Full Text

History Professor Leon Litwak with his Golden Apple Award. Photograph by Riya Bhattacharjee.
History Professor Leon Litwak with his Golden Apple Award. Photograph by Riya Bhattacharjee.
 

News

Historian Leon Litwack Retires with Golden Apple

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Friday April 20, 2007

Images of a young Jimi Hendrix setting his guitar ablaze flickered across the screen at the UC Berkeley Wheeler Auditorium on Wednesday. The film Berkeley in the ’60s was not just entertainment for the some hundred students from History 7B (American History since 1865)—it was classwork. 

“When I sat on the advisory committee for this movie in 1990, it was History 7B who viewed it for the first time,” said Leon Litwack, the professor who, after teaching the class for decades is teaching it for the last time.  

He told the class Wednesday that he had asked those students to help him edit the movie by suggesting cuts. “But they said, ‘Don’t touch it,’” he said with a laugh. “Fortunately for you, we did touch it, or else you would have had to be here for three hours tonight.” 

Litwack, 77, retires from UC Berkeley this month, and students, faculty and alumni celebrated him Tuesday for his distinguished career as an award-winning scholar and much loved teacher of social history, specializing in African-American history and the history of civil rights, by honoring him with the Golden Apple. 

The award, in its third year, goes to a faculty member for outstanding teaching. Although Litwak is no stranger to awards, having won the Pulitzer Prize and Newsweek’s “Giving Back” awards among others, he calls winning the Golden Apple the finest moment in his career. 

“It’s special, you know,” he said, sitting in his office at 3317 Dwinelle Hall Wednesday. “Because it came from the students.” 

Litwack’s finest moment as a student, he said, came when he was asked to introduce Henry Wallace, who had run for president on the Progressive Party ticket the year before, at a campus event in 1949. 

“I had long admired him as a personal challenge to conventional wisdom, and I finally got to meet him,” he said. 

Portraits of free-speech advocate Mario Savio and American civil rights leader W. E. B. Du Bois hang behind Litwack in his office, as do rows and rows of books on the civil rights movement and African-American history. 

“I grew up on the east side of Santa Barbara, in a primarily Hispanic neighborhood. My parents were immigrants from Ukraine and my neighbors were immigrants from Mexico,” he reminisced. 

“I was a first-generation American and most of my friends were first-generation Americans,” he said. “I went to history class in school looking for the stories of these people. Instead I got the Pilgrims, the Puritans and the Founding Fathers. It made me realize that it had nothing to do with my history.” 

Litwack said that he challenged the notion of slavery and black reconstruction as early as eleventh grade, after reading W.E.B. Du Bois’ Black Reconstruction. 

“I had read Howard Fast and he talked about a part of the past that no one was interested in. I learned that the whole notion that slaves were happy and contented under slavery was incorrect. People thought they were serving a humane purpose in civilizing them, as if they had been uncivilized before. No one talked to the slaves or took their stories into account. My high school teacher found my point valid enough to grant me 50 minutes of class time.” 

Litwack said that since historians often relied on the records of privileged people who had time to write journals and diaries, they assumed that the history of working class people could not be reclaimed. 

“But that is not true,” he said, “Ordinary people might not necessarily keep their records in writing, but they do so through their music, songs, storytelling and humor. These should be areas of interest to any historian.” 

Litwack’s interest in pop culture is evident from the random Andy Warhol “Pink Cow” postcard, the Aretha Franklin pin-up and a host of other knick-knacks in his room that come from the world outside academia. His house is a labyrinth of books from all around the world, and he plans to add to them from the collection in his office. 

“I don’t like computers,” he said, “and the first thing I read in the morning is the SF Chronicle sports page. I also try to read the Times, Rolling Stone magazine and the Nation.” 

The professor is, among other things, an avid listener of hip-hop. 

“There are some who like it and others who think it is sacrilegious, just like they said about the blues back in the ’20s,” he said smiling. “I think hip-hop is the essence of day-to-day life. It is what rapper Ice-T meant by a ‘cry from the bottom.’ If I teach a survey course, that’s something I want to point out.” 

It’s not just Litwack’s love for hip-hop that makes him something of a rebel. He admits that he has always been one. 

“When I first came to Berkeley in 1949 as an undergraduate, there was no civil rights movement,” he recalled, “but we challenged the discriminatory practices in hiring, in housing and in the workplace. We used to go up to a house which had a ‘For Rent’ sign, and after a black person had been rejected, the whites among us would go up and ask if the place was available. And then, of course, it would be. We would use this as a way to break down the unfair practice.” 

Litwack acknowledged that racism was still alive in modern America, albeit expressed in more subtle ways. 

“We do our best to hide it, we pretend to be concerned, but it is a great hypocrisy,” he said. “Racism is not a southern problem. It is a northern and a southern problem.” 

Although retirement is around the corner, Litwack said that it wasn’t because he was tired of teaching. 

“I love to teach, but there is a voyage I have been wanting to take for a long time. Come October, I will be off to the Dalmatian Coast.” He also has two book contracts to finish. 

Litwack’s advice to his students has always been to research and write well. “But I don’t recommend Wikipedia as a source for your term paper,” he said laughing. “If you look me up there, you will see I retired five years ago.”


UC Academic Senate Confirms BP Contract

By Richard Brenneman
Friday April 20, 2007

Berkeley’s Academic Senate handed a victory to supporters of the proposed half-billion-dollar contract between the former British Petroleum and the university. 

Microbiologist Randy Schek-man, sponsor of the winning resolution, modified his original  

proposal to create a review committee with four Academic Sen-ate committee chairs, but insisted on striking any reference in a proposed compromise measure that would mention a study critical of the latest major academic/corporate research pact. 

Schekman later said the creation of the committee was made at the suggestion of Academic Senate Chair William Drum-mond. 

But the key vote, striking any reference to a study the senate ordered after the university’s last corporate funding controversy, was defeated on a 186 to 82 show of hands. 

“I wanted to expunge any mention of the Michigan State study,” he said after the meeting. The study, commissioned by the senate, was critical of the university’s handling of the five-year pact between Novartis, a transnational Swiss agro-pharmaceutical giant, and the Department of Environ-mental Science Policy and Man-agement of the College of Natural Resources. 

“This is not about BP,” said Drummond, after the meeting. “On one level it’s about whether members of the faculty want to stall the deal with BP. The answer was emphatically ‘no.’ 

“On another level, there is a sense of alienation and a sense of fracture among some of the faculty,” with teachers in the social sciences and humanities “because they feel the resources and attention are being taken away from them and given to the schools of law, engineering, chemistry and so forth.” 

BP p.l.c. has announced the award of $500 million to create the Energy Biosciences Institute (EBI), which would be located at the Berkeley campus, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. 

UC Berkeley would be the recipient of the funds and subcontract with the other two institutions. 

The EBI proposal has won the endorsements of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Chancellor Robert Birgeneau and Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates, who praise the idea of creating vehicle fuels from plant crops as a “green” solution to the global warming. 

Critics on the Berkeley faculty have challenged the close ties the agreement would create between the university and a multinational giant with a checkered past. 

From the first vote taken at Thursday afternoon’s meeting, the end result was clear, and when it came to a show of hands, an amendment to modify Schekman’s resolution by including a recommendation to consider the recommendations from the Michigan State review of the Novartis agreement were rejected. 

The only compromise was the creation of “an adequately supported committee” consisting of the chairs of the senate’s Budget, Research, Academic Planning and Resource Allocation, and Academic Freedom committees. 

 

Heated moments 

At one point during a discussion, Schekman appeared to compare dissident faculty member Ignacio Chapela to Don Imus, the trash-talking radio host recently fired by CBS radio and MSNBC television for racist and sexist remarks about women athletes. 

Schekman said a professor had called Birgeneau a prostitute during that session, adding, “Don Imus was fired by CBS for such remarks and I regret we don’t have the power to” do the same. 

Applause followed. 

But a review of a transcript of the March 8 forum reveals the only use of the words ‘prostitute’ or ‘prostitution’ came during remarks by Professor Ignacio Chapela, one of the 17 faculty members who had called for the Thursday senate meeting. 

As associate professor in the College of Natural Resources, Chapela was one of the leading critics of the Novartis decision and was released by the university two years ago and rehired only after he filed suit. 

During the March meeting Chapela had said of the BP proposal, “I have tried for size the word ‘prostitution’ as best describing that for which the Chancellor and his associates would like us to sign.” 

“I never called the chancellor a prostitute,” Chapela said. “I wouldn’t do that.” 

“It was very interesting that it came right after Anne Wagner was booed when she said that there were rumors about people being threatened with loss of tenure or their positions if they opposed EBI,” he said. 

Wagner, a professor of art history, was the principal speaker for the defeated resolution calling for a blue ribbon oversight committee. 

The meeting consisted of a long series of votes dictated by parliamentary procedure, and critics of the BP lost on every one, whether by show of hands or by voice. 

Schekman and his allies presented the calls for oversight as a threat to academic freedom—specifically the freedom of researchers to seeks funds wherever they want. Critics portrayed the BP proposal as a potential threat to the openness and collegiality of a public university. 

Drummond later blamed the course of events on Proposition 13, which has forced universities to turn to corporate coffers. 

“Blame it on your parents,” he told a young reporter. 

Earlier, during the meeting, anthropologist Charles Briggs said he wanted more oversight because during fieldwork in Venezuela in 1995 he discovered a secret agreement between the government and then-British Petroleum that called for oil exploration in an environmentally sensitive rain forest. 

“I contacted activists, and they forced a public debate,” he said, calling for close scrutiny of BP’s dealing with Cal. 

Chapela said he found the Senate meeting “a very educational experience,” in which “we ended up voting on Schekman’s resolutions and didn’t even get a chance to vote on our own.” 

He said backers of the agreement mobilized effectively, citing an email sent to engineering faculty in which the meeting “was billed as their ten-year immunization against people like myself.” 

Publicity drive  

Thursday’s vote followed an extensive campaign by the university. 

The university’s public relations staff has been lobbying hard for the BP project in recent days. The push started with an April 10 story about a story, describing an upcoming article in Vanity Fair that portrays the BP deal in glowing terms. 

Two days later, the PR staff followed up with a package of seven items covering the Energy Biosciences Institute (EBI), the name given the project that would be funded by BP’s half-billion-dollar research grant. 

Another story followed Tuesday, discussing a biofuels rating system being developed on campus that would rate fuels “like the Michelin stars for hotels and restaurants” according to their ecological and social goodness. 

The campus PR site also linked to paeans of project praise written by Chancellor Robert Birgeneau and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Director Steven Chu for the San Francisco Chronicle and a similar piece by Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost George Breslauer for the Sacramento Bee. 

The PR site didn’t mention that accompanying the Birgenau/Chu encomium piece were a highly critical article by Los Angeles attorney Al Meyerhold and a Chronicle editorial opposing the half-billion-project carrying the headline “UC and the perils of partnership.”  

Nowhere in any of the articles did the word “Novartis” appear, though it was very much in the minds and on the lips of critics, who have often referred to the warnings issued by a research team hired by the university to examine the school’s last major gown/boardroom collaboration. 

Debate over the 1998 five-year, $25 million Novartis research agreement effectively drew the line in the sand which has again divided faculty at the prospect of the BP accord. 

A team from Michigan State University was hired by the Academic Senate to look at the agreement while the contract was running and examine its actual results and its implications. 

While the researchers said the worst fears of critics hadn’t been realized, they said the agreement itself posed vexing issues, especially because it involved the entire Department of Environmental Science Policy and Management. 

The researchers specifically recommended that no future deals should be allowed which involve entire departments or large numbers of faculty. The recommendations were never implemented, despite the study’s cost of $225,000. 

Also on hand for Thursday’s votes was John M. Simpson of the Santa Monica-based Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, which has organized support for critics of the BP agreement. 

“Our only recourse now is to continue and try and shine light on what’s happening and to raise the issue with UC regents,” he said.


Universal Health Care Bill Passes Committee

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Friday April 20, 2007

A bill that would guarantee single-payer health care coverage to all Californians passed the California State Senate Health Committee Thursday, leaving at least one community advocate optimistic about the bill’s chances of becoming law. 

Senator Sheila Kuehl’s SB 840 now goes to the full Senate and, if it passes there, to the Assembly. Kuehl’s bill would provide health care coverage for all Californians through a single, state-developed health care system, the so-called “single payer” system. 

Vote Health organization, a local advocate of Kuehl’s bill, has scheduled a public discussion on the bill and health care reform for Monday, April 23, 7 p.m., at California Nursing Association Hall, 2000 Franklin St. at 20th Street, in downtown Oakland. 

Other bills that would guarantee coverage for a smaller number of Californians have been introduced by Senate President Don Perata, Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez, the Senate Republican Caucus, and Assembly Repub-licans. In addition, while not introducing a specific bill himself, Governor Arnold Schwarzeneg-ger has released the outlines of a health insurance reform package. 

Vote Health has written an eight-page comparison of what they call Kuehl’s “comprehensive reform” to the other proposals, which they describe as either “incremental” (the Schwarzeneg-ger, Perata, and Nuñez plans) or “limited” (Republican legislators’) reform. 

Perata is a co-sponsor of Kuehl’s bill, and both he and Nuñez have said that they support single-payer, universal health care coverage in principle. Both Democratic legislative leaders have said, however, that they don’t believe such a bill can make it to law this year, and they want to pass legislation that can lead to at least some increase in health care coverage in California. 

But many health care advocates in the state are putting all their efforts and bets on  

Kuehl’s bill. 

“Spectacular,” Health Care for All (HCA) chair Dan Hodges said in a telephone interview in describing the scene at yesterday’s committee vote. “It was a gigantic turnout by people advocating for passage. The hearing room was packed, both on the ground floor and in the balconies.” 

Others were watching the hearing on television in overflow rooms in the Capitol Building, and in rooms outside the state house, as well. It was a rainbow of t-shirts from such groups as the California School Employees, the Service Employees International Union, and the California Nurses Association. 

When Senator Kuehl spoke before the committee, she thanked the “1.2 bazillion people” who had come out to support her bill. “HCA has been working on universal health care issues since 1998, and this is a monumental change, a historic change, in advocacy for a single-payer plan. It’s the greatest growth we’ve seen in public support for health care reform.” 

Hodges said that Kuehl’s bill passed on a 6-4 partisan vote, with committee Demo-crats voting in favor and Republicans voting against. With a two-thirds vote needed to overcome a possible veto by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, some Republican support is needed for Kuehl’s bill to become law. 

Hodges is upbeat that this can be done. 

“We are going to need a giant public demand for health care reform,” he said, “a giant, historic grassroots movement which will cause some businesses to break ranks and come forward and do the right thing and support Kuehl’s bill.” 

Hodges said that businesses will be the key to the bill’s passage.  

“I can’t see this happening without many businesses changing their positions,” he said. “I can’t see Republican support without pressure from their business constituents. That’s going to lead to a leveraging of moderate Democrats as well.”


DAPAC Gives OK to Downtown Proposals

By Richard Brenneman
Friday April 20, 2007

DAPAC members finally adopted recommendations for developing UC Berkeley-owned property in downtown Berkeley Wednesday, but it took more than three hours, and one key element remains to be decided. 

The marathon session of the Downtown Area Plan Advisory Committee didn’t deal with the second major item on their agenda—adoption of the sustainabilty element, the cornerstone of the new downtown plan they’re formulating. 

Chair Will Travis began the meeting with an announcement that the city had defeated the lawsuit challenging the court settlement that provided for the creation of the new downtown plan DAPAC is formulating. 

“We can move forward with total confidence that we are a legitimate body,” he said. 

When one committee member expressed doubt, Travis said, “There are still people who don’t believe in global warming and even Galileo had trouble convincing everybody.” 

While an Alameda County Superior Court judge decided against the litigation filed by activists including Anne Wagley, Berkeley Daily Planet arts and entertainment editor, attorney Stephan Volker said he will appeal on behalf of his clients. 

That suit challenged earlier litigation filed by the city over the university’s Long Range Develop-ment Plan 2020’s plans to add an additional 800,000 square feet of construction off campus in the city center, plus the creation of at least 1,000 new parking spaces. 

Wednesday night’s DAPAC meeting focused on a report by a joint DAPAC-UC Berkeley subcommittee tasked with providing recommendations for how and where the university implements its expansion plans for the heart of Berkeley. 

Before subcommittee chair Dorothy Walker began describing each of the subcommittee recommendations, DAPAC member Billy Keys warned that “the whole plan won’t be finished” by the November deadline if work continues at its present pace. 

But members wanted to go through and vote on the items individually. 

Many of the recommendations had come directly from the Downtown Berkeley Association and its economic development consultant, Deena Belzer, who presented recommendations she said would help revitalize the city center. 

“The thinking is that you have to have a tight core that is very walkable,” Walker said, and once customers are happy with that, retail can expand to surrounding areas. 

The recommendation adopted by DAPAC calls for concentrating initially on Shattuck Avenue from Center Street to University Avenue, and University Avenue, Addison and Center streets between Shattuck and Oxford Street. 

Much of the discussion focused on the university’s plans for the old state Department of Health Services highrise between Berkeley Way and Hearst Avenue and Shattuck Avenue and Oxford Street. 

The university plans to demolish the existing buildings and transform the site into a public health campus, with clinics, an optometry clinic/ shop and functions that will serve the community as well as the campus. 

DAPAC members want a 100-foot depth of frontage along Shattuck to be devoted to retail. Developer Ali Kashani, filling in for the absent Mim Hawley, said that unless parking was provided, 100 feet would be a minimum depth needed to attract successful retail. 

Another recommendation calls for development of a parking structure on the city’s existing surface lot on Berkeley Way west of Shattuck, but discussion and a vote on that proposal was delayed at the request of Rob Wrenn. 

Several members, starting with architect Jim Novosel, were concerned that a recommendation that the university acquire additional property, including the old Purcell Paint Co. site. 

“If the university expands downtown and is taking property off the tax rolls, there should be overarching language that the city be paid” for what services it provides as well as any loss of resources, said DAPAC Chair Will Travis. 

Novosel said he also wanted to see the university devote the ground floors of new development for either retail or public outreach functions to provide a livelier atmosphere on the street. 

While there was support for university development of the site of the landmark University Garage at 1920 Oxford St., members voted to adopt a resolution by Novosel asking for the university to preserve a meaningful portion of the building’s facade and frontage. 

Members turned down a proposal to urge the university to relocate the Student Athlete High Performance Center on the site of the university’s Tang Center lot at Fulton Street and Bancroft Way in the event the university is blocked from building at the planned site west of Memorial Stadium.


Mayor Bates Touts Berkeley’s Green-City Initiatives

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Friday April 20, 2007

Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates urged local businesses to help propel Berkeley toward becoming the greenest city in the country at the Sustainable Berkeley Commercial Property Climate Protection Luncheon gathering on Tuesday. 

The event aimed to educate property owners and managers about free and subsidized services that would help save money and increase tenant satisfaction. 

“We are going to lead the nation in reducing greenhouse gases,” Mayor Bates told an enthusiastic crowd of local business leaders and property owners. “Berkeley already has 200 green businesses. We are now on our way to getting 100 green restaurants. I urge you to join us and sign up a sustainability pledge today.” 

Mayoral Chief of Staff Cisco DeVries said that different factors, such as the percentage of residents using public transit, number of parks, zoning policies to encourage housing near transit, and environmental purchasing rules, were often used to measure how “green a city was.” 

Sustainable Berkeley—a mostly city-funded group of public and private individuals and institutions—has attracted controversy recently because it does not fall under city government oversight. 

Councilmembers Dona Spring and Kriss Worthington expressed concerns last month that the organization is not subject to open meeting laws, union oversight and civil service protections. 

Mayor Bates also announced that there would be a Berkeley Measure G Climate Action Kick-Off on May 19 at the Ashby Stage. 

Co-hosts include Bates, The Sierra Club, KyotoUSA, Sustainable Berkeley, Transportation and Land Use Coalition, The Ecology Center and StopWaste.org. 

In 2006, 80 percent of Berkeley residents voted in support of Measure G, which aims at reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Berkeley by 80 percent by 2050 and directs the mayor to develop a community-based climate action plan by 2007. 

“The reason we put it on the ballot was because we realized that if we were going to make meaningful greenhouse gas reduction we need a broader community engagement,” said DeVries, who has worked extensively on the project. 

“We need residents as well as businesses to take steps to reduce emissions,” he said. “Measure G was sort of a first step in a broad community effort to show people’s commitment to making changes. We wanted people to think of this as a major focus of city government. There is no way a group of smart people can sit in a room and create policy that will work unless individual people make the right choices. We want to give people information and work with them to create a greenhouse gas reduction plan.” 

DeVries said that the next step was to put a team together that would gather community input.  

“ICLEI—Local Governments for Sustainability recently finished analyzing the city’s greenhouse gas emissions from 2000 to 2005 and the preliminary data seems to indicate that emissions are decreasing in the environment,” said DeVries, who added that the data was subject to revision. 

“This is with respect to gas, electricity and even transportation to some extent. This shows that people in Berkeley do care about issues such as global warming.” 

The April 24 City Council agenda lists a process recommendation from the Mayor asking the City Council to “adopt a framework for community and commission engagement in the development of the Measure G greenhouse gas reduction plan, including input from relevant commissions, community engagement, a kickoff event in May, and an interim report to the City Council.” 

The agenda also contains a request from City Manager Phil Kamlarz to “approve a budget recommendation of $100,000 to fund a project-based position to work on the development of the Measure G plan and the costs associated with development of a community process.” 

Ashby Stage was selected as the venue for the Measure G inaugural event because of its decision to go solar, said Mayor Bates. The theater is in the process of fund-raising for the cost of 63 solar panels and a new roof, which it estimates to be $107,000. 

“This makes us the first 100 percent solar theater in the country,” said Joanie McBrien, who handles development at the theater. “We were spending $10,000 a year in electricity bills. We realized that with solar energy we would be able to save that money and redirect it toward our artists. It seemed a smart move. Also, we are located at a very visible part of Berkeley, at the corner of Ashby and Martin Luther King Jr. As a result, the project would serve as an inspiration to others.” 

The project is scheduled to begin in September 2007 and to be completed by October. 

Laura Billings, who represented SRM Associates—the real estate developer that owns 2150 Shattuck Av. (formerly known as the PowerBar building)—at the Sustainable Berkeley event, said her company was exploring solar options within its projects. 

“We are currently working on four LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified projects,” she said. “We are looking at purchasing carbon offsets to reduce energy consumption in buildings.” 

SRM Associates is waiting to get a Silver LEED approval on its remodeling of the Peet’s Coffee and Tea building in Alameda. 

“We were able to control a lot of lighting and water usage in the building,” BIllings said. “We are also in the process of rehabbing the old Vista College building at 2020 Milvia. We want to recycle as much as we can from the existing building and implement an energy efficient heating and cooling system.” 

Billings also said they were working with new tenants—such as Cadence Design Systems, which will be taking over the PowerBar office space—on tenant improvement projects such as green interiors. 

“We are also using green janitorial supplies and diverting 75 percent more waste at the 2150 Shattuck Ave. building,” she said. 

James Monninger, who spoke at the panel on behalf of PG&E, said that they were excited to be a part of Sustainable Berkeley. 

“PG&E wants to help Berkeley residents and businesses,” he said. “The key is to get involved up front. We like to come up with a lot of acronyms and today we have come up with ACT. It stands for analyze, conserve and transfer. We have expanded support and now offer a tremendous amount of choice such as free services and cash or calculated rebates. The best way to get an audit conducted would be to call our business customer center and we will send over a person to start the process immediately.” 

The City of Berkeley’s Solid Waste department asked citizens to make use of the waste management and landfill diversion options available to them.


Senate Bills on Police Public Information Meet Mixed Fates

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Friday April 20, 2007

Legislation that would re-open police disciplinary hearings and open up police personnel disciplinary files narrowly passed the Senate Public Safety Committee this week on a partisan 3-2 vote, leading advocates to the conclusion that a compromise will be necessary for the bill to survive both the Legislature and a possible veto from Gov. Schwarzenegger.  

An Assembly bill (AB 1648) by Assemblymember Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) that was similar to State Sen. Gloria Romero’s (D-Los Angeles) bill was pulled by Leno before it came to a vote this week in the Assembly Public Safety Committee. 

Romero’s SB 1019 seeks to overturn the 2006 Copley Press, Inc. v. Superior Court (County of San Diego) ruling, in which the California Supreme Court decided that counties could properly bar the public from police disciplinary hearings. In addition, SB 1019 would expand the public’s right to see some police disciplinary records that were not available before the Supreme Court’s ruling.  

Voting for the measure in Tuesday’s meeting were three Democrats (Romero, Cedillo Gilbert, and Mark Ridley-Thomas, all of Los Angeles). Voting against it were the committee’s two Republicans, Dave Cogdill of Modesto, and Bob Margett of Los Angeles. 

In announcing the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Northern California’s support for Leno’s bill, which the organization described as “similar” to Romero’s, Police Practices Policy Director Mark Schlosberg said that, “the public has a right to know about misconduct by public officials who are paid for with public tax dollars.” 

“The Supreme Court decision, Copley Press v. Superior Court (2006), shuts down public access to information about police complaints and hearings that have traditionally been open,” the ACLU of Northern California announced this week in its release. “Since the Copley decision, San Francisco Police Commission hearings of disciplinary cases and records have been closed. Other oversight agencies throughout the state have been similarly affected including those in Los Angeles, San Diego, Berkeley and Oakland.” 

Following Tuesday’s hearing and vote on SB 1019, at least one local advocate for the bill believes compromise will be necessary to ensure its passage and the governor’s signature into law. 

“It’s clear that there will have to be amendments,” Rashidah Grinag, representative of the Oakland community organization PUEBLO, said by telephone. “A return to the pre-Copley open public hearings may be acceptable to all sides. But release of police disciplinary records is going to be a problem. Attorneys for police agencies told the committee that police would be put in jeopardy if that information was released to the public. They made it pretty melodramatic.” 

Grinage also said that police agency attorneys said “we didn’t mind having public disciplinary hearings in the past, but recently, members of the press and defense attorneys have begun to show up to monitor them. So they were saying they didn’t mind having the public hearings, so long as the public didn’t notice them. Now that the public is noticing them, they want them stopped. There’s a lot of irony in that.” 

Grinage said Senate President Don Perata (D-Oakland) will be a “key figure” in forging a compromise to get Romero’s bill passed into law, and lobbying for the measure by East Bay Area activists is now expected to turn to Perata’s office. 

Besides Grinage from PUEBLO, Berkeley Police Review Committee Director Victoria Irby, Berkeley PRC member Sharon Kidd, Oakland Community Police Review Board Director Joyce Hicks, CPRB policy analyst Patrick Caseras, Northern California ACLU representative Mark Schlosberg, and Chris Morray Jones of the Ella Baker Center in Oakland all came to Sacramento on Tuesday from the Bay Area to testify in favor of Romero’s bill. 

Oakland City Council’s Rules Committee has scheduled a hearing on SB 1019 on May 3 with the possibility of the full Council eventually endorsing the bill. Oakland City Council previously endorsed Leno’s AB 1648.  

In November of 2006, the City of Berkeley contested a lawsuit brought by the Berkeley Police Association that contended similarly to the Copley case that police officer hearings and records of the hearings must remain closed to protect the privacy of police officers. 

The city lost to the BPA last February in Superior Court.


Panoramic Sales Net City $2.1 Million

By Richard Brenneman
Friday April 20, 2007

The sale of seven Berkeley apartment buildings will make the city richer by $2.1 million in the form of a one-time property transfer tax payment, reports Calvin Fong, an aide to Mayor Tom Bates. 

The fee, assessed at the rate of 1.5 percent of the sale price, indicates that the seven apartments owned by Panoramic Interests sold for about $150 million. 

The addition of more than $2 million to the budget of a cash-strapped city represents a major windfall at a time when the city has been struggling for funds and scheduling periodic days off for city workers. 

“I’m not sure what the final amount is, but whatever it turns out to be, we could spend it five times over,” said City Manager Phil Kamlarz. 

City councilmembers adopted a policy two years ago of treating major transfer tax receipts as one-time payments for use on capital projects, Kamlarz said. 

“We’ve got a laundry list five miles long,” he said. “It could be streets, or storm drains or housing. Everyone’s got ideas.”  

The seven buildings built by developer Patrick Kennedy, a Piedmont resident, and UC Berkeley Professor David Teece, include the Gaia, Fine Arts, ARTech, Bachenheimer and Touriel buildings as well as the Berkeleyan Apartments and Acton Courtyard. 

The buildings, which consist primarily of smaller apartments rented by UC Berkeley students, represent the largest group of rentals under private ownership in the city. 

The properties were acquired by Equity Residential, a Chicago-based firm that represents itself as “the largest publicly traded owner and operator of multifamily properties in the United States.” 

While Panoramic’s 368 Berkeley units represent a significant percentage of the city’s newer rentals, the figure pales in comparison to the Equity Residential’s February figures for other California rentals—26,241 apartments—and its national total of 165,716. 

In addition to the one-time transfer tax windfall, the city also stands to gain from its share of increased property taxes when the apartment buildings are reassessed based on their new sales price. 

The pre-sale values assigned by the Alameda County assessor’s office total $67.8 million, with the individual values for the buildings set at: 

• The Gaia Building (2001), 2117 Allston Way, $13,496,483; 

• The Fine Arts Building (2004), 2110 Haste St. at Shattuck Avenue, $18,102,621; 

• The Bachenheimer Building (2004), 2119 University Ave., $7,645,446; 

• Berkeleyan Apartments (1998), 1910 Oxford St., $6,376,190; 

• Acton Courtyard (2003), 1370 University Ave., $11,095,554; 

• The Touriel Building (2004), 2004 University Ave., $6,075,994, and 

• The ARTech Building (2002), 2002 Addison St., $5,000,210. 

The assessed values and the actual property values differ significantly because assessments are capped at a maximum annual increase of 2 percent, thanks to the passage of Proposition 13 in 1978. 

Thus, the values of the Panoramic properties don’t reflect the recent strong inflation in real estate, which has only begun to level off in recent months. 

Kamlarz said that the bonanza from a major commercial sale is partly offset by the recent decline in turnover of residential properties.


Longfellow’s Technology Programs Attract National Attention

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Friday April 20, 2007

Forty-two school board members from around the country paid a visit to Longfellow Arts and Technology Magnet Middle School Monday to look at what the Berkeley Unified School District (BUSD) is doing with technology in the middle schools. 

The school board directors were in San Francisco for the 67th annual National School Board conference. 

The group spent the day at Longfellow and interacted with students and faculty. 

“Longfellow is a model in the field of providing technological education. It is helping students bridge the digital divide by ensuring that every student is technologically literate by the end of eighth grade,” said BUSD spokesperson Mark Coplan. “Technology innovation at Long-fellow Middle School has been supported by an Enhancing Education through Technology grant which led to equipment upgrades, a full lab with industry hardware and software, professional development for staff, and the creation of a set of technology standards that articulates what students need to know.” 

The children can also choose to participate in the nationally recognized Environmental and Spatial Technology (EAST) Program, where they apply their technological skills to service-learning projects or in an afterschool program called GenY where they collaborate with teachers to develop technology-enriched curriculum projects.  

Students had an exciting time showing the visitors the things they have designed, from PowerPoint presentations to highly animated websites. The board members also asked the school’s technology teacher questions about the curriculum and observed classroom teacher Marlo Warburton with her students in the computer lab. 

In addition to technology, the visit also focused on the School Lunch Initiative, a collaboration with Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse Foundation, Berkeley’s Center for Ecoliteracy and Children’s Hospital Oakland, which aims to change the way schools across the country look at nutrition.


SF Board Landmarks UC Laguna Extension Campus

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Friday April 20, 2007

The Landmarks Preservation Advisory Board (LPAB) in San Francisco voted 6-1 in favor of the local landmark designation of the UC Berkeley Extension Laguna Street Campus Wednesday.  

UC Berkeley’s plan to convert its historic six-acre Laguna Street Extension campus in San Francisco into a private rental-housing development has met with some controversy from residents and community groups who want to retain the site for public use. 

“The LPAB will meet again on May 16 to vote on the specific details of what is considered contributory,” said Cynthia Servetnick of Save the UC Berkeley Extension (UCBE) Laguna Street Campus. “The Planning Commission must act on the LPAB’s recommendation within the next 60 days.”  

First used as a city orphanage from 1854 until the San Francisco State Normal School was established in the 1920s to accommodate public school teachers, the campus has also served as the original home of San Francisco State University (SFSU). 

SFSU will be screening fimmaker Eliza Hemingway’s Uncommon Knowledge: Closing the Books at UC Berkeley Extension, which documents the closure, on May 10 to raise awareness about preservation efforts for the campus. 

Citing prohibitive maintenance costs to bring the campus up to current seismic and disability codes, the UC Regents closed the UC Extension building in 2004, and it has been sitting empty since then. 

A public comment period for the draft environmental impact report of the proposed project at the UCBE campus took place Thursday at the Planning Commission meeting at the SF City Hall Thursday. 

Members of the public can also send in their written comments to Paul Maltzer, environmental review officer at the Planning Department, until Monday.


Opium, Drug Use Drive Second Wave of AIDS Pandemic

By Khalil Abdullah, New America Media
Friday April 20, 2007

Intravenous drug use (IDU) is emerging as a significant driver for the “second wave” of the international HIV/AIDS pandemic, according to Dr. Chris Beyrer, a leading authority on the disease. 

This wave is driven, in part, by record world levels of opium production, particularly in Afghanistan, and is compounded by the virtual absence of effective HIV/AIDS treatment programs in public health systems. 

Beyrer, a leading epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, presented his findings to a group of ethnic media journalists who were co-hosted by New America Media and the Open Society Institute’s Washington, D.C. office. 

The “good news,” Beyrer said, is that “there is evidence of the slowing and decline of new infection rates” in sub-Saharan Africa and South America. However, Iran, Nepal, Indonesia, Central Asia, Vietnam, North Korea, Russia and the Ukraine are among those countries that are almost certain to experience an epidemic that will overwhelm their current capacity to adequately cope or contain the disease. 

Beyrer noted that, while HIV/AIDS is most often associated in the American public’s mind with sexual activity, intravenous drug use adds another unique set of challenges to public health systems, particularly where those systems are relatively fragile or, as in some developing countries, virtually non-existent. 

Data gathered in 2004 on Russia, for instance, showed that 87 percent of registered HIV cases were the result of intravenous drug use. Nine countries within the former Soviet Union’s orbit typically showed well over 50 percent of registered cases attributable to IV drug use. 

Beyrer pointed out that well known drug trafficking land routes correlate with projected second wave epidemics, but countries in the path of drug shipping are also at risk. Thus, in West Africa, Ghana and Nigeria are potential “second wave” countries, while the island of Mauritius off of Africa’s east coast is suffering an alarming increase in IV drug use-driven HIV cases as smuggled drugs head toward Tanzania and Kenya, two countries that also made the list as emerging epicenters. 

Quite simply, the flood of heroin through a country—whether it is the eventual destination or not—tends to increase the number of users there who quickly determine that needle injection is the best method to derive the desired effects of the drug. Beyrer also emphasized that, in some countries, the spread of HIV/AIDS is accelerated by needle sharing among prison populations. Iran is a prime example. 

Beyrer cited 2005 data that showed only 10,000 cases of HIV/AIDS being reported to the Iranian ministry while the estimated drug user population ranged between two to four million people. Yet, there was a 15.2 percent prevalence of HIV “among male intravenous drug users attending drug treatment in Tehran in 2005” and the disease was “strongly associated with a history of shared drug use injection in prison rather than sharing outside of prison.”  

Additional evidence showed that IV drug use was responsible for 85 percent HIV/AIDS transmission among drug users in Iran. 

Regardless of religion or culture, drug use appears to take root when there is a sizeable flow of drugs through a society. The Uighurs, a people of Turkic origin, are facing an increase in IV drug use despite their adherence to Islam. Their homeland, China’s Xinjiang province, lies along a major drug trafficking route. Similarly, Iran, regardless of its religious traditions, is likely to remain at risk given its proximity to Afghanistan. 

Yet, Beyrer says Iran is among the countries making important steps to confront its IV drug use patterns. Iran has legalized sterile needle exchange programs, a practical approach to limiting the infectious spread of the disease that the United States still refuses to fund through its international and even domestic HIV/AIDS prevention programs. Iran has also legalized the use of methadone as a treatment methodology. 

Beyrer explained that heroin, a derivative of opium from the processing of poppy, is treatable with an “opioid analogue therapy.” Methadone is probably the best known drug used in this therapy. Countries that ban methadone remove a useful tool in their public health arsenal. Beyrer also noted that Iranian public health officials are leveraging their cultural strengths to confront IV drug use. Having identified the mother in the Iranian family as a central actor in running the household, Iranian health officials are engaging mothers in monitoring their children’s adherence to drug treatment regimens. Collectively, Iranian actions indicate the growing consciousness that intravenous drug use is a public health concern rather than simply a criminal offense. 

It is difficult for individuals to admit their addiction in societies that champion criminal detention and prosecution as the mainstay of their anti-drug strategy, Beyrer explained. Criminal charges can lead not only to social alienation, but to termination of legal rights. Stripped of their dignity, imprisoned users thus become among the most marginalized members of a society, with no effective treatment available as they face the prospect of contracting HIV/AIDS through shared needle use. 

Breyer called for countries to begin building their public health capacities by using “evidence-based” strategies to curtail IV drug use-driven HIV/AIDS. But he was somewhat somber in the face of the record bumper crop of opium harvested in Afghanistan in 2006. 

When Afghanistan was under Soviet occupation, through the eras of the warlords, the Taliban, and now under President Karzai, no Afghan government has been able to eliminate opium production, according to data collected since 1980. The most successful effort was in 2001, the last year of Taliban rule, due to compliance with a government “fatwa,” or religious edict, calling for a ban on opium production. Since 2002, however, production has risen. 

Beyrer said the country’s 6,100 tons of opium produced in 2006 was the highest on record by far. The volume would have yielded approximately 610 tons of heroin, “more than all the drug users [in the world] can use.” 

Beyrer said that the staggering volume of heroin available and the amount of profit that can be derived from drug sales makes confronting IV drug use-transmitted HIV/AIDS daunting. Unless countries put a health infrastructure in place now, he said, the world will be seeing a fourth and fifth wave of HIV/AIDS in the decade ahead.  

“The window of opportunity to control these epidemics is narrow and closing,” Beyrer said.


Local Businesses Raise Money for Students

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Tuesday April 17, 2007

As Anuradha Biswa Karma waits for her grade-four textbooks in an obscure part of the Himalayan Kingdom of Nepal, little does she know that there is someone working in Berkeley to send her the money to buy them. 

Like Anuradha, there are 125 other children at Modern Preparatory Secondary School in Itahari, a town sandwiched between Kathmandu and Dharan, who depend on restaurateur Rajen Thapa for their education every month. 

“Itahari is but a tiny dot in the world map,” said Thapa, who owns Taste of the Himalayas in North Berkeley. “But I want to make each of these children a world-class citizen. I want to give them the confidence and the means to become successful.” 

Thapa is not the only business owner in North Berkeley who wants to make a difference in the lives of economically challenged children. There are others, such as the brother and sister duo of Narong and Tuanchai Sapsuwan, of the organic restaurant Thai Delight on Shattuck Avenue , who send money back to Tak, Thailand to support Karenese children every year. 

And then there is David Hahn, who has joined Thapa and the Sapsuwans to host a fundraising dinner and performance on April 26 in Berkeley that will benefit hundreds of children all over the world. 

“For me, nutrition is the most important thing children need,” said Sapsuwan, founder of Thai Delight, who goes by the name A. “If they don’t have nutrition, good clothes on their body and a warm place to sleep in, how will they study?” 

A, an immigrant from Bangkok, started her career as a waitress at Berkeley’s Plearn Thai Cuisine 20 years ago. “It was hard work,” she said, “but it helped me save money to open my own restaurant in Berkeley.” A handed over ownership of Thai Delight to her brother Narong Sapsuwan last year.  

Narong, 43, started off as a wood exporter and co-founded the Joint Venture Company in Bangkok, which exported woodchips to Japan, where he worked as director and general manager for more than a decade. 

