Opinion

Editorials

Perfect Harmony among Berkeley Citizens at Last Night's Watershed City Council Meeting

By Becky O'Malley
Wednesday July 11, 2012 - 02:03:00 PM

First, the disclaimer. This is an opinion, not a news report. A couple of the pro-bono reporters who often write for the Planet were at last night’s Berkeley City Council meeting, and they will probably submit reports. Also, there seemed to be a number of reporters from other media in attendance—there’s a good report in the Daily Cal already.

I myself went to the meeting as an advocate for civil liberties, something I’ve been for all of my adult life, from the age of 18 on (and by now there’s a lot of “on” there). When I first came to Berkeley in 1959, Fred Moore was sitting down in front of Hearst Gym to protest what was then mandatory ROTC for all male students, and I was hooked.

(Can you believe that in 1959 all male students at what we then called Cal were forced to undergo compulsory military training, no conscientious objection allowed? We have made a bit of progress since then.)

Fast forward to 2012. Sitting down: an insult to power in 1959, and still making trouble.

Now Berkeley’s formerly progressive Mayor, along with his openly conservative colleagues and a couple of formerly Prog wet noodles who must expect some favors from him, are trying to criminalize the simple act of sitting down on the sidewalk in Berkeley’s commercial districts.

The usual saints came marching in to tell the pols that passing a law to this effect would be…I heard the words illegal, irresponsible, and especially immoral. When they marched, I wanted to be in their number. -more-


No Justice, No Peace: Darryl Moore Appoints Gertz to Berkeley Commission

Wednesday July 11, 2012 - 02:20:00 PM

Just when you think you’ve heard everything about Berkeley politics, something else even more jaw-dropping happens. On the Fourth of July I got an email from a reader with the subject line “John [expletive deleted] Gertz!” (Though the expletive was not in fact deleted—I didn’t know Gmail allowed that.)

His news? Councilmember Darryl Moore has appointed John Gertz to Berkeley’s Peace and Justice Commission. John Gertz? What planet has Moore, who is running for re-election for heaven’s sake, been living on for the past seven or eight years?

John Gertz, in case any of our readers has forgotten, is one of the key co-conspirators in the campaign to shut down the Daily Planet, ably reported by Richard Brenneman in the paper in 2009. You can read the whole story from the archives here.

In case you weren’t around then, or you need to refresh your memory, here’s Richard’s lead: -more-


The Editor's Back Fence

John Gertz Caught on Camera

By Becky O'Malley
Friday July 06, 2012 - 12:23:00 PM

For another delicious view of John Gertz, check out today's blog entry from former Planet reporter Richard Brenneman. -more-


Chronicle Columnist Jon Carroll Helps the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce Raise Money

Thursday July 12, 2012 - 09:00:00 AM

One of the prizes at the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce's Friday the 13th fundraiser,

"~A 3 Course Dinner and Wine Pairing with SF Chronicle Columnist Jon Carroll and his wife Tracy Johnston, photographer and author"

We emailed Carroll, usually thought of as a liberal, suggesting that the Berkeley Chamber, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are well known for funding conservative political causes, and he might want to reconsider helping them raise money for more of the same.

His response: "Somebody asked; she seemed nice enough. Thanks for the insight."

His email address, for those who'd like to tell him what they think:

jcarroll@sfchronicle.com -more-


Cartoons

Odd Bodkins: The Funny Story (Cartoon)

By Dan O'Neill
Friday July 06, 2012 - 11:43:00 AM

Bounce: A prose is a prose is a ... (Cartoon)

By Joseph Young
Friday July 06, 2012 - 11:48:00 AM

Public Comment

New: Censorship in Berkeley: the Daily Cal and the Peace and Justice Commission

By Joanna Graham
Monday July 09, 2012 - 04:23:00 PM

This past spring, an energetic sales rep from the Daily Cal cold-called Rod Driver, a Rhode Island resident who had purchased ad space in the paper once or maybe twice before, during the divestment controversy of 2010. Driver, who runs (the small) Justice First Foundation, duly submitted an ad featuring material taken directly from the website of If Americans Knew, a nonprofit foundation run by journalist Alison Weir which is dedicated to media watchdogging and the dissemination of information about the Israel/Palestine conflict. Unfortunately the Daily Cal ran the ad incorrectly three times. On May 21 they finally ran a free, make-up corrected version. -more-


New: Please Stop Picking on John Gertz

By Paul Larudee
Monday July 09, 2012 - 04:29:00 PM

The appointment of John Gertz to the Berkeley Peace and Justice Commission corrects a gross inequity, just as the appointment of John Bolton as US Ambassador to the United Nations and Daniel Pipes to the U.S. Institute of Peace corrected inequities in those institutions. This is because these institutions have no counterpart. There is no Berkeley War and Injustice Commission, Divided Nations or U.S. Institute of War. As a result, there is no appropriate place to appoint such individuals. For that reason, the only alternative is to appoint them to the existing institutions. -more-


New: People’s Republic of Berkeley Now One-Party State (News Analysis)

by Randy Shaw
Monday July 09, 2012 - 04:49:00 PM

Editor's Note: This article by Randy Shaw, a Berkeley resident, first appeared on the San Francisco online site he edits, Beyond Chron,

