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Press Release: Aerial Survey Taking Radiation Measurements over Berkeley

From the National Nuclear Security Agency
Wednesday August 29, 2012 - 06:34:00 PM

[Councilmember Jesse Arreguin forwarded the following information to his constituents today:]  

Aerial Survey of Bay Area Planned Aug. 27 - Sept. 1 

Beginning Aug. 27, a helicopter may be seen flying at a low-level altitude over portions of San Francisco, Pacifica and Oakland, Calif. The helicopter will be taking measurements of naturally-occurring background radiation. The helicopter will make daily flights between Aug. 27 and Sept. 1, 2012. 

The flyovers are a part of a joint research project between the Department of Homeland Security’s Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO) and the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) to assess natural background radiation levels. The survey will cover approximately 69 square miles over the selected locations. NNSA’s twin-engine Bell 412 helicopter, operated by the Remote Sensing Laboratory Aerial Measuring System in Las Vegas, Nev., will perform the survey. The helicopter will fly in a grid pattern over the locations about 300 feet above the ground. The flights will be limited to daylight hours and the survey is estimated to take about five days to complete. 

The background data will be used by DNDO and NNSA to improve aerial radiation measurement capabilities used by local, state and federal entities. 

Follow NNSA News on our Blog and on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, YouTube and Flickr.  

Established by Congress in 2000, NNSA is a semi-autonomous agency within the U.S. Department of Energy responsible for enhancing national security through the military application of nuclear science. NNSA maintains and enhances the safety, security, reliability and performance of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile without nuclear testing; works to reduce global danger from weapons of mass destruction; provides the U.S. Navy with safe and effective nuclear propulsion; and responds to nuclear and radiological emergencies in the U.S. and abroad. 

Wondering about That Helicopter?

Wednesday August 29, 2012 - 10:12:00 AM

The helicopter flying low over the Berkeley-Oakland border appears to be measuring radiation, according to a story reported by radio station KALW.

Election Information: 2012 Berkeley Ballot Measures

From the City Clerk
Sunday August 26, 2012 - 09:20:00 PM

Here the measures which will be on the Berkeley ballot for the November 6 election, along with the arguments for and against them: 


The City Council has placed a total on 10 measures on the ballot for the November 6, 2012 General Election. 

Ballot Measure Arguments 


Primary arguments for and against City measures were due no later than 12:00 p.m. (noon) on Friday, August 17, 2012. Rebuttal arguments may only be submitted by the author of a primary argument. Rebuttal arguments are due no later than Friday, August 24, 2012 at 12:00 p.m. (noon). Information is available by following the link below. Please contact the City Clerk Department if you have questions. 

Ballot Measure Argument Regulations 

The following City measures have been approved for inclusion on the November 6, 2012 General Municipal Election ballot: 

Measure M - General Obligation Bond for Streets and Related Watershed Improvements
Ballot Question and Full Text
City Attorney Impartial Analysis
Measure M - Tax Rate Statement
Argument in Favor of Measure M
Rebuttal to Argument in Favor of Measure M
Argument Against Measure M
Rebuttal to Argument Against Measure M 

Measure N - General Obligation Bond for Pools and Associated Facilities
Ballot Question and Full Text
Measure N - Tax Rate Statement
City Attorney Impartial Analysis
Argument in Favor of Measure N
Rebuttal to Argument in Favor of Measure N
Argument Against Measure N
Rebuttal to Argument Against Measure N 

Measure O - Special Tax to Fund Operation and Maintenance of the Replacement Warm Water and Willard Pools
Ballot Question and Full Text
City Attorney Impartial Analysis
Argument in Favor of Measure O
Rebuttal to Argument in Favor of Measure O
Argument Against Measure O
Rebuttal to Argument Against Measure O 

Measure P - Ballot Measure Re-Authorizing Expenditures of Voter-Approved Taxes for Parks Maintenance, Library Relief, Emergency Medical Services, Emergency Services for Severely Physically Disabled Persons and Fire Protection and Emergency Response and Preparedness, Under Article XIIIB of the California Constitution (Gann Limit)
Ballot Question and Full Text
City Attorney Impartial Analysis
Argument in Favor of Measure P
No argument was filed in opposition to this measure  

Measure Q - An Ordinance of the City of Berkeley Amending Chapter 7.70 of the Berkeley Municipal Code to Modernize the Application of the Utility Users Tax (UUT)
Ballot Question and Full Text
City Attorney Impartial Analysis
Argument in Favor of Measure Q
No argument was filed in opposition to this measure  

Measure R - Charter Amendment to Allow City Council to Adopt Decennial Redistricting Plan
Ballot Question and Full Text
City Attorney Impartial Analysis
Argument in Favor of Measure R
Rebuttal to Argument in Favor of Measure R
Argument Against Measure R
Rebuttal to Argument Against Measure R 

Measure S - An Ordinance of the City of Berkeley Adopting New Section 13.36.025 of the Berkeley Municipal Code to Prohibit Sitting on Sidewalks in Commercial Districts
Ballot Question and Full Text
City Attorney Impartial Analysis

Argument in Favor of Measure S
Rebuttal to Argument in Favor of Measure S
Argument Against Measure S

Rebuttal to Argument Against Measure S 

Measure T - Amendments to the West Berkeley Plan and Zoning Ordinance
Ballot Question and Full Text
City Attorney Impartial Analysis
Argument in Favor of Measure T
Rebuttal to Argument in Favor of Measure T
Argument Against Measure T
Rebuttal to Argument Against Measure T 

Measure U - Initiative Ordinance Enacting New Requirements for the City Council and Rent Stabilization Board and Boards and Commissions Relating to Agendas and Meetings, Requiring Additional Disclosure of Public Records, and Creating a New Commission (Sunshine Ordinance)
Ballot Question and Full Text
City Attorney Impartial Analysis
Argument in Favor of Measure U
Rebuttal to Argument in Favor of Measure U
Argument Against Measure U
Rebuttal to Argument Against Measure U 

Measure V - Initiative Ordinance Requiring the City to Prepare Biennial, Certified Financial Reports of Its Financial Obligations for the Next 20 Year Period; and Requiring Certification of Such Reports Before Council May Propose or Voters May Approve Any Debt Financing, or New or Increased City Taxes, and Before Council May Approve Any Assessments or Property-Related Fees (FACTS Initiative)
Ballot Questions and Full Text
City Attorney Impartial Analysis
Argument in Favor of Measure V
Rebuttal to Argument in Favor of Measure V
Argument Against Measure V
Rebuttal to Argument Against Measure V 



Berkeley's General Election Calendar

From the City Clerk Department
Sunday August 26, 2012 - 09:11:00 PM

Here are the relevant dates for Berkeley's General Election, which will take place on Nov. 6, 2012:  

Offices to be Elected: Mayor; Council Districts 2, 3, 5, 6;
Rent Board (4 seats); School Board (2 seats)



May 10, 2012 

Suggested Last Day to file petitions for initiative or charter amendment ballot measure. Petitions received after this date will be accepted, but may not be on the November ballot. 

June 1 - July 26, 2012 

Signature In-Lieu of Filing Fee Period - Candidates may collect signatures to offset the $150 filing fee. Charter Art. III, Sec. 6.5 

July 16 - Aug. 10, 2012 

EC 10220 et seq., Charter Art. III, Sec. 6.5

August 10, 2012 

Deadline to deliver resolution calling ballot measure election to Registrar and request election consolidation and services . For bonds, Tax Rate Statement also due. EC 12001, 10002, 1405, 9241; EC 9400-9401 

August 11-15, 2012 

Extended candidate filing period. Filing is extended if an incumbent eligible for re-election does not file for re-election prior to 5:00 p.m. on August 10th. Incumbents are not eligible to file during the extended period. EC 10225 

August 17, 2012 

Last day to file primary arguments. EC 9280-9287 

August 24, 2012 

Last day to file rebuttal arguments. Impartial Analysis due.
EC 9280-9287 

Aug. 24 - Sept. 4, 2012 

Public review period for ballot arguments and Impartial Analysis. EC 9295 

Sept 10 - Oct. 23, 2012 

Filing Period for Write in Candidates. EC 8601

Sept 27-Oct. 16, 2012 

Voter Information & Sample Ballot Pamphlet mailing period.
EC §13303-04, 13306 

Oct. 8 - 30, 2012 

Vote-by-Mail Ballots may be obtained between these dates. After October 30th VBM ballots may be obtained at the Registrar’s office. EC §3001 

October 5, 2012 

First Pre-Election Campaign Statement due. GC §84200.7 

October 22, 2012 

Last Day to Register to Vote. EC §§2102, 2107 

October 25, 2012 

Second Pre-Election Campaign Statement due. GC §84200.7 

October 30, 2012 

City Clerk must publish list of campaign contributions of $50 or more in newspaper of general circulation. BMC 2.12.065 

November 6, 2012 

Election Day EC §1000 

December 4, 2012 

Last day for County to certify election results. EC §15372 

December 11, 2012 

Council to adopt and certify election results. EC §9217, 10262-10263; Charter Art. III, Sec. 10 

January 31, 2013 

Semi-Annual Campaign Statement due. GC 84200 


Press Release: McCormick Sponsors Berkeley Community Campaign Office, Open to All

From Josh Wolf, Campaign Manager, McCormick for Mayor
Thursday August 23, 2012 - 11:24:00 AM

Berkeley residents have a one-stop solution this campaign season to learn about local election issues thanks to a mayoral candidate's revolutionary initiative.

The Jacquelyn McCormick For Mayor campaign is opening the doors to its new Community Campaign Center at 1551 University Avenue to all, including her competitors. Nearly a dozen campaigns have agreed to set up their headquarters at the new space, including Kriss Worthington and Kahlil Jacobs-Fantauzzi, who are both running to defeat Mayor Tom Bates in the November election. 

"This will be a great resource for the community," said former Mayor Shirley Dean. "They can participate and learn about a number of campaigns and issues." 

All three candidates running in District Two, Adolfo Cabral, Denesha DeLane and Darryl Moore have said they plan to open their office in The Community Campaign Center and several other candidates and ballot measure campaigns have expressed interest as well. 

"This is so exciting," said mayoral candidate McCormick. "For the first time in history campaigns are working together to bring their message to the people of Berkeley instead of letting our differences tear everyone apart. This is going to be campaign central." 

The 2010 introduction of ranked-choice voting to Berkeley elections opened the door to make collaborative campaigning. Ranked-choice allows voters to select their top three choices for local offices, and the nature of the system encourages candidates to form alliances with each other to maximize their impact. 

"Our campaign has taken the potential for collaboration to the next level," said Josh Wolf, McCormick's campaign manager. "The Community Campaign Center will create a forum for the entire city of Berkeley. It's like a hacking space for civic engagement, an idea-lab where people can get together to explore new projects and share experiences" 

The Center will be opening its doors at the beginning of September.

Man Arrested for Crashing into UC Berkeley Dorm

By Bay City News
Wednesday August 22, 2012 - 11:29:00 PM

A man was arrested for crashing his car into a University of California at Berkeley residence hall this morning and causing a gas leak that forced the evacuation of roughly 230 students. 

The car went through the intersection of Channing Way and College Avenue before crashing into the southeast corner of the Putnam Hall residence building at 2345 College Ave. around 2:56 a.m., UC Berkeley residence spokesman Marty Takimoto said. 

No one was injured in the crash, UC Berkeley police Sgt. Andrew Tucker said. The car was unattended when police arrived at the scene, he said. 

A gas meter was struck in the crash, causing a natural gas leak in the building and forcing the 230 mostly-first-year student residents to evacuate, Takimoto said. 

As police were assisting in evacuating residents, the 21-year-old UC Berkeley student who crashed the car turned himself in to police, Tucker said. 

At about 3:35 a.m., PG&E shut off the building's gas and the students were able to re-enter, Takimoto said. 

Takimoto said the university is working with PG&E to have the gas turned back on by the end of the day. 

Arrangements were made to allow students to use laundry facilities and showers in the adjacent residence halls in the interim, he said. 

The students, who moved in over the past few days, begin classes Thursday. 

Press Release: Lisa and Douglas Goldman Give $10 million to Cal Athletics

By José Rodríguez (UC Berkeley Media Relations)
Monday August 20, 2012 - 02:42:00 PM


A rendering of the Lisa and Douglas Goldman Plaza at Memorial Stadium
A rendering of the Lisa and Douglas Goldman Plaza at Memorial Stadium. 

When California Memorial Stadium reopens for its first football game on Saturday, Sept. 1, it will be a transformed facility graced with a scenic and new gateway: the Lisa and Douglas Goldman Plaza, named in recognition of a $10 million gift to Cal Athletics by the San Francisco philanthropists. 

Lisa and Douglas Goldman. Lisa and Douglas Goldman. 

“This gift represents one of the most generous commitments to Cal Athletics in The Campaign for Berkeley,” said Chancellor Robert J. Birgeneau, in announcing the gift today (Monday August 20). “Lisa and Doug Goldman embody integrity, generosity, service and leadership in the community, and they have a long-standing commitment to education. The campus is honored to recognize Lisa and Doug and to affirm our shared ideals in the historic treasure that is Memorial Stadium.” 

The $10 million gift is a substantial show of support for the Intercollegiate Athletics program, which just a year ago was set to reduce its roster of sports teams before donors stepped up fundraising efforts, ensuring preservation of all sports. Among the leaders of that drive was the Lisa and Douglas Goldman Fund, whose $1 million contribution to Save Cal Baseball was critical to the success of that effort. 

