The Week

Thursday alongside Berkeley Public Library on Shattuck. What looks like a "demonstration" is just the street tramp gear taken topside to avoid water hoses.
Ted Friedman
Thursday alongside Berkeley Public Library on Shattuck. What looks like a "demonstration" is just the street tramp gear taken topside to avoid water hoses.


UC Berkeley's Police Review Board is Disturbed by Use of Batons

By Jeff Shuttleworth (BCN)
Wednesday June 06, 2012 - 05:58:00 PM

The University of California at Berkeley's police review board says in a report issued today that it's "disturbed" by officers' use of batons against protesters at an "Occupy Cal" demonstration last Nov. 9.

Officers used batons when they cracked down on an encampment in front of Sproul Hall.

The report says the five members of the board disagree on the number of instances in which the conduct by campus police was "inconsistent with campus norms."

But it says, "We are in agreement that specific campus processes and procedures in the future must be in place to make it clear to the entire campus community when those norms may be crossed."

The report adds that, "Strictly confined limits, as precise as possible, should be articulated regarding the use of force by law enforcement during any protest events." -more-

Press Release: McCormick Challenges Incumbent in 2012 Berkeley Mayoral Race

From Jacquelyn McCormick
Monday June 04, 2012 - 02:34:00 PM

Official paperwork was filed today in Berkeley’s City Clerk’s office by Jacquelyn McCormick. She is poised to challenge 10-year incumbent, Tom Bates, in Berkeley’s 2012 Mayor Election. McCormick is a small business owner and active community organizer. She is spokesperson for citizen and neighborhood issues and has a broad understanding of city problems as founder and ongoing contributor to the website -more-

New: NIMBY Geese Protest West Berkeley Development (News Analysis)

By Toni Mester
Monday June 04, 2012 - 11:21:00 AM
Canada Geese occupy Aquatic Park

A gaggle of Canada geese has occupied the north end of Aquatic Park in a growing protest against the West Berkeley Project and its flawed EIR, which claims that bird habitats are concentrated at the south end of the park.

The human inhabitants of West Berkeley are also concerned and have turned out in the hundreds for City Council public hearings that began May 1 and continued for three weeks, the large majority of speakers opposed to zoning changes west of San Pablo Avenue including Aquatic Park. Many complained about a top-down process that ignored their concerns. The next public hearing is scheduled for June 12.

The definition of habitat, according to Mike Lynes, conservation director of Golden Gate Audubon, is “anywhere the birds are,” and the threat of increased distress brought by large development on the north end of the lagoon has ruffled the feathers of the diving ducks and more than 70 other avian species found at the park.

The Canada geese (Branta Canadensis), usually visit in winter but are staying on this year, which worries the leadership of Ducks United because the geese, who poop worse than seagulls, are considered the black bloc of the occupy Aquatic Park movement, giving birds a bad rep.

Glaring Errors and Omissions

As a result of Audubon’s EIR comments, bird-safe building standards have appeared in the mitigations monitoring program of the revised master use permits ordinance that will get a public hearing on June 12. -more-

Hang Onto Your Seats – Berkeley Anti-Sitting Law on the Way

By Carol Denney
Friday June 01, 2012 - 12:34:00 PM

San Francisco is mulling over a recent report by the City Hall Fellows stating that San Francisco’s sit/lie ordinance serves primarily as a means to harass the city’s aging homeless population.[i] But that hasn’t diminished Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates’ enthusiasm for an anti-sitting law.

June 12th’s Berkeley City Council agenda is currently slated to include ballot language for an anti-sitting law which Bates is banking that Berkeley’s panhandler-weary public will pass to “improve the attractiveness and welcoming nature”[ii] of commercial districts. -more-

Shifting Downtown Scene Moves South

By Ted Friedman
Friday June 01, 2012 - 07:24:00 AM

At first, the scene Thursday looked like a demonstration, and one of the "demonstrators" said it was, but it turned out to be a "Block by Block" cleanup. -more-

Hard Luck Berkeley Police Chief Trying to Keep Head Above Water (News Analysis)

By Ted Friedman
Thursday May 31, 2012 - 04:26:00 PM
"Authorized Personnel Only" behind these doors. If only we could get a foot in the door.

