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Mediation Urged in Thai Temple Dispute—           The Berkeley Thai Temple, at 1911 Russell St., attracts a large Sunday brunch crowd, sparking complaints from neighbors and concern from city officials, who charge that the temple has violated its permit with the weekly brunches.
Riya Bhattacharjee
Mediation Urged in Thai Temple Dispute— The Berkeley Thai Temple, at 1911 Russell St., attracts a large Sunday brunch crowd, sparking complaints from neighbors and concern from city officials, who charge that the temple has violated its permit with the weekly brunches.
 

News

Court Rejects Berkeley Appeal, Police Complaint Hearings Must Still Be Closed

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Wednesday October 08, 2008 - 04:56:00 PM

A California Appeals Court has ruled that the City of Berkeley’s Police Review Commission must continue to exclude the public from complaint hearings against Berkeley Police officers, and must continue to bar public access to peace officer personnel records or other records relating to Police Review Commission investigations or findings in such complaints. 

The Appeals Court ruling will have no effect on current PRC procedures, which follow a 2006 California Supreme Court ruling and a related Superior Court judge decision blocking public access to such police complaint records and hearings. 

But at least one Berkeley city official said he feels that the ruling will have a long-term damaging effect on preventing possible police abuse of citizens. 

“It seems strange that if a public official [such as a police officer] is really abusing the public, the public doesn’t have the right to know this,” City Councilmember Kriss Worthington said by telephone, following announcement of the ruling. “I don’t think secrecy is a good tool for helping to promote accountability. I think it will discourage people from using the [PRC police complaint] process.” 

Berkeley’s PRC, which was established in 1973, held open police complaint hearings and provided public access to its findings and other complaint records until August 2006, when the California Supreme Court ruled in its landmark Copley Press v. San Diego ruling that such hearings should be closed and such records withheld from the public. 

Meanwhile, the Berkeley Police Association union had filed a complaint in California Superior Court in 2002, seeking to close BPA hearings and records to the public. That case languished in Superior Court until the Supreme Court’s Copley ruling, following which the Superior Court judge immediately ruled in BPA’s favor. 

In May of last year, Berkeley City Council voted to appeal the Superior Court ruling, setting up this week’s Appeal Court decision. 

Berkeley at first suspended all PRC police complaint hearings following the Copley and Superior Court BPA rulings in 2006, but restarted them on a closed-door basis last year. Since then, the commission has had trouble reducing the hearing backlog caused by the long suspension. 

In late January of this year, PRC minutes show a backlog of 81 open complaints, with only three police hearings scheduled and two postponed. In late March, the commission reported the same 81 open-case backlog, with two cases “ready to go to hearing.” In late May there were still 80 open cases, with four hearings scheduled in May and June. In late June, the commission reported 75 open complaints and one hearing scheduled. On July 23, the last PRC meeting for which online minutes are available, the commission reported 75 complaints pending and said that hearings had been suspended while staff determined how many complaints might have to be dismissed because the statute of limitations had run out. 

The PRC meets every second and fourth Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the South Berkeley Senior Center. 

Berkeley Public Information Officer Mary Kay Clunies-Ross said that the Berkeley City Attorney’s office is still reviewing the Appeals Court ruling, which it received yesterday, and is “considering the options.” 

Clunies-Ross said that the Appeals Court decision was “obviously unfortunate,” adding that the city is “committed to open government.”  

She said that the City Attorney’s office will make any recommendations for future action to the City Council, which will make the ultimate decision on how the city will react. Clunies-Ross said that no date has been set for the city attorney’s recommendation to City Council. 

Representatives of the Police Review Commission and the Berkeley Police Association could not be reached in time for comment for this story.


Dual Tragedy Shocks Apartment Residents

By Richard Brenneman
Tuesday October 07, 2008 - 05:01:00 PM

The body of a 44-year-old Berkeley man lay decomposing in his studio apartment for at least two weeks, while his aging mother, who suffers from dementia, remained inside, surrounded by an ever-growing mound of garbage bags. 

Deputy D. Sanchez of the Alameda County Coroner’s office identified the man as David Bateman. The cause of death remains undetermined, pending the outcome of toxicology tests—which are at least six to eight weeks away. 

The body was discovered by a concerned neighbor in a third-floor studio in the 36-unit building at 1915 Chestnut Street on Sept. 30. 

The neighbor said the dead man’s mother was found by another neighbor in a state of confusion and suffering from dehydration, and surrounded by at least 20 garbage bags, which were initially thought to be the source of the strong odor inside the apartment. “She went to check on her because no one had seen her for days,” said the caller. 

Asked about her son, the woman replied, “He’s asleep.” 

Only as the neighbor moved the bags did the body appear, prompting a call to 911. Police were the first to arrive, and saw to the mother’s hospitalization. 

“She was gone by the time we got there,” said Deputy Sanchez, who confirmed the neighbor’s report that she had been taken first to a local hospital and then to another facility in Sacramento, where a daughter lives. 

A neighbor said officers insisted on leaving the doorway to the apartment open while they ventilated the apartment. 

“We asked them not to, but they insisted. It still smells terrible,” said the neighbor. “We’re all burning incense like crazy.” 

Sanchez said that a time of death hadn’t been determined, though the body had been in the apartment for at least two weeks before its discovery. 

“It’s not like CSI where you can determine the time of death to the minute,” he said, referring to the popular three-show CBS-TV franchise. 

The neighbor said the dead man had cared for his mother, taking out the trash and doing her shopping. “She had a hard time even going to get her mail,” said the neighbor.


Flash: Suspects Held for June Killing

By Bay City News
Monday October 06, 2008 - 09:53:00 PM

Berkeley police today arrested a 20-year-old man in connection with the killing of his stepfather in June and another suspect turned himself in later in the day. 

Charles Faison, who was 39 when he died, was found in a home in the 2000 block of Emerson Street in Berkeley around 12:15 p.m. June 20.  

Faison had been shot and died at the scene, police said. 

At about 10:20 a.m. today Berkeley officers executed a search warrant in a home in the 2200 block of 33rd Street of Oakland and detained Deontae Faison, 20. 

Police said Deontae Faison is a suspected accessory to his stepfather's murder and was booked into Alameda County Jail. 

Around 5 p.m. today, a 15-year-old Berkeley boy turned himself into Berkeley police and was booked into Juvenile Hall for Charles Faison's murder. 


Richmond Activists Blast Police Union 'Racist' Flyer

By Richard Brenneman
Monday October 06, 2008 - 04:52:00 PM

A rainbow coalition of Richmond activists on Monday demanded that the city’s powerful police union rescind an electoral mailer they described as a racist hit piece. 

Members of Richmond Community United for Peace gathered outside the Richmond Police Department on Regatta Boulevard to attack the mailer which hit mailboxes just as voters are preparing to cast absentee ballots, with the Richmond Police Officers Association listed as its return address,. 

Coalition spokesperson Andres Soto said the flyer “is blatantly racist against the Latino community,” and “designed to distract people from the issues” in the upcoming election. 

Phillip Mehas, a member of the board of the regional ACLU chapter, said that in his 10 years in the area he had seen derogatory mailings before, “but nothing as racist as this.” 

“Public safety held hostage,” declared the flyer. “Stop crime before it happens” and “Arrogant disrespect for public safety.” 

The stark headlines were placed over photos of activist Juan Reardon, who served as campaign manager to Mayor Gayle McLaughlin, holding up a sign in Spanish warning of a police driver's license checkpoint ahead. 

Inside, headlines declared “Mexican drug dealers,” “Honduras [sic] drug dealers,” “El Salvadorian drug dealers” and “Drugs come to Richmond from across the Mexican border,” with “Richmond” and “Mexican border” underlined, and the accompanying text referring to “Mexican drug wars,” “headless bodies” and “on-going orgies of violence!” 

Latinos were the only drug-dealers mentioned in the flyer. 

A statement in the flyer from Richmond Police Officers Association Vice President Sgt. Andre Hill declares: “Gayle McLaughlin and Juan Reardon plan to exempt Latinos from the rule of law because many are illegal residents and do not have a driver’s license.” 

The flyer also declares that Reardon is campaign manager for two McLaughlin allies running for City Council seats, cardiologist Jeff Ritterman and activist Jovanka Beckles, an allegation refuted by Charles Smith, Green Party candidate for the East Bay Municipal Utility District board and a labor activist, who said flatly, “That’s not true.” 

Fred Jackson of North Richmond’s Neighborhood House, an African-American community leader, said, “I could not let this kind of dirty politics go on without speaking out,” and urged all Richmond residents to come together to live out the dream of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. rather than succumb to the politics of division." 

The politically powerful police union is backed in its complaint by one member of the city’s police commission, marketing executive and City Council candidate Chris Tallerico, who appears in the flyer, declaring that “our Mayor and Juan Reardon are taking our City on a dangerous, unequal course, replacing ‘rule of law’ with their own political agenda.” 

But another commission, Roberto Reyes, appeared at Monday’s press conference both to call the community to join in honoring fallen officer Brad Moody, who is expected to die soon from injuries received in a fatal accident Saturday morning, and to criticize the police union mailer. 

“It is unfortunate that the Richmond Police Officers Association has chosen to release their garbage around the time of the election,” Reyes said.  

Calls to the police association’s phone number were met with a recording station that the association’s voice mailbox was full and not accepting messages. 

Sad beginning 

Monday’s press conference began outside the station, where flags were flying at half mast for Richmond Police officer Moody. Soto began the conference with a tribute to Moody followed by a moment of silence to honor the fallen officer. 

The 29-year-old Moody was critically injured when his police car truck a utility pole in the center median on rain-slicked Marina Bay Parkway as he was responding to a felony assault with injuries emergency call Saturday morning. After what Police Chief Chris Magnus called “heroic effects at the accident scene” by police and PG&E employees, the stricken officer was rushed to John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek, “where it was determined that his injuries were not life-survivable.” 

In a press statement released Monday, Magnus said the officer would be removed from life support so that his organs may be donated to others. 

A web site established by the officer’s colleagues is now on-line at http://bradley-moody.last-memories.com, and donations to benefit his family may be made to “The Memorial Fund for Officer Brad Moody” at any Mechanic’s Bank branch.


LPC Approves Mills Acts Contracts, Wareham Tries 'Old Industrial' Look for 740 Heinz

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Monday October 06, 2008 - 04:51:00 PM

The Landmarks Preservation Commission approved Mills Acts contracts Thursday for two historic Berkeley landmarks—the Durant Hotel and the Charles Keeler House. 

Enacted in 1972, the Mills Act is a state economic incentive program offered to owners of historic buildings for restoration and preservation. 

The act allows cities and counties to enter into contracts with owners of qualified historic properties who receive property tax reductions and use the savings to rehabilitate, restore and maintain the building. 

Designed by Bernard Maybeck, the Charles Keeler House at 1770-1790A Highland Place was built in 1895 and belongs to the First Bay Tradition and Arts and Crafts movements. 

Improvements to the building, which is now a four-unit condo, include exterior and interior renovations over a 10-year period and will cost $106,800. 

Built in 1929, the William Weeks-designed Durant Hotel embraces Spanish-Colonial revival architecture and is owned by San Francisco-based Durant Investors. The $3,338,000 improvement includes bathroom and kitchen upgrades and will take place over a 10-year period as well. 

Terry Blount, Landmarks Preservation Commission secretary, said city officials were planning to host a Mills Act workshop early next year to promote the program to historic property owners and local real estate agents. 

“The Mills Act Program is important because it is a readily available program that helps offset the additional costs often associated with historic property ownership,” Blount told the Planet. “Any person who owns a designated historic property in the city is eligible.” 

The City of Berkeley has entered into 16 contracts with historic property owners since it adopted the Mills Act program in 1998, he said. The two approved last week still have to be passed by the City Council. 

“The Mills Act is very important as a tangible and often substantial benefit for an owner of a historic resource,” said Landmarks commissioner Carrie Olson. 

“We have not had an advocate for it in the past in the Planning Department, but Terry Blount has changed that. He has put together several since coming to the city.” 

 

Copra Warehouse Demolition 

Wareham, the San Raphael-based commercial property developer with tenants like Fantasy Records and the federally funded Joint BioEnergy Institute, plans to ask Berkeley’s Zoning Adjustments Board in November to approve a new life sciences institute at 740 Heinz St. 

Randall Dowler, president of DGA—the Mountain View-based architecture firm hired to design the project—presented a new design to the Landmarks Preservation Commission Thursday after some members of the zoning board criticized the project in July. 

Dowler said Wareham had filed a formal application to the Planning Department a week ago and would be returning to the landmarks commission and the zoning board for an official permit in the following weeks. 

Wareham will also be asking the zoning board for a variance since the building’s proposed height, 72 foot, is currently not allowed in the neighborhood. 

The overwhelming majority of the landmarks commission and zoning board members and a group of West Berkeley neighbors complained at earlier meetings that Wareham’s earlier proposals were out of scale with West Berkeley and asked the developers to reduce its height and size. 

Some landmarks commissioners said they were disappointed that Wareham was demolishing a historic structure, but the developers argued that it was not economically feasible to rehabilitate the building.  

Chris Barlow, a partner at Wareham, pointed out at an earlier meeting that biotechnology companies were choosing Emeryville over Berkeley because the latter lacked spacious laboratory research space. 

Wareham’s four-story 245,000-square-foot EmeryStation East building in Emeryville is home to the Joint BioEnergy Institute and Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceutical among others. 

The new building on Heinz Street would replace the landmarked Copra Warehouse—a red brick building built in 1916—which Wareham leases from Garr Land Resources and Management Company. 

Dowler said Wareham’s latest proposal retains the north and south brick facades of the Copra Warehouse and keeps the height at 72 feet, a decrease of almost 20 feet from the earlier design. 

“The zoning board told us that they didn’t like all the glass in our previous design,” he told the Planet after the meeting. “They said it was too contemporary. Laboratory buildings are traditionally more glass and less brick but now we have more brick. We followed the design pattern of the early 1900s brick industrial building. I think the new design fits in well with the neighborhood. Wareham has spent a lot of time and money to accommodate everyone’s concerns ... They have kind of gone to the end of the line.” 

The four-story building will have windows punched into the brick, a feature the project’s architects said was important. 

Some landmarks commissioners said that the new design showed more promise than the earlier ones. 

“I kind of like the use of brick,” said commissioner Bob Johnson. 

“It makes it feel like an old industrial building and fits in with the neighborhood rather than the ‘glass box’ look. I am sure the neighbors won’t be happy with anything taller than their structures but this one kind of steps down a bit. I think it’s an improvement.” 

The scale of the building, Dowler said, was reduced from 100,000 square feet to 88,000 square feet, a number which at least a couple of landmarks commissioners still had a problem with. 

A balcony on the third floor would provide employees with space to relax and solar panels would help make the structure energy independent, proponents said.  

Parts of the old parking lot on the east side would be replaced by landscaping and a plaza would separate the new building from the landmarked artist’s lofts at 800 Heinz St. 

“We will have a kiosk there to remind people about the history of the Copra Warehouse,” Dowler said. 


Three Robberies in an Hour on Tuesday

By Richard Brenneman
Saturday October 04, 2008 - 08:22:00 AM

Berkeley residents were targeted in three armed robberies that took place within 57 minutes of each other Tuesday evening, police report. 

The first incident was reported at 8:37 p.m., when two victims had their wallets taken by three people, at least one armed with a pistol, near the corner of Shattuck and Indian Rock avenues, Berkeley police reported. 

Just a minute later, campus police report, a car with two men inside pulled up alongside a UC Berkeley student walking in the 1700 block of La Loma Avenue. The passenger jumped out of the car, pointed a gun at the student and demanded her backpack. 

“The victim was either pushed or lost her footing and fell to the ground,” according to the campus police bulletin. The fallen student lashed out with her foot at the startled robber, who promptly fled back to the car, which then sped away. Police said the woman received minor injuries during the attack. 

The suspect, a 20-something clad in black, departed in “a sporty silver car with a spoiler.” 

The third robbery was reported at 9:34 p.m., a stickup near the corner of King Street and Ashby Avenue. According to the Berkeley Police Department daily bulletin, the robbers were two men in their 20s. 

Whether they were actually armed remains in question, since they did not take their hands out of their pockets, but acted as if they were holding guns. 


Two Environmentalists Vie For Parks District Vacancy

By Richard Brenneman
Friday October 03, 2008 - 04:41:00 PM

Two candidates with strong environmental records are facing off for an open seat on the East Bay Regional Parks District. 

When incumbent Nancy Skinner won the Democratic nomination to fill the outgoing Loni Hancock’s seat in the state Assembly, the race for the park board’s Ward 1 slot opened up for the Nov. 4 election. 

While two years ago Skinner was among 14 would-be candidates who applied to the board for an appointment to fill the seat vacated by the death of member Jean Siri, only two filed to run in the Nov. 14 election to replace Skinner, winner of the earlier in-house selection. 

Another unsuccessful candidate for the 2006 appointment, Shirley Dean, is otherwise occupied in a campaign to become, once again, Berkeley’s mayor. 

The two candidates for the seat, Whitney Dotson of Richmond and Norman La Force of El Cerrito, have been allies on many East Bay environmental issues, including the battle to clean up contaminated sites on the Richmond shoreline. 

Both have candidates have opposed the building of casinos in the Richmond area, one on a choice site along the Point Molate Shoreline and the other in unincorporated North Richmond. 

La Force has more political experience, as well as the endorsements of Hancock, the mayors of Berkeley, Albany, El Cerrito, Emeryville and Richmond, and the blessing of Contra Costa County Supervisor John Gioia and Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson. 

An attorney and long-time Sierra Club activist, La Force also served on the El Cerrito City Council, including a term as mayor. 

Though the race is Dotson’s first for elected office, he’s a veteran of grassroots organizing, and has served as chair of the Community Advisory Group that is watchdogging the cleanup of Campus Bay and the adjacent UC Berkeley Richmond Field Station. 

A community activist with a masters’ degree in Public Health Planning, Administration, and Education from UC Berkeley, Dotson is Associate Director of the Neighborhood House of North Richmond, a non-profit agency which provides services to North Richmond residents. 

He also serves as president of the Parchester Village Neighborhood Council. 

La Force and Dotson were both active in the lawsuit against the Richmond City Council which resulted in a ruling that councilmembers failed to order a mandatory environmental review before agreeing to a deal which would provide police, fire and road services to the casino planned for North Richmond in exchange for $310 million in payments to the city. 

Both have also been active in Citizens for Eastshore Parks, a group which has been instrumental in saving lands for parks in the East Bay. 

The East Bay Regional Parks District includes more than 98,000 acres of public lands in 65 parks, recreation and land bank parcels. The district employs 644 full-time workers, includes members of its own police and fire departments, and operates under a budget for the current year of $147.3 million. 

Both candidates have amassed impressive backer slates, including shared endorsements from the incumbent Skinner, former Assemblymember Bob Campbell, Save the Bay founder Sylvia McLaughlin and Richmond Councilmember Tom Butt and his wife Shirley. 

La Force has more city councilmembers on his side, with backing from all current members of the Berkeley council, three Albany councilmembers, five from El Cerrito, two from Oakland, and three each from Richmond and San Pablo, along with one, Nancy Nadel, from Oakland. He also claims the backing of Assemblymember and Democratic candidate for the California State Senate, Loni Hancock. 

Three well-known names from Dotson’s list are U.S. Rep. George Miller, former Assemblymember and current Peralta Community College District Chancellor Elihu Harris, and noted Oakland civil rights attorney John Burris. 

Both candidates have been endorsed by educators and environmentalists, with La Force offering the longer list. 

“Basically, I would like to increase access to our parks,” Dotson told the Planet. “Most residents of the East Bay are not aware of the resources available to them. I’m very interested in the North Richmond shoreline, and I would like to see the district expand its ownership of key properties along the shoreline. 

“I understand the necessity of having access to open space and intact natural environments for physical and psychological well-being in our society,” he said, and he supports uniting students, academic faculty and community activists to survey park users for their goals for public parkland, as well as existing obstacles and opportunities. 

La Force, who has served as a pro bono attorney for the Sierra Club, the Audubon Society and other environmental groups, told the planet, “I bring 25 years of passion, commitment and expertise to the effort to save open space and operate the premiere local park system in the country to make it better—better for people to enjoy and also better for our effort to preserve and enhance wildlife and habitat.” 

The attorney said he crafted the fire management program for the parks district and “was a key leader in getting the park district to purchase the lands that have become the Gilman ball fields” and raising money to purchase the site. 


Commission Spurns DAPAC Parking, Traffic Proposals

By Richard Brenneman
Thursday October 02, 2008 - 06:26:00 PM

Even planning commissioners who have fought to defend the downtown plan crafted by a citizen committee are backing away from its parking provisions. 

Parking, which Planning Commissioner and former DAPAC member Gene Poschman called a third rail of Berkeley politics, forms a key part of the chapter on access drafted by the Downtown Area Plan Advisory Committee. 

But while DAPAC’s majority sought to discourage car use for the sake of the environment, planning commissioners questioned a policy they worried might discourage people from coming to or living in the city center. 

Some of the concerns stemmed from plans to eliminate two traffic lanes on Shattuck Avenue to make room for AC Transit’s proposed Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system that would link Berkeley to San Leandro with a line down Telegraph Avenue into Oakland and looping into downtown Berkeley. 

The combination of restricting traffic at the same time the city lays plans to accommodate 3,100 new city center residential units could lead to congested traffic at 13 downtown intersections as traffic shifted away from Shattuck, the central north/south thoroughfare, on to the parallel paths of Oxford/Fulton and Milvia streets.  

Four of those congested intersections would be directly attributable to the BRT lane reductions, said Bill Delo, the traffic consultant hired to analyze the plan. “You could reconsider the lane reductions if there are no alternatives,” he added. 

His projections call for transit ridership to increase at an annual rate of 2.5 percent averaged through 2030, while car trips would rise 1 percent annually.  

Poschman questioned the predicted trip increase, when a “a population increase of 5,000 shows only a few hundred more trips,” especially given another consultant’s report that the only likely source of significant new residential construction downtown would come from high-rise condos where, the commissioner said, “two vehicles per unit would be the rule.” 

He also questioned the idea that traffic would shift to Milvia rather than Martin Luther King Jr. Way, “because you don’t drive on Milvia without giving up after one or two blocks.” 

City Planning and Development Director Dan Marks said that DAPAC members had made their position clear:i that they wanted to discourage car use and promote transit even at the cost of slowing down traffic. 

Roia Ferrazares and Jim Novosel are commissioners who also served on DAPAC, and they too indicated that they dissented from the plan’s intent to limit parking and through traffic. 

“I’m hearing that there’s a fundamental disconnect here with DAPAC” on these issues, said Marks. No one on the commission disagreed with him. 

“The goal of a car-free downtown is admirable” said commissioner Larry Gurley, “but I don’t see any plans to get there.” 

Chair James Samuels said that while he supported the idea of making downtown a destination, “I would still like to see ways of getting through the city.” 

While Samuels said he never used Shattuck to get from north to south—or vice versa—Poschman said the avenue was his preferred route. “Probably about 70 percent of north/south traffic is on Shattuck,” he said. 

“I’m hearing that while we want to make downtown a destination, we don’t want to make it hard for people to get through,” said Marks. 

Novosel said the city should develop a parking plan. 

“We want enough parking, but not too much,” said commissioner Harry Pollack. “We want to encourage transit and pedestrians, but we know a certain amount of people will still drive.” 

Commissioners did seem to agree that while driving and the need for parking couldn’t be eliminated, drive-alone commuting could be discouraged, though no methods were mentioned. 

 

UC’s role 

When it came to discussions about what the plan’s baseline growth figures are for the square footage of construction possible under it, Ferrazares asked why the 800,000 square feet of construction already included in the university plans through 2020 hadn’t been included in the downtown plan’s baseline. 

The university’s already-adopted Long Range Development Plan 2020 (LRDP) included that amount of off-campus building in downtown Berkeley, and inspired a lawsuit and settlement which mandated creation of the city’s new downtown plan now before the commission. 

Answering Ferrazares, Marks said, “I’m not really sure. From a CEQA point of view it doesn’t make much difference ... It’s all speculative even with the LRDP.” CEQA—the California Environmental Quality Act—calls for evaluation of the impacts of construction projects, including city and institutional plans that outline proposals for accommodating long-term growth projections. 

The downtown plan provides for one million square feet of construction, and Marks said that the university might not build all its 800,000 square feet during the plan’s time frame, so that “If a developer came in and said he was planning a 300,000 square foot project and asked if the plan covered it, I would say yes. This is all speculative, even despite the university’s LRDP.” 

“Well, I don’t like to say you’re mistaken in public,” said UC Berkeley planner Jennifer McDougall, the school’s liaison to the city for downtown planning.  

From the university’s perspective, it seems that their 800,000 square feet was already a given, leaving the city just 200,000 square feet to accommodate most of the housing that ABAG—the regional government agency in charge of setting housing construction—says the city must be willing to allow if it wants funds from several major programs funneled through the Association of Bay Area Governments. 

 

 


Cody’s Workers Charge Store Violated Contract

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday October 02, 2008 - 09:17:00 AM

Two former employees of the now-defunct Cody’s Books have filed a complaint with the state Labor Commission alleging that the bookstore violated its contract with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) by not paying its workers paid time-off when the store closed down in June. 

Rick Valentine and Lawrence Davidson, both long-term Cody’s employees, said company officials had ignored their repeated requests this year for paid time off, telling them that the company had no money. 

Four more former employees at Cody’s backed up their claims, and three of them charged the company with not paying them paid time off as well. 

According to the contract between Cody’s Books and SEIU 1020, the paid-time-off program provides for time off for short absences including vacation time, holidays, short-term illness, emergencies, religious observances, preventive health care or personal reasons. 

Unused paid time off could be paid to eligible employees at the end of the year or rolled into the following calendar year, at the option of the employee, up to a maximum of 120 hours. The contract states that employees will be paid all unused accrued paid time off under their current pay rate upon termination. 

Both Valentine and Davidson complained they were frustrated with SEIU’s unwillingness to answer questions about their problem. 

Sarah Sherburn-Zimmer, SEIU representative for Cody’s em-ployees, told the Planet that Cody’s was in violation of a labor contract, since it decided not to declare bankruptcy. 

Sherburn-Zimmer said that attorneys representing Cody’s had told SEIU that the company was in the process of declaring bankruptcy on June 20, the store’s last day, and had not informed the union that it had later decided against bankruptcy. 

She said that SEIU had not learned about Cody’s decision until an interview with the Planet last week. 

“It was a shame that the paid time owed to employees wasn’t paid,” she said. “They outright lied to us. They told us that employees should cash their checks that very afternoon they were closing, since they wouldn’t be good after they went bankrupt.” 

Sherburn-Zimmer said repeated phone calls to Cody’s former manager Mindy Galoob were not returned. When reached by the Planet, Galoob declined to comment saying that she was no longer employed by Cody’s. 

Sue Tircuit, who worked at Cody’s for almost 17 years, said that she also never received any of the more than 200 hours of paid time off that Cody’s owed her. Tircuit’s pay record show that Cody’s owed her 183 hours of paid time off as of March 30. 

“At the last meeting they said that we were not going to receive paid time off and apologized,” said Tircuit, who took Internet and phone orders at Cody’s and worked at the register. “Not much help when you have to pay bills. The union should have done something about that. But nobody’s talking about it. It’s a done deal. We paid all those union dues, and nobody stepped up to the plate.” 

Cody’s—which owed money to a number of schools, libraries and public agencies when it shut its doors for good on June 20 due to dwindling sales—liquidated its assets in August to pay off a bank lien. 

Robert Kidd, an attorney representing Tokyo-based Intercultural Book Company (IBC Publishing Inc.), which owned Cody’s at the time of its closing, told the Planet in August that the bookstore was not declaring bankruptcy because “it wouldn’t benefit anyone.” 

Kidd confirmed that Cody’s had still not filed for bankruptcy and denied knowing anything about the unpaid paid time off. 

“If they went bankrupt they would have to pay off secured creditors first,” Sherburn-Zimmer said. “But since they didn’t go bankrupt, they have a contractual obligation with employees at Cody’s.” 

Calls and e-mails to Cody’s CEO Hiroshi Kagawa of IBC were not returned. 

Cody’s, which closed its flagship store on Telegraph Avenue and branches in Fourth Street and in San Francisco in recent years, moved to Shattuck Avenue in April. Founded by Pat and Fred Cody 52 years ago, Cody’s was sold to Andy Ross in 1977 and expanded to Fourth Street and San Francisco under him. Ross told the Planet that Cody’s was losing a significant amount of money even before it opened its San Francisco store because of stiff competition from online book businesses. 

After closing the Telegraph store in mid-2006, Ross sold Cody’s to now-defunct Yohan Inc., a Japanese book distributor whose president was Kagawa. According to an article in Publisher’s Weekly, Yohan—a 55-year-old company which was 6.5 billion yen (around $62 million) in debt—declared bankruptcy on Aug. 1. 

The article said IBC, which was founded in 2003 and was a part of Yohan until it broke loose in fall 2007, was unaffected by the bankruptcy and currently owns Berkeley-based Stonebridge Press, which was previously owned by Yohan. 

IBC’s website (www.ibcpub.co.jp) lists Kagawa’s wife, Kyoko Kagawa, as a member of its executive board and shows that the company has a capital of 30 million yen (around $286,530). Kyoko Kagawa refused comment when she was reached by the Planet in Tokyo Tuesday and directed all inquiries to her husband. 

When the Shattuck Avenue store closed down Kagawa issued a statement saying that “his current business was not strong enough or rich enough to support Cody’s.” 

Valentine, who joined Cody’s in 1995 and said he worked in maintenance, purchasing, delivery and “everything else that anybody didn’t want to do,” alleged that Cody’s owed him approximately 270 hours in unpaid paid time off, which he said translated to almost $4,671. 

“You should close the store when you have the money for paid time off and severance,” he said. “You don’t close the store by having a meeting and closing the door. I put a sign on the clock saying ‘where’s my PTO’ and they refused to tell me.” 

Davidson, who was with Cody’s for three decades, working at receiving and returns, alleged that Cody’s owed him around 154 hours of paid time off as of June 19, a day before the store closed for good. 

“I had worked in every department, I was even manager at one point and I never received paid time off,” he said. “I don’t believe any of the employees got paid time off. They gave us our last pay check and that was it. Yet, it’s in the contract, it’s something we worked hard for. It’s a matter of principle. I find it extremely unsettling that everyone is sympathizing with Cody’s saying ‘poor Cody’s,’ when in reality Cody’s stole from its employees. Let the City of Berkeley know how awful Cody’s treated its people.” 

Valentine said Cody’s managers held meetings every week before the store closed, assuring employees that the store would remain open until December. 

“We asked them about the low stock and why we had discontinued the gift certificates, and we never got an answer,” Valentine said. 

“There were all these layoffs and very few books on the shelf,” said Davidson, describing the last few months at the bookstore. “Then suddenly we have this meeting the morning of June 20 when the management apologized to us and handed us our checks.” 

Sherburn-Zimmer said the union had been waiting for the two employees to file wage claims against their employers since they had been under the impression for more than two months that Cody’s had filed for bankruptcy. 

“Under bankruptcy, the employees have to file the paperwork,” she said. “But since Cody’s is not bankrupt, it has freed our hands. We can file wage claims, go to the labor board and take other actions.” 

Records obtained by the Planet of the paid time off Cody’s owed its employees as of March 30, nearly three months before the store closed down, show that the company owed at least eight of its 18 employees more than 100 hours of paid time off. 

Cody’s owed two employees—including Valentine—248 hours each, and three more employees more than 90 hours each. 

Patrice Suncircle, a former bookseller at Cody’s, said the store owed her more than 40 hours of paid time off. Records obtained by the Planet show that Cody’s owed her 48 hours of paid time-off as of March 30. 

“All I know is that none of us ever received our paid time-off,” said Suncircle, who has worked at Cody’s for nearly two decades. “They gave us our last paycheck on our last day and said there would be no paid time off. And I never went back. There wasn’t anybody to contact.” 

Ross said he sympathized with the workers. “The claim is against Cody’s and Cody’s is gone,” he said. “Unfortunately, Cody’s demise was very slow and painful for me and the employees. My experience when I was there was that the only choices we were given were bad choices. I am sure people were entitled to their paid time off, but it’s difficult. Most of the money Cody’s got from liquidating went to the bank.”


Was McCain A Key Player In Point Molate Casino?

By Richard Brenneman
Thursday October 02, 2008 - 09:18:00 AM

Is Republican presidential nominee John McCain the key player in the behind-the-scenes maneuvers that may turn the East Bay into California’s first urban gambling resort? 

Sunday’s New York Times featured a major investigation of the ties of the Arizona senator and his staff to the gambling industry, closing with a look at his possible role in the controversial billion-dollar casino planned for Richmond’s Point Molate. 

Initially opposed to the spread of tribal casinos into cities, McCain changed his position after the Guidiville Rancheria Pomo band briefly hired Wes Gullet, a Phoenix-based lobbyist, the Times reported. 

But James D. Levine, the casino project’s Berkeley developer, said late Wednesday that “any implication that Sen. McCain intervened to help is certainly not true.” He said no one from the Times contacted him. 

Gullet had met his spouse while working on McCain’s staff, and had managed the Arizonan’s 1992 Senate run, was a ranking aide in his unsuccessful 2000 presidential try, and is currently serving as deputy campaign manager for the senator’s presidential run, the paper reported. 

In 2005, McCain had led the opposition to granting the Lytton Band of Pomos a permit to conduct full-scale Las Vegas-style gambling operations at their Casino San Pablo—something not cited in the Times story but reported in these pages at the time. 

The Lyttons had bought a struggling card-room operation and sought to turn it into a 2,500-slot-machine full-scale gambling resort, but McCain charged the tribe had acquired the casino “the wrong way” and vowed to fight the federal law passed in 2000 that would have granted the tribe an exemption from federal gambling statutes. 

Six months after McCain announced his opposition, the tribe installed 500 slot-like high-speed bingo machines—legal under federal law—and abandoned its plans for a full-scale gambling palace with the still-forbidden slots and table games of a Las Vegas casino. 

While McCain was stifling one tribe’s plans, he was boosting those of the Guidivilles, according to the Times. 

Levine, a Berkeley entrepreneur who made his fortune in the toxic-waste- cleanup business, had joined with the Guidivilles, enlisting the help of a powerful Republican who had close ties to both McCain and the Clinton wing of the Democrats. 

Former Maine governor and Clinton Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen became a partner in Levine’s Upstream Point Molate LLC. He was also the best man at McCain’s wedding in 1980, the Times reported. 

Point Molate was a U.S. Navy refueling station located on a stunning section of shoreline near the foot of the Richmond–San Rafael Bridge. And while the City of Richmond had bought the base for $1 under terms of the federal Base Closure and Realignment Act of 1988, cleanup is still underway under the supervision of the Navy and conducted by Levine’s former firm, LFR Inc. (for Levine Fricke Recon) of Emeryville. 

While Gullet told the Times he was hired to advise a tribal administrator on his congressional testimony, the newspaper reported that a lawyer for the Guidivilles said the tribe hired McCain’s ally and sometime staffer Gullet “to insure that Mr. McCain’s overhaul of the Indian gambling laws did not harm the tribe.” 

Levine said “we did hire Mr. Gullet to help us in meetings with the staff” while they were developing the new set of regulations. He was hired, Levine said, because “the Guidivilles had followed the established process” in applying for the reservation status “and it was disconcerting to hear that changes were being contemplated” after the process was already underway. 

Even with the new regulations, he said, the Guidivilles qualified, just as they had under the old rules. 

Levine said he never met with McCain at any point during the application process and that he believed “both Sen. McCain and Sen. Obama would approve” of the environmental and economic benefits the casino would bring to the community. 

The Arizona senator introduced his legislation in November 2005, though it eventually failed to pass. 

But, the Times reported, McCain then pushed Department of the Interior staff—who oversee tribal affairs, including the approval of new tribal reservations created for gambling operations—to rewrite the rules on casinos. 

Former Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs Carl Artman told the Times, “Senator McCain made it clear it was one of his top priorities.” After the new guidelines were in place, the department denied the casino applications of 11 tribes—but not that of the Guidivilles. 

And while McCain’s efforts were successful in derailing the full scope of the Lyttons’ plans for San Pablo, installation of the fast-paced bingo machines proved a bonanza for both the tribe and the city, thanks to a Master Services Agreement between the city and the tribe. 

While San Pablo had been struggling financially as the poorest of Contra Costa County’s cities, and officials had been debating dissolving the city’s incorporation and handing the reins of government over to the county, the revenues from the machines sent the city’s share of cash flowing. 

While the city reported receiving $2.96 million in business license revenues in fiscal year 2004-05, the installation of the machines in the second month of the following fiscal year sent revenues up to $7.42 million for 2005-06, $9.5 million for 2006-07 and an estimated $9.95 million for the year just ended. 

The casino now accounts for more than half the city’s general fund revenue, and a town once facing bankruptcy and dissolution has been able to move forward with a wide range of public services, including $4 million in its current budget for a first-time homebuyer program. 

It was the promise of just such benefits—along with jobs for the city’s struggling African-American community—that led Richmond City Councilmembers to endorse two proposed casinos, Levine’s Point Molate and the Sugar Bowl in unincorporated North Richmond, a project of the Scotts Valley Pomos backed by Florida sports and casino entrepreneur Alan Ginsburg. 

A municipal services agreement with the Sugar Bowl developers was ruled invalid earlier this month by a Contra Costa County Superior Court judge, who said that the city violated state law in approving the accord without first conducting an environmental impact review. 

The 20-year pact would give the city $335 million to provide road improvements and emergency services for the casino. 

A separate environmental review under federal law is already underway for the Sugar Bowl, while Levine and the Guidivilles are preparing both state and federal environmental reviews for the Point Molate project. 

Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin said Tuesday that the environmental reports on Point Molate weren’t going to be ready until December. 

“None of this surprises me,” said the mayor when asked about McCain’s purported role in the project. “The way the dots connect up is very interesting. These back-door dealings between major politicians, developers and lobbyists, at the expense of our communities, are reprehensible.” 

Robert Cheasty, former mayor of Albany and activist with Citizens for Eastshore Parks, said he hated to see this opportunity for public access to the shoreline sold off to the gambling industry. 

“Senator McCain has disgraced himself for his role in supporting bringing this corrupting influence to the San Francisco Bay Area and to Richmond, a city that needs a helping hand, not a demoralizing influence on its community,” he said. 

Marjie Mejia, chair of the Lyttons, did not return calls for comment, nor did Doug Elmets, the tribe’s Sacramento-based publicist. 

McLaughlin said she hopes that the city can find other uses for Molate than the two alternatives offered city councilmembers before the deal was signed—Levine’s casino plans or a counter-offer from Chevron. 

The Times article may have already produced one impact, according to the Native American gambling news blog at Indianz.com. “McCain cancels Nevada visit after gambling story” ran the headline on a Tuesday entry at the site. Another cancellation for a scheduled Reno appearance came from George W. Bush, though he offered a replacement, Dick Cheney. 

 

McCain’s money 

The Arizona senator has raised nearly twice as much from the gambling industry as his Democratic challenger, raking in $260,025 to Barrack Obama’s $132,633, according to the OpenSecrets.org website and reprinted by the Times. 

While OpenSecrets.org reported that Obama had the larger share of tribal gambling contribution, accounting for $56,100 of his total compared to $5,000 for McCain, the Times reported that the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe gave McCain his second-largest donation from the gambling section. 

Seven of McCain’s top 10 gambling- sector donors are Nevada-based casino operators, with MGM Mirage at the top with $108,450. The other two tribal donors gave just $8,000 each, according to the Times. 

For both candidates, gambling donations were a small segment of total contributions, according to OpenSecrets. org. Retirees were McCain’s top contributors, with $23.5 million, compared to $23.2 million for Obama. 

Lawyers were at the top of Obama’s list, with $24.1 million, compared to the $7.96 million McCain got from them. 


Parents Say Teacher Espoused Creationism

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday October 02, 2008 - 09:17:00 AM

The Berkeley Unified School District is investigating a report that one of its elementary school teachers might have violated the separation of church and state by teaching creationism to her third-grade class, district officials said Tuesday. 

Parents of children who attend Jefferson Elementary School told the Planet that Gwen Martin—who joined Jefferson over the summer and has been on personal leave since last week—was discussing the differences between fiction and non-fiction with her students on Aug. 29 when she told them that the only thing they should believe in was God.  

The parents who contacted the Planet did not themselves have children in Martin’s class. They asked not to be identified in print to protect their children. 

Parents said that Martin had listed Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and Harry Potter under fiction on the blackboard, which promptly reduced some of the 8-year-olds to tears, after which she made the comment about God.  

They said that Martin then said that she didn’t believe in evolution or the Big Bang theory either. 

A group of Jefferson parents, concerned that the teacher’s alleged actions violated their civil liberties and the separation of church and state, took the matter to Jefferson’s new principal, Maggie Riddle. The matter ultimately reached the ears of district administrators. 

“We are investigating that there were reports that’s what happened,” Berkeley Board of Education President John Selawsky said Tuesday when asked about the incident at Jefferson. “It’s being dealt with. Since it’s a confidential personnel matter, that’s all I can say.” 

Calls to Riddle and Martin at Jefferson were not returned. 

School board member Karen Hemphill said the district would take into account a lot of factors before making any decisions about the case. 

“For one, she’s a new teacher, and then we have to consider all the facts,” she said. “Regardless of what may or may not have happened, we in the Bay Area are very sensitive to not mixing education with religion. Not only are you not supposed to, but we have a wide range of religious views. There are certain laws and court cases that define what is permissible and not permissible.” 

District Superintendent Bill Huyett refused comment on the status of Martin’s case, stating that it was a personnel issue. 

Selawsky said that incidents such as the one reported to have occurred at Jefferson were uncommon in Berkeley. 

“This is the first time in my eight years as a board member that I have heard of allegations of teaching creationism and denying evolution,” said Selawsky, who is running for re-election for a third term this year.  

“You certainly don’t hear about this in the Bay Area,” he said. “In places like Kansas it’s an ongoing battle and a big political issue. There are strict stipulations in the state Education Code about what public school teachers can or cannot do. We heard about the incident from parents and from various sources.” 

Selawsky said that if the allegations were true the district would likely seek some form of discipline against her. 

The preaching of religion in public education has been a contentious issue in American culture for years, with cases going back to the 1940s. 

The courts have ruled that public schools may not sponsor religious worship, but they may teach about religion as an academic subject, teaching about it like any other subject without teaching dogma. 

The California Education Code states that “nothing in this code shall be construed to prevent, or exclude from the public schools, references to religion or references to or the use of religious literature, dance, music, theatre, and visual arts or other things having a religious significance when such references or uses do not constitute instruction in religious principles or aid to any religious sect, church, creed, or sectarian purpose and when such references or uses are incidental to or illustrative of matters properly included in the course of study.” 

State Board of Education Policy on the Teaching of Natural Sciences articulates that “science teachers are professionally bound to limit their teaching to science and should resist pressure to do otherwise.” 

“It’s something teachers have every right to believe in themselves, but have every duty to keep from their students,” Terry Francke of Californians Aware said of educators espousing religious beliefs in government schools. “That’s particularly serious at a primary level, when students are much more impressionable.” 

The phrase “separation of church and state” itself is typically traced back to a letter written by Jefferson Elementary School’s namesake Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Baptists in 1802, in which he referred to the First Amendment as creating a “wall of separation” between church and state. 

“It’s not the job of a public school teacher to engage in evangelism,” said Rob Boston, senior policy analyst with Americans United for Separation of Church and State, a nonprofit education organization based in Washington D.C., which has been defending the separation of church and state for the past 61 years. 

Americans United recently helped a school in New Jersey win a case against a football coach who was leading his players in prayer in spite of school authorities’ advising him against it. 

“Public schools have the right to curb teachers who are preaching in class,” he said, adding that he hears about a couple of these cases every year. “It’s considered a violation of parents’ rights. The teachers’ job is to stick to teaching secular subjects. The courts have ruled repeatedly that creation is a religious concept and not legally science, and thus has no place in a public school classroom.”


Dellums Unveils Proposal to Cut Oakland Budget Deficit

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Thursday October 02, 2008 - 09:18:00 AM

With the nation’s attention focused on the national credit crisis and President George Bush’s proposed $700 billion bailout package, Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums released his proposals to address Oakland’s fiscal crisis, a $37.4 million shortfall in the 2008-09 budget.  

In presentations to a City Hall press conference Friday and four days later to a special budget session of the Oakland City Council, Dellums proposed $13 million in revenue increases and $15 million in staff cuts and fund transfers, as well as saying that the remaining $10 million deficit could be closed either by a once-per-week city business shutdown or 120 additional layoffs. The mayor said he is not proposing reneging on his promise to fully staff the 803 Oakland Police Department uniformed positions by the end of the year. “We made a promise at the beginning of the year and we’re going to keep it,” the mayor said. 

