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Berkeley City Officials Push UC to Choose West Berkeley for New LBNL Site--
With No Public Review(News Analysis)

By Zelda Bronstein
Tuesday October 18, 2011 - 09:13:00 AM

Mayor Bates and his allies like to gripe about public process in Berkeley, complaining that an inordinate amount of citizen participation results in costly and unnecessary delays. But a striking aspect of our current civic affairs is the lack, if not total absence, of public process with respect to some of the biggest issues in town.

The problem of City employees’ budget-busting benefits, for example, was last agendaized, as they say in City Hall, at the council’s meeting on January 18, 2011 . The plan to spend $1.4 million to renovate the West Campus cafeteria into a meeting space for the council has never appeared on the public agenda of the council or any City commission.

Neither has the distinct possibility that Berkeley will house the second campus of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

The second LBNL campus is a very big deal. The first phase will involve 480,000 square feet of development; the second will bring that figure up to two million. Square feet aside, the presence of the second lab will raise land values and boost the “innovation” quotient of whatever place it occupies.

Twenty-three applicants responded to the RFQ that was issued in January 2011. Six made it to the final round.

One, from Wareham Development, would situate the new facility partly in Berkeley and partly in Emeryville, wholly in Berkeley or wholly in Emeryville . A second, from The Stronach Group, would locate it on the current site of Golden Gate Fields racetrack (owned by the Group), which is partly in Berkeley and partly in Albany . A third, from the Goldin brothers and the Jones family, would put the new campus alongside Berkeley's Aquatic Park . The other three possible sites are in Alameda (the former Naval Station), Oakland (the Estuary) and Richmond (the University of California Field Station).

Wherever it goes, the project will have an immense impact on the surrounding community. Accordingly, the second LBNL campus has been publicly vetted by every prospective host city—except Berkeley. 

I recently emailed Berkeley’s Public Information Officer Mary Kay Clunies-Ross asking why the project had never appeared on a council agenda. She emailed back that since the council sets its own agenda, she couldn’t answer the question “definitively” and then added that what she’s told other reporters is that “unlike the sites in the other cities, the Berkeley sites are all privately owned.” In a subsequent email, Bates’ Chief of Staff Julie Sinai elaborated on Clunies-Ross’s point. “None of the Berkeley sites are on property owned or controlled by the City of Berkeley and no development proposal has been put forward to the City for approval,” Sinai wrote. “If one of the three Berkeley sites is selected, City staff and the Council will assess what Council action may be needed to address the development proposal and its impacts.” 

This, then, is the party line. As per Sinai’s reply, the second campus is presumed to be a matter that concerns only City officials. Only council approval matters; no need to solicit the views of Berkeley citizens. 

Indeed, despite the fact that the second campus has never been publicly deliberated by the council, last summer Councilmember Darryl Moore and top Berkeley staff spoke glowingly of the Lab, the project and our city’s amenities at the LBNL-sponsored community meetings about the Emeryville/Berkeley and Aquatic Park sites. In a video played at those meetings as well as at the one about the Golden Gate Fields venue, Mayor Bates and Councilmember Linda Maio followed suit. Moore and Office of Economic Development Director Michael Caplan actually appear in the video promoting the Aquatic Park proposal. Given the Bates administration’s hostility to citizen participation, this chutzpah is hardly surprising. 

But the rationale about private property not coming under the council’s aegis, offered by both Sinai and Clunies-Ross, is bizarre even for the Bates regime. The City’s Zoning Ordinance is all about private property. It’s public property—most notably, the UC campus—that lies outside the City’s control. 

Every case brought before the Zoning Appeals Board, and, if the ZAB’s decision is appealed, before the Council, concerns private property. The fact that Golden Gate Fields is privately owned hasn’t stopped Albany from sponsoring an extensive public process about the The Stronach Group’s proposal for that site. 

Left in the dark by their own city’s officials, Berkeley citizens have had to scrounge information about the second LBNL campus from a hodgepodge of sources: a meeting of the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce ; a poll administered over the phone last December ; the LBNL Second Campus website, which features full-length videos of the six community meetings from last summer ; the website of the City of Albany’s Voices to Vision 2 public process, which deals with the future of that city’s waterfront ; the Albany Patch

As the foregoing list suggests, there’s more information available about the Golden Gate Fields proposal than the plans for the other two Berkeley locations. That’s partly because the disposition of the Albany waterfront is a highly (if not the most) controversial issue in that city. 

In 2006 Albanians bitterly quarreled over a proposal by the racetrack owner to build a mall and a casino at the site. The proposal for the second LBNL campus has also divided the citizenry and elicited stiff opposition from the Sierra Club, which objects to the proposed urbanization of open space. But the challenges aren’t just coming from environmentalists. 

The racetrack is a major source of revenue for the small city of Albany, generating $1.4 million a year in taxes. If the racetrack is replaced by the Lab, and the property remains in private hands, the site will continue to generate property tax, but the parcel tax that supports Albany schools will be lost. That prospect is a dealbreaker for Albany officials and residents. Local divisiveness could well diminish the chances that the site will be selected by the Lab, since one criterion for the location of the second campus is “a welcoming community.” 

With that criterion in mind, the Golden Gate Fields Development Team is aggressively courting residents of both Albany and Berkeley. Responding to complaints from Albany citizens, as well as demands from the Lab, it has revised its initial plan. 

The latest iteration includes a 12-story hotel to be built on the northern (Albany) portion of the site its function is to replenish the tax revenue lost from the racetrack. Phase 2 includes a second hotel to be built on the southern (Berkeley) portion. The developers have also rearranged buildings in an effort to provide more open space. 

These changes and others can be viewed and discussed with the developers at open houses at the racetrack scheduled for October 17, October 24 and November 1 from 4 to 7 pm. 

But The Stronach Group is also resorting to less transparent means of persuasion. On September 30, I was surveyed over the phone about my opinion of the Golden Gate Fields proposal, the Lab, the decision-making process for the second campus and Berkeley government and officials. 

This was a push poll, and a very pushy one at that. The questioner posed many hypotheticals—if you knew that the Golden Gate Fields proposal was designed by the same green architects who did the Academy of Science, or that this project would unpave one of the largest parking lots in Alameda County and so forth, how would you rate this proposal? 

At the end, I was asked if I wanted to change my mind about anything (I did not). I was also asked, who should finally decide? An appointed task force, the Berkeley City Council, or a vote of the people? I chose the third option. 

Last Friday I spoke to the head of the Golden Gate Fields team, Wei Chiu of Newell Real Estate Advisors in Palo Alto. I asked him if his group had sponsored the poll. He said it had, that the survey itself had been formulated and administered by Next Generation, and that the results were “overall very positive.” He also confirmed that The Stronach Group plans to run ballot initiatives in Albany and Berkeley in June, aiming to demonstrate citizen support for the project. When I noted that the Lab is supposed to make its final decision in late November, Chiu said that date “was only a guideline, not a hard date,” adding that the Lab keeps changing its deadlines. His hope is that LBNL “will reduce the group of six to a lesser number and delay the final decision.” 

Rumor has it that Tom Bates and Loni Hancock favor the Golden Gate Fields site. The September phone survey implied that the site’s leading rivals are the Wareham proposal for Berkeley and/or Emeryville, and the Richmond proposal. Wareham already houses some of the facilities that are going to be consolidated in the second campus, meaning, its supporters argue, that locating the campus there would save money and time. But the land in Richmond, the 90-acre Richmond Field Station, is owned by UC, meaning the Lab would have more control of its future there than in a place where it was a tenant, and that the project wouldn’t result in any loss of tax revenue. 

The RFQ bluntly states that “RFS by and large meets the parameters of the Site Attributes,” and that “Respondents to this RFQ should know that the University may choose to site the second campus at RFS and will be evaluating potential sites relative to their ability to better meet the needs of the University [which administers the Lab] and the DOE (which owns it). With regard to at least one of those attributes—proximity to the existing LBNL, Richmond is however less appealing than the Berkeley, Emeryville or Albany venues. 

Whether the Lab sticks to its November date for a final decision or extends the selection process, Berkeley officials need to get out of the backroom (and the film studio) and start providing their constituents—that means Berkeley citizens, not the developers, the Lab or the University—with an opportunity to find out what’s going on with the second campus and to tell their elected representatives, in mayoral Chief of Staff Sinai’s words, “what Council action may be needed to address the development proposal and its impacts.”

Inside "Occupy Berkeley"—A Week in the Life of a Nascent Revolution

by Ted Friedman
Monday October 17, 2011 - 11:06:00 AM
Last week and days before she resigned, Sistah, fires up the "general assembly--at Occupy Berkeley
Ted Friedman
Last week and days before she resigned, Sistah, fires up the "general assembly--at Occupy Berkeley
From left, Miles, with notes, John, Bo-Peter, Rachel co-facilitating last week at BA Plaza
Ted Friedman
From left, Miles, with notes, John, Bo-Peter, Rachel co-facilitating last week at BA Plaza
Last week, when Michael Delacour, center, arm raised, was not yet disaffected with Occupy Berkeley
Ted Friedman
Last week, when Michael Delacour, center, arm raised, was not yet disaffected with Occupy Berkeley

The first thing some protesters experience is demo-paranoia.

Paranoia shone its bloodshot eyes early—on all factions among the protesters.

Some of the paranoia: fear that the occupy movement is a sting operation to identify America's most dangerous radicals and charge them as terrorists: fear of provocateurs and obstructionists; fear of being co-opted by larger movements; fear of politicians, fear of reporters and photographers; fears that unauthorized flyers and buttons would not benefit the protest; and the fear that someone would steal the donations that support the protest.

Saturday, I investigated a suspicious police training in a large building (the old U.C. Press Building), at Oxford and Center. Signs in the lobby touted police trainings, and an FBI Van was parked out front, less than a half block from Saturday's protest. 

As I peered through the window, someone stepped outside and asked if I had any questions, although he was the one with a question: Who are you? 

I told him the rumors about police trainings being a cover for a surveillance operation. His answer—that the event had been planned for three months— sent me packing. 

But if this was a thoughtful government surveillance, wouldn't "they" have known the protest's plans for months? In fact Berkeley activists seemed to have been openly working up to a major protest for months. Saturday night, a vehicle with four policemen parked the wrong way on Center, across from the new occupying encampment, gawked for a while and left. 

Reportedly, the squad car's identification insignia had been taped-over, and carried four uniformed Berkeley police, possibly fresh from their training at the press building. 

We're taking paranoia seriously. 

But it wasn't threats from without, which marked the first week, but threats from within. 

Some protesters quickly adopted protest protocols that came by way of Spain and Manhattan, while others struggled. 

"Mike check" is a call and response technique which requires speakers to craft brief sound-bytes that are then repeated by the audience. Mike check was necessary in Manhattan where mikes were banned. Not everyone could adapt to the unfamiliar format. Some called it programmed, "robotic," or just weird. The term "manchurian candidate," was heard. Indeed some of the statements and proclamations sounded canned. 

Attempts were made to introduce the more familiar Roberts Rules of Order, a staple of PTAs, fraternal organizations, and unions, but this failed. Still, "point of order," dies hard. Some facilitators have allowed it. 

Occupiers prefer hand signals to Roberts. For opposing, you cross your hands at the wrist at chest-level. 

Some of the facilitators have said they are impatient with rambling speeches. Friday, a protester called "Propeller Head" (propeller on a bike helmet) was warned that he was disrupting when he vowed to "block everything," in protest against the process. 

A discussion on whether a vendor could sell his own Occupy Berkeley buttons took more than fifteen minutes. Often a proposal that was "passed," in one meeting is not enforced the next night. A thirty minute discussion over right to photograph was passed, but not enforced the next night. 

Then there was an ideological rift when Michael Delacour saw his Berkeley demonstration—launched from the People's Park stage—grabbed from him by mesmerizing Cal students that he thought he was recruiting. Apparently the students were recruiting him. 

The Delacour embroilment came to a head at Friday's general assembly, the night before Saturday’s major rally and march downtown. Delacour proposed a general strike to shut down the nation's workforce and infrastructure. When there were no pros and several cons, Mike left angrily with the mike. It was his equipment. 

He returned the equipment the next day in time for the keynote speaker to spark off the march downtown. 

In a fiery resignation, Friday, "Sistah," one of the most inspirational speakers in the GA (if only she didn't repeat herself), characterized Occupy as "deceptive, inexperienced or arrogant at best, or simply dangerous in that it puts too many vulnerable people at risk…." 

Before splitting, she charged that the protest was dominated by Adbuster's magazine, a 

120,00-circulation Canadian magazine with more than half its readers in the U.S. Sistah's charge was fueled by the key role in the protest -someone described in Adbusters \ast year as "a Contributing Editor at Adbusters and an independent activist. He lives in Berkeley and is writing a book about the future of activism." 

This Berkeley "independent activist" recently spawned an anti-corporatist movement that launched from lower Manhattan in September to spread throughout the world. 

The independent activist and writer does not want to be named, but anyone can find him hiding in their computers. The Adbusters activist has made several low-key visits to Occupy Berkeley, and has gone out of his way to be just another protester. While in attendance, he always seems to be enjoying himself. 

This editor's publicity-shy attitude may come from yet another paranoia—that some popular figure will hijack the protest. Participants you could swear were leading want to be called facilitators. The facilitators' committee is open to the public and anyone—with a little training provided by the committee—can facilitate. So everyone leads. 

All week we were asking "How Berkeley is Occupy Berkeley?" when the franchise turns out to have been inspired by a Berkeley resident (newbie) and his Adbuster colleagues. How Berkeley is that? 

Or is the "independent activist," just another outside agitator like Benjamin, who is accused of being one in "The Graduate?" 

If you launch an international protest from Berkeley that will get you into the history books, you should get credit whether you want it or not. And maybe Berkeley will get its own credit, yet. 


Ted Friedman, Off-beat South side reporter for the Planet, is again off-beat. Michael M. 

contributed. Friedman's six-part protest series (daily coverage) ran last week.

The Unfinished Legacy of 2010: How a massive Democratic voter cop-out in last year’s elections put the reactionary right in the driver’s seat (News Analysis)

By Frank Viviano (New America Media)
Tuesday October 18, 2011 - 10:23:00 AM

Take a close and objective look at the angry demonstrators now gathered on Wall Street, and at similar protest encampments burgeoning from San Francisco to Madrid. What you see is not simply a vast expression of rage at the crisis enveloping the world of democracy.

The demonstrations also frame a fundamental contradiction – a profound source of strength that has been transformed into a disabling weakness.

They deserve enormous credit for drawing a global spotlight to the perpetrators of that crisis: a sinister cabal of financial scamsters and rightwing politicians, backed by the dubiously “grass-roots” electorate of the Tea Party. What almost no one, on the right or left alike, wants to talk about is that the cabal was empowered by the very people who are now denouncing it.

Progressives, out of a mixture of political correctness and embarrassment, carefully avoid the subject. The Republicans are delighted at the silence, because it masks what should be fatal weaknesses in their own position.

It may not be pleasant to hear, but a massive Democratic voter cop-out in last year’s elections is what put the reactionary right in the driver’s seat, creating the disastrous logjam in Congress, and bringing to a dead halt the hyper-active first two years of the Obama Administration. 

Cop-out at the Polls 

In 2008, more than 65 million Americans cast Democratic votes in Congressional races, a 13 million-vote edge over the Republicans. In 2010, the Democratic vote plummeted to an abysmal 35 million, 6 million less than the G.O.P., which took decisive power in the House and paralyzed the Senate. 

We think we know this story. But the truth is, we haven’t begun to absorb its full details and implications yet: 

The number of voters under 24 who bothered to go to the polls in 2010 dropped by a stupefying 60 percent, and those between 24 and 29 by almost 50 percent. Altogether, the participation of young people – who had been overwhelmingly pro-Obama in 2008– declined by 11 million votes. Among over-65-year-olds, the core of the Tea Party Movement, the voting numbers barely changed, from 17.6 million in 2008 to 17.5 million in 2010. The African-American vote fell by 40 percent, and the Hispanic vote by almost 30 percent. Among the mostly white voters who earn more than $200,000 per year, the turnout fell by a scant 5 percent, from 7 million to 6.5 million. Voting by those with annual incomes under $30,000 dropped by 33 percent, more than six times the figure for the affluent. 

In effect, the abstainers turned a potential Democratic landslide into a full-scale collapse – with nightmarish consequences for civil rights, for the U.S. and world economies, and for social programs that range across the board from health care and educational funding to employment programs, pension benefits and the sagging national infrastructure. 

It was a dream come true for the radical right, the sworn enemies of all public services. Their vote, measured at exit polls asking whether government was too intrusive, scarcely changed between the two elections, dropping from 50 million to 47 million. 

