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Morgan Siegel, whose father is from Israel, sported a "Another Israeli for Human Rights" sticker at the senate meeting.
          Asked why she was supporting the divestment bill, Siegel said "because wrong is wrong and right is right. You can't escape one Holocaust and create another somewhere else."
Riya Bhattacharjee
Morgan Siegel, whose father is from Israel, sported a "Another Israeli for Human Rights" sticker at the senate meeting. Asked why she was supporting the divestment bill, Siegel said "because wrong is wrong and right is right. You can't escape one Holocaust and create another somewhere else."
 

News

New: Victim of Saturday’s Fatal Shooting Was a 20-Year-Old Berkeley Man

By Bay City News
Sunday April 18, 2010 - 10:27:00 PM

A 20-year-old Berkeley man who was fatally shot in San Francisco's Bayview District on Saturday night has been identified by the San Francisco medical examiner's office as Stephen Powell. 

The shooting was reported at about 7 p.m. in Garlington Court, San Francisco police Officer Boaz Mariles said. Arriving officers found Powell in the street suffering from a gunshot wound. He was pronounced dead there, Mariles said. 

No arrests have been made. 

 

 


New: Laundromat, BRT, Recycling Fees Head Back to Council

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Sunday April 18, 2010 - 06:18:00 PM
A poacher flees when caught trying to take trash from the recycling bins outside the Planet office last week.
Riya Bhattacharjee
A poacher flees when caught trying to take trash from the recycling bins outside the Planet office last week.

The Berkeley City Council will be holding an 8 p.m. time- specific presentation and discussion on the Bus Rapid Transit Build Option at its first meeting after its spring break on Tuesday. 

Before taking up Bus Rapid Transit, the council will hold a special 5:30 p.m. meeting to vote on whether to allow a laundromat in a ground floor retail space at Southside Lofts on Telegraph Avenue. 

A group of neighbors oppose the development, which the city allowed to move forward through an erroneous use permit. 

Although BRT had originally been scheduled for March 23, it was pushed to the end of the meeting, and the council only had time to listen to a few public comments close to midnight. 

A large crowd is expected for Tuesday’s meeting, so Councilmember Kriss Worthington requested a change of venue to a Berkeley public school auditorium, but his proposal was rejected. 

The council is expected to decide on which “Build” alternative, if any, to forward to AC Transit for environmental review.  

Bus Rapid Transit has been a hotly-contested topic in Berkeley ever since AC Transit announced its plans to create a 17-mile route which would link Berkeley, Oakland and San Leandro with faster, more efficient bus services. 

AC Transit has asked for a final Locally Preferred Alternative or Build option from the three cities by April.  

A Feb. 10 Planning Commission recommendation had asked the Berkeley City Council to study the Bus Rapid Transit Full Build option, which includes making Telegraph two ways and creating dedicated downtown bus lanes, for possible endorsement, along with another alternative called Rapid Bus Plus and a “No Build” option.  

The city’s Planning Department staff proposed their own new set of recommendations at a March 10 meeting in light of new information about the decision process and continued opposition to the plans for Telegraph and downtown.  

The Downtown Berkeley Association has come out against dedicated bus lanes on the four blocks of the BRT route on Shattuck Avenue between Addison Street and Bancroft Way because of the loss of parking.  

Both sets of recommendations will be presented to the City Council Tuesday. 

 

Animal Shelter Project 

The council will vote on whether to adopt a resolution authorizing the sale of $5.5 million in bond certificates to fund the Dona Spring Animal Shelter. 

The city currently does not have funds to build the shelter and has decided to use certificates of participation to raise the required funding. 

The city has decided to hire Broward Builders, Inc. for the construction of the animal shelter and East Touchdown Plaza Project. 

 

Strategy to Deal with Berkeley’s Poacher Problem 

Councilmember Darryl Moore will ask City Manager Phil Kamlarz to develop a strategy to significantly reduce the poaching of recyclables and seek the input of the Zero Waste Commission before reporting back to Council. 

The City Manager is expected to return with recommendations before the June 1 council meeting to help the council implement a strategy to reduce lost recycling revenues before voting on a budget that may impose a recycling fee. 

The city is currently facing a $4 million deficit in its refuse fund. 

In the past, Berkeley residents have complained that poachers often steal recyclables from their garbage bins thus leading to a shortage of materials that can be recycled. 

 

 

Allowing Veterans to Use Veterans Building 

The City Council will vote on whether to adopt a resolution authorizing the City Manager to carry out a license agreement with the Disabled American Veterans Chapter and American Legion Post for veterans’ meetings, gatherings and office space at 1931 Center Street. 

In the past, the Disabled American Veterans organization has used parts of the Veteran’s Building for group activities and storage space. 

The building has relics and mementos in the building that belong to various veterans’ organizations, 

After the American Legion Post approached the city about a meeting space in the building, the city decided that the existing DAV office could be shared with other veteran groups. 

 


Reader Tip: Bomb Detonated on MLK in Berkeley?

By Paul Hernandez
Saturday April 17, 2010 - 02:39:00 PM

The bomb squad closed off MLK for a couple of blocks around Mr. Mopps this afternoon. Around 1:00pm in front of Mr. Mopps toy store the Berkeley Police bomb squad investigated a mysterious, unattended package.  

In this photo: the bomb robot has just been unloaded from its truck. What looks like a control unit sits on the opposite side of the street.  

UPDATE: The mysterious package, which Berkeley Police later said was a gray briefcase which had been left on a mailbox, was blown up at about 2:15. They said afterwards that it was not a bomb after all. 

 


150 Years Ago Berkeley Campus Was Dedicated to Learning

By Steven Finacom
Thursday April 15, 2010 - 11:40:00 PM
Founders’ Rock as it appears today at Hearst Avenue and Gayley Road.
Steven Finacom
Founders’ Rock as it appears today at Hearst Avenue and Gayley Road.
The “Tennessee marble” plaque, installed 114 years ago, is currently smudged with Stanford red graffiti and weathered with age.
Steven Finacom
The “Tennessee marble” plaque, installed 114 years ago, is currently smudged with Stanford red graffiti and weathered with age.
Founders’ Rock, within a few years of the plaque dedication, from the 1901 Revised Edition of Illustrated History of the University of California, William Carey Jones.
Founders’ Rock, within a few years of the plaque dedication, from the 1901 Revised Edition of Illustrated History of the University of California, William Carey Jones.
The April 22,1960 Centennial ceremony at Founders’ Rock.  Left to right, Regent Donald McLaughlin, Governor Pat Brown, University President Clark Kerr.  (Bancroft Library, UARC PIC 1900.15.  Used with permission.)
Contributed Photo
The April 22,1960 Centennial ceremony at Founders’ Rock. Left to right, Regent Donald McLaughlin, Governor Pat Brown, University President Clark Kerr. (Bancroft Library, UARC PIC 1900.15. Used with permission.)

April 16, 2010 is a poignant and significant, although now nearly forgotten, anniversary date in the history of higher education in California. Exactly 150 years earlier the campus site of what would become California’s most important educational institution—the University of California, Berkeley—was dedicated. 

Trustees of the University of California’s private predecessor institution, the College of California, gathered on the undeveloped—and unnamed—future Berkeley campus site April 16, 1860 to “consecrate” it for educational purposes.  

“There is not another such college site in America, if indeed anywhere in the world” The Pacific newspaper editorialized after the event. “It is the spot above all others we have yet seen or heard of where a man may look into the face of the nineteenth century and realize the glories that are coming on.” 

The place where the event occurred, a natural volcanic rock outcropping later named Founders’ Rock, still stands obscurely on a corner of the UC Berkeley campus shorn of its expansive Bay views, but retaining physical character and historic significance.  

I believe the 1860 event makes the Berkeley campus the oldest site continuously dedicated to public higher education in California, and one of the oldest university campuses in the West.  

(The private institution that preceded Oregon State was established in Corvallis in 1858, preceding Berkeley by about two years. In California, only the campus of the private University of Santa Clara appears to have been in continuous use as a college site longer than the Berkeley campus. Other colleges are older, but have moved locations.) 

The University of California was preceded by the private College of California, an institution originally established in Oakland.  

Although perpetually facing financial stress, the College searched with determination for a larger and more rural site, and in the mid-1850s starting buying land in the future Berkeley. On March 1, 1858, the Board of Trustees resolved to make the site they’d acquired the permanent location of the College.  

More than two years later the Trustees acted to officially mark that decision. The Reverend Samuel Willey, a prime mover in the College, later recalled the occasion in talks and in his written History of the College of California.  

“Although the understanding had come to be general that the Berkeley site had been fixed upon as the final location of the College, no action had been taken setting it apart for that purpose in a public and formal way. For the purpose of having this action a meeting of the Board of Trustees was called, to be held on the Berkeley grounds, April 16, 1860”, a Monday. 

The Trustees came over from San Francisco on the ferry to Oakland and stopped by a livery stable to rent carriages. The stable was owned by William Hillegass and Francis Kittredge Shattuck, then Oakland entrepreneurs and not yet Berkeley street names. 

It was a “clear and beautiful spring day”, Willey recalled, as the Trustees drove out the Telegraph Road into the hinterlands and made their way “past Captain Simmons’, there crossing Strawberry Creek, where we hitched our teams under the trees. The day was fine. The landscape was beautiful, and all were delighted with the location for the College home.” 

The Trustees walked about, looking at the scenery and talking over the site. The open ground allowed them to clearly see the “two ravines” formed by the north and south branches of Strawberry Creek, which framed most of the property they had purchased. (Today, the south branch wanders through the campus, largely above ground, while part of the north branch, also called Blackberry Creek, is buried in a culvert north of the Hearst Avenue edge of the campus and only resurfaces once it passes under the street). 

Between the watercourses the Trustees reached what Willey described as “a great rock, or outcropping ledge,” which later bore the name Founders’ Rock because of what was about to take place. 

Today, the slightly cone shaped outcropping doesn’t seem much of a “great rock”, hemmed in by busy Gayley Road and Hearst Avenue on two sides, over towered by eucalyptus and oak on the others, and in the shadow of Cory Hall, the massive electrical engineering building.  

One can imagine it in 1860, however, as a fairly distinctive and visible feature on the tumbling hillside, with panoramic views out over the future campus grounds and San Francisco Bay to the west. 

Willey specifically named nine Trustees who were present at that occasion. They were: the Rev. D.W.C. Anderson, President; Willey himself, Secretary; Rev. D.B. Cheney; Rev. E.S. Lacy; Rev. Henry Durant; Frederick Billings; E.B. Goddard; Edward McLean; Ira Rankin. 

Four divines amongst nine Trustees were not unusual, considering that the College of California had a religious focus. It had been founded and nurtured by leaders of the Congregational Church. This was quite typical of the era; most private colleges had a strong religious and sectarian focus in their origins and orientation. Many of their students enrolled with the intention of later going into ministerial or missionary work. 

The College of California had been formed in part because the Congregationalists were worried about leaving the field of higher education in California to the domination of other Christian denominations, particularly Methodists (who had founded, in 1851, what would become the University of the Pacific), and Roman Catholics (who had already established the future University of Santa Clara).  

(The Congregationalist role in the origins of the University did not go unremembered. In 1940, for instance, the Berkeley Daily Gazette described Plymouth Rock and Founders’ Rock as “the two greatest cornerstones of Congregationalism”, and told visitors to a church council in Berkeley that “you hundreds of Congregationalists gathered here today…may rightfully look upon the University—the largest educational institution in the world—as the creation of your church.”) 

“Three other persons who were not trustees” were also present at the rock on April 16, 1860, according to historian William Warren Ferrier, researching in the 1930s. Ferrier was able to identify only one of them, editor James H. Warren of “The Pacific”, who wrote the quotation in the beginning of this article.  

Warren further described the occasion as follows. “Before them was the Golden Gate in its broad-opening-out into the great Pacific. Ships were coming in and going out. Asia seemed near—the islands of the sea looking this way. May nations a few years hence, as their fleets with the wealth of commerce seek these golden shores, will see the University before they see the metropolis, and their first thought of our greatness and strength will be impressed upon them by the intelligence and mind shaking mind within the walls of the College more than by the frowning batteries of Alcatraz.” (Alcatraz, at that time, was a fortification, not a prison.) 

There beside the Berkeley rock the Trustees read a resolution “setting apart the grounds as the location of the College of California.” All made “brief remarks”, Willey said, and then all voted in favor of the resolution. Then came the symbolic heart of the ceremony.  

“Thereupon the President, standing upon the rock, surrounded by the members of the Board, with heads uncovered, offered prayer to God for his blessing on what we had done, imploring his favor upon the College which we proposed to build there, asking that it might be accepted of him, and ever remain a seat of Christian learning, a blessing to the youth of this State, and a center of usefulness in all this part of the world.” 

Although some today might balk at the “seat of Christian learning” reference—understandable because it was a Congregationalist college, not a state university then being established—it is hard not to read the rest of that statement, from the perspective of 150 years, with an appreciation of the earnest sensibilities and simple purpose of the Founders.  

“A blessing to the youth of this State...” “A center of usefulness in all this part of the world.” Has not the University of California—and the Berkeley campus in particular—fulfilled both those promises? 

And aren’t those sincere and appropriate purposes for the present day institution to remember and honor? California has not been, either in the immediate years following the Gold Rush, or today, entirely about the creation of personal wealth as an end in itself. There have always been some drawn to goals and missions beyond monetary enrichment. 

Note also, however, that the Trustees were appropriately humble in their expectations. They did not proclaim the future greatest university in the world. Instead, they asked for a divine benediction on the campus as a future “center of usefulness.” 

Once the simple ceremony was finished, Willey wrote, the group returned to their carriages, traveled back to Oakland, and caught the last ferry for San Francisco. 

The event was symbolic. Nothing major immediately ensued on the campus grounds. No ground was broken or major structures erected. The academic buildings of the College remained in what is now Downtown Oakland, pending the raising of funds to move the whole establishment to Berkeley.  

By the mid-1860s the College was actively planting trees upon the site. The College engaged Frederick Law Olmsted to draw up a plan for the site, as well a residential district to adjoin it on the south. Land in those districts—termed the Berkeley Property Tract, as well as the adjacent College Homestead Tract—was platted and sold in the 1860s in a combined effort to raise funds for the College and lure residents who would form a town adjacent to the campus.  

In late 1865 Willey moved his own family to a house he had built in the fields near the future intersection of Dwight and College, determined to lead by example in making what is now east Berkeley a residential township. His was the first “town house” in Berkeley; in typical Berkeley fashion it was torn down, over protest, in the 1930s and replaced with an apartment building. 

In 1866-67 Willey devoted himself to the work of developing a water system on the college grounds, the only major physical improvement the College would actually construct at the Berkeley site aside from tree planting. The waterworks was completed and celebrated with a “rural picnic”, and gushing fountains of water were displayed, on August 24, 1867. 

All these are events described in greater detail in other accounts. Let’s return to Founders’ Rock. 

The rock outcropping came into the College picture again when a Committee of the Board of Trustees walked through the site on May 24, 1866. Once again, Founders’ Rock was found to be a good location to survey the scene and while there, Trustee Frederick Billings suggested the name “Berkeley” for the campus property. The Trustees went to lunch at Willey’s nearby house, then later that day had an official board meeting in San Francisco (the Transamerica pyramid now stands where they gathered) and officially adopted “Berkeley”. Eventually the name came to apply to town and well as campus. 

In 1868 the College of California Trustees determined to go out of business after delivering to the State of California its assets, including the Berkeley campus site, to form part of the new University of California. Thus Berkeley became UC, and the actions of the College Trustees were merged into the pre-history of the state institution.  

After operating in Oakland at the old College campus site for a few years, the University moved to Berkeley in 1873 and has been here ever since. 

The rock outcropping that figured in both the dedication of the campus site and the naming of Berkeley was remembered by the new, young, institution.  

The years rolled by with enrollment growing and tradition accumulated at the Berkeley campus. In 1896, the graduating seniors began what would be called the Senior Pilgrimage, a walk through the campus following a ritualized route to various spots of meaning to that class year. A speaker—a class leader, or favored faculty member or administrator—would address the students at each point. 

The Class of 1896 also left the first and only visible memorial at Founders’ Rock. May 9, 1896, the students held an “elaborate” celebration of their Class Day reported the San Francisco Call the next day. (Numerous accounts erroneously refer to this as Charter Day, which it was not; Charter Day traditionally fell on March 23. Class Day was an occasion for the seniors to celebrate, prior to Commencement.) 

“The exercises in commemoration of the day began at 10:30 o’clock this morning at “Founders’ Rock.’ A slab of Tennessee marble has been placed in the rock by the class of ’96, and on it, engraved in gold letters, are the words, ‘Founders’ Rock, April 16, 1860. Inscribed May 9, 1896.’ The rock is one on which the trustees of the old College of California met while they dedicated the grounds chosen as a site for the State University (sic). 

“The senior class, led by the university band and followed by many visitors, gathered around the rock and listened to addresses by Galen M. Fisher ’96, Dr. E. S. Willey of San Francisco and President Kellogg. After the exercises at Founders’ Rock the class pilgrimage took place under the leadership of the U.C.Band.”  

The students visited the old Chemistry building, Bacon Library, North Hall, and then adjourned to ‘Ben Weed’s Amphitheater’ for further ceremonies. 

Of all those sites, only Founders’ Rock remains. North Hall was demolished after Doe Library was constructed next door. Bacon Library and the Chemistry Building fell to the wreckers’ ball in the 1960s. The Greek Theater soon supplanted the natural dell that formed Ben Weed’s Amphitheater. 

Willey was a favored speaker at the 1896 event. He told those assembled, “Thirty-six years ago, on the sixteenth day of April last, the trustees of the College of California, with a few other gentlemen friends of that young institution, met on and around this rock to formally set apart these grounds and dedicate them to be the permanent site of the college. Today we are met around the same rock at the call of the senior class of a great University that has grown up on these grounds within these 36 years to commemorate the setting apart of this superb location for a seat of learning, and to designate and mark this rock as a moment of the purpose and intent of that transaction.” 

Five years later Willey wrote to President Wheeler in to explain the details of the campus site selection, and he was, remarkably, again on hand to participate in 1910, 50 years after the original event, the sole survivor of those Trustees present in 1860. 

At that time the developed campus was starting to grow closer to Founders’ Rock. The magnificent Hearst Memorial Mining Building rose down the slope to the southwest, and a short walk to the southeast the Greek Theatre nestled into the hillside. 

On that occasion, April 16, 1910, University dignitaries and students gathered at Founders’ Rock and heard speeches by Willey, the Rev. John K. McLean, president of the Pacific Theological Seminary, Warring Wilkinson (retired principal of the California School for the Deaf and Blind), and Benjamin Ide Wheeler, then in triumphant mid career at UC President. 

Willey remarked on the early plans of the College. The Oakland campus, he said “was never thought to be a suitable place for its permanent location. More land was wanted, situated on higher ground, with plenty of running water. Captain Orrin Simmons with his family then lived near here, on the south side of Strawberry Creek…they were friends of Mr. Durant who was then teaching the preparatory school in Oakland, and from him they naturally became acquainted with the opinion of the Trustees of the College respecting the kind of location suitable to be chosen as the final home of the Institution. It occurred to them from their experience in living here that this might be the very place they were looking for, and Mr. Durant himself was quite inclined to that opinion. He called the attention of other Trustees to the locality, and some of us came and visited it repeatedly and studied it carefully.” 

In 1860, Willey said, “It was necessary to take possession of this property, enclose it, and begin improvements upon it. Before doing this it was deemed fitting by the Trustees that the site should be formally and publicly set apart, and in a suitable way consecrated to the purpose of education forever.” 

“It was a clear beautiful spring day and our ride was delightful. Then we wandered about, viewing the grounds…On the whole, we were all entirely satisfied with the choice of these grounds as the permanent site of the College.” 

“This rock appeared to be the only thing that met the requirement of the occasion, and so we made our way hither. From this elevated spot the grounds were all before us, covered with a crop of growing grain, and bordered with such noble trees as were nowhere else to be seen. The whole plain, indeed, was a grain field from the Bay back to the hills, and not a house that could properly be called a dwelling was in sight.” 

President Wheeler, who also spoke, was in full oratorical form, delivering a short and powerful declamation.

“The men who in April 1860 assembled at this rock were idealists. They shaped their deeds in accordance with vision. They shook themselves free from bondage to the present and beheld the image of a coming day. They laid off the garment of a real environment and robed themselves in the slender fabric of a dream. They left trodden ways of life as it was, and plunged into the open fields of imagination as to what shall be.  

 

The past is immanent in the present, and it is the historian’s task to discern it. The future too is immanent in the present, and it is the spiritually cleansed eye of the seer that alone can trace its outlines. ‘By faith Moses when he was come to years refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter.’ 

 

Those men who on the April day of 1860 left behind them the secure and ordered life of the Oakland streets and struck out five miles into the wilderness of oaks and oats to the north were the leaders of a new people and a new cause which through a wilderness were to find a promised land.”

Over the years both town and campus grew up around Founders’ Rock. Donner Laboratory was added to the south of the Founders’ Rock knoll, and later grew closer with an addition. In 1950 Cory Hall was built west of the building.  

The completion of Cory Hall meant that 90 years after the dedication event and 84 years after Frederick Billings described his “Berkeley” inspiration at the Rock while gazing out over San Francisco Bay at the Golden Gate, the view to the west disappeared from sight behind building walls.  

