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Eagles Up demonstrates support for the troops and the war Saturday at the downtown Marine Recruiting Center. Code Pink has been demonstrating against the war and recruitment since September.
Judith Scherr
Eagles Up demonstrates support for the troops and the war Saturday at the downtown Marine Recruiting Center. Code Pink has been demonstrating against the war and recruitment since September.
 

News

Judge Orders Oakland to Prove Hodge Should Be Kept Off Ballot

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Tuesday March 25, 2008

Posted Tue., March 25—A Superior Court judge has ordered the City of Oakland and the Alameda County Registrar of Voters to put Oakland School Board member Greg Hodge on the June 3 ballot for the District 3 Oakland City Council race, or to show cause why he should be kept off. 

Judge Frank Roesch made the ruling today (Tuesday) following a brief conference in the hallway of the Superior Court at the Oakland Post Office on 13th Street with one of the judge’s clerks, Hodge, his attorney, and representatives of the Oakland City Attorney’s office, the Oakland City Clerk’s office, and the office of the Alameda County Counsel. A hearing on the matter has been set for Friday morning, with Roesch indicating that he will probably make a final ruling that day. 

A representative of the Alameda County Counsel’s office asked for a ruling by Friday in order to get the final lineup for the ballots to be sent to the printer on that date. 

Hodge is seeking to run against longtime District 3 incumbent Nancy Nadel for the council seat, which has the same West Oakland-downtown boundaries that Hodge represents on the Oakland school board. 

Hodge is challenging a ruling by the Oakland City Clerk’s office that he was one signature shy of the 50 required to qualify for the ballot. While the Oakland city attorney’s office is representing the Oakland city clerk’s office in the matter, representatives from the Alameda County Counsel’s office said they have no interest in the matter either way, but only want the issue decided to get the ballots to the printer on time. 

Hodge, an attorney, is being represented by Sean Welch of the Nielsen, Merksamer, Parrinello, Mueller & Naylor law firm of San Francisco and Mill Valley. 

Both Hodge and the City of Oakland are in general agreement on the facts of the dispute. Hodge was initially certified to be on the ballot on March 12 after a review of his petition by the Alameda County Registrar of Voters office. A day later, after Oakland housing activist James Vann of the Oakland Tenants Union and Oakland environmental and land use attorney Stuart Flashman came to the City Clerk’s office to challenge signatures on Hodge’s petition, Assistant City Clerk Marjo Keller reversed the certification and ruled that Hodge was one signature short. Keller says that she found no problem with the signatures that Vann and Flashman challenged but during a re-review of the petition discovered another signature that contained a “discrepancy.” 

Flashman and Nadel once served together on the East Bay Municipal Utilities District Board of Directors.  

Ironically, Flashman most recently made news as the attorney for the Oak To Ninth Referendum Committee, the group which filed a lawsuit to challenge the Oakland City Attorney’s decision to disallow the group’s petition for a referendum on the controversial development. 

Keller did not give information on which disqualifying signature ended up knocking Hodge off the ballot in either a March 19 letter to Hodge or in her declaration to the court. Hodge said the contested signature was of a longtime West Oakland resident and voter, and the house the man lives in has two addresses which he often uses interchangeably. But because state election law requires that the address on nominating petitions be the same as the address on the voter’s registration application, and because the man used one address for the registration application and the second address for Hodge’s nominating petition, the City Clerk ruled his signature invalid, dropping Hodge to one below the required 50. 

Assistant Oakland City Attorney Kathleen Salem-Boyd argued on Tuesday that Keller had no choice under state election law but to invalidate the petition, and that the assistant city clerk did not abuse her authority. 

Hodge’s attorney, Welch, argued that once Hodge’s petition was originally certified, the only recourse for a challenge by Vann and Flashman was for them to go to court, rather than to the city clerk. Welch said that Hodge’s rights were violated because the post-certification review was done outside of his presence.  

In addition, Welch is arguing that the Superior Court has the authority to judge that the man whose signature was contested is a legal voter and resident of District 3 and that his signature should be counted on Hodge’s petition. 


Pro-War Group Roars Into Berkeley

By Judith Scherr
Tuesday March 25, 2008
Eagles Up demonstrates support for the troops and the war Saturday at the downtown Marine Recruiting Center. Code Pink has been demonstrating against the war and recruitment since September.
Judith Scherr
Eagles Up demonstrates support for the troops and the war Saturday at the downtown Marine Recruiting Center. Code Pink has been demonstrating against the war and recruitment since September.

Roaring into Berkeley on their Harley’s—with the more sedate aboard red-white-and-blue-draped SUVs—a leather-clad flag-bearing conservative America took center stage Saturday at the downtown Marine Recruiting Center. The event, which drew some 350 people at its height, was organized by two groups, Eagles Up and Move America Forward (MAF). 

“I’m Cat Moy, and I’m an American,” said the Move America Forward executive director, speaking from the bed of a pickup truck at the noon rally in front of the center.  

Moy praised the patriots she said she saw in the crowd. “We stand today in the bowels of anti-Americanism,” she said as the crowd cheered and waved hundreds of American flags. The Berkeley City Council “paid the way of America’s enemies. They have called our Marines—our heroes—‘unwelcome.’ And these traitors refuse to apologize to the Marines, the very men and women who give them the freedom to act like maniacal dopes. These filthy leftovers from the Vietnam-era and their spawn give nothing to this country….” 

The gathering and rally was monitored by a half-dozen Berkeley police officers stationed in front of the center and about 15 more scattered around the Shattuck Square area, about a third as many officers assigned to the smaller anti-war demonstration March 19 sponsored by Code Pink, International Answer and the World Can’t Wait. At its height, that rally drew 250 people and was much smaller most of the day. 

At least one off-duty police officer from Santa Rosa was among the protesters. 

Unlike what they had done at some earlier demonstrations, police permitted older folks among the participants to set up folding chairs on the sidewalk, which was often impassible as they chatted among themselves in front of the Marine Recruiting Station. Police appeared to ignore Berkeley’s no-smoking laws and gave a heads up to the out-of-town crowd by asking speakers at the noon rally to let people know that city personnel would soon be out to check the parking meters. 

Speakers could be heard three blocks away, but, according to Deputy City Manager Lisa Caronna, who spoke to the Planet on Monday, city staffers were present to monitor the sound and make sure it conformed to the group’s permits.  

Asked why demonstrators were allowed to block sidewalks and place chairs on the sidewalk—something counter-recruiting protesters had not been allowed to do—Caronna said “police use discretion.” The important thing, she said, was to keep traffic flowing, which police did.  

Caronna further noted that, although anti-war protesters had no permit to march in the street March 19, police permitted them to do so and allowed them to use an unpermitted bullhorn as well.  

A number of demonstrators told the Planet they had came to Berkeley to counter Code Pink, the often outlandish anti-war group that has maintained a presence most weekdays at the center since September.  

MAF, which staged the rally, is a pro-military group chaired by former KSFO broadcaster Melanie Morgan and allied through MAF Chief Strategist Sal Russo to the Sacramento-based public relations firm Russo Marsh & Rogers.  

Eagles Up, which organized most of the protesters, is a group formed last summer to support the military and the war. The Eagles website describes one of its principles: “America is at war with a brutal, butchering, Islamic enemy. Victory is the only option in the current war in Iraq and around the world. Political surrender is not an option. We reject the theory of supporting the troops but not the war.…” 

Sporting a leather vest, Alfonso Peña of Oakland told the Planet he supports the war as retaliation against “whoever” crashed planes into the twin towers.  

Peña pointed to the success of the war. “We put down a dictatorship,” he said. 

Dale Thompson of Sunnyvale, a retired Naval officer, was standing in uniform in front of the center. He said he was there to support the all-volunteer troops.  

Responding to a question of why the U.S. is fighting in Iraq, Thompson said it was about fighting those who had destroyed the twin towers. It isn’t a question of the specific nationality of the enemy, he said: “Iraqis, Iranians, al Qaeda—it doesn’t matter,” he said. “After 9/11 people came together.” 

James E. Bundgaard, warrant officer CW4 retired, fought in Vietnam and told the Planet he remembered when he came home and couldn’t wear his uniform without being harassed. He said the same feelings against the military are resurfacing and blamed the anti-military recruiting demonstrations for some of that.  

“You’re never going to get rid of war,” Bundgaard said. “There are forces like us that have to take a stand.” Saddam Hussein was captured and killed “through efforts of ours to stand for what is right.” 

Forty-year Berkeley resident Doris Balabanian and a friend had been shopping at the nearby farmers’ market when they saw a group of men on motorcycles with flags and followed them up the street to see what was going on.  

Balabanian told the Planet she supports the troops and also supports the country getting out of Iraq. She hadn’t been to a Code Pink demonstration, but said she thought their anti-war message was getting lost. 

A small group of Code Pink women set up a table at University and Shattuck avenues, away from most of the demonstrators. 

“We’re here to show a presence,” said Norma Myers a Berkeley resident and business owner, standing at the Code Pink table. 

Melanie Morgan emceed the rally and introduced San Diego businessman Brian Dennard to the crowd. Dennard later told the Planet that his company, which purchases yacht supplies, had cancelled orders with businesses in Berkeley and Alameda, though he declined to name them. He called on the crowd to boycott Berkeley businesses.  

 

 


Code Pink Arrests Mark 4,000 Deaths In Iraq War

By Judith Scherr
Tuesday March 25, 2008

Screaming and wailing to mark the 4,000th America soldier who had died in Iraq, four Code Pink women blocked the doorway at the downtown Marine Recruiting Center Monday, then walked inside where police handcuffed and arrested them. 

“There are 4,000 lost lives and many communities affected,” said Code Pink organizer Zanne Joi, speaking through a bullhorn as she sat in the MRC doorway before the arrest. 

“How many more will die?” asked Medea Benjamin, seated with Joi. The group of about 15 supporters gathered around them chanting, “No more killing,” and joined Berkeley singer-songwriter Betsy Rose in “We Shall Not Be Moved.” Others stood on the curb holding anti-war signs and banners. 

Earlier, when Joi affixed a banner “Berkeley says no to war” to the MRC window, Marine Corps Captain Richard Lund came out and ripped it off. This was repeated several times, with Joi affixing the banner each time and Lund ripping it off. 

“Captain Lund, this is just a window—4,000 people are dead,” Joi said. Lund responded that he wanted clean windows. 

Benjamin, Joi, Pam Bennett and Toby Blome of Code Pink were arrested inside the station and charged with trespassing, according to Lt. Andrew Greenwood, police spokesperson. At the Planet’s 5 p.m. deadline, police had not released them, but, according to Greenwood, they were expected to be released on their own recognizance by 7 p.m. Greenwood said they were waiting for fingerprint confirmations from Alameda County.  

Lund declined to speak to the Daily Planet. 

 

 

 


West Berkeley Speakers Plead for Industrial Jobs

By Richard Brenneman
Tuesday March 25, 2008

Workers, residents and small business owners gathered Thursday night to hear planners and labor activists offer evidence and arguments for exercising restraint in making any zoning changes in West Berkeley. 

Organized by West Berkeley Artisans and Industrial Companies (WEBAIC), the meeting challenged proposed zoning changes now before the city’s Planning Commission. 

“The (city) staff has put everything on the table ... on an extremely fast-track basis,” said WEBAIC Chair John Curl, a woodworker with his studio in the Sawtooth Building, a West Berkeley landmark. 

With their final draft due to the City Council for action in June, Curl said, the process bears little semblance to the process that created the West Berkeley Plan, which involved lengthy deliberations among stakeholders. 

Sitting in the back of the room and listening attentively throughout the session was Allan Gatzke, the city planner who drafted the proposals and presentations under attack from Curl and the panelists. 

While the push for “zoning flexibility” comes from the City Council, with Mayor Tom Bates taking a prominent lead, one of Thursday night’s cautionary critics was the author of a report the city has been using as justification for its push for changes. 

Raquel Pinderhughes said green-collar businesses offer the one sure job category that could provide living wages for those with minimal education and criminal records. Her word should carry some weight with the city since she is the San Francisco State urban studies professor who authored the city’s green-collar jobs report. 

While the tour for commissioners sponsored by the city Planning Department which looked at the proposed zoning changes focused on high-tech companies, most of the business categories in Pinderhughes’ report are lower-tech, with college degrees optional for most jobs. 

Businesses cited in her report range from landscaping and bicycle repair to energy conservation retrofits, recycling and public transit jobs.  

Only one category in her report unequivocally matched the city report’s high-tech criteria, manufacturing jobs related to large-scale production of appropriate technologies. 

The mayor and leaders in other East Bay cities have targeted the high-tech jobs that could result from two major “green fuel” projects now under way under the aegis of UC Berkeley and its Department of Energy-sponsored national labs. 

Another panelist, Karen Chapple, a UC Berkeley associate professor of city and regional planning, has lived in West Berkeley for the past decade, said that zoning offers the best tool “to preserve the fragile industrial ecology” of the area from the economic pressures of housing, offices and retail uses, all of which command higher values when property is leased or sold than industrial and light manufacturing. 

She called for a more focused approached to specific areas within West Berkeley, rather than an implementation of broader measures. 

Abby Thorne-Lyman, another speaker, is a planning consultant with Strategic Economics, a consulting firm now working on industrial land policies in several California cities. While there is often a push to change land uses to allow more intense users that command higher prices, some cities are drawing the line because of the role industrial land plays in providing jobs with better pay and benefits than are offered in the commercial sector, she said. 

Kate O’Hara of the East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy, a workers’ rights advocacy organization, said her organization did some of the basic work that paved the way for Berkeley’s living wage ordinance and advocates for worker rights. 

Trade and logistics, a key non-manufacturing use of industrial land, offer a median wage of $19.85 per hour. In the East Bay, 65.9 percent of the positions offer health care benefits, and many are union jobs, she said. 

The other major use, food manufacturing and processing, offers lower starting wages but rises at middle levels to a median pay of $20.40 an hour. 

These industrial uses provide the main opportunities for workers with no higher education and even past brushes with the law to find work that pays wages adequate to support a family, she said. 

All of the speakers urged the city to tread carefully before disrupting policies that offered the chief opportunities for minorities and those who are striving to rise out of poverty. 

 

Shades of green 

In his opening remarks, Curl said that one reason for the push for zoning changes in West Berkeley was the East Bay Green Corridor Partnership, an alliance of East Bay mayors who hope to attract “green tech” companies to their cities. 

“Who could disagree” with the idea of a cooperative effort to lead the world in environmentally friendly technology? Curl asked rhetorically. 

However, he said, there are already proposals afoot to have Berkeley industries relocate to Emeryville and Oakland, while West Berkeley would be opened up to offices—which other speakers noted would exert inflationary pressures on property prices. 

Bernard Marszelak of the Inkworks cooperative printing firm in West Berkeley addressed the same issue one week earlier during a public forum on fuels derived from farmed crops held by critics of UC Berkeley’s $500 million Energy Bioscience Institute, funded by BP (formerly British Petroleum).  

Marszalek said he was concerned how the push of agrofuels “affects all of us in Berkeley.” 

He described West Berkeley as a habitat threatened by BP, agroindustrial giant Cargill “and other multinational giants that are trying to take over our zoning regulations in West Berkeley.” 

Marszalek said he was concerned that the rush by Mayor Tom Bates and other regional political leaders to transform the East Bay coastline into a green tech corridor may displace the area’s smaller scale artisans and industries. 

One company heavily involved in the farmed fuels program is now moving its labs from West Berkeley to Emeryville. Amyris technologies, headed by UC Berkeley professor Jay Keasling, has leased space downstairs in the same building that houses the Joint BioEnergy Institute, funded by the Department of Energy. 

Critics of the biofuel programs say that will result in the displacement of small landholders from large areas of the Third World to make way for plantations of genetically engineered crops tailored to produce fuels for the cars and SUVs of the First World. 

If critics of the West Berkeley rezoning push are right, the first to be displaced in the rush to synthetic fuels may be much closer to home, in the artists’ studios and small shops of West Berkeley. 

Debra Sanderson, the city’s land use planning manager, told critics who spoke to the Planning Commission that there has been no move to change the plan itself. 

But West Berkeley critics say that the kinds of changes to the zoning regulations now before the commission would have the same effect.


School District Employees Protest State Budget Cuts

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Tuesday March 25, 2008

Dozens of community members joined Berkeley Unified School District employees and parents to protest Gov. Arnold Schwarzenneger’s proposed $4.6 million state education budget cuts Friday. 

They held signs forming a human billboard reading: “No Cuts! Increase State Revenue!” which snaked along the length of the district’s headquarters at 2134 Martin Luther King Jr. Way. 

“People are starting to notice,” said Berkeley Federation of Teacher’s President Cathy Campbell, as drivers honked in support of the protesters. “The word is getting out that these cuts will be devastating for our kids.”  

Campbell said she expected hundreds to turn up at a bigger rally planned for April 9. 

The district sent out 55 pink slips to teachers earlier this month to prepare for the proposed cuts.  

“There’s an effort by the district to bring teachers back by looking at retirements and resignations and their funding options, but there’s still a lot of uncertainty,” Campbell said. 

At least 20 teachers who could be potentially laid off in June showed up to voice their concerns. 

“I still have hope that I won’t lose my job,” said sixth-grade Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School teacher Yvette Felarca, one of those who received a pink slip. “I want to stay on in Berkeley Unified. Our teachers and students deserve better. These cuts are criminal. We need to ensure revenue and a regular form of funding, especially with our state’s diversity. Minorities need our help more than ever in the classroom today.” 

Berkeley Unified stands to lose up to $5 million from the proposed cuts, which could potentially lay off dozens of teachers and counselors and bring an end to after-school programs. 

Districts across California are trying to get the same message across to Sacramento. While some, like Alameda, are getting creative by putting students into trash cans to show the gravity of the situation, others are knocking on the doors of their legislators. 

Felarca and other teachers from her school held letters spelling the word “no” before the word “cuts.” 

“I am here to support the teachers who did get layoff notices,” said Maria Isabel Barrea, a sixth-grade special education teacher who did not receive a potential layoff notice. “It’s important that we all stand together. Our funds are already strained and I think the governor needs to really evaluate how we can fix this situation for the students.” 

The district’s special education teachers did not receive pink slips, Campbell said. 

“They were skipped since it’s an area of shortage,” she said. “There aren’t enough special education teachers in the state or in Berkeley. The board can legally decide to skip them.” 

Counselors, however, were not so lucky. 

“How do you expect students with mental disorders and emotional challenges to sit in the classrooms without additional support?” asked Rosina Keren, one of two counselors at Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School who received potential layoff notices. “Mental health is an integral part of a child’s education. Enough said.” 

School Board President John Selawsky joined the rally holding the letter “T” in the word “cuts.” 

“T for taxes,” he shouted. “They are going to have to talk about raising revenue. The state is letting millionaires get away without paying sales taxes for their yachts. It’s criminal. It’s affecting our kids. Laying off people won’t help to solve the budget crisis at the state level.” 

Selawsky said there had been little change in the proposed cuts over the last month. 

“We won’t know much for another month and a half,” he said. “I predict that the governor won’t pass the budget until August or September, which is good. Otherwise the governor would have his way, which is bad, unless he changes his mind, which I very much doubt.” 

Jefferson Elementary School parent Shui Wong came with her son Owen to protest. 

“We made a conscious decision to put our kids in public school instead of private,” she said. “It’s a real shame. Because of the governor’s short-sightedness, more and more people will opt to put their kids in private school.” 

“Teachers are important,” said Owen, who spent the afternoon waving to motorists and blowing on his whistle as they cheered the protesters. “And teachers at Jefferson are wonderful.”  

Jefferson teacher Beth Trevor, one of the teachers to receive a pink slip, came with her son Jasper to flaunt a red and yellow poster which read: “Flunk the budget, not our children.” 

“It’s been a week since I got the letter,” she said, sporting a “Berkeley’s Best Teachers” badge. “It’s still hard thinking about how we are going to make it to the end of the year, but we are carrying on.” 

Trevor, along with a host of other district employees, are asking people to write letters to their legislators—especially Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata—to increase state revenue. 

“We want Sen. Perata to continue fighting for us and not leave Sacramento before this is resolved,” she said. “We want the state to reinstate the vehicle license tax—which the governor cut when he came in—and bring the top tax bracket back to 11 percent. We didn’t cause the state’s budget problems, so why should we suffer?”


Council Discusses Tax Measures, Condo Conversion

By Judith Scherr
Tuesday March 25, 2008

A long-awaited revision of the Condominium Conversion Ordinance will be before the Berkeley City Council tonight (Tuesday).  

Also on the 7 p.m. agenda will be a contract to manage aspects of a new animal shelter, a feasibility study on impacts of building skyscrapers downtown, an appeal by neighbors of a single-family home proposed for 161 Panoramic Way, a discussion of legal options for challenging aerial spraying to eradicate the Light Brown Apple Moth, a proposal to re-establish the East Bay Public Safety Corridor partnership, and an item that would give the City Council and the public background information on items listed on a commission agenda. 

At a 5 p.m. workshop, the council will discuss various measures it may want to put before the voters on the November ballot, including new taxes for police, fire youth violence prevention, clean storm water, the warm water pool for disabled and elderly people and more. The council will have the option of approving placing the measures on the ballot at its 7 p.m. meeting. 

The chief of police has submitted a report on revisions to the department’s internal procedure for processing complaints against officers. It is an information report that the council can opt to discuss if it chooses to do so. 

 

Condo conversion 

There was general agreement between housing activists and property owners that the way the condominium conversion ordinance was originally written made it difficult to implement, especially the requirement that units to be converted should be brought up to code. In the revised version before the council, only visible life-safety violations must be remedied. Other code violations must be disclosed, but do not have to be remedied. 

At issue between housing activists and property owners, however, is the 12.5 percent fee charge when the property is sold. “It’s got to be reduced,” said David Wilson, active in issues affecting property owners. Wilson said he supported a $19.87 per square foot fee charged early in the conversion process. 

Rent Stabilization Board Chair Jesse Arreguin said the question of fees should be discussed later. Property owners “want to totally redo the ordinance—they want to maximize profits,” he said. 

Arreguin added that the city ought to put a program in place that helps first-time buyers purchase property.  

 

Police complaint policy 

Police Chief Doug Hambleton has updated police complaint procedures to include some of the Police Review Commission’s concerns.  

One of the chief concerns involves the case of former Sgt. Cary Kent, convicted of felonies related to stealing drug evidence he was supposed to keep safe. The commission said police colleagues failed to report Kent’s problem behavior and when it was reported, management failed to act on the reports. 

The new regulation states: “When an employee, who is not a supervisor, becomes aware of or observes what he/she believes to be possible misconduct by another department employee, he/she shall, by the end of the employee’s current shift ... notify a supervisor.” 

Requirements for the supervisor to take immediate corrective action and to report the incidents to a commending officer are written into the new rules. 

The new procedure says serious complaints must be reported immediately. They include: dishonesty, commission of a misdemeanor or felony, improper use of force, employee under the influence of intoxicants, discrimination. 

 

Animal shelter contract 

Also on the agenda is a $50,000 contract ($82 per hour) with former city employee Rene Cardinaux for design and management services connected to building a new animal shelter. Cardinaux would write a request for proposals for the new shelter. Part of the task will be finding the right place for the new structure. A site larger than the current one is needed—which could mean constructing a taller structure at the site—and it needs to be a place where barking dogs will not disrupt residences.  

In November 2002, Berkeley passed Measure I, a $7.2 million bond measure to build a new animal shelter, but an appropriate site was never found. Given rapidly increasing building costs, “the less likely [it has become that] the $7.2 million bond will cover all costs associated with land purchase and construction of a new shelter or the reconstruction of the animal shelter on Second Street,” says the staff report written by Jim Hynes, assistant to the city manager. 

 

Building higher 

The council will consider whether to allocate $40,000 to study the economic implications of various proposals from the Downtown Area Plan Advisory Committee (DAPAC), especially whether building structures as high as 16 stories will be necessary to provide revenue for implementation of DAPAC's recommendations.  

 

Better information 

To give the council more time to read proposals coming from commissions, Councilmember Gordon Wozniak is asking the council to approve an item saying that the full commission packet, which includes background information, must be posted on the Internet at the same time the agenda is posted. 

 


Neighbors Try to Stop Chevron Mini-Mart

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Tuesday March 25, 2008

Some LeConte neighborhood residents trying to stop plans for a 24-hour mini mart at the Chevron franchise at 2996 Shattuck Ave. are scheduled to appear before the city’s Zoning Adjustments Board (ZAB) Thursday as it takes up the question of changing the use permit for the business. 

Property owner Keith Simas—who owns the franchise Xtra Oil Company—will ask the zoning board to approve two more fueling pumps to an existing 24-hour four-pump gas station. He will also request a demolition permit to raze the existing 24-hour kiosk on the property and build a larger convenience store. 

Although some residents in the neighborhood are against the overall expansion, the LeConte Neighborhood Association voted specifically against the 24-hour convenience store aspect of the plan Thursday. 

“We don’t think it’s necessary to expand the store at this point,” said Karl Reeve, the association’s president. “We are not necessarily against the two new fuel pumps, but having a 24-hour convenience store would increase traffic problems and attract the wrong kind of people at night. It would also mean competition for the Roxie Deli that’s right across the street.” 

The city’s zoning ordinance does not regulate retail markets or impose limitations on the number of retail stores in the commercial south area district, under which the project falls. 

Calls to Councilmember Max Anderson —under whose constituency the proposed development falls—for comment were not returned by press time Monday. 

In a letter to the zoning adjustments board, Stuart Rembaum, who lives close to the proposed project, objected to the overall expansion. 

“From my own experience it is extremely difficult to even enter the service station during peak hours, when most people fill up, due to the backed-up traffic on Shattuck Avenue,” he said. “Additional fuel bays hardly make sense given the time and difficulty in accessing the entrance to the service station ... There is already a large Chevron facility at the corner of Telegraph and Ashby. Why should residents have to put up with increased 24-hour noise and traffic, the possibility of increased crime, and unsightly development in a largely residential neighborhood?” 

Project applicant and architect Muthana Ibrahim of Walnut Creek-based MI Architects told the Planet that the additional fuel pumps would reduce on-site traffic. 

“When you have six pumps, it means a lot less congestion,” said Ibrahim, who described himself as a specialist in gas station construction. “It will help to serve the neighborhood. We want to move the kiosk to the back of the square lot and increase its size to 873 square feet. It will organize the pumps, and people will have more opportunity to line up.” 

Ibrahim told the Planet that he couldn’t comment on the concerns raised about the 24-hour-food mart. 

“All I can say is that there will be no major change in operations for the store, ” he said. “The door will be locked at night. It’s important to remember that this is not a corporate site, it is owned by an individual and not Chevron Corporation.” 

Calls to Simas at his Xtra Oil Company office for comment were not returned. 

In the meantime neighbors are gearing up to protest the proposed development at Thursday’s meeting. 

Bill, who has owned Roxie Deli on Shattuck and Ashby since 1985, told the Planet that a neighborhood group had submitted a petition with nearly 200 signatures opposing the 24-hour convenience store to the zoning board. 

“It will lead to more traffic, more noise, more trash,” he told the Planet Friday. “There will be panhandling and drug dealing going on at all sorts of odd hours. My store used to be open until 11 p.m. before but now I close it at 4 p.m. It’s not safe. Why do they need a supermarket in the neighborhood for 24 hours? Unless it’s an emergency, people don’t go out to buy anything in the middle of the night.” 

Although some neighbors had initially believed that the new store would sell alcohol, the staff report states that the zoning staff had cleared up this misconception in August. Calls to project planner Fatema Crane were not returned. 

Mark Tarses, who has lived in the neighborhood for 30 years, said that Ashby and Shattuck was the sixth most dangerous intersection in the city. 

“None of us needs more traffic there,” he said. “A 24-hour fueling station and convenience store would be more appropriate on a freeway. I can imagine some people like college students might want a cup of coffee at 2 a.m., but what kind of people go shopping at 2 a.m.? If all they had wanted was a bigger gas station, then it would have been OK, but he wants too many things at the same time.” 

Bikash Adhikari, a cashier at the US Smog & Gas station—which is at the same intersection, on the other side of Ashby from the Chevron station—said that two new fuel pumps would create more traffic problems. 

“The junction will choke,” he said. “I have seen quite a few accidents happen here. Just the other day two cars hit each other in the middle of the day.” 

 

 

 

 


Nurse Strike Numbers Disputed by Sutter, CNA Officials

By Richard Brenneman
Tuesday March 25, 2008

Just how many Alta Bates Summit nurses have honored picket lines at the two Berkeley hospitals and Oakland’s Summit Medical Center remained an open question Monday. 

Members of the California Nurses Association (CNA) walked out Friday morning for the start of a 10-day strike against 11 hospitals in the Sutter Health chain. 

How many RNs are striking is a contested issue. While a Sutter e-mail to the media claimed that 57 percent of Summit Alta Bates reported for working Friday, it’s unclear just which nurses are being counted. 

In a press release from the company’s Sacramento headquarters, Sutter Health claimed Friday that “impressive numbers of registered nurses have rebuked” the union and returned to work as scheduled. 

The percentages of returning nurses, Sutter reported, ranged from a low of 31 percent at California Pacific Medical Center’s St. Luke’s campus in San Francisco to a high of 57 percent at Alta Bates Summit. 

“They are deliberately lying about those numbers,” said CNA activist Chuck Idelson, who said that 95 percent of Sutter RN’s are participating in the action, and that numbers are especially high at the three Summit Alta Bates facilities. 

While Sutter claims the strike is really about increasing union membership and revenues, the nurses contend the fight is about patient care standards and reduction of health care benefits. 

The current action, which began at 7 a.m. Friday, is the third and longest walkout called by the CNA since talks stalled between the hospitals and the union. Two other one-day walkouts were extended to five-day lockouts by the chain. 

Though all the hospitals are owned by one corporation, Sutter has fought all union attempts to win a system-wide contract. 

CNA represents only part of Sutter’s nursing staff, with licensed vocational nurses represented by the health care division of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). 

While the SEIU honored CNA picket lines during the first walkout, the two unions have since entered an ongoing feud. 

The strikers, who thronged the eastern corner of the hospital’s main driveway on Ashby Avenue Monday, were in good spirits, buoyed by frequent friendly honks from the cars of passing motorists. 

 

Money matters  

While Sutter is legally a non-profit, some of the salaries revealed in the corporation’s tax filings are on a par with those at for-profit corporations. 

For tax year 2005, the last year for which tax returns are available, outgoing president and CEO Van R. Johnson earned a salary of $2,309,575. Sutter’s organizational development executive, James Farrell, made $777,177, while the Alta Bates Summit CEO made a mere $581,679. 

The tax return lists 14 executives making over $500,000, including then-incoming CEO Patrick Fry, who made $1,371,464, mostly from his prior tenure as chief operating officer. 

One other executive reached the seven-figure level, Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer Gordon Hunt, with $1,019,089. 

While Alta Bates Summit public relations director Carolyn Kemp hasn’t returned calls from a Daily Planet reporter for more than a year, a hospital press release reported that average full-time pay for nurses at the hospitals “is more than $120,000 a year.” 

Sutter Health reported total revenues of $376.6 million for the year, against expenses of $380.8 million. During the same year, net assets increased from $508.5 million to $560.2 million. 


West Berkeley, Density, Downtown Plan On Planning Commission Agenda

By Richard Brenneman
Tuesday March 25, 2008

West Berkeley zoning changes are back on the Planning Commission’s agenda for Wednesday night, along with the Downtown Area Plan and the density bonus. 

The issue in West Berkeley is a set of proposals prepared by city planning staff that would provide what officials call “increased flexibility” and which a coalition of artists and small industrial companies says could spell doom for the West Berkeley Plan.  

The proposals come at a time when the city is mounting an official effort to attract more companies researching high-tech “green” approaches to environmental problems such as energy conservation and global warming. 

Wednesday’s meeting will look at current regulatory issues in West Berkeley and will feature a staff report on the commission’s March 1 tour of the area. 

The commission is also preparing its own recommendations which will accompany the Downtown Area Plan to the City Council. The panel’s majority has already voted once against the wishes of the majority of the Downtown Area Plan Advisory Committee, which spent two years formulating the proposed plan. 

Commissioners voted to support an economic study specifically rejected by the DAPAC majority, and which goes to the City Council for a vote tonight (Tuesday). 

During Wednesday’s meeting, commissioners will focus on transportation proposals required before the plan’s environmental impact report can be prepared. 

Commissioners will also be discussing density bonus recommendations from city staff, which conflict in part with another set of recommendations prepared by a joint subcommittee drawn from the Planning and Housing Advisory commissions and the Zoning Adjustments Board. 

The commission will also hear a staff report on the potential impacts of propositions 98 and 99 on development standards. The rival initiatives ostensibly focus on eminent domain, but could have far greater impacts on the ability of local government to regulate development. 

Finally, the commission is also slated to set a hearing date on proposed revisions to the city’s wireless telecommuncations facilities ordinance, which regulates the installation of cell phone antennae in the city. 

The meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the North Berkeley Senior Center, 1901 Hearst Ave.


Thurmond Continues to Lead Assembly 14 Fundraising

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Tuesday March 25, 2008

With a new round of campaign finance filings due Monday to the California Secretary of State’s office, the big surprise was that Richmond City Councilmember Tony Thurmond continued to hold the lead in fundraising for the District 14 Assembly seat. 

But East Bay Regional Parks board member and former Berkeley City Councilmember Nancy Skinner has the largest campaign war chest for the stretch run of the campaign. With $122,198 in the bank in mid-March, Skinner has twice as much money on hand than any of her three opponents. 

Four candidates—Thurmond, Skinner, Berkeley physician Phil Polakoff, and Berkeley City Councilmember Kriss Worthington—are running in the June 3 Democratic primary to replace the termed-out Loni Hancock in an assembly district that stretches from Richmond through Berkeley and a small portion of north Oakland, and out to Orinda, Lafayette, and Moraga to the east.  

Political observers expected Polakoff to have a large fundraising edge in this campaign. But Thurmond continues to lead in Assembly 14 fundraising, with Polakoff second, Skinner third, and Worthington fourth. 

After Thurmond outraised Polakoff $84,215 to $58,150 during 2007, with Worthington coming in third at $56,373 and Skinner not yet receiving contributions, Thurmond told the Daily Planet that his fund-raising lead came only because he has been raising money since the beginning of 2007, and he expected the other candidates to surpass him before the election. 

Skinner did not begin raising money until after the first of the year. 

But Polakoff raised only $10,000 more than Thurmond ($49,257 to $39,216) during the last reporting period—Jan. 1 through March 17, 2008—giving the Richmond councilmember a fundraising total of $123,431 to Polakoff’s $107,407 since January 2007.  

Worthington raised $25,914 in the latest reporting period, bringing his fund-raising total since January 2007 to $82,287. Worthington also loaned his campaign $22,000 in January. The Berkeley councilmember entered the main portion of the campaign season with more money in the bank ($64,317) than Polakoff ($55,883) and Thurmond ($53,494). 

Skinner more than made up for her late fund-raising start, raising $95,668 in contributions in the first two and a half months of 2008, not counting $3,500 she transferred from her Nancy Skinner for Park District campaign committee and $3,600 she contributed to her own campaign. Skinner also loaned her campaign another $30,000.  

Polakoff’s only major donor during this reporting period was Menlo Park investment banker James Davidson ($3,600). 

Worthington had three large donors: Cooper White & Cooper LLP legal assistant Martin Spence of San Pablo ($3,600), Michael Sheen, associate consultant to 16th District Assemblymember Sandré Swanson ($3,000), and Great Works Inc. owner Ross Moore of San Francisco ($3,000). 

Thurmond had several large donors: Construction & General Laborers Local 304 PAC of Sacramento ($3,600), Oakland real estate investor Wayne Jordan ($3,600), Akonadi FDN grant writer M. Quinn Delaney of Oakland ($3,600), San Francisco attorney Steve Phillips ($3,600), and Piedmont developer J.R. Orton ($2,600). 

Skinner also had several large donors: City of Berkeley computer specialist Lance Brady ($3,600), Berkeley City Councilmember Linda Maio ($3,600), Berkeley retiree Sara Sanderson ($3,600), Berkeley attorney Jeffrey Sinsheimer of Coblentz, Patch, Duffy & Bass LLP ($3,600), Berkeley attorney Eric Weaver ($3,600), Berkeley resident John Dickson of Chevron Energy Solutions business development ($3,500), Berkeley retiree Alice Philipson ($2,500), Kaiser Permanente physician Richard Godfrey of Fremont ($2,500), Green Energy War LLC blogger/podcaster John Geesman of Orinda ($2,000), and City of Berkeley urban planning consultant Michael Berkowitz ($2,000).


Hancock Leads Chan in District 9 Fundraising

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Tuesday March 25, 2008

Fourteenth District Assemblymember Loni Hancock continued to outraise her opponent, former 14th District Assemblymember Wilma Chan, in their race for the Senate District 9 seat vacated by Don Perata, according to the most recent reports filed by both campaigns with the California secretary of state. 

Hancock raised $125,097 between January and March 17, 2008, to the $33,560 raised by Chan, giving Hancock a $625,604 to $198,394 fund-raising lead since January 2007. 

Chan maintains a $100,000 lead—$507,283 to $406,107—in cash on hand for the stretch run to the June 3 Democratic primary. 

Chan had only a handful of major donors this reporting session: Harbor Bay Isle Associates-Doric Realty of Alameda ($3,600), Re-Elect [John] Russo for [Oakland] City Attorney committee ($3,600), UNITE HERE TIP State and Local Fund of New York (labor-based PAC, which says it “supports pro-worker candidates for local office”) ($3,300), and AGI Capital Group of San Francisco ($2,000). 

Hancock’s major donor list for the first two and a half months of 2008 was considerably larger: California Dental PAC ($5,200), Alberto Torrico for Assembly 2008 committee of Fremont ($3,600), Home Budget Loan executive Stanley Zimmerman of Los Angeles ($3,600), Desaulnier for Senate 2008 campaign committee of Sacramento ($3,600), [Bill] Lockyer [for Governor] 2010 campaign committee ($3,600), Friends of Anthony Portantino campaign committee of Los Angeles ($3,600), investor Peter Kinzie Buckley of Mill Valley ($3,000), Meyer Sound engineer John Meyer of Berkeley ($2,600), Los Angeles retiree Rita Williams ($2,500), Herst Ventures Inc. executive Douglas Herst of Ross, California ($2,500), Betty Yee 2010 campaign committee of Los Angeles ($2,000), Political Education Committee of Public Employees #1 of Martinez ($2,000), Oliver & Company construction, development and management firm of Richmond ($2,000), Waste Management & Affiliated Entities of Sacramento ($2,000), International Union of Painters and Allied Trades of Washington, D.C. ($2,000), and environmental consultant Juliet Lamont of Berkeley ($2,000). 


Bennett ‘Bud’ Hassink, 1926-2008

By March Hajre-Chapman
Tuesday March 25, 2008

Bennett James Hassink, known to his many friends as “Bud,” died in Berkeley on Monday Feb. 25, 2008, at the age of 81, from congestive heart failure.  

He was born in Cleveland, Ohio in March 1926, where he was married to Mildred Pugh. Bud and Millie could be considered one of the early “bohemian” couples during the early 1960s. Millie, a talented artisan and jeweler, bore him his first daughter March. Their home on Wadena Street in East Cleveland was always full of interesting people, listening to electronically combined sounds and bits of recorded music that Bud mixed on reel-to-reel tapes, with lots of conversations, philosophical discussions and chess games. The music Bud made was far ahead of the synthesizer music and sounds of the’70s, and it had an ethereal yet melodic quality. He was routinely involved in the Cleveland music scene.  

Bud regularly brought his daughter, March, to the local be-ins in the park, and then went backstage at the La Cave Club to meet some of the musicians who played there, such as the Velvet Underground and Janis Ian. Bud came to the Bay Area in the mid ‘60s. He was an early member, along with his good friend Ron Thelin of the SF Diggers. Together the Diggers went on to start The Free Clinic and Food Services for Poor Youth in San Francisco. Bud hung out in the Bay Area during the height of the counter-culture movement, befriending many—Peter Coyote, some of the members of the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, etc.  

Bud received a part in the film The Last Movie with Dennis Hopper, Michelle Philips, and Peter Fonda, which was filmed in Peru and released in 1971. He played a cowboy that was a member of Billy’s Gang.  

Another life-changing event was to happen in 1970, when Bud was staying with friends in Mendocino County and was shot by an acquaintance five times at close range with a large handgun. The details of exactly what happened that night never really emerged, but Bud miraculously survived. He always said afterwards that he didn’t hold anything against the person who shot him, and thought that the shooting had given him a second chance at life—that he was indeed reborn. 

By 1973 Bud settled down in Berkeley, in the Elmwood District. Here he met Alice Meyers, and his second daughter, Cebelle, was born in 1975. He worked for many years for the Berkeley public schools, supervising the playground during lunch time and recess, reading to children from the Great Books program in the Library, helping kindergartners open their milk cartons, helping them all find their way around the school, nursing their little hurts and truly befriending the youngsters. He made a huge impact on many young lives as evidenced by the number of young adults who would visit the bookstore where Bud later worked to say hello and tell stories of how he took care of them in their elementary school days.  

During this same time, Bud was a frequent regular at Ozzie’s Soda Shop at the corner of College and Russell. He could often be found there with his good friend Ed Lindsey, sipping on a chocolate malt and discussing the day’s events. Their meetings and regular attendance at the Soda Shop was even chronicled in a book on the history of the Elmwood District. 

