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Alice Waters faces a group of children while being interviewed about the Chez Panisse 40th Anniversary.
Steven Finacom
Alice Waters faces a group of children while being interviewed about the Chez Panisse 40th Anniversary.


Another Bad Experience with EDD and BofA (Commentary)

By Marilyn Shaw
Friday September 02, 2011 - 01:10:00 PM

This email is written in response to Gar Smith's story, dated August 31, 2011, concerning the State of California outsourcing and processing of unemployment benefits through Bank of America.

I have an interesting story and more information to add to this story. I personallly believe this process is just another way of bilking the middle class and poor people of this nation. Below is my recent experience concerning this matter. 

After having to wait an additional 6 days from the day I originally receive my unemployment check, I finally received my debit card. Now, keep in mind, I am in total agreement with Mr. Smith's line of questioning to the State of California, wherein he questioned why couldn't the unemployment beneficiary just do direct deposit with the State of California instead of BofA. In my case, I was informed by B of A that the processing takes place in the State of Georgia. Yes. Georgia. Which means that some folks here have probably lost their jobs, but I digressed. 

After receipt of my card, I telephoned the customer service number provided on a white, pull-off strip, taped on the face of the card. After listening to the ranting of an exasperated rep on the other end, who informed me in his southernly accent that all of the computers had "crashed", I proceeded to share some of my own concerns for BofA's new scheme. I inquired about fees; whether I could use the card at my own bank; how much could be withdraw at one time; and the process for automatic deposit. The rep informed me that, if this was the first time that I was using the card, that he would discourage me from attempting to have B of A set up a direct deposit on the first attempt. He continued by saying, "You may have some problems with seeing your money, late, if you will see it at all!" I was astonished! I then told him that, perhaps it would be better for me to just go directly to BofA and withdraw my money and then take it to my bank. He responded, "I would if I were you." So, I proceeded to do this. 

I went to my nearby BofA and withdrew the maximum amount off my card. Here's the kicker (on this day). The teller informed me that I would have to make a request for the amount that was available on the card. For example, I could withdraw, let's say $400.00 dollars on the card, if I had $401.00 on the card. However, if I had only $399.99 on the card, and I attempt to withdraw $400.00, the card would become invalid for 24 hours at BofA. The teller went on to explain to me that my debit card was like using a, "gift" card" (to hell with my having worked over 38 years to receive this benefit). She said that, as with a gift card, you could have more, not less than the amount you requested, or the card would be invalid. Having not used the card before, I was aware of exactly how much was on the card and proceeded to withdraw all of it out, drove over to my own bank, and deposited it. WTH! 

This was just one of things the State of California failed to inform the unemployed about before rolling out this program. Here's a few more annoyances: 

1. BofA debit card has a Visa logo. A lot of banks, including my own, process only Mastercard. 

2. In order to have your check deposited automatically into your own bank account, I was informed that you should "use" the card this time around and then attempt to have automatic deposit processed. Oh, by the way, go into a BofA bank to do this. At which time, management will attempt to give you a hard sell on the value of opening an account with B of A and the "trouble of having to go all the way to your own bank" line (which I experienced). 

3. You can use BoA's ATM for free withdrawals(for now). The institutions will continue to 

3. To have your check automatically deposited, you have to have an email. Why? Marketing/sharing of info (that's my answer). 

Another interesting thing happened to me concerning this fiasco. I have had a relationship with my bank for over 16 years. I don't have one with BofA. So, when I waltzed into BofA yesterday, I was able to provide them with my driver's license, which is in my former married name; my social security card; and birth certificate. That was sufficient yesterday. Not today. When I went into BofA today (8/31), I was informed that those forms of identification were no longer sufficient. I now needed to have a government I.D. "Government?" I exclaimed. I had my old former employer's I.D., but that was a quasi-governmental agency. "What kinda' government I.D," I repeated. The supervising teller retorts, "Passport." "A passport?" I said. Who in the hell is walking around with a passport, and since when was that required in the State of California or country of the United States." I then proceeded to show her my receipt from the previous day, proof that it was accepted before by BofA. She refused it and told me that I would have to have a name change. WTF!!!!!! 

I proceeded to go to the DMV and underwent a non-appointment nightmare. At the DMV, I was then told that in order to have a name change I would have to go to the County Registrar (20 miles away, again another non-appointment nightmare) to obtain a copy of my divorce papers! (This is the feature story of my BofA experience. I swear, I should have had a camera crew with me. No one would have believed my day). I digressed, again. Hours later and after speaking with a more reasonable department head there, I successfully obtained a printout for my name change. 

Equipped with my new name change, I proceeded back to the BofA. With a line of 50 people deep, at least, I gave up for the day. 

I shall go back to BofA today, and attempt to withdraw my money. If BofA does not accept my old driver's license and printout, I will walk directly out of their bank and right up to their ATM, and withdraw my money out tomorrow and the following day. 

I pray that my new pictured I.D. will arrive within the next two weeks when, again, I am to have my unemployment disbursed. I would not wish this frustration upon my worst enemy. I also pray that Mr. Gar continue with this investigation and follow the lead that goes right into the slippery palm or palms that no doubt has or have been greased.

Point Molate Indian Gaming Application Denied

By Tom Butt, Richmond City Councilmember
Friday September 02, 2011 - 10:35:00 AM

The Department of the Interior has denied the Guidiville Band’s “restored lands” gaming application under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act and determined that the Band does not have a modern connection to the proposed gaming site in Richmond and that the band does not have a significant historical connection to the proposed gaming site in Richmond. 

Among other things, this decision renders moot for once and for all any criticisms by the Chamber of Commerce and others about the City Council’s decision to discontinue pursuit of the proposed Upstream gaming project at Point Molate. 

[The U.S. Secretary of Interior's office issued the following press release today:] 

Date: September 2, 2011 

Contact: Adam Fetcher (202) 208-6416 

Assistant Secretary Echo Hawk Issues Four Decisions on Tribal Gaming Applications 

Washington, D.C. – Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Indian Affairs Larry Echo Hawk today issued decisions on four tribal gaming applications in California and New Mexico, determining that two of the proposed gaming sites meet the legal and regulatory requirements and two do not. 

Assistant Secretary Echo Hawk determined that a proposed gaming facility in Yuba County, California would be in the best interest of the Enterprise Rancheria of Maidu Indians, and would not be detrimental to the surrounding community. He made a similar determination for the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians for a proposed gaming facility in Madera County, California. 

“Our responsibility under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act is clear: we must review each application on a case by case basis and determine whether it meets the standards outlined in law and regulation,” said Echo Hawk. “Following a careful and thorough review of the applications from the Enterprise Rancheria and the North Fork Rancheria tribes, I have determined that both tribes’ applications meet the strong standards under the law. Both tribes have historical connections to the proposed gaming sites, and both proposals have strong support from the local community, which are important factors in our review." 

The Assistant Secretary also issued two negative decisions on other tribal gaming applications: one for the Guidiville Band of Pomo Indians in California, and the other for the Pueblo of Jemez, in New Mexico. 

The Guidiville Band of Pomo Indians had sought to develop a gaming facility in Richmond California, more than 100 miles from its existing tribal lands in Mendocino County. The Pueblo of Jemez is located northwest of Albuquerque, and was seeking to develop a class III gaming facility nearly 300 miles away in DonÞa Ana County, near the New Mexico-Texas border. 

“We have closely reviewed the proposals from the Guidiville Band of Pomo Indians and the Pueblo of Jemez and have determined that they do not meet the requirements under the law necessary for approval,” said Echo Hawk. “The Guidiville Band’s application did not satisfy many of the requirements to develop a gaming facility at that particular site. With the Pueblo of Jemez, we had significant concerns about the Tribe’s ability to effectively exercise jurisdiction over a parcel nearly 300 miles from its existing reservation.” 

The Enterprise Rancheria of Maidu Indians is headquartered in Butte County, 36 miles from the proposed 40-acre gaming site. The North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians is headquartered in Madera County, California, 36 miles from the proposed 305-acre gaming site. Both tribes submitted applications under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act’s “Secretarial Determination” exception, which allows tribes to conduct gaming on lands outside of their existing reservation where the Department determines that it would be in the best interest of the tribe and its members, and not detrimental to the surrounding community. 

Under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, the Governor of the State of California has one year to concur in the Assistant Secretary’s determinations on the Enterprise Rancheria and the North Fork Rancheria, before the parcels can be acquired in trust for each tribe to conduct gaming. If the Governor does not concur in the Assistant Secretary’s determination for each tribe, respectively, then that tribe may not conduct gaming on the proposed site. 

The Guidiville Band sought to develop its facility under what is known as the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act’s “equal footing exception.” IGRA prohibits Indian gaming on lands acquired in trust after its enactment in 1988, unless one of three explicitly crafted exceptions applies. The “equal footing exception,” was intended to ensure that a number of tribes had an equal opportunity to pursue Indian gaming on their own lands as those tribes that had lands eligible for gaming in 1988. 

Under one sub-category of this exception, a tribe must demonstrate both modern and significant historical connections to the proposed gaming site. The Guidiville Band failed to demonstrate that it had either a modern connection or a significant historical connection to the proposed gaming site in Richmond, California. 

The Pueblo of Jemez was also seeking to develop its gaming facility under the Secretarial Determination exception. The Department did not issue a determination on whether the proposed gaming facility would be in the best interest of the Tribe, and not detrimental to the surrounding community. Instead, the Department notified the Tribe that it would not acquire the land in trust because of concerns about the Tribe’s ability to effectively exercise jurisdiction on the proposed gaming site. 

For more information, click here. 


Updated: Tire Damage Total in South Berkeley and North Oakland Affects 74 Cars

Press Release From Sergeant Mary C. Kusmiss S-6,BPD Public Information Officer
Thursday September 01, 2011 - 10:31:00 PM

As of this writing, 8:45 p.m., the City of Berkeley Police Department (BPD) has made no arrest(s) for the vandalism of tires in South Berkeley. The investigation is continuing and Officers are pursuing some potentially viable leads. The total documented count of vehicles that had tires damaged is 74. (61 in Berkeley, 13 in Oakland) 

Last night, Berkeley community members who had returned home from the day’s activities called to report additional tires punctured, some of which had been documented earlier by officers who had not been able to contact the registered owners, thus we are in the process of getting an exact number of cars, vans and trucks for you.”

String of Crimes Starts New School Year at U.C. Berkeley

By Laura Dixon (BCN)
Thursday September 01, 2011 - 10:27:00 PM

As students head back to the University of California at Berkeley for a new school year, police said there have been a string of armed robberies and sexual assaults on or near campus over the past 10 days. 

In two separate armed robberies Saturday around 9 p.m., two male UC Berkeley students walking near campus said men threatened them, stealing one student's cash and both victims' iPhones, according to police reports.  

Police said the crimes came on the heels of a similar armed robbery and three sexual assaults on or near school property. 

On Aug. 21 and Aug. 22, while many UC Berkeley students were settling into new dorms and apartments, three women reported being groped by men on or near campus. 

In the early hours of Aug. 21, a woman was walking through campus west of Oxford Street when a man approached her and grabbed her groin and breasts, police said. 

In the two days that followed, two women -- a student's mother and a 19-year-old student -- reported being inappropriately grabbed by men while walking on or near campus. 

Suspects were arrested in each sexual assault case after victims positively identified the men, said UC Berkeley police Lt. Marc DeCoulode. 

Police said the sexual assaults were not related and none of the victims were injured. 

DeCoulode said Berkeley tends to see more armed robberies around the start of the school year, due largely to the sudden population spike caused by waves of new and returning students. 

He also said a lack of awareness on the part of some students can make them easy targets for armed robbers.  

DeCoulode urged students to use common sense and take advantage of free UC Berkeley Police Department services such as Bear Walk, in which students can call a campus police officer to escort them on or around campus at night. 

For more information on UC Berkeley Police Department safety services and tips, visit http://police.berkeley.edu/safetyinfo/.  




Copyright © 2011 by Bay City News, Inc. -- Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited. 


Press Release: Berkeley Unified School District Shows Gains on the API and AYP

From Debbi D'Angelo Garcia, Director Berkeley Evaluation & Assessment (BEA) Berkeley Unified School District
Wednesday August 31, 2011 - 02:24:00 PM

The California Department of Education released the 2011 Accountability Progress Report today. This annual report contains two sections: 1) the state Academic Performance Index (API) measuring year-to-year growth in academic achievement that a school or local educational agency (LEA) has made, and 2) the federal Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) measuring how well a school meets minimum performance targets.  

Academic Performance Index (API) - Berkeley Unified School District (BUSD) had an overall growth of 5 points on the Academic Performance Index (API). BUSD saw overall API increases of 31 points for English Learners, and 11 points for Socio-Economically Disadvantaged students as a result of targeted instruction to increase background knowledge and academic vocabulary.  

82% of BUSD’s elementary schools (9 of 11) have exceeded the statewide API target of 800 or above. These schools have shown significant increases on the API, an average 6-point gain. 100% of BUSD Middle Schools have now exceeded the API target with an average 21 point gain.  

“The API gains demonstrate a steady improvement in our efforts to raise the achievement of students of all groups of students and close differences between them. We are pleased with the continued progress in our K-8 Schools and that for the first time in six years testing enough students in High School to receive and API. Our High School is engaged in studying the data and examining our instructional program through the WASC Accreditation Process. We look forward to future improvements in high school performance just as we have seen recently in our Elementary and Middle Schools,” said Bill Huyett, BUSD Superintendent. 

A more in-depth review of the data indicates that three of the BUSD elementary schools made gains exceeding an average of 20 points on the API in one year that includes meeting the state’s growth targets for school wide and for all significant subgroups of students. Specifically, Jefferson Elementary School’s API score jumped 24 points to reach 918, placing it in the top 20% of all Alameda County schools in terms of achievement. Rosa Parks Elementary School’s API score was up 28 points reaching an API score of 825 which far surpassed the target of 800 and scores for their Socio-Economically Disadvantaged (SED) students increased by 56 points, leading the county in growth.  

We are especially proud of our Middle School achievement. Willard Middle School’s API score increased 30 points school wide. At Willard, the subgroups of African-American, Hispanic/Latino and Socio-economically disadvantaged showed an average growth of 25 points. King Middle School increased by 22 points on their API score and Longfellow increased by 10 API points school wide. 

In High School, this is the first year since 2002 that Berkeley High School has had an API based on increased participation rates. With participation rates of over 95%, the API of 713 serves as a baseline from which to set targets. Looking solely at the Elementary and Middle Schools, the District made an average 9 point gain on the API. Due to the increase in the number of students taking the test at the high school, the measurement of growth at the high-school was not possible.  

Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) - The statewide Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) targets increased from last year by 11% for English Language Arts and by 10.9% for Mathematics. The targets become more difficult to reach as more students must score proficient or advanced on the tests from the previous year. NCLB mandates that all students perform at the proficient level or above on statewide assessments in English-language arts and mathematics by 2014. California’s Annual Measurable Objectives, or AMOs, are the minimum percentages of students who are required to meet or exceed the proficient level on the statewide assessments used for AYP. Tests used to determine the AMOs vary by level. Elementary and Middle School AMOs use the California Standards Tests (CSTs), California Modified Assessment (CMA), and the California Alternative Performance Assessment (CAPA). High School AMOs are determined by the performance of 10th graders on the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE). In 2011, the district wide AMOs are 67% proficient or higher in ELA and 67.3% in Math. For K-8 schools, the rate is 67.6% in ELA, and 68.5% in Math. At the high school level, the AMOs are 66.7% in ELA and 66.1% in Math. 

Even with the significant increase in the percentage of students who must reach proficient or advanced on the test, there were five schools that have met or exceeded all components of their AYP targets. They are: Jefferson, Malcolm X and Rosa Parks Elementary Schools as well as King and Willard Middle Schools. At BUSD we look further at the increase in percentage at proficient and advanced and we have seen that increase overall and by students in the subgroups of African-American, Hispanic / Latino, English Learner and Socio-Economically Disadvantaged. In English Language Arts, seven schools met their AYP targets and eight schools showed an overall increased AYP for ELA. In Mathematics, ten schools met the AYP target and eleven made growth. The AYP reports also indicate an overall BUSD increase of percentage meeting target by 2.7% in ELA and 2.3% for Mathematics. In addition, BUSD showed gains for African-American students by 4.3 in ELA and 2.3 in Mathematics; for the Hispanic / Latino subgroup by 2.8 in ELA and 0.7 in Mathematics. The most significant gains were for our English Learners and Socio-Economically Disadvantaged (SED) Students. In English Language Arts, our English Learners made an 8% gain and our SED students made a 6.7% gain. In Math, our English Learners made a 5.4% gain and SED students made a 6.1% gain. Because of the significant gains made over time, BUSD made Adequate Yearly Progress through “Safe Harbor” for these two subgroups.  

“We want to acknowledge that our schools are working hard to accelerate learning of all of our students. These AYP results provide BUSD with an opportunity to reflect on our school improvement efforts as teachers, administrators and support staff will continue to move the District forward in a positive direction to ensure our students are learning,” said Neil Smith, Assistant Superintendent.  

The BUSD Board of Education, the District leadership, individual school site leadership teams and staff will continue to work collaboratively to conduct a thorough analysis of test results. Additional efforts in working with learning communities to develop action plans designed to provide direction in improving schools and educational program is a priority for the Superintendent and the Board of Education. 

At Play in the Garden of Chez Panisse

By Steven Finacom
Monday August 29, 2011 - 11:22:00 AM
A Berkeley Art Museum sculpture does double duty as a stand for fresh tomatoes during the OPENeducation event on August 27.
Steven Finacom
A Berkeley Art Museum sculpture does double duty as a stand for fresh tomatoes during the OPENeducation event on August 27.
Alice Waters faces a group of children while being interviewed about the Chez Panisse 40th Anniversary.
Steven Finacom
Alice Waters faces a group of children while being interviewed about the Chez Panisse 40th Anniversary.
The view of Waters from the student side.
Steven Finacom
The view of Waters from the student side.
A student from the Edible Schoolyard blows chaff from a handful of grain she has just threshed.
Andy Liu
A student from the Edible Schoolyard blows chaff from a handful of grain she has just threshed.
Herzog’s “shoe” is popped into the soup in a re-enactment of an event from Chez Panisse history.
Steven Finacom
Herzog’s “shoe” is popped into the soup in a re-enactment of an event from Chez Panisse history.
Before cooking, the pig-skin shoes sat among other soup ingredients.
Andy Liu
Before cooking, the pig-skin shoes sat among other soup ingredients.
The “OBUGS Pickle Workshop” did a brisk business.
Steven Finacom
The “OBUGS Pickle Workshop” did a brisk business.
Large cardboard letters became playthings in the garden as the afternoon wore on.
Steven Finacom
Large cardboard letters became playthings in the garden as the afternoon wore on.
Contra Costa Students prepared fresh fruit and herb beverages.
Steven Finacom
Contra Costa Students prepared fresh fruit and herb beverages.
Event attendees circulated through the outdoor sculpture garden of the Berkeley Art Museum, Pacific Film Archive.
Steven Finacom
Event attendees circulated through the outdoor sculpture garden of the Berkeley Art Museum, Pacific Film Archive.
Farmer Paul Cannard spoke from in front of a student festooned “police car”
              evoking the Free Speech Movement.
Steven Finacom
Farmer Paul Cannard spoke from in front of a student festooned “police car” evoking the Free Speech Movement.

Part selective 60s theme park, part serious educational and eating opportunity, and part sunny day of fun, what was dubbed “OPENeducation” drew hundreds to an outdoor carnival of food philosophy in the sculpture garden of the Berkeley Art Museum on Saturday, August 27, 2011.

It was one element of the celebration of the 40th anniversary of Berkeley’s Chez Panisse restaurant. Most of the other events publicized by the Chez Panisse Foundation (now morphing into the Edible Schoolyard Foundation) were pricey fundraising dinners and galas that unfolded over the week, at which the finely-fed and well-heeled paid anywhere from $100 to a couple of thousand dollars per person to partake.

In contrast, participants at OPENeducation who had made free advance reservations for timed entry were let in through the gates of the terraced sculpture garden that wraps around the west side of the massive concrete museum edifice on Bancroft Way. Each attendee’s hand was marked with a stamp that mimicked the Department of Agriculture stamps placed on inspected meat. 

The program handout described the event as “an educational experience based on curiosity, play, and desire…visitors shape their own education by participating in the creation, production, and consumption of food as collective performance.” It was, the program said, “part demystification of the lore of the kitchen and part tracing the genealogy of Chez Panisse and its influences—from the free speech movement to Edible Schoolyards…” 

It was a bit like a ‘60s carnival. Take a free speech stand on the cop car! See the anti-capitalists who brought food to the People! Back to the land! But it was also filled with interesting displays, people, and aromas. 

Goats to Loaves 

An outdoor alcove between two walls served as a temporary pen for a small herd of handsome goats. I thought for a moment that the gamboling kids might be there to be ceremonially butchered and cooked up delectably fresh. But, after consulting the program, I realized the juvenile goats were just along for the show; the real event was the adult goats, set to be milked at intervals during the day. 

On the other side of the wall, students from the Edible Schoolyard, the iconic educational creation of Chez Panisse founder Alice Waters, took sheaves of grain, beat them in bags against the concrete, winnowed out chaff, and invited visitors to help hand mill the result. There was also a bicycle-powered grinder enthusiastically operated by students.  

At the next station, staff from Acme Bakery (and some originals of the 1960s San Francisco “Digger” movement) used portable ovens—one ornamented with a clenched fist—and tin cans to bake hot loaves of brown bread that were then passed through the crowd. (The Diggers, who gave out free food, “were rumored to have introduced whole-wheat flour into US hippie counterculture”, the program noted). 

Waters Speaks 

Across the way a portable beehive attracted attention. Around the corner, there was a makeshift booth where various luminaries were interviewed on “A Curious Radio”, a summer project to introduce children to the medium. 

There Alice Waters herself held court for a while, seated at a rough wooden table, facing a mass of children like a fortuneteller ready to forecast the future or a victorious athlete talking to the press after the big match. One of the kids was interviewing her. 

Waters gracefully went through a verbal litany of the themes of the day. Buy local, eat fresh, avoid artificial ingredients, and know what you’re consuming. There was hardly a pause between each question and answer on topics that ranged from what she had for breakfast, to the nature of good food. 

“If you buy food that’s not good for you, and fast food, and from anonymous people, then it’s a whole different world”, she told her young interlocutor. Most of the other children crowded into the booth were raptly attentive; a few, pressed shoulder to shoulder, looked like they wished they were elsewhere, eating perhaps. 

Do you consider yourself a “foodie”?, the interviewer asked. 

“I don’t like that word. ‘Foodie’ is a type of people who eat in a crazy, passionate way”, Waters replied. “It’s a real pleasure to sit down and eat,” she concluded. “I call it just Life.” 

What’s the one thing you would do to change the country? “I would feed all children in school for free” with wholesome and nutritious food, she answered. 

When Waters finished the interview and got up, a crowd of admirers descended to press hands and get their pictures taken with her. She moved from group to group with the genuine and pleasant, but also slightly reserved or detached, air of someone who understands they have been appropriated as a public icon. 

Food Speech 

Further along the wall of the Museum a black and white Crown Victoria labeled with a Berkeley Police sticker was posed as a simulacrum of the famed vehicle that sparked the Free Speech Movement in Sproul Plaza.  

Various speakers, announcers, and interviewers climbed atop it. “This is a classroom, like all others,” one said. It recalled Sproul Plaza in 1964 where students gave impromptu speeches to the crowd from atop the roof of the surrounded police car containing activist Jack Weinberg. 

“Everyone should feel welcome to jump up on the car and hold forth”, the speaker encouraged. Chalk was available to write on the exterior of the car. 

Later, Paul Cannard, from Cannard Farms—one of the core suppliers to Chez Panisse—reversed the tables, speaking from the ground while leaning against the car, while asking his interviewers to climb on the vehicle. They complied, and at one point he had at least a dozen students perched up there. 

Cannard was loquaciously passionate. “Without that Free Speech Movement stuff we might not have had the evolution of the food movement”, he said. He noted that in the early 1960s there was only one farmer’s market in the Bay Area, at the Alemany maze in San Francisco. 

“Because of the activists who came from this police car hood, almost every ‘hood has a farmers’ market”, he proclaimed. 

Listening to Cannard speak, I was reminded of PBS self-improvement lectures. (KQED should sign up this guy). His words came out in a smooth torrent, sprinkled with technical terminology, as a growing crowd settled on the adjacent lawn to listen.  

What’s sustainable, the interviewer asked? “As far as I’m concerned, nothing is sustainable unless there’s a quotient of growth.”  

How has the local farming movement evolved? “40 years ago I started in this business and I was absolutely ridiculed by the powers that be”, he said. “But we’re still going.” “I’m a diversified big home gardener farmer”, he said. 

Statistics, calculations, and planting sequences unfolded. He noted that his farm was in Sonoma County, where there are about half a million residents. If each of those residents spent only two dollars a day on fresh grown local produce, he said, that would be a million dollars a day in gross revenue to help support local farms, many of which can get by on income of $100,000 a year. 

The interviewer asked whether any of his crops failed. It’s inevitable in any given year that something won’t do well, Cannard replied. But if you’re diversified, something else will be fine. This year, he said, lots of spring rain meant the peach crop wasn’t good, but the apples and pears flourished.  

What about pests, one of the students asked? “There’s no such thing as a pest in nature”, Cannard replied. “Bugs are like little agents of holistic mercy. They eliminate the weak and the sick.” 

Pickles and Tomatoes 

Around the perimeter of the garden and up on the overhanging terraces volunteers and staff from various organizations were busy making fresh food or showing visitors how to make it. There was a popular table run by OBUGS (Oakland Based Urban Gardens) where you could put up your own pickles in a bottle. 

A beautifully and intricately drawn chalkboard chart showed the progress of sustainably grown coffee from Central America to your local cup. Salsa was being made at one stand, tamales at another.  

Contra Costa College students were concocting “custom sodas, lemonade and aguas frescas with herbs, fruits, and honey from edible schoolyards” at another table, pouring and mixing the brilliantly colored juices in large glass chemical flasks. 

Large cardboard letters scattered around the garden, spelling out a quotation—“The work of art of the future will be the construction of a passionate life”. Participants were invited by the program to arrange them into new words. One guest spelled out “Alice”, against a wall. “Curious” and “Think” also appeared. 

One of the things Alice Waters had told the student interviewer was that she only eats tomatoes in season. It was the season, so up on the museum terrace I found a big wooden bowl of fresh cherry tomatoes in multiple colors.  

The bowl was rather precariously situated above the crowd, a story below, but was soon shifted a couple of feet to the lap of a bronze seated woman from the Museum sculpture collection. The figure gazed mutely down at the fresh bounty.  

I tried a few of the sun-warmed tomatoes. Not ambrosial, but pretty good. Nearby, visitors sat down to eat tamales and tacos on a multi-part Stephen De Staebler ceramic sculpture. 

Literary Jumble 

Moe’s Books had brought a bunch of books, staged next to a copy machine. Participants were invited to photocopy what they wished and assemble their own books. As the crowd milled about below, I stood on the terrace above and leafed through some of the books looking for a quote appropriate to the occasion.  

The writings of Herbert Marcuse? Nada. Perhaps this collection of essays by Huey Newton? The first thing I randomly turned to in it was a description of how he had burglarized homes in the upscale Berkeley and Oakland Hills in the 1960s. “I felt that white people were criminals because they plundered the world”, Newton wrote.  

Below, some forty years later, the crowd, appeared largely white and aged young to younger, with a few Asian and older faces scattered in—gathered to celebrate saving, or at least changing, the world through good eating. It was an audience that looked far more Caucasian than the Bay Shore East Bay in general, or even the UC students who trickled along the sidewalks outside the garden gates going about their Saturday errands and adventures. 

On the central lawn little kids were now enthusiastically sorting the cardboard letters. All pretense of making words had been given up. “O”s became hula-hoops, and “U”s were worn around the neck. Toddlers toddled about clutching “T”s as tall as themselves.  

A girl busily gathered the letters in a pile, and two boys began vigorously jumping up and down on them while their parents smiled indulgently, nibbled on fresh made tamales, and listened over their heads to the speakers on the police car.  

Nearby, in the goat enclosure, two little male kids were butting heads and pushing each other off the straw bales, while the adult goats stood placidly by, chewing apples. “They just love apples”, the goat handlers said.  

One rather independent goat explored the enclosure and found an empty cardboard box. Apparently not informed of the organic nature of the occasion she started ripping strips off it with her teeth and eating them, until someone noticed and took the box away. 

The crowd increased. Some of the free water stands went dry. Food lines grew, and impromptu seats on garden sculpture grew scarce. The goat milk candy maker somewhat testily informed visitors that it was one piece per person (the candy was delicious). 

Sow’s Shoe 

Over at the vegetable soup stand a Chez Panisse staffer posed in front of a small arc of cameramen, preparing to boil a specially made pigskin facsimile of Werner Herzog’s shoe. (In a widely publicized event in 1980, Alice Waters had cooked the real shoe of the filmmaker to help him settle a bet. A documentary had been made of that incident.)  