“We are delighted to count Lisa and Doug Goldman as friends, ardent supporters, and believers in the Cal standard of academic and athletic excellence for our student-athletes,” said Director of Athletics Sandy Barbour. “This principle has been most visible at the Summer Olympics, where 46 of our student-athletes, alumni, coaches and staff participated — the most representation by any public university in the United States. If Cal were a country, our 11 gold medals won would rank us sixth in the world. This outcome is a testament to the culture of high performance at Cal, which is ensured by the support of such loyal and generous donors as Lisa and Doug.” 

Encircled by more than a dozen graceful Chinese elms and offering views of historic Sather Tower and the UC Berkeley campus, the 1.5-acre Lisa and Douglas Goldman Plaza will be a public space, providing students and visitors with an attractive new gathering place year-round, and a significant enhancement to the restoration of the venerable stadium. 

The Lisa and Douglas Goldman Plaza will be a dynamic, multi-use destination point on campus. In the future the plaza will be used as a venue for academic events, conferences, performances, and could also be the outdoor entryway to future stadium retail space. 

“Lisa and I are grateful to have the opportunity to grant via our foundation this contribution to Cal Athletics and to support the California Memorial Stadium renovation,” commented Doug Goldman. “This, our largest donation to date to UC Berkeley, is another expression of our commitment to both the academic and athletic mission of the greatest public university on the planet. As the fourth of five generations to have attended and supported Cal, I very much hope that our gift will inspire others — alumni and friends — to step up and do likewise. Go Bears!” 

The gift is coming to the campus through the Lisa and Douglas Goldman Fund, which was established in 1992 as a private foundation committed to providing support for charitable organizations that enhance our society.  

“Lisa, Doug and their family over the generations have made extraordinary contributions that are linked to Berkeley’s core values in the classroom and on the playing field, creating an inestimable legacy,” said Birgeneau. “This gift today has tremendous potential to inspire many more of our alumni and friends to contribute and help meet Berkeley’s greatest needs.” 

The Campaign for Berkeley has raised $2.6 billion so far toward its goal of $3 billion to support UC Berkeley’s students, faculty, research and programs. 


Berkeley Mayoral Contest Heats Up

By Ted Friedman
Friday August 10, 2012 - 07:39:00 PM
Candidates for Berkeley's Mayor hold a joint press conference on the steps of City Hall: Left to Right (but not in political order), Jacquelyn McCormick, Kriss Worthington, Kahlil Jacobs-Fantauzzi.
Mike O'Malley
Candidates for Berkeley's Mayor hold a joint press conference on the steps of City Hall: Left to Right (but not in political order), Jacquelyn McCormick, Kriss Worthington, Kahlil Jacobs-Fantauzzi.
Worthington lunch-launch at Bacheesmos on lower Telegraph Wednesday.
Ted Friedman
Worthington lunch-launch at Bacheesmos on lower Telegraph Wednesday.
California gold. outside Bacheesos Wednesday at Kriss Worthington's campaign lunch-launch. Jacquelyn McCormack, right,  has just finished speaking. Worthington, middle. East-bay hills frame event.
Ted Friedman
California gold. outside Bacheesos Wednesday at Kriss Worthington's campaign lunch-launch. Jacquelyn McCormack, right, has just finished speaking. Worthington, middle. East-bay hills frame event.

With the teaming of three simpatico Bates opponents this week, Berkeley's mayoral waters heated up. According to these candidates, Berkeley's new ranked choice vote counting system gives opponents a better chance to oust the three-term mayor.

Under the new system, never before used in a Berkeley mayor’s race, voters can choose up to three candidates, and if their first choice doesn’t get a majority, their vote will be transferred to their second choice and then to their third choice until some candidate gets a majority. 

With posters of Psycho's Bates Motel hosted by Mayor Bates circulating online, a mighty threesome has emerged, hoping to benefit from Bates' unpopularity with some of the liberal/progressives he was thought to symbolize. 

His opponents say Bates has changed for the worse, and John Curl in these pages has laboriously documented those changes. 

These three candidates hope that voters will decide to mark their ballots with their three names in any order, and therefore one of them will win. 

Don't call us a coalition, says Jacquelyn McCormick, one of the three, "just say we're co-operating to defeat the incumbent." 

We're calling them, if it sticks, Two Amigos and an Amiga, or simply the Three Amigos, just to offend linguists. Or even more simply, the Berkeley Three. The amigos angle fits with the candidates' call for more Latinos in city government, 

The three, Kriss Worthington, Dist. 7 councilman, who has clashed repeatedly with the mayor recently at council, McCormick, and Kahlil Jacobs-Fantauzzi, who is vying to be the city's first hip-hop mayor, spoke Wednesday evening at a Worthington campaign kick-off event at Bacheeso’s on lower Telegraph. 

The Three Amigos went into greater detail of their beef with Bates at a noontime Thursday press conference on the steps of New City Hall. At one point Kahlil, Berkeley's hip-hop mayor prospect, left to summon the unhip-hop incumbent mayor to join them in a pre-campaign debate on the steps, but Bates was unavailable. 

Calling himself "Your Voice for Choice," Worthington got off to a good start Wednesday at a free-to-supporters buffet attended by more than three hundred hungry Worthington loyalists, who ingested some 600,000 calories. The two-hour event was still feeding at its conclusion. 

Worthington read a prepared speech, but went on to speak without a net, saying of Bates, there was nothing "personal" in his attacks on Bates. "I'm not running [against Bates] because I don't like him," Worthington said. 

Worthington also pledged not to run for president ("my boyfriend would not permit it," he joked), or senator, or any office higher than Berkeley Mayor. For Worthington, who would retain his council seat if defeated in November for mayor, his heart and soul will always be Berkeley, where he has served District 7 three terms working on four, and in other civic duties in his sixteen year career in Berkeley politics. 

At the heart of Worthington's bid for mayor is the goal of restoring Berkeleyans' pride in their town and its governance, bringing citizens back to council meetings (through a streamlining of council proceedings) and being a voice for them and the disenfranchised. 

And although he has not said so, his faceoff with Bates might be entitled, “Will the real progressive please stand up?” 

He apologized for speaking "too long." 

When Worthington and his two amigos re-appeared on city hall steps Thursday, voters were introduced to two fresh voices for change at City Hall. McCormick was last heard from two years ago in her council race against Gordon Wozniak, District. 4. 

McCormick, who managed a twenty million dollar real-estate portfolio for Bank of America for ten years and was vice-chair of the United Way in Los Angeles, is stressing Berkeley's fiscal mismanagement, which she says favors high salaries, retirement, and pension payouts, while city streets go unpaved and West Berkeley property owners regularly fight flooding caused by poor city management and misspent funds. 

Worthington said that his decision to run for Mayor was solidified when Bates and his council majority decided not to place a bond dedicated to correcting watershed problems, including flooding, pollution of Aquatic Park and other environmental problems, on the ballot, opting instead for a non-specific bond issue which could be used for other purposes. 

McCormick, who hosts berkeleycouncilwatch.com, an informational site devoted to city council news, has been critical of Berkeley's "opaque" city budget, which she wants to open to public scrutiny so Berkeleyans may know why city money is not going to the poor, disadvantaged, and those needing social services. 

Worthington said he once read the entire 1,600-page city budget, that it almost destroyed him, and that he still didn't understand it. 

The hip-hop candidate, Jacobs-Fantauzzi, a hip-hop artist and promoter who grew up in Berkeley, performed with hip-hop colleagues. He gave a preview of how he expects to get out the Berkeley youth vote, buttonholing and interviewing some diffident Berkeley highschoolers at the colorful press conference. 

Berkeley highschoolers held their own highly successful Occupy demo this year at City Hall, and have become increasingly involved in Berkeley politics. 

From Worthington's official on-line bio: 

"First elected in 1996, Kriss is a 16-year veteran of the Berkeley City Council. In that time, he has steadily built a reputation as one of the region's most prominent and effective progressive leaders, making real progress on the issues that matter to the people of the East Bay, including education, housing, transportation, the environment, diversity economic development, and safety."  

"Kriss also serves as the official City of Berkeley representative to the Alameda County Congestion Management Agency. He also serves as the alternate to the Alameda County Waste Management Authority and the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG)." 


Ted Friedman usually reports from the South side where Worthington is big news.

Car Hits Berkeley Fire Hydrant, Bursts into Flames on Ashby

By Sasha Lekach (BCN)
Thursday August 16, 2012 - 10:22:00 AM

A car with dysfunctional brakes in Berkeley hit a fire hydrant and then burst into an engine fire on Tuesday, a Berkeley fire official said Wednesday. 

The driver of a car traveling along Ashby Avenue at King Street apparently could not stop the vehicle when the brakes failed to work. The car jumped the sidewalk and came to rest on a fire hydrant, where an engine fire broke out around 12:45 p.m., Berkeley Deputy Fire Chief Gil Dong said. 

Firefighters and paramedics found the engine compartment on fire and the driver and sole occupant suffering from minor injures, Dong said. 

The driver was able to get out of the car and she was treated at the scene, Dong said. 

The fire, which started in the engine, was quickly extinguished, the deputy fire chief said. 

The hydrant was not damaged in the crash.

Design Review of Acheson Project Continues

By Steven Finacom
Friday August 10, 2012 - 07:44:00 PM
Mark Rhoades points out a detail on the study model of the Acheson Commons block.
Steven Finacom
Mark Rhoades points out a detail on the study model of the Acheson Commons block.
Rhoades, Gary Parsons, John English, and Kirk Peterson discuss the proposed addition atop the Ace Hardware store.
Steven Finacom
Rhoades, Gary Parsons, John English, and Kirk Peterson discuss the proposed addition atop the Ace Hardware store.
The current massing proposed for the structure at the northeast corner of University Avenue and Shattuck Avenue. The existing commercial building is along the bottom, topped by a five story residential tower.
Steven Finacom
The current massing proposed for the structure at the northeast corner of University Avenue and Shattuck Avenue. The existing commercial building is along the bottom, topped by a five story residential tower.
One of the three massing options proposed for the structure to be added atop the Ace Hardware building at the corner of University Avenue and Walnut.  The city reviewers were unhappy with the Shattuck Avenue façade of the structure (the narrow end, at left), and two new alternatives were requested from the architect.
Steven Finacom
One of the three massing options proposed for the structure to be added atop the Ace Hardware building at the corner of University Avenue and Walnut. The city reviewers were unhappy with the Shattuck Avenue façade of the structure (the narrow end, at left), and two new alternatives were requested from the architect.

After some higher profile appearances in public reviews, the large Acheson Commons project Downtown has moved back into temporary review obscurity as a joint subcommittee of the Landmarks Preservation Commission and the Design Review Subcommittee meet with the architects, developers, and City of Berkeley staff to discuss massing and design details. However, the lower profile meetings are no less important; it’s from this sausage-making that a close to final design for the complex with arise. 

The project, as previously described in my articles for the Planet, covers most of the square block bordered by University, Walnut, Shattuck, and Berkeley Way, at the northern center of Berkeley’s Downtown. It involves converting the existing Acheson Physicians Building to residential units, moving or demolishing two historic brown shingle apartment buildings on Walnut Street and replacing them with a new construction residential infill building, and adding new residential upper floors to the old Sill’s Grocery (Ace Hardware), and McFarlane’s Building, and another older commercial building along University Avenue. An existing one-story structure housing a creperie would remain, although refurbished on the street façade. The project would renovate or alter the entire block length along University and Walnut, and nearly half a block along Shattuck. 

The latest meeting of the subcommittee was during the lunch hour on Tuesday, August 7, 2012. Two DRC members (Jim Goring and Adam Woltag), one Landmarks Commissioner (Gary Parsons), and Carrie Olson, who wears both appointment hats (Chair of the LPC, member of the DRC) sat down around a big rectangular table in the City’s planning offices with architect Kirk Peterson and his staff, representatives of the developer including consultant Mark Rhoades who formerly ran the Current Planning unit for the City, and several current City staff. 

Two members of the public—myself, and John English—also attended (disclosure: I made some comments on the design at this meeting, and have commented on it in the past, including on one occasion as a temporary Landmarks Commission member.) 

The table was loaded with three-dimensional models showing the scale and generally proposed design of the existing and proposed buildings on the block, prepared by Peterson’s office. One of the buildings, the expansion of the Sills Grocery / Ace Hardware structure at Walnut and University Avenue, was represented by three separate models, illustrating different alternatives.  

It was also the subject of much of the discussion and the most questioning by the reviewers, all of whom had some problem with the design for a five-story residential tower on top of the present one-story-plus-mezzanine commercial building. Parsons said the design for the façade was “completely unremarkable” and ‘still needs further study.” Woltag asked for a revision that would “provide a cutback in the building, to really open the building up”, but added, “everything else is moving in the right direction.” 

“What I hear is that you want this fairly similar, but much better somehow,” said Peterson, who has a gift for wry observation. 

The upshot of that discussion was that Peterson would be asked prepare two new alternative designs for the building, showing a larger setback on the upper two floors and different articulation of the façade, particularly along University Avenue.  

The reviewers also had several things to say about the proposed residential tower at the corner of University Avenue and Shattuck, atop the old McFarlane’s Candy store building with its existing wedding-cake-style painted metal cornice. There seemed to be general agreement that the proposed structure, which will sit at one of Berkeley’s most prominent intersections, is moving in the right direction but still requires some design tweaking.  

“My chant at all of these meetings has been ‘more heroism, please’,” said Goring, especially so for a building on that corner. “We’re getting close, but we’re not really there yet”, said Parsons. Rhoades noted, and the reviewers generally seemed to accept, that the building would be a reasonably solid block, with an open-air slot or light well facing westwards, towards Shattuck, in the upper residential floors. 

