University of California at Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau announced today that he will step down at the end of the year after more than eight years of heading the campus. -more-
The Santorum Strategy is not just about Santorum. It is about pounding the most radical conservative ideas into the public mind by constant repetition during the Republican presidential campaign, whether by Santorum himself, by Gingrich or Ron Paul, by an intimidated Romney, or by the Republican House majority. The Republican presidential campaign is about a lot more than the campaign for the presidency. It is about guaranteeing a radical conservative future for America. I am old enough to remember how liberals (me included) made fun of Ronald Reagan as a not-too-bright mediocre actor who could not possibly be elected president. I remember liberals making fun of George W.Bush as so ignorant and ill-spoken that Americans couldn't possibly take him seriously. Both turned out to be clever politicians who changed America much for the worse. And among the things they and their fellow conservatives managed to do was change public discourse, and with it, change how a great many Americans thought. -more-
Berkeley police officers are expressing concern about Police Chief Michael Meehan's decision to send an officer to a reporter's home early Friday morning to demand a correction to a story about a community meeting on a recent high-profile crime.
Members of the Berkeley Police Association, which represents the city's officers, said in a statement that they "stand with our community and share in their concerns about the appearance and correctness of the chief's orders."
They also said they "are gravely concerned about the impact his actions will have on our ability to maintain the vital trust of the community we serve."
Police union members said, "We are committed to providing the best possible service to the community, and protecting the constitutional rights of the citizens of Berkeley to whom we ultimately answer."
They said, "We do not believe that the actions tak en by Chief Meehan represent the will, spirit, or sentiment of the membership of the Berkeley Police Association." -more-
Sending a police officer in the middle of the night to a reporter’s house to ask for changes to a story is flat-out inappropriate and just plain wrong. It is a serious trespass that treads dangerously close to State censorship of the Press. Chief Meehan has taken full responsibility for the incident, apologizing for his grave error and assuring the City, the Public, and the Press that it will never happen again. -more-
Updated: The Deal's Gone Down [maybe]: Oakland's Angstadt Reported to be Berkeley's New Planning Director
UPDATE at 7: Well, not so fast. When we raised the question in the public comment period that preceded today's special 5:30 Berkeley City Council meeting, councilmembers roundly denied that Oakland's Eric Angstadt already had a lock on the city's director of planning job. -more-
Editor's note: These statements were published on the berkeleyside.com blog at 2:30 on Saturday afternoon. After I wrote to the city manager at 5.58 p.m. asking why they were never sent to the Planet, we received a copy at about 6:15. While city staff is brushing up on media etiquette, someone might take the time to compile a press list through which they can release information to all media outlets at the same time. -more-
Berkeley police representatives charmed an initially raucous mob assembled at Northbrae Community Church Thursday night to discuss last month's murder in the hills. -more-
At least one gray whale was spotted in San Francisco Bay near Alcatraz Island again today, and the U.S. Coast Guard is alerting boaters of the location of whales so that mariners can steer clear, a Coast Guard officer said.
There have been several whale sightings in the Bay over the last several days, including a mother and a young calf, as whales are migrating from breeding areas near Mexico to feeding areas near Alaska, officials from the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary said.
This morning at least one gray whale has been seen near Blossom Rock, a submerged rock near Yerba Buena Island. -more-
Don’t know why I keep doing this, but I did it again—watched the Berkeley City Council meeting online—and friends, the news is not good. The councilmembers, with a couple of semi-exceptions, continue their inexorable march toward re-shaping downtown Berkeley in the image of Manhattan.
The putative excuse is Measure R. About two-thirds of the Berkeley residents who showed up at the polls a couple of years ago were suckered into voting for Measure R with no real understanding of what it entailed. The slick professional campaign to rezone downtown Berkeley was funded by, among others, the biggest downtown apartment owner, Equity Residential, which is owned by the notorious Sam Zell, now reputed to be back in the real estate market after his disastrous fling with being a media mogul, which left the Chicago Tribune and the L.A. Times in ruins. To its eternal embarrassment, the too-often-fooled Sierra Club lent its good name to the Zell enterprise for a glossy mailer which probably tipped the scales, tricking infrequent voters who weren’t aware of who was actually behind the measure.
