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Erling Horn, 104, pictured here at his Berkeley Town House apartment following a birthday celebration, recalls his long and eventful life.
Riya Bhattacharjee
Erling Horn, 104, pictured here at his Berkeley Town House apartment following a birthday celebration, recalls his long and eventful life.


District Shows Increase in English, Slight Fall in Math for 2009 STAR Tests

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Tuesday August 18, 2009 - 04:57:00 PM

The 2009 Standardized Testing and Reporting Program results brought good news for Berkeley public schools Tuesday, with more students performing above the state average in reading and writing and math. 

Fifty-six percent of students in the Berkeley Unified School District were proficient or advanced in English-language arts compared with 50 percent statewide and 54 percent in Alameda County. 

Forty-seven percent were proficient or advanced in math compared with 46 percent statewide and 49 percent in Alameda County. 

The STAR tests judge students’ performances in the California Standardized Tests by labeling them as advanced, proficient, basic, below basic, and far below basic, with proficient being the target the California Department of Education wants all students to achieve. 

This goal is consistent with growth targets for state accountability and the federal No Child Left Behind requirements. 

The English-language arts performance for Berkeley showed a 4 percent jump from 2008, when 52 percent scored proficient or above, but a slightly small decline in math, where 46.9 percent students scored proficient or above in math in 2008 compared with this year’s 46.8 percent. 

At Berkeley High, 56 percent of students scored proficient or advanced in English-language arts, but only 25 percent demonstrated proficiency or advancement in math. 

Berkeley Technology Academy’s STAR results were not available on the state Department of Education’s website, which showed 51 B-Tech students taking the tests. 

Almost every elementary and middle school in Berkeley Unified scored near or above the state average in reading, writing and math. 

District Superintendent Bill Huyett said that the district saw a lot of progress in math in the lower grades due to the adoption of new programs, but that the upper grades were still struggling in algebra and geometry. 

The district introduced the Everyday Math program in second, third, fourth and fifth grade and a number of other programs to boost learning of algebra and geometry in the middle and high schools last year.  

Huyett said Everyday Math had showed positive results in every grade except third, for which district officials were still trying to figure out an explanation  

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell Tuesday released the results of the 2009 STAR Program which showed that California students had overall continued to make uniform progress in English-language arts, math, science and history. 

Noting that half of the state’s public school students were now proficient in English-language arts, O’Connell called the improvement particularly impressive given that only 35 percent of students met the bar seven years ago. 

“California is known nationally for the rigor of our academic standards, and this level of student achievement on our California Standards Tests should be celebrated,” O’Connell said. “It is the result of hard work by teachers, administrators, school support staff, students, and parents.” 

However, O’Connell cautioned that despite the progress, there was a considerable amount of work to be done in closing the achievement gap.  

According to the state Department of Education, while all student subgroups continue to reach proficiency, the achievement gap between African-American and white students and Latinos and their white peers changed little from 2008 to 2009 in both English-language arts and math. 

“We must continue to focus on students who struggle in the classroom and help them become skillful readers, able mathematicians, and self-confident, well-prepared leaders of tomorrow,” O’Connell said. “We must also pay particular attention to the fact that a disproportionate share of students who fall below the proficient level are African-American or Latino. This achievement gap represents a loss of opportunity for students of color and remains a real threat to their and California’s future success.” 

Another revealing point in the 2009 STAR test data was that African-American and Hispanic students continued to perform way behind their white, Asian, and Filipino counterparts regardless of economic status in most cases. 

For example, 35 percent of African-American students who were not economically disadvantaged turned out to be proficient in math compared with 43 percent economically disadvantaged white students. 

Huyett said that Berkeley Unified had showed some improvement in closing the achievement gap, with a larger number of African-American students reporting an increase in English-language arts. 

O’Connell blamed the state budget cuts to education—which has led to fewer text books, less professional development days for teachers and in some cases, no more summer programs—for exacerbating the achievement gap. 

“It’s the biggest civil rights issue of our generation,” O’Connell told reporters during a teleconference Tuesday. “It’s not just a moral imperative to close the achievement gap but also an economic imperative. It is my greatest priority.” 

O’Connell said that the achievement gap often widens during summer because low income students don’t always get access to the kind of programs and travel their more privileged classmates can afford. 

He said state educators were studying cultural climate to address the problem. When a reporter pointed out that the 2009 report showed that minority students who were not from low income backgrounds still had lower proficiency than poor white students, O’Connell admitted that economic reasons alone might not be the source of the problem. 

“We are using data to be more analytical—beginning with preschool,” he said. “We are being expected to do more with less because of the budget cuts. We have world class content standards yet we are funding education like a third world country.” 

The 2009 STAR results can be found at: star.cde.ca.gov.

Activists, UC Berkeley Alumni Protest Yoo on First Day of Classes

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Tuesday August 18, 2009 - 08:19:00 AM
An anti-war activist dressed as an Abu Ghraib prison inmate during a protest staged  against Professor John Yoo outside the UC Berkeley Boalt Hall School of Law Monday.
Riya Bhattacharjee
An anti-war activist dressed as an Abu Ghraib prison inmate during a protest staged against Professor John Yoo outside the UC Berkeley Boalt Hall School of Law Monday.
Protesters demanding the dismissal of Professor Yoo from the law school for his role in crafting the Bush torture memos.
Riya Bhattacharjee
Protesters demanding the dismissal of Professor Yoo from the law school for his role in crafting the Bush torture memos.
Boalt Hall alumnus and nationally known trial and appellate lawyer Dan Siegel calls for Yoo's prosecution for war crimes.
Riya Bhattacharjee
Boalt Hall alumnus and nationally known trial and appellate lawyer Dan Siegel calls for Yoo's prosecution for war crimes.

Four generations of UC Berkeley law school alumni joined activists, community members and lawyers on the Boalt Hall steps to protest former Bush administration lawyer John Yoo’s return to campus Monday. 

The group called for Yoo to be prosecuted and fired from his position as professor of law at UC Berkeley’s Boalt Hall School of Law for writing memorandums which were used to justify extensive policies on detention and interrogation, even torture. 

The Obama administration has so far showed little interest in prosecuting those who worked for the Bush administration. Despite criticism from protesters and from the National Lawyers’ Guild about Yoo’s continuing employment at UC Berkeley, Boalt Hall Dean Christopher Edley has defended Yoo’s actions as academic freedom. 

Chanting “Yoo should be ashamed,” and “I am so over Yoo,” the crowd assembled outside Boalt Hall at 1:30 p.m. Monday, closely watched by UC police, as students and professors walked in and out of the building. 

The event was organized by the National Lawyer’s Guild, World Can’t Wait and Code Pink, whose members dressed up as “Pink Police” and included a dog sporting a pink “arrest torture” button. 

When the UC Police Department told the event organizers they would not be allowed to use amplifiers outside the building, the speakers either talked loudly or stood on boxes to have their voices heard. 

Members of the National Lawyer’s Guild stressed that Yoo should be held accountable for his actions, which they said had led to the torture of thousands of U.S. political prisoners. 

Sharon Adams, a guild member, called Yoo’s memos “inane” and “secretive.” 

“In the name of democracy, Yoo did all he could to undermine democracy,” she said, talking about the much criticized wiretapping and controversial interrogation techniques like waterboarding. 

“This is the kind of person who is teaching our next generation of lawyers. ... He should be prosecuted for war crimes.” 

The infamous Abu Ghraib torture pictures, which came to public attention in 2004, dotted Boalt’s steps, with several individuals posing as hooded prisoners in chains, and one of them resembling the iconic man on top of a box. 

Dan Siegal, a 1970 Boalt Hall alumnus and nationally known trial and appellate lawyer, said he was angry and frustrated that Edley, a staunch advocate of civil rights, continues to head a faculty which includes a “war criminal.” 

“There is little doubt that John Yoo is a war criminal,” Siegal said. “There are some who try to bastardize the situation, as if Yoo wrote a law review. This person wrote an ideological and legal basis for torture. I am hoping that if Dean Edley doesn’t get wise, we will march down to Yoo’s office next time.” 

Ann Fagan Ginger, Boalt Hall Class of 1960, decried Edley using academic freedom as the basis of Yoo’s actions. 

Ginger, who leads the Meiklejohn Civil Liberties Institute in Berkeley, said UC Berkeley students should have the academic freedom to take classes from someone who had not been charged with being a war criminal. 

Tentative Agreement Averts BART Strike

Bay City News
Sunday August 16, 2009 - 08:31:00 AM

Bay Area residents avoided a commuting nightmare when BART's management and leaders of its second-largest union announced tonight that they've reached a tentative agreement that averts a strike that had been set to begin Monday morning. 

BART Board President Thomas Blalock and Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555 President Jesse Hunt were joined by San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, and other elected officials when they  

delivered the good news for commuters shortly before 7 p.m. outside the site at 22nd Street and Broadway in downtown Oakland where negotiations have been going on since April 1. 

"The big winners here are the people who live around the Bay Area," Newsom said. "Tomorrow will be like any other day for commuters." 

However, Newsom warned that, "This is only a tentative agreement and there will be outstanding work and a membership vote." 

Hunt, whose union represents 900 train operators, station agents and power workers, said he will recommend that his members approve the agreement, saying it is "much more equitable" than a previous tentative agreement with management that his members rejected by a two-to-one margin last Monday. 

Hunt said, "There are no guarantees in life," but he is "confident" his members will approve the tentative pact because he thinks it is "a solid agreement." 

He said the vote probably will take place early next week, although a date hasn't yet been set. 

Two other BART unions voted last week to approve management's contract offer but their leaders said they would have respected picket lines if ATU Local 1555 had gone on strike. 

Those unions are the BART chapter of Service Employees International Union Local 1021, the transit agency's largest union, which represents about 1,500 mechanics, custodians, safety inspects and clerical employees, and American Federation of Local, State and Municipal Employees Union Local 3993, which represents about 200 middle managers. 

Blalock said he didn't want to disclose the details of the tentative agreement because ATU Local 1555's members haven't been told the details yet. 

However, BART General Manager Dorothy Dugger said it eliminates work rules that management believes are inefficient and costly and achieves $100 million in labor costs savings to help the transit agency cope with its  

large budget deficit, which it estimates to be $310 million over the next four years. 

Hunt, who had hoped that the new contract would only be for two years, said the agreement calls for a four-year contract, which has been the standard length of BART union contracts for many years. 

BART labor contracts expire on June 30 every four years but there wasn't an agreement by that date this year, which also has been the case in most other labor negotiations over the years. 

Dugger said, "I'm not satisfied" that an agreement came late again this year and admitted "we still have some improvements to make" in reaching agreements in a more timely fashion. 

She said, "We regret the inconvenience and the uncertainty we created for the public but at least there will be uninterrupted service." 

Hunt said, "We regret it (an agreement) had to come about this way but said he's also happy that service won't be disrupted. 

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said in a statement, "I applaud both Amalgamated Transit Union and BART for working through their differences and reaching an agreement before immensely impacting Bay Area commuters with a  


He said, "With this agreement, the hundreds of thousands of Californians that rely on the services BART provides will be able to continue to conduct their everyday business without interruption. I commend both sides  

for coming to a resolution."

Transportation Alternatives During Planned BART Strike

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Thursday August 13, 2009 - 04:29:00 PM

With a strike by BART employees scheduled to begin on Monday, Aug. 17, City of Berkeley officials met Friday afternoon to prepare for the expected transit problems. 

Following the meeting, acting City Manager Lisa Caronna issued the following statement: "Like all employers, we know that employees will be affected either directly, because they commute to work on BART, or indirectly, because other routes and transit options will be more crowded. We are asking all of our employees to plan ahead and anticipate how the strike might affect them." 

Besides suggesting carpooling and vanpooling, city officials suggested that persons not familiar with parking in Berkeley should visit the city's Off-Street Parking webpage for information on places to park in the city. While several Berkeley garages offer all-day parking, city officials note that the Elmwood and Berkeley Way lots have limited durations. 

For those interested in biking to, from, or through Berkeley, the city operates a biking information page

In addition, the following transportation alternatives and contingency plans for Berkeley residents and workers are being made available by various other local government agencies: 


General information 

    Information on Bay Area transportation alternatives during the BART strike can be obtained at 511.org, website operated by the Metropolitan Transit Commission. 


BART alternatives in Berkeley 

While BART will be operating connecting buses from the East Bay for the Monday to Friday San Francisco commute, no such service will be available directly from any of the three Berkeley BART Stations (Downtown, Ashby, and North Berkeley). 

BART will operate buses between 5 a.m. and 9 a.m. from the El Cerrito del Norte BART Station to the West Oakland BART Station, with connecting buses taking commuters to San Francisco from West Oakland BART. The buses will let passengers off at the corner of Fremont and Folsom streets. In the evenings, between 3 p.m. and 8 p.m., BART will run return bus shuttles from Fremont and Folsom in San Francisco to the West Oakland BART station, with connecting buses to El Cerrito del Norte BART. Similar bus service will be operated from BART's Dublin/Pleasanton, Walnut Creek, and Fremont stations. 

Round trip fare for the BART transbay commute buses is $5. 

For Berkeley commuters, BART will keep open the Ashby and North Berkeley BART parking lots with free parking, and is encouraging "casual car pooling" from those locations. 


AC Transit 

AC Transit plans no extra bus service in Berkeley in response to the BART strike. 


UC Berkeley 

While UC Berkeley is not planning any new alternative transportation service during the BART strike, the university's Parking and Transportation Division suggests the following alternatives already in place: 

• Join a two-person carpool and obtain a Carpool Permit. 

• Apply for a TransLink Card and receive unlimited rides on AC Transit at the $37 per month rate. 

• Purchase daily scratch-off permits and park on campus. 

State Launches New Website for Standardized Tests

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Friday August 14, 2009 - 07:16:00 PM

The California Department of Education Friday launched a new website to help parents and teachers understand the Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) Program better. 

The STAR Program is a statewide standardized test given to measure student performance levels at public schools. 

Concerns from parents and teachers prompted the state Department of Education and the State Board of Education to design a new website, www.starsamplequestions.org, which includes dozens of actual test questions students have faced in every grade. 

Dr. Yvonne Chan, a member of the State Board of Education, said that “Parents and teachers can be better partners in helping students succeed if we demystify our assessments and what we are asking students to demonstrate when they take the state tests.“  

Chan strongly encouraged school districts to use the link on their websites. 

The new website has a search feature and includes information about the state’s expectations of student performance as well who is eligible to take the tests. The site also offers guidelines for parents according to grade level. 

The results for California's 2008 STAR Program show a higher percentage of students in the Berkeley Unified School District scored proficient or above in reading, writing and mathematics as compared with the state results.  

The state education department is scheduled to release the results of the 2009 STAR Program next week.

School Board Recommends Changes to Berkeley High School Governance Council

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Friday August 14, 2009 - 07:03:00 PM

At its first meeting after summer break, the Berkeley Board of Education  

Wednesday recommended changes to Berkeley High School’s School Governance Council. 

Following complaints from parents regarding the Governance Council’s lack of transparency and non-compliance with federal, state and local guidelines, the board formed a two-member policy subcommittee in June to investigate the issue. 

Bylaws adopted by the Berkeley Unified School District for its elementary and middle schools in April 2008 mandated that a single committee be created to analyze school data, develop an annual plan, allocate supplemental funds and oversee other activities.  

But Berkeley High’s complicated makeup prevented any single committee from being formed.   

Instead, the school has two separate committees—the School Governance Council, which also acts as the School Site Council, and the Berkeley School Excellence Program (BSEP) Committee, which oversees expenditures raised under a special local assessment. 

The school board subcommittee—comprised of board members Shirley Issel and John Selawsky—was formed to realign the Governance Council to make it more consistent with the district’s K-8 public schools. 

One of the main issues the policy subcommittee looked at was the constitution of the  Governance Council, which stemmed from concerns raised about the lack of parity between parents and students and teachers and staff at Berkeley High and Berkeley Technology Academy, the city’s only public continuation school. 

Issel and Selawsky met with Superintendent Bill Huyett over the summer to address these issues and consulted with Berkeley High Principal Jim Slemp about the proposed changes. 

Huyett said that although there was nothing to suggest that the Governance Council was out of compliance, Slemp had agreed that the following short-term modifications could be made before the start of the school year on Sept. 2 in order to address parental concerns: 

1. Eliminate from the bylaws the principal’s right to veto the appointment of an elected member to the School Site Council. Huyett said Slemp had called this a “moot point” because he didn’t think it was necessary to have this bylaw there in the first place. 

2. Continue to post minutes of the meetings in a timely manner. Huyett acknowledged that the high school sometimes had problems posting the minutes online and asked school officials to add school board members and the superintendent’s office to the list of people who received the minutes. 

3. The bylaws will be changed to allow comment on any issue during the public comment section of the agenda. Currently, the bylaws allow public comment only on items listed on the agenda. 

4. The bylaws will be amended to require that an explicit count of votes be taken and recorded in the minutes for both the School Governance Council and School Site Council for any item requiring School Site Council approval. Huyett called this a pretty significant change, explaining that it would help the votes to get on the record in a more precise way. 

5. The district will provide training to all existing and new School Governance Council members. 

Issel said she hoped this would help the members to think of future modifications to the Governance Council. 

The five changes will be presented to the Berkeley High School Governance Council for approval, after which the school board will vote on whether to adopt them. 

As for the long-term changes, subcommittee members said they were still examining three different models of governance: 

1. The K-8 model which has merged BSEP and the School Site Council into a body called the School Governance Council. 

2. The current hybrid model at Berkeley High which has merged the functions of a Leadership Team with the functions of a School Site Council, giving rise to a Shared Governance Council. 

3. The modified hybrid model which would be similar to the current model but would at times have the School Site Council meet separately from the School Governance Council to discuss and vote on matters that require only Site Council approval, such as the single plan for student achievement. 

Huyett said the board had not yet presented these options to Berkeley High.

Union Announces BART Strike Beginning Sunday at Midnight

Bay City News
Thursday August 13, 2009 - 11:08:00 AM

A spokesman for BART’s second-largest union announced today that its members would begin a strike Sunday at midnight.  

BART’s board of directors voted unanimously today to unilaterally implement terms and conditions of employment for members of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555. 

BART management held a special meeting today and in a 9-0 vote approved imposing the terms after the union rejected BART’s final contract offer in negotiations Wednesday night. 

Jesse Hunt, president of ATU Local 1555, which represents about 900 train operators, station agents and power workers, said earlier today that if the board took such a step, union members would strike.  

He confirmed that the union would do so, beginning Sunday at midnight. 

General manager Dorothy Dugger said after today’s board vote, “This is not the outcome I would have hoped to be announcing today.” 

However, she said, “We must take action to achieve savings and put the district on more stable ground.” 

BART chief spokesman Linton Johnson said the vote “was regrettable but had to be done to stop the bleeding,” pointing out the agency is losing money daily due to the cost of negotiations and the cost of continuing under the terms of the previous contract. 

BART board member Joel Keller said he reluctantly supported imposing the work and pay rules because “all of the economic indicators are going down,” including BART’s ridership and sales tax revenues. 

Johnson said ATU still has time to negotiate rather than calling a strike.  

Two other BART unions voted earlier this week to approve management’s contract offer but their leaders have said they would respect picket lines if ATU Local 1555 were to go on strike. 

The other unions are Service Employees International Union Local 1021, which represents about 1,500 mechanics, custodians, safety inspectors and clerical employees, and American Federation of Local, State and Municipal Employees Union Local 3993, which represents about 200 middle managers. 



New Concert Venue Planned for UC Theater

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday August 13, 2009 - 10:26:00 AM

B.B. King is coming to town—or might soon if Berkeley’s Zoning Adjustments Board approves a new concert venue at the abandoned historic UC Theater on 2036 University Ave. 

Business partners David M. Mayeri and Dawn Holliday, who run Slim’s in San Francisco, will request a use permit modification from the zoning board Thursday to convert Kimball’s, a previously approved but never established 900-seat restaurant, theater and jazz club, into a live music, bar and restaurant space. 

The proposed project would restore the dilapidated 21,000-square-foot UC Theater—designed in 1917 by noted local architect James Plachek—into an elegant three-tiered seating facility capable of holding 1,440 guests. 

The city’s oldest surviving single-screen movie theater and a Berkeley landmark, the 1,350-seat UC theater is part of a 31,200-square-foot mixed-use building, which also includes five retail storefronts and 20 residential units on the second floor. 

The theater has been standing empty since 2001, when owner Landmark Theaters decided to close it instead of paying for a hefty seismic retrofit. 

Today its walls are plastered with movie posters and graffiti, and homeless men sleep under its marquee. The building was seismically retrofitted in 2001. 

Rumors circulated last fall about the possibility of Slim’s opening a nightclub at the site, but nothing was confirmed by city officials at that time. 

In a recent letter to zoning commissioners, Mayeri and Holliday, who also operate San Francisco’s Great American Music Hall and produce the annual Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in Golden Gate Park, said that they wanted to “renovate, repurpose and revitalize the UC Theater into a popular live entertainment music venue” to inject more life into Berkeley’s evolving Downtown Arts District, in keeping with the city’s goal to turn it into a major East Bay arts and culture destination. 

Most renovations will be limited to the theater’s interior, including a larger stage and bigger public restrooms. The vacant storefront near the theater’s entrance might become a kitchen for the new restaurant, opening into the main lobby and a small cafe. However, a lack of space may result in the developers working out an agreement with a nearby restaurant under which it would agree to cook food for the club’s patrons. 

The duo plans to hire a staff of 150 to help out with the restaurant, bar and concert areas and are hopeful that the club’s relaxed ambiance and eclectic mix of artists—from alternative to indie rock to world music—will attract a broad spectrum of fans. 

Once famous for showing countless screenings of the Rocky Horror Picture Show to Berkeley teenagers and as the place where filmmaker Werner Herzog reportedly ate his shoe during the premiere of Errol Morris’ first film Gates of Heaven, the former theater might soon host live performances by such big names in music as B.B. King, Elvis Costello, Sonic Youth, Emmylou Harris, The Decemberists and Boz Scaggs, who originally opened Slim’s in San Francisco. 

The proposed project will join Berkeley’s latest downtown music venue, the newly relocated Freight and Salvage Coffeehouse, and others such as Anna’s Jazz Island, the Jazzschool, Berkeley Community Theater, and UC’s Zellerbach Auditorium and Greek Theater. 

Doors will open by 6 or 7 p.m. for 8 p.m. concerts and all shows will wrap up in time for patrons to take the last southbound BART train at 12:29 a.m. Mayeri and Holliday, however, have requested an extension until 1 a.m. or 1:30 a.m. up to 10 times annually. 

Tickets will be priced between $20 to $50. The space will also be rented out for corporate and community events. 

The club will have a zero-tolerance policy toward underage drinking, and similar to other concert venues, adults will need to provide a wrist band or a hand stamp to purchase alcohol. 

City of Berkeley’s Senior Planner Aaron Sage, who is handling the project, points out in his staff report that although large crowds outside the proposed venue before or after a concert would add to the downtown’s economic and cultural vibe, it was important for the organizers to watch out for unruly behavior. 

