of Derby—hitherto deemed a necessity to accommodate a standard baseball field for the Berkeley High School baseball team—has been an ongoing source of contentiousness in the city, pitting the BHS athletics community against neighbors and other stakeholders.  

The new proposal for East Campus, a Berkeley Unified School District-owned expanse bounded by Martin Luther King Jr. Way and Ward, Carleton and Milvia streets, would involve reconfiguring Derby to form an arc half way up the block to Milvia. A corner of the baseball diamond would fit squarely in that curvature. 

The plan, aptly dubbed “Curvy Derby,” would feature a discrete, multi-use playing field, a basketball court and most notably, proponents say, Derby stays open. Derby hosts a weekly farmers’ market often billed as a cultural asset to the neighborhood.  

“The problem needed a solution and it wasn’t getting anywhere,” said Susi Marzuola, an ECNA member and architect by profession. She forged the plan with a handful of others. “It’s an evolution from the [closed-street] plan and a good one.” 

To achieve the configuration, Carleton would have to be narrowed to 28 feet, Marzuola said, such that one side loses on-street parking. To compensate, Milvia will hold about 20 spaces, and the neighborhood will not suffer any net loss of on-street parking, she said. 

The concept has earned the tentative backing of both School Board President Terry Doran and Director John Selawsky, typically opponents on the East Campus issue.  

“I think it has possibilities,” said Selawsky. 

In a phone interview Friday, Doran said, “I’m so impressed. I want to thank the neighbors for coming up with a very creative plan that looks like it meets everyone’s needs.” 

Doran is a longstanding supporter of building a regulation-sized diamond for the BHS baseball team, which currently practices at San Pablo Park, a site that is not within walking distance from Berkeley High. 

Men’s baseball team coach Tim Moellering has also expressed support for the Curvy Derby proposal. “It looks pretty good to me,” he said. 

Because the decision to close Derby would ultimately fall to the City Council, city officials are additionally weighing in on the new plan. City Councilmember Max Anderson of District 3, said Friday, “It looks like it has some real promise, and it’s certainly worth exploring.” 

Curvy Derby represents a compromise for East Campus neighbors, Marzuola said; it must therefore be considered in conjunction with a series of requests. Among them: that a community design process take place, that the farmers’ market be allowed to operate on Derby and that BUSD make restrooms available to the farmers’ market. 

“For us to support this plan, these conditions have to be not only considered, but enforced,” she said.  

In February and May, the Board of Education agreed to allocate funding for an environmental impact report to analyze the effects of a closed- and an open-street plan. ECNA members hope the new proposal gets thrown into the mix. Since the plan is in its infancy, ECNA is asking the school district to hold community meetings that would permit a full, public vetting process.  

“The intent initially from the community is that it be a starting place,” said Pam Webster, an East Campus neighbor and volunteer at the Berkeley Alternative High School, which stands directly adjacent to the site. “We don’t expect it to be an end-all.” 

At a two-by-two meeting between the school district and the City Council last Tuesday, Mayor Tom Bates commended the proposal and exacted pressure on BUSD to take it into consideration. 

“It looks like it has a lot of elements that are very positive,” he said. “We encourage the district to put this on the table.”


Medical Center Budget Problems Prompt Calls For Oversight

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Tuesday June 20, 2006

Health care advocates and labor leaders stepped up their pressure on Alameda County supervisors this week to help the Alameda County Medical Center close a $4.8 million budget gap by asking the county to cut loan interest and rent payments owed by the medical center. 

Final adoption of the 2006-07 county budget is scheduled for Friday. The medical center board of trustees is scheduled to review the 2006-07 medical center budget next Tuesday. 

At Monday’s Board of Supervisors hearings on the Alameda County budget, SEIU Local 250 representative Charlie Ridgell accused supervisors of operating a “three-card monte” game over health care Measure A monies, saying that the medical center “would not have a deficit except for its $200 million debt to the county, and that debt only came up for discussion after the passage of Measure A.” 

Measure A was a supplemental health care package passed by Alameda County voters in March of 2004. 

Ridgell charged supervisors that because the language of Measure A did not allow the county to dip directly into the measure’s funds. “You invented a reason to take that money away anyhow,” he said. 

Seventy-five percent of the Measure A’s sales tax money earmarked to supplement the budget of the Alameda County Medical Center and the other 25 percent going to local health care clinics and other supplemental health care services. Measure A sales tax revenues have been running above budgeted expectations, with the county received $95.8 million in Measure A monies in fiscal year 2004-05 and another $74.2 million as of the first eight months of fiscal year 2005-06.  

In a letter sent to Board of Supervisors President Carson prior to Monday’s hearing, SEIU Local 616 Executive Director Fran Jefferson asked supervisors to “forgive $6.6 million in ACMC interest payments to the county” and “$1.5 million in ACMC rent payments to the county for the Eastmont, Winton, and Newark health clinics.” Jefferson said that such a forgiveness of the debt and rental payments “should result in no impact on the county’s operating budget.” 

County staff members said that rental payment to the county for the use of the health care clinics was included in the original agreement with the medical center, and that the county must make the rental payments themselves to the owners of the clinics’ property. 

Board of Supervisors President Keith Carson prefaced the public comment period of the hearing by citing a list of past financial obligations that he said had been transferred from the medical center to other county departments. But giving indications that he might not support the proposed interest payment and rent payment forgiveness, Carson said that the past debt transfer process between the county and the medical center was “merely robbing Peter to pay Paul.” 

Carson also said that Medical Center CEO Wright Lassiter has pledged to cut the remaining $4.8 million medical center deficit, and said that he while he expected Lassiter to follow through with that commitment, he said he would also introduce backup measures to supervisors this week to close the center’s funding gap in the event Lassiter cannot make the necessary cuts. 

“County government is the safety net for citizen health care,” Carson said. 

But Vote Health chair Kay Eisenhower urged supervisors to come up with the deficit money without asking the center to do so, saying that the medical center is proposing cutting 100 additional staff positions on top of another hundred layoffs already in the works, a process she said would severely hurt the medical center. 

“There’s very little that Lassiter can do but more layoffs,” Eisenhower said, adding that it was “particularly distressing that most of the [medical center’s] budget problems comes from debt to the county,” which she said came from periods when federal or state funds to the medical center were late, and the county had to make payments for the center. 

Eisenhower called it “galling that the county is asking for interest on this debt,” and said that when county agencies such as the sheriff’s department come up short, “the county comes up with money for the department but doesn’t call that a loan to be paid back.” 

Eisenhower said that was a “backdoor way of getting Measure A funds.”  

She said that the issue of the medical center debt to the county came up during discussions of the “blue ribbon task force convened by Supervisors Nate Miley and Gale Steele” that eventually led to the writing of the ballot language that became Measure A. 

“When I first looked at the language that was in the measure, I asked the county counsel if the measure as it was then written would allow the county to get its dibs on the health care bond money even before it went to the medical center,” Eisenhower said. “Supervisor Steele said that wasn’t the intention of the measure, but the county counsel told me that yes, the language would allow that, and so that language was taken out of the measure before it actually went before the voters.” 


Kerry Surveys Berkeley Fire Station

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Tuesday June 20, 2006

Sen. John Kerry dropped by Berkeley Fire Department Station No. 2 on Friday to talk to firefighters. The senator stopped by the Berkeley Way station after visiting Google headquarters in Mountain View on his way to San Francisco. 

“John Kerry is a big fan of firefighters and he often pays them a visit,” said Gil Dong, Berkeley’s assistant fire chief. “When he ran for president, the firefighters were one of the first to endorse him.”  

The Berkeley Fire Department has recently received four federal grants totaling $1.3 million, including one from FEMA, an accomplishment which Berkeley Deputy Fire Chief David Orth pointed out to Kerry. 

Kerry has been an advocate for firefighers and has pushed for better funding to upgrade equipment in departments around the country. He said that half the firefighters don’t have the radios they need to communicate in a crisis. 

The senator asked whether the department had a communication system integrated with the Berkeley Police Department and other government offices. Dong replied that such a system was expensive and would require additional funds. 

“We have been working with the UC engineering department to work on government shortfalls and build better equipment,” Dong said. 

Kerry spent about 30 minutes chatting with the firefighters, asking about their duties and operations. He observed demonstrations of a breathing apparatus and an auto ejector. 

“Berkeley has a fine Fire Department and it’s very well equipped,” Kerry said. “The spirit is just great. However, there is immediate need to speed up certain technology such as the integrated comm system which would help firefighters in more ways than one during disaster.” 

Asked about his current work, the senator said he has been keeping busy and has been working with more than 150 Democratic Senate candidates. “I am hopeful about Pennsylvania, Montana and Missouri,” he said. 

Asked whether he was planning to run for president again, Kerry said, “I am thinking about it. Let’s see how 2006 goes.” 

 

Photograph by Riya Bhattacharjee


Nexus Evictions, LPO Revisions, Fee Hikes on Council Agenda

By Judith Scherr
Tuesday June 20, 2006

As the Berkeley City Council heads down the final stretch toward its mid-July summer recess, it will face a packed agenda that will include a discussion of possible eviction of the artists from the Nexus Workshop.  

Citing a law that says if West Berkeley artist workspace is taken out of use, it must be replaced, the Civic Arts Commission is asking the City Council to step in and help delay the eviction of some 25 artists from the 2700 block of 8th Street that has served artists since 1973.  

The Berkeley Humane Society owns the property and wants to sell it. It threatened to evict the tenants June 1, but has not yet done so. 

“It’s private property,” said Councilmember Darryl Moore, who represents the area. The best the city can do is help the artists negotiate with the landlords, he said. 

“They have the right of first refusal [to purchase the property] but they don’t seem to have the resources,” he said.  

“Nexus is ... theoretically ... protected by the arts and crafts ordinance and the protective zoning that requires comparable replacement space for arts and crafts uses elsewhere in West Berkeley if those uses are removed from their existing location,” artist Bob Brokl wrote in a letter published June 9 in the Daily Planet. 

However, a staff report written by Thomas Myers, acting manager of economic development, also says the city cannot intervene. In response to the Civic Arts Commission request, Myers recommends “the council take no action regarding private disputes between a landlord and tenants.” 

The staff report concludes that it “cannot force the Berkeley Humane Society to sell the property to Nexus or any other buyer as that is the right of the owner.” 

 

Landmarks ordinance 

The council will also be asked to approve new “compromise” revisions to the 30-year-old Landmarks Preservation Ordinance. Copies of the draft ordinance—which staff is still reviewing—were issued around 5:30 p.m. Friday by Mayor Tom Bates’ office to those who requested the ordinance. To receive an ordinance by e-mail, call Bates’ office at 981-7100. 

When reached by the Daily Planet Sunday evening, Landmarks Preservation Commissioner Lesley Emmington had yet to study the draft revision. Emmington supports the November ballot measure that would preserve the ordinance almost as it is now written with minor updates. 

The present ordinance “embraces the diversity of the neighborhoods,” Emmington said, explaining that she fears changes will make it easier to remodel or demolish historic buildings without first having gone through a thorough public process.  

Bates’ draft ordinance tightens timelines for review of structures believed to have historic significance, something which Emmington fears might hurt citizen participation in the review process. 

If the council gives its approval to the draft ordinance, it will go back to the Landmarks Preservation Commission for more discussion and to the State Historic Preservation Office for review. Bates’ report says the ordinance will come back to the council in July for approval. 

 

Fee Hikes? 

The council will hold a public hearing and then vote on hiking residential sewer fees 3 percent for residential uses, 1 percent for commercial and 3.5 percent for public agencies. 

The council will also hold a public hearing and then vote on a fee increase of 8 percent for trash pickup services. 

 

On the Ballot? 

The City Council will vote on whether to put four proposed measures on the November ballot. (It costs the city about $10,000 for each measure it places on the ballot). The measures would: 

• increase to the parcel tax to fund the warm pool for the disabled and elderly at Berkeley High on the November ballot or fund it another way, according to the proposal by Councilmember Dona Spring. 

• allow 17-year-olds in Berkeley vote for school board members. This measure supported by the Youth Commission would be a survey, rather than a mandate, given that state law prohibits people under 18 from voting. 

• amend the Berkeley Waterfront Plan so that public and commercial recreation sports facilities can be built, thus permitting construction of the Gilman Street Playing Fields at the foot of Gilman Street within the 16 acres belonging to the East Bay Regional Parks District without going through a public hearing process. 

• ask the council to “support aggressive efforts to reduce climate changing green house gas emissions.” 

 

State Bill on Sweeping Citations 

From time to time the council takes positions on bills before the state legislature. Because it will increase the costs of the city’s street sweeper program, the city manager is asking the council to oppose SB 1404, which says that if an individual whose street has not been swept receives a parking citation, that person can contest it. 

“The city of Berkeley already mandates that parking enforcement officers stay at maximum one block ahead of street sweepers to ensure that if the street is not swept, no citations are issued,” a city manager’s report says. 

 

Other items 

The council will also hear an appeal of a May 11 Zoning Adjustments Board decision granting a permit for a carbon adsorption system to reduce odors at Pacific Steel Casting’s Plant No. 3 near Camellia and Second streets in West Berkeley. 

The installation of the filtration system is one of a number of requirements the Bay Area Air Quality Management District imposed on PSC to reduce air quality problems. L.A. Wood is appealing ZAB’s approval, alleging that the ZAB meeting was not held according to open meeting requirements and that the BAAQMD does not have the experience to choose a filtration system for this plant. 

The council will also discuss the back yard and side yard parking ordinance.


Council Set to Hear Public on Budget Wishes

By Judith Scherr
Tuesday June 20, 2006

While the City Council will hold a public hearing on the budget tonight (Tuesday), only a fraction of Berkeley’s $300 million budget is actually in question. 

Most of the budget is comprised of fixed costs: parks, police, fire, the planning department, the housing authority and more. These are ongoing costs that rise according to the cost of living and labor negotiations. 

There is about $4.4 million available for one-time expenditures, according to Budget Manager Tracy Vesely. The councilmembers have referred about three dozen budget items to a list they would like to see funded with that money.  

Funds available come mostly from more revenue than anticipated from real estate transfer taxes, the sale of property on Sixth Street and other property-related revenue, according to Vesely. 

If the council approves an increase in parking meter fees from 75 cents per hour to $1 an hour, as the city manager has recommended, that will add about $400,000 to the funds available to the council. (The funds will add up to about $800-$1 million per year, but it would take six months to get the meters recalibrated, Vesely said.) 

Meanwhile, the eight councilmembers, mayor and the public are likely to have a wide range of opinions on how to spend the available funds. 

Councilmember Darryl Moore said he wants to spend money on “those things that serve our young people.” He has recommended a $50,000 expenditure on the Berkeley Boosters/Police Activities League.  

Also, fixing storm drains is a priority, Moore said. In his budget recommendations, the city manager has called for a one-time expenditure of $2.5 million for storm drains above the budgeted annual expenditure of about $3 million.  

And Moore wants to see the planning process on San Pablo Avenue expedited. That would take hiring a senior planner at a cost of about $100,000. The planner would work on Telegraph Avenue area, San Pablo Avenue and other projects. 

Moore said some of the funds required for one-time projects might come from the reserve. The city has 11 percent of its general fund in reserve, he said. “It may be we’re talking about some of that.”  

Vesely, however, said the city manager was considering keeping a higher percentage of the budget in reserve. The amount on hand (actually 7 percent liquid reserve) would fund the city after a disaster like Katrina for one month only, she said. 

Councilmember Gordon Wozniak said he had the impression that the city manager had already allocated funds for one-time expenditures. If funds become available from the parking meters, however, he, like Moore, would like to see the Berkeley Boosters funded. 

“I’m worried about crime—they do great things with kids,” he said. 

And, Wozniak said he’d like to see the fire department funded. It would cost $900,000 to end the rotation of “brown-outs,” where stations close (maximum one per day) to save money on overtime. “Even raising the parking-meter rate would fund only part of it,” he said. 

While much attention has been paid to funding Telegraph Avenue improvements—Councilmember Kriss Worthington is calling for restoring funding at least to the programs that were cut on Telegraph Avenue, including two bicycle police officers and a mental health team ($324,000)—Councilmember Dona Spring is asking for some of the same attention to the downtown area. She wants a mobile crisis team for Telegraph and for downtown. 

“Both suffer from some of the same problems,” she said. 

Spring is also calling for $1 million to be spent for affordable housing, especially for low and very-low income people.  

At tonight’s public hearing, citizens are likely to line up to lobby council for dozens of worthy projects. 

“The system encourages people to ask for more than there is,” Wozniak said. “We have to make a realistic assessment. What will get funded will need five votes.”


ZAB to Hold Public Hearing on 700 University Ave. Project

By Suzanne La Barre
Tuesday June 20, 2006

The Zoning Adjustments Board is set to consider a mixed-use development project on the two-acre site at 700 University Ave. Thursday. 

The project would involve the construction of two residential structures, complete with retail space and parking, and would include the restoration of a historic railroad station. Two existing buildings which house Brennan’s Irish Pub and Celia’s Restaurant would be demolished, and Brennan’s 

could relocate to the train station. On Thursday, the public is invited to comment on a draft environmental impact report (DEIR) for the development. 

The proposed project would be bounded by Addison and Fourth streets and the Union Pacific Railroad to the west. Surrounding land uses include a parking lot, offices, a sake factory, a discount grocery store and a yet-to-be-complete mixed-use project. The vacant historic train station building, the Southern Pacific Railroad Station, was most recently Xanadu Restaurant. 

The larger of the two proposed edifices, the North Building, would feature 60 dwelling units, 7,335 square feet of retail space and a 19,385-square-foot parking garage and would stand 55-feet high. The area is zoned such that buildings over 50 feet must obtain a variance. 

The smaller South Building would feature 113 units, a 1,720-square-foot fitness and leasing area, and below-grade parking. It would stand 45 feet tall. 

Units would be “for sale” condominiums with either one bedroom or two bedrooms.  

Daniel Deibel of the Urban Housing Group, a San Mateo company that specializes in infill apartment housing communities, is the developer for 700 University Ave. He could not be reached for comment by press time. 

According to the DEIR, the project would cause significant and unavoidable impacts, namely, that traffic at two key intersections would increase. Other potential impacts on air and water quality, noise and transportation could occur. 

Some residents have expressed additional concerns. 

“I think it should be smaller,” said Stephanie Manning, who lives a block from the proposed development. “It’s just too big for this neighborhood.” 

Manning is also concerned about parking. Though the project meets the city’s standards for the amount of parking developers must provide per residential unit, Manning thinks it doesn’t suffice. “It’s already very difficult to park,” she said. 

For Berkeley resident Gale Garcia, one of the project’s greatest drawbacks is that it spells the end for the Brennan’s and Celia’s structures, built in 1959 and 1946 respectively. Last year, Garcia unsuccessfully attempted to secure landmark status for each building. (The Landmarks Preservation Commission designated Celia’s a structure of merit, but the City Council later countermanded that decision.)  

“They’re our meeting places, they’re locally owned small businesses,” Garcia said. “They have history and people care about them.”  

Some have called into question the assumption that Brennan’s will relocate to the railroad station, as the DEIR indicates it will. Margaret Wade, daughter of founder John Brennan, was reached at the restaurant Monday, but refused to comment. 

The review period for the DEIR ends June 26. 

Also on the ZAB agenda Thursday are two other University Avenue projects:  

• The board will continue a hearing on 1865 University Ave., where Toyota of Berkeley hopes to operate an automobile sales and service facility. 

• The board will take public comment on a mixed-use development proposal at 1885 University Ave., which includes retail space for a Trader Joe’s, 148 residential units and a two-level parking garage. 

The Zoning Adjustments Board meets Thursday at 7 p.m., in City Council Chambers, at 2134 Martin Luther King Jr. Way.


People’s Park Activists Sue City Over Freebox Removal

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Tuesday June 20, 2006

People’s Park freebox users have filed a suit against the City of Berkeley for not holding to its 1994 agreement with UC Berkeley, which stated that a freebox, in which people put clothing and other items for others to pick up, must remain in People’s Park. 

Over the last few months, advocates of the freebox have been trying to reconstruct the box at People’s Park despite repeated efforts by UC Berkeley to remove the box. The park currently does not have any kind of freebox. 

The plaintiffs in the case are People’s Park activists Dan McMullan and Michael Diehl and all users of the freebox, who charge the city with not trying to force the university to restore the freebox. 

The mayor’s office declined comment on the suit. 

McMullan, who is also associated with the Disabled People Outside Project, said that the absence of the freebox from the park was causing problems for the homeless who depend on it for their survival everyday. 

“The box wasn’t doing anybody any harm,” he said. “We are people who depend on it for clothes and so much more. Everytime we want to build a new one, UC takes it away. It’s very frustrating. The box has been on the park premises forever.” 

Diehl, who works at the Berkeley Free Clinic, agreed. 

“The UCB police tell us that it’s been done to curb drug and alcohol dealing but the fact of the matter is that all these activities go on anyway,” he said. “The whole situation has actually gotten worse since the box was taken down. Right now there is even some talk of cutting down the trees in the park.” 

According to Diehl, the city had been asked through numerous letters to enforce the 1994 agreement with UC but had not received any kind of response, prompting them to file a lawsuit on June 9 at the Oakland Superior Court.


Landmarks Commission to Discuss Mayor’s Revisions

By Richard Brenneman
Tuesday June 20, 2006

Members of the Landmarks Preservation Commission will meet Thursday to discuss changes proposed for the city’s Landmarks Preservation Ordinance (LPO). 

Mayor Tom Bates and Councilmember Laurie Capitelli have proposed revisions to the LPO, measures strongly backed by developers and opposed by preservationists. 

Changes to the law require a review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), which mandates an analysis of impacts to a wide range of factors, including cultural resources. 

The mitigated negative declaration prepared by city planning staff found the proposed revisions would have minimal impact on the city’s historical character—a claim strongly dispute by several LPO members. 

Thursday’s meeting was called to give the commissioners time to comment on the proposal within the time window mandated by CEQA. 

Their comments must be addressed in the final environmental document. 

The mayor’s proposal, which would come in the form of a council action, could be trumped by a November ballot initiative drafted by supporters of the current ordinance. 

That measure would keep the provisions of the existing law, while making timing fixes required by the state Permit Streamlining Act. 

The need for changes prompted a rewrite of the ordinance by LPO members, while the Planning Commission undertook their own rewrite. 

The mayor’s measure significantly changes the ordinance, and would add considerably to the commission’s workload—a move some members claim would undermine the commission’s mandate to preserve the city’s historical features. 

Supporters turned in an estimated 3,200 signatures on petitions to send their initiative to the November ballot. They needed only 2,007. 

If voters approve that measure, it would take precedence over any revisions imposed by City Council action. 

Thursday night’s meeting was called as an unusual second monthly meeting by the LPC because of the full agenda at their regular meeting June 1. 

The session begins at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the North Berkeley Senior Center, 1901 Hearst Ave. at Martin Luther King Jr. Way. 

 

New member  

Thursday’s meeting will be the first for the commission’s newest member Miriam Ng, a principal in the real estate company Korman & Ng. 

Ng has been a prominent figure in city affairs; she served two terms as president of the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce and currently serves on the boards of the California Association of Realtors, Aurora Theatre Company and the Berkeley Public Library Foundation. 

“I had served together with Miriam on the Housing Advisory Committee,” Moore said. During a recent conversation, Moore said, “I happened to tell her I was looking for someone to serve on the landmarks commission, and she said she had a working relationship with several of the commissioners.” 

Ng replaces Moore’s first appointee Ted Gartner, who resigned several months ago.


BUSD School Lunch Initiative up for Evaluation

By Suzanne La Barre
Tuesday June 20, 2006

Berkeley’s School Lunch Initiative has attracted a big helping of publicity in recent days, including a feature in the San Francisco Chronicle’s Food section and a spread in Time Magazine. Now, it is garnering the attention of the research world.  

On Wednesday, the Berkeley Board of Education will decide whether to allow three organizations to formally evaluate the initiative, a districtwide effort that attempts to improve the health and well- being of Berkeley’s public school students by placing food at the fore of the classroom. Students learn about where food comes from and are actively engaged in producing what they consume. 

The program is a partnership of the Chez Panisse Foundation and the Berkeley Unified School District (BUSD) in collaboration with the Center for Ecoliteracy and Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute (CHORI). 

The center and the research institute, in addition to the UC Berkeley Center for Weight and Health, and the UC Berkeley Institute for the Study of Social Change will take up different areas of research with relation to the initiative. Each is expected to publish findings.  

“I think it is the next logical step,” said school board director John Selawsky, whose work on the board has focused heavily on student nutrition. “I think it’s very exciting.” 

The Center for Weight and Health will look at the initiative’s impact on students’ knowledge, behavior and attitudes on health and nutrition. The study will evaluate fourth- and fifth-graders over three years, and will involve site visits and interviews with food service staff, teachers and parents. Reporting is anticipated by 2010. 

The Institute for the Study of Social Change, which examines issues surrounding race, ethnicity, class and gender, will hone in on social relationships and contexts as they relate to eating habits. Groups of middle school students and their families are slated for study, with a report expected by 2009.  

CHORI, a biomedical research institute, in conjunction with the Center for Ecoliteracy, will analyze students’ physical and metabolic characteristics as they relate to the program. Results may be released as soon as the fall of 2007. 

Data from the California Fitness Test revealed that about a third of BUSD students were overweight in 2003-2004, and a UC study found that the district’s 11- to 15-year-olds were eating only about half the recommended amount of produce. 

The school lunch initative, which counts edible gardens and kitchen classrooms as central components, was implemented in 2004 under the auspices of Alice Waters of Chez Panisse fame. 

Also Wednesday, the Berkeley Board of Education is expected to: 

• vote on a resolution calling for a school parcel tax measure to be placed before voters this November. Berkeley Schools Excellence Project of 2006, as it will be called, is expected to supply the district with about $19.6 million a year for 10 years to maintain small class sizes, arts programs and fund professional development. Directors approved the formal language of the measure at their last regularly scheduled meeting. 

• discuss the district’s 2006-2007 preliminary budget. 

• hear a request to negotiate contracts with the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers Local 21, which represents the district’s technical staff. 

• vote to increase the price of student meals by 50 cents, bumping up the cost of dining on campus to $3 for elementary school students, $3.50 for middle school students and $4 for high schoolers. This will be the first hike in student meal prices in more than 10 years. 

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


Campaign Commission Looks at Public Financing

By Judith Scherr
Tuesday June 20, 2006

Depite a warning from the city attorney that her office hasn’t time to prepare a ballot measure on publicly financing local elections, the Fair Campaign Practices Commission will meet Thursday to discuss putting the measure on the ballot. 

The meeting is at 7:30 p.m. at the North Berkeley Senior Center, 1901 Hearst Ave. 

The City Council voted to charge the FCPC with reviewing the measure, but the city attorney discouraged the commission from meeting in a special session earlier this month to do so. 

Supporters say if the city attorney hasn’t time to write the measure, the city can get outside lawyers to do it. The measure must go to council for approval before being placed on the ballot. 

 


Shattuck Cinemas Employees to Cast Votes

Judith Scherr
Friday June 16, 2006
Workers at Shattuck Cinemas rally in support of unionization outside the theater Wednesday.
              Photo by: Judith Scherr
Workers at Shattuck Cinemas rally in support of unionization outside the theater Wednesday. Photo by: Judith Scherr

Standing on the bed of a blue pick-up truck, draped with a red Industrial Workers of the World banner and energized by guitar and fiddle music, Shattuck Cinemas workers and their supporters addressed working conditions at the theater Wednesday.  

The rally outside the downtown theater on Shattuck Avenue near Kittredge Street was a prelude to the National Labor Relations Board-sponsored union election scheduled at the theater today (Friday). 

“They need to treat us with respect,” Ryan Hatt told the crowd that grew to around 50 listeners. “There are no benefits, unless you count free movies and popcorn. People working [at the Shattuck] for over six years get $8.05 cents an hour. What we’re fighting for is a voice.” 

The Shattuck Cinemas is owned by Los Angeles-based Landmark Theaters, which did not return calls before deadline. 

Hatt has worked at the theater for nine months. In addition to a lack of health benefits, he said he does not get scheduled breaks and there is no procedure to address managers about complaints. 

“There are no sick days, no holidays and no overtime,” he said. 

Hatt works for $7.25 an hour. Workers are scheduled for reviews and raises at three months, six months and a year on the job, he said. But Hatt said he has yet to be reviewed.  

“I got a three cents an hour raise,” he said. “It’s an insult.”  

The workers say they are sure they’ll get a union, but that’s just the beginning.  

“I worry about how long they will draw out the contract,” said Sharon Shatterly, a worker recently transferred to the Shattuck Cinemas after the closing of the Act1 and 2 Landmarks Theater on Center Street.  

Organizer Hajit Singh Gill says workers at the only other unionized Landmarks Theater, in Cambridge, Mass., have been bargaining since July when they won their union and are still without a contract. 

IWW—better known as the Wobblies—has organized other workers in Berkeley, including the Ecology Center’s curbside recyclers and workers at Stone Mountain and Daughter Fabric.


Parents Press BUSD, City To Curb Teen Violence

Suzanne La Barre
Friday June 16, 2006

 

 

Late to a school dance one evening in March, a Berkeley High School sophomore rounded the corner of Shattuck Avenue at Allston Way, in front of Ross Dress for Less, where a group of eight to 10 teenage boys were idling about. The street was otherwise sparsely peopled, though not empty. As he passed, one of the boys called out, “Hey! Let’s get you.” The student recognized a member of the group from tryouts for a sports team. He thought little of the comment and moved along. 

Moments later, someone grabbed his shirt collar. As he turned, slightly stunned, a clenched fist plummeted headlong into his face. 

He sustained two fractures to the jaw and spent six weeks with his mouth wired shut. 

Police officers chased after the suspects, the student said, but never made an arrest. Incidentally, a similar crime occurred minutes earlier, a couple of sources say: Same culprits, same neighborhood, different injury. That victim, an adult, suffered a cracked orbital. 

Random acts of violence, where teens are the perpetrators and often the victims, have attracted growing visibility in recent weeks, as parents have increasingly demanded accountability for the attacks their children endure. 

At a joint meeting of the city and the school district Tuesday, parents of young victims spoke out. The parents of the aforementioned teen, whose name the Daily Planet is withholding to protect him from possible retribution, described his assault in vivid detail. Another parent recounted how her son was attacked after school by a group of four teens with designs on his iPod. In a phone interview later that day, a parent revealed that her daughter was smacked in the face while waiting in line for a college counselor because she told a male student to “watch out” when he bumped into her. The student, she later found out, did not attend Berkeley High. 

Other concerned parents at Tuesday’s meeting said they feel threats to their children’s safety persist. 

“It’s getting worse, not better,” said Tina Bury, who plans to send her daughter to Berkeley High next year. “It’s getting out of control and we can’t do anything about it. I don’t [want to] believe that, but that looks like how it’s going.” 

In 2005, the Berkeley Police Department made 35 youth arrests for simple assault, 34 for robberies and 15 for aggravated assault. Certain hotspots, like downtown Berkeley near the high school, and a section of South Berkeley, laid claim to higher concentrations of arrests. It is unclear how many of the perpetrators were from Berkeley and how many were from Oakland or elsewhere. Data for the current year is unavailable. 

Overall, though, juvenile crime in Berkeley has waned, said Youth Services Det. Sergeant Dave White, although he does not have current statistics. Schools superintendent Michele Lawrence says disturbances have decreased in the school district, however, on Tuesday, she too was unable to produce data. 

On campus, Principal Jim Slemp says incidents have gone down by 200 percent in the last two-and-a-half years. 

When a handful of parents met with Slemp to express their concerns over the assault in March, they earned a lukewarm reception, at best, they said.  

He was unwilling to acknowledge that there is a violence problem, said Ying Fei Wei, whose son attends Berkeley High. “I didn’t feel he was very supportive,” she said. “He was very defensive.” 

Slemp said he bristled because the parents had outlandish ideas for preventing attacks. But other parents have made similar complaints. The parent whose daughter was slapped by a non-Berkeley High student said her daughter saw the assailant on campus after the attack, complained to administrators and was ignored. 

“When my daughter saw him, she was afraid and didn’t want to go to school,” the parent said. “We got no response from [the administration and security]. We were just blown off.” 

“What we’re hearing from families is kids are afraid to leave school,” said Julie Sinai, senior aide to Mayor Tom Bates. Sinai’s work focuses on youths and families.. “That may not be evident in arrest data, but it’s there in dialogue.” 

The attack on the Berkeley High student in front of Ross a few months ago is one of three similar incidents currently under investigation. It mirrors a series of assaults that occurred in 2003, when a group of kids were arbitrarily assaulting other teens as a point of initiation, White said.  

“They would find some unsuspecting kid and assault him, push him, kick him and do a pocket check,” where they would inspect for money or other valuables, said White. Those attacks went on for an extended period of time, but eventually officers targeted the ringleader and the pack dissolved.  

Soon after one group disbands, though, another one crops up, White said. The kids are different and they hang out in different places, but the delinquent behavior is the same. 

Discussions about such assaults often invoke the question of race. A few parents, like Laura Menard, whose son was attacked several years ago, believe that black-on-white violence is a significant problem in Berkeley. The student attacked in March thinks the assault was racially charged. He is white. The assailants were black. 

The police department does not have statistics available on the race of youth offenders and victims. However, a general study conducted by the Bureau of Justice Statistics found that violence within races is much more common than it is between races. Berkeley High School senior Jennifer Purdy agreed: “Mostly I see black on black” violence, she said. 

Sinai said that white victims might simply be more inclined to report incidents. 