The fake shoe to be boiled today, the chef explained, would be combined with “summer vegetable soup with pesto”. He held up one of the shoes, and then ceremonially slipped in into a big steaming silver pot. The second shoe stayed dry. “This other one, I am keeping forever”, he said. 

As the afternoon moved on, I had to leave the event to run an errand in Downtown Berkeley half a mile from the Museum. As I passed by Civic Center Park, the weekly Farmers’ Market was wrapping up. Peaches, plums, summer squash, and booth after booth of other organic produce were enticingly arrayed along a block of Center Street. 

I thought it was as vivid an accidental expression of what Chez Panisse helped bring about as even Alice Waters might wish for. 


EDD Responds to BofA Debit Card Concerns

By Gar Smith
Wednesday August 31, 2011 - 09:39:00 AM

On August 16, a Planet investigation raised a number of questions about a decision by the State’s Employment Development Department (EDD) to partner with Bank of America to send BofA Debit Cards to all 1.2 million Californians collecting unemployment insurance. Initial attempts to contact the EDD failed. However, following the publication of our story, The Planet received an extensive response from the EDD’s Communications Manager Patti Roberts who offered to provide “clarification for some of the misinformation in the article.” Here is the latest.  

One major point EDD wished to make was that “Claimants do not need a Bank of America account to transfer money from their EDD Debit Card account to their personal bank account at another bank.”  

The Planet had already made note of this in our follow-up report. The Planet reported that, while this “BofA opt-out” option is clearly stated on the EDD’s Website (although you need to do some scrolling to find it), this option is not spelled out in BofA’s letter to its Debit Card recipients.  

EDD also states that: “Under contract, information cannot be used for marketing services of Bank of America, not will any information be shared to [sic] any other entity.”  

The problem is: the “Agreement” BofA sent with the cards (as required by federal law) states that information will be collected and will be shared for “joint marketing” purposes. So let’s just hope that EDD’s contract trumps BofA’s agreement.  

EDD concedes that BofA “charges $1 per withdrawal” from non-BofA ATMs (the first two withdrawals are free) but EDD believes that “the fee structure negotiated with BofA is probably more favorable than many people have with their own bank accounts.” EDD also notes: “A National Consumer Law Center report ranked California’s debit card as one of the two best in the nation because of the services provided to claimants for little or no fees.”  

But why are there any fees at all? Couldn’t EDD have sent its own letter to its 1.2 million California claimants with instructions on how to arrange for direct deposit transfers into the banks of their choosing? The Planet has yet to receive an explanation of why this route was not pursued.  

BofA initially explained that the card was being introduced to make check-cashing “Faster, Easier, and More Secure.” The EDD’s response provided a more reasonable rationale for introducing a plastic card — the card was created “for those without a checking account.” With the new card, EDD explains, “they no longer have to pay to get their checks cashed at a check-cashing facility.”  

This makes sense. But why, then, was the card imposed on all EDD claimants, including the majority who already have existing bank accounts?  

And, if servicing the poor is the goal, does BofA offer the best coverage in low-income communities? In Berkeley, four of the bank’s six offices are clustered in the downtown/campus area with a fifth branch on a commercial stretch of College Avenue. There is only one branch to serve all the residents of West Berkeley (located at 2546 San Pablo Avenue).  

EDD has also provided another argument for “going plastic” in these uncertain times: “Continual delivery of benefits in the event of a disaster when mail service can be disrupted.” But what kind of calamity would disrupt mail carriers while leaving the electric grid and computer networks unscathed?  

So how did BofA wind up with this exclusive contract to service 1.2 million job-seeking Californians? According to the EDD, the department “followed required state procurement protocol. BofA was the only financial institution that submitted a proposal that met all our requirements and offered almost no fees to claimants.” (That sounds a lot more transparent that the explanation offered by a BofA representative who told The Planet the contract was awarded because “EDD is a customer of the Bank.”)  

EDD emphasizes that this flood of fiscal plastic comes at “no cost to EDD” since the BofA “is covering its costs through fees paid by banks and merchants who honor the cards.”  

And how much money might this practice be raking in? The State’s merchants routinely impose a 3% service fee on the purchase price for every credit card or debit card transaction. (This difference is visible at some gas stations that post a higher price-per-gallon for credit-card users.)  

According to EDD statistics, the average monthly payment claim is $1,180. Let’s assume that half of the people receiving the new card will use it to bank with BofA (either because they don’t know about the “opt-out” provision or because they don’t have the equipment or computer skills to transfer their funds online). That would amount to 600,000 Californians following BofA’s admonition to “make purchases everywhere Visa® debit cards are accepted.”  

And if all 600,000 of these users spent all of this money on purchases made through their convenient new BofA cards, that would amount to $8.5 billion a year. BofA’s three-percent fee on all those purchases would reap $255 million a year. Such a tidy sum should certainly help BofA “cover its costs.”  

A subsequent email from Loree Levy, EDD’s Deputy Director of Public Affairs, explained why the new debit cards appeared to have been mailed from a mysterious EDD office in Gray, Tennessee.  

“There are very few locations in the country that produce debit cards,” Levy informed The Planet. “Unfortunately, none of them are in California.” EDD’s “banking partner,” BofA uses “a card production supplier that produces in a facility in Atlanta. The Tennessee address is for a Bank of America customer contact center where undeliverable mail is processed.”  

And why did the EDD’s brand appear on an information packet created and mailed by BofA? “The EDD required Bank of America to include the EDD logo on the envelope so our customers know the envelope contains something from EDD…. Otherwise, as you know, some people don’t always open mail from an address they are not familiar with and we want our customers to open their envelope with their card included and activate it right away.”  

Postscript: On August 26, I was invited to discuss The Planet’s debit-card disclosures on KPFA’s Morning Mix with Project Censored co-hosts Peter Philips and Mickey Huff. Philips recommended a Website called www.EDDsucks.com.  

It is clear from the comments posted on EDDsucks that there is widespread anger and frustration over the BofA’s new role as the agent for dispensing unemployment insurance claims. The criticisms come from users who characterize themselves as “extremely annoyed,” “fed up,” and “starving.”  

Among the specific complaints:  

“BofA's direct deposit system is down, has been for several days, and they don't know when it will be up.”  

“They… said I can't set up the direct deposit over the phone, (despite the info that was sent with the card that said I could do it over the phone).”  

“Before, all I had to do was open the letter, take a picture of the check with my phone, and have the money deposited into my account. Now, according to the rep I talked to last night, I have to drive to a BofA ATM, take out $900 in $200 increments, drive to my bank with all that cash in my pocket, and deposit 45 $20 bills into my ATM … and hope that nothing goes wrong. Wow, what a great convenience this is!”  

Hopefully, EDD is monitoring EDDsucks and trying to figure out why so many people are having problems using the new cards to claim their payments -- and rethinking the way the program was conceived. Clearly, there is room for improvement.

Berkeley Police Cite Decrease in Crime for First Six Months of 2011

Wednesday August 31, 2011 - 09:33:00 AM

Berkeley’s police department yesterday issued a press release which claimed that the city has experienced significant decreases in both violent crime and property crime in the first six months of 2011.

The release did not document specifically how the Berkeley statistics compare with national statistics or statistics for comparable college towns in the same period , though it did assert without supporting data that the local property crime decrease was ahead of state and national trends. No comparison of violent crime statistics to state and local trends was included. 

Here is the text of the release: 



“The City of Berkeley Police Department (BPD) Crime Analysis and Records Units have completed work on crime statistics for the first six (6) months of 2011. ‘Based on preliminary FBI Uniform Crime Statistics (UCR), for the first six months of 2011, Part One Violent Crime in Berkeley declined by 4% while Part One Property Crime declined by 16%. Part One Crime includes Homicide, Rape, Robbery, Aggravated Assault, Burglary, Theft, Auto Theft and Arson. Based on preliminary data for “2010 and the first few months of 2011, decreases in Part One Property Crime appear to be ahead of both state and national trends. 

While violent crime is of paramount concern, the City of Berkeley Police Department has increased its efforts in dealing with the significant level of property crime in the City. The most common crime, theft, is frequently a crime of opportunity with suspects focusing on personal property (e.g., GPS, laptops, smart phones, purses) left unattended or left visible in parked vehicles. 

“To address this, the BPD is employing multiple strategies including focused attention in areas and at times where crimes are occurring, multiple weekly crime analysis meetings and concentrated efforts on habitual offenders. In addition, BPD is working with the District Attorney to encourage a priority in charging and stronger sentences for chronic offenders. Finally, BPD is working with the University of California Police Department (UCPD) to educate students on the small lifestyle changes that can lessen their chances of being victimized.” 



Graphs illustrating the statistics and a summary of the raw data which went into them can be found here

Press Release: Vehicles Vandalized in South Berkeley

From Sergeant Mary C. Kusmiss, BPD Public Information Officer
Wednesday August 31, 2011 - 05:16:00 PM

A community member [called] the City of Berkeley Police Department (BPD) at about 7:00 a.m. this morning (August 31, 2011) to report that one of her car’s tires had been slashed or punctured. BPD received additional reports of flattened tires in a number of South Berkeley neighborhoods, thus additional BPD patrol officers responded to support the investigation.

The officers began checking the blocks surrounded the initial reports and were either flagged down by vehicle owners or found many more vandalized tries covering 17 blocks on California Street from 62nd to Blake Streets. Four (4) officers pro-actively continued searching for additional vehicles and respond to new calls for service related to the crimes. Additional vehicles’ tries were damaged in the 1600 block of Julia, 1500 block of Russell Street, 2800, 2900, 3000 and 3400 blocks of King Streets.” 

“At the time of this writing, 5:00 p.m., all the paperwork is being reviewed and compiled and we are estimating approximately 50 cars, vans and trucks had one or two tires punctured. Based on these reports, sometime overnight, a suspect or suspects used an unknown tool or weapon to flatten the tries. There is no specific pattern aside from general locations that any specific type, color, make or model vehicle was the focus of the crimes.” 

“Community members were understandably upset, angered, surprised and frustrated by the discovery of these crimes as it had and has significant impacts on their lifestyles such as driving children to school, going to work, transporting family members to appointments and driving to care for older parents or family members. Some changed their own tires, tow trucks were called to assist, as well as neighbors helped neighbors change tires. Some of the vehicles were left parked until the community member can order or afford to purchase replacements. Some community members shared that neighbors were out of town and would learn of the tires upon his/her return.” 

“This investigation is very active and ongoing. Officers are pursuing leads. BPD has not made any arrests and the motive for all the crimes is not known.” 

“Any community member that may have seen or heard anything or witnessed any of these crimes is encouraged to call BPD NON-Emergency Dispatch Line at (510) 981-5900. If a community member wishes to remain anonymous, he/she is encouraged to call the Bay Area Crimes Stoppers (BACS) at (800)-222-TIPS (8477). Any information may be critical to solving these crimes. Sometimes the smallest or seemingly insignificant detail can be the key to arresting the suspect or suspects in any crime.”

FSM Vet Jack Weinberg Salutes Alice Waters at the UC Art Museum

By Gar Smith
Wednesday August 31, 2011 - 01:55:00 PM
Jack Weinberg speaking from top of police car. Mario Savio standing on ground in foreground.
Steven Marcus
Jack Weinberg speaking from top of police car. Mario Savio standing on ground in foreground.
Jack Weinberg in police car.
Steven Marcus
Jack Weinberg in police car.

One of the many recent tributes to the work and life of Alice Waters was the Chez Panisse-related OpenEducation event staged at the UC Berkeley Art Museum last Saturday. One of the highlights (especially for old-timers and veterans of the 1964 Free Speech Movement) was a chance to catch Jack Weinberg climbing on top of a squad car positioned against a wall of the Museum to speak about the early days of the student rebellion that refashioned the Sixties. (Note: Kudos to the Museum planners for managing to procure a police car for the occasion. All props to the props department!) 

Event organizers had transformed the Art Museum’s spacious, wrap-around courtyards into a backyard garden packed with food stalls and livestock. Local organic farmers and green foodie types were turning out delicious helpings of homegrown goodies and hand-mixed DIY drinks. Youngsters assembled their own salads while others eagerly waited in line to hop on a bicycle attached to a grain mill that turned their pedaling into fresh flour for baking. 

The grassy lawns were bustling adult food-lovers and lots of cute kids – both the shod, sandaled and barefoot human tykes and the little beasties with cloven hooves. (It’s hard to beat baby goats for cuteness!) It was a perfect demonstration of the social ethic that underlies Waters’ vision of the “Edible Schoolyard.” 

In addition to her role as a participant in the 1964 Berkeley campus rebellion known as the Free Speech Movement (FSM), Alice Waters has continued to be a great friend of student activism over the years (she even devotes the first chapter in her book, Forty Years of Chez Panisse: The Power of Sharing to the FSM). But getting her friend Jack Weinberg to fly out from Chicago to stand on a car was a real treat. 

Jack (who went on to become a union activist and an international campaigner for Greenpeace) initially became an unwilling celebrity when he was the first person arrested in what was to become Berkeley’s iconic act of rebellion. His celebrity status was forever sealed when he uttered the memorable youth-protest caveat: “Don’t trust anyone over thirty!” 

To a chorus of applause and cheers, Weinberg clambered up the back of the squad car and planted himself on the roof. Grabbing a hand-held mike, he offered a 15-minute rap on the FSM and its critical role in US history. 

Reliving the Early Days of the FSM Revolt 

“In 1964, there was a protest on the campus,” Weinberg began. ‘I was sitting at a table right in front of Sproul Hall. A police car was pulled up onto the campus to arrest me. I was put into the police car and it was surrounded by students. I sat in that police car for the next 32 hours while the students negotiated with the University. That was the beginning of the Free Speech Movement. 

“1964 was the beginning of what came to be called the Sixties, the Cultural Movement of the Sixties. That was the year the Beatles came to the US for the first time. That was the year when hair that went over your ears was considered ‘long’ and quite ‘rebellious.’ 

“That was a time when, in many parts of the United States, African Americans were not allowed to vote. That was a time when, here in the Bay Area, there was a very strict color bar about who could get a job and where. 

“If, in 1964, when Alice Waters was a student at the University, she would have formed a student organization to advocate that there should be farms and gardens at schools, and children could work on those, and that could be put into the curriculum, she would have been expelled.” 

Weinberg recounted how local businesses had complained to campus administrators that Berkeley students were walking in picket lines in front of their segregated workplaces. In response, Weinberg explained, the university issued strict new rules. Suddenly students “could not sit at tables, they could not raise money and, most importantly, if students on campus advocated for an activity that then led to civil disobedience off campus” those students would be “automatically expelled.” 

