The Week

These are a few of the people Gina Sasso served as executive director at Easy Does it.  Sasso's husband says the loss of her medical insurance, when she was fired at Easy Does It, kept her from seeking medical help when she delayed treatment for pneumonia, confusing it with flu.
Ted Friedman
These are a few of the people Gina Sasso served as executive director at Easy Does it. Sasso's husband says the loss of her medical insurance, when she was fired at Easy Does It, kept her from seeking medical help when she delayed treatment for pneumonia, confusing it with flu.


Is Saint Joseph the Worker Church on the Verge of Closing??? (Reader Report)

By Amy Morales-Ambriz
Tuesday June 07, 2011 - 05:50:00 PM

This past Sunday June 5th 2011, father Jorge Crespin, who has been at St Joseph’s for over 40 years, announced at the 11:00am Spanish mass with a sad heart that he has been ordered to leave the parish. -more-

Press Release: Berkeley Civic Group Finds Annual Berkeley Overtime Payments Significantly Above Twelve-City Average. Group Requests Immediate Action.

From Jacquelyn McCormick, Berkeley Budget SOS
Monday June 06, 2011 - 12:05:00 PM

A comparative analysis of overtime payments in twelve regional municipalities by the civic group Berkeley Budget SOS reveals that the City of Berkeley annually spends above the average for overtime, as adjusted for population. If Berkeley reduced its overtime payments to the twelve-city per capita average, up to $30M in annual savings could be achieved while still leaving $17.5 M available for overtime expenses. -more-

Press Release: Shooting in the 1500 Block of Fairview Street on the Night of Friday, June 3, 2011

From Sergeant Mary C. Kusmiss,City of Berkeley Police Department (BPD) Public Information Officer
Saturday June 04, 2011 - 08:45:00 PM

On June 3, 2011 at about 10:00 p.m., a group of young men were socializing in front of an apartment building in the 1500 block of Fairview Street in South Berkeley. City of Berkeley Police Department (BPD) dispatchers received 911 calls from community members reporting hearing possible gunshots and a shooting. -more-

Press Release: Alameda County to Hold Public Hearings on Redistricting--
In Berkeley on Monday

Friday June 03, 2011 - 10:51:00 AM

The Alameda County Board of Supervisors will host a series of public hearings throughout the County to discuss redistricting, a process required by State law in which the County’s supervisorial districts are adjusted every ten years after the release of new federal census data. -more-

35,000 New Residents for Berkeley?
“Plan Bay Area” Growth Workshop

By Steven Finacom
Tuesday May 31, 2011 - 02:47:00 PM
Participants in the Plan Bay Area workshop gather in the auditorium of the
                Metropolitan Transportation Commission headquarters.

(The author covered, for the Planet, a workshop held by regional agencies on a State-mandated plan to designate places for future residential and job growth in the Bay Area. The currently proposed plan would mandate thousands of new housing units and tens of thousands of new residents in Berkeley, and hundreds of thousands of permanent new residents in Alameda County overall.

This article describes the experience of attending the forum, including small group sessions, interactive voting on a carefully pre-selected set of options, and some of the objections and questions raised by participants.)

A workshop on how to accommodate a projected 900,000 new households in the Bay Area—nearly 16,000 of them in Berkeley—over the next 25 years drew more than a hundred self-selected locals to Oakland on the evening of May 24, 2011. -more-

Brothers Convicted of Murder in Death of Berkeley High Student

By Jeff Shuttleworth (BCN)
Wednesday June 01, 2011 - 09:56:00 AM

Two Oakland brothers were convicted today of three counts of first-degree murder and other charges for killing their brother's wife and two of her family members,one of whom was a student at Berkeley High, on Thanksgiving Day 2006 in what a prosecutor said was a misguided act of revenge. -more-

Gina Sasso Remembered in People's Park on Sunday

By Ted Friedman
Wednesday June 01, 2011 - 09:42:00 AM
Michael Delacour at a celebration in memory of Gina Sasso, his wife--doing what he
                does best: call for a demonstration at Cody's to honor Gina.

Gina Sasso, 49, who died last Wednesday of complications of pneumonia, was feted Sunday in People's Park and later memorialized by an ad-hoc demonstration at the corner which was formerly the home of Cody's Books on Telegraph. She was a Berkeley activist who touched the hearts and lives of the more than 75 people who showed up Sunday for a hastily-assembled celebration of her life and many others. The upbeat event was organized by longtime Sasso friends, Max Ventura and Soul. -more-

Press Release: Students Want More Stores, Safer Shopping Experience on Telegraph Avenue and Downtown

From Councilmember Laurie Capitelli's office
Wednesday June 01, 2011 - 09:59:00 AM

For Immediate Release -more-

Press Release: Daniel Borenstein to Speak on Berkeley's Unfunded Pension Liabilities on Thursday

From Barbara Gilbert
Tuesday May 31, 2011 - 08:21:00 PM

Daniel Borenstein, award-winning columnist and editorial writer for the Bay Area News Group will address the Spring Meeting of the Northeast Berkeley Association (NEBA) on Thursday evening, June 2.