Not long before, Gayley Road had been realigned across the top of campus and connected to Piedmont Avenue, ensuring that the Rock would stand adjacent to a major cross-town driving route. The University was also developing the Radiation Laboratory on the newly bought Wilson Tract above the campus proper, and Hearst Avenue—the other street bordering Founders’ Rock—was destined to become the major access drive to that counter campus. 

Vegetation also changed. Introduced trees—eucalyptus—were present around the Rock by the end of the 19th century and oaks have grown up since, further enclosing an expansive location. 

In 1926 the University of California was sufficiently sensible of the Founders’ Rock heritage that a 75-ton boulder was hauled to the new Westwood campus—UCLA—and dedicated there as an ersatz Southern “Founders’ Rock” on October 25, 1926. California’s governor and UC President spoke at that occasion. Period photographs show the odd artifact tilted up on end like a giant stone egg on a weedy slope; today, it lies decorously on its side in a UCLA campus lawn. 

(UCLA also borrowed and somewhat altered the school colors, mascot, and songs from the mother campus at Berkeley, much to the annoyance of Cal fans when the two rivals clash each year in football and basketball.) 

Back in Berkeley, it’s not quite clear whether there was a ceremony at the three-quarters-of-a-century mark a decade later.  

The April 16, 1936 (not 1935) Daily Californian contains a mention of the anniversary of the 1860 event in somewhat cryptic form. “With no ‘blessed event’ announcement other than the ancient Founders’ Rock plaque saying “College of California, April 16, 1860”, the University campus is today celebrating its seventy-fifth (sic) birthday.” 

But in 1960, for the Centennial of the 1860 dedication event, the University put together a small ceremony. 

UC President Clark Kerr, ever sensible of key historical events, attended on April 22, 1960 and, “while a brisk breeze off the Bay whipped at his notes”, read another account by Willey, worded slightly differently than that in his College of California history.  

“Then we looked about for some permanent landmark around which we could gather for some simple ceremonies of dedication. This rock appeared to be the only thing that met the requirement of the occasion, as so we made our way hither.” 

“Then Kerr spoke of expectations for the future as great as the visions of those eight (sic) trustees of the past”, the Daily Californian reported. “A century from now, he said, universities will be clearly the most influential institutions in all of society. ‘To maintain and to improve this University in this State is as much a sacred trust for the Regents of today as was the creation of the College of California for its trustees a century ago.’” 

Kerr was joined at the Rock by two distinguished Cal figures, Governor Pat Brown and Regent (and former Dean of Engineering) Donald McLaughlin. McLaughlin, a Class of 1914 alumnus, would have just missed in the 1910 ceremonial, presumably arriving in the fall of that year as a freshman. 

“Regents’ Chairman McLaughlin, a genial white-haired gentleman, spoke in a vein similar to Kerr’s. The University, he said, has gone beyond the greatest visions of the time of its founding. Can we, with the boldest visions, say what will happen in the equally distant future, he asked.” 

“Following McLaughlin, Governor Brown posed with clasped hands and one food on the rock and briefly gave his impressions of what the rock means.” 

After their photo opportunity, a Daily Californian reporter followed Warren and McLaughlin as they “strolled down Gayley Road to take a look at another tradition—the Greek Week Push-cart Relays. ‘I feel a speech coming on when I see all of these fellows,’ Brown quipped, strolling through the crowd. He spoke to one student, then decided he had better leave for the Regents’ meeting. ‘Well, the meeting can’t start ‘til we get there,” observed McLaughlin.” 

Interesting, a black and white photograph of the 1960 occasion appears to show very little in the way of ferny vegetation on the north face of the Rock around the plaque. Perhaps it was a dry year, perhaps the growth has accelerated in recent years, or maybe the Rock was manicured for the occasion. 

1960 appears to have been the last officially organized commemoration of the 1860 event. (This writer was on hand for an informal gathering for the 125th anniversary in 1986.) 

Founders’ Rock was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. February 25, 1991, it was designated a City of Berkeley Landmark. 

This year, there is no University ceremony scheduled to commemorate the anniversary of the campus dedication ceremony. Campus attention and publicity seems devoted to the annual Cal Day open house, taking place on Saturday the 17th.  

A search of the campus website turns up numerous and sometimes muddled mentions of Founders’ Rock, in both historical and practical contexts. Hit #4, for instance, identifies the Rock as the emergency gathering spot if Cory Hall must be evacuated.  

There are several references to the geology of the rock outcropping, and a number of mentions on Cal tradition related webpages. Some get the number of trustees present in 1860 wrong; others call the story of the dedication merely “campus lore”, although it’s precisely documented in reliable historical accounts.  

Several accounts, including the University’s official 1967 Centennial Record history, have the date of the 1896 plaque dedication wrong; it was not Charter Day of that year, but Class Day, a quite different occasion.  

Another on-line account says the Rock is where “a group of men chose the site for the College of California” although the choice had been made two years before the 1860 event and the Rock became simply the platform for recognition. 

And the University’s “Builders of Berkeley” webpage conflates and combines the 1860 event and the 1866 gathering where the name Berkeley was suggested, as well as providing an uncaptioned photograph of a group of men standing on a Berkeley hillside, not at Founders’ Rock. The same unrelated photograph has been appended, without caption, to a Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association website page about Founders’ Rock. 

In the physical, rather than virtual, world of Founders’ Rock, the “Tennessee marble” plaque remains in place, although discolored by age. There is no trace of the gilding reported at the dedication ceremony in 1896, 114 years ago. The edge of the plaque and the front of the Rock bear vivid smudges of red paint, presumably some Stanford-inspired vandalism since a block “S” in red is also apparent on the rear of the edifice. 

Spring rains this year have brought out a lush growth of moss and ferns on the north face of the Rock. For passersby—slogging uphill towards the Foothill Residence Halls, or hurrying down to classes—there is no way to determine the significance of the Rock, unless one climbs up closer to read the simple plaque. 

When the Trustees stood there in 1860, of course, there was no development nearby. Later, along upper Hearst Avenue, private homes, student rooming houses and fraternities, and then apartment buildings rose, followed by demolitions and construction of University facilities including a parking garage directly across from the Rock, and the Foothill Housing Complex to the northeast and east. 

Founders’ Rock is, of course, physically much older than 150 years. It’s part of the complex geology of the Berkeley Hills and, like the educational institution, something of a newcomer to these parts, most likely dragged as a fragment from far to the south up to Berkeley by the movement of the Hayward Fault. That’s a separate story, however. 

 

(The author knows of no plans for any official University of California event commemorating of the 150th anniversary. However, he will be going up to Founders’ Rock at the lunch hour, 12:00 noon, on Friday to remember the occasion. Readers are welcome to go to the Rock as well. There will be no ceremony, just a presence to remember the event.) 

 

A QUICK LOOK AT FOUNDERS’ ROCK 

 

A volcanic outcropping on the UC Berkeley campus, just southwest of the intersection of Hearst Avenue and Gayley Road. 

Over the past 150 years the record of dates and events associated with Founders’ Rock has become muddled. Most recently, numerous inaccurate on-line mentions have added to the confusion. Here’s a list of dates and events that I believe accurately reflects the history of Founders’ Rock. 

 

April 16, 1860. Twelve men—including nine Trustees of the private College of California—use the Rock as a site to dedicate the undeveloped campus to learning. At the time the University of California did not exist, the College of California was in Oakland, and the name “Berkeley” had not been thought of for the future campus site. 

 

May 24, 1866. Another gathering of College Trustees at the Rock leads to the suggestion, by Frederick Billings, of “Berkeley” as a name of the campus. The name is formally adopted at a meeting of the Trustees in San Francisco later that day. College operations remain in Oakland. 

 

March 23, 1868. The Governor of California signs the University of California charter into law. The College of California will then give its assets, including the Berkeley site, to the new State institution. The University moves its operations to the Berkeley site in 1873. 

 

May 9, 1896. As part of the first Senior Class Pilgrimage held on the Berkeley campus, graduating seniors sponsor a gathering at the rock and dedicate a marble plaque there. The common usage of the name “Founders’ Rock appears to date from this time. The Reverend Samuel Willey who was a participant in 1860 speaks to the Class on this occasion. 

 

April 16, 1910. A ceremony is held at the Rock on the 50th anniversary of the original gathering. Reverend Willey—the only survivor of the Trustees who met in 1860 at the Rock—once again attends and participants. 

 

October 25, 1926. With the Founders’ Rock tradition well established in UC Berkeley campus history and lore, leaders at UCLA—the second “general campus” of the UC system—bring a large boulder to the new Westwood campus and dedicate it as their founders’ rock. 

 

April 22, 1960. UC President Clark Kerr, Governor Pat Brown, and others gather at the original Founders’ Rock to mark the Centennial of the dedication. 

 

April 16, 2010. 150th anniversary of the campus dedication at the Rock. 


New: The Berkeley Downtown Plan Gets Shorter

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday April 15, 2010 - 07:58:00 PM

The Berkeley Planning Commission was presented an abbreviated version of the Downtown Area Plan Wednesday.  

The plan incorporates changes suggested by Mayor Tom Bates to the Berkeley City Council’s original downtown plan in February and will be placed on the November ballot following council approval.  

The Berkeley City Council on Feb. 23 voted unanimously to rescind its original downtown plan which was referended last year.  

It also voted 8-1—with councilmember Jesse Arreguin the only dissenting vote—to ask City Manager Phil Kamlarz to return with a set of recommendations they could vote on.  

State law requires the Planning Commission to review the plan and make a recommendation on area plans and general plan amendments.  

A public hearing has been scheduled for an April 28 Planning Commission meeting, following which council will have to take action by the end of July.  

According to the city’s Planning Director Dan Marks, the new abbreviated plan has been shrunk from the rescinded plan’s 150 pages to 20 in order to include only the key pieces on the ballot.  

Marks’ report to the Planning Commission says that the “council requested that the Downtown Area Plan” document be significantly reduced in size and focus on goals, policy and key implementation measures” to “allow voters to reasonably judge the plan.”  

Marks said that although he wasn’t present when the council discussed this, it was his “understanding that the council felt 150 pages was an excess.”  

The shorter plan consists mainly of goals and policies and leaves out the bulk of the implementation measures which were present in the original downtown plan.  

According to Marks, “it includes only those implementing provisions that the council specifically indicated it wished to see clearly articulated in the new downtown plan.”  

The new plan includes stronger requirements for all new construction—such as affordable housing and open space, a voluntary green pathway that would give developers incentives in exchange of public benefits and limits to highrises and buffer zones surrounding the downtown.  

Marks said that the implementation measures would not be entirely forgotten because “no plan is complete without implementation.”  

“Once the voters approve the plan, the implementation measures can always be brought back,” he said.  

But not everybody agreed with this explanation. Councilmember Kriss Worthington, who along with Arreguin worked on the referendum campaign, said that if a plan is “just glittering generalities, it’s not really doing anything.”  

“Most of the controversy is about details—the devil is in the details,” he said. “Nobody on the City Council said anything about chopping the plan. It’s an insult to voters’ intelligence. Berkeley voters are very smart. They can read and talk with friends to discuss things—I don’t think you have to baby Berkeley voters.”  

Arreguin said that although the referendum campaign’s members had not yet arrived at a formal position about the abbreviated version, the plan still did not address some of their main concerns: heights, public benefits and protection of neighbors.  

“The plan needs a lot more work,” he said. “It’s trying to hide the fact that it allows for buildings up to 18 stories by saying that the heights are equal to current heights downtown.”  

Worthington said he was disappointed that the new plan chose to overlook hundreds of hours of work carried out by the Downtown Area Plan Advisory Committee and the Planning Commission.  

“We can just name it ‘I love the downtown’ and put it on the ballot,” he said. “This watered down version doesn’t accomplish much. People can just referend it again.”  

 


Updated: No Final Decision on UC Berkeley Israel Divestment Bill after Marathon Meeting

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday April 15, 2010 - 04:08:00 PM
Jews for Justice member Matthew Taylor shows ASUC President Will Smelko the two-page ad his group took out in the Daily Californian Tuesday in support of the divestment bill.
              The bill's opponents also took out a full page ad in the paper the same day.
Riya Bhattacharjee
Jews for Justice member Matthew Taylor shows ASUC President Will Smelko the two-page ad his group took out in the Daily Californian Tuesday in support of the divestment bill. The bill's opponents also took out a full page ad in the paper the same day.
UC Berkeley Professor of Rhetoric Judith Butler gives a speech in support of the divestment bill Wednesday around 11:30 p.m.
Riya Bhattacharjee
UC Berkeley Professor of Rhetoric Judith Butler gives a speech in support of the divestment bill Wednesday around 11:30 p.m.
UC Berkeley students listen to public comment on the ASUC divestment bill Wednesday. The meeting started at 10:30 p.m. And went on for nine hours.
Riya Bhattacharjee
UC Berkeley students listen to public comment on the ASUC divestment bill Wednesday. The meeting started at 10:30 p.m. And went on for nine hours.
Riya Bhattacharjee
Morgan Siegel, whose father is from Israel, sported a "Another Israeli for Human Rights" sticker at the senate meeting.
              Asked why she was supporting the divestment bill, Siegel said "because wrong is wrong and right is right. You can't escape one Holocaust and create another somewhere else."
Riya Bhattacharjee
Morgan Siegel, whose father is from Israel, sported a "Another Israeli for Human Rights" sticker at the senate meeting. Asked why she was supporting the divestment bill, Siegel said "because wrong is wrong and right is right. You can't escape one Holocaust and create another somewhere else."

After almost nine hours of often contentious debate and discussion Wednesday, the fate of the UC Berkeley student senate Israel divestment bill remains undecided as of Thursday morning.  

The student senate voted at about 7 a.m. to table the bill—which was vetoed by senate President Will Smelko last month—until next Wednesday.  

Regarded as anti-Semitic by some pro-Israel groups, the bill urges UC Berkeley to divest from two American companies—General Electric and United Technologies—which produce aircraft for the Israeli Army designed to bomb and kill civilians. 

Although the bill’s supporters—including Nobel Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu and UC Berkeley professor of rhetoric Judith Butler—told the student senate they would do the right thing by overriding the veto, its staunch opponents, like Consul General of Israel for the Pacific Northwest Akiva Tor and Oscar Schindler’s niece Reverend Rosemary Schindler, said it would only lead to a divided campus and hatred among student communities. 

“Israel seeks peace with the Palestinian people,” Tor said. “We seek to end the occupation. That’s our position as a government. Your resolution demonizes Israel. It weakens our ability us a nation to make the concessions necessary to achieve peace.” 

Tor went on to say that the senate’s resolution “seeks to undermine security for each and every Jew and non-Jew living in Israel.” 

“If we lack modern air force, as your resolution seeks to make us do, we cannot take the risks,” he said. “We are not Bosnian Serbs. We are not Syria and Hamas. We fight as a NATO army fights. We are not war criminals. So why have you singled us out? If you listen to Judith Butler, also listen to Lawrence Summers, who says singling out Israel is anti-Semitism.” 

The singling out of Israel was also one of the main reasons why Smelko decided to veto the bill. 

“After 12,000 e-mails and phone calls, the complexities have only got worse,” Smelko said. “For every e-mail in support there was one against.” 

Smelko said that he was against the bill because of the complexity of the issue, the analogy made to South African Apartheid and the effect on the campus community. 

“I see two sides clashing with no groups in the middle,” Smelko said. “If we leave this room with the bill passing, Jewish students will feel hurt, prospective students will not apply. I want the ASUC to be a visionary. If we reach deep in our guts we will feel there is something wrong with [the bill].” 

Berkeley Hillel Executive Director Rabbi Adam Naftalin-Kelman warned the senate that if it overturned the veto it would lead to a dramatic decrease in Jewish students attending UC Berkeley. 

Pro and anti-Israeli groups have been flooding the senators’ mailboxes ever since the bill was passed March 18, and Wednesday’s meeting was expected to have a record attendance. 

When more than 700 people showed up for the 7 p.m. meeting at Eshelman Hall, it was moved twice to accommodate the overflow crowd, finally ending up in Pauley Ballroom and starting closer to 11 p.m. 

The bill has created tension on the UC Berkeley campus, with some senators getting hate mail and complaining about getting shoved or having beer thrown at them by their peers. 

However, students were not afraid to speak their minds Wednesday. Some even wore them on their T-shirts. 

Morgan Siegel, whose father is from Israel, sported an “Another Israeli for Human Rights” sticker at the senate meeting.  

Asked why she was supporting the divestment bill, Siegel said “because wrong is wrong and right is right. You can’t escape one Holocaust and create another somewhere else.” 

Israelis, Jews, Palestinians, Muslims, Arabs, Blacks, Asians and Americans stood up before the senate one by one to testify, often drawing from personal stories and experiences. 

Tempers flared, voices rose in anger, some people cried, but perhaps the most poignant words came from those who had lost a family member in the Holocaust or in military warfare on the Gaza Strip. 

Hadi Epstein, daughter of parents who perished in the concentration camps in Auschwitz, said: “President Smelko does not speak for me. The question now is not if, but when. So do the right thing and override this veto.” 

UC Berkeley professor of rhetoric Judith Butler’s speech— “You Will Not Be Alone” —advance copies of which were being circulated on the Internet just hours before the meeting, came to life when she took to the microphone. 

“You don’t want a lesson in rhetoric from me today,” Butler said. “By voting for this bill you say you don’t support war crimes. Israel is not being singled out, it’s the occupation that’s being singled out.” 

Richard Falk, the United Nations special rapporteur on human rights in the occupied Palestinian territory, testified over the phone that “never has a pattern of criminality been more well-documented than the Israeli criminal acts during the occupation of Gaza. 

“There is clear indication that Israel is unwilling to investigate these allegations in a credible manner. According to Human Rights Watch, Israel is whitewashing these allegations and will not admit that they are in violation of International law. We the citizens have the opportunity to send the signal that in these circumstances the government does not speak for the citizenry ... Divestment is a perfectly suitable way of joining a global movement of boycott that is nonvoluntarily asking Israel to uphold international law,” he said. 

There were some tense moments inside the auditorium as well, especially when a young Israeli student at the university walked up to the podium, pointed at a girl in the audience and said that she had “looked at me and said your face reminds me of a Nazi.” 

“It’s already happening,” he said referring to the claims that the bill would only work toward alienating student groups. “I wonder how many more people will call me a Nazi because I am wearing this,” he said, pointing to his kippah. 

Students criticized their senators for approving a bill without campaigning about the issue on campus, asking, “When will my student government stand up for me?” 

UC Berkeley Law School student Lena Lay reminded everyone that fighting for human rights has never been popular. 

“Having two sides on campus is something to be proud of,” said a Palestinian student. “It means our university taught us to do the right thing—think.” 

As the senators started to debate at 5 a.m., senator Emily Carlton said that although one of the “most legitimate concerns was that the bill was divisive,” she had seen this divide on campus for years. 

“Instead of being divisive, this bill has brought us together in a room for five hours to talk about something we have never talked about,” she said.  

 

 


Berkeley High Jacket Wins Columbia Scholastic Award

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday April 15, 2010 - 02:58:00 PM
Berkeley High School Jacket reporters interview State Schools Chief Jack O'Connell at a meeting on campus last year for their newspaper's online video segment.
Riya Bhattacharjee/File Photo
Berkeley High School Jacket reporters interview State Schools Chief Jack O'Connell at a meeting on campus last year for their newspaper's online video segment.

Berkeley High School’s The Jacket Online is among 10 high school newspaper websites to win the 2010 Columbia Scholastic Press Association’s Gold Crown Award.  

Regarded as the CSPA’s highest honor in high school journalism 

(cspa.columbia.edu/docs/contests-and-critiques/crown-awards/recipients/2010-scholastic-crown.html), the Gold Crowns have been awarded to middle and high school newspapers, magazines and yearbooks since 1982.  

The Columbia Scholastic Press Association (CSPA) is affiliated with Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, which “administers many professional awards in order to uphold standards of excellence in the media,” including the prestigious Pulitzer Prize which was announced Monday. 

This year’s competition drew applications from more than 1,558 publications and entries were evaluated at Columbia University in February by a panel of judges. 

Berkeley High School Communication Arts and Science teacher Dharini Rasiah guided the revamping of the Jacket website after taking over as the paper’s faculty adviser at the start of the school year in 2009. 

The new website is easier to navigate, gets updated regularly and features video segments by the paper’s first multimedia editors Danielle Escobar and Alec Mutter, who are responsible for assigning and creating video content. 

“Congratulations goes to the entire editorial board, with special kudos to the web editors Evan Cohen and Connor Nielson,” Rasiah said Tuesday. “I really want to stress that we got the award because of our video and multimedia segments. My job is making sure they are online—it’s really the kids who do all the work, I just provide support. 

Nielson said that while rebuilding the site from scratch, the web editors wanted to design something "more progressive and user friendly." 

The current Jacket website has Flash elements and uses the Drupal content management system.  

It has the same categories as the print version—news, opinion, features, sports and entertainment—but what sets it apart from other school newspaper websites is the multimedia content. 

“That’s the big thing,” Rasiah said. “It’s really useful to go to that segment to see Berkeley High School in live action.” 

Students get class credit for working at the Jacket, spending the same number of hours as they would in any other course. 

“Of course the editors are constantly working,” Rasiah said laughing. “The staff provide the writing, but the editors do all the editing.” 

Jacket editor-in-chief Charlotte Wayne said she heard about the award from her friend, the editor-in-chief of the Piedmont High School newspaper, and decided to apply. 

