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What Matters About Occupy Berkeley (News Analysis)

By Ted Friedman
Friday December 16, 2011 - 07:40:00 PM
Keeping the faith. At an Occupy Berkeley general assembly last month. They still show up at 6, all but Mondays, for G.A.
Ted Friedman
Keeping the faith. At an Occupy Berkeley general assembly last month. They still show up at 6, all but Mondays, for G.A.

In October, we reported that Occupy Berkeley was on a collision course with city officials ("Is Occupy Berkeley on a Collision Course With Berkeley?" Planet, Oct. 28). 

It was then an open question, but more than a month later, as enterprising reporters for mainstream media have reported overall high camp crime statistics (but compared to what?) and quoted "the usual suspects," the question is tightening. When will Occupy Berkeley end? 

The nascent history of the international Occupy movement is rife with encampment crackdowns—followed by mass evictions. More than a few stories in the Planet (not always mine) have hinted at possible city reversal of its open-arms response to OB. 

As some city officials, reportedly, distance themselves from OB, daily assistance in MLK Park, by outreach workers, and volunteers representing free clinics, and churches continues—an outpouring of Berkeley-citizen support. 

Official explanations for the evictions of Occupy protests around the nation cite crime, sanitation, and negative neighborhood impact—the same problems facing OB. 

Occupy Berkeley has absorbed evictees from both San Francisco and Oakland, driving away all-but-a-few Berkeley protesters who once camped in Civic Center Park, across the street from old Berkeley City Hall, the Berkeley Police Department, and Berkeley High School. 

In on-line discussions and in "working groups," some of which are closed to the public—unlike the general assembly, which is "come-on-down"—Occupy Berkeleyans are expressing dissatisfaction with the swelling tent city, which has stolen its kitchen and its good name. 

What to do? 

In twelve Planet articles since the inception of OB, the picture of a movement in conflict has emerged. There remains among OB, a steadfast contingent of camp supporters clinging to what is seen as the right of assembly and free speech in Civic Center, and another contingent favoring removing the OB brand from the park, essentially taking its marbles out of the troubled encampment's game. 

Which of OB's contingent groups will forge its future—if it has a future—remains to be worked out. But by whom? The general assembly, constipated from an open-mike discussion of pins and needles? Or working groups which form, then disappear? 

The Occupy movement began as a popular ideal—wage equity for all Americans, and a government independent of Wall Street's influence. Occupy's ideal swept the world, like history-changing political movements, and revolutions of the past. 

Geoffrey Nunnberg, a linguistics professor in U.C. Berkeley's School of Information, and a regular commentator on National Public Radio selected Occupy as "this years most significant word." (Dec. 7). 

Nunnberg's selection of Occupy as a word of significance may have its own significance—that Occupy has become embedded in public consciousness like "No taxation without representation" or"whatever." 

In fact, spin-offs, if not spoofs, of the Occupy movement are building fast. Occupy this. It is possible that, because of the multitude of word games made possible by the open accessibility of the word occupy that Occupy will become a laughing-stock, like "a chicken in every pot." 

Occupy Yourself, a commentary by yours truly (Planet: Nov 9), an intended humorous satire of consumerism and lust for wealth, was interpreted by a complaining reader as a put-down of Occupy. Was my "Occupy Yourself" piece humor-too-soon? 

According to the more than 500 Occupy yourself entries on-line (and a million and a half hits), my piece was too soon. In fact, my piece was archived fourteenth. By page forty-two of Google search page results—humor, ads, tee-shirts, and mugs join the pile-on. 

An Occupy Yourself Movement is announced on Google (search result page, 38), and Deepak Chopra weighs in (page 37) with spiritual advice for self-occupiers. Occupy-mania is only now beginning to ebb on-line, but it sure did go viral at first, like its sponsor organization, Occupy Wall Street. 

Cokie Roberts, a senior news analyst for NPR, recently reported Occupy's influence on legislative initiatives from Democrats in Congress. She is not alone. Time magazine which, Dec. 7, picked the Occupy Movement as the news story of the year, observed that President Obama was "echoing its [the movement's] message." 

Perhaps the Occupy Movement has made its mark—even if it never defined its mark. 

Occupys everywhere are in transition. A transition away from tents, kitchens, and toilets. A transition to international icon and realizable ideals. 

The challenge facing the Occupy Movement now is to keep its ideals alive, and to support leaders, who truly believe in these ideals, and who can be seen trying to achieve Occupy's ideals. 

Politically incorrect: "Remember the Alamo, Remember the Maine; Remember Pearl Harbor." 

Politically correct: Remember Occupy! 

Ted Friedman, known by some Berkeley occupiers as "uncle Ted," vows to "Remember Occupy," and might even be moved to actually do some more reporting on it.

Occupy Berkeley Health and Safety Plan

By Councilmember Jesse Arreguin
Thursday December 15, 2011 - 07:29:00 PM

To: Christine Daniel, Interim City Manager

Michael Meehan, Chief of Police

From: Councilmember Jesse Arreguín


Consider the proposed strategies to develop an Occupy Berkeley Health and Safety Plan for immediate implementation.


The Occupy Movement, which began in New York several months ago with the Occupy Wall Street protests, has spread to cities throughout the country, including Berkeley. The Occupy Movement’s aim is to raise awareness of economic inequality in the United States in which a small percentage of people benefit disproportionately at the expense of the majority. It also seeks to address economic inequality and many other inequitable features of our society by highlighting the causes of our current economic crisis due to the lack of accountability of banks and other corporations and the effect it has had on everyday Americans, from unemployment to foreclosures.

The goal of Occupy Wall Street, as stated in their “Declaration of the Occupation of New York City” is to take action, as well as support others in the taking of action, to exercise their legal right to peacefully assemble and occupy public space, and to create a process to address the problems we face and generate solutions accessible to everyone. Occupation has been the main form of direct action employed by the Occupy movement.

On November 8, 2011, the Berkeley City Council publicly endorsed the Occupy movement and its goals.

In solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street movement and with other encampments throughout the Bay Area, such as in Oakland, the Occupy Berkeley encampment was formed at the corner of Shattuck and Center Street on October 15, 2011.
Over the next few weeks as the encampment grew, it relocated to Civic Center Park.

Throughout the progression of the Occupy Movement, issues endemic to prolonged encampments have arisen, such as sanitation and public safety. There have been varying responses from other municipalities ranging from cooperation to mitigate impacts to forceful, and sometimes violent, eviction.

City staff have monitored and addressed problems at the Occupy Berkeley encampment as they have arisen. They have also maintained communication with people camping in Civic Center Park and have worked with them to address issues concerning public health and safety. However, the encampment has increased in size in the last several weeks, particularly after the disbandment of other Occupy encampments in nearby cities. Consequently, the volume of public safety and health issues has also increased.

Given the growth of the encampment over the past few weeks and the resulting public safety and health problems, the City should develop a new approach to enforce city laws to protect public health and safety, but consistent with the City’s longstanding values of compassion and social justice. Such an approach should recognize that with effective enforcement and cooperation, preserving health and safety in the Park and respecting the right to free speech and assembly are not mutually exclusive.

While City staff and the Berkeley Police Department have regularly patrolled the park and have worked with people who are camping to address health and safety issues, camping in the park as a form of political expression is a privilege and anyone who wishes to camp in the park should abide by city laws to maintain the safety of those in the Park and throughout the community. Clearly communicating and enforcing the laws by which all people who wish to use the park must abide will proactively address problems so that those problems do not rise to the level of an imminent threat to public safety, while still allowing all law-abiding individuals who wish to camp in the park to remain.


Create a safer and healthier environment at Civic Center Park while continuing to support the Occupy Movement consistent with City Council’s adopted support of the Occupy movement. 



Utilize effective enforcement in cooperation with Occupy Berkeley to decrease and prevent crime within and around the encampment, and to improve and maintain sanitary conditions of the Park. 



Many of the issues related to public health and safety stem from individuals ignoring park rules and city laws, such as the smoking, consumption of alcohol or drugs, littering, having dogs off leashes etc. The sense by some participants of the encampment is that many laws can be willfully ignored because of the perception of lax enforcement. Additionally, there is a sense that most of the serious violations are committed by problem participants that have come in from out of town and express an unwillingness to cooperate. Some of the problems resulting from the encampment include drinking in public, urination in public, assault and battery, carrying dangerous weapons, and drug use. All of these forms of behavior are completely unacceptable and will not be tolerated. The growing number of assaults and other illegal behavior poses a threat to public safety, which must be immediately addressed. By clear education and enforcement of city laws, we can send a message to people who are participating in the encampment that such behavior with not be tolerated and those individuals who consistently violate the law will not be allowed to return to Civic Center Park for a specified period of time.

The following laws and any other laws necessary to maintaining public health and safety must continue to be clearly communicated to all people camping in Civic Center Park and any violations will result in penalties and possible removal consistent with the Zero Tolerance Policy outlined below.

  • Possession of weapons
  • Assault and Battery
  • Theft
  • Smoking
  • Drinking in public and presence of open containers
  • Drug use and possession
  • Littering
  • Off leash dogs and not cleaning up after dogs
  • Excessive noise at late hours

The following Zero Tolerance Policy is designed to address these enforcement issues: 



  • All violations of the Law and park rules, with the exception of camping in the park overnight, shall be strictly enforced with appropriate citation or arrest.

  • Any individual at Civic Center Park who commits a serious or violent crime or repeatedly violates the Law subsequent to the Zero Tolerance Policy going into effect shall be ejected from the park and subject to a Stay Away Order for the duration of the Occupy encampment. A violation of the Stay Away Order shall result in immediate arrest.

  • Prior to the implementation of the Occupy Berkeley Safety Plan, a public announcement of this Zero Tolerance Policy should be clearly communicated with the participants of the Occupy Berkeley encampment, including the possibility of posting signage in the park informing all people who use and are camping in the park that any violation of these rules will result in citation, arrest or removal from the park.

Such a Zero Tolerance Policy will need a judicious use of our limited police resources. An increased police presence at strategic or sensitive times, as we already have done in cooperation with Berkeley High School during lunch and after school, will serve as a deterrent to many violations and will enable a more effective monitoring of the encampment to actively cite any violations and prohibit any habitual or serious offenders from coming back to the park. The City should consider asking the Host Ambassador’s to assist in monitoring at specific times of the day.

Since the inception of Occupy Berkeley at Civic Center Park, the City Manager’s office has cooperatively worked with Occupy Berkeley relating to public health issues, and communicated the City’s expectations. Additionally, the City Manager’s office has provided reasonable accommodations to help mitigate the impacts of the encampment, such as additional trash receptacles. Due to the recent surge in issues resulting from the growth of the encampment, however, clear expectations and standards must be made clear to all people camping in the park to ensure that they comply with appropriate city laws to protect health and safety or appropriate enforcement action will be taken.

An essential component of the Occupy Berkeley Health and Safety Plan should include extensive outreach to participants in need of shelter and/or services. This includes outreach by City staff and appropriate case workers to enter the encampment to offer homeless services and shelter.

City staff should also consider the idea of limiting the number of tents. Additionally, continued multiple violations of these laws and the Zero Tolerance Policy, an imminent threat to public safety or a failure of participants to maintain an acceptable level of public health at the Park may result in the City evaluating the removal of the encampment. 


Some people have asked why, if there has have been so many problems, doesn’t the City just remove the encampment?

Immediate physical removal of the encampment is not a viable option at this time. Given that Berkeley’s Occupy encampment is one of the last major encampments in the Bay Area, all eyes are now on Berkeley to see what we will do. We have seen how other cities have responded to encampments. Oakland, for example, has had a series of police actions to remove encampments after the initial eviction that involved excessive use of force. Oakland and San Francisco’s removal of their encampments only emboldened the occupiers to set up more camps and to occupy space even longer, complicating any resolution and increasing costs. 


Ultimately, the City Manager’s office and City staff should consider a reasonable date in which the encampment should transition to a daily demonstration or other forms of political assembly, consistent with city law limiting the use of city parks until 10 p.m. 


In keeping with Berkeley’s values as a compassionate and thoughtful city, we respect people’s right to political assembly; however, preserving public safety and public health is paramount. Any efforts to end the encampment should be a last resort after all reasonable efforts are exhausted and done in consultation and coordination to the extent possible with individuals camping in Civic Center Park. Any removal should not involve a large amount of police, unless critical to the preservation of public safety, and should not involve use of force or destruction of property. 



Jesse Arreguín, Councilmember, District 4 981-7140

Press Release: City Councilmember Arreguin Proposes Plan to Improve Health and Safety of Occupy Berkeley Encampment

From Anthony Sanchez
Thursday December 15, 2011 - 06:40:00 PM

Berkeley City Councilmember Jesse Arreguín submitted to Interim Berkeley City Manager Christine Daniel and Berkeley Chief of Police Michael Meehan this morning a Health and Safety Plan to address growing crime and public health issues at the ongoing Occupy Berkeley encampment.  

The Occupy Berkeley encampment, which was established on October 15, 2011 in solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street movement, has grown considerably over the past few weeks, as individuals from other encampments that have been disbanded have come to Berkeley. With the growing number of people camping in Civic Center Park, health and safety problems have also increased. 

Because of the growing encampment and the need to immediately address these issues to protect public health and safety, Councilmember Arreguín has put forward this plan to increase city enforcement of city laws and to implement new tools to protect the safety of people in the park and in the surrounding community while allowing law-abiding participants to continue camping as a form of political expression. 

“I strongly support the Occupy movement and its calls for economic equality for the 99% and I have wholeheartedly supported the right of individuals to camp as a form of political expression. Nevertheless, recent criminal behavior in Civic Center Park poses a threat to the safety of people who are camping in the park and the surrounding community and it is critical that we act immediately to preserve public health and safety,” Arreguín said. 

“This plan makes it clear to those individuals who wish to participate in the encampment that certain city laws are important to preserve the safety of everyone and will be rigorously enforced. Most participants are law-abiding and have a deep respect for the community. However, this plan is directed at the 1% of the participants who, ironically, have no respect for our community, our laws, and the 99% they purport to represent. This plan provides for new enforcement tools to prevent problem individuals from coming back to the park.” 

“All eyes are on Berkeley now to see what we will do. In keeping with Berkeley’s values as a compassionate and thoughtful city, we respect people’s right to political assembly and we hold public health and safety as paramount. This plan rightly recognizes that both values are not mutually exclusive and that a safe and healthy Occupy Berkeley encampment for the time being is a goal worth not abandoning.” 

The Occupy Berkeley Health and Safety Plan proposes that Berkeley Police and City staff immediately enforce a number of city laws and implement a Zero Tolerance Policy, which will result in citations, arrest -if necessary- and removal from Civic Center Park through the use of administrative Stay Away Orders for people who repeatedly violate city laws or pose a threat to public safety. 

Councilmember Arreguin will be meeting with the City Manager’s office to discuss next steps in implementing this plan.

Training the Police: SWAT US 2011 (Sidebar)

From the Urban Shield web site
Thursday December 15, 2011 - 08:47:00 AM

During the 2011 Alameda County Sheriff's Office Urban Shield training exercise, SWAT and Tactical Response teams will participate in 29 individual events ranging from Search Warrant Service to Active Shooter/Immediate Action Team scenarios. Teams will arrive on Friday October 14, 2011, and will receive mission and safety briefings as well and an introduction to the latest technology to be used in the training scenarios. In addition, each team member is subjected to a medical assessment and firearms qualification at the Alameda County Regional Training Center Range Facility. 

