The Week

Rainbow over City Hall.
Gar Smith
Rainbow over City Hall.


People's Park Chain Massacre Snapped
When Park Good Samaritan Intervenes

By Ted Friedman
Monday April 18, 2011 - 01:05:00 PM

A potential People's Park crime disaster—a man lashing out with a chain in a crowd—was snapped by a good Samaritan park camper late Thursday. -more-

Dick Whittington Plays Piedmont Piano on Monday

By Ken Bullock
Thursday April 14, 2011 - 03:28:00 PM

There's jazz cats ... And in Old London Town there was Dick Whittington and his cats ... Now Dick Whittington's coming back to the East Bay to put it all together at Piedmont Piano in Oakland Uptown. -more-

Students and Faculty Occupy a Building in Protest at California State University East Bay

by David Bacon
Thursday April 14, 2011 - 11:30:00 AM

HAYWARD, CA 4/13/11 -- Students and faculty at California State University, East Bay, marched to the administration building on the campus and then occupied the building in protest. Organized by Students for a Quality Education and the California Faculty Association, the civil disobedience protested budget cuts and fee increases for students, and cutbacks on staff and benefits, while administrators' salaries are increased. -more-

Updated: Planning Commission "Holds Nose" and Adopts Southside Plan

By Steven Finacom
Tuesday April 12, 2011 - 10:13:00 PM
Citizens line up to speak during the Southside Plan Public Hearing.  Most offered specific criticisms of the draft document.  The Planning Commission majority adopted a single one of the recommendations of the public hearing speakers.

Like a hungry restaurant customer deciding to gorge immediately on a stale and possibly rancid dish rather than waiting while it is sent back to the kitchen for improvement or replacement, Berkeley’s Planning Commission majority “held its nose”, complained profusely, then voted in favor of what several members called a flawed draft Southside Plan at its Wednesday, April 6, 2011 meeting. -more-

Berkeley's Animal Care (Humane) Commission to Discuss Shooting of Dog

Wednesday April 13, 2011 - 02:55:00 PM

The City of Berkeley Humane Commission/Animal Care Commission will meet Wed., April 19, at 7 pm at the North Berkeley Senior Center to discuss the shooting of a dog by the Berkeley Police on April 2. -more-

Spy-cam Spied at Berkeley's Cafe Med;
Hotbed of Radicalism Shocked, Shocked;
J.Edgar Hoover Finally Scores

By Ted Friedman
Wednesday April 13, 2011 - 11:57:00 AM
Craig Becker readies for leap of faith. Big Brother--tiny spy-cam--can be seen atop audio speaker.

What a concept. Berkeley's famous Cafe Mediterraneum on-line in videos filmed by the founder of the F.B.I., J. Edgar Hoover.

In a "revoltin development" the Med’s 50 year ban on tourist photography and ESPECIALLY an alphabet soup of spying agencies like F.B.I., C.I.A., C.B.S., N.B.C., O.N.I.--has sputtered. -more-

Local Connections Forgotten
150 Years after Civil War Began

By Steven Finacom
Tuesday April 12, 2011 - 10:22:00 PM
Today, Berkeley’s only identifiable Civil War monument is the Grand Army of the Republic redwood tree on the UC Berkeley campus.  It's the large tree in the center / rear of this photograph.

This seems to be a portentous week in history. The first man went into space 50 years ago as a special Google logo reminds us. Franklin Delano Roosevelt died April 12 in 1945. The Titanic rendezvoused with its fatal iceberg April 15, 1912. -more-

"Here We Are, And We’re Not Going Away” Berkeley’s Ed Roberts Campus Dedicated

By Steven Finacom
Wednesday April 13, 2011 - 12:21:00 PM

A throng of well-wishers turned out on a sunny Saturday, April 9, 2011 to formally dedicate the Ed Roberts Campus adjacent to the Ashby BART station in Berkeley. -more-