From 1985 to the present, Bud worked at Lewin’s Metaphysical Bookstore on Ashby Avenue. Literally hundreds of people, both regular and new customers of the bookstore, would stop by to say hello, buy a book, or most affectionately, have an interesting and dynamic conversation with Bud on an incredible variety of topics. On the days he wasn’t in the bookstore, he would attend the Arthur Young’s Institute presentations or UC Berkeley academic colloquiums and engagements.  

In April of 1991, Bud traveled with his friend Alvin Warwas to the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico. There they visited the Mayan ruins and sites. Bud was keenly interested in the historic development of the Mayan Calendar. The archeological site of Dzibilchaltun was a particularly important town to Bud among those they visited. Recent visitors to the bookstore would usually be asked when their birthday was so Bud could look up their symbol, or glyph, in the Mayan ritual cycle, and then help them read and understand what the cycle symbol meant. Bud was indeed, in many more ways than any of us really knew, a World Bridger 

Surviving Bud are March Hajre-Chapman, daughter of Mildred Pugh; and Cebelle Hassink, daughter of Alice Williams Meyers; and Bud’s long-time partner, Yvonne Lewin. 

A celebration of Bud’s life will be held on Sunday March 30 at 2247 Ashby Ave. starting at noon, with a tribute in his honor at 1 p.m. Please RSVP to 649-8980. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to any Berkeley Public School in his name.


Berkeley Gets New Rent Board Member And Acting Housing Director

By Judith Scherr
Tuesday March 25, 2008

Corinne “Corie” Calfee will fill the Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board seat vacated by the resignation of Chris Kavanagh, Rent Board Executive Director Jay Kelekian said Friday.  

Kavanagh stepped down just before pleading no contest to a felony charge related to having lived in Oakland while serving on the Berkeley rent board. He will be sentenced April 24.  

Also on Friday, City Manager Phil Kamlarz announced the appointment of Jane Micallef as acting housing director, effective Monday. She takes over from Interim Housing Director Rae Mary, who had told the Planet he did not seek a permanent post.  

Micallef, who has worked in various positions in the city concerned with housing and homelessness since 1996, will leave her post as head of the Housing and Homeless Services Division to take the position of acting director. 

Micallef is a graduate of Boalt Hall Law School (now called the UC Berkeley Law School) and practiced poverty law after graduation.  

Rent Stabilization Board Chair Jesse Arreguin, also a member of the Housing Advisory Commission, told the Daily Planet Monday that he’s worked with Micallef and has been “constantly impressed with her knowledge and dedication to trying to serve underprivileged people in the community.”  

Calfee, named to the board in an unanimous vote March 17, is a land-use attorney at Ellman Burke Hoffman & Johnson in San Francisco, with a dual degree from Boalt and the UC’s Goldman School of Public Policy.  

She will serve until Nov. 30 and can choose to stand for election in November.  

In her interview, Calfee showed a clear understanding of the mission of the rent board and the duties of the board, according to a statement by the search committee.  

“She also comprehends the complex nature and power dynamics of the landlord/tenant relationship. Ms. Calfee articulated how rent control functions as a vital public policy for maintaining the stability of our community and its diverse social and economic character,” the search committee said in a report to the full board.  

Fourteen people applied for the rent board post. The board interviewed seven of them: Raquel Aguirre, director of Immigrant and Refugee Services, Catholic Charities of the East Bay; former rent board Member Judy Ann Alberti, Peace and Justice Commissioner Elliot Cohen, former school board Member Terry Doran, former rent board Member Marsha Feinland and Takasumi Kojima, a semi-retired architect.  

The other applicants were: Nasira Abdul-Aleem, Robert Blau, Max Dama, Jonathan Shane Davis, Scott Christopher Locklin, Allen Stross and Stacy Young.  

Arreguin said he himself was impressed that so many people applied for the rent board post and that the board was especially impressed with Calfee’s experience in land-use law and her commitment to oppose Proposition 98, which he said will gut rent control in California. 

 

 


West Berkeley Man Dies in I-80 Collision

By Richard Brenneman
Tuesday March 25, 2008

Samuel Torres, a 60-year-old West Berkeley man, died in an early morning accident Saturday near the Ashby Avenue exit on eastbound I-80. 

The driver of the second car in the collision, a 27-year-old Oakland man, was arrested by CHP on suspicion of drunk driving. CHP Sgt. Mark McAffee said his agency was notified of the accident at 5:46 a.m. 

While details of the accident remain subject to the findings of the investigation, McAffee said that the Oakland driver’s car, a 2001 Volkswagen, struck the center divider before swerving right across the traffic lanes and into the guardrail. 

Just when his car struck Torres’ 1994 Suzuki is still under investigation, McAffee said, but the small Japanese car also struck the guardrail. 

The CHP is withholding the Oakland driver’s name, while Torres, 60, lived at 1654 10th St. in West Berkeley. He died at the scene. 


Hodge Asks Court to Put Him on Ballot for Oakland Council Race

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Friday March 21, 2008

Posted Mon., March 24—Oakland School Board member Greg Hodge filed a motion with the Superior Court today (Monday), asking that the court reverse the Oakland City Clerk’s decision to keep him off the June 3 ballot for the District 3 Oakland City Council race. 

A hearing on Hodge’s motion will be held Tuesday in Department 31 in the U.S. Post Office Building, 201 13th St., in Oakland. No time for the hearing was available. 

Hodge could not be contacted for comment for this story, and a spokesperson for the Oakland City Attorney’s office said that its office had not yet received a copy of Hodge’s petition and could therefore not comment.  

Assistant Oakland City Clerk Marjo Keller, who made the final determination on Hodge’s petition that knocked him off the ballot, earlier told the Daily Planet, “the only way I would be able to put him on the ballot is if I were ordered to do so by the court.”  

There is no appeal to the Oakland council on the matter. 

Hodge is seeking to challenge longtime incumbent Nancy Nadel for the District 3 council seat, which has the same boundaries as Hodge’s District 3 School Board seat. Nadel has one challenger for her seat, political newcomer Sean Sullivan, development director of the Oakland branch of Covenant House. 

With 50 signatures of District 3 registered voters needed to qualify for the ballot, Hodge turned in 74. After a week of deliberations in which the Alameda County Registrar’s office initially ruled that Hodge was three signatures short but then reversed itsself and ruled that he had a sufficient number of signatures to qualify, a final review by the Oakland City Clerk’s office determined that Hodge was one signature short. 

Hodge is asking the judge to reverse the City Clerk’s decision on one of those disallowed signatures, a ruling that would put him on the June 3 ballot. 


New Rent Board Member and Acting Housing Director Chosen for Berkeley

By Judith Scherr
Friday March 21, 2008

Posted Sat., March 22—Corinne "Corie" Calfee will fill the seat on the Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board left vacant by the resignation of Chris Kavanagh, Jay Kelekian, rent board executive director, said Friday. 

Kavanagh stepped down just before pleading no contest to a felony charge related to having lived in Oakland while serving on the Berkeley rent board. He will be sentenced April 24. 

Also on Friday, City Manager Phil Kamlarz announced the appointment of Jane Micallef as acting housing director. Micallef will leave her post as the city's manager of the Housing and Homeless Services Division of the city of Berkeley’s Housing Department to take the position. She's worked in city services for the homeless since 1996. Micallef is a graduate of Boalt Law School and practiced poverty law after graduation. 

Calfee is a land-use attorney with a joint degree from Boalt and the Goldman School of Public Policy. She is a land-use attorney at Ellman Burke Hoffman & Johnson in San Francisco. 

She was selected by a unanimous rent board on March 17, Kelekian said. If she chooses, she can run for re-election in November. 

In her interview, Calfee showed a clear understanding of the mission of the rent board and the duties of the board, according to a statement by the search committee. "She also comprehends the complex nature and power dynamics of the landlord/tenant relationship. Ms. Calfee articulated how rent control functions as a vital public policy for maintaining the stability of our community and its diverse social and economic character," the search committee said in a report to the full board. 

Fourteen people applied for the rent board post. The board interviewed seven among them: Raquel Aguirre, director of Immigrant and Refugee Services, Catholic Charities of the East Bay; former Rent Board Member Judy Ann Alberti, Peace and Justice Commissioner Elliot Cohen, Former School Bard Member Terry Doran, Former Rent Board Member Marsha Feinland and Takasumi Kojima, a semi-retired architect. 

The seven other applicants were: Nasira Abdul-Aleem, Robert Blau, Max Dama, Jonathan Shane Davis, Scott Christopher Locklin, Allen Stross and Stacy Young. 


West Berkeley Speakers Say Keep Industrial Jobs

By Richard Brenneman
Friday March 21, 2008

Posted Fri., March 21—Workers, residents and small business owners gathered Thursday night to hear planners and labor activists offer evidence and arguments for exercising restraint in making any zoning changes in West Berkeley. 

Organized by West Berkeley Artisans & Industrial Companies (WEBAIC), the meeting challenged proposed zoning changes now before the city's Planning Commission. 

“The (city) staff has put everything on the table ... on an extremely fast-track basis,” said WEBAIC Chair John Curl, a woodworker with his studio in the Sawtooth Building, a West Berkeley landmark. 

Sitting in the back of the room and listening attentively throughout the session was Allan Gatzke, the city planner who drafted the proposals and presentations under attack from Curl and the panelists. 

While the push for “zoning flexibility” comes from the City Council, with Mayor Tom Bates taking a prominent lead, one of Thursday night's cautionary critics was the author of a report the city is using as justification for its push for changes. 

Raquel Pinderhughes said so- called green collar businesses offered the one sure job category that could lead to living wages for those with minimal education or criminal records. Her word should carry some weight with the city, since she is the San Francisco State urban studies professor who authored the city's green collar jobs report. 

While the city planning department tour for commissioners looking at the proposed zoning changes focused on high- tech companies, most of the business categories in Pinderhughes' report are lower tech, with college degrees optional for most jobs. 

Businesses cited in her report range from landscaping and bicycle repair to energy conservation retrofits, recycling and public transit jobs.  

Only one category unequivocally matched the high-tech criteria: manufacturing jobs related to large-scale production of appropriate technologies. 

The mayor and leaders in other East Bay cities have targeted high-tech jobs that could result from two major “green fuel” projects now underway under the aegis of UC Berkeley and its Department of Energy-sponsored national labs. 

Karen Chapple, a UC Berkeley associate professor of city and regional planning who has lived in West Berkeley for the past decade, said that zoning offers the best tool “to preserve the fragile industrial ecology” of the area from the economic pressures of housing, offices and retail, all of which command higher values than industrial and light manufacturing. 

She called for a more focused approached to specific areas within West Berkeley, rather than an implementation of broader measures. 

Abby Thorne-Lyman, a planning consultant with Strategic Economics, a consulting firm working on industrial land policies in several California cities, said while there is often a push to change land uses to allow more users that command higher prices, some cities are drawing the line because of the role industrial land plays in providing jobs with better pay and benefits than are offered in the commercial sector. 

Kate O'Hara of the East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy said her organization did some of the basic work that paved the way for Berkeley's living wage ordinance and advocates for worker rights. 

Trade and logistics businesses, a key non-manufacturing use of industrial land, offers a median wage of $19.85 per hour, and 65.9 percent of the positions in the East Bay offer health care benefits, and many are union jobs, she said. 

The other major use, food manufacturing and processing, offers lower starting wages but raises at middle levels to a median pay of $20.40 an hour. 

These industrial uses provide the main opportunities for workers with no higher education and even past brushes with the law to find work that pays wages a adequate to support a family, she said. 

All of the speakers urged the city to tread carefully before disrupting policies that offered the chief opportunities for minorities and those who are striving to rise out of poverty. 


Two Designs Promise Center Street Changes

By Richard Brenneman
Friday March 21, 2008
Walter Hood describes two of his proposals for Strawberry Creek Plaza as Kirstin Miller (left) of EcoCity Builders, one of the organizations sponsoring the proposals, and Kitty McClain, listen in.
Richard Brenneman
Walter Hood describes two of his proposals for Strawberry Creek Plaza as Kirstin Miller (left) of EcoCity Builders, one of the organizations sponsoring the proposals, and Kitty McClain, listen in.
UC Berkeley officials gave the Board of Regents their first official look at architect Toyo Ito’s plans for the new Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive Building planned for the western side of Oxford Street between Center and Addison streets.
UC Berkeley officials gave the Board of Regents their first official look at architect Toyo Ito’s plans for the new Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive Building planned for the western side of Oxford Street between Center and Addison streets.

In the space of two days, UC Berkeley unveiled plans for a provocative new museum on Center Street, and a noted university landscape architect revealed his vision for the Center Street landscape it will face. 

The university presented the UC Regents with plans by Japanese architect Toyo Ito for the Berkeley Art Museum / Pacific Film Archive building, which will occupy the eastern half of the block of Center between Shattuck Avenue and Oxford Street. 

An architect with a growing international reputation, Ito has created a wavilinear design certain to provoke gapes of both admiration and indignation in a city where design issues have been known to provoke shouting matches at public meetings. 

Wednesday night brought landscape architect Walter Hood to the Gaia Building, where he unveiled alternative visions for Center Street along the same block between Shattuck and Oxford. 

Hood, who teaches at the university, was picked by EcoCity Builders and Friends of Strawberry Creek Plaza to come up with a design that would transform the block of city street into a pedestrian-friendly public space which would restore some of the creek that once flowed openly from the campus to the bay. 

Kirstin Miller of EcoCity Builders, the non-profit that hired Hood in partnership with Friends of Strawberry Creek Plaza, said funds for the design have come from private donors, including a grant from the New Jersey-based Helen and William Mazer Foundation. 

Hood said he began his design by monitoring the movement of people and vehicles on Center Street over a 24-hour timeframe, describing the process as a tidal flow that during the morning brings a stream of people into the campus, and reverses itself as the day wears on. 

With the basic premise that through-vehicle traffic would end—with only emergency and delivery vehicles allowed onto the plaza and possibly some cars at night allowed for businesses with valet parking—the questions became “How do you keep this vitality?” and “How do you slow people down ... and make them aware of the context in which they live?” 

Designs progressed from large-scale conceptions of the Strawberry Creek watershed from the hills to the bay, gradually focusing on the more immediate scale of the block itself, while embracing the nearby campus crescent and the Shattuck Avenue intersection and BART plaza across the avenue. 

Hood experimented with a variety of design schemes, starting with 28, which were eventually pared to 14, which were finally reduced to three designs he called hybrids. 

Because of the large expenses involved, Hood said none of the schemes calls for a full-scale “daylighting” of Strawberry Creek, a rechanneling and restoration of the waterway. 

One possibility involves creation of a five-stage system of pools, while another reduces the presence of water to a fountain. 

Elyce Judith of Friends of Strawberry Creek said advocates of the plaza are seeking a public site to exhibit the models in order to encourage community input before selecting a final design to take to the City Council. 

She said the project might be funded with the help of some of the $5 billion in government funding that will be available for water treatment projects in the next one to three years. 

Many members of the Downtown Area Plan Advisory Committee were on hand for the event because creating a Center Street Plaza is a major element in the plan they crafted. 

Hood’s concepts brought praise from members who had been on opposite sides of key issues during the planning process, as was the case with Chair Will Travis and member Jesse Arreguin. 

Rob Wrenn wasn’t quite as enthusiastic, because, he said, rather than creating a plaza capable of holding large public gatherings, Hood said he had created designs to allow a number of simultaneous smaller gatherings. 

Planning Commission Chair and DAPAC member James Samuels said he was concerned that the designs overlooked the opportunity to integrate the open space in front of the art museum. 

 

Museum praised  

While Toyo Ito’s designs for the museum weren’t on display at the plaza meeting, Samuels voiced high praise for his concept. 

“I really like it,” said Samuels. “It’s a wonderful concept.” 

Ito’s fame has grown in recent decades, and he has won major commissions from Asia to Europe, but the Berkeley museum is his first major commission in the U.S. 

The Japanese architect’s designs vary dramatically from project to project, and have been described as “high concept” pieces. 

His Senda Media Center in Japan was inspired by the sight of floating columns of seaweed, and the resulting design has drawn high praise from others in the field. 

But his proposal for Berkeley is certain to draw fire from architectural traditionalists, as well as from members of the preservation community who are saddened that its construction will result in the demolition of the university printing plant where the first copies of the United Nations Charter were printed in 1946. 

The new building, budgeted at $145 million, will house the museum and film center now housed in a seismically unsafe concrete structure on Bancroft Way. 

In a press release issued Wednesday, university officials said fundraising was in its early stages. No action was required of the regents this week, since they have already approved the project. 

The board Committee on Grounds and Buildings also voted to approve two major projects on the Berkeley campus. 

The board approved designs and the environmental impact report for Campbell Hall, authorizing construction of a replacement for the seismically unsafe building, and it voted to authorize a $90 million budget for an infill building that will be constructed in the courtyard of the university’s law school, until last year known as Boalt Hall.


Protests Mark War’s Fifth Anniversary

By Judith Scherr
Friday March 21, 2008

Calling for immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq, participants in daylong events in Berkeley marked the fifth anniversary of the Iraq War on Wednesday with protests at the downtown Marine Recruiting Center and a rally in Civic Center Park. 

At its height, the protest grew to some 250 people when Civic Center demonstrators marched to the recruiting center after the noon rally, but for most of the day numbers were smaller, with police sometimes outnumbering protesters. 

The noon rally in the park featured a hip-hop band and Cindy Sheehan, peace activist turned candidate for Congress, who is running for Nancy Pelosi’s seat on the Green Party ticket. Addressing the young people, Sheehan, whose son Casey was killed in Iraq, said the growing debt to pay for the war will fall to them. “They’re robbing you of your future,” she said.  

“They send jobs overseas and think you’ll join the military,” she said, urging the teens to “flip burgers,” if they have to.  

“Do not join the military,” she warned, adding, “We have a right to say, ‘Marines, get out of our community.’ ” 

Calling on the crowd to become active opponents of the war, Sheehan asked, “Why are George Bush and Dick Cheney still there?” and answered, “We let them be there.” 

Organizers—the ANSWER Coalition, Code Pink and the World Can’t Wait—held a second rally in the street outside the Marine Recruiting Center at 64 Shattuck Square, as police blocked traffic. Demonstrators had maintained a presence all day at the recruiting center, which did not open. 

A group of five people, most of them members of the Berkeley College Republicans, held American flags and argued with some of the anti-war demonstrators. 

A counter-protester, who identified herself only as Kimberly, told the Planet she had come because the Berkeley City Council had been disrespectful to the Marines by saying they were not welcome in the city. 

She was also there to support the war effort, which she called a “defensive war.”  

“We can’t wait until we’re attacked,” she said. Asked if the Iraqis were going to attack the U.S., she said it isn’t the Iraqi people that would attack.  

“It’s a threat from the Middle East,” she said. Without the defensive war, “9-11 could happen all over again.” 

Police Chief Doug Hambleton, who spoke to the Planet while observing the scene at the recruiting center in the afternoon, said the entire police force was on duty, with officers covering their regular beats and other officers working on their days off to cover the demonstrations. 

Asked why there were so many police—at times there were as many as three dozen officers guarding the Marine Recruiting Center, with another dozen across the street and more stationed at several downtown intersections—Hambleton and City Manager Phil Kamlarz, who was also observing at the recruiting center, both said they had no idea how many demonstrators would be on the streets. 

“Even the organizers didn’t know,” Kamlarz said. 

Police Review Commissioner Michael Sherman, also at the recruiting center, told the Planet he thought the day had gone well. He had expressed concern earlier about complaints the members of the Police Review Commission heard alleging officers overreacted to demonstrations, including pushing protesters to the ground. 

Sherman said he understood why there were so many officers on duty. “It’s like an insurance policy—you’re prepared for the worst,” he said. 

No arrests were made, according to Berkeley police spokesperson Sgt. Mary Kusmiss.


Mayor Speaks Against War at Chamber Lunch

By Judith Scherr
Friday March 21, 2008

Flying in the face of his hosts’ concerns regarding demonstrations at the Marine Recruiting Center, Mayor Tom Bates spoke out about his opposition to the war in Iraq and support for peaceful demonstrations. The speech was delivered Tuesday at a Chamber of Commerce luncheon where the mayor was the featured speaker. 

Bates also painted a rosy picture of the city’s economy, with flourishing hotels and restaurants, lauded city efforts to build downtown (perhaps up to 18 stories), laid out plans to build green and more. 

Toward the end of his talk, the mayor introduced the topic of ongoing Marine Recruiting Center demonstrations on a lighthearted note: “Let me conclude with the topic of the day,” he said, “the battle of Code Pink vs. the United States Marine Corps. That’s not a fair fight!” 

Bates went on to say that beyond what people think “of this Code Pink stuff”—a recent photo on the Chamber of Commerce website portrayed CEO Ted Garrett bringing donuts to a Marine recruiter—the war, whose fifth anniversary was the next day, had caused the deaths of some 4,000 U.S. military personnel and the injury of about 28,000 Americans. Some 1 million Iraqis have been killed and 4 million displaced, he said. 

Trillions of dollars have been spent on the war. “Can you imagine what that would mean if we had that for education? If we had that for housing?” he asked. “What a waste. We were lied to, to begin with.”  

Bates placed the current demonstrations in a historical context. “First of all, this city has protested wars and recruiting stations since I was in grammar school. People lay on the railroad tracks. People tied themselves to the recruiting station door,” he said. 

Since 2003 there have been protests at recruiting stations all over the country. “It’s not like Berkeley is unique in this regard,” said Bates, a former Army captain.  

Bates said he does not support young people going into the military and noted that those who sign up have few options. 

The mayor spoke to the Jan. 29 council item calling Marine recruiters “unwelcome intruders,” which sparked a nationwide, mostly right-wing, reaction.  

The council was wrong to pass an item with inflammatory language that had not been properly vetted, he said. “It passed and I’m sorry. I’ve apologized at every forum I can think of, but I’m not prepared to apologize to the Marines who are recruiting our kids to go to this war.” 

He pointed out that Code Pink has been demonstrating in many venues other than Berkeley, including in front of Nancy Pelosi’s house and at Congress. At the same time there are counter-demonstrations by Move America Forward, billed as a grassroots organization, but which actually is “a bunch of right-wing shock jocks,” Bates said. 

Move America Forward wants to move the U.N. out of the United States and build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border to keep immigrants out, he added. (Move America Forward is headed by talk-show host Melanie Morgan, recently laid off by KSFO.) 

Bates said that there have been boycotts of Berkeley in the past and that the current one will pass as they have before. 

“We need to take the high road. We need to talk about what is great about this community,” he said. 

No one in the audience criticized Bates overtly, but during the question and answer session, when Bates addressed anonymous written questions, the issue was raised. One person asked about the high cost of overtime police for demonstrations, which Bates said he couldn’t answer, and another made a statement asserting that middle-class youth sign up voluntarily for military service, countering Bates’ view that people without resources join the service. 

After the luncheon, the Planet asked Chamber Executive Director Ted Garrett whether he was disappointed in Bates’ anti-war remarks, but Garrett said his primary concern was the protests’ harm to local business, especially the businesses adjacent to the Marine Recruiting Center. 

He pointed to hotels and restaurants that received cancellations recently, but conceded that it’s hard to know whether that was because of a boycott or because of the economy. Responding to a question, Garrett said he had not asked other businesses near the recruiting center whether their receipts have increased because of the increased numbers of people flocking downtown for protests. 

In response to another question, Garrett said it was too early to know whether the chamber would be making political endorsements and if so, whether it would endorse Bates, though Garrett said he works closely with the mayor to make sure the chamber voice is heard in the decision-making process. 

 

Other questions addressed 

Economic development was a key component of Bates’ talk. Speaking of business attraction, he said the city should take advantage of the $500 million UC Berkeley-BP partnership, which would create other opportunities in the city. 

“I know BP is controversial,” he said. “We have to capitalize on it.” 

Reached by phone for comment, Councilmember Dona Spring took exception to the remark. “He’s a laissez-faire capitalist,” Spring said of the mayor, noting BP’s “terrible environmental record.  

And, she said, “There’re a lot of problems with biofuels,” notably use of produce for fuel rather than for food. 

With pride, Bates told the Chamber: “Good old flaky Berzerkeley has the highest bond rating in the nation.” He thanked City Manager Phil Kamlarz, seated in the audience, and said, “I’m trying to get him to agree to a lifetime contract.”  

Any salary increase under consideration for a new contract for Kamlarz has been kept behind closed doors, with a council subcommittee reviewing the manager’s job performance. City insiders say a new contract could lead to a hefty raise for the manager. City employee unions, on the other hand, have said they’re looking at city reserves—to which the bond rating is tied—as funding for worker raises. 

Bates said the closure of downtown Ross Dress for Less shouldn’t be seen as a loss for the city, as it could be a “great opportunity.”  

“That is the perfect site for a high-rise building,” Bates said. He also mentioned the possibility of turning the long-empty UC Theater into a live-music venue. 

The best-performing sector is hospitality, Bates said, noting there is increasing revenue from hotel taxes and the mostly booked-up Double Tree Hotel, where the luncheon was held.


Emeryville, El Cerrito Say No To Apple Moth Spray Plan

By Judith Scherr
Friday March 21, 2008

Berkeley May Sue State of California 

 

A movement among cities to challenge the state Department of Food and Agriculture plan to spray the Bay Area in an effort to eradicate the light brown apple moth (LBAM) is mushrooming, with Emeryville and El Cerrito joining the fight this week and with a possible lawsuit spearheaded by the city of Berkeley, proposed by Acting City Attorney Zach Cowan. 

Meanwhile, a state scientist and UC scientist have begun a war of words, publishing dueling opinions on the spray question. 

On Monday and Tuesday, respectively, the El Cerrito and Emeryville city councils joined Berkeley, Albany and Oakland in their opposition to the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) plan to spray the Bay Area in August. City attorneys in these cities have been authorized by their city councils to discuss legal options among themselves to stop the spray. 

The city attorney has placed an item on Tuesday’s City Council agenda asking the body “to file a lawsuit to enjoin aerial spraying to eradicate the Light Brown Apple Moth in the Bay Area….” Cowan told the Planet he has had conversations on the question with Oakland’s city attorney. 

In Marin County, the cities of Fairfax, Mill Valley, Corte Madera and San Anselmo have taken positions opposing the spray, but to date are not considering legal options. Sausalito will vote next week on the question of opposing the spray. 

At issue is the aerial spraying of a product whose main ingredient is a synthetic pheromone, designed to confuse male LBAMs in search of females, interrupt the reproductive cycle and eventually eradicate the non-native pest. The product, CheckMate, contains other chemicals—both known and undisclosed—that have caused concern. Moreover, in order to spray the pheromone, CheckMate is contained within microcapsules that critics say can be ingested and cause respiratory problems. 

After CDFA sprayed CheckMate over Monterey and Santa Cruz counties in September, more than 600 people reported adverse health impacts, such as nausea, vomiting and itchy skin. The CDFA plans to spray these counties again in June. Santa Cruz County has a lawsuit pending in an attempt to stop the spray. 

The state says spraying is necessary to avoid future massive crop damage—to date none has been reported—and to avoid restrictions being placed on California’s produce and cut flower sales to other states and countries. 

Speaking to the Planet Wednesday, Emeryville Mayor Ken Bukowski said he became especially concerned about the aerial spray plan when the Alameda County Conference of Mayors heard a speaker from the Water Resources Board, who said the spray could further pollute the San Francisco Bay. 

Bukowski said he plans to bring a resolution opposing the spray to the next mayors’ meeting in April. 

The controversy further heated up this week when Primary State Entomologist Kevin Hoffman issued a report contradicting a study by Daniel Herder, a UC Santa Cruz Adjunct Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and director of the UC Santa Cruz Arboretum, and Jeff Rosendale, horticultural consultant. The study concludes that spraying to eradicate the moth is ineffective and ill advised. 

Hoffman says neither Herder nor Rosendale is an entomologist and they are therefore unqualified to speak on the question.  

He further says that the sources the pair cite were not studies but conversations, and therefore invalid. 

In the March 6 Herder-Rosendale study, “Integrated Pest Management Practices for the Light Brown Apple Moth in New Zealand: Implications for California,” the authors claim that it is not the serious problem that the state has alleged it is, and they point to the case of New Zealand, where the moth has been established for 100 years. 

In New Zealand, “natural predators keep LBAM in check, and it is so rare in the wild that it requires a true expert and meticulous searching to even find any sign of it,” the Herder-Rosendale study says. 

Hoffman, however, told the Planet in a phone interview Tuesday that New Zealand brought in non-native predators to attack the LBAM and that they have become destructive to the environment.  

In a response issued Thursday, however, Herder and Rosendale argue that they were not talking about importing non-native predators to California, but encouraging those native to the state. “A wide variety of potential enemies for control of LBAM are already present in California,” Harder-Rosendale say. 

The question of whether there are natural predators in California that would attack the LBAM is undetermined, Hoffman said, pointing to the case of the gypsy moth, also a non-native pest. “None of the native parasites moved over to [attack] it,” he said. 

Hoffman said the two authors were unable to find the moth in the wild during their trip to New Zealand because they lacked expertise. “Neither of the authors are entomologists, so their assertion that they had great difficulty finding LBAM could just as easily be from their lack of expertise at finding caterpillars as from the assumed lack of LBAM,” he wrote. 

Hoffman argued that the Herder-Rosendale study “displays a lack of understanding about the purpose of classifying LBAM as a regulated pest and the necessity of implementing actions to restrict its movement.” 

And, Hoffman said, the “financial and environmental costs associated with implementing those practices … are not addressed in the report.” 

In their response, however, Herder-Rosendale, shot back: “[T]he real costs at issue in CDFA’s current LBAM strategy [are] the costs to human health and the environment of a multi-year or indefinite campaign of regular aerial spraying of populated areas.” 

One more organization to speak out in opposition to the spray is the Organic Certification Trade Association. 

A March 10 statement from the organization says it supports ground applications of pheromones “and other ecologically sound organic integrated pest management approaches … . However, [the organization] does not endorse further aerial applications of pheromones in LBAM eradication efforts due to potential human health and environmental concerns.”


Hodge Fails to Qualify for Run Against Nadel for Oakland Council

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Friday March 21, 2008

One of the most highly anticipated Oakland election battles in years may have been knocked off the ballot when veteran District 3 Oakland School Board member Greg Hodge came up one qualifying signature short to run in the June 3 race for Oakland City Council.  

The West Oakland/Downtown District 3 seat is held by longtime Councilmember Nancy Nadel, who is running for re-election. The boundaries for the school board and city council districts are identical.  

If the ruling stands, it will leave Nadel’s only challenger as political newcomer Sean Sullivan, development director of the Oakland branch of Covenant House. 

Saying that he was “not going to take this lying down,” Hodge said by telephone this week that he intends to challenge the City Clerk’s ruling in Superior Court. That is apparently the only avenue of appeal, since the Oakland City Council has no say in the matter.  

Assistant Oakland city clerk Marjo Keller, who made the final determination on the petition validation, said that “the only way I would be able to put him on the ballot is if I were ordered to do so by the court.” 

Meanwhile, Hodge’s “Hodge For Oakland City Council 2008” website remained online as of Wednesday afternoon. 

The determination that Hodge came one signature shy of the 50 needed to qualify for the ballot was made by Keller after the Alameda County registrar of voters had reversed an initial disqualification decision and had deemed Hodge’s petition signatures sufficient to qualify him for the ballot, and almost a week of back and forth deliberations. Hodge said that 74 signatures were turned in by his campaign. 

If Hodge chooses to challenge the disqualification ruling, he said it will be in part because the city clerk’s office initially sent him a certified letter indicating that he had submitted enough verified signatures to qualify for the ballot. 

The letter, sent to Hodge by Keller by certified mail on March 12, reads, “Please accept this letter as notification that the nomination signatures you submitted for upcoming June 3, 2008 City of Oakland Municipal Nominating Election [for City Council District 3] have been verified and found sufficient.” 

By telephone, Keller said that she sent the letter to Hodge after the Alameda County registrar’s office had reversed an initial ruling to disqualify Hodge, but before Keller could review the petitions herself. Keller said that in her review of Hodge’s petitions after they were returned to her from the registrar’s office, she found enough discrepancies in the signatures herself to drop the number down to 49, keeping Hodge off the ballot. 

In separate telephone interviews, both Hodge and Keller generally agreed upon the sequence of events that led to the disqualification. Hodge’s petition was initially sent to the registrar’s office for signature verification, as is the procedure for all Oakland city and school board candidates. It was following this initial review that Hodge said he received a call from Keller saying he was three valid signatures short of the required 50. 

After Hodge raised a protest, Keller said that she offered to set up a meeting between herself, Hodge, and the registrar’s office to go over the contested signatures, but said that Hodge “went independently to the county and met with them separately.” 

Following their second review of Hodge’s petitions, Keller said that the registrar’s office informed both Hodge and Keller that they had reversed their ruling on enough signatures that Hodge was now qualified for the ballot. It was based upon this information, Keller said, that she sent the March 12 certified letter to Hodge. 

Keller said that when she received the validated petition from the registrar’s office, “there were questions raised by individuals about other signatures.” She said she did not know the names of the individuals, only indicating that they were not City of Oakland employees, and saying that the conversation in which the individuals raised the questions with her took place at the front counter of the city clerk’s office at City Hall. 

“The petition is a public document,” Keller said. “Anyone has the right to look at it.” 

Keller did not go into details in a telephone interview about the nature of the disqualifications, only saying that “there were some discrepancies.” 

Hodge himself would not go into much detail about the invalidations, saying that there were some signatures that were properly invalidated because they were signed by voters who lived outside of District 3, but that enough signatures that got him disqualified for the ballot were District 3 registered voters who were invalidated “because of hypertechnical application of the election code.” Hodge said that the city clerk’s office “has the discretion to make the call to validate those signatures.”  

Hodge said he would not go into further detail on the particular invalidations, saying he would rather have that decided in the courts than in the press. 

The spokesperson for the registrar’s office would not comment on the disqualification, referring all questions back to the city clerk’s office. 

Nadel had only a brief comment to make on Hodge’s disqualification, writing by e-mail the following statement: “I have great respect for those people who take the step to do public service by running for office. Campaigning is difficult and complicated with a myriad of rules to follow that can be daunting.” The councilmember referred any other questions to Hodge and the city clerk’s office. 

Nadel has served on City Council since 1996. Hodge first won the District 3 School Board seat in 2000 in a runoff. Both initially filed to run for mayor of Oakland in 2006, but Hodge dropped out after former Congressmember Ron Dellums entered the race. Nadel stayed in the mayoral race, eventually coming in third to Dellums and second-place finisher Councilmember Ignacio De La Fuente. 

If Hodge is unsuccessful in his attempt to overturn the city clerk’s decision, it would be the third time in the last nine years that a veteran Oakland-based candidate has been disqualified from the ballot for coming up short on valid petition signatures. 

In December 1999, after serving two terms as mayor of Oakland and then losing to Audie Bock in an attempt to return to his 16th Assembly District seat, Elihu Harris came up six signatures shy of the 40 valid signatures needed to qualify for the March 2000 Democratic primary for that assembly seat. Wilma Chan was nominated in that primary, and eventually went on to defeat Green Party member Bock in the November, 2000 election. The disqualification ended Harris’ long political career, and he was later named and remains Chancellor of the Peralta Community College District. 

And in the fall of 2000, Ward 2 AC Transit Director Clinton Killian was 15 short of the required 50 signatures on his nominating petition. Killian, an attorney, challenged the Alameda County registrar of voters’ decision to the Superior Court, but a judge ruled against him. Killian was named to the AC Transit board in 1994 to fill an unexpired term, and was later elected to a four year term in 1996. Greg Harper, who currently sits on the AC Transit board, defeated Joyce Roy in November, 2000 to replace Killian.  

Killian is now one of several candidates for the Oakland City Council At Large seat in the June 3 election to replace longtime incumbent Henry Chang, who took out nominating papers, but then decided not to run for re-election. 


Ten Students Arrested at UC Regents Meeting Protest

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Friday March 21, 2008

San Francisco police arrested ten UC students who chained themselves to the doors of the UCSF Mission Bay community center Wednesday morning in an attempt to prevent the UC Board of Regents from meeting. 

About 100 students from five UC campuses rallied against the undemocratic way regents are selected at “Free the UC Day,” organized by the Coalition to Free the UC, Students Against War, and Direct Action to Stop the War. 

The students also spoke against fee hikes, UC’s involvement in nuclear weapons and what they said was the Scholastic Aptitude Test’s role in excluding under-represented minorities from the UC system. 

Protesters arrived at the Mission Bay campus at 6 a.m., some driving from Santa Cruz and Davis. Thirteen students looped bicycle locks around their necks and clamped them to doorknobs. 

“Nobody stopped us at first,” said Keith Brown, a second-year geography major at UC Berkeley. “Around 7 a.m., the police started to take people out. They used power tools while people were still chained on the doors. Eventually they took out the doorknobs.” 

Police and firefighters had to dismantle doors to take down the locks, a UC police officer said.  

Calls to the San Francisco Police Department to confirm the arrests were not returned by press time. 

The group also appealed to the regents to come out and be part of an “Alternative Regents Meeting.” 

“We wanted to show the regents how to hold a meeting,” Brown said. “But they didn’t join us.” 

About 20 students spoke at the regents’ meeting during public comment. 

“I told the regents that I had withdrawn all cooperation with the University of California until they stopped production of nuclear weapons,” said Pancho Ramos, a fourth-year Ph.D. student. 

“I don’t want to receive a title from an institution which is putting at risk our survival. I am not against science, but I am against the unethical application of science. Clearly, the university’s ethical prestige has been used to build nuclear weapons and atomic bombs ... It is the most unethical thing to do. We want to take part in the decision of the university. We don’t want to be used.” 

Free the UC member and UC Berkeley peace and conflict studies student Matthew Taylor criticized what he said was the regent’s lack of response to complaints against UC’s involvement in nuclear weapons. 

“For over 50 years, students, faculty, and community members have tried to persuade the regents to stop building nuclear weapons,” he told the Planet. 

“We’ve used normal means such as petitions. At one point, student governments from every UC campus passed a resolution asking the regents to sever ties from the nuclear weapons labs, to no avail. The regents’ lack of response has left us little choice but to escalate our dissent. We believe that the regents should be prevented from meeting and conducting the business of managing the nuclear weapons lab.” 

Taylor—one of the ten students arrested—added that Free the UC wanted to start a mass movement to empower students and raise awareness about the need for fundamental, structural change in UC. 

Students also spoke before the regents against rising tuition costs. 

“Some students have to work multiple jobs to sustain themselves,” UC Berkeley sophomore Monika Roy told the Planet. “I think that we are paying a lot of money for public education ... Those who cannot afford to pay are usually minorities or from ethnic backgrounds. In comparison, Stanford University recently announced that it would eliminate tuition for students whose families make less than $100,000 per year.”  

Students also asked the regents to release the skeletal remains of 13,000 Native Americans held in UC Berkeley’s Phoebe Hearst Museum of Anthropology. 

“People were speaking from their hearts, but I think they went unheard,” said Maya Kelmelis, a UC Berkeley senior who listened to the public comments. “One or two of the regents were taking notes, but the majority were not listening. Some were talking and laughing with each other. There was no dialogue or discussion.” 

Zachary RunningWolf—who was also protesting against UC Berkeley’s plan to raze the Oak Grove and build a student athletic center in its place—spoke at the students’ alternate meeting. 

“They are making stands that help indigenous issues,” he said of the students. “We want to keep our ancestors in the Oak Grove, we want the 13,000 bones back from the Hearst museum, and we want to stop the corporatization of UC. These kids have a very good sense of direction. They are attracting a lot of attention.”  

Taylor told the Planet that the arrested students were charged with disturbing the peace and other misdemeanors and cited and released later the same day. 

 

 


AC Transit Sets Fare Increase Hearing for May 21

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Friday March 21, 2008

The embattled AC Transit District is considering its fifth fare change in the last 13 years, with a possible increase in adult fares of as much as 25 cents and increases to the youth and senior passes coming as early as this summer.  

AC Transit adult fares are currently set at $1.75. A public hearing on the proposed increase has been set for Wednesday, May 21, 4 p.m., at a location yet to be determined. 

District board members are looking at several different fare increase proposals, some of which would include automatic, regular bus increases in future years. In the past, the district has always considered fare raises on an increase by increase basis. 

Meanwhile, with district operating expenses rising at four times the rate of revenues since 2005, at least one AC Transit board member—Greg Harper of Emeryville—also said last week that bus service cuts are also “inevitable.” 

In recent months, AC Transit has come under heavy criticism from riders and bus drivers over its increasing use of the Belgian-made Van Hool buses. In addition, the district has been the subject of several recent critical articles in both the Berkeley Daily Planet and the East Bay Express.  

The two-county transit district is also fighting to implement a controversial and ambitious plan to put bus-only lanes, a system known as Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), along International Boulevard and Telegraph Avenue between Southland, or Bayfair BART, and UC Berkeley. 

 

 

 


Progressive Campus Ministry Offers Housing to UC Students

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Friday March 21, 2008

The city’s Zoning Adjustments Board (ZAB) unanimously approved last week the demolition of the 83-year-old building housing the Wesley Foundation Student Center on Bancroft Way to construct a four-story mixed-use structure with a religious assembly space, a library, six residential units and group-living space. 

The project will create a 22,200-square-foot floor area on a 7,975-square-foot lot. 

An offshoot of the United Methodist Church, the student center at 2398 Bancroft Way is a progressive campus ministry for students of all faith. The center’s executive director Rev. Tarah Trueblood told zoning commissioners that the ministry had suffered a decline in revenue over the last decade. 