The resistance to these rules and Weinberger’s arrest, lead to four months of student organizing and ever-growing protests that culminated in the occupation of Sproul Hall and one of the largest mass arrests in US history. 

On the University’s ‘Cooptation’ of the FSM 

Responding to complaints that UC has subsequently tried to co-opt the FSM rebellion and claim it as its own, Weinberger recalled how, at the time, UC administrators and the press disparaged the student movement. 

Weinberger recalled being interview by San Francisco Examiner reporter Ed Montgomery who demanded to know: “Who’s behind this thing?” (in an apparent attempt to show how the students were being “directed” by sinister forces — like the Communist Party). 

“We have a saying in the movement,” Weinberg responded: “’We never trust anyone over 30.’ To me, this meant we weren’t taking orders from anyone: this was our own movement.” 

“We were constantly red-baited in those days,” Weinberg continued. “Clark Kerr was quoted in the press as saying ‘The protestors are 49 percent Castroite Maoists.’ We were vilified by the University. They put us in jail. I served a four-month term in Santa Rita. Civil disobedience had a higher cost then than it has today. For many years, neither I nor Mario [Savio] or many of the other student leaders would have been allowed to come back to school here.” 

“So,” Weinberger said, waving his hand over the spectacle of the crowd gathered in the courtyard of the University Art Museum, “the fact that this is now part of the university’s ‘image,’ I bless them! Great! Whatever good can come from it can come from it. That’s usually a sign that you won something. And the Free Speech Movement did win some very important things. 

“The FSM always had two parts to it. One part had to do with the reforming of the student role on campus — the education experience, the opening up of the university and rebelling against the university as a factory. The other part was equally important — and, for many of us more important — and that was the right of students to engage, as students, in the issues of the broader society — discrimination, later on, the anti-war movement, and many other movements… that changed society as a whole. 

“The very first protest against the Vietnam War in Berkeley drew 25,000 people. So what we did in the Free Speech Movement laid the basis for that,” Weinberg explained. In every previous era, if you spoke out against World War I, WWII or the Korean War, “you went to jail.” Because of the perfect historical timing — during the days of the Civil Rights Movement — the FSM’s insistence on free speech was soon being asserted on campuses across the nation. “When the Vietnam War came, many more people were willing to stand up because they had learned that they have a right to stand up and speak out.” 

While anti-war protesters certainly faced repression and violence, “it was nothing like what had come before,” Weinberg noted, because “part of the legacy of the FSM was to assert and establish the right of students and others to express themselves and to advocate for social causes.” 

Reflecting on the current state of affairs, with the economy in free-fall and corporate power dominating the political process, Weinberg concluded: “We live in a time when the country is falling back into much of the conservatism we had back then. So my hope — and the reason I agreed to come here today — is that anything that I can do to help a new generation of young people to rise up and develop their own movements and fight for their own causes, I welcome that and I’ll do anything I can to help you.” 

Weinberg made good on his promise by joining a line-up of current student activists to discuss strategy. Most of the students were justifiably angry about tuition increases and the increasing “corporatization of the campus.” While supporting their struggles, Weinberg offered a word of caution: Don’t simply focus on issues of self-interest, as compelling and worthy as they may be. “The FSM was successful because it went beyond self-interest. We were concerned with broader issues of right and wrong.” Because the issue of civil rights transcended the politics of the local struggle, the FSM won support far beyond the UC campus — with labor, with minorities, with civil libertarians. 

A Reunion of FSM Vets 

The next day, a group of FSM vets convened at noon to spend some time with Jack at the Free Speech Café at the Moffitt Library on the Berkeley Campus. When the crowd of Sixties activists (who are now mostly in their sixties) discovered the café didn’t open until 1PM, this lead to good-natured yelps of “Who organized this demonstration?!” 

The small crowd included a quartet of local FSM-A board members (FSM-A stands for FSM-Archives and the Website, www.fsm-a.org is the go-to place for all things FSM. But be sure to add the –A or you’ll wind up at the Website for the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.) Among them was Board President Lee Felsenstein (who went on to greater fame as one of the pioneering founders of the personal computer industry). 

Felsenstein took the occasion to argue that “the Free Speech Movement was, in fact, a revolution.” After all, he observed, it was a spontaneous mass-action, it overthrew an established order, and it created space for new freedoms and opportunities for popular cultural transformation. 

Early in the meeting, as the covey of old comrades was chatting away happily, fliers started drifting from hand to hand. Some folks were organizing a Peacewalk for a Nuclear-Free World (October 22-November 6, from the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant to a sacred native site in Vallejo) while others were hosting a weekend forum in Alameda to discuss how to transition from a “War Economy to a Peace Economy.” 

This moved one of the grizzled vets to look around and offer the best line of the day. “This is how you know you’re with a group of activists,” he laughed. “When we get together, we don’t swap business cards… we start leafleting each other!”

People's Park Tree-Sit 3 Up in the Air Again Despite In-Park Opposition and Telegraph Property Owners’ Pleas to "Revitalize" Park

By Ted Friedman
Wednesday August 31, 2011 - 10:18:00 AM
The latest People's Park tree-sitter, Moon Shadow, in his "mid-twenties," and non-the-less
              for wear after two nights on the boards
Ted Friedman
The latest People's Park tree-sitter, Moon Shadow, in his "mid-twenties," and non-the-less for wear after two nights on the boards

Despite opposition from within People's Park, and calls by adjacent property owners for park reform, a revived tree-sit has become the first revitalizing action in the park—since the last one. The new action launches from the same perch where Matt Dodt, 53, was fork-lifted out in January after three months aloft. 

The revived tree-sit may not stay off the ground if university police have anything to say about it. January's bust was costly, and according to Lt. Marc DeCoulode, "we may do something different this time" (arrest sooner?). 

Last year, Dodt manned his post three months until police charged him with attempted murder after riled-up park West-enders tried to dislodge the tree-sitter. An Alameda District Attorney later reduced the charges to assault with a deadly weapon; after months of hearings the charges were further reduced, after the alleged victim refused to testify. 

Dodt told me, the night he was arrested, that he had only "poked" the victim's hands, with a camping knife but this did not keep him from serving three months in Alameda County Jail, Santa Rita. Dodt said the alleged victim had clamored up the tree to assault him. The alleged victim reportedly told police Dodt had tried to slit his throat. 

Much as university police had tried to talk Dodt down from the start, they've been prevailing on Dodt's successor, Moon Shadow, "a traveler," who says he's in his mid-twenties. 

University police first spoke with Moon Shadow the Monday morning after he ascended the majestic 40-foot spruce tree late Sunday. Police talked to him late Monday and early Tuesday, according to Moon Shadow. The spruce is at the outermost limits of a North-west park site, near an often-crowded walkway approaching university housing unit 2. 

According to Moon Shadow the police spoke tough, employing a little "good cop vs. bad cop," strategy, offering variously to run him off or get him off if he comes down soon. 

"They said they thought this tree-sit was "ineffective, and generally put it down," according to Moon Shadow. Meanwhile the police are counting Moon Shadow's number of trespasses. Breaking the park's 10p curfew is considered trespassing, according to Lt. Decaloude. 

The tree-sitter's demand—stop university encroachment in the park (altering the park's vegetation, "making homelessness a crime,")—headed the list for last year's tree-sit protest. In last year's sit, the list of complaints grew, just as they had in 2006-2008, when an Oak Grove tree-sit to halt planned construction at Memorial stadium that would have destroyed a protected oak grove grew to include protecting Indian remains, allegedly buried there. 

The Oak Grove protest was the longest urban tree-sit in North America, which cost the university an estimated million dollars, and was organized by Zachary Running Wolf Brown, 48, a Berkeley, native and elder in the Blackfeet tribe of Montana The adjacent areas to the stadium protest were disrupted by noise, police and fire vehicles, and a swarm of encircling T.V. helicopters. Brown also organized the latest tree-sit event. 

The circus atmosphere at Oak Grove is exactly what People's Park regulars fear. As Hate-Man said, disgustedly, yesterday in Camp Hate, "if that tree stabbing in January had been the other way around; if the sitter gets stabbed—the protest grows into a circus, out of sympathy, and that's what I don't want." Hate-man is the tree-sitter's next door (tree) neighbor. 

Anti-tree sit sentiment smoldered during last year's tree-sit and led to a bloody counter-protest at the end. 

If the objections bother Running Wolf, he's not letting on. "Fuck them. It's not their park," he has said. "If People's Park is owned by anyone," says Running Wolf, it's owned by the Ohlone. Even if we can't prove the Ohlone claim, the park still belongs to Indians as does Berkeley and all of America." 

Running Wolf, who is running for mayor, rarely backs down. 

Maybe that quality is what impressed Moon Shadow to throw in with the tree-sit maven. Moon shadow was merely passing through Berkeley last week (although he visits here often, he was only here a week this time) when he met Running Wolf, who has promised for months that this tree-sit would recur when "the students return." 

Although, he told the Daily Californian, this latest protest was pegged to a Telegraph Avenue property owners "resolution" to "revitalize" the park, which might challenge the presence of Food Not Bombs, the sit had been planned for months. 

Running Wolf was chalking the walks with Indian motifs near the tree-sit site last week when Moon Shadow met him, he said, and they just "hit it off." 

When Running Wolf pitched the sit, Moon Shadow was, he said, "receptive" because he had always wanted to try tree-sitting it. "What have I got to lose?" he asked. "Besides, Running Wolf is very persuasive and well-informed." 

Moon Shadow met former tree-sitter, Matt Dodt, during the November tree-sit, during one of Moon Shadow's Berkeley stopovers. 

Moon Shadow expects occasional relief from his four man support team, with each of them taking turns, intermittently, on the platform installed by Running Wolf. 

The previous tree occupant, Matt Dodt, vowed to stay until his demands were met, but Moon Shadow will be hitting the road again in a month, he said. He has no previous experience with being a tree-sitter, he said. 

By the time, Moon Shadow leaves town, he expects a network of supporters to man the Spruce. Plans are underway, he said, to expand the tree-sit with more platforms, and possibly more tree sites. 

Moon Shadow recently attended the Rainbow Gathering in Modoc County, and said he had been inspired by the high degree of co-operation and self-governance at the tribal gathering, founded in Colorado in 1972. 

Everyone will just have to sit this out. 


Ted Friedman returns to the (tree) scene of South side crimes. 











Berkeley Challenges Rome This Week:
Throws Its First Canonization

By Becky O'Malley
Tuesday August 30, 2011 - 05:24:00 PM

This week’s hooha about the 40th anniversary of Chez Panisse (for those who have taken up residence on Mars, it’s a smallish, rather expensive restaurant in Berkeley, CA, USA) has put me in mind of some of my favorite childhood reading, the lives of the saints, especially the female saints, who, it seemed to me, did just about as they pleased most of the time and yet were honored for it later. It’s an old tradition, hagiography, to use its proper literary name: telling stories about high achievers in a way that “ac-centuates the positive and e-liminates the negative,” in the words of the old Andrews Sisters’ song. The term is sometimes but not always used pejoratively. And the flourishing flackery which now surrounds Panisse proprietress Alice Waters is in the best hagiographic tradition, either way you slice it. 

Most of what I know about The Foundress and her institution, I must confess, comes from Berkeley gossip, since I haven’t gotten around to reading any of the authorized or unauthorized biographies, nor do I know the principals. Like many Berkeleyans, I’ve seldom been to the restaurant, possibly two or three times at most. The only visit I still remember was the time a pretentious venture capitalist from New York demanded that we take him there. We thought he might invest in our struggling software business. 

We did, but he didn’t. In fact, he complained about the food, but I think that was just a New York chauvinist thing, plus the hubris which is part of the VC job description. 

For the definitive syllabus of contemporary Waters lore, we are indebted to Frances Dinkelspiel and Tracey Taylor at Berkeleyside.com, who last week compiled without apparent irony a list of many (though by no means all) of the more than 100 stories which have appeared about La Maestra in the recent past as part of the anniversary festivities. My favorite title on the list was “Does Alice Waters Eat in the Nude?”, from an Atlanta alternative publication, Creative Leisure, which turned out to be a reprise of Terry Gross’s radio interview with Alice. 

That interview is a classic of its genre, Terry’s trademark float-like-a-butterfly-sting-like-a-bee technique in all its understated glory. Reading listeners’ comments online, you can get the flavor of the various ways Waters’ message is digested, not all of them positive. (Reading all these food articles starts to affect your metaphors after a while, sorry.) 

None of the recent articles seem to have taken note of the longtime Berkeley gossip that “Chez” (as foodies like to call it) floated in on drug money in the go-go 70s and 80s. Again, I haven’t read the book, but online reviews of Alice Waters and Chez Panisse, by Thomas McNamee, indicate that the author documented all those stories we’ve been hearing for years. Restaurants, especially if they have an all-cash policy as this one did in its first couple of decades, are a well-known way to launder cash coming in from non-standard enterprises, as pizza vendors learned years ago. Marijuana sales are acknowledged in the reviews, but cocaine sales out the back door by the kitchen staff, presumably without Waters’ participation, were also staples of the local rumor mill. 

This is not inappropriate for the genre. Many lives of saints trace a trajectory from sin to salvation, St. Augustine of Hippo (memorialized in this space recently) being one of the best-known examples. It’s certainly the case that many saints had downmarket origins—their halos only developed over time. In this secular age, chroniclers of our modern secular saints sometimes need to stretch a bit to delineate the depths from which their subjects can rise triumphant. 

From the Fresh Air interview we learned that Alice Waters came from a family in Chatham, NJ, too poor to be able to afford to take her to restaurants more than three times in her childhood. She complained that her mother inflicted on her the indignity of Pepperidge Farm whole wheat bread. 

Evidently she’s never heard that the Pepperidge Farm company was founded by a home baker from an actual farm to provide a nutritious whole-grain alternative to the market-dominating Wonder Bread. Even small steps can lead to enlightenment. 

And my husband’s grandfather, who was a sometime farmer in Iowa and lived to be 99 on a diet of oatmeal with heavy cream, regarded Wonder Bread as one of the greatest achievements of the 20th century, freeing women from kitchen bondage and keeping fresh for weeks at a time. It’s all about perspective. 

It’s tempting to believe that healthy and delicious food was invented in Berkeley in the early 1970s, but in fact many were eating well long before that, even if the gospel hadn’t reached New Jersey. For healthy, there was Adele Davis and her ilk, aided and abetted by organic farm gurus like Robert Rodale—all with a devoted following by the time I started cooking for family in the 60s. For delicious, Julia Child, MFK Fisher and Richard Olney went to France and got religion decades before Alice Waters discovered French cooking in the 60s. 