In the past, Berkeley police have been called to address several out-of-control teen parties at the Gaia Building a few blocks away, following which the city labeled the venue a public nuisance. 


KPFA Funds Not Being Transferred to Pacifica

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Thursday August 13, 2009 - 10:58:00 AM

One hundred thousand dollars in funds from Berkeley radio station KPFA are not being transferred to an account of parent company Pacifica Foundation, as alleged by a KPFA official in a Berkeley Daily Planet story last week, but controversy continued this week over whether such a transfer was thwarted by the allegations themselves, or if the money transfer was never contemplated in the first place, and reports of it stemmed from a misunderstanding in a telephone conversation between Wells Fargo Bank and KPFA. 

There was also controversy over whether KPFA Local Station Board Staff Representative and Treasurer Brian Edwards-Tiekert acted prudently or precipitously in initially drawing public attention to allegations of the fund transfer. And there were allegations that Edwards-Tiekert may have raised the issue of the purported fund transfer to beat off an attempt to recall him from his seat on the KPFA local board. 

Last week, the Daily Planet reported that Edwards-Tiekert had sent an e-mail to “KPFA colleagues” and posted an online petition charging that Pacifica was removing the money from a KPFA Wells Fargo account without notifying KPFA officials or receiving their permission. 

Pacifica is a Berkeley-based nonprofit corporation and community radio network that owns five listener-supported commercial-free stations throughout the nation, including KPFA. 

The alleged—and now nonexistent—$100,000 KPFA-to-Pacifica transfer has been confused with a current KPFA-Pacifica-Wells Fargo Bank transaction also involving $100,000. A year ago, by all accounts with the knowledge of KPFA officials and within Pacifica and KPFA guidelines, Pacifica secured a $300,000 line of credit with Wells Fargo by using $400,000 in KPFA money as collateral. The transaction tied up KPFA for a year. This week, after paying off the line of credit, Pacifica released $300,000 of the encumbered money (plus $20,000 in interest) back to KPFA, while holding the remaining $100,000 as collateral for another line of credit. Because Edwards-Tiekert mentioned both $100,000 figures in his original e-mail, the two separate transactions—one actual and one alleged—have gotten intertwined in the discussion coming out of the fund transfer controversy. 

This week, Pacifica officials and Edwards-Tiekert agree on one thing: there will be no $100,000 money transfer from KPFA to Pacifica. 

In a telephone interview, Pacifica National Board Chair and Interim Pacifica Foundation Executive Director Grace Aaron told the Daily Planet flatly that there was “absolutely no truth” to the allegation that Pacifica was appropriating $100,000 in KPFA money, either with or without KPFA’s knowledge or approval. Aaron said that Pacifica owns the assets of all five member radio stations and can shift money from one member station to meet the financial responsibilities and obligations of another, but such a financial shift would have to be approved by Pacifica’s 22-member national board. That national board is made up, in part, of five representatives apiece from each of the five member stations, including KPFA. 

Aaron said, “I think there was a misunderstanding” about the alleged $100,000 KPFA-to-Pacifica fund transfer. 

That position was echoed by Pacifica interim Chief Financial Officer LaVarn Williams during a Pacifica Foundation National Finance Committee telephone conference meeting held on the evening of Aug. 5, the day the Daily Planet article was published. During the meeting, Williams said that the allegations of the $100,000 fund transfer were “absolutely untrue” and that it was “never my intent” for such a proposed transfer to take place. Williams said she attempted to determine the source of the allegation after reading about it in the Daily Planet story, including speaking with Wells Fargo officials and KPFA Business Manager Maria Negret. “Somehow, in some conversation,” Williams said, “I’m not sure how it happened, somebody got it confused.” 

The conversation in question may have been a July 31 conversation between a Wells Fargo official and Negret, in which Negret called Wells Fargo about another matter and was told something about a KPFA-Pacifica financial transaction. 

In his original e-mail sent to KPFA staff members Aug. 5, Edwards-Tiekert said that “this past Friday, a Wells Fargo agent told KPFA’s Business Manager that Pacifica National had instructed the bank to transfer $100,000 of KPFA’s money to a National Office savings account.” 

A KPFA official confirmed that Edwards-Tiekert was notified about the July 31 telephone conversation between Negret and Wells Fargo, and that the Edwards-Tiekert statement in the August 5 e-mail accurately reflected what took place during that telephone conversation. 

In communications following up the Aug. 5 Pacifica Foundational National Finance Committee telephone meeting, in which he participated, Edwards-Tiekert has intimated that the alleged $100,000 transfer was originally planned, but was aborted. In an Aug.7 e-mail to undisclosed recipients identified only as “colleagues,” Edwards-Tiekert wrote that “Pacifica will not take $100,000 of KPFA’s funds (The iCFO says she never intended to. KPFA’s Business Manager says the bank told her—twice—that that those were the orders they’d been given).” And Edwards-Tiekert’s online petition protesting the alleged transfer now has an August 8 addendum that reads “Pacifica now says it will not actually remove any of KPFA’s funds... The petition below refers to what the bank told us was an order from Pacifica to divert an additional $100,000 from KPFA’s account. That much appears to be off the table for now.” 

Aaron said that Edwards-Tiekert “should have attempted to verify his facts” concerning the allegations of the $100,000 fund transfer before sending them out to KPFA and the public. 

In his initial Aug. 5 mass e-mail, Edwards-Tiekert had said that “Pacifica’s Interim CFO, LaVarn Williams, [had not] responded to multiple e-mails on this subject since Friday,” July 31. 

Aaron said that “it may be true” that Edwards-Tiekert e-mailed Williams with concerns about the alleged $100,000 fund transfer, “but that doesn’t absolve him.” Aaron said that both she and Williams were on the east coast for extended visits earlier this month dealing with Pacifica business. She said that in addition to her job as interim Pacifica CFO, Williams was recently named as interim General Manager for Pacifica’s WBAI, the New York station that is the source of much of Pacifica’s financial problems. Aaron said that in such a situation, “some requests for information [by e-mail] fall by the wayside. We were both extremely busy,” Aaron said, and allegations of a non-existent fund transfer were “not necessarily a high priority. I’m not going to apologize for not instantly responding.” 

Meanwhile, a listener representative on KPFA’s local board, Tracy Rosenberg, said by telephone last week that Edwards-Tiekert’s actions may have been motivated by political, rather than fiscal, concerns. 

Rosenberg, the executive director of Media Alliance of Oakland, said, “I think Mr. Edwards-Tiekert was trying to score political points against the Pacifica National Board in ways in which he feels unhappy about some of the actions they are taking. I think he thought there was an opportunity to make people look bad and so rather than being a journalist and checking data and asking for verification, I think he jumped, and the information was inaccurate. I think that’s hurtful to the station. I think it’s embarrassing. I think he may have been genuinely alarmed, but that being said, there were many sources to turn to for verification.” 

Edwards-Tiekert is a reporter in the KPFA news department. 

Rosenberg said that Edwards-Tiekert is the subject of a recall petition in his position as one of three staff representatives on KPFA’s local board, adding that “if you’re asking about motivation [for his allegations], I think there may have been a campaigning element to it and a making a case of ‘oh, look, what a great treasurer I am, I’m saving KPFA from the evil, marauding national board,’ even if it’s not true. To try to get some mileage out of it.” 

In the undated recall petition, which has been signed by at least 9 KPFA staff members, the petitioners charge that “during his tenure as a Staff Delegate, Mr. Edwards-Tiekert has exhibited conduct that is adverse to the best interests of KPFA, in particular by fostering a divisive and hostile work environment.” 

Edwards-Tiekert did not return telephone calls to respond to Rosenberg’s charges or the allegations in the staff recall petition. 

104 and Counting The Miraculous Life of Erling Horn

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday August 13, 2009 - 10:58:00 AM
Erling Horn, 104, pictured here at his Berkeley Town House apartment following a birthday celebration, recalls his long and eventful life.
Riya Bhattacharjee
Erling Horn, 104, pictured here at his Berkeley Town House apartment following a birthday celebration, recalls his long and eventful life.
Erling Horn with his children Maggie, Erling, Jr. and Arthur in El Paso, Texas, 1944.
Erling Horn with his children Maggie, Erling, Jr. and Arthur in El Paso, Texas, 1944.

Erling Horn knows that you can’t keep a good man down, but as for the world of his childhood, that’s a different story. Horn’s past may be buried, but it’s not forgotten. 

Berkeley’s oldest man was born in Seattle’s Westlake neighborhood on July 17, 1905, at a time when the city was resurrecting itself from the ashes of the Great Fire of 1889. 

Now, more than a century later, Horn still remembers his mother’s tiny apartment on East Eighth Avenue, a modest dwelling that was reduced to a basement when the downtown was regraded and the street level raised, burying houses, saloons, restaurants and shops 10 feet or more underground. 

Today, thousands of tourists merrily traipse through this subterranean city each year on Seattle’s popular Underground Tour. 

Horn recalled his long and eventful life at a recent interview in his airy, sixth-floor apartment at the Berkeley Town House senior co-op on Dana Street. Confetti blanketed the room as a cheery reminder of his 104th birthday celebration, attended by family, neighbors, former colleagues and lifelong friends—some coming from as far as Thunder Bay, Canada. 

Orphaned at birth, Horn never knew his father and has very little recollection of his mother Helga, who died from tuberculosis. He was raised by his Norwegian immigrant grandmother and four uncles.  

After Horn’s grandfather disappeared in New York harbor, possibly while on a fishing expedition, his grandmother, Andrine Horntvedt, left Norway for the New World, landing in Seattle. Two of her sons followed, jumping overboard from a Canadian fishing ship and swimming ashore. 

“You gotta remember, the year was 1903—there was no sense of getting citizenship or anything like that,” said Horn, twisting his face into a thoughtful grimace. “They simply swam ashore.” 

The sons found work and a new name at Hammond Milling, where the foreman decided that this “‘tvedt’ business” was simply too long.  

“What determined the name for our family was this foreman, you see, and that's how we all became Horns,” said Horn with a smile.  

Horn’s grandmother, “the boss of the family,” retained the customs of her native land.  

“She spoke only Norwegian, and we were never allowed to use a word of English at home,” he said.  

But outside, Seattle was changing drastically. An influx of immigrants and an ensuing building boom saw wooden structures give way to concrete and stone, houses give way to apartments. And the streets were gradually becoming populated with “horseless carriages.” 

Horn learned to drive Ford’s Model T, the first car to run on a fuel-powered combustion engine, shortly after graduating from Lincoln High. The automobile, Horn said, ranks as his favorite invention of the 20th century. (The flush toilet, he joked, comes a close second. “Everything disappeared, you see. With the old system you could see until you moved the hole.”) 

Though his lifespan encompassed the birth of telecommunication and mass communication—from the rise of the movies, to the invention of the telephone, radio and television—Horn remains indifferent to the Internet. His apartment gets WiFi, but he has never used a computer or sent e-mail. 

“The Internet, what is that now?” he asked with a puzzled expression. When his daughter Maggie, visiting from Canada, gave him a quick introduction, he responded with an expression of amazement. “I’ll be darned,” he said. 

He steers clear of television news, preferring to watch old Alec Guinness films or reruns of Keeping Up Appearances, the BBC sitcom featuring Patricia Routledge as Hyacinth Bucket. 

Horn said that as a young man, he never thought he would live to see the year 2000. 

“I never worried about that, I just worried about life, like all kids these days,” he said. “I was just lucky to go to public school. I just wanted to grow up, I guess, and be healthy.” 

Horn attended the University of Washington to study electrical engineering. Like a lot of young men at that time, Horn paid his way through college with help from the Reserve Officer Training Corps, and two years after graduating, during the height of the Depression, Horn went back to get a masters degree. 

  “I couldn’t get a job so I went to school,” he said. 

In 1935, Horn married Margaret, a young Norwegian girl he knew from high school and from the Norwegian Lutheran Church, and the two of them took off in his trusty Durant for Oakland, Calif. 

“He said to her, ‘When are we going to take our clothes to the laundry in the same bag?’” Horn’s daughter Maggie said. 

“She insisted, you see,” Horn replied when asked why he married Margaret. “Oh gosh, we had been raised together.” 

Horn soon got a job with the City of Oakland, first as rear chainman in the street survey group, and later—after serving as a captain in the Coast Guard in World War II, stationed at the Marin Headlands—as a traffic engineer. 

“It’s remarkable, but the only job a masters degree in electrical engineering could get you those days was on the survey crew holding the chain,” said Erling Jr., Horn’s oldest son, a former mayor of Lafayette in Contra Costa County.  

At the mention of Oakland, Horn’s face lit up. He was eager to discuss his career there, where he designed and installed the city’s first parking meters, traffic signs and freeway interfaces. 

  “I went around and established the doggone stop signs,” he said, sitting up straight. “I am the guy that located where the city’s parking meters went.” 

At that time, local merchants were urging the Oakland City Council to set up traffic signals and parking meters to improve business. Horn’s job was to pick the most logical place to locate them. 

“The public complained,” Horn said, “but the businessmen ruled. The parking meter itself was brand new. There was no history to fall back on, no parking meters in surrounding cities. Oakland was kind of in the lead in the East Bay.” 

The first meters were installed in 1937. Drivers were charged a penny for 30 minutes of parking—a far cry from the 50-cent increase the city is proposing over the current $1.50-per-hour meter rates.  

Horn still takes an active interest in Oakland’s city planning, scanning the Tribune’s pages for news every morning. 

When asked whether he received any parking tickets in Oakland during his tenure as traffic engineer, he laughed and said “Yes, and I paid every single one of them.” 

The Horns settled in the Montclair District and went on to have four children—Erling Jr., Maggie, Arthur and the youngest, John, who died in 1990. 

After retiring from the City of Oakland in 1961, Horn and his wife set off on a world tour, visiting several continents. 

“We never did go to South America, the wife and I,” Horn said. “That’s the one thing I didn’t do in my life that I wish I had done.” 

After his wife passed away in 2000 at 91, Erling, Jr. said his father often wondered why he had lived for so long. He had survived the tuberculosis that killed his mother, lived through the Great Depression, served in World War II—even survived a cancer scare.  

“Gosh! That’s right, I ain’t supposed to live this long,” Horn said, perking up at the sound of his son’s voice. “I am just a lucky guy, I suppose. ... What annoys me the most is when people ask me ‘How come you are still alive?’ I tell them I don’t know, because I ain’t supposed to be still alive. Of course, what they don’t know is I am ready to drop off at any moment, I don’t have any control over that.”  

“My father is the kind of person America likes to extoll the virtues of,” said Maggie, looking at her dad. “His life is nothing short of a miracle.” 

In 1942, about the same time Horn was serving in the Coast Guard, his name was put in a hat along with two other captains for an assignment to the Philippines. The two other men’s names were drawn and they eventually died in the infamous 66-mile Bataan Death March. 

“If he were there, he would not be here today, and I would not have two younger brothers,” said Erling, Jr. “So it was the luck of the draw that saved him from marching the Bataan.” 

Fiercely independent, Horn was forced to restrict his movements earlier this year because of a weak heart. 

“If I am going to walk anywhere I have got to use this,” he said, getting up from a bright blue armchair to grab his brand new walker. “I can go a few steps without this, maybe 10.” 

His eyesight, along with his hearing, is waning, but he still entertains his neighbors by playing the grand piano in the Town House lobby every now and then. 

“The secret to my long life,” he said, grinning, “and I might as well give it up, is a long, leisurely breakfast.” 

Horn’s 32-year-old grandson Jacques makes him breakfast every morning—usually a big bowl of oatmeal and poached eggs, along with fruit and coffee. On Saturday, he has waffles. 

Gently adjusting the volume on his grandfather’s earpiece, Jacques, who is training to join the San Francisco Fire Department, shares some of the life lessons he has learned from the man he now spends his mornings with. 

“He taught me how to manage my time,” Jacques said. “He taught me how to pick up someone gently from the floor, he taught me how to take care of family—cooking, cleaning and driving. But most important, he taught me a lot about patience.”

Mayors Try to Persuade Bayer to Stay in East Bay

By Rio Bauce Special to the Planet
Thursday August 13, 2009 - 10:59:00 AM

Berkeley officials confirmed Friday that plans are in the works to try to provide tax incentives to Bayer, the city’s largest private-sector employer, to keep the company from leaving the city.  

According to East Bay officials, Bayer Healthcare could decide within two weeks whether to relocate or commence manufacturing the next generation of Kogenate, a drug for the treatment of hemophilia, at their 43-acre campus next to the Berkeley Aquatic Park. 

Senior company officials plan to make the case to the Bayer AG Governing Board that the company should stay in Berkeley.  

In an effort to retain the company, the mayors of Berkeley, Oakland and Emeryville are collaborating to expand Oakland’s enterprise zone to include West Berkeley. An enterprise zone is a state-mandated area that gives companies tax credits to hire and train workers.  

On July 28 the Oakland City Council unanimously approved a motion to ask the state to include West Berkeley businesses within Oakland’s enterprise zone. If the cities succeed in getting Bayer included within the zone, the company could receive as much as $19 million in benefits over a 10-year period, including $13 million in tax incentives, $1.5 million in worker-training reimbursements, and $4.5 million in reduced electric rates from PG&E.  

The East Bay Development Alliance, an organization that lobbies to increase jobs and improve economic activity in the East Bay, assembled the package of economic incentives for Bayer that includes the reduced PG&E rates. 

Officials from the East Bay Development Alliance could not be reached for comment by press time. 

Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates, Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums, and Emeryville Mayor Richard Kassis sent a joint letter to Bayer board member Hartmut Klusik last month urging the company to remain in Berkeley. 

“We recognize that Bayer, as a publicly traded corporation, must make location decisions based in part on cost considerations,” the letter said. “Therefore, the cities are working with the state to create a powerful set of economic incentives.” 

Although the cities may all agree to expand the enterprise zone, the final decision is up to state officials.  

Bayer officials are reluctant to speak about the issue before scheduled meetings among top company officials in Germany. 

Company spokeswoman Trina Ostrander issued a statement late Friday. 

“Bayer is proud of its long-standing commitment to the Bay Area, and especially our 30-year Development Agreement with the City of Berkeley,” said Bayer spokeswoman Trina Ostrander. “We value our local ties and have continuously worked to enrich the communities in which we operate and live.”  

Ostrander said that expenses would be a major factor in their considerations. 

“We cannot forget that by various indicators doing business in California is very expensive,” said Ostrander. “To strengthen the economic diversity of the East Bay and encourage the growth of the biotech sector and green corridor requires forward-looking economic development strategies such as Enterprise Zones. We are currently exploring various options, however at this point it is premature to provide any speculation on future plans.” 

Berkeley city officials are anxiously waiting for Bayer’s decision. 

“We are fearful that any step to move production of Kogenate could mean a move out of Berkeley,” said Michael Caplan, the city’s economic development manager. “We are doing everything within our power to get them to stay here.” 

Caplan explained that expanding the enterprise zone is a regional issue, citing his office’s statistics, which show that most Bayer workers live outside of Berkeley and 3,000 Oakland residents work in West Berkeley. 

Founded in 1863, Bayer, based in Barmen, Germany, is the third-largest pharmaceutical company in the world. 

Bayer’s Berkeley campus is the company’s global center for hemophilia and cardiology pharmaceuticals, including Kogenate. CNN reported that in January 2001, the FDA halted shipments of Kogenate FS after it was found that harmful bacteria were present in the drug’s manufacturing process. 


Traffic, Noise and Air Quality Impacts Seen in West Berkeley Zoning Changes

By Richard Brenneman
Thursday August 13, 2009 - 10:59:00 AM

Zoning changes proposed for West Berkeley could have significant impacts on area noise, air quality and traffic, according to an environmental initial study (EIS) released by city staff. 

The 38-page document concludes that a full “program level” environmental impact report (EIR) is needed, but only to address three of the 17 categories examined in a full EIR. 

In the final section of the EIS, “Mandatory Findings of Significance,” the document acknowledges that the proposed changes “could result in increased development relative to what would be anticipated under the current zoning regulations. This could have potentially significant cumulative traffic, air quality and noise impacts.” 

The document, prepared by Oakland-based consultants Lamphier Gregory, is available at the city Planning and Development website at www.ci.berkeley.ca.us. 

The proposed zoning changes, which would ease development rules on larger parcels and allow constructions of taller, more massive buildings than currently allowed, have generated considerable controversy, with the main challenge coming from members of West Berkeley Artisans and Industrial Companies (WEBAIC). 

The City Council has called for easing development rules, with the goal of attracting new companies created to market patented technology developed by scientists at UC Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. 

Most of the development would occur on large parcels developed under a new master use permit process, which would allow for phased construction, with projects built in stages as need arises. 

The EIS presumes that over the course of 20 years, an additional 3.5 million square feet of new development would be added in West Berkeley sites currently zoned for manufacturing, warehouse and light industrial uses, some of which could rise to 90 feet—twice the height currently allowed under the existing West Berkeley Plan. 

With a program-level EIR, developers would not be required to prepare individual EIRs on each project, so long as a development fell within the parameters spelled out in the city’s master document. 

In its written response to the environmental initial study, WEBAIC contends that the proposed changes would allow “removal of industrial protections on 42 percent” of land zoned for manufacturing and industry, effectively voiding the plans’ call for protection of existing industrial uses. 

And while the city has proposed granting master use permits for 10 sites over the first five years after zoning changes are approved, WEBAIC urges a six-permit maximum over a 10-year span.  

And while the city would allow master use permits on sites of four acres or one city block, WEBAIC proposes a 4.5-acre minimum, which would preclude city blocks of smaller size. 

WEBAIC also asks the city to keep the current floor-to-area ratio of two, rather than the 3.5 proposed by planning commissioners. 

While the EIS assumes the changes would have no impact on city land use and planning issues, WEBAIC argues for inclusion of the relevant section in the EIR, alleging that by removing existing protections on industrial uses, the plan conflicts with the existing plan, 

WEBAIC also argues that the EIS contention that existing city policies would render any impact on aesthetics to a less-than-significant level is wrong, since the new height and building mass standards pose a significant adverse impact to scenic vistas and would degrade the existing character of the neighborhood. 

The EIS does concede that the new rules could lead to potentially significant impacts on air quality, including possible conflicts with the Bay Area Air Quality Management District’s Clean Air Plan, with increased vehicle traffic leading to yet higher levels of air pollutants in a district where levels of automobile-caused emissions already exceed air district limits. 

Those impacts too would be addressed in the EIR. 

In the third category to be addressed in the environmental review—noise—the many sources of sound pollution would be increased traffic generated by employees of and visitors to the new developments and the potentially loud sounds generated during construction. 

The projects could also lead to increased levels of traffic that would burden the area’s roadways, the EIS concedes, and could also result in levels that would exceed those set by the Alameda County Congestion Management Agency. 

In all three areas where the EIS concedes that development could produce significant impacts—noise, air quality and traffic—the EIR must propose mitigation measures, and if those fail to reduce the problems to a less-than-significant level, the City Council must make a finding that overriding public interests trump the ensuing impacts. 

Members of the public have until Monday, Aug. 17, to tell the city what they would like to see addressed in the draft EIR. Comments may be mailed to Deputy Planning Director Wendy Cosin, 2120 Milvia St., Berkeley 94704 or e-mailed to wcosin@cityofberkeley.info. 

