The Week

Proposed Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Design for Richmond Field Station Site
Proposed Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Design for Richmond Field Station Site


Berkeley's Out as UC Chooses Richmond Site for LBNL

By Jeff Shuttleworth (BCN)
Monday January 23, 2012 - 12:33:00 PM

The University of California announced today that it has chosen a site in Richmond as the preferred home for a second campus of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, which the university manages. -more-

Flash: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Chooses Richmond!

Monday January 23, 2012 - 09:42:00 AM

The Planet received this email this morning, forwarded by Richmond Councilmember Tom Butt:

I received a call this morning from Paul Alivasatos, Director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, informing me that they have decided to make the Richmond Field Station and the City of Richmond the home for their second campus.

I would like to thank the Richmond City Council for their enthusiastic support for this important economic development project, the many City of Richmond staff members who worked to provide technical support in the decision-making process, and the Richmond community for providing the warm welcome mat that was undoubtedly a major factor in their decision.

I will provide more details as they become available. In the meantime, please enjoy this great bit of news and let's look forward to continued success.

Bill Lindsay

[Richmond] City Manager

Further details will be available later today.

View Larger Map -more-

Press Release: LBNL Announces Choice of Richmond Field Station for Expansion Site

From Jon Wiener, LBNL
Monday January 23, 2012 - 09:50:00 AM

The University of California announced today that it has identified the Richmond Field Station as its preferred site for the proposed consolidation of its biosciences programs of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab). The University of California-owned site presents the best opportunity to solve the Lab’s pressing space problems while allowing for long term growth and maintaining the 80 year tradition of close cooperation with the UC Berkeley Campus. -more-

Occupy Cal is Back

By Steven Finacom
Thursday January 19, 2012 - 09:17:00 PM

As rain moved into the Bay Area for the first time since—when, November of last year?—Occupy Cal did in fact re-emerge on the UC Berkeley campus.

January 18, 2012, the second day of classes for the Spring semester, saw two illicit banners hung from campus buildings. The most prominent, a long, colorful streamer apparently painted on plastic and bolstered with wood at top and bottom, hung down the west face of the Sather Campanile. -more-

New: Richmond Leads in Transportation Choices - Circular Shuttle and Easy Go Richmond

By Councilman Tom Butt, Richmond
Sunday January 22, 2012 - 11:04:00 AM

Two pioneering and largely free transportation programs providing shuttles, electric car rentals, bicycle sharing, van sharing, kid’s cab service and 40% off transit passes are now up and running in Richmond, dramatically increasing access to transportation and transportation choices to persons previously transportation challenged.

The FREE Richmond Circular Shuttle began operation through its service provider- TransMetro, Inc. on July 1, 2011. The service is funded through the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, and can be accessed within a five mile radius to multiple health facilities and clinics, pharmacies, businesses, recreation, residential communities, and employment centers for those traveling to and from the El Cerrito Del Norte and Richmond Intermodal BART stations. -more-

Press Release: AC Transit Chooses New Bus Rapid Transit Director

From Clarence Johnson AC Transit Media Affairs Manager
Monday January 23, 2012 - 09:50:00 AM

AC Transit today announced the hiring of a veteran transit engineering expert to head the agency’s Bus Rapid Transit Program. Arul Edwin, who has successfully managed similar transportation projects from Boston to Seattle, is now the Program Director for a BRT plan that will modernize and improve East Bay bus service. -more-

Press Release: Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life to Open in Downtown Berkeley

By Kathleen Maclay,UCB Media Relations
Friday January 20, 2012 - 12:51:00 PM

The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life at the University of California, Berkeley’s Bancroft Library, the latest addition to the city’s burgeoning downtown arts and culture district, is opening to the public on Sunday, Jan. 22. -more-

Squeaky Wheels on Telegraph Bring Down the Heat

By Ted Friedman
Thursday January 19, 2012 - 09:02:00 PM
Urban Strider can't wait to eat the store, now that's he's won a month's pig-out in a drawing.