Even in benighted Midwestern Ann Arbor, there was a flourishing farmers’ market when we got there in 1961. We lived across the street from it, and my idea of a fast-food breakfast, on the table in less than ten minutes, was to get to the market as it opened at seven in the morning for just-picked sweet corn and ripe tomatoes which were much better than the anemic northern California ones people make such a fuss over now. Beats corn flakes and OJ any time. We bought apples (better than California apples) at farms in the fall, and we had a plot in a community garden outside of town where we planted our own organic vegis, yes, even then. 

Academics, who were world travelers when most Americans were not, have traditionally eaten well. That’s the real explanation for why Berkeley turned into a gastronomic mecca, that and the Berkeley Co-op. In the 50s and 60s Berkeleyans went new places on their Fulbrights and ate new things. When they came home they insisted that the Co-op stock the ingredients needed to replicate their discoveries at home. 

Small town restaurants, however, were a different story. Until the 1960s most non-urban Americans, not just the Waters family of Chatham NJ, seldom went to restaurants, according to my late mother-in-law, Mary Holmes, an academic, a painter and a fine cook, who was born in South Dakota in 1910. Another painter, Richard Olney, an often cited Waters mentor, was Mary’s student at the University of Iowa in the 40s before he decamped for France in 1951 and made culinary history. But Richard cooked at home and wrote cookbooks—he never ran a restaurant. 

American restaurants in the 40s, 50s and early 60s were routinely dreadful, patronized only by those who couldn’t claim a home table as an alternative. In Ann Arbor the only Chinese restaurant in the first years we lived there served mostly canned vegetables. The compensation was that home cooks were forced to do a better job. We were lucky to be in the circle of the University of Michigan Linguistics Department, where many of the faculty and graduate students came from places even more exotic than France and cooked their exotic specialties for departmental potluck suppers. 

Now everyone eats out, much more often than they used to. This is among other things a marker of women’s transition from laboring only on the home front to the commercial workplace. Not all restaurants are good, however. 

The real achievement of St. Alice of Berkeley is that she translated the high standard for home cooking in her social class (approximately, well-travelled humanities grad students) into a profitable business enterprise with a wider reach. Even at this endeavor, she was not the first, just the most successful. Hank Rubin, an Abraham Lincoln Brigade veteran, founded Potluck on San Pablo Avenue around 1960 and served a similar clientele, albeit at much lower prices, perhaps because of his socialist origins. 

Alice Waters does claim some of the same leftist turf. The recent ceremonials prominently showcased her Free Speech Movement reminiscences, though she was not a leader, just a fellow traveler. As her business has prospered, she has translated her recipe for success into a varied menu of attempts at social change which have been at least a succès d'estime if not a complete solution to the problem of world hunger. 

Still, living with saints can be a challenge, which might explain some of the off-camera snarking we’ve picked up about this week’s events. It’s easy to make fun of Waters—comparisons to Marie Antoinette and the original Le Petit Trianon (not the Paris restaurant) lurk around the edges of some reportage on Panisse’s 40th. But as a one-time marketeer myself, I can’t help but sneakily admire what she’s achieved. 

Being a successful salesperson, like being a journalist or a historian or a saint, is mostly storytelling. Often, it’s about packaging yourself—as Augustine surely knew when he wrote his Confessions. Alice does it well. 

In the process she’s emerged as a kind of St. Joan of Radicchio, urging her troops ever onward in their commitment to searching out the freshest and the tastiest food they can afford. We don’t know if there’s a really good restaurant in Chatham yet, but they do have a farmers’ market, according to the town’s website. That’s progress of a sort. 


* * * * * * * * 

Watching the numerous variants of La Saga “Chez” and its prima diva this week, I remembered a jolly bit of verse by Phyllis McGinley about an earlier saint: 

Saint Bridget was
A problem child.
Although a lass
Demure and mild,
And one who strove
To please her dad,
Saint Bridget drove
The family mad.For here's the fault in Bridget lay:
She Would give everything away.

To any soul
Whose luck was out
She'd give her bowl
Of stirabout;
She'd give her shawl,
Divide her purse
With one or all.
And what was worse,
When she ran out of things to give
She'd borrow from a relative.

Her father's gold,
Her grandsire's dinner,
She'd hand to cold
and hungry sinner;
Give wine, give meat,
No matter whose;
Take from her feet
The very shoes,
And when her shoes had gone to others,
Fetch forth her sister's and her mother's.

She could not quit.
She had to share;
Gave bit by bit
The silverware,
The barnyard geese,
The parlor rug,
Her little niece-
's christening mug,
Even her bed to those in want,
And then the mattress of her aunt.

An easy touch
For poor and lowly,
She gave so much
And grew so holy
That when she died
Of years and fame,
The countryside
Put on her name,
And still the Isles of Erin fidget
With generous girls named Bride or Bridget.

Well, one must love her.
In thinking of her
There's no denial
She must have been
A sort of trial
Unto her kin.
The moral, too, seems rather quaint.
WHO had the patience of a saint,
From evidence presented here?
Saint Bridget? Or her near and dear? 

I suspect that many of St. Alice’s near and dear might have had a similar reaction to her canonization this week. 









Cartoon Page: Odd Bodkins, BOUNCE

Wednesday August 31, 2011 - 10:43:00 AM


Dan O'Neill



Joseph Young


Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

Wednesday August 31, 2011 - 11:46:00 AM

Dear Anti-Obama vandal in the 1700 block of Delaware in Berkeley: Obama’s Record; Time for Community Sharing; Heart of a Soldier; Sharing the Wealth? Dr. Martin Luther King 

Dear Anti-Obama vandal in the 1700 block of Delaware in Berkeley: 

I don't know who you are or who you think I should be voting for instead of Obama, and frankly I don't particularly care. All I know is that during the night you came to my house and ripped the "Obama 2012" bumper sticker off my car and discarded it in my flowers. 

Putting aside the obvious, which is the astonishing immaturity of this action, I'm writing this letter to inform you of the following: 

I had another one and I put it back in the empty space that you created. And I'm going to go online right now and purchase some more stickers so that if you come back and do this again, I will simply replace it again. 

So, think of it this way: whenever you commit this act of vandalism against me, you are essentially making a contribution to the Obama 2012 campaign, because every sticker you tear off is just going to be another $3 that I will give them. 

So keep it up, if you want! I'm going to get enough stickers to last me for the next 15 months. And just in case you want to do this every day? That will be about $1,350 you'll be "donating" directly to Obama's re-election. 

Jill Herschman 

* * *  

Obama’s Record 


So what else do they want from the man? Barack Obama took office at the height of a worldwide financial crisis, he has faced the intransigent Republican opposition on every one of his initiatives and has had to put up with the Tea Party faction holding the nation hostage. 

Through all this, President Obama has a rather impressive record of accomplishment. In only two short years he headed off a full economic meltdown with his stimulus measures; saved the U.S. banking and automobile industries at minimal cost to taxpayers; imposed tough new regulations on the financial sector; ended the Iraq war; found and got rid of Osama bin Laden; and, overhauled the profoundly dysfunctional health care system. 

Compare this to the inane gibberish you hear coming out of the mouths of Republican presidential hopefuls! 


Ron Lowe 

* * *  



Time for Community Sharing 


Now when modern Republicans are determined to bring about change to suit their Tea Party friends, we are left with own community. Our community can become our source of strength. 

Networking with home-based small business owners or with people with special skills allows for exchange of goods and services without bringing money into the picture. We have already seen how in times of need members of the community pitch in as moneylenders, babysitters, doctors, contractors, accountants, tax advisers, or tutors 

We know that the current Republican party is laying the foundation for a special social class for the super-rich. For the rest of us the time of need is now. Let us cooperate, let us share, let us look out for one another the best we can. 


Romila Khanna 

* * *  



Heart of a Soldier 

After all this time, ten years to be exact, I'm still haunted by the image of those desperate people leaping from the burning windows of the World Trade Center
to their certain death. This unspeakable tragedy has been an obsession with me, almost to the point of neuroticism. I recall walking around in a daze for more than a week, unable to comprehend what I had just witnessed. 

Now, in last Sunday's S.F. Chronicle, James R. Stewart, a writer for the New Yorker, describes in detail that heroism of Rick Rescoria, head of security for Morgan Stanley. In the wake of the first attacks on the World Trade Center, he instituted evacuation procedures for the company's employees. On September 11, Rescoria shepherded his charges — more than 3,000 of them — out of the building. Then he turned around and went back into the building to search for stragglers. He was never seen again. 

Heart of a Soldier" is now the subject of an opera, directed by Francesco Zambello of the San Francisco Opera, with music by composer, Christopher Theofanidis. It will have its premiere in September. Thomas Hampson will portray Rick Rescoria, with Melody Moore singing the role of Susan Rescoria. (These two lovers found each other all too briefly before Rick's death on September 11, 2001.) 

I would not miss this premiere, fully aware that it will bring back all the memories and heartache I felt ten years ago. 


Dorothy Snodgrass 

* * *  

Sharing the Wealth? 

In the last several decades the wealth hasn't been spread so much as concentrated — at the top. The share of total income going to the top 1 percent of income earners more than doubled from 9 percent in 1970 to 23.5 percent in 2007. (The Great Recession has since narrowed the gap.) \ 

And while, as noted above, the rich pay a greater proportion of their income in taxes, the share of total taxes paid by the richest Americans is commensurate with their share of national wealth. Examining the total tax burden — state, federal and local — Citizens for Tax Justice calculated that the top 1 percent of households (average income $1.3 million) earned 20.3 percent of income and paid 21.5 percent of taxes in 2010 

The tax code is studded with a costly bevy of deductions and preferences — mortgage interest, employer-sponsored health insurance, retirement savings — that benefit wealthier taxpayers over those with modest incomes. The rich are so smart about making money, but they are so blind about seeing real value in the future and what it's leading to. 


Ted Rudow III, MA 

* * *  



Dr. Martin Luther King 


An anagram in honor of the anniversary of his "I Have a Dream" speech: 


Think tall! A dreamer greeting truth. 

Ove Ofteness 

* * *  



EDD & Bof A: Further Thoughts

By Steve Nadel
Wednesday August 31, 2011 - 04:43:00 PM

I believe Gar Smith has missed some major issues regarding this controversy over B of A/EDD relations. As with the previous respondent, I found it quick, easy & painless to bypass B of A completely and have the funds transferred to my private account. For the unemployed who have their bank accounts & internet access this is really not an issue. B of A won't make a penny off such people. 

So in thinking this through as to why EDD went to this trouble, one major thought occurred to me that has been absent from the discussion. What about those without bank accounts and easy internet access??? We've all read the articles (& seen the sleazy establishments around the "right" neighborhoods) regarding exploitation of low-income families by check cashing firms. Are such families forced to pay an exorbitant portion of their unemployment check to get it cashed? Is EDD trying to solve this problem by providing the debit cards?? 

I believe this issue needs to be seen in this broader light - why is EDD forced to go through a bank such as B of A to distribute such cards (really, the only other alternative would have been Wells Fargo, for whom I assume Gar would have written a similar article.) This raises the broader debate regarding whether state funds should be stored, distributed etc through a state owned/managed bank rather than a private institution. 

If you look further on the EDD site, you will also find much more detailed information regarding how to avoid paying any fees to B of A. I think Gar also missed a significant way B of A will make money off these cards. If they are really used as EDD encourages, to enable those without bank accounts to enjoy 21st century access to paying grocery, gas and other daily bills with ATM/debit cards rather than cash - then B of A can collect the standard fees from retailers for each swipe of the card. While this costs the unemployed nothing extra (like the rest of us they already pay via the retailers incorporating this cost into their pricing) I assume over time and numbers B of A will make a profit here. Again this raises the debate should California run its own bank to provide such services on a non-profit basis. 

I also have to leave with one final comment. One reason it is important to place this issue in broader debate is the current vicious attack on public employees as the source of all our current fiscal woes. My experience with ground level employees at EDD has been that of public employees attempting to provide needed services - get the unemployed the funds they are due as quickly and easily as possible. In this light, did EDD try to solve a real problem within the constraints they are forced to work with - needing to go through a private bank? Who is the real culprit here - the workers at EDD or the politicians pushing privatization of all government services?

BARTcar: Silver Lining from the BRT Cloud

Russ Tilleman
Wednesday August 31, 2011 - 10:06:00 AM

The debate over Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) may have felt like a dark cloud hanging over Telegraph Avenue, but now it looks like it might have a silver lining. The discussions about public transit triggered by the BRT proposal have led to a new project called BARTcar.

Somewhere in the BRT debate, someone suggested finding better ways to get people to and from BART stations. Time passed and some of us who were involved in the conflict formed a political activism group called Proper Action. We thought about ways to solve the problems facing our communities, and looked back on what was wrong with the BRT approach. Eventually, we came up with a proposal of our own for improving public transit. 

BARTcar is a plan to place large numbers of inexpensive electric cars in BART station parking lots. The cars would have card readers on them, and BART riders could run their driver's license through the reader and drive off with a car for about $5 for daytime or overnight use. The car we are proposing to use is the OKA NEV ZEV, a Neighborhood Electric Vehicle (NEV) that looks like a small economy car. Its fully electric, with limited range of about 15 miles and a top speed of 25 mph. The OKA is not a high-performance automobile, but BARTcar is intended only to transport BART riders between their home and the nearest station, and then between a distant station and their destination. 

It's a simple idea with a lot of benefits. The cars are electric, they don't produce air pollution and the energy to charge them can be from renewable sources. They are small and can be packed closely into the BART parking lots— many more BARTcars than private cars will fit into a lot. Unlike buses, they are available at any time without any waiting, and they can go directly to the rider's home or destination. 

We have discussed BARTcar with public officials in the Bay Area and have received promising feedback. BART, the City of Pleasanton, and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission have all expressed significant interest in BARTcar as a way to get commuters out of their cars and onto BART, providing a fully electric path from homes to workplaces. 

Just about everyone we've talked with seems to like BARTcar. But if we want to help the environment, we need to do more than talk about a good idea, we need to turn that idea into a good transit project. And to do that, we need to demonstrate interest from the public. The basic principle of Proper Action is that the people who live in a community have the best understanding of the needs of that community. People who transfer between buses and BART, people who walk in the rain to BART, and people who own a car just to drive to BART all understand the problem of getting to and from BART. They can readily understand what BARTcar would do for their commute, and if they want BARTcar, they have a right to ask for it. 

