The Week

Student Participants in the National Day of Silence
Student Participants in the National Day of Silence


Press Release: Berkeley City Council May Improve Screening Fee Protection for Apartment Seekers

From Councilmember Jesse Arreguin
Monday April 25, 2011 - 07:17:00 PM

Renters looking for an apartment may be able to keep more of their money in their pocket if a tenant screening fee proposal (PDF) is passed by the Berkeley City Council this upcoming Tuesday night. -more-

The Tactics Used to Discredit Library Demolition Opponents Are Wrong (Opinion, reprinted with permission from the LeConte Chat Listserv)

By Vincent Casalaina
Monday April 25, 2011 - 08:00:00 PM

We need more people who stand up to the City when they put one thing on the ballot and then choose to do something totally different. In this case it's about our libraries but this is not the first time we've seen this change of purpose happen with ballot measures - and unfortunately I think it's not likely to be the last. -more-

Racism Charges in Library Demolition Dispute(Opinion, reprinted with permission from the LeConte Chat Listserv)

By Patti Dacey
Monday April 25, 2011 - 07:55:00 PM

This library issue just gets curiouser and curiouser. Charges of racism are outrageously flung around at the people who believe that the bond issue purposely left out any information about demolition or who support preservation efforts, draining the very concept of racism of any meaning at all. Also, please note that the library board and the people playing the race card pushed a change in the zoning code, passed by the Planning Commission, that allows all libraries to be demolished or changed in any way by right, INCLUDING the downtown library (anyone for a 120 foot tower on the downtown library without a public hearing?). There's also the completely false indication at the end of Max's announcement that only one person is behind the law suit (which has already been partly won)" WE URGE THE PLAINTIFF TO WITHDRAW HER SUIT!", though there are several people, and a whole lot more backers. -more-

Press Release: Councilmember Anderson Calls for Rally to Support Demolition of Branch Libraries

Monday April 25, 2011 - 10:59:00 AM


Library Wins Zoning and Landmark Commission Approval for Tear-Down Plans; Lawsuit over Branch Demolition Remains (Partisan Position)

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

[Editor's Note: The Partisan Position designation is used for factual reports of meetings or events written by people who have taken public positions on the issues in question, and who identify their interest.]

Supporters of current Berkeley Public Library plans to tear down and rebuild the South and West Berkeley branch libraries won affirmative votes from both the Zoning Adjustments Board and Landmarks Preservation Commission at a complex joint meeting held on Thursday, April 14, 2011.

The demolition of the branches is contested by both a lawsuit and by some members of the public who argue that restoring the original portions of the two branch libraries and building additions would be a better solution.

The Library was seeking—and achieved at this meeting—certification of the Final Environmental Impact Report (EIR) as well as approval of use permits to demolish and rebuild the two branches. The actions can be appealed to the City Council.

Library demolition / rebuild supporters and their critics clashed during a marathon series of no less than five public hearings held consecutively on various aspects of the Library proposal by the ZAB and LPC. The Zoning Adjustments Board was asked to certify the Final Environmental Impact Report related to the projects, which it did. -more-

Berkeley School Employee Killed in Oakland Drive-By Shooting

By Rachel Purdy (BCN)
Tuesday April 19, 2011 - 11:27:00 PM

The shots that killed Beatrice Burton in West Oakland Monday night also wounded the Berkeley Unified School District, where Burton worked for the past three years. -more-

Holi Festival Paints a Multi-Colored, Multi-cultural, UC Berkeley Campus

By Steven Finacom
Monday April 18, 2011 - 05:51:00 PM

Ancient Hindu festival, rite of spring, mass water fight, and unparalleled colorful campus event—the festival of Holi, as celebrated at UC Berkeley seemed all of those things Sunday, April 17, 2011.
Sponsored by the Indian Student Association, the event drew hundreds of students and other celebrants to fill the center of Lower Sproul Plaza on the UC Berkeley campus from late morning through early afternoon.
For nearly three hours participants lined up to buy packets of dyed maize and starch in 50 gram increments and enter a fenced area where the object was to enthusiastically pelt one another with the vivid powders and the resultant colored water. -more-