Press Release: Chevron Donates $100,000 for U.C. Scholarships

From Mindy Maschmeyer, Project Manager, Marketing & Communications, Cal Alumni Association
Wednesday April 13, 2011 - 11:13:00 AM

At Saturday’s 2011 Charter Gala event honoring United States Secretary of Energy Dr. Steven Chu, the Cal Alumni Association of the University of California, Berkeley announced a partnership with Chevron to promote science, engineering, technology, and math (STEM) education through a contribution of $100,000 to the association’s Achievement Award Program. -more-

Press Release: Berkeley North Branch Library Temporary Closure for Renovations and New Construction

From Alan Bern
Monday April 11, 2011 - 03:23:00 PM

Beginning Monday, April 25, 2011, the North Branch will be closed for approximately 12 to 16 months. -more-

Press Release: Sylvia McLaughlin to be Honored at Berkeley Meadow East Shore Dedication

From Isa Polt-Jones
Friday April 08, 2011 - 04:39:00 PM

The East Bay Regional Park District, in cooperation with California State Parks, will host an Earth Day dedication of the Berkeley Meadow at Eastshore State Park on Saturday, April 16 at 11:30 am. Sylvia McLaughlin, one of the leading community supporters of the park and meadow, will be the guest of honor. East Bay Regional Park District Board Member Whitney Dotson will emcee the event and elected officials including Senator Loni Hancock, Assemblymember Nancy Skinner, and Mayor Tom Bates are scheduled to speak. Following the dedication, staff will lead an interpretive walk in the meadow. -more-

Jerry Brown Is Still Optimistic about Budget

By Janna Brancolini (BCN)
Tuesday April 12, 2011 - 08:47:00 PM

SAN FRANCISCO -- Gov. Jerry Brown expressed optimism today that he can garner Republican support for his plan to help balance the budget with tax extensions, despite months of failed attempts at reaching across the aisle. The $13.5 billion in revenue generated by the tax extensions would be coupled with more than $11 billion in spending cuts passed last month to close a $26 billion budget deficit. -more-

Press Release: Sanders Calls Budget Deal Robin Hood in Reverse

From the office of Senator Bernie Sanders
Tuesday April 12, 2011 - 05:23:00 PM

WASHINGTON, April 12 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said today he will vote against a bill that cuts more than $38 billion from programs that help working families without calling for shared sacrifice by the wealthiest Americans.

Bush-era tax breaks for the very rich were extended and expanded last December – driving up the deficit. “Today, in order to reduce deficits that Republicans helped create, they now are slashing programs of enormous importance to working families, the elderly, the sick and children,” Sanders said. “At a time when the gap between the very rich and everybody else is growing wider, this budget is Robin Hood in reverse. It takes from struggling working families and gives to multi-millionaires. This is obscene.” -more-

Press Release: ACLU Says UC Davis May Have Spied on Student Protesters

From ACLU press office / Debra Reiger
Monday April 11, 2011 - 03:23:00 PM

DAVIS, Ca. – High-ranking University of California, Davis administrators – including several vice chancellors – and campus police may have conspired to monitor and control constitutionally-protected fee hike protests at the university, according to internal documents uncovered by students involved in the demonstrations. -more-

Press Release: Three New Scientific Studies Confirm Lead Poisoning of Wildlife Due to Hunting Ammunition;
Condors, Eagles, Vultures Exposed to Toxic Lead from Hunting

From Jeff Miller, Center for Biological Diversity
Friday April 08, 2011 - 09:59:00 AM

Three new scientific studies by University of California researchers confirm that lead poisoning of endangered California condors and other wildlife is due to scavenging animals ingesting fragments of spent lead hunting ammunition. One study also demonstrated that the 2008 California ban on lead ammunition in condor habitat has been effective in removing lead from the environment, as evidenced by a significant reduction in lead exposure in golden eagles and turkey vultures soon after the new regulation took effect. -more-



Whatever Became of the General Welfare?