These are hard-luck times for Berkeley Police Chief Michael K. Meehan completing his second year as Berkeley's top cop, and trying to keep his head "above water," or as he has described it, trying to stay ahead of the "media curve." -more-

Transit of Venus to Bring Viewers Out at Sites across the Bay Area

By Dan McMenamin, Bay City News Service
Tuesday June 05, 2012 - 09:56:00 AM

Amateur astronomers across the Bay Area will keep their eyes on the skies Tuesday to see a rare astronomical event -- the passing of the planet Venus in front of the sun.

During the so-called "transit of Venus," which is similar to a solar eclipse by the moon, the planet passes directly between the sun and Earth and becomes visible as a small dot drifting across the sun.

Several sites around the Bay are inviting the public to see the transit for what will likely be the last time in their lives. The rare event occurs in pairs, most recently in 2004, and will not be seen again from Earth until December 2117.

The Chabot Space and Science Center in Oakland and Lawrence Hall of Science in Berkeley are hosting events to mark the transit of Venus. -more-

New: Correct This: Journalistic Mistakes in an Age of Corrections

By Ted Friedman
Thursday June 07, 2012 - 03:57:00 PM
"To err is human, to forgive divine"--Alexander Pope.

The New York Times, possibly the best edited rag in the world averages nearly 3,000 errors a year, based on multiplying the average number of daily errors they admit by days in the year, although this will probably call for a correction, or as my editor at the Berkeley Daily Planet calls corrections, "quibbles." -more-

The Shop at CIL Fills a Need in the Disability Community

By Lydia Gans
Friday June 01, 2012 - 07:45:00 AM

When the Center for Independent Living (CIL) moved into the Ed Roberts Campus several years ago the building at 2539 Telegraph Avenue was temporarily abandoned. But since the beginning of this year it has been coming back to life. The front along the street has offices of various non profit organizations and the vast space in the rest of the building is reconstituted as THE SHOP at CIL. It contains facilities for wheelchair and scooter repair and a program for recycling every kind of assistive technology. It promises to provide convenient, accessible services and equipment for people with disabilities. They celebrated its official grand opening this month with Mayor Bates cutting the blue ribbon. -more-

Travel: All the World’s a Stage in Ashland and Portland

By Ted Friedman
Thursday May 31, 2012 - 04:26:00 PM

All the world’s a stage said Shakespeare, and that would include Ashland, Oregon, home of America’s most famous Shakespeare festival as well as Portland’s Hillsdale district, which is only famous in a shakespearian sense, although it does have its own Sunset Boulevard, site of a stand-off between old-timers and newbies. -more-



Once Again, Candidate Bates Blames Berkeley's Problems on the Homeless

By Becky O'Malley
Friday June 01, 2012 - 12:08:00 PM

Well, it’s Groundhog Day again in Berkeley. Just like in the wake up in the morning and they’re at it again, doing the same-old same-old…and my, does it get tiresome!

One more time, as the going gets tough, Tom Bates gets going—getting tough on the hapless homeless. As I’ve said too many times in this space, I still have in my garage a sign I swiped off a lawn somewhere that says “Assemblyman Tom Bates Supports Measures N &O”—which were a pair of initiatives cooked up by Bates and his wife the Mayor two decades ago to restrict panhandlers’ right to ask for money on the street. They were duly passed by Berkeley’s not-really-all-that-progressive electorate, but were later—at enormous legal cost to the city—thrown out by a federal judge for violating the First Amendment.

But now Bates is running for office—yet again, still at it even though he’s long past his pull date. So once again his PR apparatus, which operates at public expense out of his City Hall office, has planted single-source stories in several places which all show Bates Getting Tough on Ugly People on the Street.