The new Downtown Plan is billed as the implementation of Measure R. -more-
The Editor's Back Fence
Berkeley Police Chief Sends Sergeant (Armed) to Reporter's Home at Midnight to Complain about a Story
Now here's one that's truly unbelievable, but it seems to have happened. It appears that Berkeley Police Chief Michael Meehan ordered Sergeant Mary Kusmiss to go to Bay Area News Group reporter Doug Oakley's house at 12:45 a.m. to complain about errors in a story he'd just filed about Meehan's appearance at the North Berkeley forum which discussed the recent hills murder. Here's the story:
To his home? After midnight? What could the chief have been thinking? And what was Mary Kusmiss thinking? Couldn't she have talked him out of it? She works Monday through Thursday, and technically this incident was early Friday morning, when she too should have been home in bed. -more-
The ruckus about the midnight visit that reporter Doug Oakley received from the Berkeley police's public information officer has been widely discussed. Here it is on ABC TV: -more-
Updated: Berkeley Council Will Meet in Closed Session on Monday to Consider New Planning Director, Labor Negotiations
The Berkeley City Council will meet in a special closed session on Monday, March 12, at 5:30 P.M. in the Cypress Room at City Hall, 2180 Milvia Street, 1st Floor to consider two topics, hiring a new director of planning and ongoing labor negotiations. The Brown Act, the state law about open government, permits these topics to be considered in closed session because they are personnel matters, exempt from the usual open meeting rules. However, the public may comment before the session on these topics.
First, the council will consider and possibly act on filling the key position of Director of Planning for the City of Berkeley. As of Friday afternoon, according to Councilmember Kriss Worthington, even council members had not been informed about who the choice might be, if indeed a choice has been made by the Acting City Manager. A public comment period will precede the meeting, but since the name or names of the candidate or candidates has not been revealed, the public might find it difficult to provided meaningful input into the council's decision process.
Saturday morning update: The chosen candidate is now rumored to be Eric Angstadt, currently listed on the city of Oakland website as Deputy Director of Community & Economic Development in Oakland's Community & Economic Development Agency.. Oakland readers, what do you know about him?
The second topic might engender even more public comment, since it is scheduled to involve participation of Police Chief Michael Meehan, now under heavy criticism because he sent an officer to a reporter's home after midnight early Friday morning in an effort to get a story changed.
It's billed as a conference with labor negotiators Christine Daniel, Interim City Manager, David W. Hodgkins, Director of Human Resources, Teresa Berkeley-Simmons, Budget Manager, Margarita Zamora, Senior Human Resources Analyst, Michael Meehan, Chief of Police, Mark Zembsch, Deputy City Attorney, Margaret Edwards, Associate Human Resources Analyst. and employee organizations IBEW Local 1245; Public Employees Union, Local One; and SEIU Local 1021, Community Services and Part-Time Recreation Leaders Association, Unrepresented Employees, Berkeley Police Association.
Citizens who have opinions on what should be done on either front are encouraged to come at 5:30 and speak their minds. -more-
Chief Must Go; "doing a pretty good job overall"? Police Chief -more-
Oil Consumption, 2707 Rose, Financing Our Schools -more-
Sunday evening's extra daylight was marvelous! But we paid the price for moving the clocks ahead one hour on Monday morning, when we had to arise for work in the dark. Jumping ahead to Daylight Savings Time before the Spring Equinox - when there are equal amounts of daytime and night - results in dark mornings. -more-
Each morning when I wake up, one of the thoughts in my mind is "Oh no, the warm pool is gone." And I feel a thud in my chest and a yearning to swim in those warm waters again. Then comes the realization that my community I cherish has no where to go. The BUSD and the COB could have easily prevented this, but they refused. -more-
Summer is still three months away, but it is time to think about sunshine. National Sunshine Week is March 11-17, and in Berkeley we have a chance to pass the strongest Sunshine law in the country. This ordinance would not govern the sun's rays, which light up our homes and illuminate our yards, but would instead mandate that sunshine must flow into our city government and ensure that our politicians and their employees cannot hide in the shadows. -more-
While George Lippman’s commentary (“a Step on the Road to Protect Civil Rights”, BDP 3/6-13/12)informs us of the patriotic remarks of several councilmembers and particularly the eloquent speech of Councilmember Anderson, it misinforms the reader of the actual vote on the police department agreements that took place at the 2/14/2012 City Council meeting. -more-
It is not surprising that recent actions by Berkeley Police Chief Michael Meehan have been met by calls for his resignation. It is some comfort that, in these days of rampant police misconduct, it is still considered outrageous when a police chief sends a police officer to the door of a reporter to demand that a story be changed. It is always bad news when police take action against the written word. There are some of us in the Bay Area who remember the story of former San Francisco Police Chief Richard Hongisto who lost his job as chief after ordering the disposal of stacks of the SF Bay Times that had a rather compromising picture of him on the front cover. If there are any standards of fairness or equity, Meehan also should lose his job. -more-
The seething anger triggered by the slaughter of 16 Afghan civilians, mainly women and children, by a U.S. soldier comes amidst outrage over other civilian deaths. Last week violence erupted by the burning of the Koran by U.S. troops. In January American marines were captured on video urinating on dead Taliban militants. A US army ‘kill team’ was also caught on video cutting off dead body parts as souvenir trophies. On February 8th, helicopter gunships slaughtered eight shepherds on a mountainside as they were out grazing their flocks. Just three days later in Kapisa, four civilians were killed, mistaken for insurgents. -more-
My name is withheld since I am a woman who suffers from bipolar disorder. Maintaining anonymity is essential for me to function in our community and maintain my right to confidentiality. I am responding to Ms. O'Malley's editorial. Sorry, it's long and I need to go to bed. You may find it of interest. -more-
When making a decision that affects the quality of health care for millions of Californians and the livelihoods of the state’s physicians and pharmacists, one would think the state and federal government departments responsible would take into account input from the public and well-informed stakeholders. -more-
Bob Burnett's recent editorial on Obama's disastrous energy policy is an example of pure mindless propaganda. -more-
We are poised to be an international center for the development of new environmental technologies… That opportunity grew with the award of a $500 million biofuels research center to UC Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Lab two weeks ago.
