The Week

JC Orton founded the nonprofit Night on the Streets program to provide services to the homeless.
Riya Bhattacharjee
JC Orton founded the nonprofit Night on the Streets program to provide services to the homeless.


Firefighters Battle Fire Near Fish Ranch Exit Off Highway 24

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Tuesday September 29, 2009 - 05:43:00 PM

Firefighters from the East Bay Regional Park District and four other state and local agencies battled a fire near the Fish Ranch Road exit off Highway 24 Tuesday afternoon, according to park district officials. -more-

Berkeley High Selected for Green Energy Small Schools Grant

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Tuesday September 29, 2009 - 06:40:00 PM

State schools chief Jack O’Connell will be in Berkeley Wednesday to announce the names of five California public high schools, including Berkeley High, which were selected for a new “green energy” partnership academy pilot program. -more-

AC Transit to Request Use of BRT Funds to Hold Off Service Cuts

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Monday September 28, 2009 - 07:32:00 PM

The AC Transit Board of Directors took a step back from its signature Bus Rapid Transit project last week. But just how big a step back is yet to be determined. -more-

District Attorney Drops Charges Against John Yoo Protesters

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Monday September 28, 2009 - 02:28:00 PM

The Alameda County district attorney’s office announced Wednesday, Sept. 23, that it would not press criminal charges against four protesters cited for misdemeanors during a rally at UC Berkeley’s School of Law. -more-

Thousands Pack Sproul Plaza to Protest UC Layoffs, Fee Increases

By Richard Brenneman
Friday September 25, 2009 - 04:58:00 PM
Five thousand protesters filled Sproul Plaza Thursday to demand reform of the state's education system.

For the first time in decades, thousands of protesters thronged UC Berkeley’s Sproul Plaza Thursday, united in a common cause and demanding political action. -more-

Shattuck Hotel Officially Opens in Downtown Berkeley

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday September 24, 2009 - 06:02:00 PM
Josh Buckelew, Hotel Shattuck Plaza’s welcome ambassador, greets guests outside the hotel Wednesday.

The Shattuck Hotel has been born again. The 100-year-old six-story landmark, Berkeley’s oldest hotel, officially reopened Thursday, Sept. 24, with much fanfare after a two-year, multi-million-dollar remodeling effort. -more-

Tuesday September 29, 2009 - 05:44:00 PM

Berkeley Homeless Advocate Wins Jefferson Award for Public Service

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday September 24, 2009 - 09:13:00 AM

JC Orton doesn’t fit the stereotype of a homeless advocate. -more-

Walkout, Rally Hailed as Rebirth of UC Activism

By Richard Brenneman
Thursday September 24, 2009 - 09:16:00 AM

Hundreds of University of California employees, including both faculty and hourly employees, have vowed a work stoppage today (Thursday) to protest low pay for campus workers and higher fees for students. -more-

City Council Approves Berkeley’s First Enterprise Zone

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday September 24, 2009 - 09:17:00 AM

The Berkeley City Council’s decision Tuesday to expand Oakland’s Enterprise Zone into the city may have signaled a new era of tax incentives for companies in West Berkeley, but some city councilmembers remain cautiously optimistic. -more-

City Council Threatens to Take Over AC Transit Bus Lines

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Thursday September 24, 2009 - 09:18:00 AM

The Berkeley City Council delivered a slightly veiled threat to AC Transit Tuesday night, offering to work with the embattled bus district to hold off planned service reductions, but if those cuts go on as planned, strongly indicating that the city would move to develop partnerships with other transit agencies or businesses to provide supplemental bus service in Berkeley. -more-

AC Transit Manager Proposes Using BRT Funds to Hold Off Service Cuts

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Thursday September 24, 2009 - 09:19:00 AM

In an effort to hold off impending service reductions, the AC Transit Board of Directors has called an emergency meeting for Friday evening to consider a proposal by district General Manager Rick Fernandez to pull start-up money from the district’s proposed Bus Rapid Transit line to buttress AC Transit’s operating budget. -more-

Berkeley Unified School District Ends Financial Year on a Positive Note

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday September 24, 2009 - 09:20:00 AM

Despite ongoing budget challenges, the Berkeley Unified School District was able to end its 2008-09 financial year on a positive note. -more-

Police Dept. Names Interim Chief

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday September 24, 2009 - 09:21:00 AM

Berkeley City Manager Phil Kamlarz announced Wednesday that the city had named Captain Eric Gustafson as interim police chief of the Berkeley Police Department. -more-

