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Tree foreground, and another middle are siblings of the destroyed crab-apple trees Wednesday. Witnesses say the allegedly murdered trees looked healthy and even had apples. Who knows?Too late for an autopsy, the remains are chips.
Ted Friedman
Tree foreground, and another middle are siblings of the destroyed crab-apple trees Wednesday. Witnesses say the allegedly murdered trees looked healthy and even had apples. Who knows?Too late for an autopsy, the remains are chips.


BUSD Retired Board Member Terry Doran Passes after Battle with Cancer

By Mark Coplan (BUSD Information Officer)
Tuesday January 03, 2012 - 09:48:00 AM

Terry Doran began teaching in the Berkeley Unified School District in 1966, serving Berkeley students as a classroom teacher until he retired and ran for the school board in 1998. A cancer survivor, he joined the Board with a sparkle in his eye and high hopes for the eight years he hoped to be on the Board. He was re-elected to a second term, and in his eight years served as board president twice. 

Upon his retirement from the Board in November 2006, he received a proclamation from the Board, noting his "efforts at passing the school parcel taxes Measures BB in 2000, Measure B in 2004 and Measure A in 2006, the improvement of the food quality in the Berkeley public schools, his defense of the Student Assignment Plan and his commitment and affection towards students." 

Former Superintendent Michele Lawrence was quoted in a Daily Planet article on Board President Doran’s retirement. “His humanity came across at every school board meeting public hearing,” said Lawrence. “Since I have been on the board, Terry’s strong advocacy for equality in classrooms and humanity has helped guide my decisions.” 

In his retirement years Doran continued to serve the District and the community serving on various BUSD committees and as a commissioner on the City of Berkeley Zoning Adjustments Board. 

Terry Doran continued his involvement in the community until cancer returned a second time. He died on New Years Day, January 1, 2012. His wife Lenore, sons Colin and Andy, their wives and his grandchildren were with Terry in his last days.

Updated: Water Main Break in Berkeley South Campus Area Is Fixed

By Bay City News
Monday January 02, 2012 - 11:18:00 PM

Crews finished repairs early this morning to a ruptured water main in Berkeley, an East Bay Municipal Utility District spokeswoman said. 

The 6-inch water main burst near Bancroft Way and Fulton Street at around 4:50 p.m. Monday afternoon, EBMUD spokeswoman Andrea Pook said. 

Water was shut off to about 10 commercial customers around 6 p.m. Service was returned to customers by midnight. Crews were on the scene until 2 a.m. to repair the damage, Pook said. 

The cause of the break has yet to be determined, but crews will be returning today to finish clean up and do work on the road, Pook said. 

The streets where water rushed through Monday evening are now open, the spokeswoman said.

Why the University Bulldozing in People's Park Matters (News Analysis)

By Terri Compost
Thursday December 29, 2011 - 11:07:00 PM

The University's recent bulldozer "maintenance" in the Park is problematic in several ways. First, it is a violation of trust and respect. The University snuck into the Park in the early hours with no notice to the community and long time Park volunteers. The Pergola, or trellis in the West End, which UC rather mysteriously decapitated, was designed and agreed upon during almost a year of meetings with University architects and the volunteers who built it. And the information that the University is providing for their recent attack is misleading, if not outright falsehood. I'll eat my hat if the Park sports a native grass and poppy prairie. And how does destroying a trellis deal with rats? please!

Secondly, UC has destroyed precious natural resources that were purchased, planted and tended by volunteers. The list of food producing plants destroyed in the bulldoze include: plum trees, native manzanita, olive, grape vines, kiwi plants, maguay, nopales cactus, and a mature rose bush as well as beautiful plants like pink amaryliss bulb flowers, pyrocantha and a palm like plant donated to the Park by Mario and Rosalinda that was growing by the entrance to their property in the back of the Park. It will take years to replace the food and beauty those plants were producing.

Thirdly, UC is trying to erase history. The incursion itself is a test to see if the People will hold this place as the sacred ground it liberated from the folly of UC in 1969 and has held all these years. Bulldozing is not user development. The Pergola trellis, that was cut in half, was made out of the old growth redwood that was recycled from the volleyball court fiasco of 1991. Also the berms that were removed were actually piles of asphalt that were ripped up by people in 1979 when the University lied, then, about a free parking lot. And the Council Grove surrounded by the plum trees has long been the Park's best meeting place. These are literally testaments of our history that were destroyed.

Also the berms created a peaceful place between two busy streets, they were a feature that good landscape designers desire. UC is trying to implement control and "security". It is up to us to decide if we want recreational areas to resemble prison yards or be living, inspiring, beautiful refuges.

Well now there is a void. I hope people will rise to the challenge and recreate with their friends and their own dreams. Viva People's Park.

Here are some beautiful pictures of the west end of the park before UC's recent "improvements" left it barren: 

Sucker-Punch Attack on People's Park Flora, Removal of Sequoia's Last Remains, Draws Praise and Scorn

By Ted Friedman
Thursday December 29, 2011 - 10:06:00 AM
Come on down! New open, "welcoming," and just plain bare-ass new look of People's Park West-end.
Ted Friedman
Come on down! New open, "welcoming," and just plain bare-ass new look of People's Park West-end.
The whole world will now see what is watching. Whole overgrown scene has opened a new scene.
Ted Friedman
The whole world will now see what is watching. Whole overgrown scene has opened a new scene.
Park volunteer gardens survive drug laws-enforcement cut-back. Is that Remy's, the park's number one fan restaurant?
Ted Friedman
Park volunteer gardens survive drug laws-enforcement cut-back. Is that Remy's, the park's number one fan restaurant?
Tree foreground, and another middle are siblings of the destroyed crab-apple trees Wednesday. Witnesses say the allegedly murdered trees looked healthy and even had apples. Who knows?Too late for an autopsy, the remains are chips.
Ted Friedman
Tree foreground, and another middle are siblings of the destroyed crab-apple trees Wednesday. Witnesses say the allegedly murdered trees looked healthy and even had apples. Who knows?Too late for an autopsy, the remains are chips.

A day after the university back-hoed some crab-apple trees in People's Park it claimed were dead and tore down a historic park pergola, some park regulars were filled with gloom, doom, and anger.

A pergola is a vine-covered archway. A backhoe is a tractor with a scoop up front and a hoe in back. The backhoe sucker-punched the crab-apple trees.

A sucker-punch is an unexpected blow. Not even Telegraph property owners, who had proposed the very actions the university took Wednesday, expected it to happen. They said they were not informed by the university. 

The fact that the deforesting work was done by private contractors says that the university couldn't wait until the grounds and maintenance division returned from winter's break. What was the rush? 

An especially cold winter has reduced the park's population; many travelers have travelled-on to warmer climes. A vacation was announced at Occupy Berkeley. Food-Not-Bombs was handing out less food. 

Berkeley slept. 

In what developed into a clean-up day, on and near Teley, the several-weeks old final remains of the fire-ravished Sequoia are on their way to a cement-lined dump in Nevada, which accommodates severely contaminated debris, according to a source close to the apartment building's owners. 

The contaminate debris was from lead, not asbestos, as many side-walk supervisors had speculated. There was no asbestos in the Sequoia, according to the source. 

According to demolition team foreman, "Freddy" Pena, the Sequoia's final remains will be gone in "two weeks." 

