The Week

This crane  about to pounce on the Med will soon swing around--yes, it swings around like an old circus ride--to threaten People's Park habitues, who say it portends a university take-over of the park. It is part of construction for a Cal student dormitory. According to the university the Anna Head West Student Housing project will provide housing for 160 sophomores and apartments for 264 upper division students; it's estimated to be ready for students by fall 2012. In the meantime, ask not for whom the crane turns, it turns for thee.
Ted Friedman
This crane about to pounce on the Med will soon swing around--yes, it swings around like an old circus ride--to threaten People's Park habitues, who say it portends a university take-over of the park. It is part of construction for a Cal student dormitory. According to the university the Anna Head West Student Housing project will provide housing for 160 sophomores and apartments for 264 upper division students; it's estimated to be ready for students by fall 2012. In the meantime, ask not for whom the crane turns, it turns for thee.


Press Release: Berkeley High Crew Qualifies for National Championship Competition; Men’s Lightweight Four Team Earns Medal at Regional Championships

From Rick Jaffe
Monday May 09, 2011 - 06:55:00 PM

Berkeley High Crew Men’s Lightweight 4+ boat won the bronze medal at the USRowing Southwest Junior Championship Regatta. All medal winning squads earn a berth to compete at the USRowing Youth Nationals. The National Championship is scheduled to take place in early June at Oak Ridge, Tennessee. -more-

Press Release: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Names Six Finalists for Possible Second Campus Location

From Jon R. Weiner, Manager, Communications & Media Relations , Lawrence Berkeley National Lab
Monday May 09, 2011 - 02:02:00 PM

Following an extensive evaluation, the University of California, manager of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), today released a list of six potential sites for the Lab’s proposed second campus. -more-

Budget Cuts Injure the Laboring Poor

By Eric Berkowitz
Wednesday May 04, 2011 - 12:44:00 PM

The state and federal budget crises are bringing deep cuts to government-sponsored public assistance. Many of California’s most needy, including a disproportionate number of children, are facing profound reductions in aid. CalWORKs, which provides day care assistance to working families with minor children, faces the largest cuts in 25 years. And day care for 11- and 12-year old kids of working parents stands to be slashed entirely.

Wrenching as they are, many feel these cuts are justified. Anecdotal stories often circulate about purported welfare cheats squandering the public’s money in casinos, at strip clubs, and on drugs. For example, Sacramento-based CalWatchDog recently accused day care recipients of “sponging” off of the state. A self-described conservative blogger called all welfare recipients “lazy good-for-nothing moochers” who take “extravagant vacations in Hawaii.” Assemblywoman Shannon Grove, R-Bakersfield, wants CalWORKs parents to be tested for drugs. If the parents fail, then the kids would be cut off. -more-

Dispatches From The Edge: The Great Game’s New Clothes (Column)

By Conn Hallinan
Thursday May 05, 2011 - 04:36:00 PM

According to the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director Leon Panetta, the U.S. never informed Pakistan about the operation to assassinate al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Ladin because it thought the Pakistanis could “jeopardize the mission” by tipping off the target. -more-

If It Isn't Patronage, What Is It? (Opinion)

By Bradley Wiedmaier
Thursday May 05, 2011 - 04:28:00 PM

The Berkeley Library Management, has spent over two years falsely presenting South Branch Library as a disintegrating "cinder block" building. Actually nothing is further from the truth. It is a reinforced concrete, post and beam structure, which has been seismically tested. The alternating glass and concrete block infill are not the structure. The false presentation of the concrete block as the menace of disintegrating "cinder block" was deployed to rule out renovation. -more-

New: Another Rate Hike for East Bay MUD -- What Are the Options? (News Analysis)

By Stuart Flashman
Wednesday May 04, 2011 - 05:25:00 PM

Once again, East Bay MUD’s more than two million water customers in the East Bay are facing a rate hike. This time, the staff proposal is for a six percent across-the-board increase in water rates. EBMUD’s explanation is, essentially, that we customers have been too good at saving water. As a consequence, the water district has been getting less revenue, while its costs haven’t decreased accordingly. -more-

Press Release: U.S. Boat to Gaza - West presents Saxophonist Gilad Atzmon in concert and talk

Thursday May 05, 2011 - 04:31:00 PM

U.S. Boat to Gaza - West presents Gilad Atzmon in concert and talk in a benefit for the Bay Area's flotilla passengers who will be onboard The Audacity of Hope. -more-

City Council Moves Branch Library Demolitions Forward, Sets Hearings

By Steven Finacom
Wednesday April 27, 2011 - 08:34:00 AM

In an early morning extension of their April 26 meeting the Berkeley Council moved forward with controversial plans to demolish and rebuild the South and West Berkeley branch libraries. -more-

America’s Killing Sprees Define Who We Are As A People (An Investigative Commentary)

By Gar Smith
Wednesday May 04, 2011 - 01:15:00 PM

When President Barack Obama announced the death of Osama bin Laden, his demeanor was properly restrained. It is hard to imagine George W. Bush issuing a similar pronouncement without cracking a grin and making a disparaging remark. The killing of bin Laden, Obama reflected, said much about America: “We will be true to the values that make us who we are.”

