Full Text

By Michael Howerton


Neighbors Launch Effort to Save Historic Hillside School

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Friday October 23, 2009 - 03:51:00 PM

Neighbors and tenants of Berkeley’s Hillside School say they are determined to do what it takes to save the 80-year-old architectural landmark. 

A former Berkeley public elementary school dating back to 1928, Hillside, at 1581 Le Roy Ave., was abandoned by the Berkeley Unified School District in 1983 because of sagging enrollment. 

The school sits on a trace of the Hayward Fault, and the Alquist-Priolo Act forbids any kind of public educational use within 50 feet of an earthquake fault. 

So for more than two decades, the school, with its handsome slate roof and broad corridors, has been of little use to the school district, and in 2007 it was declared surplus by the Berkeley Board of Education, who put it up for sale last year. 

At a school board meeting Oct. 14, board members agreed to put the property on the market after the city and other public entities expressed no interest in purchasing it. 

Despite being forsaken, Hillside houses a vibrant community. 

In the early ‘90s, it was home to the Berkeley Montessori School until it moved recently to a new location on University Avenue. 

The Berkeley Chess School has called it home for almost 20 years, using its spacious airy classrooms to train future chess wizards. 

Hillside is also headquarters for International Child Resources, a global non-profit which helps sick, impoverished, displaced and orphaned children and youth in India, Ghana, Zimbawe and more than 30 other countries. 

Diotima Academy, established to teach children about Hellenic culture, language and arts, also rents space at Hillside, along with In Dulci Jubilo, and a host of artists for whom this Tudor-style Walter Ratcliff-designed architectural marvel perched high on a hill is a perfect place to hone their craft. 

Hillside’s playground is a popular place for basketball players, Tai Chi enthusiasts and families who want a bit of open space for a picnic or to play jungle gym with their children on holidays. 

But despite all these uses, Hillside has its share of problems. Years of neglect has left broken windows, peeling paint and a leaky roof, and although parts of the school have been retrofitted, a complete renovation is estimated to cost millions. 

“There’s been no classes there for a long time so we haven’t treated it the same way as where our kids are,” said the district’s Facilities Director Lew Jones. “We haven’t done much maintenance work, but we have done some work. The building needs a lot of work.” 

Despite its shortcomings, many consider Hillside as the neighborhood jewel, and when an effort between a group of Hillside residents and the City of Berkeley to buy the property through the Naylor Act—which allows public entities to buy a property for a quarter of its market price—fell through, three of the tenants in the building decided to try to buy the building themselves. 

Elizabeth Shaughnessy, who started the Berkeley Chess School in 1982 as an after-school program, said tenants were eager to form a foundation to save the building. 

“The location is great,” Shaughnessy said. “Friday evenings we hold seven different levels of classes in seven different classrooms. Where else will we get that kind of space?” 

Shaughnessy, an architect, underscored the importance of bringing the building back to its original glory. 

“We know it will take millions, but we are willing to take on a big project,” she said. “We’d like to start fixing it up so that it’s properly rentable. It’s hard to get people to rent if the electricity goes out every time you plug in the heater.” 

The school district, which rents space at Hillside for $5 per square feet, has an agreement with tenants to not increase the rent for a year, but all leases are technically on a month-to-month basis, Jones said. 

“This is our home,” said Ken Jaffe, executive director of International Child Resources. “We have been here for more than 10 years. We will do everything in our power to develop an agreement with the Berkeley Unified School District that will help us to keep serving children and families in Berkeley.” 

Shaughnessy, Jaffe and Diotima are not alone. The Hillside Association, a neighborhood group fighting to preserve the Hillside playground, also wants the property preserved. 

“The property influences the neighborhood,” said Peter Lydon, secretary of the Hillside Association. “A lot of the neighbors would like to see it preserved. We want the open space—we have a new generation of kids coming in, and Berkeley in general doesn’t have a lot of open space.” 

Although the school district has assessed the market rate for Hillside, Jones said that information is not public yet. The board said at their last meeting that they would consider long-term leases with an option to sell, but would like to consult with the community before deciding their next step. 

“I want to make it clear that we are not asking for any kind of free lunch at all,” Jaffe said. “In fact, if we decide to go for a lease-purchase opportunity, then that will provide additional funding to the school district.” 



Black Oak Books Buys West Berkeley Home

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday October 22, 2009 - 09:11:00 AM
By Michael Howerton

Berkeley’s Black Oak Books is planning a resurrection. 

The bookstore, which closed in May after more than two decades on Shattuck Avenue in North Berkeley, has announced plans to reopen at the former Rountree’s nightclub at 2618 San Pablo Ave., converting the space into a combined bookstore and performance venue. 

Black Oak owner Gary Cornell, a former University of Connecticut math professor who moved to Berkeley in 2008 to save Black Oak, said he had bought the West Berkeley property along with some friends—the same group that had also invested in Black Oak—and was getting ready to open by Dec. 1. 

Right after closing the North Shattuck location because the store could no longer afford the rent, Cornell told the Planet that Black Oak might open a retail section at its San Pablo Ave. warehouse, but on Monday he said that won’t happen. 

“I am very excited we found a new place,” Cornell said. “If all goes well, Black Oak Books will reopen by the end of November. I don’t know how realistic it is, but right now we are just focusing on getting it open for business.” 

The new space, at 6,500 square feet, is larger than the old location at 1491 Shattuck Ave. 

“It could be a little restaurant or café,” Cornell said, talking about some of the possibilities. “Even a place for jazz performances.” 

Books will take up half the space, Cornell said, although there won’t be as many new books as before. 

The red brick Rountree’s building—which in the past housed the Rhythm and Blues Hall of Fame—was vacant when Cornell purchased it. 

“It’s in a rather rundown state cosmetically, and it will take some time to get it into a better shape,” Cornell said. “We are getting a new roof next week.” 

Cornell said low property prices in the area, especially on San Pablo Avenue, had attracted him to the building, which he feels, in spite of its predominantly industrial location, has promise. 

“We tried to get the former Cody’s space downtown,” Cornell said, referring to the former Eddy Bauer showroom at 2201 Shattuck Ave., which Cody’s Books had fleetingly occupied before going out of business. “But the landlord there didn’t feel it was important to have a bookstore downtown and wouldn’t lower the rent. Things are cheap on San Pablo, so we decided to buy our own place.” 

When asked how much he paid for the property, Cornell said, “it’s a meaningless number.” 

Real estate sites advertised the 7,290-square-foot lot listed by West Berkeley developers Norheim & Yost at $625,000. 

On Wednesday, workers were tearing down the gilted panels inside Rountree’s, slowly removing all the jazz memoribilia from the walls. A “Jesse Jackson for President ‘88” poster and some Duke Ellington color reprints peeked out from behind the bar, a stark reminder of the club’s bygone days. 

Cornell announced the rebirth of Black Oak two weeks after Berkeley’s newest bookstore, Books Inc., opened its doors at 1460 Fourth Street.  

Books Inc. co-owner and President Michael Tucker called their 12th Bay Area branch a “great community location.” 

“There was a huge vacuum after Cody’s closed down, and possibly Black Oak Books closing,” Tucker said. “I actually wasn’t planning on opening a bookstore this year at all.” 

But that changed when Fourth Street developer Denny Abrams told Tucker he wanted an anchor bookstore which would fill the gap left by Cody’s, even if it meant lowering the rent on 3,000-square-feet of prime retail space previously occupied by NapaStyle. 

“He made me an offer I couldn’t refuse,” Tucker said. “He really really wanted us to get in there.” 

When Books Inc. opened Oct. 5 after an aggressive remodeling effort, Tucker said they received a terrific response from the community.  

The store is planning a grand opening in November which will feature a series of author readings and other events for the entire family.  

Tucker said Books Inc. has survived the dismal fate of other independent bookstores by departing from the “cookie-cutter” concept. 

“Each of our stores are different,” he said. “You really need to know who your customers are. Our store managers are like a small book community in themselves.” 

The 12 employees at the Berkeley Books Inc. are a mix of former buyers and store managers from Cody’s, Stacey’s Books and Borders who have a tremendous amount of autonomy over their stores, Tucker said. 

Books Inc., which stocks an impressive fiction and non-fiction collection, also takes special orders from customers daily and has an online section as well. 

It collaborates with local schools and libraries to host special events as a way of creating a niche for itself in local communities, in some cases donating 20 percent of the night’s sales to the institutions themselves.  

As if Black Oak’s resurgence and the new Books Inc. isn’t reason enough for bibliophiles in Berkeley to celebrate, Mrs. Dalloway’s on College Avenue recently expanded into half the space occupied by the former Elmwood Pharmacy, which closed down a year ago. 

Mrs. Dalloway’s, whose name is inspired by the first line of Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway: “Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself,” has evolved from a specialty store to a full-blown general bookstore spread across 3,000 square foot of retail space. 

“We were getting asked for more and more things,” said Marion Abbott, who co-owns Mrs. Dalloways with Anne Leyhe. “Politics, biographies—when Cody’s went out of business a lot of their customers came to us.” 

The new section boasts more children’s books and a deeper fiction collection. 

“These are all very good signs for independent booksellers,” Abbott said of Black Oak reopening. “It’s a great thing they are coming back.” 

Hut Landon, executive director of the Northern California Independent Bookseller’s Association, said that given all the positive activity around bookstores in Berkeley, the city’s independent bookseller business might finally be turning around. 

“The independent bookstores doing well are the ones that are somewhat smaller than Cody’s,” Landon said. “The model has changed. It’s important to be small and to be in a good neighborhood. Bookstores will make it if the rent isn’t excessive—and that part depend a lot on the landlords.” 

Currently the NCIBA has 20 Berkeley bookstores on its membership list (www.nciba.com/bookstores/east.html). 

“They are not all general interest, but it’s still a lot of bookstores,” Tucker said. “People saw how bookstores go away—so if they want bookstores to stick around they will have to support them.” 

Tucker admitted that sales are currently flat for Books Inc., but added that he is hopeful things will improve after a year. 

“With the Bay Area’s unemployment rate at 12 percent, it’s a tough ride,” he said. “People are very cautious about what they are buying. I am hoping that it won’t be a worse Christmas than last year.” 










AC Transit Manager Resigns as District Faces Test

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Thursday October 22, 2009 - 09:12:00 AM

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor 


Longtime AC Transit General Manager Rick Fernandez abruptly announced his resignation from his position with the two-county bus district last week, with details of his departure, including the effective date, yet to be worked out.  

The resignation comes as AC Transit faces some of the stiffest financial and political challenges of its 50-year history. 

Fernandez has served as AC Transit GM since 1999, the longest-serving general manager the agency has had. 

Officially, Fernandez’ resignation was for personal reasons, with the general manager saying in a statement released by the district that he had “met with the Board over the past few weeks and let them know of my desire to have more free time with my family and enjoy personal interests.” 

However, it is difficult to separate Fernandez’ abrupt resignation announcement from the turmoil and difficulties swirling around the bus agency. Earlier this year, district officials declared a fiscal emergency after projecting that AC Transit would have a negative balance of $9.7 million in working capital as of June 30, 2010. To meet the fiscal emergency, the district had planned staff layoffs and a 15 percent reduction in bus service for the first of the year.  

But last month, at Fernandez’ initiative, AC Transit announced plans to try to swap money allocated through the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area Metro-politan Transportation Commis-sion in order to halve the proposed staff layoffs and stave off half of the bus service cuts. But the proposal came at a stiff price: at least a one-year delay in construction of AC Transit’s long-planned Bus Rapid Transit line, with a possible scaling down of the proposal or even abandonment of BRT altogether. 

In addition, just last week, the AC Transit Board of Directors passed a resolution calling for preference for purchasing of American-built products, a policy that would be the death knell for AC Transit’s recent practice of buying buses exclusively from Belgian bus manufacturer Van Hool. Fernandez had championed that AC Transit-Van Hool relationship, calling it a “partnership.” 

The “Buy America” resolution passed on a 6-1 vote, with only Board Vice President Chris Peeples voting against. Two board members—Greg Harper and Jeff Davis—said they were voting on the resolution with reservations, however, and said they would bring up their concerns after the staff returns for board approval of the details of how the “Buy America” policy will work in practice. 

“Rick has done an outstanding job for our riders, our staff, and the taxpayers who support our bus system,” AC Transit President Rocky Fernandez said in a prepared statement. (President Fernandez is no relation to the General Manager.) 

“Equally important, he has helped AC Transit lead the way in progressively guiding the organization through good and bad economic times,” he said. “Rick has also done a remarkable job of improving and stabilizing our finances. He has revolutionized relationships with our funding agencies and has devised innovative ways of using various fund sources to financially support the district. He built up a major reserve fund prior to the last recession, then rebuilt those reserves after that recession. The current reserves have enabled the district to deal with this recession in a rational way with ample public process rather than having to slash service last January.” 

AC Transit Board Vice President Chris Peeples, in a telephone voicemail to the Daily Planet, said that all board comments on General Manager Fernandez’ resignation were being handled through Board President Rocky Fernandez. But at least one board member was not adhering to that policy. 

  In comments published in the East Bay Express this week, AC Transit Board member Greg Harper said, “There was pressure building on the board” against Fernandez in recent weeks.

Judge Halts Disability Home Care Cuts

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday October 22, 2009 - 09:13:00 AM

Disability rights advocates won part of a battle Monday when a federal district court judge issued a preliminary injunction against home care cuts that were scheduled to take place next month. 

Judge Claudia Wilkins ruled that the state could not move ahead with its plans to slash In-Home Supportive Services to an estimated 130,000 Californians on Nov. 1 because it would result in substantial harm, damage and injury. 

She said that the cuts would likely violate federal law and cause “incredible human suffering” to seniors and the disabled community, who were in dire need of the services. 

Hundreds of seniors and disabled citizens, including a large group from Berkeley, protested cuts to social, elder and disability services at a “People’s Day of Reckoning” rally outside Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s state office in San Francisco on June 23, urging the legislature to include revenues in California’s budget solution.  

“We are very grateful the injunction went through,” said Gina Sasso of Berkeley’s Easy Does It, which provides 24-hour emergency services to disabled residents with city funding. “It gives our clients a chance to still get their services; otherwise there would have been a major crisis. People deserve to live in their homes. They shouldn’t be forced to go to institutions and nursing homes.” 

Sasso said that if the state had imposed the cuts next month, fixed-income residents would no longer have been able to afford their personal attendants, and hundreds would have had to turn to Easy Does It for emergency help. 

“It would have been a scary situation,” she said. “The quality of services would have gone down.” 

Nick Feldman, owner and founder of Berkeley’s Dare to Dream Attendant Services, said he was delighted with the news. 

“It means that the judicial system in California has a strong value to help people with disabilities to remain in their homes,” said Feldman, 34, who has had cerebral palsy since birth. “The decision upholds federal law, that disabled people have the right to live in their own home with assistance for as long as they are living.” 

At Monday’s hearing of the class action lawsuit, V.L. v. Wagner, Judge Wilkins said that the state’s Functional Index rankings were not need-based, that essential services could be withdrawn arbitrarily, and “people could lose something irreplaceable—the ability to remain safely in their homes.” 

She ruled against all IHSS cuts , as requested by people who use IHSS and local unions, saying that the plaintiffs could show at trial that the service cuts enacted in the recent state budget violated federal law. 

Approximately 40,000 low-income seniors statewide and people with disabilities would have lost all their IHSS services, including personal care. An additional 90,000 statewide would have lost services such as meal preparation, food shopping and help with laundry and housecleaning. 

“We are convinced a humanitarian disaster would have resulted from the precipitous and arbitrary withdrawal of essential services and are delighted that the court agreed with us,” said lead counsel Melinda Bird of Disability Rights California.  

Bird said the defendants, the director of the California Department of Social Services and the director of the California Department of Health Care Services, would appeal the injunction in court. 

“Our focus will be on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal,” she said. “We think the defendants will argue that the cuts they have made are reasonable.” 

Calls to the departments’ legal divisions for comment were not returned by press time. 

Bird said that the injunction would stay in effect till there was a judgment or resolution in the case, which she said usually took six months or longer. 

The next hearing is scheduled for 2010. 








UC Week of Action Begins

By Richard Brenneman
Thursday October 22, 2009 - 09:15:00 AM

A week of major events focusing on the crisis in California education kicks off Saturday with a daylong event, the Statewide Mobilizing Conference for Higher Education. 

The gathering is the first major public action to emerge from the massive Sept. 24 protest in Sproul Plaza, the largest campus demonstration since the Vietnam War. At a general assembly meeting that night, students voted to hold a conference on the crisis in California public education a month later. 

The session will focus on refining the campaign to gather broad public support for financial funding reforms to support all public education in the state. 

Saturday’s gathering kicks off a series of events dubbed Another Week of Higher Education, headlined by an appearance Tuesday night by best-selling author Naomi Klein, who will speak on “The Shock Doctrine: California Style.” 

Klein’s address begins at 8 p.m. in the MLK Student Union’s Pauley Ballroom. Tickets, which are free, may be picked up at the door starting at 6:30 p.m. 

Sponsors of three legislative reforms designed to restore funding to California’s public institutions will speak during a Monday teach-in from 4 to 7 p.m., also in the ballroom. 

State Assembly Majority Leader Alberto Torrico, D-Fremont, is the author of Assembly Bill 656, which proposes to fund higher education with $1 billion raised from a 9.9 percent tax on oil extracted from California’s land and water, a method already being used in Texas. 

San Francisco County Assessor-Recorder Phil Ting is sponsoring a petition drive to reform Proposition 13, which has been called the “third rail of California politics.” The 1978 ballot initiative capped property taxes in the state and limits annual assessment increases to 2 percent. Ting proposes to remove the proposition’s protections of commercial property, while retaining the measure’s benefits for homeowners.  

UC Berkeley linguistics professor George Lakoff is sponsoring a referendum proposal that would modify another Proposition 13 provision, which mandates a two-thirds legislative vote on any new state taxes and a two-thirds voter mandate for any new local property taxes.  

Lakoff’s one-sentence proposal reads simply, “All legislative actions based on revenue and budget shall be determined by majority rule.” 

Other speakers include local Assemblymember Nancy Skinner, UC San Francisco medical professor and budget reform activist Stanton Glantz, UC Riverside ethnic studies professor Janya Brown, UC Berkeley city and regional planning professor Ananya Roy and Associated Students of the University of California senator Ariel Boone. 

Wednesday night brings Robert Cohen and a panel who will discuss his just-published book Freedom’s Orator, a biography of Mario Savio, the seminal figure in Berkeley’s’ Free Speech Movement of the early 1960s. (See page 13 in this edition of the Planet for a review of the book.) 

Among those on the panel for the event, which begins at 5 p.m. in the Moffitt Library’s Free Speech Movement Cafe is Lynn Hollander, the late activist’s spouse and chair of the Mario Savio Memorial Lecture & Young Activist Award. 

Thursday’s three-hour program at the Bancroft Hotel, 2680 Bancroft Way, features USC professor Ruthie Gilmore, Distinguished Lecturer for UC Berkeley’s Center for Race and Gender, speaking on “Life in Hell, or How Capitalism Saving Capitalism Should Fire Our Imagination.” 

The program is scheduled for 5 to 8 p.m., and the event is open to the public. 

Capping the week’s activities is the Nov. 2 “Day of the Dead” protest from noon to 1 p.m., to be held at Sproul Plaza and other campus venues. 

The event takes its name from the traditional Latino holiday by way of UC President Mark Yudof’s Sept. 27 New York Times profile, where he declared that “being president of the University of California is like being manager of a cemetery: there are many people under you, but no one is listening.” 

UC Berkeley union members will be joining the protest, which is cosponsored by the Center for Latino Policy Research, the Comparative Ethnic Studies Program and the Solidarity Alliance, the group that organized the Sept. 24 protest. 

The wave of activism was sparked by the proposal by the UC Board of Regents to implement fee hikes that, in conjunction with other increases passed earlier in the year, would raise the fee total to more than $10,000 a year—or more than 44 percent over the amount students were paying two years ago. 

For updates, see the Solidarity Alliance website, http://www.uc solidarity.org/

Lab Bus Drivers in Danger of Losing Contract

By Richard Brenneman
Thursday October 22, 2009 - 12:31:00 PM

Bus drivers employed at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory protest a lab plan Monday to outsource their jobs to private contractors.

Nader, Students Hold Second Teach-In

By Richard Brenneman
Thursday October 22, 2009 - 09:15:00 AM
Anthropology professor Laura Nader addressed UC Berkeley students during a teach-in Friday at Tolman Hall.
By Richard Brenneman
Anthropology professor Laura Nader addressed UC Berkeley students during a teach-in Friday at Tolman Hall.

UC Berkeley students held a second teach-in on Friday, protesting budget cuts, staff reductions and the increasing dependence of public education on corporate funds. 

About three dozen students gathered in Tolman Hall’s Education and Psychology Library for an action on the University of California budget crisis, with Anthropology Professor Laura Nader providing the keynote address. 

The turnout was smaller and the event shorter than the Oct. 9 all-night event at the Kroeber Hall Anthropology Library, perhaps because one of the key reasons for the teach-in had been resolved, at least for the moment. 

Thanks to gifts from alumni and parents of current students, the university has promised to restore normal library hours after cutbacks and weekend closings had been implemented as a cost-cutting measure in response to the state budget crisis.  

Nader, now in her 49th year of teaching at UC Berkeley, urged the student activists to be patient—“Americans are used to making these marches and strikes and thinking doing it once will accomplish the result,” she said—and to recognize that the struggle is part of a larger fight to determine “whether we are to be a plutocracy or a democracy.” 

Nader reminded the students that it was alumni and not the university and its administrators who had given the funds to allow the libraries to maintain normal hours, adding, “Thank goodness we have some alums who have their priorities straight.” 

Nader put the crisis of the university into a larger context. College education is considered a right in many nations, but, she said, “not here, in the richest country in the world, a country which is spending trillions on war, and not a defensive war. And look at the billions we are spending in California on prisons.” 

She also criticized the university’s football program and intercollegiate sports in general, which she said had amassed a $158 million debt, “as far as we can determine from the numbers.” 

She urged the university to follow the example of Robert Maynard Hutchins, who abolished intercollegiate athletics during his tenure at the University of Chicago. Nader said half of UC Berkeley’s football players fail to graduate.  

The anthropologist also decried the diminishing role of the Academic Senate in campus decisions, recalling that when she joined the university in 1960, “you could not hold classes when the Academic Senate was meeting.” 

She also urged alumni to organize more effectively on behalf of the school, citing the example of Yale alumni who have been organizing an alternative alumni association because the existing association “is now under the administration.” 

“There is also the problem of words and deeds,” she said. “I was raised in a house where words and deeds had to go together. But now we live in a world where people say ‘Hope, hope; change, change’ and think they’ve got it done. And the people most susceptible to this are college graduates.” 

Akash Desai, a graduate student in environmental engineering, helped organize Friday’s event. 

“As a first year graduate student, you’re pretty much on your own for funding,” he said, explaining that grants and other resources become more available in later years of study. “I took out a loan to pay for my fees this year, and now it looks like I’ll have to take out another one. And even if you’re well off, the general character of the university is being endangered by increasing privatization.”  

