Full Text

A notice on the wall of the Park Station post office at Sacramento and Russell streets alerts customers to possible consolidation plans for three Berkeley post offices.
Riya Bhattacharjee
A notice on the wall of the Park Station post office at Sacramento and Russell streets alerts customers to possible consolidation plans for three Berkeley post offices.


Federal Judge Overturns Convictions in Berkeley's 1985 ‘Deadhead’ Murders

Bay City News
Monday September 14, 2009 - 02:44:00 PM

A federal judge in San Francisco has overturned the conviction and death penalty of a man who was convicted of murdering two followers of the Grateful Dead band at a homeless encampment in Berkeley in 1985.  

U.S. District Judge Marilyn Patel said in a ruling issued last week that Ralph International Thomas, 55, was denied a fair trial in Alameda County Superior Court in 1986 because his defense lawyer was incompetent.  

Patel wrote that the defense attorney could have located as many as 10 witnesses who could have cast doubt on whether Thomas was guilty and could have pointed to another resident of the encampment as a possible suspect. 

The two victims, Mary Gioia, 22, and Greg Kniffin, 18, were beaten and shot at close range on the night of Aug. 15-16, 1985. 

They were so-called “Deadheads,” or followers of the Grateful Dead, and were staying at Rainbow Village, a former homeless encampment set up by the city of Berkeley, because a local Grateful Dead concert was expected the following weekend. 

Patel ruled on a habeas corpus petition filed by Thomas after the California Supreme Court upheld his death sentence in 1992 and then rejected a similar habeas corpus petition by a 6-1 vote in 2006. 

Prosecutors can now either appeal the ruling or go back to Alameda County Superior Court for a new trial.  

Senior Assistant California Attorney General Gerald Engler said, “We’re seriously considering an appeal” and said state lawyers “strongly disagree” with the ruling. 

Thomas is now gravely ill, however, according to one of his attorneys, A.J. Kutchins. The attorney said Thomas is severely physically and mentally impaired, possibly because of a series of strokes, and has been moved from San Quentin State Prison to a prison hospital at Corcoran State Prison in Kings County. 

Kutchins said, “It is wonderful that after all of these years, the court has recognized that Mr. Thomas did not get a fair trial."

Swine Flu Cases Hit Campus, But UC Doctor Calls Symptoms Mild

By Richard Brenneman
Monday September 14, 2009 - 02:42:00 PM

Swine flu is alive and well at UC Berkeley, and so are the many students who have contracted the H1N1 influenza virus, reports campus Medical Director Brad Buchman. 

“H1N1 has been widely established in the community for a long time,” he said, but to date, no cases with serious complications have been reported. 

“Our first case was diagnosed in May, and we tested a lot of students early in the course of the pandemic,” Buchman said. “But the state testing facilities were quickly overwhelmed. 

“Over the past summer we’ve been following public health recommendations not to test, since over 98 percent of the tests done on people with flu-like illnesses this summer and fall have turned out to be positive for H1N1.” 

The campus physician said he couldn’t provide an accurate estimate of the prevalence of the virus on campus, and public health agencies are recommending against testing because “this illness is generally mild and most patients will recover” without the need for a doctor visit. 

Students who call in are given advice over the phone or referred to the university’s website posting on the disease at www.uhs.berkeley.edu/home/news/H1N1.shtml#FAQ. 

Over the summer, University Health Services was seeing an average of 40 to 50 people a day with respiratory symptoms, of whom between 10 and 20 were manifesting influenza-like symptoms, he said. 

There’s been a slight increase in recent weeks as students have returned to campus for the start of fall classes.  

The campus has been in close touch with the Berkeley public school system, and Buchman said neither he nor Berkeley city Public Health Officer Dr. Janet Berryman “ever felt that the illness was severe enough or widespread enough to warrant class cancellation” at the university.  

The physician said the federal Center for Disease Control have advised against canceling classes. 

One factor that could force changes in class scheduling would be if enough students were infected to warrant changes. 

For the most part, he said, the campus is focused on a public education campaign to acquaint the community with measures everyone can take to head off the bug. 

In addition to what Buchman called “an aggressive hand-washing campaign” and videos on proper cough etiquette, university officials are “promoting the message that everyone who becomes ill should self-isolate until they become fever-free for at least 24 hours.” 

UCB Provost George Breslauer, in a campus-wide announcement sent out Wednesday, said “The campus’ Pandemic Flu Preparedness Team, led by medical and public health experts at University Health Services (UHS) and School of Public Health, is monitoring the situation with local, state and federal health officials.” 

Buchman said Friday that “UHS is in the process of becoming a ‘sentinel provider’ to assist the City of Berkeley and the State of California Public Health departments in monitoring the outbreak. This involves periodic sampling of specimens from patients with influenza-like illness to have more detailed and in-depth analysis done to better understand the course of the current pandemic. 

“In addition,” he said, “we are providing weekly reports to the UC Office of the President. UHS will continue to be the primary source to contact for information about the extent of H1N1 illness at the UC Berkeley campus.”  

Vaccine for the ailment is currently headed for production, and Buchman said he expects local delivery by late October or early November. 

Once supplies on hand, depending on how much is available, those most at risk will receive highest priority, including pregnant women, those with chronic medical conditions, and students, faculty and staff who are under the age of 2, the physician said. 

Anticipated cost of the shots will be $17.  

Urns Raise Temperature At Planning Commission

By Richard Brenneman
Friday September 11, 2009 - 03:05:00 PM

Berkeley organizations shouldn’t get their hopes up about any urned income in the new future. 

Or such was the temper of city staff at Wednesday nights’ meeting when it came to the subject of a proposed new law to allow the construction of small columbaria inside city limits. 

What initially looked like a simple issue—a new law that would allow easy construction of repositories for 400 urns or fewer of human ashes—proved almost absurdly complex once city planning commissioners began weighing in on the issue. 

It all started with a Sept. 28, 2008, request from City Councilmember Laurie Capitelli, who asked commissioners to craft a code revision to allow Northbrae Community Church to build a small garden wall that would hold the ashes of up to 400 folks. 

The city attorneys’ office and planning staff crafted a proposal, which the commission approved with one dissenting vote and one abstention on Dec. 10.  

Patti Dacey, the lone opponent, was a portent of things to come. 

It wasn’t that she opposed disposing of human ashes in the city, a prohibition dating back to the post-Great San Francisco Earthquake days early in the last century when most Bay Area cities barred burials of any sort out of public health fears and San Francisco exhumed its previously interred dead and started a new industry in Colma. 

What bothered Dacey was that only churches—“religious assemblies” in Berkeley code-speak—were allowed to house them. 

“It seems a little strange to me that only people who are churched can have their ashes in Berkeley,” she told her fellow commissioners at the time. “That does seem to me to be a problem.” 

A reporters’ call to American Atheists spokesperson David Silverman at the time also elicited a spark of outrage. 

“There are lots of atheists in Berkeley, and now they have fewer rights than people who believe in an invisible man in the sky,” Silverman said. 

Then Americans United for Separation of Church and State—a group which includes many believers as well as skeptics and outright nonbelievers in its ranks—weighed in with a lawyer letter threatening action if the City Council enacted the law. 

Citing a Dec. 17, 2008 Daily Planet article on the commission’s action, three attorneys for the group warned the council that “the proposed regulation would run afoul of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution because it fails to afford equal treatment to the religious and nonreligious.” 

Furthermore, the letter noted, “there is no basis to conclude that secular columbaria are any more dangerous than religious ones.”  

Taking discretion for the better part of valor, the council sent the proposed ordinance back to the drawing board, which is why it ended up before the Planning Commission a second time Wednesday night.  

The name “columbarium” comes from the Latin, meaning “dovecote,” because the niches used to house the urned ashes reminded someone long ago of the avian living spaces in a pigeon coop [although American “pigeons,” sometimes referred to as “feathered rats” by New Yorkers, are rock doves and not pigeons at all]. 

But the planning commission’s rerun session brought out the hawk in some commissioners, and by the time the feathers had ceased flying, city planning staffer Alex Amoroso looked like he was ready to fly the coop himself. 

Part of the problems were semantic, involving conflicting words in the proposed statute, while the others involved the politics of land use, always a hot button issue in Berkeley. 

Commissioner Gene Poschman said he was disturbed that under the proposed ordinance, city planning staff could approve construction of a columbarium without notifying neighbors. At the least, he said, the city should require an accessory use permit, which would mandate notification for those owning nearby property. 

The ordinance would allow any property anywhere in the city to erect an urn repository as long as the property’s primary use wasn’t residential. 

That, Poschman said, would also amount to “amending the West Berkeley Plan to add columbaria” to the city’s only manufacturing and industrially zoned real estate. 

The way the ordinance is worded, said Sophie Hahn, filling in for commissioner Patti Dacey for the night, “anyone with a house in Berkeley that happens to be next to a primary non-residential use could wake up one morning and find themselves next to 400 bodies.” 

The reason, Amoroso said, is because city code permits religious facilities in residential neighborhoods. 

“Properties known to be next to cemeteries are known to have reduced property values,” said Hahn, and the presence of remains could bring large numbers of cars for services and from people wanting to visit their loved ones’ cremains.  

City Land Use Planning Manager Deborah Sanderson said the city is prohibited from barring religious uses in residential neighborhoods. 

“It’s a big policy shift to allow virtually unlimited disposal of human bodies,” she said. 

During the public comment period, land use activist Steve Wollmer said the commission should consider amending the proposed statute to limit the mini-crypts to property own by non-profit organizations. “Otherwise, you really do need to let Patrick Kennedy know there is another occupant for his storage building.” 

Kennedy, Berkeley’s most controversial developer, is owner of University Storage in South Berkeley, recently a defendant in a suit filed by neighbors worried about cell phone antennas on the building’s roof. 

Chair David Stoloff said he favored Wollmer’s approach, and Sanderson said she was willing to consider Wollmer’s suggestion if the commission so directed. 

“I marvel at how simple it was when it was just a church,” said commissioner Jim Novosel. 

“We could bring it back with three or four minor changes,” Amoroso said. “But if that doesn’t meet the test, we’ll be dropping the issue.” 

“It’s a nice idea to have them throughout the neighborhoods,” said commissioner Teresa Clarke. 

“We may come back with a take-it-or-leave-it situation,” Amoroso replied. 

Commissioners opted to give the idea one more chance at their Sept. 23 session. 

If no answer is reached then, another question will be resolved: Who knows where the bodies are buried? Anywhere but Berkeley. 


Homeless Man Arrested in Civic Center Park Shooting Had Prior Record of Violence

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday September 10, 2009 - 09:30:00 PM

Berkeley police arrested a homeless man in connection with a shooting at Martin Luther King Civic Center Park in downtown Berkeley Sept. 9.  

The man, Richard Jacobs, was previously convicted and served an eight-month prison sentence for stabbing two Berkeley residents on Nov. 13, 2008 at the Marina Liquor store at 1265 University Ave.  

At approximately 9:35 p.m. Wednesday, a gunshot was heard in the vicinity of the park next to Berkeley City Hall. Within minutes at least seven Berkeley police cars, sirens blaring, reached the site and handcuffed six people at the park.   

A woman who had been sleeping in the park ran to the safety of the lawn of the Maudelle Shirek building across Martin Luther King Jr. Way, which also serves as the headquarters of the Berkeley Unified School District. 

“I heard gun shots,” said the woman, who refused to give her name for fear of retribution. “I jumped and got down in the dirt. I was just passing through and I heard the shots. I am from Brooklyn—you hear shots, you get down.”   

District spokesperson Mark Coplan said that the Berkeley Board of Education was in the middle of a meeting when they heard the gunshot. 

“It was very unsettling, almost frightening because you didn’t know what was going on,” he said later. “If it had happened at the other side of the park, we’d have to stop the meeting. I don’t think I have seen anything this crazy in my seven years in the building.” 

At the park Berkeley police officers detained and questioned six people—two of them homeless—about the shooting.  

Berkeley Police Department police officer Sgt. Peter Hong told the Daily Planet at the crime scene that a group of homeless men were arguing in the park when one of them pulled out a handgun and fired a shot in the air.  

“I don’t think he was targeting anybody,” Hong said. “Nobody is hurt. We have him in custody and the firearm as well.”   

At least two Berkeley Fire Department rescue trucks arrived at the scene 30 minutes later and paramedics brought a stretcher to the park. Around 10:24 p.m. paramedics carried a handcuffed man—later identified by Berkeley police as Jacobs—into the van on the stretcher.  

BPD spokesperson Sgt. Mary Kusmiss said that at approximately 9:40 p.m., a Berkeley police officer driving eastbound on Allston Way was flagged down by a woman in Civic Center Park who reported a possible fight in progress.  

The officer drove east on Allston Way and saw what “appeared to be several people actively involved in a heated verbal argument.”   

Kusmiss said the officer used his patrol car’s airhorn in hope of discouraging further violence, after which he got out of his car and detained a man who was with his girlfriend.  

The couple told the officer that a suspect, who was in a wheelchair, had fired a handgun in the air and still had it in his possession.  

Both of them pointed to Jacobs standing near a fountain inside the park. The officers formed a small group and after detaining Jacobs, found a Smith & Wesson .357 Magnum revolver with a six-inch barrel under a blanket on his lap.  

After talking to eye witnesses, the police found out that Jacobs and two other acquaintances were talking in the park when one of them asked Jacobs for a cigarette, at which point the suspect got “enraged” and refused to give him one.  

Jacobs said “Hell no,” and began cursing the acquaintance who asked for a cigarette.  

Jacobs then said, “I got something for you motherfucker,” pulled out the revolver and fired a round into the air.  

“The officers are not certain why he became enraged,” Kusmiss said. Nobody was injured in the shooting, she said.  

Jacobs was arrested on suspicion of discharging a firearm in a grossly negligent manner, possession of a loaded handgun, possession of a concealed handgun and for being a felon in possession of a handgun. He was booked into Santa Rita jail.  

Last November, Jacobs had become angry at a Marina Liquor clerk when he refused to sell him alcohol because Jacobs already seemed pretty intoxicated.  

When a man intervened, Jacobs stabbed him, after which he stabbed another woman who had tried to calm them down. Both victims survived their wounds. Jacobs was booked into Santa Rita Jail for two counts of assault with a deadly weapon.  

Jacobs, 56, did not offer an address to the officers and refused to give a statement for the Civic Center Park incident. Kusmiss said he grew more belligerent during the course of his conversation with the officers.  

When he was told he was under arrest, Jacobs complained of some medical issues for which he was treated at a local hospital, Kusmiss said.  

The individuals detained by the police were released after questioning. They all said they had been scared when Jacobs pulled out a gun.  

Kusmiss said she could not comment on whether Jacobs was mentally challenged.  

She said that officers had been able to respond to the situation quickly because the park was located right across from the Public Safety Building.  

“It’s a bit of an unusual case,” Kusmiss said. “In the course of their duty, officers consistently stop individuals that have handguns in their possession but it’s very rare to have a suspect in a wheelchair who has a handgun. It sounds like in this case the suspect was trying to solve an argument with a weapon which might have had a critical outcome.”  

Kusmiss said Civic Center Park often draws a diverse group of people because of its proximity to the Men’s Overnight Shelter, the Berkeley City Hall and Berkeley High School.  

She said that police monitor public parks in Berkeley for a number of reasons, especially to control wild or drunken behavior.  

“Discharging guns in parks is very uncommon,” she said. “It’s very serious. When you discharge a gun into the air with people nearby, there is a possibility of the round coming down and striking or even killing someone.”  

Kusmiss said that Berkeley police officers would ask prosecutors to issue a stay-away order from Civic Center Park for Jacobs at his hearing.  

Coplan said the school district is not worried that the incident had happened so close to Berkeley High, which is right across the park, because it seemed to be “the exeption, rather than the norm.” 

“Berkeley police do a good job of monitoring the park, and our school staff also keep an eye out,” he said. 

Terrie Light, executive director of the Berkeley Food and Housing Project, which runs the Men’s Overnight Shelter in the basement of the Veteran’s Memorial Building next to the park, said she couldn’t comment on whether Jacobs was one of her clients. 

Light said that most of her clients were well behaved and that fights seldom broke out inside the men’s shelter. 

“People are told coming into the shelter that they can’t bring any weapons in with them,” she said. “If they have them, they keep them well hidden. We don’t search their belongings. But our clients know they have to abide by the rules. That’s why some people won’t come inside.” 


Judge Denies Motion to Dismiss Charges Against Mehserle

Bay City News
Thursday September 10, 2009 - 12:41:00 PM

A judge today denied a defense motion asking that a murder charge against former BART police Officer Johannes Mehserle for the shooting death of Oscar Grant III at the Fruitvale station in Oakland be dismissed or reduced. 

Michael Rains, Mehserle’s lawyer, alleged at a hearing on Friday that Alameda County Superior Court Judge C. Don Clay’s ruling at the end of Mehserle’s preliminary hearing on June 4 ordering Mehserle to stand trial on a murder charge was “arbitrary, capricious and patently absurd,” Mehserle’s attorney said today. 

But Judge Thomas Reardon, who presided over the hearing on Friday and issued his 12-page ruling today, said there was no violation of Mehserle’s right to due process at his highly publicized seven-day preliminary hearing. 

Reardon said Clay “struck an admirable balance between the preservation of defendant’s right to a fair and thorough hearing and the husbanding of scarce judicial resources.” 

Rains alleged that Clay excluded evidence that would have helped Mehserle, such as limiting the testimony of a defense video expert and excluding testimony by an expert on training in the use of Taser stun guns. 

Mehserle, 27, shot Grant once in the back with his service weapon on the platform of the Fruitvale BART station in Oakland shortly after 2 a.m. on Jan. 1 after he and other officers were called to the station in response to reports of a fight on a train. 

Rains admitted during the preliminary hearing that Mehserle killed Grant but claimed that it was “a tragic accident” because Mehserle meant to use his Taser device on Grant and fired his gun by mistake. 

Rains said Mehserle shouldn’t face murder charges because there’s no evidence that he exhibited malice during the two and a half minutes he was on the station’s platform before the shooting. He said that at the most, Mehserle should face a lesser charge such as manslaughter. 

But at the end of the hearing, Clay said, “There is no doubt in my mind that Mr. Mehserle intended to shoot Oscar Grant with a gun, not a Taser” because Mehserle had both his hands on his gun when he fired that shot that killed Grant. 

Rains said on Friday that Clay’s remark was an error because the defense’s Taser expert would have testified that Taser users are trained to use both hands on their stun guns while firing. 

However, Reardon said “there was no abuse of discretion” on Clay’s part in barring the testimony from the Taser expert. 

Mehserle, who is free on $3 million bail, is scheduled to return to court Oct. 2 for a hearing on a defense motion asking that his trial be moved away from Alameda County based on his claim that he can’t get a fair trial in the county because the shooting received widespread publicity and generated outrage in the community. 

His trial is scheduled to begin Nov. 2. 

Shots Fired in Berkeley Park; Homeless Man Detained by Police

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday September 10, 2009 - 12:32:00 PM
Police handcuff a man at Civic Center park following Wednesday night's shooting incident.
Riya Bhattacharjee
Police handcuff a man at Civic Center park following Wednesday night's shooting incident.

Berkeley police have held a homeless person in connection with gun shots fired at Martin Luther King Civic Center Park in downtown Berkeley Wednesday night.  

At approximately 9:45 p.m. a gunshot was heard in the vicinity of the park next to Berkeley City Hall. Within minutes at least 7 Berkeley police cars with, sirens blaring, reached the site and handcuffed a number of homeless men at the park.  

A woman who had been sleeping in the park ran away to the safety of the Maudelle Shirek building lawn, at 2134 Martin Luther King Jr. Way.  

“I heard gun shots,” said the woman, who refused to give her name for fear of retribution. “I jumped and got down in the dirt. I was just passing through and I heard the shots. I am from Brooklyn—you hear shots, you get down.”  

At the park Berkeley police officers were questioning two men they had handcuffed.  

BPD police officer Sgt. Hong told the Planet that a group of homeless men were arguing in the park, when one of them pulled out a handgun in the heat of the argument and fired a shot.  

“I don’t think he was targeting anybody,” Hong said. “Nobody is hurt. We have him in custody and the firearm as well.”  

Hong said a few other homeless men had been detained for questioning.  

At least two Berkeley Fire Department rescue trucks arrived at the scene 30 minutes later and paramedics brought a stretcher to the park. Around 10:24 p.m. paramedics carried a handcuffed man from the park into the van on the stretcher.

Community Fights to Save Berkeley Post Offices

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday September 10, 2009 - 11:46:00 AM
A notice on the wall of the Park Station post office at Sacramento and Russell streets alerts customers to possible consolidation plans for three Berkeley post offices.
Riya Bhattacharjee
A notice on the wall of the Park Station post office at Sacramento and Russell streets alerts customers to possible consolidation plans for three Berkeley post offices.
Richie Smith, right,  asks South Berkeley customer Hazel Perry to sign the petition Wednesday to save the city’s three post offices.
Riya Bhattacharjee
Richie Smith, right, asks South Berkeley customer Hazel Perry to sign the petition Wednesday to save the city’s three post offices.

In the past couple of days, customers at Berkeley’s South Station post office may have noticed a woman in a sun hat standing outside urging passersby to sign a petition. 

“Sir, would you like to sign a petition to save this post office?” she politely asked a gentleman walking out of the door Wednesday, introducing herself as Richie Smith. 

Smith, who lives a few blocks away on Alcatraz Avenue, is part of a recent community-wide effort to draw attention to a decision by the U.S. Postal Service to include three Berkeley post offices on a list for possible consolidation in face of a staggering budget deficit. 

The petition, which is being circulated around the South Berkeley Station at 3175 Adeline St., Park Station at 2900 Sacramento St., and Landscape Station at 1831 Solano Ave.—the three currently being evaluated for consolidation in Berkeley—calls on the postal service to “not close targeted stations of the Berkeley Post Office.” 

The petitioners say that they are opposed to the closures because it would force merchants and residents in the area to travel farther, lead to a deterioration in service resulting from longer lines and greater wait periods, and leave P.O. box holders with no other option except to relocate to more distant stations. 

Faced with a $7.5 billion loss in revenue this year, the postal service announced Sept. 2 that 413 retail stations and branches nationwide were still being considered for possible consolidation.  

The updated list was based on a study the USPS undertook this summer to examine a wide range of stations and branches in dense urban and suburban areas across the country, focusing on offices in close proximity in order to find out where consolidations might be feasible while still serving the needs of customers. 

“We are not driving the post offices out of Berkeley,” said Augustine Ruiz, a spokesperson for the Bay Valley district, which comprises 226 post offices from Berkeley to Santa Cruz and beyond. “We are looking at consolidating one station with another where they serve the same geographic area. We will keep in mind customer convenience and transportation. All we are asking for is a flexibility to determine our future by making all these difficult decisions so that we can remain a viable service in the days ahead.” 

But for people like Smith, who depend on their neighborhood post office, Ruiz’s words offer little consolation. 

“You see the set-up here,” she said, pointing at the parking lot outside the Adeline post office with her cane. “It is the only one in this area that has a parking space. Parking is very hard to come by in the other post offices, especially the main post office downtown.” 

Smith said that South Station is in a convenient location for aged and disabled residents, a lot of whom live in senior co-ops or assisted living in South Berkeley or would soon begin using the Ed Roberts Campus—a one-stop service center for the disability community located a few buildings down from the post office. 

“I can just walk here if I want to,” she said. “If it is closed down, I will have to drive to the one on Seventh Street in Oakland and spend hours just looking for parking. I am doing this not only for myself,but for other people as well. I am fortunate to have a roof over my head, but what about all the homeless people who can’t get their mail delivered to them? Where will they take their P.O. boxes?” 

A retired preschool teacher who now sits on the city of Berkeley’s Commission on Aging, Smith said she contacted her councilmember, Max Anderson, after reading about the post offices in the newspaper. Anderson’s aide then helped her to get hold of a petition. 

Darlene Carroll, who owns Berkeley Signs with her husband, signed the petition after collecting mail from the P.O. box inside, 

“Our business has had a P.O. box here for 20 years,” she said. “It’s really convenient. I don’t know what we would do if it closed down.” 

Ruiz said a total of 22 stations and branches in the Bay Valley district had found their way onto the list for possible consolidation after being recommended by their postmasters. 

The drop in revenue, Ruiz said, was mainly due to a significant dip in the volume of mail this year, down from 212 billion pieces in 2006 to an estimated 180 billion by the end of this year. 

Ruiz blamed the decrease largely on the electronic transaction business, which he said had eliminated the need for people to use the postal service to pay bills. 

“Institutions have found a way to do their transactions online through the Internet,” he said. “A lot of it has to do with the recession. Businesses aren’t mailing as much as before.” 

A report by the USPS shows walk-in revenues for the Landscape Station to be the highest ($740,885), followed by South Berkeley ($464,316) and Park ($310,938) stations. 

Landscape also has the largest number of P.O. boxes—1136—with South Berkeley having a little more than 500. Park Station does not have any P.O. boxes. 

The USPS, Ruiz said, was also straining under a 2006 law that required it to pay billions of dollars in health retirement benefits for employees every year, something he said no other public or private agency was required to do. 

Ruiz said the USPS would make a decision based on the summer study by the first week of October. 

Rafael Blank was at the South Berkeley Station Wednesday collecting mail for his mother from a P.O. box. 

“I opened this P.O. box for my mother before she went away with the Peace Corps to Nicaragua,” he said. “I come here to get her mail two or three times every week. It would be a hassle if I had to look for a new box—she has to be here to sign for one, and she won’t be here for a couple of years.” 

At least 10 people started to queue up around noon to buy stamps, envelopes, and bubble mailers and to sign money orders. 

“This is by far my favorite post office,” said James Livingston, who lives in San Francisco and works at Berkeley Bowl. “The lady here is really nice, even though it’s always busy,” she said, referring to Lead Sales Associate Yolanda Williams, who has worked at the branch for six years. “I wouldn’t want to see this one close.” 

“I prefer the Park Station post office because I live near there, but this one has decent customer service as well,” said Yolanda Johnson. “Between the two of them, I don’t know which one should close. If the postal people don’t have the money—and I believe that—what about the people who don’t have the money to catch the bus to go to these limited-only post offices? Where are they going to go?” 