At the same time, the number of voters believing that government should do more for its citizens – the central plank of the progressive platform – sunk from 60 million to 32 million, a staggering 47 percent slide. 

These are astronomical, game-changing numbers. It makes no sense to argue that the Democratic voting collapse was a matter of demoralization. Decisions on whether to go to the polls were made by the early autumn of 2010, just 20 months into an Obama Administration that had pushed through what many analysts regard as the most ambitious legislative agenda in modern U.S. history. 

Half a century ago, Martin Luther King and Cesar Chavez understood that genuine change could only be achieved through long term, patient struggle – and that the prize, in King’s famous words, was full access to the nation’s key institutions, notably the ballot box and the governing seats it fills. 

The leaders and foot soldiers of the Civil Rights Era fought with unflagging commitment, and King himself was martyred, in a two-decade campaign for the voting privileges that 2010 abstainers dismissed as unworthy of an hour’s time on a single Tuesday in November. The Wall Street demonstrators are now debating an even broader boycott of the 2012 presidential election. 

Yet if two-thirds of the 28 million progressive stay-at-homes had gone to the polls last year, the U.S. Congress today would be in the hands of a solid Democratic majority beholden to liberal votes. 

The Republicans’ Best Hope 

The nation’s key institutions stand at a momentous crossroads, ripe for fresh ideas and energy. 

But in response, the anthem so far is nebulous anti-institutionalism, a “leaderless resistance movement,” as the Occupy Wall Street web site proudly boasts, without defined structure or goals. “It’s not any more about parties, organizations or unions,” declares the manifesto of its Spanish counterpart, the International Commission of Sol, which also calls for mass abstention from voting. 

Visceral impatience is endemic today, especially where the young are concerned. The Internet Age, with its virtual substitutes for the real thing -- for tangible community, for productive struggle – promises to deliver on every desire, easily and instantly. Just twitter a crowd into the streets, and the rest will fall into place. But the hard truth is that it takes far more than that. Ask the Iranians, the Tunisians and Egyptians, who are invariably cited as models by the Spanish and American protestors. 

Neither easy nor instant solutions are possible when a society faces the challenges that greeted the incoming Obama Administration in January of 2009. The nation’s first African-American president took office amidst two unwinnable and unfunded wars and a global economic crash unparalleled since the Great Depression. He was confronted by a rabid political opposition that challenged the new president’s very right to govern on trumped-up charges that he is not certifiably “American,” when their transparent subtext was that he is not white. 

As much as anything else, Barack Obama’s ascent to the presidency was about the slow work of acquiring power and responsibility in the machinery of representative government. So too were the many milestones that preceded his victory: the 1954 Supreme Court ruling that dismantled segregated schools; the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prohibited discrimination based on race, color, religion or national origin; its elaboration in 1965 with a Voting Rights Act that removed the last obstacles to the polls, and a presidential executive order enforcing affirmative action guidelines. 

Each of those institutional steps flowed from the pressure exerted by election results, and each of them helped rewrite the terms of national life. Only someone who was not alive in the 1950s, when the struggle began in earnest, could maintain that nothing important has changed in the United States since then. 

It is far more accurate to say that almost everything has changed – which is what terrifies the conservative right. They recognize that the institutions of representative democracy are expressions of collective interest, and that the crucial vectors of population and age are aligned against them. 

Their sole hope for turning back the clock lies in a new majority that doesn’t bother to vote.

One Fountain, One Hundred Years: The Circle Has a Centennial Party

By Steven Finacom
Tuesday October 18, 2011 - 09:05:00 AM
The Circle bear cubs wore party hats in honor of the fountain centennial celebrated Sunday, October 16, 2011.
Steven Finacom
The Circle bear cubs wore party hats in honor of the fountain centennial celebrated Sunday, October 16, 2011.
Volunteer Sarah Hughes and Councilmember Laurie Capitelli led the birthday celebration.
Steven Finacom
Volunteer Sarah Hughes and Councilmember Laurie Capitelli led the birthday celebration.
A crowd of hundreds assembled for the event.
Steven Finacom
A crowd of hundreds assembled for the event.
Pool wading and picture taking was a popular activity.
Steven Finacom
Pool wading and picture taking was a popular activity.
Former Mayor Shirley Dean wore a hat that belonged to the aunt of her husband, Dan Dean, and had been worn at the 1911 dedication of the Fountain.
Steven Finacom
Former Mayor Shirley Dean wore a hat that belonged to the aunt of her husband, Dan Dean, and had been worn at the 1911 dedication of the Fountain.
John Aronovici from the Berkeley Historical Society shared Northbrae history with neighbors.
Steven Finacom
John Aronovici from the Berkeley Historical Society shared Northbrae history with neighbors.
Music, and relaxing on the grass, accompanied Centennial event.
Steven Finacom
Music, and relaxing on the grass, accompanied Centennial event.
Only a few attendees seemed bored by the festivities.
Steven Finacom
Only a few attendees seemed bored by the festivities.

The splendid and beloved bear cub fountain in the Circle on Berkeley’s Marin Avenue had a one-hundredth birthday celebration on Sunday, October 16, 2011.

More than 300 people crowded temporarily closed Mendocino Avenue and Los Angeles Avenue northwest of the busy traffic hub to congratulate volunteers, applaud the revived civic amenity, and raise funds for adjacent restoration. 

The physical fountain itself is the second on the site, a replica installed with a huge community re-dedication in 1996 at which civic and community representatives ceremonially christened the new fountain with ewers of water from various local sources—the Bay, Strawberry Creek, Codornices Creek—along with champagne. 

The Sunday event memorialized the one-hundredth anniversary of the original fountain installation and celebrated the community volunteers who keep the Circle clean and landscaped. It also featured an appeal for funds to help finish the restoration of the deteriorated balustrades that line Fountain Walk as it descends from the Circle to Henry Street at the mouth of the Solano Tunnel. 

“There is a bit of a back story about this celebration”, chief volunteer Sara Holmes told the crowd. She said Scott Dunlap who offered to donate icicle lights to decorate the Circle for the holidays had approached her. When they talked, he asked her what was being done to celebrate the Fountain centennial this year, and thus the event was born. 

Holmes said she had knocked on many neighborhood doors to publicize the Centennial and “I was really moved by how the community feels this fountain is theirs. I realize that you think it is your fountain, and I love that.” 

“I just want everyone to know that when I’m feeling a little blue and need a little lift, I always drive out of my way and drive around the Fountain,” said Councilmember Susan Wengraf. “It’s just the most amazing civic project.”  

Wengraf read a City proclamation in honor of the Centennial, and various volunteers were acknowledged, as well as businesses that had donated refreshments.  

“I’m the lucky guy who gets to represent this district” on the City Council, said Councilmember Laurie Capitelli. He rhapsodized about Northbrae, where he moved in 1972 (paying only $32,000 for his home, he confessed to the crowd). He listed the amenities of the neighborhood, including its library, public swimming pool, numerous parks and green spaces, specialty shopping districts, and “the wonderful architecture we get to look at”. 

“I think all the neighborhoods of Berkeley have great character and really do great things”, he added. 

Bill Anderson, representing the American Planning Association, spoke about how that organization had declared Northbrae one of the best neighborhoods in the country and said Berkeley was a leader in planning. “There are parts of the country right now where planning is being attacked”, he warned. 

Volunteers from Friends of the Fountain and Walk, the official non-profit group that was originally created to rebuild the Fountain, did a brisk business along the sidelines of the crowd selling commemorative items including photographs and note cards. Several historic displays were set up.  

The event speakers urged the crowd to donate to help support the balustrade restoration. Capitelli said that two individuals had pledged $500 gifts each, if the crowd would donate $1,000 that day. 

The original fountain was destroyed in the 1950s by a runaway vehicle and, for four decades, the Circle was empty of anything except some low landscaping.  

In the early 1990s, a major community effort initiated and led by neighbors (some of whose homes looked out on the Circle) including Linda Perry, Gail Keleman, Emmy Sorter, and Phil O’Hay, raised the funds to re-build the fountain. The three-year campaign collected over $100,000 for the project from more than 1,200 individuals. 

Architect Robert Ludlow designed the replica fountain, using early photographs and drawings. Artist Sarita Camille Waite sculpted replicas of the original Arthur Putnam bear cubs that still give the fountain both a classical and humorous character. 

For the Centennial, the cubs were bedecked with party hats and necklaces of gold stars.  

Although the current bear cubs are only 15, at least one authentic century-old artifact was present at the Centennial celebration. Atop the head of former Berkeley Mayor Shirley Dean was a flower-bedecked hat that had belonged to the aunt of her husband, Dan Dean. The hat was worn by the aunt at the 1911 dedication of the original fountain, and by Mayor Dean at the 1996 re-dedication. 

There were several other civic dignitaries at the occasion including Councilmember Linda Maio, former Councilmember Betty Olds, and city staff. 

The sky still glowered with gray overcast when the festivities started (in 1996 it had rained on the re-dedication), but by the time the ceremonies ended the late afternoon sun was out and sparkling through the water of the fountain. 

To celebrate the occasion, many of the event attendees braved traffic to cross to the lawn around the fountain and have their pictures taken there. Children splashed in the fountain water. Some locals observed that if you come back at night you might see dogs, raccoons, and the occasional skunk cavorting there as well. 

If you are looking for more information, or how to donate, the Friends of the Fountain and Walk website is here: 


It contains photographs, and descriptions of the 1996 dedication, as well as links to numerous articles about the Fountain and Circle. 

(Steven Finacom is the President of the Berkeley Historical Society and a frequent contributor to the Planet. He wrote a poem for the Fountain restoration and read it at the 1996 re-dedication.)

Add Your Opinion to the Downtown Berkeley Perceptions Survey

By Deborah Badhia, DBA
Tuesday October 18, 2011 - 11:32:00 AM

The Downtown Berkeley Association (DBA) is in the process of developing a Strategic Marketing Plan for Downtown Berkeley. This survey is part of the rollout of our Property-Based Business Improvement District (PBID) in 2012.

As part of that strategic marketing process, we are looking to get input from a broad range of Berkeleyans and Bay Area residents. We'd like to know why they come--or do not come--to Downtown Berkeley, and what kind of improvements they would like to see in the future.
We are looking to get responses this week, and no later than Monday, October 24th:

Remembering the Firestorm (First Person)

By Dorothy Snodgrass
Tuesday October 18, 2011 - 11:52:00 AM

I shall never forget October 19, 1991, the day of the Oakland Hills Firestorm. From my sixth floor window looking out on the east bay hills, I saw one house after the other go up in flames. At the same time, I could also watch this devastation on my television, a rather surrealistic touch. I stayed glued to my window most of that day. 

The fire started Saturday from a grass fire in the Berkeley Hills and raged for nearly 72 hours, killing 25 people, and injuring 150. The 1,520 acres destroyed included 3,354 single family dwellings 437 apartments and condominiums. The loss was estimated at $1.5 billion. As many as 400 engine companies and 1500 personnel worked to put out the fire. The firestorm threatened the historic Claremont Hotel, but was stopped before it reached the hotel. By Wednesday, October 23rd, the fire was declared under control, almost 72 hours after it started. At the fire's peak, it destroyed one home every 11 seconds and had spread to the nearby Parkwood Apartments, Hiller Highlands, Montclair and upper Rockridge. (Those hot, dry winds were dubbed "Diablo Winds.") 

Several of my friends were affected by the fire. One called me from Minden, Nevada, frantic to check on her family's handsome home on Claremont Boulevard. I was able to assure her that it was intact. Another friend, attending a Sunday matinee at the S.F. Opera House, was greeted by her son on a motorcycle, with the sad news that she probably had lost her home, a short distance from the Claremont Hotel. Happily her house was spared, but not those of neighbors and she found it heartbreaking to be the only survivor on her block. An elderly friend lost her home on upper Ocean Avenue and a Julie Morgan building was destroyed. My dentist, living in Hiller Highlands, saw his house demolished. And a U.C. professor on Alvarado Road suffered the loss of his home. 

Richard Misrach, a local photographer, has taken haunting images of the Oakland Firestorm. His photography exhibit, as shown on p. D1 of the October 13th Oakland Tribune, can be viewed at the U.C. Art Museum and the Oakland Museum through February. 

While it's inevitable that October brings with it hot, dry winds, I pray to the Almighty that we're spared the traumatic experience of another Fire Storm!

Fire This Morning at Berkeley Iceland: A Neighbor's Reaction

By Jane Stillwater
Monday October 17, 2011 - 04:41:00 PM

There were at least six fire trucks clustered outside of Berkeley's Iceland on Milvia Street at 6:00 am this morning. What caused the fire and how much damage did it do? I asked around. "The building itself is basically indestructible," commented one bystander who appeared to have insider knowledge regarding Iceland, "so no basic damage was done. However, some rubber mats were set on fire and so the smell of burning rubber has permeated the building." 

"Do you know what caused the fire?" I asked. 

"Sure there was some sort of homeless encampment inside and apparently one of the homeless got careless with matches." I was surprised. It seems like breaking into Iceland would be a daunting task. "Actually, it is," the bystander replied, "but somehow they manage to do it anyway. There have been homeless people living inside of Iceland for at least the last four and a half years." 

After the fire trucks had gone, I peeked into one of the graffiti-smeared front windows and saw immediately that the bystander had been right. There was garbage and junk strewn around everywhere. The place looked like it had been hit by a small tornado. 

Because I live just across the street from Iceland, at Savo Island Cooperative Homes, the thought of having Iceland continue to remain vacant indefinitely worries me very much because our own housing property, which is not made out of concrete like Iceland, is very vulnerable to fires. 

"Sports Basement is trying to get permits to build a store here," continued the bystander, "and I think they will be a good neighbor, and will offer lots of interesting classes to the community as well as just selling sports equipment." Plus I have heard that "Save Berkeley Iceland" is also trying to re-open the place as a skating rink. 

As a resident living in direct proximity to Iceland, however, frankly I don't care who opens it again or who takes it over. I just want it to stop being an empty hazardous eyesore.

Hikers Freed in Iran to Speak Tonight at Occupy Oakland

By Dan McMenamin (BCN)
Monday October 17, 2011 - 04:37:00 PM

The three University of California at Berkeley graduates who were imprisoned in Iran on espionage charges are expected to attend an "Occupy Oakland" rally this evening. 

Sarah Shourd, Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal are expected to speak at 5 p.m. at the amphitheater on the north side of 14th Street just west of Broadway, where Occupy Oakland demonstrators have been holding general assemblies since last week in solidarity with New York's "Occupy Wall Street" protests. 

Shourd, 33, and Bauer and Fattal, both 29, were arrested on July 31, 2009, after embarking on a hike in Iraq's Kurdistan region near the Iranian border. Iran accused the trio of espionage but released Shourd in September 2010 because she was in poor health. 

Bauer and Fattal were sentenced in August to eight years in prison, but were released on Sept. 21 following negotiations spearheaded by Oman. 

According to the Occupy Oakland website, the three hikers will talk about the connections that can be drawn between what they went through in Iran and the situation in U.S. prisons, as well as the hunger strikes taking place in California prisons. 

The website states that this will be the first time the three will be speaking together publicly since their release. 

Across the Bay, protesters in San Francisco plan to take action today with a march that will start at 5 p.m. at Justin Herman Plaza. 

The group's website, www.occupysf.com, says the march is "for basic human rights." 

The site states, "With many basic human needs and rights not being met its (sic) time for the people to take back what is rightfully theirs." 

The march comes after a violent Sunday night in which San Francisco police fitted in riot gear arrested five protesters who had set up tents in Justin Herman Plaza. 

Police told the demonstrators that city laws prevented encampment there. When protesters refused to remove the tents, officers removed them and placed them into Department of Public Works trucks and vans. 

Four protesters were arrested for in the roadway illegally and resisting arrest, while the fifth was arrested for battery on a police officer, police said. 

San Francisco Board of Supervisors President and mayoral candidate David Chiu released a statement about the confrontation, saying "Both the Occupy SF protesters and the San Francisco Police Department need to redouble their efforts to avoid confrontations like the ones we saw last night." 

Chiu said, "As long as the Occupy SF protesters are obeying the law, the city should respect their rights of peaceful assembly and free speech." 

The anti-Wall Street protests that started in New York City in September have spread nationwide, with other Bay Area Occupy groups gathering in Berkeley, Richmond, Walnut Creek, Santa Rosa, San Rafael and other cities. 

The groups cite an economic disparity between the richest 1 percent of the population and the remaining 99 percent, and are calling for increased regulation of banks and Wall Street investment firms, among other changes.