“The ’50s and ’60s used to be the center’s golden years,” she said. “At one point we were also known as the Wesley dating service. But many campus foundations all over the country saw fewer and fewer students in the ’90s, including us. One way to attract more students would be to give our ministry a new look. The current building is not worth saving ... We want to let it out for housing.” 

The new development project promises “European Suites”—hybrid dorm apartments—for a “perfect blend of personal space and community living.”  

When it opens in 2009, Wesley House will offer housing to 80 UC Berkeley students and have a first-floor campus ministry called the Wesley Student Center. 

“We help students figure out what they want to do with their life and who they want to do it with,” said Rev. Trueblood. “With the opening of Wesley House, our ministry will add a new dimension: fostering intentionality of community life in and among clusters of residents above.” 

The student center will also feature a multi-purpose room, student nook, exhibit space and a country-style kitchen opening to the historical Wesley-Trinity Church courtyard, which boasts a heritage coastal oak tree. 

The fourth-floor community library will overlook the courtyard and an open-air student terrace on the third floor. 

“This was an opportunity to utilize an underutilized plot of land with a single-story building to help students who are in their formative stage,” said Vince Wong, president of the Wesley Foundation Board of Directors. 

Wesley’s neighbors—including The Berkeley City Club, the Trinity United Methodist Church and Stiles Hall—supported the project. 

Developers Ali Kashani and former Landmarks Preservation Commissioner Aran Kaufer created Wesley’s proposed design. 

Prior to founding the real estate development firm Bright Street Development, Kaufer was a project manager for Berkeley developer Patrick Kennedy’s firm Panoramic Interests. He also served as a project manager for the American Baptist Seminary of the West’s mixed-use housing project, which is near the Wesley Foundation. 

Initially, the developers had requested the zoning board to approve a permit for seven variances related to lot coverage, parking and setbacks based simply on group living. 

“They were very unlikely to get seven variances with only group living,” the city’s project planner Aaron Sage told the Planet. “I asked the developers to change the project into a dwelling unit so that they could get a density bonus. The density bonus gives the city a greater chance to approve the variances.” 

The state’s density bonus law allows the city to modify or waive development standards and limits to accommodate density bonus. 

Project architects Kirk Peterson & Associates have also designed the Gaia and Bachenheimer buildings in downtown Berkeley. 

According to Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association member Steve Finacom, the center was one of the early centers of gay and lesbian student activism in Berkeley. 

“Although San Francisco has always been the regional center of gay and lesbian activism and culture, a smaller but still vigorous gay rights movement emerged in the East Bay and on the Berkeley campus during the 1960s, in parallel with other local rights movements,” he told the city’s landmarks commission at a recent meeting.  

“Historical evidence suggests that 2398 Bancroft was quite possibly the very first space where gay students felt it was safe to gather publicly. There are scattered references in historical materials to events such as dances and meetings taking place here and to early gay student groups having offices and a telephone line at this location.” 

Finacom added that this period in Berkeley’s history deserved a properly documented place in community history


Future Uses for BHS Old Gym Discussed

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Friday March 21, 2008

Friends Protecting Berkeley’s Resources—the local group which sued the Berkeley Unified School District for an inadequate environmental impact report on the demolition of the gymnasium and warm-water pool within its Berkeley High School South of Bancroft Master Plan area—met with school district officials and community members Saturday to discuss the adaptive reuse of the Berkeley High Old Gym and the warm-water pool to settle the lawsuit. 

The lawsuit charged that the district had failed to consider feasible alternatives to demolition that could be developed to meet all or most of the district’s objectives and that the EIR “did not justify its findings.”  

Both the district and the Friends group agreed on a charrette the results or which will be presented before the Berkeley Board of Education during a public hearing on April 9. 

School Board President John Selawsky told the Planet that the settlement meant the district could now move ahead with deciding the future of the Old Gym. He said he had not been invited to the charette. 

“My idea is that the meeting was limited to a certain number of participants,” he said. “School board members were not present. District Superintendent Bill Huyett will give us an update Friday.” 

Marie Bowman, a spokesperson for Friends Protecting Berkeley’s resources, told the Planet that participants had discussed adapting the gym to meet the school’s academic and physical education needs as identified in the Berkeley High School South of Bancroft Master Plan. 

The district’s South of Bancroft Master Plan calls for the demolition of the landmarked Old Gym to make room for new classroom facilities, with the option of relocating the warm-water pool to Milvia Street.  

Berkeley High is facing a severe space crunch, with teachers holding classes in portables at Washington Elementary School and on the steps of the Community Theatre.  

The city is looking at ways to develop the tennis courts on Milvia Street into a warm pool but has yet to come to an agreement with the school district about its use.  

Plans to put a $15 million bond measure to construct the new pool on the November ballot are being discussed. 

“The good news is that we could accommodate everything in the building,” Bowman said. “The environmental impact report talks about building 10 to 15 classrooms to meet the academic needs of the school district. The warm-water-pool users wanted to have 14,000 square feet for the pool. The building also has to meet certain legal requirements. All that stuff fits in there plus there was room left over.” 

The Berkeley High School campus, including the Old Gym, was named a city landmark last year and a national landmark in January.  

Designed by renowned Bay Area architects William C. Hays and Walter H. Ratcliff, Jr., the warm-water pool and the gymnasium represent early seismic engineering work and are rare examples of an early 20th-century high school gymnasium. 

“The district wasn’t aware of the fact that since the building is now a national landmark, federal, state and private foundation funds are available for restoring the Old Gym,” said Bowman, who worked on the national landmark application. “FEMA funds are also available for rebuilding the gym after a natural disaster. Berkeley voters approved Measure G in 2006, promoting green and sustainable use of public assets. Rehabilitation and reuse is by far the better environmental alternatives for the gym versus the wasteful plan to demolish and rebuild. Our public officials have an obligation to implement sustainable practices in accordance with the will of the voters.” 

District officials told the Planet that the district was not legally obligated to consider the outcome of the charette.  

One Warm Pool Advocacy Group Co-Chair JoAnn Cook told the Planet that she was skeptical about adaptive reuse of the Old Gym. 

“There’s a difference of opinion within our group on what effect this charette will have because it’s not legally binding,” she said. “We are split between getting a bond measure passed for a new pool and maintaining the current pool. I think the possibility of ending up with a pool is more likely with a bond. But keep in mind that a bond is very iffy, especially with the economic situation right now.” 

Bruce Wicinas, a member of the district’s Citizens’ Construction Advisory Committee, said that the charette had made him change his mind about the demolition. 

“I was on the same page as the district on that, but the truth is that Berkeley Unified no longer has enough money to build classrooms in place of the Old Gym,” he said. “Also I wasn’t aware that people in the community cared so much about the Old Gym. It would be nicer for students to have more space, but given the uncertainty of the bond measure and the district’s lack of funds there’s no need to be at a rush to demolish the building.” 

The school district recently hired ELS Architects to redesign the bleachers outside the track on Martin Luther King Jr. Way this summer and create a timeline for the demolition of the Old Gym.  

Selawsky told the Planet that the demolition of the gym was not scheduled till 2010.


Stadium Lawsuit Arguments Finish

By Richard Brenneman
Friday March 21, 2008

Lawyers for both sides in the legal battle over UC Berkeley’s Memorial Stadium projects got in their last licks in a Hayward courtroom Thursday afternoon. 

At issue is the legal challenge mounted by the city of Berkeley, neighbors and environmentalists over the approval by UC’s Board of Regents of projects in the southeast quadrant of the Berkeley campus. 

The most immediate concern—and the focus of legal arguments Thursday—was the question of whether a planned high-tech gym adjacent to the stadium’s western wall is a separate structure or a stadium addition. 

If Alameda County Superior Court Judge Barbara J. Miller determines that the Student Athlete High Performance Center is an addition to the landmarked stadium, it would trigger strict limits on the university’s expenditures on the project and on refurbishing the stadium itself. 

To build the Student Athlete High Performance Center, the university would have to ax the grove of trees west of the stadium, plans that sparked the ongoing tree-sit which is now in its 16th month and has led to dozens of arrests and a double layer of fencing around the site. 

After hearing final arguments Thursday, Judge Miller promised only that she would issue her ruling within the next 90 days.


Alta Bates, Herrick Nurses Stage Walkout

By Richard Brenneman
Friday March 21, 2008

Registered nurses at Berkeley’s Alta Bates Summit and Herrick Hospitals are walking out this morning (Friday) for a 10-day strike against the Sutter hospital chain. 

It’s the third walkout called by the California Nurses Association (CNA) since contract talks stalled with the Sutter hospitals, which negotiate contracts individually for each hospital or group. 

Alta Bates Summit includes the Berkeley hospital on Ashby Avenue, the Summit Medical Center in Oakland and Herrick Hospital. 

CNA has called two previous job actions at the local hospitals, one for two days in October and the second three years ago, a one-day action. 

In both cases Sutter locked out the nurses following the actions, extending their absence to five days—a move the hospitals said was needed to attract replacements. 

While the first walkout was supported by members of the Service Employees International Union, the two unions have since fallen out, most recently over rival organizing activities in Ohio. 

In California, CNA represents Registered Nurses, while the SEIU, as United Healthcare Workers West, represents Licensed Vocational Nurses and other hospital employees. RNs require a higher level of training than LVNs. 

A total of 4,000 RNs will walk out at Sutter’s Bay Area hospitals, starting at 7 a.m. today. 

Other hospitals affected include Sutter Delta Medical Center in Antioch, Miller-Peninsula Health Services in Burlingame and San Mateo, Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley, San Leandro Hospital, St. Luke’s Hospital and California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco and Sutter Solano Medical Center in Vallejo. 

San Francisco-based HealthSource and Colorado-based U.S. Nursing—agencies that specialize in hiring strike replacements—have both recruited nurses to fill in for striking Sutter workers. 

U.S. Nursing was offering $48 to $60 an hour for RNs, depending on speciality, with a guarantee of 84 hours of work, or a minimum of $2,880 per nurse if the strike is settled after they arrive but before they start work. 

All travel and housing expenses would also be paid. 

In one of the more unusual press releases issued over a labor conflict, Sutter blasted the union for “Promoting a ‘Party Like’ Atmosphere During the 10-Day Strike.” 

Apparently believing that strikes should be somber events, Sutter reprinted a union schedule that stated that family-oriented events would be held every day during the walkout, including face-painting, arts and crafts and a noon barbecue. 

However, Sutter’s hiring sources offer promises of their own, with HealthSource, however, noting in its call for replacements, “typically, you are housed in luxury hotels with all amenities available.”


Fire Department Log

By Richard Brenneman
Friday March 21, 2008

New responders  

Berkeley firefighters have recruited a whole new crop of emergency first responders, said Deputy Chief Gil Dong. 

They’re the 200-plus UC Berkeley residents of fraternities, sororities and co-ops who will receive training under a new program formally launched this week with funding from the Department of Homeland Security. 

The $18,000 grant enabled the department to assemble six emergency equipment caches to be kept in the off-campus housing for use in major disasters, said the deputy chief. 

In addition to the caches—which include gear ranging from hard hats and shovels to emergency generators and power cords—the program will also provide training in a variety of formats. 

“We’ve teamed up with the American Red Cross to offer training online and through podcasts, and we’ll also come and offer the training in person if they give us a call,” said Dong. 

Under terms of the agreement with UC Berkeley, 10 percent of the students in the designated off-campus housing will be required to take the training, and Dong said the innovative Berkeley program—the nation’s first—may soon be replicated across the country. 

“I attended a meeting of the National Association of Fraternity Advisers in Cincinnati, and I was told they felt they needed to duplicate the program in each chapter across the country,” he said. 

For Berkeley emergency workers, the promise of an extra crew of first responders could make a critical difference in the event of a major disaster—a good thing, Dong said, especially in light of this year’s 140th anniversary of the disastrous 1868 earthquake on the Hayward Fault. 

 

Jaws rescue 

Berkeley firefighters used the Jaws of Life to extract a man injured in a two-car accident Saturday at the intersection of Ashby Avenue and Ellis Street. 

The accident happened when a passenger car broadsided a pickup, trapping the driver of the truck inside his vehicle. 

After extraction, the injured man was rushed to the Highland Hospital emergency room for treatment of his injuries.


News Analysis: Up 420 Points! Down 293 Points! Up 261 Points! Down...?

By Richard Hylton
Friday March 21, 2008

It’s called the stock market, and that’s what the past few days have been like on Wall Street. Go easy on yourself if you have no idea what is going on and who is responsible for it. Sure, you’ve heard lots of people talking about “market meltdown” and “major banking crisis,” but how did we get to a worldwide financial crisis so quickly? It seems like only yesterday that Berkeley’s 1920s shingle houses were flying off brokers’ shelves for a paltry million each. And sure, a lot of people got mortgages that they couldn’t really afford. But the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression? 

A few clarifying points: First, the crisis in mortgages is not nearly over and it is not only the so-called “sub-prime” sector of mortgages that is tallying up increases in late payments, missed payments, and foreclosures. Many well-off folks also bit off more than they can chew. Second, we are no longer facing “just” a mortgage crisis: The value of many securities in institutional portfolios all over the world is now suspect. The MIT math whizzes on Wall Street have sliced and diced all kinds of assets and liabilities and then repackaged them as securities with clever-sounding acronyms. These securities have been sold to banks, pension funds, money-market funds, hedge funds, and governments all over the world. Now that many of these securities seem to be far riskier and far less valuable than represented, every financial institution is seen as vulnerable. Result: No one wants to lend any money to anyone else. For all they know, that other guy might already be insolvent.  

If there is a single individual and a single institution that should take the lion’s share of blame for this mess they are Alan Greenspan and the Federal Reserve Bank. A central function of the Fed is to regulate the terms on which credit is extended in our economy. That means the Fed should have stepped in sooner to curb the reckless underwriting standards and crazy-quilt loan terms that banks were using to rake in enormous fees. But it didn’t. Neither did the comptroller of the currency, another regulator whose job is to make sure that banks are stashing away enough capital for economic dark days. These and other federal regulators, especially the Securities and Exchange Commission, Wall Street’s regulator, sat idly by for years as too much cheap capital was creating unsustainable booms in asset prices and the amount of debt throughout the financial system had risen to code-red levels.  

Only three days before the Federal Reserve felt compelled to bail out Bear, Stearns & Co., the failed Wall Street investment house, or face the possibility of collapsing banks and investors throughout the economy, Christopher Cox, chairman of the SEC, assured reporters that his team was on top of it and they had full confidence in Wall Street. He assured reporters that the SEC was monitoring Wall Street firms’ capital position on a “constant” basis. 

“We have a good deal of comfort about the capital cushions at these firms at the moment,” Cox said. Three days later the Federal Reserve agreed to buy $30 billion of the worst securities on Bear Stearns books and arranged a shotgun wedding between J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. and Bear Stearns. If it hadn’t, Bear Stearns would have gone down in ruins in a bankruptcy filing. 

The SEC was asleep at the wheel, but Greenspan was the main apologist for Wall Street and the banking system. He repeatedly assured Congress and the public that allowing the markets to do whatever they wanted to do was fine because an unfettered market was undoubtedly more efficient than one that had the regulators peering over its shoulder—despite the fact that history, and the Fed charter, strongly support the belief that left on their own, banks and investment houses will drive themselves and the rest of us off any precipice that promises great fortune. Does anyone remember the S&L crisis? Talk about deja vu all over again. 

Don’t expect the financial markets to settle out anytime soon. Institutions all over the world have still not recognized that they have billions in losses. Their books are still inflated by Wall Street securities that may be worth only 50 or 60 percent of what they paid. Folks with adjustable rate mortgages are still seeing their payments rising. Vast amounts of debt and hidden risks in derivative securities still loom over financial companies. And corporate pension funds are still egregiously underfunded by the companies that promised their workers secure retirement plans. 

There are a few things you can count on, though: First, more taxpayer money will be used to bail out the reckless investors, banks and financial houses, without securing any benefits for the taxpayers. And when this crisis is all over and the buying and selling and slicing and dicing begins again, Wall Street and the banks will begin whining that too much regulation is what’s wrong with America.


Council Sets Key Vote on Downtown Plan

By Richard Brenneman
Friday March 21, 2008

With an economy in partial meltdown and three in five Americans predicting a severe depression of several years’ duration, what can any economic expert predict about the likelihood of new construction in downtown Berkeley? 

Yet the Berkeley City Council will vote Tuesday night on whether to spend $40,000 on just that, overriding the express wishes of the majority of members of citizens who drew up the proposed new downtown plan. 

The resulting vote could forecast the fate of the most hotly contested provisions of the new plan that result from two years of hard work by a panel of Berkeley citizens. 

The latest round in the blood sport that is Berkeley development politics unfolds at the same time city officials are pushing for West Berkeley zoning changes designed to lure corporate genetic engineers trying to cash in on the half-billion-dollar BP-funded synthetic fuel bonanza Mayor Tom Bates hopes will flow from UC Berkeley’s academic labs. 

The downtown plan itself is a joint city-university effort to find the most palatable way to accommodate 800,000 square feet of new off-campus university construction in the city center, and the university will have a final say over the plan. 

The Downtown Area Plan Advisory Committee (DAPAC) was created after the university settled a city lawsuit challenging the way the university treated the impacts of its massive expansion plans on the surrounding community. 

DAPAC was charged with drafting a plan to handle UC Berkeley developments in the downtown, while drawing up policies to update the last downtown plan, done more than a decade earlier and covering a smaller territory. 

While a minority of DAPAC members wanted to approved a staff-backed plan to build 16-story “point towers” in the city center, the majority specifically rejected the notion as well as a minority proposal backed by chair Will Travis to do an economic analysis to see if the plan could cover costs of proposed improvements without throwing in the rejected high-rises. 

For the majority, opposition to point towers was the overriding concern. 

Planning Commission Chair James Samuels, a member of the DAPAC minority, joined a Planning Commission majority in recommending that the City Council go ahead with the study, and endorsing the request by city Planning and Development Director Dan Marks for $40,000 to complete the study which faces the council Tuesday night. 

For Juliet Lamont, who served as a pivotal player in the DAPAC majority, attempting a study of economic feasibility in the face of the nation’s current economic turmoil is a waste of money. 

“Conditions were different five years ago, just as they were different three years ago, and as they are different today,” she said. “They’re simply impossible to predict.” 

But some of the plan’s proposed benefits, such as mandatory green, energy-saving designs, will almost certainly become requirements in the near future, as the nation grapples with high energy us and the need to reduce greenhouse gasses, Lamont said. 

And there’s no doubt the nation faces turbulent times ahead, with 59 percent of Americans believing the nation is entering a multi-year depression. 

Even Alan Greenspan, the former chair of the Federal Reserve and a champion of the Ayn Rand school of libertarian economics, says the nation is facing the worst economic crisis since the end of World War II. 

A host of economic indicators pointed to a prolonged economic crisis. 

With the bursting of the housing bubble and the collapse of sub-prime lenders that fueled, it followed by the collapse of a major investment house—Bear Sterns—prices of precious metals soar and the investment world quivers with uncertainty. 

• The rate of commencement of new housing projects dropped in February to the lowest rate since 1991. 

• The National Association of Homebuilders reported Monday that builder confidence for new single-family homes was at 20 out of 100, “near its historic low of 18 set in December of 1985.” 

• American Institute of Architects Chief Economist Kermit Baker reported on Feb. 22 that designer firms had reported “another decline in billings in January as concerns over a slower economy appear finally to be affecting the nonresidential construction sector.” Commercial/industrial architects “reported the steepest decline over the past several months,” he wrote, noting that “this could be a clear indication that there could be tougher times ahead.” 

• Construction materials costs have also soared in recent years, while the jobs picture has darkened and food costs are entering a cycle of hyperinflation, spurred in part by the demand for ethanol and in part by rapidly inflating costs of fertilizers—derived from natural gas—and pesticides. 

Given the uncertainty and volatility of the economy, “how accurate will any feasibility study be at this time?” asked Jesse Arreguin, a DAPAC member. “This is just a way of sneaking in taller buildings against the wishes of the DAPAC majority.” 

While the DAPAC-drafted plan will go to the City Council, it will be accompanied by a set of proposed revisions drawn up by the Planning Commission and city staff. 

Travis, who like Lamont was appointed to DAPAC by the mayor, said the study could provide a quick answer to one question that concerned the committee minority, the feasibility of building within the plan’s height limits. 

The central tension dominating DAPAC’s two-year effort to create the new plan centered on the character of new construction in downtown Berkeley. The university’s massive building boom was taken as a given, leaving the question of just how much private developers should be allowed to build, and what existing buildings should be spared the wrecking ball. 

Matt Taecker, the planner hired with the help of UC funds to guide the planning process, has insisted he wasn’t pushing the point towers, but he kept returning with the proposal, despite repeated rebuffs by the committee majority—and they came right back when the plan was handed over to the Planning Commission. 

The plan approved by DAPAC would keep most downtown buildings at 85 feet, while allowing four at 100 feet, four more at 120 and two high-rise hotels which could rise 100 feet higher. One of the hotels is already in the planning stages, to be sited at the northeast corner of the Shattuck Avenue/Center Street intersection. 

The second would be an expansion of the existing Shattuck Hotel a block to the south. 

Travis said the real issue is whether or not the limits included in the DAPAC plan would allow any actual construction to occur. 

While the existing five-story limit allows for reasonable construction costs, adding another story or two to reach the 85-foot limit necessitates a change to the more expensive metal frame construction, and only significantly higher structures would be likely to justify the actual construction costs, high-rise proponents have argued. 

“If you only get five-story buildings as a result,” Travis said, “you haven’t gained anything.” 

DAPAC majority members point to the seven-year review mandated in their plan, which calls for the height question to be reexamined in light of actual construction resulting from the plan’s initial years. 

The one question remaining is whether a construction-friendly City Council will back the conclusions of its own appointees to DAPAC or will side with the more developer-friendly Planning Commission.


Opinion

Editorials

Editorial: Dreaming About Bringing the Country to the City

By Becky O'Malley
Tuesday March 25, 2008

The black phoebe is back in Santa Cruz. A handsome bird, black on top and white below, check. Found near water, often around houses, southern exposures, check. Sits on top of posts (the umbrella pole), check. Builds nest on vertical surface with shelter above (under the eaves of the studio), check.  

More accurately, phoebes, since it takes two to build the nest and raise the babies, which is why they’re both flying up to the roof with stuff in their mouths today.  

They’ve come back annually for a couple of years at least. Besides being handsome, phoebes eat flies, so they’re doubly welcome. 

If we weren’t here they would probably find another place to settle down, but this human habitat is ideal for phoebes as well as for people. My late mother-in-law, whose studio in the country we’ve inherited, was an artist, so she couldn’t resist improving on nature. Besides building herself a studio from a kit for a prefabricated tin barn, she built a (small) chapel from concrete blocks, complete with a labyrinth (poured concrete), picturesque garden walls and more. The centerpiece is a hand-built Italianate fountain, fed by a well which is in turn fed by the many little creeks that run through the Santa Cruz Mountains, with a cast concrete nymph in the center dribbling water into a pool. It’s perfect for the phoebes, and very pleasant for the people too.  

Watching the phoebes settle comfortably into our built environment in Santa Cruz on Easter, I thought about the show-and-tell session Walter Hood and his sponsors put on last week. Many Berkeleyans are eager to bring a bit of nature back to downtown, and the focus of their Rousseauian fantasies is the many little creeks that used to wander through the Berkeley Hills, just as they still do in the Santa Cruz Mountains. A few are still open, and a few more have been opened up through the efforts of dedicated volunteers in the last few years. 

Creek fanciers seized on the opportunity presented by the University of California’s plans to re-purpose downtown Berkeley to promote the further exploitation of the presence of Strawberry Creek underground somewhere near Center Street. It’s already exposed to good advantage a bit uphill on the UC campus, and also anchors a park much further downhill near Sacramento and Addison. 

Hood, a UC planning faculty member with a string of innovative projects to his credit, was hired by generous creek fans with private means to come up with buildable concepts for the stretch of Center Street that links the campus with Shattuck Street and BART. The fruit of his endeavors so far was showcased at the public event, which brought together nearly anyone and everyone who has displayed an interest in what’s happening to the city’s much maligned downtown. The jury’s still out on whether his ideas will work, but it was a nice party. 

My own plan-reading abilities are considerably below average, so I couldn’t make head nor tail of the 15 or 20 tiny matchstick models he showed us, or even of the pictures posted on the wall or the PowerPoint picture show which preceded the viewing of the models. As I circulated in the crowd, I discovered that I was not the only person with this problem. I did buttonhole a few attendees that I knew to be good writers to say a few words in print about what they got out of the event for the benefit of our readers—those who came through are on these pages today, with perhaps more to come. 

Hood’s talk, however, was lively, the best way for a word person like me to get some idea of what might be offered. What I came away with was a sense of the challenges the site presents, with two potentially looming institutional buildings planned for the north side of the street and a successful but fragile commercial strip on the south side, already occupied, mostly by restaurants. The elements he’s playing with are the usual: water (from the relocated creek, or from EBMUD), paving (permeable, of course, but how much and where), and vegetation (native or domesticated, formal or informal).  

It would have to be a thruway of some kind, but for whom or what? Just pedestrians? Bicycles? Emergency vehicles? Delivery trucks? Path options: straight lines, curves, or zigzags, with arguments for each.  

There seem to be three favored alternatives at this point. The only planting feature I could bring into focus was a grove of Meyer lemon trees in one of them. This looked like an hommage to Berkeley’s current foodie culture, which was represented at the showing by free snacks catered by none other than Alice Waters. Hood mentioned that Waters hopes to run a restaurant in the museum UC plans to build on the site, or perhaps he said that others hope she will.  

I did overhear one of Berkeley’s preeminent native plant and creek advocates remonstrating with him about the lemons: neither native nor natural, and in a monocultural grouping subject to disease. But Alice’s tangerines were divine. There would never be enough sun for tangerines, however.  

Would any of these plans bring phoebes to nest in downtown Berkeley? It doesn’t seem likely.  

The site of the showing was the inner sanctum of the Gaia building, which was originally flogged by some of the same people who sponsored Hood’s design. They promoted the future Gaia with pictures of hanging gardens and promises of a cultural oasis.  

Today’s Gaia reality is much different. The interior “cultural area” where the Hood event was held is a sullen windowless cave with cheap industrial fittings. The building itself is a characterless slab with a few tasteless tschotchkes on its main door, incongruously topped by what looks a lot like a Southern California motel or perhaps a minor Las Vegas casino. 

This is an all too common pattern. An original concept presentation is loaded with attractive amenities, but they fall by the wayside as the realities of budget and time take their toll.  

It’s not at all clear who’s going to pay for any Center Street plaza.  

One very real fear is that the lackeys of the building industry who have been promoting towers all over downtown are using it as part of a bait-and-switch game: you can’t have your amenities unless you take some towers to pay for them with tax revenues. (Never mind the reams of data proving that any kind of increased residential development costs cities more to provide services for new residents than it generates in taxes.) 

Mention was made of some kind of clean water bonds which might pay for opening the creek, but we’d better see the spreadsheets before getting too excited. Still, it doesn’t cost much to dream.  

Phoebes like to be near water, near buildings, to nest on vertical surfaces built by people. All of Walter Hood’s dream landscapes offered these features. It might just work out. Providing flies could be a problem. 

 

 


Editorial: Walking the Walk and Talking the Talk on a Spring Day

By Becky O'Malley
Friday March 21, 2008

It’s the vernal equinox again, sometimes called the first day of spring, and it’s the new year for those whose ancestors lived in places which were part of ancient Persia. That’s always seemed to me to be a better time to celebrate the new year than January, often cold and nasty, even better than the lunar new year as observed by many Asians, when the weather can also be dicey. By March 21 or so, no matter where you live in the northern hemisphere, some birds will be courting and some flowers will be blooming. (Of course in New England, where I lived for two miserable years, it has been known to snow again in May, but never mind.)  

Professor Muscatine in my undergraduate days at Cal delighted in reading the beginning of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales to us in sonorous Middle English:  

 

“Whan that Aprill, with his shoures soote 

The droghte of March hath perced to the roote... 

Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages.”  

 

He’d modestly mock himself for doing this: “Here comes old ‘whan that Aprill’, they’re probably saying!” But he enjoyed it, and we enjoyed it with him. 

April’s not quite here yet, but what with climate change the weather has been Aprillish for a while now, the drought of March already pierced to the root a week early. California’s always odd—narcissi sometimes pop as early as Christmas, and the hummingbirds have been displaying their hormonal fitness since February at least. But the urge to get on the road for humans still starts round about the time of the equinox, to peak in April. Round about now people start making vacation plans, if they’re lucky enough to anticipate getting a vacation.  

And those folks around here who belong to the various sects of the modern religion of peace with justice still long to go on pilgrimages, as some of them did on Wednesday. Five years ago when we were gearing up for the insane enterprise of trying to provide a newspaper for Berkeley and environs we took time out to join the big pilgrimage up Market Street in San Francisco with hundreds of thousands of like-minded protestants around the world.  

It had roughly no effect. To this day well-meaning pols like Hillary Clinton and John Edwards, not to mention less truthful colleagues, claim that they never knew, and how could they have known, no one told them that the whole enterprise was a fraud. We told you and we told you and we told you, folks, but you didn’t listen.  

The number of true believers in the pilgrimage method of opinion change has shrunk, and the mass movement has dissipated. Demonstrations this week were conducted by splinter groups, each with its own script, costumes and agenda. Without a printed program, it’s harder and harder to remember which group is accused of neo-Communism, which one is branded with anti-Zionism (often confused with anti-Semitism), which one is castigated for bourgeois idealism, and who wears pink, orange or red.  

All current pilgrims do seem to shun that blue-state blue as being too, too mainstream. The television networks have enacted a miraculous transformation of public color imagery. In the olden days, 40 years back and more, the leftists were “the Reds,” even “the Red menace” to some. This must confuse young people watching old news footage, because now the Red States are Republican and the Blue States are not. But for old times’ sake contemporary left activists still seem to favor reddish hues.  

Marches, whether mass or boutique in scale, are still a great way to get exercise and fresh air, much better for your health than pecking away on a keyboard at home to forward internet links to the unchurched. But effective? No.  

One reason marches have gotten old is that they were formerly used to get the attention of The Media, and now many committed activists are discovering that it’s much easier just to be the media yourself. Five years ago the Chronicle fired a technology columnist for joining a demonstration. This year if you wanted to know what happened at the demonstrations on Wednesday there were many participants with cameras who just posted themselves on the Internet without benefit of mediation by the shrunken Chronicle or any other medium. Many more with opinions to share are skipping demonstrations altogether and just doing the YouTube thing.  

Barack Obama’s transcendent speech on race this week was arguably the best speech on any topic by an American delivered in the last hundred years, and certainly the best since Franklin Roosevelt’s heyday. The most remarkable thing about it is that Obama seems to have written it himself, something Jack Kennedy never did. Even Roosevelt had a bevy of named speechwriters. And it is being disseminated largely without the press as intermediaries.  

On Thurday Renee Montagne told us on National Public Radio that, “The most popular video on YouTube has no lip-synching Chinese teenagers, no babies falling over, no drunk cats: It’s Barack Obama’s speech on race. So far, the Obama speech has been clicked on 1.6 million times.” 

The official commentators are doing their best to spin his speech, as are the bloggers, but the opportunity for citizens to know exactly was said by watching the event itself is unprecedented. Even in the early days of television, when networks were naive enough to let viewers see conventions in full without a barrage of commercials or talking heads, that wasn’t often possible.  

And thanks to modern communication technology, anyone who’s curious can just pick up a telephone to find out what’s going on anywhere. Yesterday I was wondering what was happening with the Democratic primary in Michigan, where I used to live, and was frustrated by how little I could learn even from the stories tracked on Google News. From a Google search I learned that the daughter of old friends who were the backbone of the Ann Arbor NAACP in the ’60s was now in the Michigan legislature, and that her top aide was someone with whom I’d walked many a picket line. I called the aide (quite a surprise after 40 years), and learned that the legislature was still haggling as of Wednesday, but that they would need a two-thirds vote to put a primary on the ballot, and the votes just didn’t seem to be there, nor the money.  

Of course big-buck backers from out of state might offer to pay for a Michigan primary for reasons of their own, but the legislature would still have to OK it. As of Thursday, the legislators were in the process of adjourning, not to come back into session until too late to schedule a primary. Eventually I’ll read about the outcome somewhere, but I got instant gratification for the price of a phone call. 

Modern technology also makes it possible for small-time operators like the Berkeley Daily Planet to exist in an odd limbo between old and new media, another improvement over the old days. It enables us to choose to let dissident members of the citizenry express themselves at considerable length without mediation, so they don’t necessarily have to stage parades to get attention.  

On lovely spring days like the one we had on Wednesday the idea of going on a march somewhere still appeals, but I’m pretty sure that I’m accomplishing more by staying at my keyboard these days. Nonetheless, talking on the phone to my old Ann Arbor compañera made me mighty nostalgic for that summer’s worth of fragrant Monday evenings when we pushed our babies in strollers and pulled our kids in wagons on a picket line around the Ann Arbor city hall in support of the local fair housing ordinance which, if memory serves, the city council eventually passed.  

Blogging and chatrooms are fine in their place, but not really as satisfying as walking outdoors with friends and talking about the important things in life as you do it. Maybe if peace ever returns we could celebrate by holding a triumphal peace march on a spring day, just for old times’ sake. 

 


Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

Tuesday March 25, 2008

 

 

 

 

 

NOT WHAT SUBSCRIBERS PAID FOR 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

The Berkeley Rep should be shamed for presenting the hackneyed one person show by Carrie Fisher as part of its subscription series. The Roda Theater should be used for state of the art productions. To reduce its use to bloviation with no focus by a third rate actor renders the contributions of its founders a travesty. I do not know how the Berkeley Rep justifies this betrayal of its historic purpose. The first show I saw at Berkeley Rep more than 30 years ago was a wonderfully nuanced comedy of manners by Feydeau. To see the mishmash of Wishful Drinking as part of that lineage is to abandon judgment. The Jack-in-the Box audience members in the front rows jumping up to give Wishful Drinking a standing ovation testify to how low things have become. If subscribers are not careful, we may get more of the same. 

Ken Hempel 

Kensington 

 

• 

MISOGYNY AND MEAN-SPIRITEDNESS 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

As a Berkeley resident for over 25 years, I have been proud to call myself a left/progressive person. But I have been aghast at the misogyny, close-mindedness, and mean-spiritedness demonstrated by some members of the left this primary season. The vitriol, the attacks on Hillary Clinton and her supporters, the name calling, all of it has been contrary to the progressive agenda of tolerance, equality, and fairness. Try to question Obama’s qualifications to be president or express concern about his ties to people like Tony Rezko, and find yourself on the receiving end of attacks. This is unity? Count how many of his supporters have actually researched his background and are aware of both his strengths and weaknesses. This is intellectual freedom? What I’ve learned from this experience is that extremism, whether on the left or the right, can sometimes lead to blindness and a hardening of the heart. 

Stacy Taylor 

• 

RACE RELATIONS 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

In response to Deborah Cloudwalker’s March 21 letter, I would like to say that it is both un-informed and irresponsible to argue that the reality of race relations in America resides entirely in the minds of black people. This type of statement attempts to negate the reality of structural and institutional racism, confining it only to personal experience. More importantly than placing blame (which Cloudwalker’s letter appears to do), this sentiment denies that anyone but black people have a stake in ending racism. This is simply not the case. Racism is not the problem of people of color alone, white people are harmed by its poisonous effects as well. While it is true that racism may not exist everywhere that people believe they see it, it is just as true that many are unable or simply refuse to acknowledge racism where it does, in fact, exist. 

Sadly, the history of this nation is built on episodes of genocide and violence aimed at people of color. As a nation, we can be proud of the steps that we have taken towards remedying this history. However, it is again un-informed and irresponsible to claim that racism is a thing of the past. For those who are resistant to the notion that racism continues to exist, it is crucial to acknowledge that not all allegations of racism are aimed at individuals. Nor is it necessary for discrimination to be the stated intent of an action for racist effects to occur. This is the crux of American racism at this point in history. For many, it is comforting to believe that Ward Connerly, Condoleeza Rice, and the Civil Rights Movement are evidence of racism’s demise. Yet racism continues to exist in the laws and structures of out society, “hidden” for some and very tangible for others. Yes, America has started down the path towards ending racism, but we are far from the finish line. 

Sarah Fong 

Oakland 

 

• 

DISINGENUOUS 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

In J. Douglas Allen-Taylor’s recent column about race, he asks why other candidates for national public office have not spoken to racial issues. This is a disingenuous question. White Americans have long ago learned that we cannot speak honestly about racial issues, because whenever we do, we are called “racist” and our attempts to open dialogue about this very worthy issue are closed down. It is insincere for black Americans to on the one hand cry that white Americans aren’t speaking about race, and then on the other hand to slap us in the face and shut us down when we attempt to do so honestly.  

Secondly, Barack Obama did not speak openly about race until forced to do so by the scandalous images of racist and hateful preaching by his pastor for 20 years. There is anti-black racism in America, no doubt, and Allen-Taylor gives examples of this, which all of us must be willing to face. There is anti-white racism in America as well, which Reverend Wright demonstrates, and which all of us must be willing to face. As long as “talking about race in America” means nothing but blacks airing their grievances and refusing to allow white people to speak honestly about our experiences, and our grievances, which include anti-white racism, or our concern about blacks such as Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson “playing the race card” in a manipulative and self-serving fashion, then the “dialogue” ensuing is little but a biased sermon, is untruthful and is no dialogue at all. Real dialogue means all people must be allowed to speak honestly, no matter the color of their skin, and means all of us being honest and open and working together for change. I hope this is the new dawn which Barack Obama may bring to this nation.  

Hank Goldman 

 

• 

AC TRANSIT’S CLEVER PLANS 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

It appears that AC Transit has come up with a bold and sophisticated plan to make bus usage even less attractive. As we learned in last Friday’s Daily Planet (“AC Transit Sets Fare Increase Hearing for May 21”), the AC Transit Board intends to increase fares and cut back on routes. These changes—along with the recent changeover of the bus fleet to the hated and uncomfortable Van Hool buses—are certain to decrease bus ridership even further. Brilliant! 

Thank heavens such a competent agency is in charge of the proposed Bus Rapid Transit project. If recent trends are any indication, I have no doubt that AC Transit will find a way to build and run this system without a single passenger ever using it at all! But the practical benefits of such an approach are apparent. Without ever having to stop for passengers, buses will have a much easier time meeting their schedules. And without any boardings, AC Transit will save significant dollars on wear and tear on the fare boxes and bus interiors. 

The savings that will accrue can be put into the travel budget for AC Transit executives—who regularly need to search the world for new buses to purchase. I have heard that they are currently in negotiations with bus companies in Tahiti, Venice, and the Greek Islands. Obligatory week-long stopovers at luxury hotels in Paris will be included in each junket, both to ease the transition to a new time zone and to make sure that the effects of jet lag do not cloud the judgment of our AC Transit officials. But, then again, who would ever notice the difference? 

Doug Buckwald 

 

• 

NEW SOCCER FIELDS A  

BAYSIDE EYESORE 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

The new soccer compound being constructed on the shores of the bay was supposed to be a low-impact project benefiting many communities and was apparently endorsed by the Sierra Club, CESP and Save Our Shoreline. It turns out that due to lack of funds, the specified less visible, high quality fencing as well as landscaping to lessen visual impact have been eliminated. We are now getting the “my” design. 

Although there were insufficient funds to budget those critical visual elements, the “possible” owl-burrough was moved to the Albany Plateau at a cost of $75,000—and without the owl. Then, as a result of “value engineering,” we now have an unsightly architecture which will be a blight on our waterfront for many years to come. 

The prominent feature looking West will be the 20-foot tall, unpainted galvanized posts and prison-like chain link fence surrounding the fields. This structure will obscure our wonderful view of Mt.Tam and the horizon as we are using the Bay Trail or driving north on I-80. 

Every sunset, we will be blinded by bright-as-day lighting coming on just as twilight casts its spell over the bay. We have not “saved” our shoreline or protected its natural beauty by any means. 

Along with this, we are told that there will be many days when traffic to Golden Gate Fields combined with games will cause major congestion at the bottom of Gilman Street. There are two parking lots planned, one on Gilman and one on the south end, both of which will be a mess at game time. 

I suggest that the joint commission find a way to beautify this project: field coating the tall posts, coated fencing and some landscaping to make it look more natural. In the future, no waterfront projects, whether developer or government sponsored, should be supported which lack funding to include required amenities. 

Peter Hobart 

Albany 

• 

AERIAL SPRAYING 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Sen. Don Perata is circulating information about a senate resolution (SCR 87) urging the California Department of Food and Agriculture to impose a moratorium on aerial spraying for the Light Brown Apple Moth until the CDFA can prove that the compound it intends to use is both safe and effective. 

SCR87 may be a good first step. But those who want to spray us will try to make it sound safe; they will spend lots of money to try to get their way. 

Does anybody know the answers to the following questions? 

Who will profit from the proposed spraying? The companies selling the spray? Friends of the governor? 

Why can’t traps with the pheromones be placed around orchards and yards by hand? I heard one community activist suggesting that ordinary citizens (who don’t want spraying) could be organized to help with moth control in this way. I think organizing that kind of effort would be possible and have a positive overall social effect. 

And additionally, isn’t there some law that protects us from being used as subjects of experimentation or research without our consent? Because that’s what this spraying method really is; they are researching what the effect would be on the population. They are experimenting on us, and we do not consent! 

We must continue to resist this crazy plan to spray humans and pets and livestock in order to try to control a moth. 