“Many of the white families there [at Tuesday’s meeting] were talking about black-on-white violence, but issues of safety cross all ethnic lines,” she said, pointing out that when assaults occur, white families may e-mail around, contact the press and lobby public officials. Comparable incidents could be equally prevalent in the Latino community, but families may choose to not go public, she said. 

Which points up the further issue of underreporting. An article in the May issue of the BHS Newsletter, a publication of the Parent Teacher Student Association, said just two of six recent attacks on teens were reported to the police because the families feared retaliation. Most of the parents interviewed for this Daily Planet article asked to not have their names printed for the same reason.  

“One of the things that’s difficult to overcome is this culture of silence,” said Police Chief Doug Hambleton on Tuesday. “A lot of these kids probably know who the perpetrator is, but they don’t say anything. If someone gets assaulted and doesn’t tell us who did it, there isn’t much we can do.” 

The police department is in the process of increasing efforts to curb youth violence, said Hambleton. The department deploys all its bike cops to Berkeley High at peak times and increasingly officers coordinate with Health and Human Services to get help for young criminals. Berkeley High has also beefed up security, with eight campus guards and regularly locked doors to keep unwanted visitors away.  

Retiring Berkeley High School teacher Rick Ayers agrees the threat of random violence should not loom over students’ lives—his own child was beat up at Berkeley High in 2003—but he does not believe ramping up police and security is the best emollient. Creating small communities within the school, where young people form relationships with adults, is a better solution, he said.  

“I know it’s safer when kids are in a community,” he said. 

Terry Doran, president of the Berkeley Board of Education, said the board is doing its part to discipline offenders by approving more suspensions and expulsions. “Even one incident is terrible,” he said. “We do have a zero tolerance policy in the schools.”


City Council Approves West Berkeley Bowl

Judith Scherr
Friday June 16, 2006

 

 

Questions of traffic tie-ups and union-busting did not stop the City Council from giving the green light to the West Berkeley Bowl early Wednesday morning, a project which supporters say will bring affordable fresh produce and vitality to an oft-neglected area of the city. 

After hearing from some 70 members of the public, divided between those calling for approval and others demanding significant changes in the plans, a motion by Councilmember Dona Spring to delay the vote one week so that the question of unionization could be resolved failed 4-4-1, with Councilmembers Laurie Capitelli, Betty Olds, Gordon Wozniak and Mayor Tom Bates in opposition and Councilmember Darryl Moore abstaining. 

The 12:15 a.m., 6-0-3 vote to approve the Bowl—with Councilmembers Max Anderson, Dona Spring and Kriss Worthington abstaining—included the use permit, zoning changes and approval of the environmental report that describes impacts on the project area and mandates improvements where possible. 

“How many trees died from this four-year process,” said Moore who represents the area, pointing to 3,000-pages of documents stacked before him. “We’re not talking about Safeway or Albertsons, but a homegrown grocery store.” 

 

Neighbors support, criticize 

Many supporters of the project—estimated to be up and running in two or two-and-a-half years—live just blocks from the Ninth Street and Heinz Avenue site. 

Laura Coates is among them. “There are 13 families with children on the block—everyone on the block is in support,” she told the council. 

Representing the 66th Street neighborhood group, Roxanne Schwartz, added her support. Christine Staples, another nearby resident, put it this way: “The corner liquor store doesn’t carry organic milk.”  

Another neighbor, Natalie Studer, a nutritionist, based her support on access to healthy food. “The Berkeley Bowl is a public health issue,” she said. 

Some neighbors, however, expressed ambivalence and others, outright hostility. 

A group from the Potter Creek Neighborhood Association and the French-American School had proposed a traffic plan to keep Bowl traffic out of their neighborhood. The developer has agreed to put $20,000 into the project, but city planners said they do not want to plan traffic mitigations until the store has been running for six months, so they can address real rather than assumed traffic problems. Moreover, planning staff said they fear the Potter Creek plan would send traffic to other neighborhoods. 

Barbara and David Bowman have lived in the neighborhood since 1977. “I’m thrilled to have Berkeley Bowl come to the neighborhood,” Barbara Bowman told the council, but added: “Protect our neighborhood.” 

And Maurice Levitch who works at 10th Street and Heinz argued that “waiting until the store’s up to fix traffic is too late.” 

 

Union question 

The union issue caused a number of councilmembers and the public to raise questions, even among the project’s strong supporters. While Dan Rush of the United Food & Commercial Workers Butchers’ Union Local 120 called for a card check vote—where employees simply turn in cards for or against unionization—Bowl owner Glenn Yasuda said he wants a National Labor Relations Board-run election. Rush characterized that process as having “no appeal and no protections.”  

Pointing to the union vote at the Oregon Street Berkeley Bowl in 2003 where the NLRB determined that owners had retaliated against union organizers, Rush said, “The Bowl has proven the need to scrutinize (it).”  

Calling himself a red-diaper baby and speaking in favor of the store, Gene Agress, one of the founders of Berkeley Mills on Seventh Street, argued, “It’s not my business to tell the Berkeley Bowl how to work things out with the union.” 

But others said it is the city’s business. Jane Welford contended that zoning approvals—the area had to be rezoned commercial so that a grocery store could be sited there—should be tied to the company approval of a union card-check election. Councilmember Dona Spring also hoped to use the permit process to compel the Bowl to accept a card check. 

But City Attorney Manuela Albuquerque argued that linking zoning to unionization is illegal. 

Many of those speaking against the project size—55,000 square feet of groceries, 29,000 square feet of storage and 4,000 square feet of office space—were nearby business owners who fear being overrun by Berkeley Bowl traffic. Rick Kelley, Ashby Lumber general manager, said the project’s traffic analysis “began at the Berkeley border” and didn’t take into consideration cumulative impacts of other nearby projects. 

Kelley and others argued, moreover, that traffic planners ignored evidence that the Bowl would be a regional draw and not simply serve the immediate neighborhood. 

Pointing to the 27 businesses opposing the size of the project, mayoral candidate Zelda Bronstein called on the council to “hold off (on the vote) and ask staff to do an economic impact analysis.”  

While supporters lauded the Bowl for its unique array of produce, several said they feared a Walmart or Target could come in, if the Bowl were to pull out of the project.  

“We need to be sure it stays a grocery store in perpetuity,” said Rick Auerbach, a Grayson Street business owner and resident. 

It was with that in mind that Councilmember Laurie Capitelli tacked an amendment on to the final vote, which would tie the use-permit to “a very carefully defined grocery store,” with the Bowl’s large area of fresh produce and fish. Another operator would have to get a new use permit, Capitelli said.


OUSD Choose New York Developer for Property Sale Talks

J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Friday June 16, 2006

 

The state-operated Oakland Unified School District announced this week that a black-owned, New York-based real estate company has been chosen to negotiate with for the potential sale of the OUSD Administration Building and some 8.25 acres of prime Lake Merritt area property. 

But the real power behind the deal may be an old school New York real estate and investment firm with a $4 billion portfolio and ownership of exclusive Park Avenue office buildings. 

In a Wednesday press announcement, OUSD Public Information Officer Alex Katz said that a Letter of Intent has been signed with TerraMark/Urban America Team, giving that company the first rights to negotiate for the purchase or lease of the OUSD properties, which include the administration building and several schools. 

The text of the Letter of Intent and TerraMark/Urban America Team’s proposal for the OUSD Lake Merritt properties has not yet been released by the district. 

UrbanAmerica was founded in 1998 by Richmond McCoy, the son of a Harlem landlord. According to a recent Time Magazine profile, McCoy initially founded the McCoy Realty Group, which Time said “had become the largest real estate management firm controlled by an African American, [with a] Park Avenue headquarters in Manhattan [that] catered to Wall Street bigs.” Time said that involvement with helping churches develop property in poor neighborhoods led McCoy to the development of UrbanAmerica, which the magazine called “the first real estate investment company to focus on distressed urban areas.” 

In 2000, UrbanAmerica spent $19.5 million purchasing the Eastover Shopping Center in the Washington D.C. suburbs, its largest acquisition. 

But last year, McCoy launched a second venture, UrbanAmerica II, with what the Forbes/Slatin Real Estate Report last year called “a powerful partner in hand: Fisher Brothers, a multi-billion-dollar New York-based family development and ownership organization” founded in 1915. 

Forbes/Slatin article said that “McCoy isn’t shy about leveraging his new partner [Fisher Brothers]’ name and reputation to the max … He takes pains to stress that Fisher is involved as a ‘significant owner of the general partnership. This is not a strategic partnership or joint venture,’ he declares, adding that Fisher has pledged to invest up to 10 percent with the limited partners in any development undertaken by the fund.” 

The UrbanAmerica II partnership is targeting development projects in Daytona Beach, Florida and Kansas City, Missouri, where McCoy’s original UrbanAmerica already has investments, as well as northern and southern California, Phoenix, and parts of Texas.  

Meanwhile, after keeping the public in the dark for more than a year while negotiations went on with developers over the original RFP, state and local officials have now pledged to open the process to the public. 

State Senator Don Perata (D-Oakland), whose SB39 bill in 2003 is the foundation for the state takeover of the Oakland Unified School District that has led—directly or indirectly—to the proposed sale of the Lake Merritt area properties,this week released the text of a letter to State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell, in which Perata asked O’Connell to hold public hearings on the proposed sale. 

“[I]t is important that appropriate public review and comment precede final decision on the sale. It is imperative that local residents—particularly parents —are shown how the sale might affect the primary mission of the district,” Perata wrote. “For example, one board member has questioned in the media the wisdom of selling this administration complex, intimating that it would force the district to convert existing school sites as replacement facilities. Concerns like these can be allayed by a public presentation by the state administrator at a public hearing held before any formal sale negotiations commence.”  

In the release announcing the selection of TerraMark/Urban America Team, Katz said that “plans for three public hearings [on the proposed sale]—in July, August and September—are well underway.” 

In his letter to O’Connell, Perata said that an amendment was placed in SB39 allowing the use of the sale or lease of the property to pay back the state loan to the Oakland Unified School District “at the district’s request.” Perata, however, did not identify which OUSD officials made the request to put the provision in state law allowing the sale proceeds to go toward the loan repayment or when that request was made.  

The Oakland Unified School District has been run by the state of California since 2003, since it was forced to accept a $100 million line of credit from the state to stave off bankruptcy. Of that line of credit, $65 million has actually been loaned to the district, with another $7 million in loans pending. There is speculation that money from the proposed sale of the Lake Merritt area properties could be used to help pay off the state loan, but it is unclear whether a significant paydown of the loan would lead directly to a return to local control of the schools. 


Police Chief Details City Crime Trends

Judith Scherr
Friday June 16, 2006

 

 

Reducing crime, particularly property crime, was addressed by Police Chief Doug Hambleton at a 5 p.m. council workshop Tuesday. 

“The overall crime rate has been declining in Berkeley over the past several years,” consistent with other Bay Area cities, the chief reported in his report to the council.  

Auto thefts, however are increasing, with 1,189 in 2004 and 1,266 in 2005. This year, the trend looks like it may be easing up with 340 auto thefts during the first quarter of this year, compared to 364 during the first quarter of last year.  

“We recover 93 percent of the autos that were stolen,” the chief said. Most are recovered without significant damage. “Most are stolen for transportation, not to be stripped down,” he said. 

The chief noted that the department has purchased 1,000 steering-wheel locks to give away to residents, especially owners of older Toyotas and Hondas, to help deter thefts. Hambleton said he does not yet have a distribution plan. 

The police force has been reduced by 13 officers over the last two years, Hambleton noted. However, the department is increasing its presence on Telegraph Avenue by paying officers overtime. (Councilmember Kriss Worthington noted, however, that with the increase of policing on Telegraph, there has been an increase in complaints of drug trafficking on Regent Street.) 

People can help deter auto break-ins by locking cars and keeping inviting-looking objects out of sight. The department will be doing a public information campaign on crime deterrence for new students in August-September. 

While the chief said he would like additional officers, “I’m also in favor of more tutors and recreation leaders. We have to take a holistic approach,” he said


Lawsuit Threat Targets Limits on Public Speakers at City Meetings

Judith Scherr
Friday June 16, 2006

 

 

The woman grabs the arm extending from the cylindrical drum and rotates it three times causing several dozen cards within it to fly. She stops the motion, opens the device and reaches for one card, then another. When 10 are picked, the City Clerk reads the names inscribed on each. 

The 10 chosen at council meetings, up until recently, earned the exclusive right to address the mayor and council in public. 

But SuperBOLD (Berkelyans Organizing for Library Defense) says that system of choosing speakers limits free speech. The group threatened to sue both the city and the library, whose trustees also choose speakers by lottery.  

“A combination of public criticism and the threatened lawsuit has certainly forced the City Council to think about the issue a lot more,” said Councilmember Kriss Worthington. 

The council addressed the issue in closed session Monday, the irony of which was not lost on Worthington. 

“It’s funny we’re talking about this in executive session,” he said in an interview before the Monday session. “It’s much healthier if the actual analysis of public comment could be made in public.” 

It looks like a public airing will happen. In an interview Tuesday, Mayor Tom Bates said he would place a discussion on the subject on the June 27 council agenda. 

“It’s important to have a public discussion” on the question, Bates said.  

Meanwhile, he added, “I’ll be exercising more latitude.” 

In fact, at the Tuesday evening City Council meeting Bates had the City Clerk call 15 people to speak for two minutes each, rather than 10 people for three minutes each, then asked others in the public to speak if the issue they had come for had not been addressed. 

And Library Trustee Ying Lee said, with new library leadership—the library director who acts as secretary to the trustees has been replaced—new systems are likely to be instituted. 

Sophia Cope, attorney with the First Amendment Project, representing SuperBOLD in the threatened lawsuit, addressed the question of the lottery in an April 19 letter to the city attorney: “The public comment lottery system improperly denies willing speakers the right to address the council and board at public meetings and it improperly prevents certain agenda items from receiving public comment.”  

“There are lots of people who want to speak, but don’t get to,” said Gene Bernardi, a founding member of SuperBOLD and a regular attendee at both council and library meetings. 

But in a May 11 letter to Cope, City Attorney Manuela Albuquerque countered that Berkeley already provides sufficient avenues for public input. 

“Berkeley City Councils have, for many years, with little fanfare, used a variety of mechanisms to ensure and maximize public input,” she wrote, citing “over 40 boards and commissions with citizen commissioners [that] preside over a lively and robust public debate and discourse on a gamut of public policy issues.”  

The public can submit comments to the council by letter or the Internet and the council holds public hearings both required and not required by law in which every member of the public can speak, the city attorney said. 

“Thus it appears that the council already receives extensive public comment both orally and in writing on subjects both on its agenda and within its jurisdiction, much of which is cumulative and repetitive from one meeting to the next and which often overlaps with public hearings on the subject,” Albuquerque wrote. 

Bates said that one concern, when considering various scenarios for increasing public comment, is council gridlock caused by permitting too many speakers. But Bernardi said there are ways to avoid that, such as the council holding additional public hearings on days it has no scheduled meeting. 

“Democracy is not an easy thing,” Bernardi commented. 

According to Cope, the bottom line is that the city and library must make changes “or we’ll put (the lawsuit) in front of a judge.”


Planning Commission Rejects Transportation Fee Program

Suzanne La Barre
Friday June 16, 2006

 

In an about-face Wednesday, the Planning Commission suspended its support of a Transportation Services Fee (TSF) program, and recommended that the City Council follow suit.  

Commissioners voted 5-4 in favor of a motion urging the City Council to reject the program, which would charge developers for projects that would impact the city’s vehicular traffic. Those fees would go toward alternative transportation programs and projects. 

Commissioner Harry Pollack, who made the motion, identified Berkeley’s economic downturn as a rationale for rejecting the program, saying extra costs could motivate developers to take their business elsewhere. 

“Now is not the time to impose a fee like this,” he said. 

Commissioners Susan Wengraf, Jordan deStaebler, James Samuels and Larry Gurley agreed. Commissioners David Stoloff, Helen Burke, Mike Sheen and Gene Poschman dissented. 

In November, the commission expressed theoretical support for the program but quibbled with details of the proposed fee schedule. City staff from the transportation, planning and economic development departments compromised on a revised proposal that decreases fees overall, differentiates between new and change-of-use development, and reduces the fees for “priority uses” or projects that various city plans deem crucial to Berkeley’s economic well-being. 

The monies collected through the program would support marketing and incentive campaigns to encourage alternative forms of transportation, transit service and signage improvements, and bicycle and pedestrian facilities. 

But on Wednesday, a procession of public comment from members of the business and development community swayed several commissioners to rethink the program altogether. 

The Telegraph Business Improvement District opposes the fees “in totality,” said Executive Director Roland Peterson, dropping the “C” word (Cody’s, the popular Telegraph Avenue bookstore slated to close in July) as evidence for why the city must do everything in its power to spur, not deter, economic development. 

Developer Patrick Kennedy concurred. 

“The regulatory thicket one has to go through for a small business or office is far worse now than it’s ever been,” he said. “I would like to exhort the Planning Commission to not think of yet another regulation, but think what can you prune to revitalize districts.” 

Representatives from the Downtown Berkeley Association and the West Berkeley Business Association, the vice president of the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce and others also lambasted the program. 

According to Dave Fogarty, the city’s community economic development project coordinator, retail sales in the city of Berkeley have dropped significantly. In 2005, the city brought in about $12.8 million in sales tax revenue. In 2000, that figure was closer to $14 million—or more than $15 million when adjusted for inflation, Fogarty said.  

Commissioner Burke pointed out that the city’s economy spiraled downward without the help of the TSF program. “The economic situation is somewhat independent of having a fee,” she said. 

Commissioner Stoloff called Pollack’s motion “embarrassing,” and floated an alternative that would initiate the program only if sales tax dips below a threshold and certain exemptions are granted (to change-of-use projects, for example). That motion failed. 

Public supporters of the TSF program were notably absent from Wednesday’s meetings. One commissioner ventured the guess that they’re saving their ammunition for City Council meetings, where the final decision will be cast. The council is expected to weigh in on the fee program July 11.


Berkeley’s 20th Annual Juneteenth Celebration Sunday

Riya Bhattacharjee
Friday June 16, 2006

 

 

Music, food, and blessings will mark the 20th anniversary of Berkeley’s Juneteenth festival on Sunday—reputed to be the longest running in Northern California. 

According to Sam Dyke, organizer and chair of the Merchants Association of Adeline and Alcatraz, the celebration of Juneteenth in Berkeley has a life of its own, which evolves with every passing year.  

“Community played a very important role in the success of the last 19 celebrations,” he said. “Every year city officials, corporations, community groups, businesses, churches, media representatives, educators, artists, and others contribute time and money which results in the conglomeration of a wide section of the Bay Area community in the celebration of a major African American cultural event.” 

Juneteenth, the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the end of slavery in the United States, has its roots in Galveston, Texas, where it was observed as the African American Emancipation Day on June 19, 1865.  

Today the festival has spread across the country, crossing borders, ethnicities, colors and calling for the end of bigotry, hatred and racism among nationalities. 

“It is on this day that we think about the time when those enslaved in Galveston received news about their freedom. We can only guess their emotions, their jubilant dances at being free again, at embarking on an adventure into the unknown,” said Dyke. 

Last year the Juneteenth festival attracted a crowd of more than 10,000, and has established itself as a local tradition over the years. The festival is also celebrated in other countries, including Ghana, Israel, France and England. 

Since Juneteenth falls during summer, it is considered an ideal time to have a barbecue, roast corn-on-the-cob and throw a yard sale. The event also provides an opportunity to listen to music. This Sunday, the festivities are scheduled to take place from 10 a.m to 5 p.m. near the Black Repertory Theatre on Adeline and Alcatraz streets and will include drummers, the singing of the Negro National Anthem, a performance by the Grass Roots Jazz Band, Ricardo Scales, Kito Gamble and Faye Carol. 

For Children, there will be hands on art activities, face painting and a storytelling session by Griot-Tureeda Mikell. A two-on-two basketball tournament is also scheduled for the day. 

For more information, seewww.juneteenth.com or call 655-8008. 

 

 

 


City Says Neighborhood Wishing Well Must Go

Riya Bhattacharjee
Friday June 16, 2006

 

 

It has stood on a block on Channing Way for most of the last four decades doing what wishing wells do best—making wishes of those in need come true.  

Local legend has it the free box began in the charming tree-lined neighborhood of Channing Way during the ‘60s to keep alive the spirit of love and sharing, a receptacle for collecting clothes and other things that their owners have outgrown but might find use somewhere else. 

The City of Berkeley however views the wishing well as an encroachment according to the city’s encroachment ordinance and as a “non-commercial decorative installation.” 

In a May 16 letter to Ratzlesnatch Co-operative, in front of whose property the disputed structure is located, City Manager Phil Kamlarz wrote that the co-op could apply for an encroachment permit, but added that such a request would be denied, and therefore it needed to be removed or relocated within 30 days. 

Councilmember Dona Spring, in whose district the well is located, said that Kamlarz had informed her that the matter was now in the hands of the City Council and the structure would not be taken down until the council made a decision at Tuesday’s meeting.  

“I will be bringing this up at Tuesday’s City Council meeting and requesting the council to give the wishing well an encroachment permit,” Spring said. “I want the city to realize its responsibility to help facilitate something that helps hundreds of people in Berkeley. We need to support something that helps recycling and has so far been beautifully upkept by the surviving neighborhood.” 

On Thursday afternoon, Berkeley resident John Lynch was signing a petition to save the wishing well at the site. 

“Five hundred people have already signed it, and I hope the city hears our request before making a decision,” he said. “People come to Berkeley to live because of amenities like this—it is a great way to care for the local community. The wishing well is one of the reasons why I chose to live in this particular neighborhood. I have friends all over the world who know about this well. It will be really sad if it gets taken down.” 

Wes Ikenchi, who has lived in the area for the last 25 years, said that most of his clothes had come from the wishing well. 

“It’s an incredible resource for the entire community,” he said. “Mothers bring their kids here to pick up art and craft materials, Halloween costumes and so much more. It’s one of the things I appreciate about the city, it’s what makes Berkeley what it is.” 

Barbara Cappa and Dan Lambart of the Well Wishers, an informal group that has been set up to petition to save the wishing well, feel that this is selective enforcement on the part of the city. 

“It’s a place that really cuts across different barriers, races, and political views,” Cappa said. “It’s a place where people can meet one another and talk and get in touch with each other’s humanity ... It means so much to a lot of people, we just cannot let it be taken down.” 

Lambert said that even if the group wanted to file for a permit, it could not afford the $1,000 fee. 

“We have a letter from the Director of Ecology Action, Martin Borque, urging the council to support the wishing well,” he said. “It’s not just homeless people who use the box everyday—the neighbors use it too. Anybody can put things in it and take things out. Users themselves take responsibility to keep it tidy.”


Despair Caused Prison Suicides

Becky O'Malley
Friday June 16, 2006

The moral vacuum which has engulfed the international policy of the United States of America became even more apparent this week as mid-level officials popped off with their gut reactions to the suicides of three prisoners in the Guantanamo concentration camp.  

Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy Colleen Graffy, one of the legion of airhead flaks now employed by the State Department instead of policymakers, called the deaths “a good PR move” in a giggly BBC interview. The jailer-in-chief, camp commander Rear Admiral Harry Harris, said truculently that the suicides were an “act of asymmetric warfare waged against us.” Cooler heads in the Bush administration tried to backtrack later with saccharin expressions of concern, but since these were mixed with “life is cheap in the Orient” racist clichés their sincerity was dubious. 

The most obvious interpretation of suicide committed by captives is despair. Prisoners commit suicide when they’ve lost hope that they will ever be released. One of the Guantanamo dead was scheduled for release soon, indicating that prison authorities had reason to question why he’d been incarcerated in the first place, but no one told him that.  

Habeas corpus, one of the oldest pillars of legal systems like ours which are derived from English common law, seems to have evaporated. In theory, prisoners have the right to have a court examine whether or not they’re lawfully held, but most Guantanamo prisoners have now been jailed for years without legal recourse—an ongoing series of legal challenges has produced few results. 

But it’s not only the prisoners in the hellish Guantanamo camps who are seized by despair. As the United States increasingly turns to incarceration as the solution to its social problems, many prisoners who do not belong in prison see suicide as their only release. Andrew Martinez, considered one of Berkeley’s likable eccentrics when he was a student known as “The Naked Guy,” committed suicide in the Santa Clara county jail, where he was held after he got into a fight at a halfway house while he was being treated for mental illness. A lawyer who practices in that county says that prosecutors prefer to charge mental cases with crimes, because it ups the box score on convictions to include a high percentage of mentally-ill defendants who can’t defend themselves in court. Suicides in juvenile facilities, where the rules are vague and release date is uncertain, are an increasing problem. 

It’s bad enough when adults who have been convicted of real crimes after fair trials are imprisoned. Hellish facilities like Pelican Bay are little more than factories for producing future criminals, especially when more and more prisoners have to be released without proper parole supervision because of over-sentencing. The goal of rehabilitation of criminals has just about disappeared in California, partly because of the political muscle of the powerful prison guards’ union. One study found that suicides are the third leading cause of death in prisons and the leading cause in jails (short-term incarceration faculties). 

The modest amount of information which has leaked out of Guantanamo seems to indicate that a substantial number of inmates there might be cases of mistaken identity. Five members of China’s Uighur ethnic minority group, for example, were caught up in sweeps in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and spent four and a half years in the camp. No charges were ever filed against them, and they were finally released last fall. 

Families of the Guantanamo suicides say that their sons were innocent of any crime, and that as devout Moslems they believed suicide to be sinful. Moazzam Begg, the British citizen released without charges who has written a book about his experiences at Guantanamo, has expressed his own doubts. U.S. officials, however, have charged the suicide victims with an assortment of radical and terrorist affiliations, and continue to try to brand their deaths as political acts. Now that they’re dead, the truth may never be known. For the rest of the Guantanamo prisoners too, the truth might never be discovered without fair trials, which seem increasingly unlikely.  

The Bush administration loves to claim the moral high ground, as evidenced, they say, by their support among certain factions of the Christian community. Members of the religious right, mostly but not exclusively evangelical Christians, preach sanctimoniously about the “right to life.” If they really support the right to life for everyone, they should join the outrage against the inhumane treatment of prisoners in Guantanamo and elsewhere.  

Their brothers and sisters in the more mainstream National Council of Churches are calling for the facility to be closed. The suicides are “another milestone in a sordid history of human rights denial and crimes against humanity,” said the Rev. Dr. Bob Edgar, NCC General Secretary. “Americans who love their country and its historic ideals are mortified by this continuing blot on our honor, on our steadfast defense of freedom, and on our commitment to democracy and the rule of law.”  

The NCC’s online arm, FaithfulAmerica.org, has already collected 10,500 signatures on a petition to close Guantanamo. Those who agree with Rev. Edgar—left, right and center, religious or not—should add their names to it. A petition by itself probably won’t change much, but it can at least blow some fresh air into the moral vacuum which now exists in Washington. 

 


Four-Star Hotel in the Works for Downtown Berkeley

Suzanne La Barre
Friday June 16, 2006

 

 

Developers floated preliminary concepts for a high-rise hotel in downtown Berkeley Wednesday. 

The Boston-based Carpenter & Company offered a crowd of about 100 public officials, businesspeople and other community leaders a few details of the proposed four-star hotel at Center Street and Shattuck Avenue. 

The facility, to be named the Berkeley Charles Hotel, will include 210 guest rooms, a conference room, a ballroom, retail space and 50 residential condominiums, among other features. 

UC Berkeley spearheaded the project—and the hotel is slated for construction on university property—but development falls to Carpenter & Company. 

“This is a very exciting time for us,” said company president Dick Friedman in a lively presentation to stakeholders at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre Wednesday. “In addition to building hotels, we really care about communities and urban planning.” 

The hotel will have one of the best restaurants in Berkeley and possibly a jazz bar, he said. “It will look like it belongs in Berkeley, it will feel like it belongs in Berkeley,” he said.  

Cambridge Seven Associates, Inc., the architecture firm retained by the developer, will work with a local architect and a green building specialist in designing the hotel, Friedman said. 

The firm has planned several hotels in Massachussetts and elsewhere in the country, including the Charles Hotel in Cambridge, Mass. and the St. Regis in San Francisco. The company also built an aquarium ine Lisbon, Portugal, a medical facility at Mass General and the Museum of African Diaspora (MoAD) in San Francisco. 

Gary Johnson, a principal for Cambridge Seven, said the general concept for the Berkeley Charles takes into account the design sensibilities of the surrounding structures and serves as a point of attraction for both visitors and residents. 

“We’re really interested in a hotel that’s like the city’s living room,” he said. 

The firm is open to a design that allows for the daylighting of Strawberry Creek, which runs beneath downtown, and a pedestrian-only Center Street, Johnson said. It could also be one of the greenest hotels in the country, he said.  

A hotel task force, formed by the Planning Commission, met for several months in 2004 to outline recommended features of the proposed development. A handful of members at Wednesday’s reception expressed support for the preliminary concepts. 

“I’m really pleased tonight,” said former task force chair Rob Wrenn. “I really feel like they took the task force’s recommendations into consideration.” Maintaining a design that allows Center Street to be closed to cars—as part of the larger revisioning process of downtown Berkeley--is very important, he said. 

City Councilmember Dona Spring also expressed her support. 

“It seems like a perfect match for Berkeley,” she said of the developers. “They’ve got a track record of involving the community. And I especially like the idea of making it an ecological building . . . This could be a vision of how to integrate our urban area with the natural world.” 

Mayoral candidate Zelda Bronstein, who was vice-chair of the hotel task force, was pleased with the presentation, but said she looked forward to more information. 

Carpenter & Company was selected by the university to develop a hotel in downtown Berkeley in 2004, but has met with some difficulties in getting the project underway, in large part because Bank of America owns a portion of the site proposed for building (the university owns the majority). Friedman said he is in the process of working out a deal with the bank—which will likely be incorporated into the hotel—and now expects the project to take on a faster pace. 

The company will formally present its plans to the Downtown Area Plan Advisory Committee June 21, after which point the rigorous planning process begins. Matt Taeker, principal planner for the Downtown Area Plan, says the hotel will undergo the “highest level” vetting process. 

The company plans to work closely with the community, Friedman said, adding: “This hotel will only be successful if Berkeley supports it.”


Comrades Recall Stew Albert

Richard Brenneman
Friday June 16, 2006

The faces were lined, framed by graying and thinning hair, but the passion that had animated them—and the humor—were rekindled as firebrands of the ’60s recalled one of their own. 

They were veterans of the Free Speech Movement, the battles for People’s Park and Vietnam War protests, who had gathered in a Grizzly Peak Boulevard home in late May to celebrate the life of one of their own. 

A founder of the Yippies and the always merry and oft-arrested prankster who ran a pig for President outside the infamous 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago, Stew Albert was a luminary in a legendary era. 

He died of liver cancer on Jan. 30 at his home in Portland, Ore. He was 66. 

As his friends recalled, Albert was a man whose intellect, skills, charm and ready wit bridged political chasms. 

Born in New York in 1939, he was led to activism by the May 2, 1960, execution of Caryl Chessman, a Californian inmate whose bestselling Cell 2455, Death Row had ignited a national debate about capital punishment. 

Albert came to San Francisco in 1965, befriending poet Allen Ginsberg and other prominent figures of the Beat era before finding his way to Berkeley and plunging into the heady radicalism ignited two years earlier by the Free Speech Movement. 

He never gave up his radicalism or his friends. 

Judy Gumbo, his partner for 32 years, attended Saturday’s event. She didn’t speak during the tributes but listened, smiling and exchanging frequent hugs with the speakers. 

“He was a very effective inciter of disturbances,” recalled Art Goldberg, who met Albert in 1967 and served as emcee of the memorial. 

“Stew Albert was a co-founder of the Yippies and a friend of Jerry Rubin and a friend of Abbie Hoffman and a friend of Eldridge Cleaver and a friend of John Lennon and a friend of thousands who identified with the Movement,” said Oakland City Councilmember Jane Brunner. 

Rubin and Hoffman were seminal figures in Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), and later in the Yippies—the Youth International Party. Cleaver was the Information Minister of the Black Panther Party. 

Brunner, who had marched with Albert, quoted from the resolution she wrote and her colleagues passed, which declared Feb. 1 Stew Albert Day in Oakland. 

He “was a target of J. Edgar Hoover and a target of Richard Nixon and a target of the FBI and the victor in a lawsuit against their harassment and an irrepressible critic of the unjust and the idiotic to the moment he died, addressing the power that rules us now,” she read. 

Thrown into Alameda County jail at Santa Rita in 1970 for his role in the People’s Park protests, Albert decided to run for sheriff. “It was (now-U.S. Rep.) Barbara Lee who encouraged him and got him to run,” said Goldberg. 

Albert collected 65,000 votes—a thousand for every day he spent at Santa Rita—carrying Berkeley by 10,000. 

One victim of an Albert prank was Max Scherr, editor of the Berkeley Barb, that legendary paper of the days of “the Movement.” 

“A lot of Jewish kids were converting to Buddhism then,” Paul Glusman said, so Albert cooked up a hoax, getting a letter mailed from Japan to the paper reporting that “all the Buddhist kids in Japan were converting to Judaism.” 

Scherr ran the letter. 

Several speakers spoke of Albert’s fondness for cannabis—he was anything but the model of the puritanical Old Left. 

“I had my greatest moments with him during the conspiracy trial,” said Anne Weills, who met Albert through Jerry Rubin. 

The trial was the prosecution of the Chicago Seven. Hoffman, Rubin and five others were tried on federal conspiracy charges for their part in the demonstrations at the Democratic Convention. 