Sadly, the media showed too many Americans greeting the news of bin Laden’s death with fist-pumping elation. Raucous, shouting mobs gathered outside the White House and at New York’s “Ground Zero” to wave US flags and chant “USA! USA!” — as if the cold-blooded execution of an unarmed man in a Pakistan suburb was somehow on par with winning the Superbowl. -more-

Going Hungry in Berkeley for Ethnic Studies

By Jonah Most (NAM)
Wednesday May 04, 2011 - 12:28:00 PM

Hungry students and their supporters sit for the seventh day in front of University of California at Berkeley’s California Hall, after a futile meeting with University Chancellor Robert Birgeneau. The students asked Birgeneau yesterday to reinstate fired ethnic-studies staff members. -more-

Small Merchants versus the Monterey Market Monster

By Gar Smith
Wednesday May 04, 2011 - 08:36:00 AM
On an average Saturday, the Monterey Market’s sales can reportedly top $150,000. Now, the new owners hope to increase profits by adding meats, cheeses, pizza and brewed coffee — the same items offered by small, specialty shops on the same block. Mahmoud, the neighborhood’s beloved flower vendor, fears the Monterey Market’s plans to become “a Walmart” that will destroy small, established businesses.

The North Berkeley neighborhood used to cherish the Monterey Market. One of the market’s die-hard fans, Lisa Brenneis, was even moved to make a prize-winning documentary called “Eat at Bill’s” about the pioneering produce store. (The New York Times hailed the film as “a heartfelt and loving homage to [Bill Fujimoto], his produce, and his devotion to helping sustain America's newly-blossoming agrarian entrepreneurs.”) But when Bill and Judy Fujimoto, the long-established owners, retired from the market a few years back, the love affair between the business and the residents began to sour.

This week, a leaflet appeared that served to draw the growing rift into the public eye. Circulated by local storeowners and concerned residents, the broadside explains that the problem “all started with Mahmoud.” Mahmoud, a flower vendor who worked the curb alongside the Market’s northern flank, was the first victim of the Market’s new owners. -more-

Berkeley Street Tops Chris Hedges With Ho-hum and Grave Respect for the Dishonored Dead (News Analysis)

By Ted Friedman
Wednesday May 04, 2011 - 10:12:00 AM

Berkeley's Telegraph Avenue responded Monday to U.S. killing of Bin Laden with a big ho-hum and grave respect for the dishonored dead. Mon. evening, Chris Hedges, a leading critic of U.S. government policies covered much of the street's ground. -more-


By Steven Finacom
Wednesday May 04, 2011 - 02:22:00 PM
Project organizer Tim Pine, left, speaks before the official opening of the nursery structure.

UC students, faculty, and staff gathered at the lunch hour on Berkeley’s warmest day of the year so far to inaugurate a green seedling—a new “Strawberry Creek Native Plant Nursery and Garden” on the campus. They dined on watermelon and strawberries, planted a few symbolic natives, and basked in the accomplishment of a small but significant environmental milestone for the campus. -more-

Attention Young Eco-Activists: Brower Youth Awards Applications Due May 16
And There’s a New Book that Will Help You Green Your Scene

By Gar Smith
Wednesday May 04, 2011 - 01:23:00 PM

If you know — or are — a budding, up-and-coming young environmentalist, Earth Island Institute has just published an essential tool that you might want to pass along to your local Green Teen. -more-

Press Release: Public Hearing on Use Permits for the West Branch and South Branch Library Projects

From Alan Bern
Wednesday May 04, 2011 - 01:15:00 PM

City Council has set a public hearing to take public comment on the ZAB issued Use Permits for a NEW South Branch Library at 1901 Russell Street and a NEW West Branch Library at 1125 University Avenue. -more-

Berkeley Bloomed On Native Plants Garden Tour

By Steven Finacom
Monday May 02, 2011 - 12:47:00 PM
On Shasta Road at the widely admired Fleming Garden—which the tour called “the leading native plant garden in private ownership in California”—a naturalistic stream cascaded down a hillside of lupine, ferns, and poppies overlooking a meadow of native grasses and wildflowers.   Gardener Luke Hass identified the plantings for visitors.

