(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-
(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.
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-
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-
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-
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-
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-
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-
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-
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-
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-
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-
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-
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
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:
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-
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-
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.
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.
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-
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-
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
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-
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-
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-
The June 28th Supreme Court decision that let “Obamacare” stand gives the President, and all Democrats, an opportunity to re make the case that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is a good thing. That’s a blessing because many American voters do not understand Obamacare.
The most recent USA Today/Gallup Poll finds Americans evenly split on Obamacare with 46 percent agreeing with the Supreme court decision, 46 percent disagreeing, and eight percent unsure. While Democrats and Republicans divided along Party lines, a slight plurality (45 percent) of Independents approved the ruling.
Nonetheless, many of those who say they do not like Obamacare do not understand it. An April Kaiser Family Foundation Tracking Poll found that only 51 percent of respondents believed they had enough information about how the law would affect them personally. However, when asked their opinion about specific provisions of the law – “the law will prohibit insurance companies from charging women higher premiums than men” – typically a strong majority approved. When voters understand Obamacare they like it. (Even Republicans.)
President Obama, and all Democrats, needs to do a better job of conveying the benefits of the Affordable Care Act. Here are 5 points to remember: -more-
As a man who suffers from psychosis, at this point, my illness is under control to the extent that I can go months without having very many "delusional" thoughts. -more-
Early in the morning, half awake, I heard my husband let out a whooping cheer from somewhere in the house. “I can’t believe it,” he kept saying. Like most of my friends, he—a Director of Public Health— was sure the Supreme Court would never uphold the patient Affordable Care Act (ACA), President’s Barack Obama’s signature effort of his years in office. -more-
Think back to your teenage years. How did you normally communicate? Back in the Dark Ages when I was a teenager, I communicated with my peers face-to-face, by telephone, passing the occasional note in class, and reluctantly, by writing a letter. How do today's teenagers communicate in the digital age? One difference, of course, is that today's "private" communication exchanges can often be seen by the whole world, allowing the chance to comment on the exchange, and creating a permanent record of the exchange. -more-
If you’re ever tempted to take the notion of intelligent design seriously, consider the flounder.
Or the halibut, or the sole (Dover, rex, or petrale), or the small but tasty sanddab. Any member of the Order Pleuronectiformes will do. All living species of flatfish start out life as normal, bilaterally symmetrical bony fish, with one eye on each side of their bodies. Then as they mature, one eye migrates around to join its partner. The side with the eyes becomes the top side; the eyeless side, on which the fish rests on the substrate, the bottom. Sometimes, as in the sanddabs, both eyes wind up on the fish’s left side; sometimes, as in typical soles, flounders, turbots, and the Pacific halibut, on the right. California halibuts swing both ways. In some species the skin of the eyeless side loses its pigment, becoming fish-belly white; the eyed side has a camouflaging pattern that can change to match its surroundings. -more-
It is critically important that senior citizens get out of the house. Aging is not for sissies. -more-
Arts & Events
Never one to shut up and tend to her knitting, Anne Braden made a place for herself in the history of American radicalism when she and her husband, Carl, were charged with sedition for a buying a house in a white Louisville, Ky. suburb in 1954 and turning it over to a black family. The Supreme Court eventually ruled state sedition laws invalid, but not before Carl served time in prison and lost his job at the Louisville Times.
From then on Carl and Anne worked fulltime for the civil rights movement as field organizers for the Southern Conference Educational Fund. After Carl's death, Anne went on writing, speaking, and marching for her vision of a better world.
Braden could not have asked for better tellers of her story than the filmmakers who pay tribute to her radical life in "Anne Braden: Southern Patriot": Anne Lewis and Mimi Pickering began working together at Appalshop, a media production center in the tiny Kentucky mountain town of Whitesburg, where Pickering is still based while Lewis teaches at the University of Texas. Both have already produced a stream of award-winning documentaries that uncover the seamy side of American life. -more-
The San Francisco Silent Film Festival returns this week with an eclectic and compelling program of movies from the medium's first golden era. From blockbusters to romance, from comedy to melodrama, from cartoons to documentaries, the festival, as it does every year, showcases the breadth and depth of film's first few decades. -more-