Occupy Berkeley: The Video

By Paul Kealoha Blake
Sunday October 16, 2011 - 09:49:00 PM

Scenes from Saturday's march in downtown Berkeley: 

We Too. Berkeley Piles onto International $$$ Protests

By Ted Friedman
Saturday October 15, 2011 - 10:53:00 PM
John, a facilitator, gives rousing call to action Saturday before Occupy Berkeley marches to Civic Center Park
Ted Friedman
John, a facilitator, gives rousing call to action Saturday before Occupy Berkeley marches to Civic Center Park
Occupy Berkeley returns from Civic Center (Provo) Park to Bank of America Civic Plaza
Ted Friedman
Occupy Berkeley returns from Civic Center (Provo) Park to Bank of America Civic Plaza
Divinity students from Graduate Theological Union add a moral element to Saturday's Occupy Berkeley rally and march
Ted Friedman
Divinity students from Graduate Theological Union add a moral element to Saturday's Occupy Berkeley rally and march
Occupy Berkeley arrives in Provo Park facing Old City Hall. Overnight encampment will move from Bank of America Plaza to park to accomodate an anticipated swelling in the ranks as movement grows
Ted Friedman
Occupy Berkeley arrives in Provo Park facing Old City Hall. Overnight encampment will move from Bank of America Plaza to park to accomodate an anticipated swelling in the ranks as movement grows

Piling onto the international movement against alleged financial oppression proved irresistible to more than 200 Berkeleyans Saturday, as they joined fellow protesters from New Zealand, Alaska, London, Frankfurt, Washington, New York, and even timid Tokyo in an international day of rage against financial institutions.

Sometimes it's not all about Berkeley and this was a day for international solidarity. 

Chanting such slogans as, "life's a bitch, tax the rich," and (to onlookers and passing cars), "you are the ninety-nine percent," the group responded to a rallying speech by John, a facilitator, by marching to Martin Luther King Civic Center Park and back to Bank America Plaza on Shattuck. 

[This park is known to Berkeley old timers as Provo Park, informally re-named in the 1960s for “a Dutch counterculture movement in the mid-1960s that focused on provoking violent responses from authorities using non-violent bait”, according to Wikipedia.] 

Police were as mellow as the protesters, who the night before had taken a vow of non-violence. No more than four police looked on, although several cops on bikes cruised the event. Keeping out of the streets and skirting the ongoing Berkeley Farmers’ Market, protesters went out of their way to keep it cool. 

Those who had encamped overnight in BA Civic Plaza plan to spend tonight in Provo Park. The move had been discussed last week at "general assembly" planning sessions. The last scheduled event of the day was a gathering across the street from the park, where a previously scheduled concert was taking place, on the steps of Old City Hall at 2:30. 

According to City Councilmember Kriss Worthington, District 7, the city wants to avoid a police crackdown in the park. The city relocated "previous users" of the park to make room for the protesters, according to Worthington. 

March peace monitors had attended a morning "training" by the National Lawyers Guild. 

First stop for Occupy movement movers was Chase, across the street from BA, and then they turned right on Allston to Milvia, where marchers passed the farmers’ market. 

Passing Provo Park across from Old City Hall before turning right on Milvia, marchers headed for University Avenue, as they chanted "whose streets, our streets," and "corporate greed has got to go." 

At University, the protesters chanted their way to Shattuck where they paused to condemn Citibank on their right, passed BA and re-circled their way back to the park via Allston where they briefly convened for more protesting. They re-convened at BA Plaza, returning on Center Street. The mood of the marchers was exuberant. 

Back at BA, the protesters convened their seventh general assembly in as many days—an exercise in consensus politics. Protesters new to Occupy Berkeley were trained in the protocols of a movement general assembly. 

Max Anderson, City Councilmber, District 3, spoke on the contributions of past Berkeley movements to the present one. Later, Anderson had a proposal for the new movement—"that the city move its investments from financial institutions like Chase, Citicorp, and BA to credit unions." 

John, a member of the facilitators’ committee (its members do not use their last names and want to keep the protest leaderless) had earlier acknowledged in his call to march such contributions, saying "let us revive the spirit that once radiated from the streets of Berkeley. A spirit of revolution, a spirit of change, a spirit of activism. 

A spirit that occupied this town and the minds of its citizens, and now has a chance to re-occupy this city." 

Kriss Worthington referred to the young radicals as a "new wave of activism." Acknowledging that Occupy is not just about youth and that grey-beards were also well represented, Worthington added that the movement was not age-based, managing to cover all bases. 

Although the day was devoted to international solidarity against "corporate greed," 

it proved once more that Berkeley has its own voice—a reinvigorated voice. 

We will soon post an inside-story wrap-up of a tumultuous week in the life of a new Berkeley movement. Click back to us for that. 



Ted Friedman has been temporarily re-assigned from South side to downtown, but keeps an eye on his beat. The latest tree-sit (the third) ended Friday at 12:30 p.m. when after several hours of of negotiations, a UCPD officer talked Littlebird out of the tree. More later.

New: Berkeley has Long term Chronic Problems with its Storm Drain System --and Lacks Funds to Fix Them

By Thomas Lord
Saturday October 15, 2011 - 08:48:00 AM

On October 25, the Berkeley City Council will meet in special session to receive the 2011 Watershed Management Plan from the Public Works Department. The full report is available on the City's web site in the agenda for the special session.

The always-evolving report is the city's comprehensive overview of the state of Berkeley's watershed. It explains that "The mission of the Watershed Management Plan (WMP) is to promote a healthier balance between the urban environment and the natural ecosystem, including the San Francisco Bay." The report aims to help guide city efforts to protect water quality, reduce urban flooding, preserve natural waterways and habitat, and re-use rainwater as a resource.

There is much to digest in the weighty report (100 pages plus another 86 pages of appendices). There is far too much to simply summarize here. Nevertheless, we found off the bat a few facts we think our readers will be glad know:

The city's storm drain pipe infrastructure comprises nearly "100 miles of buried pipelines, and their attendant appurtenances."

Much of that infrastructure is "over 80 years old and well past its useful life expectancy.

Under the federal Clean Water Act, the state issues conditional permits to cities that discharge stormwater into the San Francisco Bay. The conditions of Berkeley's Municipal Regional Stormwater permit (MRP) include requirements for new "trash capture" features - designed to prevent trash from reaching the bay - by 2014 (with requirements for further improvements expected subsequently). It is unclear where the money will come from for this, although Berkeley is initially participating in a $5 million dollar pilot study funded by the Federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. This study will cover only a few test-case trash capture devices. The city's experience with these test devices will help determine which technology to commit to across the entire system. 

The MRP notwithstanding, the age of Berkeley's storm drains presents problems all its own. 

One example is the Potter Basin, a watershed that encompasses nearly everything south of University. 

The city's computational model predicts areas of "chronic nuisance flooding" in Potter Basin and these models accord well with experience. The model predicts problem spots already known to exist such as Fulton at Derby, College at Dwight, MLK between Russell and Woolsey, and San Pablo between Ward and Murray. 

The study notes: "Thus 10-year frequency storms in combination with high tides will cause flooding in the Potter watershed [as far upland as Woolsey near Adeline].

The estimated cost to upgrade the decrepit system while installing larger pipes is nearly 53 million dollars - and that's just for the Potter Basin, not all of Berkeley. 

Meanwhile, the Public Works Department's budget is being cut in the face of a projected deficit of $3M to $4M in 2012. 

Apparently the residents of Berkeley have got themselves a serious fixer-upper: lots of historic charm but skyrocketing expenses to keep it from falling apart. 

This piece also appears in The Berkeley Brief, a new print newsletter edited and distributed by the author.

Day 6: Will Saturday's Demo Put Berkeley 0n U.S. Map of Anti-Wall Street Protests?

By Ted Friedman
Friday October 14, 2011 - 01:20:00 PM
John Holzinger, 20, with mike, a facilitator, who later previewed his Saturday speech. "Sister" back to camera was facilitator for the meeting. "Urban strider" to right has been trying to get the occupiers to recognize the rights of indigenous peoples
Ted Friedman
John Holzinger, 20, with mike, a facilitator, who later previewed his Saturday speech. "Sister" back to camera was facilitator for the meeting. "Urban strider" to right has been trying to get the occupiers to recognize the rights of indigenous peoples
Newly appointed treasurer for Occupy Berkeley will secure donations-in-a-jar that are paying the protest's bills. No one has heard from the star hip-hopper who offered to pay for "everything." Perhaps the check is in the mail
Ted Friedman
Newly appointed treasurer for Occupy Berkeley will secure donations-in-a-jar that are paying the protest's bills. No one has heard from the star hip-hopper who offered to pay for "everything." Perhaps the check is in the mail

With anti-Wall Street protests in large cities hogging headlines, will the now tiny "Occupy Berkeley" action bolster Berkeley's radical image—or bury it—as the legendary revolution-to-come happens without a major role for Berkeley? 

After six days of planning meetings (general assemblies), committee and sub-committee meetings—all aiming for a rally and protest Saturday at noon at Bank of America Plaza downtown—Berkeley's role in the national anti-Wall Street movement may sink or swim. 

Channel 2, television, covered last night's planning meeting. Later, two appointees from Occupy Berkeley's communications committee appealed for the support of U.C. Berkeley students at 9:20 p.m. last night on student-run KALX (90.7 F.M.) immediately after the Cal-USC football game. This was a time-slot in which students would have tuned in to get the final score. 

In a genuine example of the participatory democracy for which Occupy Berkeley will be known, John Holzinger, 20, a demo "facilitator" read the "proclamation" he plans to deliver Saturday. He requested, and got, abundant feedback, including a one-minute "evaluation" from a member of Berkeley's Avatar Metaphysical Toastmasters public speaking club. 

And still the route for a planned protest march which will depart from BA Plaza across from the downtown Bart station Saturday has not been finalized. At last night's general assembly (open planning meetings), a participant called out, "We're sick of Telegraph being trashed." 

Discussion last night focused on philosophies of non-violence, peace, and violence, and a proposal to enlist and deploy march monitors (to keep things peaceful) passed, along with an "agreement" that the march would be non-violent. 

"Don't assume police will be violent," a participant advised. 

Whether or not to apply for a march permit stalled when someone pointed out it was too late for that. Another commentator noted, "occupation requires no permit." 

A facilitator, Bo-Peter Laanen, 20, a Cal political science major, announced there would be a "training" with the National Lawyer's Guild to advise protesters before Saturday's march. 

Michael M., who remembers when Berkeleyans were freaks, and throughout six days of meetings has advocated incorporating Berkeley concerns into the Berkeley branch of the national anti-Wall Street movement, suggested that occupiers contact city councilmembers. But a responder said that politicians should be excluded because they would only co-opt the occupation. 

Elizabeth, one of the overnight occupiers at the BA Plaza, reporting from the food committee which is being funded by donations-in-a-bottle on site, said that the bagel's cream cheese and lox from Noah's (discount to the protest) were so good that demonstrators might want to come for the food. 

Early rains forced the general assembly under a tarp two days ago, impinging on an encampment of homeless Berkeleyans, but as spring weather returned and the assembly moved towards the sidewalk, some of the homeless have returned. 

One of the homeless on-lookers, Rene Daugherty, offered this advice to the nascent movement. "Protest is not about getting people to agree, but about getting your ideas across." 

Daugherty attributed this advice to his "friend," Huey P. Newton. 


Ted Friedman has been reassigned to the downtown protest, but is keeping an eye on his South side beat.

Occupy Richmond Launched

By Laura Dixon (BCN)
Friday October 14, 2011 - 11:02:00 AM

The now nationwide Occupy Wall Street movement that has sprung up throughout the Bay Area in recent weeks kicked off in Richmond yesterday afternoon, with the support of city leaders and police.  

About six dozen people gathered in Downtown Richmond late yesterday afternoon to take part in a peaceful, Occupy Wall Street-inspired demonstration, holding signs, chanting and sharing personal stories about the effect corporate America has had on their lives. 

Occupy Richmond organizer Bryan Drayton, owner of nonprofit bicycle organization Richmond Spokes, said today's rally in downtown Richmond -- which could last through Saturday if attendees decide to camp out -- is meant to give Richmond residents a platform to vent their frustrations and discuss constructive plans for the community. 

From 4 p.m. to 5 p.m., about a dozen local residents, including self-described activists and one city council member, took turns at the microphone to voice their grievances against corporate America and the effect it has had on their lives -- from facing foreclosure and mountains of student loan debt to unemployment. 

"Sallie Mae is a gold digger...she's taking all our money, she's keeping us enslaved...and I'm fed up with that," said Jessica Tovar, a Richmond resident who works with a local nonprofit, Communities for a Better Environment.  

Many of those who spoke at the event targeted Chevron, whose corporate offices are located in Richmond.  

"That money doesn't go to the city of Richmond...it's not going to our schools," Tovar said. 

Several people in the crowd, including Richmond City Councilwoman Jovanka Beckles, nodded their heads in agreement as Tovar spoke. 

Beckles also addressed the crowd of demonstrators, and said she was proud of the local event and hopes for an even larger turnout at any future Occupy Richmond rallies. 

"In a community like this that is predominantly black and Latino, we should have more people here," she said. 

Drayton said that he and several other local residents decided to plan the event at the last minute while attending an Occupy Oakland event earlier this week. 

Mayor Gayle McLaughlin also voiced her support for the rally and for the entire Occupy Wall Street movement. 

"It's something we have been promoting in Richmond for a long time," she said. "We've been working to stand against corporate domination, which is why myself and a couple other council members won our elections without taking one penny of corporate donations." 

Richmond police officers were also supportive of the rally, and escorted the group of about three dozen attendees who marched about 15 blocks from 11th Street to Richmond's Civic Center. 

Capt. Mark Gagan said officers monitored the rally to "make sure (attendees) have the ability to assemble peacefully," and would allow participants to camp on city property during the event.

Press Release: 86 Year Old Woman With Dementia Located

From Sgt. Mary Kusmiss, BPD
Friday October 14, 2011 - 09:34:00 AM

A City of Berkeley Police Department (BPD) patrol officer located Mary Souza, the 86 year old woman who had wandered away from her assisted living facility last evening at about 7:00 p.m. The facility is in the 2600 block of Shattuck Avenue. Many members of BPD had been continually searching for her since last night, at one point using the services of the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office (ACSO) Search and Rescue tracking dogs. 

The BPD officer spotted her at 9:35 a.m. this morning (October 14, 2011) at Stanford and San Pablo Avenue, just over the border into the City of Oakland. The officer was able to immediately recognize her from the flyers and photographs that officers had been using as references. Ms. Souza appears unharmed.

Press Release: Community Help Needed to Find 86 Year Old with Dementia (Press Release)

From Sgt. Mary Kusmiss, BPD
Friday October 14, 2011 - 08:15:00 AM

The City of Berkeley Police Department (BPD) needs the community’s help in finding a missing woman, Mary Souza, who is at risk due to age and dementia. 

On Thursday evening, October 13, 2011 at about 8:00 p.m., a staff member from an assisted living facility located in the 2600 block of Shattuck Avenue called BPD to report that one of their residents was missing. The last time staff had seen Mary Souza was approximately 7:00 p.m. Although Ms. Souza uses a walker for mobility assistance, she left it behind and is ambulatory without it. The staff does not believe that Ms. Souza had any money with her when she left. Ms. Souza does know her name and has wandered off before, most recently two months ago during which time she was found in Downtown Berkeley. 

Members of the BPD have been investigating and searching for Mary Souza continuously since she was discovered missing. BPD Officers have searched the sorrounding neighborhoods on foot, gone to her previous address in Oakland, checked local hospitals, Coroner’s office, transit systems and sent Missing Person at Risk Alert fliers and information to all neighboring agencies in addition to contacting those agencies to share this information: 

Missing Person: 

Mary Souza 

Born - October 19, 1924  

White Woman Adult  

5’2” tall, 

120 lbs  

white curly hair  

Possibly wearing a red jacket and black pants. 

BPD has enlisted the help of the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office (ACSO) Search and Rescue Team who has sent six team members including two (2) tracking dogs and handlers to aid in finding Mary Souza. The teams are in the process of tracking in the downtown Berkeley area and the areas around the care facility. If anyone belives they have seen Mary Souza earlier this evening, this morning or spots her, please call BPD immediately at (510)981-5900 and mention the missing Person.

Plans for Berkeley's West Campus to be Presented Tuesday: City Council Chambers, Charter High School, BUSD Offices (News Analysis)

By Kristin Leimkuhler, West Campus Neighbors and Merchants Alliance (WestNEMA)westnema@yahoo.com
Thursday October 13, 2011 - 09:55:00 AM

As currently planned by the City of Berkeley and the Berkeley Unified School District, the neighborhood surrounding the 7.3 acre location on University Avenue, BUSD's "West Campus", will undergo major changes in the next few years. The Berkeley City Council meetings will move to the West Campus site, to be shared with the BUSD administration and the Revolutionary Education and Learning Movement (REALM) charter high school. 

To begin with, the long awaited new School District Administrative Headquarters, located in the 3 story classroom building on Bonar Street is close to accepting its first staff following the winter holidays.