National Day of Silence at UC Berkeley

By Steven Finacom
Monday April 18, 2011 - 05:32:00 PM

A group of students participated in the National Day of Silence, 2011, by forming a sign barrier across Sather Gate on the UC Berkeley campus during the lunch hour on Friday, April 15, 2011 as the campus set up for the Cal Day open house on Saturday, April 16. The students wore pink tape over their mouths, emphasizing the theme of the day that LGLT students and youth are often silenced by bigotry and discrimination. They faced both into and out of the campus. The side portals of the gate remained open to pedestrians, and many passersby stopped to take flyers. -more-

Berkeley Councilmembers Move to Block New Drugstores

From the Berkeley City Council Agenda
Monday April 18, 2011 - 01:31:00 PM

From:Office of the Mayor
For: Berkeley City Council CONSENT CALENDAR, April 26, 2011 meeting
TO: Members of the City Council
FROM: Mayor Tom Bates,Council Members Laurie Capitelli and Susan Wengraf
SUBJECT: Restrict Location of Drug Stores
Request the Planning Commission draft a Zoning Ordinance amendment that limits location of new or expanded drugstores to a minimum of 1000 feet of an existing drugstore, and return to Council with proposed language as soon as possible. -more-

Watching the Council: Debuts (News Analysis)

By Shirley Dean
Monday April 18, 2011 - 11:16:00 AM

Our town is wonderful, lovely and exciting. Issues always seem to pop up – issues that trigger vociferous debate that ranges from nasty - “Bezerkely is at it again” - to confused - “who can figure out what’s going on”- to hopeless - “ it doesn’t matter what’s going on, no one listens anyway.” Not long ago, businesswoman Jacqueline McCormick, school and community activist Sophie Hahn, neighborhood leader Dean Metzger and former Mayor Shirley Dean were grousing about how hard it can be to keep up with Council happenings, when we jointly concluded it was time to help make sense of the maze of confusing information. We set a goal to provide people with a way to obtain timely, objective information, facilitate communication with our elected representatives, and converse with and learn from other residents. To accomplish this, we launched a new website, Berkeley Council Watch (BCW) in early April, since that’s when Berkeley was incorporated 133 years ago. -more-

The Tactics Used to Discredit Library Demolition Opponents Are Wrong (Reprinted from the LeConte Chat)

By Vincent Casalaina
Monday April 25, 2011 - 08:00:00 PM

We need more people who stand up to the City when they put one thing on the ballot and then choose to do something totally different. In this case it's about our libraries but this is not the first time we've seen this change of purpose happen with ballot measures - and unfortunately I think it's not likely to be the last. -more-

Phoebe Hearst Remembered As Premier UC Benefactor

By Steven Finacom
Wednesday April 20, 2011 - 12:11:00 PM
After the opening reception, curator William Roberts showed Kevin Starr a portion of the exhibit in the Bernice Brown Gallery in UC Berkeley’s Doe Library.

“Hearst” is a name known to almost anyone in Berkeley. Not only is there Hearst Avenue, running almost all the way across town, but also familiar facilities including the Hearst Memorial Mining Building, Hearst Greek Theatre, and Hearst Museum bracket the UC Berkeley campus. -more-

Cal Day: UC Berkeley's Open House

By Steven Finacom
Monday April 18, 2011 - 06:26:00 PM
Student ballroom dancers rhumbaed on the steps of Sproul Hall.

Cal Day, the annual spring Open House, welcomed tens of thousands to the UC Berkeley campus on Saturday, April 16, 2011. From the Lawrence Hall of Science to International House, Sproul Plaza, and Downtown Berkeley students, faculty, and staff greeted, entertained, and educated hosts of alumni, community members, and new and prospective students. Many of the activities were planned to welcome and orient newly admitted students to the campus and college life. -more-



Find Out What's Going on in Berkeley

By Becky O'Malley
Wednesday April 20, 2011 - 01:30:00 PM

So, what’s up in Berkeley? An endlessly interesting question to some, deadly dull to others. And as in many big towns which like to think of themselves as small cities, it’s been harder and harder to find out in recent years, even if you care.