Several speakers said Albert was frustrated that he wasn’t indicted for his own very considerable role in Chicago events, which included the brilliant inspiration to declare Pigasus the official Yippie presidential candidate. 

Steve Tappis recalled several friends who lamented “Poor Stew” when they heard he hadn’t been charged. “We should indict him posthumously,” he said, drawing laughter and smiles. 

Tappis met Albert during preparations for the Oct. 21, 1967, demonstration at the Pentagon, where more than 100,000 showed up to protest the Vietnam War. 

“I always thought Stew was the ambassador, the Yippie who talked to the Marxist-Leninists. He was no liberal. He was hardline and hard core, but nonsectarian—and that is a trip,” Tappis said. 

“I saw him two days before he died, and he said, ‘I never changed my politics,’” said Conn “Ringo” Hallinan, who recalled Albert’s brief flirtation with the Progressive Labor Party (PL), a Maoist faction. 

“The Communist Party liked PL because they made us look like we had a sense of humor,” quipped Hallinan, former editor of The People’s World. 

Gloria Polanski, who met Albert when she was 17, spoke of “his humility and his bravado.” 

Jonah Raskin first met Albert in October, 1970, when he and other radicals flew to Algiers where Eldridge Cleaver was playing host to Timothy Leary after the LSD guru had broken out of prison with the help of the Weather Underground and fled overseas. 

“Eldridge sat around with an AK-47 in his lap,” and much marijuana and considerable LSD was being ingested. 

When Cleaver abruptly decided to put his guest under virtual house arrest, Raskin and Albert were moved to ponder the strange course of events. 

“He had his theory: ‘It’s just that every so often in history there’s this person, Dr. Doom, who intervenes and fucks things up,’” Raskin said, smiling at the memory. “It was his convenient way to explain things in history that are otherwise not explainable.” 

And while Albert wasn’t a man of violence, he had called a press conference to hail the bombing of the U.S. Capitol by the Weather Underground, the revolutionary splinter group of Students for a Democratic Society. 

Jeff Jones, once a leader of both, remembered Albert in a letter. 

“Stew was different. He always had a strategy and a plan,” Jones wrote. “More than anyone, he helped Abbie and Jerry give definition to the Yippie movement. Without his ability to broker their competitive egos and channel their ideas into strategy, what is passing into history as the Yippie story would have been different, definitely diminished and possibly disregarded.” 

Carol Cullum was a young Quaker when she met Hoffman during the Pentagon protest. She was speaking because Albert had asked her to. “You should tell nothing but the truth,” he had said, adding, “but you don’t have to stay with that part.” 

They would later discover that a mutual friend was informing on both of them to the feds. 

“He was a kindly, wonderful, loving, bright and hilarious person who was able to work with everyone,” she said, and he used those skills when he went with Hoffman and Rennie Davis to persuade John Lennon and Yoko Ono to work with the peace movement. 

“Stew was that person who had that connection with people,” she said. “I miss him a whole lot.” 

“I have a sideways memory of Stew and Judy,” said Jean Friedman, who met them as fellow parents at a Montessori school in Berkeley 25 years ago. 

While she’d not been a fan of the Yippies, she discovered in her new friends a model family, “the most wonderful people. So I forgave them for being Yippies,” she said, smiling. 

“What a model for my marriage,” said Naomi Price, when met Albert in a synagogue. “He was a family man. He embodied what a husband and a father should be.” For more on Albert, see his web site, http://members.aol.com/stewa/stew.html. His autobiography, Who the Hell is Stew Albert?, was published last year by Red Hen Press.


Grandmothers Group Calls for Letters Against the War

Dorothy Bryant
Friday June 16, 2006

 

 

Last December a group of older women (many with long experience as activists) met to form Grandmothers Against the War, dedicated to “ending the shameful war in Iraq” and “inviting all like-minded people (of whatever age, gender, and parental status) to join in the effort.” Their first action was “Take Us Instead,” their Valentine’s Day rally and attempt to enlist at the Oakland Induction Center. 

That was followed on April 17 (income tax deadline) by a rally leafleting outside the Oakland IRS office to protest the eventually “Trillion Dollar War” being financed by our taxes. Plans for subsequent actions and long-term projects are ongoing. 

One of these, The Grandmothers’ Letters Project, chaired by Marge Lasky, got underway on June 9. Aimed at starting a unique letter-writing campaign, it was sparked by Helen Isaacson’s urge to “write something to my 10-year-old granddaughter—not to scare her about the war and the state of the world but to help her to live positively in the world she must grow up in.” 

The Project committee agreed that age and experience (“We’ve lived through so many wars!”) made them well qualified to pass on to younger generations the helpful lessons they had learned. One way, they agreed, was to write letters, describing their own real experiences to people of the younger generations, and, most important “Not lectures and sermons and slogans.” said Pat Cody, “Concrete examples of how we learned something or did something.”  

One of the committee members had brought along a letter she was thinking of sending to her grandson.  

“I don’t know. It’s not even about Iraq.”  

“Read it to us,” suggested Julie Forsmith. 

She read aloud the letter printed (with permission) below: 

 

Dear Willie, 

I was just a little older than you are when Yoshio disappeared from my seventh-grade class. At recess that day about six of us stood in the schoolyard talking about him. Donny, one of the slow learners in our class, said he didn’t understand what our teacher had told us. “I don’t get it,” he said. “Why did Yoshio have to go away?” 

I was at the top of our class. I could recite everything that our teachers, our parents, and the newspapers said. I explained that, since Japan had attacked Pearl Harbor, San Francisco might be next; Japan was not a democracy like ours, it was ruled by an emperor who was worshipped as a god; this religious worship made Japanese believe they should do anything for the emperor.” My classmates nodded, a little bored at hearing it all again. 

All except Donny, who wrinkled up his forehead, shook his head slowly in confusion, and asked, “What has all that stuff got to do with Yoshio?” 

Then someone yelled, “I found the ball,” and everyone ran off to start a game. 

I just stood there alone for a minute, turning hot with rage. Then I turned cold with shame. My stomach turned over with disgust—for myself. I, the smart one, had swallowed everything I was told, and then had given it back, word for word, like passing a test. Donny, the dumb one, had asked a simple question that blew my little speech apart, showed me that our government, our teachers, our neighbors, our parents—none of them bad people—were lying to us and, worse, to themselves.  

I wish I could tell you that I went around asking Donny’s question everywhere, but I was afraid to. I knew that I would just make the adults very angry at me, because, deep down, they knew they should be asking the same question: why were Americans like Yoshio and his family being put behind barbed wire in desert camps? That unasked question sank into a great silence that lasted years and years—until it was broken, leaving a terrible shame that became part of our history, yours and mine. 

I never forgot Donny, and I try not to forget the lessons he taught me: that being smart is harder and deeper than filling in the blanks on a test; that smart people in the highest positions can be wrong; that asking a simple, “stupid” question takes courage, because people get angry if you catch them lying or showing their ignorance. Above all, I try to remember that there are no stupid questions; what’s stupid is swallowing whatever you’re told and repeating it without making sure you understand it. 

If people tell you that two plus two equals four, and that a red light means STOP, you can believe them. Anything more complicated than that—ask questions until you’re very sure you understand. Just asking might stir up some hidden truth, and that truth might start other people asking more questions. And if everyone keeps asking questions, we might avoid doing some bad things. We might even manage to stop someone else from doing bad things, and, best of all, succeed in doing some good things together. 

Love, 

Grandma  

 

The committee agreed that her letter certainly was about issues surrounding the war in Iraq, and that it might nudge writers who had trouble getting started. “Let’s send it, along with our call for letters, as a sample to encourage writing.” 

“Not a model!” said Wendy Oser. 

“Absolutely not,” said Renate Sadrozinski, “just a hint that could trigger a memory or an idea.” 

The committee then put together a list of criteria for letters to actual children and young people, or imaginary ones, along with copies to friends, relatives, newspapers—with requests to forward it to others, and to write more letters to be sent to the addressee and disseminated widely, above all to the Grandmothers Letters Project! They agreed on the following guidelines: 

• 1. Length can range from 200 to 1,000 words. 

• 2. Addressee should be preferably an actual young person, but may be imagined.  

• 3. Letters should focus on a real experience, something the writer has seen or done or not done (or perhaps wished s/he had done), something s/he wants to pass on as valuable action or learning experience. 

Finally, the group laid out a few rules for the Letters Project Committee and for letter contributors:  

• 1. Letters will be edited solely for clarity (proofreading) and brevity (under 1,000 words, cutting repetition). No substantive changes will be made without consulting the writer. 

• 2. Contributors must include name and all contact numbers (email, snail mail, telephone). No anonymous letters will be accepted, but the writer’s name will be withheld if requested.. 

• 3. Submitting a letter to the Grandmothers Letters Project constitutes permission for the Project to publish the letter in any format—newspapers, email, blog, printed book, sound recording Website or beamed to the stars of our galaxy. This is, of course, a non-exclusive right, and the main purpose of the project is that writers disseminate their own letters in every way possible (another reason for putting your name to your letter). 

• 4. Grandmothers Letters Project will bear only its own costs of printing, distribution, website fees involved in distributing the letter and so on. In the extremely unlikely event that any money beyond what might cover these costs comes back to the Letters Project from its efforts to publish letters, that money will be donated to peace organizations. 

• 5. People who don’t want to write a letter can volunteer to help in other ways: promotion, printing, editing, distribution, etc. 

“Did we miss anything?” Marge asked the group. 

“We should try to get some well-known authors to write a letter too.” 

“Okay, call up your famous friends.” 

“But don’t forget, this is for everyone—people like us, who struggle with writing, as many people as possible.” 

Marge looked around at the group. “That’s it? Okay, let’s get the word out. Telephone, email, snail mail—tell everybody we EAGERLY await their letters. Tell them, sit down and write, NOW!” 

If you want to contribute a letter, (or help in some other way) send an email to: GAWletters@hotmail.com. Or send snail mail to Grandmothers Against the War, Letters Project, P.O. Box 9476, Berkeley, CA 94709. 

To get on the email list for announcements from Grandmothers Against the War, contact bayareagrandmothers@yahoo.com.


Ten Questions for Councilmember Laurie Capitelli

Jonathan Wafer
Friday June 16, 2006

1. Where were you born and where did you grow up, and how does that affect to how you regard the issues in Berkeley and in your district? 

I was born in Palo Alto, came to Berkeley when I was about six months old, went back to Palo Alto after kindergarten, grew up in Palo Alto, graduated from Palo Alto high school and bounced around for a couple of years, came back to Berkeley as an undergraduate, graduated in 1969. 

My family has a long history in Berkeley. My grandparents lived here. When I first came back to Berkeley we lived on El Camino. Then we moved down in the flatlands on Woolsey. When I came back here as a student I lived in the south campus area. Then I lived in the apartment in Walnut Square above a guy name Alfred Peet who opened up Peet’s Coffee a year after I moved in. 

Then I taught high school history and social studies for seven years in Martinez. Living in Berkeley. Got married in 1968. Had our first child in 1970 and our second child in 1972. A daughter and a son. They both went through Berkeley schools, graduating from Berkeley High. 

In 1978 I got a real estate license and I started practicing real estate. A couple of years later I did a small development on Henry Street where I built four new town houses. I’ve worked in various aspects of real estate all of 27 years. I’ve lived in my house which is in my district since 1972. So I think I know my district pretty well. 

A lot of the problems in my district are kind of nuts and bolts. Particularly over the years as a small developer I learned about the difficulties and the political nature of the permit process. I can understand how that frustrates homeowners and business people. I’ve been on Solano Avenue as a business man since 1978. I know that street very well and that neighborhood and I have lots of friends in that district. 

 

2. What is your educational background, and how did that help prepare you for being a council member? 

I graduated from UC Berkeley in political science. I wasn’t really a great student until I got focused on deciding I wanted to be a teacher. Probably what I learned best from being a student at UC was how to find information when I needed to find it. I went on and got a teaching credential and taught high school for seven years. 

 

3. What are the top three most pressing issues facing District 5? 

I think two issues that are coming up in the next six months. 

One is creeks and how to regulate them. And balance that against homeowner’s rights. 

[One issue] we’re looking ... is the Landmarks Preservation Ordinance, looking to be, I hope, fair and equitable as we revise that ordinance. That’s an issue people are concerned about. 

And I think the third is kind of nuts and bolts: Infrastructure kinds of issues. Sewers, streets, sidewalks, those kinds of things. 

 

4. Do you agree with the direction the city is heading in. Why or why not?  

I do. I think the city is moving in a direction towards working towards consensus. For a long time this city has had individuals in our community that have taken really strong, sometimes rigid positions, unable or unwilling to see another perspective on an issue. I think in the last few years, before I came on the council, I think we were moving in a direction where I think we were working towards consensus. And I think we’ve seen that with the creeks issue. With the preservation issue and with many other issues. 

 

5. What is your opinion of the proposal to develop a new downtown plan and the settlement with the University of California over its LRDP? 

I think those are two separate issues. I’m encouraged by what’s occurred so far in the downtown. The hopeful rebuilding of the Shattuck Hotel. The potential construction of a hotel conference center. The construction of housing in the downtown I think has been great. It’s brought more people into the downtown. The junior college [Berkeley Community College] opening this fall. The Seagate building hopefully will go under construction in the next six months. Library Gardens is going to come on line towards the end of the summer. Lots of new housing in the downtown. 

There’s been lots of development in the Theater District. Kimball’s East is hopefully going into the UC Theatre. There’s lots of activity. I’d like to see some more small retail in the downtown. And I think I will as more people live in the downtown and there’s the demand for it. 

On the LRDP, some people have made claim, and I think incorrectly, that somehow the university has taken over zoning or development of the downtown. That’s just not the case. And if anybody reads the settlement agreement with the city, they will see that. 

The fact of the matter is we operate at a huge disadvantage to the university. The university operates independently when it owns land and wants to develop it. And what we have to do is get them to the table to negotiate so that community interests are protected and UC can meet its needs. 

 

6. How do you think the mayor is doing at his position? Are you considering running for mayor, and if so, what changes would you try to make?  

I endorsed Tom Bates. 

 

7. Has Berkeley’s recent development boom been beneficial for the city? What new direction, if any, should the city’s development take over the next decade?  

I think it’s been a great benefit. People living, working, walking around shopping in the downtown has been a great benefit to the downtown. And I think you have seen some substantial development along transit corridors, University and San Pablo, Shattuck and Telegraph. I think that’s where we want to focus. 

We have some exciting new projects coming along in public transportation. We have the bus rapid transit that will be coming up from Oakland. And potentially we have a ferry system developing in the next ten years. And that will most likely be at the bottom of University. 

 

8. How would you characterize the political climate in Berkeley these days? 

I think we are operating more with a consensus than in the past but I think we still have a ways to go. 

 

9. What is your favorite thing about Berkeley? 

I love the physical layout of Berkeley. I love the buildings. I work in real estate. I go in and out of homes all week long. I love our neighborhoods. The small shopping districts. I don’t think there’s a community in the Bay Area where you can go and find as many really vibrant neighborhoods as you see in the Adeline/Alcatraz area, the Elmwood area, around Monterey Market and the Solano area. I think these are some of the jewels of Berkeley. 

 

10. What is your least favorite thing about Berkeley? 

The traffic. Too much traffic. There are far fewer people living in Berkeley now that lived here when I came here finally in 1964. There are fewer people but twice as many registered cars. 

I certainly am put off by how contentious we seem to feel. We need to maintain the level of discourse in this community. We could be a little more community driven, more consensus driven. 

 


Council Looks at Items for City Budget Consideration

Judith Scherr
Friday June 16, 2006

 

 

The council unanimously approved putting a number of budget items on a list for further consideration. They include:  

• the costs to implement an anti-sweatshop policy for the city—the purchase of goods not made in sweatshops: $50,000 

• Office of Emergency Services: $120,000 

• Center for Accessible Technology: $10,000 

• Civic Arts Commission work plan: $12,000 

• Fire Department Services: $1 million 

• West Berkeley Neighborhood Development Corporation and food festival: $10,000 

More controversial was Councilmember Gordon Wozniak’s proposal to place on the budget-request list $50,000 for the Public Safety Commission. Councilmember Dona Spring argued that the Police Review Commission should take on that function. The measure passed 6-0-3, with Councilmembers Spring, Max Anderson and Laurie Capitelli abstaining. 

The council put over until next week a proposed ballot measure to support greenhouse gas emission reductions and a review of the environmental impact report for southeast campus projects, including Memorial Stadium.  

Students came to the council meeting to lobby for a November ballot measure to survey Berkeley voters on the issue of lowering the voting age to 17 for school board elections, but council put off a discussion of the question until June 20. The group’s website is www.berkeley.youthrights.org. 

Also held over until an undetermined date was the zoning ordinance allowing side yard and backyard parking with an across-the-counter permit.


World Cup Pay-Per-View Riles Middle East Fans

Jamal Dajani, New American Media
Friday June 16, 2006

 

 

“The poor man’s game is for the rich only.” Such is the cry of sports writers across the Arab world these days. From my position monitoring Arab media for a U.S.-based non-profit, I’ve watched the fallout from the decision by soccer’s governing body to grant exclusive World Cup broadcast rights in the Middle East to a Saudi-financed television network. The result of the deal: Middle Easterners must pay upwards of $500 to view the competition. 

Though only two Arab teams, Saudi Arabia and Tunisia, are playing in the World Cup, soccer-mania has spread like wildfire throughout the Middle East, as it does every four years. But diehard fans from Morocco to Yemen are furious at FIFA’s (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) deal with the Arab Radio and Television Network (ART). 

In Algeria, President Abdelaziz Bouteflika gave instructions to the ministry of information to pursue all possible means to convince FIFA to grant Algeria TV the broadcast rights for the games. All efforts failed. Last week an Algeria TV news anchor apologized profusely to the country’s soccer fans and consoled viewers that they could at least watch the highlights of 64 games. 

Even the European channels, which are popular in Algeria, will be encrypting live match broadcasts according to their own agreements with FIFA. An Algerian fan complained in French, “Shame on French television ... how they could do this to us? We gave the French National Team Zenedine Zeidan (known as “Zizou” to the French). Without him, France would not have won the World Cup in 1998.”  

In the war-torn country of Iraq, residents of Baghdad have been pooling their money to watch the games at designated family members’ homes. According to a report on Al-Arabiya TV, coffee shops have been opening late to accommodate the fans, but many chose to stay at home, fearing suicide attacks by insurgents. The Iraqi national team, once one of the best teams in the Asia Division, did not qualify this year for lack of practice and long layovers due to the turmoil in the country.  

“I don’t care who wins the championship, I just want a few minutes of escape,” one Iraqi fan told an Al Arabiya reporter. “The fact that ART is charging us a fee to watch the World Cup is despicable,” he said, but was not his main concern. “I hope that we’ll have electricity during the games,” he sighed. 

In the Middle East, I’ve seen this love of soccer temporarily quell conflict between the bitterest of foes. In December 1998, I watched the final World Cup match, between France and Brazil, at the American Colony Hotel in Jerusalem. The hotel set up a wide-screen television in its open-air garden, where crowds of Palestinians, Israelis, foreign tourists and reporters munched on Arabic mezza and nervously sucked on their argilehs (water-pipes) while watching the action. Within five minutes of the start of the match, soccer fans separated according to their favorite teams. The majority of Palestinians and Israelis rowdily cheered Brazil, while foreigners more politely supported “le bleu, blanc, rouge.” 

Today, inside the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem, a small coffee house that will remain nameless is serving its mixed patrons Arabic coffee and argileh along with World Cup matches via a pirated receiver. “During the match, there is no war,” the owner tells me with pride on the telephone. “If you discuss politics here, I’ll kick you out—end of story.” This year, he says, Palestinian and Israeli fans are united against one common enemy: satellite and cable carriers charging hefty fees for the privilege of watching this global game. 

Here in the United States, Arabs who choose to pay to watch the games in Arabic on ART won’t get a respite from reminders of the war and conflict savaging the Middle East. I’ve been watching these ART broadcasts in San Francisco because the ESPN announcer bores me and my third-grade Spanish is no match for the lively Univision sportscaster. At the end of each game, and after the long-distance phone company and travel agency ads, there is a peculiar pitch: Special Agent Hassan, a confident and beautiful Arab-American woman, appears. 

“I have a masters in chemistry,” she says in English, “I am a weekend soccer goalie, I stop the plans of terrorists ... I am a special agent with today’s FBI.” The next advertisement typically features a U.S. Army soldier, who says, “I am a bridge between two civilizations. I am an American soldier and an Arabic translator ... Join the Army and get a reward of up to $10,000, and speed up the process of obtaining U.S. citizenship.” 

I miss the days when a game could make fans in a garden courtyard in Jerusalem forget, for a moment, the troubles of their conflicted land. Soccer’s popularity is gaining in America, but it’s got a long way to go. When the U.S. team was annihilated by the Czech Republic, 3-0, few seemed to notice here. I mentioned “the game” to a colleague. “It was a one-sided match,” I said. 

“Yeah,” he replied, thinking I meant the previous evening’s basketball face-off. “Shaq had an off-day.”  

 

 

Jamal Dajani is director of Middle East programming at Link TV.


Study: ‘Bubble’ Likely to Deflate, Not Pop

Glenn Roberts Jr., Inman News
Friday June 16, 2006

 

 

House prices surged faster than household income and inflation, the national home-ownership rate fell for the first time in over a decade, housing inventories shot up with slowing sales, and the volume of sub-prime loans has soared. 

But despite these findings, released today by Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing, the outlook for the housing market is generally good. 

“The greatest threat to housing markets is a precipitous drop in house prices. Large house-price declines appear unlikely for now. But if the economy falters, both job growth and housing prices will come under renewed pressure. This would spark higher default rates, especially among sub-prime borrowers, and turn housing from an engine of economic growth to a drag,” according to the report, The State of the Nation’s Housing 2006. 

By 2005, house prices were rising at the fastest pace since 1978, the report states, and “media reports of a housing bubble reached a fever pitch. But, when and if house prices do fall, the so-called bubble is more likely to deflate slowly rather than burst suddenly.” 

Typically, job losses, overbuilding and population outflows are factors in home-price declines, the report states. “While dips of a few percentage points are common, nominal house prices rarely drop by 10 percent or more.” Though about half of the nation’s 75 largest metro areas have seen nominal house prices drop by 5 percent or more at least once in the past 30 years. 

Over the past several years, real estate economists have said that the strength in the housing market has served to buoy the nation’s economy. Now, the performance of the general economy will help to determine how well the housing market weathers this slowdown. “Housing’s contribution to economic growth is already diminishing and will begin to turn negative if home sales, starts, and home equity borrowing continue to decline.” 

Nicolas Retsinas, director of the Joint Center for Housing Studies, said, “We’ve turned the corner, certainly, from a seller's market to a buyer's market. The days of double-digit (price) appreciation are certainly behind us. The question before us, in this period of price correction, is, 'Will it be a flattening for the market or a more severe drop?'” 

He added, “Overall, the market is probably fairly solid, but in the short term there will be some rough patches. The wild card ... is the economy.” 

While price appreciation is slowing, Retsinas said that prices likely will not moderate enough to eliminate affordability problems. Rising energy costs have also affected housing affordability. From 2001-04, the number of households paying half of their incomes for housing increased by 1.9 million -- an estimated 15.6 million low- and middle-income households are classified as having “severe cost burdens” for housing, according to the report. And about 49 percent of poor working families with children had severe cost burdens in 2004, while 75 percent had at least moderate burdens. 

Affordable rental housing for those earning $16,000 or less each year shrank by about 13 percent from 1993 to 2003, according to the report, and “a significant portion of the remaining affordable stock is in financial stress.” 

Household growth is expected to grow from about 12.6 million over the past 10 years to 14.6 million in the next 10 years, the report states, while “widespread affordability problems will also intensify.” 

An increase in foreclosures is likely as the market transitions, Retsinas said, given that it may not be as easy for some distressed homeowners to sell their properties and avoid a foreclosure process. “If I had a problem making my mortgage payment a year ago I could put my house on the market. If I had a problem this year it might not be quite as easy. I might not have that 'escape hatch.'” 

Meanwhile, the overall home-ownership rate dipped from 69 percent in 2004 to 68.9 percent in 2005, the first drop after 12 consecutive years of gain, according to the report, as the rental market began to rebound. 

New single-family home sales increased 6.7 percent from 2004-05, while existing single-family home sales increased 3.4 percent and existing condo and co-op sales grew 9.3 percent. Median new single-family home prices grew 4.4 percent from 2004-05, existing single-family prices gained 9.4 percent, and existing condo and co-op prices rose 13.4 percent. 

“Although 2005 surpassed 2004 on many measures, housing markets were clearly moderating. Indeed, the year-over-year change in sales of existing homes turned negative late in 2005,” the report states, noting that a rise in interest rates is the likely culprit. 

Slowing sales boosted the inventory of new and existing homes to a supply of about 5.3 months to 5.5 months in March 2006. The months' supply is used to gauge how long it would take to exhaust the for-sale inventory of homes given the current sales rate. A supply of six months is considered to be roughly equilibrium between a buyer's market and a seller's market, with a shorter supply indicating a seller's market and a longer supply indicating a buyer's market. 

The inventory of condos reached a “near-term oversupply,” the report also concludes, with the supply climbing from 3.9 months to 6.9 months. 

Investor demand for real estate is expected to cool, according to the report. “In the hottest markets, the overhang of investor properties may be absorbed rapidly if housing production continues to fall. The recent sharp increase in vacant single-family homes for rent suggests, however, that this process will not be smooth.” 

Investors bought 4 percent of single-family homes built and 13 percent of condos sold, according to a June 2005 survey by the National Association of Home Builders, while investors bought an average 11 percent of new single-family homes and 15 percent of condos in the 30 large markets that posted the fastest price appreciation. 

“Among the housing markets with the highest investor loan shares are several Florida and inland California metros, as well as Boise, Phoenix and Las Vegas. In most markets, the investor share more than doubled from 2000 to 2005,” the Harvard report states. 

“I think we've reached a point where housing is no longer seen as a purchase for investment. It's something to live in,” Retsinas said. 

The volume of sub-prime loans has jumped “dramatically,” the report notes, from $210 billion in 2001 to $625 billion in 2005, with last year's sub-prime lending total representing 20 percent of the dollar value of loan originations and about 7 percent of mortgage debt outstanding. The share of sub-prime loans that were at least 60 days delinquent or in some stage of foreclosure was seven times higher than that of prime loans in fourth-quarter 2005. 

Interest-only loans, which defer principal payments for a specified number of years, “went from relative obscurity to an estimated 20 percent of the dollar value of all loans and 37 percent of adjustable-rate loans originated in 2005,” according to the center's report. “Payment-option loans, which let borrowers make minimum payments that are even lower than the interest due on the loan and roll the balance into the amount owed, accounted for nearly 10 percent of last year's loan originations.” 

Meanwhile, adjustable-rate mortgages, which doubled their share of the market to 35 percent in 2004, dropped slightly to 31 percent in 2005. 

The construction of new rental properties has slowed from 275,000 units in 2002 to 203,000 units in 2005, which—along with the conversion of some rental units to condo units—has assisted in lowering the vacancy rate from 10.2 percent in 2004 to 9.6 percent at the end of 2005. 


Opinion

Editorials

Editorial: Weasel Word Watch: ‘It’s a Compromise’

By Becky O’Malley
Tuesday June 20, 2006

The election season is beginning in earnest now. Oakland took the sensible path and got it all out of the way early, before anyone noticed what was going on. The election there proved a couple of things:  

(1) Instant run-offs would save everyone a lot of time and money. Imagine how foolish it would have been (or perhaps could still be) for Alameda County to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars proving that Nancy Nadel’s voters liked Dellums as their second choice.  

(2) Image counts. Ron Dellums has been standing up in front of the voters for a long time now, and they’ve formed a generally good impression of him. His most recent campaign produced few conceptual breakthroughs to tell us how he’ll use the “strong mayor” powers Jerry Brown took unto himself and then ignored.  

Longtime supporters say that Dellums’ real strength is that he’s a smart guy who reads everything and reads constantly. This doesn’t mean spy novels: He’s known to read all the tedious reports which bureaucratic lifers are fond of using to conceal their planned course of action. In other words, he takes serious responsibility for being well-informed and for making his own decisions. (Some naysayers find this hard to believe, because Dellums still looks like a matinee idol at 70, but he’s not just a pretty face.) He’s also been known for his strong staff, people who have their own ideas and talk back to him if needed, not just the usual crowd of sycophants a la Jerry Brown’s Jacques Barzhagi. Jerry started out as a smart guy, but failed as mayor because of his hubris, thinking he had all the right answers, asking none of the right questions, tap-dancing on the edge of the abyss. 

In Berkeley, the election season is getting under way slowly. Mayoral candidates are circulating their petitions, from the super-serious (Zelda Bronstein) to the silly (you pick). At least two incumbent councilmembers, Dona Spring and Kriss Worthington, have held their kick-off parties already. Their opponents are much in evidence these days at civic events: one the past president of the downtown merchants’ association and the other the current president of a neighborhood group.  

Spring and Worthington are both long-time public servants in the Dellums mode. She’s noted for her openness and her big heart: no worthy cause, right down to her beloved animals, is neglected, and she’s never afraid to speak up for what she thinks is right. Worthington is another one of those guys who actually reads and understands everything put in front of him by the lifers. Reporters know that if they need to be sure, for example, whether an ordinance is up for first or second reading, Kriss will be able to tell them, and can parse the language changes while he’s at it. 

We’ve lately seen a lot of high-minded, well-written prose on the Internet, and even occasionally in print, bemoaning the U.S. Congress’s lack of— what to call it in polite discourse? Let’s just say courage. With the occasional exception of a Russell Feingold or an Arlen Spector, Congress begs to be trampled on these days.  

But no one thinks George Bush is in charge either. It’s generally believed that the United States of America is now being governed by the unelected spokespersons for the oil industry who now populate the highest reaches of government, the Roves, Rumsfelds and Cheneys. Citizens feel, and perhaps are, powerless to affect national government.  

What a lot of well-meaning Berkeleyans might not realize is that local government is suffering from a similar affliction, here and elsewhere. The domestic equivalent of the energy industry is the building industry: also rich and able to purchase seats at the table of power on many levels.  

The building industry’s muscle shows up in Berkeley as the University of California consumes more and more of our city in its drive to build bigger edifices of all kinds. Many regents—e.g. Richard Blum, husband of Senator Dianne Feinstein—owe their wealth and accompanying power to the building industry. 

This scenario was played out in local government when most elected officials rolled over for UC’s Long Range Development Plan. The only holdouts were Worthington, Spring and Betty Olds. Observers of the City Council say that Spring has heart, Worthington has brains, and Olds has backbone on occasion. 

Watching the City Council in action is embarrassing. More often than not, it’s obvious that the mayor and most councilmembers have only a foggy idea of what’s on the table. They rely on staff presentations to tell them how to vote most of the time, and all too frequently lately the staff reports are TBD—To Be Delivered: not in the published council packets, so they have to be read on the fly at the council meeting. And often they aren’t read at all. 

For example: take item No. 40 on Tuesday’s council agenda. It’s headed “Compromise Landmarks Ordinance.” Keep your eye on that word “compromise.” It’s the local manifestation of the technique originally patented by Newt Gingrich: he who controls the language controls the action. “Compromise” is one of those weasel words, in the same league with the “Healthy Forests Initiative” made famous by the Bushies.  

And here’s what the staff is asking the City Council to do: “…support, in principle, the draft compromise revisions to the Berkeley Landmarks Preservation Ordinance (LPO) and refer those changes to staff, the Landmarks Preservation Commission, and the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) for review in time for the scheduled council public hearing in July.” In other words, here’s a blank check, please sign on the line in the lower right hand corner, and the rest will be filled in later. Maybe.  

The on-line agenda has an attached puff piece from the Mayor touting his “compromise” which says it has an attachment, “draft ordinance language,” but guess what? It’s not attached. TBD. 

Some policy wonks have gotten what may or may not be a recent draft from the mayor’s office which they were still trying to read through at press time. One reader said it’s riddled with errors, typical of the sloppy drafting often presented to the City Council for approval. He also thinks it introduces some new and even worse ideas calculated to cater to those in the building industry who view historic buildings as potential development sites.  

And now the mayor’s big buddy Councilmember Darryl Moore has added a bit of extra insurance to the equation on behalf of the development industry. He’s appointed Miriam Ng to the Landmarks Preservation Commission, just in time for her to be able to vote on that “compromise” ordinance. 

Who’s she? A principal in Korman and Ng, developer of the hideous Golden Bear building on University, the first of the Big Uglies to squat on that rapidly uglifying boulevard. She’s even rumored to be a Republican. It figures. 


Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

Tuesday June 20, 2006

SOCIAL SECURITY 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

There is a change in the way banks work that is very bad for seniors. If your bank balance is low or overdrawn, the bank takes the overdraft out of your direct-deposit Social Security check, charging a high interest rate. The bank does this without your permission or informing you. 

We have had several people call the Gray Panther office complaining that they did not know that they would be without rent and food money when their Social Security check was deposited because of this practice. In my case, they used to take the overdraft out of my savings account, which is OK with me. Now they take it out of my social security check and do not inform me. And they charge more! 

Is this legal? When did this come about? What can we do to change this? I think we should be able to tell the banks not to do this, or at least inform us when they do. 

Margot Smith 

 

• 

OUTRAGED 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

I live in Supervisor Miley’s district and voted for Measure A to keep the county hospital open. I am approaching 50 and have had serious illnesses and in the event that I lose my health insurance I want to know that I can receive treatment in my county. I am now told that the county hospital since the passage of Measure A is being asked to subsidize the county.  

