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Mark Coplan
          Berkeley’s second annual A Walk for Change in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday drew a modest crowd due to threatening weather.  The group had planned to drive the mile route from Jefferson Elementary School to King Middle School this year, but a break in the rain allowed them to walk. At King, about 75 students, parents and school staff sat in the auditorium and listened to King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Organizers pointed to the empty chairs, where about 300 people had sat a year before, asking, “Where are you, on this special day of remembrance?” and encouraged the audience to go back to their communities and ask the same question.
Mark Coplan
Mark Coplan Berkeley’s second annual A Walk for Change in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday drew a modest crowd due to threatening weather. The group had planned to drive the mile route from Jefferson Elementary School to King Middle School this year, but a break in the rain allowed them to walk. At King, about 75 students, parents and school staff sat in the auditorium and listened to King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Organizers pointed to the empty chairs, where about 300 people had sat a year before, asking, “Where are you, on this special day of remembrance?” and encouraged the audience to go back to their communities and ask the same question.


Bank Robbery Suspect Arrested After Brief Foot Chase

Bay City News
Tuesday January 26, 2010 - 02:50:00 PM

A 34-year-old Oakland man is in custody today after being arrested on suspicion of robbing a bank in Berkeley on Monday afternoon, police said today. 

Officers responded to a report of a robbery at the Mechanics Bank in the 2300 block of Shattuck Avenue at about 1:40 p.m. 

The officers arrived in about two minutes and, after talking with witnesses and bank staff, broadcast the suspect’s description including the direction in which he fled, police said. 

Several minutes later, the suspect, later identified as Antoine Heath, was spotted on Allston Way near Shattuck Avenue. He ran but was taken into custody after a brief foot chase, police said.

City Council to Ask Iran to Release UC Hikers

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Tuesday January 26, 2010 - 11:15:00 AM

The Berkeley City Council may join the fight to free three UC Berkeley graduates detained in Iran. The council will consider tonight (Tuesday, Jan. 26) whether to send a letter urging Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to release the trio. 

Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd and Josh Fattal were reportedly hiking in Kurdish Iraq last July when they crossed into Iranian territory and were arrested. 

Although their families have maintained that the three entered Iran by mistake, Iranian government officials are holding them on espionage charges. 

The case has received widespread media attention, with a number of celebrities stepping forward to rally for their freedom. 

Councilmember Kriss Worthington introduced the item on the agenda. 

“Berkeley has traditionally been a peace-loving city," Worthington said. "It was the first city in the United States to oppose military intervention in Iran in 2007 and oppose the bombings of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq during the Bush administration. We have a long record of respecting Islamic nations and their rights. However, we do not agree with the decision to further detain these three young Americans, though it is well within the rights of Iran to do so.” 

Worthington, who consulted with the students’ families and the State Department before drafting the letter, said he hopes the Iranian government would listen to the City Council. 

“Mr. President, this letter is to formally plead that you do everything in your power to achieve maximum leniency for Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd, and Josh Fattal from the Judiciary System,” Worthington’s letter says, in English as well as Farsi. “We greatly appreciate your generous comment at the United Nations General Assembly in September that you would ‘ask…that the judiciary [in Iran expedite] the process and…look at the case with maximum leniency.’ The City Council of Berkeley, California, is deeply concerned for the welfare of these three U.S. citizens recently detained in Iran.” 

The letter also asks Ahmadinejad to allow the trio to communicate with their families, something which family members complained the Iranian government has not been allowing. 


Affordable housing policies in light of Palmer decision 

The Berkeley City Council will vote on whether to ask the city manager to consider three new affordable housing policies in light of a recent court decision which essentially wipes out the inclusionary housing requirement statewide. 

A ruling in Palmer/Sixth Street Properties vs. City of Los Angeles found that inclusionary zoning programs that require affordable units for rental housing violate the Costa-Hawkins Act. 

As a result, the council, like other local governing bodies across the state, is exploring ways to craft policy that will encourage affordable housing.  

Some of the things the city is investigating include an affordable housing mitigation fee, a special tax and revisions to the density bonus program or zoning regulations to encourage affordable housing.  

  The council could also vote to ask state lawmakers to adopt legislation responding to the court decision. 

A report from the city’s Housing Director Jane Micallef estimates that about 170 California jurisdictions with inclusionary zoning laws will be affected by the Palmer decision. 

San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors adopted a resolution last month urging the state Legislature to amend the Costa Hawkins Act by exempting local inclusionary zoning ordinances. 


Panoramic Hill zoning 

The City Council will vote on whether to change the zoning ordinance for Panoramic Hill in order to curb development in an area that already has the most stringent residential standards in the city’s zoning code. 

A staff report from city Planing Director Dan Marks says that although Panoramic Hill’s steep topography and location in a high fire-hazard zone close to the Hayward Fault resulted in strong regulation, new homes and additional bedrooms have been built or approved over the years, “accommodating more residents on the Hill and putting them at risk.” 

The report also lists the expansion of UC Berkeley's Memorial Stadium and the university’s Long Range Development Plan, which proposes to extend Lawrence Berkeley National Lab over the next two decades, as some of the reasons for changing the existing zoning ordinance. 

On June 17, 2008, the City Council imposed a moratorium on most new development and additions, which was extended to June 2010. 

A number of meetings were held in 2009 to incorporate concerns of Panoramic Hill residents, but according to Marks’ report, the fundamental premise for the zoning amendments has always remained the same: to adopt rigid standards curtailing development on the hill to minimize risk until concerns regarding its current infrastructure are addressed. 

One of the requirements in the revised ordinance mandate creating a new parking space if a homeowner wants to rent out a room on his property. Although the requirement of parking spaces for the rental of rooms to boarders is currently in the zoning ordinance, the revised ordinance clarifies parking requirements and attaches them explicitly to any room that can be used for sleeping. 

The Berkeley City Council is scheduled to meet at 7 p.m. tonight (Tuesday, Jan. 26) at Old City Hall, 2134 MLK Jr. Way. 

Private School, Developer Threaten Lawsuit Over Proposed West Berkeley Cannabis Clinic

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Tuesday January 26, 2010 - 11:12:00 AM

Wareham Development has threatened to sue the City of Berkeley if it allows a cannabis clinic to move into the old Scharffen Berger building in West Berkeley. 

When a flurry of e-mails from Wareham and Ecole Bilingue—a non-profit French American school which serves 500 children, from preschool to eighth grade, about a block away from the proposed site—descended upon the Berkeley City Council last week complaining about the detrimental effect of the proposed project on their businesses, the council decided to discuss the issue at a closed-session hearing Tuesday. 

Both Wareham and Ecole Bilingue allege that the project would violate various state and federal laws if it moved forward. 

Although a Berkeley city ordinance—Measure JJ, passed by Berkeley voters in 2008—prohibits medical marijuana dispensaries within 1,000 feet of a public school, it does not apply to private schools or preschools. 

Aquatic Park Preschool is also located close to the project site. 

“We believe that this must simply have been an oversight by the authors of the law,” said Jennifer Monahan, a spokesperson for Ecole Bilingue. “We can’t imagine any other reason why the authors would draft an ordinance that protects some children but not others—especially since it is at odds with both state and federal law, which protects all schools, public and private.” 

Monahan said she hoped that the council would sort out the omission of private schools and preschools over the next few days. 

Lynn Van Housen, chair of Ecole Bilingue’s Board of Trustees, wrote in a letter to the City Council that there is evidence to suggest that most voters overlooked the discrepancy in protection offered to public schools versus other schools. 

Van Housen said that nothing summarizing Measure JJ on the ballot or arguing in favor of it indicated that it would “technically allow medical marijuana dispensaries to operate next to private schools and daycare centers.” 

“In other words, it was never brought to the attention of Berkeley voters that medical marijuana dispensaries had to be located 1,000 feet from some schools, but not others,” Van Housen said. “The only way to learn about the discrepancy between public and private schools in this measure is to read the full 10-page text of the ballot measure—something which, even in a city with a strong tradition of voter involvement, relatively few people take the time to do.” 

Van Housen indicated that the school might be forced to take legal action if the relocation took place. 

Calls to Berkeley City Attorney Zach Cowan for comment were not returned by press time. 

When Ecole Bilingue’s business manager Antoine Portales asked city Planning Director Dan Marks in an e-mail why a cannabis clinic was being allowed in a mixed-use light industrial district in which medical practitioners and retail businesses are not normally allowed to operate, Marks responded that Berkeley citizens had adopted an initiative that “allows such dispensaries to be located anywhere in the City of Berkeley where retail uses are not prohibited.”   

“While retail uses are not generally allowed in the zoning district in which the proposed dispensary is to be located, they are also not prohibited,” Marks wrote, adding that the same initiative allowed the use “by-right,” eliminating the need for a use permit or public hearing. 

In a Jan. 19 letter to the Berkeley city attorney, Wareham attorney Anne Shimko warned that the proposed clinic would “impede ongoing efforts to attract new development in the area.” 

Shimko informed Cowan that the City Council had the authority to amend the language in Measure JJ to prohibit medical marijuana clinics near private schools and day care centers. 

Calls and e-mails to Wareham for comment were not returned by press time. 

Debbie Doldsberry, a spokesperson for Berkeley Patients Group, which has operated out of 2747 San Pablo Ave. for the last decade, said the idea of relocating a few blocks down to the former chocolate factory was still in the pipeline. 

“That’s one of the relocation sites we have considered in Berkeley,” Doldsberry said, declining to go into specifics. “We are flushing out the complaints. We want to do a lot of listening and find out what the concerns are. We have not completed our application to the city yet. The process is still developing.” 

Doldsberry pointed to the clinic’s impeccable record, and the fact that it was hailed by the Berkeley City Council as a “national model” for developing best practices in dispensing medical marijuana, including the sale of mold- and pesticide-free pot, its charitable work in the community and being strong advocates for medical marijuana. 

More than 8,500 Bay Area residents are members of the clinic. 

The City Council even named Oct. 31 as Berkeley Patients Group Day to celebrate its 10th anniversary last year. 

“Once we look at everyones concerns and match that with our history, I think we’ll have a win-win situation,” Doldsberry said. 

Monahan pointed out that while the school wasn’t opposed to medical marijuana per se, it was reasonable to expect that all children have the same protection under the law. 

“The issue is more about parity,” she said. “There’s a loophole and we are caught in the middle of it.” 

The Berkeley City Council is scheduled to meet in closed session at 6 p.m. today (Tuesday, Jan. 26) at Old City Hall, 2134 MLK Jr. Way. The session will be followed by the council's regular 7 p.m. meeting. 

Walk for Change

Thursday January 21, 2010 - 09:05:00 AM
Mark Coplan
              Berkeley’s second annual A Walk for Change in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday drew a modest crowd due to threatening weather.  The group had planned to drive the mile route from Jefferson Elementary School to King Middle School this year, but a break in the rain allowed them to walk. At King, about 75 students, parents and school staff sat in the auditorium and listened to King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Organizers pointed to the empty chairs, where about 300 people had sat a year before, asking, “Where are you, on this special day of remembrance?” and encouraged the audience to go back to their communities and ask the same question.
Mark Coplan
Mark Coplan Berkeley’s second annual A Walk for Change in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday drew a modest crowd due to threatening weather. The group had planned to drive the mile route from Jefferson Elementary School to King Middle School this year, but a break in the rain allowed them to walk. At King, about 75 students, parents and school staff sat in the auditorium and listened to King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Organizers pointed to the empty chairs, where about 300 people had sat a year before, asking, “Where are you, on this special day of remembrance?” and encouraged the audience to go back to their communities and ask the same question.

Berkeley’s second annual A Walk for Change in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday drew a modest crowd due to threatening weather. The group had planned to drive the mile route from Jefferson Elementary School to King Middle School this year, but a break in the rain allowed them to walk. At King, about 75 students, parents and school staff sat in the auditorium and listened to King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Organizers pointed to the empty chairs, where about 300 people had sat a year before, asking, “Where are you, on this special day of remembrance?” and encouraged the audience to go back to their communities and ask the same question.  

Berkeleyans Contribute To Haiti Disaster Relief

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday January 21, 2010 - 09:08:00 AM
AAMURT volunteers Michael Romani and Dinali Abeysekera are coordinating the organization’s relief efforts
Michael Howerton
AAMURT volunteers Michael Romani and Dinali Abeysekera are coordinating the organization’s relief efforts

Berkeley is doing its part to bring relief to disaster-struck Haiti in the aftermath of the Jan. 12 earthquake that crippled the Caribbean nation, killing tens of thousands.  

Two members of the Berkeley Fire Department have already been deployed to Haiti to assist with relief efforts. 

Berkeley firefighter Michael Sullivan was dispatched as a volunteer member of the Disaster Medical Assistance Team 6 to assist with disaster medical response, and firefighter Seth Zweben was sent as a member of the California Air National Guard 131st Rescue Squadron. 

East Bay residents are joining the cause however they can, raising funds here at home or providing food and medical supplies in Haiti.  

“I heard about it half an hour after the earthquake happened and my heart just sank,” said Margaret Trost, founder and executive director of the What If? Foundation at 1563 Solano Ave., which has partnered with St. Clare’s Church in Haiti to provide impoverished children with meals for the last decade. “I know from being in Port-au-Prince how fragile the homes are, how fragile the infrastructure is. I have never seen an ambulance or a fire truck. There’s no 911 to call, there is only one doctor for every 10,000 people. Most of the houses are essentially cinder blocks, built by hand.”  

Footage of the aftermath shows miles and miles of destruction, with the presidential palace, hospitals and schools in shambles. Monetary damage is likely in the billions. A strong aftershock hit Port-au-Prince Wednesday. 

“Most Haitians were already hungry and struggling for basic needs before the earthquake,” Trost said. “So when you add an earthquake on top of it—the worst one in 200 years—it’s even more catastrophic. The need for food, water, shelter, and medical care is enormous.”  

After worrying for almost two days about their staff in Port-au-Prince, Trost finally received some good news Jan. 15. 

“We just got word that our food program coordinator, Madame Gabriel, and her family, and our education coordinator are alive and doing OK,” Trost said. “We’re so relieved and happy that two key people are safe. We have not been able to talk to anyone because the cell phone service is down, so we are relying on second- hand information.”  

Trost said that she had got confirmation that all of What If’s program coordinators were safe and working to get the food program back up and running as soon as possible. She said that their program liaison, Lavarice Gaudin, along with the Chicago based Zakat Foundation, had driven from the Dominican Republic with relief trucks to Port-au-Prince Sunday.   

“The frequent after-shocks, including the 6.1 earthquake this morning, have prevented the cooks from cooking in the kitchens, but food and water has been distributed daily since Sunday to people in the neighborhood,” Trost said Wednesday. “Another truck filled with food and water arrived yesterday. No supplies from the Port-au-Prince airport have made their way to this community yet, so we are so grateful that we’ve been able to get desperately needed food and water in from the Dominican Republic.”   

Trost said hundreds of people are living on a dirt soccer field across the street from the St. Clare’s rectory, where the food program takes place, “using the surrounding space to coordinate distribution of the supplies we’ve been able to bring in by truck.”   

Daily updates about What If’s progress in Haiti can be found at www.whatiffoundation.org/news/blog. 

Trost said that although Tiplas Kazo had been damaged—including the church bell tower and a nearby school, some of whose students she fears may have died during the earthquake—the majority of the houses are still standing.  

“Nobody in Haiti is inside, everybody is on the street and sleeping outside,” Trost said, because they were scared of aftershocks and tremors. “Power is down... There’s no communication—somebody sees somebody walking down the street or crossing the road and knows that they are safe.”  

Trost said she was overwhelmed by the “compassionate response” of Berkeley residents.  

“Children and parents are calling, wanting to donate,” she said.  “It’s wonderful and so needed,” she said. Berkeley High School’s Student Leadership Team announced Friday that it had put together a “Relief for Haiti” fundraiser with the goal of raising $8,000—about $2 for every person on the campus.  

Berkeley residents Michael Romani and his wife Dinali Abeysekera, who volunteer for AMURT, a national non-profit which partners with the United Nations World Food Program to provide disaster relief in Haiti, are coordinating the organization’s relief efforts and trying to find more qualified medical staff to travel to Haiti.  

Romani and Abeysekera returned from Haiti a few months ago, where they were helping with the 2008 hurricane relief efforts.  

AMURT currently has a team at Port-au-Prince and recently procured a plane to fly 40 to 60 medical personnel and supplies into the capital over the next few days.  

“We (AMURT) were already there when the earthquake happened,” said Abeysekera by telephone last Thursday. “Our team in the Bay Area is currently getting ready for a push to raise awareness and funds in order to help these relief efforts. Today we spent the whole day mobilizing.”  

Abeysekera said that although AMURT’s 10 volunteers in Haiti are safe, one of the organization’s two schools had collapsed during the earthquake.  

“It was located in Delmas, one of the worst-hit areas,” she said. “It was quite difficult to get in touch with people right after the earthquake hit. We last heard from them during afternoon time and didn’t hear back until the next day. They said there was ‘rubble everywhere, buildings everywhere’—the roads were blocked, so people couldn’t get from one part of the city to the other.”  

AMURT’s offices were located in the school that was destroyed in the earthquake, Abeysekera said.  

“We are redoing everything,” she said. “The phone lines are still down—there is very very sporadic cell phone communication. It’s only ‘in person’ communication. There’s no gas left, millions of people are on the street with no shelter or water. People are panicking and becoming very volatile.”  

Abeysekera said that a Berkeley couple, Peter and Hannah Meadow, are part of an AMURT team that flew over to the Dominican Republic Jan. 14 to drive to Port-au-Prince to start on relief work.  

Peter is a lawyer and Hannah teaches. Their son Josh has been in Haiti since August to make a film.  

“Plans are not very clear at the moment,” Abeysekera said. “They will get their resources together and survey and evaluate the area, especially the ones most hit. The idea is to get them out of Port-au-Prince and into a safe area where they can get water and shelter.” 

Romani said Tuesday that staff and volunteers were already on the ground and support teams were scheduled to fly into Port-au-Prince to assist with operation Give Your Heart to Haiti.  

“Satellite phone contact has been established with personnel in Port-au-Prince and the neighboring Dominican Republic while cell phone service remains patchy at best,” he said. “Arrangements are under way to help people receive life-saving services.” 

These arrangements include collaboration with other agencies to create emergency and urgent care clinics and moving survivors out “of the very volatile areas in Port-au-Prince to the northern area, where they will have access to food, water and shelter being brought in,” Romani said. 

Romani’s team is currenty helping out in a handful of local shelters where more than 1,000 patients have been treated for emergency medical care. 

“We will be sending more doctors, medical and emergency professionals—some of whom have a pre-existing history of working with us before the earthquake and have now switched to disaster emergency care—as well as medical supplies to aid several thousand more people that are expected to arrive at these clinic within the next few days. The current supplies have already run out.” 


Local and national fundraising efforts  

• Local Haitian musicians will stage two benefits in the next few weeks at Ashkenaz on San Pablo Avenue. At 8:30 p.m. Jan. 28, Kalbass Kreyol and Friends, led by Haitian-born Sophis, will perform their signature blend of traditional Haitian dance music with proceeds going to the Haitian Emergency Relief Fund, a part of the Haitian Action Committee. At 9:30 p.m. Feb. 6, Mystic Man and Lakay, plus Haitian dance troupe Rara Fusion, will headline a second benefit, preceded at 8:30 p.m. by an AfroHaitian dance lesson with Ifonia. www.ashkenaz.com.  

• www.amurt.net  

• whatiffoundation.org  

• Berkeley High School fundraising site: act.pih.org/page/outreach/view/haiti earthquake/BHShelpHaiti or on campus at the Leadership Office 

• The Shattuck Down Low Lounge on Shattuck and Bancroft is hosting an earthquake benefit relief for Haiti on Sat. Jan. 16 and Jan. 23, 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. featuring a hip hop, reggae, Latin and AfroCaribbean line-up. Suggested donation at the door is $10 and all proceeds will go toward a Haiti relief charity. www.shattuckdownlow.com/ 


• AMURT and Paramount Booking are scheduled to present a Haiti Relief Concert Feb. 20 at the Shattuck Down Low., featuring Mystic Man & Lakay and reggae DJ Jah Warrior Shelter. A portion of the event proceeds will go to Amurt Haiti emergency relief fund. Advance tickets $5, and $10 at the door. www.paramountbooking.com  

• ww.whitehouse.gov/blog/2010/01/13/ help-haiti 

• donate.doctorswithoutborders.org/SSL Page.aspx?pid=197&hbc=1&source=ADR1001E1D01 

• www.icrc.org/web/eng/siteeng0.nsf/iwp List2/Help_the_ICRC?OpenDocument 

• secure.oxfamamerica.org/site/Donation 2?df_id=3560&3560.donation=form1 

• secure.unicefusa.org/site/Donation2? df_id=6680&6680.donation=form1

Berkeley Iceland Gets Another Chance

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday January 21, 2010 - 09:09:00 AM

The fate of Berkeley Iceland hangs in the balance over the next four months as its owner and the non-profit trying to save it attempt to strike a deal. 

Although the Berkeley City Council was set to vote at its Tuesday meeting on whether the historic structure should be stripped of its landmark status, an 11th-hour agreement between its owner, East Bay Iceland Inc., and Save Berkeley Iceland, a local group which wants to buy the building and turn it into a community skating rink and recreation center, continued the issue to the council’s May 18 meeting. 

After the Berkeley Landmarks Commission voted to list Iceland on the local landmarks register due to its architectural and historic merits, its owners appealed the decision to the City Council in July 2007. The council upheld the landmarks commission vote. 

Save Berkeley Iceland was unable to come up with the $6.25 million asking price for the building, and East Bay Iceland filed a lawsuit against the city in November, arguing that the landmarking had been done on faulty grounds, without consideration of public interest and had caused severe economic impact to the corporation. 

After settlement discussions between attorneys for the parties, city staff and the Berkeley City Council tentatively agreed at a closed meeting to settle the lawsuit with East Bay Iceland by rescinding the council’s earlier decision and holding a new public hearing to once again determine whether or not the building should be designated a landmark. That decision was placed on the Tuesday agenda for confirmation. 

The landmarks commission, the local body certified by the state of California to rule on historic buildings, cried foul, saying the city’s actions were in violation of the city’s landmarks ordinance. 

“The LPC has not been informed of the review on Jan. 19 and cannot find the supporting law for this hearing in our ordinance,” Landmarks Preservation Commission Chair Gary Parsons wrote in a letter to the City Council. “Is this hearing a de facto second appeal? If so, and if the designation is to be reconsidered, the commission would like formal notification and the opportunity to defend our decision.” 

Preservationists and Berkeley residents supported the commission’s argument, and sent letters to council asking them not to rescind their decision. 

One of them even went so far as to file an application to list Iceland on the National Register. 

“The landmarking of Iceland followed the law,” landmarks commissioner (and Berkeley Daily Planet arts and calendar editor) Anne Wagley told the council. “There is nothing in our ordinance that allows the City Council to create a de novo hearing on landmark status. And the issue of economic hardship is not part of the landmarking process but may enter into the discussion when an owner applies for a permit.” 

Save Berkeley Iceland President Tom Killilea told the Planet after the meeting that the two parties had agreed to work together to arrive at some kind of understanding about how to help his organization reach its goal. 

“We see a great opportunity to work through it,” Killilea told the council. 

East Bay Iceland’s attorney Wilson Wendt from the law firm Miller Starr and Regalia waved away the Planet’s request for a comment, but Berkeley City Attorney Zach Cowan said that Save Berkeley Iceland’s attorney Paul Kibel had submitted a letter to the city on Jan. 15 asking for more time. 

“They said we have this new plan which might work out,” Cowan said. “When East Bay Iceland heard it, their lawyers said we have ‘given it two years, might as well give it four more months, but then we will have to make a final decision.’” 

Kibel threatened the city with a potential lawsuit if the council moved ahead with the public hearing because of the potential conflict with the landmark statute. 

“We raised a number of issues in the past few days,” Killilea said. “We objected to the lack of notice to all the parties involved in the landmarking. I wrote the landmark application and I was not mentioned in the lawsuit nor sent a notice about it.” 

He said his group would focus on raising the money required to purchase Iceland by appealing to supporters and applying for state grants. 

“We are hopeful we can come up with a number the owners will like,” he said. “I feel this gives us time to sit down and talk about the issues.” 

Cowan stuck to his earlier argument that the settlement agreement entitles the City Council to hold a public hearing to decide whether Iceland should be landmarked. 

As for the controversy surrounding his advice to the council, he said, “I don’t think it’s about the legal advice, I think it’s more about the result.” 

Cowan said that when a landmarking is appealed to council, they can either affirm the decision or send it back to the landmarks commission or set their own public hearing. 

“The decision was affirmed without a public hearing,” he said. “So all they are doing is holding a public hearing.” 

Cowan said correspondence between East Bay Iceland and Save Berkeley Iceland suggested that both sides might support modification of the landmarks designation. 

“I think they both realize that full designation makes it not feasible to do anything,” he said. “It’s interesting because the Landmarks Commission is essentially saying ‘you can’t touch it.’ It will be very interesting to see how this plays out.” 

East Bay Iceland has maintained from the very beginning that they would support landmark designation of the western facade and the lobby, but not the rest of the building, where the skating surface is located.

Southside Neighbors File Lawsuit Against University Fraternities

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday January 21, 2010 - 09:12:00 AM

Berkeley’s southside is under siege. Or so says a class-action lawsuit filed by some of the area’s residents at the Alameda County Superior Court Tuesday, seeking respite from rowdy UC Berkeley frat boys and their drunken brawls. 

The lawsuit, which names the Interfraternity Council and 35 fraternities belonging to the Berkeley campus as defendants, argues that area homeowners have been “subjected to illegal and injurious conduct” by its members for over two decades. 

The group, which includes the newly established South of Campus Neighborhood Association and southside resident Paul Ghysels, contends that it’s too late to soothe any ill will against the university, and instead requested a restraining order against the frats to prevent them from carrying out any more harassment, underage drinking, assaults and raucous partying, among other “public nuisances.” 

However, Alameda County Judge Frank Roesch shot down the request Tuesday, citing lack of sufficient evidence on the plaintiff’s part to prove that denying the restraining order would result in a high degree of injury for them. 

“The judge essentially said that asking for this kind of a restraining order at such short notice requires multiple levels of proof,” said Louis Garcia, a Berkeley attorney who is representing the neighbors. “This is just the first step. We will file another motion for a preliminary injunction in the next few days. It will give more time to the fraternities to read over our papers and file a detailed response, which they didn’t have the opportunity to do today.” 

The defendants were represented by attorneys for the Interfraternity Council and an independent lawyer hired by one of the fraternities, university officials said. 

UC Berkeley currently has 2,700 students in 40 fraternities and 21 sororities, roughly 11 percent of the campus population. 

Garcia said the class-action lawsuit was the first of its kind to be filed against college fraternities in the United States. 

“Our intent is for this lawsuit to lead to responsible adult supervision of the fraternity houses,” Garcia said. “If our class action is successful, we believe this will contribute significantly to a safer and more livable environment for nearby residents, the Berkeley community at large and the fraternities.” 

University Director of Fraternity and Sorority Life Grahaeme Hesp said he didn’t have a chance to look at the lawsuit yet. 

“While I can’t comment on the lawsuit since UC Berkeley has not been named in it, I can say that I have seen a marked improvement in the behavior of fraternities since I came here in 2006,” Hesp said. “There’s been a pretty positive and open line of communication between the neighbors and students.” 

Although Hesp directed inquiries to Peter Smithhisler, president and CEO of the North American Interfraternity Conference, Smithhisler said that it was the Interfraternity Council at UC Berkeley which had been named in the lawsuit and not his organization. 

Calls to UC Berkeley’s media relations office for comment were not returned by press time. 

Garcia said that in 2007, more than 600 complaints and service requests were filed to the police against 34 fraternity houses in Berkeley, with an average of 18 calls for each frat house. 

One frat house alone generated 45 calls to the police, he said. Garcia said that perhaps the most tragic incident to result from “this culture of violence and abuse” was the death of UC Berkeley engineering senior Chris Wootton, who suffered a fatal stab wound during a drunken brawl outside a fraternity house on Warring Street in 2008. 

Ghysels, one of the lead plaintiffs who has lived next to two fraternities on Durant Avenue since the 1980s, said he filed the lawsuit after getting frustrated with the lack of enforcement by city and university officials. 

“Anybody in the neighborhood who tries to address the drunken, disorderly behavior gets retaliated against,” said Ghysels, who said that he had to tolerate broken windows, prank phone calls and beer bottles thrown at his house almost weekly. “We’ve tried to look at it calmly, but UC Berkeley is saying we can’t do anything, the police are saying we can’t do anything. We had no other recourse but to go ahead and file the lawsuit.” 

Ghysels said he had security camera footage of a 7.5-pound weight being dropped on his wife from a four-story roof which he alleged was the handiwork of a fraternity member. Ghysels’ house abuts two fraternities and is on the fringes of fraternity row, which encompasses Channing and Warring streets. 

