Berkeley City Manager Phil Kamlarz will retire at the end of November after 36 years as a City of Berkeley employee. He has been City Manager for 8 years, succeeding Weldon Rucker, under whom he served as Deputy City Manager. It has been widely rumored that the baton will again be passed to a City Hall insider, in this case to Deputy City Manager Christine Daniel. -more-
Report on Berkeley City Employee Costs, Proposed Savings and Action Plan Released:
An Updated Comparison of 12 Greater Bay Area Cities
The Berkeley Budget SOS organization has prepared and forwarded to the Berkeley City Council a report and updated analysis of costs for city employee salaries, benefits and overtime/other cash payments for 12 Bay Area cities, including the City of Berkeley. It is based on the Public Employees Database (PED) and data provided directly to Berkeley Budget SOS by City of Berkeley staff.
According to the report, in all categories Berkeley ranks significantly above the 12 city average, and in some cases is the highest of all cities in the survey.
The analysis estimates that the City of Berkeley could realize annual recurring savings of $68 Million to $100 Million if the aggregate of employee costs were reduced to that of the regional average.
As a means of achieving this goal Berkeley Budget SOS proposes the implementation of a 10-Point Action Plan.
The full text of the report can be seen here. -more-
Republican students at UC Berkeley are holding a controversial "Increase Diversity Bake Sale" on campus today to highlight their opposition to state Senate Bill 185. -more-
Alta Bates Summit, Nurses' Union Dispute Responsibility for Patient's Death after Replacement Administers Wrong Medication
Hospital officials and union leaders traded blame yesterday for the death of a patient at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Oakland early Saturday due to a medical error by a replacement nurse. -more-
“Park(ing) Day” came to Berkeley on September 16, 2011. The annual worldwide event originated in San Francisco in 2005 when the Rebar design studio temporarily turned a parking space into a mini-park, with turf, seating, and a boxed tree. It was a statement about creating “temporary public spaces” where the car is dominant, and/or urban outdoor space is scarce. -more-
"Every school a garden, every child a gardener, every plant a learning experience"—Kid Grow Australia
The typical schoolyard of unappealing, hard, grey, uneven, and usually broken asphalt fosters little interaction or playfulness and does nothing to connect children with nature, play, or learning. In addition there is great concern about the substantial rise in child obesity and diabetes throughout the country and the amount of time children are bound up by electronics, and not in contact with nature. It’s vital that we help kids to be better informed and more aware of the food they eat, to get them outdoors, and be more active.
Gardening is about all of this plus it fosters imagination and optimism. The idea that you plant a tiny seed and it turns into a plant is magical in itself. Last week a new light appeared that is prominently working to shift drab grey to bright green and moving towards creating a new generation that is closer attuned to nature and the environment.
Engaging Our Grounds, the first International Green Schoolyard Conference in the United States was held September 16-18, 2011 with events held in San Francisco and Berkeley, California. The three-day conference brought together a world of designers, architects, landscape architects, teachers, administrators, parents, publishers, and gardening experts to share and learn about programs already thriving as models in Australia, Canada, England, Germany, Japan, Sweden, and here in the Bay Area. The sponsors for the event included Bay Tree Design—a landscape architecture and planning firm, based in Berkeley; the San Francisco Green Schoolyard Alliance—a non-profit, focused on San Francisco schools; and Architects/Designers/Planners for Social Responsibility (ADPSR)/New Village Press—a green building non-profit and publisher. Several dozen exhibitors provided valuable information and resource materials on the event’s opening night in San Francisco. -more-
UC students on 10 UC campuses are organizing a day of action on Tuesday September 27th to call Governor Brown to express their support for Senate Bill 185. The UCSA Day of Action for SB 185 will be one of the largest call-in days for SB 185 with a goal of over 1,100 calls to the Governor. In response to our day of action, the Berkeley College Republicans have organized a deeply offensive “Bake Sale,” which misrepresents SB 185 and does nothing to further a constructive dialogue or positive campus climate.
“SB 185 allows the UC and CSU to consider race, ethnicity, gender and other relevant factors during the admissions process. Having knowledge of an individual applicant’s racial or ethnic background will allow the University to have a more accurate understanding of a person’s background and make a more informed admission decision. UC students strongly support this bill, and will be taking action to let the Governor know that we expect him to sign it,” says Claudia Magana, UCSA President. -more-
The eternal paradox about what is commonly called journalism is why so many people who commit it manage not to see what’s going on before their eyes, even as a reasonable number of others, in and out of journalism, do.
Ever wonder about what’s happening in the global economy? Well, here it is, a summary which could fit on the back of an envelope, and it’s even perversely funny:
“Quarterly GDP data don’t, on the whole, tend to make the person studying them laugh out loud. The most recent set, however, are an exception, despite the fact that the general picture is of unrelieved and spreading economic gloom. Instead of the surge of rebounding growth which historically accompanies successful exit from a recession, we have the UK’s disappointing 0.2 per cent growth, the US’s anaemic 0.3 per cent and the glum eurozone average figure of 0.2 per cent. That number includes the surprising and alarming German 0.1 per cent, the desperately poor French 0 per cent and then, wait for it, the agreeably frisky Belgian 0.7 per cent. Why is that, if you’ve been following the story, laugh-aloud funny? Because Belgium doesn’t have a government. Thanks to political stalemate in Brussels, it hasn’t had one for 15 months. No government means none of the stuff all the other governments are doing: no cuts and no ‘austerity’ packages. In the absence of anyone with a mandate to slash and burn, Belgian public sector spending is puttering along much as it always was; hence the continuing growth of their economy. It turns out that from the economic point of view, in the current crisis, no government is better than any government – any existing government.”
(From an opinion article by John Lanchester in a recent London Review of Books.)
That paragraph alone is worth column inch after column inch of sententious pieces in the American press attempting to convey what the hell the U.S. Congress is up to—yes, even in the New York Times, most of whose staffers appear not to read what Professor Paul Krugman writes on their own op-ed page. We’d be better off without this current Congress, wouldn’t we, so why not just say so? This is not an endorsement, by the way, of the Tea Party anti-government ideology, just a glum statement of observable fact. -more-
There is a statistic that says the lifespan of persons with severe mental illness is twenty to thirty years less than average. Being a person with mental illness carries with it a number of severe health risks. Additionally, we are less likely to receive lifesaving medical treatments. Physicians may not be as aggressive about treating our health problems. -more-
Arts & Events
As the raging debates over a student Republican "bake sale" in Sproul Plaza demonstrate, the exercise of free speech is alive and well on the UC Berkeley campus. But there was a time when staging any kind of student demonstration intended to influence a governor's vote on a pending bill would have been illegal. -more-
A coalition of workers, educators, students, seniors, environmentalists, peace activists, religious progressives, and other social justice activists from throughout the Bay Area plan to march and rally for jobs, not budget cuts, and other people-serving actions in Oakland on Saturday, Oct. 15. -more-