Is it true that Miley is asking the hospital to give the county close to $20 million (in debt repayment, interest and rent increases)? 

I hope that this is not true. If you ask the public to subsidize a hospital and then pull the money back out to pay for other services you have effectively lied to the public.  

I am outraged to hear that a hospital that my tax dollars support may be in a financial crisis because Supervisor Miley expects a county hospital to give money to the county for other services.  

Sethard Fisher 

Oakland 

 

• 

MANIPULATIVE, SELF-INJURIOUS BEHAVIOR 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

On the tree of life we humans rank high, “a little below the angels” it says in Psalm 8, verse 5. We have fallen from this lofty perch because, in pursuing the “global war on terror,” we behave like soulless beasts, evidenced by news reports concerning Abu Graib, Guantannamo Bay, Haditha and much, much more. That’s bad but we’ve slipped even lower. 

Brig. Gen. Richard Formica reported that keeping prisoners on bread and water for 17 days was too long but it takes longer than that to develop protein or vitamin deficiency, that “inadequate policy guidelines” and not “personal failure” were to blame and that the jailers did wrong but were not deliberately abusive.  

When officials excuse the inexcusable they abuse language and when they tell us that prisoners inflict “asymmetric warfare against us” with their “manipulative, self-injurious behavior” then we can no longer wear the “crown” of “glory and honor” awarded to us by the Psalmist.  

Marvin Chachere 

San Pablo  

 

• 

SAME OLD STORY 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

It’s same old, same old at Berkeley High. Twenty-five or 30 years ago a woman started the first rape crisis center in the country, Bay Area Women against Rape, after her daughter was raped at the school and school authorities refused to call the police. 

Nancy Ward 

 

• 

BERKELEY BOWL PARKING 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Thank you for your fine coverage of the West Berkeley Bowl project. I am a frequent customer of the current (and previous) Berkeley Bowl. One problem: Since the store is so popular, and its parking lot usually full during business hours, delivery trucks double-park on Adeline Street, either in the bike lane or in the right lane itself. As I understand our traffic laws, double parking is always and everywhere illegal; in addition, the delivery trucks pose a safety hazard for those driving, biking, or walking by. As scarce as the street parking is around the Bowl, I’d rather see some of it restricted to loading zones than the current situation. Since the West Berkeley Bowl project includes a warehouse, I would hope that most deliveries will occur there, with goods shuttled to the current store off-hours, and that the congestion on Adeline will be mitigated. 

Robert J. Cohen 

 

• 

NOT-SO-BERKELEY BOWL 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

I’ve just become aware of the controversy over a new Berkeley Bowl in West Berkeley by watching the council meetings on channel 33. Apparently the Bowl owners are unwilling to agree to recognize a union and thus hire union employees. By this time, the Bowl owners are obviously worth millions and millions of dollars. Their parking lot on Adeline is always overflowing. The checkout lines are longer than any other grocery store in Berkeley history. So, what’s the problem with these Bowl owners? If they can’t give up some of their monstrous profits to benefit new employees they shouldn’t be allowed in Berkeley, the City of Light and Fair Play. Even Safeway and Albertson’s are unionized! Unions are the only protection employees have. Shame on you Berkeley Bowl for not guaranteeing union rights. And shame on you City Council if you allow them to start a new store without union employees. And lastly, I challenge the right of these Bowl owners to use the name “Berkeley” in their store. If no union, then it should be called the “Murky Hole.”  

Robert Blau 

 

• 

TEXAS HUMOR 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

When Nancy al-Masri Pelosivich states that “she speaks for the American people,” clearly she does not! She speaks for a small minority of groups and not the majority of American voters. She speaks for the anti-war, anti-American, anti-capitalist, Marxist-Socialist (liberal-progressive) “groups” of Godless Communist Feminist, queers, eco-nazi’s, government plantation blacks, “illegal wet-backs,” and antique lame-stream media. And that is the very reason why Democrats “are the minority.” 

James Weaver 

 

• 

NEXUS BUILDING 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

As a somewhat disillusioned former volunteer at the Berkeley Humane Society, I don’t doubt Robert Brokl for a moment when he states that Humane Society has been non-responsive and unilateral in their dealings with Nexus. But the reality is that they are in desperate need of a facilities renovation and have been unable to raise anywhere near the amount of cash required via a capital campaign to make the necessary updates to the facility. That the only way they can raise the money is to sell the Nexus property, most likely to a commercial client given the retrofitting that must be done to the unreinforced masonry part of the property, is really unfortunate. What needs to happen here is that the resources of some in the Berkeley community need to be directed towards providing a safe, secure, comfortable and attractive space for homeless animals waiting for adoptive homes (and I would add that there are also significant capital needs at the municipal shelter and the new Milo facility on Solano Avenue). This is an opportunity to put philanthropic dollars to work. It is not in the interests of the city of Berkeley to pit worthy organizations against each other. To shortchange the animals to service the arts and artisans is shortsighted and wrong. To do the opposite is no better. This is a lose-lose situation at the moment. Please, those of you with resources to spare, and I know they exist in our community, put an end to this silly standoff, and pledge the money needed to renovate the Humane Society. It can be done, and needs to be done for the good of our city.  

Tracy Rosenberg 

 

• 

SWEAT-FREE ORDINANCE 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

On June 27 the Berkeley City Council will decide whether to fund the Berkeley Sweat-Free Ordinance. If Berkeley provides the $60,000 needed for Berkeley to join San Francisco and Los Angeles in enforcing wage and working condition guidelines, it will have a national impact and be the beginning of a coordinated multi-million-dollar purchasing fund which will go only to suppliers who comply. There will no longer be a race to the bottom by competing businesses since they must meet fair wage and labor standards if they wish to sell their product. Since the cost of the labor component of a product is relatively small, maintaining higher uniform standards will not have a major impact on city budgets. The difference to the worker in China, the Philippines or Haiti, will, however, be profound. If ever there were a time for the City Council to think globally, but act locally it will be on June 27. This is the “war” we should be fighting if we wish to begin creating a positive image of the United States around the world. 

Tom Miller 

 

• 

SAN PABLO AVENUE 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Talk of revival for the Telegraph and Shattuck business districts mentions problems of high rents, lack of bus service and absence of parking. On these three areas another old business stretch in Berkeley deserves mention for doing rather well.  

San Pablo Avenue has a string of businesses in “mom and pop” and non-profit mode. Store rents are not those of “uptown.” Property owners find it hard to charge a ridiculous rent when the property next door is an auto repair shop, or similar “industrial” type operation—of which San Pablo has many. So, San Pablo (and its the adjacent blocks), have cozy pubs, cozy dance venues, a candle shop, calendar shop, three small furniture stores, a hardware, shoe store, two small bakeries, three pet supply places, the ecology center, a medical marijuana center, the blues hall of fame, a number of “store front” churches, three recreation supply stores, supply stores for items from India and other Asian countries, and there are restaurants for the cuisine of India, Pakistan, Ethiopia, Mexico, China, Japan, and Thailand. You can also get pizza, donuts, fried chicken, and lattes.  

About a year ago AC Transit added to its 72 line on San Pablo, providing enough service for the bus to run nearly every few moments. The buses do substantial business, which one can’t say for lines that run once or twice an hour.  

Only a couple of blocks of San Pablo have parking meters, and there are sizable free parking lots by Gilman and University avenues.  

Amid the hustle and bustle the issue of those in poor clothes who are without homes is neutralized, for San Pablo is truly an avenue of Good Vibrations.  

Ted Vincent  

 

• 

DIVISIVE LANGUAGE 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

I usually don’t read the Daily Planet cover to cover, but I did this time (June 13 edition). I was so impressed with your coverage of current issues; I will be reading it regularly from now on. 

The article by Jean Damu on the book Sociology of the African-American Language fascinated me. I, too, have traveled to Cuba. Not that I identify myself with their politics, but I admire the egalitarian relationship of their people. They don’t call themselves African, Brazilian or Venezuelan Cubans. They are just Cubans. 

I am a naturalized American, not even native, and I would be insulted if someone would call me a “European American.” African Americans are not African any more than I am a Native American. Americans, ancestrally from Africa, are simply Americans. Let us stop being divisive. I mean all of us, stop being divisive! 

Edward J. Levitch 

• 

ART MUSEUM CONTROVERSY 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

So Chris Gilbert’s brilliant rescue of the Berkeley Art Museum’s Matrix Program from puerile irrelevance will not be followed by more good work. In spite of winning every battle in his fervent war to support the dynamic of contemporary life with the dynamic of contemporary art, he resigned his curatorship. The only cost of staying on would have been a little less grandeur to the flourish of resignation at the peak of hostilities. 

Gilbert is right on almost every point. “Solidarity” and “alignment,” with or without “support” are much more accurate and eloquent, in describing the show and its relationship with the university than the staff’s (prolonged and unsuccessful) attempt to substitute “connection with.” The staff’s “neutrality” and “balance” are appropriate for litigation not for art. Their constant efforts to destroy and vitiate his ideas made his job more difficult—but they gave up. 

His defense of his tactics to the press is unfortunate. Even the most irrefutable truth, expressed solely as a generality, is platitude (hear Dubya). “Class struggle,” “capitalist imperialism,” “organized violence,” invoked in argument without explaining their application to the specific case, come off as merely quaint. There is plenty of case history in Now Time: Venezuela I and II. Handsomely presented, it is winningly, convincingly, case history. 

He might have explained, for example, why the university museum, like many other universities and museums, is “corrupt.” There is no institutional method in this country to support them. They need money for building and maintenance, staff, collection. They are forced to court the rich for gifts to the museum. The rich? They are trained in other ways, and depend, most of them, on dealers. The dealers know, create and control the art market, which depends to a great extent, on connection and on advertising. Using a little faux algebra to shrink the equation, the taste and program of most great museums is shaped by the dealer’s sense of what can be made (through advertising and “celebrity”) to appreciate in value by 15 or 20 percent a year. The dealer runs the show, and, to perfect the system, the givers get their money back through tax breaks. 

For a moving and hilarious recap of The System, including the removal of Diego Rivera’s mural from the New York City Rockefeller Center, see the movie The Cradle Will Rock. 

Ariel Parkinson 

 

• 

GROCERY OPTIONS 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

I’d like to comment on the May 17 letter by Jessica Taal. She complained about the choices of places to buy groceries in the area and that “We should have a health food co-op that is on par with Rainbow in San Francisco.” I like Rainbow Foods in San Francisco and would definitely shop there if one showed up in Berkeley. That being said, businesses don’t magically appear just because we think they should. Starting and running small businesses are not easy things to do and may in fact be harder now than ever. The combination of competing with larger businesses, start-up capital, high rents, not enough parking and fighting the regulations that the City of Berkeley imposes can be overwhelming. Any one of those obstacles would be enough to stop a lot of potential small businesses from opening. The combination of all of them makes it borderline impossible. 

I also wanted to point out that, while not perfect, I think our choices of places to buy groceries is overall great. I had some visitors from back east recently that spent half an hour just staring in disbelief at the produce options at Monterey Market. People in most places in the world would love to have the options we already have in Berkeley! 

Rich Crowl 

 


Commentary: Pacific Steel Casting: At What Cost?

By L A WOOD
Tuesday June 20, 2006

The stacks of Pacific Steel Casting rise high above the northwest Berkeley skyline of Oceanview. Once surrounded by manufacturing and light industry, the foundry now finds itself constrained by residential neighborhoods and a growing retail presence. This move towards gentrification is on a collision course with PSC’s massive expansion of its operations. Indeed, Pacific Steel, which claims to be the third largest facility of its kind in the country, has been the city’s number one zoning conflict for over a dozen years.  

Despite huge increases in the steel mill’s production and the commensurate increase in odors, airborne chemicals and particulates over the last decade, Berkeley’s Zoning Adjustments Board has refused to move forward and demand an honest measurement of the health risks to residents. Since 1991, the board has allowed Pacific Steel to operate with an incomplete use permit, and has consistently avoided a review of the foundry’s operations.  

This has never been more evident than it was several weeks ago when PSC’s use permit for Facility No. 3 was placed on the board’s agenda. As has been its custom in years past, ZAB elected to open the public discussion of the steel company’s proposal in the wee hours of the morning while most of Berkeley slept.  

The late-night hearing concerned PSC’s request to install a two-million-dollar carbon adsorption system at Facility 3. As expected, the project’s approval by ZAB has met with community opposition. An appeal was filed which is now on the council agenda for this week. Of the ZAB members who managed to stay awake, it’s doubtful that any of them understood much about the proposed carbon system.  

In ZAB’s haste to streamline the foundry’s permit process, the board simply streamlined the public out. From a perspective of community health, Pacific Steel’s investment will provide very little by way of emissions control. ZAB’s approval not only has given the board’s blessing to PSC’s runaway expansion, but also license to pollute even more.  

Using carbon adsorption or filtration to control odors is certainly not a new idea. It has been employed in many commercial and industrial applications, but has seen extremely limited use by steel production companies other than Pacific Steel. Those who support the notion that the proposed carbon system will adequately abate all health concerns for nearby residents should reflect on the history of tobacco regulation and the lessons learned.  

 

Joe Camel and Pacific Steel 

Everyone remembers the public uproar a number of years ago concerning cigarette smoke and cancer. Back then, the tobacco industry refused to admit any adverse health impacts associated with cigarettes. Since then, science has come a long way in understanding the dangers of smoking. Equally important was the discovery that exposure to secondhand cigarette smoke is also extremely harmful. Similarly, there is a growing concern about PSC’s emissions and the severe harm that could result from long-term exposure.  

A city ordinance now prohibits cigarette smoking within 20 feet of commercial doorways. What should the safety zone be for nearby residents exposed to emissions from PSC’s stacks? Unfortunately, not enough is known about the company’s emissions to determine that at this time. The Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD), which regulates the foundry’s air discharge permits, brushes aside this and all other questions about public health while adamantly defending PSC’s emissions as safe.  

It is interesting to note that even the tobacco industry has employed carbon technology in some filtered cigarettes. Among other things, the filter was supposed to control unwanted odors, not unlike the proposed carbon adsorption system at PSC. The difference is that a huge amount of money was funneled into the researching tobacco consumption, but little is known about the true nature of PSC’s emissions or what the proposed carbon adsorption system can or can’t do. It isn’t for lack of opportunity. Carbon systems were installed at PSC’s No. 1 and No. 2 facilities in 1985 and 1991.  

Exhaustive investigations into the effects of cigarette smoking were conducted on laboratory animals. At Pacific Steel, it’s the residents who have been made the guinea pigs because of BAAQMD’s poor oversight and PSC’s missing health assessment.  

It should be remembered that the foundry’s carbon adsorption systems and stacks represent far more than just giant cigarettes. Unlike tobacco, the range of chemical emissions, high volume of particulates, and dispersion patterns make PSC’s emissions far more problematic for the surrounding community. And unlike cigarette smoking, living downwind from the foundry’s stink is not a choice for many residents.  

 

Public health first, then jobs 

The momentum to daylight public health concerns relating to PSC emissions has been 30 years in coming. The current efforts by BAAQMD to investigate the factory’s air discharges have been repeatedly criticized by the affected community as woefully inadequate. The air district’s failure to do so reflects its strong industry bias. BAAQMD has resisted all opportunities to understand PSC emissions and has allowed the foundry to lag behind normal regulatory science.  

An overt sign of these serious shortcomings can be seen in the recent intervention last month by the Golden Gate School Environmental Law and Justice Clinic as well as Communities for a Better Environment into the discussion. Working together, Golden Gate and CBE have noticed Pacific Steel of their intent to sue over violations of the Clean Air Act. This legal challenge questions whether PSC has violated its emissions limits and points to the company’s failure to correctly record its activities. Facility No. 3’s use permit, now before the City Council, is a central focus of this outside legal inquiry. 

Perhaps the most important issue highlighted by the lawsuit relates directly to the health assessment being constructed by BAAQMD. If PSC is shown to have exceeded its emissions limits, then how can the air district begin to accurately quantify the health risk to residents and avoid underestimating the adverse health impacts? 

The politics of tobacco and those that encompass Pacific Steel are remarkably similar. Like the tobacco industry, PSC’s $25-million payroll and its 600 plus union employees pack a big political wallop. Like tobacco interests, the steel company is driven by profits, so the political imperative for PSC has not been to invest in scientifically understanding community health risks, but in touting the number of jobs it provides in Berkeley. It should be noted that although PSC is a family-owned operation, most of its employees live outside Berkeley. 

Neighbors have also had to contend with an outside lobby that includes Oakland’s recent mayoral candidate, De La Fuente, who continues to exert his influence in resisting any review of the foundry. Because of heightened public awareness of its emission problems, Pacific Steel has hired both a PR firm and the services of Dion Aroner, an ex-assemblywoman turned paid-political consultant. Needless to say, the community has been no match for this professional team, which has been quite successful in running roughshod over the neighborhood and the regulatory process.  

Even Berkeley’s big-business mayor, Tom Bates, has joined the team and now sits on the air district’s board of directors. Was this move a direct reaction to the pending lawsuit against PSC or is it an attempt to appear more “green” for his upcoming re-election bid? In any case, the purpose of these backroom deals has not been to daylight Pacific Steel’s emissions, but to stabilize community insurgency. Bates’ presence at the air district will only ensure that the foundry is further shielded from public scrutiny. 

It’s time to set aside all the regulatory speculation and politics regarding PSC’s emissions once and for all. Verify, verify, verify! This can only be done with continuous stack and fence-line air monitoring of actual emissions levels. Permanent air monitoring should be made mandatory with the pending use permit. Compared to the two- million-dollar price tag of another carbon system, monitoring is a small enough investment given what’s at stake. Pacific Steel’s cost to operate should not be paid for with our community’s health.  

 

LA Wood is a long-standing Berkeley environmental watchdog. 

 


Commentary: A 12-Point Plan for Revitalizing Telegraph

By George Beier
Tuesday June 20, 2006

Here is my 12-point plan for changing Telegraph Avenue as part of my campaign for Berkeley City Council, District 7. I believe Telegraph should be safe, drug-free, clean, diverse, vibrant and prosperous. It should be dominated by independent stores. It should honor its history and encourage its mix of eclectic shops and restaurants. It should be a regional draw and also have stores that serve the neighborhood. Here’s how we get there from here: 

 

1. Establish a Telegraph Avenue Commission 

The Telegraph Commission, led by the Telegraph Czar/Czarina would be a joint committee of the city, the university, merchants, students, and neighbors to proposals through the city and university bureaucracies. The Telegraph Commission will consider proposals to: 

 

2. Increase drug and alcohol addiction outreach 

Many people on the street are hurting. It’s our duty to help them with treatment that is free and available to all. 

 

3. Increase drug enforcement 

Sometimes people need a “nudge from the judge” to get into recovery. Let’s also review the effectiveness of existing ordinances regulating urban quality of life issues including graffiti, litter, loitering, and vandalism. 

 

4. Completely re-think the quota system 

It’s been much harder to get a Peet’s Coffee (which requires a variance) than a tattoo parlor. That doesn’t make any sense. 

 

5. Celebrate the relationship between the city and the University of California 

Let’s start from scratch and construct inclusive processes to build trust, commerce, understanding, and respect. Working together we can build a world class street for our world class university. 

 

6. Build long-term affordable rental housing and affordable condominiums 

Housing is very expensive in Berkeley—how can, say, a teacher afford to buy a home here? We’ve got opportunities to build affordable rental and condominium housing above some of our retail. First-time buyer programs will create homeowners on Telegraph who will commit to the neighborhood. 

 

7. Study how shoppers get here 

Let’s promote alternatives to the car: walking, biking, riding the bus. Let’s also consider additional short-term and long-term parking to help the merchants. 

 

8. Shepherd the mayor’s proposals 

Mayor Bates has proposed a plan for façade improvements, permit prioritization, improved street lighting, and other improvements. Let’s ensure that these proposals get followed up on. 

 

9. Get Cal Debit Cards for the Avenue 

We need to get the Cal cards used on the Avenue in addition to the university. 

 

10. Defeat the dedicated lane/transit mall proposal by AC Transit 

Removing two car lanes on each direction south of Dwight and removing cars altogether north of Dwight will cripple our struggling district.  

 

11. Put the “People’s Café” in People’s Park 

More usage of the park makes it safer. Let’s re-landscape the park and put in a memorabilia-laden café to celebrate the park’s history and to make it a safer, more inviting place. 

 

12. Consider the “Free Speech Trail” 

Let’s create an urban walking trail to highlight historic places on the Avenue—let’s honor our history! The university has thousands of students take tours and they end up in Sproul Plaza. Let’s give them a brochure that marks the trail. And tell them to go shopping! 

 

 

George Beier is a District 7 candidate for Berkeley City Council.


Letters to the Editor

Friday June 16, 2006

WISHING WELL 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

I have learned the city manager has ordered the Wishing Well removed. It has been in my neighborhood since before I moved in 35 years ago. It is a great recycling tool. People can put things in they don’t want, other people can take them out. It is delightful. I live two blocks from it. Near my house, when people want to get rid of stuff they simply put it out on the parking strip with a sign: “Free.” I counted five such deposits in my short walk around today. I always admired the Wishing Well since it is such a neat, attractive, organized even elegant way to handle giveaways on a block. It should be replicated, not torn down. I want to know what kind of thinking has led to the present action. Really. It makes no sense. 

Joanne Kowalski 

 

• 

POOR GRAMMAR 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Steven Donaldson’s opinion piece, “Is the West Berkeley Bowl dead?”, is really badly written, and riddled with embarrassingly illiterate grammatical errors: “who’s” for “whose,” “it’s” for “its,” “which” instead of “whom” when referring to people. No matter if one agrees with Donaldson’s opinion or not, his poor writing doesn’t help to advance his cause, or the Berkeley Bowl’s. If Mr. Yasuda is a client of Donaldson’s company, he might want to think twice. 

Aija Kanbergs 

Oakland  

 

• 

DOWNTOWN PARKING 

Editors, Daily Planet:  

In his June 13 letter Steve Geller poses a prescription for the sure death of downtown Berkeley: limited parking with higher parking fees. OK—I have to shop for several items that are too bulky to carry on a bus or bike, so I choose to drive. My options? I can drive downtown, circle for blocks to park within walking range of a few scattered retail shops, and pay a high parking fee. Or I can drive an extra ten minutes to Emeryville or El Cerrito, find ample free parking, and be surrounded by stores with everything I need (at lower prices). And the suggestion that remedies in London or Portland might somehow apply to Berkeley is just silly. 

Jerry Landis 

 

• 

WHERE TO WORSHIP? 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

The Pope, and Christians in general, may be in for some discomfort. If and when Jesus returns, where do you think He might go to worship? 

Harry Gans 

 

• 

NEXUS INSTITUTE 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

The Berkeley Daily Planet has published many un-truths in the past few weeks regarding the Berkeley-East Bay Humane Society and its tenant, Nexus Institute. For the record, here are the facts.  

The Nexus Institute was informed by their landlord, the Berkeley-East Bay Humane Society (BEBHS), in October 2005 that their lease would not be renewed because the property was being sold. They were invited to purchase the buildings they leased, and they said they were interested. BEBHS provided Nexus a term sheet in December and a draft purchase and sale agreement in February. The truth is that Nexus refused to commit to anything, and that, when BEBHS finally demanded that Nexus make a written purchase offer, Nexus stopped talking to BEBHS entirely. Instead, Nexus has chosen to concoct a sob story as to ill-treatment which they have been peddling all over town, at the same time as they have sued BEBHS for breach of contract – there is no contract.  

Meanwhile, with the Nexus lease expiration fast approaching on May 31, Nexus refused to respond to repeated inquiries from BEBHS’ lawyer as to whether Nexus would vacate without the necessity of legal action. Now it’s mid-June; they illegally occupy our property, and are doing everything they can to delay eviction.  

The property is for sale. The reason it is for sale is because BEBHS wants to build a new facility at its current location and needs the money from the sale to do this. If Nexus wants to buy the property, make us an offer, please! We understand that what Nexus really wants is to continue renting from BEBHS at 11 cents a square foot, and who wouldn’t? However, our commitment is to serve animals and their caretakers, not to act as a landlord providing deeply subsidized rents to an exclusive group of tenants with a well-coordinated P.R. machine and a highly developed sense of entitlement. Every dollar BEBHS has to spend in its defense against this tenant is a dollar less that goes to help animals. This is the truth the Berkeley Daily Planet should be reporting.  

Mim Carlson 

Executive Director, Berkeley-East Bay Humane Society  

 

• 

MISTAKEN MISTAKE 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

The Daily Planet has the best letters to the editor section in these environs. It is a valuable resource for opinions, rants, differences of opinion. Newspaper articles, on the other hand, are supposed to provide unbiased information. So I was confused when Robert Brokl’s piece, “Eviction Threat Imperils Nexus Building,” was printed as an article. The piece was a clearly biased and incomplete account of the facts about the building owned by the Berkeley East Bay Humane Society and until recently, rented to Nexus artists. 

Robert Brokl is certainly entitled to his opinions, but opinions should not be printed as though they were factual news reports. 

Mary Milton 

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: The writer is mistaken. Robert Brokl’s June 9 piece ran on the commentary page, not as a news article. 

 

• 

COLUSA AVENUE 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Your recent correspondent Paul M. Schwartz (June 6), in his good-citizenship mode, has called our attention to the pitfalls of an apparent new city policy manifested by the (vandalized) sign on Colusa Avenue which now says “PEE LIMIT 25 MPH.” (If you missed this Daily Planet exclusive report, I suggest you view the letters archive at www.berkeleydailyplanet.com.) 

Herewith a comment on three of his major concerns: legal, riparian and economic.  

He notes that our new city policy seems to target only the unruly residents of the Thousand Oaks area. I live on Colusa Avenue at Thousand Oaks (bulls-eye!) and agree with him that this is a clear example of illegal discrimination. (Ref. Bush’s “Relief of the Upper Classes Act” of 2001...and 02...and 03, etc). 

I think he is only half-right in calling attention to possible impact on our birds and fish “upstream and downstream.” There certainly may be p-endangered wildlife downstream, but upstream...? Most research shows that the only thing upstream is the p-perpetrator. This should relieve (some of) his worries. 

He may be further relieved to learn that the answer to his budget and enforcement concerns flows directly from his own data. Even if he doubts that Berkeley citizens will all mind their Ps and Qs, his own research shows that no one can pee 25 mph. 

Ergo, the city has wisely given us a new law that is constitutionally dubious, self-enforceable. and therefore without cost to our exchequer or our fauna uphill. 

Sounds to me like an ideal Berkeley policy. 

Victor Herbert 

 

• 

A UNIONIZED BERKELEY 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

As our standard of living continues to sink, it becomes more urgent than ever to shop at unionized establishments. The union density in the private sector has declined from around 35 percent in the mid 1950s to about 8 percent currently. As a result, a growing number of working people, including full-time all year round workers, are finding it more difficult and even impossible to make ends meet. In turn, purchasing power has stagnated, and the economy itself is rapidly becoming a candidate for bankruptcy court. 

Only a mass labor movement similar to the surge in the 1930s has the potential of lifting all boats. But we ourselves can accomplish a great deal NOW by patronizing unionized workplaces, one of which is Berkeley Honda. As a result of our victory at Berkeley Honda, workers are assured of a living wage that can support both themselves and their families. Also, the health insurance benefits are good and they enjoy a defined benefit pension plan, which pays a pension based solely on age and years of service rather than on the vicissitudes of the stock market. If all those who work for a living are able to achieve a similar situation, our quality of life would improve tremendously.  

A request to Honda owners; please bring your automobiles to Berkeley Honda for service and repairs. Doing so sends a very important message to other dealers, which in turn makes them more susceptible to a successful union drive. Not least, the contract requires that all the striking workers be offered their jobs back. But business must pick up to sustain these jobs. As a result of the boycott, repair business was cut by about 70 percent. These workers really need your help. 

Building a strong pro-union environment in Berkeley and vicinity despite the considerable barriers is an achievable goal but only with your commitment and involvement. 

Harry Brill 

Berkeley Labor & Community Coalition 

 

• 

DOWNTOWN AND TELEGRAPH 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

I have lived in Berkeley for 45 years and have noticed continued decline in the downtown and Telegraph areas. All quality stores have closed and moved and replaced with “dollar stores” types of businesses. Soon, good restaurants will leave also and more cheap hamburger and burrito take-outs will take over. I feel there are many reasons for this decline to happen: unfair rentals which force owners out of business, more and more aggressive panhandlers at the tune of four or five on each block and total hostile attitude towards drivers and cars. Christopher Adams’ letter in the June 9 edition sums it all in his humorous letter on “cancerous car concentration.” The Fourth Street area is doing great but if city officials have their way, the free parking lots will be eliminated and access will be limited to mostly busses and bicycles. I personally love to walk and take the bus whenever possible. I truly believe, however, that cities that have done well in terms of providing free or low cost parking areas get their payback in increased sales and higher quality stores. There are a lot of older and slightly handicapped people who live in the surrounding areas who would shop in Berkeley again if we offered decent parking in the downtown and Telegraph areas. Right now these people have to pay for dropping a check at their banks and the one hour or half an hour limit is totally inadequate for a meal at a local restaurant. Wake-up, city officials! 

Andree Leenaers Smith 

 

• 

THANKS, CALPIRG! 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Let’s hope that CALPIRG gets a box seat at DAPAC’s workshop (Berkeley High Library, Allston and Milvia, 1-4 p.m.) this Saturday for Downtown Visioneers. 

While many groups talk endlessly about the future of Berkeley’s downtown, the local chapter of the California Public Interest Resource Group is one progressive organization with the leadership and resolve to actually do something. 

Their vision? Simple. Downtown as a vertical surface—a backdrop on which to post brightly colored announcements for “Jobs to Save the Environment” as far as the eye can see.  

Thank you, CALPIRG! You are a leader in the fight for the right to blight. 

Jim Sharp 

 

• 

DEVELOPMENT 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

I applaud Becky O’Malley’s reasoned editorial about the present Berkeley development scheme. The problem in Berkeley, like with so many other institutions, is a complete lack of transparency in city planning and development. What has been so woeful is that there are many in the city government who are trying hard to buck the trend, and kudos go to Kriss Worthington for his work on the Save Telegraph campaign. The meeting at Trinity UMC was followed even by Berkeleyans in The nation’s capital. Tom Bates and others are willful in their ignorance of the public’s right to know on many, many issues of social and urban development. With that, so many necessary moves to shore up our schools, our civic institutions, and our willingness to call Berkeley home are lost in a process shrouded in secrecy. As a journalist, I know sunshine laws in California are the strongest in the country and The Planet and every editor concerned with the administration of their city should be trying hard in court and in city hall to wedge open the doors of primitive, stupidly secret planning committees and their ilk. But sunshine laws are not just for journalists, they are for any person who willfully seeks the truth about their government. Why are we not doing more? 

John Parman 

College Park, MD 

• 

PUBLIC LIBRARY 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Thank you for printing Shirley Stuart’s letter on the situation at the Board of Trustees concerning the director of the library, and the article from last Friday on the progress in moving toward a healthier workplace at the BPL. I missed the paper on Friday, missed the meetings last week at City Hall, and thus missed the news. I went back to read the article online. 

When you do a Google search and call up the article up from the Daily Planet archive, the banner ad at the top has four links which all seem to promote RFID. I would be willing to help code the HTML so that the smallish print in white inside of the green header bar which says “Ads by Gooooooogle” was larger and perhaps in a flashier color to emphasize that it is an ad. Currently, to an inexperienced web viewer of your news it looks strangely like RFID is a good thing, as links to information on how to get it surround the article. 

There are no links to the Caspian website, to the ACLU, or to the Electronic Frontier Foundation website in this banner ad. Nor to the SEIU website. The ads in Google’s directory work off of keywords designated (perhaps) by the buyer of the ad—or perhaps the bigger the advertising budget, the more likely the ad is to appear near an article with RFID in the text. How ironic. RFID is invasive, expensive, harmful technology in this application and it served as a pivotal issue in the push to remove the director from her post. 

If the Board of Library Trustees can heed Shirley Stuart’s suggestions for how to proceed to organize communications to try to grow trust among patrons and staff in the oversight of the Director and the practices of the board, then the future of the library looks better than it has for over two years.  

If we can change the future by changing the way we “frame” the news we get from the mainstream media, could we emphasize that the “frame” we get in online news from the Planet is a frame? Otherwise some of us may miss it. 

Lynda Winslow 

 

• 

SWEAT-FREE  

ORDINANCE 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

On June 27 the Berkeley City Council will decide whether to fund the Berkeley Sweat Free Ordinance. If Berkeley provides the $60,000 needed for Berkeley to join San Francisco and Los Angeles in enforcing wage and working condition guidelines, it will have a national impact and be the beginning of a coordinated multi-million dollar purchasing fund which will go only to suppliers who comply. There will no longer be a race to the bottom by competing businesses since they must meet fair wage and labor standards if they wish to sell their product. Since the cost of the labor component of a product is relatively small, maintaining higher uniform standards will not have a major impact on city budgets. The difference to the worker in China, the Philippines or Haiti, will, however, be profound. If ever there were a time for the City Council to think globally, but act locally it will be on June 27. This is the “war” we should be fighting if we wish to begin creating a positive image of the United States around the world. 

Tom Miller 

 

• 

ELECTION RESULTS 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Let’s make it illegal to accept any election results until all of the votes are counted, and until the vote count is transparent and honest and open and provable. It is the responsibility of the election officials to prove by open means that the election results were honestly arrived at.  

Demand that the Busby-Bilbray election results in be 100 percent hand-counted to ensure that the results are accurate in light of improper procedures on Diebold machines used in the election. 

