The Week

The corner of University and Bonar in Berkeley was the scene of this crash at midday Tuesday.
Carol Denney
The corner of University and Bonar in Berkeley was the scene of this crash at midday Tuesday.


Senator Hancock (D-Berkeley) Introduces Bill to Ban Death Penalty in California

By Jeff Shuttleworth (BCN)
Monday June 27, 2011 - 02:22:00 PM

State Sen. Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley, is introducing legislation today that would replace the death penalty in California with permanent imprisonment. -more-

Woman Killed by Train at Ashby BART in Berkeley

By Jeff Shuttleworth (BCN)
Monday June 27, 2011 - 03:18:00 PM

A woman was killed by a train at BART's Ashby station in Berkeley today in an apparent suicide, according to transit agency spokesman Jim Allison. -more-

Updated: Ashby BART Station Closed Because of Accident: Patron Under Train

From Pam Scullen (Reader Report)
Monday June 27, 2011 - 02:22:00 PM

BART Alert Reports:

Mon, 27 Jun 2011 1:26 PM (40 mins 5 secs ago)


Recommendations to Eliminate the Presence of Guns at Berkeley Unified School District Schools

By Neil Smith, Assistant Superintendent, Educational Services, and Susan Craig, Ed.D., Director, Student Services, Berkeley Unified School District
Saturday June 25, 2011 - 03:45:00 PM


Recent incidents involving Berkeley High School (BHS) and Berkeley Technology Academy (B-Tech) students in possession of firearms are of serious concern to the District and community of Berkeley. Ensuring the safety of Berkeley Unified School District (BUSD) students and staff is of paramount importance. The District and administration have responded with several measures to address the presence of weapons on campus and are continuing to take steps to address and ensure safety at BUSD schools. District staff has presented a progress report on the steps being taken at each Board meeting this spring.

This report includes a list of the actions taken to date as well as a list of the topics and recommendations from the Superintendent’s Ad Hoc Safety Committee -more-

How Berkeley Tea Partier Hijacked Redistricting Reform (News Analysis)

By Justine Sharrock (New America Media)
Friday June 24, 2011 - 01:06:00 PM

Few ordinary Californians have been more intensely interested in the state’s new Citizens Redistricting Commission than Berkeley-based Tea Party activist David Salaverry.

Back in March, he realized that the fledgling panel, with its 14 citizen members drawing political districts instead of politicians and its commitment to openness and transparency instead of behind-the-scenes deal-making, offered a golden opportunity for conservative Californians to influence the redistricting process at a time when their political clout was waning in other ways.

The cabinet-maker and building contractor sent email blasts to “patriot” groups around the Bay Area, encouraging them to attend meetings and to write and call the commissioners. He ran small training sessions for local Tea Partiers explaining the redistricting process and outlining main talking points—especially the idea that the commission should be “colorblind” in drawing political maps.

Salaverry, dubbed the “redistricting Paul Revere,” by right-wing blogger Dell Hill, received an enthusiastic response and has helped Tea Partiers dominate public input at commission meetings far beyond the Bay Area. “It all happened very quickly,” Salaverry said by phone while waiting for his two-minute time slot to testify before the commissioners at a Culver City meeting last week. -more-

US Mayors to Obama: Bring War Money Home! Ban the Bomb!

ByGar Smith
Wednesday June 22, 2011 - 12:30:00 PM

'That we would build bridges in Baghdad and Kandahar and not Baltimore and Kansas City, absolutely boggles the mind.'
-- Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa

BALTIMORE (At its annual meeting in Baltimore on June 20, 2011, the US Conference of Mayors passed two historic resolutions. One called on Washington to end of our current wars to "bring … war dollars home to meet vital human needs." The other, introduced by Oakland Mayor Jean Quan on behalf of Mayors for Peace, called for nuclear disarmament, which would free billions of dollars to address unemployment in America’s cities. -more-

Nuclear Weapons -- at What Cost?

