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Day laborers wait for work at Hearst Avenue and Fifth Street Wednesday afternoon.
Michael Howerton
Day laborers wait for work at Hearst Avenue and Fifth Street Wednesday afternoon.


Walgreens Shooting Suspect Still At large

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Tuesday December 08, 2009 - 01:03:00 PM

Berkeley police are still looking for a suspect involved in a shooting Sunday night. 

Berkeley Police Department spokesperson Andrew Frankel said a Hispanic man shot a white man in the arm in the parking lot of the downtown Berkeley Walgreens at 2801 Adeline St. at 11:09 p.m. Dec. 6. Frankel said the man's injuries were not life-threatening. 

Frankel said the suspect is still at large and that the case is still under investigation. 

“That is all we are sharing about the case at this point in time,” Frankel said. 

UC Protesters Return to Wheeler Hall

By Raymond Barglow
Tuesday December 08, 2009 - 09:07:00 AM

Having barricaded themselves in Wheeler Hall on Nov. 20, on the last day of a three-day strike, UC Berkeley students who oppose cuts to public education in California returned to Wheeler Monday night, Dec. 7.  

As part of "Live Week" at UC Berkeley, students plan to transform the hall, the site of the Nov. 20 occupation on campus, into a 24-hour open university. According to organizers, the plan is to have a university not just for the public, but "by the public." They propose to "open the space for anyone in the community to come and go as they please, to organize study sessions, teach-ins, concerts, forums, club meetings, dance parties, and anything else our creative minds dream up." 

But this time they said that they were appropriating the space for educational purposes rather than “occupying” it. The avowed intention of the protesters this week is to show that the university should rightfully be governed and run by those whom it directly affects: the students who learn in it, the faculty who teach in it, and the staff who provide services and maintenance.  

This campus community has “shown the world that we can shut this university down,” the protest announcement says. “Now, we show that we can run our public university the way it should be—by the public.” The current aim is to transform Wheeler Hall into a “24-hour open university” during a week on campus that has traditionally been called “dead week”—a time at the end of the school term when students prepare to take their final examinations and hand in their term papers. 

This most recent action began on the steps of Wheeler at 2:30 p.m. That evening, Professor Meister from UC Santa Cruz addressed the students in Wheeler auditorium. He talked about the way that UC is representing its financial situation to the world, “The administration is telling us that the problem is so big, so determined by global factors, that nothing can be done.”  

Meister says, though, that research he and other faculty have done into university finances indicates that the crisis has been manufactured by the UC Regents themselves, and that there is no assurance that revenue from the hikes in student fees will be used to restore classes, jobs, or services that have recently been eliminated. On the contrary, says Meister, student fees may be used to securitize bonds that will pay for the future construction of new buildings.  

In his talk to the students in Wheeler, Meister said that UC is adopting the pricing model of private universities: education will be a commodity purchasable on the market like any other. But what this means, in Meister’s view, is that UC’s Master Plan will abandon its commitment to affordability. The university has never fully lived up to that commitment, he points out, but now it proposes to repudiate it entirely. Only students who are wealthy enough to pay for their own education will receive one, Meister says. As at Stanford, so at UC. 

Meister sees a possible solution in the raising of taxes on California’s highest income earners. The barrier to doing this, he says, is political: “Those 2 to 3 percent of the population run things in California. They are also the people who contribute disproportionally to political campaigns, and they are represented on the Board of Regents.  

Meister issued a challenge to advocates of public higher education, asking them to democratize the regents, to make the university’s finances transparent, and to restore public trust that the university will serve all Californians. “I do not think that there can be higher taxation without higher trust," Meister said. "One of the problems of UC is that is that it has lost public trust … . Unless UC is accountable for its own money, it cannot ask the public for more support.” 

Following Meister’s talk, those inside Wheeler auditorium were ordered by UC police to leave. The group discussed whether or not to comply with this demand, and voted to stay. A widely shared sentiment was that “This building is really our building—it should serve those of us being educated, not the police or the administration—so we should be able to remain here.” 

Near midnight on Monday, the police backed down on their threat to take action against the students, and so about 70 of them bedded down for the night in the space that they are calling an “open university.” They invite the entire university community to share this space with them, and they intend to hold it open 24 hours a day, Monday through Friday of this week.

DA Drops Criminal Charges Against Marine Recruitment Center Protester

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Monday December 07, 2009 - 03:57:00 PM

The Alameda County district attorney’s office Monday dropped charges against anti-war activist Stephanie Tang pertaining to her involvement in demonstrations two years ago outside downtown Berkeley's Marine Recruitment Center. 

The protests surrounding the Marine Recruitment Center took place in 2008, with anti-war activists vociferously often clashing with Berkeley police while urging military recruiters to leave Berkeley. 

Tang was scheduled to appear in court Monday at 9 a.m. for a hearing in a criminal misdemeanor case charging that she had obstructed a police officer. 

Tang was represented by attorney Walter Riley at the Wiley W. Manuel Courthouse in Oakland, where friends, supporters and even Berkeley Councilmember Max Anderson showed up to speak in her defense. 

Tang said Alameda County Superior Court Judge Carol Brosanahan called Riley into her private chambers and told him that the DA had reduced the charges to a non-criminal infraction and a $200 fine. 

“I accepted that infraction because it was for disturbing the peace,” Tang said. “There’s no criminality attached to it.” 

On Feb. 2, 2008, Tang led a group of protesters in a an anti-military recruitment march in Berkeley which soon escalated, leading to skirmishes with Berkeley police. 

According to a police report, Tang was trying to help World Cant Wait member Raphael Schiller, who had been detained by police for illegally using a loudspeaker, when she pulled an officer’s arm and wrapped her leg around him in order to “impede his movement.” 

The police report said Tang was deliberately trying to “incite a riot.” 

Tang, who has taken part in protests against the Marine Recruitment Center as well as against UC Berkeley law professor John Yoo, one of the authors of the Bush administration torture memos, said that she was clubbed by police officers during the protest, causing injuries which she said required treatment at a hospital.  

“They even came charging into the hospital room asking me for a statement,” she said. “The police claimed I was very physical, very violent and even asked the DA to issue a stay-away order to keep me away from downtown Berkeley, but that was not granted.” 

Although Tang was not arrested at the time of the protest, the Alameda County district attorney later charged her with one misdemeanor count of obstruction of a police officer. 

“I am happy we won,” Tang said. “It’s a genuine victory for everyone who understands that what’s truly criminal is not protest and resistance against the war, but the war itself.” 

Berkeley City College Hosts Another Meeting Against Cuts

By Raymond Barglow
Monday December 07, 2009 - 03:54:00 PM
BCC Global Studies Program Coordinator Joan Berezin, De Anza instructor and Peralta Community College Trustee Nicky Gonzalez Yuen, Galileo High School teacher Kristy Morrison and BCC Multimedia Arts Co-Chair Joe Doyle at Saturday's meeting at Berkeley City College.
Raymond Barglow
BCC Global Studies Program Coordinator Joan Berezin, De Anza instructor and Peralta Community College Trustee Nicky Gonzalez Yuen, Galileo High School teacher Kristy Morrison and BCC Multimedia Arts Co-Chair Joe Doyle at Saturday's meeting at Berkeley City College.

A meeting and lunch were held Saturday at Berkeley City College as a follow-up to an early November meeting at which several hundred representatives of California schools gathered to organize against cutbacks to public education.  

Participants agreed though the protest has the breadth of a social movement, drawing support from every sector of education, from pre-kindergarten through the university, and including adult education, it has not yet achieved the depth of a social movement in terms of numbers and unity.  

Participants reported that successful organizing has been going on at their local campuses. They reported as well, though, that energy for fighting the cuts has somewhat ebbed as the school term winds down and students concentrate on their studies. 

Organizer Joan Berezin, Global Studies Program coordinator at BCC, said she is hopeful that the movement will grow in the new year, and she sees unity as the key to success. 

“Each sector of public education is kept in its own little box," Berezin said, "and then often one sector is pitted against the other, scrambling for meager funds. If we want to fight the cuts in education we need to bridge the divide.” The current plan, she said, is to “organize an all-education march, from kindergarten through university, from 5-year-olds to grandmothers, on March 4, 2010, in Sacramento and Los Angeles.”  

“Most people have little idea of the way the cutbacks have affected students,” said Kristy Morrison, a participant at both BCC meetings and a teacher at San Francisco’s Galileo High School. She cited her own experience as an example: “I have 46 students in one class, 41 in another. Parents are losing their jobs, grades are going down—students don’t see that they are valued at all. I tell them ‘education is power,’ but I feel like I’m lying to them. Even if they work hard, they won’t be able to afford a four-year college. In the past, many students from low-income families could begin inexpensively at a community college and then transfer to a four-year college. But now even that pathway is blocked.” 

One of the issues debated by organizers was the appropriate target for protest actions. At the University of California, research into university finances by UC professors has shown that the administration has much better alternatives available than cutting classes and staff and raising fees. Hence the organizers argued that when UC President Mark Yudof counseled the protestors to take their complaints to Sacramento, he was deflecting attention from the poor quality of leadership that his own administration has provided. 

In California’s community college system, on the other hand, some of the protest organizers said there is not much administrative/bureaucratic “fat” that can be removed in order to restore funding for valid educational purposes. For example, no one in the community college system receives an income comparable to those of the high-paid administrators at UC. Nicky Gonzalez Yuen, a teacher at De Anza College and a Peralta Community College Trustee, who was present at the BCC lunch, said, “Nothing is going to really change until we change the state budgeting process and we do away with minority decision-making in the Legislature. Until that happens, we are screwed.” 

Berezin didn't disregard the need for major changes of this kind, but said current focus is on the statewide actions planned for March 4. 

“Local actions just don’t get the coverage, they don’t get the clout," she said. "We need a massive education demonstration.”  

“If we do not fight, you will not even recognize community colleges five years from now,” said BCC Multimedia Arts co-chair Joe Doyle. 


Court Orders South Berkeley Problem House Boarded Up

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Monday December 07, 2009 - 12:59:00 PM

Responding to a motion filed by City Attorney Zach Cowan, a judge last week ordered a longtime South Berkeley problem property boarded up. 

On Wednesday, Dec. 2, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Winifred Smith ruled that 1610 Oregon St., a house belonging to Lenora Moore, must be secured and must remain closed for one year, beginning 30 days from the date the notice of closure is posted on the property.   

The house has been the subject of numerous complaints and lawsuits by neighbors and the city, alleging that drug activity has taken place on its premises.    

Cowan, who represented the city in Judge Smith's courtroom, said the city made the motion after Berkeley police, looking for evidence in a burglary case, served a search warrant at the property on Oct. 2 and found drugs and drug paraphernalia at the site. He said the building was currently occupied by Moore and various family members.  

Cowan said the court order was not an eviction notice since Moore owned the property. 

“They will just have to pack up and go somewhere else,” he said. 

Moore and her granddaughter showed up at Wednesday’s hearing, according to Cowan, and proceedings were over within 15 minutes. 

“The Moores agreed to a court judgment in April 2009," Cowan said, "under which their house was adjucated to be a nuisance, and prohibited from carrying out any kind of drug activity.” 

But that decision was violated when police officers found syringes loaded with heroine and cocaine inside the house during the October search, Cowan said, following which the City of Berkeley filed a Nov. 16 motion requesting that the house be boarded up. 

“It wasn’t just rolled up cigarette paper,” Cowan said. “It was more than that.” 

The motion said Moore lives at the house with “numerous members of her family and their associates, most of whom are known drug users and dealers”and that the Berkeley Police Department “consistently receives calls regarding unlawful drug and criminal activity at, and around [the house].” 

In 1992, 31 of Moore's neighbors filed a small claims lawsuit against her alleging that she had allowed her home to become a “focal point for the sale and distribution of narcotics.” 

Although Moore appealed, she lost and was ordered to pay $155,000 to neighbors. She later filed for bankruptcy and never paid the settlement.  

Moore was sued once again in 2006 and the courts ordered her to pay $70,000 to neighbors. 

Although neighbors did not show up at the hearing because they feared retribution, most were relieved by the judge’s decision.  

Cowan said former Mayor Shirley Dean, who worked to resolve the problem as mayor, had shown up in court with her husband to speak on behalf of the neighbors. 

Dean could not be reached for comment immediately. 

In an April 2006 commentary in the Daily Planet, Dean said that in 2000, the City Council had asked city staff to help Moore and her husband by providing them with services. 

“We were able to get the property repaired and cleaned-up for a while, but it didn’t last,” she wrote. “The situation on Oregon Street represents the failure of our city to provide the protections that are rightfully and normally expected by residents any where and any place. When a city fails to provide those protections, it is undeniable that that neighborhood and its residents feel as if, and are in fact, being treated as if they were disposable. In this case, the record screams with accounts of murders, shootings, two small claims processes, two appeals of those small claims judgments which were upheld in favor of the neighbors by Superior Court judges, police actions, drug dealing and possession arrests. There is absolutely no doubt that 1610 is a problem. In the most recent court appeal, the owner of the property herself legally admitted that her property did indeed constitute a nuisance!”  

“I sure hope this means the city will take responsibility for public safety issues and public nuisance issues instead of placing the burden on neighbors,” said one neighbor, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “[The city] wouldn’t do anything for a long time. They asked us to deal with it.” 

Osha Neumann, a Berkeley attorney who provided assistance to Moore when her neighbors filed a small-claims action, called the whole thing a “sad, difficult situation.” 

“The allegation was that the house was the center of a lot of drug activity,” Neumann said. “It was extremely complicated to figure out how much was actually related to her. She had a large extended family. There were several people who were always in and out of that place.” 

Neumann said Moore came to him while she was serving as the chair of the Ashby Flea Market. He recalled that Moore’s husband was disabled. 

“She raised a lot of issues,” Neumann said. “She was a grandmother who tried to deal with a complicated situation. It was tragic all around. There was no social solution to the issue.”

Activist Involved in Berkeley Marine Recruitment Center Protest to Appear Before Court

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Monday December 07, 2009 - 12:58:00 PM

Stephanie Tang, an activist with the anti-war group World Can’t Wait, is scheduled to appear in court Monday for a hearing in a criminal case involving demonstrations outside the Marine Recruitment Center in downtown Berkeley. 

The protests surrounding the Marine Recruitment Center took place in 2008, with anti-war activists vociferously often clashing with Berkeley police while urging military recruiters to leave Berkeley. 

Tang is expected to be represented by attorney Walter Riley at the Wiley W. Manuel Courthouse in Oakland Monday.  

Although Tang was not arrested at the time of the protest, the Alameda County district attorney later charged her with one misdemeanor count of obstruction of a police officer. 

Tang also took part in protests against UC Berkeley law professor John Yoo, who helped to write the Bush torture memos. Her trial has been postponed several times.

AC Transit to Consider Revised Service Cuts at Dec. 16 Meeting

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Monday December 07, 2009 - 08:07:00 AM

AC Transit’s Board of Directors may vote on whether to reduce bus service by 8.4 percent at its Dec. 16 meeting in the light of a severe budget deficit expected to reach $57 million by June. 

According to a recent memo sent to the board by AC Transit’s General Manager Rick Fernandez, the board “may adopt, modify, reject, or defer any of the changes proposed” at that meeting. 

The memo said that service changes are likely to go into effect in March of 2010.  

On Nov. 18, a Revised Service Adjustments Plan was presented to the board, which restores nearly half of the service hours originally proposed to be slashed. 

Many of the restored hours are in the form of increased frequency and operating schedules. Significant routing revisions have also been proposed in some cases. 

Implementation of the revised plan depends on the allocation of $35 million of Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality program funds from the district’s Bus Rapid Transit project. 

AC transit is estimated to save $9.6 million annually by implementing the draft 2009 Revised Service Adjustments plan, as a result of anticipated fare revenues. 

The plan does not call for bus driver layoffs. However, 12 temporary service employees and three temporary janitors will be getting pink slips. 

Berkeley’s service cuts falls under the plans for Northern Alameda County, which includes Albany, Emeryville, Oakland, Alameda and Piedmont. 

The board meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, Dec. 16, 6 p.m.  at AC Transit headquarters, 1600 Franklin St., Oakland. 


Berkeley Police Still on Lookout for Elmwood Robbery, Shooting Suspects

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Monday December 07, 2009 - 08:07:00 AM

Berkeley police are still looking for two suspects involved in a robbery and shooting in the Elmwood district more than a week ago. 

According to Berkeley Police Department Lieutenant Andrew Greenwood, an unidentified suspect attempted to rob a 62-year-old male pedestrian in the 2700 block of Russell Street at 6:19 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 29. 

The suspect shot the victim once, striking him in the lower torso, Greenwood said. The suspect then fled from the scene, and was “possibly driven away from the area in a late model silver or light-colored 'crossover' utility vehicle," resembling a Mercedes Benz or BMW. 

Greenwood said a Berkeley patrol officer, who was within three blocks of the incident, heard the shot, and began to investigate. 

A witness then flagged down the officer and pointed out the victim, who was then treated by the Berkeley Fire Department and transported to a local hospital, where he was treated for non-life threatening gunshot wounds.  

The suspect’s vehicle was last seen turning west onto Ashby Avenue from Piedmont. 

According to Greenwood, the first suspect was described as an Asian male in his late teens to early 20s, between 5 feet 5 and 5 feet 10 inches in height, thin to medium build with a clean-shaven round face, short dark hair, a hooded jacket, baggy pants, and armed with a pistol. 

The second suspect was described as a female of “an unknown race,” with long dark hair, driving the getaway vehicle. 

The Berkeley Police Department are asking for the community’s help with this investigation. Anyone who may have any information regarding this crime is urged to call the BPD Homicide Detail at 981-5741 or the BPD non-emergency number at 981-5900. 

The Bay Area Crime Stoppers is offering a reward of up to $2,000 for information leading to the apprehension of the suspects in this case. The Bay Area Crime Stoppers tip line is 800-222-TIPS (8477). Callers can remain anonymous if they wish. 


Machines Approved for Instant Runoff Voting in Alameda County

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Friday December 04, 2009 - 07:36:00 PM

California Secretary of State Debra Bowen approved the use of instant runoff voting equipment in Alameda County Friday, Dec. 4, clearing the way for its use in Berkeley, Oakland and San Leandro for the November 2010 elections.  

IRV gives voters the option to rank their first, second, and third choice of candidates, eliminating the need for runoffs 

All three cities have approved IRV, or ranked-choice voting, for municipal elections, on the condition that the county comes up with an approved electronic counting system.  

Bowen’s approval was necessary before the end of the year in order for IRV to be used in next year’s election.  

Alameda County contracted with Colorado- and California-based Sequoia Voting Systems, which manufactured the nation's first lever-based mechanical voting equipment in the 1890s, for the IRV technology.  

Bowen hired Florida-based consulting firm Freeman, Craft, McGregor Group to test the IRV technology, including the system’s ability to accurately record, tabulate and report votes in ranked-choice voting elections, using the RCV rules which have been successfully used in San Francisco.  

The IRV machinery has received mixed reviews from East Bay politicians up for reelection next year, with some calling the system “unfriendly” to incumbents and others contending that it will be difficult for immigrants with limited knowledge of English to navigate the system.  

However, proponents of IRV have said that it will help new candidates and increase minority voter participation. 

Councilmember Kriss Worthington, who in 2004 sponsored a voter-approved initiative to make the city switch to IRV, said the new system would save tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars. 

The City of Berkeley has spent more than $1 million on runoff elections since 1986, money Worthington said could have instead been used for public safety, public works and youth. 

Worthington said the Berkeley City Council would soon vote on how much money the city would be spending toward educating citizens about IRV. 

“It depends on whether San Leandro and Oakland support it,” he said. “If all three cities are part of it, then it will be a lot easier.” 

Worthington added that city officials were still working on sorting out “red tape and strings of implementation.” 

He attempted to explain the IRV system in layman’s terms: 

“When you vote, you can say my first choice is candidate A, second choice is Yogi Berra and third choice is Minnie Mouse,” he said. “You only get to vote for three people. If the first choice gets dropped your vote will transfer to Yogi Berra. If the second choice gets dropped, your vote will transfer to the third person.” 

Under the current system, if no candidate gets 50 percent of the votes, a brand new election is held and there is a run-off between the top two vote-getters. 

District 4 Councilmember Jesse Arreguin, who is up for reelection next year, told the Planet that he supported IRV. 

Other councilmembers who are up for reelection next year are District 1 Councilmember Linda Maio, District 7 Councilmember Kriss Worthington, District 8 Councilmember Gordon Wozniak and Berkeley City Auditor Ann Marie Hogan. 

“It will save city a lot of money in the long run,” Arreguin said. “It’s been done throughout the world very successfully and people have got used to the process. Why spend thousands of dollars in doing a special election when you can resolve elections expeditiously? It’s good governance.” 

Arreguin said that IRV gave grassroots-level candidates a greater voice. “It’s a far more democratic process,” he said. “The voters asked for it. It’s taken us five years to get it, but it will be a big improvement.” 

Arreguin said that the city could save between $100,000 to $300,000 if IRV was implemented next year. 

Steven Hill, director of the Political Reform Program for New America Foundation, said voter education plans have already been drafted by the Alameda County registrar of voters, “who has said he is ready to run the election for Berkeley, Oakland and San Leandro.” 

“All logistical and legal hurdles have been overcome, and the voters of these three cities who voted overwhelmingly in favor of using IRV will have their mandate fulfilled,” Hill said. “Berkeley, Oakland and San Leandro voters will be able to rank their candidates and elect majority winners in a single November election when voter turnout is highest. At the same time, these cities will realize significant cost savings as they eliminate an unnecessary, expensive and low-turnout June election.” 

But Judy Belcher of the Oakland IRV Implementation Group, warned that there was mounting political pressure to prevent the Oakland City Council from approving money for the IRV educational campaign. 

Belcher said that that former state Sen. Don Perata, who is running for mayor of Oakland next year, is leading a campaign against IRV. 

“IRV means we won’t have a June election, we will have a November election,” Belcher said. “A shorter campaign benefits him (Perata).” 

Belcher said IRV would give Perata’s opponent in the 2010 mayoral elections, Oakland city Councilmember Jean Quan, more time to campaign, and therefore “more time to raise money.” 

Documents posted on the secretary of state's website detail the conditions the IRV system must meet in order to be approved for use.  

For more information on IRV see the secretary of state's website






BART to Hold Dec. 17 Hearing on Search for New Police Chief

Bay City News
Friday December 04, 2009 - 11:21:00 AM

BART Director Carol Ward Allen says the transit agency will hold a public hearing Dec. 17 to get input from the public on the criteria they think should be used in hiring a new police chief. 

Ward Allen, who chairs BART's Police Department Review Committee, said at Thursday's board meeting that Bob Murray and Associates of Roseville is helping BART search for a new chief. 

The consulting firm also helped in San Francisco's search for a new police chief, a process that resulted in the hiring of George Gascon. 

Current BART police Chief Gary Gee, who was criticized for his handling of the transit agency's Police Department in the wake of the fatal shooting of unarmed passenger Oscar Grant III at the hands of former Officer Johannes Mehserle on Jan. 1, announced in August that he would retire at the end of the year. 

Gee then immediately went on medical leave. 

BART's Police Department is currently headed by Commander Maria White, who is now acting chief. 

BART General Manager Dorothy Dugger said at the meeting that, "One question very much under discussion is strengthening the role of the board in the selection process." 

Current rules call for Dugger to hire the new chief, but several board members have said recently that they think the board should be more involved. 

The recruitment process for a new police chief is scheduled to end Feb. 1. 

Bob Murray and Associates is to submit its recommended finalists for the job the week of March 1 and BART will conduct interviews later that month. 

The selection is scheduled to be made the week of March 29 and the new chief is to start work April 26. 

The public hearing will be at the Joseph Bort MetroCenter at 101 Eighth St. in Oakland at 6 p.m. on Dec. 17. 

Ward Allen said the purpose of the hearing is to give the public a chance to discuss "the issues and challenges for the new chief." 

Day Laborers Struggle Amid Tough Economic Times

By Carl Nasman, Special to the Planet
Thursday December 03, 2009 - 08:38:00 AM
Day laborers wait for work at Hearst Avenue and Fifth Street Wednesday afternoon.
Michael Howerton
Day laborers wait for work at Hearst Avenue and Fifth Street Wednesday afternoon.

Smells of turkey drifted from the kitchen while shouts and laughter echoed from a soccer game in the gymnasium below. This was the scene on Thursday as many of Berkeley’s day laborers spent their Thanksgiving Day at the James Kenney Community Center in James Kenney Park at 1720 Eighth St. between Virgina and Delaware streets. Teeming with friends and food, the event, organized by the Multicultural Center in Berkeley, contrasted sharply with an increasingly difficult struggle on the streets. The recession has hit day laborers hard, and many are searching for ways to make ends meet. 

Each day as many as 100 day laborers, or “jornaleros,” line the sidewalks along Hearst Avenue from Second Street to Ninth Street in search of work. During the height of the construction and housing boom in 2005 and 2006, as many as 30 contractors per day came to the Hearst corridor offering jobs. Today, laborers say, the number of jobs has plummeted. 

“Before the recession there were many contractors. We didn’t even make it to the corner before they grabbed you to work,” said Romeo, a 23-year-old jornalero from Guatemala. “Now, we work maybe one day every two weeks, sometimes just two jobs per month.” 

“There is no work,” said Oscar Flores in a quiet voice while standing on the corner of Fourth and Hearst. “There are months that we don’t work. It’s not like before.” Flores estimates that in the past two to three years, his monthly income has been cut in half from around $600 per month to an average of $300. 

In the past, workers gathered near Truitt and White Lumber Company from early morning until midday. Now jornaleros wait longer, often with nothing in return. “Before, we were here from 6 to 8 in the morning, and the majority knew that they could work their eight hours,” said Flores, who has been in Berkeley for two years. “I don’t know what the hours are now—normally we are here almost the whole day.” 

A 2006 study led by the UCLA Center for the Study of Urban Poverty estimates that 117,600 day laborers per day look for work nationwide. Most are undocumented immigrants from Mexico and Central America. Many speak only Spanish and depend on jobs from construction contractors and homeowners to survive.  

While the situation on the street worsens, organizations like the Berkeley-based Multicultural Institute try to offer help. Founded in 1991, the institute supports Berkeley’s day laborers with programs such as a GED preparation class and a website that matches employers with day laborers. The Thanksgiving Day event began five years ago. Last Thursday, about 180 jornaleros were treated to a turkey lunch and a six-on-six indoor soccer match.  

“On Thanksgiving there is no chance of finding a job,” said Rudy Lara, Program Assistant for the Multicultural Institute. “Instead of sitting at home and thinking about their families, they can spend half a day playing and eating. At least they have something—they know somebody is caring about them.” 

“It’s a moment of happiness during this crisis,” said Cristian, 25, while dribbling a soccer ball and waiting for his turn in the game. “It helps you to forget what’s going on.” 

On a recent autumn morning, day laborers on the Hearst Avenue corridor far outnumbered holiday shoppers walking along the adjacent commercial area on Fourth Street. Small clusters of Latino men stood expectantly, waiting for a contractor’s pickup truck to pull over and offer a job. Many of the workers were dressed in paint-stained sweatshirts and jeans. All were willing to speak with a reporter in Spanish.  

Romeo, the 23-year-old Guatemalan, stood in front of a parking lot on Hearst with two friends, Aron, 24, and Saul, 25. They all came from the same town in Guatemala, and the trio was looking for jobs in construction, gardening, painting or “whatever comes our way.” Standing by the railroad crossing on Hearst, Johnny, from Mexico City, said he lost his permanent construction job three years ago and believes that, with more workers looking for jobs, contractors are paying day laborers less. 

According to the 2006 UCLA study, 92 percent of day laborers are hired by either homeowners or construction and landscaping contractors. This leaves day laborers particularly vulnerable to a dip in the construction market. The U.S. Department of Labor reports that 1.6 million construction jobs were lost nationwide since December 2007. In October alone, construction employment decreased by 62,000 jobs. Those numbers reflect the experiences of Bay Area construction contractors.  

“Difficult, difficult, difficult,” said Isidro Gonzales, owner of The Stone Man construction company in Berkeley, describing the local construction market. “Two years ago, I hired day laborers every two to three weeks. I haven’t gone down to Hearst yet in 2009.” 

Peter Bluhon of Bluhon Design & Environment, a landscape architecture company in Berkeley, describes pre-recession Berkeley as a hotbed for home renovation work. “For about five years in the Berkeley hills you would see trucks flying down to Truitt and White. There were contractor and architect signs in everyone’s yards. But by the fall of 2008 it was a ghost town up there. I’m driving around all the time and I’m not seeing any sizable projects.” 

Facing a dried-up labor market, there are few options for Berkeley’s jornaleros. To cut costs, many share apartments with friends and relatives. According to officials at the Multicultural Institute, if a jornalero has not found work for a few weeks, his friends often give him their job. At the institute’s weekly free lunch program, attendance has doubled in recent months.  

But many jornaleros, faced with a high cost of living and the pressure to send money home, are deciding to return home themselves. 

“Many [jornaleros] are saying that they’re going home,” said Fidel, a day laborer from Cosamaloapan, Mexico. “They can’t maintain themselves here.” According to Lara, who patrols the Hearst corridor every weekday, some 10 to 20 percent of the workers have returned to their home countries. Day laborers say that although the job markets in Mexico and Guatemala aren’t any better, living costs are lower, and they can rejoin their families.  

For those who choose to stay in Berkeley, the Thanksgiving Day meal brings some temporary hope in an otherwise bleak winter season. With the summer gone, the jornaleros are not likely to see improvement in the Bay Area construction market until after the winter rainy season.  

“We hope it gets better a few months into next year,” said a group gathered at the corner of Sixth and Hearst streets. “We’re used to not having work, but it’s worse than before. There could come a day when there is no one on the street. If there are no jobs, it could happen.” 


For more information about the Multicultural institute, see mionline.org.

School Board Approves District Zoning Changes

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday December 03, 2009 - 08:45:00 AM

Parents looking to enroll their kids at Berkeley public elementary schools next year will have a few more choices at Saturday’s annual kindergarten fair.  

Faced with cramped classrooms and a rapidly increasing kindergarten enrollment, the 9,000-student Berkeley Unified School District drew up a plan in October to address space problems in its central and north zones, which are projected to exceed their present capacities in the next decade.  