“I came to make my fortune in this land of opportunity and freedom,” his sister told the Planet outside Thai Delight Friday. “But I am always reminded that there are so many people in this world who still need help and support. I don’t have any children of my own, and I want to give each of these Karenese children the same opportunity that came my way.” 

The Karenese, a minority group who call the mountain ranges at the border of Thailand and Myanmar their home, are fighting the rule of the Myanmar government for over four decades. 

“It was my brother Dr. Vachara Sapsuwan who told me about these kids when he went to take care of them five years ago,” said A. “They don’t have medicines, or clothes and live in deplorable conditions. We want to teach them organic farming for self-sustenance but first we have to feed them. There are 200 Karenese children in Tak right now, $2 can feed seven children per day.” 

Some ten thousand miles away in El Salvador, 9-year old Walter Rodriguez is getting fed, clothed and educated because 63-year-old David Hahn wants him to see him happy.  

“I look back at my life and all the experiences I have had and I want to give back to those who have had no access all their lives,” he says. 

Hahn—a third-generation American—was born in Springfield, Minn. He went on to get his teaching credentials from Mankato University in Minnesota and moved to the Bay Area in 1989 to work in the College of Education at Cal State East Bay. 

“My outreach to the homeless began through the Berkeley-based Night on the Streets, a Dorothy Day House affiliate,” he said. “I became involved in developing countries after I met the Rev. Nestorio Agirembabazi of the Apostles of Jesus during his sabbatical year in Berkeley. After I visited Africa at his request, I became involved with the Computers for Library Project in Nairobi, Kenya.” 

Hahn hopes that the money from the fundraiser will help turn the library into a major resource center. 

“I see potential to really help change the system in Nairobi,” said Hahn. “We hope the library becomes a vehicle for that. Our goal is to construct 20 workstations. The cost of one computer in Kenya is $825. We need $18,000 to reach our goal.” 

Thapa, the mind behind the fundraiser, hopes to hand over $750 to Hahn and $1,250 to Modern Preparatory School and the Karenese children.  

Tickets for the April 26 event, which will feature dinner at Taste of the Himalayas and Thai Delight and Thai and Nepalese cultural performances at Yogakula, cost $25.  

“The money will go a long away in providing scholarships to the kids in the school,” Thapa said, pointing at pictures of students taken from the last time he was in Nepal. “$1 is 75 Nepalese rupees. That could buy 11 pounds of rice, which is a lot.” 

Thapa elaborated that $500 went to support a single student every year. The school, which was founded by Thapa in 1993 within the confines of his residence, serves 800 children. 

“I make sure that every child gets the best education,” he said. “The money that we make in fees supports the 125 children who come from the lower castes and can’t pay for themselves.” 

A scholarship student himself, Thapa was educated at a private boarding school in Darjeeling, West Bengal.  

“My parents worked in a tea garden, plucking tea leaves,” he said. “There was no way I could have become a teacher if I hadn’t received the scholarship. As a result I want to give back to the community in the same way. Allow someone else to excel and become a better person.” 


State Senate to Hear Single-Payer Health Care Bill Wednesday

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Tuesday April 17, 2007

Single-payer universal health care advocates in California begin their second try in two years to make their cause state law when the state Senate Health Committee holds a hearing in Sacramento this Wednesday afternoon on state Sen. Shirley Kuehl’s (D-Santa Monica) SB 840. 

Kuehl is chair of the Senate Health Committee. 

Calling it the “gold standard for health care reform,” Kuehl said at a February press conference announcing the reintroduction of her bill that “SB 840 genuinely empowers consumers, because it allows each of us uninterrupted access to the doctors we trust. We will be free to move on from our jobs, start a business, start a family continue our education and change our residence, knowing that our health care will follow us. SB 840 offers genuine affordability, because our premiums will be based on income and each of us will pay our share, as would employers. SB 840 offers a genuinely competitive medical marketplace because all healthcare providers will be in competition for patients based not on a race to the bottom but on the quality and efficiency of their service.” 

Kuehl’s bill easily passed both houses of the state legislature last year (25-15 in the Senate, 45-33 in the Assembly) but was vetoed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who said that the measure would create a “vast new bureaucracy” and would “cost the state billions and lead to significant new taxes on individuals and businesses, without solving the critical issue of affordability. I won’t jeopardize the economy of our state for such a purpose.” 

But health care coverage has becoming an increasingly visible issue in California and state politics since then, and with the governor himself now calling for at least a limited expansion of health care coverage in California, and both Republican and Democratic legislative leaders coming out with health care bills of their own, advocates are hoping for a better result this year. 

The California Alliance for Retired Americans (CARA), the state affiliate for the AFL-CIO retired workers’ organization, is taking several busloads of advocates from the Bay Area to Wednesday’s hearing, including representatives of Oakland-based Vote Health Organization and San Francisco-based Senior Action Network. In addition, the national organization Health Care Access has set up a 365-city campaign in the state under the name OneCareNow (www.onecarenow. org) to promote passage and signing of SB 840. 

Oakland’s Vote Health organization, East Bay advocates for increased health care protections, says in its latest newsletter that momentum for SB 840 is building. 

“Last August’s rally to demand that Schwarzenegger sign SB 840 only attracted a modest crowd,” the newsletter reported. “When Senator Kuehl held her press conference in February to introduce her bill, busloads of supporters packed the State Capitol hearing room.” 

Citing concerns about the health care crisis voiced by such corporations as IBM, Costco, General Electrics, and Kelly Services, the organization said that “the clearly increasing sense of urgency among business leaders to find a genuine solution to our health care crisis can’t help but contribute to our momentum.” 

Kuehl’s bill would provide health care coverage for all Californians through a single, state-developed health care system, the so-called “single payer” system. 

According to the 88 page bill’s language, SB 840 “would establish the California Universal Healthcare System to be administered by the newly created California Universal Healthcare Agency under the control of a Universal Healthcare Commissioner appointed by the Governor and subject to confirmation by the Senate.  

The bill would make all California residents eligible for specified health care benefits under the California Universal Healthcare System, which would, on a single-payer basis, negotiate for or set fees for health care services provided through the system and pay claims for those services.  

The bill would require the commissioner to seek all necessary waivers, exemptions, agreements, or legislation to allow various existing federal, state, and local health care payments to be paid to the California Universal Healthcare System, which would then assume responsibility for all benefits and services previously paid for with those funds.” 

Last year, Kuehl’s bill did not include a mechanism for how this universal health care would be funded, with the Senator only calling for a commission to determine the financing once the bill became law. 

This year, Kuehl has introduced tax increase legislation (SB 1014) that would fund universal health care. While the original bill, SB 840, only requires a majority vote in both houses of the legislature for passage, the tax revenue SB 1014 bill requires a two-thirds vote for passage. That means it will need support from at least some legislative Republicans, who account for more than one-third of the legislature. 

State Senate President Pro Tempore Don Perata (D-Oakland) and Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez (D-Los Angeles) have introduced separate health care coverage expansion bills themselves, Perata under the California Health Care Coverage and Cost Control Act (SB 48) and Nuñez under the Fair Share Health Care Act (AB 8).  

Neither bill calls for universal health care coverage in California. Meanwhile, Senate Republicans have introduced their own bills to expand health care coverage. Last January, Senate Republicans introduced a bill under the name Cal CARE that would, not surprisingly, take a market-based approach, among other things “creat[ing] more consumer options and cultivate marketplace competition by eliminating regulatory hurdles,” “provid[ing] new incentives for hospitals and private industry to increase the number of clinics,” and “increas[ing] the number of Californians with health coverage by offering incentives to employers who offer health care coverage for their employees.”  

Assembly Republicans have introduced 19 separate bills addressing the health care crisis. 

Perata said at a health care town hall meeting in Oakland last month that he and Nuñez would be meeting during the legislative year to work out the differences between their two bills.  

“I will make sure we have at least one Democratic-backed bill and one Republican bill to consider in the conference committee,” Perata said. 

The State Senate president added that while “ultimately a single-payer system is the best way to proceed,” he was hoping to get a law passed and signed this year “which will at least provide accessible and affordable health care for adults in working families in the state, as well as for all children. I don’t know how much we will be able to get done. But I want to get something passed this year rather than nothing.” 

Nuñez agreed at last month’s Oakland forum that while “our goal is universal health care, we don’t have the two-thirds vote necessary to pass a single-payer health care plan. Before we get to the perfect, I want us to get to the possible.” 


Faculty Senate Nears Showdown Over UC-BP Pact

By Richard Brenneman
Tuesday April 17, 2007

UC Berkeley faculty will cast their ballots Thursday on competing resolutions triggered by the largest corporate grant in the history of the American university. 

Questions about the nature of academic freedom, faculty hiring, the increasing reliance on corporate funds and the secrecy shrouding patent-directed research will culminate in an unusual two-hour special session that begins at 1 p.m. in Booth Auditorium at Boalt Hall. 

The key issue is whether or not to create a blue-ribbon committee to oversee the half-billion-dollar research program that BP pl.c.—previously British Petroleum—is now negotiating with university administrators. 

On April 5, student activists in StopBP-Berkeley.org forced university officials to release the previously secret appendices to the winning proposal that led the giant oil firm to pick UCB as the recipient of a complex 10-year funding package. 

Release of the documents sparked a sharp April 12 letter from John M. Simpson of the Santa Monica-based Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights to Chancellor Robert Birgeneau.  

Simpson charged that some of the scientists listed as participants were opponents of the deal and “were shocked to discover that their names and resumes were included,” and accused Birgeneau of a “fundamental mischaracterization” in describing the grant process as open. 

In an earlier letter to the foundation, Birgeneau had said the proposal “was developed in an open, not a secretive way,” citing announcement of the proposal’s formulation in emails to all faculty before it was drafted as well as notification of the academic senate. 

 

Pie charts 

Included in the recently released appendix were two pie charts, the first listing startup companies that had arisen from UC Berkeley by their departments of origin, and the second listing the startups by their commercial sectors. 

The largest two sectors of origin were the Departments of Molecular and Cell Biology with 21 percent of the startups and Electrical Engineering and Computer Science with 20 percent, followed by Chemistry with 15 percent and Bioengineering with 14 percent. 

Collectively, the departments which have given rise to academic entrepreneurialism were heavily over-represented among signatories backing the petition against the special oversight committee, while departments absent from the robes-to-riches pie charts were heavily represented in petitions calling for oversight. 

The Energy Biosciences Institute that BP’s funds will endow will conduct both open research and two parallel tracks of proprietary research, one conducted exclusively by BP scientists and aimed at creating patents that will belong solely to the company and a second, joint track conducted jointly by BP and university researchers that will lead to patents on which the company will have the right of first refusal and share royalties with the university. 

A third track, consisting of research conducted only by university scientists, will yield patents solely to the school. 

 

Letters 

The newly released appendices show that university officials sought and won extensive support from local business associations, as well from Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who addressed a Nov. 20, 2006 letter to Lord John Browne, BP’s CEO. 

Feinstein wrote to “wholeheartedly support” the two proposals presented by UC campuses (UC San Diego had also fielded a proposal of its own). “BP is to be commended for creating a center that will focus on developing new more efficient biofuels as a way to combat climate change,” she wrote. 

Two joint endorsement letters to BP came from corporate organizationa, one from regional business and economic development alliances and the other from BayBio, an interest group of regional biotechnology firms. 

“There is no other region in the world,” the first declared, “that matches the Bay Area’s depth and breadth of research excellence, entrepreneurial vigor, and technological advancement. 

The 15 signatories to that first letter included leading officials of the San Francisco, Oakland and Santa Rosa chambers of commerce, as well as the Solano Economic Development Council, the Contra Costa Council, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, the Bay Area Council, the East Bay Economic Development Alliance, the San Francisco Center for Economic Development, the Tri-Valley Business Council, the Bay Area Economic Forum and the Napa Valley Economic Development Council.  

The BayBio letter pledged the support of “investors, entrepreneurs and industry executives dedicated to bringing clean energy technologies to the marketplace.” 

One of the 32 signatories to the BayBio letter was Neal Gutterson, president and CEO of Mendel Technology. Geneticist Chris Somerville, whose controversial hire by UCB Chancellor Robert Birgeneau is one of the reasons critics sought Thursday’s academic senate meeting, chairs the firm’s board of directors and is its leading scientist. 

Somerville is expected to play a leading role in EBI, as is LBNL/UCB academic entrepreneur Jay Keasling, a founder of Amyris Biotechnology—the firm that hired BP’s American fuels operations president John G. Melo while the university was bidding for the half-billion-dollar grant. 

Another, separate letter, from Cisco Systems Vice President Patrick Finn, promised the computer network firm’s support for the EBI and its programs. 

The appendix also included “Five Universities You Can Do Business With,” a February 2006 article from Inc. Magazine. Author Carl Schramm described five schools “that constitute the elite of the technology transfer world. They are Berkeley, Caltech, Stanford, MIT, and Wisconsin.” 

Half of the appendices consists of resumes, both detailed and brief, of scientists who have signed on to participate in the research and descriptions of the labs where work will be conducted until a special-purpose facility can be built, partly with the help of $40 million in state funds promised by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. 

The document is now available at the EBI’s web site at www.ebiweb.org/proposal.htm. 

 

Faculty critics 

Critics fear that accepting a grant of unprecedented scale from Big Oil without special oversight could lead to a wide range of consequences, and contend that special oversight is needed to weigh the agreement’s impacts both with the campus and outside. 

Some, like agricultural specialists Miguel Altieri, Ignacio Chapela and Andrew Paul Gutierrez, say they fear that production of crops for conversion to fuel—the cornerstone of the BP-funded project—could wreak severe consequences in lesser-developed countries, including replacement of food crops with plants grown to fuel the cars of U.S. motorists. 

Chapela is also a leading critic of the handling of genetically modified organisms (GMO), including the crops with tweaked genes that form one of the central elements in the BPI proposal. His research found genes from GMO corn invading the genomes of native species deep in Mexico, a country that bans import of GMOs. 

Somerville, the recently hired UCB/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory geneticist, has ridiculed GMO fears, contending that the worst result that’s ever happened “has been a mild rash.” 

Other concerns raised by critics have included the broader questions involving the increasing reliance of public universities on corporate funding, and its impacts on the shaping of the curriculum, the availability of funds for research programs, the relative pay of faculty across departments and the impacts on students. 

The university’s Graduate Assembly has passed a resolution calling for the same type of oversight that faculty critics seek, and is asking for two seats on the panel as well as independent funding for a research program to examine the “ethical, geopolitical and environmental impacts of biofuels.


Deal Looks Familiar to Novartis Grant Reviewer

By Richard Brenneman
Tuesday April 17, 2007

To Alan P. Rudy, the furor surrounding the developing half-billion-dollar research pact between BP and UC Berkeley is deja vu writ large. 

“I’ve been following it closely, and lo and behold, it reminds me of something I have seen before. It seems like the same players as before. It’s striking,” he said. 

A professor of sociology, Rudy was one of nine Michigan State University researchers hired by Berkeley’s Academic Senate four years ago to review Berkeley’s previously most controversial corporate/academic research grant. 

Their widely publicized 188-page report, issued on July 13, 2004, examined the research agreement between Novartis, a Swiss agricultural and chemical industry giant, and the Department of Plant and Microbial Biology (PMB) of the College of Natural Resources. 

While concluding that the worst fears of critics hadn’t been realized, the MSU team concluded that massive corporate grants posed vexing problems for academia, and recommended special steps to avoid them—recommendations which one MSU researcher said provoked only “a sort of resounding silence after we handed them in.” 

Among nine specific recommendations, the first three are strikingly resonant with the ongoing controversy over the BP grant, which involves 40 times the money and many more faculty: 

“1. Avoid industry agreements that involve complete academic units or large numbers of researchers. 

“2. Reassess in a comprehensive fashion the implications of non-financial and institutional conflicts of interest. 

“3. Encourage broad debate early in the process of research agendas.” 

With the Novartis agreement, the investigators concluded, “debate came too late for some participants to exercise meaningful degrees of freedom.” In the future, they concluded, Berkeley faculty and administrators may wish to engage in timely reviews of institutional commitments to the dominant paths of scientific research in their formative years, especially when faced with public controversy.” 

 

Novartis 

On Nov. 13, 1998, the Novartis Agricultural Discovery Institute and the university signed a five-year, $25 million funding agreement, of which two-thirds would go to PMB and the remainder to covering indirect costs. 

Critics voiced fears that by signing on a whole department the university risked losing autonomy to a corporate funder which could—among other things—control research into channels that were profitable for the company while ignoring other research that might be more beneficial to others but less profitable to corporate stockholders. 

Criticisms of the Novartis agreement led first to an internal review on campus, and then the hiring in early 2001 of the team of researchers from Michigan State’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Standards to examine the agreement, its impacts and its implications. 

Lawrence Busch, a Distinguished Professor of sociology at MSU, was named principal investigator, and Rudy and four other colleagues were chosen as co-principal investigators, aided by three research assistants. 

Their study concluded that the worst fears of critics hadn’t materialized, but they warned that Novartis affair had raised profound questions about Berkeley—and about all public universities—in the changing political and economic environments of the early 21st century. 

The lack of response to the Michigan State study wasn’t in itself terribly surprising, said Rudy, now a professor at Central Michigan University. 

“If Derek Bok, who had been president of Harvard University, can be ignored when he writes a book that says ‘hold on, we’re doing a lot of things at American universities that can have real consequences,’ then it’s not that surprising.” 

Bok’s critique, Our Underachieving Colleges, was published in December 2005. 

Rudy said he wasn’t surprised that most media coverage has ignored the key role played by genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in the university’s proposal to BP. 

“The places for open conversation on these issues have not followed through,” he said. 

One result of the MSU team’s research has just borne new fruit. 

The authors of the Novartis study have revised their original report and expanded it to cover the broader issues raised for American academia. Universities in the Age of Corporate Science: The UC Berkeley-Novartis Controversy was published in January by Temple University Press. 

“One of the things our report concluded was that this kind of agreement was most likely to happen at a place like Berkeley, but it’s also particularly most likely to be resisted at a place like Berkeley,” Rudy said. 

“If it happened at an institution of significantly lower status, the resistance would be much lower,” he said. “But one of the things that was attractive to Novartis is the great faculty.” 

One issue of concern, he said, could be shared governance—the delicate balance struck between faculties and administration in tenure and other key decisions. 

Another issue is proprietary research and the restrictions it poses on sharing information at an institution with a primary responsibility to teach, to share information rather than hoard it. 

Engineering departments, he said, have solved the problem to a greater degree than many other specialties. “They found it quite an impediment to good science, and they have moved away from privatization” of research and away from exclusive agreements—though corporations are still willing to fund the departments, he said.  

“That’s a different model of corporate science. That’s a suggestion, but I don’t know if it’s right for biotech and agroecology,” he said. 

Another, and potentially deeper structural problem lies in a political environment where both left and right have raised neo-libertarian critiques of government. The future of the state-supported university is in flux, he said. 

“Michigan is in a severe fiscal crisis,” he said, “but in no way can anyone talk about new taxes. Government is held to be evil and the market is the solution. Yet people also get upset that their garbage isn’t being picked up and their streets aren’t being cleaned.


Hancock Sponsors Global Warming Forum

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Tuesday April 17, 2007

Assemblymember Loni Hancock sponsored her second major public gathering in her assembly district in two months, holding a town hall meeting on global warming at Berkeley City College that attracted several hundred participants and presentations from several local and state agencies.  

The event was an early kickoff in Berkeley for International Earth Week, an environmental education event that runs through Friday. 

Last month, Hancock sponsored a town hall forum on health care reform at Oakland City Hall. Hancock has been active on both issues in Sacramento, but is stepping up her visibility in her East Bay district in part in anticipation of a possible run for the California State Senate in 2008. 

“Climate change is the truly great scientific, ethical, economic, and political challenge of our time,” Hancock said in her opening remarks to a packed BCC auditorium crowd, adding that to combat the rising tide of global warming “is going to require a cultural shift.” 

Berkeley, which shifted culturally several decades ago, indicated that it is already leading the way. 

Several of the day’s presenters—including California Public Utilities Commissioner Dian Grueneich and Bay Area Air Quality Management District Director of Planning and Research Henry Hilken—said that they lived in Berkeley, and Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates noted that the number of Berkeley residents who were working in local and state agencies and specializing in environmental protection concerns showed how Berkeley was leading the way on such issues. 

“This is an issue that Berkeleyans can work together on to put aside all of our differences,” Bates said. 

That prompted presenter Lynda Deschambault, vice mayor of Moraga, to note, “I’m glad to say that I’m not from Berkeley.” 

The crowd grew silent, not quite understanding what she meant, but the mood eased considerably when Deschambault explained, “we need to have a diverse representation from different communities on this issue. We can’t tackle it only in one location.” 

The day began with a brief presentation by Sierra Club Deputy Executive Director Bruce Hamilton on the “consequences of inaction.” He said he had the “unenviable task of scaring you out of your socks.” 

Hamilton noted that because of its geographical location, the United States “will not be hit as hard as other areas” if a major environmental disaster sparked by global warming occurs.  

Instead, Hamilton said the tropics and the area of both poles will witness the most environmental damage. Hamilton called that “ironic, because the United States is the biggest polluter of the planet.” 

He predicted that up to a million separate species “could become extinct” in a global warming catastrophe, more than half of the 1.8 million species so far identified and named by scientists. 

With that information familiar to most in the environmentally-savvy crowd, most of the day’s presentations were made up of a series of brief reports on how well California is doing in leading the nation in battling global warming, and referring to website links with detailed reports on how, and in what specific areas, the state can do better. 

“California spends $900 million per year on energy efficiency; we are head and shoulders above other states,” said PUC Commissioner Grueneich, who called herself “the lead commissioner on energy efficiency.” 

She said that area of activity was “the key to success for global warming. It’s the only one which saves money. For every dollar spent on energy efficiency, you save two dollars in energy costs.” 

Will Travis, Executive Director of the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission, warned of the consequences of rising bay waters if action is not taken, with the possibility of the swamping of several low-lying developments.  

Travis said that with a three-degree rise in world temperature by the year 2100, the most optimistic projection, the bay will rise five inches. With a 10-degree temperature rise, the most pessimistic, the bay will rise three feet. Travis called that ironic, since it would return the bay to the water volume it had in 1849, prior to decades of landfill and development along its shores.  

But he said that could wipe out several key facilities and communities that have developed along the bayshore, including both the San Francisco and Oakland airports and one-quarter of the city of Richmond. The bay water rise would also alter the salinity in the lower delta where California gets much of its drinking water supply, making some of that water undrinkable. 

“It’s too late to prevent climate and sea rise,” Hamilton said. “Nothing we do will stop that over the next two decades. We’re like the captain of the Titanic. Once he saw the iceberg, it was too late to turn around. But we can soften the blow.” 

Hamilton said that no one state agency has the authority to impose flood plans on Bay Area communities, which are covered by 26 municipal or county governments. He said that while there is a movement to have these government entities come up with their own plans, “my fear is that we will have 25 good flood plans, and one that isn’t.”  

With a reference to Katrina and New Orleans, he noted “and as we know, all it takes for a flood to occur is if you have one bad levee. We need to develop regional cooperation.” 

Hancock said that California is taking the lead in the newly-invigorated environmental movement. Referring to AB 32, California’s landmark greenhouse gas emission curb legislation that was signed into law last fall, she said, “California was not sitting around on our hands, waiting for the federal government to act. Truly, the whole world is watching California right now.”  

But with the state now charged with meeting a statewide greenhouse gas emissions cap by the year 2020, Hancock said that “the difference between a dream and a pipe dream is in the implementation. That’s the phase we are in now.” 

Meanwhile, the threat of global warming is causing a return to some solutions long thought dead, at least in the progressive East Bay. Daniel Kammen, director of the UC Berkeley Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory, suggested that the need to curb carbon emissions means “we are going to need to discuss the possibility of discussing a return to the building of nuclear power plants; that’s going to make some people uncomfortable.” 

Hancock reported that there was already a bill to lift the current ban on more nuclear power plants (AB 719, Assemblymember Chuck DeVore, R-Irvine), which was scheduled for debate on Monday in Hancock’s Natural Resources Committee.  

“We don’t want to trade one poison for another,” Hancock said. 


Downtown Committee Looks At UC Sites, Green Planning

By Richard Brenneman
Tuesday April 17, 2007

The Downtown Area Plan Advisory Committee (DAPAC) will make a second try Wednesday at revising a report on city policies regarding UC Berkeley’s plans for the city center. 

The Subcommittee on City Interests in UC Properties presented its report initially on March 7, and the version to be considered this week incorporates revisions made at that meeting. 

DAPAC members will face one new item of business Wednesday: The first draft of the plan’s Environmental Sustainability Element, which outlines the issue committee members have agreed will provide the plan’s overarching theme. 

The 25-page document was drafted by three professional planners—Matt Taecker, hired by the city with university funds to work on the new plan, and UC Berkeley planners Judy Chess and Jennifer McDougall—and Berkeley environmentalist Juliet Lamont. 

Nine primary objectives are identified, ranging from promoting development of and cooperation among local and regional environmental management programs to reducing solid and hazardous wasters, conserving water and restoring creeks, maintaining trees and natural habitat, supporting sustainable regional agriculture and reducing use of nonrenewable energy consumption. 

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


KyotoUSA Backs Solar Project at Washington School

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Tuesday April 17, 2007

Helios in Greek myth was the sun god who drove a chariot daily from east to west across the sky and sailed across the ocean each night in a huge cup. 

KyotoUSA, a volunteer group which encourages cities to work with their governments to reduce greenhouse emissions, is all set to redefine the word in its own way.  

“The HELiOS project stands for Helios Energy Lights Our Schools,” said Tom Kelly, a Berkeley resident and member of KyotoUSA who spoke in favor of a solar project at Washington Elementary School at the Berkeley Board of Education meeting last week. “The Washington school project is our way of demonstrating that we can achieve even more than personal reductions in Green House Gas emissions and do it in a way that has many important benefits.” 

The Berkeley Unified School District estimates the cost of the project to be $1,250,000, which takes into account the cost of putting in photovoltaic panels as well as replacing the current roof. 

The board refrained from approving the project Wednesday, putting on hold an opportunity for staff to apply for $750,000 in funds from the Office of Public School Construction (OPSC) and ratification of an application for $305,000 in PG&E funds. 

The school bond Measure AA would contribute $195,000 toward the cost. The OPSC funds could also be used for other construction needs at Washington, but the district would first have to identify funds to make the 40 percent match. 

“We had not thought about the new roof or the soft costs when we first came up with the project,” Kelly said. “As a result we had calculated the cost of the project to be $800,000. But I guess the roof is old and needs to be repaired.” 

School superintendent Michele Lawrence told the Planet Monday that repair of the roof at Washington Elementary had been long pending. 

“The solar project is a good project, but we have many good projects. That is the most difficult part,” she said. “We have provided the board with a lot of information and they need to deliberate how the HELiOS project falls in line with the others.” 

Kelly said that KyotoUSA had discussed the possibility of carrying out the HELiOS project at several Berkeley school sites but had finally decided on Washington Elementary. 

“KyotoUSA is made up of volunteers, not financial moguls or energy experts,” he said. “We want to start with a small project. We also need a school with a good roof, one that gets a lot of sun and does not have a lot of things on it. Washington also has a single meter for the main building which is what we are looking for.” 

Kelly said that Berkeley High School would also be a great location for the project but would be more expensive. 

School board directors were divided in their opinion about the solar project and asked staff to come back with a comprehensive report on payback figures. 

“It’s a pilot project because solar systems are something that public as well as private entities will need to look at sometime in the future,” said BUSD Facilities Manager Lew Jones. “The Washington project is risk-free as it will allow us to leverage several sources of capital without using the General Fund.” 

Kelly told the Planet that the $3,054 cost to secure the PG&E rebate fund had already been paid by KyotoUSA donors. “We have 60 days from April 16 to submit the next ‘Proof of Project Milestone’ or the rebate reservation expires.” 

School board director John Selawsky stressed the same point at the meeting. 

“If we don’t do this in the next six months, the $305,000 in funds is going to become $225,000,” he said. “We are not inventing the project. It has been done before.” School districts in San Jose and San Diego and some individual schools in Marin have installed solar in their schools in the past. 

Benefits of the HELiOS project to the district and the community claimd by proponents include: 

• Significant cost savings to the district over the life of the system 

• Environmental benefits including reduction in fossil fuel use, cleaner air and reduced GHGs 

• Educational benefits that will flow from the presence of a PV system. 

• Bringing in new donors and volunteers to assist in expanding the project beyond Washington School and the City of Berkeley 

• Giving students tangible evidence that adults were taking climate change seriously and are doing something about it 

Washington consumed approximately 170,560 KwH in energy and paid around $25,505 in electricity costs in 2006.  

The size of the proposed PV system is 100KW (manufacturer’s rating), and it would produce 154,000 KwH annually—enough to cover 100 percent of the main building’s electricity needs. There is also a 25-year-old warranty on the panels. 

“$25,000 will be saved in electricity bills in the first year and it will be more after that as energy costs will increase by 5 percent every year,” said Kelly. “Whatever the savings are, the district can put it into their General Fund or the Bond Fund.” 

KyotoUSA proposed a model to the BUSD that allows the community to raise money to make the project “cost-neutral.” 

“Cost-neutral means that the district will simply pay a lender for the PV system instead of paying PG&E for electricity,” said Kelly. “We are addressing questions that the school board brought up at the meeting—such as payback, rebates and matching funds—right now. This project is a necessity. We need to find ways to change from fossil fuel energy to renewable energy and we need to do it soon.”


Two-Story Additions Dominate Zoning Agenda

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Tuesday April 17, 2007

The Berkeley Zoning Adjustments Board (ZAB) set the appeal of an application for an administrative use permit for 933 Keeler Ave. for public hearing at the board meeting Thursday. 

Applicant Ken Winfield was denied a permit for construction of a second story atop an existing one-story detached garage, set back five feet from the property line abutting the street and two feet from the property line to the north, with an average height of 24 feet and a maximum height of 26 feet. 

The zoning officer denied the permit because: 

• The project was inconsistent with the existing pattern of development in the neighborhood; 

• The height of the proposed building exceeded the development standards for an accessory building and would shadow an adjacent neighbor; 

• The conditions necessary to exceed the height and story limit in the Hillside Overlay District were not present. 

The site—which is located at the corner of Keeler Avenue and Forest Lane, one block west of Grizzly Peak and one block south of Marin—is situated in a neighborhood that mostly consists of single-family homes ranging from one to three stories. 

According to the staff report, “garages and accessory buildings within required yard setbacks are not uncommon. However, there is not a pattern of two-story accessory buildings within the required front yard setback in the neighborhood.” 

According to Winfield’s appeal: 

• There is a pattern of two-story accessory buildings within required setbacks and fronting the public right of way in the neighborhood 

• The development would not in-crease shadowing to the adjacent neighbor due to existing trees 

• The subject property meets the conditions necessary to support an exception to exceed height and stories outlined in the purposes of the Hillside Overlay District 

The board continued an appeal for a permit to allow construction at a single-family residential building at 2008 Virginia St. to May 24. 

Applicant Lorin Hill had requested the permit to construct a 1,434-square-foot addition, raising the existing structure approximately six feet to create habitable space on the ground level, and expanding the footprint of the building to create a two-story west wing. 

Neighbors are appealing the AUP because they are concerned that the additional height will block air and light. 

On Jan. 25, ZAB board members had asked the applicant to put up story poles at the site of the building so that the ZAB and neighbors could get a better visual representation of the project. Staff reported that during this process the applicant had modified the proposed project in a way that could satisfy the appellant’s concerns. 

The applicant and the appellants are in the process of discussing modifications to the original project design. 

The board approved a request for a use permit from Jeff Stein of Berkeley to construct a second-story addition to an existing single-family dwelling unit at 1625 Berkeley Way that would be non-conforming in lot coverage and west (left) side yard setback.  

Some neighbors were concerned about the additional story, which they said would block sunlight and air and invade their privacy. 

The board also approved the request for a use permit from Chris Williams of Oakland to establish a yoga studio with incidental retail sale of yoga accessories in an existing, 800-square-foot tenant space at 3320 Adeline St. Staff recommends approval of the project. 


Ask Alberto Gonzales: What About Petrona Tomas?

By Hilary Abramson, New America Media
Tuesday April 17, 2007

Somebody should ask Attorney General Alberto Gonzales (or whoever takes his job) about Petrona Tomas. 

At age 11, the little girl was sold by her father to a man in their native Guatemala. Fearing for her life, three years later she was smuggled out to live with her brother in Lake Worth, Florida, where she was sold out by law enforcement authorities. 

Speaking English and Spanish—both incomprehensible to Petrona Tomas—officers allowed her father to waive her Miranda rights. She was charged as an adult with the first-degree murder of the 2.8-pound premature infant she delivered on the bathroom floor. And they imprisoned her for one-and-a-half years in a jail for adults while she awaited trial. 

The only facts that were clear from the start in 2002, until the case was well underway, was that Petrona Tomas received neither medical nor legal communication in a language she spoke or understood. And that federal law defines this as discrimination and that the U.S. Department of Justice is supposed to oversee and enforce that law—Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. 

The teenager, who was illiterate and understood little more than a Mayan dialect, was headed for possible life in prison. A month after Petrona’s arrest, a group of women from her remote mountain village wrote a letter to the U.S. government pleading for justice for the child. They had it translated into English and delivered to an American lawyer vacationing in the area. Once home, the tourist passed it to Isabel Framer, a recognized consultant on court interpreting. The following month, Framer filed a discrimination complaint with the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice against the Lake Worth police and sheriff’s departments and the Palm Beach [County] Circuit Court. 

Ask the attorney general of the United States why it took three years to forge an agreement with Lake Worth police to develop a language plan that should have already been in place. A small city in Palm Beach County, Lake Worth has a large Latino population and enough Mayan languages to be considered a Mayan village. Guaranteeing accurate communication for a population of significant size in a community is the heart of Title VI. 

Ask Gonzales why the agreement last month was signed three days before Wan J. Kim, assistant attorney general of his Civil Rights Division, addressed the division’s first national conference on language access. Kim called the agreement an example of “doing the right thing.” 

Ask the attorney general why the investigation is described as “ongoing” by his department spokesmen. 

Presumably, this is because agreements with the sheriff’s department and court have yet to be reached. In the view of Bruce Adelson, a civil rights attorney who left Justice last year, the Petrona Tomas case was “so egregious,” it should have been taken care of “quickly and firmly, to send a message to law enforcement everywhere.” 

The lesson came too late for Lake Worth police, who evicted eight Guatemalan families from their building one night last year, allegedly using a ruse of code violations and giving them 30 minutes to clear out. The Florida Equal Justice Project has filed a discrimination lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of Florida against the city of Lake Worth, claiming selective code enforcement under the Fair Housing Act. A trial is set for next August. 

 

Petrona, who had run away because the man she lived with in Guatemala beat her, thought Lake Worth police were going to hit her during their interrogation. So when they nodded their heads, she nodded hers. This and other behavior added up to a confession to police. To them, it meant that she had delivered a premature daughter in a breach birth, stuffed a wad of toilet paper down her throat, another wad in her ear, and put her in a plastic bag in the bathroom garbage can. Petrona’s brother’s wife and the wife’s mother had found the teen unconscious in a pool of blood and called 911. They were never deposed for court, and the older woman reportedly returned to Guatemala. 

 

Ask Alberto Gonzales where civil rights under Title VI rank with the leadership of the Department of Justice. Title VI is perhaps the least known and most powerful section of the Civil Rights Act. A person with limited or no ability to speak or understand English is guaranteed free, “meaningful” access to language assistance wherever medical outlets and law enforcement receive federal funding. 

Timely response to complaints with aggressive enforcement are absent in most cases at both Justice and at the Office of Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which investigates medical interpreting issues. Health’s regional office in North Carolina is among the few known for living up to its promise. Only recently, an investigator at the Health Department’s regional office in Dallas reported that new information has been requested in a seven-year, “active investigation” into lack of medical interpreting at the University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque. 

“I could care less at this point—seven years later—what the feds do,” says Gail Evans, senior attorney at the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty. Its attorneys filed the complaint on behalf of a group of non-profits that represent limited-English-proficient patients. “We’ve never had a response from the feds to our calls and letters. We finally moved forward through the courts ourselves, and then the hospital wanted to work it out. We now have a community committee of hospital administration and advocates that meets every week. They’ve been taking huge steps in solving the problem and are doing some really good stuff.” 

In this world of policy, “good stuff” requires understanding that interpreting is a profession that demands study and has standards. It involves educating medical and legal professionals how to comply with Title VI, such as using trained interpreters instead of family members who don’t know medical terminology and are too close to the patient. The bulk of Justice and Health civil rights work today involves conducting such workshops. But administrators of top law enforcement and medical facilities should have known what they are expected to do about language access since 2000. That year, then-President Clinton signed an executive order putting Justice in charge of written federal guidelines to spell out Title VI compliance standards. 

 

It is Mayan custom to prepare a body for burial by putting cloth in orifices. Later—much later—Petrona Tomas communicated that she did not stuff tissue down her newborn’s throat, which the autopsy ruled killed her. Petrona said that she did not even know she was pregnant until she delivered. She said that during the month’s dangerous travel from Guatemala to Lake Worth with a group led by smugglers, she was raped by the “coyote,” chief smuggler, and assumed the baby was his. 

 

In the lingo of Gonzales’ Civil Rights Division, enforcement is complaint-driven, as in the case of Petrona Tomas, and the statutes demand that investigators seek “voluntary compliance.” The agency has the authority to insert itself into any Title VI investigation, but chooses to avoid stepping on the toes of other agencies, especially the Health Department. In 2003, that department’s civil rights department watered down its Title VI guidelines by changing words like “must”—called for in Justice’s guidance—to “may.” Justice was silent. Because it has authority over Title VI, the Justice Department could have forced the issue, and by doing nothing confused many program leaders around the country about the agencies’ mixed compliance messages. 

For nearly the last decade, limited-English-speaking patients at the Maine Medical Center could have used aggressive oversight of Title VI by the Department of Justice. Center administrators signed an agreement in 1991 to provide medical interpreting in two languages and to add more languages as time went by. 

In 1997, an activist filed a complaint with the Department of Health under Title VI. For the next nine years, local advocates reported in vain to investigators that the agreement had fallen apart. Last year, the Maine Department of Health and Human Services signed a new agreement pledging to provide trained interpreters to people who receive Medicaid, child welfare and other social services. 

 

More than 23 million people residing in the United States have little or no English skills. The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, which accredits about 80 percent of U.S. hospitals, spent the past three years studying 60 [unidentified] hospitals across the country through the lens of language access. Considering that half of the hospitals are the most experienced at serving diverse communities, some of the study’s conclusions were a letdown even to the authors. Besides offering mostly telephonic interpreting services that some hospital staff report difficult to use, the majority of the hospitals still rely on bilingual staff as interpreters. They may be adept at colloquial speech, but untrained in the profession of accurate medical interpreting, which can make the difference between life and death. 

The Joint Commission released another study within the past month about the differences in negative medical outcomes (from moderate physical harm to death) between English-speaking and limited-English-speaking patients. According to that study conducted over seven months in 2005 in six hospitals, 49 percent of patients with limited English skills had negative experiences. Some involved physical harm. Only 29.5 percent of English-speaking patients had experiences resulting in physical harm. Communication errors were responsible for more than half the negative experiences for patients without English skills. They were tracked at 36 percent of the reasons for English speakers’ bad medical experiences. 

In his beltway speech to more than 300 interpreters, advocates and government workers on Title VI issues from across the country, Assistant Attorney General Kim proudly announced the upcoming 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Division. He invoked the memory of John Doar, the fourth U.S. Assistant Attorney General for civil rights. It was Doar who literally lived with James Meredith in 1962 to ensure his safety as the first African-American student to enroll at the University Mississippi. It was Doar who led the investigation and prosecution of the murder of three civil rights workers in Philadelphia, Mississippi. 