The subcommittee concentrated on building massing for the project and generally stayed away from design details at this discussion, despite occasional questions. But Peterson reminded the members that he had presented the city with concepts and preliminary drawings for design details at a much earlier stage, and they were still current and available for review and discussion. 

There was also some discussion of the interior courtyard of the project, which would be a deep, narrow, space behind the existing Acheson Physicians Building surrounded by five and six story building walls. Rhoades noted the space would be about 4,000 square feet and “it’s the crossroads—it’s meant to be shaded, it’s meant to be quiet.” He added that most of the useable open space in the project would be on roof decks in more sunny locations. 

At one point Rhoades called a narrow open air passage between structures into the courtyard from Walnut Street “a tunnel” and Peterson ironically corrected him, “Mark, we never call anything a tunnel. It’s a paseo”. The space is now 15-16 feet wide, Rhoades explained, with a seven story wall on one side, and six stories on the other. 

Bob Allen, a Zoning Adjustment Board member was not in the room, but a presence nonetheless, since the developers were at pains to explain how they had widened some of the gaps between residential structures, so apartment windows wouldn’t look out into such narrow spaces. Allen has pungently and forcibly railed at previous reviews about such narrow spaces. At a joint DRC / LPC meeting on June 7 he had called the narrow gaps “entirely indefensible.” 

Another issue raised by John English, a retired public planner who has been a careful and detailed critic of the project, was the effect on the several formally landmarked structures on the block which would have large residential additions installed atop them. “This isn’t historic preservation”, he said, and the project doesn’t conform to the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for treatment of historic structures.  

“There’s just too much build being added on top of one story.” “It would help a little to have greater setbacks” of the upper floors from the historic facades, he said, arguing that the addition at University and Shattuck “will look like it’s crushing the (McFarlane’s) Building at ground level.” 

“You make (that point) every time, but it’s true”, said Parsons. “We’re not in favor of that. But we see this (project) is inevitable.” Rhoades smoothly interjected, “the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards are guidelines.” “This project has a lot of problems to solve that adherence to the Secretary’s Standards wouldn’t allow.” 

“This shouldn’t be taken as a precedent for other, worse, projects to besmirch landmarks”, countered Parsons. But “we’re staying on board so that we can protect what we can protect.”  

The issue raised by English and Parsons has long been of concern to preservationists, worried that the Acheson project will encourage other downtown property owners to propose tall additions on top of historic one or two story landmark buildings. The two LPC Commission members present, Parsons and Olson, signaled that developers shouldn’t make that assumption about other sites downtown. 

The meeting closed with an agreement to meet again on Thursday, August 16, from 4-5 pm. Olson noted that the staff and Commission members are trying their best to craft a workable public review and deliberation process for the out-of-the-ordinary subcommittee, that melds together the policy spheres and procedural obligations of two separate commissions. “This is an unusual process and we want to be unusually scrupulously clean about it”, she said.  

Olson and City staffer Terry Blount directed that between the subcommittee meetings, any communications or questions from the project architect and commissioners should go through City staff—including Anne Burns, the Design Review Committee staffer—rather than taking the form of separate discussions between the design team and individual commissioners.

The Misunderstood Sport of Sitting

By Carol Denney, Sports Critic
Friday August 17, 2012 - 05:53:00 PM

The flap over Olympic dressage as a sport obscures an even more misunderstood athletic pursuit: the subtle, unpretentious sport of sitting. 

It may seem simple to the untrained eye, but this understated sport and the dedicated athletes who train throughout their lives to perfect the art of sport sitting in all its varieties and styles deserve more respect. 

Berkeley has agreed to partner with the International Olympic Committee to host an exciting Olympic Sport Sitting event later this summer which somehow got left out of the London games. 

As we prepare for these riveting local games and the tourism they will inevitably attract, the various styles and techniques of sport sitting are worth reflection. The world of sport sitting evolves, as all sports do, but former sports sitting judges agree that with a little direction even an amateur eye can recognize a variety of techniques which dramatically distinguish the performances. 

1. The classic. Fans of the classic cite its long history and undeniable celebrity, but the style of classic sitters has made it a crowd favorite for decades. Participants, often in gloves and pearls, walk purposefully and directly toward a chair and simply sit down, occasionally crossing ankles or removing hats with a definitive flourish. The classic has won the gold for teams more often than any other style, but newer forms of the sport are getting their due, such as; 

2. The punk. Sports fans were riveted in the Sydney 2000 Summer Olympic Games when a spikey-haired young man in ripped clothing strode toward a chair, took it by its back, and smashed it repeatedly until it became a pile of broken sticks. Judges’ objections initially complicated the medal round, but “the punk” finally won undisputed gold that year and changed the sport forever, as did; 

3. The Martha Graham. Common today, the unusual gestures and garb of modern dance-influenced athletes who seem to commune with and become the chair have finally won both popular respect and an occasional bronze from judges who recognize, as the sport of sitting evolves, that the Martha Graham integrates athleticism, clarity, and originality, as does; 

4. The militia. This crowd-pleaser introduced a team dynamic to the games in 2004 when several armed, uniformed soldiers stormed the stage and “captured” a chair with weapons trained on the chair and the judges while a full military band played the beloved “Gallant and Gay We'll March Away” (1886) composition for trumpets and drums by John Philip Sousa. 

This is only a brief sample of what the citizens of Berkeley will enjoy when the Olympic Sports Sitting games come to town. Get your tickets early; the competition will be vigorous this year!

Singapore: Stalinist housing blocs & feng shui

By Jane Stillwater
Friday August 17, 2012 - 05:34:00 PM

After spending a rather unique night trying to sleep on glorified lawn chairs at the Doha airport, I finally arrived in Singapore -- blurry-eyed and confused. And that's not a good condition to be in when trying to navigate through the Singapore airport -- because this airport is HUGE. Imagine the Great Mall of America, Rodeo Drive and a mini-Disney Adventureland combined with more restaurants than you could eat at in a month, an elaborate system of people-movers and thousands of happy tourists and shoppers, all tacked onto miles and miles of terminals, departure gates and runways -- and you pretty much get the picture. The Singapore airport is HUGE. 

"Where is the closest transit hotel?" I bleated piteously.

"After Terminal 3, get on the tramway, turn right at Cartier, walk a half-mile past the third food court, it's next to the butterfly garden." Found it!

For approximately $60, I was able to rent a sweet teeny-tiny little hotel room in miniature for six hours -- and promptly fell asleep. It was like they had shrunk a hotel room at the Hilton to fit into your closet. I loved it.

And what's not to like about the Singapore airport -- if you are a Material Girl. Everything you can imagine is on sale here. WHAT will this place ever do if people ever wise up and discover that material goods can't buy you happiness -- and also when the world runs out of raw materials? Then the Singapore airport will be screwed. But until then, the place is like a freaking MUSEUM for material goods, the ultimate wet-dream for Material Girls.

The airport also offers a two-hour free tour of the city of Singapore. My plane doesn't leave for Jakarta for another seven hours. I'm on this!

"The island of Singapore consists mainly of parklands and highrises," said our guide. And it did. So many lovely parks. Hand-groomed parks very much like Central Park in New York -- only miles and miles and miles more of them.

"Why do you have so many parks?" I asked.

"It's good feng shui," said our guide. Oh. Okay. "The ancient art of feng shui tells us that the way your home or business is laid out can strongly affect your fortune. And having good feng shui brings you good luck and having lots of greenery around brings you even more good luck." http://video.about.com/fengshui/Color-and-Feng-Shui.htm

Well, it does look like all those miles and miles of parklands and trees and manicured flower beds and well-trimmed lawns really are bringing Singapore lots of good luck. America should try that!

And springing up like gigantic mushrooms from all of these parks were many many tall skyscrapers and housing blocs. The total effect here reminded me of Pyongyang, up in North Korea. After Americans had leveled the city flat with thousands of bombs back in the 1950s, Pyongyang was rebuilt on a grid of parklands, skyscraper hotels for tourists and Stalinist housing blocs.

Of course the parklands in Singapore are hecka lot nicer and the housing blocs here are far more luxurious than in Pyongyang -- but the effect is the same: The good feng shui of parks to offset the bad feng shui of housing blocs and skyscrapers.

Back home in Berkeley, our current mayor and most of our city council appear to be trying to Manhattanize Berkeley just as fast as humanly possible. But. They are leaving out that other highly important ingredient of good feng shui -- the parks. If our current mayor wants to cram Berkeley full of Stalinist housing blocs, fine with me. But where are the parks? So next election I'm going to vote for Kriss Worthington for mayor instead. http://www.krissworthington.com/home/

That is, if I ever get out of the Singapore airport alive. One could live here comfortably forever -- except that there are no parks (unless you count runways).


PS: Mitt Romney has named Paul Ryan to be his vice presidential running mate. Paul Ryan! Electing those two would be like electing the Beagle Boys to guard Uncle Scrooge's bank vault. With Romney and Ryan in charge of our treasury, we can almost count on being burgled for every last red cent that we own.

A vote for these Beagle Boys may be a really great idea -- but only if you yourself are a Beagle Boy too. Most of us are not.

According to Robert Reich, "Republicans want to obliterate any trace of the [Bush] administration that told America there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and led us into a devastating war; turned a $5 trillion projected budget surplus into a $6 trillion deficit; gave the largest tax cut in a generation to the richest Americans in history; handed out a mountain of corporate welfare to the oil and gas industry, pharmaceutical companies, and military contractors like Halliburton (uniquely benefiting the vice president); whose officials turned a blind eye to Wall Street shenanigans that led to the worst financial calamity since the Great Crash of 1929 and then persuaded Congress to bail out the Street with the largest taxpayer-funded giveaway of all time." http://www.nationofchange.org/erasing-w-1344692189

Bush was the ultimate Beagle Boy. And now we are supposed to forget all that and let them force the Romney-Ryan Beagle Boy team on us too? Exactly how dumb do they think that we are?

What would Unca Scrooge do?

Maybe I should just stay here in Singapore after all -- because it has such good feng shui. But no. My flight leaves for Jakarta in two hours and there are no backsies on my plane ticket.



Press Release: Coalition Releases Ballot Statement: Berkeley Anti-Sitting Measure S is “An Extraordinary Waste of Money and Police Resources”

From Christopher Cook, Communications Director, Berkeley Standing Up for the Right to Sit Down/No on S (berkeleystandinguppress@gmail.com; 415-504-0325);Pattie Wall, Executive Director, Homeless Action Center (510-333-0772)
Wednesday August 29, 2012 - 10:20:00 AM

A Berkeley coalition of merchants, neighborhood and social service groups, and religious and city leaders today released its official ballot argument against anti-sitting Measure S—calling it an “extraordinary waste of money and police resources” that infringes on all city residents’ civil rights and liberties. 

The ballot statement, signed by city councilors Max Anderson and Kriss Worthington and others, urges Berkeley voters to reject Measure S as a costly and ineffective proposal that “will harm public safety by diverting police resources away from solving real crimes…We need serious solutions, not laws criminalizing the act of sitting down.” 

A rebuttal argument signed by city councilor Jesse Arreguin and others added: “Instead of pushing people out of our shared public spaces, we can unite to create real solutions for the economic problems that plague small businesses.” 

“This measure is completely counter-productive,” said Pattie Wall, Executive Director of the Homeless Action Center. “All it does is push poor people around without creating any solutions for our city's merchants, or for homeless people or other residents.” 

The full ballot argument text is below. 

No On Measure S Ballot Argument 

Can you imagine getting arrested for sitting down on a public sidewalk? In Berkeley? 

If Measure S passes, anybody could be cited or arrested for this simple act—yet another law restricting the public space we all share. But it also sets a dangerous precedent, discriminating against an entire class of people who happen to be poor. These are not Berkeley values. 

The problematic street behavior used to justify this measure is already illegal. This measure will harm public safety by diverting police resources away from solving real crimes. 

The evidence is clear: Measure S won’t help business. A similar law in San Francisco had no effect on improving merchant corridors, helping homeless people obtain services, reducing the number of homeless people on the street, or increasing public safety. 

Throwing people in jail is no solution to homelessness. Instead, it creates a problem for all of us. The U. S. Interagency Council on Homelessness has found that when people are arrested or fined for “act of and living” crimes in public spaces it makes it more difficult for them to find work and receive services and housing. 

This measure is a step backwards. 

Berkeley has the largest gap between rich and poor in the Bay Area—we need serious solutions, not laws criminalizing the act of sitting down. This measure offers no solutions for businesses, customers, or homeless people. Join the ACLU, hundreds of small businesses, Berkeley community organizations and faith groups in VOTING NO on this extraordinary waste of money and police resources—and stand up for the simple human right to sit down, to rest, and to share our common public space. Let's come together, as one Berkeley, and find real solutions that help our communities. 

KEEP SITTING LEGAL. Vote NO on Measure S. 

  • Max Anderson, Berkeley City Council, District 3
  • Kriss Worthington, Berkeley City Council, District 7
  • Boona Cheema, Executive Director, Building Opportunities for Self-Reliance (BOSS)
  • Nolan Pack, Senator, Associated Students of the University of California (ASUC)
  • Eleanor Walden, Berkeley Grey Panthers



SUMMERTIME! And the Living Will Be Easy for a Few Weeks

By Becky O'Malley
Friday August 10, 2012 - 10:00:00 AM

Paul Krugman is has been on vacation. The Nation sneaks in a "double issue"— meaning they're skipping a week. The London Review of books has a "Sad Summer Issue". So we're doing it too. This issue will be up probably until after Labor Day, and I'l just add articles from time to time at my leisure, more or less randomly. More are in the works now, and will be posted in the next few days.