Comments must be addressed in the draft EIR.

Settlement Ends Cell Antenna Lawsuit

By Richard Brenneman
Thursday August 13, 2009 - 10:57:00 AM

The long-running and sometimes noisy battle over the installation of cell phone antennas in a South Berkeley neighborhood has ended quietly with a few pen strokes. 

A settlement agreement was signed last month signed by the city, two phone companies and representatives of the Berkeley Neighborhood Antenna Free Union (BNAFU). 

The deal gives building owner Patrick Kennedy the right to lease space to no more than three carriers on the roof of his warehouse at 2721 Shattuck Ave. 

In return, Verizon Wireless and Nextel agreed to pay $22,500 each towards BNAFU’s legal costs, with the city contributing $15,000. 

In addition to the legal costs, the city and the phone companies have agreed to provide documented test results showing that their transmitters do not exceed electromagnetic radiation limits set by the Federal Communications Commission. 

Kennedy, as the principal of 2721 Shattuck LLC, the building’s legal owner, agreed to allow no more than three phone companies—including Sprint and Verizon—to install antennas. 

A third carrier, T-Mobile, had already applied to install its equipment at the time of the July 10 agreement. 

The long-fought battle had pitted neighbors, including Michael Barglow, Ellen McGovern and Pamela Speich, against the companies. 

While the Zoning Adjustments Board had voted the antennas down on Jan. 25, 2007, much to the delight of neighbors, the City Council voted in favor of the projects on Nov. 6, 2007. 

The lawsuit followed four months later and raised the issue of the pro-installation vote of Councilmember Linda Maio, which was critical to the council’s 5-1-3 decision to let the project move forward. 

Maio did not disclose at the time that she had received a $45,000 loan from Kennedy to help her and husband Rob Browning buy a commercial condominium unit in another Kennedy building, an act that led to the councilmember’s deposition. (See the Planet’s Nov. 13, 2008, edition.) 

Oakland attorney Stephan Volker represented BNAFU, acting City Attorney Zach Cowan represented the city, and the phone carriers were represented by two San Francisco law firms. 


(See www.berkeleydailyplanet.com/issue/2008-11-13/article/31565)

Berkeley Chamber of Commerce Hires New CEO

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday August 13, 2009 - 10:57:00 AM

The Berkeley Chamber of Commerce announced Friday that it had appointed a new CEO after a four-month nationwide search for a replacement. 

Gian Paolo Mammone will take over from interim CEO and Rose Garden Inn owner Kevin Allen Sept. 1. Allen was brought in after the chamber abruptly removed CEO Ted Garrett from office in March. 

Jonathan DeYoe, chairman of the chamber’s board of directors and principal at DeYoe Wealth Management, had refused to elaborate on Garrett’s termination, except to say that “he had been let go” and that the chamber wanted to move in a new direction. 

DeYoe said Garrett had been good at some things—such as outreach and forging connections in the community—but had lacked other qualities necessary to meet the chamber’s new goals. 

The chamber’s new mission statement focused on helping new businesses prosper during a challenging economy and creating an active presence at Berkeley City Council meetings. 

Garret had declined comment on the issue, directing all calls to DeYoe. 

Mammone comes to Berkeley from Lincoln City, a small town on the Oregon coast with a population of roughly 7,000. He served as executive director of the Lincoln City Chamber of Commerce. 

An April 22, 2009 article in Lincoln City’s local newspaper, the News Guard, reported that the chamber’s board had “terminated the employment” of Mammone because it had “decided to move in a different direction.” 

Georgia Newton, immediate past president of the Lincoln City Chamber board, declined to give the Daily Planet an explanation for Mammone’s termination. 

“I can’t say anything about it because I was on the board,” said Newton, who also publishes the News Guard. Newton also refused to discuss her experience working with Mammone. 

The Lincoln City Chamber’s new executive director, Mike Holden, said he wasn’t involved in any of the board’s decisions involving Mammone’s termination. 

“I have been here a long time but I don’t know what happened. I just met Mr. Mammone a couple of times,” he said. “I just came here to do my job.” 

However Dick Meehan, who volunteers at the Lincoln City Chamber of Commerce—which has two paid staff positions and several volunteers—said he remembered working with Mammone. 

“I liked him personally,” he said during a telephone interview with the Planet. 

Lincoln City Chamber of Commerce officials also declined to offer the News Guard any explanation for Mammone’s dismissal, except to say that it had resulted in “all kinds of questions and concerns.” 

DeYoe told the Planet that the Berkeley Chamber’s hiring committee had talked to the Lincoln City Chamber of Commerce board as well as Mammone about the reasons behind his dismissal. 

“We are confident that the issues that he had in Lincoln City, which is a very small city, will be deeply embraced in Berkeley,” DeYoe said. “We are very excited to have him here.” 

According to the News Guard, Mammone was hired by the Lincoln City chamber in Oct. 2007 and has a background in economic development, serving as community development director for the cities of Ontario, Ore., and Caldwell and Star, Idaho. 

He holds a master’s degree in urban administration from Wright State University and in city and regional planning from Ohio State University, in addition to degrees in architecture and civil engineering. 

Mammone could not be reached for comment. 

According to an e-mail sent out by the chamber in March, the search committee was looking for a new CEO who “would act as a diplomatic yet forceful spokesperson for the newly adopted mission statement, identify key strategic partners and communicate clearly with members, partners, businesses, city staff and elected officials to establish a clear dialogue and goals to further accountability and progress.” 

The new CEO will continue to focus on expanding membership, developing fundraising sources and support existing businesses, the letter said. 

The chamber search team—which was comprised of local business owners, residents and chamber members—selected Mammone from over 50 candidates, DeYoe said, meticulously checking references on candidates whom they felt could “qualify, perform, and fit into the Berkeley Chamber's CEO role.” 

DeYoe said Mammone’s appreciation of Berkeley’s unique character, along with his expertise in planning and urban development had finally won him the position over seven finalists.     

“We believe he will be effective in communicating and fulfilling the chamber's priorities to champion a great business climate, a smart urban fabric, and foster continued innovation in partnership with UC Berkeley,” DeYoe said 

Deborah Badhia, executive director of the Downtown Berkeley Association, a chamber member, said that the chamber had not shared any information regarding Mammone’s termination with her because it was confidential. 

“I expect the hiring committee to know the specifics of his background,” Badhia said. “But there’s always research to be done.” 

Badhia said she looked forward to working with Mammone to improve the city’s retail sector. 

“There are good things happening downtown in spite of the economy,” she said, referring to the new Shattuck Hotel, Freight and Salvage Coffee on Addison and the concert venue proposed for the UC Theater on University Avenue. “We are going to continue working to make it cleaner, safer and more attractive.”

‘How Berkeley’ Festival Canceled

By Rio Bauce Special to the Planet
Thursday August 13, 2009 - 10:57:00 AM

Organizers of the “How Berkeley Can You Be!?” Parade and Festival announced last week that the party is on hold for this year.  

Festival manager Justin Katz says the event has been canceled due to financial restraints, but that the parade is expected to resume in September 2010. 

The primary source of the festival’s financial problems, say the event’s organizers, was a reduction in the amount of the city’s contribution. For many years, the city donated $10,000 to the event in addition to free city services, including police and fire. In 2008, the city donated $8,000 and charged the festival for city services. 

“Just when we thought we had a balanced budget last year,” said Katz, “the city sent us an invoice that basically said, ‘We are going to give you enough money to pay us.’” 

Berkeley City Councilmember Linda Maio told the Daily Planet that at a recent meeting, City Manager Phil Kamlarz agreed to waive the $8,000 debt incurred from the festival last year. But the event’s organizers say it’s not enough.  

Festival manager Karen Hester thinks that certain benchmarks must be met for the festival to take place next year. She says the event, in order to be successful, needs $20,000 from the City Council and the support of a merchant association. 

“I feel like unless some merchant association comes forward and the city puts in some money, the festival will not be sustainable,” said Hester, who helps put on other festivals, such as the Earth Day Festival and the Temescal Lake Festival. 

In past years, the University Avenue Association has made contributions to the event. However, the association is not on the current list of donors. 

Calls to Maulin J. Chokshi, president of the University Avenue Association, were not returned by press time. 

Katherine Sherbel, a staff member at the Downtown Berkeley Association, said that although the association is sad to see the festival canceled this year, the group usually does not financially support large events downtown. 

In the past, businesses such as Amoeba Records, Mike’s Bikes, Reel Video, and Pyramid Brewery have been large donors to the “How Berkeley Can You Be!?” Parade and Festival. But contributions from the business community have declined along with the economy. 

City restrictions on the event also contributed to its cancellation. Festival organizers attribute a decline in alcohol sales to a recent law that requires that all festival goers with alcoholic beverages be fenced into a beer garden. The festival saw a decline in alcohol sales from $6,000 in 2005 to about $1,500 last year.  

Katz says that the Berkeley event has been “incident-free” in the past and that incidents at other city festivals led to this ordinance.  

Festival organizers applied for a waiver for the event, but the Police Department declined the request. 

Berkeley Police Department spokesperson Sgt. Mary Kusmiss did not return calls for comment. 

Festival manager Karen Hester believes the beer garden has to be scrapped in order for the event to succeed.  

Councilmember Maio said that with more time, a beer-garden variance could have been worked out. 

Office Depot, Employee at Odds Over Berkeley Overcharges

By Rio Bauce Special to the Planet
Thursday August 13, 2009 - 10:56:00 AM

Office Depot Berkeley is taking its fight to the media. After former account manager Earl Ante of Fremont filed a lawsuit against the company alleging that he was fired because he refused to falsify information, the company sought to present their point of view. 

Office Depot overcharged the City of Berkeley by $289,000 earlier this year. In April, the company agreed to pay back the money to the city after an internal audit. On Jan. 15, Ante filed a lawsuit that claims that top store officials encouraged him to falsify numbers after news came out that Berkeley was set to audit its expenses. 

According to a recent article in the Contra Costa Times, John McMorrow, Ante’s attorney, said that city documents nullify the company’s claims. 

“[Ante] received the instructions [to falsify data] on Oct. 24 at 1:05 p.m. on a Friday, and he refused to comply,” McMorrow said. “The following Monday, he attempted to access the company’s computer system only to find out he was locked out of the system. He then e-mailed his boss from his wife’s computer and confirmed the content of the conversation [about falsifying data] they had on Friday.” 

In a statement, Office Depot spokesman Jason Shockley disputed Ante’s charges. 

“The falsity of Mr. Ante’s lawsuit includes the fact that any overcharges to the City of Berkeley were caused by Mr. Ante himself, who was responsible for managing that relationship,” said Shockley. “In or around May 2006, Mr. Ante submitted bid documents to the City of Berkeley which purported to propose a 55 percent ‘average blended discount’ off list pricing. Yet when it came time to enter this new customer’s details into Office Depot’s computer system in July 2006, Mr. Ante set up the City of Berkeley on an entirely different price plan—one offering 10 percent off retail pricing, instead of a discount off list pricing. Mr. Ante proceeded to service the City of Berkeley account for two years without correcting his error.” 

In fact, Shockley said that Ante was fired as part of a series of budget reduction measures. 

“Mr. Ante was terminated as part of a nationwide reduction in force across Office Depot’s Business Solutions Division, which occurred in November 2008,” said Shockley. “Over two hundred employees across the United States were affected by this reduction, including Mr. Ante.” 

Overcharges to the city surfaced in October when Diane Griffin, president of Radston’s Office Supply, noticed discrepancies in the bills and submitted a 100-page analysis to the City of Berkeley. Shortly after, on Nov. 1, Ante was laid off. Ante filed his lawsuit in early January.  

After Griffin made initial findings in the report, Robert Hicks, Berkeley’s finance director, announced at a council meeting in March that Office Depot had in fact overcharged the city. After an internal audit, the company agreed to pay the city $289,000 in April. 

Griffin, whose business competed with Office Depot for a contract with the city, said that the problem is not only local. Office Depot faces legal trouble on several fronts. Five other states—Florida, Texas, Missouri, Colorado, and Ohio—are conducting investigations into the manufacturer’s governmental supply contracts. 

“It’s not just a Berkeley problem,” said Griffin. “Mr. Ante certainly stepped up and did the right thing if he refused to falsify records. … Office Depot is in national embarrassment. Attorney generals all over the country are investigating claims of wrongdoing. This is not a time when companies can be taking advantage of taxpayers. I am very hopeful that Mr. Ante will be well rewarded for stepping up and doing the right thing. This is far from being over.” 

Office Depot says that the company is cooperating with investigations in all six states. 

“We are currently cooperating with the Florida, Texas, Missouri, Colorado, California, and Ohio Attorney Generals with respect to civil investigations regarding our pricing practices,” the company said in a statement. “We are also cooperating with the U.S. Department of Defense, the Department of Education and the General Services Administration with respect to their joint investigations with the Department of Justice.” 

While the company may be in trouble on other fronts, Shockley contends that previous comments made by Hicks at an April 6 City Council meeting, praising the company’s cooperation, vindicate the office supply manufacturer. 

“The fact that the City of Berkeley remains to this day a valued customer of Office Depot demonstrates the lack of veracity in Mr. Ante’s allegations,” said Shockley. 



UC Ready to Hire Builder For Anna Head Housing

By Richard Brenneman
Thursday August 13, 2009 - 10:56:00 AM

Construction is set to begin next summer on a new 424-bed university housing complex, a four-to-six-story structure that will rise at the site of the Anna Head parking lot. 

UC Berkeley’s Capital Projects division has posted a call for contractors for the project—dubbed Anna Head Student Housing West—which will cost an estimated $42 million. 

According to the announcement, the building will contain 200 beds in double-occupancy rooms in a sophomore residence hall and 224 beds in four-bedroom units for upper-division students.  

The structure will be located on a 1.25-acre site west of Bowditch Street between Channing Way and Haste Street north of People’s Park. 

The site, which currently is a surface parking lot, is immediately adjacent to the six-building, wood-shingled, Craftsman-style Anna Head complex, an official city landmark which is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  

The Anna Head buildings, once a private young women’s school and now the home of UC Berkeley programs, will remain open during construction, according to the Capital Projects notice. 

While no work is planned on the historic buildings themselves, the notice states that “selected landscaping improvements around the historic buildings are included.” 

According to the notice, the new concrete-framed building “will utilize passive thermal elements, incorporate energy efficient mechanical systems, and will strive to achieve LEED Gold certification.” 

LEED is the certification system of the U.S. Green Building Council, which awards levels of certification based on a building’s energy-conserving features. Gold is the second-highest level of certification, exceeded only by Platinum. 

“Silver is our current requirement,” said UCB Public Affairs Executive Director Dan Mogulof, “but we’ll try for gold.” 

With construction starting next summer, the building should be ready for students to move in by the fall 2012 semester, according to the notice. 

The university’s Residential and Students Service Programs office will administer the building, which will also be used to house visitors to summer conferences at the university.  

None of the funds for the project will come from central campus sources, Mogulof said. RSSP will use housing reserve funds and debt financing to bankroll the building.. 

Submission of prequalifications, which closed Aug. 1, is the first step toward bidding on the project. Only those who have qualified will be able to submit bids. 

The forms are posted on the university’s website at www.cp.berkeley.edu/AdsForBids.html. 

The site of the new housing complex had also been considered for another UCB project in 2005, deluxe accommodations for corporate executives attending costly seminars at the university’s Haas School of Business. The university opted instead for Bowles Hall, then shelved the project. 

When the university issued its initial call for an architect to design the student housing project on the parking lot 13 months ago, the structure was proposed as a $75 million, two-building 479-bed complex. 

The new proposal consolidates the two structures into one, trimming $33 million in costs and 55 beds in the process while retaining the same basic construction and occupancy schedule. 

Mogulof said the building’s design is still a work in progress, including the directions the higher and lower elevations will face. 

The 205 parking spaces currently on the lot will not be replaced, he said.

Cuban 5 Art Exhibit Opens at La Peña Cultural Center

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday August 13, 2009 - 10:55:00 AM
Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker reads from "Letters of Love and Hope."
Bill Hackwell
Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker reads from "Letters of Love and Hope."
Antonio Guerrero's painting of Cuban leader Fidel Castro.
Antonio Guerrero's painting of Cuban leader Fidel Castro.

The Cuban 5 have come to Berkeley—in spirit if not in person. 

“From My Altitude,” a touring exhibit of 25 paintings by Antonio Guerrero, one of the five men facing stiff sentences in U.S. prisons for spying, opened at La Peña Cultural Center Aug. 6 and will continue through the end of the month. 

Although hailed as heroes in their own country, most Americans know little—if anything—about the Cuban 5. The Cuban government asserts they were gathering information to protect Cuba from right-wing terrorists, not conspiring to commit a crime against the United States, as alleged. 

Guerrero, Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, René González and Fernando González were arrested in 1998 in Miami and convicted three years later of being unregistered foreign agents. 

The Associated Press reported that three of them were also found guilty of espionage for failed efforts to get military secrets from the U.S. Southern Command headquarters. The AP also reported that Hernández was convicted of a conspiracy to murder four Miami-based pilots who died when their planes were shot down on Feb. 24, 1996, by a Cuban MiG in international waters off Cuba’s northern coast. 

Facing sentences that span from 15 years to life, all five have been working with their lawyers and international human rights advocates to draw attention to their situation.  

Hernández and René González have been involved in lengthy visitation rights battles over the U.S. government’s refusal, on at least nine occasions, to grant visas to Hernández’ wife Adrianna Perez and René González’ wife Olga Salanueva to visit their husbands. 

Labañino and Guerrero have been serving life sentences and Fernando González was sentenced to 19 years. A federal appeals court ruled their sentences were too long last year and ordered new sentences for all three. They are scheduled to be re-sentenced in October. 

The paintings Guerrero produced in the isolation of his cell in Florence Colorado Penitentiary include portraits of the prisoners’ mothers, wives and children, Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, and familiar landscapes from Cuba. 

“Even Nelson Mandela, who endured 27 years of hard labor in prison on Robben Island under apartheid South Africa, was still allowed to see his wife,” said Alicia Jrapko, national coordinator for the International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban 5, the event organizer. “How is it that the U.S., which promotes itself as the champion of human rights, can be more punitive and cruel than apartheid South Africa when it comes to visitation rights for Olga and Adrianna?”   

Drawing comparisons between the problems that existed in Cuba and the City of Richmond, a sister city to Regla, Cuba, Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin stressed the importance of creating more awareness about the issue. 

“The mainstream press has dissed Richmond in the same way it has dissed Cuba,” said McLaughlin, who will be leading a delegation to Regla in November to meet with the families of the five men. The Richmond-Regla Sister City Association co-sponsored the exhibit at La Peña. “We know that the way to overcome hardship is to link in unity,” said McLaughlin, who last visited Cuba in 1986. “Richmond is making an effort to build a sustainable city—empowerment is the way forward. The Cuban people have made a revolution and are living it.” 

McLaughlin’s efforts to pass a resolution in the Richmond City Council calling for the freedom of the Cuban 5 and their visitation rights were successful. 

A five-minute video clip from the documentary Against the Silence: The Family of the Five Speak Out, by New York filmmakers Sally O'Brien and Jennifer Wager, showed Adrianna recalling how the news of her husband’s arrest changed the course of their marriage. 

She talked about sporadic phone conversations with Gerardo, during which only he was allowed to call her for a few minutes from the prison. Most of the five men’s children have grown up without their fathers, and some of them have not seen each other in 11 years. 

“I have traveled all over the world talking to lawyers,” said Adrianna, who is trying to raise awareness of the case. “Sadly, American people do not know.” 

The International Committee is planning to hold a series of gatherings this year featuring Nobel laureates, artists, actors and activists who will call on President Barack Obama to end the U.S. blockade to Cuba and support the cause of freedom for the Cuban 5. 

Local political analyst and author Michael Parenti, who is a member of the International Commission for the Rights of Family Visits, denounced the American government’s harsh treatment toward the Cuban 5. 

“Here are five exceptionally intelligent, sensitive, admirable, dedicated, and democratically minded men who committed no act of espionage or sabotage against the U.S. government,” Parenti said. “For their valiant efforts against the terrorists they have been given draconian sentences.” 

Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Alice Walker also spoke in support of the five men. 

“What has happened to them is shameful,” Walker told the Daily Planet before taking the podium. “For those of us who believe our country is for justice, it’s shameful. These men have left behind their wives and their children. Their only fault is trying to protect their country. The least we can do in this country is to speak up against the injustice and express our concern and affection for these people in the prison.” 

Walker, who lives in the Bay Area, has supported the Cuban revolution since she was 15 years old. 

“Injustice is the greatest foundation of hatred and this is what we continue to create, and we do it as if we don’t understand this,” Walker told the audience. “We understand this, but we keep harming people deliberately, making them suffer. Our government does this, our country does this over and over through the centuries. So what can our future be if we mistreat people in this way?” 

Walker said the painting she had been touched by the most was the one Guerrero made of the cell door he saw every day. 

She later read aloud from Letters of Love and Hope, a book chronicling the correspondence between the Cuban 5 and their families, for which she has written a prologue. 

“Time is short,” Walker said. “Does it mean anything to be an American if you can actually send these men to dungeons, not let them see their families, not let them embrace their children, or their wives? ... I think of how much I love the people that I love and how much I love snuggling with them, how much I love cuddling, and how much I love to feel them in the morning, to feel their touch. To take this away from human beings—just on a whim—is actually heartbreaking.” 


“From My Altitude” will be exhibited at La Peña Cultural Center, 3105 Shattuck Ave., through August. For more information visit www.thecuban5.org or www.laPeña.org.

District Braces for Swine Flu at Start of School Year

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday August 13, 2009 - 10:55:00 AM

With school starting in less than three weeks, the Berkeley Unified School District is closely watching the federal government’s new guidelines on how to prevent swine flu from spreading and how to handle sudden breakouts. 

At an Aug. 7 news conference, federal public health and education officials cautioned children with flulike symptoms to remain isolated from their classmates and stay at home for 24 hours after their fever had reduced, instead of a total of seven days as recommended when the H1N1 influenza virus first broke in the spring. 

They outlined President Barack Obama’s four pillars of “National Framework for Response,” as surveillance, community mitigation, vaccination, and communication. 

Officials also announced that they were expecting a new vaccine for H1N1 to be ready by mid-October, and asked schools and colleges to prepare to hold vaccination clinics. 

They stressed that while the nature of the swine flu virus could change at any time, it had so far been a mild strain, similar to seasonal flu. 

School closures would not be necessary in most cases, even if a large number of swine flu cases were reported on a campus. 

Berkeley Unified School District spokesperson Mark Coplan said the district would treat Malcolm X Elementary School as a model for future school closures, if the need arises. 

The school district, with advice from the city’s Acting Public Health Director Dr. Janet Berreman closed down Malcolm X for a couple of days in May when the parent of two students at the school was diagnosed with swine flu. 

Coplan said the district would work with Dr. Berreman to draft guidelines for students based on what federal officials have suggested. 

He said that there had been swine flu cases in Berkeley Unified, but that the patients had gone well beyond the incubation period when the district had come to know about it. 