The training events begin at 0600 hours Saturday, October 15, 2011, and culminate after four 12-hour operational periods, on Monday October 17, 2011, at 0600 hours. Teams are transported to the individual scenario sites located in five separate Area Commands, by vehicles driven by Alameda County Deputy Sheriff's familiar with both the teams themselves and the scenario route. 

Participating teams will be introduced to the latest in tactical medical treatment options and will receive updated information on treatment for any injuries or health issues as a result of the event. Ongoing medical evaluations will occur at Medical Mobile Medical Checkpoints located throughout the exercise for any medical issues that may arise with team members. 

Throughout the scenarios, teams are confronted with events averaging 1-hour-plus in duration, which are designed to test their training, preparation, and decision-making. Teams use technology provided to them for use during the scenarios and are debriefed after each scenario for their immediate feedback concerning the technology presented to them. 

This event is not limited to teams from our regional area, but is open to any team wishing to participate. A team from the Boston Police Department has participated in the event since its inception in 2007. In 2009, the French National Police "Research, Assistance, Intervention, and Dissuasion" (RAID) Team participated. Observers came from many international areas including from Bahrain and the State of Israel. In 2011, teams from Jordan, Bahrain and the State of Israel participated in the training scenarios. 

Urban Shield is a unique and vast tactical training exercise involving thousands of hours of planning and preparation. The event allows participating agencies a practical opportunity to evaluate their tactical team's level of preparedness and ability to perform a variety of intricate first-responder operations. The dual benefit of this event allows each agency to evaluate its own tactical capabilities while training together with EMS, Fire, and EOD to identify our ability to cope with large-scale events at a Regional level. This training event incorporates the National Incident Management System (NIMS) concept which has allowed many participating agencies to expose their personnel to NIMS is a "real time" training venue, enhancing and adding to their skill, knowledge and abilities in the use of this critical incident management tool. 


2011 Teams Being Confirmed Now! 

Urban Shield 2010 / SWAT / FIRE / EMS Participating Teams 

Alameda County Sheriff's Office 

Berkeley Police Department 

University of California Police Department, Berkeley 

California Department of Corrections 

California Highway Patrol 

Contra Costa County Sheriff's Office 

Federal Bureau of Investigation 

Fremont Police Department 

Hayward Police Department 

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory 

Livermore Police Department 

Marin County Sheriff's Office 

Newark Police Department 

Oakland Police Department 

Palo Alto Police Department 

Redwood City Police Department 

Richmond Police Department 

Sacramento Police Department 

San Francisco Police Department 

San Francisco Sheriff's Department 

San Leandro Police Department 

San Mateo County Sheriff's Office 

Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office 

Sonoma County Sheriff's Office 

Sunnyvale Police Department 

Union City Police Department 


Israeli Special Police Force 

Jordanian Special Police Force 

The Kingdom of Bahrain National Police 

Urban Shield CA 2011 



I've Had It with These Masked Thugs (News Analysis)

By Gar Smith
Thursday December 15, 2011 - 08:41:00 AM

I don't know about you, but I'm getting fed up with these self-important gangs of masked, black-clad agitators running roughshod over our city streets. They've occupied parks, shut down roadways, vandalized private property, assaulted law-abiding citizens and left entire communities afraid to venture into financially struggling downtown business districts. They've wielded spray cans and left behind eyesores that have incensed the community.

I am speaking, of course, about the police. 

It's one thing if a group of political anarchists walks into a bank and spray-paints slogans on vaults and filing cabinets. It's another thing when police march into a peaceful tent encampment brandishing batons and pepper-spray. 

Question: What's the difference between a cop and an anarchist? 

Answer: An anarchist defaces files. A cop defiles faces. 

During a single Oakland night in early November, the violent misdeeds of these anarchists-with-badges shredded Constitutional rights, amassed a growing body count of innocent victims (including several combat veterans hospitalized with crippling injuries), and turned downtown Oakland into an urban No-Buy Zone. 

Meanwhile, in Seattle, a flurry of in-your-face police assaults left an 84-year-old woman blinded by a blast of pepper-spray. At the same time, a 19-year-old woman who screamed at police, "Don't hurt me! I'm pregnant!" was singled out for another blast of pepper-spray while a police officer took aim and kicked her in the stomach. She was rushed to a hospital where she subsequently suffered a miscarriage. (This appears to be the first police-related death attributable to the nationwide crackdown on the Occupy movement — it was, tragically, a literal "miscarriage of justice.") 

In theory, the police to exist to enforce laws. Increasingly, in post-911 America, the police seem to exult in defying laws. In many cities, the police now have more power than mayors, council members and judges. In November, despite a court ruling that Zuccotti Park was to remain open to the Occupy Wall Street campers, the NYPD refused to allow the demonstrators to re-enter the public park — an act of constabulary defiance that constituted obstruction of justice. 

In a pattern that has been seen in Occupied cities across the US — from Manhattan to Santa Cruz — local police have tried to stoke social tension and civil unrest by encouraging hungry, homeless, drug-addicted and violent individuals from other parts of their cities to relocate to the nearest "Occupy" site where, the police promise, they can expect free food, shelter and medical assistance. It would appear that the goal is not to improve public safety but to raise the potential for disputes and disruption that might contribute to discrediting the Occupy camps. 

Another tactic used in cities across America is for city officials to claim that encampments must be eradicated because they constitute a "health and safety hazard." This meme is then driven home by orchestrated "photo ops" featuring city workers who are ordered to don full-body hazmat suits and gas-masks before hosing down sidewalks and lawns with blasts of high-pressure steam. 

How Police Are Empowered to Violate the Constitution 

Another example of the Police Establishment's imperial power: local police enjoy the unique ability to suspend the US Constitution – on a whim! In a court of law, a judge needs to convene a hearing and weigh both sides of an argument before rendering a verdict. In the streets, a city police sergeant has the power to void the First Amendment simply by declaring a peaceful public gathering to be an "unlawful assembly." 

In the new United Police States of America (UPSA), you don't even need to commit a crime to become eligible for arrest, detention and/or physical abuse. Citizens swept up in police raids can be charged with nothing more than "resisting arrest." In a truly free country, any citizen would be perfectly within his or her rights to resist being arrested on that charge alone. Seriously, if the police can't be bothered to at least fabricate some trifling criminal pretext for an arrest, they shouldn't be allowed to bust someone for "resisting." Not only is resistance in the name of self-defense not a crime, it is recognized as a right under international law. (Resisting police-inflicted crime should not be a crime. Consider: If you thwart a pickpocket or chase away a burglar, you aren't charged with "resisting theft.") 

The Costs of Policing Occupations 

As far as the charge that Occupy Wall Street activities cost cities money that could better be spent on social services, let's take a look at one preliminary estimate for the City of Oakland. In mid-November, Oakland officials announced the "costs spent on responding to Occupy Oakland events" topped $2.4 million. But most of this money was doled out to pay for police who were either (1) standing watch over nonviolent assemblies, (2) challenging people trying to exercise their First Amendment rights or (3) pushing, beating and tear-gassing crowds provoked by the police presence. 

According to official city expense figures quoted by the ACLU, Oakland paid $1.04 million to the OPD, $1.09 million to city personnel, $500,000 to other police agencies in the form of "mutual aid," and $540,000 to VMA Security for a "30-day contract." The cost of "policing" would appear to far outweigh the city's costs for any "clean-ups" or "property damage." 

A 'Conflict of Interest' in Conflict 

Although it is seldom mentioned, it is a fundamental fact that the police have a "conflict of interest in conflict." As long as there is money to be made in police overtime, there will be a temptation to provoke situations that require overtime. 

And it's not just the local police that benefit from staring down and/or beating down protesters. In early November, when the OPD stormed through downtown streets amid a blizzard of tear-gas, Oakland's finest were backed up by at least 15 other police agencies including the California Highway Patrol, Alameda Country Sheriffs, and officers from police departments in Hayward, Berkeley and Gilroy (located about 75 miles south of Oakland). 

The same mutual-aid situation prevailed at UC Berkeley and UC Davis (where, in both cases, local campus cops were reinforced by Berkeley City police). It's a situation straight out of the old Buffalo Springfield song: "What a field-day for the heat. A thousand people in the street." 

Troubling Signs of an Emerging National Police State 

The nearly simultaneous timing of the police sweeps that cracked down on Occupy encampments across the nation suggested a level of national coordination. The paranoia turned out to be well founded. Oakland Mayor Jean Quan (who initially told the media that she had no knowledge of the coming police crackdown against people camped out in Frank Ogawa Plaza because she had been out of town) subsequently let slip during a BBC interview that she had been one of 18 big-city mayors contacted by the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI for a conference call designed to coach the mayors in how to "handle" the Occupy protests. 

"Our system of government prohibits the creation of a federalized police force, and forbids federal or militarized involvement in municipal peacekeeping," notes Guardian reporter Naomi Wolf. Wolf herself was subjected to arrest after leaving a social event with her husband and walking down a Manhattan sidewalk during an Occupy protest. (A YouTube video shows Wolf, resplendent in an evening gown, being handcuffed and hustled into detention.) 

But Wolf was lucky. According to The New York Times, during a subsequent crackdown on peaceful protesters, NYPD's finest thugs "arrested, punched, whacked, shoved to the ground … reporters and photographers" trying to document the police violence. Reporters were ordered to raise their hands, threatened with detention, roughed up and arrested after being warned that in New York, "the greatest city in the world," it was no longer legal "to take pictures on the sidewalk." 

The NYPD did such a thorough job that their beating victims included a state Supreme Court justice and a New York City councilmember. Not to be outdone, police enforcers in Berkeley managed to bludgeon Poet Laureate Robert Hass while grabbing a university professor by the hair and throwing her to the ground. 

How Police Used UC Berkeley to Practice for Attack on Occupy Oakland 

UC Berkeley Chancellor Richard Birgeneau was rightly targeted for a vote of censure by his own faculty after police viciously attacked students and teachers with truncheons on the steps of Sproul Hall – the historic Mecca of Free Speech. But Birgeneau's complicity in police violence went even deeper. 

It was bad enough that Birgeneau responded to a 2009 student occupation of Wheeler Hall by allowing outside police agencies to invade the campus armed with batons, tear-gas canisters and rifles equipped to fire "bean-bag" bullets. It was inexcusable that the "investigation" of police abuses from that event failed to prevent the latest violence. But Birgeneau's most egregious crime has not yet been widely addressed. 

According to a remarkable article by Max Blumenthal (reposted online by Berkeley's Tikkun magazine), in October, Birgeneau invited the notorious Alameda Country Sheriff's Department and other police agencies onto the UC campus to hold a "mutual response" military training exercise in preparation for the November assault on the tent camps of Occupy Oakland. 

In Blumenthal's words, the little-publicized exercise -- dubbed "Urban Shield 2011" – "turned parts of the campus… into an urban battlefield." Following November's violent crackdown on Occupy Oakland's tent city in Frank Ogawa Plaza, Police Magazine reported that "law enforcement agencies" credited the Urban Shield's campus rehearsal for the "effective teamwork" that characterized their Oakland raids. 

In the US, it is a long-accepted practice that domestic military exercises are opened to the participation of troops from a small number of select allied nations. The same pattern now appears to have been extended to domestic police exercises as well. Blumenthal reports that the "mutual aid" exercise held on the Berkeley campus included a contingent of military police from Bahrain, "which had just crushed a largely non-violent democratic uprising by opening fire on protest camps," and a delegation of Israeli Border Police called the Yamam. According to Blumenthal's report, the Yamam is "known for its extra-judicial assassinations of Palestinian militant leaders." 

What Was the Cops-per-Vandals Arrest Ratio? 

While a great deal of justified criticism was directed at the damage wrought in downtown Oakland by the "black bloc" vandals who broke windows and sprayed slogans on the walls of banks, a significant question remains unanswered: How many of the 80 citizens arrested by the police during the night and early morning hours of November 2-3 were vandals? 

It is difficult to know. The Oakland Police Department's Weekly Crime Report (WCR) for October 31-November 6 does not list any arrests for vandalism -- although it does list one arrest for arson and two arrests for "Assault on Officer -- Other." (In fairness, the WCR notes helpfully that: "both reporting of crimes and data entry can be a month or more behind.") 

In 2003, Oakland's newest Police Chief Howard Jordan was caught on tape reflecting upon the ease with which police could infiltrate public demonstrations. "It's not that hard," Jordan said. "San Francisco does it. Seattle…." In addition to using infiltrators embedded inside crowds to gather "intelligence," Jordan also boasted these infiltrators could even "make them [the protestors] do what we want them to do!" (Local video-journalists have posted clips showing OPD officers caught participating in the demonstrations out-of-uniform.) 

This, of course, raises the possibility that the police (who, remember, have a "conflict of interest in conflict") could easily place "provocateurs" in the streets to encourage — or even instigate — acts of vandalism that could justify police violence. The release of the arrest figures for the OPD's generalized strike against people in the streets of Oakland might help remove some of these fears. A good number of solid arrests for vandalism, upheld by court hearings, would suggest that the police are "doing their job." On the other hand, a paucity of busts for significant crimes might suggest the police were mainly out to bust heads, not to bust criminals. 

The Planet has made repeated calls to the OPD's media department in an attempt to glean how many of the 80 arrests that followed the peaceful day-long General Strike were for crimes of violence, arson or vandalism. As of press time, the OPD had not responded to any of these calls. 

Are the Police Doing Their Job? 

Another case that questions the role of civic accountability occurred after an argument near the Occupy camp at Frank Ogawa Plaza erupted in gunfire that left one man dead. Mayor Quan responded by demanding that Occupy Oakland had a choice: it either had to take responsibility for controlling violence in the area or, if it failed to do so, Quan would be forced to remove the tents from the Plaza. 

It was an odd bargain. Put in a different context, it would be comparable to the mayor demanding that the residents of East Oakland accept responsibility for ridding the neighborhood of violent crime. And, if they failed to do so, the mayor would see to it that they would be driven from their homes. 

Quan seemed to have forgotten that it is the role of police to deal with violent crime. Instead, the onus was shifted to the civilian community while the cops were left free to "police" public protests. An essential point about the proper role of the police in a democratic society is now being reinforced by a new crowd-chant: "Who do you protect? Who do you serve?" 

The role of the police has mutated towards what Dick Cheney famously called "the dark side" with up-armored cops becoming increasingly indistinguishable from combat troops. One of the key reasons the US was forced to pull its troops out of Iraq by the end of this year was not Barack Obama's campaign vow to "bring the troops home." Rather, it was the Iraqi government's absolute refusal to guarantee "immunity from prosecution" for US troops who committed crimes inside the country. 

In this regard, the Iraqi government showed the kind of moral courage that seems to be absent in the United States where the police are rarely called before the courts to answer for crimes committed against the civilian populations they are supposed to be safeguarding. 

Recent events in Manhattan, Oakland, Portland, and other "Occupied" cities, have further underscored the fact that, in the UPSA, police are still largely "above the law." Think about it: in what other profession can you kill someone knowing in advance that your only sanction will be a paid vacation? (In police parlance, this is known as "paid administrative leave.") 

In a world where trigger-happy responses are not reined in (or worse, are actually encouraged), we are all existential prisoners of a police state and all its potential victims. This troubling state of affairs needs to be faced, addressed and corrected. Until the police are retrained, restrained and disarmed, many struggling Americans will have a hard time accepting them as part of the "99 percent." 

The sad fact is that, under these prevailing standards of indecency, any pistol-packing beat cop who feels stressed-out by the demands of the job -- and feels like indulging in some fully paid R&R -- might be tempted to gun down a random unarmed protester just to claim some of that precious "paid administrative leave." 

Or, as Dirty Harry might put it, if he were part of today's modern police militia: "Go ahead, punk. Make my holiday." 





