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Dramatic though the crash appeared, only one person was injured when one car broadsided another at the intersection of Shattuck Avenue and Prince Street late Thursday morning. The blue car’s driver was unhurt, and the other driver was taken to a local emergency room for treatment of minor injuries. Photograph by Richard Brenneman.
Dramatic though the crash appeared, only one person was injured when one car broadsided another at the intersection of Shattuck Avenue and Prince Street late Thursday morning. The blue car’s driver was unhurt, and the other driver was taken to a local emergency room for treatment of minor injuries. Photograph by Richard Brenneman.
 

News

Evictions for Condo Conversion Targeted

By Judith Scherr
Friday July 21, 2006

Marcia Levenson treasures her Williard neighborhood and the apartment she has rented for two decades in the area. Because she’s living with a chronic disease, Levenson’s only income is disability payments. Her Section 8 voucher allows her to stay in the neighborhood and limits her share of the rent to 30 percent of her income.  

But a hot condominium market has residents in her four-plex abuzz with rumors that the property owner may convert the apartments to condos, turning “our neighborhood community into a cash register,” Levenson said, estimating that each of the units in her four-plex could be sold at $500,000. 

The Berkeley City Council Tuesday amended the city’s Condominium Conversion Ordinance, adding disincentives to ways property owners can convert units to condos by evicting tenants. The vote was 8-0, with Councilmember Betty Olds absent.  

The amendments are aimed at stabilizing tenancies of Section 8 voucher-holders and countering eviction without just cause in order to convert. 

“There’s a whole class of tenants sitting in fear of being converted,” said Councilmember Kriss Worthington, referring to Section 8 tenants. Worthington and Councilmember Max Anderson sponsored the ordinance, which was approved by the Rent Stabilization Board in May. 

If the property owner opts out of a government program such as Section 8 and then files within a year to convert the apartments to condos, he or she will have to wait five more years to convert the building under the revised condo law. 

“It’s in the city’s interest to try to protect the most vulnerable tenants,” said Jay Kelekian, executive director of the Rent Stabilization Board, who told the Daily Planet that he’s heard from a number of Section 8 tenants who fear their homes will be converted to condos. 

However, Michael Wilson, president of the Berkeley Property Owners Association, in a phone interview Thursday, called the fear that property owners would evict Section 8 voucher-holders “manufactured.” Property owners get market-rate rents for their Section 8 tenants and have no incentive to evict them to convert, he said.  

He further pointed out that the new amendments are likely to backfire, giving property owners a reason not to rent to people holding Section 8 vouchers. Also added to the ordinance is a requirement to inform tenants in writing at least 60 days prior to filing an application to convert the units. 

The new amendments provide that if a property owner forces out a tenant, without directly evicting the individual—called a constructive eviction—the owner will not be allowed to convert the building for five years. Such evictions include allowing an apartment to deteriorate so badly that there are health and safety code violations or removing the use of space, such as a backyard or a deck. 

“If you push somebody out, that’s not allowed,” Kelekian said. 

Worthington said the amendments are not intended to stop conversions. The current ordinance permits conversion of 100 rental units per year. (A Berkeley Property Owner Association-supported measure on the November ballot would allow conversion of 500 units per year.)  

“We don’t want to stop home ownership opportunities,” Worthington said. “The amendments are a disincentive to speculators to convert.” 

The current Condominium Conversion Ordinance provides protections to most tenants: they have the first option to buy their units and they have a lifetime guarantee of staying in the unit that is converted. In such cases, they rent the unit from the owner, with rent increases tied to hikes in the consumer price index. 

The current ordinance also includes disincentives for property owners to quit the rental business and evict tenants in order to convert the property, and to carry out owner move-in evictions in order to convert.  

Accusing the council of playing politics with the condo conversion law, “rather than solving the city’s housing problems,” Wilson argued that property owners should have been consulted. 

“The City Council has made a decision about condominium conversion without consulting the people who are actually involved,” he said.


News Analysis: Winning OUSD Proposal Failed to Meet Goals

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Friday July 21, 2006

While two rejected proposals for the Oakland Unified School District administrative properties substantially meet several district “baseline expectations and intentions,” the winning proposal by TerraMark/UrbanAmerica does not, an analysis by the Daily Planet has found. 

Included in the “expectations and intentions” of the district’s 2005 Request For Qualifications (RFQ) not reached by TerraMark/UrbanAmerica were provisions for affordable housing for teachers, construction of a multi-grade school complex to replace the five schools currently on the property site, and provisions for a possible ongoing revenue stream for the district. 

The analysis raises questions as to why TerraMark/Urban America got the winning bid. State Superintendent Jack O’Connell, who is handling the sale negotiations, has not released information on how he made his selection. 

 

District board calls for halt of sale 

Sale of the properties has stirred considerable controversy in Oakland in recent days, with most members of the OUSD Advisory Board of Trustees and a coalition of community organizations calling for a halt to the sale until local control is returned to the district. 

The district’s state-appointed administrator Randolph Ward and the seven members of the OUSD Advisory Board of Trustees signed off on the 2005 RFQ to either sell or lease 8.25 acres of Lake Merritt-area district property, including the Paul Robeson Administration Building, an elementary school, two high schools, and two child development centers. 

At a public hearing on the proposed sale held last week, Ward said, “I remember particularly not wanting to look at” selling the administration building when the RFQ was developed in 2005, but added, “It was something the board wanted to look at.” 

Of the seven board trustees, only Vice President Kerry Hammil said at last week’s hearing that she was still in favor of the proposed sale. She told fellow trustees that “we all approved the RFQ” in 2005. 

“If we want to say every administrative parcel is sacred” and not available for possible sale, she said, “it will be less money in the budget going to the school sites.” 

Three developers submitted proposals: the east coast-based TerraMark/UrbanAmerica team, Gilbane Properties of Palo Alto, and a development team including Oakland-based Strategic Urban Development Associates (SUDA). 

State Superintendent Jack O’Connell is currently negotiating a contract agreement with the TerraMark/Urban America team based on a Letter of Intent signed the first of June by state-appointed OUSD administrator Randolph Ward. Under the legislation that authorized the state takeover of the Oakland in 2003, O’Connell has the legal authority to make the final decision on the sale of the Oakland school properties. 

 

Expectations and intentions 

The district’s 2005 RFQ and Request for Proposals (RFP) included a number of what it called “baseline expectations and intentions by the District” which the RFQ said “all proposals must address.” 

Among these expectations and intentions were “the construction of a new instructional campus of small schools serving students from pre-school through high school” and “provide the district with an on-going revenue stream.” 

In addition, the 2005 RFQ-RFP said that while it was considering moving its administrative facilities to another location off the downtown property, “the District will consider proposals which provide modernized and/or new [administrative] facilities for the District” including a 70,000-square-foot District Headquarters and both adequate parking and provisions for alternate means of transportation for district employees. 

In addition, in a list of “other factors which the District will view favorably,” the RFQ-RFP included “public benefit, such as the provision of affordable housing or jobs for community residents; affordable housing for teachers; and retention and adaptive reuse of historic buildings.” 

The TerraMark/Urban America proposal calls for five 27- to 37-floor high-rise towers dominating the Lake Merritt Channel area, with luxury condominiums on the top and commercial space on the ground floors. The project is called “The Trophy” in honor of Heisman Trophy winners who played for the Oakland Raiders, and includes plans for a possible Heisman Trophy Museum.  

While TerraMark/UrbanAmerica proposes “a broad range of apartment sizes [that] will allow for a rich mixture of buyers from all age groups and socioeconomic backgrounds,” the proposal only refers to “market-rate” housing and does not specifically call for an affordable housing component, or set-aside housing for teachers.  

The TerraMark/UrbanAmerica proposal also makes no specific provision for the building of a new education facility on the property as called for in the district’s RFQ, but instead notes that “ideally, the developer seeks to make use of the entire acreage and pay the District a generous sum of money to find and construct new school/administrative buildings off-site.” 

“In an alternative arrangement,” the TerraMark/Urban America proposal adds, “the developer would set aside a portion of the [property] that the District could use for the construction of new school buildings and administrative space.” 

 

Losing bids 

In contrast, both the SUDA and Gilbane proposals call for the construction of a new multi-grade educational complex on the property as called for in the district’s RFQ to replace La Escuelita Elementary School, Dewy and MetWest High Schools, and two district-run child development centers. Both proposals also include the building of new district administrative facilities on the Lake Merritt-area property site. 

While the Gilbane proposal does not specifically mention an affordable housing component, it does mention affordable housing in its analysis of the Oakland/Emeryville housing market, saying that while the market is down for rental units rather than condominiums, “developers of subsidized affordable housing continue to develop rental units using a combination of conventional and governmental financing sources.” 

The SUDA proposal specifically calls for “both luxury and workforce housing,” and also includes “market-rate and affordable/workforce condominiums [targeted towards teachers].” 

Both the SUDA and Gilbane developments would differ significantly from the 37 to 27 story luxury towers of between 1,000 and 1,388 total residential units called for in the TerraMark/UrbanAmerica project, which also anticipates requesting the city close a portion of 2nd Avenue to be sold to the developers. 

SUDA proposes 725 residential units spread out between six housing structures, the largest two 35 and 24 stories respectively, but the other four low-rise buildings ranging between six and four stories. SUDA also proposes renovating the existing Paul Robeson Administration Building, setting up an urban plaza on the corner of 3rd Avenue and East 11th Street “to double as festival and event space for local residents and students,” “shared facilities, such as a Black Box Theater, a Gymnasium/Multipurpose facility and Community meeting and study rooms.”  

SUDA president Alan Dones says that even though the State Superintendent is currently in final negotiations with TerraMark/UrbanAmerica over the OUSD project, “we are not dropping our proposal. It’s absolutely still on the table. We’re not fighting anybody over it. We just want them to know that we’re still here if they’re interested.” 

SUDA is presently building the Thomas L. Berkley Square development in Oakland’s uptown area adjacent to the proposed Forest City development site. In addition, last year the developer was involved in a controversial proposal to develop the Peralta Community College District Administrative Building and several parcels owned by Laney College. Dones later voluntarily dropped his proposal after significant opposition to the plans developed among Laney College staff members and students, union representatives, and Peralta Board of Trustees members. 

The Gilbane proposal includes 540 residential units of between 20 and 7 stories and instead of closing a street, as TerraMark/UrbanAmerica proposes, would open the presently-closed East 11th Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenues. Gilbane also suggests a possible use of the Laney College athletic fields by the high school students on the Lake Merritt-area site. 

Neither the SUDA nor the Gilbane proposals provide final financial details of the proposed price for the OUSD properties, both organizations stating that the final price would depend upon the structure of the deal, including whether or not the land is purchased outright or a joint district-developer development project is entered into.  

The SUDA proposal specifically provides provisions for the ongoing revenue stream called for in the original district RFQ. 

The original TerraMark/UrbanAmerica originally mentioned such an ongoing revenue stream, but that proposal was dropped in the Letter of Intent later signed with the state superintendent and the state-appointed OUSD administrator. 

TerraMark/UrbanAmerica has proposed paying up to $60 million for the project, but the actual money eventually going to the district could be significantly reduced if various options within the proposal come into play.


Developer Declares Albany Mall Plan Dead

By Richard Brenneman
Friday July 21, 2006

Though an angry Rick Caruso said early Tuesday that he’s pulled the plug on his plans for a $300 million Albany waterfront mall, project foes say they expect him back. 

“Well, you don’t have to worry about me screwing up your waterfront,” Caruso told a political opponent at the end of a volatile Albany City Council meeting that shortly before 1 a.m. Tuesday. 

“It was pretty painful in the end,” he said to a supporter. 

Albany City Administrator Beth Pollard emailed councilmembers Tuesday afternoon that Matt Middelbrook, the former Los Angeles Deputy Mayor who has been running the developer’s campaign to win over Albany residents, had called to say “Caruso will not be moving forward with an application.” 

Councilmember Robert Lieber said Wednesday that he doubts Caruso is really withdrawing, and Mayor Alan Maris said he plans to call Caruso and ask him to reapply. 

“I’m hoping for it,” Maris said Wednesday. “I would like to see the opportunity for him to go through the normal application process.” 

Caruso staged a similar, much-publicized walkout two years ago in Glendale before the city council there agreed to his terms for a downtown mall. He had already spent $5 million on the project, according to an account in the Glendale News-Press. Three days later, he announced he’d reconsider given public and City Council support. 

Five months later, he defeated a referendum brought by opponents. 

Caruso and the city broke ground for the $324 million mall last month. 

A Santa Monica lawyer who represented Glendale and Caruso in a lawsuit filed by another mall owner was hired by Albany officials to handle legal work. He appeared at Monday night’s council meeting as an advisor to the council. 

The Albany council also voted unanimously Monday to approve placing an initiative on the November ballot after its proponents—environmentalists and other mall foes—secured the signatures of a fourth of the city’s electorate. 

That measure still faces a legal challenge which could keep it off the ballot (see related article).  

 

Developer demand 

Caruso insisted that the city commit to giving his project a full environmental impact review (EIR) even before it had seen a project application-- that led to Monday night’s showdown. 

His demand would have meant the city couldn’t reject his proposal out of hand, regardless of whether it violated city codes, plans or zoning, until it had gone through the extensive EIR process. 

City staff and fellow councilmembers weren’t ready to pass the resolution introduced by Councilmember Jewel Oakachi, both because they hadn’t had time to study it and because it was drafted by Caruso’s own attorneys. 

In a joint report, Pollard, City Attorney Robert Zweben and Community Development Director Ann Chaney declined to endorse it. 

“I do not recommend passage of a resolution drafted by Mr. Caruso,” said Zweben. 

If the council wanted to endorse the intent of the resolution, he said, staff should prepare their own version. 

When Okawachi moved approval, the attempt died for lack of a second. 

Councilmember Robert Good then moved that the council take no action on the proposal, pending submission of an application that presented Caruso’s plans in detail. Lieber offered a second, but the motion died on an three-two vote. 

Farid Javandel then moved that the staff prepare a resolution “that reassures the applicant that we would accept and process his application like any other.” Joined by Lieber and Good, that resolution carried the day against opposition from Okawachi and the mayor. 

The five-hour meeting ended moments later. 

Both votes had been preceded by long public comment periods, featuring sometimes heated remarks. 

Albany Unified School District board member David Farrell blasted what he called “the takeover initiative ... which threatens to rob the school district of badly needed funds and for the exclusion of the school board” from representation on the task force that will charter a future for the shoreline. 

That panel will consist of one member appointed by each of the city’s five councilmembers and one representative each from four environmental groups: Citizens for the Albany Shoreline, Sustainable Albany, the Sierra Club and Citizens for East Shore Parks. 

Project proponents hailed the mall plans as an economic stimulus for a cash strapped city increasingly forced to rely on bond measures to maintain basic services. Escape from increased property taxes was repeatedly invoked. 

Foes cited the potnetial threat to merchants on Solano and San Pablo avenues and the need to protect an environmentally sensitive waterfront. 

 

The project 

By Tuesday morning, rumors were already flying that had Caruso looking for new sites in Berkeley and Richmond. 

Middlebrook confirmed late Thursday that his firm is talking with officials in other cities, and said the firm is a eager to find another location in the East Bay. 

He declined to identify the specific cities. 

“We’ve had a number of calls in the last couple of days about potential opportunities,” he said. 

Caruso Affiliated Holdings had teamed with track owners Magna Entertainment to propose a $300 million mall on the track’s northwestern parking lot, complete with shops and major retailers—the Nordstrom name was bandied about and talk of apartments overhead. 

Shoreline renovations, a new park and public beach access were assured. 

The plan was paired with another joint effort at Magna’s Santa Anita race track in Southern California. 

Caruso and Magna waged a long detailed campaign to win over voters, holding innumerable “coffees” and other meetings where tax benefits were stressed, often by Caruso himself. 

Aiding the effort has been the public relations firm of Dion Aroner, former state Assembly member and a close political ally of her successor, Loni Hancock, and Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates, a former holder of the assembly seat and Hancock’s spouse. 

Caruso, a Southern California developer—a well-connected Republican and Bush donor who told another supporter he’d recently met with Karl Rove—has built his father’s rental car fortune into a shopping center empire. 

One mall, The Grove in the Los Angeles Fairfax District, even outdraws its next door neighbor, the famed Farmers Market, once the state’s most popular tourist attraction. 

Caruso builds historically themed open air shopping “experiences,” with broad, scenic expanses and designs architectural critics either love or hate. City governments usually love them for the sales taxes they bring.


UC’s Plans to Remove Trees from People’s Park Raise Concerns

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Friday July 21, 2006

Users of People’s Park met with UC Berkeley officials on Thursday for a park walk-through and discussion of some upcoming projects. 

The park’s users made it clear to university officials that attempts to cut down trees, clear undergrowth, and trim shrubbery in an effort to clean the university-owned park to curb crime needed to be done with community input. 

They reminded the officials about the 2003 Canopy Agreement, according to which the university agreed to work with the People’s Park Community Advisory Board Members on such matters as retaining any removed trees as chips, logs, and rounds and to educate and discuss with the public prior to removing trees at the park. 

Irene Hegarty, Director of the UC Berkeley Office of Community Relations, said that such discussion and retaining felled trees as chips, logs, and rounds in the park would be given careful consideration.  

Hegarty gave the guided tour along with Kate Bolton, assistant landscape architect, and Phil Cody, a UC Berkeley arborist.  

Hegarty highlighted the importance of keeping the park from becoming a haven for drug dealers, pointing out the dense undergrowth and shrubbery where such activities are thought to take place. A thousand hypodermic needles were found on the park’s premises in the last eight months, she said. 

People’s Park Community Advisory Board members, however, were not entirely convinced that clearing trees was the only way to check the drug problem. Board member Joe Halperin said that a lot of other steps needed to be carried out to control it. 

“It’s important to clean the place up because we don‘t want our kids or our pets to step on hypodermic needles,” he said. “Although at the moment I am not talking about removing a single tree, I think we should go ahead with sophisticated pruning. There is not a whole lot of continued maintenance of the park. We should look at the underbrush and see how we can clean it up. A sustainable ecological approach needs to be taken. Cutting down trees is not the approach to curb drug use.”  

Board member Lydia Gans said that the first step would be to draft a policy and forward it to university officials so that the process could go forward keeping everybody’s best interests in mind. 

During the walk-through along the east end of the park, Hegarty, along with Cody, pointed out several redwood trees which needed to be removed to avoid competition for space and sunlight. There was also talk of removing the acacia trees which were facing problems from co-dominant stem weightage. 

The east end of the park is home to community gardeners and according to Hegarty will be spruced and trimmed for a cleaner look. 

“This is the area where we have the majority of the drug dealing problems,” she said. “In the past shrubbery in this area has been vandalized and uprooted. A vegetation management system and a place to put all the green debris would certainly help.”  

Cody and Bolton both said that the exact proportion of how much vegetation needed to be cleared off from the park would be available after a careful assessment. 

“We are not doing this with the intention of murdering or cutting down any trees,” Bolton said. “Every tree will be given careful consideration.” 

Berkeley naturalist Terri Compost said that the addition-remove ratio should be kept in mind while carrying out the changes. 

“The park has its problems, but it also has beauty,” she said. “We like the patches of wilderness; it’s what makes the place so unique. I am mostly concerned about the fruit trees, the oaks. It’s very important not to have surprises in the park. There is a little story behind every tree and I want anything that gets cut in the park to remain in the park. People smoke dope behind buildings all the time, nobody talks about taking them down.” 

Greg Jalbert, a community gardener, stressed on the importance of making the park better overall. 

“The important question is how can we make the park better not just by cutting but by adding,” he said. “Before you haul off a tree, talk to us about it. As for the drug problem, why not have a needle exchange place set up at the park? We need to get to the source of the problem and solve it.” 

Caitlin Berliner, a UC student representative on the advisory board, stressed the importance of communication when it came to maintaining the park. “If a proper work day is declared then a lot of students would come forward to help clean up the park and even start gardening there. Fundraising is also a big possibility.” she said. 

George Beier, board member, suggested that given the current troubles on Telegraph Avenue with business closures and homeless, remodeling People’s Park would help encourage more pedestrian traffic in the area. 

“If students and neighbors feel comfortable walking through the park, Telegraph Avenue would be a lot better off,” he said. “We need to make more people use the park, make it more accessible.” 

Community Gardeners meet Sundays 1-4 p.m. in the west end of the Community Garden in People’s Park.


Council Hears Project Appeal, In-Lieu Fees, New LPO

By Judith Scherr
Friday July 21, 2006

The Berkeley City Council dealt with three development issues Tuesday: a citizen appeal of housing-retail project at 1201 San Pablo Ave., a proposal to charge developers in-lieu fees rather than requiring inclusionary units and the second reading of the Landmarks Preservation Ordinance. 

 

Development appeal 

Some 20 neighbors of a proposed 30,000-square-foot residential-commercial development at San Pablo Avenue and Harrison Street came to the City Council Tuesday evening to appeal the project approval in April by the Zoning Adjustments Board. 

After hearing from neighbors and developers who spoke during the scheduled public comment period, the council decided to set a public hearing on the project for September.  

“The project is too tall to be adjacent to a residential neighborhood; it should be one story lower,” said nearby neighbor Joan Molesky-Poz of the proposed five-story building. 

In order to deny concessions requested by a developer for a project with an affordable component, state law requires the city to find that the concessions were not necessary to make the project financiallly feasible. In this case, the ZAB majority was in favor of the building, and thus did not need to make feasibility findings. The majority thought that the building as proposed was a better building than a larger building that included a density bonus component would be. 

Other neighbors pointed to the problem of mandating only a five-foot separation between the new development and the neighboring residences.  

But project architect Don Mill argued that an appeal needed to be held on the project before the council, and not on what the neighbors want the project to look like. “The appeal needs to be decided on its merits,” he argued. 

Speaking for the Zoning Adjustments Board Commission, Commissioner Dave Blake told the council there was no legal alternative. “It’s the law—we have no choice,” he said. 

 

Condo developers can pay fee, skip inclusionary units 

Allowing condominium developers to pay a fee rather than provide one inclusionary unit for every five units of housing for people whose income is at 80 percent of the area’s median (around $40,000-$60,000 annually for a family of three) was popular with the council, which approved the ordinance unanimously Tuesday. 

Councilmembers agreed this would be a boost for truly affordable housing, because the city would be able to use funds received from developers to leverage more low-income housing money and create more units to serve very low-income people. 

Controversy arose, however, when Mayor Tom Bates called for a review of the fee in several months, after first consulting with the Housing Advisory and the Planning commissions. Bates’ proposal would set lower fees for developers. 

“It is in the spirit of being fair,” Bates said. “The developer should be allowed to (recuperate) costs.” 

Councilmember Kriss Worthington, who said he preferred higher developer fees, moved to table Bates’ motion, but lost, with only Councilmembers Max Anderson and Dona Spring voting to support his motion. 

Voting for the motion to review developer fees were Bates and Councilmembers Linda Maio, Darryl Moore, Laurie Capitelli, Betty Olds and Gordon Wozniak. 

 

Second reading of the landmarks ordinance draws fire 

Normally, the second reading of an ordinance, a mandatory step in the creation of local laws, passes quietly on unanimous council votes, but in the case of the controversial revision of the Landmarks Preservation Ordinance, opponents turned out to oppose passage of the ordinance on the second reading. 

One question, brought to the council by former Landmarks Preservation Comissioner Patti Dacey, was that the date for implementation of the ordinance when it was passed last week at first reading. In response, the council rescinded last week’s ordinance and passed a new draft at first reading which had the Nov. 1 start date included.  

The second question Dacey raised during the public comment period was whether the new ordinance was consistent with the voter-passed 1982 Neighborhood Commercial Preservation Initiative, provisions of which she said may conflict with the new ordinance. 

Councilmember Kriss Worthington responded by asking staff to report back next week on whether the two laws conflict; he also asked staff to report on the degree to which the initiative has been implemented in ordinance form.


Warm Pool Replacement Will Not Make November Ballot

By Judith Scherr
Friday July 21, 2006

Not many disabled people chose to stand up in public and talk about their handicaps. But that’s what Ben Rivers did at the City Council meeting Tuesday. 

Rivers was motivated by a pressing need to explain to city policy makers what the warm pool means to its disabled and elderly users. 

The pool, located at Berkeley High School, is slated for demolition and the One Warm Pool advocacy group has been lobbying the council for a replacement.  

“I have severe Parkinson’s,” said Rivers, trembling visibly and leaning on the arm of a friend. “I’ve tried many different treatments. The only thing that has ever helped is swimming.” 

Rivers said he needs a pool heated to the warm pool’s normal 92-degree heat. “Cold water makes my body freeze up,” he said. “It is very necessary for my life.”  

Although the council had conceptually approved placing a bond measure on the November ballot asking voters to fund a new warm pool, councilmembers agreed that, at this juncture, there are too many uncertainties to do so and voted unanimously to make the pool one of some two-dozen priority council projects.  

Staff will be hired to address this issue, paid for with General Fund money already set aside for the pool. 

The school district owns the site where the city hopes a new pool will be built: former tennis courts east of Milvia Street. The district is performing an environmental review of a number of projects in its South Campus Masterplan, including the demolition of the current pool and construction of a new indoor pool with locker rooms, but there is no firm agreement between the schools and city. Such an agreement cannot be finalized until after the environmental review is completed, likely in December, according to City Manager Phil Kamlarz. 

“We have to get together with the school district. We’ve been doing this dance,” said Mayor Tom Bates, referring to the uncertainties regarding the new pool site, including which agency will own the site and whether the school district will participate in its maintenance.  

These details need to be ironed out before the council can determine what such a project would cost and how to fund it, he said. Bates also noted that because people from neighboring cities use the pool, those cities should participate in its funding. 

If the warm pool is demolished without an alternative, Councilmember Dona Spring promised action by the disabled community: “The bulldozers will be blocked. I don’t think (the school district) wants to deal with the consequences,” she said.


Berkeley Man Wins Honor For Penning Awful Prose

By Suzanne La Barre
Friday July 21, 2006

In describing a tear’s journey from a cheek to the Long Beach Harbor, one Berkeley man sealed his fate as an inductee into the hall of literary infamy.  

Berkeley resident Bill Mac Iver wrote, “A single sparkling tear fell from Little Mary’s cheek onto the sidewalk, then slid into the storm drain, there to join in its course the mighty waters of the Los Angeles River and, eventually, Long Beach Harbor, with its state-of-the-art container-freight processing facilities.”  

The sentence was deemed so offensive it won an award in the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, a writing competition where entrants are challenged to pen bad opening lines to the worst novels imaginable. 

Mac Iver nabbed first place in the “purple prose” category, a catchall for the “writer who’s trying too hard,” said Scott Rice, contest founder and chair of the San Jose State University English and Comparative Literature Department, which sponsors the competition.  

“That was one of my favorites,” Rice said of Mac Iver’s contribution. “It’s so casual and confident, the way it starts out in one way and ends up another way … You have to wonder what’s next. Is it about Little Mary or the state-of-the-art container-freight facilities? It’s absurd in a clever way.” 

Mac Iver’s entry was absurd enough to qualify him for the grand prize, Rice said, an award that ultimately went to Carmichael resident Jim Guigli, a retired mechanical designer for the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, for the following:  

“Detective Bart Lasiter was in his office studying the light from his one small window falling on his super burrito when the door swung open to reveal a woman whose body said you’ve had your last burrito for a while, whose face said angels did exist, and whose eyes said she could make you dig your own grave and lick the shovel clean.” 

The Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, named for the minor Victorian novelist Edward George Earl Bulwer-Lytton, who produced the opener: “It was a dark and stormy night…”—a phrase later co-opted and made famous by the cartoon dog Snoopy--started on the San Jose State campus in 1982 with just three entries. That year, Gail Cain of San Francisco, was declared the winner with this line: 

“The camel died quite suddenly on the second day, and Selena fretted sulkily and, buffing her already impeccable nails—not for the first time since the journey began—pondered snidely if this would dissolve into a vignette of minor inconveniences like all the other holidays spent with Basil.” 

The contest has since attracted thousands of submissions each year—Rice no longer keeps exact figures—many from international contestants. 

Sentences are judged in multiple categories, such as children’s literature, detective fiction and adventure, by a panel of 24 “experts,” of whom about half are former winners, Rice said. The grand prize winner is said to receive a pittance; category winners, like Mac Iver, receive 15 minutes of fame, Rice said. If they want it. 

Mac Iver did not return multiple calls for this story. 

The criteria for judging are simple: there are none, Rice said.  

“That’s one of the secrets of the contest,” he said. “We’re not looking for anything.”


PRC Begins Investigating Case of Cop Stealing Drugs

By Judith Scherr
Friday July 21, 2006

The sergeant in charge of Berkeley’s drug evidence room copped a plea earlier this year, admitting he stole drug evidence in his charge. 

But now the Police Review Commission, working through a subcommittee, is asking how a police officer, reportedly a drug abuser, could have been involved with criminal activity over months—perhaps years—without the knowledge or intervention of fellow officers.  

“We are here to look at the investigation and see if there are any shortcomings,” said Commissioner William White, subcommittee chair. 

“We need to find out if the police knew (about the problems) and overlooked it,” said Commissioner Sharon Kidd. 

The subcommittee that also includes Commissioner Sherry Smith, began its work Monday, pledging to come to a conclusion within six months. 

Each committee member will read the 900-page police report, which details an investigation carried out jointly by the Berkeley Police Department and the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office. 

Members of the public can read the document at the records bureau, at the police department at Center Street and Martin Luther King, Jr. Way; the document can be purchased for about $84. 

Subcommittee members reported they had just begun to read the report, but Kidd said it already raised red flags. 

“Why didn’t they put (Kent) on administrative leave without pay until he had the physical?” she asked, referring to the findings in the report that indicated Kent put off having a mandatory physical for months.  

The subcommittee also plans to: 

• Speak with an expert in the field of drug abuse, learning in particular about how the department may have missed signs of Kent’s reported heroin and methamphetamine abuse; 

• Work with, to the degree possible, Police Officers’ Standards and Training, a Sacramento-based agency that has evaluated the Berkeley police’s drug evidence procedures and will be reporting to the BPD on its findings in August; 

• Read publications dealing with drug abuse in police departments, particularly the work of Tom Mieczkowski of the University of Florida; 

• Work with the police chief and a liaison with the department who has been close to the investigation; 

• Look at the question of drug-testing police; learning which communities do so and under what circumstances; 

• Interview the police officer and county investigator that conducted the investigation. 

“We need to move on this in the interest of the community,” said Commissioner Kidd. 

The subcommittee will hold a community workshop in October to hear from citizens and experts. The subcommittee will meet again July 31 at 5 p.m. at 1947 Center St., 3rd floor.


UC Berkeley Unions Plan Rally Against Transportation Fee Hikes

By Rio Bauce, Special to the Planet
Friday July 21, 2006

On Wednesday, UC Berkeley unions plan to rally against what they call “drastic changes” in the parking fees for disabled employees, carpool permits, and Bear passes that the university has unilaterally imposed upon their employees. 

The American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 3299, the Coalition of University Employees (CUE) Local 3, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Local 1474, and the University Professional and Technical Employees (UPTE) Local 1 are organizing the protest. 

The unions have set a rally for Wednesday at noon at University Hall (on the Addison Street side). 

Disabled employees previously paid $48 a month for parking permits. As of July 1, the price increased to $86 a month. 

“Essentially, they eliminated an entire category of parking permits for disabled people, “said Jon Rodney, CUE Local 3. ”The university decided that the disabled must pay what everyone else pays, but they also must use their placard or license plate.” 

The three-person carpool, which previously had cost $6, has been eliminated, along with the two-person carpool, which had cost $22. Instead, the university created a generic carpool permit which costs $30, of which you need at least two for a carpool. 

“It’s a rip-off,” said Mariciuz Manzanerez, a university custodian and a member of AFSCME. “I have worked there for seven years. They don’t care about us. We get paid barely anything. It’s impossible to pay for the new car pool permits … If you don’t bring your permit accidentally, you have to buy a new ticket for the day. This is ridiculous. They say they don’t have the money, and that they would respond to us. But they haven’t.” 

However, the university claims that the proposed changes in transportation are beneficial to the community. 

“The flexibility is increased,” said Adan Tejada, manager of Parking Administration at UC Berkeley. “You don’t need a set group of carpoolers. If you can’t find someone to carpool with, you can still buy a daily pass. It may be more expensive than last year, but not drastically.” 

Igor Tregub, member of the city’s Commission on Labor, commented, “Anytime there is a 500 percent increase in carpool costs, any flexibility is obliterated.” 

The other issue is the Bear Pass, which provides employees with unlimited rides on AC Transit. The cost has gone from $20 to $25 this year. 

“These things should be encouraged, not discouraged,” Rodney said, referring to public transportation and car pools. “Look at how successful Spare the Air Days have been. Why would the university do this?” 

Berkeley Councilmember Kriss Worthington is advocating for the university to offer freeEco Passes to employees, allowing free rides on public buses. 

“The obvious policy for the university is to provide free transportation and not making it more expensive to carpool,” Worthington said. “If you’re trying to get people out of their cars and use public transit, you need to provide them with a free Eco pass.” 

The unions sent a joint letter on June 30 to UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau and have not received a response from him regarding the fee increases. 

“The chancellor said that he would get back to us,” stated Debra Grabelle, AFSCME Local 3299. “It hits the low-wage workers particularly hard. A lot of them have been in wage fights with the chancellor and the university since November. We hope that they will reverse their decision.” 

The university’s justification for the fee increase involve the previous inconsistency in their programs and the increased costs of providing the program to the students. Tejada defended the university’s decision. 

“All the costs associated with parking needs to be recovered,” he said. “There has been a need of normalization of the rates. The proposed fee increases have been reviewed by the chancellor’s oversight committee. They wanted it to be consistent.” 

 


Suit Served Against Pacific Steel

By Suzanne La Barre
Friday July 21, 2006

Communities for a Better Environment (CBE), an Oakland-based environmental health and justice non-profit, has served Pacific Steel Casting with a federal lawsuit, the organization announced Wednesday. 

The group, alleging that the West Berkeley steel foundry is violating the federal Clean Air Act, filed the lawsuit July 6, but had not met success serving papers, said Adrienne Bloch, senior staff attorney with CBE. 

On Wednesday, Pacific Steel Spokesperson Elisabeth Jewel said the company still had not seen the lawsuit. “We are refraining from comment,” she said. 

In the lawsuit, CBE claims the steel company, comprised of three plants on Second Street, has exceeded emissions limits and failed to comply with reporting requirements. If found to have violated federal law, Pacific Steel may be liable for civil penalties, though exactly how much is unclear, Bloch said. 

CBE is seeking up to $100,000 for mitigation projects to benefit the community, the lawsuit says. 

The case has been assigned to magistrate judge Bernard Zimmerman, Bloch said. A hearing may be scheduled as early as two months from now, she said. 

“The function of the lawsuit is to bring Pacific Steel into compliance and I’m hoping the lawsuit will succeed in that,” said Janice Schroeder, a member of both CBE and the West Berkeley Alliance for Clean Air and Safe Jobs, a neighborhood watchdog group. “I want Pacific Steel to be a good neighbor and to clean up so not they only don’t have odors, but we don’t have toxics in the community.” 

Though the lawsuit represents the interests of community organizations like the West Berkeley Alliance and Berkeley Citizen, they are not named as plaintiffs in the case, as Berkeley Citizen representative L A Wood previously told the Daily Planet.  

Residents surrounding the plants have complained about odor and health problems for more than two decades. 

In December, Pacific Steel and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) reached a settlement agreement, which required the steel company to pay $17,500 in fines and install a $2 million odor-abatement system. BAAQMD recently penalized the company further for odor complaints, permit violations and installing equipment without the authority to do so. 

The air district is also very concerned Pacific Steel has not completed a health risk assessment, initially due in June, said Jack Colbourn, BAAQMD director of outreach and incentive, earlier this month. 

A separate small claims lawsuit against Pacific Steel, under the direction of the nonprofit organization Neighborhood Solutions, is also in progress. Residents are eligible to sue for up to $7,500 in damages.  

District 1 City Councilmember Linda Maio, who has been critical of the small claims suit because it could counteract clean-up efforts already underway, is amenable to the CBE action. 

“I’m not a technical person, so I can’t say what the grounds (of the lawsuit) are, but I think the more pressure we can put on Pacific Steel Casting (the better),” she said. “We really need them to clean up their emissions. … It’s just one more pressure point.” 

 


HUD Renews Redwood Garden Senior Housing Subsidy

By Rio Bauce, Special to the Planet
Friday July 21, 2006

Denise Fore, maintenance director of Redwood Gardens, a senior housing complex near Clark Kerr Campus that is home to around 200 senior citizens, said this week that the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will renew their subsidies for the Redwood Gardens complex. 

The HUD subsidy was given to Redwood Gardens twenty years ago and is set to expire on Nov. 17. 

When told of Fore’s response, Redwood Gardens resident Charlie Betcher, who had feared an end to the subsidies that allow the residents to live at the complex, said, “I’m delighted, just delighted.” 

Some residents at the complex are skeptical as to whether the housing will actually be renewed and are not celebrating yet. 

“It’s unclear to me,” said longtime resident Eleanor Walden. “We were told by Denise that everything was fine. Then I heard at a Sunday meeting that it is still in jeopardy. I’m a little at loss for words.” 

However, Fore said she was certain that Redwood Gardens will be receiving their subsidy renewal. 

“HUD has already renewed the contracts [for Redwood Gardens],” she said. “It’s just what they do. When a building is developed, HUD typically gives them a 20-year contract. All buildings have been renewed … especially the senior housing.”


Phantom Paintball Attacks Continue for Second Month

By Richard Brenneman
Friday July 21, 2006

Berkeley’s phantom paintballer is at it again, and police are asking for the public’s help in nailing the serial splatterer. 

The count to date includes 13 people, one car and one dog. 

