Berkeley Man Sentenced to 15 Years for Marijuana Conspiracy, Gun Possession

By Julia Cheever, BCN
Wednesday June 27, 2012 - 02:53:00 PM

A Berkeley man has been sentenced in federal court in San Francisco to 15 years in prison for leading a conspiracy to cultivate marijuana in East Bay grow houses. -more-

Press Release: Berkeley Rent Board Chair Responds to Civil Grand Jury Report

By Lisa Stephens, Chairperson, Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board
Monday June 25, 2012 - 10:22:00 PM

[EDITOR'S NOTE: A more detailed response to the Grand Jury's review of the Berkeley Rent stabilization board, along with supporting documents including the full report, can be found here in PDF format.]

The Alameda County Civil Grand Jury has just completed a review of the Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board’s budget, fees and personnel procedures and issued a Final Report. From the outset of its inquiry, we offered our full cooperation and provided extensive written documentation to support our oral testimony.

Civil Grand Juries can perform a vital role in our modern democracy by reviewing the activities of public agencies and acting as “watchdog” to ensure that those agencies are not abusing the public’s trust. We would have welcomed a critical, fact-based analysis of the Rent Board’s charge under the City Charter: the administration of the Rent Stabilization and Eviction for Good Cause Ordinance. Unfortunately, this Grand Jury missed such an opportunity. Instead, it has issued a report that ignored significant evidence substantiating the effective enforcement and reasonableness of the administration of Berkeley’s rent and eviction laws, choosing to mask a disagreement about what type of rent control law Berkeley should have under the guise of criticism of administrative issues. Even more troubling for a report from a public body is the reliance on inaccuracies, innuendo and “perceived” problems, to give a veneer of plausibility to its conclusions. -more-

Flash: Main Berkeley Post Office
Scheduled to be Sold

BY Steven Finacom
Monday June 25, 2012 - 04:09:00 PM

Berkeley’s civic downtown is about to be dealt a body blow if plans by the Postal Service to sell the Main Post Office at 2000 Allston Way go through.

The stately building, completed in 1915, is now scheduled to be closed and sold as surplus property.

Augustine Ruiz, a regional spokesperson for the Postal Service confirmed today, in response to an inquiry from the Planet, ”we are in the process of selling the post office. All carrier operations and Bulk Mail operations will move to the Berkeley Destination Delivery Unit (DDU) located at 1150 8th Street.” -more-

Tom Bates and the Secret Government of Berkeley: Excerpt 2

By John Curl
Friday June 22, 2012 - 03:45:00 PM

Copyright © 2012 by John Curl. All rights reserved.

This is the second in a series of excerpts from John Curl’s long article about Mayor Bates and his effects on the city. The article follows Bates and the progressive movement in city government from its beginnings to today, based on extensive quotes from Bates’ own oral history and interviews with other players in the political events. In this excerpt Bates talks about Rent Stabilization, low-income housing, the homeless, and his role in the change to district elections. You can also download a Full PDF. of the entire article.

Tom Bates’ relationship to the issue of rent stabilization was always reluctant, guarded, and iffy. Although publicly he supported Berkeley rent control, behind the scenes it was a different story. “But rent control is an issue that—it was like a no-win position for me… In retrospect, I came out of the base which supported rent control. The people voted for it, but it was never, particularly, any good issue for me because it was—I mean, I had to defend it in the state legislature. Albeit, my wife was mayor, and, I mean, I had ties with people who supported it, supported rent control. So I wasn’t about to break that. And so, I ended up having to fight fights that I didn’t really choose to fight. And from a political-aspiration point of view, when I looked at one time to running for other offices, it was like a death knell… so it was not a good issue for me politically. In fact, that was—well, we used to say that was our baggage; our luggage was that rent control that we had to carry around with us… It wasn’t like I would fall on my sword for this issue. It was something that sort of like came with the territory. And particularly with my affiliations and association; I mean, it was like, if I would have changed my view on rent control and done something like [State Senator Nicholas C.] Petris did—he switched; it was like, people were shocked that he would do this, that he would make this change, and he had sold out and all this other stuff. So it was very hard; people were just like a litmus test. Death penalty, abortions, rent control. You know what I mean? Dogs off leash. There are some issues you can’t win on, right? This was one of those.” -more-

Berkeley Fire Victim Identified

By Jeff Shuttleworth and Scott Morris (BCN)
Friday June 22, 2012 - 02:56:00 PM

A woman who died in a fire at a multi-unit Berkeley home this Thursday has been identified as 26-year-old Meredith Ann Joyce, according to the Alameda County coroner's bureau. -more-

Two Wheel Tripping Berkeley--the Great Rides

By Ted Friedman
Friday June 22, 2012 - 02:58:00 PM
Thigamajig statue bridges aquatic Park to the Marina.

A Day In The Saddle, Skirting San Francisco Bay.

Off my training, I set off for the Berkeley Marina on my 26-28 lb. mixte. I have always considered cycling the marina a poor alternative to cycling Berkeley's thrill-hills. -more-

Chris Norton 1950-2012

By Mary Maloney
Monday June 25, 2012 - 04:47:00 PM

Chris Norton died on Friday, June 22, 2012 at his home in Sebastopol, surrounded by loving family and friends. Born June 5, 1950 in Manhattan, New York, to Sylvia Staudt Norton and Charles Norton, Chris was a proud graduate of Stuyvesant High School in New York, attended Amherst College and then moved to Northern California in the 1970's, drawn by the political climate and activism. In 1981 he attended the National Autonomous University in Mexico City where he studied Spanish, history and political economy. He graduated with honors from the University of California, Berkeley with a degree in Central American Studies in 1983, writing his senior thesis on the rise and fall of General Rios Montt (Guatemala). In 1981, he won the University Presidential Grant to conduct independent research in Central America. -more-

Mary Struve 1926-2012

Friday June 22, 2012 - 01:23:00 PM
Mary Struve 1926-2012

Mary Struve, a longtime resident of Berkeley, California, died in her sleep on June 17, 2012, in Santa Clara, California. Mary was born Mary Kriger in 1926 in Los Angeles, the daughter of Simon Kriger and Sarah Kerr, but grew up first in the Russian emigre community in Harbin, China and then in the French Concession of Shanghai, where she attended the Public School for Girls. Her family came to the United States in 1938, where Mary graduated from Central High School in Washington, DC, in 1943. -more-