In addition, REALM will be unveiling plans for a high school campus to be located in 2 buildings at the site, and will probably utilize additional classrooms to be located either in the District’s building or in portable structures to be located on the playing field. The school is intended to begin using the facility in the year 2012/13 and is expected to work toward a population of 400 students onsite.

REALM plans on occupying the building that fronts University Avenue, making what is currently the breezeway into a lobby and entrance for the school, and also occupying—in a phased in plan— the old shop building which lies next to the swimming pool. They are currently trying to figure out the lunch time facilities for the students, who are all expected to stay on campus during the entire school day, although it is not intended to be a physically fenced off campus. The existing Cafeteria building is planned to be converted into the new City Hall Chambers (see below). REALM will also be using the Boys Gym, but the non-functional plumbing in there will not be repaired at this time.

Because charter schools do not always succeed, the school district is trying to ensure that the classroom and workspaces being designed could also serve a BUSD program for middle and high schoolers that might emphasize more hands-on learning in afterschool programs. The architects for the REALM project (HMC) along with the project manager from Turner Construction will also be on hand at the Tuesday night Community Meeting. The site Committee currently includes myself and Thomas (TJ) Towey as the community representatives. Darlene Percoats of the Childhood Education Center (preschool located on the site) is also on the Site Committee.

City Council Chambers and School Board Room to move to West Campus Cafeteria!

The most surprising change at this site is the relocation of the City Council chambers to a small building located on Addison Street, directly across the street from 3 single family homes. While the high school searches for a cafeteria, the kitchen facilities in this building will be abandoned or ripped out of what is currently the Cafeteria Building, and it will soon be transformed into a reasonable facsimile of the existing Council Chambers. There are many problems with this design, not the least of which is that it puts the major hub for public expression in Berkeley, California, smack across the street from residences on Addison and Browning Streets, and hidden from our main arteries. (The REALM school design will make the breezeway unusable by the general public for access from University Avenue).

This is compounded by the fact that a large auditorium which could be a far more suitable environment for public meetings practically adjoins the cafeteria, and is located directly on University Avenue. However, no plans for renovating the existing Auditorium solely as a public meeting space have been explored. In a previous version of the site plan for the School District headquarters, the Auditorium was incorporated into the District offices, but that plan involved taking a good chunk of the level floor and transforming that into workspaces. The cost of that design ran approximately $3-4 million. The current budget estimate I have heard for making the cafeteria into a suitable meeting hall is around $1.4 million, but it is hard to imagine this being the permanent seat of public discourse in our City.

Apparently the City Council has yet to vote on moving the site for Council meetings to this location, but approximately $500,000 was to be allocated for the project in the City Manager's budget. [For more details, see this Berkeley Daily Planet editorial which appeared n May. 2011 ]

The neighborhood surrounding the old West Campus High School will soon be transformed by an influx of school district employees, high school youth, their parents and teachers, and the lively public participation (and occasional media circus) that Berkeley's public meetings bring!

Please come to the meeting and learn more firsthand about these projects. All of the architectural teams and developers will be on hand to present their plans and take questions, a rare opportunity. 


AGENDA for Community Meeting, October 18, 2011

6:30 PM – 8:00 PM

West Campus Gym

1. Greetings and Introductions
2. Overview
3. BUSD Administration Building Project
4. BUSD Board Room/City Council Project
5. REALM Charter School Project
6. Keeping in Contact 

Day 5: Occupy Berkeley Prepares for Big Action Downtown Saturday

by Ted Friedman
Thursday October 13, 2011 - 03:08:00 PM
Emerging from its tarp last night, General assembly discusses Saturday Noon Rally
Ted Friedman
Emerging from its tarp last night, General assembly discusses Saturday Noon Rally
Moving out from under the tarp, but still on the BA Plaza last night. Urban Strider is left in black coat
Ted Friedman
Moving out from under the tarp, but still on the BA Plaza last night. Urban Strider is left in black coat
Chalk it up to Delacour, who launched Occupy Berkeley from People's Park. After chalking last night, he left
Ted Friedman
Chalk it up to Delacour, who launched Occupy Berkeley from People's Park. After chalking last night, he left

Occupy Berkeley may offer some surprises for its second week which launches Saturday at noon at Bank of America Civic Plaza--followed later by its seventh general assembly, a forum in participatory democracy.

The surprises are still kicking around in committees, and now sub-committees, and new committees. And then there are surprises that just happen spontaneously. 

A march was proposed for Saturday, but after objections to the route came out of general assembly, the march route is being re-considered. 

A general assembly participant proposed occupying the lobby of BA to demand they build a new, state-of-the-art homeless shelter in Berkeley. In the following discussion, the proposal changed to include amendments such as switching to the entrance way ("less aggressive for this stage of the protest"). 

Someone noted that Chase, across the street, was a bigger villain than BA, and was just steps away. Someone else commented that shelters are spurned by the homeless anyway. 

Some action against Chase or BA might might occur, but not inside. Someone reported from Occupy San Francisco that a bank was forced to close for several hours when its entrance was blocked. 

Russell Bates noted that those who propose an action should consider the consequences and that it would be "unwise" to propose an action that the proposer did not participate in. 

An ass-on-the-line discussion ensued. This is not the first time the subject of arrest has arisen. It has already been "decided" that arrest be optional and instructions have come from participants for avoiding arrest. 

One speaker differentiated between being cited and released for a minor offense versus being jailed, and being unavailable for further protest. 

Participants have voiced their fears of being arrested, but concluded, they would do it if necessary. As one said in a recent GA, "if you're not here to get arrested, why are you here?" 

She was opposed by another, who disagreed. 

Micah M. White, founder of the national anti-Wall Street protest, was seen in the GA the night before last with his wife (but didn't speak). His wife is reportedly a visiting scholar at the university. He had kicked off Saturday's protest—proposing occupying on campus, or at Chez Panisse. He said he was living on the affluent North side. 

Maybe he'll have some surprises. 

The Daily Planet will continue these daily dispatches at least through the week. Click in.  

Ted Friedman has been temporarily assigned to the protest beat, downtown, but he's keeping an eye on his South side neighborhood where the tree-sit in People's Park is reportedly drawing attention from passersby who stop to listen to "the poet in the tree." 

Hundreds of Protesters "Occupy Walnut Creek"

By Laura Dixon (BCN)
Thursday October 13, 2011 - 02:02:00 PM
Protesters line Main Street across from BofA
Steve Leibel / stevelimages.com
Protesters line Main Street across from BofA
The crowd in front of BofA
Steve Leibel / stevelimages.com
The crowd in front of BofA
Definitely not the usual scene at Tiffany & Co
Steve Leibel / stevelimages.com
Definitely not the usual scene at Tiffany & Co

Occupy Wall Street made its way to Walnut Creek Wednesday afternoon, when about 300 people rallied in solidarity with the now nation-wide movement.

From 4 p.m. until around 6:30 p.m., protestors from Walnut Creek and surrounding towns lined the sidewalk at the intersection of Main Street and Mount Diablo Boulevard, standing in front of a Bank of America branch, a Tiffany and Co. store and a handful of upscale eateries. 

Local residents of all ages and from various political groups, labor unions and student organizations turned out at the peaceful demonstration, many bearing signs and American flags and wearing nametags that read "99%". 

About half a dozen police officers stood along the sidewalks monitoring the event, but as of 6 p.m., police said there had not been any arrests or confrontations with demonstrators. 

"Occupy Walnut Creek" organizers said word of the event spread quickly over the past week via email, Facebook and phone calls. 

Organizer Ken Richard admitted he was surprised by the large turnout Wednesday afternoon, and now hopes even more people will attend next Wednesday's "Occupy Walnut Creek" rally, set for the same time and location. 

Richard added that although Walnut Creek is largely seen as an upper-middle-class city, locals are "compassionate and care about America's unemployed, underemployed, and (those) living in poverty." 

Standing on the sidewalk nearby, 82-year-old Bobbe Huetter of Walnut Creek said she decided to join the rally Wednesday after hearing about it on the radio. 

Dozens of other protesters today drove in from neighboring Contra Costa County towns.  

Regardless of their hometowns, several attendees shared common stories about the effect the Great Recession has had on their lives. 

One protestor, 59-year-old Gary Walls of Martinez, said he retired early from his decades-long union job as a carpenter when the recession drained the area of jobs two years ago. 

"I think it's a very American thing (protesters) are doing...we're trying to get America back in shape," he said Wednesday, holding a sign topped with an American flag that read, "Eliminate Corporate Greed". 

Instead of a sign, Randall Baker, 26, of Martinez carried a 24-pack of bottled water, distributing bottles to protestors this afternoon and returning to his car, where he'd stowed eight more packs, to hand out more. 

"I know it's hot, and I don't want anyone passing out," said Baker, who is unemployed. 

Organizers said they are already gearing up for next week's protest and plan to attend larger "Occupy" rallies in San Francisco and in Oakland this weekend.



Occupying Berkeley and Oakland on a Fine Saturday in October

By Becky O'Malley
Sunday October 16, 2011 - 08:16:00 PM

Both Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland for generations have celebrated what’s called “the marching season”, a time of the year beginning around Easter when various groups stage parades to commemorate dates and causes that they consider significant. Here in the United States, October has often been our “marching season”—some of the best protests decrying the first (or was it the second?) Gulf War were in October, as I recall.

This year is no exception. Yesterday’s various Occupy events in Berkeley and the rest of the East Bay, though serious in purpose, had an almost festive air consistent with the fine weather and earnest camaraderie of the participants. If you kept moving, it was possible to enjoy a good cross section of the available color at various locales. 

Occupy Berkeley had been grouping and re-grouping with ever-changing times and locales for almost a week. Checking in at the plaza in front of the downtown Bank of America at noon, the time and place announced on at least one Internet venue, we discovered that one contingent was already on the move, but about a hundred people were still there listening to speakers with a variety of axes to grind. Spotted in the crowd were one Berkeley City Councilmember (the ever vigilant Kriss Worthington), two former Daily Planet reporters hung with cameras, one former law school classmate who said she was just back from the 50th anniversary celebration of either SNCC or the Freedom Riders or both, and a good assortment of fresh-faced young folk who looked like they were students.  

Noteworthy: most of the young were of European descent, even though close to half of the UC Berkeley student body could be considered Asian or Asian-American. I saw no young African-Americans, though a few of their elders were there, including reportedly Berkeley Councilmember Max Anderson. (I missed him.) 

A posted sign announced that there would be a rally of some sort in Civic Center Park at 2:30, so I ducked out for a bit to have coffee with a friend at the Farmer’s Market next to the park. We’ve been to a variety of events like these over the years, most notably going to D.C. in a vicious sleet storm to protest G.W. Bush’s theft of his first “election”—fat lot of good that did. But we were game to keep up the effort by joining the next event, though the title of Phil Ochs’ song (I Ain’t Marching Any More) lingers in memory. 

And thanks to modern modes of transport I even made it to Oakland by 3:30, just in time to hear Danny Glover working the crowd up to a fine frenzy. It was an odd assortment of edgy youth and grizzled age, obviously happy to be there together on such a fine day. The Occupy contingent, who had been there for a couple of days, were joined by Danny and assorted politicians, union leaders and their troops who walked over from a long-planned “Jobs not Cuts” rally at Laney College which was coincidentally timed to back Obama’s American Jobs Act.  

It was a pretty big crowd, probably in the thousands, as well as I could tell from my vantage point at the northwest side of what is now called Ogawa Plaza, a concrete amphitheatre which replaces the green triangle which used to be in front of the Oakland City Hall. Like many jolly Oakland events, the mix here was thoroughly, emphatically and enthusiastically multi-racial and multi-ethnic. 

The first person I knew that I ran into was the other friend with whom I went to the Bush inaugural fiasco—talk about addictive personalities, all three of us. Several others there I recognized as Berkeleyans who have not yet joined any of the Occupy Berkeley events—people who tend to self-identify more with Democratic Party power brokers than with the raggle-taggle band who have been the most persistent participants in the Occupy arena.  

I spotted a woman rumored to have once been a member of Line of March, an Oakland based Maoist organization founded in 1970, chumming up with a now-rightish Berkeley Democratic politician. Fashions come and go, but the avant-garde remains the same. 

As I was leaving I came across an old acquaintance, a union organizer and for a long time a stalwart of the old left, though of late a leader of the Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club instead. He said he’d been putting together the union rally for at least six weeks, but had been working especially hard in the last couple of days reconciling the two strains which came together that day at Ogawa Plaza.  

“Oh, so you were representing The Establishment this time?” I teased.  

“You have to get the right dialectic between spontaneity and structure,” he said, only half joking. He said that he’d spent a long time in the encampment the night before, and “when you’re dealing with a group of anarchists it’s easy for a few Trots to take over.” 

Note for younger readers: that would be Trotskyists, though what that epithet means in the modern context is not easy to decipher. Per Wikipedia, Trotsky’s “politics differed sharply from those of Stalinism, most prominently in opposing Socialism in One Country, which he argued was a break with proletarian internationalism, and in his belief in what he argued was a more authentic dictatorship of the proletariat based on working-class self-emancipation and mass democracy, rather than the unaccountable bureaucracy he saw as having developed after Lenin's death.” 

Hmm, yes. Well, we came back in the evening to check out an enthusiastic report from a center-left-leaning friend about the excellent organization and spirit which she saw when she visited the camp that afternoon.  

We got there just in time to observe the nightly meeting—not sure if it was a “General Assembly” or just notes to inhabitants. This nascent revolution, everywhere, is currently more about process than about product, but the Oakland process wasn’t as elegantly choreographed as its Berkeley or Wall Street counterparts. There were no Trotskyist leanings, in fact no leanings of any kind, in evidence. 

In Oakland there was a real loudspeaker instead of the call-and-response substitute made famous by Occupy Wall Street and imitated to indifferent effect in Berkeley. It echoed back from the concrete bleachers, and anyone who had anything to say lined up and waited for a turn at the mike. Most of what we heard in three-quarters of an hour was announcements: a lot about conflict resolution, food, medical aid and the like.  

There was only one “proposal” on the agenda for discussion—from the DJs who were planning to put on a big dance party for the inhabitants that evening. They wanted the quiet hour deadline, normally midnight, to be pushed out to 2 a.m. in honor of the party. 

A few half-hearted speakers spoke pro and con. Straw votes based on a show of hands were requested, though they were hard to count in the dark. Finally the woman who’d held the microphone for most of the time we were there announced that the proposal had failed because it didn’t get 90% support, which seemed to be that night’s version of consensus, notably hard to achieve.  

There were no other proposals made before we left. A request for adoption of a list of demands never made it to the agenda, but was scheduled for a committee meeting on Sunday. 

The camp last night, coupled with today’s reports of the dedication of the Martin Luther King memorial, reminded me of Resurrection City, an encampment of poor people and friends set up in D.C. in May of 1968, an outgrowth of Martin Luther King’s Poor People’s Campaign for an Economic Bill of Rights for the nation’s poor, which he was working on when he was assassinated. That one lasted for not much more than a month before it was shut down by the authorities. The Economic Bill of Rights was never passed. 

Some press reports say that 1400 cities around the world took up the Occupy banner over the weekend, so maybe this time the outcome will be different. Or perhaps, though the parties might be better, the consequences will be the same. We’ll have to wait and see. Poor people all over the world are in a lot more trouble than they were in 1968, a year when we thought there was plenty of trouble to go around.  

The Editor's Back Fence

New: Hancock Sponsors "Gut-and-Amend" Bills in Sacramento

By Becky O'Malley
Wednesday October 19, 2011 - 08:39:00 AM

A reader has forwarded a disturbing article by Lauren Rosenhall in Monday's Sacramento Bee, which implicates Berkeley Senator Loni Hancock in the disreputable practice of "gut-and-amend", which allows bills to be passed in Sacramento with essentially no public process. Here's the top of the story:

"It was after midnight on the last day of the legislative session last month when the state Senate took up a controversial bill concerning election laws for the very first time.
Most bills go through a months-long process of hearings, negotiations, amendments and votes. Not this one.

Senate Bill 202 was written about 24 hours earlier, when Democrat Loni Hancock of Berkeley deleted the language in a bill about filing fees on voter initiatives and replaced it with a highly political proposal to change the state's election laws in ways that will favor Democrats in 2012.

'The lack of process in this bill is inexcusable,' Sen. Ted Lieu of Torrance told his colleagues that night. 'We as Democrats should be ashamed at how this came to the Senate floor.'

Hancock's bill was the most extreme example this year of the Legislature's penchant for writing new laws at the last minute – but it was by no means the only one." 

Read more

Local Business in the News

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

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

Things don't look too good there.

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. 

The election itself isn’t until December, which gives you plenty of time to figure out which candidates to vote for. 