Among the proposed revenue increases would be hikes in parking-meter rates, parking-citation fines, and street-sweeping citations. 

The mayor is also proposing that a separate $5 million deficit in the city’s Landscaping and Lighting Assessment District Fund be closed by eliminating 46 budgeted staff positions, including 34 staff layoffs. 

Oakland City Council has tentatively scheduled discussions on Dellums’ proposed 2008-09 budget cuts for this Friday, Oct. 10, 10 a.m., at the Lakeside Garden Center and Thursday, Oct. 16, 4 p.m., at a location to be determined. Adoption of the budget changes is scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 21, 6 p.m., at City Council Chambers in Oakland City Hall. 

Dellums has left little doubt that the councilmembers have a difficult task ahead of them. 

At a standing-room-only Friday afternoon press conference packed with media representatives, anxious city workers, and at least two city councilmembers, the mayor spoke for 35 minutes on the budget details, without any documentation in front of him, indicating the depth of his involvement in the budget process. Acting City Manager and mayoral budget director Dan Lindheim stood nearby but did not speak, and only once briefly came over to the mayor to give him any information. Dellums has been facing charges in some media outlets, particularly by San Francisco Chronicle East Bay columnist Chip Johnson, that he has not been “fully engaged” in his work as mayor. In addition, local developer Phil Tagami last week called for the mayor to begin turning in a time sheet, charging that the mayor was not regularly turning in a 40-hour week. As if to answer those charges, Dellums tapped his head, and said, “I don’t have any notes. I’ve got it all up here.” 

The mayor said his budget adjustments were made in close consultation with councilmembers and city staff representatives. 

“I can sum up our situation in one sentence,” the mayor said. “Oakland is living beyond its means.” Dellums said that his administration inherited “long-term, systematic, historical structural problems with the budget,” including carrying over fund liability deficits for years. 

“We all know the stories about emergency requests coming in to the city for $2 million for some program or other, and the administrator saying there’s no money in the budet,” Dellums said, “and then the administrator going back and working the figures and then—just like magic—coming back in a week with the $2 million.” 

“But we’ve only been robbing Peter to pay Paul,” the mayor said, saying it was borrowing from future budgets to pay for current needs. “This cannot continue to happen. We’ve got to stop engaging in this ‘magic.’ ‘Magic’ is what got us into this problem. There is no ‘magic.’ It’s all over.” 

The mayor said as soon as the current budget-deficit problem is addressed, he will move forward in the next budget cycle with proposals to end the city’s process of carrying over structural fund deficits.  

A spokesperson for the Service Employees International Union, which represents many of Oakland’s city workers, said the union was “concerned about the lack of city service delivery based upon the limited alternatives suggested by the mayor. We have other alternatives that don’t necessarily limit city services.”  

At a packed Tuesday evening City Council meeting filled largely with city workers represented by Local 1021 of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the mayor’s proposals were received by somber councilmembers who must make the final decision on where the cuts will take place. 

“I’m glad we’re being told the truth [about the dire budget situation],” Councilmember Pat Kernighan said. “I know we haven’t been told the truth for a long time. We’ve been given a rosy scenario.”  

Kernighan called the budget situation “a sad day for Oakland.”  

Councilmember Jean Quan, chair of the council Finance Committee agreed, adding that “nobody’s going to be happy in the end.” 

At least two councilmembers indicated that they may turn their attention to Oakland’s police services budget, which Dellums left largely untouched in his proposals. 

“Police overtime has caused some of the problem,” Councilmember Jane Brunner said. And Councilmember Desley Brooks said, “It looks like we’re bankrupting the rest of the city for public safety. We’re saying that law enforcement can’t do it by themselves, but if you look at our budget, we’re turning over most of our resources to the police.”  

Brooks said, “I know the mayor agrees with me that we have to have a comprehensive solution to our public safety problems.” 

Local 1021 workers insisted that wherever the cuts ultimately come, it shouldn’t be at the expense of city workers and city services. 

Oakland's Budget Deficit at a Glance 

 

The 2008-09 problem 

$37.4 million shortfall in the current budget year general fund. 

$5 million shortfall in the Landscaping and Lighting Assessment District Fund (LLAD). 

 

Dellums' 2008-09 solutions 

$13 million in revenue increases, including limited-duration increases in non-moving traffic violation fines. 

$5 million in various fund transfers and reductions (no effect on services or personnel). 

$5 million in hiring freezes and elimination of vacant positions. 

$4 million in layoffs of 50 city employees. 

Total savings: $27.4 million. 

$5 million in cuts to LLAD services, including 46 position cuts, closing some smaller parks, and reductions in some services to parks and street light repairs. 

 

Council's $10 million alternatives 

Mayor suggested City Council could: 

Shut city services down one day a week through the end of the fiscal year. 

Lay off 120 city workers. 

Some combination of the two. 

 

 


City Tells Temple, Neighbors To Find Middle Ground

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday October 02, 2008 - 09:19:00 AM
Mediation Urged in Thai Temple Dispute—           The Berkeley Thai Temple, at 1911 Russell St., attracts a large Sunday brunch crowd, sparking complaints from neighbors and concern from city officials, who charge that the temple has violated its permit with the weekly brunches.
Riya Bhattacharjee
Mediation Urged in Thai Temple Dispute— The Berkeley Thai Temple, at 1911 Russell St., attracts a large Sunday brunch crowd, sparking complaints from neighbors and concern from city officials, who charge that the temple has violated its permit with the weekly brunches.

Fans of authentic Thai cuisine must wait till Nov. 13 to find out if the city will allow Wat Mongkolratanaram to continue to serve Sunday brunch or ban it. 

After more than three hours of public debate and testimony last week, during which Berkeley Thai Temple supporters outnumbered their opponents three to one, the Berkeley Zoning Adjustments Board decided to ask both sides to do more of the same: mediate. 

More than 100 people packed the City Hall Chambers on Thursday to testify for or against year-round weekend festivities at the temple, which were recently found to be in violation of its use permit. 

Members of the Bay Area Thai community waved signs saying “Eat, Pray, Compassion” on the Old City Hall steps. 

When the temple’s monks asked the zoning board to approve a Buddha sanctuary in April, a group of neighbors charged the temple with running a restaurant business, a claim they backed up by pointing to rave reviews on Zagat and Yelp.com. 

Temple volunteers explained that sharing food with the community in exchange for donations was an ancient custom in Thai culture and in some cases the only way for Buddhist priests to earn their living. 

Investigations into the neighbors’ allegations by city officials revealed in June that the temple had repeatedly exceeded the frequency of events allowed by its permit. Neighbors turned up the heat at that point, asking the city to bring a stop to the weekend crowds, noise, trash and parking dilemmas. 

After hearing both sides of the debate, the zoning board asked the respective parties to settle their disputes through mediation. 

Victor Herbert of Seeds Community Resolution Center, formerly the East Bay Community Mediation, arranged three discussions between the parties, and, although some ideas were exchanged at these meetings, a compromise on the frequency of the Sunday brunch was not reached. 

Members of the Thai temple requested the zoning board Thursday to allow them to serve Sunday brunch throughout the year, explaining that they were ready to cut back on hours and reach some kind of a compromise with their opponents. 

“The temple has been ignoring its use permit for 17 years,” said Zoning Commissioner Bob Allen. “I need to know why we should trust a group which has flagrantly violated the zoning code and treated us like they are above the law just because they are a religious institution.” 

Commissioner Jesse Arreguin acknowledged the violation but stressed that the temple’s willingness to scale back on the crowds and hours was a step in the right direction. The temple now starts cooking at 8 a.m., three hours later than its earlier schedule, and serves food from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., instead of 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. 

Arreguin also emphasized the importance of a California Environmental Quality Act review on the project, explaining that noise, traffic and environment studies might be crucial factors in determining whether the temple’s Sunday operations were a detriment to the neighborhood. 

“Use permits were set up to protect the neighbors,” said Commissioner Sara Shumer. “I have a hard time seeing a restaurant in a residential neighborhood on a weekly basis. Sunday is a day when people are out using the yards.” 

John Taylor, a neighbor, described the Sunday activities at the temple as a “tolerated inconvenience” and suggested that the Sunday brunch be moved to an alternative location. 

Komson Thong, president of the Thai Association of Northern California, told the board that proceeds from the weekend fundraisers went toward subsidizing costs for students who came to the Thai temple to learn Thai, meditate and dabble in other cultural programs. 

“Berkeley has been a good home for the temple just like the temple has been a good home for Berkeley,” Thong said. “Our programs will not be able to continue without the subsidies. Buddhist monks are not allowed to work outside the temple.” 

Thong stressed that the temple had put up “no parking signs” around the neighborhood and allowed visitors exclusive access to the Any Mountain parking lot a few blocks down. 

He added that 2,300 signatures had been collected in support of the Sunday activities, out of which more than 800 were from Berkeley. 

Second-generation Thais recalled spending their most memorable moments at the temple, which they said had helped them connect to their Thai heritage. 

“Today we are blessed to have so many Thai restaurants around us,” said a young Thai-American. “But when my parents came to Berkeley this was one of the first places where we could find Thai food. A lot of the Thai restaurants in Berkeley were started by people who came here.” 

Some neighbors who complained against the Sunday operations said they weren’t against the temple per se but were frustrated by the trash, noise and parking problems it brought to the area. 

“Clearly they serve a purpose within the community but they have gotten by with a free pass,” said Celeste Fikiri, a neighbor who asked the city to conduct a traffic study. 

The board told Herbert to conduct a mediation between the two sides and see whether the temple was ready to come to a compromise—some sort of “a middle ground”—with its neighbors. 

One neighbor described the brunch as “good karma,” another called the temple “a microdot of peace,” and many echoed the sentiments of a young Thai man who supported the Sunday cooking, saying: “That’s what we do. We are Thai; we make food.” 


Planning Commission Gets Few Answers Regarding Bus Rapid Transit Proposal

By Richard Brenneman
Thursday October 02, 2008 - 09:19:00 AM

Planning commissioners last week confronted what Chair James Samuels called “a chicken/egg problem”: How to define a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) route without knowing its full impacts. 

The controversial proposal from AC Transit would create a new bus route from Berkeley to San Leandro—running (possibly) from Berkeley’s downtown Bay Area Rapid Transit station to Bayfair BART. 

But, as the report from city transportation planners Beth Greene and Kara Vui-cich made clear, a great many questions remain unanswered, especially when four different governments are involved. 

The project belongs to AC Transit—a public agency with its own elected board drawn from both Alameda and Contra Costa counties (the A and C in its name)—but Berkeley, Oakland and San Leandro must sign off on the final plans. 

Add to that the facts that Oakland has barely begun its evaluation of a preferred route and the possibility that Berkeley voters could force any route in the city to be subject to a public referendum. Then toss in strong local objections to some of the transit agency’s ideas, and the future becomes cloudy indeed. 

BRT is a system that backers say will provided fast, reliable transit—especially if buses are granted dedicated lanes between stations within no more than a quarter mile of any point along its route. 

Proponents say it’s a way to get people out of their cars, reducing planet-warming greenhouse gases. 

But foes say that any reductions in emissions would be minimal, while portraying the concept itself as a Trojan horse for developers, who could build denser developments than currently allowed by municipal zoning laws. 

In Berkeley, the final plan proposed for the location and particulars of the route will be decided by the City Council after examining recommendations from the Transportation and Planning commissions and city staff. 

Samuels offered the basic conundrum facing the city: “In effect, AC Transit will provide us with some information on some LPA (locally preferred alternative), but they can’t do that until we vote on some specific scheme.” 

Only then will the agency analyze the impacts of the LPA. 

Commission Secretary Jordan Harrison said stakeholder meetings would also be held to discuss project impacts, with the LPA then modified to reflect community concerns, before returning to the commission for its recommendations, before bringing the final LPA to the City Council. 

Then, and only after Oakland and San Leandro settle on their own LPAs, will AC Transit conduct a detailed analysis of the entire package for the project’s final environmental impact report (EIR). 

 

KK, variants 

Another monkey wrench to the transit agency’s plans could come from Berkeley voters, who will decide Nov. 5 on Measure KK. 

That ballot initiative would remove final say on the city’s LPA from the council’s hands and place it in the ballot box, giving voters the decision on whether to accept or reject it. If the council rejected the LPA, no vote would be needed, said transportation planner Greene. 

“Can you change the LPA if we decide on a route we like better?” asked Commissioner Patti Dacey. 

But senior planner Alex Amoroso said that while the analysis might look at variants of the LPA, selecting a significantly different route—say from the current main line down Telegraph Avenue to Adeline Street/Martin Luther King Jr. Way—“would be a whole different ball of wax.” 

Key decisions will involve the route BRT would take from Telegraph Avenue to the downtown BART station, whether or not to have dedicated BRT-only lanes, lanes used by both BRT and regular bus lines or no dedicated lanes at all. 

Other questions involve the spacing and location of stations: raised platforms where passengers with prepaid fares could quickly board and exit the buses. Locations are critical for evaluating station impacts, Greene said. 

Commissioner James Novosel said that members of the Downtown Area Plan Advisory Committee had been presented with much more detailed information about the physical appearance of the BRT proposal and asked for detailed sections of the proposed configuration along Telegraph and Shattuck avenues and Bancroft Way. 

Staff was able to provide an AC Transit digital animation of selected segments, featuring an articulated bus that one commissioner quipped looked as long as a train. 

 

Density rules 

Dacey said she was concerned about the potential impacts of two state bonuses that allow builders to exceed height and mass limits in local codes. One, the state density bonus, is automatic, but the second and more controversial Transit-Oriented De-velopment bonus applies only when an area is so designated by local government. 

Dacey said she was concerned about whether the bonuses would be additive or mutually exclusive, but none of the staff was able to provide an answer. 

The transit-oriented designation could apply to the area around stations, significantly increasing density under legislation designed to reduce driving. 

Commissioner Gene Poschman has been a frequent critic of the designation, citing studies that show car ridership may not drop in the designated areas. 

A proposal to designate the Ashby BART station as a transit village sparked furious neighborhood opposition and was eventually dropped. 

But Greene said the presence of BRT stations is likely to make the surrounding areas more attractive to developers because the facilities are permanent, unlike ordinary bus stops, which can be readily changed. 

Investment in station infrastructure, she said, would increase property values. 

Teresa Clarke, who was sitting in as an interim commissioner, said she would like any BRT proposal to include a listing of opportunity sites for station development. She also questioned the need for dedicated lanes on Telegraph, but said they were needed for the downtown loop section of the route. 

Samuels said staff should also recommend whether stations should be located in the center of the street or in curbside locations. 

Poschman said he wanted to see more detailed information about how BRT would affect the city’s Climate Action Plan, which is now headed to the commission. 

Another concern is just what impact the BRT stations will have on residential parking, with Dacey concerned about the effects on the Willard neighborhood. While AC Transit has called for new spaces to replace those lost because of BRT, commissioners said they wanted to know where the new spaces would be located and how readily accessible they would be to the neighborhoods that would lose parking. 

“AC Transit hasn’t said,” said Vuicich, “but we need to look at it on a block-by-block level.” 

Janet Stromberg, sitting in as an interim commissioner, said she was concerned that projections called for a 164-car increase in traffic on College Avenue, with a decrease of 800 on Telegraph. 

“College is already incredibly impacted, and to add more cars there seems crazy,” she said. 

 

UC use 

While College Avenue traffic was one consideration, another was the relationship between BRT and UC Berkeley. 

Samuels said, “There is a perception among some people that BRT will mainly benefit UC, but I don’t know where that comes from.” 

UC planner Billy Riggs attended Wednesday night’s meeting along with members of a university planning class. 

University policy calls for housing students either within a one-mile walking distance of campus or a 20-minute public transit ride, and Riggs said BRT was unlikely to cause students to move to Oakland. 

Anna Ostow, one of the students herself, agreed. “I bike and live really close to campus,” she said. If BRT expanded the 20-minute radius deep into Oakland, “I probably wouldn’t live there, but it’s an interesting thought.” 

“Our student population lives mostly within walking distance of campus,” Riggs said, with 70 percent walking or biking to their classes. 

But BRT service could make a difference for faculty and staff, he said. 

Another student said BRT wouldn’t make a difference for him unless the housing at the other end was significantly cheaper.


School District Gets Ready to Sell Sixth Street Property

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Friday October 03, 2008 - 11:57:00 AM

Berkeley Unified School District’s historic property on Sixth Street—which started out as the Berkeley Day Nursery many decades ago and is now home to West Berkeley’s LifeLong Medical Clinic—will be sold if the district finds a suitable buyer, district officials said. 

The Berkeley Board of Education approved the sale at a public meeting last Thursday after declaring it “surplus”—or no longer fit for public education use—in April. 

The City of Berkeley made an agreement with the school district in 1979 to lease the property on 2031 6th St. for 30 years in exchange for letting the district use the Old City Hall at 2134 Martin Luther King Jr. Way for the same time period. 

With the trade-off, in which both sides paid $1 annually for three decades, coming to an end in 2009, the district has now set its sights on rehabilitating the former Berkeley Adult School at the West Campus site for its new headquarters. 

The City of Berkeley, district officials said, has expressed an interest in buying the 6th Street property, a Tudor Revival building designed by Walter H. Ratcliff, which is both a national and a local landmark. 

The city subleases the building to LifeLong Medical Health Center, which provides medical services—including prenatal and pediatric care—to underserved and uninsured people. 

At a community meeting held in March to discuss the future of the Sixth Street site, more than 100 people turned up to support LifeLong’s continued existence at its current spot. 

“LifeLong Medical has done incredible things, and anything we can do to help them is good,” Councilmember Kriss Worthington said. “They provide a really important service for the city and the community.” 

Julie Sinai, chief of staff to Mayor Tom Bates, said the city manager’s office would meet with Berkeley Unified Superintendent Bill Huyett to discuss the city’s interest in the property. 

“Our goal is to keep LifeLong,” she said. “We haven’t received any information on what the cost is going to be. We want to work it out, but it has got to be within our means.” 

The district’s Director of Facilities Lew Jones said the property had been appraised but added that he couldn’t divulge the amount to the press. 

“Our belief is that the city will be interested in buying it,” he said. “They have 60 days to decide from when they receive a letter from us. We will be sending out the letter in three or four days. If they don’t express any interest, we can put it out to other public entities such as UC Berkeley or Alameda County. Depending on what happens there, we can offer it for sale to private entities.” 

Jones said that the building had never been reviewed by the Division of the State Architect to see if it could be renovated to current safety codes. 

“We just didn’t feel that it would be of any good use to us,” he said. “It was too small to be used as an administrative building, and it wasn’t appropriate to hold classes there either.”


State Budget Will Have Major Impacts for BUSD

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday October 02, 2008 - 09:20:00 AM

California’s long-overdue state budget, signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger last week, leaves the Berkeley Unified School District’s budget virtually unchanged from last year, but forces it to grapple with the rising cost of living, district officials said Thursday. 

Under the new budget, the district is set to make cuts of $2.5 million, which leave the budget barely balanced and with a loss of almost $2.9 million in general revenue and program reductions. 

“It’s a bad budget, and I want to be clear about that,” said district Superintendent Bill Huyett. “The budget’s going backwards but costs are going up. Food and gas prices are increasing every day.” 

Huyett said the budget will not cut categorical funds, which would leave school libraries and other improvement programs untouched. 

The $143 billion 2008–09 budget—which came a record 85 days after the state began its fiscal year on July 1—will give the district a 0.68 percent cost-of-living adjustment instead of the district’s estimated 1 percent, Berkeley Board of Education President John Selawsky said. 

“It’s maintaining last year’s budget, but we are losing some money,” he said. “The real cost of living [increase] is higher than 0.68 percent. In the Bay Area it’s almost as high as 5 or 6 percent. It’s not something we didn’t expect, but we are definitely disappointed. There’s no new revenue. This bare-bones budget will reflect on our operations.” 

The School Board is expected to announce budget ramifications—if any—at the end of October, Selawsky said. 

“We are required to do that, by law, 45 days after the budget is passed,” he said. “But we are not anticipating any reductions. However, I have heard there is talk in Sacramento about midyear cuts. But nobody knows whether those cuts will actually happen, or whether they will be in education.” 

Fears of teacher layoffs in Berkeley public schools because of the governor’s proposed budget cuts earlier this year saw large contingents of parents, teachers, school board members and students pack buses and cars and rally in front of the State Capitol in Sacramento several times. 

Huyett met with Assemblywoman Loni Hancock in Sacramento to emphasize the importance of preserving Prop. 98—a voter-approved statute that establishes a minimum level of funding for California schools—which the governor wanted to suspend but the legislature ultimately voted to save. 

Berkeley Unified announced in June that all teachers who had received pink slips in the mail would be able to keep their jobs. 

Selawsky said he was hopeful that the district’s classified employees would not be laid off either. 

Earlier this month the Berkeley Council of Classified Employees (BCCE) rallied to ask the School Board for a cost-of-living increase that district officials said at the time was difficult to negotiate because of the governor’s overdue budget. 

Huyett said that, although the district still had open contracts with BCCE and the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 39, it had settled pay raises with the teachers union and Local 21. 

School Board Member Joaquin Rivera, who will not be running for re-election during the Nov. 4 municipal elections, lambasted the government for the budget. 

“We finally have a budget, which is a horrible budget, and all the representatives who passed the budget should be ashamed of themselves,” he said at the board meeting Wednesday. “It’s really pushing the problem to next year. It does nothing for us. Year after year Sacramento keeps tying our hands and giving us less and less money. We have bills to pay, employees to take care of.” 

In a statement released Tuesday, the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Jack O’Connell, said he had directed his staff to distribute funds owed to child-care centers and schools. 

“With costs continuing to rise, budgets being squeezed, and the fact that this budget is predicated on uncertain revenues, the signing of the budget brings only temporary relief for local education agencies,” he said. “I urge policy-makers to craft a budget for the next fiscal year that includes new revenues that will allow us to truly address the needs of students in our public education system. We must provide funding that will help us increase the achievement of all students, close the achievement gap and prepare students for success in the increasingly competitive global economy.”


BHS Spanish Teacher Lobbies for Diagnostic Testing

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday October 02, 2008 - 09:25:00 AM

Visitors to Berkeley High School’s annual back-to-school night last Thursday might not remember the eight Latino students quietly handing out flyers to passers-by amid all the excitement of registering for different tutorials and after-school programs. 

But this small group is determined not to have their efforts overlooked. 

Titled “I need your help!” the flyer asked community members to lobby the administration at Berkeley High to introduce diagnostic testing in Spanish for native speakers of the language immediately, something the school currently lacks but is working to implement, school authorities said. 

Spearheading the effort is Eugenio “Janu” Juarez, a former coach for the Berkeley High boys’ soccer team, who also teaches Spanish at the school’s World Language Program. 

Juarez was in the news earlier this year when Berkeley High replaced him as the soccer coach after what some community activists said were complaints filed against him for disrespecting his players. He also played a prominent role in supporting the family of Berkeley High student Yonas Mehari, who was shot to death on Thanksgiving Day in 2006 during a family feud in North Oakland. 

Today, Juarez describes himself as an activist fighting for the rights of Latino minority students for more than a decade to close the achievement gap at Berkeley High. 

“The Berkeley Unified School District and Berkeley High claim to value diversity, but they have discriminated against Spanish-speaking language minority students for years,” he said. “How do they do this? By not giving students diagnostic exams in Spanish. Instead, native Spanish speakers are placed in [Spanish] classes at random. Overworked counselors, in a mad rush to complete schedules, put students in whatever class they find open on any given period.” 

Juarez said that when native Spanish speakers were placed in a [Spanish] class that failed to meet their level, the students often performed poorly because they did not find the classes challenging enough. An added difficulty, he said, is that sometimes students who speak Spanish at home might not perform well in a Spanish class because they do not know many of the academic rules of the language, the criteria for much of their grade. 

Berkeley High Vice Principal Maggie Heredia-Peltz said the high school would be discussing the implementation of diagnostic testing with the district’s Department of Evaluation and Assessment on Friday. 

“It’s something I feel is very important,” said Heredia-Peltz, who is Latino and moved to Berkeley three years ago from the Midwest. “Sure, we can do a lot of testing, but we don’t want to test students just for the sake of it.” 

Juarez said although diagnostic testing was compulsory from grades K–8, the district placed native Spanish speakers in Spanish language classes based on teacher recommendations.  

“That, and we also look at each student individually,” Heredia-Peltz said. “The way our Spanish class works is that, when students come to us from district schools, we take the teachers’ recommendations and we assume that they are on target. If it’s a student who comes to Berkeley High from a Spanish-speaking country, then they get assessed through initial testing and the English Language Learners program.” 

Juarez said he objected to native Spanish speakers being assigned to a basic level Spanish class, which he said was usually where anglophones (English speakers learning to speak Spanish) were placed.  

“For those who have Spanish as their first language it’s a waste of time,” he said. “They get bored with the class, and sometimes they say nothing and end up failing it. When kids have problems in class, they cannot play the sports they want. So they end up on the street or go to gangs. The school is in part responsible for their failure. This is the age of testing. We give exit exams, STAR tests, but we do not give diagnostic tests to Spanish-speaking students. That’s discrimination.” 

Heredia-Peltz dismissed Juarez’s allegations that the school was discriminating against minority students. 

“I was an English-language learner myself,” she said. “As a minority I can tell you that’s definitely what we are trying to do. We definitely want to empower all our students, but first we have to identify the problem. We want to have meaningful solutions. Mr. Juarez is aware that there is an ongoing conversation about this. He is a part of it.” 

Jaimez Rodriguez, a Berkeley High sophomore who grew up speaking Spanish at home, said he found his Spanish 7 class, which Juarez described as being of an intermediate level, boring because it was so easy. 

“I was taking French, but I wanted Spanish, and they just gave this class to me,” he said. 

Heredia-Peltz said that if a student  

wasn’t finding a particular Spanish class challenging enough, he or she could ask their counselor to switch the class with a more competitive one. 

“It’s just a matter of a simple conversation,” she said. “The student’s name does not necessarily give us the information about their proficiency level ... We also need to see if he passed his previous class.” 

Juarez also charged that the school conducted diagnostic testing in Spanish for white students from private schools, an allegation that Heredia-Peltz described as baseless. 

“We don’t just say you are a private school student, let’s test you,” she said. “It depends on what kind of middle school they are coming from. They would typically sign up for a first-level Spanish class, unless they are native speakers, in which case they sign up for native language Spanish classes. And private school students are not always white.”


A Guide to Berkeley’s Library and Disaster Bonds

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Thursday October 02, 2008 - 09:26:00 AM

Measure FF: Berkeley Library Bond 

Shall the City of Berkeley issue general obligation bonds not exceeding $26,000,000 to renovate, expand, and make seismic and access improvements at four neighborhood branch libraries, but not the Central Library, with annual reporting by the Library Board to the City Council? Two-thirds approval required. 

It’s a rare public issue that unites current Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates, former Berkeley Mayor Shirley Dean and Berkeley City Councilmember Kriss Worthington, the three city public officials who have been most at odds with each other during the past several years. The three have (temporarily) put aside their many differences in support of Measure FF, the Berkeley Library Bond. 

But the measure has drawn formidable opposition as well, including from the Berkeley Property Owners Association (BPOA), the Berkeley Alliance of Neighborhood Associations (BANA), and the Council of Neighborhood Associations (CNA). And common political wisdom has it that with any organized opposition, any ballot measure needing a two-thirds approval vote has a difficult hill to climb. 

Both sides agree on the importance of Berkeley libraries and the need for the improvements called for in the measure. The question is whether a bond measure backed by a property-tax increase is the best vehicle to do it. 

Measure FF would authorize capital improvements at four Berkeley branch libraries—North Branch, West Branch, South Branch (with its Tool Lending Library), and Claremont—through a $26 million, 30-year bond measure. The estimated annual property tax hike—and the measure stresses that this is only an estimate—would average $8.36 per year per $100,000 of assessed property valuation, and would rise as high as $18.22 per year per $100,000 of assessed property valuation from time to time. 

Measure FF supporters say the four branch libraries are “old and out of date,” are lacking in sufficient space for the numbers of visitors, have Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) deficiencies that must be addressed, and need technological upgrades. In addition, they say that the seismic upgrades called for in the measure are necessary and will have to be done, either with FF money if FF passes or with other city funds if it doesn’t. They also argue that at least one of the branches might have to be closed if the bond measure is not passed. 

Measure FF opponents say, while this may be true, financial relief may be available in the form of federal and state grant money, for which they say the city has failed to apply. They also say that there is other city money (“multimillion dollar developer subsidies” and the “$159,000 average [city] employee compensation”), which might be pared down and applied to the library needs. In addition, opponents say that the problem with the libraries is poor management of the money they have been allocated by Berkeley taxpayers, “not lack of money.” They refer to the possible library closing as a “threat.” 

Given the current state of the federal and state budgets, it seems doubtful that new money for Berkeley library needs can be gotten from those sources, at least in the short term. That leaves a couple of questions for Berkeley voters. Are the library needs called for in Measure FF so serious that they have to be met immediately? If so, is there enough money from the city budget that can be shifted over to meet those library needs without seriously compromising other Berkeley needs? And, finally, if the answer to question one is yes and the answer to question two is no, voters will still have to determine if they can take the hit in their property bills that is called for in Measure FF. 

 

Measure GG: Berkeley Emergency and Disaster Special Tax  

To enable the City to keep fire stations open and improve emergency medical response and disaster preparedness, shall a special tax be authorized of $.04083 per square foot of improvements in dwelling units and $.06179 per square foot on all other improvements? 

Two-thirds approval required. 

In some ways, the battle over Berkeley’s Measure GG seems like a replay or echo of Measure FF, with most of the same proponents and opponents. Like FF, GG has current and former Berkeley mayors Tom Bates and Shirley Dean signing the ballot argument for the measure. And also like FF, Measure GG is opposed by the Berkeley Property Owners Association (BPOA), the Berkeley Alliance of Neighborhood Associations (BANA), and the Council of Neighborhood Associations (CNA), among others. 

Measure GG is a special property tax used primarily to stop the city’s current system of rotating fire station closures, as well as to fund additional disaster and emergency preparedness measures. Included in the latter would be such things as providing life support paramedics and equipment for ambulances and fire trucks and acquiring radio communications equipment to enhance emergency and disaster communications within the city and with outside agencies. Proponents say that the paramedic inclusion is particularly important, arguing that while 70 percent of the 12,000 emergency calls to Berkeley firefighters last year were for medical emergencies, only three of the city’s seven fire stations have a designated paramedic. 

The initial yearly tax increase on a 1900-square-foot residential dwelling would be $78 per year; the increase on a 1900-square-foot non-residential building would be $118. But that tax rate would almost certainly change—that is, increase—over time, as Measure GG also authorizes the Berkeley City Council to make annual increases in the measure’s tax rate based upon growth in either the local cost-of-living index or in statewide personal income. For those reasons, no annual figure can be given for how much the tax authorized by Measure GG would yield. 

Both sides agree that the full fire station openings called for in the measure are important and necessary to the operation of the city. But as they do on Measure FF, the sides disagree on whether the only—and the proper—way to do it is through this measure. 

In addition, Measure GG opponents are arguing that money could be saved by using non-firefighter trained paramedics on the fire trucks rather than the higher-paid firefighters. 

Opponents also say that the money to support the improvements called for in Measure GG can be authorized by Berkeley City Council out of the city’s general fund. They also argue that the ballot measure gives no guarantee that it will end up with a fire department that is “adequately staffed,” or that the council will not use what opponents call a “bait-and-switch,” in which Measure GG property tax money is used only to replace fire department and disaster/ emergency money shifted over to the city’s general fund for other uses. 

Voter support for Measure GG, like that for FF, boils down to a number of questions. Are the city improvements called for in Measure GG—including keeping all the city’s fire stations open at all times and adding extra emergency and disaster personnel and equipment—necessary for the city? If the answer to that question is yes, is there enough money in the city’s general fund to pay for such improvements, rather than using a property tax increase? If the answer to the second question is no, are there enough safeguards in Measure GG to ensure that the money will be used to meet the fire department and emergency/disaster needs, and only those needs? 

 


Brazen Dorm Room Robbery At UC’s Clark Kerr Campus

By Richard Brenneman
Thursday October 02, 2008 - 09:27:00 AM

A pair of brazen bandits staged a “hot prowl” heist at UC Berkeley’s Clark Kerr campus early Tuesday morning, climbing in through an open kitchen window to rob a pair of students. 

According to a UCPD crime alert, the victims called police at 12:51 a.m. to say they’d just been robbed. 

The suspects, two tall, solidly built young men both wearing hooded garb, slipped in through the open window. 

Once inside, the first suspect walked into the bedroom where the two 18-year-old male residents were sleeping, while his accomplice waited in the hallway. 

Inside the bedroom the gunman flipped on the light and slammed the door, aiming his gun at the hapless students while he “demanded a laptop,” according to police. 

While the intruder was collecting the computer from one student and demanding the wallet of the other, the accomplice in the hallway repeatedly opened the door to urge his partner to pick up the pace so they could flee. 

The pair left the suite, this time by the front door, and “were last seen fleeing CKC on foot,” police reported. 

One suspect wore a puffy black jacket with a fleece-lined hood and a red-billed baseball cap, while the other was wearing a red hoodie and toting a yellow-and-black backpack, police said. 

Police asked anyone with information about the crime to call the campus police investigators at 642-0472 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. or 642-6760 after hours.


Police Blotter

By Richard Brenneman
Thursday October 02, 2008 - 09:27:00 AM

Hate crime—or not? 

Confronted with the green spray of graffiti on the Dana Street sidewalk, Berkeley Police officers had to decide if they were looking at a hate crime. 

“They decided to err on the side of caution,” said the department spokesperson, Officer Andrew J. Frankel. 

The screed, spewed onto the concrete sometime before 9:30 p.m. Monday, declared: “Jews for Jew and Finen Jews.” 

Officer Frankel said his colleagues, confronted with the penultimate word, couldn’t figure out what “finen” meant—leaving that mystery, as well as the sprayer’s identity, one of Berkeley’s unsolved mysteries. 

 

Sex crimes 

Berkeley detectives are looking into three sex crimes reported in recent days. 

At 8:18 p.m. Monday, a 31-year-old Berkeley woman told officers that moments before she had been groped by one of three young men near the corner of University Avenue and Sacramento Street, while a second fellow exposed himself. 

She described two of the suspects as young men between the ages of 18 and 21, one wearing a cross hanging from a neck chain. 

No arrests have been made. 

Police are releasing few details about the second crime, currently under investigation by detectives, after the West Berkeley guardian of a minor girl told police Sunday evening that the young person had been molested by an uncle. 

The guardian refused to offer details to the uniformed officers who responded to the call but did agree to talk to detectives, Officer Frankel said. 

The case is currently under investigation. 

The third incident was the reported rape of a woman at the Capri Motel on University Avenue. Officers responded to the early Sunday afternoon calls, but the department is withholding further information about the crime.  

 

Robberies 

Berkeley investigators are also investigating a rash of recent robberies, including a possible pistol whipping and a beating. 

The first attack came Monday night after a 28-year-old Berkeley man had already handed over his wallet, computer and backpack to the two bandits who accosted him in the 1700 block of Arch Street shortly before 8 p.m. 

One of the pair had pulled a pistol and demanded the loot, which the man handed over only to be attacked. He told officers he wasn’t sure whether he had been struck with the pistol or a fist, and he declined medical treatment, said Officer Frankel.  

The second robbery was a shoplifting that escalated into a physical encounter, raising a misdemeanor to a felony in the process. 

The attendant at a gas station in the 900 block of University Avenue watched as a 28-year-old man made off with chips and soda, bypassing the cash register, on Sept. 24, and when he returned for a repeat perfformance the next day, the clerk confronted him and a struggle ensued—hence the robbery charge. 

Police made an arrest, and the suspect was provided a temporary new home and accommodations in a secure location. 

Two robberies happened minutes apart on Sept. 23, the first reported at 7:50 p.m. in the 2000 block of Milvia Street, where two teenagers braced a 24-year-old Berkeley man. 

One patted the fellow down in search of valuables and at least one punch was thrown, but the victim managed to retain his possessions and the youthful felons absconded lootlessly. 

Less than a half-hour later, two felons of similar description confronted a man getting in his car in the 2600 block of Hilgard Avenue. One of the pair produced a pistol, and after their victim handed over his possessions, the duo bounded away. 

 

Officer assaulted 

Police arrested a 32-year-old Berkeley man after he allegedly assaulted an officer who had responded to a report of screams, breaking glass and the sight of a blood-soaked man in the 1700 block of Buena Avenue on Sunday night. 

Officer Frankel said Miguel Garcia was charged with battery on a police officer, interfering with an officer and parole violation. 

Teenage bank bandits busted 

Two boys, ages 13 and 14 and their 18-year-old companion were arrested by Berkeley Police on Friday after their were caught staking out a Shattuck Avenue bank. 

According to a campus police department crime alert, Berkeley police officers were summoned to the Mechanics Bank branch at 2301 Shattuck Ave. after a caller reported suspicious persons lurking in the area. 

Police arrived to find two people hiding in the bushes and a third “casing the bank.” 

City and campus police gave chase when the trio bolted, nabbing two of them close to the bank and the third moments later hiding in a Durant Avenue garage, 

Officers recovered a 12-inch knife, a fake firearm, a ski mask and a duffel bag, and the university police reported that the trio admitted they had been planning a bank heist. 

All three were taken into custody. 

 

Plain cruel  

It’s bad enough being jobless in a tanking economy; it’s even worse when your unemployment check is stolen. 

That’s what happened to a 58-year-old Berkeley woman, a resident of the 1300 block of Hopkins Street. 

Calling officers last Thursday morning, she said that the thief had purloined not only her unemployment benefits but also Federal Express and UPS packages. 

“That’s just low,” said Officer Frankel. 

 


Lincoln, a Comet, and the Politics of a Nation Divided

By Steven Finacom Special to the Planet
Thursday October 02, 2008 - 09:29:00 AM
Donati’s Comet as seen over Paris above the Palais du Justice, the Conciergerie and the Seine on Oct. 5, 1858, from a plate in The World of Comets, 1877, Amèdée Guillemin.
Donati’s Comet as seen over Paris above the Palais du Justice, the Conciergerie and the Seine on Oct. 5, 1858, from a plate in The World of Comets, 1877, Amèdée Guillemin.

The year 1858 was one of turmoil and wonder. One hundred and fifty years ago the world was coming together. The United States signed a commercial treaty with hitherto self-isolated Japan, gold seekers rushed to Pike’s Peak, there was talk of a railroad to California, and the first briefly successful transatlantic telegraph cable was laid. 

The world was also coming apart, or at least rearranging itself in unfamiliar ways. The British Crown abolished the East India Company and began to imperialize the subcontinent. Progress towards emancipation of Russian serfs accelerated, while in the United States, the dispute over slavery intensified. Bernadette of Lourdes believed she saw the Virgin Mary.  

In Illinois, a skinny, tall, lawyer with considerable insight but not much national experience was campaigning in a crucial election to be sent to Washington. 

And all around the world that fall people looked up at an immense, luminous, white bar across the night sky and wondered what it might mean. 

The comet they pondered was first observed by 41-year-old Italian astronomer Giovanni Battista Donati in June 1858. Its nearest approach to earth was on Oct. 10, 1858, when it had grown enormously long and highly visible. 

Joseph Le Conte, later the first great natural scientist on the faculty of the University of California, was then a South Carolina academic and doctor, comfortable with the science and society of the South. He was profoundly affected by Donati’s Comet. 

“In October, 1858, appeared the splendid comet of Donati, the most magnificent celestial phenomenon I had ever seen,” he recalled in his autobiography. “With what wonder and intense yearning I gazed at it every night! From early boyhood this upward yearning of my soul as if it would go out of me has always affected me in the presence of the starry heavens, especially when I gazed at the bright evening star. This yearning now returned upon me in the presence of this glorious comet.” 

Donati’s was one of the earliest “modern” comets. It was the first to be photographed, by astronomers at Harvard, and its behavior was carefully detailed by observers. For three weeks, for example, the comet was seen to throw off “halos” every 4.6 hours, strengthening the theory that comets were like spinning snowballs, not clouds of free-floating small particles. 

The night was curiously thick with comets in the 19th century, especially when compared to the recent past. In the late 20th century, the urban cometscenti snickered at the visual bust of ballyhooed Kohoutek in 1973, yawned at the predictable but unexpectedly pale return of Halley’s Comet in 1986, and were only briefly awed by Hale-Bopp in 1997. 

But for Americans of the early and mid-1800s the dark sky was a clear palette for a spectacular succession of comets; in addition to Donati’s in 1858, “great” ones visible to the naked eye came in 1811, 1843, 1846 (with a double nucleus, returning in 1852), 1853, 1861 (a comet with six visible “tails”), 1874, 1882, all punctuated and ending with two visits of Halley’s Comet in 1835 and 1910. 

Comets then were still, even in the United States, seen with suspicious awe and fear. The Great Comet of 1811—the most vividly visible until Donati’s appeared in 1858—was regarded by some as the precursor of the War of 1812.  

“In all countries and in all times the apparition of a comet has been considered as a presage: a presage fortunate or unfortunate according to the circumstances, the popular state of mind, the prevailing degree of superstition, the imbecility of princes or the calculation of courtiers,” Amèdée Guillemin wrote in 1877 in a thick tome on cometary science and history. 

“The people looked to comets, earthquakes, storms, and prairie fires as the peculiarly awful language of God,” wrote one historian of the Middle Western American frontier of that era. “Such signs convinced the pioneers they were to be God’s chosen instruments in His ineffable plans.” 

“Across the prairie sky in the year 1858 there came in Illinois cloudy weather for a long time and when it cleared there was seen on the blue mist sheeting of the sky a traveling tail of fire, a new silver arrow among the old yellow stars,” wrote historian Archer Shaw. 

“The people had known it was coming; the men of the books had said it would come…at least two and perhaps three thousand years this silver arrow had been tracking its way, a wanderer, not at all responsible in the way that fixed stars and the sun and the moon are responsible, a mover and a goer into new and unknown ways.” 

“The comet blazes in the evening sky with a luster which is nightly increasing,” reported the Illinois State Register; “nightly there are thousands of eyes turned towards it.” 

Francis Grierson, who grew up in Illinois in the 1850s, would later describe a revival meeting in which a preacher proclaimed, “brethering, the Lord hez passed the time when He shakes yer cornfields en yer haystacks by a little puff o’wind. He hez opened the roof o’ Heaven so ye can all see what’s a-comin.’…Under ye the yearth hez been shuck, over ye the stars air beginnin’ te shift en wander. A besom o’ destruction ’ll overtake them thet’s on the wrong side in this here fight!” 

The preacher climaxed, Grierson remembered, with this declaration: “He shell send them a saviour, en a great one, en he shell deliver them … ask yerselves who it air thet’s a-cryin’ for deliverance … Why, thar ain’t but one people a-cryin’ for deliverance, en they are the slaves down thar in Egypt!” 

He didn’t mean down at the southern tip of Illinois, in Cairo. But across that still young state, through its cities, hamlets, prairies, and woodlands, grassroots preaching helped set the stage, for immense public interest in both the comet and the volatile politics of the nation. 

Among the comet watchers was Abraham Lincoln who “greatly admired this strange visitor,” one observer said, and stayed up to look at it for a solid hour one night. Stephen Douglas, his debate opponent in the United States Senate campaign that summer and fall, took similar interest. 

“It was in this year of the comet that Lincoln was fixing his thoughts on the fact that nothing stays fixed,” historian Shaw wrote. “Up among the fixed stars and steady constellations are explosions and offshoots of comets, sprays of comets. 

“For Lincoln, the year of the comet was one filled with burning struggle.” 

“If we could first know where we are, and whither we are tending, we could better judge what to do, and how to do it…A house divided against itself cannot stand,” Lincoln told the state Republican convention that June, as he was nominated for Senate, in a speech some of his prudent friends had advised him not to deliver.  

“I believe this government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free … Either the opponents of slavery will arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction; or its advocates will push it forward till it shall become alike lawful in all the States, old as well as new, North as well as South.” 

“In simple Bible language … and in longer words of piercing precision,” wrote Shaw the historian, “he had spoken thought as fresh, beautiful, and terrible as Donati’s Comet with its tail of fire in the sky. What he had said was easy to say and to understand, a common-sense telling of what millions of anxious hearts wanted told.” 

What would, one wonders, the self-proclaimed “Party of Lincoln” say if a comet appeared over Illinois this fall as a new, boldly speaking, young leader rose up out of that state? Would they place him and themselves on the side of change? We can only imagine. Perhaps they would claim the comet was actually pointed towards Alaska. 