Barbara Whipperman 

Richmond 

 

• 

ANOTHER PROBLEM WITH  

PESTICIDE SPRAYING 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

There is a serious public health problem with the proposed pesticide spray which I have not heard mentioned. That is the anxiety, depression, incidence of panic attacks, distraction from productive work, and anger accompanied by violent ideation which, as a clinical psychologist, I hear from clients who express their concerns about the consequences of the proposed spray. These are thoughtful and accomplished people. Some are elders; some are young and pregnant and have young children; some are chemically sensitive and vulnerable to allergies. 

Most of them, and perhaps all of us, are reasonably at risk, as demonstrated by scientific studies of ingredients of the spray—carcinogenic, mutagenic, and toxic, one a reproductive effector associated with birth defects, and several of which should not be inhaled. We know about the hundreds of reports of health problems following spraying in Santa Cruz and Monterey counties. 

Their fears of disabling physical damage—for themselves, for their children, for their own parents—which might not be evident for years, cannot be dismissed. We have too much evidence of the application of insufficiently tested substancescthalidomide is the first that comes to mind. 

The anger that arises when citizen rights guaranteed by both national and state constitutions—the consent of the governed—has led to most of the world’s violence, and is fueled by the declaration of false emergencies and imposition of “executive authority,” which has been shown to be scientifically unsound. 

The longevity of grandparents who want to see their grandchildren grow into healthy adults is at risk. 

Even our food supply is at risk as we use methods which kill bees as well as the intended target of the light brown apple moth. Why? That moth has been in New Zealand for a hundred years and in California for likely 30-50 years without crop damage. If it were necessary to control, there are proven non-toxic methods available. 

I ask readers for your attention to these factors and their long-term consequences at many levels—physical, emotional, mental, and for some, spiritual, as well as political, economic, and environmental. 

I ask that you urge others to do all they can to influence our governor and the California Department of Food and Agriculture to call off and cancel all plans for aerial pesticide spraying. I am asking the state to divert the enormous economic outlay the current plan would entail to provide health-producing benefits rather than stress-inducing toxic spraying. Imagine keeping state parks open, providing early school for all children, and supporting training for organic farming.  

Anne Maiden Brown 

 

• 

AVOIDING THE TRUTH 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Last week at a meeting for Monterey County farmers, Secretary A.G. Kawamura of the CDFA said he was on a mission to fight “misinformation” about the aerial spraying to eradicate the light brown apple moth. 

There were rumors, he said, that the synthetic pheromone kills cats and fish, causes penile deformity in baby boys, and is even “radioactive,” a local newspaper reported. He was out to dispel these rumors and stand above the public’s ignorance. 

Kawamura was using a classic but juvenile communication tactic by creating a false premise (straw man) and then knocking it down, instead of talking about the real issues.  

But some people in Kawamura’s audience must have thought, “What is this guy talking about? What about the 643 illness complaints, and the kids who ended up in the hospital after the spraying in Monterey and Santa Cruz? Why is he bringing up these ridiculous ideas that I’ve never heard before? He is out of touch. He’s avoiding the truth. I can’t trust him!” 

But then again, what could Kawamura do? If he addressed the real issues, he’d have to talk about the people who have been forced from their homes on the Central Coast because they’re asthmatic or chemically sensitive and could not risk their lives.  

He’d have to talk about the long list of toxic ingredients in the spray, and the time-released micro-particles that embed themselves in a person’s deep lung tissue.  

And he’d have to talk about the privilege of being subjects of a health experiment against our informed consent, something prohibited by the Nuremberg Code, an internationally accepted standard of conduct instituted after the atrocities of World War II. 

I guess Kawamura had to focus on rumors like radioactivity and deformed body parts, because the aerial spraying campaign he is managing has such flawed science and reasoning behind it, and has already resulted in so much suffering and harm.  

If anyone is going to talk about the real issues—like how this aerial assault on our civil rights is not necessary, safe or effective—it is going to have to be citizens like you and me, and our state representatives who have shown courage in this matter. We don’t have to be afraid of the truth. 

Mike Lynberg 

Pacific Grove 

 

• 

PEACE SYMBOL EASTER  

(THE TIMES THEY ARE  

ENVISIONING) 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Last week, for the first time in, alas, yet another Christian millennium, anniversaries of Peace Symbol templated Easter Week. This is less than five years away from the end of that drum-beating Mayan Age, Winter Solstice 2012, that could just be cycle renewal, or bring extinction—nuclear holocaust, global warming, unknown. . . 

But it ain’t in the stars; it’s in us northern hemishpereoids and our energy lust. It’s maybe in the stars, but that ain’t for no astrologer me to say, as Pisces ended things, a full moon Good Friday Aries started it all over again—spring time and its allergies. 

The week kicked off Monday, March 17 with International Peace Symbol Day, created after the start of the stinking Iraq War. Of course, that self same St. Patrick’s Day had to be celebrated this year on the 15th because Paddy’s Day cannot parochially be boogied during Holy Week. 

Happened last in 1940, not again until 2160. We’re taking about rarities. With me? 

The past Easter weekend marked the Christian calendar’s 50th anniversary of the first public viewing of the Peace Symbol. It was on that initial 45-mile 1958 Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament stepping out death-and-resurrection April 4-7 from London to Aldermaston, England’s nuclear weapons factory to this day.  

A Golden Jubilee for the rest of us! From Peace Symbol’s Feb. 21 creation through its latest ban-the-bomb march to our customary calendar comin’ up Friday through Monday, April 4-7.  

Three galas! Like a well-trained preacher consummately stating belief three times. What more need be deduced. Tell me. Tell us. 

Armin A. Legdon 

 

• 

GLASS HOUSES 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Those casting stones at Barack Obama better not live in glass houses. How many years have these same Republican corps, who are casting dispersions on Obama and holding him accountable for the words of his pastor, how many years have these same self-serving puritans been sitting in their megachurches listening to the likes of Rev. John Hegee spew out virulent, fiery, hate-filled sermons targeting immigrants, gays and abortion providers? 

Should Barack or any of us be held accountable for the words that issue forth from our pastor’s mouths? No, and this is not what this latest charade is about. The Obama controversy has all the earmarks of the Republican spin machine and is a preview of the sleazy things to come this fall. 

Ron Lowe 

Grass Valley


Commentary: Thoughts on the New Center Street Designs

Tuesday March 25, 2008

CENTER STREET 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

The presentation of Walter Hood’s concepts for Center street was long awaited and as often happens it was not quite what we had hoped for. The presentation was an impressive display of models that were too abstract visually to understand without an accompanying text. The drawings were easier to “read” and showed cross-sections and a sense of scale and possible configurations. 

Hood’s verbal introduction to his exhibition did not promise a plan, but a range of possibilities which included the ideas of passageway, gathering place, adjacent buildings and their uses, along with some reference to the past and possible future presence of Strawberry Creek. The idea of opening the creek is not in any of the designs. Hood understands the myriad of opinions about the space, especially about the creek, as well as the political and financial constraints that are both real and perceived. These constraints should not be allowed to hinder the best design for the very center of our city. The continuation of Strawberry Creek from campus to the city’s center would not only energize the new gathering place but would in addition be a physical presence uniting the city and the university. 

Peter Selz 

 

• 

ITO’S BAM / PFA 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Thank you Daily Planet for giving my laugh of the week (and I needed it). The model of the proposed Berkeley Art Museum looked so much like the tupperware stacked in my closet. 

I am sure Mr. Ito’s finished building will be much more esthetic. 

But then, I am an optimist. 

Lenore Waters 

 

• 

LET’S DREAM A LITTLE 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

After all, aren’t dreams what Berkeley is made of? Frederick Olmstead envisioned a parkway at the top of the campus, and we got a pretty nice road out of the deal. Julia Morgan and Bernard Maybeck dreamt us some magnificent buildings and with luck, we will have them to enjoy forever. Alice Waters gave us edible schoolyards, a better way to eat and a colorful commercial district to do it in. Sylvia McLaughlin and Tom Bates dreamed of an east shore park. Doug Fielding conjured up some soccer fields. Ed Roberts willed us a city that is just about accessible to everybody. And now Walter Hood has shown us how to turn a part of Center Street into a great public space.  

The Downtown Area Plan Advisory Committee (DAPAC) had a peculiar sort of debate about what to do with Center Street between Shattuck and Oxford. Everyone seemed to like the idea of creating a pedestrian-focused public space. No one advocated leaving it alone. In true Berkeley tradition, however, we were able to make a split hair look like the Grand Canyon. By a vote of 11-10, the committee said it preferred a pedestrian-only mall and asked the city staff to develop some design options to explore its feasibility. No one suggested that closing the street was a done-deal, only that it was an idea worth pursuing if the designs worked out. But designs cost money which the city lacked, and it took a private grant to get the job done. Predictably, once the vision was put to paper, apparent differences seemed to melt away. One hybrid approach emphasizes gathering places, straight walkways, water features emerging in two places, and lots of trees. Most DAPACers I talked to seemed to like it. The biggest question is where to place the open creek-like features to optimize gathering space. That is the kind of constructive debate any community can handle. 

None of this dictates whether the street would be permanently closed to non-emergency, non-delivery vehicles, but Walter Hood’s vision does not close the door to either approach. Most instructive is Hood’s time lapse view of 24 hours on Center Street, showing that the handful of parking spaces on the street don’t turn over very often during the day. I am confident that commerce can thrive even if people need to walk a hundred feet or so from either entrance to the plaza in order to enter a store or café. Perhaps one day the merchants on the street will share that confidence. 

Civic Center Park offers a nice public space, but most people passing through downtown don’t see it. The dream is to create an appealing public place closer to the district’s front door—one that brings nature back into the city and invites people to do things together, such as listening to music, hearing a speech, or just enjoying the beauty of the water and the nearby hills. I am betting that Walter Hood has moved us closer to realizing that dream. 

Steven Weissman 

 

• 

SOMETHING TO  

LOOK FORWARD TO 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

When I went to the first meeting of the Alameda County Base Conversion Homeless Collaborative my wife was pregnant with our first child. I kissed her on the forehead as I was leaving and said, “Honey, I’ll be back in a couple of hours, this shouldn’t take long.” When I went to the last meeting of the Base Conversion Collaborative, where we finally received a settlement to help homeless providers, I had just finished dropping off our 10-year-old son. 

In November 2007, I completed a two-year (twice a month) commitment on the Downtown Area Plan Advisory Committee (DAPAC) to help develop a plan for new projects and construction in downtown Berkeley. I served on the subcommittee to come up with a plan for Center Street that would include a new hotel, the Berkeley Art Museum, and the possible day lighting of Strawberry Creek. I was a blank slate when the meetings started. Eventually I agreed with the other subcommittee members that the idea of daylighting the creek or some other water feature should be considered, but trained professionals needed to work out the details. After seeing the past two presentations by Walter Hood, hired by EcoCity Builders, I think that we’ve got the right person on the job. 

Think outside the box? His first presentation was out of this world—literally. He presented a series of blown-up photos from outer space first showing California, then the Bay Area, Berkeley, and finally focusing on the 2100 block of Center Street. He described the type of soil under the street, degree of pitch, water flow, ecosystems, native foliage, and how much you would actually have to detour the existing creek to run down Center Street. He showed examples of other successful plazas around the world that combined people, traffic, and buildings with a creek or water feature.  

In the second presentation I went to, March 19, Walter unveiled more than 25 different options for Center Street. Some options did not require moving the creek but rather involved creating a water feature such as terraced fountains that would run the length of the street. I also liked the fact that his concepts extended across Shattuck and included the BART plaza. I think he addressed merchants’ concerns and traffic options, while offering designs that were appealing and aesthetically pleasing. Comments from those in attendance included words like “inspiring,” “innovative,” “creative,” and “unique.” Except for a few people who thought the designs did not accommodate a large enough public meeting space or a Jimi Hendrix statue (which in my opinion both should be located someplace else), there’s something here for everyone. What’s not to like? 

One of my life-coping mechanisms, when I’m stressed out, experiencing back pain, exercising, or doing something else I don’t like is to think of something positive in the future. Since that last presentation my thoughts keep returning to Center Street. It’s destined to be the crown jewel in the new downtown plan. I’m optimistic that if Walter is allowed to proceed at the pace that this project is moving ahead, we will not need to wait for 10 years before something actually happens. I think my son, who is now 14, and I will both have something to look forward to much sooner rather than later.  

Winston Burton 

 


Commentary: Family Traditions: Easter and Passover

By Brooke Chabot
Tuesday March 25, 2008

My husband and I bounce through each year from holiday to holiday. Living in a bi-religious house, we have many to celebrate. Mostly they serve as a means to invite our friends and family over to our house to eat, drink and have a good time. The presents, candles, or type of food are all just a back drop to the same party. But Easter and Passover are different. These two holidays seem more in opposition to each other than any other. Maybe it’s because Hanukah isn’t as big of a holiday as Christmas that the duality doesn’t surface in winter. I think it is a given for my family that I will celebrate Christmas, despite the two religions that coexist in our home.  

When spring appears with the Easter Bunny lurking behind her budding flowers, I start to get the questions from my family. “Are you going to have an Easter dinner? Will you give Maya an Easter basket? Will you go to church?” This last question is most striking as I remember going to church one out eighteen Easters I spent at home. I understand that my mother doesn’t want me to loose the part of myself that connects me not only to her but to my culture and past. It’s just funny that Easter never really seemed like a big part of our family until it was threatened to be faded out. I don’t have anything against Easter, it’s just that I don’t consider myself a religious person and all that is left is really the bunny, candy and ham. At the same time, Passover is a dynamic celebration that is always our best holiday party of the year. We invite many of our friends who all make salty rich food that is hard to pronounce, and we drink too much wine as we read and sing one long story together around a table. How can the Easter bunny compete with that? A better question might be why have I created this competition between hidden eggs and afikomen? Wait a minute, couldn’t they be hidden together? 

Now that we have a baby girl to join our endless festivities, the stakes seem to be higher. I am trying to be mindful of not only the way we celebrate holidays but the meaning and purpose behind them. For example, during Christmas, I consciously only bought two presents for Maya, despite my urging need to buy her the world twice over. I wanted to focus on being with family and sharing our time together instead of the cacophony of presents that usually build below the tree. She was only 15 months, so I’m not sure she felt the impact of this focus, but it was a good first effort. Maybe next year we can do more to give to others or just to be there for those in need.  

Now I am left pondering the purpose and my own personal meaning of Easter. What message do I want Maya to receive from this holiday? As many Christian holidays coincide with the earthly worship traditions of the Pagans, the eggs, the bunny, and the basket all clearly represent sowing the seeds of a new crop. This is something I can emphasize to Maya as she collects her own eggs. We could even plant something together every Easter as a symbolic recognition of the spring season. It is a time of growth, power and beauty, all of which are not foreign to my little girl. 

Although it is not necessary to align the two holidays in any symbiotic way, I find myself wanting to reconcile my own issues between the two. So here it goes. Just as Easter can be interpreted as a celebration of the promise of all that is new, Passover represents the renewed optimism that life can continue and be more peaceful with increased tolerance. Spring is therefore a time for looking forward in expectation of all the bounty to come. I’m sure if we continued to expand our family to people of more faiths, we would find many more cultural representations of the same theme.  

 

Brooke Chabot is a Berkeley resident. 


Commentary: Trying Times for Teachers

By Beth Trevor
Tuesday March 25, 2008

This is a challenging time for teachers, and we already have a challenging job. These possible government cuts to education would be devastating to us. 

What’s happening here for me, as a teacher with a lay-off notice, is that “teachers on special assignment” (TSAs) may be re-assigned to the classroom. 

And that isn’t good for my position, because I might be cut, but more importantly, it is bad for Berkeley’s education in general. These TSA positions that might be cut are the life blood of our teaching. They are our coaches, our counselors and our leaders. 

At my site we have a Reading Recovery teacher. Reading Recovery teachers are like the Green Beret’s of Reading Instruction. They swoop down and rescue, they pull these kids up for air and give them a chance to survive academically. 

She is a TSA, and doesn’t directly service any of my third-grade students under the Reading Recovery title. But this fall, as our literacy coach, she and I worked together to implement the (Lucy Calkins) Writer’s Workshop program. We worked together each day, we planned, and team taught. We followed that best practice, really to a T. And the outcome was not only a huge success for the students, but also for me as a teacher. Many of my students that were actually reluctant to write at the beginning of the year, scored high on the mid year writing prompt. One student, who really hated writing, even wants to take a summer camp focusing on the writing craft. That is an enormous amount of change for this student! Our lit coach’s knowledge of literacy instruction is deep and intuitive, and she handed some of that knowledge on to me. How often do we get that opportunity? Well, this year I could access her skills as much as she and I had the time for. Next year, she will may not be there for the teachers because her position might be re-designated, eliminated. 

Why would we take that extremely special talent, that resource, away form our teachers? It’s something that could make us great teachers of literacy. It baffles me. It’s ridiculous. As teachers we care so much, we go above and beyond. Our students are “our kids.” 

“What you wouldn’t do for your kids.” You hear this a lot as a parent. I am a parent. But we feel it, and hear it a lot as teachers, too. What we do for our students is amazing, and they are amazing and they deserve the best. 

As one of my literacy instructors in my masters program, Dr. Lance Gentile, used to say to us, “If not with me, then with whom?” He would say this, pounding his fist on the table. Then with whom? He was intense. But I’m kind of wondering that myself right now. 

 

Beth Trevor is a Berkeley teacher. 


Commentary: How Relevant is the Economy?

By Marvin Chachere
Tuesday March 25, 2008

Self interest precedes community interest. Therefore, when the votes are cast for our 44th president each of us will choose the one who is more likely to improve our personal well being. So, if the economy means a collection of everything that will enhance one’s financial situation—then of course, “It’s the economy, stupid!” And the presidential nominee who waves this slogan best will win….again.  

But, wait. The economy that presidential aspirants, Congress, the Federal Reserve, economists and the punditry refer to is an abstract entity with pervasive reach full of surprises and intractable forces, resting on a mountain of data acquired from a vast range of activities. Economists prowl huge forests of numbers associated with stuff like national income, markets, business and international trade, considered to be economic indicators, and arrange their findings in verbal tableaux depicting the current state of things and suggesting future states. Their world is dominated by markets and the accumulation of wealth whereas our down-to-earth world turns on need and access.  

In economic discourse metaphors and inconsistencies abound: a lazy economy must be stimulated, a sinking economy must be propped up, a tottering economy must be bolstered, a weak economy must be strengthened, and so forth. The president tells us the nation is strong and yet each month tens of thousands lose their jobs. In Congress deficits are as acceptable as earmarks. No one wants to say “recession” but the president admits to a downturn and urges a stimulus package that will give borrowed cash to the working poor and continue tax breaks for the super rich.  

The ancient Greek idea of the economy as household management is stretched to the fantasy point as our leaders use it to cover management on a national and global scale.  

To what extent do numbers associated with national income, markets, business and international trade impact daily life? Do ordinary people care whether economics is a science, soothsaying, wishful thinking or plain boloney? Who cares? Most of us are too busy making ends meet. 

If there is a connection between the economy as conceived by our ruling classes and my personal well being it’s too complex for me to trace; the line between a surging (or plunging) stock market and my wallet is not only dim but tenuous and convoluted.  

I’m not so stupid as to act on the state of the economy as touted by contentious specialists who mix voodoo elements with trickle-down promises, rational, mathematical and sophisticated indeed, but no more reliable than tea leaves. 

My vote for president will not signify my concern for the economy but my hope for my own and my children’s well being.  

 

Marvin Chachere is a San Pablo resident.


Commentary: Hillary Clinton Lied About Outsourcing, Too

By Paul Rockwell
Tuesday March 25, 2008

Job security is the foremost domestic issue for working people in Pennsylvania, where Sen. Hillary Clinton is expected to win the Democratic Party primary. For many months, as a candidate for president, Senator Clinton has cultivated a pro-labor image. She claims to be an opponent of NAFTA, and she often denounces the outsourcing of American jobs. Before a crowd of students in New Hampshire, she claimed that she hated “seeing U.S. telemarketing jobs done in remote locations, far, far from our shores.” 

Newly released White House records demonstrate that Clinton lied about NAFTA. (See “Clinton Lie Kills Her Credibility on Trade Policy,” John Nichols, Common Dreams, March 22.) NAFTA, however, is but a single thread in a web of deception regarding globalization and free trade. Clinton is lying not only about NAFTA, but about outsourcing as well. And the evidence comes, not from Obama, but from official records, video tapes, quotations and recordings of Clinton speeches abroad. 

Consider this. In 2005 Sen. Clinton visited New Delhi, India, (“far, far from our shores”), where she met wealthy business leaders, venture capitalists eager for U.S. investment. A few years prior to her visit, Enron gained a foothold in India’s economy. Enron uprooted local communities, fleeced the public coffers, then pulled out of India with the profits of unregulated greed. 

In a speech promoting globalization and free trade, here is what Sen. Clinton said in New Delhi: “There is no way you can legislate against reality. Outsourcing will continue....We are not against all outsourcing, we are not in favor of putting up fences.” 

The India Review, a publication of the embassy of India, commented April 1, 2005: “Senator Clinton allayed apprehension in India that there would be a ban on outsourcing.” 

Siddharth Srivastava reported in Asia Times, March 1st, 2005: “Hillary Clinton made it apparent where she stood on outsourcing during her India visit...Hillary has been at the forefront in defending free trade and outsourcing. She faced considerable flak for defending Indian software giant Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) for opening a center in Buffalo, New York.” (TCS provided hundreds of special visas for foreign employees to work in New York for substandard, non-union wages.) She praised Clinton’s “strict adherence to the principles of free trade and outsourcing that affect India directly.” 

Outsourcing is inherent to global free trade, the attempt of corporate goliaths to move resources, jobs, money, capital in search of profits anywhere in the world without accountability. 

If a video clip of Clinton’s outsourcing remarks in India were played on TV before the upcoming primaries in Indiana, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania, she would lose the elections, despite current polls. Not only because working-class voters oppose outsourcing, but because the duplicity of Clinton would become obvious. 

Clinton’s globalization speech in India would hardly be noteworthy today, except that, in her current campaign for the nomination, she is saying exactly the opposite of what she said in India. She was a globalizer in India. Now she’s a protectionist in Pennsylvania, and voters have a right to ask: Which is the real Hillary Clinton? 

The U.S. media, however, is presently experiencing a bout of amnesia. Pundits forget that Bill Clinton, with Hillary at his side, made huge campaign promises to labor in 1992. Within months of their victory, the Clintons rammed two Republican-initiated free-trade bills—NAFTA and GATT—through a Democratic Congress. Outsourcing of jobs to sweatshops in Mexico and Indonesia actually accelerated under the Clinton globalization agenda. The Clintons increased subsidies for corporate mergers and relaxed regulations that protect the public from the abuse of corporate power. 

The Clinton administration also passed the Financial Modernization Act of 1999, repealing the Glass-Steagal Act of 1933. That historic New Deal legislation made working-class home ownership possible and safe. The Jimmy Stewart film It’s a Wonderful Life idealized the New Deal arrangement. The savings-and-loan system—a system of small, often family-owned banks—was a bedrock of stability until the deregulation trends of the ’80s and ’90s transformed the U.S. economy into a high-risk casino. The Republican-sponsored, Clinton-backed Modernization Act deregulated the financial sector and encouraged the merger of business and commercial investment banks. Clinton’s “modernization” (he called it “reinventing government”) carved a path to the current sub-prime mortgage crisis. The current anarchy in housing and banking is, in part, a direct consequence of the Clinton deregulation legacy. As banks are failing, working people losing their homes, it takes a lot of gall for Hillary Clinton to take credit where blame is due for her White House experience. Shame on you, Hillary Clinton! 

 

Paul Rockwell is a columnist for In Motion Magazine. 

 


Commentary: Why Are the Democrats Determined to Self Destruct?

By Bob Smith
Tuesday March 25, 2008

Sen. Clinton voted for a criminal war, she declinee to disclose her tax returns and the financial sources for her husband’s library, her much talked about experience is grossly exaggerated, by exploiting her relationship with Bill Clinton, she is less feminist than a beneficiary of nepotism, and her poor management of her campaign has demonstrated an alarming weakness as a manager. This is not to deny her intellect, her grasp of the issues and her capabilities as a political campaigner. However four more years of Republican rule are unthinkable. One must be objective and consider which of the two remaining candidates is best suited for the office, and which has a better chance of winning in November. The primary numbers provide the evidence—Obama has a commanding lead—delegates, popular vote, and states. 

Hilary Clinton is behind in the delegate count, and no one thinks she can catch up in the remaining primary elections. Clinton can only win the nomination in the backroom with the super delegates. If she wins the nomination, all her weaknesses will be exploited by the Republicans and John McCain this fall. Obama has treated her with great respect and gentleness; the Republicans will not be so constrained. She is unelectable. Her continued struggle against a truly remarkable candidate only serves to divide our party—to do the Republican’s work for them. The Republicans are in a win-win situation: if Hilary is the nominee, they will have a vulnerable opponent who arouses vehement antipathy and she and the super delegates will have alienated both black and young voters; if Obama wins, the Republicans will be the beneficiary of months of cheap attacks, the result of which will be an unnecessarily wounded candidate.  

Obama has proven himself to be a remarkable candidate. In response to some very dirty politics, his speech on racism is an eloquent message on a long festering problem. Real change will only occur with courageous leadership. Obama demonstrated such leadership, something this country hasn’t seen since FDR. He addressed an explosive issue with courage, equanimity and wisdom; there was no anger, deflecting, dodging, blaming, or disavowal. He actually embraced his minister. And then he moved on to initiate a long overdue dialog. And with this dialog, we have the possibility of moving beyond a narrow focus on racism and facing the real issues, starting with the education of this nation’s youth.  

But the campaign continues. The only ‘dirt’ on Obama is guilt by association: a brief encounter with a sleazy real estate investor, and membership in a church with a highly regarded minister who made some very provocative and controversial statements in the past 30 years. Are we going to trash him over this? We have Obama’s tax returns, earmarks, private life—nothing there. Oh, he did inhale as a teen-ager. No doubt that we will hear about that in due course. Compared to Clinton’s record, attacks on Obama based on guilt by association is a very high standard indeed.  

Party leaders and super delegates should be using their positions to convince Sen. Clinton to bow out. It’s time for the race for the Democratic Party’s nominee to end, to unite behind Senator Obama, and to permit him to campaign against John McCain. 

 

Bob Smith is a Berkeley resident.


Letters to the Editor

Friday March 21, 2008

 

 

 

 

WILLARD SCHOOL COVERAGE 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

As members of the Willard Middle School newspaper, the Uptown News, we would like to respond to the Daily Planet’s coverage of our former vice principal and to the letter written by Yvette Deas concerning our school and our former vice principal, Margaret Lowry. We would like to point out that, contrary to the claims by Ms. Deas, students do in fact have voices.  

Over the past year, we have looked at the Planet as a reliable source of local news and a role model for our own publication. In the last few issues of the Planet, that respect and admiration have been greatly reduced. The articles by your reporter, Riya Bhattacharjee, about our school and our former vice principal have been biased against Mrs. Lowry and our school. Each article published about her features the same examples of complaints from parents, and contains little or no new news about her case. Furthermore, there has been nothing published in the Planet about how all charges were dropped against Mrs. Lowry.  

In the March 18 edition there is nothing about Mrs. Lowry but a passionately misinformed letter from Ms. Deas. She talked about students of our school as though we can’t say anything about what is going on with Mrs. Lowry, and made her look like a criminal based on articles that are biased against her. It is odd that the Planet would publish such a letter given the fact that Lowry was cleared of charges and has subsequently resigned. What’s the point? 

On March 14, the Berkeley Voice published an article that said charges had been dropped against Mrs. Lowry. Your edition, published four days later, mentioned nothing about this new development. As a newspaper, you are supposed to keep people informed, and you have failed to do so. Your readers are still under the impression that Mrs. Lowry is guilty, when in fact she is not. We hope that your next issue will clarify Mrs. Lowry’s case. 

Your reckless journalism has presented Willard Middle School to the Berkeley community as a school that has more problems than it does in reality. We were disappointed that you have chosen to portray only the negative aspects of our school without a mention of the good things going on at Willard. 

Sofia Escudero and Alex Wood 

Eighth grade students at Willard 

 

• 

BRAVO RALPH NADER! 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

As a Democrat I’m enraged almost daily as Bush-Cheney secrets continue to ooze into view. A recent addition to stress overkill is uncalled-for blame piling up yet again on Ralph Nader for single-handedly putting George W. in office. 

In the year 2000 many Americans still believed that each vote cast would be accurately counted; that the Supreme Court consisted of nine soberly objective, Constitution-revering justices; and that Al Gore would not concede the presidency until all Florida votes were proven without a doubt. How to survive an insane Bush legacy for future decades would never have come up. 

Although a few Congressional Democrats have divorced themselves from the current administration, too many have followed Speaker Pelosi downhill from the time she took impeachment “off the table.” We desperately need an active third party allowed into the exclusive two-party club. Somebody’s gotta do it! 

Even so, this November I’ll “hold my nose and vote” for whichever Democratic candidate is still standing. John McCain is way too scary. Meanwhile, “Bravo!” Ralph Nader and Matt Gonzalez for courageously and knowingly confronting vicious attacks from all sides. 

Nancy Chirich 

 

• 

PROPER PATRON BEHAVIOR 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

While I’m in complete sympathy to anyone who is in pain, I believe that Ms. Stewart’s behavior during a performance by Danny Hoch at the Berkeley Rep was completely inappropriate. I’m writing this to help improve future encounters between people with special needs attending theater performances. At the time of purchasing tickets, the box office should be notified about any special needs, including seeing-eye dogs, wheelchairs, the need to stand during a performance, or any number of other conditions. The box office will suggest the appropriate seating arrangements.  

However, the patron should also make a point to discuss these needs with the house manager upon arrival at the theater. The house manager is responsible for the well being of all patrons and volunteers; he or she may notify the cast regarding anything out of the ordinary (you can be sure that actors are very much aware of what is happening in the audience, especially in a small theater such as the Thrust, where Mr. Hoch was performing). If something unexpected or unusual is going on, the intense focus of a monologist can be destroyed. The house manager will make every effort to find an appropriate seat for someone who says beforehand that they must stand at some point, and will also point out where in the auditorium that patron can comfortably stand, without violating fire laws, annoying the audience, or disturbing the cast. I wonder why Ms. Stewart did not make her need known to the house manager? (Her independent decision to stand in the exit well is not permitted by the fire code.) Further, when Mr. Hoch made repeated requests for her to sit, she continued to stand. When the house manager was finally summoned and requested Ms. Stewart to stand in the lobby (where she could have comfortably watched the last 15 minutes of the performance) Ms. Stewart opted to sit, endure more pain, humiliation and whatever else occurred, to the discomfort of everyone in the theater that evening. 

As for the event that occurred on a previous visit to the Rep, when an usher opened the locked door on a chilly night to let Ms. Stewart into the theater before the theater was open to the public: there are several cafes up and down the street which could provide warmth to patrons arriving early. The House Manager leads an orientation meeting with her staff of ushers, which is a private meeting and not meant to be overheard by the public. The usher who opened the door was in error—when there is a real need to permit premature entry to a patron, the HM is always to be consulted beforehand. In this case, the House Manager had every right to request that Ms. Stewart leave, no matter how discreet her behavior. 

In the interest of full disclosure, I work as a volunteer for the Berkeley Rep, and I also have some house management experience elsewhere. I’ve worked in theaters most of my life in one capacity or another. I know that the well being of the patron is paramount in the view of theater personnel and it is always dismaying when a patron is made uncomfortable for any reason. To avoid any such incidents in the future, please make your requirements known in advance. 

Marilyn Goodman 

 

• 

A WOMAN PRESIDENT 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Why hasn’t the United States joined so many nations and had a woman president, Nino Matocinos asks in the March 18 issue. A prime factor is that we are so focused on people’s gender or race that transcendent issues and qualifications are obscured.  

Of Hillary and Barack, he wins many fans by showing us how to look beyond our fetish with gender and race, beyond with such things as the media excessive attention to a women’s physical appearance. In contrast, Barack describes in his book of memories about his father many meetings with women, and the book being autobiography, one might expect him to write, “She was a tall, lithe woman, one of those who could wear 10-inch spiked heals without falling over.” No such body identity is in the book. And yet, the mind of one woman in particular is adored intensely. And when Barack goes to Africa, we readers are conditioned to expect him to write, “As the plane approached the runway I looked out the window and saw real African grass, and then I stepped on actual African land, and with my heart beating a mile a minute I took a deep breath and breathed real African air.” No, very little of that. Instead, his lengthy African section is about the interconnected and disconnected social and political relations of his family. 

Barack talks beyond our hang-up. Hillary wants us to feel good that it will be a breakthrough if either she or the black guy is in the white house. Scoring points on gender and race is becoming a distraction in a world of unchecked capitalism and melting ice caps. 

Ted Vincent 

 

• 

RACE RELATIONS IN AMERICA 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Reading commentary about the scandal with Jeremiah Wright and Barack Obama this week, I saw that one man asserted “blacks in America are angry.” Reading the letter by Byron Delcomb in the March 18 edition of the Daily Planet, I can better understand why that is. If American blacks would agree with Byron that it is a “racist action” when police take measures to attempt to apprehend a fleeing robbery suspect, and check out someone who looks like him, or that it is a “racist action” when unruly or disruptive or otherwise problematic students are sent to the principals office, choosing to interpret these events as racist because the persons in these situations are black, then no wonder so many blacks are angry. They are reading racism into far too many situations where there isn’t any racism at all, just cause and effect. A simple solution to the problem of so much black anger, then, would be: stop trying to find racism everywhere you look. Your thoughts in part create your reality, and what you are determined to find, you will either find, or if you can’t find it, you’ll fabricate it. If you want to change the world, change your thoughts, and your world will change.  

Deborah Cloudwalker 

Oakland 

 

• 

OBAMA’S SPEECH ON RACE 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Barack Obama’s speech, “A More Perfect Union,” recognized that many of us feel some degree of black anger and white resentment. He acknowledged these emotions while neither justifying them nor condemning them. While condemning their hateful expression, he conceded that these feelings exist. Admitting them is the first step to dissolving them and moving onward.  

Obama spoke from the heart, from his true experience of living in both our black and our white cultures. His life, indeed his DNA, embodies our truly American experience.  

Obama mapped out a vision for getting beyond the distractions of race and racism, toward solving the real problems we face: war, economy, health, education, and environment.  

An imperfect man leading us toward a more perfect union, Obama is a mensch, a real human being, the real deal. After so very many years of lesser candidates and presidents, let us hope that the American people can tell the difference. Perhaps even some political pundits, nay-sayers, and fearmongers will recognize his sensible hopefulness when they hear him. 

Bruce Joffe 

Piedmont  

• 

EFFECTS OF WAR 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Here’s a terrifying thought that occurs to me as I listen to the “Winter Soldier” testimony on KPFA. Young men and women who have been raised in families which promote values of decency and humanitarianism in their children, are coming home overwhelmed with guilt about what they did or didn’t do in Iraq. And, guilt produces drug addiction, alcoholism, etc. Thus, the decent young women and men who have “served,” are the ones who are being sidelined, leaving the ones who aren’t, with us.  

Robert Blau 

 

• 

GREEN BUILDINGS 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

The Berkeley High gym contains two pools, three gyms, and huge classroom spaces, that open out onto large playing fields. The state Historic Resources Commission unanimously recommended the gym for the National Register of Historic Places—it is now listed. So of course it is a no-brainer for the School Board to preserve and rehabilitate this noted building—isn’t it? 

For the new mantra of every politician and city planner I read about is to proclaim “green, green, green.” We recently learned that half of the greenhouse gases in the United States are from buildings—not autos as most of us assume. And we citizens are encouraged to feel good about our recycling bottles, cans, and paper—this is small potatoes as compared to the ecologic effect of preserving old buildings instead of tearing them down.  

And global warming is the problem from hell, so the adaptive reuse of existing buildings should be the preferential option whenever there is a choice. When the structure is well-designed, has good use left in it, and has meaningful links to the past, it should be a no-brainer. Coincidentally, at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 27 at the First Christian Science Church, Richard Moe of the National Trust for Historic Preservation and Jon Carroll of the San Francisco Chronicle will speak on the role of historic preservation in fighting climate change. 

Well, I have surprising news for the citizens; the school board wants to tear down the Berkeley High gym. The planners and politicians, who shout “Green!”until they’re green in the face, have never seen a big new construction project they didn’t like. In Washington they call it “pork-barrel.” Locally it looks like big-time real estate and construction money that dominate land-use planning in Berkeley.  

So it’s only the concerned citizenry that can demand that the School Board call a halt to this “business-as-usual” demolition and big new construction, and remind the boardmembers that preservation is the ultimate recycling. The greenest building is the one that is already built.  

Neal Blumenfeld  

 

• 

THE ECONOMY 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

I realize that listening to the morning news is not particularly conducive to one’s mental health. But, as a die-hard “newsaholic,” I plant myself every morning in front of TV to watch the 7 a.m. ABC program, “Good Morning, America,” while having breakfast. (This frequently results in severe heartburn after a steady succession of lurid revelations of sex scandals, corrupt government administration, Iraq fatalities and the escalating political battles.) 

But a segment I find rather intriguing is that entitled, “Opening Bells,” originating from the New York Stock Exchange. If for no other reason, I’m fascinated by all those attractive people standing on a balcony at the Exchange, smiling blissfully and clapping their hands vigorously. Not to worry that the Dow Jones has hit an all-time low, that stocks have spiraled downwards and that the United States economy is going to hell in a hand basket. No, siree, nothing erases the broad smiles of these balcony people nor lessens their enthusiastic applause. 

Who, I wonder, are these poor misguided souls? Are they robots, wound up in back like the wooden figures on cuckoo clocks, emerging from doors when the hour strikes? Or could this merely be a case of arrested development? Granted that the market made a miraculous recovery this past week, stocks will undoubtedly plummet again in the weeks to come. But again, not to worry. The familiar balcony scene will continue to offer Americans assurance that the economy is booming! After all, hasn’t our president told us so? 

Dorothy Snodgrass 

 

• 

NUKES AND PISTOLS 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

The Supreme Court is reviewing the right to bear arms, and the military is planning to refurbish our stock of nuclear weapons. 

There’s a connection. 

As I read the Second Amendment, our right to bear arms is based only on the need to form militias; beyond that, the wording is ambiguous. I don’t see that we have the right to keep automatic weapons for personal defense. The United States is refurbishing its nuclear weapons, but at the same time objects to Iran gaining the capacity to have its own nuclear weapons. Where does the right to bear arms stop? If I’m allowed to carry a loaded pistol, is my need to protect myself against attack in my neighborhood more important than the public danger I might pose? I see the pistol and the nuke as different degrees of the same proliferation problem. There haven’t been any nukes used in war since 1945, but there sure have been a lot of people killed by pistols. 

Steve Geller 

 

• 

ANOTHER AD HOMINEM 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Peter Josheff’s bizarre letter is a perfect microcosm of what passes for the “liberal mind” in Berkeley. 

Like the O’Malley editorial, there are no specifics, only generalized insults. I labeled O’Malley but also included a whole list of specifics of where she was wrong. And, pray tell, what is “overwhelmingly moderate”? I found O’Malley’s editorial on the Nader ticket rather underwhelming, intellectually speaking. Becky has been guilty of much, but never of writing “moderate” (a weasel word) editorials. 

And what does my rebuttal of O’Malley have to do with so-called gun control? 

I made my points on that subject at length last year to the point where I tired of repeating myself to the dim bulb statists among the readership. If your beloved Dummycrats get in November, you’ll see how little real difference it will make. But the stupid asses of pwogwessism will keep coming back for more! 

Michael P. Hardesty 

Oakland 

 

• 

STOLEN CIVICS 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

It would appear that thieves are targeting 1990s Honda Civics in the Berkeley area. I’ve lost my 1992 Civic VX hatchback. A friend just lost her 1990 Civic Wagon. My replacement 1995 Civic was recently broken into, but the Club stopped the thieves on that occasion. 

In both cases, the cars were stolen, stripped of just a few parts, enough to have the insurance companies consider the car a total loss. The obvious, easily-replaced parts, such as tires, basic engine parts, etc., were not taken, but unique parts that cannot be replaced at a parts store were taken, such as a door, the interior plastic panels, and a cluster gauge. 

Both cars ended up in Oakland (mine on Skyline Boulevard), and then towed to the same salvage yard. My car had the name of someone who had scoped it out and “tagged” it to be sold to him at the end of the 30 days in the yard. Many Civics were lined up with these names written the windshield. 

A trip to the yard showed dozens of these Hondas, with just a few parts surgically stripped out. I’ve since seen many of these odd parts on Craigslist. Inquiries were well received unless I mentioned that my car was stolen. Then the sellers wouldn’t respond. 

Oakland police offered no assistance, or interest in stopping these thieves by at least taking finger prints, or other information. If the police aren’t going to connect the dots, Honda owners need to protect themselves. 

Buy a Club, and use it every time. Buy one that locks the steering wheel to the clutch pedal if you can. Buy and use a car cover every time. Buy one that has a cable and lock so it doesn’t get stolen too. 

Install an alarm. One with a kill switch will stop thieves before they can get it to their strip destination. A LoJack system with GPS will allow the car to be tracked and located. 

Last of all, buy comprehensive insurance for your car with a low deductible. It will cost a bit more, but having a free rental car will help keep your life in order while you go through the process of getting your car back in order. 

Alice La Pierre 

 

• 

APPLE MOTH SPRAYING 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

I highly urge the Santa Cruz City Council and other local governments in Monterey and San Francisco Bay Area to direct their local police departments to protect and defend the people from the aerial chemical pesticide spray bombardment that is coming again in June 2008 to our area. 