According to my source, who is close to Sequoia's owners, who despise the press,("They always get it wrong")owners Ken and Gary Entplan to re-open the popular Teley businesses, Cafe Intermezzo, and Raleigh's Pub within two months. 

Pappy's, the successor to Larry Blake's will open in January. 

But People's Park supporters have nothing to look forward to, as many I interviewed Thursday, told me they view the unannounced tree-raid as the beginning of the end of People's Park. They see the looming Anna Head West Student Housing project scheduled to open, Aug. 2012 as a nail in their coffins. 

As many as three crab-apple trees, a beloved pergola, and lots of bamboo were destroyed early Wednesday. Two mounds (berms) covering the burial grounds of chunks of the university parking lot, which had ignited the battle for People's Park in 1969--were flat-topped, or be-headed. 

Just be-heading the berms was not good enough for Craig Becker. Becker, owner of the Cafe Mediterraneum, and president of the Telegraph Business Improvement District said he would have preferred that the berms be "taken down to ground level." 

Becker main-authored the from-our-mouths-to-your ears missive to the university, calling for Improvements in safety and security, increasing stay-away orders, adding emergency phones, security cameras, and halting camping in the park. 

According to Roland Peterson, spokesman for TBID, the work in the park, Tuesday, was "a first good step." 

I didn't have to ask what would be good future steps? it's in Becker's letter, and we've covered this all extensively in the Planet. A short summary: Becker wants to rid Telegraph of people from the park, "who don't play by the rules." In Berkeley, where no one plays by the rules, this is considered a threat. 

The university cited "safety concerns" for what pissed-off and hung-faced park regulars called an illegal encroachment.  

What no one has reported is that the university's move may have been a police request for a stake-out. "Public safety" is short for too many arrests. 

Four police officers stationed themselves away from the action Wednesday. Two from the university, two from the city, all sergeants, and all probably part of the partnering up of the two agencies to fight South-side crime. 

I asked one of the sergeants was there anything to park rumors that pot busts were on the rise The sergeant said there had been twenty arrests in three months. Was that higher than usual? It was. 

Need for a stake-out? Prior to the clearing of the West end of People's Park, drug dealers used the cover of the pergola vines, ferns, and bamboo to elude view by police from the street. 

Now police can get a quick look from the street, or an improved view as they approach. 

I spoke to a dealer, who said that "you have to be stupid to get busted." I told him the story one of the sergeant had just told me. One of the 20 busts was for possession of a pound and a half of marijuana, and that the dealer could do four years, because of his drug background. 

"See what I mean," the dealer said, "now that's stupid." 

He said that there had been several pot-selling arrests in the park during the tear-down. One dealer did it in the face of an officer. "How stupid is that?" 

Hate-man, at the other end of park, was being asked to auto-graph the cover of the West County Times, which ran a front page piece on Hate, as he is known in Camp Hate, his encampment in the South east corner of the park. 

I had to compete with the autograph-seekers, but Hate said that he didn't think the clean-up at the other end of the park would affect his camp, which is open to the world, which gets it busted. 

Police won't need a better view through Camp Hate. It's in their faces, and it’s famous. 


Once upon a time, Ted Friedman would write a piece based in People's Park. Contact or read his blog-site: berkeleydailyplanetreporter.com

High Court Ruling Abolishes Redevelopment Agencies, Allows Transfer of $1.7 Billion

By Julia Cheever (BCN)
Friday December 30, 2011 - 10:02:00 AM

The future of California's 400 redevelopment agencies was thrown into disarray today when the state Supreme Court upheld a law that dissolves them and seizes $1.7 billion in revenue, but struck down a second law that would have allowed them to restructure. 

Both laws were enacted by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in June as part of a series of emergency measures to address the state's $25 billion budget deficit. 

They were challenged in a lawsuit by the California Redevelopment Association, League of California Cities and the cities of San Jose and Union City.  

The first law, AB 26, terminates existing agencies and enables the state to transfer $1.7 billion in property tax revenue to schools and other programs.  

The second law, AB 27, would have allowed the agencies to come back into existence if they agreed to contribute $400 million annually to schools and transit and fire districts in future years. 

But the state high court, in a decision issued at its San Francisco headquarters, said only the first measure was constitutional. 

The panel unanimously said the Legislature -- which created the agencies through a state law in 1945 -- had the power to abolish them. 

But the justices ruled by a 6-1 vote that the companion law allowing for restructuring violated a 2010 voter initiative that specifically barred the Legislature from diverting redevelopment agency revenue to fund other state programs. 

The state had argued that future payments by restructured agencies would be voluntary and thus not in conflict with the initiative, known as Proposition 22, which was enacted by voters as a state constitutional amendment. 

Justice Kathryn Werdegar wrote for the court majority, however, that the payments were "not an optional condition but an absolute requirement," and therefore violated the initiative. 

Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye dissented from that part of the ruling, saying that she would have upheld AB 27 as well.  

Under the Legislature's original plan, as set by the two laws together, the restructured agencies would have agreed to transfer an extra $1.7 billion in revenue to schools in the current 2011-12 fiscal year and an estimated $340 million to schools and $60 million to fire and transit districts in future years. 

State Finance Department spokesman H.D. Palmer said that as a result of today's split decision, schools will receive a somewhat smaller amount, in the neighborhood of $l billion, in the current fiscal year, but will continue to receive a similar amount in future years. 

Another several hundred million dollars -- representing the remainder of the $1.7 billion -- will be divided among cities, counties and special districts both this year and in future years, Palmer said.  

"We don't have a final number but we estimate it will be more than $1 billion for K-12 schools this year," Palmer said.  

Brown issued a statement saying, "Today's ruling by the California Supreme Court validates a key component of the state budget and guarantees more than a billion dollars of ongoing funding for schools and public safety." 

The California Redevelopment Association and League of California Cities said they will "work with state legislators immediately" in a bid to revive redevelopment in some way.  

"The California Redevelopment Association is ready and willing to engage in immediate dialogue with Legislators and the Governor on a meaningful 'fix' to this problem," said Jim Kennedy, the association's interim executive director. 

"We have ideas for ways to restore redevelopment while also providing the state budgetary relief in a manner that doesn't violate Prop 22," Kennedy said.  

Several mayors decried the decision, saying the dismantling of the agencies will deprive cities of a key means of economic growth. 

"Today's Supreme Court decision eliminates critical tools to rebuild our economy, create jobs, and revitalize neighborhoods -- exactly the kinds of investments California cities should be making in this recession, said San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed. 

Reed called on the Legislature and governor "to immediately work with California cities to make our state competitive again." 

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee called the decision disappointing and said redevelopment "spurred economic growth for our entire city at a time when we needed it most," citing projects such as Yerba Buena Gardens and Mission Bay. 

San Leandro Mayor Stephen Cassidy said, "The elimination of redevelopment agencies marks a further shift of our property tax dollars away from local communities to the control of Sacramento, and will likely result in a new round of budget cuts by cities without any guarantee Sacramento will use the funds wisely." 

Redevelopment agencies, authorized by the 1945 law to rehabilitate "blighted areas," are usually governed by local city councils or county boards of supervisors. 

They acquire land, sometimes through the power of eminent domain, clear it, make infrastructure improvements and then often transfer the land to private parties for residential or commercial development. 