Some of our regular contributors will take time off as they choose, and I'll just be posting contributions from others when I get around to it, without worrying too much about deadlines. (Bob Burnett is on vacation this week.)

For "News", I might provide links to stories in the many worthwhile sites which aspire to report on what's happening in Berkeley. I'll also keep an eye on Bay City News, and will welcome news articles but not search them out.

I'll send email alerts to subscribers whenever there's critical mass of new material. If you'd like to get on the list, write to subscribe@berkeleydailyplanet.com. There's no charge.

The Editor's Back Fence

Summer Reading

Friday August 17, 2012 - 04:53:00 PM

Since in theory I've been taking it easy, I've had time to read what others are up to.

I haven't read Subversives, Seth Rosenfeld's new book about the FBI and Berkeley's student movement in the '60s, but knowing Seth's work and after reading this review in the Wall Street Journal I will.

And also, the September Harper's has a review of some books about Pauline Kael, someone many in Berkeley admired and might even still remember. It doesn't seem to be online yet, but the print version just came to my house.

The Peralta community colleges are suing J.P. Morgan alleging chicanery over bond issues, according to an interesting article in the Daily Cal. 

A neighbor documents today's Ashby Avenue traffic catastrophe on Berkeleyside.


Odd Bodkins: Devolution (Cartoon)

By Dan O'Neill
Thursday August 16, 2012 - 12:37:00 PM


Dan O'Neill


Odd Bodkins: Still a Moran (Cartoon)

By Dan O'Neill
Thursday August 16, 2012 - 12:33:00 PM


Dan O'Neill


Public Comment

Homosexuality And Christian Arrogance

By Peter Opa
Tuesday August 14, 2012 - 10:53:00 AM

It is unfair, if not outright wicked, to condemn or judge somebody for who they are without ever walking in their shoes. And it is arrogant, if not dishonest, to pretend to understand something that is beyond human comprehension. Sadly, that’s what conservatives have done to the gays in the name of Christianity. They judge the homosexuals and say vile things about them without knowing what it feels like to be attracted to same sex.  

The Bible says in Isaiah 40:28 that God is the Creator of all the earth (and that includes the gay people, by the way) and his understanding no one can fathom. In 1Corinthinans 2:7, the word “mystery” is used to describe God. If that is not enough, in Romans 11:33, the words “impossible”, “unsearchable”, “inscrutable”, and “unexplainable” are used in various Bible versions to describe God. 

If, as Christians, we truly believe in the above Bible verses that God is, indeed, mysterious, then we must accept the fact that there are certain things about God and his creations that we just cannot understand—and for a man to be sexually attracted to another man in a world full of beautiful women is one of such mysteries. The fact that we don’t understand it is not a reason for us to be self-righteous about it. 

Trying to frame a sexual orientation we don’t understand as a “choice” doesn’t make sense. To say that homosexuality is a choice is tantamount to saying that being left-handed is a choice, or being a midget is a choice. There are people who are left-handed in a world where most people are right-handed. But we don’t question their humanity. We would not say to the left-handed, “You better start using your right hand or go to hell”; nor do we say to the midget, “You evil midget, you better get taller or you go to hell”.  

Yet some Christians, by their intolerance and discrimination, have questioned the humanity of gay people as if they were not created by God! How arrogant of us! 

I’m a Christian. I’m not gay. But I do have gay friends and I love them wholeheartedly. I have heard their stories, some of which moved me to tears.  

My friend, Fred, is one of them. He was former pastor of a popular Presbyterian Church. I remember the day he invited me for lunch, saying he was going to make an important announcement to the congregation but wanted to give me a heads-up as a friend. 

“I’m gay. I don’t even know if I’m still going to have my job after telling the church, but, Peter, I’m tired of running away from myself”.  

With tears in his eyes, the married father of three told me about how he had always known himself to be gay, but have had to pretend otherwise. Why? Because of the hostility and godless discrimination against gay people. 

Needless to say, his wife was devastated. The congregation was shocked. Some left the church in protest, others called for his resignation. He was insulted and called names. Not surprisingly, he resigned shortly after. 

I have known Fred for almost seven years and I’ve never seen a more loving and caring minister. He is a very thoughtful and compassionate man. Having served with him in different situations, I knew Fred would not hurt anyone. Therefore, for him to have come out after so many years knowing full well people are going to feel crushed, especially his children and wife—that tells me there’s something about being gay that a straight man cannot understand. Otherwise, what sane person would want to bring such opprobrium upon themselves, not to mention jeopardize their own career?  

It makes me wonder: What would it take for churches to learn to accept people the way God created them? Why can’t sanctimonious Christians just humble themselves and admit that homosexuality is something beyond their comprehension instead of arrogantly playing God? How embarrassing to the Christian faith that those who are supposed to model the love and compassion of Jesus are the ones sowing the seeds of hatred against gay people! Where is the love of Christ? 

The world would be a better place if we start loving and stop judging. 

Peter Opa, a writer / speaker, lives in the Bay Area. *To protect his identity, the name of Fred was changed. 

Divide and Conquer

By Bruce Joffe
Tuesday August 14, 2012 - 10:40:00 AM

Call it class warfare, or call it the politics of resentment. The Romney enablers are using a strategy of division to conquer the Presidency. They are trying to turn hard-working people, who struggle everyday just to get by, against the people who are even less fortunate, by promoting resentment that some are receiving government assistance while others aren't. 

If Romney can win the "resentment vote," his people will change all that: no one will get government assistance, except the very top of the top 1%. The wealthiest will get government contracts, bailouts, special access to the Federal Reserve, and tax breaks. The tax money they don't pay will limit everyone else's access to a good education, to adequate health care, to retirement security, and yes, to food for millions of hungry people. 

Romney's people believe that wealth measures morality, so the wealthiest are the most deserving of our country's benefits. Republicans are counting on the resentment of people who fear loosing their jobs and their homes to boost them into power. If they win, watch out!

An Open Letter to the City of Berkeley Re Upzoning Residential Areas Adjacent to Downtown

By Stephen Stine
Monday August 13, 2012 - 01:33:00 PM

Hello Mayor Tom Bates, Berkeley City Council, the Zoning Adjustments Board, Planning Commission, Design Review Committee, Terry Blount, Alex Amoroso, and Anne Burns,

I am submitting this public comment to request the Zoning Adjustments Board, the Planning Commission, and City Council to review the 2012 upzoning of the 2024 Durant property from R-4 residential zoning to C-DMU commercial mixed use zoning, and to request City Council to downzone 2024 Durant to R-3 residential zoning, as was originally proposed in the Downtown Area Plan (DAP). Policy LU-7.1 of the Downtown Area Plan directed the city to downzone R-4 properties in the southwest downtown area of Berkeley to R-3 residential zoning in order to preserve the residential nature of the neighborhood, and Planning Commission and City Council did the exact opposite by upzoning 2024 Durant from R-4 to C-DMU commercial mixed use zoning.  

The other R-4 properties on the south side of Durant between Shattuck and Milvia, 2020 Durant and 2000 Durant, were downzoned from R-4 to R-3 as directed by the DAP; however, in the case of 2024 Durant, the Planning Commission and City Council circumvented the Downtown Area Plan's objectives, and upzoned 2024 Durant to C-DMU commercial mixed use zoning instead of downzoning it to R-3 residential zoning as directed.

The 2024 Durant property owner argued to the Planning Commission that the 2024 property is surrounded by four-and five-story buildings, and thus would be in a "hole" if limited to R-3 zoning with a three story maximum building height. However, this argument is based on faulty logic and should not have convinced the city to upzone the property; the argument is not unique to 2024 Durant, but applies as well to the 2020 Durant and 2000 Durant properties. The 2020 Durant and 2000 Durant properties have been downzoned to R-3 residential zoning in accordance with the DAP, meaning that if the owners ever want to tear down the properties for new uses, they can only build up to three stories. That is the exact purpose of the DAP's direction to downzone the R-4 properties to R-3 residential zoning, in order to preserve the residential character of the neighborhood by limiting future building heights to three stories under R-3 zoning, in accordance with Policy LU-7.1. So the "hole" argument applies not only to 2024 Durant, but equally as well to 2020 Durant and 2000 Durant, and an exception should not have been made for 2024 Durant. Upzoning 2024 Durant to C-DMU simply exerts development pressures further into the residential southwest downtown neighborhood that Policy LU-7.1 was designed to protect by downzoning R-4 zoning to R-3 zoning. 

2024 Durant, if downzoned to R-3 zoning as directed by the DAP, would not be directly adjacent to taller Corridor area commercial buildings, according to Figure LU-1A on page LU-4 of the plan, and thus there is appropriate existing buffer between the Corridor and the residential zoning that is appropriate to 2024 Durant. Directly to the east of 2024 Durant is a flat surface parking lot owned by Staples (the main Staples building is located at 2352 Shattuck). The Staples parking lot is marked as Buffer (commercial mixed use) in the Downtown Area Plan, not Corridor area commercial use. Therefore, from east to west, there would be Corridor area commercial zoning on Shattuck, which would transition to C-DMU commercial mixed use zoning on the Staples parking lot property, which would transition to R-3 residential zoning at 2024 Durant, 2020 Durant, and 2000 Durant. This is what the original DAP envisioned and directed. There is no need to have upzoned 2024 Durant to C-DMU, as there would have been a transition from C-DMU to R-3 zoning at the site of the Staples parking lot. The city directly violated the DAP's original spirit and vision by extending development pressures further into the southwest downtown residential neighborhood, by ignoring the direction of Policy LU-7.1 to downzone R-4 properties in the area to R-3, and instead upzoning 2024 Durant to C-DMU commercial mixed use zoning. 

Finally, there are several other significant reasons 2024 Durant should be downzoned to R-3 residential zoning as originally directed in the DAP. I will present further issues and analysis in the style of a Zoning Adjustments Board report. Upzoning 2024 Durant to C-DMU instead of downzoning it as directed in the Downtown Area Plan to R-3 residential zoning can be viewed as the equivalent of requesting a zoning variance from R-4 to R-3 to C-DMU zoning, a zoning variance to build to six-stories as allowed under C-DMU zoning instead of being limited to three stories under R-3 residential zoning, and thus the upzoning should be subjected to a general detriment analysis to determine the impact of the upzoning on neighboring buildings. The decision to upzone 2024 Durant to C-DMU commercial zoning instead of downzoning it to R-3 residential zoning was erroneous in light of the drastic impacts it will have on the low-income senior citizens who live in the low-income senior housing residence ("Stuart Pratt Manor") at 2020 Durant.

General Detriment Findings:

1. The 2024 Durant property should be downzoned to R-3 residential zoning, as originally directed by the Downtown Area plan, because any proposed projects over the maximum R-3 height of three stories, under the circumstances of the particular case existing at the time at which the application is granted, will be detrimental to the health, safety, peace, morals, comfort, or general welfare of persons residing or working in the area or neighborhood of such proposed use or be detrimental or injurious to property and improvements of the adjacent properties, the surrounding area or neighborhood, or to the general welfare of the City, for the following reasons:

A. Any building at 2024 Durant over the maximum R-3 height of three stories will create significant view impacts and natural light impacts to the adjacent low-income senior housing residence at 2020 Durant, which was sponsored to be built in 1969 by the Presbytery of San Francisco (the owners of 2024 Durant) in order to house senior citizen church members and other seniors. The 2020 Durant senior residence was built in a manner that relies upon the scale of the two-story church building at 2024 Durant, and the two buildings function as a pair. Relying on the two-story height of the 2024 Durant church building, the senior citizen church home at 2020 Durant was designed with the majority of east-facing units having only one source of visible light, the east-facing balcony windows. 

The east-facing units of 2020 Durant were designed as studio apartments without skylights or interior windows looking out onto ventilation shafts or courtyards; they depend on having a two-story building on the property just to the east at 2024 Durant so that they can get sufficient natural lighting for their residents. The city should take this unique circumstance into account when considering the zoning of the 2024 Durant property--the current two-story church building played an integral role in the design of the internal units of the building the Presbytery sponsored to house its senior congregation members and other seniors. 

The Presbytery sponsored the construction of the 2020 Durant senior home in such a way that the majority of east-facing units have only one source of natural light, the balcony windows. As such, the Presbytery should have deeded their 2024 Durant property to restrict future building height on the property to two or three stories in order to protect the senior residents of 2020 Durant, knowing that any building on 2024 Durant over two or three stories will block the only source of natural light for the majority of east-facing units in the building. Keep in mind that these are low-income senior citizens, a vulnerable population with special needs who should not be cut off from their only source of natural light by a building at 2024 Durant over two or three stories. The original direction of the Downtown Area Plan would have made this problem moot, by preserving the residential character of the neighborhood and protecting its low-income senior citizens by downzoning 2024 Durant to R-3 zoning. The city erroneously second-guessed Policy LU-7.1 by upzoning 2024 Durant to C-DMU zoning. Now is the time to remedy this mistake and to protect the seniors of 2020 Durant and their single source of natural light by correctly downzoning 2024 Durant to R-3 zoning as directed by the DAP.