In the first place, there’s the two Berkeley problem. For a sizeable number of residents, Berkeley is just a more PC Piedmont: comfortable view homes, an easy car commute to pleasant white collar jobs on the UC campus or in San Francisco, okay city services. Getting anywhere—shopping, movies, whatever—is just about impossible without an automobile, and once you’re in the car, you might as well go to El Cerrito Plaza or Emeryville or Walnut Creek if you need anything. For concerned parents, there’s a choice of driving the kids to not-so-bad public schools or to interesting added-value private schools where the little darlings can learn French, creative sharing, Hebrew, music…whatever you think might improve them the most.

In this Berkeley, no one's trying to build an enormous apartment development to loom over your block, and if the occasional passing car threatens to disturb your peace, you might be able to persuade the city to gift you with a few bumps in the road. That’s about all you need from the city, unless a neighbor’s new gable invades your view, necessitating a complaint. Your house is worth a lot, even with the recession, so your tax bill is substantial, and if you’re that kind of person you might gripe about that.

The other Berkeley is the one that allows upscale and uphill Berkeley to feel PC. These are the people who inhabit the area which has the “more density” bulls-eye painted on it, the place where the 16,000 households that the Association of Bay Area Government and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission want to add to Berkeley over the next 25 years would surely be located. The residents of this other Berkeley, on average, have lower property values, less income and more melanin than their fellow citizens, and they certainly have more to worry about. Instead of winding lanes, they’re apt to live on or next to transit corridors. They can—and often must—walk or bike to stores.
These are the Berkeleyans who really need to know what’s going on, in the classic phrase, “before it lands on them.” When the Mayor and the City Council are confronted, to their evident distaste. with a noisy crowd, many members of the vocal group come from what might be called “high impact” Berkeley. Most residents of “low impact” Berkeley hate going to council meetings in person, and luckily for them life is good and they don’t need to. -more-


Cartoon Page: Odd Bodkins, BOUNCE

Monday April 18, 2011 - 05:18:00 PM

Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

Wednesday April 20, 2011 - 02:26:00 PM

Republicans Again; “The General Welfare” and Other Meaningless Abstractions; Federal Budget; The Budget; Sunday Morning Funnies; The Truth; A Sad Case; Needy; Priorities; Unions; Bees; Republicans Again -more-

Incompetence, Corruption or Both?

By Peter Schorer
Tuesday April 19, 2011 - 09:50:00 AM

On the evening of Thursday, April 14, I witnessed yet another example of the outrageous incompetence and/or corruption of some of our City agencies, in this case, the Zoning Adjustment Board (ZAB) and the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC).

The occasion of the meeting was the potential approval of the proposed demolition of the South and West Branch Libraries so that new Libraries could be constructed, and the potential approval of the Use Permits for said construction. What’s wrong with that, you ask? What’s wrong is that Measure FF, which was passed in 2008 and provides the funding for alterations to the libraries, mandated the RENOVATION of the existing Library structures – not demolition. The exact wording of the Measure was:

“Shall the City of Berkeley issue general obligation bonds not exceeding $26,000,000 to renovate, expand, and make seismic and access improvements at four neighborhood branch libraries, but not the Central Library, with annual reporting by the Library Board to the City Council?

