Federal and state laws require the Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District to adjust its ward boundaries every 10 years in order to equalize populations following the completion of the federal census. -more-
Parent trigger laws, according to their proponents, give parents power. Gregory McGinity, managing director of policy for the Broad Education Foundation, calls them "a way for parents' voices to be heard."
Sounds good. But is the parent trigger concept a way to put parents in charge of their kids' education, or is it part of a political agenda that will rob parents of even more control? While hardly anyone argues that parents don't want, and don't deserve, a voice in their children's schools, many educators, and even parents themselves, doubt that parent trigger laws increase their involvement.
Many teachers believe parent trigger laws are a way for charter schools to gain a bigger share of the education system. For McGinity, that's not a bad idea. The Broad Foundation promotes the proliferation of charter schools, which he says simply offer parents "a different way for a school to operate." Teachers, however, are alarmed. They see the expansion of a privatized education system, and view parent trigger laws as a means for rushing the process forward.
Their concerns illustrate the big stakes behind passing and implementing these laws. Several very conservative players in national education reform have made parent trigger proposals a key part of their agenda. As they're introduced in state after state, California's experience is being watched closely. -more-
“Hot” is not what makes toys great, because “hot” gets cold fast. What is more important is play value of the toy, appropriateness for child’s age, interests and abilities plus the child’s ability to be playful, and engage with the right toy that best matches the child. Dr. Toy reminds parents and teachers that “play is children’s work” and should be respected and understood by all adults. We should be thinking: “What products or ‘tools for play’ can we obtain to provide wholesome experiences for children and plenty of positive play interactions?” -more-
Tree-Sit Resumes to Protect People's Park Trees as University Fells Nearby Tree, Threatens to Buzz-Saw Tree Hosting the Sit
At last, a new plot twist in the apparently on-going saga of People's Park tree sits.
This sit is all about protecting trees themselves. See there's actually a connection here, unlike past sits, which claimed Ohlone indians owned the park, if not "all of the known world."
It's all been staged before--two years ago. But not with such intricate plot twists.
Sit3 (it's a franchise now) began late Tuesday, less than ten hours before the university felled two small trees they said were impinging on nearby trees. Even the tree-sit host tree is a target. As the police have said in the past, the tree sit host tree was sick and had to be euthanized with a buzz-saw.
According to the latest sitter, Littlebird, 29, from Portland, Oregon, the police have wasted no time telling Littlebird that he's nesting on borrowed time. -more-
Demonstrations come and go on the UC Berkeley campus. They’re sometimes amusing, periodically profound, occasionally irritating. For half a century they’ve been a fixture of Sproul Plaza and have become so commonplace that most don’t attract extensive attention. -more-
A bake sale by Berkeley College Republicans yesterday that was aimed at satirizing race-based admissions generated heated debates and counter-protests but no major problems. -more-
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-
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-
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-
"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-
“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-
It’s one of those tedious on-the-one-hand on-the-other-hand kind of things. Berkeley City Manager Phil Kamlarz is retiring (with a pension uncomfortably close to $300k per year) and he’d like to put his thumb on the scale when the question of the successor to his powerful position is weighed by the Berkeley City Council. Is this good?
In theory, I’ve always been in favor of hiring from within an organization when at all possible. It saves the expense of conducting a national search for a replacement administrator, and the decision-makers (the city council, in this case) are likely to know the virtues and deficiencies of the candidate from first-hand experience.
But in this case, it seems like just another example of how governance of Berkeleyans is looking more and more like feudalism instead of like a democracy. No one in recent memory has succeeded to office, either elected or appointed, without an active link to his or her predecessor. Outsiders just don’t have a chance. -more-
The Editor's Back Fence
As is often the case in sleepy Berkeley, there's not much news this weekend. Most likely this issue will be up until Monday, if you're wondering. -more-
Reader Roger Marquis sent me the link to a broadcast by environmental lawyer Gary Patton on KUSP in Santa Cruz.
It's about a blatant attempt to gut CEQA which had been passed by California Democrats in Sacramento and when he wrote was on Jerry Brown's desk. Roger said:
"I haven't read anything (yet) about how our representatives voted on AB900, the latest attack on CEQA. Here's the story on Gary Patton's Land Use Report.
Wish we had something like this here in the East Bay."
Here's what happened after the Patton broadcast aired on September 12:
Brown signed AB 900, along with SB 292, whose implementation was required for AB 900's implementation. State Representative Nancy Skinner voted for both these awful bills; State Senator Loni Hancock voted yes on 900 and no on 292. -more-
Berkeley's civic leaders have a reputation for making profound declarations on national and global politics but when it comes to decisions regarding quality of life issues of people right here in Berkeley they seem to be incompetent or uncaring. Much can be said about the treatment of people who are poor and homeless or mentally ill but even in small matters one might wonder how decisions are made about what and for whose benefit. My experience is an example.
I live in a senior residence near Dwight and Telegraph and enjoy the shops and restaurants as well as the street life along the Avenue. I also appreciate the easy access to downtown Berkeley on the #1 and the #1R bus which I use almost daily to go to the library and the YMCA. AC Transit is a boon – buses run fast and frequently, but no matter how efficient the system is, riders must always expect to have a wait. That's why benches are placed at bus stops. That's why there was a bench at the bus stop on the corner in front of Peet's on Dwight and Telegraph. On July 10 that bench was removed. That was extremely disturbing. -more-
First of all, please give me credit for my ability to understand this issue. It is not that I don’t understand, I simply do not agree. -more-
Tom Friedman Tries to Scapegoat Baby Boomers -- He Should Remember That We Helped Forge American Prosperity
Baby Boomers, who have now morphed into “young seniors,” certainly did not contribute to the economic decline of America. On the contrary, this huge demographic bulge—as we have moved through our highly-publicized life cycle-- helped create the country’s consumerist prosperity with our teenage allowances and middle age purchases.