For many seniors, Johnson said, walking to their neighborhood post office to mail a letter or a bill was a “matter of dignity and pride.” 

“It pisses me off,” she said. “It’s a crying shame for the community.” 

Regulars at the Park Station branch were busy signing petitions Wednesday afternoon. More than 1,700 signatures have been gathered over the last seven days. 

“Why is it closing? When is it closing?” The barrage of questions hit Park Station’s only sales associate, Eleanor Neal, who has been at the branch for eight years. 

Neal knows her customers by name and sometimes skips her lunch break to help them out. Many of them live on fixed incomes and can’t afford to buy a computer or get Internet access to correspond with family and friends. 

“It’s going to be terrible,” said Shirley, a customer who has been shopping at the Park Station post office for 30 years. “I don’t have a computer, and I mail all my letters from here. I know the postal service is losing some of their business to e-mail, but it can’t be that bad.” 

Streamlining mailboxes, reducing staff and increasing the price of postage stamps for the last two years has not done much to solve the budget deficit, Ruiz said. 

Raising the value of postage stamps to 44 cents this year only helped to cover operational costs, Ruiz said, and did not address other expenses like transportation and fuel. 

“Raising the price of a stamp will not solve the problem,” he said. “And we don’t want to increase the price to a point where we drive business away.”

Public Comment Begins for Pool Plan Study

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday September 10, 2009 - 12:15:00 PM

The City of Berkeley announced Sept. 1 that the public could weigh in on the Citywide Pools Master Plan environmental initial study for a 30-day period ending Oct. 2. 

The master plan proposes to expand or modernize three of the city’s existing public pools—King, Willard and West Campus—and addresses the relocation, to West Campus of the warm water pool in the seismically unsafe Berkeley High School Old Gym, which is slated for demolition in 2011 to make way for classrooms,.  

The pools at King, Willard and West Campus were all constructed in the 1960s and are in dire need of repair and upgrades. 

According to the master plan, the City of Berkeley spends around $880,000—the net income generated from user fees—every year to operate the existing swimming pools. 

Additionally, the Berkeley Unified School District spends $200,000 annually on heating and maintenance for the warm water pool, costs that will become the city’s responsibility once the pool is relocated to a new site. 

A 10-member aquatics task force completed the master plan in April 2009, recommending a preferred option, which includes constructing a 25-yard by 25-meter outdoor competition pool at King Middle School, a 2,790-square-foot indoor warm water pool, and a 3,510-square-foot indoor lap pool at West Campus and renovating the pool and locker rooms and converting the dive pool to a children’s play pool at Willard for a $29,231,000 total price tag. 

The Berkeley Board of Education recently approved 1,900 square feet of additional land at West Campus for the warm water pool as part of the preferred plan.  

Berkeley Unified is planning to start construction at West Campus to convert an old adult school classroom building into the district’s administrative headquarters. The project is not expected to clash with the pool construction. 

At an April 21 workshop, the Berkeley City Council asked city staff to design a “design variant” to the preferred plan that altered the size and configuration of some of the pools and lowered the total cost of the project by around $4 million. 

The plan includes a warm water pool similar in size to the existing pool (2,250 square feet) and a larger, outdoor recreational pool at West Campus, a shallower end with a slide at the King pool which would provide more opportunity for swim lessons and recreational and public use, and keeps the design for the Willard pool unchanged. 

The total cost of the alternative design comes to $25,370,000. 

On May 19, 2009, the City Council gave the city manager the green light to move ahead with environmental analysis of the preferred plan and design variant of the Citywide Pools Master Plan.  

Based on the initial environmental report, Parks, Recreation and Waterfront Department Manager William Rogers has proposed a mitigated negative declaration instead of an environmental impact report, explaining that “although the proposed project could have a significant effect on the environment, there will not be a significant effect in this case because revisions in the project have been made by or agreed to by the project proponent.” 

The proposed project includes mitigation to ensure that construction of the pool enclosure at West Campus and replacement of the pool deck at King do not conflict with the Berkeley Creeks Ordinance, which states that all construction must be at least 25 feet away from the city’s culverts. 

According to the initial study, the construction at the West Campus pool site may be close enough to the Strawberry Creek culvert and that at King near a drainage swale. 

Pending completion of the plan’s environmental review and its adoption by the council, the city will start preparing a bond measure to fund pool improvements for the June 2010 ballot. 

The city’s Parks, Recreation and Waterfront Department is currently asking community members to review and comment on the environmental initial study, which can be found at the Parks, Recreation and Waterfront Department, the city manager’s office and all three pools. 


Project sponsor 

The project is being sponsored by the City of Berkeley. The city’s Parks, Recreation and Waterfront Department is taking the lead in preparing the master plan and is responsible for constructing and operating the three proposed swimming pool improvement projects. 

All three pool sites are located on property owned by the Berkeley Unified School District, which was involved in the crafting of the master plan and will be a “Responsible Agency” in the project. 


Environmental review and pre-bond schedule options 

City officials have come up with two schedules for the next 10 months, which would ultimately lead to a “potential pools bond measure in June 2010.” 

The first option includes community surveys and a detailed cost estimate, while the second one does not have any community surveys and has a less detailed cost estimate. 

According to a notice on the Parks, Recreation and Waterfront website, these schedules were prepared based upon current circumstances and are subject to change “based upon council actions, unexpected impacts found during the environmental review process and other unforeseen circumstances.” 

The website says that it is ultimately the council that will make the decision on which schedule will be followed. 


Public meetings 

The city of Berkeley will be holding three public meetings in September to hear comments about the environmental initial study: 

Disability Commission Meeting, 6:30 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 9, North Berkeley Senior Center, 1901 Hearst Ave. 

Parks and Recreation Commission Meeting, 7 p.m., Monday, Sept. 28., North Berkeley Senior Center, Multi-Purpose Room, 1901 Hearst Ave. 

Community Meeting, 7 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 30, Frances Albrier Community Center, 2800 Park St. 

Written comments about the environmental initial study must be received by Oct. 2 and should be addressed to William Rogers, Director, Parks, Recreation and Waterfront Department, 2180 Milvia St., 3rd Floor, Berkeley, CA 94704 

  E-mail comments should be sent to tstott@ci.berkeley.ca.us. 

The Citywide Pools Master Plan environmental initial study can be reviewed online at www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/ContentDisplay.aspx?id=28522 or in person at: 

• Parks, Recreation and Waterfront Department, 2180 Milvia St. 

• Office of the City Manager, 2180 Milvia St. 

• King Pool, 1700 Hopkins St. 

• Willard Pool, 2701 Telegraph Ave. 

• West Campus Pool, 2100 Browning St. 

Swanson Withdraws BART Oversight Bill

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Thursday September 10, 2009 - 12:15:00 PM

Hopes for some form of citizen oversight of the Bay Area Rapid Transit District police department died for the year when Oakland Assemblymember Sandré Swanson abruptly withdrew his proposed state authorization legislation. 

The proposed legislation—AB 1586—will now go through the regular legislative process of committee assignment and possible hearings next year. If passed by the Legislature and signed into law by the governor, the changes proposed in AB 1586 would now not go into effect until January of 2011. 

A spokesperson for BART said that Swanson withdrew the legislation after legislative leaders “did not agree to provide a waiver” to allow Swanson’s bill to be rushed through at the end of this year’s legislative session. Such waivers of regular legislative rules were needed because the bill was brought to the Legislature after the deadline for the introduction of bills. 

Last month, in response to community outrage over the Jan. 1 shooting death of 21-year-old BART passenger Oscar Grant by then-BART police officer Johannes Mehserle, the BART Board unanimously passed a plan that would provide oversight and disciplinary recommendation to the BART police force by a board-hired police auditor and a citizen police review panel. Legislation is needed for BART to implement its oversight plan, because the BART charter—originally set up by the Legislature—does not currently allow the civilian police oversight sought by the BART Board.  

Meanwhile, BART media representative Linton Johnson confirmed that a controversial amendment made to AB 1586 would eliminate the provision in the BART oversight plan to allow a two-thirds majority of the BART Board to override a police punishment decision by the BART general manager and police chief. That board override ability was struck when a passage (“The board may also recommend the appropriate level of discipline for any district police officer against whom a citizen complaint has been sustained”) was taken out of the proposed BART police oversight bill. 

Deletion of the board override provision caused several key community leaders—including Oakland Nation of Islam head, Minister Keith Muhammad, and representatives of the Oscar Grant family—to withdraw their support for the BART police oversight legislation. 

Linton said by telephone this week that even with the board override passage taken out, AB 1586 represents “two-thirds of a loaf,” and added that, if the Legislature passes the bill next year, the board override provision could be put back in at a later date. 

Whose decision it was to take out the board override passage is still in dispute. 

During an Aug. 27 meeting of the BART Board of Directors, in an audio tape of the meeting posted on the website of the San Francisco Independent Media Center (indybay.org), BART General Manager Dorothy Dugger and at least one unidentified board member can be heard saying that the provision had been struck by Swanson. 

In a prepared statement, Dugger told board members that BART representatives were told the day before the Aug. 27 meeting “by members of Swanson's staff that he will eliminate one sentence from the amendments given to him by BART in order to quiet some opposition from [the statewide police lobbying group, the Police Officers Research Association of California (PORAC)].” Dugger said that Swanson believed that PORAC “would oppose our bill and successfully kill it this year … unless it is amended to eliminate the authority given to the BART Board for disciplinary action against police officers.” 

During the following discussion, after BART Board Vice President Henry Fang of San Francisco asked who had authorized the deletion of the board override from the bill, BART Department of Government and Community Relations Manager Kerry Hamill is heard on the indybay tape saying that members of the BART Board Police Oversight Committee-Carole Ward Allen, Lynette Sweet, Tom Radulovich, and Joel Keller-"were polled and decided to move forw 

An unidentified board member can be heard on the tape of the meeting saying that AB 1586 was “Swanson’s bill” and “we can’t stop any member of the Legislature from moving forward with any bill they want.” 

However, Swanson chief of staff Larry Broussard has told the Daily Planet that the board override provision was taken out of the bill before Swanson received the proposed legislation from BART. 

It is also known that at least some members of the BART Police Oversight Committee were in negotiations with PORAC about the BART oversight bill even before Swanson agreed to take on the legislation, leading to speculation that it was BART, not Swanson, that made the deal with PORAC. Board member Lynette Sweet, a member of the police oversight committee, told participants about the BART-PORAC negotiations for PORAC support of the bill during an Oakland community meeting five days before the Aug. 27 BART Board meeting. 

And while an e-mail sent out last week by BART consultant Reginald Lyles—the author of the BART police oversight model—said that it was Swanson who proposed the BART board override deletion, it cast doubt on the claim that Swanson would have moved forward with the deletion without board approval. 

In his Aug. 26 e-mail, Lyles said that he had “spoke[n] with Carole Ward Allen, Chair of the BPD Review Committee about the proposed amendment that Assemblyman Swanson wished to make to our draft language. Chair Ward Allen reached out to and received the support from Vice Chair Joel Keller and Board President Tom Blalock to move forward with the amendment striking the last sentence of section (c).” 

Lyles said that “Director Ward Allen had [Swanson chief of staff] Larry Broussard advised that BART will support the bill as amended by Assemblyman Swanson,” adding that after unsuccessful attempts to advise Directors Sweet and Radulovich of the proposed change, the two committee members “did contact BART Staff and stated they are both in support of Assemblyman Swanson moving the bill forward as amended with the [provision for board override] taken out.”  

Lyles said that the board members were being polled because Broussard “needed clarification from BART that it would support the bill as amended by Assemblyman Swanson.”

Hello, Goodbye: Berkeley Chamber CEO Resigns

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday September 10, 2009 - 12:14:00 PM

The new CEO for the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce has left before he even arrived.  

In an e-mail to chamber members Friday, Sept. 4, chamber Vice Chair Rod Howard announced that Gian Paulo Mammone will not be taking the job offered to him a month ago.  

“I regret to inform you that Gian Paulo Mammone, our recent selection for the CEO position of the Berkeley Chamber, due to personal reasons, has decided not to take the position,” said Howard, who is also serving as the chair of the CEO search team. “Although we were disappointed in his decision, we wish Mr. Mammone all the best in his future endeavors.”  

The Daily Planet reported Aug. 13 that the chamber had appointed a new CEO after a four-month search for a replacement.  

Mammone was scheduled to take over from interim CEO Kevin Allen, who was filling the position after the chamber suddenly removed the previous CEO, Ted Garrett, in March.  

Few reasons were given for Garrett’s dismissal, except that the chamber was aspiring to move in a new direction.  

The same reason was given by Oregon’s Lincoln City Chamber of Commerce, when it decided to terminate Mammone’s position as its executive director.  

Berkeley Chamber of Commerce Chairman Jonathan DeYoe told the Planet during an interview in August that the chamber’s hiring committee was aware of Mammone’s termination from his earlier job and had talked to Lincoln City chamber officials about the reasons behind his dismissal.  

“We are confident that the issues that he [Mammone] 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.”   

In an e-mail to the Daily Planet Tuesday, DeYoe said that the chamber “believed that Gian Paolo would have been an excellent fit and still understand that sometimes we each must make difficult choices. It just so happens that one of his difficult choices was to make the decision, for personal reasons, to pass on the Berkeley Chamber opportunity.” 

  DeYoe said the chamber’s executive board will re-form the search team and start over on the search. 

  “We continue to believe that the right candidate is out there and we look forward to making their acquaintance,” he said. 

E-mails to Howard were not returned by press time. Mammone could not be reached for comment immediately.  

Howard said in his e-mail that the chamber’s executive board will convene Sept. 8 to plan a new search process to “find the right CEO for this special role in this special city.”  

Howard said that he was confident that the chamber’s support staff would be perfectly capable of running the office and serving the needs of its members as the hiring team “re-starts the search process once again.”  

“We also have a phenomenal, active board at this time, so we will continue to be strong advocates for you and for business, and a positive force for thoughtful change in the city,” Howard said. “Thank you again for your support during this transition, and we will keep you up to date on our new pursuit of this important role.”  

Environmental Justice Coalition Seeks to Stop Oakland’s BART Airport Connector

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Thursday September 10, 2009 - 12:13:00 PM

A coalition of environmental justice organizations filed a formal administrative complaint to the Federal Transportation Commission last week seeking to derail plans by the Bay Area Rapid Transit District to build a 3.2-mile rail connection between BART’s Coliseum Station and the Oakland Airport. 

The organizations say that the Oakland Airport Connector will have adverse effects on the high-minority, low-income communities surrounding it’s planned route, and they want BART to reconsider an alternative proposal to run a rapid bus line between the Coliseum Station and the airport along Hegenberger Road. 

The FTC administrative complaint against the Oakland Airport Connector was jointly filed by Urban Habitat Program, Transform, and Genesis, three local environmental justice organizations that have been active in the fight over BART’s airport connector. 

BART’s media spokesperson was not available to answer questions about the complaint filing. 

Meanwhile, the Public Safety Committee of the Oakland City Council has scheduled a discussion next Tuesday concerning the Oakland Airport Connector, and is expecting a response from BART to a series of questions the committee raised last month about the project. The committee meeting is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. at Oakland City Hall, with full council consideration of the project scheduled for Oct. 6. While the city of Oakland and the Oakland City Council have no legal say in the airport connector project, opponents of the connector are hoping that a resolution by the council opposing the project as it is currently proposed would have serious political implications, and might throw enough political weight to force BART to consider the bus rapid transit alternative. 

Meanwhile, BART has secured federal funding for the connector project and is ready to move forward, holding a pre-proposal outreach meeting with prospective developers late last month. BART has posted a sign-in sheet with the names of some 200 developer representatives who attended the pre-proposal meeting. Proposals are due back in by Sept. 22, and BART then has approximately two and a half months to have a developer signed up to construct the project in order to continue to qualify for the federal stimulus money included in the project’s complicated funding packet.  

If the FTC agrees with the complainants, however, the agency could withhold federal funding for the project until a new environmental impact report is done examining the economic impacts of the connector to residents of the surrounding communities. A representative of San Francisco-based Public Advocates, Inc., the law firm representing the organizations in the filing, said that, to their knowledge, this is the first time the FTC’s administrative complaint procedure has been attempted. 

According to the complaint, the Oakland Airport Connector is “situated in an East Oakland community with a very high minority and low-income population and will “traverse a corridor with many low-wage jobs that employ local residents, yet it will apparently be built without any intermediate stops.”  

“Even if such stops were added in the future,” the complaint continues, “its extremely high [$6] fare will exclude low-income riders from the delayed benefits of the new service. … More than just a procedural shortcoming, BART’s failure to evaluate the equity impacts of the OAC project, and weigh appropriate alternatives to find a less discriminatory one, is likely to have disparate impacts on Environmental Justice populations in East Oakland, low-income and minority BART riders, and the many low-wage workers with jobs at the Airport and along the Hegenberger corridor in which the OAC project would operate. Those populations either rely on the existing bus connection or would benefit from a low-fare transit option with stops at the Airport and along the way.” 

“Of equal concern to these populations,” the complaint concluded, “is the massive capital cost of the OAC project, which will drain scarce funds from local, state and federal sources that could otherwise provide operating and capital assistance for low-cost transit on which East Oakland residents rely very heavily to access employment, education and other essential opportunities.” 

School District Appoints Nutrition Services Director

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday September 10, 2009 - 12:13:00 PM

Marni Posey replaced Chef Ann Cooper as the Berkeley Unified School District’s director of nutrition services Tuesday. 

Cooper, who was hired by the school district on a three-year contract with the help of a grant from the Chez Pannisse Foundation in October 2005, left the school district in June to work for the Boulder Valley Unified School District. 

Posey was previously the district’s manager of nutrition services under Cooper as well as her assistant for the past three years. 

“I was her right hand,” Posey said during a telephone interview Wed- 

nesday. “I helped her with everything she did here.” 

Cooper’s efforts to ban frozen lunches and replace them with farm-fresh ingredients won her accolades in the national media, including a profile in the New Yorker—big shoes to fill, but Posey’s not worried.  

“I am very prepared for it,” she said. “Anne has taught me everything she knew. I am confident everything is going to be fine. I am prepared to enhance the programs, if not make them better.” 

Posey has worked in Berkeley Unified’s Nutrition Services department for the last nine years. Before joining Berkeley Unified, she worked at Mount Diablo Unified School District. She has a total of 15 years of experience in food services. 

Posey worked with Cooper on revamping Berkeley’s school lunch program, helping to incorporate changes to the menu and setting up the dining commons at King Middle School. 

Her new job will put her in charge of a staff of 50, including the district’s executive chef, Bonnie Christensen, and two sous chefs. 

Though the Nutrition Services department has reached its goal of being budget-neutral, Posey said, and is finally paying for itself, it is still receiving a contribution from Berkeley Unified, but the department has managed to whittle down the amount considerably.  

“We were going to get a contribution of $310,000 from the district’s General Fund this year, but we were able to chip away at it and bring it down to $23,000,” she said. 

Posey said she wanted to focus on getting more Berkeley High School students to take part in the school lunch program, which had posed a challenge for Cooper during her time in Berkeley. 

For now, Posey is concentrating on introducing new dishes to the school lunch menu. Her latest creations include spicy apricot drums for middle schoolers and beef barbacoa, a slow-cooked beef Mexican dish.

Agrofuel Lab Appears Twice on Regents’ Slate

By Richard Brenneman
Thursday September 10, 2009 - 12:12:00 PM

The UC Board of Regents will hold two meetings Wednesday, Sept. 16, on the controversial plans to build a new UC Berkeley lab to house research on turning plants into fuel for planes, trains and automobiles. 

The first session of the board’s Committee on Grounds and Buildings meets behind closed doors as members decide what to do about a pending court case that challenges their approval of a key environmental document needed to build the lab on a sensitive site above Strawberry Canyon at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL). 

The second session, an open meeting, is slated to begin 25 minutes after the start of the first and would amend financing plans for the same lab, this time at a new site in downtown Berkeley. 

The Helios Energy Research Facility, now planned for the northeast corner of the site currently occupied by the vacant California Department of Health Services building north of Berkeley Way between Oxford Street and Shattuck Avenue, will house public and private labs conducting research funded by a $500 million grant from British oil giant BP, plc. 

The major focus of the facility will be research on synthetic fuels—called biofuels by proponents and agrofuels by critics—created from plants by genetically modified microbes. 

A second, smaller building is still planned for an existing site on the LBNL campus and will house research not related to plant-derived fuels. 

A coalition of Berkeley activists organized as Save Strawberry Canyon had filed suits challenging two proposed LBNL lab buildings. 

A decision handed down by a San Francisco federal judge last month halted plans for the $113 million Computational Research and Theory (CRT) building, planned for the Berkeley hills adjacent to Blackberry Gate.  

In that case, District Court Judge William Alsup ruled that the university, LBNL and the Department of Energy had violated federal law when they failed to conduct an environmental review under the provisions of the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA). 

The second action challenges the fuel lab, and it is that lawsuit that regents will discuss in their closed-door session. 

The second session will consider funding amendments for the new downtown location. 

The regents will be meeting Wednesday and Thursday at the UCSF Mission Bay campus in San Francisco, 1675 Owens St., with the two Helios sessions set for 2:50 p.m. and 3:15 Thursday.

San Pablo Fears Huge Loss Due to Point Molate Casino Competition

By Richard Brenneman
Thursday September 10, 2009 - 12:13:00 PM

Officials in San Pablo, long one of the East Bay’s poorest cities, fear their community could lose up to 42 percent of its municipal budget if the Point Molate casino resort is built, said City Manager Brock T. Arner. 

City councilmembers voted unanimously Sept. 8 to support a draft letter of opposition challenging the conclusions of the draft environmental review documents for the $1.5 billion casino resort. 

Backers of the proposed Point Molate resort have prepared a draft environmental review under both the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA). 

Arner said the documents didn’t consider the impacts on San Pablo, which receives the largest share of its municipal revenues from the Lytton San Pablo Casino, which relies on fast-paced electronic bingo machines for most of its income. 

San Pablo officials fear the full-scope Las Vegas-style slot machines and games at the Richmond resort will lure many players away from the Lytton band’s casino. 

“We estimate that it could siphon off as much as $100 million a year,” Arner said, which would cost the city $7.5 million of its $18 million annual bonus. 

The impact would also cost the jobs of San Pablo residents who work at the local casino, he said. 

Arner said the city has a strong basis for its challenge. 

“Unlike CEQA, NEPA requires that the review take economic degradation into account,” Arner said. 

The San Pablo administrator also faulted the study’s analysis of traffic impacts, which he fears could be considerably worse than indicated in the joint federal and state document. 

“I also have questions about their business model. Does anyone really believe that their customer base will be visitors to San Francisco conventions who take the ferry over to Richmond?” 

Arner, the mayor and the deputy mayor will be drafting a final version of the letter, which he said should be ready to deliver by Monday. 

The Point Molate casino project, brainchild of Berkeley environmental consultant turned developer James Levine, is one of two projects that could affect the San Pablo casino’s revenue. 

Closer at hand is the proposed Sugar Bowl casino in unincorporated North Richmond. Though a draft environmental review was prepared for that project, a court decision has overturned its adoption by the Richmond City Council. 

One of the problems the court had with that project is that it would have a municipal services agreement with the city of Richmond, even though the casino is in an unincorporated area of Contra Costa County. 

Both San Pablo and Richmond have large populations at the lower end of the income scale, and each city has turned to casino revenue as a way of funding civic improvements and creating much-needed jobs. Both communities could find themselves seated at opposite tables before a judge unless the issues can be resolved. 

Before the Lytton Band of Pomos took over the former card room and turned it into the gambling venue it is today, city officials had pondered ending the community’s incorporation and handing jurisdiction over to the county because of what appeared to be insurmountable financial difficulties.

Media Downsizings To Set New Record

By Richard Brenneman
Thursday September 10, 2009 - 12:11:00 PM

With the year only two-thirds over, American journalism has already lost nearly as many jobs as in all of last year. 

Bay Area papers may be hit even harder as downsizings continue in the area, with the San Francisco Chronicle engaged in a new round of layoffs as two major national papers prepare to launch local editions. 

MediaNews, the Bay Area’s largest newspaper publisher, has had more layoffs as well, even closing the editorial offices of one of its papers, the Fremont Argus. 

MediaNews workers at the chain’s East Bay unit were also forced to take unpaid days off as one of the conditions for winning a union contract. 

More bad news for local print publishers came in an announcement in Saturday’s New York Times, stating that “Both the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times are planning to introduce San Francisco Bay Area editions.” 

Times staff writer Richard Pérez-Peña reported that, by offering coverage of local stories in a bid to capture advertisers and new readers, the new editions could represent “the first glimpse at a new strategy by national newspapers to capitalize on the contraction of regional papers.”  

So far in 2009, U.S. papers have laid off at least 13,533 workers, compared to 15,977 in all of 2008—itself a record year—according to the blog Paper Cuts, which charts press downsizings. 

The blog reported that, in the last seven months, 2,112 newspaper jobs vanished. 

Converting those figures to a monthly basis, papers lost 302 jobs a month in 2007, 1,331 in 2008 and 1,640 a month so far this year. 

Layoffs haven’t been restricted to print, with television also engaged in downsizings—for example at KTTV-11, the Fox News station in Los Angeles, which has laid off 117 newsroom employees in the last two months, according to media-watching blog L.A. Observed. 

The station is a dominant player in one of the nation’s two leading media markets. 

The blog reprinted a letter sent by station Senior Editor Mark Suddock to Fox owner Rupert Murdoch lamenting that “The best of the best are being furloughed. ... The cuts are so severe that virtually no one remains on-site to technically maintain the facility.” 

Layoffs have hit Bay Area stations as well. 

According to Mother Jones magazine, “In the first half of 2009, 123 TV news shows were canceled, 106 newspapers folded, 110 bureaus closed, 556 magazines died, and 12,000 journalists lost their jobs. These numbers are likely to get much worse.”

Public Health Buildings May Be Eligible for National Register

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday September 10, 2009 - 12:14:00 PM

A city of Berkeley public health building previously deemed ineligible for landmarking might fit the criteria to be on the National Register, the Berkeley Landmarks Preservation Commission said last week. 

At its monthly meeting on Sept. 3, the landmarks commission was asked to weigh in on proposed renovations to the Berkeley Public Health Clinic at 830 University Ave.—as required under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act—as well as to comment on its historic merit. 