The pigment-blasting baddie embarked on his spree on June 13, reports Berkeley police spokesperson Sgt. Mary Kusmiss. 

The first report came just before 8 p.m. that evening from a woman who said she’d been hit while walking along the 1300 block of University Avenue. 

Within minutes another attack was reported from the 1900 block of Ward Street, where a victim standing on the sidewalk was struck. 

The next call came minutes later from a motorist whose car was struck near the corner of Solano Avenue and Tulare Street. 

The next report came a minute after midnight on June 16, this time from a 30-year-old woman who was hit as she walked along Shattuck Avenue near the Carleton Street intersection. 

At 1 p.m., the attacker was back, hitting a pedestrian strolling on Shattuck Avenue near Blake Street. Less than two hours later, a woman called to say she had just been splatted behind the ear as she walked near the Radio Shack store in the 1600 block of University Avenue. 

On June 21 a woman was struck near the border of San Pablo and Cedar Streets, though she didn’t call in a report until the 30th, the day this paper published its first account of the mysterious assaults. 

On July 10, at Shattuck Avenue and Stuart Street a Berkeley woman, 56, was riding her bike at 7:45 p.m. when shot. No suspect was identified.  

The next day at 2:25 p.m., a woman was hit as she drove her car along the 1600 block of University Avenue, 

At 4:45 p.m. another projectile was fired at a driver, this time a father driving his eight-year-old son on errands. 

The father told police he was driving northbound on Shattuck near Channing Way when something whizzed by the father and stuck his son on the left cheek, leaving a red two-inch welt. 

At 4:25 p.m. on July 12, the paintball shooter was back again, hitting a 48-year-old Oakland man who was walking south on Shattuck near Russell Street. 

The man told officer he felt a “tremendous sting” on the front of the throat, then touched his neck to find his fingers tipped with pink paint. 

Four days later it was a dog’s turn to be splattered as the critter’s 25-year-old mistress walked her pooch along Martin Luther King Jr. Way near Cedar Street at 8 p.m. 

A minute later, officers were called to the 2000 block of Ashby, where a commuter had been blasted on a walk to the BART station. 

Sgt. Kusmiss said two more attacks were reported just minutes apart on Thursday. 

In the first assault, a man was hit at 12:25 p.m. as he walked along Shattuck near Kittredge Street. Five minutes later, a woman was hit near Shattuck and Parker. Both were struck in the chest by white paintballs.  

“We’re hoping the community will help us catch whoever’s doing this,” said Sgt. Kusmiss. 

While the paintballs could put out an eye—the reasons recreational paintballers wear goggles—the officer said an attack on a motorist could lead to a panic reaction and a major accident. 

She asked anyone with any information to possible suspects or vehicles involved in the attack to call BPD’s non-emergency number, 981-5900—though anyone seeing an attack as it happens should call 911.


Stolen Car Chase Ends in Hills With Possibly Another Stolen Car

By Richard Brenneman
Friday July 21, 2006

A Richmond police pursuit ended near the Claremont Hotel Tuesday night but not before a helicopter search and prowling patrol cars alarmed nearby residents. 

Berkeley police spokesperson Sgt. Mary Kusmiss said Berkeley officers were alerted at 6:35 p.m. by the Richmond department, who said their cars were chasing a suspected stolen car into the city. 

The driver was reported armed with a semi-automatic pistol. 

Berkeley cars joined in, but the officers lost sight of the car—a 2006 Chrysler 300—near the intersection of Claremont and Ashby avenues. 

It was Berkeley officers who finally spotted the car, parked in front of a home in the 2800 block of Elmwood Avenue. 

The pilot of a California Highway Patrol helicopter who regularly monitors the Berkeley, Richmond and Oakland police bands joined in the pursuit. 

The suspect managed to evade the search, but he did leave behind a dozen power tools in the trunk of the stolen car, Sgt. Kusmiss said. 

Though readers told the Daily Planet that the bandit had stolen another car, the officer said she was unable to confirm that account. 

But a resident of nearby Pine Street said her 1993 Saab was the likely getaway car. 

The woman, who spoke on condition that her name not be used, was first alerted to unusual goings-on by the sirens and the sound of the helicopter. 

“I noticed a policeman on the corner and asked my son to find out what was going on,” she said. 

Leaving the door ajar, the young man went to check—and the woman believes it was then that the theft went down. 

“The keys were on a table by the door and you could see them through the window,” she said. 

The theft itself was finally discovered about 9:15 p.m. 

“I hope I get it back,” she said. “I don’t think it’s the kind of car he’ll want to ride around in.”


Harrison Announces Intention To Run For School Board Seat

By Suzanne La Barre
Friday July 21, 2006

Norma Harrison, a communist and active member of the Peace and Freedom Party, has announced a bid for school board.  

Harrison, 71, is seeking one of three open seats on the five-member Berkeley Board of Education this November. A self-employed realtor and former public school teacher, Harrison has lived in Berkeley since 1979. She has never run for public office. 

“I’m not talking about funding, racial integration, smaller class sizes—I’m not talking about the usual issues,” she said in a phone interview Tuesday. “I’m talking about creating a venue to go toward talking about the kind of living we like. There’s no place for that conversation these days.”  

If elected, Harrison would work to “gradually eliminate school as we know it,” she said. She did not offer specific plans.  

Harrison grew up in Chicago, and attended Roosevelt University, where she obtained a teaching degree in 1963. She taught in the Chicago public schools for five years and on a kibbutz in Israel for one year. She has worked as a substitute teacher in the Bay Area, and held other odd jobs while raising two children.  

Her daughter attended King Middle School and Berkeley High School in the 1980s, but did not graduate. Harrison’s son, who attended public school in Chicago, also dropped out of school. 

Harrison’s husband, Jack Harrison, a member of the Rent Stabilization Board, is running for California Attorney General; Harrison serves as his campaign manager. 

Harrison has not yet submitted official nomination papers. She is in the process of collecting 150 signatures, which absolves her of the need to pay Berkeley’s $150 candidacy filing fee.  

She has not sought any endorsements. 

Harrison is up against incumbent school board directors Nancy Riddle and Shirley Issel, and challenger Karen Hemphill, who lost a bid for the board in 2004. After two terms of service, board President Terry Doran does not plan to run again for his seat. 

The Berkeley Federation of Teachers, the union representing 700 teachers and other certificated employees, has endorsed Hemphill.


Berkeley Housing Authority Names New Acting Manager

By Suzanne La Barre
Friday July 21, 2006

The embattled Berkeley Housing Authority (BHA) has a new acting manager, Housing Department Director Stephen Barton announced Thursday. 

Tia Ingram, former Berkeley Housing Authority manager and current employee for the Housing Authority of the County of Alameda, accepted the job, a six-month appointment effective July 31. BHA Acting Manager Beverli Marshall, who was on loan from the Berkeley Public Library where she was finance manager, returns to her regular position. 

Ingram has worked as the eligibility services manager for the Alameda County Housing Authority for five years. Prior to that, she was the executive director of the Richmond Housing Authority. 

In the city of Berkeley, she has worked for both the Housing Authority and the Berkeley Community Development Department. She was previously Berkeley Housing Authority manager for about a year and a half, Barton said. 

She reenters the position as the agency struggles to correct a laundry list of administrative deficiencies, or risk dissolution or other consequences . Ingram is the agency’s fourth manager in four years. 

“We’re extremely happy someone with this experience and background is willing to make this commitment to a housing authority that is as troubled as the Berkeley Housing Authority,” Barton said Wednesday. 

Ingram will earn an annual salary of $101,000. She could not be reached to comment by press time. 


Mall Foes Face Legal Battle with Initiative

By Richard Brenneman
Friday July 21, 2006

While foes of the upscale mall planned for the Albany shoreline have apparently won one battle before the City Council, there’s another struggle in the courts. 

Backers and foes of a proposed November ballot initiative that would halt shoreline development pending the outcome of a new planning process laid out the battle lines in an Oakland courtroom Wednesday morning. 

That measure would ban new development within 600 feet of the shoreline and create a new task force to plan the waterfront’s future.  

The question before Alameda County Superior Court Judge Winifred Y. Smith is whether technical errors made by backers before circulating their petitions are enough to pull their initiative off the ballot. 

Whatever the judge decides, the county registrar of voters wants an answer by Aug. 14, deadline day for laying out the ballot and accompanying mailings. 

Pacific Racing Association, the operators of Golden Gate Fields, filed suit against Albany City Clerk Jacqueline Buchholz to stop a vote on the initiative, contending that backers filed to meet the basic legal requirements of posting and publishing public notice before they began their signature drive. 

The environmentalists who sponsored the measure say they followed the law’s spirit, if not the letter. 

Initiative backers collected signatures from that 3,200 registered voters, more than a fourth of the city’s electorate, on a petition for the Albany Shoreline Protection Initiative. 

Before they can circulate petitions, the California Elections Code requires initiative sponsors to publish notice of the drive in a paper published in the same county and certified by county courts as suitable for the purpose—hence the term “adjudicated publication.” 

The statutes also call for posting the same notice in three public places. 

Initiative backers didn’t comply with the posting requirement, but contend that significant coverage of the drive in local media fulfilled the intent of the law—a point strongly disputed by the track, which contends that news stories are significantly different from the specific form and content of the neutral notices required by law. 

And while initiative backers did publish a notice in the West County Times—the same paper the city uses to publish its own legal notices—therein lies another rub. 

The West CountyTimes is part of the the Walnut Creek-based Contra Costa Times. Albany, however, is an Alameda County city. 

City Attorney Robert Zweben said the city is allowed to avoid that provision of the code because it is a charter city, and a provision of the charter specifically allows for just that. 

He said the city also posts the notice in three public places including the library and city hall. What works for the city doesn’t necessarily apply to citizens, said the lawyer. 

Two Albany mayors were one hand for the hearing—current incumbent Allan Maris, a strong proponent of the mall, and environmentalist former mayor Robert Cheasty, an initiative advocate. 

“It gets down to compliance,” said the judge, and the question of whether initiative supporters fulfilled the intent of the law. 

Stuart Flashman, attorney for the environmentalists, argued that under the letter of the law, initiative backers could have printed their announcement in the Tri-Valley Herald or the Alameda Journal, adjudicated papers in the county—but ones without a readership in Albany. 

“The proponents are required to publish and post in the manner the legislature determined they should occur,” said Marguerite Leoni, a lawyer for the track. 

Proponents conceded that the notice hadn’t been posted, but said it wasn’t necessary because people looked to the non-adjudicated Times for notices. 

While prevision court decisions have allowed for some leeway in applying the statute, the question Judge Young must decide is whether the unique deviations in the case are enough to disqualify the measure.


Fire Department Log

By Richard Brenneman
Friday July 21, 2006

Porch arson 

An early report and prompt action by police left firefighters with nothing but smoke when they answered a call to 2442 Acton St. early Tuesday. 

Police arrived first when the fire—a suspected arson—was reported at 4:18 a.m. 

“They had it out by the time we arrived,” said Deputy Fire Chief David P. Orth. 

The incident is still under investigation by BFD’s arson experts.


Telegraph Peet’s Wins Approval at ZAB

By Suzanne La Barre
Tuesday July 18, 2006

Three days after one Berkeley institution closed its doors on Telegraph Avenue another won overwhelming approval to open.  

The Zoning Adjustments Board (ZAB) unanimously approved plans to establish a Peet’s Coffee and Tea at the corner of Telegraph and Dwight Way Thursday, just a block from where Cody’s Books, a Telegraph Avenue fixture for nearly half a century, stands empty as of last Monday. 

Despite calls from city planning staff to deny the project—the project requires building permits typically tough to obtain—ZAB members voted their support, sans debate or hesitation.  

“The fifth block (of Telegraph) needs a shot in the arm,” said board member Andy Katz. “There’s a chance for this to give Telegraph a big boost.” 

Pending final ZAB approval next week, Peet’s will move into a vacant 1,710-square-foot retail space at 2501 Telegraph Ave. The corner storefront, formerly occupied by Krishna Copy, is part of the historic Mrs. Edmund P. King Building, a two-story Colonial Revival structure that includes Sharks vintage clothing and four residential units. 

Property owners John Gordon and Janis Mitchell expect to expend $270,000 renovating the storefront. Peet’s will open by November, Mitchell said.  

“We’re excited, we’re happy, we’re all great Peet’s fans,” Mitchell said after the meeting Thursday.  

A handful of Telegraph area shopkeepers and residents shared her sentiment. 

“As you all know, Telegraph Avenue is a blighted area,” said Doris Moskowitz of Moe’s Books on Telegraph, between Dwight and Haste Street. “The idea (that) Peet’s would come there is the best we’ve heard of in a long time … Here we have an opportunity to bring a really good business to a street that really needs it.” 

Sales tax revenue along Telegraph Avenue has declined since 1992, according to city Community Development Coordinator Dave Fogarty. Peet’s won’t necessarily fatten the city’s sales tax coffers, he said. It will, however, attract shoppers who don’t typically frequent Telegraph Avenue. 

“I think it’s important to have a Peet’s, but not for sales tax revenue,” Fogarty said in a phone interview last week. “It upgrades the whole image of the area. Peet’s is a very prestigious company.” 

Peet’s, a Berkeley-based company now headquartered in Emeryville, operates 120 stores nationwide—including five in Berkeley—and boasts more than $175 million in annual revenues. 

“This is not a faceless corporation,” Doug Welsh, vice president of the Peet’s coffee division, told the board Thursday. He underscored that he and many of his Peet’s colleagues are longtime Berkeley residents with children in Berkeley’s public schools. 

Opposition to the proposed project came primarily from owners of two existing quick-serve restaurants on Telegraph Avenue, wary of competition.  

“We have had a difficult time in the last 20 years,” said Dari Shamtoob, who manages Bayking Doughnuts and Pastries on Telegraph, flanked by Moe’s and the former Cody’s storefront. “Cody’s closing will only make it more difficult for us. If Peet’s comes, that’s one more business that will go.” 

But his voice was by-and-large drowned out by Peet’s supporters.  

“For us, it is not just the opening of another coffee shop,” said Marlon Maus, the president of a homeowners’ association on the 2600 block of Telegraph Avenue. “It really is a symbol of something much more important … People do need clean, safe, attractive places where they can congregate. Right now there are none.” 

Maus said, “This may be a sign Telegraph is not in a freefall, but turning around for the better. We hope this will encourage others to invest in our neighborhood.”


Office Depot Beats Out Local Vendors for City Contract

By Suzanne La Barre
Tuesday July 18, 2006

A multi-year, $1.65-million contract for city office supplies will go to Office Depot, pending approval by the City Council tonight (Tuesday). 

Beating out four office suppliers—including two local vendors—Office Depot has won a bid to provide the city with recycled paper and miscellaneous office products, at $550,000 a year over three years. If approved, the contract takes effect, retroactively, July 1. 

Office Depot was “the lowest bid, and we also require being able to order our stuff online. Anybody that had that we considered,” said Fran David, city director of finance. 

The next lowest bidder, Office Max, came in about $35,000 higher than Office Depot. Corporate Express, Alko and Radstons, whose Berkeley store closed Saturday, also submitted bids. Alko, located on Shattuck Avenue, was the only company that did not offer sufficient online ordering, David said. 

The city spends an average of $537,000 a year on office products. The cost of paper and supplies has increased by 6.8 percent and 2.4 percent, respectively, over the last year, according to a staff report.  

This is the first time in nine years the city initiated its own competitive bid process for office supplies, David said. Until recently, the city had to piggyback on contracts of other municipalities because it lacked the staff to generate requests-for-proposals, she said.  

The process affords local companies the opportunity to vie for the city’s patronage, the staff report says. In 1983, the City Council adopted a resolution that gives preference to local businesses for city purchases between $100 and $10,000 (now $25,000). 

Over that amount, though, “we can’t give any preference for local business, because it’s not legal,” David said. 

Office Depot distributed most of the city’s office supplies from 1999 to 2005. Last year, the city reallocated the bulk of its business to Corporate Express, also an international company, because Office Depot failed to offer recycled processed chlorine-free (PCF) paper. (Office Depot now offers PCF paper.) 

Office Depot, a Florida-based conglomerate that operates in 23 countries, generates more than $14 billion a year in sales. The company has a storefront in Berkeley and donates 5 percent of its annual city taxes to the Berkeley Unified School District, the staff report says. A company representative could not be reached to comment by press time.  

Local suppliers who bid on the contract have expressed frustration at losing out to a major corporation.  

“I think it’s stupid they don’t consider the value of keeping resources at home,” said Gary Shows, owner of Alko, a Berkeley business for 35 years. “I think it’s wrong.” 

The city contracted with Alko about 10 years ago but withdrew its support when Office Depot entered the scene, Shows said. City dollars earmarked to Alko have steadily declined over the years, down from about $15,000 in 2003 to $7,000 last year. 

Radstons Owner Diane Griffin told the Daily Planet last month she was hopeful of securing the three-year contract. Griffin had just announced that the company, a Berkeley institution since 1908, would lay off workers and close its downtown storefront in July, due to financial hardships. (Radstons has a distribution center and retail complex in Hercules.) 

“In my situation, I’m letting my employees go, and this would have salvaged two of my longtime employees,” Griffin said in a phone interview Friday. “If they understood the impact of buying from a local vendor, they would understand the impact of where the money goes and where the money stays.” 

Radstons contracts with other municipalities and city departments including the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, Oakland Housing, UC Berkeley and the city of Richmond, Griffin said. Radstons was equipped to supply the city of Berkeley with the gamut of its office needs, she said. 

“I’m disappointed, safe to say,” she said.  

The contract is up for approval on the City Council’s consent agenda tonight. The council meets at 7 p.m., at 2134 Martin Luther King Jr. Way.


Ward Leaves OUSD with Far-Reaching Changes

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Tuesday July 18, 2006

With Oakland education leaders traveling to Sacramento this week to lobby for a return to local control of the Oakland Unified School District, OUSD documents reveal that the real power over the future direction of Oakland’s public schools may lie with private foundations.  

Documents authorizing last year’s much-publicized $10 million Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation grant to OUSD’s Expect Success! reorganization mandate that the Gates Foundation can withhold the funds or terminate the funding agreement if the foundation does not approve of “significant leadership changes” within OUSD. The district has also received a $6 million grant from the Broad Foundation, which works with urban school districts. 

In addition, the May 2005 district-written proposal requesting the funds from the Gates Foundation indicates district administrator Randolph Ward’s intention that the massive Expect Success! school district reorganization now under way would be put in place in such a way that it would be a permanent fixture of the Oakland schools that could not be overturned by OUSD’s elected school board even after the anticipated return to local control. 

According to the OUSD funding proposal, a “major risk is that, once Oakland makes the return to local control, … the local school board could attempt to dismantle the reform.” The funding document concludes that Expect Success! organizers “expect to complete the [Expect Success!] change process while the district is under state control, and it will be difficult to dismantle the new design completely.” 

In addition, the Expect Success! funding proposal worried that unions representing Oakland Unified workers would fight the reforms called for in the proposal, calling those unions “another area of risk.” 

One portion of the Expect Success! proposal appears to call directly for the replacement of unionized workers, indicating that one of the areas of the project “focuses on service areas with high potential cost savings, yet which face potential union and legal challenges: Custodial, Building & Grounds and Food Services. All three areas generally demonstrate poor cost performance and provide low to moderate quality service. External service providers are also strong options for all three areas…” 

Read that portion of the proposal over the telephone, newly-installed Oakland Education Association teachers union president Betty Olson-Jones, who said she had not previously seen the proposal, said “Oh, my God!,” adding that the proposal’s provisions were openly calling for “busting the unions” by “outsourcing” district jobs and services currently being held by unionized employees. 

OUSD Board President David Kakishiba said by telephone that “the way Expect Success! has been rolled out has not been healthy for the district. The ideal time for them to do this is while the district is under state receivership, so that they can do it under absolute authority. They don’t have to deal with an elected board and, by extension, they don’t have to deal with labor.” 

Kakishiba, who says he supports some of the goals of Expect Success! but says he has “some disagreements with some of the aspects of the program and some of its fundamental assumptions,” said he believes “some of the program’s supporters are running scared right now. They banked on Ward being here for five years and now that he is going, they are worried about the new regime” to be selected by State Superintendent O’Connell to run Oakland’s schools. 

“They’re as afraid of what the new administrator might do as they are of an elected school board,” he said 

Jointly managed by the OUSD state administrator’s office and the private nonprofit, Oakland-based Bay Area Coalition for Equitable Schools (BayCES), Expect Success! is a three-year, $43.3 million project which the project proposal’s Executive Summary says is intended “to create a new organization rather than improve the existing one,” and is designed to create what OUSD officials call a “performance management culture” in the district. Among the components of that culture listed in the proposal are “a lean central office; market-driven services; [and] Results-Based Budgeting.” 

Critics of the program say it is an attempt to reshape the public school system on an untested and inappropriate corporate model. 

“I have a lot of suspicions about something that puts so much emphasis on systems and loses track of the actual teaching of children, ” OEA President Olson-Jones said. 

He added that “I don’t even see that they have plans for great new systems, just new jargon. They say that they are going to deliver certain services to ‘customers,’ and when you ask them what they mean by ‘customers,’ it’s the teachers and principals. My big concern is that it’s a kind of a front for the business model of school operation that Eli Broad is committed to.” 

The Broad Foundation, which advertises that its mission is “to dramatically improve K-12 urban public education through better governance, management, labor relations and competition,” has committed a $6 million grant to the OUSD Expect Success! project. In addition, in 2003 outgoing OUSD administrator Ward was trained in the foundation’s Broad Center for Superintendents training program. 

Board President Kakishiba said that the district personnel putting Expect Success! in place “must be high” if they “expect completion of the entire program in 2008.” 

“I don’t have deep faith in our leadership when they talk like this,” he said. “I’m looking at a 10 year program to completely change the management culture in the Oakland Unified School District. Am I against a complete overhaul of the district system? No. Do I understand what is presently going on in this overhaul? No. Would it be better if we involved the key stakeholders in the implementation of this overhaul, even if it took longer to implement? Yes.” 

Kakishiba said that he sees two “bad cultural assumptions” about the Expect Success! implementation. 

“There is an assumption among the people putting this together that the school district is thoroughly rotten, the people working in the district are rotten, and in order to reform the district we have to shut it down completely and grow a new school district,” he said. “I don’t agree with that.” 

Kakishiba said one of the problems with that assumption is that it has resulted in wholesale firings of district personnel. 

“You start seeing purges of whole groups of people,” he said. “You look at the central administrative offices and it’s hard to find many people who were there even three years ago. We’ve lost a lot of institutional memory. We’ve driven out a lot of talent.” 

The board president said that his second concern about the program’s implementation is that “it’s based on the notion that real change cannot occur with democratic participation. That’s counter-intuitive to the type of system we are trying to create. It’s saying that the paid personnel know the answers and they have to be given time to embed these things in the system before we go back to normal operation.” 

But asked if Expect Success! was a good idea, Trustee Greg Hodge said “generally speaking, yes. It pulls together various initiatives that were being discussed during Dennis’ time [former OUSD Superintendent Dennis Chaconas]: small schools, results-based budgeting, evaluation of teacher performance, and better deliverance of service to sites. The idea of a reorganization of the central office is radical, but people have been asking for that for years. We need a central office that is responsive, nimble, and not so top-heavy. A lot of the people criticizing Expect Success! are doing so just because it started under Randy [Ward] and BayCES.” 

Hodge said he took a seat on BayCES’ board of directors so that he could have a voice with OUSD administrator Ward “in a way that wasn’t happening in my role as a school board member” following the state takeover.  

The main problem with Expect Success! is that Randy didn’t use his people skills to try to convince people about the merits of the program. He tried to force it down people’s throats,” Hodge said. “I told them that they could do it that way, but they would pay for it on the back end. Now is the moment of truth, when the board and the community will have to come together and discuss this and see if they can accept it. We need to have a public debate on the program.”  

The Oakland Unified School District has been run through the office of State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell since a 2003 budget crisis forced the Oakland public schools into state receivership. 

With the elected OUSD school board acting in an advisory capacity only, O’Connell has run the Oakland schools for the past three years through state administrator Randolph Ward. Ward recently resigned his OUSD post to take the job of San Diego County Superintendent of Schools. 

O’Connell is currently conducting what his office is calling a “nationwide search” to find a replacement for Ward. A spokesperson in O’Connell’s office said that “until we have an announcement to make about the actual appointment, our office will not be releasing any details about the search process.” 

Kakishiba and board Vice President Kerry Hammill have a meeting scheduled with O’Connell on Wednesday to discuss the board’s recent proposal to return OUSD to local control by the summer of 2007. Kakishiba said that while discussion of Ward’s replacement is “not on the agenda,” he would “certainly be willing” to talk about the subject if O’Connell brings it up. 

While the O’Connell-Kakishiba-Hammill meeting will be a private affair, members of the newly-formed Ad Hoc Committee to Restore Local Control/Governance to Oakland Schools say they plan to travel to Sacramento on Wednesday to attempt to meet with local legislators, including State Senator Don Perata (D-Oakland), and State Assemblymembers Wilma Chan (D-Oakland) and Lonnie Hancock (D-Berkeley). 

The organization has released what it is called three “points of unity,” including: Immediately restore the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) to local control/governance, so that we, the people of Oakland, can make the decisions about our school district; immediately freeze the sale of all OUSD property until local control/governance has been restored; and immediately freeze spending the last $35 million from the state loan until return of local control/governance. 

The coalition has been meeting at the OUSD downtown headquarters, and consists of local educational activists, teachers, political leaders, and several school board members. 

 


Youth Program Ordered Off Toxic Site

By Richard Brenneman
Tuesday July 18, 2006

State officials have ordered a popular after-school tutoring program to leave Richmond’s contaminated Campus Bay after officials and citizens spotted children playing in a toxic off-limits area. 

The state Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) ordered Making Waves to end programs at Building 240 by July 28, with adult staff to vacate on Sept. 1. 

That program offers tutoring and other educational support to children drawn primarily from 20 elementary schools in Richmond and seven others in San Francisco. 

The decision satisfies calls by anti-pollution activists and the DTSC’s own Community Advisory Group (CAG), a citizen group created to offer input on the cleanup effort. 

CAG members had voted on Jan. 4 to ask the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board to enforce an April 28, 2004, deed restriction that banned day care centers, schools and hospitals from operating on the 86-acre site. 

Their request was denied, after both state officials and Contra Costa County Public Health Director Wendel Brunner said that tests showed no significant risks to students at the facility. 

But those tests were confined to the building housing the program and an adjacent parking lot—not the decontamination site at the rear of the building where trucks had been sprayed down to remove dust generated in the excavation of contaminated soil. 

It was in that area that several children were observed playing—including one who was lying down on the dusty pavement—during a June 4 site visit by state officials, a developer and a citizens’ advisory group. 

That discovery occurred as CAG members, DTSC officials and Doug Moesteller of developer Cherokee Simeon were touring the site in a chartered bus. 

“From the front to the back, there was an audible gasp that spread through the bus,” said Sherry Padgett, Bay Area Residents for Responsible Development’s (BARRD) spokesperson and a CAG member, describing the moment tour members spotted the youths. 

“They were goofing around,” said Richmond City Councilmember Gayle McLaughlin, herself a CAG member. 

“One kid kicked another one, and he fell down in the dirt,” said CAG members Simms Thompson. “It goes to show the state should’ve been monitoring them on a continuous basis.” 

Lynn Nakashima, a DTSC official, ran from the bus and ordered the children back into the building. Repeated calls to Making Waves were not returned. 

 

Troubled history 

Campus Bay is the name created for a site that from 1897 to 1997 housed a massive chemical manufacturing complex which produced a small ocean of sulfuric acid and a host of other compounds including pesticides and herbicides. 

The deed restriction, filed by Cherokee Simeon Venture LLC with the Contra Costa County Recorder’s Office, was filed as part of a cleanup undertaken during the water board’s oversight. 

The water board had regulatory oversight of the property during the cleanup that followed the plant’s closure, until activists and, ultimately, the Richmond City Council asked for a DTSC takeover. 

The water board had approved a plan, much criticized by activists, that permitted 350,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil and iron pyrite cinders to be buried in a 20-acre covered pit on the site. 

Since the DTSC takeover, more contaminants have been identified at the site, and records have been located indicating that still others may lurk within the bayside earth and the waters that flow through it. 

Cherokee Simeon planned a 1,331-unit high-rise condo and apartment complex for the main part of the site. Simeon Properties, one-half of the partnership, had already developed a corporate office park on the inshore portion of the site. 

Special fans and open ventilation were planned beneath the buildings to prevent the building up of noxious vapors escaping from the soil, and gardens and the consumption of plant foods grown on the site were banned. 

The developer put those plans on hold, pending the outcome of the regulatory change and new cleanup efforts. 

 

Shutdown 

While no one has questioned the value of the Making Waves program, the same activists who fought for the regulatory change also sought to have the program removed from the property—citing their concerns about potential toxic exposure to its more than 200 young participants. 

Board chair is John Scully, an investment banker (SPO Partners & Company) who is also a principal partner in the San Francisco Giants, the largest investor in Pier 39. 

According to the program’s web site, major donors include the Giants, Pier 39, the Overa Family Group Charitable Trust, the ChevronTexaco Refinery and the law firm of Morrison & Foerster. 

Making Waves Foundation board member Ron Nahas, a real estate developer and the principal of a firm with properties in Richmond and Idaho, told the CAG on Jan. 4 that Campus Bay “was the only place that could accommodate our students.” 

Nahas had come to the meeting after the CAG had voted a month earlier to asked the water board to enforce the deed restriction that would otherwise have barred Making Waves from Campus Bay. 

Brunner, the county public health director, told the CAG at the same meeting that soil gases in the building used by Making Waves showed the presence of vapors of two noxious chemicals, benzene and tolunene—but at levels below the threshold of concern. 

Benzene, the one substance linked to cancer, was found at levels where the future risk of developing cancer was rated at 7.6 in 100 million, he said.  

After the January meeting, Cherokee Simeon officials sent letters to local media, charging that the CAG and the activists of BARRD with neglecting scientific evidence to “insist that the kids of Making Waves would be better off on the street.” 

Two days later, CAG members sent a written complaint to DTSC Regional Branch Chief Barbara Cook. The four-page document was signed by CAG Chair Whitney Dotson, who had also been on the tour with his sister, Ethel. The Dotsons were raised in Seaport Village, a vanished apartment complex not far from Campus Bay. 

DTSC responded on June 22, with a letter to Making Waves Executive Director Glenn W. Holsclaw. 

After noting that the agency’s restrictions barred students from all but the building and front parking lot, the DTSC’s Barbara J. Cook said, “We were disappointed to see that the conditions were not being enforced and followed ... Because DTSC cannot guarantee that an incident of this type will not occur in the future, we regret to inform you that we have determined that the use of Building 240” is “no longer an acceptable use of the facility.”  

“This is a major victory for the CAG because we finally got them to act on our request,” said McLaughlin after Thursday’s CAG meeting. 

But the impact on Making Waves may be minimal. In January, Nahas told the CAG that the program planned to leave the site at the end of the summer if construction of a new facility at 860 Harbor Way South was completed on time. 

 

 

Photograph by Tarnel Abbot 

Boys from the Making Waves tutoring program play in a forbidden area on the Campus Bay ramp where trucks with contaminated soil had been sprayed with water to keep down the dust.


Council Looks at Condo Issues, Alcohol Problems

By Judith Scherr
Tuesday July 18, 2006

Berkeley Councilmembers Kriss Worthington and Max Anderson are proposing amendments to the city’s condominium conversion ordinance that would prevent condo conversion for 20 years from the date a landlord has quit the rental business for that particular property and would prevent condo conversion for 10 years from the time the owner has enacted an owner move-in eviction. 

Under the proposal, when a vacant unit is to be converted, the owner cannot convert the apartment for five years when there has been a wrongful eviction from the apartment. 

“We’re trying to add tenant protection that is not in existing law,” said Rent Board Commissioner Jason Overman, who helped craft the ordinance.  

A separate proposal by Councilmember Dona Spring would put these protections before the voters in the form of a ballot measure. 

 

Public hearings 

Several public hearings are on the council agenda including one that would allow developers to pay fees instead of providing 20 percent inclusionary housing and one on transportation services fees, which are levied for new vehicle trips generated by new construction or by a change of use at an existing property. 

Among the 22 items the council will consider on its consent calendar tonight (Tuesday) is an informational report on drug and alcohol abuse, with recommendations by the city’s Health and Human Services Department to create a plan to address the problem.  

Last week the council looked at a plan written by a nonprofit group, the Alcohol Policy Advisory Coalition(APAC), that targets criminal behavior associated with alcohol abuse.  

The city report on this week’s agenda includes several recommendations similar to the APAC report, with respect to the education of bartenders and regulating nuisance alcohol outlets, but this report adds treatment to the mix, particularly specialized treatment for youth, older adults, pregnant and parenting women and dual-diagnosed persons.  

Barbara Coleman, alcohol and other drugs coordinator for the city, said that even though Berkeley has a reputation for tolerating drugs and alcohol dating back to the 1960s, changes must be made. 

Underscoring that the report was written with input from service providers as well as city staff from various departments, Coleman said she hopes for council input to finalize her recommendations. 

 

Also on the consent calendar 

• The second reading of the Landmarks Preservation Ordinance. 

• A $49,970 contract with Lynn Suter & Associates as a lobbyist for the city in Sacramento. 

• An off-street parking ordinance, already conceptually approved by the City Council. Today, the council will be asked to approve the ordinance that allows one new parking space in side yards. An administrative use permit would be required for new uncovered parking spaces in front and rear yards. 

• Leases for city-owed shops beneath the Telegraph-Channing garage for a dollar store and a shoe-repair shop. 

• Reducing the speed limit on part of Frontage Road from 40 mph to 35 mph and on Claremont Avenue between Ashby Avenue and the Oakland border from 30 mph to 25 mph. 

Preceding the council meeting, a 6 p.m. workshop will be held to advise the council of a new law concerning councilmember expenses.


Developer Fee Would Replace Inclusionary Unit Requirement

By Judith Scherr
Tuesday July 18, 2006

In an effort to keep people with a variety of income levels in Berkeley, the city instituted its “inclusionary” housing ordinance in 1986, which mandates that developers reserve one-fifth of new housing units for people earning 80 percent of area median income. 

(For a family of three the income range for an inclusionary unit, according to city staff, is $42,794-$60,230.) 

The city’s housing director is proposing a variation of the inclusionary option for condominium developers, allowing them to pay a fee, called an “in-lieu fee,” rather than providing an actual unit. This alternative would be voluntary. 

An inclusionary condominium is supposed to be priced at three times the income of the eligible family. So, for a family of three, the top allowable sales price would be $181,000. (The unit size is estimated at 850-999 square feet and the sales price is based on that.) 

The City Council will hold a public hearing on this issue today (Tuesday). 

The housing staff is proposing the following formula to determine in-lieu fees for inclusionary housing: the “affordability” rate (e.g., $181,000) is subtracted from the market condominium sales price (e.g., $500,000). The developer pays the city fees of 62.5 percent of the difference ($199,375), which would go into the city’s Housing Trust Fund.  

At last week’s council meeting, Councilmember Max Anderson pointed out that inclusionary housing units increase the mix of people of different economic levels in an area and the elimination of inclusionary units would exacerbate the geographic concentration of low-income people. 

“We can overcome these issues,” Housing Director Steve Barton responded. “Nonprofit developers need to look throughout the city for sites.” 

The up side, Barton said, is that the fees the city collects can be leveraged with other low-income housing money. 

“Staff estimates that the fees will bring in sufficient funds to create from two to four permanently affordable units for every inclusionary unit given up,” he said in a July 18 staff report. 

To date, the city has created 150 inclusionary rental units, of which 61 are priced for very low income (50 percent of area median income) residents and 40 inclusionary condominium units. In new projects, half of the inclusionary units must be rented to persons with “very low income.” 

Rental units are monitored to ascertain that the renters have not changed their income status, Barton said. Incomes of owners of inclusionary condominium units can increase—since the unit belongs to them—but if they sell the unit, it must be priced at the “affordable” rate to a qualifying individual. 

With more money in the Housing Trust Fund from in-lieu fees, Councilmember Dona Spring said she hopes the city will help build Limited Equity Co-ops, where all units belong to individuals who can sell them at the rate they bought them, plus interest, but cannot sell them at market rate. 

Mayor Tom Bates said he hoped the city would use the increased housing funds to purchase existing housing units.


Overman Tapped to Challenge Wozniak for District 8 Seat

By Rio Bauce, Special to the Planet
Tuesday July 18, 2006

Following a Sunday afternoon town hall meeting at Redwood Gardens that attracted 61 Berkeley residents in search of a “progressive” candidate to take on District 8 incumbent Gordon Wozniak in November, a vote of attendees supported Jason Overman, a city rent board commissioner and UC Berkeley student. 

“We need a more open process,” said Overman, following the vote. “I am so glad that all of you have participated here today.” 

The meeting was co-sponsored by Eleanor Walden, Jesse Arreguin, Chris Kavanagh, Anne Wagley, and Overman. The moderators of the discussion were Nicholas Smith and Walden. Attendees were invited to introduce themselves and say one thing that they dislike about Wozniak or one thing they’d like to see their councilmember do. 

Overman said, “One of the most outrageous things that Gordon did was saying in response to the question of why he didn’t appoint students to commission posts is that ‘students aren’t qualified.’ I think it’s important that students not be left out of the process. We need to bring positive communication to the groups.” 

“Gordon did one progressive thing,” said Wagley, who is the calendar and arts editor of the Planet. “He appointed me to the Housing Advisory Commission. And then he fired me after I sued him.” (Wagley filed suit against Wozniak and Mayor Tom Bates over the council’s settlement with UC over the university’s Long Range Development Plan.) 

Many people brought up issues that they wanted their candidate to fight for in District 8. Examples included the implementation of instant runoff voting, affordable housing, diversity on city commissions, services for the disabled, traffic issues, and the injustice of the “backroom UC Berkeley settlement agreement with the city.” 