Specifically, to direct our local police departments to use lethal force to shoot down the planes and helicopters that are threatening the health, well-being and lives of our communities with the state and federal government’s illegal and harmful chemical/pesticide aerial spraying campaign. It is the mandate of the local police departments to “protect and defend” the people—by force of arms—as a last resort if all other means of solving conflicts and disputes are to no avail (i.e. pending lawsuits against the state and federal governments). The local police are ones empowered by mandate and by law in our communities to protect the people from internal and external violent attacks and to secure the peace and security of our cities. 

They have the weapons, sophisticated arsenals to tap and the obligation and the means to protect our communities from terrorist attacks. I say lets empower them to do their job.  

Take cue from the city of Brattleboro, Vermont—who have recently passed a resolution to arrest George Bush and Dick Cheney if they ever set foot in their city. 

Rafik Shakar 

Santa Cruz 

 

• 

CLINTON AND OBAMA 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Democratic presidential contenders, Clinton and Obama, continue their contentious prattle while Republican nominee John McCain looks every bit presidential chatting with world leaders. 

Hillary wants Barack to play second fiddle on a Clinton/Obama “Dream Team” ticket. Hillary Clinton at the top of the Democratic ticket spells disaster for the party in November. 

Hillary will energize and inflame the Republican base like nothing and no one else can. Look at what she has done to Democratic campaigning! 

What happened to focusing on the issues? Do independents and moderates want to hear Clinton/Obama party infighting. Leave hardball politics to the GOP. 

It is time for Howard Dean and the DNC to rein in the Clinton campaign or we will be witnessing the swearing in of another “war president,” John Sidney McCain III, as our 44th president, next January. 

Ron Lowe 

Grass Valley 


Commentary: A Letter to the Berkeley Community

By William Huyett
Friday March 21, 2008

As your new superintendent I have enjoyed meeting many of you as I have gone to schools and attended events in my first month on the job. Unfortunately, I come to the district in the middle of a state budget crisis caused by insufficient revenue. 

In January Gov. Schwarzenegger proposed to cut public education by $4.8 billion. Although no budget has been passed, school districts are required to submit a balanced budget by June 30 based on the governor’s current proposal. This means a need to reduce the BUSD budget by $3.7 million from our planned 2008-09 budget.  

This week, you may hear the news that the district is giving notice to some certificated staff—teachers, administrators, and counselors—that we may not continue to employ them in 2008-09. Because 85-95 percent of California school district budget expenditures are personnel related, layoffs are almost inevitable for districts in the coming year. BUSD finds itself in this position. By law, we had to give notice of potential certificated layoffs before March 15. Our board took action to approve these possible layoffs at its March 12 meeting. Giving such notice is disruptive to teacher’s lives and to the students we serve, but is necessary, this year. I wish there was a more rational way to go about this process, but we have no other choice. 

There will be notices to non-certificated employees as well. These employees are governed by different laws, and any such notices will not be sent until late April or May. 

I want to assure you that myself as superintendent, the school board, and my staff are all committed to maintaining the class size ratios passed as a part of Measure A. These are district-wide averages of 20 students to 1 teacher in grades K-3, 26:1 in grades 4-5, and 28:1 in grades 7-12. Our thanks to Berkeley taxpayers for providing us with the funds to allow us to maintain these levels at a time where many other districts are raising class sizes. 

I have asked my staff to make a preliminary list of budget reductions, which form the basis of the certificated layoff notices. This list will be reviewed by a new committee I am forming called the Superintendent’s Budget Advisory Committee. This committee, comprised of half employees and half community members, will review the proposals and will make their own recommendations to me. I then will try to put the best ideas from each group forward when I submit my recommendation to the board in May. The board will make all final decisions and must pass a balanced budget by the end of June. 

As in any school layoff process we will notice more people than we will actually release from their jobs next year. As we find out more about employees who will be retiring, going on leave, or not returning next year the number of needed layoffs may decrease. Additionally, as we make decisions about which positions and programs will funded, some of the names can be removed from the list. 

Each school’s School Governance Committee (SGC) is responsible for deciding the budget at each school. The decisions they make will not be easy, as the governor has cut categorical funds (often the ones that go to schools) even more than the revenues that fund classroom teachers. SGC meetings are open to all and thoughtful input is always welcome. 

It is tremendously disheartening to be writing a letter concerning potential layoffs as one of my first communications to the school community. I am, however, hopeful that changes will be made in the state budget before it is passed.  

Recently 20 of us made our first trip to the capital to talk with members of the Education Coalition and legislators. More pressure will be exerted on the Legislature before we are through. Each of us can make our voice heard and campaign against these unprecedented cuts. PTAs and other organizations will be organizing letter-writing campaign and other actions—I urge you to participate in these activities.  

As we go through our decision-making process to align our budget with the governor’s proposal, we will keep you informed with letters like this. I hope that we can preserve as many of the dedicated professionals and great programs found in Berkeley schools as we make difficult decisions about the budget.  

We have a long road to travel together to get through this budget crisis brought on by the state’s fiscal shortfall. Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns. 

 

William Huyett is the Berkeley Unified School District’s new superintendent.  


Commentary: Food for Bodies And Souls

By Mary Lee Noonan
Friday March 21, 2008

On March 12 my husband and I paid for our dinner at a remarkable place where the dinners are usually free. Every day the St. Vincent de Paul Dining Room serves an average of approximately 1,000 hot meals to people who would otherwise go hungry. That evening its large, sparkling white space was transformed for the celebration of two ongoing accomplishments: 70 years of St. Vincent de Paul’s devoted service in Alameda County and the beginning of their Kitchen of Champions job training program. The tables were set with the royal blue and white of St. Vincent de Paul and decked with yellow rose petals and votive candles. Quietly, without extensive publicity or social flourishes, a profoundly affirmative statement was being made by an extended community that cares deeply about our East Bay cities and is determined to address their problems. 

The hero of the evening was Matt Colgan, executive chef at A Cote on College Avenue, Oakland, the first in a series of outstanding guest chefs who will be preparing benefit dinners for the Kitchen of Champions project. Thanks to his generosity, that of the restaurant’s owners and staff, and the generosity of the vendors with whom they work, every cent of the ticket revenue went to the program. The prawns wrapped in pancetta were a gift. The perfectly seared chicken breasts were a gift, as were the handsome, carefully trimmed asparagus spears and the heavenly lemon almond pound cake that would support a cascade of whipping cream and sliced strawberries. Everything was a gift of our local, thriving food community to help the neediest, struggling to put their lives together, on the bottom rungs of the culinary ladder. 

Matt was assisted in the preparation of his superb, four-course meal by St. Vincent de Paul’s chef, Michael Stamm, and a team from among the Kitchen of Champions’ first graduates. The wait staff was a cheerful and very efficient group of student volunteers from St. Mary’s College. Members of the St. Vincent de Paul community welcomed the guests, escorting us from the parking lot to the dining room, introducing us to others, seating us at our tables. In a neighborhood usually associated with bleaker stories, the intersection of San Pablo Avenue and 23rd Street, the message was one of generosity, civility and warmth. At the beginning of the evening, many of us were strangers. By the end, we felt like friends. 

The goal of the Kitchen of Champions program, launched in the fall of 2007, is to give its participants a solid foundation for a career in food service. They acquire skills together with a sense of direction and self worth that will open doors to urgently needed employment. Several graduates of the first class are, for example, continuing their training with culinary courses at Laney College while others are working for Paula Le Duc Catering. If the green garlic and spring onion soup or the delicious ricotta gnocchi are fair illustrations, with guidance, confidence and effort they can meet the highest standards. Would that the Kitchen of Champions project could be an inspiration to the whole community as it grapples with other challenges in the cities of the East Bay.


Commentary: How to Help Stem the Tide of Public Education Cuts

By John Selawsky
Friday March 21, 2008

I write from a sense of immediacy, I write from a sense of continued need, and I write from a sense of both frustration and anger. Once again, after a 30-year history of underfunding of our public schools in the state of California, a governor is proposing massive cuts and reductions in the state’s contribution to local public schools. Since between 70 and 80 percent of any local school district’s funding comes directly from Sacramento, this potential loss is of major concern to the school and wider community. In a time of escalating utility costs, fuel, salaries, books, materials and supplies, the Governor has proposed a 0 perent cost of living adjustment (COLA) for 2008-09, as well as massive cuts in school funding. For a local perspective on the real price districts will pay, we are estimating that Berkeley Unified School District will lose between $3.7 and $4.5 million in the next school year! These potential cuts will impact every school and every program in Berkeley Unified. It is important for the public to know that there are no good nor easy choices for the school board to make with possible reductions in revenue that are this deep. 

There are additional costs to Berkeley and other school districts in California that will result from these proposed cuts. At a time when even state officials regularly bemoan the state’s lack of qualified teachers, particularly in the math and sciences areas, almost every school district in California will be noticing the most recently hired teachers of possible lay-offs or reductions in assignment: we will unfortunately be sending the message to our teachers that they are expendable, unwanted, and undervalued. Furthermore, some of our classified staff (custodians, maintenance, tradespeople, food service workers, bus drivers) will have reductions in hours and/or elimination of positions. Though many of our classified staff are not paid as well as our teachers, they do receive health benefits, sick and vacation time, pension fund payments, and other benefits, all of which are increasingly less available for comparable positions in the private sector. Many of our administrators will receive pink slips as well. Because cuts and reductions will be so dramatic state-wide, positions for these people will be scarce anywhere next year. This compounds our state’s economic woes, leaves individuals and families with limited options, and seriously impacts the work of local school districts. 

There are steps all of us can take to help our schools during this exceedingly difficult period: 

1) Call, write, e-mail your state representatives and the governor’s office, telling them to maintain the minimum funding that is guaranteed under voter-approved Proposition 98. 

2) Involve your neighborhood association, your union, your co-workers, any groups or associations you are a member of, and have the organization send a letter or fax to Sacramento in support of our schools. 

3) Draft a letter for your next PTA/PTSA meeting to send to Sacramento. 

4) Participate in the caravans that will continue to travel to Sacramento to talk with legislators and the governor’s office about the critical need to maintain public school funding. (One is definitely planned for the first week in May, and there will be other opportunities before then.) 

Every school district in the state of California will be severely impacted by the proposals coming out of Sacramento at this time. Districts will be looking at reducing/eliminating athletics, cutting programs, reducing staff, and increasing class-sizes to off-set the reductions in state funding (Berkeley is committed in maintaining our class-size averages, at this point). Please help us get the message to Sacramento loud and clear: no reduction in Proposition 98 funding for our public schools. 

 

John Selawsky is president of the Berkeley School Board. 


Commentary: Wilma Chan To the Rescue

By Barry Wolfsy
Friday March 21, 2008

Berkeley is fortunate to have the opportunity to support Wilma Chan, rated the most progressive California assemblymember, for state senator this coming June, in our District 9. The March 17 Daily Planet article indicated that Wilma Chan has raised almost all of her campaign donations from individual voters and citizens, which is exactly what we, in Berkeley, expect from clean, progressive candidates. On the other hand, I was shocked at the Loni Hancock-Tom Bates political machine’s campaign donations. A huge portion of Hancock’s donations came from developers who want special treatment by Hancock and Bates, corporate interests, and gambling interests such as Point Molate LLC, which wants to build a major casino on our proposed East Bay State Shoreline Park. 

Wilma Chan has always been a very effective and outspoken advocate on behalf of California’s children and families as an Assemblywoman. She focused her attention on progressive issues that matter to all of us: health care, education, housing, senior services, and environmental health. Wilma has demonstrated her leadership and her ability to get things done in Sacramento, because she works well with others. This is why Wilma is endorsed for her state Senate race against Hancock by incoming state Senate President Darrell Steinberg, incoming California Assembly Speaker Karen Bass, and past Senate presidents such as John Burton. 

It is time for Berkeley to retire the undemocratic Loni Hancock-Tom Bates machine. Over the past 25 years both of them have been elected mayor of Berkeley and both have been elected as Assembly members. They have failed to get much done. The polluted air in west Berkeley from Pacific Steel continues. The street crime in South Berkeley continues. Every developer, who wants to build a massive building, is given special treatment by the Hancock/Bates machine. In return, Hancock and Bates get huge cash donation whenever they run for office from these very same developers. Do you remember the so-called good environmental development (the Brower Center) that was forced on Berkeley last year? Go take a walk or drive by the corner of Oxford and Kittredge/Addison Streets. Look up at the monstrosity that is being built there. This is not “green” development. The neighbors are calling it the “Green Monster.” 

The Hancock-Bates machine gave that Berkeley city land to their friend. It was the last parking lot in the central business district. Their friend simply cut down an entire block of trees (how green is that?) They have also used so much of the Berkeley city budget to subsidize this friend and campaign donor’s project, that the Berkelely budget is now in the red. Hancock and Bates are now planning on asking you to pay more taxes just to pay for your fire, police, and other essential services. Why are the developers backing Hancock? Why are Chevron, Bayer, Union Pacific, P.G.& E., Chlorox, Pfizer, and Waste Management backing Hancock? It is time to break with corrupt politicians. 

It is time to begin to elect clean, progressive candidates such as Wilma Chan. She is depending on citizens, like you, to come forward and help her win the June Democratic primary for state senator. Come join the campaign of “Berkeley neighborhoods and Neighbors” for Wilma Chan. You can see more at her website, wilmachan.org. 

 

Barry Wolfsy writes on behalf of the Martin Luther King/Milvia Alliance.


Columns

Wild Neighbors: Egrets, Deer and Prince Kropotkin

By Joe Eaton
Tuesday March 25, 2008
A great egret, perched on a fence at Lake Merritt.
Ron Sullivan
A great egret, perched on a fence at Lake Merritt.

Partnerships across species lines aren’t all that uncommon in nature. Where Darwin saw evolution as a process of deadly competition, the Russian aristocrat-anarchist Pyotor Kropotkin observed “mutual aid” everywhere-cooperative behavior not just within species, as in the beehive or wolfpack, but even between unrelated creatures. 

The association can be as tight as the symbiosis of the fungus and alga that form a lichen, or the ancient bond between two kinds of single-celled organisms that may have given rise to all complex life. Or it may be a transient connection, a chance opportunity taken. Commensal foraging is one of those loose mutualisms, in which a predator hangs out with another animal whose activities are likely to turn up lunch—“commensal,” after all, meaning “sharing a table.” 

The legendary hunting association between the American badger and the coyote is a good example of commensal foraging. The relationship is mostly to the coyote’s advantage: the badger, with its powerful forelegs and claws, may unearth rodents that the canid would otherwise never see. And if the prey escapes the badger, the coyote has a better shot at chasing it down. There’s really nothing in it for the badger, which would prefer to be left alone. 

Once in the inner Coast Range I saw a red-tailed hawk that appeared to be using a badger as a beater, hovering above the carnivore like a satellite in geosynchronous orbit. The badger was way too big to have interested the hawk as prey, but whatever it flushed might have been tasty. 

Some of the best-documented commensal-foraging relationships involve other birds and mammals: warblers with armadillos, falcons with maned wolves, herons with manatees. One heron, the cattle egret, even gets its name from its tendency to follow large ungulates around. These chunky white birds, native to Africa and Asia, have colonized the Americas and Australia as well, exploiting the cattle niche wherever they’ve gone. Singly or in flocks, they trail along behind the cows—or, depending on the continent, rhinos or water buffaloes—and snatch insects and other prey disturbed by the hoof traffic. In the absence of cattle, they’ll follow tractors. 

Cattle egrets used to turn up in the Bay Area more often. There’s still a large population in the Imperial Valley, but they’ve become scarce north of there. I believe the lone bird that used to winter at Lake Merritt’s Rotary Science Center failed to return this season. 

It’s rarer for the native North American egrets to engage in commensal foraging. I’ve heard of observations involving snowy egrets, mainly in the Southeast. But the great egret hadn’t been caught in the act until November 2006, when Garth and Heidi Herring, apparently visiting from Florida, stopped to observe a couple of small herds of black-tailed deer at Bodega Head. What they saw was recently published in the journal Western Birds. 

The Herrings saw a great egret, which had been loitering near the deer herds, fly into a herd and land near its center. Five minutes later, a second egret joined the second herd. Each appeared to select a deer, which it followed at a distance of up to six feet for the next half hour. The birds were observed plunging their beaks into the grass and acting as if they were swallowing prey, although it was impossible to identify what they had caught. Voles would be a strong possibility: great egrets and great blue herons are serious rodent-eaters.  

Note, again, that this is a one-sided association. The deer don’t benefit from the company of the egrets, although if there were still mountain lions and grizzly bears at Bodega Head, it might be a different story. Other birds do act as sentinels for their commensal associates. In this case, if anything the deer might be a bit inconvenienced by the tagalong birds. 

Whether it’s a one-off observation or a hint at more widespread behavior that we’ve just missed, this is an interesting example of behavioral flexibility on the egrets’ part. It reminds us that birds aren’t just automatons, driven by inflexible instincts. To some extent, they can improvise to take advantage of novel situations, a tendency that may reach its highest development in corvids and parrots. 

You also have to wonder if the egrets were reenacting a very old relationship with long-gone partners. Asia and African didn’t always have a monopoly on megafauna. It might have been really rewarding for a great egret to follow a mammoth around.  

 

 

Joe Eaton’s “Wild Neighbors” column appears every other Tuesday in the Berkeley Daily Planet, alternating with Ron Sullivan’s “Green Neighbors” column on East Bay trees.


Column: Undercurrents: African-Americans Do Not Have the Luxury of Ignoring the Race Issue

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Friday March 21, 2008

My mother’s older relatives lived through the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906, an event that has no parallel in our times. One of the favorite family stories was passed down from one of her uncles, Theodore (always called Uncle Thee with a soft-sound on the “th”), who walked about in downtown San Francisco an hour or so after the quake through streets littered with overturned carriages and dead dray horses and fallen bricks, the surrounding wooden buildings just beginning to be licked by the flames that would later engulf and destroy much of the city. It must have been a scene reminiscent of hell, and indicative of God’s vengeance on a sinful humanity. So reminiscent and indicative, in fact, that Uncle Thee said that when he met up with a white fellow walking numbly through the same chaotic streets, the white fellow rushed up to him, dropped to his knees, hugged his arms around Uncle Thee’s legs, and shouted, “Save me, brother! O, save me!” 

In those days, barely a generation out of slavery, African-Americans were still considered by many white folk to be a simple, primitive, spiritual people who—because of our supposed simplicity and primitivity and our spirituality and the suffering we had endured on earth—we were thought to be closer in touch with God. 

Uncle Thee’s reaction to the white fellow’s importunation has been lost to history, though having heard tales of some of his other biting remarks, I do not imagine that the request was considered with much favor. 

African-Americans have long since lost our place as the spiritual saviors of America (I am tempted to add “thank God,” but that seems too close to blasphemy). But considering the events of recent days concerning the presidential race, our role as the nation’s racial conscience seems a cross that we are forced to continue to bear, at least for the foreseeable future. 

An African-American presidential candidate who says his campaign is not based upon race—and who has not used race as a theme in his campaign—is forced to make a major speech on the issue of—guess what?—race. Why are we not surprised? And why are we not further surprised that of all the many candidates for national public office this year, it is only the black guy who has had to touch on this topic? 

The issue of race, it would seem, continues to be a topic that African-Americans must continue to have to address, whether we want to or not, while our white friends can pick it up or drop it, at their leisure. There is no disowning or disavowing or denying it. Not in this generation. Or my parents’ or grandparents’ generations. Or my children or grandchildren’s generations, down as far as I can see. 

Some thoughts. 

Two of my daughters graduated from the University of California at Berkeley. During their time there, they learned to avoid late night walks past the white frat houses on fraternity row. Too many times, they said, they were greeted in the night with calls of “why don’t you go back where you came from?” 

Where they came from? Our family came to California before the beginning of the Civil War, one group by coach along the northern land route, the other by taking sea transportation down to Panama, trekking across the Isthmus, and catching a boat back up to San Francisco. California’s population was not even 400,000 in 1860. There is a very small percentage of families of any nationality who can claim ancestry in this state from those days. And yet, some drunken white kids hanging out a frat house window feel empowered enough to believe that the daughters of that ancestry do not yet belong while the drunken fraternity white kids, of course, do. 

One of my daughters’ boyfriends gets stopped, regularly, by police while riding his bicycle through their Los Angeles neighborhood, forced to show his identification and explain where he is going and what he is about. When he protests, he is told that he lives in a “bad” neighborhood, so he should expect such scrutiny. 

I remember being told by a Charleston, South Carolina police officer a similar thing, almost 40 years ago, that I should always be prepared to give a cop an account of where I have been and what I have been doing over the past several hours. I was put over the hood of a police car and frisked, once, by another Charleston police officer after he discovered me late at night in the parking lot of the Charleston airport with the hood of a car up. It was only after he had determined my identification, and that I was unarmed, that he learned, upon asking, that I was under the hood because I had returned on a flight to find the battery dead and that this, in fact, was my car. He left without either an apology or an offer to help me get my car started. 

In the ’90s, I did an article on successful African-Americans continuing to face racism in Silicon Valley, interviewing a Santa Clara County judge who no longer went to local department stores because she got tired of being followed around by store security while white patrons went ignored, or the African-American man in hospital greens who was asked by the elderly white patient at Stanford Hospital to empty her bedpan, the woman only learning later, and not from him, that he was actually the surgeon who was scheduled to operate on her brain the next morning. 

But that is nothing. 

On Sept. 16, 1963, sickened by the events of the day before, I went to my American History class and refused to put my hand over my heart and say the pledge of allegiance to the American flag. If you are interested enough in knowing what happened on Sept. 15, you can look it up. For my part, my mind moved forward to the words “and justice for all,” and I knew that in all good conscience, I could not repeat those words. I stood respectfully with the rest of my class that day, as always, but kept my mouth closed and did not say the words. That silent, respectful protest was not respectful enough for my teacher, however. I was booted out of my college prep class and down into the backwater civics class, where the teacher put his feet up on the desk and spent the first 20 minutes of class time, often, telling us how his wife’s pregnancy was getting along. I do not remember if we were furnished with a book. 

Thus, my punishment, for my lack of loudly professed loyalty to America. 

Older now, and having seen more in my life, I do not even bother to stand during the various public displays of the pledge. 

Anger smolders when I think of what I might answer if someone, at one of these events, were to confront me and ask me why. 

But the great African-American secret—if you need to be let in on it—is that anger smolders in almost all African-Americans of my generation, my parents’ generation before me, and my children’s generation after. There is a duality about the psychology of African-Americans that seems easy to understand—given our history and experiences in this still, sometimes strange land—but far too often seems unfathomable to clueless outsiders who wonder, “why are those Black People mad?” or, alternatively, “what do they have to be mad about?” 

To be African-American—it has often been said—is to daily, voluntarily practice lunacy. To honestly face our condition and our history in this nation would force us either into actual madness or violence. And so, to maintain equilibrium, the African-American fools himself—daily, hourly, constantly—making a pretense that the world and its conditions are not what they actually are, inducing a mild form of insanity—a denial of the world as it is—to prevent an actual insanity. 

And so I listen to the most famous sermon-snippet of Reverend Jeremiah Wright—Barack Obama’s pastor—and the words “the government gives them drugs, and builds bigger prisons, and passes a three strikes law, and then wants us to sing ‘God bless America?’ No. God damn America. It’s in the Bible.” And I hear a deep echo in my own feelings. And I know—just from the knowing, as well as from conversation and testimony—that the words have a deep resonance across African-America, as well. 

But now it is supposed to be up to Barack Obama to explain why African-Americans might have a cause to feel this way, as well as denouncing those feelings as a prerequisite for entering the presidential club. And bless his heart, he did a bang-up job of it, despite all the difficulties. 

But this has always been the difficulty—the contradiction, to use the favorite ’60s word--of an African-American running for American president. He, or she, must attempt to hold onto the two polar opposite ends of an electrically-charged duality that others are allowed to step around. 

Meanwhile, we are told we must profess our loyalty to a country that is founded upon the principle that rebellion against an oppressive government is not only a right, it is a responsibility. 

And then daily we see the jails filling up with young African-American men—their futures lost—and drugs and the accompanying theft and violence devastating our communities, and the core of many black families collapsing, and the public education system deteriorating, and we are told that these do not constitute a condition of oppression, they constitute an unfortunate social condition that has no historical roots. But then, King George III, the British monarch who oversaw the last days of England’s colonial empire in mid-Atlantic America, believed until the end of his days that he was the rightful ruler of America, a benevolent father facing ungrateful, recalcitrant children. 

We always have a different view of things, depending upon which porch we’re sitting on. 

And thus, African-Americans have a far different view of the American experience than many of our neighbors and fellow Americans, and that even with such a different view, we have remained among the most loyal of Americans, dying in every war, even when we knew we were returning to many parts of the nation that shunned us. One can do both, you know. And we have been doing it that way for quite some time. Why, in 2008, should any of this be met with such expressions of shock? It makes one believe that a lot of folks have not really been paying attention.


East Bay Then and Now: Allenoke Manor Was a Scene of Hospitality for 5 Decades

By Daniella Thompson
Friday March 21, 2008
The south elevation of Allenoke Manor faces the gardens and Ridge Road.
Daniella Thompson
The south elevation of Allenoke Manor faces the gardens and Ridge Road.

When Berkeley boosters publicized the city circa 1905, they invariably pointed to the 1700 block of Le Roy Avenue as their shining example. Situated one block to the north of the UC campus, the short stretch between Le Conte Avenue and Ridge Road boasted two of Berkeley’s most opulent and ballyhooed residences: the Volney D. Moody house, known as “Weltevreden,” and the Allen G. Freeman house, “Allenoke.” Each was designed by a fashionable architect (A.C. Schweinfurth and Ernest Coxhead, respectively) and was clad in clinker brick-a material popular with Arts and Crafts builders. 

The two estates were separated by the north fork of Strawberry Creek, which could be traversed by two clinker-brick bridges. 

Allenoke’s owner, Allen Gleason Freeman (1853-1930), was born on a farm in Flushing, Michigan, the third of seven children. As a teenager, he worked on the farm, as did his elder brothers. Eventually he migrated to Chicago and entered the firm of J.K. Armsby Co., wholesale commission merchants who would come to control the distribution of fresh and dried California fruit and Alaskan salmon. It was probably in Chicago that Freeman met his future wife, Jessie Katherine Marsh (1858-1940), who was listed in the 1880 U.S. census as a reporter living in Hyde Park, Cook County, IL. Their marriage took place on May 25, 1887. 

The Freemans appeared in San Francisco the same year. By now, Allen was general manager of J.K. Armsby Co. In 1903, the company’s office would be located at 138 Market St. and include canned fruit, dried fruit & raisin, and bean departments. The canned fruit was marketed under the Argo, Ambassador, and Red Dart labels. Later, George Newell Armsby, the founder’s son, would engineer the merger that gave birth to the California Packing Corporation (Calpak), whose most famous brand was Del Monte. 

Living in San Francisco and then in Oakland, the Freemans were active members of the Unitarian Church. In 1890, Mrs. Freeman was treasurer of the newly established Pacific Coast Woman’s Unitarian Conference. The founding of the First Unitarian Church of Berkeley in 1891 gave the couple a reason to move here. 

In 1897, the congregation purchased land on the corner of Dana and Bancroft, and the following year, a shingled church designed by Schweinfurth was erected (it is now the University Dance Studio). The Freemans lived nearby, in a duplex at 2401 Telegraph Ave., which was then a highly desirable address. Duncan McDuffie would occupy the other flat in 1904, and Louis Titus lived a short block to the north. In 1902, Freeman and Titus were among the founding directors of the University Savings Bank of Berkeley. 

As the character of Telegraph Avenue was being transformed from high-end residential to apartments and retail blocks, the well-to-do began to move out. But even before the first business block went up, Allen Freeman bought a large parcel on the corner of Ridge Road and Le Roy Avenue, in Daley’s Scenic Park. Volney Moody, another Unitarian, had already built a manse on the same block in 1896, and a year earlier, the Unitarian Maybeck heralded the birth of the local Arts and Crafts movement by designing a brown-shingle house for Charles Keeler two blocks to the east. 

Schweinfurth, the architect of the Moody house and the First Unitarian Church, was already dead in 1903, when Freeman engaged the firm of Coxhead & Coxhead to design his house. Ernest Coxhead (1863-1933), like Maybeck and Schweinfurth an important early shaper of the First Bay Region Tradition, was English-born and -trained. In 1886, he and his older brother Almeric (1862-1928) established a practice in Los Angeles, moving to San Francisco four years later. 

Ten years prior to the Freeman commission, Coxhead designed the Beta Theta Pi fraternity house (now Goldman School of Public Policy) a block away. It resembled a row of houses in an old English village. For Freeman, Coxhead created a large Colonial Revival house with oversized gambrel dormers on the north and south façades. 

In many respects, Allenoke owes a debt to the Los Angeles house of business tycoon and art collector Edwin Tobias Earl, who in 1890 invented the refrigerated railroad car for shipping oranges to the East Coast. An earlier Coxhead design, the Earl house was built at 2425 Wilshire Bvld. in 1895-98 and demolished in 1957. Both houses featured steep roofs set with disproportionately large dormers (albeit in different styles); a projecting front porch fenestrated with arched openings on three sides and crowned with a neo-classical balustrade; a large, rectangular windowed bay projecting from the living room; and clinker brick exteriors. As in many other Coxhead residences, the rustic exterior belies a formal, rich interior. 

Allenoke was completed in 1904 and thrown open that fall in a series of cello and piano recitals performed by Frederick Stickney Gutterson and his wife Minnie Marie, who had recently returned from Europe. The San Francisco Call described the first recital on Nov. 8 as “one of the smartest musical affairs that has taken place on this side of the bay,” adding, “Mr. and Mrs. Freeman have just finished one of the most artistic residences in Berkeley.” The audience included “Oakland’s elite as well as society of the college town,” among them professors Soule, Rising, and Haskell; notable neighbors such as the Moodys, the Keelers, photographer Oscar Maurer, and Thomas Rickard, president of the Town Board of Trustees from 1903 to 1909; architect Clinton Day, and painter William Keith. 

The childless Freemans entertained regularly and famously. A luncheon offered in March 1908 for Professor Jacques Loeb’s mother-in-law numbered among its guests the wives of developer Frank C. Havens and UC president Benjamin Ide Wheeler. “The menu was served in Mrs. Freeman’s Chinese dining room,” informed the San Francisco Call, adding, “The details of the affair were carried out in the Chinese fashion.” 

A prominent clubwoman and patron of the arts, Katherine Freeman directed her charitable impulses toward the Berkeley Day Nursery and the Fabiola Hospital in Oakland. Her husband, meanwhile, went into business for himself, founding the Continental Salt & Chemical Company (later Alviso Salt Co.). He also became an importer and traveled regularly to Russia, Japan, Scandinavia, and Western Europe. Katherine accompanied him on some of these business trips. 

In 1919, the Freemans erected a Georgian Revival carriage house across the street, at 2533 Ridge Road. Mirroring the materials of the main house (clinker brick walls, slate roof) and reviving the oversized neo-classical elements so often used by Coxhead (dormers, porch pediment), this charming two-story structure was designed by Clarence A. Tantau (1884-1943), a Bay Area architect best known for his Spanish-style buildings. The carriage house sports two decorative chimneys, two hipped and one arched dormer gables, a fanciful glazed entrance porch on the second floor, and an enormous carriage lantern appended to the façade. 

The Allenoke estate, intact to this day, boasts a formal garden designed in 1923 and featuring a pergola, two fountains, and flower beds bordered by boxwood hedges. The imposing entrance gate is constructed of the same clinker bricks used for building the house and the surrounding wall.  

Mrs. Freeman died in January 1940, leaving an estate of close to $285,000. Wishing her house to go on being used “for the pleasure of many people,” she willed it to Robert Sibley, executive manager of the California Alumni Association. Between 1912 and 1924, Sibley and his family had lived around the corner, five of those years as tenants in the house of Mrs. Freeman’s sister. 

After making various bequests to relatives and friends (including a combined $54,000 to Sibley and his wife), Mrs. Freeman willed the residue of her estate to the University of California. However, when the State inheritance tax appraiser filed his report on Sept. 27, 1941, it transpired that bequests and taxes had reduced UC’s residue to a mere $1,181. 

A notable conservationist and hiking enthusiast, Sibley (1881-1958) led the movement that resulted in the 1933 legislation establishing the East Bay Regional Park District on EBMUD surplus watershed lands. He served as director and president of the district from 1948 until his death in 1958. In Sibley’s honor, one of his favorites parks, Round Top, was renamed Robert Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve. 

During the 1940s, the Sibleys entertained countless students and alumni at Allenoke. In 1952, they published their recollections in the book University of California Pilgrimage: A Treasury of Tradition, Lore and Laughter, where they recount that “one time we had 400 people for breakfast.” 

Robert’s second wife, Carol (1902-1986), was a well-known community figure in her own right. She served as president of the Berkeley School Board from 1961 to 1971 and presided over the successful racial integration of Berkeley’s public schools (as well as surviving a recall attempt launched against her and other board members who had voted for the program, the first voluntary desegregation of a public school district in the United States). She contributed her time and energy to many civic groups, including the charitable organization A Dream for Berkeley, and was a founder of the All Berkeley Coalition (ABC), which played a key role in Berkeley politics in the 1980s. 

Following Robert Sibley’s retirement, the couple built several rental income units on the Allenoke estate. In 1949, a two-story, four-unit, flat-roofed redwood & stucco apartment building was erected in front of the carriage house by architect-builder John F. Pruyn. The following year, two similar buildings were constructed along the north portion of the main property. In 1956, the southern part of the clinker brick wall along Le Roy Avenue was replaced by four garages with a trellised roof garden. Another three-car garage was carved out of the brick wall in 1959. The same year, following Robert Sibley’s death, Carol Sibley converted the main house—made a duplex in 1952—into six units.  

The 2533 Ridge Road carriage-house property was willed to Robert’s daughter Catherine, a protegée of Max Reinhardt and responsible for bringing his famous production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” to Faculty Glade. In 1976, Mrs. Sibley built a Japanese-style pavilion, designed by Michael Severin, between the two apartment buildings north of the main house. There she lived until the end of her life. 

In the late 1980s, Allenoke was acquired by Dr. Frederick M. “Ted” Binkley (1924-2006) and his wife Marian. An eminent vascular surgeon at UCSF, Binkley had played varsity football and basketball as a student at Cal and lived at the Phi Kappa Psi house, located a block away from Allenoke, at 2625 Hearst Avenue. Under the Binkleys’ watch, Allenoke was restored to it original grandeur and single-family use. It was designated a City of Berkeley Landmark in November 1986. 

 

 

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


Garden Variety: The Accidental Gardener Confesses, or Brags

By Ron Sullivan
Friday March 21, 2008
Salsify—“oyster plant”—is a common local weed with an edible root.
Ron Sullivan
Salsify—“oyster plant”—is a common local weed with an edible root.

I do have a modest talent for growing things. The catch is that what grows isn’t always what I had in mind.  

I accidentally raised a colony of mushrooms in my former truck’s cab—Peziza domiciliana, the North American bathroom mushroom. Fungi are commonly uninvited garden (and bathroom) guests. Sometimes they portend disaster, like armillaria around an oak. Sometimes they’re a fairy ring gracing a lawn. Sometimes they’re a pure gift. When we first moved to this house, I was in raging despair over the sullen, poorly drained clay. After a day of wrestling with it (and losing) we found a morel. One morel. It was a shill; we haven’t seen a morel since, even after soggy winters, but it was a brief consolation.  

I am also learning to eat the weeds. I suspect this is a hardwired survival trait. Before I’d made my mind up about what to put in one bare spot, a sprawly octopus of purslane-verdolaga-had homestaked it. Guess what? It tastes a bit like sorrel, and it’s crunchy. I’m not stalking the wild asparagus here (though I have seen it in ditches in the Delta) but knowing I can eat some invaders makes gardening somehow less of a war. 

I’d learned about purslane just in time. I still slap myself now for passing up that nasty-looking corn my friend Ray grew in his yard years ago. It had some ominous gray swollen kernels… Yes, huitlacoche, a.k.a. cuitlacoche, a.k.a. corn smut. That name must be designed to fend off the hoi polloi. 

At the time, Ray had one of those gardens where half the weeds are purple potatoes and half are poison hemlock. You do want to know what you’re biting into.  

I am both tantalized and appalled at the furious spread of feral Chinese chives—miles of it along roadsides in Marin, and patches in isolated parks where endangered plants live. They’re tasty; maybe we can eat them all. Just don’t admit their provenance. 

Then again, I’ve seen pickleweed going for over $5 a pound: that jointed crunchy stuff that covers most of the Bay’s salt marshes. I’m keeping an eye out for a clean wild source. I have enough water for it in my yard most winters, but it’s not saltwater.  

I started young, gardening accidentally. When I was a kid, one thing we did around Halloween was shell out dry corn kernels and throw them to rattle against people’s windows at night. (It was an innocent time.) I threw some at my own front window, and that spring Dad mulched the shrubs. Suddenly we had cornstalks. They bore a few ears: we ate some, and the rest dried and shelled out nicely.  

Sometimes, though, I have to accept the plant’s idea of placement. I dropped a potted Lady Banks’ rose by the driveway and forgot it for a month. It grew through its pot and now blooms at my second-story kitchen window. Hummingbirds and bushtits nest in it. 

My garden’s no better organized than my wardrobe, but cultivating surprise is so pleasant I’ll call it a talent.


About the House: Who’s Buried in the Yard?

By Matt Cantor
Friday March 21, 2008

I crawled out from underneath someone’s house the other day and placed in the hands of a brow-knit homeowner, a pithy black rock. Before she could form the words for what she could not quite specify, I said “Coal … Anthracite, I think” (as though I know anything about coal). Since she continued to bear that befuddled look, I explained that I’d been under the house and that there, near the furnace, I’d found a few of these black shiny artifacts of geophysics. 

“I’m fairly certain that the hulk of a furnace in the crawlspace was once a coal burning device” I said and that it had been converted from this to natural gas at some point, perhaps 90 years ago. But that wasn’t my real concern. A few piece of coal in the crawlspace aren’t particularly dangerous although the converted furnace was long overdue for replacement.  

My concern was related but only as a first cousin removed once or twice. Earlier in the day, I had noticed a pipe running up the side of the house that seemed to stop, think a while, go back down an inch or two and just give up. Oh, I said to myself. Could there be an oil tank on the property. 

In the first two decades of the twentieth century, oil tanks were being used a fair amount in our area. Fuel oil, still commonly used in the East Coast was used to run central heating systems. Some of these systems heated water and some heated air and used ducting. While virtually none of these exist in working form today (I’ve never seen one ‘round these parts) the tanks and piping may still be lurking beneath your soil. 

As regulations regarding safe ground water have developed over the past few decades, this issue has brought with it some financial hazards. As a homeowner, you may be held accountable, should a tank of this kind be found and known to leak.  

Discovery of a tank requires that it be examined to determine if it IS leaking. If a tank is found to be leaking, it will have to be removed along with enough soil to assure that the ground water is safe.  

And water is the issue. Water is an increasingly precious resource and local harvesting of water may be on its way back as the cost of water and water delivery increases in coming decades. 

Tim Hallen of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Tank Removal helped me get some of my facts straight. While most tanks are not leaking, it’s almost impossible to tell if they have, until a tank has been removed. Further, all tanks will eventually leak, so keeping one is a bad idea.  

Once your tank is removed (this may be in the ballpark of ten grand) the soil can then be tested and removed to some extent if needed. Removal of soil is generally in the three to six thousand dollar range including backfilling with clean soil. 

Communities vary in the cleanliness required in the soil around tanks. While an Oakland house may allow as much as one hundred PPM petroleum hydrocarbon, some areas allow no detectable amount and may demand increased soils replacement. 

If you’re living on a property that was used as a residence over eighty years ago, you may want to look for some of the following items as they may indicate the presence of an oil tank: 

Small diameter tubing in the area of the furnace or in an area that previously housed a furnace. This can include a pair of quarter inch copper tubes or a single small diameter galvanized pipe. Other signs are pipes that make a U-turn after they come up out of the ground near the house exterior. This is a breather for the oil tank and is essentially, an open pipe that won’t take on rain water by being turned downward. 

I’m told, but have never seen, a pump and wiring system in the crawlspace for pumping heavy oil. This may go along with the dual tubing I mentioned above. Apparently, when great grandpa bought the oil system, an array of numbered oil grades were available (ranging from Bunker oil, whatever that was, to the more familiar diesel oil). 

Lastly, there may be signs of a tank in the form of a cover, cap or medallion in the driveway or sidewalk. These are fill caps and no different from the one on your car. Remove them (if you can) and you’ll find (or smell) an oil storage system. 

Tim tells me that most tanks aren’t leaking today (his rough guess was 95 percent) but that many tank removal companies will claim higher numbers so beware of those who want to perform further soil removal when it’s not necessary. A second opinion after removal may be your only option. 

If you have a tank, it’s most likely to be near the sidewalk for the simple reason that it was easiest to install. A typical size is about ten feet long and five-feet wide (goodness!) so it’s quite a project taking one out. A backyard tank may be smaller. 

Expect oil to remain inside. The output tubing on these tanks wasn’t at the bottom so they tend to still have some oil, even if they were run to a sputter. 

While it can be a hard call deciding when to have an expert out to check the property, the cost is really quite small. For about $75 you can have an expert check your property for a tank. My feeling is that if the property you’re on is older (including those that bore a previous home), it’s cheap assurance to have this done.  