Jackie Cabasso / Western States Legal Foundation
Thursday June 23, 2011 - 01:13:00 PM

It is nearly impossible to calculate total annual US spending on nuclear weapons in a consistent manner. As explained by the Federation of American Scientists (1): “Most US Government spending on nuclear weapons-related programs is unclassified. But it is functionally secret since such spending is widely dispersed across many programs in several agencies and it is not formally tracked or reported.”

Further complicating the calculation is determining the scope of programs functionally intertwined with the most obvious ones: research, development, testing and production of nuclear warheads and their delivery systems. According to an analysis by the Carnegie Endowment (2), the US spent over $52 billion in FY 2008 for nuclear weapons and related programs. This includes nuclear forces and operational support, deferred environmental and health costs, missile defense, nuclear threat reduction, and nuclear incident management. It does not include classified programs, air defense, anti-submarine warfare, or nuclear weapons related intelligence programs. -more-

Civil Disobedience in a Public Park and When Does “Adopt a Spot” Become “Own a Spot?” (Partisan Position)

By Robert Brokl
Wednesday June 22, 2011 - 03:51:00 PM

“Turf Battles” may be the new recreational activity in public parks, with public resources stretched to breaking, volunteerism (often with strings) expected to make up the slack, and “urban agriculture” the new big thing...Toss into the mix a dysfunctional city government and turf will fly.... -more-

Press Release: Berkeley Strong Arm Robbery at Kittredge Street and Shattuck Avenue on Sunday Afternoon

From the UC Berkeley Police Department
Tuesday June 21, 2011 - 03:49:00 PM

On Sunday, June 19, 2011 at approximately 2:30 p.m., a 21-year-old female, affiliation unknown, was the victim of a strong arm robbery. The victim was standing at the intersection of Kittredge and Shattuck when she was approached by the male suspect who grabbed her iPhone. The suspect entered a 1990s green Jeep Cherokee and fled the scene traveling eastbound on Kittredge. The victim was not injured during the encounter. BPD searched the area but was unable to find the suspect or the vehicle. -more-

Musical Snapshots at the Garden of Memories

By Steven Finacom
Wednesday June 22, 2011 - 09:52:00 AM

Hundreds of locals, many from Berkeley, flocked to the “Garden of Memories” concert that has become an East Bay Summer Solstice tradition at the Chapel of the Chimes on Piedmont Avenue in Oakland. -more-

Quiet on the set?: Filming a unicorn movie in Berkeley this week

By Jane Stillwater
Friday June 24, 2011 - 02:52:00 PM

Since it was founded back in 1880, Berkeley High School has been industriously busy cranking out whole bunches of amazingly wonderful graduates who have then gone on to do amazingly wonderful things. One of these amazingly wonderful graduates is my son Joe -- who is currently working as a sound mixer on a movie written and directed by Leah Meyerhoff, another amazingly wonderful graduate of Berkeley High. -more-

Berkeley's Medheads Watching Their Backs
After Med Mezzanine Takeover Last Month

By Ted Friedman
Wednesday June 22, 2011 - 11:20:00 AM
Shot from the the mezzanine of Caffe Med after police takeover terrorizes  famous Teley haunt. When will danger strike again?--

Last month's 20 minute police "take-over" at Berkeley's hottest South side location, the historic Caffe Mediterraneum (it's Landmarked!), leaves Medheads asking whether their haunt has their backs covered or has inserted a knife. -more-



Unravelling the Library Tangle

By Becky O'Malley
Friday June 24, 2011 - 02:02:00 PM

Berkeley’s branch libraries are back in the spotlight. I imagine Planet readers are just about as tired of the topic as we are, but architect Todd Jersey’s recent apologia has brought the question to the fore once again.

