What's Behind the Sale of the Downtown Berkeley Main Post Office? (News Analysis)

By Thomas Lord
Tuesday July 31, 2012 - 12:45:00 PM

The Berkeley downtown post office, formally the "Downtown Berkeley Main" station, is set to close and be sold off. There is concern about town regarding the fate of a historic public building occupying incredibly valuable municipal real estate. There is more to the story, though. Congress, it turns out, is waging war against the postal service, or so it seems:

Tomorrow, August 1st, the post office is required to make a $5.5 billion payment to a fund for retiree health benefits. In September, another $5.6 billion is due. The postal service has announced that it will not make these payments. (source: Business Insider (July 31, 2012): Post Office Nears Historic Default on $5 Billion Payment)

It's odd that the Postal service owes $11.1 billion to the health care fund and here is why:

According to the Postal Service Inspector General, the postal service has overfunded its pension fund (not the retiree health care fund). Pensions are funded at 105%. (source: Office of the Postal Service Inspector General (June 18, 2012): Pension and Retiree Health Care Funding Levels: Management Advisory Report)

Did you catch that? Pensions are over-funded by $13.1 billion. Retiree health care is under-funded by $11.1 billion.

Why not, then, simply move $12.1 billion from one fund to the other? Problem solved, right? And with each fund winding up with an extra $1 billlion.

Why not? Because Congress won't let them. The Inspector General writes (emphasis added): -more-

Press Release: ALKO Office Supply Closes Downtown Berkeley Retail Store, Cites Decreased U.C. Berkeley Purchases

From Gary Shows, President, Cliff Radston Company, Inc. dba ALKO office supply
Tuesday July 31, 2012 - 09:49:00 AM

Cliff Radston Company, Inc., DBA ALKO office supply will be closing its store at 2225 Shattuck Avenue in downtown Berkeley once a suitable buyer has been found for the building. This location has been a stationary/office supply store continuously since 1908 when it was founded by Clifford B. Radston. It has been operated by its current ownership since 1972. Its current business entity was formed in 1954. -more-


By John Curl
Friday July 27, 2012 - 04:32:00 PM

Copyright © 2012 by John Curl. All rights reserved. -more-

Press Release: Clean Up Berkeley Iceland Now!

From Tom Killilea
Friday July 27, 2012 - 02:46:00 PM

Berkeley Iceland has been closed for over five years. For the majority of this time, the current owners, East Bay Iceland (EBI, Richard Zamboni, President) has allowed their historic property to be defaced, trash to collect on and around the building, and landscaping to become a receptacle of garbage. Complaints are ignored and the garbage keeps piling up, becoming an eyesore and potential hazard to the neighborhood. A group of SBI volunteers, having seen enough of the total neglect, spent Saturday morning cleaning the front the best they could without trespassing on the property. -more-

Press Release: JVP Asks UC President to Table Biased Report on Jewish Life on Campuses

From Cecile Surasky
Friday July 27, 2012 - 02:41:00 PM

Jewish Voice for Peace calls on University of California President Mark Yudof to table a recently released report on Jewish student campus climate and to disregard its controversial recommendations until a methodologically sound and even-handed report can be conducted. -more-

Arlene Sagan: 1928-2012

By Ken Bullock (from SFCV, with permission)
Tuesday July 31, 2012 - 09:51:00 AM

Arlene Sagan, 84, died on July 5 in her Berkeley home, where she lived since 1955. She was music director emeritus of the 180-plus voice Berkeley Community Chorus and Orchestra (BCCO), which she directed from 1988, when it was a 30-voice group, until her retirement last year, and of Bella Musica Chorus — just two among many Bay Area musical groups and projects with which she was deeply involved.

With the news of Sagan’s death, members of Bella Musica gathered at her home to sing in commemoration of her life and work. Ann Callaway, Bella Musica composer in residence, remarked: “When we all got together, we went up to her room where she was lying and sang for her, and the words to Sibelius’ ‘Finlandia Hymn,’ about ‘love’ and ‘community,’ seemed so ... her. ... We even managed to do ‘How Lovely Is Thy Dwelling Place’ from the Brahms Requiem.”

Tributes and memorial statements poured into the organizations Sagan led, recalling (as Callaway put it) her “very deep personal connections with people through music, her dedication to music” itself, and her longtime, firm commitment to include amateur singers, including many who couldn’t read music or who’d never sung before, in practice and performance of “major, difficult choral works, such as Brahms’ Requiem and Orff’s Carmina Burana.

[read the rest on San Francisco Classical Voice] -more-