There was not a word in the Measure about demolition, and yet somehow, the members of the Board of Library Trustees (BOLT) took it upon themselves to ignore the wording of the Measure and the members of the public who pointed out the wording of the Measure ­– and instead to do what they damn well pleased, which was to renovate the North Branch and Claremont libraries, while demolishing the two flatland libraries. It is hard to believe that this is legal. -more-

California, the Alternative to Republican Rule –After Nearly Becoming a Home to It

by Craig Kaufman
Wednesday April 20, 2011 - 03:23:00 PM

California is being looked at as the rare alternative to Tea-Party rule these days. Jerry Brown’s direct style and transparent budget strategy as governor have led to a waning in people’s longtime pessimism about state government. Yet, with the extreme policies of other new governors dominating the news -- and with Meg Whitman remaining in the public eye-- one must wonder how it would have been if California had voted the other way in 2010. It was certainly significant that voters went to the polls and beat back Whitman's $178 million candidacy. This is further relevant because in California elections one can always expect that well-moneyed novices will throw their hat into the ring. -more-

Why You Shouldn’t Pull Fire Alarms When There Is No Emergency.

by Simon Williams
Wednesday April 20, 2011 - 03:02:00 PM

This is an informational article on why you should not pull fire alarms if there is not an emergency. -more-


The Public Eye: Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Debt?

By Bob Burnett
Monday April 18, 2011 - 01:28:00 PM

Last week, I received an angry email accusing me of ignoring the number one political story, “…the USA is broke, and has $14 TRILLION DOLLARS worth of debt!” It wasn’t unusual as many Americans are overwrought about the US public debt. Sure, it’s a problem but not number one and here’s why. -more-

German WW II POWs In the U.S.

By Ralph Stone
Monday April 18, 2011 - 01:37:00 PM

I just finished "A Brother's Blood" by Michael C. White. The novel is set in Maine where German prisoners of war (POWs) were detained during World War II. The novel begins many decades after the war when Wolfgang Kallick arrives in Maine from Germany to find out the details of his brother Dieter's death at the camp. The book is loosely based on the POW camp at Seboomook, Maine where, because of the increased shortage of paper, Great Northern Paper Company had an arrangement with the U.S. Army for a POW camp and initially 250 prisoners from General Erwin Rommel's Afrika Korps, the German elite, were brought to cut pulp wood and yard it with horses. You will have to read the book to discover the mystery surrounding Dieter Kallick's death. -more-

Senior Power: Older Americans Month

By Helen Rippier Wheeler
Monday April 18, 2011 - 10:58:00 AM

Older Americans Month is coming up in May. It “pays homage to the many ways in which older adults bring inspiration and continuity to the fabric of our communities, and highlights how technology is helping older Americans live longer, healthier, and more engaged lives.” Thanks to President Carter's 1980 designation, it is now called Older Americans Month, and it has become a tradition. Each year the Administration on Aging issues a theme to assist the National Aging Services Network plan May activities. This year’s is Older Americans: Connecting the Community. -more-

On Mental Illness: There are No Shortcuts to Recovery. (Part 2 of 2)

By Jack Bragen
Tuesday April 19, 2011 - 09:23:00 AM

Now that I have put forth a working definition of recovery, you might ask; “but how does a mentally ill person achieve all of that?” One method of “getting there” is to refrain from being excessively combative. If you fight those who are trying to help you too much, it is a lot harder to get results. If you are a person with a lot of “fight” in you, like I have been, you should try to redirect this instinct toward something positive. -more-

Arts & Events

Around and About Theater: Grotowski show

By Ken Bullock
Wednesday April 20, 2011 - 02:11:00 PM

Jerzy Grotowski was perhaps the most influential theater director of the 1960s-70s. During the last years of his life--and of last century--he founded The Workcenter in Pontedera, Italy, to research performance, not necessarily theater--"not a spectacle," said his collaborator Mario Biagini last week at SF Museum of Modern Art, "in that it doesn't have to be looked at by an audience. But it can embrace an audience. And don't look too hard for a story!" -more-

Book Review: Breakthrough: Transforming Fear into Compassion
A New Perspective on the Israel-Palestine Conflict, by Richard Forer