UC’s Board of Regents will in November vote on a proposed 32 percent fee increase for students, which would bring annual fees for students to more than $10,000 for the first time in the university’s history. 

Desai said he and other organizers “believe that education should be a social right, and access shouldn’t be limited to people who can afford it.”  

Dan Nemser, a sixth-year graduate student in Spanish, agreed. 

“I was inspired by the success of the Sept. 24 march and rally to continue with direct action in support of public access to education,” he said, referring to a demonstration that brought more than 5,000 students, faculty and campus workers to Sproul Plaza for the largest campus protest since the Vietnam War. 

Nemser said students also want “to shine a light on the way the Berkeley administration and the university’s Office of the President are handling the crisis. Professor Meister’s report is a direct indictment of the way (UC President Mark) Yudof is mishandling university finances.” 

Robert Meister, president of the Council of UC Faculty Associations, is the author of “They Pledged Your Tuition to Wall Street,” a 12-page report which alleges that regents are hiking fees specifically to raise the ratings on UC bond issues and to bankroll the system’s extensive building program. 

The report is available online at http://keepcaliforniaspromise.org/?p=383

Berkeley High Forms Equity Group to Address Racism

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday October 22, 2009 - 09:16:00 AM

Berkeley High School took a first step to address campus racism Tuesday. 

A group of 30 school administrators, parents, teachers and students met as part of an Equity Committee for the first time since June, when the campus erupted with racial tension from derogatory remarks aimed at black students and teachers on the social networking site Facebook just weeks before graduation. 

Although Berkeley High School officials admitted that the incident, involving about 15 white Berkeley High students posting demeaning pictures of African- Americans under an album titled “Niggas,” and a Photoshopped picture of a black Berkeley High faculty member in chains on the Internet, was not an isolated episode, they denied that rampant racism existed on campus. 

“Racism is a part of every urban high school campus,” Berkeley High Principal Jim Slemp told the Planet during an interview at his office Tuesday. “People have a right to put what they want on Facebook, but when it becomes disruptive for the campus, then it’s going too far.” 

In June, a group of Berkeley High students—mainly members of the school’s Black Student Union—decided to walk out of class to protest the Facebook incident, and even rallied at a Berkeley Board of Education meeting, demanding that African-American Studies classes be made a graduation requirement and that an ethnically diverse student panel be placed in charge of hiring more teachers of color. 

At least two of the young men involved in the Facebook incident were suspended from school, and, although the school considered expelling one of them, it later decided against doing so. After consulting with Slemp, one of the students involved in the incident decided not to speak at the graduation ceremony. 

Slemp said he decided to form an Equity Committee right after the Facebook incident, to provide a safe place for families—especially black and Latino parents—to talk about their concerns. 

Although Berkeley High, which prides itself on student diversity, has a number of different committees on campus to address everything ranging from school governance to safety to the senior prom, Slemp said there had been nothing dedicated entirely to addressing equity. 

“It will be a voice that will help us make decisions from the point of view of equity,” he said of the committee. “There were a lot of folks in the community who wanted to get involved, and we took them all on board.” 

The group will have no decision-making power and will act simply as an advisory body. It will meet once a month, and all meetings, which will be convened by Slemp, will be open to the public. 

The committee will focus on student data, to get a better grasp of the issues involved, which Slemp said was on a par with the work being done on the 2020 Vision, a citywide effort to close the achievement gap in the Berkeley public schools. 

“It will be a watchdog group,” said Slemp. “There’s just one thing we ask—that is, if anyone has a concern about a specific child, they should not mention any names in public.” 

When asked whether the school had placed any restrictions on how students should behave on Facebook or other forms of social media such as MySpace or Twitter to avoid further racial harassment, Slemp said it had not. 

“It’s important to protect children’s free speech rights,” he said. “We can’t control what they do on Facebook. But my suggestion to them is ‘be careful of what you put up there.’ Businesses are checking back sites before hiring anyone these days, so students should understand the implications of harassing other people.” 

Slemp said the committee was so informal at this point that nobody on the School Board had been notified about it yet. 

“I am glad the school is doing something,” said School Board Member John Selawsky when the Planet informed him about the new committee. “I am not sure whether what happened was meant to be malicious, cruel or just a prank, but it was mean-spirited and ugly. This notion that Facebook is a private thing, that nobody can see it, is stupid. Students should know that the whole world can see it.” 

Berkeley High alumnus Assata Harris, who took part in the student protests in June, said that, although things had “simmered down quite a bit,” racism would always exist at the school. 

“If you look at the history of Berkeley High School, racism comes in tides and last year we got hit with a wave,” Harris said in an e-mail message to the Planet. “This shows every white student who dares to be prejudiced that they can get away because of their white privilege. It’s sad to me how people think Berkeley is liberal when it’s just the biggest excuse for covert racism.” 

Berkeley High Black Student Union President and Equity Committee member Raymok Ketema said that, although racial tensions at Berkeley High were not as bad as they were in public schools in other states, racism lurked in hallways, corridors, stairwells and even classrooms. 

“In my AP class, I am the only black girl,” she said. “It’s difficult to be in an AP class when there’s no one else who looks like you. You have to try a bit harder to prove to the teacher that you actually deserve to be there.”

Tests Rule Out Dredge Spoil Use at Aquatic Park

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday October 22, 2009 - 09:17:00 AM

After nearly two years, the mounds of dredge spoils dotting Berkeley Aquatic Park’s western shoreline might finally be removed, if a report by the Berkeley Public Works Department is anything to go by. 

Initial test results have ruled out their reuse inside the park. 

In Nov. 2007, Public Works illegally dredged the Aquatic Park lagoon and dumped 30 truckloads of spoils on a popular birdwatching and bird-foraging site, angering environmentalists—including the Sierra Club—and park regulars who were concerned about toxicity levels. 

Since then, passengers taking I-80 may have noticed the tarpaulin-covered eyesores and dismissed them as construction rubble or garbage. 

Public Works officials submitted a revised dredging plan to the City Council in February 2008. They said they would ask the regional water board and related agencies for the correct permits to dredge the lagoon to clean the five tidal tubes that connect the lagoon to the bay, to improve water flow, but first they would have to figure out whether the spoils could be reused in the park. 

Public Works staff subsequently told the City Council that they were recommending that the spoils not be used on the site but instead be taken to a dumping site. 

In June 2008, the Berkeley City Council asked city staff to conduct additional tests to see if the spoils could be reused in the fill areas designated in the Aquatic Park Improvement Plan. 

An Oct. 13, 2009, report to the City Council by city Public Works Director Claudette Ford said the spoils have to meet the standards for wetland reuse—which are considerably higher than those for other purposes—as mandated by the Regional Water Quality Control Board, before they can be reused at Aquatic Park. 

The water board recommended a three-tier testing approach to determine the soil’s environmental risk assessment, which Ford described as “quite rigorous and extremely costly.” 

At least four of the first batch of test results for chemical concentration were above the maximum acceptable San Francisco Bay ambient levels, according to Ford’s report, eliminating the need for the next two steps. 

Public Works Supervising Civil Engineer Lorin Jensen told the Planet that specifics of the test results have not been released to the public yet. 

Ford’s report said that “the material is unsuitable for reuse at the park,” and it is unlikely that the water board will determine otherwise. 

Ford contended that, because the test results were above the accepted San Francisco Bay ambient levels, it would be too expensive to do the other tests, since the water board has the final say and it uses ambient levels as the main criterion for determining suitability. 

Water Resources Control Engineer Brian Wines, who handles dredging permits at the regional level, said the test results had not been submitted to the water board yet. 

Wines said that, although the agency placed a lot of importance on ambient levels, “it reviewed each level of exceedance” before passing a verdict. 

Public Works officials are in the process of performing additional tests to determine the appropriate disposal classification and location for off-site disposal. 

Ford said that the cost of hauling and disposing of the spoils could vary greatly and would depend on the results of the tests. 

She added that the cost of disposal would probably be higher than the cost of reuse. Earlier estimates put that cost at $210,000. The report said that the city would try to finish disposing of the spoils before the start of the wet weather season. 

Bear’s Lair Food Vendor Gets Extension

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday October 22, 2009 - 09:18:00 AM

The Bear’s Lair food court vendor who refused to accept UC Berkeley’s hefty rent increase and was planning to quit in December has been given a lease extension. 

The Planet reported on July 16 that, when the university’s Associated Students of the University of California Auxiliary (the administrative arm of the student union) Store Operations Board proposed a new contract last summer with plans to revitalize Lower Sproul Plaza, they were met with opposition from two of the three food vendors at the Bear’s Lair. 

While both Healthy Heavenly Foods and Tacqueria Tacontento said they would not be able to afford the conditions on the new contract—including double the rent they were currently paying for their space, upgrades to their restaurants and sharing a percentage of their profit with the ASUC Auxiliary, which is in the middle of a financial crisis—tacqueria owner Arnoldo Marquez relented and accepted the terms in July, although he has yet to sign off on them. 

All three vendors are operating on expired leases. Ann Vu of Healthy Heavenly Foods, who has been at the Bear’s Lair for two decades, said she would not be able to pay the $4,452 rent per month. 

Students and community members stepped in to support her, but their intervention was not enough to change the board’s mind—ASUC decided it was time for a new lease that reflected current market rental rates. 

Vu was getting ready to pack up and leave in two months when she got a piece of good news. 

She received a visit last week from ASUC Auxiliary Director Dr. Nadesan Permaul, who told her that the Store Operations Board had extended her stay until May, because it was taking longer than expected to obtain a new tenant. 

Store Operations Board Chair Nish Rajan told the Planet that a formal request for proposals was taking longer than the board had expected. 

“We are working on developing a timeline on getting bids so that we can begin negotiations,” said Rajan, who is pursuing his Ph.D. at the Haas School of Business. “We can’t just plug in someone in December.” 

He said that, although it was difficult to gauge the “full scope of interest in the space,” a few individuals had already expressed interest in the location. 

Vu said that, although she was happy with her extension, she felt that the Store Operations Board was still treating her unfairly over the contract. 

“Business right now is very slow—students don’t buy food as much as before,” Vu said Tuesday, as she helped her customers. “I am making less than I used to—where will I get more money to pay higher rent?” 

UC Berkeley junior Chanel Adikuono, buying a Vietnamese chicken rice bowl from Vu’s food stall Monday, said she was glad to hear about the extension. 

“I was really sad that she was leaving,” Adikuono said. “Where else can you find cheap, fresh food like this these days?” 

Taqueria owner Marquez said he wanted a longer lease and fair rent and was considering consulting a lawyer before signing the contract. He said his business had suffered a 30 percent loss this year. 

Both restaurants had increased food prices to keep up with inflation rates. “The way they are increasing the rent, we might have to increase the price even more,” Marquez said. 

In addition to the Bear’s Lair food court, various other locations on campus are also initiating RFPs to attract suitable tenants to get more student traffic, Rajan said. Tully’s Coffee and Naia Gelateria—which has converted half its space into a sushi restaurant—have both opened up shop at the university in recent months. 

Rajan said that, although the ASUC Auxiliary has come out of debt, it was still facing a tough time. 

“We cannot spend as much as we were,” he said, adding that the $100 million Lower Sproul Plaza Redevelopment would be possible only with the help of student fees. 

Rajan said that the ASUC would be voting on a student fee hike in the coming weeks. 

Mysterious Explosion Rattles Residential Street

Bay City News
Thursday October 22, 2009 - 09:21:00 AM

Berkeley police and fire officials are investigating an explosion a few blocks from the UC Berkeley campus Tuesday night. 

Neighbors called police at about 10:12 p.m. reporting an explosion that “set off car alarms and rattled windows,” Lt. Diane Delaney said. 

No one was injured in the blast, which occurred near Blake Street and Chilton Way, she said. Officers found a plastic jug containing some powder at the site. 

The Berkeley Fire Department’s hazardous materials team responded, along with the Police Department’s bomb disposal team. Investigators did not find anything else in the area, Delaney said. Teams took samples, cleaned up the area and are investigating the incident. 

Delaney said she did not have any details on what the substance might be, except that it was not hazardous to the officers who arrived to contain it. 


Energy Department Appeals Defeat in Computer Lab Lawsuit

By Richard Brenneman
Thursday October 22, 2009 - 09:23:00 AM

The battle over the supercomputing lab planned for Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) shifted to a new venue Friday: the U.S. Court of Appeals. 

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) filed an appeal from the ruling of U.S. District Court Judge William Alsup, who upheld the claims of Berkeley activists charging that the UC Board of Regents had erroneously approved the $133 million building project without conducting a federal environmental review. 

Alameda environmental attorney Michael Lozeau filed the original challenge on behalf of Save Strawberry Canyon, a coalition whose members include Berkeley resident Sylvia McLaughlin, co-founder of Save the Bay, Lesley Emmington, Janice Thomas and Hank Gehman. 

The lab conducted a review of the project under provisions of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) but did not conduct a similar review conforming to the requirements of the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA). 

The original suit named the DOE, LBNL officials and the UC Board of Regents as defendants. Only the DOE is appealing Judge Alsup’s ruling, since the time for final appeals also ended with the close of business Friday. 

While lab officials told the public and Berkeley planning commissioners during the CEQA-mandated hearings that the lab would host the National Energy Research Computing Center, a federal supercomputing facility, their attorneys argued during the court case that the building “was, and is, not the Department of Energy’s action.” 

Lab attorneys said there was no guarantee the DOE would use the facility for its computing center, therefore no federal environmental review was required.  

Alsup ruled that he had found “serious questions going to the merits of [Save Strawberry Canyon’s] claim that the project is a major federal action.” 

The appeal was filed by two U.S. Department of Justice attorneys, Barclay T. Samford and Peter C. Whitfield, on behalf of the DOE. 

Their notice of appeal did not cite specific reasons for challenging Judge Alsup’s summary judgment, which handed an unqualified victory to the environmentalists. 

The proposed lab would be built near the lab’s Blackberry Gate, located at the lab complex. 

The university’s plans to build a second lab overlooking Strawberry Canyon have also been shelved, with a new lab to create fuels from crops moving to downtown Berkeley at the site of the old California Department of Health Services building west of campus between Berkeley Way and Hearst Avenue. 

A second, smaller lab focusing on photovoltaic and electrochemical power generation will be located on the LBNL campus at a site yet to be determined, lab officials said.

Roy Speaks Out on Fernandez’ Exit

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Thursday October 22, 2009 - 09:24:00 AM

Retired Oakland architect Joyce Roy is a public transit advocate who was one of the first, and most vocal, opponents of AC Transit’s Van Hool buses. A year ago, she ran unsuccessfully for the AC Transit Board against at-large board member Chris Peeples.  

Roy has clashed frequently with the district’s general manager, Rick Fernandez, and bad feelings between them have grown so great that, in recent months, when Roy has come to the microphone at district board meetings to talk during public comment period, Fernandez has pointedly left the room until she finished speaking. 

This week, the Berkeley Daily Planet talked with Roy about the district’s sudden turnaround on the Van Hool buses and Fernandez’ resignation as AC Transit’s general manager. 


Q. What are your thoughts about AC Transit’s new “Buy America” policy? 

A. Why did it take them so long? It was so obvious that Van Hools were lousy buses, and they were being pushed by Rick Fernandez. Only when you discover that the cost of their maintenance is greater than older American buses’, then it’s money, and people perk up and say, “Oh, it’s costing us a lot.” But it’s not important that seniors find [Van Hools] difficult and drivers complain. But when it comes to dollars and cents, they finally wake up. 


Q. Do you believe, then, that the “Buy America” policy that was just passed by the board was directed at Van Hool, even though Van Hool was never mentioned in the resolution? 

A. Oh, yes. The board had discovered earlier that their maintenance costs were much higher than older American buses’. And usually [the Van Hool buses] cost more. 


Q. That report on the maintenance costs was released only a couple of weeks ago? 

A. Yes, but it’s really only an incomplete report. It just means that the cost of parts for Van Hools are much higher than the older American buses’. But the complete report, which will come out later, will take into account labor costs and how long a bus sits around in a yard. The rumor is that Van Hools sit around three months waiting for parts. 


Q. What’s your opinion on the resignation of Rick Fernandez? 

A. My opinion is, it should have happened about nine years ago. 


Q. Do you think he actually resigned or he was forced out? 

A. Oh, he was forced to resign. Because if he didn’t, he knew he was going to be fired, and he would have less retirement and this and that. 


Q. Why do you think that he was forced out? 

A. I think the board felt betrayed. With the Van Hool buses, [Fernandez] used to say that, well, riders don’t like them and drivers don’t like them, but they’re mechanically superior to American buses. And I think the board felt betrayed by that. 


Q. So you think it was the release of the information on the higher maintenance costs that was the trigger? 

A. Yes. And also, they have terrible financial problems. And in fact, insiders tell me that the financial situation [at AC Transit] is even worse than we know about what’s going on with the finances. So they had to get rid of him. 


Q. Were you surprised at all by the sudden decision to risk the Bus Rapid Transit proposal in order to stave off the service cuts? 

A. No, not really. I think AC Transit’s a little halfhearted about BRT, and I think now that it’s not going to happen. 

Partisan Position: Confronting the Threats Facing Point Isabel, Hoffman Marsh

By Eleanor Yukic
Thursday October 22, 2009 - 09:14:00 AM
A pair of unleashed pooches take in the fine weather at Point Isabel.
By Marla Miyashiro
A pair of unleashed pooches take in the fine weather at Point Isabel.

Point Isabel Regional Shoreline Park is a jewel on the shoreline of the East Bay city of Richmond, with a riveting view of the Golden Gate Bridge, Mount Tamalpais and San Francisco. To the east, it is bordered by the Bay Trail and the Hoffman Marsh, a protected preserve for thousands of migrating birds.  

Although the park is usually referred to as the “Dog Park,” it is multi-purpose: windsurfers, fishermen, bird-watchers, bicyclists, roller skaters, hikers, children at play, senior citizens meeting friends and enjoying the views along with canine owners recreating with their pets can all be seen as part of the Point Isabel community. 

Many individuals have worked for over 30 years to help establish the park, to maintain it and to protect its natural environment and wild life. PIDO, Point Isabel Dog Owners, sponsors a monthly cleanup on the third Sunday of every month to pick up litter and debris and any dog poop overlooked by owners. 

Recently, the organization has begun a weed-pulling project on the first Saturday of the month to cut down on, and hopefully eliminate, the use of herbicides or pesticides at Point Isabel. 

The proposed Draft Richmond General Plan calls for the re-zoning of Point Isabel from Lt. Industrial (low-intensity uses) to a Regional Commercial Mixed-Use District (high-intensity uses).  

This is a major land-use change that allows building big box stores, banks, chain restaurants, entertainment, upper-floor apartments or condos to take advantage of views, as well as other inappropriate commercial uses, for the Point Isabel Shoreline area.  

This re-zoning would effectively commercialize the area and dramatically increase and complicate traffic patterns on Central Avenue, a highly congested area. PIDO, the Richmond Annex Neighborhood Council (RANC), the Sierra Club, the Audubon Society and CESP (Citizens for East Shore Parks) are all against the proposed re-zoning.  

The increase in traffic and shoppers would be detrimental to the bird population. Noise and lights at night would provide predators with the opportunity to destroy nesting birds in the Hoffman Marsh. 

The East Bay is a densely populated urban area. Open spaces and places where citizens can go to recreate and commune with nature are critical to the health of the population. Point Isabel is such a place. It is essential to the health of humans, the birds and other park wild life that this area remains free from heavy commercialization.  

Citizens unable to afford visits to a more exotic recreational place have easy access to Point Isabel for fun and spiritual renewal. It’s also a safe place for seniors. Further development will destroy its tranquility, and the impact of additional traffic will inhibit the use of the park for many visitors and injure or drive away the birds of the Hoffman Marsh and the Albany Wetlands. 

Central Avenue is the sole access road in and out of the area. Traffic is already a problem, especially on weekends, and in the event of a catastrophe such as an earthquake, a fire, or a terrorist attack, there is no way to re-route cars. This could be a terrible disaster. 

It is truly unfortunate that no one could foresee that the entire point should have been kept solely for recreation. Costco and the bulk mailing facilities should never have been permitted to move in there. In 2008 Kohl’s Department Store asked for a re-zoning so that they could build a 98,000-square-foot store with 400 parking places on the property between Rydin Way and Costco.  

The 4,500 members of PIDO and the 1.3 million yearly visitors to the park along with RANC, the Sierra Club and the Audubon Society collected signatures on petitions and bombarded the City of Richmond’s Planning Commission with letters and e-mails to protest this plan. Ideally that parcel of land could be turned into an ecology/ nature facility with meeting rooms and halls available for use by teenagers, senior citizens and other community groups. Kohl’s backed out of the proposal and it was called a dead deal. 

However, after investigating Contra Costa County Tax Collector records, PIDO was shocked to learn that Kohl’s holds a lease on this property for the next 20 years. Apparently it is NOT a dead issue. This suggests a backroom deal for this re-zoning so that a Kohl’s can ultimately be built there. Other more suitable places exist for a Kohl’s department store—Hilltop Mall, next to the Target on MacDonald Avenue or as part of the Casino enterprise planned for Point Molate. 

Kohl’s corporate headquarters is in Wisconsin. How would the citizens of Wisconsin feel if a group of entrepreneurs from California decided to build a box store on a favorite recreational spot on Green Bay, Lake Superior or Lake Michigan? 

The people spoke loudly and clearly at the recent study session held on Oct. 1 by the Richmond Planning Commission They do not want Point Isabel re-zoned. Since we are living in a democracy, the will of the people should be followed, which means no re-zoning of Point Isabel.  

This proposal must be eliminated from the Richmond Draft General Plan. The City of Richmond has a responsibility to preserve the shoreline for future generations and to protect the environment and its wild creatures. 


Eleanor Yukic is a retired teacher, PIDO Board member and past president of the organization.    



Reporting on the State of the Planet

By Becky O'Malley
Thursday October 22, 2009 - 09:31:00 AM

The folks who showed up for the first-ever Planet supporters’ picnic in September have been waiting until now for a followup report on the event. We invited all of the approximately 500 people who have already contributed to the financial support of the paper, and more than 10 percent of them—50 lively souls—showed up to share food and their thoughts about the future.  

For those of you who have never organized an event on behalf of a cause or a candidate, that is a remarkable turnout—a 2 percent response to a mailing is considered good. 

The people who came were notable for their political diversity—people one could never imagine sitting together companionably at a table discussing strategies, and yet there they were, courteous and friendly, sitting in a circle on the grass and talking about their common belief in the need for a free press.  

There were too many interesting ideas put forward to list them all here. Some were easily implemented, and others seemed more speculative or perhaps impossible.  

Example: one young man, perhaps the youngest in a somewhat graying crowd, spoke passionately about the need for the community to “take ownership” of the paper from its current proprietors. His concept was getting nods of assent until the words “like KPFA” were spoken, and then there were groans, from those who knew more than they wanted to know from the KPFA experience about the difficulties of shared governance, as appealing as it is in principle.  