The north zone in particular is the worst affected, according to district officials.  

The district hired Davis Demographics and Planning, Inc., earlier this year to project future enrollment figures for the Berkeley public schools.  

Data reported to the state by Berkeley Unified shows the district had 9,370 students in 2000-2001, which declined to 8,843 students by the 2003-04 school year. The DDP study shows that over the next five years BUSD’s enrollment stabilized at around the 9,000-student mark with a low of 8,904 in 2004-05 and a high of 9,088 in 2006-07. In 2008-09—the last year the DDP study took into account—it was 8,988.   

The DDP report predicts that most of the growth projected to take place over the next decade will be in the elementary grades, growing from 3,686 to 4,033 students—an increase of 347.   

In the middle schools, the numbers will rise from 1,799 to 1,894, an increase of 95.   

At the high schools, student population is expected to fluctuate over the same period, at first declining and then rebounding to current levels, as larger classes in the lower grades graduate over the years.   

After listening to concerns from Berkeley Arts Magnet and Malcolm X Elementary School PTAs, the two institutions most affected by the proposed zone realignment, the Berkeley Board of Education voted Nov. 18 to approve the district’s preferred model, which will keep the current zone lines intact; Berkeley Arts Magnet will straddle both the northwest and central zones.  

The new model will also see the central and southeast zones sharing Malcolm X.  

Berkeley Unified School District Facilities Director Lew Jones, who worked on the new model, told the Planet that the changes would leave parents with more options for their children.  

Until now, the north zone only included Rosa Parks, Thousand Oaks and Jefferson elementary schools, with Jefferson being the smallest.  

Next year Berkeley Arts Magnet will be added to the list.   

Parents will also have the option to choose Malcolm X in the central zone.  

“It’s nice for the parents to have some notice,” said Jones. “That way we won’t have to spring the choices on them at the last minute. Now they have the option of visiting Malcolm X or Berkeley Arts Magnet if they want to.”  

District Superintendent Bill Huyett said the district hoped the zone changes would address the population increase for the next two or three years, after which it would start looking at constructing classrooms.  

“In the long run we might add space to the schools themselves,” said Jones. “But we don’t know how many kids we will be serving in five to six years. Everything is an estimate. Some of the kids haven’t even been born yet.”  

Jones said that the district had listened to parents’ concerns and made amendments to the original plan before seeking the board’s approval.  

“We made some adjustments—there were some misunderstandings that by adopting the zone changes we would be putting portables in one place or the other,” Jones said. “Parents at Jefferson wanted us to add classrooms to the old cafeteria there rather than cutting down on playground space. We don’t have a lot of open playground space in our schools so it’s understandable that parents don’t want to lose whatever is there.”  

Jones said that the district would also consider using the annex at Washington Elementary School—currently occupied by Berkeley High School, which has severe space crunches of its own—for elementary classrooms, but that the plan would require “additional analysis and research.”  

Huyett said that parents at Malcolm X wanted the district to look at staffing patterns, clerical support and campus supervision for bigger schools as well as the hiring and retention of intervention teachers.  

“Some parents were concerned that Malcolm X would go over 500 students, but we are hoping that will not happen,” Huyett said.  

The annual Kindergarten Fair will be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 5, at LeConte Elementary School, 2241 Russell St.

Post Office Patrons Protest Closures

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday December 03, 2009 - 08:45:00 AM

A small but spirited crowd turned up at a town hall meeting at Longfellow Middle School Tuesday, Nov. 24, to protest the proposed closure of Berkeley’s Park Station post office on Sacramento Street.  

Officials from the United States Postal Service announced at the meeting that although the South Berkeley branch on Adeline Street had been taken off the list of stations being considered for the chopping block, Park Station was not so fortunate.  

South Berkeley station has not been immune, however; the number of sales associates at the office was recently reduced from two to one, often resulting in longer wait times and no service during lunch break. 

Berkeley Postmaster Ray Davis an-nounced toward the end of the meeting that Landscape Station on Solano Avenue might still be on the list of closures.  

Faced with billions of dollars in deficit—exacerbated by historic declines in mail volume—the USPS is scrambling to find ways to stay afloat, slashing costs, downsizing operations, reducing customer service, and reducing mail service to five days a week. Consolidating stations, it says, is one method of addressing a rapidly changing communication system, in which more and more people prefer e-mail or text messaging to posting letters.  

However, a certain section of the population—mostly senior citizens who often don’t have access to computers, cell phones or e-mail—feel that closing down the post office is akin to taking away one of their most important forms of communication.  

The 30 or so senior South Berkeley residents in the audience reiterated this point at Tuesday’s meeting, defending the need for a “community post office” in their neighborhood.  

Another complaint was that the U.S.P.S. had called the town hall meeting right before Thanksgiving, when most people were either busy or away on vacation.  

“We appreciate the fact that you want to hold a meeting, but this is the worst time to hold a meeting,” said City Councilmember Darryl Moore, who represents District 2, where the Park Station post office is located. “I wasn’t even informed about this meeting. I learned about it from one of the postal union workers.”  

The Berkeley City Council passed a resolution in September opposing the U.S.P.S.’s plans to consolidate the three Berkeley post offices.  

Other South Berkeley residents said they were unhappy about the lack of proper notification about the meeting.  

“Only residents in the 94702 zone were mailed letters,” said Susan Hammer, a retired Berkeley postal worker who is with the local postal workers union. “What about those in the 94703 zone, who are right across the street? The community that Park Station serves is not limited to 94702.”  

Hammer, who submitted more than 800 signatures in support of saving the South Berkeley Post Office, added that station expenses represented only 2 percent of the total operating costs of the U.S.P.S.  

“There are ways to save money,” she said. “Why don’t they turn the main post office in Berkeley solar like they did in Oakland? It even has a flat roof for the solar panels.”  

Moore said that closing Park Station would negatively impact residents of at least three senior centers in the neighborhood.  

“The postal service is in the business to serve, but we have to balance our service with our assets,” said Lowana Gooch, the post master for Oakland, where community members recently fought to save the Diamond station post office.  

“How many of you use e-mail?” Gooch asked the audience. No one raised a hand.  

“Well, the thing is, more and more people are now doing things online,” Gooch explained. “We have lost a lot of first-class mail because of that. We don’t get catalogues anymore—remember when JC Penny’s used to be like this?”  

“But we get a lot of junk mail,” said Berkeley resident Carol Hochberg. “The post office is subsidizing all the heavy junk mail.”  

Davis explained that the U.S.P.S. was “trying to automate a lot of things” to save money.  

“You can now buy your stamps online,” he said. “You don’t have to wait in line anymore.”  

Eleanor Neal, Park Station’s only sales associate, was greeted with applause when she joined the meeting. Neal, who has been at the branch for eight years, knows her customers by name and often skips lunch to help them out.  

“The city of Berkeley has a climate action plan to reduce greenhouse gases—closing down neighborhood post offices will force people to take transportation; that undercuts the city of Berkeley’s climate action plan,” said another Berkeley resident.  

Damon Moore, a grassroots legislative coordinator with the American Postal Workers Union, said a lot of low-income residents in Berkeley used the Park Street station like a bank.  

“They don’t have credit cards or ATM, that’s all they have,” he said. “Twenty-one percent of residents around half a mile of Park Station don’t have vehicles. If you want to save the station, the numbers are there for you to save it. There is a lack of transparency in the process.”  

Moore pointed to a rebuttal by Anita Morrison before the Postal Regulatory Commission on behalf of the APWU which cited statistics showing that studies carried out by the U.S.P.S. before consolidating stations discriminated against communities with high percentages of low-income, minority and transit-dependent residents.  

Morrison is the founding principal of Partners for Economics Solutions, an urban economics consulting firm.  

According to her report, the Park Station post office serves 1,151 senior citizens. The unemployment rate in the area is almost 20 percent.  

“The postal service is in dire straits right now,” Gooch said. “The economy is hurting. Everyone here knows someone who has been laid off. We don’t want to inconvenience our customers, but we have to consolidate our services.”   

Some community members said that they would like the U.S.P.S. to hold another meeting, this time with ample notification to the concerned parties.  

Oscar Munoz, a U.S.P.S. post office operations manager for the Bay Valley district, which includes Berkeley, reminded everyone that the proposal to close Park Station was “still pretty much just a proposal.”  

He said that U.S.P.S. would try to organize another meeting in the near future.  

“The revenue in Park Station fell by 17 percent last year. Why? The economy,” he said. “You can help raise the revenue by going to Park Station more.”  

“Why doesn’t the government bail out the U.S.P.S. like it’s bailing out all the other corporations?” asked Hochberg.  

“That’s between our CEO and the president of the United States,” answered Gooch.  

Gooch said that although there had been 3,700 post offices originally slated for consolidation or closure, the list had been reduced by 75 percent.  

“The Postal Regulatory Commission takes into account demographics, culture and senior citizens,” she said explaining that notes from the meeting would be sent to the U.S.P.S. headquarters in Washington, D.C.  

Munoz said that the U.S.P.S. would notify the Park Station community about its next steps—whether it’s a final decision or another meeting.  

“It seems to me that this is going to be it,” said Moore. “Diamond had an opportunity to organize, we’ve not had an opportunity to organize. We have only 30 people here tonight—it will look like a set-up for failure. I don’t want your report to reflect that we don’t care about Park Station. We can easily fill this room.”  

To find out more about the post office closures, go to http://www.prc.gov/prc-pages/default.aspx?AspxAutoDetectCookieSupport=1 


BUSD Trails State Averages in Fitness

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday December 03, 2009 - 08:47:00 AM

Results of the 2009 Physical Fitness Test released Monday by the state Department of Public Education show Berkeley public schools trailing their peers in six fitness categories.  

Thirty-four percent of Berkeley Unified School District (BUSD) fifth-graders met the criteria for all six areas of the test compared with 29 percent statewide. However, only 31 percent of seventh-graders met the same criteria compared with 34 percent throughout California.   

Just 13.8 percent of ninth-graders met the criteria compared with 37.9 percent statewide.  

District Superintendent Bill Huyett said he was surprised to see low participation rates for ninth-graders in the BUSD. Just 305 students had taken the test in ninth grade although there are approximately 800 ninth-graders in the district.  

“An awful lot of students don’t take the test,” Huyett said. “They might go for other physical activities such as dance or theater.”  

Statewide, more than 1.38 million students in the fifth, seventh, and ninth grades took the test during the 2008-09 school year.  

“The test is an important indicator for students’ readiness,” Huyett said. According to a statement from the state education department, the goal of the test “is to facilitate learning about physical activity and physical fitness concepts in order to increase the likelihood students will adopt lifetime patterns of physical activity.”  

Carrie Strong-Thompson of the state Department of Public Education told the Planet that fifth-, seventh- and ninth-graders were required by law to take the test. The window for the test is between Feb. 1 and May 31, although districts may decide when to administer it.  

“Our goal would be that 100 percent of the students meet the fitness criteria,” she said. “We would like all schools to take the test seriously.”  

Strong-Thompson said the numbers for students meeting all six physical fitness criteria were gradually improving. She added that the test does not provide a pass-or-fail grade to students; instead each student has to meet minimum criteria that take into account age, gender and other factors.  

The latest test results represent a 0.6 percentage point increase in fifth-grade students’ scores, a 1.2 percentage point increase in seventh-grade students’ scores, and a 2.3 percentage point gain in ninth-grade students’ scores compared with last year’s results  

“I am pleased that our students continue to make strides toward becoming physically fit,” state Superintendent of Education Jack O’Connell said. “The percentage of students who are in the healthy fitness zone is increasing. However, as a state we must continue to improve. National statistics show that today’s children are twice as likely to be overweight as their counterparts of the 1980s. Teenagers today are three times as likely to be overweight as those in the 1980s. Our students must take responsibility for their fitness, health and overall well-being so they can compete on the playing field, in the classroom and on the global stage.”  

Strong-Thompson said that each grade is required to take P.E. for a certain amount of time every day.  

California public schools are required to report results of physical fitness testing annually in their school accountability report cards.  

“We take P.E. very seriously,” said BUSD spokesperson Mark Coplan. “The issue is that the amount of instructional minutes we get every day is very limited. Another big issue is space. We have very limited open space for P.E. in our schools. We don’t have adequate square footage.”  

The 2009 physical fitness results for schools, school districts, counties, and the state are available on the California Department of Education website: www.cde.ca.gov/ta/tg/pf/pftresults.asp.  

Free Speech Movement Commemoration Held at UC

By Raymond Barglow, Special to the Planet
Thursday December 03, 2009 - 08:48:00 AM

A commemoration of the 45th anniversary of the Free Speech Movement took place at noon Wednesday at Sproul Plaza on the UC campus.  

The meeting was originally planned by the Associated Students (ASUC) and other campus organizations. They sent an e-mail message to FSM arrestees, said Susan Druding, “inviting us to speak at the event, [but] we were asked not to say anything about the budget crisis or current events, only to speak about what happened 45 years ago.” 

Students who are protesting the budget cuts and fee increases met with some of the FSM veterans and agreed that the current protests deserved a hearing at the commemoration. Hasty negotiations just before the event resulted in a compromise: the protestors would be heard, followed by the scheduled speakers. 

All of the speakers from the FSM days drew comparisons between the FSM and the current predicament at UC. “We ground out thousands of newsletters and flyers using mimeograph machines,” said Gar Smith. “If we had had Twitter, we would have won our fight in a week!”  

UC Berkeley Physics Professor Richard Muller, who was arrested in the FSM, spoke to the crowd about his experiences with the police. He concluded by pointing out that the protest movement itself is sometimes intolerant and that even someone as conservative as Condoleezza Rice should be able to speak freely on the Berkeley campus. 

Following the noon meeting, protestors marched through the campus, ending up at the Bear’s Lair, where they voiced support for the food vendors who have been negotiating lease terms with the ASUC.

Amended Berkeley Noise Ordinance Doesn’t Please Everyone

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday December 03, 2009 - 08:51:00 AM

Although the Berkeley City Council unanimously approved an amendment to the city’s existing noise ordinance more than two weeks ago, a small group of people is getting ready to oppose some of the changes at the Dec. 8 meeting where councilmembers are scheduled to confirm their decision.  

While the amendment will allow nightclubs, open-air festivals and other venues to exceed sound limits if they obtain the proper permits from the city’s zoning board, it will also make it easier for city staff to impose restrictions, giving more leeway to Health and Human Services to measure sound decibels and respond to complaints.  

The amendment’s most recent opponent includes one councilmember who originally voted for it. 

District 4 Councilmember Jesse Arreguin, who represents the downtown area, said that he was planning to vote against the changes Tuesday. 

The reasons, he said, were plenty. 

“I first voted for the ordinance because I thought it was an improvement over our existing noise ordinance, because it would be easier for the ordinance to be enforced,” Arreguín said Wednesday. “I am concerned that some of the changes give city staff the discretion to determine that it’s economically or technically infeasible for the person violating the ordinance—whether it be the property owner or the tenant—to mitigate the problem, and then they don’t have to do anything about it.” 

Moreover, Arreguin argued, the staff decision cannot be appealed. 

“It’s a big loophole,” he said. “That could really enable businesses in Berkeley to violate the ordinance. We need to balance our night life with our quality of life. This ordinance is tipped in the direction of favoring businesses instead of residents.” 

City Noise Control Officer Manuel Ramirez said music venue operators and nightclub operators in downtown Berkeley had requested that city officials loosen the decibel limits on the outdated noise ordinance to help with business, following which the City Council asked the city manager to recommend how the noise ordinance could be modified to improve development. 

“It’s going to give commercial businesses the flexibility to raise the ambient or standard noise levels by five decibels with the proper permit,” Ramirez said. “The ordinance hasn’t been amended since 1982. That’s quite a long time. We have had some challenges in administering some of these laws and processes that are not used anymore. The current ordinance could essentially prevent establishments from coming in or shut them down.” 

In response to Arreguin’s concern about mitigation, Ramirez said the city was working on implementing some standards. 

“There are instances when we need to have some discretion,” he said. “These are extremely rare and won’t be used frequently.” 

Arreguin contended that five decibels was “still pretty loud.” 

“What about the people living next door?” he asked. 

Lawrence Rosenbaum, a member of the Bay Area Ministries, an Oakland-based Evangelical Christian ministry that periodically sermonizes at Telegraph Avenue and Haste Street, said that he worried that the changes might affect First Amendment activities. 

“For the first time, amplified sound permits will be required for all amplification, including bullhorn use by labor unions and protest groups,” he said. “They snuck these things upon us. They have given Environmental Health a lot of freedom but it’s hard to know what it’s going to do to us.” 

Rosenbaum said he was concerned that while the current ordinance required a written warning of a noise violation and allowed 15 minutes to correct it before getting arrested, the new ordinance would only give a verbal warning. 

“They still do get a warning before being cited,” said Ramirez. “As long as they follow the law it shouldn’t be a problem.” 

Councilmember Kriss Worthington, who represents the Telegraph Avenue area, called the 15-minute window a waste of time. 

“That means if somebody is getting away with breaking the law, then staff has to wait there watching them break the law,” he said. “It’s a cumbersome procedure. What are you going to do with all the time standing there?” 

Worthington added that, while the updated ordinance wasn’t perfect, it would clear away bureaucratic obstacles.  

“Right now, even if you get someone’s attention, you don’t get enforcement,” he said. “I am more concerned about getting enforcement than the exact details.” 

Michael Kelly, chair of the Panoramic Hill Association, who showed up at the last council meeting with his neighbors and expressed concern about an increase in amplified sound limits, said Wednesday that he still had lingering doubts about parts of the ordinance. 

“We understand after talking to city staff that this increase of 15 decibels from 10 decibels above the ambient noise level will be for events on public property only, but in the big picture, we are always concerned about noise,” he said. “For those of us who live in the East Bay hills, if you can see something making noise, you can hear it. We are not happy with the amendment.” 

Kelly said he would either write a letter or show up at the council meeting to discuss the issue. 

The City Council will meet at 7 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 8, at the Old City Hall Chambers, 2134 Martin Luther King Jr. Way. 


Council Debates Sending Coat Hanger to Congressmen

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday December 03, 2009 - 09:13:00 AM

The Berkeley City Council will decide at its Dec. 8 council meeting whether to send a coat hanger along with a letter opposing the Stupak-Pitts Amendment to the health reform bill to 20 congressional representatives who voted to approve the amendment. 

The amendment, which imposes tight restrictions on abortions offered through the public option and forbids anyone receiving a federal subsidy from purchasing a health insurance plan that covers abortion, was necessary to win support for the overall health bill from opponents of abortion, but it has since been the subject of a raging controversy nationwide. 

However, some councilmembers worry that sending a coat hanger itself might stir up controversy for Berkeley, and they are already recommending against it. 

“I opposed the Stupak-Pitts amendment, but I think the idea of sending a coat hanger to pro-choice members of the Congress is inappropriate,” said Councilmember Gordon Wozniak. “It may backfire. It may not help.” 

Wozniak said he had pulled the item from the consent calendar to action so that councilmembers could discuss the issue before acting on it.  

“This is a complicated problem,” he said. “They (lawmakers) are trying to work with opponents of abortion to get enough votes to move forward with the health reform bill. Sending a coat hanger will not change their mind. It’s a harsh symbol.” 

But to Councilmember Kriss Worthington, who introduced the agenda item, the coat hanger sends a pointed, specific message to the 20 congressional representatives who usually vote “pro-choice” but supported Stupak-Pitts.  

“It’s the most extreme attack on a woman’s right to choose the entire time I have been in office,” Worthington said Wednesday. “We are not sending it to everyone. The 20 congressional representatives who voted for it have a history for voting for a woman’s right to choose, so we are sending it to them only. It’s great to send a letter, but I think it’s more effective to send a coat hanger.” 

Organizations ranging from the American Civil Liberties Union to Planned Parenthood to the National Organization for Women have come out in opposition to Stupak-Pitts, with NOW calling it “the greatest threat to women’s fundamental right to choice since it was recognized under the Constitution in Roe v. Wade.”   

 “A coat hanger was historically used in back-alley abortions when women were not able to choose,” Worthington said. “A coat hanger is a very powerful symbol. The extraordinary nature of this threat calls for an extraordinary response.”  

Judge Rules Long Haul Activists Can Sue Over Raid

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday December 03, 2009 - 08:52:00 AM
The Long Haul Info Shop on Shattuck Avenue in South Berkeley.
Riya Bhattacharjee
The Long Haul Info Shop on Shattuck Avenue in South Berkeley.

A federal judge ruled Monday that Berkeley’s Long Haul Infoshop can sue federal agents for an Aug. 27, 2008, raid by University of California police.  

The raid, during which UC police seized computers and other records, was part of an investigation of alleged e-mail threats sent to UC Berkeley animal researchers by animal rights advocates. 

U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White said that Long Haul can attempt to prove that the search was illegal and that the officers involved had misled the judge who issued the warrant. 

Long Haul can also try to prove that it was targeted because of its radical views, White said. 

The ruling came amid the federal government’s attempts to dismiss a lawsuit filed against it by civil rights attorneys representing Long Haul activists. The suit called the raid a violation of privacy and free speech. 

University of California Police Department Detective Bill Kasiske used a search warrant to obtain CDs, computers, hard drives, flash drives and other property from the Long Haul Infoshop at 3124 Shattuck Ave. and the adjoining East Bay Prisoner Support office on the grounds that the equipment was used to commit a felony or could serve as evidence that a felony was committed. 

FBI agents and the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department also assisted in the roughly two-hour search, which included private offices. 

In January 2009, attorneys for the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the American Civil Liberties Union sued the UC Regents, then–UC Police Chief Victoria Harrison, Kasiske, the FBI and the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department in federal court for what it claimed was an illegal raid. 

The lawsuit charged that the search was not based on any allegations of wrongdoing by Long Haul, EBPS or their members, and that there had been no arrests.  

It said that although the seized computers were eventually returned, it was likely that “investigators copied the data and continued their illegal search of the information.” 

Both community organizations publish information for social and political activists. 

An all-volunteer collective, Long Haul publishes a newspaper called Slingshot and provides public computer access, community space and a library that lends radical and anarchist books. EBPS publishes a newsletter showcasing prisoners’ writings and distributes literature to prisoners. 

The lawsuit said that the officers removed every computer in the building—including those behind the locked doors of the Slingshot and EBPS offices—even though the federal Privacy Protection Act specifically protects publishers from search and seizure except in the narrowest of circumstances. 

The warrant, issued by Judge Judith Ford of the Alameda County Superior Court on Aug. 26, 2008, allowed police to search the “premises, structures, rooms, receptacles, outbuildings, associated storage areas and safes at Long Haul” and “seize any written, typed or electrically stored documents, papers, notebooks or logs containing names or other identifying information of patrons who used” its computers, as well as “all electronic data-processing and storage devices, computers and computer systems including, but not limited to, central processing units, external hard drives, CDs, DVDs, diskettes, memory cards, PDAs and USB flash drives.” 

The University of California did not take part in the federal government’s effort to dismiss the lawsuit. 

In asking for the case to be dismissed, the federal government said that its officers had found it imperative to track down the threats and seize the records to avert serious harm. 

But White ruled that their contention was diluted by the two-month gap between the time the e-mail messages were sent and the date of the raid.

More Than 100 UC Faculty Condemn Police Actions During Strike

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday December 03, 2009 - 08:52:00 AM

Calling for a prompt, “impartial and comprehensive” investigation into police brutality that allegedly took place on the UC Berkeley campus during the recent Wheeler Hall occupation, more than 100 faculty members signed an open letter to Chancellor Robert Birgeneau Nov. 25 condemning the violence.  

The letter came a day after Birgeneau issued a statement promising that a review panel consisting of faculty members and students would conduct an independent probe into Friday’s police actions.  

“We, the undersigned faculty, are writing to voice our strenuous objection to the use of unwarranted violence by the police forces enlisted by the University of California (UC) at Berkeley to patrol the student demonstration outside of Wheeler Hall on Friday, November 20th,” the letter begins. “It is now abundantly clear that in addition to UC Police, there were squads from the City of Berkeley and Alameda County, and that some of these police forces acted with undue violence at various points during the day, most conspicuously at mid-day and then again in late afternoon when they used batons against students and a faculty member. In some cases this occurred to defenseless people who had already been pushed to the ground, among them several who sustained injuries to hands, heads, and stomachs, and were forced to seek urgent medical care. These abuses of police power were captured on video recordings and in photographs, corroborated by numerous witnesses. They have now been widely circulated on the web and throughout the national and international media. We will send you a composite of those websites and testimonies under separate cover.”  

The letter, signed by many professors who found themselves in the middle of the protest, either negotiating the occupiers’ release with the university administration or trying to protect their students from police action, goes on to say that there is ample proof that the students were “acting in a nonviolent manner when their civil rights were abrogated by police harassment and assault.”  

“Such instances of unprovoked police brutality would be appalling and objectionable anywhere, but we find it most painful for these events to have taken place on the UC Berkeley campus, given the important tradition of protecting free speech that you, Chancellor Birgeneau, have only very recently defended,” the letter said. “Hence we regard with dismay and astonishment your euphemistic reference to this Friday’s violence: ‘a few members of our campus community may have found themselves in conflict with law enforcement officers.’ There is no doubt that our students and colleagues did find themselves subject to unwarranted and illegal police brutality. It is therefore incumbent on the Chancellor of UC Berkeley to condemn such actions unequivocally and to make sure that such actions are subject to comprehensive review and disciplinary action.”  

Although protesters repeatedly asked for Birgeneau to be present at the scene to witness police behavior last Friday, Birgeneau did not appear.  

Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Jonathan Poullard was outside Wheeler Hall talking to students and police.  

Faculty members demanded that the university assume “full accountability for the actions of the police forces” who were present on campus last Friday, “making broad use of available testimony on the part of victims and observers, including photographic images, video and personal narration of those at the scene in order to establish a clear record of the facts.”  

“We ask as well that you speak directly and honestly to the students about what has happened,” the letter said. “They are entitled to know that the university does not condone acts of police violence such as these; as of this writing, they have received no word from the administration acknowledging accountability for such appalling actions. Indeed, the administration was markedly unreachable on Friday, when faculty were most pressed to take on a mediating role.”  

Faculty members also asked Birgeneau to widely publicize current university protocol governing police misconduct at demonstrations and find out whether “protocol was followed or abrogated on Friday.”   

They said the administration should also clearly outline what kind of disciplinary action would be taken against police officers who were found guilty of assault.  

Finally, faculty members asked the administration to issue a public statement reconfirming the university’s commitment to protect free expression and assembly for students on the Berkeley campus.  

“Friday’s failure to do so is a most painful public display of how far UC Berkeley has strayed from its historical responsibility as a national and international institution pledged to rights of free speech and assembly and to the ideals of social justice,” the letter concluded. “It is surely difficult enough to see our reputation as an excellent and affordable university jeopardized through budget cuts and fee hikes. Must we see as well the dissolution of the ideal of protecting free speech for students for whom the very future of their education is at stake?” 

Claremont Hotel, Labor Union Fail to Achieve Contract

By Raymond Barglow, Special to the Planet
Thursday December 03, 2009 - 08:53:00 AM
Union members demonstrate outside the Claremont Hotel Monday.
Raymond Barglow
Union members demonstrate outside the Claremont Hotel Monday.

On Monday, Nov. 30, afternoon the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Workers Union (HERE) Local 2850, picketed at the entrance to the Claremont Resort on Ashby Avenue.  

The occasion was the Claremont’s annual-tree lighting ceremony, but workers at the hotel say that hotel management is threatening to make their holiday an unhappy one. Management, they say, is taking an uncompromising stance in current contract negotiations.  

This impasse is the latest episode in a long history of labor conflict at the Claremont. In 2006, a strike and boycott of the resort that had been going on for four years came to an end when the owners signed a contract with the union. But now, says Fidel Arroyo, who has been a cook at the hotel for 16 years, the employer is threatening to cut back the workers’ health benefits as well as their wages. “We are paying $30 a month for our health plan. They want to raise that to over $300. For me that would mean a 10 percent wage cut. I would have to choose between paying for health care and putting food on my family’s table.” 

The hotel management claims that the hotel is being forced to economize, given the current financial crisis: Revenues are down, health care costs are up, and management cannot afford to provide the salaries and benefits that have been possible in the past. 

Harry Brill, who was walking the picket line Monday along with other union supporters in the community, finds this argument unpersuasive. “Morgan Stanley, a major owner of the hotel, is receiving $10 billion in bailout money from the feds,” says Brill. But its anti-worker policy, he believes, defeats the aim of the stimulus program: “Cuts around the country in wages and health benefits only reduce the spending power of the public and deepen the recession-depression.” 

As evening approached, a dozen of the picketers went to the entrance of the hotel and began singing Christmas carols, with words changed to convey a pro-union message. Hotel security guards ordered them to leave, but the workers refused, citing a National Labor Relations Board ruling that they say protects their right to assemble at the door. The Berkeley police were called but arrived only after the caroling was over. No charges were filed. 


Former Cal Performances Chief Named New City Arts Commissioner

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday December 03, 2009 - 08:49:00 AM

Former Cal Performances head Robert W. Cole joined the Berkeley Civic Arts Commission Tuesday. 

Cole, who recently retired after 23 years as director of Cal Performances, previously served as the executive director of the Brooklyn Center for Performing Arts at Brooklyn College and as executive director of the Bardavon 1869 Opera House in Poughkeepsie, New York.  

Cole’s appointer, Berkeley Councilmember Kriss Worthington, called his nomination the “most exciting news for the Berkeley Arts Commission in a decade.”  

“Under Robert’s leadership Cal Performances became a phenomenon,” Worthington said. “He is very talented in getting in touch with a wide range of different cultures. We are hopeful he can bring that same magic to the city of Berkeley’s Arts Commission.” 

A conductor and instrumentalist by training, Cole turned Cal Performances into a venue on a par with international arts centers, boasting a $14 million annual budget. 

In a 2005 interview with KQED, Cole said: “I had the idea to make [Berkeley] more like a London, New York or Paris where the greatest artists come from all over the world.” 

“With his decades of experience working with an immense diversity of talented artists, Robert is a great addition to the Arts Commission,” said Bonnie Hughes, who organizes the Berkeley Arts Festival, in a statement.