University Officials, Legislators Call for Clearer Police Procedures During Protests in Berkeley and Elsewhere

By Scott Morris (BCN)
Wednesday December 14, 2011 - 10:15:00 PM

Legislators, university officials and civil rights leaders at a hearing in Sacramento today seemed in agreement that campus police in protest situations needed stricter standards of conduct, and potentially a statewide crowd control policy. 

The joint hearing of the State Assembly Higher Education Committee and the State Senate Education Committee was called in response to three conflicts between campus police and protesters in November. 

The first occurred Nov. 9, when Occupy Cal protesters at the University of California at Berkeley attempted to establish an encampment on Sproul Plaza. Police used batons to push through lines of protesters who had linked arms surrounding several tents. 

The second came during the Nov. 16 California State University Board of Trustees meeting where the board approved a 9 percent tuition hike for the CSU system. Protesters clashed with police outside of the building; a door to the building was shattered and four were arrested. 

The third occurred on Nov. 18 when a group of seated students blocking police from moving were pepper sprayed at an Occupy demonstration at the University of California at Davis. The incident grabbed international headlines when video of the incident posted to YouTube went viral, and resulted in the resignation of the UC Davis police chief. 

"Something is wrong when the students and teachers struggling to have their voices heard are answered with the spray of chemical weapons and the sting of batons," said Senate Education Committee chair Alan Lowenthal, D-Long Beach.  

"California is in the midst of an economic crisis and our citizenry are understandably frustrated," Lowenthal said. He said that while the hearing was only intended to address the issue of police oversight, he anticipated that without addressing budget shortfalls students' frustration would only be exacerbated. 

Students invited to speak at the hearing dismissed the idea that the three incidents in November were isolated, and said that the media attention on those incidents has only alerted campus and government officials to problems with police that have gone on for years. 

One student even called into question the account of the CSU Board of Trustees meeting related by the head of CSU police Nate Johnson. 

Johnson said that the conflicts between police and protesters broke out after outside agitators incited a mob to "take the building" confronting police and trying to storm into the meeting. 

He said that police responded with pepper spray after they were pepper sprayed by protesters, and that several officers suffered injuries including one with a laceration to the temple, and another with a laceration on the arm that required stitches. 

Johnson said that the agitators were not students but members of other Occupy groups or of another protest group called ReFund California. 

Charlie Eaton, financial secretary for the United Auto Workers student workers union, which represents 12,000 teaching assistants, academic readers and tutors said his union is one of the principal members of the ReFund California coalition. 

"Dr. Nate Johnson lied in his testimony today about what happened" during the Trustees meeting, Eaton said, and objected to Johnson's characterization of Refund California as "outside agitators."  

Eaton said that the public comment session of the Trustees meeting was cut short, and police forcibly ejected students from the meeting. He said that in the ensuing confrontation, it was a police baton that broke the door of the building, not protesters. 

"We've heard diametrically opposed testimony as to what went down," Lowenthal said, and implored CSU Chancellor Charles Reed to explore in greater detail what happened during the meeting. 

Reed was unable to attend today's hearing, sending CSU Executive Vice Chancellor Ben Quillian in his place. Quillian and Johnson spoke before the student panel, and praised the performance of their officers, who have not seen the same scrutiny that police on UC campuses have after the Davis and Berkeley incidents. 

UC President Mark Yudof said that he is waiting for a thorough review of the UC Davis pepper-spraying incident, and will conclude what policy changes need to be made after the review. 

"I certainly think that we need more definition for when to use force and when to not use force," Yudof said, adding that each UC campus may need a police review board.  

"I don't want to micromanage the campuses, but I do think we need to respond to this extraordinary circumstance," Yudof said. 

Yudof said that the results of investigations into the Davis incident will be coming in over the next several months, but for now he intends to clarify the chain of command and have student and administrative observers of police activity during all police actions at protests. 

Earlier, independent police auditor Barbara Attard, who has worked in Berkeley, San Jose and San Francisco, said that only UC Berkeley has civilian oversight of its police department and that each campus should have a similar body in place. 

She and American Civil Liberties Union staff attorney Michael Risher each called for stricter guidelines for use of force during protests, and clarification of the chain of command. 

Risher said that there is legal precedent that the use of pepper spray on seated demonstrators is unconstitutional.  

"Seated protesters do not pose a risk of health or safety, they haven't committed a serious crime, and they do not pose a risk of flight, they're sitting there, that's the whole problem," Risher said. 

Attard also wondered whether other law enforcement agencies responding to mutual aid requests were properly following procedures outlined by the organization requesting aid, such as Alameda County Sheriff's deputies at UC Berkeley. 

In an ongoing ACLU suit against the City of Oakland over actions the city has taken against Occupy Oakland demonstrations, attorneys for the City of Oakland have argued that mutual aid agencies responding to Oakland's calls for assistance were not required to follow Oakland's crowd control policy, accounting for some violations. 

In that suit, ACLU attorneys argued that the use of excessive force against non-violent protesters may prompt a chilling effect, keeping protesters away from voicing policy objections through protest. Risher repeated those concerns at today's hearing. 

"Is the tone of other jurisdictions use of force affecting the response of other agencies?" Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, whose district includes UC Berkeley, suggested during opening remarks. 

Attard said that mutual aid organizations should be following the requesting agency's procedures, and said that statewide standards would assist in that effort. "A statewide standard would make a lot of sense, I think," Attard said. 

Risher and Attard each placed an emphasis on the chain of command as well, and said orders and procedures should be very clear, with little individual discretion provided to the officers. They said the final authority should rest with the chancellor of the university. 

"Particularly when we're talking about the First Amendment, discretion is very dangerous because an officer may react to what's being said rather than potential illegal activity," Risher said. 

But UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi, under fire for the pepper spraying of seated protesters on her campus, said she did not order the use of force against protesters nor did she order the use of pepper spray. 

Despite that, Katehi said that she is ultimately accountable for the actions of the UC police. 

Katehi said that typically at UC Davis, the authority for dealing with the police department was delegated to a vice chancellor, but she said she did not know whether the vice chancellor authorized the use of force against protesters either. 

She said that she comes from an engineering and education background, and did not feel comfortable directing police actions, preferring to leave such decisions at the discretion of those with a background in law enforcement. 

"At this point I would suggest you are primarily the chancellor," Assembly Higher Education Committee Chair Marty Block, D-San Diego, said. He said that if Katehi did not feel comfortable dealing with law enforcement, she should seek training until she is comfortable. 

Katehi said that UC Davis is taking more drastic interim measures than other campuses in dealing with protesters, and that if protesters are non-violent there will be no police presence at demonstrations at all. 

Instead, Katehi said she has created a group of counselors who are experts in dealing with students that will mediate between campus administration and protesters until reviews of the recent incident are completed. 

"By no means will we bring the police into situations like we had in November," Katehi said. 

Eaton and other students vowed that protests would continue until the "bankers and millionaires" that are represented on the CSU Board of Trustees and the UC Regents "pay their fair share" and the legislature determined how to fund higher education. 

Students said they have tried lobbying and have only seen their tuition increase by thousands, and were prepared to take more drastic, though non-violent, measures.

U.C. Berkeley Announces New Aid Program for Middle Class

By Jeff Shuttleworth (BCN)
Wednesday December 14, 2011 - 10:11:00 PM

Reacting to rising tuition costs and the state's high cost of living, University of California at Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau announced a new program today to make his campus more affordable for middle-class families. 

Birgeneau said the initiative, called the Berkeley Middle Class Access Plan, is the first program in the nation at a public university to extend comprehensive financial aid to middle-class families. 

Speaking at a news conference at the Haas Pavilion, Birgeneau said the plan targets families whose gross income ranges from $80,000 to $140,000 annually and caps the contribution parents make toward the total annual cost of a UC Berkeley student's education at 15 percent of their earnings. The grants will range from $3,000 to $16,000 a year. 

Total cost includes tuition, fees and expenses, such as room, board and books. 

Anne De Luca, the university's acting associate vice chancellor for admission and enrollment, said about 6,000 UC Berkeley students, representing about one-fourth of the campus's 25,885 undergraduate students, fall into that income category. 

She said between 1,000 and 2,000 students in that category now get some grant aid from the university and the new program will benefit more students and provide more assistance. 

Vice Chancellor Frank Yeary said the program "substantially increases the number of students who qualify for aid and students in this category who didn't get assistance this year should fill out forms to get assistance for the next academic year," which begins in the fall. 

Birgeneau said the university has always had a strong commitment to low-income families, which are defined as those who make less than $80,000 a year. He said 40 percent of UC Berkeley's students fall into that category and pay no tuition at all. 

But he said the university is seeing early signs that middle-income families who cannot access existing assistance programs are straining to meet college costs. 

A key factor is that tuition rates have doubled in the last six years and the salaries of middle-class families haven't kept pace, Birgeneau said. The current cost for a California resident who attends the university is $32,634, which includes $12,834 in tuition and fees. 

The state's ongoing budget crisis, which has resulted in less spending on higher education, has prompted the university to try to do more to help middle-income families, Birgeneau said. 

He said, "We need to do more to help the middle class. Our university has to be accessible to all Californians." 

Financial aid awarded through the new program will be for the 2012-13 school year, which begins in August, and is for domestic undergraduate students, including incoming freshmen.  

Campus budget officials estimate that the program will cost between $10 million and $12 million a year. 

They said they won't use state funds to pay for the program but instead will redirect expanded financial aid resources, philanthropy and revenue from the increased number of out-of-state students at the university. 

De Luca said the university is announcing the new program now because families usually discuss student finances during the winter break and the financial aid application process begins in early January. The forms are due in March. 

According to university officials, the Public Policy Institute of California reports that about half of all families in the state are in the middle-income bracket. 

But Birgeneau said another survey found that 80 percent of Californians believe that they are in the middle class, a finding that he says supports the need for the new program.

Visit Telegraph for Holiday Gifts

By Steven Finacom
Saturday December 17, 2011 - 10:37:00 AM

Sunny skies and sparkling gifts are available this weekend and next at the Telegraph Avenue Holiday Fair. The 28th annual edition of the arts and crafts event runs from 11 am to 6 pm Saturday and Sunday, and next Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, December 22 through 24th

More than two hundred vendors are signed up. Some are Telegraph regulars, but others only appear here for the holidays. 

You can find thousands of pieces of handmade jewelry, distinctive only-in-Berkeley clothing (how about a T-shirt with the Periodic Table information for Berkelium on it?), creative ceramics, one-of-a-kind house decorative items, and handmade soap that looks good enough to eat.  

The street fair runs from Dwight to Bancroft on Telegraph Avenue, with Channing, Durant, and Bancroft open as cross streets. Food vendor booths are on Haste Street, and there are also scores of restaurants, coffee shops, and other eateries nearby waiting for your business, along with Telegraph’s array of permanent stores, including Berkeley’s biggest concentration of bookstores. 

There’s ample nearby City-run parking in the Sather Gate Garage (approach on Channing or Durant, west of Telegraph) and with finals coming to an end and many UC staff and faculty going on vacation next week, UC lots are increasingly available for day shoppers. 

The website is at: http://www.telegraphfair.com/ 

Here’s an array of images from the first day of the Fair.


By John Herbert
Wednesday December 14, 2011 - 12:25:00 PM

Our dog has gone missing and we are quite distraught about it. Our dog went tagging along with some folks walking their dog, along the 1700 block of Oregon Street Berkeley last Sunday.

We do not know who they were, whether they took our dog or simply let him wander off after following. To our utter dismay and sadness, he has not returned.

John Herbert,Oregon Street ,Berkeley, 510-812-3177

Ceremony Tonight Will Mourn Closing of Berkeley's Warm Pool (Event)

By Gary Marquard
Wednesday December 14, 2011 - 09:24:00 AM

No decision was announced at last Friday's hearing on an injunction against closing the Warm Pool. The judge said only that she would issue a ruling "shortly.” Unless the injunction is granted, or some other last-minute reprieve occurs, Wednesday, December 14 will be the last day ever of public swim at the Warm Pool.  

At 6:30 on Wednesday, a brief candlelight ceremony and vigil will be held at the pool to mark the occasion of its passing, to underline the depth of the loss to ourselves and our community, to show and share our grief, and also our appreciation for this wonderful place we've had. Please come, with family and friends and anyone else you know who knows the pool's value and would like to support its replacement as soon as possible if it can't be saved.  

TV and other media will be expected, so take the opportunity to show BUSD and City officials BY YOUR NUMBERS that a Warm Pool is not just some social extravagance, as is commonly implied, of value only to "a few disabled people." We know better. The dozens at every parent/tot session know better, the hundreds of afraid-of-water adults who've learned to swim at our pool KNOW BETTER, the families that have swum in the pool the one hour a week allowed them--also know. City Council and staff should too. The loss of the Warm Pool is not just the end of a well-liked recreational program; it is a profound, tragic social loss that needs to be seen as just that, and remedied.  

Come show by your numbers. THE PLAN, in part, is for a large number of people to gather outside the pool and then walk in following a fake casket, like a funeral procession. So those who come just to bear witness should be part of this. Those who want to both witness and swim might consider arriving just before 6:30, and swimming after the ceremony; there’ll be plenty of time left for it. People in the pool at 6:30, who want to stay in, will not be asked to get out. But there will be an in-water component to the ceremony, so we hope you won't mind accommodating your activities to that for a short while.

Two Pedestrians Struck by a Car Near the Berkeley Bowl Market

By Steven Finacom
Tuesday December 13, 2011 - 06:53:00 PM
Steven Finacom
Steven Finacom

Two pedestrians were hit by a car on Shattuck and Oregon shortly after 7:00 pm on Tuesday, December 13. They were taken away by ambulance as Berkeley police temporarily diverted traffic from two blocks of Shattuck Avenue, adjacent to the Berkeley Bowl and the Shattuck/Adeline Walgreens. That particular intersection is often busy with commuter cars as well as pedestrians. A zebra-striped crosswalk and flashing yellow pedestrian light have been installed in recent years by the city. 

Bystanders said the pedestrians who were hit were a man and woman, apparently walking together, crossing in the east/west direction and perhaps headed to Berkeley Bowl. The car, a Honda Civic two door, appeared to have been heading southbound and sat in the intersection after the accident. The hood was dented and the windshield severely cracked.

Updated: Port Protesters Vote to Continue Blockade--Mayor Quan Says It's "Economic Violence"

By Zack Farmer(BCN)
Monday December 12, 2011 - 06:24:00 PM

Protesters voted to extend a blockade at the Port of Oakland through the early morning at tonight's general assembly meeting. 

In a news briefing tonight, Mayor Jean Quan said this action was "economic violence" and not fair to port workers or the community. 

"I want to thank everyone for being peaceful today...but after the unofficial vote of the general assembly to continue the economic punishment of the Port of Oakland, I just have to say this -- while we have not had physical violence, the economic violence to this city is not fair."  

"The labor community has already said they do not support this and still a small group of people are going to hold this port, this city, this community hostage," she said. 

Police Chief Howard Jordan said no violence or arrests were reported tonight and police are continuing to monitor the situation and will take action if needed.

Oakland Port Blockaded by 1000 Tonight

By Zach Farmer (BCN)
Monday December 12, 2011 - 06:06:00 PM

More than 1,000 protesters are descending on the Port of Oakland this evening as part of a daylong effort to shut down the port. 

Occupy Oakland protesters announced that they will hold a general assembly meeting at the port tonight to decide what actions to take next. Protesters are expected to decide whether they will stay at the port to attempt to close down early morning operations. 

The march began at Frank Ogawa Plaza at around 4 p.m., while more demonstrators began to march from the West Oakland BART station at around 5 p.m.  