Berkeley’s several longstanding worker-run organizations (Inkworks, the Cheeseboard, Nabolom and others) were advanced as more hopeful models. Non-profit status was discussed, but most speakers recognized that the money to pay for reporting would still have to come from somewhere. 

Many simply volunteered to do “anything” to help the paper survive, which was immensely heartening but also daunting—organizing such a flood of enthusiasm is no easy task.  

One practical suggestion came from a man who has spearheaded several successful political efforts since moving to Berkeley when he retired a couple of years ago. He said that he’d found that it was good to take advantage of already existing and successful organizations to support new projects, so he recommended that Planet supporters should work within groups they’re part of to raise money for the paper with special events.  

And it’s happening already. Bob Brokl and Al Crofts, who put on a bang-up Obama benefit last fall with their Artists for Change organization, have offered to do something similar for the Planet after the first of the year.  

It’s looking like it will be a Sunday early-evening party, with musical and literary entertainment, in late January. They’re looking for endorsing sponsors and for hands-on volunteers.  

That’s the good news this week. But, sad to say, there’s also bad news. Despite all the enthusiastic support we’ve gotten, reader contributions still haven’t broken the $50,000 mark, and advertising revues have fallen by 60 percent in the last few months.  

Print media nationwide watched $7.5 billion dollars of ad revenue disappear in 2008 alone, and unfortunately the BDP is not exempt from this trend.  

Times are tough for print media, for reasons as yet not fully understood. Part of the problem is often taken to be the Internet, but online advertising is also languishing everywhere. It’s not close to replacing the print advertising revenue which has evaporated. Even though printing and distributing a newpaper costs a bit, such advertisers as there are still prefer to see their ads in print, so abandoning the print version of the paper wouldn’t reduce our deficit. 

Advertisers, ours included, are suffering badly in this economy. The owner of a very well established high-end retail business told us her sales are the worst she’s seen in 30 years in Berkeley. Advertising should be an obvious solution for lagging sales, but when paying the rent is an issue small businesses have trouble affording ads.  

So we’ve had to make some very hard choices. We’ve already reduced the number of sales and editorial staff positions by attrition, and now there’s nothing left to do but lay off members of the salaried newsroom reporting staff. We’ve put this off as long as possible, but we can’t avoid it any longer. We’re not alone—on Monday the New York Times laid off another 100 people in their newsroom. 

So it is with very heavy hearts that we have decided to convert most of our news reporting to freelance work which can be adjusted regularly to meet current revenues. This decision affects two of our senior reporters most directly.  

Both Richard Brenneman and J. Douglas Allen-Taylor have done a great deal of very fine work for the Planet—we are justly proud of their accomplishments, and they should be too. It’s very painful to let them go, but we can’t afford three salaried staff positions any more. We’ve told them we’d be delighted to have both of them as freelance contributors, and we’re happy to report that Allen-Taylor has already opted to continue his UnderCurrents column on that basis. 

We’re making one more attempt to jumpstart our advertising sales effort, just in case the economy really is improving. We’re continuing to ask readers to support the paper by paying for it if they can—two dollars a copy from every reader would pay most of the bills.  

We’re putting newsracks with donation boxes in inside locations to make it easy. The free outside boxes are still there, and circulation in the form of reader pickup continues to climb.  

We’ve persuaded our former managing editor, Michael Howerton, to return to the paper wearing an entirely different hat, as Associate Publisher. He knows and loves the East Bay and the paper, so he should be able to make a difference in this job. He’ll make sure that the best ideas about distribution, ad sales and reader support are implemented. 

Without the full complement of staff reporters, we will need to rely even more than we do now on our readers to let the public know what’s going on. Taking a leaf from the playbook of web-based news sites, we’ve opened the new Partisan Position designation for articles written by people involved in newsworthy issues, hoping they will be able provide truthful though not-quite-impartial reports. Our opinion pages remain open to all points of view.  

Now more than ever we need readers to contribute whatever they can, whether it’s money or work, to help keep us afloat as long as possible. A good place to start would be joining Bob and Al in working on the January benefit. They can be reached via benefit@berkeleydailyplanet.com and by leaving a message at the Planet office (841-5600). 

Or just follow their example and make up your own event. Everything helps—as trendy people seem to be saying lately, it’s all good. 


Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

Thursday October 22, 2009 - 09:32:00 AM

Animal Shelter 

Editors, Daily Planet:  

I concur wholeheartedly with Jill Posener, “Animal Shelter: Still A Doggone Dilemma” Oct. 15, that the current design for Berkeley’s new animal shelter is deeply flawed. In my view, the design process should be terminated and new site chosen. Nearly all of the major flaws in the design are a direct result of flaws of the site, including the tiny footprint and extremely close proximity to the University Avenue off-ramp from I-80. 

I attended several Humane Commission meetings for the design review and quickly grew dismayed that the project manager was attempting to push the design through with major flaws that will be detrimental to the well-being of animals in the shelter. The review process was flawed as well; little public participation was actively solicited. Many volunteers for the animal shelter, who should be considered significant stakeholders in the design of a new shelter, did not even know that a site had been selected and a design advanced to review phase. At these review sessions, the design began to be presented as inevitable so that the construction phase could begin, even though the design was known to have major flaws, including having fewer dog kennels than the current shelter. 

In my view, the process should be stopped and the site decision revisited. The most important thing is to get an excellent shelter, one that Berkeley can live with for quite a long time, one that is in almost every way better or much better than the existing shelter. The current design and site does not qualify, in spite of the fact that most of the people involved in the site selection and design process are deeply committed and passionate about animal welfare. 

Citizens of Berkeley expressed their concern for animals with their remarkable choice to fund a new animal shelter. It will be unfortunate to use their money to build a shelter as problematic as the current design. Berkeley should be a national leader in human and animal welfare, and should not build a second-rate shelter that will in some ways be inferior to the current shelter just because of an unfortunate choice of site. 

Kenneth Worthy 



Obama’s Nobel 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

You are entitled to your opinions, Ms. O’Malley and I tend to agree with you. But I disagree with what you say in this week’s editorial about Obama receiving the peace prize. 

I wasn’t a Hilary supporter. As a life-long, bleeding-heart liberal, I was thrilled to support and then vote for an African American for President. I think Obama’s single greatest contribution, throughout the rest of human history, will be the fact of his racial background. He broke barriers and inspired new dreams for people of color all over the planet. His election demonstrates to the world that, once in awhile, this country gets things right. Keep in mind that this country re-elected George W. Bush, knowing what he was doing to this country and the world. We don’t always get things right. 

Once I began to pay close attention to Obama, I disliked him. I don’t think he is very different. I think he skillfully used his race to position himself as something new and different but that, ultimately, he is all about maintaining empire. If you have any doubt, remember that he appointed Timothy Geithner and Larry Summers to critical economic policy positions. Or keep in mind that his stimulus package bailed out Wall Street, not Main Street. The guy is all about image control. 

I am sickened that he has received the Nobel Peace Prize on such a short record. It looks like the Nobel Prize Committee gave him extra points for being black, similar to how the University of California, and many other public universities, used to score black applications to the university with different standards than for other applicants. A person needs to do more than be black and say some good stuff to receive such a prestigious honor. 

After he took office, I tried to maintain hopeful expectations. But when I read that the Obama White House had scored a privte deal with drug companies related to health care reform, I lost faith in Obama. He is all about maintaining empire, mainstaining the status quo. He wants to keep the rich people who put him in office in power, maintain the capitalist, dominator empire.  

Paying some lip service to goals for peace is great. But talk is cheap. So far, Obama is all talk. I think he capitulates even easier than Clinton did and I loved Bill Clinton as President. 

I’m glad Obama got elected, given the other choice. I’m glad we have an African American as President. And I hope Obama turns out to be the man he promised us he would be when he sought our support. 

But he has done nothing to deserve that Peace Prize. Since you seem to have scanned many stories commenting about Obamah’s receipt of the prize, then you, like me, have read lists of some of the truly awesome work that was really and truly done, that yielded real results in the real world beyond lovely rhetoric, there are just too many deserving candidates for the prize to give it to the new kid on the black. It smacks of racial preference. It demeans the prize. It demeans Obama’s racial background. 

Let the guy do something before you give him a big prize. Having won the White House should be plenty at this point. 

Tree Fitzpatrick 



Downtown plan 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

  In the aftermath of the successful Downtown Berkeley Plan referendum petition campaign—recently certified by the Alameda County Registrar’s Office—it is important to acknowledge the significant role played by both the Green Party of Alameda County and the Berkeley Greens in the referendum campaign’s success. 

According to Greg Jan, a Green Party County (or Central) Council member, at least 60 local Green Party members actively participated in the referendum campaign over the summer, including those providing signature gathering, media outreach, and financial contributions among other activities. 

Several high profile elected Berkeley Green Party officials also provided their endorsements and energy to the referendum campaign, including: Rent Stabilization Board chair Lisa Stephens, former School Board president and current School Board Director John Selawsky, and Rent Board Commissioner Jesse Townley among other elected Green Party officials. 

The original Downtown Plan—before the Berkeley City Council voted to deform it beyond all recognition—was the culmination of literally hundreds of hours of committee and sub-committee meetings and discussions over a two year period by a citizen-appointed committee representing all downtown Berkeley viewpoints: adjacent neighborhoods, local environmental and public space advocates, the UC Berkeley administration, and the city’s business community. 

The final compromise draft that resulted from the above citizen committee participation was effectively ignored or voided by a majority of the City Council. This is the reason why the referendum campaign was launched in the first place. 

All of the community members and organizations involved with the successful referendum campaign—including the Green Party of Alameda County and its Berkeley Greens affiliate—deserve praise for their commitment and dedication to pursuing a grassroots, democratic response to the City Council’s egregious Downtown Plan decision. 

It is crucial to get the Berkeley Downtown Plan right. A future ballot measure giving Berkeley’s voters—not the pro-development members of the City Council—this democratic option is the right step in this direction. 

Chris Kavanagh 



double traffic fines 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Electric signs warning of doubled traffic fines on football game days made me curious about the law, so I searched the Berkeley Municipal Code published on the City of Berkeley web site as follows: double fines, double traffic fines, football game day traffic fines, football game day double traffic fines. The result for all of these searches is “Chapter 14.66, Double Fines.” That brief chapter says that doubled fines is not permitted after January 1, 2007. Here is the text of Chapter 14.66, extracted verbatim from the City web site: Chapter 14.66 (Ordinance No. 6,828-N.S., adopted Nov. 9, 2004) sunsets on Jan. 1, 2007, and as of that date is repealed. 

Chapter 14.66 seems to be the defense in court against tickets that exceed the normal fines for moving and parking violations on game days. 

Glen Kohler 


lack of bus shelters 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

I was driving south down San Pablo Ave. Monday in torrential rain when I noticed a lone man holding an umbrella waiting for a bus with no bus shelter to keep him protected from the rain. C’mon Berkeley! With all the money spent on roads, and asphalting, and our citizen’s obsession over fixing potholes—why is this poor guy standing in a furious downpour with nothing over his head? It makes me sick. Location of site: San Pablo, west side, a little north of Grayson Street. C’mon Berkeley! Work a little harder for those who aren’t as polluting and privileged as the rest. 

Ilona Sturm 



options for some at BHS 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

During my efforts to obtain a math choice for my daughter, as promised by AHA in their literature, web site and presentations, I discovered that a few people had already either been allowed to transfer out of AHA, or allowed to stay in AHA, while given an option to take an alternate math course. When I asked BHS officials about this, I was told everyone within AHA was required to enroll into IMP (Interactive Math Program), with no exceptions. The information regarding previous actions in this regard was deliberately withheld. I persisted, and to make a long story short, my daughter was recently offered an option to enroll in Honors Geometry. While I am happy that my daughter was finally given this option, this fact does not address the central issue at all. As far as I know, no options have been offered to all the other students and parents who are equally affected by the sudden denial of these options in math and that have been steadily seeking to obtain the same options for their children. 

BHS administration needs to own up to the mishandling of this issue and to do right thing by every single student and parent who thought they would have an option in math as promised. The way they have mismanaged this issue so far gives the impression of favoritism, which will only create additional controversy and deepen the anger parents already feel over this incident. The school should act without delay. I have filed a formal complaint on behalf of all the students who have been affected by this breach of contract. I urge all who are concerned to send a note to the BHS Principal and the School Board Members urging a swift, equitable resolution to this issue.  

Charles Bryant 



Tournadot in Beijing 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

I am responding to the recent article about the “lavish production” of Turandot at the Bird’s Nest Stadium in Beijing. I’m sure the production looked great from the floor where the very privileged were invited to sit, or paid hundreds of dollars to sit. For those of us, and the many Chinese people, who paid over 100 dollars to sit in the second tier it was abysmal. The sound quality was terrible, overwhelmingly loud considering you could not see anything. My companions could not even read the subtitles, they were so far away. Many near us were furious, because 100 dollars is a great deal of money for them. I paid for three friends to go and I felt I made a bad choice in how to honor them. 

Lynn Huntsinger 

El Cerrito 



Bhs Graduation 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

In the spring you presented a couple pieces concerning the controversy about the proposed charge to parents for extra tickets to attend the Berkeley High graduation ceremony. 

In both of these pieces it was mentioned that the expected cost of this ceremony would exceed $100,000. There were not many details describing the elements of this cost. 

  I am interested in this expenditure, and would like some details. I have sent an email request to the Public Information Office of the BUSD, and I have telephoned the business office. Nothing returned. 

Perhaps your clout could be applied to find out this information, and for you to present it to the public. 

  It may be that most people think this level of expenditure to be appropriate. I do not. However, it would be again appropriate to allow the public to see the facts. 

Transparency, I believe, is desirable. 

Bill McIntyre 



parking in ohlone park 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Why not park in the park?  

The need for parking is great right now and the need will even get greater in the future. Trader Joe’s is under construction now will be open this next fall. So, the need for additional nearby, parking two city blocks away calls for parking in the park. The park property I am talking about is a Ohlone Park on the northwest corner of Hearst and Martin Luther King Way directly across from the North Berkeley Senior Center. The North Berkeley Senior Center is the busiest of the three Berkeley senior centers from 150 to 200 seniors age 55 and older patronize the center five days a week, with a small group of seniors to meet there every other Saturday. The Berkeley Adult School holds classes at the center daily and the instructors have difficulty finding parking near that the center and have had to cancel classes due to no available parking. The center caters to 80 seniors who come to lunch daily and well over 100 seniors come to the center to enjoy birthday parties, celebrations and special holiday events. The center also hosts the Grey Panthers meeting on the fourth Wednesday of the month and at times the guest speakers have been as late as they have had difficulty finding parking.  

The senior center is also used by the city of Berkeley for community and commission meetings most evenings and parking is critical. On weekends residents hold their weddings parties and other private functions, and there is not enough parking to accommodate the participants. So, imagine what will happen to the meager parking in the area when Trader Joe’s opens next fall! Therefore I am beginning the discussion to solve the parking problem in this area with a win-win solution by proposing parking in the park! As we know, the city of Berkeley is currently considering the 2010-2011 budget and what better way to increase city revenue than by installing parking meters in Ohlone Park? I am aware that this proposal is controversial and an emotional topic for some but let’s begin the debate now! 

Nella Sorts 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The Oakland Trib, in reality the Contra Costa Times, ran an Oct. 16 story, whose byliner has a Mercury-News e-mail address, with the feel-good message that we’re getting a one-time PG&E refund. Whee. Well, not quite all of us, as it happens. I sent them this letter: 

Once again the conscientious and energy-efficient among us are getting the back of the hand from our local utility monopoly. 

  Once again, our local daily press monopoly is shoveling the utility’s PR at us unanalyzed. 

  The Oct. 16 headline “Refunds coming for PG&E customers” omitted the relevant adjective “some” after the first three words, although I suggest that “wealthier” or “more wasteful” would convey more truth. 

  Look: as a low-income, fixed-income person following every bit of energy-saving advice I hear of, I am not, and have not been, “insulated from recent rate hikes,” unless PG&E flack Eisenhauer’s definition of “insulated” bears no relationship to the utility’s own energy guidelines. 

  When the rates go up, the increase is right there on my bill. If I use the same amount of energy as the previous bill, my costs are still higher. As one of the large and growing group of ratepayers for whom this economic crisis spells harder, not easier, times, I’m not real happy with a utility management and a regulatory structure that make me subsidize folks with big, comfortable houses. 

  And we’re not real happy with media that treat PR fluff as if it were issue-free.  

M. Hall 



OBama is trying 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Imagine how much more President Obama could have gotten done if he didn’t have such a no-nothing congress. No one wants to transfer Guantanamo prisoners to their states although federal prisons are full of heinous criminals. No one wants to grant universal single payer health care to American citizens so something ridiculous has to be cobbled out of many stupid pieces of ridiculous legislation to satisfy Olympia Snowe. No one wants to stand up for bringing the troops home so likely as not the war in Afghanistan is going to be escalated and America will once again be mired in an unwinnable war. No one wants to raise taxes so money has to be borrowed to get out of this recession and everyone hates that. How can the president accomplish anything in the least bit idealistic and peaceful when he is thwarted at every turn. President Obama may not be perfect but he at least is trying, we haven’t seen that in eight years. And by the way the President has kept this country safe for one month longer than the previous one did. The Republicans act as if 9/11 didn’t happen on their watch. 

Constance Wiggins 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I’m going to continue to write variants of this letter until y’all get it. Contrary to widely held beliefs, the vast and overwhelming majority of men of color are not, repeat not criminals. 

The likelihood of your being mugged on Shattuck avenue in broad daylight are slim. This pathology of victimhood is venal fiction rooted in the primitive and discredited notion of white supremacy or more fittingly african savagery. Remember it wasn’t Africans who committed atrocities and genocide on six continents. It’s my duty to try to alleviate your stress so next time a guy approaches you on the street carrying a bag of groceries you don’t have to jump out of your skin. Thank you for your consideration. 

Zac Morrison 



Hippie radio 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Ahoy, listeners to morning media commentators—some of whom were mentioned in Becky’s editorial of Oct. 15th—I begin my weekday with 3 reality-check doses—at 7, 8, and 9—as provided by Travis T. Hipp on KPIG/1510-AM, the Bay Area’s radio gem. 

Thanks to a repeater tower in Piedmont, of all places, this wonderful country-rock/dusty-hippie station from Santa Cruz—actually Freedom, of all places—can be clearly heard up here. 

Travis has popped up here and there since his “Rawhide Reality Review” talk-show at KNEW/AM in the late 60s. He’s sardonic, pithy, almost leathery, and he knows before he speaks. 

But wait, there’s more: Jim Hightower makes an appearance at, oh, 7:30 a..m. And don’t forget the stock-market report at noon. 

Phil Allen  



disagreement in letters 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

As usual, in the Oct. 15 issue of the Planet, there are several letters demonizing Israel and people who support a Jewish state as well as twisting the truth to further their own misguided and dangerous agendas. Thank you for printing the letter from Rfael Moshe who points out that Fouda’s commentary from Oct. 8 is inaccurate and does little more than put forth his pro Palestinian ideologies. The letter from R Kanter is appalling in its absurdity. I have read and re-read Faith Meltzer’s letter from Oct. 1 and I do not see anything “rabid” in her statements and certainly nothing that even remotely justifies killing Palestinian children. Just the opposite in fact, Faith’s letter states: “Children should not be encouraged to participate in violence and acts of aggression. Unfortunately, until this practice is discontinued in places like Gaza, more children will die.” Faith’s statement reminds me of the well known quote by Golda Meir, “We can forgive the Arabs for killing our children, but we can never forgive them for making us kill their children.” 

And then there is Jim Harris’ so called facts concerning Olmert. He uses the pronoun “we” throughout his letter. Not sure who he is speaking for besides himself, certainly not me. The letter he references supposedly signed by Einstein turns up on many pro Palestinian websites but I have not been able to find an independent source that verifies it. Harris conveniently describes Olmert as a “war criminal” but fails to mention even one example of Hamas’ brutality, crimes against humanity, and refusal to help the poor people in Gaza attain any life of dignity or security. Rather, Hamas continues to use the citizens to build hatred of Jews and Israel and as pawns in its violent struggle to delegitimize and destroy the Jewish state. To all Israel’s haters I can only say never again. 

Susan Sholin 



The Chosen 

Editors, Daily Planet:  

The Chosen, adapted from the novel by Chaim Potok at Theatreworks is a must see! Readers of the Daily Planet will gain insights relevant to the recent controversy surrounding the antagonism over the State of Israel. 

We are blessed to have the opportunity to experience such a rich personal and historical evening of theater. The dynamic between fathers and sons, between two friends who share the same soul combined with cultural and historical tensions regarding the founding of Israel, offers a perspective which resonates even today.  

If you like theater, The Chosen at Theatreworks is a gem! A rare find of seamless directing, by Aaron Davidman from A Travelling Jewish Theater and Shotgun Players fame—brilliant and phenomenal acting by veteran performer Corey Fischer, as the Hasidic rabbi, in addition to nuanced and rich performances from the rest of the cast. 

I had the pleasure of seeing My Name is Asher Lev, also by Potok, at the Marin Theater Company and making the trek to Theatreworks in Mountain View not only enriches the Potok mini-festival, but also satisfies the soul. Asher Lev is the story of young man driven to express his true soul through painting, while The Chosen depicts Jewish culture responding to the aftermath of the Holocaust in post-World War II America on a larger canvas. 

Mark Solomons 



Response t Kantor 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

This letter is in response to the Oct.15 letter by Rob Kanter. Mr. Kanter, a well known local, committed “Anti-Zionist” interestingly enough elects to identify himself by his ancestry as a “Jew,” rather than by his personal politics. Mr. Kanter’s letter seems to take a very odd position that even if the Palestinians utilize child-soldiers in contravention of the Geneva Convention, that when these child-soldiers are killed while engaging in the conflict, it is Israel wantonly killing children. Mr. Kanter seems inclined to defend the practice of cynically listing the child-combatant casuaties as simply as “children,” in order to create the misleading impression that Israel is randomly killing children. It is however, why Palestinian “child casualties” are overwhelming older, teenage males rather than a balanced mix of genders as would be the case were the phenomena random. Its not surprising that the Palestinians manipulate and distort statistics and news coverage for political advantage, after all we have the slang phrase “Pallywood,” but why do people like Mr. Kanter feel compelled to defend such misleading practices? It seems that if one truly would prefer less Palestinian child casualties, they should be focusing on condemning the use of child-combatants in the conflict. Mr. Kanter’s appologia seems disingenious.  

Rfael Moshe 



orly taitz award 

Editors, Daily Planet: 

And the Orly Taitz award goes to: Janna Sundeyeva, for the Oct. 15 racist tirade against local activist Hassan Fouda for his defense of the U.N.’s Goldstone report and exposing Israeli soldiers’ actions and attitudes toward the Palestinian people of Gaza earlier this year. Perhaps Fouda’s only error, though, was in not providing the source of his findings, which was not only Israeli newspapers and Human Rights groups, but widely reported in US newspapers including the SF Chronicle. 