“When we go to court his face will be visible,” said Ghysels, who is keeping a log of all the incidents on his website www.UCBerkeleyFrats.com. “They have broken into my house, damaged my surveillance tapes, urinated all over my couches—it’s out of control. You may ask how I know they are fraternity boys? Well, I caught one of them.” 

Hesp said that it was important that neighbors and fraternity members deal with incidents “there and then.” 

“They should call for police help. Once the university finds out about it we will follow up on it,” he said. “We can’t react unless we know what’s going on.” 

In the past the university has formed a Chancellor’s Task Force on Student/Neighbor relations to address unruly behavior at frat houses and even created a dedicated UCPD squad to monitor frat parties, but Ghysels said they were to no avail and had simply led to wasted resources at a time of severe budget constraints.  

“There’s a double standard in Berkeley,” Ghysels said. “Cal students can do what they want but if a person of a minority did it, we put him behind bars. The university and city’s attitude is that if you ignore a problem it will go away, but the problem will not just go away.” 

Calls to Caleb Dardick, the university’s director of community relations, were not returned by press time.

City Council Approves Soft-Story Ordinance, Discusses City’s Role in State Omnibus Bill

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday January 21, 2010 - 09:12:00 AM

The Berkeley City Council Tuesday approved stricter enforcement of its existing soft-story ordinance, approved a public hearing for a special property tax ballot measure to fund pools improvement, and discussed a report on the city’s involvement in the Omnibus Bill 


Soft-story ordinance enforcement 

Berkeley landlords holding deeds to soft-story buildings will have to be more careful from now on. Although the city’s soft-story ordinance already requires property owners to put up signs warning tenants about the seismically unsafe structure, the city will start citing violators starting April 1. 

Soft-story buildings are usually more vulnerable during earthquakes.  

Berkeley has approximately 400 soft-story buildings, of which the 320 wood frame structures are especially susceptible in earthquakes. Thirty-one have been retrofitted as of last spring.  

A report by the city’s Disaster and Fire Safety Commission says that the majority of soft-story building owners in Berkeley are violating the ordinance by not posting warning signs about the structures.   

A survey of the city’s list of “Potentially Hazardous Story Buildings” in the Willard neighborhood found that just two of the 15 buildings had warning signs posted, and one of those was a flimsy paper sign. 

“A major earthquake will have a tremendous impact on soft-story buildings,” Berkeley Disaster and Fire Safety Commission Chair Matthew Mitchell told the council. “It won’t be like Haiti, it will probably be like Kobe, Japan, where they had 6,000 dead.” 

Mitchell urged the council to hire enforcement personnel, which it currently lacks. 

The City Council’s vote mandates that all city departments and agencies check for warning signs on soft-story buildings and levy fines on landlords who continue to disregard the law.  

Building owners will also have to notify prospective tenants about the earthquake risks through flyers and web postings.   

The amended ordinance would also require tenants, before signing a lease, to sign a disclosure form acknowledging they are aware of the seismic hazards.  

The council also approved a recommendation made by councilmembers Laurie Capitelli and Jesse Arreguin, which asks the city to send a final warning letter to landlords notifying them they are in violation of the law if they continue not to put signs up, giving them the April deadline.  


Pools ballot measure 

The council voted to set a public hearing on Feb. 23, at which point they will decide whether to include a Mello Roos special property tax on the June 2010 ballot to fund pool improvements. 

The city has created a Citywide Pools Master plan to improve and upgrade the King, Willard and West Campus swimming pools and build a new warm water pool to replace the one at Berkeley High School. 

A survey carried out by the city showed that the majority of the 400 Berkeley voters polled leaned toward supporting a $19 million bond initiative instead of the $30 million. 

The margin of error for the poll was 4.9 percent, which Bates and some councilmembers thought was a bit high. 


Omnibus Bill 

Councilmember Jesse Arreguin withdrew his request to ask the city manager about the city’s involvement in SB 113, also known as the Local Government Omnibus Act of 2009, which was signed by Gov. Schwarzenegger Oct. 11, 2009. 

An amendment to SB 113, proposed by the UC Regents, exempts Memorial Stadium on the Berkeley campus and other state historic structures from legal restrictions on building across earthquake faults.  

The Omnibus Bill traditionally contains only non-controversial provisions.  

Arreguin said he wanted to know how the city had signed off on something that had created a lot of controversy, including a pending lawsuit by the Panoramic Hill Association, a neighborhood group that has sued the university for proposing to build on the Hayward Fault. 

Opponents claim that the amendment poses a threat to the safety of Berkeley residents and are furious that it was passed in the face of pending litigation against the proposed projects at Memorial Stadium. 

The UC Regents approved the Memorial Stadium project this week. 

The university contends that SB 113 would only apply to retrofitting existing structures and not to new construction. 

The adjoining Student High Performance Athletic Center, which is being built on the former site of the stadium’s oak grove, does not benefit from the amendment because it would not straddle an active fault and does not connect to the stadium. 

Arreguin said that City Manager Phil Kamlarz had already provided him with a report last week, which was why it wasn’t necessary to have his request on the agenda anymore. 

Although the council voted in December to continue Arreguin’s request to Jan. 19 due to a lack of time, the Council Agenda Committee voted to take it off the action calendar at their Jan. 11 agenda committee meeting. 

However, City Attorney Zach Cowan intervened saying the committee wasn’t legally allowed do so and Arreguin put the item back on the agenda. 

Kamlarz’s report says the city’s lobbyist in Sacramento, Lynn Suter, had received no comment on the legislation when she contacted the city manager’s office. 

“The language of SB 113 is compatible with council’s priorities, including making ‘seismically unsafe structures safe’ and ‘preserving and rehabilitating historic structures,’” Kamlarz’s report said. “Throughout the debate on the athletic facility, councilmembers expressed concern about the seismic risks posed by the Memorial Stadium, and in many cases demanded that the university retrofit the stadium ‘before construction of the sports training facility.’” 

Kamlarz said that once the council decided not to appeal the sports training facility, “there was no indication that the council did not want to make Memorial Stadium safe.” 

Bates said that although the city had said they were not opposed to the stadium retrofit, they didn’t play any role in the actual drafting of the language. 

Councilmember Linda Maio said she was “very disturbed about the way the item was put together,” she said. 

Maio said it reminded her “a little bit of a witch hunt.” 

“I object to the way the item was written, it reeks of McCarthysm,” said Gordon Wozniak, a remark Councilmember Kriss Worthington said was a bit extreme for merely asking the city manager for information. 

“[Arreguin] was concerned, he asked some questions—the city manager provided the report before we voted on it,” Worthington said. “There’s nothing McCarthyesque about it.” 

Berkeley High Parents, Teachers Discuss School Governance

By Raymond Barglow, Special to the Planet
Thursday January 21, 2010 - 09:13:00 AM

Berkeley High School’s Parent, Teacher, Student Association met Tuesday to discuss alternative models of school governance. Present to discuss the models were Superintendent Bill Huyett and School Board Policy Committee members Shirley Issel and John Selawsky. 

The high school is currently out of compliance with the California Education Code, which requires that public high schools be governed by a school site council consisting of 50 percent staff, 25 percent students, and 25 percent parents. 

According to PTSA President Mark van Krieken, governance of the high school is improperly constituted. “Parents and students, the consumers of education, have a far smaller voice in providing oversight of the school’s progress regarding student achievement than is required by the Education Code,” said van Krieken.  

Superintendent Huyett said the school site council does exist and is embedded in the School Governance Council (SGC). But Peggy Scott, parent representative to the SGC, said, “Last year the School Site Council never convened, never voted; it doesn’t even have official members this year; it doesn’t exist except on paper,” Scott added. 

Huyett noted that separation of the school site council from the SGC could be problematic. “If you … have them meeting independently … it can be very hard to get staff to participate in the School Site Council,” said Huyett. “They don’t see it as time well spent.” 

The high school is divided into six separate programs, also called “schools,” which complicates policy-making for the high school as a whole. Science department teacher Evy Kavaler expressed two concerns.  

First, teacher representation in the SGC is not equitable. What bothers many people in the high school, she said, is that the four small schools are overrepresented and the two larger schools are underrepresented.  

She also said that bloc voting by teachers on the SGC undermines democratic process. 

By all accounts, high school governance issues are complicated ones. The meeting on Tuesday enabled the superintendent and school board members to explain these issues to community members and to hear their views about alternative governance structures. Huyett and the policy committee members explained at length the history of the current governance predicament and possible ways of correcting it. But several audience members commented that they did not have enough information to make an informed decision on this matter.  

The proposal to drop the before- and after-school science labs at the high school was only briefly discussed at this meeting.  

“We have come up with a proposal [about the labs] that will go to the school board,” Superintendent Huyett said. “The proposal that we are making to the board is different than the proposal the School Governance Council heard.” The board will hear testimony on this matter at its Feb. 3 meeting. 

The proposal to drop the science labs, which is part of the current school redesign proposal, is related to the issue of school governance. Without the existence of a site council, as mandated by law, some parents believe that the science labs questions cannot be properly answered. Peggy Scott said that “The School Site Council has jurisdiction over the [official] school plan, and since the current redesign proposal modifies the school plan, it should have been voted on by the School Site Council.” 

Another parent, Natasha Beery, pointed out that the current before- and after-school science labs at Berkeley High are funded by the Berkeley Schools Excellence Project (BSEP), which draws all of its revenue from a Berkeley parcel tax measure passed in 2006. So it’s fitting, according to Beery, that decisions about retaining these labs be made with input from the tax-paying public. The School Site Council, she said, is specified by California law as the governing body that directly represents the public in school governance matters, and might therefore be an appropriate authority within the high school to weigh in on the science labs issue. 


Raymond Barglow is a founder of Berkeley Tutors Network. 



Tenants Rally Against Sale of Public Housing

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday January 21, 2010 - 09:14:00 AM
Berkeley public housing tenant Keith Carlisle urged the City Council at its Tuesday meeting to save the city's public housing from privatization.
Riya Bhattacharjee
Berkeley public housing tenant Keith Carlisle urged the City Council at its Tuesday meeting to save the city's public housing from privatization.

Berkeley Public Housing tenants showed up at Tuesday’s City Council meeting to rally against the loss of public housing.  

The Berkeley Housing Authority, which has been a separate entity from the city of Berkeley since 2007, approved the sale of 61 units of federal housing scattered around the city to a private developer so that BHA can focus on its Section 8 voucher program. 

BHA Director Tia Ingram contends that as a “troubled” housing authority, the agency had been given a Dec. 31, 2009, deadline by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to either create a plan to fix its public housing or get out of it entirely.  

Although current BHA tenants will receive relocation vouchers and some will even be able to return, the group is not giving up without a fight. 

“The housing has been allowed to deteriorate due to neglect,” said Keith Carlisle, a tenant. “Now that the mismanagement of the BHA administration and its board are being called into question by HUD, the BHA director and board want to sell off the problem that they have created. We say no. We say you messed up, you take responsibility and clean it up.” 

Carlisle and other tenants complained about mistreatment, mismanagement of funds and called for Ingram and BHS chair Carole Norris to be fired. 

Carlisle, who is leading a non-profit called Residents Awareness in Action, said that the group wanted a new business model which would place the tenants in partnership with BHA and HUD. 

Some councilmembers called for an investigation into the matter and asked for a report from BHA detailing the disposition plan. 

Lawyers Request Report On Torture Memo Authors; Activists Protest John Yoo’s 'Secret Class’

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday January 21, 2010 - 09:15:00 AM

A group of lawyers, journalists and advocates filed a Freedom of Information Act request Thursday for a report about authors of the Bush administration's torture memos, including UC Berkeley law professor John Yoo.  

The request, made by the Robert Jackson Steering Committee, asks for the long-promised report from the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility. Attorney General Eric Holder was expected to release the report last month.  

Yoo is currently facing a civil suit filed by Jose Padilla, who alleges he was a victim of Yoo’s actions.  

Demonstrators have been protesting outside the law school since last year, calling for Yoo, a tenured professor, to be fired from the UC Berkeley School of law and investigated by the university.   

A group gathered outside the law school Tuesday to protest the undisclosed location of Yoo’s new class for the spring semester.  

About 20 people, mostly from World Can’t Wait and Code Pink, marched to law school Dean Christopher Edley’s office, demanding to meet with him.   

“How can a public university hold secret classes?” asked Stephanie Tang of World Can’t Wait. “The dean has made the class secret to protect the rights of the students. Our position is that it’s far more dangerous for them to learn the law from a war criminal.”  

Although the dean wasn’t present at his office Tuesday, the protesters met with his chief of staff and proposed a campus-wide debate on the torture memos.  

Yoo appeared recently on Comedy Central’s Daily Show to promote his new book Crisis and Command and is scheduled to speak at the Commonwealth Club Jan. 27 as part of his book tour.  

Tang said protesters were planning to show up there as well.  

Yoo’s spring 2010 course on the California Constitution, which he will be co-teaching with David Carrillo, a deputy attorney general with the state Justice Department, is listed on the law school website as meeting Tuesday evenings at a location “to be announced.”  

The class will examine constitutional design issues in light of recent calls for a constitutional convention.  

Steve Rosenbaum, a lecturer at the law school since 1988, said it was ironic that “the man whose legal advice led to practices carried out in secret venues is now himself teaching in an undisclosed location.”  

Dean Edley defended the law school’s decision and issued a statement saying, “vital principles of academic freedom require that all of us affirm and respect [Yoo’s] right to teach and the right of our students to take courses from him without interference, including disruption or intimidation. I have specifically asked my staff and the University Police to make reasonable efforts to prevent such disruption or intimidation and, if unsuccessful, to arrest trespassers.”    

Although Edley still maintains that Yoo should be allowed to teach at Berkeley on the grounds of academic freedom, his statement says that “this fidelity to academic freedom and our notions of excellence does not mean that students, staff and faculty are obligated to stand mute or ignore the controversy.  

“Protests that do not interfere with teaching and learning, and have no purpose or effect of intimidation, are certainly permissible,” he said. 

Law school spokesperson Susan Glass said that Edley had called the protesters’ complaints about “about secrecy and accountability a disservice to the serious issues they are trying to address.”  

Liz Jackson, a member of the student group Boalt Alliance to Abolish Torture, said the whole idea of a “secret class” was silly.  

“It’s easy to find out where he’s teaching unless it’s in an underground bunker,” Jackson said. “If the law school builds something secret to protect an alleged war criminal, then that’s shameful. Why are they hiding him if they are not ashamed of what he’s done? If you have allowed an alleged war criminal to teach courses, you have to deal with public criticism.”  

14 Arrested in Protest Over Privatization of UC Bus Service

By Raymond Barglow, Special to the Planet
Thursday January 21, 2010 - 09:15:00 AM
Protesters rallied at noon Wednesday at Bancroft Way and Telegraph Avenue.
Raymond Barglow
Protesters rallied at noon Wednesday at Bancroft Way and Telegraph Avenue.

Several hundred UC Berkeley staff, students, and faculty held a noon rally on Wednesday to protest UC administration plans to privatize bus service at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Fourteen protesters, including Berkeley City Councilmember Jesse Arreguin, sat down in front of one of the buses in an act of civil disobedience and were arrested. 

Campus union representatives said that out-sourcing the bus service is inefficient as well as inhumane. Inefficient, they say, because privatization will not improve bus service, yet will mean profits for the private company at the expense of the university. Inhumane, because many of the bus drivers who will lose their jobs have personal connections to the university community that have been built over years and sometimes decades. “Those who ride the buses,” said Claudette Bégin, of the Coalition of University Employees, “have gotten to know these drivers.”  

Bégin noted as well that the UC Regents have just voted to grant $3 million dollars in bonuses to its top employees. Lakesha Harrison, president of AFSCME 3299, said that “UC executives are selling off taxpayer resources to the highest bidder, cutting the hours and pay for low-wage workers, and at the same time paying out millions in executive perks. Is this the new face of UC?” 

In a letter to UC President Yudof, state Sen. Leland Yee of San Francisco requested that the the University of California immediately put its privatization plan on hold. Lee believes that the plan may violate federal law and federal stimulus spending rules. 

Unions Oppose Charter School Petitions, Favor Alternative Education Plan

By Raymond Barglow, Special to the Planet
Thursday January 21, 2010 - 09:17:00 AM

At the Jan. 13 Berkeley School Board meeting, the Berkeley Federation of Teachers (BFT) joined the Berkeley Council of Classified Employees (BCCE) in opposing applications for two new independent charter schools in Berkeley, one a middle school and the other a high school. Both unions favor the development of a new educational program that is not independent of the school district. 

The school board is currently reviewing the applications for these two charter schools to see whether they meet state requirements. 

Representing the BCCE, Paula Phillips spoke of the charter petitioners’ “unrealistic financial plan,” which “proposes to pay wages that barely exceed federal poverty limits and are far below the standards established for our community.” She added that the plan “has grossly under-budgeted for retirement, health, and mandatory benefits.” 

Speaking for the teachers’ union, Cathy Campbell said, “The community members who have submitted charter petitions are inspired and guided by a serious commitment to and passion for students and families, equity and innovation,” but asked the board to reject the petitions and to support instead a new option for students that would be sponsored by the school district itself. 

“This new secondary option,” said Campbell, “should be a district-sponsored program. In our view, as teachers in this district, it is our responsibility as a unified school district to serve all of the students of Berkeley, and to innovate as needed to make that happen.” 

According to Campbell, “A new high school program, tailored to the needs of students and families currently being underserved by our district, is needed. A smaller program would offer a kind of personalization not currently available at the 3,200-student high school, even within the small schools.” 

Innovation and enrichment of secondary school education was the subject of workshops sponsored this past summer by the school board, and Campbell said that a new educational option based on these workshops should be offered to students, beginning in the fall of 2011. “Our community is correct that there is a serious unmet need for secondary families and students,” said Campbell, “and BFT believes that working together we can address this challenge.” 

Campbell also urged support of the existing alternative high school in Berkeley, Berkeley Technology Academy, which mainly serves African-American and Latino students.  

Kenneth Harvey Cardwell 1920–2010

Therese Pipe
Thursday January 21, 2010 - 09:18:00 AM

Kenneth Harvey Cardwell, Bay Area architect and professor emeritus of architecture at UC Berkeley, died Jan. 11 in Oakland at age 89. 

Born in Los Angeles in 1920, ancestors on his paternal side were owners of Spanish-Mexican land grants in Southern California. He served with distinction during World War II as second lieutenant in the 35th Fighter Squadron, and later chronicled his wartime efforts in a book, How Father Won the War.  

A long-time Berkeley resident, Cardwell was a UC Berkeley alumnus (1947), majoring in architecture. He first worked in private practice firms, then became principal architect in the firm Kolbeck, Cardwell and Christopherson. His teaching career at UC began in 1949, where he created courses in architectural history and historical preservation. An authority on renowned architect Bernard Maybeck, whom he befriended first as a student at UC, Cardwell wrote the acclaimed Bernard Maybeck: Artisan, Architect, Artist (1977, 1996).  

He was elected a fellow of the American Institute of Architects for his services to the organization and to the profession. Among his activities in various Berkeley civic organizations, he was elected president of the Berkeley Historical Society (1997-99), and later was its chief archivist until his retirement in 2009. During his time as archivist, he organized and computerized the society’s archives. Some other activities Cardwell accomplished for the Berkeley Historical Society included writing a column, first called “75 Years Ago” and later “A Look Back,” for the Berkeley Voice for several years; curating many exhibits, such as “Berkeley Literary Scene” and “One Hundred Years of Artists in Berkeley,” and leading a variety of walking tours. He leaves behind many friends and associates in that organization. A comprehensive oral history focusing on Cardwell’s life is in progress at the Berkeley Historical Society. 

Cardwell is survived by his wife Mary Elinor (Sullivan) Cardwell, five children, nine grandchildren and one great-grandchild. 

A memorial service was conducted at St. Mary Magdalen Catholic Church in North Berkeley on Saturday, Jan. 16, followed by a reception at the Cardwell family home in Berkeley.  


—Therese Pipe 

Berkeley Historical Society

Remembering Al Winslow, 1941–2010

By Michael Howerton
Thursday January 21, 2010 - 09:20:00 AM

Al Winslow, a journalist and homeless advocate who adopted Berkeley as his home, died Jan. 8 following a short illness. He was 68. 

Wislow wrote for the Daily Planet and other local publications about homelessness and poverty, disability rights, free speech, high school sports, and his observations of the world around Berkeley.  

Workers at Razan’s Organic Kitchen on Kittredge Street, where he occasionally worked, said he would often stop by the small restaurant to lend a hand, and loved to talk with people or play chess with whomever he could talk into a game. He lived for many years in a studio across the street from Razan’s, but also occasionally lived in residential hotels.  

Building Opportunities for Self-Sufficiency Executive Director boona cheema said Winslow worked on many of the organization’s campaigns over the years. 

“He really cared about social justice,” she said. “He was passionate about civil rights for homeless people. He was very active in neighborhood issues, and he was a good writer. Anytime I needed help, if I would ask Al, he would do it. He was a good friend.” 

Lisa Stephens, chair of the Berkeley Rent Board, said she met Winslow in the early ’90s when they were both working to preserve People’s Park. 

“Al was always on the scene and involved with anything that was happening with people, fighting the anti-homeless laws, he was always active,” she said. “Al was an incredibly smart man, he was really quite brilliant. He had a great gift for social commentary. He was always interested about the political matters of the day and how people treated each other. I’ll really miss him. A piece of the fabric is gone.” 

Winslow was the eldest of three brothers growing up in New York City. Ed Winslow, two years younger than Al, now a retired social worker in Utica, N.Y., said that he didn’t know much about his brother’s life after he moved to California in the ’70s.  

“I read his writing in the paper online, and I could see that it was very sensitive,” Ed said. “He was always happiest when he was writing and expressing himself on paper.” 

Ed said that Al had a sharp intelligence from a very early age, reminiscent of their uncle, Buckminster Fuller, the famed architect and inventor. 

“He was brilliant; he was very well read, reminded me of our Uncle Bucky,” Ed said of his older brother. “He was the brightest guy I ever knew. I’m sad that he’s gone.” 

Winslow worked as a reporter for the Times-Herald Record in Middletown, N.Y., and for the Bergen Record in New Jersey in the 1960s, following a stint with the U.S. Navy. Prior to the Navy, he attended Hobart College in New York for a year.  

Staff at the Planet grew accustomed in recent years to the sight of Winslow coming into the office with loose papers full of notes talking excitedly about a story. He would type for a while and then walk outside to smoke a cigarette along Shattuck Avenue, telling the editor as he left, “It’s a good story. It’s just right,” suggesting that nothing should be done to ruin it. 

In July 2008, Al wrote about Berkeley banning one of his favorite activities:  


I’ve smoked cigarettes for 52 years, which is pushing my luck. Statistically, I should have been dead six years ago. Almost everybody has a developed opinion about this strange habit, which has been deemed a health code violation in Berkeley business districts since May, subject to citation by the Health Department.  

I live in a small apartment building on upper Kittredge Street where the lease prohibits smoking. I smoked outside behind the building, but tenants said they could smell it and that anyway the back lot was filling up with cigarette butts.  

Shortly, an elderly woman I know up the street, would shout out her window: “You’re my friend, but don’t smoke here.”  

I ended up across the street, smoking with employees outside the California Theater. These are young artistic types—a writer, a filmmaker, book readers. Smart. A type apparently prone to take up smoking. These days, they talk a lot about quitting.  


In December 2008, he wrote about meeting a UC student making a documentary film about consciousness. He wrote: 


If you engage the world, by 50 or so something changes.  

A poet said something like:  

You seek and keep on seeking  

Until you return to where you started  

And see it for the first time.  

And you start writing newspaper stories, of all things, about the undercurrents of things.  

And you have conversations with bright University of California students. 


Winslow’s body was cremated and his ashes will be buried in the family’s plot in Tuxedo Park, N.Y. this spring. No memorial is scheduled.

Cell Phones: Hazardous to Your Health?

By Raymond Barglow, Special to the Planet (1)
Thursday January 21, 2010 - 09:21:00 AM

San Francisco's Commission on the Environment has announced that it will consider a set of recommendations to protect the public from cell phone radiation. These recommendations, which have the tentative support of Mayor Gavin Newsom, include: 

-- Telecommunications companies will be required to label cell phone packages with the level of radiation the phones emit. 

-- Local schools will be requested to educate students and their families about cell phone radiation, and use of the phones will be restricted in elementary schools. 

-- The city will petition federal and state government to review and revise current cell phone safety standards. 

Are the dangers of using cell phones sufficient to warrant these recommendations? Those who advocate stricter oversight remind us of the historical record. In the 1950s, radiation in its many forms, ranging from X-rays to nuclear energy, seemed like a kind of benevolent magic. It could make the face of a watch glow in the dark, measure foot size in your local shoe store, diagnose a fetus in the womb, and fight cancer. Nuclear fission could even drive a new generation of power plants, making electricity "too cheap to meter." 

atomic energy advertisement 

There were always a few voices asking questions about the safety of low-level radiation, including the nuclear kind. But these challenges gained little traction with the public or in government circles, partly because the scientific community vouched for the harmlessness of the "peaceful atom." 

As the injuries due to radiation piled up, however, reality could no longer be denied. Over the next half century, the concerns began to be listened to, and today the dangers of low-level radiation are widely admitted and better regulated by government. 

Those who question the safety of wireless technologies believe that the same pattern of warning and belated response by the authorities is occurring again. The constellation of forces is a familiar one: once again, federal agencies tell us that cell phone radiation is harmless. Once again, many of those working for these agencies and issuing the reassurances have ties to the telecommunications industry that it is their responsibility to regulate. And once again, grassroots activists, supported by a few scientists and engineers, call the government-approved levels of radiation dangerously and unconscionably high. 

Indeed some empirical studies have been published over the past several years in scientific journals that find a correlation between cell phone use and human illness, including cancer. There is also laboratory research purporting to show that this radiation can have biological effects, including the breaking of DNA strands and formation of free radicals.(2) 

In the Bay Area, this new protest movement finds many sympathizers, who recommend that the "precautionary principle" be applied to cell phones.(3) But the mainstream view among researchers in the physical and biological sciences is that radiation at cell phone frequencies is far too weak (by a factor of at least a million) to wreak any biological damage. They argue first of all that the heating effects of the radiation are insignificant (although this is disputed by some of those who warn about this technology). They also point out an important difference between nuclear radiation and cell-phone radiation: Cell phones emit and receive microwaves that are non-ionizing -- that lack the energy to lift an electron out of its orbit in an atom, thereby leading to potential biological damage. (4) 

We know, however, that heating and ionization are not the only consequences that a microwave can have. After all, electrical currents are generated in a cell phone receiver that intercepts microwave radiation. If radiation of this kind can affect an electronic component in a cell phone, might it not also affect a biological process in a human body? 

The prevalent view from the physical and life sciences is that it cannot. A cell phone works only because of the extraordinary properties of its internal metallic conductor. Atoms in a metal like copper hold their outermost electrons only loosely, and something as weak as a microwave can mobilize and align them in very large numbers to resonate and create a current. Much like a tuning fork in the presence of a sound wave, a cell phone conductor responds to microwave radiation whose frequency of oscillation matches that of the conductor. In this way a tiny motion of electrons can be made to resonate and amplify into a sustained current.  

The organic molecules of life, on the other hand, hold on tightly to their electrons -- so much so that it takes a powerful energy blast, far stronger than microwave radiation, to detach one of them. The electrons in a DNA molecule such as thymine, for instance, knit together and are firmly attached to thymine's atoms. 

copper - thymine comparison 

The electrons in a copper conductor are, one might say, like enthusiastic volunteers who can be readily recruited to work together in a grassroots political campaign. Thymine's electrons, on the other hand, are apolitical, so to speak, and fully engaged with business as usual -- the work they're doing in the body. They're not available to be mobilized to break a DNA strand, speed up or retard a chemical reaction, or interfere with a normal biological function.  

But how can this reassuring conclusion be reconciled with empirical studies indicating that the radiation is dangerous? Scientists who believe that cell phones are safe don't find these studies credible. After all, many mistaken convictions appear to be supported by "empirical evidence"; a search on the Internet reveals dozens of "scientific" studies that "prove" that global warming, if it exists at all, does not result from human activity. 

The UC Berkeley physicists and biologists I talked with in preparing to write this article are skeptical about the statistical "evidence" showing cell phone use to be dangerous because they can think of no scientifically plausible chain of events whereby radiation from a cell phone might disrupt a biological process. 

Of course the absence of a plausible causal link today doesn't mean that one won't be found tomorrow. Sometimes in the history of science, a correlation is observed before the underlying causal mechanism that explains it is discovered. Even today, we're not sure we understand exactly how smoking leads to a wide variety of illnesses, but epidemiological studies establish beyond a doubt that it does. 

