The Week

Students at Berkeley City College gear up for the March 4 Day of Action Wednesday. BCC will send three busloads of students and 50 students by BART to a 5 p.m. rally Thursday at the Civic Center in San Francisco.
Shanna Hullaby
Students at Berkeley City College gear up for the March 4 Day of Action Wednesday. BCC will send three busloads of students and 50 students by BART to a 5 p.m. rally Thursday at the Civic Center in San Francisco.


Flash: Berkeley High Principal Jim Slemp Announces That He Will Retire in June

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Wednesday March 10, 2010 - 02:40:00 PM
Berkeley High Principal Jim Slemp cheers on more than 3,000 high school students who formed a human chain around the campus in June 2008 to protest immigration raids by ICE agents in Berkeley.

Berkeley High School Principal Jim Slemp, whose tenure was sometimes marked by controversy and contentious relationships with parents and teachers, announced Wednesday morning he was going to retire in June. -more-

Council to Tackle Budget, Alcohol Permits, Columbaria and Google Internet Service

Riya Bhattacharjee
Tuesday March 09, 2010 - 05:14:00 PM

The Berkeley City Council will start its meeting today with a special 5:30 p.m. budget workshop detailing how the city can balance its 2010-2011 budget. -more-

BUSD Dismisses Rumors About Berkeley Adult School Closure

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Monday March 08, 2010 - 09:46:00 PM

The Berkeley Unified School District dismissed rumors stirred up online over the weekend about the closure of the Berkeley Adult School. -more-

Berkeley-based Earth Island Behind Oscar Winner 'The Cove'

Riya Bhattacharjee
Monday March 08, 2010 - 08:13:00 PM
Judith Ehrlich, director of the Oscar-nominated documentary, The Most Dangerous Man in America, on the way to the Kodak Theater for the Oscars with Daniel and Patricia Ellsberg. Judy's dress was designed and made in the East Bay by Devi, proprietor of Outback in Point Richmond,*with help from the LoveTribe (Outback's loyal customers). Jewelry by Clare Ullman.

Berkeley-based Earth Island Institute is behind the making of The Cove, which won an Oscar for best documentary Sunday night. -more-

Richmond's Oscar Connection

Tom Butt, Special to The Planet
Tuesday March 09, 2010 - 04:17:00 PM
Pete Docter with his Oscar.

Richmond Councilmember Tom Butt on his city's Oscar connection: -more-

Berkeley Bike-Pedestrian Safety Remains Consistently Poor

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Monday March 08, 2010 - 05:52:00 PM
The Office of Traffic Safety currently ranks Berkeley highest in terms of the number of pedestrian injury collisions among similarly sized cities in California. The numbers have changed little since 2003.

Records from the state Office of Traffic Safety show that Berkeley has consistently been one of the least safe—and in some cases the most unsafe—places in California for bicyclists and pedestrians for the last several years. -more-

Worth A Look

Links to Other Sites
Saturday March 06, 2010 - 08:43:00 AM

An elegant essay on planning theory from Berkeleyside. Gary Parsons graciously also submitted this piece to the Planet, but it looks nice here, and there are comments too. -more-

Berkeley Law Dean to Advise UC President on Race Matters

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Friday March 05, 2010 - 06:30:00 PM
Berkeley Law School Dean Christopher Edley was named special advisor to UC President Mark Yudof and UC San Diego Chancellor Marye Anne Fox Friday to help resolve recent acts of racism on the UCSD campus.

Berkeley Law School Dean Christopher Edley was named special advisor to UC President Mark Yudof and UC San Diego Chancellor Marye Anne Fox Friday to help resolve recent acts of racism on the UCSD campus. -more-

Blogs, Blogs and More Blogs

compiled by Becky O'Malley and friends
Friday March 05, 2010 - 05:37:00 PM

This is an arbitrary and eclectic selection of some local blogs we think are worth reading: -more-

Berkeley Drops Everything to Read

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Friday March 05, 2010 - 02:14:00 PM
Berkeley Police Department Chief Michael Meehan reads to fifth graders at Washinton Elementary School Friday morning

A police chief, firefighters and city officials in Berkeley dropped everything for about an hour Friday to read. -more-

Willard Middle School Students Join UC Berkeley to Protest Cuts

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday March 04, 2010 - 04:53:00 PM

Willard Middle School students also took part in the March 4 Day of Action—some joining the march and others cheering from the school balcony. -more-

Flash: More Than 1,000 March in Berkeley to Protest Budget Cuts

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday March 04, 2010 - 09:36:00 PM
UC Berkeley students dance at the entrance of Sproul Plaza on Bancroft and Telegraph before starting on their march at noon Thursday. The Subway restaurant that was vandalized during a riot about a week ago can be seen in the background.

