A small earthquake occurred in Berkeley this morning, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. -more-
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-
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-
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-
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-
Press Release: So Much for Digital Democracy: New U.C. Berkeley Study Finds Elite Viewpoints Dominate Online Content
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-
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-
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-
“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-
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-
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-
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-
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-
More about the Branch Libraries Controversy; Catholic Laundries; Republicans; Interfering; Shrinking Meat; Fair Share; Prison Overcrowding; Public Servants -more-
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-
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-
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-
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-
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
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-
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-
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-
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-
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-
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-
"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-