In recent years, the agencies have been financed by so-called property tax increment revenue, in a system in which they are given credit for all increased value of the property following redevelopment. 

Under this system, the agencies now receive 12 percent of property tax revenues statewide, or an estimated $5.2 billion, while schools receive 37 percent, cities 18 percent, counties 25 percent and special districts 8 percent. 

Supporters of redevelopment say that it has revitalized cities and created jobs, while critics contend it is draining money from schools and other programs at a time of fiscal crisis and that it sometimes results in luxury developments such as golf courses. 

Under the Legislature's original plan, the agencies' current $5.2 billion revenue would have paid $2.1 billion for existing redevelopment debts and obligations; $1.1 billion for counties, schools and special districts under a pass-through formula mandated by the Legislature in 1994; and a new voluntary transfer of $1.7 billion for schools. 

Palmer said that $1.7 billion will now be allocated under the 1994 formula, thus providing more than $1 billion for schools and another several hundred million dollars for counties and special districts.  

State Sen. President pro tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, said, "Today's decision validated important powers of the Legislature to conduct the people's business." 

"Moving forward, we must work together to find a path to help local economic development and affordable housing become a sustainable reality," Steinberg said.  


In Berkeley We're All Smarter Than Cops

By Ted Friedman
Monday December 26, 2011 - 10:17:00 AM
Sgt. Kelley's big scene. "If you can tape us, we can tape you."
Ted Friedman
Sgt. Kelley's big scene. "If you can tape us, we can tape you."
Officers Lee, left, and Kelly, right, explaining themselves to GA last week.
Ted Friedman
Officers Lee, left, and Kelly, right, explaining themselves to GA last week.
Part of a pack of cops keeping watch, after Occupy Berkeley encampment cleared, last week. Sergeants, Lee, and Kelly emerged from this pack to attend last Occupy general assembly at MLK.
Ted Friedman
Part of a pack of cops keeping watch, after Occupy Berkeley encampment cleared, last week. Sergeants, Lee, and Kelly emerged from this pack to attend last Occupy general assembly at MLK.

A university police spokesman confided to me recently, "most people think they are smarter than the police. Some are," he concluded, after thinking it over. 

The officer's words seem a fitting commentary on the last Occupy Berkeley general assembly, held before everyone scattered for X-mass, leaving Civic Center Park, only days earlier bursting with tents—now fenced off for grass restoration—forlorn. Future GA's will return to BA plaza, Jan. 3., where OB began two months ago. 

The GA was yet another yawner, when two Berkeley police officers ventured "where no man has gone before." Although the officer's visit was not into the universes of Star-Trek, it had all the ear-marks of alternate reality. 

Two patrol sergeants, part of a bored pack of 12 police, monitoring the abandoned MLK Park encampment, a night after it was cleared of the few straggler tents, had the chutzpah to attend a general assembly 

Earlier, I schmoozed the bored cop pack. At first they mis-trusted me, but after I cracked a few off-the-cuff jokes, and a got a few smiles, I asked, "in for a long night, officers? That's up to our commanders," one replied. 

"What happened last night at 1:30 a.m. when batons were, allegedly, used?" I asked. "Where'd you get that idea," they wanted to know. "I'm just quoting the Trib," I said. The story mentioned batons." 

I must be smarter than cops, just not smart enough to draw them away from official statements. Like me, they probably weren't there anyway. 

The GA that night was dominated by Copwatchers—a Berkeley group which monitors police conduct—and cop-haters with personal motives. You have to be smarter than cops to monitor cops. 

The cops, who approached the periphery of a cop-condemning assembly of twenty were not alone. They aimed a small video-cam at the group, thus began their grief, as the whole police-visit concept turned sour. 

Was the cops' GA watch an invasion, investigation, informational operation, community relations, or just a bad idea? 

Are you smarter than cops? 

Could you predict that the two visiting officers would be verbally assaulted, and mocked? A cop-hater held his video recorder close to the officer's faces. Everyone is smarter than cops. 

Sgts. M. Kelly and her colleague, R. Lee fielding one hate-filled question after another, were caught up in an OB mistrust of cameras, and ill-defined notions of the words, "raid", and "theft" by cops of "our stuff." Officer Kelley steadfastly refused to use the word "raid," which only inflamed her mockers. Most raids occur in warfare, or crime, according to dictionaries, and some at the GA believe police to be both warring, and criminal. 

If I haven't written this, I've implied it: the police-dismantling of tent-city was peaceful and thoughtful. Kelley said, to howls of laughter, that protesters had "left" the camp. Although she left out repeated official warnings to vacate, and a show-of-force appearance earlier in the evening of the take-down—she was substantially right. 

Kelly complained, that although she respected the GA, she was being dissed by the GA. 

Officer Lee, who was endorsed as a worthy cop by a lone member of the GA, said, as she was taping, that she, herself, didn't like to be taped, but that her job required her to be photographed by the public. 

Why don't you want to be taped, she was asked. "I'm shy," she replied, disarmingly. Later, I confirmed this, to see if she was pulling our legs. 

"I've always been a shy person," she confirmed, "I've grown as a person, from my police work," she added. 

Officer Lee insisted that since she was being taped, she expected to have the right to her own videotaping. 

Finally, a GA attendee, spoke in exasperation. "We post our own nightly video feeds of 

our meetings, and press have pictured us (I had been clicking away), why would the police tape be a problem?" 

Because it was the police, and they are not populists, according to many GAers. Kelly's ploy of claiming to be part of the 99% was batted away. "If you want to be part of the 99%, join us when you are not in uniform." It was not explained what the difference would be. 

Kelly said the video would be available from BPD. 

Later, an arriving Sergeant, said to Kelley and Lee, "if the tape upsets them [the GA], we'll just erase it," but this came too late. 

In an informal five-way crime seminar after the meeting, with Kelly, Lee, me, and two others from the GA, I asked Lee and Kelly whether the video tape had any "investigational purpose." 

"It might have, had anything criminal happened," said Kelly. 

Lee readily admitted the video-cam was for the officer's protection. I'm such a crime know-it-all, that I believe she meant that had a mob assaulted them, had they responded, then they'd need proof they were justified. 

The crime seminar then drifted off into a "why was I busted, when…?" Q & A, in which I blurted out some answers ("dude you resisted arrest!" and, "perhaps you were arrested for not coming to the point.)" 

We learned the difference between arrest and detention, or did we—it's complicated. 

I had told Sgt. Lee that I often wrote crime pieces for the Planet, and that a number of BPD officers read me. "The chief said I had "some good ideas about crime," I boasted, "or was he just playing me?" 

"Did I pass the [crime] course?" I asked. "Barely", said Lee, "but you did pass." She gave me a C. As my college transcript will attest, C is a grade I'm used to. 

Or was she just playing me? 


Ted Friedman talked himself into an advanced college sociology class in criminology and now thinks he is, along with most of Berkeley, and certainly its perps, a self-appointed expert."

A St. Columba Christmas (First Person)

By Dorothy Snodgrass
Friday December 30, 2011 - 11:38:00 AM

I'm happy to report that I had a very pleasant, indeed spiritual Christmas this year, attending a 9:30 Mass at St. Columba Catholic Church. 

Located on San Pablo at Alcatraz, you've no doubt observed the white crosses in the church yard. These crosses represent the number of random shootings that have occurred over the years. 