It’s too late to rewrite the Johnny-Come-Lately role of DOJ in the case of Petrona Tomas. To earn its anniversary celebration of the legacy of the Civil Rights Division, the Department of Justice must enforce Title VI with the integrity and zeal of John Doar. 

 

There is a movie in the works on the life of Petrona Tomas. Due to relentless advocacy for Petrona by immigration attorney Aileen Josephs and Sister Rachel Sena, director of the Maya Ministry for the Palm Beach Diocese, local newspapers published stories about Framer’s complaint to Justice. 

Only after Lake Worth realized the Department of Justice was involved was Petrona released from jail into the safekeeping of Linda and John Taft, a retired Vermont couple who winter in Palm Springs County. They legally adopted Petrona last year. 

Active in Catholic social service work in Lake Worth, the couple spent their careers working with delinquent and dependent children and social policy. John Taft spent five years as director of the Vermont Law Enforcement Training Council. Although they came into Petrona’s life late in her legal struggle, they wonder why it took the Department of Justice three years to take a judicial stick to Lake Worth. John Taft says his biggest regret is recommending that Petrona accept the plea offer to juvenile child endangerment that included probation. He was afraid that Petrona would fail to receive justice in a Lake Worth trial. Petrona’s probation ended on Dec. 14, 2004, with the judge saying that Petrona had done “everything the judicial system can expect of her.” 

For the Tafts, the question now is what Petrona failed to get from the justice system. 

“I told Petrona when police signed the agreement with the Justice Department that maybe it will make things better for other people in the future,” says Linda Taft. “She doesn’t feel as badly as I do. No one came to my daughter and said, ‘We didn’t give you what you needed.’ I am very disappointed and angry.’” 

At 19, Petrona visits the grave of the newborn she named Angela. She graduated in the top third of her high school class and speaks Spanish and English. Besides studying, she works with mothers, infants and toddlers at the Maya Ministry Center. In the summer, the Tafts love to watch her run like a child through the peaceful, Vermont landscape. 

 

Hilary Abramson, a contributing editor for New America Media, researched language access on a grant from the Fund for Investigative Journalism.


Berkeley Businesses Blaze a Green Trail

By Marta Yamamoto, Special to the Planet
Tuesday April 17, 2007

How strong is your commitment to the environment? Is it strong enough to make you alter your lifestyle, switch from favored products or seek out and support environmentally conscious businesses? 

Many Berkeley businesses believe it is. In accord with their own philosophies, rather than as a marketing ploy, they have complied with county environmental regulations to achieve Green Business Certification. Working through Green Business Programs, Thimmakka and other third-party certification programs, nearly 100 Berkeley businesses market environmental products and services and maintain eco-efficient operations. 

Their efforts to conserve natural resources, prevent pollution and divert tons of waste from landfills move all of us closer to a society whose “development meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (from the World Commission on Environment and Development report, 1987.) 

Who are these leaders of sustainability? What’s their motivation, their rewards? Regardless of area of commerce, size of business and cultural background, Berkeley’s Green Businesses have blazed a clear, easily followed trail, not across arduous mountains, but through a serene, verdant valley. A path easily followed. 

Green certification focuses on four areas of conservation and prevention—water, energy, solid waste and hazardous materials. Of the seven businesses interviewed for this article, a few were required to undertake major changes while others were already “greenish.”  

Cassie Cyphers, Sustainability Associate at Clif Bar, praised Berkeley and Pam Evans of the Alameda County Green Business Program for “reaching out to businesses, walking them through the program and finding the resources to make necessary changes.” She said, “They look at what you’re doing and what you need to do for certification.” Bob Gerner, General Manager of the Natural Grocery Store concurred: “The program encourages retailers and provides the guidelines.” 

“REI worked with East Bay Mud and installed aerators on all water faucets,” reported Amber Hoffman, from REI’s Green Team. “We decreased water usage by 2-gallons per minute.” Ruta Primlani, Executive Director of Thimmakka, works with restaurant owners. She explained how one device, the pre-rinse spray nozzle “can save a restaurant up to $1200 yearly.” Critical to many businesses, Primlani noted, “The nozzle is available free and is installed for free.”  

PG&E is the go-to for energy-saving, usually in the form of low mercury lighting. “The major change Inkworks Press took for certification was the lights,” explained Bernard Marszalek, Marketing Manager. “We were already compliant because many of our customers are environmentalists.”  

“Clif Bar has formed a partnership with Native Energy, buying credits to build new wind farms,” said Diana Simmons, Sustainability Manager. 

One of the greatest ecological benefits is in the area of solid waste disposal. REI worked with Berkeley in creating a pilot program that takes huge quantities of plastic wrapping and makes them into bales. Through Thimmakka, Green restaurants can recycle and compost 83 percent of their solid waste. 

The use of post-consumer recycled paper also has a significant impact. Inkworks Press contracts with New Leaf Paper, offering customers 100 percent post-consumer paper for uncoated and 50 percent for coated printings. Marszalek explained, “The post-consumer content is critical; that’s saving landfill.” Post-consumer paper is also utilized by Clif Bar, Natural Grocery and REI. 

Reducing hazardous materials is another Certification requirement. Inkworks and Clif Bar rely on vegetable-based inks for printing, eliminating isopropanol, a source of volatile organic compounds. 

If you’re still in need of an ecological boost, look no further. Examining the basic philosophies behind Berkeley’s Greens is a breath of clean air. Take Pedal Express, described by co-owner Keeeth Kohler. “We’re a stereotypical message service, hauling everything from a sheet of paper to 800 pounds. Being green is inherent in what we do. We were a green business before the term was invented.” 

Being pre-green also resonated with Vital Vittles’ Kass Schwin. “Our whole mission, philosophy and reason for starting our mill and bakery 30 years ago were rooted in green principles.” Echoed Natural Grocery’s Gerner, “Becoming green goes along with our core philosophy of offering organic produce.” “Sustainability is part of Clif Bar’s philosophy,” re-echoed Simmons. 

Green Certification has brought a range of benefits to the queried businesses. Both REI and Clif Bar noted how being green has encouraged employees to continue the process. REI’s Hoffman noted, “Our sensitivity to green issues has been heightened and all our employees are really excited about it.”  

Clif Bar’s Simmons said, “Employees have generated great ideas that have made a deep impact on our business. They feel empowered to bring ideas to the table.” As an example, Simmons explained how plastic shrink-wrap used around boxes was eliminated, a savings of 90,000 pounds for 2003. 

Inkworks sees certification as a goal for other people to attain. Marszalek said, “It’s making a commitment and demonstrating responsibility to the community.”  

Natural Grocery’s Gerner concurred, “Our clientele appreciate we are a Green Business, following through on our basic principles. It makes people feel good about shopping here.” 

Thimmakka’s Primlani sees certification as a means for empowering immigrants. “Though immigrants enter the United States with a predisposition to environmentalism, they don’t know the systems here.” 

In keeping with the concept of sustainability, the green process is ongoing. REI is creating a paper-towel composting program along with educating its customers through printed material. Clif Bar has switched to bio-diesel and is bringing green principles to the public at their sponsored events. 

Those considering certification need look no further than these environmental leaders. Hoffman concluded, “Having environmental practices incorporated into your business makes for a better business solution—you’re helping the environment and cutting your costs.”  

The trail is clearly marked with Green Business logos. Berkeley’s businesses have done their work and their progress toward sustainability continues. Success is in the hands of your commitment. In the words of Ruta Primlani, “Green Businesses deserve to be rewarded, brought up to the front.” Clif Bar encourages everyone to take that first step. Simmons explained, “It’s always a journey.” 

 

 

Photograph: REI, a Berkeley Certified Green  

Business, makes plastic wrapping into bales.


Oppenheimer: The Road to Alamos

By Phil McArdle, Special to the Planet
Tuesday April 17, 2007

In 1943 Robert Oppenheimer left the University of California at Berkeley to become director of the Los Alamos Laboratory in New Mexico, where the first atom bomb was built. He maintained a connection with the university for several more years but never really returned. Instead, he became director of Princeton’s Center for Advanced Study and a consultant to the government on issues raised by atomic weapons. After his political “disgrace” for supposed disloyalty in 1954, he devoted himself to writing, producing essays and books, notably Science and the Common Understanding. President Kennedy cleared his name and “rehabilitated” him in 1963.  

The foregoing hardly suggests Oppenheimer’s historical importance. It is unlikely that anyone else could have performed his role at Los Alamos so successfully. Many of his colleagues considered him, more than any other individual, responsible for the creation of the atomic bomb during World War II. If he had not been there, they believe the atom bomb would not have been developed until after the war.  

Two atom bombs ended the war abruptly and made a profound difference in how the subsequent Russian-American rivalry played out. Because they knew what atom bombs can do, the leaders of the superpowers resisted the perpetual temptation to treat the bombs as just another weapon. The devastation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki caused American and Russian leaders to hold back from the ultimate confrontation. Oppenheimer, who had worked so passionately and with such tunnel vision to create the bombs, came to believe we faced the possibility of nuclear annihilation.  

This extraordinary man was born into a wealthy Jewish family in New York city in 1904. His parents, members of the non-sectarian Ethical Culture Society, sent him to the Society’s school in 1911. His teachers recognized him as a gifted polymath who studied mineralogy and composed poetry with equal enthusiasm. His friendship with the literary critic Francis Fergusson began at the Ethical Culture School.  

Oppenheimer continued writing poetry for many years but after he came under the influence of Professor Percy Bridgman, science became his primary interest. He wrote of Bridgman as “a wonderful teacher because he was never really quite reconciled to things being the way they were... He was a man to whom one wanted to be an apprentice.”  

Oppenheimer’s letters show that his personality was clearly developed by the time he graduated from Harvard. He cultivated a wide range of interests in science and the arts. He had a real gift for friendship, but would speak with wounding sarcasm to people who failed to measure up to his standards. He made close friends and permanent enemies. Physically, he had endurance which enabled him to work hard for extended periods of time. Professor Bridgman described him as a “well set-up young man, with a rather engaging diffidence of manner.”  

When Oppenheimer decided to study physics in Europe, Bridgman recommended him to Sir Ernest Rutherford. Urging the English scientist to find a spot for him at the Cavendish Laboratory, Bridgman wrote, “It appears to me that it is a bit of a gamble as to whether Oppenheimer will ever make any real contributions of an important character, but if he does make good at all, I believe that he will be a very unusual success... .”  

His experience at Cavendish taught Oppenheimer that he had a vocation for physics but not for laboratory work. His problems with experimental equipment appear to have driven him to the edge of a nervous breakdown that manifested itself in erratic behavior. But Rutherford introduced him to Niels Bohr and Max Born. Bohr inspired Oppenheimer, as he wrote, “to learn the trade of being a theoretical physicist.” And Born gave him the opportunity by inviting him to study in Germany at the University of Gottingen.  

Germany was simultaneously liberating and disquieting for Oppenheimer. He recovered his balance and completed his Ph.D. in 1927. He also met Werner Heisenberg and other young German scientists, acquiring real respect for their work. He fell in love with Charlotte Riefenstahl, a fellow student, and courted her unsuccessfully. (Thinking him too self-absorbed, she turned down his proposals and married another physicist instead.) He also encountered the Nazi Party. Its presence at Gottingen gave him personal experience of Nazism long before most Americans ever heard of it. His anger at the Nazis became a constant; he described it as a “smoldering fury.”  

Oppenheimer was living and learning in the midst of some of the most astonishing political and scientific developments of the 20th century. Percy Bridgman, Ernest Rutherford, Niels Bohr, Max Born and Werner Heisenberg—and others of his acquaintance—all won Nobel Prizes. By the time he left Europe he knew “it was an unusual time, that great things were afoot.”  

In the spring of 1929 he traveled to his family’s ranch in New Mexico to recover from tuberculosis. He actually enjoyed his convalescence, finding the desert awesomely beautiful. He wrote, “I have two loves, physics and the desert. It troubles me that I don’t see any way of bringing them together.”  

He began teaching in Berkeley in 1930. Of the university he said, “There was no theoretical physics [there] and I thought it would be nice to try to start something.” Within a few years, he turned Cal into the major American center for the study of theoretical physics. When he taught graduate students, Wendell Furry wrote, he “transmitted ... a feeling of the beauty of the logical structure of physics and an excitement in the development of the science ... His students emulated him as best they could. They copied his gestures, his mannerisms, his intonations. He truly influenced their lives.”  

Oppenheimer and Ernest O. Lawrence, the inventor of the cyclotron, became close friends. They formed the habit of taking long walks together and discussing problems in physics, casually bridging the gap that separated many theoretical and experimental physicists. Lawrence came to rely on Oppenheimer’s judgment on theoretical questions; in turn, he helped Oppenheimer to a better grasp of applied physics. According to David Sloan, Oppenheimer “learned to see the apparatus and to get a feeling for its experimental limitations.... When you couldn’t carry it any farther, you could count on him to understand and to be thinking about the next thing you might want to try.” Oppenheimer’s own studies concerned the theory of nuclear structure, the quantum theory of electrons, collapsing suns, and cosmic ray showers. Jeremy Bernstein considers him to have been a physicist of the highest caliber who, if he had lived longer, might well have been awarded his own Nobel Prize.  

In 1933 Hitler began driving non-Aryan scientists out of Germany and actively persecuting the Jews. Oppenheimer’s personal response was to begin contributing to a fund for the benefit of displaced German scientists. He also began working to get his relatives out of Germany.  

Oppenheimer began a serious relationship with Jean Tatlock in 1936. They came close to marriage but realized they were not temperamentally suited and ended their affair in 1939. A member of the Communist Party, she introduced him to other Berkeley people with left wing sympathies, and he began to make regular contributions to Spanish War Relief and similar causes. In November 1940, he married Katherine Harrison. Looking back on this period of his life many years later, Oppenheimer said, “I liked the new sense of companionship, and at the same time felt I was coming to be part of the life of my time and country.”  

Along with other physicists, Oppenheimer was alarmed by the discovery of nuclear fission in 1938. He realized it made the development of atomic weapons inevitable, and he feared what would happen if the Nazis got them first. In 1939 he began to make rough calculations of critical mass (the amount of uranium necessary to cause an atomic explosion). After the collapse of the Spanish Republic he began looking for a way to defeat fascism that would succeed.  

In 1941 he accepted an invitation from Arthur Compton, the director of the government’s nuclear research project, to attend a special meeting of the National Academy of Sciences at which the military applications of atomic energy would be discussed. Afterward Compton asked him to direct a small program to plan, for the first time as a practical problem, how to produce an atom bomb.  

In the summer of 1942 Oppenheimer and a group of scientists met secretly in Le Conte Hall on the Cal campus. Edward Teller later said Oppenheimer “showed a refined, sure, informal touch” in leading the group’s deliberations. They concluded that “the development of a fission bomb would require a major scientific and technical effort.” An unanticipated problem arose when some of Teller’s calculations indicated that a nuclear explosion might burn up the planet’s atmosphere.  

This was so alarming that Oppenheimer traveled across the country by train to confer with Arthur Compton about it. Compton wrote of their meeting, “We agreed there could be only one answer. Oppenheimer’s team must go ahead with their calculations. Unless they came up with a firm and reliable conclusion that our atomic bombs could not explode the air or the sea, these bombs must never be made.” Further work by Hans Bethe convinced the physicists that an atomic explosion would not destroy the world.  

So the work resumed. Oppenheimer’s involvement increased and, when production was ready to begin, he suggested Los Alamos as the site for the atomic bomb laboratory. His immensely hard work there culminated in the successful test of a bomb at Alamogordo. Thus, he brought his love of physics and the desert together. But in the sober aftermath of the war, while he was still being saluted as a national hero, he said, “I felt as though I had blood on my hands.”  


Opinion

Editorials

Editorial: Gonzales Explains It All, One More Time

By Becky O’Malley
Friday April 20, 2007

The picture that emerges from the appearance of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales before the Senate Judiciary Committee is not one of “high crimes and misdemeanors”—unfortunately. “We should have done a better job of communicating,” he says. “I accept responsibility,” he says, “mistakes were made.” Next thing you know, he’ll be going into rehab. 

Gonzales claimed he never liked the plan to replace the U.S. attorney in Arkansas with one of Karl Rove’s flunkies, and that he was sincere when he told Arkansas Sen. Pryor that the Senate would have a chance to vote on whether Rove’s guy would be confirmed. As the bulldog-like Sen. Charles Schumer made very clear, Gonzales was either lying to Pryor, or he was out of the loop on the elaborate plan to evade the confirmation process which was being hatched by his subordinates. He also claimed absolutely no recall of any of the events or conversations surrounding the attempt to remove Patrick Fitzgerald. His level of asserted non-comprehension of what’s been going on in the Justice Department where he’s supposed to be in charge is breathtaking.  

We’ve had plenty of scoundrels in government in this country before. But this time the criticism of Gonzales is not really that he’s a scoundrel, or even that he’s broken any laws per se, but that he’s a fool. This opinion is obviously bi-partisan, though some Republicans do seem to feel that he’s more to be pitied than censured. 

It is sad when a man doesn’t even know when he’s lying—Gonzales seems to be saying that currents of corruption were swirling all around him, but he was just going with the flow, as we say in California. What’s saddest of all is that there seems to be no evidence that he has ever been on the take in any big way—he’s allowed Justice to go to hell in a handcart for no particular reason except his desire to be considered one of the good ol’ boys.  

Now more than ever, where is Molly Ivins when we need her? We’re seeing on the national level the kind of shenanigans she did such a good job of reporting on from the Texas Legislature. When she spoke in Berkeley in 2004, UC’s press service quoted her: “The spin we’re getting from the White House—that everything is just lovely and that we’re going to bring a beacon of democracy to Iraq—is such happy horseshit,” she said. “I can barely stand to listen to it, and I spent years listening to the Texas Legislature.” And now the Bush administration, in the person of Alberto Gonzales, is treating the nation to yet another unsavory whiff of Texas Lege-style politics.  

Payoffs, especially at the level of mutual back-scratching, have been the special province of another Texas transplant, Karl Rove. Slots as U.S. attorney have been horse-traded as political favors to please senators and others whose support was needed to advance some other agenda. Gonzales freely acknowledged that at least one of the attorneys whose job was in play is an excellent lawyer and a fine manager of staff, but was just the wrong person in the wrong place at the wrong time. Competence and performance had nothing to do with it. 

The way the Iraq war has been handled is another classic example of a situation so messed up you can’t even tell the fools from the knaves. Paul Wolfowitz is a prime case in point. Michael Moore made him look like a stage villain in Fahrenheit 9/11, combing his hair with saliva, but the stories coming out of his short tenure at the World Bank, complete with exotic mistress, make him look more like a buffoon. There’s a faint commedia dell’arte flavor about the whole Bush crowd: Dario Fo does the Texas Legislature perhaps?  

It would even be funny if the consequences weren’t so serious. As many commentators have already pointed out, while the United States. was mourning 32 deaths on a college campus caused by a madman empowered by Virginia’s lax gun control laws, 200 more Iraqis died as a consequence of an invasion which started with an earlier round of the Bush administration’s peculiar signature combination of lies and credulousness.  

One of the key attributes of George W. Bush’s presidency is that he prefers to surround himself in public with weak and incompetent people—what used to be called yes-men, but now includes women like Harriet Miers. The brains behind his regime—and they are certainly there—reside most often in the person of shadowy figures like Karl Rove and Dick Cheney who operate most effectively behind the scenes.  

Do they even know when they’re lying, these Bush stooges? It’s hard to tell.  

When Douglas Feith was peddling the WMD story, did he realize it was faked? When Alberto Gonzales went along with firing U.S. attorneys who were doing their job well, did he realize he was enabling a political purge? His department authorized destructive practices like illegal wiretapping—is he enough of a lawyer to recognize what unconstitutional mischief he was presiding over? 

The profound disgust which is visible on the faces of some of the Republicans on Judiciary as they question Gonzales is striking—they are simply unable to hide their contempt for him. Perhaps even Republicans, for whom there has seldom been a good word in this space, are starting to catch on.  

 

 

 


Editorial: Do We Need More Parking, or Just Smarter Parking?

By Becky O'Malley
Tuesday April 17, 2007

Ah yes, parking. Glad you asked. Today we’re exercising a little-used editorial prerogative, reading an opinion submission before it’s published and responding in the same paper.  

We’ve noted the approach of Earth Day, and been heartened by the number of letters on environmental topics which have accompanied our Earth Day special issues. And of course number one on the list of What Can We Do About It items is the damage done by emissions from conventional gasoline engines.  

Our regular correspondents have continued their usual vigorous exchanges about buses: are buses the answer, or would they be if they worked better? It seems that the most avid riders of buses are their strongest critics, particularly when it comes to the comfort and performance of the particular models AC Transit is currently buying. The consensus which seems to be emerging is that buses MIGHT be the answer, but only if they worked better than they do now. A similar dialogue about the usefulness of ferries is in progress, also with no clear answer as yet. 

And in the meantime, how are people who live in the “large areas of Berkeley [and El Cerrito and Albany and Richmond and Oakland] which are not served by transit” supposed to get their groceries, their books, their movies and their clothes? I agree with Councilmember Capitelli that it’s a hugely complicated question.  

I do think he slightly misunderstood my remarks about parking in my editorial about not scapegoating street behavior for the woes of downtown Berkeley. I didn’t actually say that there is not enough parking downtown. I did say that “shoppers still expect to find a free parking space right in front of the store of their choice”.  

The problem is not how many parking spaces are available, but how many shoppers think there are, and how hard it is to find them. It will never be possible, in older downtowns like Berkeley’s, to recreate the El Cerrito Plaza experience of parking at the front door of the store—even new malls like Emeryville’s Bay Street have had to turn to big garages (or so I’m told, since I confess I’ve never been there.)  

UCLA’s parking theory guru Donald Shoup has pointed out that sensible parking schemes should charge much less for spaces in parking lots and garages, and much more for on-street parking, in order to encourage rapid turnover for people with short errands downtown. This seems to be working well even in places like Pasadena, which already had parking problems when I was in high school there in the fifties. In Santa Cruz you can park in garages off the main street for as little as $2 or even free, but the meters on Pacific are very expensive and patrolled seven days a week until 8 at night. You can almost always park on the street just long enough to pick up a pizza if you’re willing to drop a quarter or two in a meter. In contrast, Berkeley doesn’t have any well-organized parking hierarchy downtown. 

But there’s still enough parking in the downtown-Telegraph area—if you can find it. The Transportation Demand Management Study of a few years ago confirmed that. It’s a question of perception: If you go downtown expecting to be able to park, you will find your spot eventually, though not necessarily at the door of your destination. Spaces in garages are seldom filled up. The TDMS recommended better signs directing cars to available spaces, and some have been put in place, but many more are needed.  

A major problem—one the DAPAC should be addressing—is UC, which controls a large fraction of the available spaces in the downtown-Telegraph area and is reluctant to share them. The huge garage next to Zellerbach is often empty at night, so empty that I’ve seen cheerleaders practicing marching drills in there. Wouldn’t it be great to provide free parking in the Zellerbach Garage with a shuttle bus for downtown moviegoers? Yet UC plans to build still more parking spaces for its commuting workers and students which will be off-limits to shoppers, and DAPAC doesn’t seem to be able to stop them.  

Those who have regular commutes to UC, both workers and students, should be using the available transit options, imperfect though they might be. UC should provide financial incentives: charging more for parking single-occupancy vehicles, reducing prices for carpools, paying for passes. The city of Berkeley should do the same for its own parking garages and lots. 

Transit advocates are indeed sometimes self-righteously unrealistic about the groups Councilmember Capitelli cites: “seniors, young parents, and disabled who rely on single occupancy vehicles for basic transportation.” A lot of people just can’t use bicycles or buses, but a well-designed parking plan could take that into account. Special parking permits could be provided not just for disabled people, but for anyone who can show that they need to use cars sometimes, for example parents who have to pick up kids from childcare.  

Building more parking lots and garages is not the answer to the problems of the downtown retail segment’s problems, however. Like rousting street people, it’s a simple “obvious” solution—much too simple, in fact. I agree wholeheartedly with Mr. Capitelli’s choice of words: Solutions must be “nuanced, balanced and negotiated”.  

Donald Shoup suggests that parking revenues should go directly to the areas where they are collected: What people pay to park downtown should be used to add amenities for shoppers. That could include making public parking more user-friendly, employing pleasant humans as parking attendants and security guards instead of relying on automated systems that are hard to use. But this alone will not bring the right mix of stores to downtown Berkeley. 

I quizzed one of the best-informed experts on Berkeley retail about how business is doing these days: the Planet’s senior advertising account executive. Since she’s talking to business proprietors every day in the interest of selling them ads, she has a very clear idea of what’s working and what’s not. She reports that downtown businesses tell her they’re paying ultra-high rents, hoping for walk-in traffic.  

Unique stores like Games of Berkeley do attract both walk-in and regional customers. Restaurants are hard work and have narrow profit margins, but they are successful for independent owners. Student-oriented specialty businesses, especially clothing, books and music stores, continue to do well on Telegraph, but not if they’re too expensive for the average student. Mall-type chains—which have been welcomed with open arms by the city’s ever-optimistic economic development department, desperate for any kind of sales tax revenues—come and go with surprising rapidity. . 

Single-owners malls (even Berkeley’s Fourth Street) have a great advantage over heterogeneous older shopping areas, in that they can control the mix of retail tenants to create the right “shopping experience”. Business improvement districts don’t work well when they’re controlled by property owners with votes allocated on a square-footage basis, since high rents are a major cause when retail fails. 

In some cities the economic development department is well-enough funded and organized to seek out the right independent retailers and to help them succeed. That’s not the case in Berkeley. A coordinated city plan for salvaging downtown, funded by parking revenues, must include people who have a long track record of mentoring successful stores.  

Planet Public Eye columnist Zelda Bronstein articulated a wide range of possible remedies for Berkeley’s small businesses during her unsuccessful mayoral campaign. She’s had a long-time interest in independent retail because her family operated a music store in a small-town downtown when she was growing up. We’ve now asked her to begin a series of columns on retail in the urban East Bay, taking a hard look at what works and what doesn’t.  

Making our traditional shopping districts work again is in everyone’s best interest. Successful local businesses help the Berkeley Daily Planet by generating advertising revenues, and they help Planet Earth by making it possible for more and more people to meet their basic needs without driving long distances. We appreciate Councilmember Capitelli’s contribution to what should be a continuing dialogue on what will help our downtown succeed. 


Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

Friday April 20, 2007

LONNIE TORRES 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Dave Farias (March 23) wrote to you about a dear friend of mine, Lonnie Torres, being falsely accused of being a serial rapist. His letter speaks for me as well. Where is the apology? Where is the article announcing how he was wrongly accused? His name was slandered in the papers. Thank God not in the hearts and minds to those who know him best! And as for the officer who was falsely awarded, I hope it was revoked! As an avid reader of your paper I am still waiting for the correction to be printed as well as many others who have stood behind Lonnie knowing (without a doubt) of his innocence.  

Kathy Jo Martinez 

 

• 

UC-BP 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Richard Brenneman’s April 13 story, “UC-BP Debate Reveals Two Cultures Schism,” stated incorrectly that UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert “Birgeneau hired two faculty members specifically to work on the EBI proposal,” and identified them as Chris Somerville and his wife, both eminent plant biologists at Stanford University. Somerville, who collaborated with UC Berkeley faculty to put together the successful proposal to BP, is a Visiting Research Scientist at LBNL and not a member of the UC Berkeley faculty or a UC Berkeley employee. 

In addition, there is an error of omission. Brenneman quoted Academic Senate chair William Drummond’s Feb. 15 speculation, “I doubt if we get a preview of the contract.” Brenneman omitted the fact that four Academic Senate committee chairs were subsequently invited not only to preview the contract, but to provide input before any contract is signed. We request that you run corrections in your paper to set the record straight. 

Robert Sanders 

Manager of Science  

Communications, 

UC Berkeley Office of  

Media Relations 

• 

CORRECTIONS 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

In the article “Divided Commission Landmarks Iceland,” Richard Brenneman stated “Ben Anderson, the architectural consultant hired by Iceland’s owners, portrayed the venerable structure as an undistinguished hodge-podge of Art Deco and Streamline Moderne styles, much of it with little character or articulation.” 

I want to clarify what I said, and object to this interpretation as to the way that I portrayed Berkeley Iceland. 

My presentation included the assertion that at the north and south elevations, where the connection to the street is made up of the landscaped berms, that as landscape elements these berms do not show any real articulation to create a sense of “place” in the site as it meets the street, and that they are too steep to be easily occupied.  

However, my commentary on the building itself was not that it is undistinguished or had little character or articulation, but rather that it develops it’s character through the utilization of two sets of architectural language: “streamline moderne” and “art deco”. I referred to Berkeley High School as an example of a building which combines these two styles gracefully by separating them on to different surfaces, while Berkeley Iceland combines these two elements on top of each other, at the west entry, which results in the two elements competing for the viewers eye. 

Please make these corrections, and thank you for your time on this article. 

Benjamin Anderson 

 

• 

THE BOOK ZOO 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

With independent book stores failing like most memory and history, it is with great joy that I report the resurrection of The Book Zoo. This hallowed, deliciously atavistic curio revived the early ’60s feel over the cobblestones back in that Japanese restaurant-fronted Fondue Pot mall south of Blake on Telegraph. The Book Zoo, with more head and book room, but with the same warmth, is now just south of Alcatraz, at 6395 Telegraph in Oakland (654-BOOK).  

Take a load off and spend some time there, and encourage the tireless efforts of co-owners Eric and Nick. Readings take place all the time. A recent one was with Jerry Beisler, author of The Bandit of Kabul, a tale of the ’60s-’70s Asian hippie trail, published by our own Regents Press. 

Arnie Passman 

 

• 

BUSD SURPLUS PROPERTIES 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

The April 6 article (“BUSD Weighs Options for Surplus Properties”) states that the Berkeley High School tennis courts are being considered for surplus property by the school district. At the present time BHS uses the portable classrooms on Washington School’s campus across the street from BHS. Until now, those portables housed the elementary school’s Extended Day Care program. The program had to move into the main building. Speaking for myself—I work as a movement teacher at Washington—it doesn’t seem fair to either the program or the classroom teachers who must now share their spaces. Instead of considering the tennis courts as surplus property, why isn’t the BUSD considering erecting some portables on that site? 

Ruth Bossieux 

 

• 

A PERSONAL ENDORSEMENT 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

The shock, the drama, 

Iraq, Osama... 

Barack Obama 

For President. 

O.V. Michaelsen 

 

• 

KPFA 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Barbara Epstein’s recent letter reminds me of why some of us left the Left. 

First, are we supposed to refrain from attacking someone because they are female or some other PC category? 

Second, I have heard hosts over the years endorse many marches on KPFA. 

I wasn’t even aware of this gag rule until I read Marc Sapir’s op-ed. KPFA’s gavel to gavel coverage of many peace and civil rights marches over the years could certainly be taken for endorsements. 

Third, Lilley has been outspokenly hostile to the democratic participatory changes at KPFA. Every one knows that she is the choice of the entrenched staff hostile to any real change at KPFA. 

Fourth, many of the oldtimers at KPFA such as the (thankfully) retiring Bensky were themselves upholders of the old gag rule until it was used against them in 1999. 

They supported every purge but, surprise !, their own. 

Fifth, is KPFA supposed to an employer of the last resort for otherwise unemployable aging old lefties so they indulge their narcissism at the public’s expense? 

Sixth, are the editors not supposed to print letters that disturb the Barbara Epsteins of this world ? 

Michael P. Hardesty 

Oakland 

 

• 

SAPIR’S INACCURACIES 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

I wish to correct just one of the many inaccuracies in Mark Sapir’s “KPFA’s Tradition of Advocacy is Threatened.” (April 6). He states: “Then this past year the core staff went out and created their own slate of listener candidates for the station board. . . .” This is untrue. In the fall of 2005, I was among a group of KPFA listeners who started meeting to express our dissatisfaction with a local station board that spent a lot of time in useless squabbles, in trying to micro manage the station and in attacking staff, rather than what we considered the role of a community board - supporting the station, helping to raise money and increase listenership. To find out more about what was happening on the board, we invited a few of the current local station board members who we heard were dissatisfied to meet with us, as well as some staff. Subsequently, we invited a few of them to join our efforts in forming Concerned Listeners for KPFA. 

Sapir seems to be obsessed with KPFA staff. First, he asserts (with no evidence) that “the inside core staff controls management.” Then at the end of his article he says: “Managers who attack advocacy in programming should be replaced by staff . . .” I presume that these are not the “core staff,” whoever they are. Sapir thus seeks to stir up staff divisions. This is not what KPFA needs to prosper. 

Kay Trimberger 

 

• 

GUN VIOLENCE 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

There is a culture of gun violence in America that is being fostered and perpetuated (inadvertently) by a political agenda, the NRA, and gun lobby. The solution to this epidemic: Control the guns—the rest of the industrialized world has—you can’t control the lives of 300 million Americans. And let’s not lose perspective; people in Iraq live with this type of violence and worse, everyday. One hundred and seventy-eight Iraqis were killed today. 

Ron Lowe  

Grass Valley  

• 

C-SPAN 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

The best advice I can give to my fellow citizens today is to watch C-Span. 

If you are not watching C-Span you are missing some of the best discussions of current issues, done without commercials, by top persons in their fields. 

Charles Smith 

 

• 

INTERTRIBAL FRIENDSHIP HOUSE 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Intertribal Friendship House here in Oakland had just paid off all the back taxes of several years ago and now it’s no longer on the auction block. It took grassroots effort by the American Indian communities around here along with others to save the building. IFH had served the American Indian community for nearly 50 years. It sponsored meetings, dances, dinners and other events. 

It would have been a travesty if the building were to fall into the hands of real estate folks who want to use it for profit. Again, congratulations to the people who fought to keep Intertribal Friendship House open. 

Billy Trice, Jr. 

Oakland 

 

• 

EARTH DAY 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

With Earth Day fast approaching, no one should let the one-day-a-year appreciation devoted to respecting the Earth, go by. You don’t need to be an extreme activist and tree-hugging hippie to help save the planet. Just by eating no meat or less meat, you are helping the environment. This may be a solution that no one has ever brought upon you before, as I had never knew the facts either. Just by refusing to eat one pound of beef, you are saving more water than a year’s worth of showers. Why beef? Cows produce the most harmful of greenhouse gases—methane, and eat over 75 percent of the corn we produce in the United States. Corn crops are, in a sense, taking over the Earth. We need to produce more and more corn to feed the farm animals which we want to eat. 

In one day, there are 1,440 minutes. Each minute, we are destroying parts of rain forests the size of seven football fields in order to make more room for cattle grazing. Can we really afford 10,080 football fields a day in order to satisfy our beefy needs? You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to know that its bad that farm animals are using almost half of the water supply that’s used in the United States. Stop thinking “I’m just one person, even if I stop, everyone else would keep doing it,” and start thinking. If everyone thought like that, where would we be?  

Diana Shek 

San Francisco 

 

• 

SAFE CLIMATE ACT 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Recently the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released official reports conveying that global warming a very real and urgent issue. The burning of fossil fuels for energy and transportation are effecting not only weather patterns but also heath factors in many Californians. 

Cars, coal burning power plants, cement kilns, and lumber manufacturers are the leading cause of excessive amounts of CO2 and water vapor on emissions which cause a greenhouse effect and thus cause global temperatures to rise. These emissions are also responsible for exacerbating asthma symptoms amongst children leading to more missed school days than any other cause in California. 

The Safe Climate Act would prevent the worst effects of global warming by setting science-based limits to reduce global warming pollution by at least 15-20 percent by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050. 

Andrew Klaus 

Assistant Canvass Director, 

Fund for Public Interest Research 

 

 

 

 


Commentary: A Berkeleyan’s View From Iraq

By Jane Stillwater
Friday April 20, 2007

EDITOR’S NOTE: Berkeley resident Jane Stillwater, sponsored by the Lone Star Iconoclast, a Crawford, Texas newspaper, is blogging about her trip to Iraq. Below are her posts of April 12 and 13. To read more, see http://jpstillwater.blogspot.com. 

 

 

If you invade someone’s country, they are going to fight back. Apparently that wasn’t taught at Yale.  

—Kurt Vonnegut. 

 

Yesterday I went down to the Iraqi Parliament and interviewed two female Parliament members regarding their views on the current situation in Iraq. The Parliament was meeting in what formerly used to be Baghdad’s most prestigious convention center. I sat in the center’s restaurant for over an hour, interviewing the Parliamentarians and observing various delegates come and go. 

After I had written and filed my story this morning, I returned to the convention center in order to see if I could give a copy of it to my two female Parliamentarian interviewees. I entered the front of the building and climbed the stairs to the second floor but after a visual search of the many delegates gathered there to caucus between sessions, I was unable to find who I was looking for and so I left. 

An hour later an apparent suicide bomber somehow managed to enter the restaurant and set off an incendiary device which, according to Reuters, injured over a dozen delegates, some of them seriously. Two delegates were allegedly killed.  

My heart goes out to the injured delegates and their families—and to all of Iraq. Am I relieved that I missed being injured by flying shrapnel or burned? Of course. But more than that, I am deeply grieved by this tragic horror that happened to people who were well and whole just minutes before. 

 

Friday the 13th: No luck getting out of the Green Zone — or the war 

With the bombing of the Iraqi Parliament on April 12, my thinking about war in general and this war in particular changed radically. This freaking adventure isn’t fun any more. 

Be careful what you pray for. Every single day of my life, I get up in the morning and pray that I will be able to do as many good deeds as possible that day. And then I add, “And have fun doing it too.” Well, this invasion/war/occupation/police action/Operation Iraqi Freedom/Bush blunder (or whatever it is) isn’t fun any more. It stopped being fun for me at around 2 p.m. yesterday afternoon. 

I had gone to the Baghdad convention center yesterday to see if I could find my two new Parliamentarian friends. They weren’t there so I left. Had they been there, we might have talked for a while and we might still have been there when the suicide bomber blew himself up a short time later. Apparently, he blew himself up only about three or four tables away from where we had been sitting the day before. We could have been injured or killed. But that didn’t happen. End of story. 

But here is another story about yesterday—which, for security reasons, I was asked not to tell at the time. But I can tell it now. After I left the convention center, I then went over to the CSH—the Combat Support Hospital—and took a tour. The public affairs officer was wonderful and gave me a complete tour of the facility. “The wounded soldiers are medi-vac-ed to the CSH by helicopter.” Then they are triaged at the ER and sent upstairs to the ICU or the operating rooms. I met doctors and nurses and saw a bunch of stuff like the sterilization room, the blood bank and the chapel. It was a fabulous hospital. It was a great tour. According to the PAO, “Our staff is always calm, collected, professional and proficient despite whatever challenges they face.” I believe it. These guys look like they are ready for ANYTHING! 

At one point, however, a middle-aged Iraqi man with blood on his face came in through the front door. “Sometimes civilians arrive here for treatment,” said the PAO, “and we treat them. It’s not all that common but it does happen.” We both thought nothing more about it. Until the next middle-aged Iraqi man appeared with blood on his face and hands. And then there was another. And another. Good grief! What is going on here!  

“The Parliament has been bombed! The Parliament has been bombed!” someone sobbed. And then suddenly we were in the mix. The injured started pouring in. The CSH went into high gear, proving its worth once again as one of the best trauma centers in the world.  

You cannot imagine the hell that ensued. Soon the corridors and examining rooms and operating theaters were filled with gurneys with bleeding Parliamentarians on them. “How many women were injured!” I screamed. “Where are they! What do they look like!” Three women were injured. I raced to look at them. They were not my friends. I was happy. Sure I was happy. But my heart was also breaking for these others. 

One Parliament member, a woman, a younger woman, wrapped in blankets, turned her terror-filled eyes toward me. Her face streamed with blood. I looked into her eyes as deeply as I could and whispered, “I will perform du’a for you, Sister,” and pantomimed the universal Muslim gesture for prayer. God, I hope that my futile gesture did some good. 

Doctors and nurses came and went. The gurneys piled up in the hallways. They cut the clothes off the victims. One man’s face was completely blackened from the collar-line up. I hoped that somehow it was just blackness from powder and not from burns. Another man’s hand was badly injured and laid limply on his chest while he was strapped with IVs. 