It has come to my attention that the Busby-Bilbray special election in CA-50 on June 6 was conducted on Diebold voting machines, many if not all of which were left unsecured in the homes, cars and offices of poll workers in the weeks prior to the election. Diebold touchscreen and optical scan machines have been proven by California’s own Secretary of State to be unreliable in the field and vulnerable to hacking in unsecure environments. Because improper procedures were used in this election, no one has proof that these machines were not subject to memory card switches or other easy tampering techniques such as manipulating the counters.  

I do not have confidence in the close outcome of the Busby-Bilbray election because of the use of Diebold machines and the fact that the chain of custody of the machines was broken and compromised by the failure of to maintain the machines in a secure environment. In another June 6 election in Pottowattamie County Iowa, optical scan machines showed one candidate winning while a hand count of paper ballots showed the other candidate winning. I believe that hand counting in CA-50 could also change the results.  

I am hereby demanding that all of the paper ballots from the Diebold optical scan machines and the paper trails from the DRE machines and any other absentee and early voting ballots be hand counted and audited, with proper oversight, as soon as possible. I ask that the results of the election not be certified until this hand recount is completed.  

Voters must have confidence in the outcome of elections or else the security of our elections and our democracy will be undermined. This election belongs to the voters in CA-50, and people all across the nation have an interest in its outcome. Neither candidate has the right to concede this election when Diebold vote machines were used in a manner that fails to comply with normal security procedures.  

Sandra Yolles 

Richmond 


West Bowl Would Cause Traffic Woes

Daniel Knapp
Friday June 16, 2006

On behalf of Urban Ore, its customers and employees, I’ll accept Steven Donaldson’s “special thanks” in the June 13 Daily Planet for opposing the regional grocery store that Berkeley Bowl wants to build. Building such a Big Bowl in that location really is a bad idea despite its owners having left it “a wonderful derelict, trash-strewn lot,” according to Mr. Donaldson’s eyewitness review.  

A big price will be paid. People using Ashby Avenue and Seventh Street in all four directions will pay for it in time and money as their cars and brains idle uselessly in the sludgy traffic that the Big Bowl will cause.  

My business, Urban Ore, is open every day on property about 30 feet from this intersection. I and my employees hear the honking horns, the cries of road rage, the occasional crash and crumple of car metal and plastic getting bent.  

When I drive in to work from Richmond via Ashby Avenue I see that the eastbound queue lane for turning left onto Seventh Street is frequently filled with its quota of eight to 10 vehicles. From our parking lot on Murray Street I see how these vehicles trying to turn left onto Seventh get stuck in the path of westbound Ashby traffic trying to get out to the freeway. The myriad traffic lights on Seventh northbound team up to stop the turning queue because the drivers at the back of the queue can’t see around the corner to the lights that will stop them in mid-turn. No amount of retiming will fix the volume problem. 

This clanky left turn is a major track that out-of-area shoppers will use to get to the Big Bowl at 920 Heinz from I-80 four blocks away.  

When the Ashby queue line fills up as it will, the next step is for left-turn vehicles to spill out into the left eastbound lane of the two-lane Ashby Avenue exit, slowing and reducing to one lane all the vehicles coming off the freeway who are heading for all the rest of Berkeley. It’s easy to imagine eastbound traffic backups on Ashby going back, maybe, all the way to 880 northbound.  

Seventh southbound is already impossible. I have long since abandoned it as a way to get to my business during the afternoons. Seventh clanks up because there are so many traffic lights needed to let people and trucks out of the side streets, and the Ashby intersection half a mile from where the queueing starts is so overloaded in all directions.  

The queue line on Seventh going north routinely backs up onto Folger eastbound and occasionally all the way around the corner to northbound Hollis, adversely affecting drivers coming to Berkeley from all those hyperbusy commercial districts down south in Emeryville.  

Oddly given these design considerations, Mr. Donaldson spends the rest of his rant supporting the Big Bowl. He’s the president of a company with the words “Design Intelligence” in it, so perhaps he can explain why willfully creating traffic gridlock at Seventh and Ashby is intelligent design.  

 

Daniel Knapp is president of Urban Ore, Inc.  


The Downtown Berkeley Blues

David Nebenzahl
Friday June 16, 2006

Reading about the recent losses (first Cody’s, now Radstons), gives me a profound sense of déjà vu, as I saw essentially the same thing happen to downtown Palo Alto in the mid-’90s. A thriving central business district that had local shops which actually supplied real needs turned into a frou-frou boutique zone for the nouveau riche (aka “yuppie scum”). As in Berkeley today, the primary culprit was the same: rising rents that forced out long-time tenants. 

When I arrived there in about 1990, there was a real music store plus a sheet-music seller, a sewing machine shop, a long-time local coffee roaster (McMillan Coffee), several independent booksellers (both new and used), and a long-established local stationer. Along with the usual assortment of restaurants were a number of small eateries where one could get a quick bite to eat inexpensively that wasn’t necessarily from some far-off exotic place or the trend-o-matic cuisine du jour. 

All these places are now history. 

The parallels with what’s happening in Berkeley are clear. So what can we learn from this? Why is this happening? Why are rents going sky-high? What, if anything, can be done about it? 

Unfortunately, I’m fairly sure that the answer to the last question is “pretty much nothing.” The yuppification of Palo Alto proceeded fairly quietly, while in Berkeley there is the obligatory hue and cry, accompanied by much liberal hand-wringing and gnashing of teeth. All of which provides balm for our souls, but not much in the way of actual change in the real world. Because, as it turns out, there’s only so much that those in city government can do. Short of a commercial rent-control policy with teeth (yeah, like that’s gonna happen!), what can the city do that would actually reverse rising rents and the flight of businesses? (In the spirit of giving credit where it’s due, the proposed streamlining of business permits for the Telegraph Ave. district is probably a step in the right direction.) 

The irksome thing is that there probably were lots of things that the city could have done in the past to stave off the present situation, starting with not rolling over and playing dead every time an incoming business asked for special favors. But now that the barn door is open ... Since the city’s hands are essentially tied, I’d much prefer it if city officials didn’t grandstand and pretend that they can reverse the remaking of downtown Berkeley in the image of New World Capital. The problem is that this tends to give their constituents false hope that maybe, just maybe, they can “save” Cody’s and Radstons and the Elmwood Pharmacy and Ozzie’s (and while you’re at it, how about Edy’s?) by rallying the good citizens against the evil chains, etc. But I ask them: just how are you going to bring that about? Mind you, I agree with their sentiment. I’d love to see the corporate invaders run out of town and replaced by home-grown businesses. I just don’t see any realistic way to actually make this happen, given current economic realities. So don’t promise what you can’t deliver. 

 

David Nebenzahl is a North Oakland  

resident.


Berkeley’s Overground Railroad

Toya Groves
Friday June 16, 2006

The Ashby Community Flea Market represents a marketplace that existed over the ages in all of the seven continents. Upon walking into it you are greeted with the welcoming call of the drums played by people from all walks of life. Dancers move in the middle of the circle inviting guests to watch or join in. You are instantly surrounded by the sweet aroma of incense coupled with the smell of African and Caribbean food. Colorful cultural decorations and canopies filled with clothes from ancient places around the world, jewels from far away lands sparkle on table clothes, and handmade soaps and oils lure all who walk amongst this space. Within these clothed walls people are able to pick up Chinese chalk and fruits and vegetables while walking under the sunshine, mingling with friends and strangers, bargaining with vendors. This is not the average flea market selling old junk to those who find it to be treasures, this is a sacred space. This fusion of world cultural traditions gives the Ashby Community Flea market a sense of place—as if it has been here all along.  

Rising up in 1975, as the final step in the historic age of enlightenment and revolution known to many as the Berkeley Hippie Black Power Movement, the Ashby Community Flea Market emerged as a place for people to make a living, support families, and nurture a community environment that included and valued ancient cultural items. As one patron said, “It was a place to meet your wife.” 

Found in the historic Ashby Station District also known to residents as South Berkeley, the Ashby Community Flea Market has a regional draw making it a heart beat of Berkeley. In the old days, this neighborhood was the birthplace of the first steam train and electric transport systems connecting Oakland with Berkeley. Originally this land was bought by Mark and William Ashby, who were pioneer farmers, intending to build a ranch. Yet the visions of Governor Leland Stanford and real estate developer Francis Kittredge Shattuck overshadowed their farming idea as they put in a steam train line that would be the vein of what is now called the city of Berkeley. It was considered to be “one of the most attractive portions of Oakland’s surroundings” and was often referred to as the streetcar suburb. It has always been a place of comers and goers. Pit stops to enjoy the sun, meet new faces, and meet old friends. 

Locating on the corner of Ashby Avenue and MLK Jr. way, it stands as a monument of cultural uplift as old folks reminisce about Black Panther Party meetings and the renaming of old Grove Street after great freedom fighter Martin Luther King Jr. The environment surrounding the Ashby Flea Market is a sacred space allowing ancestors and freedom fighters to be honored and their legacy upheld.  

In the late 1980s, the flea market stood strong amidst the attack on the black community via crack cocaine and co-intelpro (CIA infiltration). Propelled by the beats and exodus of drums from all over the African Diaspora, the Ashby Community Flea Market remained amidst barren conditions, as people and neighborhoods were levelled by crack cocaine almost as fast as the atomic bomb destroyed Hiroshima. Neighborhoods that were once rooted in the tradition of hard work and self empowerment were ruined, as crack cocaine consumed the second and third generation simultaneously. The drums of the marketplace beat louder holding down the African roots of its attacked people while providing a safe haven and an outlet for those who might otherwise be the victim of this urban genocide of the 1980s. Providing a place to receive shamanistic healings via herbal lore and sound waves, the Ashby Community Flea market allowed most who were victimized by Reaganomics physically, mentally, and emotionally a safe haven to heal. 

In the 1990s, I first hit the marketplace as a teenager searching for myself. The Ashby Community Flea Market allowed most of us to find ourselves as we wore our African dashikis, long Moroccan skirts and big gemmed hippie jewelry that nobody could find anywhere else with pride. It also planted within me the idea of entrepreneurship as I found confidence in watching the young vendors make a living without selling out to corporate America. But more than anything, the flea market was a place to actually touch, hold, and take home things from places around the world. At this market I bought my first red, gold and green African medallion and learned the other names for Africa. Native American dream catchers and turquoise filled my first medicine bag. As Marcus Garvey and Malcolm X told me to go back to Africa, the flea market allowed me to first take this Hajj mentally as I learned of books about the Black Panthers, eating to live, and Egypt. It allowed what might have only been pictures in books to be real and alive. This place is a sacred spot acting as a vessel into ancient worlds just as the Great Pyramids, Stonehenge, and the shell mounds have swelled upon this great earth. The Ashby Community Flea Market should also bear the title of greatness and be held as a historic place. 

Now in the new millennium, as condos and cement are coagulating mother earth, even in places like Berkeley, the flea market is once again playing the war drum as concrete structures threaten its lively hood. Corporate America has once again found its weak link to take advantage of within the city of Berkeley and is planning to submerge the Ashby Flea market under the guise of urban development. In a time where most of us struggle to save and preserve the little bit of what is left of ancient culture, it is time we save what is here right now so that our children and their children will reap its benefit! The Ashby Community Flea market cannot be moved and contorted by the motions of money but must be preserved and recognized for its richness of cultural unity. Removing or moving this sacred space will serve as the mechanism for the divide and conquer motions of colonialism. So let’s allow this flea market to pour out into the streets and its influence to be the beacon of city uplift and beautification by building around it and not upon it. Let’s allow the drums beat and the smell of incense flow through the neighboring communities just as the old steam trains chugged up and down the streets connecting us all to each other and giving birth to a city that always held love, change, and vision at its core. And as the little engine blue engine cried out, “I think we can!” 

 

Toya Groves is a South Berkeley resident.


Columns

Column: Rescuing Jeffrey and Gallicentral News

By Susan Parker
Tuesday June 20, 2006

Scanning through my recent e-mails, I came across one with the subject line “Gallicentral News.” It was from news@gallicentral.com.  

I’m cautious about opening e-mails from unfamiliar addresses, and I’m quick to delete anything that refers to teenage girls, bodily fluids, requests for money, or rocket-sized thingies.  

But this e-mail caught my attention. It sounded slightly familiar. I tried to recall who I knew named Galli. Whose newsletter was I getting? 

I opened it. After a quick glance I recognized the source. The person behind the website is Richard Galli, a lawyer and writer I’d contacted years ago. Mr. Galli is the author of several books including Rescuing Jeffrey, a memoir about his son’s July 4, 1998 diving accident that resulted in a devastating spinal cord injury. Just days before his 18th birthday, Jeffrey Galli was rendered paralyzed below his neck, unable to move his arms or legs, incapable of breathing on his own.  

Richard Galli and I both published books at about the same time on similar subjects, but there the similarities end. Mr. Galli’s story is about saving his son from drowning only to temporarily regret it and consider not saving him from quadriplegia. My book is about taking care of my husband after a bicycling accident rendered him a C-4 quad, like Jeffrey, confined to an electric wheelchair, dependent on others for his care. 

Rescuing Jeffrey wrestles with big—very big—questions about life and death. I can’t say that I enjoyed reading Mr. Galli’s book, or even pondering the issues presented. I wasn’t much taken with the idea of letting Jeffrey die. He was conscious, alert, and cognitive. Eventually Richard and his wife, Jeffrey’s mother, came to the same conclusion, but not before arguing with the ethics board of the hospital where their son was cared for by a team of specialists whose duty was to keep him alive.  

After reading Rescuing Jeffrey I contacted Mr. Galli. It was easy to do so since his website was announced on his book jacket and he was soliciting funds for Jeffrey’s education and well-being. In my e-mail I told Mr. Galli that I had read his memoir, that my husband had suffered an injury similar to Jeffrey’s, and that I, too, had written a book about a freak accident and our subsequent struggles. Would Mr. Galli like to see a copy of Tumbling After? If so, I would send it to him. 

Mr. Galli wrote back to me. No, he wasn’t interested in my book; in fact he wasn’t interested in anything to do with me or the publishing industry in general. I don’t recall what else was in the e-mail. I just remember the tone: bitter, angry, sarcastic. I do remember my reply: “Are you always like this or did I just contact you on a bad day?” I erased his first and subsequent responses. What I had hoped would be a positive connection had turned disappointing. I didn’t want to pursue it. 

But here in my inbox years later is an update on Mr. Galli’s life: new books and movie projects; photographs and articles; opportunities to buy his merchandise and contribute to Jeffrey’s trust fund; and a request to forward the link to his newsletter on to others.  

I remember the lesson I learned from Mr. Galli during that long ago correspondence, that the stress and pain of taking care of a loved one is no excuse for becoming an unhappy cynic. So I pass his website on to you. Check it out. There is much to be learned from Jeffrey and his family’s struggle, and even more to be learned from Mr. Galli’s savvy marketing skills. I’d consider taking a lesson or two from him if I wasn’t so busy just trying to get by.  

For more on Richard and Jeffrey Galli go to www.gallireport.com, www.richardgalli.com, and www.rescuingjeffrey.com.


The Nature of the Cricket and Other Loose Ends

By Joe Eaton, Special to the Planet
Tuesday June 20, 2006

I’m always a little startled when I get a response to one of these pieces. Sometimes it’s about something that requires correction, like the incident of the owl in the Embarcadero BART station. Other comments call for amplification. 

A while back, in a column about Jerusalem crickets, I mentioned that I had no idea how these alarming-looking insects got their name. All the known species are North American natives, with no historical association with the Middle East. 

Then David B. Weissman, who studies Jerusalem crickets at the California Academy of Sciences, sent me a copy of an article in which he addresses that question. He looks at several alternative theories and comes to a conclusion that, while admittedly speculative, makes sense to me. 

The first few scientific descriptions of these insects either used no common names or translated local Spanish or Indian names, like “child of the earth.” “Jerusalem cricket” first appears (without explanation) in a paper by entomologist Vernon Kellogg in 1905, and UC Berkeley’s E.O. Essig employed the name in 1913.  

In a popular article in Pacific Discovery, predecessor of the late lamented California Wild, in 1971, N. W. Baker conjectured that a Jerusalem cricket viewed from above in its normal resting position “resembles a Jerusalem Cross, an angled cross with short bars across the ends, these short bars represented in the cricket by the long spines above the tarsi [hind legs].” Weissman didn’t find this at all convincing, nor do I.  

Weissman wrote to several senior entomologists for their interpretations. Keith Kevan suggested that the name came from the insect’s tendency to feed on roots and tubers, the source of another common monicker, “potato bug.” Maybe it was regarded at some point as a pest on Jerusalem artichokes, AKA sunchokes. The “Jerusalem” in the plant’s name is a corruption of the Italian girasole, meaning “turning to the sun,” for the heliotropism it shares with other sunflowers. But this turns out to be another appealing theory destroyed by an inconvenient fact: the ranges of Jerusalem artichokes and Jerusalem crickets don’t overlap. The crickets occur in the arid West, the chokes originally in the Northeast. 

The version Weissman gives the most weight to comes from Richard L. Doutt, who pointed out that “Jerusalem” was in common use in the 19th century as a mild epithet (perhaps about the intensity level of “Holy cow”), usually indicating surprise. Doutt envisions a young western farm boy turning over a rock to reveal a large and ominous insect and exclaiming “Jerusalem! What a cricket!” 

This wouldn’t be the first time an expression of surprise got attached to an animal. One of the local names for the ivory-billed woodpecker was “Lord God,” which is what people tended to say when this duck-sized bird burst out of the deep timber. 

 

Another response, this time from a friend, involved the column about the steelhead in Codornices Creek in which I regretted the absence of eels in California. What about the Native American eel fishery on the Klamath River, he wanted to know. For that matter, what about the Eel River itself? 

Good question. But those weren’t eels, strictly speaking. They were lampreys. In his Handbook of the Indians of California, A. L. Kroeber refers to the “lampreys, also known as eels, much prized by the Yurok for their rich greasiness,” and adds that the Yurok caught them in nets and pots as they swam up the Klamath to spawn. The Eel River tribes were also avid lamprey fishers. There were separate spring and fall runs in both rivers; on the Klamath, the river eddies where lampreys were taken were individually owned. Like salmon, the lampreys were split and smoked for storage.  

Lampreys may be eel-shaped, but they’re something else entirely—survivors, along with the hagfish, of one of the earliest groups of vertebrates. They lack jaws and paired fins, have cartilaginous skeletons, a notochord (the precursor to 

the vertebrate backbone), and only one nostril. And their brains are small, even for fish.  

Most lamprey species are anadromous, like salmon, steelhead, and sturgeon: spending most of their lives at sea, returning to their natal streams to spawn. They typically prey on other fish by attaching to the victim’s side with their suckerlike mouth, rasping a hole with their sharp tongue, and sucking their host’s blood and body fluids. But a few California lampreys, like the rare Kern brook lamprey, spend their entire lives in freshwater where the larvae feed on algae and detritus and the adults don’t eat at all. 

In addition to the North Coast tribes, Europeans have prized lampreys at various times and places: they figure in Portuguese, Galician, Bordelaise, and Finnish cuisine. And seafood scholar Alan Davidson notes that the city of Gloucester gave Elizabeth II a lamprey pie to commemorate her jubilee in 1977. I hope it didn’t go to waste.  

The absence of true eels in California remains a mystery. East Asia has them, and eastern North America and western Europe. As a unagi fan, I feel somewhat cheated. 

 

Photograph by Robyn Waayers. 


UnderCurrents:Lamenting Brown’s Artful Oakland Dodge

J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Friday June 16, 2006

When my good friend, Wilson Riles Jr., ran against Jerry Brown for mayor of the City of Oakland four years ago, I thought he made two major mistakes. The first mistake was that he waited too long to go after Brown’s record as mayor. The second was that he did the going himself. 

In the new politicalspeak of slate mailers and media soundbites, going after your opponent’s record is considered a negative act, and is made synonymous with the popular term “mudslinging.” The two, however, are not synonymous. You can point out the errors in your political opponent’s record without being nasty about it, though that’s a trick that is not as easy as it might seem. A lot of politicians aren’t particularly good at the art, my good friend, Wilson Riles, being one of them. He has the demeanor of a pacifist and a thoughtful man—both of which he is—and so, when he took to criticizing Mr. Brown for his failure as mayor back in the 2002 election, it was so out of character that it probably lost Mr. Riles more votes than it gained him, and contributed to his getting roundly trounced by Mr. Brown, 64 percent to 36. 

Comes the dreary race this spring for the Democratic nomination for the attorney general of the State of California and Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo, flexing his street cred as a tough kid from East L.A., decided to hit Mr. Brown early and often in news releases and debate statements and e-mail updates.  

“Speaking to a group of Alameda County Democratic lawyers,” the San Francisco Chronicle reported last spring, Mr. Delgadillo “accused Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown of failing to fulfill a campaign promise of reducing crime in Oakland to the level of Walnut Creek. Oakland has had 31 killings so far this year compared to zero in Walnut Creek. ‘He calls 31 homicides a surge, I call it a crisis,’ said Delgadillo, who also accused Brown of waffling on the death penalty.” 

As a result, in last week’s primary Mr. Delgadillo did slightly better than Mr. Riles, losing only 63 percent to 37 percent. 

State media outlets mostly credited Mr. Brown’s decisive primary win not on the issues so much as on his name recognition and star power, with the Los Angeles Alternative newspaper giving out the bad news in an article called “Rocky In A Hard Place” a month before the actual vote took place: “Delgadillo—a decent guy with no surplus of magnetism—is running against the most famous Democrat in California, Oakland mayor and former governor Jerry Brown, one of the most articulate people alive. Brown’s name is the top brand. And, unlike other former governors (Wilson, Deukmejian, Davis), Jerry doesn’t just have fans—he has True Believers. … Jerry’s thousands of ex-Brownies are out there in all walks of life, in appointed and elected offices all over the state, spreading the word. Hence, Rocky’s rough road.” 

Calling Mr. Brown “one of the most articulate people alive” aside (??????), myself, I think that’s a misreading of the race. Mr. Delgadillo’s problem against Mr. Brown was not that he attacked a state icon, but that he attacked him in the wrong way. True, Mr. Brown made public safety a major platform in his two runs for Oakland mayor and true, under Mr. Brown’s watch, homicides skyrocketed. But in places like Lodi and Fresno and Santa Barbara and San Diego, I’m sure, they figured of course, homicides skyrocketed in Oakland … it’s Oakland, after all … and at least Jerry Brown went there and tried, taking on a tough and dirty and thankless job. It’s not Jerry Brown’s great image that made the difference so much as Oakland’s poor one. Who, in the rest of California, expects much out of us? 

Brace yourself, friends. For those of us who have followed Mr. Brown’s work (or lack, thereof) as mayor of Oakland, and wouldn’t wish that experience on the rest of the state, it gets progressively worse (pun intended). If Mr. Brown is a bad choice for California attorney general, there is pretty much no choice at all in the general election. Our Republican friends, bless their right-wing hearts, have managed to nominate someone who Schwarzenegger Republicans will have to hide their faces about. 

Witness the sampling of Project Vote Smart ratings on two-term Fresno State Senator Chuck Poochigian, the Republican attorney general nominee: On the issue of abortion and a woman’s right to choose, Mr. Poochigian voted with Planned Parent Affiliates of California 11 percent of the time in 2005. Three years before, Project Vote Smart reports, NARAL-Pro Choice flatly “determined Senator Poochigian to be anti-choice.” On budget spending and taxes in 2005, the Fresno State Senator supported the California Taxpayers’ Association 100 percent of the time and the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association 94 percent. He supported the California Chamber of Commerce 93 percent in 2005, slipping a little from his 100 percent support a year before. On the environment last year, Mr. Poochigian supported only 9 percent issues important to the California League of Conservation Voters, and the Sierra Club, flat-out never. He voted with CalPIRG 19 percent on governmental reform issues in 2005, but 100 percent with the Gun Owners of America the same year on issues important to that organization. On labor concerns, he voted with the California School Employees Association 10 percent of the time in 2005, the California Labor Federation-AFL-CIO 11 percent. And PawPAC, the animal rights folks, gave him an F grade in 2003-04. Grrrrr…. 

In his campaign website letter to his “Dear Friends” of California, Mr. Poochigian tells us that “the holder of [the California attorney general’s] office has no more important duty than protecting Californians and their families from crime.” 

In reality, Californians tend to depend upon law enforcement agencies that actually have police officers and police powers to do that particular job, from the various city police departments to the county sheriff’s offices and the State Highway Patrol, as well as prosecuting officials like the county district attorneys. The attorney general’s office has a much broader mandate, intervening in civil and legal and political matters in a way that can have a profound effect on local situations (an example was when, in 2003, current Attorney General Bill Lockyer gave an “opinion” against the transfer of construction bond money to bail the Oakland Unified School District out of its budget problems, leading directly to the state takeover of the Oakland schools). 

(In all fairness, in his “Dear Friends” letter Mr. Poochigian says that the attorney general’s job “also includes a wide range of duties, including civil justice, representation of the executive branch of government, advising law enforcement and other local and state public agencies.” The addition, however, appears to be an afterthought to his emphasis on the law enforcement aspects of the job.) 

Mr. Poochigian immediately went the ridicule route on Mr. Brown, reprinting on his campaign website a recent Jim Boren Fresno Bee column that manages to revisit both the old Governor Moonbeam tag put on Mr. Brown in 1978 by Chicago Tribune columnist Mike Royko and Mr. Brown’s old love affair with singer Linda Ronstadt, none of which, one imagines, will make much difference to California voters in November. 

But also, as one would expect of someone with his political background and his take on the responsibilities of the job, Mr. Poochigian has also taken out after Mr. Brown’s Oakland crime record, writing on his website that “Jerry Brown took a big gamble when he decided to wage his campaign for Attorney General based on a pledge to ‘lead the fight against crime as I have done as Mayor of Oakland.’ Brown was betting that he could confuse the press and public into buying his Soprano-style boo kkeeping regarding crime statistics. … Unfortunately for Jerry, the release of actual crime statistics not filtered through the lens of his attorney general campaign has caused the Mayor’s crime-busting claims, built on a house of cards, to come tumbling down.” 

Sigh… 

My guess is that Mr. Brown, ever the artful dodger throughout his political career, will be able to dodge this one, too, running not so much on the platform of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” as he will on the slogan “Oakland’s so broke, nobody could fix it.” But if there is any choice in the California attorney general’s race in November, you can label them Worse and Worser, without much difference in which candidate gets stuck with which.  


Richmond Museum Highlights City’s Hispanic History

Marta Yamamoto, Special to the Planet
Friday June 16, 2006

Siempre Aqui. Always here. Two words that simply convey a tome-like history. Aqui referring to California and more specifically the area around greater Richmond. From the early 19th century days of California’s Rancheros to 20th century jobs in mining and railroads up through today, the Hispanic presence has been an integral part of California. This saga is well showcased in the current exhibit at the Richmond Museum of History. 

The small Seaver Gallery, brightly lit and paneled in green and red, artfully displays artifacts, photographs and text chronicling Hispanic contributions both culturally and environmentally. Following the room’s perimeter, I enjoyed a concise history course of interpretive panels and accompanying illustrations. Collected from both old time residents and new comers to the community, the visuals tell the story of an age-old quest for a better life and a safe haven for raising a family. 

The story begins in the early 1800s on the Rancheros when huge tracts of land provided grazing for cattle, sheep and horses. A large, illustrated family tree traces the descendants of Joaquin Ysidro Castro (born 1730) and Maria Martina Botiller (born 1733) through five generations during the days of Rancho San Pablo, a land grant of 18,000 acres. Artifacts from this period—a full-size cow hide, a branding iron and a glass-encased adobe brick from the 1843 Castro home—provide a glimpse of everyday life, as does a 1830 sketch map of Rancho San Pablo. 

The next chapter leaps to the early 1900s when jobs in agriculture, mining and railroads created the next influx of immigrants. New immigration laws restricted Asian and European workers and World War I had designs on American men. Meanwhile, Mexican land reform policies, depriving 98 percent of the population of their land, and revolution catalyzed men to head north for work. Many ended up in Richmond at the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad, others at Standard Oil. A page from a 1914 Santa Fe Magazine attests to their presence. In three full-page columns an English-Spanish glossary translates a thorough list of work-related terms, including “pay day” to “dia de pago” and even provides a pronunciation guide. 

Mexican family roles, men, women, boys and girls, and social life are explored photographically. La Hispano-Americana Mercado from 1931 is represented in a classic black and white shot as well as with a brightly illustrated calendar from 1939 displaying the Golden Gate Bridge. A group of smiling gaily dressed young ladies at a Mexican Independence Day Celebration and another at a Sunday afternoon tardeada at Sweet’s Ballroom shine a light on the lighter side of life. The role of dance is displayed through Mexican dance costumes vibrant in their colors, seemingly poised to whirl into action. A black skirt sequined with images of the Mexican eagle and a traditional dress festooned with flowers in every spectral color would be highlights at any celebration. 

The time line progresses as World War II draws Mexican Americans from other areas to work in the Kaiser shipyard, where women and their daughters also joined the workforce. One photo shows the nine Gonzalez siblings, originally from Arizona, here to work at the Kaiser Shipyard. By this point in time, a second generation of Mexican Americans is looking higher both politically and socially. I love the family portrait of mother Martinez, face a little smug with pride, surrounded by her five adult children. 

By the time I reached the turbulent 1950s and ’60s, I was joined by Executive Director, Donald Bastin. Having collected most of the images from the community, Donald spoke of the interest this generated at the exhibit opening. Guests crowded before portraits looking for relatives and friends, some even running into acquaintances they hadn’t realized lived in the area. As much cultural as historical, exhibits such as this one recognize personal and ethnic contributions to society as a whole. I listened in on a conversation between a Hispanic mother and her son, at the exhibit for a school assignment, passing the baton from the past to his role in the present and the future. 

Striving to improve the quality of their lives, Mexican-Americans supported Cesar Chavez and joined La Raza. Locally many worked with the Richmond United Council of Spanish Speaking Organizations and more became active politically. 

The Hispanic presence has grown in Richmond. Aside from Native Americans, it is the group with the greatest longevity in the area. Today a young population, Latinos make up more than 60 percent of West Contra County school populations. Representing this young group are several students from Richmond High School, along with their own artistic statements. The rear wall of the gallery displays wonderful color portraits of today’s Mexican-Americans. A young boy with large, warm brown eyes, an older boy holding the sign “My parents are not criminals,” the represented artists from Richmond High and two family portraits bring this exhibit full circle to the people we see everyday. 

A collaboration by Richmond High School staff and students, Home Altar is a striking exhibit. A combination of shrine, a place for worship and prayer and somewhere to remember loved ones, the photos and artifacts represent religious and personal icons while photos and mementos pay homage to students who have passed away. 

Donald Bastin and the museum staff see this exhibit as a work in progress, as is the story of all mankind. Like so many immigrant groups, Mexicans came to California to fill a need, supplying their labor and seeking opportunities for themselves and their families. The culture they brought with them not only enriched their lives put also added to the complex tapestry of what is now the Bay Area. The value of the exhibit, in my opinion, is threefold. Siempre Aqui, always here, serves as affirmation to those whose ancestors paid their dues. It also serves as a bridge to recent immigrants helping them find familiarity and their footing in a new land. Lastly, Siempre Aqui reminds non Mexican-Americans of the long time presence of a vital segment of our society. Two simple words far weightier than the eleven letters of which they are composed.


About the House: The Problems with Forced Air Heating

Matt Cantor
Friday June 16, 2006

In the 19th century and the very early parts of the 20th, coal burning was a common way of heating our homes. It seems amazing to us now that such a wasteful, dirty and downright dangerous method of heating would be, not only the choice of a generation, but literally built into the homes of the era as permanent systems. 

I’m quite sure that carbon monoxide poisoning was rife in society in much the same way that lead poisoning was commonplace and unidentified amongst the Romans. Many, I’m sure were killed by the noxious gas but far more lived depressed lives of inexplicable lethargy (as is common with carbon monoxide poisoning). 

Future scientists may judge our forced-air heating systems in a similar way. Although these were considered state-of-the-art in the 1950’s, we’ve moved on in many ways and discovered many things about these systems which cause me to question the logic in retaining this technology. 

The main reason for my dislike of this extraordinarily common heating method is its lack of efficiency. This starts with the whole idea of heating the air, as opposed to, say, the floor or the walls. When we heat air and blow it around, there is a great deal of heat loss.  

These systems, for the most part, have relatively low efficiencies with loads of our hard earned Therms going up the chimney. While there are higher efficiency forced-air heating systems available (90 plus or condensing furnaces), these have a range of efficiency problems as well. 

These systems are heavily dependent upon a complete lack of leakage in ducting in order to maintain their efficiency and leakage is extremely common in these systems. They also tend to lose loads of heat straight through the ducting surface where the insulation is loose or missing. 

Many older systems (even those which include a new replacement furnace) have little or no insulation on the ducting and these lose loads of heat to crawlspaces, basements and other unused areas thus reducing the efficiency and using heat, Natural gas and money unnecessarily. 

Forced air heating systems also blow air around in the house and with the air comes noise, dirt, dander and other pollutants. Although it is possible to make very quiet forced-air systems, most are not so well-designed and many actually whistle or make other noise. The fans also make noise, although I confess this is a small part of my dislike of this technology. The detritus stored and blown about by these systems is, on the other hand, a major complaint for me.  

I’ve been inside these systems on many occasions and, as a rule, they’re filthy and their contents are constantly being blown back into the living space. Sometimes system which come to contain moisture through leaks or condensation end up harboring airborne microbes such as Legionnaire’s Disease, although this is uncommon on the West Coast. 