"It was very exciting to win because it is the first year we did a real website and the first year we did multimedia," Wayne said. "I think we were mainly judged on content and the tools we used." 

Wayne, who will be going to Stanford University in the fall, and hopes to write for The Stanford Daily, is currently in the process of training a new editorial board for next year, 

Currently there are 132 students on the Jacket staff, the biggest in the paper’s history. 

“I raised the cap several times to allow many more students to join,” Rasiah said. “We have bigger ideas for the website—we want to have writers for website-only articles in the future. We are going to use the website more.” 

The Jacket is not new to awards. In 2000, the Jacket staff received the Journalist of the Year award from the Northern California Society of Professional Journalists, making it the first non-professional winner in that category. 

The paper created headlines in the fall of 1999, when with Rasiah’s help, student reporters Megan Greenwell and Iliana Montauk broke a story about how local businessman Lakireddy Bali Reddy was bringing young women from India and exploiting them as sex slaves. 

Rasiah, who joined Berkeley High as a video teacher in 1997, had just completed her graduate thesis at UC Berkeley on indentured servitude in South Asian communities, researching how people became subject to unfair labor practices when they were flown in from foreign countries to work by their employers. 

“In my own research I was investigating the story myself,” she said. “Around here it was well known that Lakireddy was bringing women from India to sell them into the sex trade. I had sources who gave me first hand information. And I gave the reporters the information.” 

Rasiah also ran a South Asian Girls Club at Berkeley High and persuaded some of its members who were connected to the Lakireddy family to give anonymous interviews to the reporters. 

“It was [former Berkeley High teacher] Rick Ayers who tipped the reporters off about the story,” Rasiah said. “A girl of high school age died across the street from Berkeley High School and Ayers asked the students to question why she wasn’t in school. That was the question that got Lakireddy into so much trouble.” 

Ayers then sent the student reporters to Rasiah, who helped them with the research.  

Although most of the mainstream media had already reported on the death of the young woman from carbon monoxide poisoning in a Berkeley apartment complex, it was Rasiah’s research which helped to connect the dots about how Reddy and his family were importing young women from India to work as sex slaves.  

Reddy was prosecuted for his crimes. 

The Jacket, which is produced twice a month and is about 16 pages long in print, continues to report on important local stories, including city government and politics. 

In 2008, the Jacket reported that it was struggling financially, which led to a flurry of donations, including a big chunk of money— $6,000—from proceeds raised during the performance of the play Yellowjackets at the Berkeley Rep. 

Rasiah said the paper was doing fine at the moment. 

 

 


Much to See and Do on UC Campus on CAL DAY, 2010

By Steven Finacom
Thursday April 15, 2010 - 04:11:00 PM
Each year a giant inflatable Oski, the Cal spirit mascot, makes an appearance on Memorial Glade pointing out the uglier buildings of the campus such as Evans Hall.
Steven Finacom
Each year a giant inflatable Oski, the Cal spirit mascot, makes an appearance on Memorial Glade pointing out the uglier buildings of the campus such as Evans Hall.
Visitors throng the campus on Cal Day in 2009.  Scores of student groups and programs fill booths in Dwinelle Plaza.
Steven Finacom
Visitors throng the campus on Cal Day in 2009. Scores of student groups and programs fill booths in Dwinelle Plaza.

This Saturday, April 17, 2010, is Cal Day at the University of California, Berkeley. The 150-year old campus grounds are filled with activities and opportunities for the general public, most all of them free.  

Even if you’re a campus regular, Cal Day is a chance to see places and activities not typically open to the public. If you’re new to Berkeley or have a kid interested in college, there are plenty of activities scheduled to help learn about the campus and going to college, and explore. 

The best way to get oriented in advance is to visit the Cal Day website.  

You can search the website for activities, or download a pdf version (11 megabytes) of the entire printed program.  

When you enter the campus by most major routes on Saturday you’ll find information tables distributing copies of the program. Sather Gate Bridge and Dwinelle Plaza will also be filled with information tables for various student groups and campus departments. 

Motorized cable cars cruise the campus and there’s a perimeter shuttle and a separate shuttle to uphill areas in Strawberry Canyon and beyond (board every fifteen minutes at the east entrance to Evans Hall, facing Mining Circle). 

From African American Studies to Undergraduate Research, academic departments and programs have special activities for the day. Many departments appear to have planned a set of separate activities with some oriented at kids, others at prospective students, and the remainder targeting intellectually inquisitive adults. 

Here’s a sampling of highlights and activity opportunities. 

Rides up the Campanile for free from 9:00 – 3:30.  

Cal Day is an opportunity to see inside places generally not open to the public. If you haven’t been inside the Gardner Stacks and Moffitt Library (closed to the public, unless you have a UC library card), Saturday is your chance to wander through. 

Campus museums, including the Berkeley Art Museum, are free. The Museum of Vertebrate Zoology is open for its one public day of the year. Next door, behind the scenes tours are available of the University and Jepson Herbaria. 

The Seismology Laboratory in McCone Hall will be open, as will the Architecture Shop in Wurster Hall. 

Numerous tours are offered: student co-ops, Greek houses, and residence halls. Did you know the residence halls have a Global-Environmental Theme House and Green Suite? There’s a tour of that, too. 

The Recreational Sports Facility on Bancroft Way will be open for visitors. 

At 2 pm, starting at the Dwinelle Plaza steps of Dwinelle Hall there’s a one hour sustainability walking tour of the campus, led by students showing off “hot spots on campus that demonstrate and foster environmental awareness and commitment”, from permeable paving to re-use centers for school supplies. 

From 11 to noon at Alumni House the Rally Committee offers a “crash course” in Cal traditions and songs, followed by a spirit rally at noon on Sproul Plaza. 

For a more strenuous spirit activity, meet in front of Bowles Hall at 2 pm for a hike to the Big “C” on Charter Hill behind campus—also a great place for views over the Bay Area. 

Between 10 and noon undertake a mock dig looking for artifacts at the Archaeological Research Facility; 11 to 1 at the same place help paint a rock art mural. 

The ASUC Art Studio just downhill from Sather Gate is having its Spring sale, always a good place to shop for fine, inexpensive, ceramics and jewelry; pottery wheel demonstrations are also offered. 

In 255 Kroeber Hall student print makers are also having a sale of their work and tours of their shop. 

At Campbell Hall astronomers will demonstrate live radio astronomy observations, using the University’s Allen Telescope Array; at the Space Sciences Laboratory just uphill from the Lawrence Hall of Science there are 30 minute tours of the campus mission control center for satellites, and several other activities. 

Several leading members of the faculty will lecture on diverse topics. Among them: 

• At 3 pm at Le Conte Hall Professor Gibor Basri describes the search for Earth-sized planets. 

• 9 am at 2040 Valley Life Sciences Professor George Bentley talks about “Big Discoveries from Basic Research in Biology.” 

• 10 am at 60 Evans Hall Professor Alexandre Chorin from the Department of Mathematics discusses “Why Predictions Fail”, touching on subjects from the weather to economics. 

• 10 am in 209 Dwinelle Hall Professor Uldis Kruze discusses the arrival of the first Japanese embassy to the United States one hundred and fifty years ago in San Francisco and “the beginning of a Japanese-American community in California.” 

In early afternoon, structural engineers will subject steel and concrete columns to stress in Davis Hall to see when they’ll buckle; if you guess closest to their failing point, you win a prize.  

10-2 in the Student Store (lower level of Student Union), several local authors who “represent the spirit of Berkeley” will sign books; pick up a schedule of authors at the store. 

Newer buildings on campus that even long-time Berkeley residents may not have seen include Sutardja Dai Hall (north of Evans, near Northgate), and the East Asian Library can be visited. 

Hertz Hall, the campus concert hall, is packed with free musical activities during the day. At 11 am the University Symphony performs. At 12:30 the University Chorus & Orchestra takes the same stage, performing excerpts from “Porgy and Bess”. At 2 the University’s Baroque Ensemble performs. Between 1:30 and 2 the University Chamber Chorus sings outside Hertz Hall, followed by the Gospel Chorus at 3:00 and the African Music Ensemble at 3:30. 

From 10:30 to 11 the Cal Band performs at Sather Gate. The Cal Taiko student drum corps starts a Lower Sproul Plaza performance at 10 am. 

The Edith Coliver Festival of Cultures takes place at International House with “dance, drama, music, food, arts, crafts, exhibits, and kid’s activities from around the globe.” 

There are plenty of kids events from building a box city in Wurster Hall to an animal puppet show at Life Sciences. Look for bear emblems for child-friendly activities. There’s “OskiLand” in Memorial Glade, and a Kid Zone at the Student Union. An Army ROTC climbing wall appears in Memorial Glade, north of Doe Library.  

There’s a free Vinyasa yoga workshop at noon in 251 Hearst Gymnasium and free 10 minute massages at the Recreational Sports Facility. The University Police show off their various mechanical devices—from the bomb squad truck to a police bicycle—in the parking lot just uphill from Sather Gate. 

The Cal Football team engages in Spring Practice in Memorial Stadium from 9-11. There’s a 1 pm Men’s Tennis match against Stanford, and the Cal Baseball team plays Washington, also at 1, next door at Evans Diamond. All three sports events are free. 

Eat in a dining commons. The commons at Foothill Housing is open for lunch and dinner; the Crossroads facility at Bowditch and Channing and the Clark Kerr dining commons are open for brunch and dinner.  

Around campus several cafes, from Muse in the Berkeley Art Museum to the newest—QualComm Cyber Café in the recently completed Sutardja Dai Hall—will also be serving. 

And at the end of the day from 4-6 PM the band Cold War Kids plays a concert in Memorial Glade. 

Have fun! 

 


Berkeley High Starts Search for New Principal

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday April 15, 2010 - 12:09:00 PM

It’s going to be a busy summer for Berkeley High School. The school’s principal, Jim Slemp, is set to retire in June, and Berkeley Unified School District kicked off a search for his replacement this week. 

In a report to District Superintendent Bill Huyett—which is expected to come before the Berkeley Board of Education Wednesday—Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Lisa van Thillo said advertisements for the position had already been posted. 

“Berkeley High School is our only comprehensive high school and as such is the flagship of the District,” van Thillo said in her report. “The selection of a new principal is important to the district and the community. Involving faculty, staff, parents, administrators and students in the hiring process will help us be selective as well as transparent. It will also help the new principal begin his or her position on a positive note.” 

Slemp’s announcement to retire caught many people by surprise, including his staff and students.  

Most of them were sorry to see him go, especially since he had brought about a remarkable change in a public school which until his arrival seven years ago had been characterized as a place where arson, fights and other disciplinary issues were rampant. Every new principal had a difficult time staying for a long time at the administrative helm. 

Slemp’s decision was welcomed by his critics, most of whom clashed with him over a proposal to reduce instructional time for the school’s science labs. 

The district’s Human Resources department is recommending that the district conduct two panels for the interview process: technical and community. 

The technical panel will comprise of administrative, certificated and classified staff and it will be responsible for assessing specific administrative skills.  

The community panel, on the other hand, will gauge skills related to community and interpersonal relations. 

Van Thillo noted in her report that “because Berkeley has so many active parents and community groups, it may be difficult to limit the number of people serving on the interview panel.” 

She outlined a public process in the report and requested the school board to give directions about the composition of the community panel, which will not exceed a total of 10 members.  

The superintendent or his designee will conduct staff and community input sessions to receive feedback about the qualities the public want to see in a new principal. 

The panel will refer to this while interviewing candidates. 

 

School and Community Meetings 

April 19 from 8 – 9:30 a.m. 

Certificated and Classified Academic Choice, Electives, and office staff. 

April 26 from 8 – 9:30 a.m. 

Certificated and Classified from BIHS and Small Schools and other staff. 

April 27 from 2:00 – 4:00 p.m. and again from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. 

Parent and Community meetings. 

This information will be posted, published and distributed over the next two weeks. 

 

Interview Panels 

The technical panel has been formed to address issues related to the supervision of instruction, learning modalities, curriculum development, budget management and employee evaluation.  

The recommendation from school district staff is to pick the ten panel members from the different unions in the district as well as the Director of Personnel Services Pasqual Scuderi. 

Assistant Superintendent Neil Smith will facilitate this panel. 

The community panel will address interpersonal relations, attitudes about students, leadership, decision making, and school safety.  

The ten-member panel will be representatives selected by various parent and community groups.  

According to the district’s recommendation, the members will be picked from Berkeley Organizing Congregations for Action, the BHS Parent Teacher and Student Association, the Berkeley High School Site Governance Council, the Berkeley Development Group and the Vision 2020 citywide equity task force among others.  

There will also be a school board member present on the panel and it will be moderated by Superintendent Huyett. 

If the district doesn’t find the initial panel to be diverse enough, then it may seek new members. 

Scores from each panel and a writing test will be combined and tallied to determine the candidates for the final interview, according to van Thillo, who will oversee the process. 

 

 


UC Student Arrested for Battery after Witnessing Police Car Collision

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday April 15, 2010 - 12:07:00 PM

A UC Berkeley student present at the scene of a collision between a Berkeley police car and a car full of teenagers early Sunday morning was arrested “for challenging an officer for a fight and refusing to leave the crime scene,” a Berkeley Police Department public information officer said Monday.  

The student, however, is alleging that he was beaten up by Berkeley Police Department officers without any reason.  

In an e-mail to the Planet Monday, UC Berkeley undergraduate Evan Cox alleged that he and his friend were physically abused by Berkeley city police officers simply because they walked up to the accident scene and asked questions.  

BPD spokesperson Lt. Andrew Greenwood said the student could file a complaint with the Berkeley Police Department’s Internal Affairs bureau which handles officer misconduct.  

On Sunday, April 11, the Berkeley Police Department reported that a Berkeley police officer driving a patrol car was injured in a collision with another car full of teenagers.  

The officer was going west on Haste Street at about 1:20 a.m. when a white sedan with five teenagers driving north allegedly ran a red light at Telegraph Avenue and T-boned the officer’s car, police said.  

The sedan crashed into a power pole following the collision and the patrol car hit the corner of a building located at the northwest corner of Telegraph and Haste.  

Both cars were totaled on impact, and the officer escaped with neck and back pain. The officer, a 20-year veteran whose name was not released, was taken to a local hospital and discharged after several hours.  

The teenagers in the sedan were not hurt and police don’t believe that the car’s 17-year-old driver had been under the influence of drugs or alcohol.  

The driver was not arrested and the California Highway Patrol is currently investigating the crash, Greenwood said.  

Cox said that he did not witness the actual accident because it took place directly behind him. He said that when he turned around, he saw that the traffic light on Telegraph for pedestrians was green and switched to “yellow a couple of seconds” later.  

“Many others claimed the officer had run the red light,” he said.  

Greenwood said that anyone who saw anything related to the accident should contact the California Highway Patrol, which is the investigating agency any time a police officer is involved in a car accident.  

Cox said that as he “moved in to make sure if anyone was hurt” with his friend Gabriella Calvo, BPD Sergeant Hong, who arrived at the scene “dressed in jeans and a windbreaker began pushing Gabriella away.”  

“Unsure of who this man was, I approached him and told him there was no need to put his hands on the woman, took her by the arm and began to walk away,” Cox said. “I was then grabbed on the arm and assaulted by Hong, who twisted it in a possible attempt to subdue me.”  

Cox said that he ran briefly, then turned around to say he was not running any more and “asked why they were doing this.”  

“At this point, an officer running straight at me struck me in the face causing my nose to bleed excessively,” he said. “I was tackled by two other officers and beaten in the legs and back with a baton and arrested after not laying a finger on anyone.”  

Cox said in his e-mail that “this aspect of the story has not been mentioned yet and I feel it is necessary for the community to know about these unacceptable and deplorable actions taken by BPD.”  

Greenwood said that BPD officers arrived at the scene of the collision to find a group of people standing close to the scene, yelling obscenities at the police officers who were trying to move people away from the scene.  

He said that when officers warned the crowd to step away, most of them complied except for two people.  

“One of them (Cox) took a fighting stance against the officers and raised his arms,” he said. “As the officers took ahold of the person, he took off running. Two officers ran after him and when they caught up to him he struggled.”  

Greenwood said that Cox refused to respond to orders to stop resisting arrest and ultimately was forced into handcuffs and brought to the Berkeley police station.  

Cox, a 21-year-old Oxnard resident, was cited for resisting arrest, battery on a police officer and interference with a police officer and released.  

“The case will go to the District Attorney who may or may not decide to charge him (Cox), Greenwood said.  

Cox said that he and his friend Gabriella had been some of the first people to be at the scene of the accident.  

“I was just making sure people were OK,” he said. “Sgt. Hong had barely started telling us to comply, at which point he started pushing Gabby away.”  

Cox said that later when the police got ahold of him, he had struggled a bit. “I was really angry and kept saying ‘why are you doing this?’” he said.  

Christina Slores, a third year UC Berkeley student who lives in an apartment located at the intersection where the crash took place, called the Planet to say that she had witnessed Berkeley police harassing Cox and Calvo. 

“I heard the crash and was at the scene within five minutes of it,” she said. “I saw a guy, whom I later came to know was Evan, standing across the street. I didn’t think he was hostile towards the officers. All of a sudden I saw an officer push him and he kind of instinctively pushed the officer forward. He probably realized he had done something wrong and started running. Three or four police officers started chasing him. The thing that got me angry was that the officers pushed him for no apparent reason. That could have been me, standing there, getting treated like that.” 

Cox said he was planning to press charges against the Berkeley police officers and would try to get his charges dropped.  

 

 

 

 


Sunday April 18, 2010 - 06:52:00 PM

The Rippowam River rushed by at the foot of our dank street, or, depending on the season, gurgled its way to Long Island Sound. I would sit on the stone embankment overlooking the water, ignoring the garter snakes in the crevices. The Ferguson Public Library children’s room was another 1932 shelter. Story hour was held in a separate room with a large picture window. I played stamping books, using a piece of black crayon stuck on the end of a protractor. It slipped off, jamming crayon into my palm, still imbedded there in a tattoo effect.  

Saturday mornings, a few years later, I headed for the story hour in a corner of the Freeport Memorial Library’s crowded basement workroom. I read all the twins books, written and illustrated by Lucy Fitch Perkins. Kit and Kat began as The Dutch Twins (1911), metamorphosed into Scottish, American, Belgian, Chinese, Colonial, Eskimo, Irish, Italian, and Japanese stories. Then came Helen Dore Boylston’s Sue Barton, Nurse series –- senior nurse, staff nurse, visiting nurse. These books can be borrowed in your behalf from nearby libraries participating in the free Link system.  

Seventy-three year old Gail Sheehy’s books on life and the life cycle continue the theme of passages through life's stages. She refers to "Second Adulthood." Her 2006 book and CD, Sex and the Seasoned Woman: Pursuing the passionate life reveal a hidden cultural phenomenon: a surge of vitality in women's sex and love lives after age 50.  

I first encountered Berkeley author Dorothy Bryant via her 1972 literary landmark. Ella Price’s Journal is a novel in diary form of a woman who returns to school after 15 years of marriage and begins to see her carefully-structured world in an unexpected and unwelcome light. I asked Bryant about her current reading. Kay Ryan’s The Best of It, New and Selected Poems. She prefers lesser known books recommended by friends, e.g. Judith Freeman’s Red Water. Old movies on DVD satisfy the ‘recreational urge.’ When she knows what she wants, she requests it online and it is brought to South Branch public library. For browsing, she stops regularly at Central.  

Best-selling Berkeley author Theodore Roszak was turned down by 20 major publishers, reports Avis Worthington. When he proposed his The Making of an Elder Culture; Reflections on the Future of America’s Most Audacious Generation, they informed him, “Old people don’t read books.” It was published by New Society Publishers in 2009.  

Ever noticed that the central character in many biographies and novels is influenced by a public library or library staff-member? -- Goodbye, Columbus --. The novel and motion picture of A tree grows in Brooklyn. -- Perhaps because children are central to Dear Miss Breed :True stories of the Japanese American incarceration during World War II … , it has generally been assigned to children’s collections, but it is a book for everyone. (See July 31, 2007 BDPlanet.) 

The 1956 motion picture, Storm Center (1956, 85m, Columbia Pictures), is about a small-town library administrator who refuses to withdraw a controversial book from the shelves. She is labeled a Communist by local politicians (City Council members…), loses her job, and becomes an outcast in the community. Bette Davis plays the doomed librarian. Banned Books Week in 2010 will be September 25−October 2. The World Catalog lists a Storm Center dvd distributed by Sony Pictures Television… 

The word “FREE” in many USA libraries’ names (Free Library of Philadelphia, Mono County Free Library, Enoch Pratt Free Library of Baltimore, etc.) is not mere happenstance. They were founded for the public, not as “subscription” libraries.  

The University of California, Berkeley used to grant library circulation privileges to senior citizens. No longer. Governor Palin’s dubious public library involvement is not surprising. Patrons’ taxes contribute largely to American public libraries’ budgets. A children’s room has long been part of a public library’s building and program, dating back to inception of the Carnegie libraries; YP (young people, teenagers) collections and activities were later introduced. Now, more than ever, elders are dependent on our free public libraries.  

The Alameda County Library has created “Older Adult Services,” a brochure highlighting current programs. Special library materials that may interest older adults, caregivers and others include large-print books, audio books and videos (standard, close-captioned and descriptive). Trained volunteers bring library materials to homebound persons. Generations On Line is an easy-to-use program designed to introduce seniors to the Internet and email with step-by-step directions, available at Alameda County Library locations.  