And then it hit me. “War is Hell.” War isn’t some stupid little thing that someone playing at President declares (with or without the approval of Congress) so that he can fatten his Swiss bank account. War is your worst nightmare. End of story. “Lighten up, Jane.” 

So last night I was finally gonna leave the Green Zone and take the Rhino—an armored transport vehicle the size of a house—out to Baghdad airport and start going home. But guess what? Even that didn’t happen! I can’t even get to the Red Zone on my way home! I’m doomed to stay here forever. Like that old Kingston Trio song about Charlie who was stuck on the MTA, I may “never return”! 

But that’s not the point. What happens to me or doesn’t happen to me doesn’t matter. What matter is this: People are being killed over here folks. I don’t care who started it. I don’t care who’s to blame. I don’t care who the good guys are or who the bad guys are. I just want to stop it. To stop here. To stop in Israel/Palestine. To stop in Darfur. I want man’s inhumanity to man to stop. I don’t want to see my friends who are American troops die. I don’t want to see my friends in the Parliament die. I want this bloody nonsense to stop. 

And violence is never prevented by the use of more violence. Never. 

Last night I called a cell phone number of an Iraqi friend. “I can’t talk now,” he said. “I’m walking to my home. I can’t be heard speaking English on the street.” There you have it, summed up in a few words. On the streets of Baghdad, speaking English can get you killed. Hell, on the streets of Baghdad, anything can get you killed. 

What do I propose as a solution? Edmund Burke said it best. “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” There are six billion people alive on the planet today. Of all those people, surely a majority of us are not in the killing business. It’s time for the rest of us to put our “boots on the ground.” Enough! Enough killing. Enough war. It’s time for the human race to evolve. 

 

PS: After my experience at the CSH, I started seeing the Green Zone in a whole new light. Before this, I had seen it as a small bit of America plopped down in the middle of Iraq, where you could get pumpkin pie at the dining facility and watch America’s Next Top Model on TV. Now I see that it too is a war zone and that every day people here also deal with the ever-present possibility of sudden death. 

 

PS: I got some schemes up my sleeve to get out of the Green Zone. I could always say something in my articles that are against the ground rules and then they would throw me out—but I don’t want to do that. I could develop a mysterious disease and get med-evac-ed out. I could go on strike and walk around the press room with my fist raised, chanting, “Attica! Attica! Sal si Puedes! We shall overcome!” Or I could whip out my REAL secret weapon—my dirty laundry. I could stop taking showers and keep wearing yesterday’s clothes. That oughta do it. 

 

 


Commentary: Your Water Company Leading the Way

By Lesa R. McIntosh
Friday April 20, 2007

Did you know that Easy Bay Municipal Utilities District (EBMUD), your water company, sets the standard? The trick, which EBMUD seems to do so effortlessly, is to first secure a high-quality water source from the eastern Sierra mountains and the Mokelumne River watershed, transport that water through three 90-mile aqueducts to the East Bay, move it through a 331-square-mile area; from Crockett on the north, southward to San Lorenzo, eastward from San Francisco Bay to Walnut Creek, and south through the San Ramon Valley and through local pipelines to your tap. EBMUD serves 1.3 million water customers and over 650,000 wastewater customers here in the East Bay. The wastewater system covers an 88-square-mile area.  

Water, a vital resource, is becoming increasingly scarce due to fluctuations in climate, coupled with a growing population. EBMUD is a leader in promoting water use efficiency as a foundation for its long range water resource management plan. For many years, demand management, and water re-use have been important components in our water policies and practices which have been designed to promote wise and efficient use of our limited water supply. 

In relation to our wastewater service, EBMUD has instituted a resource recovery program to manage a variety of waste streams, including high biochemical oxygen demand and total dissolved solids wastes, groundwater and stormwater, winery and food processing wastes, and industrial process wastes and sludges. SD-1 (our Wastewater District) offers a disposal alternative to land application or for those without a sanitary sewer connection. Our digesters convert high strength waste into energy. This allows us to provide a sustainable and environmentally friendly disposal option. 

Water conservation and recycling are key components of EBMUD’s water supply reliability. So, the EBMUD Board of Directors set a 25-year goal of conserving and recycling an additional 49 million gallons per day (MGD) by 2020. Water consumption in 2005 was less than the demand in 1970, despite an increase in customers and accounts. This is because EBMUD offers a broad range of customer opportunities to reduce consumption, re-use supplies, and decrease water waste. Our water efficiency programs are founded on voluntary customer participation demonstrating that wise water use can be achieved without compromising lifestyle. Take advantage of our water conservation programs, rebates, and services for all customer categories. EBMUD programs and services include free indoor and outdoor surveys and water saving devices, incentives for installing water saving fixtures and equipment, as well as education and outreach programs. 

Water recycling is a growing part of EBMUD’s water portfolio. The San Ramon Valley Recycled Water Program, a partnership between EBMUD and the Dublin-San Ramon Services District, began delivering water to irrigation customers. EBMUD connected customers to the system by retrofitting their plumbing for recycled water and installing pipelines and meters. The first phase will deliver 0.7 MGD annually, and when completed will supply 2.4 MGD. The East Bayshore Recycled Water Project will provide 2.5 MGD to portions of Alameda, Albany, Berkeley, Emeryville and Oakland for irrigation and other uses. We are also working with the Chevron Refinery in Richmond and the West County Waste Water District to produce 4 MGD of recycled water for use at the Chevron boilers (RARE Project), thereby freeing up 6 MGD of our water supply. So, when you think of your water company, think about conserving and re-using. It reduces demand, helps you save on your water bill, better prepares us for drought and contributes to a stable water supply.  

 


Commentary: ‘Jewish Voice for Peace’ Holds First National Conference

By Cecilie Surasky
Friday April 20, 2007

On the eve of the 40th anniversary of Israel’s occupation of Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem, it’s important to reflect on where we as a Jewish community stand on this issue, especially here in the Bay Area.  

This occupation, through a system of checkpoints, home and orchard demolitions, detentions, land and water confiscations, assassinations and more, makes normal life impossible for millions of Palestinians. It violates international law, which was created in no small part as a response to World War II, and is universally condemned by human rights groups and governments, including the United States. 

Far from bringing Israelis safety, it endangers people in Israel as well as the 400,000 settlers who live on occupied land, at least 40 percent of which, according to Israeli records, is actually owned by Palestinian families. 

Given the Bay Area’s extraordinary history in the forefront of major social justice movements, it should come as no surprise that the leadership of the country’s largest and fastest-growing Jewish peace groups hail from here.  

There is Brit Tzedek, which does critical work within the affiliated Jewish world as a pro-Israel/pro-peace group; Tikkun, which as part of the Network of Spiritual Progressives reaches across religious lines to raise a voice of justice; and Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), the only national Jewish peace group that views the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through the lens of international human rights law. 

All of us have experienced some form of censure from the institutional Jewish world for publicly challenging unquestioning support for Israeli policies. 

On April 28-29 in Oakland, JVP will hold our first national conference, “Pursuing Justice in Israel/Palestine, Changing Minds, Challenging U.S. Policy.” (Go to www.JewishVoice forpeace.org for information.) The conference will offer attendees a way to learn more about the Middle East, get involved, or sharpen their strategy and skills. 

Just 5 years ago, JVP was an all volunteer group based here in the Bay Area. Today, we have four program staff positions; a 24,000-person mailing list; chapters in cities like Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Seattle with more coming; and advisory board members including Howard Zinn, Deborah Chasnoff, Tony Kushner and Adrienne Rich.  

We encourage all people, but Jews in particular, to attend the conference as a way learn about Arab-Jewish organizing, Christian fundamentalist anti-Semitism, life under occupation and more. 

 

A Jewish movement for  

peace and justice 

It is challenging to be an “out” Jew on this issue. Many movements simplistically divide the world into us and them. But as Jews, many with close ties to Israel, we are both us AND them. We must constantly fight the temptation of others, and at times ourselves, to dehumanize the “bad guys.”  

Many of us needed to break through the one-sided ideas about Israel we were taught from birth. We knew too well the Jewish stories of suffering and exile – we ourselves carry the wounds. And we understood the need to create a place where Jews could be safe. 

But we realized we knew little about Palestinians, why they called the Israeli war of independence Al Nakba, the disaster. Or why many still carried keys to their old homes, or why children threw rocks at tanks, or why some became suicide bombers and sought to kill Israeli civilians on buses or in pizza shops. 

Many of us decided to learn the whole history, and to go to the West Bank and Gaza ourselves to see exactly what occupation looks like.  

It is a searing experience none shall ever forget. 

There are no words to describe the anger the first time one sees a scared Israeli teenage soldier pointing a huge gun and callously barking orders at an elderly Palestinian at a checkpoint.  

And there are no containers to hold the tears one sheds when one sees a Caterpillar bulldozer destroy a Palestinian family’s home because they lacked an impossible to obtain permit, while the mother watches restrained, screaming, her children’s clothes and toys strewn on the side of the road. As one rabbi who witnessed such destruction just a few miles outside of Jerusalem said, “This is the worst day of my life.” 

We come back to the Bay Area, having experienced some of the worst days of our lives, and instead of being greeted with open arms by one of the most progressive Jewish communities in the world, ready to work with Israeli and Palestinian peace groups for justice, we find an increasingly polarized community. 

On the one side we find Jewish leaders who, feeling under attack, circle the wagons and go into defense mode. Many repeat superficial and racist platitudes about Palestinians just hating Jews or not caring about their families, platitudes that insult the intelligence of most who know full well the complexity of the situation. 

We find progressive Jewish groups who we look to for inspiration on every tough social issue, but who decide simply to not talk about Israel-Palestine, as though it weren’t there. 

Finally, we find Jewish leaders wielding the powerful charge of anti-Semitism, at times, to silence legitimate albeit sometimes hyperbolic criticism of Israel. At the same time, we see them take no accountability for the widespread Islamophobia and toxic disregard for Arab lives that has become widespread in many Jewish communities. 

We then do our part to add to the polarization. 

Out of our collective frustration at being shut out, and our anger at the moral hypocrisy of our leaders, we speak in a way that makes other Jews feel we don’t care about Israeli life, no matter how untrue that may be.  

We focus on the failings of the Israeli government, the powerful player, and gloss over the failings of Palestinian leadership, and fail to communicate our acknowledgment of the very real fear Diaspora Jews and Israelis feel about annihilation. 

There must be a way to break out of this cycle. 

It is a devastating lie that one must be either pro-Israeli or pro-Palestinian.  

It is possible, in fact, necessary, to be integrated as a Jew who loves the Jewish people and traditions, and who fights for justice for all people—especially those who suffer at the hands of a Jewish state. 

The future of Palestinians depends on it. The future of Israel depends on it. The very future of Judaism depends on it. 

Go to www.JewishVoiceforPeace.org to find out more and to register for the conference. 

 

Cecilie Surasky is director of communications for Jewish Voice for Peace. 

 


Commentary: Is a Ferry a Good, Cost-Effective Environmental Alternative?

By Roy Nakedegawa
Friday April 20, 2007

A ferry from Berkeley to San Francisco may be a good idea, but such a service should usefully augment the public transit we have. Sure, it’s good to have an alternative if the bridge or BART suffers damage from a quake, but with increasing global warming, we really need to reduce the number of car trips. The ferry is going to rely on cars with parking to achieve any decent ridership; therefore, it is questionable whether it will help in reducing car trips. Even short trips to a ferry terminal can generate as much pollution as a trip of 10 miles, due to the cold start. 

If one examines overall public cost and rider convenience, together with the speed and frequency of travel across the bay, buses are the best mode. If an earthquake damages both the Bridge and BART, it will require more than 10 times the current fleet of ferries and infrastructure to handle the load. Also, a lot of money is being spent on the Bay Bridge and BART on reinforcement to resist the predicted big quake, so we should have more faith in them. It will take a truly devastating quake to damage the new bridge or BART and if that occurs, it will eliminate much of the need to cross the bay, since people will be trying just to survive locally. 

The ferry should be planned as part of a fully integrated public transit system. If the ferry terminal is built at the Berkeley Marina, the ferry project should subsidize additional public transit buses for a few years, until ridership stabilizes. 

Paul Kamen’s energy analysis, in several Daily Planet commentaries, of cars, buses, rail and ferry may be correct on energy used to propel one vehicle. This is fine for a bus system, but a rail system operates multiple cars (3-10) per train and requires additional infrastructures that use energy to operate. Rail stations require area lighting, all night lighting for parking and energy for communication and signaling as well as numerous additional costs to operate the system. When all of the required energy and costs are accounted for, the cost per rail passenger can exceed that for bus operation. Of course, a ferry terminal will also have such additional energy and costs. 

Another question on transit development: MTC has established development criteria for transit stations and ferry terminals, requiring some minimal number of dwellings within a half-mile radius for the system to be considered viable. None of the East Bay ferry sites meets this criterion, except possibly Oakland’s existing Jack London ferry terminal. However, if the ferry plan subsidizes supplemental bus service as part of the project cost, MTC development criteria may be considered offset. 

Paul Kamen says that people will want to ride the Berkeley Ferry, but says it’s wishful thinking to say people will flock to better bus rapid transit (BRT) bus service. Then he says that a passenger-only ferry service should be a bus advocate’s dream because it forces people to use the bus for at least one end of their trip. Great, if most access the ferry sans autos, for autos are the major generators of greenhouse gases (GHG) that add to global warming. With bus access, there will be less pollution with no cold starts or added GHG emission. Most Seattle ferry terminals have residential developments nearby as well as interconnecting bus service, even for automobile ferries. 

Like the smoothly integrated ferry system of New York’s Staten Island ferry or those in Vancouver, B.C., or Sydney, Australia, a Bay Area ferry should not depend on parking. Parking should not be a major mode for access to the ferry, since GHG emission should be a major concern in ferry planning, and that means reducing car use. 

Regarding BRT, New Jersey Transit has a multi-route bus system that includes privately operated buses entering NYC using a contra-flow bus-only freeway lane during morning peak leading into the Lincoln Tunnel. This Busway carries about 2.5 times what BART carries during peak hour, and BART currently carries more passengers than vehicles are transporting on the Bridge. Interestingly, even before BART started operating to SF, AC Transit operated Transbay buses every 14 seconds on the bridge, and were carrying as many riders as there were passengers in cars during morning peak hour. The buses first picked up riders in their neighborhoods and without transfer transported them to San Francisco. This was without a bus-only lane on the Bridge.  

A really great vision of buses is to extend BRT down University Avenue to connect to the freeway, which already has HOV lanes that buses use, and speedily transport riders to San Francisco. This would cost far less than the ferry operation and would be more convenient, frequent and faster service that would not require transfer. Eventually these HOV lanes could be converted into busways on the freeways and bridge. In 2000 there was a “Bus Challenge” to a car starting from Hilltop Park and Ride, going to San Francisco. The bus got to San Francisco 15 minutes faster than the car, and the slowest section was crossing the bridge, which took up 50-plus percent of the trip time. 

The ferry could be a favorable alternative if extensive development around the ferry terminal would actually reduce car use, but this is unlikely at the marina. Overall, from public cost, usability and benefits, we will be better off improving our bus service than funding a new ferry. 

 

Roy Nakadegawa has 45 years of public service as a civil servant and elected official. He has worked as a civil engineer in Richmond, served as the president of the Institute for Transportation of the American Public Works Association, as a director of the AC Transit district, and as a member of the Bay Area Rapid Transit board. He also serves on a Standing Committee of the Transportation Research Board, a branch of the National Academy of Science. 


Letters to the Editor

Tuesday April 17, 2007

CORRECTION 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Please note that in an otherwise factually correct summary of our project (“Zoning Adjustments Board Weighs Use Permit Appeals, April 10), there is one significant error: This is and will remain a single-family residence. To my knowledge this has never been identified as a multi-family residence. 

Thank you for your attention to this matter. 

Lorin Hill  

Architect 

Oakland 

 

• 

SUPPORTERS 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

When I first started to “be political” in Berkeley, Berkeley Citizens Action (BCA)—not always John Denton’s best friends—was the only political organization that spoke to my passion. Two very significant people came to my assistance, John Denton and John George and they were smart enough to see the potential of a young immigrant with a hot fire in her belly. I will never forget the time when John Denton signed my papers for running for council and John George was at the BCA convention where I was trying to run as an independent. The opposition in slate politicals was fierce and also the outcome had already been worked out in backrooms, a skill I have never learned. If it wasn’t for John Denton and the love that Ruth gave me , and the constant John George message “you are the one just do it” I know I could not have come close to what I have been able to work on in partnership with the homeless. 

As I remember John Denton and his annual change bucket that he brought to Building Opportunities for Self Sufficiency (BOSS) every year, sometimes in the hundreds of dollars, I also have to remember John George who put me on the first Alameda County Homeless Plan, it was a great plan that holds up to the bigger and larger plans of today. It’s my great respect for the two amazing and very different heroes of the homeless movement that tonight I bow to their grace, their compassion and the time they found to guide encourage and trust me. 

Oh I know John Denton and John George that you are proud of me and I know that we don’t make them like you anymore, but we try to walk in your shadows as tall as the current politics will let us. 

Ruth was like a mother, she realized and saw my loneliness and always found time for me, Josh over the years has kept me informed, thank you great family and thank you for great leadership. In my heart a flower is blooming tonight and the tears are of great gratitude. 

All my love to both the families and more courage to those of us who have not mainstreamed and carry your legacy with pride and without shame. 

Boona Cheema 

Executive Director, BOSS 

 

• 

MORAL 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

It always scares the hell out of my when I hear someone advocate public policy because it is “the moral thing to do.” It scares when such moral pronouncements comes from the far right and from the far left. 

This country has gone down the wrong road more than once lead by moral crusaders of all stripes. 

And should anybody disagree with such a moral crusade they are banded as immoral. 

In the most recent Daily Planet (April 13) Fred Foldvary declares “taxing pollution is the morally right thing to do...” and Charles Siegel writes “there is a clear moral imperative to support Bus Rapid Transit.” 

With all due respect to both men I may disagree with your viewpoints on both issues and be just as moral as you are. 

These issues are certainly worthy of public debate and consideration. 

But let that debate be on more practical and realistic level. Saying it is “moral” does not guarantee it will work. 

We must be able to listen to all sides of any issue and not brand only one viewpoint as “moral.” 

Otherwise there is no debate. And that is truly “immoral.” 

Frank Greenspan 

 

• 

EARTH DAY 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Earth Day...and person’s day. Please, people...so much toxicity coming from your cars and so many of us being so very ill with cancer. Somehow, in the very real urgency of saving the earth, there is not as much mentioned about saving us—from many diseases, cancer being foremost. We breathe it in but we can’t assimilate that ugly stuff. What is absorbed becomes very abrasive to how very tender we all are. Oil belongs in the earth. It is the blood of the earth. 

Certainly we can’t all give up our cars but we can think about doing it. We can begin to think maybe we can protest by just not buying petroleum-burning fuel-driven cars. Like, striking against this unfair condition being forced upon us. Hybrids are good but solar is better. There is not one single need to burn even minute amounts of petroleum except to make the owners of it richer. The sun is really all we need. 

My birthday is in April. Earth Day is in April. So, I have a certain momentum regarding life and the desire to reach out. Call me what you will. Don’t drive their cars anymore. The sooner, the better. 

Iris Crider 

 

• 

TIPPING POINT 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

I am absolutely convinced that if all of us who care about healing ourselves and the planet—both the light-footed and our more heavily stomping kin—focus our moments of muse on our ailing mother (as is happening and must simply happen more broadly), there will be a tipping point, and then, seemingly effortlessly, we will be in that future we dream. It will suddenly be breathtakingly simple. “Oh, yes,” we will say, as we bring our prunings to our neighborhood composting site, returning home with compost to feed the soil. “Of course,” we’ll think, as we return our communal electric vehicle to one of our local recharging posts; or as we help mount additional solar panels onto our neighborhood staging area to meet expanded community need. I mean, we have folks who know how to use mushrooms to clean contaminated soil, for goddess’ sake! We have the talent. So what’s missing? 

There’s a coffee house owner in Kirkland, Washington, Ervin Peretz—have you heard about him?—who “wanted to attract customers who couldn’t afford Starbucks. So when he opened his doors last November, he decided not to list any prices. Instead, customers pay whatever they feel like for their drinks, sandwiches, and other menu items. So far, the ‘voluntary payment’ experiment is working, with the more well-off customers essentially subsidizing those who can’t or won’t pay more. ‘People want something different,’ said Peretz. ‘They want to contribute to something.’” (The Week, Feb. 23) 

And just today, on KPFA, I heard that an herbalist, Pam Fisher, is opening a free—yes, that’s what she said—free herbal medicine clinic right here in Berkeley called the Ohlone Center of Herbal Medicine (540-8010), where you can be seen by appointment either on Mondays 1-5 P.M. or the first Saturday of every month. 

Could it be Marx had something? You know the bit about “from each according to his abilities and to each according to his need”? Since we are one collective heart, is it beyond the realm of possibility that those with plenty of time or money or inspiration all on their own give a bit more to the general good than those less well-endowed and etc. etc. ... until... simply because if the collective heart beats stronger their particular piece of it will also? 

“[People] want to contribute to something,” Whether the experiment endures forever is not the point. The point is it happened. It can happen again. It will happen again. Because the spirit is afoot. It’s running. And jumping on its back is simply too big a blast not to. 

Pamela Satterwhite 

 

• 

SIDESHOWS 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Commenting on the “sideshow” statute first proposed by the City of Oakland five years ago, columnist J. Douglas Allen-Taylor, in the April 13 edition, notes: 

“Neither the City of Oakland nor State Sen. Perata came to the legislature last year to ask for renewal of the original bill in time to meet the sunsetting deadline, which would be an indication that neither the city nor the senator thought the law was all that important.” 

Actually, more odorous circumstances surround Oakland’s failure to track the sunset and renewal process. 

The City of Oakland has lobbying firm Townsend Public Affairs on contract to take care of its business at the Capitol. Last October the owner Chris Townsend contributed $2,500 to councilmember Jean Quan’s campaign to pass Measure N, a $148 million bond issue to finance a new palace library downtown. Why would Townsend, headquartered in Irvine, care this much about an Oakland library building? In any event, the city and its contracted lobbyist dropped the ball on the sideshow law. As a reward, however, the city just renewed Townsend’s lobbying contract without putting it out for bid! 

Councilmember Quan accepted more than a dozen such large donations for Measure N from businesses holding or seeking city contracts. Whether you favor, oppose, or do not care about the sideshow law, the obvious potential for corruption should be condemned. The practice of soliciting city contractors for campaign donations to council ballot measures should stop. 

Charles Pine 

Oakland Residents for  

Peaceful Neighborhoods 

 

• 

OLD HAT OR NEW HAT 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

The Ad-hoc Committee for “Sunshining” Selection of Library Trustees, approved by the City Council on March 13, will have its first meeting today, April 17, at 5 p.m. at the South Berkeley Branch Library. Members of the Committee are Councilmembers Betty Olds, Kriss Worthington, and Library Trustees Ying Lee and Susan Kupfer, whose first four year term expires May 13. 

The City Charter gives the authority to the City Council to appoint Library Trustees. However, the practice for some years has been for the council to rubber-stamp the recommendation of the Library Trustees’ Board for successive Trustees including automatic reappointment of a first-term trustee. This practice has been criticized by many community members. It is felt the City Council should take back its power of appointment and bring new life and outlook into the governance of the Library. 

Trustee and chair Susan Kupfer’s first four-year appointment ends on May 13. Is it not a conflict of interest for her to be a member of the committee considering the process for the selection of trustees, when the very next day the Board of Library Trustees will be deciding whether to reappoint her for a second term or appoint a new trustee? Should not the City Council call for applications and review prospective applicants, one of whom is Pat Cody? Attend the committee meeting at 5 p.m. today, and the trustees’ meeting tomorrow at 7 p.m. and express your opinion. 

Gene Bernardi  

Berkeleyans Organizing for  

Library Defense 

(SuperBOLD) 

 

• 

FRIENDLINESS 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

At the present time of unrest in domestic and International affairs I see more tolerance and friendliness as the way forward. No two nations or people have identical priorities for developing their resources. We can express our need for safety. We can express our concern over the way other countries allocate their resources or manpower. But we cannot force other countries to follow our directions. Instead we have to begin a fresh conversation by acknowledging the languages, cultures and beliefs of others. Let us bring about peace by holding conferences and debates in which others can be honest about their fears, concerns and problems. We should let other nations run their own governments but deepen our links through shared conversation. 

Now is the time to reach out to other nations in friendliness so that friendliness comes round to us as well.  

Romila Khanna 

 

• 

LONI HANCOCK’S  

TOWN HALL MEETING 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Loni Hancock put on a great town hall meeting about global warming; there was an overflow crowd. It’s a global problem, which needs global solutions, but Berkeley and the Bay Area may provide a great example to the world. Most of the speakers mentioned public transit as the way to reduce car use. Motorized transportation generates about half the greenhouse emissions around here. But after I left the meeting to catch my bus home, I saw the usual crowd of honking cars on Shattuck; the bus had to honk at one of them to get out of the bus stop. Berkeley has a way to go in transit use, but at least the UC students throng the buses. 

Steve Geller 

 

• 

THE CAR PROBLEM 

Charles Siegel’s letter (April 13) is a destructive influence upon those who want to solve our car glut problem. He is so fixated upon his pet solution, the bus, that he went ballistic when I wrote in the Planet that solving our clean-air/transportation problem requires more than the bus. I in no way meant to imply that BRT would not be useful in solving the problems. I suggested we need to address how job specialization has led to situations where people travel to see a doctor in one city, a surgeon in another and a shrink in a third. Rather than accepting my call for policies that would keep travel short, promote local mom and pop stores, etc., he wrote to the Planet to accuse me of not understanding how the car is a horrible machine. 

Charles, this is Berkeley, where we try to think through issues and build coalitions. It appears that you just want to get people into buses. Would it not be better if we tried a comprehensive approach to the car problem, and press policies which made people travel shorter distances, be their travel by bus or automobile? 

Ted Vincent 

 

• 

OUR OWN DER FUHRER 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

I would dearly love to know who are all those foolish people comparing our wonderful President Bush to Adolph Hitler. Have you ever heard of anything more outrageous? Where do they get those preposterous ideas? 

We know very well that Hitler was a perfectly dreadful man, who started World War II by invading small countries, leaving them in ruins, destroying houses of worship, and killing innocent civilians.  

Then, with his war going to hell in a hand basket, this obstinate man refused to admit defeat! 

Oh, dear! Come to think of it, there are similarities, aren’t there? 

Dorothy Snodgrass 

 

• 

WARM POOL 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Thank you for your wonderful article about Daniel Rudman’s book about the warm water pool, and your comments about the pool itself. One thing that was not mentioned is that the pool is open every Wednesday evening from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. for family public swim. 

Mary Ann Brewin 

 

• 

TOXIC DISPOSAL 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Did you know that there is a safe, easy and local disposal available for a wide range of toxics? 

The collection site at Gilman and Second will accept mercury products, household (non-automotive) batteries and electronics. More details are availabel from 981-7270. and 524-0113. 

Two of the greatest threats to our bay and our groundwater table are mercury (thermometers and yes, compact flourescents bulbs) and unused medications that must no longer go down the toilet. 

If the neighbors on a block can collect all thier toxics together, just one trip to Gilman will do the trick nicely. 

Senta Pugh Chamberlain


Commentary: Parking: If You Don’t Build it, Will They Come?

By Laurie Capitelli
Tuesday April 17, 2007

 

 

In her March 16 editorial regarding the mayor’s Public Commons for Everyone initiative, the owner/editor of the Daily Planet suggested the woes of our commercial districts, particularly the downtown, have little or nothing to do with inappropriate street behavior alienating otherwise eager patrons. Heck, that happens in all our other commercial districts and it doesn’t appear to have any negative effect. The problem instead boils down to two things: “Parking and stores . . . And that’s the main reason the retail stores have largely departed from downtown Berkeley, both Telegraph and Shattuck, and will continue to depart.” 

Though I do believe that inappropriate street activity and aggressive panhandling do deter shoppers (we have plenty of e-mails from Berkeley citizens who testify to that fact, but let’s save that for another letter), I agree with Ms. O’Malley. I dare say the mayor does as well, acknowledging in his PCEI referral to the city manager that “throughout the city, merchants and community members cite a variety of issues including a lack of parking, an onerous permitting process, regional economic and shopping trends, slumping sales due to Internet activity, and the physical and social deterioration of our streets.” The PCEI is an attempt to deal with one aspect of our retail climate. 

But let’s get back to parking. A timely topic since the Oxford lot has recently been wiped clean of metered off-street parking, the Center Street lot is overdue for seismic rebuilding, and the Downtown Area Planning Advisory Committee is currently wrangling with UC’s proposal for additional downtown parking. I would encourage Ms. O’Malley to reaffirm her assessment about downtown parking—that there is not enough—loud enough for DAPAC members to hear. (Of course, I am assuming that Ms. O’Malley considers the flight of retail stores from the downtown a bad thing, and something we should be actively addressing.) It will surprise some, as Ms. O’Malley has, in the past, publicly opposed increasing parking downtown. But perhaps her change of heart will alert others to a situation that is worsening with each parking space taken out of commission. 

I do empathize with Ms. O’Malley’s virtual teeth clenching about parking. For a whole variety of reasons, my priority would be to encourage alternative means for coming downtown or for venturing anywhere around Berkeley. I too shudder at the car-oriented L.A. model. But the reality is more complicated: large areas of Berkeley are not served by transit. We have large populations of seniors, young parents, and disabled who rely on single-occupancy vehicles for basic transportation. And finally, we have potential shoppers, many who live within our borders, who choose their shopping destinations based upon ease of parking. El Cerrito, Emeryville, Walnut Creek—here they come. 

It is a complicated issue, one that can be nuanced, balanced and negotiated without selling our environmental souls. UC already has the go-ahead to build a significant amount of new parking. The city should be working with them to locate that parking where it can serve all its residents—and more—not just those who attend or work at UC. That’s why we created the DAPAC. 

So let’s be proactive regarding our community’s business partners. A vibrant, busy economy downtown will not only benefit the businesses, but the increased sale tax revenue will provide the resources for services for those forced to live on the streets. 

Thank you, Becky, for stating the obvious. Please say it again. 

 

Laurie Capitelli represents District 5 on the Berkeley City Council. 

 

 


Commentary: Letter to My Children’s Children’s Children On the End of Republican Government

By Marvin Chachere
Tuesday April 17, 2007

In thinking about what I ought to tell you regarding these dark days various clichés come to mind: I see no light at the end of the tunnel. The American dream is a nightmare. The American experiment failed. Pride precedeth the fall. 

To witness the death of our representative form of government is to feel some of the stages of grief identified by Dr. Kubler-Ross in her landmark study: disbelief, anger, despair… acceptance. 

I found it unbelievable that our republic would spill out into the entire globe and, repeating the life-cycle of empires like Rome and Great Britain, our unmatched strength, confidence and conceit would lead to a sense of invincibility from which we stumbled, matured, grew old and collapsed.  

Halfway through my eighth decade a surge of books came out that I encourage you to access on your PCs for they contain the reasons for my incredulity. Collectively they describe a nation in deep trouble; the ship of state constructed around the time of the first steam engine could not hold course in capricious modern winds driven by personal enrichment, societal neglect and king-of-the-hill foreign policies. For example, in a category on ominous forebodings of our global entanglements you can download Chalmers Johnson’s trilogy, Blowback, The Sorrows of Empire, and Nemesis and in a different class you can scan Noam Chomsky’s densely crafted Hegemony or Survival in which sharp facts strip naked the current administration’s born-again royal clothing, or click onto Jeremy Scahill’s revelations that a large mercenary army assisted in the catastrophic occupation of Iraq, unregulated and unconstrained.  

In general, the nation failed so often and so shamelessly to live up to the promises of its birth that it adjusted those lofty promises bit by bit to fit the nefarious goals it pursued on the back of an almighty “military-industrial complex.” Abandon republican ideals and you abandon republican government. 

And if you go further into our past you will notice that our new way of governing—three separate and independent branches held together by checks and balances—though interesting and admirable was not effective or practical. The government prescribed by the Constitution failed its first critical test; it could not solve the problem of slavery peacefully, and thus we slipped into a civil war that nearly destroyed us. The residue of that bloodiest of all our wars still exists, and the Katrina disaster’s racial one-sidedness and the government’s ineptitude intensified my anger. 

You might also notice that the impracticality of our new form of governing explains why most new nations formed after World War II did not copy us but formed governments of a parliamentary nature. 

That the United States called itself America, contrary to geographical fact, foretells its overarching self-regard. We replaced the Monroe Doctrine with a program to convert the world to our ideals and eventually to dominate and rule it. Republicanism and imperialism are incompatible. 

There were subtle warning signs. At the same time that terrorists replaced communists in the fear-mongering, “barbarians at the gates” instrument for tightening regulations and controls, the government’s infatuation with security caused unprecedented and pervasive secrecy, and secrecy is toxic because governance that is not open is not republican. 

There were more explicit signs. Less than half of eligible voters bothered to do so, their customary indifference being validated when, despite having received half a million fewer votes than his opponent, the 43rd president attained office by virtue of one vote by a Supreme Court judge. Despair arrived the day Bush II was elected to a second term—“How could 59 million voters be so stupid?” headlined the UK Daily Mirror—and depression set in when international rules against torture were deemed “quaint” and outdated. 

Other harbingers of danger included the expanding economic chasm—the poor grew poorer, the well-off grew richer and the rich got super rich. (CE0s of top companies were compensated 475 times more than their employees, on average.) Faith, more than deeds, became the hallmark of morality. Reason was subdued by religion, and science was subverted by it. Everything of value had monetary value. Lobbyists with deep pockets outnumbered legislators two to one. Every problem prompted a legislative solution and every solution was ultimately sanctioned, or not, by the courts. Any person with superior marketing apparatus and enough money could be elected to any office at any level (and thereby improve his/her lot, financially).  

Every day my depression was deepened by the repeated and unqualified use of the term “war”—“war on terror,” “War Powers Act,” “war crimes,” “war zone,” etc. Sure, we have a well equipped military force occupying Afghanistan and Iraq. Our troops are killing and being killed. But how could there be a war when the enemy had no uniform, no flag, no unified command and whose most devastating weapons were improvised human and home-made non-human explosive devises? 

Finally, life and liberty, once believed to be unalienable rights endowed by our Creator, were destroyed by two laws enacted by the 109th Congress: the renewal of the perversely named Patriot Act and the barbaric Military Commissions Act; the former silenced domestic dissenters and the latter dealt with foreign dissenters as “enemy combatants” denying them both legal and human rights. 

The early weeks of the 110th Congress, for a variety of political reasons, sounded the death knell of the republic. Let the following stand for the multifaceted disintegration I have just summarized; it is the source of my depression and the reason for this letter. 

In early spring 2007, both houses of Congress passed resolutions, just barely, that urged but did not require the president to prepare to withdraw our troops from the catastrophe he’d created in Iraq. Democratic party leaders boasted that they were taking back powers ceded to Mr. Bush when his party held a majority of seats.  

The media feigned alarm—a constitutional crisis! legislative branch versus executive branch!—and delighted in speculations regarding the high political price of confrontation—who will win, what are the loses? Meanwhile, Bush, on the defensive, bullied his opponents, called them irresponsible and accused them of interfering; they dishonored our soldiers, he declared, and emboldened our enemies. 

Often appearances hide the truth and just as often a small victory hides a large defeat.  

Properly understood, both the nay and yea votes on resolutions setting a time-table for withdrawal from Iraq implicitly concede that the nation’s honor (if there was any) was worth deaths and dismemberments in the tens of thousands, casualties bound to accumulate while Congress and the White House squabbled. Nothing in my time signaled the demise of the republic as surely as this, as if more blood would restore our honor.  

Reviewing what I have written, I confess that I have not achieved acceptance, the final stage of grief, and, truth be told, I don’t ever expect to.  

 

Marvin Chachere is a San Pablo resident.


Commentary: Planting a Peace Garden

By Barbara Wentzel
Tuesday April 17, 2007

In 1944 Roosevelt’s call to plant a Victory Garden was answered by 20 million Americans. Amazingly,these gardens in a short time produced 40 percent of all vegetables consumed in this country. (The rest was grown mostly by local farms) Gardens grew in backyards, in empty lots, and on rooftops or public gardens in cities. Even some portion of Golden Gate park was alloted to community gardens.) 

We can do this again. We can create a belated replacement for Roosevelt’s Victory Gardens, in our backyards and in our communities. And we can do this in the name of Peace, because after all, the only real victory is peace. Here is my suggestion. Plant a vegetable garden, a peace garden. Plant it for Earth Day. Plant it for your children or your grandchildren. Do it because it is a centuries old task and is profoundly satisfying. Do it because it will improve your health both to work in it and to eat from it. And do it because it is a practical step we can all take to promote peace.. inching our way away from corporate food to real food, from an oil-based food system to an independent, local food system. 

Vegetable gardening is not difficult. There are hundreds of books on the subject, but all you need is good soil, lots of good soil. You can make that yourself with the vegetable waste from your kitchen sink and those rotting leaves you didn’t get around to raking last fall. Stop using the garbage disposal and compost the old broccoli and coffee grounds. If that’s all you do this spring, you are on your way. Worms will arrive to work on your broccoli and leave castings for you that will help anything grow. Good bacteria will gather to increase the health of the soil. (think of the science projects there!) 

Let this all age until it looks and smells closer to the earth than broccoli, and you are ready. Spread the compost, working it in with a pitchfork to loosen old soil. That’s it. Lots of compost=good soil=the healthiest veggies on the planet. 

Like good wine, good compost does need to age, so start that process and then to jump start the whole thing, buy some good organic compost for your early vegetables. Use seeds or a mix of seeds and organic vegetable starts. Plant creatively with flowers and vegetables mixed together. And don’t worry about perfection. Nature is set up to make things grow. Your garden will produce something even if your time there is limited and you think you dont know a thing about gardening. Just enjoy it. Raising some of your food is an act of peace, and you will be amazed at how much is returned to you from that act.  

Happy Spring Gardening! Peace. 

Questions on getting started? Write to peacegardens@pacific.net. 

 

 

Barbara Wentzel is the proprietor of Traditions furniture store in Berkeley.


Commentary: The Political as the Personal

By Carolyn North
Tuesday April 17, 2007

We say that global warming is the result of the burning of fossil fuels, but it might also be said that global warming has happened because the human species has not recognized that all systems on the earth are mutually related, alive and sacred. 

It would also be fair to say that if we humans regarded ourselves as an intimate part of the earth’s whole fabric—miracles within a Miracle rather than its masters, we might never dream of creating economies that annually took down millions of acres of natural forest to make wood pulp for the paper industry. 

The problem, folks, is us—you and me. We’ve got to change our minds, and quickly. As a writer who has just published her eighth book, I did the calculations and figured out that several dozen trees had been felled over the years for the printing of my books—and more for all the books, magazines, newspapers, catalogues etc. I have read during that time!  

Here are some statistics that made my hair stand on end: 

• The most diverse forests in North America, which are in the Southern United States, contain the largest paper producing region in the world. 

• Each year, 20 million trees, or five acres of natural forest, are cut down to make paper. 

• Of the global wood harvest, 42 percent goes to paper production. 

• Printing and writing paper accounts for almost 27,000 tons of wood pulp a year. 

• The global production of pulp, paper and publishing is expected to increase 77 percent by the year 2020. 

• The United States is claimed to have six times the per capita consumption of paper over the world average. 

• The paper industry is the third highest emitter of industrial greenhouse gases to the air in the world, and the fifth highest emitter of industrial toxic waste to water. 

• The planet is exposed to 250,000 metric tons of toxic pollutants from paper manufacturers each year. 

There are alternatives to cutting down our forests, and here are some of them: 

 

Tree farms 

• Replacing natural forest with tree farms creates a relatively reliable source of wood pulp, but reduces by 90 percent the number of species contained in a natural forest. 

• The conversion of forests to tree farms leads to a radical loss of freshwater, air quality, soil cohesion and animal, insect, bird and plant species. 