You can register for a Fall Special $15 membership fee, which includes a free backpack, here, or call 415-977-5653 to register by phone. It's a good deal—do it now.


Cartoon Page: Odd Bodkins: The Answer

Dan O'Neill
Tuesday October 18, 2011 - 11:43:00 AM


Dan O'Neill


Public Comment

Letters to the Editor

Wednesday October 19, 2011 - 01:12:00 PM

Jobs is a Four Letter Word;Republican Primaries;Socialism in One City;Make it fair; Children Need Love 

Jobs is a Four Letter Word 

Everyone needs a job, no one disputes that in this crumbling society. A person needs work to support body and soul in order to feel worthwhile but very often the constant din of "jobs, jobs, jobs" begins to feel like a excuse to throw every other concern out the window. If a candidate for president says we need to drill for oil and mine for coal and frack for natural gas no matter the environmental cost because we must create jobs and energy then he sounds very reasonable to some people. Advocating drilling for oil in the Gulf of Mexico with the recent calamity hardly behind us or fracking for gas despite the risk to the aquifers, stops creative alternative ideas from percolating to the top. Old solutions block new solutions from being pursued. 

One little problem with a green solar energy plant causes every one to throw up their hands and say, "See, we told you it wouldn't work," even though the dirty industries have problems all the time. This country needs some imagination to make the invisible visible. While Herman Cain chants 9-9-9 the rest chant jobs-jobs-jobs. What happened to American ingenuity? 

Constance Wiggins 

* * * * * * * 

Republican Primaries 

Is Rick Perry the inevitable GOP presidential nominee? Who decides the outcome in the early primaries of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina who the Republican nominee will be? Evangelical, fundamentalist and Tea Party white religious social conservatives. Essentially Rick Perry's base. So, don't write off Rick Perry too soon. The Texas candidate is doing the two-step, singing the fundamentalist anthem of the Tea Party and that's got to help. Rick Perry is scary. He's far to the right, ultra-extreme on a woman's freedom of choice, scoffs at the separation of church and state, derides climate change as a hoax, calls evolution an unproven theory (ask your third grader what they think about this), and sees Social Security as a failure, wanting to end or privatize the program. President Rick Perry, What a nightmare. 

Ron Lowe 

* * * * * * * 

Socialism in One City 

I was pleased to read your account of the Marin Circle Fountain. That our former mayor brought out that really excellent hat - the one present at the dedication of the original fountain in 1911 - gives me a notion: Perhaps we can next restore another feature from 1911 -- a socialist mayor. 

Tom Lord 

* * * * * * * 

Make it fair 

Lady with a sign sayen, “Hey C.E.O. sell your watch & buy my kids some socks”! 

Police are using mace and clubs, as the 1% sip their drinks, the mommies on the night shift miss their babies, I think were on the brink 

Our neighbor’s homes get foreclosed and the numbers living out of shopping carts grow 

The 1% don’t realize the time is coming when they’re gonna reap just what they sowed 

The libraries are closing and the teachers are laid off, 

the nurses on the picket line are trying not to curse. 

The “bag lady” on the corner expresses her despair, 

while a boy at the occupation holds a sign that says simply, “make it fair”. 


Neil Doherty 

* * * * * * * 

Children Need Love 

All children need love. Especially when adults around them are staggering from a broken economy children need assurance they are being cared for. Do we ever understand why so many young people take drugs? Probably during their growing and developing years we as parents or as a society were unable to give them adequate love and security. I think there is a strong correlation between their addictions and the love missing in their lives 

Many young children today don't feel that they can go home or to their school staff and pour out their bagged emotions fearlessly, without dreading the consequences of sharing their innermost thoughts. They don't feel that there is someone waiting to greet them at home or anywhere else in the community. They don’t have access to someone who has time to ask them about their day or about their feelings. 

We think children don't know how stressful it is for the adults around them. But, of course, they notice the remorseful or frightened looks on the faces of their parents or neighbors. But, of course, they catch bits and pieces of troubling news on TV. If they happen to find somebody who will give them attention, they open up and don’t want to stop pouring out their feelings. 

What can we do to offer children hope? Where shall we find the resources to assure them that they matter greatly to our future? That, in fact, they are our future. 

Romila Khanna

A Framing Memo for Occupy Wall Street

By George Lakoff, Reader Supported News
Wednesday October 19, 2011 - 01:11:00 PM

I was asked weeks ago by some in the Occupy Wall Street movement to make suggestions for how to frame the movement. I have hesitated so far, because I think the movement should be framing itself. It's a general principle: Unless you frame yourself, others will frame you - the media, your enemies, your competitors, your well-meaning friends. I have so far hesitated to offer suggestions. But the movement appears to maturing and entering a critical time when small framing errors could have large negative consequences. So I thought it might be helpful to accept the invitation and start a discussion of how the movement might think about framing itself. 

About framing: It's normal. Everybody engages in it all the time. Frames are just structures of thought that we use every day. All words in all languages are defined in terms of frame-circuits in the brain. But, ultimately, framing is about ideas, about how we see the world, which determines how we act. 

In politics, frames are part of competing moral systems that are used in political discourse and in charting political action. In short, framing is a moral enterprise: it says what the character of a movement is. All politics is moral. Political figures and movements always make policy recommendations claiming they are the right things to do. No political figure ever says, do what I say because it's wrong! Or because it doesn't matter! Some moral principles or other lie behind every political policy agenda. 

Two Moral Framing Systems in Politics 

Conservatives have figured out their moral basis and you see it on Wall Street: It includes: The primacy of self-interest. Individual responsibility, but not social responsibility. Hierarchical authority based on wealth or other forms of power. A moral hierarchy of who is "deserving," defined by success. And the highest principle is the primacy of this moral system itself, which goes beyond Wall Street and the economy to other arenas: family life, social life, religion, foreign policy, and especially government. Conservative "democracy" is seen as a system of governance and elections that fits this model. 

Though OWS concerns go well beyond financial issues, your target is right: the application of these principles in Wall Street is central, since that is where the money comes from for elections, for media, and for right-wing policy-making institutions of all sorts on all issues. 

The alternative view of democracy is progressive: Democracy starts with citizens caring about one another and acting responsibly on that sense of care, taking responsibility both for oneself and for one's family, community, country, people in general, and the planet. The role of government is to protect and empower all citizens equally via The Public: public infrastructure, laws and enforcement, health, education, scientific research, protection, public lands, transportation, resources, art and culture, trade policies, safety nets, and on and on. Nobody makes it one their own. If you got wealthy, you depended on The Public, and you have a responsibility to contribute significantly to The Public so that others can benefit in the future. Moreover, the wealthy depend on those who work, and who deserve a fair return for their contribution to our national life. Corporations exist to make life better for most people. Their reason for existing is as public as it is private. 

A disproportionate distribution of wealth robs most citizens of access to the resources controlled by the wealthy. Immense wealth is a thief. It takes resources from the rest of the population - the best places to live, the best food, the best educations, the best health facilities, access to the best in nature and culture, the best professionals, and on and on. Resources are limited, and great wealth greatly limits access to resources for most people. 

It appears to me that OWS has a progressive moral vision and view of democracy, and that what it is protesting is the disastrous effects that have come from operating with a conservative moral, economic, and political worldview. I see OWS as primarily a moral movement, seeking economic and political changes to carry out that moral movement - whatever those particular changes might be. 

A Moral Focus for Occupy Wall Street 

I think it is a good thing that the occupation movement is not making specific policy demands. If it did, the movement would become about those demands. If the demands were not met, the movement would be seen as having failed. 

It seems to me that the OWS movement is moral in nature, that occupiers want the country to change its moral focus. It is easy to find useful policies; hundreds have been suggested. It is harder to find a moral focus and stick to it. If the movement is to frame itself, it should be on the basis of its moral focus, not a particular agenda or list of policy demands. If the moral focus of America changes, new people will be elected and the policies will follow. Without a change of moral focus, the conservative worldview that has brought us to the present disastrous and dangerous moment will continue to prevail. 

We Love America. We're Here to Fix It 

I see OWS as a patriotic movement, based on a deep and abiding love of country - a patriotism that it is not just about the self-interests of individuals, but about what the country is and is to be. Do Americans care about other citizens, or mainly just about themselves? That's what love of America is about. I therefore think it is important to be positive, to be clear about loving America, seeing it in need of fixing, and not just being willing to fix it, but being willing to take to the streets to fix it. A populist movement starts with the people seeing that they are all in the same boat and being ready to come together to fix the leaks. 

Publicize the Public 

Tell the truth about The Public, that nobody makes it purely on their own without The Public, that is, without public infrastructure, the justice system, health, education, scientific research, protections of all sorts, public lands, transportation, resources, art and culture, trade policies, safety nets, … That is a truth to be told day after day. It is an idea that must take hold in public discourse. It must go beyond what I and others have written about it and beyond what Elizabeth Warren has said in her famous video. The Public is not opposed to The Private. The Public is what makes The Private possible. And it is what makes freedom possible. Wall Street exists only through public support. It has a moral obligation to direct itself to public needs. 

All OWS approaches to policy follow from such a moral focus. Here are a handful of examples. 

Democracy should be about the 99% 

Money directs our politics. In a democracy, that must end. We need publicly supported elections, however that is to be arranged. 

Strong Wages Make a Strong America 

Middle-class wages have not gone up significantly in 30 years, and there is conservative pressure to lower them. But when most people get more money, they spend it and spur the economy, making the economy and the country stronger, as well as making their individual lives better. This truth needs to be central to public economic discourse. 

Global Citizenship 

America has been a moral beacon to the world. It can function as such only if it sets an example of what a nation should be. 

Do we have to spend more on the military that all other nations combined? Do we really need hundreds of military bases abroad? 


We are part of nature. Nature makes us, and all that we love, possible. Yet we are destroying Nature through global warming and other forms of ecological destruction, like fracking and deep-water drilling. 

At a global scale, nature is systemic: its effects are neither local nor linear. Global warming is causing the ferocity of the monster storms, tornados, floods, blizzards, heat waves, and fires that have devastated huge areas of our country. The hotter the atmosphere, the more evaporated water and the more energy going into storms, tornados, and blizzards. Global warming cannot be shown to cause any particular storm, but when a storm system forms, global warming will ramp up the power of the storm and the amount of water it carries. In winter, evaporated water from the overly heated Pacific will go into the atmosphere, blow northeast over the arctic, and fall as record snows. 

We depend on nature - on clean air, water, food, and a livable climate. And we find beauty and grandeur in nature, and a sense of awe that makes life worth living. A love of country requires a love of nature. And a fair and thriving economy requires the preservation of nature as we have known it. 


OWS is a moral and patriotic movement. It sees Democracy as flowing from citizens caring about one another as well as themselves, and acting with both personal and social responsibility. Democratic governance is about The Public, and the liberty that The Public provides for a thriving Private Sphere. From such a democracy flows fairness, which is incompatible with a hugely disproportionate distribution of wealth. And from the sense of care implicit in such a democracy flows a commitment to the preservation of nature. 

From what I have seen of most members of OWS, your individual concerns all flow from one moral focus. 


The Tea Party solidified the power of the conservative worldview via elections. OWS will have no long-term effect unless it too brings its moral focus to the 2012 elections. Insist on supporting candidates that have your overall moral views, no matter what the local issues are. 

A Warning 

This movement could be destroyed by negativity, by calls for revenge, by chaos, or by having nothing positive to say. Be positive about all things and state the moral basis of all suggestions. Positive and moral in calling for debt relief. Positive and moral in upholding laws, as they apply to finances. Positive and moral in calling for fairness in acquiring needed revenue. Positive and moral in calling for clean elections. To be effective, your movement must be seen by all of the 99% as positive and moral. To get positive press, you must stress the positive and the moral. 

Remember: The Tea Party sees itself as stressing only individual responsibility. The Occupation Movement is stressing both individual and social responsibility. 

I believe, and I think you believe, that most Americans care about their fellow citizens as well as themselves. Let's find out! Shout your moral and patriotic views out loud, regularly. Put them on your signs. Repeat them to the media. Tweet them. And tell everyone you know to do the same. You have to use your own language with your own framing and you have to repeat it over and over for the ideas to sink in. 

Occupy elections: voter registration drives, town hall meetings, talk radio airtime, party organizations, nomination campaigns, election campaigns, and voting booths. 

Above all: Frame yourselves before others frame you. 

Berkeleyan George Lakoff is the author of "Moral Politics, Don't Think of an Elephant!," "Whose Freedom?," and "Thinking Points" (with the Rockridge Institute staff). He is Richard and Rhoda Goldman Distinguished Professor of Cognitive Science and Linguistics at the University of California at Berkeley, and a founding senior fellow at the Rockridge Institute.

Resurrect Berkeley's Rink

By Wendy Schlesinger, MJ, CIP
Tuesday October 18, 2011 - 11:08:00 AM

The historical reality is that Iceland embodied, and can embody again, all that is truly great in Berkeley the town and Berkeley the gown. Not only did my son and I and thousands of other people of all ages and relationships and background have a wonderful time skating there to the music, with the Friday night disco lights or the Christmas lights, not only did so many of us have memorable birthday parties for our children there, but it was also a womblike place (kind of like the design for the new Apple headquarters) that held diversity in place with utter peace and good vibes. By the way, the nonpareil skate guards contributed, too, to the good vibes. 

I cannot figure out why the city of Berkeley and UC Berkeley (whose students curled on the ice late at night, and who had a recreational ice hockey team) has not yet thrown in a couple of million dollars...or six million dollars...to resurrect the rink. 

Going to downtown Oakland to ice skate is simply not possible for many, due to a complex set of reasons, not the least being a lack of parking. There is a ig enough group of skaters around here and to the north to pay to skate at Berkeley Iceland. 

To have a sporting goods store there (with or without classes) is to admit defeat --- an egalitarian vision of inexpensive, kinetic fun for all (and a marvel for toned thighs and prevention of childhood obesity) is replaced with another consumer fest for only those with disposable income. 

And the rest of us? Are we to be disposed? Is it just market forces preventing a return to good old fashioned, clean fun in Berkeley? How crass; what a shame, what a pity. But don't mourn...organize and make a donation to the nonprofit Save Berkeley Iceland (just Google it and see how to give). And tell your Berkeley City Council to bring back Iceland as a skating rink, and UC alum: Call Community Relations, the Athletic Director, Public Affairs, and tell all of them to endow the ice rink and breathe the kind of breath back into it that we can tangibly feel and see.

Press Release: March and Rally for "Jobs Not Cuts" in Oakland Today

From the Wellstone Democratic Club
Saturday October 15, 2011 - 11:17:00 AM

October 15, 2011
Jobs Not Cuts
Work Not War
Saturday, October 15th
March and Rally
Gather at Laney College at 1PM
Lake Merritt BART
Join the rebellion of the 99% to force the 1% to do their part in supporting the common good. It's time. Let's all march together.
Join With:
Danny Glover
Jean Quan, Mayor of Oakland
Tom Bates, Mayor of Berkeley
Gayle McLaughlin, Mayor of Richmond
Josie Camacho, Alameda Labor Council
Support the Contract to Rebuild the American Dream:
Meet at Laney College at 1PM (Lake Merritt BART)
March to
Frank Ogawa Plaza (12th St. BART)
for a short rally with compelling speakers
this is a BART to BART march
cosponsored by: Alameda and San Francisco Labor Councils, MoveON,Oakland Rising,Global Exchange,Peace Action West, Oakland Education Association, Code Pink, New Priorities Campaign, Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club, US Labor Against the War, Sierra Club - East Bay, among many others
for more information:
Please volunteer to be a monitor or help with the tasks of the march and rally. Please arrive at Laney College by 11:30AM

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  

Rossmann Piece on Skinner/Hancock Bad Votes 

Antonio Rossmann provides an excellent backroom analysis of the anti-environmental bills AB 292 and SB 900 that were just signed into law by Jerry Brown. But why does he let our local representatives who supported these bills--Skinner voted for both, Hancock for AB 292--off the hook? I'm not persuaded by his twofold explanation: they were pressured by the Democratic Party leadership, and they've embraced the jobs at any price line. But Rossmann also tells us that Assemblymember Jared Huffman of Marin and Sonoma Counties voted No. Skinner and Hancock could have done so as well, without in any way risking their seats. 

Zelda Bronstein 

* * * 

tax the rich demo, Monday, 5:30pm  

This coming Monday, Oct. 17, 5:30-6:30 pm , we're having our fifth demonstration in North Berkeley demanding higher taxes for the super-rich and big corporations. Our demonstration is held near the top of Solano Avenue, by the Oaks Theater on one side and the Chase Bank on the other. A key objective of our demonstration is to legitimize street protests and to encourage those who pass by to join us. Public reaction on Solano has been so far very encouraging. Not least, we are building community. For those who are interested, we will afterward OCCUPY the nearby Chinese restaurant, King Tsin, for dinner, conversation, and fun. We hope you can join us on Monday. 