The California Department of Public Health website shows that so far three Berkeley residents have been hospitalized due to swine flu. 

More information on the latest federal guidelines can be found at www.flu.gov.

Hackers Strike Journalism School Computer

By Richard Brenneman
Thursday August 13, 2009 - 10:54:00 AM

Hackers have struck again at UC Berkeley computers, this time at the Graduate School of Journalism, the university announced Tuesday.  

In a statement from the university’s Department of Public Affairs, the school said a hacker may have gained access to “Social Security numbers and/or dates of birth” of 493 applicants to the journalism school between September 2007 and last May. 

The computer breach is the second announced by the school this year. 

In May the university announced that hackers had stolen at least 160,000 medical records from university computers during attacks that lasted from Oct. 9, 2008, to April 9. 

In March 2005, the university announced the theft of a laptop computer containing personal information on nearly 100,000 graduate students. 

In October 2004, the university revealed that hackers had breached a database which contained the names and Social Security numbers of about 600,000 individuals. 

In all of the previous incidents, the university sent notice to warn each potentially compromised individual of the breaches. 

In the statement released today the university announced that “Any students who applied to the Graduate School of Journalism between 2007 and 2009 and provided valid Social Security numbers will be receiving letters,” informing them of the breach and advising them about what precautions to take.

FBI Joins Search for Missing 5-Year-Old Oakland Boy

Bay City News
Thursday August 13, 2009 - 10:53:00 AM

The FBI is now involved in the search for a missing 5-year-old boy with cerebral palsy who was last seen in Oakland on Monday afternoon. 

FBI spokeswoman Patti Hansen said she could not give details about the case but confirmed that the FBI is helping search for five-year-old Hassani Campbell. 

Campbell was reported missing from the area of 6000 College Avenue at around 4:15 p.m. Monday, according to the Oakland police youth services unit.  

The boy, who uses leg braces to walk and is considered at risk, had not been located as of this morning, police said. 

Hassani is described as a black boy with light complexion, brown hair and brown eyes. He is about 3 feet tall and weighs around 30 pounds. He was last seen wearing a gray sweatshirt and gray pants. 

Anyone with information regarding Hassani's whereabouts should call Oakland police youth services at (510) 238-3641, or call 911 if he is believed to be in immediate danger.

Fire Department Log

By Richard Brenneman
Thursday August 13, 2009 - 10:40:00 AM

Critical injuries 

An 80-year-old Berkeley woman was critically injured in a cooking fire Friday, reports Deputy Fire Chief Gil Dong. 

Firefighters received the call at 5:37, p.m., and arrived at the woman’s home in the 2400 block of Ellsworth Street moments later. 

Despite third-degree burns over 80 percent of her body, the woman answered the door, telling firefighters she’d been burned while cooking her dinner. 

Seeing the severe nature of her injuries and recognizing that rush-hour traffic was at its peak, firefighters immediately called for a helicopter, which landed minutes later at the intersection of Derby and Milvia Streets, said Deputy Chief Dong. 

The woman was flown to the Santa Clara Valley Hospital Burn Unit. 

“We haven’t received an update yet on her condition,” said the deputy chief. 

Because of the severe nature of her injuries, the Fire Department provided a critical incident stress debriefing for the emergency crew.  

Apart from some smoke damage, her home wasn’t significantly damaged, Deputy Chief Dong said. 


Warehouse fire 

A warehouse worker cutting a steel I-beam in an attic woodworking shop at a warehouse at 650 University Ave. inadvertently triggered a Monday afternoon blaze when the heated beam ignited wood behind the walls and ceiling panels, said Deputy Chief Dong. 

Because of the building’s interior structure, it took firefighters some time to locate the blaze when they arrived shortly after a 4:25 p.m. call to 911. 

“There was smoke filling the warehouse when they arrived,” said the deputy chief. 

Once located, it took the firefighters about 25 minutes to control the blaze, and by the time the smoke had cleared, they were able to estimate the damage to the structure at about $20,000.

Dorothy Headley, 1914–2009

Tuesday August 18, 2009 - 01:18:00 PM
Dorothy Headley.
Dorothy Headley.

Dorothy Headley died at age 95 on July 28, 2009 after a short illness.  

She was born July 8, 1914 in Green Bay, Virginia. She attended Antioch College, Ohio, married Robert A. Muller, and lived in Detroit where she worked for the League of Women Voters, and as an interviewer for the Survey Research Center, Ann Arbor. After finishing an MSW at University of Michigan, she worked for McLean Hospital (psychiatric) in Belmont, MA. 

In 1970 she married Robert S. Headley, an Antioch graduate, and they lived in Lafayette for 19 years, hiked and camped with the Contra Costa Hills Club, and supported progressive organizations and candidates. She traveled with Elders for Survival to Nicaragua in 1984 and 1985 to help the Sandinistas pick the coffee crop. She and Bob were members of Neighbor to 

Neighbor, an organization that kept night watch for African Americans buying homes in Bay Area towns where they met some resistance. An active Green Party member, she never missed an election. Recently she bought 41 copies of 

Lester R. Brown's updated book on combating global warming, PLAN B 3.0, to distribute to those who might convince legislators to work for change. 

She is survived by her daughters Gretchen Muller, and Kris Muller (and her husband Wilbur Hoff), nephews and their families, step-grandchildren and great-grandchildren. There will be a celebration of her life at Strawberry Creek Lodge, at 1320 Addison St., Berkeley, Sunday August 30, 2009, at 2pm. 

A memorial donation might be made to the Berkeley Daily Planet, KPFA, Western States Legal Foundation, or to an organization of your choice. 



Preserving the Marketplace of Ideas

By Becky O'Malley
Thursday August 13, 2009 - 10:38:00 AM

The first thing we did on the day after we returned from the European marathon last week was to rush to the downtown Farmers’ Market to replenish our supply of anti-oxidants. Rio Oso peaches from Ram Dass! Union label strawberries from Swanton! Annabelle from Marin with exotic Italian veggies, much more exotic than any we saw at the Campo dei Fiori farmers’ market in Rome! Berkeley maintains its title as the fer-sure foodie capital of the world, with farmers rushing in from the far corners of California three times a week to offer us their best.  

But our other title, the Free Speech navel of the universe, seems to be getting a little tarnished these days. A fellow at one end of the row of market food stalls politely offered me a petition to sign, but before I could even read it a shrill woman thrust her face in front of mine, imploring me not to sign, to hear “the other side.”  

Say what? I can read as well as the next person. I’ve been making up my own mind whether to sign ballot petitions for years now, and I don’t need any self-appointed guardian to save me from myself. My policy has always been to let a thousand flowers bloom: to sign petitions to help anyone who so desires to put their cause in front of the voters, even when I plan to vote against them myself in the long run. 

It didn’t improve my mood in the slightest when I figured out that the petition in question was designed to submit the misbegotten politico/developer plan for downtown Berkeley to the voters for approval or disapproval. Why in the name of heaven should anyone be trying to stop the notoriously strong-minded voters of Berkeley from expressing themselves on this crucial issue? 

The anti-petition antagonists at the market looked a lot like the disrupters of the national health-care town halls I’d been reading about in the European press. The idea, it seems, is that if your point of view can’t stand up to civilized discussion, just shout down the other side.  

This, sadly, seems to be becoming a new Berkeley tradition, led by a mayor (already notorious for stealing newspapers) who regularly squelches councilmembers who disagree with him at meetings. It’s the same kind of behavior indulged in by a nasty minority who are trying to shut down a local paper which shall go unnamed because they don’t agree with its op-ed writers.  

Who are these people, anyhow? Why do they think they have the right to interfere with Berkeley’s cherished tradition of peacefully settling disputes at the ballot box or in print instead of in shouting matches?  

Well, a bit of inquiry produced names for a couple of them. Mr. and Mrs. Mark Rhoades, for two, seem to have been involved. He’s a one-time city planner who slithered through the traditional revolving door to become a big-ticket builder; she’s an “activist” whose main activity seems to be promoting bigger buildings for her hubby’s firm to build. 

People like this have never liked citizen interference with the best-laid plans of the planner/developer/politician axis. The current New York Review of Books has a delicious piece by founding editor Jason Epstein on his old friend and neighbor Jane Jacobs, reminiscing about her role in nailing Robert Moses’ grand scheme for “revitalizing” Greenwich Village.  

Just one quote from her writing at the time:  

“These projects will not revitalize downtown; they will deaden it. ... They will be clean, impressive and monumental. They will have all the attributes of a well-kept, dignified cemetery.” 

And now the planner/developers are offering some of the same to Berkeley. Their behavior at the Farmers’ Market and elsewhere is reminiscent of vintage Robert Moses, who is reported to have shouted at a New York City board meeting that “there is nobody against this—NOBODY, NOBODY, NOBODY, but a bunch of …MOTHERS!” [caps sic] Says Epstein, “his pleas were ignored.” 

The petition to give Berkeley citizens a chance to vote on the proposed downtown plan is an important part of our traditional civic process. We wouldn’t have much to discuss if the previous generation of “revitalizers” had succeeding in having their way with the residential neighborhoods around the UC campus. These were saved by a similar citizen-sparked ballot measure, the Neighborhood Preservation Ordinance initiative. Ironically, that effort was led by, among others, Linda Maio (then Veneziano), before she joined the power elite on the City Council, and by Loni Hancock (now married to Mayor Tom Bates) and her first husband, Joe Hancock, a genuine early environmental leader. 

Anyone who values this kind of civic process should hurry to sign the petition to put the plan on the ballot—even people who might eventually decide to vote to keep it. There’s just one more week to go on record in favor of free speech and citizen action. 

Despite the continuing harassment, signature gatherers will be at all three Farmers’ Markets this week: 


Thursday (today), 3–7 p.m., Shattuck Avenue at Rose Street. 

Saturday, 10 a.m.–3 p.m., Center Street at M. L. King, Jr. Way. 

Tuesday, 2–7 p.m., Derby Street at M. L. King, Jr. Way. 


Petitions will also be available during business hours at Urban Ore, 900 Murray St. (near the corner of Ashby and 7th), from today (Thursday) through Wednesday, from 8:30 a.m.–7 p.m., and on Sunday from 10 a.m.–7 p.m.  

Volunteers from Berkeley Architectural Heritage (841-BAHA) have petitions for you to sign too. 

Finally, if you need a house call or a place to sign a petition in downtown Berkeley, call Bonnie Hughes, 548-8332, and she’ll set it up for you.  

By the way, some eagle-eyed readers will have concluded by now that I’m endorsing the referendum. Indeed I am.  

The Downtown Area Plan citizens’ committee worked for years on a good plan which the council trashed in favor of one backed by big-buck campaign contributors. The council/developer plan is a clever fraud, so clever that it’s even deceived some starry-eyed environmental suckers who want to believe that that Santa Claus is still the mayor of Berkeley. The give-aways to developers are essentially guaranteed, while the give-backs to the public interest (open space, setbacks, affordable housing etc.) are so much pie-in-the-sky, engineered to be easily dumped any time a builder cries poor.  

But you don’t have to believe me to sign the referendum petition. Just support free speech in Berkeley, and make up your mind later. If the question goes on the ballot, the facts will come out in the campaign (though of course developer megabucks will be spent to confuse you.)  

The absolute last day to turn in petitions is Thursday, Aug. 20, a week from today, but PLEASE don’t wait that long. Signatures have to be checked against the voter list, a laborious process.  

Do it now, get it over with, take your stand for continuing free speech in Berkeley. 

Inscribed on the fountain in Rome’s Campo dei Fiori is this: FA DEL BEN E LASSA DIRE (“Do well and let them talk”). That would be a good motto for Berkeley’s Farmers’ Markets too, which should continue to be a marketplace of ideas as well as of produce.  

And stop whining about why you never go downtown. This may be your last chance to do something meaningful about it, before downtown Berkeley turns into La Defense and you have to do all your shopping at El Cerrito Plaza. 


Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

Thursday August 13, 2009 - 10:37:00 AM


Editors, Daily Planet: 

Citizens have few tools to rein in a City Council that has been corrupted by money and greed. Lawsuits (very expensive), citizen initiatives and referendums are all we have. Referendums are extremely difficult to pull off; thousands of signatures of qualified voters must be gathered within just 30 days after the council approves a misguided plan. 

A petition is in circulation to “referend” the Downtown Area Plan recently passed by a majority of Berkeley’s City Council. 

The plan is utterly ridiculous. 

Our town is slathered with apartment vacancies, retail vacancies and bank-owned condos, while several huge construction projects are poised to open into a depressed market. It is therefore difficult to imagine how anyone could think that 22-story buildings would solve Berkeley’s woes. 

At the North Berkeley Farmer’s Market on Aug. 6, several citizens were exercising their right to gather signatures for this referendum. Five people, including developer and Planning Commissioner David Stoloff, showed up to interfere with the democratic process. When Berkeley residents agreed to sign our petition, these disinformers swooped in to persuade them otherwise. Petition gatherers are required by the Ecology Center, which runs the Farmers’ Markets, to stand at a table; they are not allowed to approach customers. Yet the disinformers were allowed to break the rules and approach people freely. 

Before the referendum began, Mayor Tom Bates promised to fight it vigorously. I have to wonder if the Ecology Center is acting in concert with the man who began his mayoral career stealing newspapers (and lying about it)—to subvert the democratic process. 

Gale Garcia 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

It’s been quite a week for the weakened state of democracy in Berkeley. Barely Livable Berkeley, the developer’s lobbying group masquerading as environmentalists, has mounted a full-scale assault on the attempt to put the City Council’s Downtown Area Plan before Berkeley voters, coordinating articles and pushing publishers across the East Bay to cast the attempt as anti-growth, while sending out developers and their employees to physically obstruct signature gathering. If you’re a progressive, it says a lot about the level of the onslaught that it’s necessary to be reminded that Berkeley, like most cities in America, is a place where money talks; it’s screaming right now. 

So here are the essentials. There are indeed anti-growth forces in Berkeley. But those of us hoping to actually have the people of Berkeley involved in the discussion of the fate of their downtown are not among them. We are the people who foolishly believed this council when they set up a process we bought into, called the Downtown Area Plan Advisory Committee (DAPAC), to assure that the costs to the people of Berkeley of the university’s ambitious downtown expansion plans would be monitored and mitigated. 

The council took the vastly increased height limits from the plan that 17 out of 21 DAPAC members endorsed (there’s simply no legitimate way to cast the DAPAC plan as anti-growth!), and threw out the unionizing rights for hotel workers, the guaranteed minimum wages for construction workers on the height-excepted buildings, the fees for open-space generation that were supposed to balance the cost savings from the greatly reduced parking requirements, and went back on their promise to protect the residential neighborhoods immediately surrounding the downtown. (The official parameters of downtown are expanded by ten blocks, to Hearst and Dwight to the north and south, and the eight-story height limit that the new areas were not supposed to face has been extended to every part of downtown.) 

To give people a chance to sign the referendum without being harassed we’ve set up a place on private property to sign during work hours: Urban Ore at 900 Murray, just south of Ashby at Seventh. We need money, of course, but in this last week we especially need help gathering signatures; visit our website, GreenDowntownBerkeley.org, or call us at 548-8332 or 260-4894 to help. 

Dave Blake 

Former chair, Zoning Adjustments Board 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Thank you for printing my commentary in support of the downtown plan referendum, although my last name got misspelled. Meister and Mester both mean guild member but in different languages: the former German and the latter Hungarian. There’s a Mester street in Budapest, the city that my great grandfather left in the 1880s. Like many European families, mine came to this country to work for a better standard of life and to exercise political freedom. A referendum is an instrument of democracy, used to expand debate, not to obstruct, as the City Council majority claims. If you are unsure about the downtown plan, that’s a good reason to sign, to give yourself and others time to become familiarized with the proposals. A special election is unnecessary. The item can be added to the next scheduled vote in June or November. There isn’t any money to build now anyway, so there’s no rush.  

Toni Mester 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The editorial in your Aug. 6 issue (“Paris and Berkeley’s Downtown Development”) made many excellent points. Unhappily, I didn’t find there or elsewhere in that issue any clear indication of what Berkeleyans can do to slow or deflect the runaway plan which would turn the downtown area into luxury condos and office buildings as much as 22 stories high. There is a fleeting reference to “referendum supporters” in Becky O’Malley’s editorial, and some sneering references to a petition in a letter to the editor by David Soffa. Mr. Soffa is to be thanked for his candor. His heart’s desire is that downtown Berkeley become Manhattanized in coordination with the university’s march of “BIG buildings” toward the bay. 

But many readers are likely to ask questions. What is this referendum? What is this petition? What does it say? One can understand why the Bates-developer-UC interests are keeping it below the radar. But Berkeleyans need to know the factions at work and their wildly different visions of the city’s future. The petition itself is short and simple: it asks only that we be allowed to vote on the Manhattanization plan. I understand that some 5,500 valid signatures must be gathered in a very few days. There will be no professional signature gatherers. I don’t know if there is so much as a central office or telephone number. I obtained some petitions to circulate among my neighbors from Jurgen Aust, a retired city planner. He may be reached at 540-548l. He probably knows other places petitions may be obtained and where they should be turned in when completed. Everything is being done on a volunteer basis, and it will take all the volunteers we can get. 

If this referendum fails because people are uninformed about it—or misinformed—it will be the greatest Berkeley tragedy since the death of the Co-op.  

Henry Anderson 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Good heavens, Berkeley is hardly Paris. No one seriously suggests it could be (although Paris indeed works, as your editorial notes rather contradictorily). Furthermore, we’re not all developers here, and we’re quite literate, thank you, and adequately sophisticated. Many of us who wholeheartedly support the Downtown Area Plan realize that what matters right now is the growth taking place in California, not some vacation destination. Our community is much broader than Berkeley alone. We care about the edges of our urban area (where there’s still open country and farmland) as well as the centers (where one can get around easily to workplaces, marketplaces, and entertainment). We need both, and conserving the former depends on improving the latter.  

William H. Whyte made the case convincingly some 40 years ago in The Last Landscape: “How our cities and suburbs can be better places to live in—because more people will be living in them.” No one could accuse the famously urbane Holly Whyte of being unsophisticated, and he was certainly no developer (he was Jane Jacobs’s mentor, even). His views, to which many of us subscribe, are as persuasive as ever.  

Steve Scholl 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The Aug. 6 editorial was excellent. As a dual-citizen (American first, French second), as an “architecte” graduate from UC Berkeley who practiced in France, and as an early Jane Jacobs convert, I congratulate Ms. O’Malley. 

Actually, anyone who lived in or visited Paris, if she/he is observant will note three things instructive for Berkeley:  

1. Le Tour Monparnasse: “Constructed in 1969-72; the architecture, gigantic proportions and monolithic appearance were criticized as being out of place in Paris’s urban landscape. Two years after its completion, the construction of skyscrapers in the city center was forbidden.” (Wikipedia)  

2. La Defense: Charles De Gaulle led an effort to level the western slum area and to concentrate skyscrapers in a single business district rather, than altering the character of downtown Paris. (Wikipedia)  

3. The Low-Rise Fabric of Paris has survived. Where there is blight and horrible living conditions, they are, as Ms. O’Malley points out, in the suburbs. Not good, but at least central Paris doesn’t “go down” to speculators. We are not Paris but surely we can learn. Don’t we have the “brightest per capita” electorate in the whole wide world? So let’s do it right. The EastBay 

Express.com had an aricle “You Can’t Be an Environmentalist If You’re Also a NIMBY.” Well I, and many others who have responded, beg to differ. We CAN be an “Environmentalist” without being a NIMBY. Please sign the petition asking for a referendum on the Bates and developer engineered, unilateral Council Downtown Plan. The referendum is endorsed by Council Members Arreguin; his fourth district is the downtown district affected, and Kriss Worthington, District 7. 

Before the Bates-crafted Downtown Plan is foisted on us, let’s talk. We are, after all, the taxpayers and voters. A request for a referendum is an opportunity to do this.  

Victoria Peirotes 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Thank you for the wonderful Aug. 6 obituary for Doris Richards, Ohlone Dog Park Association president from November 1985 until April of 2001. Though Doris was a dynamo when it came to protecting Ohlone Dog Park from its doubters and adversaries, it was friends who made Doris’s life so rich with laughs, food and unique memories. 

ODPA and Doris’s many friends will host a Memorial and Potluck from 4-7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 12, at the North Berkeley Senior Center at 1901 Hearst Ave. ODPA will provide light beverages, and attendees are asked to bring a dish for eight to share at a sit-down meal at 5 p.m. Remembrances, for those who wish to come after the meal, will begin at 6 p.m.  

Dawn Kooyumjian 

Treasurer, Ohlone Dog Park Association 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I must take exception to Hassan Fouda’s “Propaganda from Kensington” in the Aug. 6 issue of the Daily Planet. It has always perplexed me that Israel is judged only by its worse representatives and that any obscure quote from an obscure figure from history, politics or popular culture can be turned into “evidence” of Israel’s inherent immorality. The essence of prejudice is the moving from the specific to the general—and that is precisely what Mr. Fouda does, when he quotes extremists that have been widely condemned and rejected by Israeli society. 

Should we be as quick to judge the people of Gaza, who have elected a government whose very charter includes this incitement to genocide? Should we be as quick to judge the people of Gaza who have elected a government that categorically rejects peace? 

I urge people of conscience and Mr. Fouda to look beyond the extremists on both sides, to reject those that reject compromise, and to embrace the true peacemakers on both sides of this conflict. This is the path of justice and of lasting peace.  

Faith Meltzer 

El Cerrito 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I wouldn’t let anyone tell me what to think, be he Stephen DeGange (Aug. 6) or whom to support or not to support, i.e. Sinkinson and his ilk. In regard to opinions, nobody tells the whole truth or presents the complete picture, only what supports his or her point of view. In the interest of full disclosure, I am Jewish, of Lebanese descent, and have not supported most of the policies of the Israeli governments for many many years.  

Carmel Hara 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Richard Brenneman’s op-ed on the contemptible tactics of Jim Sinkinson is outstanding. We should bring back dueling a la the Burr-Hamilton match (contrary to received opinion, the good guy won in that duel.) Any business person with self-respect needs to tell Jim Sinkinson to shove it. Who does this pompous behind think he is in trying to speak for a whole group? And if he did, so much the worse for that group.  

Becky O’Malley’s editorial on Paris was very interesting. My brief foreign journeys have been limited to northeast Asia and Central America. Granta had an issue some time back on those horrible high-rise suburban ghettoes that ring Paris. Some of those people are probably sorry they ever left Rwanda.  

Jesse Allen Douglas-Taylor’s column on the parking mess is right on target. The utter stupidity of our city officials here in Oakland is unending. Brown certainly made a major contribution to this situation. They can blame it all on Prop. 13, but we still pay lots of property taxes with little perceived benefit. Also Jesse’s story on KPFA was hilarious. I thought they believed in the principle of from each according to his ability to each according to their needs. KPFA is the profitable part of Pacifica, they should be happy to altruistically self-sacrifice for their less fortunate sister stations. And deficit spending is a bad idea? All their copies of Roosevelt and Hopkins need to be repossessed. 