Court Orders South Berkeley Problem House Boarded Up

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday December 03, 2009 - 08:50:00 AM

A judge on Wednesday ordered a longtime problem property at 1610 Oregon St. boarded up as provided for in health and safety codes, siding with the plaintiff, the city of Berkeley, on the issue. 

Alameda County Superior Court Judge Winifred Smith ruled that the house, belonging to defendant Lenora Moore, should be secured and not be used for any purpose, and stay closed for one year beginning 30 days from the day the court notice of closure is posted on the property.  

The house has been the subject of numerous complaints and lawsuits by neighbors and the city, who alleged that drug activity has taken place on its premises.  

Jack Harrison Dies at 69

By Dave Blake
Thursday December 03, 2009 - 08:49:00 AM

Jack Harrison, longtime labor activist, defense attorney and drug rehab counselor, died Nov. 16 of gastrointestinal stromal cancer. Jack served for the last five years on the Rent Stabilization Board and was the 2006 Peace and Freedom Party candidate for California attorney general. Anyone who attended Rent Board hearings will remember him well—a rangy, stereotypically irascible Irishman, he always let you know when you were dancing around an issue, that life was far too short for bullshitting.  

He practiced working-people law: social security, worker’s compensation, and criminal defense. He also handled cranes and blast furnaces for U.S. Steel, organized restaurant and hotel workers, and counseled drug users through rehab and in how to negotiate a legal system designed to make their lives about as difficult as possible. Jack’s clients were generally a hard lot, which was just what he was looking for; the innocent and the well off couldn’t take full advantage of his vast store of skills and weren’t all that interesting, either.  

Jack is survived by his many friends who loved him deeply, including everyone he worked so hard to help. Those interested in taking part in plans for a memorial can contact his wife Norma at 527-9584. 




Holiday Shopping at the Berkeley Flea Market

By Lydia Gans, Special to the Planet
Thursday December 03, 2009 - 09:04:00 AM
Sher Hickerson tries on Tibetan jewelry at vendor Tseten Khangsar's booth.
Lydia Gans
Sher Hickerson tries on Tibetan jewelry at vendor Tseten Khangsar's booth.
The Berkeley Flea Market as seen from Adeline Street.
Lydia Gans
The Berkeley Flea Market as seen from Adeline Street.

The Berkeley Flea Market, happening every Saturday and Sunday at the Ashby BART station parking lot, has it all—exotic clothing, jewelry, local and imported arts and crafts, books, CDs, electronic equipment, foods, plants, home-crafted soaps and scents, and much, much more. There are vendors selling household goods and a section for the traditional kind of flea market goods—the pots and pans and things no longer in use. You can go there to look for a gift for a lover, a friend, a child or a parent—find it all and have so much fun at the same time.  

You can take a break and sit at one of the outdoor tables and have a snack—or a meal. Enjoy African, Mexican, Caribbean food or a plain old hot dog, a cup of coffee or a smoothie. And if you’re stressed out, there is usually a booth offering massage. 

More than a place to shop, the Berkeley Flea market is a “scene,” a place to hang out, stroll up and down the aisles and check in with friends. A longtime resident in the neighborhood says, “I think it’s part of the community; people look forward to it. I think a lot of older people walk through the market. I don’t say they always spend money, but it gives them something to do on the weekend.” A vendor who has been selling records and other collectibles since the market first started lives nearby and says “it’s part of my community.” He likens it to a “cultural center more than a flea market.”  

But there is more to it. Unlike a corporation operating for profit, the Berkeley Flea Market is run by Community Services United (CSU), a consortium of nonprofit Berkeley organizations that receive quarterly payments out of the income generated by the flea market. These organizations each send a representative to the board of directors, which meets monthly to oversee and set policy for the market. The funds given to these organizations make it possible for them to carry out their programs in the community. 

It all started back in 1975 when some 30 community service organizations got together and formed CSU to pool some of their resources and provide support for each other. At the time they were operating with government War on Poverty money. Then, in 1978, with the passage of Proposition 13 and then-governor Ronald Reagan’s drastic cuts in money for social programs, CSU member organizations found themselves desperate for funds to carry on their work. The usual sorts of fundraising activities, benefit concerts and such, often ended up costing more than they brought in. The flea market was a brilliant idea in many ways. A few of the early activists who are still around recall the vision and its fulfillment in those early days.  

Making it work was “challenging,” according to Alameda County supervisor Keith Carson, an early member who acted as manager for the first few years. The mechanics of the operation were complex. Carson described what it was like: “We didn’t have any road map. We had to deal with the BART administration, to deal with the surrounding neighbors and the impact in the community ... (with) police and their concern around crime. (We) had to figure out how to keep the facility clean ...” And they had to attract vendors. People’s memories differ but all agree that it took some time before the market was able to turn a profit.  

Marty Lynch, now executive director of LifeLong Medical Care, was a representative to CSU in the early days. When we spoke several years ago he said, “Very early on we realized that part of the benefit was really to support the underground economy of south Berkeley. A community that then was even poorer than it is now. A lot of people were living on the edge and this provided another venue to make a few bucks.” That’s true now more than ever. 

There were some bumpy periods. At one point in the 1980 BART tried to kick them out. Apparently it was not so much a matter of objecting to the flea market but BART officials were afraid that it established a precedent whereby other groups might want to take over BART facilities for possibly less desirable purposes. There was a long drawn-out legal battle which finally granted the flea market the legal right to an ongoing lease.  

Today the market is a smooth-running and decidedly successful operation. The roughly 250 stalls are fully rented out to about 170 vendors, (many rent two and some rent three stalls) every Saturday and Sunday except when it rains. The vendors themselves are a very diverse group, many are immigrants or refugees from other countries, others have a long history in the neighborhood. The stall fees, which have gone from $5 to $26 over the last 25 years, are still a bargain. The income from the stall fees pays all the expenses—the BART lease, toilet rental, dumping fees, insurance, security, staff salaries and all the miscellaneous expenses in addition to the regular contributions to the member organizations.  

Errol Davis, who has worked for the market since 1993 and been manager for the past eight years, keeps things running smoothly. He organizes the assignment of spaces to the vendors, supervises the other staff people and spends part of his time walking through the market making sure everything is going as it should and the vendors are satisfied. He has always liked the flea market, he says, and he’s pleased with the diversity of the people and the goods that are sold and that it’s one of the few markets that does not charge admission.  

Easy to get to by BART, this is Berkeley’s alternative to San Francisco’s fancy boutiques and department stores. 


A Game of Chess: Teen Doings at the Public Library

By Phila Rogers, Special to the Planet
Thursday December 03, 2009 - 09:12:00 AM
Librarian Will Marston looks on as members of the teen chess club battle over the boards at the north branch of the Berkeley Public Library.
Phila Rogers
Librarian Will Marston looks on as members of the teen chess club battle over the boards at the north branch of the Berkeley Public Library.

It’s 3:30 p.m. on a Wednesday afternoon at the North Branch of the Berkeley Public Library. A dozen teens are gathering as Teen Services Librarian Will Marston lays out chess sets on the tables along with the all-important bowls of popcorn. By 3:45, the full bowls are reduced to a few unpopped kernels.  

The next day, Will is at the West Branch to coordinate the 4 p.m. Drawing Club, where students, after they’ve finished using their computer time, sit down at a table to draw. 

Will also visits King Middle School and Berkeley High once a week, where he runs the Earphone English program for students for whom English is a second language. The library collection of 300 titles includes audio books with accompanying print versions to help students with comprehension and pronunciation. “At Berkeley High we will be listening to Stephenie Meyer’s New Moon in class,” Will says, “and then we plan on hosting a Twilight-related program near the release date of the movie.”  

Will has been at the Berkeley Library for 20 years, working his way up the ranks to become an intermittent librarian 10 years ago and a permanent full-time teen-services librarian three years ago.  

“I love children’s and teen literature and enjoy sharing in the enthusiasm so many of them have for reading,” Will says. “I can also help them find what they want without the onus of grading or judging them. Many of them come to the library to wait for parents to pick them up, so one of my jobs is to instill the idea of respecting other users of the library while they still enjoy being here.” 

The North Branch on the corner of Hopkins and the Alameda is often awash with students from King Middle School two blocks down the street. When not in the library itself, they lean against the porch railing under the olive trees or cluster around the circular stone bench at the bus stop. 

While Will is with the Chess Club on Wednesday afternoon, Teen Services Librarian Jack Baur is with his PlayReaders group at Central library. The group was started 15 years ago by his predecessor, Debbie Carton, who now runs a similar library group with adults. 

“We read plays from every era and culture,” says Jack. “Our last play was A Flea in Her Ear, an early 20th-century French farce by George Feydeau. The kids had tons of fun with the double entendres and the ‘outrageous French accents.’ ”  

“Lots of these kids are interested in pursuing theater beyond high school, and many have,” Jack continues. “PlayReaders gives them a great chance to learn about the breadth of theatrical literature.” 

Amalie Vega, a senior at Berkeley High, is one of the PlayReaders. She sprawls on the rug in front of the fireplace in the Storytelling Room with five of her fellow readers. She’s a long-time member of the group she affectionately describes by saying, “We’re all big ‘dorks.’” With her fellow “dorks,” she performs in the annual PlayReaders show Bizarre Shorts. Like many of the PlayReaders, she intends to pursue drama in college. “This summer, I did the CalShakes acting conservatory camp, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed about a professional audition in December,” she says. (Check out Jack Baur’s very cool and hilarious video promoting the teen summer reading program, which features some of the PlayReaders: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1R5k6Wp_BHc featuring some of the PlayReaders).  

Jack Baur, a recent graduate of the University of Washington’s library program, is hardly more than a decade older than some of the teen participants, and he brings youthful energy and enthusiasm to the job he loves.  

“When I started grad school, I imagined I’d end up at an academic library, wearing a tweed jacket and being intellectual all day,” says Jack. “But as I went through school I was inspired by some of the incredible Teen Services librarians at the Seattle Public Library, who really pushed the idea of the library as a comfortable place for teens to learn about themselves while learning about the world. I realized that all those things I cared about and wanted to do in my library career—advocacy, programming, and building exciting collections and reference work—were particularly important for the teen populations.”  

Working with Jessica Lee, the teacher-librarian at Willard Middle School, Jack is developing the DigitaLit program to encourage young readers to explore technology while encouraging young computer users to read. 

Like many librarians these days, both Jack and Will divide their time as teen-services librarians between the downtown Central Library and the four branches. 

Meanwhile back at Central Library, senior Teen Services Librarian Joy Shioshita hosts a class from Berkeley High with Teen Services Librarian Kay Finney. They are giving a tour and demonstrating how to use online databases for research and reports.  

The Teen Room near the second-floor reference desk is full of students who have walked up the street from Berkeley High. Shelves on three sides are crowded with teen literature. 

In what she calls “a rewarding and extremely time-consuming process,” Joy recently helped to choose teens for the seven part-time jobs out of the 114 applicants. “Because we only hired seniors last year, we have a new group. Three will be working at Central with the other four at the different branches,” Joy says. Their work will be as diverse as repairing headphones, working in the Children’s Department, or planning an urban-fiction book discussion group for teens.  

Pratik Thapa, now a student at Berkeley City College, remembers his two years as a part-time teen employee as being “great.” “Along with shelving books, I sometimes helped my supervisors organize events, and occasionally I designed flyers. I worked eight hours a week, and I had flexibility choosing my working hours around my classes. When I volunteered during the summer of 2006, I got to manage South Branch’s Myspace page.”  

Joy continues: “Both Kay and I also staff the library’s main reference desk where we often field questions from teens. Kay typically staffs the reference desk four hours a day. If it’s one of our gaming weeks, on Friday afternoon we set up the Nintendo Wii with the large projector in the community meeting room. 

“The four of us meet regularly, with Kay ordering for the Central Library Teen Room with Will and Jack making selections for their branches. I review the orders, maybe suggesting some changes such as ordering more copies of books that are expected to be popular.” 

And then there’s all those meetings that librarians attend. With never enough hours to the day, you’re apt to see Joy reading a teen book while munching on an apple during her lunch break, or after work stopping by a bookstore to look over the teen inventory for titles she might have missed on the various publishers’ lists.  

Joy has worked as a librarian for over nine years, first at the Oakland Public Library. “I started my present job in Berkeley in February as the teen-services librarian because I especially enjoy working with teens. I’m interested to see how we can expand teen programs here at the library. I think that teen titles are among the most exciting new books being published.” 



Hilda Bell Roberts, 1915–2009

By Jane Welford
Thursday December 03, 2009 - 08:56:00 AM

I knew Hilda Roberts for the last 16 years of her life. She had a most remarkable life. She grew up in Philadelphia in a secular Jewish family. After finishing nursing school in Philadelphia in 1937, she joined the Medical Bureau to Aid Spanish Democracy, a group of medical personnel leaving for Spain to help the wounded from the fight against the fascists. She was 21 years old. She was so impressed with the many doctors who treated the patients, the doctors and the nurses equally, that she never forgot this. As a student nurse, the nurses would have to stand when a doctor entered the room.  

The complete lack of racism among the Spanish people and among the international battalions also greatly impressed her. The courage and creativity and energy of the Spanish people in their fight to defend their new-found democracy was her lifelong inspiration. In Spain she worked as a staff nurse in the operating room at the Universidad Hospital and the Cruz Roja Hospital in Murcia before transferring to the Aragon front. There she traveled with the autochir, a mobile hospital that set up surgical units in a variety of temporary locations, including an unused railway tunnel, a nut factory and a mansion. Hilda Bell was evacuated from Spain in December 1938 along with other International Brigade volunteers.  

When she returned to the United States she worked to pay back a friend’s mother who had loaned her the money to go to nursing school. Then in 1942 Hilda joined the Army Nurse Corps and was sent to Australia and Papua, New Guinea. In Papua the military personnel were instructed not to let the indigenous people know how extremely intelligent they were! Hilda worked in a hospital that treated mostly American and Japanese people wounded in the battles at sea. Many soldiers had terrible burns.  

Hilda moved to San Francisco after the war, where she earned her M.S. in teaching nursing.  

After retiring from nursing, Hilda became involved in anti-nuclear work, housing and indigenous rights. She kept in touch with several political prisoners. She began standing with the weekly vigil of Berkeley Women in Black in 1989. As a Jew she was outraged by the actions of the Israeli government toward the indigenous people of Palestine. She wrote our weekly flyer for years. She went to Nicaragua in 1986 to help with the coffee picking and went back in 1990 before the election there. She went to Cuba several times, bringing medical aid, and participated in the 23-day hunger strike to force the release of a Little Yellow School Bus destined for Cuban school children that was held up at the Texas border in the heat of the summer.  

Hilda went back to Spain in 1996 with other surviving International Brigade veterans to be honored by the young people for having come to their grandparents aid in the 1930s.  

Hilda was very committed to working people’s struggles. She was on the picket lines and at the barricades at many of the hotels in the Bay Area as the workers were fighting to improve their conditions. She fought for the Radisson Hotel workers (Now Doubletree), the Claremont Hotel workers, The Woodfin Hotel workers and workers at the hotels in San Francisco. She worked very hard on the signature gathering drive so that the Berkeley Bowl workers could join the UFCW union, and she picketed and sang at the Berkeley Honda strike. Hilda was a longtime member of the Rockin’ Solidarity Labor Heritage Chorus led by Pat Wynne.  

In her last years Hilda was diagnosed with a very rare form of blood cancer called Waldenstrom’s macroglobulinaemia. It made her blood very thick and increasingly affected her memory. Even though this must have been very difficult for her, she was able to keep an amazing sense of humor and lightness of being. She kept her great compassion for the suffering of the human race even during her most difficult times and she always loved participating in world improving work, nature and sitting in the warm sun.  


Hilda’s memorial talking circle will be held from 1:30–4:30 p.m. Dec. 20 at Redwood Gardens Community Room, 2951 Derby St. Bring food and stories to share. For more information, call Jane Welford at 548-6310.

Partisan Position: Neighbors Oppose Expansion of College Avenue Safeway

By Annette Floystrup
Thursday December 03, 2009 - 08:46:00 AM
Rockridge residents are not happy with expansion plans for the College Avenue store.
Riya Bhattacharjee
Rockridge residents are not happy with expansion plans for the College Avenue store.

Rockridge is a successful neighborhood that has recovered several times from severe economic impacts, including highway construction and the Oakland Hills fire, without any help from the City of Oakland. Following the construction of BART and Highway 24, more than 50 percent of the businesses were vacant, empty lots dotted College Avenue, and Rockridge was one of the most crime-ridden neighborhoods in Oakland.  

Concerned citizens and merchants of Rockridge organized and created a solution to bring an end to the problems of the commercial district. That solution was a new zoning designation, C-31—small-scale, pedestrian-oriented shopping with residences or offices above. Over time, this zoning designation has been so successful that several other neighborhoods in Oakland have adopted it, including Piedmont Avenue and the Montclair and Laurel districts. Rockridge has been a top revenue generator among neighborhood retail districts, benefiting all of Oakland, for almost 40 years.  

Now Safeway, a $9 billion global corporation, has decided that it wants to bust the zoning that makes Rockridge successful. Its current store is grandfathered in at 22,500 square feet. The C-31 designation limits size to 7,500 square feet without a conditional use permit (the average size of stores on College Avenue is actually 1,200 square feet), but the Safeway proposal is for a 50,400 square-foot store, plus retail condos totaling an additional 11,000 square feet. They contend that this will better serve the neighborhood.  

But does the neighborhood need a larger Safeway? Within a 1.6 mile radius of the College Avenue Safeway, there are seven other markets—Berkeley Bowl, Andronico’s, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Village Market, Star Market and the Safeway at Broadway and Pleasant Valley. In addition, we have a Sunday year-round farmers’ market at the DMV on Claremont, Market Hall specialty shops and other locally owned independent food shops. We are well served.  

Safeway’s commitment to Oakland and the track record here is also not good. Safeway abandoned Oakland as a headquarters in favor of Pleasanton. Safeway closed a number of stores in Oakland as part of a consolidation in the 1970s, and left East and West Oakland simply without grocery stores. They left Rockridge with a blighted property at Claremont and Clifton, a huge empty store and vast parking lot, the best use of which in all these years was as the temporary FEMA Disaster Recovery Center after the hills fire.  

Safeway is a big corporation. It does what it does for its own bottom line. There is no public benefit concept underlying its development. A present estimate is that the College location generates over $2,000 per square foot. That places the current gross receipts at $50–60 million per year. Doubling the size of the facility will drive gross receipts to over $110 million per year. Naturally, our concern is where the additional $50–60 million in sales will come from. We believe these sales can only be generated by expanding the catchment area—the geographic area served—and greatly increasing traffic.  

In past Safeway presentations it has been the company’s contention that the catchment area will remain the same size, because its studies indicate a great amount of sales “leakage” (buyers who currently leave the neighborhood to shop elsewhere). As customers and consumers in the neighborhood, we know this “leakage” concept is not correct and the only way to increase sales is to increase the size of the catchment area. The environmental costs of traffic/congestion and noise/pollution will clearly increase.  

I am a member of FANS, which is a coalition of groups in Oakland and Berkeley that share concerns about Safeway’s proposal to expand its store on College Avenue. They were originally asked by Safeway to work with them as stakeholders impacted by the proposed rebuilding of the College Avenue Safeway store, but when it became apparent that the community disagreed with Safeway’s plans, Safeway abandoned the stakeholder meeting process. FANS, however, continued to work together.  

FANS comprises various groups, including the Rockridge Community Planning Council (RCPC); Claremont Elmwood Neighborhood Association (CENA); Rockridge District Association (RDA), composed of local business owners and professionals; Concerned Neighbors of the College Avenue Safeway; Contiguous Neighbors to the College Avenue Safeway; Contiguous Merchants to the College Avenue Safeway; Rockridge/Elmwood Local Architects and Planners.  

STAND and ULTRA, groups in neighborhoods near Rockridge, also share concerns about this project.  

The currently proposed project will have significant air-quality impacts, transportation impacts in both Berkeley and Oakland, land-use impacts, aesthetic, cultural and visual impacts on the community, as well as blight, and sustainability and energy use impacts, including global warming.  

The current Safeway needs a remodel, and FANS would be willing to consider a modest expansion of the current Safeway store to better serve the community, but the project as presented is unnecessarily impactful. It violates city standards and needs to be rejected in favor of a smaller, more appropriate project that would meet both Safeway’s and the community’s needs.  

The true question is, will this project really benefit the neighborhood, or will it benefit Safeway? Residents and merchants believe that this proposed project will do irreparable economic harm, and we are asking the city of Oakland to look at our economic track record. We have created and sustained success for almost 40 years, pouring millions of dollars in revenues into city coffers while asking for little in return. We even built a library for the city and deeded it over, a meeting facility in constant use by community groups from all over Oakland. We have given a great deal to Oakland including some of its most positive press; it’s time for some soul-searching at City Hall.  


Annette Floystrup is on the board of RCPC and FANS and has lived in Oakland most of her life. 


EDITOR’S NOTE: It’s not always possible for staff reporters to cover all the news our readers would like to know about, so we’re soliciting submissions from writers who have a personal interest in stories they want to report for our Partisan Position feature. We ask them to try to include all relevant information and various points of view, but the Partisan Position warning label tells readers that the story they’re reading might not be completely impartial.

Bernard Maybeck and Berkeley’s Concrete Grid-Form Wall Panels

By Susan Dinkelspiel Cerny, Special to the Planet
Thursday December 03, 2009 - 09:15:00 AM
1007 University Ave., photographed this year.
Susan Dinkelspiel Cerny
1007 University Ave., photographed this year.
A detail of two grid-form wall panels.
Susan Dinkelspiel Cerny
A detail of two grid-form wall panels.

On July 20, based on nine separate findings, Berkeley’s Landmarks Preservation Commission designated 1007 University Ave. a city landmark because architecturally and culturally the building met all of the Landmark Preservation Ordinance’s criteria for designation. The designation was appealed on the premise that Maybeck had “nothing whatsoever to do with the project.” The appeal goes to the City Council on Dec. 8 for a final decision. 

Bernard Maybeck (1864–1954) was not only a great architect, but he relished experimenting with new materials and methods of construction. Early in his career Maybeck held two patents, one for a coach seat (1883) and one for a fan (1890).  

After Maybeck returned from his studies at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris in 1888 his first job was with Carrere & Hastings of New York, the company working on the Ponce de Leon Hotel in St. Augustine, Florida. According to Maybeck biographer Kenneth Cardwell, the hotel was the first “large multi-storied concrete building in the United States.”  

By 1907, the year he designed the Andrew Lawson House, Maybeck was a well-established Bay Area architect. For the “fireproof” Lawson house, Maybeck used concrete walls covered with smooth plaster imbedded with pigment; even the roof was made of concrete. In 1910, for his remarkable First Church of Christ, Scientist, he used cast concrete for the massive pillars supporting the roof trusses in its raw form, enhanced only by decorative painted details. He is also known for massive concrete fireplaces used in many of his houses.  

After the 1923 North Berkeley fire destroyed his home, Maybeck built a small house, using a new form of concrete called “Bubblestone.” The technique used burlap sacks dipped into a frothy mix of concrete and then hung, shingle-style, onto exterior walls.  

Maybeck’s largest commission was for Principia College, in the small rural town of Elsah, Illinois, overlooking the Mississippi River, an hour northeast of St. Louis, Missouri. The campus is an impressive ensemble of buildings, many having eclectic Tudor-style overtones but constructed of concrete on steel frames. Maybeck designed the campus plan and approximately 15 buildings. For the Science Building (1934) Maybeck used transparent glass blocks for the first time. Craig, author of The Principia, a history of Maybeck’s involvement in the development and planning of the college, states “During one of Maybeck’s trips through Alton, Illinois, he noticed the use of glass blocks on one of the city’s main streets. The architect immediately resolved to employ this novel material for part of his science laboratory” (p. 261).  

This was an early use of glass blocks since they weren’t developed until the early 1930s and only displayed for the first time at the Chicago Century of Progress World’s Fair in 1933. 

In 1937 Maybeck designed a concrete house in Kensington for his son Wallen. Located on the ridge overlooking Wildcat Canyon, Maybeck wanted the house to resist the weather and be fireproof. The poured-in-place, modular concrete wall panels used a method developed by Arthur E. Troeil (1889–1955) that sandwiched insulating material between the concrete and provided the possibility of creating window and door openings. Troeil had obtained a patent for a “System of Concrete Construction” in 1927, which is referenced in many subsequent patents.  

It was in this building that Maybeck first used concrete wall panels with an open latticework pattern filled with glass blocks, and is the first known use of this concrete latticework design in a building in the Bay Area. Maybeck used the lattice-pattern concrete walls for the garage and kitchen. The method of construction, said to have been developed by Maybeck working with Troeil (Thomas Gordon Smith, Fine Homebuilding, April 1981), used square metal pans to fill the desired openings when the concrete was poured. After the concrete cured, the pans were removed and the glass blocks inserted into the holes.  

However, history (because we can’t know everything) can be a bit slippery.  

In 1936 Rodney F. Phillips (1880–1962), an Oakland inventor who had earned a degree in chemistry from the university in 1904, applied for a patent for a “Concrete Wall Form.” Before the patent was issued in July of 1939, Phillips had assigned a half interest to George A. Scott (1871–1945) of Berkeley so the patent belonged to both men. Interestingly, for this patent there are no references to Troeil’s earlier wall-form patent.  

Scott was a contractor, property owner and businessman. In 1912 Maybeck designed a house for Scott at 2350 Vine St. Only the concrete fireplace and chimney remained standing after the house was destroyed during the 1923 fire. The surviving chimney was later incorporated in the replacement house that stands today.  

In 1938 Scott built a Concrete Wall Form demonstration building at 3075 Telegraph Ave. designed by Walter Steilberg, an architect also interested in concrete construction and a friend of Maybeck’s. The demonstration building had samples of cylindrical glass and square glass blocks in a lattice pattern. Notes taken during a 1977 phone interview with George A. Scott’s son-in-law, J. Allen Bray, Bray said: “Barney” Maybeck and Walter Steilberg were consulting architects.  

In 2003, 3075 Telegraph Ave. was designated a landmark, but the designation was overturned by the City Council and the building demolished in 2005. No professional architectural record was made of its construction and wall panels, so information regarding the construction method is now lost.  

In 1938, the Mobilized Women of Berkeley, a charity organization founded in 1917 as a response to the war effort, engaged Maybeck, whose wife Annie was a long-time member, to design a building for them at 1001 University Ave. The permit was issued in September, and the building was complete the end of December. It was described as a five-room, one-story building. The architect is listed as Maybeck, and the contractor was Ensor H. Buel. The building used the patent-pending “Grid Form Wall” by Rodney F. Phillips and George A. Scott. While Maybeck used a variety of materials for this building, the concrete lattice-work grid form, filled with translucent glass blocks, was its dominant feature. This building was damaged by fire in 1975 and demolished in 1980 after much deliberation because it had been designed by Maybeck.  

In 1939, George Scott and the Concrete Grid Form Company were exhibitors at the Golden Gate International Exposition on Treasure Island. Architect & Engineer covered the exhibit in September 1940 and stated: “When anything genuinely new or different is offered the building industry the first question asked is ‘How about the cost?’ ... something new, something better, something more economical ... Experts who have studied this new form of concrete construction describe it as a ‘NEW TOOL to increase better building.’ Its possibilities for low cost, good looking, fireproof homes are recognized.”  

After World War II a new and improved grid-form wall panel was developed by Fred Stadelhofer of Berkeley Pump. After some experimenting on a garage in East Contra Costa County he came up with an easier method of construction. The Scott and Rodney method produced walls with empty holes that would be glazed after the concrete set. Stadelhofer’s method put the glass blocks or small windows into a reinforced wall form before the concrete was poured, making it an all-in one process. This was a huge improvement and between 1943–1953 about 20 grid-form buildings were constructed, mostly industrial, in West Berkeley.  

In 1949 the Mobilized Women of Berkeley had a second building constructed next to the one they had built in 1938. This is also a grid-form building and it is still standing at 1007 University Ave. The Mobilized Women’s Board of Directors minutes of Aug. 8, 1947, reported that “Mrs. Gannon showed some very interesting drawings made by Mr. Maybeck of a new addition to 1001 University.”  

Although Maybeck is not listed as the architect on the building permit of the new building, when it was complete in 1949, a newpaper article noted “Bernard Maybeck was the architect of the original building and his ideas have been carried out in the new one by Contractor Ensor Buell [sic], Asst. Architect P. L. Coates [sic], and Landscape Architect Phillip Kearney.”  

Maybeck’s enthusiasm for new materials and his remarkable ability to use them in unique ways is one of his legacies.  


Susan Dinkelspiel Cerny is author of Berkeley Landmarks, An Architectural Guidebook to San Francisco and the Bay Area and a member of Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association.

First Person: Remembering the Free Speech Movement On its 45th Anniversary

By Raymond Barglow
Thursday December 03, 2009 - 08:57:00 AM

I walked onto the UC Berkeley campus today, Wednesday, to attend the noon rally, in commemoration of the Free Speech Movement. On this day 45 years ago, I also came to the campus, and got arrested along with 800 others because of our occupation of Sproul Hall. This was the day that Mario Savio gave his famous speech from the steps of Sproul: “There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can’t take part; you can’t even passively take part ...”  

So I was thinking about Mario and wishing he were walking alongside me this morning. I knew him only as a fellow student in the Cal philosophy department, not as a friend. We took several courses together and would talk sometimes about philosophical matters: Is the mind identical to the body? Can ethical value judgments be rationally justified? One of the philosophers whom Mario admired was Immanuel Kant, whose ethics enjoins us to always respect others as ends in themselves, never merely as a means to the satisfaction of our own interests. 

In his recent biography of Savio, Robert Cohen writes that Mario and the FSM “embodied a mass movement rooted in moral principle rather than in political calculation or opportunism, standing up for freedom despite the odds of succeeding against a powerful university administration.” That sounds right to me. And although I’m mostly an observer these days, no longer an active participant in campus protest activities, I recognize in talking with this generation’s activists a similar moral impulse. “No cuts, no fees; education should be free!” they chant. At issue today is whether everyone has the right to an education. Forty-five years ago, the issue was students’ rights to organize on campus on behalf of the civil rights and anti-war movements. 