“I recently moved into District 8,” Arreguin said. “Gordon is not representative of our issues. The worst thing he has done was on the UC Berkeley secret agreement.” 

Attendees nominated four people to challenge Wozniak: Arreguin, Kavanagh, Overman, and Wagley. Overman quickly emerged as the only candidate who wanted to run against the incumbent. 

Out of 39 people voting, 22 of the votes went to Overman, nine went to Wagley, and eight went to Arreguin. Kavanagh, prior to the vote, had asked for his name to be removed from the ballot. 

Wagley said, “I am really pleased to see that Jason’s statement was articulate ... and that we have a great start for a progressive coalition in District 8.” 

“It was a pretty good turnout for a beautiful Sunday afternoon,” School Board Director John Selawsky said. “There were some good discussions and the issues were laid out. I think that there should’ve been more discussion of what a successful campaign might be like ... and who a serious candidate might be. The important thing is that there was a consensus and a candidate who wanted to run. I’m glad somebody is running ... and I do believe that Gordon is vulnerable.” 

“Sunday was a historic day—where students, homeowners, environmentalists, and all different groups came together,” Overman said in an interview following the event. “That is something that hasn’t happened for a long time in this city. I know that if we had had that four years ago, we wouldn’t have given Wozniak the opportunity to be the worst member of the City Council. We have a lot of momentum and overwhelming community-based support.”


Residents Appeal Mixed-Use Development on San Pablo

By Suzanne La Barre
Tuesday July 18, 2006

A dozen residents have appealed plans for a five-story, mixed-use building on San Pablo Avenue, a project once described by a neighbor as “bursting at the seams.” 

The project, a 29,665-square-foot residential and commercial structure at 1201 San Pablo Ave., at Harrison Street, won the approval of the Zoning Adjustments Board (ZAB) in April, despite pleas from residents, who complain the building is out-of-scale with the rest of the neighborhood.  

“It’s just too big for the lot they want to put it on and too big to be immediately adjacent to this residential neighborhood of small homes,” said Erika Lamm, a neighbor. 

The proposed location, a vacant lot formerly used to sell Christmas trees, borders an autoshop, apartments, and one- and two-story residential properties. The site is zoned for commercial use. 

Some say the project will open the floodgates for developers to build additional multistory structures along San Pablo. The closest mixed-use development, currently under construction at 1406 San Pablo, is three stories tall. 

“It’s the first project of this size on San Pablo,” said Prakash Pinto, a neighbor and architect by profession. “This is going to be setting a precedent for future buildings.” 

Pinto said he does not oppose development at the site but would prefer that the developer erect a four-story building.  

Developer Jim Hart, who has constructed several work/live spaces in Berkeley, says a smaller structure isn’t financially feasible. 

“It had been suggested to me by others in the development community that you always go into a city with a bigger project than you intend to build, so neighbors feel like they won something,” he said Monday. “But we went in in a more straightforward way. We weren’t going to make a mega building in the first place. If we’re going to have smart growth and create friendly retail space, it seems to me this is in keeping with that sort of projection.”  

Neighbors filed the appeal May 1 on technical grounds related to state density bonus law, inclusionary units, setbacks and traffic reporting. 

Planning staff maintain the feasibility of the project and have recommended that the City Council uphold ZAB’s decision. 

The Berkeley City Council is scheduled to hear the appeal tonight (Tuesday). The council meets at 7 p.m., at 2134 Martin Luther King Jr. Way.


New Planning Process for South and West Berkeley

By Richard Brenneman
Tuesday July 18, 2006

As the city prepares to fund one planning process in South Berkeley, the county and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) are launching another on Thursday night. 

Meanwhile, participants in a third planning process—the Downtown Area Plan Advisory Committee—will be meeting Wednesday night. 

While the dust is still rising from the battle over the future of the Ashby BART station, the MTC and the Alameda County Congestion Management Agency (ACCMA) are launching a plan of their own. 

As one of 25 community-based transportation plans proposed by the MTC for the Bay Area, the effort to be launched Thursday will focus on the lower-income areas of South and West Berkeley, said MTC spokesperson John Goodwin. 

The Berkeley plan will encompass a large L-shaped area of the city, from the Albany border along the shoreline south to the Oakland border, with the east border running along San Pablo Avenue south to Dwight Way, then east to Fulton Street and then south to Oakland. 

ACCMA Senior Transportation Planner Diane Stark said the plan could include transit-oriented development (TOD) at the Ashby BART site—“which is already a TOD site because of the Ed Roberts Center.” 

That center—which will provide offices and other facilities for organizations serving the disabled community—is planned for the station’s eastern parking lot. 

A city request for state funds to plan a housing and commercial development on the main, or western, lot was denied, but the City Council has reserved $40,000 for developing a plan in the immediate area. 

The fight over plans for the site—at one time listed as the proposed home of more than 300 condo units and a shopping complex—provoked a battle with worried local residents and Berkeley Flea Market merchants. 

Neighbors feared increased congestion whereas the vendors feared the loss of the parking lot where they have sold their wares for decades. 

The new so-called South/West Berkeley Plan will be developed under the direction of a Berkeley firm, Design, Community, and Environment (DCE), working with Nelson\Nygaard, a San Francisco-based transportation planning firm. 

DCE was the firm hired by UC Berkeley to prepare the 2020 Long Range Development Plan, and the firm crafted the West Campus Plan for the Berkeley Unified School District—a document subsequently discarded by the school board. It is headed by David Early, founder of Livable Berkeley, a group that supports infill development in the city. 

The $60,000 cost of the project is being funded by the MTC, which has allocated $1.2 million to prepare a total of 25 such plans in the Bay Area, Goodwin said. 

Plans typically take between nine months and a year to complete, he said. 

“The plans identify needs, what they cost and possible funding sources,” said Stark. 

While transit-oriented development could be one focus of the planning process, she said, a wide range of issues will be examined, ranging from pedestrian travel and stoplights to bicycling and BART. 

“Typical goals could take from three to 20 years to complete,” she said, noting that a recently completed plan for West Oakland called for undergrounding BART in that community. 

Early will be present for Thursday night’s inaugural session, said Ted Heyd, a DCE planner who will also be working on the plan. Stark said Principal Transportation Planner Matt Nichols will represent the city. 

The meeting is being conducted as part of the regular meeting of the city’s Transportation Commission. Among the topics to be discussed are BART access, AC Transit bus schedules and pedestrian safety. 

“This is really an opportunity for people who live in the community to address the transportation concerns,” Goodwin said. 

The meeting is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. in the South Berkeley Senior Center, 2939 Ellis St. 

 

DAPAC meet  

Members of the panel working on the new downtown plan—a process created in the wake of a lawsuit filed by the city over DCE’s plan for the university—will meet Wednesday night to share their own visions for the future of the city center. 

DAPAC members will also look at the existing downtown plan, which was created in 1990. The new plan will encompass a larger area than the earlier plan. 

Their meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the North Berkeley Senior Center, 1901 Hearst Ave., at Martin Luther King Jr. Way.


Opinion

Editorials

Editorial: Ignoring The Geneva Conventions

By Becky O’Malley
Friday July 21, 2006

It seems simplistic, but let’s just go over it one more time. Until the time of the First World War, it was an accepted shared belief, at least among the “civilized” (European-influenced) countries that deliberately killing non-combatants (“civilians”) was an immoral way to conduct a war, even a “just” war. This is a topic that necessarily requires quotation marks, since even supposedly shared beliefs are questioned by some.  

The Geneva Conventions began in the middle of the 19th century, just about the time the industrial revolution’s modern technology was providing the means for weapons which could kill many people at once. 

World War I saw the widespread entry into the calculus of weapons of mass destruction, including airplanes, heavy explosives, powerful guns and poison gas. These made killing of a certain number of non-combatants hard to avoid, so a rationale was developed among certain “civilized people” to justify these deaths. During the Spanish Civil War, planes bombed civilians on a wide scale for the first time. Bombing of populated areas without regard for the safety of non-combatants became accepted practice for both sides in World War II. In 1949, the Fourth Geneva Convention attempted to set some boundaries for the practice. 

The Society of Professional Journalists provides a handy guide for understanding the complexities of the Geneva Conventions. Its summary of the International Rules about Civilians derived from both the fourth Geneva Convention and the two Additional Protocols includes these points: 

• “Civilians are not to be subject to attack. This includes direct attacks on civilians and indiscriminate attacks against areas in which civilians are present.” 

• “There is to be no destruction of property unless justified by military necessity.” 

It’s clear that the now-common technique of suicide bombers setting off heavy explosives in the midst of civilian crowds violates both the rules laid down by the Geneva Conventions and accepted moral beliefs of earlier centuries. This has not deterred many small groups of extremists, such as the IRA, the Zionist Stern gang, or contemporary Muslim-oriented terrorist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah. Some supporters of the causes espoused by such bombers claim that terrorism of this type is the last resort of the powerless who have no armies at their disposal, but to most “civilized” people the immorality of deliberately killing non-combatants is obvious.  

In this context, it comes as no surprise that few voices in the international community have been raised to defend the current campaign of the state of Israel in Lebanon. Some say that it’s even worse than terrorism, which is generally the act of a deranged individual or a member of a small undemocratic faction. It’s true that eight Israeli soldiers were killed and two more taken prisoner by a terrorist group which has been tolerated in southern Lebanon by a weak central government, but is that justification for “indiscriminate attacks on areas where civilians are present” resulting in hundreds of civilian deaths? Or for widespread destruction of Lebanon’s infrastructure with no clear military objective? Most of the world is saying no. 

Israel is a democratically governed modern national state, as is the United States. In theory, that might seem to make the citizens of Israel responsible for the actions of its government, though as citizens of the United States we know that nothing’s that simple, as we contemplate the Iraq mess. Many citizens of both countries now condemn recent acts of their leaders but are powerless to stop them. But world opinion would quickly condemn any country possessed of weapons of mass destruction which targeted apartment buildings and bridges and highways and water tanks in the U.S. or Israel because it disapproved of the actions of either government.  

The rules of war as laid down in the successive Geneva Conventions are really an attempt to preserve the use of force as an instrument of national policy where absolutely necessary. When countries like the United States and Israel openly defy such rules they become outlaws, losing allies who might otherwise have supported their goals in an orderly military action. A well-targeted ground campaign aimed at seeking out the actual terrorist combatants operating out of Lebanon might have garnered a measure of support, but deliberate Israeli government attacks on areas in Lebanon where civilians are known to be present are destroying any claims the state of Israel might have to the legitimacy of its pursuit of the Hezbollah terrorists. The fact that Hezbollah is continuing its terrorist activities by firing rockets at Israeli citizens doesn’t change anything. Both parties to this conflict are in the wrong—neither can claim the moral high ground.  


Warm Water Pool Funding Back Before Councilmembers

By Judith Scherr
Tuesday July 18, 2006

Warm-pool users met over the weekend to organize themselves to converge on today’s (Tuesday) City Council meeting to support Dona Spring’s proposal to put a measure on the November ballot to fund the pool used mostly by disabled and elderly people.  

“We’re going to keep up the pressure,” said Daniel Rudman, a regular pool user who attended the meeting. “There’s a lot of good energy.” 

While the council passed, in concept, the placement of a bond measure on the November ballot to complete financing a new warm pool, that decision appears problematic, according to City Manager Phil Kamlarz, interviewed by phone on Monday. 

The city cannot ask voters to complete funding for the pool because there have been changes in the project, Kamlarz said, explaining: “We need a whole new bond issue.”  

In 2000, voters approved funding to rehab the warm pool, located in the Berkeley High School gym. But the school district has since made tentative plans to demolish the pool and the building that houses it and rebuild on the site. There are also tentative plans to allow the city to construct a new warm pool and lockers on a site across Milvia Street from the current warm pool. 

The plans will not be approved by the school board until the environmental impact report, now in progress, is complete, according to School Board Member John Selawsky. 

That makes it difficult to ask voters to approve a bond for the project, Kamlarz said, noting, moreover, that the cost of the new project is in question. It’s estimated at $8 million but “that’s a rough estimate,” Kamlarz said. 

“We need a real estimate of costs. We need to do it right,” he added. There is not enough information to put the measure on the November ballot, he said. 

At last week’s council meeting, Kamlarz suggested that the council explore putting a bond measure on a special election ballot, which could be conducted by mail at a later date. But on Monday he said he subsequently learned that it may not be legal to hold a special election for a bond measure. He said he would know more about this by tonight’s council meeting.  

Another possibility is using certificates of participation (COPs) to fund the pool—that is borrowing the funds which the city would pay back. The problem is that the city would have to own the property to issue COPs and that presents even more complexities, said School Board Member John Selawsky. The school board has not discussed the sale or a gift of the tentative pool site to the city, Selawsky said.


Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

Friday July 21, 2006

RADKIDS 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

I read Suzanne La Barre’s article “Parents Press BUSD and City to Curb Teen Violence” and realized that many residents don’t know about the Berkeley Police Activities League’s violence prevention program, radKids, a national program that uses a hands-on approach to teach children, up to age 12, how to deal with bullying, physical abduction, sexual and physical abuse, home fires, Internet predators and much more. If you would like more information about radKids you can go their website at radKids.org. If you would like to sign up for the Berkeley Police Activities League’s free class, contact Fele Uperesa at 845-7193. 

Alan Pagle 

 

• 

PLAIN ENGLISH 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Will somebody explain to me in plain English: 

• How come the City of Berkeley has to fence us in with vast tonnages of steel and concrete, obliterating the sky everywhere we look? 

• How come we haven’t had a vote on any of it? You know, having a copy of the proposition to take to the polls? 

• Where does it say the mayor got the right to do a city makeover? Was it through a secret form of eminent domain—or just plain and simple George Bush anarchy? 

• What’s the sense in building more tenant units when the signs say “Vacancy”? 

• How does a densely populated city evacuate after a catastrophe? 

• How do we stop desecrators? 

Will somebody tell me in plain English: 

• What do we do now? 

Dorothy V. Benson 

 

• 

TELEGRAPH WOES 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Gap leaves, American Apparel arrives. Cody’s leaves, Peet’s arrives. 

That’s a matter of capital. 

First UC came for the Communists. 

Then UC and the merchants came for the beatniks. 

The UC, the merchants and the neighbors came for the hippies. 

Now they come for the punks and anarchists as their property values soar sky high. 

That’s a matter of class. 

Charles Gary 

Oakland 

 

• 

HOTEL BERKELEY 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

The letter suggesting the hotel be named for men like Maybeck or Muir means well, but hotels are named for deserving citizens. To call it the Berkeley Charles makes sense only to the developer and his Charles Hotel in Boston. The best name—simple, yet dignified—is the Hotel Berkeley. 

Peter Selz 

 

• 

LIBRARY NEWS 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Though I do appreciate having a local paper covering Berkeley news, I feel that Judith Scherr’s stories about the Berkeley Public Library read more like op-ed pieces than unbiased news reports—even when printed right on your front page. 

Ms. Scherr seems to work from the assumption that it is a given that the library administration is inept and has enacted counterproductive policies and changes. This certainly has not been my experience. I find the library to be one of Berkeley’s greatest assets—the collection carefully maintained, the staff helpful, the special programs creative, and the integration of technology into the library very effective. The RFID book inserts have been a wonderful addition, allowing much quicker automated checkout. 

I hope the library administration is given the chance to continue with similar improvements! I’m looking forward to spending my retirement in one of those comfortable chairs on the Berkeley Main Library’s second floor. 

Loren Linnard 

 

• 

SOFAS, SOFAS,  

EVERYWHERE SOFAS! 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Have you found yourself of late casting a critical eye around your apartment? “This living room could sure stand sprucing up,” you mutter glumly, staring at a 20-year-old sofa that has definitely seen better days. Well, friends, heed my words, there’s no better time than now for replacing that offending sofa. 

As happens every summer when students take leave of the university, the streets of Berkeley are suddenly awash with sofas! Said students obviously have never heard of Goodwill, the Salvation Army and St. Vincent DePaul Thrifts Shops. Or maybe it’s jut that it’s a lot easier to haul old sofas, beat up armchairs and computers out onto the sidewalk. South Campus is undeniably the prime neighborhood for abandoned furniture. Walk along Dana, Fulton or Dwight Way and you may just spot a sofa to your liking, though admittedly many of these rejects suggest they’ve been through a hurricane of Katrina proportions—broken springs, cigarette burns, ketchup stains, etc., etc.  

Glancing out my window at the corner of Dana and Parker streets on any given morning, I’m sure to see a whole new display of rejects gracing the sidewalk, most of which can best be describe as “yucky.” But just the other day, walking along Haste Street, I spotted a sofa that was an absolute gem—infinitely more attractive than my own. This was a large, four-cushion sofa with immaculate, tasteful upholstery and generously sized pillows. Since traffic wasn’t too heavy along Haste that morning, I sat down on the sofa, sinking comfortably into the cushions. “Hey, not bad!” I said to myself, visualizing how it would look in my living room. 

But then, reality set in. Could I actually settle for an abandoned sofa left on the sidewalk? Where was my pride, my self-respect? More important, how would I get the darned thing home? I wouldn’t dare call friends, who would be absolutely aghast, pointing out the germs sure to be lurking in those deep, comfy cushions. Furthermore, how did I know the sofa would still be there if I rushed home to look up movers? Dare I ask a passerby to sit on the sofa while I went in search of a telephone? That seems highly unlikely. 

In any event, the practical logistics involved in getting the sofa back to my apartment suddenly seemed insurmountable. Sighing heavily and with a last longing glance at this abandoned treasure, I headed for home. Later that afternoon, out of curiosity, I walked back to Haste Street. Of course, the sofa—my sofa—was gone. Alas, it wasn’t to be. A golden opportunity missed. Oh, but I take comfort in the knowledge that just as sure as day follows night, there’ll be many, many sofas lining the streets of Berkeley all summer! 

Dorothy Snodgrass 

 

• 

OFFICE DEPOT 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

It’s certainly appropriate to think that the City of Berkeley should locally source its business suppliers wherever legally possible and financially feasible. But it’s also appropriate not to unfairly demonize suppliers who follow the city’s rules to win a competitive bid. Office Depot is certainly a large business entity headquartered in Florida; but incorrectly calling it a “conglomerate” conveys an acquisitive appetite that only our town’s admittedly large population of conspiracy theorists could confidently find. Even in Berkeley, simply being a national corporation is not yet proof of globally evil intentions. 

Alan Tobey 

 

• 

BUSH IMPEACHMENT 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Elliot Cohen excoriates me and indulges in nasty name-calling ( “deplorable and reactionary”) while agreeing with the point of my recent commentary that putting the Bush impeachment on the Berkeley ballot is “a cynical ploy to win votes” and definitely not geared to focus attention on important local issues. 

I happen to really like referenda as an expression of pure democracy. And, while I am a fiscal conservative, I do not per se object to the $10K per item cost of simple Council-promulgated referenda. Ten thousand dollars is chump change in our $300 million annual city budget and spending even $100,000 on 10 well-chosen referenda to educate and gauge public opinion on key local issues could be money well and wisely spent. So I did not object to the impeach Bush referendum because it cost the taxpayers $10,000 despite what Elliot claimed!  

I would not necessarily object to the Bush measure if local voters also had a chance to directly vote on an array of key local issues, such as the UC settlement, the Oxford/Brower project, garbage and sewer fee increases, more Downtown parking, and many of the other important local issues of the day, some of which I listed in my commentary. What is chosen to be put before the voters (and what is not chosen!) is of utmost importance. Those who set the agenda (even for referenda) substantially direct (manipulate?) the debate, and, while the Bush presidency is certainly important, I believe that the Berkeley polity needs to direct its limited energy and attention to major Berkeley issues. 

Barbara Gilbert 

 

• 

MEL’S DINER 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

I thank David Mayeri and Laura Billings for their correction regarding the original use of the interesting building at 2747 San Pablo Ave. For the record, my error had its origin in the City of Berkeley’s West Berkeley Plan, which states, “The unusual round building occupied by Berkeley Equipment Rental (2747 San Pablo Ave., near Grayson) was built in 1952 as a Mel’s Drive In.” 

A follow-up correspondence I initiated with Michael Myerson, who organized the ad hoc committee’s demonstrations at several Mel’s Drive-In locations in 1963, revealed that the Berkeley demonstration took place at Mel’s on the corner of Shattuck Avenue and Channing Way. The Shattuck Avenue Mel’s was converted into a stereo store in the 1970s. The much-altered building is still there, adjacent to La Note, and houses the Futon Shop. As for 2747 San Pablo Ave., I can add that the car dealership based there was called Bay Bridge Motors. It was apparently operated by C. Roy Warren. 

I applaud Mr. Mayeri for planning a LEED-certified building. His efforts would be even more laudable were he to seek a way to incorporate the round façade of the existing building into his new development. Even though the building was never a Mel’s Drive-In, it is a very good example of mid-century roadside architecture, of which precious little remains in Berkeley. It would be a great shame to lose it.  

Daniella Thompson 

 

• 

MIDDLE EAST VIOLENCE 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Thousands of Americans fleeing Israeli bombs. It’s incredible to hear the doubletalk coming from American politicians speaking out against terrorism! With thousands of Americans fleeing for their lives to escape the terror of Israeli bombs dropping overhead, it’s time for U.S. politicians to wake up and pull the plug on any further economic or military support to the Israeli War Machine! 

Down with all politicians supporting Israel, and the brutal bombing attacks that have been placing American lives at risk! In addition to this current madness going on, the White House had the nerve to promote a policy to charge Americans for assistance to escape the Israeli bombing campaign! 

Are they insane! 

What a world!!! 

Lynda Carson 

Oakland 

• 

MENTAL HEALTH 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

I attended the July 12 PRC meeting where the Mental Health Commission initiative on “5150” (psychiatric intervention) was presented. “Danger” was not at issue here, it was unnecessary use of force. Unlike San Francisco or Oakland, Berkeley routinely sends police to psychiatric hold situations—danger or not. The reason—a standing policy of contempt for the community; this reflects what is a general dialogue “disconnect” and the MHC is to be commended for challenging the Mental Health administration. One staff member at B.M.H. initiated the outreach to the PRC. Altogether five members of Mental Health staff—on their own time—were there in support of the initiative, while the Director Harvey Tureck pretended shamelessly to be supportive himself. Two members of the MHC, plus myself (a former chair) spoke and provided context. This initiative was a no-brainer, as it saves police resources; the PRC expressed only procedural worries. The PRC agreed 7-0 to co-sponsor with the MHC a public hearing Sept. 7 on Berkeley’s “5150” policy. The tightly walled off “mental health control space” is showing cracks. 

Andrew Phelps 

 

• 

INSTANT RUNOFF VOTING 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

In the aftermath of the Berkeley City Council’s disappointing—even shocking—July 11 vote to kill a Clean Money election campaign reform ballot measure, it is now critical that Berkeley citizens defend and implement a second city election reform issue: instant runoff voting (also called “ranked choice” voting). 

I commend and congratulate City Councilmembers Spring, Worthington, Anderson and Moore for their support of the Clean Money ballot measure issue, modeled on Arizona’s and Maine’s successful, vote-approved Clean Money election reform laws. 

In 2004, Berkeley voters passed an instant runoff voting (IRV) ballot measure by an overwhelming landslide—72 percent. 2004’s Measure I mandated IRV for future City Council and mayoral candidate elections. 

Recently, the Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board’s elected commissioners unanimously approved a letter sent to all councilmembers. The letter urges the council to move expeditiously to implement IRV in advance of the November election. 

If necessary, the Rent Board commissioners urge the City Council to conduct the Nov. 7 election by hand counting IRV ballots if the County of Alameda is unable to deliver an IRV ballot system for the city. 

The will and overwhelming mandate of Berkeley’s voters—as represented by 2004’s Measure I—must be respected and implemented by the City Council before Nov. 7. 

Chris Kavanagh 

 

• 

ANOTHER DIATRIBE 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

I was dismayed to see Susan Parker use my objection to the term “confined to a wheelchair” as an excuse for yet another diatribe on the unappetizing ordeal of caring for her husband Ralph. My point about a wheelchair being not the source of the problem but one of the tools used to deal with it evidently went right over her head.  

In a physical sense, Brian, Ruthanne and I have a lot less freedom than she does; I can’t imagine why she thinks we need a lecture on how tough disability can be on everyone involved. 

Just for the record, I don’t want to see her use euphemisms, but after years of writing about everything else, I wish she’d use a column to explain why she stays with Ralph, and how he copes with being the focal point of her bitterness. 

Ann Sieck 

 

• 

“CONFINED” 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Regarding Susan Parker’s latest column about her husband being “confined to a wheelchair”: In words that Mrs. Scott would use, “You go, Suzy, tell it like it is.” 

Laurie Marquez 

 

• 

PEOPLE’S PARK 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

I recently received a copy of a proposal for re-designing People’s Park which apparently passed unanimously through the University of California’s new park advisory committee. 

I appreciate that the chancellor’s appointees may be well-intended. But it doesn’t matter how benign one might consider the proposal or the participants; this group is hand-selected by the chancellor, and therefore not representative in the least.  

If the participants believe they would be selected in a community-wide ballot by Berkeley citizens to govern or advise the park, then that’s fine, as long as there is an honest effort made to have a community-wide ballot. Until that time they should, if they must stay on this committee, keep smiling as they continually remind themselves that as a chancellor-selected group that they are not entitled or qualified to make decisions about the park. 

The last chancellor-selected group took years to formulate a plan for the park with highly-paid consultants, years of public meetings, well-intended participants, and still ended up with a plan so inappropriate it cost the public millions of dollars for the University of California to construct and then ultimately remove its elements. The students, merchants, and residents suffered the brunt of this bad planning, and are arguably still in recovery. 

I see it as our job to object to this undemocratic, unrepresentative group, in the nicest way, of course.  

Carol Denney 

 

• 

ELMWOOD POST OFFICE 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

The Daily Planet article regarding the possibility of the lease running out for the Post Office branch at College Avenue and Webster Street alarms me greatly. I second the sentiments and logic of Mr. Schwendinger. I live across the street and fear the location of a commercial outlet in its place. The aspect of a 24/7 type outlet and its audience would be most disruptive to this residential street and this part of the neighborhood. Perhaps more important to the neighbors and citizens in this part of town would be the loss of the post office facility. One doesn’t have to stand long outside the facility to see the frequency of use and convenience of a local mail service Mail pick-up and package and postal services are well used. It would be less than a pleasant trek to downtown Berkeley for our everyday mail and postal needs. It would be a disruption to our lives. 

The comments of Councilmember Wozniak are totally erroneous. There is no graffiti on the building. The facility is well kept. He has obviously not visited the site. What is his agenda? 

I, for one, am willing to collect signatures, at the post office, to petition the city, the owners and USPS to push for a continued lease. I would like for a group to coalesce to give some citizen movement to this cause. 

Wattie Taylor 

 

 

• 

ALBANY WATERFRONT MALL 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

I write to you as a parent and as a former teacher of 12 years experience. I was dismayed at Monday night’s Albany City Council meeting to hear Albany teachers, parents and even a School Board member speaking of the “dire financial consequences” of rejecting the possible Waterfront Mall and the “huge fiscal benefit” to our schools if it is accepted. This is one of those rumors that has been repeated enough times to become Albany’s very own urban myth. It simply isn’t true and details about how taxes relate to school funding are openly available from city sources. 

However, I do not blame these parties for taking the position they do—parents, teachers and the School Board members care deeply about the future for this city’s young people but unfortunately have been misled. Teachers are experts in nurturing critical thinking skills so they themselves should be able to see beyond the spin. 

We live in the vast homogeneous urban sprawl of the Bay Area and choose Albany because it feels like a “real” town. We worry that our children grow up in a vast homogenized culture and want them to have experiences that are varied, healthy, educational and connect with the “real" world. I don’t think that another retail development offers this. I don’t think that I could feel much pride in telling my son or a class of young people that I helped a developer create a shopping plaza. I have faith that Educationalists have more vision than most and I urge them to use that vision to help make Albany’s waterfront into something that offers generations of our children something “real.” That would be something we can all take pride in. 

Martin Webb 

 

• 

CARUSO DROPS OUT 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

The announcement that the Albany Shoreline mall proposed by an L.A. developer is dead is welcome news—if it is true. This would not be the first time this developer has used such a ploy. He similarly “withdrew” proposals in Glendale and Thousand Oaks but “conceded” to come back when his demands were met. In Albany, the issue is not, as the San Francisco Chronicle states, getting his project “heard” by the City Council. The issue is the preferential treatment asked for by the developer through his resolution of an advance guarantee of a completed environmental impact report (EIR). Wisely the council voted to give equal treatment that would be given to any applicant. Why should the city guarantee this developer an EIR before a plan is submitted? Perhaps because it would help him bypass the City Council and take his proposal directly to the voters, allowing him to spend millions, as he did in Glendale, to influence the election. I hope Albany is not fooled by these undemocratic manipulations. 

Most Albany citizens do not want a mall on our Waterfront. They want open space and a continuation of the Eastshore State Park, with thoughtful commercial development determined by a community needs assessment and planning process for the waterfront should Golden Gate Fields close. They want a plan that is first and foremost good for our community and future generations that enhances our quality of life, not a mall that brings L.A. to the East Bay. 

Marge Atkinson 

Co-Chair, Citizens for the Albany Shoreline 

 

• 

DELIGHTED 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

I was astonished and delighted to hear that the powerful Southern California developer has withdrawn from Albany in search of greener pastures. I’m glad he finally realized that his proposed development was a poor fit and was threatening to tear our community apart. Now we can embark on a community planning process that allows everyone’s opinion to be heard. Only by incorporating the visions of many can we create a comprehensive, congenial plan for this hidden treasure by the bay.  

Anne Richardson 

Albany 

 

• 

CARUSO’S PLAN 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

The news that the L.A. mall developer will not submit an application to build a lifestyle center shopping mall on the Albany waterfront seems at first to be a surprising development. After more than a year of wooing Albany citizens with visions of an upscale shopping experience and streams of tax revenue filling the public coffers, the mall developer appeared frustrated by the City Council decision to process his application in the same manner it deals with all developer proposals. A resolution written by Caruso lawyers, which would have given his proposal special treatment, failed to pass. All of the council members asked Mr. Caruso to submit his plan, but this apparently was not good enough. Is this the end of the “lifestyle center”? Twice, in Southern California, city councils failed to give Caruso concessions he wanted and there was a similar “I’m out of here” reaction. His “heartbroken” supporters responded with outrage and councils capitulated to his demands. I think (hope) that Albany citizens are more sophisticated about this kind of manipulation than the shopping lifestyle lovers of Southern Cal, but only time will tell. If this is the end of the mall, I say so long Mr. Caruso, and thanks for all the coffee. While your proposal for Albany generated a lot of neighbor vs. neighbor animosity, it has also helped to trigger a discussion in this town about what it is that Albany wants and needs along its shoreline. It is my hope that we might finally begin a city, not developer generated, planning process for our waterfront. 

Peter Maass 

Albany 

 

• 

MOVING FORWARD 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

I am pleased to see that developer Rick Caruso has abandoned his plans to build a large mall on the Albany Shoreline. The mall would have brought traffic jams and urbanization to our beautiful shoreline, precluded efforts to preserve more open space, and ended the small town ambiance of Albany. Now we can move forward with a planning process that focuses on what’s best for our city, not a reactive process that focuses on the developer’s proposed plans. 

Steve Granholm  

Albany 

 

• 

CLEAN MONEY 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Letter writer Keith Winnard (Letters, July 18) describes the Proposition 89 “Clean Money” initiative as “one of the most wasteful means of reducing the improper impact on politics there is” This is not the experience of states such as Maine and Arizona which have adopted Clean Money laws where “clean” candidates have put a stop to pork barrel politics through the simple fact that they owe allegiance to voters, not donors In California, public funding of elections could have prevented the prison guard union from reaping a reward of $500 million in public funds by donating $5 million at a time California’s education and health budgets were being drastically cut. The cost per voter—the price of a latte and a bun—would be the best investment in good government possible and assure that valuable tax money was spent on the public good, rather than private and special interest profit. 

Tom Miller 

Advisory Board Member 

TakebackCa.org 

 

• 

BUSH GAFFE 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Well, at least Bush didn’t throw up on Merkel as his father did on the Japanese prime minister. 

Nancy Ward 

 

• 

COUNTY SUPERVISORS 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

I was quite amused by Allen C. Michaan’s commentary claiming that the Alameda County Supervisors embraced election fraud by making a decision to enter into a contract for a new voting system. Perhaps we can all be thankful that “commentary” and “fact” are quite different beasts, since it would appear that Mr. Michaan has some sort of ax to grind, and since he appears quite ignorant in dealing with technology related issues.  

Here are the accusations that I find most entertaining: 

• That Alameda County’s Board of Supervisors displayed ignorance and failed to be responsive to the county’s voters. 

• That the “secret” software codes provided by Sequoia cannot be trusted to deliver honest vote counts. 

• That such systems are ultimately vulnerable to hacking. 

Mr. Michaan apparently fails to understand some very basic facts. Those facts include the following: (1) that finding 50 poor souls who are willing to hype the fear of technology does not provide any evidence that the County Board was not responding to its constituents; (2) that the “secret” software codes are quite advanced and typically provide significant protection against fraud; and (3) that such systems have not yet been demonstrated to have been hacked. I find it interesting that Mr. Michaan’s alarmist diatribe focused on the emotional fears of some voters, and called for us to move back to the stone age of vote counting. He also appears unaware that optical scan systems are used today in a number of Canadian provinces with a fairly high degree of success.  

If Alameda County were to return to the days of hand-counting, would results be more accurate? More honest? I think not. In so far as I am aware, human beings are fully capable of failing to properly count and are fully capable of being corrupted, and thus could themselves be prone to “failing to deliver honest results.” How long does Mr. Michaan propose that we all wait for election returns to be reported? How much money does he suggest we spend to staff and train all of these “highly qualified vote counters”? Interestingly, he fails to address such points.  

The Alameda Board of Supervisors appropriately voted to adopt a new system that meets California standards and that meets a number of strict federal standards and tests. To suggest that each Board member must have great expertise prior to voting for a contract in a specific technology area begs the following question.... “Must each Board member have a great depth of knowledge and expertise in tax systems or judicial systems or property record systems or law enforcement systems before deciding how to react to contract recommendations brought before them?” If so, I wonder how many in any given County might truly qualify to represent taxpayers.  

I’ll be interested to see what Allen Michaan suggests next. Perhaps we should do away with electronic banking, with ATM’s, with credit cards, because...heavens, there are risks! While we’re at it, perhaps we should do away with electronic media...especially if accuracy is paramount!  

Douglas P. Allen 

 

• 

BUSD’S DISEASE 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

I have read the follies of Berkeley Unified School District with interest over these last few months, since I wrote to you last about a bungling “fence job” this same public school district perpetrated some time ago. 

I find this district in serious trouble, when the sitting administration sees fit to hire and pay tremendous salaries to two assistant superintendants—a Mr. Neil Smith and a Ms. Lisa Udell at an astonishing $134,931 annual (see the Daily Planet’s April 4 and June 30 editions, respectively)—is anyone worth this amount of money in a 9-to-5, 10-month position who does not actually perform their duties in the classroom teaching children? I don’t think so—do you?  

I see in these same issues of the Daily Planet (April 4, April 7, June 30) articles that these paraprofessionals in this same BUSD are to be dismissed for reasons that lie in federal laws perpetrated by this same sitting president, G.W. Bush—and this same BUSD have deemed punitive actions towards these hard-working people. I see these hard-working teachers enter and exit the Hopkins Street Pre-School daily, and as tired as they appear, they always have a smile on their faces—and so do the children there—do they receive $134,931 salaries too? I do not think so.  

Again, I see another example of what is really wrong with BUSD—and like the S.S. Poseidon and many a ship I saw founder during Vietnam, a ship too top heavy sinks like a rock—this public school district is top heavy with administrators who do not know how to manage public money (see poor management of Maintenance Department discussions in Daily Planet, “fence-job” (listed above), etc., and punitive actions towards its paraprofessionals, etc.), who retain a vast majority of salaried personnel at the top, while they dismiss personnel at the classroom level. Is this any way to run a school district —to teach our children what they need to know—by mismanagement, by firing those who work with children while those who do not receive a raise, by a maintenance department who performs below standards. (I see maintenance crews at Hopkins Pre-School once a-month—how much can those little nippers damage, break or bust in their school—unless what is repaired is not repaired properly?) This BUSD needs to be placed under a microscope and examined for disease—I see an entire system broken here, and I am concerned about it. Are you? 

Karl Jensen 

 

• 

IN PRAISE OF BARBARA LEE 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

I want to commend Rep. Barbara Lee for her excellent leadership in Congress. Rep. Lee is a member of an elite group of Representatives who work for animal protection in our nation’s capitol. As a co-sponsor of the Farm Animal Stewardship Purchasing Act (FASPA) Rep. Lee is on the cutting edge of a push towards more humane farms. FASPA, if passed, would compel the Federal Government to purchase meat from farms that treat animals with respect and compassion. The Federal procurement process has a long history as a trendsetter. In fact the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act began as procurement measure in 1958 before being passed as a widespread measure impacting all slaughter houses in 1978. FASPA could have the same effect, setting a standard for more humane farms across the country. With organizations like the Humane Society of the United States and elected officials like Rep. Lee working together for animals I have faith we will soon see a higher standard for farm animal welfare.  

Christine Morrissey 

Director, East Bay Animal Advocates 

Oakland 

 

• 

UNEMBEDDED 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Bad news from Baghdad  

After watching The War Tapes at the local cinema, I decided to become an embedded reporter in Iraq. I wrote to the U.S. military’s CentCom (Central Command) in Baghdad, saying that I was a reporter for OpEd News, had realized how unpopular the “War on Iraq” was in America—two out of three Americans are now against it—and was offering to embed so that I could bring the American people positive stories about the war so that we taxpayers might be reassured that our tax dollars are being spent wisely over there. 