Michael P. Hardesty 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

In his Aug. 6 commentary, “Green Should Be Green,” John Koenigshofer describes David Brower as “co-founder” of the Sierra Club. In fact, the Sierra Club was founded in 1892 by John Muir and others, before Brower’s birth. David Brower’s storied tenure as the Sierra Club’s first executive director started some 60 years later in the 1950s.  

Brad Johnson 

Legislative Coordinator San Francisco Bay Chapter Sierra Club 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

While walking near downtown Berkeley several months ago, I happened to notice a friend of mine parked in her car with the windows up and the car’s horn blaring constantly. A tall man in civilian clothes was standing by the driver’s side door trying to talk to her. The man had a police medallion clearly displayed on his chest. His unmarked police car was parked several feet behind her car. The man was African-American; my friend was white, somewhat frail, and about 70 years old.  

The officer was telling her that if she did not roll down the window and speak with him, she would be arrested. My friend was having none of it.  

Nearing the car, I said quietly to the officer, “Is it OK if I mention that I know her?” He nodded. 

I explained to my friend that the gentleman was a police officer and he was asking her to roll down the window so he could speak to her. She opened the window a small way and they talked. 

The officer explained that he was stopping her because he had observed her driving too fast in a local school zone. He said the limit was lower there to protect the children, who are sometimes impulsive and you never know what they may do. 

The two people reached some kind of understanding and no arrest was made. Perhaps some situations benefit from having a neutral third party who has at least some degree of trust with each of the participants, which could help both feel a bit more secure, so they could have their conversation.  

Brad Belden 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

What does “no safe exposure” for radiation mean (Mark McDonald, Daily Planet, July 30)? The public safety model for radiation damage is that the health risk for chronic low dose exposures varies linearly with dose. The scientific debate over whether there is actually a threshold below which there is no danger is irrelevant for public safety purposes, as there is currently insufficient data to determine a threshold level. The safer procedure is to assume the linear model is correct. 

However, because the linear model predicts that the risk becomes infinitesimally small as the dose becomes equally small, the statement that there is no “safe” exposure for radiation is equivalent to claiming that it is not safe to step outside (lots of hazards), drink a glass of water (you might choke), or indeed do anything, as everything you do carries some risk. Radiation safety standards are set at levels where the risks (calculated using the linear model) appear small relative to people’s normal range of risks. 

Holding LBNL to a zero-risk standard is hypocritical and counter-productive. Berkeley’s Community Environmental Advisory Commission had little time for other environmental issues while the Tritium facility was debated. Terminating a research program, eliminating jobs, and discouraging competent people like Elmer Grossman from volunteering their time to the city is not something to be proud of.  

Robert Clear  

Part-time employee in building sciences at LBNL, 

Community Environmental Advisory Commissioner 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

John Yoo resumes teaching at UC Law School on Monday, Aug. 17. He’s teaching civil procedure, a requirement for all students. He has 123 students enrolled in his class. Should students be allowed to take civil procedure with Yoo when Judge Jeffrey S. White of the Federal District Court of Northern California ruled in June that Yoo can be sued for torture by Jose Padilla, a U.S. citizen, and his mother? Padilla is asking for $1 in damages from Yoo for the torture he suffered for many years, and the court decided to permit Yoo to be sued for torture. Yoo is appealing the decision in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, but he will no longer be represented by Department of Justice lawyers. We will foot the bill for his appeal, however, and his lawyer is one of the highest-paid litigators in the nation, Miguel Estrada of the DC office of the Gibson Dunn & Crutcher law firm, the same firm where Ted Olsen and Eugene Scalia are partners. Olsen became Bush’s Solicitor General after he sucessfully represented Bush in 2000 before the Supreme Court in Bush v. Gore. Scalia is Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s son; Scalia was asked to recuse himself in the Bush v. Gore case because of clear conflicts of interest—not only that of his son working for the firm arguing the case for Bush, but his friendship with Cheney—but Scalia of course refused.  

Is it acceptable for students to learn the law from a law-breaker of monumental proportions? With Spain and other countries moving forward with prosecuting Yoo for violating the human rights of men tortured on his legal say-so, does it hurt the reputation of the University of California at Berkeley to continue employing a professor charged with war crimes? How does the Berkeley community feel about this “torture lawyer” living in our midst? How does the University community feel about employing a professor who admits publicly that he gave legal advice saying it’s legal to torture children? How do you feel about John Yoo? While the world’s rage is growing toward John Yoo, will we simply look the other way? Many people, including many of John Yoo’s neighbors, want him prosecuted by Attorney General Eric Holder and the World Court.  

How do I know this? Because every Sunday afternoon from 4-6 p.m. I and many other concerned citizens are in front of John Yoo’s house on Grizzly Peak Blvd. to speak up about his complicity in torture. We have decided that we are not “good Germans.” We pass out flyers, talk to passersby, hold banners, and hope that we’ll spot Yoo. While we know he’s in Berkeley, he avoids being around between 4 and 6 on Sundays. Perhaps he doesn’t want to face his neighbors and the Berkeley community members who are calling for him to be dimissed, disbared, and prosecuted for his role in torture. With over 100 deaths and hundreds of children in Abu Grahaib and Bagram prisons, Yoo cannot be comfortable facing the truth. He is guilty of enabling those deaths and the torture of those children. He should be dismissed and prosecuted, just as Nazi lawyers were at Nuremberg.  

There will be a large protest on August 17 at 1:30 p.m. in front of the law school. A coalition of groups and individuals including Progressive Democrats of America, CODEPINK, National Accountability Network, World Can’t Wait, Meiklejohn Civil Liberties Library, National Lawyers Guild and others will show up to ask for Yoo’s dismissal, disbarment, and prosecution. If you agree join us.  

Cynthia Papermaster  




Editors, Daily Planet: 

This morning I had the great pleasure of watching the swearing-in ceremony of our new Supreme Court justice on television. It was a brief, dignified affair, but one epitomizing the American success story. 

I like and admire everything about Sonia Sotomayor—her rise from public housing in the Bronx to a career as federal prosecutor, trial judge and appellate court judge. I like her pleasant, easy-going style and her no-nonsense stride as she enters a room. 

But most of all, I like her name! “Sonia Sotomayor”—one befitting an opera star or ballerina, certainly not a Supreme Court Justice. I have every confidence that Justice Sotomayor will bring a breath of fresh air, compassion and informality to the present rather staid Supreme Court. 

You go, girl! 

Dorothy Snodgrass 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Children need guiding from their youngest years. Parents and early childhood teachers have a great responsibility towards the newest citizens of the nation. It is important for children to receive the best from their family members and their teachers. Somehow, this does not happen every time. Many children hear abusive language and incorporate it in their own speech. Roughness and coarseness become habits. 

We know that young children try to imitate their parents and teachers. We know children are deeply affected by the media or environment around them. We may not be able to control what the media offers children but as parents and teachers we can practice restraint in our own lives. If we are conscious that our slackness will travel down generations we may choose polite language and civilized behavior over acting it out. 

Let our message to our children be: Do as I do.  

Romila Khanna 


Why Progressives Back the Downtown Plan Referendum

By Nancy Carleton
Thursday August 13, 2009 - 10:36:00 AM

As a longtime progressive activist as well as South Berkeley neighborhood leader, I urge progressive voters in Berkeley to sign the referendum to place the City Council’s adopted Downtown Plan on the ballot as I did.  

It’s important to understand that both plans that were initially put before City Council—the Downtown Area Plan Advisory Committee (DAPAC) plan, which had the longest and most involved community process of any, and the developer-backed Planning Commission version of the plan, which the City Council used as a template for the version it ultimately adopted—are pro-density, pro-development plans. 

Both the DAPAC plan and the council plan have the potential to add thousands of new residents to Berkeley’s downtown. So it’s not accurate to characterize those who support the referendum as being anti-density or anti-development, as the anti-referendum forces have done. While that may be true of a few of the referendum’s supporters, there are too many rock-solid progressives who have historically supported infill housing for that accusation to hold water. The referendum’s backers including two of the most consistent—and most consistently intelligent and well-informed—progressive voices on the council, Jesse Arreguin and Kriss Worthington, along with several members of Berkeley’s pro-tenant, indisputably progressive Rent Board.  

As someone who has been a progressive activist since my preteen days, given the blessing of growing up in an anti-war, pro-civil rights, pro-labor family, and having worked as an organizer for a labor union in my early adulthood (the UFW), as well as on behalf of progressive candidates and causes in the East Bay and nationally for decades, I signed the referendum because I believe our City Council didn’t get it right. Given that the Downtown Area Plan will influence how Berkeley evolves for many years, even decades, to come, it’s worth taking the time to make sure the plan adopted fully reflects Berkeley’s values of environmentalism, social justice, and respect for community participation.  

Signing the referendum gives the City Council a chance to step back and incorporate the progressive elements of the original DAPAC plan, including protections for labor, a larger affordable housing component, a stronger transit component, a stronger environmental component, and a stronger Open Space Fund requirement rather than a watered-down wish list with major loopholes—and, yes, some protections to keep the really tall buildings in the central core of downtown rather than right up to the newly defined edges, where they impact nearby residential neighborhoods (the new boundaries are Dwight to the south and Hearst to the north). If we want to show how infill housing can work, then we need to do it with sensitivity to the impacts on the existing, already-dense neighborhoods in the flatlands. When Berkeley gets it right, other cities follow; but when we get it wrong, they run in the other direction.  

Berkeley shouldn’t be giving away public resources to for-profit developers (which is essentially what changing our zoning standards amounts to) without receiving substantial public benefits in return, including fair wages for workers, a healthy mix of affordable housing, and a strong Open Space Fund so that the downtown we end up with really is livable and green in addition to having more density, vibrant plazas, exciting arts and cultural resources, and a progressive heart the city’s residents can be proud of.  


Nancy Carleton is a former chair of Berkeley’s Zoning Adjustments Board and former vice chair of its Parks and Recreation Commission.  

Why We Protest Chevron

By Michael Reagan
Thursday August 13, 2009 - 10:37:00 AM

On Aug. 15 activists and community members from around the Bay Area will be joining Richmond residents to protest the Chevron corporation’s devastating environmental and human rights record around the world. They’ll be working with a coalition of dozens of social justice and environmental organizations, called the Mobilization for Climate Justice, to highlight and stop Chevron’s legacy of criminality. From faulty environmental impact reports for a dirty crude expansion and ongoing pollution in Richmond, to using the Nigerian military to murder environmental activists in the Niger Delta, to toxic waste sites and subsequent harm to human health (that dwarfs the Exxon-Valdez spill) in the Ecuadorian Amazon, Chevron is responsible for a substantial roster of injured people and denuded environments around the world—not the least of which are the lands and people of Iraq, which is why it’s important for anti-war activists to work with environmental and labor groups to oppose Chevron this August. 

Anti-war groups should join the August demonstrations because Chevron is directly responsible for the war in Iraq. From the era of the Saddam Hussein dictatorship, Chevron has worked diligently to gain access to Iraqi oil. (The relationship started even earlier, following World War I, as Gulf Oil, which became Chevron, maneuvered to control Iraq’s oil in the Mandate period.) Since then it has created marketing agreements to sell Iraqi oil, working around the United States imposed sanctions with the UN Oil for Food program, deemed genocidal by two directors of the program who resigned is disgust. At the same time, Chevron illegally bribed Iraqi officials to sell oil outside of the program, making the government an estimated $11 billion, strengthening the dictatorship. 

Chevron was also instrumental in preparing the illegal aggression and occupation of Iraq. Part of the infamous “Cheney Energy Task Force” that met just days after George W. Bush was inaugurated, the task force worked with the National Security Council to merge “operational policies toward rogue states” with “actions regarding the capture of new and existing oil and gas fields.” Since the invasion Chevron has pushed heavily for production contracts and production sharing agreements through the failed Iraq Oil Law. Now western oil companies’ best hope to directly extract Iraqi oil is the second round of extraction and production negotiations set for November. All the while Chevron maintains its marketing agreements with Iraq, refining millions of barrels of Iraqi oil at its Richmond refinery, profiting from the US war and occupation. 

Besides the direct ties to the Iraq war, there are other reasons for anti-war groups to work on climate change issues, namely, U.S. wars of aggression are often driven by our addiction to fossil fuels. As these resources deplete, the competition for them intensifies, furthering conflict and the resort to military “solutions.” The government spends trillions of dollars on the wars, and corporations reap record profits in the billions, while spending for social infrastructure, health care, schools, and investments to green our economy dwindle. Oil companies like Chevron profit from the wars, profit from the oil extraction, and profit while their actions heat the planet to unprecedented levels. Ultimately, ending the wars and cooling the planet are part of the same struggle, as unaccountable corporations poison our environment, disregard our future, and use government military intervention to acquire more oil. They must be stopped; at the top of the list is Chevron. 

Please join us to protest Chevron at 11:30 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 15 at the Richmond BART station, 16th Street and MacDonald Avenue. For more information, see Actagianstclimate. 

org/west and Actaginstwar.net. 


Michael Reagan is a graduate student at the University of Washington and a UC Berkeley alumnus. He works with Direct Action to Stop the War in the Bay Area.

Crying Wolf at KPFA

By Akio Tanaka
Thursday August 13, 2009 - 10:35:00 AM

As many Daily Planet readers may know there is a KPFA Local Station Board election coming up. I am running for re-election to the KPFA board so I was quite intrigued last Thursday when an article titled “KPFA charges Pacifica with Raiding KPFA Funds” by J. Douglas Allen-Taylor appeared on the front page of the Berkeley Daily Planet. 

The article concerned a petition that was being circulated by Brian Edwards-Tiekert for people to protest the raiding of KPFA funds by the Pacifica National Office. Eden Tosch, the KPFA volunteer coordinator and Philip Maldari of the Morning Show called on volunteers and listeners to attend the coming Local Station Board to voice their concerns also. 

It was a very serious and incendiary accusation that should have been thoroughly vetted, yet in the article Allen-Taylor only notes that he was unable to get hold of Grace Aarons, the Pacifica interim executive director, or LaVarn Williams, the Pacifica interim chief financial officer. 

Tracy Rosenberg, a KPFA Local Station Board delegate who asked Allen-Taylor about the source, reported, “Jesse Taylor e-mailed me back today and told me the Planet was indeed tipped off from someone, but that person insisted that their name be kept out of the story as a condition of getting it and he gave his word and cannot divulge his source. He did say he thought it was unfortunate.” 

Conn Hallinan, who is the KPFA LSB chair and a regular columnist for the Berkeley Daily Planet, opined that, “We don’t know that the information is false because LaVarn has not responded.” 

Ironically the Pacifica National Board finance committee met on the same night the article appeared. At the meeting LaVarn Williams stated that she did not authorize or give instructions for the transfer of any funds from KPFA to the National Office. 

So the online petition was untrue as are the accusations made by Brian Edwards-Tiekert in the Berkeley Daily Planet and forwarded to KPFA’s entire volunteer list-serv and most of its staff list, so it is worthwhile to look at what the Pacifica National Office is dealing with. 

The main issue that was facing Pacifica National Office was the deteriorating financial situation at WBAI which was the result of many years of mismanagement. In fact, when LaVarn Williams as a director of Pacifica National Board tried to inspect the WBAI books back in 2005, she was blocked by the then Pacifica executive director. 

Grace Aarons became the interim executive director only this January. And what she faced was that WBAI was three month in arrears on the rent and in danger of being evicted. Her first action was to replace the management that had brought WBAI to brink of bankruptcy. She fired the interim CFO of Pacifica, Ronnie Hicks, the programming director, Bernard White of WBAI, and she demoted manager Tony Riddle of WBAI to a staff position. 

Grace Aarons, in order to stem the tide of bleeding at WBAI asked LaVarn Williams to fill in as interim CFO because LaVarn is a capable financial manager who also has intimate knowledge of Pacifica finances. LaVarn has managed to slowly bring WBAI and Pacifica back to solvency. 

Grace Aarons also asked LaVarn to fill in as interim general manager of WBAI. LaVarn just oversaw the most successful fundraising drive at WBAI in years. 

LaVarn Williams and Grace Aarons should be getting kudos for doing a yeoman’s job of trying to reverse the years of mismanagement at WBAI and Pacifica. Yet Dan Siegel of Concerned Listeners, who himself was once interim executive director of Pacifica and now running for the KPFA Board, says in his candidate statement, “Pacifica’s survival is once again threatened by a national board whose main effort appears to be the consolidation of its own power and the elimination of people who hold differing views.” 

So the charges Brian Edwards-Tiekert made last week should be looked at in the context of the coming KPFA elections, because two candidates running on the Concerned Listener slate echo the charge made by Brian Edwards-Tiekert. John Van Eych in his candidate statement says ”Help defend our local jewel against further incursions by the PNB into KPFA’s property and funds.” Dan Siegel, in his candidate statement says “KPFA’s resources must be protected against efforts to have it serve as Pacifica’s bank.” Dan Siegel on the CL website also accuses the Pacifica National Office of ‘ethnic cleansing’ because the people Grace Aarons fired or demoted are all black men, even though the LaVarn Williams who is filling in as iCFO of Pacifica and as iGM of WBAI is a black woman. It would have been more accurate to accuse Grace Aarons of ‘gender cleansing’ of men. 

It is possible that Brian Edwards-Tiekert is using the supposed raid by Pacifica of KPFA as a straw man in the upcoming KPFA election. 

It is to be hoped that the election will be decided on real issues facing KPFA. The Unpaid Staff Organization, which represents two thirds of the staff at the station, was disenfranchised, exacerbating the rift between the paid and unpaid staff at the station. The Pacifica National Board had to step in to reverse the decision. KPFA is supposed to be community radio yet Program Council, a body designed to make programming decisions in a “fair, collaborative and respectful manner’’ as mandated by the Pacifica bylaws was disbanded. 

And it is to be hoped that Berkeley Daily Planet will be more judicious in its future reporting. 


Akio Tanaka is an Oakland resident.

Is This Any Way to Run a KPFA Election?

By Donald Goldmacher
Thursday August 13, 2009 - 10:36:00 AM

Immediately following the election of 2004 I formed the Voting Rights Task Force of the Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club to demand that the vote in Ohio be challenged by Sen. Boxer. She ultimately did challenge the vote, which was historic, but failed to overturn a stolen election carried out by the secretary of state of Ohio along with local election officials. The task force continues to the present-day trying to improve the process of transparent, open and accurate elections, succeeding in convincing the Alameda County Board of Supervisors to remove electronic voting machines. 

As many readers of this paper know, elections for KPFA local station board members are currently underway. During the last few weeks, a series of events have occurred that are beginning to call into question the conduct of the election supervisors, both at KPFA and Pacifica. Several questionable actions seem to be targeting candidates who are part of the Concerned Listeners coalition, of which I am a member.  

Dan Siegel, the attorney who so famously fought to regain control of the Pacifica network for its members, and helped to institute democratic reforms at the network, is literally being censored by the national election supervisor. Dan is running for the KPFA Local Station Board as part of the Concerned Listeners coalition, and submitted a candidate statement critical of the current Pacifica national leadership. The national election supervisor is refusing to post that statement next to the other candidate statements on pacifica’s websites, and has threatened to keep it out of the printed election materials. This is not exactly what you would call free-speech. Parenthetically, it should be noted that in his statement Dan voiced strong criticism of the recent terminations without due process of four African-American men employed at other Pacifica stations and at the national office. 

The second example concerns Conn Hallinan, a frequent contributor to this newspaper who is currently the chair of the KPFA Local Station Board, and running for re-election on the concerned listeners slate. KPFA’s election supervisor recently told Hallinan that he would not be allowed speak during several on-air candidate forums. The reason: he was recently interviewed on KPFA air as an expert on the situation in Afghanistan.  

There is a rule that during KPFA elections a candidate cannot be on the air, as this would give that candidate an unfair advantage in air time. However, Hallinan was not a candidate at the time of his appearance. KPFA’S and Pacifica’s national elections supervisors are trying to bar him from candidates’ forums on the basis of a rule they invented, in contradiction to Pacifica’s bylaws, that says candidates cannot appear on KPFA’s airwaves even before they become candidates. They didn’t distribute this rule until after Hallinan actually appeared on KPFA. 

The final example concerns me. I too am a candidate for the KPFA local station board. Each candidate was initially told to record a one minute statement that will be broadcast over the next several months as part of the election process. When I arrived at the station to record my statement, I was informed that I was supposed to have an additional statement 30 seconds long ready to record as well. I protested that I had never received an e-mail to that effect, but nevertheless attempted to record one at that time. Upon emerging from the recording studio, I encountered the national election supervisor for Pacifica, Mr. Radke, and complained to him that this was shoddy election procedure. and insisted that I be given another opportunity to record my 30 second statement—he said he was uncertain whether that would be possible. 

I did receive an e-mail several days later informing me that I would be able to record a new 30-second statement. When I arrived at the KPFA studios at the time indicated in the e-mail sent to me by the local election supervisor, I quickly discovered that nobody at the station knew about this recording session. When I arrived home, I found an e-mail from the local election supervisor directing me to go to her home to record the 30-second statement there.  

You could chalk these incidents up to honest mistakes, or even incompetence. but the past conduct of Pacifica’s national election supervisor, Les Radke, suggests actual bias. During the last KPFA election, which Radke helped administer, one of the Concerned Listeners candidates witnessed Radke leafleting for another slate. During ballot counting, when he was told that Concerned Listener candidate Sherry Gendelman was the top vote-getter, witnesses say his response was to moan “oh no!”  

Concerned Listeners formed three years ago to strengthen KPFA and broaden its reach, and in every election, KPFA’s listeners have given Concerned Listeners a majority of the seats on the board. By running, Concerned Listeners tried to expand the membership of the local station board beyond the clique of board insiders that then controlled it, and to restore a respect for professionalism on a board that had too often attacked KPFA’s hard-working staff as “entrenched.” That makes the apparent efforts to target our candidates with censorship and arbitrary policies all the more disappointing. 


Donald Goldmacher is a candidate for the KPFA local station board.


Dispatches From the Edge: Honduras Coup: The U.S. Connection

By Conn Hallinan
Thursday August 13, 2009 - 10:39:00 AM

While the Obama administration was careful to distance itself from the recent coup in Honduras—condeming the expulsion of President Manuel Zelaya to Costa Rica, revoking Honduran officals’ visas, and shutting off aid—that doesn’t mean influential Americans aren’t involved, and that both sides of the aisle don’t have some explaining to do. 

The story most U.S. readers are getting about the coup is that Zelaya—an ally of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez—was deposed because he tried to change the constitution to keep himself in power.  

That story is a massive distortion of the facts. All Zelaya was trying to do is to put a non-binding referendum on the ballot calling for a constitutional convention, a move that trade unions, indigenous groups and social activist organizations had long been lobbying for. The current constitution was written by the Honduran military in 1982 and the one-term limit allows the brass hats to dominate the politics of the country. Since the convention would have been held in November, the same month as the upcoming presidential elections, there was no way that Zelaya could have remained in office in any case. The most he could have done was to run four years from now. 