Officers cleared the roads this evening to make way for demonstrators who were holding signs, waving flags and chanting slogans like "The system has got to die, hella hella Occupy."  

The crowd appears to be blocking about a dozen trucks from entering and exiting the port. 

The daylong protest began early this morning when hundreds of protesters marched to the port and blocked several entrances.  

Port of Oakland Executive Director Omar Benjamin said the protest caused "sporadic disruptions" and delays but that all terminals were open early this afternoon and traffic was flowing in and out of the port. 

Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan said the protest was mostly peaceful but that two people were arrested outside the port's America Terminal at 1599 Maritime St. shortly before noon for failing to comply with a police order to stop blocking a driveway. 

The marches are part of a West Coast port blockade today organized by the Occupy movement that is taking place in cities including Los Angeles, San Diego, Portland and Seattle.  

Charles Smith, 68, of Richmond was one of the porters who took to the streets today to show his support. 

Smith, a Vietnam War veteran, who has been protesting since 3:30 a.m. is representing the United Public Workers for Action. Smith said he was active in Vietnam War protests and noted some key differences between demonstrations then and now. 

"The people are a very unusual mix of people. You didn't have that kind of mix then," he said. 

Citing lack of jobs and increasing debt from college tuitions, Smith said, "The thing that's different is the young people have no future." 

Not everyone who turned out today was in favor of the protests. One man who stood at the corner of 14th street and Broadway held a sign that read "Occupy attacks working people." 

Joel Hume, a truck driver for C.R. England, based in Salt Lake City, Utah, was waiting in line at Berths 30-32 with a truckload of beef and pork this morning as protesters gathered at the gates. 

"Raising awareness about income inequality is good, but I don't agree with their methods," Hume said. 

He said, "I want to see things changed as well, but they shouldn't prevent people from doing their jobs. They're taking food out of peoples' mouths."

Death of a Berkeley Deli (and More)

By Ted Friedman
Monday December 12, 2011 - 05:46:00 PM
Dazed shoppers Friday at Telegraph Andronicos, the day before it closed. One of last of aisles with merchandise.
Ted Friedman
Dazed shoppers Friday at Telegraph Andronicos, the day before it closed. One of last of aisles with merchandise.
Anyone here? Andronicos on Telegraph Friday. The store closed Saturday.
Ted Friedman
Anyone here? Andronicos on Telegraph Friday. The store closed Saturday.
What's left of liquor department at Andronicos, Friday.
Ted Friedman
What's left of liquor department at Andronicos, Friday.
Friday in Andronicos produce department. Along with the meat department, produce closed two weeks ago.
Ted Friedman
Friday in Andronicos produce department. Along with the meat department, produce closed two weeks ago.

Telegraph Andronicos died Saturday, or was it last Saturday? Or was it last decade?

The Teley deli had been gasping for breath for years. 

Built in '57-'58 as sibling to the1929 Solano Andronicos Park and Shop, an early drive-to California supermarket, Teley Andronicos was either loved or hated by its customers, some of whom treasured its convenient lower Telegraph location, and felt close to the staff. 

I liked the butchers, the liquor department manager, some of the other managers, and not a few of the checkers. Even disagreeable checkers were amusing, especially the PhD. candidate who lashed out at me for mispronouncing, he said, Nietzsche. To this day, I avoid naming the philosopher, fearing sudden pain. 

My Planet piece, "A Chicken-Shit Tale of Super-Market Marketing," Tues., July 12, 2011, originated at the Teley Andros meat department. And one of my favorite butchers gets credit for the chicken-shit joke about chicken breasts. 

The meat department closed so soon after the store's closure was announced, I didn't have a chance to say goodbye. I hope my jocular friend is transferred to San Anselmo, as were two Andronicos butchers, who lived in my building ten years ago. 

The now moribund South-side deli, liquor store, butcher-shop, social destination, and "Happening," will be sorely missed, but mourner's grief may be complicated by ill-feelings. 

Ill-feelings stem from callous Andros business practices, including seemingly unjustified high prices for just about everything. You could spend up to $3.99 a pound for green beans, or celery. A thoughtless and constant drenching of the priced-like-gold produce left much of it limp. 

The bright idea to sell brackish meats, about to exceed sale-date, or often expired, as "aged meat," was finally dropped, after a long run. 

In fact, many of the store products, including dairy items, were often left on shelves even though their sale-dates were expired. 

Astute shoppers had to check their receipts, because, according to checkers, the system for inputting correct prices, especially sale items, did not work. Prices on product racks, bins, and trays were confusing. The confusions always seemed to favor the store. 

Some longtime neighborhood customers fumed over the store policy of awarding ten percent discounts to students and faculty, one day a week, with no similar discounts to low income neighborhood customers. The store refused to address this grievance to the end. 

But discounts flooded Andros Teley at its demise, and on Friday customers showed up for discounts on aspirin, candy bars, and wine and liquor no one wanted. In every department, the good stuff was long gone. 

The meat and produce departments had been closed from the first death announcement. The Deli, a popular venue (founded 1984), had twenty-five percent discounts, but also closed in the final days. 

As accompanying photos of the next-last day show, the final scene was grim. 

Two Berkeley Andros survive—the original store on Solano, and the 20 year-old converted co-op on Shattuck at Cedar. Andros on University closed in October. 

For the last several years, the Teley Andros could no longer disguise its ill-health, as unpaid distributors stopped delivering some products, and customers, found many shelves empty. Then, mysteriously the shelves would fill, but not always with the same products. 

When the bankrupt Andronicos chain (includes San Francisco and San Anselmo) was sold last August, employees at the Teley store were told that the sale would save Andros, Teley Bill Andronico, grandson of the founder, and CEO since1988 would be running the business for the new owners. 

While wary, some staffers, and customers were relieved by the prospects of a solvent ownership. Andros, Teley was now stocked, if not with the same products it had carried. Some customers said the soda section lacked their favorite colas. 

But when staffers were notified of their terminations (others were promised jobs within the chain), they complained they had been lied to, and that the company planned to sell off the store all along. 

A statement from Bill Andronico, if read between the lines, supports employees’ suspicions: 

"The closing of the Telegraph Avenue store became necessary because the property would have been too difficult to bring up to the standards that our customers expect and deserve." 

Did the new Teley store owners find the store too costly to maintain? Employees said they believed that the company had planned to sell off the store from the start. Several employees said Andronicos has sold the building to CVS, a drug-store superstore, which sells junk food and booze. 



Ted Friedman, often reporting on the Southside, had the sort of 40 year love-hate relationship to his Teley Deli he describes in his piece.



Occu-Puncture in Berkeley: Time to Occupy Everywhere

By Becky O'Malley
Friday December 16, 2011 - 01:59:00 PM

It’s becoming clear to most of us that the helium is slowly seeping out of the Occupy Berkeley balloon, which rose with great enthusiasm not that long ago. The movement has had enormous results, succeeding completely in the obvious goal of calling attention to the huge disparities between the super-rich and everyone else which are growing throughout the world. Now, however, it’s time to—sorry to use an overused slogan—move on to something else.

Berkeley Councilmember Jesse Arreguin has issued a lucid and intelligent summary of where Occupy Berkeley has been, along with an analyis of how the city of Berkeley should manage the settlement in Martin Luther King Civic Center Park in the near future. His document could serve as a model for other places which still have lingering Occupy encampments, but it probably won’t.

A quick crib sheet, for those who can’t be bothered to read three or four pages of print: As long as campers don’t break any other laws, the city will treat camping out as a form of protected speech, but that doesn’t mean campers can let their dogs run wild. (Arreguin’s use of the police-speak tag “zero tolerance” seems to have confused some commenters: it’s zero tolerance for repeat infractions of the stated rules, not zero tolerance for behavior explicitly defined as tolerable, i.e. camping.)

But he, correctly, doesn’t get into the question of whether camping out per se is still the best form of political expression. To understand that, supporters need to unwind the history of the Occupy actions to see what the next step should be. 

First, “Occupy Wall Street” was a brilliant bit of symbolic speech. It focused the attention of those who are hard to reach on what’s really going wrong with the world economy: the actions of the powerful members of the financial establishment who work in Wall Street and similar locales, inhabiting the slippery slope between mismanagement and outright chicanery. For good reason, OWS worked. And the “Wall Street” name was a critical element of the package. 

As soon as the movement started to spread, it became more diffuse, losing focus altogether at the blurry edges. As much as Occupy Oakland succeeded as a form of feel-good community-building, the location of the camp had not much to do with the locus of the problem. Okay, Ogawa Plaza (or its name-du-jour) is surrounded by looming corporate towers, but the corporations for which they were built have pretty much left the buildings. The city of Oakland is more sinned against than sinning, though when things got rough civic leaders paid much too much attention to the complaints of the city’s corporate-dominated Chamber of Commerce. 

Occupy Berkeley is even less relevant at this point The city’s councilmembers fell all over themselves to endorse the Occupy movement in early November, as Arreguin notes. There’s not much more they can do to alter the 99% wealth disparity, and what they can do is not obviously connected to the campers. 

It is true that great swaths of downtown Berkeley housing are now controlled by real estate corporations dominated by 1%ers like David Teece and Sam Zell. It’s also true that Berkeley’s Measure R, now being implemented in such a way as to extend the control of such corporations, was backed by a majority of the Berkeley City Council, with Arreguin one of its few opponents. But it’s doubtful—extremely doubtful—that current campers or their supporters are aware of this linkage, or that they’re formulating demands to end it. 

Many of the participants I’ve talked to in Oakland and Berkeley are conscious of a general feeling of annoyance tending toward outrage at the pickle we’re in, but they don’t have any clear analysis of what can be done about what they don’t like, or who could do it. This is not intended as a criticism, but it’s time for discussion of next steps and perhaps for some education of the enthusiasts. 

Camping out as a form of protest has a long tradition in the United States: Coxey’s Army, Hoovervilles, Resurrection City and recently in Berkeley, Arnieville. As a way of getting the public’s attention, settlements are effective, but they don’t solve the problems they highlight. 

And the tendency of camping protests to degenerate over time can’t be ignored. Resurrection City was the outgrowth of Martin Luther King’s Poor People’s Campaign, spearheaded by a young Jesse Jackson after King was assassinated. It started out with the best of intentions, but the stories I heard at the time, from friends who were there, were about incursions by “crazies”, people on the fringes of society looking for community but unable to sustain it. That’s what seems to be happening right now in the Occupy Berkeley camp. 

We can hope that the Occupy Berkeley balloon deflates in a dignified manner, if Arreguin’s recommendations are followed by the city manager and the police chief. It appears that among the campers there are a fair number of martyr-wanna-bes, people eager to go down in flames like Joan of Arc—but it should be the city’s goal not to hand them the matches. 

So what else is there to do now? 

Despite the large numbers of sincere people who took part, despite the tempting historic associations with the big general strike in the thirties, the action at the Port of Oakland alienated many working people. All that energy could better be directed against locations that are more closely associated with the 1%, in particular Banks, Banks, Banks, now on many street corners near you. Or Realtors, even more of those around, and many not totally candid in the way they pitched home purchases to people who couldn’t afford them. Most of these are not part of the 1%, but they’re enablers of the Funny Finance sector. 

The discussion/action groups (“Beer Committees”) now getting started among Occupy Berkeley supporters are a good idea. They make more sense than putting bodies on the line just to defend the right to camp anywhere you please. The groups could eventually come up with better alternatives, and at least those who take part will learn something. 

Another good idea, even simpler, comes from my friend Muriel, whose perspective has been enhanced since she’s moved from Berkeley to Richmond,VA, home of the national headquarters of the Daughters of the Confederacy. She suggests that everyone in the country who’s pissed off because 1% (actually .01%) of the population is amassing the lion’s share of the world’s wealth should simply stand outside for a half hour, wherever they are, at a designated time on a designated day. 

Even Tea Partiers, misguided though many of us might think them to be, should be allowed to participate. Many of them are broke too, even though they don’t understand why. 

If it’s dark, we might hold candles or flashlights. Signs would be okay. 

In fact, I’m going to be so bold as to suggest the day: the Martin Luther King, Jr., national holiday, the third Monday in January, this year January 16. And even the time: 5:15 Pacific Standard Time, which moves eastward to be 8:15 EST at the latest. It will be dark enough for candles, not too late anywhere to be unsafe. 

That’s it. Nothing more is needed organizationally for this clear reminder of what Occupy Wall Street has taught us—just tell your friends, and do it yourself. 

Occupy Everywhere on MLK Day. Pass it on. 

The Editor's Back Fence

Hallelujah, Corporations

Thursday December 15, 2011 - 09:55:00 PM

Thanks to Marty Schiffenbauer for passing along this jolly seasonal ditty, Hallelujah Corporations! A musical tribute to corporate excess:  


Coming Soon to a Neighborhood Near You? The Berkeley City Council grapples with a 17 bedroom monstrosity that the planning staff and the city attorney think is legal.

Wednesday December 14, 2011 - 09:44:00 AM

In case you might have thought that Berkeley's zoning laws would keep mini-dorms out of your neighborhood, watch this cautionary video. Our city planning staff has allowed this seventeen-bedroom development to invade a peaceful Southside neighborhood. It's the latest outrage from a developer who has already had several run-ins with the law. Councilmembers are Shocked, Shocked, as usual, but we'll have to wait until at least January to see if neighbors have any recourse.

Get Microsoft Silverlight

Swanson to Challenge Hancock for Senate in 9th District--Which Still Includes Berkeley After Redistricting

Tuesday December 13, 2011 - 06:33:00 PM

Josh Richman at the Oakland Tribune has confirmed the rampant rumor that State Representative Sandre Swanson will challenge State Senator Loni Hancock for the seat in the reconfigured 9th District, which includes Berkeley, starting in the 2012 June primary. Both are Democrats.

No one has yet confirmed the other rumor: that her spouse, Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates, won't run again, and will endorse the District Five moderate councilmember, realtor Laurie Capitelli, a partner in Red Oak Realty. If Bates steps down, he'd be able to spend more time in Sacramento with his wife if Hancock is re-elected.

Another yet-to-be confirmed rumor making the rounds: Councilmember Jesse Arreguin will carry the progressive banner in the Berkeley mayor's race in November.


Odd Bodkins: PoutingKitten

By Dan O'Neill
Friday December 16, 2011 - 12:05:00 PM


Dan O'Neill


Public Comment

(More) Whistling in the Dark

By John Vinopal
Thursday December 15, 2011 - 10:44:00 AM

"The Berkeley Almanac" (1976) by Alfred Meyer provides additional data points to David Wilson's "Whistling in the Dark". Page 17 provides a percentage-wise breakdown of Berkeley's bicentennial year's expenses. Although there is no total budget provided, some multiplication suggests it may have been around $8.6m. (If 8.8% Community Agencies was $758k, see Pg 19.) 

Distribution of All 1976-1977 Revenue, By Percentage: 

14.9%: Employee Fringe & Fixed Expenses
11.6%: Capital Improvement
10.3%: Police
9.2%: Public Works
9.0%: Recreation, Parks & Community Services
8.8%: Community Agencies
8.7%: Support Departments
7.1%: Fire
6.8%: Public Health
4.5%: Housing
3.4%: Unallocated
3.3%: Library
2.4% Transportation

Support Departments is further broken down to: 

2.5% City Manager
2.3% Finance
0.8% Comprehensive Planning
0.8% Personnel 0.7% Legal
0.7% City Clerk
0.6% Auditor
0.4% Mayor and Council

Wine License Causes conflicted Loyalties in South Berkeley

By Jane Stillwater
Thursday December 15, 2011 - 10:40:00 AM

I have become very bothered, concerned and, well, torn in two directions lately because of the fact that my friendly neighborhood Walgreens store right across the street from me on Oregon and Adeline here in South Berkeley has apparently declared war on Bill Bahou, the kind-hearted owner of Roxie Deli, located at the corner of Shattuck and Ashby. 