CentCom e-mailed me back. “We’d be happy to have you, Jane. All you need to embed is to fill out the enclosed application, get some Kevlar body armor and buy a plane ticket to Iraq.” I was in! I was going to Iraq! I was embedding! 

Or not. 

CentCom apparently checked OpEd News out and discovered it was a progressive news service. “You can’t come over here after all,” they wrote me. “We do not embed bloggers.” Oh. So if you are against the “war” then you are not considered to be an official news service? You are only a blogger? “You need to represent a newspaper, news service or legitimate media outlet.”  

No problem. 

First, the editor of OpEd News explained carefully to CentCom that yes, OpEd News was a genuine news service. Second, Becky O’Malley, the editor of the heroic Berkeley Daily Planet, wrote a letter saying that I would be representing the Berkeley Daily Planet, a genuine newspaper. So. What more did I need (besides air fare and Kevlar)? Baghdad here I come! 

Not so fast. CentCom e-mailed me back. “You are not going to be embedded.” End of discussion. 

OK. Here are the facts. I applied. I was judged a liberal. I was turned down. No positive stories from Iraq coming from me. No freedom of speech for me. No democracy in Iraq for me. And no “Operation Iraqi Freedom” for me either. “Operation Iraqi Freedom” is only for the American journalists who support the “war.” “Operation Iraqi Freedom” is only for “good” Americans. 

Helen Thomas need not apply. 

So much for freedom of speech for the two-thirds of America that does not suppor the "war." So much for finding out what is really going on over there. Is there nothing in Iraq left that is positive enough for me to report about? Over there, has everything become like the days just before they evacuated Saigon? Are the helicopters standing at ready on the rooftop of the American embassy? I want to know. America wants to know. America has the right to know. 

Help me out here. 

If you are a newsservice, please let CentCom Iraq—mnfi.mediaembed@iraq.centcom.mil—know that you want me to embed on your behalf as well as for OpEd News and the Berkeley Daily Planet. And please send me a plane ticket and some Kevlar! 

And if you are a blogger, guess what? What you say doesn't count. 

Jane Stillwater


Commentary: One Nation Indy-Visible

By Raymond A. Chamberlin
Friday July 21, 2006

Forget the fireworks, the chase is on again—turn on your TV to find out the latest casualties of your monthly police high-speed chase. Although never having been personally impacted by this very American institution, I have long considered it the grossest, most damning hallmark of this nation. 

A May 27 chase that killed two persons in Oakland was well reviewed in perspective by J. Douglas Allen-Taylor in the June 2 Daily Planet, setting out good questions concerning the Oakland Police Department’s descriptions of factors involved in it, such as its questionable tie-in to marihuana, DUI and a street sideshow, rather than to a more probable complaint of merely loud music. Allen-Taylor framed these deaths in a pattern that included an earlier such death-dealing in Oakland in February 2002. 

Then, in response, we get Daniel Jiménez’ disgusting stereotypically American letter to the Planet. Forget whether loud music, sideshows, marihuana or DUI had anything to do with these but-for-the-police deaths; the difference in life or death resulted from the presumed functioning of fully-intact, but joy-of-the-chase-absorbed police brains versus those of crazed or drug-diminished fugitives’ brains. Only the exceptionally liberal would discount the culpability of the fugitive and take the extreme of pitying the him for not having been raised right or not having been put into a drug program—but certainly even most middle-of-the-road, intelligent persons would comprehend that it was the police officers who had the call of life or death of innocents in their hands and brains in these chases, where no greater concern called for immediate capture of this local renegade. Jiménez’ social “predication,” that the higher value is universal coerced citizen compliance with police orders, is simply an outlook of a police state unconcerned as to the life or death of its bystanding innocent citizens. When dead, one doesn’t have much “redress in the courts,” a phrase Jiménez used, and I hardly think anyone would’ve sanctioned Mr. Jiménez’ speeding off from the fix-it ticket he mentioned having gotten, given an irregularity in the charging cop’s procedure. His argument is flagrantly silly. I really wonder, if this guy had a close, adored relative killed in one of these chases, whether he would so simply put the blame only on “the one who runs.” 

So now what do we have? A baby killed by a high-speed chase by Alameda County sheriffs’ deputies in Hayward. The Sacramento Bee reported three years ago that the California average is 250 innocent bystanders injured, 16 killed, every year. So the deputies justify the chase as “never having reached high speeds”, having “stayed mostly between 50 and 60 mph” on city streets—but admits that “four red lights” and “four stop signs” were run. . .certainly not just by the fugitive. The death occurred at one of these intersections. The sheriff’s people are now cleared, the fugitive having been charged with, not just vehicular manslaughter, but murder. Another all-American solution to its problems. 

The basic statute legalizing this primitive rite permitted to peace officers in California is Vehicle Code Section 17004.7, which extends to them complete immunity from prosecution or financial burden, for even very crazy or sloppy behavior, under the most absurd skeletal criteria imposed on their respective jurisdictions that one can imagine. Newspapers are afraid to even reference it. Read it online at www.leginfo.ca.gov/calaw.html. Many times, legislators have tried timidly to change the vapid wording of this code section to no avail, and none of them will risk the political damage of a full, functional rewording of it. The peace officer’s union, an impenetrable mafia in this state, outdoes the NRA in its hold on this open-season-on-innocents-supporting law. Unions’ traditional roles are the support of the incomes and working conditions of their members. This one supports a self-destructive behavior of its members—in the interest simply of the pursuit of the excitement of the chase. To invoke this law in a given case, the usual claim is that the fugitive tried to strike the police or their vehicle with his car. In the Oakland case of Mable (sic) Daniel, who was splattered against a gas pump in 2000, I found out from an attorney in a following civil case, that two witnesses thoroughly denied such vehicular challenge initiated that case, as claimed by the pursuers, but the witnesses were in this country illegally and would not dare to testify. 

Let’s hit this from another tack: Two days before the above-mentioned “murder,” in the dark of night, my old Acura was stolen from my driveway in the Berkeley hills. The grapevine says that old Acuras are used in illegal street races and sideshows. Did my car go to the sideshow-fearing Oakland? The Berkeley Police Department’s website lists 49 auto thefts within a one-mile radius of my home during the first half of this year. This site doesn’t tell how many of these vehicles were retrieved in what condition, but it does list exactly zero arrests resulting from these thefts. The Oakland Police Department’s website—for that city’s council District 4, an area about twice as large but with less population density than the truncated circular Berkeley area around my home—lists 498 auto thefts, says nothing about retrieval and isn’t about to publish figures showing essentially no resultant arrests. California, of course, leads the nation in auto thefts, with 252, 604 occurring in 2004, according to the federal Bureau of Justice—over two and a half times that of the next contender, Texas. 

Now, if Oakland is so worried about sideshow usage of such stolen cars, shouldn’t it get onto this problem and maybe convince Berkeley to do the same? Or will these police departments, besides never locating my car, stick a charge on me for not having installed a LoJack or CyntrX satellite locating system in my old compact 1989 car? Or will one of them, or some other jurisdiction, actually find my car. . .and chase it till it kills more innocent people? 

Yes, it would’ve been nice to have had a satellite-employing locating transceiver in my car. . .for my own use, not the cops’. But let’s see how that works with usual installations of such. Let us tool down to the Southland, where police high-speed chases on TV serve as bullfights for Anglos. The other night, on Inside Edition, an ex-owner of a fancy SUV with a slew of expensive extras on it, including two satellite locating devices, was shown sitting in pain, watching the cops chase his luxury vehicle—because both he and they were immediately warned by the equipment the moment the car was stolen. The dumb cops chose to chase the thing at once, rather than wait till it got located at a chop shop or whatever. Do peace officers down there get cuts from the TV entertainment people? Well, people getting killed turned out not to be in the script in this case; but the SUV nudged another vehicle badly and ran over a curb at high speed before being trapped by the police. So what was the end accomplishment of all this fancy locating gear? The car was totaled and the guy bought another one. The cops were no doubt fulfilled and –just this one time—life was not affected in La-La Land. My pocketbook is nowhere near so fat and happy as this SUV owner’s. 

But, back to curtailing auto theft: Could not police departments afford to purchase a number of popular old automobiles to use as decoys, installing hidden transmitting GPS units in them? They’d have to either switch such cars with each other quite often and/or repaint the vehicles to prevent their recognition—and perhaps they’d have to cover the cars’ transmitting signals with a steady signal from their station on the same frequency, in order to prevent a car’s signal from being noticed by a car thief with an appropriate receiver—the intermodulation of such two signals, however, remaining readable by the police as to the car’s location, while exhibiting enough complexity as to prevent a thief from being able to procure equipment that would let him be aware that a locating signal was being transmitted from their prey. If old Acuras connect to sideshows, Oakland for one city, should be hot to use them as decoys to bust up illegal procurement of such implements used dangerously in these shows. Let their cops who love to chase, and who may have trained in local street sideshows themselves, try out their speed on the track in Indianapolis. 

How come Americans can find so many high-tech ways to kill off people around the globe but can’t use a reasonable amount of not-exceedingly-complex equipment on the home front to keep people there alive and mobile? 

 

Raymond A. Chamberlin is Berkeley  

resident.  


Commentary: Keeping the Arts In the Public Eye Proves Challenging Every Year

By Robbin Henderson
Friday July 21, 2006

It has been a challenging year for the Berkeley Art Center. In fact, the past few years have increasingly tested our ingenuity and resilience. While we offered professionally mounted exhibitions, undertook lots of adjunct programming, presented opportunities to attend performances of music, spoken word, films and theater performances, our funding decreased. Rising costs accompanied this decline. We have been told that the oil “crisis,” brewing since the 1970s, is the reason postage, maintenance and printing costs increased. Insurance rates skyrocketed; both Sept. 11 and Hurricane Katrina are blamed for the rise. We watched our communications costs soar, as we increased our use of the Internet to mitigate rising postal rates. Our small staff is dedicated and offers the BAC many volunteer hours without a cost-of-living raise. 

Fifteen years ago, private foundations and the California Arts Council regularly supported our programs. Today, the California Arts Council, whose budget was slashed from $18 million to $1 million by Gov. Schwarzenegger, offers no grants to arts institutions. Private foundations have changed their funding priorities. These days they devote their declining resources to agencies that provide, as they say, “direct, measurable services to at-risk populations,” putting us in competition with youth programs, homeless shelters, food banks and battered women. Increasing our membership fees, and cutting down on the number of printed materials we produce, were attempts to mitigate the drop in income. In 1977 The Berkeley Art Center was a city agency with four full-time staff and an operating budget of over $90,000. In today’s dollars that equals nearly $300,000. Last year the BAC received $49,000 on its contract with the City of Berkeley. In early May the BAC Board of Directors struggled with these realities and came to the conclusion that if we couldn’t convince the Berkeley City Council to raise our contract by $20,000 we might have to close our doors. We thank the Berkeley Daily Planet for letting readers know of this state of affairs. 

Our precarious situation is not unique, and it may represent increased alienation from direct experience of art. As more people wear earphones, talk on cell phones in public, acquire bigger, high-definition screens for their TV’s or personal computers, the consumption of art becomes a solitary experience, instead of a participatory one. Every week we hear of another arts agency closing its doors or in danger of closing. California Poets in the Schools lost its administrators and offices, the Oakland Ballet is no more, Theater Bay Area is struggling, and other non-profit galleries in the Bay Area are teetering. I don’t believe that the problem is lack of money. The problem is warped priorities. At the national level we are prosecuting an enormously costly war—$250 million per day to kill, maim and starve civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan—at the expense quality of life funding for health, education and the arts in the United States.  

California, badly hurt by Enron’s corrupt manipulation of our energy supply, scapegoats immigrants and cuts expenditures to education, meanwhile spending $4.2 billion over the past 15 years to construct new prisons. Since 1980, 23 new prisons have been constructed in our state, but only one new university, making California number one in prison spending but 41st in the nation in spending for education. 

But Berkeley is different! Our city government has shown an uncommon commitment to the arts. Income projections for next year in the City of Berkeley are good, so we asked the city to step up to the plate and increase our funding. A favorable decision was made on June 27. We are truly fortunate to have a city government whose priorities include more than lip service in support of the arts. On behalf of the Berkeley Art Center Board of Directors, staff and patrons, we are grateful to the mayor, the City Council and all our supporters for helping us survive.  

 

Robbin Henderson is the executive director of the Berkeley Art Center.


Letters to the Editor

Tuesday July 18, 2006

 

ACHIEVEMENT GAP 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

When Berkeley public schools are discussed without acknowledgment of the basic policies that create both the achievement gap and the high violence rate it is necessary to correct the record. Of course African American students in Berkeley reflect Oakland under-achievement rates. They are, as anyone who observes after school traffic knows, substantially from Oakland. Berkeley is 13 percent African American. Berkeley schools climb to one-third African American substantially because of the unique BUSD policy of not enforcing legal residency. To some this unique policy is an extension of Berkeley’s quest for social change. To others it is yet another local government betrayal of the taxpayers and residential quality of life. Either way to word this unprecedented generosity as a curricular indictment is simply wrong. 

David Baggins 

 

• 

RUNNINGWOLF 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Zachary RunningWolf is the only mayoral candidate reminding us of an inconvenient truth: the human race is facing an imminent environmental and economic catastrophe. The “Stop Driving” campaign for which you hold him responsible (DeFreitas cartoon, July 11) might seem a juvenile and comic message to many job-holding, tax-paying, car- and house-owning citizens, but make no mistake, it’s a wake-up call. 

What is truly a juvenile (tragic) comedy is that we are the frogs in the quickly heating water, blithely driving to work, school and shops while hoping and pretending that nothing “bad” will happen for 50 more years. Meanwhile, daily the planet’s inhabitants suffer the consequences of our greedy, selfish, destructive behavior. Soon the waves of discontent will be lapping at your doorstep. If you have eyes to see and ears to hear, heed the warnings. Make peace with the Creator. For no one knows the day nor the hour. 

Zachary G Wilson 

• 

IMPEACHMENT 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Yes, Tom Bates originally opposed the Peace and Justice Commission resolution urging congress to impeach Bush. Sure, putting it on the ballot now is a cynical ploy to win votes, and yes, the City Council disregards communities to accommodate greedy developers. But the City Council’s miserable performance is no justification for Ms. Gilbert’s deplorable and reactionary opposition to the Bush-Cheney impeachment measure. 

Considering that generating national dialogue is the reason for placing impeachment on the ballot, our usually wasteful City Council has, for once, has gotten their money’s worth. The publicity generated to date, including a full-page essay in Time Magazine, already exceeds the amount of TV time and print space that could be purchased for the $10,000 it cost to place the measure on the ballot. 

Ideas have power. When Berkeley proposed divestment from South Africa we were ridiculed, but a few years later Berkeley’s idea became national policy. National discussion of impeachment, regardless of whether or not impeachment succeeds, will weaken Bush, hopefully to the point Bush lacks the political support to start another war, drill for oil in environmentally sensitive areas or further shred our Constitution. Allowing legitimate anger over City Council favoritism to degenerate into reactionary politics is stupid. Filing lawsuits, running opposition candidates, and using initiatives and referenda to control government is the responsible way to fight back. Let’s speak truth to power by voting constructively, using our First Amendment right to vote in favor of impeachment, and our power as voters to pass a citizen landmarks initiative. That’s the conscientious way to rebuke the council for adopting bad land-use law that will obliterate our landmarks. 

Hundreds of small town governments are in the pockets of developers. Sadly enough, that includes Berkeley’s municipal government. I, and many other who will vote for the impeachment are outspoken in our opposition to the council’s pro-development bias. But it is wrong to become so obsessively focused on these flaws that we lose sight of what makes Berkeley special and unique: We are a candle in the darkness and a ray of hope. Think of it: Berkeley will be the first city in the nation whose voters, I predict, will overwhelmingly vote to “Impeach Bush.” That could generate a national debate on impeachment. That’s worth every cent of the ten thousand dollars. That is the kind of thing that makes many of us so proud to be from Berkeley. 

Elliot Cohen 

 

• 

ELMWOOD POST OFFICE 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

I want to assure the Postal Service of Berkeley that there are probably hundreds (perhaps thousands) of households in the District Eight quadrant who want the Elmwood Post Office to remain at the corner of College and Webster, where it has been for many years. I suspect that reporter Richard Brenneman was under a time restraint when working on his article (“Post Office Might Close in Elmwood District,” July 14). I have no doubt he has thought of interviewing the vast majority of residents who have depended on and continue to depend on that wonderful Branch Post Office. I and my wife have lived on Prince Street since 1971, when the branch post office was on College and Russell. Over the years we have enjoyed immensely the convenience of being able to walk to our neighborhood post office. All Brenneman needs do is interview the folks who are in their 60s, 70s, and 80s, and live within walking distance. I would urge the editor of the Daily Planet make that his next assignment. Such a negative article about the branch is really a disservice to all of us who treasure the Elmwood Post Office. Its employees are always helpful and patient, everyday and on holidays.  

What is puzzling about the article is the complaint by one proprietor whose store is on a different street in the district. Also puzzling is the statement that postal employees who work at the Main Post Office opposite the downtown YMCA leave their cars in Elmwood. Those employees hike it up to Elmwood after work to get their cars? Can anyone follow this logic? College Avenue has timed meters all around the district. In addition, for anyone who has eyes, there is a parking lot for post office customers. I also find the complaint about postal service vehicles disingenuous. Nothing is said about the numerous delivery trucks that clog College Avenue as they deliver their wares to all those businesses, including that of the shop owners who are critical in this article. Perhaps Councilmember Wozniak should inform his constituents about the “need for repairs and renovation.” In any case, that is a red herring if repairs would be made once the “lease is renewed.” It is only further garbage to reinforce the negative tone of this story.  

Obviously, the shop owners talk about their own priorities. Yet, it is clear to us who depend on the United States Postal Service that those postal trucks have a much higher priority and serve a greater good. Perhaps the respect I raised my children to have for postal workers, whose jobs have always been demanding, is not a universal one. However, my hunch is that most Berkeleyans harbor that respect. 

Neighbors, we need to send a clear message that the Elmwood Post Office is appreciated and urge the postmaster of Berkeley to remain on College and Webster! 

R.J. Schwendinger 

P.S.: With the pressure by developers and chain stores to build or alter the nature of the Elmwood, the following scenario is a strong possibility: the post office lease renewal is turned down by the landlord, who razes the current building and builds a three-or-more story condominium apartment building or commercial building. That in turn will increase the number of automobiles owned by new occupants, who will use the adjacent streets as permanent parkers, not as fluent and fleeting as postal vehicles currently. The shopkeeper who is critical of the post office operation knows the ropes of applying for height variances, and he could be of aid to a developer seeking same. Would the neighbors residing near the Elmwood Post Office welcome such a development? 

 

• 

AGENDA COMMITTEE 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Mayor Tom Bates’ creation, the Agenda Committee (meets Mondays at 2:30 p.m., Sixth Floor Conference Room, 2180 Milvia) was presumably set up to determine the agendas for meetings of the City Council and the Housing Authority. Now it is expanding its mission by including substantive issues of City Council business.  

The committee is composed of four. The mayor and his appointees, councilmembers Linda Maio and Gordon Wozniak, are permanent members. Another councilmember fills the fourth seat on a rotating basis. 

The agendas for July 10 and July 17 included an item, “Review of Council Procedures regarding Public Comment....” Incredibly, at their June 27th meeting, the City Council allowed this issue to be referred to the Agenda Committee for recommendations as to changes in the council’s procedures for public comment. In other words, the Agenda Committee is functioning as a subcommittee on public comment, concurrently with its agenda-building function . 

The impropriety and irony of this situation is glaring. Deliberations over changing public comment procedures—possibly to include greater public participation—are buried in the Agenda Committee’s afternoon meetings. How many people know this is happening and/or can attend at that time? Exceptions would be the mayor’s invitees, such as a particular representative from the League of Women Voters. 

The council’s interest in public comment has been spurred by the possibility of legal action. SuperBOLD has given notice that it may file a suit to enforce the Brown Act by ending the council’s lottery system for public comment. This lottery currently denies many people the opportunity to speak on vital community issues. 

Gene Bernardi 

 

• 

ALBANY CONCERNS 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

They’re back. The same cast of characters who brought us Concerned Albany Citizens in 2004 has returned this year as Concerned Albany Neighbors (CAN). Concerned Albany Citizens was a political committee formed for the sole purpose of distributing an attack letter (rather vicious I might add) against two anti-mall Albany City Council candidates in 2004. Concerned Albany Neighbors was formed for the purpose of attacking the Albany Waterfront Protection Initiative and supporting City Council candidates who also oppose it. Whatever the name, the message is the same: Disinformation. Ask the members of CAN who among them hasn’t hosted a Caruso coffee in their home or spoken publicly in favor of waterfront development. 

If they were truly Concerned Albany Neighbors, they would honor the wishes of their 2,400 neighbors who asked to have the Initiative placed on the ballot. Maybe next year they’ll return with a more fitting name, like CAMP, Concerned Albany Mall Proponents, or perhaps SOLD, Stop Opposition from Limiting Development. 

Cheryl Taubenfeld 

Albany  

 

• 

LAND USE 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

I’m a flatlands Berkeley homeowner who is a relative newcomer to land-use issues, and after reading about possible changes in Berkeley’s Landmarks Protection Ordinance in recent issues of the Daily Planet I find myself with a couple of questions. 

The LPO, obviously, provides a legal basis for opposing demolition of an existing structure when it can be shown to meet certain criteria. But a good many of the remarks about the LPO which have appeared in the Planet lately seem to be more about blocking certain kinds of development than about actual preservation of what already exists. Can we have an op-ed from a preservationist or two outlining the basic philosophy behind historical landmark preservation? What is it for, how does it work, what’s its value, how can it be balanced with competing interests, like landowners’ needs/rights to use their property for their own purposes? More about that, and less about how much we need it to keep the likes of Patrick Kennedy in check, would be welcome. I don’t think blocking development is the intended purpose of a historic preservation law—let’s talk about what it is supposed to accomplish, and whether the old LPO or the new one or some other one would be best for that. Also about how it affects small property owners, as well as how it works for big developers. 

I like the idea of landmark preservation, but I doubt that the LPO is the right tool for blocking undesired development, and I am afraid that in the long term using it for that will discredit the preservation effort. Things like Julia Morgan’s churches and Bernard Maybeck’s houses need to be protected, but not necessarily every old shingle house—after all, nice looking new buildings that fit into their surroundings are not categorically impossible, and could even be an improvement on old, shabby buildings that have outlived their usefulness. Why can’t we separate the issue of whether to tear down the old from the question of what to erect in its place? 

David Coolidge 

 

• 

CORRECTION 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Daniella Thompson is not correct about the history of the building at 2747 San Pablo Ave. (“Mel’s Drive-In Saw Birth of Civil Rights Movement,” July 7). No Mel’s ever occupied the building at 2747 San Pablo in Berkeley, and no civil rights actions are known to have taken place there. The stories she tells about Mel’s Drive-In and the Civil Rights Movement are compelling, important, and passionate but do not apply to the building in question. 

It appears her mistake comes from an error on the BAHA website. Our research in city building permits, county assessor’s records, Sanborn maps, telephone directories, and in conversations with the architect shows that the building was designed by William Henry Wisheropp, Jr. as an automobile sales office and body repair shop. It was built under a permit issued Nov. 29, 1952 by George Schmidt and W.H. Wisheropp, Sr., builders and developers of commercial property in the east bay, for Joe Donham, a car dealer in Oakland and Berkeley from 1930 to the late 1950s. The building was a car dealership from 1952 to 1956. It was used by the Ridley Company (tool sales) from 1957 to 1962. From 1965 to 1972, it was the Hadnot Liquor Store. From 1973 to 2000, it was Berkeley Equipment Rental. From 2000 to current 2747 San Pablo Avenue is occupied by the Berkeley Patients Group. 

Meanwhile, the first Mel’s Drive-In listed in East Bay telephone books was at 2399 Shattuck Ave. in 1954. In 1955, a second East Bay Mel’s was listed at 1701 San Pablo Ave. in Oakland. In 1962, a third East Bay Mel’s was listed at 501 Park in Alameda. These three locations were the only Mel’s in the East Bay during the 1960s when the civil rights actions took place. 

It is unfortunate that Daniella Thompson used erroneous information to suggest that the city is ignoring a landmark and created concern over history and events that never took place at 2747 San Pablo Ave. For the record, the current proposal for the site is a green mixed-use housing development on a major transit corridor in Berkeley, seeking Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification through the U.S. Green Building Council. This could be the first LEED-certified multifamily residential building in Berkeley—itself something for the history books. 

David M. Mayeri 

Owner/Developer of 2747 San Pablo 

Laura Billings 

Project Manager 

 

• 

BRONSTEIN’S RESPONSE 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

In her attack (Letters, July 14) on my “Pro-Business, Pro-Berkeley Agenda” (Commentary, June 30), Mim Hawley writes: “[Zelda’s] rigid guardianship of business quotas has brought sky-high prices for properties holding permits for business that are in high demand, such as restaurants,” thereby “creating the conditions that allow only chains to thrive” in Berkeley.  

Believe me, if I had that kind of power, I wouldn’t bother running for mayor. I do support limits on restaurants in some commercial districts. But, it appears, so did Hawley when she was on the City Council: Twice she joined the current mayor and the rest of the council in unanimously asking the Planning Commission to establish or consider establishing a food service quota system in the Northside commercial district similar to the systems on Solano, College and Telegraph Avenues.  

The council’s nods toward restaurant quotas came in response to the pleas of Northside business owners who were concerned about the proliferation of restaurants in their area. A similar situation led the Solano Avenue Association, the Thousand Oaks Neighborhood Association (TONA) and Berkeley city staff to create the Solano Avenue Commercial Ordinance, approved by the council in 1982. In another wild claim, Hawley says that I “was instrumental” in putting the Solano Avenue law in place. In fact, I had no hand whatsoever in crafting or enacting the ordinance. Indeed, in 1982 I wasn’t even living in Berkeley. 

Here’s why merchants and residents have sought quotas on food services: Commercial landlords prefer restaurant tenants, because restaurants yield higher rents than other sorts of retail. If you want diversified, neighborhood-serving commerce, you need to limit the number of food services permitted in an area. A business can always apply for a variance. If conditions change, the numbers can and should be re-calculated accordingly.  

Finally, contrary to Hawley’s claim, the public record shows that TONA did not oppose La Farine’s application for a food service use permit, either at the Zoning Adjustments Board or at the City Council. The TONA Board only asked that the city enforce the terms of the Solano Avenue ordinance for reasons that, I hope, the above discussion begins to make clear.  

Zelda Bronstein 

 

• 

WAR IN THE MIDDLE EAST 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

The recent Israeli military actions in Lebanon are a grossly disproportionate response to the capture of two Israeli soldiers. While the capture of the soldiers was indeed worthy of condemnation, killing scores of innocent Lebanese civilians and destroying critical civilian infrastructure is a completely unjustified and immoral act. As one of Israel’s long time allies and staunchest supporters, I believe the United States has an obligation to speak out about these atrocities. The United States should demand that Israel stop this violent response, and should withdraw our support for the Israeli government should the persist. 

Mr. James von Behren 

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: We received a number of letters similar to this one. More are on our website. 

 

• 

CLEAN MONEY 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

The mayor and four of the city councilmembers betrayed us voters Tuesday night when they voted to not put the Berkeley Clean Money measure on November’s ballot. The clean money organizers, including the League of Women Voters, weren’t asking the City Council to make any tough decisions about clean money. We were asking the council to allow the voters to make the decision—basically, allowing the council to punt.  

I want to congratulate Councilmembers Max Anderson, Darryl Moore, Dona Spring, and Kriss Worthington for voting to give us voters the choice of whether to support clean money in Berkeley this November. By doing so, they stood up for a cleaner local political scene. As Councilmember Moore said during the meeting, the perception of corruption is just as damaging to public decision-making as actual corruption. And ensuring that elected officials are financially beholden solely to the little people who elect them instead of the rich and powerful means that our local democracy will serve us, the people, instead of their largest donors.  

One quick note: Councilmember Olds ridiculed the idea that one $250 contribution from a single big business donor could “buy” a councilmember. Of course, she neglected to mention that the $250 donation is matched by a $250 donation from the donor’s spouse, adult children, business associates, employees, and so on, until that one $250 donation represents thousands of dollars. When Councilmember Capitelli can win an election with $27,000, ten $250 donations suddenly becomes 10 percent of his entire campaign fund. As a former candidate, I know first-hand how relieved I would have been if I had been able to collect 10 percent of my total from one donor! 

Jesse Townley 

 

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MORE ON CLEAN MONEY 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

After the City Council again refused last week to place the so-called “Clean Money” initiative on the ballot, we hope public campaign financing is dead for good in Berkeley. It is one of the most wasteful means of reducing the improper impact of money on politics there is. And in an attempt to reduce corruption in elections, public campaign financing only adds to it by using taxes to pay for political campaign publicity that is biased and may be deceptive or even completely false.  

There are other simpler, much more effective, and much less expensive ways of reducing the improper impact of money on local and state politics. That is why we have formed a citizens’ group supporting these more cost-effective alternative reforms and opposing Proposition 89, the public campaign financing initiative on the California ballot this November. We do not accept money from any source, and are not affiliated with any other organizations. We believe good ideas sell themselves. 

We support the following reforms to state and local politics: 

1. Make it illegal for any elected official to take official action specifically affecting any of their large campaign contributors. It should make no difference whether this action is taken before or after the contributions are made, or if the contributions are monetary or in-kind. 

2. Lower campaign contribution limits. 

3. Require all candidates for state and local offices to present their qualifications and positions in a uniform format to voters in the voters’ guides printed and distributed by the Secretary of State and County Registrar of Voters. 

The first two reforms above would cost taxpayers nothing, and would reduce or perhaps eliminate “pay to play” politics.  

The third reform would provide a “level political playing field,” reducing the impact of political advertising by giving voters a more complete and balanced source of information about candidates than is currently available. The cost to the taxpayer depends on how much of the costs of these guides will be paid for by the candidates. In any case, the cost to the candidates will probably be less than they would have to pay for their own publicity in the absence of such guides.  

For a complete statement of our position, and our reasons for opposing Proposition 89, visit our web log at noprop89.blogspot.com. Then please let us know if you support our position by e-mailing us at www.cfspr2006@yahoo.com We promise we will never ask you for money. And we will not put you on a periodic e-mail list or reveal your identity to anyone else without your permission. 

Keith Winnard 

 

 

 

 


Web-Only Letters to the Editor

Tuesday July 18, 2006

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OUT TO LUNCH 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Barbara Gilbert’s op-ed opposing Bush’s impeachment is out to lunch. She revealingly writes that it is “not doable or justifiable.” Excuse me, not justifiable? Bush has gotten us into a bloody, interminable war in Iraq that has made us less safe and has routinely given Israel blank checks to do whatever it pleases, as the current military assault on Lebanon demonstrates.  

I’m sorry, Gilbert, but your crappy local planning issues pale in comparison to the ongoing crimes, foreign and domestic, of the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld axis of evil. If that landmark preservation ordinance hadn’t been so grossly abused they wouldn’t have had to change it.  

Here in Oakland we have the opposite extreme—a development driven mania orchestrated out of City Hall that is now condoizing everything in sight, and this in an already oversaturated market! Our trouble is that we have too many of these “sensible” Perata Machine “centrist” Dummycrats who can’t see beyond their noses, or is it wallets? Hopefully, our incoming Mayor will start to reverse the disastrous policies of Jerry Brown, who is thankfully preparing to leave Oakland. Goodbye and good riddance! Impeach Bush should be on every city council agenda in the U.S.A. 

Michael Hardesty 

Oakland 

 

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DIVORCE 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Many young children face the hard consequences of homes broken as a result of divorce or separation. They feel emotionally insecure. They have suddenly lost a space where they are cared for by both parents.  

Young children feel love and warmth for both parents. They don’t understand the reasons for the absence of one parent. When their parents separate many children lose the power to focus and concentrate. They often imitate the insulting language and rough behavior of their fighting parents. They become sad and full of anger. 

In our culture we emphasize fulfillment for the individual partners in a marriage but we do not emphasize the need young children have for a pleasant, peaceful, secure and loving environment. We do not teach partners in a marriage ways of resolving conflicts so that children can continue to count on safety at home.  

Let us parents learn the healthy ways of compromise. Let us learn non-violent ways of resolving differences. Let us bring down the divorce rate for the United States.  

Speaking as a provider of early childhood education I want to say: a divorce or separation is disastrous for children. Young children should be made happy at home. In order to serve the development of children, we should try to educate the parents about the benefit of togetherness and love. 

Romila Khanna 

Albany 

 

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CUT THEM OFF 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Israel is receiving nearly 3 billion of our dollars a year to fund their military. Look what they are doing with it. Israel is using it for airstrikes and targeting civilians!  

Cut them off!  

This raw aggression is inexcusable.  

Cut them off! 

We are paying for these atrocities in more ways than one. I am heartsick by the death of innocent civilians, innocent families, women, children—and I am indirectly funding this? I am outraged! Sickened! 

There IS something that we can do. Cut them off! 

Maybe this will open your ears: There are innocent Americans stuck there who can’t get out—children who’ve never heard bombs before in their life, in fear of their own lives now who can’t get back home. 

This loathsome Administration could care less. 

Congress has the power to stop the flow of money funding this nightmare. 

Cut them off! 

Mrs. Jennifer Brass 

 

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AGRESSION OR TERRORISM? 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Hezbollah is not the nation of Lebanon or the Lebanese people, just as the terrorists who orchestrated and executed 9/11 were not the nation of Afghanistan or the nation of Iraq. However, it seems, after an attack, both the United States and Israel, who have the most powerful armies in the world, can blindly “counterattack” whomever they want to, violate UN treaties and not give a damn about civilians. It’s amazing how much U.S. and Israeli aggression parallels terrorism. 

Wendianne Eller 

Oakland 

 

• 

A GROSSLY  

DISPROPORTIONATE RESPONSE 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

The recent Israeli military actions in Lebanon are a grossly disproportionate response to the capture of two Israeli soldiers. While the capture of the soldiers was indeed worthy of condemnation, killing scores of innocent Lebanese civilians and destroying critical civilian infrastructure is a completely unjustified and immoral act. 

As one of Israel’s long-time allies and staunchest supporters, I believe the United States has an obligation to speak out about these atrocities. The United States should demand that Israel stop this violent response, and should withdraw its support for the Israeli government should they persist. 

James von Behren 

 

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GENOCIDAL CAMPAIGN 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Stop Israel genocidal campaign in the Middle East. This “God-chosen” people have become, with the help of our tax money, their own worst enemy. 

Stop the Bush administration support and perpetration of genocide in the Arab world now. 

Peace, 

Jose Francos 

Oakland 

 

 

• 

IT NEEDS TO BE STOPPED 

The Israeli government has totally given more punishment than the kidnapping warranted. Israel’s policy seems to be to kill all Arabs, including women and children, that live anywhere near their borders. This needs to be stopped!! 

Dan Regan 

Alameda 

 

• 

STOP THE WAR THERE AND HERE 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Please call or write Congress immediately and demand that we do something non-violent and peaceful to stop Israel’s bombing of civilians!  

We need to demand that Israel and all other aggressors stop bombing now or else we will cut off all military aid to Israel. Our tax dollars and suicidal governmental policies are responsible for feeding Israel’s giant military machine.  

Please note, that there are many Israeli, as well as Palestinians and many others, who are sick and tired of this war, and desire only peace. We might as well end the Israel vs. Palestine war in these Berkeley Daily Planet op-ed pages, too! 

Linda Smith


Commentary: Analyzing the Revised Landmarks Ordinance

By John English
Tuesday July 18, 2006

On July 11 Berkeley’s City Council by a 6-2-1 vote took the first reading on repealing the Landmarks Preservation Ordinance and reenacting it with extensive changes. Presumably it will take the second reading on July 18. This article analyzes key differences between the “old LPO” (originally adopted in 1974 and amended later in the 1970s and 1980s) and the “revised LPO” (the version that at this moment the City Council seems poised to adopt). 

I should mention that for years I’ve been actively participating—through countless memos and otherwise—in the extremely tortuous process through which citizens and city agencies have been debating how, and whether, the LPO should be changed.  

 

Deadlines for landmarking where there’s a pending project 

Scrutiny of the LPO started back in 2000 when then-City Manager James Keene proposed a batch of changes touted mostly as removing alleged conflicts with the Permit Streamlining Act (PSA) and California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) in situations where an application is filed for development on a property that hasn’t been landmarked. 

For such purported conflicts, the remedy now before the council involves what the staff calls “front-loading” and the imposition of deadlines for any initiation of the affected property. (“Initiation” is done by citizen or owner petition or by resolution of the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) or other authorized city body and merely commences a formal process through which the LPC decides whether to actually landmark a property.) Imposing these deadlines for initiation represents a major change from the old LPO. 

The revised LPO says that upon filing of any application for a use permit, administrative use permit, variance, or staff-level design review—and without waiting for the application to be “complete”—notice of it must be placed on the agenda of the LPC’s first regular meeting that occurs at least 21 days after the filing. Either at that meeting or its next regular one, the LPC can initiate the property. Citizens can initiate it by petition only till 21 days after the second meeting. Then what the staff has called a “safe harbor” period begins during which initiating is prohibited. This ban lasts until the project application is withdrawn or denied, the project permit is issued but later ceases to have effect, or (if earlier) two years have gone by.  

Staff and other advocates of the deadlines have argued that CEQA requires determining a project’s level of environmental review (exempt vs. negative declaration vs. environmental impact report) within 30 days after the project application is complete; that potential impact on a historic resource is critical to this determination; and that if redetermining is needed because such an impact gets implied through a landmarking initiation late in the game, this could cause the city to violate the Permit Streamlining Act. But preservationists have responded that the PSA’s timelines only begin when relevant CEQA determinations are made and that CEQA is flexible enough to let those determinations be changed if necessary. They’ve also pointed out that because in practice some applications aren’t technically complete till many months after filing, the deadlines for initiating could actually fall well before the above-mentioned 30-day period within which the level of environmental review must be determined under CEQA. 