And while Zelaya is indeed friendly with Chavez, he is at best a liberal reformer whose major accomplishment was raising the minimum wage. “What Zelaya has done has been little reforms,” Rafael Alegria, a leader of Via Campesina told the Mexican daily La Jornada. “He isn’t a socialist or a revolutionary, but these reforms, which didn’t harm the oligarchy at all, have been enough for them to attack him furiously.” 

One of those “little reforms” was aimed at ensuring public control of the Honduran telecommunications industry and that may well have been the trip wire that triggered the coup. 

The first hint that something was afoot was a suit brought by Venezuelan lawyer Robert Carmona-Borjas claiming that Zelaya was part of a bribery scheme involving the state-run telecommunication company, Hondutel.  

Carmona-Borjas has a rap sheet that dates back to the April 2002 coup against Chavez. It was he who drew up the notorious “Carmona decrees,” a series of draconian laws aimed at suspending the Venezuelan constitution and suppressing any resistance to the coup. As Chavez supporters poured into the streets and the plot unraveled, he fled to Washington D.C. 

There he took a post at George Washington University and brought Iran-Contra plotters Otto Reich and Elliott Abrams to teach his class on “Political Management in Latin America.” He also became vice president of the right-wing Arcadia Foundation, which lobbies for free market policies.  

Weeks before the June 28 Honduran coup, Carmona-Borjas barnstormed the country accusing Zelaya of collaborating with narco-traffickers.  

Reich, a Cuban-American with ties to right-wing factions all over Latin America, and a former assistant secretary of state for hemispheric affairs under George W. Bush, has been accused by the Honduran Black Fraternal Organization of “undeniable involvement” in the coup.  

This is hardly surprising. Reich’s priors makes Carmona-Borjas look like a boy scout. 

He was nailed by a 1987 Congressional investigation for using public funds to engage in propaganda during the Reagan administration’s war on Nicaragua. He is also a fierce advocate for Orlando Bosch and Luis Posada Carriles, both implicated in the bombing of a Cuban airliner in 1973 that killed all 73 on board. 

Reich is a ferocious critic of Zelaya and, in a recent piece in the Weekly Standard, urged the Obama administration not to support “strongman” Zelaya because it “would put the United States clearly in the same camp as Cuba’s Castro brothers, Venezuela’s Chavez, and other regional delinquents.” 

Zelaya’s return was unanimous supported by the UN General Assembly, the European Union, and the Organization of American States. 

One of the charges that Reich levels at Zelaya is that the Honduran president is supposedly involved with bribes paid out by the state-run telecommunication company, Hondutel. Zelaya is threatening to file a defamation suit over the accusation.  

Reich’s charges against Hondutel are hardly happenstance. 

The Cuban-American, a former lobbyist for AT&T, is close to Arizona Senator John McCain and served as McCain’s Latin American advisor during the senator’s run for the presidency. John McCain is Mr. Telecommunications. 

The senator has deep ties with telecom giants AT&T, MCI and Qualcomm and, according to Nikolas Kozloff , author of Hugo Chavez: Oil, Politics and the Challenge of the U.S., “has acted to protect and look out for the political interests of the telecoms on Capitol Hill.” 

AT&T is McCain’s second-largest donor, and the company also generously funds McCain’s International Republican Institute (IRI), which has warred with Latin American regimes that have resisted telecommunications privatization. According to Kozloff, “President Zelaya was a known to be a fierce critic of telecommunications privatization.” 

When Venezuelan coup leaders went to Washington a month before their failed effort to oust Chavez, IRI footed the bill. Reich, as then Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s special envoy to the Western Hemisphere, met with some of those leaders. 

In 2004, Reich founded his own lobbying agency and immersed himself in guns, rum, tobacco, and sweat. His clients include Lockheed Martin (the world’s largest arms dealer), British American Tobacco and Bacardi. He is also vice chairman of Worldwide Responsible Apparel Production, a clothing industry front aimed at derailing the anti-sweatshop movement. 

Republicans in Congress have accused the Obama administration of being “soft” on Zelaya, and protested the White House’s support of the Honduran president by voting against administration nominees for the ambassador to Brazil and an assistant secretary of state. 

But meddling in Honduras is a bipartisan undertaking.  

“If you want to understand who is the real power behind the [Honduran] coup, you need to find out who is paying Lanny Davis,” says Robert White, former U.S. ambassador to El Salvador and current president of the Center for International Policy.  

Davis, best known as the lawyer who represented Bill Clinton during his impeachment trial, has been lobbying members of Congress and testifying before the House Foreign Affairs Committee in support of the coup. 

According to Roberto Lovato, an associate editor at New American Media, Davis represents the Honduran chapter of CEAL, the Business Council of Latin America, which strongly backed the coup. Davis told Lovato, “I’m proud to represent businessmen who are committed to the rule of law.” 

But White says the coup had more to do with profits than law. 

“Coups happen because very wealthy people want them and help to make them happen, people who are used to seeing the country as a money machine and suddenly see social legislation on behalf of the poor as a threat to their interests,” says White. “The average wage of a worker in free trade zones is 77 cents per hour.” 

According to the World Bank, 66 percent of Hondurans live below the poverty line. 

The United States is also involved in the coup through a network of agencies that funnel money and training to anti-government groups. The National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) contribute to right-wing organizations that supported the coup, including the Peace and Democracy Movement and the Civil Democratic Union. Many of the officers that bundled Zelaya off to San Jose were trained at the Western Hemispheric Institute for Security Cooperation, the former “School for the Americas’ that has seen torturers and coup leaders from all over Latin America pass through its doors. Reich served on the Institute’s board. 

The Obama administration condemned the coup, but when Zelaya journeyed to the Honduran-Nicaragua border, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton denounced him for being “provocative.” It was a strange statement, since the State Department said nothing about a report by the Committee of Disappeared Detainees in Honduras charging 1,100 human rights violations by the coup regime, including detentions, assaults and murder.  

Human rights violations by the coup government have been condemned by the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights, the International Observer Mission, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the Committee to Protect Journalists, and Reporters Without Borders. 

Davis claims that the coup was a “legal” maneuver to preserve democracy. But that is a hard argument to make, given who some of the people behind it were. One of those is Fernando Joya, a former member of Battalion 316, a paramilitary death squad. Joya fled the country after being charged with kidnapping and torturing several students in the 1980s, but he has now resurfaced as a “special security advisor” to the coup makers. He recently gave a television interview that favorably compared the 1973 Chilean coup to the June 28 Honduran coup. 

According to Greg Grandin, a history professor at New York University, the coup makers also included the extremely right-wing Catholic organization, Opus Dei, whose roots go back to the fascist regime of Spanish caudillo Francisco Franco.  

In the old days, when the United States routinely overthrew governments that displeased it, the Marines would have gone in, as they did in Guatemala and Nicaragua, or the CIA would have engineered a coup by the local elites. No one has accused U.S. intelligence of being involved in the Honduran coup, and American troops in the country are keeping a low profile. But the fingerprints of U.S. institutions like the NED, USAID and School for the Americas—plus bipartisan lobbyists, powerful corporations, and dedicated Cold War warriors—are all over the June takeover. 

UnderCurrents: While Conclusions About Gates Controversy Are Equivocal, Rise of Latent Racism Is Not

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Thursday August 13, 2009 - 10:38:00 AM

Some weeks ago, a friend from the East Coast e-mailed to ask me my thoughts on the Henry Louis Gates incident. Mr. Gates, you may remember, was the well-known African-American Harvard professor who was arrested by a Cambridge, Massachusetts police officer after Mr. Gates was forced to break into his own home. 

At the time, I told my friend that I had not yet formed an opinion because Mr. Gates had not yet made any public comment on the arrest. Of course, that didn’t stop many others from chiming in, on the blogsphere, in newspaper columns, on the 24-hour cable news networks, and in extended television commentary. And that, of course, is the major problem faced in this era of light-speed community discussion. The debate begins long before the initial facts are in, positions are taken and hardened, and partisans tend to cull each new set of disclosures less to get at the truth of the matter and more to find something to confirm the conclusions they have previously reached and firmly espoused.  

One is compelled to follow the herd in this manner because if you wait for the facts to come in, the discussion has long since ended, and if you raise the issue again, you will be met with arched eyebrows and dismissive comments of “why’re you still talking about that?” If we wonder why—in the midst of an explosion of information access—we remain a backwards and ignorant nation in many respects, continually prone to entrap ourselves in our old prejudices, look to this quicksilver public discussion phenomenon as one of the culprits. 

For a time, the Gates controversy served as a sort of proxy discussion about the nature of race in America post-Obama election, as citizens and commentators poured through and parsed the police reports and public statements of the principles. Two rational conclusions can emerge. The first is that the Cambridge police were perfectly prudent and proper to have responded to the initial 9-11 call that two men appeared to be breaking into a Cambridge house (Mr. Gates, if you remember, had returned home after a trip to find that his front door was stuck closed, and so he and a friend had to force it open; the individual who made the 9-11 call worked in a nearby office, was not an acquaintance of Mr. Gates, and did not know that he was the homeowner). The second conclusion is that unless Mr. Gates assaulted or threatened the intervening police officers—which he probably didn’t, since if he had, that would have been included in the police statement—the officers should have left the house without arresting Mr. Gates once it was determined that Mr. Gates was the owner of the house. 

But beyond that, little can be gained of any lasting public value by determining who was right and who was wrong, in the arrest of Mr. Gates. The problem is that both Mr. Gates and James Crowley, the arresting officer, had a vested interest in shading their respective accounts of the encounter, each to place the blame on the other, and unless one knew either or both of the individuals prior to the encounter, it would be impossible to make anything more than a guess at which of the two accounts might be the more truthful. In addition, there is the normal phenomenon that two individuals can witness—or participate in—the same event and honestly view and recount it in vastly different ways. Finally, there is the provision in civil law of contributory negligence—that while one individual can be largely responsible for an event, the opponent’s negligent acts can also contribute, to some degree or another, to the bad outcome. My guess is that the Gates-Crowley affair falls somewhere in this region, though which man would stand more or less to blame in the matter is, well, anybody’s guess. 

That’s what makes the Gates-Crowley affair a particularly poor example in trying to judge whether so-called “successful” African-Americans still face prejudice in America, which was what made the Gates arrest so compelling and much-debated a subject. 

Some years ago, I explored that subject in a cover article while I was a reporter with the Metro alternative weekly newspaper in San Jose. “In Living Color” was written in response to the infamous incident in which the well-known and popular actor Danny Glover was unable to secure a cab in New York because of his color. While the interviews for “In Living Color” were done nine years ago, they have more applicability to the subject than anything that can be gleaned from the Gates or Crowley statements. None of the individuals I interviewed approached me with their stories, and unlike Mr. Gates or Mr. Crowley, none of them had anything to lose or gain from the information they revealed. All were successful in their various fields of endeavor, and had no excuses to make. And all came to the same conclusion, that being successful did not shield them from continuing racism and prejudice. 

Some excerpts from their stories: 

“One time I was walking along at [Stanford] hospital, I’ve got my lab coat on, the usual hospital scrubs, white coat and scrubs. The only people around here who wear white coats and scrubs are the doctors and the residents. Housekeeping has a very different kind of uniform. I’m walking along and hear this voice that says, ‘Excuse me.’ And I turn around, and there’s this elderly Caucasian woman in her bed, and she goes, ‘Could you empty the trash?’ I thought about it, and part of me was going, ‘Yeah, right,’ but I thought maybe she’s confused, so I went and emptied her trash. I’m not above that. And later one of the nurses went in and asked her, ‘Why was the neurosurgeon emptying your trash?’” 

Gary Height, neurosurgeon,  

Stanford Medical Center 


“There’s also the kind of situation of ‘driving while black.’ You hear a million stories about that, mainly in Palo Alto. It’s not just driving while black, it’s driving while black and not driving a late model car. If you’ve got a car that’s a couple of years old, you never get stopped. But when I first moved to Palo Alto, I was living in a very nice part of town, renting, and I made a left turn (I call this ‘making a left turn into a white neighborhood’), and I got pulled over by a cop. I had my registration and everything and showed I lived about three blocks away from where I was going and after the cop looks at all this he says, ‘Well, it looked like you went through the light and it had already turned yellow, and this is my first day back from vacation, so I’m not giving anyone a ticket.’ … I was allowed to go because I could prove I belonged there, but the presumption was that I didn’t.” 

Margalynne Armstrong,  

Associate Professor,  

Santa Clara University Law School 


“I don’t often go to department stores, and that is in large part because it wasn’t that many years ago when I would go to department stores and was followed, and it was obvious, and I got sick of it. … When I was looking for a home to buy in Palo Alto, this was about 10 years ago, I became very frustrated because the racism was just so blatant. I remember one instance I went to a home where a ‘For Sale’ sign was up and the person who answered the door was either a manager and/or a tenant there, and I was told, immediately, that there was nothing available. And, of course, I checked, and it actually was available... During that same period, I went to one house where I was followed by the Realtor. She followed me everywhere, upstairs and downstairs. It was an open house, and there were a lot of other people there. The Realtor inquired what I was doing there and told me that this house was not for rent, it was for sale. The assumption was that I could not have been interested in buying a house.”  

LaDoris Cordell, Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge 


"[I was in Washington D.C. one night trying to catch a cab around midnight after a movie.] I had on a suit, tie, and dressed as I normally am. I noticed that the cabs were circling and some of them were not stopping, they’d simply go around the circle and come back again. They weren’t passing up families. They weren’t passing up individuals who were white. But they were passing up individual black males. … I just stood there patiently and finally worked my way to the front, and I was at the front of the line and a cab drove up. I got to the front of the line, cab pulls up to let somebody out, I walk over, put my hand on the back door to get in, he pulls away. So I backed up quickly, and then the next cab pulls around, and the guy stopped and I got in. I said, ‘What the hell’s going on here, with cabs pulling up and then pulling away?’ This was a guy who was a black man from Ethiopia or from someplace, and he said, ‘It’s your color.’ And I said, ‘What do you mean, it’s my color? They’re black.’ Meaning the cab drivers. He said, ‘Yeah, but they’re afraid.’” 

Ward Connerly  

(yes, friends, that Ward Connerly) 


The incidents described here are minor in import. A black neurosurgeon mistaken for an orderly, a law professor stopped briefly by police for turning her car into a white neighborhood, a Superior Court judge followed around by security in a department store or assumed by a realtor to be unable to purchase a home, a University of California regent unable to catch a cab. No one was shot. No one was jailed. None of these incidents made the news, except in the form of the interviews I did for the articles. While the individuals involved were disturbed by the various incidents, they were not overwhelmed, and did not allow them to become barriers to their success. 

And so, there will be the temptation for some to dismiss these as aberrations, throwbacks to the old prejudiced times that the nation has since outgrown, residue, like the smell of burnt toast that remains in the air long after the garbage has been thrown out. 

But to dismiss these incidents as aberrations would be a mistake. They are symptoms of the long-term American disease of anti-black racism that waxes and wanes and at times may appear to go into remission, but has not yet been cured and, so, is always in danger of flaring up again, full-blown. 

Always it lingers. Once the nation broke in half over the issue, more than once it has gone up in flames. Now we see once more, in some of the ugly mutterings surrounding the first days of an African-American president—the passed-around images of Mr. Obama in jungle dress and a bone in his nose, of watermelons growing on the White House lawn, Facebook comments from a Southern Republican election official that an escaped zoo gorilla was an ancestor of Ms. Obama—in these things we see a threat for America’s old sickness to come out roaring, again. 

Arts & Events

Arts Calendar

Thursday August 13, 2009 - 10:33:00 AM



Active Arts Theatre for Young Audiences “If You Give A Mouse a Cookie” play based on the book by Laura Numeroff, Thurs. Sat., Sun. at 4 p.m., Fri. at 6 p.m., through Aug. 16, at Children’s Fairyland, 699 Bellevue Ave., Oakland. Tickets are $10-$12. 296-4433.  


Tamar Sella at noon at the downtown Berkeley BART Station. 

Dedicated Maniacs, Pat Nevins & Amy Gabel at 9 p.m. at Ashkenaz, 1317 San Pablo Ave. Cost is $8-$10. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

Grupo Falso Baiano at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $12. 841-JAZZ. www.AnnasJazzIsland.com 

Annie Bacon and her Oshen, Theresa Perez at 9 p.m. at The Starry Plough, 3101 Shattuck Ave. Cost is $67 841-2082.  

Country Joe’s Open Mic with Mugg Muggles, at 7 p.m. at Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists, 1924 Cedar St. $5-$10 suggested donation. 841-4824. 



Actors Ensemble of Berkeley “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” Fri. and Sat. at 8 p.m. at Live Oak Theater, 1301 Shattuck Ave. at Berryman, through Aug. 15. Tickets are $12-$15. 649-5999.  

Altarena Playhouse “Spitfire Grill” Fri. and Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 2 p.m. at Altarena Playhouse, 1409 High St., Alameda, through Aug. 16. Tickets are $17-$20. 523-1553.  

HurLyBurLy Productions “Cat’s Paw” Fri. and Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 2 p.m. at Periscope Cellars, 1410 - 62nd Street, Emeryville. Tickets are $20. periscopecellars.com 

Lower Bottom Playaz “Mama at Twilight: Death by Love” Fri. and Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 2 p.m. at The Sister Thea Bowman Memorial Theater, 920 Peralta St., rear yard, through Aug. 23. Cost is $10-$20. 208-1912. 

Woodminster Summer Musicals “Singin’ in the Rain” at 8 p.m. at Woodminster Amphitheater in Joaquin Miller Park, 3300 Joachin Miller Rd., Oakland, through Aug. 16. Tickets are $25-$40. 531-9597.  


“Babette’s Feast” at 6:30 p.m. at Charles Chocolates, 6529 Hollis St., Emeryville. 652-4412, ext. 311.  


Last Word Reading Series with poets Charles Entrekin and Gail Rudd Entrekin at 7 p.m. at Nefeli Caffe, 1854 Euclid Ave. 841-6374. 


Courtney Janes, bluegrass, at noon at the Kaiser Center Roof Garden, on top of the parking garage, 300 Lakeside Drive, Oakland. Free. www.KaiserCenterRoofGarden.com 

Diáspora Negra: The African Legacy in Latin America, symposium at 6:45 p.m., music and dance at 8:30 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center, 3105 Shattuck Ave. Cost is $18-$20. 849-2568.  

Point Richmond Summer Concert with Claudia Russell & the Folk Unlimited Orchestra, at 5:30 p.m. and Taarka, at 6:45 p.m. at Park Place at Washington Ave. in downtown Point Richmond. www.pointrichmond.com 

Dancing Under the Stars Salsa with Edgardo Cambon y Latido at 8:30 p.m. at Jack London Square. Dance exhibition and lessons at 7:30 p.m. www.lindendance.com 

Mimi Dye & The Topaz Allstars at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $14. 841-JAZZ. www.AnnasJazzIsland.com 

Messenjah Selah, Lady Passion, Tuff Lion, We A Dem at 9:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz, 1317 San Pablo Ave. Cost is $10-$13. 525-5054.  

Alien Cowboys, The Geroso Bros, Lee Koch and The Grinders at 9:30 p.m. at The Starry Plough, 3101 Shattuck Ave. Cost is $10. 841-2082.  

Beep! Trio at 8 p.m. at Jupiter, 2181 Shattuck Ave. 843-8277. 



The Fratello Marionettes “The Frog Prince” at 3:30 p.m. at Kensington Community Center, 59 Arlington Ave., Kensington. For ages 3 and up. Free. 524-3043. 


Berkeley Playhouse Youth Company “Urinetown” Sat. at 7 p.m. and Sun. at 1 p.m. at The Julia Morgan, 2640 College Ave. Tickets are $10-$20. 665-5565, ext. 397.  

Bizarre Shorts Showcase performed by Berkeley Public Library’s Teen PlayReaders at 7:30 p.m. at Willard Middle School, Metal Shop Theater, 2425 Stuart St. 981-6147. 

Shotgun Players “The Farm” Sat. and Sun. at 4 p.m. at John Hinkel Park, Southhampton Ave., through Sept 13. Suggested donation $10. 841-6500.  


“Gone Fishin’” Group art show opens at Expressions Gallery, 2035 Ashby Ave. www.expressionsgallery.org 

“Down By the Sycamore Trees” Works by Maliea Croy and Jon Schroeder. Opening reception at 6 p.m. at Local 123, 2049 San Pablo Ave. www.local123gallery.com 

“Growing Up Asian” Art and essays by Bay Area K-12 students on display at the Berkeley Public Library, 2090 Kittredge St. 981-6147. 


9th Annual Art & Soul Festival Oakland, with jazz, rock, gospel, latin, R&B and more Sat and Sun. from noon to 6 p.m. at Frank Ogawa Plaza, downtown Oakland. Cost is $5-$10, 12 and under free. www.artandsouloakland.com 

Travis Brooks, Jonathan Sarenana, 100 Swans, J Irvin Dally and others at noon at House of Nostromo, 4 Fifth Ave., Oakland. Cost is $8. 

Prometheus with harmonica player Ken Mitchell at 8 p.m. at Grace North Church, 2138 Cedar St. Tickets are $5-$20. 548-2153. 

Diáspora Negra: The African Legacy in Latin America, symposium at 6:45 p.m., music and dance, at 8:30 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $18-$20. 849-2568.  

Kenny Washington & His Trio at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $14. 841-JAZZ. www.AnnasJazzIsland.com 

Andre Thierry & Zydeco Magic at 8:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Dance lesson at 8 p.m. Cost is $15. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

PZ at 10 p.m. at Shattuck Down Low, 2284 Shattuck Ave. Cost is $7. 548-1159.  

Forrest Day, Alex Lee, The Feel Good Patrol at 9:30 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $10. 841-2082.  

Harley White Jr. Trio at 8 p.m. at Jupiter, 2181 Shattuck Ave. 843-8277. 



Asheba at Ashkenaz at 3 p.m. Cost is $4-$6. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 


New Works by Julie Ross Watercolor & Acrylic. Reception at 2 p.m. at the French Hotel, 1538 Shattuck Ave. Exhibition runs through Aug. 31. 

“Sustainable Cultural Intelligence” works by Henk Schusteff at 33 Revolutions, 10086 San Pablo Ave. El Cerrito, to Aug. 31. 


“Visual Thinking Strategies” An interactive workshop on ways to view and teach art from 2 to 5 p.m. at Berkeley Art Center, 1275 Walnut St. Free, but RSVP required. 644-6893.  


Tanaora, Latin and Brazilian jazz, at 8 p.m. at La Peña, 3105 Shattuck Ave. Cost is $12. 849-2568.  

Eva Scow Group at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $12. 841-JAZZ.  

Americana Unplugged: Jimbo Trout & The Fish People at 5 p.m. at Jupiter. 843-8277. 

Mahealani Uchiyama at 8 p.m. at Ashkenaz, 1317 San Pablo Ave. Cost is $10. 525-5054.  



Eileen Myles author of “The Importance of Being Iceland” reads at 7:30 p.m. at Moe’s Books, 2476 Telegraph Aven. 849-2087. moesbooks.com 

Channeling Fela Kuti Spoken word at 6 p.m. at Guerilla Cafe, 1620 Shattuck Ave. 845-2233.  