Mr. Jersey is a very fine architect, but he’s not much of a lawyer, it seems. He made a completely appropriate professional decision to create a demonstration plan, more of a sketch really, of possible alternative plans for rebuilding the branches. Then in his recent letter he says “Obviously I failed to understand the amount of community investment in the work done by the other firms and furthermore, that in a lawsuit, there really is no opportunity for discourse.”

Well, no. Despite the bad press they seem to be getting lately, lawsuits exist to provide a structured opportunity for discourse when informal discourse has failed. They do a reasonably good job of cleaning up messes made by sloppy drafting of legal agreements of all kinds. What Mr. Jersey and others fail to understand is that the Concerned Library Users suit has little to do with architecture and everything to do with process, legal process. -more-

The Editor's Back Fence

Updated: The Editorial is Late, Sorry

Wednesday June 22, 2011 - 12:27:00 PM

The editor is "on vacation" this week, but has finally written an editorial. There are also some late submissions which have been posted late, and keep checking this space for more. -more-


Cartoon Page: Odd Bodkins, BOUNCE

Wednesday June 22, 2011 - 12:32:00 PM

Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

Monday June 20, 2011 - 11:21:00 AM

Prevention and Health -more-

Another Anti-homeless Ballot Measure? Really?

By Carol Denney
Tuesday June 21, 2011 - 03:50:00 PM

The Berkeley City Council may not have the stomach to pass another anti-homeless law on their own, but they’re counting on another creatively-named ballot measure to accomplish the task on the grounds of refusing to “enable” people to sit on the sidewalks, thus frittering away days better spent polishing the handle on the big front door. -more-

Berkeley Branch Libraries and the Richmond Plunge

By Todd Jersey
Tuesday June 21, 2011 - 02:42:00 PM

EDITOR'S NOTE: This letter was forwarded to the Planet not by Mr. Jersey, but by a third party, but we are reprinting it since it is part of the public record because it was sent to the Berkeley City Council.

June 17, 2011

To: Members of the Berkeley City Council, Mayor Tom Bates and City Manager Phil Kamlarz

From: Todd Jersey, AIA

RE: Clarifications and apologies regarding my work with the branch libraries and clarifications on my work with the Richmond Plunge -more-

Dona's Last Wish: Save the Warm Pool in Berkeley

By Lori Kossowsky
Wednesday June 22, 2011 - 03:19:00 PM

When Dona Spring died almost three years ago she was fighting to make sure the warm pool would continue and that a bond that would most likely pass would be on the ballot. Dona, who was severely disabled for quite some time, knew how the warm pool was a life line and in many cases a life and death resource for many of its users. Her last words before she died to Vice Mayor Linda Maio, were about the continuation of the warm pool. -more-

Reducing the Cost of Commissions in Berkeley

By Councilmember Kriss Worthington
Tuesday June 21, 2011 - 03:35:00 PM

To: Honorable Mayor and Members of the City Council

From: Councilmember Kriss Worthington

Subject: Referral to City Manager: Implement City Commissioners’ Cost Saving Ideas


Refer to the City Manager the following suggestions: Schedule multiple commissions to meet in the same place on the same day. Encourage distribution of agenda packets via email. Allow commissioners to draft minutes from audio recordings after the meetings,rather than requiring staff to make up minutes during the meeting. This makes minutes more comprehensive for one, and could reduce staff costs quite drastically. -more-

Petition re Parks and Pools

By H. Scott Prosterman
Wednesday June 22, 2011 - 11:41:00 AM

We, the undersigned DEMAND the immediate resignations of Berkeley Parks, Rec & Waterfront Administrators Phil Harper-Cotton, Scott Ferris and William P. Rogers. We make this demand on the basis of the mean spirited, cavalier and arrogant performances of these three directors, which has resulted in destruction of the Berkeley Aquatic System including: -more-


The Public Eye: Obama’s Tipping Point

By Bob Burnett
Monday June 20, 2011 - 10:22:00 AM

This summer there’s a lot at stake in Washington. The Congress and the White House are struggling over an agreement to extend the US debt limit before the August 2nd deadline. Meanwhile the economy has slowed and we may be sliding back into a recession, so a second stimulus is being debated. We’re heading for a Tipping Point that will determine Obama’s political future. -more-

Ticks, Squirrels, Lizards, and Spirochetes

By Joe Eaton
Tuesday June 21, 2011 - 03:45:00 PM
Western gray squirrel: reservoir species for the Lyme pathogen.