Sundeyeva states that the Palestinians are a “people who definitely do not understand human language, their ethical system is different.” Also, “life is not important at all in Islam.” One can only imagine the reaction if someone said such a thing about Jews or Judaism. But the key nugget and reason for the award is this: “’Palestinian nation’ is creation of the Soviet KGB, nothing more.” It really boggles the mind. 

So who is Orly Taitz? She’s the Israeli-American activist who’s a driving force behind the right-wing “birther” movement which claims that President Obama is not a U.S. citizen. Among her other claims are that Obama is a threat to Israel because of his support of radical Islamic groups, such as Hamas, and his “radical socialist” policies that will bring the U.S. to “totalitarianism and Stalinism,” and that FEMA is building internment camps for “anti-Obama dissidents.” Congratulations, Sundeyeva, you really earned it! 

Robert Kanter 


Twenty Years Later, Are You Ready? The ‘Network’ Can Help

By Norine Smith, Charlotte Nolan and Lynn Zummo
Thursday October 22, 2009 - 09:34:00 AM

Anniversaries bring remembrance and reflection, as does this one, the Loma Prieta earthquake 20 years later. Hopefully our reflections then, now, and the years in between, have led us to become as individually prepared as possible and to participate with our neighbors in setting up neighborhood disaster response capability. If this preparation has not been undertaken, it is long past time to do so. As you all know, the U.S. Geological Survey predictions say the Hayward Fault is due for a major shake, which further underscores the need to be prepared.  

The City of Berkeley has, within the limits of its resources and responsibilities, done its part in providing free training classes in first aid, search and rescue, and fire suppression, so that citizens are prepared. Forty caches of major items needed in a disaster response have been given to neighborhood groups who are already well-organized and prepared, and who have shown sustained commitment in developing a neighborhood response. These contributions are very important; however they are not even first or second steps households and neighborhoods need to take in preparing for a disaster.  

When the next earthquake occurs, or any other major disaster happens, we will become first responders in our neighborhoods—perhaps for a substantial amount of time. We will be undertaking jobs our city, fire, and medical services do now, until they can take over. We will have to do so whether we are prepared or not! Being prepared is the better option.  

With the above in mind, on Jan. 29, 2009, the Berkeley Disaster Prep Neighborhood Network—otherwise known as the Network—was established. Its mission is to coordinate the work of already organized groups, to assist groups wanting to, or those in the process of, organizing, and in some cases, helping those “fizzled” groups reestablish themselves. It is the Network’s long-term goal to have all Berkeley neighborhoods organized for disaster prep to the extent that they are willing and able to do so by the next major event. To that end, five additional meetings have taken place since our initial January meeting and we are taking action steps to spread the word about the Network and to provide the training and assistance needed for and by those who wish to participate.   

The next network meeting is on Nov. 5, starting at 6:30 p.m. at the Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists, corner of Cedar and Bonita, in the main hall. We will be launching two programs and discussing two proposed programs. The first will be a mentoring program for organizing groups by individuals from established groups. The second is a group purchasing program for disaster supplies which will allow groups to order from one vendor, at a discount, what they would need for both individual household preparation and for neighborhood cache supplies. There will be a progress report on the plan to map neighborhood groups and overall organized disaster prep coverage in the city. We will also discuss the formation of a new committee dedicated to communications—FRS/GMRS two-way radios, ham and other amateur radios.   

The network has a Yahoo group at groups.yahoo.com/group/bdpnn and a more developed website will be available by the end of October at www.bdpnnetwork.org. By the end of January, we will be posting several documents to assist groups of all levels of organization in developing disaster prep efforts. The first is a detailed “organizing your neighborhood” handbook. The second will be site instructions to provide step-by-step guidance to anyone showing up at the group meeting place after a disaster on how to proceed in getting a response going. These instructions will include the functions to be performed and specific guidelines from the city’s CERT manual regarding how to do the tasks required. The third item will be a list of basic supplies/equipment groups need for a disaster at a neighborhood’s supply and gathering site.  

We are all used to depending on City of Berkeley services and resources in an emergency, and not being concerned about being ready, at least temporarily, to totally take care of ourselves. In a major disaster, the usual systems will not be able to operate as they normally do and we will be on our own. Be prepared—supply your own household, organize with your neighbors, take the free CERT classes offered by the city, check out the Network website, join the Yahoo group, and come to our meeting on Nov. 5.  

Finally, we extend our thanks for the generosity of the Berkeley Unitarian Fellowship in providing meeting space and other support to network efforts. 


Norine Smith, Charlotte Nolan and Lynn Zummo are with Berkeley Disaster Prep Neighborhood Network. 

What Paris Can Teach Berkeley

By Jean-Luc Szpakowski
Thursday October 22, 2009 - 09:35:00 AM

Or, What Do High-Rises Have to Do with It? 


This is in response to Gerry Tierney’s letter bemoaning Berkeley’s provincialism in not embracing modern architecture and not embracing “sleek sophisticated” 22-story towers such as Vancouver has. I share his love for Paris architecture. One of the points he omits, however, is that Paris is Paris in large part because of the strict regulation of the height of buildings within Paris itself. The buildings are indeed six or seven or eight stories high, but their height is limited by ordinance. The rare exception such as the Montparnasse Tower stands out and is widely disliked, its presence attributed to government corruption.  

Further, it is useful to note that what is modern and chic, “au courant,” often becomes reviled by future generations. One example is the plan for Paris proposed by Le Corbusier, one of the preeminent vanguard architects of the the 20th century, which proposed replacing much of central Paris by a series of towers that must have seemed oh so sleek and sophisticated to his supporters. One can only thank God that the people and government of Paris had the wisdom to reject this vision. 

What does give charm to Paris, in my opinion, is the common attention to the way the buildings integrate with their environment. At intersections, the corners are frequently oblique, to round off the square into an octogon or higher number of sides. Buildings have balconies that bring insiders into the commons of the outdoors. Successive stories are frequently set back to create a series of overlapping rooftop gardens/balconies—there is a particularly fine example on the rue de Vavin just a block from the Luxembourg gardens. Balconies have interesting iron work, there are artistic architectural accents everywhere, surplus though they may be for pure function. There is a street life, generated by zoning that allows small stores on street level. Everywhere even tiny pieces of land have been converted into parks—a true commons.  

Yes, there needs to be sufficient density to support mass transit and stores, but this does not need to be 10- or 20-story towers. Throughout Europe—Paris, Warsaw, Berlin—see Paul Krugman’s comments on visiting that area—the sweet spot seems to be between four and eight stories high. Somewhere around 75 feet high seems to be the peak height to keep things on a human scale. Maybe this is as high as people could comfortably climb. More importantly for pedestrians, this height does not create a pattern of overwhelming mass hulking over human beings, particularly if setbacks from the street and setbacks of upper stories are instituted.  

It seems in looking at our neighboring cities that there are builders who can still make money below that height limit. The new developments near 40th street and San Pablo are that height, as are many of the new downtown Oakland condos and the refurbished buildings near Jack London Square. If Oakland can do it, why can’t Berkeley?  

What does need to end is the reflex response of city government to any call for greening our city: Build more high- rises.  


Jean-Luc Szpakowski is a Berkeley resident.

A White Elephant Ferry—in Berkeley?

By David Fielder
Thursday October 22, 2009 - 09:35:00 AM

Perhaps it is to be expected that the latest incarnation of an SF Bay ferry system will have its own associated color, but most unfortunate that it will be that of a White Elephant. 

  For years now, concerned Bay Area residents have observed the political machinations of the Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA) as it morphed from a role focused on passenger ferry operations, to the more headline-grabbing proposition of providing emergency services. Unfortunately, neither type of service is financially sound or needed, at least in the case of the Berkeley proposal. Recent history provides proof of these assertions in that the Red & White ferry service begun after Loma Prieta in 1989 quickly succumbed to lack of demand. In addition, WETA has documented that the existing Hornblower ferries docked within the Berkeley Marina were available within 24 hours of the earthquake to provide just the emergency service WETA now claims as its primary justification. 

  The most egregious outcome of the proposed Berkeley commuter ferry will be the long-term commitment by Bay Area taxpayers to subsidize this boondoggle. Brad Smith, a former member of the Berkeley Waterfront Commission, recently presented a detailed analysis to that commission documenting that each one-way trip will have to be subsidized by at least $17 in public funds in order to keep one-way ticket prices below $7 per rider. This compares unfavorably with the estimated $3–$6 public subsidies currently ensuring AC Transit and BART services for the East Bay public. It is also notable that the entire projected ridership utilization of this commuter ferry could easily be accommodated by a total of 5 BART cars per day (not trains—cars), while WETA projects that ridership won’t reach 800 passengers each way per day until at least 2025. 

  Over the past year, WETA’s approach has undergone remarkable changes in response to public concerns regarding the problems just identified and others. Each time, WETA staff and consultants have made changes that raise new concerns—to the point that this process has come to resemble “Whack a Mole.” For example, when it was pointed out that the Marina parking area identified for assignment to commuter parking could not accommodate the planned need while still supporting current recreational users of the Berkeley Marina—it is a public park after all—WETA staff next proposed building a $20 million two-story parking structure on the lot just to the north of His Lordship’s Restaurant. Public reaction and budget realities again forced WETA to withdraw that proposal—now replaced by a valet parking scheme where contracted staff would accommodate the additional cars by parking them behind/blocking regular parkers—all in newly striped spaces significantly smaller than those currently in place—further impacting existing recreational use. 

  In summary, the problems raised by WETA’s ferry plan for Berkeley include: 

  1. The primary rationale for the project, providing emergency transportation and decreasing commute congestion, is not valid. 

2. This use of $50 Million in public funds is a fiscal and societal boondoggle, particularly when our schools and municipal infrastructures are undergoing precipitous decay. 

3. WETA has demonstrated a remarkable ability to ignore existing Berkeley Marina plans, as well as public input, and there is no reason to expect they will do otherwise as they attempt to complete this project. The ferry project will directly impact Berkeley’s largest park and its parking plan will eliminate existing landscaping and many of the amenities that the city has been planning for improving the Bay Trail. 

4. The latest valet parking scheme will degrade access for current users of the Marina Park, and will frustrate commuters who are forced to valet park and then wait as three staffers try to deal simultaneously with the expectations of up to 199 arriving commuters. 

5. Dredging of a second, ten-foot deep channel on the south side of the Berkeley Pier and installation of a required 300 foot breakwater will ensure permanent disruption for current recreational users—fishers, sightseers, kayakers, sailors, windsurfers, kite sailors, etc.—increase sedimentation within the South Sailing Basin, degrade water quality, and endanger the same oyster population WETA has identified as one reason this ferry cannot be accommodated within the existing marina harbor. 

6. Shorebird Park users—primarily young children—will be put at increased risk due to high traffic volumes, and access to that park and its quality will be diminished by parking and dredging activities. 

7. WETA has announced that its funding will not cover provision of weekend service. Thus, this ferry terminal and parking concession will be limited to weekday commuter services – certainly not the best use of our public park space. 

8. The WETA draft Transition Plan (WETA-TP) indicates the need for ongoing operational subsidization and financial responsibility of the cities involved: http://www.watertransit.org/files/TransitionPlan/DRAFT TP04029.pdf, so this White Elephant has the unfortunate, long-term potential to become a financial albatross around the necks of Bay Area taxpayers. 

  If these facts concern you, please make your opinions known at the last two public hearings in Berkeley scheduled for this plan: Berkeley Transportation Commission on Oct. 29 (revised date); City Council on Nov. 17. The latter meeting is where WETA expects to obtain approval from our city council members. Several are apparently already committed, in spite of these public concerns, as indicated in the WETA Board minutes of June 4, 2009: www.watertransit.org/files/BODMinutes/2009/b060409m.pdf 

  I trust that it is not too late for our elected officials to respond to these well-documented concerns and reject WETA’s proposal, thereby ensuring that our scarce public funds aren’t further wasted. 


David Fielder is a Berkeley resident. 


What the Courthouse Was

By Tao Matthews
Thursday October 22, 2009 - 09:36:00 AM

Thank you for the urgently needed summary story by R. Brokl. We are steadying ourselves from the shocking and utterly unjustifiable destruction of a B+ noted important Oakland Historic Resource, the Courthouse Club, 2935 Telegraph Ave. Mr. Brokl reported the plundering and pillaging of this property and its surroundings with accuracy and compassion. The beloved resource has withstood the test of time, having lived nobly through two earthquakes: 1906 and 1989. It had been retrofitted and became a very successful rehab gym that catered to, among others, vets returning from conflicts in Desert Storm and Bosnia. Truly it was a one-of-a-kind gym business that brought income and interesting people into our community. Its ample parking lot was often full all throughout open hours, with a Black Belt security guard on duty. 

So why should a thriving business, even in a slow economy, be shut down and allowed to sit vacant several years when all that time it could have earned income for its new owners, T.C.R.? It was even photo-shopped by architecturally savvy persons who showed T.C.R. how to incorporate the building into a complex that included condos and retail. My own suggestion was to use it to build around a center courtyard/commons with two-story condos to the south and west and retail facing front. It could have included a space for childcare and a big room for washers and dryers and common gym and pool. 

But no, potential lease tenants, nonprofit representatives, and even hopeful buyers were told, “No, it is not for lease or sale!” 

It also sat in-between two other precious landmarks: St. Augustine’s Church and Telegraph Medical Hill. T.C.R. thinks that Northgate is just asleep. We are not! 

We may well also qualify for a Level Two (Level One being the highest), Historic District Rating. And, oh, by the way, condos aren’t selling very well, and if you can’t afford to build even more (Oakland has enough, let me tell you; just look at downtown Emeryville), why not listen to what we are saying about what we need over here? 

We don’t need big condo complexes and we don’t need more. We already have an abundance of subsidized housing in this area. We don’t need more Oakland Housing Authority. Let O.H.A. spend its money, stimulus or other, on fixing up the properties it already possesses. 

At a Planning Commission meeting, Michael Colbruno, commissioner, remarked to T.C.R. that he was appalled at the condition that T.C.R had allowed the Courthouse to be in. It had never been adequately secured, even if they say it was “on paper.” T.C.R. also changed their design plans over and over: Jade Condos; Courthouse Condos; O.H.A; Alexan Element, etc.; even though they should have reapplied, they kept getting continuances! The whole time the building remained an open house to vandals. Not all neighbors within 300 feet were notified properly at the outset of the plans, and no one was notified that on Sept. 29, the building would be torn apart without even properly salvaging all recyclable materials. 

Our appeal period was usurped. We had until Oct. 5 to file. We raised the money, and we filed. We are also appealing the removal of two protected wildlife-inhabited redwoods with stands in the west end of the property. The hearing we weren’t supposed to know about either was on Oct. 20.  

The neighborhood has expressed interest in the idea of either a Trader Joe’s grocery or a Pet Co/Pet Food Express that would include a dog-friendly cafe, a fenced tot park, and a small fenced animal care center focusing on the education of families on responsible pet ownership. 


Tao Matthews is a member of the Northgate Neighborhood Group, Oakland.

Advocating for Amends: The Unnecessary Death of Alana Williams

By Sam Herbert
Thursday October 22, 2009 - 09:37:00 AM

I heard on the evening news that Frick Middle School student Alana Williams was killed on the morning of Oct. 16 while crossing the street—in the crosswalk at a four-way stop—to school. Her hit-and-run assailant was witnessed by other pedestrians, so I hope he will be caught and held accountable in a court of law. As shocking as the untimely death of a child will always be, and as shocking as the callousness of someone who would speed through a stop sign and hit anyone, without stopping to give assistance, I am struck by how completely and inutterably unecessary was this loss. 

I don’t blame any given individual—except for the driver of the hit-and-run—for failings, but there was something each and every one of us could have done to prevent it, and we owe it to this child to make her death stand for rectifying a grievous lack in public safety. Had there been stop lights equipped with cameras along the way, I believe they would provide a substantial deterrent to running stop-lights/signs. Had someone run a sign nearby, or rolled through it, there would have been photos snapped that would identify the culprit immediately. When Berkeley was looking for traffic-calming devices a few years back, we were told that a single traffic light costs about $20,000. I know that’s a lot of money. I don’t know if that figure is accurate anymore. I know that, if one asked Alana’s mother if she could come up with the $20,000—any way, by any means—if she could have her daughter back, she would. Most of you are parents. If you knew—I mean really knew—that you could save your own child’s life by providing a traffic light where your own child crosses the street daily to get to school, would you do it? I would, and I don’t have much money. I would do whatever it takes. 

Principal Gourdine, please accept my condolences for the unnecessary death of little Alana Williams. Mayor Dellums, I know you will provide all the resources necessary for this principal, this school, this community to help them deal with their grief and loss. Principal Gourdine, I hope that you will have someone on duty immediately for the half hour before school begins in the morning, and the half hour during pickup and end of the day, to monitor traffic, beginning next Monday. A $10 SLOW/STOP hand-held sign and one of those ever-so-stylish orange plastic vests, and maybe a few orange traffic cones, are all you need to get started. If you can’t afford to hire a guard for those time periods, there must be someone—or -ones—in the school community who would take regular shifts. 

This a bad time to ask for money—for anything—from anyone. I would describe the need for a traffic light with camera as an emergency need. No one needs an EIR and a traffic flow/study plan to understand that a traffic light in this location is a necessity. If you need help to make it happen, I am volunteering. I will find the money, I will write an emergency grant application, I will canvass the neighborhood—and by Internet—to raise the necessary funds. It needs to happen. It needs to happen now. Many of you know far more sources and resources than I do, and I respectfully request that each of you contribute—any way, and in any form that is appropriate—to resolving this need. If a traffic light is not installed and working in time to prevent another death, then God help all of us.  

Many of you know me and know how to reach me. If some of you don’t, please contact me off-line with your phone number and/or e-mail address, and I will respond. Please help now.  


Sam Herbert is a Berkeley resident.

Citizens Outraged by Berkeley’s ‘Stealth and Camouflage’ Ordinance

By Jack Shaughnessy
Thursday October 22, 2009 - 09:38:00 AM

  Resistance to the proliferation of radiation-emitting rooftop antennas in residential neighborhoods rises to outrage, as Berkeley citizens realize their powerlessness in public hearings and call for a referendum to resolve the malaise. Three focus areas emerge confounding our democratic efforts:  

a. Ordinance No. 7,073-N.S (aka the “Stealth” and “Camouflage” Law);  

b. Berkeley’s violation of FCC rules regarding the existing wireless facility at 1600 Shattuck Avenue; and  

c. the multi-directional design of the wireless antennas themselves that are mounted at a “downtilt” and send emissions in every direction. 

Cowed by the Clinton administration’s relaxation of FCC rules, Berkeley’s Wire-less Telecommunications Facilities Ordinance (Municipal Code Chapter 23C.17) puts “aesthetics” over citizen health concerns. Indeed, the public is prohibited from raising any health issues in its complaints not just in Berkeley, but in communities across America.  

Accordingly, our ordinance dictates that corporate developers of wireless telecommunication facilities use “appropriate stealth techniques…to minimize the visual impact of the facility.” It further instructs corporations  “to camouflage, disguise, or blend [them] into the surrounding environment.” Hence, aesthetics trump health and safety with the latter limited to the possibility of the facility falling over, or getting in harm’s way of rooftop workers.  

Giving corporations free range to conceal their facilities from public view makes people worry that we have a situation whereby the fox guards the henhouse. Indeed, even the NIH in its Washington, DC, offices was surprised to find wireless antennas hidden in its own walls and ceilings when it recently began renovations! 

Unlike countries around the world that bar wireless communication facilities in residential neighborhoods, by virtue of the Precautionary Principle, America puts corporate rights over those of people.  Nevertheless, mounting concern in the U.S. over this sorry state of affairs led a recent Columbia University Conference (2008-9) to author a lengthy exposé of the science behind the precaution. 

Another problem is how the emissions are measured: statically, as opposed to chronically. It makes no sense to take snapshot-like measurements when the nature of the emissions is continuous and fluctuating. 

Now to Berkeley’s violation of FCC rules: Back in 2004 during the public hearing for the 1600 Shattuck wireless facility atop of Barney’s and now Crepevine’s restaurants, public citizens in Strassmen et al., charged that Sprint violated FCC rules by erecting wireless antennas 31.1 feet above the ground, when by law, they should be at least 35 feet.  

Strassman’s complaint was based on the science of horizontally traveling emissions. It argues the “balcony effect,” whereby residents who live at the same level as the antennas, second floor, are subject to 46 times the amount of radiation they normally would get if the antennas were placed higher by just a matter of feet. The reason for this is that, as electro-magnetic emissions travel horizontally toward surrounding buildings, they continuously bounce off the surfaces of those buildings, thereby increasing the emitted radiation to an alarming level.  

For some reason unbeknownst to Strassman et al., and other interested parties—particularly second floor residents living less than 100 feet from the antennas—the city gave no satisfactory answer for approving the facility except that it was afraid of being sued by the telecommunications industries.  

Now look at the multi-directional, “downtilt” antennas: What Strassman, other members of the public, and perhaps even Berkeley city government, did not know was that the antennas designed and later mounted atop Barney’s/Crepevine are multi-directional, making them capable of emitting radiation on every plane.  

The Sprint spokesperson lied at the public hearing when he said that “the emissions do not travel vertically.” They do. The evidence is stated by corporate-appointed engineer William F. Hammett, in the present Engineer’s Report to the City of Berkeley, where he states the multi-directional nature of the design atop 1600 Shattuck and proposed for 1625. He says that antennas at 1600 have a “downtilt” and that those proposed for 1625 Shattuck will likewise be downtilted—12 degrees for 1625. He adds that due to this tilt, they will measure emissions horizontally and vertically, to the ground level at 1625 Shattuck. How about 1600? 

Re 1625: “The other 2 antennas (at 1625) would be mounted on short poles within cylinders resembling chimneys, at an effective height of about 47 and a half feet above ground, five feet above the roof. 

“The antennas would be oriented with up to 12 degrees downtilt in groups of three toward 20 degrees T and 290 degrees T and in pair toward 210 degrees T. The maximum radiated power in any direction would be 2,742 watts, representing the simultaneous operation of four PSC only channels at 368 watts each and five cellular channels at 254 watts each.” 

Re 1600: “Sprint Nextel, another wireless telecommunications carrier, has similar antennas installed on the roof of a building located about 200 feet away at 1600 Shattuck Avenue. That carrier had only proposed to install Allen Telecom Model DB932DG65E-M antennas and to operate with a maximum effective radiated power in any direction of 640 watts.” 

If we believe Strassman’s claim that the “balcony effect” increases electro-magnetic emissions to 46 times the legal limit based on horizontally directed antennas, we can only ask ourselves: how is that figure compounded when the antennas are multi-directional?  

Meanwhile, as we ponder the question, it behooves us to realize that citizens in and around the gourmet ghetto have been zapped 24/7 by this radiation at levels too daunting to even speculate! 

And residents exposed to years of such radiation in their Berkeley neighborhoods are now plagued with such resultant injuries as nuclear sclerotic cataracts—the kind most common to airline pilots, caused by airborne radiation.  