By Becky O'Malley
Wednesday April 13, 2011 - 12:12:00 PM

Editorials are supposed to provide answers, but this week all we have for you is questions. What in the name of heaven has happened to (1) this country and (2) this generation?

In the not too distant past, it was assumed by almost everyone that providing respectable free public education was a central responsibility of government. Not only that, it was taken for granted that citizens would pool their resources using the tax system to provide parks both national and local, art museums, swimming pools, zoos—you name it. When I was growing up in St. Louis and California we had all those amenities and more.

Now the concept introduced in the preamble to the Constitution of “promoting the general Welfare” seems to have evaporated, or at least shrunk to unrecognizable dimensions. This is not a Liberal vs. Conservative or Democrat vs. Republican question: It’s much broader than that, and much more serious. -more-


Cartoon Page: Odd Bodkins, BOUNCE

Tuesday April 12, 2011 - 11:17:00 PM

Public Comment

Seismic Safety for Berkeley Students?

By Priscilla Myrick
Wednesday April 13, 2011 - 11:07:00 AM

Recent news reports have highlighted investigations by California Watch on the shocking number of California K-12 schools that are NOT certified as earthquake resistant under the Field Act. As a Berkeley resident I felt confident that the hundreds of millions of dollars in school construction bonds that Berkeley taxpayers are financing had been appropriately spent in making sure that our kids are being taught in properly designed classrooms. -more-

Celebrating Passover at the Post Office on Tax Day (First Person)

Rabbi Sara Shendelman
Monday April 11, 2011 - 04:44:00 PM

In every civilization there are great days on which history turns. In the spring my two cultures come together on a great day of liberation. One day, Passover, reminds of freedom, that we came out as millions fleeing the slavery to a system which took the fruits of our labor. The other, April 15th, is the day our taxes are due with the government taking the fruits of our labor.

I celebrate both full out. At the beginning of April each year there are two simultaneous things happening in my home. There is madcap cleaning, with a list on the fridge of the many jobs and the family members assigned to them. And there is also me, at the computer working with the tallies and receipts which I always wish were done earlier by my spouse every year, so these two stressful events weren’t happening simultaneously. -more-

A Game of Chicken Coming Home to Roost

By Bruce Joffe
Tuesday April 12, 2011 - 09:48:00 PM

The Republicans certainly got my attention today. I kept checking the internet to see if the government was going to shut down or remain functioning. I learned that their original demand for $30 Billion cuts in government services was agreed to by the Democrats (without closing corporate tax loopholes that enable General Electric to pay zero tax on profits of billions). So the Republicans upped their demand to $61 Billion. The Democrats gave in to $39 Billion (with no estate tax on the super-rich's progeny). Since Democrats were still willing to compromise, the Republicans went "for broke" and insisted on cutting health care for low income women (using Planned Parenthood as the symbol). Now, yes finally NOW, the Democrats are offering some resistance to this insane schoolyard game of chicken. -more-

Why Architectural and Historic Death Sentences for Berkeley Public Library’s South and West BranchesShould be Rejected by ZAB and LPC -- Vote Scheduled Thursday, April 14, 2011

By Peter Warfield, Library Users' Association
Tuesday April 12, 2011 - 09:47:00 PM
The original facade of the West Branch library

An architectural and historic death sentence for two of Berkeley Public Library’s excellent branch library buildings -- demolition with replacement by new buildings -- is scheduled to be considered at a joint meeting of two Berkeley city bodies Thursday, April 14, 2011, and we think it would be a shame to condemn these two buildings to irreversible oblivion. -more-

Berkeley Library's Children: A Junior U.N.