Walgreens, apparently, is desperately trying to gain possession of the beer & wine license that is currently owned by Roxie Deli -- and this battle over the license is starting to get ugly. 

To me, this struggle is a great shame and complete disaster because I love the Roxie Deli and realize that its beer & wine license makes all the difference in the world to its owner who is running a good local business and is struggling to make ends meet. In addition, Bahou is a genuine good guy who has been known to do many kind deeds in the community in addition to serving really good food. Plus Bahou is also a long-time supporter of the fabulous Berkeley Daily Planet! 

But on the other hand, I also like the ease and convenience of having a Walgreens store situated right across the street from me, and would love to have Walgreens have a beer & wine license too -- but not at the expense of snatching it out of the hands of the nice guy who owns the Roxie.  

But first, before you also become all bothered, concerned and torn as well, here's a bit of background information on this latest range war in South Berkeley: Apparently our local Walgreens can't have a beer & wine license all their own because of some City of Berkeley ordinance that doesn't allow anyone with a prior license infraction to obtain a new one. And Walgreens does have an old prior -- but it is for an infraction committed by a Walgreens store in Southern California, not here. And now the Berkeley Walgreens can't get a license under Berkeley laws because of what had happened way down in SoCal. And so our local Walgreens has turned its attention toward the poor sweet innocent Roxie Deli. 

However, this issue does appear to be solvable -- with major legal warfare being successfully avoided. 

But in order to resolve this conflict amicably, we who are the neighbors of both stores and who are the ones who would most benefit from an amiable solution that would make both Walgreens and Roxie happy -- we ourselves need to ask the City of Berkeley to either change its laws in this matter so that what happens in SoCal stays in SoCal, or to amend said laws in order to let this new deal go through. 

So in order to avoid conflict between two of my most favorite stores in South Berkeley (besides, of course, the Berkeley Bowl), please call, e-mail or write to your Berkeley city council representative today and BEG him or her to change or rescind this law -- as it applies to Walgreen and Roxie. 

Then war will be averted and South Berkeley will at peace once again. Whew!

Occupy Berkeley Beer Committees

from the OccupyBerkeley website: http://occupyberkeley.org/occupy-berkeley-beer-committees/
Wednesday December 14, 2011 - 11:12:00 AM

The Occupy movement, broadly speaking, is about remedying the large-scale political and economic inequality that exists in this world, about fixing a system which currently allows the most wealthy Americans to use their wealth to obtain a monopoly on political power and to use that political power to further enrich themselves at the expense of the 99%. The 99% of Americans that the system is currently rigged against, while having common grievances against the economic and political systems under which we live, also have a huge variety of different lifestyles, work schedules, preferences, etc. We understand that not everyone can camp out in the park every night, and it’s also okay if not everyone wants to. We also understand that not everyone is able to join a nightly General Assembly because of jobs, families, or other commitments. If the 99% are going to prevail in changing the nature of our society for the better, we are going to need widespread participation and this means having organizations that have flexible structures that will accommodate the wide variety of lifestyles and preferences.

Occupy Berkeley is thus calling for more widespread community participation in the form of Occupy Berkeley Beer Committees (OBBCs). These should not be confused with the formal committees or working groups that exist within Occupy Berkeley (which have regular meeting times, point people, and other requirements of regular attendance). OBBCs are built around the idea of the “affinity group”, which is a small collection of individuals (say, 5-20) that are united under a common desire to do something. You can form an OBBC with your friends, your work colleagues, your family, or people that you meet online through Occupy-related forums and websites. 

So what does an OBBC actually do? Good question. The answer is anything you want. Maybe you are interested in holding a bake sale to raise money for Occupations, doing a flash-mob at a big box store in the area, creating artwork to assist Occupations in planning their events, holding a teach-in about a topic you are experienced in, maintaining a blog about the Occupy movement, getting politicians to publicly voice support for the movement, organizing others to attend the next big demonstration, picketing a bank, or even just sitting around talking about the movement and where it’s headed. 

Why is it called a “beer committee”? Do I have to drink beer? While we think it should be an option, the concept of the “beer committee” is simply to convey that your OBBC can be as laid-back and informal as your group wants it to be. It can just be about meeting up, tossing a few back, and talking about Occupy. Or you can be interested in hard-core serious actions. Or you can fluctuate between the two. Again, it’s up to you. 

Each OBBC will be allowed, but not required, to post weekly updates on the Occupy Berkeley website in a new section called “beer committees”. This is a great way to see what other BCs are talking about. Maybe your BC will have a good idea that other BCs want to help make a reality, or maybe you’ll be inspired by something someone else suggested. 

The primary benefits of the BC structure to the movement is that they 

Allow members to organize themselves at a time and place that fit their own schedule. Allow members to associate and work with others that they have common interests with and enjoying being around. Allow for an unobstructed means to useful action. 

Again, the movement needs you. It needs your time, your ingenuity, your skills, and your vocal support. Form a Occupy Berkeley Beer Committee with those you know, help the movement meet its goals, and give yourself stories and insight into the movement so that when your grandchildren ask you “What was it like to be alive when the people finally made historic changes to create a more fair and sustainable society?”, you’ll have an answer that they’ll be excited to hear. 

If your BC is interested in posting on the Occupy Berkeley website please email info@occupyberkeley.org.

Oil Spill Shows that U.C. Berkeley's Disaster Plans Are Inadequate

By Linda Franklin
Monday December 12, 2011 - 05:52:00 PM

I am writing with deep concern about the inadequacy of UCB's disaster prep plans as evidenced by their handling of the diesel spill on campus this Saturday night. 

UC didn't get a clean up crew out til daylight, more than 13 hours after the spill occurred. UC didn't put a boom across the creek to prevent the spill from running downstream. EPA later claimed that no fuel reached the bay, but residents saw fuel oil at the mouth of the creek early Sunday morning. This stuff was sticky and clings to the rocks and plant material along the creek... it is still there and will be washing down for weeks. 

I don't this this is an adequate response. What if the fuel had been more flammable? What it if had been a spill of radioactive material (used in biochem studies)? What if it was a really toxic lab chemical? Several other buildings also have diesel fuel tanks of this size...What will be done to keep their sump pumps from pumping toxic materials into our creeks and environment again. How can citizens best respond when they observe a toxic hazard? 

This should be a wakeup call that UC's disaster prep plans need more attention. 

I request that the city council investigate UC's handling of the diesel spill, ask Environmental Health, Public Health and other relevant departments to look into their readiness and hold public hearings on the matter. 

also request that the January 2012 Community Health Commission meeting include a discussion of this issue. 


Republican Affect for 2012

By Jack Bragen
Monday December 12, 2011 - 05:49:00 PM

My usage of the word “affect” in this article is that of a psychological term used by clinicians to describe their emotional impression of their patients. It is the nonfactual impression that we get of a person, and it is often responsible for how well a politician connects with the public. (Notice that I am transplanting use of the term from psychology to politics.) 

If you look, for example, at the affect of Bill Clinton, or Barack Obama, it speaks to you and says that you are looking at a good person. Even Mitt Romney (despite his bad positions on the issues) has an acceptable affect that we can connect to and that shows as President there will be some amount of care. This is a psychological test that I am talking about and it is done by merely looking at someone. Psychotherapists are allowed to comment on a patient’s affect where there is a complete absence of fact to support their impression. 

For example, when you look at a photo or film of Adolf Hitler or of Osama Bin Laden, you might get the “creeps” which includes a spine-tingling horrified sensation. Such an impression apparently doesn’t need facts to support it according to modern practices of psychology. (Yet in the case of those two examples, the facts to back up the impression of evil are obviously present.) 

Purely from the perspective of affect, if you were to look at a film or a photo of George W. Bush, you might think you were looking at Mad Magazine’s Alfred E. Newman, saying; “what, me worry?” In other words, Bush’s affect resembles that of a cartoon character. That apparent lack of strenuous thought was one of the factors that made him despicable as President. 

Rick Perry resembles and has the affect of the ex boss I had who was the meanest and most abusive I’ve run into in the more than ten years that I was in the workforce. If Perry lives up to the attitude that generated his intolerant, anti-gay advertisements then I believe his chances of becoming President are close to nil. I don’t believe most of the American public feels the same as he. 

The Republican Party has stooped to new lows in the current attempt to retake The White House. In the process of this, they have shown that they are not the party of the future. And, by the way, Newt Gingrich seems to lack an affect whatsoever. Apparently he is so out of touch with himself that his affect is absent. 

Most voters probably decide who to vote for mainly through a gut feeling of which candidate seems the most solid. How well a candidate connects with the public is a major factor in their electability. In this category as well as in actual competence, President Obama is ahead of the republicans, and has very good chances at reelection.


THE PUBLIC EYE:2011: The Year Corporations Attacked Democracy

By Bob Burnett
Saturday December 17, 2011 - 10:56:00 AM

For eighty years, Americans have feared robots, worrying they might one day rule the world. In 2011 we realized our real enemies are not robots, but multinational corporations, who have declared war on democracy. 

In 1936 evil robots made their first film appearance in Flash Gordon. Since then they’ve haunted popular culture, because robots can be designed to perform human functions yet have no conscience – they are programmed to achieve their objectives no matter the consequences. This nightmare vision reached an apogee in the 1999 film the Matrix. The movie depicts a world where robots, the “sentinels,” run everything and humans have become an energy source. Robots maintain control by enveloping Americans in a simulated reality – we have no idea what’s happening to us. 

In 2011 multinational corporations ran most of the US but the average American didn’t realize this because corporations controlled our reality. 

Although the concept of a “corporation” is 400 years old, the modern US corporation evolved from an 1886 Supreme Court decision. Until the end of World War II most Americans did not work for corporations. Now the typical wage earner works in a corporate setting. 

Over the past 50 years, corporate power grew. In his 1961 farewell address, President Eisenhower warned, “we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence… by the military-industrial complex.” Ike should have alerted Americans to the threat of corporations, in general. 

The sixties and seventies saw a new era of global trade and the advent of multinational corporations. In 1981 Ronald Reagan became President and “Reaganomics” became the dominant ideology. At the forefront of this philosophy were three malignant notions: helping the rich get richer would inevitably help everyone else, “a rising tide lifts all boats;” markets were inherently self correcting and there was no need for government regulation; and the US did not need an economic strategy because of the “free” market. The Reagan administration viewed unfettered corporations as a vital component of a free market and deliberately unleashed a pernicious threat to democracy. 

Once Reagan came to power the number of Washington lobbyists grew from a few hundred to an estimated 40,000 – in 2009 Federal lobbyists expended $3.5 billion. Multinational corporations sponsor most lobbyists either directly or indirectly through organizations such as the United States Chamber of Commerce. 

Under Reagan, the Justice Department softened enforcement of the Sherman Antitrust Act and other statutes limiting the growth of corporations, in general, and monopolies in specific. As a consequence, five giant corporations now control most of the US media industry – and manipulate the reality of average citizens. 

Despite these changes, until recently most Americans were unaware of the threat posed by multinational corporations – unless their job had been shipped overseas or their cable provider dropped their favorite TV channel. Then three things combined to wake up the 99 percent. 

In September of 2008, the US walked to the edge of a profound financial crisis. In response Congress authorized a $700 Billion bailout and funds went to financial giants such as AIG, Bank of America, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, and Wells Fargo – the same corporations whose reckless policies had caused the crisis. Average Americans asked, “What about me? Where’s my bailout?” 

In January of 2010, the Supreme Court decided the Citizens United case and strengthened the notion that corporations have “personhood” and, therefore, enjoy the same rights as ordinary individuals, including the right of free speech. (For a compelling account of how the bizarre notion that corporations enjoy the same constitutional rights as human beings has evolved, see radio host Thom Hartmann’s book, Unequal Protection.) The Citizens United decision allowed corporations to spend unlimited funds in political contests. Members of the 99 percent bellowed, “Since when do corporations have the same rights that I have?” 

In November of 2010, because of their new political clout, corporations were able to shift control of the House of Representatives to Republicans. Since the GOP took over in January 2011, this has become the most corporation-friendly legislative body in American history. Republicans have consistently thwarted efforts to have multinational corporations – and their executives – pay their fair share. Republicans behavior has been so egregious that average Americans were outraged: “Why do corporations get special treatment when I can’t pay my bills?” (Mother Jones reports that corporations are gearing up to spend billions more to buy the 2012 election.) 

In the Matrix the hero, Neo, breaks out of his simulated reality and joins a band of human insurgents, who battle the evil robots to regain control of earth. Occupy Wall Street is an insurgent movement that strives to get average Americans to break out of their simulated reality and battle evil corporations. 

In 2011 our worst fears were realized. It’s not evil robots but instead multinational corporations that want to control the world and, in the process, destroy democracy. Like humanoid robots, corporations have no conscience – they are programmed to achieve their objectives no matter the consequences to humans or the planet. Now it’s up to the insurgency to save democracy. 

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

WILD NEIGHBORS: Alameda’s Turn (and Terns)

By Joe Eaton
Thursday December 15, 2011 - 10:49:00 AM

It’s been a long time coming, but the Alameda County Breeding Bird Atlas is finally available from Golden Gate Audubon. Based on intensive fieldwork in the 1990s, this book is a splendid addition to the shelf of Bay Area atlases. So far we have Marin, Sonoma, Napa, Contra Costa, Santa Clara, and now Alameda. I believe a Solano project is in the works. A San Francisco atlas would be slender, but perhaps surprising. How about it, Audubon? 

The Alameda atlas has text by Bob Richmond, Helen Green, and David Rice; occurrence maps by Rusty Scalf, who has been documenting the spread of western bluebirds in Berkeley; and handsome paintings by Hans Peeters, a local artist who also illustrated the mammal, raptor, and owl guides in the UC Press California Natural History Guide series. 

The compilers used standard survey protocols to categorize the likelihood that birds are nesting, not just passing through. A singing male in suitable habitat during breeding season rates a “possible.” For “probable,” you would need observations of territorial defense, courtship, mating, or agitated behavior by presumed parent birds. “Confirmed” requires nest building, eggs or young in a nest, eggshells, adults carrying food, or, in the hand, physiological evidence of breeding like an enlarged brood patch. 

Surveys produced evidence of breeding for 175 bird species; four more were added after the atlas period. As always with these projects, there were a few surprises. Isolated breeding records for lesser scaup, redhead, pelagic cormorant, black-chinned hummingbird, purple martin, hermit thrush, cedar waxwing, yellow-breasted chat, yellow-headed blackbird, and pine siskin may have been one-off events. Alternatively, the chat record may represent the last stand of an almost-extirpated population that depended on dwindling riparian habitat. Some birds, like the reclusive sharp-shinned hawk, were found to be more abundant as breeders than expected. 

The atlas is not just a collection of maps: it’s a compendium of stories. Having birded the county for some years, I see it as a kind of family album. Here’s the Arctic tern that paired with a local Forster’s tern at the Hayward Regional Shoreline and produced several broods of confusing hybrid offspring. Here’s the triumphant return of the bald eagle as a breeding species, when a female hatched in Alaska and a male of unknown provenance set up housekeeping at Del Valle Reservoir. Here’s the whole saga of the California least terns at the former Alameda Naval Air Station.  

Here’s the lowdown on the ubiquitous Canada geese, all apparently descendants of hunting casualties introduced to Lake Merritt by naturalist Paul Covel in 1956. 