The commission was invitedonly to review the project, not to vote on it. 

Lorin Jensen, the city’s supervising civil engineer for the project, told the commission that the city had received $500,000 in federal stimulus funds to restore and upgrade the early 20th century structure to make it energy efficient and ADA compliant. 

The city of Berkeley will contribute $300,000 from its General Fund toward designing the project. 

The proposed renovations would add an elevator to the rear of the building, alter the main entrance ramp, paint the structure and reshingle the roof while keeping within the secretary of interior’s standards. 

The clinic currently offers comprehensive health care to Berkeley residents, including reproductive, immunization, tuberculosis prevention and educational programs. 

The city’s historic consultant for the project, San Francisco-based Knapp Architects, concluded that the building was not significant enough to be eligible for the National Register. 

However, local historian Susan Cerny told the commission that she had come across some interesting history on the clinic while researching the landmarked Mobilized Women’s building. 

“I am very compelled by the history,” Cerny said. “I am not opposed at all to what [the city] is planning to do, but I am opposed to the building being more or less condemned once it gets on record that it is not eligible for being on the National Register. The building is definitely worthy of being initiated for landmark status.” 

The Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association also disagreed with the Knapp report. 

A report by Cerny says that the clinic is locally significant “in the area of medicine and health, social history, community development and for its association with philanthropist Phoebe Apperson Hearst, its architects Charles Henry Cheney and James Plachek, and founders, two early women doctors, Dr. Edith Brownsill, Dr. Louise Linscott-Hector and Dr. Robert Hector.” 

It shows that the building is associated with the women of the Berkeley Clinic Auxiliary, who since 1917 have raised funds for various projects, including the building. 

Founded in 1906, right after the great earthquake and fire, the clinic has a 103-year history that also reflects the history of West Berkeley, according to Cerny. 

“I am surprised it is not already landmarked,” said Landmarks Commissioner Carrie Olson. “The information is fascinating.” 

The landmarks commission told the city’s planning staff that, based on the information from Cerny and the Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association, the building was eligible for the National Register at a future date. 

The commission also landmarked the Koerber Building at 2054 University Ave. and the Capitol Market Building at 1500 Shattuck Ave.

Zoning Board to Review Pacific Steel Use Permit

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday September 10, 2009 - 12:14:00 PM

The Berkeley Zoning Adjustments Board will review Pacific Steel Casting’s use permit at a public meeting Thursday, Sept. 10. 

According to a report prepared by the city’s planning staff, Pacific Steel, located at 1421 Second St., is not in violation of its use permit.  

On June 25, the board received the steel foundry’s annual performance report regarding whether or not it was in compliance with the conditions of approval on its use permit. 

At that meeting, zoning board members raised certain questions about the use permit and asked for clarification on certain points. 

The latest report by city planning staff begins with a summary of the history of the project and the permit, current compliance status, a brief overview of the changes in the operation and staffing as reflected by the last three performance reports and a response to the zoning board’s questions.  

Pacific Steel has been battling with neighbors and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District for more than 20 years on charges ranging from exceeding emission standards to creating a public nuisance. 

The foundry was forced to lay off more than 300 workers recently because of low steel production during the recession. 

The report prepared by the city staff shows that there have been significant decreases in overall output (10 percent) and number of employees (30 percent), especially those employed during the evening and graveyard shifts.  

The meeting is scheduled to take place at 7 p.m., Old City Hall, 2134 Martin Luther King Jr. Way. 

Whites and Men Most Likely to Jump From Golden Gate Bridge

Bay City News
Thursday September 10, 2009 - 12:11:00 PM

Caucasians comprise 80 percent of the people who jump to their deaths from the Golden Gate Bridge and men outnumber women 3-1, according to a report issued today by Marin County Coroner Ken Holmes regarding suicides on the Golden Gate Bridge over the past 15 years. 

The report is based on the coroner’s office’s public files of 330 deaths from the bridge between July 1, 1994, and June 30 of this year. 

The report does not contain data from coroner and medical examiner offices that find the remains of people who jump from the bridge, Holmes said. 

A complete study would require records from counties along bay shores and the Pacific Coast between Mendocino and Santa Barbara counties, Holmes said. 

“Further, a methodology to include confirmed suicides where no body is recovered must be developed to complete the picture,” Holmes said.  

The new study, released in conjunction with the Bridge Rail Foundation that has advocated raising the height of the railing on the bridge to prevent suicide attempts, reinforces and expands observations Holmes made in a 2007 study regarding the demographics of those who jumped from the bridge. 

Over 90 percent of the people who jump from the bridge are from Northern California and 80 percent are from the nine Bay Area counties, Holmes said. Forty-two percent of those who committed suicide are from Marin or San Francisco counties. 

There is an average of about two dozen suicides a year, the coroner’s office said. 

The median age of those who jump to their deaths from the en Gate Bridge is 40, the report states. Fifty-six percent of those who have jumped never married. 

Holmes said, however, the new study “exposes a hidden horror in the Golden Gate Bridge suicide story—the public witnesses most of these deaths. 

“Tourists, commuters, adults, children and people working on the Bridge report seeing over 70 percent of all suicides from the famous span,” Holmes said. 

“And that’s just people who speak with authorities. I suspect the actual number of witnesses is much greater,” Holmes said in a news release. 

“The Bridge District cried foul when filmmaker Eric Steel recorded the deaths in 2004, yet they see little urgency in resolving this ongoing problem,” Holmes said. 

Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District spokeswoman Mary Currie took issue with Holmes this morning. 

“I’m not going to address the allegations but the district is clearly moving as quickly as possible toward a suicide barrier,” Currie said. 

The district’s Board of Directors voted in October to install a net system under the bridge to deter suicides. 

Currie said the final environmental impact report on the net system is due for public release this month but the district must still find $50 million for the project. 

“Seventy percent of those who come to the bridge to harm themselves are stopped by our patrols. I can’t confirm that 70 percent of suicides are witnessed. We don’t hear much from them,” Currie said. 

Currie said the bridge district and state Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, are hoping to secure private funding for the net project. 

Ammiano’s spokesman Quintin Mecke said this afternoon the assemblyman would appreciate private funding but “the primary focus is federal funding.” 

“There is no coordinated effort to get private funding. There’s nothing definitive,” Mecke said..

Teen Arrested, Two Others Sought After Brief Police Pursuit

Bay City News
Thursday September 10, 2009 - 12:11:00 PM

Berkeley police have arrested a 17-year-old boy and are seeking two other suspects in connection with a brief car chase this morning in which a gun may have fired by accident, a police spokesperson said. 

The chase began at about 3:30 a.m. after an officer attempted to pull over a silver, four-door Honda Civic in the area of 10th and Gilman streets for a traffic violation, the police spokesperson Officer Andrew Frankel said.  

The driver refused to yield, and the officer followed the car. After about two blocks, near Ninth and Camelia streets, the officer heard a gunshot and called in a report of shots fired, Frankel said.  

No one was hit by the gunfire and police continued to follow the Honda until the driver stopped in the middle of the road at Fifth and Camelia streets, Frankel said. Three males exited the car and ran. 

Berkeley police, Albany police and a K-9 unit from Oakland searched the neighborhood and found the 17-year-old boy hiding in the 700 block of Page Street, Frankel said. 

The other two suspects remained at large as of about 8 a.m. 

Frankel said a handgun was recovered near Ninth and Camelia streets. He said the officer who initiated the pursuit didn’t see a muzzle flash at the time the shot was fired and that investigators believe the gun went off by accident.  

“What we think happened was that they were scared to get caught with a gun, they threw it out the window and it fired,” Frankel said.  

The 17-year-old was arrested and brought to the Berkeley Police Department and will be taken to juvenile hall, he said.

Alameda County District Attorney Tom Orloff Announces Retirement

Bay City News
Thursday September 10, 2009 - 12:10:00 PM

Alameda County District Attorney Tom Orloff announced at today’s Board of Supervisors meeting that he has decided to retire, effective as soon as the board can appoint a replacement. 

Orloff, 66, who has been in the office nearly 40 years and has headed it for the past 15, recommended that the board act next week to appoint Chief Assistant District Attorney Nancy O’Malley to fill the rest of his four-year term, which expires at the end of next year. 

The district attorney’s position will be on the ballot next year. 

Orloff told the Board of Supervisors, “If you select Nancy, next year the voters will decide if your choice of Nancy was correct. I am confident they will affirm your selection.” 

Orloff’s announcement seemed to take the board by surprise. 

After the meeting, Orloff said he had simply decided that “it’s time” to retire. 

“I still have my good health, and there are some things I want to do,” he said. 

Orloff said, “My grandson is one year old and I want to spend time with him so he gets to know his grandfather.” 

Supervisor Gail Steele told Orloff, “You’ve done a good job and have represented the county well.” 

Supervisor Alice Lai-Bitker said, “We’re very fortunate to have had your leadership the last 15 years.” 

In his announcement to the board, Orloff said, “Over the past 15 years as district attorney I have been called on to make many decisions. Many have received little or no public attention. A few have been scrutinized in the public eye.” 

One such decision was the question of whether to charge former BART police officer Johannes Mehserle in connection with the shooting death of Oscar Grant III at the Fruitvale station on Jan. 1. 

Some community leaders criticized Orloff for taking too long to file charges against Mehserle. Orloff did file a murder charge against Mehserle on Jan. 13. 

According to Mehserle’s lawyer, Michael Rains, it is the first murder prosecution in California of a police officer for an on-duty homicide. 

On Feb. 10, a civil rights group delivered a petition to Orloff with more than 20,000 signatures asking that he charge a second BART police officer, Tony Pirone, in connection with Grant’s death, but Orloff has declined to do so. 

Chief Assistant District Attorney O’Malley, 55, has been in the District Attorney’s Office for 25 years and has been chief assistant for 10 years. 

She said that Orloff’s retirement “is a great loss” and that “Tom has been a great leader.” 

Fire Department Log

By Richard Brenneman
Thursday September 10, 2009 - 12:09:00 PM

Bucket brigade 

Summoned by a report of a grass fire burning near the railroad tracks in the 700 block of University Avenue, Berkeley firefighters arrived to find a vestige of a bygone era—a working bucket brigade. 

The call came in at 5 p.m. last Friday, Sept. 4, reported Deputy Fire Chief Gil Dong. 

“On arrival, firefighters found a brigade of citizens trying to put out the fire with buckets,” he said. 

But buckets weren’t doing a lot of good at quenching the flames, which were quickly consuming a 20-by-20-foot dried-out yard. 

However, a blast of water from a fire hose hooked to a fire truck made nearly instant work of the flames, which may have been caused by a discarded cigarette. 

There was no damage to nearby structures.

Berkeley Architectural Walking Tours Shed Light on City’s History

By Steven Finacom Special to the Planet
Thursday September 10, 2009 - 12:09:00 PM

Although best known for its spring historic House Tour, this fall the Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association (BAHA) is offering up a varied bouquet of events; no less than 10 separate activities plus a book release. 

Here’s a brief summary of what’s in store, from talks to walks in little-explored Berkeley neighborhoods to an event at Berkeley’s famed National Landmark First Church of Christ, Scientist. 

Worried about your aged wooden windows? Seduced by the siren song of the vinyl window salesperson? Repair, don’t replace. Saturday, Sept. 12, local architect and BAHA Board member Shawn Smith will lead a practical how-to workshop on repairing the wooden windows that give local homes so much of their architectural character. $15, 2 p.m. at the BAHA offices. 

Sunday, Sept. 13, BAHA will have a booth between Modoc and Ensenada at the Solano Stroll. This is always a good opportunity to buy BAHA publications. 

BAHA is on the verge of completing a top-to-bottom reworking and updating of its popular handbook, 41 Berkeley Walking Tours. Many entries—and several entirely new self-guided tours—have been added. Planned for release this fall, the book will be a renewed, accessible gateway to the history of Berkeley as expressed through its buildings and neighborhoods. 

To mark the publication, a series of five walking tours of neighborhoods included in the book will be given. The tours can be attended individually, or a discounted season ticket is available. Tour costs for BAHA members are $10 per tour, $40 per season; the general public rates are $15 per tour, $50 per series. 

All the tours run from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturdays. They include: 

“Dwight Way Station,” led by this article’s author, on Saturday, Sept. 19, featuring the area around Dwight and Shattuck that 19th-century promoters unsuccessfully tried to make the center of Berkeley’s embryonic downtown. Victorian houses, early commercial buildings, and a wide variety of historic sites survive in this often-overlooked district. 

“West Berkeley,” led by Stephanie Manning on Saturday, Sept. 26. Manning, who started researching the history of Berkeley’s oldest—and her home—neighborhood in the 1970s will lead this visit to the many surviving structures and sites from when the neighborhood was the Bayside manufacturing village of Oceanview. 

“North-Central Berkeley” will be led by BAHA President Daniella Thompson on Saturday, Oct. 3. This neighborhood, northwest of downtown and north of University Avenue, was home to both businessmen and Beats, including for a time both Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac. Although BART construction cut through the neighborhood, many of its characteristic Classic Box and Colonial Revival houses survive along with Victorians and Arts and Crafts homes. 

Berkeley native and BAHA Executive Director Anthony Bruce leads “Claremont Creekside” on Oct. 10. This idyllic and exclusive planned residential district, now more than a century old, features stately homes, winding streets, and meandering Harwood Creek in southeast Berkeley. 

“Berkeley Villa Tract,” led by author Susan Cerny on Saturday, Oct. 17. The Villa Tract in north central Berkeley, beside today’s gourmet ghetto, was originally part of the 800-acre farmstead of Napoleon Bonaparte Byrne. Railroad and streetcar lines opened it up as a convenient district, and residential subdivisions burgeoned, making this a distinctive early East Berkeley neighborhood. 

Overlapping with the walking tours is a series of evening lectures at the Hillside Club on Cedar Street. Inaugurating a new, periodic BAHA series entitled “Preservation at Work”—the lectures feature local speakers who make their living studying, writing, and teaching about history or historic preservation. 

First up on Wednesday, Oct. 21, is author and scholar Gray Brechin speaking about “A New Deal for the East Bay: Excavating the Buried Civilization of the Great Depression.” Brechin is engaged in a massive project to document the physical and cultural remains of the New Deal in California. He has a barn-burning documentary address on the considerable legacy—from sewer systems to public parks—built by a federal government that was accused of socialism and unwisely going into debt to stimulate the economy during an economic crisis.  

Next, on Nov. 4, author and historic home renovator Jane Powell will speak on the subject of “Smart Growth, Green Buildings and Other Oxymorons,” taking a critical look at some of the trends changing urban landscapes today, including those in the East Bay. Oakland resident Powell is a wry and provocative speaker and an expert in renovating and reusing, rather than removing, historic resources. 

University of California Professor Paul Groth, an expert in American vernacular architecture and cultural, social, and economic trends, will give the third lecture on Wednesday, Nov. 18, as these subjects are expressed through buildings. 

Groth’s topic is “Ordinary Storefronts of the 20th Century: Clues to the Local Histories of Shopping and Retailing.” He has studied, both around the country and in the East Bay, the evolution of the commercial landscape and will trace and illustrate the history of business building from 18th-century shops, when people went to businesses to buy but not to be seen, to 21st century malls where the customer has become part of the display. 

The lectures cost $15 per talk, or $40 for a series ticket. Proceeds benefit the renovation of the historic Elizabeth Kenney Cottage. 

BAHA is also co-sponsoring a lecture by Robert Judson Clark at the First Church of Christ, Scientist, on the evening of Thursday, Oct. 8. Clark, a noted architectural historian, speaks on “Inventing a Masterwork: Bernard Maybeck and the First Church of Christ, Scientist, Berkeley, 1909–1911.”  

His talk comes almost exactly a century after Maybeck was hired to design what is now Berkeley’s most architecturally renowned building, and kicks off a two-year observance of the building’s centennial. The event is co-sponsored by the Friends of First Church. Tickets are $15. 

To buy tickets on line for events or find out further details, visit the calendar section of the BAHA website at http://berkeleyheritage.com/calendar.html, or call the BAHA office at 841-2242. E-mail inquiries can be sent to baha@berkeleyheritage.com. 


Steven Finacom is on the BAHA Board and will be leading one of the walks this season.  

Berkeley Historical Society Fall Walking Tours

By Steven Finacom Special to the Planet
Thursday September 10, 2009 - 12:06:00 PM

Explore President Franklin Roosevelt’s legacy in Berkeley. Take a look inside some of Berkeley’s boutique hostelries or West Berkeley artisan shops. Picnic in the idyllic north Berkeley hills. Learn the overlooked history of one major local street. Tour several newly constructed, and rehabilitated, housing developments along another major avenue. 

All those opportunities are yours in the fall series of Walking Tours sponsored by the Berkeley Historical Society.  

The tours take place six Saturdays from September 19 to December 12, typically from 10 a.m. to 12 noon (unless otherwise noted). You can attend single tours, or buy a discounted season ticket.  

BHS walking tours are informal and affordable. You get a volunteer guide who knows the neighborhood—typically they’re a resident of the area you’re touring and/or have been researching it for years. Oftentimes—although not always—there’s a handout with maps and a historical summary, as well as the opportunity to see inside places usually closed to the public. 

The tours kick off Saturday, September 19, with a stroll through the legacy of Berkeley’s Depression era past. Although Berkeley, like most American communities, faced prolonged economic hardship during the 1930s, it also benefitted from foresighted federal aid programs—Roosevelt’s famed New Deal—that brought both employment and public improvements to the local landscape. 

Harvey Smith, board president of the National New Deal Preservation Association, will lead the tour, visiting parks, public buildings, schools and art works that came from New Deal programs. And since we’re currently in another “Great” economic period in United States history—although a Recession, not a Depression—the tour will “explore the relevance of this work to today’s political and economic realities.” 

Historical Society stalwart Paul Grunland—known for his careful research and detailed tour write-ups—leads the second tour through what he calls “Marin Avenue North”—a neighborhood of “charming homes built by famed architects and builders, winding contoured streets, creeks, rock outcroppings, city parks and pathways.” 

North Berkeley walks are always filled with architectural and historical surprises and delights. Attendees at Grunland’s October 3 tour are also invited to bring a picnic lunch to enjoy after the tour. This tour is not wheelchair accessible because of the steep slopes involved. 

I’ll be leading the third tour of the season on October 17, along Telegraph Avenue—not the famed four blocks north of Dwight, but the wider, often overlooked, stretch south of Dwight towards the Oakland border.  

Many hurry along this four-lane street on their way to other destinations with a “there’s nothing there” attitude, but the street has a host of historic sites, buildings and a heritage dating back to the 19th century, when it was one of Berkeley’s earliest roadways.  

Back then portions of the avenue went by different names—the Telegraph Road, Humboldt, Choate Street. It developed, with some commercial interludes, into a residential boulevard lined with stately homes and street trees. 

Although considerably changed from that past, south Telegraph is still full of surprises, from a block where every building from a century ago is still standing, to the location of a famed 1960s folk music club. 

Saturday, October 31, Rick Auerbach of the West Berkeley Artisans and Industrial Companies (WEBAIC) will be leading a “West Berkeley Works!” walk through some of the “hundreds of factories, shops and studios between San Pablo and the freeway.”  

This is a neighborhood where manufacturing and craftwork date back to Berkeley’s earliest days, and where thousands of artists, artisans, and industrial workers are currently employed. 

Rezoning in West Berkeley is on the policy agenda of the city; this walk will provide a timely look at the present day character of West Berkeley’s “industrial” district. 

Saturday, November 14, Dan Sawislak from Resources for Community Development will head a tour of “Affordable Housing in Berkeley,” featuring several infill housing developments along University Avenue. They range from the old Bel Air Motel—refurbished into the Erna P. Harris Court apartments—to Helios Corner, a large, new construction development at University and Sacramento avenues. 

The tour is co-sponsored by several local affordable housing organizations and lasts an extra half hour until 12:30. 

Saturday, December 12 is the final tour, traditionally a bonus tour for those who bought season tickets to the other walks. This fall the bonus tour will visit three Berkeley boutique hotels as they get ready for the holidays and will last three hours, until 1:00 p.m. 


Steven Finacom is a board member of the Berkeley Historical Society and will be leading one of the tours this season. 


Each tour costs $8 for a BHS member, $10 for general public. There’s a $30 “season pass” for all five tours for BHS members. You can join BHS and get the member discount for the tours at the same time.  

For reservations and tour starting points, call the Berkeley Historical Society at (510) 848-0181. Leave a message with your name, telephone number, tours you’d like to attend, and number of tickets you’d like to purchase for each. 

You can also drop by the Berkeley History Society in the Veterans Memorial Building, 1931 Center Street (west of Milvia) on Thursdays–Saturdays, 1–4 p.m., to add your name to the reservation list.  



Bombshell or Blip on the Screen

By Becky O’Malley
Thursday September 10, 2009 - 12:03:00 PM

A couple of weeks before Van Jones resigned his Washington job, I happened to have a casual conversation with an old friend about a media organization we’d both been instrumental in founding in the distant last millennium. He was complaining that the group had, rather soon after it began, turned into an arena for ambitious self-promoters instead of being the advocacy organization which its founders intended. Most of this happened in the 15 or so years when I was too preoccupied with earning a living to pay attention, but I believed my friend’s annoyed recital of pointless power struggles within the group, since anyone who’s ever been politically active knows that it happens all the time. 

Among the players he was kvetching about was Van Jones. 

On a Bay Area e-mail tree that I sometimes see, just after Jones’ resignation, most activists of my acquaintance were wringing their collective hands about it. One of them, however, a person who founded a pioneering green business before Van was even a young Yalie, noted that he was a pain in the neck to work with when he became a born-again eco-capitalist: evidently charming, bright and charismatic, but also arrogant and uncooperative. 

Anyone who reads Jones’ Wikipedia bio might wonder who vetted him for a high profile White House job. He started out as a typical Preachers’ Kid: a good student, conventional, an adept user of language, and yes, ambitious. Between twenty and forty, as many of his fellow PKs have been known to do, he cut loose in all kinds of dramatic and high profile ways. He called himself a small-c communist for a while, though years after that label had lost its shock value and the official party had self-destructed.  

Now, you can’t believe everything you read in a Wikipedia bio. (We have first-hand experience with that problem, since the entry for the Berkeley Daily Planet is being stalked by one “Dr. Mike” Harris of Sausalito, a card-carrying member of the lunatic fringe of supporters of right-wing Israeli politics. Every time someone corrects the misinformation he’s inserted into the entry, he changes it back.) So for all I know Glenn Beck and his ilk might be altering Van Jones’s story, but it seems clear that he’s been fairly rowdy from time to time.  

How about that petition he signed? Rabbi Michael Lerner told me that the circulated version, which he himself signed, was considerably milder than the one that appeared in print, to which the sponsors had added a lot of unsupportable accusations without the consent of the signers. It was bad judgment to sign even the original, for sure, but not the worst decision Jones has ever made. My own view has always been that signing petitions for anything except local ballot propositions and candidates is risky business, and that most petitions make very little difference anyhow, so the risk usually outweighs the benefit.  

The most curious aspect of the story is that it illustrates the way some members of the American public, left, right and center, have come to look on political events as if they were episodes on made-for-TV series about fictional people. What are we to make of the number of poll respondents on the left who don’t believe that planes crashed into the World Trade center eight years ago this week, good matches for those on the right who think Barack Obama was born in Kenya? It’s not Van Jones’ political correctness that is called into question by his seeming endorsement of the 9/11 doubters, it’s his good sense. But maybe he just wasn’t paying attention that day. 

It’s possible, as my hyper-critical leftist buddies have been quick to assert, that “Obama caved in to the right wing.” Last weekend I was at a nostalgic gathering of old radicals, alter kockers in training, who almost uniformly expressed deep disapproval over how Jones had been let go, sure that the Fox News crowd had gotten their way. Some people love to bring the bad news. 

But if you believe the word on the street in the Bay Area, it’s also possible that some folks in Washington were not unhappy to turn loose of Jones while blaming it on the right. It’s possible that some Br’er Rabbits in the White House were begging Glenn Beck not to throw them in that there briar patch when they actually wanted to get away from Van Jones themselves. Remember that he’s frequently described as “a gadfly,” and a gadfly has an unpleasant way of stinging whatever it lights on. He might have been driving the White House insiders crazy by this time.  

I’ve never met Van myself, or even heard him speak, but many reports from people I trust who have, except the two above, rave about his quick intelligence and his power to move audiences. For the Obama administration, though, that might not be the good news.  

I’m still chewing over my recent exposure to Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. Just as it was in the time of “the noblest Roman of them all,” politics is a curious mixture of idealism and personal ambition—there’s that A-word again. Even Van Jones’s biggest fans will admit that he is indeed ambitious, and likes to be the center of attention in whatever he does. Rumors among the devoted fans of the current West Wing reality show say the same thing about Rahm Emanuel. Maybe the stage there just wasn’t large enough for two tremendous egos.  

The old Russians used to say “if our little father the Tsar only knew about this, he wouldn’t allow it.” If my totally unsubstantiated hypothesis is true, and it really was a clash of ambitions, and if Obama knew about it, he should have stepped on both of them, but the man’s busy these days with a number of bigger problems. The republic will survive Van Jones’s resignation, and he’ll live to fight with characteristic panache on another day in another arena. 


Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

Thursday September 10, 2009 - 12:02:00 PM


Editors, Daily Planet: 

Regarding the $200,000 price tag for the brown-jacketed “Berkeley Guides,” Mr Fonseca either doesn’t mention or doesn’t know what most street people in Berkeley suspect: that the “Guides” are actually paid extra sets of eyes and ears for BPD. In other words, while patrolling the street for runaways and probation/parole violators from other counties and states to recruit into the city’s very profitable homeless grant money industry, they are also on the lookout for those dimebag cannabis dealers, hookers and other dangerous street hustler types that congregate downtown (except the alcohol and hard drug dealers in the park by BHS and the police station. They’re apparently on special assignment from Mayor Bates). 