It’s a good thing. Berkeley Public Library’s senior discount on overdue charges. So are the large-print collections of fiction (science fiction, mysteries,) nonfiction (biography, The Weekly New York Times,) and reference books (dictionaries, thesauri). They can be accessed using subject heading LARGE TYPE BOOKS. The BPL Outreach person is Colleen Fawley (510) 981-6160. I know from experience that she has magical insights into what subjects and books, magazines and nonprint media will interest someone who is briefly or indefinitely unable to get to the Library. She selects, delivers, and subsequently picks them up. Specific titles and subjects can be requested, and she will bring them to you soonest. Alas, “budgetary constraints” will likely shorten her hours.  

I am weary of the media’s representation of shush libraries, and of praise heaped on library architecture that has little to do with accessing books and information, and of bureaucrats’ appointment of acceptable personalities to serve on library boards and to liaison with them.  

For your consideration:  

Berkeley Repertory Theatre package options include special discounts on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday matinees for persons who are “at least 65”.  

 

*** 

CALL TO CONFIRM:  

When: Tuesday, April 20, 2010. 11 A.M.-noon 

What: Director’s Roundtable Discussion 

Where: North Berkeley Senior Center, 1901 Hearst@ MLK 

Details: NBSC director Larry Taylor meets with seniors  

For more info: (510) 981-5190 

 

When: Wednesday, April 21, 2010. 1:30 P.M.  

What: Berkeley Commission on Aging meeting.  

Where: South Berkeley Senior Center, 2939 Ellis @ Ashby  

For more info: (510) 981-5170 

 

 

Helen Rippier Wheeler can be reached at pen136@dslextreme.com 

Please, no email attachments; use “Senior Power” for subject. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Thursday April 15, 2010 - 04:00:00 PM


Opinion

Editorials

The Day Our Sixties Started

By Becky O'Malley
Thursday April 15, 2010 - 09:33:00 AM

Somehow I seem to have become an honorary member of the Free Speech Movement, on their mailing list and invited to their reunions. In all honesty, I must admit that when the FSM was making waves in 1964 I was in Ann Arbor making babies. But before that, four years before that, I was present at the creation, so to speak. I was one of the five thousand Bay Area citizens who rose in protest against the House Un-American Activities Committee (commonly known as HUAC), the trailing edge of ugly ‘50s McCarthyism which finally got its deserved comeuppance during the merry month of May in the newly minted 1960s. 

Last week I got an email which was sent to the 738 people on the Free Speech Movement Archives list, a forwarded letter from one Irving Wesley Hall addressed to “Dear Fellow Traveler”. (For those of you too young to remember, fellow travelers included anyone in the ‘50s who didn’t believe that members of the Communist Party should be summarily drawn, quartered and thrown to the wolves.)  

He reminded us that the 50th anniversary of “Black Friday”, May 13, 1960, is coming right up. He and un-named co-conspirators have set up a website www.notinkansas.us in order to “rescue ‘Black Friday"’ from historical obscurity, to proclaim its relevance today, and--above all--to celebrate its heroes and heroines” and “insure that the alternative and corporate media remember Black Friday during the coming week of May 10-16.” 

Well, I remember it. It was the second day of hearings that HUAC was holding in the supervisors’ chambers at San Francisco City Hall with the stated purpose of investigating the international Communist conspiracy and the obvious real purpose of intimidating political activists, CPUSA members among them. People subpoenaed by the committee often lost their jobs, and frequently received death threats and other forms of harassment. 

I was finishing my junior year at Cal, and like a fair number of my fellow students had learned about planned picketing of the committee from stories in the Daily Cal. I didn’t know a whole lot about politics in those days, but I had taken a look at the U.S. constitution in my government course sophomore year, and had gotten the general idea that the First Amendment was supposed to guarantee freedom of speech and association.  

My roommate for my first two years of college, at a women’s school in the East, was the daughter and sister of distinguished academics who were fired and blacklisted for refusing to testify in front of HUAC—her brother eventually went to jail for six months for relying on the First Amendment when he declined to be interrogated about his beliefs. Dimly, I perceived an inconsistency that needed to be addressed. 

So along with many other students from Berkeley I took the F bus into San Francisco on Thursday, May 12, and joined the picket line. My next door neighbor on Ellsworth Street went too. She was a cute girl who had been raised on a chicken farm in Petaluma, in what I learned much later was a hotbed of radicalism, but she looked like she belonged in a sorority. She didn’t talk much about politics. 

Did we really wear high heels, hats and gloves? I think we did, but in any event we were advised to dress respectably, and we complied.  

The turnout was pretty good, but not huge. The room where the hearings were held was much too small to hold everyone who wanted to witness the proceedings, so most of us just walked the picket line outside. Those who were lucky enough to get inside City Hall chanted “let us in”, but they weren’t admitted. 

The next day I had a mid-term, so I stayed in Berkeley. Big mistake. That was the famous Black Friday, the day that San Francisco police turned fire hoses on chanting protesters, washing them down a long flight of marble stairs, and loaded them into paddy wagons as they sang “We Shall Not Be Moved”, a tune they’d just learned from the nascent civil rights movement. 

Thanks to the miracle of the internet, you can see the whole thing on-line today, courtesy of the Media Resources Center at the Moffit Library of UC Berkeley, in Operation Abolition , a propaganda film HUAC put together from news footage that was intended to damn the protesters forever. From today’s vantage point it’s difficult to believe that they thought it would help their cause.  

There are stirring shots of defiant longshoremen (Archie Brown in particular) invoking their constitutional rights, along shots of other figures who became familiar to me later, among them KPFA’s Bill Mandel and attorney Vin Hallinan, father of our own Conn and his rowdy band of activist brothers.  

Seeing the earnest horn-rimmed young men in suits and ties and the fresh-faced young things in crinoline petticoats(demurely pulling down their skirts to cover their knees)being dragged down the marble stairway is nothing if not stirring, even today. 

And that’s the effect the film had at the time. Operation Abolition was shown on campuses everywhere (I saw it first in the basement of the old Newman Hall on Northside) and everywhere it inspired students to new frontiers of political activism. An answering film, Operation Correction, was created, but it wasn’t really needed. 

Here’s how Irving Hall tells it on his website:

“Youngsters in their teens and twenties passionately committed to the Bill of Rights dealt the committee a mortal blow. HUAC's well-funded cinematic counterattack backfired. Newly politicized students from across the nation cheered the spunky kids in Operation Abolition and flocked to Berkeley, eager to change the world.  

Much to our surprise, our spontaneous, spirited and courageous defense of civil liberties changed America forever. Our political baptism changed our lives forever….”

 

After Black Friday, opposition to HUAC was big news. Since I’d missed the main event, I resolved to get a ringside seat on Saturday, May 14. My friend Frank had a car, so we took our sleeping bags and drove into San Francisco late Friday night so we could be first in line when City Hall opened in the morning.  

This was my first lesson in never trusting the newsies. We did indeed get in line outside the door at 5 a.m., and we were interviewed by the Hearst Examiner reporter assigned to talk to the first people in the queue. I wouldn’t tell him my name or anything else, but Frank said he was a UC maintenance man (true, though also a past and future student). The story next day said that “Frank ___ , a Cal student, spent the night with his girlfriend in a parked car on Polk Street”—scandalous stuff in those days, and he wasn’t even my boyfriend. Fortunately my actual boyfriend didn’t object. 

Hall continues:

“Because of May 13, I became an activist for life. It was a blessing to have been arrested, to experience youthful righteous solidarity, to plead a just cause against mass media lies, to challenge the FBI and Congress—and win… 

Had we not skipped classes that day, protested in the City Hall rotunda against our exclusion from the hearings, and had we not spontaneously responded with non-violence when the police attacked, my life would have taken a completely different course. What if I had stayed at home? Or not participated in the empowering national writing and speaking campaign that disgraced the most powerful man in America, J. Edgar Hoover, and placed under permanent house arrest the most tyrannical committee of Congress?”

 

I myself clearly remember watching student leader Michael Rossman (may he rest in peace), the recording secretary for the Bay Area Student Committee for the Abolition of the House Un-American Activities Committee, being interviewed on televison (Sixty Minutes?) in about 1964 as I sat on the couch in Ann Arbor nursing the latest baby. The interviewer's spin was that the student movement was over, that things were soon going to get back to normal. How wrong that turned out to be. 

I’d been working in the local civil rights movement and was starting to organize against what would become the war in Vietnam. I knew that there was still a lot of work to be done, and I was confident we could do it. We did eventually accomplish many exciting things in those years, though it took a little longer than we’d expected. 

When you’re young you believe that you can do what needs to be done, and so you just do it. Seeing all the earnest young people last night who insisted on being present at the ASUC meeting, trying to shed some light from their personal perspectives on the Israel-Palestine imbroglio, reminded me of our youthful selves. Regardless of which side they were on, their passion was impressive.  

The ASUC students who insisted on bringing these problems into the public discourse are brave, whether you agree with them or not. The people who have been trying to stifle the debate about what’s wrong in the Middle East in Berkeley and elsewhere look more and more like the House Un-American Activities Committee. They’ve won a few battles—they may even win this little skirmish at UC Berkeley--but eventually truth will prevail, and they will lose their war to prevent free and open public discussion of a crucial situation that increasingly affects the whole world. 

 

******************************** 

Irving Wesley Hall emailed yesterday:

Guess where we're celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the 1960 "riot" against HUAC? At the scene of the crime! Communist Dupes will occupy San Francisco City Hall rotunda once again between noon and 1:30 on May 13. Join riot ringleader Bob Meisenbach, his co-conspirators and the survivors of the cast of thousands mobilized in San Francisco in May 1960!
For more information, check his website: notinkansas.us

 

[Error corrected from original: Brown, not Moore]  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


The Editor's Back Fence

Updated: Worth a Look

Thursday April 15, 2010 - 08:15:00 PM

A few interesting new links: 

Merrilie Mitchell called me to ask if I'd read this . No, I hadn't, but now I have, and you should too, if you're interested in what's fueling (biofueling?)UC's expansion fever. Synthetic biology, in Berkeley. As the man in the story says, scary as hell. 

This one's very sad. 

And for a little light refreshment, try teabonics.  

Berkeley lawyer represents the Vatican in sex scandal cases. 


Cartoons

Odd Bodkins

By Dan O'Neill
Wednesday April 14, 2010 - 05:53:00 PM
Dan O'Neill

Click on the image in order to see it magnified. 


Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

Thursday April 15, 2010 - 12:16:00 PM

Police Call for Boycott 

Today I attempted to patronize a Berkeley merchant on my way home from work (at Herrick Hospital) at 5:45. (see enclosed receipt from Stone Mountain & Daughter fabrics at 2518 Shattuck Ave Berkeley) 

The pay station dmt meter dispenser was broken, and no one in the parking island was able to get it to accept any money. It has been broken for over a week I was told. 

Officer Blackmon, who was explaining herself to a small gathering of those ticketed who had parked in the island when I finished my purchase and left the store at 6pm, acknowledged that she knew the payment devise was broken and “had been for over a week.” But she added gleefully, “it is not my job to worry about the devise, I just write the tickets” per Blackmon; everyone could write the court in lieu of paying the ticket. 

With all due respect, this seems an odd public policy on the part of the city of Berkeley; to assign public resources to harass drivers attempting to make purchases in your town for "failing" to pay money your machinery cannot accept while legally parked. 

I have never seen a tax base thrive where a boycott of the local merchants was initiated by the police. Nor can it plausibly be a good use of city resources to pay city employees to act as vigilantees to shake down those who frequent local merchants, when the city will likewise pay the salary of the person who reads this, checks the meter, voids the ticket, etc. all of which will result in no revenue. 

So, I request that you set aside this ticket. The collection machine was/is broken, and your staff knew that when she falsely and knowingly cited me for a failure to pay into the broken device. Even in Berkeley I am pretty sure you are not allowed to claim someone has broken the law for not being able to get your broken pay meter machines to work. 

Thank you in advance for your consideration, and I will certainly promise to increase my future diligence at remembering to boycott your town’s merchants. I forget from time to time, but I will try to drive straight through to Oakland before making any impulse buys from now on. I will try not to make another purchase in Berkeley in 2010. 

 

Ellen Starbird 

 

*** 

Architecture Review: “Trader Joe’s” Reconsidered 

Thanks for the review of the new downtown tenement. 

How much you want to bet the low-income apartments will be the ones with no view of sky and poor sunlight conditions?! 

It is a travesty that our city planning department and/or the city council approves so many zoning variances, typically giving things away for easily-broken promises that the real estate developers almost always seem to renege on. Why do our public servants make choices that benefit a few investors instead of making choices that take into consideration the wellbeing all the whole city? Why do we citizens allow our public SERVANTS to repeatedly override the popular will and make concessions to people who use the city to make money and then skedaddle (or, using GAIA as an example, sell the property as soon as they can)? 

Tree Fitzpatrick 

 

*** 

Just Love the Hysteria! 

The main reason I love to read The Daily Planet is because it provides a forum for all-too-typical Berkeleyites to indulge in one or another form of hysteria. Kevin Moore's confused, paranoic diatribe about U.C.'s "plan to destroy Smyth-Fernwald" is a perfect example. I lived in the Smyth-Fernwald dorms when I was a Cal student in the 1960s, and it's a very pretty location, albeit a long haul uphill from campus. But since virtually no residents of Berkeley even know it exists and certainly will never visit it, it hardly consitutes "an irreplaceable treasure." As for the ecological significance of this patch of land and the 63 trees, given that the space is directly adjacent to thousands of acres of protected parkland along the crest of the hills, I'd say it's minimal. Mr. Moore contends that "Berkeley cannot withstand yet another assault on the integrity of its natural beauty and vulnerable ecosystem." Pardon me for laughing out loud, but that is just nonsense. Perhaps a seismic installation -- if that indeed is all that UC plans, and Mr. Moore has no other suggestions -- would be a better use of the property than keeping it a private photography preserve for this sensitive soul. 

 

Michael Stephens 

*** 

One More Time Without Feeling or Wisdom  

When will it end? It's hard to say, but once again the City of Berkeley's decision-makers seem to have forgotten something basic. This time regarding raising parking fees and fines.  

My March 11th comment on the Public Works Department's decision last fall to raise refuse rates substantially and then being puzzlingly surprised when revenues actually fell as a result of the higher prices also applies to the current situation. [see http://berkeleydailyplanet.com/issue/2010-03-11/article/34809?headline=Berkeley-s-Refuse-Recycling-Budgeting-and-Fiscal-Planning-Reflects-A-Failure-in-Economic-Thinking- ] Now, due to budget problems, the City Council has (again) increased parking fees, parking fines, parking enforcement, and is even considering extending the operating hours of the meters to raise more revenues. It's not likely to happen the way the Council expects, because the city astonishingly once again has forgotten basic economics – every change in prices that people face (and parking fines are one of those) creates consequences on the demand-side not just the supply-side of the market.  

The city decision-makers seem to have forgotten that folks who chose to shop where the meters operate in Berkeley have choices beyond Berkeley. If Berkeley again raises the meter fees and more strictly enforces parking, potential customers will simply go elsewhere. The higher parking fees and fines could end up reducing city revenues (there's already some evidence to this effect), and importantly, will cause Berkeley's retail businesses also to lose revenues. Berkeley isn't an island unconnected to other places. The Operations Director of the Downtown Berkeley Association sermonized that "Many people have grown up with the suburban concept of free parking," – implying that these folks need to change their worldview and realize that paying $1.50/hr at a Berkeley meter is OK. Au contraire, these people merely have to change their location (to El Cerrito or the malls) to avoid the Berkeley parking fees, not change their minds to be at one with $1.50/hr. I truly lament the plight of Berkeley retailers trying to stay in business despite the overly-narrow, quite parochial views of City decision-makers who are making Berkeley even less friendly and supportive of commerce. Everyone in Berkeley may lose from this lack of wisdom and understanding.  

Bruce A. Smith 

*** 

Elections in Sudan  

This weekend Sudan will hold its first meaningful elections in 24 years.  

These elections are a crucial component of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), which ended more than twenty years of war between north and south Sudan. A failure to legitimately see through the promises made in the CPA could be very dangerous and lead to the resumption of that war.  

As Sunday quickly approaches, we know that these elections will not be free or fair.  

The International Crisis Group (ICG) paints the electoral process as “fundamentally flawed.” The European Union has deemed it “impossible" to observe elections in a credible way and has pulled its election monitors from the Darfur region  

As Americans, many of us are concerned with our own families and communities during this tough economic time in our country.  

Nevertheless, we have a moral obligation to act when we sense danger and possibly egregious violence approaching beyond our borders. Already an unprecedented number of Americans and dedicated elected officials, including and especially Congresswoman Barbara Lee, have refused to give up on the people suffering in Sudan.  

Now, more than ever, it is important we raise our voices.  

As Americans, we must seize this moment to advocate for the survival of families and communities in Sudan. We must call on the Obama Administration not to recognize the results of Sudan’s elections since they are not free and fair.  

We cannot give up now.  

Charlotte Hill 

*** 

Response to Last Week's Editorial about Gossip 

In a recent editorial ³Spreading rumors, or why gossip counts,² you obliquely refer to a Berkeleyside.com report about the two Berkeley teenagers who died March 31 when their car crashed into a bus on the Richmond Parkway. Berkeleyside.com was the first to report that the car had reached 100 mph before the crash and was probably going 60 mph at the time of the accident, higher than the posted 50 mph speed limit. 

You suggest that this information was the ³opinion² of the Richmond police and that reporting it made you ³uncomfortable² because it was based only on eyewitness accounts, rather than actual measurements of the speed of the vehicle. You suggested that it might have ³been wiser to omit speculation which cast aspersion on a victim.² 

As the reporter who wrote that story, I take issue with your suggestion that it was based on anything other than sound information. Richmond police waited a week after the accident before they provided information about the car¹s speed, and they only did so after an investigation. You also question how police could have determined the speed of the car if they only interviewed witnesses. That¹s how police conduct an investigation: they talk to people who saw an accident and combine that with hard evidence to determine the cause of a crash. 

I have covered crime stories for more than 20 years for newsgathering operations such as the San Jose Mercury News, the New York Times, and People magazine, and I can attest how difficult it is to get information from police until they are ready to release it. 

You also suggest that Berkeleyside should not have reported the speed of the car because the news would hurt the family. The deaths of Kyle Strang and Prentice Gray, two teens who by all accounts were thoughtful and compassionate youths, was a tragedy. But it is the job of news organizations 

to report the news. I am sure that the Strang and Gray families knew about the car¹s speed before the information was released to reporters. In addition, when people die prematurely, those left behind are always seeking to understand why. If other teenagers now see there can be serious and permanent repercussions from speeding, perhaps they won¹t do it. That alone is sufficient reason for a news site like Berkeleyside.com to report the details of the accident. 

 

Frances Dinkelspiel 

Co-founder, Berkeleyside.com 

 

Editor’s Note: 

As I said in the editorial, it's a judgment call, not easy to make. I didn't mention where I saw the story that made me uncomfortable because I certainly don't think the blog should be blamed for calling it as they see it. We mentioned the speed too, in our first story, though less specifically. I did get a note from a relative thanking us for our coverage and contrasting it with coverage somewhere else, not necessarily on berkeleyside.com, which they didn't appreciate.  

And I do think there's a difference between 60 in a 50 zone and 100 anywhere. Evidence always has to be evaluated for credibility, by the police, by witnesses and by the press. Often enough eyewitnesses get facts quite wrong, as per the standard demonstrations done in every law school evidence course, including mine, where an event is staged in front of the class, students are asked what they saw, and their reports differ widely.  

For all that I complain,as the letter writer does, about how hard it is to pry information out of the Berkeley police, I think their reticence is often motivated by laudable caution about making accusations without hard evidence, and the culture of the Richmond police seems different in that respect. Perhaps if the blog had separated the accident story from the memorial story it would have sat easier with me, but I do understand that opinions about what’s appropriate can differ. 

 

*** 

Berkeley Needs Pools  

The Berkeley public pools are a vital recreational resource for our whole community. They have been fully and enthusiastically used for many years. Marie Bowman (“Pool Bond Floats Special Interest Groups,” 4/8/2010) would have us believe that the non-public pools in Berkeley could absorb the recreational needs that the Berkeley public pools have been providing for over 40 years. This is patently ridiculous.  

Willard Pool, which will be shut down if Measure C doesn’t pass, is used for P.E. classes for Willard Middle School; it is used by the afterschool programs of the elementary schools on the south side of Berkeley; it is used by summer camps and preschools on the south side of town; it is used by Berkeley youth from the entire south side of Berkeley for swimming and diving lessons and summer recreation; it offers a free shower program for the homeless; and adults use the pool for lap swimming. All these people simply cannot be accomodated by the YMCA, even if all these people could afford the membership fee. The YMCA pools are overbooked as it is, with childrens needs competing with the needs of adult swimmers.  

The reason for building a bigger pool at the existing King Pool site is not only to accommodate competitive swimmers. King Pool is the most heavily used of the three public pools, and it is too small for the numbers of people who use it. The new pool at King would provide much needed space for all of the programs that take place at King Pool (adult and youth competitive swimmers, swimming and diving lessons, adult lap swimmers, water aerobics, tiny tot time, family swim time, senior water exercise, etc.).  

Berkeley homeowners don’t tend to have pools in their backyards. Where are the children and grandchildren of Berkeleyans like Marie Bowman, who don’t want to pay any taxes for pools, going to learn to swim? 