While such systems can effectively filter the air as they run, most are not properly outfitted in this regard. Many have ancient filters that should have been changed long ago and rely too fully on owner maintenance (this also causes the furnace to struggle and overheat). The typical filtration methods are poor and filters are often located in places that are hard to reach and often ignored (although these issues can be addressed by dogged or thoughtful technicians or owners). 

A heating system which doesn’t suck and blow air needs no filtration and can keep allergens (and house cleaning) to a minimum. Of course, a forced-air system that has great filtration can actually lower indoor air pollutants but these are few and far between. Overall, I would tend to prefer a system that doesn’t blow anything around my house in the interest of heating. The more direct the form of heat transport, the better. 

Another, and perhaps central, failing of the forced-air system is the lack of engineering in the flow of air. It is not enough to merely cut some holes, here and there, in the floors of your house and then to connect them up to the two ends of a furnace. The flow of the system must be considered. Otherwise, as is all too often true, one room is well heated, while another is quite cold. Also, without good return flow from every space to the intake (the big grill usually located in the living or dining room), the entire system will run inefficiently and the furnace can also overheat. 

Many houses that have heating registers (the ends of the heating ducts inside the rooms) have little or no space below doors for the heat to circulate back the intake and thus heat slowly and poorly. A forced-air system is a circulatory system and a blockage in a circulatory system is precisely what you don’t want. It has been suggested by some that forced-air systems should have a small cold air intake in every room. 

But so far, this has remained theory in virtually all applications. While some houses do have more than one cold air intake, the most I’ve ever seen has been three and they were all outside of bedrooms. 

Forced-air heating systems also have some degree of inherent hazard as they can, under certain conditions, take exhaust gases (including carbon monoxide (CO)) and put them into the ducting system along with the warm air. This is the main reason that these units should be examined regularly (once a year is a good practice). 

This is not true for all heating systems, although exhaust leaks into living space are certainly an issue with gas wall and floor furnaces. 

My final area of complaint with forced-air heating is the problem of where to put it. While the furnaces are not so very large and condensing units can employ plastic flues which exit near the unit, the ducting still can take up hundreds of cubic feet of interior space and make construction and remodeling very complicated. 

They can also keep you from doing the architecture you really want to do. For professional designers, this remains a source of real frustration. The huge hoses have to be run through every room of the house and greatly complicate and inhibit the shaping of spaces. Often, entire second floors end up without registers due to this complexity and few systems end up being truly balanced. 

Given these issues (and there are certainly more we could trench up if there were time) I suggest that it’s time for all of us to revise our notions about heating. Sadly, solar heating methods have not been given much attention in the last two decades despite a fair amount of research in the late 1970s under Jimmy Carter. We should all continue to push for advances in passive and active solar heating since, ultimately, it is the logical and most parsimonious realm of home heating. In the absence of this, I think that hydronic, or hot-water heating, is the next best thing. 

Modern hydronic heaters, like the little Munchkin are very stingy with BTU’s (British Thermal Units) and use plastic tubing to communicate heat through the dwelling. These tubes are so small that they can be threaded through the floors or walls of the home without any other deliberate modification. 

In other words, you can put the heater exactly where you want it and you don’t have to worry about where to put the soffits, walls or hallways. You can also heat the underside of a floor providing one of life’s great pleasures … a warm floor. If you keep the floor at 70º, the ambient room temperature can be 65º and you’re going to feel nice and warm, especially if you like to walk around in your bare feet. It’s nicer on your lungs too. The warmest part of the room should be the floor since ultimately, it’s going to convect upward to the top of the room. 

Hydronic systems can also provide heat using radiators and the remodel of a house need not involve the removal of the living room ceiling when radiators can be placed upstairs to serve the bedrooms. 

Since there is no way for CO to enter a room through the water in the tubing, the greatest danger inside the house is a leak. Hydronic heat is also more efficient and less costly in the long run because it’s heating something that doesn’t dissipate so rapidly every time the door gets opened. 

When we heat a radiator or the floor, those things don’t rapidly cool when someone opens a window or a door. When you heat the air, the ability of that heat to escape the house through door, window or other means is far greater. 

The reason that forced-air has won out for so many years is that it’s fairly cheap to install and hydronic is not. A hydronic heating system is generally going to be over 12 grand even for a very scaled down system and can be 20 grand for a larger house. Forced-air, on the other hand runs from 5-8K for most small to mid-sized systems. Also, with so many forced-air systems in place, people will tend to continue to upgrade parts of this system rather than junk the whole think in favor of a better system. But two kinds of people tend to choose the hydronic alternative, the rich and the smart. 

People buy these systems for their great comfort and their long-range cost profile (they’ll actually save you money if you own them long enough). Some also choose these systems when members of their families are allergy-prone. High tech folks like engineers tend to choose these systems because they make sense despite (and perhaps because) they’re not being the common fare. 

It’s funny how this thing has come around from the distant past. Hot water, radiator-based systems were quite popular a hundred years ago, although they were far less efficient and much more expensive to install. We had our flirtation with forced-air and I’d say that the romance has soured; so we trudge, somewhat chagrined back to our old flame. 


Garden Variety: A Nursery with Spine: Get The Point at Cactus Jungle

Ron Sullivan
Friday June 16, 2006

There’s a certain set of people who fancy succulents, and, as the judge famously said about pornography, “I know it when I see it.” 

Succulents in general are plants that hold lots of water within their leaf or stem tissues. The term refers to a strategy, not really a taxon. They come from all sorts of families, including geraniums and cucumbers.  

One thing they have in common, right on the surface: they look, shall we say, distinctive. We might even say “kinky” if we weren’t worried about offending cacto-Americans. (A letter-writer recently gave me a noodge about “some unaware race/cultural bias,” which was a bit off the mark. I’m quite aware of the biases I’m making fun of.)  

They tower in spires if they’re cacti, dress in temporary delicate leaves and permanent ferocious spikes, disguise themselves as weird green toe-sies barely poking out of the ground, crouch in scowly brown lumps and send out a delicate green thread to the world. 

They’re cuddly and scary, graceful and ridiculous. They burst into outrageous scarlet and crimson and yellow and white blooms, some of them intensely fragrant, some of them only at night. Serious cereus infatuation rapidly becomes euphorbia euphoria. 

In short, they’re irresistible.  

They’re also tough, if you know how to treat them, and for a local virtue, they don’t drink much. This means more than reduced water bills. 

It means you can plant them in a place as rough and stressful (for plants) as a rooftop garden, and they’ll stand up to withering winds and constant sun.  

West Berkeley’s a good analogue of a rooftop—flat, windy, and mostly sunny. So Cactus Jungle has picked a good location to show off its weird wares, just a few blocks from the Fourth Street shopping corridor. 

It’s a small lot, aesthetically unified by the red lava rock underfoot and mulching all the plant pots, and the pots themselves almost entirely good old red clay, the best thing for succulents.  

The Jungle’s proprietors, Peter Lipson and Hap Hollibaugh, have been raising succulents 20-some years. 

Besides this retail spot, they install succulent gardens, including rooftop oases. They’re also turtle fanciers, so of course they’re good people.  

One neat innovation here is the collection of landscaping succulents, blabla and blabla and such, intended as groundcover and garden plants and sold in sixpacks—not your average sixpacks, but plantable dissolving peat pots in little wooden crates, as sets or mix-and-match. Ecogroovy and handsome besides.  

They have a little greenhouse of succulent houseplants, too: tillandsias and sanseverias and a stapelia like my own obnoxious office pet. 

(That’s the starfish or carrion flower, several inches across, hairy, and scented like rotting meat. Which reminds me: don’t dare use “kinky” around me as a put-down.) Also a select few grasses, bamboos, and other congenial perennials.  

Pots, fertilizers, remedies, accessories, and tools, too—the last from The Rumford Gardener, a British company whose products include a favorite of mine, a simple rounded, laterally curved piece of metal with great utility in small spaces.  

 

 

 


Arts & Events

Arts Calendar

Tuesday June 20, 2006

TUESDAY, JUNE 20 

CHILDREN 

Traditional Chinese Instruments Music and demonstrations with Mandy Cheung at 7 p.m. at the Albany Library, 1247 Marin Ave. 526-3720, ext. 17. 

THEATER 

“Bigger Than Jesus” Rick Miller’s one-man show at 8 p.m. through Fri. and Sat. at 2 and 8 p.m. at Zellerbach Playhouse, UC Campus. Tickets are $30. 642-9988. 

FILM 

Against Indifference: The Cinema of Krzysztof Kieslowski Personnel and Final Documentary Shorts at 7:30 p.m. at the Pacific Film Archive. Cost is $4-$8. 642-0808.  

MUSIC AND DANCE 

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

Michael Coleman Trio Jazz Jam at 8 p.m. at the Uptown Nightclub, 1928 Telegraph, Oakland. Bring your instrument. 451-8100.  

Javon Jackson Quartet at 8 and 10 p.m. Yoshi’s at Jack London Square. Cost is $10-$16. 238-9200. 

Mal Sharpe, jazz, at 7 p.m. at Caffe Trieste, 2500 San Pablo Ave., at Dwight. 548-5198.  

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

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 21 

FILM 

“Under Ten” short films under 10 minutes at 9 p.m. at Rock Paper Scissors Collective, 2278 Telegraph Ave., Oakland. 238-9171. 

International Latino Film Festival “Tijuana Jews,” “Jai,” and “Deep Sea” at 7 p.m. at La Peña. Cost is $5-$6. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

Against Indifference: The Cinema of Krzysztof Kieslowski “the Scar” at 7:30 p.m. at the Pacific Film Archive. Cost is $4-$8. 642-0808.  

READINGS AND LECTURES 

Kathleen Cleaver describes “Target Zero: A Life in Writing by Eldridge Cleaver” at 7:30 p.m. at First Congregational Church of Berkeley, 2345 Channing Way. www.codysbooks.com 

Gary Younge, columnist for the London Guardian on his new book “Stranger in a Strange Land: Encounters in the Disunited States” at 6 p.m. at Oakland Public Library, AMHL Dept., 125 14th St. 238-3134. 

Victor Navasky reads from “A Matter of Opinion” at 7:30 p.m. at Black Oak Books. 486-0698. www.blackoakbooks.com 

MUSIC AND DANCE 

Garden of Memory Summer Solstice Concert with Terry Riley, Paul Dresher, Pamela Z, Matmos, Ellen Fullman, and others at 5 p.m. at Chapel of the Chimes, 4499 Piedmont Ave., Oakland. Donation $5-$10. 415- 563-6355, ext. 3. 

Berkeley Symphony Orchestra with Jane Eaglen, soprano, at 8 p.m. at Zellerbach Hall, UC Campus. Tickets are $10-$54. 841-2800. www.berkeleysymphony.org 

Roy Zimmerman in “Faulty Intelligence” An evening of satirical songs, Wed.-Fri. at 8 p.m. at The Marsh Berkeley, 2118 Allston Way, through July 27. 800-838-3006.  

Al Raja Palestinian Folkloric Dance Troupe at 7:30 p.m. at Julia Morgan Center for the Arts, 2640 College Ave. Tickets are $5-$15. 677-6247.  

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

Orquestra Candela at 8 p.m. at Shattuck Down Low. Cost is $5-$10. 548-1159.  

Chocolate O’Brian at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 848-8277. 

Ugly Beauty at 8:30 p.m. at the Uptown Nightclub, 1928 Telegraph, Oakland. Cost is $5. 451-8100. www.uptownnightclub.com 

The Websters & Scott Nygaard at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $18.50-$19.50. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 

Whisky Brothers at 9 p.m. at Albatross, 1822 San Pablo Ave. 843-2473. www.albatrosspub.com 

Javon Jackson Quartet at 8 and 10 p.m. Yoshi’s at Jack London Square. Cost is $10-$16. 238-9200. www.yoshis.com 

THURSDAY, JUNE 22 

EXHIBITIONS 

“XTOWN2NE” (cross-town-toon): Comic Book Art & Cartoons. Reception at 5:30 p.m. at The NIAD Art Center, 551 23rd St., Richmond. Exhibit runs to July 28. 620-0290. www.niadart.org 

FILM 

“Under Ten” short films under 10 minutes at 9 p.m. at Rock Paper Scissors Collective, 2278 Telegraph Ave. Oakland. 238-9171. 

Isabelle Huppert: Passion and Contradiction “The Piano Teacher” at 7:30 p.m. at the Pacific Film Archive. Cost is $4-$8. 642-0808. www.bampfa.berkeley.edu 

READINGS AND LECTURES 

Stewart Florsheim reads from his book of poetry, “The Short Fall From Grace” at 7:30 p.m at Mrs. Dalloway’s Literary and Garden Arts, 2904 College Ave. 704-8222. 

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

Estelle Frankel reads from “Jewish Spiritual Teachings on Emotional Healing and Inner Wellness” at 7:30 p.m. at the BRJCC, 1414 Walnut St. Cost is $10-$20, benefits Aquarian Minyan. 465-3935. 

Phyllis Stowell reads from “Arc of Grief” at 7:30 p.m. at Black Oak Books. 486-0698. www.blackoakbooks.com 

MUSIC AND DANCE 

Roy Zimmerman in “Faulty Intelligence” An evening of satirical songs, Wed.-Fri. at 8 p.m. at The Marsh Berkeley, 2118 Allston Way. 800-838-3006. www.themarsh.org  

John Richardson Band at 9 p.m. at Cafe Van Kleef, 1621 Telegraph, Oakland. 

Adrienne Young & Little Sadie at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $17.50-$18.50. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 

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

The Crooked Jades, Virgil Shaw at 9:30 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $10. 841-2082 www.starryploughpub.com 

Akosua, West African and Latin fusion, at 8 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $8-$10. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

Kenny Garrett at 8 and 10 p.m., through Sun. at Yoshi’s at Jack London Square. Cost is $10-$22. 238-9200. www.yoshis.com 

Warsaw Poland Brothers at 9 p.m. at the Uptown Nightclub, 1928 Telegraph, Oakland. Cost is $8. 451-8100. www.uptownnightclub.com 

FRIDAY, JUNE 23 

THEATER 

Aurora Theatre “Permanent Collection” Wed.-Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 2 and 7 p.m. at 2081 Addison St., through July 23. Tickets are $28-$45. 843-4822. www.auroratheatere.org 

“Bigger Than Jesus” Rick Miller’s one-man show at 8 p.m. and Sat. at 2 and 8 p.m. at Zellerbach Playhouse, UC Campus. Tickets are $30. 642-9988. 

Berkeley Rep “The Miser” at 8 p.m. at the Roda Theater, 2015 Addison St. Tickets are $53. Runs through June 25. 647-2949. www.berkeleyrep.org 

California Shakespeare Theater “The Merry Wives of Windsor” at the Bruns Amphitheater, 100 Gateway Blvd., Orinda. Tues.-Thurs., 7:30 p.m., Fri.-Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 4 p.m. through June 25. Tickets are $15 and up. 548-9666. www.calshakes.org 

Central Works “The Inspector General” a new comedy, Thurs., Fri., and Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 5 p.m. at the Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant Ave., through July 30. Tickets are $9-$25. 558-1381. 

Crowded Fire Theater Company “We Are Not These Hands” a comedy about the friendship between two teenaged girls in a fictional third-world nation, Thurs.-Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 7 p.m. through July 16 at The Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby Ave. Tickets are $10- $20. www.crowdedfire.org 

Masquers Playhouse “The Fantasticks” Fri. and Sat. at 8 p.m. Sunday Matinees at 2:30 pm on June 25, July 2, 9, 16. at 105 Park Place, Point Richmond, through July 22. Tickets are $18. 232-4031. www.masquers.org 

Pinole Community Players “Oliver!” the musical, Fri. and Sat. at 8 p.m., selected Sun. at 2 p.m., at the Community Playhouse, 601 Tennent Ave., Pinole, through July 15. Tickets are $14-$17. 724-3669, 223-3598.  

TheatreFirst Staged readings of four plays under consideration for next season, Fri. and Sat. at 8 p.m. at at 469 9th St., Oakland. Free. 436-5085. 

FILM 

Isabelle Huppert: Passion and Contradiction “Malina” at 7 p.m. and “The Trout” at 9:25 p.m. at the Pacific Film Archive. Cost is $4-$8. 642-0808.  

READINGS AND LECTURES 

Davy and Peter Rothbart introduce “Found II” at 8 p.m. at Pegasus Books Downtown, 2349 Shattuck Ave. 649-1320. 

MUSIC AND DANCE 

Roy Zimmerman in “Faulty Intelli gence” An evening of satirical songs, Wed.-Fri. at 8 p.m. at The Marsh Berkeley, 2118 Allston Way. 800-838-3006. www.themarsh.org  

Pellejo Seco, Cuban son, at 9 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $12. 849-2568.  

Jessica Jones Quartet at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $7. 841-JAZZ. www.AnnasJazzIsland.com 

Tim O’Brien at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $24.50-$25.50. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 

David Gans, Mario DeSio and Jeff Pehrson at 7:30 p.m. at Nomad Cafe, 6500 Shattuck Ave. 595-5344. www.nomadcafe.net 

The Girlfriend Experience, Machine Green, Tokyo Decadence at 9:30 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $6. 841-2082. www.starryploughpub.com 

“Listen” recordings by contempory sound makers at 8 p.m. at Studio Rasa, 933 Parker St. Tickets are $10-$18. 843-2787. 

Blanks 77, Hellbillies, Ashtray, Peligro Social at 8 p.m. at 924 Gilman St., an all-ages, member-run, no alcohol, no drugs, no violence club. Cost is $7. 525-9926. 

Hyim & The Fat Foakland Orchestra at 9 p.m. at Shattuck Down Low. Cost is $5. 548-1159.  

Du Uy Quintet at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 848-8277. 

Mike Marshall, Angel of Thorns, The Brod Rob Experience at 9 p.m. at the Uptown Nightclub, 1928 Telegraph, Oakland. Cost is $10. 451-8100. www.uptownnightclub.com 

Kenny Garrett at 8 and 10 p.m., through Sun. at Yoshi’s at Jack London Square. Cost is $10-$22. 238-9200. www.yoshis.com 

SATURDAY, JUNE 24 

FILM 

Isabelle Huppert: Passion and Contradiction “Merci pour le chocolat” at 6:30 p.m. and “Violette Nozière” at 8:30 p.m. at the Pacific Film Archive. Cost is $4-$8. 642-0808. www.bampfa.berkeley.edu 

READINGS AND LECTURES 

Rhythm & Muse will host an appreciation and fundraising night for the Berkeley Art Center, which is in jeopardy of closing its doors due to the cumulative effects of funding cuts by the City of Berkeley over the past three years. Open mic sign up at 6:30 p.m., reading at 7 p.m. at Berkeley Art Center, 1275 Walnut St., between Eunice & Rose Sts. 644-6893. 

MUSIC AND DANCE 

Summer Solstice Celebration in Oakland’s Laurel neighborhood with over 50 musical groups performing from 3 to 7 p.m. at MacArthur Blvd. and 38th Ave. 531-1499. 

Hal Stein Quartet at 4 p.m. at 4024 MacArthur Blvd. Free. 

“Praise Him in Song” Gospel Concert at 5 p.m. at Linen Life, 1375 Park Ave., Emeryville. tickets are $20-$25. 776-8222. 

“Stand Still” with Gospel soloist Yvonne Cobbs-Bey, at 7:30 p.m. at Harmony Missionary Baptist Church, 4113 Telegraph Ave. at 41st St., Oakland.  

Dance in the Key to Life Dance from Hawai'i, Tahiti, North India, Zimbabwe, New Zealand, and West Africa at 8 p.m. at Regent’s Theater, Holy Names University, 3500 Mountain Blvd., Oakland. Tickets are $25. 925-798-1300. 

Company of Prophets, AIDS Awareness and hip hop show, at 8 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $8-$10. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

Khalil Shaheed/Yasir Chadley Quartet at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $10. 841-JAZZ. www.AnnasJazzIsland.com 

Rick DiDia and Nate Cooper at 7:30 p.m. at Nomad Cafe, 6500 Shattuck Ave. 595-5344. www.nomadcafe.net 

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

Sister Farmers Big Machine at 9 p.m. at Blakes on Telegraph. Cost is $8-$10. 848-0886. www.blakesontelegraph.com 

Eric Muhler, solo piano, at 9 p.m. at Downtown. 649-3810.  

Santa Diabo, Project Greenfield, Mission Players at 9 p.m. at the Uptown Nightclub, 1928 Telegraph, Oakland. Cost is $8. 451-8100. www.uptownnightclub.com 

Jagadambe, part of the Kirtan devotional music series at 7 p.m. at Studio Rasa, 933 Parker St. Tickets are $15-$18. 843-2787. 

The Devil Makes Three, The Blue Roots at 9:30 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $8. 841-2082. www.starryploughpub.com 

A Night of Voices, stories by Matt Holdaway and music by The Isabellas, Kou Chen, at 5 p.m., and Slydini at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 848-8277. 

SUNDAY, JUNE 25 

EXHIBITIONS 

“Inner Visions” Abstract paintings by Judy Levit and Susan Hall. Reception from 4 to 6 p.m. in the Foyer Gallery of the Albany Community Center, 1249 Marin Ave.  

FILM 

Isabelle Huppert: Passion and Contradiction “Saint-Cyr” at 3 p.m. and “Coup de torchon” at 5:30 p.m. at the Pacific Film Archive. 642-0808.  

READINGS AND LECTURES 

PEN Oakland Poetry Benefit “Words Upon the Waters” to benefit Centers for Independent Living in Mississippi, at 3 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. 841-JAZZ.  

Reading for Two Late Barbarian Poets: Eli Copolla and David Lerner at 7:30 p.m. at Moe’s Books, 2476 Telegraph Ave. 849-2087. 

Eric Dinerstein talks about “Tigerland and Other Unintended Destinations” at 7:30 p.m. at Black Oak Books. 486-0698. www.blackoakbooks.com 

MUSIC AND DANCE 

Friends of Negro Spirituals Bay Area Negro Spirituals Heritage Day at 3:30 p.m. at the West Oakland Senior Center, 1724 Adeline St., Oakland. 869-4359. 

Mozart in the Garden preview concert for the Midsummer Mozart Festival in the East Bay Hills. Tickets are $65. 415-627-9141. 

Kalanjali: Dances of India at 1 p.m. at Julia Morgan Center for the Arts, 2640 College Ave. Free. www.juliamorgan.org 

Brazilian Soul Quartet at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $10. 841-JAZZ. www.AnnasJazzIsland.com 

Americana Unplugged: Homespun Rowdy at 5 p.m. at Jupiter. 655-5715. 

Pat Ryan’s Celtic Junket at 11 a.m. at Nomad Cafe, 6500 Shattuck Ave. 595-5344. www.nomadcafe.net 

Jessica Neighbor Quartet at 8 p.m. at Downtown. 649-3810.  

MONDAY, JUNE 26 

READINGS AND LECTURES 

“New Writing by Women of the Iranian Diaspora” at 7 p.m. at Cody’s Books on Fourth St. 559-9500. www.codysbooks.com 

Amy Spade and Owen Hill read at 7:30 p.m. at Moe’s Books, 2476 Telegraph Ave. 849-2087. 

Poetry Express open mic on “The Blues” at 7 p.m. at Priya Restaurant, 2072 San Pablo Ave. berkeleypoetryexpress@yahoo.com 

MUSIC AND DANCE 

Blue Monday Jam at 8 p.m. at the Uptown Nightclub, 1928 Telegraph, Oakland. Cost is $5. 451-8100. www.uptownnightclub.com 

Bruce & Matt, traditional Italian music, at 7 p.m. at Caffe Trieste, 2500 San Pablo Ave., at Dwight. 548-5198.  

Jake Shimabukuro at 8 and 10 p.m. at Yoshi’s at Jack London Square. Cost is $8-$12. 238-9200. www.yoshis.com  

TUESDAY, JUNE 27 

CHILDREN 

Gretchen Woefle reads from her book “Animal Families, Animal Friends” as part of the Kensington Library’s Summer Reading Program at 7 p.m. at 61 Arlington Ave., Kensington. 524-3043. 

Puppet Company “Fantasy on Strings” a magical excursion with a variety of 3 feet tall, fully articulated marionettes at 7 p.m. at The Albany Library, 1247 Marin Ave. 526-3720, ext. 17. 

FILM 

Against Indifference: The Cinema of Krzysztof Kieslowski “No End” at 7:30 p.m. at the Pacific Film Archive. Cost is $4-$8. 642-0808. www.bampfa.berkeley.edu 

READINGS AND LECTURES 

Belinda Rathbone reads from “The Guynd: A Scottish Journal” at 7:30 p.m at Mrs. Dalloway’s Literary and Garden Arts, 2904 College Ave. 704-8222. 

MUSIC AND DANCE 

Golden Gate International Childrens’ Choral Festival at 3 p.m. at the Mormon Interstake Center, Oakland. 547-4441. 

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

Michael Coleman Trio Jazz Jam at 8 p.m. at the Uptown Nightclub, 1928 Telegraph, Oakland. Bring your instrument. 451-8100. www.uptownnightclub.com 

Randy Craig Trio, jazz, at 7:30 p.m. at Caffe Trieste, 2500 San Pablo Ave., at Dwight. 548-5198.  

Chris Chandler and David Roe House Concert at 7 p.m. at 1609 Woolsey St. 649-1423. 

Zemog El Gallo Bueno at 8 and 10 p.m. at Yoshi’s at Jack London Square. Cost is $10-$16. 238-9200. www.yoshis.com 

Jazzschool Tuesdays, a weekly showcase of up-and-coming ensembles from Berkeley Jazzschool at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 848-8277. 

 

 


At the Theater: Zimmerman’s One-Man Satiric Show at The Marsh

By Ken Bullock, Special to the Planet
Tuesday June 20, 2006

Satiric singer/songwriter Roy Zimmerman returns to Berkeley at The Marsh with a new show, Faulty Intelligence, opening Wednesday. 

“I hope it gets good reviews,” Zimmerman quipped, “but mostly I hope it gets denied under oath by Karl Rove.” 

Zimmerman, who’s been called “a latter-day Tom Lehrer” by the LA Times, seems to strike a bargain between cabaret (out of Tin Pan Alley and Broadway) and the legacy of protest folksinging. 

With numbers like “Jerry Falwell’s God,” “Creation Science 101” and a paean to Dick Cheney as the sexiest man alive, Zimmerman’s playlist shows he certainly wears his spleen on his sleeve. 

He said he is delighted to be compared to Lehrer, the Cambridge, Mass., math professor and ’60s wit. 

“His records were like contraband when I was a teenager,” Zimmerman joked, “like they should be smoked in some out-of-the-way spot. My older brothers and their friends had them, and they weren’t only funny but I learned a lot.” 

These days the two sardonic songsmiths talk “a couple times a year” on the phone, “just to stay current,” Zimmerman said. He also remarked that Lehrer quit his second career as satirist when Henry Kissinger was awarded the Nobel Prize. 

“He knew he couldn’t write anything funnier than that,” Zimmerman said. 

Zimmerman has played with bands for a good deal of his 20-year songwriting career; among those bands was The Foreman, the satirical folk quartet that toured during the ’90s and recorded for Warner Reprise, once playing a series of shows swapping songs with The Pixies’ ex-front man Frank Black. Zimmerman remarks that he has always “related to social songwriting” though “there’s not much tradition these days.” 

Keeping one ear open to the “really constructed mastery” of Lehrer and the Tin Pan Alley-Broadway lineage of Cole Porter and Lorenz Hart, and the other to “the more free-form” style of protest and folksong (Pete Seeger and Phil Ochs), Zimmerman said he aims at a contemporary satiric style. 

Zimmerman and his family just moved back to the Bay Area, where he grew up, and he says he’s excited to perform to Berkeley audiences. 

“Berkeley’s reputation for social protest is on my mind,” he said. “I remember the sense of glamor of the antiwar protests—I was too young to join in, watching from the safe distance of Sunnyvale. Of course, that glamor was deceptive. Real social change, the struggle for justice is work, not just music festivals.” 

 

FAULTY INTELLIGENCE 

June 21-July 27 at The Marsh Berkeley in the Gaia Arts Center, 2118 Allston Way.  

For more information, see www.themarsh.org or call (800) 838-3006.


The Nature of the Cricket and Other Loose Ends

By Joe Eaton, Special to the Planet
Tuesday June 20, 2006

I’m always a little startled when I get a response to one of these pieces. Sometimes it’s about something that requires correction, like the incident of the owl in the Embarcadero BART station. Other comments call for amplification. 

A while back, in a column about Jerusalem crickets, I mentioned that I had no idea how these alarming-looking insects got their name. All the known species are North American natives, with no historical association with the Middle East. 

Then David B. Weissman, who studies Jerusalem crickets at the California Academy of Sciences, sent me a copy of an article in which he addresses that question. He looks at several alternative theories and comes to a conclusion that, while admittedly speculative, makes sense to me. 

The first few scientific descriptions of these insects either used no common names or translated local Spanish or Indian names, like “child of the earth.” “Jerusalem cricket” first appears (without explanation) in a paper by entomologist Vernon Kellogg in 1905, and UC Berkeley’s E.O. Essig employed the name in 1913.  

In a popular article in Pacific Discovery, predecessor of the late lamented California Wild, in 1971, N. W. Baker conjectured that a Jerusalem cricket viewed from above in its normal resting position “resembles a Jerusalem Cross, an angled cross with short bars across the ends, these short bars represented in the cricket by the long spines above the tarsi [hind legs].” Weissman didn’t find this at all convincing, nor do I.  

Weissman wrote to several senior entomologists for their interpretations. Keith Kevan suggested that the name came from the insect’s tendency to feed on roots and tubers, the source of another common monicker, “potato bug.” Maybe it was regarded at some point as a pest on Jerusalem artichokes, AKA sunchokes. The “Jerusalem” in the plant’s name is a corruption of the Italian girasole, meaning “turning to the sun,” for the heliotropism it shares with other sunflowers. But this turns out to be another appealing theory destroyed by an inconvenient fact: the ranges of Jerusalem artichokes and Jerusalem crickets don’t overlap. The crickets occur in the arid West, the chokes originally in the Northeast. 

The version Weissman gives the most weight to comes from Richard L. Doutt, who pointed out that “Jerusalem” was in common use in the 19th century as a mild epithet (perhaps about the intensity level of “Holy cow”), usually indicating surprise. Doutt envisions a young western farm boy turning over a rock to reveal a large and ominous insect and exclaiming “Jerusalem! What a cricket!” 

This wouldn’t be the first time an expression of surprise got attached to an animal. One of the local names for the ivory-billed woodpecker was “Lord God,” which is what people tended to say when this duck-sized bird burst out of the deep timber. 

 

Another response, this time from a friend, involved the column about the steelhead in Codornices Creek in which I regretted the absence of eels in California. What about the Native American eel fishery on the Klamath River, he wanted to know. For that matter, what about the Eel River itself? 

Good question. But those weren’t eels, strictly speaking. They were lampreys. In his Handbook of the Indians of California, A. L. Kroeber refers to the “lampreys, also known as eels, much prized by the Yurok for their rich greasiness,” and adds that the Yurok caught them in nets and pots as they swam up the Klamath to spawn. The Eel River tribes were also avid lamprey fishers. There were separate spring and fall runs in both rivers; on the Klamath, the river eddies where lampreys were taken were individually owned. Like salmon, the lampreys were split and smoked for storage.  

Lampreys may be eel-shaped, but they’re something else entirely—survivors, along with the hagfish, of one of the earliest groups of vertebrates. They lack jaws and paired fins, have cartilaginous skeletons, a notochord (the precursor to 

the vertebrate backbone), and only one nostril. And their brains are small, even for fish.  

Most lamprey species are anadromous, like salmon, steelhead, and sturgeon: spending most of their lives at sea, returning to their natal streams to spawn. They typically prey on other fish by attaching to the victim’s side with their suckerlike mouth, rasping a hole with their sharp tongue, and sucking their host’s blood and body fluids. But a few California lampreys, like the rare Kern brook lamprey, spend their entire lives in freshwater where the larvae feed on algae and detritus and the adults don’t eat at all. 

In addition to the North Coast tribes, Europeans have prized lampreys at various times and places: they figure in Portuguese, Galician, Bordelaise, and Finnish cuisine. And seafood scholar Alan Davidson notes that the city of Gloucester gave Elizabeth II a lamprey pie to commemorate her jubilee in 1977. I hope it didn’t go to waste.  

The absence of true eels in California remains a mystery. East Asia has them, and eastern North America and western Europe. As a unagi fan, I feel somewhat cheated. 

 

Photograph by Robyn Waayers. 


Berkeley This Week

Tuesday June 20, 2006

TUESDAY, JUNE 20 

Tuesday Twighlights Enjoy a stunning sunset and a five-mile hike over varied terrain. Meet at 6:30 p.m. at the Canyon meadow staging area, Redwood Regional Park. Bring a jacket, water and a flashlight. 525-2233. 

Berkeley East-Bay Humane Society Blood Drive for the American Red Cross at 9th and Carleton. To schedule an appointment see www.beadonor.com (sponsor code HUMANESOCIETY) or call 1-800-448-3543. 

Introduction to Storytelling Class meets Tues. from 7 to 8:30 p.m. for four weeks at Arts First Oakland, 2501 Harrison St., Oakland. Cost is $20 for the series. To register call 444-4755. www.stagebridge.org 

Stress Less Seminar at 7 p.m. at New Moon Opportunities, 378 Jayne Ave., Oakland. Free, but registration required. 465-2524. 

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. www.berkeleycameraclub.org 

St. John’s Prime Timers meets at 9:30 a.m. at St. John’s Presbyterian Church, 2727 College Ave. We always welcome new members over 50. 845-6830. 

