Column: The Public Eye: Breaking the Public Trust (Three Cheers for Dona Spring)

By Zelda Bronstein
Tuesday October 30, 2007

It was after 11 p.m. last Tuesday, and the council chamber was nearly empty, when Dave Blake stepped up to the lectern and used his two minutes of public comment to warn the council that its secretive ways were undermining Berkeley’s ability to generate revenue at the ballot box. Describing himself “as a citizen who’s been involved in raising money for the city”—Blake has campaigned for measures to fund the city’s library, parks and warm water pool—the former Zoning Adjustments Board member obliquely referred to the failure of the four city tax measures in November 2004: “A lot of people think that the reason we’re no longer successful in passing items in this city,” he said, “is that we’re not generating the feeling of trust between the council and the people in the city … I don’t think we’re going to be passing any two-thirds measures in the near future, unless we start to be open and clear about big decisions like this one.” -more-

Column: The Public Eye: Depressed America

By Bob Burnett
Tuesday October 30, 2007

These are hard times in America. There’s broad agreement our nation has lost its way and the U.S. is no longer “the shining light on the hill.” We don’t trust our leaders or believe national politicians care about the common good. Americans are uncertain and depressed. -more-

Wild Neighbors: Birds in Berkeley: The Owls in the Oak

By Joe Eaton
Tuesday October 30, 2007

Eighty-one years ago Joseph Grinnell, director of UC’s Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, sat in his corner office at the edge of Faculty Glade watching a crew of arborists at work on a venerable coast live oak. Or, as he put it in his essay “Tree Surgery and the Birds,” “ ‘tree surgeons’ … under directions of a ‘landscape architect.’ ” His contempt is evident. Over the years, Grinnell had observed 46 species of birds in that oak. And he noted the removal of bits of the tree that had attracted particular species of birds: the decaying stub where the downy woodpecker drummed, the white-breasted nuthatch’s favorite foraging ground, the flycatcher’s perch. -more-

Column: Dispatches From the Edge: Lies, Damned Lies and Iraq

By Conn Hallinan
Friday October 26, 2007

The great 19th century Tory prime minister Benjamin Disraeli once remarked there were three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics. It is a dictum the Bush administration has taken to heart when it comes to totaling up the carnage in Iraq: If you don’t like the numbers, just change them; and when in doubt, look ‘em in the eye and lie. -more-

Column: Undercurrents: The Oakland Development Debate Gets Ugly

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Friday October 26, 2007

Back South, where I once lived, I used to know an older man who I’d greet every time I saw him with the question, “How’s the world treating you?” -more-

Open Home in Focus: Elegant and Cozy North Berkeley House on View

By Steven Finacom
Friday October 26, 2007

Around a North Berkeley bend, quickly by-passed by those busily headed someplace else, there’s a gem of a creek side house. The architecture and setting embody much of what gives residential Berkeley a special sense of place. -more-

Garden Variety: NWF’s Connie Award Goes to Local Wildlands/Garden Patron Kathy Kramer

By Ron Sullivan
Friday October 26, 2007

One of our own is on her way to Washington DC to receive a long-deserved award. Kathy Kramer, who founded and runs the annual Bringing Back the Natives garden tour, will be honored on Nov. 1—appropriately enough, All Saints’ Day—along with Bill McKibben (The End of Nature), Al Gore, Rev. Richard Cizik (who has stirred up a hornets’ nest with the Evangelical Climate Initiative’s “Call to Action” statement, insisting on Christians’ responsibility toward stewardship of the earth), Steve Curwood (host of NPR’s Living on Earth show) and others including more dubious company like Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. -more-

Quake Tip of the Week

By Larry Guillot
Friday October 26, 2007

More Earthquake Tidbits -more-

About the House: Insurance: Knob and Tube Wiring

By Matt Cantor
Friday October 26, 2007

The other day a recent inspection client of mine called up and asked if I could help answer a few questions. She proceeded to ask if her new house had copper piping. -more-