Science writers are always in pursuit of a moving target. Unless you stick to a specialized beat, you often find yourself revisiting a subject you reported on earlier and finding that quite a bit has happened in the interim.

That’s certainly true of the research on the natural setting of Lyme disease, much of which has come out of the lab of UC-Berkeley medical entomologist Robert S. Lane. The last time I wrote about the disease was eleven years ago, shortly after May Kuo, then one of Lane’s graduate students, had identified the substance in the blood of western fence lizards and southern alligator lizards that kills the Lyme disease spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi. An infected western black-legged tick (Ixodes pacificus) can no longer transmit the disease after a blood meal from one of either of these lizard species. The substance, for the record, is a set of proteins called the alternative complement pathway. It’s a good thing both lizards are abundant within the tick’s California range. Other lizards have no apparent effect on the pathogen. -more-

Dispatches From The Edge: The Wars Come Home: The Traumatic Brain Injury Epidemic

By Conn Hallinan
Monday June 20, 2011 - 10:01:00 AM

“We are facing a massive mental health problem as a result of our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. As a country we have not responded adequately to the problem. Unless we act urgently and wisely, we will be dealing with an epidemic of service related psychological wounds for years to come.”

-----Bobby Muller, President Veterans for America

“The multiple nature of it [multiple tours and longer deployments] is unprecedented. People just get blasted and blasted and blasted.”

-----Maj. Connie Johnmeyer, 332nd Medical Group

According to official Defense Department (DOD) figures, 332,000 soldiers have suffered brain injuries since 2000, although most independent experts estimate that the number is over 400,000. Many of these are mild traumatic brain injuries (mTBI), a term that is profoundly misleading. -more-

Eclectic Rant: The Toxic Chinese Drywall Controversy

By Ralph E. Stone
Monday June 20, 2011 - 10:00:00 AM

I first became aware of the problem of toxic drywall manufactured in China during my 2010 visit to New Orleans. Many homeowners rebuilt their homes after Hurricane Katrina in August 2005, and Hurricane Rita in September 2005 using Chinese drywall. This drywall made occupants sick, corroded metal fixtures, and rendered homes unfit to live in. Homeowners had to tear out the drywall, corroded wiring, fixtures, etc. About 700 to 1,000 New Orleans families were affected. These hurricane victims suffered the initial trauma of damage to their homes, fixed up their damaged homes, and then faced the cost of removing Chinese drywall and corroded wiring. To add insult to injury, many of these homeowners had their claims denied by insurance companies because of insurance policy exclusions. -more-

On Mental Illness: The "R" Word

By Jack Bragen
Monday June 20, 2011 - 10:18:00 AM

About twenty years ago, when I spoke to the late Herb Putnam, (founder of the Putnam Clubhouse in Concord, who also served as president of NAMI, Contra Costa), about writing for the NAMI newsletter, he suggested that I might have something to say about relationships for persons with mental illness. At the time, (just as at many times), I was doing poorly in the area of employment but didn’t have much difficulty getting a date. -more-

Senior Power: Let Me Down Easy

By Helen Rippier Wheeler
Monday June 20, 2011 - 10:08:00 AM

In 1981, Anna Deavere Smith began to write and perform On the Road: A Search for American Character series of one-person plays. Using transcripts from interviews with a variety of people, she wove their stories together without changing their words. She spoke not only what her interviewees said but was careful to understand how they said it, noting every pause and body language. Critics called it ground-breaking, but Smith traced her work directly to the African storytelling tradition of the griot, a storyteller in western Africa who perpetuates the oral tradition and history of a village or family.