B. Privacy and noise concerns: Any building at 2024 Durant over the maximum R-3 height of three stories will substantially affect the privacy of neighboring dwellings at 2020 Durant. As mentioned above, the east-facing balconies are the only source of natural light for the majority of east-facing units in the low-income senior home at 2020 Durant. The seniors will thus face the decision of either keeping their balcony windows unobstructed to continue to receive their only source of natural light, and having the insides of their dwellings exposed to neighbors at any building at 2024 Durant, or will have to cover their balcony windows with curtains for privacy, thus being deprived of their only source of natural light. 2020 Durant was designed in conjunction with the existing scale and structure of the church building at 2024 Durant so that the church residents and current seniors at 2020 Durant could receive natural light without having to worry about their privacy.  

In addition to privacy issues, any building over the maximum R-3 height of three stories at 2024 Durant can house a higher number of tenants and residents, and any commercial use of C-DMU zoned property can host commercial activities, increasing the possibility of increased noise and traffic in the neighborhood and at 2024 Durant, which will negatively impact the low-income seniors next door at 2020 Durant, who depend on peace and quiet in the neighborhood and at 2024 Durant as integral aspects of their quality of life in the Stuart Pratt senior home at 2020 Durant.

C. Parking: It is currently very difficult to find parking on Durant and Channing between Shattuck and Milvia, between Shattuck and Martin Luther King Jr. Way, and in the entire southwest downtown Berkeley area. The Downtown Area Plan's direction to downzone R-4 properties to R-3 properties would alleviate parking difficulties in the future, by restricting commercial development and density in the neighborhood. By upzoning 2024 Durant to C-DMU instead of downzoning it to R-3 zoning, the Planning Commission and City Council have increased commercial development pressures in the southwest downtown residential neighborhood, making the already difficult parking situation potentially much worse. 

D. Commercial intrusion into a residential neighborhood: The Downtown Area Plan directed R-4 residential properties to be downzoned to R-3 residential zoning in the southwest downtown residential neighborhood, to protect it from development pressures exerted by increased infill and commercial development in the downtown core. The church building at 2024 Durant, the parking lot at 2011 Durant, the detached house at 2015 Durant, the apartment building at 2021 Durant, the detached house at 2027 Durant, the apartment building at 2018 Bancroft, the detached house at 2028 Bancroft, and the apartment building at 2030 Bancroft, all at the edge of the southwest Berkeley residential neighborhood, were zoned as R-4 residential properties as part of an R-4 residential district. It was this R-4 residential district that Policy LU-7.1 was designed to protect by directing the downzoning of R-4 properties to R-3 zoning, "except for the north side of Dwight Way east of Shattuck Avenue." (See Policy LU-7.1). 

However, by upzoning 2024 Durant and these other properties from R-4 to C-DMU zoning, in direct violation of Policy LU-7.1, instead of downzoning them to R-3, the Planning Commission and City Council have created the intrusion of commercial development pressures farther into the R-4 residential district and farther into the southwest downtown residential neighborhood. To remedy this exertion of commercial development pressures into the residential neighborhood Policy LU-7.1 directs the city to protect, the Planning Commission and City Council should downzone 2024 Durant from R-4 zoning and subsequent C-DMU zoning to R-3 zoning, as was directed by Policy LU-7.1 of the Downtown Area Plan.


Stephen Stine 


City of Berkeley Downtown Area Plan, Policy LU-7.1:

"Policy LU-7.1: Neighborhood Protections.
Seek to reduce development pressures in residential-only areas, to promote the preservation and rehabilitation of older structures – and to conserve the scale of their historic fabric (see Policy HD-1.5).
a) Maintain the R-2A zoning designation and downzone R-4 areas to R-3 (as shown in Figure LU-1), except for the north side of Dwight Way east of Shattuck Avenue."


Description of 2024 Durant and adjacent properties after the Planning Commission and City Council upzoned 2024 Durant to C-DMU commercial mixed use zoning in violation of Policy LU-7.1 (note the admission that the Buffer area "was the R-4 residential district" before the inappropriate upzoning of 2024 Durant):

"This site is located in the C-DMU Downtown Mixed Use zoning district, and specifically in the Buffer subarea in what was the R-4 residential district before the Downtown Plan and subsequent Ordinance revisions were recently adopted. The Durant side of the project has apartment buildings to the west and across the street, and the parking lot of a large commercial retail building directly to the east. On the Channing side, there are apartment buildings to the east and across the street, with smaller residential structures to the west. While the project is in the C-DMU buffer subarea, the R-3 residential district is directly adjacent to the project site to the east."


Staff recommendation to upzone 2024 Durant to C-DMU commercial zoning from R-4 residential zoning in violation of Policy LU-7.1:
"Modify Figure LU-1: Extend Buffer designation by one parcel at 2024 Durant. See attached map. In a letter to the Planning Commission, property owner has requested that 60-foot building height limit now allowed by R-4 zoning be retained. Buildings that are 4-and 5-stories surround property."


Letter from 2024 Durant property owners requesting an upzoning from R-4 to C-DMU commercial zoning:

Blueprints of 2020 Durant showing that the majority of units on the east side are studio apartments with only one source of natural light, their balcony windows (see pages 4 and 5) 










Clean Up Iceland

By Robert and Dorothy Bryant
Tuesday August 14, 2012 - 10:51:00 AM

We live one block from ICELAND and we want to thank each and every one of the volunteers who worked to clean up the filth that had accumulated around it. But this wonderful volunteer action is no substitute for a permanent solution to this abandoned and derelict building. 

We urge our City Government to put pressure on the irresponsible owner(s) of this eyesore, this waste of precious urban space, and, from previous reports, a possible source of danger from decaying materials and substances which once were part of the machinery that maintained the ice skating rink.

Global Warming Are We Paving the Way to Inaction?

By Shahir Masri, MS
Sunday August 12, 2012 - 11:25:00 AM

What will it mean to teach today’s students both sides of the “global warming debate?” Will this translate to a politically balanced and scientifically sound education? Well that is the consensus among members of California’s Los Alamitos School Board who now require the District to teach “controversial issues” such as global warming in a balanced way that presents both sides of the issue. Just because two theories surround an issue, however, does not make that issue controversial or mean that both theories deserve balanced attention. In the case of global warming, because theories surrounding the issue are not supported equally by the scientific community, these theories should not be given equal representation in the classroom.  

There is a critical distinction to be made between things that are equal and things that are simply represented equally in the media. While most scientists and scientific bodies including the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the National Academy of Sciences, the American Meteorological Society, and the Geophysical Union all agree that human activity is causing climate change, industry think tanks have brilliantly exploited the journalistic tendency towards “balanced” reporting, resulting in the industry view, supported only by a minority of scientists, receiving nearly equal coverage alongside the mainstream scientific consensus. This disproportionate reporting which has assigned equal coverage to the counterargument surrounding global warming has created the illusion of a major controversy, and in turn has had the unfortunate effect of engendering confusion amongst policymakers that stalls industry-directed emissions regulations.  

“We define a topic to be controversial if it has more than one widely held view,” said Assistant Superintendent Sherry Kropp following the Board’s decision. This definition, however, ignores the necessary emphasis that should be placed on the legitimacy of a given view, whether widely held or not. That said, the contrarian view towards global warming is primarily shared not by climate experts but rather the general public as well as conservative politicians. The overwhelming majority of climate scientists maintain that the global temperature is in fact increasing and that human activities are linked with this observed increase. Skeptics need only turn to reputable scientific journals to discover that the literature refuting this link is scarce. Therefore, it is not only misleading to depict global warming as a controversial issue, but illogical and potentially destructive to do so within the framework of education. It is today’s generation that will overwhelmingly bear the effects of climate change and the responsibility of its mitigation. So by misinforming this generation to believe that the science on the issue is divided, what kind of future are we paving? It is not the scientific community within which a division exists, but rather the political arena, and such politics has no place in our classrooms. 




New: THE PUBLIC EYE: Karl Rove’s Monstrous Second Act: The Romneyan

By Bob Burnett
Wednesday August 29, 2012 - 04:45:00 PM

In the 2000 Presidential campaign, Karl Rove created The Dubya. Now the evil genius of Republican politics is back with his second monster, The Romneyan. Will Rove’s creation win again? 

Sensing that if Mitt Romney did not shake up his campaign he would lose to Barack Obama, Karl Rove anointed Paul Ryan as Romney’s running mate and joined them with the “Vulcan mind meld.” Rove believes he has created the perfect GOP candidate, 2012’s version of George W. Bush. 

Dubya has disappeared into the bowels of Texas and many Republicans pretend he was never President, but in 2000 they were happy to have him as their presidential candidate. While Democrats viewed Dubya as inept and ill prepared, Republicans saw him as the perfect foil to the wooden Al Gore. Most important, George W. Bush unified the GOP; he was a rich businessman as well as a born-again Christian. And Bush’s creator, the evil political scientist Karl Rove, was able to sell Dubya to Independents. Twelve years later, Rove has done it again; Romenyan has unified the GOP and possibly can be sold to Independents as a viable alternative to Barack Obama. 

A recent Pew Research poll indicated why neither Party can win the presidency on their own. Pew projects that 10 percent of potential voters, mostly young people, will not vote on November 6th. Pew allocates the remaining 90 percent to three groups: “Mostly Republican,” 25 percent, “Mostly Independent,” 35 percent, and “Mostly Democratic,” 40 percent.  

To win in November, Mitt Romney has to first hold the Republican 25 percent base. According to Pew this includes “Staunch Conservatives” (11 percent) and “Main Street Republicans” (14 percent). Staunch Conservatives are older white voters who “take extremely conservative positions on nearly all issues – on the size and role of government, on economics, foreign policy, social issues and moral concerns. Most agree with the Tea Party and… very strongly disapprove of Barack Obama’s job performance. “ Main Street Republicans are similar but not as conservative; for example, they are more likely to house anti-corporation sentiment. (Just outside the “Mostly Republican” group is a bloc of Independents, “Libertarians” [10 percent], that typically vote for the Republican presidential candidate.) Before he added Paul Ryan as his running mate, Romney had a problem; Staunch Conservatives did not embrace him. Romney’s problems disappeared with the addition of Ryan; Tea-Party types love him, as do evangelical Christians – Ryan is an extremely conservative Catholic

Romneyan will hold onto 35 percent of the vote (Republicans and Libertarians). To win, the monster has to carve out another 15 percent from Independents and Democrats. To accomplish this, the Republican campaign is being orchestrated byKarl Rove

Rove will use four tactics to gain votes for Romneyan. After the conclusion of next week’s Republican convention, Republicans will have a money advantage -- at least $60 million not counting the additional millions from conservative super PACs. First they’ll launch a campaign to humanize Mitt Romney. (Recent polls indicate that more prospective voters view Romney negatively than they do positively.) 

Next, Rove and company will demonize Obama. We’ll see some of their ads on national TV but the majority will be run in the key swing states: Colorado, Florida, Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin. So far, the ads have been blatant lies, but that hasn’t deterred the dark forces of Rove. 

Third, Republicans are ramping up their Get Out the Vote operation. 

Finally, as was the case in 2000 and 2004, Rove’s evil minions will attempt to suppress the vote in key swing states. That’s what behind the Pennsylvania law requiring voters to show a photo id. “GOP legislators in 34 states have proposed voting rights restrictions that would slash the number of eligible voters this election.” 

The good news is that by picking Paul Ryan as his running mate, Mitt Romney has shown voters how conservative he really is. Recent polls indicate, “About 52 percent of self-described middle-class adults say President Barack Obama's policies in a second term would help the middle class,” as compared with 42 percent for Romney. And similar polls indicate that voters in swing states “trust President Obama to handle Medicare” and dislike Romneyan’s voucher plans. 

But the election will come down to the votes of women. In 2008, Obama carried 56 percent of the female vote (in 2004, John Kerry only carried 51 percent of that segment). Political columnist Ron Brownstein describes educated white women as Obama’s “last line of defense.” That’s why the selection of Paul Ryan is important; Ryan is the most strident anti-choice candidate ever selected. He opposes contraception and abortions in all circumstances and wants to defund Planned Parenthood.  

While Romneyan may seem like the perfect 2012 candidate to Karl Rove, it is the most conservative duo the GOP has ever nominated. Even with a multi-million-dollar funding advantage, it will be difficult for Rove to sell Romneyan as “compassionate” conservatives or either one as “a uniter not a divider.” Ultimately women voters will decide the election. Stay tuned 

Bob Burnett is a Berkeley writer. He can be reached at bburnett@sonic.net 

New: Romney, Ryan, and Rand: The Republican Trinity

By Bob Burnett
Friday August 17, 2012 - 12:51:00 PM

Sensing that if he did not shake up his campaign he would lose to Barack Obama, Mitt Romney anointed Paul Ryan as his running mate. Thereby, Romney assumed all of Ryan’s baggage, including the infamous Ryan budget, and the Wisconsin Congressman’s support for Ayn Rand’s “Objectivism.”  

As is true with many hardcore conservatives, Paul Ryan is a devotee of reactionary novelist Ayn Rand. In a recent NEW YORKER article, staff writer Ryan Lizza noted that Congressman Ryan often mentions Rand: “The reason I got involved in public service, by and large, if I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand… The fight we are in here… is a fight of individualism versus collectivism.” In 2009, Ryan said, “what’s unique about what’s happening today in government, in the world, in America, is that it’s as if we’re living in an Ayn Rand novel right now. I think Ayn Rand did the best job of anybody to build a moral case of capitalism, and that morality of capitalism is under assault.” 

Ayn Rand first came to national prominence in 1943 with the publication of “The Fountainhead.” In 1957 she published “Atlas Shrugged,” which promoted her philosophy, Objectivism: “The concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute.” Rand promoted laissez-faire capitalism as the only moral social system, because it fostered individualism. She denounced all others as “Statism” or collectivism. 