• Rural communities in and around these tree farms and their paper mills tend to be degraded economically and socially. 

• South American “paper forests,” as they are called, are expected to grow 70 percent by the year 2012.  

 

Recycled paper 

Paul Hawken, co-founder of the Green Press Initiative has said that if all books were printed on recycled paper, the act of publishing and reading would begin to heal our forests and promote sustainable economic activity. 

• Currently, recycled paper represents less than 8 percent of the entire printing and writing market, because publishers claim it is not cost effective. However, market pricing analysis shows that switching from virgin fibers to 100 percent post-consumer recycled paper would equal an increase of about 20 cents per book. Many readers polled claimed a willingness to spend and extra dollar for books printed on recycled paper. 

• It takes an estimated one ton of recycled stock to make one ton of paper, while it takes an estimated two to three and half tons of virgin trees to make that same ton of paper. 

• One ton of recycled paper can save the equivalent of 24 trees of 40 feet in height and six to eight inches in diameter. 

• One ton of recycled paper can save the equivalent of 7,000 gallons of water; 60 pounds of air pollution; and 4,100 kilowatt hours of electricity. 

 

Alternative, annual crops used for papermaking 

Kenaf, which grows well in the Southeastern United States, has a three to five times greater yield than the Southern pines which grow in the same region. Related to the hibiscus, it is originally an African plant which can grow up to 14 feet tall in under five months.  

• Industrial hemp, related to, but not the same plant as, marijuana grows up to 16 feet tall in four months, producing an estimated 10 tons an acre. It is not (yet) legal in the US. 

• Straw, the agricultural residue of a multitude of plants, goes underutilized every year in the United States by an estimated 150 tons. 

So I took a deep breath when I learned all this, and decided that the simplest thing I could do was to find a tree-planting organization to work with, and to encourage all my friends and neighbors to join us in the rather joyful effort of planting trees to replace the trees felled for paper. 

And thus was born Books Into Trees, a collaborative project with TreePeople of Los Angeles that, since being started by a teenager in 1973, has planted over two million trees in the Los Angeles area in its work to help nature heal our cities. Having one of the nation's largest environmental education programs, TreePeople offers sustainable solutions to urban ecosytem problems including water, air quality, energy conservation and flood prevention. It is one of the most innovative, comprehensive and people-friendly environmental groups in the United States. 

Ultimately, though, it all comes down to how we choose to live our lives and how we use our creative imaginations. Do we accept the current definitions of reality that have gotten us into this unprecedented mess, or do we start to shift how we see the world? To me, it’s fairly obvious that if I live as if everything is interconnected, miraculous and alive, then my spirits are lifted instead of being depressed, creative ideas pop up one after the other, and I tend to laugh a lot. Not a bad way to live.  

And of course, in such a mood, it would never occur to me that destroying forests was the only way to make paper; killing other people was the only way to find peace; or sacrificing other peoples’ children was the only way to feel safe. 

 

Carolyn North is a Berkeley writer, healer and social activist whose latest book, Ecstatic Relations: A Memoir of Love has prompted this action to collaborate with TreePeople to protect the forests that are sacrificed daily for the printing of her books, and all the books we all read. 


Columns

Column: Undercurrents: Dellums Administration Gets Oakland Moving Again

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Friday April 20, 2007

Some years ago, in a more energetic time in my life, I used to pick up day work unloading banana boats for Chiquita Brands on the docks at Charleston, South Carolina. By that time they had stopped shipping bananas by the stalk, but instead, they were coming up from Central America in 40 pound boxes. These boxes were stacked up to the roof of each deck of the banana boats, and when you first got on the floor in the morning, there was barely enough room for the 10 man crews to stand in the bare space around the hold, much less start working sending the boxes up the single conveyor belt that took them up the hold to the top deck. 

We had two crews, with a different foreman in charge of each, and with different ways of going about their jobs. Oscar would start us all to work immediately, as soon as we hit the deck coming out of the hold, with nine men all sweating and bumping and cursing in an energetic rush to get the boxes to the single worker who was sitting on a stool beside the hold, sending the boxes one by one up the conveyer belt. We worked out in all four directions, simultaneously, catawampus, as the old people used to describe that sort of thing. As the morning wore on it got easier, of course, as we made room for ourselves getting rid of the boxes. Within a half-hour or so, there began to be enough space to set up metal rollers, along which we could slide the boxes from all ends of the deck. 

We have begun to hearing the beginnings of low rumblings of criticism over the early actions—or inactions—of the administration of Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums. These criticisms peaked, in chorus, on the passage of Mr. Dellums’ first hundred days in office, the traditional point—since the frenetic time of Franklin Roosevelt in seeking to roll back the Depression, I believe—of marking the initial accomplishments of an administration. 

From Heather MacDonald of the Oakland Tribune of April 10: “Today, his 100th day in office, Dellums' promise to turn Oakland into a model city is very much a work in progress. … Dellums has answered questions from the news media only once since taking office and did not hold the first quarterly town hall meeting required by the City Charter. … Much of the criticism directed at the mayor during his first months in office has been that he is not visible enough, leaving many residents to wonder what the mayor is doing, if anything. Critics inside City Hall say Dellums is too cautious and delegates too much authority to staff members, leaving many unsure of where the mayor actually stands.” 

And from reporter Christopher Heredia in the April 10th San Francisco Chronicle: “Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums entered office in January calling for an extraordinary collaboration with everyday citizens and the business community, for peace on the streets, for better schools and improved access to health care. One hundred days later, the mayor has announced a reorganization of the Police Department with an emphasis on community policing. The rest, he's working on. Dellums' lack of specific actions during his first 100 days in office frustrates some residents while others say it shows he is deliberating carefully about how to address the city's most vexing issues.” 

And, finally, from Alex Gronke’s April 10th blog at Oakland-based NovoMetro.com, commenting on both the Tribune and Chronicle stories: “The Trib story had some startling revelations from Dellums’ press secretary. Chief among them was the news that Dellums was caught off guard by the complexity of City Hall. This was a man who wrangled with the Pentagon when he was chair of the House Armed Services Committee. It’s hard to know what to make of that confession.” Mr. Gronke concluded: “Oakland doesn’t need a mayor who pretends he didn’t really want the post, it needs a mayor who can at least pretend to love the job.” 

And in our own Daily Planet, we recently had a biting editorial cartoon by Justin DeFreitas on Mr. Dellums’ “disappearing act.” 

Neither the Chronicle nor the Tribune articles could be characterized as “hit pieces.” They appeared to attempt to take a balanced view of the Dellums Administration’s accomplishments at the end of one hundred days. I just believe, respectfully, that Ms. MacDonald and Mr. Heredia failed to take some relevant things into account. 

Oakland is going through a transition in our city government that took an eight year delay during the two-term administration of Jerry Brown. Prior to the passage of Measure X—the strong-mayor ballot measure—in 1998, the city was ruled by a Council-Manager form of government in which the mayor functioned as little more than a super-City Councilmember, presiding over City Council meetings but having no more voice over the running of the city—one vote on the hiring and firing of the City Manager—than any of the other seven Councilmembers. The Council hired the City Manager, and the City Manager hired and fired the rest of the city staff, and ran the bureaucracy. 

Measure X broke that system in two, taking the mayor off the Council and putting the mayor in charge of the City Manager—now the City Administrator—and the city bureaucracy under that office. As we now know, Mr. Brown took little interest in the running of city affairs except for certain areas of concern, and for eight years during the Brown Administration the vast army of city workers was run by an uneasy alliance between the City Manager—first Robert Bobb and then Deborah Edgerly—and City Council President Ignacio De La Fuente, with Mr. Brown intervening every once and a while. 

In succeeding Mr. Brown, Mr. Dellums has decided to carry through with the original intent of Measure X, pointedly refusing to intervene in City Council matters—such as refusing to intervene in the selection of the City Council President, or to break the recent tie over the selection of a firm to manage the Oakland Ice Center—but at the same time taking over the reins of the city bureaucracy and workforce, as mandated by the City Charter. 

For anyone who knows anything about city bureaucracies, that is not proving to be an easy task. 

It was made more difficult by the fact that while Mr. Dellums repeatedly called last year for a complete audit of Oakland city government in advance of his taking office so that he could make intelligent decisions based on actual conditions, the first audit—of the city’s payroll—only began late last month, only a few days before the end of his administration’s first hundred days. In addition, we have now learned that Mr. Brown destroyed much, most, or practically all of this administration’s records on his way out the door. That means that the Dellums administration had to start almost from scratch in figuring out what the old mayor’s office had been doing, and what, now, needed to be done. And, of course, there is the struggle with the Oakland Police Officers Association, the police union, that is complicating the crime reduction and police activity reforms that the Oakland public has demanded. 

Is this to make excuses for the Dellums administration? Not at all. They’re big kids over there, and can make their own excuses. I have my own criticisms and concerns. Mr. Dellums is reorganizing the police department to “enhance community policing,” but has yet to define, in writing, the exact sort of community policing he means. With Mr. Brown, it always seemed to be a moveable feast. And I think there is some confusion in Dellums’ office over the role of—and public access to—the task forces that needs to be straightened out. 

But it’s my belief that Mr. Dellums—a man who clearly enjoys public speaking—is keeping out of the spotlight now because he’s busy doing one of the major things that Oakland voters asked him to do, reorganize Oakland’s bureaucracy and work force so that it can better serve his policy directions. If that job isn’t done, then Mr. Dellums’ four years in office will simply be as a figurehead, making pretty speeches about lofty goals that his administration cannot back. If that job is done, then we can reasonably begin to see some major policy changes taking shape towards the end of the year. 

Some of it, we are already seeing. Developers and residents, alike, have long complained about the uncertainty of Oakland’s zoning code, which is out of sync with its General Plan, without which planned development that both attracts outside business and meets community concerns cannot take place. Long neglected under Mr. Brown, the process of conforming the zoning code with the General Plan has begun under Mr. Dellums, and we have already seen a dramatic change, with Mr. Dellums’ decision to suspend plans to rezone Oakland’s industrial lands. 

But mostly this is grunt work, policy-wonk work, that most newspapers don’t regularly report on, and most citizens have no idea is happening. I’d like to see the Dellums Administration open up a little more, and give us more information on what they’re doing and trying to do. If Mr. Dellums can’t come out himself, there are other articulate spokespersons in his administration—Chief of Staff Dan Boggan, for one—who might do. But ongoing criticisms aside, which we should continue to do, I’m willing to be a little more patient about demanding major results, because that’s the only way I believe were are going to have major results. Come back in three more months, and let’s talk. 

 


First Person: Compassion and Outrage at the Coffee Bar

By E. S. Hammer
Friday April 20, 2007

As a 50-ish fan of Susan Parker’s column, I am following with keen interest her colorful descriptions of loss and renewal at age 55. I wish her great good fortune in finding or creating the “next right career” for herself. However, I just had to share an anecdote of my own, in case Ms. Parker meant seriously that perhaps she’d apply at Peet’s. 

Several months ago, I went in to the Vine Street flagship Peet’s store and happily ordered the same tea drink I’ve been ordering for many years: large cup filled with hot water, three teabags of masala chai, room for soymilk. 

It was a Sunday afternoon around 5, the light was changing outside (a sweet, somewhat vulnerable time—the weekend’s festivities being largely over, signs of the work week to come still a bit at bay, a time that my sociologist-self would call “liminal”). I was on my way to meet a group of friends who provide each other mutual support. 

Also, I had fairly recently been dumped, by the live-in boyfriend who had—up until he told me from atop the closed toilet seat while I was in the bathtub (on Valentine’s Day, no less) that he was “no longer physically attracted to me”—mentioned many times that he expected us to stay together for the long haul. So you can understand, I was a wee bit vulnerable. 

Imagine how it felt to be yelled at, by a Peet-nik I’d never noticed before, saying, and I quote, unfortunately, exactly verbatim: “Just because you’re old and lonely and desperate doesn’t mean you get to come in here expecting free stuff.” 

Apparently, the third teabag was now considered “extra.” But what a way to deliver the news! 

The scenario got uglier and uglier, as a couple of co-workers got in on the act; meanwhile my fellow customers who’d missed the start of the show began to give me sidelong, suspicious glances. 

I must mention that I am a multi-culturalism/diversity consultant, listed in Who’s Who of American Women (2001 edition), let alone the international recognition. Plus, I am told almost on a daily basis that I look so much younger, to which I habitually quip, “This is what 50 looks like now.” 

One kind and mindful employee just concentrated on step-by-step making my drink, taking my cash, handing me my cup and change. She looked embarrassed for her aggressively acting-out colleagues on either side of her, and we exchanged a rueful smile. 

The management responded to my complaint with a box of free chai tea. Upon further follow-up complaint, I was given a loaded Peet’s card. Thus reinforcing the notion that it was in fact all about “free stuff.” One man in management responded in several conversations like a human being with emotional intelligence, so I decided to focus on that instead of the cluelessness of others in Peet’s corporate. 

Oh. yes, maybe a month later I caught a glimpse of the angry young man in the parking lot of what friends have mentioned is a venue for a “recovery” meeting known to be “wild.” So I surmised that to be his problem. For which I do not lack compassion. But I still would not wish for any 50-plus woman (for the derogation implied in the particular manner of insult is all about sexism as much as ageism—we all know that it is older women who are called “hags” and marginalized while many older men are regarded as being at their powerful prime) to apply for a job at Peet’s. Unless the job was “consciousness-raising crone!”


East Bay Then and Now: Daniels Excelled in Developing and Marketing Scenic Beauty

By Daniella Thompson
Friday April 20, 2007

Nobody recognized the commercial value of natural scenery better than Mark Daniels.  

“Developing and selling landscape beauty is perhaps the only way in which a man of the community may have the cake and eat it, too,” he said in June 1914, addressing the Tourist Association of Central California at the Shattuck Hotel in Berkeley. “[T]he visitor does not take one jot from the landscape or the community […] in return for the money he contributes, nor does the natural beauty of a district or country need to be repaired or replanted each year. And yet the community may sell it and resell it without losing any part of the original bulk of the commodity.” 

Two years earlier, in a booklet titled Hillside Homes and Gardens, Daniels extolled the advantages of hill dwelling: 

The great history-making nations of the world have invariably been mountain or hill folk, dwelling near the sea. […] If we wish to develop within ourselves the capacity for inspiration, ambition and a sense of the bigness of things, there is no better way than to seek an environment of inspiring view, where may be seen a portion of the world of sufficient magnitude to give us better perspective and a better sense of the relative importance of things. 

But Daniels did much more than speak on the subject. Civil engineer, planner, landscape engineer, national park superintendent, and eventually architect, Daniels (1881–1952) was perhaps the most accomplished practitioner in California of the art of developing and marketing scenic beauty. 

Born in Spring Arbor, Mich., the young Daniels will have seen his share of natural rock formations before arriving in California. His parents having settled in Fresno, Mark entered UC Berkeley and obtained a B.S. degree in civil engineering. He was one of the better known members of the class of 1905, active in the Skull and Keyes and the Theta Nu Epsilon honor societies, manager of his class Blue and Gold, and playing a prominent role in amateur theatricals, a passion for which he would retain for the rest of his life. 

At UC he met the first of his four wives, Frances “Dolly” Trost (1888–1941). A gifted singer and artist, Dolly was a soloist member of the Treble Clef Society and a contributor to the Blue and Gold, where one of her pen-and-ink wash drawings “attracted great attention, being considered the best in the book,” according to the Oakland Tribune. The newspaper featured her photograph on several occasions, never failing to refer to her beauty. The couple wed in June 1907 and took up residence near Alta Bates hospital before decamping for Nob Hill in San Francisco. 

Having begun his career in workaday civil engineering jobs—he had been superintendent of a placer mine in Plumas County; worked in the engineering department of Southern Pacific; was chief engineer of the Monterey, Fresno & Eastern Railroad; and served as assistant city engineer in Potlach, Idaho before returning to San Francisco to open his own office—Mark had his first chance to develop scenic beauty when John Hopkins Spring subdivided Thousand Oaks in northwest Berkeley. 

Blessed with an abundance of water, Coast Live Oaks, and extraordinary rock formations, the area had been a favored locale of the Ohlone, providing both physical and spiritual sustenance. At the turn of the 20th century, it was still a remote and secluded place that attracted hikers, nature lovers, and picnickers, who named the largest of the rocks: Great Stone Face, Tunnel Rock, Monument Rock, Shasta Rock, Picnic Rock. 

In 1908, while the Chamber of Commerce was waging a quixotic campaign to move the state’s capital to Berkeley, a bond measure proposing to allocate 100 acres in Thousand Oaks for a public park failed at the ballot. The land was soon snapped up by Spring, who had a different vision: an exclusive residential park, with much of its natural beauty privatized. 

The access problem was solved in 1909, when Southern Pacific excavated the Solano Tunnel, allowing streetcars to run north on Arlington Avenue. Spring lost no time and hired Mark Daniels to lay out the tract. 

The profusion of rock outcrops made the tract difficult to develop. Daniels entered into partnership with Vance Craigmiles Osmont, a mining engineer associated with UC and an expert in volcanic rock. In 1905, Osmont had published the book A Geological Section of the Coast Ranges North of the Bay of San Francisco, in which he described St. Helena rhyolite and proposed the term Bodega diorite for the exposed granitic rocks of the Bodega headland. Both these rocks are related to Northbrae rhyolite, the prevailing rock in Thousand Oaks. 

Daniels contoured streets to follow the terrain and curved them around ancient oaks and crags. Lots were sold with their rock outcroppings left intact. Arlington Avenue, the neighborhood’s grand boulevard, was planted in flowers along its full length. The most popular picnic destination, Great Stone Face, was preserved as open space and eventually given to the city for a small public park. 

In 1910, Daniels selected a choice—and very rocky—lot for his own house near the Great Stone Face. Although in later years he would join the AIA and design houses (including his own at Pebble Beach and in Bel-Air, Los Angeles), the rustic shingled house he built is the work of Oakland architect A.W. Smith (1864–1933), one of the Bay Area’s most prolific and versatile home designers of the day. 

A long rectangular structure with wide roof overhangs, the Daniels house is sited parallel to the hillside, obeying the dictum set by Bernard Maybeck for the Hillside Club. It is set well away from the street at the bottom of a sloping stone path. Gigantic boulders hem it in on three sides. One of these is the celebrated Shasta Rock. 

Mark and Frances moved into their new home in early 1911. A year later, one of the front-page stories in the Oakland Tribune recounted how society matron Mrs. Mark Daniels rescued a servant and saved the neighborhood’s reputation by chloroforming to death a skunk found feasting in the garbage can—not exactly what we would characterize as living with nature. 

Meanwhile, the Thousand Oaks real-estate marketing machine was churning away. In charge of sales were the Newell-Murdoch and George Friend companies—Robert C. Newell and George Friend had married two of Spring’s daughters. Newell-Murdoch had also retained Daniels to lay out the Haddon Hill home park on the east shore of Lake Merritt and Forest Hill in San Francisco. In August 1912, the company’s newspaper ad exclaimed, “Thousand Oaks Heights is in the Path of Progress. It is the only way Berkeley can expand […] Here the people must come.”  

Citing the federal census, the ad proclaimed Berkeley one of the fastest growing cities in the state and pointed to Thousand Oaks as “the first time in the history of California that suburban and interurban railroads have constructed lines in a district before it was populated.”  

With streetcars every five minutes, residents could reach San Francisco in 40 minutes and the university campus in ten. The fare was five cents. 

Explaining why the Key Route, Southern Pacific, and the Oakland Traction Company had invested $4,200,000 in extending car lines into Thousand Oaks ahead of the population, the ad delivered this punch line:  

“The people are coming—houses are going up—and soon land values will do the same. Invest a few dollars in Thousand Oaks, then sit back and watch it grow. […] When Thousand Oaks Heights is sold out, there will be no more hill property in the Berkeley district of Alameda County.” Arlington Avenue was dubbed “the street of a million flowers”; a ride on its streetcar line promised “the grandest panorama of the bay ever placed before the eyes of mankind.” 

Next to the Newell-Murdoch ad, the Homesite Realty Company was touting lots in Arlington Oaks, across the road from Thousand Oaks and a little closer in. “We have retained the services of Mark Daniels, landscape engineer of Daniels and Osmont, to pass upon the landscape merit of every piece of land listed with us. If a lot has not unusual beauty we will not handle it,” trumpeted the ad. 

In April 1914, Daniels was appointed landscape engineer for Yosemite National Park, whose condition was judged unkempt and its beauty marred by inartistic buildings and camps.  

Talking to the press, Daniels said, “It is not the object to in any way attempt to add to the beauties of nature within the park, but to develop a plan for the accommodation of utilities so that the government appropriations for each year may cover work to be done in accordance with a carefully worked out and fixed program. The problems in Yosemite Valley are numerous. They comprise sanitation, water supply, lighting, patrolling, fire protection, insect control of concessions and many other things.” 

A mere two months after the appointment, Daniels was elevated to the position of superintendent and landscape engineer of national parks, a job in which he lasted only until December 1915. During his tenure, he opened Big Oak Flat Road to Yosemite and sought to increase public accommodations in the parks. 

When not on government business, Daniels was laying out Sea Cliff and Crocker-Amazon in San Francisco, executing a development system for a subdivision commissioned by the Spring Valley Water Company, and developing an irrigation system in Butte County. 

And then Daniels vanished from Berkeley. His work took him to Monterey and the development of Pebble Beach and the 17-Mile Drive. Several years later, his first marriage in ruins, he would move to Los Angeles, where he would be instrumental in laying out Bel-Air. By the late 1920s, he had expanded his practice to include architecture. Eventually he would return to San Francisco, working on a wide variety of projects, from the Golden Gate International Exposition of 1939–40 to a public housing project in San Francisco’s Chinatown. In 1934, he designed a Berkeley home for his friend and Bohemian Club co-member, the printer John Henry Nash, but Daniels himself would never live here again. 

An army captain in World War One, Mark Daniels was buried in the Golden Gate National Cemetery, San Bruno. Architect Sidney Barker Newsom, who with his brother Noble designed a good number of homes in Thousand Oaks, is also buried there. 

The rocky garden around the Mark Daniels house will be open on BAHA’s Spring House Tour, May 6, between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. 

 

Daniella Thompson publishes berkeleyheritage.com for the Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association (BAHA). 

 

Photograph By Daniella Thompson 

The rocky garden around the Mark Daniels house in Thousand Oaks will be open on BAHA’s spring house tour, May 6.  

 

Among the Rocks: Houses and Gardens in Thousand Oaks 

Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association Spring House Tour 

Sunday, May 6, 2007 

1 p.m.–5 p.m. 

Tickets: $35; BAHA members $25 

(510) 841-2242 

www.berkeleyheritage.com 

 

 

 


About the House: Strapping Young Water Heater Turns 10 Years Old

By Matt Cantor
Friday April 20, 2007

I am a total crank. I admit it. I can’t help myself. I think this just the way Lord Shiva made me and there ain’t too darned much I can do about it. Some things just rile me, chafe and get under my pink semi-translucent skin and one of those things is the utter and thorough inability of just about everyone in the building trades to properly strap a water heater.  

Now, this may seem a silly, small and niggling thing but it’s not. It’s genuinely important and I’ll take a few minutes (if you’ll bear up) and explain why. I will also, of course, explain how one ought to do this vital task). 

In the January of 1997, just about 10 years ago, California began enforcing a law that required the sellers of homes to strap their water heaters prior to delivery, to their eager new recipients. At first, it was understandable that plumbers and handyfolk would get this wrong and so I made excuses and waved the little booklet around and asked that these be done again.  

No problem. Well, of course they nearly all got fixed wrong and as time went on, my face got longer and more beleaguered and eventually, I just lost all composure. Now this job isn’t all that complex. It’s also been 10 years and only a small fraction seem able to get it right. I don’t get it. I think the real problem is that nobody really understands what’s at stake.  

I’ll never forget this one image from the Northridge earthquake of 1994 (the one that resulted in the law). A field of burned lawns and those funny rectangles of concrete representing the former homes of football stars and grocery clerks. Well beyond the little squares lay the remains of water heaters, often yards from each house. 

It took me a minute but the fuzz cleared to reveal what had happened. Water heaters had caromed about in these houses and crashed through doors or walls and ended up far from where they had perched before things went all wonky.  

Water heaters are very heavy and their gas and water connections are far too flimsy to restrain so great a mass. Also, earthquake forces love objects like this and slender straps become something of a joke. Only a serious pair of heavy straps, bolted into framing seem able to work when the shaking gets grand. In the absence of these, gas lines torn open, deploy their ordinance and the result tends to be quick and devastating. 

The architect’s office of the state (yes, Yuri, there is a State Architect) published a short booklet to go with the new law and I see them from time to time, usually taped onto the front face of a poorly strapped water heater just for comic relief. If you read it, it’s pretty straight forward. Two straps of heavy gauge metal (you can buy a kit in most hardware stores these day that’s plenty adequate) for any water heater of up to 52 gallons. I’ve never seen a 52 gallon water heater so I’m not sure who came up with that! 

The straps need to be bolted, not nailed, not screwed, not glued, bolted into the actual framing of the house. If you want to bolt to something else, you need to make sure that the thing you bolt to is well bolted to something else. I’ve seen more than a few goofynesses related to this but it’s just not that complex if a little effort is applied. 

Straps need to hold the water heater against some surface and not merely off in space. This is perhaps the most common cognitive failure I see. A pair of heavy straps might be used but they leave a large gap between the water heater and the wall, as though the water heater will know, when the earthquake begins, that it should observe this perimeter and not attempt any silly business like bouncing off the wall and shredding its straps (which is exactly what it will do).  

No strap or bolt is sized to withstand the force of 500 pounds bouncing off a wall. They just don’t make them big or strong enough. The only thing that really works is to keep the water heater from developing that level of acceleration and the only way to do that is to read the instruction (it says it right in the booklet and shows it in every picture for those who don’t read) and install the straps so that there is no bounce room. Straps should tighten the tank right up against the backing and thus prevent the sort of movement that can liberate the beast. 

It’s really best and easiest to do this against an exterior wall (from the inside or outside) and even easier in a corner. Nonetheless, sometimes they have to be strapped inside the basement some distance away.  

I’d generally opt for replumbing at the better location but when there is no other choice, one will need to build a small wall right behind the tank. Said wall will have to connect boldly to both top (floor framing?) and bottom (basement slab?) with the same level of bolting that the strap itself demands.  

Another thing to be tuned into is the spacing of the straps. One strap should be just above the controls (within 4” if possible) and the other should be near the top (within 9”). Now this seems logical but I will see one in the middle and one at the top all the time as though the lights are on and nobody’s been home for a while. 

There are a range of other bizarre aberrations often seen but let it be sufficient to say that not 10 percent of these jobs are done vaguely right and there’s just no excuse. The instructions are readily available and the materials are cheap. Also, the consequences are really quite serious. 

True, I would very much like every house in the Bay Area to have a valve that will automatically shut off the gas in a quake and, yes, this would eliminate the fire concern from flying water heaters but there is at least one other darned good reason to overtake inertia and get this done and it’s all about clean drinking water. Every water heater contains many gallons (30, 40, 52?) of clean, fresh drinking water (unless you haven’t used your hot water lately!) because water is constantly flushing through the tank.  

If you have your water heater strapped and it’s stayed in one place, you might be the only folks on your block with fresh drinking water in the sober days that will follow a local temblor and that’s nothing to shake a divining rod at. 

 

Got a question about home repairs and inspections? Send them to Matt Cantor at mgcantor@pacbell.net. 


Column: The Public Eye: Looking for Accountability in Iraq

By Bob Burnett
Tuesday April 17, 2007

The latest Gallup Poll indicates that Americans continue to be deeply divided about Iraq. What’s been ignored in this bitter debate is the issue of political stability: How long should the United States stay in Iraq if the elected government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki fails to meet its commitments? Most Americans believe that while the United States should bolster Iraqi security, the government of Iraq must function on its own. The commander of U.S. Forces General David Petraeus acknowledges this: “A military solution to Iraq is not possible;” there has to be a political solution. The key to the future of Iraq is the Bush administration’s willingness to hold the Iraqi government accountable. 

Accountability has been a prominent theme in the speeches of President Bush and conservative dogma. In his 2006 State of the Union address Bush observed: “Raising up a democracy requires the rule of law, and protection of minorities, and strong, accountable institutions that last longer than a single vote.” Unfortunately, Bush has not applied these standards in Iraq.  

The Bush administration refuses to hold the government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki accountable for essential decisions: electoral reform, a formula for sharing oil revenues, control of militias, and stabilization of Iraq security forces. Writing in the New York Times, Iraq Study Group member Leon Panetta observed: President Bush “must make the Iraqi government understand that future financial and military support is going to depend on Baghdad’s making substantial progress toward the milestones Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has publicly committed to... Unfortunately, with a few exceptions, little progress has been made.” 

Panetta goes on to list the specific milestones that have been missed. Many of these have to do with democratic reforms, provision for regional elections and constitutional amendments. A key issue still to be determined is regulation of the Iraqi oil industry and oil revenue sharing among the provinces. All the reconciliation issues have yet to be resolved: for example, the pending de-Baathification law to permit former members of the Baath party to participate in public affairs. There’s been no progress on laws controlling militias. And, on the vital issue of security the results have been similarly dismal; the Iraqis have not taken over control of the Iraq Army and seem unlikely to meet two key 2007 milestones: taking over civil control of all provinces and achieving “total security self-reliance.” 

Rather than frame the Iraqi debate on how long our troops should stay in Iraq, it’s better to ask: When will the government of Iraq be functional? When will they be able to keep their commitments? President Bush is unwilling to view Iraq from this perspective; he continues to define “victory” as military success rather than as a function of the viability of the al-Maliki government. 

Two weeks ago, the House and Senate passed military appropriations bills. The public debate focused on whether these bills went too far—restricting President Bush’s conduct of the war—or not far enough—denying funds for “surge” forces. Lost in this cacophony was the fact that these bills also call upon President Bush to hold the Iraqi government accountable for the reforms they promised. 

The House Bill, HR 1591, directs the president to report to Congress by July 1 on three issues: militias, reconciliation, and “whether the government of Iraq and United States Armed Forces are making substantial progress in reducing the level of sectarian violence in Iraq.” By Oct. 1, President Bush must certify that the government of Iraq has met five milestones: “a broadly accepted hydro-carbon law that equitably shares oil revenues among all Iraqis;” establishment of “provincial and local elections;” new laws guaranteeing fair treatment of former members of the Baath Party; amendments to the Iraqi constitutions that guarantee the rights of women and human rights, in general; and the Iraqi government must begin to spend “$10 billion in Iraqi revenues for reconstruction projects.” If President Bush finds that some of these efforts have not taken place, or if he fails to make the certification, “the secretary of Defense shall commence the redeployment of the Armed Forces from Iraq and complete such re-deployment within 180 days.” 

The fundamentals of accountability are clear: negotiate with the other party in good faith; arrive at a set of measurable objectives; agree on what will happen if either party fails to keep their commitments; measure the results; and honor the terms of the agreement. The United States has negotiated an agreement with the government of Iraq. If the elected Iraqi leadership fails to meet its commitments then we have no choice but to hold them accountable and withdraw US forces. That’s what the Congressional legislation specifies and that’s what most Americans expect. 

Nonetheless, President Bush remains unwilling to hold the Iraqi government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki accountable. No wonder, because Bush is unwilling to be held accountable for his own mistakes. That’s why Congress must intervene to ensure that someone is held accountable for the tragedy of Iraq. 

 

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


Column: Challenging the Ordinary With Notaries, Declarations, Certificates, Affidavits

By Susan Parker
Tuesday April 17, 2007

March 20, 2007 

Re: R. Hager Estate, Account #xxxxxx 

To Whom it May Concern: 

 

I am forwarding you the enclosed paperwork at the request of Cassandra Yeman. 

Today’s phone call was one of many interactions I have had with your company in the past six months. Each time I speak to a representative I get different instructions on how I am to close my deceased husband’s account. In October I was told to download the forms from the E-Trade website. I called back because I had questions. After being transferred numerous times, I was put in touch with an “expert” on account closure. We went over the information. The forms she was using were different from those I had downloaded, but she said it did not matter, that they were essentially the same.  

A few days later I spoke to another representative to confirm that I had completed the information correctly. Her name was Sheri Medina. Among other changes, she informed me that the company address listed on the paperwork was wrong. Perhaps you should remove 10911 White Rock Road Rancho Cordova, CA from your website. 

I sent a death certificate and notarized information to you on Nov. 13. I heard nothing, so I called your company in January and was told that the paperwork was in process and I would be receiving a check soon. I called again today because it has been two months and I have not received the funds. I was informed that you needed a new notarized Letter of Instruction because the original notarized Letter of Instruction was worded incorrectly. Additionally, a new account must be created in my name in order to close the old account.  

I get the distinct impression that no one in your company wants to close an account, or knows how to do so. 

I hope the enclosed paperwork and letter from my lawyer will put an end to this dilemma and that I will receive my husband’s funds soon.  

Sincerely, 

Susan Parker 

 

(Response letter received April 12, 2007) 

Hello Mrs. Hager, 

Please notarize the form and also fill out the individual account application in order for us to transfer the account in your name. 

Thank you. 

Cassandra. Yeman 

 

April 13, 2007 

To Whom It May Concern: 

What kind of company sends out four new forms to an individual and asks them to get one of them notarized but does not specify which one? Who sends out a business letter that is not dated, has no return address, and does not have a contact telephone number so that one can follow up? How do I get in touch with Cassandra Yeman to learn how to complete the new forms she has sent me, and to determine which form to notarize? Why is there a period after Cassandra? 

Today I spoke with Olive Martin. She said it didn’t matter which boxes I checked in the enclosed Investment Account Application. She instructed me to complete the forms, notarize the Declaration, and send it to the general E-Trade mailbox. Upon receiving the paperwork a new account in my name would be created. I could then withdraw the money by calling E-Trade. 

Please forward my complaints to Mr. E-Trade. Tell him that the message on his company answering machine about avoiding excessive paperwork in order to save the environment is ludicrous, and that only the first half of the E-Trade marketing slogan, We Keep Challenging the Ordinary to Help Investors Be Extraordinary, is correct.  

Sincerely, 

Susan Parker  

 

P.S. Please see Trust, Estate, and Conservatorship Account Application (pages 9 and 11), Letters of Instruction (1 and 2), Death Certificate, Investment Account Application (pages 1 and 3), Affidavit of Domicile, March 20, 2007 letter, and Declaration (from lawyer) for the correct spelling of my name. Thanks!


Wild Neighbors: En Garde! Jays Discover the Pointed Stick

By Joe Eaton
Tuesday April 17, 2007

I know: another corvid column. But bear with me. Every now and then I trawl the technical literature at the UC library, and this time I found a jay-and-crow story in the Wilson Journal of Ornithology that’s too good to keep. 

You may have read about the clan of chimpanzees in West Africa who have been reported as using weapons to obtain their favorite meal of bushbaby-on-a-stick—a step beyond previous observations of tool use. Now Russell Balda has documented an apparent case of weapon use by not just one, but two species of birds—a Steller’s jay and an American crow. Balda, not just any feederwatcher, is an authority on the pinyon jay and runs the Avian Cognition Laboratory at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, a site of cutting-edge research into corvid intelligence. 

A word on nomenclature: yes, it’s “Steller’s,” not “stellar.” Everybody seems to get that wrong. Although this crested black-and-blue jay could be said to have a certain star quality, it was named for its discoverer, the 18th-century Russian naturalist Georg Steller. Steller, one of the few survivors of the ill-starred Bering Expedition to the North Pacific, had a short and tragic life, and the least we can do in his memory is get the names of his jay, his sea lion, and his eider (among other species) right. 

So Balda, on an April morning three years ago, is in his office outside which is a meter-square feeding platform. A crow is on the platform eating sunflower seeds. Two jays—maybe a pair; it’s hard to tell with jays—land in a nearby mountain mahogany bush. The jays seem annoyed by the crow’s presence. One flies to the platform and scolds the larger bird, which fails to react. The jay feints toward the crow with its bill; the crow feints back. The jay flies up to the roof of the building, then divebombs the crow. The crow keeps eating. End of Round One. 

Then the jay does something remarkable. It goes back to the mountain mahogany and breaks off a twig from a dead branch. Holding the twig in its beak, pointed end forward, it returns to the feeding platform and lunges at the crow. It’s a near miss. The crow lunges in its turn, startling the jay, which flies up and drops the twig onto the platform. 

And the crow picks it up, again pointed end forward, and thrusts it at the jay. Whereupon the jay on the platform and its partner in the bush both fly off, pursued by the twig-carrying crow. 

Now, there’s a considerable literature on tool use in birds of the crow family, with examples from the Eurasian common crow and the blue jay of eastern North America, among others. Tool-making reaches its pinnacle in the New Caledonian crow, which constructs (you can’t really say a handless creature manufactures) various types of tools to extract insect grubs from rotten wood, and carries the tools around with it from foraging site to foraging site. Tool use seems to correlate to brain size, and corvids have the largest brains (in proportion to body weight) among birds, outscoring even parrots. 

Weapons are another story, limited to anecdotes about ravens and crows dropping objects on humans that got too close to their nests. 

But Balda is convinced that weapon-making and weapon use is what he saw: “Behaviors that are classically associated with lance or spear use were observed in this bout. The jay first selected and prepared an object that could readily be used as a spear, and then lunged at the crow with the spear … The crow retrieved the twig and possibly used it against the jay. The current report may be the first incident of a bird holding an object and using it in a weapon-like fashion during an aggressive action against another bird.” 

At this point nothing much a crow or jay could do would surprise me much, with the possible exception of text-messaging. If you have Steller’s jays or western scrub-jays at your own feeder, they’ll obviously bear watching.


Arts & Events

Arts Calendar

Friday April 20, 2007

FRIDAY, APRIL 20 

THEATER 

Actors Ensemble of Berkeley “Lysistrata” Fri. and Sat. at 8 p.m. at Live Oak Theater, 1301 Shattuck Ave. at Berryman, through May 12. Tickets are $12. 525-1620. www.aeofberkeley.org 

Aurora Theatre “Private Jokes, Public Places” Wed.-Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 2 and 7 p.m. at 2081 Addison St., through May 13. Tickets are $38. 843-4822. 

Barestage “Cabaret” Fri. and Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 2 p.m. at 72 Cesar Chavez Center, UC Campus, through April 28. Tickets are $8-$12. 642-3880. 

Berkeley Rep “Blue Door” at 8 p.m. at 2025 Addison St., through May 20. Tickets are $45-$61. 647-2949. www.berkeleyrep.org 

Contra Costa Civic Theater “A Streetcar Named Desire” Tennesse Williams’ Pulitzer Prize winning play opens at 8 p.m. Fri. and Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 2 p.m. at Contra Costa Civic Theatre, 951 Pomona Ave., El Cerrito. Runs through May 12. Tickets are $8-$11. 524-9132. www.ccct.org  

Impact Theatre “Measure for Measure” Thurs.-Sat. at 8 p.m. at La Val’s Subterranean, 1834 Euclid Ave., through May 26.Tickets are $10-$15. 464-4468. 

Masquers Playhouse “She Loves Me” Fri. and Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 2:30 p.m. at Masquers Playhouse, 105 Park Place, Point Richmond, through May 12.Tickets are $18. 232-4031. www.masquers.org  

Shotgun Players “Blood Wedding” Thurs.-Sun. at 8 p.m. at the Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby Ave., through April 29. Tickets are $17-$25. 841-6500. www.shotgunplayers.org 

EXHIBITIONS 

“Four Decades of Bestselling Poetry” by Small Press Distribution, on display at the Berkeley Public Library, 2090 Kittredge St., to April 30. 981-6107. 

“Big World Little World” artwork by Emily Nachison and Robin Weinert. Opening reception at 5 p.m. at Transmissions Gallery, 1177 San Pablo Ave. Exhibition runs through May 31. 558-4084. 

“Un Lugar Solitario” Paintings by Michelle Ramirez. Exhibit closing at 7 p.m. at The Gallery of Urban Art, 1746 13th St., Oakland. 706-1697. 