Garden-perfect weather arrived on Sunday, May 1, 2011 to frame the seventh “Bringing Back the Natives” tour.

Extending from Martinez to Fremont, West Berkeley to Clayton, the annual event allows tour-goers to peak inside gardens that emphasize plantings of native California, and Bay Area, species and talk to landscape professionals and home gardeners.

Several Berkeley sites, from re-landscaped front yards in the lowlands to hillside redwood groves behind historic homes, were featured among the more than 50 sites on the tour. Hundreds came out for the free event. -more-



Revolution and Resurrection Stalk Berkeley's First Congo after Osama Killing

By Becky O'Malley
Wednesday May 04, 2011 - 12:12:00 PM

There was a message on my machine on Monday: “I’m just sort of stunned by the news, and I wouldn’t mind having a friend’s take on it. I feel some…relief, frankly.”

Well, yes. Full confession: I haven’t gotten back to her yet, because I don’t know exactly what to say. I find myself having heretical ideas, hard to process, harder to disclose.

On Monday night I went to hear Christopher Hedges speak for the benefit of KPFA (and to flog his latest book) at First Congo, thinking that with his background as a New York Times reporter on the Middle East he might shed some new light on the killing of Osama bin Laden. His talk (sermon, really) caused me to question all my beliefs—and not in a good way. -more-


Cartoon Page: Odd Bodkins, BOUNCE

Tuesday May 03, 2011 - 09:44:00 PM

Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

Wednesday May 04, 2011 - 07:30:00 AM

Schacht is Wrong; Priorities: Open Letter to Planning Director Dan Marks; Dear Christopher Adams, Blaine Beckwith, and Planet readers; Justice; Not Dead Yet; What Happened to the Old South Branch?It Was Replaced in 1961 -more-

Library Obstruction. If It’s Not Racism, What is It?

By Christopher Adams
Friday April 29, 2011 - 08:05:00 AM

There is always a risk in politics that arguments get personal and hurtful. But there is a difference between small town politics and national politics. Donald Trump can say false and abhorrent things about the President; nasty criticism is part of our national political tradition, and a thick skin is part of the job description for a national politician. At the small town level, not so much. The Planet editor is right to call to task those who made what to her ears were accusations of racism against opponents of the current plans for demolishing the South and West branch libraries and building new ones. And yet to someone who has followed the library’s plans for many years, it is hard not to wonder what can motivate the opponents other than something as irrational and emotional as racism. The closest national dispute that comes to mind is the opposition to building an Islamic Center near the site of the World Trade Center. -more-

Open Letter in Response to Chris Adams

By Susan Dinkelspiel Cerny
Wednesday May 04, 2011 - 07:21:00 AM

Dear Chris,

I am completely taken aback by statements in your Berkeley Daily Planet opinion piece: -more-

Deceiving the Electorate May Backfire

By Gale Garcia
Tuesday May 03, 2011 - 01:17:00 PM

The campaign against Concerned Library Users, the group who sued the City of Berkeley over illegal use of Measure FF Library bond funding, has reached a new low. Columnist Chip Johnson wrote an amazing hit-piece in the San Francisco Chronicle on April 29, titled “Shadowy group acts to block new library” which discredits those who seek to prevent bond financing from being misused. -more-

The Library Controversy

By Barbara Gilbert
Friday April 29, 2011 - 08:29:00 AM

Berkeleyans may be confused and dismayed, as am I, by the escalating rhetoric about demolition of the West and South Branch libraries.

I re-reviewed Measure FF to see if library branch demolition is permitted. The short answer is absolutely not and I urge readers to read the stark reality for themselves at :

The voters clearly approved only renovation and improvements, the measure was sold on this basis, and FF may well have failed if library demolition was an option. -more-

Why Cuts to Public Health Must be Reconsidered

By Vivian Lee
Monday May 02, 2011 - 04:20:00 PM

With the State's persistent budget crisis and the dwindling economy, the city of Berkeley has been grappling with an budget deficit of $12.5 million for the 2012 fiscal year. The projected $3 million budget on the Department of Public Health, announced in the recent Berkeley City Council meetings, has especially caused a heavy hit, as many employees were let go in the past several weeks, leading to an entire restructuring of the department structure to make up for the losses. While it has been the case, in fiscal crises, that public health services are among the first places to incur cuts, we must reconsider the tremendous value of public health all the more during these down-trodden times. -more-


The Public Eye: Swimming From Alcatraz

By Bob Burnett
Monday May 02, 2011 - 04:03:00 PM

To celebrate turning 70, I swam from Alcatraz to San Francisco. Splashing one and half miles through icy water gave me time to reflect on six similarities between my trek, life in general, and US politics. -more-

Wild Neighbors: Smarter than the Average Bird?