Dove Scherr  

*** 

Health Care Reform 

I wish to state my gratitude to the members of the Senate and Congress who voted to pass health care reform. It is time that we move forward toward a rational, compassionate and fiscally responsible health care model and this is a step toward that. 

The purpose of a republic is to further the well-being of it's people. Citizens that have severe illnesses should have their care addressed. Citizens that change jobs deserve to take health care with them. Citizens who fall ill should not lose their homes to finance their care. 

To the naysayers, if they claim to be religious, I ask what would Jesus do? What would Moses do? 

What would any of the great teachers do? They would "do unto others" and vote for the compassionate care of their neighbor as we have done. It is a proud moment for a great country. 

Candace Hyde-Wang 

*** 

Health care  

I'm thankful, after so many decades, there is a beginning towards health care for all. Our children will have the protection from the insurance companies denying them health coverage if they have pre-existing conditions. I believe health care is a right not a privilege. 

Thanks to all Congressional members who voted to begin health insurance reform and hopefully push for Medicare for All creating a healthier nation. 

Jan Volz-Kelly 

 

*** 

Hooray for Health Care Reform!! 

 

 

Wow, to be an American alive in these historic times is quite a thrill ride! 

 

Many thanks to our devoted California Senators, Diane Feinstein and Barbara Boxer for standing firm with President Obama's health care plan, we Californians can now be assured of 'equal rights' when it comes to our health and we can watch the end (hopefully) of organized crime rings, i.e., the insurance companies, who have been extorting American citizens for decades. 

 

Personally, I find it sadly comical that Republicans and greedy right wing interests think they can delude the public with their blatant heinous divisive lies about what health care is or does or does not do for the people of America. 

 

Let's remember what the Republicans gave us before the election of Barack Obama: a country that systematically shut down our schools and built prisons; that shipped crack cocaine and guns into the inner cities to put into the hands of our young African American, Latino and other non-white American children to keep them on drugs, dead,or in prison by voting age; that shipped our jobs overseas; that stripped the EPA of all controls and protections and put in charge the very criminals who had criminally violated the environment; who allowed the banks and Wall Street to steal from everyone throwing the world into financial devastation; who started two wars, one illegally, etc., etc., etc. The list goes on and on. And all we hear from them is excuses or the blame game. 

 

Now we have a president who has actually read the Constitution, taught Constitutional Law, and really cares about ALL the American people. He can see that we no longer measure up globally to other countries; it has become clear to all of us that the wealthy self-entitled narcissists in this country only care about themselves, e.g. Bernie Madoff, et al. 

 

And here we are...Health Reform has passed! And the Republicans and right wing special interest groups are trying to spoon feed their mindless racist hatred and ignorance to American citizens by intentionally distorting the facts. And they will be the first in line for health care services if they or their children become ill. 

 

The Republicans seem to think we have all been properly and systematically dumbed down, so we should be malleable and ready to receive their distorted reality as fact. Revisionist delusions are only good for comical material on the late night shows; or for what passes as news on Fox. 

 

This victory is a victory for all Americans, whether they realize it or not. History will prove that. 

 

Lark Ashford 

 

*** 

Health Care Reform 

Thank goodness we Americans can look to getting healthier as a nation. I never understood why other countries like Canada or Australia could provide medical care for ALL their citizens but the United States could (or would not). 

Must be the insurance companies and the drug companies (the special interest groups looking out for themselves). 

Fortunately, I have good health at 63. And I'm not on any medications, and learned early on that prevention is the best medicine. Let's get our nation healthy. 

Thank you Mr. President and all of you who fought for this. 

 

Beverly Young 

American Citizen 

 

*** 

Lange Collection Online  

Thank you for publishing Dorothy Bryant's thought provoking review of the new Dorothea Lange biography. 

Reading this review reminded me of a fabulous Dorothea Lange resource that your other readers might like to know about. The Oakland Museum has a collection of nearly 25,000 Dorothea Lange negatives, plus hundreds of prints. This huge collection includes her best known work as well as her earlier San Francisco fashion portraits, photographs of the Native Americans of the Southwest and their landscape that she took while traveling with the painter Maynard Dixon -- her first husband -- in the 1920s, and also her family photos. Best of all, this entire archive is available -- free -- to anyone who has access to a computer. Just look at http://www.oac.cdlib.org/findaid/ark:/13030/ft3f59n5wt/ 

It is an amazing collection of the work of Berkeley's own Dorothea Lange. 

The Oakland Museum should be thanked for making it available. 

 

Roger Moss  

 

*** 

Equal Enforcement of Zoning Rules 

I live very close to the corner of McGee and Dwight, where Bengal Basin Institute has been established. While I support the aims of the Institute, I do not support their building. 

Both the building on the corner and the one next to it on McGee include additional stories that were not built with permits, nor according to Berkeley's strict construction rules. I and my neighbors have to get permits for major renovations, including in some cases, surprisingly expensive dry wall inspection. I understand those regulations, and accept them as part of living in Berkeley, but I expect everyone else to follow them as well. I watched the construction on the corner of McGee and Dwight, and saw that it mainly consists of sheets of plywood painted white -- they are still very evident. I assumed that this was done according to code, but was not surprised to find that it was not. 

In addition, I saw flyers advertising that the Institute building was available as a rental for seminars, lectures, and parties. We did not get any announcements or notices of this usage, which we would have resisted: it would have been a parking nightmare. 

Perhaps it's easier to ask for forgiveness rather than permission, but we have laws and regulations for a reason, and the owners of the Institute chose not to follow them. I'm sorry they were mistaken, but believe they should follow regulations like the rest of us. 

Gail King 

 

*** 

Israel/Palestine:The Heart of the Matter 

 

No public utterance is more likely to bring showers of vehement reaction than criticism of Israel. If the critic is a Jew he or she is immediately branded a self-hater and if the critic is a gentile he or she is immediately label an anti-Semite. This makes Israel’s position among other nations simple: they’re with us or against us.  

From where I stand, 7,400 miles from Jerusalem, Israel’s position is anything but simple.  

I am neither a Semite nor an anti-Semite but I have criticisms, not focused on Israel as a wayward nation, ego-centric and mired in exceptionalism but on its privileged relationship with my country, a relationship that resembles in simplistic terms nothing so much as the tail wagging the dog.  

In the late 1940s Ralph Bunche replaced the assassinated Count Bernadotte, and as special UN agent persuaded Arabs and Jews to accept a partition. Bunche received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1950 but there was no peace before and there’s been no peace since.  

Today Israel is by far the largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid dollars; $2.3 billion in 2006, almost all for the purpose of buying armaments from us - a bonanza for our armaments industry. Israel, therefore, in addition to being our best friend in the region, acts as a kind of surrogate U.S. military force. Speaking on March 23rd to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Secretary Clinton declared that “…when we strengthen Israel security we strengthen American security.”  

The U.S. has been Israel’s sponsor, protector, arms provider and although US policy since the time of Ralph Bunche pays lip service to a two state solution, in every dispute it takes Israel’s side. Again, in her AIPAC speech Secretary Clinton assured her audience, “Our commitment to Israel and Israel’s future is rock solid, enduring and forever.”  

Every nation in the region is infected like a cancer by this growing hatred between Semitic cousins and the U.S., wedged in heart of this matter is in a position to enforce a healing two state solution but fumbles every opportunity to do so.  

The U.S. stood silent when Israel invaded Gaza a year ago and left 1400 Palestinians dead mostly women and children (and 14 Israel soldiers) and a few months later the U.S. sided with Israel in its rejection of the Goldstone Report, a report that accused both sides of crimes against humanity.  

Even though we know that Israel’s brutal behavior towards the people of Gaza and the West Bank and its recent plan to build apartments in East Jerusalem, fuel recruitment of Islamist extremists (General Patraeus) and “…undermines the security of our troops …in Iraq and Afghanistan” (Biden). 

Our blind support renders us impotent and like glue keeps us fixed and powerless at the heart of the matter.  

 

Marvin Chachere 

 

*** 

New Justice  

How tough can it be for President Obama to pick a new Supreme Court justice? If it was a sitting Republican president we know exactly what we would have on the table. Another anti-abortion, religious conservative in the mold of John Roberts. 

Obama's choice for a Supreme Court justice needs to be a person of compassion with backbone, an independent thinker and a liberal to balance John Roberts right-leaning Supreme Court. 

You don't have to be a deep thinker to know what the Supreme Court needs now. Do American's want to see any more disputed elections decided by the Supreme Court? 

 

Ron Lowe 

*** 

POOL-SALVAGE 

 

WARM-POOL ROOF TRUSSES could fairly easily and should be redeployed into a new warm-pool building roof structure to save millions, two and maybe three million dollars worth of savings, which savings could go into upgrading the design of several planned existing pools plus making the new warm-pool a little nicer, assuming that the pools-bond passes in the rapidly upcoming June election;  

…given this prospect, it would truly seem criminal of the public school district to sell them, reusable truss-work to china as scrap metal for a mere couple hundred thousand or even less.  

The very inconsequential rust layer at extreme ends of trusses can easily be blasted away and epoxy-coated to last for centuries. (Some extra beef for seismic can easily be added by welding or bolting as needed.) 

The mosaic ceramic tile lining the pool itself, recently regrouted and acid-cleaned, gleaming pure white, likewise should be redeployed, by cutting pool walls and floor into squares and transporting them and combining them with new pool walls. 

Likewise the beautiful low- to non-slip tile floors should be sawed into large squares and used in a new designed building. This type tile-work these days is enormously costly; otherwise we will be forced to grit our teeth and accept bare concrete pool and deck floors to save dollars at a new building. 

Saving the white-tiled wainscot would possibly be too expensive. 

The tilework at the warm-pool made and makes the otherwise utilitarian, industrial building bearable until the very recent cleaning and painted-walls efforts by the industrious aquatics dept chief. 

But why not just save the whole building? This would seem sensible to most thinking, educated, responsible, economy-minded souls. 

Now is the time to make sure the public school district had not already made plans to sell these elements as salvage scrap for a paltry few dollars (to their buddies?), and to begin planning a new building structure to accommodate the existing (exceedingly clever two-way truss system almost a space-frame) at the two old pools at BHS, which truss-system now provides column-free interior space of about 12000, twelve thousand square feet. 

A ton of money has already gone into plans for a new building, then comically later into site planning studies; a little more effort to make realistic the reuse of valuable existing building elements would be an investment that would reap great reward: treasured tile finishes and the most expensive portion of the building structure can find a second life here in Berkeley rather than in landfill or steel furnace. 

 

Terry Cochrell,  

DISABLED, BERKELEY, RETIRED ARCHITECT, BERKELEY RESIDENT FOR NEARLY 40 YEARS 

 

*** 

Fairness to Bankers?  

As a proud citizen and independent voter, I consider remaining informed and objective about this nation’s politics my duty. I feel further obligated to disseminate my view when I believe a public official has acted unscrupulously.  

On Tuesday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell lambasted the Democrats’ proposed banking regulation bill, which aims to reinstate fairness on Wall Street by repressing consumer predation, eliminating the manipulation of fine print, and holding executives accountable for their part in generating the current recession. McConnell bluntly renounced the bill, claiming that its sole purpose is to create for future bailouts. Though the bill is still only in draft form, he also sharply threatened a future filibuster in order to prevent the passage of the legislation.  

I was taken aback by such a vehement and premature objection from the Senator, especially considering that this is a widely supported reform proposition.  

However, I began to understand his motivation when I encountered a February edition of the Wall Street Journal, which includes an article how Republicans were "stepping up their campaign to win donations from Wall Street…[by] striving to make the case that they are banks' best hope of preventing President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats from cracking down on bankers."  

Actually, McConnell and National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn recently held a private meeting with twenty-five of Wall Street’s most powerful executives. Though the details of the meeting were not publicly disclosed, the Republican duo were likely requesting pecuniary assistance from the bankers leading into November—in return for obstruction of the Democratic legislation. Since the Supreme Court has eliminated the ban on corporate campaign spending, it could be a lucrative deal for the Republican Party. 

In my opinion, opposing this legislation under the false pretense that it could hurt the American masses is simply exploitative. With millions of families struggling to make it through the recession, the least McConnell could do is be transparent about doing favors for the exorbitantly wealthy. I believe that this calls into question both McConnell’s values and that of his party.  

Robert Geoffrey Loebl 

 

WSJ Article: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB20001424052748703575004575043612216461790.html#printMode 

 

*** 

wild parrots in Albany? 

 

Re: Wild Neighbors: In Search of the Wild Parrots of Berkeley 

By Joe Eaton 

Wednesday January 14, 2009 

Pretty sure I saw a group of maybe a dozen flying west to east, in the 500 block of Talbot, Albany, late afternoon 4/13. 

 

Bill Lanphier 

 

*** 

I was in a car accident 

After may 2 ,2003, my life changed drastically. 

I had no real medical insurance to speak of and the 89 year old woman who rear ended me at a dead stop had just enough to cover a few doctors visits. 

Here is where things get hairy.... 

I could not work. Period. 

I could not bend, lift, stand or sit for long periods. 

(I still can’t do most of this today.) 

I signed up for the medically indigent health care that was offered by the state. 

They covered my doctors’ visits and prescriptions for one year. but obviously I had a ongoing condition. 

What were my choices? Be homeless to pay for my meds, or go back to work and lose my healthcare. 

I went back to work. 

And because of this I was never eligible to get the benefits I was supposed to receive from work, because of my "PRE EXISTING" condition. 

Lame. 

Passing health-care reform, may give me a 2nd chance at the surgeries I need, and the medications to live a thriving existence. 

 

Andrew McGinness 

 


Comments on the Project Proposed for 2707 Rose

By Fred Wyle
Thursday April 15, 2010 - 05:33:00 PM

The Planet has received a copy of a letter which Fred Wyle of Greenwood Commons sent to his neighbors regarding his opposition to the very large structure proposed for 2707 Rose. With his permission, you can read it here


Climategate Controversy Update

By Ralph E. Stone
Thursday April 15, 2010 - 11:11:00 AM

Last November, 1,000 stolen e-mails from one of the world’s leading climate research centers in Britain seemed to challenge the scientific consensus that global warming is happening and that it is induced by human activity. The e-mails appeared to show researchers scolding skeptics of global warming, discussing ways to hide their data, and discussing ways to keep skeptics' research out of peer-reviewed publications. One e-mail authored by researcher Phil Jones seemed to suggest using a "trick" to "hide the decline" of temperatures. 

The publication of the e-mails just before the Copenhagen climate change summit last December created a furor, with skeptics of man-made climate change calling the e-mails “Climategate” and claiming them as proof that the science behind global warming had been exaggerated or even made up altogether.  

On March 31st, the British House of Commons’ Science and Technology Committee largely cleared the "ClimateGate" researchers involved, finding no evidence to support charges that the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit or its director, Phil Jones, had tampered with data or perverted the peer review process to exaggerate the threat of global warming. There is still an ongoing inquiry due out in this spring as to whether Jones manipulated the data. 

"ClimateGate" had its effect on U.S. public opinion. A recent Gallup poll shows that 48 percent of Americans believe the seriousness of global warming is generally exaggerated. Many Americans believe that, if there is global warming, it is cyclical and will pass over time or the scientists will discover an eleventh hour fix for the problem. ClimateGate and the public's skepticism provides cover for our politicians to avoid the difficult task of addressing global warming.  

Senator James Inhofe (R. Okl) and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R. Cal) probably represent the views of global warming skeptics. Senator Inhofe called "the threat of catastrophic global warming the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people." And Rep. Rohrabacher called the science behind global warming "emotional junk science." Even that eminent scientist Sarah Palin called global warming studies "snake oil science."  

Regardless of the so-called ClimateGate controversy, it has long been known that humans impact our atmosphere severely and our unrelenting production of carbon dioxide (and other greenhouse gases) increase the effects of the naturally occurring "greenhouse effect" that keeps our planet habitable. The more CO2 we pump into our atmosphere, the warmer the atmosphere gets. This is a scientific fact based on decades of scientific study. The main cause of the increase in global average temperatures in recent history is not because of any natural cycle -- although natural cycles do exist -- it is because of man. 

Denying global warming and its causes threatens all of humanity with slow, painful, untimely deaths. Scientists overwhelmingly agree that increasing global temperatures will cause sea levels to rise and will produce more intense weather and changes in precipitation patterns, changes in crop yields, glacier melting, extinction of species and the spread of disease. Putting our heads in the sand is not going to make global warming go away. 

Global warming should be a non-partisan issue. It concerns us all whether Democrat or Republican, conservative or liberal, or anything in between. There is, however, a promising first step: Senators John Kerry (D. Mass), Lindsey Graham (R.SC), and Joe Lieberman (I. Conn) reportedly are to unveil their global warming bill the week of April 19 to coincide with the 40th anniversary of Earth Day. But, of course, passage is far from certain. 

 


Happy Tax Day: Are Americans getting our money's worth?

By Steven Hill
Thursday April 15, 2010 - 01:24:00 PM

Most Americans seem to regard April 15 -- the day income tax returns are due to the Internal Revenue Service -- as a recurring tragedy akin to a Biblical plague. Particularly this year, with U.S. government deficits soaring, everyone from the tea baggers to Fox News and Senate Republicans is sounding the alarm about a return to "big government." Recently former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani even stated that President Obama was moving us toward – gasp -- European socialism. 

Europe frequently plays the punching bag role during these moments because there is a perception that the poor Europeans are overtaxed serfs. But a closer look reveals that this is a myth that prevents Americans from understanding the vast shortcomings of our own system. 

A few years ago, an American acquaintance of mine who lives in Sweden told me that, quite by chance, he and his Swedish wife were in New York City and ended up sharing a limousine to the theater district with a southern U.S. senator and his wife. This senator, a conservative, anti-tax Democrat, asked my acquaintance about Sweden and swaggeringly commented about "all those taxes the Swedes pay." To which this American replied, "The problem with Americans and their taxes is that we get nothing for them." He then went on to tell the senator about the comprehensive level of services and benefits that Swedes receive. 

"If Americans knew what Swedes receive for their taxes, we would probably riot," he told the senator. The rest of the ride to the theater district was unsurprisingly quiet. 

The fact is, in return for their taxes, Europeans are receiving a generous support system for families and individuals for which Americans must pay exorbitantly, out-of-pocket, if we are to receive it at all. That includes quality health care for every single person, the average cost of which is about half of what Americans pay, even as various studies show that Europeans achieve healthier results. 

But that's not all. In return for their taxes, Europeans also are receiving affordable child care, a decent retirement pension, free or inexpensive university education, job retraining, paid sick leave, paid parental leave, ample vacations, affordable housing, senior care, efficient mass transportation and more. In order to receive the same level of benefits as 

Europeans, most Americans fork out a ton of money in out-of-pocket payments, in addition to our taxes. 

For example, while 47 million Americans don't have any health insurance at all, many who do are paying escalating premiums and deductibles. Indeed, Anthem Blue Cross announced that its premiums will increase by up to 40 percent. But all Europeans receive health care in return for a modest amount deducted from their paychecks. 

Friends have told me they are saving nearly $100,000 for their children's college education, and most young Americans graduate with tens of thousands of dollars in debt. But European children attend for free or nearly so (depending on the country). 

Child care in the United States costs more than $12,000 annually for a family with two children, but in Europe it costs about one-sixth that amount, and the quality is far superior. Millions of Americans are stuffing as much as possible into their IRAs and 401(k)s because Social Security provides only about half the retirement income needed. But the more generous European retirement system provides about 75 to 85 percent (depending on the country) of retirement income. Either way, you pay. 

Americans' private spending on old-age care is nearly three times higher per capita than in Europe because Americans must self-finance a significant share of their own senior care. Americans also tend to pay more in local and state taxes, as well as in property taxes.  

Americans also pay hidden taxes, such as $300 billion annually in federal tax breaks to businesses that provide health benefits to their employees. 

When you sum up the total balance sheet, it turns out that Americans pay out just as much as Europeans -- but we receive a lot less for our money. 

Unfortunately these sorts of complexities are not calculated into simplistic analyses like Forbes' annual Tax Misery Index, a "study" which shows 

European nations as the most miserable and the low-tax United States as happy as a clam -- right next to Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines. 

In this economically competitive age, increasingly these kinds of services are necessary to ensure healthy, happy and productive families and workers. Europeans have these supports, but most Americans do not, unless you pay a ton out-of-pocket. Or unless you are a member of Congress, which of course provides European-level support for its members and their families. 

That's something to keep in mind on April 15. Happy Tax Day. 

 

Steven Hill is the author of the recently published "Europe's Promise: Why the European Way is the Best Hope in an Insecure Age" and director of the Political Reform Program for the New America Foundation

 


BRT, the Brown Act and the Sunshine Ordinance

By Dean Metzger
Thursday April 15, 2010 - 10:26:00 AM

The city council has said it will hold a special meeting to hear public testimony concerning the staff proposed “Locally Preferred Alternate” (LPA) for BRT in Berkeley. This meeting is to take place on Tuesday, April 20, 2010 at the regular council meeting, with the final vote by the council to be taken on April 27, 2010.  

What does this have to do with the Brown Act (State law governing meetings – Code 54953(a)) and the proposed Sunshine Ordinance (Open government)?  

First, the Brown Act specifically states that meetings must be open and that“all persons shall be permitted to attend”. It also states that all members of the public shall have the right to address the council on agenda items. 