“Partners in Paint - The Tuesday Drawing Group” exhibition opens with a reception at 6 p.m. at the Addison Street Windows Gallery, 2018 Addison St. 981-7533. 

FILM 

Aki Kaurismäki Film Festival “Man Without a Past” in Finnish with English subtitles, at 7:30 p.m., at Finnish Kaleva Hall, 1970 Chestnut St. Cost is $5. 849-0125. 

READINGS AND LECTURES 

Nancy Silverton describes “A Twist of the Wrist: Quick Meals with Ingredients from Jars, Cans, Bags, and Boxes” at 7 p.m. at Cody’s Books on Fourth St. 559-9500. 

Cristina Garcia reads from her new novel “A Handbook to Luck” at 7:30 p.m. at Mrs. Dalloways, 2904 College Ave. 704-8222. 

MUSIC AND DANCE 

Berkeley Dance Project 2007 “The Reception” choreography and tele-immersion technology at 8 p.m. at Zellerbach Playhouse, UC Campus. Tickets are $10-$14. 642-9925. 

Oakland East Bay Symphony at 8 p.m. at Paramount Theater, 2025 Broadway, Oakland. Pre-concert lecture at 7 p.m.. Tickets are $15-$62. 652-8497. www.oebs.org 

University Chamber Chorus will perform the medieval version of Carmina Burana at 8 p.m. at Hertz Hall, UC Campus. Tickets are $4-$12. 642-9988. 

Akosua Oakland based, Ghanaian-American singer-songwriter at 8 p.m. at Mills College Concert Hall, 5000 MacArthur Blvd., Oakland. 430-2255. 

National Jazz Appreciation Month Youth Music Extravaganza at 7 p.m. at Oakland Public Conservatory of Music, 1616 Franklin St., Oakland. 836-4649.  

Free Jazz Fridays with Phillip Greenlief, saxophone, Damon Smith, bass and Spirit, frums and percussion, at 8 p.m. at 1510 Eighth St. Performance Space, Oakland. Cost is $5-$15 sliding scale. 415-846-9432. 

Dennis Edwards, piano, at 8 p.m. at Giorgi Gallery, 2911 Claremont Ave. Cost is $12-$15. 848-1221.  

Lura, Portuguese chanteuse at 8 p.m. at Wheeler Auditorium, UC Campus, Bancroft Way at Telegraph Ave. Tickets are $30. 642-9988. 

The Michetons, Wetbrain in support of the Algalita Marine Research Foundation at 5 p.m. at Lower Sproul Plaza, UC Campus.  

Friends of Deir Ibzi’a Benefit with the Georges Lammam Ensemble, at 9 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $20. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

Stephanie Ozer and Lorenzo Kristov at 8 p.m. at the Jazz 

school. Cost is $10. 845-5373.  

Eric Swinderman Quartet at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $12. 841-JAZZ. www.AnnasJazzIsland.com 

Pickpocket Ensemble, klezmer-jazz CD release party at 8 p.m. at the Hillside Club, 2286 Cedar St Tickets are $10-$15. www.hillsideclub.org 

Albino, The Flux at 9:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $13. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

Judea Eden Band at 8 p.m. at Caffe Trieste, 2500 San Pablo Ave., at Dwight. 548-5198.  

Patty Larkin at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $24.50-$25.50. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 

Crooked Roads Band and Derek See at 7:30 p.m. at Nomad Cafe, 6500 Shattuck Ave. 595-5344. 

John Howland Trio, Waywarad Sway, Joshua Eden at 9:30 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $7. 841-2082.  

Diskonto, Stormcrow, Catheter at 8 p.m. at 924 Gilman St., an all-ages, member-run, no alcohol, no drugs, no violence club. Cost is $7. 525-9926. 

Kevin Beadles Band at 9:30 p.m. at Beckett’s Irish Pub, 2271 Shattuck Ave. 647-1790.  

Bayonics, Felonius at 9 p.m. at Shattuck Down Low, 2284 Shattuck Ave. Cost is $7. 548-1159.  

Kapakahi at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 848-8277. 

Flatbush, Re:ignition at 8:30 p.m. at the Uptown Nightclub, 1928 Telegraph, Oakland. Cost is $10. 451-8100. www.uptownnightclub.com 

Forrest Day’s 420 Party at 8 p.m. at Oakland Metro, 201 Broadway. Cost is $10. 763-1146. www.oaklandmetro.org 

Keiko Matsui at 8 and 10 p.m., through Sun. at Yoshi’s at Jack London Square. Cost is $24-$28. 238-9200. www.yoshis.com 

SATURDAY, APRIL 21 

CHILDREN  

Los Amiguitos de La Peña with Melissa Rivera & Maria Fernanda at 10:30 a.m. at La Peña. Cost is $4 for adults, $3 for children. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

Madeleine Dunphy describes “Here is the Southwestern Desert” and “Here is the Coral Reef” at 4 p.m. at Cody’s Books on Fourth St. 559-9500. 

Celebration of Children’s Literature Day with children's authors, illustrators, storytellers and entertainers, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Tolman Hall, UC Campus. 642-0137. 

Active Arts Theatre for Young Audiences “Manzi: The Adventures of Young Cesar Chavez” at 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. and Sun. at 2 p.m. at Julia Morgan Center for the Arts, 2640 College Ave. Tickets are $10-$18. 925-798-1300. 

EXHIBITIONS 

“Amazing Blooms” Group show of paintings, photography, sculpture and other media. Opening reception at 6 p.m. at Expressions Gallery, 2035 Ashby Ave. Exhibit runs to June 1. 644-4930. www.expressionsgallery.org 

“Children’s Art, Childcare and the Home Front, 1943-1966” Fifty paintings on the childcare centers funded by the Kaiser shipyards. Reception at 1 p.m. at the Museum of Children’s Art, 538 Ninth St., Oakland. Exhibition runs to June 3. 465-8770. 

FILM 

Flamenco Film Screening “Enrique Morente: Alhambra Daydreams” at 8 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center, 3105 Shattuck Ave. 849-2568 ext. 20. 

Aki Kaurismäki Film Festival “I Hired a Contract Killer” at 1 p.m., “Ariel” at 4 p.m., “Lights in the Dusk” at 7:30 p.m. at Finnish Kaleva Hall, 1970 Chestnut St. Cost is $5 for each film, or $15 for the series. 849-0125. 

EXHIBITIONS 

Traditional Zuni Fetish Carvings by Lena Boone on display Sat. and Sun. at Gathering Tribes, 1573 Solano Ave. 528-9038. 

“Dreaming Nature” the works of QiRe Ching and music by Cornelius Boots at 6 p.m. at Float Gallery, 1091 Calcot Place, #116, Oakland. info@TheFloatCenter.com 

READINGS AND LECTURES 

A Conversation with Jim Campbell on his current interactive installation at noon at the Berkeley Art Museum, 2626 Bancroft Way. 642-0808. 

“On the Wings of a Story: Second Annual Storytelling Festival” celebrates National Library Week with stories in words, dance, and song, from 1 to 3 p.m. at the West Oakland Branch Library, 1801 Adeline St. Sponsored by the Urban Librarians Project. 238-7352. 

Cara Black reads from her latest Parisian Mystery “Murder on the Ile St. Louis” at 4 p.m. at Mrs. Dalloways, 2904 College Ave. 704-8222. 

MUSIC AND DANCE 

Berkeley Dance Project 2007 “The Reception” choreography and tele-immersion technology at 8 p.m. at Zellerbach Playhouse, UC Campus. Tickets are $10-$14. 642-9925. 

San Francisco Chamber Orchestra “The Devil Made Me Do It!” with the Mark Foehringer Dance Project at 8 p.m. at the Julia Morgan Center for the Arts, 2640 College Ave. Free. 248-1640. www.sfchamberorchestra.org 

Berkeley Broadway Singers “It Might As Well Be Spring” at 8 p.m. at St. Ambrose Church, 1145 Gilman St. Free, donations appreciated. 604-5732. www.berkeleybroadwaysingers.org 

University Chorus will perform Carl Orff’s version of Carmina Burana at 3 p.m. at Hertz Hall, UC Campus. Free. 642-4864. http://music.berkeley.edu 

“Virtue and the Viper” Italian Thirteenth Century Music from the Court of the Visconti at 8 p.m. at St. John’s Presbyterian Church, 2727 College at Garber. Tickets are $10-$25. 528-1725. www.sfems.org 

The Hats, a capella, at noon at Cafe Zeste, 1250 Addison St. at Bonar, in the Strawberry Creek Park complex. 704-9378. 

Lloyd Gregory Quintet at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $12. 841-JAZZ. www.AnnasJazzIsland.com 

Resination, reggae, at 9:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $15. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com  

Holler Town and Brad “The Dudeboy” Rogers at 7:30 p.m. at Nomad Cafe, 6500 Shattuck Ave. 595-5344. www.nomadcafe.net 

Barbara Higbie & Friends at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $20.50-$21.50. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 

Wil Blades, Scott Amendola at 8 p.m. at the Jazzschool. Cost is $15. 845-5373. www.jazzschool.com 

Nicole McRory at 9:30 p.m. at Beckett’s Irish Pub, 2271 Shattuck Ave. 647-1790. www.beckettsirishpub.com 

Mark Holzinger & Friends, guitar, at 8 p.m. at Spuds Pizza, 3290 Adeline St. Cost is $7. 558-0881. 

4 one Funk, Band of Brotherz, Alphabet Soup at 8:30 p.m. at the Uptown Nightclub, 1928 Telegraph, Oakland. Cost is $12. 451-8100.  

Antioquia, The Flux, Green Machine at 9:30 p.m. at The Starry Plough. All ages show. Cost is $7. 841-2082. www.starryploughpub.com 

Skip Heller Trio at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 848-8277. 

Jefree Star, Order of the White Rose at 8 p.m. at 924 Gilman St., an all-ages, member-run, no alcohol, no drugs, no violence club. Cost is $6. 525-9926. 

SUNDAY, APRIL 22 

EXHIBITIONS 

“Constructions” Works by Jenny Honnert Abell, Marya Krogstad and Thomas Morphis. Opening reception at 2 p.m. at Berkeley Art Center, 1275 Walnut St. in Live Oak Park. www.berkeleyartcenter.org 

“Vanishing Victorians” opens at the Berkeley History Center at 3 p.m. at 1931 Center St. See examples of Victorian Gothic, Stick Eastlake, Italianate, Queen Anne, and Classic Revival, that can be found throughout Berkeley, as well as examples of those that were lost. Regular hours are Thurs.-Sat. 1 to 4 p.m. 848-0181. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/histsoc/ 

THEATER 

“The Earth is Humming” Dramatization of dreams at 2 p.m. at The Dream Institute, 1672 University Ave. 845-1767. 

READINGS AND LECTURES 

Vine and Fig Tree: Poetry and Music for Peace in the Middle East at 2:30 p.m. at Kehilla Community Synagogue, 1300 Grand Ave., Piedmont. 891-7197. 

Valerie Miner describes “After Eden” her novel on the meaning of home and homelessness at 4 p.m. at Cody’s Books on Fourth St. 559-9500. 

Judith Taylor reads from “Tangible Memories: Californians and Their Gardens 1800-1950” at 4 p.m. at Mrs. Dalloways, 2904 College Ave. 704-8222. 

Paul D’Amato discusses “The Meaning of Marxism” at 5 p.m. at Black Oak Books. 486-0698. www.blackoakbooks.com 

Poetry Flash with Barbara Ras and Robert Thomas at 7:30 p.m. at Black Oak Books. 525-5476. www.poetryflash.org 

MUSIC AND DANCE 

Berkeley Arts Festival “Music of Schoenberg and His Students” with Jerry Kuderna, piano and Nora L. Martin, vocalist at 8 p.m. at the former Fidelity Building, 2323 Shattuck Ave. www.berkeleyartsfestival .com 

Berkeley Dance Project 2007 “The Reception” choreography and tele-immersion technology at 7 p.m. at Zellerbach Playhouse, UC Campus. Tickets are $10-$14. 642-9925. 

Chamber Music Sundaes with San Francisco Symphony musicians and friends at 3 p.m. at St. John's Presbyterian Church, 2727 College Ave. Tickets at the door are $18-$22. 415-753-2792. www.chambermusicsundaes.org  

Berkeley Broadway Singers “It Might As Well Be Spring” at 4 p.m. at St. Augustine's Church, 400 Alcatraz, betwn. Telegraph and College, Oakland. Free, donations accepted. 604-5732.www.berkeleybroadwaysingers.org 

Music in the Community Two concerts with various groups performing classical and jazz, at 4 and 7 p.m. at St. Alban’s Episcopal Church, 1501 Washington Ave., Albany. Suggested donation $20 per concert or $35 for both. 524-0411. 

Oakland Lyric Opera “Romantic Opera Scenes” at 2 p.m. at Chapel of the Chimes, 4499 Piedmont Ave. Tickets are $18-$20. Reservations requested. 836-6772. www.oaklandlyricopera.org 

George Mann, Roy Zimmerman, and Faith Petric, satirical songs and radical folk music at 8 p.m. at Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists, 1924 Cedar St. at Bonita. Suggested donation $5-$10. 841-4824. 

University Wind Ensemble at 3 p.m. at Hertz Hall, UC Campus. Tickets are $32. 642-9988. 

Melanie O’Reilly & Tir na Mara at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $12. 841-JAZZ. www.AnnasJazzIsland.com 

The Prince Myshkins & The Fromer Family, political satire and music, at 8 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $10-$12. 849-2568.  

Trumpet Supergroup at 4:30 at the Jazzschool. Cost is $15. 845-5373.  

Battle of the Bands at 6 p.m. at Oakland Metro, 201 Broadway. Cost is $10. 763-1146.  

Josh Brill at 11 a.m. at Nomad Cafe, 6500 Shattuck Ave. 595-5344. www.nomadcafe.net 

Shinehead at 8 p.m. at Shattuck Down Low, 2284 Shattuck Ave. Cost is $15-$20. 548-1159.  

MONDAY, APRIL 23 

READINGS AND LECTURES 

“Art and the Old and New Downtown” with Kevin Consey, Director, Berkeley Art Museum and Jim Novesel, Architect and Planner at 7 p.m. at Berkeley Public Library, 2090 Kittredge St. 981-6150. 

“Shakespear as a Calling” A celebration of Shakespeare’s Birthday at 7 p.m. at the Northbrae Community Church, 941 The Alameda. 843-6798. 

Aurora Theatre Staged Readings “Over the Mountain” by Brian Thorstenson at 7:30 p.m. at 2081 Addison St. For tickets call 843-4822. 

Felicia Luna Lemus and Aaron Petrovich read from their new novels “Like Son” and “The Session” at 7 p.m. at Cody’s Books on Fourth St. 559-9500. 

Poetry Express with Kirk Lumpkin at 7 p.m., at Priya Restaurant, 2072 San Pablo Ave. 644-3977. 

MUSIC AND DANCE 

Average Dyke Band in a benefit for CodePINK at 6 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $23. For tickets call 524-2776.  

Megan Lynch and Mike Anglin, bluegrass, at 7 p.m. at Le Bateau Ivre, 2629 Telegraph Ave. 849-1100.  

West Coast Songwriters Showcase at 7:30 p.m. at Freight and Salvage Coffee House. Cost is $5. 548-1761  

Musica Ha Disconnesso traditional Italian music, at 7 p.m. at Caffe Trieste, 2500 San Pablo Ave., at Dwight. 548-5198.  

Chabot College at 8 and 10 p.m. at Yoshi’s at Jack London Square. Cost is $10. 238-9200.  

TUESDAY, APRIL 24 

THEATER 

Tell It On Tuesday Solo performances at 7:30 p.m. at Julia Morgan Center for the Arts, 2640 College Ave. Tickets are $8-$12 sliding scale available at the door. 

FILM 

Academy Film Archive: Recent Preservations with Mark Toscano at 7:30 p.m. at the Pacific Film Archive. Cost is $4-$8. 642-0808. www.bampfa.berkeley.edu 

READINGS AND LECTURES 

Michelle Goldberg presents her new book, “Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism” at 6:30 p.m. in the 3rd floor Community Meeting Room, Berkeley Public Library, 2090 Kitredge St. 981-6107. www.berkeleypubliclibrary.org  

 

 

 

 

Jacob Needleman talks about “Why Can’t We Be Good?” at 7:30 p.m. at First Congregational Church of Berkeley, 2345 Channing Way. Free, but donation of $10 suggested. 559-9500. 

A Conversation with Roger Scruton and Zaid Shakir on “Can We Talk About God? Devotion and Extremeism in the Modern Age” at 7 p.m. at International House, 2299 Piedmont Ave. 582-1979. www.zaytuna.org 

Shawna Yang Ryan reads afrom “Locke 1928” at 7 p.m. at Black Oak Books. 486-0698. www.blackoakbooks.com 

Stephen Prothero discusses “Religious Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know—And Doesn’t” at 7 p.m. at Cody’s Books on Fourth St. 559-9500. 

MUSIC AND DANCE 

Swamp Coolers at 8:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cajun dance lesson at 8 p.m. Cost is $10. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

Singers’ Open Mic with Ellen Hoffman at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. 841-JAZZ. www.AnnasJazzIsland.com 

Randy Craig Trio at 7 p.m. at Caffe Trieste, 2500 San Pablo Ave., at Dwight. 548-5198.  

Sachal Vasandani at 8 and 10 p.m. at Yoshi’s at Jack London Square. Cost is $6-$10. 238-9200. www.yoshis.com 

Jazzschool Tuesdays, a weekly showcase of up-and-coming ensembles from Berkeley Jazzschool at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 848-8277. 

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 25 

EXHIBITIONS 

“When We Were Very Young” Photography by Nicole Beck Opening reception at 5:30 p.m. at North Gallery, 5231 College Ave. at Broadway, Oakland. Presented by California Colllege of the Arts. www.cca.edu 

FILM 

History of Cinema “An Injury to One” at 3 p.m. at the Pacific Film Archive. Cost is $4-$8. 642-0808. www.bampfa.berkeley.edu 

READINGS AND LECTURES 

Poetry Flash presents Robin Becker reading from “The Horse Fair” and Alison Luterman reading from “The Largest Possible Life” at 7 p.m. at Black Oak Books. 486-0698. www.blackoakbooks.com 

Writing Teachers Write with Cyrus Armajani and students from “Write to Read” at 5 p.m. at Nomad Cafe, 6500 Shattuck Ave. 595-5344. www.nomadcafe.net 

Roberta Maisel reads from “All Grown Up: Living Happily Ever After with Your Adult Children” at 7:30 p.m. at JCC of the East BAy, 1414 Walnut St. Cost is $10-$20, benefits Aquarian Minyan. 465-3935. 

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 

Music for the Spirit with Ron McKean on harpsichord at 12:15 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church of Oakland, 2619 Broadway. 444-3555. 

South Berkeley Youth Arts Summit with the Longfellow Middle School Jazz Band and Peace Choir, La Peña Children’s Chorus and The Lab Live Hip Hop Ensemble at 7 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $7-$10. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

Salif Keita, griot music from West Africa at 8 p.m. at Zellerbach Hall, UC Campus. Tickets are $22-$42. 642-9988. www.calperfs.berkeley.edu 

U.C. Jazz at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $6. 841-JAZZ. www.AnnasJazzIsland.com 

Balkan Folkdance at 8 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Dance lesson at 7:30 p.m. Cost is $7. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

Rumba Cafe 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.  

Whiskey Brothers Old Time and Bluegrass at 9 p.m. at Albatross, 1822 San Pablo Ave. 843-2473. www.albatrosspub.com 

Brown Bums at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 848-8277. 

Stacey Earle & Mark Stuart at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $17.50-$18.50. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 

Beckett’s Family Reunion with Nicole and the Sisters in Soul at 9:30 p.m. at Beckett’s Irish Pub, 2271 Shattuck Ave. 647-1790. www.beckettsirishpub.com 

Nels Cline Singers at 8 and 10 p.m. at Yoshi’s at Jack London Square. Cost is $10-$15. 238-9200. www.yoshis.com 

THURSDAY, APRIL 26 

THEATER 

Subterranean Shakespeare “Macbeth” opens at 8 p.m. at the Berkeley Art Center, 1275 Walnut St., near Rose in Live Oak Park, and runs Thurs.-Sat. to May 26. Tickets are $12-$17. 276-3871.  

EXHIBITIONS 

“Prayer for Peace” Mixed media works by Lucien Kubo. Reception at 6 p.m. at Oakland’s Asian Resource Gallery, 310 Eighth St., corner of Harrison. 287-5353. 

READINGS AND LECTURES 

“Thousand Oaks” An illustrated lecture on one of Berkeley’s unique neighborhoods by Trish Hawthorne at 8 p.m. in the Chapel, Northbrae Community Church, 941 The Alameda. Presented by Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association. Cost is $10. 841-2242. www.berkeleyheritage.com 

“Bernard Maybeck and the Hillside Movement” A lecture by Tim Holt at 7:30 p.m. at 2286 Cedar St. Cost is $5. 843-8724. 

An Evening with Greg Palast on “Armed Madhouse: From Baghdad to New Orleans: Sordid Secrets and Strange Tales of a White House Gone Wild” at 6:30 p.m. at Grand Lake Theater, 3200 Grand Ave., Oakland. Tickets are $10-$24 avalable from www.gregpalast.com  

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

Regan McMahon describes “Revolution in the Bleachers: How Parents Can Take Back Family Life in a World Gone Crazy Over Youth Sports” at 7 p.m. at Cody’s Books on Fourth St. 559-9500. 

MUSIC AND DANCE 

Mo’ Phone at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is 85. 841-JAZZ. www.AnnasJazzIsland.com 

Teed Rockwell, touch-style fretboard and Hindustani ragas, at 7 p.m. at Caffe Trieste, 2500 San Pablo Ave., at Dwight. 548-5198.  

The Winter Blanket, The Trenchermen, Lindi Wiggins at 9:30 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $6. 841-2082 www.starryploughpub.com 

Rafael Manriquez in concert and celebrating his 60th birthday at 7 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $10-$20. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

Marian McPartland at 8 and 10 p.m., through Sun. at Yoshi’s at Jack London Square. Cost is $20-$24. 238-9200. www.yoshis.com 

Bombay Crawlers, The Privies, Attack Formation at 8:30 p.m. at the Uptown Nightclub, 1928 Telegraph, Oakland. Cost is $7. 451-8100. www.uptownnightclub.com 

Headnodic & Raashan Ahmad at 9:30 p.m. at Shattuck Down Low, 2284 Shattuck Ave. Cost is $5. 548-1159.  


Arts and Entertainment Around the East Bay

Friday April 20, 2007

‘PARTNERS IN PAINT’ 

 

The Addison Street Windows Gallery opens a new exhibition, “Partners in Paint: The Tuesday Drawing Group,” with a reception at 6 p.m. today (Friday). The Addison Street Windows Gallery is located at 2018 Addison St., across the street from the Berkeley Repertory and Aurora theaters. 981-7533. 

 

FREE-JAZZ FRIDAYS 

 

As part of its Free-Jazz Fridays, The Jazz House presents Phillip Greenlief (saxophone), Damon Smity (bass), and Spirit (drums and percussion) in “Bush of Ghosts” at 8 p.m. today (Friday) at The Performance Space. Taking the name from Nigerian writer Amos Tutuola’s surrealist novel My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, this improvising trio will take listeners on a journey that veers from the quiet of Zen meditations to the sonic romps of free jazz, and everywhere in between. 1510 Eighth St., Oakland. $5-$15, sliding scale. (415) 846-9432. 

 

ANTONIONI CLASSICS 

 

Pacific Film Archive continues its Michelangelo Antonioni retrospective with Beyond the Clouds (1995) at 8:50 pm. Featuring John Malkovich, Marcello Mastroianni and Jeanne Moreau. 2575 Bancroft Way. $4-$8. www.bampfa.berkeley.edu. 

 

‘BLOOD WEDDING’ 

 

Shotgun Players has extended its production of Federico Garcia Lorca’s Blood Wedding through April 29. This production of Lorca’s fiery story of passion, jealousy and tragedy features flamenco dance choreographed by Yaelisa and accompanied by guitarist David McLean. 8 p.m. Thursday through Sunday at the Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby Ave. $17-$25. 841-6500. www.shotgunplayers.org. 


Moving Pictures: Finding Poetry Amid the Horror of World War II

By Justin DeFreitas
Friday April 20, 2007

Kon Ichikawa directed nearly 30 films in his native Japan before anyone took much notice of him. He was a studio director, taking assignments and completing them dutifully if not artfully. It was only when he and his wife/co-scenarist Natto Wada began developing their own projects that Ichikawa received his due recognition. 

Two of his most renowned works, The Burmese Harp (1956) and Fires on the Plain (1959), have recently been released on DVD by Criterion.  

The Burmese Harp is often hailed as one of the masterpieces of Japanese humanist cinema. Based on a novel by Michio Takeyama, it is a thoughtful and compassionate view of Japanese soldiers fighting in Burma during World War II. A regiment, led by a captain who was a musician before the war, surrenders to British forces after the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The captain has trained his men to sing as a choir and one member of the company has learned to play the Burmese harp, accompanying his comrades in cathartic folk songs during their imprisonment at the hands of the British. (If the oft-repeated theme seems familiar, it’s for good reason; it’s a Japanese derivation of “Home Sweet Home.”) 

These men are patriotic and rue the fall of the Imperial Army, yet they are only human and thus weary of battle, eager to return home not only to surviving friends and family, but to do to their part in reconstructing their decimated nation. When the captain, who eloquently gives voice to this sentiment, learns that another Japanese regiment is entrenched on a mountain, refusing to surrender even though the war is over, he dispatches one of his men, Mizushima, the harp player, to ascend the mountain and persuade the stubborn company to surrender. When the company’s captain refuses, Mizushima’s company believes that he has perished on the mountain in the ensuing round of bombing. 

As Mizushima’s company mourns the loss of their comrade, the captain is especially distraught, guilt-ridden for having sent the soldier needlessly to his death after the war’s conclusion. At one point his men ask him to let go of the notion that Mizushima may have survived, for although the company has come across a Buddhist monk who resembles him, they cannot confirm his identity. It would be easier, they say, to simply believe that the resemblance is coincidence.  

Meanwhile Ichikawa catches us up on Mizushima’s story. Wounded by the bombing, he is nursed back to health by a Buddhist monk. When he is able to walk again, Mizushima steals the monk’s robes to use as a disguise while trying to make his way back to his regiment. But he is waylaid by the grief and trauma he discovers along the way in the form of Japanese corpses, strewn across the landscape and abandoned to the elements. Mizushima is compelled to give proper burials to all he comes upon, and in the process he undergoes a transformation, the impostor monk becoming a true monk. And it is here that Ichikawa is at his best, seamlessly blending Mizushima’s physical and spiritual journeys with beautifully expressive technique. The director keeps the horizon always high in the frame, allowing his shots to be dominated by the rocky foreground, rough terrain that must be traversed en route to that horizon. Thus we see Mizushima struggling across the blood-stained landscape, his feet cut and bleeding, his soul tormented by the plight of his fallen countrymen. 

 

Fires on the Plain, based on the 1952 novel by Shohei Ooka, is starker in its vision of warfare; it is a more harrowing version of a similar tale—more graphic, more comic, more disturbing. 

Again, a Japanese soldier is left to fend for himself in a foreign land, this time the Philippines. Private Tamura makes his way across another rough landscape, encountering fellow soldiers along the way who, like him, have descended to varying degrees of depravity under horrific conditions. If The Burmese Harp focused on what was best in the soldiers of Japan’s Imperial Army, Fires on the Plain casts a merciless gaze on the worst. Soldiers are reduced to primitive survivalists, using, abusing and defrauding each other of the necessities of survival. It’s like an adult version of Lord of the Flies.  

But Ichikawa again manages to find the poetry in the turmoil, this time with a lovely metaphor of insects unable to see the greater world and context of their struggle, but concerned only with immediate obstacles. Our first glimpse of this device comes when Private Tamura takes a minute to marvel at an ant, placing it in his hand and watching it scramble madly across his palm. The metaphor comes more clearly into focus a bit later, when a group of Japanese soldiers attempts to cross a road and field under cover of darkness, right under the noses of Allied forces. One particularly artful shot shows the soldiers descending from the top of the frame, clinging to roots and vines as they scamper down an embankment, like so many insects filtering down the screen. They then writhe through tall grass toward the road, where they slowly crawl on all fours en masse like an infestation set on destroying the crops across the way. 

Another memorable sequence presents a more light-hearted view of the conditions of survival. A pair of abandoned shoes lay on a path in the forest. The camera stays fixed on them as a soldier comes along, inspects them, and exchanges them for his own, followed by another soldier who does the same and so on down the line, until Tamura approaches and looks balefully through the soleless shoes before opting to go without shoes altogether. In the DVD’s liner notes critic Chuck Stephens points out the scene’s debt to Chaplin. While the scene obviously owes much to the famous boiled boot sequence from The Gold Rush (1925), it also calls to mind Chaplin’s short film Shoulder Arms (1918), which humorously and poignantly depicted the trials and tribulations of the little Tramp character while serving in the trenches of World War I. 

More broadly though, Ichikawa has adopted the overall aesthetic of Chaplin, that genre-defying blend of pathos and humor that seeks to find truth and humanity amid deprivation and tragedy. With The Burmese Harp he finds dignity among the rank-and-file of the aggressive Imperial Army, and in Fires on the Plain he finds humanity and visual poetry amid the most gruesome of conditions. 

 

THE BURMESE HARP (1956). 116 minutes. FIRES ON THE PLAIN (1959). 104 minutes. 

Published by Criterion. $29.95. www.criterionco.com.


Hertz Hall Hosts Medieval and Modern ‘Carmina Burana’

By Ken Bullock, Special to the Planet
Friday April 20, 2007

Composer Carl Orff’s 20th century “scenic cantata,” Carmina Burana, and the 13th century collection of songs that inspired Orff’s “reimagining” will both be performed—probably for the first time ever in this format, “back to back, recto to verso”—by the University Chorus and Chamber Chorus with guest soloists and musicians, under the direction of Marika Kuzma. 

The medieval songs will be performed tonight (Friday) at 8 p.m., Hertz Hall on the UC Berkeley campus and Orff’s Carmina Burana will be performed at Hertz Hall at 3 p.m. Saturday, free, as part of Cal Day. 

The medieval Carmina Burana will be repeated Sunday at 7 p.m., St. Dominic’s Church, 2390 Bush St., San Francisco—also for free, with free parking provided. 

The medieval songs of the Carmina Burana, which the University Chamber Chorus will perform tonight are from a manuscript collection found in the abbey at Benediktbeurn, Bavaria, in Latin, German and French, created and sung by Goliards, vagantes, wandering scholars who sang for their supper while on the road from one university to another, singing of wine and love, and satirizing the clergy.  

The performance will be staged, based on materials from Thomas Binkley’s production (where Kuzma assisted Binkley, and several of the guest musicians played) at the Early Music Festival in 1990 (Binkley’s Studio der fruhen Musik originally recorded selections for Teldec.) Guest instrumentalists include guitarists Paul Binkley (Thomas Binkley’s nephew, who will play on Binkley’s instruments) and Michael Bresloff, recorder players Francis Felden and Kit Higginson, harpist Cheryl Ann Fulton, Shira Kammen and Roy Whelden on vielles and percussionist Peter Maund, with choreography by Charles Moulton. 

Carl Orff’s (1895-1982) “scenic cantata” was first performed in Frankfurt in 1937, becoming the first piece of Trionfi, a trilogy including Catulli Carmini (1943) and Trionfo Di Afrodite (1953). Orff, who divided his time between children’s musical education, conducting, designing percussion instruments (which earned the monicker “Orff instruments”) and editing old musical manuscripts, took 25 songs from the medieval collection of the Carmina Burana, mounting them in three parts ( “Springtime,” “In the Tavern” and “The Court of Love”) to realize his modern work, with his signature techniques of building climaxes through repetition, avoiding counterpoint, emphasizing chorus and percussion, and using mimed staging.  

Orff taught at the Munich Academy of Music in his hometown, also co-founding there in 1924 the Gunther Schule for music and movement with Dorothee Gunther. After the age of 40, Orff devoted himself solely to theatrical music, from incidental stage music to operas like Antigone (1946), setting the translation of Sophocles by Romantic poet Friedrich Holderlin. His educational activities were discontinued by the Nazis; in 1948, the postwar government put him on radio to teach, with worldwide impact. 

The University Chorus’ production will be performed in the piano-percussion arrangement with soloists Axel Van Chee, Gregory Fair and Candace Johnson, with pianists Karen Rosenak and Jeffrey Sykes, and percussionist Florian Canzetti. 

Both versions will be conducted by Marika Kuzma. 

“So few people know the origin and contexts of the songs which inspired Orff,” Kuzma said, “that it may come as a surprise how different the sensibilty is. Something I’ve loved about working with the student choruses on this is that these songs from the 13th century are from students, in their search for pleasure and wisdom, and it’s been student imagination and student energy coming together with the original to put this show on. 

The students of the 13th century were, in their way, singing of the nature of true values and even something like the separation of church and state. There are so many lines back and forth between past and present. Orff refers to the 13th century, which referred back to antiquity. And in Thomas Binkley’s version, you can hear very clearly the influence of other cultures. It sounds very Middle Eastern.” 

 

The medieval songs will be performed at 8 p.m. tonight (Friday) at Hertz Hall on the UC Berkeley campus. Tickets ($4-$12) are available at the Zellerbach Box Office, 642-9988, tickets.edu.berkeley or an hour before the show at Hertz Hall Box Office. 

Orff’s Carmina Burana will be performed at Hertz Hall at 3 p.m. Saturday, free, as part of Cal Day. 

The medieval Carmina Burana will be repeated at 7 p.m. Sunday at St. Dominic’s Church, 2390 Bush St., San Francisco. Free, with free parking provided as well. 


East Bay Then and Now: Daniels Excelled in Developing and Marketing Scenic Beauty

By Daniella Thompson
Friday April 20, 2007

Nobody recognized the commercial value of natural scenery better than Mark Daniels.  

“Developing and selling landscape beauty is perhaps the only way in which a man of the community may have the cake and eat it, too,” he said in June 1914, addressing the Tourist Association of Central California at the Shattuck Hotel in Berkeley. “[T]he visitor does not take one jot from the landscape or the community […] in return for the money he contributes, nor does the natural beauty of a district or country need to be repaired or replanted each year. And yet the community may sell it and resell it without losing any part of the original bulk of the commodity.” 

Two years earlier, in a booklet titled Hillside Homes and Gardens, Daniels extolled the advantages of hill dwelling: 

The great history-making nations of the world have invariably been mountain or hill folk, dwelling near the sea. […] If we wish to develop within ourselves the capacity for inspiration, ambition and a sense of the bigness of things, there is no better way than to seek an environment of inspiring view, where may be seen a portion of the world of sufficient magnitude to give us better perspective and a better sense of the relative importance of things. 

But Daniels did much more than speak on the subject. Civil engineer, planner, landscape engineer, national park superintendent, and eventually architect, Daniels (1881–1952) was perhaps the most accomplished practitioner in California of the art of developing and marketing scenic beauty. 

Born in Spring Arbor, Mich., the young Daniels will have seen his share of natural rock formations before arriving in California. His parents having settled in Fresno, Mark entered UC Berkeley and obtained a B.S. degree in civil engineering. He was one of the better known members of the class of 1905, active in the Skull and Keyes and the Theta Nu Epsilon honor societies, manager of his class Blue and Gold, and playing a prominent role in amateur theatricals, a passion for which he would retain for the rest of his life. 

At UC he met the first of his four wives, Frances “Dolly” Trost (1888–1941). A gifted singer and artist, Dolly was a soloist member of the Treble Clef Society and a contributor to the Blue and Gold, where one of her pen-and-ink wash drawings “attracted great attention, being considered the best in the book,” according to the Oakland Tribune. The newspaper featured her photograph on several occasions, never failing to refer to her beauty. The couple wed in June 1907 and took up residence near Alta Bates hospital before decamping for Nob Hill in San Francisco. 

Having begun his career in workaday civil engineering jobs—he had been superintendent of a placer mine in Plumas County; worked in the engineering department of Southern Pacific; was chief engineer of the Monterey, Fresno & Eastern Railroad; and served as assistant city engineer in Potlach, Idaho before returning to San Francisco to open his own office—Mark had his first chance to develop scenic beauty when John Hopkins Spring subdivided Thousand Oaks in northwest Berkeley. 

Blessed with an abundance of water, Coast Live Oaks, and extraordinary rock formations, the area had been a favored locale of the Ohlone, providing both physical and spiritual sustenance. At the turn of the 20th century, it was still a remote and secluded place that attracted hikers, nature lovers, and picnickers, who named the largest of the rocks: Great Stone Face, Tunnel Rock, Monument Rock, Shasta Rock, Picnic Rock. 

In 1908, while the Chamber of Commerce was waging a quixotic campaign to move the state’s capital to Berkeley, a bond measure proposing to allocate 100 acres in Thousand Oaks for a public park failed at the ballot. The land was soon snapped up by Spring, who had a different vision: an exclusive residential park, with much of its natural beauty privatized. 

The access problem was solved in 1909, when Southern Pacific excavated the Solano Tunnel, allowing streetcars to run north on Arlington Avenue. Spring lost no time and hired Mark Daniels to lay out the tract. 

The profusion of rock outcrops made the tract difficult to develop. Daniels entered into partnership with Vance Craigmiles Osmont, a mining engineer associated with UC and an expert in volcanic rock. In 1905, Osmont had published the book A Geological Section of the Coast Ranges North of the Bay of San Francisco, in which he described St. Helena rhyolite and proposed the term Bodega diorite for the exposed granitic rocks of the Bodega headland. Both these rocks are related to Northbrae rhyolite, the prevailing rock in Thousand Oaks. 

Daniels contoured streets to follow the terrain and curved them around ancient oaks and crags. Lots were sold with their rock outcroppings left intact. Arlington Avenue, the neighborhood’s grand boulevard, was planted in flowers along its full length. The most popular picnic destination, Great Stone Face, was preserved as open space and eventually given to the city for a small public park. 

In 1910, Daniels selected a choice—and very rocky—lot for his own house near the Great Stone Face. Although in later years he would join the AIA and design houses (including his own at Pebble Beach and in Bel-Air, Los Angeles), the rustic shingled house he built is the work of Oakland architect A.W. Smith (1864–1933), one of the Bay Area’s most prolific and versatile home designers of the day. 

A long rectangular structure with wide roof overhangs, the Daniels house is sited parallel to the hillside, obeying the dictum set by Bernard Maybeck for the Hillside Club. It is set well away from the street at the bottom of a sloping stone path. Gigantic boulders hem it in on three sides. One of these is the celebrated Shasta Rock. 

Mark and Frances moved into their new home in early 1911. A year later, one of the front-page stories in the Oakland Tribune recounted how society matron Mrs. Mark Daniels rescued a servant and saved the neighborhood’s reputation by chloroforming to death a skunk found feasting in the garbage can—not exactly what we would characterize as living with nature. 

Meanwhile, the Thousand Oaks real-estate marketing machine was churning away. In charge of sales were the Newell-Murdoch and George Friend companies—Robert C. Newell and George Friend had married two of Spring’s daughters. Newell-Murdoch had also retained Daniels to lay out the Haddon Hill home park on the east shore of Lake Merritt and Forest Hill in San Francisco. In August 1912, the company’s newspaper ad exclaimed, “Thousand Oaks Heights is in the Path of Progress. It is the only way Berkeley can expand […] Here the people must come.”  

Citing the federal census, the ad proclaimed Berkeley one of the fastest growing cities in the state and pointed to Thousand Oaks as “the first time in the history of California that suburban and interurban railroads have constructed lines in a district before it was populated.”  

With streetcars every five minutes, residents could reach San Francisco in 40 minutes and the university campus in ten. The fare was five cents. 

