The Week

About 100 people gathered in a prayer circle before the Tuesday Berkeley City Council meeting to protest the proposed anti-sitting law, using prayer flags made by Youth Spirit Artworks.
Carol Denney
About 100 people gathered in a prayer circle before the Tuesday Berkeley City Council meeting to protest the proposed anti-sitting law, using prayer flags made by Youth Spirit Artworks.


Berkeley Earthquake Centered On Panoramic near U.C. Stadium

By Dan McMenamin (BCN)
Thursday June 09, 2011 - 06:00:00 PM

A small earthquake occurred in Berkeley this morning, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. -more-

Arson May Have Caused Berkeley Hills Fires

By Jeff Shuttleworth(BCN)
Wednesday June 08, 2011 - 06:37:00 PM

BERKELEY (BCN) Two fires that broke out simultaneously at homes a block away from each other in the Berkeley hills early this morning may have been caused by arson but there is no definitive proof at this time, Berkeley Fire Chief Debra Pryor said. -more-

Charts of the day: The start-up myth debunked (News Analysis)

By Richard Brenneman
Tuesday June 07, 2011 - 08:43:00 PM

Here in Berkeley, the zealously pro-business mayor and his city council majority have been using the claim that start-up businesses spawned by the University of California will save the local economy.

Their claim is used as a pretext to give developers a free hand, most recently in setting the stage for the destruction West Berkeley, the last part of the city where low-income artists and crafts workers have been able to hang on.

Mayor Tom Bates and his allies are bankrolled by the real estate development community, which provides the lion’s share of their campaign funds, as we documented during our days as a reporter for the Berkeley Daily Planet, and the Bates coalition has responded by opening up the city to their wrecking balls and construction cranes.

But a just-posted page full of charts from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the startup bonanza was dying well before the onset of Bush/Obama crash. -more-

LBNL Announces Community Meetings on Second Campus at Berkeley Chamber Forum (News Analysis)

By Zelda Bronstein
Wednesday June 08, 2011 - 09:28:00 AM

Speaking at a June 6 lunchtime forum hosted by the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce Committee on Governmental Affairs at the Chamber’s office, Sam Chapman, Manager for State and Community Relations of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, offered an informative overview of the Lab’s ongoing search for the site of its second campus that included times and dates of community meetings to be held later this summer.

Chapman’s talk was free and open to the public and attracted about a dozen people, including Berkeley councilmembers Linda Maio and Darryl Moore, City of Berkeley Office of Economic Development Director Michael Caplan, a representative from Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner’s office, Elizabeth Jewel of the public relations firm Aroner, Jewel and Ellis, brothers Michael and Steve Goldin. The Goldins and their partners own property adjacent to Aquatic Park that is one of the six venues shortlisted by the Lab as possible locations for the new campus. -more-

UC's Student Center Plans, North Branch Library Cost Overrun Before Berkeley Landmarks Commission

By Steven Finacom
Wednesday June 08, 2011 - 09:41:00 AM
A sketch of the design concept for an addition to the UC Berkeley
                student union, seen from Bancroft and Telegraph. The image was presented at the
                Landmarks Preservation Commission.

In a low key meeting on June 2, 2011, the Berkeley Landmarks Preservation Commission wrapped up approvals of changes to one historic Berkeley home, commented on plans for changes to UC Berkeley’s Student Center complex, and heard, with evident frustration, a presentation on how a million dollar overrun in bids for the North Berkeley Library renovation had resulted in some preservation-related elements being removed from the project. -more-

County Redistricting Proposal Draws Few to Public Hearing

By Steven Finacom
Wednesday June 08, 2011 - 10:02:00 AM
Supervisor Keith Carson, at center left, standing in front of stage, prepares to
                start the redistricting meeting. Members of the public present numbered about a half
                dozen when the presentations began.

Redistricting fights are hot and heavy throughout the country this year as states and other jurisdictions adjust political boundaries to reflect the results of the 2010 Census and make strategic preparations for 2012, a Presidential and Congressional election year.