Sixty-one year old Anna Deavere Smith is an acclaimed actor-writer-producer of unique solo documentaries. She is performing at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre through July 10th in her creation, Let Me Down Easy. -more-

Arts & Events

Press Release: 2011 Berkeley Arts Festival
July 12 – August 14

Thursday June 23, 2011 - 02:20:00 PM

This year’s BAF venue is 2133 University Ave, Berkeley,CA.

Every year the volunteer-driven Berkeley Arts Festival commandeers a vacant retail space in downtown Berkeley for an extraordinary month of music, arts, activist and literary offerings. A dormant, often badly in need of renovation space – past years have included historic banks, UC Berkeley office space, and the former Edy’s Coffee Shop – is transformed into an art gallery and a concert hall, complete with carefully chosen grand piano and state of the art Meyer Sound system. This year’s edition is snugly tucked between two venerable downtown Berkeley institutions: Long Life Veggie House and Ace Hardware.

Because the use of these spaces is donated, and they are often in a state of ownership transition and/or construction, the “lead time” of the festival, when publicity can be generated, is typically very short. We rely on word of mouth, and friends forwarding our schedule to their friends.

Berkeley Arts Festival Schedule:July 12-August 14, 2011 -more-

Theater Review: Down a Little Dirt Road--Just Theater at the Berkeley City Club

By Ken Bullock
Wednesday June 22, 2011 - 09:50:00 AM

Alice, a young girl, tells fantastic stories about her family life at Show & Tell in school ... Alice and her father, a seismologist, live alone in Parkville, on the San Andreas Fault in the Coast Range (not far, curiously, from where James Dean bought it), sharing their shadowy dreams about her late mother, his wife ... The earth shakes; Alice's house--the walls of the theater--tremble. Only Alice and her father seem to feel it ... -more-

Theater Review: "Let Me Down Easy"

By Ken Bullock
Monday June 20, 2011 - 10:29:00 AM

"It's a suspicious thing, medicine. It's black magic. It's mojo. And it scares me." -more-

Eye from the Aisle: Local Masquers Playwright in Samuel French OOB Finals in NYC

By John A. McMullen II
Monday June 20, 2011 - 10:28:00 AM
Rana Kangas-Kent, Conrad Cady

Playwrights come from motley day-jobs: George Bernard Shaw was an estate-office clerk, Anton Chekhov was a physician, and Jim Colgan is an asbestos defense attorney.

Local playwright Colgan’s “The Story of Oh” was one of the 40 out of 1000+ applicants selected for the Samuel French OFF-OFF- Broadway Festival of Short Plays in NYC in July. -more-

Theater Review: Metamorphosis at Aurora

By Ken Bullock
Wednesday June 22, 2011 - 09:57:00 AM

A pair of shoes on the floor of the parlor of the Samsa family home. The Father (Allen Mckelvey), staring at the shoes, calls the Mother (Madeline H. D. Brown) to see them, as their daughter Grete (Megan Trout) hovers near--and son Gregor (Alexander Crowther) lies in bed--or rather on an iron bed-frame on a tilted floor that resembles a washboard (Nina Ball's compact, homey yet vertiginous set)--upstairs in his room, not having gone to work ... -more-

Art Review: "The Steins Collect"

By Dorothy Snodgrass
Monday June 20, 2011 - 11:19:00 AM

This past Tuesday afternoon I had enormous pleasure, and I might say, inspiration, when I attended the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art's fabulous exhibit, "The Steins Collect." Having over the years visited magnificent art galleries in Europe -- the Louvre, National Gallery in London, and the Pitti Palace in Florence, I assumed this exhibit would be anticlimactic and rather ordinary. I was sadly mistaken! -more-