Wild Things, Inc. at 6:30 p.m. at the Albany Library, 1247 Marin Ave. 526-3720. 


Aux Cajunals at 8:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz, 1317 San Pablo Ave. Dance lesson at 8 p.m. Cost is $10. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

Singers’ Open Mic with Ellen Hoffman at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $5. 841-JAZZ. www.AnnasJazzIsland.com 



New Cuban Filmmakers at 7:30 p.m. at La Peña, 3105 Shattuck Ave. Cost is $7-$10. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 


Kala Artists-in-Residence Talks with Dan Harrison, Noel Hensey and Jennifer Little at 7 p.m. at Kala Art Institute, 2990 San Pablo Ave. www.kala.org 

Berkeley Poetry Slam with host Charles Ellik and Three Blind Mice, at 8 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $7. 841-2082 www.starryploughpub.com 


Bayonics, Latin/funk, at noon at Oakland City Center, 12th and Broadway. 

riff raff brasil at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $10. 841-JAZZ.  

Whiskey Brothers at 9 p.m. at Albatross, 1822 San Pablo Ave. 843-2473.  

Still Time, groove rock, at 8 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $TBA. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

Celu’s Silver Kittens at 7 p.m. at Chester’s Bayview Cafe, 1508 B Walnut Square. 849-9995. 

Neurohumors at 8 p.m. at Jupiter, 2181 Shattuck Ave. 843-8277. 



Free Outdoor Movies at Jack London Square “Splash” Come at 7:30 p.m., movies begin at sundown. Bring blankets and stadium seat. 645-9292. www.jacklondonsquare.com 


Tommi Avicolli Mecca reads from the anthology “Smash the Church, Smash the State! The Early Years of Gay Liberation” at 7:30 p.m. at Pegasus Books Downtown, 2349 Shattuck Ave. 649-1320. 


Caspian Hat Dance, Kugelplex at 9 p.m. at Ashkenaz, 1317 San Pablo Ave. Klezmer dance lesson at 8:30 p.m. Cost is $13-$15. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

Kaz George Group at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $10. 841-JAZZ. www.AnnasJazzIsland.com  

VIR, Murder of Lillies, Huff This, Photons at 9 p.m. at The Starry Plough, 3101 Shattuck Ave. Cost is $7. 841-2082. www.starryploughpub.com 

Mochi Parra & Rafael Manriquez at 8 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $12. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

Adrian Gormley Jazz Ensemble at 8 p.m. at Jupiter, 2181 Shattuck Ave. 843-8277. 



Aurora Theatre “Awake and Sing!” through Sept. 27, at 2081 Addison St. Tickets are $15-$55. 843-4822 or visit auroratheatre.org.  

HurLyBurLy Productions “Cat’s-Paw” Fri. and Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 2 p.m. at Periscope Cellars, 1410 62nd St., Emeryville. Tickets are $20. periscopecellars.com 

Lower Bottom Playaz “Mama at Twilight: Death by Love” Fri. and Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 2 p.m. at The Sister Thea Bowman Memorial Theater, 920 Peralta St., rear yard, through Aug. 23. Cost is $10-$20. 208-1912. 

Masquers Playhouse “Loot” Fri. and Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 2:30 p.m. at 105 Park Place, Point Richmond, and runs through Sept. 26. Tickets are $18. 232-4031. www.masquers.org 

Stage Door Conservatory “Footloose” Fri. and Sat. at 7:30 p.m. and Sun. at 2 p.m. at Julia Morgan Theater, 2640 College Ave. Tickets are $10-$25. 521-6250. stagedoor2005@yahoo.com 


Cody Sai Spring 2009 Fashion Collection at 7 p.m. at Ideas in Motion Studio, 2332 Fourth St., Studio J. RSVP to 525-2130. 


Sonic Strut, R&B, at noon at the Kaiser Center Roof Garden, on top of the parking garage, 300 Lakeside Drive, Oakland. Free. www.KaiserCenterRoofGarden.com 

Dancing Under the Stars Swing with Ben Oni Orchestra at 8:30 p.m. at Jack London square. Dance exhibition and lessons at 7:30 p.m. www.lindendance.com 

Michael O’Neill & Friends at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $14. 841-JAZZ. www.AnnasJazzIsland.com 

Hali Hammer & Friends at 8 p.m. at Art House Gallery & Cultural Center, 2905 Shattuck Ave. Suggested donation $5-$10 to benefit Art House Gallery. 472-3170. 

Smooth Jazz Groove Evening of contemporary & fusion jazz at 8 p.m. at La Peña, 3105 Shattuck Ave. Cost is $20. 849-2568. www.goove-yard-entertainment.com 

Lynx & Jamie Janover, Tystria at 9 p.m. at Ashkenaz, 1317 San Pablo Ave. Cost is $10. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

Generalissimo, Ghost Echoes, Mariana Trench at 9:30 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $8. 841-2082. www.starryploughpub.com 

The Whistlepig Quartet at 8 p.m. at Jupiter, 2181 Shattuck Ave. 843-8277. 



San Francisco Mime Troupe “Too Big To Fail” Sat. and Sun. at 2 p.m. at Live Oak Park. www.sfmt.org 

Shotgun Players “The Farm” Sat. and Sun. at 4 p.m. at John Hinkel Park, Southhampton Ave., through Sept 13. Suggested donation $10. 841-6500. www.shotgunplayers.org 


Poet/Librarians Read with Marc Elihu Hofstadter and Alan Bern at 3 p.m. in the 3rd floor Community Meeting Room, Berkeley Public Library, 2090 Kittredge. 981-6107. 


Rhythm & Muse spoken word/music open mic featuring Minor Excursions, with Gael Alcock, Cello, Sue Draheim, violin, Cello Zymbidium, with Hugh Fox, Adrienne Miller, Chris Becerra, George Meigs, and Marilyn Cooper, tai ji at 7 p.m. at Berkeley Art Center, 1275 Walnut St., between Eunice & Rose Sts. Donations appreciated. 644-6893.  

The Righteous Mothers, progressive folk rock at 8 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center, 3105 Shattuck Ave. Cost is $12-$15. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

Walter Savage’s Well Well Hellraisers! at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $14. 841-JAZZ. www.AnnasJazzIsland.com 

Solo Cissokho, African, at 9:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $12-$15. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com  

Beep! Jazz Trio with Michael Coleman at 9:30 p.m. at Albatross, 1822 San Pablo Ave. Cost is $3. 843-2473. www.albatrosspub.com 

Harley White Jr. Trio at 8 p.m. at Jupiter, 2181 Shattuck Ave. 843-8277. 



Banana Slug String Band at 3 p.m. at Ashkenaz, 1317 San Pablo Ave. Cost is $4-$6. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 


San Francisco Mime Troupe “Too Big To Fail” at 2 p.m. at Live Oak Park. www.sfmt.org 

Shotgun Players “The Farm” at 4 p.m. at John Hinkel Park, Southhampton Ave., through Sept 13. Suggested donation $10. 841-6500. www.shotgunplayers.org 


Damien Masterson Group at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $10. 841-JAZZ. www.AnnasJazzIsland.com 

Americana Unplugged: The Bass Anglers at 5 p.m. at Jupiter, 2181 Shattuck Ave. 843-8277. 


‘Singin’ in the Rain’ at Woodminster

By Ken Bullock Special to the Planet
Thursday August 13, 2009 - 10:27:00 AM
Don Lockwood takes to the streets to proclaim his love for Kathy Selden in the musical Singin' in the Rain at the Woodminster Amphitheatre in Oakland's Joaquin Miller Park.
Kathy Kahn
Don Lockwood takes to the streets to proclaim his love for Kathy Selden in the musical Singin' in the Rain at the Woodminster Amphitheatre in Oakland's Joaquin Miller Park.

Singin’ in the Rain, the 1952 Stanley Donen-Gene Kelly movie musical, has never diminished in popularity in its six decades of showings. But there’s a different way to experience the song and dance than on the two dimensions of the silver (or digital) screen: in three dimensions, live, on the broad, deep stage at Woodminster Amphitheatre at Oakland’s Joaquin Miller Park, with the lights of the Bay Area as backdrop.  

Going into its final weekend, the Woodminster Singin’ in the Rain—adapted by Betty Comden and Adolph Green from their screenplay—isn’t the first time the company has staged this postwar classic. The 2004 production was “so successful,” according to Kathy Kahn of Woodminster, “it convinced us to do it again. We had a sleeper hit on our hands; audiences kept coming as it went along. And they kept asking for it, on the ballots we put out, querying what shows people want to see in coming seasons. It had a high vote for years.” 

There’re continuities and changes this year from the 2004 show. “We were able to get the same four principals back. And this year, the ensemble’s bigger: 42 performers and an 18-dancer tap chorus. When they do “Broadway Melody” with Don Lockwood and all those tap dancers, it’s pretty spectacular—as is the finale, with the whole ensemble onstage in slicker raincoats, holding umbrellas.”  

Woodminster prides itself on the professional background of its collaborators—and the continuity of the institution itself. The Amphitheatre, a WPA project of 1940, is on “The Hights,” as Bohemian poet Joaquin Miller liked to spell his monicker for the panoramic site. In 1967, Woodminster Summer Musicals began, produced and managed by Jim and Harriet Schlader, both Broadway veterans of many original musical productions, Harriet a dancer with the Radio City Music Hall Corps du Ballet and the June taylor dancers. At 95, Jim’s still producing, sitting in the booth and announcing.  

The Schladers’ son Joel is director of Singin’ in the Rain. Choreographer Cynthia Ferrer, who was first onstage at Woodminster at the age of 13, went on to a successful musical theater career, playing the female lead in Singin’ in the Rain’s first national tour.  

Among cast members, Carl Danielsen went to school at Bishop O’Dowd, also started at Woodminster as a teen, and spent a couple of decades performing in New York.  

The Amphitheatre seats close to 2,000, and features a “Kids Come Free” program, which Kathy Kahn notes, “defines ‘kid’ as anyone up to 16. If an adult pays in full and brings a kid, the two can get in for as little as $25 total.” 

Next up—and last for this summer—Brigadoon, playing over the first two weekends in September. “It has a cast of 40, directed by yet another Schlader, Jody Jaron, formerly of the Garden State Ballet. Agnes DeMille won a Tony for the original choreography in 1947. Rehearsals have already started, with some of the same cast from Singin’ in the Rain—and tartans, plaids and kilts all over the place—we’re turning a Hollywood movie set of Paris into Scotland!” 



8 p.m. today through Friday at Woodminster Amphitheatre, Joaquin Miller Park, 3300 Joaquin Miller Rd., Oakland. $25-$40.  

531-9597. www.woodminster.com. 

Images of the Buddha and of Nigerienne Men and Women

By Peter Selz Special to the Planet
Thursday August 13, 2009 - 10:28:00 AM
Garaya, by Susan Matthews.
Garaya, by Susan Matthews.

Two notable artists currently share the exhibition space at the Graduate Theological Union Library. They both produce very different paintings, based on photographs. 

Cherie Raciti’s paintings are the result of an elaborate process which begins with a photo of a sculpture of a Buddha head, seen from the back, which she transforms to line drawings and then transfers, adding water-based paints, to wood panels on which she builds shallow relief paintings of subdued color. The results are low-relief paintings which communicate calmness and tranquility. Raciti’s work, going back to an exhibition at the Berkeley Art Museum in 1972, is basically abstract, and she states that these paintings are not to be “interpreted as religious or votive images.”  

By contrast, Susan Matthews’ portraits of African men and women, based on photographs she took in Niger, strike the viewer with their spiritual power, reminding us of Greek or Russian icons. Matthews, aware of the tradition of Byzantine painting, uses gold, copper and silver metal leaf paint to transport these portraits into a spiritual realm, suggesting timeless space. The golden background of these portraits is also due to the dust powder that fills the air in the dry desert in Sahel at the edge of the Sahara. Matthews was a welcome visitor in Niger, where her brother had been living for many years, and she was able to observe and photograph the men, women and children of these nomadic tribes at work and at rest. They wear shells and other found jewelry as talisimans and have scars on their skins. In fact, Niger slaves, that were brought to the New World were able to identify each other by their scarification. Garaya (2009) depicts a beautiful young man with his penetrating eyes turning to the sky. He would sing resoundingly and play a two-stringed musical instrument, called Garaya, which is shown in the lower left of the panel. Combining skilled realistic portraiture with traditional iconography, these paintings are also the work of a modernist painter, who placed the head against a background of flat, diamond-shaped geometric design, which emphasizes the two-dimensional essence of the picture plane.  


Mel Martin Band Debuts Latest Album

By Ken Bullock Special to the Planet
Thursday August 13, 2009 - 10:31:00 AM

“This will be my band, the one I’ve been playing with a long time,” said lifelong Northern California jazz musician Mel Martin—a ubiquitious presence for half a century in the Bay Area as tenor saxophonist, woodwinds player and band leader—of the eponymous group he’ll be playing with at Yoshi’s in Oakland next Monday night.  

The Mel Martin Band will perform at 8 p.m. to celebrate their new recording, “Where the Warm Winds Blow,” released on Jazz Media. 

“The cover shows me standing on the shores of Maui,” Martin explained, “a kind of doubletake: I play winds, and I try to get some warm sounds out of them. And I do, with some overdubbing, like I did back in the ’70s with Listen!” 

Martin was recalling the pioneering jazz fusion band he led, founded in 1976, that featured such distinguished alumni as steel drum virtuoso Andy Narell and drummers Terry Bozzio and George Marsh. The band performed in clubs, parks—every imaginable venue and on three recordings—playing innovative, popular music. “We were inventing forms as they came along, because nobody said we couldn’t,” Martin said. “Why do the same thing on every track?”  

Martin recalled other Bay Area jazz groups fusing different styles of music at that time: The Fourth Way, the John Handy Quintet, the Jerry Hahn Brotherhood—“and the rock scene was wide open.” He played live or recorded with Santana, Boz Scaggs (“on five albums before he was a big name”),The Loading Zone, Azteca, Cold Blood—many of the top concert, club and touring bands of that time.  

But that was just one era in a life packed with playing, committed to music. 

Born in 1942 in Sacramento, Martin’s parents were both singers. He was influenced by the Big Bands coming through town, especially Benny Goodman’s. “Goodman had a tenor player, Bud Johnson, who didn’t need a mic to fill the hall.” He put together a small combo, and after their first gig, obtained through his father, Martin remembers they played Mel’s Drive-In for tips. 

He sat in as a teen with Wes Montgomery and his brothers. “Monk and Buddy moved to Sacramento and brought Wes back from the East ... they used to drive a pink caddy to gigs.” Martin still has a bar napkin the great guitarist wrote the changes of “West Coast Blues” out on. 

Moving to San Francisco in 1962, Martin was soon playing in fellow San Francisco State undergrad John Handy’s Freedom Band. “We played demonstrations and colleges ... I knew his playing with [Charles] Mingus and his own recordings on Roulette ... He played alto sax, but influenced me as much as any tenor player.” And Martin played the clubs: “I used to work the burlesque houses up on Broadway—and across the street, Coltrane, Miles, Sonny Rollins would be playing. The Jazz Workshop and El Matador were right in North Beach.” It was the jam sessions and dates in San Francisco’s active jazz scene that made the difference. “Bop City, Soulville, Jack’s on Sutter, the Both/And ... Bop City and Soulville were my schools.” 

The scene’s different now—or, rather, there’s no scene at all. “I’m not a retro guy,” Martin demurred. “But so many classic jazz artists have passed away, there’s less and less of it than in the past, so much of that has disappeared, that the word jazz has become indefineable, spread out through different genres.” 

He laughed. “It’s not ‘Show me your jazz papers!’ There’s still no jazz police. But the issue is, what passes for jazz education? In the ’50s and ’60s, there was jazz on TV. Leonard Bernstein would come on Sunday morning and explain jazz. There were the Timex jazz shows; Steve Allen had jazz on the Tonight Show and Dave Garroway in the morning. And there were hit jazz records—1959 was a great year.” 

Martin continued: “In the ’60s and ’70s, it wasn’t that unusual for a group to suddenly do a number in 11/8. So-called jazz radio’s more restricted now. And jazz festival presentations are watered down. If you fit in that box, you get the gig. Festivals attempted to reach back to the tradition before. I see John Handy got an award recently; that should’ve happened years ago.” 

Martin reflected on the current situation in music, as well as some of its causes: “Sometimes it seems the Bay Area has a short cultural memory. It always seems like the place where jazz is about to be the thing. But there’s no real tradition. Off and on, it’s been a huge cauldron, festering with jazz. When I go to New York, I know more people than here. We were just back there, playing at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, with great crowds, and two ex-managers of mine showed up on the same night! It was kind of historic. There’s a lot of continuity there. I like to go back and play; then I play, even talk like a New Yorker ... but I’d only last for a couple of weeks!” 

Martin continued: “It’s what the corporate mentality has screwed up, really in the art of it. In everything else, too, the battles we’re having every day, over health care, with banks ... Jazz is at the bottom of the ladder, anyway. And the rules change. Now they can’t sell anything either! Which brings up the question: how does one get paid?”  

Martin mentioned catching a recent appearance by the great alto player, Lee Konitz—who he called “one of my teachers early on”—at Yoshi’s in San Francisco. “He looked out at the audience and said, ‘I often wonder where all of you come from.” I said, under my breath, “From under a lily pad!”  

Innovations not withstanding, Martin has helped keep the tradition alive, His band Bebop And Beyond, begun in 1984, still performs, as does the Tenor Conclave—and the Benny Carter All-Star Tribute Band, originally founded at the request of the great alto player and Big Band leader, who Ben Webster once dubbed “King.” In fact, Martin’s previous recording release was JUST FRIENDS, the Mel Martin/Benny Carter Quartet recorded at Yoshi’s in 1994, released last year to coincide with Carter’s centennial, (Carter died in 2004), some of the tracks having been included previously on MEL MARTIN PLAYS BENNY CARTER. And the title tune on Martin’s new recording to be celebrated Monday was penned by Carter.  

“I’ve had some great bands, been in some great ones,” said Martin, “And I’ve played with a lot of rhythm sections. Even at best, that’s not the same as with those when we’ve had a long, intimate history. Don Friedman, coming back from New York, has been accepted as a great jazz pianist, even if he’s still not a well-known name to the public. Interestingly enough, he was pianist on one of those old John Handy Roulette records! Small world. Jeff Marrs, on drums, has played with the Marcus Shelby Big Band, with Faye Carol, and with me for six or seven years. He’s constantly growing. I took him to New York and he fit right in; we can play all night, just the two of us. Bassist Robb Fisher [who plays Tuesday evenings with jazz balladeer Ed Reed at The Cheese Board on Shattuck] and I have played together 25, 30 years. Brad Buethe’s on guitar, who’s often with me at the no name bar in Sausalito. And John Santos, on latin percussion, will be a special guest  

We’ll play what’s on the album, plus some of my other original music, to update what’s never been recorded.” 

Playhouse’s Youth Perform ‘Urinetown’

By Ken Bullock Special to the Planet
Thursday August 13, 2009 - 10:32:00 AM

While selling out shows at the Ashby Stage by their adult professional company of the musical “Peter Pan,” an old chestnut about the Lost Boys escaping from the adult world in Never-Never Land, Berkeley Playhouse’s youth company is putting on a two-night only staging of what Berkeley Playhouse’s managing director called “an anti-establishment piece,” the Broadway hit musical “Urinetown.” inspired by Bertolt Brecht-Kurt Weill classics like “Threepenny Opera” and “Mahagony,” at the Julia Morgan Theatre this weekend. 

“The set’s—well, junk basically! that’s been gathered up, and bare scaffolding,” said Jerry Foust of Berkeley Playhouse, “It feels very much industrial.” The past month, the teenagers in the youth company have been rehearsing the show and building the set, making their own props as a team, part of the process. 

“The piece itself begs for something unconventional,” said Foust. “It has a bare bones feel, with some hints at what we took from the original Broadway production. Our director, Jon Tracy, has real outside-the-box thinking; he’s committed to ensemble-based work.” 

Tracy’s joined by choreographer Kimberly Dooley and musical director Phil Gorman, both of Berkeley Playhouse, in heading the production team, which also sees teens working backstage, some assisting being from Berkeley High School. 

“Urinetown” details the futuristic—but (doubly) uncomfortably contemporary—tale of a 20-year drought and what havoc it wrecks on a New York-like metropolis, where private toilets are outlawed, and the populace is forced to ... go ... to public facilities, controled by a merciless, evil monopoly. But finally, there’s a man who’s had enough, and holding nothing back ... 

“The writer was inspired when traveling in Europe on a student budget, being forced to pay for a public toilet,” said Foust. “Teaming up with the composer, they came up with a musical that explores, makes fun of—yet is a tribute to—the great American musical comedy. There are a lot of tongue-in-cheek jokes. And political satire. It’s definitely intelligent—and a little unconventional for a teen group. We think it’s a good experience for them.” 

Foust went on to reflect on the difference between the adult company—”very mainstream, staging shows that appeal to the masses”—with the youth troupe. “It’s different. It’s educational; what it explores isn’t the mainstream. This winter, they’ll do “Godspell” about the establishment of religion, and next summer, “Pippin,” a very dark show. We want to expose them to the less commercial.” 

The summer programs are designed as intensive acting camps, teaching basic skills, with “different artistic chores—music, set-building, props, participating in the design ...” Some of the youth company participated as interns in “Peter Pan,” playing the Lost Boys, at the same time as preparing for “Urinetown.”  

“Ninety-nine percent of the shows for “Peter Pan” were sell-outs,” Foust said. “Every week we’ve had a wait list. We’ve doubled our projections, and will sell 3,900 to 4,000 tickets for 33 shows at the Ashby Stage by the end of the run. And every time our classes are announced in a pre-curtain speech, people check it out for their kids.” 

Berkeley Playhouse began a few years back in founder and artistic director Elizabeth McKoy’s living room, with friends as the audience. “Officially, we’re two years old,” said Foust. A few weeks ago, the Playhouse announced its merger with the Julia Morgan Center, where it’s housed, in a partnership to create an institution for bringing theater to families and training young people for it. 

New Space for Aurora Theatre

By Ken Bullock Special to the Planet
Thursday August 13, 2009 - 10:32:00 AM
The new Neil and Jules Dashow wing of the Aurora Theatre.
The new Neil and Jules Dashow wing of the Aurora Theatre.

Aurora Theatre Company, entering on its 18th season, has announced the completion of the new Neil and Jules Dashow Wing, which will add 2,600 much-needed square feet to the 7,200 square feet already occupied by the company on Addison Street near Shattuck in downtown Berkeley. There will be a private ribbon-cutting ceremony this coming Monday. 

The new wing, named after lead donor Deborah Ruth’s parents, was designed by the late theater architect Gene Angell, with Brian Rawlinson; Oliver & Company was general contractor. 

“We’ve gone from a drawing room in the Julia Morgan-designed Berkeley City Club, where there once were card games, with 67 seats, to our present 150-seat theater,” said Artistic Director Tom Ross, “We’ve extended five of our past five shows, but the subscription season’s like a conveyor belt; we’ve had to close one show to build and rehearse the next—and we’ve been closing shows ahead of their time. We’d been looking for workshop and rehearsal space, and realized we should be here, right next door, where Kaufman’s Fine Fabrics once was.” 