The debate about cell phone safety will continue in Berkeley, San Francisco, and communities across the country. Should these communities be empowered to approve or change safety standards? Can a lay public be expected to disentangle the very different kinds of radiation and assess the hazards of each? There is a dilemma here at the heart of political theory: Authentic democracy requires that citizens be well-informed. But in a technologically complex society, how can ordinary citizens (or their political representatives, who also lack specialized knowledge) thoughtfully evaluate and oversee technical innovation? Democratic decision-making will work well only if the American public becomes more knowledgeable about scientific matters than it is today. (5) 

Raymond Barglow studied physics at Cal Tech and is the founder of Berkeley Tutors Network

(1) To prepare this article, those who patiently helped me sort out and wrestle with the issues include Michael Barglow and Laurie Baumgarten of the Berkeley LeConte Neighborhood Association; Lloyd Morgan, an electronic engineer in Berkeley; Louis Slesin, editor of Microwave News; Jeff Moffitt, biophysics graduate student, UC Berkeley; Richard Muller, physicist, UC Berkeley; Robert Cahn, physicist, Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory; Michael Vollmer, physicist, Brandenburg Germany; and Michael Goldhaber, physicist and technology theorist. 

(2) A US Senate hearing, held In September 2009 on Health Effects of Cell Phone Use, reviewed some of the current empirical evidence: Senate Hearing

Currently, the "Interphone Study," which includes research in 13 nations, is investigating links between brain tumors and cell phone use. Lloyd Morgan criticizes this research in his blog Powerwatch

A difficulty that such research faces, according to some of those who warn about wireless technologies, is that cell phone-induced cancer may have a long latency period, taking as long as thirty years to produce symptoms.  

(3) In 2006, a group of Berkeley residents requested that the city not permit telecommunication companies to place new cell phone antennas in their neighborhood. During the next two years, the Zoning & Adjustments Board and the City Council heard testimony on this request and on the installation of antennas in other neighborhoods as well. This dispute was examined in a number of articles in the Berkeley Daily Planet, including: Settlement Ends Cell Antenna Suit 

(4) The spectrum of electromagnetic radiation ranges from radio at the low-energy end to gamma rays at the high-energy end. Cell phone radiation (frequency of about 109 hertz) has a little more energy than radio and is much weaker than any ionizing radiation (frequencies above 1015 hertz) 

copper - thymine comparison 

(5) In Berkeley, the relevance of high school science education to informed citizenship in a democratic society has been emphasized by community members who oppose a current proposal to drop some science labs at Berkeley High School. A letter distributed among BHS parents attests to the value of scientific literacy:  

"The issues facing our students (global warming, the destruction of the ozone layer, urban pollution, health issues such as diabetes, cancer, etc.) require that our students be well-grounded in the underlying science behind these issues. For many of our students, high school will be the last time they will take a biology or physics course. We cannot afford to shortchange them in these subjects." 


How the United States Impoverished Haiti

By Jean Damu, Special to the Planet
Thursday January 21, 2010 - 09:35:00 AM

The horrific disaster that has befallen Haiti is perhaps unprecedented in the Western hemisphere. Estimates now say that perhaps hundreds of thousands have died as a result of the Dec. 12 earthquake. Many in the media have constantly said, as a mantra, that the reason so many have died is because of the weak infrastructure and poor quality of construction there. The implication is that Haitians are unable to govern and build a reliable, sustainable society.  

The truth of the matter is that left to their own efforts Haitians would have been more than able to build a reliable democracy with adequate infrastructure. But they have never been allowed to do so; not by Europe and certainly not by the United States.  

The article below was written in 2003. It attempts to describe how Haiti has been, by design, maintained as the most impoverished nation in our hemisphere.  

Contact your congressional representative and urge them to help move Congress to increase aid to Haiti. For more direct aid and action go to Haitiaction. net.  


Though the demand by Haiti for reparations from France is just, it obscures the role the United States played in the process of impoverishing Haiti—a role that continues to this day.  

Today Haiti is a severely indebted country whose debt-to-export ratio is nearly 300 percent, far above what is considered sustainable even by the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, institutions dominated by the United States.  

In 1980 Haiti’s debt was $302 million. Since then it has more than tripled to $1.1 billion, approximately 40 percent of the nation’s gross national product. Last year Haiti paid more in debt service than it did on medical services for its people.  

Haitian officials say nearly 80 percent of the current debt was accumulated by the regimes of Francois and Jean-Claude Duvalier, Doc and Baby Doc. Both regimes operated under the benign gaze of the United States that has had a long and sordid history of keeping Haiti well within its sphere of economic and political influence.  

It is now well known that the primary source of Haiti’s chronic impoverishment is the reparations it was forced to pay to former plantation owners who left following the 1804 revolution. Some of the white descendants of the former plantation owners, who now live in New Orleans, still have the indemnity coupons issued by France. So in fact, at least part of the reparations paid by Haiti went toward the development of the United States.  

In 1825 Haiti was forced to borrow 24 million francs from private French banks to begin paying off the crippling indemnity debt. Haiti only acknow-ledged this debt in exchange for French recognition of her independence, a principle that would continue to characterize Haiti’s international relationships.  

These indemnity payments caused continual financial emergencies and political upheavals. In a 51-year period, Haiti had 16 different presidents—new presidents often coming to power at the head of a rebel army.  

Nevertheless, Haiti always made the indemnity payments—and, following those, the bank loan payments—on time. The 1915 intervention by the Marines on behalf of U.S. financial interests changed all of that, however.  

The prelude to the 1915 U.S. intervention began in 1910 when the National Bank of Haiti, founded in 1881 with French capital and entrusted from the start with the administration of the Haitian treasury, disappeared. It was replaced by the financial institution known as the National Bank of the Republic of Haiti.  

Part of the capital of the new national bank was subscribed by the National City Bank of New York, signaling, for the first time, U.S. interest in the financial affairs of Haiti.  

The motivation for the original U.S. financial interest in Haiti was the scheme of several U.S. corporations with ties to the National City Bank to build a railroad system there. In order for these corporations—including the W. R. Grace Corp.—to protect their investments, they pressured President Woodrow Wilson and his secretary of state, William Jennings Bryan, to find ways to stabilize the Haitian economy, namely by taking a controlling interest in the Haitian custom houses, the main source of revenue for the government.  

After Secretary of State Bryan was fully briefed on Haiti by his advisers, he exclaimed, “Dear me, think of it! Niggers speaking French.”  

Ironically, however, Bryan, a longtime anti-imperialist, was against any exploitative relationship between the U.S. and Haiti or any other nation in the Western Hemisphere. In fact he had long called for canceling the debts of smaller nations as a means by which they could normally grow and develop. Not surprisingly, Bryan’s views were not well received in Washington or on Wall Street.  

Due to the near total ignorance at the State Department and in Washington generally about Haiti, Bryan was forced to rely on anyone who had first hand information. That person turned out to be Roger L. Farnham, one of the few people thoroughly familiar with Haitian affairs.  

Farnham was familiar with Haitian affairs because he was vice president of the National City Bank of New York and the new National Bank of the Republic of Haiti and president of the National Railway of Haiti. In spite of the secretary of state’s hostility to Wall Street and Farnham’s obvious conflict of interest, Bryan leaned heavily on Farnham for information and advice.  

As vice president of both the New York and Haitian banks, Farnham played a cat-and-mouse game with the Haitian legislature and president. Alternately, he would threaten direct U.S. intervention or to withhold government funds if they did not turn over control of the Haitian custom houses to National City Bank. In defense of Haitian independence, lawmakers refused at every juncture.  

Finally, in 1914, with the outbreak of World War I, Farnham was able to convince Washington that France and Germany posed direct threats to the U.S. by their presence in Haiti. Each had a small colony of business people there.  

In December of 1914, Farnham arranged for the U.S. Marines to come ashore at Port-au-Prince, march into the new National Bank of Haiti and steal two strongboxes containing $500,000 in Haitian currency and sail to New York, where the money was placed in New York City Bank. This made the Haitian government totally dependent on Farnham for finances with which to operate.  

The final and immediate decision to intervene in Haiti came in July of 1915 with yet another overthrow of a Haitian president, this time in the bloody demise of Vilbrun Guillaume Sam.  

For the next 19 years, the U.S. Marine Corps wielded supreme authority throughout Haiti, often dispensing medicines and food as mild forms of pacification. Within several years, however, charges of massacres of Haitian peasants were made against the military as Haitians revolted against the road building programs that required forced labor.  

In one such incident at Fort Reviere, Marines killed 51 Haitians without sustaining any casualties themselves. Assistant Secretary of the Navy Franklin D. Roosevelt awarded Major Smedley D. Butler the Congressional Medal of Honor. That’s not unlike the awarding of Medals of Honor to the “heroes” of the massacre at Wounded Knee, in which hundreds of Sioux Native Americans were slaughtered in 1890.  

Reports of U.S. military abuses against the Haitians became so widespread that NAACP official James Weldon Johnson headed a delegation to investigate the charges, which they deemed to be true.  

While the U.S. occupation was not without some successes—the health care system was improved and the currency was stabilized—it was in other economic spheres where the most damage was done. For the entire 19-year duration of the intervention, maximum attention was given to paying off Haiti’s U.S. creditors, with little to no attention given to developing the economy.  

In 1922 former Marine Brigade Commander John Russell was named as High Commissioner of Haiti, a post he held until the final days of the occupation. Under Russell’s influence, all political dissent was stifled and revenue from the custom houses was turned over, often months ahead of schedule, to Haiti’s U.S. bond creditors, who had assumed loans originally extended to Haiti to pay off the French plantation owners’ reparations!  

By 1929, however, with the Western world’s economic depression and the lowering of living standards throughout Haiti, serious student strikes and worker revolts, combined with Wall Street’s inability to lure serious business investors there, Washington decided it was time to end the military occupation. When President Franklin D. Roosevelt visited Haiti in 1934 to announce the pullout, he was the first head of a foreign nation in Haiti’s history to extend a visit.  

Despite the American military pullout, U.S. financial administrators continued to dominate the Haitian economy until the final debt on the earlier loans was retired in 1947.  

Soon after the United States withdrew from Haiti, a Black consciousness movement of sorts took hold that was the precursor of the Negritude movement popularized by Aimee Cesaire and Leopold Senghor. Francois Duvalier, an early believer in “negritude,” came to power in the late 1950s, popularizing ideas that resonated with a population that had withstood a white foreign occupation for many years.  

By the time Duvalier grabbed the presidency of the world’s first Black republic established by formerly enslaved peoples, Haiti had experienced more than 150 years of chronic impoverishment and discriminatory lending policies by the world’s leading financial institutions and powers. The economic forecast for Haiti has not improved, even with the democratic election of Jean Bertrand Aristide, since he has been consistently demonized in the U.S. and world press.  

UC Students Alive and Well in Haiti

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday January 21, 2010 - 09:43:00 AM

Three UC Berkeley students initially thought missing in Haiti are safe and will help with relief efforts, the university said Thursday.  

Mechanical engineering Ph.D. candidate Jessica Vechakul and Haas Business School MBA candidate Ryan Stanley were working in the seaport town of Les Cayes, about 140 miles southwest of Port-au-Prince, on a development project called Fuel from the Fields when the quake hit.  

“We have been asked to help with the relief efforts, and feel that it is our moral obligation to help while we are in Haiti," Vechakul wrote in a Jan. 14 e-mail to UC Berkeley Risk Management officials who are helping the students with evacuation plans.  

Haas MBA student and Haiti native Glodine Jourdan, who was in Cap Haitien last week working with USAID’s Farmer to Farmer program, wrote to campus officials: “Please be assured we are all well and we are well-supplied currently. I am not sure when we will be able to go to Port-au-Prince, however. The roads through the mountains are impassable. We continue to look at our options and are in connection with the embassy.”  

Campus officials were able to track the students down because Vechakul had signed up for the campus’s travel insurance plan before leaving for Haiti.  





McCarthyism? In Berkeley? Well, No.

By Becky O'Malley
Thursday January 21, 2010 - 09:25:00 AM

The combination of watching the Berkeley City Council and hearing the results of the Massachusetts elections on Tuesday night could give you a serious case of mental indigestion: just too much to swallow in both cases. Even though it was completely predictable, even though I stopped just short of predicting it a couple of weeks ago in this space, Massachusetts was a sad spectacle.  

A friend forwarded E.J. Dionne’s column to me on Wednesday morning. Dionne is one of the few prominent talking heads on the national scene who manages to maintain some connection with observable reality, who remembers what life on the ground is like, outside the glare of TV lights. He said that “this race was the Democrats’ to lose, and they managed to lose it.” Then he went on to detail every dumb thing they’ve done in the last year, and he finished up by saying that Democrats are all too ready to blame each other when things go sour:  

“Why does the term ‘circular firing squad’ seem to pop up after every Democratic defeat? Those Democrats whose mistakes led to this fiasco know who they are. If they don’t take responsibility and instead just try to shift all the blame to someone else, they will prove themselves unprepared for the work they now have to do to get their party out of this hole.” 

Too true, and I would add that three of the last four Massachusetts governors have been Republicans, including the odious Mitt Romney, who bombed so badly when he tried to enter the national scene. My suspicion, based on a number of years working in Democratic party politics, is that the bulk of money spent in this particular race went to entrenched hacks in a state party lulled into complacency by the trailing edge of the Kennedy comet. I have no doubt that it featured the usual ineffective phone banks staffed by lackluster union retirees looking to make a little petty cash on the side and similar enterprises which accomplish nothing but reward the faithful with patronage bucks just for showing up. 

Dionne and others have also tried to extract a national message about the Obama administration from the Massachusetts results. If there is such a message, it’s that business as usual didn’t work there and isn’t working nationally. It’s partly image questions—just the sight of the fat-cat bankers lapping up more cream is bound to offend. But it’s also organizational.  

The wrong people are running the Democratic party nationally as well as in Massachusetts. It’s not healthcare the voters oppose, it’s the spectacle of wheeler-dealers like Rahm Emanuel cynically trading principles for votes in order to engineer a narrow victory in Congress for a weak compromise bill. Emanuel is the product of an Illinois machine very similar to the one in Massachusetts, where back-room deals are preferred to open discussion and transparent decision-making, where going along to get along is the order of the day. 

Which brings us, inevitably, to the local scene. On Tuesday night there were at least two agenda items which highlighted the Berkeley City Council’s increasing reliance on off-camera alliances and insider actions. First, there was the behind-closed-doors “settlement” of the Zamboni organization’s lawsuit against the city for daring to designate the Iceland building a city landmark. The backroom deal between the city and Zamboni which was up for approval was flagrantly illegal in a couple of major ways.  

It was made without the participation of Save Berkeley Iceland. A letter from Berkeley Law faculty member and skater Antonio Rossmann cited “the constitutional premise that litigation should not proceed in the absence of third parties whose interests will be determined by that litigation.” He called the announced settlement terms a “two-party collusion to deprive Save Berkeley Iceland of the benefits of the city’s well-considered landmark designation.” And Berkeley’s longstanding Landmarks Preservation Ordinance doesn’t allow “de-landmarking” a historic resource just because the owner thinks he might not be able to extract maximum profit from selling the property, but that didn’t stop the City Council from trying to do it with this deal.  

The second outrage, late in the evening when most viewers had gone home, was the sanctimonious discussion of whether or not it was proper for Councilmember Jesse Arreguin to have asked about the city of Berkeley’s role in expediting passage of a bill which exempts the University of California’s enormous expansion of the use of its football stadium from a state law regulating new construction on earthquake faults. Councilmembers fell all over each other (shocked, shocked!) castigating Arreguin for daring to ask any questions about the involvement of the mayor and the city staff in this matter. Maio said it felt like a “witch-hunt.” Wozniak even invoked “a senator named McCarthy.” (Both Maio and Wozniak are UC-affiliated retirees.)  

The city manager has denied writing the legislation, no surprise there. But the smoking gun, muttered toward the end of the discussion in his usual hard-to-follow rambling style by Mayor Bates (a former Cal football player) who sometimes doesn’t know whether his mic is on, was that some sort of conferring about SB 113 had indeed taken place under city auspices while it was being drafted. Participants seem to have been city staff, the mayor and/or his staff, and state Sen. Loni Hancock and/or her staff. There was no disclosure of whether it had also been a pillow talk topic for Bates and his wife the senator.  

This is a matter of huge importance to the city of Berkeley. Good old Memorial Stadium is being turned into a $360 million sports-entertainment complex, with many more days in which it will be filled with spectators added to the schedule—the regents sealed the deal on Tuesday. In order to get SB 113 passed, it seems that someone in Berkeley, we still haven’t been told exactly who, told a state Senate committee that our city had no problem with changing the law to make things easier for UC Berkeley to get started on its construction projects.  

Councilmember Arreguin, a model of gentlemanly restraint, called what he was asking about a “lack of transparency.” But the language of another famous inquiry into what government was doing might be more appropriate: What did you know, and when did you know it? One Berkeley speaker Tuesday night said it was all about trust—and many people no longer seem to trust government, for good reason perhaps.  

It’s not clear whether the Massachusetts voters were giving the Democrats a vote of no confidence or were just reacting to an extremely poor local campaign in Tuesday’s election. But the same comment Dionne made about the national party could also apply to the Berkeley City Council: “If they don’t take responsibility and instead just try to shift all the blame to someone else, they will prove themselves unprepared for the work they now have to do...” 



Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

Thursday January 21, 2010 - 09:26:00 AM


Editors, Daily Planet: 

I was confused by Zelda Bronstein’s commentary entitled “Save The Alameda” online today. I drive on Marin Avenue nearly daily and like pretty much everyone I’ve ever heard, think it’s much nicer for motorists now. Making a left turn onto Marin is much easier than before; you only have to clear one oncoming lane, and you’ve got a clear lane in the center to pause in if necessary.  

I suspect pedestrians are happier with it now too. I know I am better able to see them when they’re at in the crosswalks or waiting to cross because there are fewer lanes of cars blocking the view of them.  

So I can’t understand why Ms. Bronstein’s not in favor of a similar reconfiguration of The Alameda. I think it would be a great idea! 

Bob Muzzy 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

When I hear Berkeley’s motorheads oppose the plan to restripe The Alameda to make it safer for residents, I can only think one thing. If they lived on a four-lane street with high-speed traffic, if they had young children who walked around the neighborhood, if they had to worry about whether those children would get home safely, they would be shouting their heads off demanding that the city restripe the street to two lanes to make their neighborhood safer. 

I think we have a new definition of NIMBY: someone who believes 1) on the residential street where I live, the city should do everything possible to control traffic and protect residents’ safety, and 2) on the residential streets where I drive, the city should do nothing to control traffic and protect residents’ safety. 

Charles Siegel 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Thank you for Paul Gackle’s comprehensive coverage of the upcoming decisions regarding Albany’s waterfront. I am one of the many who want to preserve what remains of our beautiful Bay shoreline. Walking “the Bulb” and playing with our dogs on the beach by the racetrack parking lot are key reasons that make living here so special.  

Carol Bledsoe 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Why does commentator Leon Mayeri (“Free Speech vs. Hate Speech,” Jan. 7, 2010) think that the mere mention of Zionist contacts and connections with Nazis is “hate speech” rather than “free speech”? As a Jewish college student, I learned about such historical facts in the 1970s from articles in the U.S. media. Why hasn’t Mr. Mayeri learned about them, too? 

The Israeli press and citizenry certainly have discussed contacts between Nazi Germany and Avraham Stern and his “Stern Gang” (or “Lehi”). There have been books and articles written about those and other contacts. Letter writers to the Daily Planet have not made up these historical facts. The facts are real. Reading the Wikipedia summary about the Lehi group is a good start for those who want to see some of the published sources. 

The reasons why Stern wanted to seek any sort of agreement or alliance with the Nazis may never be completely understood. Did Stern want only to manipulate the Nazis for his own Zionist, anti-British ends? Or was there something even more sinister behind his attempts?  

Whatever the real history, covering it up or—even worse—trying to censor it completely is not “free speech” at all. 

Marc Herman 





Editors, Daily Planet: 

Regarding Pope Pius XII’s canonization: The Jewish neighborhood of Trastevere is within a stone’s throw of Vatican City. Over 1,000 Jews were deported from there to Auschwitz, right under Pope Pius XII’s nose. Only 16 came back. What do you think Jesus would have done if he had lived next door? Pope Benedict claims that the Vatican worked quietly to save Jews from the Nazis during World II. But the Vatican has refused to open its secret archives relating to Pius’s papacy, which would allow scholars to clarify this controversial period in Church history and Pius’s position during the Holocaust. Reportedly, these materials will not be released for another five or six years, well after Pius’s likely canonization. And it is my understanding there is no recall procedure for a Roman Catholic saints. No wonder the Jewish community and many non-Jews are angry. 

Ralph E. Stone 

San Francisco 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I would like to respond to the Jan. 7 issue of the Planet, where it is stated that the Berkeley Housing Authority will sell off public housing stock, so developers can buy the housing units.  

This is both cruel and absurd because they are taking Section 8 housing away from poor and needy people. To privatize Berkeley’s public housing makes no sense at all, as the Section 8 people would have to move out.  

  Tia Ingram, Director of BHA, claims there is a need to provide quality funding for private housing. Many of us know, including former mayor Shirley Dean, how some so-called nonprofit developers have cooked their books. To give an example, Jubilee Restoration, is said to have been praising the Lord and passing the bucks. What they did is in the public record. They even got city money while they were investigated by the feds. 

  There are other housing directors who know the truth about the fraud in the BHA and some of them are too fearful to go tell it on the mountain. I know from past experience that I was threatened, assaulted, robbed and almost killed in Section 8 units for holding Crimewatch meetings.  

  There are many people who want to speak out, but are afraid to do so. Some who spoke out were killed. But, it is not clear-cut, as some of the tenants in these buildings engage in drug dealing and violence. These buildings possibly are being privatized in an effort to reduce crime, but I feel for the innocent Section 8 recipients who do not participate in these activities. In my building these kinds of activities were going on, until I called the drug task force, as well as my neighborhood association. The rest of the story is a very long story that I want to tell on National Public Radio, as it involved my physical and emotional health. 

Diane Villanueva 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

It’s absolutely absurd that Murkowski and her lobbyists from Big Energy are pressuring to destroy the clean air act and any authority that the EPA has. As a Berkeley resident, I’ve seen the damage of pollution from fossil fuels and breath it everyday. I want clean air and clean water for myself, my neighbors, my family, and my children. We need to remove ourselves from fossil fuels and into the health and beauty of renewable energy. I want our Senators to oppose the efforts of Murkowski to undermine the Clean Air Act. 

Charles Humes 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

As one of two people on Berkeley High’s School Governance Council who voted against supporting the proposal to defund the 0 and 7 period science labs, I was interviewed and quoted in the Planet.  

Lesson learned. I will never again try to make a nuanced argument to a reporter with three imminent deadlines. 

Untangling the resulting mash-up, first, it would be hardly be “insane” for the SGC to evaluate whether our kids are well-served by the extra science instructional time. If we’re going to figure out how to successfully educate every child, we need an atmosphere in which people can feel safe questioning existing patterns and practices so we can figure out which ones work and which don’t. However, no such evaluation was done. The SGC did not request a presentation by the science teachers on the strengths and weaknesses of the existing program or on the logistics of moving lab into the regular school day.  

Second, “we don’t have to fly blind” in this decision because one of BHS’s small schools, SSJE, is already teaching science without the extra lab time. We should have asked our science teachers to report to us on whether there’s any statistically significant difference in how the SSJE kids master the information versus cohorts of comparably able students who have the extra class period each week.  

Third, the AP science program is currently delivering the following pass rates relative to the national average: 

AP Biology BHS pass rate 90% national average pass rate 50% 

AP Chemistry BHS pass rate 82% national average pass rate 56.1 %  

AP Physics BHS pass rate 96% national average pass rate 61% 

It takes less than 2 FTE’s, or two teachers’ worth, to provide the extra lab time that makes these results possible. Further, the extra time allows the teachers to support kids through the material rather than just rush everything, which is why BHS kids can take AP sciences without first taking the high school level course. With those results, on so little funding, at a time when Academic Choice is working to increase the participation in AP’s by students of color so more kids can benefit from exposure to challenging curriculum, I just can’t see the logic to cutting that time. We should be celebrating these results and figuring out how to encourage more kids to embrace the extra work and benefit from the challenge of these courses.  

Margit Roos-Collins 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Each state’s two Senators fight for their states. Good: that’s their job. But when a Senator pursues a self-serving (and lucrative) campaign to deprive her state’s citizens, as well as all Americans and neighboring Canada and indeed the globe now of her own Sovernment’s power to protect the very air that we breathe and the water that we drink, her obvious disregard for science and humanity, rather than her rabidly perceived need to fill her campaign war chest (if not her pockets...) must be seen for what it is and it must be stopped. 

I’ll drag out an old evergreen... it didn’t work so well the first 30 years or so I tries it, but as I survive into 4 and 5 decades post-event, it seems to be gaining traction: I spent a year in the fetid Mekong Delta in the Tet Offensive of 1968, proudly serving with a ‘draft’ military commanded by career professionals. Upon returning in 1969, I saw the beginnings of anti-litter campaigns, sad Native Americans with tears in their eyes, “Don’t Be A Litterbug” rollouts, etc.: America was cleaning itself up. Pittsburghers could breathe fresh air again and see the blue sky above the Monongahela once again. San Francisco Bay started to be cleaned up and restored, same w/Chesapeake Bay. Earth Day was born. Natural Foods Stores blossomed (including my own in DC, starting in 1972). The ‘lonely blue planet’ photographed from the moon in 1969 and later showed just how precious our ‘pearl in the dark void’ really is: this is it, there’s only one of us. 

The evergreen: I’ll be damned if I fought a year in the Hell of war facing death, heat prostration, snakes and bugs to face lunacy now, in the form of a greedy, anti-science, anti-environment, corporatist Senator, more than 40 years later. 

Senator Murkowski represents a throwback to the bad-old days of non-stop smoke-belching industry, “unfettered” by rational regulation. Well, we saw how that works out for Wall Street vs. Main Street. If the Fed Gov hadn’t banned lead in car gas decades ago, where do you think we’d be at this point in time: healthier, or more lead-poisoning and lung problems than one can ever imagine? 

On Jan. 20, the Senate was scheduled to vote on an amendment introduced by Alaskan Senator Lisa Murkowski that would strip the EPA of its ability to limit most carbon pollution. The proposal would effectively block action authorized by the Clean Air Act, mandated by the U.S. Supreme Court and recommended by scientists and public health experts.  

I know where Senators Boxer and Feinstein stand; and having lived in New York, Virginia and Maryland, I know that their present Senators agree—and will vote accordingly—stop Murkowski! We vote, and we’re watching. 

Pat Dwyer 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

California State University (CSU) responded to a 20 percent budget cut in 2009 by making plans to reduce enrollment by 40,000 students. Part of the reduction comes from not admitting any transfers for the current semester. “This year, because (CSU) closed transfer and the UC system hasn’t, I would think there’s every reason in the world why UC has seen an increase in applications,” said Susie Williams, a spokeswoman for the Los Rios Community College District, which includes Sacramento City College. Most Los Rios transfers go to UC Davis, Williams said. 

The new data from UC show that the number of transfer students applying to Davis went up by 26 percent compared with last year. Williams and Frank Wada, executive director of undergraduate admissions at UC Davis, touted the transfer agreement between their institutions, which guarantees that Los Rios students can transfer to UC Davis if they take certain classes and earn at least a 2.8 grade-point average. “We are the UC that’s been offering those agreements for the longest time with our community colleges,” Wada said. Last year, the UC Regents decided to admit 500 more transfer students. “That sends a very welcoming message,” Wilbur said.  

It is also irredemably stupid. Students applying to UC Berkeley for next fall have slightly higher grade-point averages than in the past, with the average among current applicants at 3.85. Applicants’ SAT scores to any of UC’s nine undergraduate campuses were up, too, averaging 1,731 out of a possible 2,400. Scores rose two years in a row at every campus, with Berkeley again attracting the top scorers. They averaged 1,841. Test scores are required only of freshman applicants. 

Richard Thompson 

San Diego 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

It is very unfair to label as looters the Haitians who remove food from collapsed stores and distribute it to their friends and community. These are desperate starving people in a place where the commercial infrastructure has collapsed, aid is only slowly trickling in and the bags of rice they are finding will be destroyed in the first rain if not protected from the elements. These people are scavengers doing important and dangerous work to feed their struggling community, not pillaging looters. Put yourself in their shoes before you label them. 

Tom Lent 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

As a graduate student at UC Berkeley focused on developing clean energy solutions for the world (bioenergy, specifically), I am appalled by the proposed amendment to the Clean Air Act. Too little is being done to address the most serious issue of our time—global climate change. The Clean Air Act finally gives the EPA power to limit carbon pollution, which plays a major role in this climate crisis. Senator Lisa Murkowski’s proposed amendment appeals to the demands of lobbyists from energy companies which contribute most to carbon pollution. This amendment would significantly weaken our ability to protect our air, water, and climate for generations to come. 

To those in office—we, the American people, are watching your vote. When the Senate votes on this amendment, make the right choice. Allow the United States to finally reduce our dependence on foreign oil and dirty energy sources and transition to the myriad clean energy solutions for which scientists like myself have dedicated our lives to make a reality. 