Wm. Henry Fenderson 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

It’s been a pleasant respite, this period when your paper has given the Police Blotter job to someone other than Brenneman. As of the current issue, he’s back—and obviously hasn’t received any sensitivity training. As before, he slings his cheeky noir slang—heist, stickup (multiple times), braced, packing, made off, brandished—and his usual dramatic prose (”Finally, at two minutes after midnight, a lone robber...”; “A solo stickup artist produced a pistol and demanded...”) as though he was writing a screenplay instead of reporting traumatic, potentially life-changing incidents experienced by real people. Why did you take this uncompassionate guy off the column only to put him back on it? He hasn’t learned anything. 

Yes, you will probably get letters from people who disagree—who find Brenneman’s crime writing “entertaining.” Don’t listen to them. They are just as insensitive as the writer. 

Sandy Rothman 



Editors, Daily Planet: 

I read Steven Finacom’s piece about the Parker Place development, and I couldn’t disagree more over the general tenor and perspective of the piece. Overall I found the article to be extremely one-sided. From what I can see, the proposed project appears to be appropriately to scale—four stories is a reasonable increase in density for this area—and I personally find the design to be creative and attractive. If this is going to be a battle of taste, put me down strongly in favor of the appearance; and if it’s going to be a debate about social merit, I’d argue that a moderate increase of density along a heavy traffic corridor like Shattuck is exactly what both Berkeley and the planet needs. 

Theo Posselt 



Editors, Daily Planet: 

I’m grateful to H. Scott Prosterman for clarifying that Mayor Tom Bates, Councilmembers Linda Maio and Max Anderson, Transportation Commissioners Marcy Greenhut and Eric McCaughrin and Eric Anderson, the city’s professional bicycle safety coordinator/ consultant, are part of the reason Berkeley doesn’t have a mandatory helmet law.  

It is so easy to cite statistics: 58 percent of Americans don’t wear helmets while cycling, 92 percent of riders killed while cycling in 2007 were not helmeted, etc. The medical and societal costs of these deaths and head injuries are in the billions.  

It is even easier for people to joke about being eager to rid the gene pool of the helmet-free riders one meets constantly riding to work and through town.  

But the best reason, the most selfless reason for wearing a helmet, is that you are influencing kids with your behavior. It is hard for kids to figure out what’s safe, what’s cool, and what weight to give vanity in a sometimes shallow world.  

If we abandon the legal obligation to wear a helmet at 16, or 18, as many laws allow, we give the impression that helmets are child’s attire, and that mature riders no longer need them. This is a deadly education.  

Helmet hair is cool. Walking into your office or the grocery store with sweat-smashed locks sailing every which way is sexy. Forget the spandex riding togs and the pricey cycling gear—the really attractive quality a bike rider can communicate is that he or she simply recognizes that our community’s children are priceless, and that anything, any simple $40 thing they can do to help keep them safe is worth it.  

Just as we’re slowing ridding our parks and public places of smoking, let’s rid our streets of the destructive message sent by riding without bike helmets by wearing them and being an inspiration to the community we love.  

Carol Denney 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I’ve been long intrigued by ads on TV and the printed media who demand “Ask your doctor!” I’ve never had the nerve to ask my doctor to use any of them, like Lepitor or Viagra or those pills for ladies who have osteoporosis, etc. 

But then it occurred to me that millions of Americans also don’t have the nerve to ask, because they don’t have a doctor.  

Robert Blau  




Editors, Daily Planet: 

A few of your readers write letters from the viewpoint that government is bad and government services should be opposed. One writer who frequently rails against Oakland’s mayor, not without good cause, states that Obama’s health reform would “unalterably abridge” our rights and freedoms. Perhaps he should consider a country with no government: Iraq. 

The Bush administration invaded Iraq and dissembled its social structure, resulting in neighborhoods being taken over by armed thugs who terrorized the population and executed anyone who “didn’t belong.” That’s what happens when there is no government.  

Health insurance companies are not run by thugs, but people needing health care have as little control over their policies and procedures as the neighborhoods of Iraq. Oh sure, you have the choice of taking your business from Blue Cross to Blue Shield, but their health plans and their constantly rising costs aren’t much different from each other. And if you have a “pre-existing condition,” forget about changing health insurance companies.  

What should we call anonymous bureaucrats who deny someone a medical procedure or a life-saving drug? Death panels” would be appropriate, and that’s what we have today, right now, with profit-making health insurance companies. Their profit depends upon denying claims. Approximately 18 percent of our health insurance premium money goes for the company’s administrative cost, of which nearly half are people employed to deny claims. Compare that with the two percent administrative cost of government-run Medicare. Oh, and don’t forget an additional 12 percent of our premium money goes to outrageous executive bonuses and corporate profits. It’s like a tax except we get no services for our money. 

Would government bureaucrats do a better job? They will do only as good as their employer requires of them. But, their main purpose will not be to squeeze profits by denying services; government’s primary purpose is to serve people. If they do it badly, they are answerable to our democratically-elected representatives who can fix the problems. Who can you turn to, to fix an insurance company problem? 

Americans pay nearly twice as much for health care as do citizens of the other industrialized democracies, yet our health statistics are far below theirs. Why? Because 30 percent of our costs go to profiteering. In our country, health care is privatized, so if you have money you get health services, if you don’t, you die. That is rationing; one of the crudest and cruelest forms of rationing.  

Let those who like their insurance company keep it, but let those who want a government alternative have the choice. It’s a matter of life and death. 

Bruce Joffe 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

“Some second-hand smoke, as I puff?” 

“Oh, no—I’d prefer chewing snuff. 

Either one makes me ill. 

I would run from a pill, 

And your first-hand exhaust is enough.” 

Ove Ofteness 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

To the whining complainer who wrote about people who smoke outdoors. Since you don’t consent to people “raping” and “molesting” your lungs and sinuses do you offer your consent to all the cars that fill your lungs and sinuses daily with tons more deadly carbon monoxide then a single person smoking a cigarette next to you? I myself am not a smoker but it drives me crazy all these people who constantly whine and complain about other people smoking outdoors or around them and how it affects their health while completely ignoring the fact that they are inhaling constant CO emissions from cars. 

Tell you what, if I put you in a windowless room with 100 smokers for one hour you will walk out of that room. Granted you will feel awful but you will be alive. Now if I put you in that same windowless room for one hour with a single running car. I can guarantee you will not leave that room alive. If you don’t want to be around people who smoke, it’s pretty easy to avoid them since smoking is banned in all those location that you wrote about. Granted people can still smoke walking down the street and that’s their right to do so, if the smoke bothers you just by having someone pass you while smoking then you have much bigger issues to deal with. 

Next time you want to complain about someone smoking a cigarette or marijuana around you just take a look at the sky above the Bay Bridge during rush hour. 

Kristy West 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Scott Prosterman made many important points about safety. I would like to underline the following in particular, and urge the mayor and city council to address all the issues he has raised. 

1. There should be more frequent and obvious marking of bike lanes on streets with heavy traffic like Oxford at rush hour. I almost killed my son by opening my car door there in front of him because I had not noticed the few and faded bike logos. Because there has been for good reason gradual expansion in bike lane creation, we should remind drivers in every possible way and mark more densely. 

2. There should certainly be a helmet law. 

3. Bicyclists are not, I think, required to have driver’s licenses, and we find some of them violating laws by riding the wrong way on one-way-streets, riding fast across stopped intersections, and riding on the sidewalk, creating hazards for pedestrians. Downtown Berkeley near the BART station has such bicyclists on the sidewalk frequently. For anyone walking who has trouble with balance, this is a danger. 

I am not sure what the solution should be. I have even seen cops on bikes fail to stop at pedestrian crossings. I confess I have been tempted to assault the sidewalk bike with my cane. 

Susan Tripp 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I just unsuccessfully contested a parking ticket, on the grounds that the metermaid(man) marked my tire so close to the pavement that one had to literally lie down on the street to see the mark.  

The fact that the city has never before marked tires like this did not faze Ann Miley, the hearing officer. Obviously, she was interested in funding her paycheck, without regard to civic fair play. 

This another low, underhanded City of Berkeley technique for extorting revenue. 

And yet, University ave. is being repaved. It had such Third World charm for so long, I thought it would forever be misrepaired at various times and places with the city’s standard practice of turning a pothole into a bump..... They’re all so conscientious, aren’t they?  

Eric Rhodes 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I was saddened to hear of the passing of Carl Wilson, and grateful for Linda Rosen’s thoughtful tribute to a great man. I was fortunate to have worked with Carl on the board of the Berkeley Historical Society when he was its president, and I knew him to be one of the most optimistic, good hearted men I have ever met. Our community has lost a wonderful spirit, and I am grateful to have known him. Thank you for recognizing his contributions to our community. 

George Rose 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

H. Scott Prosterman’s commentary in the Planet, Sept. 3, is a good starting point for a rational discussion of bike safety. Let’s consider it “Mobility Safety” to include consideration to pedestrians and, even, motor vehicle drivers.  

Mobility safety has several aspects: 

1. Enforce bicycle rules and regulations already on the books. Treat bicycle scofflaws as errant motor vehicle drivers are treated by ticketing, fining, and, when necessary, revoking their licenses. Too many bicyclists do not stop at stop signs red lights. Too often bicycle riders, without looking in either direction, blithely breeze right through stop signs and red lights in neighborhoods, commercial districts, and where BART bicycle paths cross streets. There is never a day when I do not see a bicyclist do something foolish—like today—when one sped from a sidewalk via a blind driveway directly in front of me without looking right or left in full violation of BMC 14.68.170. Then, without slowing, whizzed right through a nearby stop sign. 

2. Make pedestrian safety a priority. Bicycle riders can cause serious damage to pedestrians on crosswalks and, particularly, on sidewalks in commercial districts in violation of Berkeley Municipal Code 14.68.130. By and large this code is ignored. It is not fun to be plowed to the pavement by a bicyclist as I was some years ago in front of Radstons. Regardless of age, anyone hit by a bike can be maimed and debilitated for life.  

3. Add streetlights throughout the city, particularly in currently low-lighted, residential areas. Mr. Prosterman makes a good point—“improving lighting conditions in residential neighborhoods.” Too many streets in Berkeley are simply too dark for safe pedaling and walking. This safety issue affects bicyclists, vehicle drivers, and pedestrians. Darkness, often passed off as “charm” is, in fact, dangerous to life and limb. Yet the city claims that it doesn’t have the money to add lights. How many accidents is it going to take for the city to set protective priorities for its residents and visitors? 

4. Impose parking fees on bikes in the same way parking fees are imposed on vehicle parking. Mr. Prosterman asks for more bicycle racks at parking meters. He’s correct: bicycle racks are needed. I rail at paid parking whether meters or public garages. But, if the city imposes parking fees for motorists, it also should charge bike riders to use bicycle racks. Bicyclists save money otherwise spent for gas, automotive maintenance, and insurance; Parking fees for bicycles would help support bicycle regulation enforcement.  

Bicycles can cause bodily damage as motor vehicles can; it is reasonable to subject bicyclists to the same rules and regulations, fees and fines.  

Barbara Witte 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Already hopelessly addicted to chocolate, I now discover that I have a brand new addiction. This one is for coupons. Show me a coupon—any coupon—and I’m ecstatic! Now this would appear to be a relatively innocent obsession, wouldn’t you agree? Not so in my case. 

I should mention that, for obvious reasons, Sunday is my favorite day of the week—the day that the hefty San Francisco Chronicle is delivered to my front door. It weighs a ton, I might add. Newspaper under my arm, armed with scissors, I spread the paper out on the table in my breakfast room. Do I read the news, literary section and Datebook? Actually, no. I put those to one side for reading later in the day. What I go for are all those glossy inserts and advertisements. Not the Macy’s or J.C. Penney’s ads, but rather the ones for Walgreen’s, Long’s and RiteAid, in that order. Mind you, clipping out all those coupons is not an easy task, but it’s one I relish. By morning’s end I’ve cut out dozens and dozens of coupons, which will wind up stuffed in my wallet and on the floor of my car. 

This Sunday’s Walgreen’s advertisement was especially alluring. There were coupons for everything—coffee, peanut butter, paper towels, white tuna, Halloween candy, etc. Unfortunately there was no coupon for the Neckline Slimmer, priced at $19.99. I’ll have to think about that one. And I had strong reservations about the Boy/Girl Gender Prediction Test, marked down from $29.99 to $24.99. Really, now, isn’t Walgreen’s venturing into a biomedical ethics issue here? 

I noted in the Business Section of the Sunday paper that there are now electronic coupons arriving by cell phone, Twitter, and Facebook, enabling some shoppers to cut their monthly grocery bills from $500 to $300. Good for them, but I’ll happily settle for Walgreen’s advertisement. I’ll definitely use most of those coupons I cut out today. While I don’t really need more coffee, peanut butter and white tuna, how can I pass up such bargains? I simply won’t let those coupons go to waste! 

Dorothy Snodgrass 




Editors, Daily Planet:  

John Yoo spent the spring semester at Chapman Law School in Orange, Ca. His public debate with the faculty is online at tinyurl.com/YooAtChapman. He can be heard to say, at 57:40, that the president’s highest constitutional duty is to protect the country from attack; overlooking the duty to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution. There was one arrest of a demonstrator for trespassing, with a summary acquittal on First Amendment grounds. Lucky that some people remember the Constitution.  

Martin Gugino 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

When the Board of AC Transit decided to buy Van Hool Belgian-built buses, did they consider the fact that they were helping to pull down NUMMI, an important part of the Bay Area econmy? 

Albert Scott 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

In response to the article about the Berkeley school district not offering in-house clinics for swine flu, I disagree with the decision, because, as a graduate of Berkeley High, I remember students using the health center as a major resource in their helth care. As a former student, I believe students will go to the health center and use the services. In addition, students do not take the time to go elsewhere for medical attention. This in-house clinic for the swine flu shot will increase the number of young children and young adutls who get immunized. 

The article states that the target groups for the vaccinations are “children aged six months to young adults up to the age of 24; staff in K-12 schools and child care centers; pregnant women; and anyone taking care of babies.” In order to stop this flu, everybody needs to get the vaccination leaving no one left behind. How are we going to get through this, if we are just focusing on people paying for it, and where they can get it? Everybody needs to be vaccinated whether they have money or not. It should be given in schools, because that is where it is going to hit the hardest. 

The article also states that students should get the vaccines from their own health care provider. I feel that people who cannot afford the cost of medical attention should be able to get the vaccination for free. Some students and their parents are unable to afford the rising cost for health care coverage. I believe the swine flu is very serious and every school, health clinic and hospital should carry the vaccines for easy access. Money, or no money, lives are important. 

Angelia Spikes 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

I am a physician living in the East Bay. Last year I became eligible for Medicare and signed up for both part A and B. My insurance premiums were cut in half, I no longer have to pay a co-pay, and there are no out of network doctors. As a self-employed physician I was paying close to $10,000 a year for my family coverage. My wife, not yet 65, is now paying $7,000 per year for her individual coverage. 

I have the same freedom of choice I had with my extravagantly expensive private policy, which by the way went up every two years by 6-8 percent. I have no problem seeing any doctor I want in any institution I choose for my care. I feel an extraordinary sense of relief to have this fantastic coverage that I can afford. I cannot tell you how important this is to my especially now that I am approaching retirement age. 

The plans before congress that my friends and I have paid careful attention to, do not in any way curtail the current excellent benefits of Medicare and in fact look to make good and positive changes in the administration of care that will make services even more easily accessible. 

Ray G. Poggi, M.D. 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Any hope for bipartisan support of real healthcare reform is illusory. The Democratic congress must act boldly on single-payer healthcare reform, or at minimum, a strong public option. For me and most of my colleagues, a strong public option is a deal-breaker, and the basis for re-election support for both the president and democratic congressmembers. 

James E Vann 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

For too long too many Americans have been without health care and this has caused unnecessary suffering for families and loss to the economy. 

I support the current plan the Obama administration is proposing. It will strengthen Medicare by cutting down on paperwork, emphasize wellness and prevention and reward doctors for the care they provide instead of how many procedures they do. 

It is an embarrasment and a shame that our country, as rich as it is, does not protect the welfare of its citizens with a national plan for health coverage. 

Robert Warwick

Of Birthers, Baggers and Butchery

By Marc Sapir
Thursday September 10, 2009 - 11:58:00 AM

Around town I saw this bumper sticker on a hulking SUV: “Bring Back Capitalism.” Next to it was another bumper sticker: “Pro-life.” And a third: “Go Cal.” I know a lot of self-proclaimed “socialists” in Berkeley who, from the vantage of the not-very-perceptive owner of this energy sink, should be dancing in the streets And yet most of them see themselves falling into a ring of fire, going “down, down, down, and the flames go higher,” as Johnny Cash wrote.  

Not surprisingly, most people don’t call unemployment and the decimation of public service functions of government “Socialism.” Though these contradictory perceptions of the world may seem absurd to us, those bumper stickers represent such a deep socio-economic and political schism as to predict a coming huge civil conflict—perhaps like our Civil War—fueled and financed by major sectors of Capitalism. Goldman-Sachs may like Obama, but it has just as much to gain by fueling this conflict as Rupert Murdock, for its apparatus, like the health insurance industry, serves no useful social function except to steal from the rest to enhance the rich.  

There are an unlimited number of well paid intellectual prostitutes in the United States who have used historical fact and fiction to conjure the idea that Right and Left ideologies are essentially similar—if not exactly identical; that both lead to little more than irrationality, excesses and brutality. Most commonly we are treated to statistics of how many people Hitler, Stalin and Mao wiped from the face of the map, all in one breath. The equation works to make a point, but what that point is often escapes revelation—you should be cynical, passive and not believe that a better, more egalitarian world, is possible. The result, as my 40-year-old-physician niece has often told me is, “but I’m not political.” Politics assumes the status of something so alien, other and criminally filthy that staying a world away seems rational. Unfortunately, this places the actor a world apart from reality and the necessities and vicissitudes of human discourse and behavior. Only the nasty people who like the thrill of power, and true believers, participate.  

As they say, figures don’t lie, but liars know how to figure. Those liars, most with advanced degrees from prestigious universities, have figured out the art of social manipulation very well, and they have had the resources to “actualize” their best (if socially destructive) practices throughout the world—selling things, selling ideas, selling souls. You see, those who will do anyone’s bidding for a price, or for glory, for posterity, do not see themselves as warriors, nor do they claim that their role is to empower the anti-democratic tendencies that give birth to fascist ideas and behaviors. They just operate in the world of “realpolitik” and PR and marketing, and they do not ever pull triggers or fire missiles from drones. That’s for worker bees.  

The rather obvious and fundamental differences between ideas that come from what we call the “Left” and the “Right” is that the former tend to believe in the human capacity to create rational societies that treat all people equally, societies in which public functions exist and are enhanced to enable human capacity, validate human worth and creativity, and serve social needs. Right ideology tends to be founded upon principles of Social Darwinism—humans are fundamentally atavistic and individuals survive because of their individual resonance with nature in their drive for dominance and control. This isn’t seen as negative, but as the very font of creativity, which can be used as the engine of society if left largely unfettered. The fruits will trickle down. In point of fact, Rousseau—revolutionary thinker though he was—seemed to believe in both of these views of human nature and culture simultaneously. In Emile he argued against contamination of human nature by social forces, but I don’t think he believed that humans were inherently bent upon dominance. And he certainly didn’t approve of the dominance that class society had foisted upon the rest.  

Be that as it may, the way that people see the world determines what they will do, how they will act. And those who see a moribund self-destructive Capitalist system trying to prop itself up at the expense of our very humanity are likely to behave quite differently from those who see a left- wing conspiracy and and an “African” in the White House as the cause of the catastrophes we were left with after the last 8 years (or perhaps the last 28 years) of U.S. declination.  

The Center (be that conception liberal or conservative or neither) cannot hold under current conditions in the world. Within Capitalism, simple pragmatic solutions to problems cannot be had to reverse the expanding catastrophes that are bittering our discourse and our lives. I would not even predict if we might solve these immense problems effectively should we rapidly overcome Capitalist domination, but it would be a starting point. From Katrina to Palestine to Iraq and Afghanistan nothing is being pulled back, reversed or solved, while real unemployment in the United States is currently at 16 percent and will move inexorably higher. The global warming crisis—and the ecologic crisis in general—cannot be addressed by societies within a system so rift by internal contradictions that the Right (defenders of the golden age of Capitalism) would like to kill off all change agents or defenders of equal rights for all. If we wait like good Germans (claiming we’re not the political type and we hate that genre) or even believe that there is some hope if we do our duty to vote and send our e-mails, we will walk ourselves into an end game.  

The poet wrote: “this is the way the world ends, not with a bang but a whimper.” Who knows? Right or wrong, before that, expect never-ending war, famine, disease, as if the determinists and apocalyptics are right. As if there really is no such thing as human free will, except in the most grotesque understanding of that term, as in Dr. Strangelove.   

The hulking SUV in Berkeley is an energy sink on wheels and a simulacrum. Made of steel, drinking oil, it steals not only the natural resources of our earth, but, like Hal in 2001: A Space Oddysey, it dominates its owner. How does one rebel against such human nearsightedness and self-containment? There are many difficult choices in life, but one of these, in particular, is overarching presently: shall we rebel against wealth and private property accumulation and a Capitalist state/government whose primary role is to enforce class divisions and diminish democracy, or shall we destine our descendents to live in Hell?  



For the month of September, Berkeley physician Marc Sapir joins a cross country van tour for Single Payer health care organized by a group of Oregon doctors (www.madashelldoctors.com). They’ll rally in 26 cities and end at Lafayette Park across from the White House on September 30. 

KPFA:  Let’s Get Real

By Sasha Futran
Thursday September 10, 2009 - 11:58:00 AM

Brian Edwards-Tiekert, a reporter at KPFA, the board treasurer and power on the Concerned Listeners faction, says there is a failure of transparency at KPFA. I don’t agree. What he is doing is adequately transparent.   

Edwards-Tiekert is still going strong with his line that money seemed about to be taken from the KPFA bank account by Pacifica, that the business manager—brand spanking new in that position, by the way—got just such an impression from our bank, and those in charge at Pacifica didn’t respond to his two e-mails asking for information immediately. What’s a treasurer to do? Tell the board? Nah, tell the world that KPFA is being robbed.  

What Edwards-Tiekert doesn’t bother to say is that there might be valid reasons why he didn’t get a prompt response to his e-mails. That the two people involved were out of town and he has spent years playing nasty political games with them might be grounds for their not hopping right to it. His not getting a speedy reply, he says, validates his irresponsibly running to the media with a story that would stop any rational person from giving money to KPFA.   

While the presses were rolling printing Edward-Tiekert’s larders being raided story, several board members were meeting with Edwards-Tiekert and the new business manager to review the budget. Not so much as a whisper to us that Pacifica was emptying our coffers. Of course not; we all knew that is not the case. The public didn’t. So there it was the next morning as front page news.   

Since then there have been many commentaries back and forth in these pages. The end result is that confusion reigns, as I’ve since learned when talking to some longtime progressives and KPFA donors. Since these same people are about to elect a new KPFA board, such confusion is dangerous to the station.  

Here is what is really happening. Pacifica is not taking any money from KPFA. The station does, however, have budget woes. The economy has turned sour and donations are down. We’ve been running a $300,000 budget deficit known since the beginning of our fiscal year that ends this month. The powers that hold sway over the station and board, Concerned Listeners, have been running things for the last three years. Pacifica had ordered them to make budget cuts and they didn’t.  

Pacifica is doing better financially. WBAI, our sister station in New York that has been negatively affecting the network’s finances, has had fund drives this year that did far better than the year before. The national office, board and WBAI are in new hands as of 2009 and those who were in power for the prior three years, Concerned Listeners and their allies, are history on the national level. Reports are that staff morale at WBAI is on the upswing.   

You’re probably wondering what might have triggered the urge to send misinformation loose in the progressive world. Edwards-Tiekert also doesn’t bother mentioning that enough staff members no longer want him as one of their representatives on the board that there is a recall election in the works to remove him from that position. The KPFA board has several seats that are elected by the staff from their ranks. The staff’s desire to get rid of him predates the story he keeps putting out in the media that is damaging to KPFA, so a white knight galloping to the rescue image might be useful.   

Here’s another educated guess. Not only is Edwards-Tierkert subject to a recall election, it is board election season and member ballots will arrive any day. (I am a member of KPFA’s board, and in the interest of full disclosure, running for reelection.) His group, Concerned Listeners, have been the majority faction on the board for three years. They have little to entice in terms of candidates this year. Their slate offers up 70 percent white males over the age of 60. They have already provided the board with two aging brothers as well as a husband, wife, and one of their former employees. Look closely and you realize that their slate is loaded with retired bureaucrats. It’s an outdated notion and one that reeks of the typical corporate board of directors.   

They are up against a dynamic young team, Independents for Community Radio. We’ve got 20- and 30-year-olds, and 70 percent are female and people of color. There are a couple of older media and KPFA hands thrown in for experience and continuity.   

This is all likely election fun and games on the part of Edwards-Tiekert and Concerned Listerners, but it comes at a critical juncture for KPFA. Not only are we running a budget deficit and losing both donors and listeners, we need to move into the modern online world and do a better job of providing radio that appeals to a younger audience as well as the diverse community in which we all live. We need to draw on the voices and expertise so readily available in our marvelous Bay Area in a more inclusive sweep and not limit ourselves to a small and aging world of political and radio cronyism.   

There is also a fair degree of general unrest and dissatisfaction with KPFA management since the Unpaid Staff Organization was ‘derecognized’ two year’s ago and one of their members hurt while arrested at the station a year ago for no good reason. Roughly 70 percent of all the programs KPFA airs are produced and hosted by UPSO members. They need to be fearless in pursuing new program ideas, not nervously looking over their shoulders. They need to be treated with respect. Speaking plainly, we need a new board majority that will allow what has been forbidden for three years: Serious and respectful discussion of the problems we face and space for exploring creative new solutions. Whether a board or staff member is a power force shouldn’t matter if they have ideas to offer. The audience is shrinking and we’re running out of time.  

KPFA has a mission to provide news, views, voices and expertise not available elsewhere in the media and reflective of our whole community. We could do so much better at it and we may not get another chance.   


Sasha Futran is a radio and print journalist, winner of Project Censored most censored story of the year award, former minority member of the KQED board who stopped the Robert Mondavi infomercial from being produced. 