If enough people ask for BARTcar, it will happen, and it won't just happen here. The New York Times presented the Berkeley BRT debate as an example of the problems facing environmentalists in the United States. If we can make BARTcar an example of the solutions environmentalists can find, let's hope it will receive the same attention.

The City of Berkeley Allows Noisy Tenants to Move into "Nuisance" Building on Parker Street

By Gale Garcia
Monday August 29, 2011 - 10:31:00 PM

The former family home at 2133 Parker was allowed to be completed with 17 bedrooms (some of which are doubles, so there are probably at least 20 students living in it). This was despite the unanimous decision of July 14 by the ZAB that the project was determined to be a Group Living Accommodation (not allowed in R2A zones) and a nuisance. Multiple moving trucks blocked the street over a week or two while multiple students moved in. 

I truly believed that the owner, Ali Eslami, would caution the tenants to behave well until the nuisance matter goes before the City Council. I guess he didn’t bother, or maybe the crowd living there is so arrogant that they do not care. The very first weekend of occupancy, on August 12, residents were on the back deck yelling after midnight. 

The next weekend, residents were on the roof in the afternoon. This is possible because the illegal fourth floor provides them easy access. The owner was called and reportedly told the residents to stay off the roof. However, that night between 1:00 and 1:20 am, they were back on the roof, and others were on the back deck screaming. Police were called but did not respond. 

Last night the residents of 2133 Parker had a huge party. Fortunately the police responded this time and it was quieted by 2:00 am. 

Steve Buckley of the Planning staff had repeatedly told the ZAB that they couldn’t designate the project a nuisance until it was occupied (they ignored him, fortunately). But now that it is occupied, it could not be clearer. The reason Group Living Accommodations are not allowed in family neighborhoods is because if you pack a bunch of students into a small space, they go nuts and completely disregard anyone else’s rights. 

Gale Garcia lives in the LeConte neighborhood. This opinion was originally circulated to the LeConte Chat yahoo group.

Panetta Becomes a Shill for the Empire

By Don Monkerud
Monday August 29, 2011 - 05:29:00 PM

For those who remember former Nixon appointee Leon Panetta as a moderate Democrat, his current transformation is a sad disappointment. With his recent speeches in Monterey Panetta's makeover became complete. 

Panetta's role in the CIA and as the Secretary of Defense ushers in a new phase of using the military to enforce the policy of corporate America, which requires the complacency of foreign governments to back up its economic supremacy. 

Panetta's makeover includes his characterization of the all-volunteer army as the core of American democracy. Paying people to carry guns has nothing to do with democracy. The citizen draft is the most democratic way to apportion the nation's defense because it chooses everyone, both rich and poor, alike. The draft was dropped because citizens objected to bad wars with the advent of Vietnam. 

Recruiting poor high school kids from small rural town who need jobs and education, or immigrants who receive citizenship in return for service, is more akin to a paying job than a democratic approach to national defense. Historically a nation's army was used for self-defense and a paid army was more properly called a mercenary army. 

The U.S. increasingly relies upon paid mercenaries for its military force. Newsweek reports that the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq "will be a boon for the private security industry." In the first four years of the U.S. occupation of Iraq, the U.S. paid $10 billion for what the media politely calls the 11,000 "private security contractors." Panetta doesn't mention these mercenaries, but they can hardly be called democratic armed forces. 

Panetta goes on to praise two institutions that he helped lobby for as a congressman-the Naval Post-graduate School and the Defense Language Institute-as "national treasures." Both are dedicated to providing the language skills necessary for U.S. military intervention in other countries and making the military's job of controlling other countries easier. 

Recall that President Bush installed military intelligence operations in every U.S. embassy around the world. These secret agents answer only to their military commanders rather than diplomats and the media does not investigate their activities. Unfortunately Obama continued this program. Having the military take such a prominent role in foreign diplomacy is a clear signal that the U.S. has entered a new stage in attempting to dominate world affairs. 

Since the beginning of the Bush Wars, the language institutes hired over 1,000 instructors and more than tripled its budget. The Defense Language Institute (DLIFLC) began training troops in 2003, in a push "to win the hearts and minds" of Iraqis and Afghanis. 

Enrollment increased 500 percent and over 15,000 military personnel received training in 2009 alone. 

"We went in with the idea we'd overthrow the governments and 'Gee, it would be great,'" Stephen Payne, DLIFLC command historian, told the Medill National Security Zone blog. "We had no training going in, and when the next phase hit, we weren't prepared." 

In a nation devoted to democracy wouldn't it be better to praise the teaching of foreign languages for diplomacy and peace making rather than for covert military operations? But Panetta seems to have drunk Bush's kool aid; he goes on to tell us that the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan will end "when the individuals who have threatened this country are no longer there to threaten our country." 

This suggests that Iraq had something to do with the attacks in New York City on 9/11, the same excuse President Bush used for invading Iraq. It has been proven beyond any doubt that Iraq had nothing whatsoever to do with 9/11. History recounts how the Bush/Cheney regime used 9/11 as a pretext the invading Iraq despite Bush's flimsy excuses now that he was mislead. 

Panetta defends the military budget that Mother Jones estimates at $1.2 trillion a year, including hidden cost. The U.S. budget equals the rest of the world combined. Almost 5 percent of U.S. GDP goes to the military; it spends 10 times more than China and 20 times more than Russia. And Panetta claims the U.S. will suffer if it cuts this budget? 

Panetta is an even greater disappointment when he tells us that the job of the military is to protect the American dream-making a better world for our children. 

The American dream is already destroyed. The rapid increase in globalization, the de-industrialization of the U.S., the destruction of labor unions, the monopolization of the U.S. economy, the rise of corporate power, and the precipitous increase in wealth disparity marks the end of the middle class. This is the first time in American history that children can expect a lower standard of living than their parents. 

The growing power of the radical right, the anti-immigration movement, the anti-tax refuseniks, the Tea Party nutters, and aggressive corporate and business power will insure that the middle class does not return. America has lost its greatness and joined the historic ranks of empires that rely upon military power to retain their might. It's a sad day for the country, while Leon Panetta does his best to guide our country along this new path. 

Don Monkerud is an Aptos, California-based writer who follows cultural issues and politics and writes occasional satire. 


The Public Eye: Tiptoeing Towards Theocracy

By Bob Burnett
Monday August 29, 2011 - 04:30:00 PM

In difficult times, nations sometimes embrace extreme solutions. In 1494 Florence became a Christian Republic and Savonarola commenced his inquisition. In 1932 Adolph Hitler became chancellor of Germany and launched the Third Reich. Now America is in turmoil and Republicans offer a radical vision – Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry. Is the US sliding towards Theocracy? 

In 1494, Florence, Italy, was in economic and social turmoil. Catholic Priest Girolamo Savonarola declared Florence a Christian Republic and formed a Theocracy. Claiming to receive direction from God, Savonarola preached about the Last Days, and sparked a moral “purification” campaign. Homosexuals and liberal thinkers were killed, thousands of books were burned, and gangs ravaged Florence looking for indications of moral laxity, resulting in the notorious Bonfire of the Vanities

In 1932, Germany was in economic and social turmoil. Fascist Adolph Hitler, head of the National Socialist German Worker’s Party, became Chancellor and then dictator. Claiming divine inspiration, Hitler preached about German destiny and racial purity, promoted Aryan supremacy, and launched the Third Reich. Jews, Romani, homosexuals, and liberal thinkers were killed, thousands of books were burned, and gangs ravaged Germany looking for indications of moral laxity, resulting in the notorious Kristallnacht, the “Night of Broken Glass.” (Hitler didn’t form a theocracy, but he did co opt the church with his Positive Christianity.) 

In 2011, America is in economic and social turmoil and Republicans offer the solution of Theocracy. It’s been tried here before. The Massachusetts Bay Colony was a Puritan Theocracy – in 1660 Quaker Mary Dyer was hanged on Boston Common for advocating her religion. Until the nineteenth century, several states had official Christian churches. Nonetheless, the separation of church and state seems a solid legal principle -- “free exercise” of religion is in the First Amendment of the US Constitution (the notion of “separation” came from an 1802 Thomas Jefferson letter). 

Recently, Republicans and Democrats have argued about the notion of the US as a “Christian Nation.” In 2007 John McCain stated, “The Constitution established the United States of America as a Christian nation.” Yet in 2009, Barack Obama remarked, “"One of the great strengths of the United States is ... we do not consider ourselves a Christian nation or a Jewish nation or a Muslim nation. We consider ourselves a nation of citizens who are bound by ideals and a set of values." 

Now Republican presidential candidates Michele Bachman and Rick Perry actively advocate Theocracy. They believe the US was founded as a Christian nation and disdain the notion of separation of church and state. 

Bachman and Perry are proponents of radical Christian fundamentalism, Dominionism. Dominionists believe the US should be a Christian nation; their version of Christianity should be the state religion; and Biblical law – the Ten Commandments – should be the foundation of the US legal system. (They also believe that God gave humans “dominion” over all life on earth.) 

Writing in the NEW YORKER, journalist Ryan Lizza examined Michele Bachman’s radical views: “Bachmann said in 2004 that being gay is ‘personal enslavement,’ and that, if same-sex marriage were legalized, ‘little children will be forced to learn that homosexuality is normal and natural and that perhaps they should try it.’” “She believes that evolution is a theory that has ‘never been proven.’” Bachmann is anti-abortion and believes Christianity should be taught in public schools. 

Rick Perry has similar beliefs. Writing in THE TEXAS OBSERVER, journalist Forrest Wilder described Governor Perry. He’s allied with the “New Apostolic Reformation” wing of Pentecostalism and believes he’s a modern-day prophet directed by God to purify the US by becoming President. 

Why have Republicans turned to such extreme candidates? It’s consistent with a disturbing change in their base. The most recent Pew Research Report on US politics described: “the emergence of a single bloc of across-the-board conservatives. The long-standing divide between economic, pro-business conservatives and social conservatives has blurred. Today, Staunch Conservatives take extremely conservative positions on nearly all issues -- on the size and role of government, on economics, foreign policy, social issues and moral concerns. Most agree with the Tea Party and even more very strongly disapprove of Barack Obama's job performance.” 

While only 11 percent of registered voters, staunch conservatives are angry, energized, and well funded. They’re united by a dislike for government, a belief in state’s rights, and disdain for President Obama. Staunch conservatives are white, conservative Christians, advocates of unfettered corporate capitalism, who see Obama as black, Muslim, and a socialist. Staunch conservatives share many ideas that fueled the Confederacy. Not surprisingly, Dominionists seek to redefine the civil war as a conflict between “a Christian Nation,” the South, and barbarians led by the Northern elite. 

In difficult times, nations sometimes embrace extreme solutions. Now America is in turmoil and Republicans offer the radical Theocracy of Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry. 

Bob Burnett is a Berkeley writer. He can be reached at bobburnett@comcast.net

Eclectic Rant: Senate Must Pass AB 144 to Restrict California's Open Carry Gun Law

By Ralph E. Stone
Monday August 29, 2011 - 04:58:00 PM

The California Assembly passed Assembly Bill 144, which would severely restrict California’s open-carry gun law with certain reasonable exceptions, for example, hunters or to transport guns in locked trunks or cases. California law now allows adults who are not prohibited by law to visibly carry an unloaded gun in public places, excluding school zones, government buildings, state and national parks and secured areas like airports. The law permits a gun owner to carry ammunition with the unloaded gun, which could be loaded within seconds, belying the distinction between a loaded and unloaded gun. Police are permitted only to ensure the weapon is not loaded. They cannot check the gun’s serial number, ask for the carrier’s identification, or detain him or her. It is also still legal to carry a concealed weapon, although gun most advocates claim such permits are and should be difficult to obtain.  

AB144 is a logical extension of the Mulford Act, which already prohibits the carrying of a loaded weapon on one’s person or in a vehicle in a public place or on any public street. AB144 now faces an uncertain future in the Senate. 

Last year, Bay Area gun advocates staged frequent open-carry “meet-ups” at Starbucks coffee shops and other restaurants. People showed up at pre-determined places wearing their unloaded sidearms and hung out, drinking coffee or talking. Many members of the public, alarmed at the sight of people openly carrying a handgun, called the police. When the police arrived, they were only allowed to verify that the handguns were unloaded and, if they were, there were no charges.  

The Starbucks coffee chain announced that it will continue letting customers openly carry unloaded handguns in its coffee shops. I bet Starbucks would quickly change its policy if a group of black folks from the “hood” or “Arab-looking” folks in traditional Middle Eastern garb exercised their rights by carrying handguns with ammunition in their belts entered a Starbucks coffee shop and ordered coffee. 

Not surprisingly, many in the public find the practice of “packing heat” in places like Starbucks intimidating and potentially dangerous to their families and communities. 

Why this American obsession with guns? The United States is a violent nation with the highest rate of firearm-related deaths among all industrialized nations. Over 70-million Americans own guns and 48 percent of all households have at least one gun. There are an estimated 200-million firearms of all types in the United States. In homes with guns, a member of the household is almost three times as likely to be the victim of a homicide compared to gun-free homes. On the average, if someone gets shot and killed, four out of five times it will be with a handgun. A 2010 Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that 47 percent oppose so-called “open carry” laws that would allow citizens to openly wear their guns in public and 41 percent favor such laws. In states where it is legal to openly carry a gun, a 2010 CBS News/New York Times Poll found that 74 percent believe that private businesses like stores and restaurants should be able to prohibit customers from openly carrying guns in their establishments. 

I carried a 45 caliber standard issue handgun while serving in the U.S. Army in Vietnam. I have never owned gun or intend to ever own a handgun and I do not feel any safer knowing that 70-million other Americans own them. 

Gun control advocates argue that they are just exercising their Constitutional rights and an unexercised right to openly carry a gun is a lost right. After all, “it is people, not guns, that kill people.” (Actually, it is people with guns that kill the most people.)  

Regrettably, in the 2008 case of District of Columbia vs. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008), the Supreme Court did find that Americans have a Second Amendment right to “keep and bear arms.” However, this does not mean that federal and state governments cannot pass and enforce gun control laws. In fact, many gun control laws have been found to be valid after the Supreme Court decision. 

AB144 will be a tough sell in the Senate. The California Police Chiefs Association and the Brady Campaign and many law enforcement agencies are vigorously supporting the ban, while the National Rifle Association and other gun groups are against it. Lobbying by both sides will be hot and heavy. If AB144 should become law, it will most likely be challenged in court.  

Please urge your state Senators to pass AB144.

My Commonplace Book (a diary of excerpts copied from printed books, with comments added by the reader.)

By Dorothy Bryant
Monday August 29, 2011 - 05:00:00 PM

“The book of my enemy has been remaindered

And I am pleased. 

In vast quantities it has been remaindered. 