One of several appendices lists birds whose county ranges and populations have increased. It’s an impressive roster, including grebes, egrets, gulls, stilts, avocets, corvids, and nuthatches. Cooper’s and red-shouldered hawks have prospered in urban areas. Some songbirds have followed plantings of conifers (red-breasted and pygmy nuthatches, dark-eyed juncos) or palms (hooded oriole.) The recent crow boom is acknowledged, although not explained (“It is unknown why American Crow has increased noticeably in urban areas in recent years, because food sources have always been readily available there.”) 

Another appendix notes species of special concern whose breeding populations have been declining: some raptors, the clapper rail, and a number of songbirds with special habitat requirements. The loss of coastal wetlands and riparian zones is a recurring factor. 

Anyone with even a half-serious interest in local bird populations should have this book. It’s available at the Golden Gate Audubon office at 2530 San Pablo Avenue for $22 ($20 for Audubon members) and would make a fine holiday gift for the birders on your list.

ECLECTIC RANT: Is Water Fluoridation Safe?

By Ralph E. Stone
Saturday December 17, 2011 - 11:01:00 AM

Fluoride is the name given to a group of compounds that are composed of the naturally occurring element fluorine and one or more other elements. In the early 1940s, scientists discovered that people who lived where drinking water supplies had naturally occurring fluoride levels of approximately 1.0 part fluoride per million parts water (ppm) had fewer dental caries (cavities). More recent studies have supported this finding. Fluoride can prevent and even reverse tooth decay by enhancing remineralization, the process by which fluoride “rebuilds” tooth enamel that is beginning to decay. In 1945, Grand Rapids, Michigan adjusted the fluoride content of its water supply to 1 ppm and thus became the first city to implement community water fluoridation in a public water system. 

On January 7, 2011, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Agency (HHS) announced a proposal recommending that water systems practicing fluoridation adjust their fluoride content to 0.7 mg/L ppm, as opposed to the previous temperature-dependent optimal levels ranging from 0.7 mg/L to 1.2 mg/L. www.cdc.gov/fluoridation/fact_sheets/cwf_qa.htm#5 

About 70 percent of community water systems in the U.S. are treated with fluoride. Water fluoridation is used in varying degrees in some countries, including Australia, Brazil, some parts of Canada, Chile, Ireland, Malaysia, and Vietnam, but Continental Europe largely does not fluoridate water. Some countries fluoridate salt. 

In California only about 30 percent of water systems are fluoridated, partly because of the high cost of fluoridating its highly complicated water systems. The California Department of Public Health provides a "California Statewide Fluoridation Table" www.cdph.ca.gov/certlic/drinkingwater/Documents/Fluoridation/PWS%20Statewide%20Fluoridation%20Table%202011.pdf showing the California water systems with fluoride. A state law passed in 1995 www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/waisgate?WAISdocID=98920013026+0+0+0&WAISaction=retrieve, mandated that if the money for equipment and initial maintenance costs are provided by sources other than the utility or its customers, water companies must build fluoridation systems. California has identified and prioritizes 150 cities for fluoridation but never funded the program. 

Fluoride is naturally found in low concentration in drinking water and food and the ocean contains between 1.2 and 1.5 ppm. Fluoridated toothpaste is another main source of fluoride. Other fluoride-containing dental products include gels, varnishes, pastes, and restorative materials. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) regulates toothpastes and other dental products but not fluoride in our water systems. Efforts have been made to get Congress to allow the FDA to regulate water additives, but such efforts have failed so far. 

The American Dental Association, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the American Medical Association, the U.S. Surgeon General, and the World Health Organization all support fluoridation. The CDC calls water fluoridation one of 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century. www.cdc.gov/fluoridation If fluoride is beneficial to health, then why is water fluoridation so controversial?  

Below are some "Myths & Facts: Possible responses to common anti-fluoride claims." www.ilikemyteeth.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/Myths-and-Facts-Sheet-2.pdf  

* Opponents argue that fluoridation is a violation of the individual's right to informed consent to medication. Actually fluoride is not a medication. It is mineral naturally found in water and foods. The only question is what level of fluoridation should be added to the water supply. 

* We already can get fluoride in toothpaste, so why do we need it in our drinking water? The CDC reviewed this question in January 2011. After looking at all the ways we might get fluoride – including fluoride toothpaste – the CDC recommended continuing to fluoridate water at 0.7 ppm. Any less puts our teeth at risk. Fluoride toothpaste alone is insufficient, which is why pediatricians and dentists prescribe fluoride tablets to children in non-fluoridated areas. 

* Doesn't fluoridation cause fluorosis causing teeth to turn brown and pitted? Fluorosis is never caused by community water fluoridation because the concentrations are too low. Mild fluorosis – barely noticeable tiny white specs on one’s teeth – is more common, the result of higher-than-normal fluoride intake as a child. This condition, often noticeable only to dentists, is actually an indication of exceptionally strong teeth. Nevertheless, the CDC last year set the recommended level of fluoridation – 0.7 ppm – low enough to avoid even moderate fluorosis while still strengthening teeth. 

* Isn't fluoride especially toxic for small children? Actually, children who drink fluoridated water as their teeth grow will have stronger, more decay resistant teeth over their lifetime.  

* Is tooth decay still a problem in the United States? Tooth decay affects nearly 60 percent of children. Tooth decay causes problems that often last long into adulthood. For example, California children missed 874,000 school days in 2007 due to dental problems. 

* Does fluoridation cause cancer and other serious health problems? The National Cancer Institute has stated: “Many studies, in both humans and animals, have shown no association between fluoridated water and risk for cancer.” In 2006, a panel of the National Research Council—an arm of the National Academies of Science—found no convincing evidence of a causal link between fluoridation and cancer. And according to the American Council on Science and Health, “Historically, anti-fluoride activists have claimed, with no evidence, that fluoridation causes everything from cancer to mental disease.” 

* Is community water fluoridation too costly? No, according to the California Department of Health, the annual cost to fluoridate a community averages $.51 per person per year, depending on community size, labor costs, and type of chemicals and equipment used. This figure amounts to less than the cost of one filling. 

Fluoridation has been found to be safe by scientists and ruled proper by a California Court of Appeal in Hermine Beck v. City Council of Beverly Hills www.actionpa.org/fluoride/lawandcourts/ca-beverly-hills.html, which ruled in a landmark 1973 decision that adding fluoride to water supplies is "a reasonable and proper exercise of the police power in the interest of public health." However, even though scientists declared fluoride safe and effective, and the courts have ruled that adding fluoride to water systems legal, fluoridation is still controversial. For example, see the Fluoride Action Network website www.www.fluoridealert.org

MY COMMONPLACE BOOK: (a diary of excerpts copied from printed books, with comments added by the reader.)

by Dorothy Bryant
Saturday December 17, 2011 - 11:03:00 AM

He who despairs because of the news is a coward, but he who sees hope in the human condition is mad. Albert Camus, 1943, occupied France 

Camus wrote that sentence in his journal as he began dangerous underground work in France against the occupying Nazis. Under these conditions, his terse statement sounds like one of those dark jokes one makes in order to ease tension when engaged in activities that may bring capture, torture, and death at any moment. 

Today, in more “ordinary” times, this statement seems merely an echo of our passing thoughts as we scan the daily news in print or on TV. Do we ever pat ourselves on the back for maintaining this heroic balancing act? 

We should. Happy Holidays. 















(Send the Berkeley Daily Planet a page from your own Commonplace Book)

SENIOR POWER… Whatever became of

By Helen Rippier Wheeler
Thursday December 15, 2011 - 10:52:00 AM

As one ages, one wonders Whatever became of… 

Whatever became of pharmacies that deliver, The ERA, Shirley Dean, fragrant flowers, co-ops, the black metal newspaper boxes all over town, Torvill & Dean, Lux and Lifebuoy, nurses’ caps, hot pants… 


Let’s consider the Kensington Ladies and their Erotic Society. 

Erotic: 1. Of or concerning sexual love and desire; amatory. 2. Tending to arouse sexual desire. 3. Dominated by sexual love or desire . Erotica: Literature or art intended to arouse sexual desire. 

In 1984, Berkeley’s Ten Speed Press -- despite its no fiction, no women’s issues, no sex policies -- published Ladies’ Own Erotica: Tales, Recipes, and Other Mischiefs by Older Women. About it, I wrote: Kensington is an affluent community adjacent to Berkeley, California. The writers are a group of over age-40 ladies who dedicated their book affectionately to the memory of their “patron saint,” Judd Boynton, who introduced “…a group of unassuming women who can teach us men much.” 

The Kensington Ladies were a group of women over forty that included Elvira Pearson, Nell Port, Rose Solomon, Bernadette Vaughan, and instigator Sabina Sedgewick. Their erotica differed from Pleasures: Women Write Erotica. Published the same year by Doubleday and edited by Lonnie Garfield Barbach, it was a compilation of twentieth-century American women authors’ perceptions. Both are in the collections of the Berkeley Public Library. 

In 1996 MJF (a New York publisher, mostly of children’s books), by arrangement with Ten Speed Press, published Ladies' Own Erotica: Two Bestsellers from the Kensington Ladies' Erotica Society Together in One Volume, illustrated by Pat Adler. 

With publication of the Kensington Ladies’ Sex, Death & Other Distractions in 2002, the press declared “Sex book for seniors reveals Kensington's steamy side” and “Ladies first / Pioneering erotica writers club still at it after 26 years.” Previously considered “literature,” it’s become “fiction.” Also that year Ten Speed published The 50-Mile Rule, a guide to carrying out your extramarital affair. Comparing the K Ladies’ then-and-now, can be fun. If you’re interested, as I am not, I recommend Rose Solomon’s early (literature) and later (fiction) pieces, e.g. “Love is a many-gendered thing”. 

With all of us over sixty and a few over seventy, we are engaging in the hilarious struggle of growing old while still pursuing the joy of erotica in everyday life. Kensington Ladies came together in the late seventies at the instigation of Sabina Sedgewick. With her fortieth birthday fast approaching,… we fancied ourselves pioneers, staking a claim to a sexual life for older women. … with the publication of Ladies’ Own Erotica about to become a reality, all of us suddenly balked at parading our fantasies in front of our sons and daughters and mothers and fathers, let alone total strangers. We quickly adopted pseudonyms and impulsively decided to wear masks for our book jacket photo.” 

On March 29, 2008, SexTV (a documentary series) aired The Kensington Ladies' Erotica Society/Valeria Rzianina/A Naked Portrait: The Cowboy (#10.13) starring Elvira Pearson, Sabina Sedgewick, and Valeria Rzianina (see Sexy Art Gallery). 



Taking the Bite Out of Bed Bugs in Senior Housing is a workshop presented by two social workers at the Annual Conference on Aging & Vendor Expo by the Council of Senior Centers and Services of New York City, Inc., which “… serves as a social policy advocate and training and technical assistance resource for more than 200 community based senior service organizations serving over 300,000 elderly New Yorkers.” Other workshops include elder abuse, sex over 60, volunteers and interns, from cluttering to hoarding, and fundraising. 

'Tis the season to be wary of elder financial abuse. Seniors should be advised that the risk of falling victim to elder financial abuse is increasing. In a recent study, elderly women, especially those ages 80-89, were found to be nearly twice as likely to fall victim to financial abuse as men. They often lived alone and frequently required some level of assistance with either health care or home maintenance. Conversely, nearly 60 percent of perpetrators were found to be younger males ages 30-59. In almost all cases reported, financial abuse was achieved through deceit, threats and emotional manipulation of the elder. Some key considerations in avoiding such a situation include: 

  1. Stay active. Engage with others. Isolation increases opportunity for victimization. 

  2. Monitor your financial affairs Double check bank and credit card statements. Use direct deposit when possible and sign your own checks. 

  3. Stay organized. Know where your financial documents are (including wills, trusts, and power of attorney). Keep them safe and review annually. 

  4. Discuss benefits of appointing a Power of Attorney so that your directives can be adhered to even if you become incapable of stating them yourself.
  5. Be cautious in making financial decisions. Do not allow anyone to pressure you into making a hasty decision. Never give out bank account, social security or credit account numbers.
  6. Protect your passwords. Do not share banking, computer or ATM passwords with others, and notify company or bank if you notice any questionable charges or transactions.  


  7. Beware of telephone solicitations. It is not rude to hang up when an unknown caller tries to talk you into doing something you don't want to do. Hang up! Then call the National Do Not Call Registry at 1-888-382-1222.  


  8. Elder financial abuse can be committed by anyone, including caregivers or family members. Be wary if anyone pressures you to do something with your money or possessions that you are not sure you want to do (e.g. adding their name to your bank accounts or property titles). Be especially careful of someone who tries to keep you isolated from others, and call a trusted friend or family member or the police.  


  9. Know what to do if you suspect you are a victim of financial abuse. Put aside your fear or embarrassment and discuss your concerns with someone you trust.  




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

Saturday, Dec. 17. 11 A.M. Landlord/Tenant Counseling. Central Berkeley Library, 2090 Kittredge. 510-981-6100. 

Saturday, Dec. 17. 12:30 P.M. San Francisco Gray Panthers Holiday Party. 1182 Market, Room 203. 415-552-8800. 

Saturday, Dec. 17. 3:30 P.M. The Knitting Hour. Berkeley Public Library West Branch, 1125 University. 510-981-6270. 

Monday, Dec. 19. 12:30 – 1:30 P.M. Albany YMCA/Albany Library brown Bag Lunch Speaker’s Forum: Matt Johanson discusses Yosemite Epics: Tales of Adventure from America’s Greatest Playground. At the Albany Library, 1247 Marin Av. Free. 510-526-3720. 

Monday, Dec. 19. 7 P.M. Book Club. Josephine Tey’s Daughter of Time. Tey is known as the mystery writer for those who don’t like mysteries! Kensington Library, 61 Arlington Ave. Free event. 510-524-3043. Each meeting starts with a poem selected and read by a member with a brief discussion following the reading. New members are always welcome. 

Wednesday, Dec. 21. 1:30 P.M. Berkeley Commission on Aging. Meets at South Berkeley Senior Center, 2939 Ellis Street. Check the City online community calendar to verify or call the Center, 510-981-5170. 

Wednesday, Dec. 21. 7 – 8 P.M. The Adult Evening Book Group will read Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen. Facilitated discussion. Come to one meeting, or all meetings. Albany branch of the Alameda County library, 1247 Marin Av. Books are available at the Library. 510-526-3720 x 16. 

Thursday, Dec. 22. 12:30 P.M. Mastick Senior Center. Birthday Party Celebration All members celebrating a birthday in December are invited to join us in Dining Room 2 for cake, music, balloons, and good cheer. Mastick Senior Center, 1155 Santa Clara Ave., Alameda. 510-747-7510. 

Thursday, Dec. 22. 6-8 P.M. Lawyers in the Library. Berkeley Public Library West Branch, 1125 University. 510-981-6270. 

Wednesday, Dec. 28. 1:30 P.M. East Bay Gray Panthers. 510-548-9696. Meets at North Berkeley Senior Center, 1901 Hearst. 

Wednesday, Dec. 28. 1:30 – 2:30 P.M. Great Books Discussion Group. Albany Library, 1247 Marin Av. Holiday lunch and selection discussion. 510-526-3720 x 16. 


Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2012. 1-2:30 P.M. Book Club members will read French Lessons by Ellen Sussman. Mastick Senior Center, 1155 Santa Clara Ave., Alameda. Free. 510-747-7510. 

Tuesday, Jan 3. 12 Noon. League of Women Voters. Albany branch, Alameda County Library, 1247 Marin Av. Free. 510-526-3720. 