Yet running through the debate on the national debt is the subterranean belief that “young seniors,” once known as Baby Boomers, are stealing from future generations by having too many hip replacements and using up too much medical care to stay healthy and active. -more-
Letters: Mental Illness Column; Pension of City Manager; What is the Peak Democracy Open Town Hall Costing Us?
Mental Illness Column -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-
Most persons who have severe mental illness would like to work, if they possibly can. We are often prevented from working by the barriers against us in society and not just by the disability. Having a severe mental illness is a perfectly legitimate reason for not having a job. It would not be accurate to call us bums or freeloaders, any more than someone who suffers blindness or a broken back. While our disability is invisible, it is just as real as a person’s disability that is plainly visible, such as a missing limb. -more-
The defining characterisitic of the 112th Congress has been extreme Republican partisanship, an unprecedented willingness to hold the Federal government hostage until conservative demands are satisfied. The GOP tactic has disrupted the US and demolished the myth of a middle ground in American politics. -more-
The War, Ken Burns and Lynn Novick’s monumental 2007 television production, has recently been shown again. The War follows 40+ persons from 1941 to 1945, focusing on the citizens of four American communities. The book companion to the series is The War; An Intimate History, 1941-1945, by Geoffrey C. Ward and Burns. The words and photographs of two of the men who appear throughout -- Quentin C. Aanenson of Minnesota and Eugene Bondourant Sledge of Alabama – are particularly poignant, especially episode five –“FUBAR -- fucked up beyond all repair.” -more-
This is somewhat of a response to Jack Bragen's article, "Response to Laura's Law In A Nutshell." Mr. Bragen is responding to my September 22 article, "Laura's Law in a Nutshell."
I am not sure Mr. Bragen fully understands Laura's Law.
First of all, I believe a large percentage of California's chronic homeless are mentally ill and would be well served by implementation of Laura's Law. Laura's Law could be viewed as an alternative to institutionalization, jail, or a continued life on the streets. Is it the final answer? No. But New York's experience with Kendra's Law, model for Laura's Law, resulted in 74 percent fewer homeless; 83 percent fewer arrests; 49 percent less alcohol abuse; and 48 percent less drug abuse, and it has been a resounding success in Nevada County. -more-
My Commonplace Book (a diary of excerpts copied from printed books, with comments added by the reader.)
A fine artistic production expresses the vision, the conviction, and the insistent presence of one person. It is best when it is undiluted by artistic cooperation, when it is not characterized by any of the seven (or more) deadly virtues: fair-minded, well-balanced, accommodating, unassertive, cooperative, and so forth. —from A Life, by Elia Kazan (1909-2003), Distinguished actor/director -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
I believe it's safe to state that October is everyone's favorite month of the year, with red leaves falling from liquid amber trees and glorious sunsets. You my not know, however, that October derived its name from the Latin "Octo", meaning 10th month of the year in the Julian and Gregorian calendars. Having provided readers with this fascinating information, we now list some of the unique cultural and educational events taking place this month. -more-
Hop aboard The Magic School Bus Live as they explore “The Climate Challenge” with Ms. Frizzle and her curious class.
Based on the latest book in the popular Magic School Bus series by Joanna Cole & Bruce Degen, this energetic new musical follows the adventures of everyone’s favorite Magic School Bus characters—endearingly awkward Arnold, petite powerhouse Wanda, spunky Keesha, and their classmates—as they travel with their exuberant teacher from the polar ice to the tropics and from the ocean to the upper atmosphere to investigate why the world is getting warmer, why we should care, and what to do about it. -more-
Opens Friday at the Sundance Kabuki in San Francisco and in Berkeley at the Elmwood.
If you don't have $25 to spend on Joe McGinniss' new book, The Rogue: Searching for the Real Sarah Palin, you might want to get a quick-read in the form of the new British documentary, Sarah Palin: You Betcha! But, fair warning, you just might find yourself wishing the movie screen came equipped with a fast-forward button. -more-
Donizetti, one of the big three Bel Canto composers, liked to write about technicolor, edgy, and dangerous women: Anne Boleyn, Walter Scott’s tragic Bride of Lammermoor, and that purveyor of poison and daughter of a Pope, Lucretia Borgia. -more-
Raul Ruiz's extraordinary and original films have been shown at the Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley, notably a retrospective during the San Francisco Film Festival in 1984, and a program of short films, with Ruiz's appearance, in the 90s. Time Regained, his 1999 adaptation of Proust's final novel, with Catherine Deneuve, Emmanuelle beart and John Malkovitch, among others, is maybe his best-known work, one hailed on release as high among postwar masterpieces. -more-
Charles Gounod--best-known for his Faust--had a different sense of adapting Shakespeare to opera than Verdi. It's closer to Delacroix's renderings of Hamlet. In Romeo et Juliette, now at Livermore Valley Opera, the sprawling action and passion is concentrated into a few scenes of melodic, lyrical grace. -more-
This September marked the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 World Trade Center attack, the worst attack in American history! Who can forget the horrific images of the burning Towers, people jumping out of windows, and dazed workers who managed to escape the building, soot-covered but uninjured, running through the rubble covering the ground? -more-
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-