Candidates Fight for Spot on KPFA Local Station Board

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Thursday September 24, 2009 - 09:21:00 AM

One of the more difficult tasks in the Bay Area is making sense out of the elections at KPFA radio. -more-

Teece Ousted from LECG

By Richard Brenneman
Thursday September 24, 2009 - 09:22:00 AM

While a recent New Zealand estimate puts his wealth at $170 million—up $20 million from the year before—it’s been a tough year for UC Berkeley business professor David Teece. -more-

Pair Saved in Dramatic Grizzly Peak Rescue

By Richard Brenneman
Thursday September 24, 2009 - 09:23:00 AM

A multijurisdictional team of firefighters and police scoured a dark stretch of Grizzly Peak Boulevard during the darkest hours of Saturday morning as a driver waited, clinging to his phone and trapped in his car on a steep stretch of the hillside 100 feet below the roadway. -more-

Fremont Man Charged in Berkeley Rape Attempts

By Richard Brenneman
Thursday September 24, 2009 - 09:23:00 AM

A 21-year-old Fremont man faces charges of burglary and attempted rape stemming from two July 16 break-in assaults in Berkeley, police announced Wednesday. -more-

Council Holds Rare Back-to-Back Session With Light Schedule Planned

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Thursday September 24, 2009 - 09:24:00 AM

The Berkeley City Council holds rare week-to-week meetings this month, but not because of a rush to get work done coming out of the summer break. -more-

First Person: On The Road With Mad as Hell Docs for Single-Payer: Part II

By Marc Sapir, Special to the Planet
Thursday September 24, 2009 - 09:25:00 AM


Thursday September 24, 2009 - 09:21:00 AM

University of California President Mark Yudof’s first name was stated incorrectly in a Sept. 17 article. -more-



Hate Speech, Harassment, Humor and Just Plain Lies

By Becky O'Malley
Thursday September 24, 2009 - 09:28:00 AM

When I was growing up in St. Louis I heard an epithet for people who behaved like Congressman Wilson of South Carolina, one too derogatory to repeat in the pages of a family newspaper in the 21st century, but its initials are PWT. It was used, sub rosa, by people of all races who put a premium on polite behavior and did not respect those who were not able to comport themselves in a civil manner. -more-

Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

Thursday September 24, 2009 - 09:52:00 AM


Commentary: BRT Alert: Look (to Cleveland) Before You Leap

By Gale Garcia
Thursday September 24, 2009 - 09:29:00 AM

Several months ago, I heard that the only Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project in the United States that took two lanes from a four-lane road for dedicated bus lanes was in Cleveland, Ohio. This is exactly what AC Transit is planning for Berkeley, Oakland and San Leandro, so I began to investigate Cleveland’s BRT through newspaper articles, blogs, newsletters and any other source I could find. -more-

Commentary: The Berkeley Solidarity Alliance

By Lyn Hejinian
Thursday September 24, 2009 - 09:30:00 AM

By now we know that the current economic crisis in the state of California is without precedent. The very fabric of everyday life in California, from our parks to our cities, our schools to our air and water, even the promise of the California dream itself, is imperiled by this perfect storm of capitalist crisis and political paralysis. For public education, the damage caused by greed and political fecklessness has reaped an unaccountable toll: classroom sizes swell while teachers make poverty wages and college tuition costs ever more. Gov. Schwarzenegger, like the current University of California president Mark Yudof, the corporate leaders appointed to the Board of Regents, and much of the rest of the California political establishment, want to tell us that the economy is collapsing, everybody is hurting, and so we must slash public services to the poor, close battered women’s shelters, furlough underpaid workers, and bust the greedy unions of janitors, teachers, secretaries and nurses. All while refusing to tax oil extraction, Hollywood mansions, yachts, and profit-rich corporations, and billionaires. There is no alternative, we are told. -more-

Commentary: A Response to Capitelli on the Downtown Plan

By Tree Fitzpatrick
Thursday September 24, 2009 - 09:31:00 AM

Councilmember Capitelli seems to have a fundamental misunderstanding about the role the City Council plays in this city. It is his job to do what is best for the citizens, not what is best for real estate developers. He has an obligation to discern what the citizens want and then to do whatever he can to make that happen. He is not supposed to infantilize the citizenry and make decisions that the majority of citizens do not approve of. He is not supposed to think he knows better than the people know what is good for them. In his commentary, it makes it sound like all the folks who signed that petition are mindless children who don’t know what’s good for themselves. -more-