Wednesday, Jan. 4. 9 A.M. – 1:30 P.M. AARP Driver Safety Refresher Course specifically designed for motorists age 50+. Taught in one-day. To qualify, you must have taken the standard course within the last 4 years. Preregistration is a must. There is a $12 per person fee for AARP members (AARP membership number required) and $14 per person fee for non-AARP members. Registration is payable by check ONLY made payable to AARP. Mastick Senior Center, 1155 Santa Clara Ave., Alameda. 510-747-7510. 

Wednesday, Jan. 4. 12 noon. Playreaders at Central Berkeley Library, 2090 Kittredge. 510-981-6100. See also Jan. 11, 18, 25. 

Wednesday, Jan 4. 6 P.M. Lawyer in the Library. Albany branch, Alameda County Library, 1247 Marin Av. Free. 510-526-3720. Sign up in advance 

Thursday, Jan. 5. 10 A.M. Computers for Beginners. Central Berkeley Library, 2090 Kittredge. 510-981-6100. See also Jan. 12, 19, 26. 

Monday, Jan. 9. 6 P.M. Evening Computer Class. Central Berkeley Library, 2090 Kittredge. 510-981-6100. See also Jan. 16, 23 and 30. 

Tuesday, Jan. 10. 1 P.M. Sugar Blues or What? Come be inspired, find ways to beat cravings, find specific tools to make healthier choices with Neta O’Leary Sundberg, Certified Health coach-Yoga teacher. Mastick Senior Center, 1155 Santa Clara Ave., Alameda. 510-747-7510. 

Tuesday, Jan. 10. 7 P.M. Poetry Night. Albany branch, Alameda County Library, 1247 Marin Av. Free. 510-526-3720. 

Wednesday, Jan. 11. 12 noon. Playreaders. Central Berkeley Library, 2090 Kittredge. 510-981-6100. See also Jan. 18, 25. 

Thursday, Jan. 12. 6 P.M. Lawyers in the library. Berkeley Public Library south branch. 1901 Russell. 510- 981-6100. 

Thursday, Jan. 12. 7 P.M. Café Literario. Berkeley Public Library west branch. 1125 University. Facilitated Spanish language book discussion. January title: La tabla de Flandes by Arturo Perez-Reverte. 510-981-6270. 

Friday, Jan. 13. 9:30 – 11:30 A.M. Creating Your Personal Learning Network. Learn to use the Internet and tools like Twitter and YouTube Mastick Senior Center, 1155 Santa Clara Ave., Alameda. 510-747-7510. Also Feb. 17. 

Wednesday, Jan. 18. 7 P.M. Adult Evening Book Group. Ian McEwan’s Atonement. Albany branch, Alameda County Library, 1247 Marin Av. Free. 510-526-3720. 

Thursday, Jan. 19. 12 Noon. Learn what identity theft is, how to prevent it, and what you can do if you become a victim. This is one in a series of free financial education seminars taught by USE Credit Union. Central Berkeley Library, 2090 Kittredge. 510-981-6100. 

Thursday, Jan. 19. 6 P.M. Lawyers in the Library. Berkeley Public Library west branch. 1125 University 510-981-6270. See also Jan. 26. 

Sunday, Jan. 22. 1:30 P.M. Book Intro Film: Romeo and Juliet. Discussion group participants read the play at home and then gather at Berkeley’s Central Library, 2090 Kittredge Street to view the film adaptation. Following the film, participants will discuss the play, the film and the adaptation process. Sponsored by the Friends of the Library, this free program offers adult and teen patrons the opportunity to discuss books, films and the art of adaptation. Participation is limited and registration is required. 510-981-6236. 

Monday, Jan. 23. 10:30 – 11:30 A.M. Learn to Create a YouTube Video Jeff Cambra, Alameda Currents producer, will share the basics of shooting a good video and how to get it uploaded to YouTube. No equipment or experience needed. Mastick Senior Center, 1155 Santa Clara Ave., Alameda. 510-747-7510. 

Monday, Jan. 23. 12:30 P.M. YMCA/Albany Library Brown Bag Lunch. Speaker’s Forum: Fariba Nawa’s Opium Nation. Albany branch, Alameda County Library, 1247 Marin Av. Free. 510-526-3720. 

Monday, Jan. 23. 7 P.M. Kensington Library Book Club. The Surrendered by Chang-rae Lee. 61 Arlington Av. Free. Book group meetings are usually held on the fourth Monday of every month in the library at 7:00 p.m. Each meeting starts with a poem selected and read by a member with a brief discussion following the reading. New members are always welcome. 510-524-3043. 

Tuesday, Jan. 24. 1 P.M. Doggie Communication 101. Does your dog pull you down the street? Not get enough exercise because you have mobility challenges? Growl or snap? Bark too much? Other annoying or worrisome behaviors? Bring your questions and join dog trainer Ruth Smiler. Mastick Senior Center, 1155 Santa Clara Ave., Alameda. 510-747-7510. 

Wednesday, Jan. 25. 1:30 P.M. Great Books Discussion Group. Albany branch, Alameda County Library, 1247 Marin Av. Free. 510-526-3720. 

Thursday, Jan. 26. 1:30 P.M. Music Appreciation Class. Join William Sturm, Volunteer Instructor. Piano recital and discussion about “The Classical Romantic: Johannes Brahms.” Mastick Senior Center, 1155 Santa Clara Ave., Alameda. 510-747-7510. 
















AGAINST FORGETTING: Occupy: You Can't Evict an Idea

By Ruth Rosen
Monday December 12, 2011 - 05:55:00 PM

As snowstorms and freezing rain announce the arrival of winter, it’s hard to remember that the Occupy Wall Street movement emerged just a few months ago, in September. Enraged by the government bailout of Wall Street, but not of those who had lost their jobs and homes, angry at the rise of university tuition, frightened by the precarious decline of the middle class, several generations---not only the young--- began a movement that quickly spread from Zuccotti park in New York across the nation. “We are the 99%,” they chanted, until it became the slogan of the movement. The 1%, they explained, owned as much wealth as the rest of the population.  

Now that the police have dispersed most of the encampments, often with gratuitous and unnecessary cruelty, many protesters are asking, “What next?” The answer to that question is unclear and will unfold in time, but now is a good time to pause and assess how the Occupy movement has affected American political culture. 

Many of these changes are hidden in plain sight. The Occupy movement, for example, has eclipsed the media’s obsessive coverage of the right-wing Tea Party. The difference between these movements has also become clearer. While the Tea Party blames the government for the current economic crisis, the Occupy movement has identified corporate greed and the financial industry as the real thieves of Americans’ lives. 

The emphasis on wealth inequality has also made it possible to discuss class in a society in which the much of the middle class has considered itself potential members of the wealthy. As they have lost their jobs and homes, the middle class has come see itself as part of the 99%, rather than as potential members of the 1%. The taboo on discussing the struggles of the poor and the economic insecurity of the middle class has faded. The Occupy movement has allowed people to discuss the privileges of the rich in a nation that has long viewed “class warfare” as a treasonous idea. 

Most importantly, the movement has changed the national conversation. Although protesters have often lost focus and targeted the police or a university as the enemy, large numbers of Americans no longer seem to fear allegations that they are card-carrying card members of a revolutionary sect. At encampments and during marches, which I saw at the Oakland Occupation, small businesses demonstrate their support with the sign, “We are the 99%.” Unions, nurses and teachers proudly march with banners emblazoned with “We are the 99%.” Local and national websites for the Occupy movements inform activists of approaching marches and rallies. Fueled by social media, visible everywhere--- in physical encampments, marches and rallies--- the Occupy movement is hard to ignore. 

The movement has clearly affected the electorate. In California, for example, nearly half of registered voters, in the respected Field Poll, responded that they personally identify with the Occupy movement on Nov. 29th. Even more said they agreed with the reasons behind the protest. 

True, California is a “blue state” well-known for its liberal voters. But the movement seems to resonate among workers, students and the elderly around the nation. In early December almost forty percent of those polled in the latest Associated Press-GfK poll said they supported the Wall Street protest and fifty-eight percent added that they felt furious about America's politics 

Politicians cannot ignore so many voices. For President Obama and Democrats, who have demonstrated weak leadership, to put it mildly, the movement is manna sent from heaven. As Democrats prepare to battle Republicans to extend cuts in payroll taxes for the 99%, they have adopted the language and metaphors of the Occupy movement. The New York Times quoted Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, as saying “We are changing the debate and the public is with us.” To prove his point, Schumer noted that on RedState.com, a popular Web site among conservatives, blogger Erick Erickson wrote, “I never thought I would see the day, but Democrats are out maneuvering Republicans on a tax cut (for the poor and middle class).” 

Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California, aware of the movement’s anger at the failure of Democrats to protect the 99%, nevertheless says that "the movement's key issues like addressing income inequality are still wildly popular and Democrats will benefit from that." On December 6, President Obama ventured into the hostile heartland of Kansas to issue a populist speech that freely used the language of the Occupy protests. Warning that the country was losing its middle class, he noted that the average income of the top 1 percent is now $1.2 million a year. 

Meanwhile, USA Today reported that 11% of members of Congress have a net worth of more than $9 million and that 57% are among the 1%. For many activists, those figures confirm their belief that their elected officials do not, for the most part, represent the 99%. 

Not surprisingly, conservative pundits and analysts have been blindsided; for thirty years they created and dominated the terms of political debate. Frank Luntz, the conservative guru who taught the right-wing how to frame political ideas, has clearly been rattled by the sudden upsurge of a new conversation he didn’t create. 

It takes a lot to scare Frank Lutz, who came up with such brilliant frames as “death panels” to derail health care or “death taxes” to eliminate inheritance taxes.” Yet at a recent Republican Governor’s Association meeting on December 1, Luntz told attendees that he’s “scared of the anti-Wall Street effort. "I'm frightened to death," he said. The movement, he fears is “having an impact on what the American people think of Capitalism.” 

Trying to educate conservative politicians, he warned them not to mention Capitalism, because too many people may think it’s “immoral.” Instead, he urged them to empathize with the 99% and to let voters know that you “get it.” He also told them to replace the words “Christmas bonuses,” (which in the financial industry can run into the tens of millions) with ‘pay for performance.’ Conservatives, he said, should not skirt the idea of taxing millionaires by emphasizing how the government “takes from the rich.” 

The movement, in short, has challenged the rightward tilt of the political landscape, even if the mainstream media didn't immediately grasp the appeal of the Occupy movement. In the early weeks, the encampments initially gained visibility and influence through the Internet. Now, in Hampshire, the influential Union Leader, whose endorsement is carefully watched by political pundits, rejected former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney because he “Represents the 1%” 

The New York Times, as usual, took a while to realize that the Occupy movement was a serious protest. By December 1, however, they truly “got it” and ran a headline “Camps are Cleared, but ‘99%’still Occupies the Lexicon.” By then, the Times had clearly understood that the “occupy movement protests have succeeded in making “We are the 99%” a slogan that has became “a national shorthand for the income disparity. Easily grasped in its simplicity and Twitter-friendly in it brevity, the slogan had practically dared listeners to pick a side.” 

The article then recounted a series of incidents that revealed how much the movement had transformed national consciousness. Within weeks of the movement’s Occupy Wall Street at Zuccotti Park in New York, politicians began “siezing” the language. In Congress, the paper noted, Democrats began “to invoke the “99 percent” to press for the passage of President Obama’s jobs act, in addition to legislation on mine safety, Internet access rules, and voter identification law. Searches on Google for the term “99 percent,” increased sevenfold between September and October.” 

Conservative pundits, and even many liberal supporters, have argued that the movement has no ideas. But filmmaker and activist Michael Moore and others in the Occupy movement have proposed legislative initiatives and policy changes that would drastically decrease wealth inequity. Moreover this movement has, since its beginning, sent one clear and powerful message: wealth inequality is incompatible with democracy

Consider, too, that this movement is only three months old. It took a decade for the Civil Rights movement to eliminate legal apartheid and another ten years to end the Vietnam War. It took a decade before legislation and court decisions addressed women’s grievances. In the age of the Internet, of course, movements can go viral within days. But had there been no widespread outrage and sense of injustice, the Occupy movement would have stalled, rather than spread across the nation. Many Americans were ready to add their voices to a movement that reflected their insecurity and suffering. 

As the police cleared the Los Angeles encampment, the prominent radical journalist Robert Sheer picked up a sign, “You can’t arrest an idea.” In a moment of despair, he wrote, “Actually, you can, and the bankers have, as a result, been able to reoccupy Los Angeles’ City Hall and every other contested outpost of power throughout the Nation.” Activists, however, instantly protested on the Internet, "You can't evict an idea." 

I agree with them. The future will reveal whether this movement will gain enough influence to create a more egalitarian society that is the basis of a genuine democracy. But first, any successful movement must change the national conversation and create and dominate the terms of debate. This the Occupy movement has successfully done, for now. Economic insecurity is pandemic. At such a moment, no one can evict the idea of the 99%, a slogan that deeply resonates with American people all over the country. 


Ruth Rosen, who will be contributing the Against Forgetting column to the Planet from now on, is Professor Emerita of History at U.C. Davis, is a former columnist for the Los Angeles Times and the San Francisco Chronicle. Her most recent book is The World Split Open: How the Modern Women’s Movement Changed America. She is currently a visiting scholar at the Center for the Study of Right-Wing Movements at U.C. Berkeley. 

Arts & Events

AROUND AND ABOUT: Theater Review: 'The Wild Bride'--Kneehigh Theatre at Berkeley Rep

By Ken Bullock
Thursday December 15, 2011 - 10:41:00 AM

Under a slouch hat, the eyes of the guitarist shift; he grimaces as he sings Robert Johnson's Delta blues "Crossroads" under a tree with a mirror in its splayed branches, but no shade.  

Like Johnson's lyrics, Kneehigh Theatre's 'The Wild Bride' sports a mythic aura--the guitarist turns out to be the Devil (Stuart McLoughlin)--but only in order to vaudevillize itself. Everybody sings, dances, plays music, often narrating themselves or talking to the audience. There's something close to a Christmas Panto in this show, making it a very appropriate holiday show.  

Based on traditional folk-fairytales, the most famous version found in the Brothers Grimm, often called "Silverhands" (which Ragged Wing Ensemble did their own, inimitable take on not long ago, 'Handless'), Kneehigh's show is an engaging potpourri of storytelling theater shtick by a high-energy cast, well-directed by Kneehigh artistic director Emma Rice. The story, a flexible vehicle for a tightly staged production, details how the faithful daughter of a layabout farmer is coveted by the Devil, who tricks the father into making a deal to trade her away.  

But the Devil can't get a purchase on her goodness--so he has her mutilated, degraded, exiled to the wild, all to break down her innocent virtue. She's discovered stealing pears by an eccentric kilt-clad prince (Stuart Goodwin, also the father), who marries her--but is called away to war on the eve of the birth of their child. 

Three women take turns playing the protagonist in her different ages--The Girl (Audrey Brisson), The Wild (Patrycja Kujawska) and The Woman (Eva Magyar)--a hackneyed storytelling theater stunt, here cleanly rendered and fresh. The three performers bring their talents to both the sharing of the role and supporting the action--Brisson in wonderful singing voice, Kujawska playing violin, Magyar with superb movement ... 

Yet all are dynamos at movement and dance. Their charm suffuses the elasticity of the story, which has the off-the-cuff spontaneity of raconteurship, despite the intricate staging and production values--which would be even more effective in Kneehigh's usual haunts: barns and their big tent (The Refuge) in rural Cornwall. 

Ian Ross accompanies the action and songs--and the cast's playing--throughout on various instruments, the music ranging from familiar standards to Eastern European strains. 