Staff have contended that even if neither the LPC nor anyone else has initiated a property by the deadline, people could still influence the CEQA determination by later bringing up new information showing potential impact on a historic resource. But people trying to do so could find the deck stacked against them. Preservationists have argued that initiation of landmarking is citizens’ best shot at influencing the level of environmental review.  

 

“Request for Determination” 

Another highly controversial feature of the revised LPO is its brand-new “Request for Determination” (RFD) procedure whereby an owner or agent thereof can ask the LPC to decide whether or not a property should be initiated. This apparently involves paying the city either for a city-selected qualified consultant to prepare a report or for such a consultant to review the owner or agent’s own report. The LPC must hold an extensively noticed public hearing at its first regular meeting that occurs at least 21 days after the complete RFD is submitted. The LPC can initiate the property either at that meeting or the next one. Citizens can initiate it only till 30 days after the second meeting (or 21 days in cases where a development project is pending). If nobody does, then initiation is banned for at least two years.  

Though some procedural details vary depending on whether or not there’s also a pending project, most RFDs will likely be submitted and processed in advance of any project application. It can also be assumed that most owners who invoke this procedure won’t want their properties to get landmarked. 

Advocates of the RFD concept have argued that it lets owners find out whether or not their properties are historic before they decide to develop and to pay architects to draw up plans. They’ve also claimed that the procedure will help channel development away from historic sites, or at least give citizens an advance warning of where development may occur. But preservationists have called the RFD highly insidious because it exploits the reality that people usually don’t rally to defend a historic resource unless there’s a tangible development proposal threatening it. They’ve argued that where there’s no pending project, the early deadline for initiating is quite unnecessary. And they fear that neighborhood residents and lay preservationists will be severely disadvantaged by the combination of that deadline and the potentially arduous task of rebutting conclusions of the paid consultants that the procedure emphasizes. 

 

Structures of merit — and historic integrity 

Although the LPO’s present “structure of merit” category has been under heavy attack during the last couple of years, it has survived largely intact. 

The most notable change is that the revised LPO specifically says that structures of merit must have historic “integrity.” It also requires this for its “landmarks” category. Advocates of requiring integrity have said that doing so is consistent with standard preservation practice and that the concept itself is flexible enough to accept buildings that have to a reasonable degree been altered. But some preservationists fear that an unnecessarily pristine intactness may come to be demanded. They’ve suggested that at least for structures of merit, “local” standards of integrity should suffice. While one sentence in the revised LPO seems to imply that such local standards may be desirable, establishing them would require a future ordinance amendment.  

 

Landmark demolitions and alterations  

The old LPO authorizes the LPC to “suspend” for certain periods a proposed demolition of a designated property but not to actually deny such demolition. In contrast the revised LPO omits the authority to suspend but firmly gives the LPC power to deny demolition.  

The revised LPO’s criteria for reviewing proposed demolitions or alterations of a designated property involve a reorganizing and restatement of the old LPO’s criteria. On balance, the result is somewhat more protective of historic resources. This April, preservationists were alarmed by a proposal that any demolition or alteration could be OK’d if “The proposed project is necessary to achieve an important public policy and the expected benefit of the project to the public substantially outweighs” the impact on the historic resource. But that sweeping recommendation was later withdrawn. There can still be some weighing against a project’s “public benefits” but only in the presumably rare cases where a property’s historic or similar significance “has been severely reduced due to physical change on it occurring since the property was designated.”  

 

Miscellaneous changes 

The revised LPO adds provisions about environmental review. Where the Zoning Adjustments Board (ZAB) has regulatory power over a project, the LPC may recommend to ZAB what the project’s level of environmental review should be—in which event ZAB must either accept the LPC’s recommendation or make written findings supporting its decision not to. 

The revised LPO makes numerous other, mostly technical or noncontroversial changes. One of them is prescribing qualifications for LPC members. Another is reducing from 50 to 25 the required number of names on a citizens’ petition to initiate landmarking.  

 

Environmental review of the LPO 

revision itself 

Contending that none of the proposed ordinance changes could have a significant environmental impact, the staff issued this spring a draft negative declaration on the proposed LPO revision. Though some of the then-proposed specifics have subsequently changed, staff claims that the negative declaration was broad enough to cover them. However, many preservationists and others strongly disagree. They believe that the LPO revision could indeed substantially impact historic resources—and therefore requires an environmental impact report.  

 

Long-time Berkeley resident John English is an ardent aficionado of planning and preservation.  


Commentary: Affordable Housing And the Redistribution Of Wealth in America

By Frances Hailman
Tuesday July 18, 2006

The redistribution of wealth upward is proceeding apace in the Bush/neo-con America. What has been a lower class, is rapidly transforming into an under class, while the middle class is becoming the lower class. 

Through the nationwide action of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in this Bush era, the standards for low-income housing are changing accordingly, so that soon the lower class will be too poor to be eligible for “affordable housing.” This will create more available housing for the crumbling middle class, which they certainly deserve.  

But has anyone asked what happens to the lower ranks that are being pushed off the totem pole entirely? Does anyone seriously challenge the super rich at the other end of the spectrum and their hiding and hoarding of the nation’s wealth? 

Recently the mayor of my city is said to have commented that the neighborhood I live in is “blighted” and therefore subject to radical transformation, including the powers of eminent domain, to support the slipping middle class and provide them a safety net. But I have heard no plan whatsoever for the displaced persons who will thereby lose their housing—the former lower class now going under. 

I was walking the other day in a richer part of my city. It was lovely. There were big beautiful houses everywhere. Suddenly I wondered, how many people live in those big houses? How many empty rooms are rattling around up there unused? Is this not also a kind of blight? An unwise non-use of resources? 

Here, on one end, people are being shoved into some urban hinterland, dirty, dangerous, undignified. And on the other end, people have wealth that is basically superfluous. 

Remember that old concept of humankind—human kindness and compassion? Are we not still on this strange and mysterious home Planet Earth together? Are we not all equally her children? Are we not all equal at heart? What happened to noblesse oblige? Do we not have a simple ethical obligation to include everyone in our purview, in our planning? 

Being myself part of this lower class rapidly going under, I am not personally asking for untold wealth. I am not asking for three mansions on three continents. I just want an adequate living space in a safe and decent environment. 

The American medical system is already all but lost in this mad chaos of redistribution of wealth upward. If you take our housing too, small and shabby though some of it might be, we won’t even have a place where we can go to rest and heal, 

For city planners to plunge into fancy strategies for increasing the tax base without raiseing taxes on the mega-rich is insanity pure and simple. It necessarily demands exiling the lower classes. Demonize them first, call their neighborhoods “blighted,” and chase them off. But off to where? That’s the big question no one is asking. Where is this new underclass supposed to go?  

 

Frances Hailman, Ph.D, is a Berkeley resident.


Columns

Column: Dispatches from the Edge: Poverty, Aid and Africa: A Devil’s Brew

By Conn Hallinan
Friday July 21, 2006

Once or so a year, the topic of poverty climbs on the agenda for the developed world. This past weekend it barely surfaced at the meeting of the Group of Eight in St. Petersburg, where energy policy (and the Middle East) held center stage. Poverty was a theme at last year’s G8 meeting, and it will likely come up again next year when the United States, Canada, Japan, Britain, Russia, Germany, France, and Italy sit down in Berlin to divvy up the global economy. 

The venues shift, the faces at the table change, but the hard facts about hunger and privation are not much different than they were a decade ago. In some cases they’ve gotten worse.  

• Over 90 percent of urban populations have no access to safe drinking water and, by next year, more than half of the world will live in cities. The slums of Mumbai have more people than the entire country of Norway. 

• One third of the world’s population—2.3 billion people—have no access to toilets or latrines, a major reason for the 13 million annual deaths ascribed to water-borne diseases. 

• Almost 47 percent of children in Bangladesh and India are malnourished. Life expectancy in most of Africa is less than 50 years, and in those countries ravaged by AIDS, less than 40 years.  

Hunger and malnutrition are worse in sub-Saharan Africa than they were a decade ago. 

Back in 2000 the United Nations established a Millennium Development Goal to halve global poverty by 2015. The G8’s enormous wealth, along with its dominance in world trade, was to play the key role in this worldwide assault on poverty and disease.  

But six years into this war on poverty the goals are mired in a devil’s brew of self-serving economic policies, lethargic bureaucracy, and outright disingenuousness. Only South America and the Caribbean are even approaching the Millennium targets.  

Meeting last year in Gleneagles, Scotland, the G8 pledged to prioritize Africa for debt relief, accelerated aid, and increased trade. A year later, most of those initiatives are bogged down in a battle over free trade, as well as by a persistent inertia in delivering on those promises. The only part of the program running on schedule is debt relief, which looks good on paper but translates into very little on the ground. 

Most of the G8 increase in aid—from $80 billion in 2004, to $106.5 billion in 2005—was in debt write offs. Very little of that money went toward upgrading water systems, improving disease control, or increasing food consumption. 

Removing debt reduction from the aid packages, German aid fell 8 percent, and France and Britain’s dipped 2 percent. And while U.S. foreign aid jumped 16 percent, if you subtract Iraq and Afghanistan, it declined 4 percent.  

Debt relief is important and allows countries to divert interest payments toward upgrading their infrastructures, but it is also a cheap way for developed countries to fulfill their aid obligations. 

One of the major roadblocks to improving the lives of billions of people is the refusal of the United States to consider opening its agricultural markets, even as it insists that underdeveloped countries open theirs. This is particularly important in Africa, where 50 percent of a country’s GNP may be in agriculture. 

U.S. crops like corn, soy, cotton, and wheat are heavily subsidized by the federal government, so that U.S. wheat sells for 46 percent below production cost, with corn at 20 percent below cost. If Brazil or South Korea were to try to do the same thing with steel, they would be accused of “dumping” on the international market. 

The G8 members of the European Union (EU) argue that if underdeveloped countries remove their tariffs, those countries will be overwhelmed with cheap U.S. produce, which will drive them out of business, encourage uneven regional development, and do very little to aid the poor.  

Mexico and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is a case in point. Mexican fruit and vegetable exports increased 50 percent under NAFTA, enriching big landowners in the country’s north. But small farmers in the south are being swamped by U.S.-subsidized corn. Some two million farmers have left the land, and 18 million subsist on less than two dollars a day, accelerating rural poverty, and helping to fuel the growth of immigration 

Mexican wheat production has fallen 50 percent, and U.S. imports now account for 99 percent of Mexico’s soybeans, 80 percent of its rice, 30 percent of its chicken, beef and pork, and 33 percent of its beans. When Mexican cattle growers switched from using sorghum to corn because the latter was cheaper, the shift put the former industry out of business.  

While the United States demands the removal of foreign barriers, it maintains tariffs on sugar and cotton, two crops that are, coincidentally, central to the key electoral battleground states of Florida and Texas. 

According to the Financial Times, “new research suggests that the very poorest of the least developed countries (LDCs) could make big gains in exports and growth if the United States followed the EU and opened its markets to LDC.” 

Free trade has been a disaster for most of the developing world. In Latin America, where until recently the free trade “Washington Consensus” held sway, growth from 1987 to 2002 averaged 1.5 percent. To even put a dent in poverty, Latin America requires a growth rate of at least 4 percent or more. 

The EU is also part of the problem. While it has been critical of U.S. intransigence on tariffs, the EU has kept out a number of LDC exports over health issues, and it subsidizes its farmers as well. In all, the developed world hands out nearly $1 billion in farm subsidies each day.  

Food aid policy in the U.S, for which the total 2005 budget was $1.6 billion, is largely dictated by an “iron triangle” of agribusiness, shipping magnates, and charity foundations. Studies demonstrate that the most efficient way to deliver aid is to purchase food locally rather than buy and ship it from the donor country. 

But the United States insists that food aid must come from the United States, be shipped on U.S. carriers and distributed by agencies like CARE and Catholic Relief Services. As a result, 60 cents out of every aid dollar goes for middlemen in transport, storage and distribution.  

Four companies and their subsidiaries, led by agri-giants Archer Daniels Midland and Cargill, sell more than half the food used by the Agency for International Development. Five big shipping companies dominate the transport side of the equation. And relief agencies, like CARE and Catholic Relief Services, generate half their budgets by selling some of the aid food.  

Oxfam has long lobbied for putting cash directly into the hands of local farmers rather than handing it out to agricultural and transport corporations, but most U.S. aid groups support the current system. CARE, however, recently broke ranks and endorsed the Oxfam initiative. 

The recent G8 meeting largely tabled the issue for this year, but the problem is not going to go away. Poverty is an affliction of the underdeveloped world, but the solutions to it lie in altering the policies of the developed world.


Column: Undercurrents: Doing ‘Something’ About Violence in Oakland

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Friday July 21, 2006

Forgive me, y’all, but I am always a little skeptical when a politician announces that one of their public policy initiatives has nothing to do with politics but, then, you’ve got to find the timing of this one is a little curious, as well. 

We have known since late winter that we are in the midst of an enormous upswing in East Bay murders this year, and just over the mid-year mark the ghastly toll has now reached 73 in Oakland and 19 in the much-smaller Richmond. Now we learn, according to a Jim Herron Zamora article in the San Francisco Chronicle this week, State Sen. Don Perata has “wanted for months to do something about Oakland’s spiraling number of street killings.” 

What kept Mr. Perata from doing whatever the “something” that he wanted to do was not revealed by the Chronicle article, but Mr. Zamora tells us that the “something” is now being done, as Mr. Perata announced that on Wednesday of this week he was “host[ing] a private meeting … of 40 public officials and community leaders in which he hopes to produce a to-do list for the state to help combat recent violence in Richmond and Oakland.” 

Why is the timing so curious? Well, the Perata “Combat The Violence” meeting comes on the same day that Oakland activists and education leaders had planned to travel to Sacramento in hopes to meet with Mr. Perata (as well as local Assemblymembers Wilma Chan and Loni Hancock) concerning the issue of return to local control of the Oakland public schools.  

It was Mr. Perata’s SB39 legislation that authorized the state seizure of OUSD in 2003, and local leaders were hoping that he could use his considerable powers as State Senate President to push through new legislation saying that Oakland had been punished enough for its financial transgressions. In fact, some of the local activists might be arguing that while the chaos resulting from the state takeover did not cause the recent upswing in Oakland violence, it certainly didn’t help, so that one important step Mr. Perata might take to combat Oakland’s violence would be to help speed local control to the Oakland schools, ending the instability in one of the city’s most important institutions. 

Of course, you could also argue that Mr. Perata convened the anti-violence meeting on Wednesday as a way for him to deflect attention from the Oakland school struggle, and Mr. Perata’s role in the state takeover, or his possible role in the sale of the administration building lands. But that would be cynical, my friends, and it’s way too hot this week to be cynical. 

Meanwhile, if you wanted to learn how serious Mr. Perata might or might not be about advancing an anti-violence agenda in Oakland, the Jim Zamora Chronicle article did note that two prominent invitees were not on Mr. Perata’s list for the meeting: outgoing Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown and incoming Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums. The article explains this curious lapse in a quote by Mr. Perata that “Jerry is gone soon and he’s running for a higher office—I didn’t want this to be seen by anyone as a political event. I’m not gaining anything politically from this. I want it totally work focused. As for Ron, he doesn’t start the job for six months, I want to move on things right now. I look forward to working with him next year.” 

Odd reasoning, don’t you think? While Mr. Brown may be “gone soon,” he is still responsible for the running of Oakland—for which we are still forwarding him regular paychecks, last I heard—and the “higher office” the Mayor is running for is Attorney General of the State of California based, in large part, on his success or lack of success in addressing the issues of crime in violence in Oakland. And while Mr. Dellums does not take office until January, he is already deep at work on the transition. Why, then, would Mr. Perata want to keep the once and future Oakland mayors out of a “Combat The Violence” meeting, the subject of which these two powerful men have such influence over? If you were being cynical, you could argue that with Mr. Brown and Mr. Dellums in the room, Mr. Perata would only get a third of the publicity and the attention, at the most, but that would imply that the major purpose behind the “Combat The Violence” meeting would be to get Mr. Perata attention and publicity, rather than combating any actual violence, and as I said, it’s way too hot to be cynical this week. 

Anyways, meanwhile, perhaps coincidentally, perhaps not (quién sabe?), a week before the Perata “Combat The Violence” meeting, two Oakland City Councilmembers often identified as allies of Mr. Perata—Larry Reid and Jane Brunner—held a City Hall forum on Oakland Youth in the Criminal Justice System, which the Councilmembers said would “focus on preventing youth criminal activity in Oakland neighborhoods.” 

A look at the titles of the panel members might give you a clue as to where this focus concentrated. Dominated by law enforcement officials, it included the Alameda County Probation Chief, the Alameda County Senior Deputy District Attorney for Juvenile Offenders, The Alameda County Presiding Youth Judge, the Oakland Chief of Police, and, in the lonely role as the only non-law enforcement person, the City of Oakland Director of Human Services. The rest of the public—including youth advocates and the youth themselves—was relegated to trooping up to the microphone, one person at a time, to give their one minute of testimony on this important subject. (Try saying more than your name, address, and telephone number in a minute’s time and see how difficult and useless this exercise in public testimony actually is.) 

If that didn’t provide enough of a hint, the official forum e-mail invitation was more explicit: “Do you wonder why young people are involved in criminal activity?” it asked. “Does it seem to you that when young people are picked up for illegal activity, they are back on the streets within hours? Are young people treated less seriously by the police and the criminal justice system? Please join Councilmembers Jane Brunner and Larry Reid to address these questions.” 

There is nothing wrong with asking these questions, and the two Councilmembers are certainly free to hold forums on anything that addresses issues that are within the scope of their duties and are of concern either to themselves or their constituents. 

The problem is that it presupposes a criminal justice solution to the problem of Oakland’s youth violence, while logic would suggest that understanding of the nature and cause of a problem ought to precede locking-in on the cure. 

And yet, somehow, despite the fact that Oakland has been suffering under a depressingly consistent rate of murders for the past several years, we have yet to sit down as a city and a community during this period to hold a comprehensive, rational, adult discussion as to why. 

While there are those who might say there have been many—some would even say “too many”—public debates in recent years over cures to Oakland’s violence, these debates have actually centered around the political campaigns surrounding the various anti-violence ballot measure campaigns on the ballot since 2002. If history has taught us anything, it is that truth, understanding, and rationality are generally the first casualties when people are fighting over votes or money. 

These efforts may be a nice start, but they are not nearly enough. 

Oakland is a city with enormous resources to focus on civic problems, if we wish to take advantage of them. Among other things, we have two community colleges of the Peralta system (Laney and Merritt) as well as the nearby University of California at Berkeley to lend their research and analytical expertise. We have a community of energetic, intelligent youth who have often expressed interest in working on solving some of the city’s difficulties, if we would only trust them a little, listen to them, and bring them into the mix. We have a long and honorable history of civic activism and involvement, with people still living in the city who are veterans of various neighborhood, citywide, national, and international projects from Seventh Street to Soweto. We are a city full of writers, teachers, thinkers, artists, artisans, and activists who would be willing to volunteer time and energy and services, if only asked. You could certainly add Richmond citizens to that discussion, since the problems in these two cities—and the solutions to those problems—may prove to be remarkably similar. 

The questions to confront? What is the cause of the bloody violence that is threatening to crush the East Bay and its residents to our knees, how can we mitigate its effects, and how can we bring it to an end? 

And we wouldn’t even have to wait until the new Oakland mayoral administration is in place to go on with that discussion. 


Calatrava’s Sundial Bridge Puts Redding on the Map

By Dorothy Bryant, Special to the Planet
Friday July 21, 2006

 

On Dec. 15, 2005 the New York Review of Books ran a long article on Spanish architect and engineer Santiago Calatrava, written by architecture critic Martin Filler in the great tradition of NYR sneers. 

Almost no put-down was omitted: “overelaborate designs,” “obfuscate,” “theatrical aesthetic,” “a naivete similar to Disneyland.” There are references to a crafty “game plan” that involved hiring “a New York public relations firm,” which got Calatrava the commission to design the new Transportation Hub for the World Trade Center at Ground Zero. 

More dismissive adjectives include “kitsch,” “shallow symbolism,” and “underlying sentimentality,” which explains why (sniff) his “appeal to a popular audience makes perfect sense.” Some of Calatrava’s bridges and buildings are listed, like the Milwaukee Art Museum, as evidence of his “avian obsession” as well as his use of moving parts that sometimes malfunction. 

However, spread across the page above the article, as if mocking Filler’s judgment, is a breathtaking (to this ignorant member of the “popular audience”) aerial photograph of Calatrava’s pedestrian bridge, spanning the Sacramento River in Redding. 

Redding? Did I read that caption right? Redding? 

Bob and I are 70-plus Northern California natives, who have seen all the changes: orchards and rolling hills buried by freeways, housing tracts and shopping malls. Bummer. But we don’t romanticize what the freeways replaced—highways with occasional two or three-block stretches of a ramshackle “main street” of an undistinguished and indistinguishable “town” you had to drive through on your way to the natural beauties of the coast or the mountains. 

In between, the great agricultural valleys lay—in hellish heat or in bone-chilling-blinding winter tule fog. The bread basket of the world combined the virtual slave labor of Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath with the wasteland of his story “Chrysanthemums,” a portrait of a woman’s parched soul withering like her dying flowers. The current and spreading infection of shopping malls and housing tracts (where the more fortunate residents huddle throughout the summer, prisoners of their air conditioners) seemed consistent with the historic nature of the valley.  

But now, according to this condescending NYR article, there is, for better or for worse, something to see there. So in May (my cut-off point for entering that three-digit Fahrenheit hell) we drove four hours into the valley to Redding. 

If you go on the net, you’ll learn that the 700-foot walking bridge was conceived in 1995, largely financed and developed by the McConnell Foundation (which a friend called the brainchild of rich retirees who own property in Redding), that it cost $23 million, and involved various land swaps and buy-outs to create a 300-acre park preserve on the shores at either end of the bridge. 

Then there were complicated negotiations for federally mandated preservation of salmon spawning grounds—no pilings could be driven into the river bed. These preparations ate up half the costs before ground was broken in 1999. The bridge was completed in 2004. 

A Calatrava trademark is the soaring white wing (or sail?) at one end covered with a million broken pieces of Spanish tile, from which steel cables radiate like harp strings down to the bridge (whether decorative or structural or both, I don’t know). In the case of the Redding Bridge, the shadow cast by the wing actually indicates the time of day, hence the title Sundial Bridge.  

From the parking lot we could see the gleaming white wing piercing the sky; we used it as a guide post as we walked wide, wheel-chair accessible paths toward the bridge (other paths go off to hiking trails). The botanical gardens on either shore were not open to guided tours when we got there but we were able to wander around and see plantings and plans for developing the parkland preserve. 

We walked the short bridge span on a tread made of thick glass. (We didn’t stay to see it at night when powerful lights under the glass light up the whole span.) People walked, bicycled, pushed baby strollers, stopped to look down at the water or across at the forested land, or up at the hills and mountains beyond. Nothing to do on this bridge but hug your lover and look over the side and watch the water stream by, or chase your kids, or, perhaps meet your neighbor and talk? I wondered if, in this state where everyone is always on the move in a car, this short bridge—where we were all moving but slower—had, by design or by accident, become a new kind of town square. 

On July 7, the New York Times travel section Escapes devoted a page to “Redding, California,” verifying that the bridge had made the formerly “just another Podunk” town a tourist destination. It maps the town and surroundings, lists restaurants (pricey but definitely not serving the Velveeta-soaked chops typical of the old valley truck stops) that have appeared, and names some reasonably priced and comfortable hotels like the one we stayed in before driving on to Lassen Volcanic Park and the Lake Shasta Caverns.  

I confess that I take a certain old-Californian proprietary pride in the Redding Bridge. I don’t see its sharp, gleaming lines as a “Disneyland” violation of nature but as a contrasting, humanly-crafted homage to that landscape. We could do—and have done—worse. All my life I have longed for architecture that at least aspired to being worthy of the natural beauty of California. (How many times can you walk across the Golden Gate Bridge?)  

I’m told that the idea of the Redding Bridge inspired the green-tinted foot-bridge arching over the freeway just south of University Avenue. All right! What’s next?  

Oh, and I don’t have to tell you to save your trip to Redding for late September or early October. Japanese tourists show up even in Death Valley in August (no kidding!), but we know better.


Choosing Not to Play the Updating Game

By Jane Powell
Friday July 21, 2006

 

We have all watched Antiques Roadshow, thus we have learned that an antique which still has the original finish, parts, and such, in good condition, is far more valuable than a piece which has been refinished, modified to hold a television, or has modern replacement hardware. 

Yet few people seem to be able to apply this principal to antique houses. Instead, urged on by advertising, shelter magazines, television, architects, contractors, and decorators, most people happily rip out the historic features of their antique house in order to replace them, often at considerable cost, with whatever the latest decorating trend happens to be, all in the cause of being fashionable, or modern, or “expressing oneself.” 

Even energy-efficiency is used as an excuse these days, mostly to rip out perfectly good wooden windows made from old-growth timber and replace them with double-glazed windows made of second growth timber, or worse, vinyl, neither of which will last as long as the original windows have already lasted. So great, now your house is “up-dated,” but it’s still not “brand-new.”  

Instead, as though you’d attached a plastic handle to a Ming vase to make it “modern,” you have not achieved the Philippe Starck-designed modernity you wanted, you have merely destroyed an antique. Worse, how “modern” do you think your current “state-of-the-art” kitchen is going to look in 20 years? 

You might want to ask someone with a “state-of-the-art” kitchen from the 1970s—I’m sure the avocado green appliances and the fake brick vinyl floor were absolutely the latest thing back then—the equivalent of today’s concrete countertops and stainless steel. 

When I was looking for my first house, back in the late 1980s, I came to dread the phrase “updated kitchen,” because that always meant “we ripped out the original vertical grain fir cabinets and replaced them with the cheapest thing we could find” (at that time it was usually particle board cabinets with almond Formica and oak trim). 

Now I am not saying there aren’t some things in an old house that could use updating. Replacing the 30 amp electrical service that only has four circuits might be a good idea. Doing a seismic retrofit would probably be wise. Roof coverings don’t last forever either, and possibly a new furnace may be in order. It’s conceivable the hardwood floors might need to be refinished. 

All of these things (and more) can be done without destroying the historic integrity of the house. Nor do you have to give up functional aspects of 21st century life- it is entirely possible to have a dishwasher, an energy-efficient refrigerator, the Internet, and a place to charge your iPod, without the cognitive dissonance of having rooms from different centuries. 

Nor am I saying you can’t express yourself. But you don’t have to express yourself on the fabric of the house. No one is stopping you from having whatever furniture, art, rugs, sheets, towels, china, silverware, etc. your heart desires. If you love iridescent granite, you can have it as a tabletop or a desk- you don’t have to cover the fireplace with it. 

I do want to scream every time I see or hear the statement, usually uttered by designers, “We wanted to combine the old with the new” or “vintage with contemporary”—they have many ways of putting it, and many ways of doing it. What that gets you, friends, is a mimosa- a drink which ruins perfectly good orange juice and perfectly good champagne! And in a house, what it gets you mostly is a house which is neither here nor there, fish nor fowl.  

And since “green” is now the thing to be, truly, there is nothing greener than leaving your house as it is- maintaining it and caring for it so its life and the embodied energy it represents can continue. Remodeling uses up new resources, even if those resources are green, and usually involves sending a lot of debris to the landfill, much of it irreplaceable old-growth timber. (And before you argue you’re going to recycle a lot of it, think about this—even the lath in lath-and-plaster is old-growth timber, and no one reuses lath, not even me, and I’m pretty obsessive.) 

Let your house be what it is. Fix things that are damaged, upgrade the functional aspects carefully, and try not to do anything a subsequent owner might curse you for, as you may be cursing something done by an owner before you. Resist the siren song of “modernization.” An old house with “original charm intact” is almost always worth more than one which is “updated.” 

 

Jane Powell (janepowell@sbcglobal.net) is the author of six books about bungalows, including the just-released Bungalow Details: Interior.


Imagining a Berkeley Under Water

By Matt Cantor
Friday July 21, 2006

Matt, We need to reinforce the cripple walls in our 1906 one-story house. But we live in the Berkeley flats and we are worried about potential flooding. We are not that far above sea level and we don’t think that global warming is a fairy tale. 

We don’t want to have to tear out all of this plywood bracing with crowbars after it gets wet. We would prefer to screw on the wood panels so that they are more easily removable. Backer On brand screws for wonderboard installation are nice and thick and coated against moisture which is nice, but I think the longest they make are 1 5/8". Are there any screws which are rated for this use? Or is there a system that uses metal somehow? 

Alan Bretz 

 

 

Dear Alan, 

What a fascinating letter. I’m not quite sure where to begin. Since you’ve presented a number of eye-opening items, I’d like to see if I can take them, more or less, one at a time.  

This marks the first letter I’ve received which has specifically asked me to address the needs of a house that may soon be under water due to global warming. Strangely, this is something I’ve actually discussed with some of my clients in the last few years as I’m also one who considers this a very plausible concern. 

Nonetheless, if you’re in Berkeley, it’s not very likely that you’re going to be subject to these issues as the elevation in most of the city is well above 20’ and that’s the projected rise if a number of fairly serious events occur over the next 10-20 years. Therefore, unless you’re in the estuary or the very lowest parts of Berkeley/Albany, I wouldn’t devote too much energy to how this will affect your seismic bracing. 

If you’re actually down very close to sea level, you may want to think about what you’re going to do with your property if water starts lapping at your foundation. If this actually occurs, there are a lot of consequences that you might want to take into account including how your sewer is going to perform when it’s flooded. Your electrical panel might pose something of a threat if you have to stand in water to reset a breaker. 

You might be faced with some fairly serious settlement if your house is sitting in water and the effects of an earthquake on a house that’s sitting in mud are likely to be quite a bit worse than one that’s sitting on dry land. 

Alameda is another matter entirely since much of that fair city is less than 20’ above sea-level, meaning that Alameda might become the Venice of the Bay if the south pole loses a large amount of ice which is hanging on by Al Gore’s fingernails.  

Now, there might be an upside to all this water if you look at it the right way. The ferry from S.F could drop you off at Spenger’s. You could stay at home and fish. The Cal Water Polo Team will be able to stage exhibition games in your basement. 

But this is probably a very serious concern and were it to actualize. I’d say that your house will no longer be your house. It will be devalued to a degree where it will probably not be a house for anyone anymore. For the time being, I’d eat more chocolate and watch funnier movies. Oh, and reduce your carbon emissions. 

As for planning shear-wall sheathing around rising sea-level, I just wouldn’t go there. I’d say that earthquakes are a more tangible eventuality and that you should plan for them without any serious thought toward removal. 

If sea-level actually rises to where you live, your whole house is going to be so seriously affected that removal of the shear-wall sheathing probably isn’t going to make it into the day planner for next Tuesday. So just go ahead and do your shear-wall sheathing, bolting and other hardware connections so that you can survive an earthquake. 

By the way, if you are actually quite close to the bay, you might just be in a liquefaction zone. It’s a good idea to find out because the shaking forces are much greater in these places and it’s good to plan for this. Houses are more likely to experience serious damage when they’re in liquefaction zones because the earth moves more in these places and also because the earth can rapidly subside. 

Now, for the last part of your question; shear-wall sheathing, which is typically assembled using plywood panels and nailed to the framing of the house with a large number of nails is best installed without the use of any sort of screw. 

There is apparently one screw which has very recently come on the market and that can be used for shear-walling but, as a rule, screws are a very poor choice because they tend to be quite brittle, while nails have great ductility and can bend many times before they break. The screws you are describing for use on concrete tile-backer board are not going to pass muster. They might be moisture resistant but they don’t have the shear value that’s called for.  

Therefore, I would suggest that you abandon your plan for temporary or removable shear-walling. I see too much shear-walling that is so poorly done that I’m worried it won’t do the job when the great moment arrives. So any attempt to short-change the process by making the work removable is just not on the table for me. 

In short, here are my suggestions: Retrofit your house, hire the Dutch to put sea doors just outside the Golden Gate, don’t ask the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to build levees (or anything) in the Berkeley Marina, stop watching An Inconvenient Truth (once for you was quite enough—but get all your friends to see it) and start collecting two of every animal. When you’re ready, call me, I’ve got cats, raccoons, squirrels, skunks and at least two deer. 

Stay in touch, 

Matt 


Think Twice Before You Reach for the Bug Spray

By Ron Sullivan
Friday July 21, 2006

It’s midsummer, more or less, and the other inhabitants of the garden are showing up in numbers. Aphids and whiteflies and thrips, oh my! The first flush in spring gave rise to another generation or two, multiplying all the way, and most of the birds have about finished raising their first and maybe second broods for the year, so fewer insects are being turned into babyfood.  

But it’s not time to panic and start throwing insecticides around. Some of our most charming predators are emerging into visibility, and killing everything that nibbles on the plants will kill them, too. 

Now, if you have an infestation and you grab the spray and start shooting indiscriminately, you’ll kill off most—only most —of what’s bugging you, plus anything else that’s in range, including the things that are eating the pests. 

That’s elementary. You’ll also be killing the decorative insects like butterflies, by way of collateral damage. I’m including “safe” sprays, too—the average insecticide is not particular, even if it’s safer for the likes of us mammals. 

The catch is that, like predators on any scale, the useful insectivorous critters don’t multiply as fast or as prolifically as the vegetarian pests that are chewing or sucking the vigor out of the garden. 

At worst, the bugkillers will have become concentrated as each predatory bird or arthropod or even mammal eats many individual insects. By the time they’ve recovered from poisoning or just from short rations, the herbivores have had two or three litters and those litters have littered.  

Anyone at the base of the food web (to mash a metaphor) is likely to be a determined breeder. Some aphids, for a pertinent example, breed asexually over the summer and don’t bother with complications like mating until they’re ready to shut down their whole enterprise for the winter. 

That’s right, folks, little girl-aphid clones are what’s overrunning your beans and posies. Everything Lucas does in Star Wars got thought up and done already by that original trickster, Nature. (If you really want to scare yourself and gross yourself out too, read Carl Zimmer’s excellent Parasite Rex.) 

With such a big prey base, the ladybugs and mantids and spiders will breed more prolifically too. It takes a little time, but insect and arachnid generations are a whole lot faster than ours. 

If you’re willing to accept some holes and puckers in your leaves now, you’ll spare yourself lots of work later and you’ll spare your garden’s friendly inhabitants too. It helps a lot to persuade your neighbors likewise; their frequently-sprayed yards can be reservoirs of pests.  

There’s one set of exceptions to the indiscriminate-killer insecticide: Bacillus thuringensis (“Bt”) sprays or pellets. These contain a subspecies of microorganism that’s bred specifically for the life form it’s aimed at—caterpillars (but remember, that’s any caterpillar) or mosquitoes. 

They kill the pest in its infancy, so it doesn’t survive to bite or breed. I like the stuff for small watergardens—tubs, pots—better than the “mosquitofish” the county hands out for free, which are becoming pests themselves. More on that problem next week. 

 

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


Quake Tip of the Week

By Larry Guillot
Friday July 21, 2006

Are You Inside or Out? 

 

When the Big One hits, if you’re inside, stay indoors until the shaking stops and you’re sure it’s safe to exit. 

More injuries happen when people move during the shaking of an earthquake. After the shaking has stopped, if you go outside, move quickly away from the building to prevent injury from falling debris.  

If you are outdoors, find a clear spot away from buildings, trees, streetlights, and power lines. Drop to the ground and stay there until the shaking stops. Injuries can occur from falling trees, street-lights and power lines, or building debris. 

 

 

Larry Guillot is owner of QuakePrepare, an earthquake consulting, securing, and kit supply service in the east bay.  

558-3299, www.quakeprepare.com. 

 

 

 


Column: Lame, Crippled, Insensitive And Politically Incorrect

By Susan Parker
Tuesday July 18, 2006

I was criticized by letter writers in the last three issues of the Daily Planet for stating that my husband Ralph is confined to a wheelchair. Brian Hill of Albany said he didn’t “mind being called crippled or lame” but “confined to a wheelchair” implied Ralph was “chained to it, with padlocks.” Ann Sieck seconded Brian’s opinion and said she, too, was “good and crippled.” Ruthanne Shpiner stated, “Language and its use or misuse is critical in forming how the public perceives everyone. Such terminology as ‘confined to a wheelchair’ is not only inaccurate, it is offensive.”  

I’m surprised she didn’t find the terminology lame and crippled politically incorrect, but it doesn’t matter. I can easily substitute the word “uses” for “confined to.” Ralph uses an electric wheelchair. In order to do so his attendant and I empty his leg bag, pull down the sheets and blankets on his bed, put on his slacks, slip the catheter tube into a makeshift hole in his pant leg, stuff a sling underneath him, attach the sling to a Hoyer lift, crank him out of bed, roll socks onto his feet, swing him into his wheelchair, detach the sling from the lift, wrestle a shirt over his head and tuck it into the elastic waistband of his pants, secure a seatbelt around his belly and a chest belt across his chest, lock a tray in place over the armrests, place his hands on the tray, Velcro plastic protectors onto his feet, place his feet on the footrests, pull the joy stick over his head and adjust it around his neck, tilt the headrest behind his head, comb his hair, put on his glasses, turn the wheelchair on, put it into gear, open the back door and the gate, help him navigate down the ramp. We pull the van lift down, help him wheel into the car, lock the chair into the floor, turn the chair off, and drive him to his appointments.  