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 21  

Summer Solstice Gathering at 7:30 p.m. at the Interim Solar Calendar, Cesar Chavez Park Berkeley Marina. Bring your questions about the workings of sun, earth and moon, and the meaning of the seasons. Workshop led by Tory Brady, Exploratorium Teacher Institute. www.solarcalendar.org 

“Stranger in a Strange Land: Encounters in the Disunited States” with Gary Younge, columnist for the London Guardian, at 6 p.m. at Oakland Public Library, AMHL Dept., 125 14th St. 238-3134. 

“New to DVD” A screening of “Syriana” at 7 p.m. at BRJCC, 1414 Walnut St. 848-0237. 

“The Corporation” award-winning documentary by Mark Achbar on the rise of the dominant institution of our time, at 7:30 p.m. at Humanist Hall, 390 27th St., Oakland. Donations of $5 accepted. www.HumanistHall.net 

Diversity Film “Raising Teens” A documentary about teens of gay parents at 6:30 p.m. followed by discussion at Ellen Driscoll Auditorium, Frank Havens School, 325 Highland Ave., Piedmont. Free. 655-5552. 

“Is Iran Next?” with Ali Mirabdal of Iranian-American Community of Northern California at 7 p.m. at Berkeley Gray Panthers Office, 1403 Addison St. 548-9696.  

Walking Tour of Historic Oakland Churches and Temples Meet at 10 a.m. at the front of the First Presbyterian Church at 2619 Broadway. Tour lasts 90 minutes. Reservations can be made by calling 238-3234. www.oaklandnet.com/ 

walkingtours 

“Girl, I’ve Been Through A Lot...” Poetry workshop for girls age 13 to 17 at 4 p.m. at Oakland Public Library, Room 219, 125 14th St. 238-3134. 

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. 

“Hormone Disruptors: Is your environment making you ill?” at 7 p.m. at The Teleosis Institute, 1521 5th St., Upstairs Unit B. Cost is $5-$10. Reservations required. 558-7285. 

The Berkeley Lawn Bowling Club provides free instruction every Wed. and Sat. at 10:30 a.m. at 2270 Acton St. 841-2174.  

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.  

Berkeley Peace Walk and Vigil at 6:30 p.m. followed by Peace Walk at 7 p.m. www.geocities.com/vigil4peace/vigil 

THURSDAY, JUNE 22 

Landmarks Preservation Ordinance Proposed Revisions will be discussed at a special meeting of the Landmarks Preservation Commission at 7:30 p.m. at the North Berkeley Senior Center. 981-7484. 

Summer Solstice for Children Make musical instruments, paint with fairy dust, play games, dance, sing, and listen to stories from 3 to 7 p.m. at Habitot, 2065 Kittredge St. 647-1111. 

Easy Does It Disability Assistance meets at 6:30 p.m. at 1744A University Ave., behind the Lutheran Church. 845-5513. 

“Good Green Kitchens” with author Jennifer Roberts at 7:30 p.m. at Builders Booksource, 1817 Fourth St. 800-843-2028. 

Sacred Therapy: Jewish Spiritual Teachings on Emotional Healing and Inner Wholeness with Estelle Frankel at 7:30 p.m. at BRJCC, 1414 Walnut St. Cost is $10-$20. 465-3935. 

“Veterans Benefits for Assisted Living” an informational presentation at 2 p.m. at The Berkshire, 2235 Sacramento St. 841-4844. 

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

FRIDAY, JUNE 23 

Reduced City Services Today Call ahead to ensure programs or services you desire will be available. 981-CITY. www.cityofberkeley.info 

Impeachment Banner Fridays at 6:45 to 8 a.m. on the Berkeley Pedestrian bridge between Seabreeze Market and the Berkeley Aquatic Park, ongoing on Fridays until impeachment is realized. www. Impeachbush-cheney.com 

City Commons Club Noon Luncheon with Andy Ross, owner of Cody’s Books, on “Can the Independent Local Bookstore Survive in Berkeley?” 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.  

Ecocity Report from New Orleans at 7 p.m. at the Ecology Center, 2530 San Pablo Ave., near Dwight Way. Cost is $10 but no one turned away for lack of funds. 548-2220. 

East Bay Animal Advocates’ Dairy Documentary at 7:30 p.m. at Humanist Hall, 390 27th St., Oakland. Donations of $5 accepted. 

Moving Mom and Dad with Donna Robins on finding the right retirement community at 7 p.m. at the North Berkeley Senior Center. 981-5190.  

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, JUNE 24 

Open the Little Farm Feed the goats, collect some eggs, hold a bunny and meet our new calves at 9 a.m. at the Little Farm, Tilden Park. 525-2233. 

A Visit with a Guide Dog at 2 p.m. at Kensington Library, 61 Arlington Ave., Kensington. Sponsored by Guide Dogs for the Blind of Marin. 524-3043. 

Challenge Hike on Sobrante Ridge Explore a fragile ecosystem and a small forest of rare manzanita on this 3-mile hike with some hills. Meet at 10 a.m. at the staging are at the end of Coach Drive, El Sobrante. For ages 10 and up. 525-2233. 

Outdoor Art Learn how to make a natural mural at 11 a.m. at Tilden Nature Center, Tilden Park. Cost is $3. 525-2233. 

Walking Tour of Old Oakland “New Era/New Politics” highlights African-American leaders who have made their mark on Oakland. Meet at 10 a.m. and the African American Museum and Library at 659 14th St. 238-3234. www.oaklandnet.com/walkingtours 

Carribean American Heritage Commemoration at 10 a.m. at Frank Ogawa Plaza, 14th and Broadway, Oakland. 599-1645. 

Re-Fresh Festival A community celebration of creative re-use and recycling from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 9235 San Leandro St., Oakland. 638-7600. www.svdp-alameda.org 

Family Origami Craft Day from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Albany Library, 1247 Marin Ave. Free. 526-3720, ext. 17. 

Buddhist Temple of Alameda Bazaar, Sat. from 4 to 9 p.m. and Sun. from noon to 8 p.m. at 2325 Pacific Avenue, Alameda. 

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 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Lutheran Church, 1744 University Ave. 666-9552. 

SUNDAY, JUNE 25 

Brooks Island Voyage Paddle the rising tide across the Richmond Harbor Channel to Brooks Island from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. For experienced boaters who can provide their own canoe or kayak and safety gear. For ages 14 and up with parent participation. Cost is $20-$22. Registration required. 636-1684. 

Teach Your Dog to Walk Without Pulling from 3 to 4 p.m. at Grace North Church, 2128 Cedar St. To register call 849-9323. companyofdogs.com  

Epic Arts BBQ and Open House from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. 644-2204, ext. 12. 

Berkeley City Club free tour from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Tours are sponsored by the Berkeley City Club and the Landmark Heritage Foundation. 2315 Durant Ave. 848-7800 or 883-9710. 

Berkeley Cybersalon “Mommies Online: Another Feminist Revolution?” at 5 p.m. at the Hillside Club, 2286 Cedar St. Coat is $10. 527-0450. 

Sunday Summer Forum: Towards a More Just World with Dr. Theodore Rosak at 9:30 a.m. at Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley, 1 Lawson Rd., Kensington. 525-0302. 

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

Tibetan Buddhism Panel on “Memories of the World Peace Ceremony” at 6 p.m. at the Tibetan Nyingma Institute, 1815 Highland Pl. 843-6812.  

MONDAY, JUNE 26 

Healthy Eating Habits Seminar at 7 p.m. at New Moon Opportunities, 378 Jayne Ave., Oakland. Free, but registration required. 465-2524. 

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

TUESDAY, JUNE 27 

Raging Grannies of the East Bay invites new folks to come join us 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. 

Great Weekend Camping Trips A slide presentation with Matt Heid at 7 p.m. at REI, 1338 San Pablo Ave. 527-4140. 

Red Cross Blood Drive from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. East Pauley Ballroom, MLK Student Union, 3rd floor, UC Campus. To make an appointment call 1-800-GIVE-LIFE. www.BeADonor.com  

PC Users meets at 7 p.m. at 1145 Walnut St. near the corner of Eunice. 

Stress Less Seminar at 7 p.m. at New Moon Opportunities, 378 Jayne Ave., Oakland. Free, but registration required. 465-2524. 

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

St. John’s Prime Timers meets at 9:30 a.m. at St. John’s Presbyterian Church, 2727 College Ave. We always welcome new members over 50. 845-6830. 

CITY MEETINGS 

Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board meets Mon., June 19, at 7 p.m. in City Council Chambers, Pam Wyche, 644-6128 ext. 113.  

City Council meets Tues., June 20, at 7 p.m in City Council Chambers. 981-6900.  

Berkeley Unified School Board meets Wed., June 21, at 7:30 p.m., in the City Council Chambers. Mark Coplan 644-6320. 

Citizens Humane Commission meets Wed., June 21, at 7 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center. Katherine O’Connor, 981-6601.  

Commission on Aging meets Wed., June 21, at 1:30 p.m., at the South Berkeley Senior Center. William Rogers, 981-5344.  

Downtown Area Plan Advisory Commission meets Wed. June 21, at 7 p.m. at the North Berkeley Senior Center. 981-7487. 

Library Board of Trustees meets Wed., June 21, at 7 p.m. at South Berkeley Senior Center. 981-6195.  

Landmarks Preservation Commission Special Meeting to discuss proposed revisions to the Landmarks Preservation Ordinance, Thurs. June 22, at 7:30 p.m. at the North Berkeley Senior Center. 981-7484. 

Zoning Adjustments Board meets Thurs., June 22, at 7 p.m., in City Council Chambers. Mark Rhoades, 981-7410.  

 

Ecocity Report from New Orleans at 7 p.m. at the Ecology Center, 2530 San Pablo Ave., near Dwight Way. COs tis $10, but no one turned away for lack of funds. 548-2220.  

East Bay Animal Advocates’ Dairy Documentary at 7:30 p.m. at Humanist Hall, 390 27th St., Oakland. Donations of $5 accepted. 

Moving Mom and Dad with Donna Robins on finding the right retirement community at 7 p.m. at the North Berkeley Senior Center. 981-5190.  

Historical & Current Times Book Group meets on Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Albany Library, 1249 Marin Ave. 548-4517. 

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, JUNE 24 

Open the Little Farm Feed the goats, collect some eggs, hold a bunny and meet our new calves at 9 a.m. at the Little Farm, Tilden Park. 525-2233. 

A Visit with a Guide Dog at 2 p.m. at Kensington Library, 61 Arlington Ave., Kensington. Sponsored by Guide Dogs for the Blind of Marin. 524-3043. 

Challenge Hike on Sobrante Ridge Explore a fragile ecosystem and a small forest of rare manzanita on this 3-mile hike with some hills. Meet at 10 a.m. at the staging are at the end of Coach Drive, El Sobrante. For ages 10 and up. 525-2233. 

Outdoor Art Learn how to make a natural mural at 11 a.m. at Tilden Nature Center, Tilden Park. Cost is $3. 525-2233. 

Walking Tour of Old Oakland “New Era/New Politics” highlights African-American leaders who have made their mark on Oakland. Meet at 10 a.m. and the African American Museum and Library at 659 14th St. 238-3234. www.oaklandnet.com/walkingtours 

Carribean American Heritage Commemoration at 10 a.m. at Frank Ogawa Plaza, 14th and Broadway, Oakland. 599-1645. 

Re-Fresh Festival A community celebration of creative re-use and recycling from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 9235 San Leandro St., Oakland. 638-7600. www.svdp-alameda.org 

FAmily Origami Craft Day Albany Library from 2 to 4 p.m. on June 24, 2006, and make an origami star at this free drop-in family craft event! 1247 Marin Ave. 526-3720 ext 17 

 

 

Buddhist Temple of Alameda celebrates annual Vacationland Bazaar, Sat. June 24 - 4 to 9, Sun. June 25 - noon to 8, at 2325 Pacific Avenue, Alameda. 

 

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, JUNE 25 

Brooks Island Voyage Paddle the rising tide across the Richmond Harbor Channel to Brooks Island from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. For experienced boaters who can provide their own canoe or kayak and safety gear. For ages 14 and up with parent participation. Cost is $20-$22. Registration required. 636-1684. 

SLOW DOWN! Workshop for teaching your dog to walk without pulling. Sunday, June 25, 3 - 4 PM, Grace North Church, 2128 Cedar St., Berkeley. Registration: companyofdogs.com or 849-9323 

 

Epic Arts BBQ and Open House from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. 644-2204, ext. 12. 

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

Sunday Summer Forum: Towards a More Just World with Dr. Theodore Rosak at 9:30 a.m. at Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley, 1 Lawson Rd., Kensington. 525-0302, ext. 306. 

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 Panel on “Memories of the World Peace Ceremony” at 6 p.m. at the Tibetan Nyingma Institute, 1815 Highland Pl. 843-6812. www.nyingmainstitute.com 

MONDAY, JUNE 26 

Healthy Eating Habits Seminar at 7 p.m. at New Moon Opportunities, 378 Jayne Ave., Oakland. Free, but registration required. 465-2524. 

 

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. 

TUESDAY, JUNE 27 

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(any voice will do), help plan our next gig, or write outrageously political lyrics to old familiar tunes, and have fun at Berkeley Gray Panthers office, 1403 Addison St., in Andronico’s mall. 548-9696. 

Great Weekend Camping Trips A slide presentation with Matt Heid at 7 p.m. at REI, 1338 San Pablo Ave. 527-4140. 

Red Cross Blood Drive from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. East Pauley Ballroom, MLK Student Union, 3rd floor, UC Campus. To make an appointment call 1-800-GIVE-LIFE. www.BeADonor.com  

PC Users meets at 7 p.m. at 1145 Walnut St. Near the corner of Eunice. 

Stress Less Seminar at 7 p.m. at New Moon Opportunities, 378 Jayne Ave., Oakland. Free, but registration required. 465-2524. 

 

Brainstormer Weekly Pub Quiz every Tuesday from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. at Pyramid Alehouse Brewery, 901 Gilman St. 528-9880. not in Dec. 

Berkeley Camera Club meets at 7:30 p.m., at the Northbrae Community Church, 941 The Alameda. Share your digital images, slides and prints and learn what other photographers are doing. Monthly field trips. 548-3991. www.berkeleycameraclub.org 

St. John’s Prime Timers meets at 9:30 a.m. at St. John’s Presbyterian Church, 2727 College Ave. We offer ongoing classes in exercise and creative arts, and always welcome new members over 50. 845-6830. 

 

CITY MEETINGS 

City Council meets Tues., June 20, at 7 p.m in City Council Chambers. 981-6900.  

Berkeley Unified School Board meets Wed., June 21, at 7:30 p.m., in the City Council Chambers. Mark Coplan 644-6320. 

Citizens Humane Commission meets Wed., June 21, at 7 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center. Katherine O’Connor, 981-6601.  

Commission on Aging meets Wed., June 21, at 1:30 p.m., at the South Berkeley Senior Center. William Rogers, 981-5344.  

Downtown Area Plan Advisory Commission meets Wed. June 21, at 7 p.m. at the North Berkeley Senior Center. 981-7487. 

Library Board of Trustees meets Wed., June 21, at 7 p.m. at South Berkeley Senior Center. 981-6195.  

Landmarks Preservation Commission Special Meeting to discuss proposed revisions to the Landmarks Preservation Ordinance, Thurs. June 22, at 7:30 p.m. at the North Berkeley Senior Center. 981-7484. 

Zoning Adjustments Board meets Thurs., June 22, at 7 p.m., in City Council Chambers. Mark Rhoades, 981-7410.  


Arts Calendar

Friday June 16, 2006

FRIDAY, JUNE 16 

THEATER 

Aurora Theatre “Permanent Collection” Wed.-Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 2 and 7 p.m. at 2081 Addison St., through July 23. Tickets are $28-$45. 843-4822. www.auroratheatere.org 

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.  

Berkeley Rep “The Miser” at 8 p.m. at the Roda Theater, 2015 Addison St. Tickets are $53. Runs through June 25. 647-2949. www.berkeleyrep.org 

California Shakespeare Theater “The Merry Wives of Windsor” at the Bruns Amphitheater, 100 Gateway Blvd., Orinda. Tues.-Thurs., 7:30 p.m., Fri.-Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 4 p.m. through June 25. Tickets are $15 and up. 548-9666.  

“Lily, The Felon’s Daughter” 19th Century fun, frolic and music, Fri. and Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 3 p.m., at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley, 1 Lawson Road, Kensington. Suggested donation is $20. 524-2912. www.uucb.org 

Masquers Playhouse “The Fantasticks” Fri. and Sat. at 8 p.m. at 105 Park Place, Point Richmond. Tickets are $18. 232-4031. www.masquers.org 

Pinole Community Players “Oliver!” the musical, Fri. and Sat. at 8 p.m., selected Sun. at 2 p.m., at the Community Playhouse, 601 Tennent Ave., Pinole, through July 15. Tickets are $14-$17. 724-3669, 223-3598.  

San Francisco Recovery Theatre “The Spot” A teenage couple’s lives change dramatically when she gets pregnant, at 8 p.m., Sat. at 2 and 8 p.m. at Live Oak Theater, 1301 Shattuck Ave. Tickets are $18. 1-866-468-3399, 650-438-3964. 

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 

TheatreFirst Staged readings of four plays under consideration for next season, Fri. and Sat. at 8 p.m. at at 469 9th St., Oakland. Free. 436-5085. 

EXHIBITIONS 

“Saccharine” Artwork by Jennifer Dranttel. Reception at 8 p.m. at The Living Room Gallery, 3230 Adeline St. Donation $5. 601-5774.  

FILM 

Isabelle Huppert: Passion and Contradiction “Every Man for Himself” at 7 p.m. and ”Passion” at 8:50 p.m. at the Pacific Film Archive. Cost is $4-$8. 642-0808.  

READINGS AND LECTURES 

Anthony Bourdain introduces his new stories from the kitchen in “The Nasty Bits” at 7 p.m. at Cody’s Books on Fourth St. 559-9500. www.codysbooks.com 

“The Music of Sepharad, Ashkenaz, And Their Melodic Environments” with Martin Schwartz at 6:30 p.m. at the Magnes Museum, 2911 Russell St. Cost is $6-$8. 549-6950. 

MUSIC AND DANCE 

Altipampa, Andean music, at 8 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $12-$14. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

Betsy Rose “Welcome To The Circle” at 7:15 p.m. in the Small Assembly of First Congregational Church of Berkeley, 2345 Channing Way. Suggested donation $15-20 sliding scale. 

Irina Rivkin, Clara George Celebrate LGBT Pride with the Rose Street Harmony Tours at 8 p.m. at Eli’s Mile High Club, 3629 MLK, Oakland. 654-6124. 

Ann Ryu, Mariana Levine, violins, Jessica Cande, viola, Liz Varnegan, cello, at 8 p.m. at Giorgi Gallery, 2911 Claremont Ave. Cost is $15. 848-1228.  

Swiss Cheese Sonata An evening of work by Pappas and Dancers, Fri. and Sat. at 8 p.m., interactive family matinee Sun. at 2 p.m. at Temescal Arts Center, 511 48th St., at Telegraph, Oakland. Tickets are $10-$20 for the evenings, $7 for the interactive. 599-2325. 

Jules Broussard/Ned Boynton Quartet at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $7. 841-JAZZ. www.AnnasJazzIsland.com 

Jill Knight, singer-songwriter, at 8 p.m. at Caffe Trieste, 2500 San Pablo Ave., at Dwight. 548-5198.  

Freight 38th Anniversary Revue with Phil Marsh, David Jacobs-Strain, Audrey Auld Mezera and others at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $16.50-$17.50. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 

Clifford Lam Duo at 9 p.m. at Downtown. 649-3810.  

Grace Woods and David Serotkin, singer-songwriters, at 7:30 p.m. at Nomad Cafe, 6500 Shattuck Ave. 595-5344. www.nomadcafe.net 

Luv Planet, Robert Temple & His Soulfolk Ensemble, Groovy Judy at 9:30 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $7. 841-2082. www.starryploughpub.com 

Requiem, Spag, Placenta at 8 p.m. at 924 Gilman St., an all-ages, member-run, no alcohol, no drugs, no violence club. Cost is $6. 525-9926. 

Grease Trap, oaktown funk, at 9 p.m. at Shattuck Down Low, 2284 Shattuck Ave. Cost is $5. 548-1159.  

Inspector Double Negative at 9 p.m. at the Uptown Nightclub, 1928 Telegraph, Oakland. Cost is $18-$10. 451-8100. www.uptownnightclub.com 

Guru Garage, jazz-funk, at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 848-8277. 

Goapele at 8 and 10 p.m. through Sun. at Yoshi’s at Jack London Square. Cost is $15-$24. 238-9200. www.yoshis.com 

SATURDAY, JUNE 17 

EXHIBITIONS 

“Turnstyle” works by Los Angeles graffiti artist Joe Joe Webb at 4 p.m. at Transmissions Gallery, 1177 San Pablo Ave. 558-4084.  

FILM 

Against Indifference: The Cinema of Krzysztof Kieslowski “Three Colors: Blue” at 4 p.m. “Three Colors: White” at 6:45 p.m. and “Three Colors: Red” at 8:45 p.m. at the Pacific Film Archive. Cost is $4-$8. 642-0808. www.bampfa.berkeley.edu 

READINGS AND LECTURES 

Jan Steckel reads from her new book of poetry “The Underwater Hospital” at 2 p.m. at the Lakeview Branch Library, 550 El Embarcadero, Oakland. 238-7344.  

Mark Bowden describes “Guests of the Ayatollah: The First Battle in America’s War with Militant Islam” at 7 p.m. at Cody’s Books on Fourth St. 559-9500. www.codysbooks.com 

MUSIC AND DANCE 

The Mirage Ensemble “Images and Reflections” Music of Messiaen, Debussy, Argento, Griffes and Reger at 8 p.m. at Trinity Chapel, 2320 Dana St., bet. Durant and Bancroft. Tickets are $12-$18. 549-3864.  

Meghana Gadgil, “Bharatnatyam Arangetram” dance performance at 2 p.m. at Julia Morgan Center for the Arts, 2640 College Ave. 

La Peña Community Chorus at 9:30 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $10-$15. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

John Richardson Band at 9 p.m. at Circus Pub, 389 Colusa Ave, Kensington. The show is free and all ages. 

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

James Brennan and Rabbit, singer-songwriters, at 7:30 p.m. at Nomad Cafe, 6500 Shattuck Ave. 595-5344. www.nomadcafe.net 

The Jimdangles, contemporary jazz, at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 848-8277. 

Fiddlekids Camp Faculty Fiddlefest at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $18.50-$19.50. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 

Vocal Sauce at 8 p.m. at the Jazzschool. Cost is $12. 845-5373. www.jazzschool.com 

Ben Adams Jazz Trio at 9:30 p.m. at Albatross, 1822 San Pablo Ave. Cost is $3. 843-2473. www.albatrosspub.com 

John Richardson Band at 9 p.m. at Circus Pub, 389 Colusa Ave, Kensington. Free, all ages. 

The Uptones at 8 p.m. at the Uptown Nightclub, 1928 Telegraph, Oakland. Cost is $10. 451-8100. www.uptownnightclub.com 

Grapefruit Ed, John Howland Trio at 9:30 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $10. 841-2082. www.starryploughpub.com 

Sour Mash Jug Band, Pine Hill Haints, The Can Kickers, at 8 p.m. at 924 Gilman St., an all-ages, member-run, no alcohol, no drugs, no violence club. Cost is $6. 525-9926. 

SUNDAY, JUNE 18 

THEATER 

“Boomtime” sketch comedy with Brent Weinbach, Moshe Kasher, and Alex Koll at 8 p.m. at La Val’s Subterranean Theater, 1834 Euclid Ave. Tickets are $8-$10 sliding scale.  

FILM 

Isabelle Huppert: Passion and Contradiction “Heaven’s Gate” at 3 p.m. at the Pacific Film Archive. 642-0808. www.bampfa.berkeley.edu 

READINGS AND LECTURES 

“India Goes Global: Art and Modernity” with Vishakha N. Desai at 2 p.m. at the Berkeley Art Museum. 642-0808. www.bampfa.berkeley.edu 

Poetry Flash with Anne Marie Macari and Jean Mead at 7:30 p.m. at Diesel Bookstore, 5433 College Ave. Donation $2. 653-9965. 

MUSIC AND DANCE 

Chamber Music Sundaes, with members of the San Francisco Symphony and friends at 3:15 p.m. at St John’s Presbyterian Church, 2727 College Ave. Tickets at the door are $9-$21. 415-584-5946. www.chambermusicsundaes.org 

“Joy Crocker Celebration Memorial Concert” at 3 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church, 2619 Broadway at 27th St., Oakland. 703-9350.  

WomenSing “In the Wake of Music” at 4 p.m. at First Congregational Church, 2354 Channing Way. Tickets are $10-$20. 925-974-9169. www.womensing.org 

Preston Reed, guitar, at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $17.50-$18.50. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 

Jesus Diaz at 6:30 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $40. Benefits Lighthouse Community Charter School. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

Yolanda Alicia Quartet at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $10. 841-JAZZ. www.AnnasJazzIsland.com 

Americana Unplugged: Craig Ventresco and Meredith Axelrof bluegrass and oldtime showcase, at 5 p.m. at Jupiter. 655-5715. 

Skinny String Gals at 11 a.m. at Nomad Cafe, 6500 Shattuck Ave. 595-5344.  

Imperial Leather at 5 p.m. at 924 Gilman St., an all-ages, member-run, no alcohol, no drugs, no violence club. Cost is $5. 525-9926. 

MONDAY, JUNE 19 

READINGS AND LECTURES 

William Claassen discusses “Alone in Community: Journey’s into Monastic Life Around the World” at 6:30 p.m. at the Lakeview Branch of the Oakland Public Library, 550 El Embarcadero. 238-7344. 

Kate Horsley describes “Black Elk in Paris” at 7 p.m. at Cody’s Books on Fourth St. 559-9500.  

Jeff Angus will talk about “Management by Baseball” at 7:30 p.m. at Black Oak Books. 486-0698.  

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

MUSIC AND DANCE 

Trovatore, traditional Italian music, at 7 p.m. at Caffe Trieste, 2500 San Pablo Ave., at Dwight. 548-5198.  

Blue Monday Jam at 7:30 p.m. at the Uptown Nightclub, 1928 Telegraph, Oakland. Cost is $5. 451-8100. www.uptownnightclub.com 

Larry Vuckovich Quartet at 8 and 10 p.m. at Yoshi’s at Jack London Square. Cost is $10-$14. 238-9200. www.yoshis.com 

TUESDAY, JUNE 20 

CHILDREN 

Traditional Chinese Instruments Music and demonstrations with Mandy Cheung at 7 p.m. at the Albany Library, 1247 Marin Ave. 526-3720, ext. 17. 

THEATER 

“Bigger Than Jesus” Rick Miller’s one-man show at 8 p.m. through Fri. and Sat. at 2 and 8 p.m. at Zellerbach Playhouse, UC Campus. Tickets are $30. 642-9988. 

FILM 

Against Indifference: The Cinema of Krzysztof Kieslowski Personnel and Final Documentary Shorts at 7:30 p.m. at the Pacific Film Archive. Cost is $4-$8. 642-0808.  

MUSIC AND DANCE 

Ellen Hoffman Trio and Singers’ Open Mic at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $5. 841-JAZZ. www.AnnasJazzIsland.com 

Michael Coleman Trio Jazz Jam at 8 p.m. at the Uptown Nightclub, 1928 Telegraph, Oakland. Bring your instrument. 451-8100.  

Javon Jackson Quartet at 8 and 10 p.m. Yoshi’s at Jack London Square. Cost is $10-$16. 238-9200. www.yoshis.com 

Mal Sharpe, jazz, at 7 p.m. at Caffe Trieste, 2500 San Pablo Ave., at Dwight. 548-5198.  

Jazzschool Tuesdays, a weekly showcase of up-and-coming ensembles from Berkeley Jazzschool at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 848-8277. 

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 21 

FILM 

“Under Ten” short films under 10 minutes at 9 p.m. at Rock Paper Scissors Collective, 2278 Telegraph Ave., Oakland. 238-9171. 

International Latino Film Festival “Tijuana Jews,” “Jai,” and “Deep Sea” at 7 p.m. at La Peña. Cost is $5-$6. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

Against Indifference: The Cinema of Krzysztof Kieslowski “the Scar” at 7:30 p.m. at the Pacific Film Archive. Cost is $4-$8. 642-0808. www.bampfa.berkeley.edu 

READINGS AND LECTURES 

Kathleen Cleaver describes “Target Zero: A Life in Writing by Eldridge Cleaver” at 7:30 p.m. at First Congregational Church of Berkeley, 2345 Channing Way. www.codysbooks.com 

Gary Younge, columnist for the London Guardian on his new book “Stranger in a Strange Land: Encounters in the Disunited States” at 6 p.m. at Oakland Public Library, AMHL Dept., 125 14th St. 238-3134. 

Victor Navasky reads from “A Matter of Opinion” at 7:30 p.m. at Black Oak Books. 486-0698. www.blackoakbooks.com 

MUSIC AND DANCE 

Garden of Memory Summer Solstice Concert with Terry Riley, Paul Dresher, Pamela Z, Matmos, Ellen Fullman, and others at 5 p.m. at Chapel of the Chimes, 4499 Piedmont Ave., Oakland. Donation $5-$10. 415- 563-6355, ext. 3. 

Roy Zimmerman in “Faulty Intelligence” An evening of satirical songs, Wed.-Fri. at 8 p.m. at The Marsh Berkeley, 2118 Allston Way, through July 27. 800-838-3006. www.themarsh.org  

Al Raja Palestinian Folkloric Dance Troupe at 7:30 p.m. at Julia Morgan Center for the Arts, 2640 College Ave. Tickets are $5-$15. 677-6247.  

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

Orquestra Candela at 8 p.m. at Shattuck Down Low. Cost is $5-$10. 548-1159.  

Chocolate O’Brian at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 848-8277. 

Ugly Beauty at 8:30 p.m. at the Uptown Nightclub, 1928 Telegraph, Oakland. Cost is $5. 451-8100. www.uptownnightclub.com 

The Websters & Scott Nygaard at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $18.50-$19.50. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 

Whisky Brothers at 9 p.m. at Albatross, 1822 San Pablo Ave. 843-2473. www.albatrosspub.com 

Javon Jackson Quartet at 8 and 10 p.m. Yoshi’s at Jack London Square. Cost is $10-$16. 238-9200. www.yoshis.com 

THURSDAY, JUNE 22 

EXHIBITIONS 

“XTOWN2NE” (cross-town-toon): Comic Book Art & Cartoons. Reception at 5:30 p.m. at The NIAD Art Center, 551 23rd St., Richmond. Exhibit runs to July 28. 620-0290. www.niadart.org 

FILM 

“Under Ten” short films under 10 minutes at 9 p.m. at Rock Paper Scissors Collective, 2278 Telegraph Ave. Oakland. 238-9171. 

Isabelle Huppert: Passion and Contradiction “The Piano Teacher” at 7:30 p.m. at the Pacific Film Archive. Cost is $4-$8. 642-0808. www.bampfa.berkeley.edu 

READINGS AND LECTURES 

Stewart Florsheim reads from his book of poetry, “The Short Fall From Grace” at 7:30 p.m at Mrs. Dalloway’s Literary and Garden Arts, 2904 College Ave. 704-8222. 

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

Estelle Frankel reads from “Jewish Spiritual Teachings on Emotional Healing and Inner Wellness” at 7:30 p.m. at the BRJCC, 1414 Walnut St. Cost is $10-$20, benefits Aquarian Minyan. 465-3935. 

Phyllis Stowell reads from “Arc of Grief” at 7:30 p.m. at Black Oak Books. 486-0698. www.blackoakbooks.com 

MUSIC AND DANCE 

Roy Zimmerman in “Faulty Intelligence” An evening of satirical songs, Wed.-Fri. at 8 p.m. at The Marsh Berkeley, 2118 Allston Way. 800-838-3006. www.themarsh.org  

John Richardson Band at 9 p.m. at Cafe Van Kleef, 1621 Telegraph, Oakland. 

Adrienne Young & Little Sadie at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $17.50-$18.50. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 

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

The Crooked Jades, Virgil Shaw at 9:30 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $10. 841-2082 www.starryploughpub.com 

Akosua, West African and Latin fusion, at 8 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $8-$10. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

Kenny Garrett at 8 and 10 p.m., through Sun. at Yoshi’s at Jack London Square. Cost is $10-$22. 238-9200. www.yoshis.com 

Warsaw Poland Brothers at 9 p.m. at the Uptown Nightclub, 1928 Telegraph, Oakland. Cost is $8. 451-8100. www.uptownnightclub.com 


The Theater: Masquers Playhouse Presents ‘The Fantasticks’

Ken Bullock, Special to the Planet
Friday June 16, 2006

The Fantasticks, which just opened at the Masquers Playhouse in Point Richmond, isn’t quite 50 years old (running over 40 of those years in its original production in New York), yet has been saddled with the odd reputation of being an old chestnut. 

This despite its ever youthful air of putting on a show, which also gives it license not to take itself seriously—a virtue which, along with its demonstrable simplicity, makes it stand out in the rather top-heavy, elaborated repertoire of post-war musical comedy. 

“A boy, a girl, two fathers and a wall ... anything else we need, we can get out of a box,” announces El Gallo (Paul Macari), the wry, deadpan master of ceremonies and “Professional Abductor” to introduce that simple universality of plot and action, after he sings the show’s most enduring hit, “Try To Remember.”  