Lincoln distinguished himself in his debates with Douglas, but lost his bid to become Senator from Illinois. But his “House Divided” speech and the debates made him nationally famous. Two years later he would defeat Douglas in a national election, and win the Presidency. 

And Grierson wrote of one later evening in that politically poignant fall of 1858, after the debates were done, “…just above the horizon, poised like an aerial plume in the deep indigo blue, the vanishing comet waned amidst a wilderness of glittering lights under a shimmering crown of stars.”


CORRECTION

Thursday October 02, 2008 - 09:27:00 AM

In a Sept. 25 story on regional measures on the November ballot (“Analysis of Regional Ballot Measures”), we mistakenly reported that the East Bay Regional Park District Measure WW “appears to be one of the few issues that is not generating any opposition.” In fact, Measure WW has generated opposition. Please see our letters page for rebuttal.


Opinion

Editorials

Worry Global, Vote Local

By Becky O’Malley
Thursday October 02, 2008 - 09:31:00 AM

The on-going exposure of the number and kind of misdeeds perpetrated by the Bush administration and cronies continues to be staggering. On Tuesday alone, we saw the third-in-command CIA official pleading guilty to funneling big contracts to his college roommate, and we heard that a federal prosecutor will investigate the firings at the U.S. Department of Justice. But these shocking revelations had to take a back seat to the news of the slippery financial dealings which are causing the world economy to collapse, all of which took place with the blessings of the Bushies.  

And then there’s John McCain, a man whom several respectable men I know once believed to be a person of integrity (I don’t know any women he fooled.) Wrong. Not only is he gleefully talking out of both sides of his mouth as regards the money meltdown, his choice of a ditsy but tough-talking teenager-wannabe to run for vice president is breathtakingly irresponsible, especially since he must know that his own health is chancy.  

Or does he? Evidently his estimation of probabilities is deeply flawed, judging by the tales in Sunday’s New York Times about his ties to the gambling industry and his history of being a high-roller. You read about it first in the Berkeley Daily Planet last year, by the way. 

But do we need to lecture our Berkeley readers about any of this? No, of course not. We are, as a group, much too well-informed about national-level misdeeds to make it necessary to preach to the choir any further in these pages. 

It’s our job here to subject local controversies, major and minor, to the appropriate level of scrutiny at the appropriate time, because the only way Berkeley will find out about the small (or at least small-scale) stuff is if we tell them in these pages. Which brings me to the sticky subject of ballot measures: How should the conscientious citizen vote on them? 

Let’s deal with the easiest one first. I can’t seem to go anywhere in public lately without some friend grabbing me by the lapels and saying that the Planet must endorse the bonds for earthquaking the branch libraries. Enough already!  

As previously stipulated, The Planet doesn’t endorse, but the executive editor sometimes reveals her vote. And yes, of course I’m going to vote for this one. With all due respect to our readers who say otherwise, saying that Google searches can now replace public libraries is a bit let-them-eat-cakish. Especially with big bookstores going down the tubes, there’s nowhere else that the would-be learner can get a feeling for the vast amount of available information in the world, an experience akin to gazing at the night sky and contemplating the universe. On your ballot, that would be Berkeley local measure FF. 

It’s really too bad that some citizens think Berkeley Measure KK (the initiative which would limit the city’s power to turn traffic lanes over to busses without a vote of the people) is necessary, but the City Council has shown zero leadership in responding to public concerns about the potential bad effects of the wrong kind of bus rapid transit plan. Readers of this paper know more about the pros and cons than I could ever repeat, so you’re on your own in making up your minds. I might not decide until I’m in the voting booth myself. Regarding GG (fire station tax) and JJ (permitting medical marijuana dispensaries), let your conscience (and the location of your property, if any) be your guide.  

Which brings us to Measure LL. As opponents say, HeLL No! This is a referendum on a duplicitous attempt by real estate and development interests to make it easier to tear down old buildings in Berkeley. In a period when greenishness is suddenly in vogue, the council backers (chiefly Bates and Capitelli) of the attempted emasculation of Berkeley’s current effective preservation ordinance should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves. The ballot language is deceptive: Beware. 

I was unfortunate enough, pre-Planet, to have been on the Landmarks Preservation Commission during the several years the developer-funded Berkeley Planning Department was trying to advance their demolition agenda, so I know that the current ordinance with two or three lines of amendments still works just fine. If LL is defeated, the old ordinance will still be the law and can be selectively amended if needed.  

Several letter writers have informed us that Councilmember Capitelli and perhaps also the mayor’s office have been claiming that the Sierra Club supports LL, which is definitely not true, as Capitelli has now acknowledged. The huge environmental cost of demolishing buildings which could easily be re-used is well established. One more time, with feeling: the greenest building is an existing building, which most Sierra Club members surely understand. Anyone who worries about climate change should vote no on LL.  

 

• • •  

 

While we’re on the subject of pollution, a former employee here has chosen to quit, trailing a cloud of sulfurous smoke. Concerned friends have inquired. Anyone who’s heard about this and is curious is free to ask me about it. I see no benefit to anyone in airing my complaints here. The reporter did some fine work for us, giving our readers important insights into our city. We were sorry to see her leave, but sorrier for how she chose to do so. 

 


Cartoons

Arnold and the Veto

By Justin DeFreitas
Monday October 06, 2008 - 10:32:00 AM


California's Credit Card

By Justin DeFreitas
Monday October 06, 2008 - 10:38:00 AM


Capitalism Guaranteed

By Justin DeFreitas
Monday October 06, 2008 - 10:39:00 AM


Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

Monday October 06, 2008 - 02:11:00 PM

 

 

THE HERETIC HAS GOT TO GO! 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

On behalf of our entire community, I wish to express shock, outrage and profound disgust that the word “G-d” (I can’t bring myself to spell out that odious term) may have been uttered in one of our public school classrooms. How can we tolerate in our midst a public school teacher who not so secretly cleaves to the heresy of creationism? 

It’s not enough that this teacher has been allowed personal leave since this blasphemy against Science and Reason. The damage already done to these impressionable young minds by the denial of Evolution and the Big Bang (it’s not a “theory”) may be irreparable! 

What’s the School District’s answer to this thought crime? To “seek some form of discipline against her.” We demand a more public form of excommunication! We may have a true “witch” on our hands here and only a public “witch trial” will suffice to reestablish the purity of our community’s dogma. Yes, we demand a new “Scopes Trial,” “A G-d Trial” of the “Infidel Martin”! 

Edna Spector 

 

• 

CORRECTION 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Regarding Richard Brenneman's Oct. 2 story "Commission Spurns DAPAC Parking, Traffic Proposals," I want to clarify that I did not have the opportunity to serve on the DAPAC committee, as Mr. Brenneman states. My appointment to the Planning Commission began after DAPAC had completed its work. 

Roia Ferrazares 

Planning Commission 

District 2 

 

• 

WATER CONSERVATION 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

It is hard to swallow EBMUD's complaints that its customers are not conserving enough water. I have been taking short showers, flushing the toilet with water I catch in the shower, haranguing my teenagers, etc. Yet in the past few weeks I have ridden my bike past block after block of enormous lush green lawns in Lafayette and Orinda. On top of that, I always see several yards being watered in the heat of the day on every ride. I really don't think the few gallons I am saving makes much of a difference in the whole scheme of things. When EBMUD gets serious, maybe its customers will too. 

Eric Weaver 

 

• 

RIGHT GAL FOR THE WRONG JOB 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

When I saw Sarah Palin look into the TV camera, flash her cosmetic eyelashes, and say so sincerely, "Change is coming, and John McCain is the leader of that reform," I could almost believe her. Except I wasn't born yesterday. I've seen McCain fight to remove government regulation and oversight for 26 years, which has dumped us in the financial firestorm that is now melting our economy. 

Sen. Biden reminded debate viewers that the so-called "maverick" voted for George Bush's budgets, which piled up over $3 trillion in debt. McCain voted for Bush's exclusion of 3.6 million children from the S-CHIP health care plan. He supported Bush's war in Iraq from the beginning, and voted billions of tax breaks for the most wealthy corporations and CEOs. 

But even if Palin really does believe that McCain would bring change, he couldn't do it single-handedly. He'd have to use many of the same Republican operatives and lobbyists that are so deeply entrenched in Bush's administration. These are the birds he's flown with all his career, from Alaska to Arizona, to K Street in DC. 

As for Palin's debate performance: She was chipper; she was smiley. She dodged the questions she couldn't answer, and she stayed on message. And, gosh darn it, she sounded sincere. Sarah Palin would be a perfect presidential press secretary. Too bad she got bumped up to a responsibility she's not ready for. 

Bruce Joffe 

Piedmont 

 

• 

BIRGENEAU 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Recently, my daughter, a UC Berkeley student, tried to sign up for a P.E. class. Not only were all the classes full, all the waiting lists were also full. Meanwhile, while the regular students are neglected, Birgeneau is spending an incredible amount of time, energy and money on the High Performance Center for elite athletes whose main purpose is entertainment. I entirely agree with the Boyce's letter to Chancellor Birgeneau in which they voiced their concern about how the mission of the university is being diverted from education to spectator sports. Now more than ever, given the growing consumption of fast food and weight problems, students need to be participating in physical activities, not watching from the sidelines. I'm sure Birgeneau would insist that spectator sports are necessary to increase donations, but I am sure many people prefer to donate elsewhere due to the university's emphasis on football instead of education.  

Sally Levinson 

 

• 

NEW MANTRA 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

The old tried and true mantra, "Capitalism cannot be successfully regulated," has now been replaced by an even more terrifying truism: "Globilization will never be sucessfully regulated." Looks like we are in a pickle without a paddle. Looks like old Karl was right on. 

Robert Blau 

 

• 

DONA'S LEGACY 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

I’d like to reply to Frank Greenspan's Oct. 2 letter. Dona Spring’s death left a huge hole in our hearts and leaves us without a progressive candidate in District 4. We all have mentors, a caring parent, or a teacher that is no longer with us. In making an important decision, I often ask myself “what would my mother do,” or as an artist, I might ponder what my mentor had taught me. This does not mean I don’t think for myself; I am simply remembering the important things I have learned from those who are no longer with me.  

I support Jesse Arreguin for District 4, for many reasons, and one of them is because he has shown he does think for himself and yet will still carry on the work that Dona started. He has many supporters both in his district and from other progressive leaders.  

I am a warm pool advocate (my mother taught me compassion), and I believe among other issues, he is a strong proponent for the disabled community. 

My biggest fear is that the progressive candidates will split the vote and Terry Doran will dance in and be sitting in Dona’s chair. We cannot let this happen. It is a time for Berkeley to come together and make sure that we continue our reputation as a city who cares about our most vulnerable citizens. 

Lori Kossowsky 

 

• 

MEASURE VV 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Thank you for the balanced review of Measure VV in your Sept. 15 "Analysis of Regional Ballot Measures." Here's additional information to help inform voters in November. 

AC Transit provides a critical service to 227,000 daily riders in Alameda and Contra Costa counties; 60,000 riders are youth who depend on AC to go to school and after-school programs (school buses are extremely limited in the East Bay). 

Last winter AC Transit proposed to raise youth passes from $15 to $28 a month, senior passes from $20 to $28 a month. These extreme increases would have burdened some of the area's neediest populations. Higher fares mean that many families cannot afford to send their children to school everyday; or senior citizens have access to necessary goods and services. Measure VV keeps fares low for both youth and seniors. 

Although nearly one-third of AC Transit's riders owns a vehicle, they choose the bus as an affordable alternative. Not only can Measure VV keep fares affordable but also attract more riders and continue to help reduce traffic and air pollution. 

Since Measure VV guarantees funds be used for operating costs only, the current fleet can be maintained without cutting service. We need reliable and affordable public transit for all people if we are to meet current and future environmental challenges. Measure VV spreads a small burden across a large population and helps everyone.  

Summer Brenner 

Youth Transportation Coalition  

 

• 

DORAN HAS HOMEWORK TO DO 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

While reading the Oct. 2 Daily Cal article "Downtown Redevelopment Plays Major Role in Election," I was flabbergasted to see District 4 candidate Terry Doran quoted as saying he thought a denser downtown would help decrease greenhouse gas emissions. "The greatest contributor to greenhouse gases is driving cars," said Doran, "that's another reason why I support these larger structures downtown." 

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, all transportation—including cars, trucks, trains, and airplanes—accounts for just 27 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. On the other hand, construction and operation of buildings produces 48 percent of such emissions. 

Doran's plan to tear down existing downtown buildings and construct new, far larger ones, would not only not help decrease greenhouse gas emissions—it would contribute to them in a major way. 

In the words of Richard Moe, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation: "Any new building represents a new impact on the environment. The bottom line is that the greenest building is one that already exists. We cannot build our way out of this global warming crisis. We have to conserve our way out. This means we have to make better, wiser use of what we've already built." 

That's a good reason to vote no on Measure LL in November. 

Terry Doran, you have some homework to do. 

Daniella Thompson 

 

• 

MEASURE KK 

Editors, Daily Planet:
 In defending Measure KK, Bruce Kaplan goes to some ridiculous lengths to convince readers that the measure is “pro-transit.” Among other things, he rehashes many of the now-familiar arguments about the evils of the proposed East Bay Bus Rapid Transit project—why it won’t really improve public transit, why it isn’t really green, and so on. There’s no need to go over that familiar territory again.
 But Kaplan does introduce a couple of novel ideas that deserve attention.
 He says, “I know that most of the city’s political elite have come out against the measure.”
 Think about that. The entire City Council—Mayor Tom Bates and all seven current councilmembers—is opposed to Measure KK. Is that the city’s political elite? Where is Sarah Palin when we need her? You just can’t trust those elites any more, can you? Never mind that we elected all of them, and that the essence of democracy in our country is something called representative government. Down with the “elites”! Yes, indeed.
 And then there’s Kaplan’s reference to all the neighborhood opposition to the BRT project and support for Measure KK. They include “CENA, Willard, Le Conte and Northeast Berkeley, the Council of Neighborhood Associations (CNA). These organizations represent the folks that actually live here in Berkeley. They understand how detrimental the presently proposed plan would be if allowed to go forward.”
 Let me tell you something about those organizations. I’ve talked with many friends who live in the neighborhoods the organizations supposedly represent, and what they’ve said to me is they find the organizations so conservative and negative that they don’t want to have anything to do with them. “You should go to their meetings and express your views,” I’ve argued. “They represent you!”
 But I can understand their reluctance. 

Here’s what a friend who lives in one of the above-mentioned neighborhoods wrote to me in an e-mail: “Nobody beside a small inner circle e-mail list was notified that the neighborhood association was even discussing BRT. In the past, we used to have a newsletter and notices of meetings which were dropped at over 1,000 doors. People throughout the neighborhood were told what was going to be discussed at the next neighborhood meeting and had a chance to come and speak. Now, only a few insiders know about meetings if there are any. The last time there was a widely distributed neighborhood meeting notice was a few years ago when I distributed it and posted it myself.” 

Hank Resnik
 

• 

SAY NO TO EXTREMISTS 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

The Daily Planet again brings forth the radical anti-Israel ideologues to justify vandalism, graffiti, and swastikas as some kind of legitimate and civil protest in the city of Berkeley. In the Looking Glass world of the Israel haters: gay and women's rights are of no concern, free press and free speech are dismissed, multiparty democracy is equated with the political system in China, and peaceful efforts for coexistence are cynically belittled. Meanwhile those who censor free speech using Nazi symbols to literally cover up the truth are elevated. Their victims are then called Nazis! 

Americans understand this kind of swiftboating, big lie propaganda technique. If people think that Israel is like China, then I might urge them to visit both countries and peacefully hand out leaflets protesting government policies, except I would hate to see someone end up in a Chinese jail. Israel, on the other hand, is a democratic country with freedom of the press and freedom of speech. Unlike the United States, in Israel, citizens—both Jewish and non-Jewish—deal daily with serious terrorist threats without the fearmongering and attack on civil rights that is going on here. 

Israel and Palestine have serious problems. The solutions will come through efforts toward moderation, coexistence, and civil rights, not through bombs, violence and repression. Americans can best help Israel and Palestine by supporting peaceful coexistence and saying no to extremists on both sides.  

Rabbi Jane Rachel Litman 

 

• 

BLUESTAR 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

We at BlueStarPR (a non-profit located in San Francisco) are astounded that you would publish readers' letters justifying graffiti equating a swastika with a Jewish star accompanied by anti-Israel ravings. By any reasonable definition, these letter are gross examples of hate speech. This is not my opinion but rather an undeniable fact according the official definition of anti-Semitism by the European Union. The European Union is hardly a part of the Republican Party and has often found itself in very contentious disagreement with the State of Israel. I urge you to consider the conclusions of its 2005 Brussels meeting of the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC) on anti-Israel expression and anti-Semitism. 

Firstly, the European Union declared that denying Israel’s right to exist is anti-Semitism. 

They have also determined the following acts or statements to be anti-Semitism: 

• Denying the Jewish people’s right to self-determination, e.g. by claiming that the existence of a state of Israel is a racist endeavor. 
 • Applying double standards by requiring of Israel a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation. 
 • Using the symbols and images associated with classic anti-Semitism (e.g. claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or Israelis. 
 • Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis. 
 • Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the State of Israel. 

However, they concluded that criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as anti-Semitic. 

I call each individual resident of Berkeley to personally adopt this European resolution in its entirety. Berkeley should strive to live up to its own standards and avoid sinking into that morass of hatred where the authors of those offensive letters seem to permanently dwell. 

Pin Altman 

BlueStarPR 

 

• 

KNOB AND TUBE WIRING 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

With interest—and with some bemusement—I read Matt Cantor's column about knob and tube wiring in last week's issue of the Berkeley Daily Planet. I found the piece generally informative, but I question the accuracy of a couple of Cantor's assertions. In particular, I do not believe that, "If you have a house built before 1950, there is a good chance that it contains some knob and tube wiring." The fact is that the use of knob and tube wiring was almost non-existent after the 1930s (at the latest) in almost all parts of the country. By the 1920s, fabric or cloth covered bundled wiring had been invented and gradually superceded the more antiquated system. 

I know of absolutely no instances where knob and tube wiring was used in post-war housing, at least in the Midwest and in the east. My observations come from long years as a general contractor dating from the early 1950s on. I have worked on wide variety of wood-framed, steel-framed, and concrete buildings ranging from three hundred year old New England saltboxes to many urban residential and commercial structures in Boston, New York, Chicago, and San Francisco. 

While I concur that knob and tube wiring was a reasonable system when it came into usage in the late 19th century, I take issue with Cantor's claim that it currently constitutes a safe alternative to armored cable or Romex. While I believe that it is possible to permit existing knob and tube runs to remain active in certain out of the way locations such as in basements, I cannot believe that a single licensed electrician in this country would install it, even where the codes would allow its use. And even if the required components were available, training employee in its proper assembly would be out of the question, I would think. 

From a 21st century perspective, I view knob and tube wiring as a fascinating anachronism—and an integral part of American construction history. 

Miltiades Mandros 

 

• 

ANTI-SEMITISM IN BERKELEY 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

I am a university student and I am greatly concerned about the recent racist defacing of a poster.  

As a student of an American university, I consider myself very lucky. The university in America plays a unique role and ideally should be serving as the epicenter for free speech and expression. A place where top minds and aspiring youth hungry for knowledge can cut their teeth and explore the realms of academia in a safe and diverse environment. Not just a racially diverse or culturally diverse environment (although those are both important, too) but also ideologically diverse. A place where people can discuss different opinions in a respectful and open manner and feel free in doing so is a beautiful place indeed.  

On the other hand, when there are those cowards who would seek to intimidate or eliminate other view points just because they are different, and that is a dangerous and terrible thing. When there are those who would seek to use the most vile and genocidal image of the modern era in order to stifle the free speech of others, that is beyond sickening.  

I hope that the true idea of freedom, freedom of thoughts, words and beliefs, can be made whole in Berkeley and elsewhere. I hope that that this type of thuggery is not accepted by the community at large, and as other hate movements are, only exists as a fringe group that represents no one but the sick twisted individuals who would stoop to this type of thing.  

Jonathan Brostoff 

 

• 

HATEFUL LETTER 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

I was very disappointed that you published the obviously hateful letter regarding Israel and the defacing of the positive message in the Blue Star posters. You make decisions every day on what to publish and not publish. Surely this crossed the line. Please reconsider in the future. 

Peter Logan 

San Francisco 

 

• 

HISTORICAL VACCUUM 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Marc Sapir’s commentary on graffiti and Israel is written in a historical vacuum. His comments are borne of humanistic concerns but fail to take into account the historical context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Conditions are what they are today primarily for one reason and one reason alone: anti-Semitism.  

Before the birth of Israel, Jews suffered thousands of years of persecution, and prior to the establishment of the state of Israel, the Arabs had joined the Nazis as allies in their attempt to destroy the Jewish people. With the end of World War II, the nations of the world almost unanimously supported a division between adversaries, Palestinian Arabs and Palestinian Jews. This division resulted in the formation of two separate nations, and was necessary to ensure the safety of the Jewish people. Borders were drawn by UN consensus and they were not perfect. Jews remained on Arab land, Arabs remained on Jewish land; Arabs received more land, Jews received major port access, and so on. Jerusalem was split between the two peoples. 

True to form, however, the area’s Arab countries could not tolerate a Jewish country in their midst, and thus ensued yet another attempt to eradicate the Jewish people. During the violence that followed Palestinians on Israeli lands fled to Palestinian lands, and Jews on Palestinian lands fled to Israeli lands. After turning away the Arab aggressors, the fledgling Jewish state was faced with the continual threat of annihilation by Arab countries surrounding it as evidenced by three additional Arab-initiated wars. With two subsequent intifadas Israel has necessarily developed a survival mentality that persists to this day. Hence, the current situation. 

Despite Sapir’s hard-edged finger pointing, Israel has been forced to react to its circumstances. There has not been one Israeli leader since 1948 who hasn’t said that when the Arab leaders decide that they will accept Israel’s right to exist, and genuinely and permanently want peace and co-existence, Israel would rejoice and negotiate fairly and equitably on all matters. At that very moment conditions for Palestinian Arabs would improve. 

So, it really is a question of what comes first, the chicken or the egg. Those who harshly criticize Israel fail to appreciate Israel’s raison d’etre, its reason for existence. Instead, they attribute what they perceive as nefarious designs to some baseless notion of Israel realpolitik.  

Can Israel really do anything differently under these circumstances? Nothing substantive. In a dispute, it is not enough for one party to want peace. Both parties must want peace. Take with a grain of salt Sapir’s use of words such as Zionism, colonialism, segregationist, and racism. They are buzz words that only reflect continuing anti-Semitism when applied to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 

Barry Gustin 

 

• 

MISSED OPPORTUNITY 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

It is a sad statement on the editorial policy of your paper when an objective article about the defacing of an advertising poster is followed by a virulently anti-Israel reader commentary. When one of your reporters acknowledges the presence of anti-Semitic graffiti on a poster promoting peaceful co-existence in Israel—the swastika is a symbol for the annihilation of the Jewish people—somehow this is soundly discounted in a subsequent op-ed piece. Leaders from the university and City of Berkeley have decried this hateful act of graffiti as intolerable in a city that is committed to diversity and pluralism. Clearly, most would recognize that by equating a swastika with a Jewish star, a line is being crossed between criticizing Israel and demonizing the Jewish people. Regardless of politics, it was a missed opportunity by your paper to show support and humanity for those in the Jewish community who felt violated by this act. An editorial denouncing this hateful act, as we hope you would have written for other communities similarly attacked, would have been the appropriate response. 

Myrna David 

East Bay Regional Director 

Jewish Community Relations Council 

Oakland 

  

• 

BETTER STEWARDSHIP OF TAXPAYER MONEY 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Those of us who feel now is not the time for additional new taxes in Berkeley are not opposed to funding the libraries, the fire fighters and other essential services. Our opposition to Measures FF, GG and HH is based on the premise that these essential services should be funded first out of the general fund, rather than by special taxes.  

In the “good times” of 2004, Berkeley voters were clear that they opposed new taxes. One message our elected representatives didn't seem to get from those votes was that they should look to other funding sources to leverage city money in funding these essential services. 

Many of our neighboring communities have been much more active in going after grants from both public and private sources for funding essential services. For the libraries, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will pay for new computers and librarian training. For police and firefighters, new radios that allow interagency communication can be purchased with Department of Homeland Security matching funds. 

The other thing our elected representatives should have taken from the 2004 vote is that better management of the funding they do have is needed.  

That might mean less generous raises for city employees. That might mean looking at alternative means of delivering services such as employing an outside contractor to provide paramedic services, rather than rolling expensive firefighters for every call. That might mean controlling overtime by city staff, especially in the fire and police departments. At some point it becomes cheaper to hire additional staff than to pay one person the salary of two people. 

In the past we have approved many special taxes. We thought we could get improved streets, parks, EMT and other services. Instead, what our elected representatives did, was for every penny we added as additional taxes, they took away City funding. This is why, although we are paying for more taxes, we don't receive better services. 

Our elected representatives have ignored the critical need to identify and adequately fund essential services, before making hard decisions about the many nice-to-have services. A no vote on Measures FF, GG and HH will make it clear that essential services must be our city's top priority and must be funded first. 

Vincent Casalaina 

• 

TROY DAVIS 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Please consider the importance of the case in which Troy Davis will be sentenced to death without overwhelming proof of his guilt and a lot of evidence as to his innocence. We must not continue to allow disparities in racial and economic equality be the cause of wrongful death. We must do everything we can to preserve our dignity as a nation and avoid this brutality on the part of a flawed judicial system. Nobody would want this to happen to someone they knew and yet the possibility only increases the more we become desensitized to these travesties of justice. Regardless of one's position on the death penalty we should all reasonably agree that we need to be safe as citizens from wrongful execution. We cannot ignore this any longer for humanity's sake. 

Georgia's judicial system has so far failed to consider the compelling new evidence of Mr. Davis´s innocence and either exonerate him or at least grant him a new trial and let a jury decide if he is guilty or innocent. 

The case of Troy Davis highlights some of the many problems that death penalty supporters have no answers for: the risk of innocent people being executed, inadequate counsel, and racial and economic status disparities. 

The Troy Davis case also is an example of a less obvious problem with our criminal justice system -- that the ever-increasing number of procedural hurdles erected by courts and legislators to deny death-row inmates relief and expedite their executions has seriously eroded the system's ability to correct its mistakes. 

Had Troy Davis had adequate resources to defend himself, this miscarriage of justice might not have occurred. Like virtually everyone else on death row in this country, Troy Davis is indigent. There are no millionaires on death row. 

Meagan Mosher-Stockinger 

 


Letters to the Editor

Thursday October 02, 2008 - 09:31:00 AM

CLARIFICATION 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

I was clearly misquoted by your reporter in the article about the dispute around the Thai Temple’s permits. Part of what you printed is not what I said, does not reflect my opinions and I want to distance myself from this very clearly. 

I never said: “Just a few blocks down there’s gangs and drug dealers hanging about.” 

What I said was, “There have been problems with drugs and even shootings in this area and the temple seems to be a peaceful influence.” 

I am asking you to clarify this. The difference between what I said and what you printed makes a big difference and I take this very seriously. I never said that there are certain people hanging about somewhere, which is a stereotyping and prejudiced statement that makes me very uncomfortable. I have never seen drug dealers around here and have no idea how to even recognize a gang. 

Therefore please protect the integrity of your journalism and my good name. Especially since I was willing to answer questions for your report. 

Helge Osterhold 

 

• 

RE-THINKING EVERYTHING 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

I like Mr. Klatt’s opinion piece about not having taxes pay for the libraries since most of us have our own libraries and access to or own PCs where all information is available and correct. Since our kids are out of Berkeley schools at the end of this year I don’t think I should have to pay for them either. Now that I think of it, we don’t use the parks all that much now so maybe we could get out of paying for that too. I’ve never had to call the Fire Department (and I have insurance anyway) so maybe I could do without taxes for the Fire Department and just pay when we need them. 

What a wonderful city we’ll have—full of purely self-serving and self-satisfied individuals without a sense of community and citizenship. 

Bill Newton 

 

• 

MEASURE WW OPPOSITION 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

I just want to correct an error in J. Douglas Allen-Taylor’s Sept. 25 article, “Analysis of Regional Ballot Measures.” Measure WW is not without opposition. You can check www.noonmeasureww.org to get more details. Measure WW is flawed on many levels, but the crux of the issue is that the East Bay Regional Parks District is a bad steward of the parks it owns, and giving it more money would only fix the pretty dismal state of our East Bay parks. We would be better off raising money for the state parks system, as it is definitely better managed and in more dire need of funds to maintain its vast land holdings. 

J.C. Poussin 

 

• 

EAST BAY PARKS 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Contrary to J. Douglas Allen-Taylor’s Sept. 25 article, Measure WW faces strong opposition—from local hikers, bikers, and environmentalists like myself who are appalled at the EBRPD’s terrible stewardship of the public lands it controls. 

For example, over 85 percent of park “trails” are steep, erosive dirt roads for trucks, not paths for people on foot, bicycle, or horse. Nearly two-thirds of EBRPD “park land” is used for private industrial cattle and sheep production—not conservation or recreation. We don’t have a park system—we have a highway system and an agribusiness operation! 

Instead of rewarding the EBRPD’s neglect with $500 million, we should instead support our cash-strapped city and California State Parks systems, which does a great job running beautiful parks like Joaquin Miller and Mt. Diablo. 

For more information, and shocking pictures of the EBRPD’s destruction of our parks, please visit our website: www.NoOnMeasureWW.org. 

John Grigsby 

Oakland 

 

• 

SIERRA CLUB DOES NOT ENDORSE MEASURE LL 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

There has been misinformation circulated that the Sierra Club supports Measure LL, the ballot measure that would change the current Landmarks Ordinance. The Sierra Club has taken no such action and made no such endorsement of Measure LL. The Sierra Club has not taken any position on Measure LL. We ask anyone who has passed along this information in error to officially retract the information that has been given out.  

Kent Lewandowski  

Chair, Sierra Club Northern Alameda County  

 

• 

TEARING UP TELEGRAPH 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Whose brilliant idea in Berkeley city government was it to tear up all four lanes of Telegraph Avenue between Ashby and Woolsey, and leave them torn up for days? The results were chaotic—fine, nasty dust raised by cars on this major traffic artery chokes pedestrians, makes outdoor seating at restaurants impossible, and settles on cars, trees, sidewalks, gardens and homes for blocks around. EBMUD tells us not to use water for cleaning, so the dust stays. Bicyclists have been forced onto the sidewalks. Lack of parking also affects the many businesses along these blocks. 

So why didn’t repaving start right away? It should be pretty simple—shut down the street, repave, reroute traffic along Shattuck, and back up on Alcatraz. Or, if need be, repave two lanes at a time. Anything would be better than the dust. Eventually the road was wetted down—too little, too late. 

Aija Kanbergs 

 

• 

A BRT PREVIEW 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Foes and friends of Bus Rapid Transit should have taken a look at Telegraph south of Ashby over the past week or so. They repaved the street and one lane was closed at a time. That’s what Telegraph will look like if BRT becomes a reality. And the traffic in Elmwood, Willard, Halcyon and LeConte today is a preview of what is to come. 

Peter Shelton 

 

• 

TO THE ARCHIVES! 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Your Sept. 25 story on Berkeley Thai Temple referred to it as “one of Berkeley’s oldest religious institutions.” Correction: Berkeley Thai Temple is only 32 years old and has only spent seven years at its current address. Previously, it had spent 25 years at a different location in Berkeley. My source? An article by Matt Lorenz, “Thai community dedicates temple,” in the June 26, 2001 edition of the Daily Planet. 

Check the facts, they may just be in the archives! 

John Parman 

 

• 

SEEKING ADDITIONAL VOICES 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

I would like to express my disappointment, in relations to Riya Bhattacharjee “Anti-Israel Graffiti” story. 

While I applaud the story’s effort to raise awareness about what I find to be an unacceptable choice of images questioning the BlueStar PR advertisement, I was disappointed to find a lack of alternative viewpoints. 

Aside from an unrelated reference to a talk by Kifah Shah, no voices were heard from organizations representing the Palestinian viewpoint. No copy was dedicated to raising awareness of those issues, to presenting the views of those who have concerns regarding BlueStar funding sources, and of the actions of its allies. 

No, I am not pushing for Ms. Bhattacharjee to secure a defense for the scrawling of swastikas. What I am asking for is a story that provides additional context, viewpoints, and explanation behind the language found on the BlueStar PR advertisement with the hope of creating an open, honest dialogue. 

J. Smith 

 

• 

BLIND TO ISRAEL 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

This is in response to the Sept. 25 article about the anti-Israel graffiti: First of all, the article claimed that the ad that was vandalized promoted peaceful coexistence. But in fact, the ad tries to portray the state of Israel in a positive light as a place where equality and integration prevail. 

When China tried to portray itself in a positive light by hosting the Olympics, we thought it only natural for some people to counter the propaganda by protesting the Chinese occupation of Tibet. But Israel is our big Sacred Cow—any criticism, no matter how marginal, is heresy, and warrants a front-page article. 

Wake up, folks. Blind support for this sacred cow does a lot of harm—backing a brutal occupation, spending tax dollars to maintain the military machine that the occupation requires, turning a blind eye to the Israeli nuclear arsenal, stifling dissent in this country. 

Helen Finkelstein 

• 

UC CONCERNED ABOUT SAFETY? 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

UC spokesperson Dan Mogulof often stated that the Berkeley campus’ most important concern has been safety. Dan Mogulof must have been speaking only about the trees in the Memorial Stadium grove, not the forest. The Berkeley campus has neglected fire prevention in the forest of conifers and oaks in the ecological area above the oak grove in this most dangerous fire-prone year. 

Year after year UC has done fire prevention in the forest above the stadium. This work includes clearing dry flammable brush. In the mid 1980s UCB performed a control burn. Because of complaints about a control burn starting a fire, UC then began to use goats and individuals cutting grass. But not this year. 

Several residents of the area telephoned UC. One personally visited UCB offices. But no fire prevention actions have been accomplished. There is abundant dead grass growing underneath water-starved trees and immediately next to residential areas. 

UCB says it is concerned about safety? How about some rudimentary fire prevention in this year when so many acres in California have been destroyed by fire? Or does UCB for some unknown reason think that this area is not vulnerable to fire as then Vice Chancellor Dan Boggan told me prior to the firestorm of Oct. 20, 2001?  

Ann Reid Slaby 

 

• 

FREE LIBRARIES 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Ted Vincent, in his letter to the Editor was being somewhat tongue in cheek with his plea to “Scotty” to beam me back to the 14th century, but mainly he ignores my premise about the merits of free public libraries and he has no valid rebuttal to the point I made in my previous opinion piece on the subject of free libraries. Actually, I am somewhat disappointed that there was not a valid rebuttal (at least not published in the print version of the Daily Planet)  

Most of us agree that modern libraries, on their own, have added all sorts of cultural— and not so cultural—enhancements to their original scope of activity. That’s a natural phenomenon in many organizations; every business and institution is constantly seeking growth. That was exactly one of my points. Libraries have expanded their mission way beyond the original intents of offering free printed media in the interest of public literacy. Keeping teaching libraries apart from this discussion, free public libraries presently serve more as a cultural enhancement and an entertainment or a recreational venue. If Mr. Vincent wants to hold, fondle, or smell books—OK! Just don’t expect taxpayers to foot the entire bill for such a peculiar fetish. Lord knows, there are enough tax dollars being spent on libraries already, just look at your tax bill. 

Like it or not, the Internet has shifted the paradigm. 21st century American society is literate and most people agree we get more information that we can handle or want. Those who desire such life enhancements as public libraries offer, should be prepared to contribute at least to some of those costs. 

Mr. Vincent says that “Klatt is anti-public services in general.” I will not dispute the usefulness or necessity most of those public services and entertainment or business activities, whose decline he cites in his list of causes for the collapse of Rome. The cause and effect argument could be debated by Latin scholars ad infinitum. However, I will dispute that rate payers should exclusively pay for “harbors, halls, theaters, libraries” etc., as Mr. Vincent is advocating. Those should be paid for, at least in a substantial part, by user fees. Does he think that he can get a free berth at the Berkeley harbor? Or a free latte? I don’t think so, nor should he. 

A one-year unlimited use, library card for $35? Sounds like a bargain to me, given all the marvelous things that our public libraries have to offer.  

Enough is enough! Vote no on bond measure FF! 

Peter Klatt 

 

• 

OAKLAND’S MEASURE N 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

The terms of Oakland Measure N calls for the proceeds from the parcel tax to be allowed “in the following proportion: teacher compensation at district-run schools: 85 percent; charter school programs: 15 percent.” 

However, most voters reading the Alameda County Voter Registrar short statement of Measure N in their voter pamphlet will not find any mention of 15 percent of the tax proceeds allowed to charter school programs. 

Alameda County Registrar statement: “Measure N: To attract and retain highly qualified and credentialed teachers for Oakland’s District-run public schools, and to support successful educational programs at Oakland’s public charter schools, shall Oakland Unified School District levy $10 per parcel per month ($120 per year) for 10 years with an exemption for low-income residents, mandatory annual audits, an independent citizens’ oversight committee, and all money spent to benefit Oakland Schools and all Oakland students? (Two-thirds vote required for passage).” 

I believe Measure N was written to mislead voters into thinking that this tax is entirely for teachers’ salaries. Furthermore, the short version of Measure N sent to the county registrar of voters was written to hide the fact that 15 percent (approximately $1.8 million yearly) is a tax to support charter schools. 

Oakland taxpayers don’t be fooled; vote No on Measure N and its hidden charter school tax. 

Jim Mordecai 

 

• 

BRT SUPPORTERS DON’T GET IT 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Rob Wrenn makes a number of obviously true statements in his Sept. 25 commentary (“Why BRT Will Work”). Transit riders generate less greenhouse gases than automobile drivers. Check. Bicycle riders and pedestrians generate even less. Check. “Transit-dependent population should not be treated like second-class citizens.” Check. 

But in his zeal to build a case for Bus Rapid Transit, Mr. Wrenn slips in a “fact” which is not a fact at all: “Where dedicated lanes for transit vehicles are put into effect, transit ridership rises and generation of global-climate-change-inducing greenhouse gases falls.” This has undoubtedly happened in some places. But this is exactly the problem with the BRT plan for the East Bay that I (and others) have been trying to point out for several months. AC Transit’s BRT proposals were extensively studied by transportation engineers, transportation planners and environmental planners in a draft environmental impact report. They came to the conclusion that none of the BRT proposals would generate a significant number of additional bus riders. Because BRT does not generate additional bus riders it won’t have an effect on greenhouse gases. This, in a nutshell, is the tragedy of this BRT proposal. It will soak up $250 million in precious transit funds and, according to the experts, accomplish nothing. 

Mr. Wrenn and other BRT supporters believe with all their hearts that somehow BRT will generate more transit use. Based solely on this belief they would have us spend $250 million on this project. On the other hand, a team of professionals in the field studied this BRT proposal for several months and came to a very different conclusion—that the number of increased riders would be very small. We might as well throw that $250 million down a hole. Who’s a person to believe? 

Finally, Mr. Wrenn you are absolutely wrong in your sweeping generalizations about BRT opponents. Not all of us espouse the “cars-come-first mentality” as you claim. It’s just that we aren’t blinded by the word “bus” in the title of this proposal. Some of us have taken an objective look at the proposal and have decided there are better ways to spend these transit dollars. 

Jim Bullock 

 

• 

MEASURE KK AND THE DISABLED 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Let’s look at what new burdens Bus Rapid Transit’s dedicated lanes will really place on the disabled and mobility impaired AC Transit riders.  

Here’s what April Mitchell didn’t bring up in her letter last week touting level boarding of BRT buses: If BRT does away with local bus service, then almost every person, including the disabled and mobility impaired, will have to walk or wheel themselves a good deal further to get to the BRT stations. On average, BRT stations located in the middle of the street will be three to four times farther apart than current local bus stops. That’s a whole lot of extra steps riders will need to take. 

I think we should be asking the mother who’s pushing her stroller and carrying packages or groceries, the disabled person in the wheelchair and the older person walking with a cane or walker, “How many extra blocks are you willing to walk in order to get level boarding?” I expect their answer is “I don’t want to walk farther.” 

There is another aspect of putting the stations in the middle of the street that will cause problems for the disabled and mobility impaired: Each time they get on or off the bus, they must cross a very busy lane of auto traffic at a location with no traffic signal in order to get to the safety of the curb. This is putting people in harm’s way so AC Transit can reduce the boarding time at each stop. If the boarding remains at the curb, as it would if Rapid Bus Plus were implemented, then it is possible to continue running local service that will stop at all the current curbside stops. It will also mean that people don’t necessarily need to cross busy traffic lanes to reach the curbside bus stop. April is simply wrong when she says that level boarding is impossible at curbside. What we need is ingenuity and design expertise to make it work at a price that we can afford. 

Vincent Casalaina 

 

• 

DISTRICT 4 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Am I the only voter in District 4 who finds it rather shameless that both Jess Arreguin and L A Wood are falling over themselves mentioning Dona Spring as often as possible in there respective campaigns? 

I’d prefer to be represented by someone who can present their own positions and think for themselves. I don’t want a councilmember who, before deciding an issue, has to stop and think “now what would Dona do?” 

Frank Greenspan 

 

• 

MORE MISINFORMATION FROM FRIENDS OF BRT 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

I found Marcy Greenhut’s Sept. 25 letter most interesting. She implies that I claimed that Berkeley is the only city with any portion of BART underground, and states that parts of the Oakland and San Francisco tracks are also underground. 

What I actually said was “That’s why Berkeley alone has BART underground, while the rest of the East Bay has noisy, unsightly BART rails screeching through town.” I regret that I did not specify that Berkeley’s BART is “entirely” underground. (Note: San Francisco is not in the East Bay). 

Oakland’s BART configuration is exactly the same configuration that Berkeley was threatened with in 1964—massive aerial rails through town, except in the central portion. Berkeleyans vigorously rejected this plan, and voted to underground the entire route in 1966. 

Ms. Greenhut continues, “In fact, Friends of BRT membership stands at over 120 individuals, in addition to the entire Sierra Club. . . .” The “entire” Sierra Club? Perhaps Ms. Greenhut should check her “facts.” 

Gale Garcia 

 

• 

CRITICIZING ISRAEL 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Israel is a religious and political nation. When someone is attacking Israel’s policy, they are having a political discussion, not engaging in hate speech. When someone is against England they are not thought to hate all Anglicans. Yet if someone speaks in any way against the government of Israel they are instantly labeled “anti-Semitic.” This is a disgusting practice used to discredit any part of an argument that isn’t liked. How can we have open and honest discussions when people are not allowed to question the Israeli government? 

While I in no way defend the vandalization of property, the graffiti was not hate speech. The first defacement mentioned illegal occupation. This is political. The second immaturely used swastikas as a way to make a statement. If that statement was against the Jewish people why would you add the star of David? Isn’t that redundant? I think the obvious conclusion is this was a poor attempt to compare the Israeli political policies to nazi political policies. While it was an idiotic way to get a point across, let’s call a spade a spade. You can disagree with the statements but don’t make a hate issue out of a political one.  

You can disagree with Israeli politics without hating Jews. I myself am a non-practicing Jew and my sister is Hasidic. I love Jews and I have issues with how Israel is handling the Nation of Palestine. The two are not mutually exclusive.  

Caitlin Scott 

 

• 

LENIN ON THE BAILOUT 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Perhaps it’s time to revisit Marx and Lenin, who said, “Capitalists can buy themselves out of any crisis, so long as they make the workers pay.” 

Tom Miller 

Oakland 

 

• 

CAN’T BELIEVE MY EYES 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Last week’s Daily Planet headline proclaimed that “Racism Motivated Tree-Sit.” I couldn’t believe my eyes. What has Chancellor Birgeneau been smoking? Did he get his mushrooms from the Faculty Club? Cal needs to send this guy to Alaska; he and Sarah can go on a “virtual reality” trip together. What a schmuck! Someone tell the dude it was all about ‘The trees, the oaks.” Duh. 

Gene Herman 

Berkeley 

 

• 

RACE-BAITING 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Race-baiting is one of Berkeley’s favorite pastimes. Why would anyone be upset when UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau decides to join in the frivolities? After all, the Planet gives J. Douglas Allen-Taylor a page to pursue that activity in every edition. 

Mark Johnson 

 

• 

BIRGENAU SHOULD RESIGN 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Chancellor Birgenau should resign. According to the Daily Planet, in reference to the trees-stadium-athletic facility fiasco, the chancellor wrote this absurd paragraph, to large donors no less: 

“I am surprised that you advocate for criminal trespassers who use their own urine and feces to harass our staff while, at the same time, ignoring the racism against our underrepresented minority athletes that underlies much of the opposition to our proposed student athlete high performance center.” 