There's nothing particularly new about what the company does--it's the impeccable way they put it together, performing seamlessly, yet with great immediacy, feeling and humor. 'The Wild Bride' is a wonderful theatrical entertainment for everyone and anyone. 

Tuesdays through Sundays, different times, through January 1. Roda Theatre 2015 Addison (near Shattuck). $14.50-$73. 647-2949; berkeleyrep.org

EYE FROM THE AISLE: Give yourself a Holiday Present with THE WILD BRIDE at REP

By John A. McMullen II
Thursday December 15, 2011 - 10:38:00 AM
Patrycja Kujawska and Stuart Goodwin
Patrycja Kujawska and Stuart Goodwin

If you wanted to tell a fairy tale on stage, what would you dream of? I’d want a bunch of actors all of whom could sing and dance and play instruments with expressive flexibility and astonishing appearances. 

I’d put a leafless Apple Tree in the middle of the stage so that the actors could climb up and sing from the branches. If we’re going to have an Apple Tree, we’d better have the Devil, too, in homage to the first fairy tale. Add a reprobate parent full of loving kindness, but too in love with the moonshine to see the Devil coming. I’d like to have real fire on stage, and maybe an axe like in Little RRH. Three women: a blonde, a brunette and a redhead; let them all play the same maid/nymph/woman. I read the real Brothers Grimm and they were truly gruesome, so let’s have some mayhem, maybe Shakespearean like in Titus.  

Music throughout. My favorite music is ‘30/’40’s Swing, so I’d like a lot of that. Thunder and lighting flashes for punctuation and to scare me a little. How about a talking painting? And sex—make it acrobatic, comic, and really erotic. Wait, one more thing: a diminutive vocalist whose voice is bigger than the house and who reaches down inside your chest and makes it vibrate with her tones. 

Now make it a touching allegory for the healing of childhood wounds. Maybe like Penn State type wounds (I’m an alum, so I can make the simile). One step further: since most old time marchen are paternalistic, let’s make this a feminist fairy tale. 

My after-the-fact dream has all this and more in the American premiere THE WILD BRIDE, a most extraordinary production, just now extended for 3 weeks at our Berkeley Rep. 

Emma Rice is a theatre magician and shaman. A couple of years ago, her Kneehigh Theatre company’s production of Brief Encounter at ACT had people actually boarding a projected passenger train the full size of the Geary proscenium. That tour de force set to English Musical Hall background in a caffe was dreamlike and did on stage what you mainly have to go to the movies to see. But THE WILD BRIDE is simple and theatre of imagination. 

When something has problems, I can go on and on with what’s wrong and what makes it that way. 

When something is this good, I can only say, GO! NOW! 

So give yourself a holiday present, if you can get a ticket, and take someone you love—they will remember your taking them to this when you’re both old, or older. And on your way out, say a little thank you that you live in Berkeley where you can see extraordinary productions like this.


adapted and directed by Emma Rice, text and lyrics by Carl Grose, Music by Stu Barker 

At BERKELEY REP through January 22. 


Etta Murfitt-Choreographer with additional dance Éva Magyar, Bill Mitchell-Scenic Design, Myriddin Wannell- Costume Design, Malcolm Rippeth-Lighting Design, Simon Baker-Sound Design, Paul Crewes-Producer, Sarah Wright, Props / Puppet Maker 


Audrey Brisson, The Girl 

Stuart Goodwin, The Father and The Prince 

Patrycja Kujawska, The Wild 

Éva Magyar, The Woman 

Stuart McLoughlin, The Devil 

Ian Ross, The Musician 

John A. McMullen II, MFA, SFBATCC, ATCA, SDC has lot of letters after his name instead of $ in the bank. 

E J Dunne edits.

Defend Your Bill of Rights: Candlelight Vigil Thursday 12-15-2011- a public response to S 1867 aka the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)(Event)

By Carol Denney
Wednesday December 14, 2011 - 09:32:00 AM

Join Occupy, Fiddlers for Peace, and the Revolutionary Poets Brigade Thursday, 12 noon, December 15th, 2011, at 101 Market Street in San Francisco (or anywhere you happen to be) to raise a candle for the tattered Bill of Rights.

The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which enables the government to indefinitely jail those suspected of terrorism, had only a handful of voices opposing it in Congress.

No need to march all over town for this one. Just grab a friend and light a candle, and enjoy being one of Time Magazine’s protesters of the year.

New: AROUND AND ABOUT: Theater Review: 'Adoration of the Magi'--Inferno Theatre at South Berkeley Community Church

By Ken Bullock
Tuesday December 13, 2011 - 09:54:00 PM

"When I was young, I was enchanted with the night. They made me stare into a basin of water and asked me, What do you see?"

Giulio Perrone's Inferno Theatre, after offering up theatrical originals like 'Galileo's Daughters' and 'The Iliad' at the City Club, are staging one of the more original holiday shows, from material used for over a millennium. Jasper (Simone Bloch), Balthasar (Valentina Emeri) and Melchiar (Priscilla Parchia) witness the star of the Epiphany, meet one another, show their gifts, tell their stories and journey together from the East to Judea, meeting with Herod (Alison Sacha Ross) in Jerusalem: "I am so cold, and the moon warms me not"--to find the divine child of peace, heralded also by Virgil's Fourth Eclogue, encountering festivity along the way. 

Displaying their prowess in physical theater, they are joined by trapeze artist Sarah Kaminshine and musician Alejandro Chavez (who goes back and forth between instruments and musical cultures, in particular playing flamenco guitar to Kaminshine's dancing and acrobatics)--and a chorus of students from Inferno's youth drama program at Fruitvale's Manzanita Seed Elementary School. 

'Adoration' touches on much surrounding the story of Christ's birth, surrounded by beasts and pagan admirers who cast his horoscope. Besides Virgil's verses and Mesopotamian astrology, there's allusion to Herod's reaction to the predictions, the Massacre of the Innocents. Perrone remarks in the program that Matthew is the sole canonical Gospel to mention the visit of the Magi, represented as three because of the three gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh ... and that their title refers to the caste of Zoroastrian priests from Persia. 

It's a brisk show, alternating the movement of journeys and celebration with quieter moments of reflection and tale-telling. A show meant to appeal to families, to lovers of different cultures--and theater. 

"It is midnight. We are here--or there--or anywhere ... and at the beginning." 

Thursday, December 15 at 8; Friday the 16th at 9; Saturday the 17th at 8; Sunday the 18th at 5; Thursday-Friday the 22nd and 23rd at 8; Sunday the 24th at 3. At historic South Berkeley Community Church, 1802 Fairview (west of Adeline, near Ashby BART). $12-$24, sliding scale. Reservations: 355-2279; infernotheatrecompany@gmail.com; infernotheatre.org

EYE FROM THE AISLE: Theater Review: GOD’S PLOT at Shotgun Players

By John A. McMullen II
Tuesday December 13, 2011 - 09:39:00 AM
Will Hand, Juliana Lustenader, Josh Pollock (Banjo), Anthony Nemirovsky.
Pak Han
Will Hand, Juliana Lustenader, Josh Pollock (Banjo), Anthony Nemirovsky.

Mark Jackson’s latest oeuvre, GOD’S PLOT at Shotgun Players, is like boiled filet mignon. There is much good meat there, but the failure is in its preparation and lack of flavor. It is overdone a half hour past its curtain time.  

Our story is based on the true event of the playing of William Darby’s “Ye Bare & Ye Cubb,” the script of which has been lost. It occurs in a Puritan enclave in Virginia in 1665 on that little peninsula that is an extension of Delaware rather than Virginia proper, whose county name, Accomac, fittingly means “on the other side.” It was eye-opening to learn that there was Puritanism in Virginia; most think of 17th C. Virginia society as followers of Merry Monarch Charles II and the Established Church rather than of the theatre-closing Oliver Cromwell. 

Jackson, whose métier is historical drama, incorporates the themes of stacked-deck economics and religious conformity which were at the heart of our Revolution. The parallels with contemporary society are enlightening, too. Tobacco farmers are losing their homes because they have signed the boilerplate without reading it closely. The King’s Edict limited farmers to selling tobacco only to London merchants at their price and at a loss to the farmers; such colonialist exploitations provided the powder and spark in the next century for The Shot Heard Round the World. Pre-Revolution, this was a Christian Country with constraints and punishments not unlike the most extreme of Sharia law. Public confession is expected from all and meant to satisfy the congregation more than purify the individual soul. Quakerism is outlawed, and repression of other religions inspires zealotry which results in terroristic reprisals. 

Plays are once more permitted, having been outlawed for a decade. But criticism of the king is still forbidden since he rules by Divine Right. So when a satire is performed one Sunday afternoon in the all-purpose tavern/meeting hall, which allegorically attacks the Crown’s tobacco policy, the question is whether to prosecute on the basis of violating the Sabbath or Sedition.  

At the heart of GOD’S PLOT is our blonde hero and heroine. In the family barn, he instructs her on how to deliver her confession convincingly—acting lessons for her church performance. Our hero Carl Holvick-Thomas discloses he was a vagabond actor in England. Our heroine Tryal, played by Juliana Lustenader, the daughter of the community leader and judge, has a rebellious spirit and expresses lustful objectives toward her handsome tutor; Ms. Lustenader is eye-poppingly pretty with long flaxen hair, and she portrays well Tryal’s steel-trap mind in a scene wherein she calmly and rationally exposes her parent’s hypocrisy around the dinner table. It sets her mother to paroxysms in a comic turn skillfully done by Fontana Butterfield. 

While other critics have raved, this eye from the aisle demurs from the general opinion of the finale of Shotgun’s 20th season. Jackson does not serve up the promised feast, and the play does not touch our hearts. The energy goes toward an intellectual pursuit of telling the story of this little-known act of rebellion. We are starved to actually care about these folks. By and large, the acting is cerebral and unemotional which seems due to a lack of anything to sink their teeth into. It could/should be as emotionally compelling as The Crucible, but Jackson chooses a light-hearted turn that only succeeds in his masterful choreography of fine comedic dumb show which provides the main creative moments of relief and joy in this dramatic Slough of Despond. There is little real danger throughout, the stakes are not very high, our couple has only a small bump in their road to true love, dramatic conflict takes a back-seat to putting forth the argument, so it’s hard to get our juices flowing about it all. 

The modernization of the language and diction of the play, rather than bringing it closer, makes it difficult to escape the impression of an ensemble of 21 C. California actors pretending to be 17 C. Virginia folk. There are no dialects which might have given it place, time, and character. The very lengthy monologues and wordy dialogue do not have the poetry which one would expect to be in the mouths of the people of that time. We know from their writings that their mode of expression was not the dross of today. It is only the speech of John Mercer, a native Briton who plays different roles with differing dialects, that demonstrates the wealth of lilt and vowel changes that might have helped to transform this play. Instead we settle for an often inflection-less American blurt. Too often, some actors seemed to be hollering to project with tinny overtones which makes for a teeth-clenching experience. 

The play works best in silence: Jackson is very adept at imaginative theatre, and via a small platform on wheels and a stick and a change of lighting, we are transported down a river on a pole boat toward a clandestine meeting or a property dispute with the play’s curmudgeonly antagonist. 

Nina Ball’s set, as stark and woody as any Separatist church, with a few bare tables and chair, transports us to that world even in preset. There are two bales of hay for the temptation of a roll therein and the punishable sin of fornication. The set fits the premises perfectly: Ashby Stage is a former church with pews for seating and undisguised wooden supporting arches and beams.  

And it has music. But the music in the first act is a cross between comic Klezmer and blues played by a couple of astute musicians on the bass and banjo. Our blonde ingénue sings it all. Problem is, if you cast one person to sing all your songs, that actor should be an accomplished singer, which, for all her vivacity and spunk, our heroine is not. In the second act, the music becomes pure parody. It is jaw-droppingly reminiscent of a grand old comic movie with Lee Marvin and Jane Fonda called “Cat Ballou” wherein Nat King Cole and Stubby Kaye strum banjos and periodically make musical commentary on the action (if you don’t remember, click on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AR1GokIJvBY). Instead of the wealth of old English and Irish music in the genre of that time with its plaintive melodies and jigs, it puzzling why the composer Daveen DiGiacomo, who wrote such compelling music for “God’s Ear,” chose these incongruous and idiosyncratic musical modes. It was not immediately clear from the program who wrote the lyrics which neither move the plot forward nor are witty commentary, and the melody through the second act is repetitive and unvarying.  

Only in the last 5 minutes of the action are we drawn into the drama via a surprisingly chilling dramatic turn by Joe Salazar as a jilted suitor. Jackson has written a natural and ironic ending —at which he regrettably does not stop, but continues to recount the history of America with a patriotic ending and another musical number which devolves into a Broadway bravura ending. 

There is sometimes a problem in theatre when the playwright directs. Theatre is reputedly a collaborative effort as opposed to cinema which is often an auteur creation. We know Jackson capable of crafting incredible theatre work like the 2004 Shotgun production of “The Death of Meyerhold” of which he was both playwright and director. Often a second set of eyes, the mode of conflict and editing, and an additional creative sensibility may have turned this intriguing setting and premise into the kind of fascinating work that is expected from his talent.  



written and directed by Mark Jackson 

Shotgun Players at Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby opposite Ashby BART  

through January 15
www.shotgunplayers.org / (510) 841-6500 x 303 

WITH: Dan Bruno, Fontana Butterfield, Kevin Clarke, Will Hand, Carl Holvick Thomas, Juliana Lustenader, Dave Maier*, John Mercer, Anthony Nemirovsky*, and Joe Salazar (*member of Actors' Equity Association) 

Musicians; Josh Pollock (banjo), Travis Kindred (bass) 

Composer Daveen DiGiacomo, Set Designer Nina Ball, Light Designer Heather Basarab, Costume Designer Christine Crook, Sound Designer Matt Stines, Stage Manager Amanda Krieger, 

Asst Director/Asst Musical Director Beth Wilmurt. 

John A. McMullen II is a member of San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle, American Theatre Critics Association, and Stage Directors and Choreographers Society. Editing by E J Dunne.

Get Ready for the Oakland Museum's White Elephant Sale

By Dorothy Snodgrass
Tuesday December 13, 2011 - 09:39:00 AM

I'm always delighted to receive the announcement of the Oakland Museum of California's White Elephant Sale, this year marking their 53rd Anniversary. Talk about "trash and treasures" -- you name it, they've got it! Because the Warehouse is located at 333 Lancaster Street, Oakland, parking is nigh unto impossible. Shoppers are therefore encouraged to take a free shuttle bus, which runs continuously from the Fruitvale Bart Station to the Warehouse. 

The 2012 Preview Sale is Sunday, January 29th, 10-4:00. Admission is $15 in advance, $20 at the door. (The main sale, free to the public, is on a Saturday and Sunday in March).  

Donations of gently used, good quality items are being accepted at the warehouse door, or may be picked up by the van:(510) 930-5919. 

The White Elephant Sale is the biggest, the best and certainly the most enjoyable rummage sale in Northern California. There are 17 departments, with everything from sporting goods to boutique items, books, furniture, oriental rugs, electrical items, clothing and toys. All are spread out in the 96,000 square foot warehouse according to departments. So, like a child in a candy store, it's hard to know just where to start your shopping. 

It should also be noted here that the Oakland Museum of California features attractive day trips (i.e., "Sounds of the Season and the Hotel Mac" Sunday, December 18th, "Day in the Country: Healdsburg and Cloverdale" , Thursday, Feb. 23rd and "Sunday Brunch, Grand Island Mansion,Sunday, March 11th. 

For information on the White Elephant Sale and the Museum day trips, call Kay MacFarland at (510) 758-6643.