In fact, the seeming transparency of the play almost hides by indirection the clever synthesis of theatrical and musical elements that composer Harvey Schmidt and lyricist-playwright Tom Jones put together. Taking inspiration from the Belle Epoche comedy Les Romanesques by Edmond Rostand (author of Cyrano de Bergerac), Jones has made French Romantic irony into instant Americana by staging The Fantasticks in the manner of Our Town’s bare stage, but with the spirit of the very early musical comedies of the ’20s, a tongue-in-cheek ingenuousness that owed much to George M. Cohan’s burlesque melodramas ... a very knowing theatricality. 

Schmidt’s score is also various, running the gamut from lush, wistful sentiment (“Try To Remember,” “Soon It’s Gonna Rain”), to sprightly comic numbers (“Never Say No,” “It Depends On What You Pay”), upbeat showstoppers (like “I Can See It”), to the bluesy piano figures that mark some of the choruses in the second act. Music Director Pat King presides at the ivories, with Tom Silva on harp and Barbara Kohler, percussion—a bright trio. 

The Masquers have cast the eight roles well, with strong singers who can handle the genial, self-joshing humor of types that are sincere, but somehow know they’re more than a little bit absurd—“The Fantasticks” of the title, in the sense of eccentrics, extravagants, or what Sherwood Anderson called his provincial stand-outs, Grotesques. 

Introduced by El Gallo, The Girl (whose name we learn is Luisa—played by Bridgett O’Keefe) and The Boy (or Matt, played by Kyle Johnson) have managed to fall in love, despite the wall their feuding fathers have erected to separate their gardens and their offspring. 

Does this owe something to the burlesque romance of Pyramus and Thisbe in A Midsummer Night’s Dream? In any case it’s compounded by the comic portrayal of the self-serious craziness of the young people. But the fathers, Bellomy and Hucklebee (Alex Shafer and Keith Jefferds), prove to be in collusion, singing and dancing their philosophy of reverse psychology like an old vaudeville team: “Children, I guess, must get their own way/The minute that you say ‘No!’” 

Enter El Gallo to preside over the “delicious, very theatrical ... professional abduction” to give the final nudge to the young lovers, though he cautions the dads that “the proper word is rape, from the Latin; short and business-like”—and they haggle over the “the quality of the rape” in the number, “It Depends On What You Pay.” 

The self-serious fun goes up another notch with the arrival of the actors, Henry and Mortimer (Jim Colgan and Masquers Managing Director Robert Love), two old charlatans who owe something to the Duke and the Prince in Huckleberry Finn. Henry recites, running together many an old saw, and Mortimer (a Cockney Indian), dies, hilariously pantomimed by the droll Mr. Love. 

The old charlatans sweep the boy off to see the wide world, or to be seen in their Punch and Judy show of its broad deceptiveness, while El Gallo pretends to court The Girl, giving her a panoramic glimpse into that same cruel world, but emphasizing the play and illusion of its appearances. 

The ending is, of course, happy, though a little bittersweet as it recedes into the sepia of an ideal past, with The Mute (Betsy Bell Ringer), utility stage assistant and scenic mime, scattering the snowflakes that must follow the kind of September we’ve been exhorted to remember. 

The Masquers have struck the right chord, with Marti Baer’s direction of a tight little ensemble, with scenic, lighting and costume design by John Hull, Renee Echavez and Loralee Windsor, respectively, all community players, themselves a community, pooling their talents for the larger community of their enthusiastic audience. 

 


Moving Pictures: LGBT Festival Features East Bay Filmmakers

Justin DeFreitas
Friday June 16, 2006

The 30th annual San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival, also known as Frameline30, takes place at a variety of Bay Area venues this weekend, including the Parkway Theater in Oakland. Screenings will be also be held in San Francisco at the Castro Theater, Roxie Film Center, Victoria Theater and CineArts @Empire.  

This year’s lineup features films from all over the world as well as the work of several East Bay filmmakers.  

Reporter Zero 

Saturday, June 24, 3:30 p.m.  

Roxie Film Center. 25 minutes. 

Carrie Lozano’s Reporter Zero is a short film about the career of Randy Shilts, the tenacious and brash San Francisco Chronicle reporter who doggedly covered the emerging AIDS crisis at a time when most media outlets were barely interested. 

The film features interviews with friends and colleagues as well as the public officials Shilts covered, resulting in an intriguing portrait of both the man and the mounting public heath crisis he documented. 

Shilts went on to write the best-selling book And the Band Played On about the first few years of the AIDS epidemic. Shortly after finishing the book he was diagnosed with AIDS and ultimately died of the disease at the age of 42. 

Lozano first came up with the idea for a film about Shilts while working on a short video piece about the gay marriage controversy in San Francisco. Chronicle reporter Rachel Gordon was dismissed from the beat after she married her partner at City Hall. This lead Lozano to wonder how Shilts—an openly gay and fiercely opinionated reporter—might have fared in today’s journalism climate. 

Reporter Zero recently won the gold medal for Best Documentary at the Student Academy Awards. Lozano, an alum of UC Berkeley’s graduate school of journalism, also shared in a 2003 nomination for feature-length documentary The Weather Underground, which she produced. 

Reporter Zero, her master’s thesis for the journalism program and her directorial debut, was the third UC Berkeley documentary in as many years to take home the top prize, “and I think that says a lot about the program,” says Lozano. 

 

Meth 

Friday, June 16, 3 p.m. 

Castro Theater. 79 minutes. 

Oakland filmmaker Todd Ahlberg interviews crystal methamphetamine addicts and recovering addicts in a sometimes graphic documentary examining the consequences speed addiction has had on the gay male community. 

 

The Quitter 

Sunday, June 18, 12:15 p.m. 

Castro Theater. 4 minutes. 

Oakland director Joy Taylor’s short video on the obstacle to love posed by smoking is part of a series of brief lesbian films titled “Dyke Delights.” 

 

Trans Francisco 

Sunday, June 18, 1:45 p.m. 

Victoria Theater. 8 minutes. 

This collection of locally produced transgender films includes Kaden, a short film by Berkeley filmmaker Harriet Storm documenting a Bay Area trans guy’s emotional preparation for transformative surgery. 

 

Breaking the Silence 

Sunday, June 18, 3:45 p.m.  

Roxie Film Center. 40 minutes. 

Breaking the Silence, shot at the Center for Digital Storytelling in Berkeley, is a collection of short first-person essays directed by Berkeley’s Nicky Yang Wu. The film features brief, self-produced films by young people from the foster care system who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or queer. Each tells a personal story of in a different way, covering in a sort of virtual show-and-tell the hardships they encountered as children and young adults navigating the foster care system while confronting the wracking personal identity issues that come with discovering one’s sexuality. 

 

Where Have We Been All This Time? 

Wednesday, June 21, 6 p.m.  

Roxie Film Center. 7 minutes. 

This short video, directed by Berkeley’s Erica Sokolowershain and shown as part of a series of youth films titled “Do It Yourself,” shows the intersection of lives on a BART train. 

 

Beyond Conception 

Saturday, June 24, 11 a.m.  

Roxie Theater. 75 minutes. 

Berkeley director Johnny Symons’ documentary tracks the efforts of a gay male couple to conceive a child through a surrogate. The film provides an insightful look at the myriad emotional and practical difficulties that surround the family planning process, even in queer-friendly San Francisco. 


Richmond Museum Highlights City’s Hispanic History

Marta Yamamoto, Special to the Planet
Friday June 16, 2006

Siempre Aqui. Always here. Two words that simply convey a tome-like history. Aqui referring to California and more specifically the area around greater Richmond. From the early 19th century days of California’s Rancheros to 20th century jobs in mining and railroads up through today, the Hispanic presence has been an integral part of California. This saga is well showcased in the current exhibit at the Richmond Museum of History. 

The small Seaver Gallery, brightly lit and paneled in green and red, artfully displays artifacts, photographs and text chronicling Hispanic contributions both culturally and environmentally. Following the room’s perimeter, I enjoyed a concise history course of interpretive panels and accompanying illustrations. Collected from both old time residents and new comers to the community, the visuals tell the story of an age-old quest for a better life and a safe haven for raising a family. 

The story begins in the early 1800s on the Rancheros when huge tracts of land provided grazing for cattle, sheep and horses. A large, illustrated family tree traces the descendants of Joaquin Ysidro Castro (born 1730) and Maria Martina Botiller (born 1733) through five generations during the days of Rancho San Pablo, a land grant of 18,000 acres. Artifacts from this period—a full-size cow hide, a branding iron and a glass-encased adobe brick from the 1843 Castro home—provide a glimpse of everyday life, as does a 1830 sketch map of Rancho San Pablo. 

The next chapter leaps to the early 1900s when jobs in agriculture, mining and railroads created the next influx of immigrants. New immigration laws restricted Asian and European workers and World War I had designs on American men. Meanwhile, Mexican land reform policies, depriving 98 percent of the population of their land, and revolution catalyzed men to head north for work. Many ended up in Richmond at the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad, others at Standard Oil. A page from a 1914 Santa Fe Magazine attests to their presence. In three full-page columns an English-Spanish glossary translates a thorough list of work-related terms, including “pay day” to “dia de pago” and even provides a pronunciation guide. 

Mexican family roles, men, women, boys and girls, and social life are explored photographically. La Hispano-Americana Mercado from 1931 is represented in a classic black and white shot as well as with a brightly illustrated calendar from 1939 displaying the Golden Gate Bridge. A group of smiling gaily dressed young ladies at a Mexican Independence Day Celebration and another at a Sunday afternoon tardeada at Sweet’s Ballroom shine a light on the lighter side of life. The role of dance is displayed through Mexican dance costumes vibrant in their colors, seemingly poised to whirl into action. A black skirt sequined with images of the Mexican eagle and a traditional dress festooned with flowers in every spectral color would be highlights at any celebration. 

The time line progresses as World War II draws Mexican Americans from other areas to work in the Kaiser shipyard, where women and their daughters also joined the workforce. One photo shows the nine Gonzalez siblings, originally from Arizona, here to work at the Kaiser Shipyard. By this point in time, a second generation of Mexican Americans is looking higher both politically and socially. I love the family portrait of mother Martinez, face a little smug with pride, surrounded by her five adult children. 

By the time I reached the turbulent 1950s and ’60s, I was joined by Executive Director, Donald Bastin. Having collected most of the images from the community, Donald spoke of the interest this generated at the exhibit opening. Guests crowded before portraits looking for relatives and friends, some even running into acquaintances they hadn’t realized lived in the area. As much cultural as historical, exhibits such as this one recognize personal and ethnic contributions to society as a whole. I listened in on a conversation between a Hispanic mother and her son, at the exhibit for a school assignment, passing the baton from the past to his role in the present and the future. 

Striving to improve the quality of their lives, Mexican-Americans supported Cesar Chavez and joined La Raza. Locally many worked with the Richmond United Council of Spanish Speaking Organizations and more became active politically. 

The Hispanic presence has grown in Richmond. Aside from Native Americans, it is the group with the greatest longevity in the area. Today a young population, Latinos make up more than 60 percent of West Contra County school populations. Representing this young group are several students from Richmond High School, along with their own artistic statements. The rear wall of the gallery displays wonderful color portraits of today’s Mexican-Americans. A young boy with large, warm brown eyes, an older boy holding the sign “My parents are not criminals,” the represented artists from Richmond High and two family portraits bring this exhibit full circle to the people we see everyday. 

A collaboration by Richmond High School staff and students, Home Altar is a striking exhibit. A combination of shrine, a place for worship and prayer and somewhere to remember loved ones, the photos and artifacts represent religious and personal icons while photos and mementos pay homage to students who have passed away. 

Donald Bastin and the museum staff see this exhibit as a work in progress, as is the story of all mankind. Like so many immigrant groups, Mexicans came to California to fill a need, supplying their labor and seeking opportunities for themselves and their families. The culture they brought with them not only enriched their lives put also added to the complex tapestry of what is now the Bay Area. The value of the exhibit, in my opinion, is threefold. Siempre Aqui, always here, serves as affirmation to those whose ancestors paid their dues. It also serves as a bridge to recent immigrants helping them find familiarity and their footing in a new land. Lastly, Siempre Aqui reminds non Mexican-Americans of the long time presence of a vital segment of our society. Two simple words far weightier than the eleven letters of which they are composed.


About the House: The Problems with Forced Air Heating

Matt Cantor
Friday June 16, 2006

In the 19th century and the very early parts of the 20th, coal burning was a common way of heating our homes. It seems amazing to us now that such a wasteful, dirty and downright dangerous method of heating would be, not only the choice of a generation, but literally built into the homes of the era as permanent systems. 

I’m quite sure that carbon monoxide poisoning was rife in society in much the same way that lead poisoning was commonplace and unidentified amongst the Romans. Many, I’m sure were killed by the noxious gas but far more lived depressed lives of inexplicable lethargy (as is common with carbon monoxide poisoning). 

Future scientists may judge our forced-air heating systems in a similar way. Although these were considered state-of-the-art in the 1950’s, we’ve moved on in many ways and discovered many things about these systems which cause me to question the logic in retaining this technology. 

The main reason for my dislike of this extraordinarily common heating method is its lack of efficiency. This starts with the whole idea of heating the air, as opposed to, say, the floor or the walls. When we heat air and blow it around, there is a great deal of heat loss.  

These systems, for the most part, have relatively low efficiencies with loads of our hard earned Therms going up the chimney. While there are higher efficiency forced-air heating systems available (90 plus or condensing furnaces), these have a range of efficiency problems as well. 

These systems are heavily dependent upon a complete lack of leakage in ducting in order to maintain their efficiency and leakage is extremely common in these systems. They also tend to lose loads of heat straight through the ducting surface where the insulation is loose or missing. 

Many older systems (even those which include a new replacement furnace) have little or no insulation on the ducting and these lose loads of heat to crawlspaces, basements and other unused areas thus reducing the efficiency and using heat, Natural gas and money unnecessarily. 

Forced air heating systems also blow air around in the house and with the air comes noise, dirt, dander and other pollutants. Although it is possible to make very quiet forced-air systems, most are not so well-designed and many actually whistle or make other noise. The fans also make noise, although I confess this is a small part of my dislike of this technology. The detritus stored and blown about by these systems is, on the other hand, a major complaint for me.  

I’ve been inside these systems on many occasions and, as a rule, they’re filthy and their contents are constantly being blown back into the living space. Sometimes system which come to contain moisture through leaks or condensation end up harboring airborne microbes such as Legionnaire’s Disease, although this is uncommon on the West Coast. 

While such systems can effectively filter the air as they run, most are not properly outfitted in this regard. Many have ancient filters that should have been changed long ago and rely too fully on owner maintenance (this also causes the furnace to struggle and overheat). The typical filtration methods are poor and filters are often located in places that are hard to reach and often ignored (although these issues can be addressed by dogged or thoughtful technicians or owners). 

A heating system which doesn’t suck and blow air needs no filtration and can keep allergens (and house cleaning) to a minimum. Of course, a forced-air system that has great filtration can actually lower indoor air pollutants but these are few and far between. Overall, I would tend to prefer a system that doesn’t blow anything around my house in the interest of heating. The more direct the form of heat transport, the better. 

Another, and perhaps central, failing of the forced-air system is the lack of engineering in the flow of air. It is not enough to merely cut some holes, here and there, in the floors of your house and then to connect them up to the two ends of a furnace. The flow of the system must be considered. Otherwise, as is all too often true, one room is well heated, while another is quite cold. Also, without good return flow from every space to the intake (the big grill usually located in the living or dining room), the entire system will run inefficiently and the furnace can also overheat. 

Many houses that have heating registers (the ends of the heating ducts inside the rooms) have little or no space below doors for the heat to circulate back the intake and thus heat slowly and poorly. A forced-air system is a circulatory system and a blockage in a circulatory system is precisely what you don’t want. It has been suggested by some that forced-air systems should have a small cold air intake in every room. 

But so far, this has remained theory in virtually all applications. While some houses do have more than one cold air intake, the most I’ve ever seen has been three and they were all outside of bedrooms. 

Forced-air heating systems also have some degree of inherent hazard as they can, under certain conditions, take exhaust gases (including carbon monoxide (CO)) and put them into the ducting system along with the warm air. This is the main reason that these units should be examined regularly (once a year is a good practice). 

This is not true for all heating systems, although exhaust leaks into living space are certainly an issue with gas wall and floor furnaces. 

My final area of complaint with forced-air heating is the problem of where to put it. While the furnaces are not so very large and condensing units can employ plastic flues which exit near the unit, the ducting still can take up hundreds of cubic feet of interior space and make construction and remodeling very complicated. 

They can also keep you from doing the architecture you really want to do. For professional designers, this remains a source of real frustration. The huge hoses have to be run through every room of the house and greatly complicate and inhibit the shaping of spaces. Often, entire second floors end up without registers due to this complexity and few systems end up being truly balanced. 

Given these issues (and there are certainly more we could trench up if there were time) I suggest that it’s time for all of us to revise our notions about heating. Sadly, solar heating methods have not been given much attention in the last two decades despite a fair amount of research in the late 1970s under Jimmy Carter. We should all continue to push for advances in passive and active solar heating since, ultimately, it is the logical and most parsimonious realm of home heating. In the absence of this, I think that hydronic, or hot-water heating, is the next best thing. 

Modern hydronic heaters, like the little Munchkin are very stingy with BTU’s (British Thermal Units) and use plastic tubing to communicate heat through the dwelling. These tubes are so small that they can be threaded through the floors or walls of the home without any other deliberate modification. 

In other words, you can put the heater exactly where you want it and you don’t have to worry about where to put the soffits, walls or hallways. You can also heat the underside of a floor providing one of life’s great pleasures … a warm floor. If you keep the floor at 70º, the ambient room temperature can be 65º and you’re going to feel nice and warm, especially if you like to walk around in your bare feet. It’s nicer on your lungs too. The warmest part of the room should be the floor since ultimately, it’s going to convect upward to the top of the room. 

Hydronic systems can also provide heat using radiators and the remodel of a house need not involve the removal of the living room ceiling when radiators can be placed upstairs to serve the bedrooms. 

Since there is no way for CO to enter a room through the water in the tubing, the greatest danger inside the house is a leak. Hydronic heat is also more efficient and less costly in the long run because it’s heating something that doesn’t dissipate so rapidly every time the door gets opened. 

When we heat a radiator or the floor, those things don’t rapidly cool when someone opens a window or a door. When you heat the air, the ability of that heat to escape the house through door, window or other means is far greater. 

The reason that forced-air has won out for so many years is that it’s fairly cheap to install and hydronic is not. A hydronic heating system is generally going to be over 12 grand even for a very scaled down system and can be 20 grand for a larger house. Forced-air, on the other hand runs from 5-8K for most small to mid-sized systems. Also, with so many forced-air systems in place, people will tend to continue to upgrade parts of this system rather than junk the whole think in favor of a better system. But two kinds of people tend to choose the hydronic alternative, the rich and the smart. 

People buy these systems for their great comfort and their long-range cost profile (they’ll actually save you money if you own them long enough). Some also choose these systems when members of their families are allergy-prone. High tech folks like engineers tend to choose these systems because they make sense despite (and perhaps because) they’re not being the common fare. 

It’s funny how this thing has come around from the distant past. Hot water, radiator-based systems were quite popular a hundred years ago, although they were far less efficient and much more expensive to install. We had our flirtation with forced-air and I’d say that the romance has soured; so we trudge, somewhat chagrined back to our old flame. 


Garden Variety: A Nursery with Spine: Get The Point at Cactus Jungle

Ron Sullivan
Friday June 16, 2006

There’s a certain set of people who fancy succulents, and, as the judge famously said about pornography, “I know it when I see it.” 

Succulents in general are plants that hold lots of water within their leaf or stem tissues. The term refers to a strategy, not really a taxon. They come from all sorts of families, including geraniums and cucumbers.  

One thing they have in common, right on the surface: they look, shall we say, distinctive. We might even say “kinky” if we weren’t worried about offending cacto-Americans. (A letter-writer recently gave me a noodge about “some unaware race/cultural bias,” which was a bit off the mark. I’m quite aware of the biases I’m making fun of.)  

They tower in spires if they’re cacti, dress in temporary delicate leaves and permanent ferocious spikes, disguise themselves as weird green toe-sies barely poking out of the ground, crouch in scowly brown lumps and send out a delicate green thread to the world. 

They’re cuddly and scary, graceful and ridiculous. They burst into outrageous scarlet and crimson and yellow and white blooms, some of them intensely fragrant, some of them only at night. Serious cereus infatuation rapidly becomes euphorbia euphoria. 

In short, they’re irresistible.  

They’re also tough, if you know how to treat them, and for a local virtue, they don’t drink much. This means more than reduced water bills. 

It means you can plant them in a place as rough and stressful (for plants) as a rooftop garden, and they’ll stand up to withering winds and constant sun.  

West Berkeley’s a good analogue of a rooftop—flat, windy, and mostly sunny. So Cactus Jungle has picked a good location to show off its weird wares, just a few blocks from the Fourth Street shopping corridor. 

It’s a small lot, aesthetically unified by the red lava rock underfoot and mulching all the plant pots, and the pots themselves almost entirely good old red clay, the best thing for succulents.  

The Jungle’s proprietors, Peter Lipson and Hap Hollibaugh, have been raising succulents 20-some years. 

Besides this retail spot, they install succulent gardens, including rooftop oases. They’re also turtle fanciers, so of course they’re good people.  

One neat innovation here is the collection of landscaping succulents, blabla and blabla and such, intended as groundcover and garden plants and sold in sixpacks—not your average sixpacks, but plantable dissolving peat pots in little wooden crates, as sets or mix-and-match. Ecogroovy and handsome besides.  

They have a little greenhouse of succulent houseplants, too: tillandsias and sanseverias and a stapelia like my own obnoxious office pet. 

(That’s the starfish or carrion flower, several inches across, hairy, and scented like rotting meat. Which reminds me: don’t dare use “kinky” around me as a put-down.) Also a select few grasses, bamboos, and other congenial perennials.  

Pots, fertilizers, remedies, accessories, and tools, too—the last from The Rumford Gardener, a British company whose products include a favorite of mine, a simple rounded, laterally curved piece of metal with great utility in small spaces.  

 

 

 


Berkeley This Week

Friday June 16, 2006

FRIDAY, JUNE 16 

Impeachment Banner Fridays at 6:45 to 8 a.m. on the Berkeley Pedestrian bridge between Seabreeze Market and the Berkeley Aquatic Park, ongoing on Fridays until impeachment is realized. www. Impeachbush-cheney.com 

City Commons Club Noon Luncheon with a panel discussion on “Are the Traditional Ethics of Established Religion Outmoded?” 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.  

Conscientious Projector: “Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room” A documentary film by Alex Gibney at 7 p.m. at Berkeley Fellowship Hall, 1924 Cedar St. at Bonita. Donations accepted. 528-5403. 

The Feng Shui of Sacred Land, Sacred Architecture A slide show and talk with Eva Wong at 8 p.m. at the Berkeley Shambhala Meditation Center, 2288 Fulton St. at Bancroft. Cost is $20 at door. 841-3242. 

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. 845-1143. 

SATURDAY, JUNE 17 

Downtown Berkeley Visioning Workshop from 1 to 4 p.m. at Berkeley High School Library. The public is invited to attend and comment. 981-7487. 

Berkeley Alliance of Neighborhood Associations meets with City Manager Phil Kamlarz at 9:15 a.m. at St. John’s Presbyterian Church, Sproul Conference Room, 1st Floor, 2727 College Ave. www.berkeleycna.com 

Temescal Street Fair from noon to 6 p.m. on Telegraph Ave. between 51st and 48th with food from local restaurants, performances, childrens’ activities. www.temescalmerchants.com 

Giant Yard and Bake Sale to benefit the animals of the Berkeley Animal Shelter, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 1257 Hopkins St. http://share4shelter.org 

KPFA Yard Sale from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the KPFA parking lot on Berkeley Way at Martin Luther King Jr. Way. 

Dog Wash Benefit to raise funds for spay/neuter programs in Contra Costa County, from noon to 4 p.m. at RabbitEARS Adoption Store, 303 Arlington Ave., behind ACE Hardware, Kensington. 525-6155. 

Don’t be Rattled Learn the myths and facts about rattlesnakes at 10:30 a.m. at Tilden Nature Center, Tilden Park. 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. 

Berkeley Garden Club Plant Sale from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 547 Grizzly Peak Blvd, top of Euclid. 524-7296. 

Juneteeth Celebration in Richmond from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Nicholl Park, MacDonald Ave. and 32nd St. Sponsored by the National Brotherhood Alliance and the City of Richmond. 620-6516. 

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

African American Women’s Health A community forum on a holistic approach to health and other issues, with speakers, resources and local service providers, from noon to 5 p.m. at Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church, 3534 Lakeshore Ave. Free, but RSVP’s appreciated. 763-9523. 

West Stege Marsh Restoration Volunteers are needed to assist with the on-going effort to restore a portion of West Stege marsh, its surrounding uplands, and adjacent grassland, on UC’s Richmond Field Station, from 9 a.m. to noon. To register and for directions call 665-3689. www.thewatershedproject.org 

“Towards an Sustainable Oakland” with Mose Durst, senior director of the Global Economics Action Institute, at 2 p.m. at the Oakland Public Library, Rockridge Branch, 5366 College Ave. 597-5017. 

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 

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. 

Around the World Tour of Plants at 1:30 p.m., Thurs., Sat. and Sun. at UC Botanical Garden, 200 Centennial Drive. 643-2755.  

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, JUNE 18 

Juneteenth Festival, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Adeline and Alcatraz. 655-8008. 

Father’s Day Pancake Breakfast from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on board The Red Oak Victory Ship in Richmond harbor, 1337 Canal Blvd. Take HY 580 and exit at Canal Blvd. Cost is $6, children under 5 free. A tour of the ship is included. 237-2933. 

Father’s Day Dragon Boat Adventure from 9 a.m. to noon at the Berkeley Marina. Sign up to ride in a Chinese river boat. Cost is $25, free to Save the Bay members. 452-9261 ext. 109. www.savesfbay.org/bayevents  

Name that Snake Learn to identify the snakes that live in your backyard and local parks at 12:30 p.m. at Tilden Nature Center, Tilden Park. 525-2233. 

Free Hands-on Bicycle Clinic Learn how to repair a flat, from 10 to 11 a.m. at REI, 1338 San Pablo Ave. 527-4140. 

Bike Tour of Oakland Explore Oakland and learn about its incredible history, its visionaries and scoundrels—who were often the same people. The leisurely two-hour tours are about five miles long, with no hills. Meet at 10 a.m. at the 10th St. entrance of the Oakland Museum of California. Participants must be over twelve years old and provide their own bikes, helmets and repair kits. Free, but reservations required. 238-3514. 

“Come Spot Come” Teach your dog to come when called, no matter what the distraction, from 3 to 4 p.m. at Grace North Church, 2128 Cedar St. Cost is $35, registration required. 849-9323. companyofdogs.com 

Tree Identification Walk Take a short walk around and learn about some of our native and non-native trees at 2 p.m. at Tilden Nature Center, Tilden Park. 525-2233. 

Acupuncture for Seniors offered by Elder Well from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 2880 Sacramento. Cost is $5-$35. Appointments required. 704-0593. 

Lake Merritt Neighbors Organized for Peace at 3 p.m. at the colonnade at the NE end of the lake. 763-8712.  

Sunday Summer Forum: Towards a More Just World with Loni Hancock, State Assemblymember on Reforming Campaing Financing, at 9:30 a.m. at Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley, 1 Lawson Rd., Kensington. 525-0302, ext. 306. 

Tibetan Buddhism with Jack Petranker on “Finding Comfort and Ease: Meditation for a Balanced Life” at 6 p.m. at the Tibetan Nyingma Institute, 1815 Highland Pl. 843-6812.  

MONDAY, JUNE 19 

“How to Rearrange Your Life to Drive Less” Learn about CityCarShare, telecommuting, living close to work, and more at 5 p.m. at Biofuel Oasis, 2465 4th St., at Dwight. Donations accepted. 665-5509. 

“Stop the Bombing at the Nevada Test Site” Learn about the issues at 7 p.m. at Humanist Hall, 390 27th St., Oakland. Cost is $5-$20. 665-5509. 

Berkeley CopWatch organizational meeting at 8 p.m. at 2022 Blake St. J548-0425. 

TUESDAY, JUNE 20 

Tuesday Twighlights Enjoy a stunning sunset and a five-mile hike over varied terrain. Meet at 6:30 p.m. at the Canyon meadow staging area, Redwood Regional Park. Bring a jacket, water and a flashlight. 525-2233. 

Berkeley East-Bay Humane Society Blood Drive for the American Red Cross at 9th and Carleton. To schedule an appointment see www.beadonor.com (sponsor code HUMANESOCIETY) or call 1-800-448-3543. 

Introduction to Storytelling Class meets Tues. from 7 to 8:30 p.m. for four weeks at Arts First Oakland, 2501 Harrison St., Oakland. Cost is $20 for the series. To register call 444-4755. www.stagebridge.org 

Stress Less Seminar at 7 p.m. at New Moon Opportunities, 378 Jayne Ave., Oakland. Free, but registration required. 465-2524. 

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. www.berkeleycameraclub.org 

St. John’s Prime Timers meets at 9:30 a.m. at St. John’s Presbyterian Church, 2727 College Ave. We always welcome new members over 50. 845-6830. 

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 21  

Summer Solstice Gathering at 7:30 p.m. at the Interim Solar Calendar, Cesar Chavez Park Berkeley Marina. Bring your questions about the workings of sun, earth and moon, and the meaning of the seasons. Workshop led by Tory Brady, Exploratorium Teacher Institute. www.solarcalendar.org 

“Stranger in a Strange Land: Encounters in the Disunited States” with Gary Younge, columnist for the London Guardian, at 6 p.m. at Oakland Public Library, AMHL Dept., 125 14th St. 238-3134. 

“The Corporation” award-winning documentary by Mark Achbar on the rise of the dominant institution of our time, at 7:30 p.m. at Humanist Hall, 390 27th St., Oakland. Donations of $5 accepted. www.HumanistHall.net 

Diversity Film “Raising Teens” A documentary about teens of gay parents at 6:30 p.m. followed by discussion at Ellen Driscoll Auditorium, Frank Havens School, 325 Highland Ave., Piedmont. Free. 655-5552. 

“Is Iran Next?” with Ali Mirabdal of Iranian-American Community of Northern California at 7 p.m. at Berkeley Gray Panthers Office, 1403 Addison St. 548-9696.  

Walking Tour of Historic Oakland Churches and Temples Meet at 10 a.m. at the front of the First Presbyterian Church at 2619 Broadway. Tour lasts 90 minutes. Reservations can be made by calling 238-3234. www.oaklandnet.com/ 

walkingtours 

“Girl, I’ve Been Through A Lot...” Poetry workshop for girls age 13 to 17 at 4 p.m. at Oakland Public Library, Room 219, 125 14th St. 238-3134. 

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. 

“Hormone Disruptors: Is your environment making you ill?” at 7 p.m. at The Teleosis Institute, 1521 5th St., Upstairs Unit B. Cost is $5-$10. Reservations required. 558-7285. 

The Berkeley Lawn Bowling Club provides free instruction every Wed. and Sat. at 10:30 a.m. at 2270 Acton St. 841-2174.  

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.  

Berkeley Peace Walk and Vigil at 6:30 p.m. followed by Peace Walk at 7 p.m. www.geocities.com/vigil4peace/vigil 

THURSDAY, JUNE 22 

Landmarks Preservation Ordinance Porposed Revisions will be discussed at a special meeting of the Landmarks Preservation Commission at 7:30 p.m. at the North Berkeley Senior Center. 981-7484. 

Summer Solstice for Children Make musical instruments, paint with fairy dust, play games, dance, sing, and listen to stories from 3 to 7 p.m. at Habitot, 2065 Kittredge St. 647-1111. 

Easy Does It Disability Assistance meets at 6:30 p.m. at 1744A University Ave., behind the Lutheran Church. 845-5513. 

“Good Green Kitchens” with author Jennifer Roberts at 7:30 p.m. at Builders Booksource, 1817 Fourth St. 800-843-2028. 

Sacred Therapy: Jewish Spiritual Teachings on Emotional Healing and Inner Wholeness with Estelle Frankel at 7:30 p.m. at BRJCC, 1414 Walnut St. Cost is $10-$20. 465-3935. 

“Veterans Benefits for Assisted Living” an informational presentation at 2 p.m. at The Berkshire, 2235 Sacramento St. 841-4844. 

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

CITY MEETINGS 

Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board meets June 19, at 7 p.m. in City Council Chambers, Pam Wyche, 644-6128 ext. 113.  

City Council meets Tues., June 20, at 7 p.m in City Council Chambers. 981-6900.  

Berkeley Unified School Board meets Wed., June 21, at 7:30 p.m., in the City Council Chambers. Mark Coplan 644-6320. 

Citizens Humane Commission meets Wed., June 21, at 7 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center. Katherine O’Connor, 981-6601.  

Commission on Aging meets Wed., June 21, at 1:30 p.m., at the South Berkeley Senior Center. William Rogers, 981-5344.  

Downtown Area Plan Advisory Commission meets Wed. June 21, at 7 p.m. at the North Berkeley Senior Center. 981-7487. 

Library Board of Trustees meets Wed., June 21, at 7 p.m. at South Berkeley Senior Center. 981-6195.  

Landmarks Preservation Commission Special Meeting to discuss proposed revisions to the Landmarks Preservation Ordinance, Thurs. June 22, at 7:30 p.m. at the North Berkeley Senior Center. 981-7484. 

Zoning Adjustments Board meets Thurs., June 22, at 7 p.m., in City Council Chambers. Mark Rhoades, 981-7410.