Objectivism is more extreme than Reaganomics, the ideology that has guided Republicans for three decades. Although Ronald Reagan decried government, he focused on lowering taxes and eliminating governmental oversight of capitalism. Ayn Rand believed the only role for government is the military, police, and judiciary. Therefore her Republican disciples want to eliminate the social safety net. The Paul Ryan budget attacks the core components of the safety net: Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Food Stamps, and affordable Health Care.  

By tapping Paul Ryan as his running mate, Mitt Romney has adopted the Ryan Budget and Objectivism. As a result, Romney turned the political conversation away from the stagnant US economy to political philosophy: the proper role of government – Objectivism/Individualism versus Collectivism/Community Action. Romney and Obama will debate what it means to be an American. 

Since the founding of the United States, we’ve treasured two American myths. One about individualism, “the triumphant individual,” and the other about community action, “the benevolent community.” Robert Reich wrote that these myths are woven into the fabric of America. “The Triumphant Individual… is the familiar tale of the little guy who works hard, takes risks, believes in himself, and eventually gains wealth, fame, and honor.” It’s the story of Abe Lincoln and more recently, Steve Jobs. “The Benevolent Community… is the story of neighbors and friends who roll up their sleeves and pitch in for the common good.” It’s what happens when neighbors get together to hunt for a missing child, fight a flood or fire, or care for the needy.  

By adopting Objectivism, Romney and Ryan decry community action and disparage the notion of the benevolent community. Republicans argue that if you are disadvantaged – poor, sick, elderly, or just down on your luck – you should suck it up because it only takes willpower to become triumphant. 

Neither Mitt Romney nor Paul Ryan fit the profile of the triumphant individual. Both come from backgrounds of wealth and privilege. (Except for a brief sojourn as an intern in the family business, Ryan has been a politician all his life.) The person who best meets the profile of the triumphant individual is Barack Obama. But you don’t hear Obama touting Objectivism or arguing that community action is passé. 

< To the contrary, in this year’s State-of-the-Union address, Obama eloquently invoked community action, “Americans… know that this generation’s success is only possible because past generations felt a responsibility to each other, and to the future of their country, they know our way of life will only endure if we feel that same sense of shared responsibility.” 

Obama defends individualism and community action. He sees them as essential elements of “the American promise.” In his State-of-the-Union address the President explained, “The defining issue of our time is how to keep that promise alive… We can either settle for a country where a shrinking number of people do really well while a growing number of Americans barely get by, or we can restore an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, and everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules.”  

By choosing Paul Ryan as his running mate, Mitt Romney has not only accepted the Wisconsin conservative’s baggage, but also refocused the political conversation and exposed himself as a champion of unfettered individualism.

SENIOR POWER A Tale of Two Sisters

By Helen Rippier Wheeler
Friday August 17, 2012 - 01:00:00 PM

Our books are about being old, single, and independent professional women. 

We grew up in North Carolina. Our father became America’s first elected, black Episcopal bishop. Together with our eight siblings, we were raised on the campus of St. Augustine's School (now College) in Raleigh. Sister and I moved to Harlem during the World War I era. After we received graduate degrees from Columbia University, I taught in New York City public schools, and she was a well known dentist. We were among the first women in New York City who were professional persons of African American descent. 

Our 1993 oral history book, Having Our Say, was a best-seller. Whoopi Goldberg recorded it, and a hit play was made from it. It was on the 1997 Berkeley Repertory Theatre’s playbill. Diahann Carroll and Ruby Dee played us in the 1999 TV movie version. 

We did another book together – our Book of Everyday Wisdom – in which we counseled with examples on such subjects as when a lady should confess her age, why life was slower when trains were faster, how young people can stay out of trouble, the difference between getting and earning, how to make money in hard times, why men are a heap of trouble and how women get into it with them, and preparing to die by having the faith to live.  

We never married. We lived together until my sister’s death in 1995. I did a third book, reflections on life without her, about being On My Own at 107.  

We are Sarah “Sadie” Louise Delany (1889-1999) and Dr. Annie “Bessie” Elizabeth Delany (1891-1995), "discovered" by New York Times writer Amy Hill Hearth, who visited us to write a feature story about these unusual sisters. We had both passed the 100-year mark and still lived together alone in our own home. Fascinated with our intelligence, wit and humor, and realizing the uniqueness of our view of 20th century American history, Hearth convinced us to tell our story, and she helped us write the book. It was instantly popular, a best-seller.  


Hearth then worked with the sisters to publish The Delany Sisters' Book of Everyday Wisdom in 1994. Hearth’s interest in telling people's stories was the reason she tracked down the reclusive Delany sisters and asked for an interview. The Dallas Morning News, in its review of Having Our Say, wrote that Hearth "worked carefully to preserve the speech patterns and personalities of each sister in the text so the stories unfold as complementary harmonies of the same melody.”  

Hearth writes in her preface, “Their story, as the Delany sisters like to say, is not meant as 'black' history or 'women's' history but American history." 

Fifty-four year old Hearth is an American author who specializes in stories about women. With Hearth's contributions, credited as an advisor and production consultant, the Delaney books’ film adaptation featured Amy Madigan in the role of Hearth. For her work on the film, Hearth received the George Foster Peabody Award for Excellence in Broadcasting. Her first novel, Miss Dreamsville and the Collier County Women's Literary Society, is set in Florida circa 1962, to be published this fall.  


August 26th is Women's Equality Day to commemorate passage of the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution. Fifty years after American men were enabled to vote, it provided American women with full voting rights. In 1920, women got a piece of the action. Women's Equality Day was instituted by Congressional Representative Bella Abzug when she was 60 years old. (She died of breast cancer and heart disease in 1998.)  

What’s this got to do with senior citizens and senior power? An amendment is defined as a change for the better; improvement. A correction. A revision or change. Most senior citizens are women. Most low-income seniors are women. Former National Institute on Aging director Robert N. Butler, M.D. (1927-2010) believed that “the problems of old age in America are largely the problems of women.” 

Longer life expectancy, lower earnings, and failure to take advance of retirement benefits are significant retirement challenges faced by women. The biggest is having less money than men to fund their retirement years.  

Women generally live longer than men, but they continue to have lower earnings and less retirement savings than men, which causes women to have lower retirement incomes and to be much more likely to spend their retirement years in poverty, especially if they become widows. (The Government Accountability Office found that in 2010, women working full time earned a median of $36,900 compared to $47,700 for men.) Over the last decade, the median income of women age 65+ was approximately 25% lower than among their male counterparts. Women also spend more time than men out of the workforce caring for family members. Women who retired at age 62 in 2000 were in the workforce an average of 12 years less than men. This makes it especially difficult for women to accumulate adequate retirement account balances that will last the rest of their lives. 

Because women generally live longer than men and tend to have older husbands, they often spend the final years of their lives as widows. The GAO found 70% of women age 85+ were widowed, compared to only 24% of men age 85+. Divorce or widowhood occurring late in life can be disproportionally devastating to women's retirement security. Women's income fell by 37% upon widowhood, while men's income fell 22% when they became widowed. [US News. Emily Brandon August 6, 2012] 




HUD Housing Programs: Tenants’ Rights, 4th edition will be available in September 2012. (For information, 415-546.7000 x3108. ) Authored by National Housing Law Project attorneys, the Green Book, as it is known, was originally published in 1981. A copy of the current edition is in the UC,B Law Library. NHLP’s mission is advancement of housing justice for low-income people. (703 Market 2000, SanFrancisco, CA 94013)  

An invitation. Candidates for election are welcome to share statements of their accomplishments and plans vis a vis senior citizens and elders. Please email them to me at pen136@dslextreme.com.  


MARK YOUR CALENDAR: August, September, October 2012. Be sure to confirm. You’re welcome to share by email news of future events and deadlines that may interest boomers (born between 1946 and 1964), seniors and elders (approximately two million people over age 90 in the United States.) Daytime, free, and Bay Area events preferred. pen136@dslextreme.com.  

Saturdays, August 18, Sept. 15, and Oct. 20. 1 P.M. Oakland Public Library Rockridge Branch, 5366 College Ave. Free. Writers’ Support & Critique Group. 510-597-5017 

Mondays, August 20, and 27. 6 P.M. Evening computer class. Central Berkeley Public Library. Central Berkeley Public Library, 2090 Kittredge. Free. 510-981-6241.  

Monday, August 20. 7 P.M. An evening with Pat Mullan and her jazz quartet. A concert of jazz arrangements and maybe a little classical music on the side that will be delivered in the unique trombone style. Kensington Library, 61 Arlington Avenue. Free. 510- 524-3043. 

Wednesday, August 22. 1:30-2:30P.M. Great Books discussion group. Selections from The Bhagavad Gita. Rosalie Gonzales, group facilitator. Albany Library, 1247 Marin Av. Free. 510-526-3720.  

Wednesday, August 22. 1:30 P.M. Gray Panthers meeting. North Berkeley Senior Center, 1901 Hearst, corner MLK. 510-981-5190 

Thursdays, August 23 and 30. 10 A.M. Computers for beginners. Central Berkeley Public Library, 2090 Kittredge. Free. 510-981-6241 

Monday, August 27. 7 P.M. Book Club. Kensington Library, 61 Arlington Ave. August’s book is Wilkie Collins’ Moonstone. Free. 510-524-3043.  

Tuesday, August 28. 7 P.M. Readers Anonymous. Book Club. Moshin Hamid’s Reluctant Fundamentalist. El Cerrito Library, 6510 Stockton Avenue. Free. 510-526-7512. 

Tuesday, Sept. 4. 6:30 P.M. “The Castoffs,” Kensington Library’s Knitting Club, at 61 Arlington Av. Enjoy an evening of knitting, show and tell and yarn exchange. All levels are welcome and some help will be provided. Free 510-524-3043 

Wednesdays, Sept. 5, Oct. 3, Nov. 7 and Dec. 5. 6-8 P.M. Lawyer in the Library. Albany Library, 1247 Marin Av. Free 15 minute consultation with an attorney who will clarify your situation, advise you of your options, get you started with a solution, and make a referral when needed. Sign up in person at the Reference desk or call 510-526-3720 ext. 5 during library hours. 

Thursdays, Sept. 6, 13, 20 and 27. 10 A.M. Computers for beginners. Central Berkeley Public Library, 2090 Kittredge Free. 510-981-6241.  

Thursday, Sept. 6. 6:30-7:30 P.M. Argentine Tango. Berkeley Public Library north branch. 1170 The Alameda. Lecture and Live Performance by Jurek Mazur from the Academia de Tango Argentino. Free. 510-981-6250 

Monday, Sept. 10. 12:30 PM - 1:30 PM Albany YMCA/Albany Library Brown Bag Lunch Speaker's Forum: Dr. Joel Parrott of the Oakland Zoo & President, CEO and Staff Veterinarian of the The Oakland Zoo: a presentation for adults -- with Animals. The forum is co-sponsored by the Albany YMCA and the Albany Library, 1247 Marin Av. Free. Contact: Ronnie Davis 510-526-3720 x16  

Monday, Sept. 10. 7 P.M. Kensington Library, 61 Arlington Avenue. Searching for Democracy: California Reads in West County. As part of the California Reads program, Delphine Hirasuna, author of The Art of the Gaman: Arts and Crafts from the Japanese American Internment Camps, 1942-1946 (Gaman is a Japanese word that has no exact equivalent in English-- endurance, patience, persistence, forbearance and dignity in the face of pain, frustration and adversity,) will speak about her book and the experience of Japanese-Americans during World War II, when they were forcibly removed from their homes and interned in remote locations. For more information, visit www.calhum.org. Free. 510-524-3043.  


Mondays, Sept. 10, 17 and 24. Evening Computer Class. Central Berkeley Public Library, 2090 Kittredge. Free. 510-981-6241.  

Wednesdays, Sept. 12 and 26. 1:30 P.M. Union City Library, 34007 Alvarado-Niles Road. 510-745-1464. Fremont Main library, 2400 Stevenson Blvd. 510-745-1401. HEALTHY EATING FOR OLDER ADULTS: My Neighbor's Kitchen Table. Nutritionists Mary Collett, MPH and RD, Mary Louise Zernicke, MS, MPH, RD, CSG will discuss the special nutritional needs of seniors, including how our traditional foods can fit into a healthy eating plan, taking supplements and much more. Free. 510-795-2627. For information about other Alameda County libraries’ Older Adult Services, contact Patricia Ruscher at 510-745-1491.  

Thursdays, Sept. 13, 20 and 27. 6 P.M. Lawyers in the Library. Central Berkeley Public Library , 2090 Kittredge. Free. 510-981-6241.  

Saturday, Sept. 15. 1-3:30 P.M. Making Sense of the American Civil War. Central Berkeley Public Library, 2090 Kittredge. Guest lecturer Professor Ari Kelman of UC Davis will speak on the legacy of the American Civil War and emancipation, and lead one of three simultaneous book discussions scheduled to start immediately after the lecture. Free. 510-981-6241. 

Wednesday, Sept. 19. 6:30-7:30 P.M. Author Talk. North branch, Berkeley Public Library, 1170 The Alameda. Author Mani Feniger talks about her book The Woman in the Photograph: The Search for My Mother's Past. Free. 510-981-6250 

Thursdays, Sept. 20 and 27. 12 Noon. Literacy Reading Club with Katherine Gee. Practice English conversation at the Literacy Reading Club. Meet other adults, build confidence in your speaking and discuss a good book! Albany Library, 1247 Marin Av. Free. 510-745-1480. 