It is hoped that the City would take its obligations seriously. This would seem to mean the City must move the BRT meeting to a venue large enough to accommodate everyone who wants to attend at the same time and provide enough time for everyone to speak. It would seem like both those opposed and for the BRT project would want this to happen.The present practice when there are more people than the council chambers can hold is to shuffle people in and out of the council chambers as space becomes available. 

If the proposed Sunshine Ordinance ordinance were adopted by the city council or approved by the city voters, it would put an end to this practice and void council decisions until the laws of Berkeley and the State of California are followed. It is as simple as that. 

Alan Tobey’s commentary in the April 11, 2010 Berkeley Daily Planet titled “The Sunshine Ordinance and the People’s Republic” is an example of the existing government attitude toward change. If city staff agree with and want the proposed change, they will do anything to accomplish their goal, in this case BRT. If they think the change may lessen their chances of getting their way, they attack those proposing change and their ideas. 

During the three years it took to write the Sunshine Ordinance, Alan Tobey, the elected officials, city staff, and their friends could have participated and perhaps added valuable ideas to the ordinance. Instead they chose to sit on the sidelines and wait for the final document, then find ways to criticize it. The League of Woman Voters did participate, but found most of those citizens willing to put in the long hours required to get this done did not agree with them and slowly disengaged from the Citizen’s Sunshine Committee. 

Compare this with the City of Alameda. That city has begun the process of writing a sunshine ordinance. It is pleasant to see that the city managers, city clerks, and city attorneys’ offices are going to participate in the process of writing their ordinance – unlike Berkeley’s officials, who did not work with the Citizen’s Sunshine Committee. 

All of this is followed by Charles Siegel’s commentary in the April 8, 2010 Berkeley Daily Planet. He wants you to believe that those who approve of BRT are in the majority on the BRT project.  

Yes, both he and Alan Tobey are right, measure KK was soundly defeated by the Berkeley voters. What they fail to acknowledge is the fact that BRT was not the focus of KK. Measure KK was an attempt to be sure the democratic process would be given to the citizens of Berkeley on transportation issues that specially dedicated lanes in any part of our community. What the opponents of KK did was use special interest money (in the thousands of dollars) to convince the voters that KK was anti-environmental. Nothing is further from the truth.  

The neighborhood residents who oppose BRT are opposed because; 1). It has not proven that it will be environmentally friendly, 2). It will not serve the local residents, 3). It will cause more traffic on neighborhood streets (not good for the local environment or neighborhood safety), 4). It will not require commuters to and from UCB, or the employees of the City of Berkeley, to get out of their cars and ride the bus, and 6). It will create a hardship on our older citizens who must use the local buses. These neighborhoods have an over whelming majority who oppose BRT. 

The Brown Act requires the BRT discussion and debate to take place in a venue large enough for all to attend and be heard in the same room. The Sunshine ordinance would make that happen. 


The ‘Party of No’ Takes Aim at Berkeley’s Pools – and at the Truth

By Robert Collier
Thursday April 15, 2010 - 09:51:00 AM

In Washington DC and around the country, conservatives are hoping they can bluff their way into upset victories in this year’s elections. Health care, clean energy, financial regulation and other much-needed reforms are in their gun sights as they fire inflammatory claims and accusations. In Berkeley, the local “Party of No” seems to hope it can use the same tactics to defeat a ballot measure that would save some of our community’s most basic yet best-loved amenities – our four municipal swimming pools. 

The conservatives’ strategy is brazen – to combine one bogus factoid on top of another as fast as possible, in a barrage of bluster that is intended to overwhelm and confuse voters. A perfect example is the article by Marie Bowman in the April 10 Daily Planet, “Pools Bond Floats Special Interest Groups.” Bowman packs an astounding number of false statements into her argument against Measure C, which will be on the ballot June 8. Nearly every claim in her article is provably factually incorrect. 

Let's start with some truths that Bowman glosses over. Measure C would save two of the city’s four pools from certain extinction – Willard Pool, which is scheduled for permanent closure this July, and the Warm Pool, which will be evicted next year from its location at Berkeley High School. Measure C also would remodel West Campus Pool and expand King Pool. Overall, it would save and improve the four pools as wonderful community centers for Berkeley’s children, adults, seniors and disabled.  

But the Party of No has turned reality upside down. Here are some of the false claims in Bowman’s article: 

Claim: Measure C would raise annual pools maintenance costs to $3.5 million, to be further adjusted for inflation. Fact: Measure C provides $980,000 for pools hours, programs and maintenance, adjusted for inflation. Measure C has an authorization limit of $3.5 million by 2040, most of which is for annual repayment of the bond’s principal and interest. 

Claim: $20 million in new taxes were approved by Berkeley voters last November. Fact: Zero new taxes were approved last November. 

Claim: UC Berkeley’s program for the disabled operates a warm pool that could be used by the city. Fact: UC Berkeley has no such pool. The Cal STAR sports program for the disabled provides access to the three campus outdoor pools, none of which is warmer than 82 degrees – far too cold for most disabled people, many elderly and others who cannot generate enough body heat while in the water. 

Claim: The Warm Pool at Berkeley High School could be remodeled and not demolished. Fact: Even if many wish otherwise, the School Board has decided that BHS needs more space for classrooms and other facilities and that the Warm Pool must be evicted to make way for a new building. Demolition is scheduled for June 2011. 

Claim: The Warm Pool could be substituted by the Downtown Berkeley YMCA’s two warm pools. Fact: The YMCA has only one warm pool, which is only 3.5 feet deep and thus cannot serve the disabled and others who need full-body immersion, and its lateral dimensions are so small that wave action prevents lap swimming. YMCA administrators say their pools are near maximum user capacity and cannot handle a significant increase. 

Claim: The Aquatic Exercise Association (AEA) does not recommend the use of pools above 86 degrees except for limited uses, and the Warm Pool’s 92-degree water is dangerous. Fact: AEA official guidelines explicitly state that 92-degree water is appropriate for infants, physical therapy for all ages, and people with arthritis and Parkinson’s. 

Claim: The new Warm Pool would be Olympic size, extravagantly large. Fact: The Warm Pool would be the same as its current 2,250 square feet, which is about one-sixth the Olympic 25 meters by 50 meters, or 13,455 square feet. 

Claim: The Berkeley High School competition pool could meet the needs of middle school students and the Barracudas team. Fact: The BHS competition pool is solidly booked with BHS aquatics programs every weekday afternoon after classes. 

Claim: Rehabbing Willard as a competition pool would reduce Measure C’s cost by $2.5 million. Fact: Doing so would raise the measure’s capital cost by $1.3 million, plus extra operating expenses. 

Claim: Berkeley municipal debt is rising from $4 million in 2010 to $15 million in 2011. Fact: By law, the City must approve a balanced budget each year. Berkeley has a Standard & Poor's bond credit rating of AA+, putting Berkeley in the highest 1 percent of cities nationwide. 

Claim: Maintenance costs for Measure C have grown 380 percent. Fact: Nothing remotely resembling any such increase exists. 

So why such a reckless disregard for the truth? Perhaps because Berkeley voters have soured on Bowman’s “anti-tax” ideology. In the 2006 and 2008 Berkeley elections, Bowman and her Party of No tried to defeat ballot measures that supported the public schools, branch libraries and emergency services. But the Party of No failed each time, as Berkeley residents voted in favor of the facilities and programs that are so important for our quality of life.  

Certainly, Berkeleyans have legitimate concerns about high taxes. But support for Measure C is broad. It was approved by all nine members of the City Council and all five members of School Board. Other endorsers include former Mayor Shirley Dean, Senator Loni Hancock, Assemblymember Nancy Skinner, the Berkeley Federation of Teachers and scores of other groups and community leaders. 

In the end, Measure C boils down to one simple question – should our community invest for the future? Should we plan for a good quality of life for ourselves, our children, grandchildren and other Berkeley generations? Or should we allow Berkeley’s naysayers to shrink and eliminate our city’s most beloved assets? 

PLEASE VOTE YES ON MEASURE C – for our pools, our health, our kids and our community. 

 

Robert Collier is co-chair of the Berkeley Pools Campaign, which can be visited at www.berkeleypools.org and www.facebook.com/berkeleypools. 

 

 


Cell Phone Sites and the Politics of Cancer

By Harry Brill
Thursday April 15, 2010 - 03:00:00 PM

he French Hotel and Cafe on Shattuck Avenue in Berkeley has agreed to allow the installation of ten cell phone antennas on its roof. Most of those who work there will not in the short run feel any different, and those who do, perhaps by experiencing headaches, fatigue, or poor concentration, are unlikely to attribute it to the electromagnetic emissions. The same applies to the many cafe customers for whom it is a second home. Since these rays are invisible and silent, they can be easily ignored. In the long run, however, the emissions will not ignore them. 

The combined power and influence of government and the private sector have subjected the members of the public to a major assault on their health. For a long while, the federal government claimed that exposure to asbestos and cigarettes were safe. The belated public recognition that these are carcinogenic has unnecessarily cost many lives and much human suffering. Now the mythology is that the current level of emissions are safe persists despite plenty of solid evidence to the contrary.  

The history of this official betrayal began in 1996, when the 104th Congress and President Clinton bowed to a multimillion dollar campaign by approving the notorious Telecommunications Act. Passed overwhelmingly by both the Democrats and Republicans after only 1 1/2 hour debate in each house, its purpose was to remove any serious obstacles that could frustrate the interests of business. This incredibly undemocratic law effectively eliminates the legal rights of the public to oppose the installation of cell phone sites on environmental and health grounds. Both state and local government are prohibited from adopting emission standards that would be safer for the public than the very inadequate and dangerous levels set by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). So by law, for example, presenting evidence of substantial cancer rates among those living near cell towers is prohibited. 

As the risks of exposure to electromagnetic radiation were already suspected, Congress and President Clinton should not have ignored these warnings. In fact, just a few months before the bill was passed a Senate committee held hearings about cancer among law enforcement officials who use traffic radar guns. A few years earlier a congressional committee, responding to media publicity on the cancer risk among cell phone users, also held hearings  

Had the legislation mandated the safest possible levels of emission, it would certainly not have been a death blow to the industry or its ability to earn a profit. In some countries, the level of emissions is set hundreds of times lower than in the United States. But safer standards would entail additional costs, which the industry is committed to avoiding. What the deregulatory Telecommunications Act of 1996 accomplishes most of all ,then, is to expose the public to the highest level of emissions to assure the industry the highest rate of profit. Indeed, the institutional obsession with profit maximization explains why we lack clean air, clean water, and more generally, a green environment. 

Since the Telecommunications Act passed, more evidence has emerged about the dangerous consequences of electromagnetic radiation. Yet Congress has failed to revise the legislation. Consider the following. In the German city of Naila a study found that those who reside within a radius of two-tenths of a mile from cell towers were three times more likely to develop various cancers than those living further away. Breast cancer topped the list. In a neighborhood in Tel Aviv, the incidence of cancer was quadruple for residents living near a cell tower. Children are especially vulnerable to electromagnetic radiation. Their rate of leukemia due to cell site exposure is twice the average for children living further away. Generally, the risk of cancer appears to be related to the proximity of residents to cell sites. In an apartment building in London, the rate for those living on the top floor, right below the cell site, was 10 times higher than the average for the City. 

In the U.S. the emission level is set by the FCC. The problem, however, is that FCC is regulated by the industry. Rather than protecting the public, the FCC serves to insulate the industry from public interference. This is not surprising since many of its employees are either past or future employees of the industries over which they have oversight. It is as if the FCC is a subsidiary of these corporations. 

Like the air we breathe, the hazards of electromagnetic radiation are difficult to avoid. There are almost 2 million cell sites and antennas in the U.S. and these numbers are growing rapidly. Among the reasons that we are unaware of the high density is because more than a fourth of those installed are camouflaged. As the newsletter EM Watch notes, cell phones are installed inside chimneys, church steeples, and even on trees and flagpoles. Also, some gas stations and tombstones accommodate antennas. Cell towers and antennas are also being installed on top of buildings and schools. The fees that some property owners are tempted with apparently outweigh any concerns they may have about the health risks of those who occupy these properties and who live in the neighborhood. But not only businesses are tempted by the industry. In El Cerrito, a neighborhood is battling against the installation of a 77 foot transmission tower in a boy scout camp close by. The camp would receive $2,200 a month. 

There is an upside to the prevalence of cell phone sites. The very large number of individuals and families from diverse social and economic backgrounds creates a tremendous potential for mass based organizing that addresses the assault on our health and well being. Not least, it is an issue that an alert, well organized public can prevail.  

Those of you who are interested in learning about the density of cell site radiation in your neighborhood should access the following web address: www.antennasearch.com . Then type in your address and follow through. Be prepared for an unpleasant surprise on the extent to which you and your family are being bombarded. Then share the information and your concerns with neighbors. Encourage both neighborhood and inter-neighborhood meetings to discuss how best to confront the outrage. By ignoring or making light of the problem, we have much to lose. Fortunately, there is a growing awareness of the risks of electromagnetic emissions. By acting together, we have much to gain, including our right to live a life that is not cut short by the narrow selfish interests of corporate America. 

 

 

 


KPFA Manager "Resigns:" Pacifica Democracy vs. Reactionary Politics and Contradictions in the Latest Management Transition

By Robert English
Thursday April 15, 2010 - 10:13:00 AM

From 2009 elections the KPFA Local Station Board (LSB) was reconstituted with a majority of independent listener and staff representatives and new officers; the now minority Concerned Listeners (CL) allied representatives are fiercely loyal supporters of the station management and status-quo. In a March 5 commentary from a management and "core staff" viewpoint, KPFA News Directors reported that General Manager (GM) Lemlem Rijio was forced to resign by a "faction" on the Board. When the results of LSB executive sessions are broadcast and slanted, why hold closed sessions with people who feed confidential information to News staff? If not for confidentiality rules protecting employee privacy, it would seem preferable to conduct business publicly so we could assess the accuracy or spin of such reports.  

Ms. Rijio's imminent departure had been an open secret debated a month prior to the announcement by the Pacifica Executive Director (ED). A group of KPFA staff and supporters organized a campaign to reverse the supposed GM termination vote and addressed the February LSB meeting (see summary of comments below). However, other staff and community members assured the Board that removing her was long overdue and necessary to remedy the station's deteriorating financial situation, declining listener support and restore democratic process and respect for Pacifica's bylaws and mission.  

Rijio served an extended appointment as "interim" GM through September 2008, when departing ED Nicole Sawaya arbitrarily announced her permanent appointment, even though many pro-democracy staff and community members were then petitioning and advocating for fresh leadership, partly to resolve conflict at the station following the police beating and arrest of long term volunteer staff Nadra Foster; they implicated Rijio's divisive management in converting the workplace culture from collaboration to alienation and restriction, banning Foster and calling police rather than relying on standard supervision and peaceful resolution processes (see http:/mediajusticekpfa.blogspot.com/2008/10/sawaya-scorns-kpfa-staff-appoints-rijio.html).  

Under her management regime - including former Program Director Sasha Lilly, department heads, a senior staff clique and their Concerned Listener (CL) allies on the Board - the gains of the 1990s-2000s Free Pacifica and listener democracy movements, democratic institutions and power centers at KPFA were obstructed, subverted or shut down: 1) the Program Council was reduced to advisory status, then dissolved; 2) the Unpaid Staff Organization (USPO) was de-recognized; 3) LSB meetings reduced to bi-monthly, working committees dissolved, proceedings controlled or stalemated by CL to prevent effective action or changes, and the few productive resolutions ignored by management; 4) LSB elections corrupted by management-CL symbiosis, manipulations and restriction of candidate air time and election information. The new Pacifica democratic process and boards were subjected to on air staff/guest attacks and media hit pieces, most recently a BeyondChron editorial (3/29).  

Here the talking and editorial points of GM supporters are summarized and addressed with some facts, background and observations: 

 

Claim #1: Firing the GM was fiscally irresponsible, detrimental to station stability. She maintained KPFA income, except in recent hard times, but was "forced out in a dispute over a financial transaction with the Pacifica national office…"  

In reality, bad management, excessive salaried staffing and moderate formula programming are responsible, immediately and over time, for the financial crisis. Although KPFA was nearly broke, staff were cut and fund drives more urgent, frequent and extended, Rijio inexplicably held a $375,000 foundation check, intended to earn interest income, over a year until it expired. Yet KPFA News offered no explanation: what part of what transaction is disputed? Failure to deposit a six figure foundation check is beyond incompetence, must be intentional, and clear cause for separation in any organization.  

Under the Rijio-CL management, Full Time Equivalent (FTE) paid staff increased 50% from 28 to 42 FTE, while KPFA subscribers decreased 20% from 28,000 to 22,000. In budget reviews 2004-2009, LSB Treasurers/members repeatedly advised that escalating paid staffing levels were unsustainable. The priority of "professional" staff is a continuation of the "Healthy Station" model and what the controlling staff think is normal and right for KPFA; those with a longer view know KPFA as a community radio station run primarily by volunteer staff and as many paid staff as revenues allow. While support for progressive alternative radio should have expanded under the Bush rightwing nightmare, KPFA contributors steadily declined; the potential loss of some "major donors" who favor Rijio and current programming is far outweighed by long term withdrawal of progressive listeners and management's failure to outreach and develop dynamic, community based news and programs to fulfill the needs of diverse communities.  

 

Claim #2: Most union staff supported retaining her.  

The "core staff" think they are KPFA and are used to running it as they please. A GM must be selected from their ranks or the station becomes a "management free zone": outsiders selected through the bylaws process were forced out. Historically, volunteers and paid staff were represented by one union; thanks to the Healthy Station project, paid staff breaking solidarity to join the CWA and non-recognition of UPSO, volunteer staff lack representation, benefits and budget funding for personal and production expenses. However, all staff now have voting power and in recent elections chose a majority of independent LSB representatives, indicating a split with management and CL; staff will have a special election on the proposed recall of management/CL stalwart Brian Edwards-Tiekert.  

Clearly, there was widespread staff and community disaffection with Rijio's management. 80 KPFA unpaid and union staffsigned an Open Letter on New KPFA Leadership Attributes/Priorities; 74 signed a "Statement Of No Confidence" 74 KPFA Staffers: No-Confidence for Rijio 29 Sept 2008 calling for a new GM appointment.  

 

Claim #3: The new LSB majority acted without an evaluation or careful deliberation process. 

 

This assertion ignores the relevant bylaws processes. The LSB can only recommend separation of a GM, which must be reviewed and approved by the Pacifica ED or National Board. Rijio was evaluated as GM; performance appraisals are available to LSB members, and if favorable, likely would be (but were not) credited by supporters. Her known prior experience does not appear to meet reasonably expected minimal management and radio/media qualifications for GM, yet she remained in the position for 4 years. If the confidential causes for separation were acute and required urgent action (see #1), this process can't be compared to prior extended LSB deliberations on charges against a former GM. 

 

Claim #4: This highlights a dysfunctional, expensive election system/governing structure with Boards that are unrepresentative, disruptive, factional and "micromanage" or usurp staff/managerial decisions and functions. 

 

Actually this repeated argument demonstrates the elitist, self-serving nature and reactionary politics of the management/staff group and amounts to a corporate establishment-like coded message of "democracy is too expensive and doesn't work, so let's forget it and let the professionals do their jobs." The new Pacifica bylaws and member elected boards were carefully developed from the democracy movement and court settlement in response to the autocratic, centralized, corporate culture of the old Pacifica "hijackers" regime. Staff and listener donors now have voting member status and the Boards have limited, defined powers and responsibility in collaboration with management. The old guard managers and senior staff who directed KPFA for decades have resisted and attempted to control the new governance through various means including political alliances, but as previously and currently when losing an LSB majority, they condemn and try to "dismantle" what they cannot control.  

 

Pacifica's Ranked Choice Voting is a form of proportional representation, a progressive election reform that provides for diversity and minority representation, has been adopted and proven in San Francisco and other municipal elections and countries with multi-party systems. Election expenses are not responsible for the financial crisis (see #1) and can be reduced as a worthwhile price of democratic oversight and participation in Pacifica governance and decision making. 

 

Claim #5: She improved programming by adding "Letters to Washington."  

 

Typical of much KPFA news and public affairs programming, "Letters" is uninspiring in the NPR mainstreamed style, Democrat party orientated, follows 4 hours of public affairs and initially bumped the only women's program, "Women's Magazine." Other highlights of the management regime's program policies, decisions and deficiencies include abrupt removal of the only weekend youth oriented show, "Youth Radio;" "Poor Magazine" cut from The Morning Show, a program slot for Lilly's associate Doug Henwood, ban of Labor Collective programming; selective exclusion of radical analysts, scholars, journalists, including popular local residents Michael Parenti, Peter Philips, "Taking Aim" producers Ralph Schoenman and Mya Shone; lack of various labor, arts, community/cultural programs, coverage of alternative political parties and social movements.  

 

Tragically, 11 years after the 1999 KPFA community uprising, the Folio is not restored, some Transformation Proposal provisions for staff/program diversity and equity are unimplemented, while the program grid continues as a time capsule of "Pat Scott Radio."  

 

 

Bob English is a retired civil servant; long time KPFA supporter and listener democracy activist in Coalition for a democratic Pacifica and Peoples Radio, former LSB candidate; former union and labor democracy activist with Public Employees for a Democratic Union. 