—Mayor Tom Bates, February 2007
Mr. Li, a humanitarian leader and visionary, acts upon the values that emanate from his own life.
—UC Chancellor Robert Birgeneau, October 2011
Of course you have noticed Berkeley’s two new high tech research laboratories looming over Oxford Street, at Hearst Avenue — one on the UC Campus and one in the Downtown. Even though they are big buildings they remain mostly a mystery to everyone. -more-
Tuesday’s hearing on the down town area plan at the City Council was continued until March 13 because of public interest. The following statement was presented to Council members : -more-
Finding the breeding or wintering grounds of a migratory bird species is always a big deal. I’m old enough to recall the excitement attending the discovery of the Alaskan breeding range of the bristle-thighed curlew. Not that people were dancing in the streets, kissing random nurses, or setting fire to police cars, but there was a nice photo spread in National Geographic. (That may also have been my first encounter with the word “thigh.” In my family, in deference to my grandmother’s sensibilities, we called that part of the chicken the shortjoint.) -more-
For weeks, bewildered Americans have witnessed politicians debate whether or not contraception should be covered by President’s Obama’s new health care plan. On March 1, after some of the most bizarre theatrical antics remembered in this nation’s political history, the U.S. Senate finally interrupted this surreal soap opera with a cliff hanger. By only two votes, they defeated an amendment that would have allowed religious employers to refuse to pay for the contraception of their employees. -more-
Oil prices are escalating and Americans soon may pay $5 for a gallon of gasoline. This grim fact has not escaped the notice of politicians. America’s latest energy crisis has prompted heated rhetoric from Republicans and Democrats. Here are four lies that have been bandied about. -more-
By using facial recognition software, a law enforcement agency can use its video surveillance system to pull an image of an individual, run that image through the database to find a match, and identify the person. It can pick someone's face out of a crowd, extract the face from the rest of the scene and compare it to a database of stored images. -more-
Last week I wrote about a new proposal by the US Fish and Wildlife Service to study the impact of the barred owl on the endangered northern spotted owl by experimentally removing, lethally or otherwise, barred owls from selected sites where the two species overlap. The barred owl, a common and widespread Eastern species, has invaded the range of its close relative and appears to be displacing it in some areas. The two owls are interbreeding, raising concerns that the spotted owl may be genetically swamped by the larger, more fecund, and more adaptable barred owl. -more-
Even when ill with a physical disease, most people without a mental illness take for granted the normal functioning of their physical bodies and their comfortable presence in their environment. Most people have no concept of living in the misshapen world created by medication side effects. Antipsychotic medication creates a continuous suffering that I will try to describe for you. -more-
Arts & Events
Berkeley resident and CalShakes Dramaturge--and author of 'The King & I,' about her lifelong fascination with 'King Lear'--Philippa Kelly will speak next Tuesday, March 13 at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco, 6-7 p. m., "Only Connect: Dramaturgy & Shakespeare's Living Theatre,' on theater and how "we pick up the fragments of our lives, make momentary sense of what has happened to us; how theater comforts us in grief and gives us merriment, as well as those moments of passion we use to define our lives." Actors Anna Bullard and Daniel Heath will read relevant lines from Shakespeare, and Cal Shakes artistic director Jonathan Moscone will converse with Philippa. 595 Market, San Francisco. $7-$20. commonwealthclub.org or 597-6000 -more-