Commentary: On Architecture and Building Heights in Berkeley

By Gerry Tierney
Thursday September 24, 2009 - 09:31:00 AM

Two recent articles in the Daily Planet, Steve Finacom’s regarding Parker Place in your Sept. 3 edition and Fred Dodsworth’s commentary regarding the Downtown Plan in your Sept. 17 edition, provide an interesting insight into how certain segments of the Berkeley population regard development and the built environment. As both a resident of Berkeley and a practicing architect—who has been very fortunate to work not only in Berkeley but also throughout North America and around the globe—I would like to make the following observations: In Finacom’s Parker Place article he acknowledges “… that there are substantial elements of the project to praise” and enumerates several programmatic benefits, going on to suggest the transformation of the Shattuck Avenue median into a linear park —a great idea that should be pursued further. However the rest of the article makes for depressing reading. Whereas comments regarding “the atrocious skin” are subjective and therefore open to debate, what I found troublesome and symptomatic of so much that is pushing Berkeley further into the margins of cultural irrelevancy was the quote—and following comment—from a letter by Design Review Committee member Bob Allen. In his opinion, Mr. Allen feels that the street facing character of the project resembled a “morose new neighborhood in Emeryville.” This, along with the comment by Mr. Finacom that he had “hit the nail on the head” as most people “hated the way the structure is wrapped in an Emeryville/San Francisco SOMA aesthetic” is in my mind a depressing realization that indeed Berkeley is now a culturally irrelevant dormitory suburb where, to quote John Kaliski, AIA, in his review of Thom Mayne’s UCLA “L.A. Now” studio, there exists a “normative city planning and urban design…that looks to a singularly defined and supposedly golden past … and (an) architecture or urbanism that turns its back on the present.” Now, I understand that what people like John Kaliski or Thom Mayne think is of no consequence to the majority of people in Berkeley, I think it does matter if Berkeley considers itself as something other than a typical culturally isolated suburb—it certainly has pretensions of something other than an El Cerrito or Walnut Creek. -more-

Commentary: KPFA’s Unpaid Staff and the Elections

By Marcia Rautenstrauch
Thursday September 24, 2009 - 09:32:00 AM

As a longstanding member of the KPFA unpaid staff, I am quite a bit puzzled and more than a bit annoyed by how the unpaid staff are being used as an issue in the current KPFA Local Station Board elections. In fact, I’m down right aggravated to see how one slate, the Independents for Community Radio, is speaking in the name of us unpaid staff at the station. Well, let me tell you, they don’t speak for me. -more-

Commentary: BUSD: Union Busting 101

By Tim Donnelly  
Thursday September 24, 2009 - 09:33:00 AM

We are the Berkeley Council of Classified Employees, representing 450 employees of the Berkeley Unified School District, the Office/Technical and Instructional Assistant/Paraprofessional Units. This essay is, by necessity, a little thick with initials. But our plight is simple enough to understand. We are being battered by an anti-worker administration. Our three main grievances are these; long-term employees kept in substitute status illegally, the illegal denial of information we need to enforce our contract, and a recent reorganization of Special Education that increases our workload threefold. -more-

Commentary: Not In My Backyard

By Joanne Kowalski
Thursday September 24, 2009 - 09:36:00 AM

Last month when I stopped to sign the petition for a referendum on the Downtown Berkeley plan, I was accosted by a woman from the build-Berkeley-bigger faction who attempted to get me not to sign. Her argument seemed to be that infill, in the form of tall buildings downtown, was the only way to combat the non-sustainable urban sprawl that was eating up more and more of our farmland and contributed so greatly to our planet’s ills. To oppose this plan, she implied, was NIMBYism on the part of those who had theirs and who were unwilling to work on saving the environment for those to come. -more-


The Public Eye: Why Isn’t There a Left-Wing Conspiracy?

By Bob Burnett
Thursday September 24, 2009 - 09:26:00 AM

In 1998, then First Lady Hillary Clinton famously observed that a “vast right-wing conspiracy” was subverting her husband’s presidency. A decade later, a similar gang of Republican miscreants has mobilized to bring down the Obama administration and healthcare reform. Recent conservative attacks resulted in the firing of Van Jones. Didn’t liberals learn anything from the coordinated assaults on the Clinton administration? Why isn’t there a left-wing “conspiracy” to counter the kamikaze tactics of the right? -more-

Undercurrents: Our Favorite East Bay Conservative Obsesses Over Race, Again

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Thursday September 24, 2009 - 09:27:00 AM

One of the reasons I spend little time worrying about—much less answering—my many critics is that so many of them, bless their hearts, spend so little time in the verification process. -more-

About the House: All About Gutters

By Matt Cantor
Thursday September 24, 2009 - 09:52:00 AM

Now this is a dopey little subject in the face of all the larger issues that one might discuss regarding our homes (not to mention war, famine or social injustice), but it keeps coming up and there are valuable points and, well, a review of this minor but worthy set of issues is long overdue. -more-

Wild Neighbors: Southbound with the Western Tanager

By Joe Eaton
Thursday September 24, 2009 - 09:55:00 AM
Male western tanager; females have yellow heads.