Harry Brill


Warbler Variations and the Origin of a Species

By Joe Eaton
Tuesday October 18, 2011 - 11:30:00 AM
Audubon's warbler: a natural hybrid?
P Terzian (Wikimedia Commons)
Audubon's warbler: a natural hybrid?
Myrtle warbler: a parent species?
Simon Pierre Barrette (Wikimedia Commons)
Myrtle warbler: a parent species?

The mule is in many ways an admirable creature. It’s tough and adaptable. It has a mind of its own, but it’s open to negotiation. The US Army has rediscovered the virtues of mules as pack animal in inhospitable terrain like most of Afghanistan. The one thing a mule can’t do, of course, is reproduce its own kind. The offspring of a male horse and a female donkey, it’s the archetypal sterile hybrid. 

Not all hybrids share the mule’s fate, however. Sometimes they are not only reproductively viable, but have a competitive edge over either of the parent species. That’s how a hybrid can become a founder of a whole new species. Natural selection has the last word on that; but hybridization provides another source of genetic variation to work on, along with mutation and random drift. 

Hybrid speciation is old hat to botanists. It can happen in one of two ways in plants: polyploidy speciation, in which the hybrid offspring has a different number of chromosomes from either parent, and homoploid speciation, in which chromosome number remains constant but parental genes are recombined. The polyploidy version happens more often, accounting for 2 to 4 percent of speciation events in flowering plants. Some twenty homoploid plant species of hybrid origin are known, including a trio of desert sunflowers that outcompete their moisture-loving parent species in dry habitats. 

For animals, homoploid or recombination speciation is the dominant mode. Scientists are just beginning to appreciate the potential of hybridization in the creation of new animal species. It was first recognized in invertebrates, mainly butterflies. Matthew Forister of the University of Nevada, Reno identified a newly discovered species of butterfly in the High Sierra as a natural hybrid of the northern blue and the Melissa blue. The Appalachian tiger swallowtail was found by Harvard biologists Marcus Kronfost and Krushnamegh Kunte to be a hybrid of the Canadian tiger and eastern tiger swallowtails. The ranks of known hybrid species also include a couple of fish, notably a southwestern minnow called the Virgin (as in Virgin River) chub. 

Now it’s the birds’ turn. Earlier this year a group of European biologists reported that the Italian sparrow originated through hybridization between the ubiquitous house, or English, sparrow and the more narrowly distributed Spanish sparrow. Closer to home, an article in Molecular Ecology by Alan Brelsford and Darren Irwin of the University of British Columbia and Borja Mila of UCLA make a persuasive case that the bird formerly known as the Audubon’s warbler is a hybrid species (abstract at www.mendeley.com/research/hybrid-origin-audubons-warbler.) 

There is a taxonomic thicket to hack through at this point, so bear with me. Between 1766 and 1897, ornithologists described four similar species of wood warbler: the myrtle warbler of eastern North America, the Audubon’s warbler of western North America, the black-fronted warbler of northern Mexico, and the Goldman’s warbler of Chiapas and Guatemala. The four could be distinguished by plumage. Among more subtle differences, adult male myrtles have white throats; the other three have yellow throats, and black-fronted and Goldman’s have more extensive black in their plumage than Audubon’s. Audubon’s breeds in the California mountains and coastal forest and is a common winter visitor in the Bay Area; myrtle winters here in lower numbers. 

The two Mexican forms were demoted to subspecies of Audubon’s in 1921. After myrtle and Audubon’s warblers were caught hybridizing in western Canada, the American Ornithological Union merged the two in a new taxon christened the yellow-rumped warbler. Birders continued to use the old nomenclature, and some biologists have argued that the two were lumped on insufficient evidence. Last year a proposal to split the yellow-rumped complex into two, three, or four separate species was voted down by the AOU. 

That might have to be reconsidered in light of the new data from Brelsford, Mila, and Irwin. Analyzing blood and tissue samples taken within the breeding ranges of all four types, they focused on mitochondrial DNA, a signal for maternal inheritance, and nuclear DNA sequences identified by amplified fragment length polymorphism markers, which are used to test hypotheses of hybrid speciation. Mitochondrial patterns grouped most Audubon’s warblers with myrtle warblers, except for Arizona samples that aligned with the black-fronted warbler. The AFLP picture was different: myrtle and black-fronted samples formed well-separated clusters, with Audubon’s intermediate between the two and partially overlapping with black-fronted. Three of the forms—myrtle, black-fronted, and Goldman’s—had unique AFLP variants. Audubon’s had none. 

Their conclusion: “the Audubon’s warbler…as defined by previous taxonomy clearly represents an admixture between two long-divergent lineages, coronata [myrtle] and nigrifrons [black-fronted], which differ substantially in plumage, morphology, migratory behavior and both mitochondrial and nuclear DNA.” While allowing the possibility of other origin scenarios, they regard hybridization between myrtle and black-fronted as the most likely explanation of their findings. When and where the two parent species met remains to be determined; it may have happened in the Canadian Rockies about 16,000 years ago. 

So Audubon’s warbler, if we can call it that, may be a genetically distinct organism, bounded by stable hybrid zones in the north (with myrtle) and south (with black-fronted.) In between, natural selection has favored the perpetuation of the mix. 

The cases of hybrid speciation described so far may be just the tip of the iceberg. With this, and the emerging patterns of lateral gene transfer among bacteria and more complex organisms, it may be time to retire the venerable image of the evolutionary tree: the only image in Darwin’s Origin of Species. The tree is beginning to look more like a web.

On Mental Illness: Stereotypes and Stigma

By Jack Bragen
Sunday October 16, 2011 - 05:51:00 PM

Society has an unfriendly perception of persons with mental illnesses. Persons with mental illness are thought to be murderers, sociopaths, and wild people who are out of control. This is usually not accurate. Television news does a good job of making people believe that persons with mental illness do most of the violent crimes in society; but this is not so. Only a small percentage of violent acts are perpetrated by persons with mental illness, and most mentally ill people are not violent. Most violence in society is probably due to domestic issues, the narcotics trade, and also gang activity. Most criminals aren’t mentally ill; they are criminals, a fairly distinct category of people. Most persons with mental illness are gentler than the average person, and many would choose death for themselves long before hurting another person. 

Persons with mental illness are thought to be freaky and sick people; abnormal, unwashed, and a crude and inferior breed of people—almost subhuman. Even a Zen practitioner in an article in a popular meditation magazine said: “It is hard to have compassion for such people.” (When I read that, a statement which I believe was bigoted, I was outraged because of its illustrious and supposedly evolved source.) 

In fact, persons with mental illness aren’t freaks; we are actual human beings with feelings. We want the same things for ourselves that nearly everyone wants. Yet, many of those good things in life, which non-afflicted people take for granted, for us are out of reach. 

When someone disrespects us or treats us with condescension, we are impacted. When this happens repeatedly on a daily basis, it becomes ingrained into our psyches. We may eventually become the drooling circus act who people believe us to be. 

Misconceptions about persons with mental illness run parallel to misconceptions that existed up until recently concerning African American people, other non Caucasian people, Gay people and Lesbian people. If your memory is long enough, the negative stereotypes that society has about persons with mental illness are pretty much the same falsehoods that existed decades ago concerning other minority groups. However, in society today, it is still socially acceptable to have disdain, false superiority and dislike toward persons with mental illness. 

Persons with mental illness are vulnerable. In the jails and prisons we become victims of some of the worst abuse. Outside of jail, criminals often prey on us as easy victims. In mainstream society, we are the butt of people’s jokes and are socially excluded. In treatment venues, our perspective and our worth are often invalidated. Family who are more successful may not tell their peers even of our existence. Businesspersons may hire us for only the most demeaning of jobs. 

Persons with mental illness may be the last minority. And we, too, are waiting for the day when all people are treated with dignity and respect.

The Public Eye: Who Killed the US Economy? Accounting Parasites

By Bob Burnett
Friday October 14, 2011 - 10:57:00 AM

As the US Economy stagnates and 14 million Americans remain unemployed, Washington politicians play familiar blame games. Republicans believe our problems stem from too much government and claim the economy would right itself if there were fewer taxes and regulations. Democrats assert the economy failed because of faulty government that permitted egregious corporate behavior and promoted economic inequality. But the real culprit lies deep within the bowels of modern corporations: parasitic accountants who have subverted America’s entrepreneurial spirit and jeopardized the common good. 

In FORBES magazine, management consultant Steve Denning noted that DELL Computer, because of nearsighted financial advice, gave itself away to its Taiwanese supplier: “ASUSTeK came to Dell with an interesting value proposition: ‘We’ve been doing a good job making [circuit] boards. Why don’t you let us make the motherboard for you?’ …Dell accepted the proposal because from a perspective of making money, it made sense: Dell’s revenues were unaffected and its profits improved significantly… ASUSTeK took over the motherboard, the assembly of the computer, the management of the supply chain and the design of the computer. In each case Dell accepted the proposal because from a perspective of making money, it made sense: Dell’s revenues were unaffected and its profits improved significantly. However, the next time ASUSTeK came back, it wasn’t to talk to Dell. It was to talk to Best Buy and other retailers to tell them that they could offer them their own brand or any brand PC for 20% lower cost.” 

Like most American corporate accountants, DELL’s financial people had a simplistic, narrow objective: do whatever would improve the current quarter’s bottom line. Because accountants don’t have a strategic perspective, DELL’s number crunchers didn’t realize the cumulative debilitating impact of the ASUSTeK transactions. Denning observed, “Decades of outsourcing manufacturing have left U.S. industry without the means to invent the next generation of high-tech products that are key to rebuilding its economy.” Parasitic accountants have neutered our entrepreneurs. 

But it’s not only high-tech companies that are infected by these parasites; American corporations from all sectors have been hypnotized by the promise of short-term profits. It’s the conventional “wisdom” that accountants and executives are taught in business school. This dysfunctional perspective is reinforced by contemporary corporate monoculture where employees live in a bubble, log obscene hours, and vacation with their co-workers. As a consequence giant corporations are dogmatically insular with their own warped code of ethics and worldview. 

Corporate accountants dogmatic focus on profitability drives out humanity. There is no room for entrepreneurial creativity, much less the wellbeing of the larger community or the “common good.” 

This parasitic perspective caused commercial lenders to issue sub-prime mortgages beginning in the late nineties and continuing until the housing credit bubble burst in 2007. In 2005 the majority of housing loans made by lenders such as Countrywide Financial and Washington Mutual were “interest only” back by little or no documentation – so called NINJA loans. Accountants advised financial-industry executives they could improve profitability by selling sub-prime (adjustable rate) mortgages and bundling them into mortgage-backed securities. Later the same parasites told executives they could further improve profitability by decreasing the loan documentation requirements. 

In one industry after another we find examples where nearsighted pursuit of profits has trumped common sense and devastated the common good. Most California private timberland is owned by Sierra Pacific Industries that advocates clearcutting where all trees in a given area are cut down, the valuable timber hauled away, the residue burned, and the ground scraped bare and sprayed with herbicides. This process makes more money for SIERRA PACIFIC but it passes on environmental damage to the public and drastically diminishes the amount and quality of the watershed. 

Most public utilities have a similar narrow focus on profits at the expense of the common good. For example, TECO Energy operates the massively polluting Big Bend power plant in Apollo Beach, Florida, because it has low operating costs due to its construction before modern standards for pollution control. 

The advent of accounting parasites is the ultimate triumph of the nerd: hundreds of thousands of corporate finance people who care more about numbers than they do humanity. A culture of parasites who think nothing of firing workers, or stripping them of their benefits, in the name of profitability, 

Accounting parasites have neutered our entrepreneurs, sucked the humanity out of corporate culture and ruined the economy. They don’t understand that the US consumer economy will not function properly unless there is full employment. 

Fixing the US economy doesn’t mean replacing capitalism with socialism – that would bring another set of equally dire problems. The solution first requires taking parasitic accountants out of the corporate driver seat and replacing them with entrepreneurs – like the late Steve Jobs. And second, replacing the current corporate ethics and the relentless emphasis on profitability, with values that consider both workers and the environment; an ethical system that recognizes the American economy won’t function unless we all have a stake in it. 

Bob Burnett is a Berkeley writer. He can be reached at bburnett@sonic.net 

Dispatches From the Edge: Libya & Afghanistan: The Price of Getting it Wrong

By Conn Hallinan
Thursday October 13, 2011 - 01:05:00 PM

“In 1979, when Soviet troops swept into Afghanistan, an angry Jimmy Carter organized an unofficial alliance to give the Soviets ‘their Vietnam’ (which Afghanistan became).” New York Times, 11/9/11 

The writer of the above paragraph is Marvin Kalb, a former network correspondent, Harvard professor emeritus, co-author “Haunting legacy: Vietnam and the American Presidency from Ford to Obama.” 

It is false history. 

As Paul Jay of the Real News (and before him, the French publication Le Nouvel Observateur) discovered, the Carter administration made the decision to intervene in an Afghan civil war fully six months before the Soviet invasion. In a July 1979 “finding” the White House authorized U.S. military and intelligence agencies to supply the anti-communist mujahideen fighters with money and supplies. 

The “finding” was the beginning of “Operation Cyclone,” a clandestine plan aimed at luring the Soviets into invading Afghanistan. From a relatively modest $23 million down payment, Cyclone turned into a multi-billion behemoth—the most expensive intelligence operation in U.S. history—and one that eventually forced the Soviets to withdraw. 

Cynics might shrug and respond that isn’t truth always the first casualty of war? Except in this case the casualties are still coming in as the U.S. marks its 10th year occupying Afghanistan. And when one totes up the collateral damage from that July 1979 memo, which led to the eventual victory of the Taliban, it chills the soul. 

When the mujahideen went home, they took the war with them, to Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan, India, the Philippines, Indonesia, Central Asia, North Africa, and a host of other places. They also permanently altered the skyline silhouette of New York City. In the annals of disastrous “blowbacks”—unintended consequences flowing from a policy or event—U.S. support for overthrowing the Afghan government and supporting the mujahideen has little competition. 

Ancient history? 

On Mar. 18, President Obama told the U.S. Congress that U.S. involvement in the war in Libya would be a matter of “days not weeks.” It turns out, lots of days, 227 and counting. 

“It’s really quite interesting how resilient and fierce they’ve been,” U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Ralph J. Jodice II told the New York Times. “We’re all surprised by the tenacity of the pro-Qaddafi forces.” 

Besides the rather creepy use of the word “interesting” to describe people you are trying to blow up with 500-pound bombs and Hellfire missiles, the key word in the general’s statement is “surprised.” Aside from destruction, about the only truth of war is surprise. As Field Marshall Helmuth von Moltke the Elder, Prussian Army chief of staff, and one of the great military minds of the 19th century, once noted, “No battle plan survives contact with the enemy.” 

It appears that when the President made those comments, he had been listening to generals, always a very bad idea. President Johnson listened to generals in Vietnam, and they told him some variation of what our current generals obviously told Obama: Piece of cake. We’ll bomb the bejesus out of these Arabs, and in a few days they’ll turn tail and run for the sand dunes. 

Except they didn’t. 

In the long run the combination of bombing, ground support by British Special Forces, and the unpopularity of the regime will eventually defeat the pro-Qaddafi forces, but because this has turned into a war of some 34-plus weeks, there is going to be some very serious blowback. 

For starters, take the 20,000 mobile ground to air missiles, most of which have gone missing. There are two basic kinds that someone—we haven’t the foggiest idea who—has gotten their hands on. 

The SA-24 “Grinch”, or Igla-S, is a very dangerous character. It has a range of some three miles, a powerful warhead, and a guidance system that lets it find targets at night. It is similar to the U.S. Stinger that so distressed the Soviets in Afghanistan. Introduced in 1983, it can hit a plane at 11,000 feet. It can also down drones and cruise missiles, and helicopters are toast. 

The other ground-to-air is the older Russian SA-7 “Grail,” or Strela-2, originally deployed in the 1968, but upgraded in 1972. It has an infrared detection system—it homes in on an aircraft’s engine heat—and the upgraded model has a filter for screening out decoy flares. The SA-7 is similar, but considerably superior, to the U.S. Redeye. The SA-7 has a range of a little over two miles and can reach up to 16,000 feet. 

“We are talking about some 20,000 surface-to-air missiles in all of Libya,” according to Peter Bouckaert, Human Rights emergencies director, who says that “ in every city we arrive, the first thing to disappear are the surface-to-air missiles.” According to Bouckaert, “They could turn all of North Africa into a no-fly zone.” 