Rather than erect our own masks to hide behind, we might instead expect, nay demand, that governments not be cowed by corporations but instead actually analyze what’s before them and protect the public interests. We might start by halting further development until these issues are resolved. It wouldn’t hurt to take a survey of residential ailments among people who have lived/worked for a long time in the shadow of these wireless facilities. We might even write our own ordinance: of, for and by the people. For free aid in writing an ordinance contact celfd.org. 


Jack Shaughnessy is a Berkeley resident.

Berkeley Guide to Profiting at Your Neighbors’ Expense

By Vincent Abeyta
Thursday October 22, 2009 - 09:39:00 AM

What’s the secret? It’s called “illegal development” and the Planning Department of the City of Berkeley will go out of its way to help you succeed. The Southside Lofts, at 3095 Telegraph Ave., is a case study on how to ensure that you maximize your profitability while fending off your helpless victims: homeowners.  

How was this achieved? In 2002 Milt’s coin-op laundry, to the dismay of the Bateman Neighborhood, was completely destroyed in a fire. A developer later proposed and built a “luxury” condo complex there, with retail space at the ground level. During all phases of the site’s development, neighbors inquired of the developer regarding what businesses would occupy the retail space, but the responses were oddly evasive—especially so when a reinstatement of a laundromat was suggested. The reason for this shrewd avoidance of the laundromat subject is now plain: you can’t sell a luxury condo for over a half a million bucks if it’s directly above a business that generates noise and fumes from 7 a.m. in the morning until 10 p.m. in the evening 365 days a year. Who in their right mind would consider that a good investment? Well, you might—if you were duped.  

You see, this developer proposed the condo project to the city without including designs for a laundromat. In fact, the developer would have had to request a special permit for doing so, and that would have made the intent known to the entire community—including potential home buyers. So instead, each of the 10 condo units was sold under the pretense that they were luxury units in a well-to-do neighborhood, and the developer hefted a healthy ransom. But, as it turns out, laundering clothes is not just a pocket full of change; and the laundromat still had legs. With the condo units now sold, the developer submitted a permit application to the planning department for “the renovation of an existing laundromat,” instead of an application for “converting vacant retail space in a mixed use building into a laundromat.”  

What’s the subtle difference? Besides the fact that there was no longer a laundromat existing at the site at the time of submission, one kind of application requires review by the community, while the other does not. For obvious reasons, the developer picked the kind that doesn’t require other folks to be informed of the work—not even those directly affected by it: the residents of the building. And lo and behold, the application was approved!  

What a tremendous error was made on the part of the planning department: by not confirming the veracity of the application, the planning department kick started the developer’s laundromat-making machine, and off it went—in stealth mode. First, the windows of the space were papered with anti-peeping paper, then a false “for lease” sign was posted, and finally, contractors swarmed the place like termites building a nest—you can’t see them, but they’re there and they’re gnawing. The problem was that the building hadn’t been designed with dirty laundry in mind; so eventually, the frass hit the fan: the developer needed to modify the building to the extent that the residents’ spaces had to be modified, and the secret was out. But what can you do when you’re a simple wage earner and you discover your place of rest is being illegally modified right under your feet? Come home from work and study building code? Call the city? Calling the city achieved two things: it confirmed how the development process had been wrongly initiated, and what you need to do in order to short circuit it to your favor—just spend some money. According to the city attorney: because the developer and his cronies had already spent money on their dubious activity—it didn’t matter if it had caused damage to other folks, whom the process had failed—the developer’s building permit could not be revoked.  

So now the secret formula for profiting at your neighbors’ expense in Berkeley is laid bare: maximize your profitability by squeezing as many residents into a developing space at the highest price point possible—hopefully, over-extending their budgets in the process; trip-up the City so that it believes everything is OK and can’t unwittingly divulge your intentions to the neighbors; stealthily rush in the business that favors your bottom line before affected residents can react; and finally, count on the city to back you up—after all, it’s your bottom line that lives in Berkeley, not you. 


Vincent Abeyta is a Berkeley resident.

Laundromat Letters

Thursday October 22, 2009 - 09:39:00 AM


One afternoon in 2002 the biggest fire I have ever seen burned to the ground a laundromat in my neighborhood. It was Milt’s Coin Op and it took 24 hours before it was entirely under control. By then, everything was gone. I live in the Halcyon Commons neighborhood and it seemed that all of us watched from the corner of Telegraph and Prince that day. Since then I have met many neighbors from the other side of Telegraph in the Bateman community who shared my experience. Some of the Bateman people lived directly behind the fire and came very close to losing their homes. Several years passed and finally a luxury development was built on the former site of the now defunct laundromat: Southside Lofts at 3095 Telegraph Ave. The design was attractive and there was the required parking lot in back for tenants and visitors. Like so many new additions to our city, retail space was provided below the new homes. Everything seemed fine. Then, without any warning, the developer began tearing up the street in front of the luxury homes. As I passed by each day I couldn’t believe my eyes. The street began to look like an industrial site and the noise and constant dust from concrete must have been terrible for the tenants if it affected the surrounding neighbors as well. The construction impacted the existing retail below as parking was restricted and the noise level discouraged many of us from entering the businesses. Finally, there was a major gas leak which terrified everyone living in the Lofts. 

I have lived in this neighborhood for over 15 years. The developer of this complex filed an application with the city requesting a “renovation of the existing laundromat,” rather than properly requesting an application for a conversion permit. In this way he was able to bypass a review by the community. This permit was approved in error based on an incorrect and possibly fraudulent permit application resulting in the denial of an opportunity for a public hearing. The planning department acknowledges having approved the permit erroneously. This business, if it is allowed, will create huge parking issues, constant noise and toxic fumes for those who live above, and the fire that threatened our neighborhood seven years ago could happen again but this time there would be people who are living directly above the laundromat. 

Nina Lyons 


The City of Berkeley Planning Department has approved a building permit for a Laundromat at 3095 Telegraph Avenue, on the first floor of a mixed-use building completed in 2006. The permit was approved based on an incorrect and possibly fraudulent permit application, resulting in the denial of a public hearing on the project. 

The planning department acknowledges having approved the permit erroneously. The applicant avoided the administrative use permit requirement by filing a zoning certificate application that falsely stated the existing use as “Laundromat” rather than “Vacant Commercial Space.” When the planning department acknowledged its mistake, a stop work order was issued until the applicant obtained an administrative use permit. Soon thereafter, however, the city attorney lifted the stop work order due to the financial investment and legal commitments already made by the owner and operator, in complete disregard of the financial interests of the owners of the ten residences above the proposed laundromat, and in total disregard of the impacts on the neighbors. 

The city council referred this matter to the city manager on Sept. 29. In his Oct. 14 report to the council, the city manager did not dispute the facts, but he told the city council that the permit cannot be revoked. We are therefore requesting that the city council take the necessary action to ensure that the planning department suspends the building permit on this project until the applicant obtains an administrative use permit, thereby giving neighbors an opportunity to voice their concerns in a public hearing. We invite you to sign our petition and to attend the council meeting on Oct. 27 at the Old City Hall to help support our request.  

If you have questions or would like information on how you can sign our petition before the next council meeting, please contact: Marcy McGaugh at marcym@lmi.net or Joslyn Rose at joslynroselight@gmail.com. 

Joslyn Rose 

What? You Thought it Was Over at KPFA? ...

By Virginia Browning
Thursday October 22, 2009 - 11:35:00 AM

I just finished listening to Sasha Lilley the Program Director “until recently” as she says on the show—is she resigning—on KPFA’s program “Against the Grain” which often includes in-depth analysis about the economy, culture, etc. 

Today the program was a slanted piece that reiterates lies about Pacifica’s new (and soon to be gone) Interim Executive Director, Grace Aaron. It was one of those pieces sophisticated Berkeleyites and others will have come across with much truth presented sweetly, to give credibility, and some zinger untruths. 

I just want to concentrate on a few untruths as time is short this week: 

The main one is the pointing to and praising of an article by Iain Boal published now all over the place called “The New Crisis at Pacifica.”  

You see–sorry Planet—there’s another KPFA election next year, and campaigning has already begun. Another campaign, in case the management-recruited slate should have the upper hand, is to excise the bylaws created in 1999; and even if they get a majority of local board members, listener support for this is crucial. 

I happen to agree that the bylaws need to be re-examined. Many listener activists who generally support “democracy” at the station do also. One step towards this would be at least ONE bylaws-mandated townhall meeting. Interestingly, neither this nor any other of the POSITIVE aspects of the “democratization” process were mentioned in this propaganda airing today—with Aileen Alfendary and Matthew Lazar, in other words, a range of commentator opinions from A to B alphabetically-speaking. 

The show today replays audio of Chris Condon, a national Pacifica Board member, proposing what Boal denigrates as “a resolution expressly designed to find out whether Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now! program is getting CIA funding through covert channels like the Ford Foundation for suppressing the “truth” about the 9/11 “over-up.”  

The first of many untruths in the show today is that this board member is endorsed by Grace Aaron. As Aaron has made perfectly clear in her request to Boal for a public apology, she does not endorse Condon or any other candidate in the election. 

The KPFA “objective” team today chose to ignore the quite reasonable and, under the circumstances, restrained public reply Aaron made to Boal and to those who have published it. 

Perhaps Lilley et al are cruisin for a bruisin: publicly lying about the now-effective national board in order to force a “gag” order and then cry foul. Doubt that will happen. I think Aaron should have at least published her response on the Pacifica website, it’s not there. The other idiocy I will mention is Boal’s snide critique of Aaron’s supposed religious affiliation, which of course is no one’s business, but which Aaron answers gracefully as it were in her reply which you can read in indymedia http://la.indymedia.org/news/2009/10/230955_comment.php#231101.  

The last thing I want to say is that just because Willie Ratcliff, Bayview publisher, SAYS a bunch of people agreed to support what he wants them to, doesn’t mean they did agree to that. This I’m sure Lilley, Alfendary and Lazar know well, as they know Ratcliff. However, Ratcliff-wish was also announced as “truth.” 

And so it goes. 

I realized another benefit this new “Local Control” campaign has for KPFA management. But more about that later. 

Virginia Browning is a Berkeley resident.

KPFA Management

By Richard Phelps
Thursday October 22, 2009 - 11:33:00 AM

Does the Current Concerned Listener Management Group at KPFA Understand What Pacifica is About? Do They Care About  Pacifica’s Mission to Present Multiple Views? 


Less than 72 hours after the Staff ballots were given a preliminary hand count showing that the CL/Management Group had lost two of the three staff seats up for election, and their one incumbent finished last, they were on the air for an hour arguing that the democratic process doesn’t work. The full hour of Tuesday’s “Against the Grain” was given to three CL/Management Group supporters/endorsers. No one from the listener activist community was invited on and no questions or comments from listeners were taken. 


Matthew Lasar and Eileen Alfandary were the guests on a program hosted by Sasha Lilley. They briefly went through the history of KPFA and Pacifica over the last twenty years and every issue covered had their particular slant to it. Matthew Lasar played a sound bite from a recent Pacifica National Board Meeting in New York where lots of people were yelling and disrupting the meeting. It was an example of democracy gone wrong. What he didn’t tell the listeners was that the people disrupting the meeting were the WBAI Justice and Unity folks, the same folks that the CL/Management Group colluded with to maintain each group’s local power outside the Foundation Bylaws causing financial disaster at WBAI and eventually at Pacifica. The full story of this collusion was printed in the Planet on May 14, 2004 and can be found in the Planet archives or at http://peoplesradio.net/'09_2issues.htm . 


They consistently spoke of the need for journalistic integrity and how that couldn’t be maintained with Local Station Board (LSB) members constantly demanding programming changes. This was an extreme exaggeration of the real history. They used Democracy Now! as an example of attempts at political manipulation given a recent motion to have all major donors of programmers disclosed. They mentioned nothing about the refusal of this management group and its predecessor’s refusal to move Democracy Now! to prime time after a vote by the Program Council and the LSB based on wide popular support for the move. It is also basic radio philosophy that you put you best program in Prime Time. 


The CL spoke a lot about professionalism as one of their campaign themes in the recent election and yet when a professional no brainer like putting the strongest program in prime time went against their group members desire to keep their program in prime time, professionalism was ignored. It appears they put themselves above the well being of the station and the Foundation. 


Another example of this is this program itself. What kind of journalistic integrity do you have when you, in the Fox news MO, cover a very controversial topic with three people from the same narrow point of view? A point of view that clearly doesn’t have the majority support of the 160 members of the Staff that voted. That was 70% of the Staff . 


At the end of the election in 2007 the only news story on the election interviewed Matthew Lasar, Dan Siegel, Larry Bensky, Sherry Gendelman, and Casey Peters the National Election Supervisor (NES). All of these folks other than the NES were/are CL/Management Group members/supporters/endorsers. Similar themes with Tuesday’s program were aired, democracy is too expensive is one of their constant themes. But look at the cost of autocratic control. Tuesday’s program is a good example. 


A request for equal time to respond has been made to counter this very one-sided political commentary disguised as an objective public affairs program. A true test of the CL/Management Groups commitment to the Pacifica Mission will be shown by their response to the request for equal time to respond. Running a program like they did  makes it very clear why the listeners that donate all the money to run the station must not allow a small self appointed group to run the station and have control of the microphone. 


When I was Chair of the LSB I always invited all sides to be on the LSB Report programs that I produced or hosted. I considered it the ONLY proper protocol for a Pacifica station governance report. The current CL/Management Group obviously doesn’t share my perspective. Are they afraid that their positions can’t handle an open discussion/debate? 


Richard Phelps, former Chair KPFA LSB.  

The Goldstone Report and Delegitimization

By Joanna Graham
Thursday October 22, 2009 - 09:40:00 AM

On Friday night, in response to the U.N. Human Rights Council’s vote to send the Goldstone report to the Security Council, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu convened an emergency meeting. In it, he reportedly said this remarkable thing: “We are now setting out to delegitimize those who try to delegitimize us. We will not tolerate it and we will respond on a case by case basis.” 

  Despite the adverb “now,” implying that something new is here being announced, this statement strikes me as a profound formulation of the relationship between Israel’s existential problem and the methods it has long employed. In fact, when I read Netanyahu’s words, I experienced one of those “aha” moments, in which I suddenly got the other guy’s point of view. I understood at last why, for instance, Jim Sinkinson, John Gertz, and Dan Spitzer—delegitimizers all—think and act as they do. 

  First let’s look at the active half of the statement: we will delegitimize. How does this work? Here’s a simple example. When Norman Finkelstein showed that Alan Dershowitz’s “The Case for Israel” was not only rank with misstatements but also plagiarized, Dershowitz was unable to refute him because what Finkelstein had written was true. We know this for a fact because if it had been untrue, Dershowitz, who had labored mightily to prevent publication of Finkelstein’s book, would have sued. He did not. Instead, he campaigned, ultimately successfully, to deny Finkelstein tenure, thereby not only ending his career but effectively delegitimizing him. Now, Finkelstein can be—and frequently is—dismissed as a “failed academic.” 

  Sometimes delegitimization requires many steps. For example, the venerable San Francisco Jewish Film Festival is currently the target of a delegitimization campaign which puts its funding at risk. Why? Because this past summer it invited Rachel Corrie’s mother, Cindy, to speak at the showing of Simone Bitton’s film “Rachel.” Cindy Corrie must be delegitimized. Why? Because Rachel must be delegitimized. Why? Because if she is not, the policy of bulldozing people’s homes in Gaza, which she died opposing, could itself be delegitimized. Reread Netanyahu’s statement. 

  John Gertz burst upon the delegitimization scene in 2005 with the revelation that he’d packed the Berkeley Peace and Justice Commission. The old commission had to be delegitimized. Why? Because they’d recommended that the City Council urge Congresswoman Lee to co-sponsor a bill supporting the Corries in their attempt…. But why go on? This is a long chain. See paragraph above for where it leads.  

  When under attack, why delegitimize? Why not argue, debate, engage, dispute, challenge, refute—all the many ways in which people meet hostile language substantively? In a nutshell, it is because Israel cannot. The facts are the facts, as in the Finkelstein/Dershowitz case. Israel is not denying, for example, that in Operation Cast Lead over 1,400 residents of Gaza, mostly civilian, including many women and children, were killed. Israel’s quarrel with the Goldstone report, as Netanyahu said, is not that it makes wrong or inaccurate representations, but that by raising the issue of war crimes it delegitimizes the killings. 

  It is striking, by the way, that a Google search on the word “delegitimize,” a neologism dating from 1968, produces largely references to the state of Israel, making clear that Israel and “delegitimization” are intimately linked. 

  This is the crux. Many countries claiming to be peace-loving democracies are made uncomfortable by the Goldstone report because of its implication that even they can be charged with war crimes. If Israel can, why not the United States, for example? Haven’t we killed untold numbers of civilians in our wars of the past eight years alone? Nevertheless, any fears that certain U.S. officials past or present might harbor about war crimes tribunals cannot possibly raise the issue that the nation itself might be delegitimized. Modern states with horrific criminal records, like Nazi Germany or Imperial Japan, may be punished, even occupied or severed for a time, but the right of the nation to exist is never put in question. Delegitimization is uniquely Israel’s fear. 

  The effort to shut up Israel’s critics can produce amazingly long chains of serial delegitimizations. On the other side of Netanyahu’s equation, Israel’s existential delegitimization is at the far end of a nearly infinite number of serially linked chains, the near ends of which may be so trifling as to be missed by most. A young American’s death. A play or movie about that death. A meeting in a prominent British architect’s office. A letter to the editor. The name of an organization, “If Americans Knew,” which the University of Michigan radio station refused last week to mention on air. 

  Why must the delegitimizers scan and scan and scan for all these ephemeral nothings? Why must they set to work at once, delegitimizing “on a case by case basis”? Because if Rachel Corrie is not delegitimized, the policy of bulldozing people’s homes in Gaza, which she died opposing, could itself be delegitimized. If that could be delegitimized, the ongoing bulldozing of people’s homes in the West Bank, including Jerusalem, could also be delegitimized. If that could be delegitimized, the bulldozing of more than 400 Palestinian villages between 1947 and 1949 in what is now the state of Israel could also be delegitimized. 

  With respect to the Goldstone report, if Palestinians cannot be killed with impunity, if they are not, as Janna Sundeyeva wrote, “people who definitely do not understand human language,” then in the human language they speak, their claims must be heard. And if their claims must be heard, if they are granted a human voice and the right to speak for themselves, then the state which was created by driving them from their cities, villages, and farms and denying them forever the right to go home faces a permanent crisis of delegitimization. Someone whispers the faintest reproach—and, far away, the Zionist project has been put on the line. 


Joanna Graham is a Berkeley resident.


The Public Eye: The Dumbing of America

By Bob Burnett
Thursday October 22, 2009 - 09:25:00 AM

In 1994, when Forrest Gump famously observed, “stupid is as stupid does,” no one expected that Forrest would become the poster boy of the Republican Party. Nonetheless, as an integral component of its “just say no” strategy, the GOP is steadily dumbing down the level of American political discourse. Meanwhile, the US is faced with numerous challenges that require our citizens to use their brains. 

The 2009 Republican Party doesn’t have ideas and doesn’t appear to believe they need them. Rather than proposing an alternative to Obama’s push for healthcare reform, they have made outrageous claims about the program—it will lead to euthanasia and support abortion on demand—and suggested that it’s part of an organized push towards “socialism.”  

Similarly, the Republicans didn’t propose an alternative to Obama’s (successful) stimulus package but instead deplored “government bailouts.” The stimulus package passed the House without a single Republican vote, causing the normally conservative Financial Times to observe, “The more necessary public spending seems to be, the more strenuously Republicans oppose it. The party’s political tactics are as hare-brained as its economics.” 

Traditionally, Republicans have played to dumb; now they’re encouraging it. 58 percent of Republicans either think Obama wasn’t born in the United States or aren’t sure. Michelle Bachman and Sarah Palin have become the poster girls of the GOP. Fox News dominates TV news ratings and Rush Limbaugh rules the radio airwaves. 

During the campaign, Barack Obama observed, “it’s like these guys [Republicans] take pride in being ignorant.” (Obama was responding to the GOP mocking his suggestion that Americans could increase their automobile miles per gallon by maintaining their tires at the correct pressure.)  

Obama’s assumption was that Republicans were the victims of a pernicious group mind; each day the GOP spin doctors broadcasted a new theme and the Republican faithful dutifully parroted the Party line, no matter how inane. Candidates McCain and Palin played their part knowing their outrageous scripts rallied the Republican faithful. Eventually Palin suggested that Obama associated with terrorists, which generated images of the Democratic candidate as a jihadist and, as a result, a flurry of death threats ensued. 

Over the course of the Presidential contest, the Republican credo degenerated to “whatever works.” And, the GOP leaders discovered that stupid works as effectively as fear—in fact, they complement each other. 

Deliberately dumbing down the message works well with the Republican base because, compared to average Americans, the GOP rank-and-file tend to be poorly educated and dogmatically Christian, living in a culture that is hierarchical and rules based. They seldom read books or newspapers—although many read the Bible—and get their news from conservative talks shows or Fox News. Republican voters don’t lack intelligence but, rather, they don’t have a tradition of thinking for themselves. Although they come from a culture that has been dumbed down, they don’t recognize it because everyone around them acts the same way, shares the same worldview, and believes the same proverbs: “George Bush was a good President because he kept us safe.” Stupid is as stupid does. 

After all, it’s only a small step from believing that God created the world in seven days to accepting the assertion that healthcare reform will lead to socialism. If a true believer has faith that the Bible is literally true then they can also trust Rush Limbaugh. If they believe the Rapture is imminent then they can ignore warnings about global climate change or the proliferation of nuclear weapons. If a trusted leader tells them that Obama is the Antichrist then they can comfortably oppose everything the President proposes, and even go so far as to threaten his life. 

U.S. history informs us that there has always been a strong anti-intellectual component in American culture. And it’s common for radical conservative movements to get their strongest support from the white, rural, Christian south. What’s unusual about the GOP “dumbing of America” campaign is that it has become a national strategy, 

There are two serious problems with the Republican game plan of celebrating stupidity. It is anti-American because it defiles our treasured myth of the triumphant individual. “Dumb is beautiful” runs counter to the American ethos of self-sufficiency, of taking pride in a culture of individuals who stand on their own two feet and think for themselves. Ultimately, it replaces the individual with the mob. 

The other problem with the Republican strategy is that it is counterproductive. America is beset by terrible problems: a staggering economy, a war against terrorists, the threat of global climate change and diminishing energy supplies, to name only a few. To survive in an increasingly difficult world, the United States must tap the intelligence of all of our citizens. We need to challenge ourselves to function at a higher level and not be satisfied with sappy slogans and emotional formulas. This is the time for Americans to question authority, not pay obeisance to it. 


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

About the House: Oblique Strategies and the Home Remodeling Process

By Matt Cantor
Thursday October 22, 2009 - 09:55:00 AM

Before I proceed to plagiarize, I’d like to pay homage to the memory and, in this case, the extraordinary creativity and insight of the makers of the oracle Oblique Strategies. 