By Joe Eaton
Tuesday May 03, 2011 - 08:33:00 PM
Fledgling American crow (left) pestering mother.

Is intelligence a factor in how well birds adapt to urban environments? A recent study by a team of European biologists addressed that question, in a way, although the results are less interesting than the media coverage might suggest. -more-

Senior Power: DNR

By Helen Rippier Wheeler
Tuesday May 03, 2011 - 08:39:00 PM

DNR can stand for a lot of things-- Department of Natural Resources, a House M.D. TV episode, Daily News Record, digital noise reduction… . Better familiarize yourself with its senior power significance:DO NOT RESUSCITATE. -more-

On Mental Illness: Employment Revisited

By Jack Bragen
Tuesday May 03, 2011 - 09:03:00 PM

Having a job, as I have said in past columns, is a source of self-esteem for people in general, and more so for persons with mental illness. It is an indication of competence, one of survival skill, and it is an indication that a person has for the time being mastered the disability aspect of their mental health issues. A person can program as many thoughts of self worth into oneself as possible, it does not replace the sensation of taking a paycheck to the bank. Before I met my wife, I dabbled in responding to personal ads. It turned out that, in the world of singles, being disabled and unemployed was a deal-breaker. Without employment, I never got past the stage of talking to someone on the phone. -more-

Pepper Spray Times

Grace Underpressure
Tuesday May 03, 2011 - 09:49:00 PM

Editor's Note: The latest issue of the Pepper Spray Times is now available. -more-

First Person: A Trip to Hanford

By Dorothy Snodgrass
Tuesday May 03, 2011 - 09:13:00 PM

Never let it be said that the Oakland Museum lacks imagination when planning trips for the year. Case in point: last week's delightful tour, "Hanford: San Joaquin's Prettiest and Best Preserved Downtown." Credit for the success of these programs rightfully goes to Helen Tryon, who for the past several decades has come up with innovative one-day, two-day, or longer trips, such as the recent "Return to Death Valley" and the "Hudson Valley" tour. -more-

Thoughts on the Beatification of Pope John Paul II

By Ralph E. Stone
Wednesday May 04, 2011 - 07:25:00 AM

Author's note: Some caveats before I begin. I am not a Roman Catholic and I am very skeptical of the whole concept of sainthood, the miracles in support thereof, and papal infallibility. -more-

Arts & Events

Don't Miss This!

By Dorothy Snodgrass
Tuesday May 03, 2011 - 09:22:00 PM

As one of the reported 2 billion television viewers watching the Royal Wedding last Friday, I can only say what a lovely, dignified affair it was. Seeing a smiling Kate and William exchange wedding vows in Westminster Abbey is a memory I'll long cherish. But enough of that -- it's time to return to reality on this side of the Pond and consider what's going on in the Bay Area this month. -more-

Druid at Zellerbach with "Cripple"

By Ken Bullock
Tuesday May 03, 2011 - 09:07:00 PM

Druid, the Irish theater company from Galway -- surely one of the finest English-language troupes anywhere -- open their production of Martin McDonagh's The Cripple of Inishmaan Wednesday, May 4, at Zellerbach Playhouse on the UC campus. McDonagh's now best-known here for Pillowman and The Lieutenant of Inishmore, both produced by Berkeley Rep in recent years, and perhaps his Oscar-nominated film, In Bruges. Wilde Irish staged a spirited Cripple of Inishmaan a few years back at the City Club. -more-

Press Release: Free Poetry and Song Night on May 20 to Oppose Anti-Sitting Law Proposal

From Elisa Della Piana and Carol Denney
Tuesday May 03, 2011 - 05:16:00 PM

Art House Gallery and Cultural Center presents a free night of poetry and song in opposition to Berkeley’s proposed anti-sitting law on Friday, May 20th, 2011, 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm (doors open 6:30 pm), sponsored by the Stand Up for the Right to Sit Down Coalition and The Revolutionary Poets Brigade. -more-

Press Release: Berkeley Symphony "I'm a Performer" Family Concerts Invite Community Members to Play Alongside the Orchestra This Saturday Morning

From Jenny Lee
Tuesday May 03, 2011 - 09:40:00 AM

On Saturday, May 7, Berkeley Symphony will perform two “I’m a Performer” family concerts at Malcolm X Elementary School in Berkeley. This year, the Symphony is inviting the public for a one-of-a-kind experience of performing side-by-side with the orchestra musicians. The concerts, a complement to Berkeley Symphony’s award-winning Music in the Schools program (MITS), will be conducted by Education Director Ming Luke, and will feature an excerpt from Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony as well as one of the orchestra’s favorite songs, I am a Fine Musician. -more-