However, if the number of people attending one meeting is any reliable indicator, interest in Alameda County Supervisor redistricting is almost vanishingly small in Berkeley. -more-

Press Release: So Much for Digital Democracy: New U.C. Berkeley Study Finds Elite Viewpoints Dominate Online Content

From Yasmin Anwar, UC Berkeley Media Relations
Tuesday June 07, 2011 - 05:03:00 PM

Anyone with Internet access can generate online content and influence public opinion, according to popular belief. But a new study from the University of California, Berkeley, suggests that the social Web is becoming more of a playground for the affluent than a digital democracy. -more-

Press Release: Car Found Submerged in Water in Berkeley's South Aquatic Park On Tuesday Morning

From Sgt. Mary Kusmiss, City of Berkeley Police Department (BPD) Public Information Officer
Tuesday June 07, 2011 - 09:23:00 PM

“On Tuesday, June 7, 2011 at about 7:33 a.m. a man had pulled over his car to make a phone call in the south end of South Aquatic Park in the City of Berkeley. He noticed a car that was submerged in the water just north of the roadway. This is the route that many commuters take to enter Highway I-80 eastbound. (referred to as Potter Street)” -more-

Orange County Is Winning the Right to Sell GIS Database

By Bruce Joffe
Tuesday June 07, 2011 - 03:49:00 PM

Among the 57 California counties that have GIS-formatted parcel basemaps, 49 counties provide their GIS parcel basemap data for free, or the cost of duplication, as required by the California Public Record Act (§6250-6259 of the Government Code). The other eight counties have been selling their data, with Orange County charging the highest price by far at $375,000 for their 640,000 parcel database. -more-

City Council to Consider New Zealand Activist Twins for a Rare Berkeley Honor

By Gar Smith
Wednesday June 08, 2011 - 03:45:00 PM
Kriss, Marty Spense and the Topp Twins taken at the post-screening party in the Shattuck Cinema's Lot 68 Lounge.

The Topp Twins, New Zealand’s beloved yodeling, comic, lesbian activists came to Berkeley on May 22 and won the hearts of a sold-out crowd that packed the Landmark Cinema to see the new documentary that celebrates the remarkable lives of these two “Untouchable Girls.” (Read the May 20, Planet review here.) -more-

He's No Pooh

By Steven Finacom
Wednesday June 08, 2011 - 09:51:00 AM

The California Pioneers -more-

First Person: Luxury Living Returns to South Berkeley

By Jane Stillwater
Tuesday June 07, 2011 - 03:32:00 PM

Not everything that goes on in south Berkeley these days involves drive-by shootings. There is some pretty neat stuff in my neighborhood too. I can't imagine living anywhere else besides across the street from the Berkeley Bowl. And what about the Ashby flea market? Or the Daily Kos or the East Bay Community Law Center? Or the Ashby BART station that can whisk me away on the first step of a journey to Antarctica or Iraq? Or how about story time at the south branch of the Berkeley Public library? Wonderful stuff. I rest my case. -more-

UCPD Storms the Med's Mezzanine with Guns Drawn

By Ted Friedman
Wednesday June 08, 2011 - 10:52:00 AM
When in full beret--not pictured--Charles Goodman, a former Army Corporal, "rocks," according to YELP. He was a cool head on the scene for the Med during a police takeover of the cafe.

A "closed case" that brought six gun-pointing UCPD officers to the entrance of the Cafe Mediterraneum on Telegraph late last Tuesday remains an open sore to sorehead Medheads. A cluster of Berkeley police squad cars stood guard at Dwight and Teley in case…in case. In case, what?

Sore or not, Medheads who want to know what went down will have to sift through competing eye-witness accounts and competing critiques of the police operation, viewed by some as wrong-headed, if not soft-headed.

The police say they were responding to a man-with-a-gun report and proceeded accordingly—storming the Med for the public good as if they were taking Iwo Jima. -more-



Scandal and Stupidity Compete for Press Attention as Rome Burns

By Becky O'Malley
Wednesday June 08, 2011 - 10:08:00 AM

The news about the unfortunately named Congressman Weiner once again prompts widespread speculation on the topic of “What is it about politicians?” Sex is the headline-grabbing topic for the guys: Democrats, Republican, straight, gay, liberal, conservative—you name it, many, many, many of them have gotten themselves ensnared in sex scandals in the last few years. Arnold Schwarzenegger, John Edwards, Elliot Spitzer, Newt Gingrich, that Republican in the airport restroom (What was his name? Was it in Minneapolis?), even the otherwise terrific Barney Frank – it’s a huge list, too numerous to recount here, of career pols who can’t seem to restrain themselves from behavior that is sure to cause problems in the papers. -more-


Cartoon Page: Odd Bodkins, BOUNCE

Tuesday June 07, 2011 - 10:52:00 PM

Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

Wednesday June 08, 2011 - 03:45:00 PM

More about the Branch Libraries Controversy; Catholic Laundries; Republicans; Interfering; Shrinking Meat; Fair Share; Prison Overcrowding; Public Servants -more-

The Situation at the University of California

By Tom Lutz
Tuesday June 07, 2011 - 05:20:00 PM

After a year and a half as Chair of the department, I am stepping down. Professor Andrew Winer will be taking my place, for which we should all be grateful.