On the way back from a photo shoot, Friday, at Pepe's pig-out , an all-you-can-eat near campus, I stumbled into a civic meet-on-the-street. The street was Telegraph Avenue, known throughout the world for riots and weird. -more-

My Palm Springs Adventure (First Person)

By Dorothy Snodgrass
Friday January 20, 2012 - 03:45:00 PM

Those of us fortunate enough to live in the wonderful, vibrant Bay Area tend to dismiss, indeed look down on other towns and cities in our Golden State. This is a totally incorrect perception, as I hope to prove in the account of my trip to Palm Springs last week. On January 9th, along with 27 members of the Emeryville Senior Center, we met in the parking lot of the old City Hall, and boarded a bus, with driver Greg and a very efficient tour director, Mary Soo-Hoo. Our destination was Palm Springs -- a ten hour trip given rest stops along the way and lunch in Fresno. Driving through the Mojave Desert we arrived at the Hyatt Regency Hotel on North Canyon Drive, too weary for dinner. Ah, but the next morning we woke to brilliant sunshine and had our first glimpse of this beautiful city with its Spanish Colonial architecture and massive Mount San Jacinto mountains in the background, to say nothing of row after row of soaring palm trees. -more-

Johnny Otis, Raised in Berkeley, Dies at 90

Friday January 20, 2012 - 04:35:00 PM

Berkeley's own Johnny Otis died yesterday at the age of 90. His Greek-American family ran a corner grocery store in an African-American Oceanview neighborhood, and young Johnny fell in love with Black culture, especially music, and joined up for the duration. Here's a good obit: from the Chronicle. -more-

Updated: Berkeley Council Considers Redistricting and New Location for Meetings

By Becky O'Malley
Tuesday January 17, 2012 - 08:33:00 AM

Tonight's Berkeley City Council meeting, the first for 2012, has a few controversial items which might bear watching, either streamed tonight or in video form tomorrow. We’ll try to check out what happens, and if there are any truly dramatic moments we’ll post a video excerpt for your amusement.

First up is a public hearing on neighbors’ appeal to the Zoning Adjustment Board’s approval of the big Parker Place development proposed for the current Berkeley Honda dealership site on South Shattuck.

UPDATE ON WEDNESDAY MORNING: Developers Ali Kashani and Mark Rhoades got their permits after accusing the neighbors of being chronic litigants, for which they the developers were roundly scolded by some councilmembers. -more-

Gunpoint Holdup at Berkeley Chevron Station in the Claremont Neighborhood

Tuesday January 17, 2012 - 05:08:00 PM

Berkeley Police have reported that the Chevron service station at the corner of Ashby and Domingo was held up at gun point about two o'clock this afternoon. The gunman, described as a Hispanic male in his teens wearing a grey hooded sweatshirt, black pants and a black mask, fled on foot. -more-

Bay Bridge Closed Over President's Day Weekend, Starting Night of February 17

By Patricia Decker (BCN)
Tuesday January 17, 2012 - 05:01:00 PM

The upper deck of the Bay Bridge will be closed over Presidents Day weekend to make way for construction, bridge officials announced today. -more-



Would a Fourth Term for Mayor Bates Make Berkeley "The Best It Can Be?"

By Becky O'Malley
Friday January 20, 2012 - 10:57:00 AM

This week I was sorting through the voluminous boxes of paper that came home when we closed the office a couple of years ago and I ran across a handsome glossy brochure headed “MAKING BERKELEY THE BEST IT CAN BE” with subhead “To Do List”. It featured 5 sincerely charming photos of Tom Bates, whose signed statement on the outside describes the document as “my ‘to do’ list for making Berkeley a healthy, vibrant, and green city.”

In fact, it was Bates’ 2008 campaign mailer, sent to every voter in Berkeley, a majority of whom bought his Kool-Aid and re-elected him to a third term.
Since today’s rumor mill reports that Mayor Bates, now almost 73, has decided to run again, in tandem with his wife Loni Hancock’s decision to seek another state senate term, it might be a good time to evaluate his performance using his own checklist. He’s been in office close to a decade now, so he’s had his chance to accomplish something if he’s ever going to. .
Here are his goals (in italics) followed by grades: -more-

The Editor's Back Fence

Want to Run for Mayor of Berkeley? MoveOn Wants You!

Monday January 23, 2012 - 12:20:00 PM

Yes, yes, I know the email from MoveOn reprinted below is just a fill-in-the-blanks template, and not a comment on the state of the city here in Berkeley, but it makes you think, doesn't it? Anyone up for the challenge? Just click on the links below and see what happens!

The part about making "sure city employees don't lose their pensions" might not resonate the same way with all of us, of course.....

From Kat Barr, Political Action
If you were mayor of Berkeley, what would be the first thing you'd do? Make sure city employees don't lose their pensions? Support green business startups? Or maybe fight back against cuts to crucial local services?

This isn't just a hypothetical scenario—it's exactly what more than 4,000 MoveOn members just like you have been thinking about since taking the first step to run for elective office. And they're not just running for mayor. They're exploring running for offices including school board, town council, and state legislature in cities and towns across the country.

