Hate Man was, reportedly, ordered by an Alameda County judge Monday to stay away from People's Park for three years.
The world-famous eccentric had been dodging trespassing tickets for years, managing successfully to stay one step ahead of the law, he has told me, but Monday, he misstepped.
Word of the eviction went out late Monday on local activists' Google lists. -more-
Hate Man was, reportedly, ordered by an Alameda County judge Monday to stay away from People's Park for three years.
Four Occupy Cal protesters were arraigned today on misdemeanor charges for their involvement in a demonstration at Sproul Plaza at the University of California at Berkeley campus on Nov. 9. -more-
The Alameda County coroner's bureau has identified a man who washed ashore at the Berkeley Marina on Saturday as 31-year-old Douglas Jones. -more-
Berkeley City Manager Christine Daniel said today that the city has hired a law firm to conduct an independent investigation of Police Chief Michael Meehan's decision to send an officer to a reporter's home in the middle of the night to demand a correction to a story. -more-
More than a dozen people charged in connection with Occupy Cal protests are set to be arraigned in Alameda County Superior Court this week and next. -more-
Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities. Truth isn't. Mark Twain
It’s Friday morning, March 16, 2012. The Berkeley Public Library branch van is scheduled for 3 hours at the Live Oak curb on this cold and rainy day. Nothing on my BPL website account advises differently, so I plan to proceed uphill to pick up my requested books and other media and to return others, all with deadlines. -more-
Press Release: Police Union Calls for a Formal Investigation of Chief Meehan “Error in Judgment” in 12:45 a.m. Visit to Reporter’s Home
Citing the lack of review of Berkeley Police Chief Michael Meehan’s self-subscribed error in judgment as a double standard and serious disregard for Department policy, the Berkeley Police Association (BPA) today called for a formal investigation of the incidents that culminated in Meehan’s order to have a police sergeant make a 12:45 a.m. visit to the home of Oakland Tribune reporter Doug Oakley to demand that he change a newspaper story. -more-
“On Monday of this week, the City retained the firm of Renne Sloan Holtzman Sakai to conduct an investigation into the events of March 8th and 9th involving Chief of Police Michael K. Meehan. That process will be conducted to its conclusion.” -more-
Press Release: Berkeley Patients Group to Remain Open -- Medical Cannabis Dispensary Plans to Relocate in Berkeley
[Editor's note: "The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated." – Mark Twain]
Recent media reports have erroneously stated that Berkeley Patients Group, one of the oldest and well-respected medical cannabis dispensaries in California, is closing its doors. The following statement provides accurate information on BPG’s status:
Berkeley Patients Group remains dedicated to providing safe and affordable access to its patient-members, while working to preserve the jobs of its 70+ employees. BPG is not closing. We have been looking to relocate for several years and look forward to announcing our new site, soon. We are grateful for the level of support we have received from the Berkeley community over the years. -more-
The Alameda County coroner's bureau is working to identify the body of a man that washed ashore at the Berkeley Marina this morning, a police sergeant said. -more-
Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District directors have agreed to spend $16.4 million to buy up to 40 new buses from a bus manufacturing firm in Hayward, the Gillig Corp. -more-
The subject lines on friends’ email forwards of the original Bay Area News Group article about PoliceChiefGate told the story. “OMG!” “Unbelievable!” and more. And who could argue with their reaction? Everyone in Berkeley and beyond, it seemed, even people who have never agreed on anything else before, agreed on this one:. “How could he? What could he have been thinking?”
And so did I. I’ve been a First Amendment absolutist for all of my adult life. I joined the ACLU before I was old enough to vote. I’ve many times quoted Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black on the constitutional ban on abridging freedom of speech: “When it says ‘no law’ it means NO LAW!”
After working for a number of years as a political agitator for civil rights and in the anti-war movement, I took up journalism. These experiences fueled my outrage at the report of the Berkeley Police Chief’s midnight messenger sent to press a reporter to correct an online story. I imagined myself hearing that ominous knock, reliving that fearsome confrontation with an armed officer on my doorstep.
There’s no question in my mind that what used to be called The Standard Liberal Position is that this should never have happened. We all have the right to be safe and secure in our homes, don’t we? And we shouldn’t have to be afraid when someone comes knocking after midnight, especially the police. I absolutely agree—or at least I do when I’m wearing my journalist’s hat.
But when the Berkeley Police Officers’ Association issued their first statement criticizing Meehan, I started to wonder. The BPOA is technically not a union, since they can’t strike under the law—but it’s a professional association which does collective bargaining on behalf of its members . And as luck would have it, collective bargaining is underway right now—and Chief Meehan is the boss with whom they’re negotiating. It occurred to me that there might be more than one reason the Association is looking askance at him.
When Berkeley attorney Jim Chanin, a veteran ACLU officer, a former chair of Berkeley’s Police Review Commission and a litigator who has brought and won many police misconduct lawsuits in many jurisdictions in his 40 year career, was quoted in the Chronicle as thinking that Meehan showed “a serious lapse in judgment”, but should not have to resign, I wondered more. So I called Jim to get his take at first hand. -more-
The Editor's Back Fence
Happy Bonnie Hughes Day! Rumor has it that the Mayor and/or the City Council will issue a proclamation honoring arts impresario and civic gadfly Bonnie Hughes, and it couldn't happen to a nicer person. When I heard that this was in the works, I asked Bonnie if she might be suffering from a terminal illness, which is why sometimes people in Berkeley get proclamations, but no, she's fine. Whew!