Thursdays, Sept. 20 and 27. 12:15 PM - 2:15 PM Literacy Reading Club with Lisa Wenzel. Practice English conversation at the Literacy Reading Club. Meet other adults, build confidence in your speaking and discuss a good book! Albany Library, 1247 Marin Av. Free. 510-745-1480.  

Monday, Sept. 24. 7 P.M. Kensington Library Book Club: The Legend of the Fire Horse Woman by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston. Three generations of Japanese women are told through the eyes of Sayo, the family's matriarch. Her story takes place both in 1942, at the Manzanar camp, and back in 1902, when she came to America as a bride. Houston vividly re-creates the limitations and loneliness of life in the Manzanar camp. Each meeting starts with a poem selected and read by a member with a brief discussion following the reading. New members are always welcome. 61 Arlington Av. Free. 510-524-3043. 

Tuesday, Sept. 25. 3-4 P.M. "Read & Share" Book Club (formerly "Tea and Cookies") Central Berkeley Public Library, 2090 Kittredge. Free. 510-981-6100. 

Wednesday, Sept. 26. 1:30-2:30P.M. Great Books discussion group. Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart. Rosalie Gonzales, group facilitator. Free. Albany Library, 1247 Marin Av. 510-526-3720. Come to one meeting, or all meetings. Books are available at the Library.  

Tuesday, Oct. 2. 5 P.M. 5366 College Ave. Oakland Public Library Rockridge Branch. Lawyers in the library. Free. 510-597-5017.

Wednesdays, Oct. 3, Nov. 7 and Dec. 5. 6-8 P.M. Lawyer in the Library. Albany Library, 1247 Marin Av. Free 15 minute consultation with an attorney who will clarify your situation, advise you of your options, get you started with a solution, and make a referral when needed. Sign up in person at the Reference desk or call 510-526-3720 ext. 5 during library hours. 

Thursday, Oct. 11. 7-8:45 P.M. Cafe Literario Berkeley Public Library north branch, 1170 The Alameda. Facilitated book discussions in Spanish. October title: Carlos Fuentes’ La muerte de Artemio Cruz. 510-981-6250 

Wednesday, October 24. 1:30-2:30P.M. Great Books discussion group. Troth, by Gregor von Rezzori. Rosalie Gonzales, group facilitator. Albany Library, 1247 Marin Av. 510-526-3720.  

New: ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Institutionalization, Diet and Death

By Jack Bragen
Friday August 17, 2012 - 12:54:00 PM

Persons with mental illness who do not have a job tend to be sucked into institutionalization. The mental health treatment system has the ability to grab a person and keep them coming back. This is an entirely different subject than today's and deserves its separate column, which I will write in the future. 

Institutionalized persons with mental illness usually have an unhealthy diet. Mental health treatment practitioners seem to ignore health concerns of their clientele and to instead opt for foods that will pacify. If those being treated fall asleep in their chair every afternoon due in part to a heavy lunch, it makes them easier to manage. 

Hamburgers and hot dogs, burritos, sandwiches, Chinese food, pizza, and sugar-laden cake are all on the list. Never mind the fact that the clientele are becoming morbidly obese. Importance isn't given to our health. And to many who are in charge of us, it is not a big deal when one of us occasionally drops dead of a heart attack. 

Our lives are not taken seriously. We are treated as if we were a bunch of stuffed animals, pet hamsters, or maybe Teletubbies. This can be upsetting if we have the same fear of death as anyone else, or if we assign importance to our own lives despite being told we aren't important. 

We are being killed off by medication, high calorie diets, lack of exercise, and cigarette smoke. We do not receive the same level of preventative medicine as do the counselors who hold themselves superior to us. Nor is it common, when our heart disease has progressed, for us to receive the treatment intended for people who have already become cardiac patients. 

The mental health system won't help us with our physical health; therefore we must take steps on our own to remedy this problem. Trying to completely revise diet all at once tends to backfire and put us back at the beginning. Instead, what works is to make small, sustainable changes at a time, and make the transition gradual toward healthier habits. It begins with picking up one piece of fruit, or with eating one tomato or one green bean. 

Add some frozen vegetables to your pot of ramen. Remember that it takes the veggies longer to cook than the ramen, so put the vegetables in the boiling water first. Add some frozen peas to your mac and cheese. If hungry, pick up an orange a banana or an apple. Find out which kind of dressing will make a salad appetizing. Salad or pieces of fruit serve the purpose of filling you up and thus they displace higher calorie foods. If you must go through a drive thru, you can order one hamburger and not two or three. 

These changes may not create drastic weight loss. So far I have lost ten pounds. However, had I not made these small changes in diet, I could have gained more weight. The idea is to change eating habits permanently rather than going on an extreme diet that can't be maintained. And then the trend is to be healthier and slimmer over a long period of time. I have also managed to improve my blood sugar numbers so that I no longer qualify as diabetic. This is important for those mental health consumers who take Zyprexa or other "atypical" antipsychotics that raise blood sugar. (I also have cut out most of the ice cream and candy habit.) 

I have yet to defeat the cigarette demon, but when I do, you will hear about it! 

Our lives as persons with mental illness are as valuable as those of others. We deserve to live a long time and in good health. We can grant this to ourselves, given that we live in a situation where we control our diet. If a person is institutionalized, it is the responsibility of the caregiver to provide healthy food. This has not happened.

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Those Who Accept/Don't Accept Treatment

By Jack Bragen
Sunday August 12, 2012 - 11:24:00 AM

There are two types of persons who have severe mental illness. These are the ones who recognize that they have an illness and who accept treatment versus those who do not, and who incorrectly believe they are not ill. After the second or third relapse that happens subsequent to quitting medication, it should be clear to a person that they weren't misdiagnosed. Or, if they were misdiagnosed to begin with, the diagnosis has become accurate. 

Some of the people are dangerous who do not accept the treatment which is offered. I know of a man who is now deceased and who was my friend, and who refused treatment. And this man ended up getting violent and throwing a heavy steel chair from a second story window. This could easily have resulted in severe property damage, not to mention the death or maiming of anyone who might be standing below. It was fortunate in this incident that nothing was below but the asphalt parking lot, since an innocent bystander could have been harmed, and also, I could have been blamed. 

How did this happen? I was denying the gentleman access to my apartment because he had been abusing and bullying me in my home for three weeks. He then came in through the closed window and began throwing objects. He also shattered most of the windows in the apartment. 

This man was an extreme example of someone in complete denial that he had a problem, and to support this denial, he was harmful and potentially deadly to others. This is the sort of thing that ruins life for all persons with mental illness, since most of us do not hurt anyone and will suffer as a result of rights being taken away. 

Having an illness that needs treatment, the lack of insight about, is considered a symptom. Having insight concerning one's illness may require time to develop, and for this to happen, the individual may need to be forced to take medication. And then, hopefully, at some point, the person's better judgment will return or may develop if absent to begin with, and that person will think clearly enough to develop that insight. The man I talked about in paragraphs above was someone who never "got it." He was too invested in proving himself right and the system wrong. 

Some people's psychosis makes them immune to suffering. The lack of the capacity to suffer causes a lack of the capacity to learn from one's mistakes. Taking antipsychotic or other medications can entail a great deal of discomfort. And yet, it is an action that a responsible person with mental illness must carry out. Otherwise, others will pay for a person's mistakes, and others will often be forced to clean up a person's mess. "Others" include family members who may care very much for their ill relative. 

Admitting that one has had a "wrong" belief or that one's actions were wrong is a sign of adaptability as well as flexibility. If someone's brain is excessively impaired by mental illness, it may prevent them from having the ability to correct their mistakes. When clarity is finally found, and this doesn't happen for everyone, the person may discover that they weren't perceived very well. A person can go back over their life and can find a series of mistakes that were created by ignorance. Forgiving oneself at this point is essential. If you don't have compassion for yourself, who will?

ECLECTIC RANT: Helping the Elderly: California's Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program

By Ralph E. Stone
Sunday August 12, 2012 - 11:33:00 AM

Californians are getting older. The number of state residents over 60 grew from 1.6 million in 1950 to 4.7 million in 2000. By 2020, nearly 20 percent of California’s population is expected to be 60 or older. By 2050, that number is expected to be 25 percent. Many senior citizens end up in nursing homes, residential care facilities for the elderly, or assisted living facilities. In many cases, a senior citizen must go outside the long-term care system for help with a complaint. The Ombudsman Program can help resolve complaints and advocate for facility improvements. 

"Ombudsman," by the way, is an indigenous Norwegian, Danish, and Swedish term; it is a person who acts as a trusted intermediary between either the state (or elements of it) or an organization, and some internal or external constituency, while representing not only, but mostly, the broad scope of constituent interests. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ombudsman) 

In 1965, Congress passed the Older Americans Act (OAA), 42 U.S.C. 3056 et seq., which is the major vehicle for the organization and delivery of social and nutrition services for older citizens and their caregivers. Under authorization of the OAA, in 1975, the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman program was mandated, 42 U.S.C. 3056g. In order to receive federal funds, each state must establish and operate an Office of the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman. Now there are ombudsman programs in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. 

The California State Long-Term Ombudsman Program was established and placed under the Department of Aging pursuant to the Welfare and Institutions Code, Sections 9700-9701 (www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/displaycode?section=wic&group=09001-10000&file=9700-9701) There are 35 local Ombudsman Programs, including Alameda, Contra Costa, San Francisco, Marin, San Mateo, and Santa Clara.  

The Ombudsman Program's mission is to identify, investigate, and resolve complaints made by, or on behalf of residents of long-term care facilities that relate to action, inaction, or decisions that may adversely affect their health, safety, welfare, and rights. In July 2011, there were 7,680 Residential Care Facilities for the Elderly (RCFE) with 170,904 beds, and 1,289 Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNF) with 121,514 beds. 

According to the California Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program Annual Report for fiscal year 2010-11 (Annual Report), the five most frequent nursing facility complaints were (1) resident conflict, including roommate; (2) accident or injury of unknown origin, falls, improper handling; (3) physical abuse, including corporal punishment; (4) failure to respond to requests for assistance; and (5) dignity, respect-staff attitudes. 

According to the Annual Report, the five most frequent assistant living facility complaints were (1) medications-administration, organization; (2) resident conflict, including roommate; (3) food service-quantity, quality, variation, choice, condiments, utensils, menu; (4) equipment/building-disrepair, hazard, poor lighting, fire safety, security; and (5) accident or injury of unknown origin, falls, improper handling. 

The total number of complaints received by the Ombudsman Program was 38,918 for fiscal year 2010-11 with the California resolution rate of 69.14 percent. The Ombudsman Program received 5,959 abuse complaints in fiscal year 2010-11; 1,534 physical abuse; 527 sexual abuse; 852 verbal/psychological; 510 financial; 891 gross neglect; and 1,645 resident to resident physical or sexual abuse.  

Trained volunteers are an integral part of the Ombudsman Program. My wife, for example, is now training to be a volunteer. Her social work background and fluency in Spanish should be well-suited for the program. 

The California Ombudsman Program has a 24-hour Ombudsman crisisline at 1-800-231-4024. In addition, there is a Senior Information line at 1-800-510-2020. For an overview of California's Long-Term Ombudsman Program, see (www.aging.ca.gov/Programs/LTCOP)

MY COMMONPLACE BOOK: (a diary of excerpts copied from printed books, with comments added by the reader.)

By Dorothy Bryant
Tuesday August 14, 2012 - 10:57:00 AM

There is no man whom it would so little become to speak of memory, for I find scarcely a trace of it in myself.— “Of Liars”, Essays, Michel de Montaigne (1533—1592)

As my brain leaks more and more memories, I happily discover Montaigne’s list of the advantages of his poor memory. 

Among these advantages are that people can be assured of his speaking briefly, never being long-winded; he can’t remember enough to fill in more details. Even better are the benefits gained when injuries received from other people slip his mind—forgetting an insult leaves his mind free of bitter thoughts, and eases everyday social contacts. 

Best of all, faulty memory increases virtue, containing a built-in guard against telling lies; the would-be liar knows s/he can’t remember enough details to keep a false story straight and consistent. 

These disabilities converge to rescue us from the faults of being over-ambitious, seeking an advantage, a high position over others. It takes an excellent memory to keep all the flattering, false, self-aggrandizing claims straight. We forgetful ones could never get away with it. 

(My only regret is that I waited so long to discover that the “classic” Montaigne essays were not heavy or solemnly didactic, but the often amusing, even light-hearted reflections of a sensible old man.) 





(Send the Berkeley Daily Planet a page from your own Commonplace Book)

Arts & Events

Hermano: A Story of Brotherhood, Family and Soccer

By Gar Smith
Monday August 27, 2012 - 11:40:00 AM

In the ten years since Bend it Like Beckham first lit up the screen, a major soccer movie has managed to make it to US theaters about once every three years. In 2005, it was Goal: The Dream Begins. In 2009, it was Rudo y Cursi (with Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna). And now, soccer-loving cineastes can look forward to Hermano, a fast-paced, dust-kicking box-office hit from Venezuela, directed by Marcel Rasquin.

Hermano (originally released in 2010) won numerous international film awards (including the Moscow, Naples and Havana Film Festivals) on its way to an Academy Awards nomination as Best Foreign Film for 2011.

The story line of Hermano parallels the tale in Rudo y Cursi — two competitive brothers vie for commercial stardom on a national team and encounter challenges, disappointments and gang violence along the way. But where Rudo y Cursi had comic moments and musical interludes (when one brother tries to use his soccer stardom as a springboard for a musical career), Hermano has the kind of grit associated with a documentary. It's got the rivalry, it's got the gangs, and it's got more soccer battles than a Jackie Chan movie has kung fu fights. 