UC Berkeley—where the idea of the March 4 Day of Action incubated last October—erupted into a riot of noise and colors Thursday afternoon, when more than 1,000 people marched from Sproul Plaza to Frank Ogawa Plaza in Oakland. -more-

Demonstrators Shut Down UC Berkeley

Thursday March 04, 2010 - 11:44:00 AM
On the left are two graduate students in Geography, both members of the UAW union which represents teaching assistants and readers. At right is a member of the Coalition of University Employees union.
                The fellow in the center is Alex Tarr, graduate student in geography.  Why is he protesting?  He said that "There is a crisis of governance in California, with no way to pass a sensible budget because of minority political rule at the state level.  There is also a crisis of leadership here at UC.  There is in the Office of the President no vision of public education that does not go down the path of privatization.  Innovations such as ‘distance learning’and the ‘cyber university,’ for instance, are neither better for education nor fiscally sound."
                 To his left is John Stehlin, an instructor in the geography department. 
                On the right is David Kessler, a member of CUE.  He works in the Bancroft Library, and said that funding cuts have been very harmful to the library, resulting in overworked staff and diminished service to the public.

Budget cut demonstrators got an early start on the UC Berkeley campus with a colorful blockade of signs and chanting protesters at Sather Gate. The UC Berkeley campus is effectively shut down. -more-

Berkeley Schools, Colleges Gear Up for March 4 Day of Action

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Wednesday March 03, 2010 - 08:29:00 PM

Schools, classrooms, corridors and cafeterias in Berkeley are buzzing with excitement over the March 4 Day of Action in California. An idea born out of the Oct. 24 education conference at the UC Berkeley campus, Thursday’s rally has evolved into a statewide movement to protest budget cuts, fee hikes and furloughs in public education. -more-

UC Berkeley Budget Cut Protest Turns Violent

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Wednesday March 03, 2010 - 08:49:00 PM

An open-air dance party at UC Berkeley turned violent last Thursday when protesters occupied a campus building, clashed with police officers, broke windows and set dumpsters on fire. -more-

UC Berkeley Students Protest UCSD Racist Acts

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Wednesday March 03, 2010 - 08:47:00 PM
Black students at UC Berkeley protest racist acts at UCSD Monday.

UC Berkeley became the scene of yet another protest Monday when a group of students and supporters staged a “Blackout 2010” blockade of Sather Gate. -more-

KKK-style Hood Found at UCSD Monday

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Wednesday March 03, 2010 - 08:35:00 PM

On the same day Black students at UC Berkeley stood in solidarity with their peers at UC San Diego to condemn racist acts on campus, a KKK-style hood was found outside UCSD’s main campus library. -more-

Berkeley Police Focuses on Pedestrian Safety in March to Remember Zachary Cruz

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Wednesday March 03, 2010 - 08:22:00 PM
Zachary Cruz, 5, was killed in a pedestrian accident on his way to an after-school program at the Clark Kerr campus.

The Berkeley Police Department announced Tuesday it will focus on pedestrian safety in March in honor of Zachary Michael Cruz, who was killed in a collision while walking to an after-school program Feb. 27, 2009. -more-

As BUSD Weighs Construction Bonds for Nov Ballot, Berkeley High Tops the List

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Wednesday March 03, 2010 - 08:02:00 PM

The Berkeley Board of Education is weighing recommendations for placing a new construction bond on the November ballot, with Berkeley High School topping the list of immediate priorities. -more-

Protests Greet Berkeley High Science Teacher Dismissal Recommendation

By Raymond Barglow, Special to the Planet
Wednesday March 03, 2010 - 07:44:00 PM

Three Berkeley High School science teachers, Matt Bissell, Matt McHugh, and Kate Haber, say that they were astonished to learn that Principal Jim Slemp has concluded that a well-regarded fellow science teacher should not be re-hired for next year. They told the Planet that in protest of the principal's action, BHS science department teachers walked out of their staff meeting on Monday morning and marched en masse first to the principal's office and then to the office of the district superintendent. -more-

Berkeley Law’s Goodwin Liu Nominated to S.F. Ninth Circuit Court

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Wednesday March 03, 2010 - 08:17:00 PM
UC Berkeley Law Professor Goodwin Liu was nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco by President Barack Obama.