Like a van-load of counterfeit that has been seized 

And sits in piles in a police warehouse, 

My enemy’s much-praised effort sits in piles 

In the kind of bookshop where remaindering occurs. 

Great, square stacks of rejected books and, between them, aisles 

One passes down reflecting on life’s vanities, 

Pausing to remember all those thoughtful reviews 

Lavished to no avail upon one’s enemy’s book— 

For behold, here is that book 

Among these ranks and banks of duds, 

These ponderous and seemingly irreducible cairns 

Of complete stiffs. . . .  

The book of my enemy has been remaindered 

And I rejoice . . . . . . .” 


—from a poem (titled by first line) by Clive James (2003) 


When I read this poem aloud to a roomful of writers, they erupted in giggles at the first line and remained convulsed throughout the fifty-odd lines of it. Clive James had nailed us all. 

As an avidly reading child, I spent hours in my church—the public library—surrounded by the shelves of sacred tomes, I read the authors’ names on the spines with awe. I assumed, I believed—I knew—that the act of creation must purify these creators, making them saintly, almost demi-gods in comparison with their humble readers. 

When I began to write, then to meet other writers, and to read more biographies of writers. I quickly learned that, except for the moments spent in the act of creation, writers’ and artists’ behavior is pretty much like everyone else’s—good and bad, now and then—subject to all of the seven deadly sins, especially the slimiest, meanest one, envy. (How the remaindered writer became the poet’s “enemy” is not explained. Was it merely by getting better reviews? Wider sales?) 


Yet James’ poem may soon be incomprehensible to most readers. With new technologies of print-on-demand, plus shopping on-line, the word “remainder” is disappearing, along with (sadly) our old hangouts, bookstores. 


(Send the Berkeley Daily Planet a page from your own Commonplace Book)

Senior Power: Senior Centers

By Helen Rippier Wheeler
Monday August 29, 2011 - 04:38:00 PM

National Senior Center Month will be celebrated again in September. This year’s theme is It Happens at My Senior Center. My Life. My Time. My Way. The International Council on Active Aging is promoting September 25-October 1 as Active Aging Week, “for an active and healthy lifestyle.” 

Thirty-eight percent of Berkeley’s 112,580 population are boomers or seniors, age forty-five and over. [25% / ages 45-64 + 13% / ages 65+ plus = 38%. (2010 Census)] 

The boomer demographic consists of persons born in the postwar years (generally considered in the USA and other Allied countries as between 1945 and the early 1960s), when there was an increase in the birth rate following the return of service personnel at the end of World War II


Years ago gerontologist Erdman Ballagh Palmore wrote that “Age-segregated facilities, such as senior centers, discriminate against younger people and therefore are a form of ageism…. It is a kind of positive ageism in that it discriminates in favor of older people. From the standpoint of younger people who are not admitted and who pay most of the taxes that support the centers, senior centers are a negative kind of ageism, or reverse ageism.”  

Eleven years ago, John Krout expressed equally unreasonable reasoning: “… several problems exist with the policy of restricting senior centers to seniors: … They waste community resources by providing duplicate facilities for different age groups, which could be served by one facility-- a community center for all ages. They are based largely on the old stereotype that most seniors are frail or disabled, senile, poor, or otherwise in need of special programs. Activities or programs that require older persons to define themselves as ‘old’ or in any way incapable or inferior, are unattractive to most seniors.” 

Such pronouncements serve only as grist for the thoughtful discussion mill. 


From Bucks County, Pennsylvnia to San Diego and Merced in California, some senior centers are now being referred to as “senior community centers.” “Multipurpose senior center” seems oxymoronic, but there it is. If a new label lends itself to renting the facilities, it’s a good thing, but expanding senior center titles while decreasing services is unacceptable. (It’s catching: the Section 8 subsidized senior housing project’s recreation room has become “the community room.”) 

Adult education classes previously taught by credentialed instructors in senior centers are fewer and now cost $35.00 a class per term. At a neighbor city’s senior center, there’s a $1.00 “drop in” charge. At another, there’s an annual membership fee. 

Recognized by the Older Americans Act (OAA) as a community focal point, senior centers have become one of older adults’ most widely used services. More than 60% of senior centers are designated for delivery of OAA services that allow older adults to access multiple services in one place. 

Compared with their peers, senior center participants have higher levelsof health, social interaction, and life satisfaction, and lower levels of income. Average age is 75. Most participants visit their center1-3 times per week and spend an average of 3.3 hours per visit. 

Senior center accreditation can serve as the tool centers need to assist with potential change, identify target markets and compare themselves to the national standards. The Accreditation Manual of the National Institute of Senior Centers (part of the National Council on Aging) describes the role of senior centers in the community “as an integral part of the aging network,” serving community needs, assisting other agencies in serving older adults and providing opportunities for older adults to develop their potential as individuals within the context of the entire community. 



The majority of Americans want any new debt deal to include tax hikes for the wealthy and businesses and deep cuts in domestic spending, but no major changes to Social Security or Medicare. A new Joint Committee of Congress, the Super Committee, is charged with making necessary changes to the budget to reduce the deficit by $1.5 trillion. This means possible funding cuts in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. At least 6 Committee members have made statements against strengthening Social Security, even thoughSocial Security has not contributed to the deficit. On November 23, the Super Committee will report its plan for this reduction; only seven members of the committee must agree. Tell your representatives what you think. They should hear from people both inside and outside of their districts or states. 


Super Committee members include one Californian— fifty-three year old House Democrat Xavier Becerra [1910 West Sunset Blvd., #810, Los Angeles 90026, (213) 483-1425.] Co-chairs are sixty-one year old Senate Democrat Patty Murray (Washington state) [2988 Jackson Federal Building, 915 2nd Avenue, Seattle 98174. (206) 553-5545. Toll Free: (866) 481-9186. Fax: (206) 553-0891] and House Republican Jeb Hensarling (Texas). 




MARK YOUR CALENDAR: September and October, 2011. Be sure to confirm. Readers are welcome to share by email news of future events that may interest boomers and seniors. Daytime, free, and Bay Area events preferred. pen136@dslextreme.com


Thursday, Sept. 1. 10 A.M. Drop-in Computers for Beginners class. Central Berkeley Public Library. 2090 Kittredge. (510) 981-6100. Also Sept. 8, 15, 22 and 29. 

Thursday, Sept. l. 6 P.M. Lawyers in the Library. Berkeley Public Library, South branch. 1901 Russell St. . 510-981-6100. Also Sept. 8. 

Sunday, Sept. 4. 2 P.M. – 4 P.M. Craft Workshops with Margo Wecksler. Albany branch library of the Alameda County Library, 1247 Marin Av. 510-526-3720. 

Tuesdays, beginning Sept. 6, 10 A.M.-12:30 P.M. Mastick Senior Center, 1155 Santa Clara Avenue, Alameda. Creative writing class. Fee class. 

Tuesday, Sept. 6, 7 P.M. Kensington Library, 61 Arlington Av. “Castoffs” Knitting Group. Enjoy an evening of knitting, show and tell, and yarn exchange. All levels are welcome and some help will be provided. Free. 510-524-3043. 

Wednesday, Sept. 7. 9 A.M.-1 P.M. Mastick Senior Center. AARP Driver Safety Program refresher course designed for motorists age 50+. Preregistration required. $12 per person for AARP members, $14 per person for non-AARP members. Also Sept. 14. 

Wednesday. Sept. 7. - 10:30 A.M. Mastick Senior Center. Balance Your Walk with the Alexander Technique. Lenka Fejt, certified teacher, will begin a six-part workshop on the Alexander Technique. Prepaid registration fee of $60. required. Also Sept. 14, 21, 28. 

Wednesday, Sept. 7, 10 A.M. -Noon North Berkeley Senior Center, 1901 Hearst. Advisory Council meeting. Public invited. 510-981-5190. 

Wednesday, Sept. 7. 12:15 P.M. – 1 P.M. Noon Concert Series Performing Arts - UC,B Music Dept., Hertz Concert Hall. Joe Neeman, violin. Miles Graber, piano. Tickets not required. 510-642-4864. 

Wednesday, Sept. 7 through Nov. 3, 2 P.M.– 4 P.M. Alameda Adult School instructors provide computer instruction at Mastick Senior Center. Register at the Adult School, 2250 Central Avenue, Room 160 or on-line at www.alameda-adult-school.org

Wednesday, Sept. 7, 6-8 P.M. Alameda County Library, Albany branch. 1247 Marin Ave. Lawyer in the Library. Free 15 minute consultation with an attorney. Sign up in person at the Reference desk or call 510-526-3720 ext. 5 during library hours. 

Thursday, Sept. 8, 6-7:45 P.M. Berkeley Public Library, South branch. 1901 Russell St. Lawyer in the Library. Free legal advice and help with questions. In-person sign-ups only; sign-ups begin at 5pm. Names pulled by lottery at 6 P.M. 

Friday, Sept. 9, 1 P.M. – 3 P.M. Mid-Autumn Festival. At the North Berkeley Senior Center. 510-981-5190. 

Fridays, beginning Sept. 9 Impariamo L’Italiano at Mastick Senior Center. Beginning Italian, 10 A.M. - 11 A.M. Intermedia Italian,11 A.M. – 12 Noon. 1155 Santa Clara Av., Alameda. Donatella Zepplin, Instructor. Sign up in the Mastick Office or call 510-747-7506. 

Saturday, Sept. 10. 12 Noon. Beef Bowl Anime Club meeting for adults. Albany branch, Alameda County Library. 1247 Marin Ave. 510-526-3720 x 16 . 

Monday, Sept. 12. 6 P.M. Evening Computer Class. Central Berkeley Public Library. 2090 Kittredge. 510-981-6100. Also Sept. 19 and 26. 

Tuesday, Sept. 13, 9:30 A.M. to 12:30 P.M. Mastick Senior Center. 1155 Santa 

Clara Avenue, Alameda. Jewelry Making with Rose O’Neill. Beads and tools will be supplied. Class is limited to 10 students. Cost is $15 per person. Sign up in the Mastick Office or call 510-747-7506. 

Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2 P.M. Job Search Resources. Central Berkeley Public Library. 2090 Kittredge. 

Saturday, Sept. 13, 10 A.M. – 3 P.M. 34th Annual Health Fair. Allen Temple Baptist 

Church, 8501 International Blvd., Oakland. Free health screenings. 510-544-8910. 

Wednesday, Sept. 14. 12:15 P.M. – 1 P.M. Noon Concert Series Performing Arts - UC,B Music Dept., Hertz Concert Hall. John Kapusta, voice; Nicholas Mathew, piano. Tickets not required. 510-642-4864. 

Beginning Wednesday, Sept. 14 - 1 P.M. Mastick Senior Center Cultural Events class includes 2 Berkeley Repertory Theatre performances. Minimum enrollment of 15 required. To reserve a seat, visit the Office or call 510-747-7506. 

Wednesdy, Sept. 14 . 6:30 P.M. – 8 P.M. Drop-In Poetry Writing Workshops. Free. Albany branch of the Alameda County library, 1247 Marin Av. 510-526-3720. 

Wednesday. Sept. 14. 12 Noon. Playreaders. Central Berkeley Public Library. 2090 Kittredge. Also Sept. 21 and 28. 

Thursdays, beginning Sept. 15, 10 A.M. – 11:30 A.M. Mastick Senior Center 1155 Santa Clara Avenue, Alameda. Computer Basic Skills class. Nancy D’Amico, Volunteer Instructor. Sign up in advance. 

Thursday, Sept. 15. 7 P.M. El Cerrito Library, 6510 Stockton Av. Join award-winning, local cookbook author, Marie Simmons for a talk and tasting. Her latest book is Fresh & Fast Vegetarian: Recipes that Make a Meal. 510-526-7512. 

Thursday, Sept. 15. 6 P.M. Lawyers in the Library. Berkeley Public Library, West branch. 1125 University. 510-981-6270. Also Sept. 22. 

Friday, Sept. 16, 10 A.M. – 1 P.M. 14th Annual Senior Resource Fair. Presented by San Leandro Senior Services. San Leandro Senior Community Center, 13909 East 14 St. 510-577-3462. 

Saturday, Sept. 17, 11 A.M. Landlord /Tenant Counseling. Central Berkeley Public Library. 2090 Kittredge. 510-981-6100. 

Saturday, Sept. 17, 1:30 P.M. music; 2 P.M. show. SF Mime Troupe's 2010: The Musical. Willard Park, Berkeley, CA. Outdoors. Free. 415-285-1717. Also Sept 18. 

Wednesday, Sept. 21. 12:15 P.M. – 1 P.M. Noon Concert Series Performing Arts - UC,B Music Dept., Hertz Concert Hall. Faculty Recital: Michael Orland, piano.Tickets not required. 510-642-4864. 

Wednesday, Sept. 21, 1:30 P.M. Berkeley Commission on Aging meets in a senior center, probably North Berkeley Senior Center, 1901 Hearst, corner MLK. #25 AC bus stops at the NBSC. Phone to confirm location. 510-981-5190. 510-981-5200. 

Thursday, Sept. 22. 9 A.M. – 5 P.M. Albany Senior Center Open House. Food, entertainment. 846 Masonic Av. 510-524-9122. 

Sunday, Sept. 25. 1:30 P.M. Book Into Film: The Last Station. Central Berkeley Public Library, 2090 Kittredge. Registration required: 510-981-6236. 

Monday, Sept. 26. 7 P.M. Kensington Library, 61 ArlingtonAve. The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery. Each meeting starts with a poem selected and read by a member with brief discussion following. New members welcome. 510-524-3043. 

Tuesday, Sept. 27, 1 P.M. Mastick Senior Center, 1155 Santa Clara Av., Alameda. “Getting the Most From Your Doctor’s Visit.” Lecture by Patient Advocate Linda Garvin, RN, MSN. Register in the Mastick Office or call 510-747-7506. 

Tuesday, Sept 27, 3 P.M. Tea & Cookies Book Club. Central Berkeley Public Library. 

Tea and Cookies. A book club for people who want to share the books they have read. 

Tuesday, Sept. 27, 7 – 8 P.M. El Cerrito Library book discussion group. 6510 Stockton. Come to one or all discussions. Let the Great World Spin, novel by Colum McMcCann. 510-526-7512. 

Wednesday, Sept. 28. 12:15 P.M. – 1 P.M. Noon Concert Series Performing Arts - UC,B Hertz Concert Hall. University Symphony Orchestra - David Milnes, conductor. Ligeti: Lontano. Korngold: Violin Concerto, Ernest Yen, soloist. Tickets not required. 510-642-4864. 