Upon entering the church, parishioners are warmly greeted by Pastor Fr. Aidan McAleenan. The church itself is beautifully decorated with a dazzling Christmas tree at the altar and below that the familiar Nativity Scene. There's a rich ethnic diversity in this congregation -- predominantly African American, but also Latino and Whites. Glancing behind me, I was thrilled to see Alameda's famed opera star, Frederica von Stadt. better know as "Flicka." Sadly, she didn't sing a solo. 

To the right of the altar a women's chorus sang spirituals while clapping their hands and a fine baritone sang the familiar "Ave Maria." 

It should be mentioned here that the Annual St. Columba series 2012 will present "Wouldn't Take Nothin' for My Journey Now" January l5th - February 9th, a dynamic preachers' music and history. d Ending on a sad note, another fatal shooting took place in Oakland even as we celebrated this Christmas holiday.



Happy New Year to Auld Acquaintances and New

By Becky O'Malley
Friday December 30, 2011 - 10:58:00 AM

Happy New Year to all the loyal readers, old and new, of the Berkeley Daily Planet. In honor of the holiday season, I’m taking most of the day off and foregoing the usual too-long essay, but we’re slowly posting the always excellent pieces from our volunteer contributors which are coming in—keep checking to see what’s new over the weekend.

Many times since we’ve commenced this endeavor, in many forms over the last 8 or 9 years, some readers have implored us to concentrate on “the good news”. Well, feel-good stories concocted by “public information officers” abound in all kinds of media, but when things go wrong you won’t always hear about it. That’s one reason we keep on trucking.

We have every expectation that much of the next year will prove just about as annoying as this one. I observe in today’s issue, for example, bad behavior on the part of the city of Berkeley, the University of California at Berkeley, some elements of the state of California and of course annoyances galore at the national and international level.

But things go right too—the early Occupy events are an example of news that is both good and consequential. We appreciate the efforts of all of our readers to keep us informed, on good days and bad, of what’s happening in Berkeley and the big world beyond.


Odd Bodkins: Inventory

By Dan O'Neill
Friday December 30, 2011 - 10:19:00 AM


Dan O'Neill


Public Comment

There Were Poems

By Carol Denney
Friday December 30, 2011 - 10:43:00 AM

there were poems
pasted on painted fish
hanging in the treetops
of the trees now gone
in People's Park
poems which floated
over the night
then the morning
then the plastic netting
then the bulldozers
until they fell
among the leaves
and the branches
and were hauled away
to the woodchipper

Discouraging Shopping in Berkeley

By Jamy O. Faulhaber
Thursday December 29, 2011 - 11:18:00 PM

Dear City of Berkeley:

On December 23 I was cited under code 14.40.060B(1) for having the front wheel of my 2010 Toyota Prius more than six inches from the curb. I did not see the ticket until I drove away from 2462 Shattuck, I have no doubt that the car was further than six inches from the curb. I have been a resident of Berkeley since 1969 and have never been aware of this ordinance.

Yesterday I went back to this area of Berkeley, downtown Berkeley, to view cars parked diagonally. I would ask that you do the same so as not to take my word (or pictures) for it. One out of three cars is parked more than six inches from the curb. As to my own situation the front bumper clearance of a 2010 Toyota Prius is 7 inches. Your curbs, depending on the condition of the street, are 6.5 inches high. To approach your curb is to scrape the underside of the bumper. Therefore, to avoid more damage to my car, I stay a distance away.

You can be assured that I won’t be parking on Berkeley City streets in the future. That is a shame because I have always made it a point to purchase goods from small Berkeley retailers and to frequent Berkeley restaurants. They now will lose my business to merchants with private parking, to UC Berkeley, to shopping malls, and to the internet. The City of Berkeley has been frequently criticized for its aggressive enforcement of parking violations. One of the reasons that there are so many empty store fronts in downtown Berkeley is because of the difficulty in parking and over- zealous enforcement of parking regulations. I suggest to the Mayor and City Council through this letter that these regulations be revised if Berkeley is to attract customers to any part of the city.  

I enclose a check in the amount of $51 for this ticket with a request for reimbursement after this matter is reviewed and studied. I will be out of the area from January 16 until February 22, and hope to find a response upon my return. 


Jamy O. Faulhaber 

cc The Honorable Mayor Tom Bates 

City Council Member Susan Wengraf 

The Berkeley Daily Planet 

The Berkeley Chamber of Commerce 

The San Francisco Chronicle 

Aaron Brothers Art and Framing 

Airport Appliances 

Giovanni’s Restaurant 

Toyota of Berkeley 

Tuesday Morning 

Radio Shack


By Erich Frisch
Friday December 30, 2011 - 10:19:00 AM

I left the dark little cave this morning and went through a range of emotion from amazement with the fantastic California weather to amazement that yet again a two legged rat had decided to use my car as its dinner table leaving curried lentils and an imprint of its ass behind to amazement that the western end of "People's Park" had been cordoned off and in the process of being cleaned and purged. Hallelujah! There is a GAWD and its name is not Bates or Worthington!  

Way I figure it is the city and uni are complicit in the loss of a building due to electrical fire at the corner of Tele & Haste caused by wiring that had been chewed through by the same four legged rats that did three thousand dollars damage to my afore mentioned car's electrical system. GAWD knows health & safety had nothing to do with this intrusion upon the sacred and oft scary plot of land long occupied by the vermin that have scattered to the winds not unlike dandelion petals on a hot summer day. Berkeley's own little delegates of occupied returning to the roost after being summarily ejected by local communities with REAL social conscious and civic responsibility. . .  

Now if the overpaid uni brotherhood would find its brass and build the dorm and thousand beds forty years past due. . . But I digress, let us rejoice in the knowledge that no life was lost, to the black plague, to get us this far.


DISPATCHES FROM THE EDGE: 2011 Dispatches News Awards

By Conn Hallinan
Friday December 30, 2011 - 09:59:00 AM

Every year Dispatches From The Edge gives awards to news stories and newsmakers that fall under the category of “Are you serious?” Here are the awards for the year 2011. 

The Golden Lemon Award to Lockheed Martin, the world’s biggest arms company, whose F-22 Raptor fighter has some “performance” problems: the pilots can’t breathe. 

The U.S. Air Force was forced to “stand down” its fleet of 160+ F-22s—at $150 million apiece, the single most expensive fighter in the world—when pilots began experiencing “hypoxia-like symptoms” from a lack of oxygen. But the company got right on it, according to Lockheed Martin vice president Jeff Babione, who said he was “proud to be a part” of the team that got the radar-evading aircraft back into the air—for five weeks. When pilots continued to have problems, the F-22 fleet was grounded again. 

According to the Air Force, no one can figure out why oxygen is not getting to the pilots, but that pilots “would undergo physiological tests.” To see if the pilots can go without air? 

Runner-up in this category is Lockheed Martins’ F-35, at $385 billion the most expensive weapon system in U.S. history. The cost of an individual F-35 has jumped from $69 million to $113 million a plane, and while this is cheaper than the F-22, the U.S. plans to eventually purchase more than 16 times the number of F-35s than F-22s. It seems the F-35 fighter has “cracks” and “hot spots” that, according to the director of the program, Vice Adm. David Venlet, are “hard to get at.” 

Dispatches suggests that the Air Force issue ice packs and super glue to pilots. 