Bonnie has put in an incredible amount of service to the people of Berkeley and the world in the 20 years or so I've known her and before. She's managed to combine two particular passions, the arts and civil liberties, in an amazing way which could only have worked as well as it has because her personal charm overwhelms any potential adversaries. -more-
A legal point, often misunderstood, is that under Berkeley’s charter the city council can vote whether or not to accept the manager’s hiring recommendations, but after a department head is hired only the manager can fire him or her.
If the councilmembers, including the mayor, wanted to get rid of such an employee and the manager declined to do so, they’d have to fire the manager first. So the mayor and his fellow council members can’t just fire the embattled police chief, even if they want to.
Right now there’s another good current illustration of what this entails. The department head position of Director of Planning is vacant. It was mistakenly reported in a local news outlet that one Eric Angstadt of Oakland had the job, but the mayor and council took great pains at the Monday meeting to say that he had NOT been hired, that the council was just receiving the recommendation and the approval vote wouldn’t be until April 3.
But if you were in any doubt that Angstadt’s got the job nailed, two little slips of the often-loose Mayoral tongue offer further proof. On Monday Mayor Tom Bates let slip that he’d met Angstadt, though only for “a couple of minutes’. Then at the Tuesday special council meeting the mayor spoke approvingly of “our new planning director. ” And it’s not a done deal? -more-
Here's a terrific story from Berkeley-based California Watch which shows how the University of California has been cheerfully constructing away, with no real plan for how to pay for staffing the many new buildings named after donors. -more-
Police action in Berkeley has been the subject of much discussion of late. There were problematic police responses to phonecalls (directly impacting Peter Cukor's murder in the Berkeley hills Feb. 18), two different apologies by the police chief, a degree of outrage or at least concern by Berkeleyans, a special community meeting to vet the issues, direct police pressure on a reporter at that meeting to report only what would be agreeable to the police chief, a further apology by the chief for that pressure, and a public statement made by some Berkeley police officers dissociating themselves from the chief's action with respect to the reporter (SFChron, March 12, 2012), claiming it could damage their relation of trust with the community. -more-
I used to live in a food desert, in the Temescal district of Oakland. I remember wandering the aisles of our local liquor-grocery store when I was young, searching for something I considered edible—something whose earthly origin I could at least recognize. I was always shocked to find that among the Corn Nuts, Doritos and Hostess Cakes, there was nothing resembling the beautiful vegetables that my Mom always brought back from her weekly trip to the Berkeley farmer’s market. Today, our gentrified neighborhood has abundant options for purchasing fresh food, like the weekly farmers’ market and the organic produce store on our corner. But I remember what it was like before, and I know that 23.5 million Americans continue to live without this kind of choice. 8% of the US lives in a food desert: a low-income area where a source of fresh foods is not available. -more-
Editor's Note: Twenty years ago, journalist and historians Ruth Rosen, then a professor at U.C Davis and a columnist on the op-ed page of the Los Angeles Times, anticipated the public and state's unwillingness to stop the decline of the University of California. We reprint this to remind our readers that the gradual free fall of education in California has a long history.
Californians can no longer assume that their children can aspire to attend one of our public universities. In the next few weeks, legislators and administrators, faced with the state's whopping budget crisis, plan to raise student fees, chop departments, slice budgets and fire hundreds of faculty. Before long, access to California’s public universities will be sharply limited and higher education will become a privilege for the few. -more-
Insect metamorphosis is a strange and stirring phenomenon. Complex metamorphosis, that is, the process as it occurs in beetles, butterflies, bees, and flies. Whereas grasshoppers, say, just get larger at each successive molt, a moth completely reorganizes itself at every life stage. Gross anatomy, internal organs, physiological processes—everything changes when it transforms from larva to pupa, and again from pupa to adult. -more-
Antipsychotic and other types of medications, when used to help people get well, are moderately good things. Before these medications existed, countless mentally ill persons spent a lifetime literally being chained up, and had nothing added to them to hold their horrific disease in check. If not chained up in an asylum, persons with severe mental illness often became the “town idiot” or the “town drunkard.” It isn’t accurate to claim that mental illnesses didn’t exist prior to the invention of the medications. They did exist, and they who suffered from them had a very sorry lot in life. -more-
Someone has pinched the heart of St. Lawrence O’Toole, and thereby hangs a typical Irish tale filled with metaphors, parallels, and some pretty serious weirdness. -more-
In 1976 Margaret Elliot Murdock was interviewed about her father, printer Charles Albert Murdock (1841-1928), and early San Francisco and UC, B days for the Bancroft Library oral history program. From her responses, I have gleaned herstory. Part 1 (last week’s column) was mainly about her San Francisco childhood. Part 2 takes her to Berkeley and the University, and Part 3 (next week’s column) to the Sather Tower bells. -more-
Arts & Events
Produced by PianoFight, OCTOPUS’S GARDEN by Scott Herman premiered Saturday at 414 Mason Street near Geary.
It is a domestic drama of the conflicts of a lesbian couple in choosing the sperm donor for their planned pregnancy. Told in reverse chronology, it has some very talented actors. However, the writing is mundane; it contains a few amusing moments of situational tension that evoke laughter, but it is the actors who carry the show by the easy believability of their performance and the emotional connections between them. -more-