The Free Speech Movement didn’t win all of its demands, but we made substantial progress. Students and workers on campus are now permitted by the UC administration to organize support for political causes. Can today’s campus community win its demands? Can we throw open the gates to a college education to every qualified high school graduate who wishes to enter them? 

The social forces that we face today tell us that money for higher education simply is not there. We’re up against not only a self-serving Board of Regents and Governor, and overpaid administrators reluctant to bite the hand that feeds them, but also against a federal government that starves public schools at the same time that it provides a banquet to the weapons manufacturers. And now the President aims to escalate the war in Afghanistan, costing many more hundreds of billions of dollars and many lives. 

Forty-five years ago was, it seems to me, a more hopeful time in our nation’s history. Can today’s protest movement on college campuses up and down the state keep hope alive? I don’t know. But I’m encouraged when I perceive the Kantian community-mindedness that links the generations. My guess is that Mario would have appreciated that too. 


Raymond Barglow is the founder of Berkeley Tutors Network. 



Keeping the Home Fires Burning

By Becky O’Malley
Thursday December 03, 2009 - 08:58:00 AM

What’s to become of us? After a brief halcyon period in which concerned Americans were allowed to believe that Barack Obama was a smart guy who had all the answers, reality set in. His economic recovery plan, colloquially known as the bailout, seems to have prevented total collapse, but it’s left a bad taste behind with those who are well aware that, as usual, most big finance players are making out like bandits. Employment recovery lags, as it always does. 

Healthcare is….well, where exactly is healthcare going? An inadequate prescription is working its way slowly through a heavily lobbied, poorly informed and recalcitrant congress, but at least it’s still alive.  

For Californians, the total collapse of our educational system is apparent wherever you look. The once-mighty University of California is rapidly being transformed into an outpost of corporate R&D: research and development, with “research” only in quotes, as pure science is neglected in favor of emphasis on developing lucrative commercial products, particularly those which can be given a bit of greenwashing. 

And don’t ask about the humanities. Even academics in relatively well-funded science and engineering departments have started to express their concern that their students seem to be more and more illiterate, though not yet innumerate. When technical studies are not leavened by a fundamental grounding in broad-based subjects like history and literature, future researchers are prone to make ill-informed choices about what work they’re doing and why.  

If by some miracle UC manages to continue to deliver a good, well-rounded education to its students, they will increasingly be drawn from a restricted pool as tuition costs skyrocket. The greatness of the University of California has been based on its diversity, now at risk because the citizens of the state of California seem to have decided that education is no longer a public mission, just a luxury for the well-off.  

And it’s not only the big U, it’s also the hardworking California State Universities and the community colleges which are suffering. Students who come to them from high school are less and less prepared to undertake college studies because of the increasing impoverishment of the California public school system. These institutions have traditionally carved out special missions for themselves which served their local areas, and that’s becoming harder and harder as they too suffer funding cutbacks.  

Case in point: on Monday morning jazz star Kim Nalley, a world-class singer, sent out an e-mail to her list saying that “as you might know from the televised strikes at UC Berkeley, the California budget crisis has cut funding to colleges and universities. KCSM is a part of the College of San Mateo and has been hit hard. So we are having an old-fashioned rent party to raise funds!” She was pitching a benefit that night at Yoshi’s to raise money to keep the station afloat. 

KCSM has worked for more than 40 years to keep jazz, America’s most important contribution to serious music, thriving. Since the demise of KJAZ, it’s the only station in the Bay Area with a 24-hour jazz format, and one of the 35 most-listened-to non-profit stations in the country.  

Monday’s show at Yoshi’s was an impressive gathering of the Bay Area’s top jazz talent, many participants with national reputations and all contributing their services for free. As a grandmother myself, I was partial to Kim’s tearjerker duet on Silent Night with her own grandmother, but the whole evening was amazing.  

Looking around the room, I was struck by how much of what went on that night was linked to California education programs now under attack. Kim herself is a proud graduate of UC Berkeley with a degree in history who often does historically informed shows like her recent tribute to Billie Holiday.  

Richard Hadlock was introduced from the audience, a wondrous clarinetist and KCSM broadcaster, who also happens to have been my daughter Eliza’s kindergarten teacher at John Muir School in Berkeley—and she’s now a professional musician and a teacher herself. Onstage in an all-star big band with Lavay Wilson was Howard Wiley, who played his sax for Eliza’s production of The Wiz when she taught at Berkeley High and he was a student in their world-famous jazz program. That’s a three-generation transfer of the baton right there, enabled by educational institutions doing their job of preserving the culture. 

The evening’s pleasure was a temporary antidote to President Obama’s speech on Afghanistan, a real downer. Bob Herbert nailed it in a New York Times column headed as “A Tragic Mistake”: “The United States is broken—school systems are deteriorating, the economy is in shambles, homelessness and poverty rates are expanding—yet we’re nation-building in Afghanistan, sending economically distressed young people over there by the tens of thousands at an annual cost of a million dollars each.” Online comments on the column show that many Obama supporters are sad and disillusioned by the president’s decision to continue what seems like an impossible and insanely expensive enterprise. 

The particularly precipitous decline of education in California is partly our own fault because we refuse to tax ourselves adequately, but it’s also affected by the state of the national economy. Obama’s decision to embark on yet another round of pouring money into the bottomless pit of an unwinnable war is sure to make things worse here. We’ll have to figure out what to do about it—I fear rent parties are not going to pay all the bills. 



While we’re on the subject of benefit performances, however, we’re delighted to report that a coalition of community groups spearheaded by Artists for Change has offered to host a fundraiser for the benefit of the Berkeley Daily Planet. It will be at Oakland’s historic Liguri Club, more recently The Omni and now a private home, on Sunday, Jan. 24. The Dynamic Miss Faye Carroll and Kito Gamble (another teacher and another Berkeley High graduate) will be the headliners. Save the date; more information to come. If you or your organization would like to join the list of sponsors, e-mail broklcrofts@earthlink.net, or call 655-3841. 





Two Quagmires

Justin DeFreitas
Thursday December 03, 2009 - 12:07:00 PM

Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

Thursday December 03, 2009 - 08:59:00 AM


Editors, Daily Planet: 

  Last week a large load of wood chips was dumped on the eastern edge of the historic Anna Head School along Bowditch St. Today there is a sign atop the pile advertising genuine “Treesitter Wood Chips” at what looks like $5 per bushel, and a 642 number to call. This could only be described as a tasteless example of how low UC-City relations have gone. 

Jerry Sulliger 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Construction has been dragging at 1800 San Pablo Ave. since the very beginning. Now—more a year and a half later—the project’s General Contractor has informed me that construction has been stopped due to financial problems. It is my understanding that Saeed Adelli, the building’s owner, is on the verge of losing—or has already lost—ownership of the building. A number of liens have been filed against the building. 

Meanwhile, the building presents neighborhood security concerns. Although security is still present one wonders if it will be pulled. Without security the building’s gaping unfinished garage and the scaffolding invite problem activities. What confidence do we have that the building will be safe in the near future? 

Additionally, the building is an eyesore and a pedestrian nightmare. A beautiful new facade presently sits hidden behind ugly, sidewalk-clogging scaffolding. Construction toilets, debris boxes, mud and general garbage litter the site. How long is the neighborhood expected to put up with this mess? 

Who knows how long it will be before construction resumes? The neighborhood shouldn’t be burdened with this problem. The city needs to step in here. I ask that the city council and the Planning Department quickly review conditions and enforce the following: 1) the building’s facade should be sealed for security, 2) the scaffolding should be be removed and the sidewalks cleared until construction is resumed, 3) the building’s present and future owners should write a letter accepting continuous responsibility for current and future site and building security. Finally, the city council should seek payment of outstanding permit fees that were temporarily waived at the beginning of construction. 

Jon Alff 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I just read Daniel’s “First Person:Through Afghanistan and Pakistan, Lands of the Pashtuns.” I really like it.  

In recent times where world media portray them as terrorists, few good men like Benjamin Gilmour and Daniel Borgstrom are sharing their personal experiences with Pashtuns. 

A group of few Pashtuns across the globe are maintaining an internet based monthly magazine “SAHAR: Voice of Pashtuns” which is non-profit based and totally volunteer. The purpose of magazine is to bring awareness about Pashtuns and their true culture and their non-violent potential once demonstrated to the world by their beloved leader Abdul Ghaffar Khan, The Frontier Gandhi. 

Qazi Roohul Amin 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

As I watched television coverage of last Friday’s student protests and the 12 hour-occupation of Wheeler Hall, from my living room window I could see helicopters circling the campus and hovering over Wheeler. This brought back vivid memories of the Vietnam and People’s Park protests which I witnessed as I was then working at Boalt Hall School of Law. 

On May 15, 1969, our beloved Governor Reagan sent the California Highway Patrol to quell the protests, that incident referred to as “Bloody Thursday.” Adding insult to injury, he then called out 2,200 state National Guard troops to occupy the city of Berkeley. Some of these National Guards were offered brownies laced with LSD. Then came the tear gassing. I remember walking up Bancroft on my way to work at the Law School, choking on the tear gas, my eyes burning. Needless to say, this chaotic scene did little to help students who were taking exams that day. 

And then came People’s Park. The University had purchased a plot of land south of the campus, hoping to build student dorms on that site. But Cal students claimed the land for themselves. When the administration decided to go ahead with construction plans, 30,000 students—and denizens—marched on the Park, confronting the National Guard troops called in by Reagan. On that occasion, I narrowly escaped being struck with a heavy brick which a protester—a non-student I’m sure—hurled at the Bank of America on Telegraph and Durant, smashing a large window. Not surprisingly, that bank no longer has windows. So, with the Vietnam War demonstrations, the nonviolent, peaceful spirit of student evidenced in the earlier Free Speech movement, immortalized by Mario Savio’s famous speech, activism gave way to violent and confrontational politics, attracting outsiders looking for a good time. 

While I don’t condone violent student protests, the Vietnam demonstrations were, in my mind, justified. 

I’m no so sure about last week’s protests which were radicalized. And I must confess that I’m concerned that today’s UC students did not actively demonstrate against the war in Iraq and have shown only half-hearted condemnation of Professor John Yoo, and his defense of torture. Have they now grown passive, their idealism gone awry? I hope not!  

Dorothy Snodgrass 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

George Pimentel was a true CAL Bear though he never played on the football team. I’d like to tell you something about him, not for his glorification, but because he represents the countless students who fulfill their potential and contribute untold benefits to society as a result of the free—or affordable—education they received at the University of California. 

George grew up in the depression in Los Angeles where his single mother worked a night shift to support him and his brother, and she encouraged them to attend UCLA, though they had to live at home and commute across town to study there. He received his Ph.D. from UC Berkeley, where he remained to do research and teach for the next forty years. 

During that time he made groundbreaking discoveries in chemistry research, edited the influential “Pimentel Report” for the National Academy of Sciences, taught freshman Chemistry to many thousands of students, and led the writing of the revolutionary and widely used high school chemistry curriculum CHEM Study. He served the nation as Deputy Director of the NSF for three years, and worked tirelessly on UC committees to maintain and improve the university he believed in so fervently. The effects of such a career increase with time: for example, many of his high-achieving graduate students credit his influence on their lives, and he influenced countless students, colleagues, and the public with his talks both here and abroad.  

I can’t believe he would have accomplished so much in his relatively short life—he died at 67—if he had been denied the opportunity of attending one of the world’s best universities. There are many, many such stories, in every discipline. Given George’s personality, and the moral support at home, he would probably have gotten himself some sort of education somewhere; thousands of people more timid but just as talented are lost to us without this opportunity—and sometimes direct their energy to destructive ends. The cost to society is unthinkable—and unnecessary. 

Don’t let a misguided state government devastate the university, the lives of present and future students, and ultimately the quality of life of millions even beyond California. Surely there is enough talent in the university and the state to come up with an imaginative solution? 

Jeanne Pimentel  

(Mrs. George C. Pimentel) 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

For a moment, I thought the Cal-Berkeley Sixties-style protesting was history. 

Then the Rent-a-Mob war cry, “Shame on You, Shame on You” and “Books not Batons, Books not Batons” rang out and clear, and the fun began. 

I say shame on the Cal students, their faculty nannies, and the junior college rabble who took part in the riot. Yes, that’s was what it was, a riot. 

Faculty members should have been teaching or grading papers, and the students should have been in class or doing homework. 

Larry Hawkins 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

Once again, the supporter of the campaign to defame the Daily Planet—which found its way onto the pages of the New York Times last Saturday—has failed to see the facts laid out before her (letters, Nov.25.) She also thinks I’m stupid and don’t know the meaning of “per capita.” Even though I met her previous challenge to name the source which alluded to the state of Israel as the fourth most powerful military force in the world, she ignores this information and mentions my name five times in her 250 word reply. And even though the primary subject was Israel, she mentions Dominica and Cyprus to throw off readers. 

She also mentions a weapons shipment that Israel intercepted last month that was allegedly bound for Hezbollah militants, which most likely was a ruse by Israeli officials intended to divert attention from the UN Goldstone report detailing Israeli war crimes in Gaza last winter. The most telling part is this, from the original AP story: “Israel has not publicly shown the document, however, nor offered evidence to back its assertion that the weapons were headed for Lebanon’s Hezbollah fighters.” 

I guess she somehow must have missed that small detail. And according to PressTV in a more recent but less widely published report, the photos of documents used to prove the shipment originated from Iran were forged. 

Finally, she suggests that I “take this little debate away from the pages of the Daily Planet, and perhaps meet me for coffee,” as if it were some kind of magical elixir that would allow me to see her perspective more clearly. It was never my intention to engage in this topic bilaterally, but I do perceive the Daily Planet as an ideal forum in which to debunk the Israeli propaganda which she espouses. I also know there are at least a few readers out there who would tend to agree. 

Robert Kanter 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

It is high time that something is done about the achievement gap in Berkeley. If something is broke you must fix it. A charter school in Berkeley will go a long ways to fixing the achievement gap problem in Berkeley. I hope the school board displays some wisdom when it is time to vote for the proposal and they say yes to the Realm Charter school. 

Alan Roselius 

Castro Valley 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The viewers of Caryl Churchill’s Seven Jewish Children: A Play for Gaza quoted by Marc Sapir are entirely right—it is difficult to know if it is possible to “produce a play purportedly about the relationship between Palestine and Israel without a single Palestinian voice uttering one word.”. Something must be missing, one feels. 

Of course, Palestinian voices are not the only ones missing from Seven Jewish Children. There is also a striking dearth of Jewish voices in this short piece. The speakers in the play are puppets of Churchill’s expectations, obediently mouthing lines about swimming pools filled with stolen water, and children who watch American T.V. shows to protect them from the news. Nothing about these cardboard cutouts is authentically informed with Israeli or Jewish experience, which I suppose should not surprise me. Giving voice to such experience was not the point of this piece. 

Despite the play’s minimal length, Churchill skillfully uses her ahistorical and biased understanding of Israeli Jews to silence the voices of the Mizrahim and Sephardim, the poor and the religious, those whose families had lived in Jerusalem or Hebron time out of mind, the voices of the Russians and the Ethiopians, and the voices of the children of Sderot living under siege. Added to the Palestinian numbers, this is an impressive array of voices to be silenced in one ten minute play. I suppose this speaks to the author’s intent, as well as her skill as a playwright. 

Charlotte Honigman-Smith 

El Cerrito 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Lindsay Schachiner’s response, on Nov. 25, to my Nov. 18 Commentary on Berkeley’s new police chief is straight out of Reefer Madness. Plus it was besides the point. She focused on the supposed evils of a healing herb when my main gist was the quality of law enforcement already known about Berkeley’s chief to be, Michael Meehan, that our City Council has brought to its residents.  

Schachiner apparently isn’t disturbed that as Seattle’s chief of police, Meehan ignored accurate research data on lower crime rates—re low priority marijuana arrests—and instead indicated there were higher crime rates. Nor is she outraged that Meehan’s marijuana arrest policy resulted in perpetuating and maintaining institutionalized racism. Does she believe, as perhaps Meehan does, that the means justifies the end as long as it’s one she wants to see happen? 

We will have a safer city when integrity, justice, and fairness are reflected in all of its policies on every level. We wouldn’t have then toxic dumping in Aquatic Park by the Public Works Dept. in a supposedly green city, a mayor who steals opposition newspapers, or racial disparities in a low priority arrest category in a city that prides itself on its desegregation history. We wouldn’t have a police chief described as “a police chief cut from the mold of the Bush era drug policy.” 

One thing known about that era and the policies that ensued from it is that it was fueled by the most ignominious of human motives draped in the red, white, and blue, and “traditional” Christian values. 

Maris Arnold 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I woke up early this past Saturday morning and went to the Marine Recruiting Center in Berkeley at 7 a.m. to give a good send-off to CodePINK’s busload leaving for Creech Airforce Base in Nevada.  

They are travelling to Nevada to protest the unmanned drones which are operated by soldiers sitting at computer consoles. The protest will last five days.  

Protesting the drones started with the Ground the Drones 14-day vigil by Voices for Creative Nonviolence in April, 2009. CODEPINKer Nancy Mancias recently fasted at Creech for four days around Thanksgiving—including the holiday. 

These drones can both spy on people and drop bombs and shoot missiles. We keep hearing of mistakes being made, of civilians being killed by these drones in Pakistan and Afghanistan and Iraq. “They have killed at least 14 Al Qaeda leaders and approximately 700 civilians—a 50:1 ratio of innocent victims to targeted enemies. Drones are the most horrific ‘war toy’ since nuclear weapons.”  

“These unmanned aircraft patrol waters off Somalia, the U.S. borders with Mexico and Canada,” over our National Parks and in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq and who knows where else.  

Please check this info about drones out at codepinkalert.org and www.nodrones.com. 

The caravan went through Las Vegas to give court support to 12 activists who were arrested in September for “Disturbing the War.”  

There were stops at various military bases in California on the way to Creech.  

Thank you CodePINK, from all of us who wanted to, but couldn’t go!  

Jane Welford 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The current national pastime of attempting to describe the appeal, traits, and merits of ex-governor Sarah Palin could be seen as fuelled in perhaps equal parts by the great enthusiasm of her supporters and the angst and foreboding of her critics. 

Perhaps one more query may be added to the many thoughts about her significance in our national life: Has she changed her values since high school in Wasilla?  

During last year’s campaign she said, “...everything I ever needed to know I learned on the basketball team. All about setting goals and working hard and having self-discipline and knowing what strengths were in the team members and then assembling those team members and tasking the team to fulfill missions. That’s what you learn in sports.” 

And as the excellent captain of her high school basketball team, she helped lead them to an unexpected Alaska state championship in her senior year. 

Are those same values of hard work, self-discipline, and loyalty as strongly expressed in her post-campaign life today? 

Was resigning as Governor of Alaska with a year and a half remaining in her term consistent with the values she showed in high school? Or could it be seen as letting go of one responsibility to try to focus on a different opportunity? 

Perhaps one useful analogy would be to imagine that, while in high school, team captain Palin had been offered an opportunity to play for a professional basketball team, with all that possibility’s glamour, fame, and financial rewards. Who could blame a star-struck high school athlete for considering such a choice? Even if it meant abandoning her current teammates and perhaps lessening their chance for the state championship title later. 

Turning pro has always been an option for the talented and for the lucky. Being picked by John McCain as vice presidential nominee in 2008 gave Governor Palin a previously unthought-of opportunity to have a career on the national political stage, to turn pro. The pro world is a bit more hard edged and loyalties are different.  

Could her recent new book as well have been titled “Turning Pro”? 

Brad Belden 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The new mammogram screening recommendations were a wake-up call for anyone concerned about breast cancer. For years we have been promised a better screening method than mammography. While we’re still waiting, the debate rages about the effectiveness of this technology. Like all medical interventions, mammography has benefits and risks. Why is it so hard to be honest about them? 

After years of walkathons and millions raised by the sales of pink-ribboned products, I’m angry that a woman still dies of breast cancer every 13 minutes. We need to join with organizations such as Breast Cancer Action to advocate for screening techniques that provide more benefit than harm, demand more effective, less toxic treatments, and work to decrease the involuntary environmental exposures that put people at risk for breast cancer. Our voices need to be heard. 

Jan Schmuckler 



Letters in Response to New York Times Article On the Campaign Against the Daily Planet

Thursday December 03, 2009 - 09:00:00 AM

Editors, Daily Planet: 

Fight the philistines like hell! 

Ben Bagdikian 



Editors, Daily Planet: 

In the New York Times exposé on the the campaign against the Berkeley Daily Planet (“In a Home to Free Speech, a Paper is Accused of Anti-Semitism” by Jesse McKinley, Nov. 28, 2009), McKinley doesn’t quote even one of the over 100 Berkeley Jews who signed the ad “We Are Jews and We Support the Berkeley Daily Planet...” nor does he mention our ad. 

Any one of us could have stated that the real issues are: 

1. Sinkinson and Gertz are ultra-right wing Zionists whose sole mission is to squelch any criticism of Israel and will fling baseless accusations of anti-Semitism to accomplish their objective. 

2. Sinkinson and Gertz do not speak for the vast majority of Berkeley Jews who welcome an open and honest debate about Israel and U.S. foreign policy. 

3. The whole thing is a tempest in a teapot, a manufactured controversy with no substance whatsoever. 

By turning the story into a “he said/she said” debate between O’Malley and Gertz/Sinkinson, McKinley gave far more weight to the anti-Daily Planet forces than they deserve. 

Very disappointing. But then again, what should we expect from a newspaper that provided propaganda cover for Bush’s WMD claims in the run-up to the Iraq war, and has routinely published highly biased, pro-Israel news about Israel/Palestine for decades? 

Matthew Taylor 



Editors, Daily Planet: 

Your trial to establish freedom of thought reminds me of the old adage (aren’t they always old): If they’re coming after you, you must be doing something right. 

Your fight to assure the right to think, to print, to speak is also protecting my right to think, to print and to speak. Your fight becomes my fight. Should you lose, then we all lose. 

I am well aware of the lonely battles in life, but it is these encounters that give meaning to my life. Don Quixote must have been a member of the fourth estate. 

Ms. O’Malley, all lovers of free thought live vicariously through each other. A sort of mutual admiration society. I should like to leave you with this quote: “If all printers were determined not to print anything until they were sure it would offend nobody, there would be very little printed.” (From Benjamin Franklin’s “Apology for Printers,” 1731.) 

Kenneth Bonacci 

Salem, Mass. 



Editors, Daily Planet: 

Use of the “race card,” the charge of anti-semitism, to stifle criticism of Israel ranks amongst the most vile tools in the hands of AIPAC, et al. If the gift of the Jews truly is history, that is the sense of “man’s” journey through the world as being marked by progress, one must then find it doubly ironic that those who would silence critics of Israel’s illegal settlement policy have no sense of that same policy’s historical error, flying in the face, as it does, of a demographic time bomb that will ultimately doom the State of Israel. I would argue sooner rather than later. The Daily Planet has a new fan in Portland, Oregon. Keep up the good work! 

Stephen Reichard 

Portland, Ore. 



Editors, Daily Planet: 

It strikes me as mildly ironic that supporters of the state of Israel seek a fascist press in their home country, the United States. Imposing external editorial control at a small, underfunded paper, already struggling in an economy increasingly hostile to the printed word, just smacks of the steps taken by Italy, Spain and Germany to crush Jews, gays, the Roma, socialists, etc. My response is Whiskey Tango Foxtrot. Do they comprehend what they’re asking for? 

While I can’t specifically speak to the inbred hatred between Israelis and Palestinians, I can say with some confidence that Israel has indeed created its own second-class citizen, the Palestinian. Is it mere coincidence that President Jimmy Carter calls the Israeli regime an enforcer of apartheid? How is it that supporters of Israel seek press controls that have been historically and universally condemned when engaged in by authoritarian governments? Julius Streicher, editor-in-chief of Der Stuermer, and the architect of the Nazi press war against Jews, was hanged after his judgment at Nuremburg. Does anyone seriously believe his tactics were something to emulate and apply to a small, local paper like the Planet? 

Anthony Cowell 

Hamilton, New Jersey 



Editors, Daily Planet: 

I read the article in the New York Times that reported on charges the Daily Planet is anti-semitic. I am Jewish and I defend your right to publish all opposing views, but here comes the big “but”. Your publisher was quoted as saying a particularly offensive piece—and I am paraphrasing—was the worst kind of hate mongering. So while “dissenting views” are acceptable, when you publish vile slandering, then you should be held responsible—and I don’t think it’s rocket science to know the difference. Yes, you have freedom of speech, but not freedom from accountability. 

Phylis Collier 

Taos, New Mexico 



Editors, Daily Planet: 

The skewed and scurrilous attacks on Becky O’Malley and the Planet are the perfect example of an anti-free speech position.     

As it should, the Planet publishes everyone’s opinions—including those of the two major protagonists accusing the publishers of anti-Semitic bias. 

These Professional Jews who want to erase the reality of the blatant and criminal behavior of the Israeli government vis a vis the Palestinian population are those who need to look in the mirror.   No country’s policies, including Israel and the United States, are above criticism for the egregious violations of their hypocritical policies that fly in the face of their stated values. 

Many Israeli and American Jews have blinded themselves to fairness and equality when it comes to accepting the reality that all ethnic groups simply want to live. Yes, the Palestinians—and the Israelis—throw lethal bombs at each other in their quest to survive. This is called war, whether it is “official” armies or “rogue” militias. None of it is fair or helpful. 

But we need to know about all of it—and from both sides.   

Thank you, Becky O’Malley, and may the Planet thrive! 

Joan Levinson 



Editors, Daily Planet: 

I just read the Nov. 28 New York Times article on the Berkeley Daily Planet. A publisher should not be afraid of sharing words, thoughts and writings about anything. Our country has suffered with the strong political Jewish lobby in Washington and it makes me so frustrated with our country. It is the big I.O.U the citizens of this country will have to pay. It is Israel, oil and the United States.... When will the people of this good nation wake up? 

Loretta Foreman 

San Diego 



Editors, Daily Planet: 

Working in Cambodia and having just finished reading a recent piece in the New York Times regarding the pressure that the paper is being subjected to, may I suggest that those who continue to label any suggestion that Israel may share some fault for the current tragic mess as “anti-Semitic,” learn how to do it better than they are doing now e.g., pressuring advertisers to abandon the paper? The current leadership here merely labels any view that is not consistent with their own as “disinformation.” Journalists are routinely thrown into jail for their bravery. It is a blessing that the Jewish lobby and those who slavishly follow the approved-speak don’t have the power to do what the Khmer currently do. I find it astounding that many of those who have suffered the most from the horrors of genocide are deluded and “unskillful” in their attempts to stifle a free-flow of information, ideas and opinions that are different or contrary from their own.  

Gary Hearty 

Phnom Penh, Cambodia 



Editors, Daily Planet: 

I just wanted to express my support in light of the criticisms against you and your paper for printing opinions critical of Israel. It has always been upsetting to me that any criticism of Israel translates by some into an expression of anti-Semitism. Because we are the primary source of support, financially and militarily, to Israel, Americans have a right and a duty to express their opinions when they feel that Israeli policy and actions are not in the best interests of the United States. We need that dialogue and any attempt to stifle it is a form of censorship. I wish you the best and sincerely hope that the heavy-handed attempts to discourage advertisers and contributors to the Planet fail. 

Jack Pepitone 

West Hempstead, New York 



Editors, Daily Planet: 

I’m not one to find an anti-Semite in every pair of Zappos, but look, printing what is in essence, “Why we hate Jews,” is coming from someone wearing steel-toed Dr. Martins.  

Substitute any ethnic group, religious, or sexual persuasion for the word ‘Jew’ in this screed and ask yourself—if you’re honest enough—would you still print it? 

Barry Udoff 



Editors, Daily Planet: 

I read with interest a piece in the New York Times about the fact that your editor is anti-Israeli pro-Palestinian and in some people’s view, anti-Semitic. I am certain this is untrue, what you being published in Berkeley. However some advice for your Letters Editor, should she want to end the unpleasantness in the Middle East she should undertake the following simple steps.  

First get the Hamas and PLO people to recognize the State of Israel as a Jewish State.  

Two, abandon the notion of right of return because it will never happen, they know it we know it and god knows the Israelis know it. Taking over Israel and all that has been accomplished by this Jewish State, by insisting it is yours in the first place is preposterous. 

Finally end the feeling the Hamas and Palestine people have of being victims. They can start their own Universities, invent their own semi conductors, build anything they like, god knows they have friends with money to invest, and build a strong competitive Palestinian State, rather then sitting around and crying about how they have been robbed. The statute of limitations is up on that issue.  

Now I think it is time for your Letters Editor to agree she would not publish letters advocating Slavery be returned to the United States, she should also be competent enough to check if the facts being presented to her are correct. If she cannot find a fundage for same, I am sure there are many independently minded groups that could research for her.  

I am writing from the largest Island in the Pacific Ocean, actually just north of you and have enjoyed myself many times in your area, sadly though, since the election of George Bush I have not been in the United States, it is about the cavity search at the border, now there is a subject for discussion I would enjoy, why people have stopped visiting the USA. 

Lary Waldman 

Qualicum Beach, British Columbia,  



Editors, Daily Planet: 

I support you and your rights to freedom of the press and freedom of speech. I cannot believe that people are attacking you because of your views on Israel. I wrote a strongly worded letter to Mr. John Gertz letting him know that the people of this country will not sit by while people like him want to censor or limit the press. We need more openness in the press not less. In today’s corporate controlled environment, and the weight of advertisers limiting the selection of topics in newspapers, the time has come to fight back against those who want to control thought, dialogue and investigation of issues. Mr. Gertz needs a refresher course on the Constitution, and how many people had to fight and die in order to maintain freedom of the press. Maybe he should read about how the U.S.S.R. under Stalin controlled speech and the press. Maybe we should ‘sanitize’ all the news, just like what is on at night. Maybe the Daily Planet is holding the line, and is the last of its kind. Please do not succumb to outside pressures, continue to print any story you want. The people of the country are counting on you!  

P. Weisback 

New Jersey  



Editors, Daily Planet: 

I am a 20-year resident of Berkeley. I served on two Berkeley city commissions: the Women’s Commission and the Peace and Justice Commission. I am not Jewish. I have family members who are Jewish.   

I believe that Israel’s destruction of Palestinian homes, neighborhoods, civilians does not promote security for Israel. Does this make me anti-Semitic?   

