Solutionism Reigns in Berkeley

By Becky O'Malley
Wednesday March 30, 2011 - 09:42:00 AM

When I was toiling in the high tech vineyards in the go-go 90s, the buzz word (the successor to the 60s “plastics”) was “solutions”. Everyone was selling solutions—no one cared much about problems. That mentality is still around, even though many solutions which are tried fail because the problems never materialize as anticipated.

Solutionism is alive and well in Berkeley today, as always more than a few beats behind the measure in reflecting social trends. Last night’s Berkeley City Council meeting illustrated how the process operates.

For example, take the current push to convert industrial space in West Berkeley to high tech office-oriented developments, spearheaded by a collusion between the moribund Berkeley Chamber of Commerce, the big West Berkeley property owners and the aging pols whose campaigns they’ve funded—with the whole process orchestrated by the city’s clueless Economic Development and Planning Departments. Another act in this on-going soap opera played out at the meeting. -more-

The Editor's Back Fence

New: Berkeley City Manager Targets Citizen Commissions--Again

Sunday April 03, 2011 - 09:48:00 AM

Berkeley City Manager Phil Kamlarz and his staff want to get rid of some of Berkeley’s citizen commissions, according to a story in Sunday’s printed San Francisco Chronicle, which will not be available online until Tuesday. His excuse this time: Berkeley’s budget crunch—a total cost of about $1 million to run all commissions which Kamlarz cited in 2008 is quoted in the article, weighed against a projected budget shortfall of about $12 million. But it’s no secret in Berkeley that the unpaid but mouthy citizen commissions have always been a thorn in the side of Berkeley politicos of all stripes and of the paid staff who work under Kamlarz’ direction. -more-


Cartoon Page: Odd Bodkins, BOUNCE

Tuesday March 29, 2011 - 10:44:00 PM

Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

Tuesday March 29, 2011 - 10:02:00 PM
Two images of Warren McKenna, as a young man, and more recently

Remembering Warren McKenna; Government Education is an Oxymoron; Football Safety Hearings; Stonewalled by Stonemountain; Berkeley High School and the Lack of Shops; Obama Didn't Tell the Full Story; New Beginning? -more-

Public Concerns Brushed Aside as Berkeley City Council Approves Claremont Branch Renovation Contract With No Questions Answered, No Discussion

By Peter Warfield
Wednesday March 30, 2011 - 01:39:00 PM

Berkeley’s City Council voted last night, March 29, 2011, to award a contract valued at up to $3.3 million for a Claremont Branch Library renovation that will degrade library service to the public there for a generation or more, substantially reducing shelving for books and materials, decreasing floor space for the public, eliminating the current separate reference desks for children and adults that are apart from a busy circulation desk, and other changes. The vote was unanimous as part of the consent calendar. -more-

Toto! Are We in Kansas?

Winston Burton, Board of Library Trustee
Tuesday March 29, 2011 - 06:35:00 PM

I’m in a dream or maybe a nightmare. The Board of Library Trustees, Berkeley Public Library staff , the City Council and even community members are being berated by the Tea Party and the Birthers, and misinformation is being masqueraded as the truth. Are they going after Obama? No! It’s the library plan to develop safe, up to date and more spacious branch libraries. I realize that I’m actually awake and a few individuals are presenting themselves as speaking for the people, while attempting to deny and negate a transparent process – endorsed by a substantial representation of the community, supported by their words, presence and their actions. A contentious few seem to continuously want to slow or derail the much anticipated upgrade and construction of the 4 branch libraries, by any means possible, although most of them don’t even live in the neighborhoods they are obstructing. -more-

Open Letters to Berkeley School District Officials Re BUSD Transportation Policy

By Kasey Harboe Guentert, David Alumbaugh
Tuesday March 29, 2011 - 07:38:00 PM

I am writing to advocate for the addition of a policy within the Transportation group at BUSD. The policy I am requesting would read something to this effect:

1. If children are placed in schools outside of their home zones when they requested only schools within their home zones, transportation will bus these children to the schools in which they were placed.

2. If a critical mass of children are in this situation defined above – a dedicated bus will take them from the zone to the school so as not to place unreasonable travel time burdens on our children beyond the home zone. -more-

On PGE's Bogus Opt-out Option

By Steve Martinot
Tuesday March 29, 2011 - 07:01:00 PM

PGE has proposed an opt-out option that is not one. On March 10, the PUC directed PGE to develop an alternative to Smartmeter installation, in response to the massive upheaval and objection against the Smartmeters that has emerged throughout California (over 35 local governments, including Berkeley, have banned or called for the banning of these Smartmeters, pending further study). PGE came up with a plan last Thursday (March 24). But in their plan, they have ignored what people have been calling for, that is, a non-installation that would leave in place the old analogue meter. Instead, PGE has proposed a modified form of Smartmeter installation. In place of an opt-out plan, it proposes a minor modification of the original plan. But as a minor modification (rather than a non-procedure), it will be associated with major charges to customers. And therein lies a serious element of extortion. -more-

The United States Middle East Foreign Policy Cul-de-sac

By Rizwan A. Rahmani
Wednesday March 30, 2011 - 12:00:00 PM

When the UN resolution against Israeli settlements—which was co-sponsored by 130 countries—came up for a vote and all fourteen members of the Security Council voted for the resolution except for the United States: it vetoed the resolution with a statement that was peculiarly full of absurd logic, contradictions, and balderdash which bordered on inane. And it was not the first time the U.S. found itself alone on a limb on this issue. So why the U.S. is being made to walk this razor sharp knife edge of a Middle East policy, shoeless and bloodied in the process? Moreover, it stuck to its counter intuitive policy at a time when any gesture towards Middle East peace may actually win goodwill for the United States, now that the Middle East is making overtures to democracy all over the region—and the rather incongruous paradox to all the newly kindled democratic fervor is that United States didn’t have to fire a single shot to realize these changes (I realized I spoke too soon after hearing the news of the air attack on Libya). -more-