One prediction: Niger has recently been using helicopters to attack the Tuareg-led Movement of Nigeriens for Justice in the Sahara. Tuaregs are demanding compensation for rich deposits of uranium that French companies are currently mining, and the Niger government has responded with military force. The Qaddafi government supported the Tuaregs in their fight with Niger, and supplied them with weapons. Want to make a bet that the Tuaregs end up with some of those missiles and that the Niger military is about to lose some helicopters? 

And the fall of Qaddafi may not end the fighting. Libya is a complex place with strong crosscurrents of tribe and ethnicity. For instance, it is unlikely that the Berbers in the south will accept continued domination by the Arab north. 


As for false history: journalism, as the old saw goes, is history’s first draft. According to the mainstream media, the U.S. and NATO got into the Libyan civil war to protect civilians, and indeed, one of the reasons the war has gone on so long is that NATO is reluctant to attack targets in Qaddafi strongholds, like Sirte, because such attacks might result in civilian casualties. 

Which makes it hard to explain the Agence France Presse story entitled “NATO, NTC [National Transitional Council] deadlier than Kadhafi diehards: Sirte escapees.” 

Sirte, Libya (AFP) Oct. 6, 2011-Fine words from NATO and Libyan new regime fighters about protecting civilians means little to the furious residents of Sirte, whose homes are destroyed and relatives killed in the battle to capture Moamer Kadhafi’s hometown. 

“Why is NATO bombing us?” asks Faraj Mussam, whose blue minivan was carrying his family of eight jammed in beside mattresses and suitcases as they fled the city this week.” 

According to the AFP story, the greatest danger civilians face in Sirte is from NATO bombs and shelling by NTC forces outside the city. A Red Cross official told AFP that there are still tens of thousands of residents in Sirte—it was a city of 100,000 before the February revolution—and they are under constant danger from artillery and bombs. 

“When asked if NATO was fulfilling its mission to protect civilians, one aid worker, who asked not to be named because he was not authorized to speak publicly, replied: ‘It wouldn’t seem so.’ 

“ ‘There’s a lot of indiscriminate fire,’ he said, adding that many of the Sirte residents and doctors he had spoken to had complained of the deadly results of NATO air strikes.” 

According to AFP, NTC soldiers say that firing artillery and rockets into Sirte doesn’t endanger civilians because they are all gone. It is a contention aid workers heatedly dispute. 

The UN resolution that authorized the NATO intervention was supposedly aimed at protecting Libyan civilians. It quickly morphed from saving lives to regime change, and somehow the “protect civilians” only seems to apply to those who are on one side of the civil war. Sooner or later that narrative is going to come out, and the next time “protecting civilians” comes up in the UN, it is unlikely to get serious consideration. 

More than 30 years ago the U.S. intervened in the Afghan civil war in order to goad our Cold War enemy into a fatal mistake (and then lied about it). We are still paying for that policy. 

Eight months ago the U.S. and its allies engineered an intervention in Libya’s civil war behind the cover of protecting civilians, a rationale that is increasingly being challenged by events in that country. 

What the “blowback” from the Libyan War is still unclear, it might be a bad idea to invest a lot of your money in commercial air travel, particularly anywhere in Africa, the Middle East or Central Asia. Qaddafi’s days may be numbered, but those SA-24s and SA-7s are going to be around for a long time. 

Read Conn Hallinan at dispatchesfromtheedgeblog.wordpress. com and middleempireseries.wordpress.com 


Senior Power: Happy Birthday, Betty Dukes

By Helen Rippier Wheeler
Thursday October 13, 2011 - 01:55:00 PM

Sex and gender are frequently-considered factors in employment. Sex is the biological status of the person; gender is the cultural notion of what it is to be a woman or a man, girl or boy. “Gender” has become standard usage, as if some people are unable to say the S word. 

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964: Equal Employment Opportunity prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. An employer who intentionally deprives a member of one or more of these classes from equal employment opportunities, is committing an unlawful act. It is very difficult for an employee to prove that the discrimination was intentional. 

In sex-and-age claims of discrimination in employment made by midlife and older women, plaintiffs are likely to hold professional, specialty or managerial positions. This might mean that midlife and older professional women are the most likely to be discriminated against based on their sex-and-age. Or, it might mean that professional women are the most likely to complain and to have the resources to pursue legal redress. 

Practices often challenged are those in which the employee either lost her job or lost a promotion. Facts may be relatively straightforward, e.g. an older woman is pushed out for “poor performance” after years of good evaluations, or a midlife woman is passed over for promotion in favor of a younger man. 

Midlife and older women may face discrimination on the basis of physical appearance, e.g. when employers prefer “attractive” women for jobs and equate women’s attractiveness with youth. In general, plaintiffs fare poorly when challenging defendants’ discrimination against women, especially older women, on the basis of physical appearance. This may be due in part to courts’ difficulty in understanding the combined effects of sex-and-age discrimination and how such discrimination can play out in stereotypes about physical attractiveness. Many age-related disabilities are caused by diseases that disproportionately affect older women, e.g. osteoporosis. 

In certain situations plaintiffs may have claims under some combination of three statutes: Title VII, ADEA, and ADA.  

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) forbids employment discrimination against anyone over the age of forty in the United States. In Kimel v. Florida Bd. of Regents, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the ADEA did not apply to employment practices of state governments. Note, however, that the EEOC states on its web site that the ADEA does apply to state and local governments. 

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a law that was enacted by the U.S. Congress in 1990, later amended with changes effective January 1, 2009. The ADA is a wide-ranging civil rights law that prohibits, under certain circumstances, discrimination based on disability. It affords similar protections against discrimination to Americans with disabilities as the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which made discrimination based on race, religion, sex, national origin, and other characteristics illegal. Disability is defined by the ADA as "a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity." The determination of whether any particular condition is considered a disability is made on a case by case basis, which has its drawbacks. Certain specific conditions are excluded as disabilities, e.g. current substance abuse and visual impairment correctable by prescription lenses. 


Midlife and older women may face employment discrimination solely because of their age, solely because of their sex, because of their age and sex separately (e.g. where an employer discriminates against older people in hiring decisions and also against women in pay) and because of the combination of their age-and-sex, e.g. when an employer will hire younger women or older men, but not older women.  

Rollins v. TechSouth, Inc. is a common scenario. Plaintiff presented evidence that could support a combined sex-and-age claim-- her supervisor’s comment that he didn’t like working with older women and that she looked good for her age, and evidence that she had been replaced by a younger man. But the court evaluated her claims of sex-and-age discrimination as completely distinct from one another. In most decisions, sex discrimination and age discrimination claims are treated as distinct and separate claims. Some courts recognize that older women make up a discrete protected subclass under relevant antidiscrimination laws. (I’m just not aware of any.) Cases refusing to recognize older women as a protected subclass have counterparts in the race-and-sex area. 

Dukes v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., a sexual discrimination lawsuit, was the largest civil rights class action in United States history. It charged Wal-Mart with discriminating against women in promotions, pay, and job assignments in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The case started in 2000. Fifty+ years old Betty Dukes, a Wal-Mart worker in California, filed a sex discrimination claim against her employer. She has been compared to Rosa Parks. 

Dukes claimed that, despite six years of hard work and excellent performance reviews, she was denied the training she needed to advance to a higher salaried position. Wal-Mart's position was that Dukes clashed with a female Wal-Mart supervisor and was disciplined for admittedly returning late from lunch breaks. In 2007, the case received district court class action certification, which was disputed by Wal-Mart. In 2009, the Ninth Circuit granted Wal-Mart's petition for rehearing on the class action certification; as a result, the December 2007 Ninth Circuit opinion was no longer effective. 

The U.S. Supreme Court in June 2011 rejected an effort on behalf of as many as one million female workers to sue Wal-Mart for discrimination, ruling in Wal-Mart's favor, saying the plaintiffs did not have enough in common to constitute a class. Filed in 2001, the suit aimed to cover every woman who worked at the retailer’s Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club’s stores at any point since December 1998, including those not hired until years after the suit was filed. The justices said the lawyers pressing the case failed to point to a common corporate policy that led to gender discrimination against workers at thousands of stores across the country. The court ruled unanimously that, because of the variability of plaintiffs' circumstances, the class action could not proceed as comprised and that it could not proceed as any kind of class action suit. 


Girls and women who step out of the role society assigns them can expect to become engulfed in a delay, divide, discredit syndrome. If a woman is emotionally and financially able to respond to discrimination based on her sex/gender, whether in academe, government, the public sector or home, she must survive while the defendant's firm of attorneys delays the investigation and trial. The defendant is often able to divide other victims and potential members of the class. If a plaintiff is able to get into court, she and any witnesses are subject to discredit. Myths and assumptions surround these heroes for the rest of their lives. Motivations may be endlessly attributed. Potential employers are especially wary of workers who are plaintiffs in class action suits. Many plaintiffs and witnesses who are former Wal-Mart employees have had trouble finding jobs. 

In September 2011, three months after winning dismissal of the gender-bias case from the U.S. Supreme Court, Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world’s largest retailer and private employer, unveiled a multibillion-dollar “women’s initiative.” The plan includes buying $20 billion of products from U.S. female-owned businesses in the next five years, training women to work in factories and retail worldwide, and providing $100+ million in grants to non-profit organizations aiding women. “We’re stepping up our efforts to help educate, source from and open markets for women around the world,” declared CEO Mike Duke. National Organization for Women (NOW) President Terry O'Neill, on ABC World News Tonight with Diane Sawyer, spoke about Wal-Mart’s multibillion-dollar initiative to purchase products from women-owned businesses: "I'm completely underwhelmed. This is a company that has systematically discriminated against women. And they think they can evade responsibilities, simply by a PR stunt."  

“The Wal-Mart public-relations machine is spinning overtime on this,” commented Wall Street Strategies analyst Brian Sozzi. “They are doing their best job to try and get out in front of any potential future lawsuits, while at the same time appear better in the cases remaining.” A Wal-Mart company spokesperson declared that increased support for women-owned suppliers was not related to the lawsuit. 

Wal-Mart may still face smaller gender discrimination lawsuits in lower courts and claims with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). 

When Betty Dukes charged female sex-discrimination in employment class action, she was middle-aged. Now she is a senior citizen.  


Featherstone, Liza. (1969- ). Selling Women Short: The Landmark Battle for Workers' Rights at Wal-Mart. 2004. Contends that Wal-Mart's success is based not only on its inexpensive merchandise or its popularity but also on bad labor practices. She repeated this charge in an article in The Nation

DeBeauvoir, Simone (1908-1986). The Coming of Age. 1970. 

“As a personal experience old age is as much a women’s concern as a man’s—even more so, indeed, since women live longer. But when there is speculation upon the subject, it is considered primarily in terms of men. In the first place, because the struggle for power concerns only the stronger sex.” 

Sontag, Susan (1933-2004). “The Double Standard of Aging,” Saturday Review Sept. 23, 1972, volume 55, pp. 29-38. Reprinted in, among other sources, The other within us: feminist explorations of women and aging, edited by Marilyn Pearsall. 1997.  


Older Americans are working longer. The labor force participation among those over age 65 has gone up dramatically in recent years. In 2010, more than 17% of those over 65 were in the labor force, up from around 11% in 1985. According to a 2011 analysis from the Urban Institute, adults age 50 and over comprised 31% of the labor force in 2010, up from 20 percent in 1995. 

Open enrollment for Medicare Part D prescription drug plans starts on Oct. 15 and ends Dec. 7. Visit the National Council on Aging at My Medicare Matters.org for guidance, as well as details on two programs that can make Medicare more affordable for low-income seniors. If you don’t use a computer, call 1-800-Medicare. Note: The 2012 Medicare & You official U.S. government Medicare handbook is being distributed; it is also online. The chart starting on page 147 is the best source of Prescription Drug Plans information. 

A new study finds that dietary supplements may harm older women. Researchers say that iron, vitamin B6 and others might increase the risk of death. The full report was published in the Oct. 10 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine. And I’ll add magnesium. Brown University researchers report that the percentage of nursing home residents in the United States who receive a seasonal flu shot is lower than the national goal, and that the rate is lower for blacks than for whites. Both are online at October 5 and 10, 2011 HealthDay. 


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


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

Thursday, Oct. 13. 10:30 A.M. New Member Orientation & YOU! Mastick Senior Center, 1155 Santa Clara Avenue, Alameda. Guided tour outlining the various activities, programs, and services, and a coupon to enjoy a complimentary lunch provided by Bay Area Community Services (BACS)! Reserve by visiting the Mastick Office or calling 510-747-7506. 

Friday, Oct. 14. 12:15 P.M. Free. Berkeley Brass Quintet concert. UC,B Hertz Hall. 


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

Monday, Oct. 17. 9:30 A.M.- 12:30 P.M. Beaded Jewelry Making. Rose O’Neill, Custom Jewelry Designer. Beads and tools will be supplied unless you would like to go “green” and redesign beads already in your possession. Limited to 10 students. $15 per person. Mastick Senior Center, 1155 Santa Clara Avenue, Alameda. 510-747-7506. (Also Mondays, Nov 21 and Dec 19.) 

Monday October 17. 12:30 PM - 1:30 PM Albany YMCA/Albany Library Brown Bag Lunch Speaker's Forum: Fred Setterberg, Lunch Bucket Paradise has been described as "postwar dreams of a working-class California suburb, and the struggles—comic, tragic, and triumphant—of those who came of age in that time and place.”Contact Ronnie Davis 510-526-3720 x16 rdavis@aclibrary.org 

Monday, Oct. 17. 2 P.M.-3:30 P.M. Queue Rolo, M.A., M.S., Museum Studies, SFSU, will present “W.A.Leidesdorff: America’s 1st Black Millionaire.” Free for OLLI and Mastick Senior Center members. MastickSenior Center, 1155 Santa Clara Avenue, Alameda. 510-747-7506. 

Tuesday, Oct. 18. 12:30 P.M. San Francisco Gray Panthers General Meeting: Program to be announced. Location: Fireside Room, Unitarian Center, 1187 Franklin St. at Geary, # 38 bus. 415-552-8800. graypanther-sf@sbcglobal.net, http://graypantherssf.igc.org/ 

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. 

Wednesday, Oct. 19. 1:30 P.M. Alameda County Library San Lorenzo branch, 395 Paseo Grande. 510-670-6283. Social Security Administration Public Affairs Specialist Mariaelena Lemus will address older adults’ questions and present information specifically for them. Program repeats at other branches through December. No reservations required. Free. Library Older Adult Services at 510-745-1491. 

Wednesday, Oct. 19. 7 P.M. – 8 P.M. The Bookeeper’s Apprentice, by Laurie R. King. Book discussion. Alameda County Library Albany Branch, 1247 Marin Av. 510-526-3720. (On Sunday, Oct. 23 @ 2 PM, the author will read and speak. Albany Community Center.)  

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

Sunday, Oct. 23. 2 P.M. – 3 P.M. The Albany Library (1247 Marin Av.) presents Laurie King, the author of Albany Reads book, The Beekeeper’s Apprentice. Community Center Hall. 510-526-3720.
Mondays, Oct. 24, 26 and 31. 10A.M. – 12 Noon. Oliver Guinn, Ph.D Economics, returns to teach “Our Damaged Economy: The Financial Meltdown and Economic Inequality.” Free. Mastick Senior Center, 1155 Santa Clara Avenue, Alameda. 510-747-7506. 

Tuesday, Oct. 25. 1 P.M. AC Transit and YOU! Representatives from United Seniors of Oakland and Alameda County will inform about the Regional Transit Connection (RTC) Discount Card Program and the Clipper Card, route changes, and the 10-year AC Transit Fare Policy. Refreshments. Free. MastickSenior Center, 1155 Santa Clara Avenue, Alameda. 510-747-7506. 

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. 510-981-6100. 

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 P.M. Berkeley Gray Panthers meets at North Berkeley Senior Center, 1901 Hearst, corner of MLK. Free. 510-548-9696. 

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 short story. Facilitated discussion. Books 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 about misuse of psychotropic drugs as treatment for dementia, difficulty in managing dementia treatment, and 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. http://ossmc.givezooks.com/events/dementia-care-without-drugs-a-better-approach. 

Thursday, Oct. 27. 12:30 P.M. Celebrating a birthday in October? Cake, music, 

balloons, and good cheer. Mastick Senior Center, 1155 Santa Clara Avenue, Alameda. . 510-747-7506. 

Thursday, Oct. 27 1 P.M.- 3 P.M. Fall Dance…Halloween Stomp. Come in costume 

to be eligible for “best costume award”, enjoy door prizes, and refreshments. Volunteers enter free with volunteer badge. Cost is $2.00 per person. . Mastick Senior Center, 1155 Santa Clara Avenue, Alameda. . 510-747-7506. 

Thursday, Oct. 27 1:30 P.M. Music Appreciation with William Sturm, Volunteer Instructor. Piano recital and discussion on “The Sceptered Isle: Music of England”. Mastick Senior Center, 1155 Santa Clara Avenue, Alameda. 510-747-7506. 