The new wing will allow for more than rehearsal and work space for upcoming shows. “We’ll have artistic offices, a conference room now—where before we’d have to strike a set and put tables on the stage for board meetings—and also use it as a black box theater. It’s not programmed yet, but we think it would be nice for poetry readings, dance performances—and of course play readings.” The Aurora sponsors its own playreading series, the Global Age Project.  

“I’m amazed how staged readings on stated themes, presented on our dark nights, draw in audiences of 60 to 150,” Ross said. “Of course, they’re free—and people in Berkeley like to talk about topics. They’re interested, too, in finding out about the process of a play, what the director or sound designer does—a little bit like what’s on the commentary track for movies on DVD. They’re interested in the process of how the magic occurs.”  

The Global Age Project, an initiative in play development that solicits new plays from playwrights in the U. S., Canada and Mexico, culminates in a four-week festival of staged readings next spring. The project was begun four years ago, when Ross succeeded to the artistic chair when Aurora co-founder Barbara Oliver retired. Ross had been Managing Director and Producing Director; “I’ve been with the Aurora since the beginning,” said Ross, who came to the Bay Area in 1991, after serving as Joseph Papp’s executive assistant at the New York Public Theater.  

“How old do you have to be, to be an institution?” joked Ross. “I’m starting to feel a little institutional! But the Dashow Wing ought to be a sign of hope, even for other theaters, that something new and growing can happen in these bad economic times. It’s a beautiful space. The floor alone—the original floor from Kaufman’s has been preserved—is worth the show!” 

The company announced a $2.1 million capital fundraising drive for the expansion last year, and held a ceremony to break through the wall of the theater complex into the new space Jan. 12. 

‘Lethal Logic’

By Griffin Dix Special to the Planet
Thursday August 13, 2009 - 10:33:00 AM

Four out of five Americans support specific measures to regulate firearms, such as requiring background checks at gun shows. In the 2006 and 2008 elections, candidates who explicitly backed such regulations defeated NRA-endorsed or “A-rated” candidates overwhelmingly. But now House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as well as the Democratic leaders of the Senate and the House are universally afraid to even raise the subject. Why is that? 

Part of the answer is that the gun lobby’s emotionally powerful, fear-inducing arguments work. In his new book, Lethal Logic: Exploding the Myths That Paralyze American Gun Policy, Dennis Henigan takes on the gun lobby’s policy-paralyzing slogans and answers them with sound logic and research. 

An example is his answer to the well-known slogan, “When guns are outlawed only outlaws will have guns.” This creates a straw man by implying that supporters of gun regulations want to “outlaw” all guns. But Henigan, who is vice president for law and policy at America’s largest gun control organization, the Brady Campaign, thinks the government has no business telling law abiding citizens they cannot buy guns. 

He says the slogan works by changing the subject from the policies supported by most Americans to ones not well supported, such as banning all firearms. A premise implicit in the slogan is that gun violence is entirely a “criminal” problem and criminals don’t obey gun laws. But Henigan demonstrates convincingly that most gun laws do not depend for their success on compliance by criminals. Since the Brady background check law was enacted in 1993, over 1.6 million legally prohibited gun buyers—most of them felons—have been blocked from purchasing guns and our rates of gun crimes have plummeted. 

Another gun lobby golden oldie is “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people,” “one of the greatest advocacy slogans ever conceived,” says Henigan. But, he points out, cars by themselves don’t kill people either, yet no one argues against licensing drivers and mandating safety features like seat belts and airbags. 

Unlike cars, guns are sold as weapons and attract many buyers who want to use them to commit crimes. These crimes are more lethal if a gun is used, and less lethal if a knife or fists are used. Citing studies by Frank Zimring of UC Berkeley, Henigan shows that Americans are not more violent than people in other countries but our violence is more lethal because our crimes—such as robbery and assault—more often involve guns. This is another way that, contrary to the slogan, guns do kill people. 

However, Henigan says, most people who buy guns, even handguns, do not buy them for crime; they buy them for self-defense and bring them into their homes. Guns kill people there too; the presence of a gun in the home is associated with an almost three fold increase in homicide rates there and an almost five fold increase in suicide. 

  Things turn surreal when we get to “We don’t need new gun laws. We need to enforce the gun laws we have,” an excuse for inaction recently borrowed from the gun lobby by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi to whitewash the Democrats’ unwillingness to address America’s gun violence problem. But this is another false choice, says Henigan; we need enforcement and we need new laws—partly in order to enforce the laws we have. Nonetheless, while offering up this slogan, the gun lobby has succeeded in weakening enforcement of our laws—its greatest victory being the 1986 (egregiously misnamed) Firearms Owners’ Protection Act (FOPA), which, says Henigan, protects gun dealers, “particularly dealers inclined to break the law.” Under FOPA, in order to revoke a gun dealer’s license, the government must get inside the dealer’s head and prove that he violated the law “willfully,” an extremely difficult burden of proof. Because of FOPA, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) has great difficulty shutting down even the worst scofflaw gun dealers. 

Partly because the slogans are so effective, we don’t do a good job of thinking about gun policy in this country, says Henigan. In answer to the gun lobby’s arguments, he offers a wealth of logical, research-based counter-arguments. 

But are logic and facts enough? 

The fearful emotions aroused by the gun industry slogans can easily override logical arguments, even those in favor of laws proven successful at helping prevent criminals—not law-abiding citizens—from obtaining guns. The success of the gun lobby demonstrates political psychologist Drew Westen’s dictum that, “In politics, when reason and emotion collide, emotion invariably wins.” (The Political Brain, p. 35) In fact, the most compelling parts of Lethal Logic are the case studies showing the lethal effects of our loophole-ridden laws on ordinary, unsuspecting Americans. 

As our children pass between age 15 and 34, gunfire is the second most likely cause of their deaths. Nonetheless, support for reasonable gun regulations is only an inch deep, though a mile wide. Most Americans are like me before my son was shot and killed; they don’t think something seemingly so remote as loopholes in our gun laws could affect their families. But we already know what to do to make our children safer. Now we must martial Henigan’s logic and facts in support of a values-based and emotionally compelling narrative—one that will motivate Americans to act to protect ourselves and our children from gunfire. 


Kensington resident Griffin Dix taught anthropology at Santa Clara University and was then research director at MacWEEK. In 1994 his 15-year-old son, Kenzo, was shot and killed in Berkeley. He recently served as the chapter-elected national chairman of the Million Mom March’s National State Presidents Council. 






By Dennis A. Henigan. 

Potomac Books, 217 pages, $29.95.

Around the East Bay: Staged Readings of 'Compared to What?'

Thursday August 13, 2009 - 10:28:00 AM

“Oakland’s an old railroad town,” said playwright Judith Offer, who’s researched African-American involvement as porters and written Compared to What? about a woman trying to convince two porters to join the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. Two free staged readings with discussion: 2 p.m. Saturday at the Oakland Main Library Auditorium, on 14th Street; 3 p.m. Sunday at the Noodle Factory theater, 1255-26th St., West Oakland. Wendell Brooks, Berkeley High teacher, plays one of the roles. 444-0257.

Community Calendar

Thursday August 13, 2009 - 10:27:00 AM


Merritt College’s Applied Urban Ecology Division A discussion with local permaculture designers at 7 p.m. at the Ecology Center, 2530 San Pablo Ave. 548-2220, ext. 233. 

“Ecological Intelligence: How Knowing the Hidden Impacts of What We Buy Can Change Everything” with Daniel Goleman at 7 p.m. at the David Brower Center. Tickets are $25, available from brownpaper tickets. www.ecoliteracy.org 

East Bay Mac Users Group Geek Night, with Brady Frey & Build a Site Night at 7 p.m. at Expression College for Digital Arts, 6601 Shellmound St., Emeryville. http://ebmug.org 

Red Cross Blood Drive from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the American Red Cross Bus, 1200 Clay St., Oakland. To schedule an appointment go to www.helpsavealife.org 

Circle of Concern Vigil meets on West Lawn of UC campus across from Addison and Oxford, Thurs. at noon and Sun. at 1 p.m. to oppose UC weapons labs contracts. 848-8055. 

Fitness Class for 55+ at 9:15 a.m. at Jewish Community Center, 1414 Walnut St. 848-0237. 


“The Band’s Visit” An Israeli film on cooperation at 7:30 p.m. at Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists 1924 Cedar St. Suggested donation $5-$10. 841-4824. 

“Climate Change and the Connections That Bind Us” with David Orr at 7 p.m. at The David Brower Center. Tickets are $25. www.ecoliteracy.org 

“I Love Bugs” Check out a worm home and build your own cricket house from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Habitot Children’s Museum, 2065 Kittredge St. Cost is $7-$8. www.habitot.org 

Circle Dancing, simple folk dancing with instruction at 7:30 p.m. at Finnish Brotherhood Hall, 1970 Chestnut St at University. Donation of $5 requested. 528-4253. www.circledancing.com 

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. 

Stand With Us Stand for Peace Stand with Israel vigil every Friday from noon to 1 p.m. at Bancroft and Telegraph. www.sfvoiceforisrael.org 


North Berkeley Emergency Preparedness Fair Information on Fire, earthquake, disaster, home safety, community response, and presentations by City of Berkeley Fire Dept, Red Cross, from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Walnut and Vine, Berkeley Friends Meeting house, Latter-day Saints parking lot and church building. 504-3072. 

Ecology and History of Lake Anza with James Wilson, naturalist from 10 a.m. to noon at Lake Anza, Tilden Park. For details call 544-2233. 

Brooks Island Voyage Paddle the rising tide across the Richmond Harbor Channel to Books 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. 1-888-327-2757. 

Walking Tour of Oakland “New Era/New Politics” highlights African-American leaders who have made their mark on Oakland. Meet at 10 a.m. at the African American Museum and Library at 659 14th St. 238-3234. www.oaklandnet.com/walkingtours 

Golden Gate Audubon Society Bike Trip in East Shore State Park Meet at 8:10 a.m. at the El Cerrito Del Norte BART station, or 8:30 at the end of S. 51st St. in Richmond for a ride to Emeryville. Bring helmet, bicycle lock, sunscreen, lunch and liquids. RSVP to 547-1233. 

Walking Tour: Walking the Key System’s C Line A level walk from 10 a.m. to noon, sponsored by Oakland Heritage Alliance. Cost is $10-$15. Meet at MacArthur BART station underpass on 40th St. 763-9218. 

Garage Sale for Community Policing for the Shattuck Crime Prevention Council and the Berkeley Halcyon Neighborhood from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Bushrod Park, Shattuck Ave. between 59th and 60th. Donations that are clean and in working order are acepted. 655-6122. CPBeat11X@aol.com 

“Astronomy and Evolution: From the Death of the Dinosaurs to the Stardust in your Bones” at 11 a.m. at Genetics and Plant Biology Building, Room 100 on the UC Berkeley campus. 

Chicken Round Up Visit with the free-range chickens at Tilden’s Little Farm, learn the different breeds and their habits, from 3 to 4 p.m. at the Little Farm, Tilden Park. 544-2233. 

Chevron Protest Rally at 11:30 a.m. at the Richmond BART station, followed by a 1 p.m. March on the Chevron Oil refinery. Sponsored by Mobilization for Climate Justice. 550-2836. http://actforclimatejustice.org/west 

Family Artmaking: “Blowin’ in the Wind” Learn about kites then make your own from 1 to 4 p.m. at Museum of Children’s Art, 538 9th St., Oakland. Cost is $7 per child. 465-8770. www.ocha.org 

Plant Families of California: A Medicinal Perspective from 12:30 to 6 p.m. at Blue Wind Botanical Medicinal Clinic, 823 32nd St., Apt. B, Oakland. Cost is $40. To register call 428-1810. 

Rock N’ Roll at Playland-Not-At-The-Beach with cast and crew, Sat. and Sun. at 10979 San Pablo Ave., El Cerrito. Costs is $10-$15. 932-8966. www.playland-not-at-the-beach.org 

Free Garden Tours at Regional Parks Botanic Garden Sat. and Sun. at 11 a.m. and 2 pm. Regional Parks Botanic Garden, Tilden Park. Call to confirm. 841-8732. www.nativeplants.org 

Lawn Bowling on the green at the corner of Acton St. and Bancroft Way every Wed. and Sat. at 10 a.m. for ages 12 and up. Wear flat soled shoes, no heels. Free lessons. 841-2174.  

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. 


Little Farm Goat Hike Join a short hike with the Little Farm goats as we explore the historic connections between humans and their ungulate friends, from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Little Farm, Tilden Park. For ages six and up. 544-2233. 

Walking Tour: Scaling Leona Heights Covering the woods and fire trails of the Leona Greenbelt in East Oakland. Meet at 10 a.m. at McDonell Ave. and Mountain Blvd. Sponsored by Oakland Heritage Alliance. Cost is $10-$15. 763-9218. 

Free Sailboat Rides from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Cal Sailing Club, Berkeley Marina. Wear warm, waterproof clothing and bring a change of clothes in case you get wet. Children 5 and over welcome with parent or guardian. www.cal-sailing.org 

Sketching on the Farm A guided art exploration with a focus on farm animals and vistas, from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. at Tilden Little Farm. Bring pencils and paper. 544-2233. 

East Bay Atheists meets to view and discuss Bill Maher’s “Religulous” at 1:30 p.m. at Berkeley Public Library, 3rd Floor Meeting Room 2090 Kittredge St. 

Social Action Summer Forum “Iran Today” with Ali Eshraghi, Iranian journalist, at 10 a.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley, 1 Lawson Rd., Kensington. 525-0302, ext. 306. 

Free Garden Tours at Regional Parks Botanic Garden in Tilden Park Sat. and Sun. at 11 a.m. and 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 

Tibetan Buddhism with Hugh Joswick on “Knowing Mind” at 6 p.m. at the Tibetan Nyingma Institute, 1815 Highland Pl. 809-1000. www.nyingmainstitute.com 


Drop-in Knitting Group Work on your own project or make pet blankets and children’s hats for donation. Yarn, needles and instruction provided. From 3:30 to 5 p.m. at the Albany Library, 1247 Marin Ave., Albany. 536-3720. 

Community Yoga Class 10 a.m. at James Kenney Parks and Rec. Center at Virginia and 8th. Seniors and beginners welcome. Cost is $6. 207-4501. 

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. 548-0425. 


Tuesdays for the Birds Tranquil bird walks in local parklands, led by Bethany Facendini, from 7 to 9:30 a.m. Bring water, field guides, binoculars or scopes. Call for meeting place and if you need to borrow binoculars. 544-3265. 

Berkeley Path Wanderers: Stretching on the Paths Meet at 6 p.m. in front of Thousand Oaks School, Coulsa at Catalina for a walk with stretching exercises at scenic spots. 520-3876. www.berkeleypaths.org 

Cybersalon with Dan Miller on “A Really Inconvenient Truth: Why Climate Change Is Much Worse Than You’ve Been Told and What We Must Do Now” at 7:30 p.m. at the Hillside Club, 2286 Cedar St. Cost is $10 at the door. www.hillsideclub.org 

“Angels in the Wilderness: One Woman’s Story of Survival” with Amy Racina at 7 p.m. at REI, 1338 San Pablo Ave. 527-4140. 

“Iran’s Continuing Upheaval: Divisions at the Top, Anger and Resistance from Below” with Larry Everest at 7 p.m. at Revolution Books, 2425 Channing Way. 848-1196. 

Albany Chamber of Commerce Wine Tasting & Fundraiser Cost is $15-$20. For details and to RSVP call 525-1771. www.albanychamber.org 

Tuesday Tilden Walkers Join a few slowpoke seniors at 9:30 a.m. in the parking lot near the Little Farm for an hour or two walk. 215-7672, 524-9992. 

End the Occupation Vigil every Tues. at noon at Oakland Federal Bldg., 1301 Clay St. www.epicalc.org 

Berkeley Camera Club meets at 7:30 p.m., at the Northbrae Community Church, 941 The Alameda. 548-3991. www.berkeleycameraclub.org 

Bridge for beginners from 12:30 to 2:15 p.m., all others 12:30 to 4 p.m. Sing-A-Long at 2:30 p.m. at the North Berkeley Senior Center. 981-5190. 

St. John’s Prime Timers meets at 9:30 a.m. at St. John’s Presbyterian Church, 2727 College Ave. We always welcome new members over 50. 845-6830. 


Walking Tour of Historic Oakland Churches and Temples Meet at 10 a.m. at the front of the First Presbyterian Church at 2619 Broadway. Tour lasts 90 minutes. Reservations can be made by calling 238-3234. www. 


Tilden Mini-Rangers Hiking, conservation and nature-based activities for ages 8-12. Dress to ramble and get dirty. Bring a snack. From 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. at Tilden Nature Center, Tilden Park. Cost is $6-$8, registration required. 1-888-EBPARKS. 

Free Screening of “Barefoot Gen“ as part of the Radical Film Nite with free popcorn and post-film discussion, at 8 p.m. at the Long Haul Infoshop, 3124 Shattuck Ave. 540-0751. www.thelonghaul.org 

“Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” A forum on learning how to live sustainably at 5:30 p.m. at Healthy Oakland, 2580 San Pablo Ave. RSVP to 763-9523. 

“Bay Area Cyper” performance documentary on hip hop in the SF Bay Area, at 7:30 p.m. at Humanist Hall, 390 27th St., Oakland. Donation $5. www.Humanist Hall.org 

Walk Berkeley for Seniors meets every Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. at the Sea Breeze Market, just west of the I-80 overpass. Everyone is welcome, wear comfortable shoes and a warm hat. 548-9840. 

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 6:30 p.m. at the Berkeley BART Station, corner of Shattuck and Center. www. 


Teen Chess Club from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. at the North Branch Library, 1170 The Alameda at Hopkins. 981-6133. 

Berkeley CopWatch Drop-in office hours from 6 to 8 p.m. at 2022 Blake St. 548-0425. 


Tilden Tots Join a nature adventure program for 3 and 4 year olds, each accompanied by an adult (grandparents welcome)! We’ll have a treasure hunt, from 10 to 11:30 a.m. at Tilden Nature Center, Tilden Park. Cost is $6-$8. Registration required. 1-888-327-2757. 

“Opting Out of the Consumer Trap” Simplicity Forum at 6:30 p.m. at the Claremont Library, 2940 Benvenue Ave.  

Circle of Concern Vigil meets on West Lawn of UC campus across from Addison and Oxford, Thurs. at noon and Sun. at 1 p.m. to oppose UC weapons labs contracts. 848-8055. 

Fitness Class for 55+ at 9:15 a.m. at Jewish Community Center, 1414 Walnut St. 848-0237. 


Tilden Tots Join a nature adventure program for 3 and 4 year olds, each accompanied by an adult (grandparents welcome)! We’ll have a treasure hunt, from 10 to 11:30 a.m. at Tilden Nature Center, Tilden Park. Cost is $6-$8. Registration required. 1-888-327-2757. 

Childproofing Your Home free advice for parents and caregivers from 10:30 a.m. to noon at Habitot Children’s Museum, 2065 Kittredge St. 647-1111. www.habitot.org 

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.helpsavealife.org 

Circle Dancing, simple folk dancing with instruction at 7:30 p.m. at Finnish Brotherhood Hall, 1970 Chestnut St at University. Donation of $5 requested. 528-4253. www.circledancing.com 

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. 

Stand With Us Stand for Peace Stand with Israel vigil every Friday from noon to 1 p.m. at Bancroft and Telegraph. www.sfvoiceforisrael.org 


Lone Tree at Low Tide Explore one of the only exposed reefs within the bay, beachcomb, and hunt the rocks for hiden coastline wildlife, from 9 to 10:30 a.m. at Lone Tree Point Regional Shoreline. For meeting place please call 544-2233. 

Woody Walk Alameda Join historian Woody Minor on a tour highlighting the architecture of Central Alameda. Meet at 1 p.m. at the Meyers House & Garden, 2021 Alameda Ave., Alameda. Free for AAPS members, $5 others. 986-9232 

Urban Releaf Tree Planting Event from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on West MacArthur and San Pablo, Oakland. 601-9062.  

Walking Tour of Old Oakland Explore the 9th and Washington St. district. Meet at 10 a.m. in front of Ratto’s, 821 Washington St. Tour lasts 90 minutes. Reservations can be made by calling 238-3234.  

Cohousing Bus Tour of the East Bay Learn about cohousing and visit several communities, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.. Cost is $95. for more information see www.cohousing.org/tours 

Up Close and Natural Learn how to use a magnifying lens and learn about the microscopic workd under our feet on this guided hike, from 2 to 3:30 p.m. at the Tilden Nature Center, Tilden Park. 544-2233. 

Junior League of Oakland-East Bay Information Session at 10 a.m. at 6934 Norfolk Rd. RSVP to jloebmembership@gmail.com 

Free Garden Tours at Regional Parks Botanic Garden Sat. and Sun. at 11 a.m. and 2 pm. Regional Parks Botanic Garden, Tilden Park. Call to confirm. 841-8732. www.nativeplants.org 

Lawn Bowling on the green at the corner of Acton St. and Bancroft Way every Wed. and Sat. at 10 a.m. for ages 12 and up. Wear flat soled shoes, no heels. Free lessons. 841-2174.  

Open Shop at Berkeley Boathouse from 1 to 5 p.m. at at 84 Bolivar Dr., Aquatic Park. Take part in constructing a wooden boat or help out with other maritime projects. No experience necessary. First time is free, cost is $10 per day. 644-2577. www.watersideworkshops.org 


Little Farm Goat Hike Join a short hike with the Little Farm goats as we explore the historic connections between humans and their ungulate friends, from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Little Farm, Tilden Park. For ages six and up. 544-2233. 

Stroller Donation Day Bring your used strollers for donation to two Oakland non-profits, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. to Let’s Go Strolling showroom, Kaiser Center next to 300 Lakeside Drive, Oakland. info@letsgostrolling.com 

Kids Garden Buffet Join us in the Kids Garden and learn about vegetables and fruits, and then help us harvest, from 2 to 3:30 p.m. at Tilden Nature Center. 544-2233. 

Social Action Summer Forum “Social Justice and the Environment” with Bob Shildgen, Sierra magazine columnist, at 10 a.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley, 1 Lawson Rd., Kensington. 525-0302, ext. 306. 

Free Hands-on Bicycle Clinic Learn how to do a safety inspection, from 10 to 11 a.m. at REI, 1338 San Pablo Ave. Bring your bike and tools. 527-4140. 

Tour of the Berkeley City Club, the “little castle” designed by Julia Morgan from 1 to 4 p.m. at 2315 Durant Ave. 848-7800. 

Free Garden Tours at Regional Parks Botanic Garden in Tilden Park Sat. and Sun. at 11 a.m. and 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 

Tibetan Buddhism with Santosh Philip on “Integrating Physical and Mental Energy” 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 2 to 6 p.m. at 84 Bolivar Dr., Aquatic Park. Also on Thurs. from 2 to 6 p.m. Cost is $5 per hour. 644-2577. www.watersideworkshops.org