The P.T. Barnum Award to Dennis Montgomery, a computer programmer who scammed the U.S. government for more than $20 million. Montgomery claimed he had software that could spot terrorist conspiracies hidden in broadcasts by the Qatar-based Arabic news network, Al-Jazeera. He said his program could also detect hostile submarines and identify terrorists in Predator drone videos. 

The Bush administration took his claims so seriously that in December 2003 it turned back flights from Britain, France and Mexico because the software had “discovered” the planes flight information embedded in an Al Jazeera’s crawl bar. The White House, fearing the planes would be used to attack targets in the U.S., actually talked about shooting the planes down. 

The CIA eventually concluded the software was a fabrication, but rather than rebuking those in charge during the hoax—Donald Kerr and George Tenet—both men got promotions. The spy agency also didn’t bother to tell anyone in the military, so in 2009 the U.S. Air Force bought the bogus software for $3 million. 


C. Northcote Parkinson Award to the U.S. Defense Department for upholding the British sociologist’s dictum that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” Parkinson—a social scientist with a wicked sense of humor—was hired after World War II to examine the future of the Royal Navy. He concluded that, given the military’s deep love of fancy gold lace, as well as its addiction to bureaucracy, eventually there would be more admirals than ships. Needless to say, that is exactly what happened. 

But it is not just the Brits who yearn for the golden epaulets. According to the Project On Government Oversight (POGO), the U.S. military is adding brass to its ranks at a record pace. While the enlisted ranks have grown by 2 percent from 2001 to 2011, three and four star generals and flag rank admirals have increased 24 percent, one and two star generals and admirals by 12 percent, and lower ranking officers by 9.5 percent. 

Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates made an attempt to cut the ranks of the top brass, but as soon as Leon Panetta took over the post, he reversed the cuts and added six more generals. In fact, at the same time as the Pentagon was cutting the enlisted ranks by 10,000 in anticipation of an end to the Iraq War, it added 2,500 officers. 

According to POGO, “Today’s military is the most top-heavy force in U.S. history.” Between 2012 and 2021, POGO estimates that the six new generals Panetta appointed will cost taxpayers $14 million. 

However, there may be a silver lining here. Generals and admirals don’t fight, that’s the job of enlisted men. At this rate the U.S. will run out of privates and the business of war will be left to generals and admirals. If that comes to pass, Dispatches predicts an outbreak of pacifism. 


The Confused Priorities Award is a three-way tie between British Prime Minister David Cameron, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and former Irish Taoiseach (prime minister) Bertie Ahern. 

In the midst of a savage austerity program, with massive cutbacks in social spending, Cameron’s Conservative-Liberal government will spend up to $40 billion on a new generation of missile-firing submarines. While British Defense Secretary Liam Fox said the submarine was necessary to maintain the country’s nuclear deterrence, critics say the program is really a boondoggle for BAE Systems, the United Kingdom-based arms company that will make the new weapon system. 

Canada’s Harper got into the winner’s circle by spending over $100 million on summit meetings and pork barrel projects for Conservative cabinet member Tony Clement. The summit expenditures included $13,711 for “glow sticks,” $62 million for accommodations, and $4.3 million for a temporary fence to keep Canadians away from the lake where the Group of 8 meeting took place. Half of the summit money was used to build an office building in Fraser’s district, as well as develop airports and communities that the cabinet member could take credit for. In the meantime, Harper slashed spending for health care and education, and cut $200 million from environmental protection and monitoring. 

Ahern, Taoiseach of the Irish Dail from 1997 to 2008, oversaw the bank speculation and real estate bubble that destroyed Ireland’s economy in 2008. Ahern claimed that no one told him that the financial situation was so dire, although an investigation by independent analyst Rob Wright found that the Fianna Fail government had repeatedly been warned that a crash was coming. Asked what his greatest regret was, Ahern replied that it was his failure to build a stadium to match those in Arab states. “I think unfortunately when I see little countries like Qatar and Kuwait…talking about their 10 stadiums and we never succeeded in getting one national stadium. That’s an achievement I tried hard to do but I didn’t get.” 


The White Elephant Award to the Greek Army for considering taking 400 free M1A1 Abrams tanks from the U.S. “This is a free offer,” said Greek army spokesman Yiannis Sifakis. 

Well, sort of free. 

The Abrams, the U.S.’s main battle tank, is a 67.6-ton behemoth that burns 10 gallons of gas just to start, and gets 1.6 gallons to the mile. The tanks will also cost $11 million to transport to Greece. 

In the meantime, the Greek Socialist government has laid off tens of thousands of workers, cut wages, slashed health care, increased sales taxes, and advanced the retirement age. Massive demonstration and general strikes have convulsed major cities, and the country is on the verge of bankruptcy. 

Maybe the army is thinking that if German banks try to repossess the country, those 400 Abrams tanks might come in handy (if Greece can afford to gas to run them)? 


The Dr. Frankenstein Award to former U.S. Secretary of State Madeline Albright for her sponsorship of Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci, a man accused of murdering Serb prisoners during the 1999 Yugoslav War and selling their body parts. 

Reporting on the scandal in CounterPunch, reporter Diana Johnstone, author of “Fools Crusade: Yugoslavia, NATO and Western Delusions,” cites a report by Swiss Senator Dick Marty implicating former Kosovo Liberation Army commander Thaci of running “safe houses” during the war where Serb prisoners were tortured and killed. 

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, a human rights organization with 47 member states, sponsored the Marty investigation. 

“An undetermined but apparently small number of prisoners were transferred in vans and trucks to an operating site near Tirana international airport [Albania], from which fresh organs could be flown rapidly to recipients” the Marty Report says. “Captives were killed, usually by a gunshot to the head, before being operated on to remove one of more of their organs.” Kidneys seem to have been the major harvest. 

Thaci has also been linked to the heroin trade and prostitution. 

Albert and her aide, the late Richard Holbrooke, pushed Thaci into the leadership of Kosovo during the Rambouillet negotiations leading up to the war. According to Johnson, far more prominent leaders of the Kosovo delegation to those talks were pushed aside, and Thaci—known in law enforcement circles as “The Snake—became the face of Albanians secession movement. 

Asked about the Marty Report, U.S. State Department spokesman Phillip Crowley said the Americans would continue to work with Thaci because “any individual anywhere on the earth is innocent until proven otherwise.” Of course, it also helps that Thaci approved the construction of a massive U.S. base in Kosovo, Camp Bondsteel, giving the U.S. its first military foothold in the Balkans. 


The Surreal Award to the U.S. Justice Department for finally agreeing that lawyers defending prisoners at Guantanamo can view classified files that were prominently displayed on the WikiLeaks website. The Department ruled that lawyers may access the documents, but cannot “download, save, print, or disseminate” the material, a ruling that attorney David Remes said was “still surreal.” 


The Grinch Award to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for complaining that Colombia’s minimum wage was too high, and driving up the cost of labor. The minimum wage is $1.80 an hour and, for full time workers, brings in around $300 a month. 


The Historical Re-write Award to Jean-Francois Cope, general secretary of French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s conservative Union for Popular Movement and the man behind the “Burka Ban.” Cope organized a recent conference on secularization that, according to French Prime Minister Francois Fillon, led to “a stigmatization of Muslims.” 