When we return home, we reverse the process: take his clothes off, raise him out of the wheelchair with the Hoyer lift, haul him over to his bed, place him on the mattress, cover him with sheets and blankets, re-situate the hospital tray and the computer screen in front of him, place his mouthstick in his mouth, turn on his computer and the TV. We put the bars up on the bed so he won’t fall out, give him his medications as needed, make and serve dinner, brush and floss his teeth, readjust his body, flush his catheter, turn off the television and the computer when he is ready for sleep.  

In the morning we give him additional medications and breakfast, floss his teeth, clean his ears, help him blow his nose, re-flush the catheter. If the next day is a bowel program, we hook him to an oxygen machine and insert suppositories. In the morning we put him in a sling, attach the sling to the Hoyer lift, and assist him with the bowel movement. Then we lower him into the shower chair, push him into the bathroom, rinse him off, wash his hair, dry and powder him, return him to the living room, put clean linens on the bed, reattach the sling to the Hoyer lift, crank him out of the shower chair, place him into bed, roll him over to remove the sling, and get him ready for the rest of his day.  

So, yes, Ralph isn’t confined to a wheelchair. He’s not confined to a bed. He’s not confined to a shower chair, and he’s not confined to the house as long as he has help.  

I remember when, before his accident, he was the most unconfined man in the world, able to do whatever he wanted to do whenever he wanted to do it. Now there are limits. But I won’t use the word confined in this column again, I promise, unless it’s referring to me.


Red Alert Issued for The Yellow Dodder

By Ron Sullivan, Special to the Planet
Tuesday July 18, 2006

One more scary invasive exotic plant has shown up in the East Bay. Susan Schwartz of Friends of Five Creeks issued a bulletin:  

 

I’m hoping you will help look for the bright-yellow, leafless, parasitic vine shown in the attached photo. If you find it, please inform Vince Guise of the Alameda/Contra Costa Weed Management Area (vguis@ag.cccounty.us) and me [F5creeks@aol.com]. California has many dodders, but no other forms these bright yellow tangles in broad-leaved trees. 

This plant is Japanese dodder, Cuscuta japonica. It is a new invader in California—our restoration site at Adams Street on Cerrito Creek is apparently only the third reported instance. But the second was at an apartment building in San Pablo, so there may well be others. That is why I’m asking your help. 

This parasite can infest a wide variety of trees. At Cerrito Creek, it’s on willow, plum, and elderberry; at San Pablo it infested pittosporum. It spreads by seed and vegetatively, by bits and pieces—the long, succulent tendrils break off easily. Once it finds a host, it sends root-like structures called hausatoria into limbs, sucking the host plant’s water and nutrients. It forms dense tangles and weakens or eventually kills the tree or bush. 

The plant has herbal uses in Asia and may be being brought in for that reason. There is a Department of Agriculture quarantine, but those are often ineffectual. Like many invasives, it has the potential to spread rapidly and widely in wild lands, gardens, and orchards.  

Department of Agriculture advice is to inform them rather than try to eradicate it yourself. If you do try, their advice is to remove the entire tree or bush down to the ground, double-bag everything down to small fragments, and make sure the bags are deeply buried in landfill (that is, do not compost). 

 

The usual sort of dodder is easy enough to see now, especially in pickleweed salt marshes along the bay. It looks like a big skein of orange thread, tangled in the succulent marsh plants. Dodders, native or imported, are officially agricultural pests: as parasites, they reduce crop size and health. The new one is attacking gardens, too—pittosporum is a genus of commonly used ornamental shrubs and small trees. In wildlands, the nutrient balance can be even more precarious than a small farmer’s financial balance, so the imported species wouldn’t exactly be welcome there either. 

This new one is not just any wildland invader; healthy trees have had to be destroyed to get rid of it— it spreads fast, as Schwartz notes above, and can make a whole stand of trees sicken and die, if such harsh measures aren’t taken. You can imagine how this affects creek restoration and flood control efforts—kill the trees and the banks erode and the winter floods wash away our wild neighbors’ homes along with ours—and breaks the hearts of the people, many of them volunteers, who are actually getting out there and sweating on those efforts.  

Lots of restoration work, especially along creeks, involves the hard, repeated, sometimes years-long labor of removing Algerian ivy. You can tell that from English ivy—which is a wildlands pest too—by Algerian’s bigger leaves and red petioles (leaf stalks). It’s more vigorous than English ivy, and it’s been planted as a droughty, cheap, low-maintenance ground cover for years.  

It’s going out of style lately, thank Flora, for several reasons. A big one is that it harbors rats—Norway rats, roof rats, the kind you’d really rather not have close to home. One ivy-killing project I know of involved cooperative neighbors, some of whom were alarmed at the apparent influx of rats in their yards. Of course, it wasn’t that the newly bare spaces were attracting rats; it was that the rats that had been there along were suddenly visible.  

Ivy of all sorts can climb, smother, strangle, and kill trees, even though it’s not a parasite. Sometimes it’s like a local version of kudzu. It’s a skin irritant, especially its juices; for some of us it’s a serious allergen. (Me, for example.)  

If you have some, get rid of it before it murders you in your bed. At least cut off the mature parts, where the berries grow, before it gets spread farther in birds’ droppings. Plant some snowberry for the birds instead.  

And if you see yellow dodder, e-mail the addresses above or call the county weed control folks fast! 

 

Photograph courtesy of Freinds of Five Creeks


Arts & Events

Arts Calendar

Friday July 21, 2006

FRIDAY, JULY 21 

THEATER 

Actors Ensemble of Berkeley “Night of the Iguana” Fri. and Sat. at 8 p.m. at Live Oak Theater, 1301 Shattuck Ave. at Berryman, through Aug. 12. Tickets are $12. 649-5999.  

Ambitious Theatre Company “As You Like It” Fri.-Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 2 p.m. at Altarena Playhouse, Alameda. Tickets are $8-$15. 800-838-3006.  

Aurora Theatre “Permanent Collection” Wed.-Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 2 and 7 p.m. at 2081 Addison St., through July 30. Tickets are $28-$45. 843-4822. 

Berkeley Rep “Ennio” A comedy written and performed by Ennio Marchetto, at 2015 Addison St. Tickets are $20-$45. 647-2949. www.berkeleyrep.org 

California Shakespeare Theater “Restoration Comedy” 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 July 30. 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. 

Contra Costa Civic Theater “Footloose” the musical based on the 1984 film at 8 p.m. Fri. and Sat., and Sun. at 2 p.m. at Contra Costa Civic Theater, 951 Pomona Ave., El Cerrito, through August 5. Tickets are $12-$20. 524-9132. www.ccct.org 

Impact Theatre “House of Lucky” Written and performed by Frank Wortham, Thurs.-Sat. at 8 p.m. at La Val’s Subterranean, 1834 Euclid Ave., through Aug. 26. Tickets are $10-$15. 464-4468. 

Masquers Playhouse “The Fantasticks” Fri. and Sat. at 8 p.m. at 105 Park Place, Point Richmond, through July 22. Tickets are $18. 232-4031.  

COMEDY 

Bay Area Comedy Festival with Free Hooch Comedy Troupe at 8 p.m. at The Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby Ave. Cost is $15. 595-5597. 

FILM 

Nicaraguan Film Festival at 7 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $5. 849-2568.  

Friends of African Film “State of Denial” A film on living in South Africa with HIV, at 7:30 p.m. at 464 Van Buren at Euclid, Oakland. www.friendsofafricanfilm.com 

Janet Gaynor: A Centennial Celebration “Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans’” at 7 p.m. and “7th Heaven” at 9 p.m. at the Pacific Film Archive. Cost is $4-$8. 642-0808.  

MUSIC AND DANCE 

Berkeley Opera “The Girl of the Golden West” at 8 p.m. at Julia Morgan Center for the Arts. Tickets are $15-$40, available from 925-798-1300. 

Alameda Civic Light Opera “Jesus Christ Superstar” Fri. and Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 2 p.m. at Kofman Auditorium, 2200 Central Ave., Alameda. Tickets are $27-$31. 864-2256.  

Steve Oda and Anubrata Chatterjee North Indian music at 8 p.m. at the Hillside Club, 2286 Cedar St. Cost is $10-$15. 845-1350. 

Bullet in Your Head, Re Ignition at 9 p.m. at Blakes on Telegraph. Cost is $10. 848-0886. 

Kathy Walkup & her Trio at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island. Cost is $10. 841-JAZZ.  

The Chant Down Band, roots, dub and dancehall reggae, at 9:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $12. 525-5054.  

Pam & Jeri Show at 8 p.m. at Caffe Trieste, 2500 San Pablo Ave., at Dwight. 548-5198.  

Golden Bough, Celtic-American, at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $18.50-$19.50. 548-1761. 

Loosewig: the Ben Fajen Quartet at 9 p.m. at Downtown. 649-3810.  

The Ross Hammond Trio and Regina Pontillo, jazz, at 7:30 p.m. at Nomad Cafe. 595-5344.  

Jerry Hannon, The Jitters, Dao Strom at 9:30 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $5. 841-2082.  

Capitalist Casualties, Skarp, Voetsek at 8 p.m. at 924 Gilman St. Cost is $7. 525-9926. 

Boca do Rio at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 848-8277. 

Her Grace the Dutchess Tom Jonesing at 8:30 p.m. at the Uptown Nightclub, 1928 Telegraph. Cost is $10. 451-8100.  

Bobby Hutcherson, Miguel Zenon, Renee Rosnes, and Rufus Reid at 8 and 10 p.m., through Sun. at Yoshi’s. Cost is $16-$26. 238-9200.  

SATURDAY, JULY 22 

EXHIBITIONS 

“Man’s Best Friend” Opening reception for the artists at 3 p.m. at Montclair Gallery, 1986 Mountain Blvd., Oakland. Your well-socialized canine friend is welcome to attend. 339-4286. 

THEATER 

Everyday Theatre “Dreaming in a Firestorm” by Tim Barsky at 8 p.m. at 2232 MLK, Oakland. Tickets are $12-$20. 644-2204. www.everdaytheatre.org 

Shotgun Players “Ragnarok: The Doom of the Gods” Sat. and Sun. at noon at John Hinkle Park. Free, with pass the hat donation after the show. 841-6500. www.shotgunplayers.org 

Women’s Will “Twelfth Night” at 1 p.m. at Mosswood Park, Oakland. Free. 420-0813.  

COMEDY 

Bay Area Comedy Festival with Kasper Hauser and Ali Wong at 8 p.m. at The Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby Ave. Cost is $15. 595-5597. 

FILM 

Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum “The Train Wrecker,” “Big Moments from Little Pictures” at 7:30 p.m. at 37417 Niles Blvd., Fremont. Cost $5. 494-1411.  

Janet Gaynor: A Centennial Celebration “Sweet Angel” at 6:30 p.m. and “Lucky Star” at 8:50 p.m. at the Pacific Film Archive. Cost is $4-$8. 642-0808.  

READINGS AND LECTURES 

Rhythm & Muse with Juan Sequeira & Maria Chavez at 7 p.m. at Berkeley Art Center, 1275 Walnut St. 644-6893. 

Storytelling Swap, hosted by Kathy Dana, at 7:30 p.m. at the Frank Bette Center, 1601 Paru, Alameda. Free, donations accepted. 523-6957. 

Poems About Alameda, open reading hosted by Mary Rudge, Poet Laureate of Alameda at 2 p.m. at Aroma Restaurant, 2337 Blanding Ave., Alameda. 

MUSIC AND DANCE 

Starlight Circle Players at 8 p.m. at Berkeley Fellowship, 1924 Cedar St. at Bonita. Donation $5-$20. 841-4824. 

Manuel Suarez and Manny y Mano de Orula at 9 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $12-$15. 849-2568.  

Full on Flyhead, The Animal Underground at 8:30 p.m. at the Uptown Nightclub, 1928 Telegraph, Oakland. Cost is $10. 451-8100.  

Tom Rigney & Flambeau at 9 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cajun dance lesson at 8 p.m. Cost is $15. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com  

Stuart Rosh and John Craigie, singer song-writers, at 7:30 p.m. at Nomad Cafe, 6500 Shattuck Ave. 595-5344.  

Austin Lounge Lizards at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $18.50-$19.50. 548-1761. 

Sir Juette, Nasty Breeze at 9 p.m. at Blakes on Telegraph. Cost is $8-$10. 848-0886.  

Danny Lubin-Laden & Brama Sukarma at 8 p.m. at the Jazz- 

school. Cost is $10. 845-5373.  

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

Gaucho at 9:30 p.m. at Albatross, 1822 San Pablo Ave. Cost is $3. 843-2473.  

October Allied, The Jimmys, The 500’s at 9:30 p.m. at The Starry Plough. All ages show. Cost is $5. 841-2082.  

CJ Boyd Sexxxtet at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 848-8277. 

Eskapo, Deathtoll, Worhorse at 8 p.m. at 924 Gilman St. Cost is $6. 525-9926. 

SUNDAY, JULY 23 

EXHIBITIONS 

Berkeley Art Center Annual National Juried Exhibition Opening reception and awards at 2 p.m. at 1275 Walnut St. Exhibition runs to Aug. 26. 644-6893.  

THEATER 

Women’s Will “Twelfth Night” at 1 p.m. at Dimond Park, Oakland. Free. 420-0813.  

FILM 

Janet Gaynor: A Centennial Celebration “Tess of the Storm Country” at 5:30 p.m. at the Pacific Film Archive. Cost is $4-$8. 642-0808.  

READINGS AND LECTURES 

“Edge of Desire: Recent Art in India” Guided tour at 2 p.m. at Berkeley Art Museum, 2626 Bancroft Way. Cost is $4-$8. 642-0808. 

UC Extension Student Reading at 4 p.m. at Cody’s Books on Fourth St. 559-9500. 

MUSIC AND DANCE 

Berkeley Opera “The Girl of the Golden West” at 2 p.m. at Julia Morgan Center for the Arts. Tickets are $15-$40, available from 925-798-1300.  

Midsummer Mozart Festival Program 1, at 7 p.m. at First Congregational Church, 2345 Channing Way at Dana. Tickets are $30-$60. 415-627-9145.  

“Pins and Needles” a concert version of the 1937 musical, with Laborfest and Opera Non Troppo at 7:30 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. 849-2568.  

“In Celebration of Swimming” with Agua String Quartet and others at 7 p.m. at Live Oak Park Community Center, 1301 Shattuck St, near Eunice. Donation $10, benefits city pool passes for homeless youth. 548-9050. 

Starlight Circle Players at 4 p.m. at Berkeley Fellowship, 1924 Cedar St. at Bonita. Donation $5-$20. 841-4824. 

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

Tango Number 9 at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $10. 841-JAZZ.  

Americana Unplugged: Dark Hollow Band at 5 p.m. at Jupiter. 655-5715. 

Wailing Junk Symphony for the Most High, Brazilian-West African Gospel Junk-Jazz at 4 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $12, $8 for teens and musicians with proof of instrument. 525-5054.  

MONDAY, JULY 24 

CHILDREN 

Yolanda Rhodes, multicultural tales with music and movement at 7 p.m. at the Temescal Branch of the Oakland Public Library, 5205 Telegraph Ave. 597-5049. 

Rafa Cano, Spanish sing-along for children, at 10:30 a.m. at PriPri Cafe, 1309 Solano Ave., Albany. Free. 528-7002. 

THEATER 

Everyday Theatre “Dreaming in a Firestorm” by Tim Barsky at 8 p.m. at Oakland Metro, 201 Broadway at 2nd St. Tickets are $12-$20. 644-2204.  

EXHIBITIONS 

 

“Black and White Editorial Portraits” by Phyllis Christopher. Artist reception at 6:30 p.m. at Berkeley Public Library, Central Catalog Lobby, 2090 Kittredge St. Exhibition runs through Aug. 27. 981-6241. 

“Creation Ground,” paintings by Diane Williams and Chuck Potter, sculpture by Ari Lyckberg. Reception at 3 p.m. at the Community Art Gallery, Alta Bates Summit Medical Center, 2450 Ashby Ave. 204-1667.  

READINGS AND LECTURES 

Michael Spiro introduces his new book “The Conga Drummer’s Guidebook” at 7:30 p.m. at La Peña. Cost is $10. Demonstration at 4 p.m. 849-2568.  

Scott Nadelson reads from his collection of stories “The Cantor’s Daughter” at 7:30 p.m. at Black Oak Books. 486-0698.  

Richard Hooper on “The Crucifixion of Mary Magdalene – The Historical Tradition of the First Apostle, and the Ancient Church’s Campaign to Suppress It” at 7 p.m. at Barnes & Noble, 2352 Shattuck Ave. 644-3635. 

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

MUSIC AND DANCE 

Blue Monday Jam at 7:30 p.m. at the Uptown Nightclub, 1928 Telegraph, Oakland. Cost is $5. 451-8100.  

Musica ha Disconnesso, acoustic Italian music, at 7 p.m. at Caffe Trieste, 2500 San Pablo Ave., at Dwight. 548-5198.  

Bill Bell and the Jazz Connection at 8 and 10 p.m. at Yoshi’s. Cost is $10. 238-9200.  

TUESDAY, JULY 25 

EXHIBITIONS 

“Paul Robeson: The Tallest Tree in Our Forest” Tues.-Sat., noon to 5:30 p.m. at The African-American Museum, 659 14th St., Oakland. Exhibition runs to Aug. 26. 637-0199. 

FILM 

Screenagers: Documents from the Teenage Years “Our Song” at 7:30 p.m. at the Pacific Film Archive. Cost is $4-$8. 642-0808. www.bampfa.berkeley.edu 

READINGS AND LECTURES 

The Story Quilters with tandem storytellers Cynthia Restivo and B.Z. Smith at 7 p.m. at the Albany Library, at 1247 Marin Ave., Albany. 526-3720, ext. 17. 

Shelly Jackson reads from her novel of conjoined twins “Half Life” at 7 p.m. at Cody’s Books on Fourth St. 559-9500. 

Charles Burack will discuss D. H. Lawrence’s Language of Sacred experience: The Transfiguration of the Reader at 7:30 p.m. at Black Oak Books. 486-0698. www.blackoakbooks.com 

MUSIC AND DANCE 

Creole Belles with Andrew Carriere at 8:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cajun dance lesson at 8 p.m. Cost is $9. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

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

Jazz Jam with Michael Coleman Trio at 8:30 p.m. at the Uptown Nightclub, 1928 Telegraph, Oakland. Free, bring your instrument. 451-8100. www.uptownnightclub.com 

Randy Craig Trio at 7:30 p.m. at Caffe Trieste, 2500 San Pablo Ave., at Dwight. 548-5198.  

Los Mocosos at 8 and 10 p.m. at Yoshi’s at Jack London Square. Cost is $10-$14. 238-9200. www.yoshis.com 

Jazzschool Tuesdays, a weekly showcase of up-and-coming ensembles from Berkeley Jazz- 

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

WEDNESDAY, JULY 26 

FILM 

Donde acaban los caminos at 7 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $6. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

International Working Class Film & Video Festival at 7 p.m. at Fellowship of Humanity Hall, 370 27th St. near Broadway, Oakland. Cost is $5. 

READINGS AND LECTURES 

Starling Lawrence introduces “The Lightning Keeper” at 7:30 p.m. at Mrs. Dalloway’s Literary and Garden Arts, 2904 College Ave. www.mrsdalloways.com 

“Writing Teachers Write” student/teacher readings at 5 p.m. at Nomad Cafe, 6500 Shattuck Ave. 595-5344. www.nomadcafe.net 

David Skibbens will read from his tarot mystery “High Priestess” at 7:30 p.m. at Black Oak Books. 486-0698. www.blackoakbooks.com 

Berkeley Poetry Slam with host Charles Ellik and Three Blind Mice, at 8:30 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $5-$7. 841-2082 www.starryploughpub.com 

MUSIC AND DANCE 

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

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

Jules Broussard, west coast swing, at 8:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Dance lesson at 8 p.m. Cost is $9. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

Emote Jargin, Wordsmith, Aral at 9 p.m. at Blakes on Telegraph. Cost is $8. 848-0886. www.blakesontelegraph.com 

Deep Hello at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 848-8277. 

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

Orquestra America, salsa, at 9:30 p.m. at Shattuck Down Low, 2284 Shattuck Ave. Salsa dance lessons at 8 p.m. Cost is $5-$10. 548-1159.  

Edgardo & Candela, salsa dance celebration at 8 and 10 p.m. at Yoshi’s at Jack London Square. Cost is $10-$14. 238-9200. www.yoshis.com 

THURSDAY, JULY 27 

FILM 

Beyond Bollywood “Throne of Death” at 7:30 p.m. at the Pacific Film Archive. Cost is $4-$8. 642-0808. www.bampfa.berkeley.edu 

READINGS AND LECTURES 

“Edge of Desire: Recent Art in India” Guided tour at 12:15 p.m. at Berkeley Art Museum, 2626 Bancroft Way. Cost is $4-$8. 642-0808. 

Kristin Luker on “When Sex Goes to School” at 7:30 p.m. at Mrs. Dalloway’s Literary and Garden Arts, 2904 College Ave. www.mrsdalloways.com 

Ry Beville, translator, discusses Japanese poet Nakahara Chûya at 7:30 p.m. at Pegasus Books Downtown, 2349 Shattuck Ave. 649-1320. 

Chris Ballard describes “The Butterfly Hunter: Adventures of People Who Found Their True Calling Way Off the Beaten Path” at 7 p.m. at Cody’s Books on Fourth St. 559-9500. 

Justine Shapiro, filmmaker, will discuss her film “Promises” and her Globe Trekker television series, at 7:30 p.m. at Black Oak Books. 486-0698. www.blackoakbooks.com 

MUSIC AND DANCE 

Summer Noon Concert with Patricio Angulo Latin Trio at the Downtown Berkeley BART station. Free. www.downtownberkeley.org 

Bill Tapia, ‘ukulele jazz improvisation, at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $20.50-$21.50. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 

Las Muchachas at 7 p.m. at Caffe Trieste, 2500 San Pablo Ave., at Dwight. 548-5198.  

Earthquake Weather, Leopold and his Fiction at 9:30 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $5. 841-2082. www.starryploughpub.com 

Los Pinguos at 8 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $8-$10. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

Pheeze Phee, Poach Stevens, Usual Suspects at 10 p.m. at The Ivy Room, 858 San Pablo Ave. Cost is $7. 524-9220. www.ivyroom.com 

Kenny Burrell, 75th Birthday celebration at 8 and 10 p.m. at Yoshi’s at Jack London Square, through Sun. Cost is $26-$30. 238-9200. www.yoshis.com 

Selector: Subnautic at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 848-8277. 

 

 


Moving Pictures: Tributes to Gaynor, Borzage at PFA

By Justin DeFreitas
Friday July 21, 2006

Two retrospectives starting today (Friday) at Pacific Film Archive will illuminate the work of actress Janet Gaynor and director Frank Borzage, both sterling talents in their day but unjustly overlooked in ours.  

Janet Gaynor worked as an usherette at San Francisco’s Castro Theater soon after it opened in 1922 before heading to Hollywood to work as an extra. Within a few years she not only found her way into starring roles but established herself as one of the industry’s top talents, appearing in some of the era’s best movies and along the way earning herself the Best Actress Oscar at the first Academy Awards in 1929. 

“Janet Gaynor: A Centennial Celebration,” running through Aug. 13, is actually a touring exhibition put together by the Louis B. Mayer Foundation and the UCLA Film and Television Archive. It features her first supporting roles and the three starring performances that earned her the Academy Award, as well as a selection of her sound-era work, including 1937’s A Star is Born. 

Gaynor’s signature role was something of a waif, a wide-eyed innocent, fragile but with great moral strength. In a sense, she was like the second coming of “America’s Sweetheart,” Mary Pickford, both of whom were beloved by audiences for their down-to-earth style and pixie-like charm. Gaynor managed to take seemingly limited roles and imbue them with an expressiveness that demonstrated virtue and nobility as well as a delicate vulnerability.  

Her most celebrated role is in Sunrise, the first American film by German director F.W. Murnau. Murnau had made a name for himself as one of Germany’s top directors with films as disparate as the horror masterpiece Nosferatu, the Expressionist classic The Last Laugh, and a cinematic retelling of Faust. In America, his varied interests would lead him to further expand his repertoire, directing “women’s pictures” and even documentaries. It is precisely this wide-ranging virtuosity that has caused him to be overlooked by history, as there are few consistent threads running throughout his career to cement his identity in the public consciousness.  

With Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans, Murnau brought Germanic technique and a palpable European sensibility to American commercial filmmaking. The film is celebrated for its roaming camerawork, its evocative set design, its emotional range and fable-like qualities. It is considered one of the finest films of the silent era, and Gaynor’s performance is one its greatest virtues. 

The movie concerns a young country couple whose happy home is threatened when the husband is tempted by a footloose city flapper. Murnau sets up dichotomies that are almost allegorical: between city and country, love and lust, virtue and temptation. It is melodrama raised to the level of poetry, a fable of love, devotion and redemption. 

Some of the performances may seem a bit dramatic to modern eyes, but that is part of the scheme: We’re not simply looking at a couple, we are looking at “two humans,” at archetypes, at people who serve more as symbols that as characters.  

Gaynor’s performance, however, is subtle and at times profound. Her graceful, demure character undergoes dramatic changes, from loving and devoted to wounded and disillusioned, to frightened, endangered and mistrustful to redemptive, forgiving and strong. Her supple face and soulful eyes somehow manage to convey a range of thoughts and emotions that pages of dialogue could only suggest.  

Gaynor easily made the transition to talkies, her voice matching the public perception of her character, and her career remained steady through the mid-’30s, a span that included a series of 12 films with co-star Charles Farrell, including Street Angel (1928), Lucky Star (1929), Delicious (1931), and a remake of Pickford’s Tess of the Storm Country (1932). 

 

Tonight’s screening of Gaynor’s first pairing with Farrell, Seventh Heaven, marks an overlap with another PFA series looking back at the career of director Frank Borzage. 

Borzage captured, perhaps better than any other director, the euphoria of romance. His films may at times seem too sentimental, but they are remarkably effective, using the simplest of themes, strategically repeated, to make the heart skip a beat. With a skillful blend of light humor and sincere emotions, Borzage’s films manage to be quite stirring.  

PFA will present “Frank Borzage’s Philosophy of Desire,” a selection of films spanning both the silent and sound eras, through Aug. 23. 

The strengths of Borzage’s work are readily evident in Seventh Heaven: His street scenes are evocative; his interiors are convincing, self-contained worlds unto themselves; his simple themes are threaded throughout each scene; and his actors know their characters well and hit all the right notes. Some of the film’s most notable moments are the shots of the couple walking up the stairs, a scene that is hardly subtle (seven flights to heaven) but certainly charming as the waif timidly follows her benefactor; the humble abode itself, small but warm and inviting, a cozy ramshackle studio beneath the stars, the rent for which would keep a Berkeley landlord in the chips for years to come; and the joy that lights up Gaynor’s face when Farrell finally allows her to stay. Borzage is a master of tone, never losing his grip on the atmospheric and emotional details. 

The film may be a bit long, considering its slight and somewhat predictable plot line, but it punches through its mundane source material with strong moments of poignancy and drama. Its fault lies with the fact that Borzage is not content to simply leave those moments alone. Genuine moments that would best be played simply and unfettered are instead restated, emphasized so emphatically that too often the moment is robbed of its emotional power.  

If you intend to see the film and don’t want its conclusion revealed, read no further, for many of Borzage’s virtues and vices are perfectly embodied in the film’s final scenes, and they cannot be discussed without giving too much away. 

One of the loveliest but flawed moments in Seventh Heaven provides a perfect example of all that is right and wrong with Borzage’s technique. After Charles Farrell makes his way through the throngs of celebrants in the streets and climbs the seven flights of stairs, he bursts through the door and calls out the name of his beloved. She stands just a few feet away, across the room, and we see his hands reach for her. At that point, Borzage cuts to a shot from behind Gaynor, and we look over her shoulder as she runs to embrace Farrell. In an example of masterful direction, we see that as Gaynor runs to him, Farrell’s eyes do not follow but stay fixed just above the camera, and the realization dawns on us that he has lost his sight. This is superb filmmaking, with details revealed artfully through blocking, direction and editing. 

They can’t leave it there, however. The characters then take a few seconds to restate the obvious, drumming it into us with redundant intertitles when a simple reaction closeup of Gaynor’s beautifully expressive face could have done the job much more effectively.  

But these are minor quibbles. Borzage worked in a time when such displays of emotion were more acceptable and when subtlety was not often rewarded in commercial moviemaking. His characters were wholesome and pure, with their hearts on their sleeves, overcoming tragedy by the transformative power of love.  

The coming of World War II would puncture a hole in that world view, as a new sense of irony and detachment would brand Frank Borzage’s work as nostalgic, sentimental and out of date. And, as with Janet Gaynor, the simplicity and directness of his work would lead to decades of neglect and a lack of appreciation.  

 

JANET GAYnOR: A CENTENNIAL CELEBRATION 

July 21-Aug. 13. 

 

FRANK BORZAGE’s philosophy 

of desire 

July 21-Aug. 23. 

 

2575 Pacific Film Archive, Bancroft Ave. Visit www.bampfa.edu for a complete schedule of screening or see the Planet's Arts Calendar for daily showtimes..


Moving Pictures: When Soccer Almost Conquered America

By Justin DeFreitas
Friday July 21, 2006

If you’re a soccer fan still looking for a way to get the poisonous image of Zinedine Zidane’s head-butt out of your mind, the solution may have arrived in the form of a new documentary. Once in a Lifetime: The Extraordinary Story of the New York Cosmos tells the story of soccer’s arrival in the United States in the late 1970s, when media mogul Steve Ross set out to make the “the beautiful game” a national phenomenon. 

The film opens today at the Lumiere Theater in San Francisco. It’s as yet unclear whether it will come to the East Bay, so the Lumiere engagement may be the only chance to see it before it goes to DVD. 

In the mid 1970s, Ross and a few partners created the North American Soccer League. At the time, soccer was a virtually unknown sport in America, and there wasn’t a single player of professional caliber in the country. 

They knew they’d need a successful franchise in New York in order to get the league off the ground, and to make that franchise successful they would need to attract a marquee name.  

As fate would have it, the greatest player to ever play the game, the Brazillian legend Pelé—winner of a record three World Cup championships—had just announced his retirement from Santos, the Brazillian league team where he had spent his entire career. After tense negotiations, they managed to lure Pelé to the New York Cosmos, telling him that if he chose to play for a European team all he could win was another championship, whereas if he played for the Cosmos he could win an entire country.  

Pelé took the offer and began a second career, which continues to this day, as the game’s greatest ambassador, using his charm, charisma and unparalleled skills to spread the gospel of football.  

What ensued was a circus of soccer, media relations and mayhem that consumed the city of New York and took the world of American sports by storm for several years. The documentary features interviews will the major players in this drama (with the notable exception of Pelé himself), and while some—the less talented American players, at least—are humble and good-natured and still thrilled to have been a part of history and to have shared the field with the great Pelé, it would seem that several others have managed to transfer their competitive energies from the playing field to the pages of history as each tries to put his own particular stamp on the story of the Cosmos.  

This is not a calm, dignified documentary of talking heads respectfully and calmly stating the facts; these are men with axes to grind, and it makes for compelling viewing.  

The story that emerges is one of great drama, great humor, and great potential gone unmet. For the Cosmos, and the North American Soccer League along with it, eventually imploded. The last straw was Ross’ unsuccessful bid to bring the 1986 World Cup to America. When FIFA, soccer’s governing body, instead awarded the tournament to Mexico, NASL and Cosmos executives felt it was a death knell for the game in America, a missed opportunity for FIFA to open up the game’s only remaining unconquered market.  

In the wake of FIFA’s decision, the NASL folded and the tremendous inroads made by Pelé, Franz Beckenbauer, Giorgio Chinaglia and the rest of the New York Cosmos vanished in the dust.  

Just a few years later the United States would qualify for the World Cup for the first time in 40 years, making a respectable showing at the 1990 tournament in Italy. And in 1994, the World Cup finally made it to America, paving the way for the founding of a new league, Major League Soccer. But the momentum had been lost; soccer is still touted in America more for its potential rather than its achievements. It’s an ongoing battle, a struggle to instill within a largely indifferent public the excitement and drama that swelled to a crescendo for a brief, glorious moment in the summer of 1977. 

 

 

Once in a Lifetime:  

The Extraordinary Story of the New York Cosmos 

Directed by Paul Crowder and John Dower. Featuring Pelé, Franz Beckenbauer, Giorgio Chinaglia, Henry Kissinger, Mia Hamm. Narrated by Matt Dillon. 

Starts today at the Lumiere Theater, 1572 California St. at Polk Street, San Francisco.  

(415) 267-4893.


The Theater: ‘Human Paper Doll’ a Real Cut-Up at the Berkeley Rep

By Ken Bullock, Special to the Planet
Friday July 21, 2006

The metamorphoses of Madonna, or Elton John changing fashions and overburdening specs ... Judy Garland as Dorothy, belting out “Over The Rainbow” while absent-mindedly petting a pinwheel-headed Toto ... and just how does a paraplegic Venus De Milo line-dance to Zorba The Greek ? 

Ennio Marchetti doesn’t pose any questions—and he’s running too fast onstage even to pose, most of the time—in his eponymous one-man extravaganza of lip-sync and quick-change, Ennio, at Berkeley Rep’s Roda Stage. 

Like riffling through a dealer’s pack, all face-cards, Ennio materializes 50 figures out of pop culture’s photo-ops with breakneck speed, each accoutered in front-panelled regalia, each as thin as a playing card. In record time, he’s staged a sideshow anthology of an all-star Vegas gala, a witty resumé of music video-bites, and left his audience gasping for the breath to keep laughing. 

Ennio’s rubberfaced silliness keeps them laughing through a nonstop 90-minute show, here on a limited run, ending this Sunday. A Venetian who went from espresso mechanic to Carnival costumer, he debuted his two-dimensional tour-de-force at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, playing Morrissey’s Meltdown Fest and scoring a command performance for the Queen of England—as well as the moniker, “the human paper-doll.” 

Ennio’s costumes and masks are billed as origami but are different in texture (and technique) from the Japanese original. Folded, painted paper, they’re more like sandwich boards or mobile stand-up cut-outs—paper-dolls indeed. And Ennio himself is the animator, sprinting and hoofing it through a spectrum of changes as he litters the breadth and depth of the Roda with his spent fashion plate costumery, while he continually morphs into yet another icon or diva.  

The sound system never stops, either, pumping out high-powered heads of the hits of the past half century. The audience becomes clap-happy with recognition as Ennio tears through the pages of Variety, morphing from Frankenstein to Frank (Sinatra) to daughter Nancy, whose boots are made for walkin’ pretty much like the stiff-legged strut of Boris Karloff, though garnished with Big Hair. 

An Indian dancer goes Nashville, then Motown ... Diana Ross is somehow reincarnated as Shiva in a shower of testifying paper arms ... Cleopatra charms her asp with an alto sax. 

And there are one-man duets: Ella folding up from Louis Armstrong’s shoulders in a kind of leapfrog cover that brings Louis to his knees—or Dolly Parton laboring uphill to her “Tennessee Mountain Home” astride her mule—or a pop-up trio, as the tuneful heads of the missing two Three Tenors spring out from the girth of Pavarotti’s gargantuan lapels. 

But Ennio’s at his best with the Divas, whether pop, country or opera, or from the silver screen, as a highlight proves to be his entrance in a big, sleeveless suit. Turning down the sound on his Walkman, pulling an invisible cord for “lights out,” he’s suddenly under the covers, unfolding from his suit like a wash-and-wear Murphy bed, which then morphs into Marilyn’s famous dress (and breasts) from The Seven-Year Itch, as Ennio lip-synchs “I Want to Be Loved by You,” momentarily exiting in a shower of paper valentines, then back in the spotlight as Mona Lisa in a rocking, revolving frame, grimacing in lieu of the famous smile to “She’s Got It.” 

It’s fast, funny, and paper-thin, though unstoppable, even when the record skips, the CD becoming an echo-chamber. There are a few flashes of silly-putty sculptural expression reminiscent of Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca sending up the pretty faces of the entertainment world.  

But Ennio’s created a small niche all of his own with professional cleverness. If nothing else, he’s created one of the few drag acts for family consumption. 

 

Ennio 

Through Sunday at the Berkeley Rep, 2015 Addison St. $20-$45. For more information, call 647-2949 or see www.berkeleyrep.org. 

 

Photograph Courtesy of Berkeley Repertory Theatre 

Ennio Marchetto creates 50 characters such as Marilyn Monroe, using only paper and music.


Calatrava’s Sundial Bridge Puts Redding on the Map

By Dorothy Bryant, Special to the Planet
Friday July 21, 2006

 

On Dec. 15, 2005 the New York Review of Books ran a long article on Spanish architect and engineer Santiago Calatrava, written by architecture critic Martin Filler in the great tradition of NYR sneers. 

Almost no put-down was omitted: “overelaborate designs,” “obfuscate,” “theatrical aesthetic,” “a naivete similar to Disneyland.” There are references to a crafty “game plan” that involved hiring “a New York public relations firm,” which got Calatrava the commission to design the new Transportation Hub for the World Trade Center at Ground Zero. 

More dismissive adjectives include “kitsch,” “shallow symbolism,” and “underlying sentimentality,” which explains why (sniff) his “appeal to a popular audience makes perfect sense.” Some of Calatrava’s bridges and buildings are listed, like the Milwaukee Art Museum, as evidence of his “avian obsession” as well as his use of moving parts that sometimes malfunction. 

However, spread across the page above the article, as if mocking Filler’s judgment, is a breathtaking (to this ignorant member of the “popular audience”) aerial photograph of Calatrava’s pedestrian bridge, spanning the Sacramento River in Redding. 

Redding? Did I read that caption right? Redding? 

Bob and I are 70-plus Northern California natives, who have seen all the changes: orchards and rolling hills buried by freeways, housing tracts and shopping malls. Bummer. But we don’t romanticize what the freeways replaced—highways with occasional two or three-block stretches of a ramshackle “main street” of an undistinguished and indistinguishable “town” you had to drive through on your way to the natural beauties of the coast or the mountains. 