How did the chancellor come up with such stuff? Is he mad? Is there some Iago-like person on his staff who writes his letters, which go out before he reads them? Is he trying to foment a race war? The University of California is an educational institution and is supposedly educating tens of thousands of students. There is a whole community out there—the Bay Area—hoping that a few crumbs might fall off the “educational table.” Good luck to them. What has anyone learned from this last trees-athletic center-stadium debacle? To start from the back end, they have learned the art of racial slur (the chancellor’s remarks), how to destroy nature with a chain saw, that risking human life is of no importance (I viewed those humans high in that redwood as potential corpses, perhaps inadvertently taking one or two Berkeley fireman along with them and justifiable law suits against the City of Berkeley following in the wake. Just what were our fireman doing up in your trees anyway?).  

To continue with the lessons, there has been instruction in building fool-proof structures. (The Tower of Babel is the first one comes to mind and the torture and death mechanism in Kafka’s In The Penal Colony, the last.) On the subject of torture UC offers courses. Is starving people out of trees and rationing their water torture or not? And you have your own Professor of Law to discuss the fine points. Then there have been lessons in how to get away with police brutality and how to scape-goat average folk, some down and out, others not at all, all unusually orderly and clean within their means, and polite beyond the ordinary (I am talking about the tree-sitters’ support group who occupied the center-strip for a period and finally the opposite side of the street. Incidentally, I have heard that several years ago, as would be expected, UC students manned these protesting posts but were successfully intimidated away by threats from The university of academic or disciplinary action.).  

Shall I continue? In no particular order, instruction is offered in how to intimidate and manipulate others, how to use the press for propagandistic purposes, how to get around the state law, how to lie, cheat, and play unfair, how to control a City government and the County and State court system.  

Of course the big lesson is Might Makes Right and Money Trumps All and now you get your degree from the University of California. 

Chancellor, resign. 

Bennett Markel 

 

• 

FREE LIBRARIES 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

The word “free” in the titles of many American libraries (e.g. Free Library of Philadelphia, Free Library of Springfield Township,etc.) was and is not a mere happenstance. These libraries were founded not as “subscription” libraries (like $35 a year, as one Daily Planet letter-writer suggests) but for the public. Several years ago, UC Berkeley granted senior citizens circulating privileges. No longer. We are more than ever dependent on our free public library. Not surprising that Gov. Palin has a dubious public library relationship. Banned Books Week, “Celebrating the Freedom to Read,” was Sept. 27-Oct. 4. For a comprehensive article on the subject of public libraries, I suggest Wikipedia. While there, see also the articles titled “American Library Association,” “Carnegie Library,” and “intellectual freedom.” 

Helen Rippier Wheeler 

 

• 

STOLEN FLAG 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

On Sunday, Sept. 28 someone took the American flag right off my porch. It was mounted on the right side of the door, flat against the wall facing the street. The stars were in the upper right corner. The porch shielded it from the weather, and the light was always on it at night. The flag was displayed correctly. This is not the first time someone has violated this very flag. A few months ago, someone (certainly a male) urinated on it. I washed it, and returned it to its proper place.  

We live in a country with special and powerful rights. I may not agree with your politics, but I will drive you to the polls. I may not know your God, but I will march for your right to worship. I may not like your flag, but I would never violate your right of free expression. As I spoke to the police, I hung another American flag. This was not an action of political expression, but a crime against freedom. As a free people, we must not emulate the very people or philosophy we so abhor. If so, we will become a people of fear and hate, not people of hope and love.  

Mike Vaughn 

 

• 

CELL ANTENNA BATTLE NOT OVER YET 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled in favor of cities having greater local control over the siting of cell antennas. This was a reversal of the court’s earlier position giving the telecoms significant leeway in siting antennas. This ruling should affect the city’s deliberations on its new cell antenna ordinance. These deliberations are set to begin again in the next month or two.  

Berkeley Neighborhood Antenna-Free Union (BNAFU) is suing the City of Berkeley, Verizon, and developer Patrick Kennedy over Verizon’s application to place mega-antennas on UC Storage. We hope to reverse the city’s complete cave in to Verizon last November. At that time, the city, under pressure from a Verizon lawsuit, reversed its own zoning board which had twice voted against the Verizon application. 

To raise funds for our legal battle, we are hosting a complete Indian dinner and Spoken Word benefit with Gary Lapow, Charles Ekabhumi, and the Berkeley Poetry Slam Team. This event takes place Saturday, Oct. 18 at Sconehenge Cafe, 2787 Shattuck Ave. in Berkeley. Go to our new website, antennafree.com, for more details, including ticket information. 

Meanwhile, last week, five mega cell antennas, at 1,300 watts each, were installed on the northern and eastern sides of UC Storage. We assume these and six others, yet to be installed, will become operational shortly. We know that these antennas, facing our home on the eastern side of UC Storage, are meant primarily to improve service in the Berkeley Hills since cell phone service in our part of town is already excellent.  

We have 14 separate antenna locations in South Berkeley while the Berkeley Hills have none. It is wrong-headed and unethical for the City of Berkeley to continue going along with this form of inequity, particularly in light of the recent Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision which supports increased local control. 

In addition to the antennas, about eight two inch diameter black cables are running up the east side of the six story building facing the neighborhood. We have never seen any documents submitted to the city that gave Verizon permission to run these cables up the side of the building. Could the cables represent a plan modification that never went before ZAB or the Council? 

We neighbors have been fighting the Verizon UC Storage application for over three years. We believe there is ample evidence to support the Precautionary Principle in regard to the dangers of 24-7 radio frequency radiation. This battle is not over.  

Michael Barglow 

 

• 

A RESPONSE TO A RESPONSE 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

In his Oct. 2 letter [see Page Twenty-Six] to the Planet responding to my Sept. 25 commentary, Jim Bullock states falsely that the environmental impact report (EIR) for AC’s Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) service says that BRT won’t generate a significant number of new riders. 

On the contrary, the EIR states that BRT alternatives would “increase corridor ridership 56 percent to 76 percent” (page S-13 in the EIR summary). No transportation planner would consider a ridership increase of 56 percent to 76 percent to be “very small” as Mr. Bullock characterizes it. This ridership increase is also much greater than that generated by the shift to Rapid Bus. 

Further, the EIR estimates the number of new transit trips, those by people who aren’t currently using transit. The best performing BRT alternatives would yield 8,020 and 9,320 new transit trips per weekday. This is a very big increase for a single bus route. And each person who shifts from driving to transit reduces the generation of greenhouse gases. 

Like many other BRT opponents, Mr. Bullock is putting out misinformation about BRT, stating things that are simply not true. Some BRT opponents choose not to believe what the EIR says because it doesn’t provide support for their preconceived ideas about the impacts of BRT. Mr. Bullock prefers to misrepresent what the EIR says. 

Rob Wrenn 

• 

DEATH PENALTY 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

It is extremely disappointing that Gov. Schwarzenegger has again vetoed two bills—AB 2937 and SB 1589—that would have helped prevent and remedy wrongful convictions. 

The death penalty is a failed policy for public safety. It does not deter crime and it does not make us safer. 

There is no humane way to kill a prisoner, and since the United States is one of the few remaining democracies that still murder prisoners, including minors, this state should do no less than should join with other civilized nations and immediately abolish the death penalty. 

James Vann 

Oakland 

 

• 

DECONSTRUCTING JOHN 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

I don’t mean to besmirch the wartime courage and sacrifice of presidential candidate John McCain, but at the same time I do. His 

hectoring accusations that Sen. Obama is “naïve” and that it is a “dangerous world” are not observations or judgments, but a symptom. 

Sen. McCain spent five horrendous years in captivity. Maltreated and tortured with no real hope of rescue, he finally succumbed and confessed to war crimes, and the confession was recorded and broadcast throughout the POW compound. He was also given better treatment than his fellow soldiers because of his father, four-star Admiral John Sidney McCain Jr. At one point, this prize prisoner was offered unexpected repatriation because of the propaganda benefits Hanoi would reap for their generosity. 

It is clear to me as a Vietnam vet that McCain’s subsequent worldview was shaped by the harrowing experience of captivity. When he emerged, both traumatized and relieved, he found himself received as a hero, but one whose heroism was privately colored by shame and guilt as well as pride. 

I served with many brave soldiers in Vietnam, some whose bravery was a spontaneous response to the moment’s plight, and some whose bravery was ingrained in their gut; brave was what they were (and are). Their deeds of bravery were performed and laid aside; they were not the stuff of compulsive retelling and they were not continually revisited as proof of some higher spirit. 

But what of the hero who falters? Yes, this can happen. There are moments of weakness, moments of doubt, even among the brave. But the brave man who falters has no recourse but to be ever braver, to be constantly vigilant and on guard, to be assured that the next time harm comes his way it will be met with unwavering courage. Thus the hero who falters comes to view the world as an omnipresent threat, a challenge and a danger, a pending match for his mettle.  

This then became the lens through which John McCain views the world, first and foremost as a hostile place, colored by menace, predation, and adversity. 

It is not Obama who is naïve. Rather it is Sen. McCain who is bound by the stunted myopia of his long-held trauma. 

This is not an aspect of character that makes him fit for the presidency, a besieged personality that by its own nature holds diplomacy as suspect and leadership as a form of swagger. 

With McCain as president, the world will not be a safer place. 

Steve Seid 

Richmond 

 

• 

LEFT-WING WITCH-HUNT 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Although I’m not a Republican, I’m appalled by the virtual witch-hunt of misogyny, lies, and ridiculous rumors by many on the Left toward Gov. Sarah Palin. Although we’re all enraged by the horrors of the last eight years, it’s still not acceptable to target and bully. If we’re now behaving like our adversaries, regardless of the outcome in November, they’ve won. 

Stacy Taylor 

 

• 

PALIN’S EXECUTIVE EXPERIENCE 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

On Sept. 10, on Fox News, President Bush lauded Sarah Palin’s executive experience and said “That’s what it takes to be a capable person in Washington, D.C., in the executive branch.” Palin too, during her speech at the Republican Convention, touted her executive experience as mayor and governor as a reason why she was a superior candidate than either Barack Obama or Joe Biden, who only have legislative experience. She failed to mention that John McCain, her running mate, has only legislative experience since entering politics in 1982. Just what is this “executive experience?” 

Palin served two terms on the Wasilla, Alaska city council from 1992 to 1996 and then was elected mayor in 1996. She served six years as mayor. Wasilla has a population of about 5,400 residents, which makes it the fourth-largest city in Alaska. To ward off a recall campaign for abrupt firings of city employees, she was forced to hire a city administrator to actually run the city government.  

Palin ran as a fiscal conservative. When she was sworn in as mayor, Wasilla had no debt. When she left six years later, the city had a deficit of $22 million. Palin’s performance is much like President Bush’s, only on a smaller scale. Under President Bill Clinton, the United States from 1998 to 2001 had surpluses of $692 to $236.2 billion. In eight years, Bush converted this surplus into a deficit of almost $9.7 trillion. With performances like this, both Bush and Palin should be expelled from the fiscal conservatives’ club. 

In November 2006, Palin was elected governor of Alaska beating an unpopular incumbent. With a population of about 633,478, Alaska ranks 47th among the 50 states in population. By comparison, San Francisco’s population is about 764,976. She has been governor for about 20 months. She is quite popular in Alaska mostly because she used unprecedented oil wealth to give a $1,200 rebate to every resident. Senator McCain praises her as a tax cutter, despite the fact that Alaska has no state income or sales tax. Palin is a good friend of the oil companies; she has strongly promoted oil and natural gas resource development in Alaska, including in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. By the way, our current vice president is also a very good friend of the oil companies. 

Palin’s executive experience and background pales alongside of Obama’s and Biden’s. It is simply a question of substance over form. 

Ralph E. Stone 

San Francisco 

 

• 

EXTREMIST 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin is as far right as you can get. Palin opposes evolution, sex education, abortion, gun control; does this sound mainstream to you? She opposes universal health care, global warming predictions, abolition of capital punishment and is for abolishing the separation between church and state. 

This is a religious kook right out of the Middle Ages who Republicans have selected for the second spot on their national ticket. Better wake up America—Sarah Palin makes George Bush look like a choir boy. 

Ron Lowe 

Nevada City 


McCain and the Cost of Free Market Profligacy

By Paul Rockwell
Thursday October 02, 2008 - 09:32:00 AM

From the beginning of his political career as a Barry Goldwater Republican, John McCain denigrated the wise teaching of Franklin Delano Roosevelt: that unregulated free markets are inherently rapacious and unstable. For 27 years, through debt-producing Reaganomics—especially deregulation—McCain promoted corporate permissiveness, a culture that included risky speculation, debt-financed mergers, leveraged buy-outs, quick profit-taking, and the inevitable cry from Wall Street for public bailouts when the casino goes broke. 

The unfettered free market—the economic Frankenstein that stalks our land today—was conceived in the test tube of Reaganomics in the early 1980s. McCain-backed deregulation helped to destroy one of the greatest economic achievements in American history, the savings and loan system established during the New Deal. For over 50 years American thrifts were the envy of the world. They occupied a hallowed place in the U.S. economy, immortalized by Jimmy Stewart in It’s a Wonderful Life. The New Deal financial system made home ownership affordable for millions and millions of working-class Americans, families of modest means. Protected by strict financial regulations and federal scrutiny, small, locally insured banks spawned an emerging middle class through 30-year fixed-rate mortgages. These thrifts, which lasted until the Reagan ’80s, became the engine of homebuilding throughout America. 

When savings and loans concentrated on home loans, they were the bedrock of stability. Between 1945 and 1981 there were no more than 262 bank failures, an average of 11 per year. 

Then something went wrong. Reaganomics took over Washington. On Oct. 15, 1982, President Reagan stepped through the French doors of the Oval Office, sat down, and signed the now-infamous Garn-St.Germain Act, which deregulated the savings and loan industry. The safety barriers between speculators and thrifts were taken down. In order to “get the government off the backs of business,” Reagan laid off hundreds of regulators, and soon the wolves of high finance mingled freely with the sheep of mainstream America. McCain and the Republicans (and far too many Democrats) cheered the liberated market. The party began. But within less than two years America’s deregulated thrifts began to crash. Between 1983 and 1987, as a direct result of deregulation, there were 481 bank failures. Hundreds more followed, as American thrifts were sucked down into the vortex of greed and speculation. Deregulation essentially gave banks and speculators a license to gamble with other people’s savings. There were more savings and loan bankruptcies under Reagan than at any time since the Depression. Nearly 1,600 U.S. banks were in trouble when Bush stepped into Reagan’s shoes. When the casino crashed, the financiers forced the public to cover their loses, and McCain played both sides. He allowed unregulated corporations to privatize their profits in the good years, only to socialize their costs when times were hard. 

 

McCain’s direct involvment in the S&L debacle 

John McCain was deeply involved—personally involved—in the savings and loan catastrophe. The “Keating Five” scandal is well-documented in a host of books. McCain’s friend and benefactor, Charles Keating, owned a failing thrift, Lincoln Savings and Loan. At a time when Lincoln—like hundreds of other deregulated thrifts—was drowning in risk and fraud, McCain (along with four other senators) pressured federal regulators to overlook Keating’s violations of regulatory guidelines. 

Upset by the sheer sleaziness of the Keating Five meeting, Edwin Gray, Chairman of the Federal Home Loan Bank Board, wrote an angry letter to John McCain. “I have never been asked until this meeting with you and your colleagues—by any United States senator—to withdraw a regulation for any reason, particularly on behalf of a friend, and especially in the privacy of a senatorial office.” The fall of Lincoln in 1989 cost taxpayers $2.5 billion, part of the estimated $300 billion bailout for the entire S&L industry in the early ’90s. 

 

Gramm’s deregulation of energy 

McCain continued to roll back government involvement in the economic life of the nation throughout the ’90s. In 1998 the financial services industry successfully pressured Congress to repeal the Glass-Steagall Act, a New Deal statute that reduced the risk of bank failures by separating commercial banking, investment bonds, and insurance. 

Phil Gramm, a former co-chair of McCain’s presidential campaign, played a crucial role in the 1998 deregulation binge. Gramm was Enron’s legislative ally. He received $34,000 in contributions from Enron. (His wife later served on Enron’s Board of Directors.) Gramm inserted a pro-Enron provision into the Financial Services Act, exempting energy trading from regulation. The ink was hardly dry when Gramm’s bill, backed by Senator McCain, spawned economic disaster in California. Free of regulation, Enron deliberately created an energy shortage, caused statewide blackouts, then jacked up prices. 

The Gramm story is not a question of guilt by association. Gramm and McCain acted as a team, and they share the same deregulation agenda, in Gramm’s own words, “to protect financial institutions from over-regulation.” 

Deregulation of the financial industry is a major cause of the Wall Street crash. McCain’s deregulated chickens are coming home to roost. On us. 

Paul Rockwell is an Oakland writer.


South Berkeley Neighbors Demand Their Day in Court

By Laurie Baumgarten
Thursday October 02, 2008 - 09:33:00 AM

By the time this paper goes to press, the Verizon and Sprint cell phone antennas on the UC Storage Building in South Berkeley may well be operating. Neighbors who have been fighting these unnecessary and potentially dangerous antennas for three years watch as the workmen put up wires, pipes, and antennas. And all this goes on in front of our eyes while our legal case against the City of Berkeley, Patrick Kennedy and Verizon is pending. We demand that all work on the UC Storage building immediately halt until the legality of this installation is resolved. We expect our mayor and our councilmembers to demand that Patrick Kennedy not proceed with this installation until the neighborhood has had its day in court! 

Is our legal case just some desperate last attempt to stall the installation? No. We have legitimate concerns about the lack of democracy and fair play here in our fair city, and we have legitimate concerns about our local government not following the rule of law. We believe there has been a wrongdoing and our entire three-year struggle, its defeat or its victory, depends on this particular wrongdoing: Not the crime of the century, but plenty enough to give us the legal right to a re-hearing of this issue before the City Council. 

Just recently, this case won a court ruling against the City of Berkeley. We won the right to depose (take testimony from) Councilmember Linda Maio. After three years of attending meetings of the Zoning Adjustments Board and the City Council, collecting petitions, organizing picket lines and vigils, presenting evidence to back up our claims, writing letters and articles and making endless phone calls, the City of Berkeley tried to stop us from questioning Linda Maio, the very politician who led the arguments and whose vote was decisive in overturning the Zoning Board’s decision in favor of the neighborhood. By the way, Jesse Arreguin fought hard on the ZAB to protect the neighborhood so let’s get him elected to Dona Spring’s seat. 

The city has tried to block us from getting information before. Neighborhood activists were denied access to certain memos and documents of the Planning Department staff over a year ago. City Manager Phil Kamlarz claimed that since the people who wrote these memos did not know that the memos were to be publicly scrutinized, they were exempt from our claim under the California Public Records Act. I wonder how many staff members really believe that they can do things in secret legally with no oversight by the public? 

And is there something to hide about the city’s business transactions? Would this city have promoted this idiotic project of putting an antenna farm facing right into a neighborhood knowing there is no scientific consensus about the safety of RF radiation if this building were not owned by developer Patrick Kennedy who will benefit from this project to the tune of $20,000 or more a month? Our councilmembers, with proclamations of deep sympathy for our plight, claimed that the federal government gave them no power to decide where antennas should be sited and that they could not waste tax money trying to fight Verizon in court. However, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals just ruled that local municipalities do indeed have power over placement of antennas. Thus, our city officials and representatives should welcome the opportunity to revisit this issue. Unless of course some councilmembers are more indebted to Patrick Kennedy than to Berkeley citizens and their rhetoric of sympathy was nothing more than crocodile tears. We aim to find out. And while we assert our right to transparent and democratic decision making in this city, no landlord, out of greed for himself, should be able to ignore our legal due process. The infuriating irony is that the neighborhood is paying for both lawyers: the city attorney through our tax-dollars and Steve Volker, our lawyer, through neighborhood donations and fundraisers. 

It is easy to think that these local political struggles and these local politicians are meaningless and petty. But they do reflect in microscopic ways the larger political climate and the limits of our democracy. In our own backyard, day in and day out, politicians who are not transparent with their motives and dealings sow the seeds of cynicism and demoralization among the electorate. By reclaiming some of our power at the local level, we believe we can renew ourselves as citizens who act and shape the future. Please help us. Call your councilmember. Tell him or her that the community’s lawsuit against the City of Berkeley, Verizon and Kennedy should be resolved before more antennas are operational in South Berkeley. And come to our Spoken Word and Music benefit to pay for legal expenses on Oct. 18 at Sconhenge Café (Shattuck and Ward) at 7 p.m. Enjoy an evening of Indian food and great performances –all for a $20 donation. Hope to see you there. 

Laurie Baumgarten is a South Berkeley resident. 

 

 


Why You Should Care About the Mayoral Election

By Sam Herbert
Thursday October 02, 2008 - 09:34:00 AM

Many Berkeley residents consider national and international politics of high importance. Many of those same individuals are less engaged when it comes to local Berkeley politics and contests. There are several reasons why local politics fail to engage the same spirited, informed debate and interest. Regardless of the reasons for apathy, I believe that local issues are important to all Berkeley residents, and deserve thoughtful consideration. 

Berkeley has a very fluid population, new residents moving in and out with each passing year. The composition of city residents can be very different from the time one Berkeley mayor is elected to the next. The student population changes annually, and affects the industries and individuals who serve the university as well. It is understandable that many UC Berkeley students and newly graduated professionals are disengaged from local issues. Academic and career demands leave little time for reflection about issues not readily connected with their lives. 

Still others fail to involve themselves in city-related issues out of frustration. The perception that their input will not be honored, and that they will not be able to make a difference, leads to this attitude. I understand the reasoning, if not the excuse, for inactivity. Instead of concluding that their personal involvement cannot make a difference, I propose that they consider why they feel disenfranchised by the politics of Berkeley. 

It is the responsibility of each of us, regardless of how long we’ve been here, to let our city leaders know what is important to us. We need to make initial contact with those we identify as being in charge of our important issues. If you fail to connect with the correct agency or individual, was the person you spoke with at least helpful? Did they make a reference to the proper person, or any other attempt to help you? Do you know where to go to research what the city has done in the past on your issue(s)? Do you know where, when and with whom to register your opinions? If not, why not? If someone seeking help gets an unhelpful response, or a bureaucratic pass-off, or a string of answering machines with no clear response, it is no wonder that frustration chokes off citizen involvement. We deserve a response; we deserve a respectful hearing. They are supposed to be working for us. 

I believe that integrity and transparency in government are the two most important qualities we should look for in electing Berkeley’s next mayor. For that reason I am voting for Shirley Dean. In the 10 years I have known her, there has never been a time when she conducted herself with less than complete integrity. She walks the talk; she does what she says she will do. Shirley Dean always listens, and never cuts anyone out of consideration. Shirley Dean never engages in backroom deals or closed-door meetings. There is absolute transparency in her leadership. 

Regardless of which mayoral candidate you support, please register and vote. It matters…to you. 

Sam Herbert is a Berkeley resident. 


Graffiti and Israel

By Marc Sapir
Thursday October 02, 2008 - 09:35:00 AM

Riya Bhattachargjee’s Sept. 25 article “Anti-Israel Graffiti Found Near Campus” is poor journalism. The title is fine, but the article leads with an erroneous use of the term “anti-Semitism,” which then serves as a justification for the outrage of Birgeneau and various Zionist student organizations. The UC chancellor seems to know that the graffiti was “hurtful to…members of the Jewish community.” That’s a half truth (many will agree with him of course) because many Jews, myself included, find nothing hurtful in this act aimed at countering deceptive Zionist propaganda.  

In July, I spent 17 days inside Israel-Palestine. If you visit both sides of the green line extensively, there’s no way around the fact that Zionism has established a state that is fundamentally racist and that Israel today is a segregated and segregationist society, every bit as vicious as the Deep South before 1960. Israel intends to stay that way. Though many Israelis profess to differ, most do absolutely nothing about it. That there are some examples of incorporation of Palestinians into Israeli Jewish society and social life, such as the use of the soccer star Sowan Abbas, should not be surprising. I do not need to remind fellow Jews that the Nazi’s had their model Jews—eg the model Jewish community in Aushwitz Birkenau, symphony orchestras in most death camps and the people portrayed in the movie the Counterfeiters—who they used to advantage either as a propaganda screen to conceal what was going on or for other purposes. 

“Israel is very progressive when it comes to things like gay rights, women and the environment…,” said Pini Altman of Blue StarPR the public relations firm that is promoting Israel’s positive image. This too is interesting to me because it is true that Israel is progressive on gay rights and women’s rights (we met with an ethnically integrated LGBT group who told us it is much more dangerous to be a Palestinian Arab in Israel than it is to be gay). However, much of the blather about the environment has been used as a cover to drive Palestinians from their own lands (both within the 1948 borders and in the 1967 conquered-occupied areas) under a pretense of reforestation and reclamation. After a while the seized land is usually given over to settlement cities and Israeli farmers and business concerns, by the thousands and thousands of acres.  

Can the cutting down of 300,000 Palestinian olive trees by Israel’s army ever be justified? Can this be understood as anything other than an attack on the survival of an entire agrarian-based people? How about when much of the land in the West Bank’s Jordan valley has been reclaimed from Palestinians for the planting of 5 million date palms now owned by Israeli farmers and Israeli corporations aiming for dominance in the international date market? Or the stealing of 80 percent of the water under the occupied lands which is now used to supply Israeli cities and farms, while 2.5 million Palestinians in the West Bank are forced to pay 3-5 times higher rates for the 20 percent of the water they may buy from Israel’s water company. Mind you the Palestinians have little or no money because Israel has consciously destroyed their economy by preventing the flow of goods—mainly agricultural—and labor via a vast network of military blockades. And most Palestinians can not ever attain basic citizenship rights. Most Bedouin Arabs inside Israel’s Negev desert are simply declared to be criminals living “illegally” on state lands, their villages removed from all maps. Those villages are not allowed basic public services such as sewers, electric power and so forth, while Israel sprays toxic defoliants on lands they plant with grass for their herds, and gives away their land to Jewish Israelis.  

The six-pointed Star of David was a Jewish religious symbol. It’s on the front of every Torah. Zionism appropriated the Star of David as a political symbol to represent Israel, a Jewish state. Jews who do not believe in religious states—Jewish, Christian, Hindu or Muslim—are many, but our identity has been hijacked by people who then call us “self-hating” Jews. In truth, we represent the American mainstream, for most Americans oppose the idea of states based upon religious groups as undemocratic. When someone’s graffiti equates the Star of David with the Nazi swastika, anyone may voice their strong disagreement with that equation. They are free to disagree. But the attempt to label that equation anti-Semitic is a ruse, a lie. Look at the flag. The Star of David is today the representation of the State of Israel, a state that would like to elimininate what it calls it’s Arab “demographic problem.” When the Zionists in power in Israel (who, ironically, are not religious fundamentalists) talk about the “demographic time-bomb” (and they do so repeatedly), the argument is often heard that if they do not ethnically cleanse the Palestinians from the land reaching from the Mediterranean to the Jordan river Jews in Israel will soon be in the minority. This is an expression of racism against the Palestinian people. Today (though not 50 years ago) anyone in the United States who would argue that government must hatch schemes to prevent the U.S. population from one day becoming majority ethnic minority people (black, Latino, Asian) would be seen for the racists they are. And their schemes would be seen as plans for ethnic cleansing. The power of Zionism in the United States and the distortions by the media and political class here to prop up support for Israeli colonialism prevent many people from seeing the self-evident truth that we, Americans, through our government’s support of Israel, are a party to this catastrophe. 

I will be giving a slide show based upon my visit to the Middle East, entitled, “The Political Geography of the Jewish State—Zionism’s ‘Facts on the Ground,’” at the Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists on Tuesday, Oct. 28 at 7 p.m. 

Marc Sapir is a Berkeley resident and the former director of Retro Poll.


No on Albany’s Measure Y

By James Cleveland
Thursday October 02, 2008 - 09:37:00 AM

Albany is not broken. It doesn’t need radical change by the unprecedented seven Charter amendments on your ballot. It doesn’t need to become another Berkeley. 

Measure Y, the so-called directly elected mayor proposal is the most dangerous. It is a last-minute, poorly drafted radical measure forced onto the ballot by the Sierra Club Political Action Committee (PAC)-endorsed three-person council majority led by Mayor Bob Lieber. 

Measure Y will convert Albany into another Berkeley. However, they could not even get a majority among your fellow citizens on the Charter Review Committee (CRC) that they appointed. The CRC examined three variants of Bob’s proposal and each time voted no.  

Why? First, 84 percent of all CA cities under 25,000 residents use the exact same system that Albany has used continuously since 1927. Some smaller cities tried Bob’s approach. The CRC found they failed. They had to return to the system 84 percent of California cities use. 

Second, it is much, much more than a single issue. It creates continuous 16-year council terms. If you approve Y, Bob could be your mayor until 2020! 

Third, you are also asked to approve Measure Y in 2008 but wait until 2012 for it to become effective, not the day after the election. Why? So PAC candidate Bob Lieber can run in 2008 for a second council term and then again run in 2012 for two more terms as elected mayor. 

Fourth, Bob forced Measure Y onto the ballot with absolutely no defined runoff provision if a candidate fails to get a majority. He even publicly silenced Charter Review Committee spokesman Bart Grossman from reporting to the public the flaws in Bob’s measure. 

In my 40 years in Albany no one remembers any mayor silencing a committee spokesman on a ballot measure. I told Bob and his three-member PAC endorsed majority I helped elect that I was ashamed of Bob and he should be ashamed of himself. I told Bob he runs the danger of irreversibly dividing this city. After I spoke, every councilmember except Joanne Wile apologized for Bob’s act. 

I urge every Albany voter before voting to go either to Albany’s website (www.albanyca.org) under the Albany Rewind section and view the July 21 and Aug. 4 council meetings or go to a new website, www.robertlieber.net, that has excerpted Bob’s actions from the original Albany videos of Council meetings. 

You will be shocked. Please ask your tech savvy friends to copy these videos to DVDs so every Albany voter can see for themselves the implications of Measure Y. 

Finally, Measure Y drastically reduces your contact with elected county, regional, state, and federal representatives from 10 or more to only one voice. If Measure Y passes it could be only Bob.  

Our current system creates 10 or more voices that a mayor can use when Albany needs help. Albany and 84 percent of similar cities rotate the mayor position among five councilmembers. Each rotating mayor creates a unique network of contacts of higher elected officials during their term. No one mayor could ever create the network that 10 past mayors can. The accumulated network of past mayors is a resource a small town like Albany dares not lose. 

No continuous 16-year council terms! No to Sierra Club PAC endorsed candidates (current incumbent majority or this year’s three candidates) trying to radically change Albany! No on Measure Y!  

James D. Cleveland is an Albany resident. 


Measure KK is Pro-Transit

By Bruce Kaplan
Thursday October 02, 2008 - 09:38:00 AM

Bus Rapid Transit cheerleaders such as Robb Wren, Alan Tobey and Charles Siegel would have you believe that Measure KK and its proponents are anti-transit. They’re wrong. We put Measure KK on the ballot because we care deeply about transit, and want to see bus service improvement done right. 

We believe its possible to have good public transit in Berkeley. That’s why we, Berkeleyans for Better Transit Options, are supporting the implementation of Rapid Bus Plus. And after a series of discussions with neighborhood association representatives, AC Transit has finally agreed to study this option as part of its planning process. Most importantly, Rapid Bus Plus can be accomplished without the detriments associated with dedicated bus lanes on our city streets. 

Here’s a fact BRT supporters won’t tell you. The current BRT proposal cuts local service. Is this better transit? Not if you ask bus riders! Rather, it’s another example of why we need a formal mechanism to insure that the real needs of Berkeley residents are addressed in any transit solution that is adopted by the city. 

Measure KK proponents believe transit should be green. We believe that good transit planning should reduce green house gas emissions. Our opponents are right when they report that 81 percent of Berkeley voters want Berkeley to do everything in its power to lower our carbon footprint. 

That’s why we oppose BRT as currently proposed. AC Transit’s own draft environmental impact report makes it clear that if BRT goes ahead as planned, there will be no significant reduction in noxious gasses and no fuel savings! 

Its not enough to say “Public transit is green.” AC Transit and the City of Berkeley have a responsibility to propose a plan that actually is green. And to that end, we have submitted specific suggestions in our Rapid Bus Plus proposal (see www.berkeleydailyplanet.com/mcl/RapidBusPlus-vs.-BRT.pdf). 

Opponents say that Measure KK will cost the city money. Indeed, the city has cut corners and short-changed the transit planning, design and public input process. So, yes, it may cost more to design a system that has broad public support and actually works. But the resulting system will serve the city better, and provide more value to residents and other users. And if Rapid Bus Plus is adopted, it will actually cost less than BRT to implement. 

I know that most of the city’s political have elite come out against the measure. Berkeley politics, including some of the well-respected but misguided endorsing organizations are driven by a small group of over the top idealogues that simply care more for their agenda than what’s best for Berkeley. That’s why they’ll cut down trees to put up buildings and call it Green!  

Meanwhile, the key Berkeley neighborhood organizations have formally endorsed Measure KK: CENA, Willard, Le Conte and Northeast Berkeley, the Council of Neighborhood Associations (CNA). These organizations represent the folks that actually live here in Berkeley. They understand how detrimental the presently proposed plan would be if allowed to go forward. 

We believe that Berkeley voters know best. It’s worth noting that when the politicians wanted to run the BART trains on elevated tracks through Berkeley, the city’s voters made the heroic choice to bury the tracks and keep our city from being divided. If we’d left it up to the politicians and engineers, we’d look just like Albany and El Cerrito. 

Chances are, we’ll live with these transit decisions for decades. We have to get it right! Vote for Measure KK and let voters have the final say about how transit is implemented in our city.  

Bruce Kaplan is a co-proponent of Measure KK.


BRT Opposition Ignores Global Warming

By Roy Nakadegawa
Thursday October 02, 2008 - 09:38:00 AM

I wonder if people who write in opposition to the proposed AC Transit BRT project and in support of Measure KK, which would most likely bring the Bus Rapid Transit project to a complete halt, are concerned with or even bother to consider the future of our city and its environment. In their letters to the Daily Planet, most of them write as though their primary concern is maintaining the status quo of driving in Berkeley. 

I have lived in and around Berkeley for almost 60 years. Automobile traffic has increased over those years nearly three-fold. At the same time the city’s population has diminished by about 20,000. In the near future, traffic and parking demand are destined to increase inevitably with the construction of the fourth bore of the Caldecott Tunnel. The expanded Caldecott, in combination with all the planned development by the University and other downtown developments including the projected 2,500 residential units that will be built in coming decades to accommodate the East Bay’s growing population, will inevitably produce more traffic, congestion and greater demand for parking to Berkeley. This is likely to happen no matter what fluctuations occur in the price of gasoline and people’s use of public transportation, which is increasingly stretched due to limited resources, budget constraints and congested traffic. 

These changes are occurring against a background of increasingly serious problem of global warming. According to the most recent version of Berkeley’s Climate Action Plan, nearly half of our region’s greenhouse gas emissions are produced from transportation. Overall, the United States generates about one-sixth of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions while comprising less than a twentieth of its population. 

Berkeley, famous for being “green,” will be as guilty of contributing to the problem as anywhere else. Known worldwide as a progressive leader, Berkeley should do more to show others what a citizenry truly concerned about global warming can do to tackle its transportation problems. Instead, being extremely reluctant even to consider an alternative to our use of cars, some Berkeley citizens have put Measure KK on the ballot to defeat the most promising transportation improvement that has been proposed for decades. 

If we are concerned with our future and our leadership in addressing the problem of global warming, legislation alone will not reduce Berkeley’s greenhouse gas emissions to the level that 81 percent of Berkeleyans voted for when they passed Measure G in 2006. It will take personal lifestyle changes and a serious citywide effort to reduce automobile dependence. 

The potential exists in Berkeley to provide real and positive leadership. Many cities in Europe, Asia, Canada, and Central and South America have successfully integrated public transit and development, creating urbanized centers that are vital, lively, attractive, and commercially successful. And many major cities have formed pedestrian zones around urban centers where one can freely walk, shop, and enjoy leisure time without being concerned about the hazards of auto traffic. It is possible in places like these to experience a high quality of livability, overall mobility, and personal comfort and convenience. 

Yet Measure KK would stand in the way of that and roll back the clock to a time when the automobile was paramount. The proponents of Measure KK are looking resolutely through a rear-view mirror (most likely the rear-view mirror of their own cars). They lack any vision for a positive future. 

Many cities in other parts of the world are far ahead of Berkeley in planning for a livable and sustainable future. Consider Strasbourg, Vienna, Copenhagen, Zurich, Bern, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Ottawa, Curitiba, Kobe, and Yokohama. All have created pedestrian zones and transit-oriented, mixed-use developments that have become attractive and viable neighborhoods accessed primarily by means other than the private automobile. 

People in Berkeley are constantly fretting about the lack of adequate parking. Again, this absence of vision should be a cause of serious concern to all of us who say we care about the environment. Plentiful free parking is a concept promulgated during the automobile-oriented planning of the mid-20th century. Reliable and frequent public transit is what we’ll need in the 21st century and beyond with car and bike sharing with limited parking 

This does not mean that everyone will be “forced” to get out of their cars, as opponents of BRT in Berkeley often claim. But it does mean that if we intend to be serious about addressing climate change, we will need to think a lot more about how and when we use cars as a means of transportation. Many trips can be made by transit, some by walking, some by bicycle, and some by car. When our mindset changes to one of less reliance on the private automobile as the exclusive means of personal transportation, we can make better use of the parking. 

Unfortunately, Measure KK and its opposition to the BRT project is a distraction from what should obviously be our real goal: seriously addressing ways to develop a lifestyle that is less dependent on the private automobile for everyday transportation. Berkeley is a center of creativity and innovation, or at least it has been. If Berkeley cannot find ways to promote practical and viable transportation alternatives, what city can? 

Roy Nakadegawa is a former director of both AC Transit and BART, serving a total of 32 years. He currently serves on the Public Transportation and Land Development Committee of the Transportation Research Board, a branch of the Academy of Sciences. 


A Response to False Allegations About BRT

By Len Conly
Thursday October 02, 2008 - 10:38:00 AM

In her latest attack on Bus Rapid Transit (Sept 18), Gale Garcia suggests that AC Transit’s projections for the ridership increase that would result from BRT are inaccurate. 

She cites a Federal Transit Administration (FTA) study to make her case. She says the study was done in 2007, but actually it was published in 2003. This makes a difference because the study was done too long ago to include any full-fledged BRT projects. 

The study in question looks at ridership projections made in the 1980s and early 1990s for 19 projects, 17 of them rail projects, including BART’s extension to Colma and various light rail projects. Only two bus projects were examined; one a highway transitway in Houston, the other a busway in Pittsburgh. These projections made between 1982 and 1995 are compared to actual ridership in 2002. One major finding of the study, which Garcia fails to mention, is that forecasts improved over time. 

If ridership is below what was originally forecast does that mean that the forecast was faulty? Not necessarily. In the Pittsburgh case, the busway as actually built was substantially different from the planned busway due to construction problems. The route is 25 percent shorter than planned and serves fewer bus routes than planned. That’s part of the reason for riderhip falling short of projections. And, today, ridership is close to the level forecast for 2005 for the bus routes that were actually implemented on the busway. 

Ms. Garcia falsely states that the study found that projections overestimate time-savings. In fact the 2003 study did not look at time-savings projections at all. 

If Ms. Garcia were to look at the studies that FTA has published about specific bus projects, she would learn that BRT and busway projects have actually been quite successful. That’s why the federal government is continuing to provide funding for BRT. It works. 

Start with the Pittsburg West busway; it doesn’t include the full array of BRT features but it does provide a dedicated busway on a former railway corridor physically separated from local streets. It shows the advantages for buses of not having to travel in mixed-flow traffic. Ridership jumped 135 percent in the first two years of operation and is now, as stated earlier, close to projected levels. 34 percent of riders had previously gotten to their destination in a car; the FTA study estimated that the busway removed 4000 cars from area highways. The study found that buses were more reliable and faster, with 85 percent of surveyed bus riders reporting travel time-savings averaging 14 minutes. And there were no negative impacts on local business; instead there was economic growth near busway stations. 

FTA has also done studies of full-fledged BRT projects, such as ones in Boston and Las Vegas. In all their studies, they find reduced travel time, improved reliability and increased ridership compared to pre-BRT buses on the same routes. Surveys of bus riders find that they prefer BRT to the buses that existed before. And there has been no negative impact on local businesses. In Boston, for instance, the Silver Line BRT has been accompanied by “new construction on vacant lots, rehabilitation of historic buildings and enhancements to retail.” 

Ms. Garcia is wrong when she says that transit agencies overestimate ridership. When we look at the most recently implemented BRT projects, it’s evident that the opposite is true. Transit agencies these days, unlike in the 1980s, tend to underestimate projected ridership. 

Take the Orange Line BRT in Los Angeles for instance. A year after it began service in 2005, ridership was around 20,000 people a day, three times more than expected by L.A.’s transit officials. It achieved its 15-year ridership goal in just seven months. This summer, ridership reached 26,500. In response to its success, plans are afoot to extend BRT service. 

In Eugene, Ore., where BRT service began in 2007, ridership hit its projected 20-year level in just four months. After a year, ridership was up 70 percent compared to non-BRT bus service without dedicated lanes that previously served the same route. After 18 months ridership was about double that of the route it replaced. BRT extensions are planned. 

Two things that contribute to underestimation of ridership are the increase in gas prices and growing awareness of global climate change. It’s not surprising that more people are willing to try improved transit systems that use dedicated lanes and other features to reduce travel time and increase reliability. AC Transit did its estimates of ridership increase before the rise in gas prices. They may turn out to be conservative estimates. Even if AC’s BRT falls somewhat short of its projected ridership increase, it would still be beneficial by improving service for bus riders, and by attracting new riders, who will reduce their carbon footprints by choosing transit instead of driving. 

BRT service, with dedicated lanes, has been successfully implemented in a variety of different settings, none of them exactly similar to what we find in Berkley and Oakland. BRT must be adapted to fit each specific context. Once Measure KK is defeated, that’s what we need to get to work on. Let’s implement BRT in a way that maximizes the benefits for our city. 

Ms. Garcia ends her attack with a claim that, even though she opposes BRT, she wants better transit service. But before the campaign to kill BRT came along, Ms. Garcia was not spending her time working to improve transit. She was, as Planet readers may recall, doing her best to kill the David Brower Center, a center for nonprofit environmental groups now under construction downtown that will be the city’s first LEED platinum highly energy-efficient green building, and Oxford Plaza housing, the 96-unit affordable housing project going up next door. 

What her opposition to BRT has in common with her opposition to the Brower Center and affordable housing is that, were she successful, it would make it more difficult for the city to reach its voter-approved Measure G goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050. 

Len Conly is a Berkeley resident.


BRT Won’t Work For Me

By Russ Tilleman
Thursday October 02, 2008 - 09:39:00 AM

Rob Wrenn’s Sept. 25 commentary “Why BRT Will Work” claims that Bus Rapid Transit is being built for the disabled. Well, I’m disabled, and I don’t ride the 1R bus, whose route BRT will follow, because it doesn’t go where I need to go. It must not go where anyone else needs to go either, because when I see a 1R bus drive by, it usually has between five and 10 people on it, whereas the capacity is around 100. 

I’d like to point out to Mr. Wrenn, too, that disabled people are not some kind of a commodity to be used for political purposes. Disabled people are regular people like everyone else, and they don’t ride the 1R bus either. Unless being invisible is a disability. It’s possible that the 1R bus is filled with invisible riders, for whom AC Transit intends to steal two lanes from Telegraph. Apparently, I am invisible to AC Transit. Their BRT website claims there have been “no significant negative impacts identified on the natural or socio-economic (e.g., business and residential) environment because of the BRT Project.” BRT will have a negative impact on my residential environment, to the point where I may be forced to move. The increased noise and pollution inside my home from BRT may aggravate my health problems, which is why I am opposing BRT so strongly. It is very difficult for me to find a place to live that accommodates my disability, and I’ve been here for six years. Everything was fine until AC Transit decided to force several hundred more cars and trucks onto my street every day with BRT. 

Mr. Wrenn doesn’t refute AC Transit’s statement to the San Francisco Chronicle that BRT will increase greenhouse gases. Because it’s true. He doesn’t dispute that BRT will worsen service on the 51 bus line. Because it will. But he does point out that even building fuel-efficient cars produces greenhouse gases. Well, Rob, I have a news flash for you: Spending $400 million building BRT will produce a similar amount of greenhouse gases. Building anything uses resources, and producing those resources creates greenhouse gases. The difference between producing BRT and producing fuel-efficient cars is that fuel-efficient cars will at least reduce the day-to-day production of greenhouse gases, and BRT will increase it. 