I believe in the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment rights. Does this make me anti-Semitic?   

I believe that suppression of dialogue and speech protected by the First Amendment is tantamount to McCarthyism. Does this make me anti-Semitic?   

I carry with me from law school days, the noble words of Supreme Court Justice Brandeis (a Jew and dedicated Zionist):  “…If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the process of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence.” (Whitney v. California, 1927.)   

Does this make me anti-Semitic?   

I respect Mr. Gertz’ right to say it, but deplore the arrogance with which it is said in the context of the interview: his dismissal of Ms. O’Malley as “…a second-rate intellect.” Is his intent to infer that he, as a Jew, is intellectually superior, more righteous in his cause, or more burdened than any other ethnic/religious group?  

Does this make me anti-Semitic?   

I believe that the United States should lessen its coerced dependence on Israel as its ally in the Middle East. Does this make me anti-Semitic?   

I believe that Mr. Gertz, et al are unduly coercing advertisers and subscribers to boycott and destroy the only community newspaper in Berkeley. Does this make me anti-Semitic?   

I believe that Mr. Gertz’ arrogance is pitting Jews against Gentiles; neighbors against neighbors. Does this make me anti-Semitic?   

Sheila Holderness   



Editors, Daily Planet: 

All this anti-Semitic ranting directed toward you is thinly veiled censorship. The fact that any criticism of Israel anywhere is quickly denounced as anti-semitic and racist is very telling about open debate in America. The ugly truth being suppressed is that America’s favored relationship with Israel has not only cost us vast amounts of blood and treasure it has ruined our reputation in the world community. Kudos to you and those who are willing to get at the truth. 

Mark Lombardi 



Editors, Daily Planet: 

Thank you so much for not caving in to the forces of censorship! I just read the New York Times article about the coordinated campaign to undermine the editorial freedom of your newspaper. It is for this reason that I feel compelled to write you a letter of encouragement. 

Thank you for not allowing anyone to enforce a taboo that says that we are free to talk about anything as long as it is not critical of Israel. The campaign against you by these pro-Israel groups amounts to defamation of character. I strongly suggest that you take these people to court. It is our constitutional right to free speech that is at stake here. Don’t give in to the forces of oppression!  

They are very well organized and ruthless in their approach. Their goal is single: Enforcing the rule that Israel is simply above criticism. Please take note of the tactics they use to try to stiffle any and all criticism of Israel and its illegal occupation of Palestine (in violation of UN resolution 242). 

To see who you are up against in the battle to preserve our right to free speech see these pro-Israel censorship organizations below. www.camera.org, www.honestreporting.com, backspin.typepad.com 

Let me remind you that you perform a valuable service for the community by voicing opinions that increasingly have no outlet. Whatever you do, do not give into this organized campaign of censorship!  

Thank you again for fighting the good fight! Just remember, the only thing the pro-Israel lobby fears is the truth. 

RT Barbour 



Editors, Daily Planet: 

I just read the article in the New York Times about some local pro-Israeli types trying to stifle your newspaper by scaring away advertisers. I’m glad you’re not buckling. In fact, I’m so heartened by your stance I just contributed $20. I wish I had a business in the East Bay so I could put in an ad. I’m Jewish myself, and I guess your nemesis might call me a “self-hating Jew” because I don’t fall for the line that criticizing Israel is by its nature anti-Semitic. I believe, along with probably a majority of American Jews, that when the government of Israel commits reprehensible acts, it is just as worthy of being called to justice as the government of the United States. I also believe that the way your opponents are conducting their campaign is underhanded and un-American. By all means, let them write some op-eds in your paper, but for them to try to drive you out of business because they don’t agree that you can publish other controversial views than theirs is just—oh, what’s the word—sleazy. 

Peter Henry 

Edmonds, Wash. 



Editors, Daily Planet: 

I was sickened by the accusation of anti-Semitism slung at the Daily Planet. Any time a voice speaks out to question the Israeli juggernaut it is crushed. It takes guts to say what is right and the fact that Palestinians are being strangled and mutilated in Gaza. What is the word for one who is a serial anti-Semitism accuser? There should be one. Perhaps “Gertz” would be appropriate. 

Bill Colohan 



Editors, Daily Planet: 

I would like to put a question to those campaigning against the Berkeley Daily Planet, most specifically Mr. John Gertz, who protests the paper publishes letters and articles that are, according to Gertz, “anti-Semitic.” The Miriam Webster Dictionary defines anti-Semitism as “hostility towards or discrimination against Jews as a religious, ethnic, or racial group.” And to most on the planet, anti-Semitism is also identified as a generally hateful movement and/or mind set. Does Mr. Gertz limit his advocacy against hostility and hate only toward that directed against those of Jewish belief and descent? Why does Mr. Gertz fail to extend this same courtesy and advocacy against all hateful speech, including his own? I refer to his website references to the owner/editor of the Berkeley Daily Planet as “brutish,” “a second-rate intellect” and “ungifted,” merely for publishing letters he does not agree with. Can Mr. Gertz truly justify his own campaign against the hateful speech he claims is being published the Daily Planet—who is, we should be reminded again, merely publishing letters written by independent readers of the paper. Is Gertz of the opinion that only his speech and that he agrees with is protected by the First Amendment? This seems a great hypocrisy and a sign that Mr. Gertz should examine his own use of the gift of free speech.  

Jessica Youngsmith 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Thank you for your fight to keep and maintain the protections guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States of America. Don’t let them rob us of our right to free speech and freedom of expression. Maintain your stance for American values not Israeli ‘values’. Print the accounts of the Israeli war crimes in Gaza as detailed by their own soldiers who were sickened by the abuse of civilians in their slaughter of Palestnian People. There are millions of us out here who support you. 

Ronald J Zera 

Greensburg, Penn. 



Editors, Daily Planet: 

I was pleased to see that the New York Times wrote a real article about the delusional campaign against the Berkeley Daily Planet, despite its significant omissions. 

It’s always irked me that your paper doesn’t get enough coverage or acknowledgement from other papers and various other medias. They figure your paper is too iconoclastic so they’d rather not reflect on your untrendy integrity and first-amendment ideals.   

It makes them look so compromised in comparision. They’d rather pretend you didn’t exist. 

Richard Fabry 

Point Richmond 




EDITOR'S NOTE: An inappropriate letter originally published at the end of this group because of an editorial error has been deleted. 

A Response in Favor of BRT

By Roy Nakadegawa
Thursday December 03, 2009 - 09:01:00 AM

It is very disheartening to read what a UC Berkeley professor who teaches a class titled “Introduction to Environmental Science” wrote in a Nov. 19 commentary, “Bus Rapid Transit Feel Good Environmentalism,” which is fraught with lay comments and is not a knowledgeable article. 

If he had corroborated with his UC colleagues on transportation and land planning his comments would be very different. 

I’m a professional engineer, experienced in public works, transit and traffic. I served as a publicly elected director for 32 years (12 years with BART and 20 years with AC Transit) and have served on two Transportation Research Board committees (a branch of the Academy of Sciences) for about 20 years. I was also appointed to serve on an oversight committee that oversaw the production of four Transit Cooperative Research Program reports. I have extensively examined various modes of transit, traveling to Europe six times, Japan five, and well over a dozen times to Canada and many South American countries including Curitiba; most visits were self-funded. I was also endorsed by several prominent academics when I ran for BART office. 

The professor inferred that South American Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) systems have grade-separated intersections; I have visited many countries that have BRTs and have not seen any with grade-separated intersections. Impoverished South American countries built BRTs because they improve transit at a low cost; to build BRTs with grade-separated intersections would make them unaffordable. Canada and Australia have grade-separated BRTs but even those are not totally grade separated over its length. 

The professor acknowledges the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by getting “people out of their single-person cars and into mass transit.” But how can this be accomplished? He offers no alternative but criticizes Bus Rapid Transit and says we already have BART and Express buses. 

Does he know how many people currently use BART or bus to get to San Leandro? Very, very few would make the 17-mile bus trip to San Leandro by public transit. And how many would use BART to go to places along Telegraph or International Boulevard? To use BART a Berkeley resident would have to traverse between two-thirds to one-and-a-half miles to reach Ashby BART. How would one make this trip? Drive? Parking at Ashby is very limited and there would be a charge. Walk? It would take time, but it does provide exercise. Take the local bus? Walk to the local bus stop, wait for an infrequent local bus, pay bus fare, then wait again for the respective train to get to your desired station; on exit, you pay your fare then walk to your final destination.  

Along Telegraph there are the greatest number of destinations, i.e., medical, governmental, businesses, schools, parks and residences within in the East Bay, that are within a half mile that the BRT could serve. And BART conveniently serves a fraction of these destinations. Most people who use buses, only travel one-and-a-half to 4 miles. Therefore using BART to get local destinations along Telegraph, such as medical facilities and shopping centers, would be very difficult and time consuming and cost more. 

And how well does the existing Express bus, 1R, operate? Often two 1R buses arrive in Berkeley in tandem or a few minutes apart, when they are supposed to operate at 12-minute intervals; they provide very unreliable service. Is the professor aware of the reasons for 1R’s erratic operation, even though 1R’s operation has signal priority? Signal priority only provides a few extra seconds in holding the green or in some cases advancing the green for the bus to clear the intersection. Under the present mixed-flow, a bus will often be queued in traffic, and even though the bus may activate the green on approaching the intersection, it will not be able pass the intersection in the seconds allotted because of the number of vehicles. With the exclusive lane, buses will be able to take full advantage of the few seconds the signal provides. A recent study shows the BRT will get riders from downtown Berkeley to downtown Oakland in about 20 minutes whereas with the 1R it will only cover 2/3 of this trip and will be unreliable. 

He mentions how auto-oriented we are compared to South American countries, but does that mean we should still cater to the auto? We need to face the fact that we will have congestion whether we build the busway or not. In the 60 years I have been around Berkeley, its population has decreased 15,000, but traffic has tripled and will continue to increase. Berkeley currently plans for more dense downtown development and with UC’s new developments it will increase trips, so there is a need for improved transit and limiting parking. Following Berkeley Transit First Policy they should institute the BRT that will attract greater usage. 

Lastly, we will have more traffic, parking problems and traffic congestion on Telegraph even if we do not build the BRT; BRT will be able to handle over three times the capacity of the adjoining lane while providing a reliable, convenient and fast service that will offset congestion. Furthermore, because of its reliable, convenient and faster service BRT will provide comparable service to driving and attract several thousand riders who drove; its projected increased ridership will be around 40,000 trips per day. With this high ridership, it will reduce the GHG emission measurably. Due to increased ridership and speed BRT will reduce AC Transit operating costs, thereby requiring less public subsidies than the current1R and 1 local bus. It also will lessen the demand for parking, and aid in the development of a more livable community.

BRT and the Noisy Minority

By Charles Siegel
Thursday December 03, 2009 - 09:02:00 AM

We know that Berkeley’s citizens support Bus Rapid Transit. Opponents of BRT made the mistake of putting measure KK on the ballot. When they circulated the initiative to get signatures, they said people should sign to stop BRT. When they ran their campaign, they said people should vote Yes on KK to stop BRT. 

Berkeley voters responded by voting 77 percent No on KK, an overwhelming endorsement of BRT. A margin of more than two to one is considered a landslide victory. No on KK won by far more than that—by over three to one. 

Berkeley voters clearly believe we should move toward a more balanced transportation system with better public transit, in order to reduce our energy use and control global warming. 

Despite their overwhelming defeat at the polls, the same people who supported measure KK are now saying that AC Transit should not even study BRT for Berkeley in the project’s Final EIR, and instead should only study their pet plan for Rapid Bus Plus, which has some features of BRT but no dedicated bus lanes. 

At the recent Transportation Commission hearing on the issue, commissioners and staff made it clear that the FEIR would study a no-build option and a Rapid Bus Plus option, and that the commission was also working to formulate a BRT option to be included in the study. Yet Rapid Bus Plus supporters said that the FEIR should study no build and Rapid Bus Plus but should not develop a BRT option to study—that we should reject BRT without even completing the study of it. 

Why would they want this? They have repeatedly claimed that Rapid Bus Plus would provide 90 percent of the benefits of BRT at a small fraction of the cost. If they really believed that, they would want the FEIR to compare Rapid Bus Plus with BRT to prove their point. 

Currently, there is absolutely no data about Rapid Bus Plus. If you search for it on Google, you will just find things written by the same small group of people in Berkeley, and no studies by professionally competent transportation planners. 

I can think of only one reason why they do not want the FEIR even to include BRT: They are afraid that a head-to-head comparison would show that BRT provides far more benefits than Rapid Bus Plus. 

Their effrontery is astounding: After Berkeley voters overwhelming repudiated their initiative and supported BRT, they have the nerve to say that Berkeley should reject BRT without even completing the study of it! 

It is a shame that this small group of chronic naysayers—the same people who worked against the Brower Center and who routinely work against any change proposed in Berkeley—are making so much noise that they are drowning out the people who have legitimate concerns about BRT. Telegraph Avenue. merchants and street vendors are right to be concerned about the impact on parking and loading for customers of their businesses. Nearby residents are right to be concerned about the impact of spillover traffic on their streets. 

The FEIR needs to study these issues and their mitigations before Berkeley can make an informed decision about whether to adopt BRT. 

But the chronic naysayers are spreading so much fear and misinformation that they are drowning out these legitimate concerns. Let us look at just a few of the many pieces of misinformation that they have spread: 

They claim that BRT will slow emergency vehicle response. In fact, the bus lanes will be available to emergency vehicles, speeding response. 

They claim that BRT is costly, but they do not mention that the overwhelming bulk of the cost goes to paving. Here is a news flash for them: streets need to be repaved periodically, whether or not we have BRT. The difference is that AC Transit will pay for paving these lanes if we have BRT, and the city will pay for paving if we do not. 

They even claim that BRT will have hulking platforms that will block views across the street. In fact, the platforms will be short stretches of sidewalk in the median of the street, and they will be 12 inches high. They will block your view only if you are less than one foot tall. 

Berkeley should ignore all this misinformation and fear mongering, and should move forward and develop a BRT alternative to be studied in the FEIR. 

We live in a democracy where the majority rules, not in a squeaky-wheel-ocracy where the people who make the most noise rule. Measure KK proved that, despite all the disruption they cause, the chronic naysayers opposing BRT are just a small, noisy minority. 


Charles Siegel is a Berkeley resident and environmental activist.

BRT Letters

Thursday December 03, 2009 - 09:02:00 AM



Editors, Daily Planet: 

It must be fun to live in Neverland, where just wishing something is true will make it so. 

Steve Geller, in his latest letter to the Planet, asserts that “BRT will definitely reduce greenhouse gas emissions.” While this may be literally true, Mr. Geller for some reason ignores the fact that the projected “reduction” is vanishingly small. BRT is projected to reduce a mix of six air pollutants by 0.03 percent. That’s not 3 percent; it’s three-hundredths of one percent. 

The reason the projected reduction in pollutants is so minuscule is because BRT is projected to attract so few additional transit riders. The BRT draft EIR—and AC Transit’s subsequent studies for the federal Small Starts application—project approximately 9,000 new transit boardings per day if BRT is built. 9,000 sounds like a large number until you know that even without BRT, transit boardings in 2015 are projected to be 585,000. In other words, even the most successful of the BRT alternatives that were studied would increase East Bay transit ridership by only 1.5 percent. 

Mr. Geller also states that “No riders will be poached from BART.” Once again, I don’t know where Mr. Geller is getting his information. In the studies that were done for the draft EIR, the most successful BRT alternative is projected to reduce BART ridership by 6,000 boardings per day—a reduction of about 1.5 percent. 

BRT proponents like to pretend that BRT opponents are anti-bus or anti-public transit. Nothing could be further from the truth. Everyone I know who opposes the current BRT proposal is an environmentalist, a transit user, or both. We also, however, have our feet firmly planted in reality, not in Neverland. I don’t oppose spending $250,000,000 on public transit. I just want some meaningful results for this huge investment. Both the BRT draft EIR and AC Transit’s federal Small Starts application document a project which is long on good intentions and very short on actual results. Can Mr. Geller, or anyone else, point me toward a study of this particular BRT project which paints a different picture? 

Jim Bullock 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

At the Transportation Commission meeting of Nov. 19 on Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), Commissioner Seth Goddard submitted an October 2009 article from Metro Magazine, “Cleveland’s BRT hits one-year anniversary,” with glowing claims of improved service on the route. Cleveland’s BRT, very similar to the local BRT proposal, opened Oct. 24, 2008 as the “HealthLine,” replacing the No. 6 bus on Euclid Avenue. 

Apparently quoting the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA) deputy general manager, the article claims that ridership on the HealthLine has vastly increased compared to the same months in 2008: “In March [2009] for example, HealthLine ridership topped 335,000—a 75 percent increase over the 228,000 riders on the No. 6 bus the previous year.” 

Having studied Cleveland’s Euclid corridor bus service, I have some statistics about the No. 6 bus. On July 18, 2008, Jerry Masek, Media Relations Manager for the RTA wrote: “The HealthLine will replace the No. 6 route, which serves more than 11,000 riders a day.” 

So the No. 6 bus had more than 11,000 riders per day in 2008. March has 31 days. Unless March was an anomaly in that particular year, the No. 6 bus would have had approximately 341,000 riders in that month. Where did the claim of 228,000 riders come from? My guess is that, like many claims from transit agency spokespersons, it came out of thin air. 

Even if the figures of 335,000 riders for the HealthLine versus 228,000 for the No. 6 bus one year earlier were true, that would be far from a 75 percent increase—it would be less than a 50 percent increase. This would appear to be a gratuitous exaggeration on top of a deliberate untruth. 

After years of studying the local BRT proposal, and months of studying Cleveland’s HealthLine BRT, I have come to the conclusion that transit spokespersons are employed as paid prevaricators. 

AC Transit really is planning to take over two lanes of traffic on Telegraph Avenue, and most of the parking, while eliminating the local bus service. If this doesn’t sound like a good idea, attend the Planning Commission meeting on Dec. 9 at 7 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center—and voice your opinion. 

Gale Garcia 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

During the meetings called for by city staff to promote the BRT, Berkeley city staff showed a plan map of the BRT. The plan showed three lanes of traffic with one lane as the dedicated bus lane. At the start of the meetings, city staff stated that this plan would not eliminate vending spaces or loading zones on Telegraph between Dwight and Bancroft. The city staff bothered to draw a fraudulent map showing the three lanes of traffic not eliminating vending spaces, loading zones and the trees. This map is a fraud. There cannot be three lanes of traffic on Telegraph which must by interstate commerce law take up 14 feet each for a total of 42 feet of space and keep street vending space, loading zones, and the trees that line the avenue. There is only 28 feet of space in the two lanes that occupy Telegraph now. Either city staff is lying or they are incompetent to draw an accurate map of their plan. These people should be fired immediately and people hired that can draw an accurate map or not out and out lie. 

Russell Andavall  

The Death of A Public Law School

By Benjamin Eisenberg
Thursday December 03, 2009 - 09:03:00 AM

The University of California Berkeley Law School is poised to become the most expensive publicly owned law school in the world. Over the next two years, fees will increase by 32 percent. That means that California students will soon pay almost $52,000 a year in tuition, only a few thousand less than equivalent private law schools. Out-of-state students will pay the same as if they had gone to Harvard or Yale.  

With these tuition changes, there will be no more Berkeley public law school. The California public law school dies today.  

In this new world, Berkeley will be much like Stanford or Duke, except that the California government will act much like a well-respected alumnus, one that can put its name on a very large plaque in the donor lobby. Much like Stanford, Berkeley will offer generous financial aid for low-income students, provide a loan repayment program for public-interest lawyers, and finance various public policy institutes that will serve the public good. Like Yale, Berkeley will send about 15 percent of its students into public service.  

If a private law school can do all these things, in what sense, then, is Berkeley a public school?  

The doors of Berkeley are not open to the public, as it is one of the most exclusive in the nation. Neither are its finances, since it provides less financial aid for low-income students than Stanford or Harvard. Aside from being selected by the governor, the Board of Regents functions much as any other private nonprofit management board, since it is given nearly complete leeway by the state government. Much like any other private nonprofit, it must fundraise from wealthy donors, build its prestige to encourage alumni giving and closely watch its rankings on U.S. News and World Report.  

The law school has become private, and I fear that in doing so it will lose its soul. The power of public education is that it is available to the most capable and motivated, regardless of ability to pay. Public education is a dream that truth will be glimpsed through virtue, not money. We need to think long and hard about whether we believe in public law schools anymore—and if we do, we need to fight to keep them alive. 

Indeed, if we do not make fundamental political change now, the current rate of tuition increases will lead to private levels of payment even at the undergraduate level. I regret the fact that in twenty years it may be my duty to write a similar obituary for the massive death of an old form of public education: the University of California itself.  


Sources: “Just the Facts,” prepared by the Berkeley Law administration; “Impact of Fee Increases,” prepared by the Berkeley Law student government, and Equal Justice Works Guide, a nonprofit guide to law school commitment to public service. 


Benjamin Eisenberg is a 2L at Berkeley Law School.

Oakland Rezoning Process Off the Rails

By Robert Brokl
Thursday December 03, 2009 - 09:04:00 AM

Oakland’s flawed zoning update process lurches ahead, but it’s now clear the Planning Commission and City Council will have the final say. Citizen participation has been misused or unwelcome. 

That the unfolding process has been so problematic and opaque says a lot about the lingering damage inflicted—some deliberate, some perhaps inadvertent—by two celebrity mayors in a row upon the planning process in Oakland. The disregard by planning staff so far of community input and buy-in is so blatant that one sometimes forgets small “d” democracy, while not Camelot, actually happened in Oakland.    

The zoning process began with the creation of technical advisory groups (TAGs) for commercial and residential areas. It’s something of a mystery how participants were initially selected, but after several meetings, attendance is way down. Since well-known developers and land-use attorneys are no longer attending the public meetings, a growing suspicion has these—and other—prominent players sitting down at the table with those drafting the new zoning, away from the rabble.  

Another suspicion: the revisions are being revealed in stages so as to not raise alarm. New classifications for commercial and residential categories have been divulged, but the existing permitted uses haven’t changed much. Simplification and updating are the justification provided for the changes; but, combined with the continuance of overlays, conditional use permits, variances, permitted nonconforming uses and so on, the new classifications only make zoning more confusing and open-ended—yet one more hurdle for unpaid community organizers and citizens to master.  

The confusion does, however, have its uses: it’s difficult and unlikely for even the City Council to get a handle on it. It took years and an overheated development climate for citizens to learn the hard way what Oakland’s general plan update allowed for density on transit corridors. 

Far more contentious pending decisions relate to height limits, solar access, open space requirements—do rooftops and balconies really qualify? Existing uses—residential and/or low- rise commercial buildings on transit corridors—could become “grandfathered in” and vestigial if ground floor commercial or three-story minimums for new construction are mandated. Three-story residences may be allowed in R-40 low-density neighborhoods. 

This isn’t scary upzoning, “just” upscaling. 

The recent emergence of transfers of development rights (TDRs) is baffling. This concept has been lifted from San Francisco’s downtown use, where “scarcity” makes TDRs a useful tool for developers paying owners of low-rise or historic buildings money to allow them to build higher. But, in Oakland, with ample development opportunities and compliant planners, “harvesting” unused heights for taller buildings elsewhere, in someone else’s backyard, seems fraught with controversy—neighbors pitted against preservationists, too-tall buildings shoehorned in, etc. How did this concept, seemingly vague even to Oakland planners, get introduced at the 11th hour anyway? The concept went over like a lead balloon at a recent meeting of the Oakland Landmarks Preservation Advisory Board. 

In addition to the sporadic TAG meetings, six public meetings have been held. The Saturday, Nov. 7, meeting at Peralta Elementary School was an eye-opener to the crowd of about 70—along with the small army of planners—who attended. Colorful zoning maps decked the room, Deputy Planning Director Eric Angstadt and others made opening remarks; participants were told to study the maps and submit written comments. Angstadt, who earlier said the zoning would be finished next year, indicated some future meeting would allow public questions and comments. This did not go over so well with the crowd, used to Councilmember Brunner’s Q and A format at her community meetings, but Angstadt was unmoved by the complaints. Later, after many participants, including this writer, had left, some questions were allowed to be asked of the planners. 

Despite complaints to council staff and their interventions, planning staff stubbornly adhered to the same format, with similar reactions, at another meeting in the Fruitvale later the next week, on Nov. 12. 

These meetings were akin to an earlier frustrating meeting in West Oakland, where all the groups met in the same room, and the din, a format of rotation from group to group, and lack of time made any meaningful participation impossible. 

But Angstadt’s, and others’, sullen authoritarianism are symptomatic. Jerry Brown fired a pro-development but nuanced planning director, Leslie Gould, and hand-picked a planning commission that marched in lockstep, approving every project that came their way. Turning Oakland into Perugia meant not having much use for what was already here.  

In the not so distant past, many commissioners were appointed by Mayor Harris and even Mayor Wilson, who came out of the community. Beginning with Brown, only mid-level planners and city attorneys attend planning commission meetings, but rarely participate in the discussions. Community input has been marginalized, seen almost as an annoyance, and appeal fees approaching $1,200 are purposely beyond the reach of most groups. The new normal. 

Dellums is yet another mayor with a national reputation and little experience with the grass roots. He started out boldly with citizen task forces but, with the selection of administrators like Angstadt and planning commissioners, forgot about inclusion and consensus-building. The rezoning process is par for the course. And planning staff certainly remembers the contentious Temescal rezoning process initiated by Brunner. To her credit, she apparently wanted to hear from the community. Planning staff, bless their hearts, have apparently decided they know what’s best for us.   

The planning commissioners and city councilmembers must already be dreading the zoning battles that will land on their doorstep, once this flawed process thuds to the inevitable disappointing and unresolved conclusion.  


Robert Brokl is a long-time North Oakland resident, artist, and community activist.


Dispatches from the Edge: A Coup at Foggy Bottom

By Conn Hallinan
Thursday December 03, 2009 - 08:54:00 AM

Watching the Obama administration’s about-face in the Middle East and Latin America raises an uncomfortable question: have neo-conservative Democrats—a section closely associated with the Clinton wing of the party—undermined U.S. foreign policy? Whatever the source of the shifts, their effect has been to heighten tensions in both areas of the world and marginalize the United States just as it was beginning to break out of the isolation of the Bush years. 

When U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton abandoned the White House’s demand to halt the growth of Israeli settlements on the West Bank and East Jerusalem, it not only drew outrage from U.S. allies like Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, it brought into question the entire peace process. For the first time in decades, Palestinians are threatening to unilaterally declare a state, and some are openly raising the possibility of abandoning a two-state solution in favor of a single bi-national entity.  

A bi-national solution would “spell the end of Israel as a democratic state,” editorialized the Financial Times. “It would come to resemble in many ways the struggle against apartheid in South Africa. If [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu believes that he has achieved a victory by refusing to halt the settlements, he is wrong. It is more like a project of national suicide.” 

The Economist put the blame squarely on Obama: “From the Palestinian and Arab points of view, his administration…has meekly capitulated to Israel.” 

The recent announcement that Israel would build 900 units in East Jerusalem suggests that the Netanyahu government feels it can now act without fear of a break with Washington. While Tel Aviv announced a 10-week “freeze” last week, the “freeze” will not cover 3,000 units already under construction, more than 20 “public” buildings, or any of the new construction in East Jerusalem.  

If outrage is the reaction to the administration’s U-turn in the Middle East, shock is the common response in Latin America to the State Department’s about-face on the Honduran coup.  

When President Manuel Zelaya was ousted by the military June 28, the White House joined the Organization of American States (OAS) and the United Nations in demanding his reinstatement. “We believe the coup was not legal and that President Zelaya remains the democratically elected president there,” said Obama. 

Now, according to State Department spokesman Ian Kelly, the United States intends to break that pledge and recognize the winner of the Nov. 29 elections, which were organized by the coup government. According to Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, demonstrations opposed to the election have been savagely repressed.  

So far, only Panama, Costa Rica, Colombia, Peru and Guatemala have supported the U.S. position.  

Almost overnight, the good will Obama created by his Cairo address to the Muslim world, and his administration’s quick denunciation of the Honduran coup has vanished.  

What happened?  

On Honduras, the Republicans are taking credit for the administration’s change of heart. Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) claims it was his hold over two State Department nominees that caused the White House to drop its support of Zelaya. DeMint said he was “very thankful” that Obama and Clinton “have finally taken the side of the Honduran people.”  

According to COIMER & OP poll, only 22.2 percent of Hondurans support the coup government led by Roberto Micheletto.  

But it seems unlikely that the White House would cave over two appointments. In fact, the State Department had begun backing away from Obama’s statement long before DeMint came into the picture. Zelaya’s name was suddenly dropped in favor of a formula that called for a “return to constitutional order.” 

A muscular foreign policy—and strong support for Israel—are policies that have long been touchstones for the right wing of the Democratic Party. It was the Clinton administration that first intervened in the Colombian civil war, bombed the Sudan, and launched the war against Serbia. Secretary Clinton, along with other hawks, is pushing for a major expansion of the war in Afghanistan. 

It seems more likely that the State Department’s support for the Nov. 29 election was a not-so-subtle shot across the bow aimed at countries that the United States considers unfriendly. 

The recent release of a U.S. Air Force document on the current U.S.-Colombian military agreement suggests that the United States is indeed preparing to exert greater military power in Latin America. According to Venezuelan lawyer Eva Golinger, the document, submitted to the U.S. Congress last May as part of the 2010 budget considerations, contradicts claims by the United States and the Colombian government of Alvaro Uribe that the deployment of U.S. forces in Colombia is solely aimed at local narcotics traffic and terrorism, and will not affect Colombia’s neighbors.  

The agreement says U.S. deployment in seven bases scattered around Colombia will allow Washington to engage in “full spectrum military operations in a critical sub-region of our hemisphere where security and stability is under constant threat from narcotics funded terrorists insurgencies…and anti-U.S. governments…” And further, that the Palanquero Base in particular “…will also increase our capability to conduct Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR), improve global reach, support logistics requirements, improve partnerships, improve theater security cooperation and expand expeditionary warfare capability.” * 

In a statement that had a strong whiff of the Monroe Doctrine about it, U.S. Southern Command head General Douglas Fraser warned that Iran’s “growing influence” in the region poses a “potential risk.” Speaking in Miami last June, the General charged that Iran is building connections to “extremist organizations” on the continent, and has forged close ties with Venezuela and Cuba. 