Berkeley, California, a city whose local activism made headlines throughout the world, is now arguably the region’s least politically engaged city on local issues. Whereas activists in Oakland, Richmond and San Francisco run candidates and struggle for power, the onetime “People’s Republic of Berkeley” is now a one-party state. It has few contested elections, and incumbents serve until retirement. Despite persistent problem street behavior and declining retail activity along Telegraph, downtown Shattuck, and other core areas, 74-year old Mayor Tom Bates, in office since 2003, faces no serious challengers in November. Berkeley remains a city of great activism on state, national and international social justice issues, but the onetime leftist stronghold has the Bay Area’s most laissez-faire capitalist government, with developers and the University of California charting the city’s course.
-more-


City Council Plans Vote on Tuesday to Put MUP On November Ballot

From WEBAIC
Friday July 06, 2012 - 11:20:00 AM

After directing staff to return on July 10th with language to place the Master Use Permit section of the West Berkeley Project before the entire city on the November ballot, Council is set to vote on the issue this coming Tuesday. The MUP provisions in all their myriad detail will be on the ballot, but the simple, summary title of the measure (what most people will likely read) states: “Shall an ordinance adopting amendments to the West Berkeley Plan and the Zoning Ordinance to allow additional development flexibility and heights up to 75’ in some areas on a limited number of large sites in West Berkeley, conditioned on community benefits for West Berkeley such as Aquatic Park improvements, open space, affordable artist work space and employment programs and providing for further protections with respect to development adjacent to Aquatic Park, be adopted? YES or NO.”

By placing the MUP on the ballot, Council members supporting this action pre-empt a possible citizen referendum, assure the issue will be decided in the next 6 months, and are able to frame the issue, as seen in the above ballot description. As part of the same item on the 10th, Council will also vote on whether to adopt the MUP Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) and send the issues of Community Benefits, Aquatic Park MUP provisions, and MUP site aggregation back to the Planning Commission. The pdf with the full text of the MUP provisions being placed on the ballot can be downloaded here.

-more-


New: Banned in Berkeley on Berkeleyside

By Thomas Lord
Tuesday July 10, 2012 - 09:47:00 AM

I have been banned from commenting on the site Berkeleyside.com. Twice, actually. There I (formerly) wrote as "Bruce Love" and prior to that as "dasht".

I have gotten praise over the past couple of years from a few fans of my comments there and I have been told there are still more that appreciate my efforts. I am sorry to have to tell those people that I am forced to leave and not return to Berkeleyside. I am driven away for standing up to some of the obnoxious anonymous accounts that have haunted Berkeleyside.

With that in mind, I thank the Berkeley Daily Planet for giving me a chance to announce my second banning, and to explain my absence from berkeleyside.com. -more-


All Board the Stand Up for the Right to Sit Down Coalition!

by Carol Denney
Friday July 06, 2012 - 12:37:00 PM

Merchant window space is priceless. Shoppers need to see interesting and enticing items to buy, such as the puppies in the Macys window at holiday time. And political endorsements can backfire for a merchant, costing sales. Which is why it is so impressive that so many businesses have stepped out against the proposed “Civil Sidewalks” law, which would criminalize peaceful sidewalk sitting. -more-


New Media, Berkeley and the Wisconsin Recall

By Marc Sapir MD, MPH
Friday July 06, 2012 - 01:53:00 PM

I arrived home from the North Coast July 5 a year older than when I left last week to find in the accumulated mail the pro and con bills on the KPFA recall and the ballots for myself and my wife. My name is there as one of many against the recall. But what I find interesting in the often self-justifying drag downs at KPFA is how little in depth discussion there is about "why" this endless battle occurs. "Why" involves a deeper look at our ourselves, our nation and culture in crisis and without it we just bury ourselves in the personal idiocyncracies. Who believes the local fight is just about Pacifica or KPFA or local personalities? Not me. And certainly not those in the majority (6 of the past the past 7 years on the station board) if one pays attention to how they view politics today. They stake out a claim to a distinct politics--sometimes best represented by the Wellstone Democratic Renewal club's approach. But the fact that KPFA is based here, and that Berkeley has a particular history of political strangeness doesn't help get to clarity either. -more-


This Sunday, July 8, 1-3:30 pm at the Berkeley Public Library, Help Me Continue My Advocacy for a Berkeley We Can All Call Home

By Igor Tregub
Friday July 06, 2012 - 10:43:00 AM

I first ran for the Berkeley Rent Board because I felt that everyone in Berkeley deserves a safe, affordable, and habitable home. In my four years on the Rent Board, I have successfully worked to pass a Relocation Ordinance with vastly improved protections, to expand the Board’s education initiatives for tenants and landlords alike, and to successfully advocate for more retrofits of seismically unsafe apartment buildings. In the face of continuing and concerted attacks on tenants’ rights and affordable housing both statewide and locally, I feel that our collective work on these issues is not yet done. Therefore, I have decided to run for a second term if selected by the Berkeley community this Sunday at the biennial Progressive Convention. -more-


July Pepper Spray Times

By Grace Underpressure
Friday July 06, 2012 - 11:53:00 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-


New: Chasing the Red Herrings

By Tracey Rosenberg
Tuesday July 10, 2012 - 10:56:00 AM

This misguided recall attempt has taught me a lot. In my professional life as a public interest advocate, I often sit in rooms with various elected officials. I visit them after they have been besieged by lobbyists from AT&T, Verizon, or Comcast. It's hard to tell them I can't bribe them, threaten them, bully them, I can only ask them to do what is right, even if it means they may lose their elected seat. I am, way too often, met with a bit of a blank stare. -more-