Press Release: BatesGate: Mayor’s Mistakes Censor Free Speech (UPDATED)

From the Office of Councilmember Kriss Worthington
Thursday July 12, 2012 - 01:20:00 PM

(Berkeley) – After sixty (60) residents testified and sang in opposition, Mayor Tom Bates forced a vote on the Anti-sitting ordinance without debate from council. The next day, there was a press conference where members of the public and City Council stated what they would have said if the Mayor had not stopped them from speaking. See list of Mayor’s mistakes below.


Press Release: Downtown Berkeley Association Inaugurates New "Musician's Corner" in BART Plaza

From Shifra de Benedictis-Kessner
Thursday July 12, 2012 - 11:02:00 AM

(On Friday, July 13, 2012, The Downtown Berkeley Association is inaugurating the Downtown Berkeley Musician's Corner, a community performance area for acoustic music in BART Plaza. The Musician's Corner will showcase the rich and diverse musical cultures in Berkeley with performances by both established and emerging local musicians in the heart of Downtown Berkeley. A space dedicated to enhancing the vitality and welcoming environment in Downtown Berkeley, the Musician's Corner will engage the community and reinforce the role of the plaza as important public space serving the surrounding residential, retail and office communities. Many of the daily 11,000 BART riders and Downtown pedestrians will enjoy this cultural gathering spot with performances by both established and emerging local musicians, and linger and explore the surrounding shops, restaurants and award-winning cultural venues. -more-

New: Fire Causes Power Outage for Berkeley, BART

By Scott Morris (BCN)
Wednesday July 11, 2012 - 11:02:00 AM

A power outage that left over 7,000 PG&E customers in Berkeley without power and closed the downtown BART station last night was caused by an underground fire, officials said. -more-

New: Compassionate Sidewalks Plan

By Councilmember Jesse Arreguin
Tuesday July 10, 2012 - 04:50:00 PM


New: VIDEO: SCOTUS ACA Health Care Decision Panel at U.C. Berkeley

Monday July 09, 2012 - 10:53:00 PM

If you happened to miss this juicy panel at UC Berkeley dissecting the U.S. Supreme Court's decision on health care, watch it here. Via Brad DeLong, here's the schedule of distinguished speakers.

John Ellwood: 00:55 Jesse Choper: 15:00 Steve Shortell: 30:30 Brad DeLong: 45:50 Ann O'Leary: 55:30 Ann Marie Marciarille: 1:07:33 General Questions: 1:19:40 -more-

New: ACLU Opposes Anti-Sitting Measure: Letter to the Berkeley City Council

By Alan Schlosser, Legal Director
Monday July 09, 2012 - 06:19:00 PM

I am writing on behalf of the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California (ACLU). Today the Berkeley City Council will be presented with an anti-sitting ballot measure proposal. The ACLU opposes this measure as an infringement of civil rights and civil liberties. and calls on the members of the Council to reject it.

There are already numerous ordinances in the Berkeley Municipal Code that give the police power to confront people who are engaged in disruptive street behavior. There are ordinances prohibiting the obstruction of sidewalks and entrances to buildings (BMC §13.36.0I0; BMC §13.36.020), the solicitation of illegal drugs (BMC §13.36.090),and aggressive panhandling CBMC §13.37.020). The presence of all of these laws against the activities that are actually disruptive calls into question the need for, and purpose of, a law against sitting. It may be that the presence of a panhandler sitting on the sidewalk upsets some people in the business community, who feel it adversely affects their business. But that is not a constitutionally permissible reason to use the police power of the state to get certain people out of sight. Just as the vagrancy laws in the Depression were ultimately found to be a constitutional affront, Papachristou v. City of Jacksonville, 405 U.S. 15G (1972), so laws that make the innocent act of sitting a crime are a mean-spirited and constitutionally questionable response to today's challenging economic climate. -more-

Press Release: Arreguín to Offer Alternative to Sit-Lie Ordinance

From Anthony Sanches
Monday July 09, 2012 - 05:14:00 PM

Where: Steps of Old City Hall, 2134 Martin Luther King Jr Way, Berkeley, CA

When: Tuesday, July 10th, 2012 at 6:30pm

As Berkeley City Council considers moving forward with the contentious Sit-Lie ordinance dubbed “Civil Sidewalks,” they may have an alternative to bridge the political divide that has widened after weeks of heated debate.

After exhaustive research and consulting with stakeholders, Councilmember Arreguin will be introducing his comprehensive report and Compassionate Sidewalks proposal tomorrow at City Council with hopes that it would head off an expensive ballot measure. -more-


By John Curl
Friday July 06, 2012 - 12:47:00 PM

Copyright © 2012 by John Curl. All rights reserved.