Meera Atreya 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

I have just received a “robo” call from a Washington, DC front group for the Insurance Lobby asking me to call tell my U.S. senator that they should not remove Medicare Advantage. They have it set up that if you want to tell your Senator to support “your rights” they connect you directly to the Senator’s office. 

Of course, this is an affront to our rights and to democracy. It should be illegal for health care dollars to be used to mislead people into supporting more profit for the Insurance industry. As you know Medicare Advantage is one of the big loopholes through which the Insurance giants have been stealing public health care money. I pressed one and left an appropriate message supporting the effort to eliminate Medicare Advantage. You and many others will be receiving these same calls. I think that if we spread the word and tell people to go ahead and press one and go ahead and tell our Senators that we are appalled by the use of tax dollars and health insurance dollars to lobby for higher profits by this technique of misleading “robo” calls and that they should ignore the flood of voicemails that come from the misunderstanding this propaganda is creating we might counteract the process a bit. 

Marc Sapir 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

Once a filibuster required you to commit to bringing the machine of government to a halt because an issue was so important that a Senator was willing to stake his or her reputation on it. Now, it’s just obstructionist. What kind of system allows Lieberman and Nelson to control a vote? 

Clyde Leland 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

As a resident on Monterey Ave. I am dismayed that the city is proposing re-striping the Alameda by my home. It is the one breath of fresh air I look forward to on my occasional drives down MLK. It seems the city council has decided we should all take the bus, walk and bike at all times. I do take the bus daily to work and walk whenever possible—in fact my car sits in the driveway for five days in a row during the week. The idea that somehow this will improve the quality of life here in North Berkeley is dubious at best. If anything it will bring in more traffic and result in more smog and stalled cars at the stop light by my home. 

The Marin Avenue restriping is a perfect example: Basically the restriping has done nothing. I see about four bicycles a year using the bike lanes. A complete waste of time and worse pollution and traffic. 

I bet if you actually asked the citizens in this neighborhood what they would like you would get about 90 percent saying NO! There are enough real problems in Berkeley already, please stop wasting everyone’s time with this proposal and leave well enough alone! 

Dan Gordon 



Editors, Daily Planet: 

If you’re inclined to make a donation to help with earthquake relief in Haiti and haven’t done so yet, may we suggest Partners in Health? It’s the organization that Dr. Paul Farmer founded, and that supports and extends his work. Its website is http://pih.org. (You may be familiar with Paul Farmer through Tracy Kidder’s book Mountains beyond Mountains.) 

Partners in Health has a long history of doing effective and principled work in Haiti, in “pragmatic solidarity” with the people there. So it’s in position to quickly get help to where it’s most needed. Its website details its ongoing programs and what it’s doing in the wake of the earthquake—securing medical and other supplies, setting up field hospitals in Port-au-Prince, gearing up for the increased flow of patients to its existing facilities in the countryside, etc. 

PIH’s principles and practices are explored in Kidder’s book and Farmer’s own writing (Pathologies of Power and Infections and Inequalities among others). Among its principles are that everyone has the right to good health and state-of-the-art health care regardless of the ability to pay, and that efforts to provide good medical care must also strengthen communities and address the structural causes of poverty. Its practices are briefly outlined on this web page: pih.org/what/PIHmodel.html 

This is not the sort of e-mail we would ordinarily send out. But the earthquake has created an extraordinary situation and we have become deeply impressed with PIH’s work. Many thanks for considering it. 

Don Larkin and Cissy Freeman 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

One of the recognized tactics of propagandists is name-calling. Jerome J. Garcia relies on this technique in his Letter to the Editor titled “Berkeley Ferry” (Planet, Jan. 14) claiming “…only people with NIMBY attitudes do not want this public project to happen.” 

  Garcia’s position appears to be based primarily on nostalgia and is short on facts. He trashes environmental concerns about the ferry project as making no sense, citing vague historical generalities—as though it is not germane to question practices that are neither environmentally nor economically appropriate.   

  Fact-based critiques of WETA’s ferry proposal have been published by a cross-section of concerned citizens. Paul Kamen, a local marine architect and member of Berkeley’s Waterfront Commission, has calculated that WETA’s “cleanest diesel ferries in the world” with their projected ridership will have a larger carbon footprint and burn more fuel per passenger mile than a single-passenger SUV (public communication). Brad Smith, a former Waterfront Commissioner, has documented (Planet, Nov. 25, 2009) the excessive public subsidy that this project will saddle California taxpayers with. Roy Nakadegawa, traffic engineer and former BART Director, stated (Planet, April 20, 2007) that: “Overall, from public cost, usability and benefits, we will be better off improving our bus service than funding a new ferry.” I have documented (Planet, Oct. 22, 2009) that WETA’s projected Berkeley ridership could be accommodated simply by running five additional BART cars (not trains) per day. 

  In conclusion, just as there are obviously projects that should not be built in back yards, there are projects that should not be built in Berkeley’s Marina Park. The negative environmental and economic impacts of this proposal have been well documented in this and other forums—again, based on facts rather than nostalgia.  

  Mr. Garcia, substantiating the problems inherent with this project does not make one a NIMBY. 

David Fielder 




Editors, Daily Planet: 

The current “health care reform” bill shows exactly why America is in such serious trouble: our so-called leaders are working full-time for corporate profiteers against the interests of American citizens. 

Glen Kohler 


California’s Folly — Prop. 13

By Arthur I. Blaustein
Thursday January 21, 2010 - 09:26:00 AM

In November 1978 Harper’s magazine published my article on the passage of Proposition 13 with the headline “Californians Rush for Fool’s Gold.” 

At that time, Prop. 13 was getting lots of national media attention. The pundits of type and tube were hyping California as the pace-setter for a post-Watergate America. At the same time the cultural gurus were proclaiming it to be a proving ground for paradise. 

Even George F. Will, the usually cautious Washington Post columnist declared, “The East Coast, landfall for immigrants of all sorts, once was the laboratory of American politics. Today California, land’s end for migrants of all sorts, is the laboratory.” 

Birthplace of the “less is more” philosophy, the Golden State had become both the cultural fad-fashioner of the nation and a dominant political force. What did this imply for the nation politically? Many observers referred to California trendiness as a hopeful sign of America’s greening. 

While reflecting upon the “have a nice day” patter of the pundits who were heaping praise on Prop. 13 , I recalled something that Albert Einstein had said, “There are only two things in this world that I’m fairly sure about. That E=MC2 and man’s capacity for folly. And I’m not that certain about the first.” 

Indeed, Prop. 13 was to become California’s Folly. 

I thought then, and am firmly convinced now, that the key elements in the proposition—the taxation formula and the two-thirds legislative requirement — would be responsible for causing a fiscal and social disaster. These two requirements have in time helped to lead the state into financial bankruptcy and created a dysfunctional state government. And the social consequences that I predicted then, and are all too apparent now, are, a race to the bottom in: education (from K through our highly esteemed university system); public health; social services; public safety; arts, libraries and culture; and infrastructure development; as well as crippling the ability of local governments to provide basic amenities. 

In one way or another, almost everyone will pay a price; but the middle class, the working class and the poor—those who are dependent on public services—will be hurt the most because of cutbacks. 

What I did not anticipate is that the financial squeeze would be exacerbated by a rigid and myopic band of ideologically reactionary Republicans in the state Senate who seem uniformly opposed to common sense and the public good. The problems were compounded by the recall of a governor, Gray Davis, who tried to ameliorate the deficit with a fair tax on auto registration. And he was replaced by a governor who has neither the will nor the stomach to deal with the terminal negativity of his own Party in the Legislature. 

So, instead of the greening of America we got the greeding of America, for three decades; fueled by the media hoopla over Prop. 13 and exemplified by the national policies of Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. 

Finally, as we head into a year of campaigning for the governorship and the Legislature, it is my fervent hope that the California electorate will have learned their lesson and elect leaders who will have the courage to restore equity and fairness to the state’s economic and social policies. 

A healthy beginning would be to amend Prop. 13 by removing its protections of commercial property while retaining the benefits for homeowners; as well as passing a straightforward referendum that simply states, “All legislation actions based on revenue and budget shall be determined by majority rule.” 

Now is the time to face reality and right the wrongs of the past. We cannot afford to live with—or pass on to our children and grandchildren—the painful consequences of 30 years of regressive policies and government by provisional catastrophe. 


• • • 

From Harper’s, November, 1978: 

… The reactionary dream of George Wallace and Ronald Reagan, repudiated by the nation at large in 1968 and again in 1976, has come to pass in California under the rubric of “a people’s tax revolt.” Four months after the passage of Proposition 13 by an enthusiastic majority in that benighted state, politicians elsewhere in the country have declared themselves in possession of a new revelation. In primary and election campaigns this fall, they have been saying that big government needs to be reduced, and they advertise themselves as courageous representatives of an electorate righteously aroused. 

Before the rest of the nation joins the headlong rush to the sea, the fine print in Proposition 13 deserve a slightly more careful examination than has been provided by the wise men of the doting media 

A number of states have adopted the initiative and referendum process, but none has used it so often as California. The initiative has not proved to be a very sound means of enacting legislation. Initiatives are typically reflexive, emotional reactions to an issue, poor substitutes for the hearings, debates, compromises, and deliberations that distinguish the legislative process. And so with Proposition 13. 

A disarmingly simple initiative of 389 words, it limits the taxes levied on any piece of real property—houses, apartments, factories, and businesses—and makes the limitation binding on the state Legislature as an amendment to the Constitution. 

Proposition 13 promised to cut California’s high property taxes by some $7 billion per year, from $12 billion to $5 billion. It immediately reduces property-tax bills approximately 57 percent by rolling back the maximum rate of tax to 1 percent of the property’s 1975-76 assessed valuation, and restricts futures levies to 2 percent per year. The initiative further requires a two-thirds majority in both houses of the state legislature to approve increases in any other state tax. 

Howard Jarvis, the chief architect of the initiative in concert with Paul Gann, a retired real estate salesman, spent $28,000 to secure 1,264,000 signatures, more than twice the 500,000 need to place his petition on the ballot. And amid the hoopla of his lavish public relations campaign, a number of insidious provisions in the initiative were obscured. For example, Proposition 13 states that property will be assessed at current market value “when purchased, newly constructed, or change in ownership has occurred.” 

As houses are built and change hands, they will receive far higher assessments than voters were led to believe. And because families move more often than such corporate giants as Standard Oil, Lockheed, Chevron, and B of A, the heaviest property tax burden must shift from the corporations best able to bear it,to individuals. 

Fewer houses will be built as a result of Proposition 13’s requirement of a two-thirds majority of the electorate to pass the bonds that sub-dividers depend upon to finance such public facilities such as schools, fire stations, and water works. Because available housing stock will diminish, market prices are bound to soar and with them the taxes new homeowners will have to pay. A less stringent alternative was available to Californians, if they had only been willing to consider it 

Governor Jerry Brown and the state Legislature, stung by Jarvis’ achievement, drafted a compromise measure that appeared on the ballot as Proposition 8. Sponsored by Republican state Sen. Peter Behr, Proposition 8 would have given homeowners a 30 percent cut in property taxes, paid for lost revenues through state budget surplus, and placed a cost-of-living ceiling on state and local expenditures. Proposition 8 was designed to limit the growth of the state treasury rather than to diminish its existing size. Further, Proposition 8 could have been amended by the Legislature. Proposition 13 can be altered only by a two-thirds majority of California voters in another popular referendum., and thus bind the state to a condition of fiscal extremity. 

Jarvis made a point of reminding homeowners about their $7 billion windfall. He failed to mention that $2.5 billion will be transferred to the federal government in the form of higher income taxes because Californians will have less property tax to deduct. If corporations and property owners are the winners, the losers are the disadvantaged and the poor. Chanting “limitation” mantras and raising karma, Jerry Brown helped to create the hostile anti-government atmosphere in the state that yielded Proposition 13. In his four years as governor, Brown failed to secure decent tax reform. He accumulated the largest state budget surplus in the nations’ history, and this proved the most effective weapon in the arsenal of the initiative’s advocates. 

The surplus, estimated during the campaign at $3 billion to $5 billion, was indeed to be Brown’s ticket to the White House. The governor could only enhance his candidacy in 1980 by pointing to the huge surplus as evidence of his frugality. But Howard Jarvis discovered Brown’s pot of gold, and he beat Brown at his own game. When critics of Proposition 13 objected that is passage would cripple the government’s ability to provide essential human services, Jarvis had only to cite the surplus in rebuttal. It was left to the voter to imagine what would become of those services once the surplus was depleted. 

Now that the amendment has passed, Brown speaks as if it had been his own idea from the first. His chidings at the National Governors’ Conference late this summer might have been uttered by Howard Jarvis himself. 

Proposition 13 indeed proclaims a message, but it is not the one sung in popular chorus. The issues of big government versus small government is moot; big government is here to stay. The real issue is whether government will be dominated by privileged interests and their hucksters or whether ordinary people will have some say through the conventional political process. The paradox of the California referendum is that so many ordinary people voted their power away. 


Professor Arthur I. Blaustein teaches Community and Economic Development and Urban Policy at the  University of California, Berkeley. He was chair of the President’s National Advisory Council on Economic Opportunity under President Jimmy Carter and his most recent books are Make a Difference: America’s Guide to Volunteering and Community Service and The American Promise: Justice and Opportunity. 




Free Speech at UC Berkeley Today

Thursday January 21, 2010 - 09:27:00 AM

The Board of Directors of the Free Speech Movement Archives (www. fsm-a.org) includes a number of participants from the 1964 Berkeley Free Speech Movement, and we believe we can speak with some authority on behalf of those who made that movement a success. 

The Board views the events of Nov. 20 and Dec. 11 on the Berkeley campus with the greatest concern. We are appalled by the violence perpetrated by police forces on bystanders outside Wheeler Hall on Nov. 20. Police violence has escalated far beyond that which we experienced forty-five years ago, with fingers broken by clubs and firearms inappropriately aimed and fired at unarmed people behind barricades. Where was the University administration, which today claims the FSM as its own, while this was happening? 

We are also both shocked and appalled by the assault carried out against the occupied residence of the Chancellor on Dec. 11. Regardless of provocations, violence as an act of protest serves no worthwhile purpose; it divides the community and benefits our opponents by diverting attention away from the real issue—the defunding of public education. It is a sure route to scaring people away from action and can accomplish nothing positive in this situation. 

The campus community faces a challenge far greater than any we faced: to overcome the decades-long campaign, carried on at the highest levels of government, media, and business, to eradicate the state’s promise of tuition-free education for all who qualify. Success in this struggle to return higher education in California to its original vision will require a broad coalition that includes not only students and faculty, but parents, labor, religious and civic organizations, reaching out to the electorate. It will require the suppression of urges to “get even,” to “show our anger,” and to attempt to “create crisis”—the crisis is already here! 

It is time to build a functioning democratic, inclusive, representative and non-violent movement that enables all participants in the struggle for accessible higher education to work together. 


Adopted by the Board of Directors of The Free Speech Movement Archives 

Dec. 21, 2009 


The Free Speech Movement Archives is a 501 (c)(3) California nonprofit corporation. 


Board members: Margot S. Adler, Bettina Aptheker, Susan C. Druding, Lee Felsenstein, Jackie Goldberg, Lynne Savio Hollander, Thomas Savio, Marston Schultz, Kathleen Piper, Gar Smith, Barbara T. Stack. Officers: Lee Felsenstein, president, Kathleen Piper, secretary, Anita Medal,      treasurer.

City Targets Berkeley Senior Scientist And a Nonprofit

By Rosalie Say
Thursday January 21, 2010 - 09:28:00 AM

On Dec. 15, 2009, the Berkeley City Council held a public hearing on the city’s proposed $8,000 lien concerning the boarding-up of Dr. Rash Ghosh’s McGee and Dwight property. City officials supervised the city’s boarding-up of Dr. Ghosh’s buildings, which violated its own order to board from the inside as well as a court order, and defeated the alleged purpose for boarding.  

All the city accomplished was our eviction, and it is now delaying our return to our affordable and safe housing. The proposed lien is another attempt by the city to push the property owner into additional financial hardship and make it more difficult for him to get his property back.  

We believe that the lien is completely unjustified. This is especially true considering that the staff of building chief Joan MacQuarrie signed off on the remodeling of both buildings in 1993 and early 1998. A senior zoning planner signed off the McGee property in February of 1998. Unfortunately, the city did not honor its own approval. Is it wrong to trust your local government and rely on its approval and spend thousands of dollars following that approval? The city now admits publicly that it signed off on the previous permit, yet the city’s subsequent actions have caused Dr. Ghosh tremendous financial hardship and have severely impacted his health.The boarding-up is one of the many examples of the city’s gross mistreatment of Dr. Ghosh. 

On Sept. 6, 2007, without notice, the city ordered our landlord and his eight minority tenants to vacate our residence at 2507 McGee immediately for “safety” reasons. Our non-profit organization and activities center (temple) at the same address were also closed. The circumstances of the building’s closure were very unusual, as is the manner in which the city suddenly evicted us without any court order and denied the due process allowed to other city residents.  

The city sent about eight people to inspect the property, and this happened during a staff shortage and reduced public services. Why so many people, especially under such conditions? Is this the normal practice for a house inspection? If not, why the different treatment? On several occasions after the closure, city officials including the building chief entered Dr. Ghosh’s buildings illegally and without notice. These officials should not have so little regard for the law. 

Our rights for a mandatory hearing as aggrieved parties were denied repeatedly. A relocation notice was sent to our landlord weeks after the city evicted us illegally. We appealed to the Housing Commission, but have received no response. The Peace and Justice Commission was explicitly told not to entertain our case. Why is the city preventing us from being heard? 

Dr. Ghosh was complying with the city’s undue demand to undo the work that he did with their approved permit and he notified us about the relocation. If the work was not completed within a short time, the house was supposed to be put into receivership and given to for-profit developer Ali Kashani, and his partner, former city of Berkeley zoning manager Mark Rhoades. While the owner was in Washington, D.C., the city made an arrangement to inspect the house with someone improperly claiming to represent the nonprofit, although he had no authorization to do so. The city had received no formal complaint from tenants or neighbors, so what was their authority to compel this inspection? 

The highly reputed Gill’s Electric completed electrical work with new material at the cost of $33,000. The foundation and structure were done for $75,000. The city approved both these jobs in Sept. 2008, and we were awaiting the final signoff allowing us to return to our home. Instead the city has prevented legal work for the last 15 months. Why? 

To understand the irregularity of the present case, it must be understood in its larger context. In 1990, a private consulting firm assessed the property as severely damaged by the 1989 earthquake and suggested demolition. The former owner agreed and informed the planning department of his intent to do so and initiated action to remove his Caucasian tenants on the same “safety issue” used to evict us. The city refused to allow the eviction, stating that the property was not a candidate for demolition. Yet the condition of the building at that time was in fact seriously compromised. Why did the city do this when Caucasian tenants lived there, but now takes this unprecedented action against minority tenants?  

To us, this is a plain and simple seizure of private property and an overstepping of the city’s authority. The city’s actions were intended to deliver the property to their proposed receiver. Our landlord is clearly an easy target—a Bengali retired senior citizen (East Indian origin) and a minority who has been forced by the city to bear the costs of its deliberate mistakes on property which they now publicly admit has been approved with permits signed off. 

This property has been improved over time and provides safe and affordable housing to me and others. It is a place where people of diverse cultures, faiths, colors, and disciplines live in a collegial environment. The city has moved swiftly against this property but has ignored real problem properties. The Southwest Berkeley drug houses have a thirty-year history of criminal activity and community complaints, yet the city refuses to deal effectively with these problems. In 2008 the Alameda County Civil Grand Jury issued a report stating as such. According to its testimony to the Grand Jury, the city claimed that “under the law it must have a high benchmark for seizure of private property, particularly a home.” 

Thanks to the Daily Planet, the city now publicly admits that the whole project was signed off on in 1998. I am worried that I will lose my permanent affordable housing forever. I lived in the back attic which is legal. Attorney Zach Cowan admitted this in writing that “the rear part of the third floor is not covered by the abatement order” but now they wanted this removed. 


Rosalie Say is with the International Institute of Bengal Basin.

Instant Runoff Voting: Momentum Is Building for Electoral Reform

By Chris Kavanagh
Thursday January 21, 2010 - 09:28:00 AM

In what is being hailed by electoral reform activists as a landmark victory for future third-party election efforts in the East Bay, the Oakland City Council on Jan. 5 passed a measure that dramatically transforms the City of Oakland’s election process. 

Beginning in 2010, Oakland’s mayoral and City Council elections will use San Francisco’s current “Instant Run-off Voting” (IRV) system—also known as “Ranked Choice Voting”—to elect candidates. 

IRV allows voters to rank candidates on a first, second and third choice basis until one candidate receives a 50 percent (plus one) threshold of votes cast. 

Like San Francisco’s IRV system, Oakland will now abolish its current two-stage candidate election process—an election in June followed by a second run-off election six months later in November—by allowing Oakland voters to select a winning candidate in a single election: the November general election. 

Oakland’s electoral reform breakthrough will now enable strong Green Party and progressive Democratic Party candidates, among others, to have much greater viability and access to voter consideration in the lead-up to the next November general election. 

Entrenched establishment candidates/politicians with wide name recognition and generous special interest-funded campaign operations—such as announced Oakland mayoral candidate Don Perata for example—will have to contend with a more level playing field when challenged by current Oakland Green Party mayoral candidate Don Macleay and progressive Democratic Party candidate Jean Quan. 

   By eliminating the low turnout June “primary” candidate election, third party candidates will have an opportunity to build and deepen coalitions—and voter support—leading up to the November IRV election. 

   Since the introduction of IRV voting in San Francisco, for example, candidate coalition building and outreach has led to the election of a solid progressive majority on the city’s Board of Supervisors. Since 2006, progressive supervisors have voted consistently as a bloc on a wide range of issues, including rent control, tenant rights, affordable housing, and immigration policy among other issues. 

   The political establishment’s false claims that third-party candidates act as election “spoilers,” or that voting for the “lesser of two evils” is the best available option, will now become discredited notions, relegated to the dustbin of history. 

    In 2006, Oakland voters passed overwhelmingly—by a 69 percent landslide—a ballot measure mandating that the city implement IRV voting for candidate elections. On Jan. 5, the Oakland City Council acted upon the voter’s mandate. 

   Oakland’s decision should provide the momentum necessary for two more East Bay cities to implement IRV: Berkeley and San Leandro. Both cities have passed ballot measures mandating IRV for candidate elections, and both cities are scheduled to vote on implementing IRV during January 2010. 

   Like Oakland, five years ago, Berkeley’s voters passed a ballot measure mandating IRV elections by an overwhelming margin—72 percent. 

   The momentum for IRV—and a more transparent, democratic electoral system—is gaining in other California cities as well: Los Angeles, Long Beach and San Jose have all taken initial steps toward examining the viability of implementing IRV for future municipal elections. 

   With IRV, the powerful two (or one) party monopoly that has managed to block the Green Party and other third parties from voter visibility and access may finally be penetrated and dislodged. 


Chris Kavanagh is a Green Party member and former Alameda Green Party Central Council member.

Incredible Boldness

By Marvin Chachere
Thursday January 21, 2010 - 09:30:00 AM

I am not a masochist and therefore I cannot explain why I allowed myself to suffer for two minutes seeing and listening to Bush and Clinton ask us to help Haiti (YouTube). My stomach turned over seeing George W, poised unblinkingly before the cameras, saying, “When confronted with massive human suffering Americans have always stepped up and answered to call to help.” Witnessing such incredible boldness is excruciating. Here was the worst president in our history speaking as if he sincerely wanted to do for the black residents of a benighted island what he failed to do for the black residents of his own country in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. 

  Bill Clinton’s appearance, understandable as (self-promoting) president of the Clinton Foundation, was, as former US president, more disgusting. He continued his predecessor’s policy of intercepting shiploads of Haitians, refusing to hear pleas for asylum (granted to other immigrants) and abruptly escorting them back where they came from. Indeed, US policy is responsible in no small measure for Haiti’s being the poorest country in the western hemisphere. Haiti has been a real or virtual protectorate of the US for the last hundred years, always manipulated and from after WWI until 1935 occupied by US military.  In living memory, US policy no more than winked at the ruthless murders during the Duvalier era. Afterwards the US tried to make amends by supporting the election and bolstering the presidency of Bertrand Aristide.  

  I wanted to find out the conditions in Haiti when Bill and Hilary Clinton honeymooned there so I went on the Internet and without reading the text of “Haiti in 1975” learned from photos that abject poverty and squalor 35 years ago were on a par with that prevailing for decades before the earthquake—except of course for hillside mansions with servants where newlyweds, Bill and Hilary, could, no doubt, wallow for a time in secluded luxury.  

  The earthquake that destroyed Haiti, like the flood that destroyed New Orleans following Katrina, no more than revealed with murderous effect, decades of neglect, manipulation and indifference.  

  An avalanche of money and humanitarian aid sure to come in the wake of this Category 5 news event will never succeed in rebuilding Haiti—nor New Orleans—because people in power are complacent and complicit; they will not reverse prejudices manifested in allowing poverty to fester and spread wherever descendents of slaves have made their home.  


Marvin Chachere is a San Pablo resident.

Hurricanes, Earthquakes, and Private Profit

By Michael Bishop
Thursday January 21, 2010 - 09:31:00 AM

Like Hurricane Katrina that ripped the Gulf Coast and New Orleans in particular, the earthquake that shook Haiti and Port-au-Prince is not simply a “natural disaster.” The death unfolding on a scale impossible to imagine is not simply the result of an “exceptional set of circumstances.” Rather, powerful impacts of this event are in large part due to past actions of the United States, uncovering the poverty that lurks just below the surface from Alexandria to Oakland. 

Yes, give generously to the Haitian people. Their immediate needs are great. But please consider whether giving money to reconstruct the previous unjust social system is more valuable than taking action to prevent the wholesale disempowerment of a people—and how this current tragedy underscores the failures of our own country in the face of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. 

In 2005 thousands of students responded to the man-made disaster in New Orleans, a result of the failed levee system that could not withstand even the Hurricane 2 winds (at landfall) of Katrina. Decades of cuts to education and social services, and a general failure of responsibility of the government to provide for its people revealed an underclass that had been there all along, now exposed by the flood waters. 

The disaster in Haiti last week comes with Haitian President Jean Bertrand Aristide once again deposed, this time in 2004 with the direct involvement of the US. The US State Department now controls the borders of Haiti, barring select countries from entry to the country through the airport. Borders are a sovereign issue. Was the Haitian government involved in this decision? Plainly, it should determine every step of its own reconstruction. It is all too likely that without global outrage the voices of the people of Port-au-Prince will be shut out entirely form the recovery and rebuilding process. The poor and working-class people of New Orleans, dispersed as they were by FEMA (the stories of one-way bus tickets are true) continue to be shut out of the reconstruction of their city. The National Guard entered New Orleans as an outside, occupying force, whose explicit message (guns, soldiers, troop transports) was violence, and which implicitly demanded “order” over “justice.” This “order” in the form of military presence was maintained long enough for the school system to be partitioned into three, and healthcare and housing further privatized. 

In “Ten Things the US Can and Should Do for Haiti” Bill Quigley, a voice for social justice in New Orleans urged the international community to de-militarize the humanitarian relief bound for Haiti. In the long term this “militarized aid” in the form of austerity measures and structural adjustment demands that the public commons, those things useful to all—schools, public health, housing for the elderly and sick—fall into private hands and bring profit to a few. 

Which neighborhoods in Port-au-Prince and New Orleans did the military secure first? Once these questions are asked, is it any wonder that survivors seek to address their own physical needs? Wouldn’t you? Despite the media’s racist portrayal of “violent” “looters,” would this same term be used if the survivors were white? New Orleans again provides a useful example, and as we saw white folks in New Orleans were not labeled this way. 

The Obama White House looks no different than the Clinton administration in its embrace of neoliberalism. The repressive right has its own ways to come to the defense of the neoliberal model. In “The Underlying Tragedy” David Brooks agrees with much written above. “Why is Haiti so poor? Well, it has a history of oppression, slavery and colonialism.” Brooks fails to include that inconvenient detail about much of all three being the responsibility of the US. Both religious zealots and ideological conservatives agree that there is a problem—that problem of course being the deficit within the working-class, darker-skinned people themselves. Brooks admits “This is not a natural disaster story. This is a poverty story,” but then quickly redirects. His solemn conclusion is, “We’re all supposed to politely respect each other’s cultures. But some cultures are more progress-resistant than others, and a horrible tragedy was just exacerbated by one of them.” 

Christian broadcaster Pat Robertson stated more bluntly, “[S]omething happened a long time ago in Haiti and people might not want to talk about it. They were under the heel of the French…And they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, ‘We will serve you if you get us free from the prince.’ …And so the devil said, ‘OK, it’s a deal.’” This statement of Robertson’s is no different than similar statements in reaction to the flooding of New Orleans public housing, perfectly habitable but ultimately destroyed nonetheless by Mayor Ray Nagin’s bulldozers. Instead this time it was Richard Baker, a Congressman from Baton Rouge, who said: “We finally cleaned up public housing in New Orleans. We couldn’t do it, but God did.” The parallels between the tragedies in New Orleans and Haiti are not a coincidence, or due to the culture of a people. 