Saturday, Oct. 29. 12:15 P.M. Halloween Bingo Bash. Patrons will receive a free Halloween dauber (ink marker) compliments of Center Advisory Board and Bingo Committee. Doors open at 10:00 a.m. with the first game at 12:15 P.M. 18 years of age+ are welcome. Mastick Senior Center, 1155 Santa Clara Av. 510-747-7506. 


Tuesday November 1. 12:00 PM - 2:00 PM League of Women Voters. Albany Library, 1247 Marin Av. Contact: Ronnie Davis 510-526-3720 X16 The League of Women Voters invites you to join them. 

Wednesday, November 2. 1 P.M. Mastick Book Club members review Mastick Senior Center, 1155 Santa Clara Av., Alameda. One Day by David Nicholls will be reviewed. 510-747-7506, -7510. Free. 

Wednesday, November 2. 6-8 P.M Lawyer in the Library. Free. Albany Library. 1247 Marin Av. 510-526-0660 

Wednesday, Nov 2. 7 P.M. Democracy For America Meetup – Pizza 6:30 P.M., Presentation at 7:00 P.M. Rockridge Library, 5433 College Ave, Oakland. . Cindy Young, Statewide Campaign Coordinator for the California Single Payer Coalition, will explain how the California Universal Health Care Act, SB810 will affect you and how to support its passage. Co-sponsored with the Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club. Contact Nancy M. Friedman at nmf123@pacbell.net 

Thursday, November 3. 1:30 P.M. SOCIAL SECURITY & MEDICARE. Albany branch of the Alameda County Library, 1247 Marin Av. 510-526-3720. Free workshop. Speaker Mariaelena Lemus from the Social Security Administration. For older adults, family members, service providers. Reservations not required. Continuing into December, program will be presented throughout the Alameda County Library system; for a list of dates and locations, check the Alameda County Library system website. Older Adult Services at 510-745-1491. 

Thursday, Nov. 3. 6 P.M. Lawyers in the Library at South branch, Berkeley. 1901 Russell. 510-981-6260. 

Friday, Nov. 4. 6 P.M. Legal Assistance for Seniors’ 35th Anniversary Gala. Oakland Marriott City Center Ballroom, 1001 Broadway. 510-832-3040.  

Wednesday, Nov. 9. 6:30-8 P.M. Drop-in poetry writing workshop. Free. Albany Library. 1247 Marin Av. 510-526-0660. 

Saturday, Nov. 12. 12 Noon. Beef Bowl Anime Club Meeting for adults. Albany Library, 1247 Marin Av. Contact: Ronnie Davis(510) 526-3720 x16. 

Monday, Nov. 14. 12 Noon. J-Sei Center, 1710 Carleton St., Berkeley. Monday Senior Center Lecture. “Do You Have The Right Insurance?” Speaker: Darrell Doi – CLTC Financial Advisor/Long Term Care Specialist. To place a reservation for the lecture and/or lunch at 11:30am, call 510-883-1106. 

Monday, Nov. 14. 12:30 -1:30 P.M. Albany YMCA/Albany Library Brown Bag Lunch Speaker’s Forum: Bob Lewis, Birds of the Bay Trail . Bob will illustrate this talk with images of birds seen along the Bay shoreline and will discuss identification, migration, feeding habits and nesting. Contact: Ronnie Davis 510-526-3720 x16.  

Tuesday, November 15. 1 P.M. Falls Prevention Discussion Group. Join Tina Maria Scott, Community Health Outreach Worker, with the Senior Injury Prevention Program—Senior Injury Prevention Project, for a Falls Prevention Discussion Group. Focus will be on factors that cause falls. Areas that will be discussed are Changing Behaviors, Nutrition & Medication Management, Fitness, and Home Safety Checklist by way of “Show & Tell”. Participants will receive a Falls Prevention Manual and other useful information that is easy to read. 

Tuesday, November 15. Annual National Memory Screening Day. http:///www.nationalmemoryscreening.org  

Saturday, Nov. 19. 10 A.M. – 4 P.M. Friends of the Albany Library Book Sale. 1247 Marin Av. Please do not bring donations the week prior to the sale. Contact: Ronnie Davis 510-526-3720 x16 rdavis@aclibrary.org Also Sunday, Nov. 20 from 11-4 P.M.
Thursday, November 23. 1:30 – 2:30 P.M. Free. Albany Library. 1247 Marin Av. 510-526-0660. Great Books Discussion Group: John Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley 


Arts & Events

New: Kronos Quartet Resets the Clock

By Lou Fancher
Wednesday October 19, 2011 - 11:02:00 AM

You're too late to catch the Kronos Quartet’s most recent one night stand on the UC Berkeley Campus, but don't despair: they return February 12 at 7 p.m. to Hertz Hall. Their appearance in the same venue earlier this month was a revelation.

Not content to simply play masterfully while representing acclaimed composer Steve Reich’s grand themes of terror and peace, Kronos Quartet used bow and string to transcend the limits of time and place.

It was Sunday, October 9th, 2011, at Berkeley’s Hertz Hall, and yet, it was not. 

Following the pulsing trajectory of Reich’s signature repetitions, Kronos violinists David Harrington and John Sherba, violist Hank Dutt and cellist Jeffrey Zeigler presented four works, including the Bay Area premiere of WTC 9/11, composed in response to the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center. 

The composer, whose works have been inspected, analyzed, and declared “pioneering” for their minimalism, has developed thick, multi-layered profiles in more recent compositions. Submarine themes rise to the surface in both subtle and obvious ways, but always, there is a pounding, forward-leaning momentum to the music. 

Triple Quartet (1999), its three movements played without pause, drove listeners up jagged Alpine slopes with its feverish energy. Lighting Designer Laurence Neff’s blue lights glinted off the instruments and cast angular, marine shadows across the stage floor, extending the cool, edginess of the sound. A swirling adagio section allowed respite, as if to catch one’s breath, before the final movement returned to a vigorous, uphill battle to reach the summit. 

It was Berkeley, and it was Switzerland. 

Selections from The Cave (1993) developed from transcribed phrases chosen for their melodic content. With an underlying pulse reminiscent of a heart monitor or car alarm (one, you want to continue; one, you pray will stop), the work gained intensity from blurted vocal fragments (recorded) and percussive instrumentation (live). Middle Eastern influences signaled a mournful cello solo, with Zeigler’s extended droning accompanied by a muffled, prison-crowd-like recording. 

The third work before intermission was the eagerly-awaited WTC 9/11. Here then, is where Reich’s musical topography reached both into the past, with phone and fire alarms, and into the future, with the quartet’s instruments assuming a textual, nearly spoken voice. 

The triple decker delivery—three string quartets twisting into one, with occasionally indecipherable recorded words featuring residents and fire department personnel remembering the tragic day—swept the sold-out audience out of the present. 

A comment, overheard in the lobby during intermission, said it all: “I felt like I was right there, on the street. I couldn’t breathe.” 

The final piece, Different Trains, was the most compelling compilation of voice and instrument. Sweeping from recordings of Holocaust survivors telling their stories to American and European trains to the buoyant voice of retired Pullman porter Lawrence Davis, the spoken samples embraced all of history. It was war, Reich’s own cross-continental travel after his parents’ divorce, and every traveler in Hertz Hall’s memory of real or imagined journeys. 

The three movements revealed another Reich hallmark: sweet swells signaling the end of breath-taking runs with either an exhausted sigh, or a death defying leap into silence. A silence broken finally, after seconds of rest, by the lengthy applause from the time travelers in Berkeley.

Around & About Theater, Music--& John Malkovich: The Infernal Comedy, Friday at Zellerbach

By Ken Bullock
Tuesday October 18, 2011 - 11:17:00 AM

I've been on the road nonstop since 1982," says John Malkovich, speaking of his career for a CNN mini-doc (which can be viewed online—click on "Multimedia" under the photo of Malkovich) ... and comments on his reputation for playing psycho heavies: "they're only talking about four or five films that happened to make hundreds of millions of dollars." 

Malkovich's comments and wry tributes by Glenn Close and Antony Hopkins serve to introduce snippets of his unusual stage project—his first flush of celebrity was in 1980 onstage at the Steppenwolf in Chicago, and Obies for True West and Death of a Salesman—The Infernal Comedy, the true-life story of an Austrian Don Juan and serial killer, starring Malkovich, two operatic sopranos—and the Musica Angelica Baroque Ensemble, this Friday night at Zellerbach Auditorium. 

Playing Jack Unterweger, back from the grave to push his autobiography by reading and acting it out to compositions from Vivaldi and Gluck to Beethoven and von Weber, Malkovich has plenty of opportunity to address the audience, interact with the singers—and improvise, making each performance different. The script was written especially for the show by writer-director Michael Sturminger, of whom Malkovich says "I feel I finally met the person who I should be working with." (Malkovich also serves as co-director.) 

Unterweger was sentenced to life imprisonment in Austria in 1976 for killing a young girl, but his book Purgatory became a best-seller, and he was released as a model prisoner in 1990, only to kill more women—almost a dozen in all—on two continents. 

In the midst of a world tour, stretching from St. Petersburg and Tblisi to Lima and Rio, Malkovich and his team—Sturminger and music director Michael Haselboeck (in Berkeley, the orchestra will be led by guest conductor Adrian Kelly)—have already premiered a new piece, The Giacomo Variations, with Malkovich as Casanova to music by Mozart, touring next year. 

"Such a warm-hearted, reliable man!" enthuses writer-director Sturminger about his star—while Malkovich, rehearsing with a soprano, declares: "She's dead—and miked!" 

Additional information and the script, with compositions to be played, at: theinfernalcomedy.org 

Friday at 8, Zellerbach Auditorium, Cal Performances—$20-$140. 642-9988; calperformances.org

Eye From the Aisle: Rep’s HOW to Write a NEW Book for the Bible—too funny, often too tragic to abide

By John A. McMullen II
Tuesday October 18, 2011 - 09:09:00 AM
Linda Gehringer as Mary
Linda Gehringer as Mary

How to Write a NEW Book for the Bible, now playing its world premiere at Berkeley Rep, is written by a recently successful playwright Bill Cain, S.J. Many of you of The Faith or not will recognize the letters: Cain is also a Jesuit priest.

It seems like a play written by a priest. It is about ministering to the sick, about keeping watch, about the most profoundly prolonged last rites as he moves in with his cancer-riddled, pain-oppressed, dying mother to care for her in her last days.  

There is an equation about tragedy that has to do with distance. The night I attended there was a contingent of young people in the audience. I venture that it may have been more digestible for them than for much of the elder crowd.  

If you’ve ever gone home for a while, or had to clean out an apartment of a departed loved one, the found pictures and mementos bring on strong reverie. That’s the substance of this play. That, and elevating to a sacrament the tragedy of a domestic, ordinary life and its inevitable, terrible end. 

It brought to mind Mel Gibson’s film, “The Passion of the Christ,” wherein the lashes and blows just kept falling incessantly for two hours. I remember as a sensitive child weeping at the Stations of the Cross, a Good Friday Catholic ritual which documents in detail the last excruciating 15 -odd hours of my childhood hero Jesus. When I saw the movie, wincing at each lash and pang, I just wished for it to be over and for peace to be bestowed. The same pleading went on in my head from the extraordinarily believable performance of Linda Gehringer. 

We see Mother Mary’s endurance and dignity replete with her flashbacks to her late husband Pete who was a great dancer, but it is through the eye of Billy the Priest and Writer we see the family and its culture. His diary-based detail of her pain and decline, of the doctors, of her fugues, her medicines, their spats, his frustrations, are played against his remembrance of a childhood in an honest if demanding, loving family who never went to bed mad. Their names, Peter, Paul, and Mary, are appropriately biblical, and are ironically the actual names of his parents and brother to whom he dedicates the play. The metaphor is that every family is holy and legendary and should have its history recorded as a lasting commemoration and lesson. This comes from a celibate man who will not be continuing his lineage. Plato opined that we get our immortality by communing with great thoughts, through our progeny, and through leaving works after us; we childless must opt for two out of three.  

It is sweet. It is tragic. It is often droll and occasionally belly-laugh funny. And it is too awful to sit through. In the midst of the second act, I wept uncontrollably, vainly trying to stifle my sobs with hands pressed to face so as not to disturb my neighbors. Ordinarily, my urges to flee the theatre are based on tedium, but if I had been actually on the aisle, I think I would have slipped out in desperation. Perhaps my own situation and guilt and memories intrude. Perhaps this is better viewed from the distant perspective of a younger person. But in the lobby afterwards, others talked about the impact and the power. The word is excruciating, as in crucify, which comes from crucifare which means “to torture.”  

The acting is superb with Tyler Pierce as a buff and hunky Billy, a priest/playwright/screenwriter with a thick head of hair, narrating our journey into the hell of cancer. Leo Marks and Aaron Blakely play multiple parts of father, brother, doctor, hairdresser, and more, with ease and aplomb.  

Scott Bradley’s minimal and imaginistic set is just right for this epic tale. Most of the set is suspended in plain sight though a little above, and descends at intervals to dress the stage—just like everyone’s family history—and is thus a functional metaphor. Alexander Nichol’s lighting is noteworthy, with insets of up-light in a moving fraternal scene in a pilgrimage to The Wall in D.C. with his Viet Nam veteran brother Paul. Director Kent Nicholson sustains the energy with imaginative blocking and fluid changes, and handles well the reprised, potentially difficult ending. 

Cain has twice been awarded the Steinberg/American Theatre Critics prize in successive years, a unique record. He won for “Equivocation,” his speculative history about Shakespeare’s demand commission by Elizabeth I’s government to write a contemporary play about the Gunpowder Plot, and “9 Circles”—after Dante’s work—about the Iraq war and prisoners, another form of hell, which premiered at the Marin Theatre Company also under Nichols direction. 


At Berkeley Repertory Theatre 

Thrust Stage, 2025 Addison Street @ Shattuck, Berkeley 

(510) 647-2949 – www.berkeleyrep.org 


Through November 20, 2011 


Directed by Kent Nicholson, set by Scott Bradley, costumes by Callie Floor (costumes), lighting by Alexander V. Nichols, and sound by Matt Starritt. 


WITH: Aaron Blakely (Paul), Linda Gehringer (Mary), Leo Marks (Pete), and Tyler Pierce (Bill) 



John A. McMullen II is a member of SDC, SFBATCC, and ATCA, with an MFA from CMU (abcdefg!) Editing by E J Dunne.

Press Release: School Violence: Myths and Reality - Rescheduled - A Discussion with Annette Fuentes and Jody Sokolower at the Berkeley Public Library, Tuesday, November 1 at 6 p.m.

From the Berkeley Public Library
Wednesday October 19, 2011 - 11:02:00 AM

Berkeley Public Library invites you to participate in a discussion of the myths and reality of school violence with Annette Fuentes and Jody Sokolower. Author Annette Fuentes and editor Jody Sokolower will speak about zero tolerance discipline and the school to prison pipeline in the community meeting room at the Berkeley Public Library’s Central Library, 2090 Kittredge Street, at 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, November 1. Annette Fuentes spent two years as an investigative reporter researching discipline systems in public schools. The result is her recently published book Lockdown High: When the Schoolhouse Becomes a Jailhouse which traces the penetration of prison culture into daily life in public schools. Jody Sokolower is co-editor of Rethinking Schools, a magazine about social justice education for K-12 teachers and education activists. Her work is informed by years of experience as a teacher in public schools including six years at Berkeley High School. Join us for what promises to be a lively discussion of the way education policy impacts violence in our public schools. Please note this is a rescheduled date for this event since the original presentation was canceled due to a power outage. 

Berkeley’s Central Library is open Monday 12 noon until 8 p.m., Tuesday 10 a.m. until 8 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. until 6 p.m., and Sunday afternoons from 1 p.m. till 5 p.m. For more info please call 510-981-6195 or visit www.berkeleypubliclibrary.org. Wheelchair accessible. To request a sign language interpreter or other accommodations for this event, please call (510) 981-6195 (voice) or (510) 548-1240 (TTY); at least three working days will help ensure availability. Please refrain from wearing scented products to public programs.

Open Houses for LBNL Campus at Golden Gate Fields

By Zelda Bronstein
Monday October 17, 2011 - 04:51:00 PM

Meet the developers, view their latest (revised) proposal for Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory's second campus, tell them what you think.

Meetings will take place at the racetrack from 4-7 pm. on the following dates: 

  • Monday, October 17, "The New Plan for LBNL at GGF incorporating recent public input;"
  • Monday, October 24, Landscape Design;
  • Tuesday, November 1, the "sustainability model for LBNL at GGF will be explained by the project technical design team."

For more information, go to www.LBNLatGGF.com