As my last act as Chair, I would like to share with you my sense of the gravity of the situation we face. I spent most of my academic career doing what most of us do—teaching, writing, reading graduate applications and theses, having office hours, reading in my field, doing research. I didn’t pay much attention to the University and its administration. None of us have that luxury anymore. Budget cuts after budget cuts after budget cuts have left us all painfully aware of how the sausage is made, or not made.

Having served in administrative posts for most of the last five years, I have come to know the budget issues very well. We are now past the tipping point. We are on a rapid downhill slide that will have profound effects for our state, our families, our country, and our world. -more-

Smart Growth Extremes in Berkeley

By Toni Mester
Tuesday June 07, 2011 - 04:13:00 PM

I really enjoyed Steve Finacom’s description of the Plan Bay Area Workshop including the many quotes of the participants. It had a “You Are There” quality that saved me hours of sitting through it myself, which would have been sheer torture. Smart Growth certainly brings out the extremes, pro and con. -more-


The Public Eye:The US and Israel: A Failed Marriage

By Bob Burnett
Tuesday June 07, 2011 - 04:59:00 PM

Since 1948, when the United States recognized the state of Israel, twelve US Presidents have shaken the hands of Israeli leaders and pledged “for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part.” Sadly, this once happy marriage is in trouble. It’s time for the US to reconsider its commitment to Israel. -more-

Eclectic Rant: Will The U.N September Vote Be Palestine's Last Hurrah?

By Ralph E. Stone
Tuesday June 07, 2011 - 04:36:00 PM

Palestine is between the proverbial rock and hard place. Israel has no interest in good faith, meaningful peace negotiations and continues to build settlements, slowly squeezing the Palestinians into smaller and smaller space. At partition in 1947, the Jewish state was allotted 55 percent of Palestine. Since partition, the Jewish state now controls 78 percent of Palestine. The Palestinians have no choice but to call for a vote in the next session of the General Assembly in September to ratify a unilateral declaration of Palestinian statehood. But unfortunately, President Obama has already signalled that the U.S. will veto any such resolution in the U.N. Security Council. Will this U.N. vote be Palestine’s last hurrah? -more-

Senior Power: World Elder Abuse Awareness Day…

By Helen Rippier Wheeler
Tuesday June 07, 2011 - 03:53:00 PM

will be observed on Wednesday, June 15, 2011. This week’s column is the first of two on the subject of elder abuse, or, as it’s referenced in libraries, Older people Abuse of. Older than what, I wonder. -more-

On Mental Illness: We Shouldn't Torture Ourselves

By Jack Bragen
Tuesday June 07, 2011 - 04:50:00 PM

Self victimization takes on many forms, and I wonder if this subject may be too deep and too touchy for me to approach in the context of this column. If I just cover some of the ways that I have internally persecuted myself, what I have observed in other people, and what little I know about this subject, I think that might work. -more-

Arts & Events

Around & About Music: Inga Swearingen performing in Berkeley Friday, June 10

By Ken Bullock
Tuesday June 07, 2011 - 04:16:00 PM

Inga Swearingen, who's been a regular on Garrison Keillor's Prairie Home Companion public radio show--and who performed engagingly a couple years ago at the old Freight & Salvage--is back with her lively mix of jazz standards, traditional folk songs and popular music from around the world, performing with her sister Britta and guitarist Jeff Miley--sharing the stage with "The Songwriting Siblings," Char and Robbie Rothschild of Round Mountain, from New Mexico, who play accordion, guitar, trumpet, highland bagpipes, djembe, cajon and kora, in a mix of "American grit" and world music styles. -more-

Press Release: Solstice Celebration and Concert on June 21 at Chapel of the Chimes