In case you’re interested in three similar takes on the official version of Bates' new proposal to put an anti-sitting initiative on the November ballot, Doug Oakley’s got a report in the San Jose Mercury News, Lance Knobel has another one on the Berkeleyside site, and there’s one on the Patch site,

Needless to say, no one contacted the Planet about this proposal except several outraged homeless advocates. -more-

The Editor's Back Fence

One Response to the Bates Anti-Sitting Initiative

By Becky O'Malley
Saturday June 02, 2012 - 10:08:00 AM

An East Coast friend who often visits the Bay Area writes in response to this week's coverage of the mayor's latest anti-sitting campaign:

"Becky, as I get older I become more aware of the need for places to sit down on public streets without arousing suspicions I'm homeless. Not only should we be allowed to sit down -- we should have more benches to sit on. Maybe you can work that idea into an editorial. I guess the idea here is that sitting down on public streets should be perfectly respectable. (Or does the ordinance just prohibit extending your hands as you sit down?)

I expect Berkeley's population is aging.....And how can you have a pedestrian friendly city if people can't sit down if they need to?"
She's got a point—and guess what? I did work it into an editorial, more than a year ago.

But evidently the Berkeley City Council, aging themselves as aren't we all, doesn't remember that. So here it is again: -more-


Odd Bodkins: God Bless The Bomb (Cartoon)

By Dan O'Neill
Friday June 01, 2012 - 08:57:00 AM

Public Comment

Berkeley Anti-Sitting Ballor Measure Expensive, Unnecessary

By Paul Kealoha-Blake
Tuesday June 05, 2012 - 10:28:00 AM

I write urging you to speak against the Civil Sidewalks Ballot Measure

I enclose current reports and articles on the potential costs and consequences facing the Sit/Lie Ordinance which our Berkeley effort is modeling itself after.

2010 ‘sit-lie’ law could cost city thousands to jail repeat offenders

San Francisco's Sit/Lie Law Radically Ineffective, Report

As a Downtown property and business owner (East Bay Media Center 1939 Addison Street) I find the Sit/Lie effort to be both an economic and social travesty only awaiting the pull of an administrative trigger. -more-

Numbers of Complaints Against Police Not the Whole Story

By Carol Denney
Thursday May 31, 2012 - 04:04:00 PM

“I get very few complaints,” Chanin said. “The officers I’ve met do a good job.” - Berkeley Patch story by Rebecca Rosen Lum cited in the Berkeley Daily Planet.

Those who cite fewer complaints as proof that the Berkeley police are less brutal or corrupt manage to forget the impact state constraints have had on what was once a public and robust complaint system. People who use the current system not only end up without any justice, they become police targets with little recourse when the officers about whom they complained retaliate. -more-

The Berkeley City Council's Vote on the City Manager Position

By Victoria Peirotes
Thursday May 31, 2012 - 02:58:00 PM


At the May 29, 2012 the Berkeley City Council voted to name Ms. Christine Daniel to the permanent position of Berkeley City Manager. In the eyes of many this action was premature and in many ways irresponsible. The position of City Manager is the most powerful one within the City hierarchy. Consequently when this position becomes "open", which is rare, great care should be taken in the selection process. In this case, no care at all was taken and there was no selection process. The following letter addressed to council prior to their vote makes abundantly clear why the nomination should have been postponed. -more-

New: Berkeley City Council Desperately Dialing for Tax Dollars: Homeowners Beware

By Barbara Gilbert
Tuesday June 05, 2012 - 09:28:00 AM

At a cost of $52,000, the City of Berkeley commissioned two professional polls that probed for tax-susceptible weak points in the body politic. The results were starkly clear—only one of the potential tax measures explored had majority voter support and none garnered the required two-thirds majority. With the presentation of additional favorable background information, only one target area even had the vaguest potential to reach the two-thirds voter threshold—a measure directed to streets and watershed infrastructure improvements.

For details see

Despite these results, the Council once again succumbed to the relentless pools lobby and is now working on: a $30M bond for streets/watershed; a $20M bond to build a warm water pool and make pool improvements at Willard and King; and a $1M parcel tax to pay for ongoing annual pool maintenance. The pools measures, even with enhanced favorable information and no opposing arguments presented (as will happen in an election), according to the pollster experts still fell short of the two-thirds requirement by about 7%. -more-

Sunshine/Open Government Ordinance Incorrectly Labeled

By Martha Nicoloff, Co-author Neighborhood Preservation Ordinance
Thursday May 31, 2012 - 03:51:00 PM

On Tuesday night's Berkeley City Council agenda, item #38 had a clearly identified title for an initiative being voted on in November.