Terrorizing Civilians in Afghanistan

By Kenneth J. Theisen
Thursday September 10, 2009 - 11:58:00 AM

In May of this year, the Obama administration fired General David McKiernan as the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan. In announcing the decision, Defense Secretary Robert Gates stated he was seeking “fresh thinking” and “fresh eyes” on Afghanistan. McKiernan was replaced by General Stanley McChrystal. His selection marked the continued ascendancy of officers who have advocated the use of counterinsurgency tactics in Iraq and Afghanistan. General David Petraeus, the head of Central Command, was another such officer. He implemented COIN strategy in Iraq. Petraeus is McChrystal’s commander. Gates praised McChrystal for his “unique skill set in counterinsurgency.  

When McChrystal took command of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, he claimed his implementation of counter-insurgency (COIN) warfare there would protect the Afghan population. His version of war would help win the “hearts and minds of the people” just as it did in Vietnam. This new emphasis on COIN strategy was supposed to turn around the downward spiral of the Afghan war. In theory, it was also suppose to limit Afghan civilian casualties.  

But we have recently seen the newest U.S. strategy in practice in that war ravaged country. On Monday, September 7th the Swedish Committee for Afghanistan claimed that troops of the U.S. Army’s 10th Mountain Division invaded the charity’s hospital in Wardak province on the night of September 2nd.  

Anders Fange, the charity’s country director, asserted that American troops stormed through the hospital, broke down doors, and tied up four security guards and two hospital visitors. He also said the U.S. military forcibly removed patients from their beds during their search and barged into the women’s wards. Fange claimed that such actions as entering rooms where women are in bed is a serious insult under Muslim culture.  

Fange further stated that the raid was a violation of an agreement between NATO forces and aid organizations that worked in Wardak province. He said, “This is a clear violation of internationally recognized rules and principles. If the international military forces are not respecting the sanctity of health facilities, then there is no reason for the Taliban to do it either. Then these clinics and hospitals would become military targets.”  

Lt. Commander Christine Sidenstricker, a U.S. military spokeswoman, confirmed that the hospital was searched. She also said, “We are investigating, and we take allegations like this seriously. Complaints like this are rare.” But abuses and even deaths of the Afghan population at the hands of the U.S. and its allies are far from rare. On Friday September 4th, a NATO air strike by U.S. jets killed many Afghan civilians.  

The independent human rights group, Afghan Rights Monitor reported that its visit of the attack site indicated the strike killed as many as 70 local villagers along the Kunduz River. In the past, other such U.S. air attacks have killed large numbers of civilians at wedding parties and a funeral. Almost any large gathering in Afghanistan can suddenly be attacked. This is how the U.S. really implements its COIN strategy.  

The “heart and minds strategy” will continue to kill innocent Afghans as the U.S., under Commander-in-Chief Obama, continues to escalate the war. In a short time we can expect thousands of so-called U.S. support troops in Afghanistan to be replaced by more combat troops, or “trigger pullers” as one U.S. officer referred to them in his support of the move. McChyrstal is also very likely to request additional troops from his commander-in-chief within a few weeks as well. He laid the political groundwork for this further escalation with his recent review of Afghan operations. That review was given to Obama last week. When Obama receives the request for additional troops, it is very likely he will grant it. He has already sent thousands of additional troops to Afghanistan.  

One reason that Obama is likely to approve an additional troop request is that the “successful” implementation of COIN strategy requires the introduction of many more U.S. troops into Afghanistan. COIN strategy is troop intensive as is indicated by the Army’s new COIN manual, written in large part by General David Petraeus. To quote the manual: “No predetermined, fixed ratio of friendly troops to enemy combatants ensures success in COIN. The conditions of the operational environment and the approaches insurgents use vary too widely. A better force requirement gauge is troop density, the ratio of security forces (including the host nation’s military and police forces as well as foreign counterinsurgents) to inhabitants. Most density recommendations fall within a range of 20 to 25 counterinsurgents for every 1000 residents in an AO. Twenty counterinsurgents per 1000 residents is often considered the minimum troop density required for effective COIN operations; however as with any fixed ratio, such calculations remain very dependent upon the situation.”  

In 2003 the U.N estimated the Afghan population at nearly 24 million. At 20 troops per 1000 Afghan residents that would require 480,000 allied troops to meet the minimum density recommendation of the COIN manual. At 25 troops it would take 600,000 troops. Obviously to reach these numbers would require a massive troop escalation.  

Just like in Vietnam the rhetoric may claim the U.S. is “winning hearts and minds, but the reality is that the U.S. war of terror is killing and terrorizing people from Iraq, to Afghanistan, to Pakistan. In Vietnam 2-3 million Vietnamese died. Already there have been a million Iraqi deaths as a result of the 2003 U.S. invasion. Thousands more have died in Afghanistan since the October 2001 invasion. When do we say enough? What will you do to stop the U.S. wars? To see what you can do, please go to worldcantwait.org.  


Kenneth J. Theisen is an Oakland resident and a steering committee member of World Can’t Wait which is trying to mobilize people to end the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Please Don’t Destroy Bus Route 51

By John English
Thursday September 10, 2009 - 11:57:00 AM

AC Transit staff’s proposal to trash the vital 51 bus line is appallingly wrongheaded. 

   The 51 is now AC Transit’s very busiest line. Serving multiple places and purposes, it’s also the most useful. And linking as it does so many of the East Bay’s most vibrant urban scenes, it’s the most interesting line to ride: for locals and visitors alike, a handy resource for transit-enabled sight-seeing. 

   An obvious key to all of that is the 51 line’s great length, which lets passengers go anywhere along it without the inconvenience—and deterrent to ridership—of needing to transfer. 

   Thus for instance, the 51 now importantly links many of the densest sections of Berkeley, Oakland, and Alameda directly with Kaiser’s medical facilities around the Broadway/MacArthur intersection. As another example, people from all those areas can ride the 51 right down to the Berkeley Amtrak station. The 51 directly connects UC’s campus with those of the California College of the Arts and the College of Alameda. And it seamlessly links much of Berkeley, Oakland, and Alameda with a rich diversity of commercial areas, including Berkeley’s Arts District, upper Telegraph, and the Elmwood; Oakland’s Rockridge, Uptown, Old Oakland, and Chinatown; and Alameda’s Park Street, to the mutual benefit of restaurants, theaters, and shops along the bus line. 

   But those important linkages are seriously threatened by AC Transit staff’s proposal to chop the 51 route into two separate lines. One of them would run from Berkeley Amtrak only as far as the Rockridge BART station. The other one would go from Rockridge BART through Downtown Oakland and Alameda, plus a short extension to the Fruitvale BART 

station. And along both these replacement lines, service frequency would be less than what the 51 now provides. 

   The results would be especially harmful for Berkeleyans, and for Berkeley’s Southside and Elmwood districts. 

   While I realize that AC Transit needs to reduce its large fiscal deficit in general, I don’t see how dismembering and downgrading its busiest and most popular bus line could particularly serve that goal. 

   If it’s truly essential to break the 51 into two separate lines, the severing should be done somewhere in Downtown Oakland instead of at Rockridge BART. But even that would be undesirable, leaving Alameda out in the cold. 

   Though the 51 line does have problems, such as slow speed along College Avenue during the evening peak hour, these can be addressed through relatively modest measures like signal preemption or perhaps eliminating some stops. AC Transit should enhance the 51, not destroy it. 


John English is a Berkeley resident and Route 51 patron.

Emeryville City Council Favors Influential Developer

By Reem Assil
Thursday September 10, 2009 - 11:55:00 AM

Scores of residents, hotel and construction workers, local artists and small business owners rallied in front of Emeryville City Hall Tuesday evening to protest the preferential treatment of D.C.-based developer Madison Marquette. The Council took a four to one vote to approve a “sweetheart deal” with Madison Marquette, the fifth consecutive extension of an exclusive agreement to develop shopping complex Bay Street Site B. Among the speakers at the public hearing was Maha Ibrahim, Field Representative for State Assemblymember Nancy Skinner in whose district the Bay Street project is located.  

“I support collaboration between all parties as they work to ensure that the character of Emeryville’s development reflects the interests of the residents and workers who are the backbone of its success,” Assemblymember Skinner said in a written statement.  

In a surprising twist, Merlin Edwards, a member of Federal Oakland Associates, which recently competed for the Oakland Army Base redevelopment bid, spoke at the meeting. Edwards said he was offering no opinion on the exclusive agreement with Madison Marquette, but “simply [wished] to offer an alternative.” Federal was one of the two top contenders for redeveloping the massive former Oakland Army Base, a high-profile process in which his company proposed a retail and hotel project for the site; the project would have included connections to local training programs to put residents to work. 

“The City council majority, and a handful of developers have had a run of the city for years, and we want it back,” said Tracy Schroth, seven year resident of Emeryville and member of Residents United for a Livable Emeryville (RULE)—one of the organizers of the rally.  

Madison Marquette received the extension from the City even as they insisted they had “no plan” on the table for the Bay Street project, saying previous plans submitted for Site B have been since abandoned. The developer representative, Anna Shimko, was asked repeatedly why they have shunned requests to meet with community and yet were still meeting with tenants and operators including hotel operators. Shimko responded that meeting with the community “would not be fruitful at this time.” City councilmembers repeatedly told Madison Marquette that they expect the corporation to work with the community and address community concerns. “I’ve been told by residents that you won’t meet with them,” an exasperated City Councilmember John Fricke said to Madison Marquette’s legal representative at the council meeting. Underscoring the need for community input, he continued, “If you don’t have community support, you won’t have a project.” Fricke was the lone vote against the extension of the Exclusive Right to Negotiate, the special agreement the City of Emeryville has extended to Madison Marquette for 5 years in a row.   

“These issues need to be worked out before tenants and operators are chosen,” said Wei-Ling Huber, President of UNITE-HERE! Local 2850. “What if the operator chosen is Sam Hardage?” Hardage, owner of the Woodfin Suites Hotel, is in a protracted legal battle with the City over wage theft of hotel housekeepers in Emeryville amounting to nearly $200,000.  

Community members, under the banner of the “Coalition for a Better Bay Street,” has vowed to continue to push for a more inclusive and livable Bay Street project that provides family-supporting jobs for residents, affordable housing, and vital neighborhood services such as a stronger education system and more local-serving businesses. The Coalition wants to work directly with the developer to reach a formal agreement that will benefit all parties.  



Reem Assil is Community Benefits Organizer for East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy, 1814 Franklin St., Suite 325, Oakland.

Response to ‘Bike Safety as Political Fodder’

By Andrew Ritchie
Thursday September 10, 2009 - 11:57:00 AM

Prosterman’s piece is an odd mixture of sense and nonsense. As someone who has ridden a bicycle for 51 years now, in the UK, Europe and the United States, and also run a one-year Bicycle Safety Program for the City of Berkeley in the late 1970s, I sympathize with some of his points, but I contest others. In the end, I find his attitude and the details of his arguments provocative but not very useful, practical or accurate. 

There are adequate laws on the books to protect cyclists. More cyclist education would be a good thing, especially in the schools. I cling to the belief that 99.99 percent of car drivers do not want to be involved in an accident with a cyclist, and my everyday observations tell me that the vast majority of cyclists on the road are their own worst enemies, rather than the victims of other road users. So what’s the problem with Prosterman’s arguments? 

1. Prosterman’s compulsion to mandate helmet use is one peculiarity of his position. Another layer of bureaucracy would be imposed, whereas statistics from Australia and Holland suggest that cycling declines when helmets become compulsory. We want more people to ride, not fewer. Better to spend the money to teach cyclists how to ride their bikes in traffic than make them wear helmets as an alleged solution to “protect” them. It should be my choice to wear a helmet if I need its reassurance. One of the beauties of cycling is that you can just do it! 

It is not necessary to see cycling as inherently dangerous. Everything we do can be seen as accident-prone. Based on accidents per miles ridden, being a cyclist is not much more dangerous than being a pedestrian. Intelligent pedestrians tend not to get hit by cars. The same is true of cyclists. The more experienced cyclists there are—using the roads intelligently—the safer the roads become. In a typical bicycle accident, you may break your shoulder or your arm, but there is actually only a miniscule likelihood of you dying or suffering a major head trauma from an accident. Serious collisions with motor vehicles, or even self-cyclist crashes can hurt you in any number of different ways, not just head injuries. My point is that the obsession with helmets as a panacea for safety distorts the realities. 

2. As a cyclist in Berkeley, I have never had any problem whatsover with navigating the mini-roundabouts. I don’t understand Prosterman’s beef. You simply fall into the line of traffic and ride through the intersection as you do at any roundabout. Nobody needs to push anyone anywhere. And the mini-roundabouts are cyclist-friendly—they slow down motor vehicles. 

3. Now about “dooring”! Yes, cyclists can get doored if they are not alert, and don’t know how to ride on the road. But a skillful, experienced cyclist knows how to avoid being “doored” and is always ready and waiting for it. It is deeply ingrained in experienced cyclists—a kind of sixth sense—always to be aware of the cars on their right, and to listen for whatever is coming up behind them so they can be out far enough into their lane, signalling his intentions if necessary, to avoid the possible opened door. I’m willing to take a bet that a large majority of doorings occur to inexperienced cyclists or cyclists who are just not paying attention to the parked traffic on their right-hand side. Once again—take responsibility for your own actions—don’t wait for someone else not to do something wrong. They never will not do it! 

So....solutions?....conclusions? As a cyclist, you have to take full responsibility for your actions on the road. You have rights, but you also have responsibilities. Obey the rules of the road and learn to ride confidently, skillfully and with consideration for others. Behave predictably. Make your intentions clear at all times by signalling and positioning yourself correctly on the road. Wear bright clothing; have lights on your bike at night—the new generation of l.e.d.’s are fantastic! Wear a helmet if it makes you feel better. 

Don’t get stuck with the cyclist inferiority complex, (thank you, John Forrester). Your safety as a cyclist—and how other road users view you and behave towards you—depends heavily on your own behavior, not on what more bureaucrats think they can do for you, or tell you to do. Prosterman thinks he can impose better behavior on everybody by legislating it. But he can’t, and—except for the occasional citation—they (city, police, courts) can’t either. It’s up to you—the cyclist on the road, to take your safety into your own hands.  

I think I understand why, perhaps, Prosterman complains that he has difficulties ingratiating himself with City of Berkeley personnel, and why they resist him. He’s one of those people who thinks society has got to be shaped according to his own version of good, and that only his ideas are the right ideas. Idealist, yes, ok—but just a little bit too fanatical in his own egotism. 

The roads are ours as well as theirs. Cyclists were there first, before the motor car was even invented. Bicycles were born into the horse and buggy age in the 1880s. Our responsibility is to co-exist politely and in a disciplined way with those who came later. We all drive cars, too. Be nice to the other people on the roads in their cars, be expert and be visible, and you will be amazed how most of them will show you consideration in return! Of course, we know there are exceptions! They’re the ones you have to worry most about. Many drivers are even jealous of our style and our freedom! 



Andrew Ritchie has been a cyclist since 1958 and is an El Cerrito resident.


Dispatches From the Edge: German Thunder; Brazilian Muscle; Sign Wars

By Conn Hallinan
Thursday September 10, 2009 - 12:05:00 PM

Germany’s upcoming national elections were supposed to be less of a competition than a coronation for Prime Minister Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU). But rising unemployment, the country’s worst economic crisis in 50 years, the erosion of the social safety net and the Afghan War combined to punish the right and give the newly minted Left Party a huge boost. 

The “Linke” is a merger of left social democrats, trade unionists, peace activists and the Party of Democratic Socialism based in eastern Germany. The Left Party programs calls for strict regulation of business and finance, a guaranteed minimum wage and maximum working hours. In Berlin, the Party’s slogan was “Tax the Rich,” a demand to raise the top income tax to 53 percent for those earning over $93,000 per year. 

The biggest win for the Left was in the Saarland, a state sandwiched between France and Luxembourg, which gave the new party 21.5 percent of the vote. The CDU emerged the winner with 31 percent, but their total was a 13 percent drop since the 2005 election. The center-left Social Democratic Party (SDP) took 24.5 percent. 

To remain in power the CDU will have to go into a coalition with the Party’s current national partners, the SDP, or a preferred alliance with the pro-business Free Democratic Party (FDP). But a CDU-FDP front will need the three Green Party representatives to pull it off, a so-called “Jamaican Coalition,” so named for the colors of the three parties: green, CDU black and FDP yellow. 

An obvious alternative would be the Greens, the Left Party and the SDP, or a red-red-green coalition. On the other hand, the Greens may choose to forget their once leftist roots and join with the CDU as it did in Hamburg. 

The CDU took a beating in the eastern German state of Thuringia, where it dropped 13 percent to 31.3 percent. The Left party came in second with 27.6 percent.  

As in the Saarland, the CDU and the FDP don’t have enough seats to govern, although both could form a coalition with the SPD or the Greens. Again, the obvious partnership would be a red-red-green alliance, but there is tension among the Greens, the SDP and the Left Party. 

In Saxony, the Left Party paid the price for internal divisions. While it emerged as the number two party at 21 percent, the CDU took 40 percent of the vote. The FDP was third, the SDP fourth. The far right took a bath. Saxony will likely be run by a black-yellow coalition. 

The refusal of the SDP to unite with the Left Party nationwide may come back to haunt it. “The SDP says it will cooperate with the Left in states but not nationally,” says political scientist Frank Decker. “They might have a perfectly good reason for that, but it is still hard for voters to understand that logic.” 

According to political scientist Karl Rudolf-Korte of Duisburg-Essen University, the SDP will eventually have to ally with the Left Party if it has any hope of returning to power, and the time seems ripe. He points out that when a red-red alliance was suggested last year in Hesse it caused a national uproar, but there has been nothing similar about the Saarland and Thuringia situation. “Evidently, no one’s afraid of ‘red-red’ anymore,” he says. 

What the recent voting showed is that the upcoming federal elections may not be a slam-dunk for Merkel and the CDU. The Left Party’s focus on unemployment, social welfare and their strong opposition to the unpopular war in Afghanistan has clearly resonated with voters. 

“This is an important day in the history of the left,” said Left Party parliamentary leader Gregor Gysi. Left Party leader Dietman Bartsch added, “Today, we’re one of the three biggest [parties].” Linke members gathered all over Germany to sing the Queen song, “We are the champions.” 

Tune in Sept. 28. 


Brazil is flexing its muscles in international trade, muscles fueled by an oil and gas bonanza that promises to change north-south power relations in the 21st century. 

For the past seven years Brazil has chafed at the $3 billion in U.S. subsidies handed out to American cotton farmers, subsidies that undercut Brazilian trade and violate World Trade Organization (WTO) rules. In 2005 the WTO ruled that the subsidies did indeed distort the international price of cotton and contravened trade agreements. 

For more than three years Brazil has tried to negotiate the issue with Washington, reluctant to pick a fight with its number one trading partner. But this past March China became Brazil’s and Latin America’s number one trading partner, and suddenly north-south chemistry changed. 

In late August, Brazil announced it would retaliate for the subsidies by allowing Brazilian pharmaceutical companies to break U.S. patents and produce cheaper generic drugs. The move will not only shake up the Americans, it will result in reasonably priced medicines for Brazilians. 

Brazilian exports to China jumped 65 percent in 2008, reaching $5.6 billion. Both countries just negotiated a $800 million credit loan between Brazil’s National Bank for Social Development and China’s Development Bank. The latter also agreed to loan $10 billion to Brazil’s state-owned oil company, Petrobras. In return, China got an agreement from Brazil to supply 200,000 barrels of oil a day. 

The $10 billion will go toward developing the huge “pre-salt” oil fields, an enormous off-shore find estimated to be as large as the North Sea oil discovery. Brazil currently has about 12 billion barrels in reserves. The new discovery could boost that to between 60 to 100 billion barrels, matching Venezuela’s massive Orinoco Basin reserves.  

Extracting the oil will be a daunting task, however, because the fields are more than 100 miles at sea and at depths of up to 20,000 feet. Once developed, Brazil will join Venezuela as a major gas and oil exporter. 

Lula da Silva’s government is developing plans to make sure the benefits go to the average Brazilian, not to the international energy cartels. Rather than handing out concessions to huge multinationals, like ExxonMobil, ConocoPhilips, Royal Dutch Shell, BP, Spain’s Reposal, Portugal’s Galp, and Total Eni, da Silva has put four bills before the Brazilian congress, one of which will create a “shared production” relationship with foreign oil companies. 

The bills would also form a fully state-owned oil company, Petrosal. The government controls Petrobras, but the latter is a publicly traded company. Petrobras would also be strengthened with $50 billion in new capital. 

Most importantly, the government plans to set up a fund to direct revenues into social spending, including poverty relief, education and infrastructure. The da Silva government has already raised the national income by handing out small cash payments to the poor, which has done a great deal to close what was formally the hemisphere’s widest wealth divide. The “pre-salt” fields would allow an enormous expansion of that program.  

The off-shore fields are one reason Brazil is unhappy about Washington’s reactivation of its Latin American Fourth Fleet. The Brazilian Navy recently carried out Operation Aderex, which simulated a defense of the country’s off-shore energy resources. 

“Now, with 85 percent of the oil being taken from the ocean, protection of the continental shelf requires a greater presence of the navy,” said the commander of the Brazilian fleet, Vice-Admiral Fernando Eduardo Studart Wiemer. 

Brazil currently has five submarines, is purchasing another seven, and will eventually go nuclear. “It is essential to develop the nuclear sub,” Wiemer said, “We already know how to build a sub, and we are developing a nuclear reactor.” 


Sign wars are breaking out all over Jerusalem. “On a recent night in this ethnically divided city, an Israeli and two American Jews patrolled the streets, armed with a ladder, adhesive spray and a pile of handwritten placards,” writes Daniel Estrin in The Forward. “Every few minutes they hopped out of the car, slapped a sticker onto a road sign and snapped a picture.” 

On the placards are street names in Arabic script. The original Arabic had been defaced by ultra-nationalists. “In Jerusalem you have lots of nationalists who do not accept the very existence of Arabs,” Sammy Smooha, an Israeli sociologist at the University of Haifa, told The Forward. “Arabic signs gave them the feeling of bi-nationalism, that the Jews have no exclusive monopoly on the town.” 

In 1999, an Israeli court ruled that street signs in mixed cities had to be in Hebrew, English and Arabic. 

The ultra-nationalist vandals have little to fear from the police, who turn a blind eye to their activities. “The police are not working against this phenomenon. People are not deterred because there is no accountability,” says Abber Baker, a lawyer for the Arab rights group, Adalah. 

The idea for countering right-wing graffiti came from Ilana Sichel, a New Israeli Fund Fellow. She recruited another Fellow, Josh Berer, who studied traditional Arabic calligraphy in Yemen. Calling themselves “The Maintenance Group,” they drive around repairing signs where the Arabic has been blacked out. 

“This is fundamentally an issue of decency and neighborliness,” Sichel told The Forward.  

The cost of the project comes from the Maintenance Group’s pockets. If you want to make a donation to the New Israel Fund, send a check to the organization’s Washington office at 1101 14th Street, Sixth Floor, Washington DC, 20005, or to New Israel Fund, P.O. Box 53410, Jerusalem 91534. You can also go to the organization’s website and donate on-line. 

This is the kind of graffiti you can get behind.

UnderCurrents: Waking Up People Who Are Not Actually Asleep

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Thursday September 10, 2009 - 12:05:00 PM

Some years ago, in my South Carolina days, I was part of a delegation that met with an old-line civil rights leader in an attempt to get him to join us in a more militant campaign. The leader—a Baptist minister—seemed somewhat befuddled by the initial presentation, and so, midway through the meeting, I weighed in with what I believed were my formidable talents for bringing clarity to an issue. The more I clarified, however, the more confused the old man got, until, finally, the meeting dissolved in frustration, without his having committed either to support or to oppose what we proposed. 

On our way out to the cars, I was venting my frustration to a friend of mine—a native Southerner—and he turned to me with a small smile and said, “You know, you can’t wake up someone who ain’t asleep.” 

It was one of those pithy, insightful sayings that make the South such a delightful region to live in. The point of it, of course, was that, when faced with someone deliberately feigning misunderstanding, no amount of clarity will clarify. 

Thus our conservative Republican friends and President Barack Obama. 

What caught my eye this week was a David Neiwert posting on the Crooks and Liars website debunking an assertion by our old Fox News friend, Glenn Beck. In a video posted with the story, taken from a late August show, in which a line of African-American teenage men in black T-shirts and army fatigue pants step up in turn and chant “because of Obama, I aspire to be the next lawyer” or “because of Obama, I aspire to be the next doctor.” Mr. Beck described the youth as “a very militant-looking group.” The clip was played immediately after one with black-bereted and black-leather-jacketed members of the Black Panther Party (presumably the new version). 

Anyone with 15 minutes of insight into African-American culture had to be hooting when they saw the clip of the fatigue-clad youth and heard Mr. Beck’s assertion, of course, knowing what these young men were representing. But for those to whom African-Americans are still somewhat of an exoticism, Mr. Neiwert explained in Tuesday’s posting: the youth in the original YouTube video from which the Beck clip was taken are members of the Urban Community Leadership Academy in Kansas City, Missouri, who are emulating not the gun-waving of militant Panthers but, rather, the step-dancing of typical African-American college fraternities. 

“The young kids … are emulating a historically black fraternity that is found on college campuses throughout the nation,” Mr. Neiwert quotes the original YouTube video text as explaining. “Young men in this fraternity DO go on to become teachers, doctors, lawyers, architects and engineers.”  

(Niewert, by the way, credits Huffington Post’s Matt Osborne for doing the legwork that uncovered the original leadership academy video.)  

The Neiwert posting and the Osborne reporting and column shows the proper way to respond to these types of attacks. Good research, patient explaining to those who might have some confusion, an answering of the charges, and then moving on. Debunking false assertions, it might be called. There is no attempt to convince the attackers. 

The futility of such attempts at convincing is made manifest by reviewing one of the comments to the original posting of the entire Urban Community Leadership Academy video. The video starts with the young men marching into the room chanting “Alpha, Omega.” One would naturally surmise that, ummmm, this refers to the Hellenic names common to college fraternities and sororities, both black and white (for the uninitiated in black culture, or fraternity-sorority culture, Psi Phi Omega and Alpha Phi Alpha are two of the oldest, largest, and most famous of the African-American college fraternities). In any event the one commenter, self-named “islamsucksallah,” had other ideas. “ ‘Alpha Omega’? Say what?” the commentator writes. “Only Christ is Alpha and Omega. Who does this Obama cunt think he is? And what’s with the ‘O’ yell at the end when these little turds jump back in line? They must have got rammed up the ass by Hussein Obama’s islamic cock.” 