If you've ever thought, "I've got some ideas for doing things differently in Berkeley," or seen a local politician and thought, "If that were me, things would be different," then it's time to join thousands of other progressives across the country and run for office. -more-

Updated: Berkeley City Council Cancels Redistricting Despite Receiving Six Viable Plans from Citizens

By Becky O'Malley
Tuesday January 17, 2012 - 11:18:00 PM

Well, folks, I just wanted to tell you that I've now watched what must rank as the single most disgusting display of hypocrisy in the close to 40 years I've been watching the Berkeley City Council in action. The council majority, comprised of former-Progs and former-Mods now allied to deceive the citizens as often as possible, employed specious semantics to claim that keeping a couple of thousand citizens from voting for city council in the upcoming election was not really "disenfranchising" them.

I suggest that when Wikipedia comes back up all of these self-righteous pseudo-pedants should check out the meaning and usage of the term.Until then, plain old Merriam Webster will have to suffice:

"to disenfranchise: to deprive of a franchise, of a legal right, or of some privilege or immunity; especially : to deprive of the right to vote." Seems clear to me.

The worst among them was Councilmember Darryl Moore, who defiled the sacred memory of the civil rights movement (Yes, Darryl, I was there—where were you in 1962?) to suggest that it's really okay to deprive some people of their vote for some kinds of offices some of the time.

No, it's not.

Residents were asked to submit plans, and six good plans, any of which would meet the requirements of the Berkeley City Charter, were submitted. But the council majority seized on the excuse provided by a proposal supported by a subset of student pols to postpone redistricting until a charter amendment changing the rules can be devised and passed.

Surely this will happen sometime soon. As Woody used to sing, there'll be pie in the sky by and by.

And while they wait for this blessed day, some number of thousands of voters, including a couple of thousand students, will be deprived of the right to vote for the councilmember who will represent them. But that's not disenfranchisement? Give me a break.

Anyone who has kept their eyes on the prize knows that the real purpose of this delay is to give the council majority time to figure out a way to shove most campus-area students into a single district, thus knocking off the two remaining genuine progressives on the council. Worthington and Arreguin depend on student votes to retain their seats, and their homes could even be cut out of the districts they now represent if lines are redrawn as Councilmember Wozniak proposes.

Wozniak clearly hopes to be left with an all-homeowner District 8, making an even safer seat than he now enjoys. But even homeowners, even comfortable Elmwood homeowners, might eventually get tired of this kind of naked gerrymandering. As might the constituents of the hypocritical Councilmember Moore, who is up for election this November.

This is one council performance that anyone who cares about good government, whether Prog, Mod, Radical, Liberal or just plain old Democrat, should watch. Here it is:

Get Microsoft Silverlight -more-


Odd Bodkins: The Giraffe Suit (Cartoon)

By Dan O'Neill
Thursday January 19, 2012 - 05:11:00 PM

Bounce: That Ship Has Sailed (Cartoon)

By Joseph Young
Thursday January 19, 2012 - 05:18:00 PM

Public Comment

OAKLANDERS BEWARE: Mini-lot Development Coming to Neighbor's Yard or Vacant Lot Next to You

By Bob Brokl
Friday January 20, 2012 - 01:30:00 PM

Our MacCall St. neighbors group lost the $1400 appeal over a mini-lot subdivision, a vacant lot at 5919 MacCall where formerly there was a single family home. Two 1,452 sq. ft., two story buildings on the substandard 4,140 sq. ft. lot where 5,000 sq. ft. would be required were approved at the Residential Appeal Committee Jan. 11. Two of the 3 commissions, Jonelyn Whales, a City of Richmond planner recently appointed by Quan, and Blake Huntsman, a SEIU rep and Dellums appointee, heard the appeal. Both followed the staff recommendation, made no modifications, and peremptorily voted us down. (We're assuming the proposed project at 4812 Lawton in Temescal—check out is also a mini-lot development.) -more-

Will Berkeley City Council Consider Real Alternatives to West Campus Council Chamber Site?

By Katherine Harr
Monday January 16, 2012 - 09:35:00 PM

Tonight, Tuesday January 17, the Berkeley City Council will review the staff report on “alternate” locations for City Council meetings. Alternate to what? The corner of Browning and Addison – the residential side of BUSD’s West Campus property.

As the DP wrote, "West Campus is relatively far from the action, and would probably impede rather than facilitate citizen attendance at meetings—but perhaps that’s the rationale behind what appears to be the current plan."