Review by H. Scott Prosterman
Monday April 18, 2011 - 05:29:00 PM

Demosthenes, a Greek said, “All Greeks are liars.” Prosterman, a Jew said, “Many Jews are big phonies.” He’s careful not to overly-generalize or self-incriminate, as Demosthenes did. When this was presented to Steve Bhaerman (who assumes the guise of comic alter ego Swami Beyondananda,) he asked why. Prosterman cited Jewish Republicans who abandoned the Civil Rights and progressive movements for Reagan, and others who are fervent civil rights advocates EXCEPT when it comes to the Palestinians. The Great Swami replied, “The issue boils down to three things: fear, tribalism and denial. Jewish exceptionalism. Victimhood makes you an exceptional victimizer.” Then he recommended a book. -more-

Theater Review: The Eccentricities of a Nightingale

By Ken Bullock
Wednesday April 20, 2011 - 02:15:00 PM

I've just persuaded Miss Alma to sing something for us." ... "Oh; would you prefer something profane or sacred?"

For Tennessee Williams' centennial, Aurora Theatre's chosen something unusual--not one of Williams' most canonical plays, really, much less a blockbuster (though a movie of it does exist): The Eccentricities of a Nightingale, a reworking of the material and characters from his better-known Summer and Smoke, the film of which starred Laurence Harvey and the exceptional Geraldine Page.

In many ways, it;'s summer without smoke. Some find Eccentricities refreshing after the in-your-face "symbolism" of the "original"--and the "remake" does seem to strive for more nuance, more breadth and depth ...

The Aurora production gets at some of the breadth, with an excellent supporting cast (Charles Dean, Amy Crumpacker, a particularly strong Marcia Pizzo as a smothering mother, Ryan Tasker, Leanne Borghesi and Beth Deitchman). Tom Ross, Aurora's artistic director, guides the show with an even hand--ironically enough, maybe too even.

But the dynamism of the original, with next door neighbors, in an early 20th century Misssissippi town--spinster Alma, minister's daughter, and John, libertine son of the local doctor--is defused here, with the remolding of John into a mama's boy, creating a passive character ... at any rate, Thomas Gorrebeeck played him that way ... who doesn't end up trading places with Alma in the same way as in Summer and Smoke--a one-sided "ships passing in the night" affair. Beth Wilmurt, despite some nice, brief moments, plays Alma rather caricaturishly, illustrating what others say about her in a "Mickey Mouse music" way, to use a Hollywood quip line.

Williams is always full of humor--some of this is achieved as comedy--but without the smoldering tensions, a crucial scene like the "tete-a-tete" upstairs in the roadhouse goes completely flat ... The two, not exactly star-crossed lovers, fiddle with "a fire that won't start"--and indeed, there's no chemistry, the vignette saved by Jim Cave's excellent lighting, which reignites the non-symbolic fire ...

Set (Liliana Duque Pinero), costumes in particular (Laura Hazlett) and sound (Ted Crimy) all contribute nuances which are also seen in the supporting cast, especially Pizzo as John's "doting"mother and Crumpacker's portrayal of Alma's disturbed--and mocking--mother. But a full treatment of Williams' special brand of nuance, of humor--and his sometimes-O'Neill-like shaggy dog story quality--would be needed to overcome the sketched-in quality of some of the parts ... The recurrent, never entirely explained story of Alma's "different" aunt and the fire at the Musee Mechanique in New Orleans is another, never seen (but told of) element which could be exploited more for Williams' characteristically teasing effect, often staged merely as "symbolism" again, something that dogs his memory and revivals of his plays.

Williams used to jar audiences at shows of his own plays, laughing raucously at the moments when the spectators would be either on the verge of tears or put off, taking the maudlin portrayal (of the "symbolism"?) as the playwright's intent.He found the awkward moment when adult masks slip a little from the querulous visage of the prim or rebellious character--and the resulting chagrin--as funny. A hundred years since his birth, and still one of our most mysteriously unique playwrights. -more-

Eye from the Aisle:NO EXIT—live-feed video/theatre fusion at ACT

By John A. McMullen II
Monday April 18, 2011 - 01:56:00 PM
Laara Sadiq, Lucia Frangione, Andy Thompson

Though playwrights are sometimes excellent philosophers (e.g., Sophocles, Shakespeare, Shaw), philosophers aren’t known for being very good playwrights. -more-