In between, the great agricultural valleys lay—in hellish heat or in bone-chilling-blinding winter tule fog. The bread basket of the world combined the virtual slave labor of Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath with the wasteland of his story “Chrysanthemums,” a portrait of a woman’s parched soul withering like her dying flowers. The current and spreading infection of shopping malls and housing tracts (where the more fortunate residents huddle throughout the summer, prisoners of their air conditioners) seemed consistent with the historic nature of the valley.  

But now, according to this condescending NYR article, there is, for better or for worse, something to see there. So in May (my cut-off point for entering that three-digit Fahrenheit hell) we drove four hours into the valley to Redding. 

If you go on the net, you’ll learn that the 700-foot walking bridge was conceived in 1995, largely financed and developed by the McConnell Foundation (which a friend called the brainchild of rich retirees who own property in Redding), that it cost $23 million, and involved various land swaps and buy-outs to create a 300-acre park preserve on the shores at either end of the bridge. 

Then there were complicated negotiations for federally mandated preservation of salmon spawning grounds—no pilings could be driven into the river bed. These preparations ate up half the costs before ground was broken in 1999. The bridge was completed in 2004. 

A Calatrava trademark is the soaring white wing (or sail?) at one end covered with a million broken pieces of Spanish tile, from which steel cables radiate like harp strings down to the bridge (whether decorative or structural or both, I don’t know). In the case of the Redding Bridge, the shadow cast by the wing actually indicates the time of day, hence the title Sundial Bridge.  

From the parking lot we could see the gleaming white wing piercing the sky; we used it as a guide post as we walked wide, wheel-chair accessible paths toward the bridge (other paths go off to hiking trails). The botanical gardens on either shore were not open to guided tours when we got there but we were able to wander around and see plantings and plans for developing the parkland preserve. 

We walked the short bridge span on a tread made of thick glass. (We didn’t stay to see it at night when powerful lights under the glass light up the whole span.) People walked, bicycled, pushed baby strollers, stopped to look down at the water or across at the forested land, or up at the hills and mountains beyond. Nothing to do on this bridge but hug your lover and look over the side and watch the water stream by, or chase your kids, or, perhaps meet your neighbor and talk? I wondered if, in this state where everyone is always on the move in a car, this short bridge—where we were all moving but slower—had, by design or by accident, become a new kind of town square. 

On July 7, the New York Times travel section Escapes devoted a page to “Redding, California,” verifying that the bridge had made the formerly “just another Podunk” town a tourist destination. It maps the town and surroundings, lists restaurants (pricey but definitely not serving the Velveeta-soaked chops typical of the old valley truck stops) that have appeared, and names some reasonably priced and comfortable hotels like the one we stayed in before driving on to Lassen Volcanic Park and the Lake Shasta Caverns.  

I confess that I take a certain old-Californian proprietary pride in the Redding Bridge. I don’t see its sharp, gleaming lines as a “Disneyland” violation of nature but as a contrasting, humanly-crafted homage to that landscape. We could do—and have done—worse. All my life I have longed for architecture that at least aspired to being worthy of the natural beauty of California. (How many times can you walk across the Golden Gate Bridge?)  

I’m told that the idea of the Redding Bridge inspired the green-tinted foot-bridge arching over the freeway just south of University Avenue. All right! What’s next?  

Oh, and I don’t have to tell you to save your trip to Redding for late September or early October. Japanese tourists show up even in Death Valley in August (no kidding!), but we know better.


Choosing Not to Play the Updating Game

By Jane Powell
Friday July 21, 2006

 

We have all watched Antiques Roadshow, thus we have learned that an antique which still has the original finish, parts, and such, in good condition, is far more valuable than a piece which has been refinished, modified to hold a television, or has modern replacement hardware. 

Yet few people seem to be able to apply this principal to antique houses. Instead, urged on by advertising, shelter magazines, television, architects, contractors, and decorators, most people happily rip out the historic features of their antique house in order to replace them, often at considerable cost, with whatever the latest decorating trend happens to be, all in the cause of being fashionable, or modern, or “expressing oneself.” 

Even energy-efficiency is used as an excuse these days, mostly to rip out perfectly good wooden windows made from old-growth timber and replace them with double-glazed windows made of second growth timber, or worse, vinyl, neither of which will last as long as the original windows have already lasted. So great, now your house is “up-dated,” but it’s still not “brand-new.”  

Instead, as though you’d attached a plastic handle to a Ming vase to make it “modern,” you have not achieved the Philippe Starck-designed modernity you wanted, you have merely destroyed an antique. Worse, how “modern” do you think your current “state-of-the-art” kitchen is going to look in 20 years? 

You might want to ask someone with a “state-of-the-art” kitchen from the 1970s—I’m sure the avocado green appliances and the fake brick vinyl floor were absolutely the latest thing back then—the equivalent of today’s concrete countertops and stainless steel. 

When I was looking for my first house, back in the late 1980s, I came to dread the phrase “updated kitchen,” because that always meant “we ripped out the original vertical grain fir cabinets and replaced them with the cheapest thing we could find” (at that time it was usually particle board cabinets with almond Formica and oak trim). 

Now I am not saying there aren’t some things in an old house that could use updating. Replacing the 30 amp electrical service that only has four circuits might be a good idea. Doing a seismic retrofit would probably be wise. Roof coverings don’t last forever either, and possibly a new furnace may be in order. It’s conceivable the hardwood floors might need to be refinished. 

All of these things (and more) can be done without destroying the historic integrity of the house. Nor do you have to give up functional aspects of 21st century life- it is entirely possible to have a dishwasher, an energy-efficient refrigerator, the Internet, and a place to charge your iPod, without the cognitive dissonance of having rooms from different centuries. 

Nor am I saying you can’t express yourself. But you don’t have to express yourself on the fabric of the house. No one is stopping you from having whatever furniture, art, rugs, sheets, towels, china, silverware, etc. your heart desires. If you love iridescent granite, you can have it as a tabletop or a desk- you don’t have to cover the fireplace with it. 

I do want to scream every time I see or hear the statement, usually uttered by designers, “We wanted to combine the old with the new” or “vintage with contemporary”—they have many ways of putting it, and many ways of doing it. What that gets you, friends, is a mimosa- a drink which ruins perfectly good orange juice and perfectly good champagne! And in a house, what it gets you mostly is a house which is neither here nor there, fish nor fowl.  

And since “green” is now the thing to be, truly, there is nothing greener than leaving your house as it is- maintaining it and caring for it so its life and the embodied energy it represents can continue. Remodeling uses up new resources, even if those resources are green, and usually involves sending a lot of debris to the landfill, much of it irreplaceable old-growth timber. (And before you argue you’re going to recycle a lot of it, think about this—even the lath in lath-and-plaster is old-growth timber, and no one reuses lath, not even me, and I’m pretty obsessive.) 

Let your house be what it is. Fix things that are damaged, upgrade the functional aspects carefully, and try not to do anything a subsequent owner might curse you for, as you may be cursing something done by an owner before you. Resist the siren song of “modernization.” An old house with “original charm intact” is almost always worth more than one which is “updated.” 

 

Jane Powell (janepowell@sbcglobal.net) is the author of six books about bungalows, including the just-released Bungalow Details: Interior.


Imagining a Berkeley Under Water

By Matt Cantor
Friday July 21, 2006

Matt, We need to reinforce the cripple walls in our 1906 one-story house. But we live in the Berkeley flats and we are worried about potential flooding. We are not that far above sea level and we don’t think that global warming is a fairy tale. 

We don’t want to have to tear out all of this plywood bracing with crowbars after it gets wet. We would prefer to screw on the wood panels so that they are more easily removable. Backer On brand screws for wonderboard installation are nice and thick and coated against moisture which is nice, but I think the longest they make are 1 5/8". Are there any screws which are rated for this use? Or is there a system that uses metal somehow? 

Alan Bretz 

 

 

Dear Alan, 

What a fascinating letter. I’m not quite sure where to begin. Since you’ve presented a number of eye-opening items, I’d like to see if I can take them, more or less, one at a time.  

This marks the first letter I’ve received which has specifically asked me to address the needs of a house that may soon be under water due to global warming. Strangely, this is something I’ve actually discussed with some of my clients in the last few years as I’m also one who considers this a very plausible concern. 

Nonetheless, if you’re in Berkeley, it’s not very likely that you’re going to be subject to these issues as the elevation in most of the city is well above 20’ and that’s the projected rise if a number of fairly serious events occur over the next 10-20 years. Therefore, unless you’re in the estuary or the very lowest parts of Berkeley/Albany, I wouldn’t devote too much energy to how this will affect your seismic bracing. 

If you’re actually down very close to sea level, you may want to think about what you’re going to do with your property if water starts lapping at your foundation. If this actually occurs, there are a lot of consequences that you might want to take into account including how your sewer is going to perform when it’s flooded. Your electrical panel might pose something of a threat if you have to stand in water to reset a breaker. 

You might be faced with some fairly serious settlement if your house is sitting in water and the effects of an earthquake on a house that’s sitting in mud are likely to be quite a bit worse than one that’s sitting on dry land. 

Alameda is another matter entirely since much of that fair city is less than 20’ above sea-level, meaning that Alameda might become the Venice of the Bay if the south pole loses a large amount of ice which is hanging on by Al Gore’s fingernails.  

Now, there might be an upside to all this water if you look at it the right way. The ferry from S.F could drop you off at Spenger’s. You could stay at home and fish. The Cal Water Polo Team will be able to stage exhibition games in your basement. 

But this is probably a very serious concern and were it to actualize. I’d say that your house will no longer be your house. It will be devalued to a degree where it will probably not be a house for anyone anymore. For the time being, I’d eat more chocolate and watch funnier movies. Oh, and reduce your carbon emissions. 

As for planning shear-wall sheathing around rising sea-level, I just wouldn’t go there. I’d say that earthquakes are a more tangible eventuality and that you should plan for them without any serious thought toward removal. 

If sea-level actually rises to where you live, your whole house is going to be so seriously affected that removal of the shear-wall sheathing probably isn’t going to make it into the day planner for next Tuesday. So just go ahead and do your shear-wall sheathing, bolting and other hardware connections so that you can survive an earthquake. 

By the way, if you are actually quite close to the bay, you might just be in a liquefaction zone. It’s a good idea to find out because the shaking forces are much greater in these places and it’s good to plan for this. Houses are more likely to experience serious damage when they’re in liquefaction zones because the earth moves more in these places and also because the earth can rapidly subside. 

Now, for the last part of your question; shear-wall sheathing, which is typically assembled using plywood panels and nailed to the framing of the house with a large number of nails is best installed without the use of any sort of screw. 

There is apparently one screw which has very recently come on the market and that can be used for shear-walling but, as a rule, screws are a very poor choice because they tend to be quite brittle, while nails have great ductility and can bend many times before they break. The screws you are describing for use on concrete tile-backer board are not going to pass muster. They might be moisture resistant but they don’t have the shear value that’s called for.  

Therefore, I would suggest that you abandon your plan for temporary or removable shear-walling. I see too much shear-walling that is so poorly done that I’m worried it won’t do the job when the great moment arrives. So any attempt to short-change the process by making the work removable is just not on the table for me. 

In short, here are my suggestions: Retrofit your house, hire the Dutch to put sea doors just outside the Golden Gate, don’t ask the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to build levees (or anything) in the Berkeley Marina, stop watching An Inconvenient Truth (once for you was quite enough—but get all your friends to see it) and start collecting two of every animal. When you’re ready, call me, I’ve got cats, raccoons, squirrels, skunks and at least two deer. 

Stay in touch, 

Matt 


Think Twice Before You Reach for the Bug Spray

By Ron Sullivan
Friday July 21, 2006

It’s midsummer, more or less, and the other inhabitants of the garden are showing up in numbers. Aphids and whiteflies and thrips, oh my! The first flush in spring gave rise to another generation or two, multiplying all the way, and most of the birds have about finished raising their first and maybe second broods for the year, so fewer insects are being turned into babyfood.  

But it’s not time to panic and start throwing insecticides around. Some of our most charming predators are emerging into visibility, and killing everything that nibbles on the plants will kill them, too. 

Now, if you have an infestation and you grab the spray and start shooting indiscriminately, you’ll kill off most—only most —of what’s bugging you, plus anything else that’s in range, including the things that are eating the pests. 

That’s elementary. You’ll also be killing the decorative insects like butterflies, by way of collateral damage. I’m including “safe” sprays, too—the average insecticide is not particular, even if it’s safer for the likes of us mammals. 

The catch is that, like predators on any scale, the useful insectivorous critters don’t multiply as fast or as prolifically as the vegetarian pests that are chewing or sucking the vigor out of the garden. 

At worst, the bugkillers will have become concentrated as each predatory bird or arthropod or even mammal eats many individual insects. By the time they’ve recovered from poisoning or just from short rations, the herbivores have had two or three litters and those litters have littered.  

Anyone at the base of the food web (to mash a metaphor) is likely to be a determined breeder. Some aphids, for a pertinent example, breed asexually over the summer and don’t bother with complications like mating until they’re ready to shut down their whole enterprise for the winter. 

That’s right, folks, little girl-aphid clones are what’s overrunning your beans and posies. Everything Lucas does in Star Wars got thought up and done already by that original trickster, Nature. (If you really want to scare yourself and gross yourself out too, read Carl Zimmer’s excellent Parasite Rex.) 

With such a big prey base, the ladybugs and mantids and spiders will breed more prolifically too. It takes a little time, but insect and arachnid generations are a whole lot faster than ours. 

If you’re willing to accept some holes and puckers in your leaves now, you’ll spare yourself lots of work later and you’ll spare your garden’s friendly inhabitants too. It helps a lot to persuade your neighbors likewise; their frequently-sprayed yards can be reservoirs of pests.  

There’s one set of exceptions to the indiscriminate-killer insecticide: Bacillus thuringensis (“Bt”) sprays or pellets. These contain a subspecies of microorganism that’s bred specifically for the life form it’s aimed at—caterpillars (but remember, that’s any caterpillar) or mosquitoes. 

They kill the pest in its infancy, so it doesn’t survive to bite or breed. I like the stuff for small watergardens—tubs, pots—better than the “mosquitofish” the county hands out for free, which are becoming pests themselves. More on that problem next week. 

 

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


Quake Tip of the Week

By Larry Guillot
Friday July 21, 2006

Are You Inside or Out? 

 

When the Big One hits, if you’re inside, stay indoors until the shaking stops and you’re sure it’s safe to exit. 

More injuries happen when people move during the shaking of an earthquake. After the shaking has stopped, if you go outside, move quickly away from the building to prevent injury from falling debris.  

If you are outdoors, find a clear spot away from buildings, trees, streetlights, and power lines. Drop to the ground and stay there until the shaking stops. Injuries can occur from falling trees, street-lights and power lines, or building debris. 

 

 

Larry Guillot is owner of QuakePrepare, an earthquake consulting, securing, and kit supply service in the east bay.  

558-3299, www.quakeprepare.com. 

 

 

 


Berkeley This Week

Friday July 21, 2006

FRIDAY, JULY 21 

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 

Sydney B. Mitchell Iris Society Annual Bearded Iris Rhizome Auction at 7:30 p.m. at 666 Bellevue Ave., Lakeside Park, Oakland. 277-4200. 

“Venezuela Rising” A documentary at 7 p.m. at Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists’ Hall, 1924 Cedar St. at Bonita. Donation$10. 528-5403. 

“State of Denial” A film on living in South Africa with HIV, at 7:30 p.m. at 464 Van Buren at Euclid, Oakland. Sponsored by Friends of African Film. www.friendsofafricanfilm.com 

Berkeley Folk Dancers Community Classes and Teacher Workshop, ages 8 and up, Fridays through Aug. 18 at 7:45 p.m. at Live Oak Park, 1301 Shattuck Ave. Cost is $10-$15 for five classes, $5 drop-in.  

Stagebridge Story Workshop with local storytellers from 10 a.m. to noon at Arts First Oakland Center, 2501 Harrison St., Oakland. Bring a bag lunch. Cost is $10. 444-4755.  

Women in Black Vigil noon to 1 p.m. at UC Berkeley, Bancroft at Telegraph. 845-1143. 

SATURDAY, JULY 22 

Sassafras Shotgun Players Annual Silent Auction Fundraiser at 6 p.m. at The Hillside Club, 2286 Cedar St. Tickets are $40 and include dinner. 841-6500. 

Sydney B. Mitchell Iris Society Bearded Iris Rhizome Sale From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Rockridge Mall, Broadway at Pleasant Valley Rd., Oakland. Free growing instruction and advice from the experts. 277-4200. 

Butterfly Bonanza Work Party Join us to create a new pathway in the butterfly garden at the Tilden Nature Center, Tilden Park, from 10 a.m. to noon. Dress for sun and dirt. 525-2233. 

Peach Tastings and Cooking Demonstrations from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m at the Saturday Berkeley Farmer’s Market, Center St., at MLK, Jr. Way. 548-3333. 

Wonders of Watersheds Learn about the waterways in our community from 3 to 4:30 p.m. at Tilden Nature Center, Tilden Park. 525-2233. 

Striding into the Sunset An evening hike in Miller Knox from 7 to 9 p.m. on a 2.5 mile loop over varied terrain to see great views. Bring a snack to share. Call for meeting place 525-2233. 

Canoe and Kayak Race for the Treasure beginning at 8 a.m. at Jack London Aquatic Square, Oakland. Registration is $32-$40 for adults, $15 for teens. For registration forms please visit www.calkayak.com/events.cfm#998 or call 893-7833.  

60th Anniversary of the 1946 Oakland General Strike Commemoration at 6 p.m. at the Oakland YMCA, 1515 Webster St., at 15th St., with Evelyn and Val Schaaf and Earl Watkins, who participated in the strike; Gifford Hartman’s multi media presentation and a documentary. 415-751-1572. 

Oakland Heritage Walking Tour of the Waterfront Warehouse District from 10 a.m. to noon. Meet at the intersection of 3rd and Franklin Sts. Cost is $5-$15. 763-9218.  

Walking Tour of Old Oakland Uptown to the Lake to discover Art Deco landmarks. Meet at 10 a.m. in front of the Paramount Theater at 2025 Broadway. For reservations call 238-3234. 

Greenway Getaway A moderate hike along the Ohlone Greenway in El Cerrito, from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Sponsored by the Greenbelt Alliance. Reservations required. 415-255-3233. www.greenbelt.org 

“Lift Off” Emeryville Picnic Celebrating Schools & Community at noon at Emery Secondary School Athletic Field, 4727 San Pablo Ave. www.emeryusd.k12.ca.us 

El Cerrito Historical Society Annual Potluck Picnic at Huber Park at noon. All welcome to attend. Please bring a main course, salad, or dessert. 526-7507, 525-1730. 

37th Anniversary of the Flight of the Apollo 11 lunar landing mission on the USS Hornet. Family activities and ship tours will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Visitors will have the opportunity to participate in mission briefings, see airplanes lifted to the flight deck, and sit in a fighter jet cockpit. Pier 3, 707 W. Hornet Avenue, Alameda. Cost is $6-$14. www.uss-hornet.org 

“The United States and Iran: Nuclear Proliferation, Terrorism, and Regime Change” with Prof. Stephen Zunes, USF, at 7 p.m. at Home of Truth Center, 1300 Grand St., Alameda. Sponsored by the Alameda Public Affairs Forum. Donations accepted. www.alamedaforum.org 

“The Code and the Challenge of Learning to Read It” a multimedia presentation on the reading crisis in our country from 9 a.m. to noon at Laney College Theater, 900 Fallon, Oakland. To register call 685-0186. www.childrenofthecode.org/oakland 

Berkeley Higashi Honganji Buddhist Temple Summer Bazaar, Sat. from 4 to 8 p.m. and Sun. from noon to 6 p.m. at 1524 Oregon St. at Sacramento. Japanese food, children’s games and homemade crafts. 843-6933. 

Support Shattuck Cinema Workers as they rally for a fair contract at 2 p.m. in front of Shattuck Cinemas. www.iww.org 

Oakland Zoomobile Meet some wild animals at 2 p.m. at the Kensington Library, 61 Arlington Ave. 524-3043. 

Berkeley History Center Walking Tour: “Explore the New Berkeley City College Building” is postponed to August. 848-0181. www.cityofberkeley.info/histsoc 

Vegetarian Cooking Class: Burgers and Backyard Bites from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at First Unitarian Church of Oakland, 685 14th St. at Castro. Cost is $45 plus $5 food/materials fee. Registration required. 531-COOK.  

Produce Stand at Spiral Gardens Food Security Project from 1 to 6 p.m. at the corner of Sacramento and Oregon St. 

Writing for Personal (R)evolution a workshop with Aimee Suzara at 10 a.m. at Epic Arts Studios, 1923 Ashby Ave. For ages 17 and up. Cost is $25-$50 sliding scale. 520-2486. 

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, JULY 23 

Bay to Barkers Dog Walk and Festival from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Cesar Chavez Park at the Berkeley Marina. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. and costs $25 in advance or $30 on day of event. Benefits the Berkeley East Bay Humane Society. 845-7735, ext. 13. www.berkeleyhumane.org 

Ridgeline Ramble on Sobrante Ridge A 3.5 mile hike up and down through oak and bay woodland, chaparral and grassland habitats, from 9 a.m. to noon. Meet at the Coach Drive Staging Area. 525-2233. 

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. 

Help Restore Cerrito Creek from 10 a.m. to noon. Wear shoes with good traction, long pants and sleeves. Meet at Creekside Park, south end of Santa Clara St., El Cerrito, just north of Albany Hill. 848-9358. www.fivecreeks.org 

Oakland General Strike Walk Meet at 2 p.m. at the fountain at Latham Square, where Broadway & Telegraph converge. The walk will revisit the sites that sparked the “Work Holiday” that shut the East Bay down. Co-sponsored by Laney College Labor Studies and the Flying Picket Historical Society. 464-3210. 

Oakland Heritage Walking Tour of Rockridge Arts and Crafts from 2 to 4:30 p.m. Meet at the pillars on the corner of Broadway and Rockridge Blvd. Cost is $5-$15. 763-9218.  

Progressive Democrats of the East Bay Potluck BBQ from noon to 4 p.m. at Codornices Park, Euclid Ave. at Eunice St., across from the Berkeley Rose Garden. We’ll bring the drinks and charcoal. Please bring something for the grill or something to share. 636-4149. 

“Diamonds are for Africa Forever!” a documentary about the local poverty in Sierra Leone at 2 p.m. at Parkway Theater, 1834 Park Blvd., Oakland. 625-1106.www.apscuhuru.org 

New Farmers’ Market in Kensington, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. behind ACE Hardware at 303 Arlington Ave. 528-4346. 

Writers’ Workshop on “Yoga and the Art of Making Your Words Come Alive” with Gail Sher at 5 p.m. at Black Oak Books. 486-0698.  

Free Hands-on Bicycle Clinic Learn how to repair flats from 10 to 11 a.m. at REI, 1338 San Pablo Ave. 527-4140. 

Free Sailboat Rides from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Cal Sailing Club in the Berkeley Marina. Bring change of clothes, windbreaker, sneakers. For ages 5 and up. cal-sailing.org  

“Local Medicinal Herbs and Your Health” Workshop with local herbalist Joshua Muscat, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Berkeley Eco-House, 1305 Hopkins St. Bring small pots and hand shovels. Cost is $15 sliding scale. 547-8715. 

Summer Sunday Forum: Peaceable Kingdom a video on animals at 9:30 a.m. at Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley, 1 Lawson Rd., Kensington. 525-0302, ext. 306. 

Berkeley City Club free tour from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at 2315 Durant Ave. Donations welcome. 848-7800 or 883-9710. 

Lake Merritt Neighbors Organized for Peace Peace walk at 3 p.m. at the colonnade at the NE end of the lake. 763-8712.  

Tibetan Buddhism “Opening to the Dharma: What We are Learning” at 6 p.m. at the Tibetan Nyingma Institute, 1815 Highland Pl. 843-6812.  

MONDAY, JULY 24 

“Conflict Resolution: Parents and Teens” with Susan Frankel, MFT and Jan McClain at 2:30 p.m. at Elephant Pharmacy, 1607 Shattuck Ave. 549-9200. 

“For Teens: No Pressure!” with Joan Hitlin, MFA at 7 p.m. at Elephant Pharmacy, 1607 Shattuck Ave. 549-9200. 

Stress Less Seminar at 7 p.m. at New Moon Opportunities, 378 Jayne Ave., Oakland. Free, but registration required. 465-2524. 

World Affairs/Politics Discussion Group for people 60+ years old at 10:15 a.m. at the Albany Senior Center, 846 Masonic Ave. Cost is $3. 524-9122.  

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

TUESDAY, JULY 25 

Tuesdays for the Birds Enjoy the early morning birding at Arrowhead Marsh, Martin Luther King Shoreline. Bring water, sunscreen, binoculars and a snack. Call for meeting location or to borrow binoculars. 525-2233. 

Peach Tastings from 2 to 7 p.m at the Tuesday Berkeley Farmer’s Market, Derby St., at MLK, Jr. Way. 548-3333. 

Cycle Touring: Tips for Paring Down Your Load at 7 p.m. at REI, 1338 San Pablo Ave. 527-4140. 

Berkeley PC Users Group meets at 7 p.m.at 1145 Walnut St. near the corner of Eunice.  

Family Storytime at 7 p.m. at the Kensington Library, 61 Arlington Ave. 524-3043. 

Red Cross Blood Drive from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Leapfrog, 6401 Hollis St., Emeryville. To make an appointment call 1-800-GIVE-LIFE.  

Raging Grannies of the East Bay invites new folks to join us from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. to sing, help plan our next gig, or write outrageously political lyrics to old familiar tunes, at Berkeley Gray Panthers office, 1403 Addison St., in Andronico’s mall. 548-9696. 

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

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

WEDNESDAY, JULY 26 

Four Short Films on Housing, Jobs and Unions at 7:30 p.m. at Humanist Hall, 390 27th St., Oakland. Donations of $5 accepted. 

“The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” A documentary about the failed coup against President Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, at 1:30 p.m. at the North Berkeley Senior Center, 1901 Hearst Ave. Sponsored by the Berkeley Gray Panthers. 548-9696. 

Walking Tour of Oakland Chinatown Meet at 10 a.m. at the courtyard fountain in the Pacific Renaissance Plaza at 388 Ninth St. Tour lasts 90 minutes. Reservations can be made by calling 238-3234. www.oaklandnet.com/walkingtours 

Bayswater Book Club meets to discuss “Godless” by Ann Coulter at 6:30 p.m. at Barnes and Noble, El Cerrito. Also organizing meeting to become a Democratic Central Committee Chartered Club. 433-2911. 

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

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

Fresh Produce Stand at San Pablo Park from 3 to 6:30 p.m. in the Frances Albrier Community Center. Sponsored by the Ecology Center’s Farm Fresh Choice. 848-1704.  

Sleep Seminar at 7 p.m. at 378 Jayne Ave., Oakland. Free, but registration required. 465-2524. 

Breema Clinic Open House from 6 to 8 p.m. at 6201 Florio St., Oakland. 428-1234.  

THURSDAY, JULY 27 

Cee Cee Weeks Day Tree Planting and Potluck from noon to 3 p.m. at Ohlone Park on Hearst Avenue by the McGee Play area. Join us to Plant a Tree in Honor and Memory of Cee Cee Weeks the Disability and Indian Rights activist and share a potluck lunch. 482-8284. 

“Introduction to Community Organizing” Learn how grassroots community power wins campaigns, at 7 p.m. at the Ecology Center, 2530 San Pablo Ave. RSVP to 848-0800 ext. 307. 

Teen Science Fiction/Fantasy Book Club will discuss “The Blue Girl” at 4 p.m. at Claremont Branch Library, 2940 Benvenue. 981-6133. 

Healthy Sun Practices with Dr. Lani Simpson at 7 p.m. at Teleosis Institute, Upstairs Unit B, 1521B 5th St. 558-7285. 

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

ONGOING 

Energy Saving Program for Residents CYES is running its 7th annual summer program, providing direct-installation of CFLs, retractable clotheslines, showerheads, and more. Services available in Berkeley, Oakland, Richmond. Free. 665-1501. 

Child Care Food Program is available without charge to all children enrolled in The Berkeley Unified School District, Early Childhood Education progam, based on income eligibility guidelines. Please call for details 644-6358. 

CITY MEETINGS 

Parks and Recreation Commission meets Mon., July 24, at 7 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center. 981-5158.  

Zero Waste Commission Mon., July 24, at 7 p.m., at 1201 Second St. 981-6368.  

City Council meets Tues., July 25, at 7 p.m in City Council Chambers. 981-6900.  

Civic Arts Commission meets Wed., July 26, at 6:30 p.m. at the North Berkeley Senior Center. 981-7533.  

Disaster and Fire Safety Commission meets Wed., July 26, at 7 p.m., at the Emergency Operations Center, 997 Cedar St. 981-5502.  

Energy Commission meets Wed., July 26, at 6:30 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center. 981-5434.  

Mental Health Commission meets Wed., July 26, at 6:30 p.m. at 2640 MLK Jr. Way, at Derby. 981-5213.  

Planning Commission meets Wed., July 26, at 7 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center. 981-7484.  

Police Review Commission meets Wed., July 26 , at 7:30 p.m. at the North Berkeley Senior Center. 981-4950. 


Correction

Friday July 21, 2006

The Berkeley Alcohol Policy Advocacy Coalition was misidentified in Tuesday’s Daily Planet. While nonprofit organizations participate in the coalition, BAPAC itself is not a nonprofit organization, as stated in the article.


Arts Calendar

Tuesday July 18, 2006

TUESDAY, JULY 18 

CHILDREN 

Kathleen Rushing of Bingo Schmingo, interactive songs and stories, suitable for the entire family at 7 p.m. at The Albany Library, 1247 Marin Ave. 526-3720, ext. 17. 

FILM 

Nicaraguan Film Festival at 7 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $5. 849-2568.  

Screenagers: Documents from the Teenage Years “Thirteen” at at 7:30 p.m. at the Pacific Film Archive. Cost is $4-$8. 642-0808.  

READINGS AND LECTURES 

John Hamamura introduces his novel “Color of the Sea” on the Japanese-American experience at 7 p.m. at El Cerrito Library, 6510 Stockton Ave. 526-7512. 

Bruce Jenkins introduces his biography “Goodbye: In Search of Gordon Jenkins” at 7:30 p.m. at Black Oak Books. 486-0698.  

T. C. Boyle introduces his new novel “Talk Talk” at 7 p.m. at Cody’s Books on Fourth St. 559-9500. 

Cecil Brown introduces his new novel “I, Stagolee” at 7 p.m. at Rountrees, 2618 San Pablo Ave.  

MUSIC AND DANCE 

Bruce & Lloyd’s Tri Tip Trio at 8:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $9. 525-5054.  

Gjallarhorn, Nordic sounds, at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $17.50-$18.50. 548-1761.  

Ellen Hoffman Trio at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island. Cost is $5. 841-JAZZ.  

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

Jazz Fourtet at 7 p.m. at Caffe Trieste, 2500 San Pablo Ave. 548-5198.  

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

WEDNESDAY, JULY 19 

FILM 

Nicaraguan Film Festival at 7 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $5. 849-2568.  

Labor Fest: Four Short Films at 7 p.m. at Humanist Hall, 390 27th St., Oakland. Donations of $5 accepted. 

Global Rhythms on Screen “Ombres” at 7:30 p.m. at the Pacific Film Archive. Cost is $4-$8. 642-0808.  

READINGS AND LECTURES 

Blood on the Border Readings Commemorating the Sandinista Revolution at 7 p.m. at Niebyl-Proctor Library, 6501 Telegraph Ave., Oakland. 595-7417. 

Café Poetry hosted by Paradise at 7:30 p.m. at La Peña. Donation $2. 849-2568.  

George Lakoff discusses “Whose Freedom? The Battle Over America’s Most Important Idea” at 7:30 p.m. at First Congregational Church, 2345 Channing Way at Dana. Donation of $10 suggested. 559-9500. 

Berkeley Poetry Slam with host Charles Ellik and Three Blind Mice, at 8:30 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $5-$7. 841-2082  

MUSIC AND DANCE 

Berkeley Opera “The Girl of the Golden West” at 7:30 p.m. at Julia Morgan Center for the Arts. Tickets are $15-$40, available from 925-798-1300.  

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

Calvin Keys Trio at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island. Cost is $6. 841-JAZZ.  

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

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

Rachel Efron at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 848-8277. 

Kapakahi, Crash Landing, Cold hot Crash at 9 p.m. at Blakes on Telegraph. Cost is $8. 848-0886.  

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

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

THURSDAY, JULY 20 

EXHIBITIONS 

“Chukes-Sculptor” Opening reception at 5:30 p.m. at Joyce Gordon Gallery, 406 14th St., Oakland. Exhibition runs to Aug. 26th. 465-8928. 

Paintings by George Long Reception at 5 p.m. at Giorgi Gallery, 2911 Claremont Ave. at Ashby. Exhibition runs to July 30. 848-1228. 

FILM 

Nicaraguan Film Festival at 7 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $5. 849-2568.  

Beond Bollywood: “Palace of the Winds” with neo-Benshi performance by Summi Kaipa at 7:30 p.m. at the Pacific Film Archive. Cost is $4-$8. 642-0808. www.bampfa.berkeley.edu 

READINGS AND LECTURES 

Jane Powell introduces “Bungalow Details: Interior” at 7:30 p.m. at Mrs. Dalloway’s Literary and Garden Arts, 2904 College Ave. www.mrsdalloways.com 

“Jewish Artists and Their Role in Mid-Century Abstract Art” at 6:30 p.m. at the Magnes Museum. Cost is $6-$8. Reservations encouraged. 549-6950, ext. 345. 

Robert Scheer on “Playing President: My Close Encounters with Nixon, Carter, Bush I, Reagan, and Clinton and How They Did Not Prepare Me for George W. Bush” at 7 p.m. at Cody’s Books on Fourth St. 559-9500. 

Joseph Barry Gurdin reads from his memoir “Border of Lilies and Maples” at 7:30 p.m. at Black Oak Books. 486-0698.  

Elline Lipkin and Sandra Lim, poets, at 7:30 p.m. at Pegasus Books Downtown, 2349 Shattuck Ave. 649-1320. 

Word Beat Reading Series with Jan Steckel and Diane Frank at 7 p.m. at Mediterraneum Caffe, 2475 Telegraph Ave. 526-5985. 

COMEDY 

Bay Area Comedy Festival with The Un-Scripted Theater at 8 p.m. at The Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby Ave. Cost is $15. Three-day pass is $35. 595-5597. 

MUSIC AND DANCE 

Summer Noon Concert with Upside Down and Backwards at the Downtown Berkeley BART station. Free.  

Big Lou’s Polka Casserole at 9 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $9. 525-5054.  

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

Bob Kenmotsu Quartet at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island. Cost is $8. 841-JAZZ.  

Travis Jones & Friends at 7 p.m. at Caffe Trieste, 2500 San Pablo Ave. 548-5198.  

The Prids, Sueco at 9:30 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $5. 841-2082.  

Bobby Hutcherson with Miguel Zenon, Renee Rosnes at 8 and 10 p.m. at Yoshi’s, through Sun. Cost is $16-$26. 238-9200.  

Femi, Fiyahwata, Fanatix at 10 p.m. at The Ivy Room, 858 San Pablo Ave. Cost is $7. 524-9220. 

Wayward Monks at 8:30 p.m. at the Uptown Nightclub, 1928 Telegraph, Oakland. Cost is $5. 451-8100. 

FRIDAY, JULY 21 

THEATER 

Actors Ensemble of Berkeley “Night of the Iguana” Fri. and Sat. at 8 p.m. at Live Oak Theater, 1301 Shattuck Ave. at Berryman, through Aug. 12. Tickets are $12. 649-5999.  

Ambitious Theatre Company “As You Like It” Fri.-Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 2 p.m. at Altarena Playhouse, Alameda. Tickets are $8-$15. 800-838-3006.  

Aurora Theatre “Permanent Collection” Wed.-Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 2 and 7 p.m. at 2081 Addison St., through July 30. Tickets are $28-$45. 843-4822. 

Berkeley Rep “Ennio” A comedy written and performed by Ennio Marchetto, at 2015 Addison St. Tickets are $20-$45. 647-2949. www.berkeleyrep.org 

California Shakespeare Theater “Restoration Comedy” 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 July 30. 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. 

Contra Costa Civic Theater “Footloose” the musical based on the 1984 film at 8 p.m. Fri. and Sat., and Sun. at 2 p.m. at Contra Costa Civic Theater, 951 Pomona Ave., El Cerrito, through August 5. Tickets are $12-$20. 524-9132. www.ccct.org 

Impact Theatre “House of Lucky” Written and performed by Frank Wortham, Thurs.-Sat. at 8 p.m. at La Val’s Subterranean, 1834 Euclid Ave., through Aug. 26. Tickets are $10-$15. 464-4468. 

Masquers Playhouse “The Fantasticks” Fri. and Sat. at 8 p.m. at 105 Park Place, Point Richmond, through July 22. Tickets are $18. 232-4031.  

COMEDY 

Bay Area Comedy Festival with Free Hooch Comedy Troupe at 8 p.m. at The Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby Ave. Cost is $15. 595-5597. 

FILM 

Nicaraguan Film Festival at 7 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $5. 849-2568.  

Friends of African Film “State of Denial” A film on living in South Africa with HIV, at 7:30 p.m. at 464 Van Buren at Euclid, Oakland. www.friendsofafricanfilm.com 

Janet Gaynor: A Centennial Celebration “Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans’” at 7 p.m. and “7th Heaven” at 9 p.m. at the Pacific Film Archive. Cost is $4-$8. 642-0808.  