Wednesday, Sept. 28, 1:30-2:30 P.M. Alameda County Library, Albany branch. 1247 Marin Av. Great Books Discussion Group. Morrison's Song of Solomon. Facilitated discussion. Come to one meeting, or all meetings. Books are available at the Library. Parking! 510-526-3720 x 16. 




Monday, Oct. 3. 6 P.M. Evening Computer Class. Central Berkeley Public Library. (510) 2090 Kittredge. 510-981-6100. Also Oct. 17 and 24. 

Sunday, Sept. 4. 2 P.M. – 4 P.M. Craft Workshops with Margo Wecksler. Albany branch library of the Alameda County Library, 1247 Marin Av. 510-526-3720. 

Wednesday, Oct. 5. 12:15 P.M. – 1 P.M. Noon Concert Series Performing Arts - UC,B Hertz Concert Hall. Felicia Chen, soprano; Daniel Alley, piano. Jason Yu, piano. Tickets not required. 510-642-4864. 

Wednesday, Oct. 5. 10:30 A.M. Mastick Senior Center. 1155 Santa Clara Avenue, Alameda. Balance Your Walk with the Alexander Technique. Lenka Fejt, certified teacher. This six-part workshop on the Alexander Technique has begun. Prepaid registration fee of $60. required. 510-747-7506. Also Oct. 12. 

Wednesday, Oct. 5 - 12 Noon. Playreaders. Central Berkeley Public Library. (510) 2090 Kittredge. 510-981-6100.. Also Oct. 12 and 19. 

Wednesday, Oct. 5. 6 P.M. – 8 P.M. Alameda County Library, Albany branch. 1247 Marin Ave. Lawyer in the Library. Free 15 minute consultation with an attorney. Sign up in person at the Reference desk or call 510-526-3720 ext. 5 during library hours. 

Thursday, Oct. 6. 6 P.M. Lawyers in the Library. Berkeley Public Library South branch. 1901 Russell. 510-981-6100. Also Oct. 13. 

Wednesday, Oct. 12. 12:15 P.M. – 1 P.M. Noon Concert Series Performing Arts - UC,B Hertz Concert Hall. Andrea Wu, piano. Tickets not required. 510-642-4864. 

Wednesday, Oct. 12. 6:30 P.M. – 8 P.M. Drop-In Poetry Writing Workshops. Free. Albany branch of the Alameda County library, 1247 Marin Av. 510-526-3720. 

Thursday, Oct. 13. 10 A.M. Computers for Beginners. Central Berkeley Public Library. 2090 Kittredge. 510-981-6100. Also Oct. 20 and 27. 

Saturday, Oct. 15. 11 A.M. Landlord/Tenant Counseling. Central Berkeley Public Library. (510) 2090 Kittredge. 510- 981-6100. 

Wednesday, Oct. 19. 12:15 P.M. – 1 P.M. Noon Concert Series Performing Arts - UC,B Hertz Concert Hall. University Gospel Chorus - Another Day's Journey. Tickets not required. 510-642-4864. 

Thursday, Oct. 20. 6 P.M. Lawyers in the Library. Berkeley Public Library West branch. 1125 University. 510-981-6270. Also Oct. 27. 

Tuesday, Oct. 25. 3 - 4 P.M. Tea and Cookies. Central Berkeley Public Library. A book club for people who want to share the books they have read. Central Berkeley Public Library. 2090 Kittredge. (510) 2090 Kittredge. 510-981-6100. 

Wednesday, Oct. 26. 12:15 P.M. – 1 P.M. Noon Concert Series Performing Arts - UC,B Hertz Concert Hall. Tony Lin, piano. Tickets not required. 510-642-4864. 

Wednesday, Oct. 26. 1:30-2:30 P.M. Alameda County Library, Albany branch. 1247 Marin Av. Great Books Discussion Group. Roman Fever, Edith Wharton’s short story. Facilitated discussion. Come to one meeting, or all meetings. Books are available at the Library. Parking! 510-526-3720 x 16. 

Wednesday and Thursday, Oct. 26/Sacramento and 27/South San Francisco, 2011 . "Dementia Care Without Drugs - A Better Approach for Long-term Care Facilities" symposia re misuse of psychotropic drugs as treatment for dementia; difficulty in managing dementia treatment; non-pharmacological approaches to care. CANHR staff attorney Tony Chicotel presentation, "Stop Drugging Our Elders!" California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform http://www.canhr.org. 415-974-5171. Fax 415-777-2904. 









On Mental Illness: Give Yourself a Break

By Jack Bragen
Monday August 29, 2011 - 11:38:00 AM

A common myth says that mentally ill people need to “get with it,” get up off the sofa, and get to work; that we’re lazy; and if we just tried harder and would put more effort into life, our problems would evaporate. I’m here to tell you that, more often than not, this idea is untrue. The belief that if we just, “get up and run ten miles a day” then our problems would disappear, is just more of the same punishment, as well as self-punishment, that got many of us into trouble in the first place. 

While physical exercise may help with some types of depression, it will do nothing for someone who suffers from delusions. Exercising the body a lot will sometimes make delusions worse. Rather than being cured by physical exercise, you will become an in-shape psychotic person. 

While a person with mental illness may appear to be lazy, this is usually not so. You might observe someone sitting still on a sofa, or even laying down and rarely getting up; you may observe what appears to be a poor work attitude. This may not be caused by laziness. A person with mental illness could be dealing with symptoms such as an anxiety attack or an attack of thoughts. This can cause a person to sit or lie down while they are trying to deal with the resultant suffering and the resultant preoccupation. A case of severe depression can also cause the inability to get up from the sofa. 

When up from the sofa and starting work, the difficulties for a person with mental illness don’t end. If taking antipsychotic medication, these drugs can interfere with performing work. Antipsychotic medications, because of their depressing effect, can make work unbearable. Or sometimes, medication can slow down a person’s work to a level that’s not competitive with that of other workers. The poor work performance or the inappropriate behavior of leaving, that a supervisor might observe, could be caused by the medication, the illness, or a combination of both. 

Paranoia is another reason for not having an easy time at work. A person who has delusions and/or paranoia could incorrectly perceive that coworkers dislike him or her. Treatment on the job that seems harsh and which is related to getting the job done could mistakenly be taken personally; or this treatment could be unduly painful due to not having a thick skin. A person with mental illness may not feel “safe” on the job on an interpersonal level. We may be in constant fear of being fired or of not being able to master the job. All of this creates a further drag on the total effort available. 

The world of work and other energetic pursuits can be filled with frustration for someone with mental illness, partly because the limitations are not usually related to a lack of intelligence or of basic ability. We are not fixed by just “trying harder.” Doing so can create long-term damage. Because there is a legitimate impairment to doing work, to “running ten miles a day” or to whatever activity you believe ought to be done and isn’t getting done, the person with mental illness should refrain from self blame. He or she should refrain from a work ethic that is so unyielding that it becomes self punishment. The mentally ill person should put effort into life. However, that person should not be judged if their effort doesn’t look as vigorous as that of unimpaired persons. 

And yet, persons with mental illness ought to be judged on an individual basis. And prospective employers should not rule out the sensibleness of hiring or working with us. While there are some of us who are unready to handle a job or other situation involving getting up from the sofa, there are others who, with very minor adjustments, can keep up with the rest. 

* * * 

While I can not respond to all emails or offer advice to individuals, please feel free to send me a note. Your stories and opinions that agree or disagree with me are all welcome. I will check with you first before publishing something you send, and will not include identifying information unless you so request. I can be reached at: bragenkjack@yahoo.com 

Arts & Events

The MLK Monument: In the Style of Soviet Social Realism?

By Raymond Barglow
Wednesday August 31, 2011 - 09:48:00 AM

Martin Luther King will be the first non-president and the first African-American to be honored on the National Mall in Washington DC. It’s about time! MLK is one of the towering, heroic figures of the 20th century.

The design of the memorial is based on an image in MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech, “We will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope.” Like many of MLK’s metaphors, this one is compelling, but does it translate well into sculpture? From the time this monument was proposed over a decade ago until now, the project has been criticized on both esthetic and political grounds. 

One objection has been to the allegedly authoritarian artistic style of the monument, which presents King as a stone figure 28 feet high, more than 50% taller than the nearby statues of Lincoln and Jefferson. The U.S. Commission of Fine Arts found in 2008 that “the colossal scale and Social Realist style of the proposed statue recalls a genre of political sculpture that has recently been pulled down in other countries…. the proposed treatment of the sculpture—as the most iconographic and central element of the memorial to Dr. King—would be unfortunate and inappropriate as an expression of his legacy.” 

Full article is here.

Encore for the Berkeley Arts Festival

Wednesday August 31, 2011 - 11:54:00 AM

The Berkeley Art Festival's space at University and Shattuck has been extended indefinitely. Here are the new listings: 


September 15, Larry Ochs/Donald Robinson, 8 pm 


September 16, Jerry Kuderna, noon concert 


September 23, Jerry Kuderna, noon concert 


September 29, Mark Miller Trio, 8 pm 


September 30, Jerry Kuderna, noon concert 


October 1, ElectricPoetic Coffee, 8 pm 


October 3, Sarah Cahill, piano concert, 8 pm 


October 6, Steve Adams, Solo and Quartet 8 pm 


October 7, Jerry Kuderna, noon concert 


October 8, Dan Plonsey, Monstrosities 


Plus Fred Frith/Theresa Wong Duo, 8 pm 


October 14, Jerry Kuderna, noon concert 


October 15, Jerry Kuderna piano concert, 8 pm 


October 16, India Cooke-Bill Crossman Duo, 4 pm 


October 20, Darren Johnston Nice Guy Trio, 9 pm 


October 21, Jerry Kuderna, noon concert 


October 22, Phillip Greenlief/David Boyce Duo plus Kris Tiner/Mike Bagetta Duo 8 pm 


October 28, Jerry Kuderna, noon concert 


October 29, Nathan Clevenger Group, 8 pm 

For further details: www.berkeleyartsfestival.com

Around & About Theater: Woodminster presents Finian's Rainbow; Impact at La Val's Subterranean: Of Dice & Men

By Ken Bullock
Tuesday August 30, 2011 - 04:36:00 PM

Woodminster presents Finian's Rainbow from 1947, the final summer musical at the old WPA amphitheater high above the Bay in Joaquin Miller Park, featuring tunes like "That Old Devil Moon" and "How Are Things in Glocca Morra?" With a leprechaun and a corrupt Southern Democrat Senator, a pot of gold stolen from Ft. Knox, and a mix of Irish airs, Gospel and R&B ... and a lot of dancing. Thursday, September 1 through Sunday the 11. This Thursday--preview--at 8 p. m.; otherwise, Thursday and-Sundays at 7, Fridays and Saturdays at 8. $26-$42. 62 and over, 16 and under--$2 off. Preview half price. 531-9597; woodminster.com 

Impact is staging the regional premiere of Cameron McNary's Of Dice & Men, about Dungeons & Dragons, wizardry--& growing up. It's McNary's Bay Area debut as playwright. Artistic director Melissa Hillman directs. Thursdays-Saturdays through October 1 at La Val's Subterranean, 1834 Euclid. $12-$20. 224-5744; impacttheatre.com 

Don't Miss This

By Dorothy Snodgrass
Monday August 29, 2011 - 04:47:00 PM

With Labor Day just around the corner, you'll need to labor long and hard when choosing between the many entertaining and worthwhile events occurring the next few weeks. 

The most outstanding is the San Francisco Symphony Centennial Bash on Sept. 8th, 11:30 a.m. in the S.F. Civic Center Plaza. Maestro Michael Tilson Thomas and the brilliant Chinese pianist Lang Lang will perform Franz Lizst's Piano Concerto No. 1. 

Berkeley's own Rita Moreno will look back on her award winning career in a new solo show, "Rita Moreno Without Makeup", starting Sept. 8th at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre. ( 510) 647-2049. 

"Frost/Nixon", a play dramatizing the 1977 television interview of President Richard Nixon and British talk show host David Frost will play at the Douglas Morrison Theatre, 22311 N. Third St., Hayward, 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays through Sept. 25th. (510) 881-6777. 

146th Scottish Highland Gathering and Games, 21 attractions, Sept. 3 and 4 at the Alameda County Fairgrounds in Pleasanton. www.TheScottish Games.com 

Walnut Creek Family Fest, Sept. 3, 4 and 5, Heather Farm Park, Walnut Creek, 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. daily. Nonstop entertainment. 

"The Mystery of Irma Vep," Masquers Playhouse, 105 Park Place, Point Richmond. Two actors spoof Alfred Hitchcock's "Rebecca." 8 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays through Sept. 11th. (51) 232-4031. 

"The Wizard of Oz," Diablo Theatre Company, Lesher Art Center, 1501 Civic Drive, Walnut Creek, Sept. 9 through October 1. (925) 943-SHOW. 

German Festival, Greek Orthodox Cathedral and Grounds, Sunday, Sept. 18th, 1:00-7: p.m. Sponsored by the Excelsior German Center at the Altenheim. Bratwurst, beer and wine. (510) 836-0735. 

30th Annual Harvest Wine Celebration, Livermore Valley Wine Country, Sept. 4 and 5, noon to 5 p.m. Wine tasting at over 40 wineries. www.LVwine.org. 

Contra Costa Greek Food and Wine Festival, Sept. 16, 17 & 18, 1955 Kirker Pass Road, Concord. (925) 676-6967. 

Aztec Run for Education 2011, Spanish Speaking Citizens' Foundation, Saturday. Sept. 17, 8 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. Merritt College Track Field, 12500 Campus Drive, Oakland. 5K Run and 2 Mile Walk. (510) 261-7839. 

20th Annual Viva Fest, a Mariachi Musical, Sept. 25, 7 p.m., HP Pavilion. www.vivafest.org. 

So, have a sober Labor Day (despite all that wine and beer), one that doesn't strain your budget!.

Adult Education Music and Theater Appreciation Classes at Northbrae Center

By Ken Bullock
Wednesday August 31, 2011 - 10:36:00 AM

Two popular ten week adult education classes in music and theater appreciation, taught by Marion Fay, will start up again the week of September 12 at Berkeley's Northbrae Community Center. The classes are through Albany Adult School, but draw from the Berkeley community as well. Theater Explorations, which features three separate sections, will see Rita Moreno's show at Berkeley Rep and Edward Albee's A Delicate Balance at the Aurora--plus three other plays--at discounted prices, and host guest speakers, including actors and directors. Music Appreciation meets Thursday mornings and features trips to classical music performances, as well as composers, conductors and musicians from the San Francisco and Berkeley Symphonies as guests discussing their work. Musical training is not required for the class. 

For more information or to enroll online: adulted.ausdk12.org