By Dorothy Snodgrass
Tuesday April 12, 2011 - 08:59:00 PM

When attending Debbie Carton's Wednesday class, "Playreading for Adults" at the Berkeley Public Library, I take an elevator to the Fourth Floor, which happens to be the Children's Room. What a delightful spot that is, with infants and toddlers literally crawling all over the place. The main attraction of that room, adored by the children, is a gaudily decorated space ship, generally with a two or three year-old "astronaut" sitting in the cockpit, aiming the ship for a flight into outer space. -more-

Dangerous Construction Practices for UC Project in Berkeley

By Robert Lynch
Wednesday April 13, 2011 - 04:07:00 PM

I sent to Rudolf and Sletten's (general contractor for a UC Berkeley project) contact email: the following message:

Subject: Traffic to and from construction site between Oxford St. and Shattuck Ave. Berkeley

I walk almost every day in Berkeley. The large trucks servicing your UC Berkeley construction site between Oxford St. and Shattuck Ave. Berkeley drive in a most reckless and pedestrian-endangering way. -more-

Transit Planning and Unplanning

By Charles Siegel
Tuesday April 12, 2011 - 09:33:00 PM

Doug Buckwald writes (Daily Planet, April 6,2011) that my support for bus rapid transit is not consistent with my opposition to top-down planning in my book Unplanning: Livable Cities and Political Choices. I am glad he has read the book, but I am afraid he does not understand it completely. -more-

Secondary Opinion on the Safeway Project

By Tad Laird.
Wednesday April 13, 2011 - 04:05:00 PM

I feel that the commentary written but Mr. Buttrick on the 5th that reduces the Safeway remodeling to a question of “walkability” does a great disservice to the many factors at play in this heavily developed urban neighborhood, and needs another perspective. Since the comparison he draws are between Piedmont, Temescal and College, lets use those locations – even though I think only College has a major grocery store. -more-


On Mental Illness: There Are No Shortcuts to Recovery (Part 1 of 2)

By Jack Bragen
Tuesday April 12, 2011 - 09:23:00 PM

Recovery for someone with a mental illness has a different definition compared to some other types of recovery. For one thing, a “recovered” mentally ill person is likely to still be taking medication. A “recovered” mentally ill person may still participate in psychotherapy. The things that define that person as recovered, versus not there yet, are partly intangible signs of progress. For example, how easy is it to get along with a recovered mentally ill person, vs. someone less than recovered? How developed are his or her social skills? Does the person have insight into their condition? -more-

Dispatches From The Edge: Libya & the Law of Unintended Consequences

By Conn Hallinan
Tuesday April 12, 2011 - 09:07:00 PM

Coming to grips with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) intervention in the Libyan civil war is a little like wresting a grizzly bear: big, hairy, and likely to make you pretty uncomfortable no matter where you grab a hold of it. Is it a humanitarian endeavor? A grab for oil resources? Or an election ploy by French President Nicolas Sarkozy? -more-

The Public Eye: 2011 Budget Battle: Obama Wins While Democrats Lose

By Bob Burnett
Tuesday April 12, 2011 - 09:18:00 PM

Although both sides claimed victory after agreeing on a 2011 Federal budget minutes before the April 8th deadline, it was a smashing win for Republicans and a huge loss for Democrats. But even while his party went down in flames, President Barack Obama managed to dance away from defeat. -more-

Eclectic Rant: Kagame's Rwanda: Myth and Reality

By Ralph E. Stone
Tuesday April 12, 2011 - 09:01:00 PM

On April 7, 2010, President Barack Obama marked the 17th anniversary of the "unimaginable slaughter" of Rwanda's 1994 genocide, saying it reminded the world of its duties to civilians in places like Libya. President Obama made no effort to dispel the myth used by Rwanda President Paul Kagame about the 1994 Rwanda genocide and the role played by the U.S. leading up to the genocide. -more-

Wild Neighbors: Serpents for Your Garden

By Joe Eaton
Tuesday April 12, 2011 - 08:56:00 PM
Sharp-tailed snake: a diet of slugs.

You have to admire a gardener who is proud of his snakes. -more-

The Public Eye: Libya: in America’s National Interest?

By Bob Burnett
Friday April 08, 2011 - 09:56:00 AM

On March 28, President Obama defended his decision to deploy US air power In Libya. After Libyan despot Moammar Gaddafi attacked his own people, Obama decided that protection of Libyan civilians was in America’s “national interest.” But it’s not obvious that it is. -more-

Senior Power:Bye-bye, Berkeley senior centers? Bye-bye, Commission on Aging? Is there Senior Power?