The handy thing about the songbird’s fall migration is that sometimes the birds come to you. You're not likely to find southbound shorebirds or geese in the typical Berkeley back yard. But we do get a steady trickle of warblers, vireos and flycatchers in late summer and early fall, and now and then a surprise. Last weekend I had a brief look at a female western tanager in the island mallow near the garage: a midsized yellow-green songbird with two yellow wingbars and a large pale bill; as far as I can recall, she was a new addition to the yard list. -more-

Arts & Events

Arts Calendar

Thursday September 24, 2009 - 09:50:00 AM

THURSDAY, SEPT. 24 -more-

Film Festival Showcases the Indie Spirit

By Ken Bullock, Special to the Planet
Thursday September 24, 2009 - 09:47:00 AM
David Silberberg’s documentary Oh My God! It’s Harrod Blank!, showing Saturday afternoon at the Berkeley Video and Film Festival, follows the exploits of Berkeley art car creator, filmmaker and art curator Harrod Blank, son of music filmmaker Les Blank.

“An independent cinematic marathon,” the self-description of the energetic 18th annual Berkeley Video and Film Festival, showing Friday night and Saturday at Shattuck Cinemas, seems to be the fairest way to depict the ongoing screenings that bring back something of the feel—the exhilaration—of great film festivals of yore, which these days often hold fewer surprises and discoveries than crowds, high per-show ticket prices and the tired format of a typical official event. -more-

Green Day’s ‘American Idiot’ at Berkeley Rep

By Ken Bullock, Special to the Planet
Thursday September 24, 2009 - 09:48:00 AM
The world premiere of Green Day’s American Idiot, staged by Tony-winning director Michael Mayer at Berkeley Rep.

Amid all the preshow hoopla and media ballyhoo, Berkeley Rep premiered the onstage version of Berkeley’s Grammy-winning rock group Green Day’s American Idiot, with an aftershow party sprawling out of the Roda Theatre, across the courtyard, and onto the thrust stage, where a skating rink-like disco held forth. -more-

Pacific Film Archive Celebrates Internat’l Home Movie Day

Thursday September 24, 2009 - 09:39:00 AM

Got old family footage you’d like to see on the big screen? Once again, Pacific Film Archive is participating in the international celebration of Home Movie Day, inviting patrons to drop off their old films by Sept. 25 for consideration for screening on Oct. 17. Bring in your home movies, in 8mm, Super-8mm and 16mm formats, and PFA will include as many as possible in the screening, where participants are invited to share their films and memories. -more-

The Ever Affable ‘Harvey’ at Contra Costa Civic Theatre

By Ken Bullock, Special to the Planet
Thursday September 24, 2009 - 09:49:00 AM

“As you can see, he’s a Pooka,” explains Elwood P. Dowd, straightening the tie and smoothing the ears of his big, invisible friend. “Don’t be disturbed. He stares like that at everybody.” -more-

SF Cabaret Opera Premieres ‘Solidarity’

By Ken Bullock, Special to the Planet
Thursday September 24, 2009 - 09:49:00 AM

The world premiere of Solidarity, a chamber opera by composer-librettist Patrick Dailly about the Solidarity Movement in Poland from its inception until martial law was imposed in 1981, will be presented by San Francisco Cabaret Opera, with music direction by Mark Alburger and stage direction by Harriet March Page, this Sunday at 7 p.m. at Berkeley’s Live Oak Theater. Three additional shows will be presented the following weekends at Flux53, the new artspace/theater in near Mills College. -more-

Moving Pictures: Work in All its Nobility and Drudgery: The Films of Ermanno Olmi

By Justin DeFreitas
Thursday September 24, 2009 - 09:51:00 AM
Sandro Panseri plays a young man in search of a secure job in <i>Il Posto</i> (1961).

Italian film director Ermanno Olmi spent much of his career examining people at work. He depicted work in all its nobility and suffering, showing his characters enjoying its rewards and facing down its drudgery. -more-

Community Calendar

Thursday September 24, 2009 - 09:25:00 AM

THURSDAY, SEPT. 24 -more-