If you’re in a neighborhood that was likely to have had a large furnace in the aught through the ‘30s (larger houses generally) it’s worth the money. 

Rachel Carson said, “In an age when man has forgotten his origins and is blind even to his most essential needs for survival, water along with other resources has become the victim of his indifference.” 

That indifference may soon become a pressing and intimately personal matter in the coming decades.  

Discovering your own role in tainting that vital resource may, today, seem an irrelevant nuisance but tomorrow may make all the difference. 

 

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


Arts & Events

Arts Calendar

Tuesday March 25, 2008

TUESDAY, MARCH 25 

READINGS AND LECTURES 

Ed Coletti and Lynne Knight read their poetry at 7:30 p.m. at Moe’s Books, 2476 Telegraph Ave. 849-2087. 

Eric Alterman describes “Why We Are Liberals: A Political Handbook for Post-Bush America” at 7:30 p.m. at First Congregational Church of Berkeley, 2345 Channing Way. 559-9500. 

MUSIC AND DANCE 

Kaspar/Sherman Jazz Quartet at 7 p.m. at the Berkeley Public Library, 2090 Kittredge St. 981-6241. 

Jewish Music Festival “Ladder of Gold” with Kaila Flexer and Gari Hegedus, at 7:30 p.m. at First Unitarian Church, 684 14th St., Oakland. 848-0237. www.jewishmusicfestival.org  

Gerard Landry & The Lariats at 8:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cajun dance lesson at 8 p.m. Cost is $10. 525-5054.  

Singers’ Open Mic with Kelly Park at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $5. 841-JAZZ. www.AnnasJazzIsland.com 

Randy Craig Trio at 7 p.m. at Caffe Trieste, 2500 San Pablo Ave., at Dwight. 548-5198.  

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

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 26 

READINGS AND LECTURES 

Richard Price introduces “Lush Life” a new novel, at 7 p.m. at Cody’s Books at 2201 Shattuck, next to the almost open new store. 559-9500.  

Writing Teachers Write at 5 p.m. at Nomad Cafe, 6500 Shattuck Ave. 595-5344.  

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. 

Five Play at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $8. 841-JAZZ.  

Grooveyard at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 843-8277. 

Karabali at 9:30 p.m. at Shattuck Down Low, 2284 Shattuck Ave. Salsa dance lessons at 8:30 p.m. Cost is $5-$10. 548-1159.  

Mikie Lee and Amber at 10 p.m. at Beckett’s Irish Pub, 2271 Shattuck Ave. 647-1790.  

Audrey Auld Mezera & Andrew Hardin at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $17.50-$18.50. 548-1761.  

Theatrum Musicum at 7 p.m. at Le Bateau Ivre, 2629 Telegraph Ave. www.lebateauivre.net 

David Sanborn at 8 and 10 p.m. at Yoshi’s at Jack London Square, through Sun. Cost is $35-$40. 238-9200.  

THURSDAY, MARCH 27 

THEATER 

“Amor Cubano” Written and performed by Maceo Cabrera Estevez at 8 p.m. through Sat. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $5-$20. 849-2568.  

READINGS AND LECTURES 

“Sustainable Stewardship: Historic Preservation’s Essential Role in Fighting Climate Change” with Richard Moe, President of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, at 7:30 p.m. at First Church of Christ, Scientist, 2619 Dwight Way. Jon Carroll, San Francisco Chronicle columnist, will also speak. Suggested donation $20; free admission for students with ID. A reception will follow the address. Proceeds go to the preservation work at the Church. 841-2242.  

Jim Hightower “Swim Against the Current: Even a Dead Fish Can Go with the Flow” at 7:30 p.m. at First Congregational Church of Berkeley, 2345 Channing Way. Tickets are $12-$15. www.brownpapertickets.com  

Daniel P. Gregory, lecture and slideshow on “Cliff May and the Modern Ranch House”at 7:30 p.m. at Mrs. Dalloways, 2904 College Ave. 704-8222. 

MUSIC AND DANCE 

Jewish Music Festival “Chen Zimbalista and Friends” percussion at 7:30 p.m. at St. John’s Presbyterian Church: 2727 College Ave. Tickets are $20-$24. 848-0237.  

Jeffrey Foucault at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $18.50-$19.50. 548-1761.  

Rick Vandevivier Trio at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $10. 841-JAZZ.  

Talking Wood, Afro roots, at 7 p.m. at Caffe Trieste, 2500 San Pablo Ave. 548-5198.  

Fred O’dell and the Broken Arrows at 10 p.m. at Beckett’s Irish Pub, 2271 Shattuck Ave. 647-1790.  

FRIDAY, MARCH 28 

THEATER 

Altarena Playhouse “Chicago” Fri. and Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 2 p.m. at Altarena Playhouse, 1409 High St., Alameda, through April 12. Tickets are $17-$20. 523-1553.  

“Amor Cubano” Written and performed by Maceo Cabrera Estevez at 8 p.m. through Sat. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $5-$20. 849-2568.  

Berkeley Rep ”Wishful Drinking” with Carrie Fisher, at the Roda Theater, 2015 Addison St., through March 30. Tickets are $33-$69. 647-2949. 

Masquers Playhouse “Tartuffe” Fri.-Sat. at 8 p.m., some Sun. matinees at 2:30 p.m. at 105 Park Place, Pt. Richmond, through April 26. Tickets are $18. 232-4031. www.masquers.org 

Shotgun Players “Mrs. Warren’s Profession” by George Bernard Shaw. Thurs.-Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 5 p.m., through April 27, at The Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby Ave. Tickets are $17-$25. 841-6500.  

EXHIBITIONS 

“My Sister, My Sister” A personal response to homelessness, poetry by Zelma Brown, Photography by Meredith Stout. Opening reception at 7 p.m. at the Women’s Cancer Resource Center, 5741 Telegraph Ave., Oakland. Screening of “Walking in My Shoes” at 8 p.m. Show runs to April 25. 601-4040, ext. 111. 

“Peace is Possible” Works by artists who are changing the world through creativity, Wavy Gravy and Carolyna Marks. Reception at 7 p.m. at 4th Street Studio, 1717d 4th St. 527-0600. 

“Pet Art” from Expressions Gallery on display at Just Pet Me Country Club, 2545 Broadway, Oakland to June 30. A portion of the proceeds from art sales with be donated to the Berkeley Humane Society. 500-5595. 

“Beyond the Studio: Community Collaborations” Exhibition of works by students in the Arts and Consciousness program on display to April 5 at Joh F. Kennedy’s University Arts Annex, 2956 San Pablo Ave., 2nd flr. 486-8118. 

READINGS AND LECTURES 

Richard Silberg and Thomas Centolella, poets, at 7:30 p.m. at Pegasus Books Downtown, 2349 Shattuck Ave. 649-1320. 

David King Dunaway reads from the revised edition “How Can I Keep From Singing? The Ballad of Pete Seeger” at 7:30 p.m. at Mrs. Dalloways, 2904 College Ave. 704-8222. 

R.Black discusses his art and new book “Futura: L’Art de R.Black” at 7:30 p.m. at Book Zoo 6395 Telegraph Ave., Oakland. 654-BOOK. 

Morton Felix and Stanford Rose, followed by open mic at 7 p.m. at Expressions Gallery, 2035 Ashby Ave. www.expressionsgallery.org 

MUSIC AND DANCE 

Berkeley Opera “L’Elisir d’Amore” at 8 p.m. at Julia Morgan Center for the Arts, 2640 College Ave. Tickets are $10-$44. 925-798-1300.  

Bay Area Classical Harmonies “David Rogers: Guitar and Lute” at 7:30 p.m. at The Pro Arts Gallery, 550 Second St., Oakland. Tickets are $12-$18. 868-0695.  

Thomas Pandolfi, pianist, at 8 p.m. at The Berkeley Hillside Club, 2286 Cedar St. Cost is $10-$15. 845-1350. 

Lisa B Quintet at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $12. 841-JAZZ.  

Sambada, Afro, Brazilian, funk, at 9 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $10-$13. 525-5054.  

Beth Waters at 8 p.m. at Caffe Trieste, 2500 San Pablo Ave., at Dwight. 548-5198.  

House Jacks at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $19.50-$20.50. 548-1761.  

Jessica Rice, Sacred Profanities at 7:30 p.m. at Nomad Cafe. 595-5344. 

The Dave Stein Bubhub at 10 p.m. at Beckett’s Irish Pub, 2271 Shattuck Ave. 647-1790.  

Slydini at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 843-8277. 

Julie Dexter, Jordana, R&B, at 8 p.m. at Maxwell’s Lounge, 341 13th St., Oakland. Cost is $10-$15. 839-6169. 

David Sanborn at 8 and 10 p.m. at Yoshi’s at Jack London Square, through Sun. Cost is $35-$40. 238-9200. 

SATURDAY, MARCH 29 

CHILDREN  

East Bay Children’s Theater “The Emperor’s New Clothes” at 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. at the Oakland Museum of California, 10th and Oak St. Cost is $10. 655-7285.  

Los Amiguitos de La Peña with Rafael Manriquez, songs in Spanish, at 10:30 a.m. at La Peña. Cost is $5 for adults, $4 for children. 849-2568.  

Music with Melita and Sarita at 11 a.m. at Studio Grow, 1235 Tenth St. Cost is $7. 526-9888. 

EXHIBITIONS 

“Earth Days” Works by Carrie Lederer, Irene Imfeld and Andrew Kaluzynski, opens at 1 p.m. at Oakopolis, 447 25th St., Oakland. Runs through May 3. 663-6920. 

“Beneath the Surface” Paintings and works on paper by Liz Mamorsky, assemblage sculpture by Paul Baker. Opening reception at 6 p.m. at The Float Center Gallery, 1091 Calcot Place, #116, Oakland. 535-1702. 

Fresh Paint 3.5 Group show closing reception from 2 to 4 p.m. at Montclair Gallery, 1986 Mountain Blvd., Oakland. 339-4286. 

READINGS AND LECTURES 

Vladimir Guerrero, author of “The Anza Trail and the Settling of California” will give a presentation on cultural assimilation and the racial make-up of Spanish California at 1 p.m. at Lakeview Library, 550 El Embarcadero, Oakland. 238-7344. 

Elizabeth Rosner, Berkeley author, speaks about writing at 2 p.m. at the Rockridge Library, 5366 College, Ave., Oakland. 597-5017. 

Jodi Picoult reads from “Change of Heart” at 7 p.m. at Cody’s Books at 2201 Shattuck, next to the almost open new store. 559-9500.  

MUSIC AND DANCE 

West Coast Blues Hall of Fame and Awards Show, performances and party, from 7 to 11 p.m. at Oakland Mariott City Center, 1001 Broadway, Oakland. Tickets are $30. 836-2227. www.bayareabluessociety.net 

Tchaikovsky Perm Ballet and Orchestra “Swan Lake” at 2 and 8 p.m. at Zellerbach Hall, UC Campus. Tickets are $34-$90. 642-9988.  

Davide Verotta, piano, at 8 p.m. at Trinity Chapel, 2320 Dana St. Tickets are $8-$12. 549-3864.  

The Dry Umbrella Tour with Seattle artists, Carrie Clark and Camille Bloom at 8 p.m. at Epic Arts Studios, 1923 Ashby Ave. Suggested donation $7.  

Ray Obiedo Group at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $14. 841-JAZZ. www.AnnasJazzIsland.com 

The Unreal Band, The Itchy Mountain Men at 9:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $10-$13. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com  

Khe Note at 7:30 p.m. at Nomad Cafe, 6500 Shattuck Ave. 595-5344.  

Bill Kirchen at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $20.50-$21.50. 548-1761.  

Zoe Ellis/Maya Kronfeld, swing, jazz, at 9 p.m. at Downtown. 649-3810.  

The Return of The P-PL at 10 p.m. at Beckett’s Irish Pub, 2271 Shattuck Ave. 647-1790. www.beckettsirishpub.com 

Five Eyed Hand at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 843-8277. 

SUNDAY, MARCH 30 

EXHIBITIONS 

“Beyond the Pattern: The Quintessence of Fashion” celebrating applied handwork, embroidery, and lace. Opening reception at 6 p.m. at Lacis Museum of Lace and Textiles, 3163 Adeline St. 843-7178.  

Enrique Chagoya: Borderlandia Guided tour at 2 p.m. at Berkeley Art Museum. Cost is $5.50-$9.50. 642-0808.  

READINGS AND LECTURES 

Mark Fischer “Where Nature, Science and Art Meet” A presentation on Whalesong Art at 1 p.m. at Expressions Gallery, 2035 Ashby Ave. 644-4930. 

“Contemporary Art in Cuba” with Terry McClain at 2 p.m. at the Berkeley Public Library, 2090 Kittredge St. 981-6100. 

MUSIC AND DANCE 

“Our Own Words” The Negro Spirituals Heritage Keepers, Friends of Negro Spirituals will celebrate the release of its Negro Spirituals Oral History DVDs and transcripts to the public at 3 p.m. at Mills College in Lisser Hall, 5000 MacArthur Blvd., Oakland. 869-4359. 

Berkeley Opera “L’Elisir d’Amore” at 2 p.m. at Julia Morgan Center for the Arts, 2640 College Ave. Tickets are $10-$44. 925-798-1300.  

Isadora Duncan’s Legacy With dancer Lois Flood and historian Joanna Harris at 2 p.m. at The Hillside Club, 2286 Cedar St. Suggested donation $15. 843-8982. www.hillsideclub.org 

Susan Matthews, organ, at 4 p.m. at St. John’s Presbyterian Church, 2727 College Ave. Tickets are $10-$20. 684-7563. 

Oakland Civic Orchestra at 4 p.m. at Lake Merritt United Methodist Church, 1330 Lakeshore Ave., Oakland. Free. 238-7275.  

Berkeley Symphony’s “Under Construction” at 7 p.m. at First Congregational Church of Berkeley. Tickets are $10-$20. 841-2800. www.berkeleysymphony.org  

Tchaikovsky Perm Ballet and Orchestra “Swan Lake” at 8 p.m. at Zellerbach Hall, UC Campus. Tickets are $34-$90. 642-9988.  

Junius Courtney Big Band at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $10. 841-JAZZ. www.AnnasJazzIsland.com 

Morris LeGrande at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $10. 841-JAZZ.  

David Grossman & Friends at 11 a.m. at Nomad Cafe, 6500 Shattuck Ave. 595-5344.  

Flamenco with Dani Torres at 5 p.m. at Caffe Trieste, 2500 San Pablo Ave. 548-5198.  

Mamadou & Vanessa, African, at 8 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $10. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

Carrie Newcomer, Krista Detor at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $18.50-$19.50. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 

MONDAY, MARCH 31 

READINGS AND LECTURES 

“Berkeley: A City in History” with author Chuck Wollenberg at 7 p.m. at the Berkeley Public Library, 2090 Kittredge. 981-6241. 

Ernest Bloch Lecture with Steve Mackey on “Whim and Rigor: Rethinking Musical Influence: Rock-tinged Lecture” at 8 p.m. at Hertz Hall, UC Campus. 642-4864. http://music.berkeley.edu 

Poetry Express Open mic theme night on “women role models” at 7 p.m. at Priya Restaurant, 2072 San Pablo Ave. 644-3977. 

MUSIC AND DANCE 

Trovatore, traditional Italian music, at 7 p.m. at Caffe Trieste, 2500 San Pablo Ave., at Dwight. 548-5198.  

Classical at the Freight: Kay Stern & Friends at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage Coffee House. Cost is $17.50-$18.50. 548-1761. 

Tia Caroll & Hard Work at 8 and 10 p.m. at Yoshi’s at Jack London Square. Cost is $10. 238-9200. www.yoshis.com 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Books: Prof. Joseph Voyle’s Buried Ancient City Under UC Berkeley

By Richard Schwartz
Tuesday March 25, 2008
Professor Joseph Voyle using his psychic compass divining rod to reveal to the public his newly discovered buried city under the UC Berkeley campus. From the San Francisco Call, June 22, 1908.
Professor Joseph Voyle using his psychic compass divining rod to reveal to the public his newly discovered buried city under the UC Berkeley campus. From the San Francisco Call, June 22, 1908.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the second of a three-part series featuring stories of forgotten Berkeley history excerpted from Richard Schwartz’s book Eccentrics, Heroes, and Cutthroats of Old Berkeley.  

 

The members of the Berkeley Society for Psychical Research were sure. Their president, Professor Joseph Voyle, and other officers were very sure. On June 21, 1908, the society announced that Voyle had discovered a huge prehistoric ceremonial site buried on the UC Berkeley campus. 

The members of the society were confident in their conclusions. It seemed perfectly logical to them that ancient people would have chosen to honor this place where Strawberry Creek was cloaked by bay, alder, sycamore, and oak trees, its lower banks shrouded in strawberry and watercress plants, where the ancient coast live oaks extended their gnarled limbs over the campus beneath the sheltering hills.  

Here, they would have enjoyed the commanding view of the Bay and Golden Gate, the mild weather, and the abundance of all forms of food. Indeed, many artifacts were found and graves uncovered during the construction of buildings in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries; it is certain that Native Americans lived on and around the UC Berkeley campus.  

Most UC Berkeley professors considered the society’s claims to be a little too fanciful—and totally unsubstantiated. Voyle said that he had discovered a buried grid of an ancient habitation or ceremonial site, claiming that he and his students had used psychic magnetic compasses, or divining rods, to probe the invisible force fields of attractive matter under the ground.  

He claimed that this grid, measuring 1,200 feet in each direction, was one of a system of grids established around Berkeley. The grid under the UC campus, he said, was the only one that was subdivided into 120-foot square plots, making it, according to his thinking, a ceremonial site used during a certain time of year. He believed the smaller grids were privately owned by members of the ancient society. Voyle claimed to have seen similar markings all across the American continent, from Oregon to Florida.  

Voyle’s claims were wild. According to the Berkeley Daily Gazette: 

 

The ambition of the collectors of antiquities seemed to have been attained when a row of ordinary everyday rocks was reached and made by the fertile brains of the searchers to resemble the walls of a prehistoric North Hall. 

Towards the close of the day Voyle led his disciples back to the university grounds, where he proceeded to make a test that he said proved conclusively that the seat of learning of California today was the prized resort of sun worshipers ages ago. The test consisted of sticking up a pole in the ground at sundown and following the shadow as a base line for observations. In explanation of this, Voyle said: 

“From Arab and Oriental mystics versed in Egyptian lore, I have learned that it was an ancient custom to stick a rod in the ground at sundown of June 21st, the day on which the sun reaches its northernmost point, and that the shadow cast was used as a base line for the observations of the ancient engineers. My compass responds to certain markings I am convinced lie beneath these grounds.” 

 

Despite the outrageousness of his claims, there was something about this charismatic man Voyle that led a considerable number of people to accept his theories.  

By 1908 he had turned his focus to the Berkeley grid. Voyle contended that the center of the grid was located near UC Berkeley’s Bacon Library, built in 1888, which stood (until it was demolished in 1961) just east of Sather Tower. Voyle claimed that the corners of this buried site were the Harmon Gym, Hearst Hall, the Greek Theatre, and the Hearst Mining Building.  

He believed that the first two campus buildings, North and South Halls, were right within the area of this buried prehistoric square-shaped city. Voyle claimed that the grid was made of some kind of matter laid down by the ancients. He further maintained that disturbances of the “attractive matter” of this prehistoric work were noted in the recent 1908 construction work on the Doe Library and the southwest corner of the Hearst Mining Building. He was sure that the founders of the university were subliminally affected by the buried site.  

According to Voyle, everything in the site was laid out with mathematical accuracy, though its orientation was not in a north-south direction. Rather, the orientation was the same as the one that the Egyptian pyramid builders used-along the line created by the shadow of a pole when the sun set on the summer and winter solstices, when the sun sets at its northernmost point on the western horizon.  

Voyle believed, though he did not yet have exact proof, that these lines ran about thirty degrees north of west. If a pole was placed at the southwest corner of this ancient square on UC campus, which was west of South Hall, the shadow cast by the pole on June 21 would run directly on or very near to the edge of this buried ancient grid.  

While the professor did not claim to have solved the entire mystery of the site, he believed that his speculations could be supported by the location’s incontrovertible beauty:  

 

What the object of this particular subdivision of this prehistoric square was, I know of no way of deciding: that is purely a matter of speculation, but the natural beauty of the position, the grandeur of the view on all sides, but especially the view of the Golden Gate, the entrance to San Francisco bay where from this well marked prehistoric spot, at certain well known times of the year, the setting sun sinks to rest beyond the Pacific ocean, often in a grand halo of misty golden glory, that would thrill the soul of a sun worshipper to enthusiastic ecstasy, and make the spot, where now stands the University of California a sacred spot for semiannual pilgrimages where each family has its own abiding place on the national ceremonial site is probably as near truth as we can get, until further facts may be discovered.  

 

While it was fairly easy to poke holes in Voyle’s theories, his ideas about ceremonies occurring near that spot were not entirely unsupported. In fact, early European explorers observed sun ceremonies enacted by Bay Area Indians with much feeling and adoration. According to one explorer’s account of an event he witnessed in the Bay Area, a sun ceremony was performed every day by an entire village, whereby the members would gather and hold hands at sunrise to assist the sun in rising.  

This participation was part of the Indians’ belief in their ability and duty to partake and assist in balancing the forces of their world. To them, waking up together, joining hands, and singing as the sun rose to help it in its daily ascent was their duty and their concern. Indian solstice ceremonies were also recorded by local Spanish missions. The Indians, still performing the duties of their own culture after joining the church, would try to convince the sun to reverse its path northward and keep the world from going dark. Voyle’s speculations show at least some small degree of awareness of these cultural references.  

No University of California professor wanted to address the merits of Voyle’s theories. Voyle claimed to understand their distancing themselves from him. He said that classical truth always laughed at what it did not understand, but that one day they would understand the true nature of this site on UC Berkeley’s campus, and at that point they would give it another name.  

The Sacramento Bee had a field day with this story, poking fun at the students who believed Voyle’s claims The students, armed with divining rods, repeated the demonstration—supposedly finding the same energy lines in the same places, without prodding or instruction. To Voyle, his detractors were simply misguided; he believed they would come around to his way of thinking. The Sacramento Bee commented, “Still the doubters have one comfort. When Isaac Newton discovered the law of gravitation the people wouldn’t believe him, even when he showed them the apple.  

To prove his case, on Monday, June 20, 1908, Voyle took 150 people up into the hills four miles from the UC campus northeast of Vollmer Peak, where he showed them the lines of two long low rock walls. Like a preacher, Voyle boomed: “There lies before you the remnants of the building of a city of the ancients.” The crowd gasped. He then stated that the walls, according to his survey, showed “regularity.” The crowd gasped again, right on cue.  

The next day, Voyle met two hundred people at the north side of the Greek Theatre. The San Francisco Call mocked Voyle and his followers, saying that they were there to be led “away from the conventional archeology, away from the bondage of modern geology to the promised land pointed out by divining rod and psychical compass. Indeed, Voyle led them with the vigor of a mountain goat and the conviction of Moses, losing some of the less devout in the climb. One newspaper noted the division of labor that must have existed in the ancient civilization, as the women on Voyle’s trek were carrying the divining rods and the men the lunch baskets.  

Afterwards, the San Francisco Call satirized the event:  

 

The scientific world stands agape and palpitates with subdued expectation while Professor Voyle and the psychical society of Berkeley conduct their learned post mortem of the buried cities that underlie the University of California and its classic environs… The Call rejoices in the learned labors of Professor Voyle and his band of psychics. He has found not one defunct metropolis, but a whole covey of buried cities. With the eye of faith he finds them, scorning the vulgar pickax. It is a triumph of mind over matter. The plodding paleontologers and anthropologers of the university, their kitchen middens and their stuffy piles of undisturbed bones, are put to shame by the easy process of psychical divination.  

 

Voyle’s final address was 2226 Chapel Street in Berkeley. Following an operation at Berkeley’s Roosevelt Hospital in the spring of 1915, people concerned with Voyle’s health placed him in the Berkeley county infirmary. He had no relatives to help take care of him. 

Though Joseph Voyle never earned the recognition of the university or academic community, he was still acknowledged and sometimes touted highly by the greater public. The Oakland Tribune described him thus: “Never a recognized man among the recognized scientists, yet an original investigator of untiring industry, Professor Voyle continued his studies to the day when his illness bade him halt.” 

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the second of a three-part series featuring stories of forgotten Berkeley history excerpted from Richard Schwartz’s new book Eccentrics, Heroes, and Cutthroats of Old Berkeley. (The first installment ran Dec. 14, 2007.) Schwartz has been writing California history books and giving talks for more than 20 years. His other books include The Circle of Stones: An Investigation of the Circle of Stones in Stampede Valley; Sierra County, California; Berkeley 1900: Daily Life at the Turn of the Century and Earthquake Exodus, 1906: Berkeley Responds to the San Francisco Refugees.  

Eccentrics, Heroes and Cutthroats of Old Berkeley is sold at local book stores, lumber yards, hardware stores, gift shops, movie theaters, and other local and online merchants. For a list of the locations where the book is available and information about Schwartz and his other books, see www.RichardSchwartz.info. 

The Planet will publish the final installment of this series in an upcoming issue.


The Theater: ‘Tragedy: A Tragedy’ at Berkeley Rep

By Ken Bullock, Special to The Planet
Tuesday March 25, 2008

“Tonight’s forecast: Dark. Increasing darkness, with widely scattered daylight in the morning.” So George Carlin’s stoned weatherman predicted the nocturnal trend in his ’60s stand-up comedy act.  

Will Eno’s Tragedy: A Tragedy, on the Thrust Stage at Berkeley Rep, begins where Carlin’s glib (and succinct) forecaster left off, riffing on a given in broadcasting that’s become a staple of American comedy routines—when there’s nothing to say over the mic or see on camera, just keep talking, all that dead air has to be filled. 

And a lot of mileage has been got from it, ever since Bob & Ray began to milk the laughter implicit in the solipsistic spiel of anchormen, special guests, men in the field and talking heads more than 50 years ago on the radio. 

But Eno’s opus isn’t a brief Saturday Night Live comedy sketch. It’s a 70-minute play by a playwright who’s been nominated for a Pulitzer for his piece Thom Pain (based on nothing). Thomas Jay Ryan plays an actor known for the title role in a noted film, flanked by two journeymen actors (girlish Marguerite Stimpson, laconic Max Gordon Moore) as other correspondents, with yet another as anchor (warm, avuncular David Cromwell) at his desk behind. They all face out over the audience, as if gazing at the horizon or encroaching destiny, as did Carl Dreyer’s characters in his final film masterpiece, Gertrud. 

The newsmen talk. They talk to the invisible eye of the camera, to the presumed viewers beyond it, to each other, to themselves. Trying to come to grips with—or at least articulate—some vast catastrophe that everybody feels, is aware of, but which leaves no visible or audible trace (unless the absence of commotion, of activity, is such a trace), they can only mouth big, vague words like “night,” “darkness,” “world,” while going on about what they see, what they feel, how they’re breaking down ... all equally vague, spectacularly banal. In fact, they are the spectacle, like proverbial actors reciting from the phone book, albeit with an underpinning of chagrin. 

Is it an apocalypse strictly from Zeno’s Paradox? Is it the long-awaited triumph of entropy, ushered in by the langueurs of media professionals? Or is it just the media itself, without content, with whatever event jerked off-camera, while the talent fidgets and twitches like marionettes whose strings are being snipped? 

Rep Artistic Director Tony Taccone warns, “to say that Tragedy: A Tragedy is a satire on the self-satirizing media is like saying that Waiting for Godot is about life on the road. It doesn’t even begin to capture what’s really going on ...” 

Eno has been compared to Beckett, of whom he says, “I really think he is great. One of my favorite nights of the last couple of thousand was reading Krapp’s Last Tape to [my friend] Shevaun in bed, while she was knitting. Later, I think we smoked a couple of those Gitanes cigarettes ... one of the most existential cigarette brands, unless they still sell Old Golds.” He’s also been called Existentialist. 

But such comparisons seem misnomers, like the current use of “irony” for a type of sarcasm or flippancy over one thing displacing another. Eno plays with redundancy, oxymoron, tautology, but Tragedy: A Tragedy still comes off as a one-trick pony, cantering around and around the track.  

The cosmic punch line which supposedly goes beyond the obviousness of the set-up of the joke seems to be what Ford Madox Ford averred was the ruination of the arts in Anglo-Saxon societies: the author winking at the audience, like a puppeteer showing his face, so everyone knows it’s all under control, that they’re in on something amusing.  

“Absurdist” drama and the historical avant-garde it drew from didn’t present static tableaux, passive images. Even Found Objects were made artful through montage, mounting dissimilar things together or in dissimilar contexts. That transformative activity was what counted, not an attitude or pose. 

Norman Mailer once satirized another well-known novelist, saying, “A lot of writers go to cocktail parties, and get an idea they talk up after a few drinks, but he’s the only one who goes home and writes it.” There’s an uneasy similarity between Eno’s idea and plays by writers unfamiliar with theater, naively fooling around with conventions new to them, eager to show off a new toy. 

As the newscasters break down, become surrogate family to each other and are praised by a sympathetic bystander, they jump (or decay, in the musical sense) from newstalk to what sounds like academic samples of different narrative styles, cut and pasted in. Another rather naive rendition of a fiction device, a little like William Burrough’s Cut-Up Technique. The overall effect of the play recalls a line from one of Burroughs’ jaded characters: “Why, he’d stand still for Joe Gould’s seagull impression!” 

 

TRAGEDY: A TRAGEDY 

Through April 13 at Berkeley Repertory  

Theater, 2025 Addison St. 647-2949.


Wild Neighbors: Egrets, Deer and Prince Kropotkin

By Joe Eaton
Tuesday March 25, 2008
A great egret, perched on a fence at Lake Merritt.
Ron Sullivan
A great egret, perched on a fence at Lake Merritt.

Partnerships across species lines aren’t all that uncommon in nature. Where Darwin saw evolution as a process of deadly competition, the Russian aristocrat-anarchist Pyotor Kropotkin observed “mutual aid” everywhere-cooperative behavior not just within species, as in the beehive or wolfpack, but even between unrelated creatures. 

The association can be as tight as the symbiosis of the fungus and alga that form a lichen, or the ancient bond between two kinds of single-celled organisms that may have given rise to all complex life. Or it may be a transient connection, a chance opportunity taken. Commensal foraging is one of those loose mutualisms, in which a predator hangs out with another animal whose activities are likely to turn up lunch—“commensal,” after all, meaning “sharing a table.” 

The legendary hunting association between the American badger and the coyote is a good example of commensal foraging. The relationship is mostly to the coyote’s advantage: the badger, with its powerful forelegs and claws, may unearth rodents that the canid would otherwise never see. And if the prey escapes the badger, the coyote has a better shot at chasing it down. There’s really nothing in it for the badger, which would prefer to be left alone. 

Once in the inner Coast Range I saw a red-tailed hawk that appeared to be using a badger as a beater, hovering above the carnivore like a satellite in geosynchronous orbit. The badger was way too big to have interested the hawk as prey, but whatever it flushed might have been tasty. 

Some of the best-documented commensal-foraging relationships involve other birds and mammals: warblers with armadillos, falcons with maned wolves, herons with manatees. One heron, the cattle egret, even gets its name from its tendency to follow large ungulates around. These chunky white birds, native to Africa and Asia, have colonized the Americas and Australia as well, exploiting the cattle niche wherever they’ve gone. Singly or in flocks, they trail along behind the cows—or, depending on the continent, rhinos or water buffaloes—and snatch insects and other prey disturbed by the hoof traffic. In the absence of cattle, they’ll follow tractors. 

Cattle egrets used to turn up in the Bay Area more often. There’s still a large population in the Imperial Valley, but they’ve become scarce north of there. I believe the lone bird that used to winter at Lake Merritt’s Rotary Science Center failed to return this season. 

It’s rarer for the native North American egrets to engage in commensal foraging. I’ve heard of observations involving snowy egrets, mainly in the Southeast. But the great egret hadn’t been caught in the act until November 2006, when Garth and Heidi Herring, apparently visiting from Florida, stopped to observe a couple of small herds of black-tailed deer at Bodega Head. What they saw was recently published in the journal Western Birds. 

The Herrings saw a great egret, which had been loitering near the deer herds, fly into a herd and land near its center. Five minutes later, a second egret joined the second herd. Each appeared to select a deer, which it followed at a distance of up to six feet for the next half hour. The birds were observed plunging their beaks into the grass and acting as if they were swallowing prey, although it was impossible to identify what they had caught. Voles would be a strong possibility: great egrets and great blue herons are serious rodent-eaters.  

Note, again, that this is a one-sided association. The deer don’t benefit from the company of the egrets, although if there were still mountain lions and grizzly bears at Bodega Head, it might be a different story. Other birds do act as sentinels for their commensal associates. In this case, if anything the deer might be a bit inconvenienced by the tagalong birds. 

Whether it’s a one-off observation or a hint at more widespread behavior that we’ve just missed, this is an interesting example of behavioral flexibility on the egrets’ part. It reminds us that birds aren’t just automatons, driven by inflexible instincts. To some extent, they can improvise to take advantage of novel situations, a tendency that may reach its highest development in corvids and parrots. 

You also have to wonder if the egrets were reenacting a very old relationship with long-gone partners. Asia and African didn’t always have a monopoly on megafauna. It might have been really rewarding for a great egret to follow a mammoth around.  

 

 

Joe Eaton’s “Wild Neighbors” column appears every other Tuesday in the Berkeley Daily Planet, alternating with Ron Sullivan’s “Green Neighbors” column on East Bay trees.


Berkeley This Week

Tuesday March 25, 2008

TUESDAY, MARCH 25 

Tuesdays for the Birds Tranquil bird walks in local parklands, led by Bethany Facendini, from 7 to 9:30 a.m. Today we will visit the Eastshore State Park, Berkeley Meadow. Call for meeting place and if you need to borrow binoculars. 525-2233. 

National Nutrition Month, with cooking demonstrations, free samples and free recipes, at the Berkeley Farmers’ Market from 2 to 6 p.m. at Derby St. and Martin Luther King Jr. Way. 548-3333.  

El Cerrito Democratic Club Meet the Candidates Night with candidates for Assembly District 14, State Senate Districts 7 and 9, at 7:30 p.m. at El Cerrito United Methodist Church, 6830 Stockton St., near Richmond Ave. Childcare provided, call 375-5647. www.ecsclub.org 

“Adventuring Around the World on a Budget” with Dan and Emily Schaffer-Kling, at 7 p.m. at REI, 1338 San Pablo Ave. 527-4140. 

Docent Training for Tilden Nature Area Learn to assist the naturalists in providing interpretive programs at the Little Farm and nature area gardens, from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Fee is $35. Application required. For information call 544-3260. 

Seniors Against Investment Fraud A free workshop to help older adults avoid fraud, identity theft, and questionable investment offers, at 12:15 p.m. at St. Jarlath's Catholic Church, 2620 Pleasant St., corner of Fruitvale, Oakland. 452-0868.  

“Speed of Flight” A workshop for children to make parachutes, paper airplanes and kites from noon to 2 p.m. at Lawrence Hall of Science, Centennial Drive. Cost is $6-$9. 642-5132. 

Community Conversation on CEDAW/CERD: The United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant Ave. 259-3871. 

Parents’ Book Discussion Group on Frances O’Roark Dowell’s “Chicken Boy” at 6 p.m. at the Family Resource Center, 435 Goodling Way, Bldg. 123, Apt. 456, University Village, Albany. Sponsored by the Albany Library. 526-3720, ext. 17. 

Tuesday Tilden Walkers Join a few slowpoke seniors at 9:30 a.m. in the parking lot near the Little Farm for an hour or two walk. 215-7672, 524-9992. 

Berkeley School Volunteers Orientation from 4 to 5 p.m. at 1835 Allston Way. Come learn about volunteer opportunities. 644-8833. 

End the Occupation Vigil every Tues. at noon at Oakland Federal Bldg., 1301 Clay St. www.epicalc.org 

Family Storytime at 7 p.m. at Kensington Library, 61 Arlington Ave. 524-3043.  

Sing-A-Long Group from 2 to 3 p.m. at the Albany Senior Center, 846 Masoni Ave., Albany. 524-9122. 

Street Level Cycles Community Bike Program Come use our tools as well as receive help with performing repairs free of charge. Youth classes available. Tues., Thurs., and Sat. from 2 to 6 p.m. at at 84 Bolivar Dr., Aquatic Park. 644-2577. www.watersideworkshops.org 

Berkeley PC Users Group meets at 7 p.m. at 1145 Walnut St. 527-2177. 

Berkeley Camera Club meets at 7:30 p.m., at the Northbrae Community Church, 941 The Alameda. 548-3991.  

St. John’s Prime Timers meets at 9:30 a.m. at St. John’s Presbyterian Church, 2727 College Ave. We welcome new members over 50. 845-6830. 

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 26 

“Getting Rich off War: Blackwater and Halliburton” with Nancy Mencias of Global Exchange and Mary Magill, Gray Panther at the Berkeley-East Bay Gray Panthers meeting at 1:30 p.m. at the North Berkeley Senior Center, 1901 Hearst, corner of MLK. 527-0659. 

Radical Movie Night: “Bandit Queen” A film biography of Phoolan Devi at 8:30 p.m. at the Long Haul, 3124 Shattuck Ave. 540-0751. 

“Bush Family Fortunes” A documentary by Greg Palast on the connections between the Bush family and the Saudi Royal family at 7:30 p.m. at Humanist Hall, 390 27th St., Oakland. Donation $5. www.Humanist Hall.org 

Walk Berkeley for Seniors meets every Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. at the Sea Breeze Market, just west of the I-80 overpass. Everyone is welcome, wear comfortable shoes and a warm hat. 548-9840. 

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 

Teen Chess Club from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. at the North Branch Library, 1170 The Alameda at Hopkins. 981-6133. 

Theraputic Recreation at the Berkeley Warm Pool, Wed. at 3:30 p.m. and Sat. at 10 a.m. at the Berkeley Warm Pool, 2245 Milvia St. Cost is $4-$5. Bring a towel. 632-9369. 

Morning Meditation Every Mon., Wed., and Fri. at 7:45 a.m. at Rudramandir, 830 Bancroft Way at 6th. 486-8700. 

After-School Program Homework help, drama and music for children ages 8 to 18, every Wed. from 4 to 7:15 p.m. at St. John’s Presbyterian Church, 2727 College Ave. Cost is $5 per week. 845-6830. 

Stitch ‘n Bitch at 6:30 p.m. at Caffe Trieste, 2500 San Pablo Ave., at Dwight. 548-5198.  

THURSDAY, MARCH 27 

“Sustainable Stewardship: Historic Preservation’s Essential Role in Fighting Climate Change” with Richard Moe, President of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, at 7:30 p.m. at First Church of Christ, Scientist, 2619 Dwight Way. Jon Carroll, San Francisco Chronicle columnist, will also speak. Suggested donation $20; free admission for students with ID. A reception will follow the address. Proceeds go to the preservation work at the Church. For further information, contact Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association at 841-2242. http://berkeleyheritage.com 

Tilden Explorers An after-school nature adventure program for 5-7 year olds. We will hunt for amphibians from 3:15 to 4:15 p.m. Cost is $6-$8. Registration required. 1-888-327-2757. 

Tilden Tots Join a nature adventure program for 3 and 4 year olds, each accompanied by an adult (grandparents welcome)! We’ll look for amphibians from 10 to 11:30 a.m. at Tilden Nature Center, Tilden Park. Cost is $6-$8. Registration required. 1-888-EBPARKS. 

“Under the Sea” A workshop for children to learn about how animals adapt to waves and predators, and how tide pool animals survive, from noon to 2 p.m. at Lawrence Hall of Science, Centennial Drive. Cost is $6-$9. 642-5132. 

Immigration Forum: A discussion on issues and implications for the community at 7 p.m. at Richmond Public Library’s Madeline F. Whittlesey Community Room, 325 Civic Center Plaza, Richmond. Sponsored by the Richmond Public Library and the ACLU. 620-6561. 

Berkeley Democratic Club’s Endorsement Meeting for State Senate (9th SD) and for the 14th Assembly District at 7 p.m. at Northbrae Community Church, 941 The Alameda. 

East Bay Association for Women in Science “Careers in Clinical Research and Regulatory Affairs” with Gladys Ingle, Genentech; Miki Yamamoto, Genentec, and Peih F. Chiang, at 7 p.m., light supper at 6:30 p.m. at Novartis, Building 4, Room 104, 5300 Chiron Way, Emeryville. Check-in at the guard station on 53rd St. at Chiron Way prior to parking. Suggested donations of $5-$10. ebawis_secretary@yahoo.com 

Easy Does It Board of Directors’ Meeting at 6:30 p.m. at 1636 University Ave. 845-5513. edi@easyland.org  

Teen Book Club meets to discuss poetry at 4 p.m. at Claremont Branch Library, 2940 Benvenue. 981-6121. 

Fitness Class for 55+ at 9:15 a.m. at Jewish Community Center, 1414 Walnut St. 848-0237. 

Babies & Toddlers Storytime at 10:15 and 11:15 a.m. at Kensington Library, 61 Arlington Ave. 524-3043.  

FRIDAY, MARCH 28 

City Commons Club Noon Luncheon with Wolfgang Homburger, Inst. of Transport Studies, UCB, on “The Past and Future of Transportation in the Bay Area” Luncheon at 11:45 a.m. for $14.50, speech at 12:30 p.m., at the Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant St. For information and reservations call 526-2925.  