Cope defended the conference as “controversial but necessary,” adding that “the values of France are like the Three Musketeers: liberty, equality, fraternity.” Except that the Alexander Dumas novel was set in 1625, and the Musketeers were fighting for Louis XIII and the Catholic Church. “Liberty, equality, fraternity” was the slogan of the 1789 French Revolution, and was not highly thought of in the Feudal court of Bourbons. 

The creative Language Award to the Obama administration for its denial that the American bombing of Libya constituted a war. It was, according to the White House, a “time-limited, scope-limited military action.” 


Conn Hallinan can be read at his blog dispatchesfromtheedgeblog.wordpress.com and middleempireseries.wordpress.com 

THE PUBLIC EYE:2011 Politics: The Best and Worst

By Bob Burnett
Friday December 30, 2011 - 09:54:00 AM

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” Charles Dickens wrote describing the period before the 1789 French Revolution. For America’s rich, the 1 percent, 2011 was the best of times; for everyone else, the 99 percent, it was the worst of times.

The worst: The economy staggered throughout 2011. At yearend, roughly 25 million Americans were either unemployed or involuntarily working part time. But that’s not the worst. As Bob Dylan wrote, “take the rag away from your face, now ain't the time for your tears.”

5. Global Climate Change accelerated: In 2010 global emissions of Carbon Dioxide jumped by a record amount and they continued to rise in 2011. Artic ice hit record lows and there were horrific natural disasters across the planet including ten in the US. But for most Americans, Global Climate Change was one problem too many. (Nonetheless, the most recent Pew Poll found that 65 percent of respondents believed it to be a serious concern.) 

4. Corporations abandoned civility: While millions of American suffered, corporations experienced record profits. Many used this bounty to “bite the hand that fed them,” to attack democracy. The number of Washington lobbyists grew; organizations such as the US Chamber of Commerce spent millions attacking politicians who dared suggest that corporations pay their fair share. 

3. Republican Congressmen attacked women’s rights: Although elected on the promise they would create jobs and reduce the Federal deficit, Congressional Republicans instead launched a war on women, particularly reproductive health services. GOP conservatives steadfastly pursued a misogynistic campaign to defund healthcare for women; for example, by defunding Title X to deny family planning services to the poor. But as writer Sarah Jaffe pointed out, Washington Democrats did a terrible job defending women’s rights. 

2. Republican presidential candidates staged a demolition derby: With Barack Obama unopposed as the Democratic presidential nominee, Republicans had the political stage to themselves and used it to attack each other, in general, and candidate Mitt Romney in particular. Romney entered the year as the favorite to garner the Republican nomination and left the year in the same condition; but his popularity ebbed and flowed and never got above thirty percent of registered Republicans. Throughout the year various candidates rose to challenge Mitt and then fell back: Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, and most recently, Ron Paul. As one after another had their moment in the limelight, the dialogue deteriorated and the Republican presidential primary turned into a race to the bottom, a contest where the “winner” was the candidate who could make the most outrageous statement with a straight face. 

1. Republicans fractured the political process When 2011 began, Republicans seized the political narrative. They ignored the jobs crisis, a feckless war in Afghanistan, global climate change, and other daunting problems, and focused on “fiscal austerity,” their claim the US is going broke. This charade culminated in the debt-ceiling crisis that ended August 2nd with passage of byzantine compromise legislation. At yearend 72 percent of voters disapproved of the job congressional Republicans were doing

And that’s just the top five. 2011 also saw savage attacks on civil rights – the return of indefinite detention for being “an enemy of the state” – and new virulent forms of racism, religious bias, and homophobia. “You who philosophize disgrace and criticize all fears, bury the rag deep in your face, for now's the time for your tears.” 

The best: 2011 had only one encouraging sign, the Occupy Wall Street movement. On September 17th, protesters convened in Zuccotti Park in the heart of New York City’s financial district and similar protests blossomed throughout the country. Occupy Wall Street is an expression of grassroots discontent with the economy in general, particularly the historic level of inequality; the rallying cry is, “We are the 99 percent”

As a consequence of Occupy Wall Street and the ineptitude of Washington Republicans, the national dialogue changed. The majority of Americans, the 99 percent, shifted focus from the budget deficit to jobs and economic justice. Voters came to believe the real problem with US politics is that corporations and the richest 1 percent have too much power. 

In 2012 the challenge for the leaders of Occupy Wall Street will be to build upon the positive momentum and take advantage of the fact that the 99 percent don’t like the current economic and political situation. The majority of Americans understand what the problems are; now they have to mobilize to change the system. 

The big question for 2012 is who will lead this transformation? So far the Occupy Wall Street leadership seems unfocused. Meanwhile Republicans have become the Party of the 1 percent and Democrats often seem to be “Republicans lite.” Who will become the authentic leaders of the 99 percent? 

This moment feels like 1955 when Rosa Parks launched the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Martin Luther King Jr. and other leaders emerged to launch a national Civil Rights Movement that changed US history. That’s what we need in 2012. 

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

ECLECTIC RANT: Post-Mubarak Egypt Still a Work in Progress

By Ralph E. Stone
Thursday December 29, 2011 - 11:15:00 PM

Two friends of mine recently returned from Cairo and report that except for Tahrir Square and the immediate surroundings, there is very little evidence of protests against military rule. True this is scant anecdotal evidence, but it appears from the news accounts that the protestors may be losing the propaganda campaign that portray them as vandals and arsonists. And perhaps demonstration fatigue has set in. 

Egyptians supported the initial demonstrations calling for the ouster of President Muhammad Hosni Sayyid Mubarak, but once that was accomplished, most of the general populace just wants to get on with every day living. In fact, to many the presence of the military is seen as a stabilizing force in the transition from Mubarak's rule to something else. 

And the military knows when to back down and apologize when, for example, after a women's demonstration on December 20 demanding an end to military rule, the ruling military council apologized for beating, stripping, and kicking female demonstrators beginning December 16. 

Under Mubarak, Egypt was a secular nation. However, in the first of three rounds of the parliamentary elections, the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party garnered the most votes with 37 percent of the nearly 10 million ballots cast. The Brotherhood is a movement that seeks to expand Islamic law. The Al Nour Party won 24 percent of the vote; it is dominated by the ultraconservative Salafis, which seeks to impose strict Islamic law similar to Saudi Arabia. There are two more rounds of voting in 18 of the country's 27 provinces through January. The election of the Brotherhood and the Al Nour Party could be crucial in determining Egypt's future as the new parliament is supposed to appoint a committee to draft a constitution that many Islamists want based in part on principles in the Koran.  

In the second round of voting, the Brotherhood won 86 of the estimated 180 seats in this round or 47 percent. The Al-Nour Party won 20 percent of the vote.. Basically the secular and liberal forces who were the main element behind the uprising against Mubarak are being trounced at the polls. 

The military has appointed a 30-member council to oversee the process of drafting the Constitution. 

The presidential election is scheduled for June 30, 2012. The ruling military council will probably have much "input" in the final constitution and in the presidential election. In fact, the U.S. is pressing the military to maintain special powers and rights over any future government including a declaration that the country’s recent parliamentary elections will have no bearing on the makeup of Egypt’s future executives. This may mean the military will try to retain the power to select the executive. Maybe Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, the leader of Egypt’s ruling military council, will run for president..  

Why is there concern with a possible Islamic-dominated parliament and presidency? Because of fear that the Muslim Brotherhood’s deep hostility to Israel — which reflects majority public opinion in Egypt — would pose difficulties for American policy. And its conservative views on the rights of women and intolerance of religious minorities are offensive by Western standards. 