Finally, I’d like to point out to Mr. Wrenn that government mandated abstinence programs don’t work. Trying to prevent people from driving their cars by complicating access to the roads won’t work any better than trying to prevent people from having sex by complicating access to birth control and abortion. “Just say no to cars” doesn’t work and it won’t accomplish anything in the real world of climate change. We need projects that will actually provide some benefit. Simply wasting $400 million and claiming we’ve fixed the problem isn’t good enough. But then, Mr. Wrenn doesn’t seem to care about reality. BRT is about big money and politics; it doesn’t really have anything to do with public transit or the environment. I’m just trying to live here in Berkeley, and Mr. Wrenn doesn’t seem to care about that either. 

Russ Tilleman is a Berkeley resident. 

 


The Free Library Tree

By Winston Burton
Thursday October 02, 2008 - 09:40:00 AM

Someone recently wrote a letter to the Daily Planet about free libraries not being free. And that may technically be true. But for the thousands of seniors, youth, immigrants and low income people that go to Berkeley branch libraries every day they are free. There’s no ticket price or entrance fee required to check out a book and read. In addition to books, movies and music, you can even take out tools to plant a garden or fix your home or do whatever project you need at no cost. The only charge is a fine for not bringing the items back in a timely fashion. This is meant to encourage each of us to be responsible members of the community, because often there is a long waiting list of other folks who want to share in the free resources provided by our local branch libraries.  

Someone also wrote about not liking any new taxes. Me either! I don’t like taxes or crosstown traffic, but they’re unavoidable. A lot of us don’t like paying taxes because we resent the way our dollars are spent or wasted. Ill-advised wars, bridges to nowhere, pet projects, corrupt politicians and corporate executives to list a few. I view supporting libraries differently. As a Berkeley homeowner, voting to support the branch libraries may be one of the few opportunities I have to decide where my tax dollars do go. With sports programs, music and other needed projects in our community being cut or eliminated, I’m glad to dedicate the small amount proposed by Measure FF, that for many equates to as little as buying one new book, to support libraries in making them safe, accessible and have more resources for the next 30 years!  

Berkeley branch libraries have neighbor input and community commitment. Quite often they reflect the cultures of people they serve and focus on programs that neighbors need and want. They provide a safe place to meet, learn and share. Some provide special programs and opportunities for non-English speakers, as well as tutors, after-school and homework programs for youth and teens.  

My support for branch libraries and local communities goes way back. One of my first jobs as a teenager was at a neighborhood branch library in West Philadelphia, and my mother retired after 35 years of dedicated service as an employee of the Free Library of Philadelphia. She encouraged me, my family and the rest of our neighbors to have a stake in what happened at our local branch. Philly had some of the greatest Jazz musician that ever lived, like John Coltrane, Grover Washington, and Lee Morgan, to name a few, who played at nightclubs on 52nd Street (“The Strip”), but young people had never heard them. Our neighborhood library was on The Strip too. So with my mother’s and other music lovers’ help we started a series of jazz shows at the library on Sunday afternoon when it was normally closed. We recruited live bands and musicians that encouraged the kids to make noise and play instruments and it transformed the building into a place of energy and joy. These are the kinds of activities that are possible in our local neighborhoods if we care to get involved. Our libraries are not just about books and learning, they are a part of our community. 

One Sunday after leaving the Sunday Library Jazz Show we noticed that my friend’s bike was stolen even though it was chained to a tree. The huge, newly planted 25 foot sycamore in front of the building was cut down by some thief while we were inside devoting our time and our energy to the kids. And then quite suddenly my mother sent me home to get a saw. We cut off the top seven feet of the fallen tree and took it home—it was free! After that she never bought a Christmas tree again. We put it in the living room and she added different ornaments as the seasons changed. When people saw the decorated tree they often asked, “What’s the occasion,” and she said, “No occasion, it’s the Free Library Tree. It stays up all year long!”  

Winston Burton is a co-chair for the Neighbors For Branch Libraries Campaign Committee. 

 


Columns

The Public Eye: Obama Wins First Debate

By Bob Burnett
Thursday October 02, 2008 - 09:28:00 AM

The 2008 presidential election’s initial debate was one of the best contests in recent memory. There were no memorable bon mots or gaffes, and both candidates had convincing moments. Overall, Barack Obama had the stronger performance. 

There were three elements of the debate. The first third of the 97-minute dialogue focused on the economy, specifically the pending financial recovery plan. The second two-thirds of the University of Mississippi contest focused on foreign policy. The third element was the candidates’ deportment: Would Obama look presidential and would John McCain lose his temper? 

The first element was the economy. Moderator Jim Lehrer asked McCain and Obama for their positions on the pending financial recovery plan and followed up by getting them to hypothesize how the roughly $700 billion dollar price tag would affect their presidential objectives. Obama struck a populous tone that culminated in the observation, “In order to make the tough decisions we have to know what our values are and who we’re fighting for and our priorities.” Obama indicated that he was fighting for working families: “If we are spending $300 billion on tax cuts for people who don’t need them and weren’t even asking for them, and we are leaving out health care which is crushing on people all across the country then I think we have made a bad decision.” 

In contrast, McCain didn’t address the specific needs of working Americans but instead hyped his reputation as a “maverick,” someone who would cut wasteful federal spending and “hold people accountable.” In the most memorable exchange of the first 30 minutes, McCain suggested “a spending freeze on everything but defense, veteran affairs and entitlement programs.” Obama responded, “The problem with a spending freeze is you’re using a hatchet where you need a scalpel,” and indicated he would increase funds to programs like early childhood education while defunding others, such as the extent of the military operation in Iraq. 

Immediately after the debate, CBS News conducted a poll of uncommitted voters, who thought Obama won this segment: “66 percent felt he would make the right decisions about the economy, while 42 percent felt McCain would do so.” A CNN poll of debate watchers found: “By a 62-32 margin, voters thought that Obama was ‘more in touch with the needs and problems of people like you.’” 

The second element of the presidential debate addressed national security and foreign policy: Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Russia, and “the likelihood ... that there would be another 9/11-type attack.” Both presidential candidates had their moments: McCain aggressively defended continuation of the war in Iraq: “we are winning in Iraq. And we will come home with victory and with honor.” Obama firmly stated his opposition to that war and got off one of the best lines of the night: “John, you like to pretend like the war started in 2007.” 

Viewers listening to the 30-minute discussion of the candidates’ differences on Iraq and Afghanistam understood Obama and McCain fundamentally disagree. Obama feels the focus of the war on terror should be Afghanistan and the eradication of al Qaeda. In contrast, McCain believes “Iraq is the central battleground.” Obama and McCain had similar, if less striking, differences on the issues of Iran and Russia. When Obama raised the key issue of “proliferation of loose nuclear weapons,” McCain didn’t have a rejoinder. 

According to the CBS poll, uncommitted voters felt McCain won this segment of the debate: “Forty-eight percent of these voters think Obama would make the right decisions about Iraq. Fifty-six percent think McCain would.” Nonetheless, the CNN viewer poll found that “voters thought that Obama ‘seemed to be the stronger leader’ by a 49-43 margin.” 

These contradictory can be explained by the third debate element: the candidates’ deportment. Although it was a debate, and the moderator tried to get Obama and McCain to talk to each other, the Arizona senator refused to look at Obama and maintained a chilly, abrasive manner the entire time. As a result, the CNN poll found Obama scored higher on “connectedness” while viewers noted McCain “spent more time attacking his opponent.” 

Obama’s debate objective was to look presidential and connect with viewers. Polls indicated he accomplished that. McCain’s job was to play to his experience and not lose his temper. He accomplished the former but his churlish demeanor alienated some viewers. 

According to CBS News, “Thirty-nine percent of uncommitted voters who watched the debate tonight thought Barack Obama was the winner. Twenty-four percent thought John McCain won.” Focus groups gave the win to Obama. The CNN viewer poll “had Obama winning overall by a margin of 51-38.” 

Going into the presidential debate, Obama had a slight lead in national polls and a strong lead when voters were asked who would do a better job with the economy. Based upon his strong performance at the University of Mississippi, Obama is likely to strengthen his lead in both categories and to bolster his image as a potential commander-in-chief. Of the three debate formats, only the first was supposed to favor McCain. That’s good news for Obama. 

 

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


Undercurrents: AC Transit Deteriorated While Public Turned Its Back

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Thursday October 02, 2008 - 09:30:00 AM

Every once in a while, you happen on an experience that serves to put in perspective a complicated situation. I cover AC Transit from time to time as a journalist, but this one came to me as a bus rider. 

Early afternoon on a weekday, I caught the 1R going east at the 14th and Broadway stop. The driver was rushing the passengers on, saying, more than once, that he was behind schedule, and that the next 1R was coming up immediately. And in fact, during the trip down International, the bus I was on and the bus coming afterward made virtually each stop one behind the other. 

Just past Hegenberger, the 1R that was behind ours—presumably the one that was running on schedule—pulled ahead, passing the stop at 82nd Avenue, where a number of passengers were waiting. I am assuming that the bus driver on the 1R now in front had no passengers to let out at 82nd, and presumed that the waiting passengers would be picked up by the bus I was on, which was supposed to be the lead bus, by the schedule, but was now behind. 

But that’s not what happened. 

I was getting off at 82nd, along with a couple of other passengers. The driver didn’t stop directly at the bus stop but continued to the corner of 82nd and International, several feet away, letting us out there. The passengers waiting to get on the bus began hurrying up the street to the bus, many of them shouting and waving transfers in the air, but before they could reach it, the driver shut the door and pulled away, leaving them short, standing at the empty corner looking at the taillights of the bus and wondering what had happened. The 82nd Avenue stop is directly in front of one of Allen Temple Baptist Church’s senior citizen homes, and so several of the stranded passengers were elderly. 

The incident doesn’t quite square with the recent barrage of AC Transit television ads that have been running in recent weeks, featuring smiling drivers beckoning us to stop driving and leave the hassle to the professionals, and smiling passengers in the midst of their AC Transit rides. Neither the bus driver nor the passengers at 82nd Avenue were smiling. But then advertising is not supposed to reflect reality; its purpose is to alter our perception of reality, a sort of a “Matrix” fitted over the real world. 

It would be easy to chalk the 82nd Avenue incident up to an asshole driver—some of the left-behind passengers did so, along with some other choice descriptions—but there is a deeper explanation. 

Coincidentally, about a week or so before, the subject came up at the CalOSHA/AC Transit complaint hearing at the State Building in Oakland. That complaint involves heat-mitigation issues for drivers, and so one of the items involved was how much time drivers have at the end of each run to cool off and get outside of un-airconditioned buses. 

AC Transit schedules 12 minutes “recovery time” for every hour worked, one of the testifying drivers said. Because drivers can’t stop and take 12 minutes in the middle of a run, with passengers on the bus waiting to get to their destinations, those “recovery time” minutes are scheduled for the ends of the line. 

“What happens if you don’t have time for recovery at the end of the run?” the Cal-OSHA attorney asked the driver, referring, in other words, to times when the drivers get behind schedule. 

“If you call in and tell dispatch you’re running late, sometimes they’ll take you off the run and put another driver on,” the driver responded. “Sometimes you can get a schedule readjustment, but that’s happening less and less. Most of the time you’re told to continue the run and call back when you get to the other end.” 

But talking to me over lunch during a break in the hearings, veteran AC Transit drivers explained that catching up once a driver is behind schedule is nearly impossible. They said that a driver coming late to a stop must not only pick up the passengers waiting for the late bus but also pick up additional passengers coming early for the following bus. That slows the late driver down even more, often causing the following bus to catch up (as happened in the incident I described above), sometimes leading to two-bus caravans running back-to-back down the line, the first one (the late one) chock full of passengers, the second one virtually empty. 

This is more than just a convenience issue. Besides needing the periodic break times at the end of each line run in order to keep themselves fresh and alert for driving public buses, the end-of-the-line breaks are the only chance that drivers have to use the restrooms. That’s a fact which is most often overlooked by the public, most of whom work under far different conditions. 

In any event, one of the sources of the scheduling problem, the drivers explained, is the computerization of AC Transit’s schedule some years ago. 

One can imagine that bus scheduling for an inter-city and intra-city system such as AC Transit is a massive undertaking, with the largest complexity coming over the need to coordinate the transfer areas where crosstown routes intersect with the through-town lines. For that reason, the drivers said, scheduling changes were rare in the days when such changes had to be figured out by hand, since they involved enormous hours of work trying to fit all the puzzle pieces into place. Those older route schedules, drawn up in an era when AC Transit had more money and served more passengers and lines, had more flexible time built into them for drivers to have periodic—and necessary—breaks. 

That difficulty got thrown out when AC Transit scheduling became computerized, as anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of computer calculations can easily see. That made it easier for the district to make schedule alterations and, according to the veteran drivers I spoke with, left a situation where bus schedules are so tightly drawn that district bus drivers are finding it increasingly difficult to meet them. That means more stress on the drivers. That means more missed schedules and frustrated, angry riders. It becomes a downward spiral. 

This is a situation where one can sympathize with everybody—the bus drivers and the passengers, obviously, but also the district itself. The district—once the premiere public transit agency in the inner East Bay—long ago lost the general public’s heart, as well as its dollars, to the newcomer BART. Now the folks running AC must cobble together a balanced budget any way they can, either by speed-ups or line cuts or hustling extra revenue from the public through fare hikes or parcel tax measures. A modern economy cannot function without a well-functioning, general-purpose public transportation system. In such a system, BART serves a distinct and important need. But without a healthy companion public bus system, the whole structure—including the East Bay economy—would collapse. 

But in many ways, AC Transit has been its own worst enemy as it struggles to regain favor with the inner East Bay public. Because it is one of public agencies in the area least monitored—either by the public or by the press—the agency management has come to treat public scrutiny and winning public favor as something of a distasteful act, necessary, but done as quickly as possible and with a holding of the nose. You see that in the district’s mom-and-pop-store style of management, where the backup documents provided by upper-level staff in the board agenda packet sometimes seem deliberately designed to obscure rather than to illuminate, and the district’s general manager—Rick Fernandez—often feels free to interrupt board deliberations to promote his desired direction by tossing in top-of-the-head figures and information that would seem to be necessary to the deliberation but never made it into the packet at all.  

You saw the best—if that’s the proper word for it—example of this information shortage during the complicated swap-and-buy deal in which AC Transit traded in still-usable NABI buses to FEMA for use on the Gulf Coast for new Van Hools. In the spot on the requesting memo to the board where staff normally puts the projected profit—or expense—of such a transaction or action, Mr. Fernandez simply wrote “the fiscal impact will be determined by the proceeds of the sale.” That’s like signing a contract to buy a new car without finding out the actual price. The board approved the transaction. 

AC Transit’s somewhat imperial attitude over the public also gets manifested in such actions as the district professing that it wants to solicit public input over the newly refurbished 40-foot Van Hools, but then scheduling an extensive public survey so that the results will not get back to the agency until well over half of the new buses have been manufactured and too late, therefore, for the district to effect any changes requested by the public. Asked about this incongruity, Mr. Fernandez replied that “we’ve already made a lot of changes in the new Van Hools based upon suggestions made by the public at board meetings. I think we’ve addressed everything [by way of changes] that we could.” If that was true, then why go through the exercise and expense of a public survey, except for being able to say—somewhere down the line—that the district got “input.” 

All of this happens because the public exercises little oversight over either the AC Transit board or AC Transit management—either through the media or through attendance at district board meetings—and so the board exercises less oversight over the management of the district than it should. No one or two board members are responsible for this problem, nor are one or two upper level staff members. The problem is the creation of a board/management culture over time fostered by a lack of public oversight, fueled and watered by board members and management officials who are scrambling to keep the district afloat in an economic atmosphere that threatens to sink it. That becomes a prescription for cutting corners, which is convenient for those doing the cutting, but not very good for the public, which often ends up being the ones getting cut. 

Should this imply that I’m urging a position—one way or another—on the various AC Transit election measures on the ballot next month, including the At Large Board election where incumbent Chris Peeples is being challenged by Joyce Roy, or the districtwide Measure VV parcel tax, or the Berkeley Measure KK referendum on the bus system’s plan to have bus-only dedicated street lanes? Nope. It’s far more complicated than that. While I’m urging that area citizens pay more attention to those election issues, all of us need to pay more attention to AC Transit in general. While most of us have been looking elsewhere, a once-impressive bus system has sadly deteriorated into a shell of its former self. And it will take more than a little extra tax money or some happy ads to fix that. 

 


Wild Neighbors—Amphibian Survivors: The Chorus Frogs

By Joe Eaton
Thursday October 02, 2008 - 09:56:00 AM

Contrary to popular belief, not all frogs go “ribbet.” Frogs make an amazing and appalling variety of noises. The eastern green frog sounds like someone smashing a banjo against the wall, hard: “Spunggg!” Some peep like baby chicks, trill like songbirds, bleat like sheep, grunt like pigs, skirl like bagpipes, moan like lost souls in torment. A mixed crowd of a dozen or so species, each carrying on in its own fashion, is an aurally stirring thing. 

The frogs that do say “ribbet” are native Californians: the chorus frogs. These creatures have been subject to a couple of fits of reclassification. All the western forms used to be considered one species, the Pacific chorus frog (Pseudacris regilla), formerly known as the Pacific tree frog. A couple of years ago the taxon was split into northern Pacific, Sierran, and Baja California species, almost identical in voice and appearance. Our local representative is the Sierran chorus frog (P. sierra), which ranges from southeastern Oregon east to Idaho and Montana and south through central California.  

I’ve seen Sierran chorus frogs around backyard swimming pools, in mountain meadows at 9000 feet, and along creeks in the redwoods. There are chorus frogs on Santa Cruz Island, twenty miles across the Santa Barbara Channel from the mainland (how they got there is a good question; maybe hitching a ride in a Chumash canoe) and in Death Valley. 

The Baja California chorus frog (P. hypochondriaca, and no, I don’t know why) is a ubiquitous soundtrack presence; when filmmakers want nocturnal atmosphere, they dub in a chorus of these frogs. It would be instructive to keep track of the countries and continents to which they’ve been cinematically introduced. Extraterrestrial planets, even. I’m pretty sure I’ve heard chorus frogs on one version of Star Trek or another. 

Not everybody hears the call as “ribbet”; one field guide gives it as “kreck-ek”, with a rising inflection on the last syllable. Another book likens it to the sound of a mechanical toy. Not all that impressive as a solo, but what’s remarkable is how a pondful of males performs in synchrony. Marin County naturalist Jules Evens describes “a myriad of voices repeating their creaking sounds together, seeming to encourage one another toward crescendo, then suddenly stopping simultaneously. How does the population perform in such unison? What cue prompts the sudden silence?”  

Chorus frogs are small, about 2 inches from nose to rump. They all have a black stripe through the eye and along the jaw, but beyond that color and pattern are wildly variable: shades of gray, brown, green, even brick red, with assorted of spots and blotches. Individual frogs can change to match their backgrounds, although not as effectively as chameleons. Once in Humboldt County I found a swarm of tiny frogs on a streambank, probably just out of the tadpole stage, all the same dark gray as the river cobbles. You couldn’t pick them out until they moved, one jump ahead of being stepped on. 

Frogs are not in good shape these days. There are alarming reports of worldwide population crashes and local extinctions, diseases and deformities. The California red-legged frog is on the endangered species list, and others may soon join it. So it’s heartening to be able to report that the chorus frogs doing just fine. 

Adaptability may be one of their assets. All they need is someplace suitably wet to gather when winter rains trigger the mating frenzy: a temporary pool, reservoir, stream, garden pond, water hazard or roadside ditch. One East Bay homeowner’s backyard pond was so popular with Sierran chorus frogs that the neighbors complained about the racket.  

Chorus frogs also appear to be resistant to one of the threats implicated in the decline of their relatives: a harmful form of ultraviolet radiation called UV-B. The thinning of the ozone layer has allowed more of this stuff to reach the earth’s surface. UV-B can cause skin cancer and cataracts in humans and limit the growth of plankton in polar seas. And research by Andrew Blaustein of Oregon State University shows that it messes up the DNA of frogs’ eggs. 

Some frogs, that is, but not chorus frogs. In field studies at mountain lakes, Blaustein shielded batches of frog and toad eggs from UV-B radiation while leaving others exposed. Almost half of the unprotected eggs of Cascade frogs and western toads died, but the northern Pacific chorus frog eggs came through unscathed. This reinforced lab results indicating chorus frog cells were better at producing enzymes that repaired radiation damage than those of the other two species.  

With each female laying up to 600 eggs, we could be knee-deep in little frogs if predators didn’t take a heavy toll of the tadpoles. But enough make it to adulthood to keep the chorus going, 


District 4 City Council Candidate Statement: Jesse Arreguin

Thursday October 02, 2008 - 10:42:00 AM

For 16 years, Dona Spring provided visionary leadership for the residents of District 4 and the entire city. Dona was an incredibly courageous person who, despite many personal challenges, devoted her life to serving the community. She was also on the cutting edge of many issues and worked successfully to pass groundbreaking legislation that has made Berkeley a model for other communities. She was also a tireless advocate for numerous progressive causes and was never afraid to stand up for what was right, even when she was the only one doing it. She was also an effective representative, helping each constituent get their questions answered or their problems solved.  

Dona was a friend of mine. While I am still filled with immense sadness over her passing, I have decided to run with the support of her family and friends to serve the last two years of her term. I am running because I feel that it is important that someone with Dona's values continue her work on the Council. If elected, I will continue her legacy of fighting for progressive change.  

From an early age, I have been passionately committed to social activism. As the son and grandson of farm workers, I committed myself to educating others about the legacy of Cesar Chavez. My first political speech was in 1994 urging the San Francisco Board of Supervisors to name a street in honor of Chavez. After months of work, the Board decided to rename Army Street after Chavez. I was honored to later unveil the first street sign. I have also worked on numerous progressive causes from the campaign against Proposition 209, to fighting for workers rights.  

I attended UC Berkeley and during my time at Cal, I worked with the ASUC (student government) in lobbying city officials on housing and transportation issues. I served on the Chancellor's Joint Oversight Committee on Parking and Transportation and worked to establish the University's faculty and staff transit pass.  

As someone who has been evicted several times, I know how vulnerable tenants are in losing their homes and as a community activist I have fought for more affordable housing. As a member of the Housing Advisory Commission, I have worked to get hundreds of new affordable units built and as the Chair of the elected Rent Board, I have worked to expand tenant protections and keep rents affordable. Unfortunately, despite our efforts, working families are being priced out of our city. We need to create affordable housing for all people and make sure that no one is priced out of our community.  

In 2005, I was appointed to the Downtown Area Plan Advisory Committee (DAPAC) and over the next two years, I worked to develop a coalition of members representing diverse opinions on development and transportation issues to create a consensus plan which presents a new vision for Downtown Berkeley. Towards the end of the process my primary opponent was appointed to the DAPAC. When the time came for the final vote on the plan, my opponent did not vote to support the final Plan. The Plan was adopted on a 17-4 vote.  

As a member of the Zoning Adjustments Board, I have reviewed hundreds of projects and have supported new development along our corridors but have worked to find common ground between the concerns of neighbors and the need for new housing. I have fought to get more affordable housing in new projects, often unsuccessfully. 

As an aide to Councilmember Kriss Worthington, I have not only developed progressive public policy but helped hundreds of constituents get their problems solved by our city government. I know how the city works and I will use my experience to continue the legacy of accessible and accountable representation that Dona Spring provided.  

I am running to bring new energy and ideas to the City Council. I will continue Dona's legacy of promoting visionary solutions to our common problems. I will not only continue to make Berkeley a leader in solving our global climate change crisis, but I will also work to protect and enhance our environment and create affordable workforce housing for all types of people.  

I will also continue my work on improving the Downtown and also work to make University Avenue a vibrant commercial district. The plan that the DAPAC developed is not a “pipe-dream” but is a forward thinking plan which will result in a dramatic and positive transformation of our Downtown. We need more housing, an improved retail environment, walkable streets, improved transit and more green space and open space. We can have all these things, but we need the leadership to make them become a reality.  

I will also work to improve the safety and quality of life of our neighborhoods. I will work to not only improve traffic and parking in our neighborhoods but make sure that we get increased funding for neighborhood watch programs and disaster preparedness. We also need to address the rise in violent crime and look at moving toward a community involved policing model, like other cities have done.  

I have a proven track record of bringing diverse groups together to solve common problems. You can count on me to work towards consensus, but to also stand up for what is right when necessary. My experience and vision for our community has earned me the sole endorsement of the Sierra Club, Berkeley Citizens Action (BCA), the Green Party, the Progressive Democrats of the East Bay, the East Bay Young Democrats and the Cal Berkeley Democrats.  

I have also been endorsed by the Alameda County Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO; the Berkeley Firefighters Association; the John George Democratic Club; Councilmembers Max Anderson and Kriss Worthington; School Board President John Selawsky and hundreds of neighbors and community leaders. 

Please join us in creating a greener and brighter future for Berkeley. For more information please visit my website at www.JesseArreguin.com or contact my campaign at 848-8745 or by email at jesse@jessearreguin.com.  


District 4 City Council Candidate Statement: L A Wood

Thursday October 02, 2008 - 10:42:00 AM

As voters, we are once again being inundated with campaign banners, catchy phrases and promises from every candidate. This is especially true in our District 4 election. At each endorsement forum, the candidates seem to repeat the same mantra about being the champion for our seniors, disabled and youth, insuring our district receives its fair share of city services and, of course, creating more affordable housing while revitalizing our downtown. Few would disagree with these goals. 

Yet with all the political rhetoric, it’s difficult to understand what actually distinguishes each candidate or how each might serve our community and city. Whether older or younger than myself, their range of experience is quite varied. Some have little or none. Others have served on city commissions and task forces, as have I. Such service is admirable and important. However, it is my extensive and broad community activism that distinguishes me from all my opponents in District 4. 

Recently, Sarah Palin derided and dismissed Obama’s years of community service. I believe this is some of the most important work anyone can do. Obama certainly understands this message. This is why I continue to remind voters that I am a longtime neighborhood organizer and environmental leader throughout Berkeley. My record of participation is unparalleled by any of my opponents. And yes, it can be examined on my website www.berkeleycitizen.org.  

With this kind of record that is particularly strong in environmental activism, it is astounding that the Sierra Club failed to endorse my candidacy. The club’s endorsements are directed by a handful of residents who purport to speak for the entire membership. It is slate politics at its worst, being little more than an attempt to manage and manipulate your vote. 

In fact, the Sierra Club held a private endorsement process for two of the District 4 candidates that purposely excluded me. Neither of the two candidates invited to the club has any environmental record to speak of. Yet, I have been endorsed by the directors of three prominent regional/national environmental groups: Greenaction, Global Community Monitor and Bay Area Coalition for Headwaters.  

Over the years, many endorsers like the Sierra club have apparently forgotten something about democracy and have made the electoral process somewhat exclusionary. As a result, the club’s membership was also unable to hear of my social activism, union involvement and my support for local education.  

Yes, I regularly volunteered as a tutor in our public elementary and middle school classrooms. Last year I worked for several months with Cal students examining environmental justice issues in west Berkeley.  

The bottom line is: I have shown over the last two decades that one person, acting locally, can make a difference. 

For the record, I am the only candidate in District 4 who has: 

• Worked as a Public Works advocate and actually understands its workforce, budget and activity needs. The Public Works Department has publicly acknowledged my commitment and dedication. 

• Written a Berkeley landmark application. I have authored two landmarks. Some of my opponents speak about the importance of preservation, but have taken no direct action. 

• Safeguarded our environment locally, regionally and statewide in areas that include waste management, toxic site cleanups, groundwater protection, creek preservation, and air quality. 

• Advocated for the humane treatment of animals. I worked with the late Dona Spring in her first attempts to obtain funding for a new, much-needed animal shelter. 

• Daylighted health disparities within our city by helping to develop a survey of neighborhoods in close proximity to our manufacturing district.  

• Challenged zoning inequities at the Harrison skate park, the “Tom Bates” playing fields, Pacific Steel Casting, the Harrison soccer fields, and the Ursula Sherman transitional housing, in each case, revealing the dangers of exposing our children to that area’s extremely poor air quality. Some of my opponents have talked about zoning inequities, but I actually stood up, and continue to stand up, for Berkeley neighborhoods affected by these injustices. 

• Organized and carried out a seven-month community air monitoring project to measure the high levels of airborne metals in Berkeley’s Oceanview district. I then lobbied for body burden testing of children at the childcare facilities in the area.  

• Spent more than a decade calling for a constructive town-and-gown liaison with UCB and LBNL. It’s time to begin a process that will allow us to meet in the boardroom instead of the courtroom. Berkeley’s relations with UC have never been more challenged than they are today. I am the only candidate who repeatedly worked with Dona Spring to achieve a more equitable, productive partnership with this world-renowned university and national laboratory.  

I will help Berkeley to prepare for the great challenges of the coming decade. I am the only candidate who will be an ardent watchdog for desperately needed budgetary and management reforms within our city government.  

If elected, I will lobby for a warm water pool, use of the BHS track for residents and will help mediate the many neighborhood issues relating to our district’s future growth. I will give all my constituents a fair opportunity to voice their concerns.  

Community activism was a hallmark of our former representative Dona Spring. She risked arrest many times to protest the decimation of the Memorial Oak Grove and the danger of placing athletes in a gym so close to the Hayward Fault. I stood on the frontline beside her there for two years. 

Indeed, I had the privilege of working on numerous issues with Dona. She publicly said of me, “We really don’t disagree on much. I think he’s (L A) is a bit more of a perfectionist than I am. But he’s certainly done good work.” I know she shared a similar vision of the city and of her understanding of the role of district representative. Perhaps this is why I have been endorsed by many of her friends and former commissioners. (See www.4lawood.org.) Vote for L A Wood, Democrat in District 4.


District 4 City Council Candidate Statement: Asa Dodsworth

Thursday October 02, 2008 - 10:41:00 AM

Berkeley needs change. But only by listening to, and increasing the voice and role of our citizens and our neighborhoods can we make Berkeley better. I am committed to increasing the voices of our neighborhoods in the city’s decision-making process. Too many important decisions are being made by professional municipal employees, working hand-in-hand with developers, but without enough input from Berkeley’s taxpayers. Too many of the decisions that negatively affect our lives, our neighborhoods and our businesses are being decided by the ‘Last Man Standing’ at Berkeley’s notorious late-night city council sessions. No one should have to wait for five hours to address the city council, especially about substantial and often negative impacts to their neighborhoods. These problems need to be resolved long before they get to the council. We need to create clear policies that are responsive to the community’s needs and abilities. We need to stick to those policies and not encourage every developer to appeal every aberrant proposal to the city council—where those same developers inevitably get permission to ignore both the rules and the community. 

Economically, we are facing the biggest crisis of our lives, but Berkeley’s professional politicians are again asking businesses and citizens to pony up more in taxes. We don’t need more new taxes to provide better services, we need higher standards for the services we provide. While a healthy commercial community is critical to the success of our city, when I talk to local business owners they tell me the city’s efforts are misdirected. Fewer jobs, lost sales-tax revenues, and vacant storefronts are symptoms of the failed policies of politics-as-usual. We need to rededicate city government and better direct the well-paid municipal employees we have working for us. Most importantly, we need new faces to engage in productive problem-solving for our many and fast growing economic problems. The politicians who got us into this financial disaster aren’t the politicians who are going to get us out. 

Environmentally, we are facing the most dangerous crisis in modern human history, a fight for survival of life as we know it. Yet we are not even making the commitment to success, the sacrifices our great-grandparents made when they were fighting World Wars One & Two. This war is not ‘Us against Them.’ This is a war against our worst, most selfish impulses. This war is against short-sighted, self-destructive behavior. Berkeley must lead the effort to change the way we all live in this new world. 

To win this war Berkeley needs an affordable and reliable public transportation system that works for all of us, all the time. 

To win this war Berkeley need recycling policies that get us to zero waste today, not someday. 

To win this war Berkeley needs ‘Victory Gardens,’ and ‘Food, Not Lawns’. 

For more than a decade we’ve been hearing about Alice Water’s Community Garden project. Why, after more than a decade, aren’t there community gardens on every empty, neglected lot? 

To win this war Berkeley needs energy conservation, solar electric and solar heating panels on every municipal building, on every school building, and on every new project built within our city. 

Most of all, we need new faces to engage in productive problem solving for this fast building ecological crisis, because the leaders who failed to address these problems for the past 30 years can’t be trusted to address these problems today or tomorrow. 

In addition to these global problems, we have local, personal and immediate problems that we can address without spending more money. The failure rate in our schools is unacceptable. For decades we’ve been hearing about America’s education crisis. Yet today even fewer Berkeley kids are graduating from high school and going on to college. Sky-high drop out rates and violent crime are a symptom of the failed policies of politics-as-usual. 

We have the best University in America in the middle of our city, yet our elementary and high school students are failing! Too many of the children I went to school with just a few years ago are floundering or dead. It’s our fault. We need to rededicate ourselves to the educational success of all of our children. We need to volunteer, to organize, to work hard to win the war on ignorance. We’re losing that war today. The potential Nobel Prize winners of 30 years in the future, aren’t reading today. The ecological solutions that will save us in a decade aren’t going to be possible if today’s students don’t become tomorrow’s scientists, politicians and business leaders. To achieve this important goal is going to take hard and personal effort from each of us. We can succeed if we work together, if we’re committed to success, as though our lives depend on it. Our lives DO depend on it. 

Lastly, I believe in the enormous value of city commissions. Like the Ancient Romans, I believe it is every citizen’s responsibility to engage in the process of government. In our knowledge and commitment this city has incredible resources that are just waiting to be unleashed, but so far we have fail to properly utilize these assets. From city staff we hear that commissions are too expensive, that paid city staff are best qualified to address the city’s problems, I disagree. We are the promise and the future and only by working together can we get ourselves out of these troubled times. Once again, the leaders who got us into these situations aren’t the people who are going to lead us out. If we fail in this, we will fail as a city. Worse than that, if we can’t produce the leadership to turn this city and this nation and this world around, we will fail as a culture. 

If you want to work together, building a better tomorrow, vote for me, Asa Dodsworth, for Berkeley City Council, District 4 on November 4th. 


District 4 City Council Candidate Statement: N’Dji Jockin

Thursday October 02, 2008 - 10:40:00 AM

I was born and raised here in Berkeley and have a deep love and respect for its residents, traditions, and culture. We have some of the most forward-thinking, progressive-minded people and policies in the country if not the world. We support organic foods and bilingual education in our schools to enrich our children’s bodies and minds. We support rent control and workforce housing to maintain and enrich the diversity of our residents. We support alternative energy and fair trade coffee. We have one of the nation’s most generous sets of programs to serve the homeless. We should be proud of these lofty principles and ideals we uphold. We are continually on the cutting edge of progress, but somewhere along this journey we have veered off course. 

We have failed the less fortunate among us. The statistics are as shocking as they are undeniable.  

•14 percent of black students and 23 percent of Hispanic students at Berkeley High are proficient in English and the Arts compared with 76 percent of white students. 

• 21 percent of Berkeley residents live below the poverty line. 

• Life expectancy in the flatlands is 9 years less than in the hills. 

• Only 2 percent of similar size cities in America have less crime. 

Not surprisingly, as our economy falters, violent crime is resurgent in our community. 

At the same time we have failed our business community. Allowing bureaucratic red tape to make Berkeley an unfriendly environment in which to conduct business. Whether it be as mundane as requesting a new business license, or as complex as getting green, workforce housing projects approved, it has become very difficult for businesses to operate here. Not surprisingly, we have seen mixed-use development in surrounding communities attract both the homes buyers and retailers that our downtown so desperately needs and wants. This continues to hinder our tax base and threaten our most cherished and needed programs. We have allowed fringe elements of our community to derail our shared prosperity and have let special interest groups hinder progress and innovation. 

We need new leadership that will: renew our commitment to the least among us; revitalize our schools; and bring a long-term vision of smart, green growth to our downtown development. I call for a restoration of the true progressive politics that made Berkeley so special. I call for a change in our approach to the University. We must be forward thinking and seek the common ground that exists between the City and the University. We must embrace the student community by leveraging their passion for education and vision for the future, and by harnessing their intellectual and financial consumption into a more vibrant downtown serving the needs of all residents.  

While I salute the progress that this city has made on behalf of it’s people, I am saddened by what I see as an inflexible approach to some of Berkeley’s most pressing problems. Many groups, well meaning as they may be, in fear of offending Berkeley’s old guard liberals, and activists, are engaged in failing policies, programs, and ideologies which in essence amount to little more than progressive theater. All talk and no show. After many years of this inflexible approach, it is crucial to the people of this city to accept some basic facts. We are no longer a small town with small town problems. Crime in Berkeley must be addressed in a realistic way. The futures of our children and future generations of Berkeley residents must be safeguarded and the only way to do this is for us to take a hard look at ourselves as progressives, and to act.  

We face immediate problems with safety, traffic/parking/congestion, and the environment.  

I propose: a collaboration between the City, the University, and local bike shops to offer students a bike and helmet in exchange for not bringing their cars with them to school; collaborating with the university to expand their late night safety programs Bear Walk and NightOwl deeper into our community; expanding our transfer tax rebate credit to cover tankless water heater installation to further reduce emissions. 

It is important that our community leaders share our values. It is really important that they be long-term stakeholders in the community. At this historic moment in our nation’s economic life, with our own housing market one of the very few to be holding its value, we cannot afford to be the political stepping-stone for the politically ambitious among us. We need leaders truly vested in the community with a multi-generational commitment to Berkeley’s future.


District 4 City Council Candidate Statement: Terry Doran

Thursday October 02, 2008 - 10:40:00 AM

The diversity, culture and beautiful neighborhoods of Berkeley make this a special place to call home. It's the reason I came here to attend Cal in 1960 and, upon graduation, never left. I started a teaching job at Berkeley High School right out of college, My wife Lenore and I raised our children in the same house we live in today on Sacramento Street and we are fortunate to have three generations of Dorans still living in District 41. My granddaughter recently started kindergarten at Washington Elementary School and my grandson will follow next year. 

At Berkeley High, I taught history and economics, started the photography program, chaired the Arts Department and served as faculty advisor for the award-winning Berkeley High Jacket, which is currently the subject of the Berkeley Rep production of Yellowjackets, written by a former student of mine. I was also a union activist, a union officer, sat on the negotiating team and was chair of the grievance committee. I walked or biked to work almost every day until my retirement in 1998 and my bicycle is still my major mode of transportation around Berkeley.  

I served two terms on the Berkeley School Board, including two as president, and am now an appointed member of the Zoning Adjustments Board and served on the Downtown Area Plan Advisory Committee, where I have fought to revitalize downtown and promote affordable housing. 

I like to tell people that District 4 is the heart of Berkeley, with no disrespect or course, to my friends in other parts of town. District 4 runs along the Shattuck corridor, taking in the entirety of downtown from Blake Street to Vine, on the north, meeting the Cal campus at its western border on Oxford Street and then winding westward to Sacramento, scooping up gorgeous residential areas. 

You may know that there would not be an election for District 4 were it not for the unfortunate passing of Dona Spring. Dona's grit and tenacity in the face of enormous health difficulties was inspiring to those of us she represented. I fought alongside Dona to secure a new location for the warm water pool and was privileged to receive her endorsement during both of my runs for the School Board. 

I am running for City Council to help District 4 and the entire city meet new challenges without giving up what makes our city special. I want to build on my work on the School Board to improve partnerships between the City and School District that give children the tools they need to succeed. I will also continue my advocacy for new housing and retail. As a member of the Zoning Adjustments Board, I am proud to have voted for over six hundred new housing units, twenty percent of which are classified as below-market rate. I also voted to support the new Trader Joe's store set to open at Martin Luther King and University Ave. 

I've been a progressive all my life and have brought those values to every position I ever held. While a student at Cal I was a participant in the Free Speech Movement, Civil Rights activities locally and nationally, and was always a peace activist working to end the war in Vietnam and eradicate nuclear weapons from the planet. As an educator I participated in integrating the Berkeley Public Schools and was the chair of the East Bay chapter of Educators for Social Responsibility working for a nuclear free world. I worked on the very first campaign for rent control, and still vigorously defend the rights of tenants from unfair rent increases and illegal evictions. I worked with city and community leaders to build affordable housing throughout Berkeley, not just in select communities, and have recently, as a commissioner on ZAB, supported housing development along transportation corridors like Shattuck Avenue, University Avenue and San Pablo Boulevard as both environmentally essential and to increase the affordable housing stock in our city. 

Everyone running to represent this district wants to see a livelier, safer and more vibrant downtown, but I am the only candidate with a record of consistent support for making this happen. That means being clear about what we want from new development - affordable units, green space and other amenities - but it also means listening to what business has to say. As Barack Obama would say, we need to give the business community a seat at the table without letting them buy the table. When businesses feel invested in the process, we have a better chance of making real progress on a more vibrant downtown. 

I also consider one of the hallmarks of progressivism to be an openness to new ideas and change, which has become a prominent theme in this year's presidential election. Berkeley is a special place, but it is changing right before our eyes. Rents have increased, young families cannot afford to live in the city they grew up in and high school and college graduates often have to look outside the city for employment. Making Berkeley more affordable and attractive to young families, like those of my own children, is one of my top priorities as a council member, but it is not going to happen just by doing the same things we have been doing before. 

Over one hundred neighbors have already endorsed my candidacy, many living in District 4, along with Loni Hancock, Nancy Skinner, Tom Bates and 6 out of 7 of our City Council members. I also have a broad spectrum of organizations that have endorsed me, ranging from the Berkeley Fire Fighters, The Alameda County Central Labor Council, SEIU, Local 1021, and the California Nurses Association. Educational leaders like Barry Fike, past president of the teachers union; business owners like Alice Waters; and community activists like Rev. George E. Crespin and Hank Resnik, Co-founder, Bicycle-Friendly Berkeley Coalition have also endorsed my candidacy. 

You can go to my website; www.terrydoran4district4.com for a complete list and a more detailed description of my background and program. Thank you.


District 5 City Council Candidate Statement: Sophie Hahn

Thursday October 02, 2008 - 10:44:00 AM

I have a sense of urgency about important issues affecting District 5 and the City of Berkeley. I am running for City Council to bring a new level of energy and excellence to our government, to enhance community participation in civic affairs, and to ensure that our city develops in harmony with existing neighborhoods and values.  

I grew up on Santa Barbara Road, in the heart of District 5. This area has been my home for almost 40 years. After attending Berkeley Public Schools, I went on to UC Berkeley. I continued at Stanford Law School, practiced law, worked in policy and governance, and started-up, grew and sold a small business.  

My father, a UC Emeritus Professor, came to the United States as a WWII refugee. My mother is the daughter of Ellis Island immigrants. I was raised to give back to the community that has provided so much for our family, and to champion equity, participation and opportunity for all.  

Throughout my life I have been a leader in the community. I have served on the Boards of Planned Parenthood, Step One School and the M3 Education Foundation, an organization addressing the needs of African American boys in Berkeley’s Middle Schools. Currently, I am Chair of the King Middle School Governance Council and also serve as President of the King PTA. My website, www.sophiehahn.com, includes a full list of leadership and pro-bono activities.  

Berkeleyans are generous, supporting schools, libraries, social services and more. In return, they deserve a well managed city with government that listens to and respects its citizens, funds basic services such as police and fire first, and works actively to develop revenues to offset the taxpayer’s burden. Our council has been distracted by costly and time consuming brouhahas. We can do better. 

Critical decisions about Berkeley’s future are on the immediate horizon, and will determine whether Berkeley—including District 5—retains its local neighborhood character, or locks itself into a generic, high-density, high-rise future. North Berkeley founders envisioned neighborhoods with a strong connection to nature, and focused on the quality of family and community life that would thrive. I believe this spirit should infuse the future of Berkeley. 

I strongly favor revitalization of our Downtown with a mix of old and new buildings that are appropriately scaled and consider set-backs, step-downs, greenery and welcoming spaces. Our most popular commercial areas—including 4th Street, the Addison Arts District, and Solano and College Avenues—maintain these characteristics. These are the places where Berkeleyans—and out of town visitors—spend their money and time.  

My opponent is a developer, despite characterizing himself this election cycle as a “businessman.” He is a partner in a real estate firm, and has interests in local buildings (see California FPPC Form 700). In a June 16, 2006 with the Daily Planet, interview he states “I have worked in various aspects of real estate all of 27 years” and characterizes himself as “a small developer.” A 2004 fundraiser for his campaign was co-hosted by an array of developers, lobbyists and brokers, and donations to his campaign reflected a similar line-up. (See the Sept. 17, 2004 Daily Planet.)  

My opponent’s appointees to key committees have been advocates for bigger, higher and denser projects, as well as for easing restrictions against tearing down structures of historical or cultural significance. My appointees will put the interests of residents and neighborhoods first. 