The BBC states that “Haiti became the world’s first black-led republic and the first independent Caribbean state when it threw off French colonial control and slavery in a series of wars in the early 19th century.” And Craig Guillot writes, “French Creoles immigrated to New Orleans in large numbers after the Haitian revolution of 1804 and brought their own food, music and culture. These free people of color, along with those who came from Cuba after 1809, prospered in New Orleans throughout the 19th century.” 

So yes, as far as Haiti is concerned, “Along with sending emergency relief, we should ask what we can do to facilitate the self-empowerment of Haiti’s people and public institutions.” But also ask, what of New Orleans? What of the state of our own communities that require only a tragedy like an earthquake to pull back the veil of poverty to see the sum of our misguided priorities? 


Mike Bishop is an Oakland resident and a member of the Katrina Solidarity Network, www.katrinasolidarity.org

Solving the Air Scare Dilemma

By Gar Smith
Thursday January 21, 2010 - 09:32:00 AM

Thanks to a would-be Jockey-short Jihadist with three ounces of powdered explosive in his shorts, I recently found myself flying back to the U.S. smack in the midst of air travel’s Scared New World. The prospect of being denied access to a bathroom during the last hour of flight left me pondering the creative repurposing of airsickness bags. 

If spending $75 billion on intelligence can’t protect us from an engineering student with a pinch of PETN in his briefs, maybe it’s time to rethink our approach. Here are several simple, low-cost solutions that I managed to jot down on my in-flight snack napkin: 

• Require that passengers be handcuffed in flight. Planes could be easily retrofitted with seat belts AND arm belts. A “convenience button” on the armrests could summons cabin attendants to release passengers and escort them safely to and from the lavatory. 

• Sedate passengers for the duration. After all, there’s not much to stay awake for when there are no free meals, in-flight movies or laptop time. A bonus: the airlines would be able to guarantee that passengers would arrive at their destination “relaxed and refreshed.” (And if the unthinkable were to happen, family members would have the comfort that comes from knowing their loved ones died peacefully in their sleep.) 

• Disburse gift baskets of Depends™ (since the the last thing you want to worry about while flying intercontinental is incontinence); instead of trying to check everyone’s underwear, passengers could simply swap their undies for TSA-approved diapers. 

• Require that passengers wear boxing gloves. Just try pushing hidden detonator buttons or operating syringes while wearing a pair of Everlast Protex sparring gloves. Can’t be done. 

• Replace complimentary sleep masks with complimentary blindfolds that would remain in place from takeoff to landing. Another option: Gitmo-style head-hoods. In the event of an emergency, head-hoods could also serve as emergency oxygen masks—a particularly useful option if your hands are (1) strapped to your armrest or (2) enclosed in boxing gloves. 

• The push for pricey machines that allow security clerks to peer beneath clothing suggests yet another avenue for air-safety advocates. Once travelers become accustomed to the indignity of strangers peeping beneath their outerwear, it is only a small step to requiring the “enhanced security” that comes from flying nude.The concept could be introduced incrementally with discount fares for “clothing-optional” travel. (“Would you prefer the clothing or the non-clothing section?”) For onboard comfort, passengers could be issued full-body jumpsuits. They would, of course, be transparent. This would speed the boarding process by replacing the tedious task of removing—and redonning—shoes, belts, and watches with a Total-Self-Strip-Search. Upon reaching their destination, passengers would reclaim their clothing at the baggage carousels. (Admittedly, clothes will sometimes wind up at another airport: Some modern air travel problems will never be solved.) 

• Finally, for greater safety, passengers’ feet could be chained to the floor to prevent anyone from bolting from their seats to storm the cockpit. 

Add it all up and you’ve got the kind of proven Pentagon-level security used to ferry enemy combatants from the battlescapes of Afghanistan to the battlements of Guantanamo. 

Of course there’s an easier, cheaper way to avoid Terror in the Air: Go Greyhound. 


Gar Smith is a Berkeley-based writer and co-founder of Environmentalists Against War.

Silencing the Witnesses

By Andrea Prichett
Thursday January 21, 2010 - 09:32:00 AM

Police misconduct is epidemic in this country and anyone with two eyes and a heart knows this is true. The few protections against abuse that once existed have been removed. The Berkeley Police Review Commission, once a model for the nation, has been emasculated to the point that its hearings are held in secret and its findings are confidential. As most observers know, our elected officials are loathe to offer any public resistance to police supremacy. 

I recently experienced how bold police have become in this era of increased police power and immunity. On Thursday, January 14, I was walking with a friend on Telegraph Ave. We observed about five police units and seven or more officers surrounding an African-American man whose legs were restrained in a wrap device. He was shirtless with his arms bound behind him and a hood on his head. He complained that he couldn't breathe. Within two minutes of our arrival, UCPD officer Aranas #76 ran up on us and began pushing us up onto the sidewalk. Despite the fact that we were about 50-60 feet away, the man was bound, other people were observing, the cop threatened me for having stepped off of the sidewalk. 

This officer knew me; he knew that for 20 years I have been working with Copwatch and have been advocating for increased police oversight. In fact, this officer also knew that I had been deposed as an expert witness in a civil suit against him related to allegations of his misconduct. Perhaps that is why he gave me a ticket for simply stepping off of the curb. Perhaps that is why he decided that I should be handcuffed while he wrote the ticket for “Pedestrian on a Roadway.” Perhaps that is why, rather than actually tell me to give him my cell phone, he resorted to pain compliance holds on my hands and fingers. 

I know that I was targeted for my effort to observe this dubious procedure on Telegraph Ave. I suspect I that was targeted by this officer because I tried to hold him accountable for his actions in the past. According to BPD Training Bulletin #91, “It is the policy of the BPD to place the least possible restriction on citizen observation of the police.” I encourage ALL residents to stop and watch when you see police activity and to fight for your right to observe. 


Andrea Prichett is a founding member of Berkeley Copwatch.

What Is Really Behind the Attack on Harry Reid

By Carol Gesbeck DeWitt
Thursday January 21, 2010 - 09:33:00 AM

We have a national predisposition to hold assumptions and generalizations regarding people based on pigmentation and accents. Educated people who are white or have light enough skin and features that allow them to pass for white and who speak Standard English—as spoken by national network television newscasters—are more easily employed and elected to public office. There has always been a hierarchy based on color in America as well as within the black community itself. In white majority communities minorities, foreign-born and people of color are less likely to win elections. Unfortunately, historically in America the darker the skin and the stronger the accent the more limited the opportunities and the harder it is to get a job or elected to public office. 

This is a statement of fact based upon job histories and election results for as long as this country has existed. It is not a product of racial insensitivity, endorsement of prejudice or racism to observe and comment on these pigment- and accent-based inequities. Nor is it a reason to accuse someone of intolerance because they comment on a particular candidate’s chances of winning an election based on their appearance and speech patterns. Choice of moniker is less relevant than intent and lifelong track record supporting equality and tolerance. Reid has been re-castigated because two years ago he commented on Obama’s electability and used the forbidden word “Negro.”  

Blowing up sensitive issues and mistakes out of rational proportions and making trouble where none actually exists does a great disservice to the many challenges in uniting Americans. It is extremely divisive for the obviously politically motivated to seek out every misspoken word uttered and taken out of context and exploiting them for political gain. They endeavor to smear reputations, hoping to unfairly sabotage their opponents. It is especially repugnant for politicians and those in the media to target prominent older people who were raised during times when blatant discrimination was common and whose speech can at times revert to what is now clearly unacceptable, “politically incorrect” speech. It is one thing to remind people that times have changed and tolerance and conscious speaking are now essential. It is quite another thing to continue to distort truth and unfavorably portray those who speak thoughtlessly with poorly chosen words, intentionally attempting to discredit the lifelong reputation of decent, dedicated, fair-minded and long-careered public servants. Also worth noting is that accusations of racism draw attention from the most important topic of the day: healthcare reform and Senator Reid’s leadership in moving the debate forward. Rightwing: Agenda? Ulterior motives? 

This pseudo intolerance of “misspeak” is merely dirty politics as usual. Sound bite/ratings obsessed news outlets gladly enable those with an agenda to pervert truth and provide the opportunity to represent ill-chosen words as intentional or an indication of bigotry. The fact that the rightwing is able to exploit Reid’s less than politically correct language and garner media attention over this non-offence indicates that the dialogue on race in America is deeply uncomfortable, desperately needed and far from over. 

It is human nature to be clannish and inclined to stick with those most like oneself. Most people don’t like change. The familiar usually seems more comfortable. Historically in America middle-aged white men have controlled power and wealth. And they are not eager to share. These dynamics are clashing and crashing. Crumbling long standing racial inequities, as well as the many impacts of the global economy and ongoing national economic struggles result in shifts in power. All contribute to complex resolution processes, controversy, and confrontation and often dirty tactics. Huge sums of money are involved and those in control will do anything to maintain status quo. 

Sadly, those promoting high profit corporate agendas have succeeded, in one generation, in vastly dumbing-down public education in America. This has had the intended consequen—a population less capable of critical thinking and intelligent voting. Kept at each other’s throats they are indeed more easily divided, conquered and enslaved by debt. The sought after, manipulated, younger, dumber demographic of debt-riddled consumers, content with and grateful to have unstimulating and unfulfilling dead-end jobs, often in stifling windowless office cubicles, are too inadequately educated to grasp their sheep like status in the economic scheme of corporate America. They seem hypnotized as long as ever newer, bigger, shinier, more costly technical gadgets, cars, homes, sports equipment, forms of entertainment, clothes and jewelry are theirs at the mere click of a mouse—and continued indentured servitude to their mind-numbing and soul-sucking jobs. As usual money and power are at the root of controversy and fiercely held by the well-focused few to control the unorganized many. 


Carol Gesbeck DeWitt is an Oakland resident.

Into the Fray

By Joanna Graham
Thursday January 21, 2010 - 09:34:00 AM

Now that the Jew-on-Jew battle has reached the screechy stage (“Your side helped the Nazis!” “No we didn’t! You’re a Nazi for saying so!”), I strongly suggest that it’s time for Becky O’Malley to impose some filters; there’s no reason why the Berkely Daily Planet should provide a platform for a three-thousand-year-old-and-still-ongoing family argument. 

  However, since I’ve been personally attacked twice—once by name and once unnamed—I do feel the need to jump into the gutter and duke it out before O’Malley (hopefully) shuts down the current free-for-all. 

  Ann Emerson (Daily Planet, Jan. 14) suggests that I might not be a full-blooded Jew! “May have had some Jewish ancestry,” she says slightingly (to make things worse, like Amadinejad) and “may have some Jewish genetic heritage.” This raises the enthralling question, under chronic evaluation in the “Jewish state,” of who is a Jew anyway. Emerson obviously agrees with Herr Hitler that the category is racial—not only in the blood (now genetics) but capable of being analyzed by degree! John Gertz, on the other hand, although he knows when folks “look classically Jewish” (Daily Planet, Nov. 26, 2008), argues on the DP Watchdog website, that “Judaism is an affiliation and not a race,” a club people can join (“Jews by choice”) or drift from (“assimilate away”) or lose their membership therein by “converting to something else, like Catholicism or Marxism.” 

  Perhaps both Emerson and Gertz should check the current rules in the state they so passionately support: a Jew is a person whose mother is/was Jewish, as long as s/he has not converted to another religion (the Brother Daniel case, 1962). So Ann, you’re a Jew if you’re one-half Jewish, as long as it’s the right half, and John, you do opt out by becoming a Catholic, but not a Marxist, since Marxism is not a recognized religion. It’s impossible, however, to opt in, unless one undergoes an orthodox conversion and continuously observes “the hundreds of mitzvoth, or commandments, that govern an observant Jew’s daily life” (see the sad case of “Yael,” Washington Post, Aug. 30, 2008). 

  Just to set the record straight in my own case, I am a Jew because my mother is a Jew. Although irrelevant, so too was my father, all four of my grandparents, and all eight of my great-grandparents, which is as far back as I know, although I presume my family were all Jews for countless generations before that. 

  But not since the time of Sarah, Rebekah, and Rachel. An analysis of my mitochondrial DNA (yes, Ann, there is genetics) reveals that my mother’s line (the one that determines my “Jewishness”) is paleolithic European. Thousands of years ago, my maternal ancestress was not dwelling in desert tents but watching the boys paint bisons on the walls of Spanish caves; thus, conversion at some point is indicated—as is the case with the 80 percent of the world’s Jews who, like my great-grandparents, lived in Eastern Europe about a hundred years ago and whose origins and unique culture remain unexplored because the Zionists don’t want to know that most, if not all, modern Jews are the descendents of converts (see Shlomo Sand’s remarkable book, The Invention of the Jewish People). 

  My husband, on the other hand, who self-identifies as border Scotch (and lapsed Presbyterian), turns out to be, on his father’s side, of Middle Eastern origin. Yes, he has that famous “Jewish gene”! It’s a little hard to know after a couple of millennia who really has a claim to Eretz Israel, isn’t it? 

  About my husband. I’m pretty sure that Bernstein, Brandt, Litman, Raj, and Wozniak (Daily Planet, Dec. 23) were referring to me when, while itemizing Daily Planet offenses, they wrote, “A writer once gloated that she was lucky that she did not marry a Jew.” That sounds pretty awful. Straight out of the “Völkischer Beobachter.” Let’s see how they got there. I wrote (Daily Planet, Oct. 23, 2008) that “my grandparents and great-grandparents came here, just like all the rest of America’s immigrants, specifically to assimilate. It was called the American dream—and if, when the meshiach comes, they rise from their graves and see in how few generations their progeny became doctors and lawyers and college professors, I think they will be glad and proud, even if most of us did marry blue-eyed, blond-haired goyim.” I was using my very typical family experience to illustrate an argument I was making: that the extraordinary success of Jews in America has led to a high rate of intermarriage with a consequent loss of identity. This highly compressed point—one that is a source of great anxiety in the Jewish establishment—was transmuted by John Gertz on his website into this: “Graham goes further to rejoice that, although her parents were born Jewish they assimilated out of the religion, and that she herself therefore had the good fortune to be able to marry a blue-eyed, blond-haired gentile.” Bye-bye to “even if”; thence to “rejoicing”; onward to “gloating”—and the BBLRW quote. 

  I find the whole sequence hilarious in a weird way, like what results from one of those pass-it-on games, but it’s also deadly serious. One thing we learn from this is that BBLRW—and possibly others—are getting their information about what appears in the Daily Planet, not from the Daily Planet itself, but from the DP Watchdog website. It’s fine to read both, but they shouldn’t mix them up and they should be careful to source their quotations. This group of folks now, as so often before, provide that teachable moment. Just as in the infamous Blue Star PR UC graffiti incident, they show the way in which, if you want anti-Semitism and you need anti-Semitism, you can always find it—even if you have to make some yourself. 


Joanna Graham is a Berkeley resident.

Two Cheers for Martha Coakley

By Brad Belden
Thursday January 21, 2010 - 09:34:00 AM

The recent stunning defeat of Democrat Martha Coakley by a previously unknown Republican state senator for Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat in Massachusetts is a wonderful gift to the Obama administration. 

  Coakley’s defeat gives the administration a much-needed wakeup call from the country in general.  The message is that there is very little support in the country for much of what the administration has done so far, including: the health care bill, coddling the bankers who caused the recession, failure to provide an effective jobs program, failure to help people with mortgage problems stay in their homes.  

  Americans have been giving the administration poor marks for some time, but the administration has been ignoring what America thinks of what they are doing.  The enormous popularity that surrounded the new Obama administration has soured greatly in less than a year. 

  Speaking just about health care, the administration may have become overly focused on the goal of “getting a bill” to avoid the appearance of a political defeat on a major issue (“Obama’s Waterloo”).  But the current health care bill is widely disliked and may do more harm than good.  It should perhaps be scrapped by being put on indefinite hold. 

  In place of that unpopular and possibly quite flawed bill, three simple, practical things could be done.  Doing them would keep faith with the vast majority of Americans who understand the health care system is broken but strongly dislike the current bill. 

1. Reauthorize the importation of safe, less expensive, high-quality pharmaceutical drugs from good provider nations, such as Canada. 

2. Empower Medicare to negotiate lower prices for drugs with the pharmaceutical companies. 

3. Remove the restriction that prevents anti-trust laws from being applied to health insurance companies. 

  These three simple initiatives, coming from the President, done one after another, could give the administration greater public support and trust.  They would be true health care reform, but not done in a single, large bill.  It might be difficult for any Congressperson to explain to their constituents why they did not support each measure.  

  So two cheers for Martha Coakley for helping us all to see the great unpopularity of the administration’s current approaches in health care, banking reform, job creation, helping families stay in their homes, and other areas.  One main value of such a wakeup call is that it has been given electorally in January, rather than by some not much believed polling data in September or October 2010.


Undercurrents; In Wake of Haiti Disaster, a Look Back and a Look Forward

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Thursday January 21, 2010 - 09:23:00 AM

The nation of Haiti—battered, bleeding Haiti—is on the minds and in the hearts of most of the world this week. Mark the moment well. It is fleeting. We are like the well-intentioned neighbors who crowd the home of the bereaved and the church on the day of the funeral but, except for a few loyal souls, leave the widow ever after lonely and alone in her house for long months on end ever after. Generous and sincere in the immediate aftermath, our attention span on great tragedies grows ever shorter. 

We have been down this road before. 

In the winter of 1989–90, I called an old South Carolina friend whose community had been battered late that September by Hurricane Hugo. She told me—only half-humorously—that she was ticked off with the people of the Bay Area. She explained that until that October, national attention was focused on Hugo, its effects, and the efforts to clean up the damage afterwards, and money and help came into their region. Then the Loma Prieta Earthquake hit, and the nation seemed to forget all about Hugo in the tumult over the new national disaster. 

And this was in the days when 24-hour cable news channels were still in their early stages, and the Internet information age had not yet begun. Since then, the tendency to pivot with dizzying speed from one dominating national or international story to another has increased a thousandfold. 

We saw that phenomenon in all its maturity in the 2005 Hurricane Katrina. No one can doubt the sincerity of the national and international sympathy that went out for the victims of the hurricane and the breaking levees and subsequent massive flooding as we watched their plight unfold on round-the-clock news channels. We opened up our hearts as financial and volunteer assistance poured into the Mississippi and Louisiana Gulf Coast communities devastated by the hurricane and the flood. 

But that was then. What has happened in the four years since? 

A year ago, the New York Times reported that “After more than three years of nomadic uncertainty, many of the children of Hurricane Katrina are behind in school, acting out and suffering from extraordinarily high rates of illness and mental health problems” (Dec. 4, 2008).  

Suicides in the city tripled between 2006 and 2008, and a recent Christian Science Monitor article reported that “more than 45,000 children here are struggling with mental-health issues related to Katrina, according to a December 2007 study by Mental Health Weekly” (Christian Science Monitor, May 13, 2009). 

Many former New Orleans residents—evacuated during the flood—remain scattered in communities across the United States, unable to make their way back home. New Orleans is still 25 percent below its pre-Katrina population, with many of the residents coming in since 2005 not returnees, but newcomers.  

Of the city’s predominantly African-American Lower Ninth Ward, one of the communities hardest hit when the dikes broke, one online commentator wrote in February of this year: “When you go to the Lower Ninth Ward in New Orleans your brain can’t comprehend the situation there. You react like you do when you visit Roman or Aztec ruins—yeah, you hear that a large number of people once lived there, and you take that number in, but you just can’t sense it, you just can’t process the changes. All you see are stone blocks strewn around grassy fields, and sadly you can’t picture the homes and community of the 6,000 families who used to live in this poor neighborhood … Records have shown that three years after Hurricane Katrina only 11 percent of families had resettled (by August of 2008)” (Piers Fawkes, “The Lower Ninth Ward Almost Four Years Later”). 

For all the general public pays attention, Katrina may as well have happened as long ago as General Sherman’s slash-and-burn march across Georgia to the sea. While the Gulf Coast still struggles to recover from the aftermath of Katrina, except for the occasional retrospective in the news, it is largely out of the view of the national or international public. Out of sight. Out of mind. 

And what has happened to all that concern for the dead of Darfur? 

Is this meant to cast aspersion on the sincerity of support for the Haitian relief efforts currently underway, or a suggestion that such efforts should stop? Absolutely not. There are several Haitian relief events going on in the Bay Area over the next couple of weeks, and it is my sincere hope that people do more than just commiserate and sympathize in front of the television, and either join these efforts, go out to one of these events—or more—or find some secure charitable organization to which they can donate small or large sums of money. Put deeds where your feelings lie. 

But the battering of Haiti will continue to have its effects far down the road, and while we cannot sustain the feelings of grief and empathy we held in the hours and days just after the earthquake struck and while images of the tragedies continued to roll across the television screens, we should remember that the people of Haiti will continue to need our helping hands in the months—and years, and decades—to come. 

Already, a campaign is growing to dampen that sympathy and direct the post-earthquake Haitian agenda for the United States. Even in the midst of death and destruction, political struggle. 

It should be of no surprise that some of our good friends in the conservative—and conservative Christian—camps have wasted no time in blaming the immensity of the Haitian tragedy on the Haitians themselves. 

Rev. Pat Robertson, for example, says that Haiti’s problems stem from the fact that he believes they are cursed by God. 

“Something happened a long time ago in Haiti, and people might not want to talk about it,” he said last week on a 700 Club broadcast. “They were under the heel of the French. You know, Napoleon III, or whatever. And they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, ‘we will serve you if you’ll get us free from the French.’ True story. And so, the devil said, OK, it’s a deal … Ever since, they have been cursed by one thing after the other” (Huffington Post, Jan. 13). 

The assertion, if one is unfamiliar with Haitian history, comes from the fact that beginning in the 17th century, the French brought enslaved Africans to Haiti, working them on the islands plantations until 1791, when the enslaved Africans revolted, defeated armies sent by the Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, freed themselves, and established the independent nation of Haiti. While many Haitians are Catholic, many practice that belief in conjunction with their blended derivative of native elder African religions which the Haitians call vodoún, which some Christians historically and continually castigate as “devil worship” in sermons and in popular cultural outlets. 

One can only say in response to Mr. Robertson that if he truly believes that Haitians had to “make a pact with the devil” in order to free themselves from the slavery of the good Christian nation of France, what does that say about the God Mr. Robertson worships and serves? 

Others of our conservative friends have invoked the same spirit of Haitian culpability in their own tragedy without the extrahuman invocations. 

In a Jan. 14 New York Times op-ed piece, columnist David Brooks compares the 63 people dead in the 7.0 Loma Prieta with the 45,000 to 50,000 dead in Haiti’s 7.0 quake (estimates of the dead in Haiti have gone as high as 200,000). “This is not a natural disaster story,” Mr. Brooks writes. “This is a poverty story. It’s a story about poorly constructed buildings, bad infrastructure and terrible public services” (Jan. 14). 

Asking rhetorically why Haiti is poor, Mr. Brooks concedes the nation’s slavery and colonial history, but puts the blame on Haitian culture.  

“As Lawrence E. Harrison explained in his book The Central Liberal Truth, he writes, Haiti … suffers from a complex web of progress-resistant cultural influences. There is the influence of the voodoo religion, which spreads the message that life is capricious and planning futile. There are high levels of social mistrust. Responsibility is often not internalized. Child-rearing practices often involve neglect in the early years and harsh retribution when kids hit 9 or 10. We’re all supposed to politely respect each other’s cultures. But some cultures are more progress-resistant than others, and a horrible tragedy was just exacerbated by one of them.” 

“The poor will always be with us,” Jesus of Nazareth is quoted as saying in Matthew 12:11, to which Mr. Brooks would presumably add “and it’s their own damn fault.” 

Is the extent of the tragedy in Haiti the fault of the Haitians? And what would be the implications for U.S. Haitian policy from this point forward if a majority of this nation were to hold that position, either explicitly or unconsciously? Discussion of that question will have to wait until a further column.

Dispatches from the Edge: Yemen: Terrorist Haven or Chess Piece?

By Conn Hallinan
Thursday January 21, 2010 - 09:24:00 AM

“The instability in Yemen is a threat  

to regional stability and even global  


—U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton 


“Yemen is a regional and global threat.” 

—British Prime Minister Gordon Brown 


“Yemen could be the ground of America’s next overseas war if Washington does not take preemptive action to root out al Qaeda there.” 

—U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn) 


A few facts: Yemen—a country slightly smaller than France with a population of 22 million—perches on the southern tip of the Arab-ian Peninsula. It is the poorest country in the region, with one of the most explosive birthrates in the world. Unemployment hovers above 40 percent and projections are that its oil—which makes up 70 percent of its GDP—will run out in 2017, as will water for its capital, Sana, in 2015. 

It is a bit of a patchwork nation. It was formerly two countries—North Yemen and the Democratic People’s Republic of Yemen (south), which merged in 1990 and fought a nasty civil war in 1994.  

The current government of President Ali Abdullah Saleh is corrupt, despotic, and presently fighting a two-front war against northern Shiites, called “Houthis,” and separatist-minded southerners. Based in the north, Saleh’s government has limited influence outside the capital. Whoever runs the place, according to The Independent’s Middle East reporter Patrick Cockburn, has to contend with “tribal confederations, tribes, clans, and powerful families. Almost everybody has a gun, usually at least an AK-47 assault rifle, but tribesmen often own heavier armament.”  

To make things even more complex, Yemen’s northern neighbor, Saudi Arabia, has sent troops and warplanes to back up Saleh. According to Reuters, “The conflict in Yemen’s northern mountains has killed hundreds and displaced tens of thousands.” Aid groups put the number of refugees at 150,000. The Saleh government and the Saudis claim the Shiia uprising is being directed by Iran—there is no evidence to back up the charge—thus escalating a local civil war to a regional face-off between Riyadh and Teheran. 

And this is a place where Hillary, Gordon and Joe think we need to intervene?  

In a sense, of course, the United States is already in Yemen, and was so even before the attempted bombing Christmas Day of a Northwest Airlines flight by a young Nigerian. For most Americans, Yemen first appeared on their radar screens when the USS Cole was attacked in the port of Aden by al Qaeda in 2000, killing 17 sailors. It reappeared this past November when a U.S. Army officer linked to a Muslim cleric in Yemen killed 13 people at Fort Hood, Texas. The Christmas Day attacker said he was trained by al Qaeda, and the group took credit for the failed operation.  

But U.S. involvement in Yemen goes back almost 40 years. In 1979, the Carter administration blew a minor border incident between north and south Yemen into a full-blown East–West crisis, accusing the Soviets of aggression. The White House dispatched an aircraft carrier and several warships to the Arabian Sea, and sent tanks, armored personal carriers and warplanes to the North Yemen government. 

The tension between the two Yemens was hardly accidental. According to UPI, the CIA funneled $4 million a year to Jordan’s King Hussein to help brew up a civil war between the conservative north and the wealthier and socialist south. 

The merger between the two countries never quite took. Southern Yemenis complain that the north plunders its oil and wealth and discriminates against southerners. Demonstrations and general strikes by the Southern Movement demanding independence have increased over the past year. The Saleh government has generally responded with clubs, tear gas and guns.  

When Yemen refused to back the 1991 Gulf War to expel Iraq from Kuwait, the United States cancelled $70 million in foreign aid to Sana and supported a decision by Saudi Arabia to expel 850,000 Yemeni workers. Both moves had a catastrophic impact on the Yemeni economy that played a major role in initiating the current instability gripping the country. 

In 2002 the Bush administration used armed drones to assassinate several Yemenis it accused of being al Qaeda members. The New York Times reported that the Obama administration launched a cruise missile attack Dec. 17 at suspected al Qaeda members that, according to Agence France Presse, killed 49 civilians, including 23 children and 17 women. The attack has sparked widespread anger throughout Yemen that al Qaeda organizers have heavily exploited. 

So is the current uproar over Yemen a case of a U.S. administration overreacting and stumbling into yet another quagmire in the Middle East? Or is this talk about a “global danger” just a smokescreen to allow the Americans to prop up the increasingly isolated and unpopular regime in Saudi Arabia? 

Maybe both, but at least one respected analyst suggests that the game in play is considerably larger than the Arabian Peninsula and may have more to do with the control of the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea than with hunting down al Qaeda in the Yemeni wilderness. 

The Asia Times’ M.K. Bhadrakumar, a career Indian diplomat who served in Afghanistan, Kuwait, Pakistan, and Turkey, argues that the current U.S. concern with Yemen is actually about the strategic port of Aden. “Control of Aden and the Malacca Straits will put the United States in an unassailable position in the ‘great game’ of the Indian Ocean,” he writes. 

Aden controls the strait of Bab el-Mandab, the entrance to the Red Sea though which passes 3.5 million barrels of oil a day. The Malacca Straits, between the southern Malay Peninsula and the Indonesian island of Sumatra, is one of the key passages that link the Indian Ocean with the South China Sea and the Pacific Ocean.  