Explaining why the Key Route, Southern Pacific, and the Oakland Traction Company had invested $4,200,000 in extending car lines into Thousand Oaks ahead of the population, the ad delivered this punch line:  

“The people are coming—houses are going up—and soon land values will do the same. Invest a few dollars in Thousand Oaks, then sit back and watch it grow. […] When Thousand Oaks Heights is sold out, there will be no more hill property in the Berkeley district of Alameda County.” Arlington Avenue was dubbed “the street of a million flowers”; a ride on its streetcar line promised “the grandest panorama of the bay ever placed before the eyes of mankind.” 

Next to the Newell-Murdoch ad, the Homesite Realty Company was touting lots in Arlington Oaks, across the road from Thousand Oaks and a little closer in. “We have retained the services of Mark Daniels, landscape engineer of Daniels and Osmont, to pass upon the landscape merit of every piece of land listed with us. If a lot has not unusual beauty we will not handle it,” trumpeted the ad. 

In April 1914, Daniels was appointed landscape engineer for Yosemite National Park, whose condition was judged unkempt and its beauty marred by inartistic buildings and camps.  

Talking to the press, Daniels said, “It is not the object to in any way attempt to add to the beauties of nature within the park, but to develop a plan for the accommodation of utilities so that the government appropriations for each year may cover work to be done in accordance with a carefully worked out and fixed program. The problems in Yosemite Valley are numerous. They comprise sanitation, water supply, lighting, patrolling, fire protection, insect control of concessions and many other things.” 

A mere two months after the appointment, Daniels was elevated to the position of superintendent and landscape engineer of national parks, a job in which he lasted only until December 1915. During his tenure, he opened Big Oak Flat Road to Yosemite and sought to increase public accommodations in the parks. 

When not on government business, Daniels was laying out Sea Cliff and Crocker-Amazon in San Francisco, executing a development system for a subdivision commissioned by the Spring Valley Water Company, and developing an irrigation system in Butte County. 

And then Daniels vanished from Berkeley. His work took him to Monterey and the development of Pebble Beach and the 17-Mile Drive. Several years later, his first marriage in ruins, he would move to Los Angeles, where he would be instrumental in laying out Bel-Air. By the late 1920s, he had expanded his practice to include architecture. Eventually he would return to San Francisco, working on a wide variety of projects, from the Golden Gate International Exposition of 1939–40 to a public housing project in San Francisco’s Chinatown. In 1934, he designed a Berkeley home for his friend and Bohemian Club co-member, the printer John Henry Nash, but Daniels himself would never live here again. 

An army captain in World War One, Mark Daniels was buried in the Golden Gate National Cemetery, San Bruno. Architect Sidney Barker Newsom, who with his brother Noble designed a good number of homes in Thousand Oaks, is also buried there. 

The rocky garden around the Mark Daniels house will be open on BAHA’s Spring House Tour, May 6, between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. 

 

Daniella Thompson publishes berkeleyheritage.com for the Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association (BAHA). 

 

Photograph By Daniella Thompson 

The rocky garden around the Mark Daniels house in Thousand Oaks will be open on BAHA’s spring house tour, May 6.  

 

Among the Rocks: Houses and Gardens in Thousand Oaks 

Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association Spring House Tour 

Sunday, May 6, 2007 

1 p.m.–5 p.m. 

Tickets: $35; BAHA members $25 

(510) 841-2242 

www.berkeleyheritage.com 

 

 

 


About the House: Strapping Young Water Heater Turns 10 Years Old

By Matt Cantor
Friday April 20, 2007

I am a total crank. I admit it. I can’t help myself. I think this just the way Lord Shiva made me and there ain’t too darned much I can do about it. Some things just rile me, chafe and get under my pink semi-translucent skin and one of those things is the utter and thorough inability of just about everyone in the building trades to properly strap a water heater.  

Now, this may seem a silly, small and niggling thing but it’s not. It’s genuinely important and I’ll take a few minutes (if you’ll bear up) and explain why. I will also, of course, explain how one ought to do this vital task). 

In the January of 1997, just about 10 years ago, California began enforcing a law that required the sellers of homes to strap their water heaters prior to delivery, to their eager new recipients. At first, it was understandable that plumbers and handyfolk would get this wrong and so I made excuses and waved the little booklet around and asked that these be done again.  

No problem. Well, of course they nearly all got fixed wrong and as time went on, my face got longer and more beleaguered and eventually, I just lost all composure. Now this job isn’t all that complex. It’s also been 10 years and only a small fraction seem able to get it right. I don’t get it. I think the real problem is that nobody really understands what’s at stake.  

I’ll never forget this one image from the Northridge earthquake of 1994 (the one that resulted in the law). A field of burned lawns and those funny rectangles of concrete representing the former homes of football stars and grocery clerks. Well beyond the little squares lay the remains of water heaters, often yards from each house. 

It took me a minute but the fuzz cleared to reveal what had happened. Water heaters had caromed about in these houses and crashed through doors or walls and ended up far from where they had perched before things went all wonky.  

Water heaters are very heavy and their gas and water connections are far too flimsy to restrain so great a mass. Also, earthquake forces love objects like this and slender straps become something of a joke. Only a serious pair of heavy straps, bolted into framing seem able to work when the shaking gets grand. In the absence of these, gas lines torn open, deploy their ordinance and the result tends to be quick and devastating. 

The architect’s office of the state (yes, Yuri, there is a State Architect) published a short booklet to go with the new law and I see them from time to time, usually taped onto the front face of a poorly strapped water heater just for comic relief. If you read it, it’s pretty straight forward. Two straps of heavy gauge metal (you can buy a kit in most hardware stores these day that’s plenty adequate) for any water heater of up to 52 gallons. I’ve never seen a 52 gallon water heater so I’m not sure who came up with that! 

The straps need to be bolted, not nailed, not screwed, not glued, bolted into the actual framing of the house. If you want to bolt to something else, you need to make sure that the thing you bolt to is well bolted to something else. I’ve seen more than a few goofynesses related to this but it’s just not that complex if a little effort is applied. 

Straps need to hold the water heater against some surface and not merely off in space. This is perhaps the most common cognitive failure I see. A pair of heavy straps might be used but they leave a large gap between the water heater and the wall, as though the water heater will know, when the earthquake begins, that it should observe this perimeter and not attempt any silly business like bouncing off the wall and shredding its straps (which is exactly what it will do).  

No strap or bolt is sized to withstand the force of 500 pounds bouncing off a wall. They just don’t make them big or strong enough. The only thing that really works is to keep the water heater from developing that level of acceleration and the only way to do that is to read the instruction (it says it right in the booklet and shows it in every picture for those who don’t read) and install the straps so that there is no bounce room. Straps should tighten the tank right up against the backing and thus prevent the sort of movement that can liberate the beast. 

It’s really best and easiest to do this against an exterior wall (from the inside or outside) and even easier in a corner. Nonetheless, sometimes they have to be strapped inside the basement some distance away.  

I’d generally opt for replumbing at the better location but when there is no other choice, one will need to build a small wall right behind the tank. Said wall will have to connect boldly to both top (floor framing?) and bottom (basement slab?) with the same level of bolting that the strap itself demands.  

Another thing to be tuned into is the spacing of the straps. One strap should be just above the controls (within 4” if possible) and the other should be near the top (within 9”). Now this seems logical but I will see one in the middle and one at the top all the time as though the lights are on and nobody’s been home for a while. 

There are a range of other bizarre aberrations often seen but let it be sufficient to say that not 10 percent of these jobs are done vaguely right and there’s just no excuse. The instructions are readily available and the materials are cheap. Also, the consequences are really quite serious. 

True, I would very much like every house in the Bay Area to have a valve that will automatically shut off the gas in a quake and, yes, this would eliminate the fire concern from flying water heaters but there is at least one other darned good reason to overtake inertia and get this done and it’s all about clean drinking water. Every water heater contains many gallons (30, 40, 52?) of clean, fresh drinking water (unless you haven’t used your hot water lately!) because water is constantly flushing through the tank.  

If you have your water heater strapped and it’s stayed in one place, you might be the only folks on your block with fresh drinking water in the sober days that will follow a local temblor and that’s nothing to shake a divining rod at. 

 

Got a question about home repairs and inspections? Send them to Matt Cantor at mgcantor@pacbell.net. 


Berkeley This Week

Friday April 20, 2007

FRIDAY, APRIL 20 

Impeachment Banner Fridays at 6:45 to 8 a.m. on the Berkeley Pedestrian bridge between Seabreeze Market and the Berkeley Aquatic Park, ongoing on Fridays until impeachment is realized. www. Impeachbush-cheney.com 

City Commons Club Noon Luncheon with Dr. Fred Nachtwey on “Sleep” Luncheon at 11:45 a.m. for $14, speech at 12:30 p.m., at the Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant St. For information and reservations call 526-2925.  

“Tales of Western Ornithologists” with Harry Fuller at 7 p.m. at the Live Oak Recreation Center. Sponsored by Golden Gate Auddubon Society. Cost is $10-$15. 843-2222. 

Oceans Awareness to bring awareness of the problem of plastic in our oceans at 5 p.m. at Lower Sproul Plaza, UC Campus. Sponsored by CALPIRG. 

Alcohol Free Weekend Can You Do It? Take the sober weekend challenge sponsored by UC Berkeley Health Serives. For more information call 642-7202. 

“Tell the Truth and Run: Georges Seldes and the American Press” a film screening at 7 p.m. at Berkeley Fellowship, 1924 Cedar St. Donation $10, no one turned away. Discussion follows with filmmaker Rick Goldsmith. 528-5403. 

“Life and Debt” A documentary about Jamaicans and their strategies for survival, at 7:30 p.m. at Humanist Hall, 390 27th St., midtown Oakland. Donation $5. www.HumanistHall.net 

Power of Now Group meets to discuss the book “The Power of Now” for ages 50 plus at 7 p.m. at 1471 Addison St, behind 1473 Addison. RSVP sterkjohn@yahoo.com  

Red Cross Blood Drive From 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at UCB Unit 2 Dorms, Recreation Room, 2650 Haste. To schedule an appointment go to www.BeADonor.com  

Circle Dancing, simple folk dancing with instruction at 7:30 p.m. at Finnish Brotherhood Hall, 1970 Chestnut St at University. Donation of $5 requested. 528-4253. www.circledancing.com 

Conscious Movie Night “The Secret” at 7:30 p.m. at Center of Light, 2944 76th Ave., Oakland. 635-4286. 

SATURDAY, APRIL 21 

Berkeley Earth Day Fair from noon to 5 p.m. at Civic Cener PArk, MLK and Allston, with cultural performances, activities, food, craft and community booths. 654-6346. 

Earth Day Restoration & Cleanup Program at Eastshore State Park Meet at 10 a.m. behind Sea Breeze Deli off University Ave. and West Frontage Rd. Bring sunscreen, non-slip shoes or boots, gloves, pick. 544-2515. kfusek@ebparks.org 

Kid’s Garden Club for ages 6-9 to explore the world of gardening, from 2 to 4 p.m. at Tilden Nature Area, Tilden Park. Cost is $6-$8, registration required. 636-1684. 

Springtime Pond Plunge See babies of dragonflies, phantom midges, frogs and maybe even newts. Use nets and magnifying glasses to study them up close before we return them to thier watery home. Meet at 2 p.m. at the Tilden Nature Center, Tilden Park. 525-2233. 

Recycle Computer Equipment to help keep it out of landfills. Bring your items to Elephant Pharmacy, 1607 Shattuck Ave. between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. www.elephantpharm.com  

“The Woodpecker’s Toungue: Accuracy in Drawing Birds” with Dan Gleason at 10 a.m. at the Oakland Museum of California, 1000 Oak St. Cost is $5-$8. 238-2200. 

“Introduction to Bio-Intensive Gardening” Learn how to feed your family from your own backyard, from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Grandma Mary’s Organic Farm, 100 Behrens St., El Cerrito. Cost is $75. 527-9271. www.kleiwerks.org  

The 2007 Edith Coliver Festival of Cultures A celebration of cultural unity with dance, drama, food, arts, crafts, exhibits and children’s activities from around the globe, from 10 a.m .to 6 p.m. at International House, 2299 Piedmont Ave. at Bancroft. 642-9461. http://ihouse.berkeley.edu 

Berkeley Alliance of Neighborhood Associations (BANA) meets at 9:30 a.m. at St. John’s Presbyterian Church, Sproul Room, 2727 College Ave. All welcome.  

Peralta Hacienda Historical Park Earth Day Celebration Join us to help clean up the park from 9 a.m. to noon. Meet the Archeologist from 11 a.m. to noon, follwed by a community potluck. For information call 532-9142. 

Car Care Clinic for Women Learn how to avoid the scams and the basics of auto repair and maintenance, at 10 a.m. at Marty’s Motors, 10929 San PAblo Ave., El Cerrito. Free, but RSVP required. 235-6000. 

John Adams’ 60th Birthday Celebration from 1 to 4 p.m. at Crowden Music Center, 1475 Rose St. 559-6910. jstrauss@crowden.org 

Rotary Club of Berkeley “A Night at the Races” with dinner, auctions and horse-races on large screen video, at 5:30 p.m. at Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley, One Lawson Rd., Kensington. Tickets are $50, and funds raised benefit community projects in Berkeley. For reservations call 339-3801. jmasters@cencomfut.com 

Open House at the Earthquake Engineering Research Center, Richmond Field Station. Tour the labs that stimulate the effects of earthquakes, from 1 to 4 p.m. at 1301 S. 46th, St., Bldg. 451, take the Bayview exit off 580 in Richmond. 665-3617. 

Spring Blooming Perennials with Gail Yelland, landscape designer at 10 a.m. at Magic Gardens Nursery, 729 Heinz Ave., off Seventh St. 644-2351. 

Bay Area Socialism Conference from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the ntertribal Friendship House, 523 International Blvd. between 5th & 6th Sts., Oakland. Cost is $10-$20, includes breakfast and lunch. Call to register. 821-6171. 

East Bay Atheists meets to watch a video of Richard Dawkins speaking in Lynchburg, Virginia about his latest book, “The God Delusion” at 1:30 p.m. at Berkeley Public Library, 3rd Floor Meeting Room, 2090 Kittredge St. 222-7580. 

Christians for the Abolition of Torture with Dr. Marc Zarrouati at 1 p.m. in the Small Assembly Room, First Congregational Church of Berkeley, 2345 Channing Way. 848-3696. 

California Writers Club meets to discuss action vs procrastination at 10 a.m. at Barnes & Noble, Jack London Square. 272-0120. 

Everyday Safety Skills for Children from 10 a.m. to noon. Cost is $60, scholarships available. Call to register and for location. 831-426-4407. www.kidpower.org 

Luna Kids Dance Spring Gala at 7 p.m. at Clif Bar Theater, 1610 5th St. Donations $35 and up. 644-3629. 

Musical Pizza Fest and Silent Auction to benefit Dandelion Cooperative Prescool at 4 p.m. at Northbrae Community Center, 941 The Alameda. 526-1735. 

Free Car Seat Check-Up Learn how to protect your children and make sure your car seat is installed correctly. Fomr 10 a.m. to noon in the parking lot of St. Columba Church, 6401 San Pablo Ave., at Alcatraz. Free car seats provided to low-income families. For an appointment call 428-3045. 

Families Dealing with Dementia Seminar from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Mercy Retirement & Care Center, 3431 Foothill Blvd., Oakland. Free. 534-8547. www.mercyretirementcenter.org 

Produce Stand at Spiral Gardens Food Security Project from 1 to 6 p.m. at the corner of Sacramento and Oregon St. 

The Berkeley Lawn Bowling Club provides free instruction every Wed. and Sat. at 10:30 a.m. at 2270 Acton St. 841-2174.  

SUNDAY, APRIL 22 

People’s Park 38th Anniversary Celebration with music, food and activities for children from noon to 6 p.m. at Perople’s Park, just east of Telegraph Ave. on Dwight Way. www.peoplespark.org 

“Open Garden” Join the Little Farm gardener for composting, planting, watering and reaping the rewards of our work, from 2 to 4 p.m. at Tilden Nature Area, Tilden Park. 525-2233.  

Wild and Native Hike Explore native plants in Wildcat Canyon on a brisk 7-mile hike. Bring lunch, liquids, and layers. Meet at 10 a.m. at Tilden Nature Center, Tilden Park. 525-2233. 

“Vanishing Victorians” at the Berkeley Historical Society general meeting from 3 to 5 p.m. at 1931 Center St. 848-0181.  

Restore Wetlands in Oakland Volunteer with Save the Bay in a wetland restoration project near the Oakland Airport, a home for many species, including the California Clapper Rail and Burrowing Owl. Volunteers assist our plant propagation efforts in our on-site Wetland Native Plant Nursery from 9 a.m. to noon RSVP to 452-9261 ext. 109.  

Progressive Democrats of the East Bay General Meeting on The U.S. and Iran: The Standoff, Its Origins, and Its Ramifications, with Shahram Aghamir, an Iranian and producer of Voices of the Middle East and North Africa on KPFA Radio; and Sepideh Khosrowjah, an Iranian playwright and peace and social justice activist, from 1:30 to 4 p.m. at 2161 Allston Way. 636-4149. 

“Savvy Solutions to Global Warming” with Felix Kramer of CalCars, David Hammond of UC Berkeley, and Jane White of Project 3650 at 5 p.m. at the Hillside Club, 2286 Cedar St. Cost is $10. 527 0450. www.berkeleycybersalon.net  

“Beyond Prisons” A talk by author Laura Magnani at 1 p.m. at Berkeley Society of Friends Meeting House, 2151 Vine at Walnut. 843-9725. 

Earth Day at the Kensington Farmer’s Market from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 303 Arlington Ave., Kensington, behind Ace Hardware. 525-7232. 

Music for Babies, parent-led activities in rhythm, finger play, bubbles and more at 9 a.m. at Bananas, 5232 Claremont Ave., Oakland. 658-7353. 

“Living Ship Day” with a commemoration of the “Doolittle Raid” from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Aircraft Carrier UCSS Hornet Museum, Pier 3, 707 W. Hornet Ave., Alameda. Cost is $14 for adults, and $6 for children. 521-8448. 

Berkeley City Club Tour of the “Little Castle” designed by Julia Morgan at 1:15, 2:15 and 3:15 p.m. at 2315 Durant Ave. 883-9710. 

Tibetan Buddhism with Lama Palzang and Pema Gellek on “The Dharma in Asia” at 6 p.m. at the Tibetan Nyingma Institute, 1815 Highland Pl. 843-6812.  

MONDAY, APRIL 23 

“The Energy Problem: What the Helios Project Can Do about It” with Steve Chu, Director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, at 5:30 p.m. at Berkeley Repertory Theater 2025 Addison St. 486-5183. 

Berkeley CopWatch organizational meeting at 8 p.m. at 2022 Blake St. 548-0425.  

TUESDAY, APRIL 24 

Return of the Over-the-Hills Gang Hikers 55 years and older who are interested in nature study, history, fitness, and fun are invited to join us on a series of monthly excursions exploring our Regional Parks. Meet at 10 a.m. at the Big Springs Staging Area off South Park Drive, Tilden Park. For information and to register call 525-2233.  

Tilden Explorers An after-school nature adventure program for 5-7 year olds, who may be accompanied by an adult. We will explore the seasons from 3:15 to 4:45 p.m. at Tilden Nature Center, Tilden Park. Cost is $6-$8, registration required. 636-1684. 

“Can We Talk About God?” Devotion And Extremism In The Modern Age with Roger Scruton, conservative British writer and philosopher, and Zaid Shakir, resident scholar at the Zaytuna Institute at 7 p.m. at International House, 2299 Piedmont Ave. at Bancroft. 582-1979. 

Free Diabetes Screening from 8:15 to 11 a.m. at the North Berkeley Senior Center. Do not eat or drink anything for 8 hours beforehand. 981-5332. 

Berkeley High School Governance Council meets at 4:15 p.m. in the Berkeley Community Theater. 644-4803. 

Berkeley PC Users Group meets at 7 p.m. at 1145 Walnut St. MelDancing@aol.com 

“Hearing Spirit: Social Thresholds and Ears of the Heart” with David Elliot at 7:30 p.m. at Berkeley Buddhist Monastery, 2304 McKinley, at the corner of McKinley and Bancroft. 527-2935. www.ahimsaberkeley.org 

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. 

Fresh Produce Stand at San Pablo Park from 3 to 6 p.m. in the Frances Albrier Community Center. Sponsored by the Ecology Center’s Farm Fresh Choice. 848-1704. www.ecologycenter.org 

Berkeley Camera Club meets at 7:30 p.m., at the Northbrae Community Church, 941 The Alameda. Share your digital images, slides and prints and learn what other photographers are doing. Monthly field trips. 548-3991. www.berkeleycameraclub.org 

St. John’s Prime Timers meets at 9:30 a.m. at St. John’s Presbyterian Church, 2727 College Ave. We offer ongoing classes in exercise and creative arts, and always welcome new members over 50. 845-6830. 

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 25 

Teach-In and Vigil Against American Torture every Wed. at noon at Boalt Hall, Bancroft Way at College Ave.  

Walk, Talk, Buck the Fence What’s at stake in the Ecology of Berkeley’s Strawberry Canyon A walk at 5 p.m. every Wed. with Ignacio Chapela and expert guests to discuss what is at stake in the proposed steps for the filling of the Canyon by the UC-LBL Rad-Labs, and now British Petroleum. http://canyonwalks.blogspot.com  

Earth Day 2007: Will Unchecked Profiteering Kill our Planet? with Tod Brilliant, environmentalist, and Nina Rizzo of Global Exchange at 1:30 p.m. at the North Berkeley Senior Center, 1901 Hearst, corner of MLK. 548-9696. 

New to DVD: “Notes on a Scandal” at 7 p.m. at JCCEB, 1414 Walnut St. Discussion follows. 848-0237. 

Bayswater Book Club meets to discuss “What Do You Say After You Say Hello?” by Eric Berne, M.D. at 6:30 p.m. at Barnes and Noble Coffee Shop, El Cerrito Plaza. 433-2911. 

Walk Berkeley for Seniors meets every Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. at the Sea Breeze Market, just west of the I-80 overpass. Everyone is welcome, wear comfortable shoes and a warm hat. Heavy rain cancels. 548-9840. 

Berkeley Peace Walk and Vigil at the Berkeley BART Station, corner of Shattuck and Center. Sing for Peace at 6:30 p.m. followed by Peace Walk at 7 p.m. www.geocities.com/vigil4peace/vigil 

Stitch ‘n Bitch at 6:30 p.m. at Caffe Trieste, 2500 San Pablo Ave., at Dwight. 548-5198.  

THURSDAY, APRIL 26 

Tilden Explorers An after-school nature adventure program for 5-7 year olds, who may be accompanied by an adult. We will explore the seasons from 3:15 to 4:45 p.m. at Tilden Nature Center, Tilden Park. Cost is $6-$8, registration required. 636-1684. 

“Thousand Oaks” An illustrated lecture on one of Berkeley’s unique neighborhoods by Trish Hawthorne at 8 p.m. in the Chapel, Northbrae Community Church, 941 The Alameda. Presented by Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association. Cost is $10. 841-2242. www.berkeleyheritage.com 

Greg Palast’s “From Baghdad to New Orleans” at 6:30 p.m. at Grand Lake Theater, 3200 Grand Ave., Oakland. Tickets are $5-$10. Sponsored by Speak Out and KPFA FM. 601-0182. 

“Know Your Rights to Break the ICE” An educational forum on immigrant rights at 6:30 p.m. at Rosa Parks Elementary School, 920 Allston Way. Sponsored by Berkeley Organizing Congregations for Action. 665-5821. 

“Esoteric Buddhism During the Song Dynasty” with Prof. Charles D. Orzech, of UNC, at 6:30 p.m. at the Jodo Shinshu Center, 2140 Durant Ave.Free, but RSVP requested. 809-1444. 

Multicultural Dinner and Fundraiser for schools in Nepal, Thailand and Kenya at 5 p.m. at restaurants in Berkeley, followed by a cultural program at Yogakula. Tickets are $25. For information and reservations call 849-4983 or 549-0611. 

Dining Out for Life to Fight AIDS at various East Bay restaurants. For a list of participating restaurants see www.diningoutforlife.org 

“Marxism and the Call of the Future: Conversations on Ethics, History, Politics” at 7 p.m. at 3335 Dwinelle HAll, UC Campus. 848-1196. 

Great Books Discussion Group meets to discuss “Wild Duck” by Henrik Ibsen, at 1:30 p.m. at the Albany Library, 1247 Marin Ave. 526-3700, ext. 16. 

Poetry Workshop with Donna Davis, ongoing on Thurs. from 9 a.m. to noon at the JCCEB, 1414 Walnut St. Donation $10 per semester. 848-0237. 

Easy Does It Emergency Services Board of Directors' Meeting at 6:30 p.m. at 1636 University Ave. All welcome. 845-5513. edi@easyland.org 

World of Plants Tours Thurs., Sat. and Sun. at 1:30 p.m. at the UC Botanical Garden, 200 Centennial Drive. Cost is $5. 643-2755. http://botanicalgarden.berkeley.edu 

ONGOING 

Find a Loving Animal Companion at the Berkeley-East Bay Humane Society Adoption Center (open from 11 a.m. - 7 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday). 2700 Ninth St. 845-7735. www.berkeleyhumane.org  

Medical Care for Your Pet at the Berkeley East Bay Humane Society low-cost veterinary clinic. 2700 Ninth St. For appointments call 845-3633. www.berkeleyhumane.org  

CITY MEETINGS 

Parks and Recreation Commission meets Mon., April 23, at 7 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center. 981-5158.  

Zero Waste Commission Mon., April 23, at 7 p.m., at 1201 Second St. 981-6368.  

City Council meets Tues., April 24, at 7 p.m in City Council Chambers. 981-6900. www.ci. 

berkeley.ca.us/citycouncil 

Civic Arts Commission meets Wed., April 25, at 6:30 p.m. at the North Berkeley Senior Center. 981-7533.  

Disaster and Fire Safety Commission meets Wed., April 25, at 7 p.m., at the Emergency Operations Center, 997 Cedar St. Gil Dong, 981-5502.  

Police Review Commission meets Wed., April 25, at 7:30 p.m. at the North Berkeley Senior Center. 981-4950.  

Zoning Adjustments Board meets Thurs., April 26, at 7 p.m., in City Council Chambers. Mark Rhoades, 981-7410.


Arts Calendar

Tuesday April 17, 2007

TUESDAY, APRIL 17 

CHILDREN 

Marie Cartusciello Storyteller for ages 3 and up at 6:30 p.m. at the Kensington Library, 61 Arlington Ave. 524-3043. 

FILM 

“Anger Rising” The restoration of works by Kenneth Anger at UCLA, with film restorationist Ross Lipman at 7:30 p.m. at the Pacific Film Archive. Cost is $4-$8. 642-0808.  

READINGS AND LECTURES 

Aya De Leon and Poetry for the People at 7:30 p.m. at Moe’s Books, 2476 Telegraph Ave. 849-2087. 

Jerry Beisler reading and slide show from “The Bandit of Kabul” at 7:30 p.m. at Book Zoo, 6395 Telegraph Ave., Oakland. 654-2665. 

Dana Whitaker describes the power of microfinance in “Upending the Status Quo” at 7:30 p.m. at First Congregational Church of Berkeley, 2345 Channing Way. Suggested donation $10. 559-9500. 

MUSIC AND DANCE 

Tom Rigney & Flambeau at 8:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cajun dance lesson at 8 p.m. Cost is $10. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

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

Ledward Kaapana at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $22.50-$23.50. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 

The Kaspar/Sherman Jazz Quartet at 7 p.m. at Caffe Trieste, 2500 San Pablo Ave., at Dwight. 548-5198.  

Music of Dharma Lecture with Reverend Hozan Hardiman at 7 p.m. at the Jodo Shinshu Center, 2140 Durant Ave., at Fulton. Cost is $10.  

Matt Wilson’s Arts & Crafts at 8 and 10 p.m. at Yoshi’s at Jack London Square. Cost is $10-$16. 238-9200. www.yoshis.com 

Jazzschool Tuesdays, a weekly showcase of up-and-coming ensembles at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 848-8277. 

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 18 

EXHIBITIONS 

“eyecatchers” A group show by East Bay women artists. Reception at 6 p.m. at Royal Ground Gallery, 2058 Mountain Blvd., Oakland.  

FILM 

History of Cinema “After Life” at 3 p.m. and “8 Bit” at 8 p.m. at the Pacific Film Archive. Cost is $4-$8. 642-0808.  

READINGS AND LECTURES 

Holocaust survivor Dora Apsan Sorell introduces her book “Tell the Children: Letters to Miriam” at 6:30 p.m. at North Branch, Berkeley Public Library. 981-6250. 

Cesar A. Preciado-Cruz and Timothy Mason read in honor of National Poetry Month at 7 p.m. at the Richmond Public Library, 325 Civic Center Plaza, near Macdonald and 27th St., Richmond. 620-6561. 

Laura Flanders introduces “Blue Grit: True Democrats Take Back Politics from the Politicians” at 7:30 p.m. at First Congregational Church of Berkeley, 2345 Channing Way. Tickets are $5, available at Cody’s. 559-9500. 

Cafe Poetry hosted by Paradise at 7:30 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Donations accepted. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

Berkeley Poetry Slam with host Charles Ellik and Three Blind Mice, at 8:30 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $5-$7. 841-2082  

MUSIC AND DANCE 

Music for the Spirit with Ron McKean on harpsichord, improvisation on Native American ceremonial tunes, at 12:15 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church of Oakland, 2619 Broadway. 444-3555. 

Berkeley Arts Festival: Sarah Cahill and Joseph Kubera: Terry Riley Four Hand Piano Music at 8 p.m. at 2323 Shattuck Ave. Cost is $10-$20. 665-9496. fabarts@silcon.com 

Junius Courtney Big Band, Pete Escovedo & Friends in a fundraiser for music and arts in the Emeryville schools at 7 p.m. at Expression College for Digital Arts, 6601 Shellmound, Emeryville. Tickets are $50 and up. 601-4999.  

Omar Faruk Tekbilek and his Ensemble, Turkish/Middle Eastern at 9 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $18-$22. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

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

Orquestra La Verdad at 9:30 p.m. at Shattuck Down Low, 2284 Shattuck Ave. Cost is $5-$10. 548-1159.  

Taarka at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 848-8277. 

The Angry Philosophers at 9:30 p.m. at Beckett’s Irish Pub, 2271 Shattuck Ave. 647-1790. www.beckettsirishpub.com 

Paul Monouses at 8:30 p.m. at the Uptown Nightclub, 1928 Telegraph, Oakland. Cost is $5. 451-8100.  

Rushad Eggleston & The Butt Wizards at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $18.50-$19.50. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 

Faye Carol Sings Billie Holiday at 8 and 10 p.m. at Yoshi’s at Jack London Square. Cost is $24-$28. 238-9200. www.yoshis.com 

THURSDAY, APRIL 19 

CHILDREN 

Yolanda Rhodes, Storyteller Stories from the African Diaspora at 1 p.m. at the Temescal Branch Library, 5205 Telegraph Ave. 597-5049. 

THEATER 

“The Other Side of the Mirror” written and performed by Lynn Ruth Miller at 8 p.m. at Spud’s Pizza, 3290 Adeline. Cost is $10. 650-355-4296. 

FILM 

Film and Video Makers at Cal “What’s Love Got to Do with It?” at 7:30 p.m. at the Pacific Film Archive. Cost is $4-$8. 642-0808. www.bampfa.berkeley.edu 

READINGS AND LECTURES 

“Mills College: The Architectural History of Walter H. Ratcliffe, Jr.” A lecture by Woodruff Minor at 5:30 p.m. at the Bender Room, Carnegie Hall, Mills College, 5000 MacArthur Blvd., Oakland. RSVP to 430-2125 cmilliga@mills.edu 

Jonathan Cohn describes “Sick: The Untold Story of America’s Health Care Crisis and the People Who Pay the Price” at 7 p.m. at Cody’s Books on Fourth St. 559-9500. 

“Design for Ecological Democracy” with author Randolph Hester at 7:30 p.m. at the Builders Booksource, 1817 4th St. 845-6874. 

MUSIC AND DANCE 

U.C. Berkeley The Movement Showcase Thurs and Fri. at 8 p.m. at Julia Morgan Center for the Arts, 2640 College Ave. Tickets are $8 at the door. 

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

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

Diamante, Latin fusion, at 7 p.m. at Caffe Trieste, 2500 San Pablo Ave., at Dwight. 548-5198.  

Mindx with Melvin Seals, Izabella, at 9 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is TBA. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

Sun House, Midnite Theory at 9:30 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $6. 841-2082 www.starryploughpub.com 

The Cuban Cowboys at 8 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $5-$7. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

Matt Lucas at 9:30 p.m. at Beckett’s Irish Pub, 2271 Shattuck Ave. 647-1790. www.beckettsirishpub.com 

Keiko Matsui at 8 and 10 p.m., through Sun. at Yoshi’s at Jack London Square. Cost is $24-$28. 238-9200. www.yoshis.com 

Headnodic & Raashan Ahmad at 9:30 p.m. at Shattuck Down Low, 2284 Shattuck Ave. Cost is $5. 548-1159.  

The Zoopy Show, The Violent High, Joshua Eagle at 8 p.m. at Oakland Metro, 201 Broadway. Cost is $10. 763-1146. www.oaklandmetro.org 

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

Machine Love at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 848-8277. 

FRIDAY, APRIL 20 

THEATER 

Actors Ensemble of Berkeley “Lysistrata” Fri. and Sat. at 8 p.m. at Live Oak Theater, 1301 Shattuck Ave. at Berryman, through May 12. Tickets are $12. 525-1620. www.aeofberkeley.org 

Aurora Theatre “Private Jokes, Public Places” Wed.-Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 2 and 7 p.m. at 2081 Addison St., through May 13. Tickets are $38. 843-4822. 

Barestage “Cabaret” Fri. and Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 2 p.m. at 72 Cesar Chavez Center, UC Campus, through April 28. Tickets are $8-$12. 642-3880. 

Berkeley Rep “Blue Door” at 8 p.m. at 2025 Addison St., through May 20. Tickets are $45-$61. 647-2949. www.berkeleyrep.org 

Contra Costa Civic Theater “A Streetcar Named Desire” Tennesse Williams’ Pulitzer Prize winning play opens at 8 p.m. Fri. and Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 2 p.m. at Contra Costa Civic Theatre, 951 Pomona Ave., El Cerrito. Runs through May 12. Tickets are $8-$11. 524-9132. www.ccct.org  

Impact Theatre “Measure for Measure” Thurs.-Sat. at 8 p.m. at La Val’s Subterranean, 1834 Euclid Ave., through May 26.Tickets are $10-$15. 464-4468. 

Masquers Playhouse “She Loves Me” Fri. and Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 2:30 p.m. at Masquers Playhouse, 105 Park Place, Point Richmond, through May 12.Tickets are $18. 232-4031. www.masquers.org  

Shotgun Players “Blood Wedding” Thurs.-Sun. at 8 p.m. at the Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby Ave., through April 29. Tickets are $17-$25. 841-6500. www.shotgunplayers.org 

EXHIBITIONS 

“Four Decades of Bestselling Poetry” by Small Press Distribution, on display at the Berkeley Public Library, 2090 Kittredge St., to April 30. 981-6107. 

“Big World Little World” artwork by Emily Nachison and Robin Weinert. Opening reception at 5 p.m. at Transmissions Gallery, 1177 San Pablo Ave. Exhibition runs through May 31. 558-4084. 

“Un Lugar Solitario” Paintings by Michelle Ramirez. Exhibit closing at 7 p.m. at The Gallery of Urban Art, 1746 13th St., Oakland. 706-1697. 

“Partners in Paint - The Tuesday Drawing Group” exhibition opens with a reception at 6 p.m. at the Addison Street Windows Gallery, 2018 Addison St. 981-7533. 

FILM 

Aki Kaurismäki Film Festival “Man Without a Past” in Finnish with English subtitles, at 7:30 p.m., at Finnish Kaleva Hall, 1970 Chestnut St. Cost is $5. 849-0125. 

READINGS AND LECTURES 

Nancy Silverton describes “A Twist of the Wrist: Quick Meals with Ingredients from Jars, Cans, Bags, and Boxes” at 7 p.m. at Cody’s Books on Fourth St. 559-9500. 

Cristina Garcia reads from her new novel “A Handbook to Luck” at 7:30 p.m. at Mrs. Dalloways, 2904 College Ave. 704-8222. 

MUSIC AND DANCE 

Berkeley Dance Project 2007 “The Reception” choreography and tele-immersion technology at 8 p.m. at Zellerbach Playhouse, UC Campus. Tickets are $10-$14. 642-9925. 

Oakland East Bay Symphony at 8 p.m. at Paramount Theater, 2025 Broadway, Oakland. Pre-concert lecture at 7 p.m.. Tickets are $15-$62. 652-8497. www.oebs.org 

University Chamber Chorus will perform the medieval version of Carmina Burana at 8 p.m. at Hertz Hall, UC Campus. Tickets are $4-$12. 642-9988. 

Akosua Oakland based, Ghanaian-American singer-songwriter at 8 p.m. at Mills College Concert Hall, 5000 MacArthur Blvd., Oakland. 430-2255. 

National Jazz Appreciation Month Youth Music Extravaganza at 7 p.m. at Oakland Public Conservatory of Music, 1616 Franklin St., Oakland. 836-4649.  

Dennis Edwards, piano, at 8 p.m. at Giorgi Gallery, 2911 Claremont Ave. Cost is $12-$15. 848-1221.  

Lura, Portuguese chanteuse at 8 p.m. at Wheeler Auditorium, UC Campus, Bancroft Way at Telegraph Ave. Tickets are $30. 642-9988. 

The Michetons, Wetbrain in support of the Algalita Marine Research Foundation at 5 p.m. at Lower Sproul Plaza, UC Campus.  

Friends of Deir Ibzi’a Benefit with the Georges Lammam Ensemble, at 9 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $20. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

Stephanie Ozer and Lorenzo Kristov at 8 p.m. at the Jazz 

school. Cost is $10. 845-5373.  

Eric Swinderman Quartet at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $12. 841-JAZZ. www.AnnasJazzIsland.com 

Pickpocket Ensemble, klezmer-jazz CD release party at 8 p.m. at the Hillside Club, 2286 Cedar St Tickets are $10-$15. www.hillsideclub.org 

Albino, The Flux at 9:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $13. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

Judea Eden Band at 8 p.m. at Caffe Trieste, 2500 San Pablo Ave., at Dwight. 548-5198.  

Patty Larkin at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $24.50-$25.50. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 

Crooked Roads Band and Derek See at 7:30 p.m. at Nomad Cafe, 6500 Shattuck Ave. 595-5344. 

John Howland Trio, Waywarad Sway, Joshua Eden at 9:30 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $7. 841-2082.  

Diskonto, Stormcrow, Catheter at 8 p.m. at 924 Gilman St., an all-ages, member-run, no alcohol, no drugs, no violence club. Cost is $7. 525-9926. 

Kevin Beadles Band at 9:30 p.m. at Beckett’s Irish Pub, 2271 Shattuck Ave. 647-1790.  

Bayonics, Felonius at 9 p.m. at Shattuck Down Low, 2284 Shattuck Ave. Cost is $7. 548-1159.  

Kapakahi at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 848-8277. 

Flatbush, Re:ignition at 8:30 p.m. at the Uptown Nightclub, 1928 Telegraph, Oakland. Cost is $10. 451-8100. www.uptownnightclub.com 

Forrest Day’s 420 Party at 8 p.m. at Oakland Metro, 201 Broadway. Cost is $10. 763-1146. www.oaklandmetro.org 

Keiko Matsui at 8 and 10 p.m., through Sun. at Yoshi’s at Jack London Square. Cost is $24-$28. 238-9200. www.yoshis.com 

SATURDAY, APRIL 21 

CHILDREN  

Los Amiguitos de La Peña with Melissa Rivera & Maria Fernanda at 10:30 a.m. at La Peña. Cost is $4 for adults, $3 for children. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

Madeleine Dunphy describes “Here is the Southwestern Desert” and “Here is the Coral Reef” at 4 p.m. at Cody’s Books on Fourth St. 559-9500. 

Celebration of Children’s Literature Day with children's authors, illustrators, storytellers and entertainers, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Tolman Hall, UC Campus. 642-0137. 