Within District 5, plans for the new Safeway at Shattuck/Henry and Rose are in progress. I will advocate for a community “stakeholder process” like the one obtained in Rockridge, where a similar Safeway development is planned, and work hard to ensure a human-scaled, high quality green building.  

Berkeley has a strong commitment to reducing greenhouse gasses, and to other sustainable policies. Much of District 5 is poorly served by public transportation, and amenities for bikers and walkers must be improved. A shopper’s shuttle has long been desired; I will explore it. I will also convene experts to devise a model program for carpooling. We share a common place of origination, and no doubt many destinations are common as well. It’s time to move ahead on real projects to meet the community’s transportation needs.  

Shopping local is an important sustainable policy—we can walk or bike—or reduce driving, by avoiding trips across or out of town. If we want vibrant commercial areas with businesses of character and quality, we must patronize them—or they will not survive. I will institute a vigorous shop local program—to sustain our businesses (and grow our local tax base) as well as sustaining our environment.  

District 5 is bisected by the Hayward fault. I will spearhead the systematic organization of our neighborhoods for disaster preparedness, and to participate in Crime Watch. There is no excuse for not having undertaken this in the past. A very positive benefit will be to build community within our neighborhoods, and better connect our residents to City Hall.  

We need a long range plan for economic development, and streamlined support for local business, to expand our commercial tax base. We cannot rely on taxpayers alone for increased revenues, or meet our needs by nickel-and-diming our downtown theatre and restaurant patrons with parking meters (and tickets) that run into the night. 

I will advocate for programs that encourage UC Berkeley—and other large local employers—to invest in Berkeley’s schools, purchase locally, encourage their employees to use public transportation, and work as partners for the benefit of our community. Our relationship with UC Berkeley has not resulted in good outcomes for our City—or for UC. We need to re-establish trust and dialogue to work pro-actively on development issues, and other matters of mutual concern.  

I will be a full time councilwoman, and have the skills, vision, experience and will to move our community forward. I invite you to visit my website, www.sophiehahn.com, to learn more, and welcome your calls and inquiries. I ask for your vote on November 4, and will honor that by serving you as an active, respectful and fully engaged member of the Council.


District 5 City Council Candidate Statement: Laurie Capitelli

Thursday October 02, 2008 - 10:44:00 AM

Four years ago you elected me to bring common sense, business experience and a pragmatic progressive approach to the Berkeley City Council. I am running for re-election to continue serving District 5 and all of Berkeley as I have done for the last 30 years. My priorities are fiscal responsibility, constituent service, education, sustainability, the health of our retail districts and housing. One thousand words are not enough to relate all I’ve done in four years on the Council, but I can at least hit the highlights.  

My first priority has been to balance the budget and build the City’s tax base. When I took office the City was grappling with a projected cumulative deficit of $99 million from 2005 through 2009 growing from $10.6 million in 2005 to $26 million in 2009. My leadership and consensus-building helped us enact four years of balanced budgets, the last by an 8-1 vote. The City Manager’s May budget update reports that staff has been reduced by 8.5 percent since the 2003-2004 fiscal year. Our bond rating now is among the best in California. We have increased the City’s reserve fund to 8 percent. We now have annual reviews of City social service program.  

Constituent service is a fundamental part of my commitment to each of you. I improved traffic safety and security at Thousand Oaks School and fought successfully against deep cuts in AC Transit service on Solano, Shattuck and Martin Luther King Jr. Way. Every month I and my two excellent staffers respond to hundreds of calls, letters and emails for help. We deal knowledgeably and effectively with missed trash pickups, planning problems, requests for street trees, getting help for an elderly neighbor and the myriad other issues that arise for residents of District 5 in dealing with the City administration and staff. I meet anywhere and anytime with every constituent who asks me and hold neighborhood meetings on crime problems, pedestrian and traffic safety, proposed development and other issues as need arises.  

Economic development is essential to the fiscal health of the City. I have worked to reverse Berkeley’s historically difficult business climate so that small businesses and start-ups can prosper, building jobs and tax revenues we sorely need. I have strongly backed proposals in the new Downtown Plan—a consensus forged by environmentalists, bicycle and pedestrian advocates, social services providers, preservationists, planners and merchants—for the revitalization of our downtown. We can create a 21st Century downtown with wisdom and sensitivity while preserving and protecting our landmark buildings and special Berkeley character.  

I have led the Council’s work on the issues of problematic street behavior and homelessness. I am driven by the belief that Berkeley’s historical inability to address these issues has had the ultimate effect of leaving the homeless, addicted and mentally ill unserved and left to waste away before our eyes. We have a relatively small but highly visible population of treatment-resistant homeless, addicted and mentally ill people living on our streets at night. Ideological differences on the Council had prevented the City from addressing these issues in the past.  

Working with Councilmember Wozniak and Mayor Bates I created a majority on the Council for the Public Commons Initiative, a coordinated plan that uses Berkeley’s existing non-profit and City social service programs to shelter and treat every person sleeping on the streets, and encourages them to use the City’s shelters and services by enforcing existing laws against sleeping on the street. We have more to do, but my leadership is forging a middle ground to continue to address these issues effectively. 

I have reduced the burden of Berkeley’s historically glacial permitting process on homeowners and small businesses. My Council colleagues and I changed zoning requirements to improve and simplify the process of opening a business. As a result, a neighborhood business can open its doors without enduring a year of delay and onerous rent while seeking a waiver from an impossible requirement. Another change in zoning laws provided protections for homeowners’ views, light and fresh air while easing restrictions on most small remodels. 

I have continued my 30 year commitment to public education, leading most recently to the adoption of Vision 20/20, a joint effort by the City and the School District to improve the success of all children in our public schools by addressing the root causes of under-achievement.  

The City and University need to be partners, not adversaries. I am heartened by the fact that for the first time in recent memory, a very diverse group of Berkeley citizens worked together with the University to jointly create a comprehensive Downtown Plan. At the same time, Berkeley’s relationship with the University cannot be one-sided. Even a Cal grad must be prepared to stand up to the University when proposals like a 900-car garage on the Hayward fault come before the Council. To do otherwise would be to neglect our responsibility for the safety of Cal’s students, faculty and staff.  

In 35 years of private and public service I’ve learned how things actually work in Berkeley, what systems are in place in our schools and in our city agencies, how city agencies interact with each other and with the county and state government, and how community members work together to find common ground. I’ve been able to mediate stubborn disagreements on the Council and in the community. My endorsements by Mayor Bates and Councilmembers Olds, Wozniak, Maio, Moore and Anderson demonstrate their faith in my ability to reach out and work with persons of many different views, and the respectful and cooperative relationships I have built with each of them.  

Election talk is cheap; performance on the Council requires the judgment, knowledge and experience I’ve acquired over 35 years in Berkeley. In an age of slogans, catchy phrases, and inflated promises, that is what really matters. My performance as District 5’s councilmember speaks for itself. I trust that you will conclude that I have the attributes needed to represent your interests on the City Council. 


District 6 City Council Candidate Statement: Phoebe Anne Sorgen

Thursday October 02, 2008 - 10:46:00 AM

I am Phoebe Anne Sorgen, running for retiring Berkeley City Councilmember Betty Olds’ District 6 seat. My slogan is “Sorgen for Safety and Sustainability." My sunflower logo symbolizes my determination to shine light on government, and to increase solar power as well as other economically and environmentally sustainable innovations to make Berkeley a model for the nation and a delight for those who live here. 

For 19 years I have been a parent and homeowner here. As mom and stepmom of Berkeley High grads, I became increasingly involved in local efforts to improve the world and Berkeley. I will take care of District 6 senior citizens, students, and all of you, as family. I listen well and am already responding to your concerns, which include the broader context in which Berkeley has played a legendary role. 

Safety is my top priority. I will keep us safe from crime and disaster with prevention, preparation, and response. I will spearhead block by block CPR and other disaster preparedness training and rehearsal, and ensure that each home’s gas shut-off and evacuation needs are known. I plan incentives to entice those who can to stock emergency supplies for those who can’t. City land can be used for attractive caches. 

Berkeley police are excellent at rapid emergency response and helping neighborhoods organize. This year, they often outnumbered peaceful, quiet protestors, while patrolling for crime and dangerous driving was perhaps more in order. I successfully addressed that at City Hall. The BPD maintains crime updates online so residents can ascertain risk. For those who are more comfortable on the phone than on the internet, I plan a Hotline. I will also spearhead wild parties which expand the Neighborhood Crime Watch program, block by block. Wild? Just kidding, but I will help make the process fun. 

We cherish wildlife and open spaces. Dead wood and underbrush that are fire hazards will be removed, while maintaining as much habitat as is safely possible. Invasive flammables such as eucalyptus should have been replaced by native species long ago. Public paths should have been opened long ago. During evacuation, they may save lives. The City will save funds and prepare for post peak oil by allowing community gardens on unused city land that is currently mowed, such as the field below Cragmont Park. 

City assistance in financing solar panels, and other improvements such as undergrounding power lines, will be expanded. Community choice aggregation will save the City money and increase our use of renewable energy. 

Parking policies have jeopardized Berkeley’s commercial sustainability, and empty storefronts are contagious. Why do huge busses carry four passengers? Reserve them for rush hours. We need eco-passes and frequent mini eco-shuttles that loop throughout the neighborhoods and business districts. Pedestrian walkways and bike lanes will be enhanced. As the price of gas rises and public transit improves, we will forego driving. In the meantime, for those who cannot carry groceries far nor bike, electric neighborhood vehicles like mine are relatively low cost and require less of a lifestyle change than biking. Three can fit in one parking place. 

Please join the “Buy Berkeley” campaign. For years, many of us have shopped Berkeley first because we love this town. How often have you had to leave town to shop? We need to be able to buy towels and everything else in a pleasant Berkeley. Local businesses need City support. 

Instead of contracting with Alko Office Supply on Shattuck, our city buys products made in China from a big box chain, delivered by double-parking, stinking trucks. Why? Alko could deliver by zero emission hand truck, and buying locally increases our tax base. This brings up the larger context. Ideas that start here often ripple out. Opposition to the Multilateral Agreement on Investments, a draconian precursor to NAFTA, began here with a City Council Resolution that was copied nationwide, then worldwide, whereupon the corpocracy’s trade reps gave up. Berkeley takes stands that matter. Because teams of competent volunteers do the legwork, these symbolic stands rarely cost the City time or money. I researched and wrote many diplomatically worded Resolutions adopted by the City Council, including one to Oppose CAFTA and Preserve Our Local Sovereignty. Undemocratic trade agreements are negotiated by nonelected multinational trade reps. They forbid cities from considering environment, labor, or any factors other than the bottom line, even if the local independent business’s bid is only negligibly higher, hence the Alko snub.  

There are corporations in Berkeley that unfairly profit from Prop 13, paying 1970’s tax rates when they can afford to pay a fair share. Let’s shift the unfair tax burden of struggling single family homeowners to those corporate interests. 

A Tel Aviv band recently wrote a song titled “Berkeley Resolution” based on my efforts to limit the “rights” that powerful transnational corporations claim against the public interest. My opponent said Berkeley should stick to potholes and fire stations. I say, potholes and fire stations do come first, and we can sometimes act globally as well as locally. Ignore the broader context at our peril.  

These are complex issues. Berkeley needs me for sophisticated, creative, and courageous leadership to take care of the quotidian practicalities first, while also appropriately championing our right to decide for ourselves how we will live in a crisis-ridden world. 

When elected, I will address your practical needs first and foremost, from speed limits and pavement repair to resolving neighborhood disputes. Years as a Berkeley Peace and Justice Commissioner and on KPFA’s Local Station Board honed my skills in parliamentary procedure and negotiation. I build bridges, reaching across aisles for creative solutions and consensus. We get to “yes” when all parties communicate effectively and feel heard. 

Help elect Phoebe Anne Sorgen, a responsive Councilmember and champion of effective measures for safety from crime and disaster. Call anytime: 595-5575. Website: www.PhoebeSorgen.net Elect Phoebe if you like her plans. Berkeley can set the standard for both commercial and environmental sustainability, with open government that is accountable to the people. Phoebe’s door is always open. 


District 6 City Council Candidate Statement: Susan Wengraf

Thursday October 02, 2008 - 10:45:00 AM

I have a long history of community involvement, public service, and accomplishment in Berkeley. I have served as the aide to Council member Betty Olds since 1992. I am also the senior member of the Planning Commission. I was the chair of the University Avenue Strategic Plan Sub-Committee, which made recommendations to the City Council on development standards on University Avenue. In addition, I also chaired the Density Bonus Sub-Committee, which examined the very complex rules governing development in California. I served on committees that evaluated the Landmarks Preservation Ordinance, and established a Blight Ordinance that helps neighborhoods deal with abandoned properties in the City of Berkeley. 

Active in Democratic Party politics, I served as President of the Berkeley Democratic Club for eight years. Under my leadership, the BDC became a major force for fundraising for Democratic presidential candidates. I have served on many boards, including those of Prospect School, The Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association, and The Live Oak Neighborhood Association, which I founded. 

Trained at the Bank Street School in New York with a Masters Degree in Special Education, I was a classroom teacher for many years. I am also an award winning documentary film maker, best known for my film “Love It Like A Fool” about Berkeley songwriter and singer Malvina Reynolds. Currently, I consult as the Visuals Editor at the Emma Goldman Papers at UC Berkeley, which recently published “Emma Goldman, a Documentary History of the American Years.” 

I came to North Berkeley in 1969. With my husband Mark, an Oscar-winning film sound mixer and professor at UC, we raised our family. Our children are now grown and live outside of the Bay Area. 

I take pride in my effectiveness at bringing consensus to differing opinions on controversial issues. I am proud of my endorsements, and I believe they reflect the respect I have earned from a broad political spectrum of organizations, community leaders, and residents in Berkeley. They include the Berkeley Firefighters, Berkeley Police Association, Alameda Labor Council, CAL Dems, both mayoral candidates, Tom Bates and Shirley Dean, 6 out of the 8 current city council members, as well as State Senator elect Loni Hancock and Assemblywoman elect Nancy Skinner. 

District 6 is generally defined as the north Berkeley hills. We live daily with two critical safety issues: our homes interface with Tilden Park and we are very vulnerable to a wildfire, and the Hayward fault bisects our district. The safety of my constituents is a top priority, and my goal is to work with residents, the Fire Department, and the Police Department to develop a pro-active preparedness plan that ensures the best results in the event of a disaster. We need a vegetation management plan to reduce the fuel load in our hills. I will work with the Fire Department to implement a plan that respects our natural environment while ensuring safety. All of our neighborhoods need tools and supplies, but we also need the training required to know how to react, how to help family and neighbors, and how to live for several days without assistance. 

The single most frequent question that I have been asked as I meet voters in District 6 is, "What is my position on the issue of the Marines Recruiting Center?" I believe that the City Council made a mistake when they voted to allow Code Pink to have a parking space in front of the Marine's Office. The City ended up spending upwards of $250,000 on the Marine's debacle. The protests were detrimental to local downtown businesses, and were a national embarrassment for our city. We have serious crime in Berkeley and that money could have been allocated to fight crime rather than babysit Code Pink protestors. My opponent was an active participant in Code Pink demonstrations in front of the Marine's recruiting center. As a Peace and Justice Commissioner, she voted to bring that resolution to the Council. She is not telling the residents of District 6 about her involvement in these actions, but it is a matter of public record. Unlike my opponent, I am not an ideologue. I am open to all points of view for dealing with problems. My actions are based on pragmatism, not ideology. 

I love Berkeley and I love our neighborhoods. My years of experience and participation in trying to make Berkeley a better place for all of us are testaments to my commitment to our community. 


East Bay: Then and Now—Will the Real William Heywood Stand Up?

By Daniella Thompson
Thursday October 02, 2008 - 09:51:00 AM
Built in 1917, the Heywood Building at 2014 Shattuck Ave. included offices for its architect, James Plachek, and its owner, William H. Heywood.
Daniella Thompson
Built in 1917, the Heywood Building at 2014 Shattuck Ave. included offices for its architect, James Plachek, and its owner, William H. Heywood.
The Heywood Apartments at 2119 Addison St. were built in 1906 for William B. Heywood.
Daniella Thompson
The Heywood Apartments at 2119 Addison St. were built in 1906 for William B. Heywood.
James Plachek designed 1900 University Ave. in 1915 for William H. Heywood.
Plachek collection, BAHA archives
James Plachek designed 1900 University Ave. in 1915 for William H. Heywood.
Prolific builder George L. Mohr constructed 1921 Walnut St. in 1909 for William B. Heywood.
Daniella Thompson
Prolific builder George L. Mohr constructed 1921 Walnut St. in 1909 for William B. Heywood.
William B. Heywood’s home at 1500 Arch St. was built in 1888 and sold to Captain William Marston four or five years later.
photo courtesy of the Berkeley Historical Society
William B. Heywood’s home at 1500 Arch St. was built in 1888 and sold to Captain William Marston four or five years later.

Lumber magnate Zimri Brewer Heywood was found dead in his bed on July 31, 1879. He was 76 years old and had spent the last two years of his life in Berkeley, presumably at 709 Delaware St. He was buried at Lone Mountain Cemetery in San Francisco, and his death and burial were duly inscribed in the ledger of the Church of the Good Shepherd, of which he was a founding member. 

The previous year, Heywood had contributed $500—the highest cash donation—to the church building fund, which erected the landmark still standing at Ninth St. and Hearst Avenue. The grateful congregation held a commemorative sermon in his honor on Sept. 6, 1879. 

The extent of Zimri’s estate hasn’t been fully documented, but his West Berkeley real-estate holdings alone were substantial, comprising several blocks, including the one occupied by the West Berkeley Lumber Yard (the latter owned by Heywood’s Mendocino Lumber Company), a wharf, and a portion of the Berkeley tidelands. 

Heywood’s second-born and oldest surviving son, William Brewer Heywood (1830-1915), was appointed trustee and collector of the estate, assisted by the eleventh-born, Walter Minturn Heywood (1854-1924). Walter, a realtor, would be occupied with the trusteeship for the rest of his life. 

In 1877, William had formed the Berkeley Land and Building Company with prominent businessmen James L. Barker, George D. Dornin, Alfred Bartlett, and Charles K. Clarke. “They intend to do a Real Estate business in conjunction with building and improvements that will contribute to the growth and prosperity of the town,” announced the Berkeley Advocate. 

William had little time to devote to this business. Managing the Gualala Mill Company and living in Arena Township, Mendocino County, he was away from Berkeley almost continuously during the quarter century following his father’s death. William’s first wife, Salome, drowned in the Oakland Ferry Disaster of July 4, 1868, leaving the widower with two little sons: William Hezekiah and Zimri Brewer. William subsequently married Vienna Thompson, a New Yorker who was recorded as his wife in the 1880 census of Arena. 

In 1888, William, Vienna, and Zimri came to the Bay Area, William taking charge of the Gualala Mill Company’s San Francisco office. Their new home was a Queen Anne Victorian on a triple lot at the southwest corner of Arch and Vine Streets. Zimri (born c. 1866) is said to have been attending the university and to have died about 1892, which prompted his father to sell the house to Captain William H. Marston and return to Gualala. The house would remain in the Marston family until 1937, when it was demolished. 

Vienna Heywood died in Berkeley on Sept. 11, 1898. Her funeral was held at the First Baptist Church, which stood on Allston Way near Oxford Street. William continued to live in Arena, presiding over a large household that included eleven mill employees, a schoolteacher (the local school had been built by the Heywoods), and three Chinese cooks. Living nearby was his surviving son, William Hezekiah (1864-1920), who had married c. 1889, fathered a son, and was the mill’s mechanical engineer. 

In 1903, William’s half-brother, Franklin Heywood (b. 1837), president of the Gualala Mill Company and the Gualala River Railway, committed suicide in his San Francisco bathroom by placing in his mouth a rubber tube attached to an open gas jet. His fortune, valued at $200,000, was left in trust to his estranged wife. It was to be divided after her death, half going to their adopted daughter, the other half shared equally among seven blood relatives. 

As would often happen, the adopted daughter initiated a lawsuit to hasten the distribution of the estate. She also asserted that her rights had been inexcusably neglected by William B. and Walter M. Heywood, executors of the will. The widow weighed in on the opposite side, airing some of the family’s dirty laundry. The tawdry suit dragged on until 1910, when the California Supreme Court upheld Franklin Heywood’s will. 

Possibly as a result of Franklin’s death, the Gualala mill and its railroad were sold to the Empire Redwood Company. William and Hezekiah returned to Berkeley, where the 1904 directory listed them at 1429 Walnut St. They lived here for a year while building a new house at 1401 Walnut, on the corner of Rose Street. Both died in this house. 

In the 1870s, when a ferry pier was first proposed for Berkeley, the Heywoods’ wharf at the foot of Bristol St. (now Hearst Ave.) was passed over in favor of a new one at the foot of University Avenue. Thirty years later, the town trustees wanted a new municipal pier built, and this time the Heywoods were taking no chances. Charles D. Heywood, who ran the West Berkeley Lumber Company, moved his lumber yard and planing mill from Bristol St. to the foot of University Ave., where he built a new lumber wharf next to the old ferry pier. His uncle William emerged as the owner of the old ferry pier and much of the land around it. 

In early 1907, after a bond measure raised $100,000 for a new municipal pier, William Heywood offered to deed his pier to the town for $22,000, reserving for himself the right to access his sheds at the north spur of the pier—the only place where vessels could then tie up—and charge tolls. On Sept. 23, the trustees voted to pay his asking price.  

The Oakland Tribune reported the following day that there was “considerable opposition among prominent business men on the ground that valuable concessions were being granted” to Heywood, but the trustees were persuaded by the opinion of Town Attorney Redmond C. Staats, who determined that the city would have the right to collect fees on wharfage, dockage, and tolls. 

Within a month, the Piper-Aden-Goodall Company, which had been operating freight steamers between San Francisco and West Berkeley for 20 years, alleged that William Heywood was levying the exorbitant charge of 10 cents a ton, double the rate charged elsewhere in the state. “We might as well go out of business,” said the company’s claims agent. Heywood replied that he charged the higher toll just once, when the steamer docked at the West Berkeley Lumber Company’s private wharf. He had given notice that he wanted the use of his warehouses but was willing to allow Piper-Aden-Goodall to build a warehouse of its own at the end of the wharf. The city responded by taking control of the wharf and announcing its intention to appoint a toll collector. 

As Berkeley’s population exploded after the 1906 earthquake, William resumed his real-estate activities. His first venture was the Heywood Apartments at 2119 Addison Street. This three-story red brick building was designated a City of Berkeley Landmark in 2003. 

In July 1908, the Daily Pacific Builder published a contract notice for flats to be built on the southeast corner of University and Grove. The owner was W.B. Heywood, the contractor George L. Mohr, and the projected cost $11,000. Nothing was built on that corner at the time, but in June 1909 construction began on another Heywood apartment house—this one on the southwest corner of the same intersection. The San Francisco Call reported that this building would cost $20,000, contain 40 apartments, and cover a lot of 75 by 150 feet. The Oakland Tribune, on the other hand, tallied the cost at $12,000 and gave floor space dimensions of 37 by 137 feet. 

As shown in the Sanborn fire insurance map of 1911, the actual building constructed at 1846 University Ave. was a long and narrow block with no setbacks, occupying the full length of the lot along Grove Street. It rose to three stories and contained 12 apartments and 24 bay windows. William’s nephew, Charles, moved in right away and was still living there in 1913, after being elected mayor of Berkeley. 

On Aug. 22, 1909, as Berkeley’s new City Hall was about to be dedicated, the Tribune announced that William Heywood was preparing to duplicate his new building on another corner of the University-Grove intersection. “These various contemplated and assured improvements are all due directly to the new city hall and may result in making a new business center of the region bounded by Shattuck, University, Allston Way and Grove Street. In a short time it is probable that this will be thickly built and that the real center of the city will be comprised in these boundaries,” concluded the Tribune. 

The predictions—for the district and for the stalled building on the southeast corner—didn’t come to pass. Berkeley Gazette columnist Hal Johnson would write in 1942 that William “had the lumber on the ground and the foundation started when the City Council decided that the setback line, which then stopped at Allston Way and Grove St., should be extended [to the blocks north of Allston]. The lumber was moved to the southeast corner of Berkeley Way and Home St., now Walnut St. He erected the large building which is now an apartment hotel.” 

Did it really happen as Hal told it? A full month before the Tribune’s announcement of the second building, a building permit had been issued for the final location (no permit has been found for the purported original location), and the Call reported that “C.D. Heywood [sic] is erecting an apartment house at Home Street and Berkeley Way, of four stories.” Since the building on the southeast corner of University and Grove appears to have been planned before its companion across the street, why didn’t Heywood simply move the lumber there instead of five blocks uphill? 

All we know with certainty is that George L. Mohr constructed the clapboard building still standing at 1921 Walnut St., at a cost of $7,000. It was leased to Elizabeth Andruss, a widow whose daughter was studying at U.C. The neighborhood was then a hotbed for new technology. Directly across the street, engineering student William E. de Berry was building a Farman biplane in his back yard and had already received orders for two additional planes. He was planning to establish a factory in South Berkeley and perhaps go into business as an airplane manufacturer after graduation (he ended up as the proprietor of a radio store in San Francisco). 

The building on the southeast corner of University and Grove was eventually built at a cost of $25,000, but not until late 1915, several months after William B. Heywood had been consigned to his grave. The owner was his son, William Hezekiah, who had engaged the architect James W. Plachek for the project. Curiously, this building, delayed seven years, has no setbacks. 

Two years later, Plachek designed for the same client a small, terra cotta-clad jewel at 2014 Shattuck Ave. Designated a City of Berkeley Landmark in 1993, this is the second building that has been erroneously ascribed to William B. Heywood (the first is 1809 Fourth St.). 

William H. Heywood survived his father by only five years. In 1916, he sold 45 acres of waterfront land between Second St. and the tidelands to Hawaiian sugar interests for $75,000. He left a large estate, willing the income from it to his second wife. $5,000 was set aside for his son Leslie, fruit of the first marriage, who had moved to Spokane with his mother over a dozen years earlier. Believed to have fallen in action in France, Leslie Heywood resurfaced two weeks after his father’s death-too late to claim a larger share of the estate. 

This is the third in a series of articles on the Heywood family. 

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


About the House: Knobs, Tubes and French Resistance

By Matt Cantor
Thursday October 02, 2008 - 09:53:00 AM

As the noted theologian Matthew Fox was heard to say, after a year-long, papally-ordered vow of silence, “Now, as I was saying…” 

For those of you who did not follow last-week’s thoughts on early electrical systems, much was said about the overall size of these systems and the somewhat Byzantine elements that make them up, including the scary Frankenstein-style knife switches and the “neutral (or double) fusing” that control these circuits. With your forbearance, let us now continue (or for some, begin) with some talk on the nature of knob and tube wiring. 

If you have a house built before 1950, there is a good chance that it contains some knob and tube wiring. In fact, knob and tube wiring is found in homes running all the way up into the ’60s in some quarters, but was largely wiped out by other types of wiring including B-X armored cable and Romex. These two later forms are fundamentally different from knob and tube in that they are cables or sets of wires in a jacket of metal, fabric or plastic, while knob and tube is a system of wires that run independently to the fixtures in the house, meeting up with opposing wires that complete the various circuits. I’ll be more clear about this as we proceed. 

First, what’s in a name? Why knob and tube? Simply, the knobs and tubes from which we derive the name are insulators. Knobs are surface mounted insulators that nail onto the framing of the house and allow the insulated wires of knob and tube to get tied or sandwiched into place, keeping them snug and safe. The more common sandwiching ones just mentioned are made up of two barrel shapes with a nail passing through both, that when nailed, grip the wire and hold it an inch or two from the wood framing of the house. Tubes allow wires to pass through wooden framing, while keeping the wire away from wood. These do not secure wires, although electricians of your grandfather’s day would tie knots in wires at one end of a tube, thus keeping the wire from being pulled through. 

If it’s not obvious why we insulate wires, it’s because they can get hot. Wires get hot as the load increases as in, say, the case of running an electric heater. The more demand is placed on the system, the more current will flow through the wire and the hotter it gets. This is why we use overcurrent protection such as fuses or breakers. 

Wires get hottest where there is high resistance and resistance is greatest where wires either get smaller (such as in extension cords) or where wires (or other electrical parts) make poor contact with one another (like a failed singles event). Then there is the kind of resistance where people get drunk and sing La Marseillaise while hiding from the Nazis. But I digress. 

Resistance is the bane of electricians and the root cause of most electrical fires, which is why I love knob and tube wiring. Love, you say? But isn’t knob and tube an antiquated wiring from long ago, discarded in favor of safer system? No, I say. It is not. It suffers from the same warrantless ill-repute as many a system usurped by those capable of profiting from the revolt. 

Knob and tube is labor-intensive because it is soldered. And labor costs money. Remember soldering? How old are you now? I’m old enough to remember soldering Heathkit Hobby Radios with my dad and although I never soldered a knob and tube “Western Union” splice. It stunned me, the first time I got a good look at one. Flooded with molten metal, the connection between any two wires in the grid of wiring in these old houses remains just as cool as any other part, if not more so. Typically, it will be junction points, as noted above, that will overheat and lead to sparks or fire. This is why modern wiring connections must take place inside of a junction box.  

Now, junction boxes are pretty smart when we’re ready to be making final connections to switches, lamps or outlets because these connections may have increased resistance for a range of reasons. Not the least of these is that they may be changed over time with little control over diligence. But, where wires are permanently installed in the branches of an electrical system, soldering makes great sense and greatly reduces the need for a “J-box” as we call ‘em. 

Knob and tube systems are also more efficient because they utilize less wire by virtue of their single-path design. By using single conductors, in place of cables, each wire can move on to the next designated site without requiring a trip back to a common junction, as would be the case in modern cable systems.  

Some of what I like about knob and tube is based on observation and not on theory. Having looked at nearly 4,000 houses containing knob and tube, I’ve had ample opportunity to see endemic failures as well as aberrant ones and can site only a tiny number of what I would consider either installer or materials failure. This is a good system and is only lacking in overall size as relates to practical use today.  

Generally, the rubber, cloth-covered insulation on knob and tube wiring tends to be intact and elastic and I’ve yet to see a solder that was pulling apart. The joints are covered with a sticky cloth-covered tape of high quality in nearly every case and it’s rare to see one that’s falling apart. That said, tampering and poorly executed modifications are common.  

The worst of these are those that extend the range of these original circuits. When this is done, it means that the design ratings of the original circuits are violated by being asked to perform tasks beyond their original intent. 

These additions are usually spliced in the modern method of simply twisting wires together (although a wire nut or some tape may have been used) and this connection has higher resistance than the soldered type. Often, the same low-velocity brain that conceived these electrical branches that tap off the existing ones struggles to come up with adequate splicing methods, wire stapling and a range of other creative surprises. So watch out.  

The smarter cookie will leave the knob and tube circuits alone and run new ones from a competent source using modern wiring methods. One elegant result of doing this in an older house is that the new circuits one adds will (and must) be grounded, unlike the original ones. 

Grounding (on outlets, it’s signified by that third roundish prong-hole) isn’t needed for most of your appliances. If you were to lay all your electrical devices out in one place (have you seen those books of people from around the world photographed with all their possessions?) you’d find that only a small fraction have a grounding prong and that most will work just fine in your original two-prong outlets.  

If you add a few new circuits to your old knob and tube system, you will both increase the overall load capacity and accommodate the need for grounding (assuming that you place them where those particular devices live). That list includes major appliances such as dishwashers, refrigerators, microwave ovens and both the washer and dryer, so laundries and kitchens are good places to start. Desktop computers require grounding so one or two new outlets where you place your home office is a good idea too. 

An older knob and tube system can be easily connected to a modern breaker panel by a suitably skilled electrician at the time that new circuits are added. This usually requires an upgrade at the main panel since most older main panels associated with knob and tube lack adequate minimal capacity. 

A last thought that I think is more than a little relevant is the issue of capacity. Current building standards call for every house to be capable of providing 100 amps. This is really quite a lot, although some people will use nearly all the 24,000 watts that this allows. That’s right, this is the same as 240 100-watt bulbs running at the same time or 12 2,000-watt heaters. In practice most people use far less and some use almost none.  

A client of mine some years ago mentioned that he was planning on buying a bicycle powered washing machine. He isn’t the only Berkeley client of mine who’s wading in the shallow end of the grid. Some people just don’t use that much power either by political temperament or by prudence.  

So, when you meet with your electrician, be sure to tell them what you need. There are basic code requirements that they will need to observe but there is, without question, room for choice on your part. Don’t feel that you have to be absorbed by the Borg Collective and bring your entire electrical system up to the most current code. Remember, Resistance (the French kind) is never futile. 


Arts & Events

Arts Calendar

Thursday October 02, 2008 - 09:48:00 AM

THURSDAY, OCT. 2 

EXHIBITIONS 

“Walls” Paintings by Joel Isaacson on contemporary social and political concerns. Reception at 5:30 p.m., artist talk at 6 p.m. at Flora Lamson Hewlett Library, 2400 Ridge Rd. Exhibition runs to Jan. 30. 649-2500. www.gtu.edu 

“Residency Projects, Part 4” Works by Adriane Colburn, Taraneh Hemami, and Leslie Shows, opens at Kala Art Institute, 1060 Heinz Ave., and runs through Nov. 22. 549-2977. www.kala.org 

READINGS AND LECTURES 

Dunbar Ogden discusses his new book “My Father Said Yes: A White Pastor in Little Rock School Integration” at 5:30 p.m. at University Press Books, 2430 Bancroft Way. 548-0585. www.universitypressbooks.com 

“The Power of Words: Musings on ‘Huckelberry Finn’ and Other Works of Literature” with D.L. Asantewa at 6 p.m. at the Richmond Main Library, 325 Civic Center Plaza, Richmond. 620-6555. 

“Punk, Presidential Politics and Art” A conversation between Vail and Jello Biafra in a benefit for the progressive Berkeley Rent Board slate at 7 p.m. at 924 Gilman St., an all-ages, member-run, no alcohol, no drugs, no violence club. Cost is $7-$10. 525-9926. 

“An Evening of Prose and Politics” with Susan Griffin and George Lakoff at 6 p.m. at Albany Library, 1247 Marin Ave. 526-3720, ext. 18. 

MUSIC AND DANCE 

Roots Natty, Miosotis, Royal Family Show at 9:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $10. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

Julian Smedly & Alison Odell at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $18.50-$19.50. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 

Kelly Park & Friends at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $8. 841-JAZZ. www.AnnasJazzIsland.com 

Space Heater, The Sonando Project at 9 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $8-$10. 841-2082. www.starryploughpub.com 

Teed Rockwell, touchstyle fretboard, at 7 p.m. at Caffe Trieste, 2500 San Pablo Ave., at Dwight. 548-5198.  

Adrian Gormley Jazz Ensemble at 10 p.m. at Beckett’s Irish Pub, 2271 Shattuck Ave. 647-1790. www.beckettsirishpub.com 

FRIDAY, OCT. 3 

THEATER 

Altarena Playhouse “Bat Boy: The Musical” Fri. and Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 2 p.m. at Altarena Playhouse, 1409 High St., Alameda, through Nov. 1. Tickets are $17-$20. 523-1553. www.altarena.org 

Berkeley Rep “Yellowjackets” by Itamar Moses, a Berkeley resident, set at Berkeley High School, Tues.-Sun. at the Thrust Stage, 2025 Addison St., through Oct. 19. Tickets are $27-$71. 647-2949. berkeleyrep.org 

California Conservatory Theatre “They’re Playing Our Song” Thurs.-Sat. at 8 p.m., 2 p.m. on Sat. and Sun. at 999 East 14th St, San Leandro City Hall Complex, near BART, through Oct. 12. Tickets are $20-$22. 632-8850. www.cct-sl.org 

Contra Costa Civic Theater “Witness for the Prosecution” Fri. and Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 2 p.m. at 951 Pomona Ave., El Cerrito, through Oct. 19. 524-9132. www.ccct.org  

Impact Theatre “Ching Chong Chinaman” Thurs.-Sat at 8 p.m. at La Val’s Subterranean, to Oct. 11. Tickets are $10-$17. 464-4468. impacttheatre.com 

Masquers Playhouse “Tally’s Folly” Fri. and Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 2:30 p.m. at 105 Park Place, Point Richmond. Tickets are $10. 232-3888. www.masquers.org 

Oakland Public Theater, “Before the Dream: The mysterious death (and life) of Richard Wright” Thurs.-Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 5 p.m. at the Noodle Factory, 1255 26th St., corner of Union, Oakland, through Oct. 5. Tickets are $9-$20. 534-9529. www.brownpapertickets.com 

Ragged Wing Ensemble “The History of the Devil” Fri. and Sat. at 8 p.m. at Central Stage, 5221 Central Ave., Richmond, Through Nov. 1. Tickets are $10-$30. www.raggedwing.org 

Shotgun Players “Vera Wilde” Thurs.-Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 5 p.m. at The Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby Ave., through Oct. 19. Tickets are $17-$25. 841-6500. www.shotgunplayers.org 

EXHIBITIONS 

“Lace Comes of Age” Tape Laces from the 17th to 20th Century. Opening reception at 6 p.m. at Lacis Museum of Lace and textiels, 3163 Adeline St. 843-7178. LacisMuseum.org 

“Look at me Looking at you” Works by Lauren Odell Usher and Heidi Forssell. Opening reception at 6 p.m. at Red Door Gallery and Collective, 416 26th Street, Oakland. 374-0444. 

“Strange Brew” Fantastic and strange art by strange artists, celebrating Halloween and El Dia de los Muertos. Opening reception at 7 p.m. at Eclectix, 10082 San Pablo Ave., El Cerrito. www.eclectixgallery.com 

Eth6 Magazine Issue 3: Contributing Artist Exhibition Reception at 7 p.m. at blankspace, 6608 San Pablo Ave., Oakland. 547-6608. 

Emeryville Art Exhibition Opening reception at 6 p.m. at 5815 Shellmound Way, Emeryville. Exhibition runs to Oct. 26. www.emeryarts.org 

“New Work” Mixed media by JoAnn Biagini, paintings by Catherine Perillo. Opening reception at 6 p.m. at Mercury 20, 25 Grand Ave., Oakland. 701-4620. www.mercurytwenty.com 

“Phenomena of Essence” Works by Keira Kotler, Gretchen Jane Mentzer, Laura Paulini and Dianne Romaine. Opening reception at 6 p.m. at Chandra Cerrito Contemporary, 25 Grand Ave., upper level. Exhibition runs through Nov. 15. www.chandracerrito.com 

“Nature Word ~ Verbe Nature” Photographic silver sun prints by Susannah Hays. Artist reception at 6 p.m. at NoneSuch Space, 2865 Broadway at 29th St., 2nd flr., Oakland. 625-1600. 

“Strictfathermodel” Works by Jordan Essoe Paintings, photographs, sculpture and video. Reception at 7 p.m. at 21 Grand, 416 25th St. at Broadway, Oakland. www.21grand.org 

“Great Wall of Oakland” Illuminated Corridor The lighting of Kahn’s Alley, the entrance to City Hall Plaza bordered by the Oakland Art Gallery and the Rotunda Building, with art, music and film from 7 to 10 p.m. 533-1977. suki@illuminatedcorridor.com 

MUSIC AND DANCE 

La Voz de la Mujer with Dina Omar, a Palestinian-American, Mahina Movement, Las Bomberas de la Bajia at 8 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $10-$12. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

Mazacote at 5 p.m. at Oakland Museum of California, 1000 Oak St., Oakland. Cost is $5-$8. 238-2200. www.museumca.org 

Steve Smith’s Jazz Legacy at 8 p.m. at the Jazzschool. Cost is $20. 845-5373. www.jazzschool.com 

Falso Baiano CD release party at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $14. 841-JAZZ. www.AnnasJazzIsland.com 

Rebecca Riots at 8 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $1-$13. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

Roy Rogers & Norton Buffalo at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $24.50-$25.50. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 

David Kent, Paul H. Taylor & the Montera Mountain Boys at 7:30 p.m. at Nomad Cafe, 6500 Shattuck Ave. 595-5344. www.nomadcafe.net 

The Royal Deuces, The Good Luck Thrift Store Outfit, Big Mistake at 9 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $8. 841-2082. www.starryploughpub.com 

Nekita Germaine at 9 p.m. at Maxwell’s Restaurant and Lounge, 341 13th St., Oakland. Cost is $15. 839-6169. 

Paul Baribeau, Good Luck, Fischer at 8 p.m. at 924 Gilman St., an all-ages, member-run, no alcohol, no drugs, no violence club. Cost is $5. 525-9926. 

Ben Stolorow at 8:30 p.m. at Jupiter. 843-8277. 

Jerry Kennedy, acoustic soul, at 7:30 p.m. at 33 Revolutions, 10086 San Pablo Ave., El Cerrito. 898-1836. 

Powell St. John, Americana/ 

roots at 8 p.m. at Caffe Trieste, 2500 San Pablo Ave., at Dwight. 548-5198.  

Moe Provencher at 10 p.m. at Beckett’s Irish Pub, 2271 Shattuck Ave. 647-1790. www.beckettsirishpub.com 

Mo’Fone at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 843-8277. 

SATURDAY, OCT. 4 

CHILDREN  

Los Amiguitos de La Peña with Derique the clown at 10:30 a.m. at La Peña. Cost is $5 for adults, $4 for children. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

“The Girl Who Lost Her Smile” Performance based on Rumi’s poem Sat. and Sun. at 12:30 and 3:30 p.m. at Children’s Fairyland, 699 Bellevue Ave., Oakland. Cost is $6. 452-2259. www.fairyland.org 

THEATER 

Stone Soup Improv Comedy at 8 p.m. at Temescal Arts Center, 511 48th St. at Telegraph, Oakland. Cost is $6-$9. www.stonesoupimprov.com 

EXHIBITIONS 

“Quilts” by Jennifer Snedeker. Opening reception at 2 p.m. at Tilden Nature Center, Tilden Park. 525-2233. 

“L.A. Paint” Current SoCal painting by eleven artists opens at Oakland Museum of California, 1000 Oak St., Oakland. Cost is $5-$8. 238-2200. www.museumca.org 

FILM 

“Love it Like a Fool” a film about Malvina Reynolds, Berkeley songwriter and political activist at 2 p.m. at Berkeley Public Library, 2090 Kittredge at Shattuck. 981-6241. 

Jewish Film Series “My Nose” and “Home on the Range: Jewish Chicken Farmers of Petaluma” at 7 p.m. at Temple Israel, 3183 Mecartney Rd., Alameda. Cost is $10. 522-9355. 

READINGS AND LECTURES 

Bay Area Poets Coalition open reading from 3 to 5 pm. at Strawberry Creek Lodge, 1320 Addison St. Park on the street. 527-9905. 

MUSIC AND DANCE 

Bring Down the House for Berkeley High! with the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choirs and Berkeley High School student performers at 7:30 p.m. at BHS’s Schwimley Little Theater, Allston Way at MLK Jr. Way. Tickets are $15-$25. 800-838-3006. 

Francisco Herrera and Jon Fromer, singer/songwriters, in a benefit concert to close the School of the Americas at 7 p.m. at St. Joseph the Worker Church, 1640 Addison St. 843-2244. 

Eric Hamilton, classical guitar, at 8 p.m. at Trinity Chapel, 2320 Dana St. Tickets are $8-$12. 549-3864. www.trinitychamberconcerts.com 

Sandra Soderlund, organ music at 8 p.m. at Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley, One Lawson Road, Kensington. Suggested donation $10-$15. 525-0302. 

Nino Moschella, Melina Jones, Do Dat & Isis at 9 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $7-$10. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

Jazz Express at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $12. 841-JAZZ. www.AnnasJazzIsland.com 

Dave Ridnell & Friends, Brazilian jazz, at 7:30 p.m. at 33 Revolutions, 10086 San Pablo Ave., El Cerrito. 898-1836. 

Burlesque ‘n’ Brass, featuring Hot Pink Feathers & Blue Bone Express, Orleans-inspired jazz, at 9 p.m. at Café Van Kleef, 1621 Telegraph Ave., Oakland. Cost is $10. 763-7711. 

Sambada at 9 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $10-$13. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com  

Sotaque Baiano, Brazilian, at 9 p.m. at Shattuck Down Low, 2284 Shattuck Ave. Cost is $5-$10. 548-1159. www.shattuckdownlow.com 

Jessie Rubin, Sheila O’Toole at 7:30 p.m. at Nomad Cafe, 6500 Shattuck Ave. 595-5344. www.nomadcafe.net 

Cascada de Flores at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $18.50-$19.50. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 

Howard Wiley: A Tribute to Dexter Gordon, Part Deux at 8 p.m. at the Jazzschool. Cost is $15-$18. 845-5373. www.jazzschool.com 

Gateswingers Jazz Band at 4 p.m. at 33 Revolutions, 10086 San Pablo Ave., El Cerrito. 898-1836.  

