The city of Berkeley is falling apart. Deferred maintenance on the town’s deteriorating infrastructure—streets, public pools, street lighting, parks, recreation facilities and community centers, storm drains, seismic retrofits of city buildings—has led to $523 million worth of identified, unfunded projects. Between March 14-19, likely Berkeley voters were polled over the phone about possible bond measures for the November ballot whose passage would go toward paying for the repairs. On April 3, the council viewed the sobering results : none of the proposed measures came close to the 67% required to pass new property taxes. Grasping for alternative sources of revenue, Mayor Tom Bates proposed that a follow-up poll ask about a “green tax” on petroleum and a “carbon fee” on natural gas in Berkeley. -more-
A suspect in the shooting death of a 24-year-old man in Berkeley on Thursday night was arraigned on a murder charge in Alameda County Superior Court today. -more-
Peter Douglas, who died on Sunday after a long battle with cancer, can be considered the Thomas Jefferson of the coastal protection movement. -more-
New: Housing Authority Asks Berkeley City Council for $400,000 to Privatize 75 Public Housing Units--Vote at Tuesday Meeting
The Berkeley Housing Authority (BHA) is asking for $400,000 in what are being called "predevelopment costs," to privatize and sell Berkeley's 75 public housing town-homes, to billionaire's Jorge M. Perez and Stephen M. Ross, of the Related Companies of California, LLC, (a.k.a. Berkeley 75 Housing Partners, L.P.). -more-
One person has been arrested in connection to a Thursday night shooting that left one man dead in South Berkeley, a Berkeley police lieutenant said. -more-
A forum critical of UC Berkeley’s plans to ramp up genetic engineering research at a planned massive new second campus of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Richmond drew a capacity crowd to the David Brower Center Thursday night. -more-
Police Transcripts, Police Review Raise New Questions about Berkeley Police Response to Victim's Call for Help
Could Berkeley's Feb. 18 Park Hills murder have been prevented? -more-
Strawberry Creek Lodge (SCL), referred to locally as The Lodge or Strawberry, was built in 1962 at 1320 Addison Street in Berkeley, California. Its purpose was affordable rental housing for lower to middle income senior citizens. Three adjoining buildings in a park-like setting provide 150 units-- some are one-bedroom apartments, most are studios, all with bathrooms and kitchenettes. An elective, not-free evening meal is served. There is no longer a supermarket within walking distance.
Recently, the Berkeley Daily Planet received a message that “while Strawberry Creek Lodge is being refurbished it's causing lots of problems for the residents.” There have been health and disruption problems at SCL. “We are on pins and needles,” according to a former hospice patient. -more-
President Obama’s comment, just one among many such poignant statements, said it all: “If I had a son, he would have looked like Trayvon”. The news from Florida about a kid with a pack of Skittles in his hand being killed by a gun-toting vigilante was especially heartstopping for those of us who have children or grandchildren of African descent. I watched my granddaughter flick up the hood on her shocking pink rain slicker and flashed on all those dark-skinned boys pulling up their hoods against the rain as Trayvon did, and tempting fate in the form of fearful cowards with powerful weapons. -more-
In solidarity with a number of Occupations, as well as long-running protest group Bohemian Grove Action Network, the call for peaceful protests against The Bohemian Club this July in Monte Rio (CA) are hereby announced. Since Bohemian Grove is on private land, we respect those legal boundaries. Therefore, this communique only endorses peaceful, non-violent protests on the public land existing outside Bohemian Grove. -more-
“He’s got his hand in his waistband, and he’s a black male.”
— George Zimmerman to a 911 operator shortly before he fatally shot Trayvon Martin
When people ask why I do the work I do, sometimes I tell the truth — because I don’t want my brothers shot.
Until last month, my hesitation stemmed from fear that this answer sounded overly dramatic for someone who runs a nonprofit focused on helping the nation’s news media diversify its coverage.