In 1975, the musician Brian Eno (and the painter Peter Schmidt) published a set of flash-cards called Oblique Strategies. They still sell through a British supply house for £30.00 and are designed to help musicians (and other artists) break through blocks and expand their creativity. 

An example of one card (there are roughly 100 in the set) is “You can only make one dot at a time.” 

Now, on the face if it, this seems like a silly statement. What dots? Are they musical notes? Paint dots? Pixels in a digital art work? 

The point is for you to see how you might apply these cryptograms to your situation. They are often broad and intentionally incongruous. They are designed to throw you off balance and knock you out of the box you’ve been stuck in. 

Here’s another one that I just love: “Honor thy error as a hidden intention.” 

This is a little easier to wrap one’s mind around. Basically, it says, don’t rush to fix your mistakes. Take a good healthy look at them. Was there something about them that you can learn from or use? Sometimes our mistakes are actually just the right action but so out of step with our current image that they just look wrong at first glance. Take a minute to look carefully at them and you may decide that this is exactly where you should be heading. Isn’t this fun? 

Years ago, my wife and I used to throw the I Ching when we felt stuck or on the horns of something (dilemma or opportunity). Oblique Strategy cards are similar, but they’re also designed specifically to get you to try something new in the interest of the creative process. 

I’ve thought for some time that remodeling or architectural design could make good use of these cards (which are really designed for artists and most specifically for musicians) but I’d like to do one better by suggesting a set just for the housing design professional (or the amateur equivalent). 

So here are a few possible cards one might find in a deck of Oblique Space-Design Strategies: 

“Put inside things outside. Put outside things inside.” 

This one could be interpreted as putting the NFL in your living room on a giant flat screen TV and taking a nap in the back yard, but we can do a little better than that. If one meditates on this mantra, one might put a creek through the hallway and a clawfoot tub on the back porch. 

The first go-around with one of these things might be all wrong, but once you’re out of the box, you can play with the things you find and put them together in a way that you can live with. The real trick is getting out of the damned box. 


Here are some more suggested cards: 

• Use something wobbly that is safe and fun. 

• Install it upside down. Does it work? 

• Consider the sound the room (floor, ceiling, etc.) will make. Give it a song. Make it very quiet. Make it scream. 

• Use color to help people doing something in the room. What are they doing? Is it a plum activity or a vermillion one? 

• What happens if it’s very wide? Short? Long? Round? 

• Make it taller or skinnier than any you’ve seen. 

• What animal is the space? Furry? Fast? Hibernating? Carnivorous? Vocalizing? Mating? 

• If the house is a cell, where are the vacuoles? Mitochondria? Nucleus? Chromasomes? 

• Devote the design of a room/house/ lamp/lawn to a person you love deeply. Let things you love about them manifest in your choices. 

• Make one space that you can feel completely safe in. One you can sleep in for 10 hours. One that feels like a cup of coffee. 

• Have the electrician design the plumbing. Have the gardener design the electrical system. Now compare to the drawings. What did you learn? 

• Try making the square thing round and the round thing square. 

• Take a poem you like and use each of the first 10 words as your overriding design constraints for 10 systems or 10 rooms. 

• Make something really dangerous but exciting. Now work backward to where it’s safe but still feels exciting. 

• Make some portion of the built environment suited to hosting a wild animal (a mouse, moose or elephant). 


Try making up a set for yourself. You can make cards based on throwing the I Ching and interpret them for yourself. In fact, you can base cards on a randomly selected page from a psychology text, a romance novel, a book on feng shui or a guide on resoling shoes. Our brains have an extraordinary ability to pick patterns out of one set of activities or studies and apply them to grossly dissimilar circumstances. Employing this deep skill (or oblique strategy) is one of the great secrets of creative individuals. 

A great resource that has some less wild-haired directives is the not-sufficiently-famous A Pattern Language by the Christopher Alexander and members of the Center for Environmental Structure here at Berkeley. 

A pattern language is similar in that each mantra/fortune/edict can be expres-sed initially as a single line of text, a single phrase, such as “Thick Walls”—pattern 197 (they all have numbers). Each pattern speaks about the way things in buildings feel or work when various features ( or patterns) are manifested and also presents alternatives that change the feeling or function. These patterns far exceed building design and range beyond to design an entire globe. It’s a fun idea, designing a world based on a set of principles culled from previous successes (most patterns are simple observations about what worked well in the past … often the distant past). 

If these various methodologies don’t work for you, try anything. That’s the real message here. Don’t do what everyone else is doing. The architectural world and particularly the remodeling world seen locally is doing just what William Morris observed it to be doing in the 1870s when he was developing the Arts and Crafts movement as a rebellion against industrialization. We’re all being sold our pre-designed dream homes (do we all dream alike?) either whole or in one slab of granite after another. 

A common fear that I hear or see in the nascent remodeler is that what they do will be too different from what everyone else is doing. Professional and homeowners alike seem to lack the bravery to do something even a little different than their neighbors. I guess the advertisements are working. We’re all so afraid of not fitting in. Now, here’s the funny part about this dilemma, and it’s not a warm, fuzzy lifestyle piece: 

Years ago, I remember inspecting a house that someone brave had rehabbed. Each room had different colors and they were terrific, vibrant, strong and emotional. The rooms were rich and had character and voice. The lighting was good (not fancy, just good) and the furnishings were fun and often loud. It was hard not to smile walking through the place. When this place hit the market it went WAY over the typical asking price for a house of this size and location. 

It is clear that it turned people on. Not just one or two odd folks but everyone. The lesson is that individual expression is more widely understood than a dull mass message and that this will be more welcome than most of us fear it will. 

Goethe said, “Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.” Goethe was speaking to the designer or poet just as much as he was to the conqueror. Go boldly. 

Green Neighbors: Help for Getting a Grip on Sudden Oak Death: Part Two

By Ron Sullivan
Thursday October 22, 2009 - 09:56:00 AM
Matteo Garbelotto flashes a photo of Sudden Oak Death on a California bay laurel leaf.
Ron Sullivan
Matteo Garbelotto flashes a photo of Sudden Oak Death on a California bay laurel leaf.

Two years ago, the State of California decided it didn’t have the budget to support individual oak-owners’ efforts to save their trees from Sudden Oak Death. We’re on our own, folks, but we can get help from the University of California, in particular from Matteo Garbelotto’s lab at Berkeley.  

The lab’s free workshops are supported by grants from the U.S. Forest Service and state and private forestry organizations. 

Aside from attending one of these and learning more than you ever could from reading here, there are a few things you can do if you have a susceptible oak. These are only oaks in the “red oak” group: coast live oak, black oak, Shreve oak, and recently, canyon live oak. Valley oaks, so far, are not infected. The bad news is that you’ll have to do some triage. Criteria: trees that mean a lot to you and your landscape—go ahead; be subjective—and trees that have a defensible perimeter.  

Now that the infectious agent is here, our native bay laurels have become Typhoid Marys. Phytophthora ramorum infects their leaves and multiplies, then moves on via water drops. Splashing from the soil, running downhill: whatever water does, the spores ride it. We can’t wipe our laurels out; all else aside, they stump-sprout with great determination.  

First place in the triage line goes to oaks that aren’t within 30 feet of bay laurels. You can prune back overhanging laurels, especially if they’re downhill or on the same level with your oak, and that cuts the chance of SOD considerably. Bay laurel leaves show signs of SOD in a patchy manner; not all leaves show the irregular line of darkening near the tips or the black line and yellow “halo” of Phytophtora—even then, those might not be P. ramorum, the dangerous one.  

Look for lesions where water runs—on the tips of downward-hanging leaves and at the base of upstanding leaves. The hitch is that bay laurel leaves can have spots and lesions from all sorts of things from infections to momentary water shortages to insects and even adventurous animals, especially if they’re in the shade. Gray fuzz, for example, looks alarmingly like but isn’t SOD.  

Tanoaks get really sick with SOD and can spread it—a scary thing for the many critters that live on them—and even redwood needles can spread it. You might see it on rhododendrons; again look for it where water sits. It infects plants of all sorts; it’s just that many don’t get sick from it.  

If you see ambrosia beetle signs (e.g., sawdust) or lots of black “charcoal balls” (fruiting bodies of the fungus Hypoxylon) on the trunk, then the tree’s doomed. Opportunistic infections like this follow SOD; you don’t see them until it’s too late. 

Next: A remedy or two, maybe. 




1–3 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 4, and Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2009, at the Tolman Hall “Portico” on the UC Berkeley campus. Admission is free, but registration is required. E-mail your name, preferred date, and affiliation (if applicable) to kpalmieri@berkeley.edu, or call 847-5482. Register ASAP, as registration is on a first come-first serve basis, with a 20-person limit per session. 



Next workshop: Sudden Oak Death Syndrome: What to look for and what to do. 

Arts & Events

Arts Calendar

Thursday October 22, 2009 - 09:53:00 AM



Saint Mary’s College High School Performing Arts Department “Alice in Wonderland” Thurs.- Sat. at 7:30 p.m. in the school auditorium, 1294 Albina Ave. Tickets are $6-$8. www.saintmaryschs.org  


Photographs by Kim Stringfellow at 6 p.m. at UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism Center for Photography, Northgate Hall, Hearst and Euclid. 


Kay Redfield Jamison “Nothing Was The Same” at 7:30 p.m. at the The Hillside Club, 2286 Cedar St. Tickets are $6-$15. www.brownpapertickets.com 

Joshua Beckman and Graham Foust read their poetry at 7:30 p.m. at Mrs. Dalloways, 2904 College Ave. 704-8222. 

Kim Stanley Robinson and Terry Bisson read at 7:30 p.m. at Moe’s Books, 2476 Telegraph Ave. 849-2087. 

Richie Unterberger presents his latest book “White Love/White Heat: The Velvet Underground Day-by-Day” at 7 p.m. at the El Cerrito Library, 6510 Stockton Ave., El Cerrito. 526-7512. 


The Other Guise Grateful Dead Night at 9:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $3. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

Frank Wakefield at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $18.50-$19.50. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 

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

Not Just for Singers with Branice McKenzie and Glen Pearson, piano, at 7:30 p.m. at Oakland Public Conservatory of Music, 1616 Franklin St., Oakland. 836-4649. 

Jeff Kanzler Band, The Whiskey Dicks at 9 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $6. 841-2082. www.starryploughpub.com 

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

Benefit for KUSF’s Friday Night Session at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 843-8277. 



Actors Ensemble of Berkeley “As It Is in Heaven” Fri. and Sat. at 8 p.m. at Live Oak Theater, 1301 Shattuck Ave., through Nov. 19. Tickets are $12-$15. 649-5999. www.aeofberkeley.org 

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 

Berkeley Rep “American Idiot” at 2025 Addison St., through Nov. 15. Tickets are $32-$86. www.berkeleyrep.org 

Berkeley Rep “Tiny Kushner” Short plays by Tony Kushner at the Thrust Stage, 2025 Addison, through Nov. 29. Tickets are $33-$71. 647-2949 www.berkeleyrep.org 

Central Works “Blastosphere!” Thurs.-Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 5 p.m. through Nov. 22 at The Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant Ave. Tickets are $14-$25. 558-1381. centralworks.org 

Community Voices Theater Project “How Smart Is Education?” Thurs.-Sat. at 8 p.m. at Laney College Theater, 900 Fallon St., Oakland. Tickets are $5-$10. 464-3161. 

Ragged Wing Ensemble “So Many Ways to Kill a Man” Thurs.-Sat. at 8 p.m. at Metal Shop Theater, 2425 Stuart St. at Willard School, through Oct. 24. Tickets are $15-$30. 1-800-838-3006. www.raggedwing.org 

Saint Mary’s College High School Performing Arts Department “Alice in Wonderland” Thurs.- Sat. at 7:30 p.m. in the school auditorium, 1294 Albina Ave. Tickets are $6-$8. www.saintmaryschs.org  

TheatreFirst “Stones in His Pockets” Thurs.-Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 2 p.m. at Marion E. Greene Theatre, ground floor of The Fox Oakland Building, 19th St. entrance, through Nov. 8. Tickets are $15-$30. www.brownpapertickets.com 

Virago Theatre Company “The Afterlife of the Mind” Fri. and Sat. at 8 p.m. at tThe Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby Ave. Tickets are $15-$25. 865-6237. www.viragotheatre.org 

Youth Musical Theater “A Chorus Line” Fri. and Sat. at 7:30 p.m., Sun. at 2 p.m. at Julia Morgan Theater, 2640 College Ave. Tickets are $10-$20. www.brownpapertickets.com 


Timothy Kadish New Paintings. Opening reception at 6 p.m. at Alphonse Berber Gallery, 2546 Bancroft Way. info@alphonseberber.com 


“Tragos” A film by Antero Alli at 8 p.m. at Grace North Church, 2138 Cedar St. Cost is $6-$10. www.verticalpool.com 


Michael Lewis in Conversation with Dacher Keltner in a benefit for the Greater Good Science Center, at 7:30 p.m. at Zellerbach Playhouse, UC campus. Tickets are $25. www.greatergoodscience.org 

Deepak Chopra “Reinventing the Body, Resurrecting the Soul: How to Create a New Self” at 7:30 p.m. at FCCB, in the sanctuary at 2345 Channing Way at Dana. Tickets are $35, includes an autographed copy of book. www.brownpapertickets.com 

Milvia Street 2009 Publication celebration with art exhibit at 6:45 p.m. and readings by contributors at 7:30 p.m. at Berkeley City College, 2050 Center St. scoleman@peralta.edu 

Leonard Pitt presents “Paris Postcards: The Golden Age” at 7:30 p.m. at Mrs. Dalloways, 2904 College Ave. 704-8222. 


Lichi Fuentes with Argentinian guitarist, Hugo Wainzinger and Peruvian percussionist Raul Ramirez at 8 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $14-$16. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

“Songs the Brothers Warner Taught Me” CD Release Party, Megan Lynch with Tony Marcus, Steven Strauss and Billy Wilson at 8 p.m. at DaSilva Ukulele Co., 2547 8th St., Suite 28. Cost is $15. 649-1548. www.ukemaker.com 

Valerie Cooper at 5 p.m. at at It’s A Grind, 555 12th St., Oakland. 268-9902. 

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

Eric Swinderman’s Straight Outta Oakland at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $14. 841-JAZZ. www.AnnasJazzIsland.com 

Native Elements, Mega Banton & the Reggae All-stars in a birthday bash for Ras Kidus, at 9:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $15-$20. 525-5054.  

Chris Smither at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $20.50-$21.50. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 

Tempest, Points North at 9:30 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $12. 841-2082. www.starryploughpub.com 

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

The Grease Traps at 9 p.m. at Shattuck Down Low. Cost is $8. 548-1159.  

Code Name: Jonah at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 843-8277. 



Los Amiguitos de La Peña with Bonnie Lockhart at 10:30 a.m. at La Peña. Cost is $5 for adults, $4 for children. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

Jack O’ Lantern Jamboree from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. with parade at 1:30 and 4:30 p.m. at Children’s Fairyland, 699 Bellevue Ave., Oakland. 296-4433.  


“3AM: Under the Full Moon” New work by Christopher Romer. Opening reception at 6 p.m. at The Compound Gallery, 6604 San Pablo Ave., Oakland. www.thecompoundgallery.com 

“Counts & Constructs” Works by Augusta Talbot and Eli Noyes. Sat. and Sun. 1 to 5 p.m. to Nov. 1. at Garage Gallery, 3110 Wheeler St. www.berkeleyoutlet.com 

“Space/Place” featuring works by Claudio Cambon, Sherrod Blankner and Kim Bass. Opening reception at 7 p.m. at 4th Street Studio, 1717d 4th St. 

“30 Days Later” Art exhibit planned in just one month with works by artists associated with Berkeley City College, at 5 p.m. at The Space, near High St., 4148 MacArthur Blvd., Oakland. www.thespaceoakland.com 

Rock’n Comics Exhibition Sat. and Sun. from noon to 6 p.m. at D. King Gallery, 2284 Fulton St. Guest artist on Sat. is Lee Conklin (Fillmore, Santana). Guest artist on Sun. is Ernie Chan (Batman, Conan). 849-2094. houseofcomics.com  


“Reality Playthings” experiments in experience with Frank Moore at 8 p.m. at Temescal Arts Center, 511 48th St. www.eroplay.com 


Islam and Authors: A Conversation with Anouar Majid at 8 p.m. at Islamic Cultural Center of Northern California, 1433 Madison St., Oakland. Tickets are $5-$7. 832-7600, hamza@iccnc.org 

Music Business Seminar sponsored by California Lawyers for the Arts from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at Ex’pression College for Digital Arts, 6601 Shellmound St. Cost is $25-$70. 415-775-7200. www.calawyersforthearts.org 

Kazuko Nakane, Stan Yogi and poet Alan Chong Lau discuss Central Valley immigrant history, stories and poetry at 3 p.m. at Eastwind Books of Berkeley, 2066 University Ave. 548-2350. 

David Sax reads from “Save the Deli” at 4 p.m. at Saul’s Restaurant and Deli, 1475 Shattuck Ave. www.saulsdeli.com 


San Francisco Early Music Society “Strings of the Streicher Trio” with Elizabeth Blumenstock at 7:30 p.m. at St. John’s Presbyterian Church, 2727 Colleges at Garber. Tickets are $10-$25. 528-1725. www.sfems.org 

Flute Recital with Isabelle Chapuis and Mark Anderson, piano, at 8 p.m. at Trinity Chapel, 2320 Dana St. Tickets are $8-$12. 549-3864. www. 


“Songs of Love and Light” Mezzosoprano Anne Shapiro, pianist Rebecca Trujillo, cellist Gael Alcock, guitarist Javier Trujillo present Latin American classical music, in a benefit for the Ridhwan School at 7:30 p.m. at Ridhwan Center, 2075 Eunice St. Suggested donation $20. www.diamond-dust.org/newbuilding 

Anna Estrada at 8 p.m. at La Peña. Cost is $12-$14. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

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

Baba Ken & Afro-Groove Connexion at 9:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $13-$15. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com  

Reilly & Maloney at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $18.50-$19.50. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 

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

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

Pam and Jerry, Clair at 9:30 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $10. 841-2082.  

Macabea at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 843-8277. 



Rachel Rodriguez presents her new picture book, “Building on Nature: The Life of Antoni Gaudi” at 3 p.m. at Mrs. Dalloways, 2904 College Ave. 704-8222. 

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


Gary Vaynerchuk on “Crush It! Why Now Is The Time To Cash In On Your Passion” at 7:30 p.m. at The Hillside Club, 2285 Cedar St. Tickets are $6-$15. www.brownpapertickets.com 

“Snow in May” Dramatized English-language reading of a 1966 Finnish play about a dysfunctional middle class urban family, " at 2 p.m. at Finnish Kaleva Hall, 1970 Chestnut. Donation $5. 849-0125. latoja86@hotmail.com 

Poetry Flash with Jennifer K. Sweeney and Patti Trimble at 7:30 p.m. at Moe’s Books, 2476 Telegraph. 525-5476. 


Community Music Day with performances from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Crowden Music Center, 1475 Rose St. 559-6910. info@crowden.org 

Oakland Civic Orchestra with Alina Ming-Kobialka, violin, at 4 p.m. at Lake Merritt United Methodist Church, 1330 Lakeshore Ave., Oakland. Free. 238-7275. 

Allen Temple Baptist Church Men’s Chorus Benefit for South African Child Care Center at 2 p.m. at Allen Temple Auditorium, 8501 International Blvd., Oakland. Tickets are $15. 433-0175. www.allen-temple.org 

Samantics performs music for movies and television, including Ennio Morricone, Henry Mancini and John Barry, at 3 p.m. at All Saints Chapel at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific, 2451 Ridge Rd. Tickets are $10 at the door. 

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

Rita Hosking & Cousin Jack at 5 p.m. at Jupiter. 843-8277. 

Bill Ortiz at 4:30 p.m. at the Jazzschool. Cost is $15. 845-5373. www.jazzschool.com 

Barefoot at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $18.50-$19.50. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 

Rhythm and Blues at 7 p.m. at Chester’s Bay View Cafe, 1508 Walnut St. 849-9995. 



“Concrete Abstractions” by photographer John Bergholm, on display through Dec. 2 at Cafe Tomate, 2265 5th St. 


Poetry Express open mic theme night on elders and ancestors at 7 p.m. at Priya Restaurant, 2072 San Pablo Ave. 644-3977. 


Classical at the Freight Percussion Fest at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage Coffee House. Cost is $8.50-$9.50. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 



The Lee Piano Trio performs Bloch, Mendelssohn, Nathaniel Stookey at 8 p.m. at Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant Ave. Tickets are $25, high school students, free; post-high school students, $10. 525-5211. www. 


Courtableu at 8:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cajun dance lesson at 8 p.m. Cost is $10. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

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

Four Schillings Short at 7 p.m. at Julies Coffee and Tea Garden, 1223 Park St., Alameda. 865-2385. 



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


Wednesday Noon Concert, with Scottish and Irish folk songs at Hertz Hall, UC campus. Free. 642-4864. http://music.berkeley.edu 

Black Olive Babes, Southern Balkan and Middle Eastern, at 7 p.m. at Le Bateau Ivre Resturant, 2629 Telegraph Ave. 

UC Jazz at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $6. 841-JAZZ. www.AnnasJazzIsland.com 

Johnny Nitro & The Doorslammers at 8:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Blues dance lesson at 8 p.m. Cost is $10. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

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

Montuno Swing at 9:30 p.m. at Shattuck Down Low, 2284 Shattuck Ave. Cost is $8. 548-1159.  

Wayward Monks at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 843-8277. 



Kaja Silverman discusses her new book “Flesh of My Flesh” with Judith Butler and Anne Wagner at 5:30 p.m. at University Press Books, 2430 Bancroft Way. 548-0585. 

“Metaphysical Abstraction: Contemporary Approaches to Spiritual Content” Panel discussion with exhibition curators and artists at 7 p.m. at Berkeley Art Center. 644-6893. berkeleyartvcenter.org 

Irene Khan on “The Unheard Truth: Poverty and Human Rights” at 7:30 p.m. at FCCB, 2345 Channing Way at Dana. Tickets are $10-$13. www.brownpapertickets.com 

Jonathan Lethem reads from his new novel “Chronic City” at 7:30 p.m. at Moe’s Books, 2476 Telegraph Ave. 849-2087. 

Antero Alli reads from his new book “The Eight-Circuit Brain” at 7:30 p.m. at Finnish Brotherhood Hall, 1970 Chestnut. 464-4640. 