Hoe, The Shelley Doty X-Tet at 9 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $9. 841-2082. www.starryploughpub.com 

Endless Demise, Parasytic, Untill the Fall at 8 p.m. at 924 Gilman St., an all-ages, member-run, no alcohol, no drugs, no violence club. Cost is $5. 525-9926. 

Planet Loop at 10 p.m. at Beckett’s Irish Pub, 2271 Shattuck Ave. 647-1790. www.beckettsirishpub.com 

Wayne Shorter Quartet featuring Brian Blade, John Patitucci and Danilo Perez at 8 and 10 p.m. at Yoshi’s at Jack London Square, through Sun. Cost is $60-$70. 238-9200.  

SUNDAY, OCT. 5 

CHILDREN 

Active Arts Theatre for Young Audiences “How I Became a Pirate” at 2 and 4 p.m. at Julia Morgan Center for the Arts, 2640 College Ave. Tickets are $14-$18. www.activeartstheatre.org 

FILM 

Talk Cinema Berkeley Preview of new independent films with dscussion afterwards at 10 a.m. at Albany Twin Theater, 1115 Solano Ave., Albany. Cost is $20. http://talkcinema.com 

“Taxi to the Dark Side” A film on the torture practices of the United States at 4 p.m. at Townsend Center for the Humanities, 220 Stephens Hall, UC campus. 642-0965. 

READINGS AND LECTURES 

Poetry Flash with Ellen Bass and Jane Hirshfield at 3 p.m. at Diesel, A Bookstore, 5433 College Ave., Oakland. 653-9965. www.dieselbookstore.com 

MUSIC AND DANCE 

Richard Goode, piano, at 3 p.m. at Zellerbach Hall, UC Campus. Tickets are $34-$62. 642-9988.  

Afiara String Quartet at 4 p.m. at Crowden Music Center, 1475 Rose St. Cost is $12. Free for under 18. 559-2941. concerts@crowden.org 

Jewish Music Festival with members of the SF Opera and SF Symphony at 7:30 p.m. at the Jewish Community Center of the East Bay, 1414 Walnut St. For ticket information call 800-838-3006. 

Sugarspun, indie rock, at 2 p.m. at 33 Revolutions, 10086 San Pablo Ave., El Cerrito. 898-1836. 

Phil Hawkins CD release party at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $12. 841-JAZZ.  

Trick Kernan Combo at 11 a.m. at Nomad Cafe, 6500 Shattuck Ave. 595-5344.  

Eono Kane, Hawaiian music, at 3:30 p.m. at Temple Bar Tiki Bar & Grill, 984 University Ave. Cost is $12. Reservations recommended. 524-6403. 

Fasmania at 4:30 p.m. at the Jazzschool. Cost is $18. 845-5373. www.jazzschool.com 

MONDAY, OCT. 6 

EXHIBITIONS 

“Diversity” Artwork by over 70 artists with developmental disabilities, on display to Dec. 1 at Joseph P. Bort MetroCenter, 3rd flr., 101 Eighth St., Oakland. 817-5773. 

READINGS AND LECTURES 

Cosme Castanieto, Hawaiian healer, reads from his memoir, “The Mystical Kiss of God” at 7 p.m. at Rebecca’s Books, 3268 Adeline St. 853-4768. 

“Observations: Bay Area Buildings, Architecture and Planning” an illustrated talk by Susan Cerny, author of “An Architectural Guidebook to San Francisco and the Bay Area” at 7:30 p.m. at The Hillside Club, 2286 Cedar St. at Arch, Berkeley. Free. 644-2967. www.hillsideclub.org 

MUSIC AND DANCE 

Trovatore, traditional Italian music, at 7 p.m. at Caffe Trieste, 2500 San Pablo Ave., at Dwight. 548-5198.  

Bill Staines at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage Coffee House. Cost is $18.50-$19.50. 548-1761 www.freightandsalvage.org 

Downtown Jam Session with Glen Pearson at 7 p.m. at Ed Kelly Hall, Oakland Public Conservatory of Music, 1616 Franklin St., Oakland. Cost is $5. www.opcmucsic.org 

George Cole, gypsy jazz, at 8 p.m. at 33 Revolutions, 10086 San Pablo Ave., El Cerrito. 898-1836. 

Mark Murphy with Jonathan Poretz & 12 Piece Band at 8 and 10 p.m. at Yoshi’s at Jack London Square. Cost is $55. 238-9200. www.yoshis.com 

TUESDAY, OCT. 7 

FILM 

New Deal Film Festival The Dust Bowl Years “Grapes of Wrath” at 1 p.m. at North Berkeley Senior Center, 1901 Hearst. Sponsored by the Berkeley Gray Panthers. 548-9696. 

“The Power of Myth in Movies” with Richard Stromer, first Tues. of the month, through May at 7:30 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley, 1 Lawson Rd., Kensington. Cost is $40. To register call 528-3417. 

READINGS AND LECTURES 

Seymour Hersh at 8 p.m. at Zellerbach Hall, UC Campus. Tickets are $20-$32. 642-9988. www.calperformances.net 

MUSIC AND DANCE 

The Cajun Cottonpickers at 8:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cajun dance lesson at 8 p.m. Cost is $10. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

Singers’ Open Mic with Kelly Park at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $5. 841-JAZZ. www.AnnasJazzIsland.com 

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

Delfaeyo Marsalis at 8 and 10 p.m. at Yoshi’s at Jack London Square. Cost is $10. 238-9200. www.yoshis.com 

WEDNESDAY, OCT. 8 

EXHIBITIONS 

“Evolution of a Sacred Space: Días de los Muertos 2008” opens at Oakland Museum of California, 1000 Oak St., Oakland. Cost is $5-$8. 238-2200. www.museumca.org 

THEATER 

Druid Theater Company “The Playboy of the Western World” and “The Shadow of the Glen” Wed.-Fri. at 8 p.m., Sat. at 2 and 8 p.m., Sun. at 3 p.m. at The Roda Theater, 2025 Addison St. Tickets are $75. 642-9988. 

 

 

READINGS AND LECTURES 

Michael Palmer, Barbara Jane Reyes, Joe Wenderorth and other poets read from “State of the Union: 50 Political Poems” at 7:30 p.m. at Pegasus Books Downtown, 2349 Shattuck Ave. 649-1320. 

Cafe Poetry at 7:30 p.m. at La Peña. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

Berkeley Poetry Slam with host Charles Ellik and Three Blind Mice, at 8:30 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $7. 841-2082 www.starryploughpub.com 

MUSIC AND DANCE 

Wednesday Noon Concert, new choral music by Berkeley composers with The Ateneo Chamber Singers at Hertz Hall, UC Campus. Free. 642-4864. http://music.berkeley.edu 

Underscore Orkestra, Balkan, gypsy, world at 9 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $10. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

Liz Story at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $22.50-$22.50. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 

Ken Husbands Group at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $10. 841-JAZZ. www.AnnasJazzIsland.com 

Bill Evans and Megan Lynch, bluegrass fiddle and banjo, at 7 p.m. at Le Bateau Ivre, 2629 Telegraph Ave. www.lebateauivre.net 

Orquestra Sensual 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.  

Atmos Trio, jazz, at 8 p.m. at 33 Revolutions, 10086 San Pablo Ave., El Cerrito. 898-1836. 

Delfaeyo Marsalis at 8 and 10 p.m. at Yoshi’s at Jack London Square. Cost is $10. 238-9200. www.yoshis.com 

THURSDAY, OCT. 9 

EXHIBITIONS 

“Residency Projects, Part 4” Works by Adriane Colburn, Taraneh Hemami, and Leslie Shows. Opening reception at 6 p.m. at Kala Art Institute, 1060 Heinz Ave. Exhibition runs through Nov. 22. 549-2977. www.kala.org 

”Human Form in a Wild World” Mixed media exhibition of wild animals and human figures in dream-like settings. Closing reception at 5 p.m. at Bucci’s, 6121 Hollis St., Emeryville. 547-4725. 

READINGS AND LECTURES 

Martin Sanchez-Jankowski discusses his new book “Cracks in the Pavement: Social Change & Resilience in Poor Neighborhoods” at 6 p.m. at University Press Books, 2430 Bancroft Way. 548-0585. www.universitypressbooks.com 

Therese Poletti on “The Art Deco Architecture of Timothy Pfueger” at 7:30 p.m. at Chapel of the Chimes, 4499 Piedmont Ave. Sponsored by Oakland Heritage Alliance. Cost is $8-$10. 763-9218. 

Paul Ekman reads from “Emotional Awareness: Overcoming the Obstacles to Psychological Balance and Compassion” written in collaoration with the Dalai Lama, at 7:30 p.m. at Mrs. Dalloways, 2904 College Ave. 704-8222. 

Spoken Word Open Mic at 7:30 p.m. at Nomad Cafe, 6500 Shattuck Ave. 595-5344. www.nomadcafe.net 

MUSIC AND DANCE 

Kitka “Lullabies and Songs of Childhood” at 8 p.m. at St. Paul’s Church, 114 Montecito Ave. Tickets are $18-$25. 444-0323. www.kitka.org 

Big Light, Steve Taylor at 9 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $8-$10. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

Cesaria Evora at 8 p.m. at Zellerbach Hall, UC Campus. Tickets are $26-$48. 642-9988. www.calperformances.net 

Christine Lavin at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $22.50-$23.50. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 

Russ Lorenson & His Trio at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $8. 841-JAZZ. www.AnnasJazzIsland.com 

Alter Ego at 7 p.m. at Caffe Trieste, 2500 San Pablo Ave., at Dwight. 548-5198.  

Alma Desnuda, Suburban Fix, Raya Nova, world psychedelic groove, at 9 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $9. 841-2082. www.starryploughpub.com 

Theresa Perez, Steve Taylor-Ramirez, Alfredo Gomez, in a tribute to José Alfredo Jiménez at 7:30 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $6-$8. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

Adrian West Trio, electric violin, at 7:30 p.m. at 33 Revolutions, 10086 San Pablo Ave., El Cerrito. 898-1836. 

The Dave G Following at 10 p.m. at Beckett’s Irish Pub, 2271 Shattuck Ave. 647-1790. www.beckettsirishpub.com 

Bill Frisell at 8 and 10 p.m., through Sun. at Yoshi’s at Jack London Square. Cost is $20-$24. 238-9200. www.yoshis.com 

FRIDAY, OCT. 10 

THEATER 

Altarena Playhouse “Bat Boy: The Musical” Fri. and Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 2 p.m. at Altarena Playhouse, 1409 High St., Alameda, through Nov. 1. Tickets are $17-$20. 523-1553. www.altarena.org 

Berkeley Rep “Yellowjackets” by Itamar Moses, a Berkeley resident, set at Berkeley High School, Tues.-Sun. at the Thrust Stage, 2025 Addison St., through Oct. 12. Tickets are $27-$71. 647-2949. berkeleyrep.org 

California Conservatory Theatre “They’re Playing Our Song” Thurs.-Sat. at 8 p.m., 2 p.m. on Sat. and Sun. at 999 East 14th St, San Leandro City Hall Complex, near BART, through Oct. 12. Tickets are $20-$22. 632-8850. www.cct-sl.org 

Contra Costa Civic Theater “Witness for the Prosecution” Fri. and Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 2 p.m. at 951 Pomona Ave., El Cerrito, through Oct. 19. 524-9132. www.ccct.org  

Druid Theater Company “The Playboy of the Western World” and “The Shadow of the Glen” Wed.-Fri. at 8 p.m., Sat. at 2 and 8 p.m., Sun. at 3 p.m. at The Roda Theater, 2025 Addison St. Tickets are $75. 642-9988. 

Galatean Players Ensemble Theater “Rivets” A musical based on Rosie the Riveter and Richmond’s Kaiser Shipyards, Thurs.-Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 3 p.m. onboard the SS Red Oak Victory, 1337 Canal Blvd., Berth 6A, Richmond, through Oct. 26. Tickets are $20. 925-676-5705. galateanplayers.com 

Impact Theatre “Ching Chong Chinaman” Thurs.-Sat at 8 p.m. at La Val’s Subterranean, to Oct. 11. Tickets are $10-$17. 464-4468. impacttheatre.com 

Ragged Wing Ensemble “The History of the Devil” Fri. and Sat. at 8 p.m. at Central Stage, 5221 Central Ave., Richmond, Through Nov. 1. Tickets are $10-$30. www.raggedwing.org 

Shotgun Players “Vera Wilde” Thurs.-Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 5 p.m. at The Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby Ave., through Oct. 19. Tickets are $17-$25. 841-6500. www.shotgunplayers.org 

UC Dept. of Theater “Measure for Measure” Fri. and Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 2 p.m. to Oct. 19 at Zellerbach Playhouse, UC campus. Tickets are $10-$15. 642-8827. 

EXHIBITIONS 

“Resuscitation” Group show of work in discarded materials. Opening reception at 6 p.m. at ACCI Gallery, 1652 Shattuck Ave. 843-2527. 

Landscape Art Show Preview at 7:30 p.m. at Hillside Club, 2286 Cedar St. Cost is $25. 644-2967.  

“Manifest Dreams” Contemporary Aboriginal art on display at Gaia Arts Center, 2120 Allston Way, through Jan. 6. 665-0305. 

FILM 

“Johnny Got His Gun” a new film version of the anti-war novel at Shattuck Theater. www.JohnnyGotHisGuntheMovie.com 

“The Battleship Potempkin” at 6:30 p.m. at the Pacific Film Archive. Cost is $5.50-$9.50. 642-0808. www.bampfa.berkeley.edu 

READINGS AND LECTURES 

Judy Wells and Gail Ford will read their poetry at 7 p.m. at Nefeli Caffe, 1854 Euclid Ave., a little north of Hearst. 841-6374.  

MUSIC AND DANCE 

Stefan and Friends Acoustic Jam At 8 p.m. at First Unitarian Church of Oakland, 685 14th St. Tickets are $14-$18. www.brownpapertickets.com/event/39763 

University Symphony Orchestra at 8 p.m. at Hertz Hall, UC Campus. Tickets are $5-$15. 642-4864. http://music.berkeley.edu 

Aluna, Columbian folkloric band at 7:30 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $15-$25. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

Cesaria Evora at 8 p.m. at Zellerbach Hall, UC Campus. Tickets are $26-$48. 642-9988. www.calperformances.net 

John Yi Quartet at 8 p.m. at the Jazzschool. Cost is $12. 845-5373. www.jazzschool.com 

Vicki Burns CD release party at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $14. 841-JAZZ. www.AnnasJazzIsland.com 

Youssoupha Sidibe with Markius James & the Wassonrai at 9:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $12-$15. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

Pam & Jeri at 8 p.m. at Caffe Trieste, 2500 San Pablo Ave., at Dwight. 548-5198.  

Wylie & the Wild West at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $18.50-$19.50. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 

Glow In The Dark, Chris Ahlman at 7:30 p.m. at Nomad Cafe, 6500 Shattuck Ave. 595-5344. www.nomadcafe.net 

Kate Gaffney, Grace Woods Trio Aeode, in a benefit for Women Rock at 9 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $10. 841-2082. www.starryploughpub.com 

The New Trust, Build Us Airplanes, Cannons and Clouds at 8 p.m. at 924 Gilman St., an all-ages, member-run, no alcohol, no drugs, no violence club. Cost is $5. 525-9926. 

The Strangers at 10 p.m. at Beckett’s Irish Pub, 2271 Shattuck Ave. 647-1790. www.beckettsirishpub.com 

Jerry Kennedy, acoustic soul, at 7:30 p.m. at 33 Revolutions, 10086 San Pablo Ave., El Cerrito. 898-1836. 

PZ, Equipto at 9 p.m. at Shattuck Down Low, 2284 Shattuck Ave. Cost is $5-10. 548-1159.  

Terrence Brewer Trio at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 843-8277. 

SATURDAY, OCT. 11 

CHILDREN  

Los Amiguitos de La Peña with Jerry Kennedy, blues and soul, at 10:30 a.m. at La Peña. Cost is $5 for adults, $4 for children. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

“Aesop’s Fables” Sat. and Sun. at 12:30 and 3:30 p.m. at Children’s Fairyland, 699 Bellevue Ave., Oakland. Cost is $6. 452-2259. www.fairyland.org 

THEATER 

“Stories of East & West” with Japan’s Playback A-Z and Oakland’s Living Arts Theatre Ensemble in improvised theater, at 8 p.m. at Laney College Theater, 900 Fallon St., Oakland. Tickets are $10-$18. 595-5500, ext. 25. 

“How My Grandmother Found a Story in a Plate” performance by Patricia Bulitt at 1 p.m. at South Branch, Berkeley Public Library, 1901 Russell St. at MLK Jr. Way. Suitable for all ages. 981-6107. 

EXHIBITIONS 

Landscape Art Show Sat. and Sun. from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Hillside Club, 2286 Cedar St. 644-2967. 

Bronze Casting Art Show Bronze pouring demonstrations at 9 and 10 p.m. at Berkeley Art Complex, 729 Heinz St. Tours of foundry at 7 p.m. 644-2735. www.artworksfoundry.com 

“Color Explosion” Works exploring the dynamics of color and light. Opening reception at 6 p.m. at Expressions Gallery, 2035 Ashby Ave. 644-4930. 

The Compositional “X” Recent work by Jon Kwak. Artist reception at 4 p.m. at Auto Row Smog Gallery, 3060 Broadway, Oakland. 451-7664. 

The Compound Studio Artists Opening reception at 6 p.m. at The Compound Gallery, 6604 San Pablo Ave., Oakland. 655-9019. www.thecompoundgallery.com 

READINGS AND LECTURES 

Wendy Lee reads from “Happy Family” a novel about a Chinese immigrant in New York at 3:30 p.m. at Eastwind Books of Berkeley, 2066 University Ave. 548-2350. 

Haruki Murakami reads from his works and talks about his writing process at 8 p.m. at Zellerbach Hall, UC Campus. Tickets are $16-$30. 642-9988. www.calperformances.net 

MUSIC AND DANCE 

Breath of Asia, traditional and contemporary Vietnamese music, at 2:30 p.m. at Oakland Museum of California, 1000 Oak St., Oakland. Cost is $13-$18. 238-2200. www.museumca.org 

Artists’ Vocal Ensemble “St. Francis of Assisi: Musings on a New World Order” at 8 p.m. at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, 2300 Bancroft Way. Tickets are $10-$20. www.ave-music.org 

Eighth Annual Harvest of Song at 7:30 p.m. at Berkeley Art Center, 1275 Walnut St. Pre-concert discussion at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $12-$15. 644-6893. www.berkeleyartcenter.org 

University Symphony Orchestra at 8 p.m. at Hertz Hall, UC Campus. Tickets are $5-$15. 642-4864. http://music.berkeley.edu 

MamacoAtl, Paul Flores & Los Nadies “The Immigrant Experience” at 8 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $10-$12. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

Upsurge Jazz & Poetry at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $12. 841-JAZZ. www.AnnasJazzIsland.com 

Lakay & Mystic Man, Faux Mojo at 9:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $10-$15. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com  

Carolyn Dowd, Americana, at 7 p.m. at 33 Revolutions, 10086 San Pablo Ave., El Cerrito. 898-1836. 

Ryan Grandfield, Pine at 7:30 p.m. at Nomad Cafe, 6500 Shattuck Ave. 595-5344. www.nomadcafe.net 

Gyan Riley Trio at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $18.50-$19.50. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 

Mads Tolling Trio “Jazz Violin 101” at 8 p.m. at the Jazzschool. Cost is $15. 845-5373. www.jazzschool.com 

George Cotsirilos Jazz Trio at 9:30 p.m. at Albatross, 1822 San Pablo Ave. Cost is $3. 843-2473. www.albatrosspub.com 

The Stairwell Sisters, The Earl Brothers at 9 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $10. 841-2082. www.starryploughpub.com 

CV Dub at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 843-8277. 

One Way System, Poop, Resilience 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. 

Bill Frisell at 8 and 10 p.m., through Sun. at Yoshi’s at Jack London Square. Cost is $20-$24. 238-9200. www.yoshis.com 

SUNDAY, OCT. 12 

THEATER 

“How the West Was Won” with Charlie Hill, Native American comedian and Gary Aylesworth at 7 p.m. at Laney College Theater, 900 Fallon St. Benefit for East Bay Waldorf School. For ticket information call 243-0797. iricbridges@aol.com 

READINGS AND LECTURES 

“Art Connections: Robert Williams” A conversation with the artist on his works in the current exhibition “L.A. Paint” at 2 p.m. at Oakland Museum of California, 1000 Oak St., Oakland. Free admission. 238-2200. www.museumca.org 

Diane Johnson reads from her new novel “Lulu in Marrakech: at 3 p.m. at Mrs. Dalloways, 2904 College Ave. 704-8222. 

Architecture Tour of the buildings and grounds designed by Kevin Roche and Dan Kiley at 1 p.m. at Oakland Museum of California, 1000 Oak St., Oakland. Free Admission. 238-2200. www.museumca.org 

Eth6 Magazine Issue 3:Contributing Artist Exhibition Readings at 2 p.m. at blankspace, 6608 San Pablo Ave., Oakland. 547-6608. 

“Everyone Has a Story to Tell” John Fox will discuss “Memory Lab” a Jewish digital narrative project at 2 p.m. at Magnes Museum, 2911 Russell St. Cost is $6-$8. RSVP to 549-6950 ext. 345. 

MUSIC AND DANCE 

Eighth Annual Harvest of Song at 7:30 p.m. at Berkeley Art Center, 1275 Walnut St. Pre-concert discussion at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $12-$15. 644-6893. www.berkeleyartcenter.orgLive Oak Concerts presents the Eighth Annual Harvest of Song 

The Ateneo Chamber Singers at 4 p.m. at St. Joseph the Worker Church, 1640 Addision St. Tickets are $15-$20. 843-2244. 

The Prometheus Symphony Orchestra presents Tchaikovsky Symphony No.4, Copland’s Variations on a Shaker Melody, and Two Suites for Orchestra by Stravinsky at 3 p.m. at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 114 Montecito Ave., Oakland. www.prometheussymphony.org 

“On The Nature Of Nature” a concert featuring new experimental instruments composed and performed by Krystyna Bobrowski, Dan Dugan, Guillermo Galindo and Wendy Reid at 8 p.m. in the Garden of the Oakland Museum of California, 1000 Oak St. TIckets are $15-$20. www.museumca.org 

Catie Curtis at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $20.50-$21.50. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 

La Peña Community Chorus Cabaret at 7:30 p.m. at La Peña. Cost is $15. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

Zarate Project at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $10. 841-JAZZ. www.AnnasJazzIsland.com 

Garrick Davis at 11 a.m. at Nomad Cafe, 6500 Shattuck Ave. 595-5344. www.nomadcafe.net 

Mercury Dimes, family square dance at 3 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $4-$6. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

Yehudit at 4:30 p.m. at the Jazzschool. Cost is $12-$15. 845-5373. www.jazzschool.com 

Zap Guru, jazz, rock, jam at 2 p.m. at 33 Revolutions, 10086 San Pablo Ave., El Cerrito. 898-1836. 

The Ravines at 3 p.m. at Spud’s Pizza, 3290 Adeline St. at Alcatraz. www.spudspizza.net 

 


Gospel Concert Benefits Berkeley High

By Ken Bullock Special to the Planet
Thursday October 02, 2008 - 09:40:00 AM

“Bringing Down the House for Berkeley High,” a benefit fundraiser for the Berkeley High School Development Group, featuring gospel and spirituals by the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir, will be held Saturday in the school’s Schwimley Little Theater, Allston Way at Martin Luther King, Jr. Way. 

The event features a special 20-plus Student Gospel Choir to open the show, directed by choir soloist and JazzSchool instructor Trelawny Rose and the Oakland Interfaith Youth Gospel Choir with student dancers directed by Berkeley High Afro-Haitian dance instructor (and director of Oakland’s Diamano Coura Dance Co.) Naomi Washington-Diouf. 

In addition to the four performing groups, Berkeley High history teacher Wendell Brooks, an archivist of African-American music, will comment, along with other community members, on gospel and spirituals and the roots of American music, and sing a solo, “Great Gittin’ Up Mornin’ ” Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir artistic director Terrance Kelly will lead a sing-along, inviting the audience to join in.  

Among the goals of the concert, besides “raising sorely needed funds for Berkeley High’s student educational resources,” is sparking interest in a “renaissance” of choral music, including a gospel choir, at the 3,200-student school, which has had no choral music program since 2004.  

“Choral Arts is still listed in the curriculum,” said Mary Ford, chair for the event, “But it’s not being offered. Michael Morgan, music director and conductor for both Oakland East Bay Symphony and Festival Opera, expressed surprise and concern when he heard there’s no choral program at Berkeley High. It’s cost efficient, besides being uplifting and transformative, which is what singing with other people is all about.” 

Rose, a 20-year Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir veteran (soloist, ensemble and board member) who has been singing “since I was in first grade,” got the ball rolling for “Bringing Down the House” after reflecting on attending school arts programs.  

“My son’s in the Afro-Haitian Dance program, and I attended both concerts last year, thinking how incredible—so deep, so rich, so talented. But I noticed at different events how the audience would reflect overwhelmingly either the African-American or the white community, with just a few others not from whichever group dominated,” she said. “I asked myself what I could do to help with this two world thing. I knew the choir was something the community at large knows. It’s 23 years old, with awards and three CDs—and everybody understands its music and spirit, which bring people to tears. So I took the idea of a benefit to the Development Group, to try to find sponsorship, community support to broaden audiences and get them involved.” 

A volunteer organization with its first fundraising gala under its belt last spring, the Development Group began talking about the benefit “and things got moving in August.” Ford mentioned four others in particular who have been key to putting on the event: Rosemary Richie, Karen McKie, Fiona Hamer and Marjorie Alvord.  

“I started all this feeling self-righteous about it,” Ford said, “And now I feel totally humble. I can’t imagine how they accomplish what they do on the resources they have.”  

Concerning the future of a gospel choir at Berkeley High, she said, “It may have to start out as a club, then get back in the curriculum, along with more eclectic repertoire. We’re trying to get funding and a parents’ group to sponsor it. That’s how the Jazz program does it.”  

Mentioning that support has begun to come from different quarters, including the New Spirit Church at the Pacific School of Religion, Ford remarked, “Arts in public schools so often gets marginalized, and it takes a will of iron to navigate back, though there’s even research that it’s good for us—besides knowing that in our gut.” 

BRINGING DOWN THE HOUSE FOR BERKELEY HIGH 

A fundraiser for the Berkeley High School Development Group featuring the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir. 7: 30 p.m. Saturday at  

Schwimley Little Theater, Berkeley High School, Allston Way at Martin Luther King, Jr. Way. For group and discounted tickets, contact Edith Jordan in Student Activities, 644-8990. 


By Ken Bullock

Druid Theatre Brings 'The Playboy of the Western World' to Rep
Thursday October 02, 2008 - 09:42:00 AM

Druid Theatre Co. of Galway on Ireland’s West Coast—the first professional theater company in Ireland outside Dublin—will present their celebrated staging of John Millington Synge’s comic masterpiece, The Playboy of the Western World (1907), along with Synge’s earlier short play, The Shadow of Glen, next week, presented by CalPerformances in association with Berkeley Rep. 

Druid (their official one word name), co-founded in 1975 by Garry Hynes, who directed Playboy as Druid’s first production when the company was a summer theater, is noted for their DruidSynge day-long marathon in 2005, which toured cities in Ireland, Scotland and the U.S. Conceived and directed by Hynes, DRUIDSYNGE staged all six plays of Synge’s short career (he died in 1909 at 37) in a single performance, a first in producing Synge’s work. 

Hynes has referred to him as “our house playwright.” 

Synge, born near Dublin, was originally a violinist who first pursued an unsuccessful music career in Germany, then moved to Paris to study literature at the Sorbonne, where W. B. Yeats met him, translating Petrarch and writing poetry. At Yeats’ bidding, Synge returned to Ireland and lived in the Aran Islands to collect folktales, later setting some of his plays there and elsewhere in the West. When Yeats and Lady Gregory founded the Irish National Theatre in 1905, Synge’s plays were produced to derision by Irish nationalists, and PLAYBOY’s premiere, Jan. 26, 1907, is famous in modern Irish history as “the Playboy Riots.” Future president of the Irish Free State Arthur Griffin called it vile and foul-mouthed, which Synge countered by saying that in Paris there was sex on stage without other elements, in Ireland “the other elements without the sex. I restored sex and people were so surprised, they saw the sex only.” His later play, The Tinker's Wedding wasn’t staged in Ireland until Synge’s centennial in 1971. His plays influenced other playwrights, including Samuel Beckett, Federico Garcia Lorca in Spain (whose Blood Wedding was modeled on Synge’s Riders to the Sea, which also influenced Eugene O’Neill), and those employing ethnic idioms and folk customs everywhere, including writers of the Harlem Renaissance.. 

Playboy, based on incidents Synge heard of in Western Ireland, concerns a young man who becomes a celebrity when he arrives in a County Mayo town, declaring he’s killed his father. Shadow of the Glen tells of a man who fakes his own death, exposes his wife’s infidelity and turns her out in winter, taken from the folk stories Synge collected. 

Garry Hynes, the first woman to win a Tony Award (in 1998 for Martin McDonagh’s THE BEAUTY QUEEN OF LEENANE), past artistic director of the Abbey Theatre (where Playboy originally premiered) and close professional associate of playwright Tom Murphy, whose Bailegangaire, directed by Hynes, turned out to be “the swan song” for the great Siobhan McKenna, commented on Synge and on present-day Irish theater, placing Synge as part of the great European theatrical tradition, closely related to then-current plays and prefigures more modern ones. “I think his Well of the Saints reads today more like it was influenced by Beckett than the other way around.” On working with Martin McDonagh, Hynes remarked, “When I originally read his scripts, I knew immediately that here was a distinctive voice, extraordinarily skilled in storytelling and dialogue. We worked together for six months on the production of The Beauty Queen; he sat in on rehearsals. I don’t think he could write in the way he does without such close involvement.”  

Of Tom Murphy, Hynes says, “I think he’s one of the great writers of the 20th century.” 

Commenting on the imbroglio that Playboy originally met with, Hynes says, “Ireland has undergone an entire change. In the past, the Catholic Church was the central moral authority. That’s entirely disappeared. Ireland’s so transformed in every possible way, it would be hard to recognize the way it was, 20 years ago.” 

And asked about her approach to the humor of plays like A Streetcar Named Desire (which she directed at the Kennedy Center), Hynes said, “I approached it like a play written today, not as a great classic. The humor in it is the humor of the human situation; you have to create the situation for the humor to make sense.” 

THE PLAYBOY OF THE WESTERN WORLD 

THE SHADOW OF THE GLEN 

Wed. (Oct. 8)-Fri. (Oct. 10), 8 p. m.; Sat (Oct. 11) 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.; Sun. (Oct. 12), 3 p.m. 

The Roda Theatre, 2025 Addison St. 

Tickets $75 

642-9988 

 

 


Altarena Playhouse Stages ‘Bat Boy’ in Alameda

By Ken Bullock Special to the Planet
Thursday October 02, 2008 - 09:49:00 AM

“In a cave many miles to the south/Lived a boy with fangs in his mouth ...” Teenage spelunkers bring back a bundle with pointed ears after caving near their hometown of Hope Falls, West Virginia. And the local citizenry is up in arms—and song—over the advent of Bat Boy in their fold, where the slaughterhouse is empty because the cattle are scrawny and moribund, and the social event of the year is the revival meeting. 

Bat Boy: The Musical opens with a preposterous set-up, and, as one of the local rednecks might have said, just gets preposterouser. It’s a raucous, goofy, off-kilter dysfunctional family entertainment, staged with elan by Alameda’s Altarena Playhouse, and running through Hallowe’en, closing on All Saints Day. 

And from moment to moment, it’s a free-floating burlesque of other musicals, a kind of cracker My Fair Lady (or Dr. Doolittle), as Edgar the Bat Boy (remarkable Alex Rodriguez, a singing Lon Chaney) goes from feral to unxious, thanks to the seemingly inexplicable mother love which Meredith (trouper Lisa-Marie Newton)—wife to the town vet, Doc Parker (Paul Plain, co-director and, as actor, embued with a little bit of Harvey Korman/Tim Conway over-the-top stuff)—lavishes on the squeaking foundling, till a set of BBC language tapes has him pouring tea and acting all pukah.  

From Bat Boy’s first melodic ululations, swinging in his cage, to production numbers featuring the batty boy in top hat, with cane, accompanied by the entire cast of 14 (and the stalwart quartet in the flies, guitar, bass and drums led by Sierra Dee on keyboards), the songs wash over the fast-moving, brilliantly paced show, with titles like “Hey Freak,” “Christian Charity,” “Let Me Walk Among You” and “Apology to a Cow” (when Bat Boy gets the thirst, excusing himself to a cowhead like the horse’s in The Godfather). The timing is so much on the money that the otherwise diverting—and ghastly funny—surprise, sung exposition of the boy’s Gothic family romance (with a tango) and nativity near the end only slows down the slick proceedings a little. 

The cast, with Angelo Benedetto and Plain’s direction, participate equally in its effectiveness. To single out a few, Ron Dritz is a splendid, deadpan sheriff and Jonathan Reisfield does screwy triple duty as a townsman, faith healer Rev. Billy Hightower laying hands on the penitent Bat Boy, and trailer trash Mrs. Taylor, shrieking over her brood, in curlers with a cigarette stuck in the lipstick amid stubble. 

Katie Behnke, a Miramonte High senior from Orinda, handles teenage love interest Shelly with both energy and poise. 

It’s a compound of a diverse range of guilty pleasures, contemporary successor to that old American stage mode, the parody melodrama that morphed into horror with Dracula. From a crazed vet putting locals down with the hypo he’s always brandishing, to blessings bestowed on teenage love by the Great God Pan, Bat Boy’s fun is in part the delicious sense it’s all going to end badly. An anthem to Otherness, to small town mania and the strangest of family values, “Know your Bat Boy,/Love your Bat Boy.” 

BAT BOY: THE MUSICAL 

8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays through Nov. 1. Altarena Playhouse, 1409 High St., Alameda. $17-$20. 

523-1553. www.alterena.org. 


Jewish Community Center Presents ‘Degenerate Music’

By Ken Bullock Special to the Planet
Thursday October 02, 2008 - 09:50:00 AM

Degenerate Music,” a remarkable program of songs and compositions by German composers and lyricists, many of them Jewish, branded as “Degenerate Artists” by the Nazis, will be performed this Sunday at the East Bay Jewish Community Center, as part of the Jewish Music Festival. 

Co-sponsored by the Mendocino Music Festival and the Goethe-Institut, “Degenerate Music” premiered last summer in Mendocino. Its billing as music of the Weimar Republic conjures up images of Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill, of cabaret and the louche life of Berlin, as chronicled by Christopher Isherwood and Robert McAlmon, among others. 

But the provocative title and the Weimar-related PR don’t begin to do justice to the range and depth of what pianist Susan Waterfall has put together for chamber group, soloists and singers.  

The program covers unusual examples of music produced from the time of the First World War, through the runaway inflation that helped make Weimar-era Berlin an international party town, to the censure and destruction of modern art as degenerate by that very different party, the National Socialists (just as Max Nordau had attacked the “Decadents” earlier, but without state apparatus), through the years of exile and war—music that includes much of what would influence postwar American music and culture, a lot of it created or premiered on American soil—to the repatriation and reconstruction of Germany during the postwar occupation. 

Waterfall hasn’t just created a divertissement of familiar pieces, but rendered a 30-year period of immense conflict and change with a sense of dimension, and of the unusual. 

There are pieces like Schoenberg’s onomatopoeic entertainment for his fellow officers in World War I, lesser-known Brecht-Weill songs like “The Shell Oil Song” or a gripping Hanns Eisler setting of a Brecht poem that details what happens to a young woman who flauts the Nuremberg Race Laws prohibiting social relations with Jews.  

Stereotypes are also overturned. “The Hollywood Songbook” contains German poems set by Eisler when he and Brecht were endeavoring to work for the film industry in wartime Los Angeles—and justly called by Waterfall the greatest art song cycle composed in America. Brecht’s lyrics detail his passion for little things: the portable radio he flees with from country to country, which broadcasts the voice of his enemy declaring victory after victory, this precious crystal set the poet begs never to fall silent; or the strange new trees and flowers he finds in his garden in Los Angeles, overwatering them with the hope of nurturing something in dark times. 

Even the familiar songs of Threepenny Opera are presented in a virtuoso arrangement by a colleague of Weill’s for the violin—Paganini plays “Mac the Knife”?—in a delicious, tour-de-force instrumental medley. 

There’s also profound chamber music, “14 Ways of Describing the Rain,” composed in 12-tone style by Eisler and presented to his old teacher Schoenberg on the composer’s 70th birthday in exile. The piece was played with the silent film Regen (Rain) by Joris Ivens. The program ends with the anthem Eisler composed for German schoolchildren to give them perspective and hope during reconstruction. A moving recording gives us Eisler himself crooning it. 

Projections place the sounds with photographic images and pictures of visual art. Throughout, valiant vocalist Erin Neff sings and enacts lieder that run a gamut of emotions, changing costume constantly, rejoining Waterfall and the other players onstage. “Degenerate Music” is an immersion in one of the crucial epochs of the 20th century, its culture and politics in an upheaval of values, still affecting us today. 

DEGENERATE MUSIC 

7:30 p.m. Sunday as part of the Jewish Music Festival. East Bay Jewish Community Center, 1414 Walnut St. 


Expressionism and Escape

By Justin DeFreitas
Monday October 06, 2008 - 10:18:00 AM

German Expressionism Collection 

One of the pleasures of viewing silent film is watching a nascent art form as it is invented, developed and perfected. In the 1910s and early 1920s, filmmakers experimented with the new form, attempting to harness its unique properties, its potential for drama, for humor, for surprise.  

The Germans soon proved to possess an unparalleled knack for examining the darker side of film, using lighting, set design and camerawork to exploit the medium's capacity for psychological drama.  

Kino has packaged four great films in the German Expressionism Collection, a box set that elucidates the bold inventiveness of Germany in those early years in the creation of art that celebrated its own artifice. 

Expressionism was a strong influence on American film noir, and the pleasure of the genres are similar: overwrought emotion, heightened reality, shadows and shady characters. And the films in this collection play up those qualities, creating fever-pitched realities that are certainly strange, at times demented, but always fascinating. 

 

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari 

Of course, the granddaddy of all expressionist films is The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, one of the most legendary of all silent films. It has been readily available on home video for some time; in fact, Kino has not updated their previous release of the film, but simply repackaged it for this set.  

The film would still be considered bold and experimental if it were made today, using painted, surrealistic sets and stark imagery. Far less grounded in reality than most of the films that it would inspire, Caligari is gloriously artificial in its presentation, creating a stage-bound world that bears little resemblance to the everyday world but which lures the view into a strange, hypnotic world of its own.  

Conrad Veidt played the somnambulist, establishing himself as perhaps the definitive actor of Germany's expressionist era. Werner Krauss plays the deranged Caligari with an unforgettable blend of madness, mystery and menace. 

 

Hands of Orlac 

Veidt and director Robert Wiene teamed up again for the The Hands of Orlac, a story that takes place in the modern world but is no less nightmarish and unreal. Veidt plays Orlac, a concert pianist whose hands must be amputated after a train crash. A crafty surgeon is able to replace Orlac's hands with those of another man. Soon after, his father is murdered, and fingerprint evidence points toward Orlac, sending his fragile psyche into even greater decline as he begins to unravel the mystery of the origin of his new hands. Wiene and Veidt ratchet up the psychoanalytic elements in bringing the horrors of the plot to life. 

 

Secrets of a Soul 

G.W. Pabst's Secrets of a Soul is a more overt attempt to capture the essence of psychoanalysis on the screen. Though the film is fairly explicit in its delineation of the dark forces at play in the character's subconscious, with intertitles that fully address his violent urges, there is still much that is left unspoken. Issues of impotence, sterility and sexual dysfunction are for the most part left unspoken, but are suggested through imagery and gesture.  

The dream sequences are lurid and convincing, expressing the disjointed logic of feverish nightmares. The imagery is powerful and stark, beautiful in its own right as surrealist fantasy, but still revealed as logical in the end.  

 

Warning Shadows 

Warning Shadows is a purely visual film, with no intertitles to convey plot or dialogue—beyond the opening credits, that is, which feature each actor appearing on a proscenium, introduced along with his shadow, for shadows prove to be characters as much as the people who cast them.  

The story concerns a woman and her husband. They are hosting a dinner party of her suitors. A traveling entertainer crashes the party and proceeds to put on a show of shadow puppetry, a show that plumbs the depths of each character’s consciousness. The shadows take on the semblance of reality, acting out a passion play that, in the best Expressionist fashion, gives shape to the tensions and desires in the minds of the party’s hosts and their guests. The husband, overcome with jealous rage, seeks revenge on his flirtatious wife and her ardent suitors, while her beauty and careless allure lead the men to destroy first her and then each other.  

The film was photographed by Fritz Arno Wagner, the famed cinematographer who also shot F.W. Murnau’s Nosferatu and Fritz Lang’s M.  

 

Houdini: Movie Star 

Harry Houdini must have seemed an obvious candidate for movie stardom. Famous as a vaudeville performer and as a daredevil stuntman, he was a born showman, charismatic, daring and bold.  

Though limited as an actor, his appeal, then as now, is readily apparent. Short and rugged with piercing eyes, he comes across as an earlier generation's version of Edward G. Robinson, handsome in an unlikely way, tough and scowling, but able to convey a certain benevolent humor and grace.  

Kino has released a three-disc set of all that remains of Houdini's brief movie career. The set includes three feature films, a surviving fragment from a fourth, and nearly four hours of installments from a 1919 serial. Bonus features include newsreel footage of many of Houdini's straitjacket escapes, usually while dangling upside down over a public street before thousands of onlookers.  

But the main attractions here are Houdini's acting performances. The set starts with the 15-part serial, The Master Mystery (1919, 238 minutes), an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink action adventure in which Houdini, as Quentin Locke, battles a corrupt patents company involved in anti-trust practices, along the way battling a robot, rescuing a beautiful dame, endureing a string of torture techniques, and escaping from an array of deadly devices. The enormous success of the serial led to a contract with Famous Players Lasky/Parmount Pictures, which resulted in two feature films.  

Terror Island (1920, 55 minutes), the most lavish of the Houdini films, sees the magician playing an inventor whose state-of-the-art submarine is called into duty to salvage both treasure and romance. The film again affords Houdini the opportunity to display his talent for the escape, as well as his ability to hold his breath underwater for extended periods as he passes in and out of the submarine to stage various rescues and assaults on nefarious foes. 

During the making of The Grim Game (1919), two planes collided in mid-air, leading the producers to re-write the script around the material. The only fragment that survives of the film shows this accident, and though the filmmakers claimed that Houdini himself was hanging from the plane and survived the accident, the editing and re-shoots that sustained the illusion are hardly any more convincing today than they were then. 

After fulfilling his Hollywood contract, Houdini returned to New York to start his own production company, the Houdini Picture Corporation, producing and starring in two more films. The Man from Beyond (1922. 84 minutes) allowed Houdini to indulge his interest in reincarnation, playing a man unfrozen after 100 years who finds his true love of 1820 is alive and well in another woman's body in 1920. In Haldane of the Secret Service (1923, 84 minutes), his final film, Houdini stars as an undercover agent infiltrating a counterfeiting operation in New York's shadowy Chinatown. 

Despite his fame, Houdini's acting career was not a success. It turned out that the art of the escape required a flesh-and-blood performance to hold an audience's attention; cinema, with all its sleight-of-hand editing and shifting camera angles, robbed Houdini's stunts of their veracity and sense of danger. If an audience wanted grace and daring and swashbuckling charm, they had Douglas Fairbanks; if they wanted dangerous stunt work, cinematically presented and with no editing gimmickry, they had Buster Keaton. Though Houdini was one of the most famous men of his time, his fans preferred to see him not larger than life on the big screen, but on the stage, life size and all the more compelling for that fact that he was real.


East Bay: Then and Now—Will the Real William Heywood Stand Up?

By Daniella Thompson
Thursday October 02, 2008 - 09:51:00 AM
Built in 1917, the Heywood Building at 2014 Shattuck Ave. included offices for its architect, James Plachek, and its owner, William H. Heywood.
Daniella Thompson
Built in 1917, the Heywood Building at 2014 Shattuck Ave. included offices for its architect, James Plachek, and its owner, William H. Heywood.
The Heywood Apartments at 2119 Addison St. were built in 1906 for William B. Heywood.
Daniella Thompson
The Heywood Apartments at 2119 Addison St. were built in 1906 for William B. Heywood.
James Plachek designed 1900 University Ave. in 1915 for William H. Heywood.
Plachek collection, BAHA archives
James Plachek designed 1900 University Ave. in 1915 for William H. Heywood.
Prolific builder George L. Mohr constructed 1921 Walnut St. in 1909 for William B. Heywood.
Daniella Thompson
Prolific builder George L. Mohr constructed 1921 Walnut St. in 1909 for William B. Heywood.
William B. Heywood’s home at 1500 Arch St. was built in 1888 and sold to Captain William Marston four or five years later.
photo courtesy of the Berkeley Historical Society
William B. Heywood’s home at 1500 Arch St. was built in 1888 and sold to Captain William Marston four or five years later.

