Opinion

Editorials

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.
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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. .
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Here are his goals (in italics) followed by grades: -more-


The Editor's Back Fence

THIS JUST IN! New Lab to Be Build on UC Berkeley's Richmond Property!

Tuesday January 24, 2012 - 11:31:00 AM

The giant whoop-de-doo over Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory's decision to expand its bioscience research to U.C. Berkeley's Richmond Field Station is mind-boggling. Front page headline in the metro daily! Dog Bites Man--Read It Here!

What's mysterious is why such a fuss was made in the first place with purported consideration of other sites, given that the university already owned this obviously perfect site. The only explanation that makes sense is that it's The Planners' Full Employment Stimulus Program, given that hundreds of thousands of dollars were expended on fancy video-enhanced bids that, rightfully, should never have had a chance.

What if—just what if—the powers that be at the two UC-related players had simply announced that "we own a lovely site down by the bay, and we're putting our new labs there"? Period.

Who could cavil? Just sayin'. -more-


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, MoveOn.org 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-


Public Comment

New: Self Immolations and Tibet

By Tenzin Dorjee
Thursday January 26, 2012 - 09:17:00 AM

The Mayan prophecy that the world will end in 2012 has spawned hundreds of books, films, plays and satires. Although the public fascination with apocalyptic stories does not necessarily translate into real belief, I admit to secretly subscribing to an alternative vision of a 2012 apocalypse—one where the world is cleansed of tyranny, colonialism, and totalitarianism. -more-


New: Jerusalem Concert by Children's Orchestra Cancelled by Israeli Government Action

By Samia Nasir Khoury
Tuesday January 24, 2012 - 09:20:00 AM

Friends and family who know me well know how I would love to hibernate in winter. I am just not a winter person, and I would never contemplate stepping out of the house on a rainy day, especially these days when my falls have become unpredictable. Last Sunday seemed to be a nice sunny day, but by noon it turned to be a very rainy and wet day. The Jerusalem children’s orchestra of the Edward Said National Conservatory was scheduled to perform at the Cultural Palace in Ramallah, and the next day at the National Theatre in Ramallah. I already made up my mind to go the next day to Jerusalem and avoid the drive through Kalandia where the road ends up more like a river when the heavy rains fall. But alas the last minute the concert in Jerusalem was cancelled because the children from the West Bank were not granted permits. -more-


Welcome Back Streicher!- The Alabama-Arizona Immigration Laws Recall 1935 Germany

By Jean Damu
Tuesday January 24, 2012 - 09:21:00 AM

Is Kansas Secretary of State, Kris Kobach, he who roams the nation promoting vicious anti-immigration laws and ordinances a latter day Julius Streicher? -more-


One Person, One Vote (Except in Berkeley)

By the Occasional Curmudgeon*
Tuesday January 24, 2012 - 08:32:00 AM

The Curmudgeon Light was shining on the side of the Campanile the other night, my signal from Planet Editor Becky O’Malley that she wanted me to check in after she’d gotten copies of some emails I’d sent to councilmembers.

“Write something satirical, Curmudge,” Becky ordered, referring to the stultifying subject of voter redistricting, the process of redrawing election districts that follows every decennial census. But how can you be funny about something like redistricting? -more-


Happy New Year, Berkeley--The Chickens Have Come Home to Roost

By Jim Fousekis, Berkeley Budget SOS
Tuesday January 24, 2012 - 08:35:00 AM

For the last several years, Berkeley Budget SOS has attempted to focus our City government on the realities of Berkeley’s financial crisis; unfortunately, our pleas for fiscal reality and transparency have fallen on deaf ears. During 2011, most Berkeley City leaders appear to have remained deluded by the comments of Councilman Laurie Capitelli, who proclaimed “We are in better fiscal shape than virtually any other jurisdiction in the Bay Area and I would suggest even California”. The fallacy of that comment was repeatedly evident last year. The chickens have indeed come home to roost. -more-


There's More to Tobacco Story

By Carol Denney
Tuesday January 24, 2012 - 12:03:00 PM

Thank you for Gar Smith’s excellent and detailed review of Addiction Incorporated (Addiction Incorporated: The Other Insider 1-17-2012 ) at the Shattuck Cinemas.

The tobacco industry’s manipulation of the public, cigarette additives, and the scientific community is still going on, and this movie does a great job of telling whistleblower Victor DeNoble’s insider story of doing research at Philip Morris like the great suspense thriller it is.

But the film leaves out a big part of the tobacco story – the dogged, dedicated citizens, parents, public health professionals, policymakers, teachers, casino workers, truck drivers, musicians and others who continue to fight ordinance by ordinance, city council by city council, for clean air despite the billions the tobacco industry spends to try to thwart common sense public health policy. -more-


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 http://www.savelawton.org/ is also a mini-lot development.) -more-