Planning More of Those Robot Apartments for Berkeley

By Becky O'Malley
Wednesday October 12, 2011 - 02:29:00 PM

Much to my surprise, last week’s New Yorker cover seemed to be devoted to Berkeley’s in-the-works new Downtown Area Plan.

Thanks to sometime Planet contributor Tom Lord, we’ve learned that cover artist Eric Drooker, who lives in downtown Berkeley, seems to have been riffing on an animation he did to go with a film version of Alan Ginzberg’s Howl—the sinister figure at the top of the skyscrapers is Ginzberg’s Moloch:

"Moloch whose Soul is electricity and banks!"
"Moloch whose Poverty is the specter of Genius"
"Moloch whose fate is a cloud of sexless hydrogen"
"Moloch whose name is the Mind. Robot apartments"

Drooker’s visual imagery reprises Fritz Lang's 1927 expressionist film, Metropolis.

Oh sure, you say. Well, I had the misfortune to watch as much as I could stand of yesterday’s city council workshop on “development fees”, and let me tell you, it was all about building robot apartments with souls of electricity and banks. -more-

The Editor's Back Fence

Local Business in the News

Thursday October 13, 2011 - 10:53:00 PM

Richard Brenneman reports on his blog about a local company, Amyris. -more-

Make Your Voice Heard Again in the Sierra Club--Join Now to Vote in December Election

Thursday October 13, 2011 - 03:00:00 PM

Are you one of those Berkeleyans who’d like to say that “the Sierra Club speaks for me?” But perhaps are you a past member who, like David Brower, resigned when the club took a position that you thought was a mistake?

Many of us were disillusioned when the local arm of the Sierra Club allowed its good name to be used by notorious developer Sam Zell’s corporation in Berkeley’s hotly contested and widely criticized Measure R election.

Now’s your chance to try again to set the club on the right path by choosing who will fill the 5 open positions on the Sierra Club S.F. Bay Chapter’s Northern Alameda County (NAC) Group Executive Committee—but you have to act now.

According to the organization’s web site, Oct. 15 is the date by which you need to be a member in the club’s database to vote in the election. -more-

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-


Cartoon Page: BOUNCE:

By Joseph Young
Wednesday October 12, 2011 - 02:24:00 PM

Cartoon Page: Odd Bodkins: Perfect Happiness

Dan O'Neill
Wednesday October 12, 2011 - 02:08:00 PM

Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

Thursday October 13, 2011 - 01:07:00 PM

Rossmann Piece on Skinner/Hancock Bad Votes; Tax the Rich Demo, Monday, 5:30pm -more-

Letters to the Editor

Wednesday October 12, 2011 - 03:34:00 PM

Each day I wait to see relief on the faces of people who are hoping to get their needs for survival met by other kind people but at the end of the day most of them are still desperate and depressed. I always thought life is lived now first and that today's needs are more important than needs of the unseen tomorrow. Our readers of the U.S. Constitution remind us of the unseen tomorrow by ignoring today for the one-third of the U.S. that lives in poverty. Ask those about tomorrow whose child went to sleep without food. Ask those about tomorrow whose child is undernourished and sick. Will the child keep alive without help until tomorrow? Well, the wearer knows where the shoe pinches. People who sit in Congress or govern the country may not have ever missed a meal in their lives. They may never have gaped in bewilderment at the sky. -more-

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: 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-

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-

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-