Lumber magnate Zimri Brewer Heywood was found dead in his bed on July 31, 1879. He was 76 years old and had spent the last two years of his life in Berkeley, presumably at 709 Delaware St. He was buried at Lone Mountain Cemetery in San Francisco, and his death and burial were duly inscribed in the ledger of the Church of the Good Shepherd, of which he was a founding member. 

The previous year, Heywood had contributed $500—the highest cash donation—to the church building fund, which erected the landmark still standing at Ninth St. and Hearst Avenue. The grateful congregation held a commemorative sermon in his honor on Sept. 6, 1879. 

The extent of Zimri’s estate hasn’t been fully documented, but his West Berkeley real-estate holdings alone were substantial, comprising several blocks, including the one occupied by the West Berkeley Lumber Yard (the latter owned by Heywood’s Mendocino Lumber Company), a wharf, and a portion of the Berkeley tidelands. 

Heywood’s second-born and oldest surviving son, William Brewer Heywood (1830-1915), was appointed trustee and collector of the estate, assisted by the eleventh-born, Walter Minturn Heywood (1854-1924). Walter, a realtor, would be occupied with the trusteeship for the rest of his life. 

In 1877, William had formed the Berkeley Land and Building Company with prominent businessmen James L. Barker, George D. Dornin, Alfred Bartlett, and Charles K. Clarke. “They intend to do a Real Estate business in conjunction with building and improvements that will contribute to the growth and prosperity of the town,” announced the Berkeley Advocate. 

William had little time to devote to this business. Managing the Gualala Mill Company and living in Arena Township, Mendocino County, he was away from Berkeley almost continuously during the quarter century following his father’s death. William’s first wife, Salome, drowned in the Oakland Ferry Disaster of July 4, 1868, leaving the widower with two little sons: William Hezekiah and Zimri Brewer. William subsequently married Vienna Thompson, a New Yorker who was recorded as his wife in the 1880 census of Arena. 

In 1888, William, Vienna, and Zimri came to the Bay Area, William taking charge of the Gualala Mill Company’s San Francisco office. Their new home was a Queen Anne Victorian on a triple lot at the southwest corner of Arch and Vine Streets. Zimri (born c. 1866) is said to have been attending the university and to have died about 1892, which prompted his father to sell the house to Captain William H. Marston and return to Gualala. The house would remain in the Marston family until 1937, when it was demolished. 

Vienna Heywood died in Berkeley on Sept. 11, 1898. Her funeral was held at the First Baptist Church, which stood on Allston Way near Oxford Street. William continued to live in Arena, presiding over a large household that included eleven mill employees, a schoolteacher (the local school had been built by the Heywoods), and three Chinese cooks. Living nearby was his surviving son, William Hezekiah (1864-1920), who had married c. 1889, fathered a son, and was the mill’s mechanical engineer. 

In 1903, William’s half-brother, Franklin Heywood (b. 1837), president of the Gualala Mill Company and the Gualala River Railway, committed suicide in his San Francisco bathroom by placing in his mouth a rubber tube attached to an open gas jet. His fortune, valued at $200,000, was left in trust to his estranged wife. It was to be divided after her death, half going to their adopted daughter, the other half shared equally among seven blood relatives. 

As would often happen, the adopted daughter initiated a lawsuit to hasten the distribution of the estate. She also asserted that her rights had been inexcusably neglected by William B. and Walter M. Heywood, executors of the will. The widow weighed in on the opposite side, airing some of the family’s dirty laundry. The tawdry suit dragged on until 1910, when the California Supreme Court upheld Franklin Heywood’s will. 

Possibly as a result of Franklin’s death, the Gualala mill and its railroad were sold to the Empire Redwood Company. William and Hezekiah returned to Berkeley, where the 1904 directory listed them at 1429 Walnut St. They lived here for a year while building a new house at 1401 Walnut, on the corner of Rose Street. Both died in this house. 

In the 1870s, when a ferry pier was first proposed for Berkeley, the Heywoods’ wharf at the foot of Bristol St. (now Hearst Ave.) was passed over in favor of a new one at the foot of University Avenue. Thirty years later, the town trustees wanted a new municipal pier built, and this time the Heywoods were taking no chances. Charles D. Heywood, who ran the West Berkeley Lumber Company, moved his lumber yard and planing mill from Bristol St. to the foot of University Ave., where he built a new lumber wharf next to the old ferry pier. His uncle William emerged as the owner of the old ferry pier and much of the land around it. 

In early 1907, after a bond measure raised $100,000 for a new municipal pier, William Heywood offered to deed his pier to the town for $22,000, reserving for himself the right to access his sheds at the north spur of the pier—the only place where vessels could then tie up—and charge tolls. On Sept. 23, the trustees voted to pay his asking price.  

The Oakland Tribune reported the following day that there was “considerable opposition among prominent business men on the ground that valuable concessions were being granted” to Heywood, but the trustees were persuaded by the opinion of Town Attorney Redmond C. Staats, who determined that the city would have the right to collect fees on wharfage, dockage, and tolls. 

Within a month, the Piper-Aden-Goodall Company, which had been operating freight steamers between San Francisco and West Berkeley for 20 years, alleged that William Heywood was levying the exorbitant charge of 10 cents a ton, double the rate charged elsewhere in the state. “We might as well go out of business,” said the company’s claims agent. Heywood replied that he charged the higher toll just once, when the steamer docked at the West Berkeley Lumber Company’s private wharf. He had given notice that he wanted the use of his warehouses but was willing to allow Piper-Aden-Goodall to build a warehouse of its own at the end of the wharf. The city responded by taking control of the wharf and announcing its intention to appoint a toll collector. 

As Berkeley’s population exploded after the 1906 earthquake, William resumed his real-estate activities. His first venture was the Heywood Apartments at 2119 Addison Street. This three-story red brick building was designated a City of Berkeley Landmark in 2003. 

In July 1908, the Daily Pacific Builder published a contract notice for flats to be built on the southeast corner of University and Grove. The owner was W.B. Heywood, the contractor George L. Mohr, and the projected cost $11,000. Nothing was built on that corner at the time, but in June 1909 construction began on another Heywood apartment house—this one on the southwest corner of the same intersection. The San Francisco Call reported that this building would cost $20,000, contain 40 apartments, and cover a lot of 75 by 150 feet. The Oakland Tribune, on the other hand, tallied the cost at $12,000 and gave floor space dimensions of 37 by 137 feet. 

As shown in the Sanborn fire insurance map of 1911, the actual building constructed at 1846 University Ave. was a long and narrow block with no setbacks, occupying the full length of the lot along Grove Street. It rose to three stories and contained 12 apartments and 24 bay windows. William’s nephew, Charles, moved in right away and was still living there in 1913, after being elected mayor of Berkeley. 

On Aug. 22, 1909, as Berkeley’s new City Hall was about to be dedicated, the Tribune announced that William Heywood was preparing to duplicate his new building on another corner of the University-Grove intersection. “These various contemplated and assured improvements are all due directly to the new city hall and may result in making a new business center of the region bounded by Shattuck, University, Allston Way and Grove Street. In a short time it is probable that this will be thickly built and that the real center of the city will be comprised in these boundaries,” concluded the Tribune. 

The predictions—for the district and for the stalled building on the southeast corner—didn’t come to pass. Berkeley Gazette columnist Hal Johnson would write in 1942 that William “had the lumber on the ground and the foundation started when the City Council decided that the setback line, which then stopped at Allston Way and Grove St., should be extended [to the blocks north of Allston]. The lumber was moved to the southeast corner of Berkeley Way and Home St., now Walnut St. He erected the large building which is now an apartment hotel.” 

Did it really happen as Hal told it? A full month before the Tribune’s announcement of the second building, a building permit had been issued for the final location (no permit has been found for the purported original location), and the Call reported that “C.D. Heywood [sic] is erecting an apartment house at Home Street and Berkeley Way, of four stories.” Since the building on the southeast corner of University and Grove appears to have been planned before its companion across the street, why didn’t Heywood simply move the lumber there instead of five blocks uphill? 

All we know with certainty is that George L. Mohr constructed the clapboard building still standing at 1921 Walnut St., at a cost of $7,000. It was leased to Elizabeth Andruss, a widow whose daughter was studying at U.C. The neighborhood was then a hotbed for new technology. Directly across the street, engineering student William E. de Berry was building a Farman biplane in his back yard and had already received orders for two additional planes. He was planning to establish a factory in South Berkeley and perhaps go into business as an airplane manufacturer after graduation (he ended up as the proprietor of a radio store in San Francisco). 

The building on the southeast corner of University and Grove was eventually built at a cost of $25,000, but not until late 1915, several months after William B. Heywood had been consigned to his grave. The owner was his son, William Hezekiah, who had engaged the architect James W. Plachek for the project. Curiously, this building, delayed seven years, has no setbacks. 

Two years later, Plachek designed for the same client a small, terra cotta-clad jewel at 2014 Shattuck Ave. Designated a City of Berkeley Landmark in 1993, this is the second building that has been erroneously ascribed to William B. Heywood (the first is 1809 Fourth St.). 

William H. Heywood survived his father by only five years. In 1916, he sold 45 acres of waterfront land between Second St. and the tidelands to Hawaiian sugar interests for $75,000. He left a large estate, willing the income from it to his second wife. $5,000 was set aside for his son Leslie, fruit of the first marriage, who had moved to Spokane with his mother over a dozen years earlier. Believed to have fallen in action in France, Leslie Heywood resurfaced two weeks after his father’s death-too late to claim a larger share of the estate. 

This is the third in a series of articles on the Heywood family. 

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


About the House: Knobs, Tubes and French Resistance

By Matt Cantor
Thursday October 02, 2008 - 09:53:00 AM

As the noted theologian Matthew Fox was heard to say, after a year-long, papally-ordered vow of silence, “Now, as I was saying…” 

For those of you who did not follow last-week’s thoughts on early electrical systems, much was said about the overall size of these systems and the somewhat Byzantine elements that make them up, including the scary Frankenstein-style knife switches and the “neutral (or double) fusing” that control these circuits. With your forbearance, let us now continue (or for some, begin) with some talk on the nature of knob and tube wiring. 

If you have a house built before 1950, there is a good chance that it contains some knob and tube wiring. In fact, knob and tube wiring is found in homes running all the way up into the ’60s in some quarters, but was largely wiped out by other types of wiring including B-X armored cable and Romex. These two later forms are fundamentally different from knob and tube in that they are cables or sets of wires in a jacket of metal, fabric or plastic, while knob and tube is a system of wires that run independently to the fixtures in the house, meeting up with opposing wires that complete the various circuits. I’ll be more clear about this as we proceed. 

First, what’s in a name? Why knob and tube? Simply, the knobs and tubes from which we derive the name are insulators. Knobs are surface mounted insulators that nail onto the framing of the house and allow the insulated wires of knob and tube to get tied or sandwiched into place, keeping them snug and safe. The more common sandwiching ones just mentioned are made up of two barrel shapes with a nail passing through both, that when nailed, grip the wire and hold it an inch or two from the wood framing of the house. Tubes allow wires to pass through wooden framing, while keeping the wire away from wood. These do not secure wires, although electricians of your grandfather’s day would tie knots in wires at one end of a tube, thus keeping the wire from being pulled through. 

If it’s not obvious why we insulate wires, it’s because they can get hot. Wires get hot as the load increases as in, say, the case of running an electric heater. The more demand is placed on the system, the more current will flow through the wire and the hotter it gets. This is why we use overcurrent protection such as fuses or breakers. 

Wires get hottest where there is high resistance and resistance is greatest where wires either get smaller (such as in extension cords) or where wires (or other electrical parts) make poor contact with one another (like a failed singles event). Then there is the kind of resistance where people get drunk and sing La Marseillaise while hiding from the Nazis. But I digress. 

Resistance is the bane of electricians and the root cause of most electrical fires, which is why I love knob and tube wiring. Love, you say? But isn’t knob and tube an antiquated wiring from long ago, discarded in favor of safer system? No, I say. It is not. It suffers from the same warrantless ill-repute as many a system usurped by those capable of profiting from the revolt. 

Knob and tube is labor-intensive because it is soldered. And labor costs money. Remember soldering? How old are you now? I’m old enough to remember soldering Heathkit Hobby Radios with my dad and although I never soldered a knob and tube “Western Union” splice. It stunned me, the first time I got a good look at one. Flooded with molten metal, the connection between any two wires in the grid of wiring in these old houses remains just as cool as any other part, if not more so. Typically, it will be junction points, as noted above, that will overheat and lead to sparks or fire. This is why modern wiring connections must take place inside of a junction box.  

Now, junction boxes are pretty smart when we’re ready to be making final connections to switches, lamps or outlets because these connections may have increased resistance for a range of reasons. Not the least of these is that they may be changed over time with little control over diligence. But, where wires are permanently installed in the branches of an electrical system, soldering makes great sense and greatly reduces the need for a “J-box” as we call ‘em. 

Knob and tube systems are also more efficient because they utilize less wire by virtue of their single-path design. By using single conductors, in place of cables, each wire can move on to the next designated site without requiring a trip back to a common junction, as would be the case in modern cable systems.  

Some of what I like about knob and tube is based on observation and not on theory. Having looked at nearly 4,000 houses containing knob and tube, I’ve had ample opportunity to see endemic failures as well as aberrant ones and can site only a tiny number of what I would consider either installer or materials failure. This is a good system and is only lacking in overall size as relates to practical use today.  

Generally, the rubber, cloth-covered insulation on knob and tube wiring tends to be intact and elastic and I’ve yet to see a solder that was pulling apart. The joints are covered with a sticky cloth-covered tape of high quality in nearly every case and it’s rare to see one that’s falling apart. That said, tampering and poorly executed modifications are common.  

The worst of these are those that extend the range of these original circuits. When this is done, it means that the design ratings of the original circuits are violated by being asked to perform tasks beyond their original intent. 

These additions are usually spliced in the modern method of simply twisting wires together (although a wire nut or some tape may have been used) and this connection has higher resistance than the soldered type. Often, the same low-velocity brain that conceived these electrical branches that tap off the existing ones struggles to come up with adequate splicing methods, wire stapling and a range of other creative surprises. So watch out.  

The smarter cookie will leave the knob and tube circuits alone and run new ones from a competent source using modern wiring methods. One elegant result of doing this in an older house is that the new circuits one adds will (and must) be grounded, unlike the original ones. 

Grounding (on outlets, it’s signified by that third roundish prong-hole) isn’t needed for most of your appliances. If you were to lay all your electrical devices out in one place (have you seen those books of people from around the world photographed with all their possessions?) you’d find that only a small fraction have a grounding prong and that most will work just fine in your original two-prong outlets.  

If you add a few new circuits to your old knob and tube system, you will both increase the overall load capacity and accommodate the need for grounding (assuming that you place them where those particular devices live). That list includes major appliances such as dishwashers, refrigerators, microwave ovens and both the washer and dryer, so laundries and kitchens are good places to start. Desktop computers require grounding so one or two new outlets where you place your home office is a good idea too. 

An older knob and tube system can be easily connected to a modern breaker panel by a suitably skilled electrician at the time that new circuits are added. This usually requires an upgrade at the main panel since most older main panels associated with knob and tube lack adequate minimal capacity. 

A last thought that I think is more than a little relevant is the issue of capacity. Current building standards call for every house to be capable of providing 100 amps. This is really quite a lot, although some people will use nearly all the 24,000 watts that this allows. That’s right, this is the same as 240 100-watt bulbs running at the same time or 12 2,000-watt heaters. In practice most people use far less and some use almost none.  

A client of mine some years ago mentioned that he was planning on buying a bicycle powered washing machine. He isn’t the only Berkeley client of mine who’s wading in the shallow end of the grid. Some people just don’t use that much power either by political temperament or by prudence.  

So, when you meet with your electrician, be sure to tell them what you need. There are basic code requirements that they will need to observe but there is, without question, room for choice on your part. Don’t feel that you have to be absorbed by the Borg Collective and bring your entire electrical system up to the most current code. Remember, Resistance (the French kind) is never futile. 


Community Calendar

Thursday October 02, 2008 - 09:28:00 AM

THURSDAY, OCT. 2 

Walkers 55+: Explore El Cerrito Hillside Gems Join a down-and-up loop exploring little-known creekside paths and great views from El Cerrito’s Hillside Natural Area. Meet at Arlington Park, 1120 Arlington (AC Transit 7) at 9 a.m. Wear hiking shoes; bring sticks if you use them. Registration required, call Albany Senior Center 524-9122. 

Berkeley Public Library Master Plan discussion at 6:30 p.m. at South Branch, 1901 Russell at MLK Jr. Way. Plan available on-line at www.berkeleypubliclibrary.org 981-6195. 

“Banned Books Read-In” for children and teens at 4 p.m. at the Richmond Main Library, 325 Civic Center Plaza, Richmond. Books, door prizes awarded. 620-6555. 

“An Evening of Prose and Politics” with Susan Griffin and George Lakoff at 6 p.m. at Albany Library, 1247 Marin Ave. 526-3720, ext. 18. 

Hecho in Califas Festival “Rise Up and Green Up!” An interactive town-hall meeting on strengthening our community through green initaitives, at 7 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $3-$10, no one turned away. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

Town Hall Meeting in Support of Marriage Equality with clergy from the African-American community and the cast from “Noah’s Arc” at 7 p.m. at First Congregational Church of Oakland, 2501 Harrison St. Cost is $30. http://equalitytownhall.eventbrite.com 

Opera Piccola 20th Anniversary Season Open House from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at its new East Oakland headquarters, 2946 MacArthur Blvd. RSVP to 482-2906. 

“Seeds to Harvest” Enjoy locally produced snacks and goodies, and learn about Bay Area Community Services’ commitment to food security at 5 p.m. at the East Bay Community Foundation Conference Center, 365 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza, Oakland. www.bayareacs.org 

Seed Saving for the Home Gardener Learn the basics of pollination, selecting, harvesting, processing and storing seed, from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Ecology Center, 2530 San Pablo Ave. Cost is $10-$15. 548-2220, ext. 233. www.ecologycenter.org 

A Beginner’s Guide to E-mail and the Internet Learn the basics without the technical jargon. Get a free e-mail account. From 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. at North Oakland Senior Center, 5714 Martin Luther King, Jr. Way. Sponsored by RSVP of Alameda County. For more information call 452-0868. 

Appreciating Diversity Film Series “Unnatural Causes: In Sickness and in Wealth” at 7 p.m. followed by facilitated discussion, at Ellen Driscoll Theater, Frank Havens School, 325 Highland Ave., Piedmont. 835-9227. diversityfilmseries.org 

“Pain Management” with Dr. Ernest Cheng at 1 p.m. at the Grand Avenue Seventh Day Adventist Church, 278 Grand Ave., Oakland. 653-8625. 

Three Beats for Nothing South Mostly ancient part music for fun and practice meets every Thurs. at 10 a.m. at the South Berkeley Senior Center, Ellis at Ashby. 655-8863. asiecker@sbcglobal 

Baby & Toddler Storytime at 10:15 and 11:15 a.m. at Kensington Library, 61 Arlington Ave. 524-3043.  

Avatar Metaphysical Toastmasters Club at 6:45 p.m. at Spud’s Pizza , 3290 Adeline at Alcatraz. namaste@avatar.freetoasthost.info  

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 

FRIDAY, OCT. 3 

City Commons Club Noon Luncheon with Jim De Mersma on “Dunsmuir Historic Estate: An East Bay Architectural & Horticultural Treasure” 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 524-7468. 

George Lakoff in Conversation with Josh Kornbluth on “Why We Vote the Way We Do” at 7:30 p.m. at Northbrae Community Church, 941 The Alameda.  

“The Framing of Mumia Abu-Jamal” with J. Patrick O’Connor at 7:30 p.m. at Niebyl Proctor Library at 6501 Telegraph Avenue in Oakland. 763-2347. 

Berkeley School Volunteers Orientation from 10 to 11 a.m. at 1835 Allston Way. Come learn about volunteer opportunities. Bring photo ID and two references. 644-8833. 

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. 

Three Beats for Nothing Mostly ancient part music for fun and practice meets every Fri. at 10 a.m. at the North Berkeley Senior Center, Hearst at MLK. 655-8863. asiecker@sbcglobal 

SATURDAY, OCT. 4 

North Oakland Neighbors: City Council At-Large Candidates Forum from 1 to 3 p.m. at Faith Presbyterian Church, 430 49th St., Oakland, just off Telegraph in the Temescal neighborhood. Meeting will include updates on proposed developments and rezoning in Temescal. www.standoakland.org 

“Green Gardening” Exhibits and workshops on saving water and reducing waste from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at MLK Civic Center Park. 981-7432. 

Blessing of the Animals in commemoration St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals and the environment. Humans and their animals congregate at 4 p.m. on the steps of St. Joseph the Worker Church, 1640 Addison St. 843-2244. 

110th Anniversary of the Founding of the Hillside Club Open House Celebration Luncheon Potluck at noon at Hillside Club, 2286 Cedar St. 644-2967. 

Benefit to Close the School of the Americas with Francisco Herrera and Jon Fromer, singer/songwriters at 7 p.m. at St. Joseph the Worker Church, 1640 Addison St. 843-2244. 

Brooks Island Boat Trip Join a guided boat trip across the Richmond Harbor to Brooks Island to explore the island’s natural and cultural history, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. For experienced boaters who can provide their own kayak and safety gear. Cost is $20-$22. Registration required. 1-888-EB-PARKS. 

Home Front Festival at Rosie the Riveter Park, with music, carnival rides, art and activities, at Marina Bay, Richmond. Free. For details see www.homefrontfestival.com 232-0865. 

Compost and Worm Workshop Learn the basics of backyard composting; understand how to compost with garden waste and how to compost kitchen scraps using worms at 2 p.m. at Smith & Hawken, 1330 10th Street. Free. store803@smithandhawken.com 

Arachnid Kids Join us as we unravel the mystery of spiders and their webs, for ages seven and up, from 2 to 3:30 p.m. at Tilden Nature Center, Tilden Park. Includes a short hike. 525-2233. 

The Political Affairs Readers’ Group of Berkeley “Financial Crisis and Class Struggles” A discussion of the present US financial crisis, its effects on the world economy and on workers’ struggles to improve their lives at 10 a.m. at Niebyl Proctor Library, 6501 Telegraph Ave., Oakland. 595-7417. 

Ready to Learn Fun Fair Meet Clifford “The Big Red Dog,” receive free books, get your face painted, and play outdoor games from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Rosa Parks Elementary School. Free for families and children of all ages. 268-5376. www.acgov.org/board/district5. 

Global Peace and Justice Rally with music and speakers from noon to 4 p.m. at MLK Civic Center Park. 

“Love it Like a Fool” a film about Malvina Reynolds, Berkeley songwriter and political activist at 2 p.m. at Berkeley Public Library, 2090 Kittredge at Shattuck. 981-6241. 

Lakeshore Neighborhood Plant Exchange from noon to 4 p.m. at 3811 Lakeshore Ave., Oakland. Bring plants from cuttings up to full size, as well as gardening books and supplies. 866-8482. www.plantexchange.wordpress.com 

Basic Geneology Research Classes on Sat. at 1 p.m. and Tues. at 10:30 a.m., offered by the California Genealogical Society and Library in Oakland. Free, with $10 materials fee. For more information and to register call 531-3905. 

Preschool Storytime, for ages 3-5, at 11 a.m. at Albany Library, 1247 Marin Ave. 526-3720, ext. 17. 

Free Internet Classes offered on Sat. from 10 to 11 a.m. at El Cerrito Library, 6510 Stockton St., El Cerrito. Today we will learn how to use Google or Search the Web. 526-7512. 

“Congregational Singing and Listening” at 10 a.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley, 1 Lawson Rd., Kensington. Suggested donation $10. 525-0302, ext. 306. 

Berkeley Alcohol Policy Advocacy Coalition Workshop on how alcohol access and availability affect the community, from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at North Berkeley Senior Center.  

Berkeley Lawn Bowling Club provides free instruction every Wed. and Sat. at 10:30 a.m. at 2270 Acton St. 841-2174.  

SUNDAY, OCT. 5 

Hecho in Califas Festival “Books? or Bombs?” An interactive town-hall meeting on education and military recruitment, at 4 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $3-$10, no one turned away. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

“What the TV Pundits Don’t Tell You About the Election” with George Lakoff at 7 p.m. at Lake Merritt United Methodist Church, 1330 Lakeshore Ave., Oakland. Cost is $10-$20. Benefits the Walden Foundation. www.walden-school.net 

Yoga for Obama A day-long series of classes, every two hours beginning at 8 a.m., with group chant at 6:15 p.m. at Berkeley Yoga Studio, 1250 Addison St. Suggesteed donation $50. 552-0155. 

Kennedy Grove Full Circle Hike Join an invigorating 4.5 mile hike to discover all of Tilden’s trails, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Bring lunch and water. For information on meeting place call 525-2233. 

“Taxi to the Dark Side” A film on the torture practices of the United States at 4 p.m. at Townsend Center for the Humanities, 220 Stephens Hall, UC campus. 642-0965. 

Home Front Festival at Rosie the Riveter Park, with music, carnival rides, art and activities, at Marina Bay, Richmond. Free. For details see www.homefrontfestival.com 232-0865. 

Hilltop YMCA Home Front Run & Walk at Lucretia Edwards Park, located at the end of Marina Way, south, in Richmond. Check in at 8:30 a.m., races begin at 10 a.m. Cost is $20-$30 with discounts for families. 209-795-7832. www.onyourmarkevents.com 

“Banished” A film about African Americans expelled from counties in the US from 1860 to 1920, at 2 p.m. at Parkway Theater, 1834 Park Blvd., Oakland. Cost is $5. 665-7880. 

Berkeley Rep Family Series “Fairy Tales Come True” from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Nevo Education Center, 2071 Addison St. Free, but bring a book to donate to a school library. 647-2973. 

Blessing of the Animals at 12:30 p.m. on the Terrace at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley, 1 Lawson Rd., Kensington. 525-0302, ext. 306. 

Dreaming Ritual Demonstration with Antero Alli at 8:30 p.m. at Finnish Brotherhood Hall, 1970 Chestnut St. Donation $5-$10. www.paratheatrical.com/demonstration.html 

“Journey to Tibet” with Karen Harris on her visit to Buddhist nunneries in remote eastern Tibet at 10 a.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley, 1 Lawson Rd., Kensington. 525-0302, ext. 306. 

Kids Cook in the Garden Learn how to create snacks from garden foods from 2:30 to 4 p.m. at UC Botanical Garden, 200 Centennial Dr. For ages 7-12. Registration required. Cost is $15-$18. 643-2755, ext. 03. 

Drop-In Acupuncture from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Sarana Community Acupuncture. 968 San Pablo Ave. Albany. Free. 526-5056. 

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 at 3 p.m. at the colonnade at the NE end of the lake. 763-8712.  

Tibetan Buddhism with Mark Henderson on “The Buddhist Dharma Wheel” at 6 p.m. at the Tibetan Nyingma Institute, 1815 Highland Pl. 809-1000. www.nyingmainstitute.com 

Kol Hadash Tashlikh Service at 10 a.m. at Emeryville Marina. Especially for children. Bring-Your-Own picnic follows. 428-1492. www.kolhadash.org 

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.  

MONDAY, OCT. 6 

“Observations: Bay Area Buildings, Architecture and Planning” an illustrated talk by Susan Cerny, author of “An Architectural Guidebook to San Francisco and the Bay Area” at 7:30 p.m. at The Hillside Club, 2286 Cedar St. at Arch. 644-2967. www.hillsideclub.org 

“Albany: Then and Now” in honor of the city’s centennial, Richard Russo will present a slide show of photographs from the library’s hostorical collection at 12:30 p.m. at the Albany Library, 1247 Marin Ave. 526-3720. 

Biodiesel 101 Learn about biodiesel: emmissions, hoe-brewing, types of vehicles and availability, at 7:30 p.m. at Biofuel Oasis, 2465 4th St., at Dwight Way. 665-5509. http://biofueloasis.com/bbc/ 

“Guadalupe River in Peril” with Santa Clara Creeks Coalition volunteer Larry Johmonn on the South Bay's largest watercourse, at 7 p.m. at Albany Community Center, 1249 Marin Ave., Albany. 848-9358. www.fivecreeks.org 

“Deer in the East Bay: A Very Adaptable Species” A talk and slideshow with Joe DiDonato, Stewardship Manager for EBRPD at 7:30 p.m. at Montclair Presbyterian Church, 5701 Thornhill Rd., Oakland. Donation $5, K-12 free. 655-6658. www.close-to-home.org 

“Taxi to the Dark Side” and the U.S. War on Terror filmmaker Alex Gibney wil discuss his documentary filmon the torture practices of the United States at 4 p.m. in the Maude Fife Room, 315 Wheeler Hall, UC campus. 642-0965. 

“Castoffs” Knitting Group meets at 7 p.m. at Kensingotn Library, 61 Arlington Ave. 524-3043. 

World Affairs/Politics Discussion Group, for people 60 years and over, meets at 9:45 a.m. at Albany Senior Center, 846 Masonic Ave, Albany. Cost is $3.  

Berkeley CopWatch organizational meeting at 8 p.m. at 2022 Blake St. Join us to work on current issues around police misconduct. Volunteers needed. For information call 548-0425. 

Dragonboating Year round classes at the Berkeley Marina, Dock M. Meets Mon, Wed., Thurs. at 6 p.m. Sat. at 10:30 a.m. For details see www.dragonmax.org 

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, OCT. 7 

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 Arrowhead Marsh at Martin Luther King Regional Shoreline. Call for meeting place and if you need to borrow binoculars. 525-2233. 

Tilden Mini-Rangers Hiking, conservation and nature-based activities for ages 8-12. Dress to ramble and get dirty. From 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. at Tilden Nature Center, Tilden Park. Cost is $6-$8, registration required. 1-888-EBPARKS. 

Berkeley High School BSEP Committee Meeting to select chair, representatives to P&O and SGC committees, at 4:30 p.m. at Berkeley High School, Building D, Conference Room, 501-3307. 

New Deal Film Festival The Dust Bowl Years “Grapes of Wrath” at 1 p.m. at North Berkeley Senior Center, 1901 Hearst, Corner of MLK. Sponsored by the Berkeley Gray Panthers. 548-9696. 

Seymour Hersh at 8 p.m. at Zellerbach Hall, UC Campus. Tickets are $20-$32. 642-9988. www.calperformances.net 

“The Power of Myth in Movies” with Richard Stromer, first Tues. of the month, through May at 7:30 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley, 1 Lawson Rd., Kensington. Cost is $40. To register call 528-3417. 

Berkeley School Volunteers Orientation from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at 1835 Allston Way. Come learn about volunteer opportunities. Bring photo ID and two references. 644-8833. 

Birds and Butterflies Easy garden enchantment with native plants, Tues. at 7 p.m. through Oct. 28, at Albany Adult School, 601 San Gabriel Ave., Albany. Sponsored by the Golden Gate Audubon Society. Register online at http://albany.k12.ca.us/adult/ or call 559-6580. 

“Peak Oil and The Impacts to Small Businesses” with Julian Darley of the Post Carbon Institute at 5:30 p.m. at The Prevention Institute, 221 Oak St., Oakland. Cost is $20-$22. To regiser, email info@sustainablebiz.org 

Introduction to Golf Learn pre-shot and full-swing fundamentals, and become familiar with terminology/equipment at 5:30 p.m. at Tilden Golf Course. Golf balls and loaner clubs are provided. Cost is $50-$56, but participants receive a range and class discount card. Registration required 1-888-EBPARKS. 

Family Storytime at 7 p.m. at Kensington Library, 61 Arlington Ave. 524-3043.  

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. 

End the Occupation Vigil every Tues. at noon at Oakland Federal Bldg., 1301 Clay St. www.epicalc.org 

“Cycling and Car Camping in New Zealand and Tasmania” at 7 p.m. at REI, 1338 San Pablo Ave. 527-4140. 

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 

Fresh Produce Stand at San Pablo Park from 3 to 6 p.m. in the Frances Albrier Community Center. Sponsored by the Ecology Center’s Farm Fresh Choice. 848-1704.  

Berkeley Camera Club meets at 7:30 p.m., at the Northbrae Community Church, 941 The Alameda. 548-3991. www.berkeleycameraclub.org 

St. John’s Prime Timers meets at 9:30 a.m. at St. John’s Presbyterian Church, 2727 College Ave. 845-6830. 

Sing-A-Long Group from 2 to 3 p.m. at the Albany Senior Center, 846 Masonic Ave., Albany. 524-9122. 

Yarn Wranglers Come knit and crochet at 6:30 p.m. at Nomad Cafe, 6500 Shattuck Ave. 595-5344.  

 

 

 

WEDNESDAY, OCT. 8 

Mayoral Debate for South Berkeley Residents between Tom Bates and Shirley Dean at 7:30 p.m. at Martin Luther King Jr Community Center Gym, 1730 Oregon St. Sponsored by The ROC Neighborhood and SBCPC. 

Sunsara Taylor on Bob Avakian’s book “Away With All Gods! Unchaining the Mind and Radically Changing the World” at 7 p.m. in Room 2060 in the Valley Life Sciences Building, UC campus. 384-1816. 

Red Cross Blood Services Volunteer Orientation from 10 a.m. to noon at 6230 Claremont Ave., Oakland. Registration required. 594-5165. 

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. 

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. 

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 

Family Sing-Along for toddlers, pre-schoolers and their families at 4:30 p.m. at the Albany Library, 1247 Marin Ave. 526-3720. 

Teen Chess Club from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. at the North Branch Library, 1170 The Alameda at Hopkins. 981-6133. 

Morning Meditation Every Mon., Wed., and Fri. at 7:45 a.m. at Rudramandir, 830 Bancroft Way at 6th. 486-8700. 

Berkeley CopWatch Drop-in office hours from 6 to 8 p.m. at 2022 Blake St. 548-0425. 

Stitch ‘n Bitch at 6:30 p.m. at Caffe Trieste, 2500 San Pablo Ave., at Dwight. 548-5198.  

THURSDAY, OCT. 9 

El Cerrito Garden Club meets at 9:30 a.m. at El Cerrito Community Center, 7007 Moeser Lane, El Cerrito. Ann Flinn from Bear Meadow Lavender will speak on everything about Grosso and Provence Lavender. Public welcome. $3. Free for members. 236-4421. www.elcerritogardenclub.org 

First 5 Alameda Community Meeting on services for local children at 6 p.m. at Beebe Memorial Cathedral, 3900 Telegraph Ave., Oakland. 875-2400. www.first5ecc.org 

Workshops for Healthcare Activists, and those who want to be, Single Payer Health Care/SB840 Kuehl at 7 p.m. at Hillside Church, 1422 Navellier St., El Cerrito between Portrero and Moeser Lane. 526-0972. 

Red Cross Blood Drive from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at Kaiser Center Lobby, 300 Lakeside Dr., Oakland. To schedule an appointment go to www.BeADonor.com 

Baby & Toddler Storytime at 10:15 and 11:15 a.m. at Kensington Library, 61 Arlington Ave. 524-3043.  

Yom Kippur Reflection and Discussion at noon at JGate, El Cerrito. RSVP to 559-8140. rabbibridget@jewishgateways.org 

Three Beats for Nothing South Mostly ancient part music for fun and practice meets every Thurs. at 10 a.m. at the South Berkeley Senior Center, Ellis at Ashby. 655-8863. asiecker@sbcglobal 

Fitness Class for 55+ at 9:15 a.m. at Jewish Community Center, 1414 Walnut St. 848-0237. 

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 

FRIDAY, OCT. 10 

City Commons Club Noon Luncheon with Detectives Cesar Melero and Darren Raffery, Berkeley Police Dept. on “Protect Yourself from Identity Theft” 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 524-7468. www.citycommonsclub.org  

Volunteer in Berkeley Youth Alternatives Garden Tasks may include weeding, bed preparation, sowing, transplanting, and harvesting. Meet at 10 a.m. at Berkeley Youth Alternatives Garden, Bancroft Way, between Bonar and West. 647-0709. www.byaonline.org 

“Reunification: Building Permanent Peace in Korea” A conference from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at UC Berkeley Alumni House, Bancroft Way and Dana. Sponsored by UC Berkeley Center for Korean Studies. 642-5674. www.kpolicy.org 

Conscientious Projector Film Series “Can the Presidential Election Be Stolen Again?” followed by discussion at 7:30 p.m. at Berkeley Fellowship, Cedar and Bonita. 495-5132. www.bfuu.org 

Womensong Circle An evening of participatory singing for women at 7:15 p.m. at First Congregational Church of Berkeley, small assembly room, 2345 Channing Way at Dana. Donation $15-$20. 525-7082. 

Red Cross Blood Drive from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Watergate Towers, Conf. Rm D, 2200 Powell St., Emeryville. To schedule an appointment go to www.BeADonor.com 

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. 

Three Beats for Nothing Mostly ancient part music for fun and practice meets every Fri. at 10 a.m. at the North Berkeley Senior Center, Hearst at MLK. 655-8863. asiecker@sbcglobal 

SATURDAY, OCT. 11 

Indigenous Peoples Day with Powwow and Indian Market from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Civic Center Park. MLK at Center St. 595-5520. ipdpowwow.org 

Fall Fruit Tasting from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Berkeley Farmers’ Market, Center St. at MLK Jr Way. 548-3333. 

Habitat Hunters Using various scientific tools, find out what creatures live in which habitats, from 2 to 3:30 p.m. at Tilden Nature Center, Tilden Park For ages 7 and up. 525-2233. 

Berkeley Path Wanderers: Old and New Emeryville Walk meet at 10 a.m. in front of Old City Hall at the intersection of Hollis and Park. 528-3246. www.berkeleypaths.org  

Berkeley Historical Society Walking Tour of the northern boundary of Berkeley and Kensington, from 10 a.m. to noon. Cost is $8-$10. For reservations and starting point call 848-0181. 

Seed Saving Conference with speakers on the Ecology Center's Bay Area Seed Interchange Library (BASIL), dietary health issues, and GMOs, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Intertribal Friendship House, 523 International Blvd., Oakland 415-370-1657. mayalencanahuat@yahoo.com 

Berkeley Garden Club Plant Sale from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 131 Ashbury, El Cerrito. 524-7296. 

Herb Day Learn the history of the garden’s herb collection , including Chhinese medicinal herbs, from 10 a.m. to noon at UC Botanical Garden, 200 Centennial Dr. A class on Chinese traditional medicine follows at 1 p.m. Registration required. Cost is $8-$20. 643-2755, ext. 03. 

“Healthy Air Walk” Fundraiser for the American Lung Association of California at 9 a.m. at the Bandstand near 666 Bellevue in Lakeside Park, Oakland. 893-5474. http://snipurl.com/HealthyAirWalk 

“Facing the Mountains: Breakthroughs to New Racial Landscapes” Workshops from noon to 6 p.m., presentations and public dialogue at 7 p.m. at First Congregational Church of Oakland, 2501 Harrison St. Sponsored by World Trust Educational Services. Cost is $25-$50. www.world-trust.org 

Bronze Casting Demonstrations at 9 and 10 p.m. at Berkeley Art Complex, 729 Heinz St. Tours of foundry at 7 p.m. 644-2735. www.artworksfoundry.com 

The East Bay Chapter of The Great War Society meets to discuss “Lawrence of Arabia- Myth & Reality” by Robert DeWard at 10:30 a.m. at Albany Veterans Hall, 1325 Portland Ave., Albany. 526-4423. 

“The New Arms Race” with Jacqueline Cabasso and Andrew Lichterman of the Western States Legal Foundation at 7 p.m. at Alameda Free Library, Conf. Room A, 1550 Oak St. at Lincoln, Alameda. Sponsored by the Alameda Public Affairs Forum. www.alamedapublicaffairsforum.org 

Free Culture Conference on open access to information, copyright law reform, and a culture free from censorship and control, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at International House, Piedmont Ave. at Bancroft. conference.freeculture.org 

Bicycle Safety Class from 2 to 5 p.m. at Crosstown Community Center, 1303 High St., Alameda. 548-7433. www.ebbc.org 

Berkeley Juggling and Unicycle Festival Sat. and Sun. from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. at King Middle School, 1781 Rose St. Includes workshops and performances. For details see www.berkeleyjuggling.org/festival 

Yongmudo Championship, sponsored by the UC Martial Arts Program, beginning at 8 a.m. at the RSF, 2301 Bancroft Way. Cost is $3-$5. 642-3268. 

Red Cross Blood Drive from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Corpus Christi Church Gym, 322 St. James Dr., Piedmont. To schedule an appointment go to www.BeADonor.com 

Preschool Storytime, for ages 3-5, at 11 a.m. at Albany Library, 1247 Marin Ave. 526-3720, ext. 17. 

Introduction to the Alexander Technique at 10 a.m. at the Berkeley Public Library, 2090 Kittredge St. RSVP to 528-3109. amira.alvarez@gmail.com 

Free Garden Tours at Regional Parks Botanic Garden Sat. and Sun. at 2 pm. Regional Parks Botanic Garden, Tilden Park. Call to confirm. 841-8732. www.nativeplants.org 

Around the World Tour of Plants at 1:30 p.m., Thurs., Sat. and Sun. at UC Botanical Garden, 200 Centennial Drive. 643-2755. http://botanicalgarden.berkeley.edu 

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. 

Car Wash Benefit for Options Recovery Services of Berkeley, held every Sat. from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Lutheran Church, 1744 University Ave. 666-9552. 

SUNDAY, OCT. 12 

Berkeley Juggling and Unicycle Festival from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. at King Middle School, 1781 Rose St. Includes workshops and performances. For details see www.berkeleyjuggling.org/festival 

Raising Chickens Learn which breeds are best for your situation, how to deal with predators, whether your chickens can free-range, and other chicken/duck lore, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at EcoHouse, 1305 Hopkins St., enter via garden entrance on Peralta. Cost is $15, no one turned away for lack of funds. 548-2220, ext. 242. ecohouse@ecologycenter.org 

Toddler Nature Walk for ages 2-3 and their care-givers, to discover spiders, rolly-pollies, fall colors and more, from 2 to 4 p.m. at Tilden Nature Center, Tilden Park. 525-2233. 

Little Farm Open House Come grind some corn to feed the chickens, pet a bunny or groom a goat, from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Little Farm at Tilden Park. 525-2233. 

Cool Schools Global Warming Campaign for middle and high school students to learn how to take action against global warming in their schools and communities, from 2 to 4 p.m. at Berkeley Public Library, 2090 Kittredge. R SVP requested. 704-4030. caroline@earthteam.net, www.earthteam.net 

Least Tern Habitat Restoration Help prepare habitat for the California Least Tern nesting season with Friends of the Alameda Wildlife Refuge. Meet at 9 a.m. at the main refuge gate, northwest corner of former Alameda Naval Air Station. RSVP required. 522-0601. leoraalameda@att.net, www.ggnrabigyear.org 

Inroduction to Fly-Fishing Learn casting at Lake Anza followed by classroom instruction on knots, fly selection, reading the water, and more. From 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Tilden Park. Cost is $60-$66. Registration required. 1-888-EBPARKS. 

“Artists for Change” Garden Reception and Fundraiser for Barack Obama from 2 to 5 p.m. at 449 49th St. Cost is $25-$40. RSVP to 655-3841. 

All Italian Car and Motorcycle Show Benefit for Alameda Special Olympics, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Lincoln Middle School, 1250 Fernside Blvd., Alameda. Cost is $5.  

Crabby Chefs Seafood Competition from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Spenger’s Fresh Fish Grotto, 1919 Fourth St. 845-7771. 

Jewish Coalition for Literacy Training for volunteer tutors from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at 300 Grand, Oakland. Register at www.jclread.org 

Free Garden Tours at Regional Parks Botanic Garden in Tilden Park Sat. and Sun. at 2 p.m. Call to confirm. 841-8732. www.nativeplants.org 

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 Betsy Damon on “Inside Tibet” 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 

CITY MEETINGS 

Community Environmental Advisory Commission meets Thurs., Oct. 2, at 7 p.m., at 2118 Milvia St. Nabil Al-Hadithy, 981-7461.  

Housing Advisory Commission meets Thurs., Oct. 2, at 7 p.m., at the South Berkeley Senior Center. 981-5400.  

Landmarks Preservation Commi