There is really nothing appropriate to directly answer such assertions other than, what the Cincinnati Bengals’ Chad Ochocinco might say, that is, “child, please!” (There’s another, richer version of that saying that I can’t repeat in a mixed-race or, more appropriately, non-black newspaper forum.) Anyways, too many of our friends on the left make the attempt at rebuttal that leads to attempts to convince and win over those who are being rebutted. 

That seemed to be the case when some of our conservative friends appeared practicing what appears to be deliberate dumbness this week in the case of Mr. Obama’s address to the nation’s schoolchildren. 

In the case of the schoolchildren speech, conservatives leveled their criticism that Mr. Obama’s national address intended to be broadcast directly to students in American classrooms was an attempt to “indoctrinate” the nation’s youth into what they were calling the president’s “socialist agenda.” The clamor over it got so loud that some parents began opting their children out of the exercise, in some cases keeping their children home on the day of the president’s address so that they would not have to be “subjected” to it. 

Progressives, liberals, and other presidential supporters on the left responded—in some cases—by pointing out that a presidential address to the nation’s schoolchildren was hardly a new event. The same was done by Presidents Ronald Reagan and at least one of the Bushes. 

In a Sept. 8 posting to Scienceblogs.com called “Reagan’s Speech to School Kids,” journalist Ed Brayton pointed out the hypocrisy in conservative attacks on the Obama speech. Posting the text of a 1986 Regan speech to American schoolchildren, Mr. Brayton wrote that “I suggest putting your irony meters away before you read this. Unlike the bland pep talk Obama is giving, Reagan actually did exactly what the fantasists of the lunatic right have been claiming Obama was going to do, pushing specific policies and lauding how great his administration had been for the country. ... I want to see just one of these lunatics throwing a fit about Obama’s speech admit that their hero Reagan did exactly what they’ve falsely accused Obama of doing. But I’m not holding my breath until it happens. They are as immune to intellectual honesty as it is possible to be.” 

My problem with Mr. Brayton’s argument is the point where he says that he wants to “see just one of these lunatics throwing a fit about Obama’s speech admit that their hero Reagan did exactly what they’ve falsely accused Obama of doing.” While one might simply excuse that as rhetoric—and I don’t know Mr. Brayton or his writing well enough to know if that’s the case—this sort of formation turns up again and again in political discussions in the post-Clinton years. First is the need to, over and over again, point out hypocrisy and the practice of your-side, my-side situational ethics on the right. At some point, just like we did on the earth circling the sun and other general theorems, we ought to accept this as a truism, and move on. The second is an almost plaintive need not just to point out the hypocrisy of our conservative cousins, but to have them admit it. And when one or two do, there is a round of chortling and hand-slapping on the left, as if somehow firmament and fact were only made manifest by a conservative word confirming it. 

This type of argument puts the center of the moral compass of the country squarely on the right-hand side of the equation. Implicitly, it justifies actions on the left by stating that the same actions were once done by the right as if somehow that alone makes such actions, um, right. 

This is the type of argument that little children make. It’s OK to do because Daddy once did it. 

Ultimately, attempting to justify actions to those who are not seeking justice simply do not work. Faced with cogent argument that their reasoning is wrong, they either shift the terms of the debate or blithely move on to another subject without acknowledging error. If the point is to make them admit wrongdoing, it almost never happens. 

When Mr. Obama’s office released—in advance—a transcript of his speech to the children showing no sign of indoctrination in left-wing ideology, at least one critic alleged that the “original speech” had been trashed in the face of conservative criticism. 

“Clearly last week there was a plan with the Department of Education,” Florida Republican Chairperson Jim Greer told CNN a day before the president’s speech. “When you ask students to write a letter to the president on how we can help you with your new ideas, Mr. President, that is leading the students in an effort to push the president’s agenda. Now that the White House got their hand in the cookie jar caught, they changed everything, they redid the lesson plans, they released the text, and tomorrow he’s gonna give a speech that every president should have an opportunity to give.” 

The point of this barrage of attacks on Mr. Obama is not to foster debate or even to advance an ideological position. It is simply to batter the president as Katrina once battered the Louisiana-Mississippi coast, mindlessly, relentlessly, pushing at every perceived weak point, until the levees fail and the water surges in and washes all away. This is Great Flood politics by those who sincerely believe themselves the sons and daughters of Noah, and who think that somehow America will be cleansed and blessed by the deluge they release. There is a biblical passage that seems to fit such thinking: “For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind”—and if I were a Sunday School scholar I could point to the book and chapter (Hosea 8:7), but I’m not, so I won’t. 

Instead, I’ll recall another of my favorite Southern sayings that seems more appropriate: “You can’t win at mud-wrestling with a pig. You’ll only get dirty, and, regardless of the outcome, the pig always loves it.” 

And a final note to our homeboy, Van Jones, coming back battered and wounded from the Washington wars. Perhaps, upon reflection, Mr. Jones might want to amend the apology that did nothing to save his job with the Obama administration. “On further review,” his statement to the press might read, “I believe I was correct in the beginning, and some Republicans are assholes.” 

I guarantee, that would wake up some of our good friends on the right. 

Wild Neighbors: Dead Skunks and Others: Looking at Roadkill for Science

By Joe Eaton
Thursday September 10, 2009 - 12:16:00 PM

It had to happen. Some enterprising folks at UC Davis have launched the California Roadkill Observation System (CROS), an interactive database whose users can report deceased wildlife they observe while driving. You can either submit your sightings online (wildlifecrossing.ucdavis.edu) or download and mail in a printed form, indicating species if identifiable, location, type of road, and speed limit.  

Although there are a couple of data points from 2007 and 2008, the observations really began to accumulate in mid-July of this year. They tend to cluster around Davis, with a few from more outlying areas. So far it’s about what you’d expect for summer, heavy on the raccoons, skunks, jackrabbits, and coyotes. Barn owls, which have an unfortunate tendency to fly in front of passing vehicles, are the most common avian victims. Reptiles are sparsely represented by a kingsnake, a rattlesnake and a racer. 

The CROS site also features a map with individual death spots color-coded for large, medium, and small mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians. For the truly hard core, there’s a photo gallery. 

I think this is a fine idea. Those so inclined have a new way to entertain themselves on those long road trips, and an opportunity to contribute to science in the bargain. (Just for starters, most of the data on barn owl vehicular collisions comes from Europe.) 

But as a longtime observer, I can anticipate some challenges the system may encounter, beyond the common situation where’s there’s just not enough left for a definitive ID. 

A dead animal out of context may be hard to recognize. Once, while in Little Rock on family business, I passed a defunct roadside beaver half a dozen times before it occurred to me that it was not just an exceptionally ugly dog.  

Then there’s the faux-roadkill problem. The late great Florida herpetologist Archie Carr, who was primarily a turtle man but had a keen eye for snakes, described in his classic The Windward Road how it takes practice to identify a snake species from a moving car “when a layman is still insisting it was a twist of orange peel you passed, or a dead cat.” 

I’ve heard about the tourist driving through Redwood National Park who pulled in at the visitor’s center and, visibly shaken, cornered a ranger. “The highway is full of dead Irish setters!” he blurted out. The ranger had to explain about the strips of redwood bark that fall off log trucks. 

Likewise, a visitor to Hawai’i—I don’t remember which island—was puzzled by the small, furry, flattened creatures she saw all over the back roads. They didn’t quite look like mongooses, but she couldn’t imagine what else they might be. Someone finally apprised her of the local custom of eating mangoes in the car and tossing the pits out the window. 

As data accumulates, it will be interesting to look for seasonal trends. For example, do striped skunk road deaths really increase during the late winter mating season, when the animals are fatally preoccupied?  

And why not take the project national? Is anyone in Texas keeping track of their state mammal? Maverick politician Jim Hightower once proclaimed that there was nothing in the middle of the road but yellow stripes and dead armadillos. These odd but endearing creatures are prone to leap straight up when startled, not the best thing to do with a vehicle bearing down. Texas A & M students have been known to prop them up at the side of the road with Lone Star bottles in their paws. 

The South proper would also be rich in data. In my day, Southerners considered it a point of pride to run over any reptile they could manage to: snakes, of course, but also unoffending turtles. If that has changed, it may only be because they’ve exhausted the supply of reptiles. Carr again, in the Handbook of Turtles: “There exists a curious lot of witless or psychopathic characters who love to run over box turtles on the roads to hear them pop, and there is probably nothing much that can be done about these people except to hope they skid.” 

In all fairness, though, I’ve seen a presumed Californian stop after crushing a Mojave rattlesnake, get out of his car, and shoot the snake, out of concern that it might somehow levitate into the vehicle with his children. 

I don’t keep a list, but there are some critters, like the aforementioned armadillos, badgers, and weasels, that I’ve seen far more often as roadkill than alive. On the other hand, some are seldom if ever observed among the dead. I’m not just thinking about Bigfoot. Have you ever noticed a road-killed crow, raven, or vulture? It must take good reflexes to be a successful highway scavenger.

Arts & Events

Arts Calendar

Thursday September 10, 2009 - 11:47:00 AM



Poetry Flash Anthology reading for “Beyond Forgetting: Poetry and Prose about Alzheimer’s Disease” with contributors at 7:30 p.m. at Moe’s Books, 2476 Telegraph Ave. 525-5476. 

Sophia Raday “Love in Condition Yellow” the story of a Berkeley peace activist and an Oakland police officer in the Army Reserve at 7:30 p.m. at Pegasus Books Downtown, 2349 Shattuck Ave. 649-1320. 

Story Hour in the Library with Daniel Handler, aka Lemony Snicket, at 5 p.m. in the Morrison Library, 101 Doe Library, UC campus. 642-3671. http://storyhour.berkeley.edu 

M.J. Ryan will discuss her latest book “AdaptAbility: How to survive change you didn’t ask for” at 7 p.m. at El Cerrito Library, 6510 Stockton Ave., El Cerrito. 526-7512. 

Nami Mun, reads from “Miles From Nowhere” at 7:30 pm at Books Inc., 1344 Park St., Alameda. 


Adam Bowers Band at 9:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $13-$15. 525-5054.  

Berkeley Old-Time Music Convention with Alice Gerrard, the Till Boys, Eric & Suzy Thompson at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage, 2020 Addison. Cost is $18.50-$19.50. 548-1761.  

Rogerio Botter-Maio Group featuring Harvey Wainapel at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $10. 841-JAZZ. www.AnnasJazzIsland.com 

Twilight Hotel and Sweet Talk Radio at 9 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $7. 841-2082.  

Mojo Stew at 10 p.m. at Beckett’s Irish Pub, 2271 Shattuck Ave. 647-1790.  

Country Joe McDonald’s Open Mic with Hali Hammer and Lisa Graciano at 7 p.m. at BFUU, 1924 Cedar at Bonita. www.bfuu.org 



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

Berkeley Rep “American Idiot” at 2025 Addison St., through Nov. 1. Tickets are $32-$86. www.berkeleyrep.org 

Central Works “Machiavelli’s The Prince” Thurs.-Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 5 p.m. at Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant Ave., through Sept. 19. Tickets are $14-$25. www.centralworks.org 

Galatean Players Ensemble Theatre “Rivets” A musical based on Rosie the Riveter and Richmond’s Kaiser Shipyards, Fri. and Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 3 p.m. on board the SS Red Oak Victory, 1337 Canal Blvd., Berth 6A, Richmond, through Sept. 27. Tickets are $15-$20. Rosies, WW2 Veterans and uniformed soldiers, free. 925-676-5705. galateanplayers.com 

Impact Theatre “See How We Are” A contemporary adaptation of “Antigone.” Thurs.-Sat. at 8 p.m. at La Val’s Subterranean, 1834 Euclid Ave., through Oct. 17. Tickets are $12-$20. impacttheatre.com 

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 

Shotgun Players “This World In A Woman’s Hands” The story of the WWII Victory warships and the African-American women who built them, with live acoustic bass by Marcus Shelby. Thurs.-Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 5 p.m. at The Ashby Stage. 1901 Ashby Ave. Tickets are $18-$25. 841-6500. www.shotgunplayers.org 

Woodminster Summer Musicals “Brigadoon” at 8 p.m. at Woodminster Amphitheater in Joaquin Miller Park, 3300 Joachin Miller Rd., Oakland, through Sept. 13. Tickets are $25-$40. 531-9597.  


“Divergence” ACCI Gallery’s annual abstract exhibition featuring the work of nine Bay Area painters: Susan Adame, Cathy Coe, Mary DePaolo, Patricia Kelly, Susan Putnam, Jane Reynolds, Mitchel Rubin, and Bob and Leslie Carabas. Opening reception at 6 p.m. at 1652 Shattuck Ave. 843-2527. www.accigallery.com 

“Read This Digit” Group show of digital prints on paper and canvas. Opening reception at 6 p.m. at K Gallery, Rhythmix Cultural Works, 2513 Blanding Ave., Alameda. www.rhythmix.org 

“Triple Threat” Solo shows of works by Patch Wright, Renee Castro, Sandra Hart. Opening reception at 7 p.m. at Autobody Fine Art, 1517 Park St., Alameda. 865-2608. www.autobodyfineart.com 

“Until the Violence Stops” a documentary about violence against women in conjunction with the exhibition “In Memorium” at 7:30 p.m. at Frank Bette Center for the Arts, 1601 Paru St., Alameda. 523-6957. 


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


“American Surveillance” A lecture by photographer Richard Gordon on the legacy of the 9/11 attacks at 7 p.m. at the Center for Photography, 105 Northgate Hall, School of Journalism, UC campus.  

Don Brennan and Avotcja will read their poetry at 7 p.m. at Nefeli Caffe, 1854 Euclid Ave.  

Mike Miller reads from “A Community Organizer’s Tale: People and Power in San Francisco” at 7:30 p.m. at Mrs. Dalloways, 2904 College Ave. 704-8222. 


Mo Rockin’ Project, world music, at noon at the Kaiser Center Roof Garden, on top of the parking garage, 300 Lakeside Drive, Oakland. Free. www. 


Point Richmond Summer Concert with Whogas, funk, rock, reggae, at 5:30 p.m. and Richie Barron, blues, at 6:45 p.m. at Park Place at Washington Ave. in downtown Point Richmond. www.pointrichmond.com 

Sentimiento y Compás, flamenco, at 8:30 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $12-$15. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

Amendola vs Blades, organ and drums, at 8 p.m. at the Jazzschool. Cost is $15. 845-5373. www.jazzschool.com 

Audrey Shimkas & Her Quartet at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $15. 841-JAZZ. www.AnnasJazzIsland.com 

Tito Gonzalez y su Nuevo Proyecto at 9:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $10-$15. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

Berkeley Old-Time Music Convention with Benton Flippen, Paul Brown, Terri McMurray and John Schwab at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage, 2020 Addison. Cost is $18.50-$19.50. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 

Jazz Mojo at 8 p.m. the Art House Gallery and Cultural Center, 2905 Shattuck Ave. Donation $5-$10. 

Yard Sale, The Happy Clams, The Low Rollers at 9 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $10. 841-2082. www.starryploughpub.com 

Justin Anchetta at 10 p.m. at Beckett’s Irish Pub, 2271 Shattuck Ave. 647-1790. www.beckettsirishpub.com 

The Works at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 843-8277. 



Dorina Lazo Gilmore introduces her picture book for children “Cora Cooks Pancit” at 3 p.m. at Eastwind Books of Berkeley, 2066 University Ave. 548-2350. www.asiabookcenter.com 

“Roti Rolled Away” with author Anjana Utarid at 1 p.m. at The Museum of Children’s Art, 538 9th St. Oakland. Free. 465-8770. www.mocha.org 

Babes in Toyland Puppet Show at 11 a.m. and 2 and 4 p.m. at at Children’s Fairyland, 699 Bellevue Ave., Oakland. 296-4433. activeartsttheatre.org 


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

Alameda Civic Light Opera “Hair” Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 2 p.m. at Kofman Theater, 2200 Central Ave., Alameda, through Sept. 27. Tickets are $30-$34. 864-2256. www.aclo.com 

“Live Oak Laughs” Standup Comedy Show with Joe Klocek, Evert Villasenor, Marcella Arguello and Reggie Steele at 8 p.m. at Live Oak Community Center, 1301 Shattuck Ave. Cost is $8. 981-6707. 


Berkeley Camera Club Group Photography Show. Reception at 2 p.m. at The LightRoom, 2263 Fifth St. 649-8111. www.lightroom.com 

“Lines” color photographs by Nicole Gim. Reception for the artist at 6 p.m. at Photolab, 2235 Fifth St. Exhibition runs to Sept. 26. 644-1400. www.photolaboratory.com 

“This Long Road” work by Derek Weisberg, Crystal Morey, and Ben Belknap. Opening reception at 6 p.m. at The Compound Gallery, 6604 San Pablo Ave., Oakland. Exhibition runs to Oct. 11. 655-9019. thecompoundgallery.com 

“It’s Gonna Be Awesome” new work by Narangkar Glover. Opening reception at 6 p.m. at Blankspace, 6608 San Pablo Ave., Oakland. Exhibiton runs to Oct. 11. 547-6608. www.blankspacegallery.com 

“Stephen De Staebler, The Sculptor’s Way” Opening reception at 4:30 p.m. at the Richmond Art Center, 2540 Bartlett Ave., Richmond. 620-6772. www.therac.org 


Contemporary British Verse with poets Julia Bird, Roddy Lumsden and Hannah Sullivan, reception at 7 p.m., reading at 8 p.m. at Jered’s Pottery, 2720 San Pablo Ave. 845-4370. 

Kathy Walkup discusses artists’ books at 4 p.m. at Mrs. Dalloways, 2904 College Ave. 704-8222. 


Berkeley Farmers’ Market String Band Contest with twenty old-time string bands competing from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Civic Center Park. 548-3333. 

Music on the Main from 1 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the corner of Macdonald Ave. and Marina Way, next to the Richmond BART station. www.richmondmainstreet.org 

Jonathan Sandberg and Emma Gavenda in a benefit concert for Albany School Music Programs at 7:30 p.m. at St. Clement’s Episcopal Church in Palache Hall, 2837 Claremont Blvd. Tickets are $25-$50 sliding scale. brownpapertickets.com. 

Giacomo Fiore Solo guitar music of Britten, Ohana, Takemitsu, Tippet and others, at 8 p.m. at Trinity Chapel, 2320 Dana St. Tickets are $8-$12. 549-3864.  

Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra “Apotheosis of the Dance” works by Hayden and Beethoven with Steven Isserlis, cello, at 8 p.m. at First Congregational Church, 2345 Channing Way. Tickets are $30-$75. 415-252-1288, ext. 305. 

“Reach Out and Bring Happiness!” The Oakland-East Bay Gay Men’s Chorus 10th Anniversary Celebration concert, presenting choral highlights from the past ten years with Stephanie Lynne Smith and the Lesbian Gay Chorus of San Francisco, at 7:30 p.m. at First Congregational Church of Alameda, 1912 Central Ave., Alameda. Tickets are $12-$20. 800-706-2389. oebgmc.org 

Kolectivo 9/11 with Chilean artists living in the US, at 8 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $5. 849-2568.  

Ray Obiedo & Mambo Caribe! at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $14. 841-JAZZ.  

Benton Flippen & The Mostly Mountain Boys at 8 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Introduction to clogging at 7 p.m. Cost is $15, $5 for children ages 5 and up.525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com  

Tom Paxton at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage, 2020 Addison. Cost is $22.50-$23.50. 548-1761.  

Backyard Tarzans at 7 p.m. at Chester’s Bay View Cafe, 1508 Walnut St. 849-9995. 

LT3 at 10 p.m. at Beckett’s Irish Pub, 2271 Shattuck Ave. 647-1790.  

Mancub, Caldecott, Ansel at 9:30 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $8. 841-2082.  

Pocket Trio at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 843-8277. 



Mt. Diablo String Band with caller Paul Silveria at Ashkenaz at 3 p.m. Cost is $4-$6. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 


PEN Oakland Writers Theatre “A Night of Short Plays” at 4 p.m. at West Oakland Senior Center, 1724 Adeline St., Oakland. 681-5652. 


“Light on Lake Merritt” Digital photography by Laura Sutta. Opening reception at 5 p.m. at L’Amyx Tea Bar,4179 Piedmont Ave., Oakland. 


Poetry Flash with Jenny Browne and Cheryl Dumesnil at 3 p.m. at Diesel, 5433 College Ave., Oakland. 525-5476. 

Opera Piccola Play Reading and open mic poetry at 4 p.m. at Opera Piccola Performing Arts, 2946 MacArthur Blvd., Oakland. Free, donations accepted. www.opera-piccola.org  

Charlie Haas reads from his novel “The Enthusiast” at 4 p.m. at Mrs. Dalloways, 2904 College Ave. 704-8222. 


“Nrityanjali” an Odissi dance performance with Guru Jyoti Rout and the artists of Jyoti Kala Mandir at 5 p.m. at Julia Morgan Theater, 2640 College Ave. Tickets $12-$18. www.jyotikalamandir.org 

Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra “Apotheosis of the Dance” works by Hayden and Beethoven with Steven Isserlis, cello, at 7:30 p.m. at First Congregational Church, 2345 Channing Way. Tickets are $30-$75. 415-252-1288, ext. 305. 

Rebecca Riots, Funky Nixons in a benefit for Tristan Anderson at 8 p.m. at La Peña. Cost is $5-$20. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

Anna Estrada & Her Trio at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $10. 841-JAZZ. www.AnnasJazzIsland.com 

Americana Unplugged: Old Time Cabaret from 3 to 7 p.m. at Jupiter. 843-8277. 

Nikila Badua aka Mama Wisdom at 5:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $8-$15. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

Blame Sally at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage, 2020 Addison. Cost is $20.50-$21.50. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 



“Power Trip - Theatrically Berkeley” at 7 p.m. at the Pacific Film Archive. For tickets and information see Powertripberkeley.com 


“The Ce go Series by Anthony Holdsworth” Photographs of a winery estate and biodynamic farm. Reception at 5:30 p.m. at Caffe 817, 817 Washington St., Oakland. Exhibit runs to Oct. 5. 271-7965.  


“The History of Botanical Art” wih artist Catherine Watters at 7:30 p.m. at the El Cerrito Art Assoc, El Cerrito Community Center, 7007 Moeser Lane at Asbury Ave. 

Karen Boutilier Kendall, author of “Berkeley to Beijing: The Journey of a Young Activist” reads at 7:30 p.m. at Pegasus Downtown, 2349 Shattuck Ave. 649-1320. 


Piston Horn Quartet at 5:30 p.m. at Pyramid Alehouse, 901 Gilman St. Tickets are $20-$25. Advance purchase recommended. 415-252-1288.  



Bob Blauner discusses “Resisting McCarthyism: To Sign or Not to Sign, California’s Loyalty Oath” at 5:30 p.m. at University Press Books, 2430 Bancroft Way. 548-0585. www.universitypressbooks.com 

Sarah Wilson, jazz musician and composer, in conversation with KPFA’s “Here and Now” radio host, Derk Richardson at 6:30 pm at Berkeley Public Library, 2090 Kittredge St. 981-6100. 


Jeffrey Broussard & the Creole Cowboys at 8:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cajun dance lesson at 8 p.m. Cost is $12. 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 



Cine Cubano Film Fest “De Cierta Manera” at 7:30 p.m. at La Peña. Cost is $7-$10. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 


Peter Dale Scott reads from his new book “Mosaic Orpheus” at 5:30 p.m. at University Press Books, 2430 Bancroft Way. 548-0585. www.universitypressbooks.com 

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 


Wednesday Noon Concert with University Symphony Orchestra at Hertz Hall, UC campus. Free. 642-4864. http://music.berkeley.edu 

Big Cheese & The Jive Rats at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $10. 841-JAZZ. www.AnnasJazzIsland.com 

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

Hip Bones at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 843-8277. 

Jim Nunally & Dix Bruce at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage, 2020 Addison. Cost is $18.50-$19.50. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 

Strange Angel Blues Band at 7 p.m. at Chester’s Bay View Cafe, 1508 Walnut St. 849-9995. 



“I’m A People Person” Images of seniors. Reception at 6 p.m. at Malonga Casquelourd Center for the Arts Annex, 1428 Alice St., off 14th St., Oakland. Exhibit runs through Oct. 22. 

“Metamorphosis” Paintings by Laila Espinoza at Albany Community Center, 1249 Marin Ave. Exhibition runs to Oct. 4. 524-2943. 

“Somewhere in Between” New works by Laura Borchet. Opening reception at 7 p.m. at Eclectix Gallery, 10082 San Pablo Ave., El Cerrito. Also “The Tattoon Show” tattoo and cartoon art. Exhibitions run to Oct. 4. www.eclectix.com 

“Isaura: A Life in Focus” Photographs on the Afro-Brazilian dancer, at Berkeley Pubic Library, 2090 Kittredge St. Exhibit runs to Sept. 30. 981-6240. 

“Up Against the Wall: Berkeley Posters from the 1960s” at the Berkeley Historical Society, Veterans Memorial Building, 1931 Center St. Exhibit runs to Sept. 26. 848-0181. 

“10,000 Steps” An exhibition of stewardship in and around Oakland’s historic downtown parks. Artists reception at 6 p.m. at Pro Arts, 150 Frank Ogawa Plaza, Oakland. Entrance on Kahn’s Alley. www.proartsgallery.org 

Robert Rickard, metal wall art, at Christensen Heller Gallery, 5829 College Ave., Oakland, through Nov. 1. 655-5952. www.christensenheller.com 


PEN Oakland Writers Theatre “A Night of Short Plays” at Thurs. and Fri. at 8 p.m. at Live Oak Theater, 1301 Shattuck Ave. at Berryman. Tickets are $7-$10 at the door. 681-5652. 


Rebecca Solnit “A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities That Arise in Disaster” at 7:30 p.m. at The Hillside Club, 2286 Cedar St. Tickets are $12-$15. www.brownpapertickets.com/event/77388 

Rachael Brownell reads from her memoir, “Mommy Doesn’t Drink Here Anymore” at 7:30 p.m. at Pegasus Downtown, 2349 Shattuck Ave. 649-1320. 