By Helen Rippier Wheeler
Friday April 08, 2011 - 10:42:00 AM

“Some Berkeley citizen commissions may face ax” reports Carolyn Jones (San Francisco Chronicle April 3, 2011).San Francisco Chronicle April 3, 2011.“Times are so tough in Berkeley that officials may end some of the city's most revered democratic enterprises: 35 citizen commissions. City Manager Phil Kamlarz's staff is crafting a plan to consolidate or scratch some of the commissions, which advise the City Council… . ” -more-

Arts & Events

The Lowdown on Ira Marlowe:
The Love Child of Tom Waits and Tom Lehrer

By Gar Smith
Wednesday April 13, 2011 - 11:27:00 AM
Ira Marlowe

Forgive me for being behind the curve, but I’ve just discovered an incandescent klieg light buried in the Bay Area’s sub-cultural bushes. For anyone who hasn’t yet heard about Ira Marlowe, listen up. (The best way to do that, by the way, is to tap into his Website — — for some samples or, even better, show up at one of his next two local gigs — the first is coming up this Saturday in Berkeley. See below for details). -more-

Eye from the Aisle: VIDEO REVIEW--If you’re looking for a video or three…

By John A. McMullen II
Tuesday April 12, 2011 - 09:56:00 PM

A month or so ago, I got my cable pulled (by my own hand), and, boy, was it painful!

So my methadone was Netflix with which I can “stream” lots of movies onto my computer and/or my 50” beautiful boob-tube. And they gave me a month for free, thereafter about $10, so I’m saving about $100 a month off Comcast, and it gives me a lot more time to download my brain into reviews like these. (I went to Best Buy and dropped about $189 on a Blu-Ray DVD player with built in Netflix and Hulu capability; if you haven’t seen a Blu-Ray video, then you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.)

So here are two films and a series that are my picks for this month: -more-

Eye From the Aisle: Two birds, one stone—Mockingbird at Center Rep, Nightingale at Aurora

By John A. McMullen II
Wednesday April 13, 2011 - 12:41:00 PM
Michael Ray Wisely, James Hiser

Sometimes a reviewer gets a break and in the same week goes to see two plays with avian titles so that he can quip a little in his headline; but these plays have more similarities than just the title subjects. -more-

Opening the Book on How Polluters Game the System

Review by Gar Smith
Wednesday April 13, 2011 - 11:31:00 AM
The US Steel subsidiary's zinc mill in Donora, Pennsylvania in 1910.

NOTE: Author Benjamin Ross will be reading from his new book and answering questions in San Francisco this Thursday. Time and location: 7PM at the Green Arcade Bookstore, 1680 Market Street, San Francisco (near Gough).

The Polluters: The Making of Our Chemically Altered Environment,By Benjamin Ross & Steven Amter (Oxford University Press, 2011)

One of the real surprises about The Polluters is that the co-authors are not green-hued activists or crusading journalists. Ben Ross and Steven Amter are, respectively, the president and senior environmental scientist at Disposal Safety, Inc., a DC-based consulting firm. Nonetheless, Ross and Amter have turned out a spellbinding and detailed compendium of corporate deceit and defiance that will leave readers fuming at the towering gall of the Polluting Class. -more-

Don't Miss This

By Dorothy Snodgrass
Wednesday April 13, 2011 - 11:54:00 AM

With unemployment and home foreclosures sharply rising and the nation-wide economy on a downward spiral, these are not rosy times! Certainly the Japan disaster and fears of escaping radiation does little to lift our spirits. So, rather than settle for purely entertaining events and activities, perhaps we should consider something of a more substantive nature, such as the Peace Walk this Saturday, April 16, when groups will congregate at Lake Merritt from 9 a.m. - 2 p.m. to stop the violence in the streets of Oakland. -more-