Another factor in the equation is the unique role the military plays in the Egyptian economy. The military owns virtually every industry in the country, including car assembly, clothing, manufacture of kitchen appliances, natural gas bottles, the construction of roads, highways, bridges, and some of the foodstuffs is grown and/or processed by the military. These economic activities are not helpful to the Egyptian economy as a whole because the military's low-cost subsidized labor, exemption from taxes and licenses, undercuts private entrepreneurs. Would a military-controlled economy survive an Islamic-dominated Egyptian government? 

Thus, there are many political and economic incentives for the military to exercise some control over whatever new government emerges from the parliamentary and presidential elections. There are rumors that a second, violent revolution will happen on January 25. Egypt's caretaker prime minister Kamal el-Ganzouri has appealed for a two-month period of calm to try to end the nation's political crisis and to restore security. Clearly, post-Mubarak Egypt is still a work in progress.

WILD NEIGHBORS: Heron Bait and Other Bird Tools

By Joe Eaton
Thursday December 29, 2011 - 11:09:00 PM
Black-headed night herons: "I thought you were bringing the bait.
Mike Baird via Wikimedia Commons.
Black-headed night herons: "I thought you were bringing the bait.

Not so long ago, tool use was one of the defining criteria for humanity. Subsequent observations of non-human creatures using, and in a few cases making, tools have required that goalpost to be moved. Primates—chimps, organs, capuchin monkeys—have been caught in the act, as have bottle-nosed dolphins, tropical reef fish, and at least one species of octopus, the one that carries coconut shells around. Not to mention a handful of birds, among which the New Caledonian crow, a maker and user, is the most technically sophisticated. Then there’s the Galapagos woodpecker finch that employs twigs and spines to pry insect grubs out of tree trunks; the Egyptian vulture that smashes ostrich eggs with stones; and, if a fishing lure can be considered a tool (and why not?), the bait-fishing herons. 

The best-documented bait-fisher is the North American green heron, a fairly common species in what’s left of California’s riparian habitats. A heron will drop bits of bread into a pond, wait until a fish approaches it, then uncoil its long neck and strike. Some use feathers, others mayflies. The behavior was first reported in 1958, from Lake Eola in Orlando, Florida.  

A close relative, the striated heron of East Asia, has been studied by Japanese ornithologists. They report that the herons use bait most often in open water with no suitable perches nearby. Bait has included live insects, earthworms, twigs, leaves, berries, and plastic foam. The live bait technique had the highest success rate. One striated heron broke twigs into smaller pieces before tossing them into the water, a clear instance of tool-making. It’s a learned skill; adult herons did better than juveniles. 

Now another heron species has joined the club, the ubiquitous black-crowned night heron. These midsized herons are known for their opportunistic feeding habits. I’ve seen people hand-feeding chicken parts to the night herons at Lake Merritt, a risky activity—those beaks are sharp. At least one learned to hang around the fish stores in Oakland’s Chinatown for scraps. They’ll also prey on young coots and other birds. 

Baiting by black-crowns has been reported since the mid-1990s from California (the Heritage Ranch in Irvine), Louisiana (the Audubon Park Zoo in New Orleans), and most recently Hawai’i, where the species is the only native heron, locally known as auku’u. According to an article in the Hawai’i Audubon Society’s newsletter ‘Elepaio, golfers at a course on Kaua’i got into the habit of scattering seeds near a water hazard along the fairway of the 11th hole to attract red-crested cardinals, one of the islands’ many exotic birds. A night heron was seen to drop some of the seed into the water hazard, where it attracted small fish, probably tilapia, which the bird then caught and ate. When golfers provided bread, the herons readily adapted. Sometimes koi, too large to handle, got to the bread first. (Only in Hawai’i would you have koi and tilapia in the water hazards.) 

Word of this novel behavior went out on the Hawai’i birders’ listserve, and one reader recalled a television report about a bait-fishing night heron on O’ahu, this one near a Roy’s Restaurant on the island’s west coast. The heron, nicknamed “Hank,” had been using bread provided by the employee’s of a golf course snack shop. The technique appears to have spread from that individual to several other night herons in the neighborhood. A heron in a Honolulu park presumably acquired the trick independently. 

It’s hard not to read the ‘Elepaio account without thinking of the Japanese monkeys who learned to wash sweet potatoes. To my knowledge, no one has speculated about a “hundredth heron” phenomenon. 

Sporadic bait-fishing has also been reported for great blue herons, snowy egrets, and several Old World heron species, as well as for kingfishers, kites, gulls, sunbitterns, and crows. 

I have seen no local reports of bait-fishing night herons (or, for that matter, green herons.) The next time you visit Lake Merritt, though, you might want to consider bringing some day-old bread along for the sake of experiment.

My Commonplace Book (a diary of excerpts copied from printed books, with comments added by the reader.)

By Dorothy Bryant
Friday December 30, 2011 - 11:41:00 AM

Men fight and lose the battle, and the thing they fought for comes about in spite of their defeat, and when it comes turns out not to be what they meant, and other men have to fight for what they meant under another name.
from The Dream of John Ball, by William Morris (1834-1898),Artist, writer, textile designer 

The first time I read this I thought Morris was saying that we are just going in meaningless circles of misunderstanding, shape-shifting struggles over problems we never can solve. In other words, we live forever where, as Matthew Arnold put it, “Ignorant armies clash by night.” 

The tenth time I read it I wondered if the ferocious, unending, material struggles are not the reality, after all, but only a metaphor, a crude material enactment of a more spiritual evolutionary struggle we don’t have the brains to understand, let alone find words for.  

At this reading—my twelfth or fiftieth—I don’t know what I think. Am I giving up, or making progress? 


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

SENIOR POWER… Oral history

By Helen Rippier Wheeler
Thursday December 29, 2011 - 11:09:00 AM

Oral history is the collection and study of historical information about individuals, families, important events, or everyday life using audiotapes, videotapes, or transcriptions of interviews. These interviews are planned and conducted with people who participated in or observed past events and whose memories and perceptions of these are to be preserved as an aural record for future generations. Oral history also refers to information gathered in this manner and to written work — published or unpublished — based on such data, often preserved in archives and large libraries such as the Bancroft. 

The Bancroft is the primary special collections library of the University of California, Berkeley. The Regional Oral History Office (ROHO) of the Bancroft conducts, analyzes, teaches about, and preserves oral history interviews on topics related to the history of California and the United States. The interviews are deposited in manuscript libraries worldwide, many accessible online. The Bancroft also houses original interview tapes. 

Oral historians strive to obtain information from different perspectives, many of which cannot be found in written sources. They ask open-ended questions and avoid leading questions that encourage people to say what they think the interviewer wants them to say. Some interviews are “life reviews”, conducted with people at the end of their careers. Others focus on a specific period or event in the lives of people such as war veterans or earthquake survivors. 