Unfortunately, the report doesn’t provide much in the way of facts or details, and two of the three leading locations identified in the report have many of the same problems that West Campus does: The Longfellow School and NB Senior Center are both in residential areas not well served by late-night transit.

Yet so far the only opposition has been from those of us likely to be dismissed as NIMBY ROBOTS, the neighbors. -more-

How Do We Handle Industrial Evil?

by Gar Smith
Tuesday January 17, 2012 - 05:54:00 PM

"What does it matter to us? Look away if it makes you sick"

— Heinrich Himmler in response to complaints about Auschwitz

They conspired to murder millions with lethal gases. They plotted to seek out and kill children. When challenged about what they had done, they lied, they covered up, they tried to silence their critics. They ranked among the country's wealthiest executives. They are the officers of the US tobacco industry. -more-

Mic Check! Occupy the Courts Jan 20: beginning 8:00 AM in Oakland; noon in SF.

By Christina Tuccillo and Phoebe Anne Sorgen
Wednesday January 18, 2012 - 12:18:00 AM

For excellent reasons, dozens of organizations and hundreds of thousands of people support the need for a constitutional amendment to overturn the Citizens United v Federal Election Commission Supreme Court ruling of Jan. 21, 2010 and prior anti-democratic SCOTUS rulings that a corporation is a person and that money is speech. A Washington Post-ABC News poll found that 80% of Americans oppose the Citizens United ruling, and a Harris poll found that 87% think big companies have too much influence in Washington.

The Occupy Berkeley General Assembly reached consensus twice to support two local Jan. 20, 2012 "Occupy the Courts" actions organized by members of Move to Amend, Occupy Oakland, and Occupy SF. These are outdoor, permitted protests: -more-


ECLECTIC RANT: Precedent-Setting Human Trafficking Case

By Ralph E. Stone
Friday January 20, 2012 - 03:38:00 PM

When most people think of human trafficking, they envision victims trafficked into the international sex trade. But consider the complaint filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center in the class action case of Mairi Nunag-Tañedo, et al. v. East Baton Rouge Parish School Board, et al. , filed in the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles under the federal Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA), 18 U.S.C. §1589, et seq.

The Plaintiffs in this case are 350 Filipino teachers who were recruited by Universal Placement International, Inc. located in Los Angeles and PARS International Placement Agency located in Quezon City, Philippines, to work in Louisiana public schools.

From 2006 to the filing of the lawsuit in 2010, the defendants recruited experienced Filipino teachers to work in Louisiana public schools under the H-1B guestworker visa program. Most of the teachers had to borrow money to pay the recruiting fees, which ranged from $5,000 to $5,500. This is about one and half times the average annual income in the Philippines. The teachers were not told until after the first fee had been paid that they would be required to pay the first three months of their projected salary before they could leave for the United States. The first two months was collected in advance. The third month's salary was to be collected after the first year of employment. If the teachers resisted paying the third month's salary, they were threatened with being sent back to the Philippines and losing the thousands they had already paid. -more-

THE PUBLIC EYE: America’s Mobility Problem

By Bob Burnett
Friday January 20, 2012 - 12:38:00 PM

2012’s dominant political will be jobs and income inequality. Recent studies suggest that we add social mobility to the list: an American born into poverty is increasingly unlikely to be able to move up and out. -more-

WILD NEIGHBORS: Careful, the Snake Might Hear You

By Joe Eaton
Friday January 20, 2012 - 01:00:00 PM
A little cello music for the ball python?

I’ve lived with a ball python named Shep for something like eight years, and all that time I’ve assumed he was effectively deaf, as snakes were supposed to be. He has never seemed to respond to music, even to bass lines (in contrast to Matt the cat, who leaves the room when fiddle music is in progress.) We all know that the Indian snake-charmer routine works because the cobra responds to the flute-player’s movements, not the sound of the flute. -more-

SENIOR POWER: Food as metaphor

By Helen Rippier Wheeler
Friday January 20, 2012 - 01:13:00 PM

When my parents separated in 1931, my mother moved to a suburban apartment. Some of the furniture and I accompanied her. Shanin the landlord was busy with his principal business— collecting and shipping boatloads of scrap metal to Japan. On the first of each month, his agent, an amiable woman with a withered arm, knocked on his buildings’ apartment doors to collect the rents and to chat. -more-

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

By Dorothy Bryant
Friday January 20, 2012 - 01:06:00 PM

Spiritualists believe in personal immortality as far as any mortal can believe in such an unimaginable horror.