UC Berkeley Law Professor Goodwin Liu was nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco by President Barack Obama Feb. 24. -more-

Former Berkeley School Board Member Joaquin Rivera To Run for County Board

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Wednesday March 03, 2010 - 06:41:00 PM
Former school board member Joaquin Rivera looks on as former Berkeley Unified Superintendent Michele Lawrence announces her retirement in Sept. 2007.

Former Berkeley Board of Education member Joaquin Rivera will run for trustee of the Alameda County Board of Education in the June 8 election. -more-

Berkeley Subway Vandalism May Be Connected to Bear’s Lair Lease

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Wednesday March 03, 2010 - 05:04:00 PM
Subway sandwich shop manager Rigo Alonso, left, and worker Servando Gomez, right, stand in front of one of the store's broken windows Wednesday. Alonso said damages arising from the vandalism had cost the store $2,000 so far.

Although some UC Berkeley students have linked the recent acts of vandalism on a Telegraph Avenue Subway store to discontent over lease negotiations at the Bear’s Lair Food Court on campus, Berkeley police said Tuesday that the intent of the vandals was still under investigation. -more-



Can Education in California Be Salvaged?

By Becky O'Malley
Wednesday March 03, 2010 - 07:08:00 PM

This week is education week in California. All over the state, especially on Thursday, there are demonstrations planned to protest the cuts in funding and tuition increases which have been made necessary by the legislature’s inability or unwillingness to allocate the money which is needed to support even a modest amount of education. Sob stories abound at every level. Shocking statistics comparing California unfavorably to the poorest, most benighted states in the union are all too easy to find. -more-


A Dan O’Neill Extravaganza

By Dan O’Neill
Thursday March 04, 2010 - 10:45:00 PM

More Dan O’Neill Extravaganza

By Dan O’Neill
Thursday March 04, 2010 - 10:51:00 PM

Pepper Spray Times

By Carol Denney
Thursday March 04, 2010 - 12:59:00 PM

Public Comment


Wednesday March 03, 2010 - 06:59:00 PM

Editor: -more-

Blair's Testimony: A Tangled Legacy

By Stuart Dodds
Thursday March 04, 2010 - 09:02:00 AM

As a British-born resident of the United States with family in both countries, I followed Tony Blair's testimony before the Chilcot Iraq Inquiry in London (January 29, 2010) with a morbid fascination. -more-

The Iron Fist Behind the Humor:Will Travis on Democracy

By Claire Pierce
Wednesday March 03, 2010 - 07:04:00 PM

Every once in a while, a member of the local Berkeley elite will reveal some useful information about his or her true character. We were treated to just such a moment in the publication of Will Travis’ letter about the mayor’s latest plan to help developers speed up the planning process (“New Downtown Plan,” February 18, 2010). While Mr. Travis couches his remarks in ironic humor, the arrogance of his attitude nevertheless shines through. -more-

Why the Bad Teacher Narrative Does Not Help Our Students, But Fixing our Budget Process Will

By Tracey Iglehart
Wednesday March 03, 2010 - 06:53:00 PM

Please help to defend public education Thursday, March 4th by rallying at 2134 MLK Jr. Way beginning at 3:3opm. As educators across the state of California plan events on March 4th to defend public education, President Obama is proudly claiming that the firing of teachers at a Rhode Island High School is sound education reform and a necessary form of accountability. -more-

President Obama is still fighting for healthcare reform. Are we?