Charles Albert Murdock (1841-1928) edited the Pacific Unitarian newspaper from 1892-1928. He married Alice J. Meeker in 1871; seven years after her death in 1884, he married Winifred White, who died in 1903. He died in Oakland, leaving a son, Osgood, and two daughters, Margaret Elliot and Edith King. Copy number 1065 of his book, A Backward Glance at Eighty: Recollections & Comment ; Massachusetts 1841, Humboldt Bay 1855, San Francisco 1864 (autographed by him and published by P. Elder in 1921) is in the library collection of Santa Clara University. In it, he wrote the following: 

“The earthquake and fire of April, 1906, …Being aroused from deep sleep to find the sold earth wrenched and shaken beneath you, structures displaced, chimneys shorn from their bases, water shut off, railway tracks distorted, and new shocks recurring, induces terror that no imagination can compass. After breakfasting on an egg cooked by the heat from an alcohol lamp, I went to rescue the little I could from my office, and saw the resistless approaching fire shortly consume it. Lack of provisions and scarcity of water drove me the next morning across the bay. Two days afterward, leaving my motherless children, I returned to bear a hand in relief and restoration. Every person going up Market Street stopped to throw a few bricks from the street to make possible a way for vehicles. …” 


Murdock was considered the “first fine printer of San Francisco.” In 1976, his eighty-two year old daughter, Margaret, was interviewed as part of the oral history of her father and San Francisco. The transcribed interviews may be heard on tapes in the Bancroft. Here are portions of that interview, excerpted by me :  

…I “think I’m fortunate in having, probably through him, fairly good health which keeps energy going. I don’t think I compare at all with all the activities he did so merrily until he was in his late eighties. I think he was quite ready to admit that his hobbies and outside interests interfered with his really being completely successful in his printing business because he spent so much time on other things. But that was part of his enjoyment of life and part of his kind of civic conscience, to participate in church activities and community activities. I don’t compare with it but probably anybody who spreads around a little thinly has pleasure in doing it even if it’s a fault. 

I think perhaps New Englanders in general have a variety of interests and talents that they can call upon when they need to. He was a Sunday School superintendent and many Sundays he'd come home after church and sit at his desk and the pen would be sliding along and there would be editorials for the Pacific Unitarian, or little articles or papers.  

I’m sure that it was helpful to him to be associated, as he was, with an intellectual group of men. The Chit-Chat Club members were mostly college professors and the Unitarian 

Club and the Shakespeare Club had lawyers and doctors and other professional people in them. I think he held his own. For somebody who had a very modest education he managed to compete fairly well with his essays. He used to write on somewhat erudite subjects or political ones that were, perhaps, beyond his depth as an economist. It was Henry Morse Stephens who told him to write about things or people he knew personally. On the strength of that he wrote about Bret Harte in Humboldt County and about San Francisco in the 60s. 

When at eighty he was asked to do a book of reminiscences he wrote his Backward Glance. It was rather like the present interest in oral history. It was excellent to be able to recall the Indians in the Hoopa Valley, and incidents other people didn’t t know too much about and that were a part of his background as a young man in Humboldt County… I think he loved both his Leominster early childhood, and his Humboldt County young manhood. He liked the outdoors but he wasn't one to brood over the past. I think he loved San Francisco, although I think probably the fact that when he was in Uniontown and learned how to be a tinsmith and learned how to help with the Indian crops and so forth, he was showing that Yankee ingenuity that enables them to tackle the different things that come along and work out ways of getting along. 

We went down [to the print shop] when we were children. We lived out near the Presidio and you’d take the Union Street cable car which, as it got over down from the hills, turned into a horse drawn vehicle to get to the ferry building after it had become a horse-drawn car. The whole printing plant was above a market so that you d have the smell of rotten vegetables and the cattle, the chickens and such. And the very rickety stairs as you went on up to the printing office. The printing office had a variety of presses: the little pony press and the large linotypes. It was fun to go and be taken in to see the bindery girls and be given little scraps of paper to take home to play with. Bindery girls, even if they get to be eighty, are still girls. 

…. it seems as though Clay Street was just full of an assortment of printing firms, some of which of course might have succeeded each other and used the same plants. … he continued right after the fire. They were, for a while, over in Oakland at the Pacific Manifolding Book Company, and then down on Geary Street in what had been a car barn on Geary and Webster. Then Mission and Front where Blair-Murdock had its offices. Father was connected with that until about 1916. So he certainly was in the business for a long time. 


Well, we had a German housekeeper for several years, but I probably took almost complete charge of my younger sister. I think children can be fairly independent if they have to be. Then we went to move in with a sister of my father when I was a teenager had a combined household with Aunt Lily and her daughter as well as father and his three 

children. By that time, I think the three children were fairly independent anyhow. 


He didn’t get into a dotage at all in his older years, which is nice. He was, I think just about a week before he died, over at the City going to something at the church. I think some of his friends thought that his children were a little neglectful to let him go off and run the risk of falling. But he was the independent type and he would not have appreciated being held back by younger people. He was living with my brother in Piedmont and still very active until the very last week of his life when he d had the stroke. So it’s easy to go that way when you haven’t had a diminishing in your interest in life.” 

A Senior Power column in March 2012 — that’s Women’s History Month — will be devoted, as am I, to Margaret Elliot Murdock (1894-1985).  



A study has found that most of the weight regained by older women is fat. Some weight regain is common after weight loss, but in older women, many of those regained pounds return as fat mass rather than muscle mass. Duh 

A new study reported in the December 2011 issue of Health Services Research compared the 10 largest U.S. for-profit nursing home chains with other ownership types. UC, SF researchers found that for-profit chains had lower nurse staffing hours and higher deficiencies.  


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

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. 

Monday, Jan 9. 6:30 P.M. “Castoffs” Knitting Group. All levels are welcome and some help will be provided. Kensington Library, 61 Arlington Av.. Free. 510-524-3043. 

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 Certified Health coach-Yoga teacher Neta O’Leary Sundberg. 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. 12:15-1 P.M. Michael Goldberg, guitar: Noon Concert Series.  

UCB Hertz Concert Hall. Sponsor: Department of Music Faculty recital.
Luis de Narvaez: Three Fantasias. Turina: Sevillana Bach: Suite in E Major (BWV 1006a). Ponce: Sonatina Meridional. Tickets not required. 510-642-4864 

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

Wednesday, Jan. 25. 1-2 P.M. Israeli Chamber Project Concert. Jewish Community Center. Berkeley Branch, 1414 Walnut St. Free. RSVP online. 510-848-0237  

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. 

Monday, Jan. 30. 7 P.M. Ellis Island Old World Folk Band Performance. 

Kensington Library, 61 Arlington Ave. Performance will include both Old World and New World repertoire emphasizing the transition that took place when Jews came to America at the beginning of the last century. Tunes from the Yiddish theater and radio featuring vocals made popular by the Barry Sisters, who were the queens of 1940s Yiddish Swing. As a pioneer in the revival of klezmer, lively and soulful Eastern European Jewish music, the Band has been honored with awards from Berkeley, Albany, and Alameda. Free. 510-524-3043 


Thursday, Feb. 2, 2012. 1:3-3 P.M. Fred Setterberg will discuss his book, Lunch Bucket Paradise, a true-life novel about growing up in blue-collar suburbia in 1950s and 60s East Bay. Albany Library, 1247 Martin Avenue. Free. 510-526-3720. This is a program in the Alameda County Library’s Older Adults Services series; for dates and branches throughout the county, call 510-745-1491. 

Friday, Feb. 24. 9 A.M.-4 P.M. Annual convention. United Seniors of Oakland and Alameda County. 510-729-0852. www.usoac.org