The United States recently reactivated the Fifth Fleet, giving it the ability to project considerable naval power throughout Latin America. 

The scope of the Colombia base agreement should make a number of countries nervous, especially those that the State Department considers “anti-U.S.”: Venezuela, Cuba, Ecuador, Paraguay, Nicaragua, and Bolivia. The term “unfriendly” could also include Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, and even Brazil, which has helped lead a continent-wide independence movement against U.S. domination of the region. 

The Bolivian government of Evo Morales charges that U.S. organizations like the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) support a separatist movement in the oil and gas rich eastern provinces of the country. This past April, Bolivian special forces stormed a hotel in Santa Cruz—the center of the anti-Morales movement—and killed several heavily armed mercenaries who apparently planned to sow chaos in the province.  

Weapons and explosives used to attack Morales supporters were traced to wealthy business owners who are active in the rightwing separatist Santa Cruz Civic Committee. The Committee has received support from USAID and NED. 

Venezuela says that the Colombian bases threaten the government of Hugo Chavez, against whom the U.S. supported a short-lived coup in 2002. Chavez and Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa both charge that the United States aided a recent invasion of Ecuador by Colombian troops seeking out members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Ecuador’s Defense Minister, Javier Ponce, has requested a meeting with President Obama over the U.S.-Colombia agreement. 

The atmosphere in Paraguay is tense following the removal of the country’s top military leaders by leftist President Fernando Lugo. There have been several coup attempts since the end of the 35-year military dictatorship in 1989, and Chavez recently charged that a plan to overthrow Lugo was recently hatched in Bolivia by “ultra-rightwing elements.” 

In neighboring Uruguay left-wing former guerrilla Jose “Pepe” Mujica won the election for president, and some of the right-wing in that country vows he will never be allowed to take power. 

An outbreak of coups in all these countries seems unlikely, but is certainly not out of the question, particularly if right-wingers—who dominated the continent throughout the 1980s and ’90s—think overthrowing an “unfriendly” government will be met with a wink and a nod from Washington.  

U.S. support for the Honduran elections effectively torpedoed a diplomatic solution to the crisis. When Micheletti formed a “unity” government excluding Zelaya, the ousted president, holed up in the Brazilian embassy, announced that the U.S.-brokered agreement was “dead.” The Honduran congress said it would not consider reinstating Zelaya until after the election. 

United States isolation on this issue is palpable.  

Meeting in Jamaica, the foreign ministers of the Rio Group—every country in Latin America and most the Caribbean—called for reinstating Zelaya. OAS President Jose Miguel Insulza demanded that the Honduran government be led by its “legitimate” president. Both the UN and the European Union say they will not recognize the Nov. 29 elections. 

More than 240 leading U.S. academics and Latin American experts sent a letter to Obama calling on the State Department to denounce human rights violations by the Micheletti government and re-instate Zelaya. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka demanded that the Obama administration oppose the Nov. 29 election and return Zelaya to the presidency. 

Mark Weisbrot, director of the Centre for Economic and Policy Research, says unless the Obama administration reverses course, it is going to be “just as isolated as Bush vis-à-vis the hemisphere.” 

Whatever the explanation for the shift in foreign policy, there is little argument about the results: anger, charges of betrayal, and a diminishment of hope, from the Middle East to Latin America. 


*Readers can access the report at www.centrodealerta.org/documentos_desclasificados/original_in_english_air_for.pdf. 

Undercurrents: Why I Didn’t Write About Dellums’ Tax Troubles

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Thursday December 03, 2009 - 08:55:00 AM

Someone identifying himself as Javier Melendez took me to task in last week’s letters column for my failing to take Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums to task for the mayor’s recently reported tax difficulties. I quote the relevant parts in whole: 

“It’s clear to all that [the Berkeley Daily Planet is] not getting anywhere near the support from contributions that you think you should have,” Mr. Melendez writes. “Your handling of the Dellums tax issue is a great reason why. Your paper has no fairness or integrity. There has been absolutely no mention from your staff about the ridiculous situation that the mayor of Oakland is a tax cheat. And J. Douglas Allen-Taylor, who has been such a Dellums apologist, who immediately challenges the Chron’s Chip Johnson anytime he writes negatively about Dellums, has been so silent on this issue. One has to wonder if Allen-Taylor is on Dellum’s payroll.” 

While the Daily Planet is well capable of defending its own actions, I will only say that news coverage of the City of Oakland pretty much ceased in the paper’s news columns following October’s severe reduction in reporting staff. As for what I do in my column, it is true that I have not commented on Mr. Dellums’ personal tax situation, nor do I intend to do so now. If you’d like, I’ll explain why. 

American journalism took two distinct turns for the worst in our lifetime: the first following the Watergate article series by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein of the Washington Post and the second following the rash of media reports that exposed the extramarital affair of then-Democratic Party presidential primary favorite Sen. Gary Hart. Though legitimate stories in their own right, these two series of stories had an unfortunate spinoff. They ushered in an era in which too many reporters and too many media outlets focused almost entirely on “gotcha journalism” or “bedroom window journalism” or “garbage can journalism” or “smoking gun journalism,” in which they try to bring down a politician or administration—or make their journalistic reputations—by uncovering some personal impropriety. 

I decided very long ago that this is not the type of journalist I wanted to be, or the type of journalism I wanted to practice. And so I set two personal standards for my columns and my reporting. First, I write about personal transgressions—that is, actions that are entirely outside the realm of an officeholder’s official responsibilities—only when those transgressions have some clear and definable effect upon official duties. And while I enjoy speculating about political motives and moves, which is often what political commentary consists of, I don’t write about personal matters or motivations—even those that actually bear upon official duties—unless it’s based upon verifiable facts. That’s how I wrote about Oakland under Jerry Brown. That’s how I write about Oakland under Ron Dellums. 

That framework having been set, let’s move to the allegations of Mr. Dellums’ tax improprieties that have gotten Mr. Melendez in such an uproar. 

As far as I can determine, the story on the Dellums tax problems was first revealed on Nov. 2 by East Bay Express investigative reporter Bob Gammon, who wrote: 

“Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums and his wife Cynthia Dellums owe at least $239,000 in back income taxes, according to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. ... The IRS says the Dellumses failed to pay enough personal income taxes in 2005, 2006 and 2007. On Oct. 14, the IRS placed an official lien for failure to pay adequate taxes in each of those years, according to records filed with the Alameda County Recorder’s Office. Typically such liens remain in place until the back taxes are paid off.” 

In a statement made through his spokesman Paul Rose, Dellums disputed that he and his wife owe as much money as the IRS contends, although he acknowledged that they have not paid as much taxes as they should have. ‘There are previous disagreements with the IRS, regarding the amount owed,’ Dellums said. ‘The issue is being addressed and the matter will be resolved in short order.’ [A] spokesman for the Bay Area office of the IRS declined to comment on the Dellumses’ case, citing the agency’s rules on taxpayer confidentiality.” 

Mr. Gammon’s piece was certainly a legitimate story, as were the follow-up stories in the San Francisco Chronicle and the Oakland Tribune. 

As I could determine from the small amount of information actually released in the three stories, however, there is no issue of public funds or public administration involved, only the matter of a dispute and non-payment of personal taxes. 

Had this matter come to the surface in 2005 or 2006, during the “Draft Dellums” movement or the Oakland mayoral election, it certainly would have had some relevance and weight in the choice for Oakland’s next mayor, in my mind. Before that time, though he had served in public office from 1967 through 1997, Mr. Dellums had never held sole administrative authority over a governmental budget. In 2006, therefore, it would have been a legitimate question to ask if a man who was having difficulties—whatever the nature of those difficulties—with the management of his personal budget could handle the responsibility of the City of Oakland’s budget. 

Since that time, however, we have an ample record of the handling of Oakland’s budget by Mr. Dellums. He has submitted three separate city budgets—in 2007, 2008, and 2009—and overseen the management of Oakland’s budget and finances during those years, as well as introduced proposals for severe mid-year budget deficits in 2008 and 2009. In addition, the Dellums administration put through the controversial Measure Y financial swap—since ruled illegal by a district judge—that led to the full staffing of the Oakland Police Department. Whatever one thinks of Mr. Dellums’ three-year record of budgeting and administration—good or bad—there is a record of the managing of Oakland’s public finances upon which the mayor can be judged upon, well, how he manages Oakland’s public finances. 

It is for these reasons that—rather than commenting on the limited facts presently available about Mr. Dellums’ personal tax problems—I spent the last two weeks writing columns concerning the Dellums administration’s proposals to close Oakland’s current $18.8 million budget gap, a portion of those columns which were decidedly critical of those proposals. 

That is why I pay little attention when I am called a “Dellums apologist,” as Mr. Melendez does in his letter. What these folks appear to be looking for is not reasoned criticism but loud and frequent denunciation of favored targets. In their world, consistency is only honored if it involves the consistency of continually attacking the favorite object of attack. 

And so I am not going to accede to Mr. Melendez’ wishes and write about the Dellums’ personal tax problems. 

If I were to write about that subject, I would say that Mr. Melendez is completely off base in concluding that “the mayor of Oakland is a tax cheat.” My definition of a “tax cheat” is one who willfully hides income or inflates deductions for the express purpose of knowingly avoiding the payment of taxes that are legally due. There is no evidence—based upon the three stories released in the Express, the Chronicle, and the Tribune—that this was the case. Where our friends at the IRS believe that someone is knowingly cheating on their taxes, the tools of rectification in their box are far less benevolent, and include garnishment of wages, the actual seizing of assets, and imprisonment. A lien upon personal or real property—as occurred in the Dellums case—appears to be the method the IRS uses to make sure the funds in dispute are secured and available to be paid if the IRS prevails in a dispute over taxes. I suspect these types of disputes and this type of securing-of-eventual-payment methods are far more widespread than the public believes, and are routinely handled and settled one way or the other and moved on, and this particular case has become something of an issue of public concern only because Mr. Dellums is a public figure, and not necessarily because there is any intrinsic public policy issue involved. 

I don’t know the nature of the tax dispute between Mr. and Ms. Dellums and the IRS, just as I don’t know the details concerning a similar IRS lien recently placed on the property of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger over a $79,000 tax dispute. But since neither the Dellums nor the Schwarzenegger tax disputes or liens have so far involved allegations of fraud, and since both appear to involve personal rather than public funds, they only become relevant to an assessment of the Dellums or Schwarzenegger administrations if we choose to make it so. 

Respectfully, I don’t so choose. You, of course, are free to make your own choice, and I won’t accuse you of being on somebody or other’s payroll, whichever choice you make. As I said, that’s not the type of journalism I choose to practice.

Wild Neighbors: The Fine Points of Gull Identification: Why Bother?

By Joe Eaton
Thursday December 03, 2009 - 09:15:00 AM
A western gull, aggressively panhandling at Drakes Beach in Point Reyes.
Ron Sullivan
A western gull, aggressively panhandling at Drakes Beach in Point Reyes.

It’s been a long time coming, but there was one identifiable point in my life when I realized I was no longer a Serious Birder. That was two years ago, when Gulls of the Americas, a Peterson Reference Guide, was published, and I didn’t buy it. I still haven’t bought it. In fact, I passed up a discounted copy at the end-of-Cody’s sale. 

Not that it’s a bad book, for what it is. You’ll note that Houghton Mifflin called it a reference guide, not a field guide. This thing is a doorstop. The authors, Steve Howell and Jon Dunn, included detailed text descriptions and photographs for every distinct plumage of every species of gull that regularly occurs from Point Barrow to Tierra del Fuego, plus hybrids, waifs, and strays. That’s fine. I still don’t want it. I just can’t take gulls that seriously. 

I suspect the roots of gullmania go back to the ’70s, when the Thayer’s gull was elevated from a race of the herring gull to a full species, and birders had to work out its subtle field marks. Then came a spate of books, like the National Geographic guide and Kenn Kauffman’s Advanced Birding, that dealt with the plumage changes that gulls undergo as they mature.  

Birders began to go out of their way—to landfills, to the Great Lakes in winter—to see newly identifiable rarities. European taxonomists got into the act, splitting the herring gull six ways from Sunday. Some of the newly recognized taxa showed up in North America, and observers had to consider Vega gulls and yellow-legged gulls. 

The Howell and Dunn book is the logical culmination of those trends. They refer to “cycles” of plumage rather than “years,” and that usage has caught on. Last week, on one of the regional birding listserves, somebody reported a gull at the mouth of the Mad River as a probable first-cycle Thayer/Kumlien’s intergrade/hybrid. I applaud the observer’s field skills, but I don’t care. It was still a gull. 

Gulls have very little appeal for me, especially the big white-headed jobs: western, glaucous-winged, herring, California. 

They’re just feathered appetites: raucous, greedy, untidy—corvids without the smarts. You want to know how intelligent gulls are? More than once I’ve seen a western gull attempting to eat a starfish bigger than its head. The gull was standing around with one arm of the starfish down its throat, maybe waiting for the little sucker feet to lose their grip. Not the kind of thing a raven would try, even on a bad day. 

It’s not really about intelligence, though. Albatrosses can’t tell floating plastic junk from fish but that doesn’t tarnish their mystique. Terns, skimmers, jaegers, and skuas, all close relatives of gulls, are cool in their various ways. Even the smaller gulls have redeeming features: I’d love to see one of the polar exotics, like the ivory or Ross’s gulls, or the swallow-tailed gull of the Galapagos. But at this point in my life I wouldn’t go across town to see a slaty-backed gull, which is pretty much a western gull with a bit more white in its primaries. 

Did I mention that gulls hybridize at the drop of a hat? Western gulls have a 200-mile-long hybrid zone with glaucous-winged gulls on the Oregon and Washington coasts. Glaucous-winged gulls hybridize with glaucous gulls and herring gulls. Herring gulls also mate with lesser black-backed gulls and the California gull. 

Even without all that interspecific fooling around, the big white-headed gulls all seem to be very similar genetically. When biologists compared the genetic “barcodes”—snippets of mitochondrial DNA, inherited matrilineally and thus not affected by hybridization—of 643 North American birds, they found that eight large gull species, including western, glaucous-winged, herring and California were 99.8 percent genetically identical. (The flip side: the study found deep genetic divisions within such uniform-looking species as winter wrens, in some cases aligning with differences in song type and other behaviors.) 

So we’re talking about birds that, while separable in the field, may not even be valid species, depending on which of the many definitions of species you’re using. But the obsession persists.  

Another listserve had a lot of traffic recently about a lesser black-backed gull that had been spotted in Fresno County. After a couple of days, someone noticed that the gull didn’t look healthy. Then a message was posted that the bird had begun listing badly, and that birders who wanted to see it while alive and countable should hurry. I don’t doubt that some people charged off down I-5 to see the poor creature before it expired, which it did shortly after that posting. 

At bottom, I suspect, gullmania is an outlet for the kind of hypercompetitiveness to which birding has long been prone. Fine for the young and compulsive, but, as Mr. Goldwyn said, you can include me out.

Arts & Events

Arts Calendar

Thursday December 03, 2009 - 09:11:00 AM



”The Nutcracker” Children’s dance program at 6:30 p.m. at Kensington Community Center, 59 Arlington Ave. For ages 3 and up. 524-3043. 


“Pairings” Photographs, photograms, polaroids and paintings by Jim Doukas. Artist talk at 7:30 p.m. at Joyce Gordon Gallery, 406 14th St., Oakland. 465-8928. 

“Gratitude Altar Show” opens at 7 p.m. at Oakopolis, 447 Twenty-fifth St., Oakland. Exhibition open sat. from 2 to 5 p.m. to Jan. 9. oakopolis@gmail.com 


“La Danse: Le Ballet de l’Opera de Paris” Frederick Wiseman's latest documentary at 7 p.m. at Rialto Cinemas Elmwood, 2966 College Ave. at Ashby. Tickets are $20-$50. Benefits the Parachute Fund which provides grants to members of the Bay Area dance community facing HIV/AIDS or other life-threatening illnesses. 415-920-9181. www.dancersgroup.org/benefit.php 


Body Music Festival Lecture Demonstration with Braulio Berrera, Kenny Muhammad, Fatima Moreno Gonzalez and others at 8 p.m. at La Peña, 3105 Shattuck Ave. Cost is $12. www.crosspulse.com  

Canyon Sam reads from “Sky Train: Tibetan Women on the Edge of History” at 7 p.m. at Books Inc. 1760 4th St. 525-7777. 


Tammy Hall “Jazz at Noon” at 12:15 p.m. at the Art & Music room, 5th flr., Berkeley Public Library, 2090 Kittredge at Shattuck. Free. 981-6241. 

Berkeley Symphony Orchestra Steven Stucky & Stravinsky’s Firebird at 8 p.m. at Zellerbach Hall, UC campus. For ticket information see www.berkeleysymphony.org 

Gerardo Balestrieri and members of The Fishtank Ensemble at 9 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $10-$13. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

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

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

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

The Flux, Eaglehead at 9 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $6. 841-2082. www.starryploughpub.com 

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



“Another Kind of Christmas” Showcasing the talents of Oakland youth Fri. and Sat. at 7 p.m. at The Malonga Casquelourd Center for the Arts, 1428 Alice St., Oakland. Tickets are $25. 421-9207. www.fullvisionsarts.org 

Aurora Theatre “Fat Pig” through Dec. 13, at 2081 Addison St. Tickets are $15-$55. 843-4822. auroratheatre.org 

Berkeley Black Repertory Group Theater “Sparkle: The Stage Play” Thurs.-Fri. at 8 p.m., Sat. at 2 and 8 p.m., Sun. at 4 p.m. at 3201 Adeline St., through Dec. 20. Tickets are $10-$45. 652-2120. 

Contra Costa Civic Theatre “Lucky Stiff” Fri. and Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 2 p.m. through Dec. 6, at 951 Pomona Ave., El Cerrito. Tickets are $18, $11 for 16 and under. 524-9132. www.cct.org 

Impact Theatre “Large Animal Games” Thurs.-Sat. at 8 p.m. at La Val’s Subterranean, 1834 Euclid Ave., through Dec. 12. Tickets are $12-$20. impacttheatre.com 

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 

Shotgun Players “The Threepenny Opera” Thurs.-sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 5 p.m. at The Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby Ave., through Jan. 17. Tickets are $18-$30. 841-6500. www.shotgunplayers.org 


“New Images of Man and Woman” Curated by Peter Selz and Cameron Jackson. Opening reception at 6 p.m. at Alphonse Berber Gallery, 2546 Bancroft Way. Exhibit runs to Jan. 30. info@alphonseberber.com 

“Light on Lake Merritt” Photographs by Laura Sutta. Artist’s reception at 5 p.m. at Alameda County Law Library, 125 Twelfth St., Oakland. 208-4830. www.acgov.org/law 

“Elemental: New Work at Mercury 20” an overview of recent painting, sculpture, ceramics, photography, drawing and mixed media by East Bay artists. Opening reception at 6 p.m. at Mercury 20 Gallery, 25 Grand Ave., at Broadway, Oakland. www.mercurytwenty.com 

“The Maker Show” a sampling of Makers from the Maker Faire. Opening reception at 5 p.m. at Chandra Cerrito Contemporary, 480 23rd St Oakland. 415-577-7537. www.chandracerrito.com 


Frederick Hertz talks about “Making It Legal: A Guide to Same-Sex Marriage, Domestic Partnership and Civil Unions” at 7 p.m. at at Books Inc., 1760 4th St. 525-7777. 


Sacred & Profane “Spain and the New World: A Holiday Concert” at 8 p.m at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, 2300 Bancroft. Tickets are $15-$20. www.sacredprofane.org 

Advent Lessons and Carols at 6 p.m. at Pacific School of Religion, 1798 Scenic Ave. 849-8239. 

Sally Light, mezzo-soprano, and Miles Graber, pianist, at 7:30 p.m. at St. Alban’s Episcopal Church, 1501 Washington Ave., Albany. Suggested donation is $20, but no one will be turned away. 525-1716. 

Sarah Eden Davis & All-Star Band at 8 p.m. at Rudramandir, 830 Bancroft Way. Tickets are $15-$20. 486-8700. 

7 Potencias, Afro-Cuban, at 8 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $20-$22. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

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

WomenGig@Trieste featuring The Jill Knight Trio and poet Dian Sousa at 8 p.m. at Caffe Trieste, 2500 San Pablo Ave. Suggested donation $10-$15. 548-5198. www.womengig.com 

Forro Barzuca, Samba de Raiz, Brazilian, at 9 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $10-$13. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

Body Music Festival Concert at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $22.50-$23.50. 548-1761.  

Jean White and Friends at 7 p.m. at Chester’s Bay View Cafe, 1508 Walnut St. 849-9995. 

Eric Mcfadden Trio , Sistas in the Pit at 9 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $10. 841-2082.  

The Aggrolites, reggae, at 9 p.m. at Shattuck Down Low, 2284 Shattuck Ave. Cost is $14. 548-1159.  

Soul Burners at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 843-8277. 

Tres Mojo at 7:30 at Art House Gallery, 2905 Shattuck Ave. Donation $5-$10. 482-3336. 

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



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

Susan Gal talks about “Night Lights” the story of a child’s evening routine through all of the different kinds of lights that shine in the night at 11 a.m. at Books Inc., 1760 4th St. 525-7777. 

“Here is the Arctic Winter” with author Madeline Dunphy at 1 p.m. at Museum of Children’s Art, 538 9th St., Oakland. Free. 465-8770.  

The Snow Queen Puppet Show Sat. and Sun. at 11 a.m. and 2 and 4 p.m. at at Children’s Fairyland, 699 Bellevue Ave., Oakland. Cost is $7. 296-4433.  

Andy Z Music Concert at 11 a.m. at Studio Grow, 1235 10th St. Cost is $9. 526-9888. 


“Another Kind of Christmas” Showcasing the talents of Oakland youth at 7 p.m. at The Malonga Casquelourd Center for the Arts, 1428 Alice St., Oakland. Tickets are $25. 421-9207. www.fullvisionsarts.org 

Stone Soup Improv Comedy at 8 p.m. at Temescal Arts Center, 511 48th St. at Telegraph, Oakland. Cost is $7-$10. www.stonesoupimprov.com 

The Igniters “Moses and the Shepherd” A musical theatrical performance of a story by Rumi, blending Persian and Western elements, at 6 p.m. at 1433 Madison St., between 14th and 15th sts, Oakland. Tickets are $10. 832-7600. 


R. Pocekay, Henry Epstein and Raul Jorcino, paintings. Opening reception Dec. 5 at 5 p.m. at Deco Art, 5495 C. Claremont Ave., Oakland. 593-4575. 


“Power Trip - Theatrically Berkeley” on the green movement in Berkeley at 7 p.m. at Brkeley Fellowship of Unitarian universalists, 1924 Cedar St. http://powertripberkeley.com 


Gene Luen Yang discusses his graphic novels “American Born Chinese” and “Eternal Smile” at 3 p.m. Eastwind Books of Berkeley, 2066 University Ave. 548-2350. 

Bay Area Poets Coalition open reading from 3 to 5 pm. at Strawberry Creek Lodge, 1320 Addison St. Park on the street. 527-9905. 


Ceremony of Carols Holiday Concert at 3 p.m. at St Mark's Episcopal Church, 2300 Bancroft Way. Tickets are $10-$25. www.womensing.org 

The Oakland-East Bay Gay Men’s Chorus and Otto Voci “Baby It’s Cold Outside” at 7:30 p.m. at Lakeshore Baptist Church, Oakland. 1-800-706-2389. www.oebgmc.org,  

Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir Holiday Concert at 7:30 p.m. at Paramount Theater, 2025 Broadway, Oakland. Tickets are $10-$40. 465-6400. www.oigc.org 

Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra “Gloria! A Holiday Celebration” at 8 p.m. at First Congregational Church, 2345 Channing Way. Tickets are $25 and up. 415-392-4400.  

Marino Formenti, pianist, at 5 p.m. at St. John’s Presbyterian Church, 2727 College Ave. Tickets are $32. 415-398-6449.  

Anna Maria Mendieta Candlelight Christmas concert for harp and percussion at 8 p.m. at Trinity Chapel, 2320 Dana St. Tickets are $8-$12. 549-3864. 

Venezuelan Music Project “Gaitas 2009” at 8 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $16. 849-2568.  

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

Musical Night in Africa with Kotoja, Bab Ken & West African highlife Band, Afro-beat Connexion and Nigerian Brothers at 9 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $15. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com  

Tara Linda, accordionist at 2 p.m. at Down Home Music, 10341 San Pablo A., El Cerrito. 

Saturday Afternoon Gallery Acoustic, a songwriters open mic, with Susan Newman and Eliza Shefler, at 2 p.m. at Frank Bette Center for the Arts, 1601 Paru at Lincoln, Ave., Alameda. 523-6957.  

Sotaque Baiano at 8 p.m. at Shattuck Down Low, 2284 Shattuck Ave. Cost is $5-$10. 548-1159. www.shattuckdownlow.com 

Karla Bonoff at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $22.50-$23.50. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 

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

The China Cats, Pat Nevins at 9 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $8. 841-2082. www.starryploughpub.com 

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

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



Berkeley City College Digital Art Club Opening reception for recent work at 3 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center, 3105 Shattuck Ave. Exhibit runs through Jan. 31. 849-2568.  


PEN Oakland 19th Annual Josephine Miles Literary Awards at 3 p.m. at at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. 841-JAZZ. www.AnnasJazzIsland.com 

Egyptology Lecture “The Tale of Two Tombs: Field Work in the Theban Necropolis, and New Discoveries in the Nile Delta, Site of Ancient Mendes” with Drs. Susan and Donald Redford, Pennsylvania State University, at 1:30 p.m. at Barrows Hall, Room 20, Barrow Lane and Bancroft Way, UC campus. 415-664-4767. 


San Francisco Mandolin Orchestra at 4 p.m. at St. Alban’s Episcopal Church, 1501 Washington Ave., Albany. Donation $10-$15. www.st-albans-albany.org 

The Oakland-East Bay Gay Men’s Chorus and Otto Voci “Baby It’s Cold Outside” at 5 p.m. at Lakeshore Baptist Church, Oakland. 1-800-706-2389. www.oebgmc.org, www.BrownPaperTickets.com  

Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra “Gloria! A Holiday Celebration” at 7:30 p.m. at First Congregational Church, 2345 Channing Way). Tickets are $25 and up. 415-392-4400. www.cityboxoffice.com 

Canto Con Vivo “Tis the Season” at 3 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church, 27th and Broadway, Oakland. Tickets are $10-$40. www.cantoconvico.org 

Symphonic Wind Ensemble at 3 p.m. at Hertz Hall, UC campus. Free. The Pacific Alumni Association and University of the Pacific’s Conservatory of Music reception at 1:30 p.m. Cost for reception is $10. RSVP for reception to 866-575-7229. 

Soli Deo Gloria with Orchestra Gloria “Songs of Nativity” at 3:30 p.m. at Christ Episcopal Church, 1700 Santa Clara, Alameda. Tickets are $20-$25. Students grades K-8, free. 888-SDG-SONG. www.sdgloria.org 

“Messiah Sing in Baroque Style” at 6 p.m. at Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley, One Lawson Rd., Kensington. Suggested donation $10-$15, no one turned away. 525-0302. www.uucb.org 

Trombonga at 1 p.m. outside Mrs. Dalloway’s, 2904 College Ave. 704-8222. 

Bomba y Plena Afro-Puerto Rican rhythms, song and dance at 7 p.m. at La Peña. Cost is $8-$10. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

Eva Scow & Ami Molinelli Ensemble at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $12. 841-JAZZ. www.AnnasJazzIsland.com 

Ray Cepeda Latin Jazz at 7 p.m. at Chester’s Bay View Cafe, 1508 Walnut St. 849-9995. 

Israeli Folkdance with Allen King at 1:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $7. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

Cris Williamson at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $22.50-$23.50. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 

Ava Bird and Friends Shakti soulstice celebration at 7 p.m. at 2905 Shattuck Ave. Donation $10. 

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



Stagebridge’s Student Showcases featuring Storytelling with Kirk Waller plus scenes from “Trojan Women” at 6:30 p.m. at The Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby Ave. Suggested donation $5-$10. 444-4755. 31  


“A Christmas Memory” by Truman Capote will be read by Thomas Lynch at 7:30 p.m. at Mrs. Dalloway’s, 2904 College Ave. 704-8222. 

John Carroll in Conversation with Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman at 7 p.m. at Berkeley Rep, 2025 Addison St. Benefit for Park Day School. Tickets are $30. 653-0317, 103. www.ParkDaySchool.org 

Subterranean Shakespeare “The Bronte Cycle Part 1” staged reading at 7:30 p.m. at Berkeley Unitarian Fellowship, 1924 Cedar at Bonita. Tickets are $8. 276-3871. 

Daniel Boyarin discusses “Socrates and the Fat Rabbis” in conversation with Chana Kronfeld and Ramona Nadaf, at 5:30 p.m. University Press Books, 2430 Bancroft Way. 548-0585.  

David Harrington “Sonic Immersion” An Art Technology nd Culture lecture at 7:30 p.m. at 125 Morrison Hall, UC campus. Free. atc.berkeley.edu 

Poetry Express with Brenda Hillman at 7 p.m. at Priya Restaurant, 2072 San Pablo Ave. 644-3977. 



Kathryn Ma reads from her short story collection, “All That Work and Still No Boys” at 7 p.m. at the El Cerrito library, 6510 Stockton Ave., El Cerrito. 526-7512. 

Emily Warn reads her poetry at 7 p.m. at the Albany Library, 1247 Marin Ave. 526-3720. 


Laura Klein and Ted Wolff, piano/vibes jazz duo, at 7 p.m. at 7 p.m. at Caffe Triests, 2500 San Pablo Ave. 548-5198. 

Creole Belles 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 

Duck Baker, Mimi Fox at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $18.50-$19.50. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 



Elaine Elinson and Stan Yogi discuss “Wherever There’s a Fight: How Runaway Slaves, Suffragists, Immigrants, Strikers, and Poets Shaped Civil Liberties in California” at 7 p.m. at Books Inc., 1760 4th St. 525-7777. 