For the Council's convenience in identifying, issue #38 was titled the "Sunshine" initiative. I find it more than curious that they did not extend the same information, as a courtesy, to the voter in the November ballot title. The language to be included on the ballot has a title that does not refer to "Sunshine" or "Open Government". As we gathered signatures of well over three thousand Berkeley voters, we always had posters and leaflets that said "Sunshine/Open Government". They read them and knew exactly what they were approving when they attached their signatures to the petitions. -more-

Pass Prop. 29

By Carol Denney
Monday June 04, 2012 - 01:03:00 PM

Harry Brill is just flat-out wrong. Proposition 29 is not regressive – it only affects smokers, and research shows there is no better way to stop kids from taking up smoking and help adults quit. -more-

June Pepper Spray Times

By Grace Underpressure
Friday June 01, 2012 - 09:20:00 AM

Editor's Note: The latest issue of the Pepper Spray Times is now available.

You can view it absolutely free of charge by clicking here . You can print it out to give to your friends.

Grace Underpressure has been producing it for many years now, even before the Berkeley Daily Planet started distributing it, most of the time without being paid, and now we'd like you to show your appreciation by using the button below to send her money. -more-

Vote Against Proposition 29

By Harry Brill
Thursday May 31, 2012 - 04:04:00 PM

Those who are concerned about the ill effects of smoking should realize that there are far better ways of discouraging the habit than voting yes on Measure 29, which is a punitive, regressive cigarette tax on the poor. Obviously, middle class smokers won't be deterred by the extra cost. Schools as well as many good willed non-profit organizations could develop effective programs to educate and work with smokers to break this dangerous habit. A positive community approach is always far better than attempting to solve a problem with a punitive, regressive tax. Also, laws should be passed that appreciably limit the kind of advertising that the cigarette companies spend millions of dollars on. Their advertisements are dishonest and misleading. -more-


ECLECTIC RANT: US Government Continues to Neglect Returning War Veterans

By Ralph E. Stone
Friday June 01, 2012 - 07:27:00 AM

On Monday, the nation observed Memorial Day, an annual federal holiday observed in the United States on the last Monday of May. Memorial Day is a day to remember the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. I am a Vietnam veteran who luckily survived my tour with both mind and body intact. But on this day of remembrance for the dead, shouldn’t we also remember the veterans living among us in poverty, homelessness, and suffering from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a condition that has led to an upswing in suicide rates? -more-

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Delivering Pizza While Mentally Ill and Medicated

By Jack Bragen
Thursday May 31, 2012 - 04:11:00 PM

In 1988, I was in a difficult position. I was twenty-four years old. I was facing impending eviction by my parents. My parents had suggested that I needed to either get a job or get SSI. Meanwhile, the house I lived in was being sold, per the terms of my parents' prior divorce. In my despair, I decided to try a pizza delivery job, not knowing if I would be able to handle such a job, but acting from limited options. -more-


By Helen Rippier Wheeler
Thursday May 31, 2012 - 02:55:00 PM

Is religion a significant part of senior citizens’ lives. And of senior power? Are most old people religious? Depends on what you mean by “religion” and “religious.” -more-

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

By Dorothy Bryant
Thursday May 31, 2012 - 04:19:00 PM

“Biographies of writers, whether written by themselves or by others, are always superfluous and usually in bad taste.” -more-

Arts & Events

New: Berkeley Library Now Offers Free Museum Passes

By Dorothy Snodgrass
Saturday June 02, 2012 - 02:36:00 PM

Never let it be said that Berkeley and the Bay Area lack attractive venues offering outstanding cultural events -- galleries, museum, art institutes, etc. Starting June 1st, library patrons now have access to free passes to more than 30 area cultural venues. For Berkeley Public Library cardholders, free passes to museums are just a few clicks away. Starting from the Library's website (http:/, patrons can access the DISCOVER AND GO link using their Library card number. From there, it's easy to locate available passes, searching by location or by date. Then reserve, print and go! -more-