Bhadrakumar says the Indian Ocean and the Malacca Straits are “literally the jugular veins of the Chinese economy.” Indeed, a quarter of the world’s sea-borne trade passes through the area, including 80 percent of China’s oil and gas. 

In 2005 the Bush administration pressed India to counter the rise of China by joining an alliance with South Korea, Japan, and Australia. As a quid pro quo for coming aboard, Washington agreed to sell uranium to India, in spite of New Delhi’s refusal to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Agreement. Only countries that sign the treaty can purchase uranium in the international market. The Bush administration also agreed to sell India the latest in military technology. The Obama administration has continued the same policies. 

China and India have indeed beefed up their naval forces in the Indian Ocean and South China Sea. Beijing is also developing a “string of pearls”—ports that will run from East Africa to Southeast Asia. India has just established a formal naval presence in Oman at the entrance to the strategic Persian Gulf. 

According to Bhadrakumar, the growing U.S. rapprochement with Myanmar and Sri Lanka is aimed at checkmating China’s influence in both nations, and cutting off efforts by Beijing to reduce its reliance on ocean-borne energy transportation by constructing land-based pipelines. China just opened such a pipeline to Central Asia.  

“The United States, on the contrary, is determined that China remain vulnerable to the choke points between Indonesia and Malaysia,” writes the former Indian diplomat. 

Checkmating China would also explain some of the pressure that the Obama administration is exerting on Pakistan.  

“The U.S. is unhappy with China’s efforts to reach the warm waters of the Persian Gulf through the Central Asian region and Pakistan. Slowly but steadily, Washington is tightening the noose around the neck of the Pakistani elites—civilian and military—and forcing them to make a strategic choice between the U.S. and China,” writes Bhadrakumar. 

This would help explain the increasing tension between China and India over a Himalayan border region that has sparked a military buildup in Chinese-occupied Tibet and India’s Arunachai Pradesh state. Former Indian Air Marshall Fali Homi told the Hindustan Times that China was now a bigger threat than Pakistan, and former Indian National Security Advisor Brajesh Mishra predicts an India-China war within five years. 

“Energy security” has been at the heart of U.S. foreign policy for decades. The 1980s “Carter Doctrine” made it explicit that the U.S. would use military if its energy supplies were ever threatened. Whether the administration was Republican or Democratic made little difference when it came to controlling gas and oil supplies, and the greatest concentration of U.S. military forces is in the Middle East, where 60 percent of the world’s energy supplies lie. 

Except for using Special Forces and supplying weapons, it is unlikely that the United States will intervene in a major way in Yemen. But through military aid it can exert a good deal of influence over the Sana government, including extracting rights for military bases.  

The White House has elevated the 200 or so “al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula” members in Yemen into what the president calls a “serious problem,” and there are dark hints that the country is on its way to becoming a “failed state,” the green light for a more robust intervention. 

However, as Jon Alterman, Middle East director of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, argues, “The problems in Yemen are not fundamentally problems that military operations can solve.” 

But then the “problems” of Yemen may be simply a prelude for a much wider and potentially dangerous strategy focused on China.  

“The United States cannot give up on its global dominance without putting up a real fight,” says Bhadrakumar. “And the reality of all such momentous struggles is that they cannot be fought piecemeal. You cannot fight China without occupying Yemen.”

East Bay Then and now: From Scavengers’ Social Club to Rock Music Mecca

By Daniella Thompson
Thursday January 21, 2010 - 09:44:00 AM

Oakland’s Temescal district is best known today for its demographic diversity, most visibly manifested in the variety of its restaurants. Only one establishment, the venerable Genova Delicatessen, stands as a reminder of the neighborhood’s Italian past.  

At the turn of the last century, a large wave of Italian immigration brought many Ligurians from Genoa to San Francisco. Since only the lowliest jobs were open to unskilled immigrants, many of the Genoese newcomers began scavenging for garbage in horse-drawn wagons. As competition in San Francisco was fierce, some of these immigrants settled in the East Bay, most of them living in West Oakland.  

The 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire drove thousands of refugees across the bay, altering the demographic makeup of various Oakland neighborhoods. Almost overnight, the Temescal district became “Little Italy,” drawing its new residents from both San Francisco and West Oakland.  

The Genoese scavengers who moved to Temescal continued their activities as independent garbage collectors until 1909, when rivalry induced them to form the Oakland Scavenger Association. This co-op incorporated in 1915 as the Oakland Scavenger Company. Every employee of this all-Italian membership corporation was a shareholder, and shares were transferred by their owners only to family members or to other shareholders.  

The company grew to be a giant. In March 1931, the City of Oakland passed a garbage ordinance, awarding the Oakland Scavenger Company a monopoly on its garbage collections. The company would eventually expand its operations to other East Bay cities and become the dominant force in this region’s waste disposal.  

A glimpse into the company’s operations in the 1930s was provided by The Knave, a popular weekly column published by the Oakland Tribune. On Nov. 15, 1935, The Knave wrote:  

“This garbage business isn’t as simple as you think. They aren’t just garbage men, to begin with: they are stockholders in the firm for which they work, the Oakland Scavenger Company. Moreover, they are either foremen, pickup men, or pickers. Those are the fellows you see. I mean, there’re other titles that the public doesn’t encounter.  

“The foreman on each truck keeps books and takes care of collections. The pickup men empty your can into the truck, where the picker goes over it for salvage. He picks out the bottles, the copper, the aluminum, the rags and the other things of value and puts them in the proper sack to be delivered at the end of the day to the salvage house, where it’s gone over again and sold.  

“Remember, these fellows are all stockholders and so they take multiple precautions to see that the firm—that’s themselves—aren’t cheated. They switch jobs every month or two so that there is a good check on the bookkeeping. And the picker—well if he doesn’t open his eyes wide enough and turn in the right amount of salvage, he’ll be fined $5 at the end of the month.  

“There are other rules beside that about finding the right number of bottles and sufficient poundage of sacks. If any of these other rules is violated the group sits in judgment on the individual, and he may get a $5 or $10 fine. That goes in the common fund, and, I guess, he gets a small piece of it back in the way of his share of the profits.  

“To the picker, all bottles are bottles, and he puts them in the bottle sack. But to the salvagers at the salvage house, some bottles are potential profit and the others possible danger. That has created a new job at the salvage house: bottle breaker.”  

The bottle breaker’s task is to smash all liquor bottles, marked, as you have observed, “Federal law prohibits sale or re-use of this bottle.” Hotels and restaurants smash their own bottles, but you and I don’t, and there are plenty that come to the bottle breaker’s attention every day. I’m going down sometime and satisfy a long-time bull-in-the-china-closet complex by helping him.  

As testament to the growing power of the Oakland Scavenger Company, in 1933 the City of Oakland named a street near its new garbage wharf (at that time, dry garbage was disposed at sea) after the company’s longtime president, Thomas Ferro.  

But business prowess offered no guarantee of social acceptance. Like other Italian-American groups, the Genoese scavengers of Temescal socialized within their own circle. Informal weekend meetings in a friend’s basement evolved in January 1933 into the formation of a social club where members could enjoy community dinners, celebrate Italian festivals, and play bocce ball. They called it the Ligure Club in honor of their birthplace (Ligure is the Ligurian name for that region’s language and sea).  

In September 1934, the Ligure Club Association obtained a building permit to erect a social and athletic club on the 4700 block of Shattuck Avenue, in the Temescal district. The building was rapidly completed and opened on Dec. 7, 1934. Club membership grew just as rapidly. On May 25, 1935, the Oakland Tribune reported that 600 members of the club and their families would attend a picnic and dance at Valente Park in Lafayette. “The club,” informed the article, “recently erected a new $30,000 clubhouse at Shattuck Avenue and Forty-Eighth Street.”  

The 21,000-square-foot building was designed in Mediterranean style, with whitewashed stucco walls and clay-tile gable roofs. The two-story wing facing Shattuck Avenue had a separate entrance leading to a lofty, 66-by-56-foot ballroom. At the street corner, a hexagonal turret flanked by somewhat lower wings opened onto a long barroom, which in turn led to an indoor bocce ball court located behind the ballroom. Facing 48th Street, a taller, flat-roofed annex enclosed a large room on the second floor. A kitchen and banquet hall occupied the basement.  

Surprisingly, the architect engaged to design the clubhouse was not Italian. Richard C. Schuppert (1883–1944) was born in Kansas to German immigrants. He worked as a laborer on his father’s farm before attending Kansas State Agricultural College (now Kansas State University), from which he graduated in 1909 with a bachelor’s degree in architecture.  

For the next few years, Schuppert held various jobs in Kansas City, Missouri, working as superintendent of a manufacturing company; cement finisher for a contractor; draftsman for a smelting company; designer and detailer for an urban railway company; and superintendent of an ornamental concrete factory.  

By 1918, Schuppert had married and was living in Montana, where he listed himself as an independent architect and engineer. In the early 1920s, the Schupperts moved to California, settling in Oakland.  

The architect’s earliest project in Berkeley dates form 1925—a false-front store building at 1806 Alcatraz Ave. near Adeline. This building, its brick façade decorated with diamond patterns, housed a Piggly Wiggly grocery store. In 1937, Schuppert designed another brick-faced grocery store, this one at 2619 San Pablo Ave. Both buildings still stand.  

Unlike Schuppert, the contractor who built the Ligure Club had a proper Genoese pedigree. Eugene Steve Campomenosi was born in Oakland in 1889 to a Ligurian stonemason. By the time he was 20, he was working as a carpenter, and within several years he had established himself as a contractor.  

In 1930, Campomenosi built for the Altman brothers a modern dairy plant to house their Willowbrook Creamery at 2519 San Pablo Ave., Oakland. This elegant building, with its elaborate brickwork, proud pilasters, and fluted white entrance, has recently been used as gallery and theatre space.  

A similar fate befell the Ligure Club building. Beginning in 1955, construction of the Grove-Shafter Freeway tore up the Temescal neighborhood’s fabric. Many homes were demolished to make way for the freeway, and the African-American population burgeoned. In 1962, the Ligure Club had more than 900 members, but flight to the suburbs eroded the membership at a time when social integration was reducing the need for exclusively Italian clubs.  

Other ties were being severed as well. In 1975, black and Hispanic employees of the Oakland Scavenger Company sued their employer, charging that the company restricted ownership of its shares to family members, all of whom were of Italian ancestry, and discriminated among the non-shareholder employees on the basis of race and national origin. The lawsuit led to the company’s being acquired in 1986 by Waste Management, Inc.  

Dwindling membership forced the Ligure Club to sell its building at about the same time. In 1985, the clubhouse was acquired by John Nady, the wireless guitar and microphone magnate. An amateur rock guitarist, Nady transformed the building into a rock club called the Omni. His initial interest was in providing a venue for his own band, the Nady Alliance, but the tremendous success of the Omni led him to acquire the Stone in San Francisco and One Step Beyond in San Jose.  

Neighbors of the Omni weren’t willing to put up with noise and rowdiness in their midst, and in 1992 they succeeded in shutting the club down. Three years later, the building was acquired by its current owner, John Givens. Although used primarily as a residence, the old Ligure Club/Omni occasionally opens its doors to public events.  

This Sunday, Jan. 24, between 4:30 and 7:30 pm, the Omni will serve as the venue of a benefit party for the Berkeley Daily Planet. For complete information about this event, see the ad in this issue.  


Daniella Thompson publishes berkeleyheritage.com for the Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association (BAHA).

Wild Neighbors; Owls and Art at Berkeley’s Cesar Chavez Park

By Joe Eaton
Thursday January 21, 2010 - 09:47:00 AM
A burrowing owl keeps a wary eye on passing dog-walkers at the Berkeley Marina.
Ron Sullivan
A burrowing owl keeps a wary eye on passing dog-walkers at the Berkeley Marina.

Sometimes this dysfunctional city actually gets it right. Last year I had a conversation and some e-mail exchanges with David Snippen of the Berkeley Civic Arts Commission about an environmental art installation that was being planned for Cesar Chavez Park. The donor had stipulated the site, which was right on top of a stretch of riprap where a small group of western burrowing owls spend the winter. It sounded like a high-minded instance of plop art (remember the Marina’s notorious Guardian statue?) 

Snippen said the commission was prepared to work with Golden Gate Audubon in choosing a design that would have minimal impact on the owls, a California “species of special concern.” I have to admit that I was dubious. But it looks as if the art project has in fact accommodated the needs of these rare and declining birds. 

Credit for that goes in large part to GGA volunteer Della Dash, who served on the design selection committee. “They said we had the deciding vote on which proposal would win,” Dash says. “We spoke with the artists and tried to educate people about the owls.” 

Some proposals were clearly inappropriate. “Some involved 10- or 15-foot-tall statues,” says GGA conservation director Mike Lynes.  

“We said there should be nothing too high,” adds Dash. “It could have provided perching sites for raptors that might prey on the owls.” There is no professional courtesy among birds of prey. 

“I don’t think they really understood what it meant to put the installation in that place—one of the last places we find owls out there,” says Lynes, who wrote the technical documents used in grading proposals. Ironically, the donor turned out to be more flexible about siting than was first assumed. The winning design, by artists Jennifer Reed and John Madden, is a relatively unobtrusive structure with low recessed walls. I saw a model in the Berkeley harbor master’s office, and it won’t be the Great Pyramid. Installation will begin in March, after the owls have departed for the season. 

Dash was instrumental in getting temporary orange plastic fencing set up around the owls’ wintering site in 2008 after she noticed them being harassed by off-leash dogs. The fence is mostly effective, but people and dogs still cross it—sometimes to feed the California ground squirrels whose burrows the owls appropriate. And a few owls persist in staying outside the fence. When I visited the site with Dash and Lynes, we watched a leashed dog towing its owner toward an owl on the riprap. 

Education continues. GGA has developed fliers about the burrowing owls and organized volunteer docents, who complete monitoring forms noting the birds’ locations and activities. These must be among the best-documented burrowing owls anywhere. 

Dash and Lynes say there are at least three owls inside the fence this season, plus two more in the adjacent unfenced meadow and at least one in the eastern section of nearby Eastshore State Park, where habitat restoration is in progress. Habitat has been created for the birds on the Albany Plateau as mitigation for the Tom Bates Regional Sports complex, but so far no owls have been detected using it. 

These are all wintering birds. There are a handful of breeding records for Berkeley and Albany, but none more recent than 1922. “Wildlife managers have been slow to realize the importance of wintering habitat,” says Lynes. “We recognize that for neotropical migrants, but undervalue wintering habitat in North America.” It’s not clear where the Cesar Chavez owls are coming from; burrowing owls banded in British Columbia, eastern Washington, and Idaho have been observed elsewhere in California.  

Consistent with regional patterns, the number of owls using the Marina has fallen over the years. “Ten years ago there were 13 to 15 wintering owls at Cesar Chavez Park,” Dash says. Last winter there were only four. Overall, breeding pairs along the Bayshore declined by more than 50 percent between surveys in 1991-93 and 2006-07.  

Although some Bay Area cities have allowed developers to displace burrowing owls, Dash praises Berkeley’s response: “The city has been extremely helpful with this project. City Council members came out to see the owls themselves. The city provided fencing for the wintering site. The maintenance crew has been wonderful. East Bay Regional Park docents have joined the GGA docents. There’s been a tremendous amount of public education and awareness-raising.” 

With no coherent federal or state conservation strategy for these vulnerable birds, it’s good to see at least one local government doing the right thing.

About the House: The Ins and Outs of Sanding Wood Floors

By Matt Cantor
Thursday January 21, 2010 - 09:46:00 AM

Some things are a bad idea no matter how you shake ’em. Government lobbying, TV shows involving supermodels, and pretty much anything involving a lot of helium balloons and lawn furniture. Oh, yes, and trying to refinish your own floors while your partner is off for the weekend. 

Every once in a while, someone tries to do this to their fully furnished home and the result is not pretty. When you get done, you might end up buying yourself a new stereo, a new computer, phones and having nearly everything else you own, sent out to the laundry. 

This is because floor refinishing, or sanding, produces pounds of extremely fine wood flour. So fine, in fact, that it will easily flow under unsealed plastic barriers and will effortlessly pour under or around doors. Rooms that didn’t seem slightly vulnerable can end up with a fine layer of wood dust on, and inside of, everything.  

Part of the reason that this happens is that occupants and workers are often unaware of the amount that is floating in the atmosphere for hours after work had ceased and may open or remove barriers while the air is laden with this incredibly invasive stuff. 

This is why just about the only task I will recommend be undertaken prior to moving anything into one’s new dwelling is the refinishing of wooden floors.  

You just don’t want to see the results of this avoidable mess. Further, this is a job best left to professionals for a number of reasons that we’ll discuss. 

Sanding wooden floors can improve their appearance greatly but it can also ruin them, permanently necessitating replacement in some cases but, more often simply ending in an plaintive effect that one gets to look at and live with for years on.  

Sanding is most often done using “barrel”-type sanding machines. These have a fat sanding roller that runs at very high speed and can create a wavy floor or gouge a trough in about a second or two of unattended operation. These ma-chines have to be driven at a uniform speed with an appropriate level of grit by a skilled professional to obtain the sweet result we all want. I would much sooner see a homeowner attempt their own plumbing than to try to sand their own floors, though there are finer points to this argument I’ll save for later.  

Sanding is also a very reasonable expense at something like $2 or $3 a square foot. This means that most homes get done for something over two grand (your kitchen and baths get excluded right?) and given the enormous aesthetic improvement and the cost of most home improvement projects, this seems to me to be a really good deal. 

If you do choose to undertake this journey, I’d suggest renting a couple of those moving pods and having them placed on your street for a few days (consider the local parking ordinances or get a special permit from the building department) and just move out. You can fill your kitchen with furniture wrapped tightly in plastic but don’t be surprised if some gets infiltrated by the nasty stuff. This can all be seen as a great opportunity to empty closets and lighten up. Don’t bring everything back in! Donate to your favorite charity shop.  

If you’re buying a house and haven’t moved in yet, this is the time to do this job.  

Consider the tone of the flooring when refinishing floors. My general bias runs toward not staining floors, though the clear finish will always provide some darkening (you can wet a freshly sanded floor in a small area to see what this will probably look like). Most older houses lack adequate fenestration (in English, enough windows. There, I slapped myself) and a light-colored floor reflects more light around the room. Conversely, old, darkly stained wooden floors make for a danker environment (which might be your thing and that’s … OK). 

Oak flooring, the most common in the United States between the late 1800s and the 1960s, is generally quite thin. The standard was 5/16ths of an inch or just over a quarter inch. Installed over a substrate, this results in a net 1-inch flooring.  

This means that sanding can only be performed a limited number of times and you’ll want a professional sanding contractor to evaluate this with you.  

If you pull out a floor register from your heating system or something similar that cuts through the floor, you can gain a peek and see what’s left of the flooring. Most floors will never have been sanded so this is usually not a problem.  

Oak flooring, of the kind mentioned above, is face-nailed with the nails being “set” or recessed just slightly below the finished face. The recessed nails are hidden by a bit of putty.  

This means that when you sand, you’ll be revealing the nail and have to set it again (though I’ve seen many jobs where the nails were left exposed and consider this an aesthetic choice rather than a requirement). When the nails get set again, they will be puttied in and sanded over to conceal. This is where thickness becomes a serious problem because there will be less wood for the head of the nail to grab. The uninitiated can end up with loose planks if they’ve overset nails or sanded one too many times. 

When floors are sanded, they are generally sealed or “finished” with muliple coats of a polyurethane material that is painted over the freshly sanded and vacuumed wood.  

In better applications, the finish is often touch-sanded between coats for a high gloss, but this is not always necessary given the improved chemistries of modern finishes. By the way, gloss is an important issue to consider along with staining and other floor repairs. I prefer low gloss for longevity (glossy floors show scuffing much sooner).  

Also more coats are better and excessive thinning of subsequent coats may save the contractor money but gives you fewer years before the finish is worn away. 

Wooden floors can be repaired to a surprising extent prior to being refinished and most companies that do refinishing can provide excellent repairs. What few can do well and should largely be avoided is the removal of stains. Much of the staining of old oak floors will remain and should be considered alongside your advancing wrinkles as signs of wisdom, experience and individuality (of which you, no doubt, have gobs). 

Today, there seems to be an increasing number of floor-sanding firms that tout “dustless” or “dust-free” sanding. Very powerful vacuums are used (some large ones remain on the truck as in the case of insulation companies and carpet cleaners) to capture all the atmosphere around the machine and keep the house clean.  

Some purveyors of this product show fully furnished homes being sanded on their websites and claim that their workforce can even show up without dust masks. I have no doubt that some percentage of these are able to do what they purport but I would want to speak with a few recent clients (no brothers-in-law, OK?) and also be sure that my workers were adequately experienced (no new guy on my job).  

Every technology gets presented as being flawless and, as we all know, one size never fits all and every flawless system has its flaws. Caveat emptor. 

Now, in my usual fashion, I will overturn my initial implorements and offer a partially poisoned pill.  

If you do wish to sand your own floors, I would strongly recommend avoiding the “barrel” type of sanding machine in favor of the disk type. There are large disk sanders that also drive around the interior but are far less likely to gouge the floor on the first test drive. These take longer to do their job but that’s probably a good thing when you’re starting out.  

You’ll want to a get a full tutorial if you choose to do this and be sure to protect your lungs without mitigation. Everyone on this jobsite should be wearing a respirator, not just a paper mask. The long-range ill effects of this kind of job can be nasty and it’s not worth any savings that might seem to be gained. Trust me. I’m a total cheapskate but I never skimp on respiratory protection. 

Our older housing stock is filled with sublime wooden flooring, much of it hidden by carpeting or by palimpsests of stains, grime and gouging. These floors, even the most mundane, are so beautiful when refinished that they can often transform the simpleist of rooms.  

Many turn out to have extraordinary features such as bordering and knots of darker hardwoods. Some are the tiny matchstick floors that I can’t get enough of. There are even floors that steal their designs from quilt-making with “baby blocks” or “log cabin” patterns.  

Again, you can miss these features entirely if they’re covered or darkly stained and, with a bit of effort, you might find that the job of floor refinishing in your old or new home turns out to be less contracting and more art restoration. 

Arts & Events

Arts Calendar

Thursday January 21, 2010 - 09:40:00 AM



“Celebrating the Photographic Art of Jim & Ted” Photographs by Jim Dennis and Ted Pontiflet. Reception at 5 p.m. at Craft & Cultural Arts Gallery, State of California Office Building, Atrium, 1515 Clay St., Oakland. 622-8190. 

“Stock Options: Houses for Everyone” an exhibit of historic house pattern books and stock plan catalogs featuring rare and original materials from the Environmental Design Library and Environmental Design Archives on display at the Raymond Lifchez and Judith Lee Stronach Exhibition Cases, Volkmann Reading Room, Environmental Design Library, 210 Wurster Hall, UC campus. 


“Taraf de Haïdouks” documentary about the Romanian Roma band, followed by live music by the Orkestar Sali, at 8 p.m. at Subterranean Art House, 2179 Bancroft Way. Suggested donation $5-$20. RSVP to mulchpermaculture@yahoo.com  


Poetry Flash with Brett Eugene Ralph and Jason Morris at 7:30 p.m. at Moe’s Books, 2476 Telegraph Ave. 849-2087. 

Chris Farrell on “The New Frugality” at 7:30 p.m. at The Hillside Club, 2286 Cedar St. Cost is $12-$15. 848-3227.  

Don Lattin on “The Harvard Psychedelic Club” at 7 p.m. at Books Inc., 1760 Fourth St. 525-7777. 

Lori Ostlund reads from her story collection, “The Bigness of the World” at 7:30 p.m. at Mrs. Dalloway’s, 2904 College Ave. 704-8222. 

Derick and Jackie Savage on their memoir “Sunrise Over South Africa” at 7 p.m. at El Cerrito Lirary, 6510 Stockton Ave., El Cerrito. 526-7512. 


Savage Jazz Dance Company “Agon” through Sat. at 8 p.m. at Laney College Theater, 900 Fallon St. Tickets are $10-$18. 1-800-838-3006. www.brownpapertickets.com 

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

Army, Woven Roots, roots reggae, at 9:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $10. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

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

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

Big Light, Moo Got 2 at 9 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $8. 841-2082. www.starryploughpub.com 



Actors Ensemble of Berkeley “Antigone” Fri. and Sat. at 8 p.m. at Live Oak Theater, 1301 Shattuck Ave. at Berryman, through Feb. 20. Tickets are $12-$15. 649-5999. www.aeofberkeley.org 

Berkeley Rep “Coming Home” at 2025 Addison St., through Feb. 28. Tickets are $33-$71. 647-2949. berkeleyrep.org 

Berkeley Rep”Aurélia’s Oratorio” at 2015 Addison St., through Jan. 31. Tickets are $33-$71. 647-2949. berkeleyrep.org 

The Marsh Berkeley “East 14th - True Tales of a Reluctant Player” Fri. at 9 p.m., Sat. at 8 p.m. through Feb. 22 at 2120 Allston Way. Tickets are $20-$50. 800-838-3006. www.themarsh.org 

Masquers Playhouse “Kitchen Witches” Fri. and Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 2:30 p.m. at 105 Park Place, Point Richmond, and runs through Feb. 27. Tickets are $18. 232-4031. www.masquers.org 

TheatreFirst “Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead” Fri. and Sat. at 7:30 p.m. and Sun. at 2 p.m. at Marion E. Greene Black Box Theater and 531 19th St., through Feb. 14. www.brownpapertickets.com 


“The Hiding Place” In WWII-era Holland a Christian family shelters Jews, at 7 p.m. at Berkeley Friends Church, 1600 Sacramento St. Discussion follows. 524-4122. www.berkeleyfirendschurch.org 


Andrew Lyons on “Clearing Landmines in Afghanistan” at 7 p.m. at Books Inc., 1760 Fourth St. Co-sponsored by Grandmothers Against the War. 


Barefoot Chamber Concerts “French Baroque Music for Viols” at 6 .m. at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church Parish Hall, 2300 Bancroft Way. Tickets are $13-$15. 220-1195. barefootchamberconcerts.com 

Oakland East Bay Symphony “Notes from Armenia” featuring Mikhal Simoyan, violinist, at 8 p.m. at the Paramount Theatre, Oakalnd. Tickets are $20-$65. 800-745-3000.  

Savage Jazz Dance Company “Agon” through Sat. at 8 p.m. at Laney College Theater, 900 Fallon St. Tickets are $10-$18. 1-800-838-3006.  

Luz María Carriquiry & Eulogio Moros at 8 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $10. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

Maya Kronfeld Trio at 8 p.m. at the Jazzschool. Cost is $10. 845-5373. www.jazzschool.com 

California Guitar Trio at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $18.50-$19.50. 548-1761.  

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

Tempest, Molly’s Revenge, Celtic rock, at 9 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $15. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

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

Bhi Bhiman, Moostache, Blackston Heist at 9:30 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $8. 841-2082. www.starryploughpub.com 

Cash’d Out at 9 p.m. at Shattuck Down Low, 2284 Shattuck Ave. Cost is $10-$15. 548-1159.  

Beep! Trio at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 843-8277. 



Los Amiguitos de La Peña with Earthcapades, juggling, music, comedy at 10:30 a.m. at La Peña. Cost is $5 for adults, $4 for children. 849-2568.  


Active Arts Theatre for Young Audiences “Ramona Quimby” Sat. and Sun. at 2 pm. at Julia Morgan Center for the Arts, 2640 College Ave., through Feb. 7. Tickets are $14-$18. 296-4433. activeartstheatre.org 

Round Belly Theatre Company “24 Hr. Theatre Project VII” Four new plays written and rehearsed on one day, with performance at 8 p.m. at Temescal Arts Center, 511 48th St. at Telegraph, Oakland. Suggested conation of $10.Roundbellytheatre.com  


“depARTures” Works by Martin Webb, Anna W. Edwards and Nanci Price Scoular, Opening party at 6 p.m. at Float Art Gallery, 1091 Calcot Place, Unit #116, Oakland. Exhibition runs to Feb. 13. www.thefloatcenter.com 

“Animals Everywhere” Opening reception at 2 p.m. at NIAD Art Center, 551 23rd St., Richmond. Exhibition runs through March 19. 620-0290.  

Works by Kyle Thaw, Harumi Ramos, Charles Webb, Patrick Ardell, May-Britt Mobrand, Andrea Fuenzalida and Kegan Robinson. Reception at 3 p.m., music at 7 p.m. at Art House Gallery and Cultural Center. 472-3170. 

The Kala Art Institute Art Exhibition Open Studios Meet the artists in residence and view their current work, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Kala Gallery, 2990 San Pablo Ave. 541-7000. www.kala.org 


Bay Area International Children’s Film Festival, Sat. and Sun. at Michaan’s Auctions, the restored Art Deco Movie Theater at the Alameda Naval Air Station, 2700 Saratoga St., Alameda. Tickets are $10-$20, children under 3 free. www.baicff.com 


“Botanical Art Through the Ages” with Catherine Watters at 1 p.m. at UC Botanical Garden. Free with garden admission. 643-2755. 