“How to Enter an Iris Show” A hands-on demonstration by a panel of experienced iris growers, at 8 p.m. at Lakeside Park Garden Center, 666 Bellevue Ave., Oakland. Sponsored by the Sydney B.Mitchell Iris Society. Free. http://bayareairis.org 

“Friendly Persuasions” A film about Quaker life in Indiana during the harsh realities of the Civil War at 7:30 p.m. at Berkeley Friends Church, Sacramento and Cedar St. berkeleyfriendschurch.org 

“Phoenix Dance” A new film by Karina Epperlein on a journey from loss to faith, trust at 7 p.m. at Berkeley Fellowship Unitarian Universalists Hall, 1924 Cedar St. Discussion follows.  

Radical Eco-Feminist West Coast Spring Tour A two hour presentation on radical eco-feminism and environmental ethics at 7 p.m. at Long Haul Infoshop, 3124 Shattuck Ave. 540-0751. www.risingtidenorthamerica.org 

Friday Films for Teens at 3:30 pm. at the Berkeley Puplic Library, 2090 Kittredge St. For details call 981-6121. 

Circle Dancing, simple folk dancing with instruction at 8 p.m. at Hillside Community Church, 1422 Navellier St., El Cerrito. Pot luck at 7 p.m. Donation of $5 requested. 528-4253. www.circledancing.com 

Kol Hadash Humanistic Shabbat at 7:30 p.m. at the ALbany Community Center, 1249 Marin Ave. 428-1492. 

SATURDAY, MARCH 29 

Winks and Wags: A Singles Event for Pet Lovers with music and activities for humans and dogs from 7 to 10 p.m. at the Just Pet Me Country Club, 2545 Broadway, Oakland. Tickets are $20-$25. Benefits the Berkeley-East Bay Humane Society. 845-7735, ext. 19. www.berkeleyhumane.org 

National Nutrition Month, with cooking demonstrations, free samples and free recipes, at the Berkeley Farmers’ Market from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Center St. and Martin Luther King Jr. Way. Compost give-away from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., bring your own container. 548-3333. www.ecologycenter.org 

Memorial Service to Celebrate the Life of Dr. John Dillenberger, theologian, author, and founding President of the Graduate Theological Union at 3 p.m. at First Congregational Church of Berkeley, 2345 Channing Way. Reception to follow in the church’s Large Assembly Room. 

Sprouts Gardening Project Help out in the Kids’ Garden from 10 a.m. to noon at Tilden Nature Center, Tilden Park. For ages three and up. 525-2233. 

Compost Give-Away at the Berkeley Farmers’ Market Bring your own container-two buckets are suggested or large garbage bags. From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Berkeley Farmers’ Market, Center St. at MLK Jr. Way. For backyard amateur gardeners only. Sponsored by the Berkeley Community Gardening Collaborative. 548-3333. www.ecologycenter.org/bcgc 

Groundbreaking for New Community Garden in Richmond at noon at Richmond Public Library, 325 Civic Center Plaza, off Macdonald Ave. Activities include a baking contest, garden hat decorating contest and stories for children at 11 am. in the library. 620-6561. 

Ocean View Community Garden Opening Albany residents interested in a garden plot will be assigned one by lottery. Priority given to apartment dwellers. Lottery tickets distributed beginning at 11 a.m., lottery begins at noon at 900 Buchanan St., behind the Teen Center and tennis courts. Annual fee $50. 559-9283. 

Vernal Vistas Hike in Claremont Canyon A steep 1.5 mile hike with panaoramic vistas at the end. From 3 to 4:30 p.m. Bring water and a snack to share. For information on meeting place call 525-2233. 

“Lewis and Clark, the Corps of Discovery: A 200-Year Retrospective” The history and biology of the Lewis and Clark voyage with a focus on the 176 plants they discovered. From 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Tilden Park Botanic Garden. Cost is $10-$20. Registration required. 841-8732. www.nativeplanets.org 

Vegetarian Cooking Class: Demystifying Tofu and Tempeh From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the First Unitarian Church of Oakland, 685 14th St. at Castro. Cost is $49, in advance, plus $5 food/materials fee, due on day of class. Registration required. 531-COOK. www.compassionatecooks.com  

“The Anza Trail and the Settling of California” with author Vladimir Guerrero at 1 p.m. at Lakeview Library, 550 El Embarcadero, Oakland. 238-7344. 

Common Agenda Regional Network Meeting on reordering federal priorities from the military to human and environmental needs, at 2 p.m. at Peace Action West, 2800 Adeline at Stuart. 524-6071. 

Community Plant Exchange from noon to 4 p.m. at 3811 Lakeshore Ave., Oakland. Bring plants that need pruning or dividing. For more nformation or if you need help digging up a plant call 866-8482. plantexchange@hotmail.com 

“Accent Plants for the Garden” at 10 a.m. at Magic Gardens, 729 Heinz Ave., off 7th St. 644-2351. 

Radical Eco-Feminism Workshop with Portland Animal Defense League, Rising TIde North America and Stumptown Earth First at 7 p.m. at the Long Haul, 3124 Shattuck Ave. stephanie@ 

RisingTideNorthAmerica.org 

Dharma Realm Buddhist Young Adults Spring Conference on Insight & Happiness on the Buddhist Path, Sat. and Sun. at the Berkeley Buddhist Monastery, 2304 McKinley Ave. RSVP to www.drby.net 

“Understanding Chronic Fatigue” at 11 a.m. at Elephant Pharm, 1607 Shattuck Ave. 549-9200. 

39th Annual UC Open Taekwondo Championship with open ceremony at 8:30 am. and competition at 9 a.m. at Walter A. Haas, Jr. Pavilion, UC Campus. Cost is $5-$8. 642-3268. www.ucmap.org 

Teen Knitting Circle at 3 p.m. in the 4th Flr Story Room of the Berkeley Public Library, 2090 Kittredge St. Bring your own needles in size 8. 981-6107. 

Free Garden Tours at Regional Parks Botanic Garden Sat. and Sun. at 2 pm. Regional Parks Botanic Garden, Tilden Park. Call to confirm. 841-8732. www.nativeplants.org 

The Berkeley Lawn Bowling Club provides free instruction every Wed. and Sat. at 10:30 a.m. at 2270 Acton St. 841-2174.  

Oakland Artisans Marketplace Sat. from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sun. from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Jack London Square. 238-4948. 

SUNDAY, MARCH 30 

Hike Around Jewel Lake A good first hike for the young trekker to learn about the lake and its flora and fauna, from 2 to 3:30 p.m. For information on meeting place call 525-2233. 

“Breaking the Silence: Israeli Soldiers Talk about Their Occupation Experiences” at 7 p.m. at Kehilla Community Synagogue, 1300 Grand Ave., Piedmont. Suggested donation $5-$20, no one turned away. 465-1777. 

“Iraqi Civil Resistance” Bill Weinberg reports on Iraqi trade unions, women’s organizations, and neighborhood assemblies opposed to the US occupation at 10 a.m. at Niebyl Proctor Library, 6501 Telegraph Ave. 

“A Taste of Ethiopia” A fundraiser and cultural event to benefit high school construction for The Merit Academy in Addis Ababa, from 1 to 4 p.m. at Berkeley Mills Furniture Showroom, 2830 Seventh St. Cost is $25, sliding scale donations at the door. 415-235-5467. 

Jewish Music Festival “Community Dance Party” with Jewish dance specialist Bruce Bierman at 4 p.m. at JCC East Bay, 1414 Walnut St. Cost is $12-$15. 848-0237. www.jewishmusicfestival.org 

Films for a Future “What Babies Want” at 2 p.m. at the Edith Stone Room, Albany Library, 1247 Marin Ave., Albany. Discussion follows. 526-3720, ext. 17. 

Tibetan Buddhism with Tom Morse on “Natural Openness: Direct Knowing” at 6 p.m. at the Tibetan Nyingma Institute, 1815 Highland Pl. 809-1000 www.nyingmainstitute.com 

MONDAY, MARCH 31 

“Berkeley: A City in History” with author Chuck Wollenberg at 7 p.m. at the Berkeley Public Library, 2090 Kittredge. 981-6241. 

Berkeley Housing Authority Annual Plan Public Hearing at 6 p.m. at the North Berkeley Senior Center, 1901 Hearst. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/BHA/default.html 

Berkeley CopWatch organizational meeting at 8 p.m. at 2022 Blake St. 548-0425. 

Free Boatbuilding Classes for Youth Mon.-Wed. from 3 to 7 p.m. at Berkeley Boathouse, 84 Bolivar Dr., Aquatic Park. Classes cover woodworking, boatbuilding, and boat repair. 644-2577. www.watersideworkshops.org 

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  

E-Waste Recycling St. Vincent de Paul of Alameda County accepts electronic waste including computers, dvd players, cell phones, fax machines and many other ewaste products for disposal free of charge at many of its locations throughout Alameda County. Free bulk pick-up available. 638-7600.  

Free Tax Help If your 2007 household income was less than $42,000, you are eligible for free tax preparation from United Way's Earn it! Keep It! Save It! Sites are open now through April 15 in Alameda and Contra Costa counties. To find a site near you, call 800-358-8832. www.EarnItKeepItSaveIt.org 

CITY MEETINGS 

City Council meets Tues., Mar. 25, at 7 p.m in City Council Chambers. 981-6900.  

Civic Arts Commission meets Wed., Mar. 26, at 6:30 p.m. at the North Berkeley Senior Center. 981-7533.  

Energy Commission meets Wed., Mar. 26, at 6:30 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center. 981-5434.  

Planning Commission meets Wed., Mar. 26, at 7 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center. 981-7484. 

Police Review Commission meets Wed., Mar. 26, at 7 p.m. at the South Berkeley Senior Center. 981-4950.  

Mental Health Commission meets Thurs., Mar. 27, at 5 p.m. at 2640 MLK Jr. Way, at Derby. 981-5213.  

Zoning Adjustments Board meets Thurs., Mar. 27, at 7 p.m., in City Council Chambers. 981-7410.  

Berkeley Housing Authority Annual Plan Public Hearing Mon. Mar. 31, at 6 p.m. at the North Berkeley Senior Center, 1901 Hearst. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/BHA/default.htm


Arts Calendar

Friday March 21, 2008

FRIDAY, MARCH 21 

THEATER 

Altarena Playhouse “Chicago” Fri. and Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 2 p.m. at Altarena Playhouse, 1409 High St., Alameda, through April 12. Tickets are $17-$20. 523-1553. www.altarena.org 

Berkeley Rep ”Wishful Drinking” with Carrie Fisher, at the Roda Theater, 2015 Addison St., through March 30. Tickets are $33-$69. 647-2949. 

Central Works “Wakefield; or Hello Sophia” Thurs.-Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 5 p.m. at Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant Ave., through March 23.Tickets are $14-$25. 558-1381. 

Impact Theatre “Jukebox Stories: The Case of the Creamy Foam” Thurs.-Sat. at 8 p.m. at La Val’s Subterranean, 1834 Euclid Ave., through March 22. Tickets are $10-$15. 464-4468. http://impacttheatre.com 

Masquers Playhouse “Tartuffe” Fri.-Sat. at 8 p.m., some Sun. matinees at 2:30 p.m. at 105 Park Place, Pt. Richmond, through April 26. Tickets are $18. 232-4031. www.masquers.org 

Shotgun Players “Mrs. Warren’s Profession” by George Bernard Shaw. Thurs.-Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 5 p.m., through April 27, at The Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby Ave. Tickets are $17-$25. 841-6500. www.shotgunplayers.org 

FILM 

“The Invisible Forest” A film by Antero Alli, with teh filmaker in person, at 8 p.m. at Grace North Sanctuary, 2138 Cedar St. Cost is $10. 548-2153.  

READINGS AND LECTURES 

David Hajdu reads from “The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic-Book Scare and How It Changed America” at 7 p.m. at Cody’s Books at 2201 Shattuck, next to the almost open new store. 559-9500.  

Linh Dinh with Marisa Libbon, poets, as part of The Holloway Series in Poetry, at 6:30 p.m. at 315 Wheeler Hall, The Maude Fife Room, UC Campus. 642-3467.  

Norman Woods & Band, aazz poetry, followed by open mic at 7 p.m. at Expressions Gallery, 2035 Ashby Ave. www.expressionsgallery.org 

MUSIC AND DANCE 

Junior Bach Festival, featuring young performers, at 7:30 p.m. at Berkeley Piano Club, 2724 Haste St. 843-2224.  

Faik Ibragim olgy Chelebi, Azerbaijani classical music at 8 p.m. at The Berkeley Hillside Club, 2286 Cedar St. Cost is $10-$15. 845-1350. 

Vox Flores “Pope Marcellus Mass” at 7 p.m. at Arlington Community Church, 52 Arlington Ave., in Kensington. Free.  

“Songs of Spirit” Candlelight Meditation Concert with Norma Gentile at 7:30 p.m. at Unity of Berkely, 2075 Eunice St. Tickets are $15. www.healingchants.com 

Becca Burrington, soprano, Kymry Esainko , piano, perform works of Debussy Faure, Copland, Rorem and more at 8 p.m. at Giorgi Gallery 2911 Claremont Ave. Cost is $10. 648-1228. giorgigallery.com 

Los Materos, Latin American fusion, at 8 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $12-$14. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

Danny Caron Quartet at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $12. 841-JAZZ. www.AnnasJazzIsland.com 

Stomp the Stumps Benefit for Bay Area Coalition for the Headwaters and Earth First with Grapefruit Ed, The Funky Nixons and The Gary Gates Band at 8:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $12-$15. 525-5054.  

Pam & Jeri Show, from Blame Sally, at 8 p.m. at Caffe Trieste, 2500 San Pablo Ave. 548-5198.  

Pierre Bensusan, Bob Giles at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $20.50-$21.50. 548-1761.  

Carla Kaufman Trio at 9 p.m. at Downtown. 649-3810.  

The Mundaze at 10 p.m. at Beckett’s Irish Pub, 2271 Shattuck Ave. 647-1790.  

Amanda Abizaid, Walty at 7:30 p.m. at Nomad Cafe, 6500 Shattuck Ave. 595-5344.  

Dave Matthews BLUES Band at 8 p.m. at the Warehouse Bar and Grill, 402 Webster St., Oakland. 451-3161. 

Darondo & Nino Moschella, soul, r&b, funk, at 9:30 p.m. at Shattuck Down Low, 2284 Shattuck Ave. Cost is $5-$7. 548-1159.  

Little Muddy at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 843-8277. 

Jon Bibbs, Shadia P, R&B, at 9 p.m. at Maxwell’s Lounge, 341 13th St., Oakland. Cost is $10-$15. 839-6169. 

Kenny Garrett Quartet at 8 and 10 p.m., through Sat. at Yoshi’s at Jack London Square. Cost is $12-$22. 238-9200.  

SATURDAY, MARCH 22 

CHILDREN  

Los Amiguitos de La Peña with Uncle Eye and The Strange Change Machine, interactive songs, at 10:30 a.m. at La Peña. Cost is $5 for adults, $4 for children. 849-2568.  

THEATER 

Playback Theatre “In Celebration of Women” Personal stories about women shared by audience members will be transformed by the ensemble into improvised theatre pieces, at 8 p.m. at Laney College Theater, 900 Fallon St., Oakland. Tickets are $12-$18. 595-5500, ext. 25. 

EXHIBITIONS 

“Tonal Words” Photographs by Misako Akimoto. Reception at 2 p.m. at Berkeley Public Library, Central Catalog Lobby, 2090 Kittredge St. 981-6100. 

READINGS AND LECTURES 

Richard Bermack on “The Front Lines of Social Change: Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade” at 2 p.m. at Alta Galleria, 2980 College Ave., Suite 4. 421-1255.  

MUSIC AND DANCE 

23rd Jewish Music Festival “A Night in the Old Marketplace” Jewish, jazz, rock, and world beats with a dose of Kurt Weill and Tom Waits, composed by Frank London, at 8 p.m. at Berkeley Repertory Theater, Roda Stage, 2025 Addison St. Tickets are $24-$28. 848-0237. www.jewishmusicfestival.org  

Junior Bach Festival, featuring young performers, at 3 and 7:30 p.m. at St. John’s Presbyterian Church, 2723 College Ave. 843-2224. www.juniorbach.org 

Rhythm & Muse Music & spoken word open mic series featuring Tracy Koretsky, spoken word, with Eliza Shefler, piano, at 7 p.m. at Berkeley Art Center, 1275 Walnut St., between Eunice & Rose Sts., behind Live Oak Park. Free. 644-6893.  

Tommy Dorsey Orchestra at 8 p.m. aboard the USS Hornet. Tickets are $45-$95, benefits the USS HornetMuseum. 521-8448, ext. 282. 

Moment’s Notice Improvised music, dance and theater at 8 p.m. at Western Sky Studio, 2525 8th St. Cost is $8-$15, sliding scale. momentsnoticeinfo@gmail.com  

Peking Acrobats at 2 and 8 p.m. at Zellerbach Hall, UC Campus. Tickets are $24-$46. 642-9988.  

Rudolf Buchbinder, piano, at 8 p.m. at Hertz Hall, UC Campus. Tickets are $42. 642-9988. www.calperformances.net 

Think Outside the Box: Clitoris Celebration at 8 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $15-$20. 849-2568.  

Bayside Jazz with Dan Hicks at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $12. 841-JAZZ.  

Itals, reggae, at 9:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $15. 525-5054. 

Randy Moss & Friends at 7:30 p.m. at Nomad Cafe, 6500 Shattuck Ave. 595-5344.  

Mucho Axé at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 843-8277. 

Nell Robinson & Red Level, Matt Dudman & Richard Brandenburg at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $18.50-$19.50. 548-1761.  

Five Cent Coffee, junkyard blues, at 9 p.m. at Downtown. 649-3810.  

Steve Carter, jazz, at 9:30 p.m. at Albatross, 1822 San Pablo Ave. Cost is $3. 843-2473. www.albatrosspub.com 

The American Economy at 10 p.m. at Beckett’s Irish Pub, 2271 Shattuck Ave. 647-1790.  

Despise You, Lack of Interest, Pretty Little Flower at 8 p.m. at 924 Gilman St., an all-ages, member-run, no alcohol, no drugs, no violence club. Cost is $8. 525-9926. 

SUNDAY, MARCH 23 

CHILDREN 

Oakland Hebrew Day School “The Music Man” at 1 p.. at Julia Morgan Center for the Arts, 2640 College Ave. Tickets rea $5-$7 at the door.  

READINGS AND LECTURES 

“Philosophers: G.E.M. Anscombe & Celia Green for Women’s History Month” A lecture by H. D. Moe at 3 p.m. at Humanist Hall 390 27th St., Oakland. 528-8713, 451-5818. 

MUSIC AND DANCE 

Junior Bach Festival, featuring young performers, at 7:30 p.m. at Berkeley Piano Club, 2724 Haste St. 843-2224. www.juniorbach.org 

Jewish Music Festival with Benzion Miller, Hasidic cantor, at 7:30 p.m. at Netviot Shalom, 1316 University Ave. Tickets are $21-$25. 848-0237. www.jewishmusicfestival.org  

Rudolf Buchbinder, piano, at 3 p.m. at Hertz Hall, UC Campus. Tickets are $42. 642-9988. www.calperformances.net 

Peking Acrobats at 3 p.m. at Zellerbach Hall, UC Campus. Tickets are $24-$46. 642-9988.  

Judy Fjell & Nancy Schimmel “Malvina Reynolds Songs & Stories” at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $18.50-$19.50. 548-1761.  

Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir at 7 and 9 p.m., through Sat. at Yoshi’s at Jack London Square. Cost is $10-$16. 238-9200. www.yoshis.com 

MONDAY, MARCH 24 

READINGS AND LECTURES 

Leah Garchick in Conversation with Jon Carroll on Garchick’s new book “Real Life Romance: Everyday Wisdom on Love, Sex, and Relationships” at 7 p.m. at Berkeley Rep’s Trust Stage, 2025 Addison St. Fundraiser for Park Day School Tickets are $18-$25. www.parkdayschool.org 

Rick Dakan, Jen Angel and Josh McPhee read at 7:30 p.m. at Moe’s Books, 2476 Telegraph Ave. 849-2087. 

Poetry Express with Tom Odeard at 7 p.m. at Priya Restaurant, 2072 San Pablo Ave. 644-3977. 

MUSIC AND DANCE 

Musica ha Disconnesso at 7 p.m. 7 p.m. at Caffe Trieste, 2500 San Pablo Ave. 548-5198.  

West Coast Songwriters Competition at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage Coffee House. Cost is $20.50-$21.50. 548-1761. 

Benefit for Christopher Rodriguez with John Santos, Kai Eckhardt, Roger Glenn and many others at 8 and 10 p.m. at Yoshi’s at Jack London Square. Cost is $18-$25. 238-9200.  

TUESDAY, MARCH 25 

READINGS AND LECTURES 

Ed Coletti and Lynne Knight read their poetry at 7:30 p.m. at Moe’s Books, 2476 Telegraph Ave. 849-2087. 

Eric Alterman describes “Why We Are Liberals: A Political Handbook for Post-Bush America” at 7:30 p.m. at First Congregational Church of Berkeley, 2345 Channing Way. 559-9500. 

MUSIC AND DANCE 

Kaspar/Sherman Jazz Quartet at 7 p.m. at the Berkeley Public Library, 2090 Kittredge St. 981-6241. 

Jewish Music Festival “Ladder of Gold” with Kaila Flexer and Gari Hegedus, at 7:30 p.m. at First Unitarian Church, 684 14th St., Oakland. 848-0237. www.jewishmusicfestival.org  

Gerard Landry & The Lariats at 8:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cajun dance lesson at 8 p.m. Cost is $10. 525-5054.  

Singers’ Open Mic with Kelly Park at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $5. 841-JAZZ. www.AnnasJazzIsland.com 

Randy Craig Trio at 7 p.m. at Caffe Trieste, 2500 San Pablo Ave., at Dwight. 548-5198.  

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

Jazzschool Tuesdays at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 843-8277. 

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 26 

READINGS AND LECTURES 

Richard Price introduces “Lush Life” a new novel, at 7 p.m. at Cody’s Books at 2201 Shattuck, next to the almost open new store. 559-9500.  

Writing Teachers Write at 5 p.m. at Nomad Cafe, 6500 Shattuck Ave. 595-5344.  

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. 

Five Play at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $8. 841-JAZZ.  

Grooveyard at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 843-8277. 

Karabali at 9:30 p.m. at Shattuck Down Low, 2284 Shattuck Ave. Salsa dance lessons at 8:30 p.m. Cost is $5-$10. 548-1159.  

Mikie Lee and Amber at 10 p.m. at Beckett’s Irish Pub, 2271 Shattuck Ave. 647-1790.  

Audrey Auld Mezera & Andrew Hardin at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $17.50-$18.50. 548-1761.  

David Sanborn at 8 and 10 p.m. at Yoshi’s at Jack London Square, through Sun. Cost is $35-$40. 238-9200.  

THURSDAY, MARCH 27 

THEATER 

“Amor Cubano” Written and performed by Maceo Cabrera Estevez at 8 p.m. through Sat. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $5-$20. 849-2568.  

READINGS AND LECTURES 

“Sustainable Stewardship: Historic Preservation’s Essential Role in Fighting Climate Change” with Richard Moe, President of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, at 7:30 p.m. at First Church of Christ, Scientist, 2619 Dwight Way. Jon Carroll, San Francisco Chronicle columnist, will also speak. Suggested donation $20; free admission for students with ID. A reception will follow the address. Proceeds go to the preservation work at the Church. For further information, contact Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association at 841-2242.  

Jim Hightower “Swim Against the Current: Even a Dead Fish Can Go with the Flow” at 7:30 p.m. at First Congregational Church of Berkeley, 2345 Channing Way. Tickets are $12-$15. www.brownpapertickets.com  

Daniel P. Gregory, lecture and slideshow on “Cliff May and the Modern Ranch House”at 7:30 p.m. at Mrs. Dalloways, 2904 College Ave. 704-8222. 

MUSIC AND DANCE 

Jewish Music Festival “Chen Zimbalista and Friends” percussion at 7:30 p.m. at St. John’s Presbyterian Church: 2727 College Ave. Tickets are $20-$24. 848-0237.  

Jeffrey Foucault at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $18.50-$19.50. 548-1761.  

Rick Vandevivier Trio at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $10. 841-JAZZ.  

Talking Wood, Afro roots, at 7 p.m. at Caffe Trieste, 2500 San Pablo Ave. 548-5198.  

Fred O’dell and the Broken Arrows at 10 p.m. at Beckett’s Irish Pub, 2271 Shattuck Ave. 647-1790.  

FRIDAY, MARCH 28 

THEATER 

Altarena Playhouse “Chicago” Fri. and Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 2 p.m. at Altarena Playhouse, 1409 High St., Alameda, through April 12. Tickets are $17-$20. 523-1553.  

“Amor Cubano” Written and performed by Maceo Cabrera Estevez at 8 p.m. through Sat. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $5-$20. 849-2568.  

Berkeley Rep ”Wishful Drinking” with Carrie Fisher, at the Roda Theater, 2015 Addison St., through March 30. Tickets are $33-$69. 647-2949. 

Masquers Playhouse “Tartuffe” Fri.-Sat. at 8 p.m., some Sun. matinees at 2:30 p.m. at 105 Park Place, Pt. Richmond, through April 26. Tickets are $18. 232-4031. www.masquers.org 

Shotgun Players “Mrs. Warren’s Profession” by George Bernard Shaw. Thurs.-Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 5 p.m., through April 27, at The Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby Ave. Tickets are $17-$25. 841-6500.  

EXHIBITIONS 

“My Sister, My Sister” A personal response to homelessness, poetry by Zelma Brown, Photography by Meredith Stout. Opening reception at 7 p.m. at the Women’s Cancer Resource Center, 5741 Telegraph Ave., Oakland. Screening of “Walking in My Shoes” at 8 p.m. Show runs to April 25. 601-4040, ext. 111. 

“Peace is Possible” Works by artists who are changing the world through creativity, Wavy Gravy and Carolyna Marks. Reception at 7 p.m. at 4th Street Studio, 1717d 4th St. 527-0600. 

“Pet Art” from Expressions Gallery on display at Just Pet Me Country Club, 2545 Broadway, Oakland to June 30. A portion of the proceeds from art sales with be donated to the Berkeley Humane Society. 500-5595. 

READINGS AND LECTURES 

Richard Silberg and Thomas Centolella, poets, at 7:30 p.m. at Pegasus Books Downtown, 2349 Shattuck Ave. 649-1320. 

David King Dunaway reads from the revised edition “How Can I Keep From Singing? The Ballad of Pete Seeger” at 7:30 p.m. at Mrs. Dalloways, 2904 College Ave. 704-8222. 

R.Black discusses his art and new book “Futura: L’Art de R.Black” at 7:30 p.m. at Book Zoo 6395 Telegraph Ave., Oakland. 654-BOOK. 

Morton Felix and Stanford Rose, followed by open mic at 7 p.m. at Expressions Gallery, 2035 Ashby Ave. www.expressionsgallery.org 

MUSIC AND DANCE 

Berkeley Opera “L’Elisir d’Amore” at 8 p.m. at Julia Morgan center for the Arts, 2640 College Ave. Tickets are $10-$44. 925-798-1300.  

Tchaikovsky Perm Ballet and Orchestra “Swan Lake” at 8 p.m. at Zellerbach Hall, UC Campus. Tickets are $34-$90. 642-9988.  

Bay Area Classical Harmonies “David Rogers: Guitar and Lute” at 7:30 p.m. at The Pro Arts Gallery, 550 Second St., Oakland. Tickets are $12-$18. 868-0695.  

Thomas Pandolfi, pianist, at 8 p.m. at The Berkeley Hillside Club, 2286 Cedar St. Cost is $10-$15. 845-1350. 

Lisa B Quintet at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $12. 841-JAZZ.  

Sambada, Afro, Brazilian, funk, at 9 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $10-$13. 525-5054.  

Beth Waters at 8 p.m. at Caffe Trieste, 2500 San Pablo Ave., at Dwight. 548-5198.  

House Jacks at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $19.50-$20.50. 548-1761.  

Jessica Rice, Sacred Profanities at 7:30 p.m. at Nomad Cafe. 595-5344. 

The Dave Stein Bubhub at 10 p.m. at Beckett’s Irish Pub, 2271 Shattuck Ave. 647-1790.  

Slydini at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 843-8277. 

Julie Dexter, Jordana, R&B, at 8 p.m. at Maxwell’s Lounge, 341 13th St., Oakland. Cost is $10-$15. 839-6169. 

David Sanborn at 8 and 10 p.m. at Yoshi’s at Jack London Square, through Sun. Cost is $35-$40. 238-9200. 

 

 

 

 

 


Berkeley Opera Stages Donizetti’s ‘L’Elisir D’Amore’

By Ken Bullock, Special to The Planet
Friday March 21, 2008

The village flirt tosses aside the book of the romance of Tristan and Isolde she has been reading aloud, flippantly singing, “If only I knew that recipe” for the famous love potion, as the chorus of peasants idling in the piazza picks up the refrain—and her forlorn, would-be suitor Nemorino, who’s caught the storybook as if it was the garter flung after a wedding, finds himself in the same predicament.  

Spurned by Adina the flirt, outrivalled by the bellicose sergeant of the local garrison, with no money or position, what can he do to win her fickle heart besides wish for the impossible? Is there an elixir of love that can revitalize his suit? 

Berkeley Opera’s sprightly staging of Donizetti’s L’Elisir D’amore at the Julia Morgan Center takes off from there and tells the musical tale with both insouciant zest and quiet sensitivity, firmly on opera’s original ground, a divertissement for all the sensibilities. This “Elixir” also tests the ever-famous placebo effect, when snake-oil Doctor Dulcamara shows up and sells Nemorino a ceramic flask of Bordeaux as his surefire romantic philtre, giving the young man a big shot of hope and confidence in exchange for his last coin. It also involves dubious practices in military recruitment—so it’s a timely springtime show for Berkeley, indeed. 

The complications of the plot unfold felicitously, without the usual turgid, often boffo, vertiginous operatic reversals, due to its origin in a work by Eugene Scribe, the accredited father of the “well-wrought play,” the three-to-five act predecessor to all the great commercial vehicles of the West End and of Broadway, and of the better Hollywood movie scripts, sporting that dramatic or comic “arc” reviewers talk about. (“Send your hero up a tree, throw rocks at him, then get him back on the ground again,” as George M. Cohan memorably summarized a three-act’s plot).  

But every bit as much, felicity comes from the fine acting of the singers and the exemplary stage direction by Robert Weinapple. Never static, the scenes are filled with a vigorous counterpoint in movement and gesture that’s not just an illustration of the feeling of the music or of the words of the libretto. 

The lighting design by Cameron Mock is as fluid and accurate as the performers’ style, showing the contrast between the scenes with the whole company and the smaller groups, the duets and solos, playing over a set (by Lili Smith and Kevin Keul) of the village that’s simple yet flexible, an evocative backdrop for every mood. 

Tammy Berlin’s costuming also reflects contrast, from the rustic simplicity of the peasants to the cock-of-the-walk martial dandyism of the sergeant, and the gaudy display of the montebank that the locals take for gentility. “He must be a senator at least,” the bumpkins intone as the illustrious Professor steps forward to bark in his reddish top-hat and sash. 

Elisir is a romantic comedy, containing its own burlesque, so in some respects the palms go to the buffo villain and the comic schemer, sergeant-rival and medicine show star. Torlef Borsting is an admirably smarmy Sgt. Belcore, puffed up with himself, and Paul Cheak even better, finding so many funny and sympathetic nuances playing and singing the fly-by-night Dottore Dulcamare. 

But the moods are modulated so well that the success of the comedy never blurs the romantic emotions. Angela Cadelago as Adina and Andrew Truett as Nemorino have their own, well-played and sung comic moments, coming forward more and more in the pathetic and romantic vignettes, the braver vocals saved for the arias and duets at the climax and near the happy end.  

The five principals (including a charming Elena Krell as Gianetta, “a peasant girl” who is in some ways the leader of the village chorus) and 19 chorines, both peasants and soldiers, interact well, both vocally and theatrically, often overlapping and sometimes serving as counterpoint to each other. 

Throughout, Donato Cabrera, associate conductor with the San Francisco Opera and music director for the American Contemporary Music Ensemble, presides over the orchestra of 19 with grace and alacrity.  

 

L’ELISIR D’AMORE 

Presented by Berkeley Opera at 8 p.m. Friday March 28, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, March 30 at the Julia Morgan Center, 2640 College Ave. $10-$44. (925) 798-1300.


Fonts, Facades, And Frolicking Femme Fatales

Friday March 21, 2008

Helvetica—a Greek tragedy? No, a typeface. Who would think of making a documentary film about a typeface? And who would attribute political significance to a font? Well, the writers of this 80-minute film did.  

The film was originally released in September for the font’s 50th anniversary. In the aftermath of World War II and the dull 1950s, two Swiss typographers decided that big corporations needed a shot in the arm to fit their efficient, go-getter, modern hype, and what better way than a typeface that represented all of those characteristics, a typeface that every consumer would glom on to without even knowing that they were being hypnotized to consume all those major products that have used Helvetica—3M, American Airlines, American Apparel, Crate & Barrel, Energizer batteries, Greyhound Lines, Jeep, Lufthansa, Marks & Spencer, Microsoft, National Car Rental, Panasonic, and Target Corporation, and many more. 

For example, Apple’s Mac OS X uses Helvetica as its default font for numerous applications, and the interface for the iPhone and newer iPods uses Helvetica almost exclusively. New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) uses Helvetica for all of its subway signs. And versions exist for the Latin, Cyrillic, Hebrew, and Greek alphabets. There are even special characters and accents for Hindi, Urdu, Khmer, Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. 

Canada’s federal government uses Helvetica as its identifying typographic voice, and encourages its use in all federal agencies and websites. Helvetica is also used in the U.S. television rating system, in federal income tax forms, and even on the Space Shuttle. 

Until the ’60s and ’70s, that is, when a new generation of post-modernist designers and other counterculture people grew to detest Helvetica as a symbol of corporate and government power, the Vietnam War, etc. They wanted something more humane and emotional, more individual, in other words, more postmodern—wild. Thus, we get irregular typefaces, even handwriting “type.” 

I found the film engaging both because it was framed in this political context, but also because it was fascinating to catch up on all this manipulation that managed to pass me by. 

By the way, Helvetica is part of the Latin name for Confoederatio Helvetica, that spawned the two co-creators of this ubiquitous advertising fascism. 

Helvetica is currently available on DVD. A Blu-Ray edition will be released May 6.  

—E.C. Jeline  

 

 

Antonio Gaudi 

Antonio Gaudi is a cinematic poem, a patient, hushed appreciation of a visionary architect. Japanese director Hiroshi Teshigahara glides his camera around the sensuous curves of Gaudi’s structures, wanders throughout the asymmetric interiors, traces the spiraling spires of his churches and roams across each textured surface of his elaborate facades.  

The film is interrupted on a few occasions by spoken word, by the voices of Gaudi connoisseurs and historians. These intrusions may be useful in explaining some of the principles and facts behind these unique buildings, including his unfinished masterpiece, the Sagrada Familia cathedral in Barcelona, but they interfere with our languorous absorption of Gaudi’s sculptural art.  

The two-disc set from Criterion includes a new transfer of the film and a wealth of bonus material, including the director’s own 16mm footage from his first encounter with Gaudi’s work as a young man on a trip to Spain with his father, as well as documentaries about the filmmaker and the architect.  

 

—Justin DeFreitas 

 

 

Forbidden Hollywood, Volume II 

Warner Bros. has released the second in its Forbidden Hollywood DVD series, an collection of Pre-Code films from the early 1930s. The first set included Baby Face, perhaps the most outrageous film of the era, while the new collection includes some of the most influential Pre-Code films and certainly its most influential actress, Norma Shearer.  

The set starts off with two Shearer vehicles. The first, The Divorceé (1930), tells the story of a woman who responds to her husband’s infidelity with a pledge to live as a man lives, and thus begins a string of extramarital dalliances that the enforcement of the Code would crack down on in just a few years. Not for decades would women on screen be able to live and love as freely. Also featured is Shearer’s follow-up, A Free Soul (1931) 

Ruth Chatterton runs an automobile factory in Female (1933), taking and casting aside lovers from her stable of employees at will and transferring them to a Canadian subsidiary if they get too attached. Eventually she meets her match, and from there things go down hill a bit in the feminism department until finally crashlanding in the end with a severe cop-out in which she transfers control of the firm to her husband while setting out on her new goal of producing as many as nine children.  

Three on a Match (1933) shows Bette Davis, Joan Blondell and Ann Dvorak as they grow from children to adults, Dvorak along the way slipping into a life of drug addiction. Humphrey Bogart plays a small role as a gangster thug. 

Last is Night Nurse (1931), a strange story in which Barbara Stanwyck and Blondell do battle with an evil chauffeur (Clark Gable) in an effort to prevent a case of child abuse. The film is a mix of brash comedy, torrid melodrama and frolicking cheesecake as numerous pretenses are found for Stanwyck and Blondell to repeatedly strip off their clothing. 

Also included is a documentary, Thou Shalt Not: Sex, Sin and Censorship in Pre-Code Hollywood, that puts these films in historical context, sketching out the scandals that led to Hollywood’s first tepid and later strident efforts at self-censorship.  

 

—Justin DeFreitas 

 

 

 

HELVETICA 

(2007) 

80 minutes. $34.99. 

www.helveticafilm.com. 

 

ANTONIO GAUDI (1984) 

72 minutes. $39.95. 

www.criterion.com. 

 

FORBIDDEN 

HOLLYWOOD 

(1930s) 

$49.99.  

www.whvdvd-collections.com. 

 


Moving Pictures: The Shakespeare Films of Orson Welles

By Justin DeFreitas
Friday March 21, 2008
Orson Welles in the title role in his 1948 adaptation of Macbeth.
Orson Welles in the title role in his 1948 adaptation of Macbeth.

With just a few exceptions, when we talk about an Orson Welles film we talk about a tangled mess of topics all at once. We talk about the film as it exists and the film as it might have been; we talk about intentions and motivations, disagreements and compromises, edits and changes; we talk about artistic integrity versus commercial considerations, about the rights of the artist contrasted with the rights of studios, stockholders, producers and distributors.  

When left to his own devices—or, more accurately, the devices of himself and his chosen collaborators—Welles created great cinema. Yet Citizen Kane is perhaps the only one of his films to reach theaters entirely without compromise. A couple of others survived with only compromised production values as opposed to compromised content, but most of the Welles filmography is the story of films that are at best approximations, and at worst mere remnants, of the dreams that gave birth to them.  

The Orson Welles of caricature—of bloated budgets and extended, meandering production schedules—would come later. In the 1940s his films were produced in the same manner in which he had produced his stage and radio projects. Budgets were relatively small, schedules were adhered to (though always pushed to the last second); planning and rehearsals were thorough but open to last-minute changes and improvisations. And in this climate he produced two of his greatest works: Kane and The Magnificent Ambersons.  

After Kane nearly brought down RKO studios in 1941 by taking on William Randolph Hearst, the most powerful media mogul of his day, Welles’ career took an unexpected turn. Though RKO and Welles survived the battle with Hearst, the studio became wary of its star director. But it was ultimately the gloom of Ambersons and the freewheeling experimentalism of Welles’ South American documentary project It’s All True that finally derailed Welles, and he spent the next few years struggling to win back the trust of his benefactors.  

His reputation—some say justly, some unjustly—became that of a troublemaker, an arrogant, budget-busting, non-commercial maverick. Having conquered Broadway at 20, radio at 21 and film at 24, he was not used to failure, or to playing the supplicant. And he must have found it galling that he, whose genius had always included the successful marriage of commercial entertainment with high art, should be branded an unbankable risk.  

The Stranger (1944) was a purely commercial product, delivered on time and under budget for International Pictures. With the exception of a few flourishes here and there, it is the least Wellesian of his films and thus the least interesting. Lady From Shanghai (1947) was begun as payback for a loan that Columbia Studios chief Harry Cohn had given Welles for one of his stage productions. Shanghai too was a commercial film, with a few twists. But it was those unwanted twists that angered Cohn, who re-edited much of it and added a cheap score. 

It was at this time that Welles, looking to find a studio that would back him as RKO had with Kane, joined Republic Studios, a low-budget producer of B movies, mostly westerns. Republic was willing to support a pet project of his: a stark, spare adaptation of Macbeth. Shakespeare was his foundation as an artist: As a teenager he had published a series of guidebooks for adapting the works of the Bard to the modern stage, and as a young man he had made his reputation with the so-called “voodoo Macbeth,” a Roosevelt-era public works project in which he staged a sensational Haitian version of the play in Harlem with an all-black cast consisting mostly of first-time actors. Shakespearian tragedy underlies much of Welles’ self-written dramas, and he would return to the plays themselves on stage, radio and screen for much of his life. 

Welles concocted a multi-faceted approach to the new Macbeth that would hold down expenses while maximizing rehearsal. He took a cast consisting largely of players from his own Mercury Theater on the road to Salt Lake City, where they would stage the play three times a day for four days as part of the Utah Centennial Festival. The festival would pick up the tab for the costumes, Republic would pay for the sets. When the theatrical run was over, the company would adjourn to the studio where, with three cameras operating at all times, shooting several scenes simultanously, with the actors miming to a pre-recorded soundtrack, they would shoot the film in just three weeks. It would be a semi-radical but inexpensive experiment in stripped-down, streamlined filmmaking. (This is in marked contrast to his next project, the nomadic, globe-trotting four-year odyssey that would become Othello.)  