 

 


Columns

The Public Eye: BTW, Conservatism is Dead

By Bob Burnett
Wednesday April 14, 2010 - 05:32:00 PM

Recently there’s been a lot of speculation about why the mood on the right has turned so sour. Some observers attribute it to the lack of leadership at the top of the Republican Party, the surreal reality that Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh have more influence than do elected Republicans. Others say it’s a poisonous combination of economic angst and racial hatred. But there’s a more obvious explanation: we’re witnessing the death throes of conservatism. The right-wing ideology that ran the US for thirty years has proven to be a total failure and the passage of healthcare reform was the final nail in its coffin. 

In case you’ve forgotten, classic conservatism promised to keep us safe, reduce the size of government, lower taxes, and manage the economy. Republican broke each of these commitments.  

Keep us Safe: Conservatives/Republicans used to poll much stronger than Liberals/Democrats on national security. Then came 9/11 and the debacle of the Iraq war, where the GOP lost credibility. Despite the transition from the Bush to the Obama Administration, there has been little change in the military budget (+ 3 percent). Not surprisingly, voters now see little difference between Democrats and Republicans on this issue. 

Shrink Government: Conservative ideologue Grover Norquist famously promised, “Our goal is to shrink government to the size where we can drown it in a bathtub.” Nonetheless, the Federal bureaucracy grew during the Bush presidency. Now the Republican base – frustrated with the failure of their leaders to follow through on this promise – has turned to the futile pursuit of “state’s rights” or, as Texas Governor Rick Perry has proposed, the notion of secession from the USA. 

Lower Taxes: Beginning with the Reagan Presidency, conservatives have argued that much of the Federal government is a waste of money and, therefore, Americans shouldn’t have to pay for it. As a result, the marginal tax rates for individuals and corporations were diminished until today they are roughly half of what they were in 1980. However, while Federal revenues diminished, expenditures surged. During the Bush Administration, the Federal deficit became a serious impediment to US economic growth. Not surprisingly, voters now trust Democrats more than Republicans on economic issues such as taxes, the deficit, and the economy, in general. While voters are suspicious of taxes, in general, they are now willing to tax the rich and to enact penalties on corporations that don’t play by the rules. 

Manage the Economy: Since the Reagan Presidency, conservatives have maintained that Democrats are “social engineers” who only know how to lash together ineffective Federal social programs. In contrast, conservatives claimed that Republicans are “professional managers” who know how to run government like a business. Eight years of George W. Bush – touted as America’s first “CEP president” – proved this to be a lie.  

The promise of competent management covered a more sweeping assertion: conservatives knew best how to manage the economy. The thirty years since Reagan was inaugurated witnessed the heyday of the Chicago School of Economics that promoted deregulation by arguing that markets were inherently self-regulating and no matter how severe the setback markets would quickly return to equilibrium. This conservative theory touted “efficiency.” “productivity,” and “trickle-down equity” as the inevitable byproducts of laissez-faire capitalism. The result was a savage increase in monopoly capitalism and inequality, and the loss of eight million jobs. The performance of the Bush Administration and 2008’s financial meltdown destroyed the last pillar of conservative orthodoxy. 

But it’s not only conservative ideology that’s failed. As UC professor George Lakoff brilliantly argues in Moral Politics, conservatives have a different worldview than liberals do. Conservatives believe in the “strict father” model: the world is dangerous – there’s an angry mob at the gates of fortress America – and what’s required are strong, righteous men to lead the US.  

The conservative worldview proved a delusion. The supposedly strong, righteous Republican leaders turned out to be incompetent. Worse yet, they often favored their own interests over those of then public, they abandoned the common good for the personal good. In reality the strict father was an abuser. 

During the past few weeks, the Catholic Church has been in the news because of continuing allegations of sexual abuse. The image of the strict religious father has been compromised. So has the conservative image of the strict political father: Conservative politicians have systematically abused the public interest. 

So it’s no wonder that the mood on the right has turned sour. Everything they were taught has proven to be wrong: the pillars of conservative ideology have crumbled, as has the dominant metaphor. Republican leaders have betrayed their followers. 

As a result, right-wingers are thrashing in pain from the death of conservatism. They don’t know what to believe in so they reflexively unite in opposing whatever liberals propose. It’s understandable, but it doesn’t contribute anything to our joint challenge to make the United States safe and prosperous. 

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


Dispatches From The Edge:Behind the Afghan Fraud

Conn Hallinan
Wednesday April 14, 2010 - 04:50:00 PM

All frauds have a purpose, mostly to relieve the unwary of their wealth, though occasionally to launch some foreign adventure: the 1965 Tonkin Gulf hoax that escalated the Vietnam War comes to mind.  

So what was the design behind “Operation Moshtarak,” or the “battle of Marjat,” in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province, the largest U.S. and NATO military operation in Afghanistan since the 2003 invasion? That Moshtarak was a fraud was obvious from the start, a con job that the U.S. media enthusiastically went along with.  

Marjat was billed as a “fortress,” a “city of 80,000” and the Taliban’s “stronghold,” packed with more than 1,000 “hard core fighters.” But as Gareth Porter of the Inter Press Service revealed, Marjat is not even a city, but a district of scattered villages. As the days went by—and civilian deaths passed military casualties—the number of “hard core” fighters declined to 750, then 500, and then maybe 100. In the end, it was barely a skirmish. “Hardly a single gun was captured by NATO forces,” tribal elder and former police chief Abdul Rahman Jan told Time.  

According to Porter, Marjat is “either a few clusters of farmers’ homes or a large agricultural area covering much of the southern Helmand River Valley.” Marjat actually embraces about 125 square miles, an area big enough to simply swallow the 10,000 U.S., NATO and Afghan Army troops assigned to the offensive.  

The area was also billed as the “linchpin of the militants’ logistical and opium-smuggling network.” Marjat is indeed an area with significant poppy cultivation, but according to Julian Mercille, a Lecturer at University College Dublin and an expert on U.S. foreign policy, the Taliban get “only 4 percent of the trade.” Local farmers reap about 21 percent of the $3.4 billion yearly commerce, according to Mercille, while “75 percent of the trade is captured by government officials, the police, local and regional brokers and traffickers.” In short, our allies.  

And the word “linchpin” soon dropped off the radar screen as it became obvious that Operation Moshtarak would not touch the drug trade because it would alienate local farmers, thus sabotaging the goal of winning the “hearts and minds” of residents.  

In some ways the most interesting part of the Marjat operation was a gathering that took place shortly after the “fighting” was over: President Barak Obama called a meeting Mar. 12 in the White House to ask his senior staff and advisors if the “success” of Moshtarak would allow the U.S. to open negotiations with the Taliban. According to Porter, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert Gates opposed talks until after a similar operation aimed at Khandahar is completed this summer. 

The Khandahar offensive is being pumped up as a “blow at the Taliban’s heartland” and the “fulcrum” of the Afghan war. Khandahar is, indeed, where the Taliban got its start and, at 600,000, is Afghanistan’s second largest city. Whether a military operation will have any more impact than the attack on Marjat is highly unlikely. While Time was predicting the Taliban would make a “bloody stand,” the insurgents have never engaged in a standup battle with the U.S. and NATO. As they did in Marjat, they will simply decamp to another area of the country or blend in with the local population. 

However, the White House gathering suggests that the administration may be searching for a way out before the 2012 elections. With the economic crisis at home continuing, and the bill for the war passing $200 billion, Afghanistan is looking more and more like a long tunnel with no light at the end. 

Certainly our allies seem to have concluded that the Americans are on an exit path.  

The Karzai government and the UN have opened talks with some of the Taliban, as well as Gulbuddin Hekmatyar’s Islamic Party. Pakistan—correctly concluding it was being cut out of the peace talks—swept up 14 senior Taliban officials, including the organization’s number two man, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar. 

The Pakistanis claim they are simply aiding the U.S. war effort, but the former head of the UN mission to Afghanistan, Kai Eide, bitterly denounced the arrests as nothing more than effort to derail the on-going negotiations. What seems certain now is that whenever talks do open, the Pakistanis will be at the table. “You cannot achieve stability in Afghanistan without Pakistan,” the country’s Prime Minister, Yusuf Raza Gilani told the Financial Times. 

If Islamabad is in on the talks that means the Taliban will have a presence in whatever peace agreement emerges, a fact that has distressed India. Not only is it likely that India will lose much of its influence with the Karzai government—and see more than a billion dollars in aid go for naught—its traditional enemy, Pakistan, will almost certainly regain much of its former influence with Kabul. “Pakistan wants to exercise tutelage over Afghanistan,” former Indian foreign minister Kanwal Sibal told the Financial Times.  

The push by the U.S. to find a political solution is partly driven by the rapidly eroding NATO presence. The Canadians are sticking by their pledge to be out by 2011, and when the Netherlands tried to raise the possibility of Dutch troops remaining, the government fell. The British Labor Party, behind in the polls but catching up to the Tories, wants to rid itself of the Afghan albatross before upcoming elections and has been supportive of Karzai’s negotiations. 

The U.S. is also discovering that the Afghanis play a mean game of chess. 

When the Obama Administration demanded that the Karzai government reinstate an independent electoral commission, plus end corruption—in particular, dumping the President’s larcenous half brother Ahmed Wali Karzai who runs Khandahar like a feudal fiefdom—the Afghan president flew off to Teheran to embrace the President of Iran, Mahmud Ahmadinejad, and meet with Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Given that the U.S. is trying to isolate Iran in the region, Karzai’s Iran visit was not a happy moment on the Potomac. 

Yet Iran has influence over the Northern Alliance, which will need persuading to accept the Taliban into a coalition. Rather than isolating Iran, Karzai has made it central to a peace agreement that the U.S. and NATO want. 

For the past five years the U.S. has been wooing India as a bulwark against China, but because Washington needs Pakistan to broker a peace, the Americans agreed to send F-16 fighter-bombers, helicopter gun ships, and reconnaissance drones to Islamabad. A better-armed Pakistan, however, hardly goes down well in New Delhi, particularly because the Indians see their former influence in Kabul on the wane.  

So India promptly went off and met with the Russians. Ever sympathetic, Moscow offered New Delhi a bargain basement price on an aircraft carrier and a passel of MIG-29s tossed in. That dealt a blow to another aim of U.S. diplomacy: keeping Russia out of South Asia. 

The same week as Pakistan’s foreign minister was in Washington with a laundry list of goodies for “helping out” in Afghanistan, Karzai jetted off to Beijing to talk about aid and investments. So much for the plan to keep China out of Central Asia. 

This is beginning to look like checker players vs. chess masters. 

But there does seems to be a developing consensus that the war must wind down. If that is the direction, than the Karzai government’s upcoming “peace jirga,” set for late April or early May, takes on greater importance.  

While the administration appears to be divided over how, when, and with whom to negotiate, “withdrawing” doesn’t mean the U.S. won’t leave bases behind or end its efforts to penetrate Central Asia. The White House recently announced an agreement with Kyrgyzstan to set up a U.S. “counter-terrorism center” near the Chinese border. 

The danger at this juncture is seeing peace talks as a zero-sum game: if Pakistan gains, India loses; if the U.S. withdraws, the Taliban win; if Iran is helpful it will encourage nuclear proliferation. 

The bottom line in Afghanistan is the Afghans. What they want, and how they get it, is not the business of Washington, Brussels, New Delhi, Teheran, or Islamabad. The “graveyard of empires” has claimed far more Afghan lives than those of the invaders. As U.S. Afghan commander Stanley McCrystal told the New York Times, “We have shot an astounding number of people.” 

Indeed, we have. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


New: Senior Power: "Old People Don't Read Books"

By Helen Rippier Wheeler
Sunday April 18, 2010 - 06:53:00 PM

The Rippowam River rushed by at the foot of our dank street, or, depending on the season, gurgled its way to Long Island Sound. I would sit on the stone embankment overlooking the water, ignoring the garter snakes in the crevices. The Ferguson Public Library children’s room was another 1932 shelter. Story hour was held in a separate room with a large picture window. I played stamping books, using a piece of black crayon stuck on the end of a protractor. It slipped off, jamming crayon into my palm, still imbedded there in a tattoo effect.  

Saturday mornings, a few years later, I headed for the story hour in a corner of the Freeport Memorial Library’s crowded basement workroom. I read all the twins books, written and illustrated by Lucy Fitch Perkins. Kit and Kat began as The Dutch Twins (1911), metamorphosed into Scottish, American, Belgian, Chinese, Colonial, Eskimo, Irish, Italian, and Japanese stories. Then came Helen Dore Boylston’s Sue Barton, Nurse series –- senior nurse, staff nurse, visiting nurse. These books can be borrowed in your behalf from nearby libraries participating in the free Link system.  

Seventy-three year old Gail Sheehy’s books on life and the life cycle continue the theme of passages through life's stages. She refers to "Second Adulthood." Her 2006 book and CD, Sex and the Seasoned Woman: Pursuing the passionate life reveal a hidden cultural phenomenon: a surge of vitality in women's sex and love lives after age 50.  

I first encountered Berkeley author Dorothy Bryant via her 1972 literary landmark. Ella Price’s Journal is a novel in diary form of a woman who returns to school after 15 years of marriage and begins to see her carefully-structured world in an unexpected and unwelcome light. I asked Bryant about her current reading. Kay Ryan’s The Best of It, New and Selected Poems. She prefers lesser known books recommended by friends, e.g. Judith Freeman’s Red Water. Old movies on DVD satisfy the ‘recreational urge.’ When she knows what she wants, she requests it online and it is brought to South Branch public library. For browsing, she stops regularly at Central.  

Best-selling Berkeley author Theodore Roszak was turned down by 20 major publishers, reports Avis Worthington. When he proposed his The Making of an Elder Culture; Reflections on the Future of America’s Most Audacious Generation, they informed him, “Old people don’t read books.” It was published by New Society Publishers in 2009.  

Ever noticed that the central character in many biographies and novels is influenced by a public library or library staff-member? -- Goodbye, Columbus --. The novel and motion picture of A tree grows in Brooklyn. -- Perhaps because children are central to Dear Miss Breed :True stories of the Japanese American incarceration during World War II … , it has generally been assigned to children’s collections, but it is a book for everyone. (See July 31, 2007 BDPlanet.) 

The 1956 motion picture, Storm Center (1956, 85m, Columbia Pictures), is about a small-town library administrator who refuses to withdraw a controversial book from the shelves. She is labeled a Communist by local politicians (City Council members…), loses her job, and becomes an outcast in the community. Bette Davis plays the doomed librarian. Banned Books Week in 2010 will be September 25−October 2. The World Catalog lists a Storm Center dvd distributed by Sony Pictures Television… 

The word “FREE” in many USA libraries’ names (Free Library of Philadelphia, Mono County Free Library, Enoch Pratt Free Library of Baltimore, etc.) is not mere happenstance. They were founded for the public, not as “subscription” libraries.  

The University of California, Berkeley used to grant library circulation privileges to senior citizens. No longer. Governor Palin’s dubious public library involvement is not surprising. Patrons’ taxes contribute largely to American public libraries’ budgets. A children’s room has long been part of a public library’s building and program, dating back to inception of the Carnegie libraries; YP (young people, teenagers) collections and activities were later introduced. Now, more than ever, elders are dependent on our free public libraries.  

The Alameda County Library has created “Older Adult Services,” a brochure highlighting current programs. Special library materials that may interest older adults, caregivers and others include large-print books, audio books and videos (standard, close-captioned and descriptive). Trained volunteers bring library materials to homebound persons. Generations On Line is an easy-to-use program designed to introduce seniors to the Internet and email with step-by-step directions, available at Alameda County Library locations.  

It’s a good thing. Berkeley Public Library’s senior discount on overdue charges. So are the large-print collections of fiction (science fiction, mysteries,) nonfiction (biography, The Weekly New York Times,) and reference books (dictionaries, thesauri). They can be accessed using subject heading LARGE TYPE BOOKS. The BPL Outreach person is Colleen Fawley (510) 981-6160. I know from experience that she has magical insights into what subjects and books, magazines and nonprint media will interest someone who is briefly or indefinitely unable to get to the Library. She selects, delivers, and subsequently picks them up. Specific titles and subjects can be requested, and she will bring them to you soonest. Alas, “budgetary constraints” will likely shorten her hours.  

I am weary of the media’s representation of shush libraries, and of praise heaped on library architecture that has little to do with accessing books and information, and of bureaucrats’ appointment of acceptable personalities to serve on library boards and to liaison with them.  

For your consideration:  

Berkeley Repertory Theatre package options include special discounts on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday matinees for persons who are “at least 65”.  

 

*** 

CALL TO CONFIRM:  

When: Tuesday, April 20, 2010. 11 A.M.-noon 

What: Director’s Roundtable Discussion 

Where: North Berkeley Senior Center, 1901 Hearst@ MLK 

Details: NBSC director Larry Taylor meets with seniors  

For more info: (510) 981-5190 

 

When: Wednesday, April 21, 2010. 1:30 P.M.  

What: Berkeley Commission on Aging meeting.  

Where: South Berkeley Senior Center, 2939 Ellis @ Ashby  

For more info: (510) 981-5170 

 

 

Helen Rippier Wheeler can be reached at pen136@dslextreme.com  

Please, no email attachments; use “Senior Power” for subject. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Arts & Events

Arts Calendar

Thursday April 15, 2010 - 04:37:00 PM

For all kinds of arts events this week and in the future, check berkeleyartsfestival.com


San Francisco Symphony Presents Charlie Chaplin's 'Gold Rush' In All its Glory

By Justin DeFreitas
Wednesday April 14, 2010 - 10:33:00 PM

At first glance, the silent slapstick comedy and the epic would appear to be incompatible. The latter requires a grand scale and heroism to match, while the former is essentially a chamber piece, a small, tightly framed story of a ridiculous clown.  

But two of cinema's greatest actor-directors saw a way to merge the two forms and did so nearly simultaneously. Buster Keaton released his Civil War comedy The General in 1926, while Charlie Chaplin released The Gold Rush one year earlier.  

True to form, Keaton transformed his epic into an action comedy, a kinetic, stunt-laden chase filmed on location and almost entirely outdoors. Chaplin likewise stayed true to his brand of comedy and, after setting the tone with a dramatic opening sequence shot in the snow-packed Sierras, returned his epic to the calmer, more controlled confines of the studio, the intimacy of interiors better serving his character's quieter, more personal dimensions.  

The San Francisco Symphony will present Chaplin's epic on the scale it deserves this week, accompanying the film with the comedian's own score, composed for the film's 1942 reissue.  

The Gold Rush came at something of a crossroads in Chaplin's career. After nearly a decade as the screen's most beloved figure, he was running out of steam.  

Chaplin had broken out of Mack Sennett's stable of knockabout comedians in 1914 and had gone solo with a series of films made for the East Bay's Essanay Film Manufacturing Company, in the town of Niles, near Fremont. With these films Chaplin firmly established the Little Tramp in the popular consciousness and became the famous man in the world. He then signed with Mutual and made a dozen more short films that many critics still consider his best work. After fulfilling the Mutual contract, he signed with First National, where he was able to produce films at a slower, more thoughtful rate, further developing his unique and innovative blend of slapstick and pathos, exemplified by his first feature-length masterpiece, The Kid.  

It was during this period that Chaplin joined with friends Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford and the preeminent director of the day, D.W. Griffith, to form United Artists. The filmmakers would now control the marketing and distribution of their work rather than signing away all their rights to studio bosses.  

But Chaplin still had a contract to finish for First National, and as he spent more and more time on each film, his United Artists debut was delayed and delayed again. When it finally came, it was a most unusual production for the world's best-loved comedian.  

The First National period had been a trying time, and Chaplin had grown weary of comedy and of the Little Tramp and was in search of new means of expression. The result, A Woman of Paris, is a drama; there is no slapstick comedy, and Chaplin himself does not appear, but for a heavily disguised cameo as a railroad porter. It was Chaplin's first foray into pure drama, as well as an attempt to establish his longtime co-star Edna Purviance as an independent dramatic actress. Though the film was a critical success and highly influential due to its sophistication and subtlety, audiences did not take kindly to it.  

But it gave Chaplin the respite he needed, and when he returned to comedy, he was revitalized.  

Chaplin modified his Tramp character for The Gold Rush, highlighting his innocence, virtue and humanity and shelving his more anarchic, troublemaking instincts. The film as a whole has a more melancholy tone that Chaplin's previous work, dwelling on loneliness and isolation amid a cold and unforgiving landscape.  

Yet amid these circumstances, Chaplin created some of his most enduring comic scenes, comedy which stems from the character and his circumstances. Deprivation and hunger leads to the famous scene where Chaplin expertly boils a boot and sits down to dinner with his fellow prospector, coiling shoelaces on a fork like spaghetti; and to the scene where his companion hallucinates that Charlie is a chicken, chasing him around the cabin. And the film's most stirring scene begins with the Tramp's rejection by the girl of his fancy, when he imagines the party that would have been had she and her friends not stood him up. Stabbing two forks into dinner rolls, Chaplin creates a funny and sweetly sad scene where the Tramp entertains his imaginary companions with a deft and charming dance in miniature.  

(The dance of the dinner rolls was not purely Chaplin's invention; the silent comedians often borrowed and built upon each other's gags. The first screen incarnation of the dinner rolls dance was performed by Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle in his 1917 short film The Rough House, which co-starred Arbuckle's friend and collaborator, Buster Keaton. Arbuckle's version was purely comic, however, whereas Chaplin imbued the routine with poetry through his signature blend of humor and pathos.)  