Patrick Radden Keefe reads from “The Snakehead: An Epic Tale of the Chinatown Underworld and the American Dream” at 7:30 p.m. at Mrs. Dalloways, 2904 College Ave. 704-8222. 


Laura Love & Harpers Ferry at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage, 2020 Addison. Cost is $18.50-$19.50. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 

Sylvia Cuenca’s Organ Trio, featuring Jared Gold at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $10. 841-JAZZ. www.AnnasJazzIsland.com 

Reggae Showcase at 9 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is TBA. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

7 Orange ABC, Sun Hop Fat at 9 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $7. 841-2082. www.starryploughpub.com 

Rico Pabon hip hop jam session at 8:30 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $5. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

The Attracted at 10 p.m. at Beckett’s Irish Pub, 2271 Shattuck Ave. 647-1790. www.beckettsirishpub.com 



Alameda Civic Light Opera “Hair” Fri. and Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 2 p.m. at Kofman Theater, 2200 Central Ave., Alameda, through Sept. 27. Tickets are $30-$34. 864-2256. www.aclo.com 

Altarena Playhouse “The Nerd” Fri. and Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 2 p.m. at Altarena Playhouse, 1409 High St., Alameda, through Oct. 25. Tickets are $17-$20. 523-1553. www.altarena.org 

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

Berkeley Rep “American Idiot” at 2025 Addison St., through Nov. 1. Tickets are $32-$86. www.berkeleyrep.org 

Central Works “Machiavelli’s The Prince” Thurs.-Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 5 p.m. at Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant Ave., through Sept. 19. Tickets are $14-$25. www.centralworks.org 

Contra Costa Civic Theatre “Harvey” Fri. and Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 2 p.m. through Oct. 11 at 951 Pomona Ave., El Cerrito. Tickets are $18, $11 for 16 and under. 524-9132. www.cct.org 

Galatean Players Ensemble Theatre “Rivets” A musical based on Rosie the Riveter and Richmond’s Kaiser Shipyards, Fri. and Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 3 p.m. on board the SS Red Oak Victory, 1337 Canal Blvd., Berth 6A, Richmond, through Sept. 27. Tickets are $15-$20. Rosies, WW2 Veterans and uniformed soldiers, free. 925-676-5705. galateanplayers.com 

Impact Theatre “See How We Are” A contemporary adaptation of “Antigone.” Thurs.-Sat. at 8 p.m. at La Val’s Subterranean, 1834 Euclid Ave., through Oct. 17. Tickets are $12-$20. impacttheatre.com 

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 

PEN Oakland Writers Theatre “A Night of Short Plays” at 8 p.m. at Live Oak Theater, 1301 Shattuck Ave. at Berryman. Tickets are $7-$10 at the door. 681-5652. 

Shotgun Players “This World In A Woman’s Hands” The story of the WWII Victory warships and the African-American women who built them, with live acoustic bass by Marcus Shelby. Thurs.-Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 5 p.m. at The Ashby Stage. 1901 Ashby Ave., through Oct. 18. Tickets are $18-$25. 841-6500. www.shotgunplayers.org 


Rumbache, salsa, 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 Disco with GTS Band at 8:30 p.m. at Jack London square. Dance exhibition and lessons at 7:30 p.m. www.lindendance.com 

Los Cojolites from Veracruz, Mexico, at 8 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $3-$15. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

SoVoSo at 8 p.m. at UTunes Coffee House, First Unitarian Church of Oakland, 685 14th St., Oakland. Cost is $14-$18, $5 for children 6-15. www.utunescoffeehouse.org 

ESP at 8 p.m. at the Jazzschool. Cost is $15. 845-5373. www.jazzschool.com 

Sandy Cressman Quartet “Sombra y Luz” at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $14. 841-JAZZ. www.AnnasJazzIsland.com 

Moonalice at 9:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $12-$15. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

Cheryl Wheeler with Kenny White at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage, 2020 Addison. Cost is $22.50-$23.50. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 

Mukti in Concert, featuring guest artists David Balakrishnan and Ben Leinbach, at 8 p.m. at Rudramandir, 830 Bancroft Way at 6th St. Tickets are $12-$15. 486-8700. www.muktimusic.net 

Full on Flyhead, Blackstone Heist, Armada at 9:30 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $8. 841-2082. www.starryploughpub.com 

The Icarus Jones Collective at 10 p.m. at Beckett’s Irish Pub, 2271 Shattuck Ave. 647-1790. www.beckettsirishpub.com 

Oggi Beat at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 843-8277. 



Active Arts Theatre “Strega Nona” Sat. and Sun. at various times at Julia Morgan Theater, 2640 College Ave, through Oct. 4. Tickets are $14-$18. 296-4433. activeartstheatre.org 

Babes in Toyland Puppet Show at 11 a.m. and 2 and 4 p.m. at at Children’s Fairyland, 699 Bellevue Ave., Oakland. 296-4433. activeartsttheatre.org 


Susan Dunlap reads from her mystery novel “Civil Twilight” at 6:30 p.m. at Nefeli Caffé, 1854 Euclid Ave. 841-6374. 

Patricia Edith reads her poetry from “8 Student Nurses & Other Dead Girls” in conjunction with the exhibition “In Memorium” at 7:30 p.m. at Frank Bette Center for the Arts, 1601 Paru St., Alameda. 523-6957. 


London Players, piano, clarinet, cello and voice at 7 p.m. at Crowden School, 1475 Rose St. TIckets are $10. 409-2416. 

Betsy Rose, Eve Decker, and Andrea Pritchett, music of peace and social justice, at 8 p.m. at Grace North Church, 2138 Cedar St. Tickets are $5-$20. 548-2153. 

Stairwell Sisters and Voco at 1 and 4 p.m. outdoors at Wisteria Ways, 383 61st St., Oakland. Bring something to sit on. Donations $15-$20. Reservations strongly recommended. info@WisteriaWays.org 

Rhythm & Muse spoken word/music open mic with Boundless Gratitude, at 7 p.m. at Berkeley Art Center, 1275 Walnut St., between Eunice and Rose. 644-6893.  

Araucaria, celebrate Chile’s Independence Day with traditional music at 8:30 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $12. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

Yancie Taylor Jazztet at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $14. 841-JAZZ. www.AnnasJazzIsland.com 

Motordude Zydeco at 9 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cajun/Zydeco dance lesson at 8 p.m. Cost is $10-$13. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com  

Pocket Trio at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 843-8277. 

Lost Cats at 7 p.m. at Chester’s Bay View Cafe, 1508 Walnut St. 849-9995. 

House Jacks, at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage, 2020 Addison. Cost is $20.50-$21.50. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 

Dahveed Behroozi Trio, American songbook standards, at 8 p.m. at the Jazzschool. Cost is $15. 845-5373. www.jazzschool.com 

Zarate Pollace Project at 9:30 p.m. at Albatross, 1822 San Pablo Ave. Cost is $3. 843-2473. www.albatrosspub.com 

Nine Wives at 10 p.m. at Beckett’s Irish Pub, 2271 Shattuck Ave. 647-1790. www.beckettsirishpub.com 

Borden Prince, Acacia Collective at 9:30 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $8. 841-2082. www.starryploughpub.com 



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


“This Long Road” Work by Derek Weisberg, Crystal Morey, and Ben Belknap. Afternoon Tea at 3 p.m. at The Compound Gallery, 6604 San Pablo Ave., Oakland. 655-9019. thecompoundgallery.com 

“It’s Gonna Be Awesome” New work by Narangkar Glover. Tea at 3 p.m. at Blankspace, 6608 San Pablo Ave., Oakland. 547-6608. www.blankspacegallery.com 


Festival of Grassroots Alternatives “Other Worlds Are Possible” Short films from around the world at 6 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $10-$12 sliding scale. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 


Katie Ann McCarty “The American Dream” organ recital at 4 p.m. at St. John’s Presbyterian Church, 2727 College Ave. Tickets are $10-$20. 684-7563. www.brownpapertickets.com 

“Traveler Unknown” with Dan Damon, piano, Kurt Ribak, bass, Lincoln Adler, saxophone, and Randy Odell, drums at 7 p.m. at United Methodist Church, 201 Martina St., Pt. Richmond. 236-0527. 

Jazz on the Vine featuring Pete Escovedo from noon to 5 p.m. at the Craneway Pavilion, 1414 Harbour Way South, Marina Bay District, Richmond. Tickets are $25-$40. 868-0619. www.richmondmainstreet.org  

Folkin Blues Festival with Mark O’Harps and others at 5 p.m. at Humanist Hall, 390 27th St., Oakland. Doantion $7-$10. www.humanisthall.net 

E.W. Wainwright Group at 7 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $12. 841-JAZZ. www.AnnasJazzIsland.com 

Americana Unplugged: Pete Madsen & Craig Ventresco at 5 p.m. at Jupiter. 843-8277. 

Mark Levine & the Latin Tinge at 4:30 p.m. at the Jazzschool. Cost is $15-$18. 845-5373. www.jazzschool.com 

Robbie Fulks at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage, 2020 Addison. Cost is $18.50-$19.50. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 

La Tigresa and the Tongues of Flame Jazz and spoken word at 8 p.m. at Art House Gallery, 2905 Shattuck Ave. Suggested donation $5-$10. 472-3170. 





Woodminster Summer Musicals Presents ‘Brigadoon’

By Ken Bullock Special to the Planet
Thursday September 10, 2009 - 11:52:00 AM

Many musicals have some fairytale or fantasy element. How many versions of Cinderella, by any other name, have been mounted on Broadway?  

Brigadoon, running through this coming Sunday at the glorious Woodminster Amphitheatre, is one of the few which sustains a little of the dreamlike sense of fairytale throughout the show, supported effortlessly by grace, humor and charm. 

It’s the tale of two American sports hunters out in the field in Scotland, who stumble on a strange, old-fashioned Highland village not on the maps, and get swept up in the customs of its hospitable yet pithy (Scottish, after all, if Broadway Scottish) populace, especially a wedding brought about by a mysterious “miracle,” contested by a malcontent suitor, threatening to quite literally void that miracle, upsetting the existence of the little place out of another time. 

There’s a certain amount of hocus-pocus, amicably explained by the humorous Mr. Lundie, the village schoolmaster expertly portrayed by Stu Kiltsner in his 23rd Woodminster show: the magic is predicated on faith, which as Mr. Lundie remarks, is just like love, which has everything to do with musicals.  

A very good cast has been assembled at Woodminster; the quality of performance is apparent from the start, from the lead players through the ensemble, which forms the chorus for the sprightly production numbers, choreographed by Jody Jaron, who danced at Woodminster in every production for a decade starting in 1968. It’s Jaron’s seventh show here as choreographer, her daughter distinguishing herself on stage in Brigadoon. 

The dances mix up a potpourri of Caledonian specialties—a sword dance, bits and pieces of stepdancing and swirling kilts—with more balletic form and Martha Graham- and Agnes de Mille-ish touches. A bagpiper skirls his way onstage, up from the 16-piece orchestra (conducted by Brandon Adams), for the tableau of a funeral that stops the spectacle of the wedding feast, when Meg Jaron, as Maggie Anderson, dances a solemn elegy to her unrequited love, Harry Beaton (Todd Schlader, dance captain, of the Schlader family who has produced musicals here since 1967, Joel Schlader directing this show.)  

Some of the performers will be familiar to Woodminster regulars, including Susan Himes Powers, veteran of more than a half dozen productions, singing and playing Fiona brightly; Scott Grinthal, in his 11th Woodminster production, a stalwart presence (ironically enough) as vacillating romantic interest; Tommy (his stepson figures in the ensemble); the jaunty, sweet-voiced bridegroom Michael Foreman as Charlie Dalrymple—and a splendidly comic Juliet Heller, a 42nd Street Moon vet, in her second season here as the ebullient, man-hungry Meg Brockie, enumerating to drowsy, guarded Yank Jeff Douglas (Robert Moorhead, a 35-year Woodminster player) the multitudinous faces that have appeared to her as “The Love of My Life.”  

The action moves easily from romantic—or comic—intimacy to spectacular festivities, even evoking a lonely song of love on a stone bridge—heard in a New York barroom. Patrick Toebe’s set, lit by Mike Barney, easily accomodates such scene shifting, its forests and glens below steep green slopes (reminiscent of the coast a few miles west, over Tamalpais or San Bruno Mountain) looming up behind the action onstage, with the real-life spectacle of the Bay Area lit up over the old WPA Amphitheatre’s rim, after daylight dies on the redwoods crowning “The Hights,” as Bohemian poet Joaquin Miller dubbed the site, heart of the park bearing his name.  

Early on in the show, when Meg sinks her hooks into dapper Mr. Douglas’ hunting jacket sleeve, village weaver Archie Beaton (another Woodminster multishow vet, David Flack) offers him—for sale, of course—a pair of plaid trousers, casually remarking that a jaunt with Miss Brockie might result in his own being rent—by a thistle, of course. 

Like its own practical haberdasher, Woodminster Summer Musicals, in its last show this season, delivers the goods with Lerner & Loewe’s 62 year-old hit—and not just woolens. 



7 p.m. Thursday and Sunday and at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Sept. 10–13 at Woodminster Amphitheatre, 3300 Joaquin Miller Rd., Oakland. $25-$40 (call for discount information for children and seniors). 531-9597. www.woodminster.com. 

Berkeley Old Time Music Convention

By Ken Bullock Special to the Planet
Thursday September 10, 2009 - 11:54:00 AM

The Berkeley Old Time Music Convention, dating back to the “35th Annual” Stringband Contest in Provo Park in 1968 and its lineal descendants, the 17th and 22nd Annuals the succeeding years, is underway through this weekend, featuring shows tonight and tomorrow night. 

The events include a free southern dance styles demonstration tomorrow at noon at the new downtown Freight and Salvage on Addison, a free panel discussion on Friday afternoon at the UC Berkeley Music Department, a family concert in the Main Library on Kittredge Saturday morning, and, in the afternoon, a string band contest and youth showcase at the Berkeley Farmers’ Market in Civic Center Park (the last two free). 

Saturday will feature a square dance night at Ashkenaz. And Sunday will bring music, clogging and square dance workshops at the JazzSchool in the morning, a family square dance in the afternoon at Ashkenaz, and a free Old Time Cabaret at Jupiter restaurant also in the afternoon, all ages welcome. 

The “early days,” 1968-70, were referred to as the Berkeley Old Time Fiddler’s Convention, as Rita Weil notes on the Folkways LP Berkeley Farms: “Conceived in the back of a Volkswagen bus, on the way to a party in Marin County, by a group of people who wanted to retain the good music and interplay they’d witnessed at Southern fiddle-banjo contests, without the competition and corruption extant there.”  

Beyond any edict on regional styles, Weil notes, “who could pinpoint one tradition for Berkeley?” 

With a loose-knit band of volunteers, the convention started off as an event “by the musical community, for the musical community and of the musical community.”  

With judges selected for their musicianship and a “sense of the absurd,” bribes were openly solicited and given, and prizes included three pounds of rutabagas as first prize—and five pounds as second. One prize went to a banjo player in Switzerland, “for the good taste to be 8,000 miles away.” An “instant” band, the Family Cow, 40 members strong, with a pregnant, bellydancing conductor, was disqualified on the grounds of illegal assembly. 

The early convention, a free event (the board of directors once quit, not knowing what to do with money contributed), was held in Provo Park, “bounded by the Police Dept., City Hall, Jail and Berkeley High School.”  

Weil concludes her notes, circa 1971, with a promise that the festivities will be renamed The First Annual Berkeley Old Time Fiddler’s Convention as soon as Mike Seeger (Pete Seeger’s half brother and founder of the New Lost City Ramblers) comes out west to it, “so he won’t feel as if he missed anything ...” 

Seeger, who played the convention both solo and with the New Lost City Ramblers several times, died on Aug. 7.  



• Freight and Salvage, 2020 Addison St., featuring Alice Gerrard, The Tallboys and Eric and Suzy Thompson, 8 p.m. Doors open at 7 p.m. with free jamming in the lobby beforehand ($15.50 advance, $16.50 at the door).  

• Rodney and Clay Sutton and Charmaine Slaven will demonstrate Southern dance styles noon to 1 p.m. at Freight and Salvage (free). 

• From 4:30 to 6 p.m., a free panel at 125 Morrison Hall (the Music Building on campus near Bancroft and College) will feature Alice Gerrard and Elizabeth La Prelle, with Professor Ben Brinner as moderator at 8 p.m. (doors open at 7 p.m. with a free jam), Benton Flipper and the Mostly Mountain Boys (Paul Brown, Terri McMurray and John Schwab), Elizabeth La Prelle, and the Knuckle Knockers at Freight and Salvage ($15.50/$16.50). 



• A kids’ and family concert, 10:15 to 11 a.m., in the third floor Community Meeting Room of the Main Library, 2090 Kittredge (off Shattuck), with Professor Banjo (aka Paul Silveria), free. 

• String band contest and youth showcase in the afternoon in Civic Center Park. 

• A square dance with Benton Flipper and the Mostly Mountain Boys, the Tallboys and the Black Crown String Band, with callers Rodney Sutton and Amy Hofer, and an introduction to clogging by Charmaine Slaven, at Ashkenaz, 1317 San Pablo Ave., 7:30 p.m. (doors open at 7). 



• Music workshop, including Alice Gerrard teaching fiddle Galax-style, clogging, and square dance calling with Rodney  

and Clay Sutton at the Jazz 

School, 2087 Addison, 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. 

• Old Time Cabaret at Jupiter, 2181 Shattuck Ave., 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. (lineup posted online 8 a.m. Sunday). 

• Family square dance ($4 kids, $6 adults) at Ashkenaz, 3 p.m., with caller Paul Silveria and the Mount. Diablo String Band: “all ages—including babes-in-arms—and same-sex partners welcome.” 


Berkeley Old Time Music Convention 


freightand salvage.org 


The Films of William Klein at Pacific Film Archive

By Justin DeFreitas
Thursday September 10, 2009 - 11:55:00 AM

American expatriate filmmaker William Klein’s work shows a wide and eclectic range. He started as a photographer before making his way into motion pictures, both fiction and nonfiction. 

Pacific Film Archive is presenting a retrospective of his work, “Top Bill: The Films of William Klein,” starting Friday and running through Oct. 11. 

Klein is perhaps best known in the mainstream film world for his documentary, Muhammad Ali, the Greatest (1974), which screens Friday night at 6:30 p.m., and for The Little Richard Story (1980), showing Sept. 24.  

But most of Klein’s work has been in a more avant-garde vein. His first fiction film, Who Are You, Polly Magoo? (1966), shows Saturday at 8:40 p.m. and follows the seemingly meteoric rise of a young Brooklyn-born model, an average freckle-faced girl who ascends to the top of the European fashion world. Klein had done time in that world as a fashion photographer, and here he turns his camera around to reveal a blistering portrait of a vacuous, image-obsessed culture. Polly is essentially what she has always been, a simple girl, youthful, callow and naive, but through the magic of makeup, wigs and a loving lens she is transformed into a goddess, an icon, a harbinger of a youth movement that she is only dimly aware of and that may not really exist anyway.  

Klein captures the phenomenon from all angles, from the media-created cultural movement that Polly is said to represent, to the political ramifications of that cultural shift, and the simpler, more primal level of love and sex and fantasy, as Polly is essentially reduced to a static, seamless sex object, a blank slate of penetrating gazes, parted lips and kinky costumes upon which men can project their seediest desires. 

Klein followed with more stinging satires, including Mr. Freedom (1969), showing Sept. 19, and The Model Couple (1977), screening Oct. 10.  


PEN Oakland Writers’ Group Stages Four Plays

By Ken Bullock Special to the Planet
Thursday September 10, 2009 - 11:48:00 AM

PEN Oakland, a chapter of the International Organization of Poets, Essayists and Novelists (PEN), will stage A Night of Short Plays at 4 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 13, at the West Oakland Senior Center, and at 8 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, Sept. 17 and 18, at Live Oak Theater in Berkeley. 

The plays include The Boy, the Girl and the Piece of Chocolate by poet and KPFA personality Jack Foley, directed by Lewis Campbell; Doug Howerton’s Firing Blanks at Moving Targets, about John Africa’s MOVE organization of the 1970s, directed by Michael Lange; The Remember Woman of Una, by Tennessee Reed; and The Trial of Christopher Columbus, by John Curl, directed by Kim McMillon. 

Kim McMillon of PEN Oakland commented on the production, the second part of PEN’s Playwrights series; the first, 4x4 Plays, was presented last March and reviewed in the Planet. 

“We have the Northern California Book Awards through PEN Oakland; with these two series, we’ve wanted to give local playwrights a chance, too. When Ishmael Reed and others set up PEN Oakland, it was to give voice to those not often heard, those marginalized, who represent a whole audience.” 

On the plays themselves, McMillon said, “Jack Foley’s play portrays a whole relationship in a battle over the last piece of chocolate! Is chocolate more important than love? Sometimes in my life it is! Do I stay home and eat a box of chocolates, or go out on a date, trying to find love? I know I’m going to be satisfied with the box of chocolates!” 

On Tennessee Reed’s play, McMillon talked about the fantasy of “a llama-shaped city.... Tennessee created the woman of Una, like in a stream of consciousness. Writers create mythological characters in our minds, with powers. It’s a magical part of herself—at least I think so!” 

John Howerton’s play about John Africa and his MOVE organization, which culminated in Philadelphia police firebombing the commune, burning down blocks of the African-American neighborhood, comes from Howerton’s own experiences in the earlier phases of MOVE, “before the crazy, crazy stuff started to happen. He left the group. John joined as a Vietnam veteran, searching for peace when he returned—and MOVE began as a consciousness-building organization, believing in coexisting on the earth, aware of other living things ... that didn’t play out in the media, African-Americans declaring against the staus quo.” 

About the play she’s directed, John Curl’s Trial of Christopher Columbus McMillon noted, “It’s something I didn’t know about. When I was in school, we worshipped Columbus. But what he did to Native Americans was horrible. It all takes place in his dungeon cell on Hispaniola, where Haiti and the Dominican Republic are today. And it makes you think about today’s wars of aggression—which didn’t start with Columbus!” 

McMillon spoke of the diversity of the acting troupe for the plays: “We have people from all walks of life—a retired actor, back after 15 years; a lawyer ... and a lot of poets! It’s really a multicultural group, too, one of PEN’s missions, with Native Americans and a Filipino playing the Native Americans in the play about Columbus, as well as Jewish, Irish and African Americans ... really, everybody in the spectrum.” 

McMillon also talked about tight budgeting in times like these and the help PEN has received: “Writers believe in using what you have, thinking of creative ways to get people to help, what to do to make it work, more than writing grants. And we’ve gotten so much help: Black Rep allowed us to use their stage for rehearsals; San Francisco Shakespeare, whom I used to work for, lent us costumes; the West Oakland Senior Center let us perform in their space—and Live Oak gives rates where a poor group can afford a real theater! Playwrights don’t always get a shake, due to the expense of production. But we’ve figured out how to do it—and it’s all about community.” 


PEN Oakland:  

A Night of Short Plays 

A Night of Short Plays at 4 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 13 at the West Oakland Senior Center, 1724 Adeline. 

8 p. m. Thursday and Friday, Sept. 17 and 18, at Live Oak Theater, 1301 Shattuck (at Berryman) in Berkeley.  

$7-$10 sliding scale at the door; for reservations or information on PEN, 681-5652.

Community Calendar

Thursday September 10, 2009 - 12:08:00 PM


Berkeley School Volunteers, New Volunteer Orientation from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. at 1835 Allston Way. Bring a photo ID and two references to the orientation. Returning volunteers do not need to attend. For further information 644-8833. 

Small-Garden Discovery Walk For walkers age 50+ to explore small, charming Albany and North Berkeley late-summer gardens that need little water or fertilizer. Meet at 9:30 a.m. at Albany Senior Center, 846 Masonic. Free but numbers limited; register at Albany Senior Center. 524-9122.  

“Salute to Sisterhood” honoring African American environmental champions at 5:30 p.m. at Lake Merritt Sailboat House. RSVP to 763-9523.  

5th Annual 9/11 Film Festival “Anthrax War” with guest speakers Eric Nadler and David Ray GriffinFrom noon to 10 p.m. at Grand Lake Theater, 3200 Grand Ave., Oakland. Tickets are $10. www.sf911truth.org 

“Sidney R. Garfield: Co-Founder of Kaiser Permanente” with Tom Debley at 7:30 p.m. at Chapel of the Chimes, 4499 Piedmont Ave., Oakland. Sponsored by Oakland Heritage Alliance. Tickets are $10-$15. www.oaklandheritage.org 

Berkeley Folk Dancers Beginners’ Class Learn dances from around the world, Thurs. at 7:45 p.m. at Live Oak Park, 1301 Shattuck. Cost is $30 for 8-week session. www.berkeleyfolkdancers.org. 

“How to Get Your Permit Approved” A seminar with mediator Ron Kelly from 7 to 10 p.m. at Building Education Center, 812 Page St. Cost is $40. 525-7610. 

East Bay Mac Users Group Meeting with Clinton Gilbert and Tom Kramer on SoundStudio and GarageBand, at 7 p.m. at Expression College for Digital Arts, 6601 Shellmound St., Emeryville. Free. ebmug.org 

Improv Acting Play fun improv games. Intro. Improv ongoing on Thurs. at 7 p.m. Intermediate Improv at 8:15 p.m. at Berkeley YWCA, 2600 Bancroft Way. Cost is $12 for Intro classes, $45 for 6 Intermediate classes. www.berkeleyimprov.com  

Babies & Toddlers Storytime at 10:15 and 11:15 a.m. at Kensington Library, 61 Arlington Ave., Kensington. 524-3043. 

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 search for spiders, from 10 to 11:30 a.m. at Tilden Nature Center, Tilden Park. Cost is $6-$8. Registration required. 1-888-327-2757. 

Tilden Explorers An after-school nature adventure program for 5-7 year olds. We will search for spiders from 3:15 to 4:15 p.m. Cost is $6-$8, registration required. 1-888-EBPARKS. 