Welles first adapted Macbeth to a screenplay, using his own guidebooks to fashion a dramatic restructuring of the play, emphasizing the witchcraft and heightening the horror and melodrama in the creation of a sort of high-art B picture. It is not so much an adaptation as a re-imagining, for Welles had no interest in simply filming the play; his goal was to rediscover much of the brash, barnstorming fun and frolic of Shakespeare, qualities he felt had been lost over decades of stuffy academization of the Bard. His intent was to use Macbeth as a starting point for something quite different, for something purely cinematic. He then adapted the screenplay to the stage for the Utah performances.  

Much of Welles’ vaunted innovation throughout his career stemmed from necessity, from improvisation in the face of less than perfect circumstances. His radio shows conjured whole worlds on a merciless weekly deadline; the shadowy photography of Kane was conceived primarily as a method of concealing the lack of sets; and the staging of a famous scene in Othello amid the swirling steam of a Turkish bath was another inspired bit of improvisation, compensating for the fact that Welles’ supplier failed to deliver the costumes. Macbeth was essentially built from the start on a framework of improvisation amid low-budget circumstances, its design consisting of papier-maché sets rising above a bare soundstage, its staging and photographic angles organized around the necessities of the quick three-camera shooting schedule. 

Republic released the film in Europe to good reviews, but tested it only in select cities in America. They had already required Welles to cut about 20 minutes from it, but now they cut still more and insisted that as much of the dialogue as possible be re-recorded without the Scottish accents. (Welles had sought to return the play to its roots by abandoning the hybrid English accents that had become standard for interpretations of Shakespeare with a Scottish burr.) When this highly compromised version was finally officially released in the States after a lengthy delay, critical reception was largely hostile. While some of the footage has been replaced since then, and the Scottish-accent soundtrack restored, the film, like so many other Welles films, is still not quite the film he intended.  

The film still draws mixed reviews. Joseph McBride, one of Welles’ most sympathetic biographers, bemoans the lack of subtlety of Welles in the title role, the weakness of Jeanette Nolan as Lady Macbeth, and what he considers the budget-hampered photographic style, in which the actors move more than the camera. Meanwhile, David Thomson, generally one of Welles’ more critical biographers, describes the acting as “heartfelt and liberated” and flatly states that “no film since Kane had had so profoundly organized or expressive a photographic style.” 

Welles’ films, like the man himself, retain the power to polarize his most ardent fans, even after 60 years. 

 

MACBETH (1948) 

119 minutes. 2 p.m. Sunday. 

 

OTHELLO (1948-52) 

91 minutes. 4:30 p.m. Sunday. 

 

Pacific Film Archive. 2575 Bancroft Way. www.bampfa.berkeley.edu.


Working With Welles on ‘Macbeth’

By Ken Bullock, Special to The Planet
Friday March 21, 2008

"What Orson always said about his career,” Richard Connema reminisced about working on Macbeth with Orson Welles at Republic Studios in 1946, “was that when he came out with Citizen Kane, he was a big shot and everybody gave him Christmas presents. During the making of The Magnificent Ambersons, they still gave him presents. But the next year, after he got back from Brazil and with all the problems with the release of Ambersons, nobody gave him presents.” 

Connema, a lively reviewer for the national website Talkin’ Broadway and a member of the Bay Area Theater Critics Circle, is a familiar face at local opening nights (he covers over 200 shows annually). He started as “camera assistant,” as he carefully spelled it out (“or chief flunky”) at Republic, after World War II. “John Russell was chief photographer. Nobody was called cinematographer in those days. And during the halcyon days of Hollywood, nobody got credit either. Nowadays, you sit for 10 minutes after a film is over, and they list whoever drove the honeybucket wagon.” 

He detailed his advent in the Dream Factory. An Air Force cameraman in the Philippines, a service buddy who had worked for Republic before getting drafted, had made a pact with Connema to get him a studio job after discharge at Travis Air Force Base. But first he decided to go back home, to see family in Dayton, Ohio.  

“Of course, it was deadly dull,” he said. “I was thinking, ‘What am I doing here?’ when I got a telegram from my friend in Hollywood. It was just like in the movies. I was even waiting for the chorus girls when I got off the train with the suitcase in my hand. I guess I should’ve burst out with ‘Hooray for Hollywood!’” 

Connema started out as an apprentice, first on a Roy Rogers Western, “making sure the horses were moving, not shitting in front of the camera.”  

When he heard Welles would be directing Macbeth, he begged his friend to get him on the 23-day shoot.  

“When I was introduced to Orson, he gave me a weak handshake,” recalled Connema. “You know, like ‘Who are you?’ His ego was bouncing around the studio. I immediately told him I thought Citizen Kane was probably the best movie ever made—not to butter him up; I felt that way. Immediately, we became friends. Not buddy-buddy, but we did have lunch together a few times during production, and that’s what we mostly talked about, Citizen Kane.” 

Connema also heard Orson’s woes over the stringent budget Republic gave him, and the cutting that studio head Herbert Yates later demanded. 

“Orson desperately wanted to do Macbeth, but no one would touch it,” he said. “None of the studios wanted anything to do with Shakespeare, who they thought wouldn’t be box office in America. But Herbert Yates wanted to make Republic a first-rate studio and thought Orson’s name would help.” 

Connema continued: “It was really from Poverty Row. [Yates] tried art films, like Specter of the Rose, that went over like a lead balloon. He did make The Quiet Man in ’52. And The Red Pony. But they only lasted a few years trying to get into the majors, then went belly up, with Yates throwing money into films and nothing coming from it. With films like Wake of the Red Witch, they at least knew what the hell they were doing. That, and 55-minute musicals were the breadwinners, the B pictures that would go to Ohio, Illinois, down south...they’d eat it up there. Five lots, and only hillbillies on them, mountain views, god only knows what. And Republic relied on United Artists for distribution; Yates was irritated because they didn’t even use Republic’s eagle on them. Later, Jack Webb took over, and they shot Dragnet there. Now it’s used for sound.” 

The low production values in the film pushed Welles.  

“He had his fingers into everything, the costume design with Fred Ritter, he and Dan O’Herlihy doing the sets,” Connema said. “We all got into that, doing it as a lark. And the Republic people just didn’t know what to do. Thank god we had a western outfit when it came for the army in the Birnam Wood battle scene. They saved going into the extras pool and paying everyone $25, $30 a day by stopping a Roy Rogers film and sending me to the Western slots to go over to a bunch of cowboys in chaps, throw Scottish outfits that were more like sacks over their heads and give each a pike. ‘Cowboys for Scottish raiders?’ Orson said, and didn’t even have them muttering in Scottish as he had intended. They told me not to keep the guys very long—they had to get back to work with Roy Rogers—so those rags went right over the chaps. And they sent me running around looking for trees for Birnam Wood. On another lot I found sagebrush! They spray-painted it or something and had every cowboy handle a branch and walk towards the camera.” 

Seeing the papier-maché sets and hearing the pre-recorded Scottish voices coming over a speaker “for a lip-sync” made it “funny to be on the set. It looked like a high school play. We used to break up. Paper crowns on the heads. Orson using those shadowy, oblique camera angles of his, no full shots so you couldn’t see the phoniness of it.”  

Connema recalled a lunch with Welles and leading lady Jeanette Nolan, “a good actress, but not a good Lady Macbeth. Orson’s first choice was Vivien Leigh, but Laurence Olivier said, ‘No way you’re going to work with Orson Welles!’ [Nolan] joined us at the table, bitching about her outfit, asking why she had to climb the stairs, mouthing her lines—at the same time stumbling—and can’t we get more light in here? And I’d just listen, wet behind the ears, wondering if this is what every movie would be like.” 

The studio didn’t release Macbeth immediately. It would be the last Hollywood directorial credit for Welles for a decade, until Touch of Evil, his last studio film.  

“They had him cut out quite a lot,” Connema said. “At the first preview, Yates had a fit and walked out. He wouldn’t release it. Orson said he’d buy it, but didn’t have the $700,000. Yates made him take out the Scottish accents, and had a hard time getting actors to remouth it. Finally Orson didn’t want to either, and they had to tempt him to come back—with 50 grand. There’s a lot of narration where scenes are cut out. It only played the big cities, and the critics jumped all over it.” 

Connema later saw Welles’ stage production of Around the World in 80 Days, and spoke with Welles another time.  

“I remember him calling Republic a shit house, how he would’ve made a masterpiece if he’d been given a budget,” he said. “And I remember, too, during production, Roddy McDowell, who played Malcolm, had his camera with him, but no way, Orson told him not to bring it on set. He didn’t want photos of him directing in those cheap outfits to show up in one of Roddy’s gallery shows.”


East Bay Then and Now: Allenoke Manor Was a Scene of Hospitality for 5 Decades

By Daniella Thompson
Friday March 21, 2008
The south elevation of Allenoke Manor faces the gardens and Ridge Road.
Daniella Thompson
The south elevation of Allenoke Manor faces the gardens and Ridge Road.

When Berkeley boosters publicized the city circa 1905, they invariably pointed to the 1700 block of Le Roy Avenue as their shining example. Situated one block to the north of the UC campus, the short stretch between Le Conte Avenue and Ridge Road boasted two of Berkeley’s most opulent and ballyhooed residences: the Volney D. Moody house, known as “Weltevreden,” and the Allen G. Freeman house, “Allenoke.” Each was designed by a fashionable architect (A.C. Schweinfurth and Ernest Coxhead, respectively) and was clad in clinker brick-a material popular with Arts and Crafts builders. 

The two estates were separated by the north fork of Strawberry Creek, which could be traversed by two clinker-brick bridges. 

Allenoke’s owner, Allen Gleason Freeman (1853-1930), was born on a farm in Flushing, Michigan, the third of seven children. As a teenager, he worked on the farm, as did his elder brothers. Eventually he migrated to Chicago and entered the firm of J.K. Armsby Co., wholesale commission merchants who would come to control the distribution of fresh and dried California fruit and Alaskan salmon. It was probably in Chicago that Freeman met his future wife, Jessie Katherine Marsh (1858-1940), who was listed in the 1880 U.S. census as a reporter living in Hyde Park, Cook County, IL. Their marriage took place on May 25, 1887. 

The Freemans appeared in San Francisco the same year. By now, Allen was general manager of J.K. Armsby Co. In 1903, the company’s office would be located at 138 Market St. and include canned fruit, dried fruit & raisin, and bean departments. The canned fruit was marketed under the Argo, Ambassador, and Red Dart labels. Later, George Newell Armsby, the founder’s son, would engineer the merger that gave birth to the California Packing Corporation (Calpak), whose most famous brand was Del Monte. 

Living in San Francisco and then in Oakland, the Freemans were active members of the Unitarian Church. In 1890, Mrs. Freeman was treasurer of the newly established Pacific Coast Woman’s Unitarian Conference. The founding of the First Unitarian Church of Berkeley in 1891 gave the couple a reason to move here. 

In 1897, the congregation purchased land on the corner of Dana and Bancroft, and the following year, a shingled church designed by Schweinfurth was erected (it is now the University Dance Studio). The Freemans lived nearby, in a duplex at 2401 Telegraph Ave., which was then a highly desirable address. Duncan McDuffie would occupy the other flat in 1904, and Louis Titus lived a short block to the north. In 1902, Freeman and Titus were among the founding directors of the University Savings Bank of Berkeley. 

As the character of Telegraph Avenue was being transformed from high-end residential to apartments and retail blocks, the well-to-do began to move out. But even before the first business block went up, Allen Freeman bought a large parcel on the corner of Ridge Road and Le Roy Avenue, in Daley’s Scenic Park. Volney Moody, another Unitarian, had already built a manse on the same block in 1896, and a year earlier, the Unitarian Maybeck heralded the birth of the local Arts and Crafts movement by designing a brown-shingle house for Charles Keeler two blocks to the east. 

Schweinfurth, the architect of the Moody house and the First Unitarian Church, was already dead in 1903, when Freeman engaged the firm of Coxhead & Coxhead to design his house. Ernest Coxhead (1863-1933), like Maybeck and Schweinfurth an important early shaper of the First Bay Region Tradition, was English-born and -trained. In 1886, he and his older brother Almeric (1862-1928) established a practice in Los Angeles, moving to San Francisco four years later. 

Ten years prior to the Freeman commission, Coxhead designed the Beta Theta Pi fraternity house (now Goldman School of Public Policy) a block away. It resembled a row of houses in an old English village. For Freeman, Coxhead created a large Colonial Revival house with oversized gambrel dormers on the north and south façades. 

In many respects, Allenoke owes a debt to the Los Angeles house of business tycoon and art collector Edwin Tobias Earl, who in 1890 invented the refrigerated railroad car for shipping oranges to the East Coast. An earlier Coxhead design, the Earl house was built at 2425 Wilshire Bvld. in 1895-98 and demolished in 1957. Both houses featured steep roofs set with disproportionately large dormers (albeit in different styles); a projecting front porch fenestrated with arched openings on three sides and crowned with a neo-classical balustrade; a large, rectangular windowed bay projecting from the living room; and clinker brick exteriors. As in many other Coxhead residences, the rustic exterior belies a formal, rich interior. 

Allenoke was completed in 1904 and thrown open that fall in a series of cello and piano recitals performed by Frederick Stickney Gutterson and his wife Minnie Marie, who had recently returned from Europe. The San Francisco Call described the first recital on Nov. 8 as “one of the smartest musical affairs that has taken place on this side of the bay,” adding, “Mr. and Mrs. Freeman have just finished one of the most artistic residences in Berkeley.” The audience included “Oakland’s elite as well as society of the college town,” among them professors Soule, Rising, and Haskell; notable neighbors such as the Moodys, the Keelers, photographer Oscar Maurer, and Thomas Rickard, president of the Town Board of Trustees from 1903 to 1909; architect Clinton Day, and painter William Keith. 

The childless Freemans entertained regularly and famously. A luncheon offered in March 1908 for Professor Jacques Loeb’s mother-in-law numbered among its guests the wives of developer Frank C. Havens and UC president Benjamin Ide Wheeler. “The menu was served in Mrs. Freeman’s Chinese dining room,” informed the San Francisco Call, adding, “The details of the affair were carried out in the Chinese fashion.” 

A prominent clubwoman and patron of the arts, Katherine Freeman directed her charitable impulses toward the Berkeley Day Nursery and the Fabiola Hospital in Oakland. Her husband, meanwhile, went into business for himself, founding the Continental Salt & Chemical Company (later Alviso Salt Co.). He also became an importer and traveled regularly to Russia, Japan, Scandinavia, and Western Europe. Katherine accompanied him on some of these business trips. 

In 1919, the Freemans erected a Georgian Revival carriage house across the street, at 2533 Ridge Road. Mirroring the materials of the main house (clinker brick walls, slate roof) and reviving the oversized neo-classical elements so often used by Coxhead (dormers, porch pediment), this charming two-story structure was designed by Clarence A. Tantau (1884-1943), a Bay Area architect best known for his Spanish-style buildings. The carriage house sports two decorative chimneys, two hipped and one arched dormer gables, a fanciful glazed entrance porch on the second floor, and an enormous carriage lantern appended to the façade. 

The Allenoke estate, intact to this day, boasts a formal garden designed in 1923 and featuring a pergola, two fountains, and flower beds bordered by boxwood hedges. The imposing entrance gate is constructed of the same clinker bricks used for building the house and the surrounding wall.  

Mrs. Freeman died in January 1940, leaving an estate of close to $285,000. Wishing her house to go on being used “for the pleasure of many people,” she willed it to Robert Sibley, executive manager of the California Alumni Association. Between 1912 and 1924, Sibley and his family had lived around the corner, five of those years as tenants in the house of Mrs. Freeman’s sister. 

After making various bequests to relatives and friends (including a combined $54,000 to Sibley and his wife), Mrs. Freeman willed the residue of her estate to the University of California. However, when the State inheritance tax appraiser filed his report on Sept. 27, 1941, it transpired that bequests and taxes had reduced UC’s residue to a mere $1,181. 

A notable conservationist and hiking enthusiast, Sibley (1881-1958) led the movement that resulted in the 1933 legislation establishing the East Bay Regional Park District on EBMUD surplus watershed lands. He served as director and president of the district from 1948 until his death in 1958. In Sibley’s honor, one of his favorites parks, Round Top, was renamed Robert Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve. 

During the 1940s, the Sibleys entertained countless students and alumni at Allenoke. In 1952, they published their recollections in the book University of California Pilgrimage: A Treasury of Tradition, Lore and Laughter, where they recount that “one time we had 400 people for breakfast.” 

Robert’s second wife, Carol (1902-1986), was a well-known community figure in her own right. She served as president of the Berkeley School Board from 1961 to 1971 and presided over the successful racial integration of Berkeley’s public schools (as well as surviving a recall attempt launched against her and other board members who had voted for the program, the first voluntary desegregation of a public school district in the United States). She contributed her time and energy to many civic groups, including the charitable organization A Dream for Berkeley, and was a founder of the All Berkeley Coalition (ABC), which played a key role in Berkeley politics in the 1980s. 

Following Robert Sibley’s retirement, the couple built several rental income units on the Allenoke estate. In 1949, a two-story, four-unit, flat-roofed redwood & stucco apartment building was erected in front of the carriage house by architect-builder John F. Pruyn. The following year, two similar buildings were constructed along the north portion of the main property. In 1956, the southern part of the clinker brick wall along Le Roy Avenue was replaced by four garages with a trellised roof garden. Another three-car garage was carved out of the brick wall in 1959. The same year, following Robert Sibley’s death, Carol Sibley converted the main house—made a duplex in 1952—into six units.  

The 2533 Ridge Road carriage-house property was willed to Robert’s daughter Catherine, a protegée of Max Reinhardt and responsible for bringing his famous production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” to Faculty Glade. In 1976, Mrs. Sibley built a Japanese-style pavilion, designed by Michael Severin, between the two apartment buildings north of the main house. There she lived until the end of her life. 

In the late 1980s, Allenoke was acquired by Dr. Frederick M. “Ted” Binkley (1924-2006) and his wife Marian. An eminent vascular surgeon at UCSF, Binkley had played varsity football and basketball as a student at Cal and lived at the Phi Kappa Psi house, located a block away from Allenoke, at 2625 Hearst Avenue. Under the Binkleys’ watch, Allenoke was restored to it original grandeur and single-family use. It was designated a City of Berkeley Landmark in November 1986. 

 

 

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


Garden Variety: The Accidental Gardener Confesses, or Brags

By Ron Sullivan
Friday March 21, 2008
Salsify—“oyster plant”—is a common local weed with an edible root.
Ron Sullivan
Salsify—“oyster plant”—is a common local weed with an edible root.

I do have a modest talent for growing things. The catch is that what grows isn’t always what I had in mind.  

I accidentally raised a colony of mushrooms in my former truck’s cab—Peziza domiciliana, the North American bathroom mushroom. Fungi are commonly uninvited garden (and bathroom) guests. Sometimes they portend disaster, like armillaria around an oak. Sometimes they’re a fairy ring gracing a lawn. Sometimes they’re a pure gift. When we first moved to this house, I was in raging despair over the sullen, poorly drained clay. After a day of wrestling with it (and losing) we found a morel. One morel. It was a shill; we haven’t seen a morel since, even after soggy winters, but it was a brief consolation.  

I am also learning to eat the weeds. I suspect this is a hardwired survival trait. Before I’d made my mind up about what to put in one bare spot, a sprawly octopus of purslane-verdolaga-had homestaked it. Guess what? It tastes a bit like sorrel, and it’s crunchy. I’m not stalking the wild asparagus here (though I have seen it in ditches in the Delta) but knowing I can eat some invaders makes gardening somehow less of a war. 

I’d learned about purslane just in time. I still slap myself now for passing up that nasty-looking corn my friend Ray grew in his yard years ago. It had some ominous gray swollen kernels… Yes, huitlacoche, a.k.a. cuitlacoche, a.k.a. corn smut. That name must be designed to fend off the hoi polloi. 

At the time, Ray had one of those gardens where half the weeds are purple potatoes and half are poison hemlock. You do want to know what you’re biting into.  

I am both tantalized and appalled at the furious spread of feral Chinese chives—miles of it along roadsides in Marin, and patches in isolated parks where endangered plants live. They’re tasty; maybe we can eat them all. Just don’t admit their provenance. 

Then again, I’ve seen pickleweed going for over $5 a pound: that jointed crunchy stuff that covers most of the Bay’s salt marshes. I’m keeping an eye out for a clean wild source. I have enough water for it in my yard most winters, but it’s not saltwater.  

I started young, gardening accidentally. When I was a kid, one thing we did around Halloween was shell out dry corn kernels and throw them to rattle against people’s windows at night. (It was an innocent time.) I threw some at my own front window, and that spring Dad mulched the shrubs. Suddenly we had cornstalks. They bore a few ears: we ate some, and the rest dried and shelled out nicely.  

Sometimes, though, I have to accept the plant’s idea of placement. I dropped a potted Lady Banks’ rose by the driveway and forgot it for a month. It grew through its pot and now blooms at my second-story kitchen window. Hummingbirds and bushtits nest in it. 

My garden’s no better organized than my wardrobe, but cultivating surprise is so pleasant I’ll call it a talent.


About the House: Who’s Buried in the Yard?

By Matt Cantor
Friday March 21, 2008

I crawled out from underneath someone’s house the other day and placed in the hands of a brow-knit homeowner, a pithy black rock. Before she could form the words for what she could not quite specify, I said “Coal … Anthracite, I think” (as though I know anything about coal). Since she continued to bear that befuddled look, I explained that I’d been under the house and that there, near the furnace, I’d found a few of these black shiny artifacts of geophysics. 

“I’m fairly certain that the hulk of a furnace in the crawlspace was once a coal burning device” I said and that it had been converted from this to natural gas at some point, perhaps 90 years ago. But that wasn’t my real concern. A few piece of coal in the crawlspace aren’t particularly dangerous although the converted furnace was long overdue for replacement.  

My concern was related but only as a first cousin removed once or twice. Earlier in the day, I had noticed a pipe running up the side of the house that seemed to stop, think a while, go back down an inch or two and just give up. Oh, I said to myself. Could there be an oil tank on the property. 

In the first two decades of the twentieth century, oil tanks were being used a fair amount in our area. Fuel oil, still commonly used in the East Coast was used to run central heating systems. Some of these systems heated water and some heated air and used ducting. While virtually none of these exist in working form today (I’ve never seen one ‘round these parts) the tanks and piping may still be lurking beneath your soil. 

As regulations regarding safe ground water have developed over the past few decades, this issue has brought with it some financial hazards. As a homeowner, you may be held accountable, should a tank of this kind be found and known to leak.  

Discovery of a tank requires that it be examined to determine if it IS leaking. If a tank is found to be leaking, it will have to be removed along with enough soil to assure that the ground water is safe.  

And water is the issue. Water is an increasingly precious resource and local harvesting of water may be on its way back as the cost of water and water delivery increases in coming decades. 

Tim Hallen of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Tank Removal helped me get some of my facts straight. While most tanks are not leaking, it’s almost impossible to tell if they have, until a tank has been removed. Further, all tanks will eventually leak, so keeping one is a bad idea.  

Once your tank is removed (this may be in the ballpark of ten grand) the soil can then be tested and removed to some extent if needed. Removal of soil is generally in the three to six thousand dollar range including backfilling with clean soil. 

Communities vary in the cleanliness required in the soil around tanks. While an Oakland house may allow as much as one hundred PPM petroleum hydrocarbon, some areas allow no detectable amount and may demand increased soils replacement. 

If you’re living on a property that was used as a residence over eighty years ago, you may want to look for some of the following items as they may indicate the presence of an oil tank: 

Small diameter tubing in the area of the furnace or in an area that previously housed a furnace. This can include a pair of quarter inch copper tubes or a single small diameter galvanized pipe. Other signs are pipes that make a U-turn after they come up out of the ground near the house exterior. This is a breather for the oil tank and is essentially, an open pipe that won’t take on rain water by being turned downward. 

I’m told, but have never seen, a pump and wiring system in the crawlspace for pumping heavy oil. This may go along with the dual tubing I mentioned above. Apparently, when great grandpa bought the oil system, an array of numbered oil grades were available (ranging from Bunker oil, whatever that was, to the more familiar diesel oil). 

Lastly, there may be signs of a tank in the form of a cover, cap or medallion in the driveway or sidewalk. These are fill caps and no different from the one on your car. Remove them (if you can) and you’ll find (or smell) an oil storage system. 

Tim tells me that most tanks aren’t leaking today (his rough guess was 95 percent) but that many tank removal companies will claim higher numbers so beware of those who want to perform further soil removal when it’s not necessary. A second opinion after removal may be your only option. 

If you have a tank, it’s most likely to be near the sidewalk for the simple reason that it was easiest to install. A typical size is about ten feet long and five-feet wide (goodness!) so it’s quite a project taking one out. A backyard tank may be smaller. 

Expect oil to remain inside. The output tubing on these tanks wasn’t at the bottom so they tend to still have some oil, even if they were run to a sputter. 

While it can be a hard call deciding when to have an expert out to check the property, the cost is really quite small. For about $75 you can have an expert check your property for a tank. My feeling is that if the property you’re on is older (including those that bore a previous home), it’s cheap assurance to have this done.  

If you’re in a neighborhood that was likely to have had a large furnace in the aught through the ‘30s (larger houses generally) it’s worth the money. 

Rachel Carson said, “In an age when man has forgotten his origins and is blind even to his most essential needs for survival, water along with other resources has become the victim of his indifference.” 

That indifference may soon become a pressing and intimately personal matter in the coming decades.  

Discovering your own role in tainting that vital resource may, today, seem an irrelevant nuisance but tomorrow may make all the difference. 

 

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


Berkeley This Week

Friday March 21, 2008

FRIDAY, MARCH 21 

Good Friday Witness at Livermore Nuclear Weapons Lab at 6:45 a.m. at Vasco & Patterson Pass Rd. , Livermore Nuclear Weapons Lab. Prayer service and nonviolent civil disobedience action with Father Louie Vitale. Following the action, there will be a community gathering in Livermore, to share our concerns and work. Sponsored by Ecumenical Peace Institute & Livermore Conversion Project. 655-1162. www.epicalc.org 

Support the Iraq Moratorium! Demonstrate against the war! From 2 to 4 p.m. at Acton and University Aves. Bring your signs and determination. Sponsored by the Strawberry Creek Tenants Ass’n., Berkeley Gray Panthers and Iraq Moratorium. 841-4143. 

City Commons Club Noon Luncheon with Dr. Georgia Wright on “Using Nuclear Technology to Analyze Medieval Sculpture” Luncheon at 11:45 a.m. for $14.50, speech at 12:30 p.m., at the Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant St. For information and reservations call 526-2925.  

Berkeley Women in Black weekly vigil from noon to 1 p.m. at Bancroft and Telegraph. Our focus is human rights in Palestine. 548-6310. 

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 

SATURDAY, MARCH 22 

Rainbow Ramblers Hike in Wildcat Canyon Led by naturalist Bethany Facendini, from 10 a.m. to 3p.m. Explore nature’s diversity during this invigorating 5-miler over varied terrain especially for the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer community. Everybody is welcome! Meet at the Rifle Range Road trailhead. Bring water and lunch. Call 525-2233. 

Spring Egg Hunt for ages 1-7 and treasure hunt for ages 8-10, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Willard Park, corner of Hillegass and Derby. There will also be a petting zoo, and arts and crafts. Cost is $5. 981-5140. 

GPS Scavenger Hunt Follow the directions on the GPS for clues along the trails, from 9 a.m. to noon at Pt. Pinole, Richmond. GPS units and instruction provided. Cost is $12-$14. Registration required. Class #17385. 1-888-EBPARKS. 

Ferment Change! A Benefit for West Oakland’s City Slicker Farms Come join us for a fermented food feast and celebration of urban agriculture at 7 p.m. at Ecology Center, 2530 San Pablo Ave., near Dwight Way. Donation of $10-$30 requested, no one turned away due to lack of funds.. 548-2220, ext. 233. max@ecologycenter.org 

Volunteer to Help Remove Non-native Plants Help remove non-native vegetation and promote the health of our recently planted native plants like sticky gumplant, California sagebrush, and marsh coyote bush. Other activities include planting native plants, shoreline cleanup, and work in our native plant nursery. From 9 am. to noon at Martin Luther King, Jr. Regional Shoreline, Oakland. 452-9261, ext. 119. www.savesfbay.org/bayevents 

Plant Portraits and Garden Images Learn how to take better plant and flower photographs. Class designed for beginning photographers with digital cmaeras capable of close-up imaging. From 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Tilden Park Botanic Garden. Cost is $50-$55. Registration required. 841-8732. www.nativeplanets.org 

Safe Routes to Schools Bike Workshop for children and parents at 9:30 a.m. at Washington School. Bring your bike and helmet. Cost is $10. Space limited, reservations required. RSVP to 740-3150, ext. 332. 

Workshop for Children: Naturally Dyed Easter Eggs A hands-on workshop using natural dyes to careate Easter eggs. From 2 to 3 p.m. at UC Botanical Garden, 200 Centennial Dr. Cost is $15 for one adult and one child, $8 for each additional child. 643-2755, ext. 03. http://botanicalgarden.berkeley.edu . 

“Womens’ Power” A video by Max Danshu at 7 p.m. at Redwood Gardens Community Room, 2951 Derby St. Donations welcome. www.suppressedhistories.net/womanspowerdvd.html 

Re-envisioning Revolution and Communism: What is Bob Avakian’s New Synthesis? A presentation followed by discussion at 2 p.m. at Black Repertory Theater, 3201 Adeline St. Cost is $10, sliding scale. 848-1196. www.revolutionbooks.org 

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

Around the World Tour of Plants at 1:30 p.m., Thurs., Sat. and Sun. at UC Botanical Garden, 200 Centennial Drive. 643-2755.  

The Berkeley Lawn Bowling Club provides free instruction every Wed. and Sat. at 10:30 a.m. at 2270 Acton St. 841-2174.  

Oakland Artisans Marketplace Sat. from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sun. from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Jack London Square. 238-4948. 

SUNDAY, MARCH 23 

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. 

“Cooking for Peace” Food Not Bombs co-founder Keith McHenry will talk about the history, principles and future of Food Not Bombs’ gobal work at 7 p.m. at the Long Haul, 3124 Shattuck Ave. 540-0751. 

Philosophers: G.E.M. Anscombe & Celia Green for Women’s History Month A lecture by H. D. Moe at 3 p.m. at Humanist Hall 390 27th St., Oakland. Donations welcome. 528-8713, 451-5818. 

Easter Egg Hunt for children under 10 at 1:30 p.m. at Elephant Pharmacy, 1607 Shattuck Ave. 549-9200. 

Youth Musical Theater Auditions for “Into the Woods” for students in grades 7-12. Appointments required. 595-5514. infor@ymtcberkeley.org 

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

Lake Merritt Neighbors Organized for Peace Peace walk around the lake every Sun. Meet at 3 p.m. at the colonnade at the NE end of the lake. 763-8712. lmno4p.org 

Berkeley Chess Club meets every Sun. at 7 p.m. at the Hillside School, 1581 Le Roy Ave. 843-0150. 

Tibetan Buddhism with Betty Cook on “Awakening to Freedom and Good Fortune” at 6 p.m. at the Tibetan Nyingma Institute, 1815 Highland Pl. 809-1000 www.nyingmainstitute.com 

Sew Your Own Open Studio Come learn to use our industrial and domestic machines, or work on your own projects, from 4 to 8 p.m. at 84 Bolivar Dr., Aquatic Park. Also on Fri. from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Cost is $5 per hour. 644-2577. www.watersideworkshops.org 

MONDAY, MARCH 24 

Three Mile Monday A hike along Sobrante Ridge to search for the rare Alameda manzanita, from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Bring poles, as portions of the hike are steep, water and lunch. For information on meeting place call 525-2233. 

Leah Garchick in Conversation with Jon Carroll on Garchick’s new book “Real Life Romance: Everyday Wisdom on Love, Sex, and Relationships” at 7 p.m. at Berkeley Rep’s Trust Stage, 2025 Addison St. Fundraiser for Park Day School Tickets are $18-$25. www.parkdayschool.org 

Berkeley CopWatch organizational meeting at 8 p.m. at 2022 Blake St. Volunteers needed. 548-0425. 

Free Boatbuilding Classes for Youth Mon.-Wed. from 3 to 7 p.m. at Berkeley Boathouse, 84 Bolivar Dr., Aquatic Park. Classes cover woodworking, boatbuilding, and boat repair. 644-2577. www.watersideworkshops.org 

TUESDAY, MARCH 25 

Tuesdays for the Birds Tranquil bird walks in local parklands, led by Bethany Facendini, from 7 to 9:30 a.m. Today we will visit the Eastshore State Park, Berkeley Meadow. Call for meeting place and if you need to borrow binoculars. 525-2233. 

National Nutrition Month, with cooking demonstrations, free samples and free recipes, at the Berkeley Farmers’ Market from 2 to 6 p.m. at Derby St. and Martin Luther King Jr. Way. 548-3333. www.ecologycenter.org 

El Cerrito Democratic Club Meet the Candidates Night with candidates for Assembly District 14, State Senate Districts 7 and 9, at 7:30 p.m. at El Cerrito United Methodist Church, 6830 Stockton St., near Richmond Ave. Childcare provided, call 375-5647. www.ecsclub.org 

“Adventuring Around the World on a Budget” with Dan and Emily Schaffer-Kling, at 7 p.m. at REI, 1338 San Pablo Ave. 527-4140. 

Docent Training for Tilden Nature Area Learn to assist the naturalists in providing interpretive programs at the Little Farm and nature area gardens, from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Fee is $35. Application required. For information call 544-3260. 

Seniors Against Investment Fraud A free workshop to help older adults avoid fraud, identity theft, and questionable investment offers, at 12:15 p.m. at St. Jarlath's Catholic Church, 2620 Pleasant St., corner of Fruitvale, Oakland. 452-0868.  

“Speed of Flight” A workshop for children to make parachutes, paper airplanes and kites from noon to 2 p.m. at Lawrence Hall of Science, Centennial Drive. Cost is $6-$9. 642-5132. 

Community Conversation on CEDAW/CERD: The United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant Ave. 259-3871. 

Parents’ Book Discussion Group on Frances O’Roark Dowell’s “Chicken Boy” at 6 p.m. at the Family Resource Center, 435 Goodling Way, Bldg. 123, Apt. 456, University Village, Albany. Sponsored by the Albany Library. 526-3720, ext. 17. 

Tuesday Tilden Walkers Join a few slowpoke seniors at 9:30 a.m. in the parking lot near the Little Farm for an hour or two walk. 215-7672, 524-9992. 

Berkeley School Volunteers Orientation from 4 to 5 p.m. at 1835 Allston Way. Come learn about volunteer opportunities. 644-8833. 

End the Occupation Vigil every Tues. at noon at Oakland Federal Bldg., 1301 Clay St. www.epicalc.org 

Family Storytime at 7 p.m. at Kensington Library, 61 Arlington Ave. 524-3043.  

Sing-A-Long Group from 2 to 3 p.m. at the Albany Senior Center, 846 Masoni Ave., Albany. 524-9122. 

Street Level Cycles Community Bike Program Come use our tools as well as receive help with performing repairs free of charge. Youth classes available. Tues., Thurs., and Sat. from 2 to 6 p.m. at at 84 Bolivar Dr., Aquatic Park. 644-2577. www.watersideworkshops.org 

Berkeley PC Users Group meets at 7 p.m. at 1145 Walnut St. 527-2177. 

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.  

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, MARCH 26 

“Getting Rich off War: Blackwater and Halliburton” with Nancy Mencias of Global Exchange and Mary Magill, Gray Panther at the Berkeley-East Bay Gray Panthers meeting at 1:30 p.m. at the North Berkeley Senior Center, 1901 Hearst, corner of MLK. 527-0659. 

Radical Movie Night: “Bandit Queen” A film biography of Phoolan Devi at 8:30 p.m. at the Long Haul, 3124 Shattuck Ave. 540-0751. 

“Bush Family Fortunes” A documentary by Greg Palast on the connections between the Bush family and the Saudi Royal family at 7:30 p.m. at Humanist Hall, 390 27th St., Oakland. Donation $5. www.Humanist Hall.org 

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 

Teen Chess Club from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. at the North Branch Library, 1170 The Alameda at Hopkins. 981-6133. 

Theraputic Recreation at the Berkeley Warm Pool, Wed. at 3:30 p.m. and Sat. at 10 a.m. at the Berkeley Warm Pool, 2245 Milvia St. Cost is $4-$5. Bring a towel. 632-9369. 

Morning Meditation Every Mon., Wed., and Fri. at 7:45 a.m. at Rudramandir, 830 Bancroft Way at 6th. 486-8700. 

After-School Program Homework help, drama and music for children ages 8 to 18, every Wed. from 4 to 7:15 p.m. at St. John’s Presbyterian Church, 2727 College Ave. Cost is $5 per week. 845-6830. 

Stitch ‘n Bitch at 6:30 p.m. at Caffe Trieste, 2500 San Pablo Ave., at Dwight. 548-5198.  

THURSDAY, MARCH 27 

“Sustainable Stewardship: Historic Preservation’s Essential Role in Fighting Climate Change” with Richard Moe, President of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, at 7:30 p.m. at First Church of Christ, Scientist, 2619 Dwight Way. Jon Carroll, San Francisco Chronicle columnist, will also speak. Suggested donation $20; free admission for students with ID. A reception will follow the address. Proceeds go to the preservation work at the Church. For further information, contact Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association at 841-2242. http://berkeleyheritage.com 

Tilden Explorers An after-school nature adventure program for 5-7 year olds. We will hunt for amphibians from 3:15 to 4:15 p.m. Cost is $6-$8. Registration required. 1-888-327-2757. 

Tilden Tots Join a nature adventure program for 3 and 4 year olds, each accompanied by an adult (grandparents welcome)! We’ll look for amphibians from 10 to 11:30 a.m. at Tilden Nature Center, Tilden Park. Cost is $6-$8. Registration required. 1-888-EBPARKS. 

“Under the Sea” A workshop for children to learn about how animals adapt to waves and predators, and how tide pool animals survive, from noon to 2 p.m. at Lawrence Hall of Science, Centennial Drive. Cost is $6-$9. 642-5132. 

Immigration Forum: A discussion on issues and implications for the c/ommunity at 7 p.m. at Richmond Public Library’s Madeline F. Whittlesey Community Room, 325 Civic Center Plaza, Richmond. Sponsored by the Richmond Public Library and the ACLU. 620-6561. 

Berkeley Democratic Club’s Endorsement Meeting for State Senate (9th SD) and for the 14th Assembly District at 7 p.m. at Northbrae Community Church, 941 The Alameda. 

East Bay Association for Women in Science “Careers in Clinical Research and Regulatory Affairs” with Gladys Ingle, Clinical Regulatory Associate at Genentech; Miki Yamamoto, Regulatory Affairs Associate at Genentec, and Peih F. Chiang Inc, Clinical Research Consultant, at 7 p.m., light supper at 6:30 p.m. at Novartis, Building 4, Room 104, 5300 Chiron Way, Emeryville. Check-in at the guard station on 53rd St. at Chiron Way prior to parking. Suggested donations of $5-$10. ebawis_secretary@yahoo.com 

Easy Does It Board of Directors’ Meeting at 6:30 p.m. at 1636 University Ave. 845-5513. edi@easyland.org  

Jim Hightower “Swim Against the Current: Even a Dead Fish Can Go with the Flow” at 7:30 p.m. at First Congregational Church of Berkeley, 2345 Channing Way. Tickets are $12-$15. www.brownpapertickets.com  

Teen Book Club meets to discuss poetry at 4 p.m. at Claremont Branch Library, 2940 Benvenue. 981-6121. 

Fitness Class for 55+ at 9:15 a.m. at Jewish Community Center, 1414 Walnut St. 848-0237. 

Babies & Toddlers Storytime at 10:15 and 11:15 a.m. at Kensington Library, 61 Arlington Ave. 524-3043.  

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  

E-Waste Recycling St. Vincent de Paul of Alameda County accepts electronic waste including computers, dvd players, cell phones, fax machines and many other ewaste products for disposal free of charge at many of its locations throughout Alameda County. Free bulk pick-up available. 638-7600.  

Free Tax Help If your 2007 household income was less than $42,000, you are eligible for free tax preparation from United Way's Earn it! Keep It! Save It! Sites are open now through April 15 in Alameda and Contra Costa counties. To find a site near you, call 800-358-8832. www.EarnItKeepItSaveIt.org 

CITY MEETINGS 

Parks and Recreation Commission meets Mon., Mar. 24, at 7 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center. 981-5158.  

Zero Waste Commission Mon., Mar. 24, at 7 p.m., at 1201 Second St. 981-6368.  

City Council meets Tues., Mar. 25, at 7 p.m in City Council Chambers. 981-6900. www.ci. 

berkeley.ca.us/citycouncil 

Civic Arts Commission meets Wed., Mar. 26, at 6:30 p.m. at the North Berkeley Senior Center. 981-7533.  

Energy Commission meets Wed., Mar. 26, at 6:30 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center. 981-5434.  

Planning Commission meets Wed., Mar. 26, at 7 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center. 981-7484. 

Police Review Commission meets Wed., Mar. 26, at 7 p.m. at the South Berkeley Senior Center. 981-4950.  

Mental Health Commission meets Thurs., Mar. 27, at 5 p.m. at 2640 MLK Jr. Way, at Derby. 981-5213.  

Zoning Adjustments Board meets Thurs., Mar. 27, at 7 p.m., in City Council Chambers. 981-7410.