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


Wednesday Noon Concert, with University Chorus “Songs of Mary” at Hertz Hall, UC campus. Free. 642-4864. http://music.berkeley.edu 

Klezmer Music Chanukah concert at noon at 12th and Broadway, Oakland.  

Bruce Molsky, Appalachian fiddling, at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $18.50-$19.50. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 

John Calloway’s Annual Show of Afro Cuban Ensembles of SF State at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $10. 841-JAZZ. www.AnnasJazzIsland.com 

Autonomous Region, First Born at 8:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $9-$7. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

Karabali at 9 p.m. at Shattuck Down Low, 2284 Shattuck Ave. Cost is $5-$10. 548-1159.  

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



Kara Maria, artist, in conjunction with the exhibition “Metahyical Abstraction” at 7 p.m. at Berkeley Art Center, 1275 Walnut St. Cost is $5. 644-6893. www.berkeleyartcenter.org 

Zeus Leonardo dicusses “Race, Whiteness and Education” at 5:30 p.m. at University Press Books, 2430 Bancroft Way. 548-0585. www.universitypressbooks.com 


Berkeley High School Orchestra/Band Benefit Concert and Silent Auction at 6:30 p.m. in the Community Theater, Berkeley High School. 

College of Alameda Jazz Ensemble Annual Holiday Concert at 7 p.m. at College of Alameda F Building Student Lounge, 555 Ralph Appezzato Memorial Parkway, Alameda, just past the Webster Tube from downtown Oakland. Free. 748-2213. 

Tony Lindsay “In the Spirit of Giving” with the Emery High School Jazz Band at 7:30p.m. Ex'pression College, 6601 Shellmound St. Emeryville. Tickets are $50 and up. 601-4997. 

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

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

John Craigie, Valerie Orth, Cyndi Harvell at 9 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $8. 841-2082. www.starryploughpub.com 

Adrian Gormley Jazz Ensemble at 10 p.m. at Beckett’s Irish Pub, 2271 Shattuck Ave. 647-1790. www.beckettsirishpub.com 



Aurora Theatre “Fat Pig” through Dec. 13, at 2081 Addison St. Tickets are $15-$55. 843-4822. auroratheatre.org 

Berkeley Black Repertory Group Theater “Sparkle: The Stage Play” Thurs.-Fri. at 8 p.m., Sat. at 2 and 8 p.m., Sun. at 4 p.m. at 3201 Adeline St., through Dec. 20. Tickets are $10-$45. 652-2120. 

Berkeley Rep”Aurélia’s Oratorio” at 2015 Addison St., through Jan. 24. Tickets are $33-$71. 647-2949. berkeleyrep.org 

Bill Santiago’s “The Immculate Big Bang” at 8 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $10-$12. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

Impact Theatre “Large Animal Games” Thurs.-Sat. at 8 p.m. at La Val’s Subterranean, 1834 Euclid Ave., through Dec. 12. Tickets are $12-$20. impacttheatre.com 

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 

Shotgun Players “The Threepenny Opera” Thurs.-sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 5 p.m. at The Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby Ave., through Jan. 17. Tickets are $18-$30. 841-6500. www.shotgunplayers.org 

“The Stone Wife” Fri. and Sat at 8 p.m. and Sun. at 6 p.m. at Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant Ave., through Dec. 20. Tickets at the door are $15-$20. 


“The Warm & Fuzzy Show” Featuring selected works by Arabella Proffer-Vendetta, Chad Frick, Chiami Sekine, Chrystal Chan, Jamie Fales, Johnny Thylacine, Michelle Waters and Yvette Buigues. Opening reception at 7 p.m. at Eclectix Gallery, 10082 San Pablo Ave., El Cerrito. www.eclectix.com 

“A Long Way from the Cabbage Patch” Opening reception at 6 p.m. at Art@TheOakbook art gallery, 423 Water St., Oakland. Show runs through Jan. 9. 282-2139. www.theoakbook.com        


Poetry Flash with John Balaban and Chana Bloch at 7:30 p.m. at Berkeley Art Center, 1275 Walnut St. in Live Oak Park. Cost is $5, free for BAC members. 644-6893. 

Jeanne Lupton and Abby Bogomolny read their poetry at 7 p.m. at Nefeli Caffe, 1854 Euclid Ave., a little north of Hearst, as part of the Last Word Reading Series. 841-6374. 


Berkeley Ballet Theater “The Nutcracker” at 7 p.m., Sat. at 2 and 7 p.m. and Sun. at 2 p.m., through Dec. 20, at the Julia Morgan Center for the Arts at 2640 College Ave. Tickets are $24. 843-4689. berkeleyballet.org  

The Christmas Revels, Fri. at 7:30 p.m., Sat. and Sun. at 1 and 5 p.m. at Scottish Rite Theater, 1547 Lakeside Drive, Oakland, through Dec. 20. Tickets are $12-$50. 452-8800. calrevels@calrevels.org 

Nicolas Bearde Holiday Show at 8 p.m. at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way. Cost is $14. 841-JAZZ. www.AnnasJazzIsland.com 

Baguette Quartette at 9 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $10-$13. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

Tom Russell at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $22.50-$23.50. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 

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

The New Up, the Soft White Sixties, L’avventura at 9 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $8. 841-2082. www.starryploughpub.com 

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

Tanya Stephens at 9 p.m. at Shattuck Down Low, 2284 Shattuck Ave. Cost is $15-$20. 548-1159.  



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

The Snow Queen Puppet Show Sat. and Sun. at 2, 4 and 6 p.m. at at Children’s Fairyland, 699 Bellevue Ave., Oakland. Cost is $7. 296-4433.  


“RED” Berkeley Art Center Member Showcase Opening reception at 3 p.m. at Berkeley Art Center, 1275 Walnut St. in Live Oak Park. Exhibition runs to Jan. 24. 644-6893. 

“Past, Present and Future” Group art show. Opening reception at 6 p.m. at Expressions Gallery, 2035 Ashby Ave. 644-4930. www.expressionsgallrey.org 

“50 Years of Collecting Asian Art” with Jospeh Fischer from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at giorgi Gallery, 2911 Claremont Ave. 848-1228. giorgigallery.com 

“Bay Area Artists’ Collection” annual holiday 2D fine arts exhibit. Reception at 2 p.m. at Prescott-Joseph Center for Community Enhancement 920 Peralta St., off 10th St., West Oakland. Exhibition runs to Jan. 22. 208-5651. 

“Iu Mien at Peralta Hacienda” Exhibit Opening with the traditions of the Mien people and their gardens and embroidery, from 2 to 4 p.m. at Oakland Antonio Peralta House, 2465 34th Ave., Oakland. www.peraltahacienda.org 


Lucia Chiavola Birnbaum and Joan Clair discuss themes from a new anthology “She Is Everywhere” a 2 p.m. at Starr King School for the Ministry, 2441 Le Conte Ave. 845-6232. 

Ruby Roth reads from “That’s Why We Don’t Eat Animals: A Book About Vegans, Vegetarians, and All Living Things” at 1 p.m. at Café Gratitude, 1730 Shattuck Ave. at Virginia. 725-4418. 

Benefit Extravaganza for Rebecca’s Books with Voices Of Our youth, devorah major, All young, Jack Hirschman and many others from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at 3268 Adeline St. 852-4768. 

Joe Quirk talks about “Exult” at 7 p.m. at Books Inc., 1760 4th St. 525-7777. 


Cantare Con Vivo “Peace on Earth” music and dinner at 5 and 7:30 p.m. at Merritt College Student Lounge, 12500 Campus Drive, Oakland. Cost is $50. www.cantareconvico.org 

Navidad en Guatemala with Ana Nitmar at 8 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $12-$15. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

Schola Cantorum San Francisco “¡Noe, Noe! Canciones para Navidad” A Renaissance Choral Celebration at 7:30 p.m. at First Congregational Church, 2345 Channing Way. Tickets are $10-$25. 528-1725. www.sfems.org 

The Kensington Symphony Orchestra Traditional music and opera excerpts at 8 p.m. at Unitarian-Universalist Church. 1 Lawson Rd., Kensington. Suggested donation$12-$15. Children free. 524-9912. Kensingtonsymphonyorchestra.org 

Berkeley Ballet Theater “The Nutcracker” Sat. at 2 and 7 p.m. and Sun. at 2 p.m., through Dec. 20, at the Julia Morgan Center for the Arts at 2640 College Ave. Tickets are $24. 843-4689. berkeleyballet.org  

Pulama’s Hawaiian Holiday Concert at 8 p.m. at BFUU 1924 Cedar St. Cost is $10-$12 www.brownpapertickets.com   

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

Sister I-Live, Queen Makedah at 9:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $10-$13. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com  

Geoff Muldaur & the Texas Sheiks with Jim Kweskin, traditional music of the 20s and 30s, at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $18.50-$19.50. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 

Roger Brown Blues Band 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 

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

Todd Sickafoose’s Tiny Resistors at 9 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $10. 841-2082. www.starryploughpub.com 

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



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


“Women Writing Women’s Lives” Berkeley authors Gloria Bowles and Kathleen Weaver discuss their experiences writing women’s biography and autobiography at 7 p.m. at The Hillside Club, 2286 Cedar St. Tickets are $5-$10. 949-3227. 

“Bareed Mista3jil” Staged reading of queer Arab women’s stories a 4:30 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $10-$25, no one turned away. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

Joel ben Izzy, the traveling Jewish story teller, tells Chanukah tales at 3 p.m. at Netivot Shalom, 1316 University Ave. Proceeds benefit Easy Does It Emergency Services. Tickets are $7-$10 for children, $10-$18 for adults. www.brownpapertickets.com 

Richard P. Blair and Kathleen P. Goodwin introduce thier book of photographs “Point Reyes Visions” at 7 p.m. at Books Inc., 1760 4th St. 525-7777. 


Christmas Concert with Nanette McGuinness, Kathleen Moss, Pual Murray and St. Andrew’s Handbells and Chamber Choir at 2:30 p.m. at First Church of Christ, Scientist, 2619 Dwight. Donations will be used to restore the 1953 Austin Organ. 665-5988. 

“The Christmas Spirituals and Carols of the World” with The Lucy Kinchen Chorale at 3 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church of Oakland, 2619 Broadway, Oakland. 444-3555. www.firstchurchoakland.org 

San Francisco Choral Artists “Old Chestnuts, New Fire!” at 4 p.m. at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 114 Montecito, Oakland. Tickets are $14-$30. 415-979-5779. www.brownpapertickets.com 

Cypress String Quartet at 4 p.m. at Crowden Music Center, 1475 Rose St. Tickets are $15. 559-6910. www.crowden.org 

Voci Women's Vocal Ensemble “Voices in Peace IX: The Greenest Branch” Mostly Medieval Marian music with Romantic and Twentieth-Century offshoots at 4 p.m. at Lake Merritt United Methodist Church, 1330 Lakeshore Ave., Oakland. Tickets are $17-$20, free for schildren under 12. 531-8714. www.vocisings.com 

Oakland East Bay Symphony “Let Us Break Bread Together” at 4 p.m. at Paramount Theatre, 2025 Broadway, at 20th St., Oakland. Tickets are $10-$40. 800-745-3000. www.oebs.org  

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

Sonic Safari Swing Band at 7 p.m. at Chester’s Bay View Cafe, 1508 Walnut St. 849-9995. 

Café Bellie at 7:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Belly dance lesson at 6:30 p.m. Cost is $8. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

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

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

Subterranean Shakespeare’s ‘The Bronte Cycle’

By Ken Bullock, Special to the Planet
Thursday December 03, 2009 - 09:05:00 AM

Subterranean Shakespeare, working their way through the Shakespearean canon in Monday night staged readings (they’re at number 25 now), will finish out the year with something different: playwright John O’Keefe’s The Bronte Cycle, performed on two Monday evenings, Dec. 7 and 14, at the Berkeley Unitarian Fellowship on Cedar Street. 

O’Keefe, who has been playwright-in-residence at the Magic Theatre in San Francisco—and who co-founded the Blake Street Hawkeyes, the experimental Berkeley performance troupe of the 1970s—was performing his solo show Shimmer in New York in the early ’90s, when he was commissioned by Berkeley Rep to write a play. “I don’t know anything about regional repertory theaters,” he said. “I don’t belong to that world. So I thought: something with a lot of costumes and sets.” 

He settled on the Brontë sisters, considering that “Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre, unlike Jane Austin’s books, don’t have the same restraints. They’re sexually charged, really passionate. Fun! Of course, I’d never really read them ... Were they Italian? Did they write together?” 

Starting what became years of research, O’Keefe “opened a book—and my jaw dropped. I got into their bios and became completely involved. Originally, I wanted the play to babble, like northern England, but then did something not very avant-garde, more bourgeois ... I realized it wouldn’t work with the ticket prices!” 

O’Keefe discovered that the Brontë parsonage and Haworth Village in Yorkshire “are the second most-visited literary shrines in Britain, after Shakespeare’s.” He recalls reading 40 books, joining the Brontë Society, and making six trips to Haworth. 

The first version of the play was rejected by the Rep. “Tony Taccone, a nice guy, actually, worked me an extra year, cast me as the lead in one of the plays. And others got interested.” 

O’Keefe was hired as a visiting artist at the Clarence Brown Theatre in Knoxville, which is attached to the University of Tennessee, where he was also a guest teacher. “It was really a long, arduous process. I used The Flowers of Fancy as the center of the Cycle, really pivotal in a longer play. We needed to take on four artists to play three sisters and the brother. We had to have all of them dying. There was a lot of dying in that era, young dying.” 

At Tennessee in the mid-’90s, “I pulled out all the stops; I would’ve written a 17-hour serial about the women’s lives in competition with their work, so parallel to their writing—the stuff of melodrama.” 

On return trips to the north of England, O’Keefe commented, “They got to know me—and I got to understand their speech.” 

O’Keefe spoke about the Brontë sisters and their work. “They were poets but primarily wrote novels, writing about their lives, thinly disguised, transmuted.” 

The Bronte Cycle, its development, and the search for its staging took O’Keefe to the Swan Theatre in London and to Lincoln Center in New York, where he directed a workshop reading of it. “There have been eight different play versions and two film adaptations. I took it—and Shimmer—to Sundance, then to the Equinoxe Foundation in France. At Lincoln Center it came very close—then the director, who was also a set designer, dropped out to work for Disney.” 

O’Keefe “kept on into the eleventh year, writing and rewriting, hoping one of the big corporate theaters would buy it.” Finally, he “put my stamp on it—the closest play to what I want to do, I told Geoffrey [Pond]. The closest line; just an inch away with things like that.” 

O’Keefe had gradually “mutated” the play into The Bronte Cycle “to make the whole thing more cinematic, sweeping ... if there’s The Kentucky Cycle why not one for one of the greatest triptych families on the planet? I was stunned by these three women, by what amazing strengths they had to do what they did. The story’s so intriguing, maybe more so than their books.” 

Integral to The Bronte Cycle—and to this staged reading—are what O’Keefe calls the “business” of playwrights, the stage directions he’s meticulously written. “Since the Method, playwrights write dialogue, the director works with actors and actors work with the business. The playwright’s directions usually gets scratched out. My friend Irene Fornes had to write a line into one of her plays, ‘Why did you pour water over my head?’ because the actors and directors were ignoring an important stage direction to do so. Since playreadings seem to be the new form, with actors not exchanging body fluids, that everybody can afford, why not? If there’s no wiggle room.” 

Geoffrey Pond remarked that the stage directions were “almost like a radio play, or a novel. Most directions are just stage left, stage right .” Pond first saw O’Keefe’s play Mimzabim in 1984, “and it changed my life. I never had seen theater like that.” O’Keefe commented, “One thing I like about what Geoffrey’s doing is putting on all the works by Shakespeare, one after the other, with no money, doing it alone—and for only $8 a ticket. To commit yourself for that long with no support—it’s like the Guinness Book of Records.” 



Subterranean Shakespeare presents a staged reading of John O’Keefe’s work at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 7 (part one, directed by Diane Jackson) and Dec. 14 (part two, directed by Stanley Spenger) at Berkeley Unitarian Fellowship, 1924 Cedar St. $8. 276-3871. 

Information on John O’Keefe and his plays can be found at www.johnokeefe.org.

Berkeley Symphony Presents Stucky, Stravinsky, Sibelius

By Ken Bullock, Special to the Planet
Thursday December 03, 2009 - 09:06:00 AM

Joana Carneiro will conduct the Berkeley Symphony in Steven Stucky’s Radical Light and Elegy from August 4, 1964, Jean Sibelius’ Seventh Symphony, and Igor Stravinsky’s The Firebird Suite (1919 version), tonight (Thursday) at 8 p.m. at Zellerbach Auditorium.  

Carneiro and Stucky will discuss the program beforehand onstage at 7:10 p.m.. 

“Steven Stucky is a mentor, a source of inspiration for me,” said Joana Carneiro. “He served such an important role with the L. A. Philharmonic when I was assistant conductor there. I ask his opinions about new music, which I learn so much about from him. And he knows so much about programming. I’ve conducted his music a few times. And I know he composed Radical White with the thought of Sibelius in mind.” 

Carneiro continued: “I really like Steven’s music in that the way he writes it, his message, is always clear. It’s profoundly emotional. It moves me always, makes me want to move and to dance; it’s written in such a beautiful way. And the architecture of it ... as musicians, we always know what to do with his music, how to perform it. It’s the reason why he’s the mentor to so many young composers, from a craft point of view.” 

“She thinks unusually hard and creatively about programming,” Stucky said of Carneiro. “This particular program is very comfortable for me. Two 20th-century composers I think of as home territory— Stravinsky and Sibelius. Along with Ravel and Bartok, I call them my household gods.” 

Stucky spoke of his inspiration from Sibelius’ Seventh. “When Radical Light was commissioned by the L. A. Philharmonic for a Sibelius retrospective, it was sandwiched between the Fourth and the Seventh, two great masterworks. How would Radical Light comport itself, sitting between them? It seems like an unbroken span, going through a journey without ever turning corners ... somehow, it just keeps going, one long experience of what’s inside it—like a succession of quite varied landscapes, but the land—and a while since I heard it with Sibelius! I’m excited and nervous.” 

Stucky commented on the Elegy From August 4, 1964, “It’s from a big piece, with voices and orchestra, about a little-remembered, quite emblematic and amazing conjunction. On that date, in a little room in the Oval Office, two forces in history passed each other, the civil rights movement and the Vietnam war. On that day, the FBI reported to LBJ that three bodies of civil rights workers were found in Mississippi, and LBJ called their families. It was also the date of the so-called second Gulf of Tonkin attack. A forerunner of all that went wrong later—and what went right, in terms of civil rights. August 4 is 70 minutes and very tragic. I stopped it at this point to insert an elegy for all we went through. It’s a kind of stand-alone piece, but it’s never been tried outside the oratorio. It’s another side of my personality, with no connection with Stravinsky or Sibelius. It’s always interesting, though, to see what connections people make. I’m a very strong advocate of people hearing what they want—or for them hearing what they hear! I believe in utter democracy in terms of music.” 

Carneiro has said about the Elegy, “It comes at a moment of reflection in an oratorio, when you feel the pain of the people, how much suffering they went through.” 

Stucky spoke again about Carneiro and her sense of programming. “I talked to Gaby and John [Gabriela Lena Frank and John Adams, whose pieces Carneiro conducted, with Bartok’s Concerto for Orchestra, in her inaugural concert in October] about that program. I wish I had heard it. The Bartok isn’t abstract; it’s full of actual stuff, steeped in particular places and times. 

“I lived here for six months in 2003, when I held the Ernest Bloch Professorship. With all that orchestras are going through right now, Joana’s the kind of person you need to rally the troops. She’s a real leader, a person full of incredible warmth and energy.” 

On Sunday evening at 7 p.m., Joana Carneiro will conduct members of the Berkeley Symphony in “Under Construction,” which will feature orchestral readings of Bruce Christian Bennett’s Of Memory I; Don Myers’ 1969: In Short, There Is Simply Naught; Patricio da Silva’s Woodstock; and Andy Tan’s A Soldier’s Diary, new works commissioned by the Symphony’s development program, followed by a question-and-answer session with the composers, at St. John’s Presbyterian Church on College Avenue. 


Joana Carneiro conducts the Berkeley Symphony, with works by Steven Stucky, Stravinsky and Sibelius, at 8 p.m. tonight (Thursday, Dec. 3) at Zellerbach Hall. $10–$60. 

On Sunday, Dec. 6 at 7 p. m. Carneiro conducts “Under Construction,” new works, with a question-and-answer session with the composers, St. John’s Presbyterian Church, 2727 College Ave. $10–$20. 

841-2800. www.berkeleysymphony.org.

‘La Danse’ Fundraiser for Dancer’s Group

By Ken Bullock, Special to the Planet
Thursday December 03, 2009 - 09:08:00 AM

Come join us in the dark and we will shine new light on the world.” 

That sentiment, posted on the Rialto Elmwood Cinema website, will be amply fulfilled tonight (Thursday) at 7 p.m. when an exclusive East Bay showing of Frederick Wiseman’s 38th film, La Danse: Le Ballet de l’Opera de Paris, will benefit the Parachute Fund of the Dancers Group, the Bay Area dance support group. The Parachute Fund has raised, since 1987, nearly $100,000 for dancers with HIV/AIDS and other life-threatening conditions. 

The Rialto Elmwood—“Creating Berkeley’s Best Neighborhood Movie Theater!”—has opened its doors before in neighborly fashion to benefit others. 

Wiseman’s new film has been hailed as “One of the finest dance films ever made” by A. O. Scott of the New York Times. Wiseman shows the spectator an extraordinary institution, films the beauties of the dances and dancers there—and considers its existence precisely as an institution (as Wiseman has always examined), an opulent institution. 

La Danse shows rehearsals and performances of seven ballets: Genus (Wayne McGregor), Le Songe de Medée (Angelin Prejocal), La Maison de Bernarda (Mats Ek), Paquita (Pierre Lacotte), Orphée and Eurydice (Pina Bausch) and Romeo and Juliet (Sasha Waltz). 

David Denby said, in the New Yorker, “Wiseman, with evident pleasure, turns back to the dancers, whom he photographs, not in the manner of the commercial cinema, where bodies are broken up into threshing limbs, but in full frame, top to bottom, with space around them, so that we can see the incredible moves the dancers are capable of, along with, inevitably, their mistakes, missteps, and gradual improvements ... It’s a joyous experience to see an institution in full flower—to see not dereliction and disorder but the many forms of striving and virtue.” 



Benefit screening of Frederick Wiseman’s La Danse for the Parachute Fund of Dancers Group, 7 p. m. Thurs, Dec. 3, Rialto Elmwood Theater, 2966 College Ave. $20-$50. (415) 920-9181. dancersgroup.org; rialtocinemas/elmwood.com.

Pacific Film Archive Presents the Work of Otto Preminger

By Ken Bullock, Special to the Planet
Thursday December 03, 2009 - 09:09:00 AM

Otto Preminger: Anatomy of a Movie,” a 14-film retrospective of the famed Hollywood director’s work, opened last weekend at Pacific Film Archive. The series, which continues through Dec. 20, ranges from the romantic film noir Laura (1944) to the bizarre 1968 LSD crime burlesque Skidoo (starring Jackie Gleason, Carol Channing, Frankie Avalon, Mickey Rooney, George Raft—and Groucho Marx as God) and includes such well-known titles as The Man with the Golden Arm (1955), St. Joan (1957), Anatomy of a Murder (1959), Exodus (1960) and Advise and Consent (1962). 

Laura features a score theme song so celebrated that Cole Porter once said the theme was the melody he most wished he’d written, and Hedy Lamarr, when asked why she turned down the title role (played by Gene Tierney), quipped, “They sent me the script, not the music!” 

As a musical footnote to Laura, film composer Mark Adler, who studied with David Raksin, the composer of both the theme and score, recalled Raksin’s story of how the music was made. 

Adler, a former East Bay resident, whose office was at Fantasy Films in Berkeley and who won the 1998-99 Prime Time Emmy for music direction for “The Rat Pack,” studied with Raksin at UCLA in the 1970s. He reminisced about his teacher, who died in 2004 at the age of 92, with admiration and affection. 

“It’s one of the rare films where you can’t separate the film from the score,” Adler said. “Not every film is open to that kind of scoring, serving the purpose of the film both dramatically and psychologically. And I believe it was the first monothematic film score. The theme gets buried, comes back...like the obsession that Dana Andrews, the detective, has with the image of Gene Tierney, the leading lady, who’s presumed dead.” 

Adler recounted Raksin’s own story of how he composed the music. “David told the story a number of times over the years, of how he watched an early cut of the film with Preminger. The film was considered a thriller by the studio; David immediately saw it as a love story. As a film composer, he was mostly assigned to horror and detective films, to darker stuff. Ironically, he wasn’t thought of as a love-story type of composer.” 

Preminger told Raksin he was thinking of “Sophisticated Lady,” by Duke Ellington (who later scored Preminger’s Anatomy of a Murder), for the theme. “David said he told Preminger that was wrong,” Adler recalled, “and Preminger gave him the weekend to come up with something different.” 

When Raksin got home, he found a letter from his wife, “a Broadway dancer,” Adler said, “and put it aside to work on the music.” On Sunday night, without a note written, Raksin read the letter, “which told him his wife was leaving him. He sat down and came up with the theme for Laura. It must have hit him in the heart; the melody tumbled out after a weekend of frustration.” 

The theme itself became a sensation; the studio “was flooded with letters asking where to get the music—that never happened for Hollywood music. So they decided to make a song of it. One lyricist came up with an opening ‘Two Hearts’—and David said, ‘No, I was thinking “Lau-Ra!”’ and insisted on Johnny Mercer for the words.” The result has been recorded over 400 times, reputedly second only to Hoagy Carmichael’s “Stardust.” 

Adler recalled Raksin’s screening of a “pivotal scene” in the movie for his students. “Dana Andrews, wandering around in Laura’s apartment, looking for clues, keeps gazing at the painting of her. There’s no dialogue. Preminger was considering cutting the scene; it wasn’t working. David said if the scene was cut, the audience wouldn’t understand that the detective was falling in love with a dead woman. He was pushing on insubordination by telling Preminger, ‘You can’t cut the scene!’ David used a Socratic approach when he played that scene for us: first we saw it without music, and it was fairly flat. The detective was just walking around. Then he ran it with music but no comment—and the music was playing the psychological subtext, the character’s inner, unarticulated feelings. It was a place where music can make a difference.” 

Adler spoke of Raksin as “musically adventurous. The ‘Laura’ theme is a very direct melody but with a complex harmonic quality. It only settles on the tonic key for a second before moving somewhere else, creating a restlessness, which served the quality of the character. 

“And he always had his ear to the ground. I realized he had his compositional antecedents to ‘Laura’ when, in a casual reference, he played a Jerome Kern piece, and I could see he might have emulated Kern’s sense of modulation in writing the ‘Laura’ theme. But I don’t think he did it consciously. His ear was so open to what everyone was doing; he was such a fan of Gershwin and Kern. In the ’80s and ’90s, when he was in his 70s and 80s, he referred to contemporary music in interviews, even to Snoop Doggy Dog.” 

Raksin composed more than 100 film scores—and more than 300 scores for TV—including such films as Force of Evil (1948), The Bad and the Beautiful and Pat and Mike (both 1952), and his favorite, Father of the Bride (1960). He was assisted in his career by referrals and commissions from many friends and acquaintances, including Leopold Stokowski, George Gershwin and Igor Stravinsky, who tapped Raksin to arrange his “Circus Polka” for Ringling Brothers, with choreography by Balanchine. 

Raksin first came to Hollywood in 1935, to assist in scoring Modern Times with Chaplin, who whistled and hummed what Raksin would then orchestrate. 

Adler also recalled Raksin’s presence at a new recording of “Laura” by conductor John Maucheri at the Hollywood Bowl with the Welsh National Orchestra, when Maucheri made a stylistic consultation with Raksin. “When Laura was made, the more Romantic-sounding Viennese guys dominated Hollywood music [Preminger, too, was a ‘Viennese guy,’ in theater], like Alfred Newman, the studio head of music, whom David had asked, ‘Will it work?’ referring to Laura, because monothematic scoring was so new. David considered himself a modern composer; he’d studied with Schoenberg and listened to Berg. He didn’t conduct the original music for Laura; Newman did and made things more ‘schmaltzy,’ more 19th century, according to David. He didn’t like adornment. So the new recording was a leaner, more modern score. Now we have that sense in film scores—but this was 65 years ago.”  

Adler keeps a saying by Raksin in his studio: “Most people say that life is a matter of living in harmony—and of course, it isn’t. For me, it’s a matter of counterpoint. That’s the way I think.” 

A 1998 interview with David Raksin by Charles Amirkhanian for KPFA’s “Speaking of Music” series, from the archives of Other Minds, is available online through Other Minds or Wikipedia’s entry for David Raksin. 




A career-spanning retrospective running through Dec. 20 at Pacific Film Archive, 2575 Bancroft Way (between Telegraph Avenue and Bowditch). $5.50–$13.50 for double feature, general admission). 642-1124.

Sacred and Profane Presents Holiday Concert

By Ken Bullock, Special to the Planet
Thursday December 03, 2009 - 09:10:00 AM

Spain and the New World: A Holiday Concert” will be performed by Sacred and Profane, the Berkeley- and Oakland-based chamber chorus, now in its 32nd season, that specializes in a cappela music of different periods and places, at 8 p.m. Friday night at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church on Bancroft Way. 

Dr. Rebecca Seeman, a Bay Area native, who studied at UC Santa Cruz and the University of Iowa and now teaches at the University of San Francisco, has led the choir for five years as conductor. 

“Sacred and Profane is an advanced amateur ensemble,” Seeman said, “primar-ily performing a cappela, though we’ve performed more with accompaniment recently. We work with different repertoire, a wide variety ... our name refers to Benjamin Britten’s late choral music, mostly based on medieval lyrics, but also to the diversity in our approach.” 

Seeman spoke about Friday’s concert, which will include choral music both folk and formal, from the Middle Ages to contemporary pieces. “It’s a wide spectrum of the music. The first half features medieval chants and canons, including a three-part canon, and material that encompasses some of the earliest non-polyphony. We’ll also perform works by great Renaissance and Baroque masters, Victoria and Guerrero. And there’s work by Villa-Lobos, whose choral music is popular in Latin America but not so much here. It was part of his music program in Brazil at midcentury. Then we have two pieces by a living composer, [Spanish Basque] Javier Busto, a physician, whose music has become popular in Europe and is making headway here.” 