Despite the somber tone of the film, The Gold Rush is one of the few Chaplin films with a happy ending. For once, the Tramp not only got the girl, but got the fortune as well. Chaplin struggled against it, but the logic of the story simply would not allow anything different. But he was more than satisfied; upon its release, he said The Gold Rush was the film for which he hoped to be remembered.  

Still, he wasn't above tinkering with it. Nearly two decades later, well into the sound era, Chaplin reissued the film, but not without some significant changes. Not only did he replace the intertitles with his own narration, he reedited the film as well, cutting one subplot and changing a few details, including the elimination of the closing kiss between the Tramp and Georgia. Perhaps it seemed too sentimental in retrospect, or maybe Chaplin wasn't quite as comfortable with the happy ending as he had been years earlier.  

Many prefer the original silent version of the film, disagreeing with Chaplin's revisions or finding his narration intrusive. But the one inarguable improvement Chaplin made to The Gold Rush was its score.  

The advent of sound in the late 1920s meant that for the first time Chaplin could have absolute control over the scoring of his films. In the silent era, most films featured scores improvised by the musicians working at each theater—sometimes a full orchestra, sometimes a single organist or pianist. The new technology allowed Chaplin to compose his own scores and oversee their recording, thus filling the only remaining gap in his auteurist resume.  

Chaplin would compose the scores for his future films, but he also composed scores for all the silent films to which he owned the rights; that is, everything he had done for First National and United Artists. The music, however, may not be quite what you’d expect from silent comedy. It has none of the clichéd bumps and whistles that pedestrian musicians so often use to accompany visual comedy. From Chaplin’s autobiography:

I tried to compose elegant and romantic music to frame my comedies in contrast to the tramp character, for elegant music gave my comedies an emotional dimension. Musical arrangers rarely understood this. They wanted the music to be funny. But I would explain that I wanted no competition, I wanted the music to be a counterpoint of grace and charm, to express sentiment, without which, as Hazlitt says, a work of art is incomplete.
Because Chaplin's films, as per his estate, must be screened with his orchestral scores, modern audiences who wish to see the Tramp on the big screen are often cheated of one of the essential pleasures of silent film: live musical accompaniment. Most theaters do not have the resources to bring in a 60-piece orchestra for every screening, and must therefore rely on Chaplin's prerecorded score.  

Thus the San Francisco Symphony's performances provide a rare opportunity to see The Gold Rush in all its glory.  

The San Francisco Symphony will accompany Charlie Chaplin's The Gold Rush with the comedian's original score at 2 p.m. Thursday, April 15; 8 p.m. Friday, April 16; and at 2 p.m. Saturday, April 17 at Davies Symphony Hall, 201 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco. (415) 864-6000. www.sfsymphony.org . 

 


Berkeley Arts Festival Will Use the New Magnes Museum Building in May

By Bonnie Hughes
Wednesday April 14, 2010 - 04:31:00 PM

Hooray! The Berkeley Arts Festival finally has a home thanks to the Judah L. Magnes Museum. They are generously letting us use the space at 2121 Allston Way where they will move from their Russell Street location in 2011. We will be there for the entire month of May. With little lead time for scheduling we ask you to check this space regularly for newly scheduled events. We will open with a concert by pianist Sarah Cahill on May 1. Among others taking part in the Festival will be John Schott, Dan Plonsey, Jerry Kuderna, Dean Santomieri, Graham Connagh, Bill Crossman and India Cooke, and many, many more.  

 

The full May schedule: 

 

1 — Opening Concert: Pianist Sarah Cahill 

2 — Dazzling Divas Pamela Connelly, Kathleen Moss and Eliza OMalley and pianist Hadley McCarroll 

5, 6 & 7 — Return of John Schott's Typical Orchestra with Steve Adams, John Hanes, and Dan Seamans 

7 — Pianist Jerry Kuderna lunch concert, noon 

9 — India Cooke-Bill Crossman Duo, improv and compositions for violin and piano 

12 — Poetry reading Peter Dale Scott, Chana Bloch, Diana O'Hehir, Sandra Gilbert, 7:30pm 

14 — Kuderna lunch concert, noon 

14 — Berkeley CO and War Resisters Film Night 

15 — Jerry Kuderna, piano and Anna Carole Dudley 

19 — Dean Santomieri, multimedia with Julie Oxendale 

21 — Kuderna lunch concert, noon 

21 — Steve Adams-John Hanes ambient duo with video projections 

25 — Graham Connah's "Ted 'Lachrymose' Brinkley's Horrnblower Cruise" big band and glee club 

26 — Sarah Wilson Quintet with John Schott, Sheldon Brown, Jordan Glenn and Lisa Mezzacappa 

27 — The D'Armous Boone Experience 

28 — Kuderna lunch concert, noon 

28 — Phillip Greenlief's Citti di vitti with John Hanes and Lisa Mezzacappa 

30 — Dan Ploney's Daniel Popsickle--Bar Mitzvah and Pekar Opera 

31 — Arnie Passman's Ghandi Tribute 

 

All at 8 pm unless otherwise noted  

 


Ibsen at the Aurora: John Gabriel Bortman

By Ken Bullock
Wednesday April 14, 2010 - 03:44:00 PM

A man, holed up in a room above the parlor of his home after a financial scandal, once so popular the whole country called him by his first name. Twin sisters who have loved him, one his bitter wife, competing for the loyalty of his gay blade son, himself led in tow by a young widow. The shamed man's last loyal ally, an awkward, would-be poet, the only one who visits him in his upstairs exile ...A man, holed up in a room above the parlor of his home after a financial scandal, once so popular the whole country called him by his first name. Twin sisters who have loved him, one his bitter wife, competing for the loyalty of his gay blade son, himself led in tow by a young widow. The shamed man's last loyal ally, an awkward, would-be poet, the only one who visits him in his upstairs exile ... 

A quick look at the dramatis personae of John Gabriel Borkman , now onstage at the Aurora, directed by Barbara Oliver, could give the impression of a soap opera, or something on the borders of burlesque melodrama, even camp, like a Douglas Sirk flick ... 

But John Gabriel is a late Ibsen piece, something which plays off melodrama, the popular theater that ran on the bigger-than-life talents of the "cabotin" (hammy, grandiose) actors of the 19th century. It milks the tangled plot in a different way, with all the poetic imagination and ear for language Ibsen had tamed to focus on everyday reality, the truth of social and personal relationships, and of individuals' sense of themselves, showing them flirting with melodrama and purple poetry in their endless avowals of high purpose to others and themselves. 

The scene which best displays this side of Ibsen's prodigious talent in Aurora's production is Wilhelm's visit to the solitary John Gabriel, by turns diffident, problematic and strangely humorous. Jack Powell—an excellent character actor, native to the Bay Area, not seen on local stages enough—shines as the loyal, puzzled poet manqué, and brings out the best in that fine actor James Carpenter as John Gabriel himself, the impenitent lone wolf. Powell appears again, just as brilliantly, near the end, after getting run over by a sleigh speeding away with his daughter, unbeknownst to him, accompanying young Erhart Borkman and his merry widow, Mrs. Wilton, to some vague picture of happiness outside the dire tale that has unfolded onstage. 

This close-knit drama of ambiguity, of what's said and unsaid, of what has happened in the past or is often acted out offstage, is too elusive yet wordy for some. Indeed, one reviewer complained that, despite a fine production, the play hadn't aged well. 

But the problem with John Gabriel at the Aurora isn't Ibsen's. Riding on anachronism, on a parallelism between Borkman's dream of power that leads to disaster and Bernie Madoff, the Aurora production may have assumed a facileness of interpretation that skirted the intricacies of what Ibsen clearly intended in his scrutiny of middle class souls in a capitalistic society with an ostensibly individualist culture. 

Despite the presence onstage of three distinguished actors—Carpenter , whose success in the Aurora's production of Ibsen's Master Builder a few years back raised expectations for John Gabriel ; Karen Grassle as Mrs. Borkman and Karen Lewis, whom theatergoers may recall as Karen Ingenthron at Berkeley Rep early on—the show ironically slides into the melodrama Ibsen merely flirted with. There's little real irony onstage here, and the acting is oddly stiff, even when it seems to get florid. A perfectly good snowstorm, one of the set-pieces of the Victorian period (The Little Matchgirl, Way Down East , among others), is wasted. There's not even a good cry for the audience. 

David Eldridge's clumsy, over-wordy adaptation doesn't help in the struggle toward theater. Besides pursuing false cognates, the overwrought attempt to preserve elaborate, antiquated forms of address misses the point of the actual, colloquial meaning—past and present—of much of the text, not to mention what's left unsaid ... again, Ibsen's famous irony. 

It doesn't help scenes like the opening one, when the Nordic diffidence of one woman's grave entry into another's parlor and the slow cat-and-mouse game they play like two over-polite strangers, before the audience realizes with a jolt midway what their true, intimate relationship is, and what they want from each other, is reduced in its gravity by overly elaborated lines, meant to convey stuffy platitudes, that have to be recited in moderate tempo like chit-chat to make it through a 25-minute scene without losing the audience completely. (If the tempo had been stepped up, maybe it could have drawn a laugh or two as a Norweigen Ionesco.) There's a difference between a play that hasn't aged well and a masterpiece that isn't translated and adapted for a very different audience's expectations over a century after its debut. 

(The stage direction of the first scene doesn't help either, with the dragging, yet distracted, quality of the dialogue overly offset by a funny centrifugal force: Borkman's eerie, solitary presence upstairs, meant to be conveyed by occasional sounds, inference and references in the women's dialogue, shown upstage on a split-level set of his room, with Carpenter, an actor with real presence, distracting from the women's scene together by doing nothing.) 

Besides Powell's personal triumph as Wilhelm, Carpenter's scene with him and occasional moments with Lewis that at least touch on pathos, only Pamela Gaye Walker as wry, sly Mrs. Wilton gets any traction with the ingenuously presented entropy Ibsen meant to anatomize. Aaron Wilton is miscast as empty and unconsciously hurtful butterfly Erhart. 

It's a difficult play, but—except in flashes—one might not even divine that from Aurora's sad production. 

 

 

A quick look at the dramatis personae of John Gabriel Borkman , now onstage at the Aurora, directed by Barbara Oliver, could give the impression of a soap opera, or something on the borders of burlesque melodrama, even camp, like a Douglas Sirk flick ... 

But John Gabriel is a late Ibsen piece, something which plays off melodrama, the popular theater that ran on the bigger-than-life talents of the "cabotin" (hammy, grandiose) actors of the 19th century. It milks the tangled plot in a different way, with all the poetic imagination and ear for language Ibsen had tamed to focus on everyday reality, the truth of social and personal relationships, and of individuals' sense of themselves, showing them flirting with melodrama and purple poetry in their endless avowals of high purpose to others and themselves. 

The scene which best displays this side of Ibsen's prodigious talent in Aurora's production is Wilhelm's visit to the solitary John Gabriel, by turns diffident, problematic and strangely humorous. Jack Powell—an excellent character actor, native to the Bay Area, not seen on local stages enough—shines as the loyal, puzzled poet manqué, and brings out the best in that fine actor James Carpenter as John Gabriel himself, the impenitent lone wolf. Powell appears again, just as brilliantly, near the end, after getting run over by a sleigh speeding away with his daughter, unbeknownst to him, accompanying young Erhart Borkman and his merry widow, Mrs. Wilton, to some vague picture of happiness outside the dire tale that has unfolded onstage. 

This close-knit drama of ambiguity, of what's said and unsaid, of what has happened in the past or is often acted out offstage, is too elusive yet wordy for some. Indeed, one reviewer complained that, despite a fine production, the play hadn't aged well. 

But the problem with John Gabriel at the Aurora isn't Ibsen's. Riding on anachronism, on a parallelism between Borkman's dream of power that leads to disaster and Bernie Madoff, the Aurora production may have assumed a facileness of interpretation that skirted the intricacies of what Ibsen clearly intended in his scrutiny of middle class souls in a capitalistic society with an ostensibly individualist culture. 

Despite the presence onstage of three distinguished actors—Carpenter , whose success in the Aurora's production of Ibsen's Master Builder a few years back raised expectations for John Gabriel ; Karen Grassle as Mrs. Borkman and Karen Lewis, whom theatergoers may recall as Karen Ingenthron at Berkeley Rep early on—the show ironically slides into the melodrama Ibsen merely flirted with. There's little real irony onstage here, and the acting is oddly stiff, even when it seems to get florid. A perfectly good snowstorm, one of the set-pieces of the Victorian period (The Little Matchgirl, Way Down East , among others), is wasted. There's not even a good cry for the audience. 

David Eldridge's clumsy, over-wordy adaptation doesn't help in the struggle toward theater. Besides pursuing false cognates, the overwrought attempt to preserve elaborate, antiquated forms of address misses the point of the actual, colloquial meaning—past and present—of much of the text, not to mention what's left unsaid ... again, Ibsen's famous irony. 

It doesn't help scenes like the opening one, when the Nordic diffidence of one woman's grave entry into another's parlor and the slow cat-and-mouse game they play like two over-polite strangers, before the audience realizes with a jolt midway what their true, intimate relationship is, and what they want from each other, is reduced in its gravity by overly elaborated lines, meant to convey stuffy platitudes, that have to be recited in moderate tempo like chit-chat to make it through a 25-minute scene without losing the audience completely. (If the tempo had been stepped up, maybe it could have drawn a laugh or two as a Norweigen Ionesco.) There's a difference between a play that hasn't aged well and a masterpiece that isn't translated and adapted for a very different audience's expectations over a century after its debut. 

(The stage direction of the first scene doesn't help either, with the dragging, yet distracted, quality of the dialogue overly offset by a funny centrifugal force: Borkman's eerie, solitary presence upstairs, meant to be conveyed by occasional sounds, inference and references in the women's dialogue, shown upstage on a split-level set of his room, with Carpenter, an actor with real presence, distracting from the women's scene together--by doing nothing.) 

Besides Powell's personal triumph as Wilhelm, Carpenter's scene with him and occasional moments with Lewis that at least touch on pathos, only Pamela Gaye Walker as wry, sly Mrs. Wilton gets any traction with the ingenuously presented entropy Ibsen meant to anatomize. Aaron Wilton is miscast as empty and unconsciously hurtful butterfly Erhart. 

It's a difficult play, but--except in flashes--one might not even divine that from Aurora's sad production. 

 


The Poor Players at the City Club Next Week

By Ken Bullock
Wednesday April 14, 2010 - 04:52:00 PM

"A comedy about a missing dog ... a delayed dinner ... an elderly teenager ... the young at heart ... domestic chaos ..." 

Poor Players, a local company that unfortunately makes good on its name, giving us too little—and that, too briefly—of a very good thing, is at last mounting another production at the Berkeley City Club, 8 p. m. Wednesday April 21st through Sunday the 25th only (though with matinees at 2 as well as evening shows on the weekend), with the debut of James Keller's "Comedy of Bad Manners," Good Housekeeping—which has the delicious twist of not only featuring Berkeley actress Martha Luhrmanm in the part inspired by herself (inspired's the word; she doesn't play herself), but also the playwright—who directs, as well—onstage in a recognizable role: a playwright, invited to dinner, who has just cast his hostess. 

Keller, an excellent and prolific playwright (about 50 originals and adaptations), was once featured at theaters like the Magic in San Francisco and elsewhere around the country. These days, to our good fortune, he mostly produces and directs his own, highly enjoyable shows, in short runs at intimate venues like the City Club. It'll be gone before you know it; don't miss it! $15-$20. (925) 473-1363; www.poorplayers.org  


Nordic Mysteries: The Millenium Trilogy

By Ralph Stone
Thursday April 15, 2010 - 11:25:00 AM

I recently saw "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," based on Swedish mystery writer Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy. The other two books are "The Girl Who Played with Fire" and "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest." The movie and the book introduce Lisbeth Salander, played by Swedish actress Noomi Rapace. She is a unique figure in fiction. She is Goth-like in appearance, autistic and bisexual with a distrust of authority, an amazing ability with a computer, a photographic memory and astonishing physical courage, and while not physically attractive, is sexually appealing to both men and women. And yes, she has a large tattoo of a dragon on her back. She is a rare example of a feminist heroine who doesn't hate men, just men who hate women. Throughout the Trilogy, Larsson weaves in her background of childhood abuse and violence. My minor quibble with Ms. Rapace is that she is too pretty. But otherwise, Ms. Rapace and Michael Nyqvist, who plays Mikael Blomkvist, the other main character, are well cast.  

 

The book has two main story lines: a missing person mystery and a complicated corporate corruption case. The movie dwells primarily on the missing person story line while giving short shrift to the latter story line. This is understandable given the 2-1/2 hour length of the movie. It would have made a terrific TV series to cover both story lines completely. 

 

The second and third books of the Trilogy were shot back-to-back for television and will be released separately as movies. Rumor has it that Hollywood will remake the movies, possibly starring George Clooney as Blomkvist and "Twilight" star Kristen Stewart as Salander.  

 

What is compelling about the Trilogy is the complex characters, the fast-paced story telling with interesting plots and sub-plots. The books are long and very political. With a background as an investigative reporter, Larsson brings a knowledge of the inner workings of the Swedish police, its intelligence service, and private security companies. Larsson has been called a revolutionary socialist. 

 

Larsson delivered the three books to his publisher, envisioning a series of books. Supposedly, he had started on a fourth book and wrote outlines for six more. Will someone finish the fourth book? Unfortunately, just as they were editing and translating the books, he died of an apparent heart attack in November 2004. he never knew that his Trilogy would become a worldwide publishing phenomenon. The first two books are best sellers in the United States. The third book will be published here next month. I couldn't wait to read the third book so I ordered it from Amazon UK. So far the books have sold more than 27 million copies in 42 countries with sales of almost $43 million, not including income from the television and movie versions.  

 

Unfortunately, Eva Gabrielsson, his partner of 32 years, is not benefitting from the success. Because they were not married and he died without a will, Larsson's estate was divided between Erland and Joakim Larsson, his father and brother. Ms. Gabrielsson receives no income from the sales of Larsson's books. She refused $2.27 million to settle her claim. Rather, she is seeking one percent of the proceeds. There is some question as to what role, if any, Ms. Gabrielsson played in the writing of the books. Did she write them, help write them, or edit them? She is not saying. We will have to wait for the publication of her tell-all book. 

 

If you are a mystery buff, I highly recommend reading the Trilogy. They are terrific reads. Nordic crime fiction has become enormously successful the last several years. They are characterized by plain, direct writing, devoid of metaphor. They expose the underside of the cradle-to-grave Scandinavian welfare system. Besides Larsson, I have enjoyed Henning Mankell (Sweden) and Jo Nesbo (Norway) and, of course, Per Wahloo and Maj Sjowall, a Swedish couple, whose ten-volume Martin Beck series (1965-1975) were a great influence on rising Scandinavian mystery writers.  

 

And many of the Nordic mysteries have been made into movies and television series. I've watched dramatizations on MHz Worldwide Presents (KCSM Channel 43) of "Varg Veum" based on the series of crime novels by Norwegian mystery writer Gunnar Staalesen and Mankell's books. In 2008 BBC adapted a few of Mankell's books starring Kenneth Branagh as Kurt Wallander. 

 

See the movie and read the Millennium Trilogy. You won't be disappointed. 

 


Pedro Costa's Fontainhas

By Justin DeFreitas
Thursday April 15, 2010 - 08:17:00 AM

Pedro Costa's Ossos marked a turning point in the his career, the moment when the Portuguese director found his subject matter if not his voice. 

In the impoverished Fontainhas district of Lisbon, Costa found a captivating world, an abandoned neighborhood full of nearly forgotten people leading lives of deprivation and desperation. With its narrow passageways, jagged concrete walls and piles of rubble and debris, it was a grim but highly cinematic environment. 

Costa sought a spare, minimalist approach and employed nonprofessional actors, actual residents of Fontainhas, in an elliptical tale of desperate youth. A young, suicidal mother turns her newborn child over to its highly untrustworthy father. Not only is he incapable of caring for it, he is willing to sell it. Costa keeps his camera quiet and watchful, often still, and insists that his actors remain just as quiet. The approach results in moments of poignancy, its spare but strong imagery of enigmatic faces at times packing a solid emotional punch. But though this fiercely enforced structure has the capacity for affecting, even haunting scenes, it teeters on the brink of monotony, its rigid rules and design verging on a caricature of minimalist arthouse cinema.  

Costa had his own problems with the production. He felt that the trappings of standard moviemaking techniques were inappropriate for the Fontainhas district, and that his team of cameramen, crew and assistants overwhelmed the neighborhood and the film itself. He had run up against the limits film as an industry and found that its artifice obstructed his art. So Costa self-corrected, and for his next two Fontainhas films, In Vanda's Room and Colossal Youth, he stripped the operation down to the bone — just Costa, his camera and his actors. He unleashed the actors as well; this time they not only spoke in complete sentences, but he allowed them — real-life residents of Fontainhas — to show him how life was lived in their world.  

In these films, his camera is less obtrusive, the performances less mannered, producing a more engaging and complete portrait of the since-leveled slum. The result is a unique cinematic vision that is spare and unsparing, that tempers its minimalism with naturalism, its verité with poetry. 

 

Letters from Fontainhas: Three Films by Pedro Costa 

Ossos, (1997), 97 minutes. 

In Vanda's Room (2000), 171 minutes. 

Colossal Youth (2006), 156 minutes. 

Plus 200 minutes of supplemental materials, including interviews with Costa, commentaries by Costa and Jean-Pierre Gorin, documentaries and short films. $79.95. www.criterion.com.