A Conversation with Wajahat Ali: Making History with Muslim American Theater at 6 p.m. at Islamic Cultural Center of Northern California, 1433 Madison St., between 14th and 15th sts., Oakland. Tickets are $5-$7. www.iccnc.org 


Piedmont East Bay Children’s Choir “Truth, Justice, & Peace” at 2 and 7 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church, 2619 Broadway, Oakland. Tickets are $12-$25. 547-4441. www.piedmontchoirs.org 

The Alcyone Ensemble, music for two flutes and piano, at 8 p.m. at Trinity Chapel, 2320 Dana St. Tickets are $8-$12. 549-3864.  

WinterDances 2010 at 8 p.m., Sun. at 7 p.m. at Western Sky Studio, 2525 Eighth St. Tickets are $15-$20. 848-4878. 

Ragtime Skedaddlers at 2 p.m. at Down Home Music, 10341 San Pablo Ave., El Cerrito. 525-2129. 

Pellejo Seco at 9:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cuban salsa lesson at 8:30 p.m. Cost is $10-$13. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

Garza at 8:30 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $18-$22. 849-2568.  

World Famous, R & B, rock, at 7 p.m. at Chester’s Bay View Cafe, 1508 Walnut St. 849-9995. 

Sourdough Slim at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $18.50-$19.50. 548-1761.  

Matt Clark Quartet at 8 p.m. at the Jazzschool. Cost is $15. 845-5373.  

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

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

Chuck Prophet, Brad Brooks at 9:30 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $8. 841-2082.  

Tangria Jazz Group at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 843-8277. 



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


“Ahmet Ögüt: Exploded City” An imaginary metropolis comprised of buildings, monuments, and vehicles that have figured in acts of violence and terrorism over the past two decades. Artist talk at 3 p.m. at Berkeley Art Museum, 2626 Bancroft Way. 642-0808. 


“Four Writers Read” with Lindy Hough, Owen Hill, Summer Brenner and Alan Bern at 2 p.m. at Berkeley Public Library, 3rd flr community meeting room, 2090 Kittredge. 981-6107. 

Poetry Reading with Rafael Jesús González, H.D. Moe, Howard (Jyoti) Dyckoff at 3 p.m. at Jamie Erfurdt Art Studio & Gallery, 1966 University Ave. 849-1312. 

“El Cerrito’s Architectural History” An illustrated talk by Dave Weinstein at 1 p.m. at the El Cerrito Senior Center, 6500 Stockton Ave. 524-1737. 

Egyptology Lecture “Cleopatra as CEO: Bureaucracy and Scandal in the Hostile Takeover of a First Century Multinational” with Dr. Janet Johnson, Univ. of Chicago, at 2:30 p.m. at Barrows Hall, Room 20, UC Campus. 415-664-4767. 


Prometheus Symphony Orchestra performs Beethovan, Brahms and Bloch at 3 p.m. at Saint Paul’s Episcopal Church, 114 Montecito Ave., Oakland. Free. Children are welcome. www.prometheussymphony.org 

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

Mozart Birthday Concert at 6:30 p.m. at the Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant Ave. Tickets are $75. Benefit for Midsummer Mozart Festival. RSVP to 415-627-9141. 

Mexican Tardeada, Mexican music jam from 3 to 6 p.m. at La Peña. Cost is $10-$20. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

Ben Barron,, classical guitar at 7 p.m. at Masquers Playhouse, 105 Park Place, Point Richmond. Donation $10. For reservations call 232-3888. 

Mark Levine Trio at 4:30 p.m. at the Jazzschool. Cost is $18. 845-5373.  

The Bee Eaters at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $18.50-$19.50. 548-1761.  

Celu Agee and Lee White, folk ballads, at 7 p.m. at Chester’s Bay View Cafe, 1508 Walnut St. 849-9995. 



Film Critics Circle “My Night at Maud’s” at 7:30 p.m. at The Hillside Club, 2286 Cedar St. 848-3227. www.hillsideclub.org 


Subterranean Shakespeare “Love’s Labour’s Lost” staged reading at 7:30 p.m. at Berkeley Unitarian Fellowship, 1924 Cedar at Bonita. Tickets are $8. 276-3871. 

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


San Francisco Chamber Orchestra celebrates Mozart’s birthday at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage Coffee House. Cost is $8.50-$9.50. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 



The Art of Living Black 2010 Annual Exhibition opens at the Richmond Art Center, 2540 Barrtt Ave., Richmond. Exhibition runs to March 13. 620-6772. www.therac.org 

Cal State East Bay Annual Faculty Exhibition opening reception at 5 p.m. at University Art Gallery, CSU East Bay Arts and Education Bldg., 25800 Carlos Bee Blvd., Hayward. 885-3299. 


Gretchen Rubin on “The Happiness Project” at 7 p.m. at Books Inc., 1760 Fourth St. 525-7777. 

John “Tito” Gerassi on his new book “Talking with Sartre: Conversations and Debates,” at 7 p.m. at Revolution Books, 2425 Channing Way. 848-1196. 


Linda Tillery & the Cultural Heritage Choir at 7:30 p.m. at Ecumenical Center of Berkeley, Pacific School of Religion, 2401 LeConte. Cost is $20. 849-8218. www.psr.edu/earllectures  

Trip Tip Trio at 8:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cajun/Zydeco dance lesson at 8 p.m. Cost is $10. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 



“Cynosure: New Work from East Bay Galleries” Opening reception at 4 p.m. at the Worth Ryder Gallery, UC campus, through Feb. 20. 643-7064. 


“2012: Time of No Time” Reading of upcoming production by the Hybrid Performance Experiment at 7 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $5-$10. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

John Gerassi discusses his new book “Talking with Sartre: Converstaions and Debates” at 5:30 p.m. at University Press Books, 2430 Bancroft Way. 548-0585. www.universitypressbooks.com 

Jaron Lanier on “You Are Not a Gadget: A Manifesto” at 7:30 p.m. at The Hillside Club, 2286 Cedar St. Cost is $10-$15. 848-3227. www.hillsideclub.org 

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


Wednesday Noon Concert, with Davitt Moroney, music for solo harpsichord, at Hertz Hall, UC campus. Free. 642-4864. http://music.berkeley.edu 

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

Tomorrow’s Bad Seeds, The Supervillans and Mike Pinto at 9 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $10-$15. 525-5054.  

Orquestra America, salsa, at 8 p.m. at Shattuck Down Low, 2284 Shattuck Ave. Cost is $5-$10. 548-1159.  

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



Kala TGIT at 5:30 p.m. at Kala Gallery, 2990 San Pablo Ave. Donation $5. 541-7000. www.kala.org 


Theodore Roszack on “The Making of an Elder Culture: Reflections on the Future of America’s Most Audacious Generation” at 7 p.m. at Books Inc., 1760 Fourth St. 525-7777. 

Joan Frank reads from her new collection of short stories “In Envy Country” at 6 p.m. at University Press Books, 2430 Bancroft Way. 548-0585. www.universitypressbooks.com 

Leslie Larson reads from her novel “Breaking Out of Bedlam” at 7:30 p.m. at Mrs. Dalloway’s, 2904 College Ave. 704-8222. 


“Jazz Night” Annual Winter Fundraiser for Martin Luther King , Jr. Middle School Jazz Band at 7:30 p.m. at Martin Luther King , Jr. Middle School Auditorium, 1781 Rose St. at Grant. Free, but bring your checkbooks. 

Haiti Benefit with Kalbass Kreyol and Friends at 9 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $10. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

Brazilian Choro Music with Jane and Annie Lenoir, Carlos Oliveira and Brian Rice at 12:15 p.m. at Berkeley Public Library, 5th flr., 2090 Kittredge St. 981-6241. 

Jim Malcolm at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $18.50-$19.50. 548-1761.  

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

The Big Organ Trio, The Grease Traps at 9 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $7. 841-2082.  

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



Active Arts Theatre for Young Audiences “Ramona Quimby” Sat. and Sun. at 2 pm. at Julia Morgan Center for the Arts, 2640 College Ave., through Feb. 7. Tickets are $14-$18. 296-4433. activeartstheatre.org 

Actors Ensemble of Berkeley “Antigone” Fri. and Sat. at 8 p.m. at Live Oak Theater, 1301 Shattuck Ave. at Berryman, through Feb. 20. Tickets are $12-$15. 649-5999. www.aeofberkeley.org 

Aurora Theatre “The First Grade” at 2081 Addison St., through Feb. 28. Tickets are $15-$55. 843-4822. auroratheatre.org 

Berkeley Rep “Coming Home” at 2025 Addison St., through Feb. 28. Tickets are $33-$71. 647-2949. berkeleyrep.org 

Masquers Playhouse “Kitchen Witches” Fri. and Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 2:30 p.m. at 105 Park Place, Point Richmond, and runs through Feb. 27. Tickets are $18. 232-4031. www.masquers.org 

TheatreFirst “Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead” Fri. and Sat. at 7:30 p.m. and Sun. at 2 p.m. at Marion E. Greene Black Box Theater and 531 19th St., through Feb. 14. www.brownpapertickets.com 


Edmund Wells, bass clarinet quartet, at 8 p.m. at The Hillside Club, 2286 Cedar St. Cost is $10-$15. 848-3227. www.hillsideclub.org 

Fog Hill Trio, classical, at 7 p.m. at Chester’s Bay View Cafe, 1508 Walnut St. 849-9995. 

Pellejo Seco, contemporary Cuban dance music, at 9 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $12. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

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

Brass Menazeri, Round Mountain at 9 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Balkan dance lesson at 8 p.m. Cost is $12. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

Greg Brown at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $28.50-$29.50. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 

Wave Array and guests at 9:30 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $8. 841-2082. www.starryploughpub.com 

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

Beep! Trio at 8 p.m. at Jupiter. 843-8277. 



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


“The Window” Argentine film directed by Carlos Sorin at 3 p.m. at Claremont Branch Library, 2940 Benvenue Ave. Free. 981-6280. 


Keith Ratzlaff and Jesse Nathan, poets, read at 7:30 p.m. at Pegasus Books Downtown, 2349 Shattuck Ave. 649-1320. 


Helen Mayer Harrison and Newton Harrison, pioneers in the eco-art movement in conversation, in conjunction with their exhibition “Greenhouse Britain” at 2 p.m. at Kala Gallery, 2990 San Pablo Ave. 841-7000. www.kala.org 


“Reality Playthings” experiments with experience with Frank Moore at 8 p.m. at Temescal Arts Center, 511 48th St., Oakland. 526-7858. www.eroplay.com 


American Bach Soloists Monteverde’s “Vespers of 1610” at First Congregational Church of Berkeley, 2345 Channing Way at Dana. Pre-concert lecture at 7 p.m. Tickets are $18-$45. 503-754-ARTS. americanbach.corg 

Edmund Wells, bass clarinet quartet, at 8 p.m. at The Hillside Club, 2286 Cedar St. Cost is $10-$15. 848-3227. www.hillsideclub.org 

Snap Jackson & The Knock On Wood Players at 2 p.m. at Down Home Music, 10341 San Pablo Ave., El Cerrito. 525-2129. 

WinterDances 2010 at 8 p.m., Sun. at 7 p.m. at Western Sky Studio, 2525 Eighth St. Tickets are $15-$20. 848-4878. 

Americanidades, Jose Roberto y Sus Amigos at 8:30 p.m. at La Peña Cultural Center. Cost is $15-$18. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

Play Live Dead, The Dead Guise at 9:30 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $10. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com  

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

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

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

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

The Alouttes & Friends Women’s trio at 7 p.m. at Chester’s Bay View Cafe, 1508 Walnut St. 849-9995. 

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

Eric McFadden’s Faraway Brothers, The Old Puppies at 9:30 p.m. at The Starry Plough. Cost is $8. 841-2082. www.starryploughpub.com 



Orange Sherbert, The Magical Mystery Marching Band at Ashkenaz at 3 p.m. Cost is $4-$6. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 


Folk Art and Louisiana Gumbo at 1:30 p.m. in Oakland. Limited seating. RSVP to 482-5810. success@domesticsunlimitedcherriewilliams.com 


Nicole Hollander, author of the cartoon strip “Sylvia” at 1:30 p.m. at the Albany Library, 1247 Marin Ave. 526-3720. 

“Arches, Balance & Light” Reading of a new Julia Morgan play by Mary Spletter at 4 p.m. at Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant Ave. Tickets are $20. For reservations call 883-9710. www.landmarkheritagefoundation.org 

Poetry Flash with Cheryl Klein and Terry Wolverton at 3 p.m. at Diesel, 5433, College Ave., Oakland. 525-5476. poetryflash.org 

Miscreant, fiction, poetry, music, at 7 p.m. at Chester’s Bay View Cafe, 1508 Walnut St. 849-9995. 

May Garsson and Other Paranormal Poets at 6 p.m. at Art House Gallrey. Cost is $5-$10. 482-3336. 


Chamber Music Sundaes with members of the San Fransisco Symphony at 3 p.m. at St. John’s Presbyterian Church, 2727 College Ave. Tickets at the door are $20-$25. 415-753-2792. www.chambermusicsundaes.org 

Tim Rayborn, candle-light concert of poetry and music from the northern European story-telling traditions at 7 p.m. at Music Sources, 1000 The Alameda, at Marin. Tickets are $15-$20. 528-1685. www.musicsources.org 

Annual Tribute to Pat Parker at 7 p.m. at La Peña. Cost is $10-$20. 849-2568. www.lapena.org 

Alma Desnuda, in a benefit for BOSS to fund a play area for homeless children at 7 p.m. at Ashkenaz. Cost is $10. 525-5054. www.ashkenaz.com 

Sheldon Brown Quintet at 4:30 p.m. at the Jazzschool. Cost is $12-$15. 845-5373. www.jazzschool.com 

Dr. K’s Home Grown Roots Revue at 8 p.m. at Freight and Salvage. Cost is $14.50-$15.50. 548-1761. www.freightandsalvage.org 

Alameda Hosts Second Annual Children’s Film Festival

By Ken Bullock, Special to the Planet
Thursday January 21, 2010 - 09:36:00 AM
              Lost and Found (U.K., 2008), by Philip Hunt, screens this weekend as part of the Bay Area International Children’s Film Festival.
Lost and Found (U.K., 2008), by Philip Hunt, screens this weekend as part of the Bay Area International Children’s Film Festival.

The Bay Area International Children’s Film Festival, founded last year as a one-day event by a group of parents whose children attend the Renaissance School in Oakland, will be held Saturday and Sunday at Michaan’s Auctions, the restored Art Deco movie  

The festival will include about three dozen films, both live-action and animated, feature-length and short, from the United States, Canada, Mexico and Argentina, the U.K. and Ireland, Finland and Norway, France, Belgium, Italy and Switzerland, Russia, the Czech Republic and Hungary, India, Australia and Singapore. The program will also feature a hands-on animation workshop headed by Pixar storyboard artists Matthew Luhn and Valerie LaPointe. Kids aged 7 and older will make animation characters that will be filmed (and screened at the end of each day) and learn how to make flipbooks and zoetropes.  

In addition, at 2:15 p.m. on both days, special guest Jules Oosterwegel of the Netherlands, who has filmed more than 300 children’s street games in 20 countries worldwide, will hold a playtime open to all festival participants, screening a selection of his films and teaching street games. 

Films to be screened are mostly of recent date, though the well-known Canadian animated film, The Man Who Planted Trees (1987), from the Jean Giono story, will be shown. Another well-known figure represented by some of his BBC animated films will be Nick Park, creator of “Wallace and Gromit.” 

The festival also features the Reel Cafe, with international food from local restaurants and markets. 

Shelley Trott, one of the parents who founded the festival, spoke about its beginning as a “creative idea for an event to promote the values of the school,” which features language immersion in French and Spanish, “particularly dedicated to the visual arts and music ... it seemed like a natural fit.” 

A few in the group had “some sense of producing a public event,” Trott wryly said. “I’m a dancer and choreographer who’s produced my own performances. My husband’s a video producer; we’ve made documentaries together.” For last year’s festival, they helped 15 Renaissance School students make a documentary about Angelino Sandri, the gondolier of Lake Merritt.  

Jim Capobianco of Pixar [whose new animated film, Leonardo, about Da Vinci’s dreams of flight, will be screened was a parent in the group. Capobianco was the “web designer who hosted the site, a graphic designer who made our posters and mailings,” added Trott. “We all naively volunteered—and became passionately committed. It feels like it’s going to get its legs!” 

Trott joked about how the group was “pretty green; we still haven’t really contacted a lot of companies about corporate sponsorships.” But the Media Alliance is helping back this year’s festival, and relationships are being formed. “We hope to help Jules Oosterwegel further his project of gathering street games with a website where others who film games can upload them. We want the festival to have an educational component.” 

“It’s been pretty intense!” Trott exclaimed. “But we’ll see how successful it is this year with two days. Last year, we had over 700 attending in one day. It showed us how much demand for this sort of thing there is among young families. Next year, we hope to have open submissions.”  

The festival is committed to “present culturally diverse, value-affirming cinema for and about children”—and provide an annual “Playdate for the Imagination.” 




Saturday and Sunday at Michaan’s Auctions, 2700 Saratoga St., Alameda. $10-$20; free admission for children under 3. www.baicff.com.

City Club Hosts Benefit for Midsummer Mozart Festival

By Ira Steingroot, Special to the Planet
Thursday January 21, 2010 - 09:37:00 AM

Local Mozart aficionados look forward all year to the series of concerts presented at cities around the Bay Area by the Midsummer Mozart Festival under the direction of Maestro George Cleve. All year long, “spite of despondence” as Keats says, we draw comfort from our eager anticipation of the exciting Mozartean gifts that Cleve will unwrap for us at the July concerts. In the last few years, we have occasionally received a lagniappe in the form of a benefit concert, and this year is no exception with the extra event scheduled for Mozart’s 254th geburtstag on Sunday, Jan. 24, from 6:30 to 9 p.m. at the Berkeley City Club. 

Along with the usual exquisite compositions and sparkling playing, there will be food, wine and a silent auction to benefit the July festival. The whole event will take place in the cozy chamber setting of architectural great Julia Morgan’s Berkeley City Club. 

Cleve has come up with a program of two unique quartets, a quintet and an early divertimento for strings. First up is the brief 3rd Flute Quartet in C Major, K. 285b, only two movements, featuring flautist Maria Tamburino. Mozart probably wrote this in 1781 and then transmuted the second movement into the sixth of his magnificent Gran Partita later in the same year. In the smaller quartet setting, it is like an old friend you usually only see at parties, but now get to spend time shmoozing with one on one. 

Mozart virtually invented the piano quartet when he wrote his first one in 1785. It was to be the first of three he was contracted to compose for the publisher Hoffmeister, but the sales were poor and he was allowed to keep the advance payment on condition that he not complete the commission. In spite of that disappointing reception, Mozart wrote one more, the Piano Quartet in E flat major, K. 493, the following year. That is the work to be played at the benefit and, although the contemporary public ignored the first one, today we are able to enjoy both of these works of genius even if they could not. The reason for their indifference was the difficulty of performing the work, which requires four virtuosi not four hausmusik performers. The interaction of the four players is seamless. Mozart, as a seller of sheet music, was writing himself out of work.  

The Clarinet Quintet in A major, K. 581, like virtually all of Mozart’s beautiful clarinet music, was written for his friend and Masonic brother, the clarinet virtuoso Anton Stadler. Two years later, in 1791, Stadler would premier one of Mozart’s final masterpieces, the Clarinet Concerto for basset clarinet. This Quintet, which conveys some of the same lyrical mood as the later Concerto, is written for the standard clarinet with string quartet accompaniment. You can feel the personality of Stadler in the composition.  

Although Mozart was famous as a child prodigy, most of his great compositions were written when he was an adult, but there are some notable exceptions. One of these is the Divertimento for Strings in D major, K. 136, which will close the concert. Mozart wrote this in Salzburg in early 1772 when he had just celebrated his sweet sixteenth. The opening movement is pure joie de vivre whose rhythms and melodic drive are a sensory delight. 

All in all, a beautifully balanced, intimate program of Mozart masterpieces in a convivial setting with fine food and drink: a benefit for the Midsummer Mozart Festival, one of the Bay Area’s great cultural treasures, and a pure pleasure for the rest of us. 


chamber concert benefit for the Midsummer Mozart Festival  

6:30–9 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 24 at the Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant Ave. $75 admission includes concert, food and wine. Tickets available at www.midsummermozart.org, (415) 627-9141, or contact Judith at judith@midsumermozart.org.

The Marsh Moves In As Anna’s Moves On

By Ken Bullock, Special to the Planet
Thursday January 21, 2010 - 09:39:00 AM

After months of reports and rumors, it’s official: Anna’s Jazz Island is out and The Marsh is in.  

Anna De Leon closed down her jazz club in downtown Berkeley’s Gaia Building and The Marsh, the San Francisco-based center for the development and staging of performances (solo performance in particular), is back in. The Marsh will open tomorrow night (Friday) with Oakland-bred comedian Don Reed performing his solo show about growing up on East 14th, “with some Berkeley adventures newly added.” 

Anna’s Jazz Island has featured music—and many community benefits—with nightly programming at Allston Way’s Gaia Building for nearly five years, according to De Leon, who is currently looking for a new East Bay location. The Marsh held its earlier tenancy from 2005 for a little over a year, said Marsh founder Stephanie Weisman, before leaving in September 2006, when the caterers from whom The Marsh was subletting the space pulled out. The Marsh will now occupy the back hall that it formerly occupied as well as Anna’s former front room on the ground floor. 

The ongoing situation with building tenancy for Anna’s Jazz Island was complicated, much of it documented in these pages. “Pretty much since I opened,” said De Leon, “the whole time I was there, there was never the enforcement promised on the use permit.” The back hall was regularly leased, rented or sublet, first to a church, then to an ongoing series of private parties, some of which had private security enforcement that interfered with the jazz club and its customers.  

De Leon was honored as “Outstanding Woman of Berkeley, even after the police declared the Gaia Building arts space a public nuisance—twice! “It makes me very sad,” said DeLeon. “I put my life into this place. I’m a kind of fatalistic person; things happen the way they happen. But I usually know why they happen—and I just don’t. I can only speculate.” 

There were times when her customers were stopped at the building door and asked for ID, or times “when nobody could get in or out”—and other, more notorious occasions of violence, even gunfire, at the parties, elsewhere in the building or the street outside. Once the block was cordoned off, riot-style, by Berkeley police. 

“The city chose not to enforce the use permit,” De Leon commented. “ And Mr. [Patrick] Kennedy never had a business license. It was such a strange thing to happen. I wouldn’t have expected that of Berkeley. Nobody ever said my business wasn’t a plus for the city—or that the parties were. My first lawsuit—and I never sued for damages, just for the enforcement of the permit—won. With the second, the judge agreed that the terms of enforcement were discretionary for the city.” 

De Leon faced a choice—“living with the parties or being bought out. Originally, I thought The Marsh would move back in with me here, which would have been a big plus for downtown. But they had issues with the sound bleeding through, which was reasonable. The buy-out was contingent on their signing a lease, which has been in the works since last June, so I was never sure what was going to happen or when. I only learned on the 7th of this month I’d have to be out the next day.” 

Weisman commented that The Marsh had “loved being in Berkeley” in 2005–06, and had intermittently talked with the Gaia ownership from 2007 about moving back, “but nothing happened, until Equity [the present ownership] bought the building. They came to us. Things just kept unfolding. In October, we had a real crunch at our San Francisco venue: so many shows, we didn’t know where to put them all. So we contacted Equity—and Marines’ Memorial [in downtown San Francisco], where we’ve put up Dan Hoyle’s show.” 

Weisman continued: “It wouldn’t have been a viable alternative for us unless we could take over both spaces, have two theaters. We found out two weeks ago it could work, it was finalized—and Don Reed’s opening this Friday, the perfect show for the East Bay.” 

Weisman spoke of “the long and wild ride” that’s resulted in the opening this week; her happiness at this bigger venue “and one where I can stand at the front door and greet people!”—as well as “getting the word out to the East Bay community that we’ll be available for benefits by other nonprofits, even musical pieces ... It’s bigger than our San Francisco venue; it’ll evolve based on its own, particular character. The front space will be more cabaret-style, pretty much the way Anna had it set up. And we hope to have classes, especially children’s programs, with what’s developed in them staged on site. Right now, there’s a little start-up period going on, until events previously booked in here are over with.” 

Weisman emphasized “how much positive feedback we got from our audiences since we got the notion of coming back to the East Bay for a second space. They were thrilled—because so many of them live here. It’s amazing how many came over to us in the city.” 

Weisman recalled how “this space has always attracted us. We’re in our 20th year, and this is a nice way to celebrate, opening here again. We had lots of deep, wonderful experiences here: ‘Walkin’, Talkin’ Bill Hawkins,’ my own piece—and Ellen Hoffman, the composer for it, used to lead the open mic’s at Anna’s. And Don Reed, whose wife I think is from Berkeley, has added bits to his show, like about going up to the UC campus on his unicycle. The Friday show has to be at 9 p. m. because he finishes [opening] for Jay Leno in L.A. at 5!” 

Anna De Leon looked back on her 10 years of owning clubs in and near Berkeley as she began her search for a new location, for a perfect room for the music—“though not in Berkeley.” 

De Leon recalled the fire that started upstairs from the club she’d had before, for three years, at Ashby and Alcatraz in North Oakland. She’d owned that building; the fire “made me not want to own again.” 

She reminisced about events over the years. “The huge number” of benefits (“any cause we could believe in”), “from Haitian Relief to the Green Party to foster-care programs, “all free for the cause or at the cost of a bartender.” “It’s hard, outside of the famous bands, to keep that music alive, do more than rehearse, to keep its vitality”)—and of appearances by “unbelievable” traditional jazz groups like Mal Sharpe’s and Ray Skellbred’s, with Barbara Dane.  

De Leon said she felt good about hosting many benefits and celebrations for musicians, including a benefit for Yancey Taylor to cover medical expenses, followed shortly afterwards by a birthday party for the recovered old pro. 

Something particularly close to De Leon’s heart—an acclaimed singer herself, she’s performed and recorded live at her club—have been the singers “hosted with an open mic for nine years every Tuesday, mostly unknown. And some went on to have their own shows. But also Faye Carol, Madeleine Eastman—and shows with and for singers like Ed Reed, Kenny Washington, latin jazz masters Pete Escovedo and Roy Obiedo ... drop-ins by trombonist Steve Turre, a live recording by the late Joe Beck, the night her good friend Taj Mahal, who’d been sitting at the bar, accompanied an aspiring vocalist on piano, “who had no idea who he was! ... just unbelievable to hear artists like these in my humble venue!” 

Most important, De Leon emphasized, was having a place—“and there aren’t many”—where musicians like that could play and be treated respectfully, along with “children and people of all ages. Countless musicians have thanked me for that, having a place that wasn’t a pick-up bar, where people came to hear, which isn’t always the case with jazz ... Where there’s community between the musicians and the audience. After all, that’s the way jazz began.” 

Film Noir Festival Brings Cinema’s Dark Side to the Castro

By Justin DeFreitas
Thursday January 21, 2010 - 09:40:00 AM
Dick Powell struggled to break free of what he called the “eternal juvenile” persona of his early 1930s Warner Bros. musicals, and eventually forged a second career in such dark dramas as Murder My Sweet and Cry Danger (above).
Dick Powell struggled to break free of what he called the “eternal juvenile” persona of his early 1930s Warner Bros. musicals, and eventually forged a second career in such dark dramas as Murder My Sweet and Cry Danger (above).

An “eternal juvenile” no more, Dick Powell finally broke free of the battery of baby-faced roles he endured in a seemingly endless series of bright-eyed 1930s Warner Bros. musicals. With middle age fast approaching, Powell struggled to carve out a new identity for himself, jumping ship from one studio to another in search of a new career path. 

Eventually he succeeded. Two examples of Dick Powell born again will screen this weekend as part of Noir City, the annual film noir festival at San Francisco’s Castro Theater. This year’s theme is “Lust and Larceny” and there is plenty of both throughout the 10-day series, which kicks off Friday with Pitfall, featuring Powell and Lizabeth Scott, and continues through Jan. 31. Powell appears again in Cry Danger, showing Saturday, Jan. 23. 

In an effort to shed his boyish Warner Bros. image, Powell bought out his contract and signed with Paramount, only to bolt again when the studio denied him the lead in Double Indemnity. Soon enough Powell signed with RKO, and landed the plum role of shamus Philip Marlowe in the Raymond Chandler adaptation Murder My Sweet. 

This breakthrough role was followed by more in the same vein: dark, hard-bitten dramas with a world-weary edge, a distinctly American genre to which French critics would ultimately give the name. Powell parlayed his second wave of cinematic success into a couple of radio gigs as well, including one of his signature characters, the private detective Richard Diamond. Powell was even secure enough by this point to include a nod to his earlier persona, finishing each episode by crooning a tune to his paramour. 