First Person: Experiencing Taize

By Dorothy Snodgrass
Tuesday May 31, 2011 - 06:13:00 PM

One often sees reference to Taizé services held in a few East Bay churches, both Catholic and Protestant. "What exactly is a Taizé service and what does the name mean?" is a question frequently asked. Therein lies a fascinating story. -more-

Making Money From Sex in Contra Costa County

By Gar Smith
Wednesday June 01, 2011 - 01:17:00 PM

Naturally I was shocked to learn that Contra Costa's law enforcement task force commander Norman Wielsch was involved in prostitution. But I was more shocked to read that, even with a unique competitive advantage — i.e., being able to use his badge to shut down other massage parlors — Wielsch still couldn’t make a financial go of it! -more-



Data-Free Decision-Making Marches on in Berkeley

By Becky O'Malley
Wednesday June 01, 2011 - 12:18:00 PM

In the immortal words of Ronald Reagan, There You Go Again. That’s right, the city staff is once again trying to get rid of the major thorns in their otherwise well-padded sides, the citizen commissions who work hard to make sense of Berkeley’s city government. -more-


Cartoon Page: Odd Bodkins, BOUNCE

Wednesday June 01, 2011 - 10:59:00 AM

Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

Tuesday May 31, 2011 - 09:47:00 PM

Tom Roberts, the Puppet Man; A Matter of Mattresses; Flute Concert; Peace; UC Berkeley: Chancellor Treats Cal as Fiefdom; Take Care of the Children; Safety Net; Geography; Middle East; Disfunctional Government -more-

Reply to Dr. Grossman – It’s about the Voters

By Gale Garcia
Wednesday June 01, 2011 - 09:44:00 AM

I appreciate Dr. Grossman’s thoughtful article about the Branch Libraries. It was forwarded to me as a member of the LeConte Neighborhood Association. I was preparing a letter to Dr. Grossman in response; since the Planet has printed his article, I will respond here instead.

Certainly some people would have voted for Measure FF to finance branch library improvements in 2008 even if they had known that demolition of the historic portions was a possibility. The question is whether the Measure would have passed if the entire electorate, including those who care about historic buildings, had known that demolition was a possibility. -more-

The Branch Library Controversy

By Elmer R. Grossman, M.D.
Friday May 27, 2011 - 12:33:00 PM

In the last 50 years Berkeley city politics have richly earned a reputation for an extraordinary intensity, sometimes flavored with personal animosity and a touch of paranoia. The current inflammatory issue is whether two of our branch libraries should be rebuilt from the ground up or rebuilt in large measure but retaining some of the earlier structure because of historical architectural value. Those advocating partial rather than complete renewal argue that Berkeley citizens are the naive victims of a deliberate plot by city officials and staff to hide the fact that total rebuilding was envisioned for the West and South branches. They argue that if we had only known that demolition was a possibility we never would have voted for the bond issue financing the branch improvements. -more-

Consolidation of Berkeley Commissions

By Paul Kamen, Naval Architect
Tuesday May 31, 2011 - 10:38:00 PM

The City Council is considering a measure to consolidate several commissions in order to reduce these commissions' demand on staff support resources.

This might be a valid cost-reduction strategy in general, but in the case of combining the Waterfront Commission with the Parks and Recreation Commission, it will have just the opposite effect. -more-

Another Point of View on BUSD Laundry

By Kristen Lono
Tuesday May 31, 2011 - 08:26:00 PM

I teach at Berkeley Arts Magnet and the portrait painted by parent Ms. McCleary in a recent letter published by your paper bears no resemblance to the school as I know it. To post this under a "BUSD Dirty Laundry" headline was irresponsible and divisive. Ms. Collins has worked hard since she came on board to pull Arts Magnet out of its academic tailspin. -more-

The Cal Stadium Renovation Will Not Make The Stadium Safe (Commentary)

By Hank Gehman
Tuesday May 31, 2011 - 08:23:00 PM

The university would have people think that the Cal football stadium renovation will eliminate dangers to public safety in the case of the earthquake and make the stadium and its environs safe for intensive use. This is not true. The renovation of the stadium will not create a risk-free structure and there are other risks that cannot be mitigated by a retrofit.



The Public Eye: Republicans Have a Problem. So What?

By Bob Burnett
Tuesday May 31, 2011 - 03:25:00 PM

The Republican brain trust is gearing up for the 2012 Presidential election, stuffing their war chests and deploying an arsenal of dirty tricks. But they’re having trouble finding a suitable Presidential candidate. Why should we care? -more-

Eclectic Rant: Are Private, For-Profit Prisons the Answer to California’s Overcrowded Prisons?