By Anne Sunderland
Wednesday March 03, 2010 - 05:05:00 PM

Last week I watched the Healthcare Summit with many people in mind. After a year of working on healthcare reform I’ve met many local residents who have been failed by our healthcare system. They include a man who watched his parents, janitors who had saved for years to buy a home, loose that home due to medical bills resulting from his mother’s diabetes. And a cancer survivor who can’t get health insurance due to her pre-existing condition. Now she forgoes regular check-ups to see if her cancer has returned. If it does, she’ll have few options. -more-

Planet Needs to Publish Correction

By Rob Wrenn
Wednesday March 03, 2010 - 09:38:00 PM

Riya Bhattacharjee's article on the Downtown Plan in the February 25-March 3 Planet presents a factually inaccurate picture of the differences between the Downtown Plan adopted by the City Council last year and the plan adopted and sent to the Council by the Downtown Area Plan Advisory Committee (DAPAC) in 2007. She says the Council adopted a 225' maximum while the DAPAC plan "suggested" a 120' maximum. -more-

The Planet's Response

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday March 04, 2010 - 08:01:00 AM

EDITOR’S NOTE Rob Wrenn’s rant stands as proof of his assertion that “some of the opinion is poorly thought-out or poorly written, or, worse, full of misinformation.” The entitled attitude he exhibits is breathtaking. He shows his naivete about journalism by his suggestion that newspapers—any newspapers—have the time or money to employ factcheckers. Factcheckers, in the olden days, used to be people who worked for the New Yorker and a few similar select lavishly staffed magazines, but even the New Yorker makes its share of mistakes in the brave new world of the 21st century. Newspapers have always had a few mistakes, and they always will. The New York Times’ correction column is one of the most entertaining and well-read parts of the paper. And anyhow, this story was correct. Wrenn confuses an accurate report of what was actually said at the last city council meeting, which was recorded and is available online for anyone to check, with what he thinks should have been said or hopes was said. Given the self-righteous tone of his ill-informed and ill-mannered demand for “correction”, I have asked the reporter to set him straight below: -more-


DISPATCHES FROM THE EDGE:Israeli Crackdown; Landmines & Clusters, Oh My!

Israeli Crackdown; Landmines & Clusters, Oh My! By Conn Hallinan
Thursday March 04, 2010 - 08:45:00 AM

A heavy-handed crack down on Israeli dissidents is drawing sharp criticism by human rights organizations and at least a mild judicial slap on the wrist for the government of Benjamin Netanyahu. The authorities are targeting such groups as B’Tselem, New Israel Fund (NIF), the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), as well as foreign activists in the occupied West Bank. -more-

UNDERCURRENTS: The Dellums Administration Gets It Wrong On Last Year’s Parking Enforcement Crackdown

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Thursday March 04, 2010 - 08:39:00 AM

Wrong, indefensible, and inexcusable. That’s the best way to describe the actions of the Dellums Administration surrounding what appears to be the unequal and outright discriminatory parking ticket practices city administrators put into effect in Oakland this summer and fall, tried to pretend they didn’t, and then blamed on the City Council. -more-

GREEN NEIGHBORS: Beware the Fruitless Mulberry

By Ron Sullivan
Wednesday March 03, 2010 - 05:52:00 PM
Cute fuzzy little death-dealing fruitless-mulberry blossoms. Last year was especially floriferous.

As Joe has been ribbing me: I’m learning phenology the hard way. -more-

Arts & Events

On the Current Destruction of Caucasian Chalk Circle at ACT

By R.G.Davis
Wednesday March 03, 2010 - 05:19:00 PM

When I found out that the director of a current production of Caucasian Chalk Circle had been the Tony Award winning director of the Broadway musical Sweeney Todd. I wondered why no one I knew in the International Brecht Society hadn’t advised directors that doing Sweeney Todd (a murder revenge musical) was a learning process for anyone tackling a gigantic play with enormous historical importance like Caucasian Chalk Circle (derived from Augsburg Chalk Circle, Chinese Chalk Circle and Solomon’s biblical choices). John Doyle at ACT coaxed by Corey… the producer/director and publicist certainly knows her Brecht and how to prepare. -more-

Berkeley’s La Peña Hosts Benefit for Chile

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday March 04, 2010 - 09:23:00 AM

Berkeley’s La Peña Cultural Center will hold a benefit for earthquake victims in Chile Sunday, March 7. -more-