It was at this time that Powell made one of his best, but least-known films, Cry Danger. Powell plays a sardonic, embittered ex-con, determined after five years in the pen to set a few things straight. Dry, drunken, down-on-his-luck Richard Erdman is along for the ride as a battle-scarred ex-Marine angling for a payday as reward for getting Powell out of prison. 

Cry Danger showed at Noir City a couple of years ago, and though it was a murky 16-millimeter print—the only print available at the time—it was a crowd-pleaser. The evening was made all the more entertaining by the presence of Richard Erdman, who proved himself every bit the charismatic wisecracker even in his 80s. This year, the film screens in a brand-new 35-millimeter print, a rare opportunity to see this acerbic crime classic in peak condition. 

In addition to Powell, this year’s program pays tribute to festival favorite Richard Widmark with a Jan. 29 double feature. Slattery’s Hurricane shows Widmark in one of his early leading roles, firmly establishing the persona that would sustain him through several classics of the genre: tough, jaded, maybe a bit sleazy, but with a kind of weary decency waiting to shine through. Second on the bill is the Samuel Fuller noir masterpiece Pickup On South Street, with Widmark as an underworld conman, a pick-pocket who lives by his wits. Widmark seduces Jean Peters and plays the commies and the feds against each other while knocking back beers chilled in the icy waters beneath his shabby dockside shack. 

The festival is full of rarities, films not available on DVD, many not available even on VHS. Another seldom-seen gem is Human Desire, one of director Fritz Lang’s better American films. Adapted from Emile Zola’s novel La Bete Humaine, Human Desire is melodrama of love, lust and betrayal amid the freightyards of Philadelphia. Glen Ford plays a soldier just back from the Korean War who wants nothing more than to settle back into his life as a railroad engineer, with time to fish, catch a movie, or even step out with a nice girl, if he can find one. What he finds however is Vicky, played by perennial film noir femme fatale Gloria Grahame, whose marriage to Broderick Crawford is teetering on the edge of a spectacular collapse. 

Lang had a checkered career in Hollywood, with neither the resources nor the autonomy he enjoyed in his pre-war German career. But Human Desire shows him in fine form, employing the intelligence and artistry that characterized his silent and early sound-era masterpieces. Long stretches pass artfully without dialogue, and the sights and sounds of trains, railroad tracks and freightyards are used to excellent effect, keeping the drama taut while filling the screen with compelling imagery. 

Other highlights of the festival include Larceny, a dizzying melodrama of twists and turns centering around greed, corruption, and of course, dangerous dames; Marilyn Monroe in Niagara and Asphalt Jungle; A Place in the Sun, an adaptation of Dreiser’s An American Tragedy, with Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift; Escape in the Fog, in which a nurse is haunted by a dream of a murder committed on the Golden Gate Bridge; and an evening entitled “Bad Girls of Film Noir,” featuring “poor man’s Marilyn Monroe” Cleo Moore in a double bill of One Girl’s Confession and Women’s Prison. 


Noir City 

Friday, Jan 22 through Sunday, Jan 31 at the Castro Theater, San Francisco. www.noircity.com.

Re-Reading Rachel Carson in Spring

By Helen Rippier Wheeler, Special to the Planet
Thursday January 21, 2010 - 09:42:00 AM

Where have the mourning doves and hummingbirds gone? I used to hear a pair of murmuring doves as they explored, not silently, the sidewalk and nearby rooftop of my north Berkeley neighborhood. And hummingbirds flitted at feeders containing sugar water that hung from balconies (where permitted) and porches. Rachel Carson’s two favorite kinds of birds were the veery, a member of the thrush family, and the tern, a small, black-capped gull-like bird with forked tail.  

Rachel Louise Carson (1907–1964) believed that “we must come to terms with nature ... we’re challenged as mankind has never been challenged before to prove our maturity and our mastery, not of nature, but of ourselves.” With her writings and with her brief life, she advanced the global environmental movement.  

She began her career as a U.S. Bureau of Fisheries biologist and emerged as a full-time nature writer and environmentalist. The 1951 bestselling The Sea Around Us won her recognition and the security she surely needed as the support of her adopted son and her mother, to whom she owed her love of nature. She had taught Rachel “as a tiny child joy in the out-of-doors and the lore of birds, insects, and residents of streams and ponds.”  

Carson’s next book, The Edge of the Sea, and the republished version of her first book, Under the Sea-Wind, were also bestsellers. Her sea trilogy explored the whole of ocean life and her belief that “For all at last return to the sea—to Oceanus, the ocean river, like the ever-flowing stream of time, the beginning and the end.” 

As a biologist concerned about the problem of chemical contamination of the environment, Carson devoted five years, 1958–1962, to gathering data on the effects of pesticides in general use. She set forth the alarming facts in 1962 in Silent Spring. The title came from her opening chapter, which pictured how an entire area could be destroyed by indiscriminate spraying. She contended that the “control of nature” philosophy is born of an age when it was believed that nature exists for the convenience of humans. 

Because Carson alerted the public to the widespread use of substances of great potential harm to people and the natural environment, she was attacked by business interests. She defended her theories at Senate hearings that led to stricter regulation, although not to prohibition, of the use of such toxic chemicals as DDT.   

Silent Spring brought environmental concerns to the American public and spurred a reversal in national pesticide policy, leading to a nationwide ban on DDT and other pesticides. The inspired grassroots environmental movement led to creation of the Environmental Protection Agency. The Clean Air Act of 1963 created funding for air-pollution research, and in 1964 President Lyndon Johnson signed into law the Wilderness Act. 

With only a master’s degree in zoology and without a literary pedigree, this feminine female editor of government wildlife publications had produced a scientific book for the popular audience and become an overnight literary sensation. She was, however, the only woman present at President Kennedy’s Science Advisory Committee. “The industry-led attack on Carson began early. Former Secretary of Agriculture Ezra Taft Benson supposedly wondered why a spinster with no children was so concerned about genetics? His explanation was that she was ‘probably a Communist.’” The Monsanto Corporation parodied Silent Spring in a publication titled “The Desolate Year” that described a world without pesticides.  

Linda Lear, Carson’s biographer, writes that “Some reviewers, most of whom were male science writers, were hesitant to give Carson or her book the critical accolades that such a display of learning and eloquence deserved. Reviews of The Sea Around Us were prejudiced by her [non]status as a scientist, the audience she addressed, and her gender. “Rachel Carson must be a pen name,” one reviewer wrote. “I assume from the author’s knowledge that he must be a man.” Almost every male who reviewed the book speculated about what a woman able to write such a book looked like. And the press was inordinately interested in Carson’s marital status. When a reporter asked her why she never married, she responded, “No time.”   

Rachel Carson was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Jimmy Carter. Her physician had lied to her when her cancer was first diagnosed. She died on April 14, 1964 at age 56 of metastasized breast cancer. Especially notable at this time of questioning relevance of mammography is the multitude of 20th-century women writers also afflicted with breast cancer. They have included Margery Allingham, Barbara Ehrenreich, Oriana Fallaci, Mary Tyler “Molly” Ivins, June Millicent Jordan, Violette LeDuc, Audre Geraldine Lorde, Margaret Mead, Jerri Lin Nielsen Fitzgerald, M.D., Grace Paley, Barbara Mary Crampton Pym, May Sarton, Susan Sontag. Death from breast cancer (female) is second only to prostate cancer. The female breast cancer number projectioned for 2015 California is 374,900. The death rate has recently decreased. Walk on! 


Helen Rippier Wheeler is a Berkeley resident.  

Chantal Akerman in the Seventies

By Justin DeFreitas
Thursday January 21, 2010 - 05:09:00 PM
Director Chantal Akerman in <i>Le Chambre.</i>
Director Chantal Akerman in Le Chambre.

There's nothing like silence to focus the eye. In her low-fi experimental films of the 1970s, Chantal Akerman trained her camera on everyday life and allowed for no distractions. Without sound, without action — indeed, with little motion — she opened her lens to the commonplace, to the mundane, and taught her audience to look that much deeper at what lay before them.  

"Chantal Akerman in the Seventies," recently released on DVD by Criterion as part of its Eclipse line of overlooked films, contains several of the Belgian director's early-'70s New York films, as well as two films from later in the decade, after she had returned to her native country. 

In Le Chambre, the camera makes a gentle 360-degree turn around the a one-bedroom apartment, showing us first a kitchen with table and utensils and stove, then a coat and a door and bureau. It is almost a shock to turn 'round this seemingly empty room and suddenly come across a woman lying on the bed — the director herself — before continuing the circuit, past a writing desk and chair and finally back to the kitchen again. You might expect the film to end there, or, having completed the circuit, to cut to another scene. But once is not enough in Akerman's view, and the circuit begins again, circling around the room several more times, the only change being the woman's position and demeanor as she lay upon the bed. Akerman then shocks us with what under the circumstances seems a jarring shift: the camera stops and begins to circle in the reverse direction, and eventually takes up a sort of slow swinging motion, passing from the writing desk across the bed to the bureau, and then back again. It's a tidy little film depicting an untidy world, in which the objects of a woman's life and her presence amid those objects suggests a seemingly boundless stock of subtexts while never making any one of them explicit.  

Akerman takes this approach to a new level in Hotel Monterey, an hour-long journey through a low-rent tenement hotel. Beginning in the lobby, Akerman's camera makes its way up through the floors of the hotel, each floor seemingly more sparsely populated than the last. The bustle of the lobby and elevator gives way to beautifully composed still-life portraits of rooms and hallways and doors. Those prone to nostalgia may recognize the impulse; Hotel Monterey provides precisely the sort of portrait I wish I had thought to create of innumerable places in my past — not posed photographs and frozen-in-time snapshots, but living, breathing record of the everyday comings and goings of relatives and loved ones, friends, co-workers and classmates, through homes and yards and streets and buildings that once meant so much to me but have since disappeared, or changed, or become inaccessible, in spirit if nothing else.  

The camera's journey through the hotel begins and night and eventually makes its way to the roof as a new day dawns and casts its gaze on the streets below and the New York skyline beyond.  

The set also contains News From Home, Je Tu Il Elle and Les Rendez-vous D'anna. 


Chantal Akerman in the Seventies 




Community Calendar

Thursday January 21, 2010 - 09:20:00 AM


City of Berkeley Watershed Management Plan Public Meeting on developing a citywide watershed-management plan. Current activities, goals, challenges, and opportunities will be reviewed, with opportunities for comment. At 6:30 p.m. at North Berkeley Senior Center, 1901 Hearst Ave. 981-6418. 

Tilden Tots Join a nature adventure program for 3 and 4 year olds, each accompanied by an adult (grandparents welcome)! We’ll look for animal homes from 10 to 11:30 a.m. at Tilden Nature Center, Tilden Park. Cost is $6-$8. Registration required. 1-888-327-2757. 

Foundation Directory Online Workshop for organizations seeking grants at 4 p.m. at Berkeley Public Library 3rd floor community meeting room, 2090 Kittredge St. Class is free, but registration is required. 415-397-0902. www.foundationcenter.org/sanfrancisco  

Homework Center for grades 2-6 Tues. and Thurs. from 3:15 to 5:15 p.m. at Albany Library, 1247 Marin Ave., Albany. 526-3720, ext. 5 

Babies and Toddlers Storytime at 10:15 and 11:15 a.m. at the Kensington Library, 61 Arlington Ave., Kensington. 524-3043. 

Adult Art Night: Beading from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. at Museum of Children’s Art, 538 9th St., Oakland. Cost is $10. For information on baby-sitting call 465-8770. www.mocha.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. 

Free Drop-in Beginning Computer Class, Mon. at 6 p.m. and Thurs. at 10 a.m. at bekeley Public Library, 3rd flr., 2090 Kittredge St. 981-6148. 


Berkeley Path Wanderers Ohlone Greenway Stroll See recent changes to the semi-developed Santa Fe Right-of-way, and travel north beyond the Berkeley city limits. Meet at 10 a.m. at University at West St., between Acton and Chestnut. 520-3276. 

City Commons Club Noon Luncheon with Rachel Brahinsky on “The Making–and Unmaking–of Southeast San Francisco” Luncheon at 11:45 a.m. for $15, speech at 12:30 p.m., at the Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant St. 527-2173.  

“Clearing Landmines in Afghanistan” with Andrew Lyons on his work to clear contaminated areas in the midst of war, at 7 p.m. at Books Inc., 1760 Fourth St. Co-sponsored by Grandmothers Against the War. 

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 


Destiny Arts Move-a-Thon Benefit with dozens of dance and martial arts teachers, popular DJs and community celebrities leading classes from hip-hop and modern dance to karate, hula and more, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. at Destiny Arts Center, 1000 42nd St. Oakland. Cost is $15-$100 sliding scale. www.destinyarts.org  

Help the People of Haiti Fundraiser with reports by Haitian activists, nurses and doctors from 3 to 7 p.m. at Bay Area Christian Connection, 810 Clay Street at 8th, Oakland. 

Friends of Five Creeks Work Party We’ll continue to remove invasives and plant on Cerrito Creek at the foot of Albany Hill. Meet 10 a.m. at the south end of Santa Clara Ave., El Cerrito. 848-9358. www.fivecreeks.org 

Wetland Planting at the Martin Luther King Jr. Regional Shoreline Volunteers needed to plant native seedlings, from 9 a.m. to noon. Due to the sensitive nature of the resoration site, RSVP is required. 452-9261 ext. 109. bayevents@saveSFbay.org 

Rose Pruning Learn how to prune your roses at 10:30 a.m. at Berkeley Horticultural Nursery, 1310 McGee Ave. Free. 526-4704. 

“Turning a Home Remodel into a Green Energy Retrofit” A seminar with Alice La Pierre, City of Berkeley Energy Efficiency Coordinator at 9 a.m. at Truitt & White Conference Room, 1817 Second St. Free. 841-0511. 

Rabbit Adoption Day from 1 to 4 p.m. at RabbitEars, 377 Colusa Ave., Kensington. 525-6155. 

Winter Storytime for pre-schoolers and their families at 11 a.m. at Albany Library, 1247 Marin Ave., Albany. 526-3720, ext. 5. 

Shotgun Players Costume Shop Sale from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Addison St. at 2nd. www.shotgunplayers.org 

Muppetry at Playland-Not-At-The-Beach Sat. and Sun. from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 10979 San Pablo Ave., El Cerrito. Cost is $10-$15. 932-8966. www.playland-not-at-the-beach.org 

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.  


Free H1N1 Community Vaccination Clinic Nasal and  Injectable vaccine available from 10 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at West Berkeley Family Practice, 2031 Sixth St., entrance off Addison St. through the parking lot. 981-5300. 

Animals Catching Zzzzs Who’s hibernating this season on our ridgeline? Discover the surprising habits of animals that sleep over the winter as we share fun-filled games for the entire family, from 2 to 3:30 p.m. at Tilden Nature Center, Tilden Park. 544-2233. 

Tour of the Berkeley City Club, designed by Julia Morgan, from 1 to 4 p.m. at 2315 Durant Ave. Free, donations accepted. www.landmarkheritagefoundation.org 

“Taking Back KPFA – Images from 1999” Silent auction and benefit for KPFA at 2 p.m. at Expressions Gallery, 2035 Ashby Ave. www.expressionsgallery.org 

Personal Theology Seminars with Hana Matt on “Judaism, Chirstianity, Sufism” at 10 a.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley, 1 Lawson Rd., Kensington. 525-0302, ext. 306. 

Botanical Art Walk at 1 p.m. at UC Botanical Garden. Cost is $10-$12. Registration required. 643-2755. 

Free Garden Tours at Regional Parks Botanic Garden in Tilden Park Sat. at 2 p.m. and Sun. at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Call to confirm. 841-8732. www.nativeplants.org 

Tibetan Buddhism with Tracy McMullen on “Music, Inspiration, and Creativity” at 6 p.m. at the Tibetan Nyingma Institute, 1815 Highland Pl. 809-1000.  


Berkeley Downtown Area Plan Forum at 7 p.m. at the Aurora Theater, 2081 Addison St. www.downtownberkeley.org 

Interview with Arlene Engelhardt, new Executive Director of Pacifica at 2 p.m. on KPFA, 94.1. 

Kensington Library Book Club meets to discuss “Wine- 

burg, Ohio” by Sherwood Anderson at 7 p.m. at Kensingotn Library, 61 Arlington Ave. 524-3043. 

Free Drop-in Beginning Computer Class, Mon. at 6 p.m. and Thurs. at 10 a.m. at bekeley Public Library, 3rd flr., 2090 Kittredge St. 981-6148. 

Drop-in Knitting Group for all ages from 3:30 to 5 p.m. at Albany Library, 1247 Marin Ave., Albany. 526-3720, ext. 5. 

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. 


Rebuilding Together East Bay-North will present potential project sites for the April 24 National Rebuilding Day at 6 p.m. at South Berkeley Senior Center, 2939 Ellis St. 644-7989.  

Tilden Explorers An after-school nature adventure program for 5-7 year olds. We will explore animal homes from 3:15 to 4:15 p.m.. Cost is $6-$8, registration required. 1-888-EBPARKS. 

Job Seeker Information Session for Berkeley residents receiving unemployment insurance at 10 a.m. at North Cities One Stop Career Center, 1918 Bonita Ave. 982-7128. www.eastbayworks.com 

“Spiritual but not Religious: Chasing the Divine” The 2010 Earl Lectures and Leadership Conference, Tues.-Thurs. at Pacific School of Religion, 1798 Scenic Ave. The lectures are free and open to the public. 849-8218. 

El Cerrito Democratic Club “Flying Start to 2010” with election of officers and a focus group on the direction and priorities of the Club for the coming year, at 6:30 p.m. in Fellowship Hall, El Cerrito United Methodist Church, 6830 Stockton Ave. at Richmond Ave., El Cerrito. Light refreshments will be available, as well as pizza for $4 per person. 527-5953. 

Improv for Fun Play fun improv games that unleash your imagination, spontaneity, laughter. Ongoing classes Tues. at 6 p.m. at Berkeley YWCA, 2600 Bancroft Way. Cost is $12. www.berkeleyimprov.com  

Book Lust Salon meets to discuss “The Comfort of Strangers” and “Saturday” by Ian McEwan at 7:30 p.m. at The Hillside Club, 2286 Cedar St. Cost is $10-$15. 848-3227. www.hillsideclub.org 

Family Storytime, for ages preschool and up, at 7 p.m. at the Kensington Library, 61 Arlington Ave., Kensington. 524-3043. 

Berkeley PC Users Group meets at 7 p.m. at 1145 Walnut St. meldancing@aol.com 

Snowshoeing 101 at 7 p.m. at REI, 1338 San Pablo Ave. 527-4140. 

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. 526-3720. 

Homework Help Program at the Richmond Public Library Tues. and Thurs. from 3 to 5:30 p.m. at 325 Civic Center Plaza. For more information or to enroll, call 620-6557. 

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

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

St. John’s Prime Timers meets at 9:30 a.m. at St. John’s Presbyterian Church, 2727 College Ave. We always welcome new members over 50. 845-6830. 


South Branch Library Project Meet the architects and discuss the design plans at 6:30 p.m. at South Branch Library, 1901 Russell St. 981-6195. 

West Berkeley Enterprise Zone Learn about potential tax savings and other aspects of the new enterprise zone at 7 p.m. at West Berkeley Senior Center - 1900 6th St., at Hearst. RSVP to 981-RSVP. ecodev@cityofberkeley.info 

“Minds on the Edge” This video is part of a national initiative to advance consensus about how to improve the kinds of support and treatment available for people with mental illness, at 7:30 p.m. at Albany United Methodist Church, 980 Stannage Ave., at Marin Ave. Enter at Stannage door. 524-1250. www.nami.org 

“Time for Senior Activism” with Ruby Bernstein and Michael Lyons on the California Democracy Act and Entitlements in Crisis at 1:30 p.m. at North Berkeley Senior Center, 1901 Hearst, corner of MLK. 548-9696. 

Tilden Explorers An after-school nature adventure program for 5-7 year olds. We will explore animal homes from 3:15 to 4:15 p.m.. Cost is $6-$8, registration required. 1-888-EBPARKS. 

Botanical Art Walk at 1 p.m. at UC Botanical Garden. Cost is $10-$12. Registration required. 643-2755. 

“The Trap” by Adam Curtis Episode Three: We Force You To Be Free, at 7:30 p.m. at Humanist Hall, 390 27th St., Oakland. Donation $5. www.Humanist Hall.org 

Red Cross Blood Services Volunteer Orientation from 6 to 8 p.m. at 6230 Claremont Ave., Oakland. Registration required. 594-5165. 

One-on-one Computer Training from noon to 1 p.m. at Albany Library, 1247 Marin Ave., Albany. Sign up in advance. 526-3720, ext. 5. 

Sing-Along with Dale Boland for toddlers and their families, Weds. at 4:30 p.m. at Albany Library, 1247 Marin Ave., Albany. 526-3720, ext. 5. 

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. 


Strawberry Creek at Center Street A pesentation by landscape architect Walter Hood on his designs for an open creek in downtown at 7 p.m. at David Brower Center, 2150 Allston Way. kirstin@ecocitybuilders.org 

Job Seeker Information Session for Berkeley residents receiving unemployment insurance at 10 a.m. at North Cities One Stop Career Center, 1918 Bonita Ave. 982-7128. www.eastbayworks.com 

Berkeley School Volunteers, New Volunteer Orientation from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at 1835 Allston Way. Bring a photo ID and two references to the orientation. Returning volunteers do not need to attend. 644-8833. 

“Envisioning Sustainability” with Peter Berg at 7 p.m. at the Ecology Center, 2530 San Pablo Ave. 548-3402. 

StopWaste.org Workshop on Transport Packaging Solutions at 10 a.m. at 2145 Webster St., Oakland. RSVP required. 1-877-786-7927. www.UseReusables.com 

Berkeley Entrepreneurs Forum “Angel Investors: Alternative Financing?” at 6:30 p.m. at Andersen Auditorium, Haas School of Business, UC campus. Cost is $20-$30. 642-4255. entrepreneurship.berkeley.edu 

Association of Women in Sciences meets at 6:30 p.m. at Novartis, Building x-310, 5300 Hollis St., Emeryville. Suggested donation $5-$10. ebawis.org 

Improv for Fun Play fun improv games that unleash your imagination, spontaneity, laughter. Ongoing classes Thurs. at 7 p.m. at Berkeley YWCA, 2600 Bancroft Way. Cost is $12. www.berkeleyimprov.com  

Improv for Performance Develop improv acting skills for the stage. 6-week series concludes with show for friends and family, Thurs. at 8:30 p.m. at Berkeley YWCA, 2600 Bancroft Way, through March 4. Cost is $45. www.berkeleyimprov.com 

Babies and Toddlers Storytime at 10:15 and 11:15 a.m. at the Kensington Library, 61 Arlington Ave., Kensington. 524-3043. 

Red Cross Blood Drive from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Classrooms 1 and 4, 150 Frank Ogawa Plaza, Oakland. To schedule an appointment go to www.helpsavealife.org 

Red Cross Blood Drive from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Holy Names University, Brennan Lounge, 3500 Mountain Blvd., Oakland. To schedule an appointment go to www.helpsavealife.org 

Free Drop-in Beginning Computer Class, Mon. at 6 p.m. and Thurs. at 10 a.m. at bekeley Public Library, 3rd flr., 2090 Kittredge St. 981-6148. 

Great Books Discussion “Playboy of the Western World” at 1:30 p.m. Albany Library, 1247 Marin Ave., Albany. 526-3720. 

Homework Center for grades 2-6 Tues. and Thurs. from 3:15 to 5:15 p.m. at Albany Library, 1247 Marin Ave., Albany. 526-3720, ext. 5 

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


City Commons Club Noon Luncheon with Rita Maran on “The United Nations Human Rights Treaties and the United States’ Policies on Human Rights” Luncheon at 11:45 a.m. for $15, speech at 12:30 p.m., at the Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant St. For information and reservations call 527-2173. www.citycommonsclub.org 

“Forever Activists: Stories from the Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade” A film showing in honor of Hilda Bell Roberts (1915-2009), nurse in Spanish Civil War and activist, at 7 p.m. at Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists, 1924 Cedar St. Donation $5-$10. 841-4824. www.bfuu.org 

Red Cross Blood Drive from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Watergate Towers, 2200 Powell St., Suite 120, Emeryville. To schedule an appointment go to www.helpsavealife.org 

Berkeley Women in Black weekly vigil from noon to 1 p.m. at Bancroft and Telegraph. Our focus is human rights in Palestine. 548-6310. 

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


First Annual Home Coming, sponsored by Friends of Negro Spirituals with Negro Spirituals singing, raffle, renewing acquaintances, and getting acquainted, all for the purpose of celebrating and educating the public about the Negro Spirituals folk songs at 1 p.m. at the West Oakland Senior Center, 1724 Adeline St., Oakland. fns3@juno.com 

Mini-Farmers in Tilden A farm exploration program, from 10 to 11:30 a.m. for ages 4-6 years, accompanied by an adult. We will explore the Little Farm, care for animals, do crafts and farm chores. Wear boots and dress to get dirty! Fee is $6-$8. Registration required. 1-888-EBPARKS. 

Snow Day at Habitot Make snow, build an igloo, and enjoy flying snowballs, from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at 2065 Kittredge St. Cost is $8.50. 647-1111. 

Golf Introduction Learn pre-shot and full-swing fundamentals, and become familiar with terminology/equipment. Golf balls and loaner clubs are provided. Participants will receive a free $20 range card for use at the driving range and $20 off a future class at the golf course. From 3:30 to 5 p.m. at Tilden Golf Course, Tilden Park. For ages 14 and up. Cost is $50-$56. Registration required 1-888-EBPARKS. www.ebparks.org 

Red Cross Blood Drive from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the American Red Cross bus, at 2801 Adeline St., at Walgreens. To schedule an appointment go to www.helpsavealife.org  


Winter Storytime for pre-schoolers and their families at 11 a.m. at Albany Library, 1247 Marin Ave., Albany. 526-3720, ext. 5. 

Transition Albany Film showing of “The Age of Stupid” a presentation on climate change that combines a fictional 2055 with six documentary strands from all over the globe, at 1:30 p.m. at Albany Library, 1247 Marin Ave., Albany. 526-3720, ext. 5. 

Rhythmix Community Clothing Swap Bring a bag of clothing you don’t love and swap them for something you’ll adore, leftovers donated to local charities. From 2 to 5 p.m. at Rhythmix Cultural Works, 2513 Blanding Ave., Alameda. Donation $5. 865-5060. 

Women-Only Daylong Inquiry Into the Essence of Womanness through meditation and discussionfrom 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Ridhwan Center 2075 Eunice St. Cost is $100. registration required. explorevenus@gmail.com  

Time machine: The 1980s at Playland-Not-At-The-Beach Music, TV shows and movies, Sat. and Sun. from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 10979 San Pablo Ave., El Cerrito. Cost is $10-$15. 932-8966. www.playland-not-at-the-beach.org 

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.  


Oakland Museum’s White Elephant Preview Sale from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 333 Lancaster St. on the Oakland Estuary. Free shuttle from the Fruitvale BART. Cost is $12.50-$15. www.whiteelephantsale.org 

Boy’s Day at the Berkeley Ballet Theater Free open house with dance classes for boys from noon to 5 p.m. at Berkeley Ballet Theater, Julia Morgan Center for the Arts, 2640 College Ave. 843-4688. idance@berkeleyballet.org 

Personal Theology Seminars with Hana Matt on “Native American Spirituality, Modern Science” at 10 a.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley, 1 Lawson Rd., Kensington. 525-0302, ext. 306. 

Free Garden Tours at Regional Parks Botanic Garden in Tilden Park Sat. 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 


Watershed Management Plan Public Meeting on developing a citywide watershed-management plan. Current activities, goals, challenges, and opportunities will be reviewed, with opportunities for comment. At 6:30 p.m. at North Berkeley Senior Center, 1901 Hearst Ave. 981-6418. 

Fair Campaign Practices Commission meets Thurs., Jan. 21, at 7:30 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center. 981-6950.  

Rent Stabilization Board meets Thurs. Jan. 21, at 7 p.m. in City Council Chambers. 981-7368. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/rent 

City Council meets Tues., Jan. 26, at 7 p.m in City Council Chambers. 981-6900. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/citycouncil 

Energy Commission meets Wed., Jan. 27, at 6:30 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center. 981-7439. www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/commissions/energy 

Planning Commission meets Wed., Jan. 27, at 7 p.m., at the North Berkeley Senior Center. 981-7416. www.ci.berkeley. ca.us/commissions/planning 

Medical Cannabis Commission meets Thurs., Jan. 28, at 1:30 p.m. at City Hall, Cypress Room, 2180 Milvia. 981-7402. 

Mental Health Commission meets Thurs., Jan. 28, at 5 p.m. at 2640 MLK Jr. Way, at Derby. 981-5217. www.ci.erkeley.ca.us/commissions/mentalhealth