This is the fourth 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. This excerpt discusses his campaign funding, lobbyists, and his own laziness. You can also download a Full PDF. of the entire article.

To fund his career in the Assembly, Bates cobbled together sources that coincided as much as possible with his areas of involvement and concern: “in the end it was primarily union money and some interest groups.” He favored areas where there were few political downsides. Environmental groups, consumer protection, civil liberties, and women’s rights were easy, particularly in Berkeley. Public employees unions brought large numbers of feet to his campaign mobilizations. His supporters included the trial lawyers and the highway patrol. “Some people give money just because they want to have access.” He worked out a somewhat mechanistic paper-rock-scissors hierarchy of issues. “If I run into a conflict between environment and, say, labor, I would choose the environment.” He generally supported whatever organized labor supported, particularly government unions, but apparently more because he needed them as backers than because he believed in the cause. “There was occasion when I thought that maybe I should vote with the employer. But it would have to be a pretty strong case for me to switch because it’s like, Why am I alienating my friends unnecessarily? I mean, if it’s real important, I would switch.” -more-

Berkeley: City, UC Leaders Say They Don't Want Armored Vehicle

By Jeff Shuttleworth (BCN)
Friday July 06, 2012 - 10:30:00 AM

The cities of Berkeley and Albany and the University of California at Berkeley said Thursday that they will no longer seek a federal grant of more than $160,000 to buy an armored vehicle. The police agencies of all three public entities recently banded together to seek a grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for an armored vehicle that they would share and would be housed at the UC Berkeley campus. But the proposal came under scrutiny at two Berkeley City Council meetings in late June at which council members said they wanted more information about the vehicle. -more-

New: Pro-Tenant Slate Chosen for Berkeley Rent Board

Tuesday July 10, 2012 - 10:05:00 AM

According to the official website of the Berkeley Rent Board convention, which took place on Sunday, four official candidates were selected in a close vote: -more-

Press Release: Caltrans to Spend the Summer Re-Paving Ashby/Tunnel in Berkeley

From Caltrans
Friday July 06, 2012 - 10:15:00 PM

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will begin a construction project which involves resurfacing State Route (SR)-13/Ashby Avenue, from Hiller Drive west to San Pablo Avenue, in the City of Berkeley. -more-

Berkeley's Fiery 4th and More

By Ted Friedman
Friday July 06, 2012 - 11:35:00 AM
Hats off; hand on heart in Lamorinda July 4th

While covering the 4th in Orinda, we learned that Orinda, Moraga, and Lafayette have informally merged into Lamorinda. The three bedroom communities, which, in recent years have tried to establish town centers may now have decided there's strength in merging, but the merge is just a demographic construct.

On July 4, the three burgs spoke as one.

What did they say? That people love tanks and U.S. flags, honor their war veterans, and remove their hats and cover their hearts over "the Star-Spangled Banner." Their three-town fete offered a community directory to the soul of a chunk of conservative Contra Costa County.

Parade spectators and participants wore their flags on their sleeves, while baring their souls.

Spawned by a half century of "white flight" to the burbs, Lamorinda flaunted its civic clubs, schools, and veterans groups.

Five hundred Lamorindians cheered the 10 a.m. parade. Too early for Berkeleyans?

Back in Berkeley, we watched a murky day threaten the view of fireworks at the Berkeley Marina. Past haze over the bay has deterred some Berkeleyans from the fiery spectacle by the bay. Berkeleyans may have been deterred, as well, by pushy crowds. -more-

Richmond Does July 3rd Right

By Steven Finacom
Friday July 06, 2012 - 11:25:00 AM
The cavernous interior of the Craneway event center once housed a Model A production line, then tank and jeep assembly during World War II.

The July 3rd fireworks in Richmond this year were indeed a nice occasion.

July 3? The City of Richmond has had the happy thought of not directly competing with other local municipal celebrations—especially the extravaganza off San Francisco’s Embarcadero—but staging fireworks on what might be called Independence Day Eve.

It provides a pleasant diversion before a one-day holiday, and if you’re really a fireworks fanatic you can go twice—to Richmond on the 3rd, then somewhere else on the 4th

Over the years we’ve watched the Richmond fireworks from the home of friends in Marina Bay, from the Marina Bay Park at the waterfront, and from Point Isabel Regional Shoreline.

This year, other friends suggested going to the Craneway celebration. What’s that? It turns out to be an indoor concert by the Oakland East Bay Symphony, and other groups, followed by spectacular viewing of the fireworks.

And it’s free. -more-