From Sarah Cahill
Monday June 06, 2011 - 06:34:00 PM

New Music Bay Area and Lifemark Group/Chapel of the Chimes present their popular summer solstice celebration Garden of Memory: a Columbarium Walk-Through Concert to Celebrate the Solstice at Chapel of the Chimes, a labyrinthine Julia Morgan-designed columbarium and mausoleum replete with gardens, fountains, and stained-glass skylights at 4499 Piedmont Ave. in Oakland on Tuesday, June 21 from 5 to 9 pm. -more-

Eye from the Aisle: GOTTERDAMMERUNG--A Breathtaking and Meaningful Wagner, a fulfilling marathon

By John A. McMullen II
Tuesday June 07, 2011 - 09:50:00 PM
Nina Stemme (Brünnhilde), Andrea Silvestrelli (Hagen) and Ian Storey (Siegfried) with members of the San Francisco Opera chorus.

When I was a child in a small Pennsylvania town, back when Christianity was part of public grade school, a traveling show came through on Easter Week and we were all ferried to the high school auditorium to see it. It was a play about the Passion of the Christ from Germany, and it was called Gotterdammerung. A devout little Catholic boy, I was entranced and transported. Those same feelings came back yesterday afternoon, at the SF Opera at Francesca Zambello’s interpretation of the last chapter of Wagner’s Ring Cycle. -more-

Eye From the Aisle:Lose the Blues at Willow’s ChicAGO in Martinez

By John A. McMullen II
Tuesday June 07, 2011 - 03:25:00 PM
Elizabeth Palmer, Maggie Franks, James Udom, Jennie Angel, Joseph Brunicardi, Kerrie Wininger,
                Mark Farrell, Nicole Helfer, Maggie Connard, Isaiah Tyrelle, Giuliana Karezis, Adria Swan,
                Michelle Ianiro, Shaun Carroll.

CHICAGO, at the Willows Cabaret in Martinez isa great way to lose the blues with this competent and entertaining production. By the famous team of Kander and Ebb who wrote Tony Winners “Cabaret” and “Kiss of the Spider Woman,” CHICAGO is set in the Wild Mid-West during the bawdy, boozy, pre-code Prohibition ‘20’s.” CHICAGO ranks as one of the top five longest-running musicals on Broadway. -more-

Eye from the Aisle: The Night is Bitter at Center Rep’s BLUES

By John A. McMullen II
Tuesday June 07, 2011 - 03:03:00 PM
Armelia Mc Queen, Amanda Folena, Debbie de Coudreaux

Blues in the Night at Walnut Creek’s Center Rep just sort of sits there for the first act and maybe a third of the second act. There is only one short monologue, and the rest is singing, singing, singing about being lonely, abandoned, old, horny, or heartbroken. There is no dancing, though a choreographer is listed. When it’s all about singing, the singers better be pretty damn good; yet, despite all the extraordinary singing talent in the Bay Area, the singing for the first act of BLUES seems at the level of a good community theatre or an Oakland piano bar. The choice of songs for the first 60% of the show have a sameness to them, there are no fireworks or high notes, and everything is subdued and as uneventful as a dull night in the cheap hotel which is where this is set. -more-

Around & About Theater: FURY Factory theater festival

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

For the next three weeks (through June 26), about a dozen theater independent, stylized or experimental theater companies from the Bay Area and around America will stage major performances; another 20 troupes will put on works-in-progress at the annual FURY Factory, put on by foolsFURY, the Bay Area's innovative troupe, founded a decade ago by Ben Yalom, in partnership with ZSpace and Theatre of Yugen, at Theatre Artaud, NOHspace, The Jewish Theater and the Joe Goode Annex, all in San Francisco. -more-

Around & About: Indian Dance & Music

By Ken Bullock
Tuesday June 07, 2011 - 02:57:00 PM

Theater Review: "Care of Trees" at Shotgun Players

By Ken Bullock
Wednesday June 08, 2011 - 11:43:00 AM

"I submit there are no permanent structures in the idea of Nature."

Care of Trees opens with Travis (Patrick Russell) digging in the earth: "I tried to begin.I can't begin ... " -more-

Don't Miss This! Summer by the Bay

By Dorothy Snodgrass
Tuesday June 07, 2011 - 02:48:00 PM

So you think things slow down in the Bay Area in June, with little of interest to do? Au contraire! Catch some of the activities and cultural events offered this summer and you'll change your mind. -more-