The second half of the program “will be more folk-oriented, though we’ll do four pieces by Mexican pianist and composer Max Lipschitz, which are much more influenced by European music. We have a piece from Bolivia in the Aymara language, spoken by about a million people in the highlands. It took weeks to find someone to translate it for the program—just last week, in fact. We’re very excited to have gotten our hands on these unpublished pieces.” 

Closing the show will be the Navidad nuestra of Argentinian composer Arieo Ramirez. “It’s in six movements, telling the Nativity story,” Dr. Seeman noted. “Ramirez is best-known for his Missa criolla of the 1960s. He incorporates Argentinian rhythms and dances. We’re accompanied by the Venezuelian ensemble V-Note, who do a beautiful job. The program spans the gamut!” 

On the range of music, from medieval to modern and contemporary, Dr. Seeman said, “It’s definitely a risk-taking group. I want to get them to sing well in a variety of styles, from Renaissance to 20th century, with difficult tonality, to try to get a cross-current.” 

Dr. Seeman remarked how Sacred and Profane “focuses on programming diversity in subject matter. We want to make it exciting but educative. Not the potpourri approach, of unrelated snippets with a little poetic theme, but programming that’s musical, substantive. I often feel some choirs program down to their audiences, but people like to feel involved, people like to be challenged.” 



Presented by Sacred and Profane at 8 p. m. Friday at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, 2300 Bancroft Way. $15-$20. www.sacredandprofane.org.

Oakland PEN Awards

Thursday December 03, 2009 - 09:11:00 AM

Oakland PEN will present the 19th Annual Josephine Miles Literary Awards for 2009 from 3–6 p.m. Sunday at Anna’s Jazz Island, 2120 Allston Way to Doren Robbins, Charles L. Robinson and Al Young, Herbert Gold, Janice Blue, E. Paolo Caruso, and Richard Bruce Nugent—as well as Reginald Lockett Lifetime Achievement Awards to A. D. Winans, Harriet Rohmer and Kristen Lattiny, and the Censorship Award to Jefferson Morley. A brief reading by the winners and reception will follow. Free admission. 

Golden Thread Presents ReOrient, an Annual Festival of One-Act Plays

By Ken Bullock, Special to the Planet
Thursday December 03, 2009 - 12:09:00 PM

ReOrient, Golden Thread’s annual festival of one-acts about Middle Eastern identity, is celebrating its 10th anniversary, Thursday through Saturday nights and Sunday late afternoons through Dec. 13 at the Thick House on San Francisco’s Potrero Hill.  

For the anniversary, the festival will feature the ReOrient Forum, daytimes, Dec. 5 and 6, with panels on theater and identity politics, peace-building and intercultural artistic exchange, chaired by notables, such as playwright Philip Kan Gotanda; a book launch for Salam.Peace: An Anthology of Middle Eastern American Drama, a first-ever collection; an art exhibit, ASWAT Arabic music ensemble, Ballet Afsaneh (with live music), an interactive art exhibit, a birthday bash--and a new Internet play performance: Yussef El Guidi’s The Review, with the playwright himself in Cairo, asking his “girlfriend” in San Francisco what she thinks about his work--and getting more than he bargained for (but everyone’s a critic!), directed by Hafiz Karmali.  

Plays, directors and performers of previous years have been brought back for the anniversary, some playing better than ever.  

Highlights among the plays include: Naomi Wallace’s play, No Such Cold Thing, which opens on a lingering reunion between two Afghan sisters, ready to leave the war-torn country, then, ever more dreamlike, introduces an American soldier waking up, thinking he’s back at home, encountering the sisters. Who is in whose dream? Bella Warda directed Nora El Samahy, Sara Razavi and Basel Al-Naffouri; Coming Home, by Israeli playwright Motti Lerner (who will speak with the audience after the show Dec. 5), of a soldier’s leave among uncomprehending parents and girlfriend, directed by Mark Routhier, with a particularly good cast: Raffi Wartanian, Charles Isen, Leah Herman and Maryam Farnaz Rostami; two plays by Golden Thread founder Torange Yeghiazarian, Call Me Mehdi, a comedy en boudoir, with Ahou Tabibzadeh and George Psarras chewing over intercultural jokes and love, and Abaga, directed by Karmali, with Wartanian, Suraya Keating, Vida Ghahremani, Isen, Dina  

Mousawi and Psarras as displaced people of three generations, all nationalities, trying to find those elusive things, peace and love, in the Middle East of the early-mid-20th century, and The Monologist Suffers Her Monologue, with sara Razavi, directed by Arlene Hood, in Al-Guindi’s solo piece about Palestine, unrecognized, reduced to a not-always comic monologue, onstage and off. 

A special treat is Al-Guindi’s adaptation of Chekhov’s A Marriage Proposal, refigured to Egyptian-Americans, with a delightful comic performance by Dina Mousawi, here from London, and a hilariously agonizing, acrobatic turn by Micheal Sommers, trying to pop the question, but juggling everything else but love and marriage, which end up bones of contention, as directed by deft Hafiz Karmali, with a nod or two to V. S. Meyerhold and vaudeville old and new. 

More information at (415) 626-4061 or goldenthread.org  

Golden Thread Stage Live Online International Theater Presentation

By Ken Bullock, Special to the Planet
Tuesday December 08, 2009 - 03:44:00 PM

A male writer wants his girlfriend’s opinion of a story he’s written. The writer is in the States; the woman in question is living in Cairo. The text could be obliquely about their relationship, or at least his attitude about relationships, with Arab women in particular. What are her thoughts? “Be frank, even brutal,” he says. The writer—and lover—is asking for it. 

The audience for Yussef Al-Guindi’s acerbicly funny dialogue, The Review, which premiered at Theatre Artaud during Golden Thread’s ReOrient Forum: Middle East Center Stage last weekend, never saw or heard more than a few tossed-off snippets of Ratib’s story. But they did get the impact of Shadeeyah’s review of story, storyteller—and of his “storytelling” in general—through their hilariously contentious dialogue across borders and time zones. 

But this wasn’t a parody of Love Letters, actors reading from lecterns or sitting across the stage from each other to coyly mimic distance. 

In what could be the first live international theater presentation using the Internet, actors James Asher in San Francisco and Zeinab Magdy in Cairo wrangled face-to-face over Skype, half a world away from each other. And the disparities of distance and culture were writ bold in the stunning immediacy of voice and image. 

“Why are all your stories about the same thing, an Arab woman and an Arab guy, usually a nebbish?” Shadeeyah starts in. Before the end of the call and the play, they’ve delved into sex, politics and culture. “For somebody raised in America, you have a very Middle Eastern view of women! Please don’t dress up your male fantasies in political guise,” she snaps. And he: “In America, the personal is political! For the record, Americans don’t like politics in art. They feel they’re getting preached at.” He refers to his story as a stealthy game, “cleverly putting in what I intend to say, and they think it says nothing!”  

The time difference accents the night and day of their sensibilities. Natib in his bathrobe finally stands up from his laptop to argue hysterically with the enormous projection (in every sense of the word) of Shadeeyah’s face on a screen upstage, his body about the size of her visage. 

A lively conversation over the Internet followed. The playwright, in Cairo, remarked he’d written The Review with an audience seated before a proscenium stage in mind: “but now, on the Internet, with audiences in both places, it’s in the round!” Directors Hafiz Karmali (San Francisco) and Dina Amin (Cairo) spoke about their differences of interpretation. “Yussef has it in the script,” joked Karmali. “It’s all about couples!” 

Golden Thread hopes to put the groundbreaking production on YouTube, and maybe to have it streamed over the Internet to reproduce the theatricality of the long distance interchange. Meanwhile, there’s still another weekend of ReOrient’s tenth anniversary celebration at Thick House on Potrero Hill, with nine short plays in two series. For information call (415) 626-4061 or see www.goldenthread.org.

Community Calendar

Thursday December 03, 2009 - 08:56:00 AM


“The Rebirth of Environmentalism” with author Douglas Bevington of Environment Now, at 7 p.m. at the Ecology Center, 2530 San Pablo Ave. 548-3402. www.ecologycenter.org 

“La Danse: Le Ballet de l’Opera de Paris” Frederick Wiseman's latest documentary at 7 p.m. at Rialto Cinemas Elmwood, 2966 College Ave. at Ashby. Tickets are $20-$50. Benefits the Parachute Fund which provides grants to members of the Bay Area dance community facing HIV/AIDS or other life-threatening illnesses. 415-920-9181. www.dancersgroup.org/benefit.php  

Shu Ren International School Open House A Mandarin immersion program for Pre-K through 3rd grade. From 6:30 to 8 p.m. at 1333 University Ave. 981-0320.  

Legal Document Assistants Who are they, and what can they do to help you? At 6 p.m. at the Alameda County Law Library, 125 12th St., Oakland, Cost is $5. 272-6483. www.acgov.org/law 

Babies and Toddlers Storytime at 10:15 and 11:15 a.m. at the Kensington Library, 61 Arlington Ave., Kensington. 524-3043. 


City Commons Club Noon Luncheon with Mr. Ken LaJoie on “A Geologic Train Ride Down the San Mateo County Coast: The Natural and Unnatural History of a Despoiled Coastline” Luncheon at 11:45 a.m. for $15, speech at 12:30 p.m., at the Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant St. 527-2173.  

Treesit Community 3rd Anniversary Reunion Potluck at 7 p.m. at Berkeley Fellowship UU, 1924 Cedar at Bonita. 547-7486. sunsetmoonrise@riseup.net 

Jingletown Holiday Art Walk opening at 6 p.m. at Gallery 420, 420 Peterson St., between Ford and Glascock sts, Oakland, and continues Sat. and Sun. from 11 a.m. 6 p.m. between the Park and Fruitvale St. bridges. 

CAB+ Holiday Ceramic Art Show Ceramic artists from Berkeley and the bay area from 5 to 10 p.m. at Leslie Ceramic Supply, 1212 San Pablo Ave. 524-7363. 

Meditation I: practice of the body at 7 p.m. at Center for Transformative Change, 2584 Martin Luther King Jr Way. snipurl.com/fearlessmeditation1 

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 


“Power Trip - Theatrically Berkeley” A film on the green movement in Berkeley at 7 p.m. at Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists, 1924 Cedar St. http://powertripberkeley.com 

UC Regents’ Lecture with Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia founder, at 7:30 p.m. at 150 Stanley Hall, UC campus. free. 495-3505. bcnm.berkeley.edu 

Rabbit Rescue Craft, Gift and Food Fair with proceeds supporting rabbit rescue and adoption efforts, from noon to 4 p.m. at RabbitEars, 377 Colusa Ave., Kensington. 525-6155. www.rabbitears.org 

Berkeley Farmers’ Market Holiday Fair, with music, crafts and organic produce and lunches, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Civic Center Park, Center St. at Martin Luther King, Jr. Way. www.ecologycenter.org 

Berkeley Artisans Open Studios Sat. and Sun. from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. For map see www.berkeleyartisans.com 

Heyday Holiday Open House and book sale from noon to 4 p.m. at Heyday Books, 1633 University Ave. 549-3564, ext. 316. 

Chaat and Chats with Authors and Artists: A Holiday Fair from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Taste of the Himalayas, 1700 Shattuck Ave. at Virginia. http://chaatandchats.com 

Shibumi Artists Holiday Group Show from 5 to 8 p.m. at 1402 Fifth St. www.shibumigallery.com 

Holidays at Dunsmuir Walk back in time through a beautifully decorated mansion, enjoy live holiday music, have breakfast with Father Christmas at 2960 Peralta Oaks Court, Oakland. Weekends though Dec. 20. For details see www.dunsmuir.org 

Pie, Chai & Art Please join us for refreshments and sale of art and jewelry created by homeless children, adults from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at 1208 Peralta Ave. To RSVP or for more information 649-1930. 

Jingletown Holiday Art Walk Sat. and Sun. from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. between the Park and Fruitvale Street bridges bordered by the estuary separating Oakland from the island of Alameda. www.jingletown.org 

World of Good Fair Trade Warehouse Sale Half of proceeds will be donated to the non-profit, World of Good Development. Sat. and Sun. 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 6315 Doyle St. Emeryville. 

Unity of Berkeley Gala Gift Sale with music and prizes Sat. from noon to 4 p.m., Sun. from noon to 3 p.m. at 2401 Le Conte at Scenic Ave. 849-8160. 

AK Press’ Annual Winter Warehouse Sale from 4 to 10 p.m. at 674 23rd St., between MLK and San Pablo, Oakland. 

Lighten Up Family workshop to make a candle holder from wood, tin and paints, Sat. and Sun. 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  

Santa on Solano Sat. and Sun. from noon to 4 p.m. at Harmonique Home & Garden, 1820 Solano Ave. 527-5358.  

Close the Farm Say goodnight to the animals from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. at the Little Farm, Tilden Park. 544-2233. 

Game Day at the Albany Library with board and Wii games from 1 to 4 p.m. at The Albany Library, 1247 Marin Ave., Albany. 526-3720. 

“Get Sharp: The Cutting Edge Food” with local food writers at 1 p.m. at The Pasta Shop, 1786 Fourth St. 250-6004. 

Red Cross Blood Drive from 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Corpus Christie Church Gymnasium, 322 St. James Dr., Piedmont. To schedule an appointment go to www.helpsavealife.org 

Red Cross Blood Drive from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Calvary Christian Center, multi-purpose room, 1516 Grand St., Alameda. To schedule an appointment go to www.helpsavealife.org 

Political Affairs Readers Group will discuss “Socialism is the Future, Build It Now” from 10 a.m. to noon at Niebyl-Proctor Marxist Library for Social Research, 6501 Telegraph Ave. 595-7417. www.marxistlibr.org 

Rollercoaster Movies 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. 

Free Garden Tours at Regional Parks Botanic Garden Sat. at 2 p.m. and Sun. at 11 a.m. and 2 pm. Regional Parks Botanic Garden, Tilden Park. Call to confirm. 841-8732. www.nativeplants.org 

Lawn Bowling on the green at the corner of Acton St. and Bancroft Way every Wed. and Sat. at 10 a.m. for ages 12 and up. Wear flat soled shoes, no heels. Free lessons. 841-2174.  


Urban Drought Solutions: Greywater, Rainwater Catchment, Earthworks a workshop at Berkeley’s Ecohouse. Cost is $10-$15. Pre-registration required. 548-2220, ext. 239. www.ecologycenter.org 

Berkeley Path Wanderers: Ft. Winfield Scott and the Presidio Walk. Follow Adah Bakalinsky's route from Stairway Walks in San Francisco to explore this lovely historic part of the Presidio. Meet at 11 a.m. at Barnard Hall, 1330 Kobbe Ave., San Francisco. 520-3876. www.berkeleypaths.org 

Fireside Nature Stories with Lindsey Sanders at 10:30 a.m. at the Tilden Nature Center, Tilden Park. 544-2233. 

Intergenerational Story Circle “Ancestral Stories Carried Forward” Share your stories from 12:15 to 1:30 p.m. at Berkeley Fellowship UU, 1924 Cedar at Bonita. 841-4824. www.bfuu.org 

Holiday Decorations - Naturally Create wreaths, garlands and other seasonal decorations using natural materials, from noon to 3:30 pm. at Tilden Nature Center. Bring clippers, a large, flat box, and a bag lunch. Not appropriate for children under eight. Cost is $25-$51. Registration required. 1-888-327-2757. 

Richmond Art Center Annual Holiday Arts and Music Festival from noon to 5 p.m. at 2540 Barrett Ave., at 25th St. Richmond. 620-6772. www.therichmondartcenter.org 

Congregation Beth El Chaunukah Bazaar with menorahs, candles, dreidels, gelt, decorations, games, books, jewelry from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 1301 Oxford St. 526-4917. 

Chanukah Sing-Along and Fair from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. at Congregation Netivot Shalom, 1316 University Ave. Cost is $4 for ages 12 and under, $14 for others. www.brownpapertickets.com 

East Bay Hella Free Day Give what you can, take what you need and everyone gets what they want from noon to 4 p.m. at the northside of Lake Merritt at the collanade near the Grand Lake Theater. eastbayfs@gmail.com 

“The Camera and Eye” A free photography workshop offered by Treve Johnson from 1:30 to 3 p.m. at Albany Public Library, Edith Stone Room. Bring your camera, your camera manual, and some of your photos that you like. 841-0905. 

Berkeley Treesit Lawyers’ Benefit with music and speakers from 4 to 9 p.m. at 924 Gilman. 848-2040. 

JYCA Program Info Session for High School Aged Teens Learn about joining Jewish Youth for Community Action. All high school aged youth are welcome, from noon to 2 p.m. at Kehilla Synagogue, 1300 Grand Ave., Piedmont. jycajenny@gmail.com 

Personal Theology Seminars with John McNally on “Fear of Dying: Is it Justified?” at 10 a.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley, 1 Lawson Rd., Kensington. 525-0302. 

Tibetan Buddhism with Sylvia Gretchen on “An Awakened Vision of Being” at 6 p.m. at the Tibetan Nyingma Institute, 1815 Highland Pl. 809-1000.  


North Berkeley Safeway Expansion Plans will be discussed at 7 p.m. at the Jewish Community Center, 1414 Walnut St. 849-4811. 

Protest at Chevron Headquarters “Our Climate Is Not Your Business!” at 7 a.m. at Chevron Headquarters, 6001 Bollinger Canyon Road, San Ramon. Sponsored by Mobilization for Climate Justice – West. actforclimatejustice.org/west  

Free Drop-in Knitting Group from 3:15 to 5:15 p.m. at the Albany Library, 1247 Marin Ave., at Masonic. 526-3720. 

East Bay Track Club for ages 3-14 meets at 6 p.m. at the running track of Berkeley High School. For more information call Coach Walker at 776-7451. 


Tuesdays for the Birds Tranquil bird walks in local parklands, led by Bethany Facendini, from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m. Today we will visit Brunner Marsh in Point Pinole Regional Shoreline. Bring water, field guides, binoculars or scopes. Call for meeting place and if you need to borrow binoculars. 544-3265. 

California Colloquium on Water “The Espace de Liberté: Managing with River Processes” with Hérve Piégay at 5:30 p.m. at Goldman School of Public Policy, Rm. 250, UC campus. waterarc@library.berkeley.edu 

Researching & Selecting Green Products with Ann Blake, Ph.D., Environmental & Public Health Consulting at 5:30 p.m. in the Tilden Room, MLK Student Union, UC campus. sustainablebiz.org 

“Landlord – Tenant Law” presented by Katherine Vernon Ryan, at noon at The Alameda County Law Library, 125 Twelfth Street, Oakland. Cost is $10-$15. To register call 272-6483. 

“Celebration of Noise!” in opposition to the city and university policies, from 5 to 7 p.m. on the front steps of Old City Hall right before the next City Council meeting. BYOPP: Bring your own pots and pans! 845-6441. 

Red Cross Blood Services Volunteer Orientation from 6 to 8 p.m. at 6230 Claremont Ave., Oakland. Registration required. 594-5165. 

Red Cross Blood Drive from noon to 6 p.m. at West Pauley Ballroom, MLK Studetn Union, UC campus. To schedule an appointment go to www.helpsavealife.org 

Tuesday Tilden Walkers Join a few slowpoke seniors at 9:30 a.m. in the parking lot near the Little Farm for an hour or two walk. 215-7672, 524-9992. 

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 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. We always welcome new members over 50. 845-6830. 


Claremont Branch Library Project will be discussed at 7 p.m. at the Board of Library Trustees regular meeting, at Central Library, 2090 Kittredge St. 3rd floor, Community Meeting Room 981-6195. www.berkeleypubliclibrary.org. 

Bus Rapid Transit: Local Preferred Alternative will be discussed at the Planning Commission at 6 p.m. at North Berkeley Senior Center, 1901 Hearst. 

Berkeley-East Bay Gray Panthers with Ted Roszak on “The Making of the Elder Culture” and Holiday Party afterwards at 1:30 p.m. at North Berkeley Senior Center, 1901 Hearst, corner of MLK. 486-8010. 

“Ocean World” An episode of Blue Planet, narrated by David Attenborough, at 7:30 p.m. at Humanist Hall, 390 27th St., Oakland. Donation $5. www.Humanist Hall.org 

Richmond Main Street Holiday Festival with arts and crafts and entertainment from 10 a.m. to noon, for pre-schoolers and kindergarteners, and 5 to 7 p.m. for the community at large, at Nevin Park and Community Center 598 Nevin Ave., Richmond. www.richmondmainstreet.org 

Free Community Prostate Cancer Screening from 3 to 6 p.m. at Alta Bates Summit Comprehensive Cancer Center, 2001 Dwight Way. Appointments are required. 869-8833. 

Sudden Oak Death Preventative Treatment Training Session Meet at 1 p.m. at Tolman Hall “portico” Hearst Ave. at Arch/Leconte, UC campus for a two hour field session, rain or shine. Pre-registration required. SODtreatment@nature.berkeley.edu 

One-on-one Computer Training Sign up for a free 30 min session at the Albany Library, 1247 Marin Ave., at Masonic. 526-3720, ext. 5. 

Family Sing Along at 4:40 p.m. at the Albany Library, 1247 Marin Ave., at Masonic. 526-3720. 

Poetry Writing Workshop at 7 p.m. at the Albany Library, 1247 Marin Ave., at Masonic. 526-3720. 

Free Acupuncture Treatments in honor of Bay Area acupuncture pioneer Miriam Lee from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Sarana Community Acupuncture, 968 San Pablo Ave., Albany and several other Bay Area community acupuncture clinics. For appointment call 526-5056. 

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. 


Walkers Age 50+ Waterfront Bird Walk meet at 9 a.m. at Sea Breeze Deli, 598 University Ave. Dress for all weather, bring binoculars if you have them. Pre-registration required. Call 524-9122. 

Berkeley Historical Society “A Bouquet of Boutique Hotels” Visit three local hotels all decorated for the holidays, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. For reservations and starting point call 848-0181. 

Berkeley School Volunteers, New Volunteer Orientation from 10 to 11 a.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. 

East Bay Mac Users Group with Joe Bauder on holiday gift ideas at 7 p.m. at Expression College for Digital Arts, 6601 Shellmound St., Emeryville. ebmug.org 

Babies and Toddlers Storytime at 10:15 and 11:15 a.m. at the Kensington Library, 61 Arlington Ave., Kensington. 524-3043. 

“Thinking Grande!” a documentary about a Mexican immigrant with big dreams, at 7:30 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $10. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

Holiday Night Market from 5 to 10 p.m. at Jack London Square. www.jacklondonsquare.com 

Red Cross Blood Drive from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Oakland Federal Bldg., Conference room H, 1301 Clay St., Oakland. To schedule an appointment go to www.helpsavealife.org 

Community Yoga Class: Gentle Yoga, Thurs. at 10 a.m. at James Kenney Parks and Recreation Center, 8th St. and Virginia. Cost is $6. Mats provided. 207-4501. 


City Commons Club Noon Luncheon with Ms. Janice King on “Mae West—Diamond Lill” Luncheon at 11:45 a.m. for $15, speech at 12:30 p.m., at the Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant St. For information and reservations call 527-2173.  

Solstice Celebration in Song An evening of participatory singing, at 7:15 p.m. at First Congregational Church of Berkeley, small assembly room, 2345 Channing Way. All welcome. Suggested donation $15-$20. betsy@betsyrosemusic.org 

Climate Change Vigil Join us for a candlelight vigil and bike ride to demand action, not just words, at the UN Climate Conference in Copenhagen at 5:45 p.m. at the Downtown Berkeley BART, followed by bike ride through Berkeley at 6:15 p.m. www.350.org/node/13250 

Holiday Night Market from 5 to 10 p.m. at Jack London Square. www.jacklondonsquare.com 

The Bubble Lady with bubble tricks for the whole family at 11 a.m. at Studio Grow, 1235 10th St. Cost is $9. 526-9888. 

Berkeley Women in Black weekly vigil from noon to 1 p.m. at Bancroft and Telegraph. Our focus is human rights in Palestine. 548-6310. 

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


Berkeley Farmers’ Market Holiday Fair, with music, crafts and organic produce and lunches, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Civic Center Park, Center St. at Martin Luther King, Jr. Way. www.ecologycenter.org 

Telegraph Avenue Holiday Street Fair Sat. and Sun. from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., with music, street artists, merchants and community groups, on Telegraph between Bancroft and Dwight. 

Small Critter Adoption and Toy Making Fair Learn how to make toys for your pet bunny, guinea pig, hamster, rat or mouse, or for shelter animals, from 1 to 4 p.m. at RabbitEars, 377 Colusa Ave., Kensington. 525-6155. www.rabbitears.org 

Berkeley Artisans Open Studios Sat. and Sun. from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.. Fo map see www.berkeleyartisans.com 

Holidays at Dunsmuir Walk back in time through a beautifully decorated mansion, enjoy live holiday music, have breakfast with Father Christmas at 2960 Peralta Oaks Court, Oakland. Weekends though Dec. 20. For details see www.dunsmuir.org 

“Iu Mien at Peralta Hacienda” Exhibit Opening with the traditions of the Mien people and their gardens and embroidery from 2 to 4 p.m. at Oakland Antonio Peralta House, 2465 34th Ave., Oakland. www.peraltahacienda.org 

Jingletown Holiday Art Walk Sat. and Sun. from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. between the Park and Fruitvale Street bridges bordered by the estuary separating Oakland from the island of Alameda. www.jingletown.org 

Candy Cottages Family workshop 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  

Santa on Solano Sat. and Sun. from noon to 4 p.m. at Albany Chamber of Commerce, 1108 Solano Ave. 527-5358. 

Friends of Faith Fancher Holiday Celebration with entertainment and silent auction, from 4 to 7 p.m. at 95 Castle Park Way, Oakland. Cost is $100. www.faithfancher.org 

Close the Farm Say goodnight to the animals from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. at the Little Farm, Tilden Park. 544-2233. 

The East Bay Chapter of The Great War Society meets to discuss “US Nurses in WWI” by Jolie Velazquez at 10:30 a.m. in the Albany Veterans Bldg, 1325 Portland Ave. Albany. All welcome. 527-7118. 

“Who Killed the Electric Car?” A documentary film by Chris Paine, followed by discussion, at 11 a.m. at the Rialto Cerito Cinema, 10070 San Pablo Ave. 292-0853. 

Free Garden Tours at Regional Parks Botanic Garden Sat. at 2 p.m. and Sun. at 11 a.m. and 2 pm. Regional Parks Botanic Garden, Tilden Park. Call to confirm. 841-8732. www.nativeplants.org 

Lawn Bowling on the green at the corner of Acton St. and Bancroft Way every Wed. and Sat. at 10 a.m. for ages 12 and up. Wear flat soled shoes, no heels. Free lessons. 841-2174.  


Joel ben Izzy Tells Chanukah Tales at 3 p.m. at Netivot Shalom, 1316 University Ave. Proceeds benefit Easy Does It Emergency Services which provides crucial assistance to the Berkeley disability community. Tickets are sliding scale children $7-$10 and adults $10-$18 available at the door or online www.brownpapertickets.com 

Holiday Decorations - Naturally Create wreaths, garlands and other easonal decorations using natural materials, from noon to 3:30 pm. at Tilden Nature Center. Bring clippers, a large, flat box, and a bag lunch. Not appropriate for children under eight. Cost is $25-$51. Registration required. 1-888-327-2757. 

Waterside Workshops Holiday Event and Toy-Making Workshop Come on down to our workshop for hands-on activities, make your own wooden toy, live local music, food, and fun for people of all ages, from 1 to 5 p.m. at 84 Bolivar Drive, in Berkeley’s Aquatic Park. Suggested donation $5. 644-2577. www.watersideworkshops.org 

Hanging Around Art Family workshop to make ornaments and decorations 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  

Holiday Tree Trim with craft projects for chidren age 5 and up from 3 to 4:30 p.m. at Kensington Library, 61 Arlington Ave. 524-3043. 

Ornament Making and sing-along from 1 to 3 p.m. at Expressions Gallery, 2035 Ashby Ave. 644-4930. www.expressionsgallrey.org 

Community Celebration of Light: Making Hanukah Meaningful from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Jewish Community Center of the East Bay, 1414 Walnut St. 848-0237. prod.jcceastbay.org 

“Mountain Top Removal” A film and discussion on the coal industry in West Virginia at 7 p.m. at Berkeley Fellowship UU, 1924 Cedar at Bonita. Requested donation $5-$10. 841-4824. www.bfuu.org 

Fabulous Fungus Explore different ways to identify major mushroom families and learn what types of fungus grows in Tilden, from 2 to 3 p.m. at Tilden Nature Center, Tilden Park. 544-2233. 

Old Time Radio East Bay Collectors and listeners gather to enjoy shows together at 4 p.m. at a private home in Berkeley. For more information please email DavidinBerkeley, at Yahoo. 

Personal Theology Seminars with Kendra Smith on “Cultivating Loving Kindness (Metta): a Traditional Buddhist Practice” at 10 a.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley, 1 Lawson Rd., Kensington. 525-0302, ext. 306. 

Super Second Sunday at the Cooperative Grocery, with tea, cider and cookies, from 5 to 7 p.m. at 1450 67th St., at Hollis. www.thecog.org 

Free Garden Tours at Regional Parks Botanic Garden in Tilden Park Sat. at 2 p.m. and Sun. at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Call to confirm. 841-8732. www.nativeplants.org 

Lake Merritt Neighbors Organized for Peace Peace walk around the lake every Sun. Meet at 3 p.m. at the colonnade at the NE end of the lake. 763-8712. lmno4p.org 

Tibetan Buddhism with Betty Cook on “Maps to Enlightenment” at 6 p.m. at the Tibetan Nyingma Institute, 1815 Highland Pl. 809-1000. www.nyingmainstitute.com 


Volunteers Needed for United Way’s Earn It! Keep It! Save It! The Bay Area’s largest, free tax-assistance program, is now recruiting volunteers to serve as greeters, language interpreters and tax preparers for the 2010 tax season. Training begins in November, and free tax sites will open in late January. No previous tax preparation experience is necessary. There is a special need for volunteers who can speak Spanish. Register at www.earnitkeepitsaveit.org 800-358-8832.