Beaufunk at 8:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $10. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

Catie Curtis at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $18.50-$19.50. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 

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

The Real Tom Thunder, The Mitchell Experiment, Emily Stein at 9 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $5. 841-2082. www.starryploughpub.com 



Actors Ensemble of Berkeley “As It Is in Heaven” Fri. and Sat. at 8 p.m. at Live Oak Theater, 1301 Shattuck Ave., through Nov. 21. Tickets are $12-$15. 649-5999. www.aeofberkeley.org 

Aurora Theatre “Fat Pig” through Dec. 6, at 2081 Addison St. Tickets are $15-$55. 843-4822. auroratheatre.org 

Berkeley Rep “American Idiot” at 2025 Addison St., through Nov. 15. Tickets are $32-$86. www.berkeleyrep.org 

Berkeley Rep “Tiny Kushner” Short plays by Tony Kushner at the Thrust Stage, 2025 Addison, through Nov. 29. Tickets are $33-$71. 647-2949 www.berkeleyrep.org 



Central Works “Blastosphere!” Thurs.-Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 5 p.m. through Nov. 22 at The Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant Ave. Tickets are $14-$25. 558-1381. centralworks.org 

Masquers Playhouse “The Rocky Horror Show” Fri. and Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 2:30 p.m. at 105 Park Place, Point Richmond, and runs through Dec. 12. Tickets are $18. 232-4031. www.masquers.org 

TheatreFirst “Stones in His Pockets” Thurs.-Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 2 p.m. at Marion E. Greene Theatre, ground floor of The Fox Oakland Building, 19th St. entrance, through Nov. 8. Tickets are $15-$30. www.brownpapertickets.com 

Virago Theatre Company “The Afterlife of the Mind” Fri. and Sat. at 8 p.m. at tThe Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby Ave. Tickets are $15-$25. 865-6237. www.viragotheatre.org 


“Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein” at 8 p.m. at the Paramount Theatre, 2025 Broadway, Oakland. Tickets are $5. 1-800-745-3000. 

“Psyche and Cinema: Bride of Frankenstein” Film screening and discussion at The Dream Institute, 1672 University at McGee. Cost is $15-$30. 496-6060. dream-institute.org 

“Object Knowledge: Art Artifact, and Authority in Southeast Asia” A conference with historians, art historians, anthropologists and curators in an exploration of the social life of things, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant Ave. Registration required. http://ieas.berkeley.edu/ConferenceRegistration 


University Symphony Orchestra at 8 p.m. at Hertz Hall, UC campus. Tickets are $5-$10. 642-4864. http://music.berkeley.edu 

Los Boleros, Halloween dance party, at 9 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $10-$12. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

Creative Voices with Molly Skuse and Rebecca Griffin at 8 p.m. at the Jazzschool. Cost is $15. 845-5373. www.jazzschool.com 

Ken Husbands Group with Susanna Smith at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $14. 841-JAZZ. www.AnnasJazzIsland.com 

Shimshai, Aluna at 9 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $12-$15. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

The Waybacks at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $20.50-$21.50. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 

Fred Firth, Mirthkon at 9:30 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $10. 841-2082. www.starryploughpub.com 

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

Oola Rock Steady, Honey Chile, Relapse, Planting Seeds at 9 p.m. at Shattuck Down Low, 2284 Shattuck Ave. Cost is $10. 548-1159.  

Marcus Shelby Trio at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 843-8277. 



Los Amiguitos de La Peña Halloween songs with Ingrid Noye at 10:30 a.m. at La Peña. Cost is $5 for adults, $4 for children. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 


Jesus Sosa, Oaxacan master woodcarver and painter, will demonstate his work, Sat. and Sun. from noon to 5 p.m. at Talavera Ceramics, 1801 University Ave.  


A Conversation with Don Byron at 3:30 p.m. at the Jazzschool. Cost is $20. 845-5373. www.jazzschool.com 

Thomas Turman on “WAWA, West Africa Wins Again” a memoir of teaching in Ghana in the 60s, at 2 p.m. at Berkeley Public Library, 2090 Kittredge St. 981-6151. 


University Symphony Orchestra at 8 p.m. at Hertz Hall, UC campus. Tickets are $5-$10. 642-4864. http://music.berkeley.edu 

La Monica “Out of the Depths: The Birth of a German Style” at 7:30 p.m. at St. John’s Presbyterian Church, 2727 College at Garber. Tickets are $10-$25. 528-1725. www.sfems.org 

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

Ghosts of Electricity with Mookie Siegel, Robin Sylvester, Greg Anton and others at 9:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $10. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com  

Mike Meezy Halloween Bash at 9 p.m. at Shattuck Down Low, 2284 Shattuck Ave. Cost is $10. 548-1159. www.shattuckdownlow.com 

Wake the Dead at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $18.50-$19.50. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 

Deuce, with Jean Fineberg and Ellen Seeling at 7 p.m. at the Jazzschool. Cost is $16-$20, under 16, $10. 845-5373. www.jazzschool.com 

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

Larry Stefl Jazz Quartet at 9:30 p.m. at Albatross, 1822 San Pablo Ave. Cost is $3. 843-2473. www.albatrosspub.com 

Hippie Halloween Costume and Dance Party featuring Country Joe McDonald and live 60s tributes at 8 p.m. at Art House Gallery & Cultural Center, 2905 Shattuck Ave. Cost is $15. 482-3336. 

Guns for Sebastian Halloween party at 10 p.m. at Beckett’s Irish Pub, 2271 Shattuck Ave. 647-1790. www.beckettsirishpub.com 

12th Annual Murder Ballads Bash at 9:30 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $10. 841-2082. www.starryploughpub.com 



Kenneth Cardwell Oral History Reception Celebrating the work by Paul Grunland at 2 p.m. at Berkeley Historical Society, Veterans Memorial Building. 848-0181. 

Camille T. Dungy, Chad Sweeney, and Russell Dillon, poets, read from their work from the latest Parthanon West Review at 7:30 p.m. at Pegasus Books Downtown, 2349 Shattuck Ave. 649-1320. 

Dan Alter, poet, reads at 2 p.m. at Mo’Joe Cafe, 2517 Sacramento St., Suite A.  


Oakland Youth Chorus Music of Our World Benefit Show Music and dance from diverse African and Afro-American traditions at 7 p.m. at La Peña. Cost is $10-$25. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

Zoyres Eastern European Wild Ferment at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $10. 841-JAZZ. www.AnnasJazzIsland.com 

UC Folkdancers’ Reunion at 1:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $7. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

Chip Taylor at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $18.50-$19.50. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 



TheatreFIRST Makes Return Throwing ‘Stones’

By Ken Bullock, Special to the Planet
Thursday October 22, 2009 - 09:50:00 AM

On a mostly-bare set—a couple of chairs at skewed angles across the stage, a cabinet with a broadbrimmed hat and a cap on the shelves and clothing on hangers at the sides—two men pose, seeming to lurch together as Irish music strikes up to open TheatreFIRST’s production of Marie Jones’ Stones in his Pockets—the first production in the company’s return to downtown Oakland. 

The two begin a dense dialogue, one at first asking for lemon meringue pie, but for his mate, then talking up someone on the run, how they were dressed, and that “They’ll check on Polaroid who had on what.” The glib, funny, strung-along duet finally settles—or boils—down: “You know that man’s famous?”—as “the last surviving extra from The Quiet Man” gets pointed out—and we’re on location in Ireland with the locals called in for color, the American starlet with the Italian surname given a dialect lesson, a joke between production team members on set that proves prophetic: “What do you call a Kerryman with brains? ... Dangerous!” (To the puzzled reply, “I don’t get that,” a smug “You will!”) 

The life of the shoot unfolds before us—and the life of the town, extras and crew mingling in the pub as the stars make an entrance and the locals waffle between wisecracks and acting starstruck. 

The counterpoint to the “hectic compression” of the filmmaking scene presented is that all of it is performed by the two actors, which not only ups the ante of nervous energy considerably but also allows a different kind of storytelling and theatricality, vaudevillized maybe, but not the kind of extended comedy sketch-iness we’ve become accustomed to in live theater as well as on the tube. Clive Worsley (very familiar to local theatergoers and artistic director of Townhall Theatre in Lafayette) plays Charlie, a hale fellow hawking a script, and Kevin Karrick, his fellow “40-a-day man,” the somewhat more reticent, reflective Jake, just back from a stint in the States he’s a little evasive about.  

Peeling off from their funny tête-à-têtes and set-tos, real and merely acted out for effect, one or the other takes on another persona from the film set in a kind of syncopation of the marchtime of the two workbuddy extras. Sometimes it’s a duet, usually just for a moment, of the studio folk rehearsing their own patois and mores. 

The effect is delightfully insidious, pulling the audience into the action as it leans back and laughs at and along with the Kerrymen as they’re put through the hoops in repeated takes of cheering for the triumph of the gentry (the A. D. can’t fathom why they’re so halfhearted), a single take of looking tragic (no problem for melancholis such as these) and some well-choreographed yet silly step-dancing.  

A quibble from a British online review noted “not enough is revealed about the life of community outside of their roles as extras”—but this is the strategy by which two actors can carry the play—without either bathos or mere parody, rising at points to genuine touches of satire, relying only on voice and gesture. 

More than just a comedy, though in Stones even the grimmest glimpse of the reality of what play-acting, studio glamor and the easy flow of cash, drugs and promises (stated and implied) do to the social landscape, is seen with a humorous slant. Behind both the bravado and the poor mouthing, there’s a kind of aphasia from desperation, driving one young man, ousted from the pub and shamed in front of his neighbors, over the brink ... thus the title of the play—and of yet another script within it, cooked up by the buddy act to both put the tragic into perspective and to capitalize a little on it. 

With Worsely and Karrick’s deft trouping—something that doesn’t just enhance the script and its setting and theme, but which it demands as its raison d’etat—and Michael Storm’s (TheatreFIRST’s new artistic director) actor’s touch in directing, Stones in his Pockets is an apt start for a new season, a new theater (in their old stomping grounds) and a new artistic directorship, continuing afresh with the company’s old commitment to socially aware international material, staged with economy and artistry. 

And the Marion E. Green Theatre, aka the 19th Street Theatre, around the corner off Telegraph from the main entrance but inside the Fox Theatre building, deserves a mention: Home to the Oakland School for the Arts, with which TheatreFIRST has a collaborative relationship, the black-box theater realizes TheatreFIRST’s longstanding but often-thwarted commitment to bring real, resident theater back to the heart of Oakland.  

After opening night’s show, spectators celebrating with the cast and the production team in the lobby could be heard commenting on the new urbanity of the neighborhood and the ease in getting there, BART barely a block away. It’s good to have one of this area’s best independent companies back on its own turf, in its own, well-deserved home. 





8 p.m., Thurs.–Fri., 2 p.m. Sun. through Nov. 8,  

Marion E. Green Theatre,19th St. off Telegraph, side entrance of Fox Theatre Building, Oakland.  

Tickets: $25-$30 

436-5085; www.theatrefirst.com

‘Islam and Authors’ Series Begins at Oakand Islamic Cultural Center

By Ken Bullock, Special to the Planet
Thursday October 22, 2009 - 09:51:00 AM

“With the expulsion of the Moors by decree of the Spanish crown, assisted by other European powers, 400 years ago, in 1609—at 5 percent of the population, the worst ethnic cleansing in modern Europe until the 20th century—the Moor became the template, the archetype for the alien, the universal minority figure in the modern world,” said Professor Anouar Majid, director of the Center for Global Humanities at the University of New England, who will discuss his book, We Are All Moors (University of Minnesota Press), with Hamza Van Boom and the audience Saturday for the inaugural event in the Islam and Authors series at the Islamic Cultural Center of Northern California, near the main library in downtown Oakland.  

“Spain was in the process of consolidating a national identity: a common faith, a common language and a national state from the territory ruled by feudal lords. It was really the first to do so in Europe. In 1492, when the Reconquest of Spain from the Moors was complete, the Moors who remained were given all rights and privileges, but they were forced to convert to Catholicism. They were known as the Moriscos, ‘Little Moors,’ a pejorative, and were under the jurisdiction of the Inquisition. There were statutes written concerning purity of blood, as synonymous with race, religion for the first time, the predecessor to what happened in the last century. A priest described the losses in the conflict as ‘the agreeable holocast,’ a burnt offering to God. The Moor became literally in the language an undesirable alien. And since the First Crusade, Jews had been closely identified with Muslims in the West. In fact, much of Jewish history until the creation of Israel is closely identified with Islamic heritage. Much Jewish theology and poetry were written in Islamic societies. Emancipated Jews in Germany claimed Moorish heritage and built synagogues on Moorish models, as many synagogues in the U. S. have been built. Germans were puzzled; instead of becoming European, Jews were claiming Oriental identity, as Benjamin Disraeli had constantly boasted of his Sephardic origins.” 

Majid noted that even as late as the concentration camps of the 1930s and ’40s, “the Nazis referred to Jews, to the most wretched who had been consigned to death, as Musselmen—Moslems. If Jews and Moslems could become aware of their common history, of the common image they’ve had in the European imagination, maybe there could be a human foundation to begin a discussion.” 

The title of his book comes from the remark of a participant in a Spanish rural fiesta of the 1990s, one of many in which locals dress up, “half the village as Moors, the other half as Christians, and reenact the battles of the Reconquista, complete with costumes and Moorish flair—big ceremonial events all over Spain. The villagers often compete to be the Moors, because they have the better costumes! In this village, near Alicante, the patron saint is represented in a painting as a black woman. There’s a great deal of ambivalence in it all.” 

Hamza Van Boom of the Islamic Cultural Center said the series, designed to introduce new and important books and other literary works about Islam to the Bay Area community, would be “a mix ... we have a playwright, a journalist and an academic coming up, as well as the author of books for young adults. Dave Eggers will be here next year.” 

Van Boom continued: “Some people have asked why Muslims aren’t saying things about progressive issues, about human rights. There are muslim voices speaking to those issues that are not being heard, as well as a new movement in the arts, humanities and literature. In the past, immigrants, for social reasons, usually chose business careers.” 

This spring, the Cultural Center plans to host a film festival of work from young muslim filmmakers. Van Boom also mentioned working with an artist to make a documentary using the poetry of Hafiz, one of the greatest Islamic poets, who inspired writers in the West such as Goethe and Emerson, to “look at the lives of muslims in the Bay Area.” He also noted the Center has staged events recently, like a performance of Rumi-style dervish dancing. “Arts and cultural activities are the best way to reach out; the general public—muslim, nonmuslim and secular—can come together and have discussions.” 

Both van Boom and Ali Sheikoleslami, executive director of the Center, stressed that its programs supported unity in the muslim community.  

“We are an independent nonprofit, founded in 1995,” said Sheikoleslami, a cofounder. “We have a language school for Farsi, and classes in Islamic ethics are held here, mostly for teenagers and younger. We do interfaith work with the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, Montclair Presbyterian Church and Kehilla Community Synagogue in Piedmont. Our programs are cosponsored by the Islamic Media Network and Illume Media Organization. Other Pan-Islamic groups use the Center for fundraising activities for scholarship funds, for instance. Our mission is to inform others of the message of Islam and how we may contribute to society.” 

The historical building on Monroe Street occupied by the Islamic Cultural Center is a Masonic building, appropriately enough in Moorish Revival style, dating from 1909. Sheikoleslami noted the Center has won recognition, including an award, for the restoration of the building and improvements made.  

“Designed as a Masonic building, it was set up for performances of music, theater, dance, poetry,” said Van Boom. “We’re looking forward to presenting more in the future.”  


Islam and Authors:  

A conversation with Professor Anouar Majid, author of We Are All Moors,  

8 p.m. Sat.  

Islamic Cultural Center of Northern  

California, 1433 Madison St., Oakland.  

Tickets: $5-$7  

832-7600; hamza@iccnc.org

Recalling the Days When Savio Spoke for the Movement

By Conn Hallinan, Special to the Planet
Thursday October 22, 2009 - 09:52:00 AM

There are few more difficult tasks than writing an interesting biography, particularly if the subject is someone most people know very little about.  

If the subject is Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War-historian James McPherson’s Tried by War comes to mind—the reader is likely to have an appetite for details.  

But if the subject is Mario Savio, one of the leaders of the 1964 Free Speech Movement (FSM), then the writer needs to thread a careful path between the personal and the political, with an emphasis on the latter. 

New York University historian Robert Cohen tries to do both, and at least partially succeeds. He does an admirable job of uncovering the experiences that turned a stuttering Queens, New York altar boy into a formidable orator, and there are times where the author does a brilliant job of capturing the passion and the power of Savio’s rhetorical style.  

If there is a weakness in the book it is that the great social upheaval Savio was an important part of sometimes recedes into the background. 

The core of Cohen’s book focuses on the FSM, although his examination of Savio’s political education in Mexico and Mississippi fills in how those experiences help mold a young man who had but recently broken loose from a powerful connection to Catholicism.  

When Savio arrived on the Berkeley campus it was already a center of political activity. Berkeley’s progressive student organization, SLATE, helped chase the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) out of San Francisco in 1960, and Cal students had joined demonstrations challenging the racist hiring practices of San Francisco’s hotels and car agencies.  

But in the fall of 1964 Berkeley was still tangential to the massive sit-ins and demonstrations around HUAC, the Sheridan Palace Hotel, and the big car sales outlets on San Francisco’s Van Ness Avenue. The city has a long history of political activism dating back even before the successful 1934 general strike, and it featured a strong Left and a powerful union movement that was highly political, and much of it racially integrated.  

Cohen gives that history a nod—it should get more—but focuses on the FSM. Since this is a biography of a free speech leader, that is understandable, but it ends up sidelining some of the wider political and social tides that set the stage for the Berkeley uprising. 

This is not to say that the author doesn’t attempt to place the FSM within a wider context. On one hand, he chronicles in detail the events and the decision making in the FSM. On the other, he tries to echo the rumbles of social unrest that eventually exploded into a generation of activism. One wishes Cohen had spent a little more time on the wider issues and trimmed some of the FSM minutiae.  

One problem with contemporary history is that so much of it depends on with whom you talk. The FSM was a complex movement with dozens of currents and eddies. Cohen is particularly enamored with the New Left, which indeed played a very important role in the struggle. He is less so with the old Left, which also played a key role, particularly in mobilizing outside support for the students.  

As one example, he talks at length with conservative faculty member John Searle, who while supporting the FSM, was a caustic critic of the Left, and later became a staunch opponent of student activism.  

In contradistinction, biologist Leon Wofsy gets a single quote. Yet Wofsy’s political savvy and organizational experience played a key role in finally bringing the Academic Senate around to supporting the FSM. But Wofsy was “old Left” and one suspects his brevity as a source is partly related to that fact. 

The book leans heavily on a few leaders, in particular, Jack Weinberg. While other leaders like Bettina Aptheker and Jackie Goldberg get a say, they feel extraneous. Yet they—and many others—played as important a role as Savio and Weinberg. 

Focusing on a few misses the rank-and- file students who were the core strength of the FSM. Out of 800 students arrested in the great Dec. 2 Sproul Hall sit-in, fully 61 percent had never been involved in demonstrations before the free speech fight.  

Cohen spends a lot of time on Savio as an orator, analyzing his speeches in sometimes exhausting detail. The man could indeed talk, but what made him so effective was less his rhetorical style than the fact that he channeled what people were thinking. It wasn’t quotations from Greek philosophers that fired the troops, it was the issues at stake and the inability of university officials to understand anything but the use of force. 

Cohen correctly identifies what made Savio an effective speaker: he was thoughtful, honest and straightforward, breaking down what the issues were and exactly what the administration said during negotiations. 

That deep-seated honesty was central to his character, and it resonated with his audience. When it came time to take the Bastille, you wanted Mario to make a speech and lead the charge. 

The last part of the book deals with Savio’s later psychological difficulties, his withdrawal from activism, and his return to politics until his death in 1996. The book also includes many of Savio’s speeches and writings. 

Is this a book for a general audience? One hopes so, because it is well written, and Cohen really does a good job of analyzing the tactics and strategy of the FSM, what worked and what didn’t. In that sense, Freedom’s Orator is a useful blueprint for how to take on one of the most powerful institutions in California.  

True, the issues are different today—though one knows that deep in its dark little heart the university would love to roll back the gains of the FSM—but the beast in 2009 is pretty much the same as it was in 1964. Instead of trying to shut students up these days, the university is doing its best to exclude all but the well- to-do. In the end, it is much the same thing.  

A new generation of activists has appeared on the campuses, fighting to keep the university open to all Californians. They too have marched and struck, and are finding that they are most effective when they tap into their allies outside the ivy tower. There are many of those.  

The arrogance and elitism of the university has not changed a whit from the days when UC Chancellor Edward Strong and UC President Clark Kerr plotted and schemed against the FSM.  

The students who are digging in to take on the university and the regents would do well to read this book. Because in the end its message is simple: get your politics right, recruit allies in the wider world, and mobilize enough students to pull down the walls.  



Conn Hallinan was arrested in Sproul Hall on Dec. 2 1964. 


Freedom’s Orator: Mario Savio and the Radical Legacy of the 1960s 

By Robert Cohen 

Oxford University Press 


Coen Brothers’ ‘A Serious Man’: A Goyishe Guide

By Dave Blake, Special to the Planet
Thursday October 22, 2009 - 09:54:00 AM

Mick LaSalle’s SF Chronicle review of A Serious Man does the Coen brothers an injustice—although his little man was jumping out of the chair‚ because he fails to recognize the movie’s roots. And it’s set in the ’60s not to show, as LaSalle said, that “everything happened, and it all amounted to nothing,” but because the Coens are talking about, literally, the Religion of their Fathers. No other time—or place, a suburb of Minneapolis where they grew up—would do. The Coens are working with sacred material, on the level of what Tom Stoppard did with Hamlet in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. A Serious Man is a retelling of Job, with its comic potential realized. 

Jews, like Buddhists, are skeptical believers. Jews don’t pray in search of salvation or out of fear, but to maintain their side of an odd contract. Job is the biblical book that has long demarcated the bounds of their difficult relationship to God. Job is a thoroughly righteous man picked by God to prove to Satan that His chosen people really love Him and aren’t just doing it for the goodies, wealth and happiness. The throne of heaven was at stake, and if Satan had won, humanity would have been abandoned as God’s naive folly. Every conceivable affliction and misfortune is visited upon Job; God’s special effects department was clearly told not to worry about going over budget. It’s the sacrifice-of-Isaac test in spades. Job holds up stoically—Jesus complaining on the cross was pretty much a wimp in comparison—but the book owes its enduring relevance to the question it leaves unanswered: Why is there evil in the world? Jesus died for everyone’s sins for all time forward, but if evil exists to test the capacity of humankind to follow God’s laws even in the absence of just reward for righteousness, and Job passed the test for humanity, why are we still getting tested? 

Nietzsche’s announcement of God’s death at the end of the 19th century presaged Existentialism, the dominant philosophical movement of the 20th, which has as its central tenet the not-so-compelling revelation “we’re here, so we might as well learn to live with it,” and whose most prominent exponent, Martin Heidegger, was a faithful Nazi Party member. It was a century that would have made an excellent affliction in Job. 

