Opinion

Editorials

"Occupy Wall Street" Comes to Berkeley

By Becky O'Malley
Wednesday October 05, 2011 - 12:26:00 PM

As Jimmy Durante used to say, ever’body wants tuh ged in tuh duh’act. (If you’re too young to remember him and/or don’t come from Brooklyn, Everybody Wants to Get into the Act.) After a frustratingly slow start, the Occupy Wall Street action finally has legs.

Over the weekend, it became front page news in the big national papers. They all ran approximately the same story, recounting how the previously invisible campers took to the road and were arrested in impressive numbers while trying to cross the Brooklyn Bridge in the auto lane. Most of the stories featured approximately identical quotes from various Poli Sci professors at second-tier institutions, ones easily located in the metropolitan areas where the newspapers were published, on the order of “If they want to accomplish anything, they’ll need a program and identified leaders.”

Well, no. The most useful analysis of what seems to be going on could be found on the front page of yesterday’s New York Times Science Section, in a fascinating article about slime molds. Here’s the basics: -more-


The Editor's Back Fence

This Is the Weekend Issue: Good until Monday

Sunday October 09, 2011 - 01:21:00 PM

We're trying this week to use the issue with Friday's date all through the weekend for consistency. If you have time, keep checking for updates. The issue with Monday's date will appear midday. -more-


Hancock Bill Extends Berkeley Solar Finance Scheme to State: Was it a Success or a Failure?

Thursday October 06, 2011 - 02:51:00 PM

Today the Planet received a press release from the office of Senator Loni Hancock (D-Oakland), touting a bill she sponsored that would let homeowners borrow against the value of their property to finance installing solar energy systems, backed by government bonds, with payback billed with property taxes. This plan is similar to one originally floated in Berkeley by her husband Mayor Tom Bates's then assistant, Cisco DeVries.

The release describes the Berkeley experiment as being "highly successful" but for another point of view, see Berkeley's Solar Plan Goes Dark, The city has decided to abandon its once-touted home-solar financing program. an article by Judith Scherr in the East Bay Express.

You be the judge. Here's the release: -more-


Public Comment

AB 292 and SB 900: Both Bad for the Environment;
Why Did Skinner and Hancock Vote for Them?

By Antonio Rossmann
Tuesday October 11, 2011 - 09:58:00 AM

Enactment of these two bills represent the culmination of a perfect storm, which runs the risk of repetition often in the days ahead. But first explanation of what they are.

SB 292 was the special interest bill to facilitate approval of a new NFL stadium in downtown Los Angeles. The project proponent is AEG Enterprises, Philip Anschutz' empire that includes many of the world's major sports and entertainment stadia, and ownership of several professional sports teams in hockey, basketball, and soccer. AEG claims they need special treatment under CEQA in order to bring an NFL team to Los Angeles; the asserted fear is that a lengthy CEQA lawsuit would delay the arrival of a team they acquire from elsewhere, leaving that team stranded in its present location. AEG also claimed discrimination because two years ago the Legislature gave a competing Southern California promoter categorical exemption from CEQA. AEG built a political consensus for its project and CEQA exception by touting the tens of thousands of jobs that would be created by stadium construction. -more-


Local Activists Join New National Movement to “Take Back the American Dream”

By Ken A. Epstein
Tuesday October 11, 2011 - 04:17:00 PM
Van Jones

Twenty-three- year old Nelini Stamp became an activist at the age of 17 when her family was evicted from their apartment in New York City. She is one of the young generation of organizers who responded quickly to the call of the Occupy Wall Street protests.

“I went down there and didn’t realize it was going to change my life,” said Stamp, who is a member of the Working Families Party. “I started sleeping on cardboard (and began) pressuring labor organizations and community organizations to come on down and check it out.”

“We don’t need demands,” she explained in response to mainstream press criticisms. “If we tell them demands, it’s saying they have the power. And we have the power because we have strength in numbers.”

Stamp was among the 2,0000 veteran and newly emerging leaders from around the country who came together recently in Washington, DC to spark what they hope will become a national coalition and movement to “ Take Back the American Dream” from bankers, corporate CEOs and the lobbyist-owned politicians who have turned that dream into a nightmare. -more-


New: Hancock's Senate Bill 555 Release is Wrong: Berkeley's Solar Program Went Up in Flames

By Nigel Guest
Saturday October 08, 2011 - 10:43:00 PM

Loni Hancock's press release for this bill that you published is seriously flawed. I wrote [the following commentary about the Berkeley Solar Program]for the (Berkeley) Council of neighborhood Associations' August, 2011 newsletter.

The key problems are:

1) The Federal Housing Financing Authority has ruled that solar property tax liens cannot be accepted for properties with "conforming" mortgage loans.

2) The BerkeleyFirst solar financing scheme was not a success. It was a disaster. Only 13 people went through with it, and, after the FHFA ruling, the City abandoned it. -more-


New: Occupy Berkeley Report

By Steve Martinot
Sunday October 09, 2011 - 03:11:00 PM

The Berkeley occupation, joining some 900 other cities, has begun. Though the original call was for people to come to the B of A grounds at Center and Shattuck to plan an occupation, which would then begin on Saturday, Oct. 15, 100 people showed up, and the decision was made to begin right away. -more-


A Nurse's Viewpoint

By Berit Block, RN
Friday October 07, 2011 - 08:12:00 AM

I have been a Registered Nurse at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center for over 29 years. I love my job. I started at age 24 when it was Merritt Hospital and have worked there through various mergers and labor disputes and strikes. We, as Registered Nurses, have worked very hard through the years for a contract that protects our patients and offers us fair working conditions and upholds our work as a profession. Our contract is upheld by nurses working in other facilities as a Gold Standard. What is happening now, as we are negotiating our contract is unprecedented. Never, in almost 30 years have I experienced what we are now going through. We are asking for language in the contract for better murse-patient staffing ratios and it should be noted that California is one of the only states that has a law that mandates nurse-patient ratios to protect the patients. These have already decreased the number of deaths and poor outcomes in the state. We, as CNA members, are only asking that our previous contract be upheld. We are not asking for anything new, not even a cost of living pay raise. We only want NO TAKEAWAYS. -more-


Beware the Hurry to Build at Haste and Telegraph

By Carol Denney
Wednesday October 05, 2011 - 01:43:00 PM

“If people have an exciting idea, certainly we can try and show community support so that we can encourage the property to move forward,” Worthington said. “Having a vacant lot sitting there is costing the city a lot in terms of lost vitality to Telegraph.”

Daily Californian 10-4-2011

This quotation was a prominent part of the most recent story on the vacant lot at the corner of Haste and Telegraph currently being demonized by public officials, press, residents, and students. The latest article in the Daily Californian describes University of California architecture students eagerly offering designs for projects-to-be in an atmosphere of urgency.

The article neglects to mention that the vacant lot at Haste and Telegraph was previously a single room occupancy hotel which provided both retail space and 77 units of crucial low-income housing. The building was the victim of deliberate arson, as the previous residents know who received warning the night before one wing was set ablaze. -more-


How Berkeley Employee Costs Eat Up the Rest of the City's Budget

By David M. Wilson, Berkeley Budget SOS
Tuesday October 04, 2011 - 08:24:00 PM

Berkeley residents are beginning to understand why there is no money for those nasty potholes, decayed play structures, community pools, and safety-net social services. They are also beginning to see cracks in the whole civic structure as the City is forced to cover tens of millions in unfunded pension and infrastructure liabilities. -more-