City Commons Club Noon Luncheon with Jill Tucker, Education Writer, San Francisco Chronicle on “East Palo Alto’s Amazing Eastside College Preparatory School” Luncheon at 11:45 a.m. for $15, speech at 12:30 p.m., at the Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant St. For information and reservations call 527-2173. www.citycommonsclub.org 

Presentation on Senior Cohousing with Charles Durrett, cofounder of cohousing in the U.S and author of “The Senior Cohousing Handbook: A Community Approach to Independent Living” at 7:30 p.m. at Builder’s Booksource, 1817 4th St. 845-6874. www.seniorcohousing.com  

Conscientious Projector Film Series “Occupation 101: Voices of the Silenced Majority” A documentry film on the current and historical roots and causes of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at 7:30 p.m. at Berkeley Fellowship UU Hall, 1924 Cedar at Bonita. 495-5132.  

Womansong Circle An evening of participatory singing for women in commemoration of September 11, 2001 at 7:15 p.m. at First Congregational Church of Berkeley, Small Assembly Room, 2345 Channing Way. Suggested donation $15-20. No one turned away. www.betsyrosemusic.org 

Red Cross Blood Drive from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Children’s Hospital Outpatient Center Basement, 747 52nd St., Oakland. To schedule an appointment go to www.helpsavealife.org 

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 


Berkeley Farmers’ Market String Band Contest with twenty old-time string bands competing from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Civic Center Park. 548-3333. 

AC Transit Community Workshop Learn about proposed service changes in AC Transit’s Service Adjustments Plan, and give your input before final decisions are made, at 10:30 a.m. at AC Transit General Offices, 1600 Franklin St., Oakland. www.actransit.org 

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.oaklandnet.com 

Walking Tour of Temescal: A Bit of Old Italy Meet at 10 a.m. in front of Genova Delicatessen, 5095 Telegraph Ave. in Temescal Shopping Plaza. Sponsored by the Oakland Heritage Alliance. Cost is $10-$15. 763-9218. www.oaklandheritage.org 

Friends of the El Cerrito Library Annual Book Sale Sat. from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sun. from noon to 4 p.m. at El Cerrito Library, 6510 Stockton Ave. in El Cerrito. www.ccclib.org 

Friends of Peralta Hacienda Historical Park Tasty, Touchable Tours of the East Bay’s Spanish and Mexican past from 2 to 4 p.m. at at 1870 Antonio Peralta House, 2465 34th Ave., Oakland. Tours are $2, campfire cooking activity is free. 532-9142. http://peraltahacienda.org  

Richmond Memorial Civic Center Grand Reopening with music, art center activities and fim showings of Richmond’s history, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 450 Civic Center Plaza and 27th St.  

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. 

Ardenwood Shakespeare Festival and Renaissance Faire from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sun. from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets are $13-$18, $8 for children 12 and under. www.ardenwoodfaire.com 

Archeological Dig in Tilden Discover the skills you neen to become an archeologist and learn about Tilden’s past, from 2 to 3 p.m. at Tilden Nature Center, Tilden Park. For ages 7-12. 544-2233. 

Fix Your Own Double-Hung Windows A Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association Workshop at 2 p.m. at BAHA’s McCreary-Greer House, 2318 Durant Ave. Cost is $15. Advance registration required. 841-2242. http://berkeleyheritage.com  

“Building Beneath Your House” seminar with architect Andus Brandt, from 9 a.m. to noon at uilding Education Center, 812 Page St. Cost is $40. 525-7610. 

Rabbit Adoption Day from 1 to 4 p.m. at Rabbit Ears, 377 Colusa Ave. Kensington. 525-6155. 

Common Agenda Regional Network meets at 2 p.m. at 1403 Addison St., in the Berkeley Gray Panthers office at rear of Andronico’s grocery store. 

PeaceGames Training for educators, organizers and students of all ages to understand the intersections of war, militarism, gender, race and class fro 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Women of Color Resource Center, 1611 Telegraph Ave., Suite 303, Oakland. Cost is $75-$200, sliding scale. For information call 444-2700, ext. 305. www.coloredgirls.org 

“Disarmament Work in a Global Economic Crisis: Connecting Issues; Building Movements” with Andrew Lichterman at 7 p.m. at the Home of Truth, 1300 Grand Ave., Alameda. Sponsored by the Alameda Public Affairs Forum and Western States Legal Foundation. Suggested donation $5-$10. www.alamedapublicsaffairsforum.org 

Red Cross Blood Drive from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at St. Barnabas School Hall, 1400 Sixth Ave., Alameda. To schedule an appointment go to www.helpsavealife.org 

Origami Workshop with Margot Wecksler at 2 p.m. at the Albany Library, 1247 Marin Ave. All ages welcome 526-3720, ext. 16. 

Grandparents Weekend at the Beach at Playland-Not-At-The-Beach Sat. and Sun. at 10979 San Pablo Ave., El Cerrito. Costs is $10-$15, grandparents $5. 932-8966. www.playland-not-at-the-beach.org 

Free Family Dance Event from 10 a.m. to noon at Luna Kids in the Sawtooth Bldg, J2525 8th St. at Dwight Way, 644-3629.  

San Francisco Boys Chorus Auditions from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Oakand For information email auditions@sfbc.org  

Free Garden Tours at Regional Parks Botanic Garden Sat. at 2 p.m. and Sun. at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. 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.  


Solano Stroll from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. along Solano Ave. in Berkeley and Albany.  

Unwanted Medicine/Mercury Thermometer Disposal at the EBMUD booth at the Solano Stroll, 1233 Solano Ave., Albany. Bring your unwanted/ 

expired prescription and over-the-counter medicine in the original containers. No controlled substances please. Bring pills and tablets in a plastic zipper bag, and liquids in the original containers with your personal information marked out. Bring mercury thermometers in two zipper bags to prevent breaks and spills. 287-1651. www.ebmud.com/cleanbay 

Friends of Alameda Wildlife Refuge Workday Help prepare habitat for the California Least Terns. Meet at 9 a.m. at the main refuge gate at the northwest corner of the former Naval Air Station in Alameda. www.goldengateaudubon.org 

Family Hike Around Jewel Lake in Tilden Park to learn about animal groups and classifications, and what makes each group so special, from 10:30 a.m. to noon. For meeting point call 544-2233. 

Growing up Aquatic Learn to use a net to discover what insects and amphibians are growing up aquatic, and which are about to make their terrestial debut at 1:30 p.m. at Tilden Nature Center, Tilden Park. 544-2233. 

Flowers Piece by Piece Dissect flowers and use a microscope to learn about flower families, for ages 8 and up from 3 to 4:30 p.m. at Tilden Nature Center, Tilden Park. 544-2233. 

Ashby Village Community Meeting Information on a grassroots organization which provides resources to seniors to enable them to remain in their own homes, at 2 p.m. at West Berkeley Family Practice, 2031 Sixth St. 208-2860. www.ashbyvillage.org 

Walking Tour- Mills College Campus Meet at 2 p.m. in front of Mills Hall on the Mills College Campus. Sponsored by he Oakland Heritage Alliance. Cost is $10-$15. 763-9218. www.oaklandheritage.org 

Old Time Radio East Bay Collectors and listeners gather to enjoy shows together at 4 p.m. at a private home in Berkeley. For more information please email (at Yahoo, to DavidinBerkeley).  

“Keep Green with Untapped Water” seminar with Bob Feinbaum of Earth Island Institute, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Building Education Center, 812 Page St. Cost is $40. 525-7610. 

Gone Fishin’ Family Fun Day with face painting, sing-a-long, art activities and more from 1 to 5 p.m. at Expressions Gallery, 2035 Ashby Ave. 644-4930. www.expressionsgallery.org 

Mind Power Collective’s Sunday Salon Creative on transforming and empowering our schools and communities at 3 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

Friends of the El Cerrito Library Annual Book Sale from noon to 4 p.m. at El Cerrito Library, 6510 Stockton Ave. in El Cerrito. www.ccclib.org 

Benefit for Tristan Anderson at 8 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $5-$20. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

“Ecosocialism and Marx’s Humanism” Critical discussion of ecosocialist thinkers: Ted Benton, Joel Kovel, Michael Lowy, and James O’Conner, based on an essay by Franklin Dmitryev at 6:30 p.m. at Niebyl-Proctor Library, 6501 Telegraph Ave., at Alcatraz. 658-1448. 

Single Payer Health Care Not War Planning meetings at 4:20 at People Park. for more information call 390-0830. peoplespark.org 

Free Garden Tours at Regional Parks Botanic Garden in Tilden Park Sat. at 2 p.m. 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 Jack Petranker on “Exploring Consciousness” at 6 p.m. at the Tibetan Nyingma Institute, 1815 Highland Pl. 809-1000. www.nyingmainstitute.com 


“Power Trip - Theatrically Berkeley” A documentary on Berkeley’s attempt to be the greenest city in America at 7 p.m. at Pacific Film Archive, 2575 Bancroft Way. For advance tickets see Powertripberkeley.com 

Talk on Field Guides with retired East Bay Regional Park District naturalist Alan Kaplan at 7 p.m. at Albany Community Center, 1249 Marin. Bring your favorite field guide for a hands-on exercise. 848-9358. www.fivecreeks.org 

“Well-priced Getaways in Northern California” with author Carolo Terwilliger Meyers. Brown-bag lunch at 12:30 p.m. at the Albany Library, 1247 Marin Ave. All welcome 526-3720, ext. 16. 

“Castoffs” Knitting Group meets at 7 p.m. at Kensington Library, Arlington Ave., Kensington. 524-3043. lodea@ccclib.org 

Drop-in Knitting Group for all ages. Basic instruction and materials supplied. From 3 to 5 p.m. at the Albany Library, 1247 Marin Ave. 526-3720, ext. 16. 


Tuesdays for the Birds Tranquil bird walks in local parklands, led by Bethany Facendini, from 7 to 9:30 a.m. Today we will visit Wildcat Canyon Ragional park, Monte Cresta Road. Bring water, field guides, binoculars or scopes. Call for meeting place and if you need to borrow binoculars. 544-2233. 

Berkeley Path Wanderers Walk in Marin Circle Neighborhood Meet at 10 a.m. at Marin Circle at Fountain. Dale Miller and his mutt Giorgio, who live in this neighborhood, will combine a couple of their regular walks and share local knowledge and gossip. Well behaved dogs on a leash are welcome. 524-4758. www.berkeleypaths.org 

Berkeley School Volunteers, New Volunteer Orientation from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at 1835 Allston Way. Bring a photo ID and two references to the orientation. Returning volunteers do not need to attend. For further information 644-8833. 

“Winter Vegetable Gardening” A talk by Bethalyn Black, Master Gardener, Contra Costa County at 2 p.m. at Epworth United Methodist Church, 1953 Hopkins St. Sponsored by the Berkeley Garden Club. Free. 526-1083. 

Osher Lifelong Learning Institute Open House to learn about classes, registration and membership at 10 a.m. at Freight and Salvage, 2020 Addison St. 642-9934. olli.berkeley.edu 

“Finding and Assessing Fixer Uppers” A seminar led bycontractor/fixer owner Michael Hamman, from 7 to 10 p.m. at Building Education Center, 812 Page St. Cost is $40. 525-7610. 

“Sugar” a documentary of a Dominican baseball player’s experience in the U.S. at 7 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $5-$10. Proceeds benefit La Peña Comunity Chorus. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

“Flow” A documentary on the world water crisis at 7 p.m. at Saul’s Restaurant, 1475 Shattuck Ave. Discussion to follow. Suggested donation $10. www.saulsdeli.com 

Family Storytime for pre-schoolers and up, at 7 p.m. at Kensington Library, 61 Arlington Ave., Kensington. 524-3043. 

Intro to Improv Acting Play fun improv games that unleash your imagination, spontaneity, laughter, and confidence. Starts Sept 15, ongoing Tues. at 6:15 p.m. at Berkeley YWCA, 2600 Bancroft Way. Cost is $12. www.berkeleyimprov.com  

“The Social Basis for Revolution” discussion at 7 p.m. at Revolution Books, 2425 Channing. revolutionbooks.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 

Homework Help at the Albany Library for students in grades 2 - 6, Tues. and Thurs. from 3:15 to 5:15 p.m. at the Albany Library, 1247 Marin Ave. Emphasis on math and writing skills. No registration is required. For more information, call 526-3720. 

Homework Help Program at the Richmond Public Library Tues. and Thurs. from 3 to 5:30 p.m. at 325 Civic Center Plaza. For more information or to enroll, call 620-6557. 

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. 



AC Transit Community Workshop Learn about proposed service changes in AC Transit’s Service Adjustments Plan, developed to help reduce the agency's projected $57 million deficit. Give your input before final decisions are made. At 6:30 p.m. at Fruitvale-San Antonio Senior Center, 3301 East 12th Street, #201, Oakland. More information at www.actransit.org 

Healthy Aging Fair with free health screenings and health and wellness information from service providers, from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at Centennial Hall, 22292 Foothill Blvd., Hayward. Sponsored by the Alameda County Commission on Aging. Shuttle service from Hayward BART station provided. 577-3532. 577-3540. 

Walking Tour of Old 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 

Tilden Explorers An after-school nature adventure program for 5-7 year olds. We will search for spiders from 3:15 to 4:15 p.m.. Cost is $6-$8, registration required. 1-888-EBPARKS. 

Stargazing at the Garden with astronomer Jeffery Silverman at 8:30 p.m. at UC Botanical Garden, 200 Centennial Drive. Cost is $8-$12. For reservations call 643-2755. botanicalgarden.berkeley.edu 

Fond Farewell Series: Creating Joy in the Community with Dacher Keltner and James Baraz at 7 p.m. at Grace North Church, 2138 Cedar St. www.gracenorthchurch.org 

“Crux” a film by Antero Alli 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.  

“Energy Healing Transmission” with Grandmaster Le-Tian at 7:30 p.m. at Tian Gong, 830 Bancroft Way. Cost is $25. For information on this and other programs call 883-1920.  

Theraputic Recreation at the Berkeley Warm Pool, Wed. at 3:30 p.m. and Sat. at 10 a.m. at the Berkeley Warm Pool, 2245 Milvia St. Cost is $4-$5. Bring a towel. 632-9369. 

Berkeley Peace Walk and Vigil at the Berkeley BART Station, corner of Shattuck and Center. Sing for Peace at 6:30 p.m. followed by Peace Walk at 7 p.m. www.geocities.com/vigil4peace/vigil 

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. 


Berkeley Public Library Branch Renovation Program Come share ideas, meet the architects, and learn about the projects’ scopes at 6:30 p.m. at South Branch, 1901 Russell St. at MLK, Jr. Way. www.berkeleypubliclibrary.org 

Home Energy Improvements Workshop Learn how you can save energy and money, improve indoor air quality and take advantage of incentives and rebates, at 7 p.m. at St. Paul African Methodist Episcopal, 2024 Ashby Ave. For information call 981-7473. 

The LeConte Neighborhood Association meets at 7:30 p.m. at the LeConte School to discuss latest police report, problem properties, and yield signs on bicycle boulevards. KarlReeh@aol.com 

Tilden Tots Join a nature adventure program for 3 and 4 year olds, each accompanied by an adult (grandparents welcome)! We’ll search for spiders, from 10 to 11:30 a.m. at Tilden Nature Center, Tilden Park. Cost is $6-$8. Registration required. 1-888-327-2757. 

Golden Gate Audubon Society “Opics Overview for Birders” a hands-on clinic with Steve White of Scope City, SF at 7:30 p.m. at Northbrae Community Church, 941 The Alameda. www.goldengateaudubon.org 

“A Tribute to Justice: 10 Years of Struggles and Victories with Just Cause Oakland” from 6 p.m. to midnight at Historic Sweets Ballroom, 1933 Broadway, Oakland. Cost is $30-$80 sliding scale. 763-5877. www.justcauseoakland.org 

“Death Penalty v. Public Safety Jobs: Where is Your Money Going?” A community forum on the budget, public safety, and the death penalty at 6:30 p.m. at Westminster Hills Presbyterian Church, 27287 Patrick Ave., Hayward. Free. 415-293-6321. www.alamedadeathpenalty.org/index.shtml  

Writing for the Children’s and Young Adult Market with novelist Deborah Davis in north Berkeley. Call for location and information. 541-2199. www.deborahdavisauthor.com 

Babies & Toddlers Storytime at 10:15 and 11:15 a.m. at Kensington Library, 61 Arlington Ave., Kensington. 524-3043. 

Red Cross Blood Drive from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Red Cross Bus, at 1600 Franklin St., Oakland. To schedule an appointment go to www.helpsavealife.org 

“Cook Food” with author Lisa Jervis at 7 p.m. at the Ecology Center, 2530 San Pablo Ave. 548-3402. 

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. 

The Poetry Workshop, offered by the Berkeley Adult School, meets on Thurs. from 9 a.m. to noon in the library of the North Berkeley Senior Center. Writers of all skill levels are welcome. 

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


Celebrate the Life and Legacy of Ron Takaki from 1 to 3:30 p.m. at Chevron Auditorium, International House, 2299 Piedmont Ave at Bancroft Way. Reception follows.  

The 2009 West Coast Convergence for Climate Justice learn about climate change and climate politics, support local communities in their ongoing fights for climate justice. Fri. from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sat. and Sun. from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., Mon. from 9 a.m. to noon at 3200 Barrett Ave, Richmond. Free. climateconvergence.org/west 

Berkeley School Volunteers, New Volunteer Orientation from noon to 1 p.m. at 1835 Allston Way. Bring a photo ID and two references to the orientation. Returning volunteers do not need to attend. For further information 644-8833. 

Butterfly Walk in Tilden Regional Park with Sally Levinson. Meet at 3 p.m. outside the Nature Center for a walk through the Jewel Lake area. Bring binoculrs and field guides if you have them. sal.levenson@gmail.com 

Berkeley Juggling and Unicycle Festival with workshops for all skill levels through Sun. at Martin Luther King Jr. School, 1781 Rose St. berkeleyjuggling.org/festival 

City Commons Club Noon Luncheon with George Williams, San Francisco Planning Department, Retired, on “The Dramatic Evolving Skyline of San Francisco.” Luncheon at 11:45 a.m. for $15, speech at 12:30 p.m., at the Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant St. For information and reservations call 527-2173. www.citycommonsclub.org 

“Kinshasa'a Street Children” a film on the street children in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, followed by discussion, at 6:30 p.m. at Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists, 1924 Cedar at Bonita. Donation $5. www.friendsofthecongo.org 

Demonstrate for Peace from 2 to 4 p.m. at Acton and University Aves. Sponsored by Berkeley-East Bay Gray Panthers and Strawberry Creek Lodge Tenants Association. 841-4143. 

Celebrate Jewish New Year Interactive learning at a Rosh Hashanah Seder, Fri. or Sat. at 6 p.m. at Jewish Gateways, 409 Liberty St. El Cerrito. Cost is $10. RSVP requested. 559-8140. 

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 

Berkeley Chess Club meets every Fri. at 7 p.m. at the Hillside School, 1581 Le Roy Ave. 843-0150. 


California Coastal Cleanup Day from 9 a.m. to noon. Meet behind the Sea Breeze Market at the foot of University at Frontage Rd. Wear old, clothes, strudy shoes, hat and suncreem. Bring water and gloves. www.cityofberkeley.info/marina For other locations see coast4u.org 

Cerrito Creek Coastal Cleanup and History/Nature Walk Learn about Cerrito Creek’s fascinating human and natural history while you remove trash before rains wash it to the Bay. Meet at 10 AM at north end of Cornell St., south edge of El Cerrito Plaza (El Cerrito Plaza BART, AC Transit 72). 848-9358. www.fivecreeks.org 

Berkeley Architectural Heritage Fall Walking Tour Dwight Way Station From 10 a.m. to noon discover a district of fascinating Victorian homes, small-scale commercial buildings, and nearly forgotten historic sites at the intersection of Downtown, the Southside, the Le Conte neighborhood, and the areas west of Shattuck. Walk is level and accessible, along sidewalks. Cost is $10-$15, or $40-$50 for the series. Advance registration required. 841-2242. berkeleyheritage.com  

Berkeley’s New Deal History This walk, led by Harvey Smith, from 10 a.m. to noon, will review Berkeley’s 1930s stimulus programs that have left us a lasting utilitarian and beautiful infrastructure. Cost is $8-$10. For reservations and starting point, call 848-0181. 

Walking Tour of Chinatown Meet at 10 a.m. at the fountain of Pacific Renaissance Plaza, Ninth St., between Webster and Franklin. 238-3234. www.oaklandnet.com/walkingtours 

Walking Tour of Oakland’s Historic Town Squares Meet at 11 a.m.at the corner of 9th and Jackson, next to Madison Square Park. Sponsored by the Oakland Heritage Alliance. Cost is $10-$15. 763-9218. www.oaklandheritage.org 

“The Bungalow: Tradition and Transformation” A seminar with architect/contractor Barry Wagner, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Building Education Center, 812 Page St. Cost is $50. 525-7610. 

Asian Health Services 35h Annual Fundraiser on honor of the Family of Steve, Alan, and Larry Yee with guest Congresswoman Barbara Lee, from 6 to 10 p.m. at The Oakland Marriott City Center, 1001 Broadway, Oakland. Tickets are $125 and up. 986-6830, ext. 268. www.asianhealthservices.org 

California Writers Club, Berkeley Branch meets to discuss “Uniquely Qualified” with Andy Ross, formerly of Cody’s at 10:30 a.m. at Barnes & Nobel Booksellers Event Loft, Jack London Square, 98 Broadway, Oakland. 272-0120. www.cwc-berkeley.com 

Lead-Safe Painting & Remodeling Free intro class to learn about lead safe renovations for your older home from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Ecology Center, 2530 San Pablo Ave. Presented by Alameda County Lead Poisoning Prevention Program. 567-8280. www.ACLPPP.org 

Berkeley Juggling and Unicycle Variety Show at 7:30 p.m. at Martin Luther King Jr. School, 1781 Rose St. Cost is $10. berkeleyjuggling.org/festival 

Hamsterama! Check out our friendly non-biting onmivoresfrom 1 to 4 p.m. at Rabbit Ears, 377 Colusa Ave. Kensington. 525-6155. 

Shimmy Shimmy Kids Dance A ‘60s-style event for the whoel family at 7 p.. at Rhythmix Cultural Works, 2513 Blanding Ave., Alameda. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for age 2 and older, 2 and under, free. 865-5060. www.rhythmix.org 

Free Garden Tours at Regional Parks Botanic Garden Sat. at 2 p.m. 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. 

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 

Kol Hadash Humanistic Rosh Hashanah at 7:30 p.m. at Albnay Community Center. Registration required. See www.kolhadash.org 


Little Farm Fair A celebration with live music, crafts, and old-fashioned games including a pie-eating contest and sack races, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Little Farm in Tilden Park. Use of transit encouraged. 544-2233. 

14th Annual Garden Party at the Peralta Community Garden with locally grown foods, information on California native plants and habitat restoration, and music by local artists, from 2 to 5 p.m. at Ohlone Greenway at Peralta St. just north of Hopkins St. 

Butterfly Basics View displays of live specimens, thenlook for caterpillrs and butterflies in the garden, from 2 to 4 p.m. at UC Botanical Garden, 200 Centennial Drive. Cost is $12-$15. For reservations call 643-2755. botanicalgarden.berkeley.edu 

Walking Tour of The Civil War at Mountain View Cemetary Meet at 10 a.m. at Chapel of the Chimes, 4499 Piedmont Ave.. Sponsored by the Oakland Heritage Alliance. Cost is $10-$15. 763-9218. www.oaklandheritage.org 

Free Hands-on Bicycle Clinic Learn how to repair a flat, from 10 to 11 a.m. at REI, 1338 San Pablo Ave. Bring your bike and tools. 527-4140. 

Red Cross Blood Drive from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Taylor Memorial United Methodist Church Fellowship Hall, 1188 12th St., Oakland. To schedule an appointment go to www.helpsavealife.org 

Berkeley Juggling and Unicycle Festival with workshops for all skill levels at Martin Luther King Jr. School, 1781 Rose St. berkeleyjuggling.org/festival 

“The Issues are in the Tissues” Holistic insights on the effects of stress on the body from 2:30 to 4:30 pm. at BFUU, 1924 Cedar at Bonita. www.bfuu.org 

East Bay Atheists meets at 1:30 p.m. at Berkeley Main Library, 3rd Floor Meeting Room 2090 Kittredge St. Craig Spitzer will lead a discussions on Atheist Living that will focus on Rituals: Approaching Marriage, Death, and Holidays as Atheists in a Theistic Society. www.eastbayatheists.org 

Single Payer Health Care Not War Planning meetings at 4:20 at People Park. for more information call 390-0830. peoplespark.org 

Berkeley Fullpower Self-Defense Workshops from 1 to 4:30 p.m. No one turned away for lack of funds. To register call 800-467-6997. 

Free Garden Tours at Regional Parks Botanic Garden in Tilden Park Sat. at 2 p.m. 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 Robin Caton on “Educating the Heart” at 6 p.m. at the Tibetan Nyingma Institute, 1815 Highland Pl. 809-1000. www.nyingmainstitute.com 


Commission on Early Childhood Education meets Tues., Sept. 10 , at 7 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center. 981-5410.  

West Berkeley Project Area Commission meets Thurs., Sept. 10, at 7 p.m. at the James Kenney Recreation Center, 8th & Virginia. 981-7418.  

Zoning Adjustments Board meets Thurs., Sept. 10, at 7 p.m., in City Council Chambers. 981-7430. 

Council Agenda Committee meets Mon., Sept. 14, at 2:30 p.m., at 2180 Milvia St. 981-6900. 


City Council meets Tues., Sept. 15, at 7 p.m in City Council Chambers. 981-6900. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/citycouncil 

Homeless Commission meets Wed., Sept. 16, at 7 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center. 981-5431. 

Humane Commission meets Wed., Sept. 16, at 7 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center. 

Community Health Commission meets Thurs., Sept. 17, at 6:30 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center. 981-5356. 

Design Review Committee meets Thurs.,Sept. 17 , at 7 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center. 981-7415.  

Fair Campaign Practices Commission meets Thurs., Sept. 17, at 7:30 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center. 981-6950. 

Medical Cannabis Commission meets Thurs., Sept. 17, at noon at City Hall, Cypress Room, 2180 Milvia. 981-7402. 

Transportation Commission meets Thurs., Sept. 17, at 7 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center. 981-7061.