MUSIC AND DANCE 

Berkeley Opera “The Girl of the Golden West” at 8 p.m. at Julia Morgan Center for the Arts. Tickets are $15-$40, available from 925-798-1300. 

Alameda Civic Light Opera “Jesus Christ Superstar” Fri. and Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 2 p.m. at Kofman Auditorium, 2200 Central Ave., Alameda. Tickets are $27-$31. 864-2256.  

Steve Oda and Anubrata Chatterjee North Indian music at 8 p.m. at the Hillside Club, 2286 Cedar St. Cost is $10-$15. 845-1350. 

Bullet in Your Head, Re Ignition at 9 p.m. at Blakes on Telegraph. Cost is $10. 848-0886. 

Kathy Walkup & her Trio at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island. Cost is $10. 841-JAZZ.  

The Chant Down Band, roots, dub and dancehall reggae, at 9:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $12. 525-5054.  

Pam & Jeri Show at 8 p.m. at Caffe Trieste, 2500 San Pablo Ave., at Dwight. 548-5198.  

Golden Bough, Celtic-American, at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $18.50-$19.50. 548-1761. 

Loosewig: the Ben Fajen Quartet at 9 p.m. at Downtown. 649-3810.  

The Ross Hammond Trio and Regina Pontillo, jazz, at 7:30 p.m. at Nomad Cafe. 595-5344.  

Jerry Hannon, The Jitters, Dao Strom at 9:30 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $5. 841-2082.  

Capitalist Casualties, Skarp, Voetsek at 8 p.m. at 924 Gilman St. Cost is $7. 525-9926. 

Boca do Rio at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 848-8277. 

Her Grace the Dutchess Tom Jonesing at 8:30 p.m. at the Uptown Nightclub, 1928 Telegraph. Cost is $10. 451-8100.  

Bobby Hutcherson, Miguel Zenon, Renee Rosnes, and Rufus Reid at 8 and 10 p.m., through Sun. at Yoshi’s. Cost is $16-$26. 238-9200.  

SATURDAY, JULY 22 

EXHIBITIONS 

“Man’s Best Friend” Opening reception for the artists at 3 p.m. at Montclair Gallery, 1986 Mountain Blvd., Oakland. Your well-socialized canine friend is welcome to attend. 339-4286. 

THEATER 

Everyday Theatre “Dreaming in a Firestorm” by Tim Barsky at 8 p.m. at 2232 MLK, Oakland. Tickets are $12-$20. 644-2204. www.everdaytheatre.org 

Shotgun Players “Ragnarok: The Doom of the Gods” Sat. and Sun. at noon at John Hinkle Park. Free, with pass the hat donation after the show. 841-6500. www.shotgunplayers.org 

Women’s Will “Twelfth Night” at 1 p.m. at Mosswood Park, Oakland. Free. 420-0813.  

COMEDY 

Bay Area Comedy Festival with Kasper Hauser and Ali Wong at 8 p.m. at The Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby Ave. Cost is $15. 595-5597. 

FILM 

Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum “The Train Wrecker,” “Big Moments from Little Pictures” at 7:30 p.m. at 37417 Niles Blvd., Fremont. Cost $5. 494-1411.  

Janet Gaynor: A Centennial Celebration “Sweet Angel” at 6:30 p.m. and “Lucky Star” at 8:50 p.m. at the Pacific Film Archive. Cost is $4-$8. 642-0808.  

READINGS AND LECTURES 

Rhythm & Muse with Juan Sequeira & Maria Chavez at 7 p.m. at Berkeley Art Center, 1275 Walnut St. 644-6893. 

Storytelling Swap, hosted by Kathy Dana, at 7:30 p.m. at the Frank Bette Center, 1601 Paru, Alameda. Free, donations accepted. 523-6957. 

Poems About Alameda, open reading hosted by Mary Rudge, Poet Laureate of Almada at 2 p.m. at Aroma Restaurant, 2337 Blanding Ave., Alameda. 

MUSIC AND DANCE 

Starlight Circle Players at 8 p.m. at Berkeley Fellowship, 1924 Cedar St. at Bonita. Donation $5-$20. 841-4824. 

Manuel Suarez and Manny y Mano de Orula at 9 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $12-$15. 849-2568.  

Full on Flyhead, The Animal Underground at 8:30 p.m. at the Uptown Nightclub, 1928 Telegraph, Oakland. Cost is $10. 451-8100.  

Tom Rigney & Flambeau at 9 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cajun dance lesson at 8 p.m. Cost is $15. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com  

Stuart Rosh and John Craigie, singer song-writers, at 7:30 p.m. at Nomad Cafe, 6500 Shattuck Ave. 595-5344.  

Austin Lounge Lizards at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $18.50-$19.50. 548-1761. 

Sir Juette, Nasty Breeze at 9 p.m. at Blakes on Telegraph. Cost is $8-$10. 848-0886.  

Danny Lubin-Laden & Brama Sukarma at 8 p.m. at the Jazz- 

school. Cost is $10. 845-5373.  

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

Gaucho at 9:30 p.m. at Albatross, 1822 San Pablo Ave. Cost is $3. 843-2473.  

October Allied, The Jimmys, The 500’s at 9:30 p.m. at The Starry Plough. All ages show. Cost is $5. 841-2082.  

CJ Boyd Sexxxtet at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 848-8277. 

Eskapo, Deathtoll, Worhorse at 8 p.m. at 924 Gilman St. Cost is $6. 525-9926. 

SUNDAY, JULY 23 

EXHIBITIONS 

Berkeley Art Center Annual National Juried Exhibition Opening reception and awards at 2 p.m. at 1275 Walnut St. Exhibition runs to Aug. 26. 644-6893.  

THEATER 

Women’s Will “Twelfth Night” at 1 p.m. at Dimond Park, Oakland. Free. 420-0813.  

FILM 

Janet Gaynor: A Centennial Celebration “Tess of the Storm Country” at 5:30 p.m. at the Pacific Film Archive. Cost is $4-$8. 642-0808.  

READINGS AND LECTURES 

“Edge of Desire: Recent Art in India” Guided tour at 2 p.m. at Berkeley Art Museum, 2626 Bancroft Way. Cost is $4-$8. 642-0808. 

UC Extension Student Reading at 4 p.m. at Cody’s Books on Fourth St. 559-9500. 

MUSIC AND DANCE 

Berkeley Opera “The Girl of the Golden West” at 2 p.m. at Julia Morgan Center for the Arts. Tickets are $15-$40, available from 925-798-1300.  

Midsummer Mozart Festival Program 1, at 7 p.m. at First Congregational Church, 2345 Channing Way at Dana. Tickets are $30-$60. 415-627-9145.  

“Pins and Needles” a concert version of the 1937 musical, with Laborfest and Opera Non Troppo at 7:30 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. 849-2568.  

“In Celebration of Swimming” with Agua String Quartet and others at 7 p.m. at Live Oak Park Community Center, 1301 Shattuck St, near Eunice. Doantion $10, benefits city pool passes for homeless youth. 548-9050. 

Starlight Circle Players at 4 p.m. at Berkeley Fellowship, 1924 Cedar St. at Bonita. Donation $5-$20. 841-4824. 

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

Tango Number 9 at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $10. 841-JAZZ.  

Americana Unplugged: Dark Hollow Band at 5 p.m. at Jupiter. 655-5715. 

Wailing Junk Symphony for the Most High, Brazilian-West African Gospel Junk-Jazz at 4 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $12, $8 for teens and musicians with proof of instrument. 525-5054.  

MONDAY, JULY 24 

CHILDREN 

Yolanda Rhodes, multicultural tales with music and movement at 7 p.m. at the Temescal Branch of the Oakland Public Library, 5205 Telegraph Ave. 597-5049. 

Rafa Cano, Spanish sing-along for children, at 10:30 a.m. at PriPri Cafe, 1309 Solano Ave., Albany. Free. 528-7002. 

THEATER 

Everyday Theatre “Dreaming in a Firestorm” by Tim Barsky at 8 p.m. at Oakland Metro, 201 Broadway at 2nd St. Tickets are $12-$20. 644-2204.  

EXHIBITIONS 

 

“Black and White Editorial Portraits” by Phyllis Christopher. Artist reception at 6:30 p.m. at Berkeley Public Library, Central Catalog Lobby, 2090 Kittredge St. Exhibition runs through Aug. 27. 981-6241. 

“Creation Ground,” paintings by Diane Williams and Chuck Potter, sculpture by Ari Lyckberg Reception at 3 p.m. at the Community Art Gallery, Alta Bates Summit Medical Center, 2450 Ashby Ave. 204-1667.  

READINGS AND LECTURES 

Michael Spiro introduces his new book “The Conga Drummer’s Guidebook” at 7:30 p.m. at La Peña. Cost is $10. Demonstration at 4 p.m. 849-2568.  

Scott Nadelson reads from his collection of stories “The Cantor’s Daughter” at 7:30 p.m. at Black Oak Books. 486-0698.  

Richard Hooper on “The Crucifixion of Mary Magdalene – The Historical Tradition of the First Apostle, and the Ancient Church’s Campaign to Suppress It” at 7 p.m. at Barnes & Noble, 2352 Shattuck Ave. 644-3635. 

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

MUSIC AND DANCE 

Blue Monday Jam at 7:30 p.m. at the Uptown Nightclub, 1928 Telegraph, Oakland. Cost is $5. 451-8100.  

Musica ha Disconnesso, acoustic Italian music, at 7 p.m. at Caffe Trieste, 2500 San Pablo Ave., at Dwight. 548-5198.  

Bill Bell and the Jazz Connection at 8 and 10 p.m. at Yoshi’s. Cost is $10. 238-9200.  

 


250 Years Old and Still Full of Surprises

By Ira Steingroot, Special to the Planet
Tuesday July 18, 2006

Now that Mozart has turned 250, you would think that not much more could be discovered about the world’s most popular and most scrutinized composer. Then, along comes Austrian musicologist Michael Lorenz to dismiss a few old and new Mozartean myths. 

This year he, along with Agnes Selby, the author of Constanze, Mozart’s Beloved, burst the bubble on the possibility that a daguerreotype of Swiss composer Max Keller and his family included a 78-year-old Constanze Weber Mozart Nissen, Mozart’s widow. After being touted as such by the BBC and New York Times, Lorenz revealed that it was a hoax. 

Although Lorenz crushed our hopes for the authenticity of the photo, he had us rejoicing three years ago when he dispelled the long-held belief that Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 9 in E flat major was called Jeunehomme by Mozart. It turns out that some early 20th century scholars gave it this name by garbling what Mozart had said in a letter to his father. Far from being written for a woman named Jeunehomme, the piece was written for Louise Victoire Noverre Jenamy—and so we finally have the correct name for this piano concerto. 

Mozart had known the dancing master Jean George Noverre in Vienna. Later, in Paris in 1778, he would write the ballet music for Noverre’s Les Petits Riens, which was beautifully performed as part of last season’s Midsummer Mozart Festival. When Noverre’s daughter, Madame Jenamy, was in Vienna in 1776, she commissioned Mozart to write a piano concerto for her. The result was, which Mozart completed in Salzburg in January, 1777, and which is now newly and correctly named Jenamy. 

To celebrate this discovery, this year’s Midsummer Mozart Festival will feature Piano Concerto No. 9, with the great André Watts at the keyboard, as the centerpiece of its first program. No excuse is needed though since, beyond any trivial or biographical interest, No. 9 is actually one of Mozart’s earliest masterpieces, a groundbreaking work that was not to be matched by any composer until Beethoven’s last piano concertos. 

Although he was only 21 when he composed it, Mozart already reveals his genius for psychology, for hearing the instruments as individual voices as if they were characters in an opera. The variety of harmonies and oppositions between the soloist and the ensemble is both technically breathtaking as well as lyrically and emotionally ravishing. This concerto stands at the beginning of a long line of concertos that does not falter through Mozart’s last, No. 27. 

The program will begin with the Serenade in D major, along with the two marches traditionally linked to this “Posthorn” Serenade. This seven movement work was the Finalmusik for 1779, that is, music to be performed outdoors in celebration of the end of the university year in Salzburg. Do not expect some slight incidental music, though. 

Besides the beautiful solo in the second minuet for the rarely used posthorn, there is also a gorgeous sinfonia concertante for wind instruments in the third and fourth movements, a kind of pocket concerto. Throughout, the writing is delightful, usually upbeat but with those occasional peeks into the abyss that give Mozart’s work a deeper edge.  

The second program of this year’s Midsummer Mozart Festival gives us the rare opportunity to hear all three of Mozart’s final symphonies in one evening. The three symphonies, Symphony No. 39 in E flat major, Symphony No. 40 in G minor, and Symphony No. 41, the great Jupiter, were written during a six week period in the summer of 1788. Mozart entered the opening bars of these three works into his Verzeichnis aller meiner Werke, his autograph thematic catalogue of his compositions, between June 26 and Aug. 10 of 1788.  

In other words, during a six week period, after the failure of Don Giovanni in Vienna, during the time that his infant daughter died, while composing half a dozen other pieces, he carried these three symphonies around in his head and then wrote them down one after the other in fully orchestrated versions. Not only would that be difficult in itself, but these are the greatest symphonies of the 18th century and among the greatest pieces of music ever composed.  

The contrapuntal final movement of the Jupiter is usually singled out for particular excellence, but all three symphonies are magnificent from beginning to end. No. 40’s first movement, for example, begins with an insistent, dark, minor theme that pushes everything before it as it rushes to its inexorable fate, a musical correlative to Marvell’s, “But at my back I always hear Time’s winged chariot hurrying near.” 

Among other aspects, the three together encapsulate the progression from the full flowering of the classical to the first seeds of the romantic, whose ripened ears were to be reaped by Beethoven. Listening to them in sequence is like hearing Charlie Parker’s passage from swing to bop on his Jazz at the Philharmonic recording of “Lady Be Good.” 

Compositions though, no matter how great, are just marks on paper. The other half of the equation is performance and Maestro George Cleve and his Midsummer Mozart Festival Orchestra are more than equal to the task of interpreting these classics afresh. 

In fact, a Cleve performance always provides access to something surprising, new and revelatory in this music. Given the inspired programming, the excellence of the ensemble, the stellar Andre Watts as guest artist and Mr. Cleve wielding the baton, this promises to be another surpassing season for the Midsummer Mozart Festival. 

 

 

MIDSUMMER MOZART FESTIVAL 

Program 1: 7:30 p.m. July 20 at Mission Santa Clara, campus of Santa Clara University; 8 p.m. July 21 at Herbst Theatre, San Francisco; 6:30 p.m. July 22 at Gundlach Bundschu Winery, Sonoma; and 7 p.m. July 23 at First Congregational Church in Berkeley. 

Program 2: 7:30 p.m. July 27 at Mission Santa Clara; 8 p.m. July 28 at Herbst Theatre; 6:30 p.m. July 29 at Gundlach Bundschu Winery; 7 p.m. July 30 at First Congregational Church. 

For tickets and information about the programs call (415) 627-9145 or see to www.midsummermozart.org.


‘Girl of the Golden West’

By Jaime Robles, Special to the Planet
Tuesday July 18, 2006

To a Californian, there has to be something charming about an opera in which the mysterious stranger who wins the heroine’s heart is a man named Johnson from Sacramento. The Berkeley Opera makes full use of this charm in its production of Puccini’s The Girl of the Golden West, which opened Saturday, with a new English adaptation by David Scott Marley. 

The original opera, La Fanciula del West, was based on a 1905 play by David Belasco, who had also written the one-act that was the basis for Madama Butterfly. Puccini saw Belasco’s play in New York in 1907 and fell in love with it, despite, or perhaps because of, his rather poor English. What he had especially loved was the play’s setting—the Wild West. 

La Fanciula premiered at the Met in New York on Dec. 10, 1910, directed by Arturo Toscanini and with Enrico Caruso as Johnson. Following La Bohème and Madama Butterfly, the opera was more modern in its musical approach. Although the play was well received, one New York critic wrote that he missed “clearly defined melodic luster, outline, point and fluency.” Moreover, he could hear the influence of Debussy. Horrors. 

In fact, the opera has very few of the kind of arias that we associate with late 19th century Italian operas—the lyric and melodic solos that soar through a range of emotional intensities. Rather, the libretto is speech like, almost conversational, with short phrases exchanged, often between a number of singers.  

Underneath those lyrics, the music is continuously flowing, impressionistic and atmospheric; the orchestration complex. It’s well suited to an opera whose composer was fascinated by a frontier setting with blizzards and vast stretches of wilderness. 

The three-act opera begins in the mining camp of Cloudy Mountain, in the Polka Saloon, where a group of rowdy miners entertain each other with dancing, drinking and gambling amid laughter, loneliness and violence. 

All of this is tamed by Minnie, the Girl, who appears to be the only woman in camp and who is the vessel for the men’s longing, as she enacts for them the role of sister, mother and friend. It is around Minnie (Jillian Khuner) that the expectations, intentions and actions of the play revolve.  

Minnie, like most of the characters, resembles one of the stock characters of melodrama: the prostitute, or in this case, the saloonkeeper, with a heart of gold. For Minnie’s goal is to “be decent” in the midst of the impure turmoil that is the frontier. 

Two men are in love with Minnie. The tolerant and upright Sheriff Rance (Joe Kinyon), who has been pursuing her for some years, and a mysterious stranger Johnson (Pedro Rodelas), newly arrived at the Polka Saloon, who is the disguised outlaw Ramerrez. It’s not hard to figure out which one Minnie will fall in love with. 

As predictable as all of this seems, none of the characters turns out to be as black and white as classic melodrama would have them be. Neither man is who he seems: there’s something rancid about the sheriff when he offers Minnie a fortune in the form of a wad of bills “for just one kiss.” On the other hand, in his confession to Minnie, we discover Ramerrez has become an outlaw under a vow of revenge for his ill-used father.  

And Minnie, the girl who reads Bible stories to the miners and urges them to “hope for love and fergiveness,” boldly lies and cheats to save the man she loves from the law. For Minnie, despite her humility and craving for decency, carries deep and desperate passions within her. 

Part of the challenge in staging this opera has to be to provide enough balance to the sentimentality and stereotypes of the now 100-year-old original. Berkeley Opera has chosen to do this by providing a new libretto and by adding video projection to the scenic design.  

The projections proceed, end and act as entreacts to the opera, and are placed to resemble a silent film with newsreels. Beginning the opera as a silent film, complete with imitative typography and explanatory history, signals the story is from a definite milieu while putting a lighter spin on the cornier aspects of the western melodrama; it also allows us to give the artistic director some credit for wit. 

Everyone puts in an admirable performance in the production. Jillian Khuner is sweet without being cloying and carries both her character’s modesty and passions with grace, blending good acting with accomplished singing.  

Despite some wavering in the upper register, Pedro Rodelas has a lovely tenor voice, with the warmth and sweetness favored by northern Hispanic voices and made large by bel canto singing.  

There are two casts: with changes for Minnie—Jillian Khuner (July 21) and Paula Goodman Wilder (July 19 and 23) and Sheriff Rance—Joe Kinyon (July 21) and Torlef Borsting (July 19 and 23).  

 

 

THE GIRL OF THE GOLDEN WEST 

7:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 19; 8 p.m. Friday July 21; 2 p.m Sunday, July 23. Julia Morgan Theatre, 2640 College Ave. (925) 798-1300.


Red Alert Issued for The Yellow Dodder

By Ron Sullivan, Special to the Planet
Tuesday July 18, 2006

One more scary invasive exotic plant has shown up in the East Bay. Susan Schwartz of Friends of Five Creeks issued a bulletin:  

 

I’m hoping you will help look for the bright-yellow, leafless, parasitic vine shown in the attached photo. If you find it, please inform Vince Guise of the Alameda/Contra Costa Weed Management Area (vguis@ag.cccounty.us) and me [F5creeks@aol.com]. California has many dodders, but no other forms these bright yellow tangles in broad-leaved trees. 

This plant is Japanese dodder, Cuscuta japonica. It is a new invader in California—our restoration site at Adams Street on Cerrito Creek is apparently only the third reported instance. But the second was at an apartment building in San Pablo, so there may well be others. That is why I’m asking your help. 

This parasite can infest a wide variety of trees. At Cerrito Creek, it’s on willow, plum, and elderberry; at San Pablo it infested pittosporum. It spreads by seed and vegetatively, by bits and pieces—the long, succulent tendrils break off easily. Once it finds a host, it sends root-like structures called hausatoria into limbs, sucking the host plant’s water and nutrients. It forms dense tangles and weakens or eventually kills the tree or bush. 

The plant has herbal uses in Asia and may be being brought in for that reason. There is a Department of Agriculture quarantine, but those are often ineffectual. Like many invasives, it has the potential to spread rapidly and widely in wild lands, gardens, and orchards.  

Department of Agriculture advice is to inform them rather than try to eradicate it yourself. If you do try, their advice is to remove the entire tree or bush down to the ground, double-bag everything down to small fragments, and make sure the bags are deeply buried in landfill (that is, do not compost). 

 

The usual sort of dodder is easy enough to see now, especially in pickleweed salt marshes along the bay. It looks like a big skein of orange thread, tangled in the succulent marsh plants. Dodders, native or imported, are officially agricultural pests: as parasites, they reduce crop size and health. The new one is attacking gardens, too—pittosporum is a genus of commonly used ornamental shrubs and small trees. In wildlands, the nutrient balance can be even more precarious than a small farmer’s financial balance, so the imported species wouldn’t exactly be welcome there either. 

This new one is not just any wildland invader; healthy trees have had to be destroyed to get rid of it— it spreads fast, as Schwartz notes above, and can make a whole stand of trees sicken and die, if such harsh measures aren’t taken. You can imagine how this affects creek restoration and flood control efforts—kill the trees and the banks erode and the winter floods wash away our wild neighbors’ homes along with ours—and breaks the hearts of the people, many of them volunteers, who are actually getting out there and sweating on those efforts.  

Lots of restoration work, especially along creeks, involves the hard, repeated, sometimes years-long labor of removing Algerian ivy. You can tell that from English ivy—which is a wildlands pest too—by Algerian’s bigger leaves and red petioles (leaf stalks). It’s more vigorous than English ivy, and it’s been planted as a droughty, cheap, low-maintenance ground cover for years.  

It’s going out of style lately, thank Flora, for several reasons. A big one is that it harbors rats—Norway rats, roof rats, the kind you’d really rather not have close to home. One ivy-killing project I know of involved cooperative neighbors, some of whom were alarmed at the apparent influx of rats in their yards. Of course, it wasn’t that the newly bare spaces were attracting rats; it was that the rats that had been there along were suddenly visible.  

Ivy of all sorts can climb, smother, strangle, and kill trees, even though it’s not a parasite. Sometimes it’s like a local version of kudzu. It’s a skin irritant, especially its juices; for some of us it’s a serious allergen. (Me, for example.)  

If you have some, get rid of it before it murders you in your bed. At least cut off the mature parts, where the berries grow, before it gets spread farther in birds’ droppings. Plant some snowberry for the birds instead.  

And if you see yellow dodder, e-mail the addresses above or call the county weed control folks fast! 

 

Photograph courtesy of Freinds of Five Creeks


Berkeley This Week

Tuesday July 18, 2006

TUESDAY, JULY 18 

Angels in the Wilderness with author and wilderness survivor Amy Racina at 7 p.m. at REI, 1338 San Pablo Ave. 527-4140.  

American Red Cross Blood Services Volunteer Orientation at 6 p.m. For information call 594-5165.  

“Long-Term Health Care Insurance” with Phil Epstein from HICAP at 1 p.m. at North Berkeley Senior Center. 981-5190. 

“Trigger Point, Spray and Stretch Therapies” a video at noon at the Maffley Auditorium, Herrick Campus, Alta Bates Summit Medical Center, 2001 Dwight Way. 644-3273. 

Family Storytime at 7 p.m. at the Kensington Library, 61 Arlington Ave. 524-3043. 

Discussion Salon on Global Warming: Have We Passed the Tipping Point Or Will Technology Save Us At The Last Minute? at 7 p.m. at 1414 Walnut by Rose. 

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.  

WEDNESDAY, JULY 19  

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. at the African American Museum and Library at 659 14th St. 238-3234.  

Blood on the Border Readings Commemorating the Sandinista Revolution at 7 p.m. at Niebyl-Proctor Library, 6501 Telegraph Ave., Oakland. 595-7417. 

Spanish Revolution Anniversary Celebration at 7 p.m. at AK Press Warehouse, 674-A 23rd. St., Oakland. 208-1700. 

Labor Fest: Four Short Films on unions around the world at 7 p.m. at Humanist Hall, 390 27th St., Oakland. Donation $5.  

Read with Berkeley Free copies of “Funny in Farsi” by Firoozeh Dumas will be given away at 1 p.m. at Berkeley Public Libraries, for a community reading project. First come, first served. 981-6139. 

Red Cross Blood Drive from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at BART/MTC Metro Center Auditorium, 101 Eighth St., Oakland. To make an appointment call 464-6237. 

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

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

JumpStart Networking Share information with other entrepreneurs at 8 p.m. at A’Cuppa Tea, 3202 College Ave. at Alcatraz. Cos tis $10. 652-4532. 

Fresh Produce Stand at San Pablo Park from 3 to 6:30 p.m. in the Frances Albrier Community Center. 848-1704.  

THURSDAY, JULY 20 

Family Fun in the Garden for ages 5 and up accompanied by an adult, from 10:30 a.m. to noon at the UC Botanical Garden, 200 Centennial Drive. Cost is $14-$18 for one adult and child. Registration required. 643-2755. 

Transportation Needs in South/West Berkeley Community meeting to identify priority needs at 7 p.m. at the South Berkeley Senior Center, 2939 Ellis St. 981-5170. 

The MGO Democratic Club will discuss the possible sale of OUSD property and future governance of the District after the departure of State Administrator Randolph Ward at 7 p.m. at 110 41st St., Oakland. 531-6843. www.mgoclub.org 

Teen Science Fiction/Fantasy Book Club will discuss the role of food in Brian Jacques’ Redwall series, at 4 p.m. at Claremont Branch Library, 2940 Benvenue. 981-6133. 

“Wanki Lupia Nani: The Children of the River” A documentary on Nicaragua, 1985-1988, at 7 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. 

Simplicty Forum with Alex Goldman on “Focusing First on the Inside” at 6:30 p.m. at Berkeley Public Library, Claremont Branch, 2940 Benvenue Ave. 

“Full Moon Feast” with food activist Jessica Parker at 7:30 p.m. at Elephant Pharmacy, 1607 Shattuck Ave. 549-9200. 

Avatar Metaphysical Toastmasters Club meets at 6:45 p.m. at Spud’s Pizza, 3290 Adeline at Alcatraz. Free, all are welcome. jstansby@yahoo.com 

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, JULY 21 

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 

Sydney B. Mitchell Iris Society Annual Bearded Iris Rhixome Auction at 7:30 p.m. at 666 Bellevue Ave., Lakeside Park, Oakland. 277-4200. 

“Venezuela Rising” A documentary at 7 p.m. at Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists’ Hall, 1924 Cedar St. at Bonita. Donation$10. 528-5403. 

“State of Denial” A film on living in South Africa with HIV, at 7:30 p.m. at 464 Van Buren at Euclid, Oakland. Sponsored by Friends of African Film. www.friendsofafricanfilm.com 

Berkeley Folk Dancers Community Classes and Teacher Workshop, ages 8 and up, Fridays through Aug. 18 at 7:45 p.m. at Live Oak Park, 1301 ShattuckAve. Cost is $10-$15 for five classes, $5 drop-in.  

Stagebridge Story Workshop with local storytellers from 10 a.m. to noon at Arts First Oakland Center, 2501 Harrison St., Oakland. Bring a bag lunch. Cost is $10. 444-4755. www.stagebridge.org 

Women in Black Vigil noon to 1 p.m. at UC Berkeley, Bancroft at Telegraph. 845-1143. 

SATURDAY, JULY 22 

Sassafras Shotgun Players Annual Silent Auction Fundraiser at 6 p.m. at The Hillside Club, 2286 Cedar St. Tickets are $40 and include dinner. 841-6500. 

Sydney B. Mitchell Iris Society Bearded Iris Rhixome Sale From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Rockridge Mall, Broadway at Pleasant Valley Rd., Oakland. Free growing instruction and advice from the experts. 277-4200. 

Butterfly Bonanza Work Party Join us to create an new pathway in the butterfly garden at the Tilden Nature Center, Tilden Park, from 10 a.m. to noon. Dress for sun and dirt. 525-2233. 

Peach Tastings and Cooking Demonstrations from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m at the Saturday Berkeley Farmer’s Market, Center St., at MLK, Jr. Way. 548-3333. 

Wonders of Watersheds Learn about the waterways in our community from 3 to 4:30 p.m. at Tilden Nature Center, Tilden Park. 525-2233. 

Striding into the Sunset An evening hike in Miller Knox from 7 to 9 p.m. on a 2.5 mile loop over varied terrain to see great views. Bring a snack to share. Call for meeting place 525-2233. 

Canoe and Kayak Race for the Treasure beginning at 8 a.m. at Jack London Aquatic Square, Oakland. Registration is $32-$40 for adults, $15 for teens. For registration forms please visit www. 

calkayak.com/events.cfm#998. 893-7833.  

60th Anniversary of the 1946 Oakland General Strike Commemoration at 6 p.m. at the Oakland YMCA, 1515 Webster St., at 15th St., with Evelyn and Val Schaaf and Earl Watkins, who participated in the strike; Gifford Hartman’s multi media presentation and a documentary. 415-751-1572. 

Oakland Heritage Walking Tour of the Waterfront Warehouse District from 10 a.m. to noon. Meet at the intersection of 3rd and Franklin Sts. Cost is $5-$15. 763-9218.  

Walking Tour of Old Oakland Uptown to the Lake to discover Art Deco landmarks. Meet at 10 a.m. in front of the Paramount Theater at 2025 Broadway. For reservations call 238-3234. 

Greenway Getaway A moderate hike along the Ohlone Greenway in El Cerrito, from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Sponsored by the Greenbelt Alliance. Reservations required. 415-255-3233. www.greenbelt.org 

“Lift Off” Emeryville Picnic Celebrating Schools & Community at noon at Emery Secondary School Athletic Field, 4727 San Pablo Ave. www.emeryusd.k12.ca.us 

El Cerrito Historical Society Annual Potluck Picnic at Huber Park at noon. All welcome to attend. Please bring a main course, salad, or dessert. 526-7507, 525-1730. 

37th Anniversary of the Flight of the Apollo 11 lunar landing mission on the USS Hornet. Family activities and ship tours will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Visitors will have the opportunity to participate in mission briefings, see airplanes lifted to the flight deck, and sit in a fighter jet cockpit. Pier 3, 707 W. Hornet Avenue, Alameda. Cost is $6-$14. www.uss-hornet.org 

“The United States and Iran: Nuclear Proliferation, Terrorism, and Regime Change” with Prof. Stephen Zunes, USF, at 7 p.m. at Home of Tuth Center, 1300 Grand St., Alameda. Sponsored by the Alameda Public Affairs Forum. Donations accepted. www.alamedaforum.org 

“The Code and the Challenge of Learning to Read It” a multimedia presentation on the reading crisis in our country from 9 a.m. to noon at Laney College Theater, 900 Fallon, Oakland. To register call 685-0186. www.childrenofthecode.org/oakland 

Berkeley Higashi Honganji Buddhist Temple Summer Bazaar, Sat. from 4 to 8 p.m. and Sun. from noon to 6 p.m. at 1524 Oregon St. at Sacramento. Japanese food, children’s games and homemade crafts. 843-6933. 

Support Shattuck Cinema Workers as they rally for a fair contract at 2 p.m. in front of Shattuck Cinemas. www.iww.org 

Oakland Zoomobile Meet some wild animals at 2 p.m. at the Kensington Library, 61 Arlington Ave. 524-3043. 

Berkeley History Center Walking Tour: “Explore the New Berkeley City College Building” is postponed to August. 848-0181. www.cityofberkeley.info/histsoc 

Vegetarian Cooking Class: Burgers and Backyard Bites from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at First Unitarian Church of Oakland, 685 14th St. at Castro. Cost is $45 plus $5 food/materials fee. Registation required. 531-COOK.  

Produce Stand at Spiral Gardens Food Security Project from 1 to 6 p.m. at the corner of Sacramento and Oregon St. 

Writing for Personal (R)evolution a workshop with Aimee Suzara at 10 a.m. at Epic Arts Studios, 1923 Ashby Ave. For ages 17 and up. Cost is $25-$50 sliding scale. 520-2486. 

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, JULY 23 

Bay to Barkers Dog Walk and Festival from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Cesar Chavez Park at the Berkeley Marina. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. and costs $25 in advance or $30 on day of event. Benefits the Berkeley East Bay Humane Society. 845-7735, ext. 13. www.berkeleyhumane.org 

Ridgeline Ramble on Sobrante Ridge A 3.5 mile hike up and down through oak and bay woodland, chaparral and grassland habitats, from 9 a.m. to noon. Meet at the Coach Drive Staging Area. 525-2233. 

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. 

Help Restore Cerrito Creek from 10 a.m. to noon. Wear shoes with good traction, long pants and sleeves. Meet at Creekside Park, south end of Santa Clara St., El Cerrito, just north of Albany Hill. 848 9358. www.fivecreeks.org 

Oakland General Strike Walk Meet at 2 p.m. at the fountain at Latham Square, where Broadway & Telegraph converge. The walk will revisit the sites that sparked the “Work Holiday” that shut the East Bay down. Co-sponsored by Laney College Labor Studies and the Flying Picket Historical Society. 464-3210. 

Oakland Heritage Walking Tour of Rockridge Arts and Crafts from 2 to 4:30 p.m. Meet at the pillars on the corner of Broadway and Rockridge Blvd. Cost is $5-$15. 763-9218.  

Progressive Democrats of the East Bay Potluck BBQ from noon to 4 p.m. at Codornices Park, Euclid Ave. at Eunice St., across from the Berkeley Rose Garden. We’ll bring the drinks and charcoal. Please bring something for the grill or something to share. 636-4149. 

“Diamonds are for Africa Forever!” a documentary about the local poverty in Sierra Leone at 2 p.m. at Parkway Theater, 1834 Park Blvd., Oakland. 625-1106.www.apscuhuru.org 

New Farmers’ Market in Kensington, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the parking lot behind ACE Hardware at 303 Arlington Ave. at Amherst. 528-4346 

Writers’ Workshop on “Yoga and the Art of Making Your Words Come Alive” with Gail Sher at 5 p.m. at Black Oak Books. 486-0698.  

Free Hands-on Bicycle Clinic Learn how to repair flats from 10 to 11 a.m. at REI, 1338 San Pablo Ave. 527-4140. 

Free Sailboat Rides from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Cal Sailing Club in the Berkeley Marina. Bring change of clothes, windbreaker, sneakers. For ages 5 and up. cal-sailing.org  

“Local Medicinal Herbs and Your Health” Workshop with local herbalist Joshua Muscat, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Berkeley Eco-House, 1305 Hopkins St. Bring small pots and hand shovels. Cost is $15 sliding scale. 547-8715. 

Summer Sunday Forum: Peaceable Kingdom a video on animals at 9:30 a.m. at Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley, 1 Lawson Rd., Kensington. 525-0302, ext. 306. 

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. 848-7800 or 883-9710. 

Lake Merritt Neighbors Organized for Peace Peace walk at 3 p.m. at the colonnade at the NE end of the lake. 763-8712.  

Tibetan Buddhism “Opening to the Dharma: What We are Learning” at 6 p.m. at the Tibetan Nyingma Institute, 1815 Highland Pl. 843-6812.  

MONDAY, JULY 24 

“Conflict Resolution: Parents and Teens” with Susan Frankel, MFT and Jan McClain at 2:30 p.m. at Elephant Pharmacy, 1607 Shattuck Ave. 549-9200. 

“For Teens: No Pressure!” with Joan Hitlin, MFA at 7 p.m. at Elephant Pharmacy, 1607 Shattuck Ave. 549-9200. 

Stress Less Seminar at 7 p.m. at New Moon Opportunities, 378 Jayne Ave., Oakland. Free, but registration required. 465-2524. 

World Affairs/Politics Discussion Group for people 60+ years old at 10:15 a.m. at the Albany Senior Center, 846 Masonic Ave. Cost is $3. 524-9122.  

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

ONGOING 

Energy Saving Program for Residents CYES is running its 7th annual summer program, providing direct-installation of CFLs, retractable clotheslines, showerheads, and more. Services available in Berkeley, Oakland, Richmond. Free. 665-1501. 

CITY MEETINGS 

City Council meets Tues., July 18, at 7 p.m in City Council Chambers. 981-6900. www.ci. 

berkeley.ca.us/citycouncil 

Berkeley Public Library Board of Library Trustees meets Wed. July 19 at 7 p.m. at the South Berkeley Senior Center, 2939 Ellis St. 981-6111.  

Citizens Humane Commission meets Wed., July 19, at 7 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center. 981-6601.  

Commission on Aging meets Wed., July 19, at 1:30 p.m., at the South Berkeley Senior Center. William Rogers, 981-5344.  

Commission on Labor meets Wed., July 19, at 6:45 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center. Delfina M. Geiken, 981-7550.  

Downtown Area Plan Advisory Commission meets Wed., July 19, at 7 p.m. at the North Berkeley Senior Center. 981-7487. 

Human Welfare and Community Action Commission meets Wed., July 19, at 7 p.m., at the South Berkeley Senior Center. Kristen Lee, 981-5427.  

Human Welfare and Community Action Commission meets Wed., July 19, at 7 p.m., at the South Berkeley Senior Center. Kristen Lee, 981-5427.  

Design Review Committee meets Thurs., July 20, at 7:30 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center. Anne Burns, 981-7415.  

Transportation Commission meets Thurs., July 20, at 7 p.m., at the South Berkeley Senior Center. Peter Hillier, 981-7000.  

School Board meets Wed., June 21, at 7:30 p.m., in the Cit