The film begins with the wail of an abandoned baby surrounded by garbage and a backdrop of deflated soccer balls near a pedestrian bridge in La Ceniza, a Caracas slum. On the bridge, a young boy hears the cry and, believing it is a stray cat, runs away from his mother to collect the prize. When the mother catches up to the little boy, he is frozen, starring at the weeping baby. The woman grabs her son and turns away. And then, she turns back… 

Hace Dieciséis Años 

Sixteen years later, we rejoin the two now-teenage brothers. Julio, the older (Eliú Armas) and Daniel (Fernando Moreno), who answers to the nickname "Gato" (cat). Julio is the taller and stronger of the two. Gato clearly idolizes him. Julio, however, both dotes on his adopted brother and mercilessly challenges and tests him as they compete for their mother's attention. (The film benefits from the fact that both young actors are exceptional soccer players.) Their mother, Graciela (Marcela Ciron), is a fully realized woman who is raising two demanding boys in a home filled with non-stop bickering and absolute mutual love. In the film, Graciela runs a successful small business, creating exquisite home-baked cakes for neighbors in the La Ceniza barrio. (In real life, Marcela Ciron is also a professional soccer player in Caracas' champion Female Soccer League.) 

Both boys play soccer for the local barrio team. Towering Julio is team captain and diminutive Gato is a nimble striker and (as is typically the case in such stories) is described as a unique player with "a gift." When the two boys play together, their team is unbeatable. 

Naturally, when Gato is offered a chance to try out for the Caracas Football Club, he stuns the hard-knuckled team owner by refusing to sign a contract unless his brother is also allowed to join the club. (The same device also plays out in Rudo y Cursi.) 

Predictably, there is a classic "standoff" game on the soccer field that will determine whether the boys will share a professional destiny. But before that happens, there is a tragedy that tears the family apart. 

Soccer Clubs and Barrio Gangs 

A large part of the film's success has to do with its attention to the insidious reach of the barrio's gangster politics. Julio has money because he secretly serves as a part-time enforcer for the local drug dealers. Gato is still naïve — knowing little about gangs or girls. 

Julio and Gato spend the early part of the film joshing and punching each other in a well-natured sibling rivalry filled with ribald jokes and a bracing torrent of grinning, obscene insults. 

But things darken during a nighttime party when the local barrio leader shows up. He makes his first appearance slowly walking into the background in a large crowd of dancing kids and — even surrounded by a crowd and at a distance of 30 feet — you immediate know this guy is bad news. He's the kind of manipulator who lets you know he'll be your "protector" — "or else." 

The uncertainty deepens one afternoon when mild-mannered Gato is surrounded by some street kids. At first, they seem like playful futbol fans but suddenly — and unsettlingly — their hijinks turn aggressive and potentially deadly. 

What Else Can Go Wrong? Plenty 

Julio and Gato become increasingly estranged. This is a particularly worrisome development because Julio — muscular, repressed and somber, never cracking a smile — begins to loom more menacing by the hour as Gato deals with a crushing secret that nearly breaks him. 

The growing sense of menace is only relieved by the competition on the soccer field. The action on the barrio's dust-caked fields is fierce and fast. The filmmaking is precise and physical and two actors "do their own stunts," scoring real goals and taking their lumps in the inevitable collisions. 

Gato and Julio eventually have a High Noon moment (or perhaps an "Enter the Dragon" moment) when they rip off their shirts and face off inside a crumbling building for a one-on-one soccer match will decide their futures. This intense scene plays out like a martial arts battle. 

Hermano is a test of family, a test of manhood and a test of love served up in a cauldron of barrio insecurity where the wrong word can mean having your hand smashed by a mallet. Or someone you love being cut down by a bullet. It's a world of sociopathic glue-sniffing children and amoral gangsters covering for one another. 

It's a world you will get to know during the course of Hermano's 97 subtitled minutes. It's a world that will most likely linger in your memory long after you've left the theatre.

New: EYE FROM THE AISLE: Education of a Rake: Sexual Politics hot and edgy at Central Works

By John A. McMullen II
Thursday August 16, 2012 - 12:39:00 PM
Eric Reid and Gabrielle Patacsil
Jim Norrena
Eric Reid and Gabrielle Patacsil


There seems to be something erotic about politics. Kissinger said that power is the ultimate aphrodisiac. Hell, even the open SF Sex Club is named “The Power Exchange.” 

THE EDUCATION OF A RAKE at Central Works through August 26, like the Hogarth painting it invokes, paints the progress from his top-of-the-heap to his walk-of-shame from the inside. When I watch the procession of Spitzers and Weiners, I always want to be a fly on the wall in the bedroom and boardroom preceding the parade and this 65 minute drama gives us an imaginative keyhole view.  

William Bivins has written a complex and stimulating situational play about a young and dashing Congressman who is in the vanguard of pushing through the Equal Rights Amendment. 

However, his personal philandering seems to be in opposition with his espousal of the Feminist cause and quickly becomes a potential source of scandal that might doom its passage. 

It is a short play—a little more than an hour—but very fulfilling in its conflict and exploration of the personal, political, and psychological labyrinth of the three characters. 

Director Jan Zvaifler has cast it well and moves the actors around the small space in the Berkeley City Club with naturalistic aplomb. The direction of intention as well as movement is invisible, which is a compliment to the director. 

The set is a classy white carpet, two stylish black leather chairs. In the preset, the chairs are bedecked with a hot red bra on one and matching panties on the other. It sets the mood well. The lighting and sound supports the drama invisibly and effectively. 

The investigation into political ambition, suppressed anger, and the hubris of the inability to apologize is at the core of the drama. 

His wounded lover threatens exposure while his older female mentor/lover negotiates. 

The philosophical part is the disparity of views between the women. The young injured woman has a world view that denies equality: that men and women are different, the playing field should not be artificially leveled, and that the clash and meld of the lingam and the yoni rules the universe naturally. 

This world-view dumbfounds the elder politician woman as a reversal of 100 years of feminist progress.  

The trio of actors is outstanding: Eric Reid has cinematic charisma in his mixed race good looks, easy naturalism, and compelling sexual allure. Mr. Reid is alternatively full-of-himself, seductive, wheeling-dealing, threatening, while he rails against being humbled by a woman; though the turmoil does not dampen his reflexive flirting with any new, nubile passer-by. 

Gabrielle Patacsil too, has a naturalism and sexuality that matches his, not traditionally beautiful but with looks that are difficult to turn the eye away from, and Ms. Patacsil is wholly convincing in the “hell hath no fury” role that comes from a broken heart. In one cinematically staged moment, in an over-the-shoulder shot by Director Zvaifler, her cowering before his unseen fury wrenches the guts of anyone who has been in that situation.  

Sally Dana* is sly, wise and practiced in the juggling act between personal and professional, with a womanly beauty that easily makes it believable that she and the Congressman are lovers. Ms. Dana plays well the comedy Bivins includes, but sometimes comes close to playing it for laughs. 

Central Works once again displays why it won the prestigious Paine Knickerbocker Award in 2011, named for the former theatre critic of the S.F. Chronicle, and presented annually to a person or organization that has made a continuing contribution to Bay Area theatre. Its continuing nurturance of new plays produced in a grand if diminutive space is a Berkeley treasure. It is hard to imagine not liking this play, and it will surely give you something to chat about afterwards. 

THE EDUCATION OF A RAKE by William Bivins 

Directed by Jan Zvaifler 

At Central Works through August 26 

At the BERKELEY CITY CLUB, 2315 Durant Avenue, Berkeley 

Thursday, Friday, Saturday at 8 p.m. & Sunday at 5 p.m. 

www.centralwork.org / 510.558.1381 

Costumes by Tammy Berlin, lights by Gary Graves, sound by Gregory Scharpen and stage management by Stephanie Alyson 

WITH: Sally Dana*, Gabrielle Patacsil and Eric Reid 

(*-member AEA) 

John A. McMullen II is a member of SFBATCC. Editing by E J Dunne.

Don't Miss This: In the Dog Days

By Dorothy Snodgrass
Tuesday August 14, 2012 - 10:36:00 AM

I'm quite certain that most of you are well aware that the month of August is commonly referred to as "dog days." Romans referred to dog days as "dies caniculares"; the name coming from the ancient belief that Sirus, also called the "Dog Star", was responsible for the hot, sultry period of summer stagnation. Happily, we in the bay area are blessed with delightfully cool weather. O.k, enough of my lecture—let's get down to the interesting, entertaining and FREE performances lined up this month. 

Yoshi's Jazzfest — celebrating 40 years in the Bay Area. August 26th, noon - 5 p.m . on the Waterfront at Jack London Square. www.Yoshis.com

Summer Cinema on Center Street. The Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive offers movies under the stars to celebrate its future residence. Movies will be projected on the exterior wall of the new building. August 18, "The Brain That Wouldn't Die." (510) 642-5249). 

Oakland Pride, "It's a Celebration," Sept 2nd, Labor Day Weekend, Uptown Oakland, 19th & Franklin. www.OaklandPride.Org. 

Summer Sounds Concerts, Free outdoor concerts, every Wednesday from noon - 1 p.m. on the City Center Plaza Stage. 

Pedalfest, a free celebration of of bikes, cycling, food, family and fun, on the Waterfront at Jack London Square, Saturday, August 18, 11 a.m. - 8 p.m. www. pedalfestyjacksondon.com. 

"Rigoletto," S. F. Opera, Sept. 7, 8, 11, 12, l5, 16, l8, 19, 21, 23, 25, 30, (some matinees). (415) 864-3330. 

Open Opera, Dimond Park, August 19 (510) 482-7831 

"The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaulier — From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk, " deYoung. Museum, closes August 19. deyoungmuseum.or. 

Free Counseling for Landlords and Tenants, Berkeley Public Library, every 3rd Saturday of the month, 11 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. (510) 981-6100. 

My list is someone short I fear, but bear in mind, these are "dog days." I hope you find some activity to your liking.

Theater Review: 'Education of a Rake' by Central Works at the Berkeley City Club

By Ken Bullock
Sunday August 12, 2012 - 11:29:00 AM

"You're dumping me for the ERA and your wife?" 

"The kind of thing you get crucified on Facebook for ... " 

William Bivin's script for 'Education of a Rake,' as staged by Central Works through their unique collaborative process, follows Congressman Roy Armstrong (Eric Reid) as he attempts to find a little domestic tranquility on the verge of his push to revitalize the Equal Rights Amendment—by telling his mistress Desiree (Gabrielle Patacall) they have to cool it till the campaign's over. But "we can text each other!" 

Starting with this confrontation—something ludicrous, if exaggeratedly normal, by D. C. standards—it begins to go ballistic after both Desiree and Armstrong's wife/mentor Joyce (Sally Dana) fly off the handle—bad in Desiree's case, as she reveals there's a very intimate phone tape she's ready to go public with ... 

(Desiree, as Joyce later realizes when she confronts her—with a start—seems to have fallen for her Congressional squeeze, resenting his endearments to his wife, whom he calls "darling," versus "baby" for Miss D. "Baby's entry level," she complains.) 

The dialogue's consistently amusing, often pointed—but the real theatricality, what separates the play from, say, a better than average rerun of 'The West Wing,' is in the direction by Central Works cofounder Jan Zvaifler, and in the doubling of the women onstage into two roles each—Dana also plays Senator Margaret Clifton, with a Texas drawl—and a bright red suitjacket, the sole efflorescence of the play (Tammy Berlin's excellent costumery)—and Patacall plays her office girl—an intern, perhaps?—Gretchen, whose adoring words catch Roy's ever-roaming ear ... 

And in the character and dual reactions to everything of Joyce, a real "political operative" if there ever was one. When Roy reveals the affair, ready to go media viral, to her—not his first peccadillo as we see—she quickly swerves between releasing her pent-up rage and hyperfocusing on the tactics needed to escape or ease the situation, with a kind of fascinated glee. 

(In this, as in her performance as a whole, Sally Dana's superb, from the moment she enters in loungewear, holding champagne glasses to greet Roy home, unaware yet what's brewing, to her high-heeled walk after the latest grimace at her errant man ... The role's the motor of the play—Joyce serving as in-person go-between, hilariously, in the final confrontation between Roy and Desiree, and Dana makes the most of it, elicitinging even better performances from the others, together with Zvaifler's spendid staging and direction, that uses every bit of the old salon at the City Club Central Works calls home ... ) 

In an Election Year—and after the death of Gore Vidal, almost inexplicable before the post-Labor Day heat of the campaigning—Bivins' play as realized by Central Works is a refreshing, toss-off cynical entertainment with some soul to the Washingtonian haze of personality—and literally backroom dealing. It would stand up decently beside Vidal's savvy 'The Best Man.' which Aurora staged convincingly (and hilariously) a few years ago. Everybody brings something to the show, from the cast (all fist-timers with Central Works, but with experience in Bivins' previous plays—Reid with several lead roles already under his belt), to cofounder Gary Graves' lighting, to Greg Scharpen's excellent music track and sound effects. 

Will Roy Armstrong save his marriage? ... Keep his concubine? ... Save his career, or prove his lifelong dedication to the ERA by resigning? ... Will he call that cute intern again? Tune in at the City Club! 

Central Works at the Berkeley City Club, 2315 Durant Avenue (near the UC campus), Thursdays through Saturdays at 8, Sundays at 5, through August 26. $25 in advance; $$25-$14 sliding scale at the door. 558-1381; centralworks.org