By Ralph E. Stone
Tuesday May 31, 2011 - 03:21:00 PM

On May 23, 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court in Brown v. Plata, ( affirmed lower court rulings that ordered California to reduce its prison population to 137.5 percent, or to 109,805 from 143,436 prisoners within two years. (California’s prisons are designed to house a population of just under 80,000.) -more-

On Mental Illness: No Shame, No Blame, No Low Self-Esteem

By Jack Bragen
Tuesday May 31, 2011 - 03:10:00 PM

People’s perceptions about mental illness and about those who suffer from it are often negative and/or incorrect. Being subject to those perceptions comprises emotional and social baggage included in the “package deal” that comes with having a mental disability. This also applies to how we with mental illness might perceive ourselves. I would like to set straight some of these erroneous stereotypes and perceptions, in the hope that doing so will provide some relief to the readers. -more-

Dispatches From The Edge:The New Face Of War

By Conn Hallinan
Tuesday May 31, 2011 - 08:25:00 PM

The assassination of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden did more than knock off America’s Public Enemy Number One, it formalized a new kind of warfare, where sovereignty is irrelevant, armies tangential, and decisions are secret. It is, in the words of counterinsurgency expert John Nagl, “an astounding change in the nature of warfare.” -more-

Senior Power: Who Laughs at What, and Why

By Helen Rippier Wheeler
Tuesday May 31, 2011 - 06:02:00 PM

Who laughs at what… and why interest me.Mainly, laughter by-for-about the aged and aging. -more-

Arts & Events

Around & About Music: 8th Berkeley World Music Festival This Saturday, All Afternoon--Free

By Ken Bullock
Tuesday May 31, 2011 - 08:45:00 PM

The 8th Berkeley World Music Festival kicks off at noon on and around Telegraph Avenue at both indoor and outdoor venues between Bancroft and Dwight Ways, with continuous music all afternoon & evening, noon till nine--and it's free! -more-

Around & About Theater: Woman's Will Playfest 2011--with a preview of Women Behind Suffrage

By Ken Bullock
Tuesday May 31, 2011 - 08:42:00 PM

Woman's Will, the East Bay all-female troupe which was founded by Erin Merritt for women to play all the roles in Shakespeare and other great theater, has for years put on an annual playfest. This year, with Victoria Evans Erville's artistic direction--and dedication to the principal not just of roles for women, but plays written and directed by them--the short plays presented were written by female playwrights from around the country over a two month period, including; -more-

Book Review: German Voices: Memories of Life during Hitler's Third Reich, by Frederic C. Tubach.

Reviewed By Joanna Graham
Tuesday May 31, 2011 - 05:43:00 PM

Ten years ago, the University of California Press published An Uncommon Friendship,by Bernat Rosner and Frederic C. Tubach. The authors, Orinda residents who were then just retiring from their respective professions, had been longtime close friends on the basis of shared interests, shared values, and a common background, both having grown up in rural villages in pre-World War II Europe. But there was one vast dissimilarity. Rosner, a Hungarian Jew, was the sole member of his family to have survived Auschwitz. Tubach, a German, was the son of a man who early and with enthusiasm joined the Nazi party and ultimately the SS. Together, they took on the difficult task of remembering and recounting their wartime experiences and ultimately produced a spare, honest, and deeply moving book which on the one side of the Holocaust refuses to whine and on the other to excuse. -more-

Film Review:Midnight in Paris Strikes Gold
(But Woody’s Script Doesn’t Pan Out)

Review by Gar Smith
Tuesday May 31, 2011 - 08:34:00 PM

Like many devotees, I trekked to Woody Allen's latest celebration of Nebbish Cinema (actually, I caught it at a press screening). And I have to report that the predictable parade of our favorite antic-auteur’s resume of neurotic mannerisms (draped, this time, on the capably slack shoulders of Allen-stand-in Owen Wilson) left me feeling ambivalent (when I wasn’t laughing, of course). Laughter is contagious. So, too, is neurosis. Let me kvetch. -more-

Film Review: Empire of Silver: A Local Filmmaker’s Awesome Debut

Review by Gar Smith
Thursday June 02, 2011 - 02:19:00 PM

Empire of Silver opens June 3 at the San Francisco Metreon and AMC Bay Street in Emeryville. -more-

The Empire of Silver and the Confucian Path to Banking

By Gar Smith
Thursday June 02, 2011 - 02:18:00 PM

The Shanxi merchants depicted in Christina Yao’s epic film, Empire of Silver, were powerful players in Chinese history. By the end of the 19ths century, their wealth and influence rivaled that of the ruling Ming and Qing dynasties. Shanxi province, the setting for Empire of Silver, has been called “the Wall Street of China.” -more-