Then Trayvon Martin was slain because a neighborhood watch volunteer thought he looked suspicious while walking back from a store after buying Skittles and an iced tea. -more-
A neighborhood group in Oakland contacted us, the anti-Smartmeter movement, to invite us to debate PGE on Smartmeters. They wanted to learn about Smartmeters, and had already contacted PGE. But they on their own also decided that they should hear both sides. I volunteered to take it on, and contacted the group spokesperson, a man I'll call Jack. Jack then contacted PGE, and they assigned someone, who I'll call Stan, to hold up PGE's side of the debate. The group (I'll call ONA, for Oakland neighborhood association) then hired a room in a restaurant in which to hold the event. The rent was $300. Originally PGE said they would pay for it, but when ONA set up the debate, they properly took on the costs, with PGE's blessing. -more-
An example of magical thinking is a gambling addict who has the belief he or she is going to hit the lucky number, win a million dollars and live happily ever after. Meanwhile that person is gambling away the food money and the rent money. Magical thinking of the previous President created the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan in the assumption that it would be a much easier and simpler enterprise than it turned out to be. (The U.S. military believed we could install a government in Iraq that is favorable to us, and Iraqi citizens would blithely allow themselves to be governed by it.) Magical thinking is responsible for gross errors in human behavior. It says that wanting something means you deserve it and will get it, in the absence of performing the necessary work. Magical thinkers falsely believe that God likes them better than other people. And they believe there will always be someone there to clean up their mess. -more-
On Feb. 26, 2012, Trayvon Martin, an unarmed teenager, was shot to death by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watchman captain. The teen was walking inside a gated community in Sanford, Florida, where his father and stepmother lived. Zimmerman claimed self-defense and was not arrested or charged and little or no investigation was conducted by the Sanford police department. -more-
My Commonplace Book (a diary of excerpts copied from printed books, with comments added by the reader.)
“ . . . the greatest writers inevitably demand too much of, and are failed by, readers.” -more-
My wife and I just returned from a visit to Puerto Rico. The temperatures were in the high 80s with very little humidity and no rain. We spent most of our time in old San Juan, but did take a 2-hour road trip across the island to Ponce, named after Juan Ponce de León y Loayza, the great-grandson of Spanish conquistador Juan Ponce de León.
During our visit, the GOP hopefuls, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum personally campaigned for Puerto Rico's 20 delegates. Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich did not personally campaign there. The vote was held on Sunday -- with no alcohol sales during voting -- and as has been reported, Romney won all 20 delegates to the national convention at stake.
Why would Romney and Santorum spend so much time for 20 delegates when the Illinois primary with 69 delegates at stake was just a few days away? Probably because to win the White House, the GOP candidate will have to win about 45 percent of the Hispanic vote. Obama won about 67 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2008. -more-
How many senior citizens does it take to fight their landlord in a light bulb?
A group of tenants is fighting their landlord’s online-only rent payment rule. Elderly renters in south Los Angeles’ Woodlake Manor apartment building are suing landlord Jones & Jones. They allege that its requirement could leave them vulnerable to eviction under the Woodland Hills company’s new requirement that they make all their payments online and that a "green" initiative introduced by the company is actually a pretense to evict low-income, elderly renters benefiting from rent-stabilization provisions. -more-
Arts & Events
In 1999, at the height of his success, a silver-tongued Prime Minister Tony Blair greeted the Labor Party Conference in Bournemouth with: “My friends! The class war is over!” For me—speaking as one who had viewed the upper echelon with a mixture of caution and envy—the class war ended while watching “Downton Abbey” on television. Something in me snapped. -more-
AROUND AND ABOUT FILM: 'Time Regained' in the Raul Ruiz 'Library Lover' Retrospective at the Pacific Film Archive
Watching 'Time Regained,' Raul Ruiz's 1999 adaptation of Proust's last book, onscreen at the PFA, over a decade after seeing it projected three times in a two year period, revealed again the density of the film in its engagement with Proust's vision—and with a contemporary audience. -more-