— George Bernard Shaw(probably from the preface to Back to Methuselah or another of his late, long, never-performed plays) -more-

Arts & Events

Stagebridge Mounts New Play by Joan Holden at Berkeley's Ashby Stage, Opening Feb. 3

By John A. McMullen III
Friday January 20, 2012 - 05:10:00 PM

The year Reagan was elected, I saw my first SF Mime Troupe show, which was written by Joan Holden:Americans, or Last Tango In Huahuatenango, a musical comedy of tropical and topical intrigue. Little did we know what evil would lurk in the next 8 years in Central America.

A decade later—though I saw many more by Joan Holden in between—I saw Back To Normal, in which a mother does not cheer when her son comes home from the two week bombing raid we called the Gulf War. In retrospect that work augured more war evil to come in the decade to follow.

Whether or not she has a touch of the Sybil or can just read the writing on the wall a decade in advance, Joan Holden, whose latest play opens in Berkeley at the Ashby Stage on February 3, has been a force in the theater and, as principal playwright, was a significant reason why the Mime Troupe garnered a Tony for Best Regional Theater. -more-

Around & About Chamber Music: The Israeli Chamber Project at the Berkeley City Club, Tuesday January 24

By Ken Bullock
Sunday January 22, 2012 - 03:47:00 PM

The Israeli Chamber Project--Tibi Cziger, clarinet; Michael Korman, cello; Sivan Magen, harp; Assaff Weisman, piano; Itamar Zorman, violin--will play Bartok's 'Contrasts'; Brahms' Clarinet Trio in A minor, Opus 114; Paul Ben Haim's 3 Songs Without Words for Harp & Clarinet; Shostakovich's Piano Trio No. 1 in C minor; and Sebastian Courier, Night Time for Harp & Violin, at 8 pm, Tuesday, January 24, Berkeley City Club, 2135 Durant. $12.50 (post-high school students), $25 general, students high school & below, free. 525-5211;

Around & About: The Edwardian Ball

By Ken Bullock
Wednesday January 18, 2012 - 10:20:00 AM

Long a San Francisco and Bay Area tradition, costume balls and masquerades have often been an integral part of theatrical events, like the SF Opera's Black & White Ball. -more-

Clerestory 'Resolutions'--Choral Music for the New Year

By Ken Bullock
Tuesday January 17, 2012 - 11:18:00 PM

Clerestory, men's choral group--the name comes from "clear cathedral windows that let in sunlight" (Middle English, clear + story)--opens its New Year Bay Area concerts with 'Resolutions,' "A kaleidoscope of favorites" of the group's first five years, from early Renaissance through English choral music to modern American composers (including Eric Banks, Paul Crabtree and Steven Sametz), this Saturday evening at 8 at the Chapel of the Chimes, 4499 Piedmont Avenue in Oakland. Other Bay Area concerts follow, concluding with a Sunday matinee on the 29th in San Francisco, presented by the Noe Valley Chamber Music series. -more-

Theater Review: Ghost Light at the Berkeley Rep

By Ken Bullock
Tuesday January 17, 2012 - 05:55:00 PM

"What kind of son internalizes that curse? If we solve the ghost, we solve the play."

A 14 year old boy watches color TV onstage ... sitcoms of the 70s: Mary Tyler Moore, The Bob Newhart Show ... An interruption, and close-up of a young Dianne Feinstein, President of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, announcing Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk have been shot—and that the suspect is Supervisor Dan White

The boy leaps up. He's Moscone's son Jonathan, the dead mayor's youngest child.

The date is November 27, 1978. -more-

Addiction Incorporated: The Other Insider
Opens January 20 at the Shattuck Cinemas

Reviewed by Gar Smith
Tuesday January 17, 2012 - 05:50:00 PM
Director Chris Evans, Jr. and whistle-blower Victor DeNoble

In the 1999 movie, The Insider, Russell Crowe starred as Jeff Wigand, a former tobacco industry researcher for Brown & Williams, who dares to reveal the dangers of nicotine to Berkeley-based 60 Minutes producer Lowell Bergman.

This week, Berkeley-grad Charles Evans Jr.,'s Addiction Incorporated hits the Big Screen to tell a parallel story of Philip Morris researcher Victor DeNoble, the whistleblower whose revelations triggered the Congressional hearings and class action lawsuits that forever tarred the reputation of Big Tobacco. -more-

Around & About Theater: Community Theater Openings—Actors Ensemble of Berkeley, Masquers Playhouse, Altarena Playhouse

By Ken Bullock
Wednesday January 18, 2012 - 10:16:00 AM

A big weekend for local community theaters--three will open new shows on the 20th: -more-