  Job got to go, more or less, face-to-face with the big guy, so the question of His existence wasn’t an issue then. The question of evil got resolved in Job, if you can call it a resolution, in favor of God, who gets to allow evil to exist without having to explain His reasons. But if the resolution instead turns out to be that evil exists because there is no God, then these centuries of sacrifice and endless self-examination and gefilte fish will have been shown to be pointless. So we are putting the best face on a difficult case. That’s why “Tradition” in Fiddler on the Roof is half sarcastic and half sentimental, and how the joke from Annie Hall about relationships applies as well to Woody Allen’s relationship to his religion: A man tells his psychiatrist that his brother thinks he’s a chicken. When the psychiatrist asks why he doesn’t just have his brother committed, he says, “I would, but I need the eggs.” 

My grandfather was a rabbi in Poland in the 1890s, but abandoned his faith when he came to America. After grandma died, he started back into it, dovening—praying aloud but too softly to be overheard—every day and attending services regularly. I once asked him whether, after all his decades as a lost sheep, he really believed his prayers were being heard On High. He said, “Honestly, I don’t know. But what can it hurt?” In the face of the argument of Job, Jews pray mostly because there’s just nothing better to do. (You got something better? Let me know.) 

Here’s another relevant joke. Schmuel’s clock breaks down, so he takes it into town to what he always assumed to be a clock repair store because of the huge grandfather clock in the window. But when he asks the storekeeper whether he can fix it, the reply he gets is, “I don’t fix clocks. I’m a mohel (ritual circumcisionist). So Schmuel asks, “Then why is there a big clock in your window?” and the mohel says, “And just what do you suggest I put there?”

Schwartz’s ‘Berkeley 1900’ Celebrates 10th Birthday

By Ken Bullock, Special to the Planet
Thursday October 22, 2009 - 09:54:00 AM
This amazing group of rascals found fun in West Berkeley on their homemade scooters. The eight-year-old on the far left is Vic Brennan, grandson of one of the Brennan brothers, pioneers in West Berkeley. John Brennan, one of the three pioneer brothers, had a house on Addison Street. The gang appears to be hanging out across from that house on Byron Street.
Courtesy of John Brennan
This amazing group of rascals found fun in West Berkeley on their homemade scooters. The eight-year-old on the far left is Vic Brennan, grandson of one of the Brennan brothers, pioneers in West Berkeley. John Brennan, one of the three pioneer brothers, had a house on Addison Street. The gang appears to be hanging out across from that house on Byron Street.
A young Berkeley family takes off for an outing. Dining room chairs and a fruit basket provide some of the vehicle’s seating.
Collection of the Gamba Family
A young Berkeley family takes off for an outing. Dining room chairs and a fruit basket provide some of the vehicle’s seating.
Six women clown and pose for a photo in the Berkeley Hills, probably around Spruce Street near Regal Road, around the time that the neighborhood began to develop.
Courtesy of Penny Hearn Adams
Six women clown and pose for a photo in the Berkeley Hills, probably around Spruce Street near Regal Road, around the time that the neighborhood began to develop.
A woman named Sarah, whose smile still melts hearts a hundred years later, was employed in a house in the North Berkeley hills as a housekeeper.
Courtesy of Penny Hearn Adams
A woman named Sarah, whose smile still melts hearts a hundred years later, was employed in a house in the North Berkeley hills as a housekeeper.

Richard Schwartz’s montage of century-old newspaper stories from the Berkeley Daily Gazette, Berkeley 1900: Daily Life at the Turn of the Century, with a great wealth of pictures from a variety of sources, has been reprinted in a 10th anniversary edition of more than 300 pages, featuring hundreds of new photos (and six pages of acknowledgments), available from Schwartz’s RSB Books, as well as local bookstores. 

Schwartz, who is originally from Philadelphia and moved to Berkeley after he got out of college in 1973, recalled the “happenstance” way in which the book came about. Author of a single previous book, The Circle of Stones, about a mysterious stone circle in Stampede Valley in the Sierra Nevada, Schwartz began visiting the Berkeley Historical Society, “riveted” by the film of a turn-of-the-century streetcar.  

“Later, as I perused the society’s collection of photographs of old Berkeley, I saw fields where there were entire neighborhoods,” he said. “The university was rolling grassland crossed by the willows of Strawberry Creek. Through these pictures, I experienced the past of my adopted home.” 

On an early visit to the Society, Schwartz heard that a “foot-and-a-half worth of century-old newspapers that had been donated” were in poor condition from mold and were to be “put in the dumpster.” Schwartz reacted. “I jumped up! I couldn’t imagine them thrown away.” Taking them home, where he thought he’d store them, “instead I put them on my dining room table. They were in bound volumes. I opened one up—and was lost in it for three days, mesmerized.” 

Putting yellow Post-Its on pages that struck his eye, Schwartz then started photocopying stories to share with friends, ending up with “30 piles on the living room floor, stories about kids, about animals, crime, medicine, about what they did for fun ... I came in one day and it hit me how I’d share this: 30 piles on the floor, 30 chapters in a book. I couldn’t imagine the town not knowing these stories ... about people just like you and I, living a hundred years ago ... they show you what everyday life was—and their unconscious value system, just as newspapers do today. Though it’s hard for us ‘modern people’ to believe that stuff was written the way it was, with tongue-in-cheek jokes in news stories ... in one article about a bank being robbed, the reporter notes that the bank president ‘held a meeting with himself’! On one hand, it’s a totally different world; on the other, exactly the same. There’s no resolving that; I don’t try.” 

When Berkeley 1900 was first published, Schwartz said, “the response was totally unexpected. The whole first print run of 2,000 books sold out in three weeks. One night a friend and I stood outside Pegasus Bookstore on Solano Avenue, watching one person after another buying it, just laughing in disbelief. It was fun placing it in pet stores, movie theaters, hardware stores, places you don’t usually see books. It was 10 months on the local bestseller list; the Chronicle picked it as Holiday Book of the Year.” 

Schwartz ruminated on the themes that spring from the old stories and photos.  

“You can see the battle of a rural place with farms and animals becoming urban, urban needs budding drop by drop in these articles, about a cow drinking paint, or a horse hit by a train,” he said. “You realize how death was right over their shoulders back then: a young couple takes the train to Santa Cruz for the weekend; by the time they’re back, two of their children have died of diphtheria. People were more on their own back then, except for neighbors. Everybody seemed to belong to fraternal organizations. After the Earthquake, they didn’t wait for government money; they banded together, did it on their own—and when the relief effort worked, disbanded it.” 

Schwartz spoke of recurring details he found poignant: “many people, especially immigrants, carried notes around with them, in their back pockets, so if they died, they wouldn’t be buried in the wrong place ... and you realize this place was loaded with animals. An article tells how a bear was spotted in 1905 near the reservoir up by Spruce Street—and in a pioneer family album, I found a picture of a bear on a chain, on Spruce Street. The same bear?  

“Because of the book, pioneer families have contacted me and offered to share albums. And I’ve been collecting on my own since the first edition came out. I have a kind of radar, when I see a new image: this image goes with that article. Or whoever calls me with an image, I’ll find an article to match.” 

Schwartz cited a few stories that amused him. A building contractor himself, he was taken by a news story about a contractor of a century ago, “reporting a bundle of rope stolen from the back of his wagon—and at the end of the article, it says two detectives were assigned to the case!” Or acerbic pieces, like one about “a famous Berkeley quintessential weirdo, with an overactive imagination, who told everybody he was a government scout, getting married ... kernels of eccentric Berkeley, even back then!” 

Commenting on the images, Schwartz said, “The photographs show us what our imaginations aren’t good enough to realize ... what we take for granted is really all so new. I’ve become so moved by these people who found their way into the newspapers, of their everyday heroism—so proud of them, I’ve felt an obligation to share this with the community. It’s less a book than a kind of neighborhood sharing. There’s something grounding about it.” 





Community Calendar

Thursday October 22, 2009 - 09:22:00 AM


Berkeley Path Wanderers Founders Walk Join BPWA co-founder Pat DeVito on a brisk walk of her favorite paths. Meet at 10 a.m. at the Berkeley Rose Garden, near the sign on Euclid. Walk lasts 2.5 hours. 520-3876.  

Conference on Afghan and Iranian Diaspora Cultures and Communities in the Bay Area with presentations, discussions, film screening, art exhibition, poetry and dance performance, Thurs. from 5 to 7 p.m. and all day Sat. and Sun. at California State University, East Bay, 25800 Carlos Bee Blvd., Hayward. Cost is $35- $50. http://class.csueastbay.edu/Global_Knowledge.php 

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 Epworth Unified Methodist Church, 1953 Hopkins St. For information call 981-7473. 

Berkeley Entrepreneurs Forum for innovation in the semiconductor industry at 6:30 p.m. in Andersen Auditorium, Haas School of Business, UC campus. http://entrepreneurship.berkeley.edu 

National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality at noon at Oakland City Hall Plaza, 14th & Broadway 


City Commons Club Noon Luncheon with Dr. Joel Parrott, Exec. Dir. of the Oakland Zoo, on “The History and Future of the Oakland Zoo” Luncheon at 11:45 a.m. for $15, speech at 12:30 p.m., at the Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant St. For reservations call 527-2173.  

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 


Out of the Darkness Walk A benefit for the American Society for Suicide Prevention at 6 a.m. at The Colonnades, at Lake Merritt. You do not have to fundraise to walk, and any size donation helps. For information email OaklandWalk@aol.com 

“Upholding Dignity: The Farm Worker Struggle Continues” Benefit dinner for AFSC in honor of the commitment to farm worker’s rights, with David Bacon and Jesus Gamboa, the Mayor of Visalia, at 5 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church of Oakland, 2619 Broadway, Oakland. Tickets are $100, some scholarships available. 415-565-0201, ext. 16. jparish@afsc.org 

Help Restore Cerrito Creek at the foot of Albany Hill. Meet at 10 a.m. at Creekside Park, south end of Santa Clara Ave., El Cerrito. Wear closed-toed shoes with good traction and clothes that can get dirty. All ages welcome, snacks, tools, and gloves provided. 848 9358. www.fivecreeks.org 

Project Peace East Bay’s Day of Peace from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Volunteers at Claremont Middle School, 5750 College Ave., in Oakland, and Berkeley’s Leconte Elementary School, 2241 Russell St. will help each school with various building and grounds projects. Those who wish to volunteer may register at www.projectpeaceeastbay.org 

The New School Halloween Bazaar with face painting, children’s games, rummage sale, book sale, lunch, crafts, jump tent, bake sale, mobile bike repair, and live entertainment, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 1606 Bonita at Cedar. 548-9165. 

Haunted House and Family Pre-Halloween Party for all ages with adjustable scariness, from 6:30 to 8:15 p.m. at St. John’s Presbyterian Church, 2727 College Ave. Wear costumes. 845-6830 ext 13. 

Halloween Spook-tacular Music and party with games, Haunted Parlor and fun for the whole family, at 6:30 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church of Alameda, 2001 Santa Clara at Chestnut, Alameda. Free, donations acepted. 522-1477.  

Fall Storytime for preschool children and thier families at 11 a.m. at the Albany Library, 1247 Marin Ave. 526-3720. 

Superheroes and Mythical Monsters Make a cape and mask from 1 to 3 p.m. at Museum of Children’s Art, 538 9th St., Oakland. Cost is $7 per child, $3 per adult. 465-8770. 

Music Business Seminar sponsored by California Lawyers for the Arts from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at Ex’pression College for Digital Arts, 6601 Shellmound St. Cost is $25-$70. 415-775-7200. www.calawyersforthearts.org 

South Berkeley Clinic Acupuncture Day from 8 a.m. to noon at 2880 Sacramento St.  

Walking Tour of Jack London Waterfront Meet at 10 a.m. at the corner of Broadway and Embarcadero. Tour lasts 90 minutes. Reservations can be made by calling 238-3234.  

“Get Well!” Alternative practitioners talk about healing from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Berkeley Public Library, 3rd Flr, 2090 Kittredge. 981-6107. 

Family Art Workshop: Superheroes and Mythical Monsters from 1 to 3 p.m. at Museum of Children’s Art, 538 9th St., Oakland. Cost is $3-$7. 465-8770. www.mocha.org 

Community Reflections on Oakland Homicides Open roundtable discussions set among art exhibits and performances from 4 to 6:30 p.m. in San Antonio Park, Oakland. ace.arts.eastbay@gmail.com 

Albany Reads “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time” Discussion on autism and asberger’s syndrome with Mimi W. Lou, Clinical Director of CHAI, Children's Hospital Autism Intervention at 2 p.m. in the Edith Stone Room of the Albany Library, 1247 Marin Ave., Albany. 526-3720 ext. 5.  

Zombies and Killer Klowns Weekend at Playland-Not-At-The-Beach Sat. and Sun. from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 10979 San Pablo Ave., El Cerrito. Cost is $10-$15. 932-8966.  

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.  


Free/Low-Cost Animal Care including vaccines for dogs and cats, rabies vaccines, microchipping, dog licensing, and spay/neuter vouchers, from 1 to 3 p.m. at Berkeley Animal Care Services, 2013 Second St., cross street Addison. Dogs need to be on a leash; puppies and cats in a carrier. No-one turned away for lack of funds. 981-6603. 

Community Music Day with Instrument Petting Zoo, class demonstrations, performances, food and prizes from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Crowden Music Center, 1475 Rose St. 559-6910. info@crowden.org 

Haunted Caves of the Environmental Education Center with crafts, refreshments and Halloween Lore. For ages 6 and up from 1 to 3:30 p.m. at Tilden Nature Center, Tilden Park. Cost is $4. 544-2233.  

Pumpkin Mania Come and carve pumpkins and make your own mask from 1 to 5 p.m. at Expressions Gallery, 2035 Ashby Ave. 644-4930. 

“The End of Suburbia” A documentary, followed by discussion at 1:30 p.m. at the Albany Library, 1247 Marin Ave., Albany. 528-2261. 

Ssangyong Motor Strike and Occupation in Pyeongtaek, South Korea at 10:30 a.m. at Niebyl-Proctor Library, 6501 Telegraph Ave., at Alcatraz, Oakland. Sponsored by The Institute for Critical Study of Society. www.tifcss.org 

Tour of the Berkeley City Club, the “little castle” designed by Julia Morgan from 1 to 4 p.m. at 2315 Durant Ave. 848-7800. 

Free Sailboat Rides from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Cal Sailing Club, Berkeley Marina. Wear warm, waterproof clothing and bring a change of clothes in case you get wet. Children 5 and over welcome with parent or guardian. www.cal-sailing.org 

“From Mystical Encounters to Social Activism” with Patrick M. McCollum, at 10 a.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley, 1 Lawson Rd., Kensington. 525-0302, ext. 306. 

Jewish Dance Theatre’s “Freylekh” Yiddish dance party with live music by The Freilachmakers Klezmer String Band at 7 p.m. at the JCC of the East Bay. 

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 

Tibetan Buddhism with Judy Rasmussen on “Power of the Tibetan Prayer Flag” at 6 p.m. at the Tibetan Nyingma Institute, 1815 Highland Pl. 809-1000. www.nyingmainstitute.com 


“Dark Secrets: What Science Tells Us About the Hidden Universe” A panel discussion with scientists Saul Perlmutter, David Schlegel, and Alexie Leauthaud at 7 p.m. at Roda Stage, 2015 Addison St. Free. friendsofberkeleylab.lbl.gov 

Peace Corps Information Night Learn about serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in one of 70+ countries at 6 p.m. at Berkeley Public Library, Community Meeting Room, 2090 Kittredge. 452-8442.  www.peacecorps.gov 

California’s 10th Congressional District Candidates Forum at 7 p.m. at Soda Activity Center, Saint Mary’s College of California, 1928 St. Mary’s Road, Moraga. This district includes El Cerrito and Kensington. 925-386-0067. 

“The Role of Victims in the Criminal Justice System: Death Penalty and Domestic Violence Cases” with Judy Kerr, murder victim family member, Prof. Nancy Lemon, Boalt School of Law and others at 12:45 p.m. at Berkeley Law School, Boalt Hall, Room 105, UC campus. www.californiacrimevictims.org 

“Chocolate for a Cause” fundraiser and community event benefiting the Lafayette School Mentoring Project, a West Oakland children’s non-profit, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. at Bittersweet Chocolate Cafe, 5427 College Ave., Rockridge. info@lsmptutor.org  

Kensington Book Club meets to discuss “The Enchantress of Florence” by Salman Rushdie at 7 p.m. at Kensington Library, 61 Arlington Ave. 524-3043. 

Berkeley School Volunteers New Volunteer Orientation from 3 to 4 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. 


Mario Savio Memorial Lecture with Naomi Klein on “Shock Doctrine California Style: How the Poor are Paying the Price for Wall Street’s Greed—and How to Fight Back!” at 8 p.m., free tickets available at 6:30 p.m. at the Pauley Ballroom, Martin Luther King Jr. Student Center, UC campus. 707-823-7293. 

Halloween/Day of the Dead Celebration with pumpkin carving contest, costume making, entertainment from 2 to 7 p.m. at Tuesday Berkeley Farmers’ Market, MLK, Jr. Way at Derby. 548-2220. 

“360 Degrees Longitude: One Family’s Journey Around the World” with the Higham family at 7 p.m. at REI, 1338 San Pablo Ave. 527-4140. 

Genealogy Workshop with Jane Knowles Lindsey, president of the California Genealogical Society who will instruct individuals on how to research and start a genealogical program at 3 p.m. at Salem Lutheran home, 2361 East 29th St., Oakland. Free. 534-3637. www.salemlutheranhome.org 

“As Seen on TV: Jewish Concepts and Popular Media” with Rabbi Judah Dardik at 7:15 p.m. at Beth Jacob, 3778 Park Blvd., Oakland. bethjacoboakland.org 

Richmond Emergency Food Pantry Volunteers needed to help organize cases of canned food, from 9 a.m. to noon at 2369 Barrett Ave. Richmond. Ability to lift 50 pounds helpful.  Help needed on Fridays also. 235-9732. 

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. 

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. 

Street Level Cycles Community Bike Program Come use our tools as well as receive help with performing repairs free of charge. Youth classes available. Tues., Thurs., Sat. and Sun. from 2 to 6 p.m. at at 84 Bolivar Dr., Aquatic Park. 644-2577. www.watersideworkshops.org 

Berkeley Camera Club meets at 7:30 p.m., at the Northbrae Community Church, 941 The Alameda. 548-3991. www.berkeleycameraclub.org 

St. John’s Prime Timers meets at 9:30 a.m. at St. John’s Presbyterian Church, 2727 College Ave. 845-6830. 


Walking Tour of Old Oakland around Preservation Park to see Victorian architecture. Meet at 10 a.m. in front of Preservation Park at 13th St. and MLK, Jr. Way. Tour lasts 90 minutes. Reservations can be made by calling 238-3234.  

Taking Back California in 2010 with Jodie Reid of California Alliance of Retired Americans. Hear about needed changes in the State Legislature and how to achieve them, at 1:30 p.m. at North Berkeley Senior Center, 1901 Hearst. 486-8010. 

Volunteer Weeding at the Edible Schoolyard from 2:30 to 4 p.m. at the Edible Schoolyard garden at Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School, 1781 Rose St. Gardening experience is helpful, but not necessary. Come prepared to do physical work and dress appropriately. Call or email for more information or to sign up. 558-1335. info@edibleschoolyard.org 

“Don’t Talk About the Weather” A documentary about the chemtrailing of our skies at 7:30 p.m. at Humanist Hall, 390 27th St., Oakland. Donation $5. www.Humanist Hall.org 

“Remembering the Departed with Love: Days of the Dead Altars” at 7 p.m. at Grace North Church, 2138 Cedar St. www.gracenorthchurch.org 

“Rain Man” film screening in conjunction with Albany Reads “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time” 6:30 p.m. in the Edith Stone Room of the Albany Library, 1247 Marin Ave., Albany. 526-3720 ext. 5.  

Family Sing-along for young children and their families at 5 p.m. at Albany Library, 1247 Marin Ave., Albany. 526-3720. 

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. 


Tilden Tots Join a nature adventure program for 3 and 4 year olds, each accompanied by an adult (grandparents welcome)! We will have a Pumpkin Scavenger Hunt from 10 to 11:30 a.m. at Tilden Nature Center, Tilden Park. Cost is $6-$8. Registration required. 1-888-327-2757. 

“Poverty and Human Rights” with Irene Khan at 7:30 p.m. at First Congregational Church of Berkeley, 2345 Channing Way. Cost is $10-$13. www.brownpapertickets.com 


Tilden Tots Join a nature adventure program for 3 and 4 year olds, each accompanied by an adult. We will have a Pumpkin Scavenger Hunt from 10 to 11:30 a.m. at Tilden Nature Center, Tilden Park. Cost is $6-$8. Registration required. 1-888-327-2757. 

“Identity Theft Prevention and Remedies” with Mark Jackson, Alameda County District Attorney at noon at Alameda County Law Library, 125 Twelfth St., Oakland. 272-6486. 

“Holy Land: Common Ground” Film and discussion at 7:30 p.m. at Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Unversalists, 1924 Cedar St. 841-4824.  

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 Historical Society Walk ”West Berkeley Works!” led by West Berkeley Artisans and Industrial Companies (WEBAIC) advocate Rick Auerbach. From 10 a.m. to noon. Cost is $8-$10. For reservations and starting point, call 848-0181.  

Halloween Pancake Breakfast Benefit from 8 to 11 a.m. at First United Methodist Church of Richmond, 201 Martina St., corner of W. Richmond Ave., Point Richmond. Suggested donation $6. 236-0527. 

Walking Tour of Oakland City Center Meet at 10 a.m. in front Oakland City Hall at Frank Ogawa Plaza. Tour lasts 90 minutes. Reservations can be made by calling 238-3234. 

Compost Give-Away from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Berkeley Farmers’ Market, Center St. at the Park. Please bring 2 buckets or 1 large bag to dig your compost into, and haul it to your backyard garden. Sponsored by the Berkeley Community Gardening Collaborative & City of Berkeley Recycling Division. 

Fall Storytime for preschool children and their families at 11 a.m. at the Albany Library, 1247 Marin Ave. 526-3720. 

Tracy the Animal Show Guy with animals for Halloween at 11 a.m. at Studio Grow, 1235 10th St. Cost is $9. 526-9888. 

Monster Bash Aboard the Aircraft Carrier USS Hornet, with haunted tours, costume contests, music, crafts and activities for children, from 7:30 p.m. to midnight at 707 W Hornet Ave., Pier 3, Alameda. Tickets are $10 for children, $20-$25 for adults. 521-8448, ext. 282. www.hornetevents.com 

Princesses, Pirates and Super Heroes Weekend at Playland-Not-At-The-Beach Sat. and Sun. from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 10979 San Pablo Ave., El Cerrito. Cost is $10-$15. 932-8966. www.playland-not-at-the-beach.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.  


Environment Restoration Program An action-oriented program for the whole family to learn about nature’s interrelationships at 10:30 a.m. at Tilden Nature Center, Tilden Park. 544-2233. 

Tilden Nature Theater games a movie, snacks and cider for the whole family at 2 p.m. at Tilden Nature Center, Tilden Park. 544-2233. 

Personal Theology Seminars with Bill Garrett on “The Social Matrix of Islamic Origins” at 10 a.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley, 1 Lawson Rd., Kensington. 525-0302, ext. 306.