Active Arts Theatre for Young Audiences “Manzi: The Adventures of Young Cesar Chavez” at 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. and Sun. at 2 p.m. at Julia Morgan Center for the Arts, 2640 College Ave. Tickets are $10-$18. 925-798-1300. 

EXHIBITIONS 

“Amazing Blooms” Group show of paintings, photography, sculpture and other media. Opening reception at 6 p.m. at Expressions Gallery, 2035 Ashby Ave. Exhibit runs to June 1. 644-4930. www.expressionsgallery.org 

FILM 

Flamenco Film Screening “Enrique Morente: Alhambra Daydreams” at 8 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center, 3105 Shattuck Ave. 849-2568 ext. 20. 

Aki Kaurismäki Film Festival “I Hired a Contract Killer” at 1 p.m., “Ariel” at 4:30 p.m., “Lights in the Dusk” at 7:30 p.m. at Finnish Kaleva Hall, 1970 Chestnut St. Cost is $5 for each film, or $15 for the series. 849-0125. 

EXHIBITIONS 

Traditional Zuni Fetish Carvings by Lena Boone on display Sat. and Sun. at Gathering Tribes, 1573 Solano Ave. 528-9038. 

“Dreaming Nature” the works of QiRe Ching and music by Cornelius Boots at 6 p.m. at Float Gallery, 1091 Calcot Place, #116, Oakland. info@TheFloatCenter.com 

READINGS AND LECTURES 

A Conversation with Jim Campbell on his current interactive installation at noon at the Berkeley Art Museum, 2626 Bancroft Way. 642-0808. 

“On the Wings of a Story: Second Annual Storytelling Festival” celebrates National Library Week with stories in words, dance, and song, from 1 to 3 p.m. at the West Oakland Branch Library, 1801 Adeline St. Sponsored by the Urban Librarians Project. 238-7352. 

Cara Black reads from her latest Parisian Mystery “Murder on the Ile St. Louis” at 4 p.m. at Mrs. Dalloways, 2904 College Ave. 704-8222. 

MUSIC AND DANCE 

Berkeley Dance Project 2007 “The Reception” choreography and tele-immersion technology at 8 p.m. at Zellerbach Playhouse, UC Campus. Tickets are $10-$14. 642-9925. 

San Francisco Chamber Orchestra “The Devil Made Me Do It!” with the Mark Foehringer Dance Project at 8 p.m. at the Julia Morgan Center for the Arts, 2640 College Ave. Free. 248-1640. www.sfchamberorchestra.org 

Berkeley Broadway Singers “It Might As Well Be Spring” at 8 p.m. at St. Ambrose Church, 1145 Gilman St. Free, donations appreciated. 604-5732. www.berkeleybroadwaysingers.org 

University Chorus will perform Carl Orff’s version of Carmina Burana at 3 p.m. at Hertz Hall, UC Campus. Free. 642-4864. http://music.berkeley.edu 

“Virtue and the Viper” Italian Thirteenth Century Music from the Court of the Visconti at 8 p.m. at St. John’s Presbyterian Church, 2727 College at Garber. Tickets are $10-$25. 528-1725. www.sfems.org 

The Hats, a capella, at noon at Cafe Zeste, 1250 Addison St. at Bonar, in the Strawberry Creek Park complex. 704-9378. 

Lloyd Gregory Quintet at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $12. 841-JAZZ. www.AnnasJazzIsland.com 

Resination, reggae, at 9:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $15. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com  

Holler Town and Brad “The Dudeboy” Rogers at 7:30 p.m. at Nomad Cafe, 6500 Shattuck Ave. 595-5344. www.nomadcafe.net 

 

 

 

 

 

Barbara Higbie & Friends at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $20.50-$21.50. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 

Wil Blades, Scott Amendola at 8 p.m. at the Jazzschool. Cost is $15. 845-5373. www.jazzschool.com 

Nicole McRory at 9:30 p.m. at Beckett’s Irish Pub, 2271 Shattuck Ave. 647-1790. www.beckettsirishpub.com 

Mark Holzinger & Friends, guitar, at 8 p.m. at Spuds Pizza, 3290 Adeline St. Cost is $7. 558-0881. 

4 one Funk, Band of Brotherz, Alphabet Soup at 8:30 p.m. at the Uptown Nightclub, 1928 Telegraph, Oakland. Cost is $12. 451-8100.  

Antioquia, The Flux, Green Machine at 9:30 p.m. at The Starry Plough. All ages show. Cost is $7. 841-2082. www.starryploughpub.com 

Skip Heller Trio at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 848-8277. 

Jefree Star, Order of the White Rose at 8 p.m. at 924 Gilman St., an all-ages, member-run, no alcohol, no drugs, no violence club. Cost is $6. 525-9926. 

SUNDAY, APRIL 22 

EXHIBITIONS 

“Constructions” Works by Jenny Honnert Abell, Marya Krogstad and Thomas Morphis. Opening reception at 2 p.m. at Berkeley Art Center, 1275 Walnut St. in Live Oak Park. www.berkeleyartcenter.org 

“Vanishing Victorians” opens at the Berkeley History Center at 3 p.m. at 1931 Center St. See examples of Victorian Gothic, Stick Eastlake, Italianate, Queen Anne, and Classic Revival, that can be found throughout Berkeley, as well as examples of those that were lost. Regular hours are Thurs.-Sat. 1 to 4 p.m. 848-0181. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/histsoc/ 

THEATER 

“The Earth is Humming” Dramatization of dreams at 2 p.m. at The Dream Institute, 1672 University Ave. 845-1767. 

READINGS AND LECTURES 

Vine and Fig Tree: Poetry and Music for Peace in the Middle East at 2:30 p.m. at Kehilla Community Synagogue, 1300 Grand Ave., Piedmont. 891-7197. 

George Mann, Roy Zimmerman and others, satirical songs and radical folk music, at 8 p.m. at Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists, 1924 Cedar St. Suggested donation $5-$10. 841-4824. 

Valerie Miner describes “After Eden” her novel on the meaning of home and homelessness at 4 p.m. at Cody’s Books on Fourth St. 559-9500. 

Judith Taylor reads from “Tangible Memories: Californians and Their Gardens 1800-1950” at 4 p.m. at Mrs. Dalloways, 2904 College Ave. 704-8222. 

Paul D’Amato discusses “The Meaning of Marxism” at 5 p.m. at Black Oak Books. 486-0698. www.blackoakbooks.com 

Poetry Flash with Barbara Ras and Robert Thomas at 7:30 p.m. at Black Oak Books. 525-5476. www.poetryflash.org 

MUSIC AND DANCE 

Berkeley Arts Festival “Music of Schoenberg and His Students” with Jerry Kuderna, piano and Nora L. Martin, vocalist at 8 p.m. at the former Fidelity Building, 2323 Shattuck Ave. www.berkeleyartsfestival .com 

Berkeley Dance Project 2007 “The Reception” choreography and tele-immersion technology at 7 p.m. at Zellerbach Playhouse, UC Campus. Tickets are $10-$14. 642-9925. 

Chamber Music Sundaes with San Francisco Symphony musicians and friends at 3 p.m. at St. John's Presbyterian Church, 2727 College Ave. Tickets at the door are $18-$22. 415-753-2792. www.chambermusicsundaes.org  

Berkeley Broadway Singers “It Might As Well Be Spring” at 4 p.m. at St. Augustine's Church, 400 Alcatraz, betw. Telegraph and College, Oakland. Free, donations accepted. 604-5732.www.berkeleybroadwaysingers.org 

Music in the Community Two concerts with various groups performing classical and jazz, at 4 and 7 p.m. at St. Alban’s Episcopal Church, 1501 Washington Ave., Albany. Suggested donation $20 per concert or $35 for both. 524-0411. 

Oakland Lyric Opera “Romantic Opera Scenes” at 2 p.m. at Chapel of the Chimes, 4499 Piedmont Ave. Tickets are $18-$20. Reservations requested. 836-6772. www.oaklandlyricopera.org 

University Wind Ensemble at 3 p.m. at Hertz Hall, UC Campus. Tickets are $32. 642-9988. 

Melanie O’Reilly & Tir na Mara at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $12. 841-JAZZ. www.AnnasJazzIsland.com 

The Prince Myshkins & The Fromer Family, political satire and music, at 8 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $10-$12. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

Trumpet Supergroup at 4:30 at the Jazzschool. Cost is $15. 845-5373. www.jazzschool.com 

Battle of the Bands at 6 p.m. at Oakland Metro, 201 Broadway. Cost is $10. 763-1146. www.oaklandmetro.org 

Josh Brill at 11 a.m. at Nomad Cafe, 6500 Shattuck Ave. 595-5344. www.nomadcafe.net 

Shinehead at 8 p.m. at Shattuck Down Low, 2284 Shattuck Ave. Cost is $15-$20. 548-1159.  

MONDAY, APRIL 23 

READINGS AND LECTURES 

“Art and the Old and New Downtown” with Kevin Consey, Director, Berkeley Art Museum and Jim Novesel, Architect and Planner at 7 p.m. at Berkeley Public Library, 2090 Kittredge St. 981-6150. 

Aurora Theatre Staged Readings “Over the Mountain” by Brian Thorstenson at 7:30 p.m. at 2081 Addison St. For tickets call 843-4822. 

Felicia Luna Lemus and Aaron Petrovich read from their new novels “Like Son” and “The Session” at 7 p.m. at Cody’s Books on Fourth St. 559-9500. 

Poetry Express with Kirk Lumpkin at 7 p.m., at Priya Restaurant, 2072 San Pablo Ave. 644-3977. 

MUSIC AND DANCE 

Average Dyke Band in a benefit for CodePINK at 6 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $23. For tickets call 524-2776.  

Megan Lynch and Mike Anglin, bluegrass, at 7 p.m. at Le Bateau Ivre, 2629 Telegraph Ave. 849-1100. www.lebateauivre.net 

West Coast Songwriters Showcase at 7:30 p.m. at Freight and Salvage Coffee House. Cost is $5. 548-1761 www.freightandsalvage.org 

Musica Ha Disconnesso traditional Italian music, at 7 p.m. at Caffe Trieste, 2500 San Pablo Ave., at Dwight. 548-5198.  

Chabot College at 8 and 10 p.m. at Yoshi’s at Jack London Square. Cost is $10. 238-9200. www.yoshis.com 

 

 

 

 

 


Arts and Entertainment Around the East Bay

Tuesday April 17, 2007

CAHILL, KUBERA PLAY RILEY’S ‘WALTZ’ 

 

Duo pianists Sarah Cahill and Joseph Kubera perform vibrant, playful four-hand music by the innovative Bay Area composer Terry Riley, including the premiere of his  

Waltz for Charismas, at 8 p.m. Wednesday.  

This concert is part of the Berkeley Arts Festival, which continues for the next two months.The festival’s new home is the 1925 Walter Ratcliff-designed Fidelity building at 2323 Shattuck Avenue. Tickets for the Wednesday event are $10-$20. 665-9496. 

 

ANGER RISING: THE RESTORATION OF WORKS BY  

KENNETH ANGER 

 

Ross Lipman will present and discuss restorations of the avant garde films of cult icon Kenneth Anger at 7:30 p.m. today (Tuesday) at Pacific Film Archive. The program will include  

Fireworks (1947, 15 minutes), Rabbit’s Moon (1971, 16 minutes), Scorpio Rising (1963, 29 minutes) and Kustom Kar Kommandos (1965, 3 minutes), all courtesy of the UCLA Film and Television Archive. 

 

AYA DE LEON AND POETRY FOR THE  

PEOPLE 

 

Oakland writer/performer Aya de Leon, director of Poetry for the People at UC Berkeley, will read from her poetry at 7:30 p.m. today (Tuesday) at Moe’s Books. 2476 Telegraph Ave. 849-2087.


The Theater: Actors Ensemble Presents ‘Lysistrata’

By Ken Bullock, Special to the Planet
Tuesday April 17, 2007

After the audience has been seated in Live Oak Theatre to a medley of old hits arranged thematically, like “Prisoner of Love,” “It’s a Man’s World,” “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’” and “I’m Glad That You’re Sorry Now” (as well as “Please, Please, Please,” particularly poignant), there’s a drumroll, some commotion behind—and strange glances under the hem of—the draped red curtain, then the entrance of the masked chorus, two young women who toss their masks into the audience with, “Okay, we’re, like, the chorus ... 411—a very bad year to be an Athenian. It’s sucky!” 

And translator Ellen McLaughlin’s version of Aristophanes’ ancient antiwar comedy Lysistrata shifts into gear, produced by Actors Ensemble of Berkeley as part of their 50th anniversary season. Playgoers may remember Aurora’s production of McLaughlin’s version of Aeschylus’ tragedy The Persians, in which the shattered armies of the Persian Empire return after their defeat at the hands of the Greeks. Lysistrata—long the premiere anti-war drama of the West, especially in modern times since the days of the Popular Front—is another event in her refashioning of the classics for use in the controversies over the war in Iraq. 

Lysistrata is clearly the more adapted of the two. The Persians emphasized a spare elegance, a lyrical complaint against the fate of warriors and the hubris of leaders that could reach and hold a modern audience. Lysistrata is pared down and played fast so that the racy comedy becomes updated and slangy, rife with half-references to the contemporary. 

“I hate women!” declares Lysistrata (Cristina Arriola). “Everything men say about us is true!” She’s summoned Greek women from the warring city states, two decades into a military deadlock that originally was touted to be “over in a few months.”  

So far, none has shown up. In a little bit, they arrive, puzzled by Lysistrata’s urgency. She asks them if their husbands are away, fighting each other and if they live an existence both scared and bored, just sitting at home. Wouldn’t they give up anything to end the strife? Would they give up sex, at least until their husbands agree to peace? Not really, they say—”Why do you think we miss our husbands so much?” 

But Lysistrata’s convincing, and her conspiracy of abstinence prevails, as a troop of war widows takes the Acropolis and the Athenian treasury. A detachment of “geezers,” grotesquely deformed with age and complaining, fail to dislodge the female protestors, and are stared down by the widows, dressed as old crones. 

So another deadlock ensues, until the groans of the (literally, anatomically) overextended troops, come home to settle up with their better halves, sound out through Athens. Lysistrata’s mission is now to keep the equally anxious wives from breaking ranks and going AWOL, making excuses of shellfish beds to be harvested, wool yarn left at the mercy of moths to be saved. 

The cast is spirited, the action upbeat, though occasionally in ensemble scenes both the rhthym and vocal clarity are lost. But the best vignettes work well, with excellent sets and decor (hanging mobiles of what look like twisted paper pages, catching the light) by Paul Andrew Hayes, equaled by Helen Slomowitz’s elegant costuming, adding immeasurably to the effect. 

Best sequences include the standoff debate between Lysistrata and the old politico Magistrate (David Cohen): “Let’s talk about money, shall we? ... It turns out we have something you want.” She swears that until “peace breaks out,” the women will “bring no more children into the world as fodder for war.” To his outcry of “This is unnatural!” and further accusations of lack of patriotism, she replies, “we have no monopoly on excess and evil. There are assholes everywhere ... we must master our own egotism.” 

Later, soldier Cinesias pops in, wryly preceded by his distended ... get-up? rigging? cleverly fashioned of cinched and bulging balloons of the sort carnies make animals out of. (Later, in full battle gear, the erect Spartans were a bit reminiscent of Aubrey Beardsley’s bawdy illustrations of Aristophanes, once condemned as pornographic.) 

Eden Nelson, as Cinesias’ wife, Myrrhine, is fine in portraying a woman who is torn between two intentions, increasingly upset and aroused as she leads on, teases (”I can’t get in the mood when there’s a war going on.”) and finally leaves her obviously agonized husband (Sean Kelly) in the lurch. 

Saltiest of all is the female chorus, Emily Broderick and Melissa Craven, disco-dancing mechanically or down on all fours, mimicking the women as cats in heat, as Lysistrata routs them with a spray bottle. 

“Life ... face it. It’s always been a female conspiracy.” When the accord’s reached, the celebration can begin, topped only by the curtain call, when the men bow, yet remain at attention. 

 

 

LYSISTRATA 

Presented by Actors Ensemble of Berkeley through May 12 at Live Oak Theatre.  

1301 Shattuck Ave. $12. 525-1620. 

www.oeofberkeley.com.


Chinese-Cuban Revolutionaries Still Lead Cuba

By Barbara Greenway, New America Media
Tuesday April 17, 2007

All serious readers, whether scholarly or general interest, place a special value on first-hand accounts of historical events. Memoirs, autobiographies, interviews of “regular people” who find themselves immersed in historic times bring that history to life as no author can. This is why the new book, Our History Is Still Being Written, has such an important role to play in modern Chinese history. 

The book is a series of interviews with three Cuban generals of Chinese descent who as young rebels in pre-revolutionary Cuba became heroic fighters in the battle to overthrow the despised Batista regime. In the almost 50 years since, they have each played invaluable roles in the Cuban military in international missions, each rising to the rank of general. 

They speak quite eloquently of the days of racial discrimination. Armando Choy, one of the interviewees, explained his experience as a youth trying to go to a dance. “When my friend and the girl tried to get in, they were turned away because they were Chinese. It was for whites only! That act of discrimination convinced me of the injustice prevailing in Cuba before the triumph of the revolution.” 

The generals also give a vivid picture of life for Chinese immigrants dating back to the 1800s, when many came as indentured servants. The detailed descriptions bring to life both the hardships and the contributions of the Chinese who settled in Cuba. Chinese fighters fought in Cuba, for example, in the war for independence against Spain in the 1860s and 1870s. 

But perhaps the most fascinating of the discussions in the interviews conducted are the first-hand accounts of the role of revolutionary Cubans in international actions from Angola to Nicaragua to Venezuela today. These generals are socialists and partisans of the socialist revolution in Cuba. They defend Cuba’s actions within its own borders and its internationalist missions around the world. 

They speak proudly of their relationships with Fidel and Raul Castro and their work with Che Guevera. In a discussion of the quality of leadership, Moises Sio Wong explained, “In our army the leader is an example. This was always a characteristic of Che, who was incapable of giving an order he himself was not prepared to carry out. And it’s equally true of Raul and Fidel.” 

Today each man still plays a critical role in Cuba. Although in their 70s, their positions of responsibility keep them young and busy. 

Armando Choy heads up the massive project to clean up the polluted Havana Bay and leads the modernization of the Port of Havana. 

Sio Wong is the president of the National Institute of State Reserves that involves both military defense and rapid response in the area of natural disasters. 

Gustavo Chui is head of the Association of Combatants of the Cuban Revolution, an organization of more than 300,000 members that is responsible for the political education program found in schools and communities around Cuba. 

One additional noteworthy aspect of the book is the wonderful photo signature. 

A variety of maps, sketches, and previously unavailable photographs help the reader visually understand the times described by the generals. Archival photos display everything from mass meetings in Havana’s Chinatown in 1960 to Cuban doctors working among the Venezuelan poor in 1999. 

Reading this book gives the reader a glimpse of life in Cuba rarely visible in the United States today. And it tells a previously untold story—the Chinese of Cuba yesterday, today, and tomorrow. 

 

 

OUR HISTORY IS STILL BEING WRITTEN: THE STORY OF THREE CHINESE-CUBAN GENERALS IN THE CUBAN REVOLUTION 

Pathfinder Press. $20. 216 pages.


Wild Neighbors: En Garde! Jays Discover the Pointed Stick

By Joe Eaton
Tuesday April 17, 2007

I know: another corvid column. But bear with me. Every now and then I trawl the technical literature at the UC library, and this time I found a jay-and-crow story in the Wilson Journal of Ornithology that’s too good to keep. 

You may have read about the clan of chimpanzees in West Africa who have been reported as using weapons to obtain their favorite meal of bushbaby-on-a-stick—a step beyond previous observations of tool use. Now Russell Balda has documented an apparent case of weapon use by not just one, but two species of birds—a Steller’s jay and an American crow. Balda, not just any feederwatcher, is an authority on the pinyon jay and runs the Avian Cognition Laboratory at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, a site of cutting-edge research into corvid intelligence. 

A word on nomenclature: yes, it’s “Steller’s,” not “stellar.” Everybody seems to get that wrong. Although this crested black-and-blue jay could be said to have a certain star quality, it was named for its discoverer, the 18th-century Russian naturalist Georg Steller. Steller, one of the few survivors of the ill-starred Bering Expedition to the North Pacific, had a short and tragic life, and the least we can do in his memory is get the names of his jay, his sea lion, and his eider (among other species) right. 

So Balda, on an April morning three years ago, is in his office outside which is a meter-square feeding platform. A crow is on the platform eating sunflower seeds. Two jays—maybe a pair; it’s hard to tell with jays—land in a nearby mountain mahogany bush. The jays seem annoyed by the crow’s presence. One flies to the platform and scolds the larger bird, which fails to react. The jay feints toward the crow with its bill; the crow feints back. The jay flies up to the roof of the building, then divebombs the crow. The crow keeps eating. End of Round One. 

Then the jay does something remarkable. It goes back to the mountain mahogany and breaks off a twig from a dead branch. Holding the twig in its beak, pointed end forward, it returns to the feeding platform and lunges at the crow. It’s a near miss. The crow lunges in its turn, startling the jay, which flies up and drops the twig onto the platform. 

And the crow picks it up, again pointed end forward, and thrusts it at the jay. Whereupon the jay on the platform and its partner in the bush both fly off, pursued by the twig-carrying crow. 

Now, there’s a considerable literature on tool use in birds of the crow family, with examples from the Eurasian common crow and the blue jay of eastern North America, among others. Tool-making reaches its pinnacle in the New Caledonian crow, which constructs (you can’t really say a handless creature manufactures) various types of tools to extract insect grubs from rotten wood, and carries the tools around with it from foraging site to foraging site. Tool use seems to correlate to brain size, and corvids have the largest brains (in proportion to body weight) among birds, outscoring even parrots. 

Weapons are another story, limited to anecdotes about ravens and crows dropping objects on humans that got too close to their nests. 

But Balda is convinced that weapon-making and weapon use is what he saw: “Behaviors that are classically associated with lance or spear use were observed in this bout. The jay first selected and prepared an object that could readily be used as a spear, and then lunged at the crow with the spear … The crow retrieved the twig and possibly used it against the jay. The current report may be the first incident of a bird holding an object and using it in a weapon-like fashion during an aggressive action against another bird.” 

At this point nothing much a crow or jay could do would surprise me much, with the possible exception of text-messaging. If you have Steller’s jays or western scrub-jays at your own feeder, they’ll obviously bear watching.


Berkeley This Week

Tuesday April 17, 2007

TUESDAY, APRIL 17 

Berkeley Garden Club Spring Tea and Floral Design Presentation at 1 p.m. at Epworth Methodist Church, 1953 Hopkins St. Howard Arendtson, owner of H. Julien Designs, will be our guest speaker. Tickets available at the door for $8. 845-4482 . 

Berkeley High School Red and Golden Girls Luncheon for BHS women graduates from the class of 1957 and before at 11 a.m. at the Berkeley City Club. Tickets are $35. 845-5858 or 526-3619. 

Tilden Mini-Rangers An after-school porgram for ages 8-12 to learn about conservvationand nature-based activities. Dress to ramble and get dirty. Cost is $6-$8. 636-1684. 

“Winning the Peace in Afghanistan: Challenges and Opportunities” with Said Tayeb Jawad, Afghan Ambassador to the US, Shamim Jawad, International Chair, Roots of Peace, at 1 p.m. in the Maude Fife Room, 315 Wheeler Hall, UC Campus. 642-9407. 

Climate Protection Lunch for Berkeley Property Owners and Managers on how to take action against global warming at noon at Berkeley Civic Center, 2180 Milvia St., Redwood Room, 6th flr. RSVP to 520-5486. 

“Push and Pull: Free Trade and Immigration” A discussion with journalist David Bacon and Mexican activist Juan Manuel Sandoval, at 7 p.m. at Oakland Workers Center, 2501 International at 25th, Oakland. Suggested donation $10. www.globalexchange.org 

“Climbing the Seven Summits” A slide show with John Christiana who has climbed the highest peak on each of seven continents, at 7 p.m. at REI, 1338 San Pablo Ave. 527-4140. 

“A Game as Old as Empire: The Secret World of Economic Hit Men and the Web of Global Corruption” a discussion with Steven Hiatt, John Perkins, Antonia Juhasz, and others at 7 p.m. at Borders Books, 5903 Shellmound, Emeryville. 654-1633.  

Parent Voices Meeting to organize for Stand for Children Day at 6 p.m. at Bananas, 5232 Claremont Ave., Oakland. 658-7353. 

Discussion Salon on The Job Market at 7 p.m. at JCC, 1414 Walnut.  

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. 

“Myofascial Pain and Sleep Disorders and Auto-immune Diseases” with Dr. Janet Lord at noon at Maffley Auditorium, Herrick Campus of Alta Bates Medical Center, 2001 Dwight Way. 644-3273. 

Hunger Action Training with the Alameda County Community Food Bank Learn the issues and how to become a successful advocate. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Alameda County Community Food Bank, 7900 Edgewater Drive, Oakland. To register call 635-3663, ext. 307. 

Berkeley School Volunteers Training workshop for volunteers interested in helping the public schools, from noon to 1 p.m. at 1835 Allston Way. 644-8833. 

Red Cross Blood Drive from noon to 6 p.m. at East Pauley Ballroom, MLK Student Union, UC Campus. To schedule an appointment go to www.BeADonor.com (code UCB) 

American Red Cross Blood Services Volunteer Orientation at 6 p.m. at 6230 Claremont Ave., Oakland. Help support the more than 40 blood drives held each month all over the East Bay. Advanced sign-up is required, call 594-5165.  

Berkeley Camera Club meets at 7:30 p.m., at the Northbrae Community Church, 941 The Alameda. 548-3991.  

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 18 

“Blue Grit: True Democrats Take Back Politics from the Politicians” with Laura Flanders at 7:30 p.m. at the First Congregational Church of Berkeley, 2345 Channing Way. TIckets are $5, available at independent bookstores. 848-6767, ext. 609. www.kpfa.org 

“Planning for Urban Wildlife” instead of past prectices of extrication and extermination at 1 p.m. at Wurster Hall 315A, UC Campus. http://laep.ced.berkeley.edu/events/colloquium#8  

International Day of Peasant Struggle with an update on Brazil’s Landless Movement at 7:30 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Donations welcome. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

“Antonia” A documentary on female rappers in the outskirts of Sao Paulo at 7 p.m. at 160 Kroeber Hall, UC Campus. Sponsored by the Center for Latin American Studies. 642-2088. 

“Jesus Camp” A documentary about Evangelical Christians at 7 p.m. at the Gray Panthers, 1403 Addison St., behind Andronicos. 548-9696. 

“24 Solo” A documentary sponsored by the NorCal High School Mountain Bike Racing League at 7:30 p.m. at Berkeley Community Theater, Berkeley High Campus. Tickets are $10-$12. 219-9460. www.norcalmtb.org  

“Crude Impact” A documentary on our dependence on fossil fuels at 7 p.m. at the Rockridge Library, 5366 College Ave., near Rockridge BART, Oakland. www.sfbayoil.org/ebpo/ 

New to DVD: “History Boys” at 7 p.m. at JCCEB, 1414 Walnut St. Discussion follows. 848-0237. 

Albany Library Evening Book Club meets to discuss “Devil in a Blue Dress” by Walter Mosley at 7 p.m. at The Albany Library, 1247 Marin Ave. 526-3720, ext. 16. 

Free Skool Class on Intro to Sign Language at 6:30 p.m. at the Long Haul, 3124 Shattuck Ave. Free, all welcome. thelonghaul.org 

Walk Berkeley for Seniors meets at 9:30 a.m. at the Sea Breeze Market, just west of the I-80 overpass. 548-9840. 

THURSDAY, APRIL 19 

Civic Berkeley Public Forum Navigating the Maze: Lessons We’ve Learned Speakers from eight different neighborhood groups will what works and what doesn’t in dealing with City Hall, at 7 p.m. at the B-Tech Academy, Multipurpose Room, corner of MLK, Jr. Way and Derby. 273-2496. 

“Africa, Islam & the War on Terror” with Dr. Abdi Samatar, Somali scholar from the Univ. of MN, at 6 p.m. at University Hall, 2199 Addison St. at Oxford. Sponsored by Priority Africa Network & the Center for African Studies. Suggesrted donation $5-$10. 238 8080 ext. 309. 

“Iraq, Iran and the Bush Agenda: The Danger of Wider War, the Challenge of Preventin gIt, and the Urgency of a New Global Dynamic” with Larry Everest at 7 p.m. at Revolution Books, 2425 Channing Way. 848-1196. 

“Design for Ecological Democracy” with author Randolph Hester at 7:30 p.m. at the Builders Booksource, 1817 4th St. 845-6874. 

Paul Hawken on the Worldwide Movement for Social and Environmental Change at 7 p.m. at College Preparatory School, 6100 Broadway, Oakland. Tickets are $5-$15. 652-0111.  

“Mesoamerica Resiste! ... with the Beehive Collective” on their use of innovative graphics on corporate globalization at 7:30 p.m. at AK Press, 674A 23rd St., Oakland. 208-1700. www.beehivecollective.org 

LeConte Neighborhood Association meets to discuss plans to improve People’s Park, business changes on Telegraph Avenue, new police procedures regarding loud parties, at 7:30 p.m. at LeConte School, enter from Russell St. 843-2602. 

“Key Employees: Engage Them or Lose Them” A talk by the Northern California Human Resources Assoc., at 7:30 a.m. at Room 231, The Promenade Bldg., 1936 University Ave. Cost is $30-$50. 415-291-1992. 

Simplicity Forum on “Growing Organic Food in Your Yard, Deck, Neighborhood” with Allie Sullivan, an intern with City Slickers Farm in Oakland, at 6:30 p.m. at Berkeley Public Library, Claremont Branch, 2940 Benvenue Ave. 549-3509.  

Free Diabetes Screening from 8:15 to 11 a.m. at the North Berkeley Senior Center. Do not eat or drink anything for 8 hours beforehand. 981-5332. 

Alcohol Screening from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Options Recovery Services, 1919 Addison St. #204. No appointment necessary. 666-9900. 

Family Story Time for children ages 3-7 at 7 p.m. at the Berkeley Public Library, North Branch, 1170 The Alameda, at Hopkins. 981-6107. 

Poetry Workshop with Donna Davis, ongoing on Thurs. from 9 a.m. to noon at the JCCEB, 1414 Walnut St. Donation $10 per semester. 848-0237. 

Avatar Metaphysical Toastmasters Club meets at 6:45 p.m. at Spud’s Pizza, 3290 Adeline at Alcatraz. namaste@ 

avatar.freetoasthost.info  

FRIDAY, APRIL 20 

Impeachment Banner Fridays at 6:45 to 8 a.m. on the Berkeley Pedestrian bridge between Seabreeze Market and the Berkeley Aquatic Park, ongoing on Fridays until impeachment is realized. www. Impeachbush-cheney.com 

City Commons Club Noon Luncheon with Dr. Fred Nachtwey on “Sleep” Luncheon at 11:45 a.m. for $14, speech at 12:30 p.m., at the Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant St. For information and reservations call 526-2925.  

“Tales of Western Ornithologists” with Harry Fuller at 7 p.m. at the Live Oak Recreation Center. Sponsored by Golden Gate Auddubon Society. Cost is $10-$15. 843-2222. 

Oceans Awareness to bring awareness of the problem of plastic in our oceans at 5 p.m. at Lower Sproul Plaza, UC Campus. Sponsored by CALPIRG. 

Alcohol Free Weekend Can You Do It? Take the sober weekend challenge sponsored by UC Berkeley Health Services. For more information call 642-7202. 

“Tell the Truth and Run: Georges Seldes and the American Press” a film screening at 7 p.m. at Berkeley Fellowship, 1924 Cedar St. Donation $10, no one turned away. 528-5403. 

“Life and Debt” A documentary about Jamaicans and their strategies for survival, at 7:30 p.m. at Humanist Hall, 390 27th St., midtown Oakland. Donation $5. www.HumanistHall.net 

Power of Now Group meets to discuss the book “The Power of Now” for ages 50 plus at 7 p.m. at 1471 Addison St, behind 1473 Addison. RSVP sterkjohn@yahoo.com  

Red Cross Blood Drive From 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at UCB Unit 2 Dorms, Recreation Room, 2650 Haste. To schedule an appointment go to www.BeADonor.com  

Circle Dancing, simple folk dancing with instruction at 7:30 p.m. at Finnish Brotherhood Hall, 1970 Chestnut St at University. Donation of $5 requested. 528-4253. www.circledancing.com 

Conscious Movie Night “The Secret” at 7:30 p.m. at Center of Light, 2944 76th Ave., Oakland. 635-4286. 

SATURDAY, APRIL 21 

Berkeley Earth Day Fair from noon to 5 p.m. at Civic Center Park, MLK and Allston, with cultural performances, activities, food, craft and community booths. 654-6346. 

Earth Day Restoration & Cleanup Program at Eastshore State Park Meet at 10 a.m. behind Sea Breeze Deli off University Ave. and West Frontage Rd. Bring sunscreen, non-slip shoes or boots, gloves, pick. 544-2515. kfusek@ebparks.org 

Kid’s Garden Club for ages 6-9 to explore the world of gardening, from 2 to 4 p.m. at Tilden Nature Area, Tilden Park. Cost is $6-$8, registration required. 636-1684. 

Springtime Pond Plunge See babies of dragonflies, phantom midges, frogs and maybe even newts. Use nets and magnifying glasses to study them up close before we return them to their watery home. Meet at 2 p.m. at the Tilden Nature Center, Tilden Park. 525-2233. 

Recycle Computer Equipment to help keep it out of landfills. Bring your items to Elephant Pharmacy, 1607 Shattuck Ave. between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. www.elephantpharm.com  

“The Woodpecker’s Tongue: Accuracy in Drawing Birds” with Dan Gleason at 10 a.m. at the Oakland Museum of California, 1000 Oak St. Cost is $5-$8. 238-2200. 

“Introduction to Bio-Intensive Gardening” Learn how to feed your family from your own backyard, from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Grandma Mary’s Organic Farm, 100 Behrens St., El Cerrito. Cost is $75. 527-9271. www.kleiwerks.org  

The 2007 Edith Coliver Festival of Cultures A celebration of cultural unity with dance, drama, food, arts, crafts, exhibits and children’s activities from around the globe, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at International House, 2299 Piedmont Ave. at Bancroft. 642-9461. http://ihouse.berkeley.edu 

Berkeley Alliance of Neighborhood Associations (BANA) meets at 9:30 a.m. at St. John’s Presbyterian Church, Sproul Room, 2727 College Ave. All welcome.  

Peralta Hacienda Historical Park Earth Day Celebration Join us to help clean up the park from 9 a.m. to noon. Meet the Archeologist from 11 a.m. to noon, followed by a community potluck. For information call 532-9142. 

Car Care Clinic for Women Learn how to avoid the scams and learn the basics of auto repair and maintenance, at 10 a.m. at Marty’s Motors, 10929 San Pablo Ave., El Cerrito. Free, but RSVP required. 235-6000. 

John Adams’ 60th Birthday Celebration from 1 to 4 p.m. at Crowden Music Center, 1475 Rose St. 559-6910. jstrauss@crowden.org 

Rotary Club of Berkeley “A Night at the Races” with dinner, auctions and horse-races on large screen video, at 5:30 p.m. at Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley, One Lawson Rd., Kensington. Tickets are $50, and funds raised benefit community projects in Berkeley. For reservations call 339-3801. jmasters@cencomfut.com 

Spring Blooming Perennials with Gail Yelland, landscape designer at 10 a.m. at Magic Gardens Nursery, 729 Heinz Ave., off Seventh St. 644-2351. 

California Writers Club meets to discuss action vs procrastination at 10 a.m. at Barnes & Noble, Jack London Square. 272-0120. 

East Bay Atheists meets to watch a video of Richard Dawkins speaking in Lynchburg, Virginia about his latest book, “The God Delusion” at 1:30 p.m. at Berkeley Public Library, 3rd Floor Meeting Room, 2090 Kittredge St. 222-7580. 

Everyday Safety Skills for Children from 10 a.m. to noon. Cost is $60, scholarships available, Call to register and for location. 831-426-4407. www.kidpower.org 

Luna Kids Dance Spring Gala at 7 p.m. at Clif Bar Theater, 1610 5th St. Donations $35 and up. 644-3629. 

Musical Pizza Fest and Silent Auction to benefit Dandelion Cooperative Preschool at 4 p.m. at Northbrae Community Center, 941 The Alameda. 526-1735. 

Free Car Seat Check-Up Learn how to protect your children and make sure your car seat is installed correctly. From 10 a.m. to noon in the parking lot of St. Columba Church, 6401 San Pablo Ave., at Alcatraz. Free car seats provided to low-income families. For an appointment call 428-3045. 

Families Dealing with Dementia Seminar from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Mercy Retirement & Care Center, 3431 Foothill Blvd., Oakland. Free. 534-8547. www.mercyretirementcenter.org 

Produce Stand at Spiral Gardens Food Security Project from 1 to 6 p.m. at the corner of Sacramento and Oregon St. 

The Berkeley Lawn Bowling Club provides free instruction every Wed. and Sat. at 10:30 a.m. at 2270 Acton St. 841-2174.  

SUNDAY, APRIL 22 

People’s Park 38th Anniversary Celebration with music, food and activities for children from noon to 6 p.m. at Perople’s Park, just east of Telegraph Ave. on Dwight Way. www.peoplespark.org 

“Open Garden” Join the Little Farm gardener for composting, planting, watering and reaping the rewards of our work, from 2 to 4 p.m. at Tilden Nature Area, Tilden Park. 525-2233.  

Wild and Native Hike Explore native plants in Wildcat Canyon on a brisk 7-mile hike. Bring lunch, liquids, and layers. Meet at 10 a.m. at Tilden Nature Center, Tilden Park. 525-2233. 

“Vanishing Victorians” at the Berkeley Historical Society general meeting from 3 to 5 p.m. at 1931 Center St. 848-0181.  

Restore Wetlands in Oakland Volunteer with Save the Bay in a wetland restoration project near the Oakland Airport, a home for many species, including the California Clapper Rail and Burrowing Owl. Volunteers assist our plant propagation efforts in our on-site Wetland Native Plant Nursery from 9 a.m. to noon RSVP to 452-9261 ext. 109.  

Progressive Democrats of the East Bay General Meeting on The U.S. and Iran: The Standoff, Its Origins, and Its Ramifications, with Shahram Aghamir, an Iranian and producer of Voices of the Middle East and North Africa on KPFA Radio; and Sepideh Khosrowjah, an Iranian playwright and peace and social justice activist, from 1:30 to 4 p.m. at 2161 Allston Way. 636-4149. 

Earth Day at the Kensington Farmer’s Market from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 303 Arlington Ave., Kensington, behind Ace Hardware. 525-7232. 

Music for Babies, parent-led activities in rhythm, finger play, bubbles and more at 9 a.m. at Bananas, 5232 Claremont Ave., Oakland. 658-7353. 

“Living Ship Day” with a commemoration of the “Doolittle Raid” from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Aircraft Carrier UCSS Hornet Museum, Pier 3, 707 W. Hornet Ave., Alameda. Cost is $14 for adults, and $6 for children. 521-8448. 

Berkeley City Club Tour of the “Little Castle” designed by Julia Morgan at 1:15, 2:15 and 3:15 p.m. at 2315 Durant Ave. 883-9710. 

Tibetan Buddhism with Lama Palzang and Pema Gellek on “The Dharma in Asia” at 6 p.m. at the Tibetan Nyingma Institute, 1815 Highland Pl. 843-6812.  

MONDAY, APRIL 23 

“The Energy Problem: What the Helios Project Can Do about It” with Steve Chu, Director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, at 5:30 p.m. at Berkeley Repertory Theater 2025 Addison St. 486-5183. 

Berkeley CopWatch organizational meeting at 8 p.m. at 2022 Blake St. 548-0425.  

CITY MEETINGS 

Berkeley Public Library Ad Hoc Committee on Public Process for Potential Trust